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.


Phillies Struggles Continue…

Game 2 against the Marlins in this 3 game series was again an eratic performance, this time they managed to give up a lead and throw the game in a 6-4 loss.

Cole Hamels pitched in manner consistant with his seasonhamelsalter-ego.jpg performance, very up and down, one minute he looks like no one could touch him, the next they are hitting everything he throws. So it turned out to be another shortened outing for him where he gave up 4 runs, then the bullpen started off with excellent command, and yet they also manged to give up 2 runs with 2 outs.

The defense and offense again was spuradic to say the least, offensivly, Howard who seamed to be the only one with anything to offer, helped by Feliz and Ibanez, but not all at the same time.

Defense, they weren’t bad, they had some good plays, but I have reviewed the games since these issues have arisen, which I believe to be during the recent west coast trip, it all started in Arizona. Victorino got injured, which wasn’t really a problem, since it came at the time Francisco joined the team, but when Victorino returned to play he didn’t quite seem right, he played more shallow than normal and that seemed to put all the outfielders in positions where they were not able to catch up to long fly balls as often as they had in the past. The infield also didn’t seem to be in the right spots either, or they were juggling balls they would normally play cleanly.

Are the coaches adjusting the fielders locations correctly, according to who is hitting, and who is pitching, and in what manner they are pitching? This does not seem to be the case, so for this I do not entirely blame the players, but will lay blame for at least 40% of the missed fly balls, or miss infield hits, squarely on the shoulders of the coaches, instead of sucking up to Charlie, or having fun in the dug out, WATCH THE GAME, and adjust the outfielders accordingly, just because were the current World Series Champions, it doesn’t mean we don’t play by the basic’s….

Today Jamie Moyer is on the mound, he has in the past dominated the Marlins, however, the defense and offense must show up to play and support his efforts, since he is a fly ball pitcher, they have to get their positioning right to prevent the extra base hits…


Phils take series finale from Cards 9-2, Jays reject Phillies counter offer…

For me the important part of today was another win, which in reality is what gets you to another post season, and without getting to the post season you can’t win another World Series.

In a game that had a freaky 1st inning, yes for me it was freaky, it’s not often you see the top of the 1st score a run and move a runner from 1st to 2nd on a fly ball, well it happened, but that wasn’t the freaky part, the bottom of the 2nd, it all happened again, exactly the same, it was like one of those if you can do it so can wee things from the movies. it looked as though it would be a very nail bitting game, by the end of the top of the 5th inning. It was just 3-2 Phillies, but the bottom of the 5th inning produced the 2nd 2 run homer from the Phillies by way of a deep to centerfield shot that hit the top of the center blanton.jpgfield batters-eye wall from Ryan Howard, at that point I felt with Joe Blanton on the mound the Phils were on there way to a victory. The game had the Phillies hitting 4, 2 run homers from Utley, Howard, Rollins and Ibanez….coupled with the first inning run it gave the Phillies another hard hitting win.

Even with the long balls and the double plays, for me the guy that made today was Joe Blanton he came into todays game with an ERA of just 0.83 for the month of July, and today he showed us why, he continued to get his pitches in the right location, keeping hitters off the bases. He went a solid 8 innings, giving up just 7 hits and 2 runs, while walking 1 and striking out 6…. The last 3 batters he faced just put an exclamation point on his perfomance, striking out in order, Lugo, Pujols and Holliday to end the top of the 8th. This is the type of trade deadline acquisition that has helped the Phillies. He’s not a media man, he’s not a look at me type guy, he goes out there and gets the job done and he works hard between his starts. I am not saying he’s better or worse than anyone else, my point is as far as acquiring someone, this guy was one of the better mid-season acquisitions the Phillies have made over the past few years. Well Done Joe keep it going through August….

 

So the Blue Jays turned down the counter offer the Phillies made for Roy Halladay, that is understandable, you see there are other teams still making offers and they want to get the maximum they can for him, the fact is other teams now know what they won’t except, so they have a lead role to offer something better than the Phillies offered. There are also reports that the Angels recieved a list of demands from the Jays for Halladay to go to them, it is reported that they like the Phils believe the asking price is too high.

I have read a lot of comments on blogs lately regarding this subject, me personally I am at the point where I say if they don’t like what we are prepared to give then walk away from the deal. Lots of people think Halladay is going to bring us another World Series, well he won’t, it’s a team thing, yes he does have the stats that say he will help the Phillies in acheiving that goal, but for me any trade is risky, regardless, some say the risk is minimal for the Phillies, on paper that maybe, but in reality, no one knows for sure, because there are no guarantees.

It would be nice to add to our starting rotation, in a manner that will improve it, not just add to it with more #4 and #5 rotation pitchers. I would like to see a serious consideration given to Lee at Cleveland, no he’s not Halladay, but he’s more affordable and would still increase our chance of another World Series.

So for all those commenters on the Halladay stories that say the Phillies blew it by rejecting the Jays outlandish request, I say this —- now you’ve got more days to whine, complain, attack management and continuously comment as if it was your discision and that you believe you are the almanac and crystal ball of baseball, and when others dont agree with you, you still have time to turn your frustrations out on them and start bad mouthing each other in the comments of a news story that most people have read and moved on from, sometimes days, but definately hours before you’ve started insulting each other.

It’s off to Arizona for the Phillies, and then onto the west coast for a road trip that will take us into August and past the trade deadline, so who will join the Phillies on the road, anyone or no one???


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 go NINE straight, Cubs get cooled off…

Well the HOT Chicago Cubs found out tonight how HOT, HOT really is when the Phillies put 10 runs on the board, via 3 home runs and a couple of RBI hits.

HOT.jpgThe Phanatic was playing Batman for Jack Nicholson while Rollins and Victorino were doing there impression of the dynamic duo at the top of the line up, Victorino got an education on ‘where to’ and ‘where not to’ run when stealing a base, from the umpires.

Ibanez of course was playing superman again, with a 3 run homer in the 1st with 2 outs and 2 strikes on him. Even as cold as Ruiz has been at the plate, he felt the heat of the team as he hit a 2 run homer in the 2nd and then hit an RBI double in the 4th inning.

Rollins and Utley both  picked up RBI’s in the 4th to make this a 9 run game.

Lopez did not have his best stuff tonight, was fishing around the strike zone, giving up 3 walks, even so, he only allowed 1 run through 6 innings of work and 1 extra base hit.

Howard not to be out done by Ibanez struck a typical ‘Howards Hompiniellabatteries.jpger’ in the 8th inning to make it a 10-1 game.

Durbin came out of the pen in the bottom of the 7th to earn a save the old fashioned way, 3 innings of shut out work, even in a 10-1 game gave Durbin the save, and he earned it allowing just 1 hit in those 3 innings he gave the rest of the pen a night to rest up and have fun.

The Cubs looked like a team with a ‘For Sale’ sign hanging over them, even Lou Piniella looked as though he was in the middle of a ‘Twilight Zone’ episode, either that or someone placed a robot version of him in the Cubs dugout and forgot to read the warning label  ‘Batteries Not Included’.

 


Phillies Sweep Fish in Florida…..

The Phillies are starting to take a firm hold of the eastern division, with the series in Florida shortened by 1 game the Phillies completed another series sweep with a 5-0 win today. Philadelphia has won the last 4 series, 3 by sweeps, 2 of those sweeps are eastern division rivals, with a tough home stand starting tomorrow the Phillies have now won 12 of the last 13 games, which includes 8 straight.

After Friday’s delay and yesterday’s postponement due to rain, the anticipation of getting through a game in Florida without rain intervention was almost as much as could Happ pitch more scoreless innings. With the threat of rain and a few sprinkles early in the game Happ won out the day, going 7 scoreless innings, giving up just 5 hits and 1 walk. Happ has given up just 1 run in his last 14 innings.

The Phillies offence went straight to work in the 1st inning, when it seemed like they were going to make it very hard for Florida to contemplate a win even before they came to bat, some how, the Phillies managed to get themselves out and leave the bases loaded. The 2nd inning, Florida were not so lucky, as the Phillies jumped on Miller for 3 runs and added a 4th in the 3rd inning, this sent Miller scurrying to the dugout and the Phillies facing the Marlins bullpen.

The Marlins bullpen played very well holding the Phillies hitless and scoreless till the 9th inning, when they gave up the 5th and final run.

Rollins was a homerun away from the cycle during another outstanding performancethat gave him 3 hits, 1 run and 1 RBI, Ibanez continued to do what the fans have come to expect, deliver when we need it, 1 hit, 2 RBI’s and 2 BB’s.


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….

 


Phillies, Ph-ilet the Fish in Florida

The Phillies could not have wished for a better start to the second half of the season, it was a night when Jamie Moyer went 7 innings giving up just 1 hit and a walk, throwing 95 pitches, the bullpen continued what Moyer started, Madson threw a scoreless 8th inning and marlin.jpgRomero threw a scoreless 9th inning, the pitches really were like a knife through butter, or in this case a filet knife through fish.

Keeping with the theme of things Ibanez and Howard homered into the SEA of empty seats, Ibanez hit a 2 run shot in the 2nd and a solo in the 4th, Howard became the fastest player in MLB history to reach 200 home runs with his solo shot in the 6th innning.

This win put Moyer at 9-6 for the year, the blogs and comments during the last week or so have been calling for the Phillies to acquire Halladay, I am all for this, however, more and more it has been written that Moyer should be the one to lose his spot, games like this are why we need to keep Moyer in the rotation. Currently at 9-6 for the year, games he has started the Phillies are 11-7, he is on his way to double figure wins again this year and can be a major asset in the clubhouse as well as on the mound, as the Phillies make a bid for back to back World Series wins. Just my thoughts to those who doubt Moyer has anything left to offer.

Howard reached his 200th homer mark in his 658th major league start, smashing the previous record held by Ralf Kiner who took just 706 major league games, hopefully Ryan is back on track to keep hitting the long ball.

RAUUUUUUL showed us that there should be no doubts as to whether he lost his timing at the plate during his DL period, with 2 long balls tonight he leads the Phillies with 24 homers, even after being out for those 20 games.

Can the Philles NET another win against the Marlins tomorrow, with Cole Hamels on the mound, in a fresh start after the break, he needs to put the first half games behind him and move onward and upward and start off with a solid outing of at least 7 innings.


Would the REAL Cole Hamels Please Stand Up………

I have decide that Cole Hamels has an Alter-Ego that at any given moment will come to life, he has no control over this Alter-Ego, in fact the claims that he was working on mechanics in the bullpen this week was a disguise for, “Trying to control the Alter-Ego”. This Alter-Ego is none other than the “COOKIE CHUCKER”, for no hamelsalter-ego.jpgapparent reason when the “COOKIE CHUCKER” rears it’s ugly head Cole will simply throw cookies down the middle of the plate to opposing hitters, thus allowing the homer to be hit. The “COOKIE CHUCKER” is the evil, hitter friendly pitcher trapped inside Cole’s body. Last night the “COOKIE CHUCKER” came out, without warning, with 2 outs in the bottom of the 1st inning and decided to stay around and play till the 3rd inning. You could see the look on Cole’s face in the duggout between the 2nd and 3rd inning where he was fighting to hide the “COOKIE CHUCKER”, it was the extra “bullpen” work that gave Cole the strength to bury the “COOKIE CHUCKER” back inside himself and keep it at bay till he left the game. So next time Cole Hamels throws one of those hitter friendly cookie’s you’ll know the “COOKIE CHUCKER” has reared it’s ugly head again……

 

RAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUL is back and what a night, 2 hits, 2 runs and an RBI, and that included the game winning run, more importantly his return saw the Howards Homer come back to life….

HANDS-UP how many people were convinced the Phillies had lost this one, before the bottom of the ninth came to life…. own up…. thought so…. have faith…. even Joe Biden and his wife knew it wasn’t over, else why would they have stayed…. it was none other than a Vice Presidential Order, the Phillies had to win last night at all cost….

I am sure by the time the bottom of the ninth came even the Pirates fans thought they had this one in the bag, it was without any doubt the come back of the year, so far, for the Phillies, as I said Howards Homer came back to life to tie it up, then a Ibanez started the 1 out bases loading actions, till Bako hit the game winning drive….

Lets make it a HAPP-y sweep today….

 


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.