Named the starting pitcher for the National League in Tuesday’s All-Star game, Roy Halladay gave it his best All-Star effort. He pitched two perfect innings using only 19 pitches.
Cliff Lee went right after Halladay, pitching a perfect third inning. But in the fourth, he ran into trouble, allowing a solo homer to Red Sox Adrian Gonzalez. Fresh off the Home Run Derby, Gonzalez was primed and ready to go yard.
But in the bottom half of the inning, Brewer Prince Fielder erased the homer with one of his own, a 3-run shot that hit the top of the padded wall in center field.
The NL added on two more runs for a 5-1 lead. The NL pitches held the lead and Brian Wilson of the Giants finished the game, getting the final two outs and frightening people with his enormous, black beard.
Also very amusing was the Padres’ reliever Heath Bell who made a grand entrance in the top of the eighth inning. He ran full-speed towards the mound and pulled off a feet-first, pop-up slide just before he arrived at the pitchers’ mound. At 6’3″, 260 pounds, Bell’s slide was quite a sight to behold. The Padres are probably just glad he did not snap an ankle.
So the National League won, giving them home field advantage, which we hope will benefit the Phillies. Three other Phillies attended, but did not play in the game. Both Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco are hurt and Cole Hamels was not allowed to pitch because he started on Sunday.
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Photo by David J. Phillip – AP
For the Phillies offense, scratching out a few runs against the Braves starter Derek Lowe was not going to be an easy task. So Hamels knew he had to be sharp. As expected, a pitcher’s duel broken out in Atlanta.
Hamels was on a mission. Through seven strong innings, he allowed only four hits, no runs and struck out eight batters. Even better, Hamels looked relaxed and in control, able to work out of what little trouble he got into.
The offense did manage to post a few runs for Hamels, mostly due to a spectacular game from Shane Victorino. Going 3-for-4 at the plate, Victorino hit two singles and a home run. The other run scored when Jimmy Rollins hit into a double play with no outs, allowing Victorino to score in the fourth.
Carlos Ruiz also continued his hot streak with two hits. Then in the ninth inning, Rollins got his first hit of the game, a double that landed him on third base after a Braves error. Ryan Howard was able to get Rollins home on a ground ball out, giving the Phillies an insurance run and a 3-0 lead.
Jose Contreras entered in the ninth to save the game in what would be a very good test of his skills as a closer. With rookie second baseman Michael Martinez making a few nice defensive plays plus good pitching, Contreras got the job done.
The Phillies won the series with the Braves two games to one. After a day off on Monday, the Phillies will take on the Nationals in D.C. on Tuesday.
You Be The Judge
Totally off topic, have you seen the new MLB campaign “Always Epic“? Released on March 31, 2011, Giants closer Brian Wilson stars in a video series that covers various adventures inside Wilson’s beard.
The video with the tiny ninja’s is especially interesting. Follow the link to watch it.
Back on February 22, 2011, I posted that exact idea on this MLBlogs site, except I used the beard of Raul Ibanez. I was making a joke about the magical powers of the Ibanez beard and decided tiny ninja’s would be funny. Apparently, MLB liked it as well:
So, coincidence or did MLB totally rip off my idea? You be the judge.
Perhaps it is simply that great minds think alike. In which case, I expect a job offer from MLB any day now.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The National League entered today’s All-Star Game not having won against the American League since 1996. That win took place in Philadelphia. Manager Charlie Manuel and the Phillies coaching staff had a huge task on their hands for the second consecutive year, trying to win World Series home field advantage for the NL.
Two Phillies took part in the game today; Chase Utley stayed home as he is recovering from surgery on his thumb. Ryan Howard served as the DH and went 0 for 2; but hits were difficult to come by in this game. Through 6 innings, the both teams had only 4 hits each. Two of the hits for the AL came off Phillie Roy Halladay, although one hit was a pop-up that landed in the middle of nowhere and ex-Phillie Marlon Byrd could not quite get to it.
The AL struck first in the 5th as Dodger’s pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo allowed an unearned run after a costly error where he overthrew 1st base on an easy grounder. He had already walked a batter, then the error gave the AL two runners and a sac fly scored Evan Longoria.
But the NL fought back in the 7th. Another ex-Phillie, Scott Rolen, singled followed by a Matt Holliday single. Rolen’s aggressive base running put him on third base. Byrd walked with 2 outs and then Braves catcher, Brian McCann, hit a bases-clearing double to give the NL the lead. Two runs were charged to Yankee Phil Hughes and another to White Sox Matt Thornton.
In the bottom of the 7th, Holliday took a bad route to a ball in left and it went off his glove, giving Blue Jay John Buck a double instead of an out. Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals was pitching but Holliday could not help out his teammate. Shane Victorino could have caught that ball from either left or center…just saying ;o)
So it would come down to the 9th inning. The NL did not score and Manuel brought in another Dodger, Jonathan Broxton, to try and nail down the save and the win for the NL. Broxton gave up a hit right away to the Home Run Derby champ, David Ortiz. He struck out the next batter but gave up a single to Buck. However, with Big Papi Ortiz running, Byrd was able to throw him out at second from right field. That was an amazing, heads-up play by Byrd! The next batter flew out and the National League won it!! FINALLY! A win for the NL! Way to go, Charlie! Now, let see if the Phillies can actually use the home field advantage this year; that, of course, would require a third straight trip to the World Series. Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
But to Wainwright’s credit, he worked out of the inning without allowing a run. Whew! So the NL went into the 8th inning with a 3-1 lead. The NL did not score in the 8th and Giants closer, Brian Wilson, erased the AL batters in the bottom of the inning. Personally, I think the mohawk is his secret weapon.
So it would come down to the 9th inning. The NL did not score and Manuel brought in another Dodger, Jonathan Broxton, to try and nail down the save and the win for the NL. Broxton gave up a hit right away to the Home Run Derby champ, David Ortiz. He struck out the next batter but gave up a single to Buck. However, with Big Papi Ortiz running, Byrd was able to throw him out at second from right field. That was an amazing, heads-up play by Byrd!
The next batter flew out and the National League won it!! FINALLY! A win for the NL! Way to go, Charlie! Now, let see if the Phillies can actually use the home field advantage this year; that, of course, would require a third straight trip to the World Series.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies started tonight’s game with the hope of winning and avoiding a 3-game sweep at the hands of the Giants. More than once, it looked like the Phils were going down in flames. And more than once, it looked like they might pull it out. It is hard to believe how it all went down:
The game stayed very close until the 6th inning when pitcher Cole Hamels fell apart. Having pitched very well through 5 innings, striking out 10 batters and allowing just 1 run, seeing him self-destruct in the 6th was hugely disappointing.
Hamels had the bases loaded and 2 outs and walked a run home. Any good pitcher in this situation, 2-outs, bases loaded and a full count, has to be able to throw a strike. The walk gave the Giants 2-1 lead and all the momentum. The next batter whacked a single to right, which scored 2 more runs and nearly sentenced the Phillies to a 3-game sweep.
Because the Phillies offense has been completely non-existent recently, you had to figure there was no way they could climb out of the 1-4 hole against back-to-back Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum. In fact, if you skipped the next 2 innings, you did not miss anything. Well, except maybe some additional humiliation imparted upon the Phils by Lincecum.
Ryan Howard hit him hard twice, once for a homer and once for a double. The only other hit for the Phillies off Lincecum was a blooper into right from Placido Polanco. Do not even worry about men left on base for this one through 8 innings; they didn’t have anyone on base to leave there.
But after Lincecum walked a batter with 1 out in the 9th, the Giants put in their closer, Brian Wilson.
This move helped out Chase Utley as he knocked a single for the 1,000 hit of his career. Congrats to Chase!
But Utley was not the only one to benefit from this bonehead move. The Phillies loaded the bases with 2 outs and Wilson on the mound. Jayson Werth stepped to the plate and smashed a 3-run double to right to tie the game up at 4-4! Giants fans got real quiet, real fast.
But hey, no worries for the Giants, right? Because the Phillies went ahead and countered that bonehead move with one of their own. That’s right, we’ll see your Brian Wilson and raise you Ryan Madson. In save situations, Madson has not been good…at all. Despite that fact, Madson pitched the 10th inning after the Phillies had finally taken the lead by a score of 5-4 on a wild pitch. And what does Madson do? Well, I figure maybe he felt bad for Wilson blowing the save for the Giants so he went ahead and blew the save for the Phillies. Nice of him to share the humiliation.
So it was on to the 11th inning with a 5-5 tie. Raul Ibanez started the inning off with a single and moved up to 2nd on a sac bunt. Our back-up, back-up short stop, Wilson Valdez, doubled to score him on a ball that bounced off the outfield wall just over the head of left fielder Eugenio Velez. And the adventure for Velez did not end there. Shane Victorino hit a routine fly ball to him, but Velez one-handed the catch and the ball bounced off his glove, allowing an insurance run to score for the Phils. Can you say “embarrassing?” Ouch.
Now the Phillies have a 7-5 lead and send sometimes bullpen guy, sometimes starter, Nelson Figueroa to the mound. He can now add sometimes closer to his resume…although the save did not come easy. Juan Uribe wound up with a single on a hit ball that ricocheted off Figueroa’s leg, allowing a runner to advance to 3rd. That runner then scored when the next batter doubled. The lead was down to one run with 1 out in the inning and runners on 2nd and 3rd.
Velez, still not done with his extra innings adventure, hit into a fielder’s choice which Ryan Howard fielded and threw home to get Uribe out at the plate. Catcher Brian Schneider did an amazing job blocking the plate with his glove and Uribe basically tagged himself out. The next batter grounded out to end the game and Figueroa picks up the first save of his career. Unbelievable.
This win gave the Phillies 4 wins and 5 losses on this road trip; certainly not great, but it could have been worse. The Phillies have the day off tomorrow to prepare for the 3-game home series against the Mets. And now, I need a Valium…whew!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography