Results tagged ‘ playoffs ’

Phillies Playoff Hopes: Fool’s Gold or the Real Deal?

Out of the 9 Phillies Opening Day 2012 starters, 6 have landed either on the disabled list or with another team at some point during the year.  And that does not even include Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who started the year on the DL.  So basically, 8 out of 9 regular starters missed a lot of time this year.  The only one who avoided either a trade or the DL was Jimmy Rollins.

It is fitting then that a 2-run shot from J-Roll last night led the team to a 3-game sweep of the Miami MarlinsCliff Lee did his part as well, allowing just 1 run, which was unearned due to an error, over 7 innings.

The win has placed the Phillies only 3 games back in the Wild Card race, which is something not many people saw coming.  This team was beaten up so badly throughout most of the year and played so poorly that a possible playoff run, until now, seemed impossible.  Here is a look at the Wild Card standings:

But even after a 7-game win streak, is all this new playoff hope just fool’s gold or can the Phillies really sneak in the backdoor?  Consider this:  6 of those 7 games in the streak came against two of the worst teams in baseball, the Marlins and the Rockies.  Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies lost a series to the Mets, who are also pretty bad.

Then again, the momentum of a 7-game win streak could be enough to help elevate the Phillies performance and confidence to the point where they can start stomping on good teams as well.  But we are not going to know if that is possible for a while as the Houston Astros are next on the agenda.  With a record of 45-98, the Astros are by far the worst team in all of baseball.  Losing even 1 of the 4 games against the Astros would be a tragedy.

So maybe this series could be a descent barometer after all.  Because if the Phillies struggle against the Astros, I think the faint light of playoff hopes would be markedly dimmed.  But if they beat the crap out of the Astros, as they very well should, then go ahead and keep the light of hope burning.  Then we can all say, “Watch out National League!  Here come the Phillies…”

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The Chase’s Are Wild as Phillies Trump the Fish

The Wild Card chase is back on for the Phillies who have won 6 in a row.  They now sit only 4 games out of a potential playoff spot.  The other Chase, that being Chase Utley, is starting to look like the guy we all remember.  Despite a costly error in the game against the Marlins, Utley went 3-for-3 last night with 2 walks and an RBI.  He reached base in all 5 of his at-bats.

Juan Pierre also continues to produce; he also had 3 hits in the game, plus an RBI.  And Jimmy Rollins took advantage of a huge error by the Marlins catcher who dropped what appeared to be Jimmy’s 5,000th or so pop-up this year.  Ok, maybe I exaggerate…but J-Roll followed the dropped pop-up with a 2-run homer on the next pitch.  Rollins ended the night with 3 RBI on 2 hits.

But as the runs continued to pour in, Phillies pitchers continued to give them right back.  Roy Halladay did not look great again, allowing 5 runs in 6 ½ innings while walking 3 batters.  Just when it looks like Halladay is doing well again, he has a game like this.

But the bullpen was not much better.  Manager Charlie Manuel had to use 4 pitchers to get though the 7th inning as it seemed no one wanted to get the final out.  Halladay and the pen combined to allow 4 runs that inning.

In the bottom of the 7th, things got progressively weirder.  After Rollins collected his 3rd RBI of the night, the Marlins manager apparently suffered a momentary lapse of reason.  Ozzie Guillen, already considered one of the strangest men in baseball, made yet another move to solidify his crazy-man reputation.  He ordered an intentional walk of Kevin Frandsen to pitch to Utley instead.

To break it down, Guillen decided he wanted to pitch to a guy who already had 3 hits in the game instead of a guy with a stress fracture in his left leg.  Forget the left-handed, right-handed theory; a broken leg VS. 3-for-3…and broken leg won.  Wow.  Utley wound up walking as well and no damage was done, but that was a seriously weird chain of events.

The 9-7 put the Phillies back at the .500 mark for the season so far.  That is a small miracle considering how bad most of the season has gone.  Could a large miracle be in the works?  It is a long-shot, but if the Phillies keep winning, who knows?

Game 3 with the Marlins starts early today at 4:05pm.  Let’s go for the sweep!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Is There a Bright Side to the Phillies Skid?

With 6 straight losses, horrible defense, an anemic offense and banged up pitching staff, the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies are going nowhere fast.  Unless of course the “somewhere” you are thinking of involves a deep, dark, black hole in an alternate universe.

But for those of us stuck in the reality of here and now, being a Phillies fan sucks right now.  And there are no signs of relief on the way either.

I have been a Phillies fan for over 30 years and will always be a Phillies fan.  I remember all the ups and downs; even the mention of the name “Joe Carter” still makes me want to vomit.

But this recent downhill spiral is harder to take than most.  It is a combination of a lot of factors: Getting used to winning in the recent past; the enormous $175 million payroll; the injuries to key players; paying more for everything from parking to tickets to food at the ballpark; the utter depletion of the farm system to get all this expensive players; etc…

Before spring training even started, I predicted that the Phillies would not make the playoffs this year.  I also hoped that I was wrong.  But check out the trend:

2008: World Series win!

2009: NLCS Champs, World Series loss :O(

2010: NLDS Champs, NLCS loss

2011: NL East Division Champs; NLDS loss

The Phillies have literally gone down exactly 1 step on the postseason ladder every year since winning the World Series in 2008.  If the trend continues, that means either a Wild Card spot or no playoffs at all.

And the off-season moves the Phillies made did not inspire confidence either.  It was like Ruben Amaro Jr. tossed a coin and said, “Gee, I hope this is enough for us to scrape by with.”  Hmmm…no so much.

So let’s take a few moments to review the bright side of cheering for a bad team.  I worked very hard on this list so hang in there with me…

-          If you can afford it, it will be a lot easier to find tickets to the games in a good spot (i.e. – not the nosebleeds).

-          Games will be less crowded, therefore concession stand lines will be shorter (again, if you can afford to buy food at an overpriced stadium).

-          Better parking spots!

-          Less traffic!

-          Lower expectations: It is easier to watch your team suck when you totally expect them to suck.  Trust me…I have a lot of experience with this.

-          Fewer people at games also means it should be easier to get autographs!  And the players who were once too smug to sign should have a new attitude very soon.

-          When someone on the street sees your Phillies gear and tells you how bad they suck, you can simply reply with, “Yes, we suck.  But they are still my team.”  This is WAY less work than feeling the need to defend your team to a total stranger.

So who’s with me for the next home stand?!  Meet me Tony Luke’s in the 3rd inning; don’t worry, the line will be short so we won’t miss much of the game and once we return to our seats behind home plate, we will have a great time cheering despite strike-outs, pop-ups and bad plays while easily fending off haters rooting for the opposing team.

It’s a plan.  Go Phils!

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Philosophizing the Proposed Playoff Profit-Pumping Plan

On Wednesday, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal tweeted that MLB has decided to go ahead with the new 10-team playoff format starting with the 2012 season.  The official announcement has not yet been made.

The new format means that each league will have two Wild-Card winners instead of one, those with the best records after the division winners.  Those 2 Wild-Card teams will then play a one-game playoff to determine who moves on.  Please excuse me while I throw-up…

Bud Selig seems determined to be the most hated guy in the baseball universe once again.  Congrats, Bud.  You win 1st prize in my book.

Basically, a team who previously had no business being in the playoffs now gets to be in the playoffs.  In my opinion, this demeans the hard work of all the division winners.  One Wild-Card per division was already slightly annoying but two worse.

What is the point of winning your division when you now may have to play a mediocre team who may, simply by a stroke of luck, knock you out before you get a chance to play the best of the best?  At least if you get beat by a good team, you can live with that.  But to get beat by a team that should not even have been there?  That is truly depressing.

