It is now two days before the start of the 2008 World Series, which will be played at the home ball park of the American League Champion, the Tampa Bay Rays, Tropicana Field, on Wednesday, October 22, at 8:22 pm Eastern. The Tampa Bay Rays will be hosting the National League Champion, the Philadelphia Phillies, a team that has just won only its sixth pennant in its 125-years history. So, how did Charlie Manuel’s boys get here, on the verge of possibily winning the franchise’s second World Series crown? Let look at the numbers, shall we?
First, let’s see how well this team did month by month.
As can be seen, the team has winning records in six of the seven months shown above, with their best month being September, when the team, with Ryan Howard’s resurging bat leading the way, would sprint their way to the National League Eastern Division pennant, and with their worst month being June, which coincided with their bad spell of Interleague play. More on that later.
Another thing that people have said is that you have to win series to win pennants, and the Phillies have also done that. At the end of the regular season, they have ended up with 27 series wins, 19 series loses and 6 series splits. Of their 27 series wins, they have won all of the games (sweep) in nine of them (Colorado (2), Atlanta (3), Washington (2), Los Angeles (NL) (1), Milwaukee (1)) for a total of 28 wins, while in their 19 series defeats they were swept only twice (Los Angeles (AL), Los Angeles (NL)) for a total of 7 loses. Of their 10 series wins during the last two months of the regular season, their most important ones would be the one against the Padres in San Diego as it would help to get the team back on track after having been swept by the Dodgers in Los Angeles; their home sweep of the Dodgers since it would help prove to the team that they can beat anybody at home; their win against the Mets in New York at the beginning of September as it would help the Phillies stay close to the Mets, especially after having lost the previous series in Washington; their four games sweep of the Brewers, as it would give the Phillies the option of winning either the Eastern Division or the Wild Card, putting them in the driver seat of the later as they challenged the fading Mets for the former; their final sweep of the Braves in Atlanta as it would help to build up momentum for; their series win against the Marlins in Miami, in which they would help to kill the Marlins’ own hope for the post-season; and lastly, their second sweep of the Nationals which would see them clinch their second straight divisonal crown on the last Saturday of the regular season, while the Sunday win by the rookies and the bench players would help them to maintain momentum going into the National League Divisional Series against Milwaukee.
Another thing that you need to do is to win games in your own division. And the Phillies have actually accomplished that, believe it or not. In fact, they have done pretty well against both teams in their own division and against the teams of the other two divisions within the National League:
National League East: 41-31
National League Central: 27-16
National League West: 20-12
Unfortunately, they have not done so well this year against teams from the American League, going 4-11 in Interleague play.
But, how well have they performed against the other clubs in the National League? The Phillies would end the regualr season with losing records against only two other NL teams, both of them being teams within their own division:
National League East:
Atlanta Braves: 14-4
Washington Nationals: 12-6
Florida Marlins: 8-10
New York Mets: 7-11
The Phillies’ best record in both the division and against the NL overall was their 14-4 record against the Braves, which included their three straight three games sweeps of the Braves’ in their own ball park, something that have not happened to the Braves since they were swept by the Chicago Cubs in 1909, when they were known as the Boston Doves. Their worst record in the division was their 7-11 record against the New York Mets, who won all but the last two series with the Phils, including their series spilt of late August in Philadelphia and the Phillies’ 2-1 series victory in New York in early September, including the spilt of a day/night Sunday doubleheader which would keep the Phillies close to the Mets before they would make their final move to win the Eastern Division pennant.
National League Central:
Milwaukee Brewers: 5-1
Cincinnati Reds: 5-3
St. Louis Cardinals: 5-4
Chicago Cubs: 4-3
Houston Astros: 4-3
Pittsburgh Pirates: 4-2
Against the teams of the National League Central Division, the Phillies would do rather well, winning most of their series against them. They would do best against the Brew Crew, spliting the series in Milwaukee and then sweeping them in an important August series in Philadelphia that would help propel the Phillies into the lead of the National League Wild Card race, on their way to their eventual winning of the National League Eastern Division.
National League West:
Colorado Rockies: 5-0
Los Angeles Dodgers: 4-4
Arizona Diamonbacks: 4-3
San Diego Padres: 4-2
San Francisco Giants: 3-3
Against the West, the Phillies would end the season with a 20-12 record, doing their best against the Rockies, as they would get even with the former National League Champions for losing the 2007 National League Divisional Series by sweeping them in five games, although they would do the home portion of the sweep against a wounded team, while doing their worst against both the Giants and the Dodgers, as they would spilt home series with both teams, winning the series at Citizens Bank Park (2-1 (Giants), 4-0 (Dodgers)), while losing the series on the road (1-2 (Giants), 0-4 (Dodgers)).
Last, and certainly not least, the Phillies did not do very well this year in Interleague play. Lets face facts, people, they stank, as they went 2-4 against two teams in the American League East, and 2-7 against three teams from the American League West, while going 1-5 against two of the elite teams in the American League (Boston and Los Angeles Angels):
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 0-3
Boston Red Sox: 1-2
Oakland Athletics: 1-2
Texas Rangers: 1-2
Toronto Blue Jays: 1-2
With their record against American League teams in Interleague play, it should means that this team might have a hard time with the American League Champion Tampa Bay Ray. But the team that got creamed by the American League in May and June is not the same team that have finished crushing first the Milwaukee Brewers in the Divisional Series and then the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Championship Series, and with little help from either their set up man (Jimmy Rollins) or their biggest offensive threat (Ryan Howard) until the end of both series. This team appears to be a lot more confident now then they did when they faced the American League elite teams the Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels at home back in June. That might make all the difference by the time the World Series is over.
The Phillies also had a very good home-road split. At Citizens Bank Park, they had a record of 48-33, where they were in a four way tie for the second best record for the National League, while they were 44-37 on the road, the best record in the National League. Overall, their 92-70 record was the second best in the National League, trailing only the Chicago Cubs (97-64) and the fifth best in the Majors. Those two records of success at both home and on the road should help the Phillies when they face the Rays starting on Wednesday.
It is now the first of August and the start of the dog days of summer, before we enter the period known as the September pennant races. At the moment, the Philles are leading the National League East, holding a slim one game lead over a resurgent New York Mets squad. How are Charlie Manuel’s boys doing it at the moment/ Let’s take a look at the numbers, shall we?
First, by months. Everybody knows that for the last few seasons people have kept saying that this team needed to win games early in the season, to get a quick start, if they wanted to be in contention for the pennant during September. Well, have they? In fact, they have:
As can be seen, the team has won three of the four months, with their best month being May, and their worst being June, which coincided with their bad spell of Interleague play. More on that later.
Another thing that people have said is that you need to win series to stay in contention, and the Phillies so far have also done that. At the moment, they have won 17 series, lost 13 and have tied 4. Of those 17 series wins, they have won all of the games (sweep) in five of them (Colorado (2), Atlanta (2), Washington (1)) while they have been swept only once (Los Angeles (AL)).
Another thing that you need to do is to lead in your division. And the Phillies have also done that, believe it or not. In fact, they have done pretty well against both their own division and the other two divisions in the National League:
National League East: 24-19
National League Central: 17-12
National League West: 14-7
Unfortunately, they have not done well this season against teams from the American League, going 4-11 in Interleague play.
But, how have they done against other clubs in the National League? For the most part, they presently have losing records with only two teams, both of them being in their division:
National League East:
Atlanta Braves: 10-2
Washington Nationals: 6-3
Florida Marlins: 4-5
New York Mets: 4-9
It is quite obvious that they would have to beat the pants off of both the Mets and the Marlins, whom they will meet for a total of 14 games during the last two months of the season, for the Phillies to gain complete control of the division. They also have 15 games left with the Nationals and the Braves.
National League Central:
Cincinnati Reds: 5-3
Houston Astros: 4-3
St. Louis Cardinals: 3-3
Chicago Cubs: 2-1
Pittsburgh Pirates: 2-1
Milwaukee Brewers: 1-1
The Phillies have one more series each with the Cardinals (this weekend), the Cubs, the Pirates and the Brewers for a total of 14 games, which may be important towards the home stretch, especially the four games series against the Cubs in Chicago at the end of the month and the four games series with the Brew Crew at home in mid-September as part of a seven games home stand.
National League West:
Colorado Rockies: 5-0
Arizona Diamonbacks: 4-3
San Francisco Giants: 3-3
San Diego Padres: 2-1
Los Angeles Dodgers: 0-0
Against the West, the Phillies have only three series left, a three games series with the Padres and two four games sets with the Dodgers, that may become important games for both teams in their divisional pennant races later on this month, for a total of 11 games. With the addition of Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers via a deadline trade, the Phillies will probably be trying real hard to get at least a split with the Dodgers.
Last, and certainly not least, the Phillies did not do very well this year in Interleague play. Lets face it, they stank, as they went 2-4 against two teams in the American League East, and 2-7 against three teams from the American League West, while going 1-5 against two of the elite teams in the American League (Boston and Los Angeles Angels):
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: 0-3
Toronto Blue Jays: 1-2
Boston Red Sox: 1-2
Oakland Athletics: 1-2
Texas Rangers: 1-2
With their record against American League teams in Interleague play, it means that this team, if it makes it to the playoffs and is able to get into the World Series, will have a problem defeating an American League ballclub, unless they are able to get some more pitching to help bolster the bullpen, or another strong bat either among the regulars or on the bench. Of course, that’s just my opinion. I have no idea what the cheapo owners of this team thinks on extra help.
The Phillies overall record of 59-49 is the fourth best in the National League. The Phillies will probably need to win their division to get into the playoffs, since the Cardinals and Brewers have better records than they do as they presently lead the way in the Wild Card race. The best way for the Phillies to win their division is to start winning series with the Mets and the Marlins, especially against the Mets, whom they have five more games left to play, while they have nine more games to play with the fish, starting this coming Tuesday at home. If they can take care of business with those two teams, especially during the September stretch run, the only real team they will have left to worry about afterwards is the Nationals, since the Nationals will at that point be trying to play the spolier role, especially since they will be playing the Phillies in Philadelphia during the last weekend of the season. Keep your fingers crossed people, it’s going to be a real bumpy last two months of the season.
The Phillies (54-46) will continue their three games series with the Mets (53-47) tonight at Shea Stadium. The game will begin at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies will be sending to the mound Brett Myers (3-9, 5.84), who is coming back from a month-long minor league stint to recover both his fast ball and his confidence. His last start was back on June 27, involved in a no-decision against the Rangers, where he would only pitch two innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits, in the Phillies’ 8-7 lost. The Phillies will be hoping that his stint in the minor league has actually brought back both his fast ball and his confidence. The Mets will be countering with John Maine (8-7, 4.22), who is coming off a lost to the Reds on July 18, as he would go four and two-thirds innings, giving up five earned runs on five hits, in the Mets’ 5-2 lost. He will be going for his ninth win of the year while trying to help the Mets forget about the previous night’s shocking lost.
The Phillies will be going for a series win tonight, trying to build momentum from last night’s surprising come from behind while also trying to win their second straight games in a series. Although it is only July, this series could be end up being the turning point of the entire season, especially with the way they game back to win against a Mets’ bullpen that did not have the services of the team closer Billy Wagner, who presently have shoulders problem. Although listed as day-to-day, he claimed that he be willing to pitch if needed. Well, the Mets certainly needed him last night to help stop the Phillies’ late eruption. The fact that he did not appear last night makes me curious as to how bad his shoulder actually is, in spite of the MRI that was taken of his shoulder turning negative. Guess we’ll all find out if he will be able to pitch for the Mets tonight if a save opportunity looms.
The Phillies have a one game lead over both the second place Mets and Marlins, while their lead over the Braves is now at seven. The Marlins and the Braves will conclude their three games series in Miami, before the Marlins go on to start a four games series with the National League best Chicago Cubs (Can you say posiible fish food for bears? :)) and the Braves have a day off before they come to Philadelphia to start a three games weekend series with the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Phillies will be looking to increase their lead against the Mets during the rest of the series, and stay in first place, before seeing if they can bury the Braves real deep in fourth place in the NL East this upcoming weekend.
The Phillies rally to score six runs in the top of the ninth inning off of a Billy Wagner-less Mets’ bullpen while new Phil Joe Blanton is unable to contain the Mets in his first start as a Phil as the Phillies defeat the Mets, 8-6. The Phillies would take a quick lead in the first as Jayson Werth would hit a two out RBI single off of Mets’ starter Johan Santana, scoring Pat Burrell, who has earlier singled, to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead. That would remain the score until the bottom of the third when Phillies’ starter Blanton would give up a RBI double to David Wright, knocking in Jose Reyes, who has earlier walked, to tie the game at one all. But Endy Chavez, who has singled earlier, would try to score on the play, but is instead thrown out at home plate, Burrell to Jimmy Rollins to Carlos Ruiz, who would put the tag on Chavez for the first out of the inning. Two batters later, with Wright still on second base, and with two outs, Carlos Delgado would hit his nineteenth home run of the year, a two-run shot that would give the Mets a 3-1 lead. In between the third and fourth innings, Charlie Manuel would be ejected from the game for arguing balls and strikes with the third base umpire as the Phillies believed that Delgado had struck out on an 0-2 pitch while the umpire claimed that he had checked his swing. The Mets would increase their lead in the sixth, when, with a runner on first, Marlon Anderson, via a walk, and with two outs, Ramon Castro would hit his fifth home run of the year, giving the Mets a 5-1 lead. In the meantime, Santana would keep the Phillies off the scoreboard, until the seventh, when Shane Victorino would hit his sixth home run of the year, a solo shot, that would cut the Mets’ lead to 5-2. The Mets would try to break the game wide open in their half of the seventh as Rudy Seanez replaces Blanton on the mound. Seanez would give up a lead-off double to Chavez. Chavez would then attempt to score on a single to right by Wright. But, for the second time in the game, he would be thrown out at the plate, this time from Werth to Coste, who tagged him out for the first out of the inning. On the throw home, Wright would move to second. Seanez would then intentionally walk Carlos Beltran, putting runners on first and second. The Phillies would then replace Seanez with J.C. Romero. Romero would get Delgado to fly out to center for the second out. But he would then hit Damion Easley to load the bases. Romero would then get out of the inning as he would get pinch hitter Fernando Tatis to line out to Chase Utley. In the ninth inning, the Mets would replace Santana with Duaner Sanchez, thinking that the game was over. The Phillies would soon make them think otherwise. Werth would greet Sanchez with a single. Pinch hitter Greg Dobbs would follow with a single, sending Werth to second. Victorino would follow with a single, loading the bases. The Mets would then replace Sanchez with Joe Smith, as they hope that Ruiz would hit into a rally-killing double play. Ruiz would hit a ground ball to shortstop Reyes, but Reyes would somehow miss the second base bag as a hostling Victornio would reach second on the fielder’s choice ground ball. The bases thus remain loaded as Werth scores to make it a 5-3 game. The Phils would then send out Geoff Jenkins as a pinch hitter, but he would never reach the plate as the Mets would replace Smith with Pedro Feliciano, while the Phillies would counter with So Taguchi, who was so far 0-for-16 as a pinch hitter. Taguchi would this time connect as he would hit a two-run double, scoring both Dobbs and Victorino and sending Ruiz to third, as the game was now tied at five all. Rollins would then follow with a two-run double of his own, scoring both Ruiz and Taguchi, to give the Phillies a 7-5 Phillies. Utley would then ground out to first for the first out of the inning, moving Rollins over to third. Burrell is then intentionally walked, putting runners on the corners, and setting up the double play. Ryan Howard would hit a ground ball straight to Feliciano, who would then drop the ball, before picking it up and throwing out Howard, as Rollins scores to make it 8-5 Phillies, while Burrell would go to second. Aaron Heilman is then sent into the game to replace Feliciano. Heilman would walk Werth, the man who has started the inning off, putting runners on first and second, with two outs. Heliman would then get Dobbs to pop up to Reyes to end the inning. In the bottom of the ninth, the Phillies would send out their closer Brad Lidge to end the game. He starts the inning off by walking Chavez. Chavez would then go to second on defensive indifference. Lidge would then strike out Wright for the inning’s first out. Chavez would then go to third on a Lidge’s wild pitch before finally scoring on a ground out to first by Beltran, for the second out, making the score 8-6 Phillies. That would be the final score as Lidge would get Delgado to ground out, third to first for the final out, as he records his twenty-second straight save, tying the team’s record for most consecutive saves in a row set a few years earlier by Billy Wagner.
Joe Blanton would get a no-decision, as he pitches six innings in his first start as a Phil, giving up five earned runs on eight hits. Rudy Seanez would pitch a third of an inning, giving up no runs on two hits. J.C. Romero would pitch two thirds of an inning, giving up no runs on no hits. Chad Durbin would get the victory as he goes an inning, giving up no runs on no hits. His record is now 3-2 with an ERA of 1.78. Brad Lidge would record his twenty-second save, as he goes an inning, giving up an earned run on no hits. Johan Santana would also get a no-decision, going eight innings, giving up only two runs on eight scattered hits. The Mets bullpen would then take over and implode as the team’s closer, Billy Wagner, would be unavailable to pitch. Duaner Sanchez would face three batters, giving up three earned runs on three hits. Joe Smith would take the loss as he face only one batter, giving up an earned run on no hits. His record is now 1-2 with a 3.12 ERA. Pedro Feliciano would get his second blown save, as he goes two-thirds of an inning, giving up two earned runs on two hits. Aaron Heilman would pitch a third of an inning, giving up no runs on no hits.
The Phillies have won the game by doing something that they haven’t been able to do too much of since May, come back from behind in the ninth inning to win a game while trailing by several runs. Of course, they did it after the Mets have taken out their starter, Johan Santana, who for the third time this season has pitched a quality start against the Phillies. The Phillies would be able to produce a rally in the ninth inning, because of the use of small ball, hustling on the part of Shane Victorino on Carlos Ruiz’s ground ball, luck (Jose Reyes missing second base on Ruiz’s grounder, and Pedro Feliciano’s bobbling of Howard’s ground ball to him with the chance for an inning ending double play), some situational hitting by Chase Utley to move Jimmy Rollins over to third, and, lastly, So Taguchi finally getting a pinch hit when the Phillies needed it the most. Whether this will be the turning point of the season, or just a temporary blip on the radar screen will be found out during the next two games of the series.
The Phillies (54-46) will continue their three games series with the Mets (53-47) tomorrow night at Shea Stadium. The game will begin at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies starter will be Brett Myers (3-9, 5.84), who is coming back from a minor league stint to recover both his fast ball and his confidence. His last start was back on June 27 in a no-decision against the Rangers, where he would only pitch two innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits, in the Phillies’ 8-7 lost. The Phillies will be hoping that his stint in the minor league has actually brought back both his fast ball and his confidence. The Mets will send to the mound John Maine (8-7, 4.22), who is coming off a lost to the Reds on July 18, as he goes four and two-thirds innings, giving up five earned runs on five hits, in the Mets’ 5-2 lost. He will be going for his ninth win of the year while trying to help the Mets get over their previous night’s lost.
The Phillies, with their win, have regain sole control of first place, while they now lead both the Mets and the Marlins by one game and the Braves by seven, thanks to the Braves’ lost to the fish last night. The Phillies will now try to build momentum from their come from behind win as they attempt for either a series sweep or a series win before heading back home to meet the Braves at Citizens Bank Park for a three games weekend series.
The Phillies defeated the Mets in the ninth on a Shane Victorino’s single, with two men outs and a runner on second, winning the ballgame, 3-2. The first four innings of the ballgame would involve a pitchers’ duel between Phils’ starter J.A. Happ and Mets’ starter Johan Santana, as both would refuse to allow any of the other team’s batters to get on base. This would change in the top of the fifth. Damion Easley would begin the inning with a single to left. Ramon Castro would then follow with a ground rule double, putting runners on second and third. Chris Aguila would then load the bases with a walk, after Happ had gotten ahead of him, 0-2. Santana would then strike out for the inning’s first out. Jose Reyes would then come up and hit a ground ball to the second baseman Chase Utley, beating the throw to first from the shortstop Jimmy Rollins, as Aguila is thrown out at second, allowing Easley to score and Castro to go to third, and giving the Mets a 1-0 lead. The next batter, Endy Chavez, then walks, reloading the bases as Reyes goes to second. David Wright then gets the walk, after Happ has just missed getting a called third strike, forcing in Castro, and giving the Mets a 2-0 lead. Charlie Manuel would then take out Happ, and replace him with Chad Durbin. Durbin would then end the inning as he strikes out Carlos Beltran. Durbin would stay in the game, and would proceed to strike out five of the six Mets’ batters whom he would face in the next two innings, for a total of six strike outs. Meanwhile, the Phillies would finally score against Santana in the bottom of the sixth. After Chad Durbin starts the inning off by striking out, Jayson Werth would get on base with a single. Utley would follow with a single, sending Werth to second. Rollins would then fly out for the second out. Ryan Howard would then follow with a RBI single to left, scoring Werth and sending Utley to second, as the Phillies cut the Mets’ lead to 2-1. Pat Burrell would then hit a RBI single, also to left, scoring Utley and sending Howard to second, as the Phillies would tie the game at two all. Santana would finally get out of the inning by getting Pedro Feliz to ground out, second to first. The game would stay tied until the bottom of the ninth. After Brad Lidge would get an easy 1-2-3 inning in the top of the ninth, Mets’ reliever, Duaner Sanchez, would strike out the first two men that he would face, Howard and Burrell, both of them swinging. He would then give up a double to Feliz. After getting ahead of the count on Victorino, 1-2, Sanchez would throw a fastball, which Victorino would line to right field for a single, scoring Feliz with the winning run, as the Phillies would win the first game of the four games series, 3-2.
J.A. Happ would get a no-decision as he pitches four and two-thirds innings, pitching well until the fifth inning, giving up only two earned runs on just three hits, striking out three and walking four. Chad Durbin would pitch two and a third innings, giving up no runs on no hits, and striking out six of the seven Mets whom he would face. Ryan Madson would pitch an inning, giving up no runs on one hit. Brad Lidge would get the win as he pitches a 1-2-3 inning. He is now 2-0 with a ERA of 0.77. Johan Santana would also get a no-decision as he pitches eight strong innings, giving up only two earned runs on six hits, while striking out six. Duaner Sanchez would get the lost as he pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up an earned run on two hits.
The Phillies’ offense stay in against Santana, although at time swinging at his pitches, until they were finally able to get to him in the sixth to tie the game. They were able to get only eight hits tonight, all but one of them being singles (1 (2B)), but the Phillies’ pitchers would only allow four hits to Mets’ batters. J.A. Happ would pitch a good game until the fifth, going after the hitters, and getting a large number of pop and fly outs. In the fifth, he probably got a bit high on the excitement when he got into trouble for the first time in the fifth inning, which might explain two of his walks, first to Aguila and then to Chavez, but with Wright, a pitch that should have been called a strike was instead called a ball. One of the Phillies’ broadcasters, commenting on it, believed that he didn’t get the call because he’s a rookie. If that’s the case, it’s a real shame, since it would’ve ended the inning, and with the Mets only scoring one run in the inning. Anyway, during the next two inning, Happ would be seen talking with the veteran Jamie Moyer. Oh oh, looks like someone else is trying to learn at the feet of the veteran. I think the rest of the league might be in trouble if the young bloods continue to listen to the vet. 🙂
The four games series with the Mets will continue tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park. The game will begin at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies (48-39) will send to the mound Jamie Moyer (7-6, 4.13), who is coming off a lost against the Rangers on June 29, where he went five and two-thirds innings, giving up three earned runs on seven hits, while striking out six, in the Phillies’ 5-1 lost. He has lost his last three starts, although pitching well in each game. He will once again be trying for his eighth victory, while seeing if he can increase the present Phillies’ winning streak to five games. The Mets (42-44) will counter with John Maine (8-6, 3.86), who is coming off a lost to the Cardinals on June 30, as he was only able to go four innings, giving up three earned runs on seven hits, in the Mets’ 7-1 lost. He will be trying for his ninth win of the year, while trying to stop the Phillies’ offense.
The Phillies’ victory now put them three games ahead of the Marlins, although the fish are presently leading their game with the Rockies, which is turning into a shootout in Denver. The Mets’ lost put them five and a half games behind the Phillies. The Braves are still trailing the Phillies by seven games as they have won their game with the Astros. The Phillies hope to continue playing good baseball while trying to put some distance between them and the rest of the National League East before the All-Star break.
Edit: The Marlins now trail the Phillies by three and a half games, as they have just lost a shoot out with the Rockies in the bottom of the ninth, as the Rockies have scored two runs to win the game, 18-17. I’m surprised that the Rockies were able to come back after trailing at one point 13-4. I wonder if the Marlins’ players are in shock right now, wondering what have just happened, cause I know that at least one Marlins’ fan is going to be real ticked off the moment he finds out about this.
