Results tagged ‘ Matt Stairs ’

NLCS Roster Decisions

Nothing has been made officially yet, but expect a similar roster for the NLCS against the Dodgers as the Phillies had in the NLDS.  It looks likely that Cole Hamels will pitch game one since he is on full rest.  Plus, with the birth of his son and some time home with the wife and child, he should now be ready to focus on baseball.  Hamels has done exceptionally well against the Dodgers.  He threw a shut-out against them this past June and also beat them twice in last year’s NLCS.

Cliff Lee will remain a starter as well with JA Happ, Pedro Martinez and Joe Blanton being juggled around again from the pen to the starters spot.  The bullpen however may see a change with Chan Ho Park returning from injury.  He is travelling to LA with the team, so he may be in position to take a roster spot away from Kyle Kendrick.

The bullpen is still making many people very nervous.  Brad Lidge did save 2 games, but still does not look super sharp.  Ryan Madson, the other potential closer, blew 2 saves in the series in the 8th inning.  And Brett Myers, who has done the job before, played only 2/3 of an inning and walked 2 batters.  This is a huge weak spot, especially when compared to the Dodgers bullpen which is much better.   

As for the bench players, this will probably stay the same; Greg Dobbs, Matt Stairs, Ben Francisco and Miguel Cairo.  However, with 8 at-bats between these 4 in the NLDS, there was not a hit among them.  Stairs did walk once in a critical situation, but Cairo and Dobbs both went 0 for 3.  Could this open the door for Eric Bruntlett to step in for Cairo?  Probably not, but the bench players are still a concern.

Then again, when you have the big guns like Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth to bail the team out when they run into trouble, you have to like the Phillies chances.   So, here is the schedule:

Gm 1

PHI @ LAD

Thu

Oct. 15

8:07 PM

Gm 2

PHI @ LAD

Fri

Oct. 16

4:07 PM

Gm 3

LAD @ PHI

Sun

Oct. 18

8:07 PM

Gm 4

LAD @ PHI

Mon

Oct. 19

8:07 PM

Gm 5*

LAD @ PHI

Wed

Oct. 21

8:07 PM

Gm 6*

PHI @ LAD

Fri

Oct. 23

8:07 PM

Gm 7*

PHI @ LAD

Sat

Oct. 24

8:07 PM

 

And just for fun, let me introduce to you our newest family member and Phillies fan, Chase Utley Kitten.  He is a Blue Point Ragdoll:Chase kitten.jpg

Yes, I named him Chase Utley….I fully expect him to pick up a ball and glove by 3 years.  At 2 ½ months, we will have to settle for the jersey.

Go Phillies!

NLDS Roster Announced


Thumbnail image for 208910.jpgThe Phillies announced their playoff roster today and there were a few surprises.  Here is how it played out (courtesy of Phillies.com):

Catchers (2): Paul Bako and Carlos Ruiz

Infielders (6): Miguel Cairo, Greg Dobbs, Pedro Feliz, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley

Outfielders (5): Ben Francisco, Raul Ibanez, Matt Stairs, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth

Pitchers (12): left-handers Antonio Bastardo, Scott Eyre, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ and Cliff Lee and right-handers Joe Blanton, Chad Durbin, Kyle Kendrick, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Pedro Martinez and Brett Myers

Miguel Cairo was the right decision over Eric Bruntlett.  And the rest of the bench players are what I expected.

There was one surprise with the pitchers, however.  Clay Condrey and Tyler Walker were left off the roster in favor of Kyle Kendrick and Antonio Bastardo.  I did say earlier that Bastardo may be picked over Walker, so that is not too shocking considering the lack of lefties in the pen.  But Kendrick over Condrey, I am a bit surprised about.  Kendrick did pitch well in September, but Condrey is more consistent and has a lot more experience.  I think the nagging back injury did him in; the team must not be convinced that Condrey is healthy.

I also predicted that the Game 1 starter would be Cliff Lee, and that is correct.  Cole Hamels will get Game 2 and Game 3 has yet to be decided.  My feeling is that it should be JA Happ as the Phils want to overload the Rockies with lefties.  But all Charlie Manuel would say is that Happ, Joe Blanton and even Pedro Martinez will be “available” in the pen for the first two games.  I suppose then whoever does not get used will start Game 3.

This may also be a strategic move.  This gives less preparation time to the Rockies since they will not know who to prepare for.

So, if you are actually home tomorrow at game time, tune in at 2:37pm for the first pitch.  The game time still disgusts me.  I understand all teams need air time, but how exactly is it that the reigning World Champions do not get one of the prime time slots?  I’ll tell you why…because MLB cares only about the Yankees and the Red Sox.  It has been and probably will always be about these teams, whether deserving or not.  I root for the Yankees too, so it is not personal.  It is a matter of respect.

Not to mention, normal people have jobs, kids have school and 2:37pm does not allow ANY of these people to enjoy the game, unless they call out sick or skip school.   And how about the poor Rockies fans?  The game time for them is 12:37pm! (Mountain time)  That is just wrong.  But hey, if you are a Yankees or Sox fan, I’ll bet you are happier than a pig in mud, right?  Must be nice. 

Well, best of luck to everyone tomorrow (except the Rockies, of course)!  Go Phillies!

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

Roster Ramblings

The post-season roster has not been set for the Phillies; they have until 10am tomorrow to make the final decision.  The central core is not in question, with 6 current and former All-Stars in starting roles.  roster.gifHowever, the pitching rotation, bullpen and bench players are going to be tough decisions.

 

Manager Charlie Manuel seems to favor Eric Bruntlett on the bench because he runs well and can play almost every position in the field.  However, Bruntlett has not hit well and ended the year with 18 hits in 105 at-bats for a .171 average.  Miguel Cairo has performed much better and can play most of the infield spots; he ended the season batting .267 and went 7 for his last 19 including a triple and a home run in the final game.

 

While Cairo should get the nod over Bruntlett, it may not happen that way.  Bruntlett was with the team last year and Manuel tends to favor guys he is most familiar with.  Both could make the team, but only if they sacrifice a bullpen spot.  Ben Francisco, Greg Dobbs and Matt Stairs should all be locks for the roster, despite the facts that Dobbs has been playing hurt and Stairs batted only .194 this year with 5 homers in 103 at-bats.

 

The pitching is even more complicated.  Most likely Cliff Lee will start game 1 as Cole Hamels would only have 3 days rest.  However, Lee has been mostly awful in his last 7 starts, allowing 27 runs in 39 2/3 innings.  That is an ERA of about 6.13.  Not good.  The Phillies hope he will turn things around for his first post-season appearance.

 

Hamels was equally inconsistent, ending the season with a record of 10-11 and a 4.32 ERA.  Pedro Martinez has been dealing with a sore neck, so his ability to pitch deep into a game effectively is in serious question.  Joe Blanton and JA Happ have been the only two good, consistent arms in the rotation all year and now Happ may get bumped to the bullpen due to a lack of lefties.  That would be a real shame though, because Happ has the best record of the starting staff with 12 wins, 4 losses and an ERA of 2.93.  Honestly, I think they need to keep Happ as a starter and take their chances with the lefty situation in the pen.  Happ is more valuable for 6-7 innings than he would be for only a few batters.

 

That brings us to the pen, which is basically a mess.  Every regular bullpen pitcher has suffered at least one injury this year, except Ryan Madson.  Right now, JC Romero, Jamie Moyer and Chan Ho Park are still hurt and will not play in the NLDS; Moyer is done for the year.  That leaves Scott Eyre as the only experienced lefty, and he is pitching through a sore elbow.  Chad Durbin, Clay Condrey, Brad Lidge and Madson are on the roster for sure.  That leaves Tyler Walker, Kyle Kendrick, Brett Myers and the 2 rookies, Sergio Escalona and Antonio Bastardo to fill the remaining spots.

