Tagged: Cardinals

Opportunity Lost As Cards Tie Series

So far in this NLDS, two of the Phillies heralded four aces have been hugely disappointing.  In Game 2, Cliff Lee gave up 5 runs in 6 innings.  Tonight in Game 4, Roy Oswalt did exactly the same.

Those two starts, and even yesterday’s Game 3 win, only served to amplify another Phillies major issue: the offense.  The bats have been mostly quiet in every game except the first one.  The Phillies snuck by with 3 runs for a win in Game 3 thanks only to a Ben Francisco homer.

It looked like the Phils might put a hurting on the Cardinals early tonight, scoring two quick runs in the 1st.  But instead of piling on, Ryan Howard struck out and on the same pitch, Hunter Pence got nailed going to second, although on replay, he was safe.  No matter, because that one strike out / throw out killed the rally and the offense died after that.

The slow, painful death of the Phils offense this postseason could signal the premature end of their playoff run.  Even with Roy Halladay to pitch in the final Game 5 of the NLDS on Friday, if the Phils do not score, what Halladay does will not matter.

The only light moment in tonight’s disgusting loss was the reappearance of the Busch Stadium squirrel.  The BS Squirrel enjoyed a run around the field in Game 3.  In Game 4, he interrupted an Oswalt pitch by running straight across home plate.

The umpire had no sympathy for Oswalt.  Shocking, I know.

The Phillies will head back home, in a 2-2 series tie.  Friday night is a case of win or go home…start praying that the Phillies find their bats before then.

 

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*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Big Ben Unlikely Hero In Game 3 Win

With the NLDS series tied 1-1 between the Phillies and the Cardinals, Game 3 was going to be big for the winner.  The Phillies had not been able to hit Cards starter Jaime Garcia in previous meetings, so for the Phillies, this was not an easy task.

Equally intimidating, Cole Hamels pitched for the Phillies.  Over 6 innings, he did not allow a single run.  But multiple base runners and deep counts ran Hamels out of the game earlier than the Phillies would have liked.

Big Ben Francisco There was no score by the time Hamels was out of the game, but an unlikely hero emerged in the top of the 7th inning to keep Hamels in-line for the win.  Shane Victorino singled to start the inning and later, Carlos Ruiz was intentionally walked to bring up Big Ben Francisco.

Outfielder Francisco  was a relative non-factor most of the year after the emergence of John Mayberry Jr. and the acquisition of Hunter Pence.  He hit only 6 homers the entire regular season and saw limited at-bats.

But on the one night the Phillies really needed a hero, Big Ben stepped up with a 3-run blast in the 7th.  Even better, the bomb came off a pitch from Garcia who suddenly lost some of his command in that inning.  Finally, the Phillies hit Garcia and took a 3-0 lead.

The Phillies bullpen made the final 3 inning a real adventure though.  Vance Worley gave up a run in the 7th.  Then he and Brad Lidge combined to load the bases in the 8th.  But Ryan Madson, brought into the game earlier than usual, coaxed a double play ball to end the threat.  Madson did give up a run later in the 9th, but still earned the save.

This was a huge win for the Phillies who now need only one more win to erase the Cards and advance to the NLCSRoy Oswalt will pitch tomorrow night; game time is 6:00pm.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Phillies Clip Cardinals’ Wings in Game 1

Game 1 of the Phillies – Cardinals NLDS looked like a party before the game began:

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Then after scoring 3 runs off Phillies ace Roy Halladay in the first inning, the Cardinals were given false hopes of possibly winning the game.  After all, Halladay does not usually implode in this fashion, so those 3 runs looked like a killer blow.

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The fans were very quiet after that, especially when the Phillies offense got themselves out, making Kyle Lohse toss only 6 pitches in each of the first two innings.  The mood was so depressing, it felt like a funeral.

But in the bottom of the 4th, the Phillies offense showed signs of life, with a little help from a Cards error.  Chase Utley doubled, Ryan Howard walked and then Shane Victorino hit what should have been an easy pop-up.  But David Freese dropped the ball, giving Victorino a second chance.  He took advantage with an RBI-single for the Phillies first run of the game.

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By the 6th inning, the Phillies had finally figured out Lohse.  After Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence singles, Howard delivered a huge blow with a 3-run bomb, giving the Phils a 4-3 lead.  Raul Ibanez added on with a 2-run shot later in the inning.

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As the Phillies added on, Halladay found his groove.  He did not allow a single hit to the Cards after the 2nd inning.  Halladay went eight innings, allowing only the 3 runs in the 1st.  This guy is amazing.

With an 11-3 lead, the Phillies decided to save Halladay’s arm for another day and gave the 9th inning to Michael Stutes.  It seemed like a good situation to baptize the rookie into his 1st postseason appearance.  However, it did not work out too well for Stutes.

Stutes wound up getting charged with 3 runs in 1/3 of an inning and closer Ryan Madson had to be brought in to clean up the mess.  So the final score was 11-6.  Worse for Stutes, this huge blunder has pretty much rendered him useless for the rest of the series.

So on to Game 2 Sunday night at 8:37pm.  The good mood of the Phillies players Phillies and coaches yesterday is sure to carry over:

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Here is the full Photo Album from Game 1…enjoy!

Go Phillies!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Roster in Place, the Phillies Are Ready for the NLDS

Game 1 of the NLDS is scheduled for a 5:07 start tonight.  Here is the post-season roster for the Phillies:

  • Catchers (2): Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider.
  • Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez.
  • Outfielders (6): Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry Jr., Ben Francisco and Ross Gload.
  • Pitchers (11): Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton.
  • Extras: Infielder Pete Orr and Catcher Erik Kratz will travel with the team. RHP Justin De Fratus, LHP Joe Savery and outfielder Domonic Brown will work out in Clearwater, FL and Outfielders John Bowker and Brandon Moss and RHP Michael Schwimer have been sent home.

The only slightly interesting move here is that Blanton was chosen for the roster instead of David Herndon, despite missing most of the season with injuries.  The Phillies chose experience over a younger guy, even though Herndon was with the team most of the year.

As for the pitching match-ups in the series, here are the probable starters for the Phillies and Cardinals:

  • Game 1: Roy Halladay vs. Kyle Lohse (ex-Phillie)
  • Game 2: Cliff Lee vs. Chris Carpenter (on 3 days rest)
  • Game 3: Cole Hamels vs. Jaime Garcia

These are some odd moves by Tony LaRussa.  It will either turn out to be genius, or a huge mistake.  The Phillies should be able to handle Lohse and will then get Carpenter on short rest.  That is another situation they can probably take advantage of.

The pitcher the Phils have the most trouble with is Garcia, who was pushed back to Game 3 because his home numbers are much better than his road numbers.

This all seems to add up to a Phillies advantage, however, that remains to be seen.  Also of note, Game 2 has been pushed back to 8:37pm (ugh) on Sunday due to the Yankees – Tigers rain postponement.

I also wanted to share with you an article I just read about how Danys Baez has helped Antonio Bastardo out of his recent pitching funk.  Baez was released by the Phillies in July and was not picked up by another team.  He has been sitting at home in Miami watching and noticed Bastardo, a player he previously mentored, was having problems.  He reached out to Bastardo and helped him find the issues in his mechanics.

Bastardo has bounced back since then and it seems that Baez is the reason.  The story made me a little sad, thinking about how much criticism Baez took while he was in Philly from fans and media.  For him to swallow his pride and reach out to an ex-teammate like that is a sign of true character.  He may not have been the bullpen solution the Phillies hoped for, but he gets huge brownie points in my book for just being a great guy.

Hope to see you all at the game tonight!  Go Phillies!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Phillies Make History With 102 Wins

The Phillies ended the 2011 regular season with 102 wins after a 13 inning  4-3 victory over the Braves.  The 3-game sweep knocked the Braves out of the playoffs and also set a new record for the Phillies.  The franchise mark of 101 wins in a season has been surpassed, making this 2011 team statistically the best in Phillies history.

It also made Charlie Manuel the best manager in Phillies history.  His 646th win with the team surpassed the previous record of 656 held by Gene Mauch.

And as usual, the Phillies fought for their manager until the very end.  The game lasted 4 1/2 hours and 13 innings with 17 total pitchers used between the two teams.  The pitching was very good all around for both and hits were hard to come by; 11 for the Phils and 10 for the Braves.

