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NLDS Game 3: Phillies (1-1) at Cardinals (1-1)

Posted by Michael Baumann, Tue, October 04, 2011 04:00 PM Comments: 101

Philadelphia Phillies (1-1) at St. Louis Cardinals (1-1)

Jaime Garcia, LHP vs. Cole Hamels, LHP

Time: 5:07 p.m., Busch Stadium
TV: TBS
Weather: Cloudy, 50
Media: Twitter and Facebook

Not that we’re recommending letting the Cardinals out to a 3-0 lead in the first, but both the Phillies (in Game 1) and Cards (in Game 2) spotted their opponents a 3-0 first-inning lead and came back to win. Just because something has happened a couple times in the past doesn’t make it likely to happen in the future.

That’s the message tonight for the Phillies, who face 25-year-old lefty Jaime Garcia. Garcia, in case you haven’t heard, is 2-1 with a career 1.20 ERA in six appearances and 30 innings pitched against the Phillies. Don’t get me wrong–Garcia is an excellent pitcher whose 143 ERA+ in 163 innings last year would have gotten him some serious Rookie of the Year love in any season that didn’t involve Jason Heyward and Buster Posey. But for all the fear that Garcia’s induced over recent days, it’s not time to shut down the carnival and unpack your Flyers gear just yet: remember, it’s still only 30 innings.

Besides, Cole Hamels is on the mound tonight.

Continue reading NLDS Game 3: Phillies (1-1) at Cardinals (1-1)

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Dr. Strangeglove: On Getting Everything You Want

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, September 30, 2011 07:00 AM Comments: 24

We all have expectations as sports fans, and as Phillies fans, I think our expectations were, by and large, rather similar going into 2011: don’t give up many runs, win the division, and go into the playoffs positioned to win another title.

As I said the other day, I don’t think we could have expected much more from La Furia Roja this season. And that leaves me in a curious emotional place going into the playoffs. For the first time I can remember, I’m nervous about the upcoming postseason.

I grew up in a time, as I’m sure many of you did, when the Phillies were awful. Really, unless you lived out ages 8-18 between 1975 and 1984, or between 2002 and 2011, the Phillies were most likely awful when you were growing up too. The idea that they’d win five straight division titles, or reel off 10 winning seasons and an 80-81 season in 11 years, or become the de facto Yankees of the National League–to say nothing of a certain World Series title–was up there with the ability to teleport on the list of things I’d love to see but had written off as impossible.

***

In a way, I loved the Phillies because they were miserable. It set me apart, I thought, from the kids for whom football season started in August and not the morning after the last game of the World Series, as it did for me. Baseball was this mythical thing to me, an arcane, pastoral, boring, game that I loved so much that I’d rather watch the team I loved play it badly rather than submit to the all-glowing, modern, and otherwise cool rule of the Eagles. I had fallen in love with the depth of the statistics and the magic (because there’s no more accurate word) of the mythology, history, and narrative of the game so much that I loved its biggest moments, even when they involved the Indians and Marlins.

Being a voracious reader and an avid baseball fan at age ten is like living in a C.S. Lewis novel. There’s always more to explore, more to learn. More history, more strategy, more mythology. And when that history–so often dominated by a handful of teams–intersected with the Phillies, I felt a special sense of pride. Ken Burns’ iconic Baseball documentary ran during the strike when I was seven years old, and my dad taped it and saved it. I could not tell you how many times I watched those tapes, and I can still recite certain lines from memory, but I always looked forward to the moment when they mentioned, for all of 15 seconds, that Pete Rose signed as a free agent with the Phillies and helped them to their only World Series title. It was the only time in the entire 18 1/2 hours that the Phillies were mentioned, by name, in a positive light. When the Phillies got on national TV, or were mentioned in the national media, I cherished the moment similarly. I still remember a Baseball Weekly cover in 2001, when the Phillies got hot out of the gate, that featured Travis Lee and Omar Daal.

Well, since 2005 or so, those rare moments have become commonplace. National media outlets discuss the Phillies repeatedly, and in glowing terms. My Lenny Dykstra shirsey isn’t the only piece of Phillies apparel you can see on the street anymore. There’s a new, expensive stadium, populated by cheering fans and some of the best ballplayers money can buy. And most importantly, I don’t have to pick a team, more or less at random, to root for in the postseason, the way I did once. My surrogate Orioles/Red Sox fandom is over. We are a part of baseball history every day, Ken Burns-style, and if you had told a certain thirteen-year-old boy who had watched his team lose 97 games and fire Terry Francona that all of this would come to pass, he would scarcely have believed you. From a baseball perspective, I’ve got everything I’ve ever wanted.

*** Continue reading Dr. Strangeglove: On Getting Everything You Want

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Phillies Chop Braves From Playoffs with 102nd Win

Posted by Michael Baumann, Wed, September 28, 2011 11:51 PM Comments: 38

Richie Ashburn Award: Chase Utley

This might be, without exaggeration, the single most dramatic day of regular-season baseball I’ve ever seen. I’d just like to put that out there and express how glad I was that the Phillies took part in the drama.

The Phillies get a franchise-record 102nd win. Charlie Manuel becomes the Phillies’ all-time winningest manager. Justin De Fratus gets his first major league win, and David Herndon grabs his first major league save. But most importantly, Atlanta completes a collapse so improbable it could propel the spaceship Heart of Gold. The Phillies sent the Braves to a 4-3 loss in 13 innings that, combined with the Cardinals’ win in Houston, will end the season for a certain collection of foam rubber tomahawk enthusiasts from Georgia. Continue reading Phillies Chop Braves From Playoffs with 102nd Win

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Oswalt Continues Tomahawk Choke

Posted by Michael Baumann, Tue, September 27, 2011 09:52 PM Comments: 20

Richie Ashburn Award: Roy Oswalt

So there’s no need to be worried about Roy Oswalt anymore. The righty, who has either been injured or spotty all season, turned in six stellar innings, allowing no runs and only four baserunners in six innings of work as the Phillies piled on the Braves, who dropped to 9-17 in September with the Cardinals (now even with the Braves after a 13-6 win in Houston half a game back and tied with Houston as I post this UPDATE: St. Louis has taken the lead, coming from down 5-0 to up 9-6 in the 7th) staggering at a slightly faster clip toward the finish line.

The 7-1 win featured a little something for everyone: apart from Oswalt, the Phillies got perfect innings of relief from Joe Savery and (more importantly) the heretofore unraveling Antonio Bastardo. Not only did Oswalt seem to have his velocity, command, and good off-speed stuff back, but Bastardo, who had been enduring about as bad a month as you could have asked for, looked rather like the classic Tony No-Dad in his inning of work. Kyle Kendrick allowed a towering home run to Martin Prado to lead off the ninth and break up the shutout, but I guess you can’t have everything. Continue reading Oswalt Continues Tomahawk Choke

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Dr. Strangeglove: One Chance in Three

Posted by Michael Baumann, Mon, September 26, 2011 08:00 AM Comments: 8

“You’re afraid of our fleet. Well, you should be. Personally, I’d give us one chance in three. More tea anyone?”

Sean Connery as Capt. Marko Ramius, The Hunt for Red October

I’ll go out and say it: I think the Phillies are the best team in the playoff hunt, and have been all year. It’s hard to imagine the possibility that their starting pitching wouldn’t carry them three-quarters of the way to a title, and the bullpen and offense will do as well as is needed. Here’s a warning: I’m about to say that it’s more likely than not that the Phillies, despite having assembled a great team and despite having embarked on a great season, will once again fall short of a World Series title. So if you reject that premise out of hand and can’t be bothered to read the argument behind it, you know where to go. But I’m not saying that to be all doom-and-gloom, or even because I’m worried by the recent eight-game losing streak (I’m not). I’m saying it because the facts support the argument.

If you asked me to bet money on any one team to win the World Series, I’d put it on the Phillies. They’ve got the best record, the best pitching staff, a pretty decent offense that has all its starters back for the first time in weeks, and the easiest road to the Fall Classic. The logical conclusion is that the Phillies would win, but because of the vagaries of small sample size and the whoopee cushions and banana peels that shroud playoff baseball year in and year out, nothing is for certain.

Am I optimistic? Sure. But there’s a long way to go. Just like the crew of the Red October, I give us….about one chance in three.

Continue reading Dr. Strangeglove: One Chance in Three

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Losing Streak Ends as Phillies Avenge Eagles

Posted by Michael Baumann, Sun, September 25, 2011 05:28 PM Comments: 7

Richie Ashburn Award: Hunter Pence

Photo Credit: Associated Press

The Phillies, fresh off an eight-game losing streak, won comfortably in the last game of their three-game series with the Mets, jumping all over Met starter Mike Pelfrey to salvage a split with today’s installment of the Philadelphia/New York rivalry.

Roy Halladay, pitching for the last time this regular season, was typically surgical in six innings of work, allowing no runs, four hits, and a walk while striking out three. Halladay threw only 77 pitches and faced one over the minimum through five, before pitching himself into and out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth.

Meanwhile, the Phillies scored in each of their first four innings, chasing Pelfrey after three innings and five runs before adding four more off D.J. Carrasco. Every Phillies starter, including Halladay, had at least one base hit, led by Hunter Pence, who went 3-for-5 with a triple, a home run, two runs scored, and three RBI. Jimmy Rollins had three singles and a stolen base, and scored twice, and John Mayberry, who pinch-ran for Ryan Howard in the fourth and stayed in to play first, reached base all three times he batted. Carlos Ruiz also had a great day, reaching base on all five plate appearances and driving in two runs. Continue reading Losing Streak Ends as Phillies Avenge Eagles

  • 7 Comments
 

Ugh

Posted by Michael Baumann, Sat, September 24, 2011 10:06 PM Comments: 27

For the first time since Terry Francona was manager, the Phillies are sitting on an eight-game losing streak as a doubleheader against the Mets that played more like a pair of split-squad spring training games went south, by a score of 2-1 this afternoon and 6-3 in the nightcap.

