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Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Category Archives: John Lackey

Ibanez powers Phils past Boston

Phils left fielder Raul Ibanez watches his 7th-inning homer leave the park. He broke a 1-1 tie with his blast. It was his first home run since May 30. (Photo by Len Redkoles/Getty Images)

For almost a month, Raul Ibanez had failed to hit the ball out of the park.

But the 39-year-old snapped an 87-at-bat homerless streak with a solo home run as well as tally three hits in the Phils 2-1 win over Boston, winning them the “World Series Preview” series.

Ibanez’s power couldn’t have come at a better time. With John Lackey (7 1/3 IP, 2 ER, 8 H, BB, 5 K) on his game for the night, the Phils offense had a hard time plating the guys he put on.

But Ibanez’s RBI single in the 2nd got the ball rolling for Philly. Boston tied it up in the 5th when Lackey ripped an RBI double. Ibanez answered back in the 7th with his solo home run, his first long ball since May 30, to make it a 2-1 game.

Ibanez finished the night 3-for-3 with a double, homer and both of the Phils’ RBIs. He fell a triple shy of the cycle.

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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

Free Agency Tracker

MLB.com has it’s Hot Stove Free Agency tracker fired back up. There have been no major signings yet this off season but players like Manny Ramirez, Bobby Abreu, and Ken Griffey Jr. have resigned with their former teams. The big names this year include Matt Holliday, Jason Bay, John Lackey, Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon, Andy Pettitte, and Chone Figgins.

MLB Trade Rumors Top 50 breaks down where they think some of the top players will go. They have the Phillies projected at picking up reliever Jose Valverde and utility player Mark DeRosa. I hope they are wrong in some signings as they have the Mets getting Holliday and Randy Wolf.

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