 

Escalona and Bastardo are both lefties but lack experience and have exhibited a lack of pitching control at times as well.  It would be tough to add one of them to the roster, even though lefties are needed.  Kendrick spent most of the year in the minors, but pitched fairly well for the big club in September until his last outing where he gave up 3 runs.  And Myers has suffered two injuries which kept him out almost the whole year and he still does not look quite right.  That leaves Tyler Walker whose 3.06 ERA is 3rd best in the pen, behind Eyre and Condrey.

 

But with all the injuries, the Phillies options are limited.  My best guess is this: Madson, Lidge, Condrey, Eyre, Durbin, Walker and Myers with Pedro Martinez added to the list instead of Happ.  That makes 12 pitchers total, including the 4 starters: Happ, Lee, Hamels and Blanton.  Although, if one lefty in the pen looks problematic, they may keep Bastardo instead of Walker.  Of course, I may be totally off.  We shall see.

9th Inning Rally Falls Short

Going into the 9th inning last night against the Nationals down 2-8, it looked like a sure loss for the Phillies.  Joe Blanton had his worst game of the year, giving up all 8 of those runs in only 4 2/3 innings.  But with one out in the 9th, Jayson Werth hit a slow grounder and drew a Nationals error to land him safely on 1st base. P4057765 Stairs.jpg After that, the Phillies loaded the bases for Matt Stairs.

Stairs had not had a hit in what seems like ages (30 at-bats) but finally came up big with a Grand Slam to put the team within 2 runs.  Shane Victorino knocked in another run a few batters later to bring the score to 7-8.  Then, with runners on 1st and 3rd and still only 1 out, Ryan Howard came up to the plate.  Who better to hit a sac fly to tie the game, right?  Wrong.  Two things happened here: Chase Utley fell asleep on 1st and did not advance to 2nd on a wild pitch when the Nationals were only concerned with Victorino on third.  Utley would have made it without challenge.  Then, Howard hits a slow grounder which turns into a double play to end the game!  Had Utley advanced, the game would have been tied.

So what was going to be a blow-out loss for the Phillies turns into a heartbreaker at the last minute.  Add to that both the Marlins and Braves won last night and now the Phillies are only 5 games ahead in the division.  A few weeks ago, they had an 8 ½ game lead which they are now letting slip away.

After the game, Charlie Manuel said his team is “playing down” to the competition.  The Phillies are getting beat by mediocre (Astros) and very, very bad teams (Nationals – worst team in baseball).  If they do not hit their stride in the Mets series this weekend, it is going to be a very uncomfortable run at the post-season.

Cole Hamels pitches tonight at 7:05pm.  Cross your fingers folks!

Photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Happ Pitches Well But Offense Leaves Him Hanging

The game began with a Pirates lead-off home run off the rookie, JA Happ.  But after that, Happ did not budge and sent the Bucos away each inning frustrated. 

P4190940 Happ2.jpg
Happ went 8 innings, gave up 3 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks.  Happ had a 2-1 lead until the 8th inning when he surrendered the big blow; a 2-run shot by Garrett Jones to give the Bucos a 3-2 lead.  Still a great outing by Happ, but with no offense to back him up, the result was not ideal.

Well, no offense except Jimmy Rollins and Paul Bako.  Rollins looked like the energizer bunny all night long as the ball jumped off his bat and his defense was stunning.  But his effort of 3 for 5 on the night was the only real offense in the game.  Ryan Howard collected an RBI on a force out in the 1st inning with the bases loaded. The following inning, back-up catcher Paul Bako hit a rare home run as fans did a double take at their TV sets…Bako who?  The surprise homer from Bako seemed to lull the Phillies into a deep trance from which they did not wake up.  In fact, neither team scored again until that killer home run by the Pirates in the 8th.

The Phillies offense this entire 3-game series was pathetic.  Howard helped give the numbers a boost with his 3-run homer yesterday, but that was about the only hitting highlight of the series.  Losing 2 out of 3 to a last place team is just very, very sad.

