Results tagged ‘ Antonio Bastardo ’

Phillies 42 Games Over .500 Makes History

With a 5-3 win over the Marlins tonight, the Phillies added another record to the franchise books.  And here is how it transpired:

Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt made the start tonight.  Since coming off the DL, he has produced one really good start, a couple of okay starts and one bad start.  The bad start was against the Marlins last week.  This week, facing the same team, he had another sort of up and down day.

While the results were not awful, Oswalt just did not look solid out there.   He gave up three runs in 6.1 innings, so it could have been worse.  But the Marlins hitters helped a lot by getting themselves out.  Oswalt’s control was not great and his pitches were all over the place.  Oddly enough, against this Marlins team, it seemed to work.

Oswalt’s inconsistent play is starting to raise some questions about whether or not he should pitch in the post-season.  With experience and a solid history on his side, the Phillies won’t yet count him out.  Hopefully, his next few starts will really show what he has left in the tank.

In the meantime, the Phillies offense helped Oswalt out with some runs in this game.  Shane Victorino started it off with a triple and Placido Polanco hit a sac fly to score him.  Most of the additional damage was done later by John Mayberry Jr. who also had a sac fly, plus a 2-run homer in the game.

Mayberry’s sudden emergence since his trip back to Triple-A in June has been amazing to watch.  He fixed his batting stance, worked on his defense and is now clicking on all cylinders.  There are no more Phillies fans complaining about the team not resigning Jayson Werth in the off-season.  Adding Hunter Pence has been a big boost as well.

Speaking of Werth, if you compare his numbers to Mayberry’s this year, the results are night and day.  Their home run and RBI numbers are very close, however, Werth has had more than twice the number of at-bats that Mayberry has gotten.  Werth has 269 more at-bats, to be precise.  That is a whole lot of production from Mayberry in a very short time.  Mayberry is simply “werth” more than Werth.

With the three RBI from Mayberry tonight and some bullpen help, the Phillies took a 5-3 lead into the 8th inning.  Antonio Bastardo, who seems to be untouchable this year, pitched another superb inning.  In fact, Bastardo is on the verge of making baseball history.  If Bastardo continues at his current pace, which had batters hitting only .112 against him coming into this game, he could wind up with the lowest BA against a reliever in all of baseball, ever.  Yes, EVER.  Wow.

As we await those results, the Phillies made another kind of history with today’s win.  Now at 42 games over the .500 mark, this is the best mark in Phillies franchise history.  No other Phillies team has ever had such a great record.  There is still a lot of baseball to go, but this team has the potential to be the greatest Phillies ballclub ever.

And as you let that sink in, remember to tune in again tomorrow night at 7:10pm.  Cole Hamels will pitch in game 2 against the Marlins.

 

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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*

Close Game Turns Into a Blow-Out in Phillies Win Over D-Backs

In their second game against the Diamondbacks, the Phillies spent seven innings embroiled in another tight pitching battle.  Cliff Lee was outstanding through seven, allowing only three hits, although one was a two-run homer.  After the home run though, the D-Backs could not get to Lee at all.

The game was tied 2-2 after a Jimmy Rollins lead-off homer and a John Mayberry Jr. RBI single.  But in the bottom of the seventh, the Phillies suddenly began smacking around the D-Backs pitching staff.

The Phils scored three runs in that half inning, with the big hit coming from third baseman Wilson Valdez.  With two men on base, Valdez hit a long, 2-run double that went all the way to the centerfield wall, giving the Phillies a two-run lead.

Valdez has not gotten much playing time lately.  Michael Martinez was on a good streak for a while and did most of the filling-in for the injured Placido Polanco at third.  So in case you have forgotten who Valdez is, here is a quick breakdown by the various types of “Wilson’s” you may know:

 

Valdez was once asked by a reporter why he did not have gloves with his name on them like the other players.  He said he did not need to get any specially made because his name was already on the glove; yes, his name is “Wilson.”

After Valdez put the team ahead, the runs kept on coming.  Rollins ended the day with two hits, two RBI and a walk.  Hunter Pence went 2-for-2 with two walks.  And Mayberry, another player who has not gotten a lot of playing time, had an outstanding day at the ballpark.  He led the team with three hits and an RBI.

Lee was pulled for a pinch hitter in the seventh so the bullpen finally got some work.  Antonio Bastardo and Ryan Madson pitched the eighth and ninth, respectively.  By the time Madson pitched, he had a 9-2 lead to work with.  The game was over quickly at that point.

Before the game today, Polanco was put on the DL with a groin strain, retroactive to August 7th.  RHP Michael Schwimer was called up to take his roster spot.  Schwimer has been amazing in Triple-A action, posting a 9-1 record with 10 saves and a 1.88 ERA.  He did not get into the game today, but with any luck, we may get a look at him soon.

Carlos Ruiz sat out today as well after getting hit with a ball in the groin yesterday.  The official report says he has a “Left Testicular Contusion.”  Ouch!  Poor Chooch…he is day to day.

Game 3 with the D-Backs is Thursday night at 7:05pm; Vance Worley and his fabulous red spectacles will be pitching.

 

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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*

43 Games to Go

After Sunday’s rain-out, the Phillies have 43-games to go in the regular season, including the make-up game on 9/20 at 1:05pm as part of a split-doubleheader.  As of today, the Phillies still lead all of baseball with 78 wins and are nine game in front of the Braves in the NL East.

With all of the injuries suffered by the Phillies this year so far, it is even more impressive that they have been this dominant.  Four starting position players, two starting pitchers and three relievers have all spent time on the DL and some of them made multiple trips.

They have also used four different closers because of the injuries and two spot / replacement starters.

 

And while Placido Polanco, the starting third baseman, is not technically on the DL right now, he has not played since August 6th due to a sports hernia.  After receiving an injection, Polanco is expected to decide by Tuesday whether or not to have surgery which could put him out nearly the rest of the regular season.

Still, the Phillies keep finding ways to win.  Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels have been terrific on the mound.  While the pitching seems to have carried the team through the first half of the year, the recent addition of Hunter Pence has jump-started the offense.  And once again late in the season, Ryan Howard is heating up.

By the way, am I the only person without a Pence jersey or tee-shirt yet?  The ballpark has been stacked with them in all varieties.

Jimmy Rollins is having his best year since the 2008 season.  And while hitting .265 is not spectacular, he is taking more pitches, drawing more walks and has been healthy all year.

And since coming off the DL with major knee issues, Chase Utley appears to be back to his old self…almost.  Shane Victorino is also having a great year despite two trips to the DL, batting .313.

But the younger role-players have also been key to the Phillies success so far.  Michael Martinez, Wilson Valdez and John Mayberry Jr. have all made big contributions filling in for injured players.  The young pitchers Antonio Bastardo, Michael Stutes and Vance Worley have been slightly overused for guys at their level of experience, but they have all responded very, very well.

The point is, this team is winning and shows no signs of slowing down.  This is a very special time to be a Phillies fan.  We could very well be witnessing something historic right now.  The season is far from over, but I like their chances.

While the team is off today, think about it.  Sit still for a moment and soak it all in.  Then, take a deep breath.  Can you smell it? 

…43 games to go.

 

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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*

Mayberry Saves the Day in Win Over Rockies

In his previous three starts, the Phillies had scored a grand total of just six runs for pitcher Cole Hamels.  Tonight against the Rockies, the story was very much the same.

Hamels gave up a 2-run homer in the second inning, but nothing at all after that.  He even worked his way out of a bases loaded, one out jam in the fifth.  Hamels did all he could to keep his team in the game.

But once again, the offense offered Hamels little help.  And they were facing a pitcher, Jhoulys Chacin, who had not won a single game in his previous seven starts.  Still, the Phillies bats made Chacin look like a Cy Young award winner.

The Phillies managed to squeak out a run in the seventh on a Raul Ibanez double that scored Hunter Pence who ran the bases very well.  Pence also struck out in the eighth inning with two men on base.  But such was the theme of the night for the offense….at least through eighth innings.

In the ninth inning, something different happened.  The Phils could not hit Chacin, but the Rockies closer Huston Street was another story.  After a Carlos Ruiz double, John Mayberry Jr. was sent into to pinch hit.  Mayberry, who has not played much lately, made up for lost time with a huge, game-tying 2-run homer.

With a 3-3 score, Antonio Bastardo held the Rockies down to send the game to extra innings for the second Phillies game in a row.  Shane Victorino capitalized on the opportunity with a solo homer in the 10th to put the Phillies ahead, 4-3.

Ryan Madson earned the save in the 10th and Mayberry walked away a hero in this one.  Just when it looked like hope was lost for the struggling Phillies offense, Mayberry put them back in the hunt for the win.

Speaking of hunters, Mr. Pence has played in 3 Phillies games and so far, they have all been wins.  He must be wondering if he died and went to baseball heaven.  To answer his question: Yes…welcome to Philly (aka: Baseball Heaven)!

Game two with the Rockies is Tuesday night at 8:40pm; Kyle Kendrick will pitch.  It will likely be Kendrick’s last start as Roy Oswalt should be back from the DL very soon after two recent rehab starts.

 

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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*

Ibanez Powers Phillies to 3-Game Sweep of Pirates

The Phillies completed a sweep of the Pirates this afternoon in 10 innings by a score of 6-5.  The newest member of the Phillies, Hunter Pence, had a hand in the 10th inning rally after a rough start where he misread a ball in the outfield.  Here is a quick look at the day for Pence:

The ball he missed came in the first inning, but pitcher Vance Worley bounced back quickly.  It was not until the fifth and sixth innings where Worley ran into trouble.

 

While it was not his best outing, Worley still went six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits.  He made one bad pitch in the sixth to Lyle Overbay who slammed a 2-run homer.

But the Phillies kept plugging away at the Pirates with a few timely hits and nice defense:

 

Jimmy Rollins went 2-for-4 with two RBI to continue his recent hot streak.  But Raul Ibanez was the one player who came up big all game long.  After a solo homer in the first inning, Ibanez hit a massive  2-run homer in the eighth when the Phillies were still trailing.  That hit tied the game and kept hope alive for the Phillies.

 

As a quick side note, it appears that I may be Raul’s good luck charm.  If you look at the chart below of this entire home stand, you will see that Ibanez hit .500 with three homers and nine RBI in games that I attended.  When I was not there, he hit only .174, no homers, 2 RBI:
 

Ok, so maybe it is just a weird coincidence.  On the other hand, Raul may want to hurry up and buy me a plane ticket to Denver ;o)

Back to the game:  After Ibanez tied things up, the Phillies had to rely on the bullpen to keep it that way.  Brad Lidge had already allowed the fifth run in the seventh, but then four other guys combined to hold down the Pirates.  The photo below shows Juan Perez, David Herndon and Lidge:

 

Ryan Madson and Antonio Bastardo also pitched one scoreless inning each.  Then in the 10th inning, Pence doubled to put the Phillies in position for the win.  All they needed was one more big hit from Ibanez who delivered with the game winning double to score Pence.

The walk-off win capped a three hit, four RBI game for Ibanez who ended the month of July on a hot streak, batting .284 with 25 RBI.

A very tough road trip is up next for the Phillies, starting in Denver against the Rockies.  They will also face the Giants in a 4-game series and the Dodgers for three games.

It all begins Monday night at 8:40pm; Cole Hamels will pitch.

And here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  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*

Pence Debuts & Howard Reaches Another Milestone in Win Over Pirates

The Phillies newest, shiny toy arrived at the ballpark today.  Right fielder Hunter Pence pumped his fists as he entered the tunnel under the stadium, looking excited to explore his new home.

The excitement is understandable; Pence just got traded from a team with 35 wins to a team with 66 wins and the best record in baseball.  The fans shared his exuberance as they cheered him during batting practice and gave Pence a standing ovation when he arrived in right field to start the game against the Pirates.  Pence waived to the fans cheerfully in appreciation.

Even his first at-bat was exciting; Pence ran out what should have been an infield hit but was called out by the umpire.  The replay showed he was clearly safe as fans watched manager Charlie Manuel argue with the ump in defense of his newest player.

It took Pence until the eighth inning to finally get a hit in the game.  Regardless, he had to be relieved with the RBI-single he finally put in the books.  Now that his first Phillies hit is on record, it should be business as usual for Pence.

As for Ryan Howard, the business was not so usual, but certainly good.  Having Pence in the five-hole behind him had to be a welcome sight.  Hitting without any real protection all year, Howard finally has a solid hitter to back him up.  Taking full advantage, Howard went just a triple short of the cycle and had three RBI on four hits.

 

Most notably, Howard’s second hit of the game, an RBI-single in the fourth inning, was his 1,000th career hit.  Congratulations to Ryan!

As for the pitching, Cliff Lee started the game hoping he could bounce back from an awful outing on Monday against the Padres.  In that game, Lee lasted only four innings after allowing five runs.

Tonight, Lee did well through seven innings where he gave up only two runs.  But Lee was left in the game too long and he ran into trouble in the eighth.  The hits kept coming for the Pirates and two more runs crossed the plate, bringing the Bucos closer to a comeback with a 6-4 score.

Reliever Antonio Bastardo was brought in with two runners on base and two outs.  In his usual form, Bastardo shut down the Pirates by striking out Pedro Alvarez to end the inning.

The run added by Pence in the eighth gave the Phillies a little more cushion with a 7-4 lead.  That was plenty for Ryan Madson who closed out the game for another Phillies victory.

Game three with the Pirates is Sunday at 1:35pm; Vance Worley will pitch.  In Worley’s last start, he pitched a complete game against the Giants.  It will be interesting to see how he responds after tossing 114 pitches in that start.

Check back Sunday night for game photos…see you there!

Roster Move Update:

Domonic Brown and Andrew Carpenter were sent to Triple-A to make room for Pence and Placido Polanco, who came off the DL today.  Brown will begin to work at left field, which is where the Phillies project he will be next season.

 

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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*

See-Saw Battle Ends in Phillies Win

This team is never dull, although sometimes, I wish they were.  The Phillies see-saw battle with the Padres today was a real tummy-turner with lots of ups and downs.

UPChase Utley smashed a 3-run homer in the first inning.  The Phillies held onto the 3-run lead through 5-innings as Kyle Kendrick looked pretty good on the mound.  But as with all good things, they must soon end…

DOWN – Kendrick lost his mojo in the 6th inning, giving up two home runs for three RBI total.  With the game tied 3-3, Michael Stutes took over on the mound for the next four outs.  Despite getting into trouble in the 7th, it looked like Stutes was about to get out of the mess when a Cameron Maybin single put the Padres ahead, 4-3.

UP – As the Phillies bats had laid dormant for five straight innings, a comeback seemed like a remote possibility.  Enter, Ryan Howard.  Given the day off to try and work on his hitting, Howard was called upon to pinch hit in the bottom of the 7th.  It took just one pitch and Howard homered to re-tie the game, 4-4.

 

The homer was followed by a pinch hit double from Ross Gload and a Jimmy Rollins walk.  Then the improbable happened again; rookie Michael Martinez hit his second career homer to add on three more runs.  Utley homered again later the same inning to make it an 8-4 Phillies lead.

DOWN –  Antonio Bastardo had his first really bad day of the year as he loaded the bases with two outs in the 8th inning.  Then things got really wild as Bastardo literally began throwing the ball anywhere but over the plate.  After two straight wild pitches, the Padres finally scored again.

In another improbable and frankly, unbelievable move, the Phillies sent David Herndon to the mound to clean up the mess.  Herndon has been less than reliable all year so this was a shocker.  Not shocking was watching Herndon walk a run home.  But he did manage to escape the inning with the Phillies still leading, 8-6.

UPRyan Madson closed the game out in the 9th where he allowed one hit, but struck out two batters for the save.  And despite allowing a run, Stutes got the win.

UP x2 – The Phillies have won four straight and go for five tomorrow with Roy Halladay on the mound.  The Braves lost today, extending the Phillies lead to five game in the NL East.

Game time on Sunday is 1:35pm; I will return with photos.

 

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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*

Come From Behind Win After Slow Start For Phillies Offense

The Cubs pitcher, Matt Garza, had a no-hitter going against the Phillies into the 5th inning tonight.  The only Phillie to get a hit through two outs in the 7th inning was Domonic Brown, who hit Garza twice with a double and a single.

In all, Garza only allowed four hits and one run, with the help of his bullpen who allowed the run to score after he was pulled.  It was yet another disgusting, impatient and painful performance from the Phils offense.

In the meantime, Cliff Lee had a rough start to the game, allowing a 2-run homer in the first.  But after the first few innings, Lee settled down and was his usual, amazing self.  But for the second straight Lee start in a row, his biggest problem was the Phillies offense.

In two starts, all Phillies players combined, except for Lee, did not score a single run while Lee was on the mound.  The only run in the last game was a home run, which Lee hit himself.

Only after Lee was pulled for a pinch hitter and Michael Stutes pitched the 7th, did the offense decide to score.  In the 8th, Jimmy Rollins and Michael Martinez singled, then Chase Utley drove them in with a double.  Utley later got thrown out at the plate and the game was left in a 2-2 tie.

This anemic offense is frustrating to watch, especially when you know the potential of the hitters who are simply not living up to expectations.   With that in mind, here is a short list of annoying things that I would rather be doing instead of watching the Phillies offense suck:

- Play the movie “The Sound of Music” over and over and over.

- Ride the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World with the demonic puppets that sing like nails going down a chalk board.

- Clean the litter box.

- Watch Jose Reyes of the Mets do the home run trot while signaling “#1″ with his finger.

- Eat peas.

- Spel thungs rong on porpuse.

That last one was painful, much like watching the Phillies offense.

Back to the game…Stutes wound up pitching both the 7th and 8th innings and kept the score tied.  But while the pitching hung in there, what would the offense do?

Lucky for me, they finally decided to stop sucking, thereby saving me from having to perform one of the annoying tasks on my list.

With two outs in the 9th, Ben Francisco and Rollins hit back-to-back singles.  And then, saving the day once again, Martinez doubled to score both runners for a 4-2 lead.  And although he was thrown out going to third, Martinez is still the hero.

Antonio Bastardo served as the closer again, as the Phillies are still taking it slow with Ryan Madson since coming off the DL.  And again, Bastardo was lights-out for his 7th save of the year.

With the win today, the Phillies have a chance to win the series now.  Game three with the Cubs is Wednesday afternoon at 2:20pm; Vance Worley will pitch.

 

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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 Win Mets Series After 8th Inning Adventure

After getting spanked by the Mets on Saturday in an 11-2 loss, the Phillies needed a win today.  Kyle Kendrick, sometimes a starter, sometimes a reliever, came through for the team and pitched very well.

Over seven innings, Kendrick allowed only one run on six hits and three walks.  He did not strike anyone out, but got ground balls when he needed to, keeping the Phillies in line for a win.

Kendrick was also one of four Phillies who had a multi-hit game today.  Kendrick’s two singles matched two hits from Brian Schneider and Raul Ibanez with Jimmy Rollins adding three hits of his own.

But the big bang came off the bat of rookie Michael Martinez who hit his first major league home run against Mets pitcher Mike Pelfry with two men on base.  He added a fourth RBI later with a sac fly, so it was a big day for Martinez.

The emergence of Martinez has been great timing for the Phillies.  They will need to lean on him a lot in the coming weeks as Placido Polanco is still having back issues and no one is sure when he will return.  The more Martinez plays, the more he hits, which may force Charlie Manuel to keep putting him out there.

The Phillies kept adding on until they had an 8-1 lead after the top of the eighth.  But in the bottom of the eighth, things got a little hairy for the Phils.

Lefty Juan Perez loaded the bases with Mets on three straight walks without recording an out.  Ryan Madson was called in to clean up the mess.  Madson got two outs, although two runs did score as he gave up a few hits and a walk.  The Phillies wound up bringing Antonio Bastardo in to get the final out and also to pitch the ninth.

Bastardo got out of a wild eighth inning, but wound up allowing a run in the ninth.  It was the first run he allowed since May 25th.  And although the lead was cut down to 8-5, Bastardo finished the game, earning the save.

The Phillies will travel to Chicago next to play three games against the Cubs.  The first is Monday night at 8:05pm with Roy Halladay pitching.

 

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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*

Philadelphia Phillies 2011 First Half Report Card

Having ended the first half of the season with a 57-34 record, the best in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies have much to look forward to in the second half.  And although many injuries and questions still loom in the background, the first half of play was very successful for this team.

What makes the first half even more remarkable is that the Phillies were able to win despite injuries and missed time from a bucket-full of All-Star caliber players including Chase Utley, Roy Oswalt, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco.

In the bullpen, the Phillies are currently on their fourth closer of the year as the first three all went on the DL.  First Brad Lidge, then Jose Contreras and finally, Ryan Madson.

The rest of the pen has been run primarily by rookies and inexperienced players over the last several month.  But these players have stepped up and are keeping hope alive.

The following  is a look at the Phillies 2011 First Half Report Card.

Starting Pitching:  A+

The Phillies ended the first half with the best ERA in baseball at 3.02, the fewest earned runs allowed with 279 plus 11 complete games and 13 shut-outs, both of which are also the most in baseball.

