Results tagged ‘ Antonio Bastardo ’

Spring Has Sprung: Phillies 2012 Edition

The start of spring training is always an exciting time.  It means a new year, new players and another shot at the World Championship.  For me, the day pitcher’s and catcher’s report does not exactly conjure the urge to cheer out loud; it is more a feeling of relief.  It is time to exhale…

Because all winter long, I have been holding my breath waiting for spring to arrive and it is finally here!  Winter is the worst season for baseball addicts.  You can try to distract yourself with the holidays, football, hockey and hoops, but it is just not the same.  And there are so many down days and so much time to fill.

Now, like a child on Christmas morning, we all feel the anticipation of the new season upon us.  Just as excited must be Roy Halladay, who arrived to spring training in style.  This appears to be a 1932 Ford Roadster; the photo was tweeted by Matt Gelb:

As spring training rolls forward, here are a few things to keep your eyes out for:

Who’s on First? – After Achilles surgery, Ryan Howard will be out of the line-up until at least May, probably longer.  Will John Mayberry take over?  Or, will he start in left and leave 1st base to new Phillies Laynce Nix and Ty Wigginton?  My preference is the latter.

What’s on Second? – The “who” here is Chase Utley.  The “what” is what shape will he be in after nursing a bum knee throughout the 2011 season.

Juggling of the Bullpen – There are some significant changes to the pen this year starting with new closer Jonathan Papelbon.  But that role is set, so what about the rest of the pen?  What role will Kyle Kendrick fill?  Will Dontrelle Willis be a real contributor?  And can Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes move past the awful ending to an otherwise solid 2011 season?   Add Chad Qualls and a possible return from Jose Contreras and this has the makings of a huge soap opera.

The Infirmary – One of the biggest question marks on an aging team is can they stay healthy?  Many players had off-season surgery including Cole Hamels, Placido Polanco, Hunter Pence and, of course, Ryan HowardJimmy Rollins has only played around 1/2 of the last two seasons due to injuries.  And this year, he has a brand new contract, making his continued health a real priority.

The Contract SituationCole Hamels is on board for the year.  But unless the Phillies ink a long-term deal with him this spring, they are likely to lose him in free agency next year.  The question is, how much of a distraction will this be?  Personally, I think the Phillies need to cut a deal now and be done with it.

Luckily, this year fans will have more opportunities to see these dramas play out thanks to expanded TV coverage of spring training.  Comcast has published a list of all 14 games that will be aired plus many news and social media events.  This is the first time EVER that you can see every Phillies spring training game without travelling to Clearwater.

Of course, I would rather be in Florida.  However, this is a great alternative.  With the early March games being aired, you can see a lot of young guys and prospects play that without the TV coverage, you normally would not.  In prior years, those players were already sent back to the minors by the time games began to air.

Changing the subject to a more personal note, many of you who follow my blog regularly know that I generally post new content frequently.  However, this off-season has been a tough one for me.  It seems like life keeps tossing me curve balls.  I have been quite ill all off-season.  Then a short time ago, my cat of 15 years passed away in my arms.  I had to have surgery just 6 days after that happened and am still recovering with another surgery on the horizon.

I will live, but it has been a rough go for a while here.  So I thank you all for continuing to follow my silly little blog :O)  I hope to be back on track with regular postings and some fun photos real soon.  And what could be a better cure for that which ails me than baseball?

Thank goodness, Spring Training has sprung!

 

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Questions That Loom Over the Phillies 2012 Season

A new year is upon us and a new Phillies season is almost here, with Spring Training to begin in just over a month.  A few off-season signings have solidified some areas, where other areas may still be of concern.  Here is my list of Phillies looming questions by position:

The Starting Rotation - The projected starters and order are Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton and Vance Worley.  Halladay and Lee are no brainers.  Hamels is recovering from elbow surgery but reports are that he is throwing and feeling fine.

This means the two questions remaining are Blanton and Worley.  Blanton sat out most of 2011 with a bum elbow and chose not to have surgery this offseason.  How he will respond in 2012 is a mystery.  However, Kyle Kendrick will be waiting in the wings to fill in should Big Joe go down.

And the question for Worley is simply, will he suffer the sophomore slump or pick up where he left off in 2011.  Either way, the Vanimal will be fascinating to watch.

