Division Series heroes and goats
Five of Andre Ethier's six hits against St. Louis went for extra bases
Carlos Gonzalez announced his presence as a future star by hitting .588/.632/.882
All four LDS hinged on blown saves (Nathan, Franklin, Papelbon and Street)
Postseason baseball is filled with thrilling highs and lows, and each October produces its own heroes and goats, many of them victims (or victors) of timing and small sample sizes. Nonetheless, it's always fun seeing which players seem to rise to the occasion and, more sadistically, which appear to fold under the pressure. With one round of this year's postseason in the books, here are the heroes and goats of the 2009 League Division Series.
Andre Ethier, Dodgers: Five of Ethier's six hits against St. Louis went for extra bases. His resultant 1.333 slugging percentage was the best in this year's LDS, part of a dizzying .500/.571/1.333 line and an LDS-leading 1.905 OPS. He scored five of the Dodgers' 13 runs in the series, and his fourth-inning homer was the only run the Dodgers got off Adam Wainwright in Game 2.
Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: Rodriguez went 0 for 6 in his first two at-bats of each game against the Twins, but 5 for 5 thereafter. He drove in six of the Yankees' 15 runs, three of them with two outs. His other three RBIs came on a game-tying two-run home run off Joe Nathan in the bottom of the ninth in Game 2 and a game-tying solo home run off Carl Pavano in the seventh inning of Game 3. He hit .455 on the series and slugged an even 1.000.
Cliff Lee, Phillies: Lee is looking like an all-time great deadline acquisition after shutting out the Rockies in Game 1 then holding them to just one earned run in 7 1/3 innings in Game 4, finishing his LDS work with a 1.10 ERA.
Bobby Abreu, Angels: The eternally underrated Abreu hit .556/.692/.778 in the Angels' three-game sweep of the Red Sox, but his biggest hit came with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 3 when he lifted a double off Jonathan Papelbon and the Green Monster to cut the Red Sox's lead to 6-5, setting up Vlad Guerrero's game- and series-winning single.
Derek Jeter, Yankees: Jeter hit a game-tying two-run home run to start the Yankees' scoring in Game 1 and batted .400/.538/.900 on the series, but it was his heady defensive play that again took the fore. With two outs in the fourth inning of Game 2, he snuck behind Carlos Gomez, who took too large a turn around second on a single to right by Matt Tolbert, and caught Gomez off base for the third out a split second before Delmon Young crossed home with what would have been the first run of the game. With the Yankees nursing a slim 2-1 lead in the eighth inning of Game 3, he fired home instead of to first on an apparent groundout to short by Young to catch Nick Punto taking too large a turn around third.
John Lackey and Jered Weaver, Angels: The top two men in the Halos' rotation combined to hold the powerful Red Sox offense to one run on six hits in 14 2/3 innings in the first two games of their sweep of Boston.
Jayson Werth, Phillies: Werth hit .444/.583/.778 in last year's World Series and picked up right where he left off in this year's LDS, hitting .357/.500/.929 with a triple, a pair of homers, and the series-winning hit off Huston Street with two outs in the ninth inning of Game 4.
Vicente Padilla, Dodgers: The Cardinals may have been dead men walking anyway after their gut-wrenching loss in Game 2, but it was Padilla -- picked off the scrap heap in late August -- who drove the last nail in their coffin with seven shutout innings in Game 3.
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies: The Rockies' defeat was no fault of Gonzalez's. The key player received by Colorado in the Matt Holliday trade announced his presence as a future star in the league by hitting .588/.632/.882 in the LDS against the Phillies with a pair of stolen bases. Indeed, it was Gonzalez who stood on second base representing the tying run when Brad Lidge struck out Troy Tulowitzki to end the Rockies' season.
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