2009 Recaps

Kendrick, Pedro Shine in DH Sweep of Mets

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sun, September 13, 2009 11:45 PM Comments: 82

Philadelphia Phillies' Kyle Kendrick pitches in the second inning of game one of a baseball double header against the New York Mets, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)It could have easily been a four-game sweep.  Instead, the Phillies will have to settle for three out of four over the New York Mets.

In Game 1 of the day-night doubleheader, memories of Saturday evening were still fresh in the minds of those in attendance.  Victory had been snatched out of thin air, as Ryan Madson gave up a two-out, two-run jack to David Wright, allowing the Mets to prevail 10-9.

On Sunday afternoon, the most impressive performance came from spot starter, Kyle Kendrick.  Pitching in place of the injured J.A. Happ, Kendrick pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing two earned runs over seven hits. You couldn’t ask for anything more than the quality start put forth by the long-forgotten righty.  His poised outing certainly gave the faithful a sliver of peace following the previous meltdown.

In the midst of Kendrick’s intriguing showing, the offense continued to use the long ball to their advantage.  Before the big flies came, Ryan Howard drove in the first run of the game with an RBI double to right field off of Mets starter John Maine.

With two down in the fourth inning, Ben Francisco, starting in place of Jayson Werth, blasted a homer into the left field seats that put the Phils up 2-0.  Shane Victorino followed that up an inning later with a two-run home run to push that lead to four.

In the eighth inning, the Mets began to chip away.  After Kendrick gave up a one out single to Angel Pagan, shortstop Anderson Hernandez jumped on a 1-1 fastball and nailed it into the bullpen.  The moans and groans, and thoughts of “here we go again” no doubt popped up throughout Citizens Bank Park as the Mets cut it to 4-2.

Kendrick departed after the Hernandez blast, giving the ball off to the steady Tyler Walker.  Walker did his part in keeping the lead at two, as he got Wright to ground out and Daniel Murphy to pop out to end the half inning.

Then, the palpitations began in sync, as the 45,024 knew exactly what was coming. An insurance run in the eighth paved the way for Brad Lidge. The frustrating closer came on in the ninth inning, eager to alleviate some of the pressure on him and the rest of the bullpen for their late-game inadequacies.  He ended up with a save, but in the process did little to win back the confidence of the fan base.

With one on and one out, Josh Thole singled to right field, scoring Jeff Francouer, and instantly the bulls eye was back on Lidge.  Luis Castillo struck out, but Jeremy Reed sent Thole home on another single.  With the Phils holding a 5-4 lead, and the capacity crowd doing the same with their collective breath, Lidge got Angel Pagan to strikeout swinging.

Lidge finished things off, but again in heart stopping fashion.  With the Phillies 5-4 win, they jumped ahead of the Marlins by six games as Washington defeated Florida.  However, the anemic relief corps are turning every game into a circus.

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Pedro Martinez reacts after the eighth inning of the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the New York Mets, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2009, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 1-0. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)Game 2 provided much of what we’ve become accustomed to; little offense, solid starting pitching, but worrisome anticipation leading into the later innings.

The starting pitching match up was reminiscent of two aces going toe to toe.  Instead, it was dueling fifth starters Pedro Martinez and Tim Redding firing on all cylinders, foiling the opposition with old school trickery and excellent pitch location.

Redding absolutely owns the Phillies over his career, having won five of his 36 career wins against the homeboys. In 13 career starts against the Fightin’s, the journeyman starter has an ERA of 3.13, nearly two runs lower than his overall total.  It was no different on Sunday night, either.

The 31-year old went six innings, allowing one run on a long RBI single to Chase Utley that should have scored more than one, had there not been a base running blunder by Jimmy Rollins. Unfortunately for Redding, Pedro was at his very best, continuing his streak of quality performances in red pinstripes.

