Tagged: Eric Bruntlett

Game On

It is finally Thursday!  Just a few short hours until the Phillies and Dodgers begin the battle for the NLCS title!  The final roster decisions have been made and few were interesting; Chan Ho Park did indeed make the roster and Kyle Kendrick did not, as I thought would happen.  But in a surprise move, Brett Myers was also left off and Eric Bruntlett added.  So, 11 pitchers instead of 12 and 1 more bench player.

Myers was very unhappy with the news, but maybe not entirely shocked.  His one outing in Game 2 of the NLDS did not go well; he walked two batters and hit another.  After to injuries this year, it appears Myers is not able to find his control yet.

As for the starters, it will be Cole Hamels tonight and Pedro Martinez tomorrow…maybe.  Martinez told reporters he has not gotten enough work in and that his BP session was “erratic.”  Either he does not feel ready, or this is some mental game he is playing with the Dodgers.  Whatever the case, it makes you a bit nervous, doesn’t it?

Some other fun notes about this series:

– The Phillies will be facing lots of old Phillies!  Larry Bowa, former player and manager, is the Dodgers 3rd base coach.  Pitchers Randy Wolf and Vincente Padilla are both former Phils as well as slugger, Jim Thome.

Manny Ramirez used to play for Charlie Manuel in Cleveland and Manuel says he is “like a son” to him.

Chan Ho Park, Pedro Martinez, Paul Bako and Jayson Werth are all former Dodgers.

– Both teams each have 8 players who were born in 1975 or earlier.  LOTS of experience :O)

– This is the fifth time the Phillies and Dodgers have met in the NLCS; they are split 2-2 lifetime.

– At 21 years old, pitcher Clayton Kershaw is the youngest player on either roster and will start the game for the Dodgers tonight.

Game time is 8:07pm….Get the rally towels going in your living room!PA071279.jpg

Go Phillies!!!!

Photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

 

NLCS Roster Decisions

Nothing has been made officially yet, but expect a similar roster for the NLCS against the Dodgers as the Phillies had in the NLDS.  It looks likely that Cole Hamels will pitch game one since he is on full rest.  Plus, with the birth of his son and some time home with the wife and child, he should now be ready to focus on baseball.  Hamels has done exceptionally well against the Dodgers.  He threw a shut-out against them this past June and also beat them twice in last year’s NLCS.

Cliff Lee will remain a starter as well with JA Happ, Pedro Martinez and Joe Blanton being juggled around again from the pen to the starters spot.  The bullpen however may see a change with Chan Ho Park returning from injury.  He is travelling to LA with the team, so he may be in position to take a roster spot away from Kyle Kendrick.

The bullpen is still making many people very nervous.  Brad Lidge did save 2 games, but still does not look super sharp.  Ryan Madson, the other potential closer, blew 2 saves in the series in the 8th inning.  And Brett Myers, who has done the job before, played only 2/3 of an inning and walked 2 batters.  This is a huge weak spot, especially when compared to the Dodgers bullpen which is much better.   

As for the bench players, this will probably stay the same; Greg Dobbs, Matt Stairs, Ben Francisco and Miguel Cairo.  However, with 8 at-bats between these 4 in the NLDS, there was not a hit among them.  Stairs did walk once in a critical situation, but Cairo and Dobbs both went 0 for 3.  Could this open the door for Eric Bruntlett to step in for Cairo?  Probably not, but the bench players are still a concern.

Then again, when you have the big guns like Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth to bail the team out when they run into trouble, you have to like the Phillies chances.   So, here is the schedule:

Gm 1

PHI @ LAD

Thu

Oct. 15

8:07 PM

Gm 2

PHI @ LAD

Fri

Oct. 16

4:07 PM

Gm 3

LAD @ PHI

Sun

Oct. 18

8:07 PM

Gm 4

LAD @ PHI

Mon

Oct. 19

8:07 PM

Gm 5*

LAD @ PHI

Wed

Oct. 21

8:07 PM

Gm 6*

PHI @ LAD

Fri

Oct. 23

8:07 PM

Gm 7*

PHI @ LAD

Sat

Oct. 24

8:07 PM

 

And just for fun, let me introduce to you our newest family member and Phillies fan, Chase Utley Kitten.  He is a Blue Point Ragdoll:Chase kitten.jpg

Yes, I named him Chase Utley….I fully expect him to pick up a ball and glove by 3 years.  At 2 ½ months, we will have to settle for the jersey.

Go Phillies!

NLDS Roster Announced


Thumbnail image for 208910.jpgThe Phillies announced their playoff roster today and there were a few surprises.  Here is how it played out (courtesy of Phillies.com):

Catchers (2): Paul Bako and Carlos Ruiz

Infielders (6): Miguel Cairo, Greg Dobbs, Pedro Feliz, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley

Outfielders (5): Ben Francisco, Raul Ibanez, Matt Stairs, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth

Pitchers (12): left-handers Antonio Bastardo, Scott Eyre, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and Cliff Lee and right-handers Joe Blanton, Chad Durbin, Kyle Kendrick, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Pedro Martinez and Brett Myers

Miguel Cairo was the right decision over Eric Bruntlett.  And the rest of the bench players are what I expected.

There was one surprise with the pitchers, however.  Clay Condrey and Tyler Walker were left off the roster in favor of Kyle Kendrick and Antonio Bastardo.  I did say earlier that Bastardo may be picked over Walker, so that is not too shocking considering the lack of lefties in the pen.  But Kendrick over Condrey, I am a bit surprised about.  Kendrick did pitch well in September, but Condrey is more consistent and has a lot more experience.  I think the nagging back injury did him in; the team must not be convinced that Condrey is healthy.

I also predicted that the Game 1 starter would be Cliff Lee, and that is correct.  Cole Hamels will get Game 2 and Game 3 has yet to be decided.  My feeling is that it should be JA Happ as the Phils want to overload the Rockies with lefties.  But all Charlie Manuel would say is that Happ, Joe Blanton and even Pedro Martinez will be “available” in the pen for the first two games.  I suppose then whoever does not get used will start Game 3.

This may also be a strategic move.  This gives less preparation time to the Rockies since they will not know who to prepare for.

So, if you are actually home tomorrow at game time, tune in at 2:37pm for the first pitch.  The game time still disgusts me.  I understand all teams need air time, but how exactly is it that the reigning World Champions do not get one of the prime time slots?  I’ll tell you why…because MLB cares only about the Yankees and the Red Sox.  It has been and probably will always be about these teams, whether deserving or not.  I root for the Yankees too, so it is not personal.  It is a matter of respect.

Not to mention, normal people have jobs, kids have school and 2:37pm does not allow ANY of these people to enjoy the game, unless they call out sick or skip school.   And how about the poor Rockies fans?  The game time for them is 12:37pm! (Mountain time)  That is just wrong.  But hey, if you are a Yankees or Sox fan, I’ll bet you are happier than a pig in mud, right?  Must be nice. 

Well, best of luck to everyone tomorrow (except the Rockies, of course)!  Go Phillies!

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

Roster Ramblings

The post-season roster has not been set for the Phillies; they have until 10am tomorrow to make the final decision.  The central core is not in question, with 6 current and former All-Stars in starting roles.  roster.gifHowever, the pitching rotation, bullpen and bench players are going to be tough decisions.

 

Manager Charlie Manuel seems to favor Eric Bruntlett on the bench because he runs well and can play almost every position in the field.  However, Bruntlett has not hit well and ended the year with 18 hits in 105 at-bats for a .171 average.  Miguel Cairo has performed much better and can play most of the infield spots; he ended the season batting .267 and went 7 for his last 19 including a triple and a home run in the final game.

 

While Cairo should get the nod over Bruntlett, it may not happen that way.  Bruntlett was with the team last year and Manuel tends to favor guys he is most familiar with.  Both could make the team, but only if they sacrifice a bullpen spot.  Ben Francisco, Greg Dobbs and Matt Stairs should all be locks for the roster, despite the facts that Dobbs has been playing hurt and Stairs batted only .194 this year with 5 homers in 103 at-bats.

 

The pitching is even more complicated.  Most likely Cliff Lee will start game 1 as Cole Hamels would only have 3 days rest.  However, Lee has been mostly awful in his last 7 starts, allowing 27 runs in 39 2/3 innings.  That is an ERA of about 6.13.  Not good.  The Phillies hope he will turn things around for his first post-season appearance.

 

Hamels was equally inconsistent, ending the season with a record of 10-11 and a 4.32 ERA.  Pedro Martinez has been dealing with a sore neck, so his ability to pitch deep into a game effectively is in serious question.  Joe Blanton and JA Happ have been the only two good, consistent arms in the rotation all year and now Happ may get bumped to the bullpen due to a lack of lefties.  That would be a real shame though, because Happ has the best record of the starting staff with 12 wins, 4 losses and an ERA of 2.93.  Honestly, I think they need to keep Happ as a starter and take their chances with the lefty situation in the pen.  Happ is more valuable for 6-7 innings than he would be for only a few batters.

 

That brings us to the pen, which is basically a mess.  Every regular bullpen pitcher has suffered at least one injury this year, except Ryan Madson.  Right now, JC Romero, Jamie Moyer and Chan Ho Park are still hurt and will not play in the NLDS; Moyer is done for the year.  That leaves Scott Eyre as the only experienced lefty, and he is pitching through a sore elbow.  Chad Durbin, Clay Condrey, Brad Lidge and Madson are on the roster for sure.  That leaves Tyler Walker, Kyle Kendrick, Brett Myers and the 2 rookies, Sergio Escalona and Antonio Bastardo to fill the remaining spots.

 

Escalona and Bastardo are both lefties but lack experience and have exhibited a lack of pitching control at times as well.  It would be tough to add one of them to the roster, even though lefties are needed.  Kendrick spent most of the year in the minors, but pitched fairly well for the big club in September until his last outing where he gave up 3 runs.  And Myers has suffered two injuries which kept him out almost the whole year and he still does not look quite right.  That leaves Tyler Walker whose 3.06 ERA is 3rd best in the pen, behind Eyre and Condrey.

 

But with all the injuries, the Phillies options are limited.  My best guess is this: Madson, Lidge, Condrey, Eyre, Durbin, Walker and Myers with Pedro Martinez added to the list instead of Happ.  That makes 12 pitchers total, including the 4 starters: Happ, Lee, Hamels and Blanton.  Although, if one lefty in the pen looks problematic, they may keep Bastardo instead of Walker.  Of course, I may be totally off.  We shall see.

Lidge: 11 Strikes, And He’s Out…Or Is He?


The Phillies needed a win last night to bury the Florida Marlins and end any chance they may have at the playoffs.  Cole Hamels pitched 7 innings and allowed 4 runs on 8 hits.  Not a great day for Cole, but it kept the team in the game.

The team took a 6-4 lead into the 8th inning last night and after a 45 minute rain delay, Ryan Madson pitched the 8th.  Madson gave up a single, hit the next batter and eventually gave up one run to make it a 6-5 game.  Ok, fine.  They should still win the game, right?  Wrong.

P8306049 Lidge.jpgEnter (again) Brad Lidge: a double, a walk and 2 singles later, not only does Lidge blow the save, but he loses the game for the Phillies…again. 

11 blown saves later, a disgusting 7.48 ERA which leads all closers in baseball and what does manager Charlie Manuel have to say about it?  In a Forrest Gump moment, Manuel tells the media, “I’ve got confidence in him. I keep sending him back out there and hopefully he does the job. That’s about all I can say.”  Really?  Is that ALL you have to say about that???  OMG.

Ok, let me throw a cushion out there for a second – we all love Manuel and we all appreciate Lidge for what he did last year.  And as people, they are both very nice, dedicated and all-around good guys.  That being said, here come the pins in the cushion.  Lidge is DONE as this team’s closer, at least for 2009.  Manuel, as loyal as he is, needs to put the TEAM first and personal feelings aside.  He cannot continue to let Lidge hurt this team!

I sound like a broken record again, I know.  But how many more disasters does the rest of this team have to put up with?  They play their hearts out every game to win only to be let down by BOTH Lidge and Manuel.  Lidge clearly has issues and maybe he can work them out in the off-season and come back next year renewed.  But for 2009, he should be benched and if the team makes the playoffs, he should not even be on the post-season roster.

Note I said “if” the team makes the playoffs.  With a 6.5 game lead, it should be a lock.  However, if Manuel keeps throwing Lidge out there, I’d say the chances are closer to 50/50.  Give the closers role to Madson or Brett Myers, if he gets healthy or even JC Romero if he returns soon.  I would rather see Eric “unassisted triple play” Bruntlett (Phillies utility player) on the mound than Lidge at this point.  It is THAT bad.  So, why does everyone see this except for Manuel?

Charlie: I love ya, but if this team goes down in flames because of your loyalty to Lidge, the Philadelphia fans, media and maybe even the team management will tear you to pieces.  And how are the other players going to feel when their hard work goes down the toilet as a result?  I would not want to be in your shoes when this happens.

And so the Magic Number stays at 5 since the Phillies lost their series to the Fish, 1-2.  Up next, the Phils will play a 4-game series in Milwaukee against the Brewers starting tonight at 8:05pm.  I wish them luck and a “Lidge-Free” day.

Photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

 

Under The Big Top

 

After the oddities involved in yesterday’s Phillies-Mets match-up, including a game-ending unassisted triple play, the circus act continued into the beginning of today’s game.  Yesterday, the Phillies hit two 3-run homers in the first inning; today, they only managed one 3-run homer in the first inning, but still an amazing feat.  Ryan Howard provided the power after Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch and Chase Utley walked.  Victorino also stole second and then wound up on third base after a throwing error that same inning, leaving the Mets looking like a pack of clowns.

But the spectacle got even weirder in the bottom half of the 1st; Chase Utley must have taken up juggling in his spare time, because that is exactly what he did with a routine pop-up from the first hitter for the Mets, Angel Pagan.  Utley dropped the ball as Pagan sped around the bases and then proceeded to join the Mets clown troop by throwing the ball away into left field.  The double error allowed Pagan to round the bases and score.  Pagan is the same Met who wound up with an inside-the-park homer in the 1st inning of yesterday’s game after Victorino became confused over the Citi Field ground rules and did not field a ball that got stuck under the outfield wall padding.

Next, Jayson Werth put on his clown suit as he over ran a ball to right field, stumbled around trying to catch it on a hop and looked absolutely ridiculous doing it.  Gary Sheffield wound up with a triple and eventually scored.  And this was only the 1st inning.

Oh yes, the circus has indeed come to town.  But Sheffield, despite his triple, was next in line to receive his badge of silliness as in the 2nd inning, he too dropped a routine pop-up which came off the bat of Phillies catcher, Paul Bako

Lee Circus2.jpg
I suppose he did not Utley to feel alone in his humiliation.  Hey thanks, Gary!

But after the 2nd inning, things began to calm down and Cliff Lee was amazing, yet again.  Ignoring the shoddy defense at the start of the game, he buckled down and pitch 7 solid innings, allowing 6 hits and NO earned runs.  Both Mets runs were unearned due to the Utley errors.  Lee is now 5-0 as a Phillie and has yet to even walk a batter!  Lee is the anti-clown; just amazing.

Howard hit another homer (say that 5 times fast) in the 3rd inning and the 2-run shot plus the 3-run shot earlier was all the offense Lee needed to notch the win.  But just for fun, Raul Ibanez knocked in one more in the 9th inning on a double to left that scored Utley.

Chan Ho Park and Brad Lidge took the 8th and 9th inning respectively and shut down the Mets.  Lidge looked good which is excellent news, especially considering he went into a non-save situation and still got the job done cleanly.

Player of the Week

Jayson Werth has been on fire!  Whatever has been lit under his backside recently has earned him Player of the Week honors for the National League.  Werth led the majors with 5 home runs and 29 total bases plus he hit .440 for the week.  Today, he did not have a hit in the game, but did walk three times.  Congrats to Jayson!

Unlikely Hero

Eric “I am only hitting .158” Bruntlett has been asked to send his jersey to the Hall of Fame.  Yesterday, Bruntlett turned an unassisted, game-ending triple play after a horrible start to the inning where he committed 1 official error and bobbled another ball that was eventually scored a hit.  But redemption is sweet as Bruntlett not only saved the game, but he made history in the process.

