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Read October: Opening the playoffs

Jeff Passan
Yahoo Sports

Yahoo! Sports national baseball writer Jeff Passan is blogging the first day of the MLB playoffs. Send questions or comments to readoctober@yahoo.com for possible publication.

6:51 p.m. ET: All of that is well and good, until Kevin Youkilis smashes a Lackey fastball into the Monster seats closer to center field than left. That was a shot, and it's 1-0 Red Sox.

6:49 p.m. ET: John Lackey is on the mound for the Angels, giving us a pair of big Texans. He led the American League in ERA and won 19 games, only one fewer than Beckett.

6:47 p.m. ET: Frank Caliendo, please go away.

6:40 p.m. ET: We're back for the second game of the night (and final one of the journal), and Los Angeles stranded Chone Figgins on third base. He singled to start the game and ran on a pair of consecutive groundouts to avoid force plays, but Josh Beckett struck him out to end the first inning.

6:10 p.m. ET: Before dinner break, a tip for Frank Thomas. Stop reading your notes!

5:57 p.m. ET: Burrell flies out to end it. What a performance by Colorado. Jeff Francis was magnificent, the Rockies' bullpen didn't give up a hit and they got just enough off Cole Hamels to make the difference. No one wants to play the Rockies, and it's obvious why. Power arms and power hitting. Up next is a battle of the rookies: Philadelphia's Kyle Kendrick, who started the season in Double-A, against Franklin Morales, who spent most of his season there. It's a must-win for Philadelphia, and even then that might not be enough. The Coors Field advantage is huge, and the Rockies have now won 15 of their last 16.

5:56 p.m. ET: Aaron Rowand, weak grounder to second. One out left.

5:55 p.m. ET: Manny Corpas is in to close things off, and he starts off catching Ryan Howard looking with a slow slider that was at least 3 inches inside.

Dale Scott: You, sir, are inconsistent.

5:42 p.m. ET: That would be a no. Fastball. Middle plate. Utley didn't even take his bat off the shoulder. Four plate appearances, four strikeouts. Embarrassing.

5:41 p.m. ET: Shane Victorino beats out a double-play ball. Can Utley do it?

5:39 p.m. ET: Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. On a 3-1 count, Fuentes feeds you a fastball down and away. And rather than poke it to the right side, you try to pull it. Quelle horreur!

5:37 p.m. ET: Here's the game. Tadahito Iguchi just walked against Brian Fuentes to lead off the eighth inning. No outs. Rollins up. Victorino next. Utley thereafter.

5:31 p.m. ET: Just an addendum to the last post: I love Jimmy Rollins. If I had an MVP vote this season, he would have gotten it. In fact, the trade for him helped me and Mark Pesavento win our Scoresheet league. Rollins also just robbed Garrett Atkins of a hit to end the seventh on a fantastic diving play.

5:26 p.m. ET: MVP watch! Matt Holliday home run off Tom Gordon, Rockies now lead 4-2. Holliday hit that one at least 425 feet off a Gordon curveball left over the middle of the plate. What a big hit. Gordon's out, replaced by his comrade in overuse, J.C. Romero. For what it's worth, Jimmy Rollins is 0 for 2 with a walk. And Philadelphia's Nos. 2, 3 and 4 hitters, Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard: 0 for 9 with six strikeouts.

5:25 p.m. ET:

Memorandum
To: TBS viewers
From: Jeff Passan
Subject: Frank Caliendo

Apparently, he has a new show coming to TBS. You know how Fox beats its new shows to death during baseball playoff commercials. Well, we're not even past the first game of the entire postseason and you're probably already sick of the ads for "Frank TV." Know that you're not alone.

5:21 p.m. ET: Words I never thought I'd write: LaTroy Hawkins, stud. With the dangerous Michael Bourn on first base, Carlos Ruiz hit a bullet to Kaz Matsui, who flipped to Troy Tulowitzki for a 4-6-3 double play that ended the seventh inning.

5:10 p.m. ET: OK, what just happened?

Clint Hurdle has an entire bench of hitters ready to pinch hit, yet he keeps Jeff Francis in to hit in the top of the seventh with a runner on and one out last inning. Then, in the bottom of the inning, he replaces him before the first batter.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Make up your mind, skipper.

5:01 p.m. ET: That's it for Hamels. Standing ovation from the Phillies fans. Aside from the second inning, Hamels was rather good: 6 2/3 innings, three hits, three runs, three walks, seven strikeouts. Tom Gordon, who along with J.C. Romero and Brett Myers forms The Rubber-Arm Trio, is in to face Kaz Matsui.

5 p.m. ET: Francis, at 94 pitches, is at the plate in the seventh with a runner on first and one out. Clint Hurdle obviously doesn't think he's out of gas. Should be interesting to see.

4:40 p.m. ET: Victorino with a groundout to second. Francis escapes. Though it's a game again. Rockies 3, Phillies 2, through four innings.

4:39 p.m. ET: Has Francis punched himself out, like Jermain Taylor did this weekend? Almost every one of his pitches is up in the strike zone. Carlos Ruiz hammered a single and stole second, Jimmy Rollins walked and, after a visit from pitching coach Bob Apodaca, Shane Victorino is up.

