2009 Recaps

Bats Silent as Blanton’s Notches Another Quality Start

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sat, May 08, 2010 07:10 PM Comments: 2

As the winds whipped through Citizens Bank Park, Joe Blanton whipped on the Braves early.  For the first five frames, Big Joe allowed just one hit and brushed off some bad luck in the first inning, when two errors and plunked batter loaded the bases.  Blanton escaped that jam, settled in, and rode easy until the 6th inning when the Braves struck for three runs on four hits to jump ahead. It was all Atlanta would need as they took Game 2 of the series, 4-1.

The stiff breeze out to right field swayed the flagpoles along Ashburn Alley, but also seemed to give Eric Hinske’s double in the sixth an extra kick in the rear, as it one-hopped the fence over Jayson Werth’s head. In any case – weather not withstanding – Blanton was his usual self going six innings with three earned, mixing in two walks and three strikeouts. It’s exactly what you expect from Heavy B, although it’s not quite on par with what the rest of the rotation has accomplished this past week. Still, it was plenty to keep the Phils in the game.

Pitching is great and everything but the offense has to show up, which it did not this afternoon. Phillies hitters stranded nine runners, making the box score look rather absurd.  Seven different Phils registered a hit, including three from today’s second baseman Placido Polanco, yet all they could show for it was a measly run and three double-plays. They managed 13 total baserunners on the day, but again struggled with RISP, going 1-for-8. For Polly, it was his 12th multi-hit performance in the first month of the season.

It’s a tough thing to watch when such a talented offense wastes precious opportunities with guys on second and third.  Normally, when the wind blows out to right field with such force, it’s a boon for the Phils – but not today.  The Phillies couldn’t muster an extra-base hit off the likes of Medlen, O’Flaherty, and Kimbrel, among others.

On the injury front, backup catcher Brian Schneider left the game with a left Achillies tendon strain. The results of his MRI are not yet known.  Carlos Ruiz came in to catch on a scheduled off day and went 1-for-2 with a single and a walk. With an already-thin bench, the loss of Schneider would be somewhat devastating.

Back to Blanton, who recorded a quality start.  Big Joe said after the game he’s right where he should be at this time of the year.  It wasn’t quite as dominating as Jamie Moyer’s last start, however, it was plenty to keep the Phils within striking distance.  They just couldn’t find the sticks.

Tomorrow, Cole Hamels will go up against Kenshin Kawakami in the rubber match at 1:35.

UPDATE: It’s been brought to my attention that Blanton’s first start was not a “quality start” (6 inn, 3ER). That’s correct, however, it’s still a quality outing for someone just coming off the disabled list. I stick by that.

Video Report coming soon…


Phillies Fall Short as Yankees win World Series

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, November 05, 2009 01:28 AM Comments: 209


Remember the chilly April, the awesome May, the blistering July, and the September that sealed it up.  Remember the death of a legend.  Remember the thrilling comebacks, the five all-stars, and a third straight division crown.  Remember the late night’s against the Rockies, the “Beat LA” chants, and everything in between.

Remember it all; store it away for the long, cold winter, because this year was a success no matter how you look at it.

The Philadelphia Phillies lost this game 7-3, and in the process relinquished their spot at the top.  However, they never stopped fighting.  From minute one of the 2009 season, this team has fought until it could no longer fight, and in this case, the final fight came in Game 6 of the World Series.

For the 27th time in their history, the New York Yankees took home the title, with Hideki Matsui taking the World Series MVP.  It was a hell of a series, and a hell of a season for the Yankees who finished with 114 wins combining the regular season and playoffs.  Phillies Nation congratulates them on fine season.

As for the Phillies, there will certainly be questions abound as to how things will change in the offseason.  The core of this team is intact for yet another run, so while this loss stings, they have the make up to do it one more time.

A wise man once said, “all good things come to an end.”  It’s an amazing feat that the Phillies made it back to the World Series a year after winning the whole thing.  Next year, this team will regroup and give it everything they have to try and get to yet another World Series.

To sum up this season, it’s hard to complain about what this club was able to accomplish.  Overall, 102 wins is nothing to shake a stick at, so cherish all of the great moments this 2009 Phillies team gave us.

The Phillies will be back next season, and with them will come the same tenacity, passion, and energy they brought for all of 2009.  High hopes, everyone.

See you boys next year. And to Phillies Nation, always remember.


Heartbreaking 9th Sends Phils to 3-1 Series Deficit

Posted by Pat Gallen, Mon, November 02, 2009 01:19 AM Comments: 343

This one is hard to write.

As the Phillies now sit on the brink of elimination – the season truly hanging in the balance – there are several what-if’s to look back on that occur throughout an at bat, a game, and even a series.  There were many throughout this gut-wrenching Game 4 loss that now has the Phillies in a 3-1 series hole.

What if Brad Lidge throws Johnny Damon a 3-2 slider after two consecutive foul balls on fastballs?  What if Lidge or Carlos Ruiz cover third as the rest of the Phils infield was in a shift?  What if – before this game even starts – Charlie Manuel tabs Cliff Lee to start this game?

All of those what-ifs are completely moot as the Yankees demolished any sort of hope the Phillies had of regaining momentum in this series by winning 7-4.

In the eighth inning, with the Phillies trailing 4-3, Pedro Feliz gave hope that this would again be the series everyone thought before it began by hitting a solo home run off of Joba Chamberlain.  With a tie game going into the ninth, and spirits high, the old Brad Lidge struck again.

Damon would come to the plate in that ninth inning following two quick outs; a pop out by Hideki Matsui and a strikeout by Derek Jeter.  Lidge found himself up in the count 1-2, but Damon waited out two pitches that were overthrown by the Phils closer, and the count was 3-2.  The Yankees left fielder then fouled off two pitches into the seats before finally catching up to a 94-m.p.h. four-seamer that dropped into left for a base hit.

Mark Teixeira came to the plate, and the shift was on for the Phillies defense.  Damon capitalized by stealing second base, then taking third after Lidge and Ruiz failed to cover the base.  Teixiera reached base after being plunked by Lidge and Alex Rodriguez stepped up in a most crucial position.

Rodriguez jumped on an 0-1 fastball and bounced it off the left field fence to score Damon.  The Feliz home run became a distant memory.

Jorge Posada followed that up with a two-run single of his own, and was thrown out at second base, although the damage was more than evident.  The Yankees took a 7-4 lead, and just like that, there was no air left to breathe.

The greatest closer of all-time, Mariano Rivera, came in to finish things off in the ninth inning as he has done so many times before.  Three straight putouts by Teixeira at first base ended things for the Phillies late on Sunday night, and possibly for the 2009 season.

Lost in the crushing defeat was the ballsy effort put forth by Joe Blanton.  Big Joe went six innings, giving up four earned runs while striking out seven batters.  He was not unhittable by any means, however, he kept them in the game, which is all you could ask for.  Chase Utley continued his domination of CC Sabathia, but in the end his solo home run was not enough.

Lidge’s meltdown is another perplexing reminder of just how quickly things can go south.  One day ago, we saw the same sort of disintegration from Cole Hamles.  The two darlings of the 2008 postseason have proven to be two of the Phillies Achillies Heels this year.

It’s not over, but it sure is close.  The Phillies pride themselves on being a resilient club, but games like these are daggers.  Do they have a three-game winning streak left in them?  The comeback begins tonight at 7:57.


Hamels, Bullpen Hammered; Yanks Take Series Lead

Posted by Jason Bintliff, Sun, November 01, 2009 12:43 AM Comments: 63

There are a few different players one can point to when placing blame regarding the Phillies 8-5 loss to New York. One however, sticks out like a very sore thumb.

Cole Hamels has struggled all season. Earlier in the year, after a less than stellar performance against the Marlins, mid-season, Hamels’  proclaimed, and I paraphrase, I will start to turn it on once the games become more important. So far this postseason, he has remained mediocre at his best and just plain bad at his worst. Perhaps the lights of the NLDS and the NLCS just weren’t bright enough for “Hollywood” to shine.

In Hamels biggest, most important game yet, Hamels again failed to dazzle. Lasting just 4.1 innings, Hamels allowed five runs on five hits. Hamels started the game looking good, allowing just one base-runner in the first three innings. Early on it appeared as if Cole had finally found a stage big enough to perform, however, after a walk to Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez took Hamels deep to right field, homering off the camera in a bomb that required instant replay to determine.

The Phillies offense got to Andy Pettitte early, scoring three in the second. Jayson Werth started the scoring with a solo shot to left. It was the third straight game in which the Phillies scored first. A Pedro Feliz double, a Carlos Ruiz walk, and a Cole Hamels bunt single and the Phillies had bases loaded with one out. Jimmy Rollins drew the walk to score Feliz and Victorino sacrificed to score Ruiz. After two innings, things looked bright as the Phillies were up three.

Aside from another solo blast from Werth and a late blast by Ruiz, the Phillies line-up lay dormant for the rest of the evening. More importantly, the Phillies 3-4 and 6 hitters (all lefties) went 0 for 12 with seven strike outs. Ryan Howard was the biggest culprit with three total. He is now batting .154 in the World Series after a torrid postseason.

Let’s not forget the bullpen which failed to keep the game within reach after Hamels left. Allowing dingers to both Nick Swisher and Hideki Matsui, they coughed up three runs in 4.2 innings of work.

In all, it was a collectively bad effort with little exception. It will gave the Phillies just their second loss at home in the playoffs over the past two seasons.

The Phillies will look to even the series tomorrow when they square off in Game Four. Game time is set for 8:20 pm and Joe Blanton will take the mound for the Phillies. A loss and the Phillies will find themselves with their backs placed squarely against the wall. C.C. Sabathia goes for the Yankees.


Phillies Dominate Game 1 Versus the Yankees

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, October 29, 2009 12:44 AM Comments: 22

Cliff Lee Cliff Lee.  That’s all you need to know about Game 1 of the 2009 World Series.  The Phillies ace absolutely shut down the Yankees and he did it with style.  He struck out 10 New York batters including Teixeira and Posada twice and ARod three times while not allowing a walk.  Lee also fielded his position with a coolness rarely seen on the mound.  An effortless pop fly was soon followed by an amazing behind-the-back stab to rob the Robinson Cano of a single.

Often times an early run helps to settle down an offense, but tonight the reverse was true. The Phillies pitcher set the tone for the club and the offense took advantage of opportunities.  Unfortunately the latter did not kick in until after the first inning.  Following two quick outs to start the game, the Phillies loaded the bases only to see Raul ground out to end the threat.  He was able to redeem himself with a bases loaded single in the eighth to tack  on some insurance runs.  Yet, Chase Utley was the only offense the Phillies needed.  The Man opened the scoring with a solo home run in the top of the third and reiterated the point with another in the sixth.

Throughout the game, the Phillies worked counts on Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia and inflated his pitch count from the beginning.  C.C. pitched well allowing just the 2 Utley homers over 7 innings, but he was outmatched by his friend Cliff Lee.  Joe Girardi was forced to dip into his bullpen calling on five  guys to finish the final three innings as the Phillies tacked on 4 runs in the eighth and ninth.  Phil Hughes took the brunt of the damage and lost his cool after being pulled on consecutive walks.

The Yankees lone run came after a JRoll error in the ninth as his timing was off attempting to turn a double play with Chase Utley.  Earlier in the game he executed an intelligent double play on an infield popup that momentarily confounded the six umpires.  Ben Francisco and Pedro Feliz were the only Phils without a hit.

If you missed the pregame festivities at the Stadium, you’re lucky.  Fans were subject to Star Wars-themed introductions and a torturous rendition of the national anthem.  That was the only part of the night that was hard to watch;  witnessing Cliff Lee’s masterpiece was a pleasure.  Phillies lead the World Series 1-0.


Phillies Beat Dodgers, Win NL Pennant!

Posted by Amanda Orr, Thu, October 22, 2009 12:56 AM Comments: 116


This doesn’t get old!  For the first time in franchise history, the Phillies win back-to-back National League pennants.  The Phillies 10-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers sends them back to the World Series!

Andre Eithier’s solo home run put the Dodgers on the board in the first, but Jayson Werth’s three-run shot in the bottom of the inning changed the entire atmosphere.  Werth, who smacked two home runs, tipped his cap and raised his arms to the fired up crowd after a long standing ovation.  That was the attitude for the rest of the game.  The Phillies took a 3-1 lead and didn’t look back.  Even when the Dodgers loaded the bases with nobody out in the eighth inning, there was no one doubted that the Phillies would win.

It wasn’t a good homecoming for Vicente Padilla, who allowed six runs, while the Phillies continued to tack on runs after his departure.  Pedro Feliz and Shane Victorino each homered and Raul Ibanez added a RBI double.  Victorino caught the final out as Carlos Ruiz and Brad Lidge rejoiced on the pitcher’s mound with the rest of the team joining them.

Cole Hamels, who looked shaky in his 4.1 innings, handed over his NLCS MVP to Ryan Howard.  Howard certainly earned the honor – driving in a run in eight consecutive games (though it ended on Wednesday). Howard batted .333 with two home runs and eight RBI during the League Championship series.

Simply put, this series was amazing.  Cliff Lee’s eight inning shutout and Jimmy Rollins’ walk-off are two of the top highlights to be remembered from one of the best postseason series in franchise history.  Celebrate Philadelphia, but we still need four more wins!


Phillies Stun Dodgers with Walk-off Win

Posted by Amanda Orr, Tue, October 20, 2009 01:00 AM Comments: 142

Never doubt this team.  The Phillies were down to their last out, but another clutch hit led to another stunning victory.  The 5-4 win gives the Phillies a 3-1 lead over the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series.

Ryan Howard continues to sizzle.  He greeted his former teammate Randy Wolf with a 2-run first inning home run.  The Big Piece tied Lou Gehrig for most consecutive postseason games with a run batted in.  Howard’s streak is more impressive because he did it in one year; Gehrig’s was over two years.  After the homer, Wolf settled in and retired 14 straight.

Joe Blanton had a similar streak, retiring the first ten batters he faced. He allowed a walk to Matt Kemp, and then the wheels fell off.  Two RBI singles tied the game in the fourth inning.  An inning later, Kemp homered to give the Dodgers the lead.  Blanton’s struggles questioned why Charlie Manuel did not lift Blanton for Happ.

Blanton’s line was decent: he allowed four runs (three earned) in six innings.  He gave up six hits, walked two and struck out two.  He was dominant until his pitches started to become flat, but it is also notable that the strike zone was consistently small.  But Blanton wasn’t the story.

Besides Howard’s homer, Wolf only gave up one more run (Chase Utley’s RBI single).  The Phillies had plenty of chances to score, but the Dodgers’ bullpen wiggled through jams.  The biggest opportunity came in the eighth inning.  With two on and one out, Howard struck out.  The Big Piece can’t always be the hero.

With two outs, a familiar face appeared on the mound: Jonathan Broxton.  Broxton was able to strand the runners by getting Jayson Werth to fly out.  The ninth inning was a different story — a story that would define this Phillies ball club.  With one out, Matt Stairs was called upon to pinch hit for Pedro Feliz.  With game four of the 2008 NLCS fresh in mind, Broxton did not give in to Stairs. Following Stairs’ walk, Carlos Ruiz was plunked.

Greg Dobbs made the second out on a soft liner.  The crowd that had been silent for most of the evening had all eyes on Jimmy Rollins.  And boy did he deliver.  Rollins smashed Broxton’s 1-1 offering into the right center field gap.  Eithier chased, but Eric Bruntlett scored easily.  Ruiz scored from first, sliding into home safely without a play at the plate.

Rollins was deservedly mobbed by his teammates, but the bullpen deserves some credit too.  The ‘pen threw three scoreless innings.  Brad Lidge earned the win, striking out two batters in 2/3 of an inning.