The Braves come to town tomorrow for 3 games and hopefully, the Phillies will find their bats!

Phillies Cruise

P1079974.jpgThe 2nd annual Phillies Cruise will set sail on January 9th, returning on the 16th.  Players past and present including Shane Victorino, Ryan Madson, JC Romero, Matt Stairs and Greg Luzinski will all be aboard!  The cruise is officially sold out, but there is still ONE opportunity left to grab your spot!  This package includes an ocean view cabin for 2, two Southwest airline vouchers (cruise departs from Ft. Lauderdale) plus ALL Phillies activities!  The package, put together directly from the Phillies, is being sold for $3100 (a $4500 value).  Email me and I will put you into direct contact with the seller.

Photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

 

Lidge Blows Game After 9th Inning Comeback

The Phillies pulled off an amazing 9th inning comeback against the lowly Pirates tonight, only to have Brad Lidge blow the save…again.  Joe Blanton started the game and did not have a fun day pitching either.  The home plate umpire, CB Bucknor was having a senior moment on the mound, except that the “moment” lasted all game long.  He simply could not remember where the strike zone was.  Originally titled “Ode to Forgetfulness,” I have renamed this video “Ode to a Senile Umpire:”

Consistency in umpiring is a rare feat these days.  So poor Joe had a 2-1 lead going into the 6th inning; just when he thought he had a strikeout to end the inning, Bucknor issued a walk.  The next batter knocked one out of the park off a visibly frustrated Blanton.  Upon returning to the dugout, Blanton exacted his revenge on an innocent water bottle which was sent soaring through the dugout and eventually ricocheted out onto the field.  Blanton ended his outing with 3 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks over 6 innings.P7058227 Blanton.jpg

But Blanton had the right to be angry as the Phillies offense did him no favors; the lack of run support for the big righty is becoming a habit.  In fact, Jimmy Rollins was the entire offense for much of the game.  Rollins saw exactly two pitches in his first two at bats and both of them left the ballpark over the right field wall.  Rollins received a sarcastic cheer in his third at bat when he actually took a pitch.

Matt Stairs started the game in place of Jayson Werth in order to get some work, but Stairs has not had a hit since July 11th.  24 at-bats later and he still does not have a hit.  Of course, Werth pinch hit in the 8th and struck out with a man on third, so that was no help anyway.  The Phillies left several men on third base throughout the game, including that inning.  Scoring is the name of the game and that just did not happen tonight.

That is, not until the 9th inning…Carlos Ruiz and Ben Francisco hit back-to-back double to tie up the game at 3-3.  Then Shane Victorino tripled to score Francisco and give the Phillies a 4-3 lead!  But leave it to Brad Lidge to ruin the moment.  Lidge gave up a single, the runner advanced to second on a passed ball and then the next batter hit a long single to Werth who bobbled the ball and a run scored.  After that, Lidge pitched a little batting practice and gave up a long home run to Andrew McCutchen.  Another blown save for Lidge and the Phillies lose!  I am DONE with Lidge – bring back Brett Myers…NOW!

The Phillies will try for a win tomorrow behind a very downtrodden Cole Hamels.  Cross your fingers folks; this ought to be almost as scary as Lidge coming into a game.  Ugh.

 

Photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

 

 

 

No Fish Fry Tonight

Entering tonight’s game, the Phillies had won 2 in a row and the Marlins had just been swept in 3-games by the Nationals.  But none of that mattered as the game quickly went down the drain for the Phils.  Mistakes and missed opportunities sent them away with a 2-3 loss. 

One of those missed opportunities took place in the 2nd inning when the Phillies had runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs and failed to score.  Managing only 2 hits in the game through 6 innings, the Phillies batters looked like they were swatting at flies…and missing.


Thumbnail image for ben fran.jpgThe only offense in the game came from a recent addition to the Phillies.  Ben Francisco started in right field tonight while Shane Victorino gave his bum knee a rest; The Frisco Kid tried to play cowboy in the 7th inning and wrangle the Fish.  First, he threw out a runner at home plate to end the 1st half of the 7th.  Then, when he stepped to the plate for the 2nd half of the inning, Francisco hit a 2-run homer, putting the Phillies within 1 run of catching those slippery Fish.

But Francisco could not play hero in the bottom of the 9th, as he struck out to start the inning in what was still a very close game.  Greg Dobbs hit a long fly ball to left for out #2.  Then, Matt Stairs put on his cowboy hat and stepped to the plate.  He kicked his spurs, reached back and….grounded out softly to 1st base to end the game :O(

Before the game, Harry Kalas was honored and officially inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame.  As his three sons watched, the Phillies introduced previously inducted members of the Hall to the field by playing Harry’s voice, using previously taped announcements for each of those former players.  Mike Schmidt seemed especially moved upon hearing Harry call him to the field one last time.  The entire ceremony was very touching and a genuine tribute to the man who represented Phillies baseball for almost four decades.  Too bad the Phils could not pull out a win for Harry, but that is baseball.  Tomorrow is another day…

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

Day Dreamin’ In Tampa

The past few days have left Phillies fans wondering who turned the lights out.  The mental mistakes, lack of concentration and outright wackiness of this team begs the question, where have the Phillies head’s gone?  Did they drink too many Slurpee’s in the hot weather and are suffering from severe brain freeze?  Or, are they day dreaming of midget clowns, fire eaters and candy?  Hmmmm….dreaming.jpg

At the plate, they appear to be asleep; weak swings at bad balls, staring like a deer in headlights at strikes down the middle of the plate and base running that brings back memories of their little league days.  Tonight, Pedro Feliz killed an inning that had real potential by forgetting how many outs there were.  1 out in the 6th, Pedro on 1st and Matt Stairs on 3rd, Eric Bruntlett did his job and hit a sac fly to center.  Feliz, however, thinking there were two outs, ran all the way to second and got doubled up at 1st before Stairs could score.  The run did not count and the threat was over.

But this is only one of several examples of spontaneous stupidity displayed by the team this week.  It has made most fans wish they really were living in la-la-land, as the Phillies appear to be.  At least in la-la-land, the rest of the NL East catching up to the Phils may not factor in.  However, in the real world, the Phillies have run themselves into big trouble.

And trouble rolls downhill, starting with the starters.  Antonio Bastardo was given a 4 run lead to start the game and immediately gave 3 runs right back to the Rays in the bottom of the 1st inning.  And as expected, it all went downhill from there.  Maybe if Bastardo more closely resembled another Antonio, I would be able to cope with his lack of control:

A Bastardo.jpg
Put Banderas on the mound and I don’t care if he walks in 12 runs…at least he would look good doing it ;O)  But Bastardo still needs work before he is major league ready.  And he may have taken that decision out of the manager’s hands anyway tonight, as he left the game early with a left shoulder strain.  The Phillies need a starting pitcher – real bad.  The hole in the rotation left by Brett Myers continues to haunt the team, with no answer yet in sight.  And even worse, because the Phillies have let so many teams in the NL catch up to them over these last few weeks, most teams are not ready to give up and start unloading talent.  They all still have a shot at the Wildcard, thanks to the Phillies bad play.  And therefore, the pickings are slim for starting pitchers.  Talk about shooting themselves in the foot…ouch!

Hey, maybe Antonio Banderas IS available?  I have no idea if he has ever picked up a baseball, but I am willing to give him a shot.  Hey Tony…call me ;O)

Reminder:  Despite the brain freezes of the week, please keep VOTING for your Phillies All-Stars!  VOTE up to 25 times per day, per email address! 

Player photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Here Come The Boo’s

Let the Boo’s begin…now, I do not condone booing, but there will be no avoiding it after the Phillies blew another lead today for their 5th loss in a row; 7 losses in their last 8 games.  And they blew it yet again in spectacular fashion.

