The Fightins'

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Aug
13
2010
Posted by at 3:51 pm ET 87 Comments

First, it was Matt Stairs and his moonshot into the Los Angeles night in the 2008 NLCS.

Then came Jimmy Rollins, whose two-out, two-RBI double in Game Four of the 2009 NLCS was the nail in the coffin for the Dodgers’ season.

And in 2010, it was Carlos Ruiz.

Chooch belted a two-run double in the bottom of the ninth inning off Broxton to cap a miraculous come-from-behind victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, who led 9-2 heading into the bottom of the eighth inning.

The Dodgers were in the driver’s seat from the first inning, when they scored three runs of Joe Blanton, and held the lead throughout, scoring six additional runs between the fifth and the eighth to all but clinch the first series against the Phillies at home since the beginning of July.

It was in the bottom of the eighth that the Phils began to climb out of their seven run deficit, when Placido Polanco and Mike Sweeney led off the inning with a pair of singles. They moved up a base on a wild pitch from Ronald Belisario, and came around to score on a single from Jayson Werth, who came around to score on a double from Ben Francisco. He would then score  on an RBI single from Wilson Valdez, making it 9-6.

After Danys Baez pitched a scoreless top of the ninth, the Phils went to work on Jonathan Broxton, who hit Polanco, walked Sweeney after a lengthy at-bat, and then walked Jayson Werth on five pitches.

Ben Francisco, representing the winning run, hit a textbook double play ball to third baseman Casey Blake, who let it go right between his legs and into left field, allowing two runs to score with the tying run 180 feet away.

That brought Carlos Ruiz to the dish, and he absolutely crushed a hanging slider, sending it off the wall in left-center, easily scoring both Werth and Francisco to cap the rally for the Phillies.

Without question, this has been the best win of the comeback variety for the Phillies in the 2010 season, edging out the six-run ninth against the Cincinnati Reds only because the Phillies are so close to the top of the division.

Although every member of the offense could get credit for making this happen, the turning point came in the bottom of the ninth, when Mike Sweeney worked a lengthy at-bat against Broxton before eventually working the walk to set up the rest of the inning.

Naturally, the hero is Chooch, who has been brilliant as of late, but Sweeney, a player who is highly regarded by former teammates, lived up to his reputation and had one of the more remarkable, if not memorable, at-bats of the season.

The Phillies take their winning ways on the road with a three game set in New York against the Mets, with Cole Hamels (7-8, 3.45) taking the hill on Friday against R.A. Dickey (7-5, 2.65).

Joe Blanton (ND) allowed four runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings. He walked four and struck out three.

Placido Polanco went 2 for 4 with two runs.

Mike Sweeney went 2 for 4 with two runs.

Jayson Werth went 2 for 4 with three runs and two RBIs.

Ben Francisco went 1 for 5 with a double (11), two runs, and two RBIs.

Carlos Ruiz went 3 for 5 with a double (19) and three RBIs.

Danys Baez (W, 3-3) allowed one hit and no runs in one inning.

Clayton Kershaw (ND) allowed two runs on six hits in 6.2 innings. He walked two and struck out four.

Scott Posednik went 2 for 5 with two runs.

Ronnie Belliard went 1 for 3 with a run and two RBIs.

Matt Kemp went 3 for 5 with a homer (19) and four RBIs.

Jamey Carroll went 2 for 4 with two RBIs.

Jonathan Broxton (BS, 5; L, 4-4) allowed four runs  (three earned) on one hit. He walked two and did not record an out.

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Aug
12
2010
Posted by at 11:31 pm ET 65 Comments

At this point, we can be pretty sure that Jonathan Broxton checks for Philadelphia Phillies under his bed.

Photo courtesy of the always entertaining @philliesdoll.

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Aug
11
2010
Posted by at 10:44 pm ET 162 Comments

Following the offensive barrage that was the series opener, Roy Oswalt made his first start as a Phillie in Citizens Bank Park a memorable one by shutting down the Los Angeles Dodgers to earn his first win in red pinstripes.

The offense was held in check for most of the game by Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley, with the first run coming on a bases loaded groundout from Domonic Brown in the fourth, followed by an RBI double from Raul Ibanez two innings later.

Oswalt departed after seven innings and turned the ball over to Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge, who allowed one baserunner between the eighth and ninth inning, while striking out two apiece.

With this win, the Phils keep pace with the Atlanta Braves to stay 2.5 games back of the division lead.

The teams face off in the series rubber match on Thursday, when Joe Blanton (4-6, 5.65) takes on Clayon Kershaw (10-7, 3.19).

Roy Oswalt (W, 7-13) pitched seven shutout innings, allowing only five hits and two walks, while striking out five.

Placido Polanco went 1 for 4 with a run.

Raul Ibanez went 2 for 4 with a double (23) and an RBI.

Domonic Brown went 0 for 3 with an RBI.

Brad Lidge (S, 15) struck out two in a perfect ninth inning.

Chad Billingsley (L, 9-7) allowed two runs on fice hits in six innings. He walked and struck out three.

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Aug
11
2010
Posted by at 9:04 am ET 47 Comments

If you’re like most Phillies fans. then you’ve likely buried the memory of last night’s debacle against the Los Angeles Dodgers deep within the recesses of your mind, hoping that you never need to remember such a pitiful display of pitching.

But if you’re like me, then repression is never the answer, and you instead rehash those painful losses, like pouring lemon juice on so many open wounds, which brings us to today’s post of “What was Charlie Thinking?”

Allow me to set the stage for you: It’s the bottom of the ninth inning. There are two outs, two on, and the Phillies are trailing by six. Due to a recent roster moves, the Phillies have only a four-man bench, which has since been depleted by late-inning subs and one double switch earlier in the game.

And with the pitcher’s spot due up, many likely expected to see Chad Durbin, who finished the top of the ninth, step into the box and hit for himself.

But many were likely surprised when none other than Cole Hamels appeared in the box to pinch hit for Durbin. Yes, Cole Hamels, he of a 2.87 ERA over his last 12 starts. The one who is having a rebirth on the mound. The second line of defense behind Harry Leroy Halladay.

It was understandably a confusing sight, as I was trying to wrap my brain around why, with two outs in the ninth and trailing by six, would Charlie send up one of the most valuable non-hitters on the team to pinch it in a game that was, for all intents and purposes, over.

I’m not one to coddle professional athletes, and I get annoyed at pitch counts, but it was irresponsible, short-sighted, and stupid, because so many things could have gone wrong: Cole could have taken a pitch off his left hand, or he could have stepped on first base awkwardly,  or he could have pulled something taking a swing; The list of pitfalls is endless.

Granted, any player can get hurt at any time on any play, and God knows the Phillies have had enough of that type of luck this season, but why bother taking an unnecessary risk like this and let your second best pitcher step into the box, and what’s worse, why let him swing? And why not let Chad Durbin bat for himself?

It’s not as if it was a one run game, either. It was practically a blowout, and Charlie sending up his best hitting pitcher makes about as much sense as Joe Torre making a pitching change with two outs in the ninth while leading by eight.

And I like Charlie, too. His folksy wisdom and reputation as a player’s manager have long trumped his inability to be a great strategist, something that has become more and more apparent this season as the team has struggled.

Maybe Cole’s lifetime average of .146 (compared to Durbin’s .083) was too great to overlook, because even though the deficit was only six runs, perhaps Charlie thought that maybe, just maybe, he could get something going. But really, if he was really wanting to get back into the game, then he wouldn’t have sent out the dynamic duo of David Herndon and Danys Baez when it was still within reach.

But in a season fraught with back luck and too many injuries to too many key players, you’d at least expect Charlie to protect whatever healthy bodies he has left in that dugout.

But then again, this is the same manager who willingly lets J.C. Romero pitch in tight spots. So, yeah.

Aug
10
2010
Posted by at 10:51 pm ET 34 Comments

In what was the worst display of baseballin’ that the fans at Citizens Bank Park have seen in what feels like forever, the Phils were on the receiving end of a pummeling at the hands of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

They went to work on Kyle Kendrick, who has been pitching about as well as anyone as of late, with six runs in three and a third. The relief pitching was anything but, as newly called up Antonio Bastardo, David Herndon, and Danys Baez all failed to keep the Dodgers at bay.

It was an embarrassment of riches for the Phillies, who couldn’t pitch or play defense. The lone bright spots of the game were Ross Gload, who blasted two homers and notched six RBIs, Domonic Brown, who hit his first career homer, and Raul Ibanez, who increased his hitting streak to 17 games with a ninth inning single.

Shake it off, fans. The Phils haven’t looked this bad in quite some time, and hey, it’s better that they get all the suck out of the way in one game, right?

In the second game of the series, Roy Oswalt (6-13. 3.50) makes his Citizens Bank Park debut against Chad Billingsley (9-6, 3.82).

Kyle Kendrick (L, 7-5) allowed six runs (five earned) on eight hits in 3.1 inning. He walked two and struck out one.

Ross Gload went 3 for 4 with two homers (6) and four RBIs.

Domonic Brown went 2 for 4 with a double (2), his first career homer (1) and two RBIs.

Vicente Padilla (W, 6-3) allowed four runs in five innings on six hits. He walked and struck out two.

Andre Ethier went 4 for 4 with a double (26) and three RBIs.

Jay Gibbons went 3 for 4 with a homer (1) and three RBIs.

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Aug
09
2010
Posted by at 8:52 am ET 108 Comments

After getting shut out on Saturday, the Phillies chased Mets’ starter R.A. Dickey after three innings to support a less-than-dominant start from Roy Halladay. They used a five-run third inning that included a three-run bomb from Raul Ibanez to chase Dickey from the game. Jayson Werth also homered, a solo shot in the bottom of the second.

They Mets took an early lead in the first inning, using three hits to put two runs on the board. They were held at bay until the sixth, when they added a run. They added two more in the seventh to make it a 6-5 game.

Ryan Madson pitched a perfect eighth, followed by Brad Lidge, who allowed one hit in the ninth to close it out for the win.

It’s the 14th win in the last 16 games for the Phils, who are still two behind Atlanta for the lead in the N.L. East. They are one-half game behind the San Francisco Giants in the Wild Card.

Following an off-day on Monday, the Phils host the Los Angeles Dodgers for a three game series starting on Tuesday. Kyle Kendrick (7-4, 4.37 ERA) takes on Vicente Padilla (5-3, 3.09 ERA).

Roy Halladay (W, 14-8) allowed five runs on nine hits in seven innings. He walked one and struck out ten.

Jimmy Rollins went 2 for 4 with a double (11) and a run.

Placido Polanco went 1 for 4 with a run.

Ross Gload went 1 for 4 with a run and an RBI.

Raul Ibanez went 1 for 4 with a homer (11) and three RBIs.

Jayson Werth went 3 for 4 with a double (38), a homer (16) and an RBI.

Brad Lidge (S, 14) allowed one hit and no runs in one inning of work.

R.A. Dickey (L, 7-5) allowed six runs (four earned) on eight hits in three innings. He walked one.

Jose Reyes went 2 for 4 with two doubles (23) and two runs.

Angel Pagan went 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI.

Josh Thole went 3 for 4 with a double (2) and a run.

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Aug
07
2010
Posted by at 11:49 pm ET 18 Comments

Cole Hamels and Johan Santana matched zeroes for most of the game, but it was Jeff Francoeur’s seventh inning homer that made the difference, as the Mets gave the Phillies their first loss at home since before the All Star Game.

If there was ever an example of a hard luck loss, then this was it. Hamels, who has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past two months, knows the feeling all too well, as he routinely puts up great outings with little or no run support from his offense.

It was the case tonight, as Hamels was at his most dominant, striking out 11 over seven innings, with the one mistake came on a change up to Francoeur in the seventh that wound up in the seats in right field.

He was matched by Santana, who didn’t allow a hit until the bottom of the sixth inning, and kept the Phillies off the board in his seven and a third.

The Phillies were unable to take advantage of their scoring opportunities, starting with a leadoff double from Jayson Werth in the bottom of the seventh, who was thrown out trying to advance to third on a ground ball from Ben Francisco.

They had more chances in the bottom of the eighth, when Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez led off with back-to-back singles. Placido Polanco failed to advance the runners  on a sacrifice bunt, as Rollins was thrown out at third. After Mike Sweeney lined out off new pitcher Francisco Rodriguez, Jayson Werth walked to load the bases for Ross Gload, who worked a full count before grounding out to second base.

The last few innings were wrought with bad baserunning and questionable managerial calls, but all in all, the Phils were beaten by a pitcher who was slightly better than their own.

With this loss, the Phils drop to two games behind the Atlanta Braves for the division lead. The finish off the series with the Mets on Sunday, when Roy Halladay (13-8, 2.17) takes on R.A. Dickey (7-4, 2.36).

Cole Hamels (L, 7-8) allowed one earned run on six hits in seven innings. He struck out 11 and didn’t walk a batter.

Johan Santana (W, 9-6) allowed no runs on five hits on 7.1 innings. He walked three and struck out six.

Jeff Francoeur went 1 for 4 with a homer (11) and an RBI.

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Aug
06
2010
Posted by at 11:46 pm ET 71 Comments

The Phillies used a five-run eighth inning to rally past the Mets, backing up Joe Blanton’s best start of the season as they take the first of the three game series. It is their fifth straight win, their 13th in their last 15 games, and their 12th straight win at Citizens Bank Park.

After plating one in the first on an RBI double from Placido Polanco, the Phils were poised to deliver a knockout blow to Mets starter Jonathon Niese early, but he got Carlos Ruiz on strikes with the bases loaded to end the threat in the bottom of the first.

It was all they would muster off of Niese, who engaged Joe Blanton in a bit of a pitcher’s duel the rest of the way, as both teams turned it over to the bullpens after seven, with the Mets leading, 2-1.

That is, until Bobby Parnell entered the game and allowed four straight hits to the Phillies, who tied the game on Ben Francisco’s two-strike single, scoring new Phillie Mike Sweeney from third. One batter later, Carlos Ruiz singled, plating Jayson Werth to take the lead.

They poured in on from there, as Ross Gload worked a bases loaded walk to make it a 4-2 game, followed by an RBI single from Jimmy Rollins, a sacrifice fly from Polanco, and an RBI single from Sweeney to cap the scoring at seven.

The Mets would put three on the board in the top of the ninth, when Charlie make the questionable choice to lift Danys Baez for J.C. Romero, who promptly gave up a three run homer to bring the Mets within two. He was lifted for Brad Lidge, who needed five pitches to strike out Jesus Feliciano to close out the game.

The Phils look to keep their home winning streak alive on Saturday, when Cole Hamels (7-7, 3.56) takes the hill against Johan Santana (8-6, 3.20).

Joe Blanton (ND) allowed two runs on seven hits in seven innings. He struck out four.

Jimmy Rollins went 1 for 4 with an RBI.

Raul Ibanez went 1 for 4 with a run.

Placido Polanco went 1 for 4 with a double (21) and two RBIs.

Mike Sweeney went 2 for 5 with a run and an RBI.

Jayson Werth went 2 for 4 with a run.

Ben Francisco went 1 for 2 with a run and an RBI.

Carlos Ruiz went 2 for 4 with a run and an RBI.

Wilson Valdez went 1 for 4 with a run.

Brad Lidge (S, 13) struck out the only batter he faced to earn the save.

Jonathon Niese (ND) allowed one run on four hits in seven innings. He walked five and struck out seven.

Jose Reyes went 1 for 4 with an RBI.

Josh Thole went 1 for 4 with an RBI.

Mike Hessman went 1 for 1 with a homer (1) and three RBIs.

Bobby Parnell (L, 0-1) allowed four runs on four hits without recording an out.

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Aug
05
2010
Posted by at 11:48 pm ET 53 Comments

Roy Oswalt bounced back from his first start as a Phillie to throw 6.1 effective innings as the Phillies won a wild one in extra innings against the Florida Marlins to complete the series sweep. It’s their fourth win in a row as they keep pace with the Atlanta Braves in the N.L. East.

You know, this was a crazy game, so long story short: The Fish scored four in the seventh to take the lead, the Phils scored two in the ninth to tie, a blunder by the umps cost the Fish the game in the bottom half, Carlos Ruiz homered to give the Phils the lead, Brad Lidge closed it out, and we all went to bed happy.

First, the good:

Roy Oswalt, who pitched 6.1 innings and allowed only two runs (both scored after he was pulled), despite dealing with some control issues that saw his pitch count rise early. Once he settled in, he retired 10 straight Marlins between the third and seventh, when Mike Stanton led off the inning with a single.

Carlos Ruiz, who has reverted to his early-season form, went 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles and a game winning home run and drove in three runs on the night. Over his last nine games, Chooch is hitting .439 with three homers and 13 RBIs, while being an absolute rock behind the plate.

Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge: The duo combined to strike out five while allowing just two baserunners over the final two frames to keep the Phillies in the game.

Raul Ibanez: With runners on second and third in the top of the ninth inning, Raul sent a double to deep right field, cutting the Marlins’ lead to one and eventually setting up the game tying run.

The bad:

J.C. Romero: With two on, one out, and the Phils clinging to a two-run lead in the bottom of the seventh, the erratic relief pitcher allowed a ground rule double, followed by an intentional walk to load the bases, followed by a decidedly non-intentional four pitch walk that tied the game.

Jayson Werth: With the bases loaded and one out in the top of the first, Werth popped out. With two on and two outs in the top of the third, Werth grounded out. While he did drive in the game-tying run in the ninth inning, he’s had a miserable series, going 3 for 15 with one RBI. With Howard and Utley on the shelf, Werth needs to step up in the middle of the lineup.

The ugly:

Baserunning: With runners on first and third in the top of the ninth, the Phillies literally ran themselves out of taking the lead. Raul Ibanez was thrown out after getting caught in a run down on Domonic Brown’s grounder to first. With one away, Jayson Werth was then picked off second base, and a few pitches later, Domonic Brown was caught stealing second on a pitch-out.

The Phils all but had the lead in that inning,  but poor baserunning nearly (and probably should have) cost them the game.

Umpiring: In the bottom of the ninth, Hanley Ramirez stood at second base as the game winning run. Gaby Sanchez, the hitter, scorched a single down the left field line, which would have won the game…except that it was called foul. Replays clearly show that the ball was fair, and that the Marlins should have won the game right there. Fortunately for the Phils, the ump got it wrong, and they went on to win it in 10.

But hey, a win is a win, and with the Braves winning earlier in the night, the Phils needed to keep pace. They open a three game set at home against the New York Mets on Friday, with Joe Blanton (4-6, 5.86) opposing Jon Niese (7-5, 3.78).

Roy Oswalt (ND) allowed allowed two runs on three hits in 6.1 innings. He walked four and struck out five.

Placido Polanco went 3 for 5 with a run.

Raul Ibanez went 3 for 4 with a double (22) and an RBI.

Jayson Werth went 2 for 5 with an RBI.

Carlos Ruiz went 3 for 5 with two doubles (2), a homer (5) and three RBIs.

Ryan Madson (W, 4-1) struck out three in one inning of work in the ninth inning.

Brad Lidge (S, 12) allowed no runs on one hit. He struck out two.

Chris Volstad (ND) allowed allowed two runs on eight hits in 5.2 innings. He walked three and struck out two.

Logan Morrison went 1 for 4 with a double (4) and an RBI.

Gaby Sanchez went 1 for 5 with two RBIs.

Donnie Murphy went 1 for 1 with a double (2), a run, and an RBI.

Leo Nunez (BS, 6) allowed two unearned runs on three hits.

Will Ohman (L, 0-1) allowed one run on one hit in one inning.

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Aug
04
2010
Posted by at 11:39 pm ET 26 Comments

For the second straight night, the Phillies used the bats to down the Marlins, supporting another fine start from Kyle Kendrickt to hold fast at two behind the division leading Atlanta Braves.

It’s been nearly two months, but the Phillies finally won a series on the road since taking two of three from the New York Yankees in June. They did so behind Kendrick’s line of two runs over six, while racking up 11 hits to take advantage of a reeling Marlins team.

Ross Gload and Domonic Brown started the scoring in the top of the first with back-to-back RBI singles, putting the Phils up 2-0 on Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez, who was chased in the top of the fifth inning, when the Phils added two more runs on an RBI single from Raul Ibanez and a sacrifice fly from Brown.

It would be all the offense the Phils would need, as Kendrick and three relievers held the Fish at bay for the duration.

It was quite a night for Domonic Brown, whose three RBI night is his high water mark for the season. But his biggest moment may have taken place in the bottom of the third, when he gunned down Gaby Sanchez at home plate when he attempted to score on a single from Dan Uggla. He delivered a one-bounce throw to the plate and cut down Sanchez with feet to spare.

The Phils go for the sweep on Wednesday, with newly acquired Roy Oswalt (6-13, 3.53) taking on Chris Volstad (5-8, 4.71).

Kyle Kendrick (W, 7-4) allowed two runs on eight hits in six innings. He struck out five. He went 1 for 3 at the plate with a double (2) and a run.

Jimmy Rollins went 2 for 4 with a run.

Placido Polanco went 2 for 4 with two runns

Raul Ibanez went 2 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs.

Ross Gload went 1 for 3 with an RBI.

Domonic Brown went 1 for 4 with three RBIs.

Anibal Sancehez (L, 8-7) allowed four runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings. He walked three and struck out seven.

Gaby Sanchez went 4 for 4 with two doubles (26) and an RBI.

Mike Stanton went 1 for 4 with a homer (10) and an RBI.

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