Results tagged ‘ Charlie Manuel ’

No ROY, No Cy, No Surprise

As I had predicted, none of the Phillies got any of the top awards this off-season, but many came close.  The Cy Young voting was at least interesting; 3 Phillies made the top 5 in voting with Roy Halladay coming in 2nd, Cliff Lee 3rd and Cole Hamels 5th.  Not surprisingly, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw took home the award.

Kershaw was very deserving, although Halladay was a close runner-up.  But having 3 Phillies in the top 5 is also quite an impressive feat.

Another Phillies pitcher came close to taking home some hardware as well.  Vance Worley landed in 3rd place for Rookie of the Year behind two Braves, closer Craig Kimbrel and first baseman Freddie Freeman.  I thought Freeman would be the winner, but 2nd place is not too shabby.

And of course, neither is 3rd place.  Worley should be proud that on a staff with 4 ace starters, he not only held his own, he also got plenty of attention for a spectacular rookie season.

Manue and umplAlso as I predicted, Charlie Manuel was overlooked for Manager of the Year…again.  Yes, despite a Major League leading 102 wins, 5 straight division titles and a World Series, Manuel came in 4th place.  The D-Backs skipper, Kirk Gibson, took first place.

Even crazier, Joe Maddon of the Rays won for the American league, making it TWO Manager of the Year awards in 4 years.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Maddon.  He is actually from the Philly area.  And certainly, he deserves the honor.  But it does seem like a real shame that Manuel cannot get any respect in the National League like Maddon does in the AL.  Manuel beat Maddon in the 2008 World Series and has accomplished more overall.

But as is usually the case, Manuel just keeps getting shunned.

In other news, Brian Schneider will be the back-up back-stop once again in 2012.  The one-year deal is worth $800,000.  There is still no word on a deal for Jimmy Rollins.  Stay tuned…

 

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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*

Jim Thome Returns to Philadelphia

The Phillies have decided to begin the 2012 season roster update with a blast from the past.  Jim Thome, who played for the Phillies from 2003-2005, has signed a one-year deal to return to the Phils in 2012.  Stating publically on a number of occasions that Charlie Manuel is like a father to him, it is no surprise that Thome wanted to come back for what may be his final year in baseball.

A future hall of famer with 604 career home runs, Thome was already a fan favorite in Philly.  But at age 41, can he contribute to an already aging line-up?  After spending the last 5 years in the American League, Thome saw little playing time in the field and was mostly a designated hitter.

It is possible the Phillies think he can fill in at first base occasionally as Ryan Howard may not be ready for the start of the season.  But it is more likely he will be a bench player, cheerleader and veteran mentor for younger players.

Although in an odd twist of fate, it would be ironic to see Thome take over first base for Howard (if only temporarily) as Howard is the reason Thome was traded away from the Phillies after the 2005 season.  Howard was an emerging rookie at the time and the Phillies had no use for Thome once Howard was ready to go full time.

Here is a quick trip down memory lane with a few photos I shot of Thome in the 2004 season:

Jim Thome

Thome is an all around great guy and it will be wonderful to see him back in a Phillies uniform.  Perhaps the Phils can begin grooming him for a coaching position?  Just a thought.

An even better thought is that Thome could finally get that World Series ring he is lacking.  But as the 2011 season showed us, anything can happen.

 

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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*

Grieving the Phillies 2011 Season – Stage 5: Acceptance

With the final game of the 2011 World Series upon us tonight, it seems like an appropriate time to end the drama.  As Phillies fans, it has been a rough ride since our team took an early and unexpected exit from the playoffs.

But not just fans have been on the mend, so have the players.  Some were on the mend in a very literal sense.  Ryan Howard got the stitches out from his Achilles surgery.  Hunter Pence, Cole Hamels and Placido Polanco are all rehabbing from hernia surgery.  Hamels had elbow surgery as well.

It is simply time to move on from all these aches and pains and accept the fact that the season is over.  I found something today that made me smile and even feel a little better.  This is a poem written by manager Charlie Manuel back in 2000 when he was with the Indians.  It was originally published on the Indians web site and can now be found in the online Baseball Almanac.

My Most Memorable Day

by Charlie Manuel

“It was a warm day in August when history was made,
And the fans in the boxes were looking for shade.
The bases were loaded, it was the last inning.
From the sound of the crowd, you knew we weren’t winning.

When out of the dugout came No. 3,
The last hope for the Twins it was sure to be.
Now legend tells of Casey at the bat,
But today it was the Killer who tipped his hat.

Cursing and swearing came from the stands,
When Harmon was waved back by Rigney’s hand.
An astonishing look came over the Brew’s face,
When Rigney said, ‘Manuel is taking your place.’

