Results tagged ‘ Phillies ’
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The Philadelphia Phillies pounded their way to an 8-6 victory in Game 5, pushing the World Series back to New York and postponing any celebration plans the New York Yankees may have had on Monday.
Slugging second baseman Chase Utley slugged his way into the record books with his second multi-home run game of the World Series, belting two homers and driving in four runs.
Utley’s big night gave him a share of two postseason records. His five homers in this series ties Reggie Jackson for the most in a single World Series, while Utley’s seven career Fall Classic home runs are the most by any second baseman in baseball history.
Outside of Utley, the Phillies had Cliff Lee working on the hill as they stared elimination in the face and live to fight another day. Lee was not as sharp as his Game 1 masterpiece, but with eight runs of support he didn’t have to be.
The lefty was pitching well into the eighth inning before a Yankee rally forced his exit. His final line was five earned runs on seven hits and three walks with three strikeouts over seven innings. Three of the runs scored in that eighth frame when the first three batters reached against Lee.
Raul Ibanez enjoyed a 2-for-4 night with a homer and two RBI’s in the winning effort. While much of the attention had been on Ryan Howard‘s struggles, Ibanez had struck out seven times in his prior 12 at-bats, so a good night for the left fielder was a welcome sign for the Philadelphia offense.
Speaking of Howard, Game 5 was yet another tough night in this series for the Phillies clean-up hitter. His futility at the plate reached record proportions when he was punched out twice on Monday to tie a World Series record with 12 strikeouts thus far in the series.
The bad news for Howard, if you want to call it that, is that he will set a record with his next strikeout, but the Yankees should be aware there is a flip side to that coin. It only takes one swing of the bat with a couple men on base for Howard to change the game. Look for the Yankees to continue feeding Howard the steady diet of breaking pitches he has seen throughout this World Series.
Howard has some elite company though, as both first basemen have struggled. Mark Teixeira is just 2-for-19, but has scored four runs, homered and knocked in two others while striking out seven times. Those are hardly big time numbers, but when compared to Howard’s 3-for-19 with two runs scored, one RBI and 12 punch-outs… well, you get the picture. It’s safe to say that each team would love to see their first baseman break out in a big way in Game 6.
Looking Ahead to Game 6:
The series shifts back to New York and a match-up of veteran hurlers will be on tap in the Bronx. All-time postseason wins leader Andy Pettitte will get the ball on three days rest against Pedro Martinez of the Phillies. It is truly a fascinating duel in the making. While Pettitte needs no postseason introduction, Pedro is still searching for a big game start that could help define his legacy in the playoffs.
As of now, most people remember October 16, 2003. Of course, that is the well documented and ill-fated night on which Boston manager Grady Little left Martinez in with a 5-3 lead with the Red Sox just five outs away from the World Series. The Yankees had other ideas.
This is a different Pedro Martinez. His high-90s fastball has long since vanished. This is a Pedro who relies on his wits, guile and a slew of off-speed pitches to get the job done. This is a Pedro who has to outthink hitters rather than blowing them away. He departed his first series start with a grin on his face, but Game 6 has much more on the line. I’d count on seeing a focused Pedro.
Looking at each hurler’s initial start in this series, Pedro had the better of the two, but it was Pettitte who put one in the win column. Martinez went six innings and allowed three runs on six hits while walking two and striking out eight in his Game 2 starting assignment. Pettitte spotted the Phillies three early runs in Game 3, but settled down to go six innings and allow four total runs on five hits and three walks to go along with seven strikeouts.
The Yankees will get to insert a red-hot Hideki Matsui back into the line-up as the designated hitter is back in play. It would stand to reason that the Phillies will start the right hand hitting Ben Francisco instead of Matt Stairs against the lefty Pettitte. That would give the edge in the DH department, at least on paper, to the Yankees. Mutsui is 5-for-9 with two homers, while Francisco is hitless in four World Series at-bats.
Though there are quite a few stars lining up, World Series games have a way of finding unsung heroes, so there is no guarantee that the Yankees will be able to ice the Phillies in Game 6. If Philadelphia is able to push a Game 7, then all the momentum shifts back to the defending champions. At that point, the Phillies have nothing to lose, the Yankees will have squandered a 3-1 series lead and, more than ever, the pressure to win will be squarely on hte shoulders of Joe Girardi’s club. Gotta love the drama, but winning Game 6 is all either team is thinking about as of now.
If history repeats itself, then we are in for a close game as far as the starting pitchers are concerned. However, the bullpens have had a way of making things interesting for both sides. Again, a Phillies victory would take the wind out of the Yankees sails and even things up for an exciting seventh contest. That makes Game 6 must-see TV.
Prediction: Yankees win 5-3 to take their 27th World Series Championship
Till next time,
Look no further than last season’s American League Cy Young Award Winner, Cliff Lee,
if you are searching for a reason the Phillies dominated the Bronx
Bombers to open up the series.
Lee’s complete game effort (which featured
10 punch-outs against zero walks) set the tone, while the Philadelphia
offense found a way to ding CC Sabathia and the Yankee bullpen for six runs.
I can’t imagine what it is like to be a Cleveland Indians fan – or
front office executive for that matter – and watch Lee out duel
Sabathia in a battle of former Indians aces. Both men were traded in
the season to follow their Cy Young campaigns, and both men have not
only found their way into the playoffs but into a Game 1 starts in the
Lee’s start was the stuff of postseason legend. The lefty allowed just
four hits over eight shut-out frames before the Yankees cobbled
together an unearned ninth inning run. Lee answered by capping the game with consecutive
strikeouts of Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada to finish with a flourish.
Taking a look over the New York line score tells the story of the night. Captain Derek Jeter
went 3-for-4 and scored the only run for the Yanks, but the rest of the
order went a combined 3-for-28 with nine strikeouts. Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira each went 0-for-4 and fell victim for five of Lee’s 10 K’s.
Despite the offense being put into deep freeze, all was not lost for
the Yankees on the night. Sabathia allowed just two runs on four hits
over seven innings. Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley victimized
Sabathia for a pair of solo homers to provide the lift Lee would need
to secure a series opening victory, while the late struggles of the New
York bullpen helped widen the margin of victory.
The all-too-important pitch-count department saw Lee use 122 pitches
(80 strikes) during his complete game, while Sabathia tossed 113 (70
strikes) over seven frames. Five New York relievers tossed another 57
pitches in allowed four insurance runs over the final two innings. For comparison’s sake the Yankee relief line serves to underscore exactly how economical Lee was over a full night’s work – and against one of the toughest offenses in all of baseball.
Utley has been a postseason hitting machine, setting a record by reaching base for the 26th consecutive playoff game with his third inning homer last night.
Looking ahead to Game 2:
The pitching match-up will feature
A.J. Burnett of the Yanks taking on Pedro Martinez for the Phillies.
It’s hard to say who has the edge based purely on name value alone. Burnett was
battered around by the Angels in his last start and was trailing 4-0
before he recorded his first out of the game, while Pedro blanked the
Los Angeles Dodgers for seven innings in his only postseason start.
New York will be counting on Burnett to resemble the pitcher with
electric stuff who earned the big money deal last winter and turned in
back-to-back quality starts this postseason before coming off the track against the
Angels in Game 5 of ALCS.
The Phillies will ask Pedro to reach into his
bag of tricks and pull out a big game performance in a city he knows
all too well from previous wars while a member of the Boston Red Sox.
Offensively, the Yankees will have to find some production after Jeter
in the batting order. Lee was brilliant in Game 1, but the Yankees
offense has been brilliant at home throughout 2009.
Career match-ups see A-Rod pacing the
Yankee regulars with a .291 career average off Martinez, but Rodriguez has
tallied just three extra-base hits (one homer) and four RBI’s in 55
at-bats against him. Jorge Posada is hitting just .183 with 33 strikeouts in 60 career
at-bats against Pedro, but leads the team with four homers and 10 RBI’s
against the righty. Teixeira has faced Martinez only six times (1-for-6, 3 K’s).
Philadelphia’s bats will look to continue what they were able to
do in Game 1. Seven different Phillies collected at least one hit, totalling nine
on the night to go along with six walks. No team has scored more runs
than the 61 plated by Phillies this postseason (New York is second with
49). Philadelphia went 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position, the
hallmark of a team that makes the most of its opportunities.
Game 2 Prediction:
The Yankees just don’t strike me as a team that will lose back-to-back games of a World Series at home. Sure, the 1996 World Series is a fine example of their ability to bounce back, but the Yankees will be looking to even things up behind A.J. Burnett this evening. If the Phillies can take a 2-0 lead back home, then it may be all down hill from there. Frankly, I believe the Yankees will bounce back sooner than later.
FINAL SCORE: 4-1, Yankees
Till next time,
The past two seasons have seen the rise of a new powerhouse in the National League East, as the Philadelphia Phillies ascended to the top of the baseball world with a Fall Classic victory over the Tampa Bay Rays last season. Philadelphia’s prolific offense often takes the headlines, but the men on the mound will be the key contributors to any World Series repeat.
The foundation of the Philadelphia staff is budding ace Cole Hamels. Signing Hamels to a three-year $20-million contract this offseason underlines the fact that the club is well aware he has established himself as one of the premier pitchers in the National League, a claim further cemented by his World Series MVP performance. It also saves them from having to suffer through the arbitration years.
Hamels, 25, stayed healthy last season and went 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA and 196 strikeouts in 227.1 innings before blistering through Philadelphia’s October opponents. His playoff numbers were even more impressive, 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 30 punch-outs in five starts.
Brett Myers came up big in October for the Phillies, giving the club hope that his transition back from the bullpen may have finally come full circle. At 28-years old, the former first rounder will need to improve his work on the road primarily to give himself a chance to win 15 or more games in 2009.
In 14 home starts, Myers was 7-5 with a 3.01 ERA, but his numbers away fell to just 3-8 with a 6.21 in 16 starts. He has surrendered his fair share of the long ball last season as well, giving up 29 in 190 innings of work. Myers was at his best in the second half and that momentum carried through the postseason, where he was 2-1 in three starts.
The ageless wonder Jamie Moyer, 46, went 16-7 and shaved more nearly a run and a half off his ERA from 2007, down to 3.71 for the year. Moyer’s good work earned the soft-tossing lefty a brand new two-year contract worth $13 million this winter.
Moyer is entering his 23rd season, having piled up 246 wins in a career that essentially didn’t get off the ground until the age of 30. His ability to change speeds and give Philadelphia nearly 200 innings will be just as vital this time around.
Like Myers, Joe Blanton, 28, is another former first rounder who will be seeking to revert to his 2006 form. Blanton supplies innings, averaging 206 innings over the past four seasons, and has shown he could win games during his Oakland days. Run support shouldn’t be a problem with the Phillies.
Chan Ho Park resurrected his sagging career when he returned to the Dodgers last season, where his career began with such promise. In 54 appearances, Park went 4-4 with a pair of saves and a 3.40 ERA. While he did make five starts for Los Angeles, general manager Ruben Amaro did not immediately say how the Phillies plan to use the 35-year old Park.
Philadelphia also has both Kyle Kendrick and prospect J.A. Happ to compete for spots at the back of the rotation this spring. After starting the season 8-3 in his first 19 starts, Kendrick’s frequent shellings resulted in a 7.59 ERA in 12 appearances after the break and forced the Phillies to leave him off the playoff roster.
Happ got the nod to take over Kendrick’s spot in the rotation and quickly went about solidifying a claim for future starter consideration. He finished last season with a 1-0 record and 3.69 ERA in 31.2 innings, notching 26 strikeouts, with a 2.28 ERA in his four starting assignments.
Highly regarded right-hander Carlos Carrasco was rated the second best prospect in the Phillies organization by Baseball America and should be ready to battle for the fifth starter role. Carrasco, 21, was signed as an undrafted free-agent from the Dominican Republic in 2003 at the age of 17. Last season, Carrasco went 9-9 with 155 strikeouts in 25 starts between AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley.
Adam Eaton has completely pitched his way out of the Phillies plans and will likely find himself released if no trade can be brokered. This will put an end to a rather painful three-year $24.5-million contract that was signed prior to the 2007 season, when he turned in a 10-10 record and a 6.29 ERA in 30 starts.
In the bullpen, Brad Lidge leads what is a pretty sound Philadelphia relief corps. Last season was simply unbelievable for Lidge, as he converted all 41 regular season save opportunities before going perfect in seven more postseason chances.
At 32, Lidge is still in the prime years of his career and will continue to anchor the Phillies pen after signing a three-year $37.5-million extension last season.
Big righty reliever Ryan Madson turned in a 3.09 ERA in 76 appearances and staked his claim as one of the best eighth inning men in the National League. After an attempt to use him as a starting pitcher, the Phillies were rewarded for putting Madson back in the pen over the past two seasons.
Madson was at his best in September and October, turning in a 0.64 ERA in 13 games down the stretch, while going 1-0 with a 2.13 ERA in 11 postseason appearances. His good work earned him a three-year, $12-million extension this winter, allowing the Phillies to avoid arbitration and buy out Madson’s first two free agent years.
J.C. Romero was slated to serve as the primary left-handed reliever, but was suspended for the first 50 games of 2009 after a positive test for an over-the-counter drug. Last season, Romero paced the Phillies with 81 appearances and posted a 2.75 ERA while holding left-handed hitters to a minuscule .102 average.
Romero’s absence will leave the Phillies scrambling for a replacement to fill the void, but veteran lefty Scott Eyre should be able to help out. Eyre, 36, was acquired in an August trade with the Chicago Cubs and went 3-0 in 19 games 1.88 ERA with Phillies last season and signed a one-year $2-million deal last November to return to the defending world champions.
Clay Condrey, who was 3-4 with a 3.26 ERA in 56 appearances, and Chad Durbin, who was 5-4 in 71 games with a 2.87 ERA, will also hold down spots in the Phillies bullpen. The Phillies could choose to utilize any of the hurlers who do not grab the final spots in the rotation, with Park being the leading candidate to bolster the pen further.
Till next time,