Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Tag Archives: Atlanta Braves

Phils Land Pence

After months of talk about adding a right-handed bat, the Phillies have finally added the piece that will put them over the top.

Pence provides the right-handed bat that the Phillies have coveted. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)

Reports are saying that the Phillies have landed Houston Astros outfielder Hunter Pence. In exchange for Pence, the team will be sending pitching prospect Jarred Cosart and first baseman Jonathan Singleton and two lesser prospect to be named later.

The deal was made without parting with Domonic Brown or Vance Worley, two popular fan-favorites.

There had been talk for the last week that the Phillies were interested in acquiring Pence. The pursuit had really kicked up a notch over the last two days as the team had made it clear that they would do just about anything to acquire Pence.

They are getting a player in Pence that is hitting .309 with 11 home runs and 62 RBIs. He has also scored 49 runs and added seven stolen bases.

He is a career .290 hitter and has hit 25 home runs each year from 2008-2010. Pence also has 56 outfield assists, proving that he is an above average defender.

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Five teams to watch in the 2nd half

Atlanta catcher Brian McCann (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

With the second half of the 2011 season underway yesterday, division races, Wild Card races and the push for the best record in baseball begin to heat up. With just under 100 games out of the way, five teams jump out as the favorites to make the playoffs and do some serious damage in their respective leagues.

There really are no new teams in this year’s hunt. The Reds have stumbled in the first half of the season but are still four games out of first place in the NL Central. The Philadelphia Phillies and San Francisco Giants are riding their pitching to the best two records in the league.

In the American League, the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays are back at their three-way fight for the division and Wild Card while the Central and West are up in the air for two teams each: Cleveland/Detroit and Texas/Los Angeles.

The Wild Cards for each league will also present some interesting match-ups. Atlanta will have to battle with the NL Central if they can’t overcome Philadelphia and the Yanks/Sox/Rays may have some competition.

So with that, here are five teams to watch. This is not a Top 5 post but five teams who could make some serious noise in the second half of the regular season.

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Uggla Outscores Phils, 3-2

A frustrated Roy Halladay sits in the dug out inbetween innings of the Phils 3-2 loss in Atlanta. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

And the struggles against the Braves continue…

Dan Uggla’s line drive home run to left field in the bottom of the eighth broke the 2-2 tie and gave the Braves the 3-2 win on Civil Rights Day. The Phillies have now lost the last two series against the Braves and trail th season series, 5-4.

Both teams wore 1974 retro jerseys to honor Hank Aaron’s record breaking 715th home run to pass Babe Ruth. While Roy Halladay looked great in the powder blue jersey, he looked even better on the mound, scattering eight hits in eight innings pitched and allowing just three runs.

However, Halladay ran into some bad luck today and took the complete game loss for the second straight game. Read more of this post

Series Preview: vs Atlanta Braves

PHI: 21-9, 1st in NL East; ATL: 18-15, 3rd in NL East

When: April May 6-8
Where: Citizens Bank Park (Philly, PA)

Probable Pitchers
Friday: Cliff Lee (2-2, 3.66) vs. Derek Lowe (2-3, 3.72)
Saturday: Kyle Kendrick (1-2, 2.08) vs. Julio Teheran (0-0, -.–)
Sunday: Cole Hamels (4-1, 2.66) vs. Jair Jurrjens (3-0, 1.52)

Broadcast Info
Friday, 7:05, TCN
Saturday, 7:05, PHL 17
Sunday, 8:00, ESPN
All Games on 1210 AM

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Lee rocked in loss

It was Cliff Lee’s turn.

Only days after Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton were blown up in early exits, Lee got bounced in the fourth as the Atlanta Braves took the first of many meetings between the two teams, 6-3.

The wheels for Lee quickly fell off. Atlanta scored three runs in the second inning when Jason Heyward led off with a triple before being driven in my Carlos Gonzalez’s RBI double. Martin Prado then drove in Gonzalez and rookie Freddie Freeman to tie the game up at three apiece.

It got worse for the lefty two innings later when he could only manage to record one out before being yanked. Lee hit Freeman and allowed two more singles to load the bases before Chipper Jones hit a bases-clearing double to make it 6-3. Brian McCann followed up with a single and Lee was yanked.

Lee’s final line was 3 1/3 innings pitched, six runs on 10 hits with a walk and three strike outs.

But the bull pen stopped the bleeding once again to keep the Phils in the game. Kyle Kendrick pitched 1 2/3 while allowing only a hit and walk. Antonio Bastardo was absolutely filthy, allowing one hit and striking out six straight batters. J.C. Romero pitched a scoreless eighth.

Atlanta’s Jones had two hits in the game. His second hit was the 2,500th in his career. If Jones can play and be effective in two more seasons after this, he may join the very exclusive 3,000 hit club.

Jones was one of four Braves to have multi-hit games. Prado (3-for-5, Nate McLouth (2-for-5) and McCann (2-4) all contributed in big ways and Jones had three RBIs.

Ben Francisco continued his hot start, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a double. Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz also had two-hit games.

The Phils play tomorrow at 1:oo PM on FOX. Roy Oswalt will face Brandon Beachy.

2B: Francisco (2).

WP: Hudson (1-1). LP: Lee (2-0). S: Kimbrel (3).


Series Preview: Atlanta Braves

PHI: 5-1; ATL: 3-4
When: April 8-10
Where: Turner Field (Atlanta, GA)

Probable Pitchers
Friday: Cliff Lee (1-0, 3.86) vs. Tim Hudson (1-0, 1.29)

Saturday: Roy Oswalt (1-0, 3.00) vs. Brandon Beachy (1-0, 1.50)
Sunday: Cole Hamels (0-1, 20.25) vs. Derek Lowe (1-1, 0.77)

Broadcast Info
Friday, 7:05, PHL 17

Saturday, 1:10, FOX
Sunday, 1:35, PHL 17
All Games on 1210 AM

Player to Watch – RF Jason Heyward:

In two straight seasons, Jason Heyward homered on Opening Day. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Heyward had a great rookie campaign last year, proving to the majors he was ready to take on this level of pitching.

But now with a year under his belt, Heyward has the pressure of avoiding that sophomore slump, cutting down the strike out numbers and turning into a dangerous and patient hitter the Braves hope he is for the next decade.

The 21-year-old New Jersey native is batting .250 with two homers and five RBIs from the six-spot to start the season with the Braves. But last season, Heyward struggled in his 13 games against the Phils, batting .163 (7-for-43) with a homer and two RBIs (the homer was a game-winner off Ryan Madson early in the season).

Philly will look to continue their success against Heyward as he will look to get his season underway against a division rival.

Overview: The Braves are the team to beat in the NL East… if you’re an idiot like Buster Olney. With the Braves off to a slow start and the Phils offense on fire, it should be interesting to see how the first match up of these two NL East front-runners goes.

The Phillies offensive surge could have come thanks to playing in their band box of a park at CBP. Turner Field is spacious and balls get lost in the outfield if hit over the fielder’s heads. But the Phils have played some serious small ball, homering only five times to start the season while leading the league with 56 singles and second in the NL with 43 runs.

Wilson Valdez (.429 avg, 3 2B, 5 RBI) and Ben Francisco (.320, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI) have silenced the critics on whether they could fill the holes left by the injured Chase Utley and the departed Jayson Werth. Ryan Howard is also off to a freakishly hot start, batting .480 with three doubles, two homers and eight RBIs.

Catcher Brian McCann is off to a great start for the Braves, hitting .423 with five RBIs and newly acquired second baseman Dan Uggla has homered twice. Atlanta also has Chipper Jones playing solid to start. They just need All-Star Martin Prado and Heyward to turn it on.

Cole Hamels will be in need of a desperate bounce-back game on Sunday. He was shelled in Tuesday’s loss to the Mets and will hope to feast on a struggling Braves offense to get him in line with the rest of the aces.

This series will be the first test for the Phils. They can either keep up the hot start and gain some early distance on Atlanta or they could fall back to earth against a strong pitching team. The action starts tonight at 7:05 with Cliff Lee on the hill.

And for some bonus stuff, here is a little stroll down memory lane: