Weekend from Hell ….

– PhilliesOutside –

Well maybe not from hell, but a weekend to move on from, one to let settle in the back of your mind till
one day you may need the knowledge to use as some stupid inconsequential pieces
of data. It wasn’t so much that the Phillies had a losing weekend against the
BoSox, obviously a losing weekend is never good, but inter-league play has not
been a National League strong point since it started. Also don’t forget, in
my
post of May 19th
I had gone into details of why ‘it is that time of the
month’
and for those doubters, let it be known that between now and the end of
the month, the Phillies, will lose at least 4 more,
there is 7 games left in May all against division rivals, which means if they
prove me right could put the division lead back into tight contention, which
makes for some excitement as the season goes on.

News broke that the Phillies were scouting for pitchers, because they had
scouts at the ChiSox and Marlins
over the weekend. I am not sure the White Sox have much to look at, it is
possible they were looking at the Marlins, since
we will be meeting them this week. The Phillies
front office did acknowledge the fact that looking is part of the game, and as
any normal person would do the media asked what of Martinez, just because
the Phillies picked him up last year and it
worked out, doesn’t mean they’ll do it again and again. Amaro did
indicate that since Martinez, just casts them money and no talent then
they keep checking in with him, but they haven’t seen him throw or had any face
to face time with him.

Forewarned is forearmed, so Amaro, here is your warning, “You
got lucky last year with Martinez, regardless of how desperate you think you may
be this year, DON’T do it again”
. I know I was not a big fan of
Martinez last year and I stand by that, I believe we would have had the same or
similar results had they not spent the time and money on Martinez. I
believe he had no influence on how things turned out and was at times more of a
distraction than an benefit.

Let’s face it the only real addition we may need is a solid closer, because
no matter what anybody says, if it’s Lidge out there then everyone is going to
be holding their breathe
for every pitch, knowing that this could be the pitch that blows the save. It’s possible
that Contreras could be converted to a closing role, he’s only had 1 save
in his career thus far, but I have to admit I was more comfortable watching him
close than I have been watching Lidge close.

We still need Happ to return from the DL healthy and give us a solid last two
thirds of the season, and then if we could convince Seattle to let us get Lee
back before July 31st, then we would be in good shape. Lets face it, we don’t
have many prospects to trade, but I don’t think Lee will stay in Seattle
after this year and there is a chance the Phillies
could unload 2 or 3 players, like Kendrick, Dobbs, Bastardo, or mix them
up and throw in a couple of minor leaguers, who knows what Seattle
would do, and Lee would probably sign with a 3 year deal where both Lee
and the Phillies would be happy. A dream
maybe, but after the weekend that’s all I have today, a dream.

 

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Phillies take Game 1 of Series with Rockies…

No major entry here, it’s just the first game of the series and the predicted wind was supposed to produce a long ball extraviganzer… but the only player to tame the wind was Jimmy Rollins, who managed to capture 2 fly balls that went from the outfield and almost came back into the infield.


leeonbase.jpgCliff Lee
started a little shakey, but after the 2nd inning managed to send down 16 straight and hold the Rockies scoreless through 8 2/3 innings, finally gave up a run in the 9th with 2 outs, then went on to close the game for a complete game in his first post season game. Lee threw 113 pitches 79 for strikes. He also got a hit, sac bunt and stole a base.

Phillies won 5-1 with RBI’s from Ibanez (2), Ruiz, Howard and Werth.

Game time tomorrow is 2:37, Still not sure what genius came up with the game times, because they seem to be odd times for home field fans at every game.


September/October… the Final Countdown…

What’s in store for the Phillies
as we enter the final month of baseball, okay so the regular season runs
into October this year, but it’s only 4 days.

33 Games in 33 Days…

So the end of season
schedule is not being kind to a team trying to go back to back World
Series Champions, they have a full month and beyond. During September
they will play 30 games, in fact lets go from here to the regular season
end, 33 days to go, 33 games to play and somewhere they will get 2 days
off and play 2 double headers. Being 7 1/2 games up in the NL East is
certainly an advantage, but with this schedule it will definitely make
it a challenge to maintain. Finishing off the season is going to make
them tired even before post season play begins, at best you can hope for
a strong showing in the first half of September, so they can rest some
of the key players leading up to post season.

Offense and Defense…

 

The same guys that have
been producing the offense, (some days it may not have been much
offense
), are producing stellar defense. These guys are playing
every game like it is October baseball, they are making plays like it is
the last out, they are truly supporting every pitcher that takes the
mound.

The pitching staff seem to
be turning things around, yes your going to have the occasional game
where the opposition hit you around, those days make you more intense
the next time out. 

Starting Pitching…

 

 

Cliff Lee, took
his first loss in a Phillies uniform, which was okay, this way there are
no added strains on him to go perfect to season end. He can now pitch
his game and do what he does best.

Cole Hamels, last
2 games have been more like the Hamels we know from last year, hopefully
he has his game back and we can move forward. His confidence was such
that his game against the Giants this week saw him stealing a base, the
first of his career and he also went a solid 9 shut out innings giving
up just 2 hits in that game.

JA Happ, has
been the rookie with a veteran look, he has been excellent all year,
even when the chips are down, he stays focused and pitches his game. He
is without a doubt prime candidate for ‘Rookie of the Year‘ this
year.

Joe Blanton, the
Hulk‘, the ‘Work Horse‘, when you see him pitch it is
obvious he enjoys what he does and he stays in command and doesn’t get
phased by anything, he’s had good numbers this year and his second half
is as usual, very good.

Pedro Martinez,
the newest member of the starting rotation, who has not yet produced
what you would call a quality start. Facing 2 rain games that lasted 2
and 3 innings for him and 2 other games where he was seemed to be still
trying to find his way back in the majors. We will have to see how he
does this week against the Giants, a team the Phillies don’t produce
much offense against, will Martinez be able to keep it close, we will
see this week.

Jamie Moyer, Although
Moyer is now in the pen, I have included him here, simply because he has
taken the 2 rain delay games from Martinez and been outstanding, he has
also pitched reasonably well all year as a starter, still holding the
most wins as a Phillies starting pitcher this year. With the 2 double
headers the Phillies will be facing I think his role will be very
important, especially as one is against the Marlins, a team he has
dominated.

The Bull Pen seems
to have had some rest of late, although there are some deep issues still
to be resolved, I haven’t included a breakdown for them here, because I
think we need a little more time into September to see if the looming
post season is going to spur them on or if we will continue to see the erratic
side of the pen. I will mention thus far the only two I am comfortable
with are Eyre and Park, but we will continue to watch and see how Lidge
and Madson perform during the next week, along with some notables like
Durbin, Walker and Taschner, now he’s back up.

With the ability to load up
the team with new faces in September, the Phillies have chosen to be a
little more conservative, holding room for some of the DL players to
make an impact in the post season, assuming the Phillies maintain the
current state of play and make the post season of course.

More to come over the
weekend, with a look at bench players and the expected return of DL
players…

 


Just a Random Quickie…

Time for a quick blog, choosing the subject was a challenge, there have been a few recently. So it was a pick out of the hat between, John Smoltz and some sarcastic banter about the Cards recent addition, last nights performance by Cliff Lee, which is already covered plenty of times and opportunities will keep arising,  my verdict or lack of on Pedro Martinez, Brett Myers fight to get out of a car or Yankees/Boston and the Rays chance to take over Wild Card.

and the winner is…….

Pedro Martinez, my verdict….

What has Pedro done for us lately, well unfortunately his recent start against the D-Backs was shortened, so we were unable to see if he could go beyond 5 innings and if he would give up any more runs as he tires, so I guess the verdict is still out on that subject….

But still, since it was Pedro Martinez that was chosen lets review what he brings or could bring to the Phillies…

We all know he’s a 3 time Cy Young winner, but his last one was 9 years ago

so he’s a 7 time All Star, again last one was 4 years ago

how about a 5 time player of the week, yep, 7 years ago

he’s an innings eater, yeah okay, highest ranking was ’98 and ’04 when he was 6th in the AL

How about he was an All Star MVP, that’s true 10 years ago

Here’s one, he won  ‘MLB.COM ODDITY OF THE YEAR’, and that reflects on what exactly? – Oh I see he found it amusing that the sprinklers came on at Shea, while he was pitching for the Mets.

So he’s a comedian, a clown, someone fun to be around, well the Phillies have there fair share of those guys, I guess the question will be….

Is Pedro going to be the CLOWN…

or will he turn out to be just another side show…

Only time will tell…

…for me there hasn’t been enough time or action to determine. This weekend he is scheduled to start against the Mets at Citi Field, we’ll see if his old club comes out and destroys him or if he manages to destroy them. Based on the Mets current state of affairs I would have to say the advantage is Pedro’s going into the game, but we’ll see. Truth be known I would like to see him face the Marlins, but that probably isn’t going to happen. Till the next time when I hope there will be more action and evidence to show if Pedro’s involvement is worth the hype or not…

Tonight Blanton goes to the mound, and we’ll see if the Phillies offense can support him and clinch a sweep of the D-Backs.


Cliff Lee, Pitching and Hitting to Win #3…..(updated)

Cliff Lee takes his 3rd straight win as the Ace in the Phillies rotation and
lee1-vs-cubs.jpgdrives the Phillies to a sweep of the
Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. After suffering the embarrassment of being swept at home last weekend the Phillies issued there own 3 game sweep on the road.

Lee pitched outstanding for 8 innings, like me, most thought Madson would come on in relief at the start of the 8th inning, but he didn’t, Lee came out for the 8th and got through it like an Ace. Lee ended his day after throwing 122 pitches with over 67% of them for strikes, he gave up 1 run on 6 hits and walked 3 batters. It wasn’t till the 4th inning that the Phillies offense gave Lee the lead, he managed to get himself out of a couple of jams during the first 4 innings, it wasn’t till the 5th inning that the Cubs managed tlee2-vs-cubs.jpgo drive in a run and that was the only time a Cubs player would cross the plate. He held the Cubs to a 1 for 5 with runners in scoring position, obviously the Phillies defense played a role in this too. Lee seems to like this playing in the NL where he gets to show case his bat swinging abilities, he hit his 2nd double, but was eventually stranded on 3rd at the end of the inning. With the Phillies, Lee is now 3-0 with an ERA of 1.13 through 24 innings as a pitcher, as a hitter he is 3 for 9 (.333) with 2 doubles.

Ryan Madson came on in relief of Lee to start the 9th, he pitched a scoreless inning giving up just 1 walk with 2 strike outs.

The Phillies offense came off of 10 hits and 3 walks, the big offensivehoward-vs-cubs.jpg inning was the 4th, when Ryan Howard hit a 3 run home run to the opposite field, this was Ryan’s 1st home run in August, ironic really, I had said at the end of July, that it seems when 

Raul Ibanez goes deep then Ryan goes deep and visa versa, and in Wednesday’s game Raul went deep and so Thursday Ryan went deep. In the same inning Pedro Feliz took Dempster deep too, giving the Phillies a 4 run lead. Utley picked up an RBI in the 6th and Feliz picked up another in the 7th giving the Phillies a 6-1 lead that they never relinquished.

The Phillies headed to Atlanta last night to start a 3 game series against the Braves today, before heading home for the only day off between now and the end of August. Joe Blanton is scheduled to start tonight against the Braves, Saturday is an afternoon game and although it’s Hamels rotation spot, it is currently being listed as TBA, have they not announced it yet or are they holding back to the last minute because of a possible problem? I am sure we will find out soon.(update: Hamels is now listed as the starting pitcher for Saturday). It does though, seem to be freaky days of late in Philadelphia sports, everybody has heard by now that Vick signed a 2 year deal with the Eagles, what were they thinking? I am sure they will let us know soon enough.

Still with freaky things, the ‘Idiot Cubs Fan’ turned himself in to Chicago police yesterday, probably wants another 15 minutes of fame, or a beer commercial contract.


Cliff Lee’s, Debut in Philadelphia at CBP…

Cliff Lee made his debut in Philadelphia at CBP, the anticipation of the crowd was high, all things considered, the pressure on Lee must have been huge. After his shut out in San Francisco, would the fans be expecting to much and could Lee deliver another solid game in front of what is now his home crowd.

The first inning, he seemed to show a few nerves, but that was to be expected, what wasn’t expected was for J-Roll to miss-judge a ball and let it go into the outfield. This allowed a runner to be on 3rd with 1 out, setting up a fly ball RBI in the 1st for the Rockies. Yes it was a tough play for Jimmy, but he has made that play many times before, he sets his own standards and that wasn’t quite it.

It didn’t take Jimmy Rollins long to correct his earlier miss-judgment, he was hitting and running bases straight out of the gate. He didn’t need his red/orange shades to make himself look cool, he was doing that just by his actions.