Martinez chucked a season-high 130 pitches through eight scoreless frames, finagling his way out of a few jams, all while proving his 37-year old arm still has plenty of ammunition left.  His final line: eight innings, six hits, no runs, two walks, and seven strikeouts. Perhaps realizing that a strong final month could pay dividends when it comes to free agency in the winter, Pedro took the ball and performed magic.

On his 130th pitch of the night, with David Murphy at second base, Pedro threw a breaking ball in the dirt that Ruiz blocked beautifully, collected, and gunned down Murphy as he tried to take third.  The Bank erupted as Feliz applied the tag, and in the process, put Martinez in the running for a spot in the playoff rotation.

With a 1-0 lead and three outs remaining, Ryan Madson became the anchor and did not finish without incident.  After a quick two-pitch ground out by Jeremy Reed (aided by a beautiful play by Ryan Howard), Brian Schneider looped a single into right-centerfield to jack the collective pulse of the second sellout crowd of the day.

But with a runner on, Madson was able to close the door by striking out Francouer and getting Pagan to line out to Feliz, putting a bow on a hard fought series.  And although Madson pitched well to seal the deal, uncertainty is still very much present.

Three out of four ain’t bad, especially at this point in the season. With that said, a four game sweep was well within reach, and it was the bullpen that allowed it to slip away.  The only thing Charlie Manuel and his crew can do is keep trying to find the hot hand to close it out and hope that it works on that given night.

On this day, it was about the incredible start by our dear, old friend, Kyle Kendrick.  On this night, it was about the revival of one of the greatest pitchers of our lifetimes, Pedro Martinez.  All in all, it equaled a sweep of the day, and a six-and-a-half game lead over the Marlins in the NL East.


Phils, Hamels Take Down the Mets

Posted by Jason Bintliff, Fri, September 11, 2009 10:28 PM Comments: 29

In the month of September, every game is huge. Each game’s importance is magnified as teams jockey for position and make their final push for October. When it’s all said and done, fans often point to the little things that helped get you over the hump, that put you in the position to make a run at the title. Tonight’s game was one of those little things.

The Phillies defeated the Mets tonight 4-2 and did it in uncharecteristic fashion, they played a little bit of small ball.

With twelve hits, the Phillies were able to push four runs across the plate, enough to secure Cole Hamels ninth win of the season. Hamels is now 9-9 this season and his ERA has dropped to 4.21.

Hamels looked good, going 6.2 innings, allowing only one run, while striking out six. His stuff wasn’t over-powering as he scattered seven hits, but it was just good enough to beat a team sinking further and further out of playoff contention.

At the dish the Phillies bats came to life as they banged out 12 hits, yet still failed in clutch situations, hitting just 4 for 19 with runners in scoring position. Their 13 runners left on base matched a season high.

Shane Victorino carried the offense, going 3 for 3 with two walks, three doubles, and a run scored. His effort lifted his average back over .300.Carlos Ruiz also chipped in, knocking in and scoring a run with a hit and two walks.

The Phillies also got doubles from Raul Ibanez, Chase Utley, and Pedro Feliz.

Despite notching a win in the contest, questions still linger as to whether the line-up has snapped it’s recent slump. The Phillies reached base in every inning and again, had 12 hits, yet only scored four runs. Timely hitting will make or break you in the post-season and the Phillies were lucky they didn’t fall victim to the Rays in the World Series when the Phillies set a record for futility with runners in scoring position. They won’t get that lucky again.

Also notable was Ryan Madson’s third straight save. He did give up a run in the ninth, but indifference allowed that run to score as the Phillies gladly traded it for the two outs recieved on the double-play.

The Phillies and Mets go at it again tomorrow, playing in front of a national crowd in game two of the four-game series. Should the Phillies take three of four from the Mets, they will mathematically eliminate them from the postseason.

Also with a Marlins loss to the Nationals, the Phils move ahead six games over the second place Fish.


Blown Away, Again

Posted by Jason Bintliff, Sat, September 05, 2009 10:35 PM Comments: 66

With one out and the bases loaded, via two walks from closer Brad Lidge and a Chris Coste good-to-see-you-again single, the Phillies were about to narrowly escape with a win after Ryan Howard fielded a ground ball and threw home for the force out preventing the tying run from scoring.

But the Phillies comeback just wasn’t meant to be.

With the bases still full, the Astros’ Kaz Matsui delivered a two-run, game winning single, while Brad Lidge delivered the Phillies his tenth blown save of the season. Final score, 5-4 in favor of the Astros.

Because Chase Utley sat with a swollen foot, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had to find other means to revive a flat-lined offense. With his choices limited, Manuel juggled the line-up a bit, batting Shane Victorino lead-off, Jayson Werth in the two-hole, and Jimmy Rollins third in the order. Although the switch-up didn’t help Victorino or Werth’s recent struggles, it did get the offense moving in the right direction.

For the most part, Astros starter Roy Oswalt had the Phillies line-up tied in knots. Oswalt struck out eight in 6.1 innings before finishing the contest early with tightness in his lower back. Oswalt had held the Phillies off of the board to that point, but left the game responsible for two runners on in the seventh inning which both scored.

After getting on the board in the seventh off of Astros reliever Tim Byrdak, the Phillies tied the game in the eighth when Jimmy Rollins scored on a Ryan Howard triple. Pedro Feliz singled Ryan Howard home to give the Phils the lead.

The offense still looked shaky, but was able manufacture four runs, breaking a scoreless streak that started Thursday when they beat the San Francisco Giants 2-1.

Phillies starter Joe Blanton had yet another quality start, going six innings, allowing three runs on six hits, while striking out five. Blanton didn’t look crisp, but kept the game close enough for the Phillies to claw back.

Chan Ho Park pitched a scoreless seventh, and Brett Myers returned to action, recording the hold, by pitching a scoreless eighth. Myers looked amped up on adrenaline as he walked the first batter he faced and fell behind the second batter Carlos Lee 2-0, before getting him to fly out.

A Marlins win over the Nationals this evening puts the Fish just 6.5 games back on the Phillies. Meanwhile, the Braves lost to Cincinnati and remain 8.5 out in the division.


The Old Goat Beats The Freak

Posted by Amanda Orr, Thu, September 03, 2009 10:22 PM Comments: 44

Pedro Martinez is a three-time Cy Young Award winner.  In his young career, Tim Lincecum already has one and is a legitimate contender for the award this season.  Both pitchers proved why they have trophies on their mantles, but the Old Goat out-dueled The Freak.

On the very first pitch of the game, Eugenio Velez sent a fly ball into the right-center field seats.  The Giants don’t need much run support when Tim Lincecum is on the mound, who previously shutout the Phillies.

In the second inning, Jayson Werth hit his 30th home run of the year, an upper deck moonshot to left.  The pitching took care of the rest.

Pedro struck out seven betters through the first three innings.  He finished with nine strikeouts in seven innings.  He allowed only one run on five hits.  He did not walk a batter.

Lincecum was just as impressive, striking out eleven in seven innings.  He gave up four hits and walked one, but Ryan Howard came up with the biggest hit of the night.

Chase Utley was plunked, which was followed by Howard’s double into the right-center field gap.  Utley hustled around the bases, scoring the go-ahead run.

It hasn’t been easy when the game is left to the back end of the bullpen.  Ryan Madson pitched a quick eighth inning, and it was up to Brad Lidge.

Lidge was able to get two quick outs and jump ahead 0-2 against Randy Winn, but Winn squeaked a single past the glove of a diving Chase Utley. Juan Uribe walked, and all of a sudden the go-ahead run was on base.  Fred Lewis chopped a ball to second, but Utley played it perfectly and tagged out Uribe.  Lidge secured his 28th save of the year, and third in a row. 

The game flew, lasting only two hours and eight minutes.  If you prefer pitchers’ duels over slug-fests, then this was the series for you.  Thanks to a stellar performance from a future Hall of Famer, the Phillies took the rubber-match of the series, 2-1.  The Phillies only scored three runs during the entire series, but it was enough to take two out of three games.


Phillies Can’t Buy A Run

Posted by Amanda Orr, Wed, September 02, 2009 10:19 PM Comments: 67

What comes around goes around.  Last night, Cole Hamels pitched a complete game shutout against the San Francisco Giants.  Tonight, the Giants shutout the Phillies, 4-0.

You know your offense is going bad when the telecast finds a shot Jupiter before any runs are scored.  Perhaps that is where the Phillies offense went.  They’ve scored only 11 runs in the last six games.  They were shutout for the fifth time this season.  The last time they were shutout was on August 1, against tomorrow’s starter, Tim Lincecum.

J.A Happ didn’t necessarily pitch poorly, although he did give up four runs for the first time since July 24, when he allowed five runs against St. Louis.  He played Houdini for the first four innings, but ran into trouble in the fifth and sixth.

Andres Torres did what the Phillies did not do: drive in a runner in scoring position.  In the fifth inning, the Giants took a 1-0 lead with his RBI single up the middle.  Juan Uribe and Aaron Rowand hit back-to-back home runs in the sixth extending the lead to 4-0.

Happ’s line: 6 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO.

Brad Penny returned to the National League in grand fashion,  pitching eight scoreless innings.  He gave up five hits, walked one, and struck out two.  He was able to get the Phillies to ground out 13 times, including two double play balls.  Penny, who was cut by the Red Sox, has not lasted eight innings since 2007.

There’s no denying that the Phillies offense is in a major funk.  Luckily, the pitching has kept them close during the rough patch. It’s cliche, but you can’t win if you don’t score.


Cole’s Back

Posted by Amanda Orr, Tue, September 01, 2009 10:24 PM Comments: 86

He’s back.  It has been a roller coaster season for the lefty, but the 2008 version of the NLCS and World Series MVP showed up today.  Cole Hamels pitched a complete game shutout en route to a Phillies 1-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants.  It is the first time all season that the Phillies won a one to nothing game.

In a game that lasted only two hours and twenty minutes, Hamels and Jonathan Sanchez worked a pitchers’ duel, but it was Hamels who won the battle. 

About 46% of the time, the Phillies rely on the long ball.  Tonight, they played small ball.  Shane Victorino flared a single, stole second, and advanced to third on a ground out.  Ryan Howard’s RBI double down the right field line scored Victorino.  It was plenty of support for a dealing Hamels.

In most of his starts, Hamels lacked location of his fastball. Tonight, he was in complete control, getting ahead of hitters.  With the command of his fastball, he was able to throw his changeup effectively, and boy was it effective.  He struck out nine, and at one point retired 21 straight.  He allowed only two hits, a career best.  He walked one.

Heck, Hamels even stole a bag, becoming the first pitcher since Curt Schilling in 1997 to do so.

As Tom McCarthy told our own Pat Gallen in today’s Phillies Nation podcast, Hamels was working on his pick-off move.  Practice makes perfect and the hard work payed off.  Rich Aurilia greeted Hamels with a single in the ninth inning.  With a big hacker in Pablo Sandoval at the plate, pinch runner Andres Torres attempted to steal.  Hamels had him picked off, but it was up to Howard to make a perfect throw.  Howard normally has trouble throwing, but this time he threw a strike to second base, gunning down Torres.

Edgar Renteria popped up to Howard in foul territory to end the game and secure Hamels’ fourth career complete game shutout. 

Hamels has now thrown 19 scoreless innings.  As it gets closer to the postseason, this is the Cole Hamels the Phillies need and the Cole Hamels we all expect to see.


Lee Has Worst Start Since Joining Phillies

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sat, August 29, 2009 11:53 PM Comments: 21

It turns out that Cliff Lee is human after all.  Since joining the Phillies, Lee has dominated by going deep into games and not allowing any more than two runs in each start.  When he is handed the ball, a win is expected as he fills fans with confidence.  Saturday was a different story.

The start of the game was delayed about 25 minutes due to rain.  Once the game got underway, Chase Utley smacked his 28th home run of the year to put the Phillies on the board.

Entering the game, Lee hadn’t allowed a home run as a Phillie.  His ERA was a minuscule 0.68.  Those numbers quickly changed.  Garrett Anderson’s three-run home run in the fourth inning put the Braves ahead.  It was the first home run Lee allowed since July 21.  Matt Diaz and Yunel Escobar also homered, adding to the lead.  It was the first time since 2007 that Lee gave up multiple home runs in a game, let alone three. 

In his shortest outing as a Phillie, Lee was finished after five innings.  All six runs he allowed were earned.  He gave up ten hits and struck out five.  His ERA dramatically increased to 1.80 with Philadelphia, and 2.83 on the season.

If it was any indication, Lee gave up an unusual lead-off single to Diaz to open the game.  Lee gets into trouble when he surrenders too many hits; that was the case tonight.  The Braves did an excellent job of slowing down the quick worker by stepping out of the box and taking pitches.

Other than Utley’s homer, the Phillies offense was silenced by Lowe.  Improving to 6-1 lifetime against the Phillies, the sinker-baller continues to have success against them.  As a home run hitting team, the offense generally does not have success against most sinker ball pitchers.

The offense had many chances, but went 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.  In addition, they left 12 men on base.  Even when they were trailing 9-1, they had a perfect opportunity with the bases loaded any nobody out.  Whatever the case may be, this team can not produce runs when runners are past first base.  They’re heavily relying on the long ball.

The Braves added a few more runs off the bullpen, but the rain came down in buckets during the eighth inning to force another delay.  As a swimming pool formed in the outfield, the decision was finally made to call the game.  The 9-1 loss puts the Braves seven games behind the Phillies in the National League East.


Rain Delay Specialist Earns the Victory

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sat, August 29, 2009 12:30 AM Comments: 42

Call him the “Rain Delay Specialist.”  It was deja vu for Jamie Moyer, who relieved after Pedro Marinez’s start was shortened due to rain.  Thanks to Moyer, two Ryan Howard home runs, and a 1-2-3 Brad Lidge save, the Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves, 4-2.

After Martinez completed two scoreless frames, Howard hit an opposite field home run through the rain drops.  With the rain falling at a steady pace, the tarp rolled out.  After a brief delay, the tarp was removed even though it was raining heavier.  The remainder of the inning was finished, but the tarp was put back on.  A total of one hour and 48 minutes were delayed because of inclement weather.

Rain continued to fall throughout the evening, but not enough to pause play.  Out of the bullpen, Moyer did his job.  He pitched 4.1 innings, allowing one run on Matt Diaz’s RBI double.  He gave up four hits and struck out five.  Since being demoted to the bullpen, Moyer has given up one run in 10.1 innings.  He has struck out ten and hasn’t walked a batter.

Howard (3-for-3) homered again, his 37th of the year. This time it was a two-run shot to center field.  Pedro Feliz added a RBI bloop single in the seventh inning.  With a 4-1 lead, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge would have to close it out.

Ryan Madson got into a jam.  He surrendered one run after allowing three hits and a walk.  Adam LaRoche flied out for the final out of the inning, and the birthday boy escaped the bases loaded threat.  There was only hope that Lidge would not blow his Major League leading tenth blown save.

With two quick outs, Lidge fell behind 2-0 to Diaz.  He came back firing.  Diaz chased the 2-2 slider, ending the game.  Lidge secured his 26th save of the year.  The win over the Braves extended the Phillies lead in the division to eight games.


Pirates Take Series With Late Comeback

Posted by Amanda Orr, Thu, August 27, 2009 10:35 PM Comments: 63

The Pittsburgh Pirates have nothing to play for.  Being in last place (19 games under .500, 19 games back), the Pirates can only play spoiler.  The Phillies swept the Pirates in July, but the Pirates wanted redemption.  They welcomed in the reigning World Champs, and embarrassed them. 

The Phillies had an excellent opportunity to knock around Charlie Morton right from the chute. The Phillies only had one run to show in a bases loaded, nobody out situation.  Ryan Howard’s RBI ground out put the Phillies on the board, but Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez each popped out to end the threat.  The Phillies added another run in the second inning on Paul Bako’s (2-2, 2 BB) homer.

Andrew McCutchen greeted J.A Happ with a lead-off home run.  After that, Happ didn’t allow anything– until the eighth inning.

The Phillies learned about Garrett Jones at Citizens Bank Park, when he homered in each game of a three game series.  With two outs in the eighth, he struck again.  His two-run homer to center field gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead.

Other than the two homers, Happ pitched well.  He pitched eight innings giving up three runs on seven hits.  He walked two and struck out four.

With a struggling closer in Matt Capps, the Phillies had an opportunity to take the lead in the top of the ninth.  Matt Stairs represented the go-ahead run, but he’d have to snap an 0-for-24 streak .  The last time he had gotten a hit was on July 11, when he homered against Capps.  It wasn’t meant to be, because although he swung for the fences, he struck out.

Jimmy Rollins grounded out to end the game.  The offense struggled all series long.  When the Phillies bats are hot, they’re on fire.  When they’re cold, they’re frozen.  The offense has been very streaky and they’ve become too reliant on the home run.  

Expecting to sweep, the Phillies learned they can not take the Pirates lightly. With the 3-2 loss, the Phillies now have a record of 9-13 at PNC Park since 2002.  The Phillies have a history of falling to bad teams, but they still have a comfortable lead in the division.


Howard Provides the Difference

Posted by Amanda Orr, Wed, August 26, 2009 11:11 PM Comments: 92

For some reason, Ryan Howard can’t hit at PNC Park.  Entering tonight’s game, the slugger batted .167 there.  His average may not have raised much, but he provided the biggest, and most important hit of the night.

Chase Utley’s solo home run in the first inning immediately put the Phillies on the board.  The Phillies have homered in the first inning in four consecutive games.  It was awhile before another run would cross the plate.

Cole Hamels finally put together a solid outing.  He pitched eight shutout innings, but did allow many base runners.  He allowed seven hits, walked two, and hit a batter.  He managed to escaped the jams without problems.  Paul Maholm pitched just as well.  In seven innings, he gave up one run on five hits.  He walked two, struck out four, and was able to get the Phillies to ground out eleven times.

With a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth, the Phillies would have liked to add on.  With runners on second and third and nobody out, the Pirates wiggled out of a potential big inning.  Joel Hanrahan struck out Ben Francisco and Pedro Feliz.  He intentionally walked pinch hitter Raul Ibanez to get to a slumping Matt Stairs.  Stairs was ahead 3-0, but Hanrahan fought back, getting Stairs to ground out.

Brad Lidge received the day off since he pitched in four straight games.  Ryan Madson took over, and struck out Steve Pearce to start the inning, topping at 99 mph.  A sign of relief?  Not so much.  The next batter, Brandon Moss, homered to center field, tying the game at one.  For the second day in a row, the Phillies blew a save to the Pirates.

Unlike Lidge, Madson was able to keep the game tied and give the bats, which were silent all night, a chance in the tenth.

Jimmy Rollins walked and Shane Victorino singled.  With Rollins at third, Utley hit a fly ball to center, deep enough for Rollins to score.  Holding up at third, Rollins didn’t take a chance. On the very first pitch to Ryan Howard, Rollins trotted home.  Howard hit a towering drive to right field; a three-run go-ahead home run.

Madson came back out for the bottom of the tenth.  He allowed a lead-off single, but Chase Utley ended the game by turning a fantastic double play on a ball that deflected off the mound.

The game moved along quickly as Maholm and Hamels took part in a pitchers’ duel.  But it was Ryan Howard who provided the difference in the Phillies 4-1 win over the Pirates.

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