Lee dominates as Phillies take series

Cliff Lee joined elite company tonight as he became the third pitcher in Major League Baseball history to have two separate months of at least five wins, no losses and an ERA under 1.00. The other two players….Walter Johnson and Bob Gibson. Let that sink it for a moment.  Lee won his fifteen game of the season in a 3-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds tonight.  Ryan Madson recorded the final out of the game to pick up his 25th save of the year. Hunter Pence hit his 18th home run of the season while Carlos Ruiz had three hits in the win.  Reds starter Dontrelle Willis pitched into the seventh inning, allowing three runs, five hits, struck out six, but walked five in defeat. The teams wrap up the series tomorrow at 12:35 with Vance Worley taking on Mike “Macys” Leake.

The Phillies got the scoring started in first inning. Willis walked Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco to lead off the game. Chase Utley would ground into a fielders’ choice to set up a 1st and 3rd with one out situation for Ryan Howard.  Howard got his 103rd RBI of the season when Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips couldn’t find the first base bag on the feed from the shortstop Paul Janish.  With Dontrelle Willis really struggling with his command, the Phillies had the bases loaded with one out in the second inning.  Unfortunately, Victorino popped out and Polanco grounded out to end the inning.  Hunter Pence added an insurance run with a solo home run to right center in the top of the sixth inning.  Chase Utley had an RBI in the seventh inning on a fielders’ choice.  The Reds’ only scoring chance came in the ninth inning.  After recording the first two outs, Lee allowed a double, a walk, and then hit Miguel Cairo. Ryan Madson came in to face pinch-hitter Yonder Alonso and got him to foul out to third to end the game.

Notes:

-Did you read that stat in the first paragraph? Walter Johnson, Bob Gibson, Cliff Lee. WHAT??!?!?!?!

-Hunter Pence has 7 home runs in 27 games as a Phillie, 11 home runs in 100 games as an Astro

-The Phillies need to go 16-14 the rest of the year for Hunter Pence to equal his win total with the Astros

-I understand Lee’s a pitcher, but Cliff, run the ball out when you hit it.

-I get that Lee was at 117 pitches, but I would have gave him one more batter.

-Very small crowds in Cincinnati.  I understand they are out of it, but you figure a team with Votto, Bruce, Phillips, and Chapman would be fun to watch. Joey Votto is worth the price of admission himself.

-Reds catch a break tomorrow with Vance Worley….he hasn’t lost since May.

Cliff Lee. Bob Gibson. Walter Johnson. Wild numbers from Lee.

NCAA Football Top Ten and Conference Champions Preview

On Thursday night the 2011 NCAA football season kicks off another exciting year.  Now we go inside the huddle and preview the top ten teams entering the 2011 season.

10. Nebraska – The favorite to win the Big Ten this season behind their option quarterback Taylor Martinez. Rex Burkehead has his work cut out for him replacing Roy Helu Jr, who had a monster year in their backfield last season. The defense will still be solid but losing Prince Amakamara leaves a huge hole in their secondary.

Taylor Martinez

9.  Oklahoma State – The combination of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon will be a nightmare for Big 12 secondaries. The Cowboy offense will be lethal but the defense needs to step up, the problem is only two of their front seven return this season.

Justin Blackmon

8. Texas A&M – Ryan Tannehill, Jeff Fuller and Cyrus Gray lead an Aggie offense that will put up a ton of points. The linebacking corps which was such a strength last season loses first round pick Von Miller.

Cyrus Gray

 7. Stanford – Cardinals lose Jim Harbaugh to the NFL but return the Heisman front-runner Andrew Luck. Secondary will still be very strong with both safeties returning but they lose 11 starters on both sides of the ball.

Andrew Luck

 6. Florida State – The Seminoles may have their best team since Bobby Bowden’s prime. E.J. Manuel takes over the reigns from Christian Ponder with plenty of play makers on offense. Mark Stoops, brother of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops will bring some new excitement to the defense.

E.J. Manuel

5. Boise State – Kellen Moore returns for his senior season, but his offense is not nearly as explosive without receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young. It’s not all bad though because basically the whole offensive line returns and they have a speedy tailback in Doug Martin. A good portion of the defense returns with Shea McClellin dominating on the defensive line and Byron Hout making tackles at linebacker.

Kellen Moore

4. LSU – Les Miles will have a really good football team, but will be without his starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson for their big showdown against Oregon Week 1. The offense returns almost everyone but the defense has some big holes in middle linebacker and cornerback after losing Kelvin Shepard and Patrick Peterson.

Jordan Jefferson

3. Oregon – Chip Kelly will have the Ducks hungry after being so close to a National Championship last year. Get your tracks shoes on with this offense because LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and Darron Thomas will put up a ton of points and do it quickly.

LaMichael James

2. Alabama – Offense loses three key pieces in Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Greg McElroy. Trent Richardson will step in for Ingram behind an offensive line loaded with talent. If they do not figure out the quarterback situation the Crimson Tide could struggle in the very competitive SEC.

Trent Richardson

1. Oklahoma –  Sooners head into 2011 as the team to beat. The quarterback-receiver tandem of Landy Jones and Ryan Broyles could keep some Big 12 defensive coordinators up at night.  Bob Stoops’s offense is lethal but the defense will make some noise as well with Travis Lewis at linebacker and Jamell Fleming at cornerback causing chaos all over the field.

Landry Jones

Title Game and Conference Champion Predictions:


ACC – Florida State vs Virginia Tech

Big East – South Florida

Big Ten – Ohio State vs Nebraska

Big 12 – Oklahoma

Mountain West – Boise State

Pac 12 – Oregon vs Arizona State

SEC – South Carolina vs LSU

Heisman Winner – LaMichael James



Phillies hit four home runs, Halladay throws a gem

 The Phillies offense hit four home runs in a 9-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds last night. Roy Halladay won his 16th game of the year, going seven innings, striking out nine and allowing just two hits.  He even decided to get into the hitting act by hitting a three run double.  Ryan Howard went deep twice and had three RBIs. With his two run home run in the fourth inning, Howard became the only person in Phillies history to have six consecutive 100 RBI seasons. Say what you want about him, that’s pretty impressive.  Raul Ibanez made an appearance, going 3 for 5 with a home run and two RBIs. Hunter Pence made up for his misplay the previous night, by going 2 for 5 with a home run.  The Reds had four hits the entire night and their only scoring chance came in the seventh inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Doc was masterful. He got pinch-hitter Todd Frazier to strike out and Ryan Hanigan to ground into a force out to end the inning. Brad Lidge and Michael Schwimer wrapped up the eight and ninth inning.  With the win, the Phillies move to 85-46 and 7 1/2 games up in the National League East. Cliff Lee will take the mound today for the Phillies, while familiar foe Dontrelle Willis takes the ball for the Reds.

Notes:

-Halladay is incredible. That is all.

-I’m not the biggest of Howard fans, but that fact he’s done something Mike Schmidt or Chuck Klein have never done is impressive.

-Apologies for the short recap, a cheesteak filled late night is to blame.

– At least the Reds catch a break today from Hamels and Halladay with Cliff Lee….

Brown and Out – Phils “Top” Prospect Booed

It wasn’t too long ago that Phillie fans were salivating over the arrival of top prospect, Domonic Brown. Last year, we got a small sample size of Brown over a span of 35 games and needless to say, we weren’t impressed. Brown was called up to the majors on July 28th of 2010 and seemed to have won the hearts of fans on day one, going 2-for-3 with two RBI’s in his debut against the Diamondbacks. Dom never really played on a regular basis, so it was tough for him to hit his stride or merely grow at all. He hit just .210 over the 35 games with two homers and 13 RBI’s.

Fast forward to this year. Brown and Ben Francisco were slated to take over the right field gig for the departed Jayson Werth. Fans seemed to have confidence in the decision at first, but as you can see by the addition of Hunter Pence, the original plan didn’t work out too well. Although Dom had a .335 on-base percentage, Ruben Amaro opted to send him down to the minors to further work on his game offensively and defensively. That coupled with the emergence of John Mayberry made that move a no-brainer. Francisco didn’t do anything to “wow” the Phillies brass either, leading to the trade that brought Pence to town. Anyways, that is besides the point. The fact is we all expected a lot of Mr. Brown and he hasn’t even been close to meeting our expectations. Since being demoted to Lehigh Valley, he has struggled, hitting just .236 with a homer and five RBI’s. Management also decided to move Brown over to left field with Raul Ibanez’s contract up after 2011.

Let’s just say he just hasn’t been taking the transition too well. After picking up his game offensively (11-for-34 in the last 10 games before Monday), Brown had an absolutely atrocious game in left field yesterday. Fans booed him and began chanting “send Brown down”.  He had one bad error and other misplays as well. To make things worse, Dom was 0-for-6 with four strikeouts. Check out the video here courtesy of thefightins.com and Service Electric…

A rough year without a doubt for Dom. We can only hope that he regains confidence in his swing and defense soon so he can be up with the big club to platoon with Mayberry in left to start next season.

Until then, I’m okay with just John Mayberry Jr, that’s for sure.

Victorino leaves Cincinnati Red

  Shane Victorino’s two run home run in the eight inning was the difference maker as the Phillies held off the Cincinnati Reds 3-2 on Monday. Cole Hamels was very good in his return from the DL, but did not factor in the decision. He went six innings, gave up two hits, one run and had seven strikeouts. Hamels only threw 76 pitches, but the Phillies coaches didn’t want to push him considering he hadn’t pitched in 19 days.  Homer Bailey did indeed give up a home run, but pitched very well in the loss. He went eight innings and struck out nine.  Antonio Bastardo picked up his  sixth  win of the season after pitching a scoreless seventh, striking out the side. Ryan Madson allowed the winning run to plate in the ninth inning, but got Edgar Renteria to ground out to end the game.  Roy Halladay will take on Bronson Arroyo tomorrow. Halladay is looking to not be rained on first time since August 16th.

  Offensive was a premium in this game. Hamels and Bailey had dueling perfect games through three innings before a Chase Utley infield single in the fourth inning. In the Reds’ half of the fourth, Brandon Phillips “tripled” on a misplay by Hunter Pence in right field. Pence got all tangled up and misjudged the ball that allowed Phillips to get to third. Two batters later, a Joey Votto RBI ground out gave the Reds a 1-0 lead.  The Phillies answered right back in the fifth. With runners on first and second, Wilson Valdez hit a fly ball to left that Dave Sappelt misplayed into a RBI double.  In the eight inning, Wilson Valdez (stud) had a lead off single. Pinch-hitter Michael Martinez tried to sacrifice him to second, but failed miserably.  Shane Victorino bailed him out when he hit a bomb to right field, giving the Phillies a 3-1 lead.  Mike Stutes continued to struggle as he gave up three hits in the eight inning including a Dave Sappelt RBI single.  Ryan Madson allowed the tying run to reach second base, but escaped any further troubles to seal the game.

Notes:

-Why was Mike Stutes pitching in the 8th? Should have went Stutes in the 7th and then Bastardo in the 8th.

-Shane Victorino might not win the MVP, but he sure has to be in discussion.

-Cole Hamels had very little rust.

-It’s amazing how much Cole dominates the Reds.

-I wonder what would have happened if Dom Brown misplayed that ball in right field?

-I’d really like the Phillies to get Jason Giambi for the bench, but I know it won’t happen. I’m tired of Ross Gload’s failing hip and Michael Martinez.

Ripping the heart out of Cincinnati

Game Time

At 12:01 Tuesday morning a new Madden hits the shelves and will lead to many people not sleeping, working or eating for a few days. The release of the game got me thinking what are the top ten sports games that I loved to play for hours. Here is my top ten.

10. NHL 94 – The only hockey game on this list. Game play was very easy and for its time graphics were solid.

9. NBA Jam – Most unrealistic game on this list. You could dunk from half court and shoot fire three pointers.

8. Bases Loaded – Did not have any real players and all the stadiums looked the same. You could hit a ground ball and get a triple.

7. World Series Baseball – The catchers view was an unusual perspective to play from. First game I remember where you could do a fantasy draft and create a mega team.

6. NBA 2K- Best graphics in a basketball game. Was an NBA Live guy, but the realism of this game had me switch.

5. Tiger Woods – So real it feels like you are on the course. They even give you a caddy this year, how cool is that.

4. Tecmo Super Bowl – A football classic. Sure graphics and game play have improved but this classic will always hold a place in every football fans heart.

Watch Bo Jackson go nuts on Tecmo Super Bowl in a previous blog post

3. NCAA Football – From the rivalry games to the cheerleaders and mascots leading you on the field, this game has it all. You can even start a dynasty where you recruit players and build your program to national prominence.

2. Madden – Since 1995 I have been playing Madden and every year this game gets even better. Madden has a cult following and is the cream of the crop for football games.

1. MLB The Show – Cannot even begin to count the amount of hours I have spent playing this game. The franchise and season mode make you feel as if you’re in the dugout or front office running these teams.

Vick signs on the dotted line

 According to Andrew Brandt of the National Football Post, the Philadelphia Eagles and Michael Vick have agreed to a six-year  100 million dollar contract with 40 million guaranteed.  Vick signed a two-year, 5.5 million dollar deal in August of 2009, so he gets quite the pay raise. In a little over two years, Michael has gone from a sideshow, wildcat player to the franchise leader. Last season he threw for just over 3,000 yards with 21 touchdown passes.  Vick also rushed for 676 yards and nine touchdowns.  There are high expectations for Vick and the Eagles this season and the contract will hopefully not be an added pressure for the quarterback.  For Eagles’ fans, it has to be one of the better off-seasons in history. Perhaps the only thing left now before the season starts is making a certain wide receiver from Cal happy.

A lot has changed in the last two years for Vick.