For the fourth consecutive year, the Philadelphia Phillies have won the National League East title. It is the first time they have won 4 straight in Phillies history. They also currently hold the best record in the league with a record of 94-63. Roy Halladay took the mound tonight at Nationals Park in search of his 21st win of the year; he got that win plus his first division title and will play in the postseason for the first time in his 13-year career.
Not only that, but Halladay accomplished the feat by pitching a complete game shut-out against the Nats. Halladay only allowed 2 hits, did not walk a batter and struck out 6. He even avoided having his head chopped off by a wild pitch while batting in the 9th. The bat saved him as the ball ricocheted off it.
The offense early on was provided mostly by Jayson Werth. Werth homered in the 2nd and then drove in 2 more runs with a double in the 6th. Carlos Ruiz then doubled Werth home to give the Phillies a 4-0 lead over the Nats. But the real explosion came in the 9th where they scored 4 more runs, all with 2 outs in the inning. Placido Polanco, Chase Utley and Werth all collected RBI’s in the 9th.
The bottom of the 9th went by quickly as Halladay knocked the Nats down to clinch the division. He hesitated for a moment before celebrating after the final out; either he was soaking it in, or he was just not sure it was really happening. After the game, Halladay told Gary Matthews, “It was fun but it’s only going to get funner.” Halladay is amazing…he is totally allowed to make up his own word ;o)
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE NL EAST CHAMPION PHILLIES!!
By the way, many Phillies fans have been wondering, where is J-Roll?
Manager Charlie Manuel has said a few times this week that we are going to see a start from Jimmy Rollins who has been nursing a hamstring injury. He finally pinch hit on Sunday but was supposed to start today and did not due to “rain.” Yes, they are being so careful with J-Roll that he cannot play in rain. Is he made of china or is this just extreme precaution? Or perhaps he has been kidnapped, trapped under a heavy object or tied up with Duct tape? Hmmm…. Manuel says now he will start tomorrow…we shall see.
With the division all tied up, not only should Rollins get some playing time, but expect to see many bench players getting tuned up for the playoffs while the regulars get some rest. The Phils have 2 more games in DC and 3 in Atlanta. Tomorrow’s game time is 7:05pm. In the meantime, pop the champagne…time to celebrate!
Game 3 with the Marlins today turned into a Big Top Circus act. Both teams battled and drama ensued…
To start with, it was not an awful game for Joe Blanton tonight. But there was certainly some excitement. The 3rd inning in particular had a little bit of everything, much like a circus; a couple hits, an error, a minor injury, a deflected ball and a few runs. And Blanton was involved in all of it. He gave up the hits, committed the error, got nailed in the leg with a hit ball and later deflected a sure double play ball, ruining the opportunity for Chase Utley who could then only get one out. The only thing missing from this inning was a juggling clown.
But after Blanton survived the 3rd inning weirdness, he did fairly well. It was not pretty, but it kept the Phillies in the game. Blanton ended up with 6 1/3 innings pitched, 2 earned runs, 2 unearned runs, 2 walks and 5 strike outs.
The offense worked out some runs to help Blanton out as well. The middle of the line-up was productive with Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins getting 2 hits each; 1 RBI for Howard and 2 for Rollins. Raul Ibanez had a huge night with 3 hits and 3 RBI; Ibanez, Howard and Shane Victorino each hit solo home runs as well.
But all that offense was about to be erased by the Phillies bullpen. Oh yes, the circus has come back to town…and not in a good way. Antonio Bastardo allowed one of Blanton’s runners to score in the 7th. But the 8th inning was nearly the killer as the bullpen got into serious hot water…
Jose Contreras looked like he had never pitched in the majors before; he started off with a home run and a double. A Jayson Werth throwing error later allowed another run to score and Contreras wound up with 3 earned runs. With 2 outs, JC Romero came in and balked, moving the Marlins runner to 3rd base. He then walked Logan Morrison on 4 pitches.
