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Tigers Pound Nova With Back-to-Back Homers, Edge Yankees to go to ALCS

Friday, October 7th, 2011

Detroit Tigers Beat Yankees in ALDS
Click photo for post-game video report
With 1 out in the first inning, the latter 2 of Yankee starter Ivan Nova’s next 3 pitches went yard as 3rd baseman Don Kelly and leftfielder Delmon Young wasted no time slamming back-to-back dingers to give the Detroit Tigers a 2-0 lead.  Nova, who threw 31 pitches in two innings, left after complaining of arm soreness after which the Yanks paraded out 6 pitchers, including ace lefthander C.C. Sabathia who gave up what turned out to be the winning run in the fifth inning on a 2 out RBI single by DH Victor Martinez which followed a leadoff double by centerfielder Austin Jackson and an intentional walk to 1st baseman Melky Cabrera.  Tigers’ starter  Doug Fister threw 92 pitches while holding the Yanks at bay.  2nd baseman Robinson Cano’s solo shot in the fifth was the only run scored on Fister although the Yankees had their chances. The Yanks got a run on a bases loaded walk in the seventh off of reliever Max Scherzer.  But Tigers pitching held on throughout despite 2 Yanks bases loaded jams and other assorted threats, getting the Yanks out in the eighth after a 2 out single, and in order in the ninth as closer Jose Valverde notched his 2nd post-season save fanning  A-Rod (or is that A-Roid??)  swinging on 4 pitches to end it as the Tigers pounded Nova with back-to-back homers and edge the Yankees 3-2 to go to ALCS.

Just a bit of editorializing here.  Just because the Yankees have won 27 world championships over the 88 seasons since they won their 1st crown in 1923, that doesn’t automatically make them baseball’s greatest team in 2011, as the Detroit Tigers aptly showed.   In my humble opinion, they are a long way from the eras of Ruth/ Gehrig, Joltin’ Joe, Whitey Ford, Mantle and Maris or Mr. October.  Alex Rodriguez (aka A-Rod, or A-Roid),  Derek Jeter, Sabathia and company are just a bunch of grossly overpaid, under-working spoiled brats on a wacko team in a wacko town — New York City.   The Yanks are going nowhere, but to the golf course, in 2011 and forseeable seasons to come!   And it’ll sure be nice to walk down the street without being accosted by young Yankee fans shouting insults at the Phillies.

Check out the video above: the Tigers committed NO errors during the 5 game series.

AP’s game recap for Yahoo sports provides game highlights here and here.

In Friday’s deciding game 5 between the Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals, ace Roy Halladay, who won game 1,  is scheduled to oppose Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter.

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

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Howard, Kendrick Lead Phillies Shutout of Rockies

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Ryan Howard    Kyle Kendrick
Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick tossed easily his best game of the season on Tuesday — an eight inning, 117 pitch, 4 hit, 2 walk, 7 strikeout shutout.   Meanwhile, Phils’ bats reached Colorado Rockies starter Aaron Cook for 2 first inning runs and 2 more in the fourth with 1st baseman Ryan Howard and rightfielder  Hunter Pence providing offense.  Howard had his 2nd multi-homer game of the season pounding solo homers in the fourth inning off of Cook and in the eighth inning off of Rockies reliever Matt Lindstrom.   The Phils went off to a 5 run lead and Kendrick made it stick through eight innings.    Reliever David Herndon finished the game going clean on the Rockies in a 12 pitch ninth inning as Howard and Kendrick led the Phillies in a 5-0 shutout of Rockies in game 2 of their 3 game series.

With the win, the Phils’  NL East lead continues to build and is now at 8 games over the 2nd place Atlanta Braves who again lost to last place Washington.  The Mets dropped another one to the Florida Marlins and the 2 teams are now tied for 3rd place 15 1/2 games out.

Kendrick, who knows that he’s returning to the bullpen with the reactivation of Roy Oswalt from the DL, tossed what appears to be a career game vs the Rockies.   His 7 strikeouts were a career high.   He cruised throughout spreading out the 4 hits and only allowing 2 men to reach in the same inning in the first on a single and a walk.    He didn’t allow a runner past 2nd base through his eight inning masterpiece as the Phillies won their fifth straight game.

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

“It is what it is,” Kendrick said. “Everyone knows I can start. Oswalt coming back is going to make us better.”

Oswalt has been out since late June with a bad back and Kendrick has taken on the starting role in his absence. Tuesday’s win was just his third as a starter, and he did it with best performance since throwing a complete game against Pittsburgh on July 3, 2010.

“KK was very good,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “This would rank up there with his best outing.”

Kendrick agreed—to a point.

“Results-wise, yeah,” he said. “My changeup wasn’t very good tonight but my cutter and fastball were pretty good.”

The Phillies, meanwhile, got off to a fast start against Aaron Cook, who pitched four innings before leaving with muscle spasms in his neck.

Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a walk and moved to third on Shane Victorino’s single.   Chase Utley drove in Rollins with a groundout and Hunter Pence hit an RBI double with two outs.

Philadelphia tacked on two more in the fourth. Howard led off with a drive to the facing of the second deck in right-center. One out later, Raul Ibanez and Placido Polanco hit consecutive singles and Brian Schneider had a sacrifice fly.

“It felt pretty good off the bat,” Howard said of his 432-foot homer. “It started middle in and it ran back over the plate.”

Cook (2-6) gave up five hits, struck out two and walked one.

“When you get the lead and add two more on that’s what really helps,” Manuel said. “Two runs in this yard doesn’t hold up a lot.”

Howard led off the eighth with a drive to left against Matt Lindstrom for his 23rd homer.

The Phils now stand at 70-39 in one of the best marks at August 2nd in their history.   One would have to go back for comparison to 1976 when they were  69-33 on this date on the way to a 101-61 regular season and  1993 when they were 68-39 on August 2 on the way to a 97-65 regular season finish.

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

The Phils hope for another series sweep in Wednesday’s final as ace Roy Halladay, gunning for his 14th win, is opposed by Jason Hammel for the Rockies.  The Phils then depart for San Francisco and a 4 game series with the Giants beginning on Thursday.

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

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Halladay, Lee Shine as Nationals Beat Americans in 2nd Straight All Star Game

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Roy Halladay    Prince Fielder    Cliff Lee
Phillies ace Roy Halladay retired all 6 American leaguers he faced on Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona and teammate lefthander Cliff Lee followed retiring the first 5 AL Stars he faced before Boston 1st baseman  Adrian Gonzalez reached him slamming a fourth inning solo shot to give the AL a short-lived 1-0 lead.   In the NL fourth, after DH Carlos Beltran and centerfielder Matt Kemp each singled to open the inning,  Milwaukee Brewers’ 1st baseman Prince Fielder slammed a long 3 run homer off of AL’s Texas Rangers’ lefthander C.J. Wilson which hit off the top stripe and bounced out to left centerfield close to bullpen and the 413 foot sign to put the NL up by 3-1.   The Nationals needed little more in making the lead stick the rest of the way.  The Nationals did pick up 2 insurance runs, 1 in the fifth as pinch hitter Andre Ethier singled in a run and in the seventh on 3rd baseman Pablo Sandoval’s RBI ground-rule double as Halladay and Lee shined with the Nationals beating the Americans by 5-1 for their 2nd straight All Star Game Win.

Prince Fielder was awarded the MVP award for his rocket blast in a game which had two great plays.   After Gonzalez homered off of Lee with 2 out in the fourth, MLB homer leader rightfielder Jose Bautista and rightfielder Josh Hamilton followed with singles.  Washington’s reliever Tyler Clippard relieved Lee and was greeted by 3rd baseman Adrian Beltre’s single to leftfield.With Bautista trying to score from 2nd base on the play,  NL leftfielder Hunter Pence uncorked a strike toward home to catcher Brian McCann who, ball in hand, waited to apply the tag to the oncharging Bautista for the final out of the inning.  Clippard was credited with the win for the NL while C.J. Wilson was charged with the loss.

The other great play occurred in the sixth inning and also involved Jose Bautista.    Matt Kemp lofted a curving fly ball to rightfield which went foul, but Bautista made an incredible grab maintaining possession of the ball while sliding into the wall.

The MVP trophy awarded to Fielder was a glass bat and $40,000 from an insurance company which Fielder has designated for use in building a little league baseball field in Milwaukee.

The Nationals used 10 pitchers and 31 players all told, while the American League used 9 pitchers and 29 players total.

The AP game recap for Yahoo sports provides these additional notes: 

Boston right-hander Josh Beckett warmed up, then bowed out because of a sore knee. Detroit slugger Miguel Cabrera left after hurting the oblique muscle in his side while swinging.

A half-hour after the win, the Brewers announced they had acquired former All-Star closer  Francisco Rodriguez in a trade with the New York Mets.

San Diego closer Heath Bell sprinted from the bullpen with 2 outs in the eighth inning and slid across the grass, tearing up the infield turf just before the mound.   His one out, a pop out to rightfield.

For some lighter side All Star game action, check out these two YouTubes featuring Randy ‘Big Unit’ Johnson here and here.

According to MLB stipulations, the winning league in the All Star Game receive the home field advantage in the World Series, thus the NL will have the advantage for the 2nd year running.

The Phils don’t return to action until Friday when they oppose the Mets for 3 games over the weekend.   On Friday, young Vance Worley opposes R.A. Dickey who has given the Phils fits.  On Saturday, Cole Hamels and Jonathan Niese duel in a battle of lefthanders.

For all of Thursday’s, Friday’s and Saturday’s MLB action, click here, here and here.

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Phillies Nip Reds in 19 Innings on Ibanez’s Sacrifice RBI

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Ben Francisco   John Mayberry Jr.  Wilson Valdez  Ryan Howard  Raul Ibanez
The Phillies ran out to a 3-0 lead on rightfielder Ben Francisco’s first inning 2 run homer and centerfielder John Mayberry Jr’s second inning RBI single — all off of Cincinnati’s young lefthanded starter Travis Wood.   In most games, a 3-0 lead with Halladay pitching means “take the win to the bank.”  However, in this marathon nineteen inning job, Cincinnati crept back against Halladay to tie the game on 1st baseman Joey Votto’s fifth inning RBI single and rightfielder Jay Bruce’s seventh inning game tying 2 run single.  The game went into extra innings knotted at 3-3, but Bruce and 1st baseman Ryan Howard traded tenth inning solo homers to keep the game knotted, now at 4-4.    Both teams ate through their entire bullpens such that Phils’ 2nd baseman Wilson Valdez, who played eighteen innings at 2nd base, came on to pitch the nineteenth inning and went clean on the Reds and was credited with his 1st MLB win.   Then Carlos Fisher, the 7th Reds pitcher, gave up a leadoff single to shortstop Jimmy Rollins and then walked the bases loaded with 1 out.    Leftfielder Raul Ibanez then faced Fisher taking a strike looking before lofting a sacrifice fly to centerfield to drive in the winning run.  The Phillies nipped the Reds by 5-4 in 19 innings on Ibanez’s sacrifice RBI to win the 3rd of the 4 game series.

With the win, the Phils remained 1 1/2 games up in the NL East on the 2nd place Florida Marlins who won their own twelve inning knot job over the San Francisco Giants.   3rd place Atlanta won their game and remained 3 games behind the front-running Phils.

After jumping out to that 3-0 lead after two innings and Halladay nursing the lead into the fifth, one would figure; game over!  But Halladay was giving up a lot of hits — 7 through 4 1/3 innings.   He gave up 11 hits and 3 runs in all through seven innings while throwing 123 pitches.

