These players need to step up to push their teams to a pennant
Chone Figgins reached base just once in 13 plate appearances in the ALDS
Phil Hughes was the only Yankee reliever to give up a run against the Twins
Cole Hamels took the only loss by an advancing team thus far this postseason
Yesterday, I took a look at the heroes and goats from this year's Division Series. In doing so, I limited my list of goats to players from the four teams eliminated in the LDS. Given that the four advancing teams lost a combined total of one game in the first round, there were no real goats to speak of on the Angles, Yankees, Phillies and Dodgers, but there were plenty of players who failed to perform up to their usual standard. Given the increased level of competition and the longer, best-of-seven series, these are the players that the League Championship Series participants will need to have step up if they are going to take their respective leagues' pennants.
Chone Figgins: The Angels' leadoff hitter reached base just once in 13 plate appearances in the ALDS, on a walk in the ninth inning of Game 3 against an imploding Jonathan Papelbon. The Rockies' Clint Barmes was the only other starter among the eight playoff teams to go hitless in the first round.
The Second Base Platoon: Maicer Izturis and Howie Kendrick combined to go 2 for 12 (.167) with no walks or extra-base hits in the ALDS, though both stole a base and scored a run.
Scott Kazmir: The Halos' big roster-deadline pickup and supposed AL East-killer (career 3.59 ERA in 23 starts against Boston and 2.67 in 14 starts and one relief appearance against New York) was on the hook for the loss in Game 3 before Papelbon's meltdown. Kazmir allowed five runs in six innings while striking out only one and walking three in a series in which the rest of the Angels' staff combined to allow just two runs in 21 innings (0.86 ERA!) and walk just five.
Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher, Melky Cabrera and Johnny Damon: Nearly half of the Yankees lineup (the bottom third and the No. 2 man) hit just .125/.143/.146 (6 for 48 with two RBIs, two runs scored, one walk and one extra-base hit) in the ALDS against the Twins. Swisher delivered a tie-breaking double in Game 1, then failed to get another hit all series. He and Damon both went 1 for 12 (.083) and Damon had the only walk between them. Cabrera led the Yankees with five strikeouts. Cano was the "best" of the bunch, matching Cabrera's flat .167/.167/.167 line, but with just one K and an RBI. Joe Girardi hasn't announced whether or not he's going to have Jose Molina (0 for 1 and .217/.292/.268 on the season) catch A.J. Burnett again, but unless these four can pick it up, the Yankees won't be able to endure another automatic out in the lineup, particularly not against the Angels pitching, which dominated the Red Sox in their ALDS.
Phil Hughes: During the regular season, top starting pitching prospect Hughes emerged as a nearly unhittable setup man for Mariano Rivera, posting a 1.40 ERA and an 0.86 WHIP while striking out 11.4 men per nine innings in his 44 relief appearances. In the ALDS, however, he was the only Yankee reliever to give up a run. In fact, the Yankees allowed just five runs in the entire series, one each by the three starting pitchers and two by Hughes, who gave up five hits and a walk in his two innings of work.
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