However, it was not over yet…Ryan Madson came in and tossed a wild pitch, which probably should have been handled my Carlos Ruiz. Instead, the runner on 3rd scored to tie the game. So the Phillies bullpen took a 7-4 lead and blew it. And 2 of those 3 runs scored with 2 outs in the inning. Disgusting.
With a 7-7 tie in the bottom of the 8th, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco put the “T” in team; Victorino singled and stole second. Then Polly singled to score Victorino. And that all happened with 2 outs; what a way to pick-up your teammates!
In the 9th, it would be in the hands of Madson to save this see-saw game. He got 2 outs quickly and then walked a batter. Then facing ex-Phillie Wes Helms with a runner on, Madson struck out his old teammate. This 8-7 win, plus a Braves loss tonight = FIRST PLACE! The Phillies also became the first team in the National League to reach 80 wins. Again, it wasn’t pretty…but we’ll take it. You may now exhale…whew!
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The San Diego Padres came into today’s game against the Phillies tied with the Reds for the best fielding percentage in the National League. They also lead the league in defensive efficiency ratio, which is basically how many times they turn a batted ball into an out. But facing the Phils and trying to defend against a 3-game sweep, the Padres committed 4 errors today.
While the errors helped, as 2 of the Phillies 5 runs were unearned, the bigger factor in the game was the Phillies pitching. Cole Hamels was outstanding on the mound; he did not allow a run through 8 innings and struck out 6 batters. It looked like he was slinging gas-powered rockets up there. In the entire 3-game series, Phillies starting pitching allowed just 2 runs.
Hamels was in such a groove today, he did not want to come out of the game after the 8th inning. In the dugout, he even refused to shake his pitching coaches’ hand for a few seconds, hoping that Rich Dubee would change his mind and let him pitch the 9th. But with a 4-0 lead at the time and Hamels having thrown 115 pitches, there was no need to take a chance that Hamels might get hurt.
The defense was sharp behind Hamels as well. Placido Polanco made several tough plays at third base. Mike Sweeney, giving Ryan Howard the day off, made a great running catch on a pop-up and handled many difficult throws at first base.
Sweeney contributed on offense as well; he smacked his first home run as a Phillie in the 7th inning; it was a 2-run shot. Sweeney ran around the dugout afterwards hugging everyone he could get his hands on. This guy is pure positive energy…you have to love that.
Later in the 8th, Jayson Werth hit a solo homer, which had to feel good. It was just his 3rd homer in August, which has been a month full of ups and downs for Werth. Jimmy Rollins also had an RBI in the game and Carlos Ruiz was the only Phillie with multiple hits.
Ryan Madson pitched the 9th inning and slammed the door for the Phillies 16th shut-out of the year. The 5-0 win went to Hamels who finally got some run support from his teammates. The Padres, for the first time all year, have now lost 4 games in a row.
The Phillies will take a short ride from San Diego over to Los Angeles tonight and start a 3-game series with the Dodgers tomorrow night. Roy Halladay will pitch and game time is 10:10pm. Break out the No-doze, East Coast fans.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
According to Wikipedia, the Big Bang Theory refers to the idea that the universe was originally extremely hot and dense at some finite time in the past and has since cooled by expanding to the present diluted state and continues to expand today. The same theory can be used to explain the Phillies 2010 season thus far. They got off to a very hot start in April, cooled off from May to most of July and are now “expanding.” Although, “exploding” may be a more accurate term.
At first, having to face the best pitcher in the National League today did not seem like good news for the struggling Phillies offense. But after scoring 6 runs yesterday, maybe they got some of their Mojo back. Because they absolutely destroyed the Rockies ace, Ubaldo Jimenez.
Jimenez entered the game with a record of 15-1 and a miniscule 2.38 ERA. But he left the game after only 2 innings and 6 runs allowed on 3 hits and 6 walks. All 6 runs scored in the top of the 3rd inning without Jimenez even recording an out.
It was starting to look like the “diluted” state of the Phils offense was about to pass. The Rockies bullpen gave up one more run, but finally, after 30 minutes, got out of the bottom of the 3rd inning.
