Monday, September 22, 2008

Why Ryan Howard Will Be MVP

Ryan Howard has had what could be considered one of the best offensive starts to a career that has ever been seen. In only 566 games a Philadelphia Phillie, Howard has racked up a whopping 175 home runs, 494 RBIs and a .533 slugging percentage. Most importantly though is Howard's production in the late months of the season. In his short career, he has 42 dingers in the months of Sept/Oct with 106 RBIs. Which only slightly bests his August numbers of 33 HRs and 100 RBIs.

Clearly Howard is turning into a clutch player down the stretch for the Philadelphia Phillies and he has homered his way into talks now for the NL MVP. Fortunately for him though it might be easier than he thinks to win the award for the second time.

Most of his critics argue that he is only hitting .249 on the season and that his defense is less than desirable even at this point in his career, but can we discount the fact that he single handily has put this team on his back and carried them to what appears to be a playoff berth.

Howard is currently hitting .348 in the month of September with 9 homers and 27 RBIs. Not bad in 69 at bats.

His contenders for the MVP award on the other hand, might have much better overall numbers but they are struggling to stay in contention if not out of it already.

Albert Pujols is having a stellar year. Hitting .349 for the season with 34 home runs and 106 RBIs. How can we dismiss the fact though that his team in a mere 5 games over .500 and out of the playoff hunt sitting 14.5 games back.

Carlos Delgado is having a monster end to the season as well. Hitting .361 in the month of September with 7 homers and 17 RBIs, he has managed to come up big in some clutch situations for the Mets as they continue to fight for a playoff spot.

David Wright is another name that looms in the MVP race. Hitting .297 on the season, Wright has a respectable 32 home runs and 118 RBIs but will probably fall short once again because his numbers aren't as glaring as Delgado's at this point in the season.

So why will Howard win the MVP?

Ryan Howard should and will win the MVP for the following reasons.
1. Howard leads the league in Home Runs by 8 and by the end of the week could break 50.
2. Howard's 141 RBI's is 23 higher than any of the MVP contenders.
3. Despite Howard's poor batting average, he has managed to turn it on when his team needed and is hitting .282 since July 1st.
4. Howard has picked his entire offense up and carried them towards what appears to be a NL East title baring the outcome of the last 6 games of the season.
5. Finally Howard continues to be a team player despite the fact that the foolish Philadelphia ownership refuses to acknowledge the lasting potential of this offensive phenom. Howard has continued to play the good guy as Philadelphia Execs have yet to extend his contract.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Manuel Losing His Team - Phils Lose Lead.

Since July 1st the Philadelphia Phillies have had a busy month. They've played nineteen games in 25 days which included a four day break for the All-Star game. Even with the four day grace period they only managed to post a 10-9 record. After the most recent series with the New York Mets, they also saw their 1st place lead slip out of their hands. Those same Mets have posted a 15-6 record including a 10 game win streak that allowed them to pick up the 5 games on the Phillies that they trailed at the beginning of the month. The Mets now sit atop the NL East with a 1 game lead.

What's Wrong?

Well in the midst of an All-Star break, the Phillies acquired Joe Blanton from the Oakland Athletics, demoted and then brought back up starter Brett Myers, and shaken up the lineup on more than one occasion to try to spark the offense. Unfortunately none of this has worked so far.

Chase Utley has all but disappeared from the lineup with a .243 batting average and only 5 RBIs this month, it looks like the MVP three peat could be in jeopardy if he doesn't snap out of it quick.

Jimmy Rollins is slowly becoming a poor MVP as he was benched for the second time this season because of his inability to take the game seriously. Especially after being ridiculed heavily for his inability to score from first in Sunday's loss to the Marlins.

Manager Charlie Manuel has managed to get his team in such a funk that they seem to be disinterested in competing. At this point he appears to be over-managing the games in hopes of getting lucky. Unfortunately for the fans, Manuel isn't all that good at managing regularly, so the idea of over-managing is scary.

He's appears to be so lost that after benching Rollins for the game on Thursday, he had him pinch hit against Billy Wagner who Rollins has never connected off of. If he was planning on using Rollins at all as a pinch hitter, the appropriate time would have been in the eighth against Aaron Heilman with two men on instead of Jason Werth who struggles against right handed pitching.

Manuel is floundering at this point and appears unable to motivate a team that appears to have let MVP awards and a first place lead get in their heads. The Phils need to snap out of it quick, and it's up to Charlie to make it happen.

The only bright spot would be Ryan Howard who has officially swung his way out of his slump. With a .308 BA so far in July, Howard has hammered 9 home runs and 20 RBIs, bringing his season average up to .234.

Needless to say, this weekend's series against the Atlanta Braves is key to getting the team back on track. With the Mets heading to St. Louis and Florida over the next week, the Phils should have the opportunity to take back the NL East lead, but they will have to earn it. Anyone who is banking on another Mets collapse is out to lunch and should probably come back to reality.

Only time will tell..

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Phillies Spiraling. Who's To Blame?

The Philadelphia Phillies entered the 2008 season as the team to beat in the National League East, and right now that's just what they've become, a team to beat up on.

After a pitiful showing at the end of June against the American League teams. The Phils hoped to bounce back from their 3-9 interleague stint and looked forward to getting back to playing National League teams. Last week they amazed us with a strong showing in Atlanta, sweeping the Braves in convincing fashion. Friday night continued to run as they took the first game from the Mets in their four game series. Then things turned once again.

The Phils have lost four straight after last night's shutout loss to the Cardinals. That game marked the third time the Phils had been shutout in their own building this season. Losing ground in the standings to both the Marlins and the Mets, the Phils now cling to a 1.5 game lead in the NL East over both Florida and New York.

So what is the problem in the City of Brotherly Love?

On June 1, the Phils had a commanding lead in the NL East with a record of 33-25. Eight games over .500 and looking dominant over divisional rivals. A little over a month later, they stand at 48-43, only 5 games over .500 and watching their control of the division slowly slip away.

Is it lack of control by the manager?

Charlie Manuel seems to have been unable to control not only Brett Myers pitching but also his mouth, as he spouted off about not being committed to starting after being sent to the minors. Manuel seems to have lost something with the players as well this season. As the team seems to be in la-la land most of the time and not truly having fun as the game should be played.

And who can forget the hypocritical move he made this week by packing it in against the Mets on Monday, and pulling his all-star second basemen in the sixth while down by eight. Unfortunately the Phils came one run short of tying that game maybe Manuel should bench himself for giving up, just as he did with his MVP earlier this season.

Is it the players?

No one thought that Chase Utley would be able to maintain the numbers that he was posting at the beginning of the season all year. After a long hitless streak, he seems to have worked out whatever ailed him in June and looks to be back to form in July.

The rest of the team though seems to be leaking like a siv.
  • Pat Burrell's number have slowly started to drop off as the season progresses. At the end of April Pat stood with 25 RBIs and has only 29 in the 2 plus months since.
  • Jimmy Rollins seems to be stuck on the idea of being the MVP and not focusing on what got him there. While his steals are remaining steady. His average and power numbers are down from last season, and has only 29 RBIs thus far.
  • Ryan Howard seems to be the all or nothing player for the Phils. His average is up from earlier in the season, and his on base percentage is climbing back but he is on pace to destroy the strikeout record as he has 124 a week before the break. Howard appears to either strikeout or score runs, no middle ground.

Is it the GM?

Phillies fan love to point fingers at the General Manager in these types of situations, especially this close to the trade deadline so it's not possible to let Pat Gillick off without a second look.

The Phils in obvious need of another starter have send C.C. Sabathia and now Rich Harden, both get dealt to teams before the All Star break. This race for starting pitching will only heat up as the trade deadline draws near and if Gillick doesn't do something soon, the Phils could wind up with another third or fourth starter on their team instead a solid two to back up Hamels.

There are many things that we can look to for the Phils recent struggles. A collection of all isn't going to win any championship and is now threatening to stop them from winning the division. It's time to right this ship, and the All Star break couldn't come at a better time.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Phillies: Interleague Recap

In the Philadelphia Phillies second round of inter league play this season they showed that it will take more than National League numbers to win a World Series.

Opening up their week against the AL East leading Boston Redsox proved only that the have one prominent pitcher in their five man rotation as Cole Hamels shut down the Red Sox offense. Hamels allowed 8 hits and 2 runs as the Phils offense hit early and often and put up 8 runs against Bartolo Colon who had to leave the game after four innings because of back spasms caused by a ridiculous looking at bat. Rollins connected for a first inning home run and Howard connected for two in the 6 run rout of the AL leading Bosox.

Tuesday night, the Phils faced one of the Red Sox top young pitchers in Jon Lester and it proved to be to much for the Phightins. The Phils managed 7 hits off Red Sox pitching but no runs. Boston on the other hand managed to score 2 runs off starting pitcher Jamie Moyer and tacked on one more run later in the game to cap off a 3-0 win to tie the series at one.

The Phils would send Kyle Kendrick to the mound on Wednesday to try and win the series. Kendrick though wouldn't bring his best stuff to the afternoon rubber match. Boston managed to tag Kendrick for four runs in the first and after allowing two more runs in the third, Kendrick was pulled and the rout was on. The Phils managed to fight back just a bit, but fell short and lost the series and the game by a score of 7-4. Chase Utley played all three games of this series and went without a hit.

The Phils would have on off day on Thursday and would host the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim. Unfortunately for the Phils they seemed to be in space throughout the weekend as the dropped all three games to LA. The Phils only managed to score five runs in the series and allowed 15. This week has proven that the Phils will need to look to the trade market to improve if they will look to win a World Series against one of these AL opponents.

In losing five straight the Phillies have managed to continue to cling to a one run lead in the NL East. The head on the road for the rest of their inter league stint and they visit Oakland and Texas. The Phils will have to have a positive west coast road trip, as they head down to Atlanta before the come back to Philly to face the Mets for four games over fourth of July weekend.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Phillies-Red Sox: Phil's lineup pounds the nation

I find it only fitting that I return from a short hiatus to document the invasion of Red Sox nation into Philadelphia so that it can be accounted first hand.

Last night the "Nation" invaded it's latest city as the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox opened a three game set of inter-league play in Philly on Monday night. The game featured the Phils ace, Cole Hamels against an obviously out of shape Bartolo Colon.

The Sox have been facing the injury bug as of late and entered the series without Big Papi, Daisuke, Curt Schilling and Kevin Youklis so the idea that the Phils were facing the "real" Sox would be brought up numerous times throughout the night.

Unfortunately for the Red Sox, the Phils offense put everyone's mind to rest as it took off right from the get go.

Jimmy Rollins started the game off quick with a lead off home run that quieted many of the visiting Red Sox fans who tried to out cheer the Philadelphia natives. Three batters later, Ryan Howard hit an opposite field shot to extend the lead to 3-0 before the end of the first. The Phils would add another run in the third inning off Ryan Howards second home run of the night.

Hamels proved to be a strong ace for the staff and didn't allow a run to the Sox potent offense until the fifth inning when Dustin Pedroia and JD Drew went back to back bringing the score to 4-2. That would be all the Sox would muster against Hamels though who went 7 strong innings for the Phils.

Philadelphia's offense would all but put the game away in the sixth as the Phils put four more runs on the board against Mike Timlin and capped off a series win in what many are calling a potential World Series Preview.

Although the Phillies probably won't face the "real" Red Sox during this home stand as many of their stars face injuries, they are making a strong statement for their push to the playoffs. Of course they still have two games left against the Sox and then take on the Angels in the weekend series, so time will tell if this team has what it takes.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Phils Weekend Recap: Regain Control Of NL East

After missing an entire week of baseball due to the birth of my new daughter, I have made it back just in time to recap the Phils weekend series with the Marlins as they regained, lost and regained again the lead in the NL East by a half a game.

Friday night, the Phils not only continued their offense streak from the week that saw them average 12 runs a game against Rockies, but also saw a shed of light from pitcher Brett Myers. After giving up three runs in the first inning to the Marlins, Myers settled down nicely and pitched eight strong innings striking out 11. The Phils offense managed 10 runs against the Marlin's starter Mark Hendrickson, and two more against the pen. Friday moved the Phils into first by a half game over the fish. Unfortunately the lead would only last a day.

Saturday, Cole Hamels looked to recover from potentially his worst start of his career the earlier in the week, in which he only went four runs. The Marlins had other plans and in five and two thirds innings of work scored seven runs off Hamels. The Marlin's Ricky Nolasco became the first pitcher in a week to hold the Phils offense in check and only allowed two earned runs in six and two thirds. The Phils would only manage one more run and dropped their first game in five and relinquished the NL East lead once again.

Luckily for the Phils, Sunday would prove to be a step back in the right direction. Jamie Moyer took the mound for the Phils as they honored Mike Lieberthal at Citizen's Bank Park, who became a Phillie for one more day, just long enough to retire. Moyer, struggled early for the Phils and by the third innings was in a 5-1 hole. The Phils managed to crawl back into the game though with home runs by Chase Utley, who now extends the league lead to 20, and Geoff Jenkins who hit his fifth dinger of the season. It was in the seventh inning though that Pat Burrell's two RBI double would score the eventual game winning runs and secure first place once again for the Phils.

