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The major league playoffs remind us that baseball, good baseball, is about pitching.

All season long, we get used to shallow starting rotations and bullpens full of journeymen sending a parade of pitchers to the mound trying to hold the other guys to five, six runs, and hoping that's good enough to eke out a win.

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Yesterday, as the baseball playoffs opened with three games, no winning team's pitching staff gave up more than two runs -- and it's a good thing, too. Because no losing team allowed more than four.

The Rockies, 4-2 victors in Philadelphia, put together three hits and a couple of walks to score three runs in the second inning off Phillies starter Cole Hamels. And they were fortunate to do it because Hamels allowed only one more runner until he was relieved in the seventh. Meanwhile, Colorado starter Jeff Francis had just one hiccup himself -- two solo homers in the fifth -- and the Rockies' bullpen was perfect through the final three innings against the high-scoring Phils.

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Arizona's Brandon Webb outdueled Chicago's Carlos Zambrano, 3-1. Webb went seven innings, giving up four hits and walking three while striking out nine. Surprisingly, Cubs manager Lou Piniella pulled Zambrano after six innings with the score tied, 1-1, and Zambrano's pitch count at 85.

But the masterpiece was turned in by Boston's Josh Beckett in shutting out Los Angeles, 4-0. Beckett (above) turned in a throwback performance, going the full nine innings and at one point, retired 19 consecutive batters. His scoreless streak in the playoffs -- going back to his days with Florida -- stands at 18 innings.

When the Yankees and Indians open today, it should be more of the same as Chien-Ming Wang goes for the Yankees and C.C. Sabathia pitches for the Indians.

Maybe, as we get deeper into the starting rotations for these best-of-five series, we'll be back in midseason form with starters giving up four and five runs by the sixth inning and bullpens scrambling to keep the late-inning damage to a minimum. But, at least for one day, it was good to see crisply pitched games.

Photo credit:  Associated Press

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