seemed just like any other sporting Sunday in Philadelphia, this one was just a
little more special though. The Phillies had lost the first game of the NLCS to
the San Francisco Giants the day before and so desperately needed the win to
even the series.
The countries premier sporting complex in Philadelphia had
tailgating starting early, the Philadelphia Eagles would be hosting the Atlanta
Falcons at Lincoln Financial Field just a stones throw, or a long toss away from
Citizens Bank Park. Why was this different to any other Sunday when both teams
were playing at home, well the fact that Fox Sports decided the Eagles game
would be the main attraction for the 1 PM ET game slot.
If you didn’t watch the Eagles game or haven’t seen the news
then, you will have missed out on the fact that Ryan Howard made an appearance
at Lincoln Financial during the first quarter of the game. It sparked a flurry
of ‘tweets’ from Phillies fans complaining of his presence when they
thought he should be in the batting cages. Why was did Howard pick this day to
visit the Eagles?
According to inside sources, as part of Fox Sports promotional
efforts, they requested a Phillies player show up. Who’s decision to make it
Howard and not a less prominent player is still a mystery. There may however be
more underlying parts to this story, because while Howard took time out of his
busy schedule and made an appearance on the sidelines there was another prominent
person absent from the sidelines.
Vick the, on again, off again, QB for the Eagles was absent from
the sidelines, Andy Reid dodged the question at the post game news conference
causing speculation as to Vick’s absence. While reports from within the NFL
media and closely connected personnel indicated that it was nothing, speculation
grew about his avoidance of interaction with fans and his old club. In fact he
even kept his old manager waiting in the locker room area.
If the media wasn’t so narrow minded and spotlight focused on
their own sources within the sport they serve, they may have seen a broader
picture with more characters than their lack of multi-tasking NFL minds could
probably handle. Inner circles seem to have suggested that, the very pro animal
rights personnel connected to the Phillies team suggested that if a key Phillies
player was to attend the Eagles game, then that player couldn’t be seen to
interact with Vick, who was scheduled to be on the sidelines. If anyone has any
doubts that Fox Sports has no pull in what happens in the 2 biggest sports in
the country then think again, this was a mere minor manipulation for Fox Sports
to get their live on air promotion.
night finally arrived all the players in where they should be, there was no
Eagles player invasion, since there was nothing NFL related for Fox to reverse
promote. The ‘O’ from the Phillies 3 headed strike force, known as H2O, also
known as Roy Oswalt, was on the mound for the Phillies. The Giants countered
with their second ‘Ace’, Sanchez, who would try and put the Giants in a position
to take a 2-0 series lead.
Sunday saw a different look to the Phillies players, there
wasn’t a different line up, they hadn’t all had anything done to change their
appearance, but from the first at bat through to the final at bat, you could
tell they had the winning attitude. This attitude had been sorely missing during
Saturdays game, in fact it almost appeared like they new the outcome before the
game Saturday. Game 2 was different, they looked like they new there was no
outcome defined, they wanted this win and they did everthing they could to get
it. Oswalt turned in a performance worthy of the H2O status, the Phillies
players all played their part, with bats and gloves. In addition to an excellent
pitching display Oswalt showed he could hit and run the bases, for me he more
than made up for his previous start.
Now it’s off the San Francisco, with the series tied at 1-1, the
shift of home field advantage may well have shifted to the Giants, but if there
is one thing we have learned in this post season, home field advantage isn’t so
much of an advantage.
Cliff Lee takes his 3rd straight win as the Ace in the Phillies rotation and
drives 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 to 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 offensive 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.