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NWLCS Game 3: Vancouver's Mike Madsen smokes Spokane, C's up 2-1 in series

Reposted from Notes From The Nat:

Tonight, Vancouver Canadians ace pitcher Mike Madsen (6-1, 1.69, 14BB, 68K) was pitted against the Spokane Beanballers in a game that both teams really wanted to win. Sadly, for Spokane anyway, they never had a freakin' chance.

The C's hitters put on a clinic in the 1st inning that made the rest of the game a cruise, while Madsen threw 7 innings of 1-hit ball in a run-free performance that had the Indians hitters looking clueless. For the Vancouver faithful, it was truly an awesome show, and it leaves the C's 2-1 up in the Championship Series with Jimmy 'The Shullacker' Shull scheduled to start in Game 4.

Most of us knew how this game was going to go from the 1st inning, as Michael Madsen stood atop the mound and threw his heat, striking out the side in short order. Clearly Mr Blonde was in no mood to stick around.

The Canadians offense, however, was. Chad Boyd opened the show in style - again - with a single to right, but any doubts that a repeat of yesterday's RBI-free performance was on the cards was quickly dashed as Justin Sellers drilled a hard-bouncing ball past the Joey Hooft at 3rd base, moving Tum-tum to 3rd as The Sandman cruised into 2nd.

Jeff Baisley hasn't been in great form of late, perhaps stemming from the fact that he keeps getting walked, but Spokane starter Douglas Mathis clearly thought that his 17:78 BB:K ratio would be enough to take out the lynchpin of Vancouver's offense.

Boy was he wrong. Baisley saw the pitch like a beachball and knocked it hard into left field, scoring both runners, even though Boyd slipped as he took off and was nearly passed by Sellers on the base paths.

It was a nice start for the C's, and when Haas Pratt next cracked a deep fly to center, one that looked like it was bound for a collision with the wall, Baisley took off from 1st and rounded 2nd before Spokane center fielder Joe Kemp pulled down a highlight reel over-the-shoulder catch right at the wall that had big Baisley scrambling backwards. But if Mathis thought he was beginning to get a handle on these Canadians, he was sadly mistaken.

The last time Vancouver played Spokane at home, the Indians players dealt a little dirty pool when a Canadians hit down the 1st base line saw the ball skirting towards the Native Americans' bullpen. Rather than do what most teams do - grab your stuff and get out of the way - the Indians players sat tight and watched the ball go into an equipment bag, causing the ump to have to stop the play and turn what could have been a triple, or even an inside the park homerun, into a mere double.

It was sneaky, unsportsmanlike play, but then we've seen a lot of that from the future Texas Rangers of Spokane, so today, when Jose Garcia drilled one in the same spot, the Indians players sat still once more. Only, this time, karma bit them in the ass.

Rather than wedge under equipment, this time the ball eluded the obstacles left by the Injuns and simply bounced around under the bullpen players' feet, causing their own right fielder to throw lawn chairs to the side and scatter his teammates in search for a ball that would have bounced right towards him if only his teammates weren't IDIOTS.

Garcia, legging it hard in expectation of a double, instead turned for 3rd as Goober Mayberry tried to find the cutoff man, sliding into the bag with ample time to spare. Jeff Baisley, in front of him, cruised home from 1st, and the C's were now up 3-0.

And it wasn't over yet! Steve Kleen wanted in on the action and belted a double down the same 1st base line that Garcia had drawn much profit from, standing up at 2nd as Garcia trotted home, with Doug Mathis looking very much like a future Texas Rangers pitcher.

Of course, you can't have that much fun without it getting to a few people's heads, and so it was that Anthony Recker unleashed three swings so hard that they blew the official scorer's hair back in the press box, only none connected with the ball. Isaac Omura, brought back to his usual 2nd base position, pulled the same routine and Spokane's pitching coach gave the bullpen relievers the signal to quit warming up. Mathis had worked his way into a 2nd inning.. at least.

The 2nd inning started the same way the 1st had ended - with Mike Madsen striking out a hitter. Two ground-outs followed to close the top half of the inning, and the sense in the Vancouver crowd was that Madsen was pitching as hard and accurately as he has all season.

The bottom of the 4th saw Isaac Omura swing hard at a pitch that didn't break, drilling a deep shot into center right field that Goober Mayberry had to track down at the wall. Mike Massaro moved Omura along to 3rd with 2 outs, but with Chad Boyd on fire these past few weeks, Mathis was having none of him and deliberately walked him.

Yes, that's right, a 2-out intentional walk... in short season ball! It must be playoff time.

In the top of the 5th, John 'Goober' Mayberry managed to break up Madsen's no-no with a doinked fly-liner to short center that just eluded a diving Justin Sellers by inches. That said, Goober didn't get off 2nd base as Joe Kemp flew out to center field and Joe Hooft struck out swinging - Madsen's 7th strikeout to that point.

He managed an 8th K in the 6th inning, and a 9th in the 7th in what was truly an awe-inspiring performance. Madsen, this entire season, has never looked really menacing, per se. He doesn't have four pitches (heck, he doesn't have three!), he doesn't tower over the hitter, he doesn't grunt or growl or grind his teeth, and he doesn't react to situations, positive or negative, in any sort of emotional way. He simply throws hard, puts the ball where he wants it to go, gets in front on the count, and then gets the K with good breaking stuff.

The bottom of the 7th for Vancouver saw relief pitcher Jesse Hall get a big welcome to the playoffs as - go on, try to guess - Chad Boyd opened things with a lead-off single, before a Haas Pratt flyball into left center field saw KC Herren and Goober Mayberry both converge on the ball, and then watch it drop between them for a base hit.

Can you say 'defensive indifference'?

Boyd score a 5th run for the C's as the ball bounced harmlessly to the ground, and another Jose Garcia triple down the 1st base line landed in among the Spokane feet, which once again helped him leg out a run-scoring triple - his 2nd of the night.

A new pitcher was brought in, Cain Byrd, and he closed the inning out, but the 6-0 scoreline was looking nearly as embarrassing for Spokane as their miserable hit total.

In the 8th, Madsen got a little tired, clipping Goober Mayberry's arm, getting Joe Kemp to fly out, but a Joey Hooft routine pop-fly to short right field saw Omura and Garcia converge, before Omura backed off and Garcia casually raised his glove to the sky... and dropped the ball.

Suddenly, with only one out registered, there were two men in scoring position for Spokane, and a Jonathan Higashi walk would load the bases soon afterwards, leading Vancouver pitching coach Craig Lefferts to call for a new arm.

Madsen received a huge ovation for his work on the night, and the year for that matter, as he ran to the dugout for the first spot in the shower queue, but if Spokane thought they were going to get things a little easier, they were mistaken.

Enter Dangerous Bradley Davis (4-1, 0.52, 9BB, 44K, 4 saves).

With bases loaded, Davis (left) went to work, striking out Julio Santana swinging, and sitting Terry Blunt on a called strike three to end the inning in a manner most filthy.

By now, you could see in Spokane a certain resignation. They knew this game was over for them, and they knew who would be waiting for them tomorrow night - Jimmy Shull (4-3, 2.87, 10BB, 81K).

Each Spokane player had a dejected look about them. The Big Tuna, Freddie Thon, moped about like someone had peed in his granola. Helmets went flying whenever a hitter was thrown out. The Indians coaches were unmoved, barely registering anything beyond disdain as they watched the devastation unfold before them.

Clearly, these Vancouver Canadians had kicked seven shades of crap out of the Spokane Indians, and all that was left was for Davis to end their misery. This he did, despite giving up an unlucky base hit to start the inning, as the Vancouver Canadians took the victory in a 2-hit cakewalk - 6-0.

Game 4 of the NWLCS starts tomorrow night at 7PM, and can be heard on http://www.canadiansbaseball.com - a full game report will be posted after the game on Notes From The Nat

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