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Halladay’s 2 Hit Shutout of Nationals Clinches Phillies 4th NL East Crown

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

   Roy Halladay   Jayson Werth   Roy Halladay

Phillies rightfielder Jayson Werth went 3 for 5 with a second inning leadoff solo homer and 4 RBIs, 3rd baseman Placido Polanco and catcher Carlos Ruiz each went 3 for 4 driving in a run each as the Phils scored a run in the first inning, 3 runs in the sixth on Monday KO’ing Washington lefthander  John Lannon, and 4 more runs in the ninth off of former Phil prospect Joe Bisenius.  Staff ace Roy Halladay really only needed that first inning run as  Halladay tossed a masterful 97 pitch complete game 2 hit 8-0 shutout of the Nationals while the Phillies clinched their 4th straight NL East crown.

With the Phils winning the division title, the Atlanta Braves are now tied with the San Diego Padres for the NL Wild Card spot with the Colorado Rockies now 4 1/2 games behind.  The magic number for either the Braves or Padres is 7 games.

The celebration in the Phils lockerroom was wild after the game and their ace “The Doc” Roy Halladay was at the very center of it being doused with bubbly Champagne by rightfielder Jayson Werth.  This will be Halladay’s first trip to the post-season in his 12 year career.

Halladay was masterful, by any measure, on Monday against the Nationals — even though they are last in the division and undoubtedly will lose over 90 games.  It was Halladay’s 4th shutout, including the perfect game against Florida, and his 9th complete game of the season.  And Werth led the offense with his second inning leadoff solo shot as well as a 2 run double in the sixth off of Lannon and an RBI single in the ninth knocking in the Phillies 8th and final run.

For the game highlights, click here for the AP recap for Yahoo.

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

In Tuesday’s game 2, the other Roy, Roy Oswalt faces Jason Marquis for the Nationals.  Marquis lasted but 1/3 of an inning in his previous start against the Phils.

This blog will be periodic for the remainder of the regular season as the remaining 5 Phillies games will be anti-climatic with the Phils undoubtedly giving exposure in the lineup to a number of September call-up prospects while resting regulars for the playoffs.

To view the schedule of all Tuesday’s games, click here.

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Bobby Thomson Who Hit Famous Homer, Passes Away at 86

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

              Bobby Thomson     Bobby Thomson

The phrase the “shot heard around the world” has come to be identified with several famous world political historical and war-time events.

But for baseball fans, particularly those from 40 years and up, the phrase  “the shot heard around the world” has come to be and will always be identified with the climatic 3 run leftfield walkoff homer slammed by  New York Giants’ outfielder Bobby Thomson in the bottom of the ninth inning on the 2nd pitch from Brooklyn Dodgers’ pitcher Ralph Branca.  Branca relieved starter Don Newcombe with 2 on and 1 out in the inning, in the final of a 3 game playoff series to decide the 1951 NL pennant. The Giants won the pennant-clinching game by a 5-4 score.

That the Giant’s cross-town AL rivals, the Yankees would go on to win the 1951 World Series by 4 games to 2 keeping their dynasty intact, would prove to be anti-climatic after the drama generated by the 3 game NL pennant playoff and Thomson’s winning blast.

Yahoo reports that Bobby Thomson, whose name was immortalized by that one swing of the bat on October 3, 1951:

…died “peacefully” at his Georgia home on Monday night. He was 86 years old and had been in poor health.

The New York Daily News report on Thomson’s passing calls the blast which shook and reverberated the MLB world:

…the most famous home run in baseball history…

The New York Daily News report continues:

The cause of death had not been specified, and although Thomson had been in declining health in recent years, his daughter, Megan Thomson Armstrong, said he died peacefully. He was 86.

Baseball has had several historic home runs, but Thomson’s shot off Ralph Branca into the left-field seats of the Polo Grounds on Oct. 3, 1951, will always be regarded as the granddaddy of them all.

The dramatic blast capped the Giants’ incredible charge to the pennant after they had trailed the Dodgers by 13-1/2 games as late as Aug. 11. Beginning on Aug. 12, the Giants won 16 straight games and went 37-7 down the stretch to tie the Dodgers at season’s end. In the playoff series that ensued, the Giants won the first game, 3-1, on a two-run fourth-inning homer by Thomson off Branca, and the  Dodgers came back to win the second game, 10-0, behind the six-hit pitching of Clem Labine.

That set the stage for the deciding game, which the Dodgers led 4-1 going into the ninth inning. But Dodger starter Don Newcombe tired in the ninth, surrendering a leadoff infield single to Alvin Dark, another single to Don Mueller, and then, after Monte Irvin fouled out, a two-run opposite field double by Whitey Lockman.

Dodger manager Charlie Dressen summoned Branca from the bullpen to replace Newcombe with Thomson coming to the plate. “The delay really helped me,” Thomson later said. “I walked out to talk to (Giants manager) Leo (Durocher) and he said: ‘If you ever hit one, hit one now.’ I could see he was plenty excited, too, and I calmed down a bit.

“On my way back to the plate, I said to myself: ‘You’re a pro. Act like one!’”

Branca’s first pitch was a called-strike fastball. Thomson hit his second pitch, another fastball, toward left. As Dodger left fielder Andy Pafko drifted back to the wall, the ball sailed over his head into the seats for a 5-4 victory.

From the broadcast booth, Giants announcer Russ Hodges could be heard screaming, “THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!”

“Right away after I hit it I thought it was a home run,” Thomson had said. “Going around the bases, I could hardly breathe. I was starting to hyperventilate.”

…Thomson and Branca became friends years after their careers ended and capitalized on the historic home run by doing autograph sessions together…

“Bobby was a really good guy,” Branca said from his home in Rye, N.Y. “He was just doing his job and I was just doing mine…”

Thomson said…. “I was looking for a fastball and that’s what I got. We’re married to each other by this.”

In some ways, the home run was a bit of a mixed blessing because it raised expectations that Thomson was never able to meet. Thomson hit .293 with 32 homers and 101 RBI in 1951 and had similar seasons in ‘52 and ‘53, but he never achieved superstar status. After the ‘53 season in which Thomson hit .288 with 26 homers and 106 RBI, the Giants traded him to the Milwaukee Braves. For Thomson, the ‘54 season was a complete bust as he broke his ankle sliding into third base in spring training and appeared in only 43 games for the Braves. He was traded three more times before retiring in 1960 with a lifetime .270 average, 264 homers, 1,705 hits and 1,026 RBI over 15 years.

Thomson was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and moved with his family to Staten Island when he was 2 years old, where he later attended Curtis High School before serving in the United States Air Force in World War II. In addition to his daughter Megan, Thomson is survived by his other daughter, Nancy Thomson Mitchell and her husband, Charles (Chuck) Mitchell; his daughter-in-law, Judy Thomson; and six grandchildren.

…Private services will be held in Savannah and in Watchung, N.J.

“He’ll be remembered, I’ll tell you. We’ll always be grateful for what he did,” Irvin said. “He was a great ballplayer, a great fella, and he was beloved by all the Giants’ fans and teammates.”

So let’s return to yester-year — to October 3, 1951 and remember Bobby Thomson and “the shot heard around the world”!

Bobby Thomson passes away at 86.

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Charlie Manuel-Managed NL All Stars Beat AL, Snap Losing String

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

  Brian McCann  Charlie Manuel  Ubaldo Jimenez

Phillies club chairman Bill Giles kiddingly razzed manager Charlie Manuel before Tuesday’s All Star game telling Manuel that “his job was on the line if the NL didn’t win.”  Apparently, the razzing did the trick as NL pinch hitter catcher Brian McCann erased a 1-0 AL lead by slamming a seventh inning 1 out, bases-clearing 3 run double off of reliever Matt Thorton after the NL got 2 men on against Phil Hughes and after Thornton issued a walk to load the sacks.  3 NL pitchers held the AL scoreless on 2 hits and a walk over the final 3 innings as the Charlie Manuel-managed NL All Stars beat the AL by a 3-1 score, snapping the NL’s losing string.

By winning the 2010 All Star game, the NL is assured of the home-field advantage in the upcoming World Series in October.  Here’s hoping the Phils make it once again to the “Big Stage.”

