Detroit: 88-74; 1st in AL Central San Francisco: 94-68; 1st in NL West
Schedule – 8 PM, EST; FOX
Game 1: Oct. 24: Justin Verlander (17-8, 2.64) at Barry Zito (15-8, 4.15)
Game 2: Oct. 25: Doug Fister (10-10, 3.45) at Madison Bumgarner (16-11, 3.37)
Game 3: Oct. 27: Anibal Sanchez (9-13, 3.86 vs Ryan Vogelsong (14-9, 3.37)
Game 4: Oct. 28: Max Scherzer (16-7, 3.74) vs Matt Cain (16-5, 2.79)
Game 5*: Oct. 29: DET vs SF
Game 6*: Oct. 31: DET at SF
Game 7*: Nov. 1: DET at SF
Rotation: D. Fister, A. Sanchez, M. Scherzer, J. Verlander.
Bullpen: A. Albuquerque, J. Benoit, P. Coke (CL), O. Dotel, R. Porcello, D. Smyly, J. Valverde.
Catchers: A. Avillia, G. Laird.
Infield: M. Cabrera, P. Fielder, O. Infante, J. Peralta, R. Santiago, D. Worth.
Outfield: Q. Berry, A. Dirks, A. Garcia, A. Jackson, D. Kelly, D. Young (DH).
Rotation: M. Bumgarner, M. Cain, R. Vogelsong, B. Zito.
Bullpen: J. Affeldt, S. Casilla, G. Kontos, T. Lincecum, J. Lopez, J. Mijares, G. Mota, S. Romo (CL).
Catchers: B. Posey, H. Sanchez
Infield: J. Arias, B. Belt, J. Crawford, A. Huff, P. Sandoval, M. Scutaro, R. Theriot.
There has been something missing in Jim Thome’s career.
And those who haven’t followed his career as closely as the people in Cleveland, Philadelphia, Chicago, LA and Minnesota would ask, “what could possibly be missing in the future Hall of Famer’s career.
Sure Thome became the sixth player to slug 600 home runs and is eighth on the list all-time. Sure he’s reached the playoffs a few times in his career.
But what he’s really lacking is a World Series ring.
That could be the number one reason Thome decided to come back to Philadelphia.
NOTE: Team to Beat is a very objective, non-controversial site. Though we express our opinions, they don’t go to the extremes you would see on most other sites. But there comes a time where stepping out of our shell and ignoring our policy is necessary. This is one instance. This post is in no disrespect to Kyle Scott or his website, Crossing Broad. But his latest blog post warrants this post and trip back to reality is needed for Philadelphia’s most controversial blogger.
The image is still burned in our minds: two straight years of the Phillies season ending in sudden disappointment with Ryan Howard taking the team’s final hacks (or lack thereof in one of those isntances).
But the image that sickens me isn’t Howard making the final out, rupturing his Achilles and seemingly being out for the first couple months of next season. It’s the gutless complaining and accusations directed at three of the Phillies on Twitter.
Why gutless? Because the same people who throw Shane Victorino under a bus over the computer would be kissing his ass, asking for an autograph and picture while continually telling him he’s “the man.” The same people who tell Jimmy Rollins he should have manned up in the post season would kiss his feet and thank him for 12 years in Philly if they saw him on the streets. They would also tell Hunter Pence to enjoy his meal if they saw him at a Philly restaurant instead of hoping he chokes on his steak while mentioning @HunterPence3.
So Mr. Scott aka CB aka the most hated blogger on Twitter, who in the blue hell are you to call these guys out? Who do you think you are to say Rollins can’t enjoy the weather, or Pence can’t try food in Philly or Victorino can’t tweet about the remaining teams in the post season?
On Wednesday, those two teams will meet in the 2011 Fall Classic. The St. Louis Cardinals, who capped off a miraculous September run to steal the Wild Card from the Atlanta Braves. They will host the Texas Rangers, who are playing in their second straight World Series.
St. Louis is the first Wild Card team since the 2006 Detroit Tigers to have home field advantage in the World Series. The 2004 Boston Red Sox are the last Wild Card team to host the World Series and win it. The latter knows a little bit about miracles, especially when the comeback against the New York Yankees in the ALCS and the end of an 86-year curse were complete with a sweeping of the Cardinals in the 2004 World Series.
Phils manager Charlie Manuel (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
It’s almost that time of year.
The leaves are changing, the temperature is dropping and the Philadelphia Phillies are playing in the post season. That last part wasn’t always true about autumn – seeing the Phillies play past September – but in the last five years, Phillies baseball has almost become synonymous with the word “fall.”
And what does that mean? It means it’s the time of year when the expectations rise and the pressure mounts. Losing streaks no longer become something to joke about – like the last slide the Phillies were able to put together. Instead, each loss is looked upon as one step closer to failure and disaster. Every year for the past four years now the expectations have remained the same: World Series or bust.
Question: In Game 7 of the World Series, who would you want taking the hill (Non-Phillies)?
This go-around, writers Chris Bengel and Christian Hetrick go at it in Team to Beat’s third installment of “Faceoff.” Hetrick is 1-0 this year and Bengel is taking his first stab at the face off.
Christian: Tim Lincecum
Okay time to play manager.
Since this is a Phillies blog, it is quite easy to get caught up and pick one of the Phillies starters. Cliff Lee has pitched in two World Series’ in the last two years, Halladay threw a postseason no hitter, and heck, even our “number four starter” is a World Series MVP.
However, the pitcher you want does not wear red pinstripes. If you need just one win, you want San Francisco Giants’ ace Tim Lincecum. Now this doesn’t mean I think Lincecum is the best pitcher in the game. Personally I think that honor goes to Mr. Halladay, and to be honest Lincecum might not even be the best pitcher on the west coast. Those honors go to AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez.
But if I am picking a pitcher for a must win game, I have to go with the guy with a great playoff resume. You see there are pitchers who are great in the regular season, but are awful in the postseason - Johan Santana, I’m looking at you.
No offense to King Felix, but he has no playoff resume, or big game resume for that matter. That is not his fault though; after all he didn’t choose to be on the Mariners. Still, he is unproven in big games and isn’t a safe choice for a must win game. Now this is where all of you tell me Doc is proven in big games because he threw a playoff no hitter, and Cliff Lee is proven because he has a 7-2 postseason record.
The problem with that logic is if I can have any pitcher I want, I have to also assume my opposing manager can have whoever he wants. This means my ace has to out-duel another ace, and Lincecum has out-dueled Halladay once in last year’s NLCS AND Cliff Lee twice in last year’s World Series.
Even though he has only one postseason under his belt, Lincecum went 4-1 with a 2.43 ERA and one complete game shutout. More importantly, he beat out pitchers that are arguably better than him which in my opinion makes him clutch, and in my opinion makes him the best possible pitcher to choose if I need to win one game.
Chris: Felix Hernandez
First off, my counterpart will question my choice of Felix Hernandez. Sure King Felix has no postseason experience. I give you that. Then again he plays for the Seattle Mariners and they haven’t been good since Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez left.
It is sometimes unsafe to ride a guy with no postseason experience. However as most Phillies fans know, Roy Halladay had ZERO postseason experience with the Toronto Blue Jays. He came over to the Phillies for a chance at playoff glory. Many people had previously crowned Halladay as the best pitcher in baseball before he threw a pitch of postseason baseball.
I would argue that King Felix is one of the best pitchers in the game next to Halladay. I’d hand the ball to him if I had to win a big game. Hernandez went 13-12 with a 2.27 ERA last season and still walked away with the AL Cy Young award. He also finished second in 2009 for the Cy Young. Ladies and gentlemen, he is that good.
Let’s take a look at some of the guys that King Felix beat out for the award: David Price, CC Sabathia, Jon Lester, and even Cliff Lee. These are guys that he faces all throughout the regular season. Well not Lee since he turned down the Yankees. He may not always come out on top because of his team’s failure to give him run support. The Mariners had the worst run support in the American League last year with 3.07 runs-per-game.
But Felix is a horse that doesn’t get a lot of recognition because he plays on a bad team. I can assure you that I want him pitching that must-win game for me. I’d hand him the ball and not think twice about it. I think it’s inevitable that we’ll see King Felix pitch in the postseason one day and he will show why he is a King.
That being said, Tim Lincecum is all well and good. He’s a great pitcher and has the playoff experience. I can’t deny those simple facts. But I feel that Hernandez would be an exceptional postseason pitcher if he ever gets traded to another team or Seattle decides they want to win. He’s the guy I want mowing down hitters and bringing my team that victory.
Question: Who is under more pressure in the ninth inning with two outs in a clutch situation: the batter or the pitcher?
In our inaugural Face Off on Team to Beat, John Russo and Christian Hetrick will battle it out with this tough question. Here are their sides:
John: The Batter
Game 6 of the NLCS will be burned into the brains of Philadelphia fans every where. Ryan Howard staring at strike three as Brian Wilson helped the Giants clinch a berth in the World Series while the Phillies went home to reflect on a disappointing end to their season.
The Phillies Ryan Howard pouts after looking at strike three to end the 2010 NLCS against the San Francisco Giants last October.
Did he mis-read Wilson’s pitch? Was he too afraid to swing at junk that he didn’t swing the bat at all? Howard caved under the pressure, choking away the Phils World Series hopes.
How crappy do you think Eric Hinske feels from the Rays? He couldn’t touch Brad Lidge’s slider to end the 2008 World Series. Just like his career has gone, he’s bouncing around the league looking for a job.
Look at the reward batter’s get if they do come through. Luis Gonzalez in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series and Joe Carter in Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. How about Jimmy Rollins in the 2009 NLCS off the Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton?
The reason the batter is under more pressure is because the reward of getting that game-winning hit is so much more. A hitter has to keep the inning alive. A hitter has to get his team the win.
Batters are under the most pressure in these situations. They don’t have eight guys behind them to make a play if the batter puts the ball in play. They don’t have three open bases to work with if they fail to get an out. They don’t get chances.
A hitter gets one chance at glory. If they fail, they’re the goat. They’re a choke artist. They are Ryan Howard.
Christian: The Pitcher
Let’s set the stage.
Elimination game, bottom of the ninth, two outs, and one runner in scoring position with the winning run coming to the plate.
Who is under more pressure, the pitcher or the batter? Both players are obviously under a lot of pressure, but who has more to lose? If the batter gets out he will get heckled by the fans, and ripped by the fans. In the end though, people will forget.
I think it is safe to say Rays’ fans aren’t cursing Eric Hinske’s name for striking out to end the 2008 World Series. In fact, most Rays’ fans probably don’t know who Eric Hinske is. Yes, Ryan Howard got ripped by Phillies’ fans and media alike for striking out to end last year’s NLCS, but is Howard’s strikeout always going to be replayed like Mitch Williams’ loft to Joe Carter? I doubt it.
A dejected Mitch Williams was ran out of Philly after giving up the three-run blast to Joe Carter that ended the 1993 World Series.
Oh you forgot about the Wild Thing? Unlike Howard, Phillies’ fans pretty much ran his ass out of town for messing up in a game six. It seems when in that situation it’s a lose-lose situation for pitchers.
If the pitcher gets the batter out, it is no big deal. After all, that is what he is supposed to do because he is the closer.
However, if he gives up the long ball, “he is a choker,” “a fraud,” “a disappointment,” and a bad memory forever.
On the other hand, if the batter grounds out, “he gave it his all,” “it wasn’t meant to be,” “he will get him next year,” and we forget after he hits a homer the next season. That sounds better, right? What sounds even better is if he does get the walk-off hit and becomes “a hero.”
If Brad Lidge strikes out Albert Pujols in game five of the NLCS, the replay is never repeated over and over on Sports Center’s top 10, probably because there is no “Top 10 Strikeouts to End a Series” because they all look the same.
However, since Pujols’ home run ball off Lidge still hasn’t landed yet, the moment will be replayed on televisions forever.
So just remember, both the hitter and the pitcher are under a lot of pressure. Nobody wants to disappoint their team. The only difference is if the batter gets out, he has to live with it for the whole off season.
If the pitcher gives up the home run, he has to live with it for the rest of his life.
If I were to tell you ten years ago that the Phillies were going to be the best team in baseball starting in 2008, you would think I was joking while wearing your Scott Rolen t-shirt and pissed-off Curt Schilling was a Diamondback. Oh how the times have changed.
The Phillies won the division in 2007, their first playoff berth in 14 years. Proving it wasn’t a fluke, they won the World Series in 2008 and went back to the fall classic in 2009, losing to the Yankees. Now it’s 2010 and the team is much improved – infact this team would sweep the 2008 club in a seven-game series – and are primed and ready to go to a third straight World Series and win it.
Sports Illustrated, who I’m still mad at for their ranking of Ruben Amaro, Jr., has Roy Halladay gracing their cover this week with the titles “This Might Hurt: Roy (Doc) Halladay operates in Philadelphia (sorry, National League).” Sports Illustrated picked the Phillies to beat the Cardinals in the Divisional round, the Rockies in the NLCS, and the Rays in the World Series.
Halladay is prepared for Opening Day. As the most highly anticipated player heading into April 5, Doc will look to impress the Phillies, the entire NL, and even their counterparts in the AL, the New York Yankees. Halladay has had career success in the AL, especially against the Yankees.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said last week. “I feel prepared. I think that it’s something you look forward to for a long time. I’m extremely anxious. … I feel good. Obviously, physically is most important at this point, and I feel great. I’m pretty excited about a couple of things that we’ve accomplished this spring. I feel like we’ve covered quite a bit. I feel good moving forward. The stuff was there. There are a few things that I’ve been working on for a few years that I felt like came together pretty well this spring.”
Like what, Roy?
“They’re secrets,” he said with a smile.
Like all good pitchers making the move to the NL from the AL like Johan Santana and for a short time, Cliff Lee, Halladay’s expectations are high. And by high I mean he can easily win 20-23 games and have close to 10 complete games. Heck I even think a no-hitter on Monday is very possible.
But it’s not just Halladay that has high expectations. The addition of Placido Polanco, Danys Baez, and a revamped bench are what’s giving the fans in Philadelphia a sense of belief that this team is the best in baseball. Fans around the league are starting to respect that. Though the loyalists from South Jersey, Philly, and South PA call them “bandwagon fans,” the buzz for Phillies baseball has reached a national level. The Phillies have already sold out almost all 81 home games and many other big teams that host the Phillies this season have sold out their series’.
The Phillies are respected. It took them 14 years to get back into the playoff picture and they are set for a long run of being a top team. In fact, if things go the way they should, this may be the greatest era of Phillies baseball, surpassing the 1977-83 era which boasted five division titles, two pennants, and a championship.
The 2010 season is only days away. Time to make history and some serious noise. Go Phillies.