Game one of the doubleheader bore an eerie similarity to this game, where R.A. Dickey outdeuled Cole Hamels to the tune of a one-hit complete game shutout, with that one hit coming off Hamels’ bat. In this afternoon’s game, Dickey was perfect through five and hitless through six, but in the top of the seventh, Shane Victorino (batting right-handed against the knuckleballer) doubled with one out and was singled home by Ryan Howard on the next pitch.

But Hamels, who was himself excellent through six innings, allowed a game-tying home run to something called Valentino Pascucci in the bottom of the seventh, and in the next inning, Ruben Tejada and David Wright combined for a single, a double, and two stolen bases off of Brad Lidge, and while the Phillies made some noise off Mets reliever Manny Acosta in the top of the ninth, Acosta retired Carols Ruiz to end the game with the tying run on second and the winning run on first. Continue reading Ugh

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Gameday: Nationals (75-79) at Phillies (98-57)

Posted by Michael Baumann, Thu, September 22, 2011 05:57 PM Comments: 45

Washington Nationals (75-79) at Philadelphia Phillies (98-57)

Brad Peacock (1-0, 1.42) vs. Roy Oswalt (8-9, 3.66)

TIME: 7:05; Citizens Bank Park
TV: Comcast Sportsnet
Weather: Ungodly humid, 74
Media: Twitter and Facebook

I have a confession to make: despite possessing a fair bit of knowledge of the top minor league players of not only the Phillies but their National League rivals, and despite possessing an encyclopedic knowledge of major league journeymen and roster filler, I have no idea who Brad Peacock is. I know he’s starting for the Nationals tonight, and I know he’s right-handed and is listed at 6-foot-1, but I only know these things because I looked them up five minutes ago. I had never heard his name before listening to the latest FanGraphs podcast earlier this week. Brad Peacock could walk up to me on the street and stomp on my foot ten minutes from now, while wearing his Nationals jersey, and I wouldn’t know who he is. Continue reading Gameday: Nationals (75-79) at Phillies (98-57)

  • 45 Comments
 

Phils Lose, Still Screw Braves

Posted by Michael Baumann, Mon, September 19, 2011 10:07 PM Comments: 23

The Phillies announced a paid attendance of 45,048 for tonight’s game, and while those fans showed up tonight, the Phillies, division title in hand and two weeks to go on the season, really didn’t until the ninth inning, when a furious last-ditch comeback fell just short. La Furia Roja, to borrow a phrase from James Richardson of The Guardian, resembled a pair of pants and went down to defeat, this time by a score of 4-3. Of course, with the Cardinals offering a potentially easier first-round opponent than Milwaukee or Arizona come playoff time, and the Redbirds breathing down Atlanta’s neck for the Wild Card, losing 3 of 4 isn’t the worst-case scenario.

As the FanGraphs WPA chart illustrates, the Cards had this one in hand pretty much from start to finish. St. Louis tagged Roy Halladay for three runs in the first two innings, led by Lance Berkman‘s solo homer in the first and RBI single in the second. Halladay threw 107 pitches in eight innings, giving up four earned runs on six hits and an appalling (for Halladay) four walks. Former Phillie Nick Punto chipped in with an RBI in the first and a run scored on an Albert Pujols double in the seventh.

Ross Gload of all people led the offense with a 2-for-3 performance, and while the Phillies put at least one man on base in seven of their nine innings, they managed but one unearned run off Cardinals started Kyle Lohse, who dodged trouble for 7 1/3 innings. Continue reading Phils Lose, Still Screw Braves

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Gameday: Phillies (97-51) vs Cardinals (82-68)

Posted by Michael Baumann, Sat, September 17, 2011 06:00 PM Comments: 28

St. Louis Cardinals (82-68) at Philadelphia Phillies (97-52)

Jake Westbrook, RHP (12-8. 4.61) vs. Roy Oswalt, RHP (7-9, 3.88)

Time: 7:05, Citizens Bank Park
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 63
TV: PHL17
Media: Twitter and Facebook

What this game means depends largely on the outcome of the Mets-Braves game (currently in progress). If the Braves lose, the Phillies will have clinched their fifth (FIFTH!) straight division title, win or lose. If the Braves win, the Phillies will need to either win this game or wait until tomorrow night to try again.

But wait–what the Braves do probably affects St. Louis more than it does the Phillies, because if the Braves lose and the Cardinals win, not only will the Phillies clinch the division, but the Cards will pull to within 2 1/2 games of the wild card with 11 games to play, putting more pressure on an Atlanta team that has seemed a mortal lock to make the playoffs all season. Continue reading Gameday: Phillies (97-51) vs Cardinals (82-68)

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