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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 Unleash Offensive Fury to Pound Atlanta

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Raul Ibanez    Cole Hamels    Michael Martinez
The Phillies unleashed their offensive cannons on Atlanta Braves starter Derek Lowe and 2 relievers on Sunday scoring a season-high 14 runs and garnering 20 hits in the onslaught.   Lefthander Cole Hamels again looked like one of the Phillies staff aces after being staked to a 4-1 lead.   That was all Hamels really needed throwing 116 pitches while giving up 1 run on 3 hits through eight sterling innings.   But the Phils increased Hamels cushion by bombing rookie reliever Cory Gearrin for 6 seventh inning runs and pummelling  Scott Proctor for 4 more in the eighth.   Reliever Kyle Kendrick finished up shutting down the Braves on 7 pitches in the ninth inning.  Leftfielder Raul Ibanez had a huge game slamming a 2 run single and a 3 run homer driving in a total of 6 runs, while substitute 3rd baseman Michael Martinez went 4 for 5 and everyone in the lineup but catcher Carlos Ruiz (only 1 hit) had multiple hits as the Phillies unleashed their offensive fury to take the series final pounding Atlanta by 14-1.

With Sunday’s big offensive blow out win, the Phils take a 3 1/2 game lead in the Nl East over 2nd place Atlanta into All Star break.   The 3rd place Mets go into All Star break 11 back of the Phils and 1 game above .500 after losing to San Francisco.   4th place Washington is 11 1/2 back with an even .500 record after shutting out Colorado.

It hasn’t been very often over the last couple of seasons that the offense arrived at the same game as the pitching.  Usually, they post a couple/few runs and then hand it to their pitching staff of aces to carry them the rest of the way.  The formula has worked often with a staff of aces like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Hamels,  Roy Oswalt (on the DL) or Joe Blanton (on DL most of the season), rookie Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick, but not always or the Phillies’ wins total would be up in the 70s.

on July 11.  The Phillies Nation blog describes Sunday’s Phillies blowout of the Braves:

…The Phillies’ offense showed up on the same day as Cole Hamels. Hamels put together the third brilliant starting pitching performance of the weekend for the Phils, who took the rubber match from Atlanta… as a sellout crowd sent the Braves into the break with a mocking round of the Tomahawk Chop. Hamels allowed one run on only three hits and two walks in eight strong innings of work, setting down the last 13 Braves he faced. However, Hamels’ electrifying effort was somewhat unnecessary [augmented] as the Phillies tagged the Braves’… pitching staff for 14 runs and 20 hits, with every starting position player recording at least one base hit and scoring at least one run. The Braves struck first when Dan Uggla doubled and scored on a Ryan Howard error in the top of the second, but once Hamels got out of that inning, he’d only allow two baserunners for the rest of the game. Starting in the bottom of the second, the Phillies offense started battling back, throwing up 14 unanswered runs in support of their starting pitcher.  [Substitute centerfielder] John Mayberry tied it when the first of his three doubles scored Domonic Brown in the second. The Phils added two more in the third, helped by a Dan Uggla error, and another run in the fourth on a Jimmy Rollins single. The last two innings, however, saw 18 Phillies come to the plate and 10 more runs show up on the board.

The trio of shortstop Rollins, Mayberry Jr. and rightfielder Brown each had 3 hits to go along with Martinez’s 4 hits, while 2nd baseman Chase Utley, 1st baseman Howard and Ibanez each had 2 hits apiece.  Mayberry Jr. drove in 4 runs slamming 3 doubles.  Brown collected 2 RBIs.  Lowe was battered for 10 hits and 4 runs in six innings as the Braves fed 2 of their young bullpen hands to the wolves — which included 2 subs who carried hot bats in this series final.

The AP game recap for Yahoo sports provides more on the multitude of highlights from Sunday’s offensive outburst.

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

All Star break begins on Monday and the Phils don’t return to action until Friday when they oppose the Mets for 3 games over next weekend.

For all of Tuesday’s MLB  All Star game action, click here.

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Phillies Split 2 Games With Braves in Extra Innings

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

Roy Halladay   Carlos Ruiz   Cliff Lee   Cliff Lee
Phillies leftfielder Raul Ibanez slammed Atlanta reliever Scott Proctor’s tenth inning, 1 out, 2-0 pitch out to rightfield on Friday after ace Roy Halladay and Brandon Beachy locked up in a 2-2 duel with all scoring done in the second and fourth innings until Ibanez’s 10th inning walkoff.  Catcher Carlos Ruiz slammed a one out fourth inning game-tying solo homer after the Braves took a 2-1 lead in their fourth. Then both starters and their relievers tossed zeros until the tenth.   Halladay gave up 2  runs on 6 hits issuing no walks and striking out 7 while tossing 118 pitches over seven innings.   33 year old lefthanded reliever Juan Perez followed relievers Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo to pitch the tenth inning striking out the side on 9 pitches to get credit for his 1st MLB win.    On Saturday, lefthander Cliff Lee engaged Tommy Hanson in a classic duel each going deep into the game and giving up a run apiece and each giving up a solo homer.   Lee, himself, got offensive with 1 out in the third dueling with Hanson for 9 pitches before pounding the 10th pitch out to right centerfield for the 1st homer of his career.  The rest of the Phils offense was completely handcuffed by Hanson.    2nd baseman Dan Uggla reached Lee for a leadoff homer in the fifth to knot the score at 1-1.   Lee spread out 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9 in a dominant 103 pitch, eight inning outing.   Hanson nearly matched him giving up  a run and 4 hits over seven innings.  The game remained deadlocked until the Braves finally got to Stutes in the eleventh after a walk, a sacrifice bunt.   Braves shortstop Alex Gonzalez singled to shallow centerfield driving in the lead run and catcher Brian McCann followed by slamming a 2 run shot to give the Braves a 4-1 lead.  The Phills had lefthanded reliever George Sherrill in trouble in the tenth loading the bases with 2 out on 2 singles and a walk.   But centerfielder John Mayberry Jr. grounded out to end the inning.  The Braves then jumped on Stutes in the eleventh and Sherill was credited with the win as the Phillies split the first 2 games with the Braves winning 3-2 and losing 4-1 with both games ending in extra innings.

With the split of the first 2 games, the Phils’ NL East lead remained at 2 1/2 games over the 2nd place  Braves.  The 3rd place Mets remained 9 1/2 games back splitting their games with San Francisco and the 4th place Washington Nationals dropped to 12 games back losing both of their games to Colorado.

The Phils offense slumbered in both games and were able to do very little against Beachy and the Braves bullpen in Friday’s opener until Ibanez ended it with 1 out in the tenth.   They could do even less on Saturday against Hanson and 4 Braves relievers as the game remained a 1-1 stalemate until the Braves pounded Stutes for a homer and 3 runs in the eleventh.  Lee spread out 3 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9 in a dominant 103 pitch, eight inning outing on Saturday.   Hanson nearly matched him giving up a run and 4 hits over seven innings.   All 4 starters were dominant but none of them were in on the final decisions.  Stutes had only given up 3 runs in his previous 9 2/3 innings over 10 games.

One can view the AP game recaps for Yahoo sports for Friday’s and Saturday’s games by clicking here and  here.

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

In the final game before the 4 day All Star break, lefthander Cole Hamels looks to post his 11th win as he is opposed by Derek Lowe for the Braves.  The Phils don’t return to action until Friday when the oppose the  Mets for 3 games over next weekend.

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

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Ibanez, Worley Star as Phillies Edge Red Sox

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Raul Ibanez           Vance Worley
Phillies leftfielder Raul Ibanez, who came into the game 5 for 44 and with a homer-less streak of 90 at-bats since May 30th, was a perfect 3 for 3 at the plate including a second inning RBI single and a seventh inning leadoff homer providing the winning margin.    Young Vance Worley showed the poise of a veteran in winning his 3rd game by outpitching John Lackey through seven innings.  Young Phillies’ relievers Michael Stutes and  Antonio Bastardo finished up going clean on Boston in the eighth and ninth innings with Bastardo notching his 3rd save as Ibanez and Worley starred as the Phillies edged the Red Sox by 2-1 in game 2 of their 3 game series.

Although they won, the Phils’ NL East lead remained at 4 1/2 games over the 2nd place Atlanta Braves who also won.  The 3rd place Mets kept pace with the Phils at 9 1/2 games back by again pounding Detroit while the 4th place Washington Nationals dropped to 11 games back after being shut out by the L.A. Angels.

The AP game recap provides Wednesday’s highlights:

Worley (3-1) allowed one run, five hits and struck out five. The rookie right-hander has filled in nicely for injured starters Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton.

Worley dusted [Dustin] Pedroia with a high-and-tight fastball inside in the first inning and left an impression with his solid performance.

“He had great mound presence, and we were all very impressed,” Pedroia said. “It’s really good for a kid that young to have a presence like that on the mound. He’s going to be a good one.”

In a series billed as a World Series preview, the major league-leading Phillies (51-30) have taken two straight and go for a sweep Thursday.

Ibanez was 3 for 3 with two RBIs, falling a triple short of the cycle. He came in 5 for 44.

John Lackey (5-7) gave up two runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings in one of his best starts this season. He lowered his ERA from 7.36 to 6.81.

Desperate to wake up a slumping offense, Boston manager Terry Francona gave Adrian GonzalezDavid Ortiz could play first base. Ortiz hadn’t started the previous four games because there is no designated hitter in NL parks. his second career start in right field so

It didn’t work. Big Papi was 0 for 4.

“Did that guy just come up or something? Man, because he looked pretty good to me,” Ortiz said of Worley. “He had decent stuff, and it really looks like he’s been around for a long time.

“They’ve got four big starters here, right? Well, he looked like one of them out there tonight. He really looked comfortable. It’s obvious that he’s listening to those big starters over there. It’s rubbing off on him.”

Gonzalez didn’t have any putouts in his first game in right since 2005. He went back to the wall and leaped for a ball hit by Chase Utley in the eighth, but it bounced high off the railing and went for a triple.

Ibanez gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the second with an RBI single.  Shane Victorino led off the inning with a double down the left-field line. He scored when Ibanez hit a hard liner to left-center.

The Red Sox tied it at 1 in the fifth on Lackey’s fourth career hit.   Josh Reddick singled with one out and scored on Lackey’s two-out double. Lackey was 3 for 36 with one double and one RBI in his career before hitting a 3-2 pitch to deep left-center.

Ibanez put the Phillies up 2-1 when he led off the bottom of the seventh with a drive to the seats in right.

“He works hard and he stays at everything,” Manuel said.

Michael Stutes pitched a perfect eighth and Antonio Bastardo finished for his third save and first filling in for Ryan Madson.

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

The Phils hope for a series sweep with Thursday’s series final, but it won’t be easy.   Two fine lefthanders duel as Cole Hamels and Jon Lester each go for their 10th win.

The Phils next head for Toronto for a 3 game series with the Blue Jays beginning on Friday.   Then they head to Florida for a 3 game series beginning on Monday July 4th.

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

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Brown, Victorino Homer as Phillies’ Lee Shuts Out Red Sox

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Domonic Brown      Cliff Lee       Shane Victorino
The Phillies made economic use of their 6 hits as rightfielder Domonic Brown pounded a 2 out, 2 run second inning homer off of Boston’s Josh Beckett and centerfielder Shane Victorino followed suit with a  2 out, 2 run blast to rightfield in the sixth staking lefthander Cliff Lee to a 5-0 lead.  Lee sacrificed in the 3rd run in the fifth while retiring 15 of the first 16 Red Sox he faced enroute to a 2 hit masterpiece for his 3rd consecutive shutout extending his scoreless streak to 32 innings and winning his 9th game of the season.  Losing pitcher Beckett completed six innings giving up all 5 runs as Brown and Victorino homered and the Phillies’ Lee shut out  the Red Sox 5-0 in their series opener.

Although they won, the Phils’ NL East lead remained at 5 games over the 2nd place Atlanta Braves who also won.  The 3rd place Mets kept pace with the Phils at 9 games back by pounding Detroit while the 4th place  Washington Nationals dropped to 10 1/2 games back after a drubbing by the L.A. Angels.

After 1st baseman Ryan Howard singled to leftfield to lead off the second inning, was rubbed out at 2nd on Victorino’s fielder’s choice grounder, and after leftfielder Raul Ibanez went down on strikes on 3 pitches, rookie rightfielder Brown worked Beckett to a 2-2 count before ripping a 2 run right centerfield homer to give the Phils and Lee an early 2-0 lead,   Brown, who had been 4 for 34 in his previous 10 games and chastised by both manager Charlie Manuel and the fans for not running hard on a couple of plays in the Oakland series, got back on everyone’s good side by nailing his 5th homer.

But Brown wasn’t finished.  He led off the fifth inning by doubling to leftfield and took 3rd base on catcher  Carlos Ruiz’s fly out to rightfield.   Lee then plated Brown with a sacrifice fly to leftfield and the lead was at 3-0.

The “Flyin’ Hawaiian’ added some icing in the sixth after 3rd baseman Placido Polanco opened the inning with a single.  2nd baseman Chase Utley bunted Polanco to 2nd base and Howard followed by flying out for the 2nd out.   Victorino worked the count to 3-1 before slamming a 2 run shot to rightfield to cap the Phils’ scoring.

Meanwhile, Cliff Lee was again nothing short of masterful.   The AP game recap for Yahoo sports notes:

Lee didn’t allow a hit until Marco Scutaro led off the sixth with a line-drive single to left-center. He ran his career-best scoreless streak to 32 innings with his ninth career shutout and fourth this year.

“It’s been a good run, no doubt about it,” Lee said. “I’ve had a few in my career, but I don’t look back and compare them. I want to throw a shutout every time out there. I never want to give up a run.”

Beckett (6-3) gave up five runs and five hits in six innings, his worst outing of the season. Beckett entered with a major league-best 1.86 ERA and left at 2.20. He hadn’t pitched because of the flu since tossing a one-hitter against Tampa Bay on June 15.

Darnell McDonald led off the eighth with a double to left, putting Lee’s shutout bid in jeopardy. But shortstop Jimmy Rollins made an outstanding play on Jason Varitek’s hard one-hopper up the middle for the first out. Lee then fanned Mike Cameron looking at a slow curve and retired Scutaro on a grounder to third.

Lee finished with five strikeouts and two walks. He has been sensational since a slow start. The lefty was 4-5 with a 3.94 ERA through May. Since then, he’s 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA in five starts this month.

Lee threw a two-hitter against Florida on June 16 and blanked St. Louis on six hits   He needed 112 pitches to get through this one.

“He’s one of the best pitchers in the game, and he’s riding a hot streak. That is a bad combination for any team to face,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “I haven’t seen all of his starts, but from what I have seen, he’s been quite impressive. He’s working counts, and he’s throwing strikes when he has to. He’s really got it going right now.”

The most popular player on the Phillies, Lee received several ovations from the 180th straight sellout, including postseason play, at Citizens Bank Park.

Following up on an earlier report regarding reliever Ryan Madson, AP reports for Yahoo sports:

The Philadelphia Phillies have placed closer Ryan Madson on the 15-day disabled list with a right hand contusion.

Madson is 3-1 with a 2.03 ERA and has 15 saves in 16 chances.

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

In Wednesday’s game 2, young Vance Worley goes for his 3rd win vs veteran John Lackey for the BoSox.

