BoSox take Series

And so begins the stretch of Interleague play.  The Boston Red Sox got the best of the Phillies this weekend, taking 2 of 3 games, although only one would really suggest much dominance.

The first game on Friday was a great way to kick off the series.  The Phillies and the Red Sox were tied at 2-2 and went off into extra innings for the third straight night.  Joe Blanton pitched 7 solid innings, giving up 5 hits and 2 solo homers.  Chan Ho Park came in to pitch two innings and then saw a parade from the bullpen.  Ryan Madson pitched one inning, then Clay Condrey came in for one inning, followed by Kyle Kendrick for two (Kendrick was called up for an injured Scott Eyre who is joining Brad Lidge on the 15 day DL with a calf strain).  Now, before we move onto the disaster that was the 13th inning, let’s take a trip back to the 11th and a homer that wouldn’t be.  Greg Dobbs stepped in to pinch hit for Condrey and hit the ball, seemingly from the Phillies television feed, over the foul pole, which from what I understand, means that it is a fair ball.  The ball was deemed foul, the umpire refused to review it, and Greg Dobbs ended up striking out.  And so the game moved on to the 12th inning and a 1-2-3 by Kyle Kendrick.  Then we got to the top of the 13th and everything began to unravel.  After getting Youkilis out, Kendrick gave up 4 hits and walked Veritek, allowing 3 runs.  This was something the Phils were unable to come back from and therefore took the loss.  Certainly can’t say it wasn’t an exciting game, but unfortunately the Phils weren’t able to walk away with the win.


Saturday’s game was pretty brutal… not much of a different word to sum it up.  The first inning saw Antonio Bastardo give up 5 runs in the first inning before going into an hour and a half rain delay.  Being at the game, I’ll tell you it was good times.  You get a pancho and sitting there in the rain is actually kind of cool.  They put the Braves/Oriels game on and we just speculated on when this rain would finally let up.  When it did, the grounds crew got a pretty nice ovation and soon baseball was underway once again.  And the Phillies even looked like they might have a chance to catch up!  The Fightins were able to get 1 run in the 3rd inning and 3 in the 4th while Chad Durbin was able to keep the Red Sox off the score board.  Unfortunately the Sox were able to get back on in the 5th inning with 3 runs and everything was pretty much downhill from there.  Well after midnight the final score was 11-6 and it was time to go home, get some rest and get back up Sunday morning to do it all again.

This afternoon’s contest saw J.A. Happ going up against Josh Beckett, and the Phils left field looked a bit different today with Rauuul Ibanez getting a day off for the first time in well over 200 games due to a bothersome Achilles tendon.  Although the game got off to another embarassing start (4-1 in the BoSox’s favor by after the 2nd inning), the Phillies rallied to come back and ended up having a good outing, turning the tables and coming out on the winning end of an 11-6 game.  Jimmy Rollins got the sole homer for the Phillies with everyone aside from Dobbs, Happ and Park getting at least 1 hit.  And although I was distracted by a potential fight going on in 147/148, I did happen to catch Ryan Howard steal his 3rd base of the year.  The stand-out Phillie of the game today, however, was Pedro Feliz.  Always with strong defense, Pedro went 3-5 at the plate with 2 runs and 2 RBIs.  A nice way to spend a sunny day in Philadelphia.

Some random tidbits:

  • Philadelphia native and creator of the FX series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (my favorite current TV show) threw out the first pitch at Saturday’s game.  I knew they were filming for next season around Philadelphia this week so I was hoping to see him at the ballpark this weekend!
  • Just caught the series premiere of The Pen on MLB Network, which will be following the Phillies bullpen around up until the All-Star Break.  It’s a really cool show and gave a lot of insight into the lives of someone in their position.  I’m sure MLB Network will be replaying it all week if you didn’t get a chance to catch it tonight.

The Phillies get a day off tomorrow before beginning a 3-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday.   


Extra Innings Propel Phils Past Mets

061109_raul.jpgIf this series wasn’t good baseball then I don’t know what is.  What a fun series and it’s even better to see the Phils come out with 2 wins over the Mets.  Interestingly and characteristically enough the Phillies won both of those games in extra innings. 

Last night’s game saw the Phillies slowly but surely make their comeback.  After a bit of a tough game for Cole Hamels, the Phils were able to get a couple great innings from their bullpen to keep them in the game.  Stir that with some great defense by Jayson Werth in right field and 2 Chase Utley homers and you have a recipe for a win.  I don’t think I can get enough of watching that catch that Werth made in the extra innings.  Had he not made that catch it surely would have been the game. 

Tonight saw the Phils come back once again late in the game and had a strong performance from their bullpen.  Jamie Moyer had a fairly solid outing, giving up only 3 runs and keeping the Phillies in the game.  The bullpen stepped up once again and allowed the Phillies offense to make a comeback.  What better hero to step up in the extra innings than Rauuuuul Ibanez to get a 3-run homer and ultimately the win. 

In Brad Lidge’s absense, Ryan Madson is looking very comfortable as closer.  I’ve been really impressed by him these past two nights (not that I would expect much less) and feel pretty comfortable in his hands. 

Phils Fall Flat in Flushing

060909_jaysonjroll.jpgFirst things first:  Brad Lidge has been put on the 15-day DL with a right knee sprain.  Interestingly enough, while watching Daily News Live today, they brought up an artcile from a newspaper in Colorado that profiled Lidge during the off-season and Lidge alluded to a knee injury that he suffered while celebrating the Phils’ World Series win last October.  Regardless, here’s hoping that the 15 days do him good and that he’s able to come back as the closer we know and love.  Ryan Madson will step into the role of closer and Charlie Manuel won’t comment too much on what will happen if Madson does well in Lidge’s absense and what the situation will be when he comes back.  I suppose we can’t throw too much speculation against the wall until the Phillies have the opportunity to use Madson in the closer situation.

Although there were instances where fans were thinking that we would get to see the replacement closer in the game tonight against the New York Mets, the Phils fell to their rivals 6-5 in a game that was surprisingly filled with 7 home runs.  Johan Santana pitched an amazing game with his ball-to-strike ratio being insanely low.  He went a reluctant 7 innings, allowing 5 runs (4 of those homers) on 8 hits and 1 walk, before unwillingly being replaced by Bobby Parnell.  J.A. Happ, on the other hand, had a bit of a struggle in the first couple innings.  Happ had already hit a staggering 70 pitches in the 3rd inning and only ended up going 5.1 innings.  Although he had some trouble, Happ only gave up 4 runs on 6 hits and 4 walks and got himself out of some serious trouble a number of times.  Clay Condrey came in to finish up the 6th inning with Chad Durbin coming in for the 7th and JC Romero having the most success in the 8th.  It seemed that the entire bullpen was struggling today but managed to get themselves out of some precarious situations. 

The Phillies bats were hot again, with Howard, Ibanez, Rollins and Utley all getting homers tonight.  Rollins is really starting to get his swing back, going 3-4 tonight with the most successful at bats of the team.  It’s definitely nice to see him getting back into his groove. 

Of course there are always some stand-out defensive plays in any Phillies game and tonight was no exception.  Raul Ibanez played a deep ball hit by Sheffield off the wall and straight to Chase Utley to prevent a double.  Why Sheffield was trying to get the double is beyond me but Ibanez and Utley both did a great job to make sure it wasn’t going to happen.  Carlos Ruiz also redeemed himself on a controversial play at home plate.  After making an error trying to catch Tatis tagging on 2nd base, Ruiz was able to get him out when he tried to score at home.  Although after looking at the replays it looked like Tatis was in fact safe, the ruling on the field stood.  Nice effort by Ruiz nonetheless to make up for his error. 

Tomorrow night will see the Phillies ace making an appearance at Citi Field.  Cole Hamels will take to the mound against Mike Pelfrey, who has beaten the Phils twice this season.  Hamels is coming off a stellar game in Los Angeles and I’m sure will be looking to carry over his success from the west coast back to the east.

Phils Get the Better of West Coast Trip

060809_carlospedro.jpgMan, I can’t even begin to express how nice it was to actually watch a game that didn’t start past my bedtime.  Granted I was falling asleep during this one, I made it through to see the Phillies take the win over the Dodgers to split the series and get the best of their west coast trip ending at 5-2.

Antonio Bastardo made his second start for the Phillies last night, going 5 innings and giving up 2 runs on 7 hits and 1 walk.  He was able to switch his pitching up a bit more than his previous start where he threw close to all fast balls.  His confidence was stellar and you could tell that he and Carlos Ruiz were on the same page.  Kudos to Ruiz for handling Bastardo so well.  They have fused very well, not that I would expect much less, and have really been a quality pairing.  Chan Ho Park is on an upward hill of his roller coaster ride of a year, going 3 innings and giving up only 1 hit.  If he would be able to consistantly do this he would be a great reliever, however I really don’t see that happening too soon.  Ryan Madson came in in the 9th inning and gave up only one hit to Furcal before going 1-2-3 with Ausmus, Loretta and Pierre.

The Phillies offense looked slightly lackluster through the first couple innings but were able to pick it up a bit in the 5th.  After Carlos Ruiz got a single to bat in a run, Shane Victorino came up and got a single as well with a lucky bounce to come with it.  The ball hit pitcher Randy Wolf and easily drove Pedro Feliz in to put the Phils up 3-1.  Skip ahead to the 7th inning and let’s take a look at the same two who drove in the runs in the 5th:  Carlos Ruiz has a two-run homer and Victorino has a one-run homer.  Follow that with another one-run homer from Ryan Howard in the 8th and we can call it a game.  

It seems like this line-up shake-up is doing the Phillies well.  JRoll went 2-4 with 1 run, which is much more than he has been doing in previous outings.  Victorino went 2-5 with 1 homer, 2 RBIs and 1 run.  Pedro Feliz went 1-2 with 2 runs and 1 RBI.  Carlos Ruiz clearly had the best night, going 2-3 with 1 homer, 3 RBIs and 1 run.  I would have to think it’s a little scary to other teams when the bottom of the line-up is producing as well as the Phillies have been.  Ruiz seems to be able to be the clutch guy to turn to and Feliz has been as good offensively as he has been defensively.  Considering that the middle of the line-up had fairly silent bats last night (Utley, Werth, Howard and Ibanez went a combined 2-17 with 1 homer and 1 additional run), it was good to see the bottom of the line-up pick up the slack.

Now the Phillies can finally get their internal clocks back on track as they head back to the east coast and up to New York to take on our ailing rivals in the Mets.  They have been pretty banged up as of late and are only 2-4 in June having played the Pirates and the Nationals.  The Mets ace pitcher in Johan Santana (7-3) will be on the mound facing off against J.A. Happ (4-0). 

Onto updated All-Star game news, the Phillies have three, yes three, players in the lead to be in the starting line-up.  The ever-deserving Raul Ibanez has gone from sixth to second to first in the past couple weeks.  He now is leading the pack by roughly 150,000 votes over Ryan Braun.  Chase Utley is still running away with the leading spot for 2nd basemen with Orlando Hudson by a little over 1 million votes.  And in perhaps a bit of a surprise leap, Jimmy Rollins has taken first place over Hanley Ramirez by a fairly narrow margin of around 60,000 votes. 

Lastly, I really just would like to share the hilarity of this interview with Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin.  You can see sunflower seeds being thrown at him before Scott Eyre decides to come into the picture.  Thanks to The Fightins for the video.

Eyre vs. Mackanin from Mike Meech on Vimeo.


2 Losses in Los Angeles

Well, it has merely been a coincidence that I haven’t been around to blog about the last two losses as I actually didn’t get a chance to see either game.  All I know from what I read is that everyone is up in arms once again over Brad Lidge blowing his past two saves and the talks of sitting him and moving Ryan Madson to closer have heated up once again.  It just amazes me.  It won’t last long because once Lidge gets back on track everyone will jump back on the bandwagon.  I’ll keep my front row seat.

Good to see that Shane Victorino was back in the game last night.  I really wasn’t enjoying having Eric Bruntlett in the line-up on a semi-regular basis (I’d prefer Greg Dobbs if I had to choose), and I like to have the line-up the way I’m used to.  Interesting to see that Victorino was the lead-off hitter, and although it didn’t show yesterday, I feel like Werth is better suited towards the top of the line-up where he’s been the last couple games since Shane had been hurt.  We’ll have to wait to see tonight what Manuel decides to do with the line-up tonight.

Antonio Bastardo will be the starting pitcher and will be looking for a similar start to his debut earlier this week.  He will be facing off against former Phil Randy Wolf for the Dodgers.  I’ll actually get to watch the game in full tonight without falling asleep during the 7th inning (or at least I hope not to!) so I’ll be able to have a full recap tomorrow.

And on a non-baseball note, so happy for Roger Federer!!

Welcome to Hollywood

060409_cole.jpgJust a day after completing the 3-game sweep of the San Diego Padres (wonderful game by Happ, by the way, as well as Greg Dobbs who had a monster play that saved quite a few runs from scoring), the Phils were off to Hollywood for a rematch of last year’s NLCS against the Manny Ramirez-less Los Angeles Dodgers, who currently hold the best record in the league. 

Cole Hamels pitched only 97 pitches through 9 innings, allowing only 5 hits.  As is typical of them now-a-days, solid defense stood behind Hamels.  With Shane Victorino out with a hip-injury (which is being called day-to-day), Jayson Werth was moved to center field with Eric Bruntlett holding things up in the right field.  No changes were really noticeable, but then again, no mistakes were really made on the mound.

The offense didn’t do too badly either, banging in 3 runs with Werth, Howard and Ibanez getting the RBIs.  It’s nice to see JWerth doing well; but then again, it seems as though he plays quite well against his former team.  Hopefully this will break his slump a bit. 

Tonight is the last late-night game of the series (THANK GOD!) with Jamie Moyer taking to the mound against Eric Milton.  I would have to assume that Victorino will be sitting out again just to be cautious what with the overabundence of hip injuries popping up all over.  Let’s hope for win number 251!

Happy Birthday Indeed!

060209_raul.jpgYesterday I suggested that for Raul Ibanez’s birthday, perhaps he could get a couple homers and a win for a present to himself.  I thank him for taking my advice above and beyond.  Raul was able to get 2 homers, 3 runs and 5 RBIs.  After cooling off just a little bit (his last homer hadn’t come since May 23 against the Yankees), the birthday boy proved once again just why he deserved his big sixth-place-to-second-place push in the NL All Star voting.  Ibanez is the league leader in RBIs and runs and still hanging in at 2nd in the league in homers.  This should be enough to give a player a bit of a big head,  but always a perfect example of humility, Ibanez credited much of his success to his team mates:

“I feel blessed.  These guys are always on base so, y’know, you’re only as good as your team mates, and these guys do a great job of getting on base and having great at bats, and you know how it is Sarge, they inspire you to have good at bats so you try to do the best you can, and I gotta credit the rest of the guys.”

Ibanez couldn’t recall whether or not he has hit a homer on his birthday before saying that once you have 37 they all kind of run together.  Well, here’s to plenty, plenty more birthdays like that!  And just as a note, that picture has absolutely nothing to do with anything aside from the fact that it’s Raul.  It’s from Spring Training I believe and I find it to be hilarious. 

Aside from Ibanez’s great night, the other big story was that of Antonio Bastardo’s amazing Major League debut.  Who would have thought that this kid was going to come in and do that well?  With the amped up pitching match-up that was supposed to carry us through the night, I think it’s safe to say that Bastardo clearly stole the show from Jake Peavy, not that there was too much of a show to steal.  After all the talk surrounding Peavy and how he would come out and dominate the Champs, it’s pretty clear who wound up in the spotlight.  Bastardo’s fast balls were sailing by batters, hitting 94-95 MPH on average when his scouting report barely had his fast balls breaking 90 MPH.  And although the jitters got the best of him his first couple pitches, Antonio really came out and settled down and took control of the game.  He was aggressive and very impressive.  And to come out with a win in his first game is a wonderful accomplishment.  If he is able to keep this type of pitching up, I don’t think we’re going to need to go out and get anyone new.  I’ll keep him!

Where one pitcher shines, however, another one dims out, and in this case that pitcher would be Chan Ho Park . After Bastardo pitched 6 innings giving up only 1 run (a homer to Gonzalez which seems to be the norm these days anyway), Park came in and gave up 4 runs in a shakey 7th inning.  Park is about as up and down as a roller coaster and to me isn’t the most reliable of people to be throwing out in the final couple innings.  Although he had a couple solid outings in past games, he tends to do more harm than good in these situations.  If we are going to be doing some trading to get someone to fill in Myers’ spot, I sure hope that he’s going to be a part of whatever deal we make and ship him out of our bullpen.

Other offensive goodness came from Greg Dobbs who got his second homerun of the season and 2 RBIs.  Shane Victorino got two runs last night, had 1 stolen base and his league leading fifth double of the season.  Ryan Howard got 2 RBIs, 2 runs and a double (lots of 2s!).  Chase Utley got 2 runs and 1 RBI.  Jayson Werth went 1-3 with 1 stolen base and two walks. 


Tonight we’ll get a boost in the bullpen with JC Romero coming back from his 50 game bullcrap suspension.  I think all Phillies fans are excited to have him back.  In order to make room for him, Sergio Escalona was sent back down to the minors in lieu of Jack Taschner who really hasn’t seen much action of late in his own right.  Our starter will be J.A. Happ who is looking for one more solid start to finish out the series and hopefully wind up with the sweep before heading north to Los Angeles.

Just a couple final Phillies notes courtesy of Andy Martino of the Inquirer: Scott Eyre, who will be a free agent at the end of the year, is expected to retire after this season after 13 years in the Majors to give himself more time with his family.  Brett Myers will be having his hip surgery tomorrow.  Here’s hoping all goes well and he can be on his way to a full recovery.

And lastly, I finally did a Build-A-Bear at Citizen’s Bank Park and I think he’s just the cutest thing so I’m sharing him with you!  He’s probably the most expensive teddy bear I have but he was well worth it. =)