Seth Smith's first concern was getting a spot on the Rockies' Division Series roster. After the club defeated Philadelphia in three games, he then wondered if he was going to be on the NL Championship Series roster.
It turned out that Smith was on the roster and contributed a pinch, two-run double in Game 4 against Arizona. The hit gave him seven hits in 10 at-bats as a pinch-hitter since joining the team on Sept. 16 and let him breath easier about his chances for getting on the World Series roster. There's usually a place for someone with that level of success off the bench.
Sometimes it takes a little luck, too. His double against Arizona was a blooper down the left-field line as he fought off a high 1-2 pitch. In Game 2 of the NLDS against the Phillies, Smith hit a slow grounder, but beat the throw to first base for an infield single. Kazuo Matsui then followed with a grand slam. Moments like that have helped the Rockies win 21 of their past 22 games.
"That's baseball," Smith said to the Rocky Mountain News. "You win this many games, it's more than luck. You're a good team. I look around here and say, 'Why is anybody surprised by this?' The guys we have on this team are incredible players. I'm just fortunate to get an at-bat.
"When you put the ball in play, stuff like this happens."
Manny just having fun: Manny Ramirez may aggravate tightly wound observers with his relaxed, care-free approach to the game but it seems to work pretty well for the Red Sox. Some took umbrage that he celebrated a 451-foot homer in ALCS Game 4 that only brought the Red Sox within four runs, 7-3.
"Man, I'm just happy to do something special like that," Ramirez told the Boston Globe. "I'm not trying to show up anybody out there. I'm just trying to go have fun. If somebody strikes me out and shows me up, that's part of the game. I love it. I like that. I like to compete, and when people strike me out or whatever and they show me up, it's all good. There's no hard feelings. I'm not trying to show anybody up."
Ramirez has been vital to Boston's success this postseason. He extended his LCS hitting streak to 15 games Thursday night as the Red Sox defeated the Indians to force the series to head back to Boston with the Indians clinging to a 3-2 series lead.
Before the game, Ramirez said the Red Sox just needed to relax.
"We're just going to go have fun and play the game," he said. "That's it. If we go play hard and the thing doesn't come like it's supposed to come, we'll move on. We'll come next year. Why should we panic? We've got a great team. If it doesn't happen, good. We'll come next year and try to do it again.
"We're confident every day. It doesn't matter how things go for you. We're not going to give up. We're just going to go and play the game, like I've said, and move on. If it doesn't happen, so who cares? There's always next year. It's not like the end of the world or something."
Byrd reliant on steady Tribe defense: Paul Byrd pitches to contact, so he relies heavily on his defense to make the plays behind him -- one of the '07 Indians' strong suits.
"They've just made some incredible plays in the field," Byrd told MLB.com. "It's meant so much to me, because, with the way I pitch, balls are going all over the place. We might not have the best defense in the league, but it is very, very good, especially of late."
Cleveland, for example, turned 167 double plays this year -- tied for fourth most in the league.
Torrealba catches up on rest during layoff: While some Colorado fans may be worrying about the team's eight-day layoff before between the final game of the NLCS and the first game of the World Series, Rockies catcher Yorvit Torrealba is not one of them.
Torrealba has appeared in a career-high 120 games this year, including all seven postseason games the Rockies have played. The veteran catcher is using the time off to relax and recover from the longest season of his career.
"I think this break is good for us," Torrealba told the Rocky Mountain News. "Personally, the rest will help."
Torrealba started 105 games at catcher this season and was a pinch-hitter in five games. The other 10 games he entered as a defensive replacement. Torrealba has been a workhorse the past nine games, catching all 87 innings the team has played.
"I have never caught this many games, but I'm not complaining," Torrealba said. "This will definitely help me, though. It will help my defense, my knees and my legs."
Torrealba is one of the few Rockies players to experience the World Series. He was the backup catcher with the San Francisco Giants in 2002. However, he is really a rookie when it comes the World Series.
"To me, this is my first World Series because I did not play (in 2002) with San Francisco," Torrealba said. "I couldn't wait to put this stuff on."
Because of his situation in 2002, Torrealba understands what Chris Iannetta has gone through this postseason for Colorado. The backup catcher has yet to see any playing time.
"My mom called the other night and said she felt bad in a good way for Chris," Torrealba said. "She said she knew how disappointed I was when I didn't play in any games in '02. One game against St. Louis (in the NLCS) I was close. We were down a run and they pinch-ran for Benito Santiago, but we didn't score and the game ended. Chris was close, too. We were about to double switch (in Game 2 at Arizona) in extra innings, but we scored a run so I went back out there."
Schilling watches Game 5 from Boston: While the Red Sox were playing the Indians Thursday night in Cleveland in Game 5 of the ALCS, Boston starter Curt Schilling was back in Boston.
Because Game 5 started at 8:23 p.m. Eastern, the Red Sox decided to send Schilling back to Boston and let him get ready for a possible Game 6 start at Fenway Park. For Schilling, the experience of leaving his team was unusual. That possible start will now be a reality after the Red Sox defeated Cleveland to force Game 6.
"I've never had to do this before," Schilling told the Boston Herald. "I'm sitting here with our season on the line and I can't be there. I could have thrown my last game, my last pitch for this team -- or I could be pitching for our lives (tomorrow)."
Schilling probably could have stayed with the team and flown back to Boston on the team plane since Friday is a travel day for both clubs. However, manager Terry Francona and pitching coach John Farrell decided to have Schilling head back to Boston before Game 5.
"This is consistent with our approach throughout the season," Farrell said. "Anytime we're going to get in late, we always send pitchers ahead, regardless of time zone. We feel like two nights before (the scheduled start) is the pivotal night (of rest)."
Said Schilling: "There were two concerns. One was the weather, that it could rain. The other was that even if it's a regulation, nine-inning postseason game, it could take 4 1/2 hours. Why make (Game 5) harder than it has to be?"
Closer Borowski aims to 'prove them all wrong': Cleveland Indians closer Joe Borowski isn't one to worry too much. Sure, his 5.07 regular season ERA did raise some eyebrows. But then again he posted a 3.73 ERA in save situations -- a significant drop. Still, though, people do talk.
"I can't really blame people," Borowski told the Akron Beacon Journal. "To a lot of people this is a game of stats. They jump on the radar gun and want to know how hard guys throw."
But, he noted, he's not listening anymore.
"I used to worry about what people thought," said Borowski. "When I stopped is when I became a better pitcher."
More than a fastball that impresses people comes into closing games, he added. "You can't see or judge somebody's determination," he said. "You can have great stuff, but if you can't execute, it doesn't matter."
So for those who may doubt his grit or ability to get it done --fear not. He believes in himself.
"That stuff has been going on all season, so what's the difference?" he said. "If it mattered, I'd be cowering in a corner somewhere.
"At the end of the day, all that counts is if I did my job. Maybe it gives me a little extra satisfaction that I proved them all wrong."
Kielty back for second start vs. Sabathia: Bobby Kielty was back in the lineup for Game 5 of the American League Championship Series to face left-handed Cleveland pitcher C.C. Sabathia. Kielty had success against Sabathia in Game 1, collecting a two-run single as the Red Sox won 10-3.
But Kielty admits starting Game 5 was a lot easier than getting the start in Game 1.
"I am a little more relaxed," Kielty told the Boston Herald. "The first game was a little more intense. I felt more relaxed (Wednesday) night. I felt like the edge was off after that first start."
There was a moment this season when Kielty, who joined the Red Sox two months ago, thought his season may have been over. After going 2-for-3 in a start for Boston, his back started to act up.
"I was a little nervous because I didn't know why it wasn't going away," Kielty said. "I was so worried I even called my dad, telling him I couldn't figure out what was going on."
Though he was diagnosed with muscle spasms, Kielty wasn't sure the problem wasn't more serious.
"I swore there was something wrong structurally," he said. "But they couldn't find anything. I guess when you have spasms it makes it feel like there is something structurally wrong. I talked to (former Oakland teammate Mark) Kotsay a lot because he has had back problems and he said the same thing, that when you have spasms like that it can feel like there is something else wrong. But one day I woke up, I was feeling better, and a couple of days later it was back to normal. It was weird."
Marlins' Willis aims for different set of strikes: Marlins pitcher Dontrelle Willis will host the inaugural D-Train Dream Team Bowling Challenge Sunday as part of a weekend of activities to benefit the Children's Home Society. Saturday, Willis will host 30 kids for lunch at GameWorks, where they will receive unlimited play and a $200 gift card to NikeTown.
"My bowling game is tight, but I'm not trying to tell nobody that," Willis told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "I'm trying to keep it under wraps. ... I'm trying to hustle people." v While talking about his charity event, which will also include Miguel Cabrera, Scott Olsen and former Marlins Luis Castillo, Alex Gonzalez, Juan Pierre, Jeff Conine, Lenny Harris, Edgar Renteria and Cliff Floyd, Willis also lobbied for Mark Wiley to return as the team's pitching coach.
"He's a great coach, a great motivator, and he's honest," Willis said. "I like people to shoot from the hip. If I'm terrible, just tell me and we'll go from there. I see him a lot in the stands [scouting]. Maybe by watching us a lot he'll know how to critique us."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.