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Archive for July, 2011

Offense Clicks as Phillies Pound Pirates in First 2 Games

Sunday, July 31st, 2011

Roy Halladay   Chase Utley   Jimmy Rollins   Ryan Howard   Cliff Lee
The Phillies offense clicked on a number of cylinders against Pittsburgh on Friday and Saturday behind ace  Roy Halladay and lefthander Cliff Lee.  And they added an additional tool to their offensive mix obtaining All Star outfielder Hunter Pence from Houston for 3 minor league prospects in a non-waiver trade on Friday.    On Friday, 2nd baseman Chase Utley and shortstop Jimmy Rollins were the offensive stars, each hitting a homer as Utley went 3 for 5 with 4 RBIs — 3 of them driven in on his second inning homer and Rollins hitting a seventh inning 2 run shot as the Phils pummelled Pirates starter Charlie Morton and reliever Jason Grilli.   Halladay carried a 1 hit shutout through seven innings tossing 98 pitches before being lifted to win his 13th game.    The Bucs scored their 3 runs in the eighth inning off of reliever Drew Carpenter before David Herndon tossed a 14 pitch clean ninth inning striking out 2 to seal the win.   On Saturday, Cliff Lee struck out 11 Bucs in 7 2/3 innings while coughing up 2 runs each in the fourth and eighth innings enroute to finally winning his 10th game.  1st baseman Ryan Howard was the big offensive noise in this one with a perfect 4 for 4 game with 3 RBIs, even drawing a walk and pounding a 2nd inning homer off of Bus’ starter James McDonald to put the Phils’ 1st run on the board.   Rollins slammed his 2nd homer in 2 games in the third inning as the Phils held a 3-0 lead in the fourth before 3rd baseman  Pedro Alvarez reached Lee for a 2 out 2 run homer to narrow the Phils’ lead to 3-2.    The Phils scored 2 answering runs in their fourth as McDonald left after five, and another in the seventh on catcher Carlos Ruiz’s RBI double.   Pence collected his 1st hit and RBI as a Phillie driving in the final runin the eighth as the offense clicked and the Phillies pounded the Pirates by 10-3 and 7-4 in the first 2 games of their series.

Despite their 2 wins, the Phils’  NL East lead remained at 5 games over the 2nd place Atlanta Braves who also took 2 from the 4th place Florida Marlins.  The 3rd place Mets dropped to 12 1/2 games back splitting 2 games with last place Washington, while the 4th place Florida Marlins dropped to 15 1/2 games back.

Carpenter, who relieved Halladay on Friday was tagged for the Bucs’ 3 runs on 3 hits and walk in the eighth inning before being optioned with outfielder Domonic Brown to make room for Pence and reactivated 3rd baseman Placido Polanco.   Brown, 1st baseman Ryan Howard, leftfielder Raul Ibanez and 3rd baseman Wilson Valdez had a hit each and each drove in a run while centerfielder Shane Victorino went 3 for 5 and scored a run.

Hunter Pence
Victorino, who collected 5 hits in the 2 games opened Saturday’s eighth inning with a single to rightfield off of Bucs reliever Jose Veras.  After Utley grounded out, Howard was intentionally walked.  Pence then came through singling to center to drive in Victorino.   The Phils had a chance for more scoring in the eighth as Polanco singled in his 1st game back to load the sacks with 2 out.  But Veras got Carlos Ruiz to line out to shortstop.Meanwhile, reliever Antonio Bastardo replaced Lee with 2 on and 2 out in the eighth striking out Alvarez to end the inning.   Closer Ryan Madson then struck out the side on 13 pitches in the ninth to earn his 18th save.   Lee threw 128 pitches in 7 2/3 innings giving up 4 runs on 8 hits.For more background on the 2 games, click on the AP game recaps for Yahoo sports here and here.For all of Friday’s and Saturday’s scores and recaps, click here and here.

The Phils hope for a 3 game sweep of the Pirates to finish out July as youngster  Vance Worley, off of his 1st MLB complete game, looks for his 8th win opposing Jeff Karstens for the Bucs.  The Phils head out after Sunday’s game to begin a 3 game series with the Colorado Rockies beginning on Monday and followed by 4 games with San Francisco.

For all of Sunday’s scheduled games throughout MLB, click here.

A Tropical Halladay OR The Phainting Phanatic

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Phainting Phanatic
I received an email this morning with this humorous cartoon, timely for Roy Halladay’s swoon at Wrigley Field and the scorching heat throughout the country.
Hat Tip to Gary Finkler’s 7th Inning Sketch.

Giants Top Phillies Behind Lincecum, Bullpen

Friday, July 29th, 2011

The on-again, off-again Phillies offense, stifled by Giants’ Matt Cain on Wednesday, were again totally shut down on Thursday by ace Tim Lincecum.  Meanwhile, the Giants scored single runs in the second and fourth innings, as well as 2 more runs in the seventh off of Kyle Kendrick building a 4-0 the Phils blew scoring chances in the first, third and fifth innings before 2nd baseman Chase Utley’s 2 out seventh inning double plated the Phils’ only run. They could have scored more in the seventh but 3rd baseman  Michael Martinez was stranded on 3rd base as 1st baseman Ryan Howard grounded out to end the inning.  In the ninth, pinch hitter Ross Gload connected for a 1 out double off of closer Brian Wilson but was stranded on 3rd base with Wilson striking out Martinez to end it.   Kendrick went 6 1/3 innings, and the 4 relievers who came after retired the final 8 Frisco hitters but the Giants topped the Phillies by 4-1 behind Lincecum and the bullpen thus taking 2 of the 3 games from the Phils.

Despite their 2nd straight loss, the Phils’  NL East lead remained at 5 games over the 2nd place Atlanta Braves who lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The 3rd place Mets moved to 11 1/2 games back, while the 4th place Florida Marlins improved to 13 1/2 games back, 2 1/2 games ahead of Washington by again beating the Nationals.

In what seemed the only piece of good news for the Phils in this one, newly acquired outfielder Carlos Beltran took an 0-4 collar in his debut appearance with the Giants after coming from the Mets in a non-waiver trade on Wednesday.

AP’s Thursday game recap for Yahoo sports on notes:

Lincecum and Matt Cain dominated the Phillies last October, and they did so again in this series.

“Our pitchers did a great job and we got the hits when we needed,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “They’re a great club.”

Lincecum (9-8) showed no negative effects from the stomach illness that forced him to push his start back two days. The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner allowed three hits, struck out six and worked around four walks.

“I felt fine, a little fatigued but I just tried to keep a good pace,” Lincecum said.

The Phillies hadn’t lost consecutive games since June 4. They went a club-record 45 straight games without dropping two straight.

[Pablo] Sandoval
gave the NL West leaders a 1-0 lead when he led off the second inning with an opposite-field shot to left. It was Sandoval’s 10th homer, becoming the first Giant to reach double digits this season.

Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick (5-5) gave up four runs—three earned—and six hits in 6 1-3 innings.

The Giants went up 2-0 in the fourth when Nate Schierholtz ripped an RBI single.  Aubrey Huff hit a two-out double and scored on Schierholtz’s liner to right-center.

In the seventh, the Giants had runners at first and third with one out when pinch-hitter Aaron Rowand hit a grounder to third.  Michael Martinez bobbled it and then made a wild throw to first base. Schierholtz scored from third and Chris Stewart came all the way around from first, sliding in safely on a close play at the plate to make it 4-0.

Ramon Ramirez took over for Lincecum to start the seventh. He gave up a double to Carlos Ruiz. Chase Utley drove him in when he hit a double off Jeremy Affeldt later in the inning.

Brian Wilson finished for his 33rd save in 37 chances.

Before the at-bat against Affeldt, Utley had stranded five runners, including three in scoring position, in his first three times up.

The Phillies had a runner on third with one out in the first after [Jimmy] Rollins led off with a double and advanced on a bunt. But Utley popped out to shortstop and Ryan Howard struck out. Utley struck out with men on first and third to end the third. He struck out with two runners on to end the fifth.

Roy Oswalt (back) is expected to make another rehab start before possibly rejoining Philadelphia’s rotation. … All-Star 3B Placido Polanco is moving closer toward returning to the Phillies. He’s scheduled to play nine innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Friday. … Rollins snapped an 0-for-19 slump with his double.

Reliever Brad Lidge, recently reactivated from the DL, has given up no runs, no hits while walking 1 and striking out 2 in 2 appearances over 1 1/3 innings in his first action in 2011.

For all of Thursday’s scores and recaps, click here.

The Pittsburgh Pirates are next into Philly for the final 3 games of this 10 game homestand to finish out July.   Ace Roy Halladay goes for the Phils in Friday’s opener against Charlie Morton.   On Saturday, lefthander Cliff Lee again tries for that elusive 10th win opposed by James McDonald.

For all of Friday’s and Saturday’s scheduled games throughout MLB, click here and here.

Cain Handcuffs Offense as Giants Edge Phillies

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels dueled with Giants’ Matt Cain as Cain stiffled the Phils offense holding them to a run and spreading out 4 hits while pitching into the eighth inning.  Hamels gave 2 runs on 6 hits over 7 2/3 innings an deserved a better fate than losing his 6th game along with his 12 wins.  Ex-Phil centerfielder Aaron Rowand tripled in the Giants 1st run in the third inning while rightfielder  Nate Schierholtz doubled in the winning run in the seventh.   Rightfielder Domonic Brown’s 1 out  single drove in the Phils’ only run in their seventh.   Runners were few and far in-between for the Phils offense as catcher Carlos Ruiz went out twice with runners on base grounding out to end the second inning leaving 2 on and grounding into a doubleplay with Brown on 1st in the seventh.   The Phils had shortstop Jimmy Rollins at 2nd base in scoring position with 2 outs in the eighth against lefthanded reliever Javier Lopez, but 2nd baseman Chase Utley flied out to centerfied to end the inning.   Closer Brian Wilson set the zPhils down in order in the ninth inning as Cain handcuffed the offense as the Giants edged the Phillies by 2-1 to knot the 3 game series at 1 win apiece.

With the loss, the Phils’  NL East lead dropped to 5 games over the 2nd place Atlanta Braves who edged the Pittsburgh Pirates again in extra innings.  The 3rd place Mets moved to 12 1/2 games back, while the 4th place Florida Marlins improved to 14 1/2 games back and 1 1/2 games ahead of  Washington by nipping the Nationals.

AP’s game recap for Yahoo sports summarized the game:

Rowand helped the Giants strike first when he sliced an opposite-field triple into the right-field corner in the third for a 1-0 lead.

Jeff Keppinger doubled to lead off the seventh and Cody Ross, the NLCS MVP, walked.   Nate Schierholtz followed with a low liner and right fielder Domonic Brown took a weird route before failing on a diving attempt, helping the Giants extend the lead to 2-0.

Hamels, who threw eight shutout innings in his last start against San Diego, escaped the rest of the [seventh] inning without further damage after loading the bases with no outs. Rowand grounded into a double play to end the rally.

Staked to a 2-0 lead, Cain ran into trouble in the seventh. Cain and catcher Eli WhitesideShane Victorino’s infield popup. They bumped each other and the ball was knocked into foul territory for a two-base error. Brown’s hard grounder deflected off first baseman Aubrey Huff and into right to make it 2-1.  Carlos Ruiz hit into a double play to end the threat. couldn’t get out of each other’s way on

Cain allowed an unearned run and four hits before he was yanked when pinch-hitter  Ross Gload reached on catcher’s interference leading off the eighth. Javier Lopez got three outs and Brian Wilson finished for his 32nd save and a combined four-hitter. The Giants have won 12 of 17.

For all of Wednesday’s scores and recaps, click here.

On Thursday, the Phils hope to continue their string of 10 straight series wins as Klye Kendrick is slated to oppose Giant ace Tim Lincecum and to face centerfielder Carlos Beltran, now in a Giants uniform as a result of the non-waiver trade between the Mets and Giants.  Lincecum suffered from a stomach virus and thus had his start postponed from Tuesday’s opener to Thursday.

For all of Thursday’s scheduled games throughout MLB, click here.

Worley, Ibanez Lead Phillies Past Giants

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Raul Ibanez    Vance Worley    Chase Utley
Young Phillies starter Vance Worley tossed a 1 run, 3 hit 114 pitch masterpiece for his 1st MLB career complete game.   Leftfielder Raul Ibanez’s first inning 3 run homer led a 4 run outburst in the opening frame against San Francisco lefthander Barry Zito, a last minute replacement for ace Tim Lincecum due to a stomach virus.    Zito went seven innings giving up 6 runs, including 2 other Phillie homers — rightfielder John Mayberry Jr.’s fouth inning solo blast and 2nd baseman Chase Utley’s sixth inning inside-the-park homer as the Phils made economic use of their 7 hits.  1st baseman Ryan Howard capped Phillies’ scoring with an eighth inning solo clout to centerfield off of reliever Guillermo Mota as Worley and Ibanez led the Phillies past the Giants by 7-2 in the opener of their 3 game series.

With the win, the Phils maintained their 6 game NL East lead over the 2nd place  Atlanta Braves who edged the Pittsburgh Pirates in a classic nineteen inning battle.  The 3rd place Mets remained 13 1/2 games back, while the Florida Marlins crept into 4th place 15 1/2 games back and 1/2 game ahead of the Washington Nationals who they pummelled on Tuesday.

AP’s game recap for Yahoo sports provides the highlights:

Worley (7-1) had five strikeouts and one walk, and has allowed two earned runs or less in 11 of his 13 career starts. It was Worley’s fifth straight win and first career complete game.

“He did a real good job,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s aggressive and goes right at them.”

“I think I’m figuring how to pitch now,” Worley said.

Manuel said Worley deserved to go the distance.

“I think it does something for the guy,” Manuel said. “I wanted him to stay in there for himself. He earned the right.”

Lincecum was scratched two hours before the game and listed as day-to-day. He could pitch Wednesday against the Phillies, taking Zito’s place. Manager Bruce Bochy said after the game that a decision would be made Wednesday.

Zito, pitching on nine days’ rest, was roughed up in the first inning when Philadelphia scored four runs.

“That’s what makes it tough that first inning, getting behind when (Worley’s) throwing the ball as well as he is and it’s just too much to overcome,” Bochy said. “He has good stuff. He throws quality strikes, pounds the strike zone and stayed in command the whole game.”

Worley shared the credit with backup catcher Brian Schneider.

“I’m not out there thinking too much,” Worley said. “I’m just going with the pitches I had. He’s really smooth back there. We were definitely both on the same page.”

Six of the Phillies’ seven hits were for six extra bases.

In the sixth, Utley drove the ball off the wall in center. It caromed away from center fielder Andres Torres and was retrieved by right fielder Nate Schierholtz. The relay came to shortstop Mike Fontenot, whose throw home was slightly to the left of catcher Eli Whiteside. Utley, sliding headfirst, just beat the lunging tag of Whiteside to put Philadelphia up 6-1.

“It hit the wall, took that corner and kept going the other way,” Torres said.

Bochy came out to argue, but replays appeared to confirm home-plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth’s call was correct.

Utley, who went 2 for 4, has reached base safely in 28 straight games and is 8 for 17 with three homers and five RBIs in his last five games.

Howard went 2 for 4 with the homer and a double.

Aaron Rowand homered against his former team for the Giants (59-44).

The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the first on Pablo Sandoval’s sacrifice fly.

The Phillies scored four runs in the first after Zito had retired the first two batters, highlighted by Ibanez’s three-run homer to deep right-center. Ibanez had been 9 for 49 (.184) lifetime against Zito entering the game. Howard had put Philadelphia on the board with an RBI double to right that scored Utley.

Zito said the pitch to Ibanez was a cutter that didn’t move enough inside.

“I felt pretty good after the first,” Zito said. “That Ibanez pitch I want back.”

The left-hander rebounded after the slow start, allowing two runs and three hits over his final six innings.

“It’s a shame he couldn’t get out of that (first) inning because he regrouped and ended up throwing the ball fairly well,” Bochy said. “That’s impressive on his part, not caving in and finding a way to give us innings.”

For all of Tuesday’s scores and recaps, click here.

In Wednesday’s game 2, lefthander Cole Hamels goes for his 13th win opposed by  Matt Cain for the Giants, that is unless ace Tim Lincecum is well enough.

For all of Wednesday’s scheduled games throughout MLB, click here.

Lee Pounded as Phillies Edged by Padres

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Phillies lefthander Cliff Lee, who was sooo lights-out in June, has had no success in July having been clubbed twice while twice pitching well but either receiving no offensive support or not being in on the final decision in a Phils win.   On Monday, he was given an early 1-0 lead, only to be pounded for 4 second inning San Diego runs with another added in the fourth.   He was pulled for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fourth.   The Phils scored 2 runs in their fourth and another in the sixth as centerfielder Shane Victorino went 3 for 4 with a double, a triple and an RBI with leftfielder Raul Ibanez getting 2 hits, one of them a double and driving in a run.   Rightfielder Domonic Brown also lashed a fourth inning triple and drove in a run.    But the margin of the Padres win turned out to be outfielder Chris Denorfia’s fourth inning steal of home on a lame pick-off attempt by Lee.   Padres starter Aaron Harang went six innings for his 9th win and the Phils could do nothing with the San Diego bullpen the rest of the way as Lee was pounded as the Phillies were edged by Padres by 5-4, thus avoiding a 4 game sweep.

Despite the loss, The Phils’ maintained their 6 game NL East lead over the 2nd place Atlanta Braves who again lost yet again, this time to Pittsburgh.  The 3rd place Mets are now 13 1/2 games back, while 4th place Washington Nationals were off on Monday and are 15 games back.

The AP game recap for Yahoo sports provides notes on Monday’s game:

Denorfia sparked San Diego with its first steal of home since 2005. It had only seemed that long since the Padres were able to defeat Philadelphia.

Aaron Harang outpitched Cliff Lee, Denorfia stole home and the San Diego Padres beat the Philadelphia Phillies for the first time in more than a year, 5-4 on Monday.

Harang (9-2) gave up four runs in six innings to help the Padres avoid a four-game sweep and defeat the Phillies for the first time since June 7, 2010. The Phillies had beaten the Padres 10 straight times, their second-longest streak against them since winning 11 from 2004-06.

Lee (9-7) lasted only four innings, his second-shortest outing of the season. He allowed 10 hits, five runs and made a pickoff blunder that allowed Denorfia to steal home.

His soft toss to first gave Denorfia the opening he needed to bolt from third and give the Padres a 3-1 lead.

“I started to walk and when it looked like a pick, I took off,” Denorfia said.

After the Phillies staked Lee to a 1-0 lead, he unraveled in the second. Lee, who had allowed only three runs over 14 innings in his last two starts, gave up four in the inning.

Jesus Guzman led off the inning with a double and scored on Rob Johnson’s tying double. Johnson came around on Denorfia’s single to left. Denorfia advanced to second on the throw home, stole third, then scored when Lee attempted to pick off Jason Bartlett at first.   Chase Headley’s RBI double to center made it 4-1 and the Phillies couldn’t recover.

Lee said he soft-tossed to first because he saw Bartlett wasn’t trying to steal. His rare mental mistake was all Denorfia needed to become the first Padre to steal home since Mark Sweeney on July 6, 2005.

“That’s the first time that’s ever happened,” Lee said. “I didn’t even consider that as a possibility right there.

….There was little good cheer after Ryan Ludwick’s sacrifice fly made it 5-1.

The Padres, in last place in the NL West, snapped a three-game losing streak. They did it without getting a hit after the fifth inning.

The loss appeared to be just a minor blip for the Phillies. They open a three-game series Tuesday at home with defending World Series champion San Francisco. The Giants eliminated the Phillies in last year’s NL championship series.

The Phillies squandered two big scoring chances that could have led to a sweep.

In the eighth, Victorino was stranded on third after a two-out triple. And Ryan Howard was easily thrown out at home on Victorino’s two-out double off the right-field wall in the first.

Brown’s first career triple and Carlos Ruiz’s run-scoring single in the fourth off Harang cut it to 5-3. Ibanez added an RBI single in the sixth.

Heath Bell pitched the ninth for his 29th save. Domonic Brown opened the ninth with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice.  Ross Gload, who leads the majors with 13 pinch hits, struck out swinging on a 95 mph fastball. Bell retired Jimmy Rollins on a flyout to save it for Harang.

Harang improved to 4-0 with 2.17 ERA over his last nine starts.

For all of Monday’s scores and recaps, click here.

The defending NL champion San Francisco Giants are next in for a 3 game series with the Phils beginning on Tuesday in a possible tune-up for an October, 2011 NLCS rematch.   Young Vance Worley looks for his 7th win in the opener opposing Giant ace Tim Lincecum who is having a sub-par season.

For all of Tuesday’s scheduled games throughout MLB, click here.