Tagged: Wild Card

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Games 7 and 8: Trying to leave Florida with a series win and regaining first place in the East.

The Phillies (86-68) will continue their final three games series with the third place Marlins (81-72) with two games tonight and tomorrow afternoon. The Phillies’ starter for tonight’s game will be Joe Blanton (7-12 (2-0), 4.82), who will be coming off a no-decision against the Brewers on September 14 in the day half of the day/night doubleheader, as he went seven innings, giving up only three earned runs on five hits, in the Phillies’ 7-3 win. This would be only his third start in which he would go for more than five innings, but it would come at a good time for the Phils. He has faced the Marlins before, recording his second win as a Phil since the trade, as he would defeat them on September 8, going five innings, giving up four earned runs on five hits, in the Phillies’ 8-6 win. He will be going for his second straight long start while trying to improve on his previous start against the fish, while at the same time trying to end the fish’s nine game winning streak. His opponent will be Anibal Sanchez (2-4, 5.87), who is coming off a no-decision against the Nationals on September 14, as he went seven innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits, in the Marlins’ 8-7 win. He has faced the Phillies twice before, losing both starts, as he would go a combine total of only six and two-thirds innings, giving up eight earned runs on ten hits. He will be trying to improve his record while also trying to finally defeat the Phils.

The second game, the Phillies’ final game on the road, will be played Sunday afternoon at Dolphin Stadium, and will begin at 4:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter for this game will be the 45 years old Jamie Moyer (14-7, 3.86), who is coming off a no-decision against the Braves on September 16, as he would only go five and two-thirds innings, giving up six earned runs on six hits, in the Phillies’ 8-7 win.This would only be his second bad start in his last nineteen. Careerwise, he is 10-1 against the fish, losing his last start against them on August 5 as he would only be able to go five innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits, in the Phillies’ 8-2 lost. He will be trying for his eleventh win against the fish, trying to regain his dominace over the young Marlin batters, while going for his fifteenth victory overall. The Marlins will be sending to the mound Chris Volstad (5-3, 3.07), who will be coming off a win against the Astros on September 16 as he went eight innings, giving up only an earned run on four hits, in the Marlins’ 5-1 win. In his last two starts against the Phillies, he is 1-0 with a no-decision, which the Marlins would win, as he would go a combine total of nine innings, giving up only an earned run on five hits. He will be trying to improve his record while also trying to hurt the Phillies’ playoff hopes.

The Phillies’ offense just need to continue what they were doing in their recent seven games winning streak and at the beginning of last night’s game: score runs early, and then later on just keep on scoring, and mainly doing it by being as patient as they can when batting against the other team’s starting pitching. At the same time, the two starters, Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer, will have to go after the Marlins’ young batters, and doing so by throwing them mainly off-speed stuff and only using fastballs when they have the batters confused by the slower stuff, otherwise they are going to find themselves getting pounded by this fastball hitting team and forced to use up the bullpen.

The Phillies trail the Mets by a half game, as they prepare to face the Braves. The Phillies are ahead of the Marlins by four and a half games as they continue their series. In the Wild Card chase, the Phillies are still leading the Brewers by two games, although they are presently trailing the Reds at the moment. They are ahead of both the Marlins and the Astros by four and a half games as the Astros get ready to play the Pirates tonight. The Phillies will be trying to regain the lead in the East while trying to push back the challenge of the now hot Marlins while trying to bury the still slumping Brewers.

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 9: Phillies lose to the Marlins, 14-8. Drops to Second in the East, Lead in the Wild Card by 2 games.

The Phillies seven games winning streak is snapped as they dropped a wild one to the presently hot Marlins, 14-8. With the Mets’ win over the Braves, the Phils are now a half game out of first in the National League East. Their lead in the Wild Card is now two games as the Brewers lose to the Reds.

