I wouldn’t want to use my best reliever either Charlie!

Bases loaded. 2 outs. You’re up a run.  You have Josh Lindblom or Jonathan Papelbon.  Who do you use? Apparently, Charlie rather use Lindblom in that spot as the Phillies lost tonight 7-4 to the Milwaukee Brewers.  Corey Hart hit a grand slam with two outs in the 8th inning to give the Brewers the lead that ultimately won them the game. The terrible Livan Hernandez picked up a win while Lindblom wasted a 12 strikeout outing from Cliff Lee.  Lee pitched into the 8th inning, giving up three runs on three solo home runs (two by Ryan Braun and one by Aramis Ramirez).

This book is terrible Charlie, stop using it.

Braun and Ramirez got the scoring started in the bottom half of the first inning, going back to back.  Ramirez’ home run was a majestic shot to center field.  In third,  Jimmy Rollins led off the inning with a single and stole second.  Rollins caught Aramis Ramirez and Marco Estrada napping as he stole third without a throw.  Continue reading

State of the 2012 Phillies

            Last season the Phillies won a franchise record 102 games with an average offense and great pitching staff. Expectations were high heading into the season with Cliff Lee joining the fold and those expectations didn’t change as the season went along.  On September 17th,Philadelphia defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 9-2 and clinched their fifth consecutive NL East title.  Following the win, the team went on an eight game losing streak that scared a lot of the fan base, however others mention that they had nothing to play for as a big factor.  The Phillies finished the season on a four game winning streak, sweeping the Atlanta Braves and actually knocked them out of the playoffs on the final day.  This allowed the St. Louis Cardinals to win the NL Wildcard and set up a first round matchup against the Phillies.  The Cardinals finished up 16-5 to conclude the season en-route to passing the Braves.

The Phillies won their 5th consecutive division title

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Chase Utley is out until….?

According to multiple reports, Chase Utley has left Spring Training to see a doctor for his troubling knees. He hasn’t played in any Spring Training games and will likely begin the year on the disabled list. Rookie Freddy Galvis, who was supposed to begin the year in the minors, is probably going to be your starting second baseman on Opening Day against the Pirates. Many scouts feel that Galvis is a major-league ready shortstop defensively, but many questions still remain about his offense.  All during Spring Training even when Utley didn’t play, GM Ruben Amaro expected Utley to be ready for the season and now that’s doubtful.  The Phillies will begin the season with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard on the DL, so just how much will the offense struggle? 

My take: This is tough to swallow, but it seems like Chase Utley’s knees will prevent him from being the great player he once was. I wish Charlie would have sat him more often,  but there’s nothing you can do now. Hopefully when Howard and Utley do eventually return, Charlie is much smarter when giving the veterans more rest days. I’m not doom and gloom with this season though.  The fact of the matter is this team was second in the National League in runs scored after the All-Star Break.  The pitching staff will keep this team afloat until Howard gets back and they’ll still win their 6th NL East title in a row.

Philly Spotlight Q&A with Marc Farzetta

Marc Farzetta, Host/Update Anchor at Sportsradio 94WIP in Philadelphia, was kind enough to join the Sports With Balls team for a quick Q&A session.

The Phillies are down in Clearwater preparing for another season, the Flyers and Sixers  are inching closer to the postseason, and the Eagles are getting ready for a big off-season.

Marc provides some insight into the current events in Philly sports.

Sports with Balls question in italics.

Marc’s response in bold.

Do you believe DeSean Jackson will be back with the Eagles next season?
Yes, he will be back. This is a Super Bowl or Bust year (to use an overused phrase!). No
Super Bowl Appearance and Andy Reid will not return for a 15th Season as the Eagles Head
Coach. DeSean and Michael Vick already have the chemistry built. DeSean will be tagged
and kept because Reid won’t want to risk someone coming in and being a bust. I would love
to see the Eagles sign him to a 3-year 27 Million dollar deal, but doubt that would happen.

DeSean Jackson - back for 2012?

Who is the top team in Philadelphia right now? Eagles? Phillies? Flyers? Sixers?
No question about it: Phillies. They have given the fans the parade and not acted the least bit arrogant about it. The Eagles? No parade, but still a healthy helping of arrogance. Flyers and Sixers need some major changes to compete with either.

Phillies won the hearts of Philadelphia with the '08 parade

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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.

Halladay says hold on a second, Howard stays hot in the win.

 Roy Halladay told NL Cy Young award voters not to forget about him as he threw eight innings of one run ball as the Phillies defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-3 last night. Ryan Howard’s three run home run in the first inning led the way offensively as he now has 111 RBIs. Doc gave up just four hits and struck out nine in the win.  Ryan Madson cleaned up the ninth inning to pick up his 29th save of the year.  Every Phillies hitter except for Wilson Valdez had at least one hit.  Shaun Marcum gave up five runs in the loss. Yuniesky Betancourt had two RBIs for the Brewers as they managed to bring the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning before Madson got George Kottaras to ground out to end the game.

With a pitching matchup as good as Halladay, Marcum, one mistake could be all the difference.  That one mistake was by Marcum as he gave up a long three run home run to Ryan Howard in the first inning. The Phillies would load the bases in the third inning, but Wilson Valdez grounded out to end the inning. The Brewers started to get something going in the bottom of the fourth inning. With the bases loaded and one out, Yuniesky Betancourt hit a sharp ground ball to Valdez, who flipped to Pete Orr, who finished the double play by throwing to Howard. Raul Ibanez continued his hot month with an RBI single in the 7th inning. Carlos Ruiz also threw in a RBI single in the same inning. Betancourt gave the Brewers’ the first run in the bottom of that inning.  Antonio Bastard tried to finish up the game for Halladay, but struggled.  In the ninth inning, he allowed Prince Fielder to single and then walked Casey McGehee.  Charlie Manuel pulled Bastardo for Madson.  After a Jerry Hairston ground out, Betancourt singled home Fielder and Jonathan Lucroy had a sac fly.  George Kottaras grounded out to end the game.

Notes:

-Magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 3. That’s crazy.

-Halladay really struggled against the Brewers in his last few starts, nice rebound indeed.

-Wilson Valdez left 10 men on base, haha

-Worried about Bastardo? I’m not there yet, but I think he might have hit a wall.

 -I understand it’s only September 10th, but Howard is hitting .346 with a 1.259 OPS in September.

Stud.

Phils Aim for Fifth Straight as Doc Toes the Rubber

The Phils were impressive last night. Winning the game by a score of 7-2 without Utley, Howard and Rollins in the lineup. Hunter Pence had a great night at the plate, going to 2-for-5 with three RBI’s and Cole Hamels continued his succesful season with a complete game effort, yielding two runs on four hits while striking out two. He lowered his ERA to 2.60. Wilson Valdez, John Mayberry Jr. and Ben Francisco all had two hit games and tallied an RBI each.

Chase Utley will not be with the team on the road trip due to his concussion symptoms.

Here is what tonight’s pitching matchup looks like. First pitch is slated for 8:10pm at Miller Park…

Roy Halladay: 16-5, 2.49 ERA

Surprisingly, the Phillies have lost three out of the last four Halladay starts, the most recent one this past weekend in Florida. Doc had a rare “off” start, going just six innings. He gave up three runs (two earned) and struck out four. Halladay is 1-2 with a 6.41 ERA against the Brewers in his career but is 8-3 with a 2.66 this season on the road. He went 3-1 with a 2.62 ERA in August over five starts. The Brewers collectively have a .223 average against Halladay. Prince Fielder has just 10 at-bats against Doc, but has gotten six hits including a homer and two RBI’s.  Yuniesky Betancourt is hitting .333 with two doubles and three RBI’s. Jerry Hairston has the most plate appearances against Halladay but is hitting just .097 with eight strikeouts

Shaun Marcum: 12-5, 3.11 ERA

No Shaun Marcum bobblehead? WHAT?! Bummer. Marcum is coming off of a dominant start against the Astros, giving up just one hit over seven shutout innings. It was just his second win since July 28th. Shaun is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA lifetime against the Phils but the Brewers are just 15-14 in his starts, despite hit relatively low earned run average. Marcum has a 3.95 ERA at Miller Park this season, which is a lot higher than the 2.31 ERA he carries on the road. Ryan Howard has two homers and four RBI’s in just six at-bats against Marcum while Raul Ibanez and Hunter Pence have a homer each. Polanco has a .556 average in nine-at bats against the Brewers righty but has not registered an RBI. As a team, the Phils are hitting .271 against Marcum.

Phils take Leake to the cleaners, not Macy’s, sweep Reds.

Ryan Howard and Michael Martinez each hit home runs as the Phillies held off the Reds 6-4 to complete the four game sweep in the Queen City. Vance Worley won his 10th game of the season while Mike Leake took the loss. A pinch-hit three run home run by Chris Heisey made things interesting the seventh inning, but the combo of Brad Lidge, Antonio Bastardo, and Ryan Madson held the fort down. Madson picked up his 26th save of the season. With his home run, Ryan Howard became the third Phillies hitter since 1900 to have six consecutive seasons of 30 home runs and 100 RBIs.  Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who had two hits in the game, said on his twitter after the game that “the Phillies are the best team in the National League.”  The Phillies head to Florida to play the Marlins while the disappointing Reds head to St. Louis to face a suddenly streaking Cardinals.

The Phillies jumped on Reds starter Mike Leake in the third inning.  With one out, Hunter Pence doubled to right and Raul Ibanez walked.  Brian Schneider singled to right scoring Pence and giving the Phillies the 1-0 lead. Wilson Valdez had an infield hit that loaded the bases with one out for Vance Worley. Worley helped his own cause with a RBI single to center.  The next batter, Shane Victorino added his own RBI single to make it 3-0 Phillies.  With the score 3-1, Ryan Howard hit a solo home run to center for his 30th of the year. In the 7th inning, Michael Martinez hit his first home run since July 23rd with a two run home run.  In the bottom of the seventh inning, Worley ran into his first bit of trouble.  After allowing a double and single to lead off the inning, Vanimal gave up a three run home run to Chris Heisey.  Vance’s day was done after that. Worley went six innings, gave up four runs, and had seven strikeouts (six looking).  After Lidge struck out one and then walked Edgar Renteria, Antonio Bastardo got the reigning NL MVP Joey Votto to ground into a double play.  Bastardo continued his dominating season by striking out the side in the 8th inning.  Ryan Madson had a 1,2,3 9th inning to wrap up the four game sweep.

Notes:

-Bastardo has been a saving grace for this bullpen this year.

-Hopefully this is the start of another great September for Ryan Howard.

-This is only the second time in franchise history that the team is 41 games over .500.  We could be watching the best team in Phillies history. Pending October results.

-4-0 start to the 33 games in 31 days.

-The Phillies could play below .500 and still reach 100 wins. Incredible.