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Archive for September, 2006

Phillies Win First 2 Over Florida, But Are Eliminated From NL Wild Card…

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

Afer losing the final game of the series with the Washington Nationals, the Phillies did what they needed to do, having beaten the Florida Marlins in the 1st two games of their series; on Friday by a 14-2 score and on Saturday by a 4-3 score.

And doing so, the season for the Phillies came down to Saturday’s West Coast Games.  But both Los Angeles and San Diego won their games giving them 87-74 marks with Sunday’s games to be played.  The best the Phillies can finish is 86-76.  So, as Dandy Don would say, “The party’s over.”  One cannot help but to think back to blown home run call by both the umpires and the Phillies bench on  Utley’s right field drive down the foul-line against the Washington Nationals and wonder, what if…

ON FRIDAY, lefthander Jamie Moyer (11-14) pitched another fine ballgame beating the Marlins for the 3rd time in the month of September.  Moyer was relieved after 5 innings due to the Phillies big lead.  The bullpen held the Marlins to but 1 8th inning run as the Phillies breezed in this one.

The Marlins scored 1st in the 1st inning as 3rd baseman  Miguel Cabrera (25 HRs, 113 RBIs, .340 BA), possessor of the NLs 2nd leading batting average drove in a run with a sacrifice fly to center field.

The Phils tied the game in the 2nd inning as 3rd baseman  Abraham Nunez (2 HRs, 32 RBIs) got an RBI on a ground out to the pitcher.

In the 3rd, 4th and 5th innings, the Phillies scored their runs in waves.

In the 3rd inning, leftfielder Pat Burrell (29 HRs, 95 RBIs) hit the 1st of his 2 homers for game, a 3 run shot to left field off of losing Florida starter Brian Moehler (7-11) and the Phils were up 4-1.   In the 4th inning, the Phils jumped all over Moehler and relief pitcher Matt Herges (1-3) for 6 runs, 3 runs against each as shortstop Jimmy Rollins (25 HRs, 83 RBIs, .280 BA) doubled in a run and both centerfielder Shane Victorino 6 HRs, 46 RBIs, .289 BA) and 2nd baseman Chase Utley (32 HRs, 102 RBIs, .310 BA) singled in runs.  With the bases loaded, Herges plunked rightfielder David Dellucci (13 HRs, 39 RBIs, .292 BA) with a pitch forcing in another run. Catcher Chris Coste (7 HRs, 32 RBI, .328 BA) capped the inning’s scoring with a ringing 2 run double to left.  In the 5th inning, reliever Yusmeiro Petit (1-1) replaced Herges and Victorino tagged Petit with a run-scoring triple.  1st baseman Ryan Howard (58 HRs, 148 RBIs, .313 BA), still looking for homer #59 and not getting much to hit, drove in a run with a ground out to 1st base.  Burrell followed with his 2nd homer of the game off of Petit, also to leftfield.  13-1 Phillies.

Victorino capped the Phillies scoring for the game in the 6th inning with a run-scoring double, the 4th Phillies run off of Petit in 2 inning of pitching.  Victorino had an outstanding game going 5 for 6 and driving 3 runs.  Burrell went 3 for 3 with the 2 homers and driving 4 runs.

In the meantime, the Phillies bullpen took over from Moyer and shut down the Marlins the rest of the way with the exception of pinch hitter Jeremy Hermida’s bases loaded ground out scoring Florida’s 2nd run in the 8th innng.

ON SATURDAY, Phils starter Randy Wolf (4-0) lasted 1 2/3 innings as Florida scored 2 runs in the first inning on back-to-back homers by Cabrera and by leftfielder Josh Willingham (25 HRs, 74 RBIs, .277 BA) and 1 run in the 2nd on starting pitcher lefthander Scott Olsen’s (12-10)  RBI single.  In the Phillies 2nd inning, catcher Mike Lieberthal (9 HRs, 36 RBIs, .273 BA) singled in a run and 3rd baseman Abraham Nunez singled in 2 runs.  After 2 innings, the game was tied at 3-3. 

The Phillies scored the winning run in the 3rd as 1st baseman Ryan Howard singled in a run with a bloop single into shallow right field.

