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.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Myers Struggles Again, Maholm Stops Sweep

Sunday's game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies provided the opportunity for the Phils first three game sweep of the season. Brett Myers took the mound hoping to find some sort of rhythm this season, his opponent, Paul Maholm, was looking to build of his last outing which provided his first win of the season. The Phillies headed into Sunday with a three game win streak and were pushing hard to climb to the top of the NL East standings before heading home to face the Padres on Tuesday.

Myers and Maholm both started the day strong. After Myers gave up a lead off home run to Nate Mclouth to begin his day, he settled in nicely through the first three innings. In the fourth, Myers managed to get the first batters out, but after allowing a single to Adam Larouche and a wild pitch in the next at bat allowing him to reach second, Jose Bautista singled to give the Pirates a 2-0 lead. In the fifth, Myers walked Maholm to lead off the inning, and Nate McLouth struck again, hitting a two run shot over the wall in right field. Myers appeared to be struggling once again.

Maholm on the other hand had the Phils number holding the Phils without a hit until the 5th. Pat Burrell doubled off Maholm with one out and two batters later Eric Bruntlett singled on a line drive to center allowing Burrell to score.

Myers was finally lifted in the top of the sixth and Rudy Seanez was brought in to keep the Pirates at bay. Adam Larouche led off the sixth with a single and Jose Bautista followed with a single allowing Larouche to reach third. One batter later, Luis Rivas grounded into a double play allowing Larouche to score bringing the score to 5-1.

Maholm would go on to shut down the Phils for the remainder of the day, allowing only the two hits, with only two strikeouts and four walks in a complete game win. The Pirates managed to avoid a sweep and potentially find a gem in their rotation on the day when veteran pitcher Matt Morris was released.

The Phils head home and after a day off on Monday open a series with the Padres and a six game home stand. Sitting in third in the NL East at 14-12, the Phillies have to find an answer to their rotation as Myers continues to struggle with both his velocity and his control.