Brad Lidge…’it’s all about you’

When a team has got a lead going into the final inning of a baseball game it’s the closers job to come in and shut down the opposition so that your team gets the win. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the 9th, 10th or even more, and it doesn’t matter if your at home or on the road, it is without a doubt the primary responsibility of the closer to secure that win.

Yesterday in Atlanta the Phillies did exactly that, Cole Hamels pitched good, for him this season, through 6 innings, giving up just 2 runs on 3 hits, okay he walked 4, but still considering how he has performed this year, when it came to crunch time and the Phillies needed a good outing he gave us one.

The bullpen came in to relieve Hamels in the 7th inning and gave another good performance, shutting the Braves down in the 7th and 8th innings. So now its up to the closer, Brad Lidge, to enter the game and not give anything away. We have all seen him this year, but Charlie Manuel and his coaches still have confidence in Lidge to come out and do his job. Maybe its time to re-think Charlie, Lidge is not cutting it at the moment. Yes the error by Utley didn’t help, but then loading the bases, because your afraid of the strike zone doesn’t help either.

Trying to blow magic on your hand, like a magician, isn’t going to work Lidge, you shouldn’t have loaded the bases in the first place.

If this wasn’t a message to Charlie Manuel then I don’t know what would be, and if Lidge can’t do it, if he has some inner- self that’s giving him a hang-up, then he should be a man and tell Charlie, and save us all the continued embarrassment of sending a closer out there that nobody is afraid to face.

I could offer up some suggestions, I am sure many a blogger will, I am also sure many fans that don’t  blog here will be commenting at the ZoZone about what should be done and how to do it, but the bottom line is you get paid to make those decisions Charlie and it’s time you made one regarding Lidge. You had no trouble telling us “it’s for the best interest of the team”, when you sent Moyer to the pen, so how about that same attitude regarding the closers spot.

Today JA Happ goes to the mound, I just hope if this is a tight game and the Phillies have the lead at the end, we use an alternative to Lidge…


Phillies Go Deep In Atlanta….

Joe Blanton was
again showing how dominant he can be in the second half of a season.
Last night in the first of 3 against Atlanta he went a solid 7
innings giving up just 2 runs on 7 hits and 1 walk, it was a pitchers
duel that was deadlocked through 8 innings. Jurrjens, pitching
for Atlanta also went 7 innings and gave up 2 runs on 5 hits and
1 walk. Both bull pens held it scoreless in the 8th inning, Atlanta decided
to go with Soriano in the 9th who gave up a homer to Howard which
broke the deadlock and that’s how it would stay with the Phillies
holding off a bottom of the 9th challenge from the Braves. That’s
the short version…

Blanton
may have a 3.88 ERA on the year, but since July 1st it’s just a 1.79
ERA…

…he’s been described as a ‘hulk’….he’s
definitely a workhorse for the Phillies, having pitched 139
innings already this year, his win/loss record this year does not
do him justice.

The Braves had a 1-0 lead going
into the start of the 4th inning, with Victorino leading off, Ryan
Howard
was in the dug out, doing what I can only describe as an
impression of the character ‘Pedro Cerrano’…

…from the movie ‘Major
League’

…I am not sure if he was
praying, or even what or who he was praying too, but something happened,
Victorino got a hit to lead of the inning, then as Chase Utley
stepped up to the plate, Ryan Howard emerged from the dug out to the
on deck circle and….

 ….BOOM!!…Utley’s
quick short stroke took Jurrjens deep to put the Phillies on top
by a score of 2-1.

It wasn’t for long though,
the Braves battled back in the bottom of the inning to tie the
game at 2-2.

The 5th and 6th innings the
Braves did everything they could to get ahead of the Phillies,
but Victorino was there to save the day…

….it would stay at a 2-2
tie through 8 innings, both teams went to the bullpen to start the 8th,
both bullpens kept it a tie, it was the top of the 9th the Braves, had
Soriano on the mound the Phillies had Howard at the
plate….

….BOOM!!…. Howard
goes deep for the 28th time this year, but more importantly for Howard,
he went deep in consecutive days.

So the Phillies were
on top again bottom of the 9th, just 3 outs away from the win…last
year this was money in the bank, as they say, but this year, it’s a coin
toss, Lidge came on to close it out for the Phillies, the
tension mounted among the fans, commentators, and the Phillies
bench, somehow it wasn’t enough for Lidge to just get a simple
save, he had to make everyone even more nervous, by allowing a base
runner, then Ruiz saw something in Lidge’s face it
must have been that look of "I gonna blow this again" ,
Ruiz shot out to the mound and gave Lidge the "it’s
okay you can do this hug"…..

 ….eventually he
did, Lidge got the save and all was well again in the world of Lidge,
he even had a little swagger in his walk, a "I can do this"
type attitude…

Well the Phillies
win the first of the series in Atlanta, today it’s national on
Fox, except when I say national I mean everywhere except Ohio, so I have
to wait for the blackout expiration and watch it then, hoping I don’t
see the score in the meantime. Today we are hoping the real Cole
Hamels
comes out to play and not the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ version,
only time will tell….


Charity Begins at Home…

Over the weekend the Phillies at home were very charitable to the Florida Marlins, the Phillies, we hope, have moved on from that, now someone else should take a turn to be charitable at home.

On the road this week, with the road trip opener at Wrigley Field it was hopeful that the Cubs would be the one’s to be charitable at home, as luck would have it they obliged, at first it didn’t look as if they wanted to be nice and play the charity game, the Phillies had to show then the way to encourage them.

J.A. Happ started the ball rolling by giving the Cubs a taste of the charity bug…

happ.jpg

through 6 innings he gave the Cubs, 11 base runners and 2 runs…

During those 6 innings where Happ was trying to encourage the Cubs with his charity work, you would have thought that…

Harden was more interested in pitching a perfect game…


cubsharden.jpg
I think he must have started to feel guilty about all the fine charity work Happ had been doing for the Cubs, and realised that charity begins at home, 1 out in the 6th inning he very charitably gave us, (the Phillies), our first base runner. Yes, I have to admit it came out of the blue and was not expected, hoped for, but not expected, I am sure he felt bad that our guys couldn’t hit his pitches.

Mr Harden very kindly gave up a walk to our very own 8th hole hitter and #1 catcher…

Carlos Ruiz…


ruiz.jpg
and of course he graciously accepted the free pass to 1st base


with Ruiz on first and 1 out, Happ who having seen the charitable donation by Harden bunted the ball into the air, high enough to allow 1st baseman, Lee, to make a spectacular diving catch to give them 2 outs, 1 on in the 6th. Now is when you would find out if Harden was truely playing the charity begins at home game. With Rollins at the plate, having swung at the very first pitch of the game making a lame infield out, on one pitch, was now looking to Harden to be charitable, so as not to make himself (J-Roll) look so foolish again.

Rollins being a recovered struggling lead-off man had become greedy…


rollins.jpg
he wasn’t content with a line drive hit, he had to go the whole 9 yards, or in this case 350+ feet into the bleechers for a home run.


Now with the game tied at 2 each we were in the 7th and Harden had gotten the charity bug really bad, with a hit and a walk and a fly ball he managed to have a couple on 2nd and 3rd base, Piniella, wanted to do his part, but wasn’t sure what that was,


so he wandered out to the mound to ask his players


cubsmound.jpg


they weren’t exactly sure what his charitable role should be,


so he asked the homeplate umpire, who I am guessing told him staying in his dug out was more than anyone could hope for, so with his, out of this world, I’m on something look about him, he aimlessly wandered back to the dugout as if he forgot why he went out to the mound in the first place. so the Phillies, feeling sorry for Piniella did the charitable thing and got themselves out of the inning.


The 8th inning came around and the Cubs felt Harden had done enough giving, so they sent Marmol to the mound to keep up the charity work, Marmol turned out to be in a very giving mood,


his charitable donations started with a walk to Ruiz


cubsmarmol.jpg


Dobbs came in as a pinch hitter and gave himself up with a lazy fly ball, Rollins tried to take advantage of Marmol’s kindness, but the inbound wind prevented another charitable donation of a ball into the bleechers. Marmol wasn’t very happy with his donations so far, he decided to give some more, so he hit Victorino with a pitch, who by the way was on his best behaviour, he didn’t charge at anyone today, then Marmol walked Utley to load the bases, then his generosity got the better of him, he walked Howard to push Ruiz across the plate for the go ahead run.


What could be more exciting than this, 1 run lead bottom of the 9th, time for the Phillies closer, who last year was putting the fear of god into every hitter he faced, this year however he’s putting the fear of god into the fans for every hitter he faces.


Don’t worry though this was a giving game so the Cubs would give themselves up for Lidge…


lidge.jpg


Someone should have explained the rules of charity begins at home to Lidge.


He thought he was the one supposed to be doing the giving, cause he gave them a walk , a hit and a run to even the score 3-3.


Each side played the charity thing as best they could into the 12th inning, then the Cubs didn’t realise that Francisco is new to the National League and doesn’t fully understand,


with Francisco at the plate…


francisco.jpg


Gregg tossed a donation to him…


Francisco, not really understanding everything in the NL, sent the ball on a line drive to left field and instead of it hitting the wall it dropped nicely into the basket on top of the left field wall. Once again the Phillies get the go ahead run. This time the make sure everyone is aware that it’s the home team giving the charitable donations,


fresh off the DL, Chad Durbin comes into to halt the donations…


durbin.jpg


and halt them he did, Durbin picked up his 2nd save on the season,


giving up a charitable walk, and a strike out he gave the Phillies the win in the opener of a 3 game set in Chicago.


With this game in the bag, I thought I would just flip over and see if the Rays could do the same to the Angels,


I was just in time to see…


RAYScrawford.jpg


Crawford let a ball go to the fence and give the Halo’s 3 more runs…


this was not what I hoped for, the Angels bea the Rays 6-0, but it was somewhat ironic in a way since these 2 games had something in common, just different outcomes.


The Cubs and Angels each had 10 hits, the Rays and Phillies each had 3 hits, but the outcome was the Angels had 6 runs and the Rays 0, while the Phillies ended with 4 runs and the Cubs 3 runs.


Tomorrows game at Wrigley sees the return of Martinez, in a Phillies uniform for the first time, ironic that his last game in the majors was against the Cubs. All Philly fans are looking for the win, and all are very curious as to how Martinez will fair in his first start after fan favorite Moyer was bumped from the rotation to make room for him.


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…


Hamels ‘A’ce Game Returns…

With the trade deadline approaching, and more people are asking is Hamels the Ace we all wanted or was he a flash in the pan. Last night he showed everyone why he has been the Ace of the Phillies pitching staff. On a night more than any other this year he needed his ‘A’ game and he delivered.

The Haren vs Hamels game had been headlined as a make or harenhit.jpgbreak for Cole, days before, the Philly fans are looking to see if management delivers another Ace to the starting rotation, the fans were also looking to see if Cole could deliver them a sign that he is the Ace.

The first inning Hamels gave up, what became a complimentary homerun to Roberts, from then on he pounded the strike zone through 8 innings, he threw a total of 112 pitches, 79 of them for strikes. He gave up a hit to his counterpart, Haren, who singled in the 3rd inning. Since Cole out pitched Haren he certainly didn’t want to be out done by him at the plate, so in the 5th inning Hamels returned the favor, only instead of a single Hamels
hamelshit.jpgcrushed a double to left center, splitting the gap in the outfield, Hamels cruised into 2nd standing,eventually Hamels crossed the plate to break the tie and put the Phillies in front, and from there they never looked back.

Victorino, had tied the ball game with a solo homerun in the 3rd inning keeping his hot streak alive and well.

The D-Back errors didn’t start until the 5th inning last night, it was like boredom set in so the players just lost concentration. Rollins hit a ball hard, causing a miss play by the D-Backs, Utley’s smart base running to 1st base caused an error on a throw to home plate, mix in some other miss plays and the D-Backs had another game of errors turns into opposition runs.

You had to feel bad for Haren, he pitched very well, with almost any other defense behind him he would have probably won that game, there was more than once you could tell from the look on his face, he wished he were somewhere else. The Phillies offense really did well last night working the count and getting Haren to throw as many pitches as they could, he ended up throwing 117 pitches in 5 innings of work.

The only real shadow of doubt for the Phillies last night was the 9th inning, Lidge with a save opportunity came in to close out the game and ended up giving up 2 runs, before finally finishing off the D-Backs, I for one am glad it was NOT a 1 run game.

It all happens again tonight with Happ going against Petit, if he hasn’t been traded by then of course, if Happ is on the mound, here’s hoping Happ has recovered from his first loss and puts on another dynamic display of pitching.


Phillies Take D-Backs to School….

Philadelphia, Phillies showed the D-Backs how to play professional baseball last night in Arizona.

Yes, this may seem harsh, but the Phillies took a clear advantage of the D-Backs errors, errors which would have been hard to find in a triple ‘A’ game, and there was Jamie Moyer, who pitched himself into trouble twice in the first 3 innings,
moyer.jpgloading the bases at one point, with nobody out, his experience, his self control and excellent defence, from his infield that knows no limits and definately knows how to support their team mate in times of trouble got him through the struggles.

Moyer, moved on from his struggles and pitched with control and poise through another 3 2/3 innings, shutting the door on the D-Backs. In total Moyer pitched 6 2/3 innings, giving up 6 hits, 4 walks and striking out 5, giving him his 256th career win and closing out July with a 3.30 ERA his best month this year.

Side Bar: During this ‘will he, won’t he’ couple of weeks on Halladay, it has been noted that a number of people have been commenting on blogs, calling for Moyer to retire, last night was just another reason why he shouldn’t, right now he’s pitching very well, and he’s got 10 wins on the year, giving him 13 seasons with double digit wins, I know wins dont mean anything in a pitchers stats, but as I’ve said before, it’s wins that get you to the post season. (end side bar).

D-Backs defense for 8 innings looked like a group of guys on a Sunday morning throwing a ball around not really caring where it went, or if someone could catch what was thrown at them. With Feliz on 1st, (now you have to understand Feliz has 0 (zero) stollen bases this year), the pitcher, Garland, is acting like it’s J-Roll or Victorino over there, so he ends up throwing the ball past the 1st baseman which ultimately puts it up the right field line, Feliz, who seemed like a diferent person on the bases last night, ended up going from 1st to 3rd. Another one was, Utley on 1st a base hit fumbled in the shift off of Howards bat, allowed Utley to get to 3rd, after beating the 3rd baseman in a foot race to 3rd base, that should have been a double play or at least got Howard at 1st. There were other simple plays in the infield that should have resulted in outs that didn’t and although the Phillies played hard last night, those infield mistakes are the main reason for 4 extra runs the Phillies scored. Of course the ‘Howard Homer’, a 2 run shot in the 4th was all Howard.

So having seen all that go on imagine the surprise when in the top of the 9th a bloop hit, which had it been earlier in the game would have scored 2 runs, is caught by Roberts with a spectacular dive to end the inning.

The Phils bull pen went to work in the 7th inning Park came into the game in releif of Moyer and got the 1 guy he faced, 8th inning Madson came in, experienced some struggles, gave up a couple of runs on 3 hits, and struck out 2. Lidge was set to come in for the 9th, a non-save situation, so there was obviously a few nerves, but Madson had struggled so maybe Lidge would be okay, well he was, 3 up, 3 down, with a strike out thrown in there. Phillies end up taking the first of three from a struggling Arizona, 6-2.

Room for thought:  Why did Charlie use Bruntlett in the 9th and not Dobbs, that confused me, tonight we do it all again Hamels vs Haren, now I know Haren has a pretty good contract with the D-Backs, but could it be possible when the Phillies go to San Francisco that Haren goes with them…..


Pitching, Luck, a Dive & a Homer, give Phils 10  straight

This game had it all, and took 13 innings to make it happen.

PITCHING –

Starters Blanton for the Phillies and Harden for the Cubs were outstanding last night, neither gave up more than 1 run and both went 7 solid inning, batter after batter was retired with no sign of any real threat from either offence. Then it was time for both bullpen’s to take over and take over they did, both bullpens were as dominating as the starters had been, going 5 innings, it was the bottom of the 13th with 2 on and 2 out, Werth drove the ball deep to left field for a 3 run walk off home run.

LUCK-

Has Brad Lidge been watching David Beckham at work?

Top of the 9th Lidge is in to hold the 1-1 tie, he ding’s Ramirez
lidgebeckham.jpgwith a ball to put 1 on, gets an out, then with some fancy foot work, normally seen on a soccer field, with a ball hit back up the middle, Lidge turns and flicks the ball with his heel straight to J-Roll at 2nd base, who throws to 1st to get the double play… definately a highlight reel playback

DIVE-

This was simply perfection from Ibanez, you could almost see his cape flapping in the wind behind him as Raul ‘superman’ Ibanez ran to his right, left his feet and flew to catch a line drive that would almost definately have been a double, possibly a triple and set up a chance for a Cubs winning run.

HOMER-

The walk off kind of homer that everybody loves, Werth at the plate, 2 on 2 out, extra innings with both pens about to run out of pitchers, a slight hanger of a pitch and BOOM there it is in some lucky fans glove up in the stand in left field.

Another series comes down to a possible sweep…


Phillies Offence WIN this one in extra’s……….

Utley had a very good night from the start, others warmed up as the game went on, with J-Roll leading off in the first with a base hit, Utley went deep to give the Phils a 2 run lead, which they needed.

Hamels started off slow, gave you the impression that this was going to be one of those short games for him, after the first inning he settled in, it wasn’t a stellar performance, you just didn’t expect it to be a rain delay that knocked him out of the game. He went 5 innings giving up a solo homer in the first, along with 3 other hits and a walk in his 5 innings of work. We will definately need more from Cole as we get closer to post season play, the shame of it is, he works really hard and deserves better.

Werth started off the night as he had finished the day before, strugling to get comfortable at the plate, that changed as he warmed up, as if it wasn’t hot enough last night in Florida, picking up a couple of clutch hits, both drove in runs and more importantly the opne turned out to be the key insurance run the Phillies needed to win in the 12th inning.

Rollins has more than settled down now, on base a couple of times last night and each time he crossed the plate to score runs.

Howard and Ibanez were both continuing their, you throw it, we’ll hit it, campaign as they both picked up a couple of hits and scored a run each.

RAIN DELAY – During the 1hour 18 minute rain delay,
bigbenrain.jpg I decided to click around the other games on MLBTV, watched some of the Tampa Bay game, which the Rays looked as though they could come back, but weren’t quite doing it (they did in the end), had to have a look in at the Braves trashing the Muts (Mets), that was just funny, and since I am blacked out for the Tribe, I couldn’t see any of that game, but was dissapointed to see Huff didn’t get a win last night.

Rain delay over, no Hamels (understandably), so we went to the bullpen, which was back to full strength, unfortunately the continued strain that is being put on them showed last night, they allowed the Marlins to claw their way back into this game sending it to extra innings. Lidge came away with a save, but it was touch and go, as seems to be the norm recently.

Phillies Offence really gave us the win, back at it tonight, a little tougher game with the 8-2 Johnson on the mound for the Fish, but never fear ’cause Blanton is here, the Phillies work horse should keep it close and hopefully allow the Phillies get their 8th straight win….

 


Pitchers Duel goes to Philadelphia…

It was nothing more than pure speed on the mound tonight, as both Blanton and Duke were quick through each inning, Blanton pitched 7 1/3 innings giving up a solo homer in the first, he allowed just 3 other hits keeping the Pirates bats quiet.

Duke pitched an outstanding game for the Pirates giving up just 3 runs, in 8 innings, all the Phillies runs came in the 3rd inning, the only Phillies batter that seemed to be consistent against Duke was All Star, Victorino who tapped him for 3 hits. Both Utley and Werth got a hit each off Duke during the three run 3rd.

Romero came in to relieve Blanton and got the 3 batters he faced, setting it up for Lidge to get the final 2 outs in the top of the ninth.

Lidge again made the fans sweat and their hearts race, needing just 1 out in the top of the ninth, he gave up a solo homer to Moss, then a single to Wilson and somehow still managed to get the PH to swing through and get himself out, it took Lidge 20 pitches to save the game and a lot of stress and worry for the fans, who went from cheering to crossing their fingers.

I don’t normally single a player out as a player of the game, but today I think I have to give this one to the Pirates pitcher Duke, that was a tough one for him to lose. Imagine what his stats would be like behind the offence the Phillies can produce….. just a thought, while we’re looking for starters…..


Phillies take series from Reds, set new club record

Jayson Werth went deep to record his 20th home run of the season making him the 4th player to be on 20 home runs or more before the All Star Break, a first for the Phillies franchise and only the second MLB team to accomplish this feat. Werth has put up impressive numbers in the first half of this season and has more than proved that he can be an everyday player, I personally thought he would struggle as an everday outfielder, so well done Jayson, you are on a season setting personal best. Jayson’s name has been thrown in the mix for the All Star Game, since Beltran is injured, is Werth worthy of an All Star pick, well he has certainly put up the numbers, however I believe there are others who are a little more deserving, if it’s an outfielder they need then I would have to go with Kemp, he has better numbers this year, if it’s just any position player then there are a number to choose from and everyone will have there own personal favorite.

Chase Utley, in a ball park that is suposed to allow almost anyone to go deep, showed everyone last night that you dont need to hit the ball over the fence to get a home run, his second inside the park home run against the reds. This one came in the 3rd inning and it was Utley’s 20th homer of the year, although there wasn’t a play at the plate this time, he needed some recovery time to catch his breath, who wouldn’t.

Jamie Moyer pitched through 5 innings giving up 6 runs on 8 hits, since the offence took the lead in the bottom of the 5th Jamie was the pitcher of record giving him, his 254th career win. Jamie gave up two home runs, not unusual for Jamie, all in all a good outing for him.

Chan Ho Park gave another stellar performance from the bullpen, 3 scoreless innings, giving up 1 walk, with 4 strike outs.

Brad Lidge continues to make everyone nervous in the 9th inning, after getting the 1st two batters he gave up a walk, but came back nicely to close out the game with a scoreless inning.

Even though the Phillies have taken six of seven in this home stand, they still have a below .500 record at home this season, a sweep of the Pirates would put them still 1 game shy of the .500 mark. We all know that sweeping the Pirates is a huge task, they have played well against NL East teams this year, I for one am glad we have Blanton, Hamels and Happ to face them this weekend.

Victorino won the vote for the final spot on the All Star team, he is more than deserving of his place, he again last night picked up a couple of walks, a hit and a couple of RBI’s and continues to play gold glove quality defense in the outfield. Well Done Shane!!

To the Pirates, welcome to Philadelphia, the in state rivalry isn’t quite as intense as some would think, but still it will make for a good weekend, especially if the Phillies keep up this excellent home stand performance.

RAUL IBANEZ will he return today or will they wait till tomorrow, I think he will probably be here today, but my gut tells me they should probably wait till tomorrow.