The Phillies are 1 win away from advancing to the NLCS against the Dodgers after beating the Rockies last night 5-4. They hold a 2-1 advantage in the series and also have the chance today to win 2 post-season games on the same day; last night’s game ended at 2:15am this morning and tonight will be a 6:07pm start time. The Phillies finally got a prime time slot, since everyone else is done with their NLDS series. Gee thanks, MLB, she says as she holds her eyes open with toothpicks…
This win was a true team effort with contributions up and down the line-up. Chase Utley hit a solo homer in the 1st inning and the Rockies answered with 2 runs later that inning. The Phillies took the lead again in the 4th with 3 runs. It may have been more, but Pedro Feliz hit into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and no outs. But Carlos Ruiz picked his teammate up and knocked an RBI single to give the Phillies the lead again.
The two teams traded runs again in the 6th and 7th innings, but the Phillies took the lead for good in the 9th with some small ball. Jimmy Rollins led off with a hit and Shane Victorino bunted him over. Chase Utley hit a dribbler for a single and moved Jimmy to third; Ryan Howard knocked him in with a sac fly. So the Phillies gave the ball to Brad Lidge who, despite making us all bite our fingernails again, got the save.
Lidge seems to have his confidence back, which is great news. If the Phillies are going to win, they need him. The pitching overall on both sides was shaky, but bad umpiring did not help either. JA Happ got squeezed at the plate for his short 3 innings of work where he allowed 3 runs and was prematurely pinch hit for in the 4th when the potential to add on runs arose. Happ throws pitches that move a lot in a diagonal pattern across the plate. The ball passes over the plate and ends up in the catcher’s mitt towards the back corner of the plate. The ump last night was watching where the ball ended up instead of where it crossed the plate and missed tons of calls.
But the ump did that on both sides and both starters were forced out of the game in under 4 innings. Blown calls have been the story of this entire NLDS, not just the Phillies and the Rockies. It even started with the Twins-Tigers 1 game playoff where a batter was clearly hit with a pitch but no one called it. And it continued last night with the ball-strike calls and even the “dribbler” Utley hit in the ninth. If you watch the replay, the ball hit Utley in the leg and therefore should have been foul. Instead, it was a hit. But both the Phillies and Rockies were victims of bad calls, so I guess in the end it evened out.
It does make you wonder though, how are these umpires continually allowed to affect the outcome of such important games? Did you write your letters to Bug Selig last night as I suggested? If so, it was a VERY big pile. Anyone else out there tired of the bad calls and no accountability here? Feel free to vent in the comments.
But the Phillies won the game and that is what really matters. And they did it in the most awful conditions; game time temperature was 35 degrees, which ties for the coldest post-season game on record. The game also took 4 hours and 6 minutes. Yikes! No sleep for me, but at least I am not grouchy ;O)
In other news, Scott Eyre was hurt in the game; he twisted his ankle coming off the mound. No word yet on his condition, but we hope he is ok!
Cliff Lee gets the ball tonight and hopefully, he can repeat the amazing performance he had in Game 1. Go Phillies!
Photo by Jenn
The Phillies went down in flames last night against the Marlins, who are officially out of the post-season race. While the Phils have already clinched, home field advantage is still up for grabs but the team has been playing like they are not worried about home field. They looked tired and lifeless in a 2-7 loss last night. The team does play well on the road, with a 48-33 record this year. However, nothing beats the 10th man advantage at home.
Ryan Howard gave the Phils their only jolt of energy in the 1st inning when he blasted a 2-run homer. But pitcher Joe Blanton had a bad game, allowing 4 runs in the first 2 innings, which seemed to put the team right back to sleep. Overall, Blanton allowed 5 runs in 6 innings and took the loss. Several relief pitchers got some work and looked pretty good; Chad Durbin, Clay Condrey and Scott Eyre did not allow any runs in their outings and all 3 are recently recovered from injuries, so that is good news.
On the other hand, the rookie lefty Sergio Escalona, did not do well. He allowed 2 runs on 3 hits in 1 inning and now has a 5.25 ERA for the year. Escalona was the only lefty possibility out of the pen besides Eyre now that JC Romero is hurt. JA Happ may wind up in the bullpen as a result, because at this point, the Phillies cannot afford to put Escalona on the post-season roster.
If the Phillies can win their final 2 games, home field may still be possible. They own the tiebreaker over the Cardinals, but not the Dodgers. The Dodgers would need to lose their final 2 games. So at 4:10pm today, the Phillies will try to beat the Marlins and then tomorrow at 1:35pm. I will be at the last game and return with photos!
Congress & Steroids
Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter is looking into a possible Congressional inquest to see whether the regulations on dietary supplements should be revised by Congress. The inquiry is a result of over-the-counter supplements being tainted with steroids and illegal substances and Specter became interested in the subject due to JC Romero’s 50-game suspension this year.
Romero took an over-the-counter supplement after getting approval from the Major League Baseball Players Association but the supplement was illegally tainted. Romero sued the supplement manufacturer, but MLB refused to over-turn his ridiculous suspension. The CBS article on the topic goes into greater detail, but essentially these companies need to be held accountable. They are putting people’s lives at risk and it needs to stop. Best of luck to Senator Specter!