Opposing pitcher Wood gave up 3 runs on 6 hits through six innings while throwing 102 pitches.  With the 2 starters out of the picture, the parade of pitchers on both sides, and parade of innings and zeros began.

Still tied in the tenth inning, Bruce led off the inning with a dinger off of Antonio Bastardo, the Phils’ 4th pitcher — who followed Ryan Madson, and who got through 2/3rds of the inning.

Closer Francisco Cordero, Cincy’s 5 pitcher, entered in the Phils’ half of the tenth to try to finish off them off, but was greeted by Howard’s lead off game-tying shot.   From there, the game of zeros continued until the Phillies’ nineteenth.

The AP game recap for Yahoo sports describes the next nine innings and the parade of extra-inning zeros:

Phillies reliever Danys Baez threw 73 pitches and tossed one-hit ball over five scoreless innings.

“My arm feels good now,” Baez said. “I don’t know about tomorrow.”

Today is tomorrow.

“Well, in six hours.”

Fisher, the Reds’ seventh pitcher, worked 5 2-3 innings and gave up one run and four hits. The Phillies used 21 players overall, the Reds used 20.

Fisher finally wore down when Jimmy Rollins singled to open the 19th, Domonic Brown walked and Placido Polanco sacrificed. Thousands of fans derisively chanted “Fisher! Fisher!” before he intentionally Howard to load the bases. Ibanez was 1 for 8 during the night when he hit a fly to deep center to win it.

“The fans were great to get on him like that,” Howard said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”

The Reds used seven pitchers and the Phillies nine. The Reds had 15 hits; Philadelphia 13.

Some of the boxscore numbers were rough. Reds third baseman Scott Rolen was 0 for 7 and Phillies infielder Placido Polanco was 1 for 8.

Valdez threw a hitless 19th inning in his first professional pitching appearance. Phillies fans stood and chanted “Let’s go, Wilson!” when the 33-year-old Valdez shifted from second to the mound.

The first batter he faced was Votto, and the reigning NL MVP flied out to deep center field.

He hit 90 mph on a fastball to… Votto. He shook off catcher Dane Sardinha. And he showed no fear.

“If he hits a home run, they’re not going to say anything to me,” said Valdez, laughing.

Not bad for a journeyman infielder making his first professional appearance on the mound.

…Ryan Howard put his mitt over his face to hide his smile when Valdez shook off his catcher.

“I was like, ‘What is he going to throw? What does he have?”’ Howard said. “It was funny, but he got it done.”

Some fans, young and old, already were asleep in the stands as the game played on. But plenty of the die-hards who stuck around made it a lively atmosphere, especially when Valdez took over as Philadelphia’s ninth pitcher.

Valdez threw one pitch to the backstop and hit Scott Rolen. But the Phillies’ newest right-hander then retired Jay Bruce on a fly ball and got down Reds reliever Carlos Fisher( (0-1) on a popup.

Valdez wound up as the winning pitcher early Thursday.

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

Meanwhile, there is no rest for the weary as Wednesday’s game ended at 1:19 a.m. after 6 hours, 11 minutes and Thursday’s get-away game begins at 1:05 PM with lefthander Cliff Lee being opposed by Homer Bailey.

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

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Halladay’s No-Hitter Makes MLB History, Phillies Shut Out Reds

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

       Roy Halladay      Roy Halladay     Shane Victorino

Phillies ace Roy Halladay made his first-ever post-season appearance in high style against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday by making Major League Baseball history as only the 2nd pitcher to ever pitch a no-hitter in post-season play.  The only other holder of that historical distinction was  Don Larsen who threw an El-Perfecto at the then Brooklyn Dodgers in the  5th game of the 1956 World Series. The Yankees went on to win that series in the full 7 games.  Halladay’s shot at perfection was only marred by a fifth inning 2 out walk to Reds’ rightfielder Jay Bruce. But Halladay got the Reds’ next hitter, centerfielder Drew Stubbs to ground into a fielder’s choice to end the inning as Halladay’s no-hitter made MLB history and the Phillies shut out the Reds by 4-0 in their NLDS opener.

Halladay’s prowess was not limited to the pitcher’s mound.  Nursing a 1-0 first inning lead acquired due to centerfielder Shane Victorino’s 1 out double, his steal of 3rd base and 2nd baseman Chase Utley’s sacrifice fly RBI, Halladay’s 2 out second inning RBI single off of Reds’ starter Edinson Volquez was in the center of the Phils’ 3 run second inning which added cushion to the lead, as if “the Doc” really needed cushion.

Halladay threw 104 pitches, a miraculous 79 of them for strikes, in completing his no-hitter.  Having gotten Bruce on the 2 out fielder’s choice in the fifth inning, Doc faced the regulation 27 Reds hitters.
He struck out 8 while yielding 12 ground balls and just 6 flies to the outfield.  Former Phil 3rd baseman
Scott Rolen took an 0 for 3 collar — all strikeouts and leftfielder Jonny Gomes struck out twice.

After Volquez got a groundout and fly out to start the second inning, he walked catcher Carlos Ruiz and then 3rd baseman Wilson Valdez singled to left centerfield putting runners on 1st and 2nd base. Valdez, who has been clutch through the season when he has played replacing Utley, shortstop  Jimmy Rollins or Polanco, was subbing for Placido Polanco who was scratched from the lineup with an ailing back.  That brought up Halladay who nailed Volquez’s 1st pitch to leftfield driving in Ruiz with the 2nd Phils run. 

From there, Volquez fell apart.  He went 3-0 to Rollins before walking him on a full count to load the bases.  Victorino chased Volquez with his 2nd single in two innings driving in Valdez and Halladay as the Phils took the 4-0 lead.  Rookie reliever Travis Wood entered and got Utley to ground out to 2nd base to end the inning.  Wood tossed 3 1/3 innings of scoreless ball only giving up a single and walking 1.  Two other Reds’ relievers held the Phils hitless through the final three innings but it didn’t much matter.  Halladay cruised to his no-hitter tossing but 9 pitches in the ninth to get a pop out to 2nd base, a foul out to 3rd base and 2nd baseman Brandon Phillips’ nubber which Ruiz jumped on and winged to 1st baseman Ryan Howard for the final out sealing the no-hitter.

The AP game recap for Yahoo notes:

Cincinnati didn’t come too close to a hit. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins made the toughest play, going deep in the hole and making a strong throw to retire Joey Votto in the fourth.

Pitcher Travis Wood hit a sinking liner to right that Jayson Werth caught in the third. Pinch-hitter Juan Francisco hit a hard grounder up the middle in the sixth, but Rollins scooted over and made it look easy.

Halladay became the fifth pitcher to throw two no-hitters in the same year. He joined Nolan Ryan (1973), Virgil Trucks (1952), Allie Reynolds (1951) and Johnny Vander Meer (1938).

The Phils have announced their post-season roster.  The big surprise here is the dropping of Kyle Kendrick from the roster in favor of young left-hander Antonio Bastardo.  It was previously thought that Kendrick would relieve in the playoffs.

To view the scores of all Wednesday’s playoff games, click here.

The Phils and Reds have Thursday off and renew play at Philadelphia’s Citizen’s Bank Park on Friday as Roy Oswalt is scheduled to start  game 2 opposed by Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo.  The two teams are off on Saturday before switching venues to Cincinnati for game 3. 

To view the schedule of all Thursday’s and Friday’s playoff games, click here and here.

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Phillies Split Final 2 Games With Nationals, Face Atlanta for Season-Ending 3

Friday, October 1st, 2010

    Roy Oswalt   Ben Francisco  Mike Sweeney

               John Mayberry Jr.     Joe Blanton

After Phillies ace Roy Halladay’s 2 hit masterpiece clinched their 4th consecutive NL East crown, the Phils went on to split the final 2 games with  Washington Nationals as the Phils maintained momentum going into Atlanta for the final series of the regular season with the Braves.

On Tuesday, the other Roy, Roy Oswalt prepped for the playoffs with a five inning 67 pitch, 1 run, 2 hit effort as the two teams were knotted 1-1.  He walked 2 and struck out 3 for the no-decision outing.  Manager Charlie Manuel began rested starters while giving shortstop Jimmy Rollins, just back from the DL, some pre-playoffs playing time.  Rollins went 0 for the 2 games.  3rd baseman Placido Polanco, centerfielder Shane Victorino, rightfielder Jayson Werth and catcher Carlos Ruiz all sat with Greg Dobbs,  Ben Francisco, Domonic Brown and Brian Schneider playing in their stead.  Leftfielder Raul Ibanez led off the fourth with a homer off of Jason Marquis but the Phils’ offense went stagnant colllecting 3 other hits in the fourth inning but plating nothing.  The offense went stagnant for the game despite collecting 9 hits.  Marquis went six innings giving up 7 hits and 2 relievers shut the door on the Phils the rest of the way.  Nationals 1st baseman Adam Dunn, who may be lost to the Nationals via Free Agancy in the off-season, slammed a ninth inning leadoff walk-off homer off of reliever Jose Contreras as the Nationals edged the Phillies by a 2-1 score. 

On Wednesday, Joe Blanton followed Oswalt’s performance with a gem of his own.  Blanton threw 107 pitches in a seven inning 1 run, 3 hit effort.  Meanwhile, Phillies subs lit into lefthanded Nationals’ starter Ross Detwiler for 7 runs in 4 2/3 innings.  Leftfielder Ben Francisco had a huge game at the plate going 3 for 4 with 2 homers (in the second and fifth innings) and 3 RBIs.  1st baseman Mike Sweeney, subbing as Ryan Howard rested, went back-to-back with Francisco in the second inning and substitute outfielder  John Mayberry Jr. went 2 for 4 with a 3 run fourth inning homer.  3 Phil relievers went clean on Washington in the final 2 frames as the Phils pounded Washington by a 7-1 score to win 2 of the 3 games.

To view the AP recaps for Yahoo on both games, click here and here.

Wednesday’s recap indicates:

Joe Blanton (9-6) … [is] expected to be used as a reliever when the Phillies open the playoffs at home next Wednesday; they’ll use Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in a three-man rotation.

“If he doesn’t start, he’s very valuable in the bullpen because he throws strikes and he’s gutty,” Manuel said.

Although the Braves have been mathematically eliminated from the division race, they are still fighting for the NL Wild Card berth and are 2 games up on the San Diego Padres with their magic number at 2 games.  The Braves have incentive to fight hard against the Phils — the Wild Card berth as well as revenge for being caught and overtaken.  The Phils also have strong incentive to win this series — to finish the regular season winning going away and to maintain team momentum, along with the home field advantage into the division and league championship playoffs.

To view the scores of all Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s games,  click here, here and here.

The Phils had a rest day on Thursday before travelling to Atlanta to take on the Wild Card probable Braves in a 3 game end of the regular season series on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

On Friday, Kyle Kendrick opposes Atlanta’s rookie Brandon Beachy who went 4 1/3 innings giving up 3 runs in losing during the recent Phils sweep.   The Phils are undecided as to their starters on Saturday and Sunday while the Braves appear to be going with Tommy Hanson on Saturday and Tim Hudson on Sunday.

This blog will be periodic for the remainder of the regular season as the remaining 3 Phillies games will be anti-climatic with the Phils undoubtedly shuffling the lineup to rest regulars for the playoffs with a number of September call-up prospects starting in their places..

To view the schedule of all of all Friday’s, Saturday’s and Sunday’s games,  click here, here and here.

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