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Phillies Nip Pirates in Season Opener as ” Doc” Operates and Ruiz Drives in Winner

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Roy Halladay    Carlos Ruiz    Jon Papelbon
Catcher Carlos Ruiz, who carried a hot bat through the spring exhibition games, was a perfect 3-3 and drove in the Phillies’ only run with a 1 out seventh inning sacrifice fly to rightfield.    Ace of aces Roy Halladay threw 92 pitches through eight masterful innings, only giving up 2 first inning hits as the  Phillies nipped the Pittsburgh Pirates on  Opening Day by a 1-0 score.

The first 2 Bucs up in the first inning singled off of Halladay before the All Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner retired the next 21 of 23 hitters he faced in a masterful performance on Opening Day.  After the first, the only runners to reach on “The Doc” were centerfielder Andrew McCutchen with 1 out in the fourth and shortstop Clint Barmes with 2 out in the eighth, both of the hit batsmen.

Old former Phillies’ catcher and nemesis Rod Barajas took an 0-3 collar and was one of Halladay’s 5 strikeout victims.

Pirates’ Opening Day starter lefthander Eric Bedard lived up to the Bucs’ hopes for potential matching Halladay’s 0’s through six innings while giving up 4 hits and walking 1.   But, in the seventh, rightfielder Hunter Pence, batting in the clean-up spot with 1st baseman Ryan Howard still on the DL, led off by lining out to shallow centerfield.  Ty Wigginton, playing 1st base, touched Bedard for a single to centerfield.

Leftfielder John Mayberry Jr. followed by doubling to rightfield, with Wigginton taking 3rd base.   Ruiz, perfect in 3 of his 4 plate appearances, hit a sacrifice fly to shallow right plating Wigginton and making Bedard the losing pitcher.   2nd baseman Freddie Galvis, batting eighth in the order and subbing for DL 2nd baseman Chase Utley, ended the inning by grounding out to shortstop.

“The Doc” was not only masterful on the mound, but singled to open the eighth, but was stranded along with 3rd baseman Placido Polanco who was walked with 1 out.

Closer Jon Papelbon came on in the ninth and did what closers are supposed to do: go clean on the Pirates on 10 pitches, 9 of them for strikes while striking out 1 for his first save as a Phil.

For all of Thursday’s scores in both leagues, click here.

The Phils play the 2nd and 3rd games of their season opening 3 game series in Pittsburgh on Saturday and Sunday as  All Star lefthander Cliff Lee is opposed by Jeff Karstens on Saturday.   

On Sunday, the 2011 rookie of the year candidate and 2nd year hurler Vance Worley and James McDonald are scheduled to oppose each other in the rubber game of the series.

Please Note:
  a wrap-up of the Phillies’ spring exhibition games will follow shortly and we will discuss the 25 man Season Opening roster, Ryan Madson’s going down with a “Tommy John” elbow injury in Cincinnati and more.

For all of Saturday’s and Sunday’s action in both leagues, click here and here.

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Former Cy Young Winner Flanagan Dead of Gunshot Wound

Friday, August 26th, 2011

Mike Flanagan                 Mike Flanagan

Former Baltimore Orioles lefthander and Cy Young winner Mike Flanagan was found dead Wednesday afternoon near his Baltimore home, according to an AP report for Yahoo sports, from what the Maryland medical examiner ruled as suicide — a self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.

Flanagan, one of the stars of a fine Orioles staff of the late 1970s and early 1980s, was the ace of the 1979 staff going 23-9 with a 3.08 ERA and was a prominent part of the Orioles’ pitching rotation which brought them to the 1983 World Series where they beat the Phillies by 4 games to 1.

The Baseball Library site provides these notes about Flanagan:

Armed with a big-breaking curveball, an underrated fastball and a great pickoff move, Flanagan strung together a decade of formidable pitching after losing his first five major-league decisions. From 1977 to 1987, he started more games (334) than any other AL pitcher and posted a .500 or better record each season from 1977 to 1984.

Flanagan suffered a severe knee injury in 1983 (though he returned to win 12 games and make a pair of post-season starts) and a torn Achilles tendon in 1985, costing him big chunks of both seasons. Struggling in Baltimore, Flanagan found new life after getting traded to Toronto during the 1987 stretch run. The Blue Jays were no doubt glad to acquire him, as he owned more wins (17) and innings pitched (208) against them than any other hurler.

After starting 30 games for Toronto in 1989, he was released when he got off to a slow start the following season.

Flanagan ended his career with the Orioles retiring in 1992.

The AP report for Yahoo provides notes on Flanagan’s career and demise:

After his retirement, he worked for the Orioles as a coach and in the front office before settling into a job as color commentator on the team’s broadcast network.

Flanagan was scheduled to work this weekend’s series against the New York Yankees.

“He was looking forward to broadcasting the Yankees series coming up. He was doing something he loved,” said Jim Duquette, who teamed with Flanagan from 2005-07 to attempt to rebuild the Orioles.

A police investigation revealed the 59-year-old pitcher was upset about financial issues. He left no note.

According to police, Alex Flanagan last spoke to her husband about 1 a.m. Wednesday. She told police he sounded upset, and he promised he would talk to her later.

When Alex Flanagan did not hear from her husband, she called a neighbor to check on him. The neighbor went to the home and called 911 after failing to find him.

Police discovered a body on the property but could not immediately determine the identity because the wounds were so severe.

Flanagan was a crafty left-hander who went 167-143 with a 3.90 ERA over 18 seasons with Baltimore and Toronto.

He was 141-116 with Baltimore and is a member of the team’s Hall of Fame. Flanagan was also the final Oriole to pitch at Memorial Stadium, Baltimore’s home from 1954-1991.

“It’s very tragic. He was a good friend. I just wished I’d known he was having a struggle,” former Orioles player and manager Davey Johnson said. “I’d sure liked to have talked to him. It’s just a terrible loss. Everybody who knew Flanny loved him. He was always a delight to be around.”

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Lee Homers, Wins 12th Game as Phillies Edge Dodgers

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Jimmy Rollins   Cliff Lee   Cliff Lee
Phillies lefthander Cliff Lee tossed another masterful game on Tuesday striking out 10, allowing just 4 hits while providing what turned out to be the winning run with his second career homer, a solo shot in the seventh inning off of lefthanded Dodger counterpart Ted Lilly.   Shortstop Jimmy Rollins doubled in 3rd baseman Wilson Valdez in the third inning to plate the 1st Phils run and Lee carried a 2-0 shutout through eight innings.  The Dodgers managed to score their only run on 2 hits on 1st baseman Casey Blake’s 2 out single to leftfield off of closer Ryan Madson in the ninth.   But Madson ended it by striking out Rod Barajas and collecting his 21st save as Lee homered and won his 12th game as the Phillies edged the Dodgers by 2-1 to take the second game of their 3 game series.

With the win, the Phils’ stayed 8 1/2 games ahead of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East race.   The 3rd place Mets remained 17 1/2 games  back in 3rd place.  The 4th place Washington Nationals remained 19 1/2 games back as they squeeked by the Chicago Cubs.   The last place Florida Marlins, who lost again to the Braves, dropped further back at 21 games behind the front-runners.

While cruising in a 4 hit shutout through eight innings, Lee connected in the seventh inning on Lilly’s 1 out, 2-0 pitch slamming his 2nd career homer to rightfield.   It turned out to be the winning run.  AP’s game recap for Yahoo sports notes:

“On the way over, Sarge [Gary Matthews Sr. — former outfielder and one of the Phillies game announcers] was talking about the guys that had hit the ball out of the stadium (Willie Stargell twice,  Mark McGwire and Mike Piazza), and I was just jokingly saying that I was going to do it today,” Lee said. “Obviously I didn’t hit one out of the stadium, but I hit one. I was just joking around with those guys. I never expected that to happen.

Lee, who spent most of his 10-year career in the American League, did not have a home run in 51 career at-bats entering this season. His first one came July 9 against Atlanta’s Tommy Hanson at Philadelphia.

…Lefty Ted Lilly… has given up a team-high 25 homers this season.

Coming off a 3-0 victory last Thursday at San Francisco in which he threw 106 pitches and posted his major league-leading fifth shutout, Lee raised his strikeout total to 177—eight shy of his career-best total from last season.

Lee fanned Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier their first two times up en route to his 17th career double-digit strikeout game and eighth this season—the most by a Phillie since 1988 1998, when Curt Schilling did it 15 times.

Lilly (7-12) allowed two runs and six hits over eight innings with five strikeouts and a walk. He retired NL RBI leader Ryan Howard on inning-ending groundouts his first two times up—both times with two men on base.

Rollins lined a soft opposite-field single double over the head of first baseman Blake in the third inning to drive in Wilson Valdez with the Phillies’ other run.

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

The Phils hope to sweep the Dodgers as rookie Vance Worley goes for his 9th win opposed by Chad Billingsley.