In the 13th, Hunter Pence finally broke up the stalemate, knocking in the winning run with an RBI-single.  He had two hits in the game, as did Chase Utley, Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard.

By beating the Braves, the Phillies basically chose their own opponent.  The win handed the Wild Card spot to the Cardinals.  The Phillies struggled against the Cards in the regular season, winning only 3 games out of 9.  But coming off the momentum of this 3-game sweep and making Phillies history, the team should be ready to face the Cards again.

In the American League, the Red Sox are out, having lost what was previously and 8.5 game lead in the Wild Card race.  As they crashed and burned against the lowly Orioles again, the Tampa Bay Rays climbed out of a 7-0 hole to beat the Yankees and take the Wild Card spot.

So here is how the NLDS and ALDS line-up:

  • Phillies vs. Cardinals
  • Brewers vs. Diamondbacks
  • Yankees vs. Tigers
  • Rangers vs. Rays

The first game for the Phillies is this Saturday; no time has been announced yet.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

100 Wins

For only the 3rd time in franchise history, the Phillies have reached 100 wins for the season.  They beat the Braves by a score of 4-2 on Monday night and Cliff Lee earned the win.

The Phillies strung together 10 hits against a Braves team desperate to make the playoffs.  They are still one game ahead of the Cardinals in the Wild Card race.  But the Phillies could spoil all the fun.  While the Phils have already won the division, there is still the franchise record of 101 wins out there to tie or beat.

So the Phillies are not going to, nor should they, go easy on the Braves.  Raul Ibanez stepped up last night with 2 big RBI’s and several regulars had multi-hit games.  And four players out of the bullpen also stepped up and held onto the lead.  Game 2 is Tuesday night at 7:10pm.

Before the game, the Phillies went about their annual rookie hazing, dressing the young guys up in ridiculous outfits:

The back row is Trainer Ichiro Kitano, Erik Kratz, Joe Savery, Vance Worley, Michael Schwimer and Domonic Brown.   The front row is Justin DeFratus, Michael Martinez and Michael Stutes.

Doc Helps Cure Phillies Losing Streak

After losing eight straight games since clinching the NL East, the Phillies sent Roy “Doc” Halladay to the mound today to operate on the Mets.  Thanks to six scoreless innings from Doc, the Phillies had a shot at a win.

But the ailing offense would also need to find a cure for their disease.  Manager Charlie Manuel decided to shuffle the line-up around to see if that band-aid might stick.  Chase Utley was moved to the 2-hole, Hunter Pence to the 3-hole and Shane Victorino 5th behind Ryan Howard.

Whether it was the new line-up or just the agony of losing 8 straight, something worked.  The Phillies came out swinging and scored 3 runs in the 1st inning, 2 of which came off a Pence homer.  By the end of 4 innings, the Phillies had piled on 9 runs.

Every starter in the line-up had at least one hit, including Halladay.  Carlos Ruiz was absolutely on fire going 4-4 with 2 RBI and a walk.  Pence made up for yesterday’s blunders by going just a double short of the cycle and driving in 3 runs.  Jimmy Rollins also collected 3 hits.

The only negatives in the game came out of the bullpen.  After claiming that lefty Antonio Bastardo had been tipping his pitches which was the cause of his recent struggles, Manuel put Bastardo into the 7th inning to test the theory.  News flash – Tipping his pitches was not the issues.

Bastardo struggled with control and missed his spots.  In just 1/3 of an inning, he gave up 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks.  It was not good.  As the only lefty in the bullpen, if Bastardo cannot find his control again, this will be a huge issues in the playoffs.

Vance Worley also ran into trouble in his return to the bullpen.  He closed out the 7th for Bastardo just fine, but the 8th was not as easy for him.  Worley gave up one run to bring the score to 9-4.

The win gives the Phillies 99 for the season with 3 games to go against the Braves.  Beating the Braves could still give them the franchise record in wins, but it may also be a catch-22.  If the Braves do not get the Wild Card, it will probably go to the Cardinals.  The Phillies may then wind up facing the Cards in the NLDS.  They won only 3 of 9 against the Cards in the regular season.

Game 1 against the Braves is Monday night at 7:05pm; Cliff Lee will pitch.

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Halladay head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*