It was apparent today that Cliff Lee was determined to win a game at home, something he has not done all year long. And for most of the 1st 5 innings, it was all Lee, all the time. He pitched, he hit and he played defense.
The first score of the game came off the bat of Lee who doubled in a run in the 5th inning. The rest of the team got on board fast, with a 2-run homer from Jimmy Rollins. Laynce Nix added a solo homer in the 6th and Lee held the Nats to 1 run in 7 innings for the 4-1 win and a 3-game sweep!
The day before, Roy Halladay continued his journey to being Roy Halladay once again. He went 7 innings allowing only 2 runs on 7 hits and a walk.
Halladay got our old buddy Jayson Werth to strike out twice and coaxed 2 grounds out from rookie star Bryce Harper. Both were all smiles before the game, but not after.
The big bopper of the night was John Mayberry Jr. who had two hits, including a line-drive homer to left, and picked up 3 RBI in the game. Chase Utley drove the other run in and Rollins set the table with 2 walks off another old Phillie, Gio Gonzalez. Kevin Fransden also had a hit and did a lot of cheering for his teammates.
Then in the 8th, the old Antonio Bastardo came back for a visit. Where has this guy been all year? He struck out the side, handing a fairly easy save to Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th.
Some other awesome sights at the ballpark on Saturday were creatures from the Philly Zoo and a grinning Domonic Brown, despite having a sore knee:
Despite the sweep, the Phillies are still 9.5 games back in the Wild Card race, so don’t get your hopes up too much. It is not impossible, however, they’d pretty much have to win every game from here to the end. But the news is good for next year as the bullpen is improving and starters are getting healthier.
And of course, they just swept the dreaded Nationals. I cannot think of a better reason to be happy right now. Here is the full Photo Album from Saturday’s game.
The Phillies have a day off on Monday and the Mets come to town on Tuesday. Game time is 7:05pm.
“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
On Wednesday, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted that MLB has decided to go ahead with the new 10-team playoff format starting with the 2012 season. The official announcement has not yet been made.
The new format means that each league will have two Wild-Card winners instead of one, those with the best records after the division winners. Those 2 Wild-Card teams will then play a one-game playoff to determine who moves on. Please excuse me while I throw-up…
Bud Selig seems determined to be the most hated guy in the baseball universe once again. Congrats, Bud. You win 1st prize in my book.
Basically, a team who previously had no business being in the playoffs now gets to be in the playoffs. In my opinion, this demeans the hard work of all the division winners. One Wild-Card per division was already slightly annoying but two worse.
What is the point of winning your division when you now may have to play a mediocre team who may, simply by a stroke of luck, knock you out before you get a chance to play the best of the best? At least if you get beat by a good team, you can live with that. But to get beat by a team that should not even have been there? That is truly depressing.
Because as baseball fans know, it is not always the best team that wins. Injuries, scheduling, weather and pure luck play a big part sometimes. This new format increases the odds tremendously that an average team will catch a break and push a more exciting team to an early exit.
And then think about the logistics of such a schedule. Baseball has already struggled in recent years with weather delay’s and postponements in October; this adds a new wrinkle to that conundrum. And how are they going to sell tickets for this one-game playoff? Because you probably will not know who the two Wild-Card teams are until very close to the last day of the season.
But more importantly, it is unfair. The new system caters to rich teams. As a Phillies fan, you cannot say I am biased on this issue…we have a huge payroll. This system gives big market teams a BIG advantage. For example, how would you like to see BOTH the Yankees and the Red Sox, who are consistently at the top of their division and of the AL, make the playoffs every year? You can now be pretty confident that at least one of those teams always gets in.
The Red Sox had a horrible September last year, winning only 7 games. But under these new rules, they would have been in the playoffs anyway. That is ridiculous.
I am sure there are plenty of people out there who think this is great. It offers more excitement with the one-game playoff and a chance for more teams to “profit,” in more ways than one. Because no matter what reasons MLB gives us for the change, the bottom line is always the bottom line. That is, more ticket sales, more TV ratings…more MONEY. It is always about the money.
I wish MLB would not insist that this is for the betterment of the game and the enjoyment of the fans. Do not insult our intelligence…it is and always has been about the profits.
Maybe no one is really complaining yet…but just wait until the Yanks and Sox both make the playoffs for fans of low-market teams to start crying foul. And as always, feel free to disagree with me :O)
Thoughts to Ponder…
In my previous post, I posted a few silly interview questions I came up with to ask major league ball players that would be highly entertaining, but have zero chance of ever being asked or ever receiving an honest answer on. So instead of asking the players, I asked the readers to give their opinion. Here are a few fun responses from Jersey Josh, a fellow MLBlogger:
– (Not that this will ever be a reality but…) Would you agree to a pay for performance structure throughout baseball instead of the current guaranteed contracts? Why or why not? JOSH: I think any ballplayer would pimp slap me into next week if asked that one. The union wouldn’t allow that one, they don’t have performance based vesting contracts, just “appearance” based ones (games started, plate appearances, etc).
– Which teammate, current or former, do/did you dislike the most and why? JOSH: Dykstra probably owes everyone money.
– In a fight between Bud Selig and Satan, who wins and why? JOSH: Selig would postpone the fight indefinitely on the grounds that Satan cannot pass a drug test. (#1 answer, in my opinion :O)
Thanks to Josh for playing along!
“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!
For only the 3rd time in franchise history, the Phillies have reached 100 wins for the season. They beat the Braves by a score of 4-2 on Monday night and Cliff Lee earned the win.
The Phillies strung together 10 hits against a Braves team desperate to make the playoffs. They are still one game ahead of the Cardinals in the Wild Card race. But the Phillies could spoil all the fun. While the Phils have already won the division, there is still the franchise record of 101 wins out there to tie or beat.
So the Phillies are not going to, nor should they, go easy on the Braves. Raul Ibanez stepped up last night with 2 big RBI’s and several regulars had multi-hit games. And four players out of the bullpen also stepped up and held onto the lead. Game 2 is Tuesday night at 7:10pm.
Before the game, the Phillies went about their annual rookie hazing, dressing the young guys up in ridiculous outfits:
The back row is Trainer Ichiro Kitano, Erik Kratz, Joe Savery, Vance Worley, Michael Schwimer and Domonic Brown. The front row is Justin DeFratus, Michael Martinez and Michael Stutes.
After losing eight straight games since clinching the NL East, the Phillies sent Roy “Doc” Halladay to the mound today to operate on the Mets. Thanks to six scoreless innings from Doc, the Phillies had a shot at a win.
But the ailing offense would also need to find a cure for their disease. Manager Charlie Manuel decided to shuffle the line-up around to see if that band-aid might stick. Chase Utley was moved to the 2-hole, Hunter Pence to the 3-hole and Shane Victorino 5th behind Ryan Howard.
Whether it was the new line-up or just the agony of losing 8 straight, something worked. The Phillies came out swinging and scored 3 runs in the 1st inning, 2 of which came off a Pence homer. By the end of 4 innings, the Phillies had piled on 9 runs.
Every starter in the line-up had at least one hit, including Halladay. Carlos Ruiz was absolutely on fire going 4-4 with 2 RBI and a walk. Pence made up for yesterday’s blunders by going just a double short of the cycle and driving in 3 runs. Jimmy Rollins also collected 3 hits.
The only negatives in the game came out of the bullpen. After claiming that lefty Antonio Bastardo had been tipping his pitches which was the cause of his recent struggles, Manuel put Bastardo into the 7th inning to test the theory. News flash – Tipping his pitches was not the issues.
Bastardo struggled with control and missed his spots. In just 1/3 of an inning, he gave up 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks. It was not good. As the only lefty in the bullpen, if Bastardo cannot find his control again, this will be a huge issues in the playoffs.
Vance Worley also ran into trouble in his return to the bullpen. He closed out the 7th for Bastardo just fine, but the 8th was not as easy for him. Worley gave up one run to bring the score to 9-4.
The win gives the Phillies 99 for the season with 3 games to go against the Braves. Beating the Braves could still give them the franchise record in wins, but it may also be a catch-22. If the Braves do not get the Wild Card, it will probably go to the Cardinals. The Phillies may then wind up facing the Cards in the NLDS. They won only 3 of 9 against the Cards in the regular season.