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

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Halladay Makes Small Lead Stick as Phillies Beat Athletics

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Jimmy Rollins    Roy Halladay    Placido Polanco
The Phillies staked their ace Roy Halladay to a first inning 2-0 lead on Sunday as centerfielder Shane Victorino followed a leadoff single by shortstop Jimmy Rollins and 3rd baseman Placido Polanco’s double by touching young lefthanded Oakland starter Josh Outman for an RBI single to leftfield.   Although 1st baseman Ryan Howard grounded into a doubleplay, the 2nd run scored.   The 2 runs were all Halladay really needed.   The Ace of aces was touched for a fourth inning run on a 2 out RBI single to centerfield by rightfielder Ryan Sweeney, but otherwise Halladay spread out 8 hits in completing his 5th game of the season and winning his 10th to tie for the MLB lead.  “The Doc” even helped out with the stick with a 2 out second inning single, but ended up stranded.  Rollins was a perfect 4 for 4 in the game while scoring 2 runs and Polanco was 2 for 4 scoring a run.   Rightfielder Ben Francisco singled in an insurance 3rd run in the fifth as Halladay made the small lead stick as Phillies beat the Athletics by 3-1 to take 2 of their 3 game series.With the win, the Phils’ upped their NL East lead to 5 games over the 2nd place Atlanta Braves who lost their game.  The 3rd place Washington Nationals and the 4th place Mets both won and remain 8 1/2 and 9 1/2 games off the pace.

The AP game recap for Yahoo sports provides some interesting data:

Halladay (10-3) improved to 30-3 in a Philadelphia uniform in the 35 starts in which the Phillies have given him the lead.

“Obviously pitching with the lead is always beneficial for a pitcher,” Halladay said.

For Halladay, though, it’s almost a guaranteed victory.

“He’s pretty steady,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. “If we can score three or four runs, our starting pitchers have a good chance to win the game. We scratched out three runs and he did a tremendous job. It might not sound like a lot of runs but it gives him room to work.”

Halladay gave up eight hits and walked none in tying for the major league high in victories. He struck out four and raised his total to 123, which led the NL until Clayton Kershaw of the  Dodgers fanned 11 later in the day to pass him.

The Phillies have won each of Halladay’s last eight starts and the right-hander is 5-0 with a 2.64 ERA during the stretch.

But, obviously, he’s not fun to hit against. Even on a day when the A’s managed eight hits, Halladay kept Oakland to just one run.

The Phillies also got a boost from Rollins, who entered 0 for 8 before two solid singles, an infield single and a double on Sunday.

“Jimmy’s had some good games,” Manuel said. “His consistency at times hasn’t been real good. He’s due to get in a good streak. Usually he’ll hit a period where he’s very consistent and hopefully today might help him get into one. His swing has been real good at times. Today he was very good against the lefty.”

Rollins scored twice, Placido Polanco had two hits and Halladay added a single for Philadelphia.

Conor Jackson had three hits for the A’s, who have lost four of five.

Josh Outman (3-2), a former Phillies minor leaguer, allowed three runs and eight hits in six innings. He was picked by the Phillies in the 10th round of the 2005 draft and traded to Oakland in 2008 as part of the deal for Joe Blanton.

The A’s threatened in the seventh when Jackson led off with a single and, after an out, went to third on [Scott] Sizemore’s double down the right-field line. Jackson may have scored on the hit, but he appeared to hesitate rounding second. Oakland couldn’t get the run home as Landon Powell popped out and pinch-hitter David DeJesus struck out looking.  DeJesus has three hits in his last 38 at-bats (.079).

“When he [Halladay] needs to make that big pitch, he does,” Sizemore said. “He’s pretty tough to beat.”

With his complete game, Halladay provided a respid for the weary Phils bullpen which misses Ryan Madson who is inactive with swelling on the back of his pitching hand and Jose Contreras who is on the DL with a strained right forearm.   Regular closer Brad Lidge has seen no action in 2011 and is on the DL with a strained right posterior rotator cuff.

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

The Phils have the day off on Monday before entertaining the Boston Red Sox for 3 games next Tuesday through Thursday.   In Tuesday’s opener, lefthander Cliff Lee goes for his 9th win and tries to extend his scoreless inning string in dueling with Josh Beckett for the BoSox.

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

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