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Top 10 Moments of 2012

Top Moment #1: Hamels Here To Stay

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, December 31, 2012 04:15 PM Comments: 2

Before the 2012 season even began, Phillies fans were worried about the 2012-2013 offseason.  Cole Hamels was due to enter free agency, which raised a lot of questions about the season.  Would be traded mid-season?  Would he be locked up?  Would he become a free agent and sign with our rivals?  Ruben Amaro Jr. addressed this issue in late-July.

On July 25, the Phillies and Cole Hamels agreed to a six-year, $144 million contract extension.

The deal probably looks better with the moves that have occurred around baseball this offseason.  Hamels  may have set the market early, but it can be easily argued that the negotiations would be pretty intense if he waited for free agency.  His price value would have definitely increased.  The Phillies signed him at the right time.

It will be great to have Hamels in red pinstripes for the next six years, at least.  He has been excellent thus far, and hopefully he can continue that for years to come.

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Top Moment #2: Jim Thome’s Walk-off

Posted by Amanda Orr, Thu, December 27, 2012 12:20 PM Comments: 4

The Tampa Bay Rays were in town on June 23 for an interleague series with the Phillies.  The ending to the game would go down as the arguably the most memorable finish to a Phillies game in 2012.

The Phillies had a comfortable 6-4 lead heading into the top of the ninth inning.  With Jonathan Papelbon on the mound, there was plenty of confidence that the Phillies would get the victory easily.

Let’s just say, it didn’t go as planned.

Continue reading Top Moment #2: Jim Thome’s Walk-off

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2012 Top Moment #3: The Return of Chase Utley

Posted by Amanda Orr, Tue, December 18, 2012 08:14 AM Comments: 18

Photo: ESPN

When first learning about Chase Utley’s knee injury, most Phillies fans didn’t seem overly concerned.  As days turned into weeks, more questions came up.  Why isn’t he playing? What’s wrong with his knees? Why aren’t they saying anything?  When is he going to come back?

There was no more shrugging off the injury.  Phillies fans knew something was wrong with Utley, one of the toughest, hard-nosed players in baseball. Fans were getting worried.

Continue reading 2012 Top Moment #3: The Return of Chase Utley

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2012 Top Moment #4: Drama-Filled Sweep of Brewers

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sat, December 15, 2012 02:46 PM Comments: 4

In late July, the Phillies found themselves significantly under the .500 mark.  Fans were starting to become uninterested as the team performed well under their expectations.  In general, it wasn’t a pleasant time for Phillies fans, as the Phillies eventually decided to become sellers at the trade deadline.

But there was a series that brought hope: July 24-26 against the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Phillies were able to sweep the Brew Crew, but it was more than a sweep.  Every game was full of excitement, leading fans to wonder if the Phillies would be a second-half team once again.

The drama began in the ninth inning on July 23.  The Phillies were down 6-3 with Francisco Rodriguez on the mound.   Ryan Howard started the rally with a two-run single.  Carlos Ruiz tied the game with a single of his own, and Ty Wigginton’s sacrifice fly brought home the winning run.  Just when all thought the Phillies were dead, they came alive with a four-run ninth inning.  The late-inning madness would not stop there.

Continue reading 2012 Top Moment #4: Drama-Filled Sweep of Brewers

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2012 Top Moment #5: Kratz, Mayberry Come Up Big in Atlanta

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sat, November 17, 2012 08:13 AM Comments: 0

Erik Kratz takes a hit from Chipper Jones (Photo: AP)

As John Mayberry Jr. raced toward the infield, a blooper dropped into shallow center field.  He immediately fired the baseball home while Chipper Jones rounded third.  The throw was a little up the line, but Erik  Kratz was able to make one of the top defensive plays of the year.  As soon as the ball hit the glove, Jones collided with Kratz.  Kratz took a huge hit from Chipper Jones at the plate, but Kratz was able to hold on for the out.  The play saved a run, but it wasn’t the only big play from Kratz that night.

Continue reading 2012 Top Moment #5: Kratz, Mayberry Come Up Big in Atlanta

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2012 Top Moment #6: Season Opens With High Hopes

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, November 12, 2012 08:16 AM Comments: 1

Opening Day is one of the best days of the year.  Anticipation and excitement lead up to the first official game of the season.  A new year means new hopes, dreams, and memories.

For the Phillies, their expectations were higher than ever.  They were coming off a year in which they had the most wins in franchise history.  Most of the team was returning, and they added a big-name closer in Jonathan Papelbon.  When the season opened, the only thing holding them back was the injuries to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.

The Phillies opened the season on April 5th in Pittsburgh.  Roy Halladay tossed a gem: 8 shutout innings.  He only allowed two hits and struck out five.  Carlos Ruiz went 3-for-3, driving in the only run of the game.  Jonathan Papelbon closed the game with a 1-2-3 save.  It was the perfect start to the season.  It was just how Phillies fans hoped the season would kick off.  Opening Day was supposed to be an indication of how the rest of the season would go: smoothly, and without any troubles.

Unfortunately, things turned for the worst for the Phillies. But at the time, Opening Day created a positive energy for the season.  Baseball and the Phillies were back; what’s better than that?

Phillies Nation writer Ryan Dinger summed up Opening Day nicely: “I felt going with Doc’s opening day victory may be poetic. After all, I don’t think I felt better about the season at any moment than I did after that first win. As they say, it was all down [hill] from there.”

Photos from the annual Phillies Nation tailgate party:

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2012 Top Moment #7: Howard Comes Up Clutch in New York

Posted by Amanda Orr, Thu, November 08, 2012 08:04 AM Comments: 3

On September 19, the Phillies were in the middle of a big series against the New York Mets.  They were four games out of the Wild Card, so the postseason was still within reach at the time.

After Cole Hamels tossed a quality start and the bullpen pitched two stellar innings, the Phillies still found themselves trailing 2-1 with two outs in the top of the ninth inning.  One swing of the bat changed the game, and created a top moment for the season.

Chase Utley drew a huge two-out walk, leaving the game in the hands of a struggling Ryan Howard.  Mets pitcher Josh Edgin appeared to have the advantage in the matchup, especially since Howard had been in an 0-for-18 slump against lefties.

With the count at 0-1, Howard crushed a fastball deep into the right field seats. There was no doubt about it.  The Phillies took a 3-2 lead, and Jonathan Papelbon was able to close it out.

After the big blast, Phillies Nation commenter The Original Chuck P commented:

“Can we PLEASE give the man his due? You take the strikeouts, you take the ugly at bats against lefties because he is the only guy on this team that can strike fear in the opponent. He can change the game with one swing and he DRIVES IN RUNS.”

Indeed, Howard changed the game with one swing on September 19.  It was a huge win that temporarily kept the Phillies’ postseason hopes alive.

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2012 Top Moment #8: Kendrick’s Shutout

Posted by Amanda Orr, Mon, November 05, 2012 12:00 PM Comments: 2

Photo: AP/Jeff Roberson

Kyle Kendrick certainly had an interesting season.  The 28-year-old spent the first half of the season alternating between the rotation and the bullpen.  Before his impressive run from August 14-September 10 (when his ERA was just 1.49), there was one start where Kendrick proved that he belonged in the rotation.

Entering May 26, the Phillies were a game over .500 and in the midst of an important series with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Because Vance Worley was injured, Kendrick would get the start.

At this point in time, Phillies fans weren’t exactly comfortable with the idea of Kendrick starting, but he changed some minds in this outing.  Kendrick tossed his first complete game shutout of his Major League career.  He allowed seven hits, struck out four, and walked nobody.

Not only did he pitch a great game, but he earned the trust from his skipper.  After the game, Charlie Manuel acknowledged that he would like to stick with Kendrick in the rotation for the time being.

Everything seemed to work for Kendrick  that night.  His location was terrific and his slider and change-up were working perfectly.  It was just a glimpse of what Phillies fans would later see out of Kendrick towards the end of the season.

You can learn more about Kyle Kendrick’s season by reading Phillies Nation’s 2012 Player Reviews.

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2012 Top Moment #9: Chooch Makes All Star Team

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sat, November 03, 2012 08:27 AM Comments: 1

For the first time in his career, Carlos Ruiz made the National League All Star team.

Ruiz did not receive enough fan votes to start, although he deserved to.  The 33-year-old batted .350 with 13 home runs and a .995 OPS during the first half of the season.

Ruiz headed to Kansas City for the All Star Game as a reserve, but he did receive some playing time.  He caught knuckle-baller R.A Dickey and teammates Cole Hamels and Jonathan Paplebon.  Ruiz finished 0-for-1 at the dish, but his All Star appearance was well deserved.

Carlos Ruiz finished the season with a .325 average, 16 home runs, and a .935 OPS.  He could have made a push for the batting title, but unfortunately suffered a late-season injury.

The fact that Chooch made the All Star team was a highlight for many members of Phillies Nation, especially since it was a well earned spot.

You can learn more about Carlos Ruiz’s 2012 season by reading Phillies Nation’s 2012 Player Reviews.

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2012 Top Moment #10: Luna is Grand

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Wed, October 31, 2012 02:00 PM Comments: 0

With one swing, Luna validated his Spring Training supporters. Photo: AP

For a lot of Phillies fans, there were two questions that would be answered in Spring Training: who would be the fifth outfielder and why was Hector Luna playing in every Spring Training game? Luna, nicknamed “Big Tuna” by beat-writer David Hale, put on an early ST power display and played in nearly every game, whether at first or third. The Phils, in need of a solution at first, seemed to be flirting with the idea of keeping Luna as the roster grew thinner and thinner. Luna hit .302/.351/.528 with 3 HRs for the Fightins before being assigned to Triple-A just before the start of the regular season, becoming sort of an internet darling and a Spring Training cult favorite.

A slow start by Ty Wigginton had fans clamoring for the righty from the Domican Republic. On May 11, Luna was called to the big club to replace the injured Laynce Nix. Luna would not see action until May 16 against the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley. He wasted no time contributing: on the second pitch he saw as a Phil, Luna parked a middle-in fastball a few rows deep into left with the bases loaded off of Michael Bowden, giving the Phils a 9-2 advantage. It was Luna’s first career grand slam and was the first of his two home runs he would hit for the Phils in 2012.

Luna saw sporadic playing time with the Phils throughout the remainder of 2012, playing in just 28 games, hitting .226/.273/.355 but won over quite a few fans. Luna’s slam gave instant credibility to those who said “I told you so” as to why he should have been on the roster from day one – unfortunately, the rest of his time with the Phils did not. Luna was designated for assignment on August 30 and claimed by the Pirates on August 31. He would not reach the plate with the Bucs.

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