Blogging Baseball: All-time baseball highlights and real-time commentary

Archive for September, 2008

Phillies Beat Nationals in Season Finale as Bench Shines

Monday, September 29th, 2008

         Lou Marson     Les Walrond

The Phillies showed their depth by resting their starting lineup in a meaningless final game of the season as leftfielder So Taguchi went 3 for 5 with 3 RBIs, 22 year old catching prospect Lou Marson went 2 for 4 including a 2 run homer and pinch hitter Matt Stairs followed Marson with a solo shot in a 3 run eighth.  31 year old reliever Les Walrond notched his 1st MLB win in relief of Kyle Kendrick as the Phillies tacked on win 92 vs 70 losses with an 8-3 win over Washington.

The National League division playoff scheduling finally took form as the  Milwaukee Brewers nailed down the Wild Card spot by edging the Cubs by  3-1 on C.C. Sabathia’s complete game 4 hitter on 3 days rest.  Meanwhile, the Mets bullpen failed them yet again completing their 2nd straight season-end collapse as the Florida Marlins rallied for 2 eighth inning runs to nip them by a 4-2 score.  

As a result, the Cubs will play the Dodgers while the Phils play the Brewers as the NL division series games begin on Wednesday.

Both starters, Odalis Perez and Kyle Kendrick were touched up over 3 2/3 and 4 innings respectively.  Walrond and 3 other Phillies pitchers held Washington scoreless over the final 5 innings, despite 5 hits and 2 walks.

The Phillies nicked lefthander Odalis Perez at the start as shortstop Eric Bruntlett and 2nd baseman Tad Iguchi singled and doubled repectively putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with 1 out.  Bruntlett then scored on Perez’s wild pitch.

The Nationals tied the score at 1-1 in the third inning on young catcher  Luke Montz’s leadoff homer off of Kyle Kendrick who had retired the first 6 Nationals he faced on 23 pitches.  Kendrick was assigned the start as the Phils opted to rest ace lefthander Cole Hamels in order that he start the first playoff game against the Brewers having had plenty of rest.  Kendrick then retired the next 3 Nationals on 8 pitches to end the inning before running into 2 run, 3 hit trouble in the fourth inning, his last, as the Nationals took a 3-1 lead.

AP Sports Writer Dan Gelston recaps the rest of the game for Yahoo sports;

Taguchi and Eric Bruntlett drove in runs for the Phillies in the fourth to put them up 4-3. Odalis Perez (7-12) gave up eight hits and four runs in 3 2-3 innings, leaving with nausea and some lightheadedness.

[Ryan] Howard received a standing ovation and heard chants of “MVP! MVP!” when he pinch-hit in the sixth. He poked a single to left and became the only Phillie to play in all 162 games this season. Howard scored on Taguchi’s triple to right for a 5-3 lead—the slugging first baseman wisely deciding not slide on a close play at the plate.

Marson, who made his major league debut, and Stairs connected in the eighth inning.

Lefthanded reliever Les Walrond replaced Kendrick a pitched socreless fifth and sixth innings giving up only 2 hits while walking none and striking out 4 and was credited with his 1st MLB win.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, the Brewers started C.C. Sabathia on 3 days rest for the 3rd straight time and Sabathia came through with a dominant four-hit complete game stiking out 7 while walking only 1. 

AP’s Gelston surmised;

Pitching Sabathia was fine with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

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

The Phillies now have 2 days off to savor their 2nd straight NL East division championship before the Milwaukee Brewers arrive in town to begin the NL division playoffs on Wednesday.  A well rested lefthander Cole Hamels will open for the Phils.  The Brewers have yet to announce their starter for game 1.

Pitching assignments appear to line up like this so far for the 2nd game of the series.  C.C. Sabathia goes on Thursday against Brett Myers.

In the Cubs/Dodgers series, Derek Lowe opposes Ryan Dempster in Wednesday’s opener and Chad Billingsley faces Carlos Zambrano in game 2.