Photo by Jenn
The Phillies lost against the Astros last night by a score of 3-5 behind the obviously tired arm of Cliff Lee.
Lee has pitched a career high 231 2/3 innings this year and is showing signs of fatigue. Yesterday, he allowed 3 runs on 7 hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings and was all over the strike zone, seemingly unable to command his fastball. In fact, Lee has allowed 27 runs in his last 7 games after allowing only 3 runs in his first 5 games with the Phillies. This is not good news for the guy who is likely to be our #1 pitcher in the playoffs.
While Lee seems to be healthy though, other are not. JC Romero experienced soreness in his previously injured forearm after only 1 game back. Romero will seek a second opinion this week, but it does not look good for our #1 lefty in the pen.
Jamie Moyer, who has been wonderful in middle/long relief since being sent to the pen, is out for the year and will have surgery on 2 groin and 1 one abdomen muscles that he tore in the game on 9/29. Moyer will be sorely missed in October.
Another long reliever who did a great job in the pen is Chan Ho Park. Park is also out with an injury. He attempted to pitch in an Instructional League game in Clearwater a few days back and felt a pull in the injured hamstring which means, his recovery time is still uncertain.
Add to that, Scott Eyre is pitching through a bone chip in his elbow. He was effective in the clinching game on Wednesday, but how long can he go with that sort of pain? That leaves the pen with only 1 lefty who is healthy and that is the rookie, Sergio Escalona.
That means it is more and more likely that JA Happ will be moved to the bullpen for the post-season to add a lefty arm. And that is really unfortunate, especially since he and Joe Blanton are the only 2 starters who have been consistent all year. In fact, they are the only 2 starters who have recorded wins since 9/21/09 – the last 11 games.
Brett Myers is back, but he is rusty and will need some work to be ready for the post-season. The Phillies need to get their pitching staff back on track and healthy if they are to go far in the playoffs. We will see how it plays out over the last 3 regular season games; the Marlins are up…game time tonight is 7:05pm.
Photo by Jenn
Pop the champagne Phillies fans; for the 3rd year in a row, this team has won the NL East and will be playing in the post-season. In a game that included at least one RBI from every starting position player except lead-off hitter Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies powered their way to a 10-3 mashing of the Astros to win the title. Rollins did have 2 hits in the game though, plus a walk and he scored twice.
A true team effort, the win included back-to-back triples by Rollins and Shane Victorino, a massive 2-run homer by Raul Ibanez, a sac fly, a stolen base and 3 doubles. Pedro Martinez pitched only 4 innings and allowed 3 runs, but his teammates picked him up with their hitting and some great relief pitching. Kyle Kendrick, who spent nearly the whole year in the minors, pitched 3 innings of scoreless ball allowing only 2 hits. Chad Durbin picked up the 8th; Scott Eyre got the 1st 2 outs in the 9th and, believe it or not, Charlie Manuel put Brad Lidge in to finish the game. Lidge got his old buddy Lance Berkman out on 1 pitch.
So, it is time to rejoice! Since I was not able to attend the game tonight, I broke out some old photos from the 2007 NL East clinching game. Here are a few ways the Phillies may now be celebrating:
Now just take a deep breath and exhale…ahhhhhh! Time to relax…for now. Home field advantage is still up for grabs. That challenge will begin with tomorrow night at 7:05pm in the last game of 4 against the Astros. Go Phillies!
Photos by Jenn
Except champagne photo by: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/t
With a 3-2 victory over the Braves last night to win the series 2 game to 1, the Phillies will have an 8-game lead in the NL East over both the Braves and the Marlins going into September. Joe Blanton pitched another beautiful game and got through 7 innings of one run ball; the only run came off a solo homer from Martin Prado in the first inning. Blanton looked a bit shaky through those first few innings, but settled in well and only gave up 3 hits.
And for the 2nd night in a row, Chase Utley went yard; his solo shot to right field in the 4th was the only run for the Phillies until Carlos Ruiz stepped up in the 7th. In honor of the Ruiz backpack night, a giveaway for kids 14 and under, Ruiz smacked a double to left to score Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz. Ruiz went 3 for 3 on the night; it was his 5th 3-hit game of the year. Maybe the Phillies should give away a Ruiz bobble head next?
In the not-so-great offensive category, the Phillies are still struggling with runners in scoring position. They left 14 men on base and again, had the bases loaded with no outs and failed to score. Blanton hit a line-drive to first base and Ruiz was double off after the catch. Jimmy Rollins then hit a weak grounder to end the inning. The offensive outage is concerning, but thanks to great pitching, they came out on top.
Defense was a big part of the win as well. Ryan Madson, who is entering Brad Lidge-bad territory, got into a huge jam in the 8th inning again. He hit the first batter he faced and then gave up back-to-back singles which scored a run for the Braves. Without recording an out, he was removed from the game and Scott Eyre took over.
