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Category Archives: Derek Jeter

Jeter vs Bonds: A battle for the most valuable baseball

Derek Jeter hits his 3,000th hit, a 3rd inning home run on July 9 against the Tampa Bay Rays. (Bill Kostroun/AP)

Here’s a hypothetical situation (everyone loves these, right?):

You have an unlimited payroll. Would you pay more money for a tainted ball that signified the greatest record in baseball history or a ball that represented a personal milestone by one of the greatest players on the greatest franchise in sports history achieved on pure talent alone?

Magic vs Morals. Power vs Consistency. Barry Bonds vs Derek Jeter.

One month ago, Derek Jeter completed the last of the great milestones the most storied sports team in history needed to accomplish. Before Jeter, never did the New York Yankees boast a 3,000 hitter. Sure, guys who have donned Yankees pinstripes accomplished the feat in their careers but none ever did it solely as a Bronx Bomber.

On the other side of the debate, Only two sluggers before Barry Bonds cracked the 700 home run mark and Hank Aaron’s 755 stood (and still does to baseball purists) as the magical home run number many believed would never be touched. That is, until a steroided Bonds broke the record in 2007, topping a mark that stood the test of time for 31 years.

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Jeter hits 3,000

Derek Jeter's solo home run in the 3rd inning off Tampa starter David Price was his 3,000th career hit. July 9, 2011 will forever be remembered in New York. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

27 championships, 40 American League pennants, countless All-Stars and MVPs. Even a 500 home run hitter and 300-game winning pitcher. But never in Yankees history has a player earned 3,000 hits.

That is, until Derek Jeter busted onto the scene in 1995. Since then, Jeter singled, doubled, tripled and homered his way into Yankees history. With five rings, 12 All-Stars, five Gold Gloves, four Silver Sluggers, a Rookie of the Year award and All-Star Game and World Series MVP award, the 3,000th hit was the cherry on top.

Jeter’s hit came off Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price in the third inning. But The Captain did it in style, hitting a solo home run on the eighth pitch of his at-bat. The Yankees bench and bull pen ran out onto the field, greeting Jeter. After play was halted for several minutes to celebrate Jeter’s milestone, he saluted the crowd.

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My D League Debut

I wrote my debut column for the D League show based out of Arizona last night and it was run this morning on their site, TheDLeague.com.

Here’s the blog titled “For money or the love of the game.”

It’s a question asked in all sports: is he doing it for the money or the love of the game?

With the recent dollars swirling around over-paid stars Derek Jeter and Jayson Werth, one has to ask what these guys motives are. Both Jeter and Werth are ring-bearers and both played for two of the biggest markets in MLB last season.

Jeter and his life-time club, the New York Yankees, were in heated contract negotiations the past several weeks, with Jeter and the Yankees finally settling on a three-year, $51 million deal.

What Jeter did is not surprising. He found himself in a unique situation. Jeter, 36, is the face of the New York Yankees and is solely responsible for the hundreds of millions of dollars the Steinbrenner-owned brand accumulated during his 16-year career. Surely the Yankees couldn’t let Jeter walk and therefor have to accommodate the short stop’s demands despite him being past his prime and a decade older than some of the game’s best.

So when the Yankees offered Jeter the $15 million-per-year deal and he felt insulted, he was mainly playing hardball with the only team he played for. He demanded money upwards of $24 million a year! The Yankees didn’t budge, letting Jeter know they could let him walk if the aging short stop wanted to take advantage of New York.

Jeter, who many children grew up idolizing as their favorite player, had this question asked of him. Was he in it for the money? Were the $200+ million he made in the first 16 years of his career not enough? Was he really playing hardball with the Yankees for a couple more million dollars a year?

That brings us to Werth, one of the biggest free agents of the off season. Werth, who was making $7 million in 2010 with the Philadelphia Phillies, found himself being courted by three of the best teams in baseball: the Phillies, Yankees, and Boston Red Sox. Instead of signing with one of those three teams and giving them a distinct advantage heading into the 2011 season, Werth signed a very generous deal with perennial cellar dwellers, the Washington Nationals.

The Nats gave Werth a seven-year, $126 million contract that became the 12th richest contract in baseball history. It was nearly identical to the contract Matt Holliday received from St. Louis two years ago.

Phillies fans were outraged. The rest of the baseball world was appalled. How could a player who was in the post season the last four years choose to take the highest deal possible with a team not set to compete for another couple of years over teams ready to  reach the fall classic? What will this mean for free agent outfielder Carl Crawford and pitcher Cliff Lee, who both could be seeing contracts just as rich, if not more in the upcoming weeks?

So Werth, we ask you: was it all about the money? I’d like the think no but it’s not going to be easy to do so when you’re laughing all the way to the bank… and to the bottom of the standings.

Click to read on the D League…

Will They Stay or Will They Go?

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

So the fun begins. With a handful of big-name free agents set to test the waters after the season concludes, I couldn’t help but wonder: Where will they land next year? Or will they stay put in their home town?

It’s already been said that Tampa Bay doubts they could hold onto Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, or Rafael Soriano. And at the same time, The Rangers and Phillies have a goal to hold onto Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth respectively.

So I’m going to evaluate a couple free agents and give you my guess on where they’ll land:

Jayson Werth – Boston Red Sox: Let’s face it, Werth will want a change of scenery. In his presser on Monday, he basically said he enjoyed his time in Philly and said he will never see a group of fans like ours again. So who would want Werth? Basically in the race between the Yankees and Red Sox each off season, they acquire big-name guys. So if the Yankees go after Crawford, that means the Sox will get their hands on Werth, where he will instantly make them a serious contender in the toughest division in baseball.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Cliff Lee – Texas Rangers: I think he stays in Texas. If he does, it will be the biggest splash in free agency as Lee is the league’s most prized possession this off season. Yankee fans didn’t help their cause in landing Lee after their harassment of his wife and he said he enjoyed watching the Phillies lose to the Giants. And with the team they have in Texas, he would be absolutely stupid to walk away from a young, talented team in which he would become the face of. As a pitcher, the Rangers haven’t had that since a certain Nolan Ryan. I’m sure Ryan will use all of his persuasive powers to keep Lee in the Lone Star State.

Derek Jeter – New York Yankees: As the captain of the Yankees, I don’t see him going anywhere else but staying in New York. He will demand a lot of money probably and put the Yankees in a tough spot: drop the cash on an aging short stop with decreased range and pop in his bat or cut ties with one of the greatest Yankees to ever wear the pinstripes. They can’t piss-off the masses. Jeter stays as a Yankee for life and wraps up his Hall of Fame career in the Bronx.

(Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Carl Crawford – New York Yankees: So the Yankees don’t get Werth. They will have to “settle” with Crawford, arguably the most enticing position player in the free agent market. He’s fast, can play a mean center field, and is a lifetime .300 hitter that can give you 15 homers and drive in about 70 runs. He hit career highs last season with 19 homers, 90 RBIs, and a .307 average along with a high in OPS (.851). Crawford will make the Yankees very happy next season and should allow them to stay ahead of the Red Sox and knock the Rays back out of the talks.

Carlos Pena – Seattle Mariners: Pena is a DH. The guy is a defensive liability. He struggled much of last season with injuries but will look to bounce back in a new team. Seattle is a perfect fit for him. Same type of laid-back fans and with the team looking to add a true power bat, they could start to build an offense around Pena. He’s just a building block to launch the Mariners into contention with the Rangers, who could be the best team in baseball if they win the World Series.

Jonny Gomes – Philadelphia Phillies: This is more like wishful thinking. With Werth likely gone in Philly, they will be looking to fill not only a hole in the outfield but also that important right-handed bat to protect Ryan Howard. Gomes would be a good replacement, that is assuming the Reds don’t pick up his $1.75 million option for next season. Gomes hit .266 with 18 homers and 86 RBIs last season. Similar numbers like that would be a fine replacement. Only problem is that he’s a worse defensive option than Raul Ibanez could ever have a nightmare to be. A two-year contract will be fine if Ruben Amaro, Jr. doesn’t over-pay.

Phanatic Owns Jeter

I’m sure you have all seen this by now. In one of ESPN’s newer ads, Derek Jeter was the victim of a used razor. One could only guess who the culprit was.

Phils Saved the Henny

Phillies third baseman Placido Polanco tracks down a ball hit in foul territory to end the Yankees' scoring threat in the sixth. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

So a campaign was started today if you were following me to “Save the Henny,” as I had a pint of Hennessy cognac on line for this game with one of my friends who’s a Yankees fan. Well the Henny was saved as the Phillies stomped the Yankees, 7-1, to take the three-game series for the second straight year in the Bronx. It was the first series win for the Phillies since May 28-30 in Florda.

Kyle Kendrick was almost untouchable as he followed up Jamie Moyer’s stellar performance with one of his own. The 25-year-old right-hander allowed one run on four hits, two walks while striking out three in seven innings. Jose Contreras pitched the eight and an out in the ninth and J.C. Romero finished it off. Andy Pettitte was good for the Yankees but his offense left him hanging as the veteran lefty allowed three runs in seven innings.

Shane Victorino went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer in the fifth. Carlos Ruiz had a pair of doubles and scored twice and Ryan Howard drove in two runs. Despite using his voodoo magic on his team, Chase Utley went hitless again, watching his batting average drop to an awful .257.

Kendrick was backed by some stellar defense as well. The Phillies had three plays in the field that could all make ESPN’s Top 10 tomorrow. Jayson Werth made a spectacular diving catch early in the game. Then with runners on first and third and two outs with the score 3-1, Placido Polanco made a diving catch on the tarp in foul territory to end the threat. The while pitching, Contreras made a behind-the-back stab on a come-backer and threw to first for the out in the eighth inning.

Robinson Cano drove in the only run for the Yankees, a two-out RBI single in the sixth that made it a 3-1 game at the time. He finished the night 2-for-4 as he continued his batting tear with a .372 average on the season. The Captain, Derek Jeter went 0-for-4 on the night as he was held hitless for the series.

The Phillies got the scoring going in the fourth inning when Howard drove in Victorino with one out. Victorino then hit a two-run shot down the left field line to make it 3-0. New York made it 3-1 in the sixth but the Phillies erupted for four runs in the ninth to pull away. They would have had two more run in the ninth but a ground ball hit by Ben Francisco hit off of Raul Ibanez’s foot with two outs. The two runs scored but the umpires gathered and ruled that it hit Ibanez for the third out.

The Phillies were in a must-win situation for not only their self-esteem but also to keep pace behind the Braves and Mets, who both won tonight. It was also interesting that the game where the Phillies had the best chance of winning was Tuesday in which they got pummeled and the two games the Phillies were expected to get smoked, they dominated.

The Phillies come back home to play first-place Minnesota for a three-game set before taking a day off and playing the last place Indians. The series against the Twins will be a tough one as they will be playing their second straight series against a team leading their division.

Doubles: Ruiz 2 (8), Ibanez (12). HR: Victorino (11).

WP: Kendrick (4-2). LP: Pettitte (8-2).

Boxscore.

5 Teams to Watch in the AL

Yankees – They’re the 2009 World Series champions and still kept intact the solid nucleus that got them there. They traded top prospects to land centerfielder Curtis Granderson, a much better defensive asset than Johnny Damon. They also traded Melky Cabrera to the Braves for Javier Vazquez to bolster the starting rotation. With guys like C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Brunett, and Andy Pettitte, the Yankees boast a very good pitching unit. Mariano Rivera is still the best closer in the game and the aging offense led by Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira can still put a ton of runs up on the score board. If things go right, they could have another parade down Broadway.

Red Sox – The pitching is truly phenomenal. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka form the best top-four in baseball. The offense is led by top young stars Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Marco Scutaro is hoping to end the revolving door at the short stop position and Adrian Beltre is an offensive upgrade at third. Offensive depth is the only thing that should concern the Sox but they have the pitching to get the job done. David Ortiz is a shell of his old self but it still the DH.

Twins – It’s safe to say that Joe Mauer is the scariest hitter in the AL. The reigning MVP is one of the reasons Minnesota is buzzing prior to the 2010 season. Along with a new outdoor park and a very dangerous lineup featuring Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer, the fans and Twins have high expectations for this year. The only problem with them this year though is pitching. If their starters can have decent years, they could beat out Detroit for the division.

Mariners – Seattle is truly going to be a serious contender in the AL. The addition of Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins, and Milton Bradley will revamp a pitching staff and offense in need of fire power. Lee became a hot pitcher again after his last season transformation with the Phillies and will look to create a formidable 1-2 punch with Felix Hernandez. Figgins will add speed and Bradley will look to add power to a Mariners lineup that hit 160 homer (12th in the AL) last season.

Angels – Surely they make their case for a serious playoff contender every year but there has to be a breaking point. They improved an already solid lineup with Hideki Matsui and bolstered their bull pen with Fernando Rodney but the team still doesn’t jump out at anyone. The core of the offense is aging in Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Matsui and they lost Figgins to the division rival Mariners. Jared Weaver, Joe Saunders, and newly acquired Joel Pineiro will need to have season like 2009 to give the Mariners a fighting chance in an AL crowded with contenders.

East: Yankees
Central: Twins
West: Mariners
Wild Card: Red Sox

Pennant: Yankees over Mariners

An Infield Debate for the Ages

After the Phillies let go Pedro Feliz and signed Placido Polanco to fill his position at third, the Phillies found themselves with a complete infield. Almost too complete as a matter of fact.

We have all heard the argument between Yankees and Phillies fans: Who has the better infield in baseball?

Clearly both teams are heads and shoulders the best in their respective leagues. Both hit over 100 homers last season (112-107 – using Polanco’s totals and not Feliz’s) and the Phillies drove in more RBI’s at 393-373. Both also featured two Gold Glovers as Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira earned theirs for the Yankees and Jimmy Rollins won his for the Phillies while Polanco was a winner at second with Detroit.

But I want to be fair on this. I don’t want you guys looking at this site and seeing a biased Phillies fan opinion without hearing the other side. In the red corner will be myself, John Russo. Opposing me in the blue corner will be a die-hard Yankees fan and fellow staff writer on the Whit and Gloucester County Times, Matt Shanley. We are going to discuss the catcher and infield of our respective teams; starters only. The paragraphs written on Yankees players was written by Shanley.

C: Carlos Ruiz vs. Jorge Posada

Ruiz: Chooch has the defensive advantage over Jorge in my opinion. He’s got great reactions and a special presence behind the plate that puts him above a lot of other guys in the league. He came into his own offensively last year in the playoffs, batting .341 with two homer and nine RBI’s. Ruiz had averaged 110 games the past three years at catcher, largely due to the Phillies hoping to keep him healthy and fresh. It worked well in the playoffs like a stated earlier. Adding Brian Schneider will certainly help keep him fresh so he can have another excellent Chooch-tobre.

Posada: Posada is easing more and more into the idea that he may not be an everyday catcher anymore. He’s patched up a questionable relationship with the team’s number two starter A.J. Burnett and, at age 38, Posada hopes to play well with every start he makes as the Yankees’ signal caller while understudy Francisco Cervelli continues to improve. In 111 games last season, Posada accumulated 109 hits, 81 RBIs and 22 home runs.

1B: Ryan Howard vs. Mark Teixeira

Howard: Howard is one of the most exciting baseball players in the National League. He brings to the plate (literally) what very few do – 45+ homers and 130+ RBI’s a season. After shedding some more weight and working on his patience (rose his average 30 points from 2008-2009), Howard could very well be on the verge of a second MVP-season. His glove has also tremendously improved and I hope to see a Gold Glove from him in the future.

 Teixeira: Teix is the third-highest paid player in the Yankees infield, yet, this season, might be the best. Though he faced what some might call a slump last fall, stellar regular season numbers have become routine for the former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket. He led the American League in home runs (29) and RBIs (122) in 2009 and finished second in the league’s MVP voting behind Twins catcher Joe Mauer. He’s going into this season in hopes of winning his third Gold Glove and fourth Silver Slugger, and with the American League lacking in first base talent, who’s to say both can’t happen?

2B: Chase Utley vs. Robinson Cano

Utley: There is so much I could say about the best two-bagger in the game today. Utley is one of those players people go to the park to watch. He’s a player that will bring attendance when the Phils hit the road. He has tremendous range in the field and the second prettiest swing in baseball behind Ken Griffey, Jr. His career 162-game averages are .295, 29, 109.

Cano: After a poor excuse for a season in 2008, Cano revitalized his play in ’09. He hit .320 with 204 hits, 24 home runs and 85 RBIs (All career highs). Cano’s durability has been a question in the past, but after leading the Majors in games played with 161 last season, a utility player at second base isn’t the necessity it once was for the Yanks. The biggest issue for Cano this year may be the departure of his long-time best friend Melky Cabrera from the Bronx. Cabrera was traded to Atlanta in the offseason for starting pitcher Javier Vasquez.

SS: Jimmy Rollins vs. Derek Jeter

Rollins: Jimmy brings more to the team than most people think. He’s the best fielding SS in the NL and has had some big seasons in the past. He’s also the resident psychic but offers no predictions this year. He does have high expectations for himself in 2010 as he expects to hit .300 (never done before), commit three or less errors (career low is six), steal 50 bases (47 is highest), and score 150 runs (139 is his highest). Lofty expectations from Young James. Anything close to those numbers could put the Phillies on the road to a third straight pennant.

Jeter: What can possibly be said about Jeter that hasn’t been said before? He’s “The Captain,” the hits king, and this year, he’s playing for a new contract. Yankees majority owner Hal Steinbrenner has publicly said that the Yankees don’t negotiate in-season and Jeter won’t get any special treatment. Coming off a career year in which he had the third-highest batting average in the American League (.334), the second-most hits in Major League Baseball (212), and won his fifth World Series ring, it’s safe to say that the 35-year-old shortstop isn’t slowing down any time soon.

Placido Polanco vs. Alex Rodriguez

Polanco: I’m not even going to argue for Polly to be better than A-Rod. But I will say what Polly brings to the Phils is much greater than what they had with Pedro Feliz. Sure Feliz is a better fielder with the best arm in the game from third but Polanco is a gold glover as well and can hold his own at third. But Polly brings a bat to the hot corner, filling in the only hole the Phillies had last year. He’s always on base and strikes out significantly less. He’ll hit in the two spot. Not many teams can say their first four hitters are infielders.

Rodriguez: The monkey is off his back. A-Rod finally accomplished the unthinkable; he won his first World Series title, and, surprisingly, had a large role in doing so. Last October, the Yankees third baseman batted .250 with a .423 on-base percentage. In fifteen postseason games, he batted in 18 runs, smacked six homers and reached the plate for fifteen runs of his own. Going into 2010 with no lingering hip problems or steroid allegations can only help the three-time American League Most Valuable Player.

Yankees Win 2009 World Series

Once again, the Yankees are Pedro Martinez’s daddy. The Phillies season has finally ended as the Yankees beat up the Phillies pitching, winning game 6 by a score of 7-3 and the series 4-2. Hideki Matsui went 3-4 with six RBI’s, falling a triple shy of the cycle, as he single handedly killed the Phillies hopes of forcing game 7.

Martinez was awful, going just four innings and allowing four runs on three hits and two walks, striking out five. His opponenet, Andy Pettitte, went 5.2, allowing three runs on on four hits and five walks. Despite pitching like crap, Pettite earned the win. Mariano Rivera pitched the last five outs, getting Shane Victorino to ground out to Robinson Cano to seal the victory.

The offensive fire power got going early for the Yankees when Matsui hit a two-run homer in the second. The Phillies answered with a run in the bottom of the inning but were soon counter-punched when Matsui hit a two-run single to make it a 4-1 game.

The Yankees then tacked on three more off of Chad Durbin in the 5th. They got an RBI single by Mark Teixeira and a two-run double by Matsui to make it a 7-3 game. Ryan Howard then came alive, answering with a two-run homer off Pettitte to finally chase him from the game. The Phillies had a huge opportunity in the 7th with Utley at the plate and two outs with two runners on but specialist Demaso Marte came in to strike him out to end the inning.

Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez were the only bright spots of the night. Chooch went 2-2 with a walk and a run scored. Ibanez had a pair of doubles. For the Yankees, Derek Jeter had three hits and two runs.

On a side note, Ryan Howard struck out for the 13th time this World Series, a new record. Matsui also tied Bobby Richardson’s record of six RBI’s in a single game. Richardson did the feat back in 1960 versus the Pirates.

Stars of the Game:
Game 1: Cliff Lee
Game 2: AJ Burnett
Game 3: Nick Swisher
Game 4: Johnny Damon
Game 5: Chase Utley
Game 6: Hideki Matsui

World Series MVP (official):

Hideki Matsui: 8-13 (.615), 3 runs, double, 3 HR, 8 RBI,

World Series LVP:
Ryan Howard: 4-23 (.178), 3 runs, 2 doubles, HR, 3 RBI, 13 K’s (new record)

Phillies Player of the Series:
Chase Utley: 6-21 (.286), 6 runs, double, 5 HR’s, 8 RBI, SB

Phils Stay Alive, Head Back to NY

For the Phillies, every game is a must win game. After taking the first game of the series, they fell three straight to the Yankees. After last night’s offensive outburst, the Phillies got back into this series, only trailing 3-2. The bats came alive and Cliff Lee pitched well enough to win as the Phillies fought off a late Yankees rally to win 8-6.

Lee went 7 innings, allowing five runs on seven hits and three walks, striking out three. Though he gave up five runs, his ERA is an incredible 1.56 in five post season starts and boasts a 4-0 record. His counterpart, AJ Burnett was bounced in the third inning with no outs, only lasting two innings, allowing six runs on four hits and four walks, striking out two.

The offense got going early after the Yankees managed to score a run in the first inning. The Phillies responded the only way they know how to: a lead off single by Jimmy Rollins, a scary hit-by-pitch taken by Shane Victorino, and a no-out three-run homer by Chase Utley. Victorino got hit in the hand and it affected him all game but he will be fine. It’s only a contusion and not a break or fracture.

The offense didn’t stop there as they tacked on three more runs in the third. After back-t0-back walks by Utley and Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth drove in Utley on an RBI single. Raul Ibanez then drove in Howard on a single and Werth hustled all the way to third. Carlos Ruiz was able to beat out a potential double play ball to allow Werth to score, making it 6-2.

The Yankees were able to add one in the 5th to make it a 6-2 game but the Phillies responded in the 7th with a pair of solo homers by Utley and Ibanez. Utley’s HR was his 5th in the World Series, tying Reggie Jackson’s record in 1977.

This is when it got scary. Lee came in the top of the eighth and was credited with all three runs. Chan Ho Park came in and pitched incredible but it was an 8-5 game. Ryan Madson came out in the 9th and got into early trouble. With runners on 1st and 3rd, he got Derek Jeter to hit into an RBI double play. With an 8-6 score, he walked Johnny Damon and then got Mark Teixeira to strike out to end the game and earn the save.

Utley finished the day 2-3 with three runs, four RBI’s and a pair of HR’s. Rollins had a pair of hits from the lead-off spot and Ibanez also had two hits and two RBI’s and a homer. Lee also had a hit, his 3rd of the post season.

Star of the Game:
Game 1: Cliff Lee
Game 2: AJ Burnett
Game 3: Nick Swisher
Game 4: Johnny Damon
Game 5: Chase Utley

Next Game: Wednesday in New York, 7:57 EST
Series: Yankees lead 3-2
Pitching Probables: Pedro Martinez vs. Andy Pettitte
Gameday Discussion: Liberty Bell Sports

The Phillies are still on the ropes but they are punching back. Pedro Martinez is back in New York and back in the spot light. He loves the added attention and I wouldn’t blame him. He has been excellent in his two post season starts and is only win-less because he hasn’t gotten the offensive support he deserved. With the Phillies offense obviously heated back up, he just needs to go out there and pitch like he has.

Andy Pettitte hasn’t pitched on three days rest since 2006. He has a 2.40 ERA in five career starts on that short rest but he is much older now. He will need to stay focused in this outing. He last pitched in game three, giving up four runs in seven innings, allowing five hits and three walks, striking out seven. He certainly is beatable and the Phillies know this.

For extra pumping up, click here.
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