Catcher -  Carlos Ruiz returns as Batman with Brian Schneider backing him up as Robin.  Choooooch!  No questions here.

1st Base – The sight of Ryan Howard tumbling to the ground in agony to end the Phillies 2011 season still burns in our collective memories.  Beat-writer Todd Zolecki reports that Howard is recovering well from Achilles surgery and is now beginning a light exercise program.

Still, Howard will miss some time.  Experts predict that John Mayberry Jr. will pick up most of the time at 1st with an occasional appearance from Jim Thome.  This seems like a terrible shame for Mayberry who should simply be handed left field and allowed to get comfortable there for the long haul.  Instead, the Phillies will probably platoon Laynce Nix in left with someone like Scott Podsednik.

My suggestion?  Give Nix a shot at 1st base and leave Mayberry in left.  Nix has played 1st before and with some work in Spring Training, he could work his way into the role easily.  Of course, I have no real say in the matter.

2nd Base – Can Chase Utley start and end a whole season at 2nd with his health intact?  We shall see…

Shortstop – Jimmy Rollins returns with a fresh 3-year deal.  The question here is that same as that of the other Phillies aging players…can he stay healthy?

3rd Base – I hate to beat a dead horse, but can Placido Polanco stay healthy at  36 years of age, coming off sports hernia surgery?  We hope so.  Polly’s contract is up after 2012, so who will be our 3rd baseman in 2013?

My suggestion?  Glad you asked.  Have minor league prospect Freddy Galvis spend the year working on a move from SS to 3rd.  Galvis is almost major league ready but out of options with J-Roll resigned at SS for 3 years.  Either Galvis becomes trade bait or he finds another way to be useful to the Phils.

Outfield –  As I mentioned before, Mayberry should be the left fielder but it may wind up being Nix until Howard gets healthy.  At least center and right are set: Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence will both be back and ready to play.

The Bullpen – Once again, the Phillies pen is a huge question mark.  The Phils saw rookies and younger, less experienced players, like Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo, rise and fall throughout 2011.  The status of veteran Jose Contreras is mostly unknown since having elbow surgery.  Other veterans, like Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson are gone (for now).  However, neither Lidge or Madson have found homes.  Could they return?  It’s a long shot….but not impossible.

Spring Training is going to be huge in determining the make-up of this bullpen.  There will be a lot of opportunities for younger guys to step up and steal a spot.  It will also be interesting to see if Dontrelle Willis can conjure up some of his early career magic or if he will slide back into oblivion.

And of course, the closer question was answered with the signing of Jonathan Papelbon.  The only question here is will Papelbon play up to his huge salary?

The Bench – Both Thome and Wilson Valdez are set.  The rest of the bench could consist of any number of new signings or guys like Michael Martinez and Pete Orr.  Again, Spring Training should be very interesting.

FYI - Totally off topic, if anyone has noticed some of my photos and albums mysteriously gone missing, this is due to an unexpected issue with the site I was using to store them.  I am in the process of getting it all loaded to a new site and will be working on updating older blogs as I am able to.  For now, all 2011 albums are back up and can be found under my 2007 – 2011 Photo Archives.  Thank you for your patience while I get everything back up and running :O)

I would like to thank all of my loyal readers for stopping by and helping to make Phillies Phollowers the #1 Phillies Fan MLBlog for the 4th straight year.  Among all team MLBlogs, I ranked #10 in 2011.

Many thanks to everyone in the MLBlogs community and congrats to all the leaders!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Award Season: Which Phillies Made the Grade So Far

Despite an early exit from the playoffs, the Phillies 102 regular season wins and stellar individual performances have earned some players much deserved honors.

Earlier this offseason, Placido Polanco was awarded a Gold Glove for his work at third base.  Polly also won the award playing second base for the Tigers in 2007 and 2009.  He and Darin Erstad are now the only two players in big league history to win a Gold Glove at multiple positions.

MLB.com also handed out awards on Monday.   Ryan Howard was named the club’s Player of the Year, while right-hander Roy Halladay was chosen the team’s Pitcher of the Year.  And rookie right-hander Vance Worley was voted the Breakout Player of the Year.

Not to be outdone, the Philadelphia chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America put its two cents in as well.  Center-fielder Shane Victorino was the winner of the Mike Schmidt Award  for Most Valuable Player and left-hander Cliff Lee received the Steve Carlton Award for Most Valuable pitcher.