Jimmy Rollins, very comfy back in his leadoff spot, kicked off the 3rd inning with a single to left. The next two batters walked as Jimenez started to look rattled. Then Ryan Howard smacked a triple down the 1st base line. The walks kept coming and Rollins hit a triple to score two more runs in his second at-bat of the inning. The Rockies must have wondered if that inning was ever going to end.
While the inning did have to end eventually, the Phillies kept trying to add on and give pitcher Kyle Kendrick a huge cushion. Kendrick had extra motivation to pitch well today. In his last outing, Kendrick allowed 7 runs and was then demoted to the minors. You had to expect a solid effort today as the injury to Jamie Moyer forced the Phillies to give Kendrick one more shot.
Kendrick took advantage of the unexpected opportunity and pitched very well. By the 7th inning, Kendrick had an 8 run lead to work with and he had allowed only 1 run at that point. He loaded the bases in the 7th with 2 outs, but managed to get out of it with a fly ball to center. So Kendrick went 7 innings, allowing 1 run on a solo homer. This result was more than anyone could have hoped for from Kendrick.
There were a number of positives to come out of this game, aside from the obvious…a win. Rollins looks like the player of old again with 3 big hits, a stolen base and 3 RBI. Raul Ibanez is still loving the 3-hole in the line-up; he had his own big bang with 2-run homer in the 6th. Jayson Werth had 2 hits and Howard racked up 3 more RBI. Placido Polanco played 2nd base today and Greg Dobbs was at third, which turned out to be a good move. Polanco had 2 hits and Dobbs added a hit, an RBI and a walk and played well at 3rd. Even Ben Francisco got a pinch-hit double.
So is this the big bang the Phillies have been waiting for to kick start their offense? A 10-2 win preceded by a 6-0 win should serve as a very good sign. The players that have not been hitting are coming back to life. It is a welcome sight for sure.
Another note of interest, rookie Vance Worley made his major league debut today, pitching the 9th inning for the Phillies. The 22-year old righty starter was 9-4 with a 3.20 ERA in AA ball for the R-Phils; he had pitched 17 consecutive scoreless innings in his last two games before being called up to the Phils to work in the bullpen. Worley was a 3rd round draft pick in 2008 and has made considerable strides since pitching at a 5.34 ERA last year.
In today’s 9th inning, Worley’s fast ball topped out at 95 mph with a 76 mph curve ball and an 83-84mph slider. He looked solid, changed speeds well and the end result was 2 strikeouts and a fly ball out to center. Great job by the rookie!
So, if JA Happ can give the Phillies a solid start tomorrow, they have a shot at winning 4 in a row which has not happened since before the All-Star break. I will be at the game and shall return with photos. See you there!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Here is a summary of the Phillies 2010 first half, according to Jenn:
Best Off-Season Move – Acquiring Roy Halladay
Worst Off-Season Move – Trading Cliff Lee (duh!)
Biggest Win – 7/9/10: The Phillies overcame a 7-1 deficit in the 9th inning against the Reds to win the game in the 10th; it was the second walk-off homer win in a row, giving the Phillies a huge confidence boost.
Biggest Loss – When the bullpen blew a 5 run lead; Phillies lose to the Twins by a score of 10-13 on 6/19/10
Best Series Win – The 4-game sweep of the NL Central 1st place team, the Reds, 7/8-7/11
Worst Series Loss – Losing 3 out of 4 to the worst team in the National League, the Pirates, 7/1-7/4
Biggest Surprise – Jamie Moyer: At 47-year old, the combination of Moyer’s age and 3 off-season surgeries left many doubting he could be an effective pitcher. But Moyer has performed beyond anyone’s expectations. But at the half, Moyer has 9 wins and 2 complete games, one of which was a shut-out.
Biggest Disappointment – Raul Ibanez: Batting only .243 with 7 homers at the half, Ibanez is on pace to hit only 14 homers, which would be his worst power outage since 2001. He has also only driven in 39 runs, and is therefore on pace for 78 RBI, which would be his worst since 2004. Ibanez gave his all in the first half of 2009, but since then, it has been mostly downhill and his age is starting to show. With another entire year left on his contract, this is looking like another bad move by the Phillies.
Biggest Question Mark – Brad Lidge: Sometimes Lidge looks like Mr. Perfect from 2008 and sometimes he looks like a little leaguer. The Jekyll and Hyde routine is getting old. Lidge needs to step up his game if the Phillies are to have success.
Best Moment of the First Half – Roy Halladay’s Perfect Game, 5/29/10 (again, duh!)
Worst Moment of the First Half – Chase Utley’s thumb injury. Noooooo! Not Utley!! Then there are the rest of the major injuries that have plagued this team: Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, JA Happ, Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, etc… The combined impact of these star players going down have combined for the Worst Moments of the year so far.
Jenn’s Crystal Ball
– Will Jayson Werth be with the Phillies next year? – No. Sorry, ladies. He may even be gone sooner than that…
– Will the Phillies make a trade before the deadline? – Yes.
– Which position will they upgrade? – Pitching
– Will Jenn continue to let her sanity slip slowly away as each day without Chase Utley passes? – Sadly, yes. Please come back soon, Chase!
– And finally, will the Phillies win the NL East again? – My crystal ball broke due to being overworked when I asked this question. But I will step out on a limb here and say, yes. I mean, YES! Let’s be positive people ;o)
Jamie Moyer will take the mound tonight in Chicago against the Cubs to kick off the 2rd half. Game time is 8:05pm. Go Phillies!
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
In the final game of the series against the Blue Jays who served as the home team in Philly this weekend, the Phillies walked away with an 11-2 win. The 47-year old pitcher, Jamie Moyer, walked away with his 9th win of year and a few more entries in the baseball record books.
Moyer gave up a 2-run homer in the 2nd inning which propelled him past former Phillie Robin Roberts for the most home runs allowed by any pitcher. The 506 record breaking home runs were allowed to a total of 322 different batters in 42 different ballparks. There has been some debate over whether or not Moyer should be proud of such a record. But this type of record simply means that he has been pitching for a very, very long time. Not too many other players have been around this long.
Adding to that thought, Moyer broke another record today. He became only the 40th player in history to have pitched 4,000 innings. This is another testament to the longevity of Moyer’s career. And to still be pitching, and being successful, at his age is just amazing. He went 7 innings against the Jays on Sunday and that 2-run homer mentioned earlier was the only scoring he allowed.
Jimmy Rollins helped jump start the offense with a single in the first at-bat of the game. Rollins ended with 3 hits, each hit to a different part of the ballpark; one down each baseline and one up the middle. Rollins plus Ben Francisco and Dane Sardinha each had 2 RBI a piece. Francsico looked good in left and was 3 for 5 at the plate. Could this be the end of Raul Ibanez as an everyday player? If Ibanez does not start hitting, it very well could.
So the bats were popping and some great defensive plays highlighted the win as well. Both Rollins and Jayson Werth were all over the place snagging balls out of the air:
The Phillies were ahead 7-2 by the 7th inning and that is when the bottom really fell out for the Jays. The play on the field began to resemble a long series of sight gags that The Three Stooges may have attempted in one of their comedy bits. Throws by Jays fielders sailed into no-man’s land, balls were mishandled and there was even a passed ball at the plate. By the end of the 7th, the Jays had committed 3 errors, 4 total for the game, and the Phillies had scored a total of 6 unearned runs in the 11-2 win.
Wilson Valdez, who is officially the Master at hitting into double plays, tried to do so twice in this game only to have his attempts foiled by the Jays sloppy defense. Darn those errant throws! Wilson is clearly going for some sort of DP record and they may have ruined his chances. (Please note the sarcasm in the above paragraph)
The series win went to the Phillies with 2 out of 3 games. To commemorate this unique occasion of playing an American League game in a National league ballpark while giving home field to the AL team (did you follow all that?), I have put together a short “Canadian’s In Philly” montage:
Is it just me, or does the woman hugging both the Blue Jays stuffed toy and the Phanatic stuffed toy seem confused? Or perhaps a tad conflicted? We wish her well.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography