Everyone expected Roy Halladay to come out firing tonight with the Phillies season on the line. Instead, he walked the first batter he faced and allowed a run to score. The entire 6 innings he pitched were uncomfortable, at best. He did only allow 2 runs total; the second one, of course, off the bat of Cody Ross with an RBI-double. But he never looked settled, fell behind in counts and ended with 2 walks and only 5 strike outs.
While Halladay’s entire outing was a nail biter, he did battle through it and kept the Phils in the game. Tim Lincecum only had one bad inning through 7 and that was the 3rd. The Phillies scored 3 runs in a very odd sequence of events. Raul Ibanez, back in the line-up after being sat yesterday, singled to start the inning. That was his first hit this entire series.
Lincecum then hit Carlos Ruiz to put two men on base with no outs. Halladay bunted what looked like a foul ball but the umpire, much to everyone’s surprise, called it fair. The base runners moved up as Pablo Sandoval at third missed the bag while Ibanez slid in. Halladay just stood at home looking confused as he was thrown out at first on a foul ball.
But it worked out for the Phillies as an error by Aubrey Huff allowed both Ibanez and Ruiz to score. Placido Polanco singled to score another run. But then with runners on first and second, needing a simple sac fly to score again, Ryan Howard struck out…again. Howard has zero RBI’s this series. Jayson Werth flied out to end the inning, stranding 2 runners.
You had to wonder if these stranded runners would cost the Phillies both the game (again) and the season. They headed into the 7th clinging to the slim 3-2 lead. Jimmy Rollins singled and then stole 2 bases to land on 3rd with Ruiz on 1st and only one out. But again, the Phillies failed to score. Pinch hitter Ross Gload hit a line drive right to 1st. Huff caught the ball and stepped on 1st for the easy double play.
So it would be up to the bullpen to keep the series going and send it back to Philly. Jose Contreras and JC Romero took care of the 7th. Ryan Madson was tossing 95mph bullets in the 8th, despite having pitched the last two games. He struck out the side, including our old friend Pat Burrell. Remember when a Burrell strike out was SO frustrating? Not so much anymore ;o)
Giving the Phillies a little extra breathing room in the 9th, Werth hit a monster homer over the huge right field wall. Brad Lidge had a 4-2 lead to work with and got the first out quickly with a shallow fly ball. Next out, an easy ground ball. (Biting my nails…) Pinch hitter, whose name no one can pronounce…Travis Ishikawa…IsHeWaWa? IshiMama? IdunnoA? Whatever. He struck out, so who cares. Phillies win, 4-2!!! LIDGE gets it DONE!
With the win tonight, the NLCS series heads back to Philadelphia with the Phils trailing 2 games to 3. They have an off-day tomorrow for travel and will play Game 6 on Saturday, either at 3:57pm or 7:57pm, depending on the Rangers – Yankees series results tomorrow. I assume Roy Oswalt is still slated to pitch; we should know for sure tomorrow. Whatever happens, I am excited to go to the game on Saturday; this team may still have life in them yet.
UPDATE: Halladay apparently pulled his groin early in the game last night during either the 1st or 2nd inning. Manuel said 2nd, but also said it was during the Buster Posey at-bat, which was in the 1st. At any rate, he pitched basically the whole game injured. Halladay will have an MRI today to determine how bad the pull is.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies seem determined to lose this NLCS series; they did everything they could think of to hand it over the Giants tonight to go down 3 games to 1. Lose tomorrow and they will go home. There are many ways to describe the Phillies effort this series, such as pathetic, disgusting or downright ugly. It appears they already have their bags packed.
Not to take anything away from the Giants who are a great team with an amazing pitching staff. But the effort they have gotten from Phillies so far in no way properly emulates the talent on this team. The offense has been minimal to non-existent and the pitching has varied from great (Roy Oswalt, Game 2) to unexpectedly lackluster (Roy Halladay, Game 1) to horrible (Joe Blanton plus Chad Durbin, Game 4).
Tonight, Blanton was not good. He allowed 3 runs on 5 hits and a walk in only 4 2/3 innings. All 3 runs were scored with two outs in the inning and one of those came after two wild pitches in the first inning. Worse than that, after the offense squeezed out 4 tough runs in the 5th for him, Blanton could not manage a shut-down inning and gave a run right back.
The 4 runs they managed came after a string of singles and a double by Placido Polanco. A hit batter loaded the bases but Jimmy Rollins swung at ball 4 to end the inning instead of adding on runs. The addition of Ben Francisco in place of Raul Ibanez was an improvement as Francisco actually hit the ball a few times. But in the end, not much else went right for the Phillies.
Trying to hand the game over on a silver platter, Chad Durbin and Carlos Ruiz combined to take a 4-3 Phillies lead in the 6th inning and turn it into a 4-5 deficit. Durbin led the inning off by walking Pat Burrell. Then, apparently leaving his brain back in Philadelphia, Ruiz called for inside fastballs to Cody Ross who has gobbled those same pitches up this series to the tune of 3 homers and 4 RBI. Well, he did it again with a double and eventually scored along with Burrell.
I hate to criticize Ruiz, who has been fabulous all year, but this was the 5th time he made the same mistake to Ross this series. FIVE times! WHEN will it end? And that was not the only mistake; Ruiz called for a high fastball to Pablo Sandoval that same inning, which led to a 2-RBI double. I was screaming at the TV, “Keep the ball down!” because I knew he wanted a high fastball. If I know this, WHY doesn’t Ruiz?? Sandoval took a ridiculous swing at a low curve ball earlier in the at-bat and missed badly. Plus, if you have EVER seen Sandoval hit, you know he likes them high. Hello??? Am I some sort of baseball genius or was this just a bonehead move by the pitcher and catcher? Hint: Bonehead move!!
I do not think “frustration” begins to cover the range of emotions I am experiencing right now, along with thousands of other Phillies fans. As just another example of this, why in that same 5th inning we discussed earlier did the 3rd base coach send Ruiz home from 2nd on a ball hit to very shallow center?
He was nailed at the plate by a mile. And why on that same play is Shane Victorino, who hit the ball, still standing on first base instead of advancing to 2nd during the play at home? Did he have a brain freeze? Whatever the issue, it was about to induce a brain aneurism as my head felt like it might explode.
In the 8th inning, doubles from Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth tied the game up. But is it just me, or did this not just seem to delay the inevitable? So going into the 9th inning and running out of pitchers that manager Charlie Manuel felt he could trust, he brought in starter Roy Oswalt on TWO days rest. I kid you not. He still had Kyle Kendrick, Brad Lidge and JC Romero in the pen, but went with Oswalt.
That turned out to be a huge disaster. Oswalt gave up two singles and a sac fly that scored the winning run for the Giants. Not Oswalt’s fault by any means; what did they expect from him on two days rest and off his usual routine?
Game 5 tomorrow – Roy Halladay will attempt to keep the series alive. Is it possible for the Phillies to win the next 3 games? Anything is possible I suppose.
Durbin photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies travelled to San Francisco for Game 3 of the NLCS but apparently, they did not take their bats with them. They did the same thing back in April when they scored only 3 runs in the first 2 games of that series. And last year, the Phils lost 3 of 4 against the Giants in San Fran. The Phillies lack of offense and extended slumps throughout the year were a big concern going into the postseason and it is easy to see why.
In today’s game, the Phillies left 7 men on base and went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position. They had hit Giants pitcher Matt Cain very well in previous meetings, but not today. Cain blanked them through 7 innings despite hitting 2 batters and walking 3; that is 5 free base runners that the Phillies did absolutely nothing with.
Chase Utley was the worst offender, leaving 3 on base and hitting a bunch of weak grounders. He also missed a ground ball which led to runs, although it was officially not scored an error. Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino left 2 on base and Raul Ibanez left 3. Ibanez looked ridiculous at the plate, swinging at pitches well out of the strike zone, even grounding into a double play to end the game. Early in the year, Ibanez suffered from prolonged slumps that took weeks and months to emerge from. The Phillies do not have time for him, or anyone else, to break out of it. I admire Charlie Manuel for sticking by his guys, but it is time for a wake-up call here.
So the Phillies offense wound up with only three hits the entire game. And although Cole Hamels was not at his best, it really didn’t matter what he did. Three hits are not going to win any ball games. Hamels had a quality start with 3 runs allowed in 6 innings, but I am sure even Hamels is not happy with that result. But he certainly did not get any help.
The two ex-Phillies on the Giants roster had a hand in the damage. Pat Burrell walked with 2 outs in the 4th to set up Cody “The Devil” Ross, who singled in a run. Burrell then scored on an Aubrey Huff single. Then Aaron Rowand led off the 5th with a double and eventually scored. I am sure Burrell and Rowand had a nice time sticking it to the team who sent them packing.
While this is a best of 7 series, the Phillies are now in big trouble. Joe Blanton was set to pitch tomorrow, but that game is now a must-win. It is possible that Manuel may ask his 3 ace’s all to pitch on 3 day’s rest. Blanton has not pitched since 9/24.
However, I am not so sure that short rest will be a good thing for any of these 3 starters, especially when you consider the number of innings they all pitched in the regular season. Roy Halladay pitched 250 2/3 innings this year, 2nd most in his career. Roy Oswalt pitched 211 2/3 and Hamels has never pitched on short rest. In fact, Hamels would be most affected as he has been very vocal in years past about being able to stick to his usual routine.
But even more concerning is the lack of energy and production out of this Phillies offense. They look lethargic and complacent. Right now, I feel like I am writing an obituary instead of a blog entry. No, they are not dead yet, but it is getting close. I would love to be wrong on this. Game 4 tomorrow: 7:30pm.
a post-game interview, Charlie Manuel said Blanton will start tomorrow.
Happy Bunny by Jim Benton
After last night’s disappointing loss to the Giants in Game 1 of the NLCS, it was a huge relief to see the offense return for the Phillies in Game 2 tonight. The Phillies have done very badly against pitcher Jonathan Sanchez in the past. But now they can put those performances exactly there…in the past.
While it was not a major explosion at first, the Phils took advantage of Sanchez’s wildness in the first inning where he loaded the bases and Jimmy Rollins took a walk for an RBI. They scratched out 2 more runs off Sanchez, although one was unearned. But with a little patience, they drew 3 walks, forced his pitch count up and chased Sanchez out of the game early in the 7th inning.
When the Giants bullpen took over in the 7th, so did the Phillies. Pitcher Roy Oswalt singled off Sanchez which is what brought on the pen. Another single from Placido Polanco plus a double steal from Polanco and Chase Utley kept things moving. Jayson Werth was intentionally walked and then Jimmy Rollins had another chance to get back in the swing of things. J-Roll whacked a bases clearing double! Finally, Rollins looks like the light has turned on in his head.
Oswalt was brilliant on the mound, as well as at the plate. In fact, through 8 innings, the only run he allowed was from the Phillies new nemesis, Cody “The Devil” Ross. Ross has no idea that this is his new nickname as I have not-so-anonymously assigned it to him. But I think it fits. In 2 games, Ross has seen 3 fastball sent middle-in to him; all 3 times, he sent the ball out of the yard. Two homers were off Roy Halladay yesterday and one off Oswalt today. So it is official…he is the devil.
But as we all know, the Devil does not always win. And tonight, it was Oswalt and the Phillies offense that came out on top. Rollins collected 4 RBI and his first 2 hits of the series. Polanco had 2 RBI, Ryan Howard had 2 hits and Utley walked twice. The only batters who looked totally lost at the plate today were Raul Ibanez and Werth who both struck out twice.
Ryan Madson pitched the 9th inning and kept the 6-1 score intact. So the series is tied at 1 game each and both teams will travel to San Francisco for the next 3 games. Monday is an off-day with the series resuming on Tuesday. Cole Hamels will pitch against Matt Cain; game time is 4:00pm.