The big awards come out next week which will include Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year and the Cy Young award.  It is expect that many Phillies will be considered for these top honors, but realistically, none of them will win.  Charlie Manuel is overlooked every year in the manager category; Worley will probably lose out to Freddie Freeman.  As for the Cy Young, both Halladay and Lee will probably get passed over in favor of Clayton Kershaw who had 21 wins and an almost invisible 2.28 ERA.

Of course, anything can happen.  But those are my predictions…how about you?  Leave your best guess in the comments and we will see who gets it right.

And if anyone missed it, here is my annual Phillies Photo Tribute slideshow.  Enjoy!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

2011 Phillies Photo Tribute

I just finished my yearly Phillies photo tribute!  I shot all of these photos during the 2011 season which include game photos, every player who was on the big league roster (even if for only a split second), a few alumni shots and other goodies.

The “For Fun” section is my favorite.  I collect funny shots throughout the year, like players with the giggles, guys sticking out their tongues, silly faces and lots more.  Do not worry, they are all family friendly.  The really fun ones I keep to myself ;o)

Enjoy!

 

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Roster in Place, the Phillies Are Ready for the NLDS

Game 1 of the NLDS is scheduled for a 5:07 start tonight.  Here is the post-season roster for the Phillies:

  • Catchers (2): Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider.
  • Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez.
  • Outfielders (6): Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry Jr., Ben Francisco and Ross Gload.
  • Pitchers (11): Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton.
  • Extras: Infielder Pete Orr and Catcher Erik Kratz will travel with the team. RHP Justin De Fratus, LHP Joe Savery and outfielder Domonic Brown will work out in Clearwater, FL and Outfielders John Bowker and Brandon Moss and RHP Michael Schwimer have been sent home.

The only slightly interesting move here is that Blanton was chosen for the roster instead of David Herndon, despite missing most of the season with injuries.  The Phillies chose experience over a younger guy, even though Herndon was with the team most of the year.

As for the pitching match-ups in the series, here are the probable starters for the Phillies and Cardinals:

  • Game 1: Roy Halladay vs. Kyle Lohse (ex-Phillie)
  • Game 2: Cliff Lee vs. Chris Carpenter (on 3 days rest)
  • Game 3: Cole Hamels vs. Jaime Garcia

These are some odd moves by Tony LaRussa.  It will either turn out to be genius, or a huge mistake.  The Phillies should be able to handle Lohse and will then get Carpenter on short rest.  That is another situation they can probably take advantage of.

The pitcher the Phils have the most trouble with is Garcia, who was pushed back to Game 3 because his home numbers are much better than his road numbers.

This all seems to add up to a Phillies advantage, however, that remains to be seen.  Also of note, Game 2 has been pushed back to 8:37pm (ugh) on Sunday due to the Yankees – Tigers rain postponement.

I also wanted to share with you an article I just read about how Danys Baez has helped Antonio Bastardo out of his recent pitching funk.  Baez was released by the Phillies in July and was not picked up by another team.  He has been sitting at home in Miami watching and noticed Bastardo, a player he previously mentored, was having problems.  He reached out to Bastardo and helped him find the issues in his mechanics.

Bastardo has bounced back since then and it seems that Baez is the reason.  The story made me a little sad, thinking about how much criticism Baez took while he was in Philly from fans and media.  For him to swallow his pride and reach out to an ex-teammate like that is a sign of true character.  He may not have been the bullpen solution the Phillies hoped for, but he gets huge brownie points in my book for just being a great guy.

Hope to see you all at the game tonight!  Go Phillies!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Phillies Tie Franchise Record With 101 Wins

With a 7-1 win over the Braves on Tuesday night, the Phillies tied the franchise record for wins in a season with 101.  The Phillies also reached 101 in 1976 and 1977.

There was a lot of good news in this game, besides the win.  Roy Oswalt looked playoff ready on the mound.  He pitched six scoreless innings, allowing only 3 hits.

Chase Utley appears to be finding his swing again; he started the game with a solo homer in the 1st.  And Jimmy Rollins has now hit home runs in back-to-back games.  Hunter Pence also had a big night with 3 RBI.

In the bullpen, one major relief was seeing Antonio Bastardo get back on the horse after a bunch of bad outings.  He pitched a scoreless inning and looked convincing doing it.  Another interesting note is that rookie Joe Savery also pitched a scoreless inning and has looked very sharp his last few times out.  This is significant because he is also a lefty and could be called upon in the playoffs if Bastardo loses his stuff again.

The final regular season game for the Phillies is tonight at 7:10pm.  The Phils will have a shot at breaking the franchise record in wins and also dashing the playoff hopes for the Braves.  Go Phillies!

 

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*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Doc Helps Cure Phillies Losing Streak

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.

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Halladay head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Double Fish Fry in Phillies – Marlins Doubleheader

After Hurricane Irene wiped out the last two games scheduled between the Phillies and Marlins in late August, both were rescheduled as a day/night doubleheader on Thursday, which otherwise would have been the final off-day of the regular season for the Phillies.  Fittingly, it was windy and rainy throughout the day, but baseball finally prevailed over weather.

Day Game

The Phillies came away with a 3-1 win in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader.  Kyle Kendrick started the game, but was only allowed to go five innings since he had not pitched in a while.   The precautionary move was understandable, but Kendrick pitched very well so it was a shame to see him pulled early.

Kendrick allowed only two hits, one of which was a home run.  He also struck out six batters and did not issue any walks.  Kendrick’s early departure opened the door to the Phillies bullpen.

First up was Michael Stutes who pitched two scoreless innings, although he did have several base runners.  Stutes was not terribly sharp, but he got the job done.  Actually, no one looked great coming out of the pen in this one including Antonio Bastardo, Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson.  But although the innings pitched were a little sloppy, they did not allow any runs.

Bastardo, however, is becoming a serious concern.  The once unhittable 8th/9th inning lefty has looked very human in this past month.  So noticeable are his struggles that manager Charlie Manuel did not hesitate to pull him after Bastardo allowed a double and a walk.  If Bastardo cannot get it together soon, using the bullpen in the postseason is going to be a real adventure.

As for the offense in this game, there was not much of it.  Placido Polanco and Raul Ibanez each had 2 hits and 1 RBI.  Ibanez hit his 30th double of the season which means he has now had at least 30 doubles each year for 10 straight seasons.

But the rest of the offense basically took the day off.  There were hits scattered here and there, but all those runners were stranded on base.  They even loaded the bases in the 8th with 1 out and failed to score.  Ryan Howard’s slump continued as well; he is 0 for his last 16 at-bats.

Defensively, Pete Orr had quite a game at second base.  He made multiple diving grabs and ice-cream coned a short fly ball after jumping about four feet off the ground to get to it.  He probably saved the Phillies a lot of trouble.

So despite the lack of fire power and slightly sloppy pen performance, the Phillies recorded the win.

Night Game

The offensive struggles from the first game of the doubleheader carried right on over to the second game.  The Marlins started Alex Sanabia, a young pitcher who spent the whole year in the minors.  So things looked good on the surface for the Phillies.

But the winds grew stronger as the sun went down.  Fly balls that were hit hard wound up cycloning backwards away from the outfield wall, putting fly balls in play that may have been doubles or homers in calmer conditions.

Chase Utley made his first start since getting hit in the head with a pitch last week.  He had a pinch-hit single in the day game, and barely scratched out a hit in the night game against the Marlins bullpen.  The only two players who seemed to have Sanabia figured out were John Mayberry Jr. and Ross Gload, who both had multi-hit games.

The Phillies had not scored yet when Mayberry finally cut through the strong winds with a line-drive solo homer in the 6th.  That would end up being a very important run for the Phillies.

With Cliff Lee pitching, the Phillies had a good chance that the one run would hold up.  Lee kept the Fish at bay, despite allowing a bunch of base runners.  He was amazing, as usual, and even had one of the few Phillies hits in the game.

But just when it looked like this game was in the books, Lee got to two outs in the 9th and, for the second time this year, gave up the tying run.  The solo homer took all the air out of the balloon as the crowd sighed in disbelief at the 1-1 tie.

After the game, Lee said, “I can’t think of a worse scenario.”  He hit the nail on the head.  But lucky for Lee, Ryan Howard emerged from his slump and hit the baseball on the head.  After Michael Martinez walked in the 10th, Howard doubled to score him for the walk-off, extra-innings win.

Whew!

FYI – Michael Schwimer had pitched the top of the 10th and this turned out to be his first major league win.

Division Magic # – 2 games

Home Field Advantage Magic # – 3  games

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Halladay Keeps the Win-Train Chugging

This Phillies series with the Brewers has been touted by some as a possible playoff preview.  If that is the case, things are not looking great for the Brewers so far.

After a 7-2 victory last night, the Phillies picked up right where they left off, scoring early and allowing their ace, Roy Halladay, to handle the Brewers hitters.  Halladay was his usual sparkling self, allowing only one run through eight innings on four hits.
 

Ryan Howard was back in the line-up tonight after a day of rest yesterday.  The break seemed to help as Howard smashed a 3-run homer in the first inning.  He also walked twice after that.

After spending most of the year in the minors, Pete Orr finally saw some action tonight in place of Chase Utley who is still in Philly.  Utley is being observed for a possible concussion after getting beamed in the head by a fastball on Wednesday.  Orr took full advantage of the playing time, going 3-for-4 at the plate.  Although, he was almost murdered by a rouge group of sausages ;o)

Several Phillies had multi-hit nights including Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez.  Ruiz was on base in all four of his at-bats; he walked twice and collected 1 RBI.

But while Halladay and the offense were all clicking, there may be cause for concern about Antonio Bastardo.  He started the 9th inning and put two runners on base with a hit and a walk, all without recording an out.

Bastardo had a similar situation only two appearances ago where he put two men on against the Marlins and was pulled before getting an out.  In that game, both runs ended up scoring.  Both runs scored tonight as well.

This young lefty has been so good all year, he has seemed practically unhittable.  But suddenly, Bastardo does not look like the same pitcher.  One could argue he has been overused, but before tonight’s game, Bastardo ranked 44th in innings pitched in the NL.

Still, Bastardo’s recent troubles are not a reason to panic, but it is something the Phillies need to keep an eye on.  And tonight, Ryan Madson took over for Bastardo and was able to secure the 5-3 win.

This win ensures the Phillies cannot lose the four game series and they to grab only one of the next two to win it.  Game 3 is Saturday night at 7:10pm with Cliff Lee pitching against former Phillie, Randy Wolf.

Post-Season Magic # – 3 games

Division Magic # – 10 games

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Rain-Soaked, Dreary Loss for the Phils in Florida

Tonight in Florida, it looked like the soggy north east weather had followed the Phillies south.  Downpours delayed the start of tonight’s game against the Marlins by about an hour and a half.  It was the third rain delay / postponement between the Phillies and Marlins in the course of just a week.

The game began with a light, but steady rain, still pouring down.  And while the rain chased away many of the few fans who were actually at the game, Cole Hamels stuck it out and pitched fairly well.

Although he had some control issues, Hamels got through seven innings allowing three runs on four hits and three walks.  All three runs for the Marlins were scored on home runs.

But Hamels made up for his pitching mistakes at the plate.  In the second inning, Wilson Valdez tripled to score two runs and then Hamels followed up with an RBI-single.  Hamels duplicated the feat in his next at-bat in the fourth.  So he ended the night with two hits and two RBI.  Not too shabby for a pitcher.

Unfortunately, the scoring ended with Hamels’ 4th inning RBI.  Even less fortunate than that was a bad pitching decision by manager Charlie Manuel.  He sent Antonio Bastardo out to pitch the eighth after Bastardo had just pitched almost three innings in the last two games.  While Bastardo has been superb, he has also been overused.  And that was obvious tonight when he walked the first two batters he faced.

Manuel pulled Bastardo after the walks and put in David Herndon.  And that move also proved to be costly.  Herndon has been much better lately, but he is almost always better when he starts an inning as opposed to taking on inherited runners.  And just like that, Herndon imploded.  He gave up three home runs for a total of five in the inning, giving the Marlins a huge 8-4 lead.

The way the Phillies offense had played all night, it was clear that a four run deficit might be nearly impossible to overcome.  When the only guys hitting are your pitcher and the 7 & 8-hole hitters, it is probably not going to be a great night offensively.

So although Hamels left the game with a lead, the bullpen handed the game to the Marlins.  The Phillies lost 8-4.  The only good news is that the Braves also lost tonight.

The Phillies still have a chance to win the series tomorrow afternoon at 1:10pm.  Roy Halladay will pitch.

 

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*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

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