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2010 Gameday

Questionable Decisions Have Phils Facing Elimination

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, October 21, 2010 12:33 AM Comments: 37

Devastating. Excruciating. Mind-blowing. Baffling.

Those are just some of the words that come to mind after the Giants put a stranglehold on the 2010 National League Championship.

With the swing of the bat, Juan Uribe’s sacrifice fly put the Phillies back against the wall, giving San Francisco a 6-5 win in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Let the second guessing of Charlie Manuel begin. Joe Blanton was pulled from Wednesday’s night game after going 4 2/3 innings, allowing three runs and throwing just 63 pitches. While Blanton didn’t have his best stuff, he did what he normally does: kept the Phillies in the game. However, Manuel’s decision to pull the rotund righty opened Pandora’s Box.

If the leash was so short on Blanton, then why not just pitch Roy Halladay on short rest? A decision that became even more perplexing when it was Roy Oswalt who came out of the bullpen to pitch the bottom of the ninth. While many will answer that it won’t affect his potential Game Six start, what would have happened if Oswalt would have gotten out of the inning? How many innings could he have gone? I guess we’ll never know.

The Halladay/Oswalt/Blanton decision wasn’t the only head-scratcher. Some had big influences on the game, others not so much…but some food for thought:

-Why was it Domonic Brown who was called on to pinch hit in the fifth inning? Brown faced one pitch and ended the inning on a soft ground ball. With a lack of speed on the bench, Brown was really put on this lineup for pinch running opportunities.  Brown faced one pitch and ended the inning on a soft ground ball. Twice now, he was used as the first bat off the bench.

-When Chad Durbin obviously didn’t have it tonight, why was he not pulled when facing Sandoval with men on 2nd and 3rd and no outs? Sandoval couldn’t hit lefties all season and Antonio Bastardo was warming. First base was even open…a two-RBI double later and the Phillies found themselves down 5-4.

-Why was Bastardo left in the game to face Buster Posey who killed the Phillies all game long when Ryan Madson came in one batter later? Wouldn’t you rather have one of the most dominating RH relievers in baseball face the rookie? Didn’t come back to burn you, but still makes you think.

-After Jayson Werth doubled home Ryan Howard, the Phillies once again failed to move a runner from second base with no outs. Bunting isn’t exactly my favorite move in baseball, but the way the Phillies lineup has been going it’s tough to argue with the fact that it might have given the Phils their best chance to retake the lead. Once again, probably wouldn’t have changed anything as Romo blew away Francisco and Ruiz on back-to-back at bats to end the inning.

For the past few years, fans have had a “Charlie Can Do No Wrong” mantra. The questionable decisions aren’t new, but they haven’t stuck out in the past like they are now. In a city where the fans second-guess every move the chubby red-headed coach across the street makes on Sundays, it makes you wonder just how long until the fan base really starts to question the moves of Manuel.

After all that, the Phillies now lean on their ace, Halladay to bring the series back to Philadelphia. Opposing Doc is Tim Lincecum. Nobody said this series was going to be easy, but coming back from 3-1 has been done before. Let’s hope it happens again.

  • 37 Comments
 

NLCS Gameday: Phillies vs. Giants, Game 4

Posted by Michael Baumann, Wed, October 20, 2010 05:19 PM Comments: 757

Philadelphia Phillies (1-2) at San Francisco Giants (2-1)
San Francisco Giants

Joe Blanton (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Madison Bumgarner (1-0, 3.00)

Time: 7:57, AT&T Park
Weather: Sunny, 62
TV: FOX
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As demoralizing as yesterday afternoon’s loss was, a 2-1 deficit is hardly the end of the world. After all, this was exactly the position in which the Phillies found themselves through three games in the 1993 NLCS, against a far superior Braves team–and we all know how that ended. Tonight, the Phils take another crack at San Francisco, and the national audience gets its first chance to see Joe Blanton.

Blanton, for his part, recovered in a big way after a rocky start to the season. In the Big Easy’s last 20 starts, he’s 8-1 with a 3.81 ERA. For his postseason career, Blanton’s 2-0 with a 3.89 ERA in eight appearances. What’s more, he’s been a Cody Ross killer (who’d'a thought that would become important?). According to ESPN’s Stats & Info blog, Ross is 3-for-11 in his career against the former Kentucky Wildcat, but has struck out in each of his last four plate appearances.

Opposing Blanton will be Madison Bumgarner, a 21-year-old lefty out of Hickory, N.C. Bumgarner, a former top-10 pick, had the dubious distinction of being about the fifth-most-hyped rookie to make his debut in the NL at age 20 this season. If you’ve got a name like Madison Bumgarner, you either get stuffed in a locker every day of your life or you grow up to be a total badass. That Bumgarner started and won a postseason clincher on the road against Derek Lowe, 10 weeks after turning 21, suggests the latter. Still, he’s only pitched 121 major league innings, so he’s far from a known quantity.

In other interesting news, Raul Ibanez has been relieved of his place in the starting lineup. After leading the Phillies in most offensive categories in the NLDS, Ibanez has gone 0-for-11 against San Francisco. With Madison Bumgarner, a lefty who relies on power breaking stuff, on the hill, Uncle Cholly has seen fit to remove his aging left fielder and replace him with righthanded-hitting Ben Francisco. The former Cleveland Indian had a .284/.344/.557 slash line against lefties this season and was hit in the head in his only plate appearance thus far this postseason.

Game 2 Lineup: Victorino CF, Utley 2B, Polanco 3B, Howard 1B, Werth RF, Rollins SS, Francisco LF, Ruiz C, Blanton P

Victory Lager

Your gameday beer: Left Hand Sawtooth Ale

Seems to me like this postseason’s narrative has been the performance of various lefthanded pitchers. All due respect to Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum, we’ve been hearing a lot about the continued domiance of Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, and the emergence of Jonathan Sanchez, C.J. Wilson (today’s shellacking notwithstanding), and Bumgarner (God willing, ditto). With that in mind, today’s offering comes form Left Hand Brewing Company in Longmont, Colorado. This is a solid, medium-bodied American ale that took home bronze in its category at the 2008 Great American Beer Festival. You won’t stop going to bars that won’t stock it, but if you try it, I dare you not to like it.

- PG

  • 757 Comments
 

NLCS Gameday: Phillies vs. Giants, Game 3

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, October 19, 2010 02:29 PM Comments: 206

Philadelphia Phillies (1-1) at San Francisco Giants (1-1)
San Francisco Giants

Cole Hamels (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Matt Cain (0-0, 0.00)

Time: 4:19, AT&T Park
Weather: Mostly Sunny, 67
TV: FOX
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CHECK OUT OUR KEYS TO THE GAME

Charlie Manuel called this a “swing game” yesterday. Does the momentum shift from neutral to red after today? It’ll be up to Cole Hamels to do so. You know how good he’s been this season and into the playoffs, but this road challenge will be slightly different than Cincinnati. Bigger stage, bigger consequences should he come up with a sub-par outing. But if he doesn’t – if Cole Hamels is rock solid like he has been – the Phillies will be looking mighty fine heading into Game 3.

The good news is, the Phillies are 6-2 in Hamels’ eight starts against the Giants in his career. Here is what Hamels said yesterday:

“Postseason is where it’s at. It’s the ultimate time to really show what kind of player you are, what kind of pitcher you are,” Hamels said. “These are the types of games and types of moments when you set foot in spring training it’s the ultimate goal for the whole team to go out and enjoy.”

Our Cole Hamels said this, a complete turn around from a year ago when he just wanted it all to end after a terrible 2009. He’s poised and ready to go.

Matt Cain has had terrible results against the Phillies during his career, posting an 0-3 record with an ERA above six. Some people will say you can’t point to previous numbers, that this is a different “season.” I say bull. Cain will see a Phillies squad that has stayed relatively the same over the past four seasons.

Step up, Raul. It’s your turn to flip the switch and come up with a big time hit. Raul’s bat has slowed considerably as the season has progressed, but he’ll have to find a little pocket of energy to get through this slump. Ibanez is 0 for his last 11 and hasn’t had a hit since Game 2 of the Reds series on October 8. It’s been a long time coming. Step up, Raul.

Game 2 Lineup: Victorino CF, Utley 2B, Polanco 3B, Howard 1B, Werth RF, Rollins SS, Ibanez LF, Ruiz C, Hamels P

Victory Lager

Your gameday beer: Anchor Steam Old Foghorn Ale

Old Foghorn is based on traditional English barley wines. Because of the high original gravity, the yeast is unable to ferment all of the sugars. As a result, barley wine is high in alcohol, and is slightly sweet, due to the residual sugars. Old Foghorn also has a pleasant hop bitterness, due to the large quantity of hops used during brewing. I always enjoy that slight, slight bitterness with ales like that. And although I’m not a huge barleywine fan, Anchor Steam rarely produces a beer that sucks. Enjoy this San Franciscan treat while the Phils pummel the boys of the city

- PG

  • 206 Comments
 

NLCS Gameday: Giants at Phillies, Game 1

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sat, October 16, 2010 05:43 PM Comments: 149

San Francisco Giants vs. Philadelphia Phillies
San Francisco Giants

Tim Lincecum (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Time: 7:57, Citizens Bank Park
Weather: Cloudy/Windy, 50
TV: FOX

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With this obnoxiously long layoff in between the NLDS and NLCS, we’ve had wayyyy too much time to break this series down. Really, there isn’t much left to say. You know the players, you know the situation, you know that the Phillies are on the cusp of history. Now, it’s time to play the game.

Playing the game for the Phillies is none other than Roy Halladay. All week it’s been Halladay & Lincecum, Lincecum & Halladay, and rightfully so. With three Cy Young’s between them already, and likely a fourth on the way, it all comes down to which one can keep the other team off the scoreboard. Halladay hasn’t given up a hit in the postseason, as you know, and honestly, with the way the Giants offense is built, I wouldn’t expect too many in this game, either.

Tim Lincecum, some said, had the better game in the NLDS. Sure he gave up two hits to Halladay’s one, but a few believed it a little more dominating. You’d be an idiot to believe that, however, Lincecum was about as good as it gets in Game 1 of round one without being perfect. The Phillies have had varying success against “The Freak” in the past, so it’s hard to tell what we’ll get here. You can’t really look back before 2010, because this Phillies team is very much different than past seasons. However, in April, the Phillies rallied against he and Brian Wilson for a 7-6, extra innings victory that proves he can be beaten if patience is used.

Patience. Can the Phillies use a little? Like Axl Rose said, all we need is just a little bit of it and the Phillies will need to heed his advice. Lincecum wants them to chase balls down and out of the zone, working off his low-to-mid 90′s fastball. The question is, can they. I wouldn’t expect too much in the way of offense here on either side. But it’ll come down to who puts together that one inning of a few hits. They’ll be hard to come by.

A few things to think about:

  • The winner of Game 1 of the NLCS has advanced to the World Series 15 of the last 18 years. Only the 2006 Cardinals, 2005 Astros, and 1991 Braves were able to buck the trend.
  • In the playoffs thus far, the Giants and Phillies pitching staffs have combined for a 1.04 ERA. Game 2 starter Roy Oswalt gave up the most earned runs in the opening round with three over five innings.
  • With a series victory, the Phillies would become the first National League team ever to win six NLCS’s. Atlanta, St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Cincinnati have each won five.
  • Over the last three postseasons, the Phillies are 7-0 in Game 1′s. Their last game one loss was against the Rockies in the 2007 NLDS.
  • Roy Halladay has one three straight and seven of his last eight at home, including the no-hitter against the Reds.
  • Tim Lincecum is 0-1 lifetime at CBP with a 3.66 ERA.
  • Carlos Ruiz is a .345 lifetime hitter in the NLCS and has reached base safely in each of his last 23 postseason games. Chooch is red hot in October.
  • Buster Posey led the NL in hits in round one with six. He, too, is on fire.

Game 1 Lineup: Victorino CF, Polanco 3B, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Werth RF, Rollins SS, Ibanez LF, Ruiz C, Halladay P

Victory Lager

Your gameday beer: Troegs Nugget Nectar

Poured a medium amber color with a thick white head that laces down the glass nicely. The aroma has an initial blast of citrus hops, grapefruit, pineapple, caramel malt, and floral sweetness. It was named one of the top beers in the world by Beer Advocate, whom I trust. It’s also a local beer (kinda) coming from Harrisburg, PA. It should be a nice beer to sip on for tonight’s game while you’re, hopefully, grilling steaks and asparagus on the grill. My mouth is watering for that. And a win. AND A WIN! -by Pat

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NLDS Gameday: Phillies at Reds, Game 3

Posted by Michael Baumann, Sun, October 10, 2010 05:33 PM Comments: 72

Philadelphia Phillies (2-0) at Cincinnati Reds (0-2)

Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06 ERA)  vs. Johnny Cueto (12-7, 3.64 ERA)
Atlanta Braves

Time: 8:07 p.m., Great American Ball Park
Weather:
Clear, 73
TV: TBS
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We’re on the precipice of history, here, Nation. Believe it or not, despite making 13 trips to the postseason, collecting seven pennants and two World Series titles along the way, the Phillies have never, not once, swept a playoff series. Tonight, Cole Hamels, who won the playoff MVP double in 2008, takes the ball in attempt to rectify that situation. So far, it’s taken some concentrated, if not not particularly consistent, hitting (plus a little help from the Reds’ defense) to beat Cincinnati twice. Almost all of the Phillies’ starters are hitting. The problem is that none of them are hitting particularly well–only Raul Ibanez has an OPS over .750. As the series turns to The Nasty ‘Natti, La Furia Roja will try to break out their bats against Johnny Cueto.

Seldom do Philly fans need a reason to boo an opposing pitcher lustily, but tonight’s Reds starter, Johnny Cueto, gives us a real doozy. Remember that benches-clearing fracas between the Reds and Cardinals a couple months back? It was one of the few baseball fights that looked more like a real fight than a baseball fight, which we all thought was awesome at the time. But what came to light later was that Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue suffered a concussion in the fight. LaRue is a member of that most likable of baseball fraternities, the light-hitting career backup catcher. In 12 major league seasons, LaRue didn’t contribute much of anything on the diamond, posting a .712 OPS in 922 games, but he was that hackneyed “calming veteran presence” on several teams, was erudite on camera, and, at least from what I’ve read, was well-liked well-respected throughout the sport. Guys like that tend to go on to become managers (for evidence, see Bruce Bochy, Buck Martinez, Joe Girardi, and, if you want to step into the wayback machine, Connie Mack).

Anyway, the last thing LaRue will do in a major league uniform is take a boot to the head. Remember that guy pressed up against the backstop, flinging his cleats wildly at anyone who approached? Johnny Cueto. One of his kicks caught LaRue on the head, and just like that, career over. So don’t feel bad if he gets lit up tonight.

In order for Cole Hamels to slam the door on Cincy’s collective fingers tonight, he’ll have to continue to keep the middle of their order in check. The Reds’ 3-4 hitters, presumptive ML MVP Joey Votto and former Phillie Scott Rolen, are a combined 1-for-13 in this series through two games, and with Brandon Phillips hitting well ahead of them (to say nothing of the removal of offensive albatross Orlando Cabrera from the lineup), it will be of paramount importance to Hamels and whatever relievers Uncle Cholly uses to keep Votto and Rolen from driving in those baserunners.

Oh, and I had forgotten about this little tidbit until @Utley4God brought it up on Twitter, but the last time Cueto and Hamels opposed each other, on July 6, 2009, Hamels allowed a Jonny Gomes solo homer and two other hits in seven innings of work. Cueto allowed nine earned runs on five hits (including a two-run double by Hamels himself) in only 2/3 of an inning. The Phils won that game 22-1.

Today’s Lineup: Victorino CF, Polanco 3B, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Werth RF, Rollins SS, Ibanez LF, Ruiz C, Hamels P

Victory Lager

Your gameday beer: Victory Storm King Stout

This beer gets the nod for three reasons: 1) the name 2) it’s a local beverage 3) it led to a good night in Ohio for me once, a tradition I trust the Phillies will follow this evening. I had been drinking Victory stouts for a while at the Draught Horse near Temple University when I went to pick up a six-pack for a party I was attending in Columbus. At this point, I didn’t know that Victory made two stouts: Donnybrook Stout (an Irish stout which, depending on my mood, I actually prefer to Guinness) and Storm King Stout (an Imperial stout). Excited to see a Philly Metro brewery’s wares on offer in Ohio, I picked up a sixer of the Storm King, unaware that, at 9.1% ABV, it has nearly three times the alcohol content of Donnybrook. What I expected to be a quiet night (for me, at least) turned into something of a rager. Here’s to unexpected ragers.

-by Michael

  • 72 Comments
 

NLDS Gameday: Reds at Phillies, Game 1

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, October 06, 2010 02:30 PM Comments: 142

Cincinnati Reds at Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves

Time: 5:07 p.m., Citizens Bank Park
Weather:
Partly Cloudy, 60
TV: TBS
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Some huge breaking news at about 1 p.m. was that Placido Polanco is NOT in today’s Game 1 lineup. He’s been scratched with back spasms, Wilson Valdez will take his place. This is a pretty significant blow heading into what everyone believed was a very winnable series. The question now becomes, how much harder will this be for the Phillies without arguably their best contact hitter in Polly.

Polanco hasn’t seen Reds starter Edinson Volquez all that much (1-for-2 lifetime), but he is truly an important component of a lineup that has struggled with consistency all season. Let’s hope with the off day tomorrow that Polly can make a return for Game 2.

Let’s also try to get past the bad news and focus on the good: Roy Halladay pitches today. He lost his last start against the Reds on June 30. He was touched up for 13 hits over eight innings. This was also during June when Halladay struggle with a couple of rough outings. He met with the Reds again in July and shut them down over nine innings by allowing no runs. However, he left with a no-decision because Travis Wood was in the midst of a perfect game. The Phillies came away with a 1-0 win in 10 innings, and Doc narrowly missed another complete game shutout.

Which Halladay will the Reds see today? If the end of the regular season is a precursor to today, they’ll get a charged-up ace looking to make a name for himself on the biggest stage in baseball.

Edinson Volquez has two career starts against the Phillies, both coming in 2008. He allowed only seven hits and one earned run over 12 1/3 innings, going 2-0. The 27 year-old is coming in having had three good outings to finish September. However, late in July, he struggled so much that he was sent down to Triple-A to figure some things out. He’s done that, and then some.

Against lefties, Volquez is having his way. Left-handers are batting just .229 against him, 44 points lower than righties. That obviously hinders Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez a bit. But still, this is Volquez’s first taste of postseason baseball, can he rise to the challenge of the two-time NL champs?

On the flip side, Roy Halladay is also making his first career playoff appearance, but the feeling is that he’s more than ready.

It’s the start of another round of October baseball for the Phillies. Can they make it three striaght trips to the World Series? Tonight, the first chapter of the story will be written.

Today’s Lineup: Rollins SS, Victorino CF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Werth RF, Ibanez LF, Ruiz C, Valdez 3B, Halladay P

Victory Lager

Your gameday beer: Sam Adams Octoberfest

Here’s to a lengthy Octoberfest for the Phillies.

Gan bei.

-by Michael

GO PHILLIES!

  • 142 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (97-64) at Braves (90-71)

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sun, October 03, 2010 12:50 PM Comments: 91

Philadelphia Phillies (97-64) at Atlanta Braves (90-71)Atlanta Braves

Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.09 ERA) vs. Tim Hudson  (16-9, 3.41 ERA)

Time: 1:35 p.m., Turner Field
Weather:
Sunny, 67
TV: MY PHL 17
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It’s the final tuneup of the regular season!  After today, it’s on to the postseason.  Even though the Phillies are already in, they have business to take care of.  The Atlanta Braves are tied with the San Diego Padres for the Wild Card.  It would be great if the Phillies can kick the Braves out of playoff contention.  The Phillies would have an easier road in the postseason if San Diego wins the Wild Card.

The Braves are on the verge of getting swept by a team who has played Triple-A players.  In addition, they might miss the postseason.  It can’t get much worse for Atlanta, especially knowing that two aces are pitching against them today.  Cole Hamels AND Roy Owalt will be teaming up;  Hamels will start, and Oswalt will relieve.  The Phillies don’t want either to go long enough where they could get injured, but they also want their players to be in a rhythm for the postseason.

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!

  • 91 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (96-64) at Braves (90-70)

Posted by Michael Baumann, Sat, October 02, 2010 01:28 PM Comments: 293

Philadelphia Phillies (96-64) at Atlanta Braves (90-70)Atlanta Braves

Vance Worley (1-1, 2.25 ERA) vs. Tommy Hanson (10-11, 3.41 ERA)

Time: 4:10 p.m., Turner Field
Weather:
Partly Cloudy, 67
TV: Fox
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Last night’s meaningless game, along with San Diego’s season-saving victory over the Giants, turned out not to be entirely meaningless after all. The Braves’ embarrassing 11-5 defeat dropped their playoff probability from 96.1 percent to 85.1, and raised the Padres’ from 7.6 to 20.6 percent. With every game, it seems, this Wild Card race is getting more and more interesting. A repeat of last night’s results (an Atlanta loss and a San Diego win) would drop the Braves into a tie with the Padres, only a game behind San Francisco.

For the Phillies’ part, a victory this afternoon would tie the team’s third-highest all-time win total, set in 1993. If they finish the sweep, not only would the Phillies’ 98 wins be the most since 1977, when they won 101, but they’d win the division by eight games, their widest margin of victory in the division since 1976, when they outpaced the second-place Pirates by nine games.

For the first time in their head-to-head stretch run meetings, the Braves will have a distinct advantage in the starting pitching matchup, sending Tommy Hanson, who finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting last season, behind Chris Coghlan and J.A. Happ, to face rookie righthander Vance Worley.

Worley, who turned 23 last week, is a former third-round pick out of Long Beach State whose major league career comprises eight innings and only 129 pitches. This afternoon he will make his fifth major league appearance and second major league start. Worley allowed two runs in five innings and took the loss in the first game of a doubleheader against Florida on September 6. Apart from that, he has thrice pitched scoreless relief innings this season. Today’s tilt will be Worley’s first road appearance in a Phillies uniform.

Today’s Lineup: Rollins SS, Polanco 3B, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Ibanez LF, Victorino CF, Brown RF, Schneider C, Worley P

Victory Lager

Your gameday beer: Sam Adams Octoberfest
Not only is it now October, but today, as it happens, is the 32nd anniversary of the Bucky Dent home run. So in honor of a time when we felt bad for Red Sox fans, let’s throw back a seasonal Sam Adams offering. A couple interesting notes about that game: Dent only hit 40 regular-season home runs in his 12-year career, including the three-run jack off Mike Torrez in that one-game playoff. Torrez, for his part, is most famous for 1) giving up Dent’s homer, and 2) beaning Dickie Thon in 1984. However, he was the first of only four starting pitchers in the division play era to be traded and win a World Series game in the same season. The last two men to do it? Joe Blanton in 2008 and Cliff Lee in 2009. -by Michael

GO PHILLIES!

  • 293 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (95-64) at Braves (90-69)

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, October 01, 2010 05:47 PM Comments: 288

Philadelphia Phillies (95-64) at Atlanta Braves (90-69)Atlanta Braves

Kyle Kendrick (10-10, 4.76 ERA) vs. Brandon Beachy (0-1, 2.89 ERA)

Time: 7:35 p.m., Turner Field
Weather:
Cloudy, 78
TV: WPHL
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Remember that playoff atmosphere from the last Braves-Phillies series? Well, with the Phils hell-bent on emptying the bench and the best record in the National League locked up, there’s not really a whole lot for La Furia Roja to play for. Of course, you could say that knocking the Braves out of the playoffs would be reward enough, but the Wild Card (to say nothing of the NL West race) will be decided in California this weekend.

For the past two months, the Braves and Padres have been stumbling like two drunks toward the finish line, and it looks like Atlanta has been the less incapacitated of the drunks leading up to this weekend. Any Atlanta win or San Diego loss will guarantee the Braves at least a one-game playoff for the Wild Card.

Kyle Kendrick will make his last-gasp case for a spot on the playoff roster tonight. Kendrick’s two starts in Atlanta this year were arguably his two best–eight innings of four-hit shutout ball on April 20 and seven innings, one earned run, five hits and four strikeouts on June 2. Of course, both of those starts turned out to be one-run losses, but I guess you can’t have everything.

Today’s lineup: Rollins SS, Francisco RF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Werth CF, Ibanez LF, Dobbs 3B, Ruiz C, Kendrick P

Victory LagerYour gameday beer: Sweetwater 420
This is the signature beverage from the best Atlanta-based bottler this side of Coca-Cola. Sweetwater 420 is a light, crisp ale. It’s not as hoppy as most IPAs, but while it’s not a particularly serious beverage, it’s from Atlanta and it’s pretty tasty. -by Michael

GO PHILLIES!

  • 288 Comments
 

Gameday: Phillies (94-64) at Nationals (68-90)

Posted by Michael Baumann, Wed, September 29, 2010 04:53 PM Comments: 0

Philadelphia Phillies (94-64) at Washington Nationals (68-90)

NationalsJoe Blanton (8-6, 4.94 ERA) vs. Ross Detwiler (1-2, 2.52)

Time: 7:05, Nationals Park
Weather:
Rainy, 66
TV: CSN
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Nationals Park is where it all began this season, where the division was won, and, tonight, the Phillies will say goodbye to Washington until next spring. That is, if the rain holds off.

With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs sewn up, the Phillies can afford to take their ease a little bit, as Charlie Manuel proved last night. Last night, Adam Dunn’s walk-off homer helped the Nats to a 2-1 victory over the Phillies’ reserve squad. Tonight is no different, as the Phillies make seven changes from their Opening Day lineup. John Mayberry gets his first start of the year, and Hero of the People Wilson Valdez returns to the lineup in relief of Chase Utley.

That patchwork squad will face lefthander Ross Detwiler, a 24-year-old making his 19th career major league start. Detwiler was picked 6th overall in 2007. In recent years, the Nats have done well drafting pitchers in the high rounds, netting Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Chad Cordero, and Jordan Zimmermann in recent years. Detwiler has not been so fortunate, struggling with his control this year. At his best, he’s a finesse lefty in the Cole Hamels mold, mixing in a decent fastball with a change-up for an out pitch, but so far, despite a nearly-even K/BB ratio, Detwiler’s gotten away with it, posting a 2.52 ERA in 25 innings. Pay attention to this guy, because when the Nationals finally put it together in a couple years, Detwiler could be one of their good young arms, along with Zimmermann and Strasburg.

There’s not a whole lot else to say about tonight’s game. Hardly anything is on the line, so sit back, relax, and be glad you’re not out there in that rain.

Today’s lineup: Rollins SS, Valdez 2B, Victorino CF, Sweeney 1B, Francisco LF, Mayberry RF, Dobbs 3B, Hoover C, Blanton P

Nugget NectarYour Gameday Beer – Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest

Today is the 60th birthday of Milwaukee Brewers owner Ken Macha, and in his honor, we’ll give you a seasonal beer from the best of the Milwaukee brewers, Jacob Leinenkugel. Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest is not as highly-touted as, say Sam Adams, but it’s a malty beer that makes you think of football, terrible weather, and pumpkin pie. Enjoy. -Michael Baumann

GO PHILLIES!

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