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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Heisman Watch - MLB Comes Down to the Game 162 -Buckeyes in the NFL



Down to the wire again: Playoff fates on the line in Game 162
Five thoughts on the playoff picture after the Rays and Red Sox both won in the American League, and the Cardinals won while the Braves lost in the National League.

1. This will be the eighth consecutive year at least one playoff entrant is decided on the regular season's final day. In each of the last seven seasons, at least one playoff spot remained up for grabs on the final day of the season, and that streak is now eight, as neither wild card has been clinched. The Rays and Red Sox are tied in the AL; the Braves and Cardinals are tied in the NL.
The great appeal of both March Madness and the NFL playoffs is their one-game, winner-take-all approach, and baseball could have a taste of that this week. In 2007, '08 and '09 baseball saw a 163rd game added to the regular season, twice to decide the AL Central and once to determine the NL wild card.
Such a scenario is in play this season, with a twist -- if the AL teams both win or both lose and the NL teams also remain in sync, then baseball could have two one-game playoffs on Thursday. It could be a preview of what's to come every year if a second wild card is added to each league, as has been rumored to happen in the upcoming new collective bargaining agreement.
(Major League Baseball announced Tuesday afternoon that, if necessary, the AL one-game playoff would be 4 p.m. Eastern at Tampa Bay's Tropicana Field and the NL game would be at 8 Eastern at St. Louis' Busch Stadium; both sites were determined by head-to-head record.)

2. Cardinals show more fight than Braves in NL wild-card race. Here's one difference between Atlanta and St. Louis right now. The Braves, who are 9-17 in September, fell behind the Phillies 6-0 after five innings and did little to retaliate before falling 7-1 (RECAP | BOX). They were retired in order for four straight innings before Martin Prado hit a meaningless solo homer in the ninth for their only run. Sure, they were facing a tough starter in Philadelphia's Roy Oswalt, but they only scratched out four hits and one walk for the entire game.
The Cardinals, who are 17-8 this month, fell behind the Astros 5-0 after three innings and did something about it, roaring back for five runs in the fourth inning and eight more runs later in the game for the eventual 13-6 win (RECAP | BOX). Granted, they were facing a middling starter in rookie Henry Sosa, but they are also in the midst of team's best offensive month since April.
In fact, St. Louis has scored the second-most runs in the NL this month (120) while the Braves have scored the 15th most (84). Neither, however, will face a first-rate starting pitcher on Wednesday. Atlanta's opponent, Joe Blanton, has a 5.03 ERA and has made just one start, which lasted two innings on Saturday, since May 14. Houston's Brett Myers has a 7-13 record and a 4.31 ERA, although he has allowed just one earned run in each of his last five starts spanning 36 1/3 innings.

3. The Rays and Red Sox will send their Opening Day southpaws to the hill with the season on the line. Home runs ruled Tuesday for the wild-card contenders: the Red Sox hit four, including the first two of rookie catcher Ryan Lavarnway's career, in their 8-7 victory over the Orioles (RECAP | BOX); the Rays hit two in their 5-3 defeat of the Yankees (RECAP | BOX), with the decisive blow coming in the seventh inning when Matt Joyce hit a three-run blast off reliever Rafael Soriano.
Both the Sox and Rays have their top lefty starter taking the ball -- Jon Lester for Boston, David Price for Tampa Bay -- but the quality of their opponents could vary considerably. The Sox are facing an Orioles team that, though it has played well in September, is a distant last place in the division but will play everyone and relish the role of spoiler. Alfredo Simon, who has been the team's No. 4 starter since July, takes the ball. His only start against the Sox was his first, back on July 9 when he allowed three runs on eight hits over 4 2/3 innings and took the loss.
Also, Lester is starting on only three days' rest, though he did throw only 55 pitches in that outing, and has allowed 16 runs in his last 13 2/3 innings, spanning three starts. He's started only once against Baltimore, and it was back in April. He won that game, allowing two runs in eight innings.
The Rays' opponent, on the other hand, is the Yankees, who have long since clinched the best record in the AL. New York manager Joe Girardi has said that he'll start his normal lineup -- though he hasn't committed to playing them the whole game -- but hasn't named a starting pitcher and plans to piece together nine innings primarily from pitchers who won't be used extensively in the playoffs. That's his right and it's totally defensible, given that New York has only one off-day before hosting ALDS Game 1 on Friday.
Price is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA in four starts against the Yankees this season; his win came in the most recent start on Aug. 12, when he allowed one run in eight innings.

