PHILADELPHIA — An ex-Astro hitting for the Phillies took an ex-Phillie pitching for the Astros deep in walk-off fashion.
Hunter Pence recovered from a near-costly fielding miscue earlier in the game with a solo home run in the bottom of the 10th off Brett Myers, his second of the game, to win the game for the Phillies, 4-3.
The win was the third straight for the Phillies, their first three-game winning streak all season. It was also their first series sweep, though a two-gamer, of the season.
Pence’s error in the bottom of the 9th nearly cost the Phillies the game.
Chad Qualls had already allowed a run to score in the 9th inning, cutting the Phillies lead to 3-2. It was then that the wheels nearly fell off for the Phillies bullpen once again.
Phils RF Hunter Pence steals second base against his former team. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
For the first time since being traded to the Phillies back on July 29, 2010, Roy Oswalt stepped foot on the hill at Minute Maid Park.
But this time, he was walking to and from a different dugout.
Unlike many shut outs and gems tossed in this park, that wasn’t the story tonight for Oswalt. His former team jumped all over him as the Astros beat the Phils, 5-1.
Much like many nights, the Phils jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the 2nd inning when Pete Orr drove in Raul Ibanez. But that was all the offense the Phils could muster off Brett Myers and it gave the Astros offense a chance to get to Oswalt.
Question: Was Pat Gillick responsible for the Phillies current success as a franchise and perenial power in Major League Baseball?
Writer Brian Jacobs decided challenge the rest of the Faceoff competitors with this question and John Russo, reeling from his loss to Christian Hetrick, wanted to get himself in the win column.
The Philadelphia Phillies formed a new brand of baseball in the city of Philadelphia during the 2000’s. In 2005, Pat Gillick joined the front office, and the Phillies took off from there.
Former general manager of the Phillies, Ed Wade, brought in the big bat of Jim Thome to go along with the new stadium, Citizens Bank Park, in 2004. Most Phillies fans wouldn’t hesitate to smash Wade and those horrific seasons under his watch, but a small portion of credit should be given to him.
Former Phils GM and HOFer Pat Gillick helped bring a championship to Philadelphia for the first time in 25 years and the first World Series in 28 years.
With Gillick at the helm and new scenery, the fans had a taste of something they were deprived of for years, which was change. Are the Phillies going become a winning team? What are our expectations now? Those were the questions, asked by fans of the club during this time of change.
Gillick’s first big move was trading Jim Thome and cash to the Chicago White Sox for Aaron Rowand and two prospects. Thome’s time in Philadelphia was somewhat symbolic. It was almost as if his stay in the city was simply used as a jolt of electricity that the city was in need of.
Along with the players on the field and the front office, Gillick created a feeling of hope and positive expectations for Phillies fans to bask in. The Phillies were no longer going to accept defeat. They were finally sick of seeing the Atlanta Braves at the top of the division.
Once again, a few pats on the back should be given to Ed Wade. Gillick inherited the future stars, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, whom Wade had drafted. Gillick then brought over the rule-five selection, Shane Victorino, along with the battered bat of Jayson Werth. We all know how that turned out. Gillick looked like a genius and he wasn’t done.
The Phillies finally entered the post-season, but failed to get past the Colorado Rockies in the National League Division Series. In the offseason, Gillick made a trade with the man he had replace, Ed Wade, who was, and still is with the Houston Astros organization. In came Brad Lidge and his soon-to-be perfect season. Thanks again, Ed Wade.
The Phillies went on to win the World Series in 2008 and they’ve been knocking on the door ever since.
A lot of times, players receive most of the credit for a successful season. General managers sometimes get slighted, but I have a feeling that Pat Gillick and his master plan, as the Philadelphia Phillies’ general manager will find a way into the hearts of fans if it hasn’t already.
Three huge things have factored into the recent success of the Philadelphia Phillies before Pat Gillick even stepped in as GM: the farm system, Scott Rolen and the new stadium.
I’ll attack the more logical reason first. The Phillies farm system was teeming with talent. Before Gillick was GM, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels were playing minor league ball. They had Pat Burrell, Brett Myers and Jimmy Rollins already up on the Phils.
But you will bring up Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth being acquired along with Pedro Feliz and Brad Lidge. Werth and Victorino were diamonds in the rough. It was a complete shot in the dark on whether or not they would make an impact.
But Rolen may actually have been the catalyst in David Montgomery and the rest of the office relinquishing their tight grip on their wallets. When offered a 10-year, $140 million contract to stay with the Phillies, arguably for life, Rolen turned it down because of squabbles in the front office because they showed no interest in winning.
Not only has Chase Utley cememted himself as the greatest Phillies second baseman of all time but he may find himself in Cooperstown one day.
Rolen was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for three scrubs and Placido Polanco, who gave way to Utley three years later and returned to the Phillies in 2010. Only months after the trade did the Phillies front office get it. They signed first baseman Jim Thome and third baseman David Bell to replace Rolen on the field and in the line up. They also traded back-up catcher Johnny Estrada for Braves starter Kevin Millwood, who threw a no-hitter during his tenure with the Phillies.
It didn’t stop there as the Phillies finally sought external help, signing players like Pedro Feliz, Adam Eaton and Freddy Garcia (don’t laugh, they were supposed to be big improvements at the time), Jamie Moyer and traded for Brad Lidge.
But the money didn’t grow on trees. In 2004, the Phillies moved into their current stadium, Citizens Bank Park. Their lowest attendance since the stadium opened was 75% capacity. And with a division win in 2007, a World Series win in 2008, a NL Pennant in 2009 and another division win and league’s best record in 2010, the Phillies are selling out games and have seen their payroll sky rocket from under $58 million in 2002 to $170 in 2011.
Gillick was a fantastic GM but the right pieces were there before he became the GM in 2005. All he did was do some minor tweaking and turn the Phillies into World Champions, finishing the job started four years before he was signed.
For seven innings, the Philadelphia Phillies showed no life. Brett Myers had his former team baffled with an efficient 85-pitch game, allowing only one earned run. In typical Phillies fashion, they made some late-inning noise.
Roy Halladay looked as if he was in post-season for through the first few innings. His pitches were pin-point and his breaking-balls were tight. Only allowing 1 earned run in the game, Halladay wasn’t the problem early in the game. He was getting no offensive support.
The Phillies got the game-winning hit by pinch-hitter John Mayberry, Jr. (Photo by John Russo)
Better late than never. In an underrated seventh inning, the Phillies put together two runs, cutting the Astros lead in half, at 4-2. Howard hit a sacrafice fly, scoring Placido Polanco, and Ibanez grounded out, scoring Jimmy Rollins. What do you know, the Phillies played a little small ball.
In the 9th inning, the Bank got loud. Three RBI-singles by Ben Francisco, Wilson Valdez and hero for the day, John Mayberry Jr. lifted the Phillies to a 5-4 victory in walk-off fashion. Ben Francisco scored the game-winning run on a bullet to center field off the bat of Mayberry Jr., sailing over Michael Bourn’s head.
“You feel bad for Doc; he’s pitching his butt off out there,” said Francisco after the game. “You make a mistake like that (E9 on Francisco) and you hope he picks you up, and he did. You want to go back and pick him up as well.”
There are still 161 games left in the season, but without a doubt, this was a hell of a way to dust off the bats and loosen the throwing arms.
“This is a special day for us, definitely,” said John Mayberry Jr., in a post game interview with Gary Matthews.
Cliff Lee will face Wandy Rodriguez in game 2 of the opening series on Saturday at 7:05 in the bank.
2B: Valdez (1). RBI: RBI: R Howard (1), R Ibanez (1), B Francisco (1), W Valdez (1), J Mayberry Jr. (1)
PHI: 0-0; HOU: 0-0 Where: Citizens Bank Park (Philadelphia, PA)
Probable Pitchers Friday: Roy Halladay (0-0, 0.0) vs. Brett Myers (0-0, 0.0) Saturday: Cliff Lee (0-0, 0.00) vs. Wandy Rodriguez (0-0, 0.00) Sunday: Roy Oswalt (0-0, 0.00) vs. J.A. Happ (0-0, 0.00)
Broadcast Info Friday, 1:05, CSN Saturday, 7:05, CSN Sunday, 1:35, MyPHL 17 All Games on 1210 AM
Player to Watch – Hunter Pence: Pence is arguably one of the most underrated players in the game and is the best player on this Astros team. He does it all. He hits home runs and average. He even stole 18 bases last season proving that he has some speed. He has hit exactly 25 home runs a season in each of the past three seasons and his RBI totals continue to increase every year. He’s a very dangerous hitter that guys like Halladay and Lee will need to watch out for especially when Michael Bourn is occupying a base.
Overview: The 2011 baseball season is finally here. Amidst a ration of injuries, the Phillies remain one of the favorites to make it to the World Series. They start off their quest at home where they will host the Houston Astros. 2010 National League Cy Young winner Roy Halladay will take to the mound for the Phillies.
It will be interesting to see how the lineup does in their first official game. For the first time in years, Jimmy Rollins will not be leading off. He will be batting third while Shane Victorino will be batting leadoff. I think this gives the Phillies more power with Rollins in the three hole. Victorino will have to be more patient than he has been in the past. He will have to take more pitches and make sure he gets on base.
Ben Francisco is also a player to keep an eye on. He tore up the Grapefruit League hitting .361 with five home runs and 14 RBIs. He will need to drive in a significant amount of runs this season if the Phillies are going to be successful. One thing I’d like to see from him is hitting off-speed pitches better than in previous years. Francisco can destroy a fastball but he needs to be a more consistent hitter against the off-speed stuff. This is his chance to step out of the bench role just as Jayson Werth did during the 2008 campaign.
The start of the regular season is very easy for the Phillies as they open up with the Astros then host the Mets at home. Opening Day will bring an opportunity for Brett Myers to “stick it” to his old club. That remains to be seen. The pitching matchups clearly favor the Phillies as they will be sending Halladay, Lee, and Oswalt to the hill against subpar competition. This series should end with many runs being scored for the home team and Doc likely won’t disappoint the Philly faithful on Opening Day.
Expectations: Aroldis Chapman throw a 373 MPH fastball. Key addition: Edgar Renteria Key loss: Orlando Cabrera Projected record: 92-70 Summary: The Cincinnati Reds were among one of the biggest surprises in baseball. In 2010, the young Reds overtook the reigning NL Central champion Cardinals and made their first postseason appearance since 1995. They have a very talented young core in 2010 NL MVP Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, and Jay Bruce. Sprinkle in veterans like Scott Rolen and Edgar Renteria and they should be back on top of the Central division. Their starting rotation is very strong and is full of veterans. Youngster flamethrowers Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto help anchor the ship. Bronson Arroyo and Travis Wood should help bring stability and gives them a very deep rotation. The Reds should get a challenge from Prince Fielder and the Brewers but no Wainwright for the Cardinals makes this division race a little less intriguing.
Expectations: The franchise folds as they realize they can’t move on without Cutter Dystra. Key Addition: Zack Greinke Key Loss: Alcides Escobar Projected Record: 87-75 Summary: The Milwaukee Brewers finished with a record of 77-85 last season but made significant moves in the offseason. After Cliff Lee, Zack Greinke was considered the runner-up prize for many teams and the Brewers landed him. They parted with a few prospects and Alcides Escobar to obtain Greinke. Greinke brings over a boatload of talent. His career numbers are 60-67 but most of that is the product of playing on a bad team. In 2009, he boasted an ERA of 2.16 and could do more of the same in the competitive NL Central. The Brewers also added outfielder Nyjer Morgan in a trade. Morgan brings over a ton of talent and a bad rap. He is famous for charging Marlins’ pitcher Chris Volstad and plowing over catchers. Morgan will challenge Carlos Gomez for the centerfield job and can provide speed at the top of the Brewers’ lineup. They have a lot to be proud of heading into this season and should contend with the Reds for the division crown.
St. Louis Cardinals
Expectations: They amputate Wainwright’s arm and find him a new one and he wins the Cy Young. Key Addition: Lance Berkman Key Loss: Adam Wainwright (Tommy John surgery) Projected Record: 83-79 Summary: The Cardinals finished second place in the Central last season and were hoping to take back the crown. But that became a little more difficult within the last month. With Adam Wainwright slated to miss the entire with Tommy John surgery, the Cardinals rotation will certainly be a lot weaker. Aside from Chris Carpenter, their starting rotation is very weak, especially when you compare it to some of the rotations around the National League. Behind Carpenter, they have Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia. Westbrook was acquired from the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline last season and signed a two-year extension. Westbrook went 4-4 with a 3.48 ERA with the Cardinals in the second half last season. Garcia had a very good rookie campaign and could be the #2 starter in the rotation. He went 13-8 with a 2.70 ERA. The young Garcia certainly has great stuff but the loss of Wainwright will just be too much. You’re replacing a Cy-Young award winner which is not easy to do. They did add Lance Berkman who should bring some more pop to their lineup. Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday should be among the most talented duos in baseball and Berkman could definitely add 60-70 RBIs to the club. But in the end, the pitching just won’t be strong enough. The Cardinals should be competitive but the other teams in the Central are very good and have made significant strides this offseason.
Chicago Cubs Expectations: Steve Bartman is finally able to show his face in the city of Chicago again. Key Addition: Matt Garza Key Loss: Derrek Lee Projected Record: 80-82
Summary: The Chicago Cubs are coming off a not-so-impressive season in which they finished in fifth place. They turned around and pulled off a blockbuster trade to acquire pitcher Matt Garza. Garza will help to anchor a solid Cubs rotation that also includes Carlos Zambrano and Ryan Dempster. Garza was 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA in 2010 for a first place Tampa Bay Rays team. They also let aging first baseman Derrek Lee walk in free agency. They signed another former Ray in first baseman Carlos Pena. Pena is a career .241 hitter and brings some much-needed power to the Cubs lineup. In the past four seasons, Pena has hit 144 home runs and knocked in 407 RBIs. If Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez can be solid contributors along with Pena, the Cubs could stay alive in the Central. However I just don’t think they have enough offense to keep up.
Houston Astros Expectations: Ed Wade trades with a team other than the Phillies. Key Addition: Clint Barmes Key Loss: Matt Lindstrom Projected Record: 72-86 Summary: For the first time in eight years, the Astros Opening Day starter won’t be Roy Oswalt. It will be Brett Myers. Perhaps that says it all about this Houston Astros team. Their starting rotation is very weak and will be led by the former Phillies hot head. Wandy Rodriguez and J.A. Happ are both very solid but don’t strike fear into opponents. Their offense can be very good at times. Carlos Lee and Hunter Pence should combine to hit around 50 home runs and knock in 175-200 runs. Michael Bourn does a great job setting the table for the Astros. He led the National League with 52 stolen bases and also scored 84 runs last year. Their infield may hurt them this season though. Their best infielder is Bill Hall. Yes Bill Hall. The youth movement in the infield features Chris Johnson at third base, Angel Sanchez at shortstop, and Brett Wallace at first base. There isn’t much major league experience there and I think there will be some growing pains this season.
Pittsburgh Pirates Expectations: What expectations? It’s the Pirates. Key Addition: Lyle Overbay Key Loss: Zach Duke Projected Record: 67-95 Summary: The Pittsburgh Pirates begin every season thinking that this year will be better than the previous one. I actually hold that to be true. Well at least by Pirates standards. While this team is very far away from being anywhere close to a successful franchise, I think they will be better this year. Their infield is very solid and should generate some excitement. They added Lyle Overbay at first base which allows Garrett Jones to move to right field. Overbay adds some nice pop to the Bucs’ lineup. Youngsters Pedro Alvarez and Neil Walker will turn some heads this season. Alvarez will get to start the year with the big club and could hit 25 home runs for a struggling Pirates team. Walker hit well last season and ended up with a .281 average. He will likely be hitting third in the Pirates lineup and could hit between 75-90 RBIs before the year is through. Andrew McCutchen, Jose Tabata, and Jones round out a very talented outfield. Former Brave Matt Diaz will be coming off the bench. The rotation as usual, is the downfall of the team. Kevin Correia, Paul Maholm, and Ross Ohlendorf will be the top three starters for the Pirates. It’s safe to say that the Pirates could actually be decent one day if they got some good pitching.
J.A. Happ was good and Michael Bourn’s only hit was the one that mattered. The lefty shut down his former team and Bourn’s solo shot in the sixth was key as the Astros beat the Phillies for the third straight time this series by a score of 3-2.
Happ went 6 1/3 innings while allowing two runs on five hits and two walks while striking out four. It was his fourth win of the season. Both he and Brett Myers were victorious over their former teams who drafted them and saw them go through their farm system.
Bourn’s solo home run in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie created by the Phillies in the fifth. Chris Johnson and Humberto Quintero both had two hits on the game with Quintero’s being the winner in the seventh. Hunter Pence homered in the fourth inning to break up Roy Halladay’s early perfect game.
Halladay was great in his start, going seven innings and allowing three runs on six hits while striking out six. His perfect game was broken up in the fourth while Happ’s no-hit bid was lost in the fifth off of Jayson Werth’s lead-off homer.
Werth homered in the fifth and Placido Polanco doubled in Doc in the sixth to provide the Phillies with their only offense of the night.
Both Atlanta and San Francisco lost today to keep the Phillies 2 1/2 games back in the division and tied with the Giants for the wild card spot. It was the ninth straight day the Phillies and Braves matched each other for wins and losses.
Brett Myers “stuck it” to the Phils. He backed up his comments in the off season as he limited the Phillies offense to two runs as the Astros beat Philly 3-2 Monday night.
Myers allowed only two runs in seven innings of work. He gave up those two runs on nine hits and one walk while striking out nine. In his last nine starts, Myers has allowed more than two earned runs only once.
It looked as though Joe Blanton was going to get the win with the way Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge have been pitching. But Madson allowed two runs in the eighth on a two-run single by Carlos Lee, coughing up the 2-1 lead to Houston.
Blanton got out of a jam in the first inning thanks to defense. With a run already in for Houston, Chase Utley made a great throw at the plate to hold it the score and Jayson Werth followed that up with a sliding catch in right. He wound up allowing a run on five hits and striking out nine in seven innings.
Carlos Ruiz hit a solo home run to tie the ball game in the third after Blanton had a rough first inning. They later added a run in that inning to give Blanton a 2-1 cushion. Then the bull pen faltered.
The “Land of Misfit Phils” as I like to call them, the Houston Astros and former Phillies GM Ed Wade sure love to collect Phillies. It’s almost as if Wade still thinks he’s with the Phillies organization, picking up any crumbs that fall off the table.
There are currently five players on the Astros that were all previously on the Phillies roster. They are pitchers Nelson Figueroa, Brett Myers, and J.A. Happ and outfielders Michael Bourn and Jason Michaels. Infielder Pedro Feliz and catcher Chris Coste were also on their roster within the past year.
Here’s a look at where these players’ careers have gone since they parted with the Phillies:
Figueroa: Nelly was actually on the Phillies roster this season. The pitcher was designated for assignment earlier in the year, took his assignment in Lehigh and was then called back up. After being DFA’d for a second time, the Astros acquired him and he has been in their bull pen since then. Figueroa has a 2.42 ERA in 10 games (22.1 IP) with the Astros after a decent stint with Philadelphia.
Myers: Myers was unhappy with his banishment from the Phillies. He plans on “sticking it” to the team that drafted him 12th overall in the 1999 amateur draft. Myers had a successful stint with the Phillies, 73-63 record and a solid 4.40 ERA. He was even the team’s closer in 2007 when they made the playoffs for the first time in 14 years and was a key contributor to the 2008 World Series team. But his off-field antics of hitting his wife and bar fights and a lazy approach to getting in shape were the final straw for the Phillies brass as they opted to not re-sign him in the off season.
Happ: Happ was supposed to be one of the future arms for the Phillies. The lefty enjoyed a great rookie campaign last season in which he came second in NL Rookie of the Year voting. But a late season start due to injuries allowed the Phillies to use him as the primary bargaining chip in acquiring Roy Oswalt before the deadline. He had good stuff but nothing special. There is a good chance he never turns into anything more than a #3 pitcher but Houston was willing to take that risk.
Bourn: Bourn was sent to the ‘Stros as a part of the Brad Lidge trade and it appeared the Phillies would run away from that deal laughing. Bourn was never anything more than a base stealer and fielding replacement in Philly. He has turned into a good player for the ‘Stros and player they are hoping to try and build a good team around along with Hunter Pence.
Michaels: Michaels was nothing more than a bench player for the Phillies. He has found himself in a similar role with the Astros as well. His most memorably moment with the Phillies wasn’t exactly a positive one. He was going back for a fly ball, bobbled it, and wound up knocking it over the fence for a home run in Jose Canseco fashion.