Results tagged ‘ Wild Card ’

Loss to Braves Kills Phillies Playoff Hopes

While they are not “officially” out of it yet, the Phillies have dropped to 5 games out of the Wild Card race after 2 straight losses to the Braves.  With 4 teams in front of them and only 9 games to go, the Phillies playoff hopes are all but dead.

On the mound today, Cliff Lee put forward a valiant effort, working in and out of trouble throughout the game.  Despite his many challenges, he kept the Phillies in striking distance.  Lee struck out 11 and allowed only 1 earned run over 8 innings.  But the offense did little to help him.

Tim Hudson is a great pitcher, but the Phillies made him look totally unhittable.  John Mayberry Jr. and Kevin Frandsen accounted for the only hits in the game for the Phils; yes, 2 hits…total.  The only run they scored involved a walk to Jimmy Rollins, a Braves error, a sac bunt and a sac fly.

The sun was quite an issue today as well as clouds rolled in and out over the ballpark.  Some plays in the field were solid, and others looked a bit complicated as the shadows wreaked havoc.

And then there was a little controversy over whether or not Frandsen was out of the box when he bunted.  He was called out and manager Charlie Manuel apparently thought holding the umpires hand might help his cause:

Or maybe not…

So the Phillies went on to lose the game by a score of 2-1, all but eliminating their playoff hopes.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

And the only good news of the day…I won a signed Cole Hamels bat in the Sunday Season Ticket holder Fan Appreciation Day event!  Whoo hoo! 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Howard’s 300th; One Win and a Loss Against the Braves

The Phillies won their 4th straight game Friday night in the opener against the Braves that included a pre-game salute to Chipper Jones.  Jones will retire after 19 years with the Braves after this season.  The Phillies gave Jones a painting of one of many home runs he hit in Citizens Bank Park.

Jones received a number of salutes while the Braves traveled to away games this year.  And to thank the Phillies, Jones went 0-for-4 in the home teams’ 6-2 win over his Braves.  Thanks, Larry.  And Happy Retirement ;o)

However, the tables were turned on Saturday afternoon.  The Braves found their bats and Roy Halladay hit another brick wall.  Clearly, not all is well with Halladay as he claims.  He has had only a few good starts since coming off the DL; the rest have been very un-Doc like.

This afternoon, Halladay did not even make it through 2 innings.  His final line had 7 earned runs in 1.2 innings on 5 hits and 3 walks.  It was ugly.  Charlie Manuel looked on in disbelief before he finally ran out to the mound to lift Doc from the game.

With the Cardinals win today, the Phillies could ill afford any more losses.  But the offense was weak today against the Braves pitching.  The only excitement came when Ryan Howard hit a milestone home run; it was the 300th of his career, putting him in 2nd place behind Mike Schmidt all time for the Phillies.

Howard has now hit a home run in 4 straight games.  Seeing his bat wake up again is a pleasant site.  However, the Phillies are still in a dire situation as far as the playoffs are concerned.  The loss today knocks them back to 4 games out of the Wild Card behind 3 other teams with only 10 games to go.

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Howard head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Annihilate the Mets in Finale of 3-Game Sweep

On Thursday night, the Phillies gave the Mets a spanking and then some.  It was an outright stomping to the tune of 2 touchdowns and a safety.  If you are not a football fan, that is the baseball equivalent of 16 runs.

The 16-1 pummeling began with an 8-run 1st inning.  The Phillies went all the way through the line-up, batters 1-8, before a single out was recorded by the Mets.  The starting pitcher was lifted from the game 7 batters in and his final line read 7 earned runs and zero innings pitched…ouch.  The next pitcher who came in hit Erik Kratz with a pitch to force in another run.

This was the first time the Phillies had their first 8 batters reach base to start a game since 1975.  It was also the first time since 1912 that they scored at least 8 runs in the 1st inning while on the road.  Know what else happened in 1912?  The Titanic sank.

For the Mets, this was a game to forget, if they can.  For the Phillies, it was a nice opportunity to bump up their batting averages and stats.  Here are those than benefitted the most from the Mets’ ineptitude:

That is a lot of hitting.

With 2 outs in the 9th the night before, Ryan Howard hit a 2-run homer to win the game.  And with 2 outs in the 9th last night, Howard smashed a Grand Slam home run, adding insult to injury for the Mets.  The Phillies scored 7 runs in that final inning.

Rookie pitcher Tyler Cloyd quietly had a great game in between all the offensive fireworks.  Cloyd gave up only 1 run on 3 hits over 8 innings.  He was the only starter in the game who did not get a hit for the Phillies, but since he pitched well, he is forgiven ;o)

Despite the sweep of the Mets though, the Phillies are still 4 games out of the Wild Card race as the Cardinals keep winning.  They are running out of games quickly.