Meanwhile, in the American League, Boston opens on the West Coast against the L.A. Angels on Wednesday as lefthander Jon Lester is opposed by John Lackey.

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

Phillies Repeat as NL East Champs: First Thoughts

Sunday, September 28th, 2008

                                  Phillies

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins’ sudden, dramatic, sliding stop of Ryan Zimmerman’s 1 out, bases loaded grounder in the hole was not the kind of clinching finish which I envisioned, but, man, we’ll take it anyway.  Heaven knows how many bad bounces and fielding miscues have sunk the  Phillies in crucial situations through the years.  And who can forget their 1964 collapse?

The Mets had shut out Florida in their Saturday game by a 2-0 score, thanks an awesome complete game effort by their ace Johan Santana.  The Phils magic number stood at 1 after their 8-4 Friday win over the Nationals.

After seeing the Phils go ut to an early 2-0 lead and take a 3-1 on rightfielder Jayson Werth’s fifth inning lead-off homer, centerfielder  Lastings Milledge’s eighth inning sacrifice fly to shallow centerfield was caught on a running catch by Rollins as he collided with centerfielder  Shane Victorino with shortstop Cristian Guzman scoring from 3rd base on the play.  Victorino singled with 2 out in the Phillies’ eighth and scored on 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz’s double to give the Phils a 4-2 lead.

In came dominant closer Brad Lidge to sew up the game and I expected a replay of  Brett Myers’ closing ninth inning last season against the Nationals — 15 pitches, 11 strikes; 2 strikeouts with a fly out to leftfield sandwiched in-between.

Instead, we saw Lidge strike out pinch hitter Emilio Bonaficio on 5 pitches after falling behind in the count 2-0.  Leftfielder Roger Bernadina laced Lidge’s 0-1 pitch to rightfield for a single.  Pinch hitter Ryan Langerhans then worked a full count before Lidge walked him.  Recent call-up 2nd baseman Anderson Hernandez then stroked Lidge’s 1-1 pitch to right centerfield scoring Bernadina with Washington’s 3rd run.  Guzman followed with a single to centerfield on a 2-2 pitch to load bases.

It appeared that Lidge was about to blow a save, and perhaps the game in what was the most crucial situation of the season.  But with the count 1-1, Rollins made a super play to stop Zimmerman’s grounder in the hole for the game-ending, title-clinching doubleplay on Lidge’s 24th pitch of the inning.

              Moyer Repeats Clutch Performance Parallels Last Season

Last season, Moyer went 5 1/3 innings in the title-clinching game on the last day of the season giving 1 run on 5 hits while walking none and striking out 5 on 97 pitches.   This season’s clincher saw Moyer go 6 innings giving up 1 run on 6 hits while walking 1 and striking out 1 on 86 pitches.  As I’ve written the most recent previous posts, Jamie Moyer, with his 16-7 record and 3.78 ERA, deserves serious consideration for the Cy Young Award.

And so, now we wait to see how Sunday’s games between the Mets and Marlins, and Cubs and Brewers play out to see who gets the Wild Card spot and who plays who in the NL divisional playoffs with the Phils, the Cubs and the Dodgers having clinched.

Phillies Edge Nationals, Clinch NL East; Mets, Brewers Tied for Wild Card

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

    Jayson Werth   Jamie Moyer    Jimmy Rollins

Lefthander Jamie Moyer, all 45 years of him, repeated on Saturday, clinching a Phillies NL East title for the 2nd straight season with a 4-3 win. He gave up 1 run on 6 hits in his six inning outing as rightfielder Jayson Werth solo homered in the fifth inning, Pedro Feliz doubled in what turned out to be the winning run in the eighth and Brad Lidge eluded a 1 out, bases-loaded jam in the ninth by getting Nationals’ 3rd baseman  Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending short-to-2nd-to-1st double play.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs upended the Milwaukee Brewers by a 7-3 score throwing the NL Wild Card into a tie between the Brewers and the  Mets with the last games of the rgular season to be played on Sunday.

On Sunday, while the Mets throw Oliver Perez against Florida’s Scott Olsen in a duel of lefties, Carlos Zambrano will be opposing lefthander C.C. Sabathia in a battle of aces with both the Mets and Brewers hoping to take the Wild Card without the necessity of a Monday tie-breaker.

With Moyer and young lefthander John Lannan wrapped in a 0-0 duel, the Phillies broke through in the fourth for 2 runs on 3 hits.

AP sports writer Rob Maaddi recaps the Phillies’division title clinching game for Yahoo sports;

By the time the Phillies came to the plate in the first, Johan Santana already had pitched the Mets to a 2-0 victory over Florida. With no reason to watch the out-of-town scoreboard, the Phillies took care of their own business.

Not known for their situational hitting, the Phillies used a pair of sacrifice flies to take a 2-0 lead in the fourth.

Utley fisted a single over the second baseman’s head to start the inning. After [Ryan] Howard dropped a single to left to put runners at the corners, [Pat] Burrell’s sacrifice fly gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead.  [Shane] Victorino followed with a single and [Pedro] Feliz walked to load the bases. Carlos Ruiz’s sacrifice fly made it 2-0.

[Anderson] Hernandez cut the deficit in half with a two-out RBI double off right fielder Werth’s glove in the fifth. Werth answered in the bottom half with an opposite-field homer to right.

Jamie Moyer (16-7) allowed one run and six hits in six innings, matching Hall of Famer Phil Niekro for most wins by a pitcher 45 or older. Niekro, a knuckleballer, had 16 wins at 45 and 46 while pitching for the New York Yankees in 1984-85.

Moyer easily could’ve won 20 games with a little more run support. He had a stretch of 14 consecutive starts in which he allowed three runs or less, but only went 5-4 in that span.

Relying on his typical assortment of slow stuff and barely-80s fastball, Moyer kept the Nationals off-balance. The native son also earned the win in last year’s clinching game against Washington. Moyer grew up in nearby Souderton and played hooky from school to attend the Phillies’ victory parade on Broad Street in 1980. He’d like to be riding on the float this time.

“Hopefully, we can build off what we did last year and go deep,” Moyer said.

Nationals starter John Lannan (9-15) gave up three runs and seven hits in five innings

Chad Durbin pitched a scoreless seventh and Ryan Madson allowed one run in the eighth, helped by an outstanding catch by Rollins.

With runners at second and third and no outs, [Jimmy] Rollins ran a long way to make an over-the-shoulder catch on Lastings Milledge’s sacrifice fly to shallow center that cut the Phillies’ lead to 3-2.

Center fielder Shane Victorino was shaken up after Rollins ran into him, but stayed in the game. He singled and scored an insurance run on Feliz’s RBI double in the eighth.

Anderson Hernandez blooped an RBI single to cut it to 4-3 in the ninth. Cristian Guzman followed with a single to load the bases with one out, but Rollins stopped the rally with a clutch play.

Rollins made a sliding stop with the bases loaded to start a game-ending double play, and the Philadelphia Phillies clinched their second consecutive NL East title by holding off the Washington Nationals 4-3 on Saturday.

Moyer threw 89 pitches during his six innings giving up 1 run on 6 hits while walking 1 and striking out 1 to finish the regular season with a nifty 3.78 ERA and, by my account, in the running for the Cy Young Award.   Closer Brad Lidge notched his 41st save in 41 opportunities.

It’s been quite a season; a season where the Phils proved conclusively that 2007 was no fluke, no aberration and that they are “the team to beat”, notwithstanding Santana.

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

Ace lefthander Cole Hamels is still scheduled, as of this post, to oppose lefthander Odalis Perez on Sunday although it is likely that the Phils will opt to scratch him from this start to rest him for the playoffs.  They have young lefthander J.A. Happ available to pitch on 6 rest or they could go with giving Kyle Kendrick a shot at redemption in the regular season finale.

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

Santana Pitches Clutch Complete Game, Mets Not Out Yet

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

                    Johan Santana

The Mets were pressed into starting Johan Stantana against Florida’s Ricky Nolasco.  Santana was going on 3 days rest after having tossed 125 pitches in his previous start.

The Mets won the game by a 2-0 score as Santana came up with a clutch complete game 3 hit 117 pitch shutout to pull within 1 1/2 games of the first place Phillies whose game with the Nationals just got underway.

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Brewers belted the Chicago Cubs on Friday and lead NL Wild Card by 1/2 game over the Mets who are in peril of seeing their season end in the regulation 162 games as the NL East and Wild Card races reach their home stretch climax. 

Phillies Blow Past Nationals, 1 Game From NL East Title

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

     Ryan Howard      Joe Blanton     Chase Utley

1st baseman Ryan Howard blasted his MLB-leading 48th homer, a 3 run job in the first inning. 2nd baseman Chase Utley bashed a bases-clearing 3 run double in the second and Joe Blanton was effective enough, although giving up 4 runs, 3 unearned, as the Phillies blew past the Washington Nationals in their Friday opener by an 8-4 score.

The win, coupled with the Mets’ 6-1 loss to the Florida Marlins on Friday, the Phils moved 2 games head of the Mets and to within 1 game of their 2nd straight NL East division title. The Phils magic number is presumably 1 game to clinch at least a tie for the NL wild card berth.

Collin Balester started against Blanton as the Nationals made a last minute move changing from the originally scheduled starter 24 year old lefthander  John Lannan.  Lefthander Lannon is now set to go in a leftys’ duel with  Jamie Moyer on Saturday.

The Phillies went right to work on Balester for 3 first inning runs and 4 more in the second on 7 hits as the youngster chased after 1 2/3 innings.

AP sports writer Rob Maaddi recaps the game for Yahoo sports;

Fans kept a close eye on the out-of-town scoreboard, cheering when the Marlins took a 2-0 lead in the first inning at Shea Stadium.

A few minutes later, Howard got them roaring when he connected to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead in the first. The sellout crowd screamed “MVP! MVP!” and waved their white-and-red “Fightin’ Phils” towels in appreciation.

Jayson Werth and Utley hit one-out singles in the first to bring up Howard. The 2006 NL MVP drove an 0-1 pitch into Philadelphia’s bullpen in right-center.

Howard is batting .349 (29-for-83) with 11 homers and 32 of his major league-best 146 RBIs this month. He has raised his overall average to .250 and is making a strong push to win his second MVP award in three years, though teammate Brad Lidge deserves serious consideration.

The Phillies chased Balester with four, two-out runs in the second inning to take a 7-1 lead.

Greg Dobbs led off with a double.  Jimmy Rollins walked with two outs and Werth reached on an infield single to load the bases. Utley missed a slam by a few feet, clearing the bases with a double off the left-field wall. Howard followed with an RBI double to left.

The Nationals chipped away against Blanton (4-0), but four relievers combined to toss three scoreless innings.

The Nationals scored a pair of unearned runs in the fifth after Howard booted Pete Orr’s grounder with one out. Emilio Bonifacio had a sacrifice fly and Cristian Guzman singled in a run to cut it to 7-3.

[Kory] Casto hit a solo homer in the sixth to get the Nationals within 7-4. Umpires used instant replay to make sure the ball cleared the right-field wall before it fell onto the field after a fan dropped it.

The Phillies reached 90 wins for the 12th time in the franchise’s 126-year history. They hadn’t done it since winning 97 games in 1993.

Blanton allowed four runs—one earned—and five hits. The right-hander was 5-12 with Oakland before joining the Phillies in a midseason trade.

The Phillies are 9-4 in Blanton’s 13 starts.

Blanton threw 89 pitches in 6 innings, and Scott Eyre, Ryan Madson and J.C. Romero held the Nationals to 1 hit over the seventh and eighth innings before Lidge polished off the Nationals on 13 pitches, 2 strikeoouts and a groundout to ice the win.

Some additional thoughts;

90 Wins is not 100, but the Phils did hit the 90 win plateau with every possibility of finishing with 93 wins. Who would have thunk they’d do it when they were in the July duldroms? But the race ain’t over until it’s clinched. Go Jamie!

By the way, about Moyer;  I have not heard or seen this anywhere else, but I hold that Jamie Moyer MUST be considered seriously for the Cy Young Award.

One more thing to share as it seems appropo for this team;

It’s 1983, the season that the Phils caught lightning in a bottle winning 14 of their last 16 games of the season with Steve Carlton near the end of his great career, John Denny’s career season, Mike Schmidt, Gary Maddox and a patchwork group including Bo Diaz, Juan Samuel, five-for-one Von Hayes, Gary Matthews as well as Pete Rose, Joe Morgan and Tony Perez at the ends of their careers. They were in the final game of their 3-1 belting of the L.A. Dodgers in the 1983 NL Championship Series — I remember to this day; former Phillies great centerfielder and game announcer Richie Ashburn laughing hysterically, almost insanely as the Phils finished off the Dodgers to head to the World Series against the Orioles. One of the all-time great Phillies fans moments.

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

Lefthanders 45 year old Jamie Moyer and Cole Hamels oppose lefthanders John Lannon and Odalis Perez on Saturday and Sunday.

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

Mets Rally to Edge Cubs, Phillies Magic # Still 3

Friday, September 26th, 2008

The Mets rallied late in the game, despite the rain, to overcome a 6-3  Chicago Cubs lead to tie the game in the eighth inning.  With shortstop  Jose Reyes on 2nd base having led off the ninth with a single off of Cubs reliever Kevin Hart and having advanced to 2nd base on an intentional walk to 1st baseman Carlos Delgado, centerfielder Carlos Beltran laced the game-winning RBI single to rightfield as the Mets edged the Cubs by a 7-6 score.

With the win, the Mets moved within 1 game of the Phillies who had Thursday off. The Phils magic number remained at 3 games to clinch the NL East and presumably 2 games to clinch a wild card berth.

The Cubs’ loss ruined a career 2 homer, 5 RBI, 5 for 5 game for 28 year old rookie 1st baseman Micah Hoffpauir.

With the score knotted at 3-3 in the Cubs 7th inning, the crew from the windy city rallied for 3 runs off of Pedro Martinez and recent call-up lefthanded reliever Ricardo Rincon as Martinez could get no one out in the inning.  In fact, Rincon pitched only got one out in the seventh with Brian Stokes finishing up the inning.

3 Met relievers held the Cubs off of the board the rest of the way despite allowing 2 hits and issuing 2 walks through the final 2 innings.  Meanwhile, after the Cubs replaced starter Rich Harden to begin the seventh inning, the Mets clubbed the Chicago bullpen for a run in the seventh on Reyes’ groundout (the run scoring from 3rd), and two 2 out runs on 4 straight singles and a stolen base in-between in the eighth to tie the game.   Beltran’s walk-off game-winning RBI single in the ninth made a losing pitcher of reliever Hart.  Reliever Joe Smith, who pitched the ninth, was credited with the win for the Mets after replacing Pedro Feliciano who gave up a leadoff single.

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

The Phillies open their crucial regular-season ending 3 game series entertaining the Washington Nationals.  The Phils have to focus and get this in their minds; Sweep the Nationals and watch what the Mets and Brewers do along the way.  Sweep the Nationals and what the Mets do doesn’t matter.

In Friday’s opener, Joe Blanton opposes 24 year old lefthander John Lannan.

Lefthanders 45 year old Jamie Moyer and Cole Hamels oppose lefthander  Odalis Perez and 21 year old Shairon Martis on Saturday and Sunday.

Important to note: The Mets play their final 3 games against a tough group of Marlins who are out of the running for a playoff spot but who have some points to prove.  Meanwhile, the dangerous Milwaukee Brewers are breathing heavily down the necks of the Mets for the wild card spot as both the NL East and Wild Card races reach their climax. 

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