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Lee, Utley, Ibanez Lead Phillies to Opening Win Over Yankees

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

     Chase Utley   Cliff Lee   Raul Ibanez

Phillies ace Cliff Lee was nothing short of magnificent in the matchup of lefthanders with Yankees ace C.C. Sabathia.  Lee carried a shutout into the ninth inning with the Yanks only run scoring on shortstop Jimmy Rollins’ throwing error on a fielder’s choice grounder. 2nd baseman Chase Utley reached Sabathia for solo homers in the third and sixth innings as Lee breezed.  But the Phillies offense salted the game away taking control with 4 late-inning runs including an eighth inning bases loaded 2 run single by leftfielder Raul Ibanez.  Lee, Utley and Ibanez led Phillies to a 6-1 World Series opening win over the Yankees.

The win was the Phillies first-ever World Series win over the Yankees to whom they lost in a 4 game sweep in the only other series match-up between the 2 teams in 1950.  That series marked one of the lowest-scoring match-ups in MLB history.  A total of 16 runs were scored in the 4 games; 11 by the Yanks and 5 by the Phils’ “Whiz Kids.”

Lee was masterful on the mound and equally masterful defensively in flawlessly handling 4 put-out opportunities; a first inning bunt grounder, a sixth inning pop out and groundouts in the seventh and eighth innings.  The eighth inning play, as recounted by Phillies Nation’s Brian Michael, was “an amazing behind-the-back stab to rob Robinson Cano of a single.”

As Lee breezed through 9 of the first 11 Yanks he faced allowing only a 1 out single in the second inning and a 2 out double in the third, Utley blistered a 2 out, full-count pitch from Sabathia to the rightfield seats to put the Phils on the board.

Then Lee struck out the side in fourth in a great power-pitching display; 1st baseman Mark Teixeira, 3rd baseman Alex Rodriguez and catcher Jorge Posada — all swinging.

In the fifth, DH Hideki Matsui led off with a single to center but then got doubled off of first base on Cano’s line drive to shortstop Rollins.  Lee then retired the side on a pop out to rightfield.

With 1 out in the Phils’ sixth inning, Utley then turned on Sabathia’s 0-2 pitch bombing it to right centerfield for his 2nd solo shot of the game — sooo nice, we gonna do it twice, and the Phils had a 2-0 lead.

Shortstop Derek Jeter, the only Yankee to reach regularly in the game going 3 for 4, singled to center with 1 out in the sixth.  But then Lee coaxed a pop out to the pitcher and a fielder’s choice grounder rubbing the Yanks in the inning.

Lee then went clean on the Yanks in the seventh on 9 pitches, 3 groundouts.

Then the Phils offense went to work scoring 4 runs, 2 in the eighth and 2 in the ninth as the Yankees burned through 5 reliever to no avail.  Meanwhile, Lee went clean again on the Yanks in the eighth, this time on 12 pitches.

AP’s Ben Walker recaps the Phils eighth and ninth inning scoring for Yahoo sports:

Lee bamboozled the Yankees with a spiked curveball, deceptive changeup and his usual pinpoint fastball, pitching a six-hitter while striking out 10 without a walk. He became the first [pitcher] since Don Newcombe in 1949 to fan double digits with no walks in a Series game.

Raul Ibanez hit a two-run single in the eighth and Shane Victorino added an RBI single in the ninth.

1st baseman Ryan Howard, who had 2 doubles in the game, added his 2nd one for good measure in the ninth driving in the 6th run while Victorino was nailed trying to score from 1st base on the play to end the inning. 

Lee took a shutout into the ninth but then Jeter and leftfielder Johnny Damon each singled to open the frame.  Teixeira then grounded to 2nd base into a textbook fielder’s choice. Damon was out at 2nd base with Jeter moving to third. But Jeter scored and Teixeira moved to second on shortstop Rollins’ throwing error.  With 1 out in the Yanks ninth, Lee fanned A-Rod and Posada to end it.

Winning pitcher Lee threw 122 pitches striking out 10, walking none and giving up the ninth inning run and 6 hits in his complete game effort.  Sabathia provided a superior performance only giving up Utley’s 2 dingers, although he ran deep counts and thus threw 113 pitches in seven innings while giving up 4 hits, walking 3 and striking out 6.

AP’s Walker continues:

The defending champion Phillies shut down Alex Rodriguez & Co. in the first Series game at the new billion-dollar ballpark. Trying to become the first NL team to repeat since Cincinnati in 1975-76, the Phils’ 17-4 postseason run is the best in league history.

How complete was Lee’s shutdown of the Yankees?  A-Rod went down on strikes 3 times while Teixeira and Posada each fanned twice accounting for 7 of Lee’s 10 strikeouts. 

With game 1 in the Phillies hopper, manager Charlie Manuel goes to veteran Pedro Martinez for game 2 on Thursday as the best chance of possibly sneaking out of Yankee stadium with 2 wins over the Yanks.  Martinez also translates into a mega-TV bucks across the nation.  Pedro will be opposed by A.J. Burnett.

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Phillies Beat Mets on Ninth Inning Triple-Play

Monday, August 24th, 2009

  Jayson Werth   Eric Bruntlett  Carlos Ruiz

The Phillies staked Pedro Martinez to a 6-0 lead on Sunday against his former teammates as rightfielder Jayson Werth and catcher Carlos Ruiz belted first inning 3 run homers off of Mets’ lefthander Oliver Perez who lasted only 2/3rds of an inning.  But then the Phils nearly blew 6-0, 8-2 and 9-5 leads.  With the score at 9-7 in the ninth inning, runners at 1st and 2nd base, none out and closer Brad Lidge holding a 2-2 count on rightfielder Jeff Francoeur, the recent Mets acquisition from the Atlanta Braves lined Lidge’s next pitch… to 2nd baseman Eric Bruntlett as the  Phillies beat the Mets by a 9-7 score on Bruntlett’s ninth inning game-saving unassisted triple-play.

With the win, the Phils took a 2 games to 1 lead in their 4 game series with the Mets and widened their NL East division lead to 7 games as Atlanta and Florida are now tied for 2nd place while the Mets fell further back to 15 1/2 games out in 4th place.

The ESPN AP game recap gives MLB record background regarding the dramatic triple-play:

It was the 15th unassisted triple play in major league history — and the third that ended a game. The first two came more than 80 years ago, by Pittsburgh shortstop Glenn Wright in  1925 and Detroit first baseman Johnny Neun in 1927.

AP Sports Writer Howie Rumberg adds a further note regarding unassisted triple-plays:

Of the 15 unassisted triple plays in big league history, all but one came during the regular season.  Cleveland second baseman Bill Wambsganss turned the rare trick in the 1920 World Series against Brooklyn.

Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr explains Bruntlett’s insertion at 2nd base:

With Chase Utley getting a regular day off, Bruntlett got the start at second base.  Not much is expected from Bruntlett, who entered today with a .128 average.  He started off by going 3-for-3 and made some solid defensive plays.

Bruntlett’s rare feat on a liner by Jeff Francoeur preserved a game that turned precarious as the Mets kept coming and coming after getting down by a 6-0 deficit in the first inning squashed a potential Mets rally against closer Brad Lidge.

The last Phil to turn an unassisted triple-play was 2nd baseman Mickey Morandini who turned his against the Pittsburgh Pirates near the end of the 1992 season.

The beginning of the game had all of the earmarks of a rout in the making as the Phils tore into hapless Oliver Perez who lasted for 2 outs in the first inning giving up 6 runs, on 3 run homers by Werth and Ruiz, on 4 hits and 2 walks.  The Phils sent 9 players to the plate in the inning with Martinez getting a plate appearance before even throwing a pitch. 

But then, centerfielder Angel Pagan led off for the Mets hitting an inside-the-park homer to left centerfield.  Then a single and a 1 out triple off of Martinez and the Mets cut the deficit to 6-2. 

The Phils scored 2 third inning runs as they loaded the bases off of Mets reliever Nelson Figueroa.  Martinez helped his own cause with a 1 out RBI single.  Shortstop Jimmy Rollins followed, with the sacks still jammed, with a sacrifice fly as the Phils lead mounted to 8-2.

Not to be denied, the Mets order came around again to Pagan who belted a leadoff legitimate solo homer which left the park.  A single, a double and a groundout followed and the Mets had 2 more runs cutting the Phils lead to 8-4.  

The score remained 8-4 as Martinez settled down and retired 9 of the final 10 Mets hitters that he faced.  Martinez, the games’ winning pitcher who garnered his 2nd victory as a Phil, threw 90 pitches in six innings of work giving up 4 runs on 6 hits while walking 2 and striking out none.

The Mets scored single runs in the seventh, off of reliever Chad Durbin, and in the eighth, off of Ryan Madson after the Phils scored a run off of reliever Sean Green who walked pinch hitter Matt Stairs to open the Phillies’ eighth.  Stairs took 2nd base on a wild pitch and went to 3rd base on a groundout.  He scored on Green’s 2nd wild pitch of the inning.  

Wih the Phils leading by 9-6 going into the bottom of the ninth, closer Brad Lidge came on to try to nail it down.

AP’s Howie Rumberg describes the inning and the triple-play:

…The first two batters reached on errors.

Angel Pagan, who homered twice—including an inside-the-park shot leading off the first inning—sped all the way to third when his sharp grounder got through first baseman Ryan Howard.  Pagan then scored as Castillo reached on a grounder that Bruntlett bobbled for an error.

[Daniel] Murphy followed with an infield single up the middle that went off the glove of a sliding Bruntlett, bringing up Francoeur.

With runners on first and second, Jeff Francoeur hit a line drive up the middle that appeared headed toward center field for a single. But both runners were stealing on the pitch, so Bruntlett was in perfect position as he moved over to cover second base.

He caught the liner easily, stepped on second to double up Luis Castillo and then turned to tag Murphy for the third out. Murphy tried to backpedal away from Bruntlett, but had nowhere to go.

For the scores of all of Sunday’s games, click here.

The Phillies look to win the series as newly acquired ace lefthander Cliff Lee takes the mound in the final game of the 4 game set with the Mets.  Opposing him will be reliever Bobby Parnell who has been pressed into a starting role due to the depleted Mets rotation.

The Phils next head for Pittsburgh for a 3 game series on Tuesday through Thursday before returning home for a 3 game weekend series against  Atlanta to end the month of August.

For all of Monday’s games, click here.

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Blanton, 3 Homers Lead Phillies to Sweep of Arizona

Friday, August 21st, 2009

    Ryan Howard    Joe Blanton    Jayson Werth

Phillies 1st baseman Ryan Howard and rightfielder Jayson Werth, both on homer binges, as well as catcher Carlos Ruiz each hammered off of lefthander Doug Davis and 2 Arizona relievers on Thursday.  Joe Blanton survived fourth inning trouble and was again solid through eight innings.  Reliever Chad Durbin came on to make short work of the D-backs in the ninth as Blanton and 3 homers led the Phillies to a 12-3 pounding and sweep of Arizona.

With the win, the Phils picked up a full game and now lead both Florida and Atlanta, now tied for 2nd place, by 6 1/2 games in the NL East division race.  The Braves edged the Mets and Florida lost to Houston. The Mets dropped to 14 1/2 games back in 4th place with their loss to the Astros.

The big story ought to be another fine outing by Blanton who has pitched well consistently since late May going seven innings or more in 11 of his last 15 games, 8 of his last 10.   But Blanton’s eight inning, 97 pitch effort has been supplanted by the homer binges of Howard and Werth.  The big 1st baseman has gone yard 6 times in his past 7 games with Thursday’s 3 run clout to centerfield in the sixth inning off of reliever Leo Rosales capping a 5 run outburst which blew a 6-3 game wide open.  And Howard was on base in the fifth when Werth went yard to centerfield in the fifth for his 4th homer in 4 games.   Ruiz added a solo shot, for his career-high 7th homer of the season, to lead off the 5 run sixth inning. 

                                  Ryan Howard's Bat

NOTE: For those souvenir buffs watching Ryan Howard heat up his homer production, either click on the picture of the bat above, or click on the link and then click again on the picture of the bat to order your Ryan Howard MLB authorized autographed bat.