A disbelieving look as he turned around,
Placed his bat in the rack without a sound.
Then from the bench came No. 9,
Who’d been warming the pine for a long, long time.

As he stepped from the dugout came a yell from the stands,
‘You can’t hit Manuel, the Killer’s our man.’
Never before in history had they pinch hit for the Brew,
Especially with some hillbilly hitting .182.

This was a mockery, a dirty rotten shame,
To pinch hit for a man who’s a sure Hall of Fame.
But Charlie heard not a word as he strode to the plate.
He only noticed the crowd’s eyes; they were filled with hate.

‘God, help me this one time,’ kept going through his mind.
‘If I ever get a hit, let it be this time.’
Jim Palmer looked in and thought, ‘This should be a cinch,
I’ll throw three by this rider of the bench.’

Down came the ball with a little white glare,
As Manuel stood watching for he knew it was there.
‘Strike one,’ came the call from the man in blue,
And four pitches later it was 3 and 2.

Now everything rode on the very last pitch.
Would Charlie stay a poor boy or would he suddenly be rich?
The crack of the bat and a long drive to right,
The back of Blair’s uniform is the only thing in sight.

The roar from the stands gave a deafening scream…
Then Charlie fell out of bed, it was only a dream.”

Charlie….you gotta love him. :O)

 

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

Grieving the Phillies 2011 Season – Stage 3: Bargaining

Stage 3 of my mourning the 2011 Phillies season has reached the bargaining stage.  The only problem is that the season is already gone, leaving nothing but “why’s,” “what if’s” and “if only’s.”

For instance,

  • What if…the Phillies had just let the Braves win the last two games of the season, thereby eliminating the Cardinals from the Wild Card?
  • What if…Cliff Lee did not blow a 4 run lead in NLDS game 2?
  • If only…I had a magic wand to make it all better.
  • What if…the Phillies offense actually showed up?
  • If only…I had a time machine (*sigh*).
  • If only…this team had stayed healthy.
  • What if…Charlie Manuel had a clue about when to pull his starters?
  • If only…wishing made it so :O(

Are there any deals left to be made?  Can I bargain with the devil to rewind this horrendous end to the season?  Ok, maybe not the devil.  But how about the angry, rabid and totally evil Busch Stadium Squirrel?  Clearly, this rodent has super powers that helped propel the Cards to the World Series.

Evil squirrel

The World Freakin’ Series?  The Cardinals?  A team that had literally no shot at a playoff run just weeks before the postseason?  If they win it all, they should dedicate the trophy to the Phillies, who beat the Braves, putting them in playoffs.  And the Phils then laid down and let the Cards walk all over them in the NLDS.

Not that the Cards did not earn it…they certainly did.  But the Phillies barely put up a fight, which still makes me want to travel back in time, violently shake each Phils player and scream until they WAKE UP!

Someone please wake me up…I must still be dreaming.  And oh, what a nightmare this has been.

Stay tuned for Stage 4…

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

Grieving the Phillies 2011 Season – Stage 2: Anger

I can no longer deny that the season is OVER for the Phillies.  And over in the most awful way possible.  So  now, I am pissed.

Anger managementSeriously, WTF were these players thinking when they proceeded to swing at bad pitches and watch good ones fly past?  You know the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?”  Well, isn’t the opposite true as well?  WHY, in the name of all that is unholy, did the Phillies offense stay the course with what was NOT working and skip any attempt to FIX the problem?

There were a variety of ridiculous press conferences this week where players, manager Charlie Manuel and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. all admitted that something has to change.  They talked about players having a “better approach” at the plate and more “patience” and “discipline.”

If you ask me, this is one of the most undisciplined Phillies teams in recent memory.  Manuel’s nice guy approach is refreshing, but when things are going bad, it is also counterproductive.  Sometimes, players need a kick in the rear.  Sometimes, actual coaching is required.  And most times, discipline is a very, very good thing.

Manuel says he is a good ” hitting coach.”  But his “coaching” seems to come across to many experienced players as “suggestions” rather than  correction or direction.  But are some of these players too damn old and set in their ways to be coached?  If they are, MOVE ON.

Because what exactly is going to change next year?  Ryan Howard is still going to swing at a ball in the dirt on a 3-0 count no matter what you tell him.  That is who he is.  I am not saying dump Howard (which frankly, would be impossible now) or anyone else, but DO let these guys know they need to do as they are told or bench them!

I do not care how much money they are making.  If they cannot follow directions, teach them that there ARE consequences.  If I suck at my job, I will get fired.  If I do not follow directions or at least TRY things my boss tells me to, I am in BIG trouble.  And my paycheck is crap…these guys are making millions and still do not feel like they need to listen to their boss?  WTF!