Because as baseball fans know, it is not always the best team that wins.  Injuries, scheduling, weather and pure luck play a big part sometimes.  This new format increases the odds tremendously that an average team will catch a break and push a more exciting team to an early exit.

And then think about the logistics of such a schedule.  Baseball has already struggled in recent years with weather delay’s and postponements in October; this adds a new wrinkle to that conundrum.  And how are they going to sell tickets for this one-game playoff?  Because you probably will not know who the two Wild-Card teams are until very close to the last day of the season.

But more importantly, it is unfair.  The new system caters to rich teams.  As a Phillies fan, you cannot say I am biased on this issue…we have a huge payroll.  This system gives big market teams a BIG advantage.  For example, how would you like to see BOTH the Yankees and the Red Sox, who are consistently at the top of their division and of the AL, make the playoffs every year?  You can now be pretty confident that at least one of those teams always gets in.

The Red Sox had a horrible September last year, winning only 7 games.  But under these new rules, they would have been in the playoffs anyway.  That is ridiculous.

I am sure there are plenty of people out there who think this is great.  It offers more excitement with the one-game playoff and a chance for more teams to “profit,” in more ways than one.  Because no matter what reasons MLB gives us for the change, the bottom line is always the bottom line.  That is, more ticket sales, more TV ratings…more MONEY.  It is always about the money.

I wish MLB would not insist that this is for the betterment of the game and the enjoyment of the fans.  Do not insult our intelligence…it is and always has been about the profits.

Maybe no one is really complaining yet…but just wait until the Yanks and Sox both make the playoffs for fans of low-market teams  to start crying foul.  And as always, feel free to disagree with me :O)

Thoughts to Ponder…

In my previous post, I posted a few silly interview questions I came up with to ask major league ball players that would be highly entertaining, but have zero chance of ever being asked or ever receiving an honest answer on. So instead of asking the players, I asked the readers to give their opinion.  Here are a few fun responses from Jersey Josh, a fellow MLBlogger:

- (Not that this will ever be a reality but…) Would you agree to a pay for performance structure throughout baseball instead of the current guaranteed contracts?  Why or why not? JOSH:  I think any ballplayer would pimp slap me into next week if asked that one. The union wouldn’t allow that one, they don’t have performance based vesting contracts, just “appearance” based ones (games started, plate appearances, etc).

- Which teammate, current or former, do/did you dislike the most and why?  JOSH:  Dykstra probably owes everyone money.

- In a fight between Bud Selig and Satan, who wins and why?  JOSH:  Selig would postpone the fight indefinitely on the grounds that Satan cannot pass a drug test. (#1 answer, in my opinion :O)

Thanks to Josh for playing along!

 

 

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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*

Grieving the Phillies 2011 Season – Stage 1: Denial

I have embarked on a mission to cleanse myself of the horror and grief surrounding the untimely end to the Phillies 2011 Season.  I simply cannot continue to carry this overwhelming sense of emptiness and loss  around much longer.  It is like a funeral around here, and that is never much fun.

2006-06-30-denialHowever, I have still not gotten past the Denial stage.  Frankly, I refuse to believe this actually happened.  How did a team with such talent managed to get knocked off in the first freaking round of the playoffs?

No.  I tell you it is just not possible.

I will not cry over the death of the 2011 Phillies because I refuse to acknowledge that they are gone.  If they were actually gone, that would mean that free agents like Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson and Raul Ibanez could be gone for good.

That would also mean, so I have been told, that no fewer than five Phillies are headed for off-season surgery with real potential to totally screw up next season as well.  Ryan Howard needs Achilles tendon surgery, both Placido Polanco and Hunter Pence have sports hernias and Ross Gload needs hip surgery.

But maybe the biggest bombshell of them all is Cole Hamels who will have TWO surgeries back to back starting on Friday.  Hamels will have “loose bodies” removed from his elbow and then a week later, inguinal hernia surgery.

