In the first of a 3-game series with the Braves tonight, the Phillies were out to send a message to their division rival. With a brutal 9-0 beating, the Braves definitely received the message.
Leading the assault was pitcher, Cliff Lee, who has now not allowed a run in 29.2 consecutive innings. Tonight, he dominated the Braves in his 6th complete game shut-out of the year. He basically took Atlanta’s signature hatchet and turned it around against them.
After a lack of offense in Sunday’s game against the Marlins, the Phillies finally found their bats again and seriously punished pitcher Derek Lowe. Four starters had a multiple-hit game, including Ryan Howard with a homer and Chase Utley with a triple. Hunter Pence led the team with three RBI; his one-out RBI-single in the first inning set the tone for the game.
The defense played well behind Lee as well. Howard ran down a foul ball pop-up near the fence along the 1st base line. In a sliding grab, the ball slid out of his glove and Howard caught it with his bare hand. That was the sort of effort that was seen all night long by the Phillies.
But before the Phillies can officially send the Braves crying home to their mommies, there are still two games to go. Vance Worley will face Tim Hudson on Tuesday night at 7:05pm.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Here is something that should never, ever happen. Roy Halladay pitched a three-run, complete game against the Braves today and took a loss. With the rate at which Halladay and other Phillies pitchers, like Cliff Lee, are being hung out to dry by this offense, it may be time to take more drastic measures.
The Phillies were the only team in the majors to not have a starting pitcher lose two games in a row. That streak ended today as Halladay got his second consecutive taste of how bad this Phillies offense sucks right now.
Just because it is Superman himself, Roy Halladay, on the mound, does not mean that he will toss a shut-out every time out. The movie Superman managed to turn back time by rotating the earth backwards on its axis, but do not think he will accomplish this feat whenever he feels like it, even in the movies. There needs to be some basis in reality to keep our attention.
The Phillies batters, however, seem to be hanging around, just waiting for another Halladay or Lee miracle. Tim Hudson pitched for the Braves today and was almost pulled from the game in the fourth inning with a sore hip, but he managed to go seven innings anyway. This means that the Phillies managed only four hits off a Grandpa (in baseball years) with a bad hip!
The only reason that Grandpa lasted seven innings was because the Phillies got themselves out. They swung at bad pitches and were not patient when Hudson began flinging balls all over the place, two feet over their heads or straight into the dirt.
Three of the four hits in the game were from the bench players, Pete Orr, Michael Martinez and John Mayberry Jr. who accounted for the only score with a two-run homer. Mayberry played center in place of the ailing Shane Victorino. Both he and Orr each stole a base as well.
So while the bench guys keep trying to resuscitate this team, where are the starters? Where are the bats of Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez? Come out, come out, wherever you are! This game of hide and seek is getting old.
The 3-2 loss gave the Braves the series win, 2-1. The Braves are now only 3.5 games behind the Phillies in the NL East and the Marlins are two games back.
The Phillies will travel to St. Louis for a short, two-games series next. Cliff Lee pitches tomorrow, unless he decides to go on strike. Game time is 7:05pm.
The Phillies ended the 2010 regular season today with the best record in baseball for the first time in franchise history. Their 97-65 record is even more impressive when all of the injuries they suffered this year are added to the equation. Unfortunately, the injuries do not appear to be behind them yet.
In the 8-7 loss to the Braves today, catcher Carlos Ruiz was plunked on the elbow by a Tim Hudson pitch. He appeared to be in a great deal of pain and eventually, he left the game. There has been no word yet about how serious it may be.
Another potential huge loss heading into the playoffs may be JC Romero. After throwing a pitch in the 6th inning, Romero signed to the coaches that he was hurt. Reports are that he is suffering from left lower back soreness. If he cannot play, it looks like lefty Antonio Bastardo will be a lock for the postseason roster. Having only one lefty in the pen may not be a great idea, but the Phils may have no choice.
The only real highlights early in today’s game were 2-run homers by both John Mayberry Jr. and Jayson Werth. Also, Cole Hamels pitched very well for 2 innings in his postseason warm-up. Everyone else had issues getting desperate Braves hitters out. Even Roy Oswalt gave up a run in one inning of work. Joe Blanton allowed 2 runs and the big damage was done by Danys Baez. Baez allowed 4 runs in only 2/3 of an inning, likely cementing his new roll as a cheerleader instead of a spot on the postseason roster.
But as the Phillies are known to do late in games, the offense started cooking again in the 8th inning. With 2 outs, Jimmy Rollins singled and Mike Sweeney reached base on a Braves error. Wilson Valdez hit an RBI single and Ben Francisco doubled in 2 more runs. The game got a lot closer, with the Phillies trailing by a score of 8-7. But in the 9th, they were unable to score and the Braves went on to win.
While the Braves won, their playoff hopes are still in the hands of the Padres, who are playing the Giants right now. They will know more in a few hours.
In the meantime, congratulations to the Phillies, officially the BEST team in baseball right now!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
September baseball can be really entertaining, but it can also drive a fan to drink. Nerves fray as teams battle for a playoff spot; add a few key injuries to the tension and you may find yourself having to meditate or do some yoga in order to remain calm. The Phillies seem fairly calm after a 9-4 win in Atlanta last night, despite injuries to pitcher JA Happ, catcher Carlos Ruiz and slugger Ryan Howard. Although, none of the injuries seem serious, so take a deep breath and exhale…
JA Happ appeared to grimace as he stepped towards first base in the 3 inning but insisted he felt fine. Happ gave up a solo home run to the next batter and was then lifted from the game at the end of the inning for “precautionary reasons.” Happ had missed the two previous starts with an oblique strain so the Phillies are not taking any chances that he may aggravate the injury.