Brain McCann then hit a sharp grounder to Utley, who fielded it perfectly and flipped to Rollins who threw to Feliz at third; Feliz tagged Chipper Jones for the unusual 4-6-5 double play. Having eliminated the lead runner, Eyre saved the Phillies from disaster and gave Lidge a 3-2 lead to work with. Amazingly, Lidge nailed down the save with relative ease; it was his second save in a row. Whew!
By the way, did anyone see the actor, Paul Rudd (movies: “I Love You, Man”; “Anchorman”; “Knocked Up”), sitting in the 10th row behind home plate last night? He was just a few sections over from me so I took a few photos. The woman next to him (right side, dark brown hair) is none other than Jen Utley, Chase’s wife.
A very welcome off-day is upon us as the Phillies offense needs to rest and charge up for the September charge. Watch for September call-up’s which may include pitchers Kyle Kendrick, Jack Taschner and Rodrigo Lopez; infielders Mike Cervenak and Andy Tracy; outfielders John Mayberry Jr. and Jason Ellison; and we will likely see a catcher added – maybe Paul Hoover. Those are my guesses anyway.
A lot of moves will be made as the Phillies are also anticipating the return of Brett Myers, JC Romero and Clay Condrey to the bullpen plus Greg Dobbs. All four have been on the DL and are very close to coming back.
And finally, here is the complete Photo Album from last night’s Phillies – Braves game. Tomorrow, the San Francisco Giants come to town for 3 games and some serious pitching battles will ensue. You may remember the Phillies were stomped in San Fran back in July, losing 3 out of 4 games. The Giants are tied for a wildcard spot right now so this will be a very tough match match-up. Cole Hamels starts it off tomorrow at 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn
…Now say that five times fast ;O) JA Happ and Ryan Howard combined for a 1-2 punch last night that sent the Braves away with a 6-game deficit in the NL East as the Phillies took home the 4-1 win. Early on, it looked like rain might put a damper on the evening, but after a 1 hour and 37 minute delay, the game finally got underway.
Happ collected his 9th win of the season as he pitched 7 2/3 innings and allowed just 3 hits and 1 solo home run. His command was off and on all game and he did wind up walking 6 batters, but got outs when he needed to. Never rattled by tight situations, Happ continues to be a consistent starter that the Phillies can count on.
Add to that consistency a little Howard power and the result is a win. Howard has struggled in the second half, but these last few days, he looks like he is hitting balls into another solar system. Howard has 4 home runs in his last 4 games, with 2 of them rocketing out of the park last night for the 20th multi-home run game of his career. In fact, Howard did everything last night to win the game, except steal a base. His defense was stellar and he turned two very impressive double plays; at the plate, he notched the two home runs plus a single and a walk. All four Phillies runs in the game were credited to Howard.
In relief, Ryan Madson and Scott Eyre combined to record 3 of the last four outs in the game. Eyre almost had his first save since 2005, but after he walked a batter, Charlie Manuel decided to go to Brad Lidge, perhaps thinking that a one out save might boost his confidence. Lidge did record the save on three pitches, but after a horrible season so far, most still have their doubts about Lidge. It would seem to be time for the Phillies to find a back-up plan, but Manuel still insists Brad is his man. However, the Phillies cannot expect to thrive in the post-season while carrying the worst closer in all of major league baseball; his 8 blown saves and 7.21 ERA are officially the bottom of the barrel for all closers.
Today the Phillies will have a much needed day of rest and I will need to find something else besides baseball to occupy my evening. Suggestions are welcome :O)
And then Tuesday night, Philadelphia will get their first look up close and in person with Pedro Martinez. After a road win against the Cubs last week, the home crowd is anxious to see his progress. Game time is 7:05pm against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Go Phillies!
Howard photo by Jenn
Since Friday night’s game did not go well, I decided that it was time for J-Roll Smurf to intervene and add a little Phillies Smurf magic to the equation. So, before the game on Saturday against the Cardinals, J-Roll Smurf enjoyed visiting personally with many of the Phillies players. The real J-Roll was excited to see his old buddy again and Ryan Howard laughed out loud as he thinks J-Roll Smurf is too awesome for words. Also rubbing the luck from J-Roll Smurf yesterday was Brad Lidge, JA Happ, Chad Durbin, Pedro Feliz, Scott Eyre, Clay Condrey, John Mayberry, Kyle Kendrick and Tyler Walker. And although a few Phillies, like Chan Ho Park and Jamie Moyer, seemed confused by the little blue mascot, J-Roll Smurf rubbed his luck upon them anyway :O) You’ve gotta LOVE Photo Day:
And the Smurfy magic paid off with wins both Saturday and today for a series win over the Cards! In fact, the original J-Roll Smurf, Jimmy Rollins, nailed a GRAND SLAM on Saturday and then a 2-run homer today! There is no stopping him now!
All these wins and entertainment too! On Saturday, some crazy guy tried to interrupt the game with a laser pointer to distract the Cards hitters and a very drunk guy named, “Sully” distracted the entire outfield crowd later on:
Here is the Photo Album from the entire 3-game series!
So the Phillies will hit the road for 3 games against the D-Backs and then 4 with the San Francisco Giants. I will be in San Francisco for all 4 – hope to see you there!
Photos by Jenn