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Posted by at 12:29 am ET 27 Comments

On Saturday, round about Eight-ish in the evening, the Philadelphia Phillies will welcome the San Francisco Giants to town, in what will be one of the most memorable National League Championship Series in recent memory for any number of reasons: The Phils are two-time defending N.L. champs and looking to become the first team since the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals to go to three straight World Series, the Giants feature some exciting young players that will get a shot on the big stage, The Battle of the Beards (Werth v Wilson)…

Oh, and it will feature some of the best damn pitching this side of Everywheresville, USA.

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Posted by at 1:54 pm ET 87 Comments

Props go to All Star Twitterer ItsStephGrace.

Posted by at 2:56 pm ET 43 Comments

During the three game handling of the Reds that came to be known as the National League Division Series, the Phillies were treated to the sight of Aroldis Chapman, the 23-year-old Cuban exile-slash-fireballer, who not too long ago set a record for unfurling the fastest pitch known to man.

His first appearance in the NLDS was in Game Two, when the Phillies put together a rally against Chapman, thanks to a possible blown call or two and some defensive miscues from the Reds, including Jay Bruce’s blunder that allowed the Phillies to take the lead in the late innings.

He came back out to in Game Three, this time on the losing end of a 2-0 score in the top of the ninth inning against the tail end of the Phillies’ lineup. Despite not allowing any runs, it was almost a worse outing than his first go-round, as the Phillies ended up smoking three balls, two of which happened to end up in the gloves of the outfielders.

The one ball that wasn’t caught, though? It was sort of historic.

Carlos Ruiz was the only Phillie to get a hit off Chapman in Game Three when he roped a one-out double to right field. It doesn’t sound that impressive until you consider that the pitch that Chooch squared up was thrown at a blistering 103.5 MPH, making it the fast pitch ever thrown that ended up being turned into a base hit.

Todd Zolecki has more on his blog

Let me explain. Pitch f/x data goes back to 2008, but SABR’s Trent McCotter found that nobody had hit a faster pitch than Ruiz. Here’s a look at McCotter’s list from the past three seasons:

  • 103.5 mph: Carlos Ruiz v. Chapman, double, 10/10/2010
  • 102.0 mph: Carlos Gonzalez v. Chapman, single, 9/6/2010
  • 101.7 mph: Adam Dunn v. Joel Zumaya, single, 6/17/2010
  • 101.5 mph: Derrek Lee v. Zumaya, single, 6/23/2009
  • 101.4 mph: Mike Lowell v. Zumaya, single, 6/4/2009
  • 101.4 mph: Alfonso Soriano v. Zumaya, single, 6/24/2009
  • 101.1 mph: Scott Podsednik v. Zumaya, single, 6/11/2009
  • 101.1 mph: Paul Konerko v. Zumaya, double, 6/8/2010
  • 101.0 mph: Kazuo Matsui v. Zumaya, single, 6/26/2009
  • 101.0 mph: Jason Kubel v. Justin Verlander, single, 9/19/2009

As McCotter points out, Ruiz’s pitch was 1.5 mph faster than Gonzalez’s pitch. That might not seem like much, but he said 1.5 mph is a significant gap when we’re talking about three years of data.

Zolecki also mentions that it was also the first time that a ball thrown in excess of 103 MPH was ever put into play, meaning that Chooch is probably the greatest hitter of all time or something.

ATJ, check out Senor Octubre celebrating Choochtober with a bad ass champagne shower from his teammates.

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Posted by at 12:36 am ET 35 Comments

The Philadelphia Phillies downed the Cincinnati Reds Cole Hamels’ complete game shutout was the icing on the cake that was the NLDS, with the Phillies sweeping the Cincinnati Reds to advance to the National League Championship Series for the third straight season.

A first inning throwing error on a Jayson Werth grounder by Scott Rolen put the Phillies up agaisnt Reds’ starter Johnny Cueto, whose solid performance over five innings was one of the lone bright spots of the series for Cincy.

Chase Utley added a solo shot in the fifth to complete the scoring from the Phillies at two runs, but it was more than enough for Hamels, whose career season extended into his first postseason start in 2010. It was a far cry from his Ocotober efforts from 2009 and a great booked to the series that began with a historic no hitter from Roy Halladay.

Hamels dominated the Reds from the get-go and did not allow a baserunner past second base the entire night and rarely found himself having to pitch out of any jams.

With a two-run lead to protect in the ninth, Hamels allowed a leadoff single from Brandon Phillips to bring Joey Votto to the plate as the tying run, before getting him to hit into a double play. He struck out Scott Rolen to end the inning, the game, and the series.

The Phillies are advancing to the National League Championship Series for the third straight season, where they will defend their NL crown against the Atlanta Braves or the San Francicso Giants. They’re due for nearly a week off before kicking off Game One in Philadelphia on Saturday night.

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Posted by at 1:06 am ET 29 Comments

Despite a shaky outing from Roy Oswalt, the Philles took advantage of shoddy Reds defense in the late innings as they took a 2-0 series lead in the NLDS.

Roy Oswalt’s first playoff game in a Phillies uniform got off to a rough start with a Brandon Phillips leadoff homer, and it did not get much better, as the veteran fell victim to some poor defense from Chase Utley before getting lifted after allowing three earned runs in five innings.

After allowing a run in the first, Roy nearly got out of the second inning before a throwing error from Utley on a potential double play ball allowed the Reds to tack on a second run to extend their lead to 2-0. Jay Bruce would homer in the fourth and Joey Votto would knock in a run on a sacrifice fly in the fifth to give the Reds a 4-0 lead to starter Bronson Arroyo.

The Phillies struck in the bottom of the fifth, when Chase Utley’s two out single plated two runs following a pair of errors from Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen to cut the lead to 4-2. They added another run in the sixth on a bases loaded walk to Shane Victorino to cut the lead to one run.

It was in the seventh that the Phillies once again took advantage of the Reds defensive gaffes, as they put together a rally against Aroldis Chapman. With Chase Utley on first and one away, Jayson Werth hit a grounder to third base that was mishandled by Scott Rolen, allowing Utley to slide safely into second. One batter later, Jimmy Rollins hit a sinking liner to right field that Jay Bruce misplayed, allowing both Utley and Werth to score to give the Phillies the lead. Two batters later, Carlos Ruiz hit into a fielder’s choice that scored Rollins from third to give the Phillies a 6-4 lead. They would add another on a Jayson Werth RBI single in the bottom of the eigth to make it a three run lead.

Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge both tossed a scoreless inning as the Phillies closed out the Reds to take a 2-0 lead in the series, which shifts to Cincinnati on Sunday.

Despite a rough outing for Roy Oswalt, the Phillies put together another trademark win in the postseason that relied on big hits from their offense and some timely errors from the Reds defense. No matter, a win is a win.

The Phillies head to Cincy for game three with a 2-0 series advantage, this time with Cole Hamels on the mound to face Johnny Cueto.

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Posted by at 1:27 am ET 47 Comments

Roy Halladay has underwhelmed me, and I mean that in the best possible sense.

After watching the Ace pitch his way to the best season of his career in the uniform of my beloved Philadelphia Phillies, I am no longer able to be amazed by every little thing he does. I’ve been spoiled by the brilliance of Roy to the point where I no longer cheer when he does something extraordinary, in the same way that you don’t cheer when you successfully open your car door. It’s become so routine that it’s mundane and boring. So ho-hum. So normal.

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Posted by at 10:21 pm ET 28 Comments

Listen to Scott Franzke and L.A. call the final out on the radio, Courtesy of Ace Twitterer ERhudy

And watch a first hand account of Roy’s no-no, courtesy of reader Eric.

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Posted by at 9:22 pm ET 53 Comments

In his first career postseason start, Roy Halladay allowed one walk, no hits and no runs to the Cincinnati Reds, becoming only the second player ever to throw a no hitter in the playoffs to lead the Phillies to a 4-0 win over the Reds in Game One of the National League Division Series. It was the first no-hitter since Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

Photo courtesy of Reuters

After toiling for 12 years in Toronto, Halladay made a splash in Philadelphia with a 21-win season, a perfect game, a trip to the postseason and likely, a second Cy Young.

And just when things couldn’t get any better for Doc, he threw a no hitter in the playoffs. Against one of the N.L.’s best offensive teams. In his first career postseason start.

How is that for a debut on the big stage?

Needing only 104 pitches to cut through 28 batters, Halladay sat down eight via the strike out thanks to incredible movement on his breaking pitches and pinpoint control on his fastball. Even when the Reds managed to made contact, it was minimal, with the hardest hit ball of game coming on in the top of the third when pitcher Travis Wood hit a line drive that Jayson Werth was able to track down.

Roy set the tone with a 1-2-3 first inning, and was quickly given a run to work with when Shane Victorino hit a one out double, stole third, and then scored on Chase Utley’s sacrifice fly to put the Phillies on the board.

It was literally all the support that Roy would need.

Not wanting to be overshadowed by the offense, Roy struck with the bat in the bottom of the second, when he sent the first pitch he saw into left field to plate Carlos Ruiz to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead over Edinson Volquez.

After a walk to Jimmy Rollins to load the bases, Shane Victorino roped a single to center that scored both Wilson Valdez and Halladay, ending Volquez’s night and any chances the Reds had at taking the first game of the series.

It was all pitching from there, as the Phillies needed very little offense, with Shane Victorino contributing most of it with a 2-for-4 effort to continue his excellent postsesaon play.

And just like that, the Phillies are right back in the groove with a series lead over the Reds and that all important first postseason win.

Doc was right. It is only gonna get funner.

The Phillies will send Roy Oswalt to the mound in Game Two of the series on Friday night, where he will face off against Bronson Arroyo.

Breaking news from Citizens Bank Park: Placido Polanco will not be in the starting lineup for Game One of the NLDS against the Cincinnati Reds. According to Delaware County Times beat writer Ryan Lawrence, the injury is not related to Polanco’s elbow, but his back. At this time, the severity of the injury is unknown, as is Polly’s status for Game Two on Friday. [Phollowing The Phillies]

Posted by at 10:32 am ET 23 Comments

The venerable waxed about this earlier today, so forgive my double dipping. But where he lacked in a run down of the starting lineups and bullpens, I lack in pictures of Edinson Volquez brandishing a weapon while wearing a pair of plaid pants. Symbiosis, meet The Fightins.

Nonetheless, I’ll forge on with my take on the National League Division series.

In a few hours, the Philadelphia Phillies host the Cincinnati Reds to kick off their fourth straight postseason appearance, one that comes after an injury riddled season that somehow ended with a Major League-best 97 wins, three Aces in the rotation, and home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

But for the next four weeks, it’s not so important how they got there, but what they can do once they get there. Let’s take a look.

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R.I.P Harry Kalas