Sunday, November 1, 2015

Junior, King Felix and the Big Unit Lead M's to Big Finish

Give Felix Hernandez some run support and he can win a few games -- 27 to be exact!

And let Ken Griffey Jr. play a 162-game schedule in his prime and he can set a new single-season home run record -- 74!

Back him with the Mariners' all-time best lineup and Randy Johnson can post a new career high in wins with 25!

Led by Hernandez, Griffey and Johnson, the all-time Mariners compiled a 128-34 record against the team's 2014 schedule, with a few more interleague games thrown into the mix. The initial motivation behind this "what if" APBA baseball game replay project was to see how many games King Felix could win if he was backed by the best Mariners team ever. He didn't disappoint.

King Felix ('14) piled up a 27-2 record with a 1.64 ERA and 276 K's in 31 starts. He completed 12 games, including 9 shutouts. It helps to have a great defense behind you as well.

Griffey ('94) was the squad's offensive MVP, compiling a .291/.364/.747 slash line to go with his 74 home runs, 139 runs and 155 RBI, showing what might have been during the strike-shortened 1994 season.

Johnson ('95) combined with Hernandez to provide a potent 1-2 pitching punch -- posting a 25-3 record with an ERA of 2.41 and 271 strikeouts in 32 starts. He completed 6 games, with 4 shutouts.

The rest of the M's powerful lineup featured:

  • Designated hitter Edgar Martinez ('95) -- .306/.441/.573 with 106 runs, 97 RBI, 56 doubles and 27 home runs.
  • Leadoff man Ichiro Suzuki ('04) -- .326/.354/.425 with 215 hits, 107 runs and 43 stolen bases.
  • Second baseman Robinson Cano ('13) -- .317/.374/.560 with 114 runs, 113 RBI 54 doubles and 28 home runs.
  • Third baseman Adrian Beltre ('04) -- .271/.336/.569 with 42 home runs and 101 RBI.
  • Outfielder Jay Buhner ('96) -- .219/.291/.523 with 37 home runs and 101 RBI.
  • Shortstop Omar Vizquel ('92) -- .296/.331/.372 with 68 runs and 41 stolen bases.
  • First baseman Alvin Davis ('87) -- .274/.352/.524 with 27 home runs and 93 RBI.
  • Catcher Dan Wilson ('96) -- .212/.259/.341 with 13 homers and 68 RBI.
As a team the Mariners batted .274/.339/.493 with 273 home runs. The M's averaged nearly 6 runs per game.

Meanwhile, the pitching staff held opponents to half that, posting a 2.74 ERA. Other starters included Hisashi Iwakuma ('13) at 18-5, Jamie Moyer ('03) at 15-5 and Mark Langston ('87) at 12-2.

The bullpen was led by J.J. Putz ('07) at 5-3 with 32 saves; Jeff Nelson ('95) at 6-5 with 5 saves; and Mike Schooler ('90) at 6-0 with 4 saves. 

For complete season stats, click here

This replay had it all: Lots of offense, great pitching and plenty of clutch hitting and defense. And it showed that even the most powerful teams still have off days from time to time ...

Nevertheless, they had a pair of ridiculous win streaks -- 15 games in April and 19 in a row in July/August.

This was a treat, from start to finish. And makes me wonder "what if" for my next project ...

-- 66 --

Thursday, September 3, 2015

King Felix Dominates with Perfect Game in 2014 Mariners Replay

It was like deja vu all over again ... as Felix Hernandez threw his second perfect game in three years at Safeco Field.

This time, King Felix dominated the Astros in an 11-0 victory on May 23, 2014 during an APBA baseball game replay of the Mariners' 2014 season. (In real life, Hernandez tossed his perfect game Aug. 15, 2012 in a 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.)

Against the Astros, Hernandez finished with 15 strikeouts, including shortstop Jonathan Villar for the final out of the game. Catcher Jason Castro and designated hitter Matt Dominquez each struck out in all three at-bats versus The King.

The Mariners' offense was led by third baseman Adrian Beltre, who went 5-for-5 with a double, a home run, three runs scored and five RBI. Ichiro Suzuki added three hits, scoring a pair of runs, hitting two doubles and stealing a base. In all, the Mariners pounded Houston's pitchers for 14 hits.

Compiling double digit hits is practically a given every game for this Mariners lineup, which is comprised of the team's all-time greatest players, from Ken Griffey Jr. in center field to Edgar Martinez at DH. Second baseman Robinson Cano opened the scoring in this game with a two-run home run in the first inning. First baseman Alvin Davis broke the game open in the fifth inning with a two-run double that extended the M's lead to 7-0.

The victory, the team's 11th in a row, moved the Mariners' win-loss record to 41-6 on the season, as they continue to crush their opponents almost every outing. And just a month earlier, Randy Johnson hurled a no-hitter against the Marlins in Miami. So their pitching has been OK, too.