This game will go down as one of the most unbelievable endings in postseason history.  Jonathan Broxton blew game four of the National League Championship Series, and Cole Hamels will be on the mound for game five.  Sound familiar?  This is what October is all about.


UnbeLEEvable; Phils Offense, Lee Overpower Dodgers

Posted by Jason Bintliff, Sun, October 18, 2009 11:38 PM Comments: 59

In a world that sometimes lends itself to feast or famine, the Phillies certainly dug into a smorgasbord Sunday night as they crushed the Dodgers, 11-0,  to take a two games to one series lead.

After scoring just one run on Friday in a loss to the Dodgers, the Phillies bats exploded scoring four first-inning runs courtesy of a two-run triple from “the Big Piece” Ryan Howard and a two-run bomb to center from Jayson Werth.

The onslaught continued throughout the game as the Phillies managed to put up the crooked number three more times, including two runs in the second, two in the fifth, and three in the eighth.

If you’re looking for a offensive standout, take your pick as every player in the starting line-up scored at least one run.  Raul Ibanez was the only Phillies starter to not record a hit in the ball game.

Both Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino homered, Carlos Ruiz and Jimmy Rollins each had doubles. Ruiz’s torrent streak has been one of the keys to the Phillies success so far this postseason. “Chooch” is now batting a ridiculous .625 in this series and  has seven R.B.I.’s throughout the playoffs.

Also of note on the offensive side of the ball, Howard set a Major League record in the first inning with an R.B.I. in his seventh consecutive postseason game, when all games came in the same season. The overall record is held by Lou Gehrig, who had ribbies in eight consecutive games, spanning three years.

Lost in the offensive beat-down was a masterful, eight inning performance from Cliff Lee. Lee was untouchable allowing  just three hits, two to Manny Ramirez, all while sitting down ten on strikeouts. Despite coming to the plate in the eighth inning(an at-bat in which he roped a single), his 114 pitches tossed were just a bit too much to allow Lee to finish the complete game shut-out.

The hostile Philly crowd set the tone early with “Beat L.A.!” chants heard from the on-set. The Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda looked startled and the cold northeastern air seemed to stiffen his hurt neck. The Phillies wasted no time jumping on Kuroda and chased him in the second inning.

Both teams resume play Monday night, another 8:07 start. The Phillies will look to extend their series lead.


Phillies Stun Rockies, Clinch NLDS

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, October 12, 2009 10:42 PM Comments: 117

Take a deep breath Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Phillies clinched the National League Division Series with their 5-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies.  Just when all life was sucked out, the Phillies dramatically rallied in the ninth inning.

Cliff Lee was spectacular.  In 7.1 innings, Lee allowed three runs (1 earned).  He gave up five hits, walked three, and struck out five.  However, his dominant performance diminished when Ryan Madson came into relieve in the eighth.

Shane Victorino started the scoring with a solo shot in the first inning.  Jayson Werth’s home run in the sixth inning made it 2-0.  Troy Tulowitzki cut the lead in half with a RBI double against Lee in the bottom half of the sixth.

Lee started the eighth inning, but was replaced by Ryan Madson after the circus came to town.  Dexter Fowler reached with a walk.  Todd Helton hit a soft grounder to Chase Utley who reached out to tag Fowler, but he went airborne, leaping over Utley.  Utley flipped to Rollins at second, but he missed the catch.  Everybody was safe, and  Madson entered with one out as part of a key double switch.  Ben Francisco entered the game for Raul Ibanez and made a terrific diving catch, robbing Tulowitzski.

With two outs, Madson could see his way out of the inning.  How quickly a stellar performance from Lee and an amazing catch were erased.  Jason Giambi’s RBI single tied the game.

Yorvit Torrealba caused the Phillies a lot of trouble, homering off Cole Hamels earlier in the series.  He struck again, ripping the hearts out of Philadelphia fans all across the country with a two-run, go-ahead double that left him dancing for joy on second base.

It seemed as if the game was over – get ready for game five, they said.  The Phillies stranding the bases loaded twice proved to be too costly.  And why didn’t Charlie Manuel keep Lee in?  Well, let’s not forget the Phillies led the league in come from behind wins in 2009.  Once again, they showed their resilience.

With two outs in the ninth inning and Shane Victorino on second, Chase Utley drew a walk against closer Huston Street.  Then, Ryan Howard clobbered Street’s 2-1 offering over the head of Carlos Gonzalez.  Victorino rounded third, but missed the bag.  As he went back to tag, he saw Utley hot on his heels.  Victorino and Utley scored in sequence, tying the game at four.  Jayson Werth followed with a RBI single, giving the Phillies a 5-4 lead.

It was not Brad Lidge who started the ninth, but Scott Eyre.  Eyre rolled his ankle on Sunday night, but that did not stop the lefty from getting two quick outs.  He allowed two runners, which left it was up to Lidge to seal the deal.  He did as  Tulowitzski chased a nasty slider to end the game.

This game – and this entire series – will go down in the books as one of the greatest match-ups in Phillies franchise history.  The Rockies played the Phillies tough, but luckily the Phillies finished on top.  Los Angeles Dodgers, we’ll meet again on Thursday.


Phillies Take Series Lead 2-1

Posted by Jason Bintliff, Mon, October 12, 2009 02:57 AM Comments: 71

Exhale Philadelphia. You may now take a deep breath and sleep well. At 2:14 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, your Fightin’ Phils beat the Rockies 6-5, in a game for the ages, a thriller in the Mile-High City. They now hold a two games to one lead over the Rox in the best of five series.

Chase Utley got the party started in the top half of the first with a solo-shot to right-center, to give the Phillies the early lead. But the Rockies would certainly answer back in the bottom half of the frame with two runs of Phillies starter J.A. Happ.

Happ never looked comfortable in the cold, as he went just three innings, giving up three earned runs on five Rockies hits. He walked two. Joe Blanton would enter the game in the fourth inning and gave up one run to the Rockies in 2.2 innings.

Colorado led the Phillies 3-1 in the fourth and starter Jason Hammel had shut the Phillies down with the exception of Utley’s long-ball. Shane Victorino led the inning off with a walk and Utley followed with a single to right field. Ryan Howard followed Utley’s hit with a single of his own, scoring Victorino. After Jayson Werth walked to load the bases, Raul Ibanez drew his first walk of the evening, scoring Utley to tie the game at three.

After a Pedro Feliz double-play, with no outs, Carlos Ruiz gave the Phillies the lead with a single through the hole at short.

The Rockies would fight back and tie the game off of Blanton before Ruiz played hero again with a single up the middle to score Raul Ibanez.

The Rockies would get the equalizer in the bottom half of the seventh off of Ryan Madson courtesy of a sacrifice fly. The run was charged to Scott Eyre who left the game after injuring what appeared to be his ankle while fielding a bunt from the Rockies Dexter Fowler. There has been no word on the severity of the injury, however, Eyre was able to walk off on his own.

The game remained knotted at five until the top of the ninth. Jimmy Rollins, who had been 0-4 up to that point, worked a lead-off single. After being sacrificed to second on a Victorino bunt, Utley moved him to third on a swinging bunt single up the first base line. Replays later showed that the ball hit Utley in the batters box and should have been ruled a foul ball, however, Utley reached safely.

Ryan Howard then hit a long fly ball to center-field, scoring Rollins, giving the Phillies the 6-5 lead off of Rockies closer Houston Street.

Brad Lidge entered the game in the ninth and got the lead-off batter to ground out to second. The next batter Carlos Gonzalez then walked and swiped second base, putting the tying run in scoring position. Jason Giambi followed with a pop out to third and then Todd Helton drew the walk to put the winning run on base with superstar short stop Troy Tulowitzki at the plate.

While those still awake in the Delaware Valley were chewing on copious amounts of antacids, Brad Lidge put the stomach acids at ease, forcing Tulowitzki to pop out to Ben Francisco to end the game.

The Phillies will look to clinch the series and move onto the NLCS tomorrow when they take on Colorado in game four. That game is scheduled to start a 5:30 p.m.  Eastern Standard Time.

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