Of the 12 remaining games, the next 3 are at home against the Braves.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

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Lee’s Effort Returns Phillies To .500

After a disastrous weekend in Houston, the Phillies managed to crawl back to the .500 mark after a 3-1 win over the Mets on Monday night.  Cliff Lee pitched extremely well, allowing only 1 run over 8 innings.  His strong performance kept the Phillies in the game against tough knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey.

For the offense, Jimmy Rollins is on a serious hot streak.  It seems lately that even when he slips up, luck is on his side.  He struck out in the 1st inning last night to start the game, but wound up being safe at first base anyway on a passed ball.  He eventually scored on a Chase Utley sac fly.  Rollins ended the game with 2 runs scored, a home run and a walk.

The home run was interesting; the ball snuck over the right field wall but appeared for a moment to have dribbled off the glove of outfielder Scott Hairston.  Then without prompting, the umpires decided to review the play and correctly called it a home run.  That is the first time I have seen any MLB umpire voluntarily review a play without first being harassed by a manager.  It is about time.

Domonic Brown provided the other run with a solo shot in the 7th to give the Phillies a little more breathing room.  Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the save in the 9th.

This win was a nice lift for the Phillies who remain 3.5 games out of the Wild Card race with 15 games to play.  Realistically, the horrendous Houston weekend probably killed any shot they had at the postseason this year.  So while it is great to see this team playing well, as far as the playoffs, don’t hold your breath.

Game 2 with the Mets is tonight at 7:10pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Kratz & Mayberry Propel Phillies to Win

Friday night’s Phillies – Braves game was a little uncomfortable to watch through the first 5 innings as ace pitcher Roy Halladay struggled.  Sweaty and red in the face, Halladay looked like he might pass out more than a few times.  He gave up 4 runs on 2 homers and 4 walks before being pulled after 4 2/3 innings.

Catcher Erik Kratz did everything humanly possible to help the ailing Halladay, including taking what looked like a heavy-weight title knock-out shot at the plate from Chipper Jones in the 4th inning:

John Mayberry Jr. made a great, on-target throw and, amazingly, Kratz held onto the ball.  It was an unbelievable play…but neither Kratz nor Mayberry were done impressing everyone yet.

Down 4-5 going into the 9th inning, the Phillies were going to need a small miracle to get to Braves star closer Craig Kimbrel.  But Kratz was again up to the challenge as he took Kimbrel’s fastball deep to left to tie up the game.

That home run sent the game into extra innings where Mayberry stepped in once more to help the Phillies win.  Kevin Fransden provided the first spark, staring the 10th off with a single.  Later that inning, Mayberry saw one pitch and sent in into the seats for a 3-run homer, handing the Phillies an 8-5 lead.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the save, which was the 250th save of his career and 31st this season.  The Phillies now sit 8 games out of the Wild Card race.  Not that the playoffs are a real possibility at this point, but just thought I would mention it.  At the very least, they should aim to make life more difficult for the Braves.  Game time today is 4:05pm.

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Phillies Sweep the Nationals!

It was apparent today that Cliff Lee was determined to win a game at home, something he has not done all year long.  And for most of the 1st 5 innings, it was all Lee, all the time.  He pitched, he hit and he played defense.

The first score of the game came off the bat of Lee who doubled in a run in the 5th inning.  The rest of the team got on board fast, with a 2-run homer from Jimmy RollinsLaynce Nix added a solo homer in the 6th and Lee held the Nats to 1 run in 7 innings for the 4-1 win and a 3-game sweep!

The day before, Roy Halladay continued his journey to being Roy Halladay once again.  He went 7 innings allowing only 2 runs on 7 hits and a walk.

Halladay got our old buddy Jayson Werth to strike out twice and coaxed 2 grounds out from rookie star Bryce Harper.  Both were all smiles before the game, but not after.

The big bopper of the night was John Mayberry Jr. who had two hits, including a line-drive homer to left, and picked up 3 RBI in the game.  Chase Utley drove the other run in and Rollins set the table with 2 walks off another old Phillie, Gio GonzalezKevin Fransden also had a hit and did a lot of cheering for his teammates.

Then in the 8th, the old Antonio Bastardo came back for a visit.  Where has this guy been all year?  He struck out the side, handing a fairly easy save to Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th.

Some other awesome sights at the ballpark on Saturday were creatures from the Philly Zoo and a grinning Domonic Brown, despite having a sore knee:

Despite the sweep, the Phillies are still 9.5 games back in the Wild Card race, so don’t get your hopes up too much.  It is not impossible, however, they’d pretty much have to win every game from here to the end.  But the news is good for next year as the bullpen is improving and starters are getting healthier.

And of course, they just swept the dreaded Nationals.  I cannot think of a better reason to be happy right now.  Here is the full Photo Album from Saturday’s game.

The Phillies have a day off on Monday and the Mets come to town on Tuesday.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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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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.

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