Oh please, say it ain’t so.  No one even knew Hamels was hurt!  And Howard?  He could miss the start of the season.

No, no, no….this is just NOT happening!

Ugh.

Stay tuned for Stage 2…

 

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

2011 Phillies Season Ends in a Total Disaster

First, congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals.  They played well and deserved to win this series.  And that statement may be the only light moment in this post today…

I am angry, disappointed and thoroughly disgusted by this loss and the effort this Phillies team put forth in this NLDS series.  I apologize in advance if anyone is offended by what I am about to say, but I need a good rant to get this off my chest.

I do not want to hear, “We’ll get them next year.”  I do not want to hear, “Hindsight is 20/20.”  Because frankly, the issues on this Phillies team are not hindsight.  They are glaring problems that were obvious to me before the series even began.  If they were obvious to me, what I want to know, is why weren’t they to manager Charlie Manuel?

As my first example, take Placido Polanco.  This is a guy who normally hits at least .300 every year.  But he has been playing on a hip that will require surgery this offseason.  Manuel said after the game that Polly was in pain, but still able to play.  Just because he is ABLE to play, does not mean he should have.

Polanco batted .105 in the series and should have been benched both for his lack of production and for his health.  Putting a guy with a bum hip in the line-up every day was almost a guarantee of an 0-4 day.  Wilson Valdez played in 99 games in the regular season and came through many times in big situations.  Valdez would have at least accidentally run into a hit at some point. 

I am not saying Valdez should have played every game, but Polly certainly should not have stayed in the line-up once it was obvious that he was unable to hit with this injury.  This was a huge mistake.

Another huge mistake was Ryan Howard.  Can anyone think of a good reason for Howard to be tinkering with his stance and location in the batter’s box during a playoff series?  No?  Neither can I.  He did pretty well the 1st two games and then suddenly by Game 3, he had moved so far back in the batter’s box that he was almost in New Jersey.

100811-howard-NLDS-400 Howard messed with his approached and screwed both himself and this team, going 0 for his last 15 at-bats.  And why is a guy who is not hitting giving the 3-0 green light?  WTF.  Seriously.

So Howard made the final out of the postseason again, two years in a row, in the most pathetic manner possible.  He hurt his Achilles and went down like a sack of potatoes trying to exit the batter’s box.  He had to be helped off the field.  Fittingly, the look on his face matched the feeling of every Phillies fans in attendance and watching at home; sheer agony.

Next up, Chase Utley….you all know I love Mr. Utley.  But WHY is he taking a chance trying to steal a base in a 1-0 elimination game against Yadier Molina who throws just about everyone he faces out in that situation?

And my new favorite topic of discussion is Jimmy Rollins.  Rollins may be the only player who had a pretty good series until the final game.  He openly scolded fans about being too quiet after Game 2 and asked them to give it their all in Game 5.  Ok, fine.  The fans more than obliged and Rollins proceeded to go 0-4 in the game.  The fans brought it, why didn’t Rollins?  After the game, Rollins would not speak to reporters.  Go figure.

And then there is Raul Ibanez.  I can see letting him start most games, but when he started swinging at balls 2 feet out of the strike zone, this is a sign.  Ibanez goes hot and cold like the flip of a switch.  When he is obviously cold, take him out!  Give John Mayberry Jr. a shot.  TRY something to kick start this horrid offense!

Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz were just as bad in this series.  After ending the season with a .314 average, Pence hit only .211 in the NLDS.  Ruiz was worse, going 1-17 which equates to a .059 average.

Shane Victorino and Rollins were they only two guys who hit with any sort of consistency, but Rollins crashed and burned in the final game.

And then there is the line-up as a whole.  Manuel moved Utley to the 2-hole and Pence to the 3-hole.  This worked well for all of maybe 3 games total? – A few in at the end of the regular season and Game 1 of the NLDS?  Howard hit well before with Pence behind him.  Why mess with that once it stopped working?

Manuel is big on  what he calls playing the guys who got them to this point.  I’ve got news for Charlie…Valdez, Mayberry and sometimes Michael Martinez were a HUGE part of what got this team there, filling in for injured players and making big plays.  But he started Mayberry once and totally ignored the other guys.

And now for the pitching…Roy Halladay gave everything he had and gave up only one run.  He would have bled for this team if he thought it would help.  But the team let him down and could not score even one lousy run for the one guy who has carried them all year.  Disgusting.  After the game, Halladay said that the worst part of the loss was letting down the fans who were so supportive all year.  For me, the person I feel the worst for is Halladay.  He deserved a win; he earned it.  This team should be ashamed of letting him down like this.

And among the rest of the four aces, only Cole Hamels pitched well.  Cliff Lee blew a 4-run lead in Game 2, which was the real turning point of the series.  Once that happened, the Cards knew they had the Phils by the balls.  It was all downhill from there.

The Game 3 win was a freak accident, thanks to a Ben Francisco homer.  But the Phillies did not really earn that win.  And in Game 4, Roy Oswalt choked and gave up 5 runs.  So much for four aces.  Because the Cardinals had the royal flush.

This is possible the biggest let-down for any Phillies team in history since Black Friday on October 7, 1977 when Davey Lopes with the Dodgers was called safe and the momentum propelled the Dodgers to win the series.  So Friday October 7, 2011 (yes, the same day) may go down in history as Black Friday II.

With the pitching staff the Phillies assembled this year and the overall talent on this team, to see them lose the NLDS is a gut-wrenching tragedy.  I would not be surprised to see GM Ruben Amaro Jr. at the top of a very tall building today contemplating where it all went wrong.

I feel sorry for Ruben – he did his job, got them the players they needed and has nothing to show for it.  In fact, this Phillies team since the 2008 World Series win has taken one huge step backwards each year following: in 2009 they lost the World Series; in 2010 they lost the NLCS; and now in 2011, they lost the NLDS.  One step further back each year – if the trend continues, they will not even make the playoffs next year.

The window of opportunity for this team to win is about to close, which is the worst part of this horrible loss.  The main players are getting older, they are more injury prone and many may not even be back next year.  This may officially wind up being the worst offseason in Phillies recent history.

So I am ready to spit nails, how about you?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section. 

 

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Photo by Philly.com

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

Opportunity Lost As Cards Tie Series

So far in this NLDS, two of the Phillies heralded four aces have been hugely disappointing.  In Game 2, Cliff Lee gave up 5 runs in 6 innings.  Tonight in Game 4, Roy Oswalt did exactly the same.

Those two starts, and even yesterday’s Game 3 win, only served to amplify another Phillies major issue: the offense.  The bats have been mostly quiet in every game except the first one.  The Phillies snuck by with 3 runs for a win in Game 3 thanks only to a Ben Francisco homer.

It looked like the Phils might put a hurting on the Cardinals early tonight, scoring two quick runs in the 1st.  But instead of piling on, Ryan Howard struck out and on the same pitch, Hunter Pence got nailed going to second, although on replay, he was safe.  No matter, because that one strike out / throw out killed the rally and the offense died after that.

The slow, painful death of the Phils offense this postseason could signal the premature end of their playoff run.  Even with Roy Halladay to pitch in the final Game 5 of the NLDS on Friday, if the Phils do not score, what Halladay does will not matter.

The only light moment in tonight’s disgusting loss was the reappearance of the Busch Stadium squirrel.  The BS Squirrel enjoyed a run around the field in Game 3.  In Game 4, he interrupted an Oswalt pitch by running straight across home plate.

The umpire had no sympathy for Oswalt.  Shocking, I know.

The Phillies will head back home, in a 2-2 series tie.  Friday night is a case of win or go home…start praying that the Phillies find their bats before then.

 

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

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*

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