4:28 p.m. ET: Four pitches later, another home run. Pat Burrell lifted a Francis fastball so high that Matt Holliday thought he might have a chance to catch it. In any other park, it's a warning-track flyout. Here, it means a one-run game. Rockies lead, 3-2.

4:27 p.m. ET: Aaron Rowand just took Francis out opposite field, the first hard-hit ball all day. It was a tremendous swing, too: Francis left a fastball up and away, and Rowand drove it accordingly. The fans are alive.

4:24 p.m. ET: "From gas-friendly to gas-free." Shouldn't that be a commercial for Beano and not Chevrolet?

4:18 p.m. ET: Jeff Francis looks filthy. He just threw a 72-mph curveball that nearly brought Chase Utley out of his shoes for his sixth strikeout. He then went curveball (strike), changeup (strike), curveball (ball), fastball (swinging strike) to blow away Ryan Howard for his seventh through four innings.

4:12 p.m. ET: Bad production values, Part I: The anchors cut to an interview with Phllies pitching coach Rich Dubee like it was live. Unfortunately, AC/DC was blasting in the background, which wouldn't have seemed so odd were Hamels not throwing a pitch at the same time. On the other hand, talking to Dubee instead of manager Charlie Manuel was brilliant. Uncle Charlie may be able to manage a ballclub. The spoken word, however, is not his forte.

4:07 p.m. ET: Beep! Beep! Beep! News alert from Philadelphia! Dan Wetzel reporting! "Please mention that in response to my column the other day about Cleveland and Philly, the Philly fans claim the reason Santa Claus got booed at the Eagles game was because Santa was drunk, and they should be let off the hook because of that. "Personally, if a drunk Santa is wrong, I don't want to be right." Oh, and Jimmy Rollins just grounded into an inning-ending double play. Three shutout for Francis, and Matt Holliday is ahead in the MVP battle. (More on that later.)

4:04 p.m. ET: Cole Hamels, the new Micah Owings? He's got a pretty swing, and he just got the first hit off Jeff Francis in the third inning.

3:59 p.m. ET: The Rockies have not yet attempted a steal through three innings. Though, as our friends at Deadspin point out, it would not be out of character for Clint Hurdle to call for one.

3:45 p.m. ET: Down goes Ryan Howard, swinging on strikes. Just like Jimmy Rollins. And Shane Victorino. And Chase Utley. Finally, Aaron Rowand grounded out to break the streak.

3:40 p.m. ET: Great point by Joe Simpson, the color commentator on TBS (now in HD!): Hamels last walked more than three on June 29, which was 11 starts ago.

3:38 p.m. ET: Dale Scott is calling a very tight strike zone. Hamels just walked in a run, with Troy Tulowitzki working a 1-2 count by taking an extremely close pitch inside for a ball, watching a bouncer and taking a belt-high fastball for a ball, too. And then, on the next pitch, Matt Holliday hit a ball out of Citizens Bank Park. Seriosuly. It was about 10 feet foul down the left-field line, but it exited the stadium. Eventually, Holliday struck out -- on Hamels' 40th pitch of the inning -- yet the damage has been done. Rockies 3, Phillies 0.

3:30 p.m. ET: As Cole Hamels gives up his second run of the day – Yorvit Torrealba single up the gut scoring Atkins – we need to remember that this is just his fourth start since Aug. 17. All seemed well following his final regular-season start when he went eight shutout innings and struck out 13. Hamels' curveball was tremendous that day, a Rockies scout said, and his changeup rarely stayed above hitters' knees, let alone their belt. And yet we must remember: Hamels missed a month with a strained elbow. This is his first playoff game. He's still 23. He's no sure thing.

3:24 p.m. ET: Todd Helton tripled on the first pitch of the second inning. Todd Helton tripled? Such words had been used in the same sentence only twice this season until Helton laced Hamels' first pitch into left-center field, and it ricocheted away from Aaron Rowand. Garrett Atkins reached down and away and pulled a Hamels changeup for a double down the left-field line to give the Rockies a 1-0 lead.

3:07 p.m.: ET First pitch, a Hamels fastball fouled off by Kaz Matsui. Is the nausea for Mets fans returning when they see Kaz Matsui is playing in the postseason instead of their team? (That will be the first of many, many Mets digs. Sorry. But they're not going to get old for a long while.)

3 p.m. ET: Welcome to Read October, Yahoo! Sports' blog covering the 2007 Major League Baseball playoffs. We'll be covering today's games, as well as the 38 potential ones that remain, throughout this month and, potentially, into November.

The point of this blog isn't just for our pontificating purposes. We love e-mail, and readoctober@yahoo.com is up and working, so bring them on.

Dan Wetzel is in Philadelphia, Tim Brown in Boston and Steve Henson in Phoenix, so they'll be checking in with updates every so often. Here is Wetzel's report from Philly:

"If you laid a piece of aluminum foil down on the sidewalk you could probably cook a cheesesteak on it in less time than it would take to get a cab to and from Pat's."

Now that's full-service baseball coverage. We give food and traffic updates, too.

As for the Philadephia-Colorado game that kicks off the afternoon: What a series this should be. The two hottest teams in baseball. The two most dangerous offenses in the National League. Two of the best young left-handers in the game, Cole Hamels and Jeff Francis, facing one another.

This should be fun.

And the best part: There are two more games today.

Welcome to October, the best time of the year for baseball fans.

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