AL West Preview

Josh Hamilton’s signing made the LA Angels the clear favorite in the AL West. Will they live up to expectations?

Continue reading

Doc cures the Phillies’ woes, clinch playoff spot.

Roy Halladay threw his first complete game shut out of the year as the Phillies defeated the Houston Astros 1-0 today. With the win, the Phillies became the first team in baseball to clinch a playoff spot.  It’s also the earliest that the franchise clinched a playoff spot in their history.  Halladay struck out seven, gave up six hits and just a walk to pick up his 18th win of the season. He also now the National League leader in ERA. Bud Norris was the tough luck loser for the Astros, only giving up a run in seven innings. The Phillies head home for a double-header against the Marlins tomorrow while Houston heads to Chicago to take on the Cubs.

Shane Victorino, who’s been terrible at the plate, ripped a double to center to start the game.  Placido Polanco hit a single to center that scored Victorino and in the blink of an eye, the Phillies were up 1-0.  The Astros had their biggest scoring chance in the second inning with the bases loaded and no out.  After an error and two singles, Roy Halladay got Jose Altuve to ground into a fielder’s choice that forced out the runner at the plate.  Doc would then get Humberto Quintero to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to escape the jam.  Things got a little testy in the bottom of the fifth inning. Astros’ starter Bud Norris was trying to sacrifice a runner to second base when Halladay threw a pitch up and in.  Norris took exception to that and stared back at Doc. That made Carlos Ruiz say something back to Norris, but nothing came of it.  Roy got his revenge when he singled to lead off the next inning.  Ryan Howard came up in that inning with bases loaded and one out, but struck out. Raul Ibanez couldn’t pick up his teammate when he flew out to end the inning.  The Phillies only had four hits in the game and just two after the first two batters of the game.  The Astros only had six hits in the game as both starting pitchers were very good.  Halladay got Jose Altuve to strike out to end the game, giving the Phillies’ their fifth straight playoff appearance.

Notes:

-Opponents are hitting under .120 with the bases loaded against Doc.

-Offense is definitely in a lull right now.

-You can tell Ryan Howard’s foot is still bothering him. He grimaces after every step.

-At bats like he had with the bases loaded and one out today drive me crazy.

– Michael Martinez still sucks are baseball.

-No celebration by the Phillies as they clinched a playoff spot and I’m glad. This team knew they were good on April 1st.

-However, it’s pretty amazing to see your team being the first to clinch a playoff spot.

Phils look to halt skid, avoid sweep from Astros

Who would’ve thought two days ago that we would be sitting here at work Wednesday morning discussing the Astros attempting to sweep the Phillies. Given, I would much rather lose to the Astros than get swept by Milwaukee or Atlanta. In the long run, this series means nothing but it would be nice to see the Phillies perhaps try. Former Phillies Brett Myers and JA Happ did their jobs, combining to throw 14 innings and giving up just two runs.

The Phillies have now lost three consecutive games for the first time since dropping four from May 31-June 4. Here’s a fun stat I found on Phillies.com…since 2000, the Astros are the only team in the National League with a winning record against the Phillies. They are now 45-33 over that span.

Today’s game is a matinee to finish the series as Doc will try to help the Phils salvage a win from the Astros. First pitch is set for 2:05pm at Minute Maid Park. 

Roy Halladay: 17-5, 2.44 ERA

Halladay pitched brilliantly again in his last start against Milwaukee, pitching eight innings of one-run ball while striking out nine. The Phils are 6-4 in Halladay’s last ten starts, where Doc has lowered his ERA from 2.57 to the current 2.44. Recently, Roy is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA over his last three starts and is 1-1 with a 1.64 ERA in his career against the Astros. Doc faced Houston on Opening Day this season, a 5-4 Phils win. He went six innings and gave up one run while striking out six. Doc is 9-3 with a 2.55 ERA on the road this year, where opponents are hitting .251 against him. The Astros are hitting just .212 as a team against Halladay with Carlos Lee having the most at-bats at 29. He is hitting .249 over those plate appearances with three homers and four RBI’s. He has also struck out six times against the Phils number one.

Bud Norris: 6-9, 3.78 ERA

Bud pitched well in his last start but it wasn’t good enough for the Astros. He went seven innings against the Nationals and gave up three runs (two earned) while striking out four. The ‘Stros are 4-6 in his last ten starts and Norris has gotten wins in just one of those four. He was on the losing side of a 7-3 game against the Phillies back in April. The Phils scored five runs against him in four innings. Despite chasing him away early in the start, Norris still managed to strike out seven. Bud is 4-5 with a 3.90 ERA at home this season, where opponents are hitting .254 against him. The Phils are hitting .309 as a team against Norris. Ryan Howard leads the team in plate appearances against the Astros righty with ten. In those at-bats, he has four hits including a homer and five RBI’s. Ben Francisco has two homers against Norris in five at-bats while J-Roll has four hits in nine at-bats with a homer. Bud Norris is 1-2 with a 5.32 ERA lifetime against the Phils over 18 2/3 innings.