Saturday, May 29, 2010

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Roy Halladay threw a perfect game against the Florida Marlins tonight, securing the series for the Phillies. He was dominant from start to finish, striking out 11 Marlins hitters.

The Phillies wouldn't have supported him if not for a Cameron Maybin error in center-field, allowing the Phils to score a run. One run would be all they'd need.

It's the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history and the 2nd in Phillies history as he joins Jim Bunning on that exclusive list.

While in my series preview I predicted an excellent game from Halladay tonight, no one could have predicted this. It was an unbelievable game for Doc, who hadn't thrown a no-hitter in his illustrious career to this point. But tonight, he was perfect.

Jamie Moyer looks to lead the Phils to a road sweep over the Marlins tomorrow.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mets complete shutout sweep over Phils; Florida next

The Phillies sure picked a bad time to go into one of the worst hitting slumps in baseball history. After being swept by the Mets in a series that they failed to score a run, the Phillies have not scored against a starting pitcher since last Friday. They've scored in just one inning since then.

Struggling against American League opponents, as they have the last few seasons, is one thing. Failing to score a run against competition in the same division is another entirely.

The five game losing streak including three straight to the Mets has the Phillies now clinging to a 1.5 game lead over Atlanta and 2 game lead over the Mets.

This is a big stretch for the Phillies. They start a series in Florida tonight against the Marlins and then head to Atlanta to take on the Braves. They will no longer be in first place if they don't fix some things in a hurry over these next six games.

Florida has been playing fairly well and stand three games behind the Phils. Tonight, Kyle Kendrick (2-2 5.66) opposes Chris Volstad (3-5 4.31). Volstad is riding a three-game losing streak while Kendrick is coming off a bad outing against Boston.

Saturday night is the prize fight. Roy Halladay (6-3 2.22) faces Josh Johnson (5-1 2.43) in a clash of the aces. Both dominant righties have been excellent this season. Halladay hasn't received much run support his last few outings and is coming off his first bad start of the season against the Red Sox. Look for him to bounce back in a big way. Hopefully the Phils can scratch a few runs across the plate for him. If they do, expect a big game from 'Doc'.

Of course the Phillies couldn't play a series against Florida without throwing Jamie Moyer (5-4 4.55). He'll pitch Sunday against Anibal Sanchez (4-2 3.23). Sanchez has allowed two runs or less in seven consecutive starts, a streak the Phillies will likely need to end to win the ballgame.

It's a big series for the Phils. The bats need to heat up in Florida and hopefully a run or two could turn things around for the team.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Phils slump continues with 4th straight loss

Just over a week ago things were looking great for the Phillies. They beat Pittsburgh 12-2 last Monday, following a three-game sweep over the Brewers.

After dropping the next two, wasting great performances from their starting pitching, they salvaged a game against the Cubs on Thursday. Entering a big series against the Boston Red Sox, the Phillies were 2-2 on the homestand. Cole Hamels was outstanding in Game one against Boston in a 5-1 victory and things were looking up again as the Phils took the first game on Interleague Play; something they struggled with the last few seasons.

Since then, they just aren't hitting. They lost the next two against Boston, scoring just three runs in those games. Now, the Phillies have dropped the first two games to the Mets without scoring a run.

Of course, they are going to hit again. We've seen this before and there is clearly no need to panic. This doesn't mean Phillies fans across the Delaware Valley aren't consuming a few extra alcoholic beverages while watching their boys of summer fail to push runs across the plate.

They have faced some strange pitchers during this four-game losing streak. After Dice-K Matsuzaka flirted with a no-hitter, the Phillies faced two straight knuckleballers in Tim Wakefield and R.A Dickey. Tonight's starter, Hisanori Takahashi, is another funky thrower. The Phils managed some base runners the last two games, but failed to bring anyone home.

The Phillies hope to salvage a game in this series and that Hamels builds off of his strong outing against Boston when he takes on Mike Pelfrey, who the Phillies lit up in Philadelphia a few weeks ago.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Interleague Play begins

Interleague Play 2010 is here. The Phillies are looking for much better results out of this year's chapter as they've produced each of the last few years. They were infamously terrible during last year's contests against American League opponents.

The Phils are 30-51 in Interleague play since Charlie Manuel became manager in 2005. They are 3-12 against this weekend's opponent, the Boston Red Sox.

While struggling against the AL didn't come back to haunt them the last three seasons, it certainly didn't help. This year, the NL East appears to be more competitive and another horrendous showing in Interleague Play could put the Phils in a serious hole.

Jimmy Rollins is back in the leadoff spot tonight for the first time since early April. Boston expects to get their leadoff man, Jacoby Ellsbury, back for Saturday's contest.

While Boston has not lived up to expectations this season, standing at fourth in the AL East, they are an immensely talented team and pose a real test for this Phillies club.

The pitching match-ups are intriguing. John Lackey (4-2 4.86) vs. Cole Hamels (4-2 4-29) features two struggling former postseason stars. Lackey has not lived up to expectations since leaving the Angels for Boston. Hamels continues to search for his old form.

Saturday features Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-1 7.89) against Kyle Kendrick (2-1 5.24). Dice-K has made just a few starts this season and has been very wild and mostly ineffective. Kendrick has bounced back from a tough start as of late and is pitching well. The BoSox feature a nice test for KK.

The finale showcases two polar opposite veterans, Tim Wakefield (0-2 5.31) vs. Roy Halladay (6-2 1.64). Wakefield's knuckle-ball could give the Phillies fits as it's something they are not used to seeing. Halladay pitched well in a 2-1 loss his last outing and hopes the Phils can support him with the bats this time around.

It should be a good series. The Red Sox need the wins more than the Phillies do, but the Phillies need the confidence that they can beat AL teams.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Much like Halladay, Moyer's start wasted

For a second straight night, the Phillies wasted a great outing from their starter. After losing the series finale to Pittsburgh 2-1, the Cubs took the opener from the Phils 4-1 last night.

Jamie Moyer was very good, allowing two runs on just four hits over seven strong innings. He struck out seven and walked just one.

But the Phillies had just five hits, one fewer than the night before. The only extra base hit was a double off the bat of Placido Polanco.

They brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth when closer Carlos Marmol walked Raul Ibanez and hit Carlos Ruiz, but pinch-hitter Ross Gload and then Shane Victorino both struck out to kill the potential rally.

The bats have been silent following a twelve run outburst on Monday. Of course the Phillies will hit again soon, no one doubts that. Hopefully it will come today when the Phillies finish their brief stint against the Cubs before the slugging but struggling Boston Red Sox come to town for the weekend.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Pirates beat Halladay, split series

The Phillies were in an excellent position to sweep the two-game set from the Pirates last night. After Monday's 12 run outburst and Kyle Kendrick's spectacular performance, the Phils had Roy Halladay on the mound for the finale. The bats just didn't cooperate.

'Doc' threw yet another complete game, allowing two runs on nine hits and one walk while striking out six. It came in a losing effort as the Phils failed to muster up much at the plate with the exception of Ryan Howard. The big guy had three of the team's six hits and scored their only run on a Juan Castro single in the sixth.

Still, the Phils have been red hot and on a roll. They open up a two-game set with the Cubs tonight before welcoming the Boston Red Sox to town for the weekend.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Phils sweep Brewers, set for Rollins' return

Fresh off a road sweep over the Milwaukee Brewers this weekend, the Phillies received more encouraging news today.

Jimmy Rollins will likely return to the lineup tonight against Pittsburgh. Sidelined since April 13, Rollins was off to a tremendous start at the top of the lineup. Shane Victorino has filled in very nicely in Rollins' absence, but the lineup is much more potent with Rollins back at the top.

J.A. Happ is expected to throw in the bullpen later this week. A timetable for his return has not been established, but the fact that he is able to throw a bullpen session is encouraging. Hopefully he is eyeing an early June return.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hoover, Victorino lead the Phils to victory

Injuries to Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider have forced the Phillies to put Paul Hoover in the lineup and behind the plate. Last night, he responded.

Hoover played a large role in the Phillies' 10-6 win over the Brewers, which locked up a series victory. His three hits, three runs scored and two runs batted in helped the Phils build a lead for Joe Blanton. Blanton, who picked up his first win of the season, was solid in his seven innings pitched. The long ball got him in trouble; two solo shots and a three run homer from Cory Hart in the seventh.

Shane Victorino had another strong game; three hits, four RBI and a home run. A four hit game from Placido Polanco and 17 hits for the Phillies overall kept Milwaukee's pitching staff off balance all night.

Tonight, the Phils look to sweep the Brew Crew with Cole Hamels on the mound against a struggling Doug Davis.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Miguel Olivo's five hit lifts Rox

Miguel Olivo is the next Phillie killer apparently. Where in the world did a 5-5 game, including an extra inning walk-off home run, come from? Especially with Roy Halladay starting the game.

The night cap was washed out by rain and snow, ending the series in a 1-1 tie for now. The Phils took the opener in another close game, 9-5, which featured a Ross Gload pinch-hit three-run homer in the ninth as the Phillies went on to take the series opener.

Roy Halladay was pitching in the seventh with a 3-1 lead yesterday when some shoddy defense and a Brad Hawpe triple tied the score. Halladay was removed after 6.1, his shortest outing as a Phillie.

Carlos Ruiz was removed from the game as he labored around the bases after a Wilson Valdez double. Ruiz is listed as day-to-day with a right knee injury. His contributions behind the dish go without saying, especially with Brian Schneider on the shelf as well, but Ruiz has been consistently producing with the bat as well. As the eight-hole hitter, Ruiz has been much more patient and led the league in on base percentage. After Juan Castro's injury propelled Chooch to the seven hole, he produced. Batting .345 with an on base percentage of .472, he's also drawn 21 walks and knocked in 11 runs. Hopefully he returns to the lineup quickly.

After an off-day today, Jamie Moyer will pitch the opener against Milwaukee and Randy Wolf on Friday.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Moyer throws a two-hit shutout

Last night was all about Jamie Moyer. Forget Jayson Werth's three-run blast for a second straight game. Forget the four-run, fifth inning rally that chased Derek Lowe and put seven runs on the board for the Phils. Forget Shane Victorino's remarkable catch in the fourth inning. Last night was Moyer's time.

Moyer became the oldest pitcher in Major League Baseball history to toss a complete game shutout. It was a two-hitter no less. Moyer also fanned five without walking a batter.

The starting pitching has been tremendous since Roy Halladay's shutout last Saturday over the Mets, and Moyer followed suit. It's been an inconsistent season for Moyer thus far. He's been victimized by a big inning in most of his starts. Often, he's been solid other than the one inning; which several times came early in games and put the team in an early hole.

The Phillies are catching a break right now with Jayson Heyward injured and out of the lineup. He could return before the series ends.

Joe Blanton makes his second start of the season this afternoon on Fox. Kris Medlen, a relief pitcher making a spot start, takes the ball for Atlanta.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Phils go for series victory over Cards today, Roberts passes away

The Phillies are in great position to take the four-game series from the St. Louis Cardinals this afternoon with Roy Halladay on the mound. Philly and St. Louis are the perennial favorites to win the NL East and NL Central respectively.

It'd be an impressive showing to win three straight over the Cards after dropping the opener. Joe Blanton pitched well in the opener; his first start of the season. He held St. Louis to one-run through most of his 6+ innings, but finished with four allowed in a 6-3 loss. Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick turned in great outings the following nights.

Hamels blew a 1-0 lead in the ninth on Tuesday and it took a walk-off homer from Chooch to win the game. Kendrick's seven shutout innings propelled the Phils to a 4-0 last night while Halladay looks to continue the strong starting pitching against former Phillie Kyle Lohse.

On a sad note, the Phillies family lost one of its greats overnight. Robin Roberts, the best right-handed pitcher in Phillies' history, passed away in his Florida home overnight. Roberts was 83.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Phils chase Santana, take series from Mets

That's an early favorite for game of the year. In case someone actually missed it, Jamie Moyer got off to yet another bad start. He put his offense in an early hole again when he served up a three-run bomb to David Wright in the first inning. With Johan Santana on the mound, things looked bleak.

Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard hit solo shots in the first, cutting the deficit to one. Moyer would serve up another home run; a two-run shot to Rod Barajas, giving New York a seemingly commanding 5-2 lead.

Then the Phillies exploded. Raul Ibanez knocked in a run and a bases loaded walk to Moyer cut the lead to 5-4 in the 4th. Then Shane Vicorino hit a grand slam, Polanco got another hit and Chase Utley blasted a two-run shot. The Phillies lead 10-5 and Santana's night was done after a career worse outing.

The Phillies' bats woke up and they took an important series from the Mets. They also lit up the two Mets' starters who have been rock solid this season; Pelfrey and Santana.

Getting back to the whole "beast of the NL East" comment from Santana. This season, Halladay vs. Mets: complete game three-hit shutout. Santana vs. Phillies: 10 runs allowed in less than 4 innings. Round One beast: Halladay

Bats chase Pelfrey, Halladay does the rest

After being blown out by the Mets in the opener, yesterday's pitching duel didn't quite live up to the hype.

Roy Halladay and Mike Pelfrey are both having tremendous seasons but Pelfrey entered the game with a 24 inning scoreless streak while Halladay was looking to bounce back from his first loss in pinstripes.

The game started as most expected it to, but the Phils bats finally woke up in the fourth. Two bloop hits from Chase Utley and Jayson Werth surrounding a Ryan Howard base hit put the Phillies on the board. Juan Castro's two-run double made it 3-0 before he was thrown out at the plate on a Carlos Ruiz single. After Roy Halladay contributed with a base hit, Shane Victorino blasted a three-run jack to right and the Phillies never looked back. Pelfrey's ERA went from 0.69 to 2.40.

One reason they never looked back is the team managed to keep tacking on runs. They'd score two more in the fifth and two in the seventh. The biggest reason, though, was Halladay. In his first taste of this Phils-Mets rivalry, he threw a three-hit complete game shutout in the 10-0 victory.

Johan Santana has to be feeling some pressure for tonight's rubber-match. He had to sit in the dugout and watch Halladay dominate his team's lineup from start to finish. This wouldn't be a big deal for him, except he proclaimed himself as the best pitcher in the division, calling himself "the beast of the NL East." Unless Santana can put nine zero's in the board tonight, round one goes to "Doc."