The Phillies extended their latest winning streak to 4 games and have won 8 of their last 10.  The AP recap of Thursday’s game for Yahoo sports tells the story of just how hot the Phillies are:

Philadelphia, which leads the National League with 171 home runs, have hit at least one in 10 straight games, and 28 in its previous 15. The 2006 team hit a franchise-best 216 in 2006, led by Howard’s 58…

Every Phillies starter had at least one hit, except third baseman Pedro Feliz. Blanton had two singles, the first multihit game of his career, to become the third straight Phillies pitcher to record two hits in a game.  Jamie Moyer and Cliff Lee did it Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

“I don’t know,” Blanton said with a shrug. “Hitting is contagious, I guess. Even for pitchers.”

Blanton (8-6) picked up his second career RBI with a fourth-inning groundout. For once, he benefited from the offensive barrage. Despite heading into Wednesday with a 2.17 ERA in his previous nine starts, the right-hander had only three runs to show for it. He allowed a season-high 10 hits, but limited Arizona to three runs.

Philadelphia pitchers have an ERA of 1.94 in the last eight games.

After Chad Tracy’s fourth-inning single tied it, Blanton retired 15 of his final 17 batters. Blanton said his game plan started working.

“I just stuck with it,” he said. “And the balls started finding people. It’s not an easy game, but when you get runs, you can attack the zone and make them beat you. It can be a lot easier.”

Philadelphia scored three first-inning runs off Davis (7-11), highlighted by Ben Francisco’s two-out single. The Diamondbacks scored a run in the second, and two runs in the fourth.

With Blanton working efficiently even while getting hit, he kept the Phillies in the game long enough for the offense to do the rest.

“He’s a bulldog who comes right after you,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “Tonight, he was very good.”

Howard’s shot reached the visitor’s bullpen in center field for his sixth homer and 16th RBI in seven games. Werth continued what has been a career season with 28 homers and 76 RBIs.

“They come in bunches,” Werth said. “Sometimes you feel good and your swing is good. But sometimes the opposite side of the coin is true, too. You take while you can get it and hold onto it as long as you can.”

The Diamondbacks, who have lost five straight, didn’t walk in the series and scored five runs.

But the Phillies hot streak extends to pitching as well.  In the 3 games series with the D-backs, twenty-four innings — no walks issued, no homers given up. 

Losing pitcher Doug Davis gave 6 runs on 5 hits in five innings of work while issuing 4 walks, striking out 6 and giving up Werth’s fifth inning 2 run blast.

For the scores of all of Thursday’s games, click here.

The Phils now head to New York for a 4 game series on Friday through Monday with the Mets who could wash away their season totally by falling further behind the Phillies.

In Friday’s opener, lefthander Cole Hamels is opposed by Mike Pelfrey for the Mets.  On Saturday, lefthander J.A. Happ faces Tim Redding.

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

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Despite Triple-Play, Dodgers Win NL Record First 11 Home Games

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

              Josh Wilson     Manny Ramirez

The L.A. Dodgers got into the modern-day NL record-books on Monday by defeating Arizona, thus winning their first 11 home games, breaking the modern record of 10 set by the 1918 New York Giants and equalled by 1970 Chicago Cubs and 1983 Atlanta Braves.  Those 1983 Braves were also managed by Joe Torre, who is now in his 2nd season managing Los Angeles.  The Dodgers set the consecutive home victory mark by defeating the Diamondbacks by a 7-2 score on Monday at Dodger Stadium.

But this game was not just notable for the Dodgers’ home winning streak.  28 year old Diamondbacks shortstop Josh Wilson made his entry into the MLB recordbooks in this game as well. 

After Dodger catcher Russell Martin led off the second inning wih a walk, the AP recap for Yahoo sports records Wilson’s play:

Wilson, making his third start this season in place of injured  Stephen Drew, bobbled Matt Kemp’s routine grounder for an error in his haste to start a double play in the second inning. But he made up for the mistake moments later, making a lunging catch of Casey Blake’s line drive in the hole with the runners going and turning it into the second triple play in Diamondbacks history.