The AP game recap provides All Star game highlights:

Cano and his fellow Yankees All-Stars wore black armbands after the death of longtime New York owner George Steinbrenner from a heart attack earlier Tuesday in Tampa, Fla., at age 80. Pictures of The Boss showed on two video screens before a pregame moment of silence, and flags hung at half-staff.

…Young starters David Price and Ubaldo Jimenez set the tone - and got even more help from the tricky shadows.

Jimenez, Colorado’s 15-game winner and first-time All-Star, came out of the gate with two scoreless innings. Price… matched that. Then came Marlins ace Josh Johnson, two more.

Robinson Cano’s fifth-inning sacrifice fly stood as the lone run in a game expected to be decided by the loaded pitching staffs on each side…

The NL squandered its best early opportunity with runners on the corners and one out in the fifth. Justin Verlander struck out Corey Hart and got McCann on the long fly to right.

McCann’s deep fly ball to the warning track in right gave the NL hope in the fifth. When he made good with that bases-loaded double off Matt Thornton, Atlanta’s steady catcher hit second base and pumped his right fist. The three guys who scored headed to the dugout with a renewed swagger.

Lefthander Cliff Lee, with his 4th team in a year having been traded a from Seattle to the Texas Rangers in the week before All Star break, threw a scoreless inning.  Phils ace Roy Halladay gave up 2 hits while pitching 2/3rds of the sixth inning before Washington reliever Matt Capps came on to get David Ortiz on strikes to end the sixth.  One of the hits Halladay gave up was rubbed out on an attempted steal of 2nd base.  As the NL scored their 3 runs in the seventh, Capps emerged as the winning pitcher.   L.A. Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton, who pitched a scoreless ninth inning allowing 1 hit, notched the save.

The AL’s Phil Hughes, who was charged with 2 of the 3 NL runs on McCann’s bases-clearing double off of Thornton, was charged with the loss.  Thornton picked up a blown save.  AL rightfielder Ichiro Suzuki, who has terorized the NL in several previous All Star games, was set down in his 2 ABs on a pop out to leftfield by Jimenez and a strikeout by Johnson.

McCann won the All Star game MVP award for his seventh inning game-winning 3 run double.

The season now continues on Thursday with the Phillies opening a 4 game series in Wrigley Field with the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubs have slated Ryan Dempster to open the 2nd half of the season.  The Phils have yet to name their starter.

To view all of Thursday’s games, click here.

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Oakland’s Braden Perfecto Against Rays

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

                                     Dallas Braden

Tuesday night’s game between the Phillies and the Colorado Rockies was postponed due to rain and so the first exposure of the Rocks to ‘The Doc’– ace Roy Halladay will have to wait for Wednesday’s doubleheader game 1.  I had slotted writing about Oakland A’s Dallas Braden’s perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays into Thursday’s Phillies open date, but due to the rainout, I’ll comment here on Oakland’s Braden’s perfecto against the Rays.

Young Oakland lefthander Dallas Braden managed to hit the bright lights of fame and glory having tossed only the 19th perfect game in all of MLB history this past Sunday.  And he didn’t accomplish the feat against some ordinary run-of-mill team like the Cleveland Indians, the Kansas City Royals or the Seattle Mariners.  Braden took on the hottest team in baseball, the team currently leading the MLB wins (23), winning percentage (.688).  Not an easy feat to even merely shut out those Tampa Bay Rays, let alone to no-hit them or to go el-perfecto.

Little did we know a few weeks ago when Braden took issue with Yankees 3rd baseman Alex Rodriguez when A-Rod had the unmitigated chutzpah to cross Braden’s mound, that the lefty could back his words with talent, i.e. “To be the Man, you gotta beat the Man.”

AP baseball writer Janie McCauley recaps Braden’s masterpiece for Yahoo:

The closest the Rays got to a hit was Jason Bartlett’s liner to third leading off the game.  Evan Longoria tried to bunt leading off the fifth, drawing boos from the small crowd.