His first 3 at bats he hit a single, double and triple, yes a cycle would have been nice, but for someone who less than 8 weeks ago was hitting right around the .200 mark and was struggling to even get to first base, was now producing multi hit games, stealing bases and scoring runs and that is the driving force leading the Phillies offense.

The Phillies scored in the bottom of the 1st Utley’s sac fly, driving Rollins in, then Bako hit a home run, his first of the year, in the 5th, followed by Victorino’s RBI hit to drive in Rollins again. Rollins finished 3 for 4 with 2 runs scored.

Lee may not have been the domination  machine he was in San Francisco, after all, we had that from Happ last night, but he did give the Phillies a solid 7 innings, with 112 pitches, giving up just 1 run on 6 hits and a walk while striking out 9, great job Cliff Lee and I am sure the fans in Philadelphia will soon make you a fan favorite, it seems almost everyone else on the team is anyway.

The bullpen did there thing… HOORAY!!!… Madson pitched a solid 8th inning giving up just 1 hit, Lidge came out in the 9th to close the game out and collect his 21st save of the year, and do so giving up just 1 hit.

Phillies win the series with the Rockies 2-1 and since the Marlins chose to give the Nats a 4 runs in the 8th inning and go on to lose the game in Washington, the Phillies go to a 7 game lead in the NL East, of which I might add is currently the largest divisional lead, over a 2nd place team, in the majors, that may change by nights end.

The Phillies welcome Florida to won for a weekend series, and tomorrow night the Phillies workhorse Joe Blanton takes the mound in a bid to keep the Phillies winning home stand moving onward and upward.

Around the majors, well not around, around, just in New York, this for me is an interesting month, the Yankees and the Red Sox duel it out 7 times this month, why is that so interesting for me, well I have suggested, or maybe even predicted, a repeated October World Series match up between the Phillies and the Rays, therefore the need for the Yankees and Red Sox to beat each other up and give the Rays a chance to make up ground is crucial to my prediction becoming a reality…


the J.A. Happ show…

Well I had all intentions of giving a run down on Tuesday nights game against the Rockies and Wednesday nights game against the Rockies, but on Tuesday Jamie Moyer and the bullpen gave up 8 runs, while the Phillies offense could only muster 3 runs as a response, it meant the Phillies lost the first of a 3 game series, in a somewhat pain full experience for the fans at CBP. So a re-cap of Tuesday went something like this…

Moyer seemed concerned…

Rollins safe, Umps had trouble seeing…

Ruiz got an eye full, Umps still couldn’t see…

That about sums up the Tuesday night loss to the Rockies, from a certain point of view…

Wednesday night was a little different, and so began the J.A. Happ Show!!

So I don’t get to far a head of myself J-Roll, Werth, Feliz each hit home runs, on a different night that would have been the story, but the way Happ played the game tonight just one of those homers would have been enough…

Happ pitched all 9 innings without an expression change…

Even when he was swinging the bat…

Until…

bottom 8th, over 100 pitches thrown, he knows he has one more inning to pitch to get his 2nd career shut out, his first at CBP, in front of the home crowd, he comes to the plate for his final at bat, the crowd goes wild, the pitch…the swing…the balls fly’s deep to centerfield…Happ starts running…ball goes over centerfielders head and drops at the base of the centerfield fence…crowd is going crazy…Happ pulls up at 2nd base for a stand-up double…and suddenly his expression changes…was he in pain…did he pull something running the bases…

Noooooo…he was just Happ-y…

J.A. Happ went into the top of the 9th and pitched the final inning of the game, he finished the game having thrown 127 pitches, gave up 4 hits and 2 walks, but he picked up a career high 10 strike outs. Well done Happ!! you just earned your right to remain in the starting rotation.

Thursday sees Cliff Lee’s first appearance at CBP, this will be different for him I am sure, he’ll be wearing the Phillies modern throw back uniform, as the Phillies always do on a day game at home, this should be an interesting match-up, for those that think Lee will cruise to another win, be careful, he’s going up against Rockies ace Aaron Cook, RHP with a 10-3 record on the season and showing a 3.88 ERA on the season, however if there is a glimmer of hope during July he posted a 4.17 ERA with only 2 wins, the rest were no decisions.

Good Luck Lee we hope your first Phillies home game is a good one and a winning one!!