The Phils will host the Cincinnati Reds this week for four games. Ken Griffey Jr. comes in with 599 home runs as he looks to break into the 600 club, while Chase Utley leads all NL Allstar vote getters and looks to continue his home run lead.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Phillies Weekend Recap: Split With 'Stros

The Philadelphia Phillies finished off a four game set against the Houston Astros that ended in a split of the series. After Thursdays big win to lead off the series the Phils struggled through games two and three.

Although they managed to get solid starting pitching out of both Adam Eaton and Brett Myers, the offense couldn't muster more than three runs a game.

Friday, Eaton went deep into the game and it cost the Phillies as he pitched 8 innings giving up two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth after earlier coughing up a fifth inning home run to Hunter Pence. The Phils offense managed to come within one run in the top of the ninth, but Shane Victorino flied out to end the game with runners on second and third.

Saturday's game ended in even more disappointing fashion as Brett Myers gave up four runs to the Astros again only going six innings for the Phils. For the second night in a row the Phils struggled to crack the pitching but in the ninth inning managed to plate two runs to bring the game within one run. Unfortunately for the Phils, the game ended with another Victorino fly out, except this time it was with only one out but Pedro Feliz attempted to score the tying run on the fly out and the game ended in a double play off a excellent throw by Darin Erstad.

Fortunately for the Phils, the offense showed up on Sunday. With Cole Hamels on the mound, the game appeared to be a lock as Hamels was ridding a 19 inning scoreless streak. Hamels though didn't bring his best stuff to Houston and was rocked for six runs in four innings. It looked like there would be no way to crack this Houston team until the fifth inning as the Phils started an eleven run two inning rally and piled on 15 runs total. The bullpen pitched strong, not allowing another Astro to score thus completing the series for the Phils with a 15-6 win.

Monday the Phils head home and face the Colorado Rockies for three games. The Rockies have placed key players on the DL as of late, including just recently Matt Holliday.

The Phils now sit 2.5 games back in the NL East still tied for second with Atlanta behind the surprising Florida Marlins.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Phillies-Astros: Howard Back to MVP Form

Thursday night opened a four game set between two National League contenders as the Philadelphia Phillies headed to Houston to take on the Astros. The story of both of these two teams has pretty much been the same all year. Good offense, shaky starting pitching, solid bullpen that has managed to keep them in games this year. Both teams fighting to regain the top spot in their division. Luckily for the Phillies, their starting pitching has been on a bit of a run as late and would look to Kyle Kendrick to continue their bid for first.

Kendrick's start was a bit rocky for the Phils as he allowed a run in each of the first two innings. The first off of a Lance Berkman double to bring home Miguel Tejada, and the second off a sac-fly from Brad Ausmus to plate Hunter Pence.

Thankfully the Phils did expend all their offense in the 12-2 route of the Nationals the night before and managed to put of 4 runs in the first three innings against Roy Oswalt who was on the mound for the 'Stros.

Carlos Ruiz singled in the second inning to bring home Ryan Howard to get the game started for the offense. In the third the Phils posted a 3 spot win RBIs from Howard, Pedro Feliz, and Geoff Jenkins to take a 4-2 lead after the third.

Neither team managed a run in the fourth and in the fifth, Ryan Howard led off the inning with his 13th home run of the season, his third in two games and this third hit of the night for the Phils.

Kendrick though ran into trouble in the bottom of the sixth inning. After plunking Carlos Lee, he allowed Hunter Pence to single, who was followed by a Ty Wiggington double to bring home the two base runners. Kendrick was yanked from the game with a 5-4 lead, but that would be quickly erased as Geoff Blum would single to left allowing Wiggington to score to even up the game.

Both teams turned the game over to the bullpen and it would be up to the relievers to determine the outcome of this game.

Fortunately for the Phils, the Astros pen was a little more off then they were. In the top of the eighth, Pat Burrell led off the inning with a pinch hit home run to take the lead and supply the eventual game winning run. The Phils would tack on one more in the eighth on an RBI single from Chase Utley, and Brad Lidge came on to secure his 12th save of the season.

Friday night, the Phils send Adam Eaton to the mound against Brandon Backe. Ryan Howard is 6-10 in his last two games with 3 home runs and 6 RBIs, and is finally looking to be back in MVP form.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Phillies-Nationals: Hamels In Top Form

Cole Hamels entered Tuesday nights game against the Washington Nationals having come off a complete game shut out last week against the Atlanta Braves. His first shut out of his career and third complete game.

The Phillies entered the game as a whole looking for a spark, as they struggled to find offense against the Nationals on Monday night and were looking to put an end to their three game losing streak that found them dropping to third in the division. Coming off the 4-0 loss on Monday gave the Phils a record of 1-3 against the Nat's this season, and they needed to find a way to win against their division rival.

Hamels appeared to have the answer. For the second straight game, the Phils ace pitched 7 shutout innings striking out 11 and only allowing four hits. Hamels was taken out in the eighth inning though after throwing 110 pitches. He tossed 130 in his complete game last week and was likely on a count this week so as to not wear out his arm.

In true competitive form, Jason Bergmann for the Nationals also managed to pitch 7 scoreless innings keeping the Phils off the board for 16 consecutive innings in this series. As both teams turned the game over to the bullpen in the eighth it would be a battle of relievers. Luckily for the Phils, they won the battle.

In the top of the ninth, after a lead off double from Pedro Feliz, Gregg Dobbs singled on a line drive to center and brought home the eventual winning run. Brad Lidge entered in the bottom of the ninth and collected his 11 save of the season for the Phils.

Wednesday they send Jamie Moyer to the mound to try to win the series against the Nats and climb back to the top of the division.

Monday, May 19, 2008

To Boo Or Not To Boo, That Is The Question

Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word fanatic as "marked by excessive enthusiasm and often intense uncritical devotion". In the City of Brotherly Love, uncritical is not in our nature.

I live in Philadelphia and have been a sports fan for as long as I can remember. A die hard Eagles and Phillies fan, I have been through thick and thin with these teams. Becoming a true sports fan off the bat of Joe Carter in 1993 and with the legs of Rhonde Barber in 2003.

I believe in Booing, it's in my nature. I have booed on opening day, I have booed in the midst of a Super Bowl run. It's what we do.

As a sports fan I usually attempt to be as objective as possible when it comes to Philadelphia sports. Looking at all the angles to determine the right opinion is a difficult thing in a town like this one. With the loss of the Flyers this week, Philadelphia sports are about to incur 100 combined years without a championship. It has created a bitter group of hateful fans towards anything remotely negative and unfortunately for this town right now that negative is Ryan Howard.

In 2004, Philadelphia was graced with a new ball park and the hopes of a new future for its Phillies as they looked to rebuild and become a contender. They brought in names like Millwood, Wagner, and Thome. Brought up prospects like Floyd, Madson and Geary. None of which gave the fans the answer they were looking for.

Four years later, things are a bit different. Now Utley, Rollins and Howard have the spotlight. Hamels, Lidge and Romero bring us hope and yet Philadelphia has found something to boo. But are they directing their attention in the right spot.

Sure Ryan Howard is in the biggest slump of his short career, looking to break his own personal and major league record of strikeouts in a season which currently stands at 199. He is currently on pace to achieve 228 strikeouts this season as he sits with 64 Ks in 45 games. His average has not been over .200 since the first week of the season. Yet he has amount 10 home runs in the span which puts him on pace for 35 for the year. Not bad for a slumping season. But is it worth the $10 millions Howard is being paid this year?

How quickly fans forget the fact that Howard is the quickest player ever to reach 100 home runs and has amounted more homers in the previous two seasons than any other player. All while making the rookiee maximum of $300,000 a year. He has accomplished a feat which only two other players have in baseball history in becoming the Rookiee of the Year and MVP in consecutive seasons. In 2006 he single handily carried the Phillies to their 86 wins and brought life back to the ball park with his all time Phillies home run record.

Yet does all that give him a free pass? Unfortunately for Howard, fans in this town have a short memory. "What have you done for me lately?" seems to be the motto of this town.

How quickly we forget that Pat Burrell practically stole $60 million from this franchise, only really starting to play now that his contract is up. Burrell has consistently been booed on opening day for the past four seasons. Yet for the first time I can remember talk of All-Star ballots run through the stadium every time he steps up to the plate. How does he all of the sudden get a free pass? He has the same number of home runs as Howard and just 7 more RBIs. Does that wipe away 4 years of sub-par play?

And yet we have players like Aaron Rowand who literally bled for this town for two seasons. A hard working attitude and no concern for his body made him a fan favorite throughout the Phillies push to the playoffs in 2007. What did he get in return? A standing ovation when coming back to town as an opponent a year later.

This town is a difficult place to play any sport. A town with a short memory for some and a good memory for others. We still boo J.D. Drew when he visits town and cheer Jim Thome. Either perform or suffer the consequences, no matter what your past record has been. Booing is a choice, in this town it's a tradition.

How fanatical this all seems...

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Phils Drop Soggy Game To Blue Jays

The Philadelphia Phillies entered Sundays' game with the Toronto Blue Jays hoping to win their first inter-league series of the season. Unfortunately, the weather didn't agree with their plan and caused a few rain delays and alot of soggy baseball.

The Phils sent Kyle Kendrick to the mound on Sunday who has struggled in this early season and was looking for some semblance of stability entering the summer months. Kendrick though only pitched one inning of Sunday's rubber match due to a rain delay in the top of the second. The Phils offense managed to strike before the delay as Ryan Howard lifted a ball over the center field wall for two early runs. After the delay, Carlos Ruiz managed to add another run in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single.

The Phils Chad Durbin had shut down the Jays after the delay, but they managed to break through in the top of the fifth. Lyle Overbay single handily tied the game with a three run home run to right to bring the game to 3-3.

The bullpen woes continued for the Phils as Rudy Seanez allowed three more runs in the sixth off a two RBI double by Shannon Stewart after an intentional walk to Matt Stairs, and Rod Barajas continued his stellar weekend with an RBI single to give the Jays a 3 run lead.

The Phils tried to work their way back scoring a run in the sixth off a Chase Utley RBI double and one again in the bottom of the ninth with a solo home run from Pat Burrell. The Phils would come up short though and dropped the game 6-5 to the Blue Jays.

The Phillies currently sit in second place of the NL East and head on the road to visit divisional rival Washington Nationals.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Barajas Almost Matches Werth's Big Night

Saturday night's game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Toronto Blue Jays played out much like Friday nights game. Rod Barajas came back to Philadelphia after a difficult season trying to become the Phils starting catcher, but struggled and lost the job to Carlos Ruiz. Friday, Barajas got some payback.

After a solid first inning from Adam Eaton to start off Saturday's game, Eaton hit a batter and allowed two hits before Barajas smoked a ball over the right field fence for a grand slam and a four run lead.

Eaton would seemingly settle in with the hopes of allowing the Phils offense to battle back, but the home team struggled to get their offense going against A.J. Burnett.

In the fourth inning, Gregg Dobbs managed to get the Phils on the board with an RBI double off Burnett. The Phils added two more runs in the seventh and came within one run after a two RBI double from Jimmy Rollins.

After a scoreless eighth inning, Rod Barajas struck again and led off the top of the ninth with a solo shot to make it a two run lead again. The Blue Jays tacked on another run on a Hector Luna single and Toronto's closer, B.J. Ryan came in and shut down the Phils for the save.

The rubber match between these two teams will feature Kyle Kendrick for the Phils and Shaun Marcum for the Jays.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Myers Struggles Early and Often

Wednesday nights match up between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Atlanta Braves pitted the ageless Tom Glavine against the reeling Brett Myers. Glavine was looking to obtain his first win since returning from the DL earlier this season, and Myers was still trying to obtain his starting form, as he has struggled all season to get games in the win column.

The Braves offense started up early for the second night in a row, putting a two spot on the scoreboard in the first inning with home runs by Yunel Escobar and Chipper Jones. They tacked on another in the second when Kelly Johnson hit a home run of his own. The barrage continued in the third with a two out, two RBI double off the bat of Brian McCann in the third for a 5-0 lead.

Myers was finally pulled in the fifth inning after giving up three more earned runs. Myers loaded the bases in the top of the fifth and after Brian McCann brought home one run, Ryan Madson was brought in to stop the bleeding, but allowed two more to cross the plate off a ground ball by Gregor Blanco.

The Phils finally got to Glavine in the sixth with an RBI double from Jimmy Rollins, and fielders choice RBI from Shane Victorino and a two run home run off the bat of Chase Utley.

Unfortunately for the Phils though, the damage was done, and even though the bullpen held the Braves offense off the board after the fifth inning, they could only muster two more runs in the game. Ryan Howard hit a solo home run for his eighth of the year in the eighth inning and Jimmy Rollins had an RBI single in the ninth to bring the game to 8-6.

The Phils send Cole Hamels to the mound on Thursday to try to win the series for the Phils against Chuck James.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Werth's Bat Carries Phils

Tuesday nights game between the Atlanta Braves and the Philadelphia Phillies featured a divisional rival that poses an interesting story. An aging Braves team that spent a decade atop the NL East as the Phillies, Mets and Marlins looked up hoping for a Wild Card spot. Now the tables have turned on the Braves and they are the team striving to compete for the number one spot in the division. As the Phillies, Marlins and Mets flourish this season, the Braves are looking for a spark to get rolling. Tuesday they were looking for that spark, but unfortunately for the Braves, Jason Werth showed up in rare fashion.

The Phils sent Kyle Kendrick to the mound on Tuesday to face the Braves JoJo Reyes as Kendrick looked to bring stability to the back of the Phils rotation. Kendirick however took some time to stabilize.

In the top of the first the Braves came out firing on all cylinders. After the first two batters reached base, Chipper Jones singled to center bringing home a run. three batters later though, Jeff Francoeur hit a 2 out 2 RBI single to right giving the Braves a 3-0 lead after the first. Luckily for the Phils though, Kendrick would settle after the shaky start and began to shut down the Braves offense.

It took until the fourth inning for the Phils to put up some runs. In the bottom of the inning, Chase Utley led off with a single and was moved to third on a long double to center off the bat of Ryan Howard. Two batters later, Jason Werth hit a single up the middle and brought both Howard and Utley home to make it a one run game.

The Phils added two more in the fifth inning off an RBI single from Ryan Howard and another from Jason Werth. Werth would continue his stellar 4-4 night with a RBI single in the seventh that would bring home the eventual game winner.

Four of the five Phillies runs came off the bat of Jason Werth which helped to erase a difficult play in the bottom of the ninth when Werth allowed a ball to sail over his head and bring home a run. Luckily for Werth, Brad Lidge kept his composure after allowing the run and closed out the game for his tenth save of the season.

With the Phils win and a loss by the Marlins, the Phils are now only 1.5 games out of first in the NL East. Wednesday's match up features Brett Myers for the Phils and the ageless wonder Tom Glavine to the Braves. Jason Werth has more than likely secured himself a spot in Wednesday's lineup with a 4-4 performance, and the Phils Ryan Howard finally had a solid night going 2-4 with an RBI.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Phillies Weekend Recap: Giants Stomp Phils

Friday night the Philadelphia Phillies opened a three game set in San Fransisco with the hopes of edging the Giants in a series for the second time in a week. The Phils were riding high after their first four games in the road trip saw a split with the leagues best Arizona Diamondbacks, and although MVP front runner Chase Utley and the surprising play of Pat Burrell had cooled off, Jimmy Rollins would be back in the starting lineup for the first time in a month.

In Friday's game, the Phils sent their young ace Cole Hamels to the mound looking to increase his record to 4-3 on the year against the Giants Pat Misch. After the first six innings it appeared that this series would play out like the previous weekends in which every game came down to the last inning, including two extra inning games. Unfortunately for the Giants though the Phils managed to score three runs in the eighth giving the Phils a 7-4 lead and the win to start off the series, Hamels took the win and in his first game back, J-Roll hit a two run shot over the left field wall for his third dinger of the year.

Saturday's game however wasn't so bright for the Phils, as they faced Tim Lincecum the young right hander who went into the game with a 4-1 record. The Phils managed to score first in the second inning with a lead off home run by Ryan Howard, but Lincecum and the Giants offense would prove to be too much for the Phils. Jamie Moyer had another poor outing and gave up 6 earned runs in 4 innings and the Giants took the second game of the series by a score of 8-2.

Sunday's rubber match to determine the series winner would feature Adam Eaton on the mound for the Phils against the Giants Jonathan Sanchez, another young pitcher in the organization. Eaton who had been steady throughout the first month of the season had struggled in his last few outings and needed to get back on track to help the Phils in their winning ways. Eaton pitched well enough to win again on Sunday, giving up only 2 runs, but only going 5 innings after getting into trouble in the sixth. JC Romero however gave up 2 when the Phils had a 3-2 lead in the seventh and the Phils dropped the third game and the series to the Giants.

The Phils head home on Tuesday for a series against the Atlanta. They look to put behind them a losing road trip in which Chase Utley went 4 for 24 with 4 walks and Pat Burrell went 2 for 18 with six walks.

As long as Howard continues to struggle, Utley and Burrell will have to get back on track to keep up with the surging Florida Marlins who took a 3 game lead in the division as the Phils dropped to 2nd place, tie with the Mets.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Webb Too Much For Phils

Thursday ended the four game set between the Phillies and the Diamondbacks and in order to win the series the Phightins would have to defeat the 7-0 Brandon Webb. Webb is obviously the number one candidate for the NL Cy Young in this early season and has won every outing of the year so far. Unfortunately for Brett Myers, he hasn't had the same luck. Before Thursday, Myers had posted a 2-2 record, far from the classification of the Phillies "ace" as his ERA hovers around 5.

The Phils managed to get to Webb early in the first and scored the first run of the contest on a one out sac-fly by Chase Utley.

The Diamondbacks however continued to pour on the runs and scored two in the bottom of the first with a two run home run off the bat of Chris Young.

It wouldn't take long though for the D'backs to break open the game. In the bottom of the fourth, Myers walked the first two batters and then allowed a single off the bat of Mark Reynolds to load the bases with no outs. Chris Snyder doubled on a line drive to left bringing home Justin Upton and Stephen Drew. Chris Burke then singled bringing home Reynolds making it a 5-1 game. The D'backs would tack on one more in the inning off a sac-fly by Augie Ojeda bringing home Snyder and extending the lead to 6-1.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Diamondbacks added another run to their lead when Mark Reynolds singled with one out bringing home Stephen Drew making it a 7-1 game. They struck again in the seventh with a lead off home run by Justin Upton.

The Phils managed to get two back in the top of the ninth, but it would prove to be to much as Webb pitched a complete game for his eighth win of the season. The Phils managed to split the series with Arizona who had the best record in baseball going into the week. They now head to San Fransisco to take on the ailing Giants and try to regain control of the NL East.

Phils Battle Back Late In The Desert

Wednesday nights game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Philadelphia Phillies featured two young prospects in the teams rotations. Kyle Kendrick took the mound for the Phils looking to bring his record to 3-2 on the year while Micah Owings went for the D'backs with a substantial 4-1 record. The big talk of the year has been Owings ability with the bat and his potential to play when not pitching.

The D'backs struck first against Kendrick who struggled in the inning and allowed a two out run on a Stephen Drew single to left bringing home Augie Ojeda.

The Phils struck back in the third with a run of their own with a one out single by Shane Victorino bringing home Carlos Ruiz tying the game at 1.

Despite throwing almost 40+ pitches in the first two innings, Kendrick managed to settle down and it took until the 5th for the D'backs to strike again. Chris Young led off with a home run to left and after a triple by Augie Ojeda, Conor Jackson was able to bring home their third run on a ground out.

The Phighting Phils wouldn't go quietly and tied the game up again in the top of the 5th when Pedro Feliz hit his fifth home run of the season bringing in Geoff Jenkins with him.

Ryan Madson came in to pitch in the seventh inning to protect, but after allowing a one out single to Eric Byrnes, and then a stolen base, Conor Jackson hit his sixth double of the season and collected his 2nd RBI of the night.

Things looked tied up for the Diamondbacks after taking the lead right back from the Phils but when Shane Victorino reached base on a passed ball third strike, the Phils gained new life. Eric Bruntlett came up and double to left field bringing home Victorino from first to tie the game back up and Chase Utley singled to center allowing Bruntlett to score the eventual game winning run.

The Phils collected an important win as they face the hottest pitcher in baseball, Brandon Webb on Thursday. The Phils will look to hand Webb his first loss of the season and leave Arizona on a high note before heading to San Francisco for a three game set.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Eaton Struggles In The Desert

Adam Eaton took the mound on Tuesday night with the hopes of obtaining his first decision of the year. Having previously started 6 games this season, Eaton had yet to get a decision despite the fact that the Phillies had won 4 of the 6 games. For the D'backs, Randy Johnson looked to stop the bleeding from back to back losses of crucial errors in the ninth inning.

Arizona struck first in the bottom of the first inning. A lead off double to Chris Young was followed two batters later by a throwing error on the part of Pedro Feliz on a ball hit by Eric Byrnes allowing Young to reach 3rd. With one out, Connor Jackson hit a single to center bringing home Young and putting the Diamondbacks on the board.

The Phils struck back in the third against Johnson. Adam Eaton decided to help himself a bit and hit a lead off double to the gap in left center. Shane Victorino laid down a sac-bunt to move him over to 3rd, and with one out Eric Bruntlett smoked the first pitch he saw from Johnson over the left field wall taking the lead 2-1.

Although Adam Eaton had not gotten a decision in this young season, his strength has been keeping his team in the game enough to win. Unfortunately, the D'backs didn't play up to that and in the bottom of the fourth blew the doors open with a 5 run inning. Justin Upton lead off the inning with a walk and was moved to third on a Mark Reynolds double. Miguel Montero came to the plate next and Eaton walked the bases loaded. Luckily Eaton managed to get Augie Ojeda to fly out to center without allowing a run to score, but did allow the next batter, who just so happened to be the pitcher, to walk on four pitches bringing home the tying run. Chris Young followed with a ground out that allowed and run to score, and Stephen Drew took care of the rest with a three run home run to cap the 5 run inning leaving the Phils in a 6-2 hole.

The Phils tried twice to get a rally going, once in the fifth after a one out walk to Victorino, Eric Bruntlett doubled bringing Shane home. Then again in the sixth Jason Werth hit a lead off home run to get the score to 6-4. That would be all the Phils could muster and for the first time this season Adam Eaton got a decision, unfortunately it was in the wrong column.

The Phils dropped to 19-15, and with a Florida win now share first place in the NL East. They send Kyle Kendrick to the mound on Wednesday night to try to bounce back from the tough loss.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Offense Explodes In Arizona

The Philadelphia Phillies set out on Monday night to take on the league leading Arizona Diamondbacks. The D'backs have the best record in baseball so far with a 21-10 record after a tough loss on an error in the 9th to lose to the Mets. Eerily similar to how the Phils managed to sneak away with a win on Sunday as well against the Giants.

The Phils sent Jamie Moyer to the mound who has been consistent through the first month of the season but has struggled to get run support and has limited his ability to last past the sixth inning. Arizona on the other hand sent 24 year old Max Scherzer to the mound who had his first start of his career.

The Phillies offense started early and kept the heat on, scoring a run in the first inning after a lead off double by Shane Victorino who latered scored on a sac-fly by the struggling Ryan Howard. The Diamondbacks got it back quick though scoring a run off an RBI triple by Stephen Drew in the bottom of the second to tie the game at 1.

Unfortunately for Scherzer, the Phils brought their bats to Arizona and they opened the game up in the top of the third. Chase Utley doubled with one out, followed by a walk by Ryan Howard and the two out rally began after Pat Burrell struck out swinging. Geoff Jenkins singled to center bringing home Utley to take the lead. Howard moved to 3rd on a wild pitch and was later brought home when Pedro Feliz reached on a fielding error by Stephen Drew. Jenkins scored the teams fourth run on a single to center by Carlos Ruiz, and Jamie Moyer helped himself with a line drive double to left scoring Feliz and making the score 5-1.

That would conclude Max Scherzer's outing for the night and Arizona brought in Edgar Gonzalez to stop the bleeding. Gonzalez managed to keep the Phils off the board for three straight innings, but in the top of the seventh the Phils got back to work. Geoff Jenkins lead off with a single, and two batters later Ruiz singled to right and Jenkins advanced to third. Jamie Moyer laiddown a sac-bunt to move Ruiz to second and the Phils second two out rally of the night was on.

Gonzalez intentionally walked Victorino to get a better matchup with Bruntlett but the Phils shortstop won that battle with a base clearing triple. Utley then walked bringing up the struggling Howard who singled on a ground ball to right to bring home Bruntlett for a 9-1 lead.

In the bottom of the seventh, Chris Snyder homered off Jamie Moyer to get the score to 9-2, but the damage was all but done. Moyer left the game in the eighth and turned the game over to the bullpen to hopefully secure his second win of the season.

The Phils tacked on two more runs in the eighth and ninth. The first off a sac-fly by Gregg Dobbs bringing home Feliz, and the second on another fielding error on a ball hit by So Taguchi allowing Utley to score.

With the score 11-2, Charlie Manuel turned the game over to Clay Condrey, whose 7.45 ERA has made it difficult for him to get innings, so this was the perfect opportunity.

After three singles to lead off the bottom of the ninth, and a throwing error by Jenkins, allowing Miguel Montero to score, it looked like the D'backs were about to start a rally. Condrey managed to get it under control and only allowed one more run to score off a ground out by Chris Burke. The Phils finished with an 11-4 win against the league leaders and look to take the second game on Tuesday night.

The Phils expanded their lead in the NL East with a win on Monday by 1.5 games.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Phils Offense Comes Up Big Late Again

Sunday's rubber match between the Phillies and the Giants featured the Phillies true ace Cole Hamels and the Giants best pitcher Tim Lincecum. The Phillies offense has struggled through this series as they have through the rest of the season to score runs that haven't come off the long ball. Leading the league in that category with 47 going into Sunday, they needed to find a way to play small ball and put some runs ton the board.

Both pitchers came out smoking the ball as it took until the end of the 3rd inning for either team to make a dent. Shane Victorino led off the inning by reaching 1st on a throwing error, Eric Bruntlett followed that up with a ground ball single into right. After a 1 out fielders choice by Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell struck again and hit a line drive double to left bringing home Victorino and Bruntlett to make the score 2-0.

It would only be a half inning later though when the Giants offense cracked Hamels. Emmanuel Burriss led off with a line drive single to right, three batters and two outs later, Jose Castillo lined one to center bringing home Burriss. Rich Aurilla doubled on a line drive to center, bringing home Castillo and tying up the game at 2.

Just an inning later the Phils would take back the lead when Victorino led off the inning again with a single, and Eric Bruntlett reached on the Giants second error of the day. Lincecum walked Howard to load up the bases and during Pat Burrell at bat, threw a wild pitch bringing home Victorino. After an intentional walk to Burrell, Geoff Jenkins hit a sac-fly to bring home Bruntlett to extend the Phils lead to 4-2.

The top of the sixth, the Giants struck again, when after a one out single by Aaron Rowand, Rich Aurilla hit his third home run of the season to tie the game back up at 4.

Both offenses took the seventh inning off, but were right back at it in the eighth when after a two out single by Aaron Rowand, Jose Castillo tripled off a ball over Geoff Jenkins head bringing home Rowand and taking the lead for the Giants for the first time in the game.

Unfortunately for the Giants though, Carlos Ruiz was not up for losing the rubber match, and in the bottom of the eighth, hit his first home run of the season over the left field wall to tie the game up once again at 5.

Charlie Manuel brought in Brad Lidge in the top of the ninth of a tie game for the second night this series and luckily it panned out as Lidge held the game to a tie.

In the bottom of the ninth, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard drew two out walks. Geoff Jenkins came to the plate and hit a slow rolling ball to Eugenio Velez who missed the play and on the third error of the game, Ryan Howard scored from second winning the game for the Phils.

The Phillies head on the road on Monday to face the MLB best Arizona Diamondbacks and look to hold their lead atop the NL East with a record of 18-14.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Phillies Can't Repeat Extra Inning Rally.

Saturday nights match up between the Phillies and the Giants looked eerily similar to Friday's game. Both starting pitchers came out firing, both offenses went yard and the game ended in the 10th inning, just the outcome was different.

Brett Myers took the mound against the Giants Matt Cain looking to continue to find his rhythm this season as doubts about his ability to return to the starting rotation loom in the distance. In the first inning, Myers got into trouble after a lead off walk to Fred Lewis. After Lewis stole 2nd, Randy Winn came to the plate and singled allowing Lewis to score handing over the lead to the Giants early. Finally after allowing the bases to load, Myers struck out the final two batters to end the threat. In the first four innings, Myers only allowed the single run to the Giants offense, striking out 7 in a strong start.

It took until the bottom of the fourth for the Phils to crack Matt Cain, and as if it is a regular occasion, Chase Utley went yard to put the Phils up 1-0. Utley's league leading 13th home run came after being named the NL Player of the Month for April. The Giants answered right back in the top of the fifth inning with one out home run off the bat of Fred Lewis giving the Giants the lead.

The lead wouldn't last long though as Geoff Jenkins muscled a ball against the wind over the right field wall to tie the game back up.

After seven strong innings from both starters, the game was turned over to the bullpens. With the game tied 2-2, the game entered the 10th inning for the second straight night. And for the second straight night, a Phillies reliever with a 0.00 ERA gave up a run in the 10th. Rudy Seanez came in for the Phils, and after allowing a single on a ground ball to Randy Winn and a steal, Bengie Molina doubled scoring Winn and taking a 3-2 lead. For the second night in a row, the Phils looked to crack Brian Wilson, but came up short.

Sunday afternoon the Phils send Cole Hamels to the mound against the Giants Tim Linecum. The Phils will be looking to take the series before heading out on the road to meet the hot Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Burrell Bat Remains Hot With Walk Off Win.

Friday night's series opener between the San Fransico Giants and the recently crowned 1st place Philadelphia Phillies. The series was a homecoming for last years iron man Aaron Rowand who moved to San Fransico in the off season as a free agent.

The Phillies sent Kyle Kendrick to the mound against Pat Misch in the series opener. After a pivotal series win against the Padres it would be important that the Phils build on their lead and maintain atop the NL East. The Phils struck early with a one out single by Jason Werth followed up by a 2 run home run off the bat of Chase Utley for his lead leading 12th home run of the year.

The Giants manufactured a two out run in the fourth off a double by Aaron Rowand and a RBI single by John Bowker to take the lead in the top of the fourth. The Phils answered right back when Pat Burrell walked to lead off the inning and Pedro Feliz took advantage of the wind to left and managed to hit a ball into the seats to extend the lead to 4-1.

After a few quite innings, Kendrick was began to get tired, and the Giants took advantage of his struggles. Jose Castillo started off the inning with a single to center followed up by a bunt single by Emmanuel Burriss. Kendrick was lifted for Ryan Madson to hold on to the lead. Unfortunately that would not be the case. Eugenio Velez singled on a line drive to center, which loaded the bases with no outs. After a strikeout to Fred Lewis, Ray Durham singled on a ground ball to right field and Castillo and Burriss scored. Randy Winn singled on a line drive to left, and Bengie Molina grounded out, allowing Velez to score and tie up the game.

With the game tied 4-4, Tom Gordon managed to pitch out of a bases loaded no out situation in the eighth and Brad Lidge pitched a scoreless 9th for the Phils giving them a chance to win in the bottom of the ninth.

In the top of the tenth, JC Romero came in to pitch and on the first pitch, Aaron Rowand hit a ball out of the park to center field to take the lead. Romero managed to escape the inning with no further damage but it would require a rally by the Phillies to get the win.

Brian Wilson came into the game for the Giants to get the save and after going 3-0 to Jason Werth managed to strike him out. Chase Utley singled on a line drive to right field, followed by Ryan Howard striking out and being ejected for arguing the call. Pat Burrell came to the plate with the hottest bat in the Phillies lineup and after getting a 3-0 green light and taking the count to 3-2, hit a moon shot to left field. The walk off home run won the game for the Phils with the score of 6-5.

Burrell continues to swing a hot bat, along with Chase Utley who still leads the MLB with 12 home runs.

The Phils send Brett Myers to the mound tomorrow night in hopes of getting the series win.