This will actually be the 2nd item for Bruntlett in the Hall; last year, he donated his “Elmer Fudd” cold-weather, ear-flap cap from the World Series.

Next Up

The Phillies are on their way to Pittsburgh to begin a 3-game series with the Pirates tomorrow.  Joe Blanton will take the mound for the Phillies; game time is 7:05pm.

 

Photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

 

The Twilight Zone: Unassisted Triple Play

If you missed this game, I pity you.  Complete insanity.  But let us begin at the beginning:

Going back to New York for the first time since leaving the Mets, Pedro Martinez had an eventful day on the mound. 

P8094583 Martinez.jpg
However, his start on the mound was actually preceded by his first turn at the plate.  The Phillies absolutely destroyed Mets starter Oliver Perez taking him deep twice in the 1st; both Jayson Werth’s and Carlos Ruiz’s homers scored 3 runs each.  Down 6-0 with 2 outs, Perez had to face his old teammate and Martinez stood at the plate while Perez tossed three straight balls to him.  With that 3-0 count, the Mets manager sprung from the dugout and took Perez out of the game mid-batter.  To sum up the inning for Perez: total humiliation.

But the bottom of the 1st inning was no less eventful.  The first batter of the game for the Mets hit what looked like a ground rule double to centerfield.  As the ball jammed itself under the outfield padding, Shane Victorino threw his arms up in the air to tell the umpires that the ball was unplayable.  Raul Ibanez saw that the umpires did not react and quickly snagged the ball and threw home, but the throw arrived too late and Angel Pagan wound up with an inside-the-park home run.  Apparently, Victorino was unaware of the ground rules in the new Citi Field and balls stuck under the padding are still considered playable.

Both sides must have felt like they were entering the Twilight Zone after the weird start to the game.  Martinez looked uncomfortable on the mound and was missing his spots badly.  He allowed 4 runs in the first 3 innings but just when it looked like it was going to be a very bad day for him, Martinez settled in and pitched lights out for the next 3 innings.  He was so good the last two innings, it looked like he might go out for the 7th, but Charlie Manuel decided to go to the bullpen.  The Phillies are probably trying to continue to ease Martinez into longer outings little by little and did not want to risk an injury.

The Phillies scored a few more runs in the game and even Martinez helped himself to a hit and an RBI in the game.  Bruntlett TZ.jpgVictorino took a career high 3 walks in the game and Eric Bruntlett had 3 hits in a rare start at second base.  But the insanity continued into the 9th inning and most of it had to do with Bruntlett.

Bruntlett hit a line drive to right field in the 9th and it was just barely caught by the outfielder; the umpire ruled he trapped the ball and it looked like Eric had a triple.  But the Mets argued and the officials overturned the call; a call that, by the way, was NOT reviewable.  Replays showed he did make the catch but he did not show the transfer from glove to hand to the umpire. 

Then in the bottom of the ninth Brad Lidge took the mound and all hell broke loose.  Ryan Howard missed a ball that rolled past him and gave the Mets a triple when it should have been the first out.  The next batter hit the ball to Bruntlett who bobbled it for error #2; the run scored and still no outs.  Daniel Murphy hit a single to make it 1st and 2nd, still no outs.  And then the unbelievable happened; Jeff Francour, the same Met who caught the Bruntlett liner in the top of the 9th, hit a line drive to guess who?  Eric Bruntlett.  The runners were off on the pitch so Bruntlett caught the ball for one out, stepped on second for the next out and then tagged Murphy to complete the unassisted triple play!  The unassisted triple play to END the game no less.  OMG!

The announcers said that this was the first time ever that an unassisted triple play ended a game; but it is actually the 2nd time.  Johnny Neun did it on 5/31/27 for the Tigers.  But in all of baseball history, it was only the 15th time the unassisted triple play has ever happened.  Two of those have now been completed by Phillies; Mickey Morandini did it on 9/20/92 for the Phils.  You just saw history people; more rare than the no-hitter or even the perfect game; the unassisted triple play – AMAZING. 

Photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*