Phillies ousted; join high-spending Yankees

Just a night after the Yankees fell just short against the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS, a pair of NL teams got within one run of advancing only to lose Game 5 and be sent home for the year.

The Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks decided that five games weren’t enough, going into extra innings in Miller Park to ultimately decide which team would move onto the NLCS.

The Brewers, who led by one run late in the game, escaped a bases loaded jam in the eighth inning without allowing a run against the heart of the Diamondbacks order but got some unexpected production from the bottom of the lineup in the ninth.

After a Gerardo Parra double and Sean Burroughs single, Willie Bloomquist laid down a safety squeeze to bring home the tying run. The Diamondbacks were unable to capitalize and score more runs when John Axford retired Aaron Hill, Justin Upton and Henry Blanco in order with two men on.

In the bottom of the tenth, Diamondbacks closer J.J. Putz entered the game. After retiring Craig Counsel, he allowed a single to the speedy Carlos Gomez, who promptly stole second base. The next batter, Nyger Morgan shot a ground ball up the middle to score the winning run and send the Brewers to the NLCS with the 3-2 win.

For the Diamondbacks, it was a sour end to a surprisingly terrific season. Picked by many to finish last in the NL West, the D-Backs nearly upset the Brewers to head to the NLCS. Chris Young made a highlight reel catch in the inning, going over his shoulder on a deep fly ball and bringing images of Willie Mays to mind.

In the other NLDS Game 5, Chris Carpenter faced off against Roy Halladay in Philadelphia. Low scoring was to be expected, and it turned out exactly that way with the only run in the 1-0 game being scored in the top of the first by St. Louis.

Rafael Furcal started the game off with a triple for the Cardinals and Skip Schumaker followed with a terrific at-bat against Halladay. After falling behind 0-2, Schumaker fouled off a number of pitches and worked the count to 2-2 before driving a double to right field on the tenth pitch of the at-bat and giving the Cardinals a one run lead.

The Phillies had a couple chances to tie the game early but missed them. Shane Victorino hit a one out double in the second inning but couldn’t advance any farther. The Phillies got runners on first and third with two outs in the fourth but again failed to capitalize when Raul Ibanez flew out to the warning track in right field.

The Cardinals got some terrific defense on the night from their middle infield, and Carpenter just shut the Phillies down after the fourth.  They had just two base-runners in the last five innings, one of whom (Chase Utley) was erased when trying to steal second and the other who reached on a dropped third strike.

Carpenter retired Ryan Howard on a groundball to the second baseman to complete his three hit shutout and send the Cardinals to the NLCS. Howard injured his Achilles tendon on the play and will have an MRI as he was unable to run halfway to first base.

Carpenter allowed just three hits and no walks (one hit batter) while throwing the complete game. Although he struck out only three hitters, he piled up 16 groundouts to send the Phillies and their vaunted pitching staff home.

The Brewers and Cardinals (both from the NL Central) will face off in the NLCS starting Sunday. Zack Greinke will get the nod for the Brewers and will likely face Jaime Garcia.

With the Red Sox (3rd) collapsing before the playoffs began, the Yankees (1st) losing yesterday and the Phillies (2nd) falling in five games to the Cardinals, the three highest spending teams in baseball are all out of the race.

The four remaining playoff teams have spent over $100 Million less than the Yankees, Phillies and Red Sox. The Tigers have the highest payroll of the remaining teams and they rank 10th in the MLB. The Cardinals (11th), Rangers (14th) and Brewers (17th) are all in the middle third of spending, proving once again, money can’t buy playoff wins.

Used with permission of the author.

Brett is the editor and a contributor for www.BravesFTW.com. He has covered MLB and the Braves for numerous websites and is a regular contributor to Sports Climax. Follow Brett on Twitter.

Copyright ©2011 Sports Climax, LLC

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