Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Monthly Archives: September 2009

Phils Earn Split; Eliminate Fish

It was another rough series for the Phillies. It showed that they still have problems in the bull pen with Tyler Walker surrendering a walk off homer and Ryan Madson almost blowing a save today. The Phillies are still trying to find a reliable arm to finish off games.

One big problem has been pitching all together. The offense is providing enough pop for them to win (averaged six runs a game during the series) but the starting and relief pitching has given up the leads provided by the offense.

Thursday – Philles won 9-4: The Phillies offense exploded for six runs in the 5th inning, backing up JA Happ who went 5.2 innings and allowed two runs on two walks, six hits, and seven strike outs. Jimmy Rollins hit a three run homer and Ryan Howard and Pedro Feliz drove in a pair each.

Friday – Brewers won 8-4: Cliff Lee is starting to scare me. He’s starting to look like the Cliff Lee in the beginning of the season. He got roughed up again, this time by Milwaukee. Howard was the only bright spot for the Phillies, driving in three runs.

Saturday – Brewers won 7-5: Kyle Kendrick and Jamie Moyer combined for eight innings and five runs. In the bottom of the ninth, Tyler Walker coughed up a two-run walk off homer to Ryan Braun. Howard and Paul Bako both homered for the Phils.

Sunday – Phillies won 6-5: Joe Blanton looked so good until the 6th where he surrendered four runs. He still earned the victory because the bull pen bailed him out (surprisingly). Ryan Madson earned his ninth save of the season in a nail biter.

Series MVP’s:
Ryan Howard: 8-18, 3 runs, 2 doubles, HR, 7 RBI’s
Jimmy Rollins: 6-19, 5 runs, double, 2 HR, 4 RBI’s
Ryan Braun: 7-19, 3 runs, walk-off HR, 4 RBI’s

Next Series: Houston Astros (72-83, 28-46 on road) @ Philadelphia Phillies (90-65, 42-32 at home)

Pitching Probables:
Monday: HOU: Bazardo (0-2, 9.55), PHI: Hamels (10-9, 4.11)
Tuesday: HOU: Lopez, W (0-0, 8.44), PHI: Happ (11-4, 2.79)
Wednesday: HOU: Moehler (8-11, 5.21), PHI: Lee, Cl (14-12, 3.19)
Thursday: HOU: Paulino, F (2-11, 6.51), PHI: Martinez, P (5-1, 3.32)

The Astros lead the series 4-0, surprisingly. We all remember that awful sweep that could have easily sealed the fate on the Phillies season but it didn’t. Now it’s the Phillies turn to earn some retribution and finish off the Braves. The Phillies magic number is now at three (the Braves are the only team left).

The Phillies are entering their final home stand with four versus Houston and then three versus Florida. They can clinch the division at home, a fitting end to the season. This will be the third straight year the Phillies won the division (the only other time it was done was from 1976-78).

The Phillies will win (I hope) and they will be crowned division champions in fron of the home crowd on Wednesday.

Sore Neck Scratches Pedro

Pedro Martinez will not pitch tonight due to more stiffness in his neck. Kyle Kendrick (2-1, 2.70 ERA) will pitch in his place versus the Brewers.

Martinez pulled a muscle in his neck while swinging at a pitch in his last start versus the Braves. He threw Friday off flat ground, but felt he couldn’t pitch today. He did say he would go if he had to but the Phillies aren’t pressured by the Marlins and Braves so they opted to scratch him.

Four Games in Brew-Town

Records: Phillies (88-63, 46-31 on road); Brewers (75-77, 38-39 at home)

Pitching Probables:
Thursday: PHI: Happ (10-4, 2.77), MIL: Suppan (7-10, 4.76)
Friday: PHI: Lee, Cl (14-11, 2.99), MIL: Parra, M (10-10, 6.42)
Saturday: PHI: Martinez, P (5-1, 3.32), MIL: Looper (13-7, 5.12)
Sunday: PHI: Blanton (11-7, 3.82), MIL: Bush (5-8, 6.22)

The Brewers lead the series 2-1. Currently the Phillies are trying to finish off the division while the Brewers, who are already eliminated, are trying to play for pride and a plus-.500 record. The Phillies are coming off a rough series loss to the Marlins so they are looking to right the ship and sail into the playoffs through Milwaukee. If things go right, the Phillies can clinch the division with three wins and at least two losses by both Florida (vs. NYM) and Atlanta (@ WAS).

There isn’t much more to talk about in this series. The Brewers aren’t in the playoff picture anymore and the Phillies are just trying to seal the deal. Phillies win three and move on to try and win the first seed.

Bad Time For Blown Saves

Brad Lidge was back to his usual self once again. While everyone is counting down the Phillies magic number (5 for Atlanta and 4 for Florida), I’m counting up for Lidge’s blown save total. He is currently sitting at 11. That is absolute garbage. Some consider this the best Phillies team ever and he is holding them back.

He held them back again in their series loss to the Marlins. After crushing Florida in the first game and being shut out the second game on Tuesday, the offense provided them with enough runs to win the game and move one game closer to clinching the division but Ryan Madson and Lidge combined for three earned runs to give the Marlins the 7-6 win.

I have asked this question throughout the season and I will ask it again: what the hell are we going to do about Lidge and the closer role for the playoffs? Brett Myers is nursing a back injury and will be out another week. Scott Eyre, Chan Ho Park, and JC Romero are all looking at returns to the pen around the same time as Myers but like Brett, won’t even be close to taking a role like closer.

Of the healthy choices, Madson sucks as a closer and that is all there is to it. Jamie Moyer does not have the stuff to be a closer, especially with an 82 MPH fastball and a 76-78 MPH change-up. Pedro Martinez could most likely be the fourth starter in the playoffs. JA Happ may actually be a great choice but he is also battling Martinez for the fourth rotation spot and will likely serve as a primary reliever if he is placed in the pen.

The term “Closer by committee” has been thrown around a lot after Lidge’s poor display last night and I totally agree. Tyler Walker has earned a crack at the closer role and Clay Condrey could take a stab as well. Those two along with Martinez/Happ/Moyer, Park, and maybe Madson/Lidge could work together to take turns and finish this out.

It’s all in the hands of Charlie Manuel who said this:

“Him and Madson, that’s what we’ve got in the back of our bull pen. He was our closer last year and he’ll be our closer now… You’re supposed to win a majority of those games/ Exactly what percent I don’t know but it’s God damn high… “Those are our guys. That’s what we’ve got. We’ll stick with them… (Lidge) has to do it. Between him and Madson, they’ve got to do it, I should say. They’ve got to get it done.”

Is Manuel tired of this crap? Certainly but he’s relying on keeping Lidge in until he fixes his stuff. We remember the last time Manuel stood by Lidge: he yanked him with the bases loaded and let Lidge watch Madson get out of the jam. Manuel knows what he’s doing (we hope) so it’s all in his hands.

Phillies Magic #6

I apologize for not having this up sooner. I went to the Dave Matthews Band concert last night and had school commitments this morning and afternoon. In brief, the Phillies took two from Atlanta, dropping their magic number to six. It was an odd series as JA Happ, Pedro Martinez, and Cliff Lee all saw shortened action for a variety of reasons.

Next Series: Philadelphia Phillies (87-61, 45-29 on road) @ Florida Marlins (80-70, 40-35 at home)

Pitching Probables:
Tuesday #1: PHI: Blanton (10-7, 3.97) vs. FLA: Johnson, Josh (15-4, 3.01)
Tuesday #2: PHI: Moyer (12-9, 5.05) vs. FLA: Sanchez, An (2-7, 4.50)
Wednesday: PHI: Hamels (10-9, 4.07); FLA: VandenHurk (2-2, 4.24)

The Phillies can very easily put the division away with a sweep of the Marlins and more falling by the Braves. With each win, the magic number decreases one and each loss by the Braves or Marlins sees the magic drop another game as well.

The Phillies lead the series 7-5 and after this three game series in Miami, they will play three more to finish the season back home. The Marlins need a sweep bad and the Phillies want to win their third straight division title since 1976-1978, their only other time doing it.

The Marlins are third in the NL in batting average while the Phillies are 10th. The Phillies are first in runs scored while Florida is fourth. As far as pitching goes, the Marlins are ninth in ERA and the Phillies are sixth.

The Phillies have held the slight season advantage and the Marlins seem to be pretty much out of this season. I expect at least two wins by the Phightin’s.

BlueClaws Win SAL

Your Lakewood BlueClaws are the 2009 South Atlantic League champions. This is their second championship in four years as they beat the Greenville Drive (Red Sox). Korey Noles was the winning pitcher in the clinching game as he went seven strong innings to bring the John H. Moss Cup back to Lakewood, NJ.

Lakewood held Kannapolis Intimidators (White Sox), which owned the league’s best overall regular-season record, to two runs in a two-game sweep of the Northern Division finals, then limited Greenville to six runs over four games in the Championship Series.

The Single A team is led by one of the Phillies’ other top OF prospects, Anthony Gose. He is their lead off man and spark for offense. In the first inning, he led off the game with a single, took second on a sacrifice, stole third, and then scored on a ground out. That sounds a lot like Jimmy Rollins.

There are quite a bit of notable Phillies who are alumni to this team. They include Cole Hamels, JA Happ, Ryan Howard, Kyle Kendrick, Carlos Ruiz, and Shane Victorino.

Injury Update

There is a bunch of updates to be made with the Phillies injury list. First off, both JA Happ and Carlos Ruiz left tonight’s game early. Happ re-aggravated his oblique strain and Ruiz sprained his wrist. Charlie Manuel said that Ruiz is fine but there is no word on Happ just yet though it’s speculated it was just precautionary. Ryan Howard was also hit in the forearm with a pitch.

Here are a few tweets from Dave Murphey and Todd Zolecki:

-Manuel said Ruiz should be OK and not miss much time.
-Happ said he was fine. Felt nothing. Feels nothing. He wanted to keep pitching.
-Ryan Howard said his right forearm is sore and stiff. Got hit in the same exact spot yesterday. Hopes to play tomorrow, but isn’t sure.

-Happ said he didn’t feel anything, tried to convince manuel to leave him in

Also Scott Eyre and JC Romero will throw bull pen sessions tomorrow.

Phillies Sweep Nationals; Magic Number at 10

It’s time to start the countdown. The Phillies magic number is now 10 after their sweeping of the worst team in baseball, Washington. The starting pitching all series was ridiculous, going 23 innings, and allowing only one run on 16 hits, 8 walks, and 26 strikeouts. The bull pen was just as good, only needing to pitch four innings, and surrendering only two runs. Brad Lidge even notched a save in Thursday’s game.

Tuesday – Phillies won 5-0: Cliff Lee came in dealing as he notched a complete game shut out, striking out 10 and allowing six hits and a walk. The Phillies got all five of their runs in the first two innings. Carlos Ruiz had two doubles and three RBI’s and Jayson Werth had three hits.

Wednesday – Phillies won 6-1: It was a low scoring, tight pitcher’s duel until Washington decided to yank Livan Hernandez. Versus the third pitcher of the sixth inning and with the bases loaded, Jayson Werth blew the game wide open with a grand slam.

Thursday – Phillies won 4-2: Cole Hamels kept the trend of great pitching going with his eight-inning, one run effort and striking out ten. Hamels even had an RBI single in the sixth inning. Brad Lidge came on for his 30th save, allowing a run.

Series MVP’s:
Cliff Lee: CG, SHO, 6 H, 1 BB, 10 K
Jayson Werth: 6-11, run, homer, 4 RBI’s,
Cole Hamels: 8 IP, 1 R/ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 10 K

Next Series: Philadelphia Phillies (85-60, 43-28 on road) @ Atlanta Braves (78-68, 38-33 at home)

Pitching Probables:
Friday: PHI: Happ (10-4, 2.77), ATL: Hudson, T (1-0, 3.63)
Saturday: PHI: Martinez, P (5-0, 2.87), ATL: Vazquez, J (13-9, 3.01)
Sunday: PHI: Lee, Cl (14-11, 3.00), ATL: Hanson (10-3, 2.65)

Key Game: Friday’s game will be pivitol for both teams. For the Braves, it will be a way to end the Phillies win streak and gain an early advantage in the series. For the Phillies, JA Happ is making his first start since September 2.

Braves lead the season series 9-6 but the Phillies have taken two of the last three. The Phillies are also red hot, winners of five straight and six of their last seven. The Braves are going to want to use the advantage they had on the Phillies all season to gain some ground in the division. This is their last series against the Phillies this year and they want to make it count.

The Braves will be putting up three of their better pitchers on the mound but so will the Phillies. Every game is expected to be low scoring and a pitcher’s duel even though the Phillies do have one of the scariest offenses in the league and that is supported with them being first in runs scored in the NL and tenth in average. The Braves are sixth and fourth in those respective categories. The pitching has drastically improved for the Phillies as they are sixth in ERA while the Braves are third.

This is a huge series for both teams. This is a different Phillies team though. This is a team who knows what it’s like to be the best and they won’t let it up to the Braves. The Braves have nothing to lose so expect a very tough series for them. Phillies win two.

Phils Take Three In Final Mets Series

This was the last series the Phillies would play versus the Mets and they made the most of it, winning three of four. Ryan Madson blew Saturday’s game to prevent the sweep. Overall, the Phillies taking three from a poor team allowed them to keep pace in the NL East as the Marlins and Braves have not given up their fight. The magic number sits at 14.

Friday – Phillies won 4-2: Cole Hamels continued his dominant run as he went 6.2 innings, allowing a run on seven hits and a walk, striking out six. Shane Victorino had three doubles.

Saturday – Mets won 10-9: The Mets jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead but the Phillies scored big, being up 9-5 up to the eighth inning. Brett Myers surrendered three runs in that inning and then Madson gave up a two-out single and then a two-run homer to David Wright to blow the lead and eventually the game.

Sunday #1 – Phillies won 5-4: Ben Francisco and Victorino had home runs each and Kyle Kendrick pitched excellent in his first start since last year, going 7.1 innings and allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out three. Brad Lidge came in with a three run lead and allowed two, barely getting his 29th save.

Sunday #2 – Phillies won 1-0: Pedro Martinez pitched his finest outing as a Phillie, going eight innings for the first time in about three years. He allowed no runs, six hits, two walks, and struck out seven. The Phillies got the only run in the first when Jimmy Rollins scored off a Chase Utley single. Madson got the save.

Series MVP’s:
Shane Victorino: 6-15, 2 runs, 3 doubles, HR, 2 RBI
Chase Utley: 5-13, 3 runs, 2 doubles, HR, 3 RBI
Pedro Martinez: 8 IP, 0 ER/R, 6 H, 2 BB, 7 K

Next Series: Washington Nationals (50-93, 21-50 on road) @ Philadelphia Phillies (82-60, 39-32 at home)

Pitching Probables:
Tuesday: WSH: Mock (3-7, 5.75), PHI: Lee, Cl (13-11, 3.13)
Wednesday: WSH: Hernandez, L (8-10, 5.30), PHI: Blanton (9-7, 4.11)
Thursday: WSH: Martin, J (4-4, 4.29), PHI: Hamels (9-9, 4.21)

Phillies lead the series 12-3 and this is the final match up between the two teams. The Nationals are the worst team in baseball and the Phillies have to use this series to pull away further in the division. There really is no key game to this series. Just beat the Nationals is all they need to focus on.

Washington has actually had a higher team batting average than the Phillies, sitting in 4th place in the NL while the Phillies are 10th. In the runs scored department, the Phillies have climbed to being only two runs shy of retaking their NL lead and the Nats are 7th. The Phillies pitching has been much better, resting at 7th in ERA while the Nats are last in the NL in ERA .

This should be a sweep and it will be a sweep. This is the time where the Phillies should not be worrying about their closer problems and just put teams away.

9th Inning Woes

It seems that no matter who pitches in the ninth inning, the Phillies cannot close out baseball games. Brad Lidge has blown 10 saves this year and his supposed replacement, Ryan Madson, just blew his sixth save Saturday night versus the Mets.

With two outs and nobody on in the top of the ninth, Madson gave up a single to Fernando Tatis and then a two-run go ahead home run to David Wright, giving the Mets the 10-9 lead and victory. Madson is 1-3 with a 7.82 ERA and 7 saves in 13 save opportunities this season. Opponents have hit .352 against him.

My argument for Brett Myers came to a screeching hault as he put the Mets back in the game. He came in the eigth and only last a third of the inning, giving up a two-run bomb to Wright and another run that Chan Ho Park inherited.

So who does this leave us with? We’re still waiting for JC Romero to get back so he could be a set up man and no one else in the pen has any good closer experience. The Phillies don’t want to turn to a young arm in Andrew Carpenter to close. Lidge is a headcase, Madson and Park suck, and Myers isn’t ready yet.

People, I am officially stumped. The only solution is for the offense to score a lot of runs and the starting pitching to go seven innings a game and not give up five runs a start. Cliff Lee needs to pitch better, JA Happ needs to get healthy, Joe Blanton needs to recover from that bad start the other day and Cole Hamels needs to maintain his dominance he’s shown his past few starts.