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Archive for July, 2008

Phillies Take Aim at 2nd Half of Season

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

   Jummy Rollins    Ryan Howard    Brad Lidge

With the 2008 All Star game now history, the Phillies plunge back into the season on Friday, after a four day All Star hiatus, by playing 3 games in  Florida against the Marlins, followed by a day off on Monday before coming home on Tuesday for 3 games against the Mets and 3 games against  Atlanta.

The Mets, a scant 1/2 game behind the Phils, open the 2nd half with 4 games against the Cincinnati Reds beginning Thursday night, followed by a Monday open date before heading into Philly for an early show-down with the NL East lead on the line.  John Maine opposes Bronson Arroyo on Thursday with the other 3 starters for both teams yet to be announced.

The Phillies open their 2nd half on Thursday with veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer opposing Rick Nolasco.  On Saturday, Kyle Kendrick opposes lefthander Scott Olsen with a battle of lefties due on Sunday as ace Cole Hamels faces Andrew Miller who carries a 5.63 ERA and was hammered for 7 runs in 1 2/3 innings in his last start before the All Star Break.

The Phillies, planning ahead for the Mets’ series, are not yet sure about their rotation after Florida.’s Ken Mandel explains;

We don’t know, because there’s an off-day in there [Monday],” pitching coach Rich Dubee said.

The Phillies aren’t sure who will pitch Tuesday and Wednesday against the Mets at Shea Stadium, though it’s possible Adam Eaton will start the first game and Brett Myers will return on Wednesday. Dubee said Myers would likely make another start with Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday, which would set him up to pitch Wednesday.

Though Eaton has struggled, he has a 3.08 ERA in six career starts at Shea.

The Phillies have been noncommittal on the right-hander’s status, allowing for the possibility that he may be asked to regroup in the Minors. Like Myers, Eaton would have to agree to such a move.

“He’ll start sooner or later,” manager Charlie Manuel said.

Eaton said after Saturday’s game he believes his self-described mechanical issues can be worked out at the big league level.

“I didn’t see any mechanical flaw,” Dubee said. “I saw a guy who couldn’t throw the ball in the strike zone after a while. He retired 10 out of 11 hitters with two outs in the fourth, then gave up a base hit and walked a guy [Robby Hammock] hitting a buck seventy on four pitches.”

Pitcher Randy Johnson, a .126 career hitter, then laced a two-run double and Eaton continued to unravel, highlighting his recurring problem of not being able to finish off batters. Making matters worse was that the Phillies had tied the game in the previous inning.

“Closing out innings, pitching with a lead,” Dubee said. “When we came back in that game, that’s where you need to throw up a zero and keep the momentum in our direction.”

Meanwhile, in a different piece, Mandel speaks about the offense and the bullpen;

The offense has been surprisingly inconsistent. It has succumbed to many of the league’s top pitchers, and recently had an eight-game funk in which it hit .181 as a team.  Ryan Howard, though his power numbers are still there, has to improve his batting average, and complementary players Geoff Jenkins and Pedro Feliz have to find ways to contribute.

Club MVP: Chase Utley gets the nod by virtue of his significant impact in the third spot of the order, but this isn’t a slam dunk. Pat Burrell has been a consistent run producer, and closer Brad Lidge has been untouchable in the ninth inning.

Though the offense is viewed as the Phillies’ lifeblood, the bullpen of Lidge, J.C. Romero, Tom Gordon, Ryan Madson,  Chad Durbin and Clay Condrey has been outstanding.

Biggest surprise: Durbin has been one of the season’s revelations. Considered a useful longman/spot starter when he was signed as a free agent, Durbin has emerged as the bullpen’s most vital and interchangeable piece. He’s been used anywhere from the fourth to the eighth inning, and handled each role with aplomb.

Reliever Joe Bisenius was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley, ostensibly to fill Tom Gordon’s spot as Gordon went down with right elbow inflamation (after his blown save in the July 5th Mets game opened the door for a Mets win), and after lefthanded reliever R.J. Swindle was sent back to Lehigh Valley.

There are all sorts of names being bandied around as possible starting pitchers coming to the Phils to fill the gaps in the starting rotation. Conjecture and punditcity are a waste of time.  I’ll leave the calls to the guys who make the big bucks.  Until something concrete happens, the Phils are left with a starting rotation of Hamels, Moyer, Kendrick and Eaton, Myers or recalling lefthander J.A. Happ.

Offensively, for the Phillies to repeat atop the NL East and move to the next levels in the playoffs, the offense has to come alive and stay alive consistently.  And that means, leadoff hitter Jimmy Rollins has got to pick it up.  While we can’t expect a triple-20 every season, Rollins numbers are way down.  Even his average is 20 points lower.  Part of that can be attributed to his early season stint on the DL with ankle woes and the other part could have to do lack of punch from the bottom of the lineup.

Philadelphia Daily News’ David Murphy comments;

The lineup will catch fire. They have scored 481 runs, second in the National League, but they are hitting only .257 as a team (eighth in the NL) and have been plagued by long stretches of inadequacy. But it’s only a matter of time before Jimmy Rollins catches fire, and, as Ryan Howard’s batting average rises, so will the potency of the lineup.

Everyone points the finger at Jimmy Rollins, but you can’t expect him to have the same season he did last year. His batting average (.274) is only three points lower than his career average, and he is on pace to tie a career high with 46 stolen bases. The bigger problem? The bottom of the lineup isn’t providing him with enough RBI opportunities. Rollins has only 31 RBI this season. Sure, he hasn’t been as productive as in years past, but he is hitting .298 with runners in scoring position and .327 with men on base. Problem is, 66 percent of his at-bats this season have occurred with the bases empty. Last year, the No. 6 spot in the lineup hit .289, the No. 7 spot hit .306, and the No. 8 spot hit .244. This year, those numbers are .253, .275 and .240, respectively. The Phillies need catcher Carlos Ruiz (.202) and rightfielder Geoff Jenkins (.237) to rebound in the second half.

The stats bear out that the Phillies have shown in recent years that they are a big second-half team.  The fact that they hit All Star break 8 games above .500 seems a huge bonus.  Hopefully, with 4 days rest, they head into Florida with a new head of steam and blow the Mets and Marlins away to win the NL East going away.

For all of the scores, boxscores and recaps on Friday’s, Saturday’s and Sunday’s games, click here, here and here.

Americans Nip Nationals in 15 innings, Unbeaten in 12 Star Games

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

    J.D. Drew   Yankee Stadium   Michael Young

Make that 11 wins and a tie for the American League in the last 12 All Star Games as Seattle Mariners perennial All Star centerfielder Ichiro Suzuki worked his annual trash-talking magic against the National League yet again, as he’s done each All Star Game since 2001.  It took fifteen innings this time as the Americans pushed in a run on a bases loaded sacrifice fly in the fifteenth inning to edge the Nationals by a 4-3 score.

Phillies’ closer Brad Lidge got into 1 out,  bases loaded jam as Minnesota Twins 1st baseman Justin Morneau singled to shallow center,Texas Rangers 2nd baseman Ian Kinsler lined out to leftfield and Tampa Bay Rays catcher Dioner Navarro followed by singling to centerfield. Lidge then walked Boston Red Sox rightfielder J.D. Drew loading the bases.  Texas Ranger shortstop Michael Young then drove in Morneau with the winning run on a sacrifice fly to rightfield, with Morneau glazing his right foot onto the plate barely beating Milwaukee rightfielder Corey Hart’s throw and  Atlanta catcher Brian McCann’s tag, to end the 4 hour, 50 minute Yankee Stadium marathon.

Colorado Rockies rightfieder Matt Holliday got the National League on the board first with a fifth inninglead-off solo homer to rightfield off of L.A. Angels’ Erwin Santana.  In the sixth, the Nationals scored their 2nd run on  Houston 1st baseman Lance Berkman’s sacrifice fly to centerfield off of  Oakland A’s Justin Duchscherer after Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez singled to leftfield and went to 3rd on Phillies 2nd baseman Chase Utley’s single to right.

Boston rightfielder J.D. Drew tied up the game in the seventh with a 2 run shot to right off of Cincinnati’s Edwin Volquez.

The Nationals went ahead again in the eighth on San Diego Padres 1st baseman Adrian Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly to center scoring Astro shortstop  Miguel Tejada who had singled, stole 2nd base and took 3rd on a catcher’s throwing error.

Hanley Ramirez, Tejada and St. Louis Cardinals’ DH Albert Pujols all had 2 hits for the Nationals.  Drew and Morneau had 2 hits each for the Americans.

The Americans tied it up in their eighth inning on pinch hitter Tampa Bay 3rd baseman Evan Longoria’s ground rule double to leftfield off of Mets closer Billy Wagner scored Cleveland centerfielder Grady Sizemore who had singled to rightfield and stole 2nd base.

Then came extra innings and the Nationals eluding jams in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth innings, in spite of 3 errors by Florida 2nd baseman  Dan Uggla, 2 plays at the plate in the tenth and one in the elventh, before finally going down in the fifteenth. Lidge, who was the 11th National League pitcher used, was charged with the loss.  For play-by-play on the game,  click here. 

Suzuki, who won the 2007 All Star classic with an inside-the-park- homer and who again trash-talked the NL in the pre-game pep talk, was 1 for 3 with a harmless third inning lead-off single to rightfield off of Milwaukee’s starter Ben Sheets.

AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum notes these game facts for Yahoo sports;

Young got the winning hit off Trevor Hoffman in the 2006 All-Star game at Pittsburgh, and it gave the win to Tampa Bay’s  Scott Kazmir, the 12th AL pitcher.

Young’s winning fly also avoided a repeat of 2002, when the game at Milwaukee ended in a 7-7, 12-inning tie—and caused the commissioner’s office to expand the rosters.

Drew was picked as the MVP, with his two-run homer in the seventh made it 2-all. Being from Boston, he was booed when presented with his trophy.

“One of those undescribable events,” Drew said. “To be voted in by the players and to be in this position is really an honor.”

This game tied the NL’s 2-1, 15-inning victory in 1967 at Anaheim.

With the American League win, the AL has earned the home field advantage in the 2008 World Series under the recent MLB rule-change awarding home field advantage to the league winning the season’s All Star game.

Former Yankee Bobby Murcer Succumbs to Cancer

Monday, July 14th, 2008

               Bobby Murcer      Bobby Murcer

Former Yankee outfielder Bobby Murcer, who played with the Bombers during their 11 year pennant drought (1965-1976), succumbed to brain cancer Saturday at Mercy Hospital in his hometown of Oklahoma City after a year and half battle.  He was first diagnosed with the disease in December, 2006.  Murcer was 62 years old.

Murcer, who played most of his 17 year career with the Yankees, also played 2 seasons with the San Francisco Giants and 3 seasons with the  Chicago Cubs and was a five-time All-Star (1971-76), a starting outfielder four times.

Although Murcer didn’t put up Hall of Fame numbers (252 HRs, 1,862 hits, 1043 RBIs), his lifetime batting average was .277 and his career spanned the seasons between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, and “Mr. October”  Reggie Jackson and Don Mattingly.

One of the great moments of Murcer’s career was giving a eulogy upon the death of teammate catcher Thurmon Munson who died tragically in a plane crash in August 1979.  In the game after the eulogy, Murcer drove in 5 runs, hitting a three-run homer and then a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth to beat Baltimore 5-4 in what will be remembered by Yanks fans as the Thurmon Munson game.

The Associated Press report on Murcer for Fox News notes;

A tearful Murcer fell into the arms of teammate Lou Piniella after the game and gave his bat to Munson’s wife.

“There is no way to explain what happened,” Murcer said. “We used every ounce of strength to go out and play that game. We won it for Thurman.”

After a stint with the Cubs, Murcer came back to the Yankees during the 1979 season. He had a pinch-hit grand slam in the 1981 opener and was a part-time player when he reached the World Series for the only time later that year, with New York losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

During his career, Murcer had a three-homer game, hit for the cycle and once homered in four straight at-bats.

Smart at the plate, he beat out Willie Mays in 1971 to lead the majors in on-base percentage. The next year, Murcer set career highs with 33 homers and 96 RBIs, and led the AL in total bases and runs. He finished with more career walks (862) than strikeouts (841).

He retired in June 1983 and moved into the broadcast booth that season, working as a color analyst on radio. He served one year as assistant general manager of the Yankees, returned as an announcer in 1989 and stayed in the booth.

Murcer is survived by his wife, his children, Tori and Todd, and his grandchildren.

Burrell’s Homer Breaks Tie, Keeps Phillies in 1st Place

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

              Pat Burrell         Pedro Feliz

Phillies leftfielder Pat Burrell broke up a 2-2 tie with a 3 run homer in the eighth inning after ace lefthander Cole Hamels and All Star and 2006 Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb battled in a seven inning pitching duel before they were both lifted to begin the eighth inning.  Reliever Ryan Madson made short work of Arizona while Chad Qualls was pounded for Burrell’s shot as well as a solo shot by 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz as the Phillies won the final game before All Star break by a 6-3 score.

With the win, the Phils assured themselves of holding on to 1st place in the NL East going into the four day All Star break.  Florida and Atlanta are both underway as this report is being written, while the Mets oppose Colorado on Sunday evening.

1st baseman Chad Tracy got Arizona on the board in the second inning on a 1 out solo shot off of Hamels.  The D-backs added their 2nd run in the fourth on catcher Robby Hammock’s 2 out RBI single to leftfield.   Despite 14 hits, the D-backs would not score again until the ninth.

The Phils got on the board in the fifth as Feliz led off with a single and scored when Hamels helped his cause with an RBI double to right centerfield.   Shortstop Jimmy Rollins tied the game in the seventh with a 2 out RBI double to rightfield.

Both Webb and Hamels exited the game for pinch hitters after seven innings.  Webb’s line was 108 pitches, 2 runs on 7 hits and 6 strikeouts.  Hamels tossed 98 pitches giving up 2 runs on 11 hits, with 1 walk and 8 strikeouts.  The starters were not in on the final decision.

Reliever Madson got through the eighth inning only giving giving up a single.  But Qualls hit big trouble in the Phillies eighth.

Both 2nd baseman Chase Utley and 1st baseman Ryan Howard singled bringing up Pat Burrell.  Pat “the Bat” went yard on Qualls for his 23rd homer as the Phils broke away at 5-2.  An out later, Feliz homered to add icing to the cake.  It was Feliz’s 3rd hit of the game.

The Phils brought closer Brad Lidge to pitch the ninth which became a wee-bit dicey.  Pinch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio led off with a single and got to 3rd base on a strikeout and a groundout to shortstop.  2nd baseman Orlando Hudson singled to center driving in Arizona’s 3rd run.  Lidge then struck out 3rd baseman Mark Reynolds to end the game.

For all of the scores, boxscores and recaps on Sunday’s games, click here.

The Phils, and the rest of MLB are now off for All Star break.  The Phils return to play on Friday, July 18, beginning a 3 game series in Florida with the Marlins followed by 3 games at Shea Stadium against the Mets.

For the scores, boxscores and recaps on Friday’s games following All Star break, click here.

Eaton Pummeled as Phillies Lose Big to Arizona

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

                    Shane Victorino

Arizona’s 44 year old veteran lefthander Randy “Big Unit” Johnson had just enough left in the tank to go six innings while helping his cause with the stick. The D-backs offense hammered Adam Eaton (for a change) for 8 runs in 3 1/3 innings and the Diamondbacks bullpen took over to shut down the Phillies as Arizona won by a 10-4 score.

With the loss, the Phillies NL East lead dropped to a mere 1/2 game over both the Florida Marlins and the Mets, who are tied for 2nd place, both won again.  The Mets won their 8th straight as Pedro Martinez and 4 relievers combined to toss a one hit shutout at Colorado.  Florida beat the Dodgers in extra innings.  4th place Atlanta beat the San Diego Padres to pick up a game on the Phillies and are 6 1/2 back.

The Diamondbacks broke in front on Eaton in the first inning as 1st baseman Chad Tracy got the first of his 3 hits, and 3 RBIs for the game, a 1 out, RBI single to rightfield after the first 2 hitters of the game signled.  With Tracy at 3rd base, 3rd baseman Mark Reynolds brought Tracy in with a fielders choice grounder. Reynolds, although going 1 for 4, drove in 4 runs.  2-0 D-backs.

Eaton got through the second and third innings easily as the Phillies tied the game in the bottom of the third on centerfielder Shane Victorino’s 1 out 2 run homer to leftfield.  The Flyin’ Hawaiian had a perfect day hitting 2 homers and a single and batting in 3 runs while walking in his 4th plate appearance.

But then the roof caved on Eaton in the fourth inning after he retired the first 2 hitters.  Rightfielder Alex Romero followed singling to center and catcher Robby Hammock drew a walk from Eaton.

The AP report for Yahoo sports describes what happened next;

A career .125 hitter, Johnson (6-7) laced a double to the left-field wall in the fourth inning to give Arizona a 4-2 lead. The Diamondbacks went on to match a club record for runs in an inning. In 573 career at-bats, Johnson now has 15 extra-base hits—14 of which are doubles.

“You’ve got to be able to help yourself and put the ball in play. It helped and, more importantly, it got us going a little bit,” Johnson said of his double, which came on a 3-2 fastball. “Every once in a while I’m lucky enough to put the ball in play. I take pride in it.”

Johnson’s trip around the bases caused a cramp in his calf that forced him to leave the game after warming up in the seventh inning. The 44-year-old Johnson departed after allowing four runs on five hits while striking out three and walking one.

“His base-running escapades took something out of him,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said, adding that the calf injury isn’t serious. “But I was impressed (with the double). He was grinding through the at-bat and finally got a ball that he could handle.”

Mark Reynolds’ three-run homer to left-center capped the inning that saw eight Diamondbacks score and every batter reach base. Arizona scored all eight runs with two outs.

In between “Unit’s” double and Reynolds’ homer, leftfielder Conor Jackson doubled driving in a run chasing Eaton who was charged with his 8th loss.  Charlie Manuel went to 25 year old lefthanded reliever R.J. Swindle who made his 3rd appearance since being called up from the minors.  1st baseman Tracy greeted him with a 2 run single followed by Reynolds’ 3 run blast.

Only 4 other Arizona hitters reached after the fourth inning as Swindle,  Rudy Seanez and Clay Condrey shut off the D-backs over the final 5 innings of the game.

The Phillies looked as if they could yet climb back into the game as 2nd baseman Eric Bruntlett, subbing for Chase Utley who was given the day off, doubled to rightfield to open the fifth inning. Catcher Carlos Ruiz grounded to shortstop as Bruntlett took 3rd base.  Swindle grounded out to 2nd base as Bruntlett scored the the 3rd Phillies run.  Victorino followed with his 2nd homer of the game, again to leftfield.  But then Johnson got rightfielder Jayson Werth to ground out to end the inning.

Johnson retired the Phillies in order in the sixth, and only 1 other Phillie hitter reached the rest of the way, on an eighth inning walk, as reliever  Leo Rosales and a demoted Micah Owings totally shut down the Phils.  Owings struck out 3 in his two innings of work. 

Johnson threw 84 pitches through six innings while giving up 4 runs on 5 hits and walking one while striking out 3 to win his 6th game vs 7 losses.

For all of the scores, boxscores and recaps on Saturday’s games, click here.

The Phils are in a must-win situation in Sunday’s finale before the All Star break with the Mets and Florida breathing down their necks at merely 1/2 game behind.  It won’t be easy as ace lefthander Cole Hamels at 9-6 is opposed by possible NL All Star starter Brandon Webb who sports a 13-4 record.

For the scores, boxscores and recaps on Sunday’s games, click here.

Phillies Nip Arizona on Werth’s Single in 12th

Saturday, July 12th, 2008

     Ryah Howard     Jayson Werth    Shane Victorino

The Phillies blew a 3-1 lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks and then had to come back from a 5-3 deficit on centerfielder Shane Victorino’s eighth inning 2 run triple to tie.  The Phils threatened in the ninth, tenth and eleventh innings before rightfielder Jayson Werth finally won it for the Phils by a 5-4 score on a 1 out walk-off single in the twelfth.

With the win, the Phillies 3rd straight, their NL East lead remained 1 1/2 games ahead of both the Florida Marlins and the Mets who are tied for 2nd place and who both won again.  For the Mets, it was their 7th straight win.  4th place Atlanta dropped to 7 1/2 games off of the pace in being shut out by the San Diego Padres.

1st baseman Ryan Howard solved 32 year old lefthander Doug Davis early, leading-off the second inning with his MLB-leading 28th homer to give the Phils a 1-0 lead.  The homer also extended Howard’s hitting streak to a season-high 14 games   The Phils could have had more in the inning as they loaded the bases on 2 walks by Davis and Kendrick’s 2 out bunt single.  But shortstop Jimmy Rollins flied out to rightfield to end the inning.  The Phillies would go on to have Diamondback pitchers on the ropes in each of the final 8 innings of the game.

Kendrick held on to the 1-0 lead through five innings until Diamondbacks’ 1st baseman Chad Tracy singled to left in the sixth to te the game at 1-1.

The Phillies came back against Davis in their sixth to take a 3-1 lead.   Philadelphia Daily News reporter Mike Kern describes the inning;

The Phils got two in the bottom of the inning, on a one hit. All after the first two batters went down.  Pedro Feliz worked a walk. Shane Victorino lined a double to right-center on which Alex Romero was forced to make a great play to cut off the ball and hold Feliz at third. Didn’t matter. Starter Doug Davis, after almost throwing a wild pitch, actually threw one, which gave the Phils the lead back. After Carlos Ruiz was intentionally walked - why he wasn’t in the first place is anyone’s guess – he tried to steal second, allowing Victorino to run home. Why the D-backs actually threw to second is, again, conjecture. It’s a play you see a lot in Little League. And it doesn’t usually work then.

A single, two doubles and a sacrifice fly scored 2 Arizona runs, tying the game in the seventh, and putting a runner on 3rd base while chasing Kendrick.  Newly called-up reliever R.J. Swindle replaced Kendrick and was greeted by 3rd baseman Augie Ojeda’s RBI single to rightfield to put the Diamondbacks up by 4-3.  Chad Durbin replaced Swindle as the Phils made a complete battery change bringing Chris Coste in to catch. The Phils got out of the inning with a strikeout and foul to catcher Coste but no further damage.

The Diamondbacks added their 5th run with 2 outs in the eighth as catcher  Miguel Motero singled off of Durbin, his 3rd hit of the game, and rightfielder Romero followed with a double to score Motero. 

Daily News reporter Kern describes Romero’s double;

They [Arizona] would add a run in the eighth, a two-out run-scoring double to center by that Romero guy, who’d just been recalled from the minors and was hitting all of .238 coming in. Only Victorino’s leap and near catch kept it from going over the fence.

Victorino lept over the centerfield wall and the ball popped out of his glove back onto the field as the Flyin’ Hawaiian hit the wall.  Romero was nailed at 3rd base to end the inning as he tried to stretch the double to a triple.

Arizona’s lead was short-lived as Victorino took over with the bat where he left off in the field.  With runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out, Victorino lined a triple to the rightfield corner off of reliever Tony Pena driving in the tying runs.

Meanwhile, the Phillies marched 4 relievers out between the ninth and twelfth innings allowing only 2 D-backs to reach, on a single and a walk.  Reliever Rudy Seanez pitched the twelfth inning and put the lights out on Arizona on 8 pitches including a strikeout to gain his 4th win vs 3 losses for the season.

The Phils maintained pressure on the D-backs offensively as well putting runners in scoring position in the ninth through twelfth innings.  Facing reliever Conner Robertson in the twelfth, the Phils finally won on Werth’s walkoff single to right which followed pinch hitter So Taguchi’s single to left, Chris Coste’s sacrifice moving Taguchi to 2nd and an intentional walk to Jimmy Rollins. Robertson was charged with the loss.

For all of the scores, boxscores and recaps on Friday’s games, click here.

With the red-hot Mets riding a 7 game winning streak and hosting the NL West 4th place Colorado Rockies for 2 more games before the All Star break, the Diamondbacks become a must-sweep for the Phillies in order to at least maintain their 1 1/2 game lead, if not more. On Saturday, Adam Eaton tries to rebound after a disastrous last start where he gave up 6 runs in 2 1/3 innings.   Eaton is opposed by veteran 44 year old lefthander Randy “Big Unit” Johnson who was excellent in his last start after being pounded in 3 of his previous 4 starts.

In Sunday’s finale before All Star break, ace lefthander Cole Hamels at 9-6 is opposed by possible NL All Star starter Brandon Webb who sports a 13-4 record.

For the scores, boxscores and recaps on Saturday’s and Sunday’s games,  click here and here.