The Phils will begin their 129th season as a member of the National League with an afternoon game against the Pittsburgh Pirates tomorrow afternoon at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA. The game will start at 1:35 pm EDT.
The Phils, who are coming off a team record setting 102-80 win season, will be protecting their fifth straight National League Eastern Division Championship, also a team record, after having been knocked out of the NL Divisional Series, losing the series 3 games to 2, by the eventual 2011 World Series Champions St. Louis Cardinals. The Phils will send to the mound their ace, Roy Halladay (0-0, —), who will be coming off a 19-6 2011, with a 2.35 ERA and a WHIP of 1.04. He also struck out 220 batters. The Pirates, who are coming off their19th straight losing season, finishing 2011 in 4th place in the National League Central Division with a 72-90 record, will be trying once again to at least reach a .500 record. They will be sending to the mound Erik Bedard (0-0, -.–), who had spent 2011 pitching for both the Red Sox and the Mariners, who will be coming off a combine record of 5-9 with an ERA of 3.62, and a WHIP of 1.28.
The Phils will be out to start the 2012 season on a good note.
In the Phillies’ 128-year history as a member of the National League, they have spent most of that time being either a cellar dweller or as a member of the second division. But, the team has spent some time in the first division, winning two World Series Championship, seven National League pennants, with two in consecutive seasons (2008-2009) and ten National League Eastern Division flags, including winning the last four (2007-2010). The team has also finished in second place in either the National League (1883-1968) or in the National League Eastern Division (1969 to the present) a grand total of thirteen time.
The first time they would end up in second place would be in 1887, the fifth year of the team’s existence, as they would finish the season behind the first place Detroit Wolverines with a record of 75-48 for a winning percentage of .610, finishing 3.5 games behind the Wolverines in a league of eight teams, before the expansion to twelve teams in 1892. For the Phils, who were also called the Quakers at the time, this would be their only second place finish in the 19th Century. The next time the Phils would finish in second place, and the first time in the 20th Century, would occur in 1901, as they fell behind the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were at the beginning of winning three straight NL pennants (1901-1903), as they finish the season with a record of 83-57, with a .593 winning percentage, finishing 7.5 games behind the Bucos. The next time that the Phils would end up in second place would occur in 1913, as they finished behind the New York Giants, who had won their third straight NL pennant (1911-1913), ending the year with a record of 88-63 for a winning percentage of .583, ending up 12.5 games behind the Giants. The Phils would then finished second for the two seasons after they had won their first NL pennant in 1915. The first time, for the fourth time overall, would occur in 1916, when they would finish behind the Brooklyn Robins, now Dodgers, with a 91-62 record, winning one game more than they did the year that they won the pennant, with a winning percentage of .595, finishing 2.5 games behind the Robins. The following season, 1917, they would finish in second place again, this time behind the Giants, with a record of 87-65, with a .572 winning percentage, trailing the Giants by 10 games. The Phils would then spend most of the next 47 years in the second division before once again finishing second. The Phils would then end up tied for second place with the Cincinnati Reds in 1964, after collapsing in September, finishing behind the St. Louis Cardinals with a record of 92-70, with a winning percentage of .568, a game out of first. This would be the sixth and final time that they would finish in second place in the National League before the two major leagues split into divisions in 1969, with the Phils becoming a member of the NL East. The first time the Phils would end up in second place in the NL East would occur in 1975, when they finished second to the Pirates, finishing the year with a record of 86-76, with a .531 winning percentage, finishing 6.5 games before the Pirates. The second time they would end up in second place in the NL East would happen in 1982, as they trail the Cardinals, ending up with a record of 89-73, with a winning percentage of .549, finishing 3 games behind the redbirds. The third time they would finish second in the NL East would be in 1986, as they finished behind the New York Mets with a record of 86-75, with a .534 winning percentage, trailing by 21.5 games. The fourth time they would finish the season in second place in the NL East would not occur until 2001, when they finished behind the Atlanta Braves with an 86-76 record, a winning percentage of .531, ending up 2 games out of first. The Phils will then end up in second place in the East, missing being the wild card winner each season, in 2004, 2005, and 2006, finishing behind the Braves in 2004 and 2005 and then behind the Mets in 2006. In 2004, they finished the season with an 86-76 record, a .531 winning percentage, as they finished 10 games behind the Braves. In 2005, they finished the year with a record of 88-74, with a winning percentage of .543, 2 games behind the Braves. In 2006, they would end the baseball season with a record of 85-77, a winning percentage of .525, 12 games in back of the Mets.
