Four difference-makers who could fly under the radar this postseason
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By Tim Kurkjian, ESPN The MagazineAs we go deeper and deeper into the postseason, each team will begin to reveal its unsung heroes. Every team has that one under-the-radar player who comes up big when it counts, and I'm picking one for each team in the postseason:
PLAYOFF WATCH: SATURDAY'S MATCHUPAngels at Yankees, 7:57 p.m. ET, ESPN Radio Will the weather cooperate two days in a row? If so, A.J. Burnett takes the mound for the Yankees against Joe Saunders. Saunders enters on a roll; he has not lost since Aug. 1, going 7-0 in nine starts. One of those wins was a Sept. 21 victory against the Yankees -- though that game was in Anaheim, not in the cold surroundings at Yankee Stadium. Burnett also recently faced the Angels, beating them by pitching 5 2/3 steady, if unspectacular, innings Sept. 23 in a 3-2 Yankees win. For the rest of the playoff schedule, click here.
BBTN ON THE AIR: SATURDAY
|12:15 a.m. ET
|Host: Steve Berthiaume
Analysts: Buck Showalter, Fernando Vina
BBTN MINUTE: ANGELS TAKE BLAME
ESPN researcher Mark Simon digs deep looking for the night's best baseball numbers.Tonight, he looks at the performance put forth by Pedro Martinez, one the Phillies wasted in a 2-1 loss to the Dodgers in Game 2 of the NLCS:
Postseason starts -- 10 years apart
|Oct. 16, 1999||Oct. 16, 2009|
|Result||13-1 win||2-1 loss*|
THURSDAY'S BEST AND WORST
|• The Yankees, with the help of some suspect defense from the Angels, gave CC Sabathia an early lead, and he took care of it in the Yankees' 4-1 win in the ALCS opener. Sabathia allowed four hits and one run. He struck out seven and handed out just one walk.||WORST|
|• Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez had a tough day at the plate in the Phillies' Game 2 NLCS loss against the Dodgers. The pair combined to go 0-for-6 with four strikeouts. The next hitter in the order wasn't much help, either. Pedro Feliz also went 0-for-3 and struck out once in the 2-1 loss.|
NUMBERS TO KNOWThe Yankees' decision on who to start behind the plate in Game 2 against the Angels might determine how effective starting pitcher A.J. Burnett is at Yankee Stadium. Burnett's numbers have been better across the board when Jose Molina is catching instead of Jorge Posada.
|Burnett by catcher (2009)|
|Burnett's breaking balls by catcher (2009)|
THIS DATE IN "THAT'S NASTY" HISTORY
Each night throughout the postseason, "Baseball Tonight" will remember some of the postseason's best pitching performances.October 17, 1991 -- John Smoltz pitched a six-hit shutout, putting the Braves into the World Series with a 6-0 win over the Pirates. Smoltz is one of 15 pitchers to pitch a shutout in a winner-take-all game in a postseason series. The only pitcher to do it since Smoltz: Jack Morris, in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series against Smoltz's Braves.