Carlos Ruiz sprained his right wrist after blocking home plate as the Braves’ Matt Diaz tried to score in the 2nd inning. The throw by Raul Ibanez was right on target and Ruiz tagged Diaz out at home. But in the process, he hurt his wrist and eventually left the game with Paul Bako taking his place. The injury appears to be mild and the Phillies are hopeful that he will only miss a game or two.
Next victim: Ryan Howard. Howard destroyed pitched Tim Hudson with 2 home runs for 3 RBI in the game. But later, relief pitcher Boone Logan nailed Howard in the forearm with a fastball. Howard continued on to first base, yelping in pain on his way up the baseline. He appears to be alright and hopefully, will not miss any time.
Shane Victorino also missed the game yesterday with a gastrointestinal illness. Translation?
He has the poops. Poor Shane! It is expected that he will play tonight. But last night, Ben Francisco took his spot in center. The Ben Francisco-treat went 3 for 5 at the plate with 1 RBI and 2 runs scored, including a solo homer. He also got caught stealing 3rd base for the first out of the 6th inning, but he made up for it with hitting, so all is forgiven :O)
Jimmy Rollins had 3 RBI in the game and Jayson Werth continues his hot streak with some clutch hitting; Werth went 3 for 4 with 2 RBI on a bases loaded, 2 out single in the 8th. Also clutch in the game was Kyle Kendrick who took over for the injured Happ and pitched 4 scoreless innings.
So game 1 of this HUGE series is in the books! If the Phillies can win at least 2 of 3 in this series, they will likely kill any hope the Braves may have had at a playoff run. The still undefeated Pedro Martinez will take the mound tonight at 7:00pm.
PS: The Magic Number is now 8!
Francisco / San Fran photos by Jenn
Meditation photo: hubpages.com
The Phillies completed a 3-game sweep of the Nationals tonight behind the pitching of Cole Hamels. Hamels had great control tonight and had only 1 inning out of 8 pitched where he appeared to struggle. He had a no-hitter through 5 innings but ultimately gave up 1 run on 5 hits. That 1 run ended the 29 1/3 scoreless innings streak for the Phillies starters.
While his pitches seem to be under control, Hamels still needs to work on controlling his emotions. After a couple of cheap hits by the Nats in the 7th, Hamels appeared to get rattled and walked the next batter on 4 straight pitches. The lack of mental control sent his fastball control right out the window. But if Hamels can learn to stay calm, we may soon see the 2008 World Series MVP back in top form.
While Hamels stifled the Nats, the Nats stifled the Phillies batters for most of the game as well. Jimmy Rollins had 2 hits in the game and an RBI; Chase Utley was able to score on a wild pitch; and Cole Hamels hit an RBI single, sending the home crowd into a frenzy. The 4 runs they squeaked out were enough for the win as Hamels pitched a great game.
Brad Lidge was put in for the save with a 4-1 lead; he gave up a run, but eventually got the save with a final score of 4-2. Lidge, despite 10 blown saves this year, has now reached at least 30 saves for the 4th time in his career. And the Phillies as a team reached a milestone of 25 games over the .500 mark for the first time since 10/3/93 today.
The Phillies will travel to Atlanta in what will be a huge series as they attempt to put any hope of a post-season out of reach for the Braves. JA Happ will return from some time off after an oblique injury and face Tim Hudson of the Braves at 7:30pm tomorrow night.
The Magic Number is now 10 as the Marlins lost tonight and the Braves won.
Photo by Jenn
You know when the Phillies make the #1 spot on the Top Ten Plays of The Day on SportsCenter, it had to be a hell of a game! Generally, we are a team ignored by such a market. Jamie Moyer kept the game close through five innings, giving up only 2 earned runs and Chad Durbin did his usual part in getting him out of a jam. Our offense struggled yet again, but Tim Hudson looked very good through 7.2 and did not budge, although the strike zone all night, as called by Alfonso Marquez, was all over the place.
Right at the top of the ninth inning, it looked like the game was over when Chris Coste, with men on 1st and 2nd and 2 outs, popped up to second baseman, Kelly Johnson. But no, Johnson, in a lapse of concentration, drops the ball! Panic ensues, the crowd erupts, Feliz is tagged out at the plate and fans are screaming at the umpires wondering why the game is not over. What many had not realized is that Eric Bruntlett had been running so fast from 2nd base, he had already scored to tie the game before Feliz was tagged out and was even already in the dugout before anyone had noticed…that is how fast he was going! The thing I found most entertaining about that entire sequence was that it directly followed the incidence with Jimmy Rollins getting pulled from a game the day before for not hustling and not running out a pop fly, like he should have. In that same instance on Thursday, the defender dropped the ball as well and it cost Jimmy an extra base. So, Charlie Manuel made an example of him and benched him. The timing and the extra reminder by their manager could not have been better, because had all three guys involved in this pop fly by Coste last night not hustled, this game was over and the Phillies walk away with a loss instead of a win.
And to seal the victory, we were treated to an amazing throw and put out by Shane Victorino to nail Gregor Blanco at the plate for the final out of the game, which also prevented the tying run from scoring. And what a tag by Chris Coste, as if to atone for his pop-up that almost ended the game earlier in the 9th. The entire play was perfect. Kudos to Shane and Chris for getting it done and giving this team a HUGE lift on the road!
The Phillies are going to need a BIG effort tonight out of Kyle Kendrick as our bullpen is starting to show some wear, especially Brad Lidge. He NEEDS a break for sure. His last two appearances have been shaky and it is now only a matter of time before the defense is unable to bail him out if he is pushed beyond what we should expect of him. He should have a night off. Our offense waking back up would certainly be a huge help! Let’s get a giant lead and then let Condrey finish off a game…he could use some work! I like my plan J Go Phillies!