Neither team would score any further.  Ryan Madison (11-9) relieved Wolf in the 2nd as manager Manuel took no chances of falling far behind with the NL wild card possibly on the line.  Madison pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings and was awarded the victory.  4 other Phils relievers shut down the Marlins the rest of the way with closer Tom Gordon (3-4, 3.34 ERA, S34) nailing down the save.  Olsen lasted 6 innings and was the losing pitcher.  The Marlins bullpen closed down the Phils the rest of the way.

For full recaps including box scores and play-by-plays on Friday’s and Saturday’s games click here and here.

The Phillies hope to end their exciting late-season charge on an optimistic winning note as starter Brett Myers (12-7, 3.94 ERA) goes for his 13th win.  The Marlins counter with lefthander Dontrelle Willis (12-12, 3.89) who had somewhat an off-year following his standout 22-10 season in 2005.

And so, the 2006 regular season is nearly history.  This blog will continue with coverage of the the MLB post-season as well as with continuing All Time Baseball Highlights. 

NOTE: Sunday being Erev Yom Kippur, this blog will be inactive until either Monday night or Tuesday and will then continue with pertinent regular season last day commentary as well post season coverage and All-Time post season highlights.

For full coverage of all of Sunday’s games in both leagues; previews, recaps, box scores and play-by-play coverage click here.

Rain Delay, Inert Offense in Phillies Loss to Nationals, In Wild Card Hole…

Friday, September 29th, 2006

After a 4 1/2 hour rain delay in D.C., the Phillies wild card chances began “slip-sliddin’ away” due to an inert, enemic offense in Thursday’s 3-1 loss to the Washington Nationals.

The loss left the Phils trailing  the L.A. Dodgers by two games back in the NL wild-card race with only three games remaining to be played.

While the Phillies were losing to the Nationals, losing 2 of 3 in their series, the Dodgers were engaged in a wild game with the Colorado Rockies which the Dodgers finally won 19-11 for their fourth straight win.  As things stand on Friday, any combination of Dodger wins or Phils losses totalling 2 jetison’s the Phils and leaves the Dodgers in possession of the NL wild card berth.

Both starters, losing pitcher Jon Lieber (9-11) for the Phillies and lefthander Mike O’Connor (4-8) for the Nationals pitched well for 5 1/3 and 5 innings respectively.   Lieber’s line was 3 runs, 7 hits and 2 strikeouts plus 1 homer allowed, while O’Connor, who was not in on the final decision, gave up 1 run, 3 hits, walked 2 and struck out 3.

The Nationals got on the board 1st in the 2nd inning on a solo homer by rightfielder Ryan Church (9 HRs, 33 RBIs, .265 BA) who has roughed up Phillies pitching throughout this series. 

The Phils knotted the score, with 2 outs in the 5th inning, as O’Connor walked 3rd baseman Abraham Nunez (2 HRs, 29 RBIs) and pitcher Lieber followed with a basehit to left centerfield. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins (25 HRs, 82 RBIs, .279 BA) reached on 3rd baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s (20 HRs, 109 RBIs, .289 BA) fielding error as Nunez scored and Lieber took second base.   However, centerfielder Shane Victorino (6 HRs, 43 RBIs, .281 BA) fouled out to the 1st baseman to end the inning.  

In the 6th, the Nationals scored the winning runs as they loaded the bases with none out.  Lieber then retired 1st baseman Jose Vidro (7 HRs, 47 RBIs, .287 BA) on a line out to the second base.  Manuel then went to lefthanded reliever Aaron Fultz (3-1) to face catcher Brian Schneider (4 HRs, 55 RBIs) who has also killed the Phillies during this series.  Schneider came through again, this time with a 2 run single to right field.  Both runs were charged to Lieber.   Fultz then retired the next 2 hitters to end the inning.

From there, both bullpens took over shut down the opposition as it was lights out for the Phillies from here.  Washington’s lefthanded reliever Billy Traber (4-3), who pitched the 6th inning was awarded the win.  Reliever Jon Rauch (4-4, 3.32 ERA, S2) pitched the 9th inning and was awarded the save.

The Phils left 4 on base and could have used some of the runners that they stranded in the previous 2 games.

For full recap including box score and play-by-play on Thursday’s game click here.

The Phillies now find themselves in a precarious position regarding the wild card berth in trailing the Dodgers by 2 games as they arrive in Florida for the final 3 games of the season with the Marlins.  They MUST sweep the Marlins and hope for a least 1 Dodger loss in order to gain the NL wild card berth. 

The Phils open the series with late season acquisition, lefthander Jamie Moyer (10-14) who has already won 2 games against the Marlins in September.  The Marlins counter with Brian Moehler (7-10) who has gone 1-1 against the Phils in September, the more recent game being the 8-6 Phils win 6 days ago.

For full coverage of all of Friday’s games in both leagues; previews, recaps, box scores and play-by-play coverage  click here.

Phillies Win Ugly in 14 Innings on Rollins’ Clutch Triple…

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins (25 HRs, 82 RBIs, .280 BA)  ended an ugly, agonizing 6-6 stalemate with a 2 out, 2 run triple in the 14th inning.  Rollins had 4 RBIs for the game. Before winning, the Phillies suffered through a bottom of the 14th inning which saw them nearly blow the game again, for the 3rd time as lefthanded reliever Fabio Castro (0-0, 2.08 ERA, S1) followed the now familiar scenario of this game; getting into a 1 out bases loded jam, enroute to his 1st major league save.  It took a game-ending ground ball double play, second to shortstop to first to finally defeat the Washington Nationals by an 8-7 score. 

The win enabled the Phils to stay within 1 game of the Los Angeles Dodgers who defeated the Colorado Rockies by a 6-4 score in the NL wild card chase.  The Dodgers are also 1 game behind the San Diego Padres in a close NL West race.  The Houston Astros, who have now won 8 straight games, are the only other team in contention for the wild card spot, defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates by a 7-6 score in 15 innings to also stay within 1 1/2 games of the St. Louis Cardinals in an ever-tightening NL Central race.

Phillies rookie lefthander Cole Hamels (9-8) had another good ballgame, although giving up 4 runs on 7 hits while walking 1 and striking out 7 in his 6 inning of work and leaving the game with the Phils trailing 4-3. Nationals starter Pedro Astacio (5-5) also pitched 5 good innings giving up 3 runs on 3 hits while walking 1 and striking out 3. However what followed was a parade of relievers for both teams, plenty of agonizing drama, plenty of bases loaded jams on both sides over the course of the last 9 innings before Rollins finally resolved the matter.  The Phils stranded 15 runners on base for the game, the Nationals left 14.

The Phillies opened on top with a run off of Nationals starter Astacio in the first on an RBI single by 2nd baseman Chase Utley (32 HRs, 101 RBIs, .312 BA).   The Nationals went up by 2-1 in the 2nd inning as 3rd baseman Ryan Zimmerman (20 HRs, 109 RBIs, .287 BA), who has killed the Phillies all season, did so again with a solo blast for 1 of his 3 RBIs for the game.  Later in the inning, rightfielder Ryan Church (8 HRs, 32 RBIs, .260 BA) drove in a run, 1 of 2 RBIs for the game, with a single.

Washington extended their lead to 4-1 in the 3rd inning on an RBI single by shortstop Felipe Lopez (11 HRs, 52 RBIs, .276 BA) and on a 1 out run scoring fielder’s choice.

The Phils narrowed the gap to 4-3 as Utley solo homered to right field in the 4th inning and Rollins drove an RBI double to left field in the 5th inning.   4-3 Nationals.

The Phils took a 5-4 lead in the 7th inning as Rollins drove in his 2nd run  of the game and centerfielder Shane Victorino (6 HRs, 43 RBIs, .281 BA) drove in a run with a fielder’s choice grounder.  Both runs were scored on Nationals reliever Chris Schroder (0-2).

Starter Cole Hamels had a shot to win his 10th game of the season as a result of the Phillies’ 7th inning rally.  Relievers Aaron Fultz (3-1), Ryan Madison (10-9) and Matt Smith (0-1, 0.93 ERA) held Wahsington scoreless in the 7th and 8th innings into  Tom Gordon (3-4, 3.39 ERA, S33) time in the 9th.