Game 1 against the Braves is Monday night at 7:05pm; Cliff Lee will pitch.
“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!
Halladay head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography
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
The Atlanta Braves must feel like they have been unknowingly cast in a bad horror flick. With their playoff hopes on the line, the Phillies have now beat them 2 days in a row with only one game left in the season. In the meantime, their Wild Card foe, the Padres, keep winning.
Yielding a large axe, rookie pitcher Vance Worley did his best impersonation of the Grim Reaper today against the Braves. They did not manage a single hit off Worley until the 4th inning. Worley went 5 innings, allowing only the one hit and looked like a seasoned veteran. The only reason he was pulled after 5 innings was because there was a runner on third and the Phils chose to pinch hit for him.
Actually, the Phillies offense had runners on 3rd with only 1 out twice and failed to score. That finally changed in the 7th inning when a walk by Jimmy Rollins kick started some scoring. A Braves fielding error followed by a bunch of Phillies singles ended in a 4-run inning. Chase Utley, Raul Ibanez and Shane Victorino all picked up RBI’s.
Placido Polanco returned to the field today after having a cortisone shot in his elbow earlier this week. Polly went 2 for 4 at the plate, which is a very good sign. He did have one error at third early in the game, but he is probably still shaking the rust off. It is good to see Polly feeling better though!
The Phillies bullpen pitchers were scary as well. Antonio Bastardo, Danys Baez, Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras continued to stab Braves hitters through the heart, sending them back to the dugout, one by one. The horror continued for the Braves as the Phillies tacked on more runs in the 8th and 9th for a 7-0 lead. And that was the final score.
With the Braves loss and a Padres win, the Wild Card race is a dead tie going into the final day of the regular season tomorrow. As a result, who the Phillies will play in the NLDS is still uncertain. What is certain is that, no matter the outcome tomorrow, the Phils will end the season with at least 97 wins and the best record in all of baseball!
The final game of the regular season tomorrow starts at 1:35pm. Cole Hamels will start the game.
By the way, I would like to send congratulations to Shane and Melissa Victorino on the birth of their baby boy, Kingston Shane Victorino, this past Thursday. The 7 lb. 8 oz. slugger is the second child for the couple; they have a daughter names Kali’a and Melissa has a teenage boy, Keenan, as well. Shane & Melissa are great people; I wish them much happiness!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography except baby photo by CSN
After sweeping the Braves in 3-games just over a week ago, the Phillies added insult to injury tonight by smacking the Braves around some more. The Braves and Padres are battling for the NL Wild Card spot and the Padres were trailing by 2 games before the game today. If the Phillies win one or both of the final 2 regular season games against the Braves, it will have major implications in the Wild Card race.
Just because they have won the NL East does not mean the Phils will let up on the Braves. Because several players are competing for either a spot on the postseason roster or possibly a spot with the team next year. Kyle Kendrick is one of those players. After a very inconsistent season, Kendrick needed to have a good outing tonight. He did a pretty good job, allowing 2 runs over 5 innings, although he walked 3 batters, including the opposing pitcher.
The Phillies scored 5 runs in the 6th with a Jimmy Rollins grand slam and Domonic Brown walked to force a run in. The big lead took Kendrick out of the game and gave a few more pitchers an opportunity to show off their skills…or lack thereof. Four pitchers, Antonio Bastardo, JC Romero, Chad Durbin and Jose Contreras, all pitched well.
Mike Zagurski, on the other hand, probably ended his career prospects tonight after giving up 3 runs in 2/3 of an inning in the 9th. The 11-2 lead he started with was cut down to 11-5. Zagurski pitched well in AAA but in his 7 appearances with the big club this year, he has allowed 8 runs in 6 2/3 innings for a 10.80 ERA. David Herndon had to come in to get the final out…after walking one batter, just so Zagurski did not feel too bad ;o)
Tomorrow will be no easier for the Braves. Rookie Vance Worley will get the start and he will be anxious to prove he can pitch in the big leagues. His future with the club can be given a huge boost with a solid performance tomorrow. Game time is 4:10pm.
By the way, the Phillies starting pitchers 70-50 record is the best for the team since 1980…the same year they won their first World Series Championship.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography