Showing posts with label Phillies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Phillies. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Sox Victims of Cliff Lee's 3rd Straight Shut Out

I don't know what to say here. Josh Beckett had an off night. Cliff Lee was world class. It was a very boring game from a Sox fan perspective. I just sat there waiting for something to happen, and it never did. The Sox had a total of four base runners, and they were scattered around here and there. You can't really point to any instance in the game and say, that's where Boston lost it's chance to make something happen.

Boston is now 6-7 in interleague play. It's hard to complain about the system since it's given the Red Sox huge opportunities in the past several years with double digit win totals each year in interleague play. This stretch of poor performances is starting to get frustrating, especially after the successful run it follows. Can't we just be normal, win two of every three and call it a day? I hate these huge inexplicable swings of the pendulum.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lee Surprises Everyone

Everyone expected Cliff Lee to go to the Yankees. It probably wouldn't have been much of a shock if he went back to Texas, but Philly? Now the Phillies have what we all thought they should have had two years ago, Halladay and Cliff Lee at the front of the rotation.

Lee signed for five years $120 million spurning the Yanks and an additional two years and $34 million. But before we celebrate Lee as a martyr there is a clause in the contract that triggers an option year for $27.5 million if he pitches at least 400 innings aggregate over the final two years of the deal. That's hardly guaranteed money, but it's not impossible.

In the end he had to choose where he felt comfortable pitching. I have often wondered how much money does a person need to make where it just doesn't matter anymore? What is the real difference in someone's lifestyle between $120 million and $154 million? Either way you look at it, Cliff Lee is set for life and so are his kids. He just liked Philadelphia better.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sox Show Phils Who's Boss

After losing game one, Boston bounced back to take two of three from the NL Champ Phillies in their own building. Tim Wakefield followed Dice-K's near no-no with a gem of his own as the Sox stymied Philidelphia's potent line up two games in a row. There would have been a second shut out as well if not for Ramon Ramirez throwing batting practice in the ninth. Boston also pounded familiar foe Roy Halladay for 7 runs over 5 2/3. Sox batters struck out just once.

The Sox start a three game series with the Rays tomorrow before heading home to face ego booster Kansas City. They may need it. The Trop has proved completely vexing for the Sox for three seasons now. I don't have very high hopes for that series. It's just another opportunity for the Rays to pad their divisional lead.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Machinations

Since the Yankees were practically the only team that was stoking the hot stove last week I am sure that the rest of baseball was a tad bored. Well it seems that the rest of baseball decided all at once to get in on the act. Monday has been churning with rumors. From free agent destinations to possible mega-trades.

Here are a few story lines to follow for the rest of the week:

The Sox are looking to counter the Yankees big move from last week. Beantown is looking hard at free agent pitcher John Lackey. While it appears the deal isn't quite official, even though Lackey has already taken his physical, it would take a miracle for the Angels to slide in and outbid the Boston, especially considering how tight LA has been with it's cash. Why has Boston suddenly decided to start throwing their cash around? Perhaps Theo Epstein was one of the few who read Dan Shaughnessy's whiny column concerning the Boston front office's penny pinching ways to be a disgrace.

The more intriguing storyline for me is the rumored mega-deal between the Jays, the Phillies and a third team as yet to be named. I'm not sure why the Phillies would deal Cliff Lee to get Roy Halladay but that seems to be what the teams are edging towards. I understand how good Halladay has been and how good he would be in the NL, but really Lee is young, cheaper for next season and left-handed. I suppose the Phillies figure it would be easier to lock of Halladay to a long term deal since Lee will likely command a larger deal since he is three years younger, still it seems like a lot of energy and prospects expended to simply run in place.

Those are the dominant stories in the baseball world for today and probably a few more days.

Update 4:16 pm: It appears Hideki Matsui will get a little closer to home next season. The Angels are working on inking the Yankee DH to a one year deal worth $6.5 million deal. It would be a loss for the Yankees but likely one that will help them in the long run. Always better to lose a player with one year left in his prime than one year after.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Burnett Slips Against Phils

Everything was lining up to allow A.J. Burnett to become a World Series hero for the Yankees. He had already saved the Yankees from an 0-2 hole after Cliff Lee embarrassed them at Yankee Stadium and now he was on the bump with a chance to give the Yankees their first title in nine seasons.

Then he actually took the mound and started to pitch and things just fell apart. Burnett couldn't record an out in the third inning and the Yankees were down 6-1 after three innings. The bats battled back, but a standard Derek Jeter double play ended a possible ninth inning relay and now the series turns back to New York.

Prior to Game 5 there was much debate about throwing Burnett in three days rest. A lot of opinions were of the fact that throwing anybody against Cliff Lee was suicide because of his new god-like status. Some advocated the idea of throwing the game away by pitching Chad Gaudin and conceding a World Series game. The argument was that you could then have Burnett on full rest to go for the kill on Wednesday at the stadium and that the Yankees had no chance of winning Game 5. Luckily Joe Girardi is smarter than that.

The reality is Burnett could have very well blown up in Game 6 anyway. Then where would the Yankees be? The Yankees had to drop the hammer on the Phils and while the Phillies won a game at home the Yankees are still going home with a 3-2 lead in the series with two lefties going against a lineup that struggles against left-handers. Much like in the ALCS, if the Yankees had lost Game 4 and won Game 5 there would be no worries. Instead it is the other way around and people are looking for a reason to panic to create interest on an off day.

But who wouldn't be happy with the Yankees situation? And really, what pitchers are the Phillies throwing that the Yankees should be worried about? Pedro Martinez, a pitcher who is hasn't thrown with fewer than 13 days rest in a month and a half and Cole Hamels who can't make it out of the fifth.

The Yankees are still in a good spot going into Game 6 tomorrow and even still, in Game 7 if necessary.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Yankees Jump on Phils; Take 3-1 Lead

If the Phillies feared any scenario after they split in New York it has to be this one. The match ups favored the Yankees and while the Phillies had their chances to swing momentum in their favor they could not capitalize.

On Sunday night the Phillies decided it would be wise to throw Joe Blanton instead of Cliff Lee. Their logic? Lee has never had to throw on three days rest. Well, while there is an unknown factor as to what you can expect from Lee doing something he had never done there is also the fact that this is the World Series and your team is in a 2-1 hole. If there ever was a time to start on three days rest Sunday night would have been the night to find out if Lee could handle it or not. I would rather have Lee at 80 percent against the Yanks than a 100 percent Joe Blanton any day of the week.

But Charlie Manuel went with Blanton with the hope he could stifle the Yankees as he had the Rays in 2008. The plan didn't quite work out that way. Blanton pitched well enough, but not well enough to match CC Sabathia on three days rest. Sabathia struggled through the Phillie lineup for the second straight start. He had trouble with his command and each inning seemed like a battle for him, but if it wasn't for Chase Utley he might have walked away with an easy victory.

After the Yankees jumped out to a quick two-run lead in the top of the first, Shane Victorino blooped a double to shallow left and the Utley ripped a bullet off of the right centerfield wall. Sabathia would give up the tying run in the fourth when Ryan Howard singled and stole second with no throw. Pedro Feliz would tie the game for the first time when he ripped a bullet at Johnny Damon. Initially it looked as though Howard touched the plate, but further replays showed that all 6'4" 203 lbs. of him missed the plate.

The Yankees responded the next inning. Swisher worked a four pitch walk and when Melky Cabrera grounded a ball up the middle Chase Utley attempted a highlight reel double play by flipping the ball to Jimmy Rollins with his glove. He could have easily got the force out at second, cutting of a potential big inning for the Yankees, but instead he flipped the ball ten feet in the air and the Yankees had first and second and nobody out.

Jeter and Damon followed with RBI singles and the Yankees were again in control. The game stayed stable until Chase Utley went to work on Sabathia again. It looked as though Sabathia would work his way through an easy seventh until Utley strode to the plate again. Again Sabathia got ahead of Utley and again Utley crushed a ball to deep right. That was the end of Sabathia and in came Damaso Marte who's postseason resurgence continued as he retired Howard for the second consecutive night.

In the eighth Joba Chamberlain looked good in relief for the first time since early 2008. He struck out Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez in convincing fashion and had Pedro Feliz set up before leaving a 3-2 fastball down the middle. Feliz crushed it to tie the game and while he made Carlos Ruiz look foolish on a slider to end the inning, the game was tied and things did not look good for the Yankees.

Brad Lidge came on and for the first two batters he looked like vintage Brad Lidge. He had Johnny Damon down 1-2. Damon worked the count full then slapped a 3-2 fastball to left. Damon took off for second on the first pitch and when Feliz stepped in front of the bag to field the throw Damon took advantage and stole an unattended third base. From that point on Brad Lidge circa 2005 showed up. Scared to throw his slider he plunked Mark Teixeira before A-Rod ripped a double to give the Yankees the lead. Jorge tacked on two more with a single and Mo slammed the door with eight pitches.

Now with a 3-1 lead the Yankees will face Cliff Lee who will battle with A.J. Burnett. Burnett has always been solid on three days rest. In four starts he is 4-0 with a 2.33 ERA. He was also dominant in his Game 2 start with seven solid innings. Lee will be on full rest and is still in the midst of one of the most dominating starting performances in postseason history. The Yankees go for the series, and they will need just 27 outs for their 27th title. This is what the season is all about.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Series Continues in Philly

Down the highway they go and now they have a Halloween date night in Philadelphia. Tonight's match up will be a pair of lefties, Andy Pettitte vs. Cole Hamels. With the way Hamels has been pitching this season and in the playoffs in general it would appear the Yankees have the advantage over the Phils.

Actually it would appear that the Yankees have the advantage in the next two games when you consider they are in all likelihood sending CC Sabathia to the mound in Game 4 against Joe Blanton.

But it is not the pitching that worries me about the Yankees. To me it just seems that they have been unable to mount any serious offensive momentum in this year's playoff run. They have only really had two offensive outbursts to speak of. The first was in Game 4 of the ALCS when they clobbered the Angels 10-1. But even then most of those runs came at the end of the game to put it out of reach. The other outburst came in Game 5 when Mike Soiscia made the ill advised move of pulling John Lackey with two outs in the seventh inning.

Other than that the Yankees have gotten by on pitching and a home run here or there. Wait, let me correct that statement, the Yankees have gotten by on exceptional starting pitching and Mariano Rivera while the bats provide just enough offense in most games.

The Yankees need their bats to get going in some of these games. The next two would be the perfect time. Two pitchers are taking the mound for the Phillies who are either A) Inconsistant or B) Not good enough to throw out against the Yankees in the World Series.

Hamels has been bad this postseason. Everyone knows that he has pitched to the tune of a 6.52 ERA in three starts and has allowed six home runs in those three starts. What everyone else may have noticed as well is that for the season Hamels has allowed a batting line of .273/.315/.440. Those numbers are big jumps from his career averages and it seems the World Series hangover is still lingering in Hamels system.

And Blanton, well he is Joe Blanton. Now I know he won a World Series game last year. But he beat Andy Sonnanstine who was absolutely blown up by the Phils and he still allowed two home runs. That's before we even get to the fact that for his career, five Yankees hit over .300 against him including a disgusting .571 from Alex Rodriguez who has two homers in seven at bats against him.

On papar neither match up looks good for the Phillies, but the same could have been said for Game 2 with Pedro on the mound. It is unlikely that any game is a complete blow out. One reason is that it seems unlikely the Yankee offense is going to suddenly start destroying pitchers at this point. The other is that neither team is ever going to really be out of the game. There may be some high scoring affairs, but I doubt any team has a runaway game in Philly.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Burnett, Yanks Pull Even with Phils

It took A.J. Burnett 11 seasons to finally play in the postseason. It took four starts to finally win his first postseason game, but it was the biggest win of his career. Starring at an 0-2 hole and the disgrace of losing to Pedro Martinez, A.J. manned up like some knew he could and others thought he never would.

Burnett has endured a lot of scrutiny this postseason. More so than normal because of his preferred use of Jose Molina as a catcher as opposed to Yankee stalwart Jorge Posada. Until last night it looked as though Burnett's preference was in no way aiding his performance and of course now it looks genius.

Burnett threw seven innings of four hit baseball, striking out nine and only allowing one run. It could be argued that the run should not have even scored. Alex Rodriguez could easily have snagged that ball and thrown out the sluggish Matt Stairs.

Burnett lacked his usual wildness. He pounded the zone, throwing first pitch strikes to 22 of the 26 batters he faced. It is unlikely that any other pitcher matches Cliff Lee's Game 1 performance, but Burnett's crisp seven inning's will be tough for another pitcher to match with these two teams' lineups.

Aside from Burnett there is little to be said about another Yankee that is good. Sure Mark Teixeira hit a big home run and so did Hideki Matsui. It is nice that Jorge Posada came through with a clutch single off of Chan Ho Park, but really they were facing an old and decrepit Pedro Martinez. The guy didn't have much and it showed. He was constantly in the middle of the plate and the Yankees refused to make him pay for it. And don't even get me started on Derek Jeter bunting with two strikes. Can someone inform him that he has 2,747 career hits and that his career postseason batting average is .311? Just swing the bat already.

And because it didn't amount to anything I wont bother talking about the umpiring mistakes in this game. The umpiring has been ok in the series but slipped a bit last night.

So now we have a proper off-day as the teams hit the highway and head to Philly. This is where the Yankees can get back into the series. Cole Hamels has been inconsistent all year and just plan bad in the postseason. Pettitte has been reliable so the match up probably favors the Yankees.

Oh and Alex Rodriguez has been just awful so far in the series. 0-8 with six strikeouts is pretty dreadful. It looks like he has lost his swing a bit. Rodriguez can be forgiven for his Game 1 performance, but tonight against Pedro he was missing pitches right over the plate and was waving at cheap breaking balls away. That could be bad newsz for the Yankees. Without A-Rod as a force in the middle of that lineup they don't win the ALCS and they need someone to step up for him or he needs to get his groove back or things could get ugly.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lee and Utley Dominate Yanks

So it is apparent that Cliff Lee is disgusting and could be a huge force in the series. Same goes for Chase Utley. It is not like anyone didn't see these two guys coming, both have been close to the best at what they do for the past two or three seasons. Still, it is a bit disheartening that the Yankees would go down so easily in Game 1.

CC Sabathia was good for the Yankees. He was shakey all night but only made two real mistakes, both to Utley. Still seven innings of two run baseball is a solid effort for the big lefty. It is the Yankee bullpen that was the biggest disappointment of the night.

After Sabathia held the Phils in check for seven innings, the bullpen utterly collapsed. Phil Hughes looks like he is scared these past few rounds, and Brian Bruney should be nowhere a baseball diamond at this time of year. Combined all four relievers allowed four hits, three walks and four runs.

That simply will not get it done and if the bullpen continues to falter as it has then this could be a short series.

As for Game 2, the Yankees should destroy Pedro Martinez and with A.J. Burnett on the mound this game could easily end somewhere around 11-10. But here is the thing. The Yankees normally destroy pitchers like Pedro. He pitches to contact and can't really strike anyone out anymore. He doesn't have overly powerful stuff and relies on location and deception. These are all characteristics of pitchers the Yankees normally hit, meaning that in a playoff setting he is bound to dominate. Think Kenny Rogers circa 2006 (although he clearly cheated with his pine tar palm) or even Paul Byrd in '07.

No matter how Pedro pitches A.J. Burnett can do a lot to rehab his image after his poor performance in Game 5 of the ALCS. The Yankees need this game and Burnett needs a good showing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Game 1 Recap: Yankees 7, Twins 2

It didn't start the way the Yankees were hoping. While CC Sabathia had good stuff, he and Jorge Posada failed to get into a groove early on. In the first inning with Denard Span on second and Joe Mauer at the plate Sabathia uncorked a slider when Posada was looking fastball. Sabathia was able to bear down and strike out the AL Batting champ to negate the miscue.

What Sabathia could not prevent was a run from scoring when he and Posada were crossed up a second time in the third. He also couldn't prevent Posada from lallygagging to the passed ball, allowing Mauer to correct his hesitation and score the Twins second run. Posada may not like Jose Molina starting over him on Friday night, but his performance wasn't going to give Girardi too many second thoughts.

This, of course, set the stage for the Captain. After Melky Cabrera squeaked out an infield single, Derek Jeter drove a 1-0 pitch from Brian Duensing into the left-field seats to tie the game at two. From then on it was all Yankees. Sabathia found his groove and with the bats finding their stroke the Twins couldn't touch him the rest of the way. He struck out eight Twins over his 6.2 innings, dispelling myths that he could not perform on the big stage of postseason play. Sabathia made it a good night in Yankeeland.

Hell even A-Rod was hitting, that's how good things got for the Yankees. But speaking of A-Rod, can this finally stop? The constant analysis of his performance and the state of his psyche is bordering on the absurd. The reality is that players will have ten, sometimes 20 at bat stretches where they can't get themselves together. You can't take such small sample sizes, spread out over several years and say that he cannot perform in the postseason.

With those stigmas wiped clean, the onus now falls on whether A.J. Burnett and his battery mate Jose Molina measure up on Friday night.

In other news the Rockies were knocked around by the Phillies 5-1. Cliff Lee was spectacular and it is hard to envision the Rockies putting up much of a fight against the defending NL Champs. Cliff Lee was on point the entire game. So that is one way for Charlie Manual to avoid using his suspect bullpen. I would have preferred to see Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain dismantle people in the playoffs, but alas Brian Sabean has never been able to put together a decent lineup behind his ridiculous pitching staff.

The Dodgers and the Cardinals squared off in the nightcap. The Cardinals, with Chris Carpenter on the mound, dropped the opener 5-3. The scary thing about playing the Cardinals, aside from Albert Pujols, was facing Carpenter and Adam Wainwright at the top of the rotation. With Carpenter flopping in Game 1 the Cardinals are in bad shape. It seemed that every pitcher that came in for the Cards was scared of the Dodger lineup, consistantly pitching around hitters. The problem is that eventually you have to pitch to somebody.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Phillies Win It

No, I am not going to create some homophone in my headline using the letters "Ph". There were only 3 1/2 innings to play and the thing still took until 10pm. Oh well, I'm glad I was able to see the end. It was perfect actually, an hour and twenty minutes of excitement. Phillies take the lead, Rays tie it, Phillies take the lead back, Rays get tying run on base, Lidge shuts the door. It was a concentrated dose of baseball fun.

Now that it's over, is it time to start talking Sox and Yanks hotstove topics yet?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Typical Matsuzaka

Daisuke Matsuzaka was his normal self last night. He started the game by walking the bases loaded before wiggling out of a jam. The whole night he was practically unhittable and aside from his walk total he was brilliant.

I still think that at some point all his walks will catch up with him, but I doubt it will be this year. Tonight Josh Beckett is on the mound against Sox killer Scott Kazmir. Hopefully Kazmir digs deep, back to his former days when the Red Sox couldn't touch his filthy slider. This year he has been far from dominant against them, posting an ERA of 9.00 in four starts against the Sox. Beckett could still have a fragile oblique and the Rays will be ready to redeem themselves after last night when they left six men on base and struck out 11 times.

In the senior circuit the Phillies knocked off Joe Torre and the Dodgers for the second straight game. You know its not your night when you let the pitcher go 3-3 against you with three RBI and two runs scored.

Torre has been in this spot before and I don't think you can count out him or the Dodgers just yet. Manny is still jacking home runs and Hiroki Kuroda can dominate any game. Plus Jaime Moyer is a good guy to have in your regular season rotation but he leaves a lot to be desired in a playoff rotation.

Game 2 was crucial for the Dodgers. They probably weren't going to win any game that Cole Hamels pitched in but they could have easily won any game that wasn't pitched by him. Chad Billingsley laying an egg in Game 2 was a big letdown for Torre. Still they are very much in the series as they head back to LA.