Rollins photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
I feel like I have a hangover, but I did not have anything to drink. The Phillies 4-3 loss to the Giants last night was the kind of life-sucking let down that leaves you wishing you had stayed in bed. Where was the big comeback? Where was the timely hitting? And more importantly, where was the pitcher’s duel we were promised? The raucous crowd used all their energy to try and will this team to a victory. But when Shane Victorino struck out to end the game, all the air went out of the balloon.
Neither Roy Halladay nor Tim Lincecum pitched very well and both were visibly annoyed by the home plate umpire, Derryl Cousins, who had a moving strike zone. Cousins only called hitters out on strikes twice all night and one of those was Lincecum. Although, if you count the time he tried to call Jimmy Rollins out when he only had 2 strikes on him, I suppose he went for 3.
Ex-Phil Pat Burrell was out in the 6th inning on a strike right down the middle, but the idiot in blue didn’t call it, which led to 2 more runs. Of course, Raul Ibanez probably should have caught this ball that Burrell hit; and there was no need to scale the wall like he did either:
The Phillies offense had opportunities to score but did not capitalize. Ryan Howard led off the 2nd inning with a double and then never moved until the inning was over. In the 3rd, Carlos Ruiz tied the game with a homer. Halladay then singled and it looked like the Phillies had a real shot at rattling Lincecum. But then Victorino stepped to the plate and grounded into a double play to kill all the momentum. Still, Placido Polanco and Chase Utley kept the inning going only to have Howard strike out to end it.
It was that kind of up and down drama that never materialized into runs. Jayson Werth, the only Phillies batter with 2 hits in the game, nailed a 2-run homer in the 6th to give the Phillies a chance at a comeback. But despite the defensive efforts and pitching to keep it a 4-3 game, the Phils offense never stepped up and got it done.
For the Giants, Cody Ross was getting it done. I never liked Ross when he was a Marlin and last night’s game certainly has not changed that as Ross hit not one, but two home runs off Halladay. In fact, I now believe that Ross is pure evil; the spawn of Satan. I swear he is the brother of Chucky, the most despicable of all Satanic spawn. He must be stopped before he steals our souls. Exorcism, anyone? Ugh.
By the way, has anyone else noticed that despite Rollins’ claims he is healthy that he looks like he could not hit the broad side of a barn right now? I hope Charlie Manuel watches film of his at-bats and holds him out of the game if he is not right. It is the playoffs; they do not have time for Rollins to work his way back. Love ya Jimmy, but please do not hurt the team by trying to tough it out.
One fun note from the game was the whistling and catcalling directed at Lincecum and his long hair. Some fans shouted that he looked like a girl and then the whistling began, as if being directed at a pretty girl. Lincecum was asked if he noticed and he said, “I was thinking I must have a really nice butt.” Sorry Timmy, you actually have no butt at all. I have photographic evidence.
And here is the full Photo Album from the game, which includes pre-game ceremonies, a shot of VP Joe Biden in the crowd and some Phanatic fun to cheer you up.
So tonight the Phillies will lean on Roy Oswalt to get a win. They will also try to do something they have never done before; hit Jonathan Sanchez. Cross your fingers…game time is 8:00pm.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Today’s Phillies – Marlins match-up was surrouned by all sorts of rookie news. The highly anticipated debut of the National’s Stephen Strasburg took place just up the road in DC. The right-handed pitcher signed a record $15.1 million contract last August and has been the most hyped prospect in decades. He lived up to the hype, pitching 7 innings, allowing 2 runs and striking out 14 batters, a club record. Very impressive, although he did pitch against the Pirates. The Nats will know more when he faces a tougher team, but even so, this kid looks like the real deal.
And for the Marlins, their big prospect, Mike Stanton, made his debut against the Phils. Stanton had a 3-hit night and scored twice. Needless to say, another sparkling debut for a team in the NL East.