For me, this was the second time I had experienced King Felix tossing a perfect game, though I must say the "actual" game against the Rays was a tad more dramatic! My wife and I had the good fortune to be in Seattle back in August 2012 and just happened to stop by for the afternoon game before heading back to our home in Oregon.

And back in the day in what very well may have been my first MLB game, I witnessed Steve Busby's second no-hitter. I was one of 9,019 fans at old Milwaukee County Stadium on June 19, 1974 who saw Busby and the Royals defeat my beloved Brew Crew 2-0.

As an 11-year-old grade schooler I remember leaving the stadium disappointed that the Brewers had lost ... again. (They went 76-86 that year, though they had the beginnings of their Bambi's Bombers days with the arrival of Robin Yount, Don Money and Gorman Thomas ...)

I recall my dad responding with something like ... "The Brewers may have lost, but you got to see some baseball history tonight ..." (About five years earlier, he had had the good fortune to be at Wrigley Field for Ken Holtzman's first no-hitter, a 3-0 win over the Braves on Aug. 19, 1969.)

The way things are going in this Mariners replay, I have a feeling that Felix just might get that elusive first 20-win season ... Now that would be some history!

(Note: As of this blog post, the Mariners have gone on to build a 69-16 record and Felix stands at 16-0! For the complete stats, click here.)


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Johnson Tosses No-hitter; All-time Mariners Stretch Win Streak to 12

As a big fan of The Big Unit, it was a thrill to have Randy Johnson toss a no-hitter in this APBA baseball game replay of the Mariners 2014 season.

What's that, you say? Johnson retired after the 2009 season ... Correct. However, Johnson is one of my starters as I replay the M's 2014 schedule using the team's all-time greats. So in addition to Johnson on the mound, Ken Griffey Jr. is taking care of centerfield, and Edgar Martinez has the DH duties covered.

As you might expect, playing the Mariners greats has resulted in an above-average number of victories, including 12-straight on the current win streak! As of April 20, 2014, the Mariners stand at 16-2, after a three-game sweep of the Miami Marlins.

Johnson highlighted the series with his no-no in game two, a 5-0 win. In holding the Marlins hitless, Johnson piled up 12 strikeouts, while walking only five batters. He struck out the side in both the fourth and the seventh innings. Giancarlo Stanton went down swinging three times, as did catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia (I just love to say and type that guy's last name ...).

Johnson was aided in the victory by a trio of home runs: a two-run blast by first baseman Alvin Davis in the second; a solo homer by Martinez in the fourth; and another two-run smash by Griffey in the fifth.

The Marlins offense struggled, to say the least. The day before, Jaime Moyer held them to a single hit while striking out 15! Leadoff hitter Christian Yelich fell victim to Moyer by striking out four times.

With a team batting average of .284 and an ERA of 2.77, it's not hard to believe the M's good fortune, so far.

Johnson's no-hitter improved his record to 3-0 with a 1.34 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 33-plus innings. King Felix Hernandez has been equally effective, matching Johnson's 3-0 record with a 1.75 ERA and 39 K's in 36 innings over four starts.

This replay got started when I wondered how many wins might Felix have had last year if given some offense. So I surrounded The King with the best the Mariners could muster, and the results are evident.

Ichiro Suzuki is batting .342 in the leadoff spot, with 11 runs scored and 10 RBI. He's followed by second baseman Robinson Cano (.286, 9 runs, 13 RBI); Griffey (.231, 15 runs, 8 RBI); Martinez (.435, 13 runs, 12 RBI) and third baseman Adrian Beltre (.352, 11 runs, 13 RBI). Beltre leads the team in home runs with six, followed by Griffey with four, and Davis, Cano and Jay Buhner with three apiece.

Hernandez is pitching the same games in the replay that he did in real-life during 2014, including facing the actual lineups of his opponents. For the rest of the games, I've filled in Johnson and the rest of the starters against the lineups/pitchers the Mariners faced last year. I'll be limiting pitchers to actual innings pitched and batters to their actual ABs.

For complete stats, click here.


Friday, July 10, 2015

King Felix Teams Up with Mariners' All-time Greats in 2014 Replay

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison via
Just how many games could King Felix win if the Mariners ever provided him with some offense? We're going to find out ...

I've just embarked on an APBA baseball game replay of the Mariners 2014 schedule ... with some modifications.

The biggest change? Instead of the anemic M's offense that has plagued the franchise for years, Seattle will be fielding its all-time greats.

That's right, after leading off with Ichiro and Robinson Cano, opponents will face the likes of Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and Adrian Beltre in the meat of the batting order.

Felix Hernandez (AXYZ) will be joined in the pitching rotation by Randy Johnson (AXYZ), Hisashi Iwakuma (AYZ), Mark Langston (BXY), Jaime Moyer (B) and James Paxton (AXZ). The bullpen's not too shabby, either, with the likes of J.J. Putz (A&CXYZ), Jeff Nelson (AXYZ) and "The Sheriff," Norm Charlton (BXY).