The Phillies took a quick one run lead in the first as, with two men on, and one out, Ryan Howard would hit a sharp ground ball towards first that Marlins’ first baseman Mike Jacobs would be unable to play, becoming a fielding error, which would allow Chase Utley, who has gotten on base earlier with a walk and then went to second on Jayson Werth’s single, to score all the way from second, giving the Phillies a quick 1-0 lead, and for Werth to go on to third. Werth would then make it a 2-0 Phillies’ lead as he would score on Marlins’ starter Josh Johnson’s wild pitch. The Marlins would then strike back on Phillies’ starter Brett Myers in their half of the first. Cameron Maybin, starting in place of the injured Hanley Ramirez, would start the inning off with an infield single. After Maybin steals second, John Baker would knock him with a RBI single, cutting the Phillies’ lead to 2-1. Jorge Cantu would follow with a single, sending Baker to second. Jacobs would then follow with a two-run double, scoring both Baker and Cantu, giving the Marlins a 3-2 lead. Dan Uggla would then hit a two-run home run, his thirty-first home run of the year, scoring Jacobs, making it 5-2 Marlins. Myers would then get out of the inning by striking out Luis Gonzalez, getting Cody Ross to fly out to left and then getting Alfredo Amezaga to ground out, 4-3. The Phillies would cut the Marlins’ lead in the second as Greg Dobbs would start off the inning by hitting a solo home run, his ninth home run of the year, to make it 5-3 Marlins. Later, with two men on, and one out, Utley would hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Chris Coste, who has earlier singled, went to second on Myers’ sacrifice bunt and then would go the third on Jimmy Rollins’ single, cutting the Marlins’ lead to 5-4. Then in the fifth, the Phillies would retake the lead as Howard would hit a two-run slam to right, his major league leading forty-sixth home run of the year, scoring Utley, who has earlier singled, making it 6-5 Phillies. Myers would try to put down the Marlins in the bottom of the fifth. Sadly, he would be unable to. After getting ahead of Maybin, 0-2, Howard would be unable to make the put out on a foul ball. The next pitch, a fastball, which the announcers thought was the wrong pitch to throw at the kid since he has a hard time with off-speed stuff, like the ball that he’d just pop up, would be hit into right for a single. Maybin would then steal second for his second steal of the night. Baker would then follow with a walk, putting runners on first and second. Cantu would follow him with a RBI double, scoring Maybin to tie the game at 6-6 and sending Baker to third. Myers would then intentionally walk Jacobs to load the bases. The next batter, Uggla, would then single to left, scoring Baker, to give the Marlins a 7-6 lead, while moving both Cantu and Jacobs up a base, as the bases remain loaded. That would be it for Myers as Charlie Manuel would come out of the dugout and replace him with Rudy Seanez. Seanez would get Gonzalez to hit into a force out, cutting down Uggla at second, while allowing Cantu to score, making it 8-6 Marlins, while Jacobs would move up to third. Ross would then pop up to Howard for the inning’s second out. It would seem that the Phillies would get out of the inning with manageable damage, but it was not to be as Amezaga would hit a surprising three-run home run to right, his third home run of the year, scoring both Jacobs and Gonzalez to give the Marlins an 11-6 lead. The inning would finally end when pinch hitter Gaby Sanchez, batting for Johnson, would ground out, 6-3. The Marlins would add to their lead in the sixth as, with runners on second and third, and one man out, Jacobs would hit a two-run single to right, scoring Maybin, who has earlier singled, his fourth hit of the night, moved to second on Baker’s walk and then moved to third on Les Walrond’s wild pitch, and Baker, who has walked and has moved up to second on the wild pitch, making it 13-6 Marlins. But Jacobs would then be thrown out by Werth when he tried to make it a double, being tagged by Rollins for the inning’s second out. The Phillies would get a run back in the seventh as, with two men on and one out, Howard would hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Rollins who has earlier singled, would move to second on Utley’s single and was the lead runner on a double steal with Utley as Werth strke out for the inning’s first out, making it 13-7 Marlins. The Phillies would cut it down further in the eighth as Shane Victronio would hit a lead-off home run, his thirteenth home run of the year, cutting the Marlins’ lead down to 13-8. But the Marlins would get that run back as, with two men out, Cantu would hit a solo home run, his twenty-ninth home run of the year, making it 14-8 Marlins. That would end up being the final score as Joe Nelson would put the Phillies down in the ninth.

Brett Myers would take the lost, being able to go only four innings, plus five batters, as he would give up ten earned runs on nine hits and two walks while strking out only three. His record has now dropped to 10-12, while his ERA went up to 4.46. Rudy Seanez would pitch an inning, giving up an earned run on one hit. Les Walrond would go two innings, giving up two earned runs on three hits, walking a batter while striking out one. Kyle Kendrick, pitching in his first game since his blow up against these same Marlins last week, would pitch an inning, giving up an earned run on one hit. Josh Johnson would get the win, as he pitched five innings, giving up six runs, five of which were earned, on seven hits, as he struck out six. His record is now 6-1 with an ERA of 3.65. Mark Hendrickson would pitch a scoreless inning, giving up no hits. Andrew Miller would pitch an inning, plus one batter, giving up two earned runs on one hit, walking two while striking out one. Logan Kensing would pitch two-thirds of an inning, giving up just one hit. Arthur Rhodes would pitch a third of an inning, giving up no runs or hits. Joe Nelson would pitch a scorless ninth inning, giving up no hits, while walking a batter and striking out the side.

Brett Myers ran into the buzzsaw of the Marlins’ bat, getting hit hard in both the first and fifth inning, as he would give up hits to the first five Marlins’ batters in the first, ending with Dan Uggla’s two-run home run, and then being unable to get anyone out in the fifth, giving up two singles, a double and two walks, one of which was intentional, before being taken out. Myers didn’t seem to have it last night, although he might not have gotten bombed in the fifth if he has thrown off-speed pitches to Cameron Maybin, instead of the fastball that the rookie would hit off of him to right for a single, as the rookie seems to like hitting fastballs and not off-speed stuff. Whether it was Myers’ idea, or catcher Chris Coste’s, to throw it in that 0-2 situation, I have no idea, but it would end up leading into a lot of trouble right after the Phillies have just regained the lead. Sigh. Anyway, the team needs to forget about this game and just get back to doing what they have been doing during their seven games winning streak: scoring early, scoring often and keeping the opposition from doing the same to them. This means that both Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer will have to do their best to make sure that the young Marlins’ bats don’t become their usual pesky selves, if for no other reason than to make Dan Uggla eat his words about the Marlins planning to take other teams with them if they don’t make the playoff. This team need to be kept from becoming the Colorado Rockies of ’08.

The now second place Phillies (86-68) will continue their three games series with the third place Marlins (81-72) with a night game tonight. The Phillies’ starter will be Joe Blanton (7-12 (2-0), 4.82), who is coming off a no-decision against the Brewers on September 14 in the day half of the day/night doubleheader, as he would go seven innings, giving up only three earned runs on five hits, in the Phillies’ 7-3 win. This was only his third start in which he would go more than five innings, but it would come at a good time for the Phils. He has faced the Marlins once before, recording his second win as a Phil since the trade, as he would defeat them on September 8, going five innings, giving up four earned runs on five hits, in the Phillies’ 8-6 win. He will be going for his second straight long start while trying to improve on his previous start against the fish, while trying to snap their nine games winning streak. His opponent will be Anibal Sanchez (2-4, 5.87), who is coming off a no-decision against the Nationals on September 14, as he went seven innings, giving up two earned runs on four hits, in the Marlins’ 8-7 win. He has faced the Phillies twice before, losing both starts, as he would go a combine total of only six and two-thirds innings, giving up eight earned runs on ten hits. He will be trying to improve his record while trying to finally defeat the Phils.

The second place Phils now trail the Mets by a half game, as they defeated the Braves to regain the lead in the East. The Phillies are ahead of the Marlins by four and a half games thanks to the lost. In the Wild Card chase, the Phillies are still leading the Brewers by two games as they lost to the Reds last night. They are ahead of both the Marlins and the Astros by four and a half games as the Astros defeated the Pirates. The Phillies will be trying to regain the lead in the East while trying to push back the challenge of the now hot Marlins while trying to bury the still slumping Brewers.

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 9: Heading to Miami, planning to help finish the Marlins’ dream of reaching the playoffs.

The Phillies (86-67) will played their final road games of 2008 as they get ready to face the third place Marlins (80-72) for three games in Miami. The first game of the series will be played at Dolphin Stadium tonight and will start at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be Brett Myers (10-11, 4.06), who is coming off a complete game win over the sliding Brewers on September 14, as he gave up only one earned run on two hits, in the Phillies’ 6-1 win in the nightcap of a day/night doubleheader. Since coming back from his minor league assignment, Myers has been red hot, going 7-2, with two no-decisions in eleven starts, posting an ERA of 1.80. One of those two losts, sadly, came at the hands of the Marlins on September 10, as he went seven and a third innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits, in the Phillies’ 7-3 lost. The numbers are deceptive, though, as Myers controlled the fish for the first six innings, giving up just three runs in those innings, but getting little, if any, runs support from the Phillies’ bat, especially after they had tied up the game in the fifth. Myers will be looking to even his overall season record and for his eighth win since his return, while hoping that the Phillies will this time give him some very early runs support against the fish. The Marlins will counter with Josh Johnson (5-1, 3.30), who is coming off a win against the Nationals on September 13, as he went six innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits, in the Marlins’ 4-2 win. In his previous start against the Phillies on August 5 he picked up a win as he went six innings, giving up no runs on five hits, in the Marlins’ 8-2 win. He will be trying to extend the Marlins’ eight games winning streak while hoping to snap the Phillies’ seven games winning streak.

The keys to the game will be for the Phillies’ offense to stay hot and give Brett Myers an early lead which he can work with. Although the Braves would cool the bats off in the final game of the three games series in Atlanta, the fact that Pat Burrell has hit the ball hard in his last three at bats, leading to a home run and a single, might mean that he is finally ready to break out of his slump. If so, it couldn’t happen at a nicer time, as the Phillies’ offense really need to take the pesky Marlins out of the game real early so that they won’t be able to do anything late. Myers’ key to winning will be to just keep doing what he’d been doing against the rest of the National League since his return from Lehigh Valley, while keeping the Marlins’ young bats quiet so that they won’t be given the chance to become a spolier against the Philles. If anything else, the Phillies need to show their host how much they enjoy them being around for most of the season by ending their dreams of a playoff spot right now.

The Phillies are a half game ahead of the Mets, as the Mets prepare to meet the Braves for a three games series. They are five and a half games ahead of the Marlins, who will be hosting the Phils for three games, starting tonight. In the Wild Card chase, the Mets lead the Brewers by a game and a half as the Brewers face the Reds in Cincinnati for three games. The Mets now lead both the Marlins and the Astros by five games, as the fish host the Phillies while the Astros will play the Pirates for three games. The Phillies will be looking to continue their winning streak and to increase their lead in the Eastern Division while trying to end the Marlins’ pennant hopes in both the division and the wild card.

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 10: Pat Burrell’s two-run blast leads to the third series sweep of the Braves at Turner Field.

A two-run blast by Pat Burrell would be the difference as the Phillies sweep the Braves for the third time at Turner Field, the first time that this has happened to the Braves since the Cubs did it to them in 1909 when they were known as the Boston Doves. The win keep the Phils a half game in front of the Mets in the East as the Mets crushed the Nationals last night. The Phillies would take the lead in the first as, with one out and a man on first, Jayson Werth would hit a RBI double, scoring Chase Utley, who has earlier singled, to give the Phils a quick 1-0 lead. Werth would then go to third base on Braves’ center fielder Josh Anderson’s fielding error. Ryan Howard would then bring Werth home with a sacrifice fly, giving the Phillies a 2-0 lead. The Braves would get a run back in their half of the first as, with a runner on first and two outs, Brian McCann would hit a RBI double of his own, scoring Chipper Jones, who has earlier walked, to make it a 2-1 Phillies’ lead. The Braves would then tie it in the second as Casey Kotchman would hit a lead-off home run, his thirteenth home run of the year. The game would then become a pitchers’ duel between Braves’ starter Mike Hampton and Phillies’ starter Cole Hamels, with neither pitcher bending, especially Hamels as the Braves would have man on base during all six innings that he would eventually pitch. The Phillies would take the lead for good in the sixth, as, with a runner on first and one out, Pat Burrell would hit a two-run blast into the left field seats, his thirty-second home run of the year, and his 250th of his career as a Phil, third on the team’s all-time list, knocking in Howard, who was safe on a force out, giving the Phillies a 4-2 lead. The Braves would get one run back in a very wierd seventh inning. After Ryan Madson, who was pitching in relief of Hamels, has struck out the first two Braves’ batters on six pitches, Kelly Johnson would reach base on a grounder to Howard that was originally called an error as the ball would be deflected by Howard, since Howard should’ve been able to make the play, except that he might have gotten distracted by Johnson’s bat as it got broken by Madson’s 0-2 sinker and part of it flew in his direction, but would later be called a single by the scorer. Jones would then walk, putting Johnson on second. McCann would then hit a fly ball to left, which should’ve been handled by Burrell, but he would be called off by Jimmy Rollins who would end up dropping the ball for an error, allowing Johnson to score, making it 4-3 Phillies, and for Jones to move up to third while McCann was safe at first. After McCann is replaced at first by pinch runner Brent Lillibridge, Lillibridge would go to second on Madson’s wild pitch, putting the go ahead run in scoring position. But that would be as far as the Braves would get as Madson would get Omar Infante to pop out to third for the inning’s third out. The Phillies would fail to add an insurance run in both the eighth and ninth innings, while J.C. Romero would keep the Braves from doing any damage in the bottom of the eighth. In the bottom of the ninth, Brad Lidge would be given the ball, and unlike Tuesday’s night wild ninth, he would put down the Braves 1-2-3 for his thirty-eighth save of the year in thirty-eight tries.

Cole Hamels would get the win as he would go six innings, giving up only two earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out five. His record is now 14-9 with an ERA of 3.10. Ryan Madson would pitch an inning, giving up an unearned run on one hit and a walk, while striking out two. J.C. Romero would pitch a scoreless inning, giving up just one hit. Brad Lidge would get his thirty-eighth save of the year as he pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning, striking out two. Mike Hampton would take the lost as he goes seven innings, giving up four runs, only two of which were earned, on six hits. His record is now 2-3 with a 5.05 ERA. Julian Tavarez and Jeff Bennett would each pitch a scoreless inning, giving up just one hit (Tavarez) and walking a man each.

Although the Phillies’ bat weren’t as damaging as they were in the first two games, they were able to outscore the Braves as they accomplish something that has not been done to the Braves for 99 years, since the Cubs beat them in eleven home games when they were known as the Boston Doves in 1909: sweep the Braves in their home ball park in three straight home series. Also, this is the first time since 1943, when the Braves were still playing in Boston, that the Braves have lost nine home games to another franchise. This was mainly because the Phillies’ pitchers were able to keep the Braves from being able to score after getting a runner on base, since they had at least one man get on base in the first eight innings before Lidge would come in and get a 1-2-3 inning on thirteen pitches. The offensive star of the night was Pat Burrell as he was the only man in the line up to get two hits, as he went 2 for 3 with a single and a home run, his 250th as a Phil, putting him in third place on the team’s all time list and 9 home runs behind Del Ennis. The rest of the starters would get at least a hit, except for Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, who would both take the collar, although they both would reach base with a walk, while Howard would knock in a run with a sacrifice fly. The presently hot Phillies will need to stay hot, taking their seven games winning streak as they face an equally hot Marlins team who have won their last eight games, as they see their pennant hopes slowly slipping away.

The Phillies (86-67) will played their last three games set on the road as they face the third place Marlins (80-72). The first game of the series will be played at Dolphin Stadium and will start at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be Brett Myers (10-11, 4.06), who is coming off a complete game victory against the Brewers on September 14, as he gave up an earned run on two hits, in the Phillies’ 6-1 win in the nightcap of a day/night doubleheader. Since coming back from his minor league assignment, Myers has been red hot, going 7-2 and two no-decisions in eleven starts, with an ERA of 1.80. One of those two losts, sadly, came at the hands of the Marlins on September 10, as he went seven and a third innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits, in the Phillies’ 7-3 lost. The numbers are deceptive, though, as Myers controlled the fish for the first six innings, giving up just three runs in those innings, but getting almost no support from the Phillies’ bat, especially after they had tied the game in the fifth. Myers will be looking to even his overall record and for his eighth win since his return, while hoping that the Phillies will this time give him some runs support against the fish. The Marlins will counter with Josh Johnson (5-1, 3.30), who is coming off a win against the Nationals on September 13, as he went six innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits, in the Marlins’ 4-2 win. In his previous start against the Phillies on August 5 he picked up a win as he went six innings, giving up no runs on five hits, in the Marlins’ 8-2 win. He will be trying to extend the Marlins’ eight games winning streak while snapping the Phillies’ seven games winning streak.