The offense had only two hits through the 6th inning; one from Greg Dobbs and one from Paul Bako.  No runner had advanced past first base either.  And JA Happ had an adventurous start on the mound; Happ allowed only 2 runs, but had a lot of base runners.  With 10 hits and 4 walks given up to the Orioles, Happ was having some issues.  But to his credit, he got out of the jams and nailed down 6 innings to keep the Phillies in the game.

Despite all that, the Phillies were poised to win the game after Ryan Howard tried to play hero.  its alive.jpgIn fact, maybe Howard should get sick more often…he spent time in the hospital earlier today with a 104 degree temperature and was held out of the game’s staring line-up tonight.  Dobbs started at 1st base, Matt Stairs started in left and Bako got his first start at catcher.  But it was Howard who tried to break the game open in the 7th inning, despite his fever.  Coming in to pinch hit with 2 men on base, 2 outs and the Phillies trailing by a score of 2-3, Howard nailed a 3-run homer to straight away center field.  And just like that, the Phillies who had been silent all game long, suddenly seemed to develop a heartbeat.  It’s Alive!!  Or, is it?

Well, things got bad again, very quickly…and again, it was Ryan Madson who did the damage.  He gave up a solo home run to Greg Zaun in the 9th and then, with 2 strikes on Brian Roberts and 2 outs, he threw a fastball down the middle of the plate and Roberts knocked it over the fence, scoring 2 runs.  Madson blows another save.  OMG.  I am sure no one feels worse about how this week has gone than Madson, but do we all see now why he should NOT replace Brad Lidge?  Many critics have complained about Lidge blowing saves this year and suggested Madson take over; clearly, this is not the role for Madson.  He tries too hard, he over throws and you see the results.  I feel for Madson; this is not the role for him.  But this was apparent to me 2 blown saves ago, so why has nothing changed?  JC Romero is better suited to close.  Can we give it a try at least?  Please?  It is not fair to anyone, including Madson, to let this go on as is.

I will be at the game tomorrow and return with photos and a report on how the crowd reacts to the team after this disastrous home stand.  Wish me luck…

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

Home Struggles Continue

The Phillies have been road warriors this year, but the home stands have left a lot to be desired.  They dropped another home series today as they went down to the Marlins, 6-2.  Brett Myers was doing well through 5 innings and even had a hit in the game, but come the 6th inning, he ran into trouble.  Myers began to grimace after pitches and appeared to be having pain of some sort.  Charlie Manuel pulled him after 2 outs and Myers continued to look discomforted on the bench.  The official word is that he has right hip inflammation…hoping he will be alright!

So Myers struggled, but the offense also provided little remedy.  Carlos Ruiz and Matt Stairs each nailed solo shots and Ryan Howard had 2 hits in the game.  Then the Phillies attempted a rally in the 8th with a walk to Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino reaching on an error.  Chase Utley stepped in and missed a home run by about 6 inches; it was caught for out #2.  Major bummer :O(  Howard had the chance to play hero after that, but he went down swinging.  Another rally in the 9th failed as well; bases loaded, 2 outs and Rollins flied out to center.

shamrock_180x137.jpgThe green shamrock hats given away to fans tonight did not bring the Phillies luck either.  In fact, maybe it was the sea of green in the stands that sickened the players?  Or maybe it was just the Marlins pitching, which was on spot.  Plus former Phillies Wes Helms and Ronny Paulino had 6 hits in this 3 game series.  Depressing, no matter how you look at it.  Where was Helms’ bat when WE needed it?  Ugh.

But here is something to cheer you up…it’s the Gizmo Cam!  Yes, Gizmo the chinchilla is at it again, trying to get your votes for our Phillies All-Stars!  See how cute he is….how can you not help the little guy?

Remember to VOTE up to 25 times per day, per email address!

The Phillies get a day off tomorrow and then the Nats come to town; we hope they can cure the at-home blues!

Gizmo Cam by Jenn; Music – Lemon remix by U2

Green Cap – Phillies.com

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