#5 and #4 Go 13

The #5 seed Lemonheads and #4 Speakers settled their playoff series on Wednesday, November 29th. The Lemonheads ended strong to earn the final post-season spot while the Speakers sputtered down the regular season stretch.

Game 1 – Carlos Martinez sets down the ‘Heads 1-2-3 in the 1st. Lemonheads starter Drew Pomeranz doesn’t fare as well. Dansby Swanson leads off with a ringing single (10). Kris Bryant follows with a 2-run home run, equaling 50% of his entire regular season total!

Charlie Blackmon doubles to lead off the 3rd, but never advances beyond 2nd base. That’s the only hit allowed by Martinez until the 6th.

With 2 away, Daniel Murphy legs out a triple. Nellie Cruz follows with a clutch RBI single (9) to bring the ‘Heads closer, 2-1.

Bob’s Lemonheads threaten again in the 7th with 2 outs. Adam Duvall doubles. Martinez intentionally passes Blackmon, and then departs in favor of Jeremy Jeffress. Xander Bogaerts pops to Manny Machado to end the threat.

In the bottom of the 8th, Yoenis Cespedes rips a 2-out ball off the top of the left field fence. Former teammate, Jeurys Familia (+62) denies the insurance solo. Carlos Gonzalez hits a harmless fly to left off Dan Jennings to carry a slim 1-run margin to the 9th.

Jeffress sets down Hernan Perez, JD Martinez and Jake Lamb in a row to earn the save. In fact, Jeffress retires all 7 Lemonheads he faces to preserve the 2-1 win for the Speakers. The first two batters Pomeranz faces determines the outcome.

W – Martinez (1-0); L – Pomeranz (0-1); S – Jeffress (1)

Game 2 – The Lemonheads break out in a big way, scoring in each of the first 4 innings to take a commanding 5-1 lead. Trevor Story and Cruz each go deep against Jake Arrieta, who allows 10 hits and 8 ER. Brad Hand mops, but doesn’t fare any better, coughing up 3 hits in 0.2 IP.

The ‘Heads easily knot the series at 1-1 with a resounding 8-3 thrashing. Plus, the Lemonheads will enjoy home cooking for the next two games.

W – Seth Lugo (1-0); L – Arrieta (0-1)

Game 3 – David Price took a page from Arrieta’s playbook by serving up 10 hits and 4 long balls, including 3 in the 1st inning! Meanwhile, Alex Reyes puts on a clinic (9 IP, CG ShO, 4 H, 1 BB, 16 K!) by not allowing a Speaker to 3rd base.

Neil Walker, Murphy, Cruz and Duvall all homer. Lemonheads take a 2-1 series lead with a 5-0 blanking.

W – Reyes (1-0); L – Price (0-1)

Game 4 – After Ian Kennedy and Joe Ross set down the opposition in order in the 1st, both offenses take off in the 2nd. Anthony Rizzo slaps a lead-off single by SS (RP-10). Machado then launches a 2-run HR to shatter the Speakers 11-inning scoreless streak. Gonzalez singles to right where Martinez misplays the ball. Buster Posey eventually lifts a sac fly to right for a quick 3-0 advantage.

The Lemonheads answer in the bottom half. Lamb walks with 1 out. Story rips his second triple of the series, and then scores on Duvall’s RBI single (8).

Both teams keep the pressure on the pitching, but both come up empty over the next 4 innings. Ian Kinsler coaxes a 7th inning lead off walk. After Mookie Betts grounds to SS, pinch hitter Swanson reaches on a Story overthrow. Cespedes walks prior to Rizzo’s 2-run triple. Gonzalez singles in Rizzo with 2 outs to complete a 4-run inning.

Both Posey and Cespedes homer in the 8th for a 10-2 Speakers lead. However, the ‘Heads weren’t giving up. Story goes yard with Lamb aboard in the 8th.  They then start the bottom of the 9th with 3 straight singles before Bartolo Colon records the final out, 10-5.

W – Ross (1-0); L – Kennedy (0-1)

Game 5 – With the series even, Game 1 starters warm up for the clincher at Riegle Park. Martinez gets 3 fly balls in the 1st.

Pomeranz again faces early trouble. Swanson singles (10). Bryant singles and moves to 2nd on another JD Martinez error. Chris Young singles home both for an early 2-0 Speakers lead.

Over the next 5 innings, the Lemonheads strand a runner at 2nd and ground into a pair of double plays. They finally break through against Hand in the 6th. Story walks for the 2nd time in the game. With 2 outs, JT Realmuto strokes a 2-run, game-tying home run!

The ‘Heads then restart the stranding pattern. Martinez is left at 2nd after an 8th inning double. In the 10th, 1st & 3rd with no outs and Murphy lines into a 3-unassisted double play!

Both teams begin to empty their pens. Duvall gets the best of Roberto Osuna in the 11th. Adam’s homer gives the Lemonheads a 3-2 lead.

In the bottom half, Sammy Solis walks Kris Bryant. Rajai Davis pinch runs and scores easily on Cespedes’ RBI double. However, the Speakers strand Yoenis at 3rd, so we continue to the 12th at 3-3.

The Lemonheads leave runners at 1st & 2nd, foiled by a turned back walk and Cruz’s bid for a single snuffed out by Joe Blanton. In the 13th, Story’s 2-out 11-4 becomes a 7 and Story never gets past 1st base.

David Dahl barrels a line single (7) off Jennings to begin the bottom of the 13th. Dahl then steals 2nd. Davis bunts, but the Lemonheads snuff out Dahl at 3rd. Cespedes finally walks off by connecting on a 2-run game-winning, series-ending home run. Jennings (+61) rolls 63 to eliminate the opportunity to get Davis at the plate on a double. Speakers win 5-3 in 13.

W – Blanton (1-0); L – Jennings (0-1)

Cespedes would have to be the Speakers series MVP. Duvall had a heck of a series for the Lemonheads. He even knocked in a run in the only game where he didn’t collect a hit. Story also had a great series in limited play.

This was a heartbreaking loss for the Lemonheads. Fortunately, we enjoyed Mother’s subs and adult beverages with Manager Steve to soften the blow.

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