But Gordon blew his 5th save opportunity of the season in the 9th inning as Washington tied the game at 5-5.  He got the side out, but not before the tying run scored.  Catcher Brian Schneider (4 HRs, 53 RBIs) singled to right to open the inning.  After a walk and a sacrifice grounder, Gordon  issued an intentional walk to load the bases.  Zimmerman was then walked forcing in the tying run.

The Phils went ahead 6-5 in the 10th as 3rd baseman Abraham Nunez doubled in the lead run.  But Washington came back in the bottom of the 10th as it was Geoff Geary’s (7-1, 3.02 ERA, S1) turn to blow a save opportunity.

A single, an advance to 2nd base on a ground out put a runner in scoring position for Brian Schneider to drive in with a single to tie the game again.

Reliever Rick White (4-1, S1) pitched a scoreless 11th inning, as did eventual winning pitcher Clay Condrey (2-2, 3.16 ERA) in the 12th and 13th innings.

The Nationals sent reliever Jason Bergmann (0-2) into the game in the 11th inning and he held the Phillies scoreless through the 13th inning. 

However, in the 14th inning, Bergmann got into a runners on 1st and 3rd base situation with 2 out.  Jimmy Rollins then tripled to drive in both runs to put the Phils up by 8-6.

In the bottom of the 14th, lefthanded Fabio Castro relieved Condrey and got into a bases loaded, none out situation on 2 base hits and a pitcher’s throwing error on a grounder.  Centerfielder Ryan Church then hit a sacrifice fly for his 2nd RBI of the game.  8-7 Phillies  Then Castro thankfully induced a game-ending ground double play to record his 1st major league save.

For full recap including box score and play-by-play on Wednesday’s game click here.

The Phillies try to win the series on Thursday and hopefully begin a winning streak which will send them to the wild card berth in the NL playoffs.  Jon Lieber (9-10) will go for the Phillies trying to even up his seasonal record  against lefthander Mike O’Connor (3-8) for the Nationals.

For full coverage of all of Thursday’s games in both leagues; previews, recaps, box scores and play-by-play coverage click here.

National League MVP: Howard, Pujols or ??

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

In surfing, I found this short commentary which fits in as a campanion with this blog’s All Time Baseball Highlights piece on September 3rd, Howard, Pujols Have 3 Homer Games;

Pujols. Howard. Let’s Get It On!  Kyle Veltrop  (Sporting News)

The senior/inferior circuit can hang its ballcap on its MVP race, a slugout between Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols that not even the almighty AL (Derek Jeter vs. Jermaine Dye?) can match.

Pujols pollsters point to his superior batting and on-base averages. Plus, his Cardinals are bound for the playoffs.

Howard hucksters point to his superior home run and RBI totals. Plus, Howard’s Phillies are respectable despite their phire sale.

Each year, voters wrestle with how much team success should factor into this award. This year, it shouldn’t. The Cards and Phils simply aren’t all that different.

Instead, be swayed by the pure-hitting Pujols, who has struck out a hard-to-believe 116 times fewer than Howard. Or be awed by the power-hitting Howard, whose homers total could surpass 60, again a magical number.

On September 3, Howard hit three homers in a game.

So did Pujols. Hopefully, there’s more of that to come. Maybe Howard will continue to break Citizens Bank, starting Monday with a six-game homestand against the Cubs and the wild-card rival Marlins. Maybe Pujols will seal the deal by ending up in the top three in each of the Triple Crown categories.

This race doesn’t need a front-runner. Its winner will be decided in a furious finish.

On your mark. Get set. Go.

For those baseball history buffs, I found a chart of the all-time top 10 home run hitters for a season (arrow down): check out where Ryan Howard is with 58 homers.

Blown Home Run Call, 10 Left on Base Propel Phillies to 4-3 Loss…

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

An apparent blown umpire’s call on a 2 out, 2 on shot down the right-field line by 2nd baseman Chase Utley (31 HRs, 99 RBIs, .310 BA) that was ruled foul cost the Phillies 1 game in the NL wild card race and might cost them the wild card place in the NL Divisional series.  The Phils, despite another stand-out performance by starting pitcher Brett Myers (12-7, 3.94 ERA), were edged out by the Washington Nationals in the opening game of their 3 game series.  

Unfortunately, there is enough blame to go around on the Phillies offense which repeatedly blew clutch situations with runners on, leaving 10 on base while collecting but 3 runs on 13 hits.  Somehow, Ramon Ortiz (11-15) Ramon Ortiz, who was rocked for 12 runs to the Phillies in two July losses, came away as the winning pitcher giving up only two runs on 10 hits in six innings.  In a rarity, Nationals pitchers issued no free-passes (walks).

The loss moved the Phillies a full 1 game behind Los Angeles for the NL wild card lead as the Dodgers mauled the Colorado Rockies by an 11-4 score as winning pitcher Greg Maddux (14-14) evened his seasonal record.  The Houston Astros, who have won 7 straight games, are 3 behind the Phils and 4 behind the front-running Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds are 5 games out.
All teams have 5 games left in the regular season.

The Phllies opened with 2 runs in the 1st inning as 1st baseman Ryan Howard (58 HRs, 146 RBIs, .316 BA) and rightfielder Jeff Conine (10 HRs, 66 RBIs, .275 BA) drove in a run a piece to get the Phils off to a 2-0 lead.

In the Nationals 1st inning, with 1 out, a run scored on 3rd baseman Ryan Zimmerman’s (19 HRs, 107 RBIs, .286 BA)  ground out to shortstop.  2-1 Phillies after 1 inning.

Then came the Phillies second inning and the blown call.  Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Marcus Hayes writes about the inning as follows;

The Phillies’ first-base coach, Bombard shared the same angle as first-base umpire Rob Drake, home-plate umpire Greg Gibson, on-deck hitter Ryan Howard and hitter Chase Utley.

With two out and two on in the second, Utley ripped a drive down the rightfield line at RFK Stadium that none of them thought was fair. Nobody in the Phillies’ recessed dugout could see.

Drake signaled foul. Bombard looked at manager Charlie Manuel and held his thumb and forefinger 4 inches apart to indicate how far foul Bombard thought the ball went.

Utley, a combative type, immediately turned and ran back to the plate without protest past Howard, who offered no argument.

To Charlie Manuel’s fire-spitting distress, none of them was right.

The ball smacked the foul pole dead in the middle, glanced to the right and came back onto the field. Nationals rightfielder Ryan Church resignedly picked it up and threw it back in, the action of a man who knows his team was en route to a loss.

Except it wasn’t.

Utley stranded the runners, a teamwide theme for the night, leaving the Phillies with a one-run lead instead of a four-run lead.

“I saw it take a direct right. I thought it hit a bolt or something above the fence. I thought it was foul,” Bombard said. “Apparently, I didn’t see it right.”

“I kind of lost it in the lights,” said Utley, who ate his postgame meal in front of the video machine.

“I couldn’t tell. It’s unfortunate. Those were pretty big runs for us. When you look at the replay in fast motion it’s hard to tell. In slow motion, it’s easy to tell.”

The umpires declined to comment, probably because the Phillies didn’t protest for a half-inning, not until video coordinator Kevin Camiscioli scooted down from the clubhouse with the bad news.

Then, Manuel went onto the field and argued. Then, Manuel worked up a lather that only increased as his club dropped a game behind in the National League wild-card race as the Dodgers won in Colorado.

“Somebody’s got to see it. The damn umpire has to see it. That missed call was terrible. Absolutely unreal.”

In the Washington 3rd inning, Ryan Zimmerman struck again, this time smashing a 2 run double to left field off of Myers who was charged with the loss although pitching a fine 7 innings, allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, walking 2 and striking out 5.  He made one mistake in the game, the pitch that Zimmerman crushed to give Washington the lead at 3-2.

In the 8th inning, Washington scored an insurance run as catcher Brian Schneider (4 HRs, 52 RBIs) singled off of Geoff Geary (7-1, 2.95 ERA, S1) with 2 on, loading the bases.  The run scored on a fielding error by Chase Utley.  4-2 Washington.

Washington neded the run as the Phils scored their 3rd run on an RBI single by Utley off of closer Chad Cordero (7-4, 3.15 ERA, S29).

As an aside, one might wonder if Ryan Howard isn’t pressing due to the temporary lull in homers. Howard hasn’t homered in his last 4 games and has only hit 2 in his last 10 games while racking up 12 more strikeouts (175 for the season) during that span.  But apparently Howard is “unflappable at the plate, no matter the situation or circumstances surrounding the team” from what AP sports reporter in Chicago Rob Maadi writes.  Howard ended the game by flying out to centerfield with a man on.

For full recaps including box scores and play-by-play on Tuesday’s game click here.

The Phillies try to even up the series on Wednesday and hopefully begin a winning streak which will send them to the wild card berth in the NL playoffs.  Fine rookie lefthander Cole Hamels (9-8) goes for the Phillies against Pedro Astacio (5-5) for the Nationals.

For full coverage of all of Wednesday’s games in both leagues; previews, recaps, box scores and play-by-play coverage click here.

Phillies Blow 4-2 Lead in Disastrous 7th Inning, Lose to Houston…

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

The Phillies had a 4-2 lead going into the 7th inning, but lapses in middle relief, mainly by an inconsistent Rick White (4-1), lefthander Matt Smith, who was scored upon for the 1st time this season, as well as a costly throwing error resulted in a 5-4 loss to the Houston Astros in their make-up of a rainout from July. 

The Astros scored first in the 5th inning as 3rd baseman Morgan Ensberg (23 HRs, 56 RBIs) drove in a run with a 1 out, bases loaded sacrifice fly off of starter, lefthander Randy Wolf (4-0).  The Phils scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 5th on Ryan Howard’s (58 HRs, 145 RBIs, .316 BA) RBI single off of reliever Wandy Rodriguez (9-10) who had relieved starter Chris Sampson (1-0, 2.66 ERA) who pitched 3 2/3 innings.

In the Houston 6th inning, rightfielder Jason Lane (15 HRs, 45 RBIs) solo homered off of Wolf to tie the game at 2-2.  Wolf was removed from the game with 2 out in the 6th inning in favor of Ryan Madison (10-9) who faced lefthanded pinch hitter Craig Biggio (20 HRs, 58 RBIs).  Madison struck out Biggio to retire the side.

In the bottom of the 6th, shortstop Jimmy Rollins (25 HRs, 78 RBIs,  belted a 2 run homer to right field off of eventual winning pitcher, reliever Dave Borkowski (3-2) to put the Phils back in the lead by a 4-2 score.

In the 7th inning, reliever Rick White was inserted into the game.  With 1 out, White walked Ensberg.  Manager Manuel went to the bullpen to the bullpen for Smith to face the switch-hitting 1st baseman Lance Berkman (43 HRs, 130 RBIs, .316 BA).  Smith got Berkman swinging for a strikeout – 2 out.
But then Smith walked the bases loaded.  Manuel then went to reliever
Geoff Geary (7-1, 2.99 ERA, S1).   Pinch hitter Orlando Palmeiro (16 RBIs) pinch hit for Jason Lane and greeted Geary with a 2 run single to tie the game at 4-4.  A runner advanced to 3rd on leftfielder Pat Burrell’s (27 HRs,91 RBIs) errant throw.  Pinch hitter Mike Lamb (12 HRs, 43 RBIs, .309 BA) then singled in the runner on 3rd base with the lead run for Houston.  Matt Smith was thus charged with his first loss and Geary was tagged with a blown save.

The 2 bullpens shut each other down the rest of the way.  Houston reliever Dan Wheeler (3-5, 2.51 ERA, S8) who pitched the 9th inning was credited with the save.

For full recaps including box scores and play-by-play on Monday’s game click here,

On Tuesday, the Phils begin a 3 game series with the Washington Nationals.   Brett Myers (12-6, 3.94 ERA) is opposed by Ramon Ortiz (10-15) for the Nationals.   Although the Nationals have been eliminated from the NL wild card race, every game won is important as the Phils are currently tied with Los Angeles for the NL wild card lead.  Behind them are the Astros at 4 games back, Cincinnati at 5 back and Florida at 6 back.  All teams have 6 games remaining in the regular season.

For full coverage of all of Tuesday’s games in both leagues; previews, recaps, box scores and play-by-play coverage click here.