Both Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels have earned 11 wins each and their ERA’s are 2.45 and 2.32, respectively.  Those numbers have prompted talk of a Cy Young award for one of the two pitchers.  Cliff Lee has been outstanding as well with a 2.82 ERA and nine wins.

The starters have suffered some major injuries, including Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton, both of whom are on the DL.  But the rookie Vance Worley has filled in admirably with an occasional spot start from Kyle Kendrick.

Bullpen:   B+

The Phillies bullpen has had some real challenges this year, including a plethora of injuries.  But thanks to some very young, very solid talent, the pen has endured.

What was thought to be a major team weakness at the start of the year has turned into a strength in many ways.

Lefty Antonio Bastardo has been outstanding and probably should have earned an All-Star nod.  In 33 innings, Bastardo has allowed only three earned runs and has a microscopic ERA of 0.82.  He has also gone 5-for-5 in save attempts since the Phillies sent their first three closer to the DL.

Michael Stutes and Juan Perez have also been very nice surprises.  If Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson can come back healthy in the second half, the bullpen will only be that much stronger.

Offense:  C-

The Phillies offense for the first half ranks 20th in all of baseball and 10th in the National League with a .250 team batting average.  Statistically, this puts them below average.

But their 377 RBI moves them up the list a little, ranking 11th among all teams and 10th in on-base percentage with .323.

The first couple months were rough without Chase Utley, who is hitting .280 since his return.  But other top team hitters like Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco have missed time with injuries as well, making it difficult for manager Charlie Manuel to post any sort of consistent line-up on a regular basis.

Ryan Howard is tied for the league lead in RBI with 72, which has helped carry this weakened offense.  But with so many rookies in the line-up because of injuries, the other veteran players will need to step up in the second half.

Defense:  A-

Statistically, the Phillies have the best defense in the National League and are around fourth best in all of baseball with 45 errors and a .987 fielding percentage.  Many teams have similar numbers, but looking at the major categories, I would put them in about fourth place.

Among position players, Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard have the highest fielding percentages on the team with .996 and .995, respectively.  Howard has improved his defense greatly over the past couple of years.

This team has a very solid defense.  There were a few games this year where sloppy play brought that into question, but they are humans, not robots.  Overall, it was a very good first half for the defense.

Attendance:  A+

The Phillies ended the first half on Sunday with their 172nd consecutive home sellout.  They are also first in total attendance for all of baseball with 2,228,630 fans so far this year, according to ESPN.  The Yankees were second with 2,173,619 fans.

The Phillies keep winning, and the fans keep the party going. 

1st Half MVP:  Roy Halladay

Because their numbers are very similar, I was tempted to go with Cole Hamels on this one.  But with six complete games and the most innings pitched in the National League, I am giving the first half MVP to Roy Halladay.

This man is a beast.  In Tuesday night’s All-Star game, Brian Wilson of the Giants called Halladay a “Cyborg.”  That seems fitting.

There is nothing Halladay won’t do to help his team win.  With 11 wins, a 2.45 ERA and team-leading 138 strike-outs, Halladay is the MVP.

Most Memorable 1st Half Moment:  Tie, Wilson Valdez & Cliff Lee

This one had to be a draw, because both players provided Phillies fans with some amazing memories this year so far.

First, watching Wilson Valdez tow the rubber in the May 25th 5-4 win in 19 innings over the Reds was simply unforgettable.  The Phillies ran out of pitchers and Valdez volunteered.  He pitched one perfect inning and the Phillies won the game in the bottom of the 19th as a result of his effort.

Before this win by Valdez, the last player to start a game in the field and get the win as a pitcher was Babe Ruth in 1921.  But the best part was hearing Valdez joke after the game that he could have gone three or four more innings if needed.

And then this past Saturday, pitcher Cliff Lee provided another memorable moment.  In the third inning, after a 10-pitch at-bat and six foul balls, Lee smashed his 1st career home run off the Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson, who watched in disbelief.

Lee spent most of his career in the American League, with few chances to hit.  But Lee has remarked on many occasions that he prefers the National League because he loves to hit.  And that joy was all over his face as he rounded the bases in front of thousands of screaming fans who gave him a standing ovation.

Watching a man who truly loves the game of baseball be rewarded in a way that is rarely seen was a real treat.  Pitchers do not hit many home runs and it is even less common among pitchers of Lee’s caliber. 

That was a moment that both Lee and all of the Philadelphia fans watching will not soon forget.

 

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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*

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