I'm looking forward to a lineup something like this:

1. Ichiro ('04)  RF
2. Robinson Cano ('13) 2B
3. Ken Griffey Jr. ('94) CF
4. Edgar Martinez ('95) DH
5. Adrian Belte ('04) 3B
6. Jay Buhner ('96) or Mike Cameron ('02) LF
7. Alvin Davis ('87), Bruce Bochte ('79), John Olerud ('93) or Tino Martinez ('95) 1B
8. Omar Vizquel ('92) or Craig Reynolds ('78) SS
9. Dan Wilson ('96)

The bench includes the pride of Corvallis, Ore., Harold Reynolds ('87), Raul Ibanez ('06) and Bret Boone ('01).

Notice anyone in particular missing? Let's just say I have a hard time penciling A-Rod into the lineup after his year-long suspension and all the shenanigans that surrounded it ... So Alex Rodriguez will not be involved in this quest ...

The most wins that King Felix has tallied in a season was 19 in 2009. I'm hoping with this supporting cast he can top that. And I'm banking on The Big Unit giving him a run for most wins on the staff.

Update: Eight games into the replay and Felix is 2-0 with a shutout, 1.00 ERA and 18 K's in 18 innings. For all the team stats, click here. 


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Giants Triumph in Great Teams Tourney

Jeff Kent's solo home run in the top of the 10th inning propelled the all-time-great Giants to a 9-8 win over the best-of-the-best St. Louis Cardinals and a 4-2 series win in a GTOP2 APBA tournament.

After 39 games in the double-elimination tourney, the Giants and Cardinals were the last teams standing, having defeated the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs and A's along the way.Ultimately, the Giants scored 48 runs in the six-game finale.

Despite the prevalence of plenty of A&C and A-grade pitchers, the Great Teams of the Past set is noteworthy for all the hitting! No doubt about it, this is my new favorite set of APBA cards!

More details to come ...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Edgar Martinez HR's Lead Puerto Rico All-stars Past Dominican Republic

Former Seattle Mariners standout Edgar Martinez hit a pair of home runs to lead a team of Puerto Rican all-stars to a win over players from the Dominican Republic in an APBA baseball game featuring Latin players.

Martinez, who was born in New York City but grew up in Puerto Rico, lead off the bottom of the seventh inning with a home run off Dominican starter Pedro Martinez. The home run by Edgar Martinez tied the game at 3-3.

Martinez stroked another solo home run the next inning off reliever Francisco Cordero. Puerto Rico went on to win 6-4.

One of the best parts of the APBA baseball game is the ability to create all sorts of fantasy teams. Lately, I've been going through all my sets -- about 20 seasons ranging from 1949 to 2014 -- to create teams of players born in Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Cuba.

All the squads are essentially all-star teams populated by assorted hall-of-famers and grade-A pitchers. (And easily identified using the sorted lists on Baseball Almanac and Baseball Reference!)

So, for example, Puerto Rico's starting lineup featured:

Roberto Alomar, 2B
Bernie Williams, CF
Roberto Clemente, RF
Edgar Martinez, DH
Juan Gonzalez, LF
Carlos Delgado, 1B
Mike Lowell, 3B
Ivan Rodriguez, C
Ivan DeJesus, SS

In this contest, Javier Vazquez (BXYZ) started the game, yielding to relief from Eduardo Rodriguez and Ramon Hernandez.

Among those available on the bench? Yadier Molina and Jorge Posada, Orlando Cepeda, Carlos Beltran and Sixto Lezcano, one of my favorite players from the late-'70s Brewers teams!

In this particular game, Dominican second baseman Robinson Cano got the visitors on the board  with a two-run home run in the first inning. Lead-off man center fielder Cesar Cedeno had reached on an error by left fielder Gonzalez to start the game.

Williams and Gonzalez each hit a solo home run for Puerto Rico to tie the game at 2-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning.

After a walk to Dominican DH Manny Ramirez in the seventh, pinch runner Alfonso Soriano stole second, went to third on a deep fly ball to right by Vlad Guerrero, then scored on a balk by Vazquez.

Martinez tied the game in the bottom of the seventh with his first homer. Gonzalez followed with a single. Jose Cruz then came on to pinch run, stealing second. Delgado walked. While I seldom call for a sacrifice, Lowell executed a perfect bunt, advancing the runners to second and third. Rodriquez then hit a single to drive in one run, and Beltran followed with a sacrifice fly to score Delgado and give Puerto Rico a 5-3 lead.

In the top of the eighth, Cedeno lead off the inning with a single off Rodriquez, who gave way to Ramon Hernandez. After Cano advanced Cedeno to second with a grounder to second, Albert Pujols drove in Cedeno with a single before Hernandez ended the threat. Score: 5-4.

Edgar Martinez closed out the scoring with his second home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Hernandez returned to the mound in the ninth, earning the save. Rodriguez got the win over Pedro Martinez.

I'm looking forward to many interesting match-ups in the weeks ahead.

Here are the rosters:


C-Ivan Rodriguez, Yadier Molina, Jorge Posada
1B-Orlando Cepeda, Carlos Delgado
2B-Roberto Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Joey Cora, Rey Sanchez
SS-Ivan DeJesus, Alex Cora
3B-Mike Lowell, Edgar Martinez
OF-Carlos Beltran, Roberto Clemente, Jose Cruz, Juan Gonzalez, Sixto Lezcano, Bernie Williams

SP-Javier Vazquez (BXYZ), John Candelaria* (AYZ), Jaime Navarro (BZ), Ed Figueroa (BZ), Juan Pizarro (C(B*)W)
RP-Javier Lopez (A), Juan Romero (A&CX), Luis DeLeon (AYZ), Eduardo Rodriguez (D(B*)Y), Willie Hernandez (C(B*)YZ), Pedro Feliciano (BXZ), Roberto Hernandez (BKY), Ramon Hernandez (A&CYZ)

*Note: Candelaria, like Edgar Martinez, was born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents.


C-Tony Pena,  Miguel Olivo, Wilin Rosario
1B-Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Edwin Encarnacion
2B-Robinson Cano, Juan Uribe
SS-Miguel Tejada, Hanley Ramirez
3B-Adrian Beltre, Aramis Ramirez
OF-Cesar Cedeno, Nelson Cruz, Cesar Geronimo, Pedro Guerrero, Vlad Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Alfonso Soriano, Sammy Sosa

SP-Juan Marichal (AYZ), Pedro Martinez (AXYZ), Johnny Cueto (AX), Joaquin Andujar (AZ), Ubaldo Jimenez (AX), Mario Soto (BXYZ), Joel Pineiro (BY)
RP-Bill Castro (AZ), Armando Benitez (AX), Fernando Rodney (A&BXYZ), Francisco Cordero (AX), Rafael Soriano (A&CXZ)


C-Miguel Montero, Victor Martinez
1B-Miguel Cabrera, Andres Galarraga
2B-Marcos Scutaro, Jose Altuve
SS-Dave Concepcion, Asdrubal Cabrera
3B-Pablo Sandoval, Melvin Mora
OF-Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Gonzalez, Bobby Abreu, Gerardo Parra, Endy Chavez, Franklin Gutierrez

SP-Felix Hernandez (AXYZ), Johan Santana (AXZ), Kelvim Escobar (BY), Freddy Garcia (BZ), Anibal Sanchez (AXY)
RP-Yoevis Medina (AXW), Edward Mujica (BYZ), Jose Mijares (AX), Ugueth Urbina (BXYZ), Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez (A&CXYW)


C-Yasmani Grandal, Brayan Pena, Paul Casanova
1B-Rafael Palmeiro, Jose Abreu, Kendrys Morales
2B-Tony Taylor, Tito Fuentes
SS-Bert Campaneris, Yunel Escobar, Yuniesky Betancourt, Orlando Martinez
3B-Tony Perez, Jose Iglesias
OF-Yasiel Puig, Minnie Minoso, Tony Oliva, Yoenis Cespedes, Jose Canseco, Jorge Soler, Leonys Martin

SP-Luis Tiant (AY), Mike Cuellar (AYZ), Jose Fernandez (AXY), Roenis Elias (CY), Livan Hernandez (C),
RP-Tony Fossas (A&CXYZ), Aroldis Chapman (A&CXY), Vladimir Nunez (BY), Diego Segui (C(B*)X), Oscar Zamora (BZ), Jose Contreras (BXZ)


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Minoso, Cuban All-stars Split Series vs. '79 World Champs

Four home runs, including one by "Mr. White Sox" Minnie Minoso, were enough for a collection of Cuban all-stars to hang on for a victory over the 1979 World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates in a game of APBA baseball.

Minnie Minoso
Minoso, the first black player in White Sox history and a nine-time MLB all-star left fielder, died March 1, in Chicago. His passing at the age of 92 offered an opportunity to honor his outstanding career and his impact on Major League Baseball.

Minoso is just one of two dozen players born in Cuba that I organized into a team of APBA all-stars from the sets in my collection spanning 1959 to 2014. Among the others on the team? Hall-of-Famer Tony Perez, shortstop Bert Campaneris and Twins great Tony Oliva. Modern stars on the squad include Yasiel Puig, Aroldis Chapman and Yoenis Cespedes.

(In similar fashion, I've got some Northwest all-star teams comprised of players born in Oregon and Washington.)

For whatever reason, this weekend I matched the Cuban all-stars against the "We Are Family" World Champions, which featured their own Hall-of-Famers, Willie "Pops" Stargell and Bert Blyleven, along with Dave Parker, Phil "Scrap Iron" Garner and leadoff phenom Omar Moreno. The Pirates' deep pitching staff also included starter John "Candy" Candelaria and submariner closer Kent Tekulve. (Maybe I was inspired to play the Pirates by Kevin Burghardt's Best Teams of the 1970's tournament!)

The teams split the doubleheader, with the Pirates rallying for a pair of runs in the top of the ninth inning to take game one, 4-3. Cuba earned the win in game two, 7-6.

Game One

The first game featured a pair of lefties on the mound, Candelaria (BZ) vs. Mike Cuellar (AYZ) of the '69 Orioles.

In the bottom of the first, Campaneris led off with a single, and came around to score on a double by the next hitter, Oliva.

The Pirates tied it in the top of the third. Moreno, who walked to start the inning, scored on a double by Parker. Campaneris, of the '74 A's, had a double of his own in the bottom of the third, scoring later on a single by Perez.

Raffy Palmeiro ('95 O's) put Cuba up 3-1 with a solo home run in the sixth as Cuellar seemed to be cruising with a four-hitter heading into the eighth inning.

However, Moreno walked again, stole second, and came home on a single by shortstop Tim Foli. That marked the end of Cuellar's day, as Tony Fossas ('95 Cards) retired the next three hitters -- Parker, Stargell and Bill Madlock.

Still holding a 3-2 lead, Cuba called on Chapman to close the door. But Bill Robinson lead off with a double, then scored on a single by catcher Steve Nicosia. After two outs, Nicosia scored what would be the game-winner on a double by Moreno.

Tekulve earned the save, finishing off Cuba by striking out Perez, Palmeiro and getting Cespedes (2012 A's) to fly to center. Reliever Henry Romo got the victory, Chapman the loss.

Game Two

After going 0-for-4 in the opener, Minoso bounced back with a two-run home run in the third inning of game two to give Cuba a 3-1 lead. Palmeiro got Cuba on the board first with a solo homer in the second inning. He hit his third homer of the day, another solo shot, in the third inning, giving his team a 4-1 lead.

Robinson had put the Pirates on the scoreboard with a solo home run of his own in the bottom of the second inning.

Cuba looked like it would put this one away early as Perez ('69 Reds) pounded a two-run homer in the fifth inning off Blyleven (BY), the Pirate starter. Tony Taylor ('69 Phils) stole his second base of the game and scored in the sixth inning on a sac fly by Cuban starter Jose Fernandez (AXY) of the 2013 Marlins. That made the score 7-1.

Fernandez had already struck out seven batters, when Foli hit a two-out double in the bottom of the sixth and scored when Parker followed with a single. When the Pirates scored three more in the bottom of the seventh, Fernandez gave way to Fossas, who surrendered two more hits and suddenly the Pirates trailed only 7-6. Pittsburgh's four-run inning included doubles by Garner and Foli (his second in two innings) and singles/stolen bases by Madlock to lead off, Robinson and then Moreno.

While Cuba failed to score against the Pirates bullpen, including Jim Bibby, Romo and Tekulve, the Pirates' bats would have to rally once again versus Chapman, who took the loss in game one.

This time, however, Chapman retired the first five batters he faced in the bottom of the eighth and ninth. With two outs, Lee Lacy got a pinch-hit single, then stole second with Moreno at the plate. As Moreno already had scored three runs and driven in two more in two games, he was intentionally sent to first as the potential winning run.

Fortunately for Chapman and his Cuban teammates, Foli struck out to end the game. Fernandez got the win, Chapman the save. Blyleven took the loss. 

Next up? Perhaps a team of all-stars from Venezuela led by Felix Hernandez ...


Friday, February 6, 2015

Padres Win Title in 2015 Preseason Tourney ... Really!

Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Justin Upton give Padres fans three reasons to be
 optimistic about the upcoming baseball season in San Diego. 

Fans of the San Diego Padres have a lot to look forward to this summer, if the APBA Baseball Game is any indication.

The Padres triumphed over the likes of the World Champion Giants, the Seattle Mariners and King Felix, and their West Coast brethren the Oakland A's on the way to winning an eight-term tournament using the newly released 2014 season APBA player cards. The Padres rallied from a 3-0 deficit to defeat Felix Hernandez and the M's 6-5 in the championship matchup.

How did this squad, which finished 77-85 last summer, even make it to the final?

This tourney featured teams comprised of their current 40-man roster using the 2014 player cards. So the Padres offense got a considerable boost with the addition of Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Derek Norris and Wil Myers. The improved offense complemented a strong bullpen, featuring three A relievers (Thayer, Quackenbush and Benoit) along with a pair of B starters, Ian Kennedy and Andrew Cashner.

The other teams included in this tournament, formatted along the lines of the double-elimination College World Series, were the Kansas City Royals, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and my favorite team, the Milwaukee Brewers. While a few squads lost players (e.g. Billie Butler from the Royals to the A's, and Pablo Sandoval from the Giants to the Sox), some saw significant additions, such as Nelson Cruz (double 1's) to the Mariners and Jon Lester (AXZ) to the Cubs.

In addition to current rosters, teams also could use their number-one starter in every game. (No need to rest in APBA!) So Madison Bumgarner started every game for the Giants while King Felix got the call for the M's. The designated hitter also was in use.

Not only was this a fun tournament to see how these "new and improved" teams might fare in 2015, but it also was a great way to get acquainted with the newly minted player cards.

San Diego's road to the title included an opening-round 6-4 win over the A's, followed by a 2-1 victory against the Cubs. The Padres defeated the Giants 2-0 on a three-hit shutout by Kennedy and a two-run single by Kemp.

After an opening round win over the Red Sox, 4-3, the Mariners got bounced to the loser's bracket, falling to the Giants 8-6. The M's rebounded with a 5-3 win over the Cubs; then a 7-1 pasting of the A's in the only blowout of the tourney. The Mariners earned a spot in the title game with a 5-3 revenge victory over the Giants.

Based on these tourney results, it's conceivable that all these teams may meet or exceed their records from last summer, though it may be difficult for the Giants to repeat as champions with the loss of "The Panda" and a weak starting rotation after Bumgarner. In fact, it's hard to believe that the Giants would win the title again in an APBA replay of the 2014 season, given the over-abundance of C starters in their rotation!

Here are some of the highlights:

Giants 5, Royals 3:
Angel Pagan smacks a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Giants and Madison Bumgarner the win in the tourney opener.

Mariners 4, Red Sox 3
New right fielder Seth Smith singles in Robinson Cano with the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. King Felix goes the distance for the win.

Padres 6, A's 4
Justin Upton leads off the second inning with a solo home run, followed by a two-run homer by Yonder Alonso. The Padres score five runs off A's starter Sonny Gray.

Cubs 5, Brewers 4
Cubs second baseman Arismendy Alcantara hits a three-run seventh-inning home run to lead the Cubs to the win. Jon Lester gets the victory, with help from Hector Rondon.

Red Sox 4, Royals 3
David Ortiz hits a three-run homer, driving in Hanley Ramirez and eliminating the Royals. Rick Porcello, acquired from Detroit, gets the win.

A's 4, Brewers 3
Coco Crisp drives in Sam Fuld with a sac fly in the 12th inning for the win over the Brewers. New A's third baseman Brett Lawrie hits a solo home run. Brewers' new first baseman Adam Lind goes 3-for-5, with three doubles, a run and two RBI.

Giants 8, Mariners 6
Pagan is the hero again for the Giants, driving in two runs in the top of the 12th inning to beat the Mariners. For the game Pagan drives in four runs. Justin Ruggiano, obtained from the Cubs, hits a home run for the M's with two out in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings.

Padres 2, Cubs 0
Ian Kennedy, Dale Thayer and Joaquin Benoit shut out the Cubs, with the offense coming in the form of two solo home runs, one by Wil Myers and one by Tommy Medica.

A's 3, Red Sox 2
The A's eliminate the Sox on the strength of another home run by Brett Lawrie, this one a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh off Koji Uehara.

Mariners 5, Cubs 3
The M's score two runs on back-to-back-to-back doubles in the 13th inning by Kyle Seager, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz to drop the Cubs out of the tournament. Cruz added a pair of home runs, driving in four runs. Dominic Leone got the win in relief, with a save by Fernando Rodney. Jorge Soler and Mike Olt homered for the Cubs.

Padres 2, Giants 0
Ian Kennedy knocks the Giants into the loser's bracket with a three-hit shutout over Bumgarner. Kemp drives in both runs with a single in the fourth inning.

Mariners 7, A's 1
Felix Hernandez holds the A's to one run on four hits, and is supported by Seth Smith, who smacks of pair of home runs, and a two-run homer by Cano.

Mariners 5, Giants 3
Nelson Cruz comes through again for the M's, driving in the winning runs with a two-out, two-run double in the top of the 10th inning. Hernandez was cruising until the bottom of the ninth, when Brandon Belt led off with a home run, and Brandon Crawford drove in the tying run with a two-out double. Leone got another win in relief.

Padres 6, Mariners 5
Nelson Cruz hit two more home runs for the Mariners, but it wasn't enough as the Padres rallied in the late innings to win the tournament. The M's took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning. Ex-A's catcher Derek Norris drove in the Padres first run with a single in the fifth. He drove in another with a single in the seventh. In between, Justin Upton hit a sixth-inning home run. The Padres took the lead for good in the bottom of the eighth on a run-scoring single by Wil Myers. Hernandez took the loss for the M's; Kevin Quackenbush got the win in relief, with another save by Benoit.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Clutch Cards Defeat Brewers in '82 Series Replay

ST. LOUIS -- Even 30-plus years later, the Brewers still couldn't get the best of their nemesis, the St. Louis Cardinals.

Behind their aces -- Joaquin Andujar and Bruce Sutter -- the Cards defeated the Brew Crew 3-0 in Game 7 of an APBA Baseball Game World Series replay that matched the real thing, where St. Louis out-dueled the Brewers four games to three in Milwaukee's only trip to the fall classic.

I was hoping the Brewers could reverse the outcome, after piling up 106 wins in my regular season replay. But it was not to be ...

The Cardinals jumped to 2-0 lead by edging the Brewers in the first two games, and had the Brewers playing catch-up the rest of the series. Sutter, the NL's top reliever, earned a save in all four Cardinals victories. Clutch hitting throughout the lineup keyed the Cardinals offense.

Game 1 -- Cards win 3-2, take series lead

George Hendrick drove in a pair of runs in the first inning, and Darrell Porter scored from second base on an error in the sixth to put the Cards ahead 3-2 in their opening game win. Bob Forsch earned the win, pitching 8-plus innings before yielding to Sutter.

Pete Vuckovich took the loss, though matching Forsch almost pitch for pitch. The Brewers scored first, after Paul Molitor led off the game with a single and scored on a double by AL MVP Robin Yount. Fellow all-star Cecil Cooper drove in the tying run with a double in the sixth inning, after a leadoff walk by Yount.

Porter, the former Brewers backstop, lead off the bottom of the sixth with a double. He scored after leftfielder Ben Oglivie bobbled then dropped a fly ball by Lonnie Smith. Forsch and Sutter then did the rest.

Game 2 -- Cards win 3-1, lead series 2-0

But for a ninth-inning solo home run by Oglivie, the Brewers mustered little offense versus Cards starter John Stuper. Once again, the Cards got off to a fast start, with leadoff hitters Tommy Herr and Ken Oberkfell getting on base with a pair of singles, then scoring on sacrifice flyouts by Keith Hernandez and George Hendrick. Hernandez scored an insurance run in the eighth, hitting a single then scoring on a triple by Porter.

After Oglivie's home run, Sutter closed the door on any further comeback by striking out Gorman Thomas and Ted Simmons. Don Sutton took the loss.

Game 3 -- Brewers rally for 8-7 win

It seemed grim for the Brewers as the Cardinals dinged starter Mike Caldwell for six runs in the fourth inning, including a two-run homer by Hendrick and and a two-out, bases-loaded double by Herr to put the Cards ahead 6-2. Andujar was cruising with a 7-2 lead when the Brewers scored three in the bottom of the seventh. After Molitor drove in one with a single, Yount smacked a two-out double to drive in two more. Doug Bair retired Cooper to end the threat and maintain the Cards' 7-5 lead.

Bair, however, surrendered a leadoff walk to Oglivie. After Sutter came on to retire Thomas, designated hitter Don Money and Simmons hit back-to-back home runs to put the Brewers ahead 8-7.

In the top of the ninth, Brewers reliever Jamie Easterly allowed Hendrick to reach first on a single. That prompted a call to the bullpen, and Rollie Fingers. (Note: Unlike in real life, Fingers rallied miraculously from a season-ending injury to pitch in the Series!) Fingers came on to retire the side, including striking out David Green to end the game and get the Brewers back on track. (Note: Green platooned throughout the series. He had been traded to St. Louis two years earlier in the deal that brought the Brewers Simmons, Vuckovich and Fingers!). Easterly got the win in relief, Sutter took the loss.

Game 4 --  Brewers rally again, win 3-2 and even the series

Gorman Thomas hit a solo home run off Doug Bair in the bottom of the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie and even the series at two games apiece. Easterly once again picked up the win in relief, with another save by Fingers.

Both starters -- Moose Haas for the Brewers and Dave LaPoint for the Cards -- gave way to the bullpens after allowing a pair of runs. (Note: LaPoint also had been traded to the Cards from the Brewers in the Fingers deal ... )

Game 5 -- Vuckovich pounded as Cards regain series lead with 8-3 win

Pete Vuckovich took his second loss of the series as he allowed five runs over three-plus innings; the Cards went on to win 8-3. Lonnie Smith went 3-for-4 in the leadoff spot, scoring two runs and driving in another; Porter had a double and a home run, scoring two runs; and McGee added a two-run triple. Forsch got his second win of the series, with another save from Sutter.

Thomas hit his second home run in two games, and Yount added a two-run home run in the seventh that cut the lead to 5-3. But the Cards added three runs in the eighth and ninth to put them one win away from the championship.

Game 6 -- Sutton saves the day as Brewers win 8-2 to force Game 7

Don Sutton held the Cardinals to four hits and a pair of runs in the fourth inning as the Brewers pounded the Cardinals for 12 hits in an 8-2 win. Oglivie got the scoring started with a two-run bomb in the first inning, followed by Thomas' third homer of the series in the third. Simmons drove in two more runs in the third inning to chase Cards starter John Stuper. Cooper went 3-for-5 with a double, a run and two RBI.

Game 7 -- Brewers held scoreless in 3-0 series finale

The Brewers could scatter only six hits as they fell 3-0 to the Cardinals. St. Louis starter Joaquin Andujar got the win, with Sutter coming on to close out the eighth and ninth innings. Willie McGee gave the Cards all the runs they would need with a one-out, bases-loaded single to drive in two runs in the fourth inning off losing pitcher Mike Caldwell.

The Brewers made it exciting to the end, with Oglivie leading off the ninth with a double against Sutter. After a flyout by Money to deep left, Edwards hit a sharp single to left. However, Green gunned down Oglivie at the plate. Sutter then ended the threat and the series by striking out Ted Simmons.

How ironic that so much of the series turned on key plays by players who had been dealt between the teams just two years earlier!

... And so ended my long-awaited replay of the Milwaukee Brewers mythic 1982 season!



Friday, January 2, 2015

Brewers Pile Up 106 Wins in 1982 Season Replay

The Brewers raced to a fast start and never let up on the gas as they cruised to a 106-56 record in this 1982 APBA Baseball Game season replay.

As in real life, the Brewers pounded opponents with their hitting and had plenty of pitching -- especially with the late-season addition of Don Sutton -- to assure Milwaukee the AL East Division title. They outscored their opponents 844-630!

The Brew Crew put an exclamation point on their season by finishing with a three-game road sweep of their closest division rivals, the Baltimore Orioles. The sweep included a 15-5 demolition and a ninth-inning come from behind victory.

Trailing 4-2 in their last at bat, second baseman Jim Gantner led off the inning with a single, followed by a home run by catcher Charlie Moore. After a triple by Marshall Edwards, third baseman/leadoff hitter supreme Paul Molitor drove him in with a single. Pete Vuckovich wrapped up his 22nd win with a one, two, three-out bottom of the ninth.

It's no wonder Vuckovich earned the Cy Young Award, going 22-3 with a 2.76 ERA. He pitched 251 innings in 30 starts, with 17 complete games. Mike Caldwell and Moose Haas contributed 16 wins apiece. Sutton compiled a 5-1 record in his six starts after arriving from Houston.

The bullpen was led by Hall-of-Famer Rollie Fingers, who went 7-9 with 29 saves. Jim Slaton added 3 saves along with his 10-5 record; Dwight Bernard also had 3 saves and a 7-2 win/loss tally.

In the replay, all-star shortstop Robin Yount nearly duplicated his MVP stat line -- batting .346, scoring 124 runs, driving in 117, and smacking 54 doubles, 14 triples and 26 home runs! Molitor, The Igniter, lived up to his nickname, batting .343 and scoring 140 runs! His stats included 230 hits, 86 RBI, 29 doubles, 27 home runs and 42 stolen bases.

First baseman Cecil Cooper and left fielder Ben Oglivie anchored the middle of the lineup. Cooper batted .304 in the three spot, scoring 100 runs, and driving in 115 with 42 doubles and 22 home runs. Oglivie led the team in home runs with 45, matching Cooper with 115 RBI and 101 runs scored.

Center fielder Gorman Thomas contributed 93 RBI, with 27 home runs and 37 doubles. The bottom of the order did its share of damage as well. Catcher Ted Simmons batted .258 with 12 home runs and 67 RBI; Gantner batted .331, scoring 61 and driving in 57; and part-time designated hitter Don Money batted .323 with 16 homers and 59 RBI.

As a team, the Brewers batted a stellar .284, with 202 home runs, a .330 on-base percentage and a .453 slugging percentage. Here's a link to all the stats.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the 1982 Brewers World Series squad is my most favorite, having grown up in Milwaukee. It's surprising it took this long to get to a season replay. I've been playing APBA baseball since 1976.

This is the third season replay I've completed this year, the others being the 2008 Brewers playoff team and the 1969 Cubs, who also managed to win more than 100 games in my replay.

In replaying the 1982 Brewers I used the team's actual starting pitching rotation and opponents' starting lineups. I kept pitchers close of their actual innings pitched; and batters close to their actual number of plate appearances. I also mixed in an interleague schedule, with four games against each of the National League squads.The Brewers went 32-16 against the NL.

I'm looking forward to replaying the 1982 World Series against the Cardinals, who defeated the Brewers in three out of four games during the replay. One twist I plan for the Series is including Rollie Fingers, who missed the actual World Series due to injury. What the heck, it's my replay!

Note: As always, here's a link to my Brewers replay stats ...