Howard Powers Phils To First Place

Ryan Howard has spent the month of April in the kind of slump that all power hitters fall into from time to time. With a .172 batting average and 38 strikeouts, Howard still managed to muscle 5 home runs and was thankfully carried by the smoking hot bat of Pat Burrell. Thursday night began a new month and hopefully a new season for Howard.

Thursday nights rubber match between the Padres and the Phillies brought an ex-Padre and an ex-Phillie on to face one another. Adam Eaton squared off against Randy Wolf, both looking to lead their team to a series win. For the Padres things started off much as they did the night before.

In the first, after a single by Tadahito Iguchi with one out, Adrian Gonzalez got his 2nd homer in as many games and for the second consecutive night gave the Padres a 2-0 lead in the first.

It would take till the bottom of the third for the Phils to make some noise. With a leadoff double by the returning Shane Victorino, Ryan Howard came to the plate after strikeouts by Utley and Werth, and bombed a doubled to center field allowing Victorino to score. Burrell followed Howard's RBI double with one of his own and managed to tie up the game.

Both Wolf and Eaton settled in nicely and it wouldn't be until the eighth inning that the Phils would strike again. Ryan Howard led off the inning with a towering fly ball to the right field stands. Giving the Phils the lead and eventually the win. For the first time this season, the Phils lead the NL East. And as the rest of the teams are struggling to get good pitching, the Phillies bullpen appears to be the hottest of the season so far.

Friday the Phils open their series against the visiting Giants and look to build on their newly found lead in the division.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Moyer Can't Overcome Long Ball

Wednesday night was Jamie Moyer NL East Bobble Head Night at Citizen's Bank Park as the Phillies hosted the second game of their three game set against the San Diego Padres. The Padres sent Chris Young to the mound who had been struggling this season to find any kind of rhythm and had not recorded a win since April 1st. Moyer had been solid so far this season, posting a 1-1 record, and although not pitching deep into games, is known for keeping the opposition to a minimum to allow his team to win. Wednesday's game featured another outing for Moyer that was good enough for the win, apparently, the Phils offense didn't agree.

The top of the first inning was riddled with poor defense for the Phils, as Tadahito Iguchi managed to reach on a ball hit to SS Eric Bruntlett that should have been ruled an error. Adrian Gonzalez followed up the play with a line shot to the right field stands, putting the Padres up 2-0 early. The inning also featured two errors, one by Ryan Howard on a difficult throw from Bruntlett and a dropped ball by Jason Werth in center. Luckily, Moyer was able to keep his composure and get out of the inning without any more damage.

In the bottom of the 1st, Eric Bruntlett managed to muscle a single to left with one out and Chase Utley came up and tied the game up with a moon shot of his own to tie the game at 2 and continue sole possession of the MLB home run lead with 11.

After a quiet second, Kevin Kouzmanoff led off the Padres inning his second home run of the year taking back the lead for San Diego. The Phils bats unfortunately remained quiet, making the Padres Chris Young look like a staff ace.

In the sixth Moyer continued to let the Padres offense get to him, as Josh Bard doubled to lead off the inning on a ball over Pat Burrell's head. Chris Young sac-bunted Bard to third, and Moyer gave a free pass to Brian Giles. Moyer was pulled for Chad Durbin who allowed a single by Tadahito Iguchi allowing Bard to score bringing the score to 4-2.

That would be all the Padres would need. Chris Young and the bullpen shut down the Phils offense past the first and Trevor Hoffman came in to get the save to even up the series at 1.

The teams meet again on Thursday as the Phils Adam Eaton will face the ex-Phil Randy Wolf in the rubber match.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hamels Goes Deep, Maddux Fails at 350

Tuesday nights series opener between the Padres and the Phillies featured two kinds of pitchers. One, a 42 year old right-handed finesse pitcher, trying to defy age in Jamie Moyeresque style and attempting to obtain his 350th win for the second time this season. The other, a 24 year old left handed changeup pitcher who relies on change of speeds and pitch location to strike out batters. The question would be which offense could strike often enough to win the battle.

Fortunately for Hamels, the Phils brought just enough offense. They struck early, after a walk to Eric Bruntlett, Ryan Howard came through with a clutch two out hit for the RBI and the early lead. Then again in the third, with one out, Jason Werth tripled off a ball to right field, followed by Bruntlett whose bat has been coming along lately and managed to muscle a ground ball the opposite way allowing Werth to score.

It wasn't until the 5th that the Padres finally managed to get on the board when with two outs, Scott Hairston hit one out on a fly ball to left field bringing the score to 2-1. Maddux pitched well, keeping holding the Philllies lineup to 2 runs, a lineup that is averaging 7 runs a game in the early season. The seventh inning became to much for Maddux, both physically and emotionally. After allowing a one out single to Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels managed to muscle a hit allowing Ruiz to reach third. Maddux was obviously upset allowing a hit to the opposing pitcher, and was pulled from the game for Cla Meredith. The Phils managed to tack on another run with a sac-fly by Jason Werth extending the lead to 3-1.

The eighth proved to be the end of Hamels night. After a leadoff double to Hairston, and a close play at third by Chase Utley that allowed Hairston to move to third,and a walk to Tony Clark Hamels was taken out of the game and replaced with JC Romero. Romero walked Brian Giles loading the bases and was immediately yanked for Tom Gordon. Gordon managed to invoke a ground ball from Tadahito Iguchi, but only managed one out from the play that allowed a run to score. Gordon got Kevin Kouzmanoff to ground out as well ending the inning and the Padres rally.

The Phils had a rally of their own, tacking on four runs in the bottom of the eighth to pad the lead for the bullpen. After a leadoff double by Utley, two batters later, Burrell was intentionally walked, and after a fly out by Shane Victorino, the two out rally began. Pedro Feliz hit a ground ball through the hole to right allowing Utley to score and move Taguchi, who came in to run for Burrell, to third. Feliz advanced to second on the throw home to try to get Utley. Carlos Ruiz doubled to right-center and both Taguchi and Feliz came home, immediately followed by Gregg Dobbs who hit a double of his own bringing home Ruiz and extending the lead to 7-2.

The Padres managed to get two back in the top of the ninth off a two run homerun by Scott Hairston, but Ryan Madson held on to keep the lead and secure the Phils first winning April in 5 years.

As though of you know, who check out my blog, I am tracking our beloved managers record throughout the season to determine just how many games Uncle Charlie blows for us. He is currently 0-2. Charlie though will get this win tonight for sticking with the hot bat in Jason Werth and for his offensive substitutions that seem to continue to work out. Keep up the good work Charlie, maybe we shouldn't get you fired after all.