The Phillies are still a half game ahead of the Mets, as the Mets, after defeating the Nationals last night, head on to Atlanta for a three games series. They are still five and a half games ahead of the Marlins, who have finished sweeping the Astros and will now host the Phils. In the Wild Card chase, the Mets lead over the Brewers is now a game and a half as the Brewers lost to the Cubs in extra-innings. The Brewers will now face the Reds in Cincinnati for three games. The Mets now lead the hot Marlins and the fading Astros by five games, as the fish host the Phillies while the Astros will play the Pirates for three games. The Phillies will be looking to continue their winning streak and to increase their lead in the Eastern Division while trying to end the Marlins’ pennant hopes in both the division and the wild card.

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 10: Cole Hamel will be going for a sweep in Atlanta.

The Phillies (85-67) will play the final game of their three game road trip with the Braves (67-85) tonight. The game will be played at Turner Field and will start at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be their ace Cole Hamels (13-9, 3.11), who is coming off a good start against the Brewers on September 13, where he pitched six and a third innings, giving up only two earned runs on six hits, in the Phillies’ 7-3 win. In his last start against the Braves on July 26, Hamels would receive a no-decision as he went only three and two-thirds innings, giving up nine runs, only four of which were earned, on six hits, in the Phillies’ dramatic 10-9 come from behind win. In his three starts against the Braves this year, including the disaster of July 26, Hamels’ record against the Braves is 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA. He will be going for his fourteenth win of the year while trying to complete the third sweep of the Braves at their own home park. The Braves’ starter will be Mike Hampton (2-2, 5.34), who is coming off a no-decision against the Mets on September 13, where he went six innings, giving up just two earned runs on six hits, in the Braves’ 3-2 win. His last start against the Phillies was on July 26, where he would also receive a no-decision as he pitched only four innings, giving up six earned runs on eight hits, in the Braves’ 10-9 lost. He will be trying to improve his record while trying to stop the suddenly revised Phillies’ offensive juggernault.

The Phillies’ offense will be trying to give some runs support to Cole Hamels tonight, hoping that Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth will remain hot while at the same time hoping that Pat Burrell will finally break out of his late season slump. Cole Hamels will be trying for his third win over the Braves and his fourteenth victory overall, as well as trying to give the Phillies their third sweep of the Braves at Turner Field, a feat very rarely done. The Phillies will be trying to do just that tonight, to stretch their winning streak to seven wins before they head off to Miami to face the fish for a three games weekend series.

The Phillies are still a half game ahead of the Mets as they prepared to face the Nationals tonight. They are still five and a half games in front of the Marlins, as they plan to play the presently flat Astros. In the Wild Card chase, the Mets are now leading the Brewers by a game as the Brewers have just lost to the Cubs in extra-innings, dropping the Cubs’ magic number down to two. The Astros now trail the Mets by three and a half game as they plan to play the Marlins tonight. The Phillies will be looking to extend their winning streak to seven games as they plan to do something that is always hard to do: Sweep their opponent in their home ball park, for the third time this season. If this happens, if should serve notice that the Braves’ reign as a divisional leader is over. GO PHILLIES!!!!

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 11: Happ-ily staying in first place as the Phils defeat Atlanta behind Happ’s six innings of shut out pitching.

Phillies’ starter rookie J.A. Happ records his first major league victory as he shuts down Atlanta for six innings as the Phillies defeated the Braves, 6-1. The victory keeps them in first place in the East as the Mets finally defeated the Nationals. The Phillies’ bat would take the pressure off of Happ by batting around in the first inning. After Jimmy Rollins would ground out, 3-1, for the first out of the inning, Chase Utley would get on base with a walk. Jayson Werth would follow with a walk, moving Utley to second. Ryan Howard would then hit a RBI single, scoring Utley and sending Werth to second for a quick 1-0 lead. It would become 2-0 as Werth would steal third and then go home on Braves’ catcher’s Brian McCann’s throwing error, while Howard would move up to second on the error. After Pat Burrell flies out to right for the inning’s second out, Shane Victorino would get on base with a single, sending Howard to third, putting runners on the corners. After Victornio steals second, putting two men in scoring position, Pedro Feliz would get on base with a walk, loading the bases. Carlos Ruiz would then follow with a two-run single, scoring both Howard and Victorino, giving the Phillies a 4-0 lead, and sending Feliz to second. Braves’ starter Jair Jurrjens would finally end the inning by striking out Happ. With the four run cushion, Happ would go to work against the Braves, giving them very few base runners in the early innings. The Braves would put up a threat in the fifth, as Casey Kotchman would lead off the inning with a double, the Braves’ first extra-base hit, and the first Brave to get into scoring position. But Happ would then get out the next two batters via fly outs, Jeff Francoeur to left and Josh Anderson to center. The next batter, pinch hitter Yunel Escobar would then get on base with a walk, putting two men on. After Escobar is replaced by pinch runner Brandon Jones, Happ would end the inning by getting Martin Prado to ground out, 6-3. Happ would stay in for one more inning, putting the Braves down easily in the sixth, before handing the ball over to the bullpen. The Phillies would finally add a run in the eighth, as, with runners on first and third and one out, Feliz would hit a ground ball to Braves’ second baseman Kelly Johnson. Instead of throwing to second to start an inning ending double play, Johnson would throw to first to get out Feliz for the second out of the inning, allowing Eric Bruntlett, who was pinch running for Burrell, who has earlier reached base with a single, and then would move to third on Victorino’s single, to score, making it 5-0 Phillies, while sending Victorino to second. The Phils would tack on one more run in the ninth as pinch hitter Matt Stairs would hit a pinch hit home run, his twelfth home run of the year and his first as a Phil, to give the Phils a 6-0 lead. In the bottom half of the ninth, the Braves would finally score a run as, with a runner on second and two out, Greg Norton would get a RBI single, scoring Francoeur, who has earlier singled and has moved to second on defensive indifference, making it a 6-1 Phillies’ lead. But Clay Condrey would end the game by getting Gregor Blanco to fly out for the game’s final out.

J.A. Happ would get the win, the first in his major league career, as he pitches six shut out innings, giving up only three hits and one walk, while striking out two. His record is now 1-0 with an ERA of 4.24. Chad Durbin would pitch an inning and two-thirds of relief, giving up two hits and a walk. J.C. Romero would pitch a third of an inning, giving up no runs or hits. Clay Condrey would pitch an inning, giving up an earned run on two hits. Jair Jurrjens would get the lost, as he would go five innings, giving up four earned runs, all in the first, on five hits and five walks. His record is now 13-10 with an ERA of 3.72. Vladimir Nunez would pitch two and a third innings, giving up an earned run on three hits. Blaine Boyer would pitch one and two-thirds innings, giving up an earned run on two hits.

The Phillies’ offense, although it got ten hits, would not deliver the knock out blow to Braves’ starter Jair Jurrjens after he has escaped the first inning, wtihin which he threw over 40 pitches and gave up all four runs that he would give up that night, as he walked three batters along with three singles. Jurrjens would then calm down enough to get through five innings. But, it wouldn’t matter as the four run cushion would help to relax J.A. Happ enough to allow him to go six innings, with the fifth being the only inning that the Braves would actually make a threat and come away with nothing for their efforts, as he went after the Braves’ hitters. The offense would later add two insurance runs in the late innings to guarantee the win. The victory put the Phillies eighteen games over .500 as the team rides a six games winning streak, their highest this season, while they won their eighth straight game at Turner Field.

The Phillies (85-67) will play the last game of their three game road trip with the Braves (67-85) tonight. The game will be played at Turner Field and will start at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be their ace Cole Hamels (13-9, 3.11), who is coming off a good start against the Brewers on September 13, where he’d pitched six and a third innings of good ball, giving up only two earned runs on six hits, in the Phillies’ 7-3 win. In his last start against the Braves on July 26, Hamels would receive a no-decision as he went only three and two-thirds innings, giving up nine runs, only four of which were earned, on six hits, in the Phillies’ dramatic 10-9 come from behind win. In three starts this year, including the disaster of July 26, Hamels’ record against the Braves is 2-0 with a 2.11 ERA. He will be going for his fourteenth win of the year while trying to complete the third sweep of the Braves at their own home park. The Braves will counter with Mike Hampton (2-2, 5.34), who is coming off a no-decision against the Mets on September 13, as he would go six innings, giving up just two earned runs on six hits, in the Braves’ 3-2 win. His last start against the Phillies was on July 26, where he would also receive a no-decision as he pitched only four innings, giving up six earned runs on eight hits, in the Braves’ 10-9 lost. He will be trying to improve his record while trying to stop the suddenly revised Phillies’ offensive juggernault.

The Phillies are still a half game ahead of the Mets as they defeated the Nationals last night. They are still five and a half games in front of the Marlins, as they defeated the Astros once again. In the Wild Card chase, the Mets still have a half game lead over the Brewers as they defeated the Cubs, for the moment putting on hold the Cubs’ clinching party. The Astros now trail the Mets by three and a half game after their lost to the Marlins. The Phillies will be looking to extend their winning streak to seven games as they plan to do something that is always hard to do: Sweep their opponent in their home ball park, for the third time this season. If this happens, if would serve notice that the Braves’ reign as a divisional leader is over. GO PHILLIES!!!!

Final Countdown to the Playoffs: Game 11: Sending rookie J.A. Happ to the mound to help keep the Phillies in first place in the Eastern Division.

The first place Phillies (84-67) will play the second of three games against the fourth place Braves (67-84) tonight. The game will be played at Turner Field and will start at 7:10 pm Eastern. The Phillies starter will be rookie J.A. Happ (0-0, 5.71), who will be making his third start for the Phillies, still looking for his first major league win. His last appearance was in relief against the Marlins on September 9, when he would pitch three and a third innings in relief of Kyle Kendrick, giving up three earned runs on five hits, in the Phillies’ 10-8 lost. His last start was a no-decision on July 9 against the Cardinals, where he went six and a third innings, giving up two earned runs on five hits, in the Phillies’ 4-2 win. The Phillies have won both of his starts, although he would receive no-decisions in both games. He will be trying for his first win while trying to keep the Phils in first place as he face the Braves for the first time in his short major league career, hoping that this will be to his advantage. The Braves’ starter will be Jair Jurrjens (13-9, 3.62), who is coming off a win against the Rockies on September 11, where he went six innings, giving up four earned runs on eight hits, in the Braves’ 8-4 win. He has faced the Phillies two previous times this year, winning his last meeting against them on July 25, as he went eight innings, giving up no runs on just three hits, in the Braves’ 8-2 win. His record this year against the Phillies is 1-1. He will be trying to improve his record while trying to put an end to the Phillies’ seven games winning streak at Turner Field.

The Phillies will be sending out J.A. Happ, in place of the slumping Kyle Kendrick, who has lately been pitching rather ineffectively. In his last ten starts, he has gone 3-6 with a no-decision, sporting a 7.63 ERA, as he pitched a combined total of only forty-six innings, giving up thirty-nine earned runs on sixty-eight hits, walking twenty-five batters while striking out only twenty. Kendrick’s major problem appears to be that he is not going after hitters, like he once did, making them hit ground balls towards his fielders for outs, and concentrating on only two pitches. Frankly, that is a receipe for trouble and the opposition has caught up with him because of it. Kendrick, if the Phillies want him to help them out next year, will need to put him to work during the winter months to work on regaining his confidence, going after hitters and developing another pitch to go along with the ones that he have now, while also making himself less reliant on the two pitches that the batters are now waiting on. Meanwhile, the red hot offense needs to remain hot, hopefully scoring several runs off of Jurrjens, like they did during his first start against them, so that Happ won’t have to worry too much while he is on the mound. Speaking about the offense, Pat Burrell continues to struggles at the plate, as he went 0 for five last night, all five of them being strike outs. The best thing that Charlie Manuel may need to do for Burrell is to rest him for a day or two and allow him to find out for himself why he is suddenly unable to hit the pitches that he was hitting without any problems before last month. But, with Burrell presently cold, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino are all smoking hot, with Howard especially being a danger to National League pitching, which should be more than able to compensate for Burrell’s coldness.

The Phillies now lead the East by a half game ahead of the Mets as they prepare to play against the Nationals. They are five and a half games ahead of the Marlins as they continue their series with the Astros. In the Wild Card race, the Mets are now a half game in front of the freefalling Brewers who continue their series with the soon to be National League Central Division Champion Cubs, whose magic number is now four. With eleven games left in the season, the Phillies are planning to extend not only their present winning streak to six games, but also their winning streak at Turner Field, their present home away from home, to eight games, while also hoping to extend their lead over the Mets in the East, with a little help from the Nationals.