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

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Worley, Hamels Lead Phillies Past Giants for Eighth, Ninth Straight Wins

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Vance Worley   John Mayberry, Jr.   Hunter Pence   Cole Hamels
Starters Vance Worley and lefthander Cole Hamels put together 2 gems on Friday and Saturday to extend the Phillies season-best winning streak to 9 games.   The Phils’ offense pounded Giants lefthander Jonathan Sanchez and reliever Ramon Ramirez on Friday and then scored just enough on Saturday to enable Hamels to best Matt Cain in a classic duel.   Worley was masterful on Friday throwing a seven inning 2 run, 7 hit gem as 3 Phillies homered off Giant pitching, including rightfielder Hunter Pence’s 2nd homer in 2 games, while the Phils scored 2 first inning runs on Saturday on 2 hits, a walk, an error and a passed ball and Hamels made the lead stand up.   Hamels tossed shutout ball for 8 2/3 innings before 3rd baseman Pablo Sandoval solo homered to break the shutout.  But Hamels retired the next hitter, shortstop Orlando Cabrera on a ground out to nail down the complete game win as Worley and Hamels led the Phillies past Giants by scores of 9-2 and 2-1 for their eighth and ninth straight wins.With the wins, the Phils increased their NL East lead to 9 1/2 games over the 2nd place Atlanta Braves who split their Friday and Saturday games with the Mets.  The Mets are now 17 1/2 games back in 3rd place.    The Florida Marlins dropped both of their games but remained in 4th place 19 games back while last place Washington split their games and are 20 games back.

The lines on Worley and Hamels speak for themselves — Fantastic!    But it’s guys like John Mayberry Jr. (4 for 11 with 3 homers and 5 RBIs in the last 4 games he was a part of), who started on Friday at 1st base (giving Ryan Howard some rest), who have carried hot bats through the big win streak.  Mayberry and centerfielder Shane Victorino both homered on Friday amidst the Phils’ fourth inning onslaught of Jonathan Sanchez.  The Phils added a run in the fifth and 3 more in the sixth before Pence put the icing on the cake with his 2nd homer as a Phil.   3rd baseman Pablo Sandoval, the only hot bat the Giants have, gave them a short-lived first inning lead with a sacrifice fly RBI to centerfield.    Catcher Eli Whiteside solo homered in the fifth for the Giants’ only other run in the one-sided Phillies rout.

Friday’s game got heated in the sixth when the Giants took issue with shortstop Jimmy Rollins’ stealing 2nd base, after singling in 2 runs off of Ramirez with 2 outs, with the Phils holding an 8-2 lead.   The result was that after 3rd baseman Placido Polanco singled, Ramirez hit Victorino with a pitch.   Ramirez,  Victorino and Whiteside were all tossed as Mayberry Jr. was switched into centerfield, replacing Victorino and Howard, who pinch-ran (What??!!??) for Victorino came on to finish the game at 1st base.

Relievers Michael Stutes and David Herndon replaced Worley and tossed one inning each shutting down the Giants.  AP’s game recap for Yahoo sports provides more notes on Friday’s game.

Saturday’s AP game recap provides these notes on Hamels’ 2nd complete game of the season:

Hamels made a pair of first-inning runs hold up as the Phillies, with the best record in the majors, defeated the Giants for the third straight day.

Two days after Lee threw a shutout, Hamels (13-6) blanked the Giants until Pablo Sandoval’s two-out home run in the ninth inning. Hamels struck out five and faced five batters more than the minimum while dominating the defending World Series champs.

Hamels had only one victory in his previous four starts and lost to San Francisco 2-1 on July 27 despite pitching into the eighth inning and allowing only two runs and six hits.

He was even stronger in the rematch and got better results.

“I was one out away from a shutout,” Hamels said with a grin. “Cliff just got one. We’re all trying to compete against each other.”

Hamels, who hadn’t won since July 22, faced the minimum through three innings, then gave up back-to-back singles in the fourth. He quickly worked out of the jam, striking out Carlos Beltran on three pitches before Sandoval grounded into a 4-6-3 double play in the first pitch.

San Francisco didn’t get another runner until the seventh, and had two on with two outs in the eighth but failed to score each time.

All but three of the 27 outs recorded by the All-Star left-hander were made by the infield. Philadelphia also backed Hamels with two double plays in a game that took 2 hours, 14 minutes.

Jimmy Rollins doubled high off the wall in right-center leading off the game, and after Chase Utley drew a one-out walk and Howard struck out, Hunter Pence hit a bloop single to right to drive in Rollins.