4. Veteran starters did their teams no favors. Three of the four playoff-chasing teams started a 30-something veteran: Bedard for the Red Sox, Lowe for the Braves and Westbrook for the Cardinals. All three got clobbered and failed to complete the fifth inning.
In Baltimore, Bedard needed 84 pitches just to get through 3 1/3 innings while allowing three runs on five hits and three walks; in relief of him, however, Alfredo Aceves needed just 36 pitches to get through 3 2/3 innings while allowing one run on three hits and no walks.
Lowe allowed five runs on six hits in four-plus innings and took the loss, his 17th of the season.
Westbrook's stint on the mound was the shortest of them all: He lasted just 2 1/3 innings, which was still long enough to yield five runs on seven hits and a walk.
In contrast, the Rays started rookie Jeremy Hellickson, who took a no decision while spinning a rulebook quality start of three runs in six innings. Though he walked five and gave up six hits, he faced a Yankees lineup that essentially started eight of nine regulars. Hellickson finished the regular season with a 2.95 ERA in 189 innings while calling the AL East home, which ought to be sufficient credentials for the league's rookie of the year award.

5. Arizona keeps pace with Milwaukee. The Brewers won 6-4 on Tuesday night (RECAP | BOX) thanks to a three-homer outburst from Prince Fielder, and after the Diamondbacks fell behind the Dodgers 6-1 in the 10th inning, Miller Park seemed like a safe bet to be hosting Games 1 and 2 of the NLDS this weekend. Instead, Arizona staged in an improbable six-run rally with two outs and the bases empty, capped by a Ryan Roberts walkoff grand slam for a 7-6 win (RECAP | BOX). As Roberts rounded first, he gave a celebratory double pump with his arm, harkening images of his manager, Kirk Gibson, doing that after his epic 1988 World Series Game 1 walkoff homer.
The stakes weren't as high in this game as in Gibson's, but the race for the NL's No. 2 seed is of value for two reasons: 1) the winner avoids playing the Phillies in the first round, and 2) the winner gets homefield advantage, which is no small matter for these two teams.
Grabbing homefield advantage is more important for the Brewers than for any other team in the majors. They have 56 home wins this season, which is four more than anyone else in baseball, and their +17 difference between home wins and road wins is the NL's only double-digit discrepancy. At home Milwaukee has scored 4.8 runs per game with 99 homers and a .813 OPS; on the road it has scored 4.1 runs per game with 83 homers and a .698 OPS.
Arizona, meanwhile, has a +8 win differential, which is the third-largest in the NL, and an offensive home/road split that's only a little less pronounced than the Brewers'. In games at Chase Field, the D-backs score 4.9 runs per game and have hit 91 homers with a .783 OPS; on the road they score 4.1 runs per game and have hit 79 homers with a .691.
In the AL, the Rangers' magic number to clinch the AL's second-best record -- which comes with the dual perks of having homefield advantage in the ALDS and of avoiding the Yankees -- is one after they blew out the Angels 10-3 in a five-homer explosion Wednesday night (RECAP | BOX). Texas would wrap it up Wednesday with a win or a Detroit loss.







Heisman Watch
1 Andrew Luck QB | Stanford
Next Game: 10/1 vs. UCLAAndrew Luck and the Cardinal were off in Week 4.

WEEK 3 AT ARIZONA
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
173.9 325 2 0 64.5
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
36 0 12.0
2011 SEASON
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
173.4 786 8 1 67.1
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
47 1 5.9


2 Kellen Moore QB | Boise State
Next Game: 10/1 vs. NEVIn just 2½ quarters, Moore made his presence known. Boise State's signal-caller lit up the scoreboard, tossing four touchdown passes and completing 23 of 29 passes.

WEEK 4 VS. TULSA
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
205.6 279 4 0 79.3
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
-6 0 -3.0
2011 SEASON
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
192.6 995 12 2 79.0
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
-4 0 -1.0


3 Marcus Lattimore RB | South Carolina
Next Game: 10/1 vs. AUBLattimore's versatility was on display in South Carolina's win over Vanderbilt. The sophomore sensation ran for 77 yards and one TD and caught three passes for 73 yards and another score.

WEEK 4 VS. VANDERBILT
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
77 1 3.8
RECEIVING
REC YDS YPR TD
3 73 24.3 1
2011 SEASON
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
611 8 5.7
RECEIVING
REC YDS YPR TD
12 139 11.6 1


4 Robert Griffin III QB |Baylor
Next Game: 10/1 at KSURobert Griffin III was nearly perfect against Rice, completing 29 of 33 passes for 338 yards and five touchdowns in a 56-31 rout. Griffin has 13 touchdowns on the season -- and just 12 incompletions.
WEEK 4 VS. RICE
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
223.9 338 5 0 87.9
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
51 1 8.5
2011 SEASON
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
236.2 962 13 0 85.4
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
167 1 7.0


5 Russell WilsonQB | Wisconsin
Next Game: 10/1 vs. NEBThe Wisconsin freight train rolled through its next stop -- this time a helpless South Dakota team -- and Wilson continued his impressive start. He passed for 345 yards and three touchdowns. The Badgers face their first true test next week against Nebraska.

WEEK 4 VS. SOUTH DAKOTA
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
231.5 345 3 0 76.0
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
-2 0 -0.4
2011 SEASON
PASSING
RAT YDS TD INT CMP%
218.4 1136 11 1 75.8
RUSHING
YDS TD YPC
108 1 6.8


Buckeyes in the NFL
Player, Position, Team Week 3 NFL Stats Season-to-date stats
Will Allen, DB, Steelers none Played in 3 games starting 0.
Jake Ballard, TE, Giants 1 catch for 15 yards Played in 3 games starting 2. 4 catches for 87 yards.
Alex Boone, T, 49ers none Played in 3 games starting 0.
Justin Boren, G, Ravens none Signed to Ravens practice squad in September.
Bryant Browning, G, Panthers none Signed to Panthers practice squad in September.
Bobby Carpenter, OLB, Lions 1 tackle Played in 3 games starting 0. 1 tackle.
Chimdi Chekwa, CB, Raiders 4 tackles & 2 passes defensed Played in 3 games starting 0. 5 tackles & 2 passes defensed.
Maurice Clarett, RB, Free Agent none Signed by Omaha Nighthawks of UFL.
Adrian Clarke, OG, Free Agent none Signed by Florida Tuskers of UFL.
Nate Clements, CB, Bengals 5 tackles & 1 pass defensed Played in 3 games starting 3. 14 tackles & 2 passes defensed.
Kurt Coleman, FS, Eagles none Played in 3 games starting 3. 7 tackles.
Jim Cordle, C, Giants none Signed to Giants practice squad in September.
Na’il Diggs, LB, Chargers 2 tackles Played in 2 games starting 0. 3 tackles.
Chris Gamble, CB, Panthers 1 pass defensed Played in 3 games starting 3. 5 tackles & 3 passes defensed.
Vernon Gholston, DE, Free Agent none Cut by Bears in September.
Thaddeus Gibson, LB, Free Agent none Cut by Redskins in September.
Ted Ginn Jr., WR, 49ers 2 kickoff returns for 59 yards3 punt returns for 20 yards. Played in 2 games starting 0. 1 rush for 0 yards. 4 catches for 38 yards. 6 kickoff returns for 235 yards & 1 TD (102).12 punt returns for 157 yards & 1 TD (55).
Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Colts none Played in 1 game starting 0.
Larry Grant, OLB, 49ers 1 tackle Played in 3 games starting 0. 2 tackles.
Roy Hall, WR, Free Agent none Released by Colts last season. Signed by Omaha Nighthawks of UFL.
Brian Hartline, WR, Dolphins 4 catches for 87 yards Played in 3 games starting 2. 10 catches for 170 yards & 1 TD.
Ben Hartsock, TE, Panthers none Played in 2 games starting 1.
A.J. Hawk, ILB, Packers 3 tackles Played in 3 games starting 3. 9 tackles, .5 sack & 1 pass defensed.
Cameron Heyward, DE, Steelers none Played in 3 games starting 0. 1 tackle.
Jermale Hines, DB, Rams none Played in 0 games starting 0.
Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets 1 catch for 19 yards Played in 3 games starting 3. 10 catches for 131 yards & 1 TD.
Ross Homan, LB, Free Agent none Cut by Vikings in September.
Louis Irizarry, TE, Free Agent none Signed by Virginia Destroyers of UFL.
Malcolm Jenkins, FS, Saints 5 tackles Played in 3 games starting 3. 15 tackles & 2 passes defensed.
Michael Jenkins, WR, Vikings 9 catches for 88 yards Played in 3 games starting 1. 15 catches for 143 yards & 1 TD.
Dexter Larimore, DT, Free Agent none Cut by Saints in September.
James Laurinaitis, MLB, Rams 4 tackles. Played in 3 games starting 3. 24 tackles & 1 pass defensed.
Nick Mangold, C, Jets none Played in 2 games starting 2. Injured - High ankle sprain.
Jake McQuaide, LS, Rams none Played in 3 games starting 0.
Donnie Nickey, FS, Free Agent none Not re-signed by Titans.
Mike Nugent, K, Bengals made 2 of 2 FGs Played in 3 games starting 0. Made 7 of 7 FGs & 4 of 4 XPs.
Shane Olivea, OL, Free Agent none Signed by Virginia Destroyers of UFL.
Aaron Pettrey, K, Free Agent none Released by Bengals last season.
Quinn Pitcock, DT, Free Agent none Cut by Lions in September.
Ryan Pickett, DE, Packers 1 tackle Played in 3 games starting 3. 5 tackles.
Terrelle Pryor, QB, Raiders none Played in 0 games starting 0 (suspended).
Jay Richardson, DE, Free Agent none Not re-signed by Seahawks.
Brian Robiskie, WR, Browns none Played in 3 games starting 1.
Brian Rolle, LB, Eagles 2 tackles Played in 3 games starting 0. 3 tackles.
Robert Rose, DE, Free Agent none Cut by Dolphins in September.
Anderson Russell, DB, Dolphins none Signed to Dolphins practice squad in September.
Brandon Saine, RB, Packers none Signed to Packers practice squad in September.
Dane Sanzenbacher, WR, Bears 5 catches for 27 yards & 1 TD. Played in 3 games starting 1. 9 catches for 66 yards & 2 TDs. 1 rush for -4 yards.
Darrion Scott, DE, Redskins none Played in 0 games starting 0.
Rob Sims, G, Lions none Played in 3 games starting 3.
Ray Small, WR, Free Agent none Released by Colts last season
Troy Smith, QB, Free Agent none Not re-signed by 49ers. Signed by Omaha Nighthawks of UFL.
Will Smith, DE, Saints 6 tackles Played in 1 game starting 1. 6 tackles.
Austin Spitler, LB, Dolphins none Played in 3 games starting 0. 1 tackle.
Devon Torrence, DB, Free Agent none Cut by Vikings in September.
Mike Vrabel, LB, Chiefs none Retired in July.
Donald Washington, CB, Chiefs 8 tackles & 1 forced fumble Played in 2 games starting 0.
Taurian Washington, WR, Free Agent none Signed by Virginia Destroyers of UFL.
Beanie Wells, RB, Cardinals none Played in 2 games starting 2. 32 rushes for 183 yards & 2 TDs. 4 catches for 12 yards. Injured - Hamstring
Donte Whitner, SS, 49ers 2 tackles & 1 pass defensed Played in 3 games starting 3. 11 tackles, 6 passes defensed & 1 INT.Injured - Hip.
Matt Wilhelm, LB, Free Agent none Not re-signed by Packers.
Antoine Winfield, CB, Vikings 7 tackles. Played in 3 games starting 3. 28 tackles, 1 pass defensed, 1 INT & 1 forced fumble.
Doug Worthington, DL, Redskins none Signed to Redskins practice squad in September.
Ashton Youboty, CB, Free Agent none Cut by Buccaneers in September.

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