Of their thirteen finishes in second place, six occurred as a member of the NL, and the other seven as a member of the NL East. They would finish in second place once in the 19th Century, eight times in the 20th Century (5 (NL), 3 (NL East)), and four, so far, in the 21st Century as a member of the NL East. Their best record in second place was when they finished second in 1964, when they finished with a record of 91-70. Their worst second place finish was in 1887, the first time they would finish second, as they had a record of 75-48. Their highest winning percentage would be the .610 of 1887, while the worst would be the .525 of 2006. Their best game behind finish was when they ended a game behind (with the Reds) in 1964, while their worst was when they fell 21.5 games behind (the Mets in the East) in 1986.
With the way the Phils are presently structured, they could remain as either a first or a second place team in the NL East for several more seasons.
Behind the two-hit complete game shut out pitching of their ace Roy Halladay, the Phils have clinched their fourth straight National League Eastern Division title as they defeat the Nats, 8-0.
The Phils took the lead in the second as Jayson Werth hits a lead-off home run, his twenty-sixth home run of the season, giving the Phils a 1-0 lead. The Phils increased their lead in the sixth as, with two men on, and with two men out, Werth hits a two-run double, knocking in Placido Polanco, who had earlier singled, then went to second base when Chase Utley was hit by the pitch, and Utley, who had just been hit by the pitch, giving the Phils a 3-0 lead. The Phils then made it a 4-0 lead two batters latter as, with runners on the corners, as Raul Ibanez got on base with an infield single, sending Werth to third, and still with two men out, Carlos Ruiz hits an RBI double, scoring Werth, while sending Ibanez over to third. The Phils then busted the game wide open in the ninth as, with runners on the corners, and with two men out, Polanco hits an RBI single, scoring Wilson Valdez, who had reached first earlier on a strikeout that got away from Wilson Ramos before he threw to third base to nail Ruiz, who had earlier doubled, and then tried to move up to third on the play, who then stole second as Halladay struck out, then stole third base, giving the Phils a 5-0 lead, while sending Shane Victorino, who had just walked, on to third base. The Phils then took a 7-0 lead as Utley hits a two-run double, scoring both Victorino and Polanco. The Phils then made it an 8-0 lead as, after Ryan Howard had walked, Werth hits an RBI infield single to the first baseman, as Utley ran all the way from second base to score, while Howard would move up to second base. That would be more than enough for Halladay as he pitched a complete game shut out, giving up only two hits, a lead-off single to Ramos in the third, before he was wiped out in a 4-6-3 double play by Alberto Gonzalez, and then a lead-off single in the eighth by Adam Dunn, who was then stranded at first, before he ended the game by getting Danny Espinosa to strike out, swinging, his sixth strike out victim.
Roy Halladay gets the win as he pitches a complete game shut out, giving up only two hits, while striking out six. His record is now 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA. John Lannan took the lost as he pitches only five and two-thirds innings, giving up four runs on seven hits, a walk and a hit batter, while striking out three. His record is now 8-8 with a 4.65 ERA. Craig Stammen and Collin Balester combine for two and a third scoreless innings, giving up a hit (Stammen) and a walk (Stammen), while striking out two (Balester) between them. Joe Bisenius pitches two-thirds of an inning, giving up four runs on three hits and two walks, while striking out two. Miguel Batista pitches a third of an inning, giving up a hit.
The Phils had twelve hits in the game, with Placido Polanco, Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz all leading the team with three hits each, with Polanco’s hits being all singles, knocking in a run, Werth’s three hits being a single, a double and a solo home run, knocking in four runs and Ruiz’s hits being a single, and two doubles, knocking in a run. Raul Ibanez followed with two hits, a single and a double. Chase Utley had the final Phil hit, a double, knocking in two runs. The Phils’ offense exploded late in the game, after being kept quiet for the early part of the evening.
The Phils (94-63, 1st) continues their three-game series with the Nationals (67-90, 5th) with a night game tonight. The game will be played at Nationals Park and will begin at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phils starter will be Roy Oswalt (13-13 (7-1), 2.80 (1.76)), who is coming off a no-decision against the Braves on September 22, when he pitched seven shut out innings, giving up only a hit and a walk, while striking out eight, in the Phils 1-0 win. In his last three starts, his record is 2-0 with a no-decision, as he had pitched twenty-two innings, giving up just a run on eleven hits and three walks, while striking out twenty-one. He will be going for his eighth win since joining the Phils, and his third straight win against the Nats. The Nats will counter with Jason Marquis (2-9, 7.18), who is coming off a no-decision against the Astros, as he pitched six innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out two, in the Nats’ 4-3 win. In his last three starts, his record is 0-2 with a no-decision, as he had pitched twelve and one-third innings, giving up ten runs on eighteen hits and three walks, while striking out ten. He will be trying to not be rough up again by the Phils. The Phils will be trying to make sure that they’ll have the best record in the National League no matter what happens during the rest of the season.