Utley tried to take third on the play and appeared to be out following a strong throw by Nate Schierholtz, but Sandoval bobbled the ball, allowing Utley to reach safely. Three pitches later he scored on a passed ball to make it 2-0.

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

The Phillies hope for a four game sweep of the Giants as Roy Oswalt returns to the active roster and makes his first start after a  5 week stint on the disabled list with back woes.   He is opposed by Giants’ ace Tim Lincecum.    Next stop after San Francisco is Los Angeles where the Phils play 3 games with the Dodgers before getting their first day off in 20 games on Thursday.

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

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Lee, Pence, Mayberry Jr. Lead Phillies in Shutout of Giants

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Hunter Pence    Cliff Lee    John Mayberry, Jr.
Phillies starter Cliff Lee pitched another dominant complete game shutout, his MLB-leading 5th no-run game of the season, besting San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner in their duel of lefthanders.   Lee threw 106 pitches while spreading out 7 hits and walking none to win his 11th game of the season.  He struck out 7 and permitted 2 men to reach base in only the second and eighth innings.  The Phils threatened against Bumgarner in the first on 2 singles and a walk but came up empty.    But rightfielder Hunter Pence slammed Bumgarner’s 1st pitch of the second inning out to leftfield and leftfielder John Mayberry Jr. followed suit 4 pitches later with his dinger also to leftfield as the Phils took a2-0 lead.   Pence, who has at least 1 hit in each of his 6 games with the Phils, went 3 for 4 with 2 RBIs having singled in a ninth inning run for good measure as Lee, Pence and Mayberry Jr. led the Phillies in a 3-0 shutout of the Giants in the opener of their 4 game series.

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With the win, the Phils increased their NL East lead to 8  1/2 games over the 2nd place Atlanta Braves who were off on ThursdayThe Mets snuck back into 3rd place while also being off.   The 4th place  Florida Marlins dropped their game and dropped to 17 games back while last place Washington also lost and are 18 1/2 games back.

AP’s game recap for Yahoo sports notes:

Lee (11-7) was commanding in his first regular season start against the Giants in two years, striking out eight, including Cody Ross four times, and not walking a hitter. He set down 10 in a row at one point in his major league-leading fifth shutout this season.

“That’s probably the best game I’ve had as far as commanding the ball,” Lee said. “I was getting ahead of the hitters and staying away from the middle of the plate. I felt like I could throw any pitch at any time to any location.”

It was also some revenge for Lee, who lost twice to the Giants in last year’s World Series pitching for the Texas Rangers.

Pence had three hits and drove in two runs and is hitting .360 (9 for 25) since joining the Phillies.

“He has come in and fit in nicely,” Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said. “He gives us energy and intensity. He’s been great for our team.”

Madison Bumgarner, a postseason hero for the Giants, recovered after allowing two long balls in a game for just the second time this year and the first since June 15.

Bumgarner (6-11) retired 13 of 14 following Mayberry’s blast. He went eight innings, allowing six hits, walking two and striking out nine.

“The game was all about pitching and good defense on both sides,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “After the two home runs Bumgarner was really good.”

The Phillies, who have won seven straight since losing two in a row to the Giants in Philadelphia, remain undefeated since acquiring Pence,

who homered in a Phillies uniform for the first time. Pence ended a 19-game, 67-at bat homerless drought when he connected on Bumgarner’s first pitch in the second inning.

“Any time you can pick up a player like Pence you’re going to be a better ball club,” Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy said. “He helps balance their lineup. They got the player they were looking for.”

Bumgarner allowed the first three Phillies to reach in the first, but Jimmy Rollins was thrown out trying to steal third by Chris Stewart and Howard lined into a 5-6 double play.

“Lee doesn’t need many runs as good as he is,” Bumgarner said. “That second inning cost me I guess. The way he was throwing he looked like he could throw about 14 innings out there.”

The Phillies never had more than one runner on in an inning the rest of the way.

Lee, who threw the 10th shutout of his career, made it all academic, needing just 74 pitches to get through the first seven innings and 106 overall. He sent the Giants to their sixth loss in seven games, slicing a half-game off their NL West lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks

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

In Friday’s game 2, young talented rookie Vance Worley goes for his 8th win opposed by lefthander Jonathan Sanchez for the Giants.  On Saturday, lefthander Cole Hamels goes for his 13th win vs Matt Cain in a rematch of their July 27th duel won by the Giants in Philadelphia.
For all of Friday’s and Saturday’s scheduled games throughout MLB, click here and here.

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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.

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