“That’s definitely a rarity, and to be a part of one is something special,” Wilson said. “I knew the runners were moving, and the ball almost came out of my glove, so I was just making sure I held onto it first. And once I did, I knew we were going to get three outs.”

This blog has written about 3 other triple plays, all unassisted, two of them in detail; Mickey Morandini’s in 1992 and  Cleveland 2nd baseman Asdrubal Cabrera’s last season (2008).  Also mentioned in the latter blog post was Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s in April of 2007.

Leftfielder Manny Ramirez and rightfielder Andre Ethier slammed back-to-back first inning homers off of Arizona lefthander Doug Davis to give the Dodgers an early 2-0 lead which they built on with 2 runs in the fifth inning, 2 more in the sixth capping their scoring with a single run in the eighth inning.   Arizona socred single runs in the second and sixth innings.

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MLB Authentic Mike Schmidt Bat at onlinesports.com

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Click here for a great deal on an autographed Mike Schmidt MLB authenticated Bat as shown in the picture on the right, below.

          Mike Schmidt       Mike Schmidt

These MLB authenticated Mike Schmidt Bats are marketed by  onlinesports.com.  Schmidt’s autograph appears midway on barrell of the bat.

Note that when onlinesports.com has a product that they warrant as MLB authentic, they list it as such. Buyers should be aware that when they do not warrant a product in this way, it is not MLB authentic. Such authentication can be found on the left side of the product page under brand. 

Mike Schmidt is generally recognized throughout the baseball world as among the greatest all-around 3rd baseman the game has known.  No less than the  Phillies Nation blog has pronounced Schmitty as the greatest of all Phillies.  Schmidt hit 548 career homers, won 9 Gold Glove awards at third base and led the Phils to 10 winning seasons over his 18 year Hall of Fame career — an entire career spent with the Phils.

          Mike Schmidt

Among the highlights of Schmidt’s career are 6 divisional titles, 2 NL pennants, a World Series title and being in the center of 2 of the Wildest games in all of MLB history;  April 17, 1976 when Schmidt hit 4 homers tying the all-time one-game record, and the legendary May 17, 1979; 23-22 game — both against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

            Mike Schmidt

Buy it here, Now: The Mike Schmidt MLB authentic autographed bat.

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Youkilis, Red Sox Ink $41M, 4-Year Deal

Monday, January 19th, 2009

                        Kevin Youkilis

5 year veteran 1st baseman Kevin Youkilis and the Boston Red Sox inked a four-year, $41 million deal 3 days ago.

Youkilis had a break-out season in 2008 hitting 29 homers, driving in 115 runs and hitting .312 in 145 games for the BoSox batting clean-up behind either Mike Lowell, who was often injured and used as DH in 2008, or  David Ortiz who was either injured or slumping for a large part of the season and who is generally the DH.  

The AP report notes:

The 29-year-old gets a $1 million signing bonus, $6 million this year, $9,125,000 in 2010 and $12 million in each of the following two seasons. Boston has a $13 million option for 2013 with a $1 million buyout.

Youkilis…. made just four errors in 125 games at first base, where he won a Gold Glove in 2007, then switched to third when Mike Lowell was injured.

Youkilis holds the major league record of 238 straight games at first base without an error, a streak that ended last June.

He finished third in AL MVP voting in 2008, behind Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Minnesota first baseman Justin Morneau.

“Kevin has been a mainstay for us and a big part of our major league club through a lot of successful seasons and a big part of our future and we solidified that with this move today,” general manager Theo Epstein said.

Youkilis, who first achieved fame in the noted baseball book, ‘Moneyball,’ made his debut in Boston’s magical 2004 season, capped off with the first Red Sox World Series title in 86 years. However, the next season was the most trying of his career, as he was shuttled between Boston and Triple-A Pawtucket.

Youkilis boasts a career .289 BA and got 2 doubles in 9 AB in Boston’s  2007 World Series triumph and hit 3 homers in the ALCS as the Red Sox rallied from a 3 games to 1 deficit to defeat the Cleveland Indians.

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