The Phillies (46-39) will finish their three games visit with the Braves (40-45) tonight, with a chance for a sweep and, surprises of surprises, a winning road trip. The game will be played at Turner Field, with a start time of 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starting pitcher will be their ace, Cole Hamels (8-5, 3.38), who is coming off a good start against the Rangers on June 28, where he went seven innings, giving up four earned runs on six hits, in the Phillies’ 8-6 win. He has already faced the Braves once this season, pitching a four-hit shut out against them on May 15, going all nine innings, in the Phillies’ 5-0 win. He will be shooting for his ninth win of the year and to complete the Phillies’ second straight sweep of the Braves in their own home ballpark, as well as give the Phillies a commanding 8-1 lead in the season series. The Braves will counter with Jair Jurrjens (8-3, 2.94), who will be looking to prevent the sweep. He is coming off a victory against the Blue Jays on June 27, where he would pitch eight innings, giving up no earned runs on three hits, in the Braves’ 4-0 win. In his last four starts, he has won three of them, with a no-decision in the fourth, which was also won by the Braves. In those four starts, he would give up only five earned runs in twenty-seven and two-thirds innings of work, while giving up no earned runs in his last twenty-three and two-thirds innings, while also giving up only twenty-five hits. He will also be shooting for his ninth victory of the year, while seeing if he can stop the Phillies’ just reawaken bats and keep the Braves from being swept for the second straight time by the Phillies.
The Phillies’ offense appear to have reawaken after being put to sleep by interleague play against some very good American League teams (and the Rangers). They are once again getting extra-base hits, having gotten nine (4 (2B), 1 (3B), 4 (HR)) of them among their twenty-seven hits. If the offense can continue to hit through their upcoming four games series with the Mets, then they will be tough to beat for the rest of the season. They can right now establish a stranglehood on the division, if their starting pitching can continue to pitch as well as they are right now, in spite of the Brett Myers situation, and the bullpen can stay in its league leading form. The resurgence of the Phillies’ hot bats can only mean trouble for the other teams in a very weak division.
The Phillies are presently leading the Marlins by a game and a half, as they begin a four games series with the Rockies in Denver. Their lead over the Mets is now at four and a half games as they prepare to conclude their four games series with the Cardinals. The Braves are now trailing the Phillies by six games, as they prepare for the last games of their series with the first place Phillies, before getting ready for a three games home stand with the Astros. The Phillies will now be trying to create some breathing space between them and their nearest opponents as they get closer to the All-Star break.
Adam Eaton finally gets his third win of the year as the Phillies defeat the Braves once again in their home ballpark, 7-3. The Phillies would score their first run of the game in the second inning, as Pedro Feliz (ground rule) and Chris Coste would hit back to back doubles to score Feliz and give the Phillies a quick 1-0 lead. The Phillies would try to make 2-0 when Coste would be sent home in an attempt to score on an Eaton single to left. Unfortunately, a strike to home from left fielder Gregor Blanco, and a tag by catcher Brain McCann, would instead end the inning and leave it 1-0 Phillies. The Phillies would add to their lead in the third as Ryan Howard would hit his twenty-first home run of the year, a three-run shot, scoring Jimmy Rollins, who has earlier singled, and Chase Utley, who has walked, to make it 4-0 Phillies. They would increase their lead to 5-0 in the top of the fifth as Pat Burrell would hit a solo home run into left field, his twenty-first home of the year. The Braves would cut the lead down to 5-1 in their half of the fifth when pinch hitter Ruben Gotay would hit his second home run of the season. Then in the bottom of the sixth, the Braves would try to get back into the ballgame, loading the bases with a double by Mark Teixeira, a walk to McCann and a single to Kelly Johnson, with nobody out. That would be it for Adam Eaton, who had pitched a good game up to that point. Charlie Manuel would replace him on the mound with Chad Durbin. This would turn out to be a brilliant move as Durbin would get the first batter that he would face, the badly slumping Jeff Francoeur, to hit into a 6-4-3 twin killing, wiping out Johnson at second, while bringing home Teixeira, making it 5-2 Phillies. Durbin would then end the threat by striking out Mark Kotsay. The Braves would get another run in the eighth inning, as Chipper Jones hits his seventeenth home run of the year, a solo shot to center, making it a 5-3 game. The Phillies would then put the game away in the ninth, as they increased their lead. Eric Bruntlett would starts things off with a walk. After Bobby Cox sends out Royce Ring in place of Blaine Boyer, Rollins would greet him with a RBI triple, scoring Bruntlett, and increasing the Phillies’ lead to 6-3. Two batters later, with Rollins still on third and one out, Utley would knock him in with a single, making it 7-3 Phils. That would turn out to be the ballgame, as Brad Lidge would come in and pitch a scoreless ninth, in spite of the Braves loading up the bases, thanks in part to two fielding errors committed by Howard, as Lidge would end the game by striking out Teixeira.
Adam Eaton would get the win, as he pitch well for six innings plus three batters, giving up only two earned runs on five scattered hits. His record is now 3-6 with a ERA of 4.79. Chad Durbin would pitch two innings, giving up no runs on no hits. J.C. Romero would pitch two-thirds of an innings, giving up an earned run on one hit, Chipper Jones’ home run. Ryan Madson would pitch a scoreless, hittless third of an inning, striking out the only man he’d faced. Brad Lidge would pitch a wild, but scoreless ninth inning, giving up a hit while striking out the side. Jorge Campillo took the loss, as he pitched five innings, giving up five earned runs on eight hits. His record is now 3-3 with a 2.99 ERA. Jeff Bennett would pitch an inning and a third of scoreless ball, giving up just two hits. Will Ohman would pitch two-thirds of an inning of scoreless ball, giving up no hits. Blaine Boyer would pitch an inning plus one batter, giving up an earned run on one hit. Royce Ring would pitch an inning, also giving up an earned run on two hits.
It would appear that the Phillies’ bats have awaken from their interleague play slumber as they got thirteen more hits last night, six of which were for extra bases (3 (2B), 1 (3B), 2 (HR)), something that was missing during the slide. If the bats have indeed come back to life, then this is going to be a long summer, for Phillies’ opponents. Also, Adam Eaton might have turned a corner, as he has finally gotten the runs support that has been missing in most of his previous start. If he has been listening to Jamie Moyer for pitching advice, like the previous night’s starter Kyle Kendrick, then the starting rotation might end up getting better as the season progress. But, even with the win, there is one present cause for concern, Ryan Howard’s fielding, as he single handedly almost got the Braves back into the ballgame because of a pair of fielding miscues, especially on the one that lead to the bases being loaded on a ball that he should’ve let Utley field for the final out. Someone may need to take Howard out and help him get the feel of playing first base before it can really hurt the Phils.
The Phillies (46-39) will conclude their three games visit with the Braves (40-45), with a chance for a sweep and, surprises of surprises, a winning road trip. The game will be played tonight at Turner Field, with a start time of 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be their ace, Cole Hamels (8-5, 3.38), who is coming off a good start against the Rangers on June 28, where he went seven innings, giving up four earned runs on six hits, in the Phillies’ 8-6 win. He has already faced the Braves this season, pitching a four-hit shut out against them on May 15, going all nine innings, in the Phillies’ 5-0 win. He will be shooting for his ninth win of the year and to complete the Phillies’ second sweep of the Braves in their own home ballpark. The Braves will be sending Jair Jurrjens (8-3, 2.94) to the mound to try and prevent the sweep. He is coming off a victory against the Blue Jays on June 27, where he would pitch eight innings, giving up no earned runs on three hits, in the Braves’ 4-0 win. In his last four starts, he has won three of them, with a no-decision in the fourth, which was also won by the Braves. In those games, he would give up only five earned runs in twenty-seven and two-thirds innings of work, while giving up no earned runs in the last twenty-three and two-thirds innings, while also giving up only twenty-five hits. He will also be shooting for his ninth victory, while seeing if he can stop the Phillies’ just reawaken bats and keep the Braves from being swept for the second straight time by the Phillies.
With the victory, the Phillies stay a game and a half ahead of the Marlins, who had earlier in the day beaten the Nationals. The Phils lead the Mets now by four and a half game as they’d lost their game to the Cardinals. The Phillies lead over the Braves is now at six games with their win. The Phillies will now try to leave Atlanta with a sweep of the Braves, before coming home to Citizens Bank Park to start a three teams, ten games in ten days, home stand before the All-Star break, during which they hope to create some breathing room between them and their nearest opponent.