The Fightins'

Author Archive

Mar
05
2009
Posted by at 6:57 am ET 18 Comments

While all of these moments so far have been about the Phillies and their affinity to knock the crap out of the ball or their seemingly never ending supply of come-from-behind victories, there hasn’t been a moment that was dedicated to a defensive play.

Of course, it is less likely that a gem in the field will have such an impact on a game that it could rank in the top 11 best moments over a 162-game season, but if there is one aspect of the Phillies’ defensive game in 2008 that deserves praise, it is more certainly the right arm of Shane Victorino.

After getting a chance to play every day, Shane showed the opposition that, despite his small frame, that he has a freaking cannon for an arm. And he made his presence known early and often, racking up 10 assists from right field in 114 from games in 2007.

While many feared that his transition to center would take less advantage of the howitzer attached to his shoulder, he has nonetheless continued in the time honored tradition of throwing runners the eff out from his post in center.

And in June, during the Phillies first trip to Atlanta, the Flyin’ Hawaiian would put his mark on our second biggest moment of the season – No questions asked.

With the Braves leading 2-1 in the top of the ninth, the Phillies were in need of, yet again, a lucky break. They would get that break when second baseman Kelly Johnson’s error would allow Eric Bruntlett to score from second.

The Phillies would capitalize on that in the 10th inning when So Taguchi scored on a Victorino’s second triple of the night, followed up by Chase Utley’s double, giving the Phillies a 4-2 lead heading into the bottom half of the frame.

Brad Lidge, who was a perfect 15-for-15 at this point, got himself into some hot water by putting runners on second and third with only one out. After striking out Greg Norton for the second out, shortstop Yunel Escobar would single to center, scoring Josh Anderson from third, with Gregor Blanco hot on his heels from second.

But Blanco would not tie the game up, as a perfect strike from Shane from shallow center would cut down the runner to end the game, preserving the save for Lidge, and turning Victorino into public enemy number one in Atlanta.

After the jump, take a look at Shane’s cannon…

Read more »

      Read More: ,
Mar
03
2009
Posted by at 11:59 pm ET 22 Comments

For the early part of the 2008 season, Pat Burrell carried the Philadelphia Phillies.

At the break, the slugging left-fielder had compiled a strong line of .275/.404/.575 with an OPS of .979. Although The Bat would fall off in the second half, there is no doubting his impact on the team while Ryan Howard struggled and Jimmy Rollins sat on the DL.

And in a somewhat fitting fashion, Pat’s biggest moment of the regular season would come on the night that his former neighbor in the outfield would come to visit (and do some damage of his own).

And that brings us to our third biggest moment of the season.

On May 4th, the Phillies were the owners of a respectable 17-13 record, good enough for first place in the National League east, with the lowly San Francisco Giants coming to town.

While the Phillies took off to an early lead thanks to home runs from Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz, the Giants would battle back with a three-run seventh, knotting the game at four. The score would remain tied until the 10th inning, when Aaron Rowand stepped into the batter’s box.

Eight innings earlier, Rowand was greeted with a rousing ovation from the Philly faithful on his first trip to home plate; his reward for his gutsy play and blue-collar attitude during his tenure in Philadelphia. But in the 10th, the fans had very little to cheer about as Rowand, in a moment that most Phillies fans saw coming, sent a pitch from J.C. Romero into the seats in center.

And as the Giants looked to Brian Wilson (not of Beach Boys fame) to close the door, the Phillies thought just the opposite. And with one out and Utley on first, Ryan Howard struck out, leaving the game in the hands of Burrell.

And he wouldn’t disappoint.

After mistiming two fastballs from Wilson, and with the entire stadium on their feet, Burrell sent a 3-2 pitch deep into the left-field stands, sealing the win for the Phillies and further entrenching the legend that is Pat Burrell.

After the jump, take a look at The Bat’s big moment…

Read more »

      Read More: ,
Mar
02
2009
Posted by at 11:12 pm ET 6 Comments

When the Los Angeles Dodgers came to town in late August, the Phillies could only hope to avoid being swept again at the hands of the resurgent club who was thriving in the wake of acquiring Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox.

After the four-game sweep in LA, the Phils would have just over a week before they had to face them again, this time on their home turf at Citizen’s Bank Park.

And while the Phillies had their way with the Dodgers in the first two games of the series (thanks to strong starts from Kyle Kendrick and Cole Hamels) they faced their biggest challenge during game three, when Joe Blanton faced Hiroki Kuroda .

Both starters would pitch six solid innings, leaving the fate of the game in the hands of both evenly-matched bullpens. The Dodgers would strike first in the seventh inning, when a big two-out single by the perennially prickly Jeff Kent gave the Doders a 2-1 lead. They took that lead into the ninth when Pete Happy, fresh from the disabled list, had a two-out RBI single of his own plating Shane Victorino to tie the game.

Little did we know, that would end up ranking as his second biggest hit of the game.

And his biggest moment of the night? Well, that happened a couple innings later, and is our 4th biggest moment of the regular season.

In the top of the 10th, the Dodgers would threaten to take the lead after loading the bases with no outs, but the Phillies would steer out of the rocky waters after Pedro Feliz turned a sharp grounder into two outs, with the Dodgers eventually getting turned away.

It would be in the 11th, however, when Pedro had finally seen enough: With two on and two out, Feliz sent the first pitch he saw from Jason Johnson into seats in deep left-center, giving the Phillies the win, and setting the stage for the four-game sweep the next night.

After the jump, take a look at Pedro’s walk-off…

Read more »

      Read More: ,
Mar
01
2009
Posted by at 10:48 pm ET 24 Comments

For guys like Cole Hamels, the rise to The Show didn’t take too long. After recovering from a series of injuries, Cole spent about three weeks in the minors in 2006 before getting the call up to the bigs.

But for others, the trip takes longer. And in some cases, much longer.

Chris Coste was one of those players. Having spent most of his career crouched behind the plate of the independent leagues, he is the very definition of a journeyman ballplayer. But since he has been a Phillie, Coste has been a steady right-handed stick who supplies some much needed power when called upon to spell the steady Carlos Ruiz. Regardless of the amount of playing time he gets, the catcher-turned-author-turned World Series champion has had some big moments in a Phillies uniform.

And in the wee hours of August 27th, the 33-year-old rookie would come up huge against the rival New York Mets, which is our 5th biggest moment of the 2008 regular season.

After a four game sweep at home against the Dodgers, the Phillies found themselves right back into the hunt for the National League East with the Mets coming into town for a two game set. Unfortunately for the Phils, Jamie Moyer didn’t have his best stuff and the Metros took full advantage by jumping to a 7-0 lead behind starter Pedro Martinez.

Of course, the Phillies would battle back (does anyone see a theme?), thanks to big flies by Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, followed by a two-out, ninth inning double by Eric Bruntlett that plated Jayson Werth from first base to tie the game.

Neither team would do much of anything over the next three innings, until Shane Victorino led off the bottom half of the 13th with a triple. The Mets would then intentionally load the bases to face pinch-hitter Brett Myers. After working a full count (foreshadowing, perhaps?) without swinging the bat, Myers would eventually strike out, setting the stage for Coste, who was 3-for-3 after coming off the bench in the 9th inning.

And on an 1-0 pitch from Scott Schoeneweis, Coste launched a fastball to deep center field that landed just shy of the warning track, giving the Phillies the 8-7 win in 13 innings and putting them atop the standings  in the NL east.

After the jump, take a look at the longest single in Coste’s career…

Read more »

      Read More: , ,
Mar
01
2009
Posted by at 12:35 am ET 7 Comments

Much like Jayson Werth, there was very little known about Greg Dobbs when he arrived in Philadalphia. Handpicked by Pat Gillick, who knew him from his days with Seattle, Dobbs arrived with no fanfare. However, he quickly made his presence known during spring training, where he was nicknamed “The Natural.”

In 2007, Dobbs proved to be a valuable asset to the team by becoming a solid left-handed bat off the bench and filling the void that was third base. When 2008 came around, Dobbs was once again the primary left-handed hitting bench player, but by now he solidified his spot as one of the top pinch hitters in all of baseball.

On the season, Dobbs would hit .355, with two home runs and 16 RBIs. He also set a Phillies single season record with pinch hits (22), passing former Phil Doc Miller, who collected 20 pinch-hits way back in 1913.

One of his hits off the bench, however, came on a Saturday afternoon against the Atlanta Braves, and it is our 6th biggest moment of the 2008 regular season.

The Phillies had taken an early lead against Braves starter Mike Hampton, and with Cole Hamels on the mound, the stage was set for an easy win.

But things didn’t turn out that way, as an uncharacteristically bad fourth inning by Cole, combined with two errors in the field, left the Phillies buried in a 9-3 hole.

Of course, these are the Phillies, and there is a reason they are called The Fightins. And in the fifth, they would show why.

With three straight hits to load the bases, Atlanta brought in lefty Royce Ring to face Ryan Howard, who promptly singled to cut the lead to four runs. After a sacrifice fly by Burrell and a single by Chris Coste, the Phillies found themselves trailing by two runs with Dobbs coming to the plate.

And with two runners on, Greg Dobbs showed a national audience what he did best: He launched a 1-2 pitch deep into the second deck in right field, giving the Phillies the 10-9 lead, which would go on to be the final score of the game.

After the jump, take a look at Dobbs’ monster shot…

Read more »

      Read More: ,
Feb
27
2009
Posted by at 7:11 pm ET 12 Comments

No more tears now; I will think about revenge. -Mary, Queen of Scots

After a terrifyingly spectacular finish in 2007, the Phillies were quickly and quietly escorted out of the postseason by America’s sweethearts, the Colorado Rockies, who were amid one of the greatest flukes of late-season success ever to grace the basepaths.

The early exit notwithstanding, the fans (and most certainly, the players) couldn’t help but feel slighted by the fact that the Rockies – the effing Rockies – were the reason for their all too brief stay in October.

Flash forward to April 22, 2008.

A night earlier, the Phillies battled back against the defending NL champs, scoring five runs in the last two innings en route to a 9-5 victory in Colorado. It was certainly a big win in the style that the Phillies are accustomed to: getting the big hits when it mattered.

But game two would be different, and the difference maker would be none other than The Midnight Mayor of Center City himself, Pat Burrell, who drives the 7th best moment of the 2008 regular season deeep into the gap in left-center.

The Phils had taken an early lead, but the Rockies would have their way with starter Brett Myers, and they took a 6-5 lead heading into the ninth.

Manny Corpas, Colorado’s sticky-fingered closer, promptly loaded the bases courtesy of two singles and intentional pass, with the hopes of inducing a double play from the heavy footed Burrell.

Sounds easy enough, right? Afterall, Burrell is slow and has been known for the occasional GIDP.

Except Pat had a line that went something like this: .364/.476/.742 to go with five home runs and 14 RBIs. And if my memory serves me correct, he was hitting around 1.000 with RISP at that point.

So what did Pat do? After falling into 0-2, he worked his way back to a more respectable 2-2 count before delivering a bomb to deep center, clearing the bases to give the Phillies the 8-6 lead, which would prove to be the difference.

After the jump, see Burrell’s big hit, plus some hilarious, Major League-like baserunning from Chase and Big Brown…

Read more »

      Read More: ,
Feb
26
2009
Posted by at 10:42 pm ET 10 Comments

If there is one thing that former GM Pat Gillick had a knack for during his tenure in Philadelphia, it was being able to spot talent in the most unlikely of places. Guys like J.C. Romero, Greg Dobbs and Jayson Werth were all the end result of smart moves at bargain prices.

Not too much was known about Jayson Werth (except that he has a staggeringly hot mom) when he came on board with the team before 2007. In fact, some fans spent the better part of their days coming up with ways to disparage the man (“He’s Werth-less! Get it?) before he even put on a Phils uniform.

But in 2008, Jayson got a chance to be that everyday player he was projected to be prior to his wrist injury in ’05. After Shane Victorino went on the DL, Werth took over in center and showcased his versatility in the field, while displaying above average power in the batter’s box. By the middle of the season, Werth found himself in the lineup every day, solidifying his status as a starter.

Werth’s biggest game of the regular season — by far — came on a misty night in May against the Blue Jays, leading us to the 8th biggest moment of the 2008 regular season.

With the score knotted at zeros in the second inning and runners on first and second, Werth sent an 0-1 pitch from David Purcey into the stands in right field. And with the bags full of Phils in the third, Werth connected for his first career grand slam, giving the Phils a 8-0 lead.

He would tack on a solo shot in the fifth, tying a franchise record with 8 Ribeyes, sharing that distinction with none other than Michael Jack himself.

2008 was a career year for Werth, who not only established himself as the finest purveyor of the vag strip on the Phillies, but also as a legitimate power and speed threat, finishing the year off with 24 homers and 20 stolen bases.

After the jump, take a look at Werth’s big night…

Read more »

      Read More: ,
Feb
25
2009
Posted by at 11:49 pm ET 7 Comments

“The hardest part of any journey is taking that first step.” -Unknown

As baseball fans, this time of the year is something special. Let’s face it, we are like kids walking into the world’s greatest toy store, with carte blanche to go wild with youthful enthusiasm and ardor, because baseball season is almost here.

And over the course of the marathon that is the 162 game season, every single game counts, especially the first one that gets registered in the W column. It’s like walking onto the cold, cement floor in the morning. That first step is rough, but it gets easier as it goes on. And in what has become a rather macabre tradition, the Phillies have had a nasty habit of tanking it in the early goings, completely avoiding that first step onto the cement floor that is victory.

2008 proved to be no different; a ninth-inning meltdown by the bullpen in game one, followed by a wasted start by Cole Hamels in a 1-0 shutout loss in game two put the Phillies in a rather precarious position to start the season against the Washington Nationals.

And before the Phillies even came to bat in game three, they were already down by five runs – the end result of sloppy play and a start by Jamie Moyer that would prove to be the antithesis of his 2008 campaign.

And it is here, during game three of The Perfect Season, that we have our ninth best moment of 2008.

As the game wore on, the Phillies slowly fought their way back into contention. A Chris Coste home run in the third put the Phillies on the board, but the team wouldn’t show their trademark grit and chutzpah until the sixth inning.

With one out, the Phils strung together seven straight base hits, putting a six-spot up on the board to take a one run lead; their first of the game.

The Phillies would be unable to hold it, though, as the Nats plated one in the 7th. And after a wasted bases loaded scoring opportunity in the 8th, the Phillies saw themselves heading for the first bonus baseball session of the season.

To start things off in the Phillies’ half of the 10th, Jimmy Rollins legged out an infield single, followed up by a sacrifice bunt by a great sacrifice bunt by Shane. How great was it? Well, Young James went from first to third with room to spare, as chants of “MVP” rained down from the stands.

After intentionally walking Chase and Ryan Howard to load the bases with one out, Nationals pitcher Jesus Colome walked Jayson Werth on four pitches, giving the Phillies their first win of the season, in the most anti-climatic, somewhat poetic fashion.

After the jump, we do what every other reasonable person does after a Walkoff Walk…

Read more »

      
Feb
25
2009
Posted by at 6:55 am ET 22 Comments

On a chilly night in April, and down to their last three outs, the Phillies were staring into the eyes of a 6-8 record, and yet another slow start. The Houston Astros were in town for a three game set, and by all indications, it should have been an easy go for the Fightins.

But as we all know, nothing ever seems to come easy for the Boys from the City of Brotherly Love.

Jimmy Rollins wasn’t in the starting lineup, Carlos Ruiz was batting second, and Adam Eaton was on the mound. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear that this was a split-squad game against the Blue Jays.

The reality is, the Phillies needed something big to happen. Perhaps something miraculous even. Well, something did happen, and it’s our 10th best moment of the 2008 regular season.

With a 3-0 lead going into the ninth inning, Houston elected to pull starter Shawn Chacon, who had thrown 8 solid innings of shutout baseball, in favor of their seasoned closer, Jose Valverde.

While most would be inclined to throw in the towel at this point, and it would be a lie to say that I disagree, it was nonetheless a disconcerting situation for the Phillies. With only three outs left, and only four hits all game, it was turning into one of those “here we go again” moments.

Then, something magical happened.

After pinch hitter Chris Snelling promptly deposited the first pitch he saw into the right field stands, Chase Utley did what he does best and took one for the team to reach base. After Ryan Howard continued his April funk by striking out, Pat Burrell, who was for so many years the ire of Philadelphia, tied the game with an opposite field (!) home run, thus continuing his legendary first half run.

With the game all tied up, Geoff Jenkins, one of the newest additions to the team, battled Valverde to an 11 pitch at-bat, which finally ended with Jenkins striking out, but not before he reached first base when the ball skidded away from catcher Brad Ausmus and towards the Phillies’ dugout.

With Jenkins on first, fellow newcomer Pedro Feliz roped a double down the left field line, which sent the not very fleet of foot Jenkins to blow through a stop sign by third base coach Steve Smith, to narrowly (and I mean n-a-r-r-o-w) beat the perfect relay from Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada.

After the jump, see the view from the first base line as the two new guys make their mark…

Read more »

      Read More:
Feb
23
2009
Posted by at 11:08 pm ET 25 Comments

On Sunday, September 28th, Ryan Howard sat on the bench. As did Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. Cole Hamels, who was the scheduled starter that day, didn’t even wear his cleats. And Charlie Manuel didn’t need to worry about his squad,  because a day earlier, in a tense 9th inning that proved to be a microcosm of the entire season, the Phillies clinched the division. And for the first time in several months, the Phillies’ starters (and the fans) could relax and enjoy the game.

And it was during this game, number 162, that we arrive at the 11th best moment in the 2008 regular season.

Lou Marson, the much ballyhooed prospect, got his first Major League start behind the plate during this game. While his first three at-bats saw him strike out twice and single for his first career hit, it was in the 8th inning, with a runner on first, that Lou deposited a 1-2 pitch into the left field stands, capping a Major League debut that many can only dream of. As he rounded the bases, the players in the dugout remained motionless on the bench, setting the rookie up for one of the best traditions in all of baseball: freezing out the hitter. Marson took it in stride, high-fiving the air as he descended into the dugout, moments before the rest of the team joined his celebration.

While this moment didn’t have any impact on the fate of the 2008 Phillies, it was nonetheless a big moment because of what it encapsulated outside of the game itself. Sure, it was the first big league homer for our future catcher, but the significance of this moment finds itself rooted in the allure of the game itself.

Like every red-blooded American boy, I wanted to be a ballplayer. My older brother was a stellar player in little league and in high school, and I wanted nothing more than to follow in his footsteps, with the hopes of one day getting the chance to make it to The Show.

Of course, some things are just not meant to be, and when you’re slower than Pat Burrell dragging Prince Fielder through a quagmire, you learn pretty quickly that MLB glory just isn’t in the cards.

The point is that the Lou Marson home run was more than just “HR” in the box score. It was the culmination of one billion imagined moments from anyone and everyone who has ever dreamed of being a big leaguer. Even Harry Kalas seemed to be more elated than usual on the call. And for the opportunity to bear witness to the beginning of a career for one of our beloved Fightin’ Phillies, well, that’s just gravy.

After the jump, see the homer and the subsequent freeze out by the team…

Read more »

      Read More: , ,
Written by

...

Visit The Fightins Store
Friends of the Fightins:

Phila-Centric

R.I.P Harry Kalas