Kyle Kendrick started for the Phils; watching him pitch this year in place of the still injured JA Happ has been an exercise in patience. Sometimes he looks good, like last week in Atlanta, and sometimes he is terrible. Today’s outing against the Marlins fell under the “terrible” category. Kendrick pitched only 5 innings and allowed 5 runs, plus he committed a throwing error which led to more runs for the Fish. Ryan Howard also committed an error in the game which put a runner on first. The next batter homered to drive that run in.
But bad pitching and sloppy defense was paired tonight with some actual hitting. Why the Phillies cannot seem to do all three of these things well all at the same time remains a mystery. Amidst Kendrick’s awful effort and 2 more runs allowed by the Phillies bullpen, the offense woke up and started to hit.
Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino both homered, Chase Utley got 2 hits in consecutive at-bats and Raul Ibanez had 4 hits and 2 RBI on the night. 4 hits? Where has this guy been all year? It’s about time…
Jayson Werth was benched to give him a chance to recover from an awful 10 at-bat hitless streak. Ben Francisco filled in and did not do much better early on. After many sloppy adventures in the outfield and grounding into 2 double plays, one of which cost them a run, Francisco made up for it all with a 2 RBI single in the 9th to give the Phillies a 9-8 lead. Wilson Valdez followed up with a single tricked up the 3rd base line to score another run.
Brad Lidge had another chance at a save with the 10-8 lead. With two outs, Lidge found himself in hot water as the loaded the bases after a close call at second base did not go the Phillies way. But no worries, he popped up the next batter and notched save #3 on the year.
By the way, this is the 3rd time this year that Kendrick has started a game and Jose Contreras got the win. Even after giving up the go-ahead run, Contreras still came out on top; Kyle must be wondering why Jose keeps stealing his thunder.
Tomorrow will be a rematch of the Roy Halladay perfect game on May 29th in Miami. Same team, same two pitchers; Halladay faces Josh Johnson again. Hopefully, same result ;o) Game time is 7:05pm.
By the way, is it just me, or does Cody Ross of the Marlins look a bit like Chucky? Creepy…
Francisco head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography
Jamie Moyer completed the sweep of the Florida Marlins today by frying the pesky Fish; his record now stands at 12-1 against the Marlins. This win was a back breaker for the Marlins, who lost 13-2, and even had to use their right-fielder, Cody Ross, to pitch the final inning. Moyer’s pitching baffled the aggressive young hitters who struck out 6 times and managed only 1 run against Moyer. Great defense was a help as well, with Raul Ibanez making an unbelievable snag of a long fly ball against the wall in left. Had he missed it, it would have plated at least 2 more runs for the Fish. Ibanez continues to impress, silencing all doubters who were upset by the exit of Pat Burrell.
Jimmy Rollins got the day off to reflect on his awful start to the season and Eric Bruntlett filled in nicely, going 1 for 4 with 1 RBI, 1 walk and 2 runs scored. Pedro Feliz must like fried Fish as well; he had 3 hits, 2 RBI, 1 walk and 2 runs scored. Yummy! In fact, all of the Phillies, Moyer included, had at least one hit in the game except Chris Coste. Coste also had a brain-fart in the 5th inning when he grabbed a bunted ball and threw to 2nd instead of getting the sure out at first base. Not his day, for sure. But luckily, the rest of the team was hungry and happy to gobble up the Fishies. My favorite part of the following video is about 1 min, 15 seconds in…you’ll see why:
The Phillies would love to continue their feeding frenzy tomorrow when they take on the Washington Nationals at home with Joe Blanton on the mound. Start time is 7:05pm and if you are hungry too, head out to the ballpark; it is dollar dog night! Not as fun as Fish heads, but still pretty good.
In case you missed it in my earlier blog, I have posted a Photo Album of the Iron Pigs game from yesterday. You will see shots of Carlos Ruiz rehabbing, Kyle Kendrick pitching, the park, the mascots and much more! Enjoy :O)
And as usual, don’t forget to VOTE for your All-Star’s today! Get your Phillies into the game!! Vote a maximum of 25 times per day, per email address.
Photo by Jenn
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