If Manuel tells a guy to move closer to the plate, he needs to let the player know this is an ORDER, not a suggestion!  If it doesn’t work, fine, he tried.

Lee yellingabThis is probably the most disgusted I have ever been with a Phillies team in 30 years.  Even all those years when they were losing consistently, it was easier to take because they did not have a lot of talent.  This 2011 team was loaded with talent and they just plain blew it!

This season was a huge waste of time, money and superior pitching.  Heck, even the great pitching sucked in 2 out of 5 games in the NLDS.  And I love Cliff Lee, but if he was in front of right this second, I might bash him repeatedly over the head with a soft, fluffy pillow.  I saw pillow because I prefer to express my anger and disappointment without actually causing injury ;o)

For Roy Oswalt, my plan is to drop to the ground at his feet, cry hysterically and shout, “You ruined my life!  HOW could you do that?  What kind of a cruel person are you! Waaaaaaaaa!”  While none of that is really accurate, it would brighten my mood to make him feel bad for a few seconds ;o)

Ok, so I know they all feel terrible as it is, so all of that is really unnecessary, but damn, I am pissed!  Aren’t you?

And that concludes my angry and slightly insane rant during my extended period of mourning.  Stay tuned for Stage 3…

 

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 Lee 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*

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*

Phillies Lose After Playing Under Protest

Well, there went five hours of my life I wish to forget.  The Phillies said goodbye to SunLife Stadium in Miami today with a gut-wrenching 14-inning 5-4 loss to the Marlins, played under protest from the Phillies.  It was another wasted Roy Halladay start.

The big controversy began when umpire Joe West decided to make up the rules as he went along.  In the 6th inning, Hunter Pence hit a double that should have left the Phillies with two men on base and no outs.  Instead, West decided to use instant replay on a ball that he himself ruled a double.  Replay, according to the baseball rules, is only to be used on potential home runs.

West came back after 13 minutes of “reviewing” and ruled Pence out due to fan interference.  While those idiot fans did attempt to interfere, the play should not have been reviewable in the first place.  The other problem is that West assumed the ball would have been caught had the fans not intruded.  But on the video replay, it is far from a sure thing that outfielder Bryan Petersen would have caught it.  In fact, his glove was already closed by the time the ball reached him.

The Phillies then announced a formal protest of the game and manager Charlie Manuel was ejected for arguing.  After the game, Manuel stated the same point, that the ball would not have been caught (per Ryan Lawrence, DelCo Times).  West claims Manuel asked for a replay; Manuel sternly denies this.

So now it is a game of he said (Manuel), she said (West, running from the press afterwards ;o).  If MLB determines that a rule was broken by West, the game could be restarted with the Pence double at a later date.  But seriously, odds of that happening are like ZERO.  MLB has refused to hold umpires accountable for anything and I do not see that changing now, sad as that may be.

The rally was killed after that call, but the Phillies did score two runs on a Ryan Howard single in the 7th to take the lead.  That lead was promptly erased as rookie Michael Schwimer got tossed into the fire at the bottom of the 7th.  I feel sorry for Schwimer; this was not a situation where a rookie should have been sent in to hold a slim 4-3 lead after all the drama of the previous inning.  The pressure had to be immense and Schwimer wound up giving up the tying run.

What happened next is what the Phillies should really be ashamed of.  They played seven straight innings of scoreless baseball, dragging the game through 14 innings.  As a team, the Phillies left 11 men on base, went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position and totaled only 10 hits in 14 innings.

Worse than that, the bullpen kept them in the game and the offense did nothing to support them.  The biggest victim was David Herndon, who imploded on Saturday night and handed the game to the Marlins.  But tonight, he pitched almost four full innings with an amazing effort.  He worked in and out of jams and kept pitching tough even as he tired.  Herndon escaped bases loaded jams twice, five intentional walks and a badly fielded ball at third that would have shortened his outing.

 

Still, Herndon persisted and redeemed himself from Saturday’s disaster.  That his offense could not score him one single run during all that was ridiculous.  Chase Utley went 0-for-7; Pence ended 0-for-6, although he was robbed of a double; Shane Victorino had only one hit and a walk in six at-bats.  And most of that was against the Marlins sub-par bullpen.  Yuck :O(

The game ended with another bases loaded jam for Herndon who walked the winning run in just as his arm was about to fall off.  And that happened after some questionable calls from the home plate ump who seemed to decided that 14 innings were enough for him.

While all that really sucked…a lot…tomorrow is a new day and the Braves are coming to town.  These next three days are the time for the Phillies to drop the hammer on the NL East.  So perhaps the offense tonight was saving up the hits for the Braves?  Hope so….game 1 begins at 7:05pm Monday night!

 

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Herndon Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography, West photo by MLB.com

*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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