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Archive for September, 2009

Phillies Win 3rd Consecutive NL East Title

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, September 30, 2009 10:47 PM Comments: 116

The Philadelphia Phillies are the 2009 National League East Division Champions!

Tonight the Phillies captured their 3rd straight NL East championship.  They did it behind a full team effort.

Pedro Martinez and Kyle Kendrick tag-teamed the Astros with a combined quality start.   Pedro threw 82 pitches over four innings making a case for a starting job in the postseason.  He was not as dominating as J.A. Happ in his performance last night but proved he is at least healthy enough to pitch.  Kyle Kendrick, meanwhile, made a statement in his three innings allowing no runs on two hits while striking out four.  There is a better chance he’ll make the roster after the unfortunate news emerged that Jamie Moyer will need season-ending groin surgery.

The offense built upon last night’s outburst with double-digit runs – the thrust of which came during a four-run fourth.  JRoll (now batting over .250) and Shane Victorino followed up with back-to-back triples in the fifth.  A Raul Ibanez homer in the seventh helped to secure his first appearance in a playoff series.

With the game well in hand at 10-3 going into the final two innings, Charlie Manuel looked to Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre to hold the lead.  Then in most dramatic fashion before a boisterous sell-out crowd and with just one out remaining to clinch the division, Manuel called for Brad Lidge. If you were caught up in the emotions of the moment while Lidge was warming up, you may have missed the end of the Marlins-Braves game in which the Fish outlasted the Braves to officially crown the Phillies NL East champs.  Just seconds later, Lidge needed only a single pitch to get Lance Berkman to ground out to Ryan Howard.  And the celebration began!

After we clear out the burning champagne, our eyes will now turn to the standings as we follow the Cardinals (90 wins) and Dodgers (93 wins) to determine who secures home field advantage in the playoffs (the Phillies have 92 wins with 4 games to play).  With the Braves loss, the Rockies inch closer to clinching the Wild Card.

This is the second time the Phillies have won three consecutive division crowns.  They did it before in 1976, 1977 and 1978.

  • 116 Comments
 

Gameday: Astros (73-84) at Phillies (91-66)

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, September 30, 2009 06:09 PM Comments: 249

Houston Astros (73-84) at Philadelphia Phillies (91-66)

Brian Moehler, RHP (8-11, 5.21 ERA) vs. Pedro Martinez, RHP (5-1, 3.32 ERA)

Time: 7:05 p.m at Citizens Bank Park
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 54
TV:Comcast Sportsnet
Twitter: Phillies Nation

On this crisp, autumn evening, all it takes is a victory. A win tonight, and the Phillies will clinch their third straight NL East crown, and in the process give their players some much needed rest.

Pedro Martinez is the man that will lead them tonight.  He has not pitched since September 19 because of a stiff neck, but the kinks are out and he’s ready to throw.  Martinez suffered his only loss of the season in that outing against Atlanta, going three innings, while allowing three runs before he was lifted with the neck strain.  Before that, he had been spectacular, winning five of his previous seven outings.

He hasn’t faced the Astros since August 2008, and overall his numbers aren’t pretty. Pedro is 6-7 with a 4.03 ERA lifetime in 16 starts against Houston.  But tonight, throw the numbers away, because Pedro is known to do big things in big spots.

Brian Moehler opposes Pedro tonight.  The Phillies have hit him hard, as his 6.19 ERA indicates.  He’s started eight times against the Phils, giving up 60 hits and 33 earned runs.  This give the Fightin’s a surefire opportunity to clinch tonight.

The champagne is chilling, the plastic tarps are ready, now there’s only one thing left to do.  Win.

NOTES: Carlos Ruiz is back in the lineup and Brett Myers is available out of the bullpen if needed.

Tonight’s lineup: Rollins (SS), Victorino (CF), Utley (2B), Howard (1B), Ibanez (LF), Werth (RF), Feliz (3B), Ruiz. (C), Martinez (P).

Beck'sYour Gameday Beer – Beck’s
Beck’s, a classic German Brewery, provides tonight’s beer like a present wrapped neatly in tin foil. It’s certainly not the best German beer but it is popular and widely available. Like similar mass-produced pilsners it has that traditional rice and corn beer taste, though not has strong as a Bud or Miller product. It of course goes well with Wiener Schnitzel otherwise known as veal cutlets. – By Brian

GO PHILLIES!

  • 249 Comments
 

Phillies Stand in the Way of Only Themselves

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, September 30, 2009 03:00 PM Comments: 13

http://assets.nydailynews.com/img/2008/09/28/alg_lidge.jpg

Destiny is in their hands. For a third straight season, the Philadelphia Phillies have the opportunity to wear the crown of the NL East. Savor it.

They sit on the doorstep, with five games remaining before the end of the season. Stranger things have happened, but after a demoralizing Braves loss, coupled with a Rockies win, the Wild Card picture is becoming clearer. How will the Braves respond? It matters very little to the Phils.

The Phillies have business to take care of tonight, in front of the home crowd. A victory in front of the sea of rally towels puts them back in the postseason, preparing for yet another storied run to the Fall Classic. You can throw everything else out – all parallel storylines like Marlins/Braves – and focus on the Phillies, and only the Phillies, tonight.

Just 48 hours ago, the panic switch had been flipped and the NL East was no longer a definite. But when their backs were inching closer to the wall, they pulled through. It was indeed a trying week for our boys in pinstripes; complete with agonizing late-inning circus acts, mounting injuries, and talk of an epic collapse witnessed only by our elders in ’64. Finally, that can all be put to rest.

With a win tonight, we can also put the players to rest. Undoubtedly, the marathon that is the MLB season as worn on this team of all-out players. Chase Utley’s average is below .290, a dark hole for the second baseman compared to the bright shine of .300. Jayson Werth is caught in a slump, and Raul Ibanez may or may not be feeling the lingering effects of a mid-season injury.

The list of names battling the bug in the bullpen is vast. Add Moyer to the grouping of Eyre, Myers, Romero, Park, Condrey, and Taschner, plus Happ and Pedro in the rotation. Some of them have made their way back, and some have not. Rest for the weary is just around bend.

How perfect would it be to get the slumping order some R & R? It’s important to have everyone healthy and ready to rock for the second season, so a victory tonight makes that possible.

Rest easy, Phillies Nation. Just one more win and it’s a done deal. Time certainly flies when your having fun, and this season is nearly over in the blink of an eye. So enjoy tonight’s festivities, and then prepare yourself for the back-to-back chase.

  • 13 Comments
 

Prospect Rankings No. 3: Michael Taylor

Posted by Ben Seal, Wed, September 30, 2009 12:00 PM Comments: 19

Michael Taylor, OFtaylor2

Born: 12/19/1985 in Cheverly, Maryland

Height: 6’6”

Weight: 250

He was not supposed to be this good. For three years Michael Taylor struggled in college, never managing to achieve the expectations at Stanford that his large bag of tools made for him. Phillies scouts watched him at Apopka High School in 2002 when they were scouting Zack Greinke, and had liked him then, so they chose him in the fifth round of the 2007 Draft when he left Stanford and hoped to cash in on the potential they saw five years earlier. It’s safe to say at this point that both the Phillies and Taylor himself will be cashing in on that potential in the near future, as Taylor has ascended the ranks to become one of the Top 25 prospects in the game according to outlets like Baseball America and MLB.com.

Taylor, a right-handed hitter with a massive frame many have likened to Darryl Strawberry, had trouble in his first season of pro ball at short-season Williamsport. Using the classic “Stanford swing” that all Cardinal products implement, Taylor couldn’t do much of anything, hitting to a .227 batting average in 233 at-bats. Despite the low average he did show some pop, only natural for a player his size. But in 2008, a breakout season by any definition, Taylor abandoned the contact-heavy Stanford swing and began to use a more natural stroke that worked wonders for his performance at the plate. By allowing his great size and strength to do most of the work, Taylor turned into a high-average hitter with above-average power – and even more unharnessed pop that is ready to be unlocked.

The change in his swing allowed Taylor to hit .361 with 25 extra-base hits in half a season at Lakewood before moving on to Clearwater, where he finished with 37 extra-base hits and a .329 average in just 243 at-bats. It was a statement season for Taylor, who instantly rocketed up prospect lists and became a Phillie to watch heading into the 2009 campaign. He didn’t disappoint, hitting .333 with 15 homers in his first taste of double-A ball before making another jump to triple-A Lehigh Valley. Just one level away from the Majors, Taylor started out slow but gained steam in August and finished hitting .282 in limited time, including a 5-for-5 night when he hit for the cycle. A strained oblique ended his season early in mid-August, cutting short a hot streak. In the end he had followed up 2008’s breakout by hitting .320 with 53 extra-base hits across two levels this season. Not bad for a kid who looked lost just two years ago.

The ceiling is very high for Taylor, who will start 2010 at Lehigh Valley and is likely to earn a promotion to the Phillies at some point in the summer. He has a good arm, though nothing spectacular, and managed to steal 21 bags this year despite not having great speed. At the plate he has the type of physique that allows him to drive the ball every time he makes contact, which is often. He may have given up the Stanford swing, but still maintains an impressive average and good walk-to-strikeout ratios across the board. He has played both left and right field well in his career and could slot in at either corner once the Phillies are in need. Though Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez won’t be vacating their positions next season, Taylor is just a hot start and an early injury away from his first call-up. And when that happens, the outfielder with Ryan Howard’s broad stature and an equally impressive track record will be ready to make an impact.

Statistics

Year   Level   AB   H   2B   3B   HR   RBI   BB   K   SB   AVG   OBP   SLG

2007   A-     233   53  14    0    6    33   23   53   8   .227   .300   .365

2008   A      249  90   12    3   10   50   31   43   10  .361   .441   .554

2008   A+     243  80   27    1    9    38   19   46   5   .329   .380   .560

2009   AA    318  106   22   4    15   65   35   51  18   .333   .408   .569

2009   AAA   110   31   6    1    5    19   13   19   3    .282   .359   .491

RankingsAll previous prospect profiles can be found here, which is also on the left sidebar for easy viewing

3.   Michael Taylor, OF
4.   Travis d’Arnaud, C
5.   Zach Collier, OF
6.   Trevor May, RHP
7.   Joe Savery, LHP
8.   Vance Worley, RHP
9.   Sebastian Valle, C
10.  Mike Stutes, RHP
11.  Antonio Bastardo, LHP
12.  Anthony Gose, OF
13.  Colby Shreve, RHP
14.  Anthony Hewitt, 3B
15.  Justin De Fratus, RHP
16.  Sergio Escalona, LHP
17.  Yohan Flande, LHP
18.  Julian Sampson, RHP
19.  John Mayberry, Jr., OF
20.  Mike Cisco, RHP
21.  Freddy Galvis, SS
22.  Jonathan Pettibone, RHP
23.  Domingo Santana, OF
24.  Jonathan Singleton, 1B
25.  Drew Naylor, RHP

  • 19 Comments
 

Phillies Nation Trivia – New Question

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, September 30, 2009 11:43 AM Comments: 4

It’s time for another installment of Phillies trivia – brought to you by The Ultimate Phillies Trivia Quiz and Wholesale Keychains.

Phillies KeychainThe answer to last week’s question is Richie Ashburn. He hit .338 in 1955 and .350 in 1958 to capture two batting crowns in his illustrious career. Congratulations to Ron whose correct answer was chosen as the winner. He will receive a free Phillies keychain and so will a random fan who can answer this week’s question correctly. It’s a tough one.

This former Phillie hurler recorded seventeen strikeouts in a nine inning game vs. the Chicago Cubs.

  • 4 Comments
 

Feliz Slams Past ‘Stros

Posted by Amanda Orr, Tue, September 29, 2009 10:53 PM Comments: 81

Wilton Lopez made a huge mistake by hanging a slider to Pedro Feliz. Feliz took advantage and sent the pitch into the left field seats.  The salami and Ryan Madson’s six-out save led the Phillies to a 7-4 victory.

J.A Happ pitched better than his line indicated.  In 5.2 innings, he allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits.  He struck out six. Happ became the first Phillies rookie to win 12 games since 1959.  Happ made two mistakes: a down and in fastball to Lance Berkman and a middle-in fastball to Kaz Matsui.  Both pitches resulted in home runs.

Jimmy Rollins’ 42nd double of the season put the Phillies on the board, but it was Feliz who provided the big blow.  With the bases loaded and nobody out,  Feliz jumped on the first pitch and took it for a ride.  The grand slam put the Phillies ahead, 5-1.  It was Feliz’s second grand slam of the year, and it extended the franchise record for most grand slams in a season (11).  The rally towels proudly waved and it was loud for the rest of the night.

In the fifth inning, Jayson Werth added insurance with a two-run home run.  The runs proved to be key since the ninth inning is always nerve-racking.

Jamie Moyer ate 1.1 scoreless innings in relief.  However, on the last pitch he threw, he fell to the ground with a groin injury.

Ryan Madson threw nine pitches in the eighth inning, and returned to the mound in the ninth to a standing ovation.  Madson allowed two singles, but struck out Hunter Pence to end the game.  Madson did a perfect job of mixing his pitches and locating them in the right spots.

The Florida Marlins took care of business in Atlanta, beating the Braves 5-4.  This means that the magic number is down to one.

  • 81 Comments
 

Gameday: Astros (73-83) at Phillies (90-66)

Posted by Amanda Orr, Tue, September 29, 2009 06:21 PM Comments: 307

Houston Astros (73-83) at Philadelphia Phillies (90-66)

Wilton Lopez, RHP (0-0, 8.44 ERA) vs. J.A Happ, LHP (11-4, 2.79 ERA)

Time: 7:05 p.m at Citizens Bank Park
Weather: Mostly Cloudy & Windy, 69
TV:Comcast Sportsnet
Twitter: Phillies Nation

The Houston Astros always seem to torture the Phillies in September, but don’t jump off the bandwagon yet!  The beauty of baseball is that there is always a tomorrow.  After a painful loss on Monday, the Phillies will try to rebound.

Last night, the Phillies struggled against Yorman Bazardo.  Once again, they’ll be seeing a new face.  Wilton Lopez is making his first major league start.  In 10.2 innings in relief, the rookie has struggled mightily.  He has allowed 20 hits and his ERA is over eight.  Over the course of the year, the Phillies’ bats have been silent against young pitchers that they’ve never faced before, even if they own high ERA’s.

J.A Happ will try to help his case for the 2009 Rookie of the Year Award.  The left-hander is seeking his twelfth win of the year.  Opponents have batted .236 against him this season.  Happ has been the stopper.  He is a perfect 7-0 after Phillies losses.

Charlie Manuel did most of the talking during a closed-door meeting this afternoon.  Hopefully that will pump up the team and get them back on the right track.  Manuel later said to the media: “Ever since I’ve been in baseball, I’ve been a fighter and I’ve come to whip your [butt] every day.”  So let’s whip some Astro-butt tonight.

Tonight’s lineup: Rollins (SS), Victorino (CF), Utley (2B), Howard (1B), Ibanez (LF), Werth (RF), Feliz (3B), Bako (C) and Happ (P).

STORM KING STOUT Your Gameday Beer – Storm King Stout
There’s a storm a brewin’ and only the Phillies will decide which way it blows. We’re staying local tonight with a full and flavorful stout from Victory Brewing Co. Dark and rich with roasted malts that do not overpower its Pacific Northwest hops, this beer is a lip smacker.a Storm King is best paired with the sweet taste of victory. – By Brian

GO PHILLIES!

  • 307 Comments
 

Phillies Nation Podcast: Episode 8

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, September 29, 2009 03:30 PM Comments: 9

Welcome to the Phillies Nation Podcast!

http://www.texasbaseballradio.com/images/franzke2005.jpgOn today’s podcast, Pat Gallen is joined by Scott Franzke, the Philadelphia Phillies radio play-by-play man.  Pat and Scott break down the awful play of the Phils as of late, the final six games of the regular season, and what Harry Kalas meant to the Phillies.

Scott made his Phillies debut in 2006, when he was named the pre- and post-game host for Phillies radio broadcasts and did radio play-by-play in the middle innings. In 2007, he took over as the main play-by-play commentator for Phillies radio broadcasts, working with Larry Andersen. Last year the duo was honored at the Philadelphia A.I.R. (Achievement in Radio) Awards, winning for Best Live Sports Event Coverage for the second consecutive year.

A graduate of Southern Methodist University (SMU) in 1994 with a degree in broadcast journalism, Scott began his radio career as a talk show host with Prime Sports Radio, a national all-sports radio network based in Dallas. He worked for two seasons as the part-time pre- and post-game host for his hometown Texas Rangers (1997-98) before becoming the voice of the Kane County Cougars, a single-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins (1999-2001).

Click here to listen Phillies Nation Podcast – Episode 8

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Phils Continue to Sputter Towards the Finish Line

Posted by Brian Michael, Mon, September 28, 2009 11:48 PM Comments: 74

The Phillies dropped another important game down the stretch.  This was not another blown save, nor did a Phillies comeback  fall short – they straight up lost.  Cole Hamels pitched poorly and the offense was anemic in front of their increasingly frustrated home town fans.

Hamels cruised through the first three innings, allowing just a single hit after Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley manufactured a run in the bottom of the first.  He coughed up a run in the fourth and two more in the sixth before the Astros really took it to him.  With two outs in the seventh, Michael Bourne singled and stole second.  A Miguel Tejada RBI single and intentional walk later and Hamels gave way to Tyler Walker.  Walker allowed another three runs to score in the inning and with an 8-2 score, the game was out of reach.

Astros’ starter, Yorman Bazardo – whom the Phillies released in Spring Training – kept the Phils’ bats in-check despite allowing a run on a balk.  Chase Utley saw only 8 pitches the entire night as the zombie lineup mustered just four hits.

So yes, the Phillies magic number rests at three with six games to play.  Yes, the Braves won (again).  And yes, the Phillies have now lost 5 of their past 7 games.  Talks of 1964 have surfaced, albeit prematurely.  But let’s focus on some positives.

The Phillies activated J.C. Romero from the disabled list today and he threw a scoreless eighth while allowing two hits.  With barely a whiff of pressure, Brad Lidge pitched the ninth without allowing a run.  He did hit a batter though.  Chan Ho Park and Brett Myers both had successful rehab assignments throwing on the side prior to the game.

If you’re questioning whether or not the Phillies will make the playoffs, you’re overreacting…but not by much.

  • 74 Comments
 

Gameday: Astros (72-83) at Phillies (90-65)

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, September 28, 2009 06:24 PM Comments: 202

Houston Astros (72-83) at Philadelphia Phillies (90-65)

Yorman Bazardo, RHP (0-2, 9.55 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels, LHP (10-9, 4.11 ERA)

Time: 7:05 p.m at Citizens Bank Park
Weather: Sunny, 69
TV:Comcast Sportsnet
Twitter: Phillies Nation

BREAKING NEWS: According to Meredith Marakovitz of 950 ESPN, J.C. Romero has been activated from the DL.  She also reports that Carlos Ruiz could be back as early as Wednesday.

This could be the deciding series for the Fightin’ Phils.  With their magic number at three, the Phillies could clinch as early as Tuesday depending on the Braves’ outcome.  The Phillies need to take care of their own business by beating the Houston Astros, who swept them in four games at the beginning of September.

When the games get bigger, Cole Hamels gets better.  In his last six starts, Hamels is 3-1 with a 2.01 ERA.  He struggled against Houston, allowing four earned runs in six innings.

Hamels will be opposed by Yorman Bazardo, who his seeking his first win of 2009.  Bazardo is making his fourth start of the season.  He has not lasted more than five innings in any of his starts.  Bazardo allows a lot of base runners, 2.08 walks and hits per innings pitched.  Opponents are batting .341 against him.

The offense has been better lately, and they should be able to handle Bazarado.  However, they have a tendency to struggle against pitchers they’ve never faced before.  The “RISP” stat will be a key stat to look at during tonight’s game.

The Phillies were unable to clinch on the road, but it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise if they can clinch in front of the home crowd.  The rally towels will be out tonight, and the rest of the series.

Miller Genuine DraftYour Gameday Beer – Miller Genuine Draft
Good ole MGD, it always surprises when you can get this beer cheaper than Miller Lite, though it’s definitely not Miller’s best offering. It is heavily carbonated and has simple grain and corn flavoring. You know what you’re getting with this one – it’s an easy drinker. I like it with cheese (wiz) fries – By Brian

GO PHILLIES!

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