In fact, in light of the Bru-Ha-Ha a couple of weeks ago when A-rod crossed through the mound area, the media gave play to Longoria’s bunt attempt which went foul.  The Rays’ All Star 3rd baseman ended up going down on a swinging 3rd strike and Braden didn’t make a fuss at the fouled bunt attempt which might have constituted violation of another “unwritten rule.”

McCauley continues:

Braden pitched the A’s first perfect game since Hall of Famer  Jim “Catfish” Hunter’s gem on May 8, 1968, against the  Minnesota Twins. Only 6,298 were there to witness it. Sunday’s crowd at the Coliseum wasn’t much better: 12,228.

Braden (4-2) wasn’t fazed by anything, locating his fastball in every spot, throwing two-strike changeups and getting quick outs against a Rays team that lost on the road for just the third time this year. He struck out six in the improbable 109-pitch performance, throwing 77 strikes in his 53rd career start and first complete game.

Braden’s teammates mobbed him when the Mother’s Day masterpiece was over, leaving bats and gloves scattered on the field. The left-hander pointed to the sky in honor of his single mom, Jodie Atwood, who died of skin cancer when he was a high school senior. He shared a long and tearful hug with Lindsey, who helped raise him, in front of the dugout.

“It hasn’t been a joyous day for me in a while,” Braden said. “With my grandma in the stands, it makes it a lot better.”

Braden’s perfect game was the sixth no-hitter in Oakland history. The 26-year-old Braden, a native of nearby Stockton, was a 24th-round draft pick by the A’s in 2004. He improved his career record to 18-23.

To view the scores of all of Tuesday’s  MLB games, click here.

The Mets and Washington Nationals are now tied for 2nd place in the NL East, 2 1/2 games behind the Phillies after the Mets beat the Nationals in game 2 of their 3 game series.

On Wednesday. the Phils and Rockies make-up Tuesday’s rainout by playing a doubleheader.  In game 1, the Doc gets to hang out his shingle in Colorado for the first time — Phillies ace Roy Halladay is opposed by Aaron Cook for the Rockies.

In game 2, ageless lefthander Jamie Moyer opposes Esmil Rogers for the Rocks.

From Colorado, the Phils have Thursday off before heading to Milwaukee for a 3 game weekend series before heading back to Citizen’s Bank Park for a 7 game homestand.

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

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Rockies Jimenez No-Hits Braves, Walks 6

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

                        Ubaldo Jimenez

If someone were to ask me who the top 5 pitchers in the NL that I would fear when the Phillies would face them, Colorado Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez would be right up there.  Young Jimenez walked six while striking out 7 on Saturday but singled in 1 of the Rockies’ runs in their 3 run fourth inning outburst against Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami.  Jimenez no-hit the Braves in the Rockies 4-0 win.
 
Although the Phils beat the Rockies in the 2009 division series, Jimenez gave them fits in
game 1 and their series clinching game 4 win.   And Phillies fans have still not forgotten his clutch 6 1/3 inning 1 run, 3 hit  game 3 effort as the Rocks swept the Phils in the 2007 division series.   Jimenez is indeed one of the most dangerous pitchers the Phils will face in 2010.

AP sports writer Charles Odum recaps the no-hitter for Yahoo sports:

Jimenez pitched the first no-hitter in the Rockies’ 18-year history and the majors’ first this season, getting help from a spectacular catch by Dexter Fowler in the seventh inning… on Saturday night.

“It is every pitcher’s dream to be out there for nine innings and throw a no-hitter,” Jimenez said.

Firing fastballs that reached 98 mph into the ninth inning, Jimenez pitched the first no-hitter since White Sox ace Mark Buehrle tossed a perfect game in a 5-0 victory over Tampa Bay on July 23, 2009.

After walking the leadoff batter in the fifth inning—his sixth walk— Jimenez began working exclusively out of the stretch.

“In the fifth inning Bob Apodaca, he just came to me and was like ‘You’ve been throwing good from the stretch, why don’t you just give it a try?”’ Jimenez said of his pitching coach’s advice.

He retired the next 15 batters to end it, but the biggest assist he received was from Fowler, his center fielder.

With no outs in the seventh inning, Fowler made a diving catch in left-center on Troy Glaus’ sinking line drive, the Braves best chance for a hit.

“The way he dove, I was like unbelievable,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez (3-0) gave Fowler, an Atlanta native, a big hug.

“I appreciated that,” Fowler said.

Fowler said of the catch: “The ball hung up there long enough for me to go up there and get it. Usually if a ball goes up, I always think I had a chance to get it.”

There was no relief in the ninth, with the Braves’ 2-3-4 hitters coming to the plate.

“…Chipper and McCann,” Jimenez said. “They’re two of the best hitters in the league. Why did it have to be those guys? Can’t they give me a break or something?”

It didn’t matter. Jimenez was not going to be denied.

Martin Prado popped out…, Chipper Jones hit a flyball to left field and Brian McCann grounded out… on Jimenez’s majors-high 128th pitch to end the game.

Jimenez thrust his arms in the air and was swarmed by teammates as he celebrated history for himself and his franchise.

The 26-year-old right-hander struck out seven and had an RBI single in the fourth inning.

“That was domination,” Jones said. “Only one ball came close to falling.”

Added McCann: “I’d never been no-hit. I’d never even seen a no-hitter, except on TV. … It was probably the best performance I’ve ever seen. He’s impressive.”

Rockies manager Jim Tracy said he was worried as the walks piled up early in the game.

“Because it’s only his third start of the season, I start looking at the (pitch count),” Tracy said. “Is the pitch count intact enough to the point it doesn’t become ridiculous and you run the risk of jeopardizing a young man’s career?”

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Mets Nip Cardinals in 20 Innings, Outfielder Charged With Loss

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

Two lefthanders, Mets starter Johan Santana, St. Louis Cardinals starter  Jaime Garcia and 14 other relief pitchers racked up a lot zeros, eighteen innings of them, before the Mets finally broke through for a run, on a bases loaded sacrifice fly, off of outfielder Joe Mather in the nineteenth. The Cards came back with a double and an RBI single off of Mets closer  Francisco Rodriguez in their nineteenth.  In the twentieth inning, 2 singles put runners at the corners and shortstop Jose Reyes drove in the winning run off of Mather with a sacrifice fly scoring Angel Pagan as the Mets nipped the Cardinals by a 2-1 score in twenty innings with outfielder Mather charged with his 1st MLB career pitching loss.

The AP recap for Yahoo sports decribes what a wild and wacky game this was:

Jose Reyes needed 20 innings to get something done at the plate.

Reyes hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly to help the New York Mets beat the St. Louis Cardinals 2-1 in 20 innings on Saturday night in the longest game in the majors in two years.

“That’s the happiest 0 for 7 I’ve ever had in my life,” he said. “I played good defense, got the RBI, and we won the game. And finally, it’s over.”

Francisco Rodriguez (1-0) got the win despite yielding the tying run in the 19th and starter Mike Pelfrey finished for his first career save in a game that included 19 pitchers and lasted 6 hours, 53 minutes.

It was the longest game in the majors since Colorado beat San Diego 2-1 in 22 innings on April 17, 2008.

“This was crazy,” Pelfrey said. “I’ve been involved in some wild games but this was really something. I thought it was never going to end.”

Rodriguez said he threw as many as 100 pitches in the bullpen. He began warming up in the eighth and spent the next three hours getting up and then sitting down.

“I got up more than 10 times,” he said. “Pretty much every inning.”

Jeff Francoeur also had a sacrifice fly for New York in the 19th, snapping a scoreless tie, but Yadier Molina singled in Albert Pujols with two out in the bottom half.

St. Louis left the bases loaded in the 10th, 12th and 14th and stranded 22 runners, including 14 in extra innings. Molina caught the whole game and went 3 for 9.

Santana started the game for New York and struck out nine in seven innings, allowing just four hits.

“I spent more time as a spectator than I did pitching on the mound,” Santana said.

Rookie left-hander Jaime Garcia gave up just one hit in seven innings for St. Louis—a bloop single by Pagan leading off the sixth.

Infielder Felipe Lopez also pitched a scoreless inning for the Cardinals, and starting pitcher Kyle Lohse played three innings in left field.

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