Mike’s favorite player wraps up sweep over the Pirates

Sweep!!!

Raul Ibanez, Mike’s favorite player of all time, had three hits including two home runs and a walk off double in the tenth inning as the Phillies defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-5. With the win, the Phillies moved to 68-39 and gained a game in the division over the Atlanta Braves.  It was the fifth series sweep on the season and punctuated the Phillies’ tenth series win in their last eleven. The Phillies fought back twice, being down 2-1 and then 5-3, before winning in extras.  Antonio Bastardo picked up the win while Pirates reliever Tony Watson took the loss.  With today being the Major League trading deadline, the Phillies did not make additional moves before 4 PM. The Pirates, who added Derrek Lee last night, picked up Ryan Ludwick for the stretch run. The 54-52 Pirates, now 4.5 games back in the NL Central, go home to take on the dreadful Chicago Cubs. The Phillies head to Colorado to begin a ten game west coast trip starting tomorrow.

  The Phillies got the scoring started in the second inning when Raul started his home run binge with a solo shot to center. The Pirates however, took the lead on a Xavier Paul two run single in the fifth inning.  The Phils came back in the bottom half of the inning as Jimmy Rollins came up big with a two run single to retake the lead.  That was short-lived as the following half inning, Lyle Overbay hit a two out, two run home run to make it 4-3 Pirates. It was the first time Phillies starter Vance Worley gave up more than two runs since his disastrous start against the Mets in Citi Field.  Worley finished six innings, giving up four runs on seven hits, taking a no-decision. The Pirates added an insurance run in the seventh inning off of Brad Lidge when Garrett Jones doubled home Eric Fryer with two out. Obviously Jones was upset with my post on Friday calling him a terrible outfielder.  Pirates reliever Joe Beimel started the eighth inning after starter Jeff Karstens went seven strong innings, giving up three runs and leaving with a lead.  Beimel, the lefty did half his job when he got out Utley, but allowed Ryan Howard to reach base. Jose Veras replaced Beimel and got the first batter he faced, Hunter Pence to ground into a fielder’s choice. However his next batter, Raul Ibanez, took him deep to left center (Oppo Bobbo as one great announcer use to say) tying the game at 5.   In the tenth inning, Hunter Pence doubled with one out. With a tough lefty Tony Watson on the mound, Raul came up and ripped a pitch to right, allowing Pence to score and making the plane ride to Colorado a pleasant one.

Notes:

– Interesting year for Raul Ibanez. He was terrible in April and June, great in May and July. I guess this means he’s going to be good for September right?

– Ibanez had 7 home runs and 25 RBIs this month.

– His future replacement, Dom Brown went 1-2 for the Iron Pigs tonight.  His hitting streak for them is up to 20, a franchise high.

– It was kind of funny Lyle Overbay went deep today because Derrek Lee will zap any playing time Overbay has for the rest of the year.

-No moves for the Phillies today. I can see the Phillies picking up a bullpen arm for the August waivers, wouldn’t mind a bat off the bench either.

– The Phillies are 41-18 at home. Absolutely incredible.

– What’s a realistic record on the road trip? 6-4? 6-4 is probably the most likely scenario, but I’ll go out on a limb and say 7-3. (2 out of three from the Rockies, split with the Giants, and sweep the Dodgers)

– It took until game 151 for last year’s team to get to 29 games over .500.

What is it gonna take for Mike O to start a Rauuuuul chant?

Sports with Balls’ MLB Power Rankings 3rd Edition

World Series Contenders

#1. Philadelphia Phillies (68-39) – Hunter Pence has brought an energized feel to the Phillies lineup. Watch out if this continues.

#2. Boston Red Sox (66-40) – Boston was the favorite to win it all going into the season.  They remain the favorite to win the American League.

#3. Texas Rangers (61-48) – Rangers are making their move. They jump from 6 to 3 in our power rankings from last week. Championship lineup and a vastly improved bullpen post deadline.

#4. San Francisco Giants (61-47) – Pitching, pitching and offense? Carlos Beltran has been a beast in his postseason career despite watching Adam Wainwright’s final pitch back in ’06.

#5. New York Yankees (64-42) – They certainly hit without an issue.  The question about the Yanks is whether the staff can hold up.

#6. Atlanta Braves (63-46) – They missed out on Carlos Beltran and Hunter Pence. With the 3rd best option acquired in Michael Bourn, they remain the 3rd dog in the National League.

Contenders

#7. LA Angels (59-50) – They have a solid pitching staff. Offense struggles at times and no help is on the way.

#8. Detroit Tigers (57-51) – Justin Verlander twice in a best of five has to be cause for concern among the American League’s finest.

#9. Milwaukee Brewers (60-49) – The Brew Crew is making a charge. They are looking to break out in the NL Central.

#10. Arizona Diamondbacks (59-49) – Will Jason Marquis and Brad Ziegler be enough to win the west?

#11. St. Louis Cardinals (57-50) – They should hang tough in the division race but its going to be an up hill battle.

#12. Pittsburgh Pirates (54-52) – Jerry Meals’ mistake may end up being the turning point in the season. We will learn a lot about this squad in the next week following a 3 game sweep in Philly.

#13. Cleveland Indians (53-52) – Gotta love the aggressiveness out the Indians front office. If Ubaldo Jimenez gets it together they will get a big boost.

Still alive, sort of

#14. Tampa Bay Rays (56-51) – They didn’t buy. They didn’t sell. They are alive. Barely.

#15. Toronto Blue Jays (55-53) – Colby Rasmus could be a nice addition over the course of the next several seasons.

#16. Cincinnati Reds (53-55) – They have been a big disappointment. They need to turn it around if they want another tast of October baseball.

#17. New York Mets (55-53) – Despite trading K-Rod and Carlos Beltran, they would have a shot in either leagues’ central division.

#18. Chicago White Sox (52-54) – Must be awesome to play meaningful baseball heading into August at 2 games under .500.

#19. Florida Marlins (53-55)- They are looking to spring-board a solid 2nd half into a successful 2012 campaign in a new ballpark.

#20. Minnesota Twins (50-58) – Twins remain alive despite the fact that they just don’t have it this year.

Perhaps 2012 will go better

#21. Washington Nationals (51-56)At least Stephen Strasburg is progressing.

#22. Colorado Rockies (51-57) – Good bye Ubaldo. At least fans got a chance to see him pitch one last inning as a Rockie.

#23. San Diego Padres(47-62) – Heath Bell remains.

#24. Oakland Athletics (49-59)- At least Moneyball the movie is coming out on September 23rd.

#25-LA Dodgers (48-59)- Could you imagine this team without Matt Kemp?

#26. Kansas City Royals (46-62) – They are a good bad team. Meaning they have a positive future.

#27. Baltimore Orioles (42-63) – Another poor season out of those Baltimore Orioles.

#28. Seattle Mariners (45-62) – The 17 game losing streak finally ended. Unfortunately it did count.

#29. Chicago Cubs (42-65) – If they didn’t play at an iconic park they’d draw 10k a game to close out the year.

Ed Wade’s team

#30. Houston Astros (35-73) Bye Bye Hunter, Michael and future August guys. This team sucks.

2011 Pennsylvania State Champs

The Philadelphia Phillies are the 2011 PA State Champs.

2011 battle of Pennsylvania results:

6/3  Pirates 2, Phillies 1 (12 innings) from PNC Park

6/4 Pirates 6, Phillies 3 from PNC Park

6/5  Phillies 7, Pirates 3 from PNC Park

7/29 Phillies 10, Pirates 3 from Citizens Bank Park

7/30 Phillies 7, Pirates 4 from Citizens Bank Park

7/31 Phillies 6, Pirates 5 (10 innings) from Citizens Bank Park

Phillies win season series, 4-2.

The Phillies win their first state championship in 2 seasons.

2011 State Champions

After Losing Harden, Sox Add Bedard

When it came down late last night that the trade for Rich Harden fell through, Theo was right back on the phones. This afternoon, just a few minutes before the deadline it was announced that the Red Sox acquired Erik Bedard and Josh Fields from the Seattle Mariners in a three team trade. The Dodgers were also involved receiving prospects Tim Federowicz, Juan Rodriguez and Stephen Fife. Seattle gets Trayvon Robinson from Los Angeles and Chih Hsien Chiang from the Sox.

Erik Bedard – A solid pitcher in his days in Baltimore, he hasn’t been able to stay healthy at all in Seattle. In 15 starts this season he is 4-7 with a 3.45 era. He will be an addition to the rotation that may not get Clay Buchholz back this year.

Erik Bedard

Josh Fields – Was the Mariners first round pick in the 2008 draft. In two separate levels in Seattle’s system this year he is 1-2 with a  3.92 era and 3 saves.

Josh Fields

Braves Bring in Bourn

The Braves acquired Michael Bourn from the Houston Astros for Jordan Schafer and 3 minor league pitchers. The Braves had missed out on other outfield options in Carlos Beltran (Giants) and Hunter Pence (Phillies) to fellow National League contenders.

Michael Bourn – The all-star center fielder brings the Braves gold glove defense in the outfield along with a .300 hitter and speed on the base paths.

Michael Bourn

Jordan Schafer – Looks for a new start in Houston. Schafer reached the majors with high expectations but at this point has had a tough time putting it together.  The Astros also acquired LHP Brett Oberholtzer, RHP Paul Clemens and RHP Juan Abreu.

Jordan Schafer

Howard’s 4 hits lead the way as the Phillies hold off the Pirates

  For the second consecutive night, a Phillies player just missed the cycle as Ryan Howard went 4-4 in a Phillies 7-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Phillies had sixteen hits with every starter having at least one hit except Raul Ibanez. Cliff Lee struck out eleven, gave up four runs in seven and 2/3 innings and picked up his first win in the month of July. James McDonald took the loss for the Pirates, giving up ten hits and five runs in his five innings of work.  Neil Walker had three hits and a RBI for the Pirates while his teammate Pedro Alvarez hit his first home run since coming off the DL. Down 6-2 heading into the eight inning, the Pirates made it interesting, by cutting the deficit to two.  However, Antonio Bastardo struck Pedro Alvarez to end the inning and Ryan Madson struck out the side in the ninth inning to pick up his eighteen save of the season.  The Phillies and Pirates wrap up the season series tomorrow with Vance Worley taking on Jeff Karstens.

  Ryan Howard hit an absolutely moon shot of a home run to center that traveled an estimated 420 feet to lead off the second inning. The Phils tacked on two in the next inning as Jimmy Rollins hit a solo home run and few batters later, Howard doubled in Shane Victorino with one out. The Pirates got on the board in the next half inning when Pedro Alvarez hit a two run home run off of Cliff Lee, making it 3-2.  In the bottom half of the fourth inning a misplay by Pirates right fielder Steven Pearce on a Chase Utley single allowed Cliff Lee to score. The next batter, Ryan Howard singled scoring Jimmy Rollins and all the sudden, Howard was a triple shy of the cycle in the fourth inning.  With the Phillies up 6-2 in the 8th inning, the Pirates put the first two runners on against Cliff Lee.  After an Andrew McCutchen fielder’s choice, Neil Walker’s RBI single made it 6-3.  After another fielder’s choice, Brandon Wood singled to score McCutchen and that was all for Lee.  Antonio Bastardo replaced Lee and struck out Pedro Alvarez to end the threat.  The Phillies added an insurance run in their half of the eight when Hunter Pence had his first Phillies hit and RBI. Ryan Madson closed the door in the ninth, giving  the Phillies their 67th win of the year and their tenth series win in the last eleven.

 Notes:

-Hunter Pence went 1-5 with an RBI. He was robbed of a hit in the second inning when first base umpire Angel Hernandez called him out when in fact he beat the throw to first.

-Let me get this out-of-the-way now…I hated/despised Hunter Pence as an Astro.

– In the eighth inning, the Pirates walked Ryan Howard intentionally to bring up a first and third with one out situation for Hunter Pence.  Prior to the Pence trade, Raul Ibanez and his .237 batting average would have come up in. That usually meant an infield pop up, strikeout, or a double play. However this time, Pence laced a ball to center scoring an additional insurance run. 

– Lee probably should have been pulled after seven, but I have no problem with Charlie’s decision to let Lee start the eight inning.

– While I disagree with the decision of sending Dom Brown down, I did like how he started in left field for the Iron Pigs tonight. (1-3 with 2 walks)

-I like to see the Phillies add a bullpen arm, but I’m not banking on it.

-Hell of a play by Rollins to save a run in the first inning.

– Ruben Amaro was in the TV booth during the game and said he knows there are GMs smarter than him.  Does anyone really think he believes that?

Thanks for the help Hunter!

Locked out

Baseball is preparing for pennant fever. The NFL is enjoying its most exciting off-season week in recent memory. Even hockey had a run of attention when free agency opened. The NBA is locked out. Does anyone care?  Is anyone angered or upset?  Does the casual fan even realize there is a lockout in progress?  It appears that the NBA has developed into the forgotten sport.

 

Is the NBA dead?