Results tagged ‘ Cardinals ’

Big Ben Unlikely Hero In Game 3 Win

With the NLDS series tied 1-1 between the Phillies and the Cardinals, Game 3 was going to be big for the winner.  The Phillies had not been able to hit Cards starter Jaime Garcia in previous meetings, so for the Phillies, this was not an easy task.

Equally intimidating, Cole Hamels pitched for the Phillies.  Over 6 innings, he did not allow a single run.  But multiple base runners and deep counts ran Hamels out of the game earlier than the Phillies would have liked.

Big Ben Francisco There was no score by the time Hamels was out of the game, but an unlikely hero emerged in the top of the 7th inning to keep Hamels in-line for the win.  Shane Victorino singled to start the inning and later, Carlos Ruiz was intentionally walked to bring up Big Ben Francisco.

Outfielder Francisco  was a relative non-factor most of the year after the emergence of John Mayberry Jr. and the acquisition of Hunter Pence.  He hit only 6 homers the entire regular season and saw limited at-bats.

But on the one night the Phillies really needed a hero, Big Ben stepped up with a 3-run blast in the 7th.  Even better, the bomb came off a pitch from Garcia who suddenly lost some of his command in that inning.  Finally, the Phillies hit Garcia and took a 3-0 lead.

The Phillies bullpen made the final 3 inning a real adventure though.  Vance Worley gave up a run in the 7th.  Then he and Brad Lidge combined to load the bases in the 8th.  But Ryan Madson, brought into the game earlier than usual, coaxed a double play ball to end the threat.  Madson did give up a run later in the 9th, but still earned the save.

This was a huge win for the Phillies who now need only one more win to erase the Cards and advance to the NLCSRoy Oswalt will pitch tomorrow night; game time is 6:00pm.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Clip Cardinals’ Wings in Game 1

Game 1 of the Phillies – Cardinals NLDS looked like a party before the game began:

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Then after scoring 3 runs off Phillies ace Roy Halladay in the first inning, the Cardinals were given false hopes of possibly winning the game.  After all, Halladay does not usually implode in this fashion, so those 3 runs looked like a killer blow.

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The fans were very quiet after that, especially when the Phillies offense got themselves out, making Kyle Lohse toss only 6 pitches in each of the first two innings.  The mood was so depressing, it felt like a funeral.

But in the bottom of the 4th, the Phillies offense showed signs of life, with a little help from a Cards error.  Chase Utley doubled, Ryan Howard walked and then Shane Victorino hit what should have been an easy pop-up.  But David Freese dropped the ball, giving Victorino a second chance.  He took advantage with an RBI-single for the Phillies first run of the game.

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By the 6th inning, the Phillies had finally figured out Lohse.  After Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence singles, Howard delivered a huge blow with a 3-run bomb, giving the Phils a 4-3 lead.  Raul Ibanez added on with a 2-run shot later in the inning.

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As the Phillies added on, Halladay found his groove.  He did not allow a single hit to the Cards after the 2nd inning.  Halladay went eight innings, allowing only the 3 runs in the 1st.  This guy is amazing.

With an 11-3 lead, the Phillies decided to save Halladay’s arm for another day and gave the 9th inning to Michael Stutes.  It seemed like a good situation to baptize the rookie into his 1st postseason appearance.  However, it did not work out too well for Stutes.

Stutes wound up getting charged with 3 runs in 1/3 of an inning and closer Ryan Madson had to be brought in to clean up the mess.  So the final score was 11-6.  Worse for Stutes, this huge blunder has pretty much rendered him useless for the rest of the series.

So on to Game 2 Sunday night at 8:37pm.  The good mood of the Phillies players Phillies and coaches yesterday is sure to carry over:

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Here is the full Photo Album from Game 1…enjoy!

Go Phillies!

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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 Make History With 102 Wins

The Phillies ended the 2011 regular season with 102 wins after a 13 inning  4-3 victory over the Braves.  The 3-game sweep knocked the Braves out of the playoffs and also set a new record for the Phillies.  The franchise mark of 101 wins in a season has been surpassed, making this 2011 team statistically the best in Phillies history.

It also made Charlie Manuel the best manager in Phillies history.  His 646th win with the team surpassed the previous record of 656 held by Gene Mauch.

And as usual, the Phillies fought for their manager until the very end.  The game lasted 4 1/2 hours and 13 innings with 17 total pitchers used between the two teams.  The pitching was very good all around for both and hits were hard to come by; 11 for the Phils and 10 for the Braves.

In the 13th, Hunter Pence finally broke up the stalemate, knocking in the winning run with an RBI-single.  He had two hits in the game, as did Chase Utley, Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard.

By beating the Braves, the Phillies basically chose their own opponent.  The win handed the Wild Card spot to the Cardinals.  The Phillies struggled against the Cards in the regular season, winning only 3 games out of 9.  But coming off the momentum of this 3-game sweep and making Phillies history, the team should be ready to face the Cards again.

In the American League, the Red Sox are out, having lost what was previously and 8.5 game lead in the Wild Card race.  As they crashed and burned against the lowly Orioles again, the Tampa Bay Rays climbed out of a 7-0 hole to beat the Yankees and take the Wild Card spot.

So here is how the NLDS and ALDS line-up:

  • Phillies vs. Cardinals
  • Brewers vs. Diamondbacks
  • Yankees vs. Tigers
  • Rangers vs. Rays

The first game for the Phillies is this Saturday; no time has been announced yet.

 

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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*

100 Wins

For only the 3rd time in franchise history, the Phillies have reached 100 wins for the season.  They beat the Braves by a score of 4-2 on Monday night and Cliff Lee earned the win.

The Phillies strung together 10 hits against a Braves team desperate to make the playoffs.  They are still one game ahead of the Cardinals in the Wild Card race.  But the Phillies could spoil all the fun.  While the Phils have already won the division, there is still the franchise record of 101 wins out there to tie or beat.

So the Phillies are not going to, nor should they, go easy on the Braves.  Raul Ibanez stepped up last night with 2 big RBI’s and several regulars had multi-hit games.  And four players out of the bullpen also stepped up and held onto the lead.  Game 2 is Tuesday night at 7:10pm.

Before the game, the Phillies went about their annual rookie hazing, dressing the young guys up in ridiculous outfits:

The back row is Trainer Ichiro Kitano, Erik Kratz, Joe Savery, Vance Worley, Michael Schwimer and Domonic Brown.   The front row is Justin DeFratus, Michael Martinez and Michael Stutes.

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*

Home Field Clinched Despite Another Loss

Even though they lost 4-3 to the Cardinals on Monday night, the Phillies still managed to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs thanks to the Braves losing to the Cubs.  This team is so good, it seems they can literally do nothing and succeed.

However, this series with the Cardinals also showed that the Phillies have some work to do on offense.  They clinched the NL East title against the Cards, but lost the other three games.  On Monday night, Roy Halladay did not have his best stuff and the Phillies bats did nothing to help him out.

Halladay wound up spotting the Cards two runs in the first inning as his pitch location was off.  He gave up two more runs for four total over eight innings.  Halladay also walked four batters, which is unusual for the potential Cy-Young candidate.

While it was not Roy’s day, it was not a good day for the bats either.  The Phillies only run through eight innings was basically handed to them after a Cardinals error.  They left the bases loaded with less than two outs…again.  In total, 10 men were left on base.

The Phillies attempted a rally in the 9th inning, which was nice to see, but they still fell short.  A double from Carlos Ruiz followed by a triple from Jimmy Rollins led to two more runs.  The triple was the 100th of Rollins’ career. 

But the rally ended after Hunter Pence grounded out with Chase Utley on first.  The fact that the team did not give up until the final out was refreshing, but there are still some lingering questions about this offense being unable to score with runners on base.

Ryan Howard is out of the line-up, probably for most of the week after getting a cortisone shot in his ankle.  Shutting him down now instead of in the playoffs is wise.  Hopefully, he come back rested and feeling better after dealing with bursitis in his foot and ankle all year.

Howard’s return should be a boost for the offense, but the Phillies really have nothing left to play for.  The division is wrapped up, home field is wrapped up and they have 10 games to go.  However, it would be nice to see them win 100 games and even better if they can break the franchise record of 101 wins in a season, set in 1976 & 1977.

The Phillies could reach 100 games today with wins over the Nationals in the doubleheader.  Game 1 begins at 1:05pm.

Happy Hangover Hampers Hamels & Phils

After Saturday night’s NL East title celebration, both the Phillies and the fans came out a little sluggish on Sunday against the Cardinals.  The crowd was quiet and so were the Phillies bats.  After the late night champagne shower, everyone looked a little hung over.

A few bad pitches from Cole Hamels put the Phillies into an early 2-0 hole when Albert Pujols smacked a 2-run homer in the first inning.  Hamels seemed to bounce back quickly after that, but the offense did nothing to help him.  Then in the sixth inning, Hamels gave up another 2-run homer.

With only eight hits in the game, all of them singles, the Phillies did not have too many opportunities to score.  But the few times they did have runners on base, they hit into double plays.  Hunter Pence, Raul Ibanez and Ross Gload all hit into double plays, ending any possible offensive threat.

Three of the Phillies’ eight hits came off the bat of Chase Utley, which was one positive in the game.  Utley has struggled to find his swing again since getting hit in the head with a pitch.  That sort of shot would scramble anyone’s brain.  But it appears that Utley has found all his marbles and got his timing back at the plate.
 

Down 4-0, the Cardinals padded their lead in the eighth with a solo shot off pitcher Joe Blanton.  It was Blanton’s second appearance since coming off the DL and one he is sure to want to forget.

On the other hand, Justin DeFratus made his major league debut which was almost spoiled by Lance Berkman.  DeFratus’ first pitch was destroyed by Berkman, but the ball landed in Shane Victorino’s glove inches from the center field fence.  DeFratus managed to escape the inning without allowing a hit.

Slightly more exciting than the actual game was batting practice, where I spotted all of the newest members of the Phillies:

And even more exciting than that was the community mural painting which I participated in.  The new Phillies Mural will be eight stories high, facing the Schuylkill River.  It should be done by next summer.  In the meantime, the Phillies are allowing fans to help paint with large chunks of the mural drawn out in pencil like a paint-by-number.  Here I am painting part of the Phanatic:

Game 4 with the Cardinals starts tonight at 7:05pm.  And here is the full Photo Album from the game, including pre-game ceremonies.

 

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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*

Phillies Clinch 5th Straight NL East Title

For the 5th straight year, the Phillies are National League East Champs!  A 9-2 win over the Cardinals sealed the division.

The winning pitcher was Roy Oswalt who did not allow a single run through seven innings.  Oswalt seems to finally have his mojo back after suffering a good part of the year with back issues.  But tonight, he was spot-on.

The celebration began a little bit early in the eighth inning.  Going into the eighth, the Phillies were in a tight 3-2 game.  But Raul Ibanez rode in like a knight on a white horse, blowing the game wide open when he smashed a grand slam.  The crowd exploded and the party carried right through to the end of the game.

Although it was not a save situation, Ryan Madson was given the 9th inning, which was fitting.  After going through four closers this year due to injuries, Madson has established himself as the go-to guy.  He deserved to be on the mound to close out the game.

Chase Utley made the final play with a little bit of flash as he barehanded a hopping grounder and tossed to first.  For a guy who is normally all grit and no glitter, it was fun to see him add a bit of style to the final out.

To kick off the champagne celebration, the Phillies gathered around Hunter Pence.  He looked like he was the monkey in the middle as the team started popping the corks, dousing Pence in the process.

 

Clinching the title early means more rest for guys who have been nursing injuries like Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco.  But there are still games to be played and home field advantage up for grabs.  Look for the Phillies to keep trying to win games, starting tomorrow night at 8:05pm.  Cole Hamels will pitch.

I will return with photos.  See you there!

 

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Head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Extra-Inning Bummer as Phillies Wait to Clinch

Against the Cardinals, Phillies rookie pitcher Vance Worley had another adventurous, yet effective, outing.  Through 6 innings, the Vanimal allowed one run on six hits and three walks.  The run was issued on a bases loaded walk.  Worley seems to have a knack for allowing base runners which elevates his pitch count.  He gets out of the jams, but cannot go deep into games as a result.

But Worley limited the damage, giving the Phillies a chance.  The offense however, took that chance and sat on it.  This turned out to be the 8th straight game where the Phillies scored three runs or less.

Once again, one of the few Phillies in the line-up able to hit was John Mayberry Jr. who went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI.  In the field, Mayberry was not so sharp, bobbling or missing three balls at first base.  He was charged with one official error, although none of the goofs really hurt the team.

What actually hurt the team was the lack of hitting, which also resulted in extra innings.  The first four hitters in the line-up combined to go 0-for-18 through 11 innings.  As a team, the Phillies tallied only seven hits, left the bases loaded with one out and left eight men on base.

Losing 2-1, the Phillies tied the game up in the 9th.  After a Ryan Howard pinch-hit double, Carlos Ruiz sent a fly ball to right, which was dropped by the fielder.  But then in the 11th, the 2-2 tie was broken after rookie pitcher Michael Schwimer allowed two runs, giving the Cards a 4-2 lead.  So yesterday Schwimer got his first major league win and today, his first loss.  His ERA has ballooned to 4.82.
 

In the bottom of the 11th, the Phillies got a single from Placido Polanco, but did nothing else.  John Bowker, who is now 0-7 as a Phillie, made the final out for the 4-2 loss.

The offense, which was cooking earlier this month, has suddenly stalled.  The good news is that the Mets are currently spanking the Braves by a score of 11-2 in the 8th inning.  If that score holds, the Phillies need only one game to clinch the NL East.

Division Magic # – 2 games (at time of posting)

Home Field Advantage Magic # – 4  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*

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