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
The Phillies manager, Charlie Manuel, collected his 500th victory for the team today with a 4-game sweep of the Rockies. Only two other Phils managers since 1900 have more wins: Gene Mauch, 645 and Danny Ozark, 594.
The game did not start well as pitcher Joe Blanton quickly gave up 2 runs in the first innings to the anxious Rockies who were hoping to salvage one game in this series. But, despite a few walks, Blanton was sharp after the 1st and wound up going 6 innings.
The Phillies offense got them back into the game quickly, which was also a huge help. In order, Ross Gload singled, Greg Dobbs doubled and Brian Schneider tripled. All that was missing was a home run. Instead of the homer, Blanton reached first on a missed catch by Jason Giambi at first.
But then Jimmy Rollins batted and wound up fouling a ball off his foot, sending him to the ground in pain. He limped through the rest of the game and afterwards had an X-Ray. There was no break; he just has a bruise. However, it is still unknown how long he may have to rest his foot before playing again. Here is the sequence, with a nice moment of sportsmanship too:
Things got quiet for a while after that until the Phillies scored 2 more runs in the 6th. Placido Polanco and Raul Ibanez each hit RBI-singles to extend the lead. But many players contributed to the offense today, especially Schneider, with the huge triple in the 2nd and he also walked and scored in the 6th. Greg Dobbs went 2 for 4 and Polanco had 2 hits as well. Here are a few shot from the game:
There was some great defense and really amazing efforts on tough plays also:
And then came the heart-stopping 9th inning. You know when I mention heart attacks, Brad Lidge must somehow be involved, right? Well he sure was. It started with a double, but Lidge got two outs after that. With just one out to go, ahead of the batter in the count, Lidge grooved a fastball right over the plate which Seth Smith hammered for a 2-run homer, cutting the lead to 5-4. Two walks and a single later and the bases were loaded…again…just like the day before. But Lidge finally got a ground ball, which he fielded himself for the final out.
While Lidge is totally on my last nerve with these cardiac episode inducing outings, what is the alternative? Do we need a new closer? Probably. But has anyone else in the pen proved they can handle the job? No. This is the proverbial rock and a hard place. Others have tried to close and failed, like Ryan Madson, for example. So sadly, it looks like we are stuck with Lidge for now.
As for the recent trade rumors, Dan Haren went to the Angels so it looks like Roy Oswalt is the final option for the Phils to pick up a starter. But as I talked about on yesterday’s Fightin’ Phillies podcast, Oswalt does not seem interested in coming here and with the no-trade clause, he has final say. But do we really want a guy who is scared of the media and shies away from pressure? I know I don’t. It will be interesting to see if anything happens before the trade deadline.
In the meantime, feel free to check out the Photo Album from today’s game. Thanks to my friend, Audrea, I was in one of the business suites today, which are very, very nice. I put a few photos of that in the album as well.
The D-Backs come to town tomorrow. Game time is 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography