Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 78

Larry "LC" Christenson was a pitcher with the Phillies from 1973-1983. The right-handed Washington State native spent his entire career pitching for Philadelphia after being drafted by the Phils as the 3rd overall pick in the 1972 amateur draft.

In his Major League debut on April 13, 1973, at age 19, Christenson hurled a complete game against the Metropolitans and came within 1 out of a shutout, until he tossed a wild pitch that plated New York's only run of the game. The Phillies won 7-1, earning Christenson his first big league victory, but much to the surprise of everyone, it would be LC's only win of the season. Christenson started just 8 more games for the Phillies that in 1973, before he was demoted back to the minors by June. The following off-season, Christenson would have elbow surgery to repair a nagging injury.

By 1975, Christenson worked his way back to the Phillies' starting rotation. That season he won 11 games and posted a 3.67 ERA. He hurled 2 shutouts in his 26 starts that year.

Despite experiencing back trouble in 1976, LC won 13 games and cruised to a 3.68 ERA in 32 games. Christenson also proved to be one who could make an impact at the plate, when he smacked 2 homers in a single game against New York in September of that season.

The following year, Christenson got off to a poor start, winning only 4 of his first 11 outings, but turned the 1977 season around to be the best of his career. Starting in June, Christenson got locked in and became the club's most consistent starter, stringing together 14 consecutive starts without a loss. To top it off, Christenson won 7 starts in the final month of the season to help the Phillies win a second straight division title. LC would finish the season with a 19-6 record and would go on to produce just 1 winning season in his final 6 years in the big leagues.

Going forward, Christenson would experience a rash of injuries. In 1979, he missed much of the season with a broken collar bone he suffered during a charity bike ride. In 1980, he was sidelined by 2 separate groin injuries and was limited to just 14 starts. Christenson started game 4 of the World Series that year, but lasted only 1/3 of an inning, while letting up 4 runs. Off-season elbow surgery following his 1982 campaign limited him to 9 games in 1983 before the Phillies released him after the World Series. Christenson's playing days were done, at the age of 29.

Christenson is tied with Rick Wise as the all-time Phillies leader in homeruns by a pitcher at 11. He lives in the Philadelphia area with his family and remains his ties with the Phillies through charity work.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween From the Phillies Broadcasters

The Philadelphia Phillies broadcast team would like to take this opportunity to wish all phans a happy Halloween weekend.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!



Check me out as I join Tyrone Johnson on 97.3 ESPN's Weekend Sports Guide on Saturday around 1:15PM. We'll be wrapping up the Phillies' season. Listen online by clicking here.
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Arizona Fall League is Launching Pad for Stars

The Arizona Fall League is a place for aspiring Major Leaguers to go to work on their baseball skills in the Autumn months. As the weather begins to cool elsewhere, the diamond stays hot and for many of baseball's most promising young talents in Arizona.

Rosters in the AFL are a mixture of different organizations' prospects, with each Major League club sending 7 players that combine to fill up the 35-man rosters of the league's six teams.

With many of the sport's top prospects playing in the league annually, the AFL has become a virtual launching pad to the big leagues. Several players from last year's AFL rosters made their MLB debuts in 2010. The likes of Ike Reese, Mike Leake, Domonic Brown, Starlin Castro, Stephen Strasburg and Buster Posey all made their names known in their respective organization's cities and around MLB this year.

Certainly not all of this year's AFL players are gearing up to be playing on their sport's biggest stage within the next 6-11 months, but it's a lock that some of them are.

This year, the Phillies' players are merged with individuals from the Mets, Angels, Pirates and Cubs to complete the Mesa Solar Sox roster.

Mark Parent, a man who has quickly become well liked throughout the Philadelphia organization is the Solar Sox hitting coach. Parent, who in his first season managing affiliated ball, led the Phillies Class A team the Lakewood BlueClaws to a second consecutive South Atlantic League championship in 2010. The former big leaguer has some people close to the organization thinking he is on the fast track upward in the Phils' system as a coach. Early in the season, Phillies brass mentioned the coaching assignments in the AFL to Parent, who stuck by something he stated when he was hired for the Lakewood job. Upon joining the Phillies organization, Parent told general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. that he would do whatever the Phillies asked, and Parent excitedly took the AFL assignment.

"It's cool. It's certainly a job I haven't had. The more jobs you have, and building a resume of some sort, it's a good thing," Parent said in an exclusive interview recently.

So, not only is the AFL a place for players to sharpen and develop their skills, it also works as a platform for coaching personnel to do the same.

Catcher Tim Kennelly, first baseman Matt Rizzotti and outfielder John Mayberry Jr. are the offensive Philadelphia properties that Parent is working with closely out in Mesa.

Also on the team are pitchers BJ Rosenberg, Tyson Brummett, Justin De Fratus and Chris Kissock.

Mayberry Jr. saw some action at the Major League level in each of the past two season with the Phillies, but which of the other six Fightins hopefuls would be likely to make a splash with the big club sooner than later? With Matt Rizzotti's .500 OBP through 7 AFL games, his .343 avg. and .985 OPS in 125 minor league games during the 2010 regular season and a roadblock at his position named Ryan Howard making Rizzotti resemble a delicious trading chip, the best candidate to make his debut in red pin stripes next year is righty reliever Justin De Fratus.

De Fratus, who turned 23-years-old last week, posted a 3-0 record, 21 saves and a 1.94 ERA with 71 strike outs and 16 walks in 65 innings combined at High-A Cleawater and Double A Reading in 2010. De Fratus, who sports a fastball that registers around the 93 MPH mark, was assigned the honor of having best control in the Phillies' system last off-season by Baseball America. De Fratus, a California native, was an 11th round draft selection in 2007 and is primed to be the hurler that makes big moves in 2011.

Check back for updates and exclusive interviews from the Arizona Fall League in the coming weeks.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Yankees Fans Effect Team's Shot at Landing Lee?


In a report from USA Today, the wife of Texas Rangers ace pitcher Cliff Lee, Kristen, described many issues the Rangers' families had to deal with at Yankee Stadium during the American League Championship Series. Mrs. Lee stated that wives of Rangers players were taunted with vulgar language and had beer thrown their way while being spit at from above.

"The fans did not do good things in my heart," Kristen Lee told USA Today. "When people are staring at you, and saying horrible things, it's hard not to take it personal."

With free agency in Lee's near future and the Yankees widely considered a front runner to acquire any greatly desired elite MLB player on the market, the treatment of Lee's wife by some hardcore New Yorkers doesn't bode well for their team's chances.

Cliff Lee told the NY Daily News, "There were some people that were spitting off the balcony on to the family section and stuff like that, which is kind of weak. What can you do?"

Following being sent to Seattle by the Phillies last December for three prospects, Lee was traded to Texas, with pitcher Mark Lowe, by Seattle in a July deal that brought four players back to the Mariners.

Lee's free agency race has been considered a two horse race, as the Lee family has been clear about it's love for their new Texas team and its proximity to their off-season home in Arkansas, and with the Yankees vigilantly keeping tabs on the man who has shut them down in the postseason in two straight years. However, Phillies beat reporter Jim Salisbury has made his insider knowledge of the Phillies' potential desire to bring Lee back to Philadelphia known. On Wednesday, Salisbury told 97.3 ESPN's Mike Gill, "I really think (the Phillies) want to make a phone call on Cliff Lee. They will have to move or eat some contracts." Salisbury is rarely incorrect with his hunches and reports.

Time will tell in the off-season lottery extravaganza that will be Clifton Phifer Lee's free agency. But, for Phillies phans that will struggle to watch as their cast-off 2009 ace leads a different team into the World Series, while their beloved Fightins miss out, the disrespect shown by the Bronx Bombers faithful could add a glimmer of hope to the possibility that Lee could be rocking RED pin stripes once again.

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A Reintroduction


Allow me to reintroduce myself. My name is Jay Floyd. For years I have written on this site under my nickname, Jay Ballz. During my time covering games at the ball parks I have always used my real name, since for some reason nicknames are not welcome or happily included on media credentials.

The name switch was something I wanted to make happen over this off-season. It was urged forward, to sooner rather than later, when I was invited to join the crew of contributors at PhilliesNation.com. I figured there was no better time to make the change than at a time when I would be introduced to thousands of brand new readers at the other site.

My work with PhilliesNation is not expected to change what I do on this site and should serve as a great way to reach new readers and a way to bond with other solid baseball writers and enthusiasts.

To those not familiar with PhilliesNation, it is a solid place for Philadelphia baseball coverage brought to the phans by a collection of writers and led by 97.3 ESPN's anchor/reporter Pat Gallen. The site delivers unique analysis and breaking news, which is why I deemed it a good fit.

As PhoulBallz.com has grown, it has become known for its minor league coverage, as I've brought exclusive stories and interviews from players throughout the Phillies' organization to the public. I will be providing the PhilliesNation audience with the same content.

Thank you readers, for your support to this point. I look forward to continued growth for both sites.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Jayson Werth Press Conference Audio

At a press conference at Citizens Bank Park on Monday, Jayson Werth fielded dozens of questions and confirmed his commitment to testing the free agent market.

Check out the media player below to listen to key excerpts from the press conference including his thoughts on the Philadelphia phans, the status of the famous Hulk hand that he sported during the World Championship celebration in 2008 and an exchange at the end where he makes fun of MLB.com Phillies reporter Todd Zolecki's ability to grow facial hair.



Click HERE to read about Werth's unofficial goodbye to Philadelphia.

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Werth Gives Unofficial Farewell


PHILADELPHIA, PA- Speaking of his time in Philadelphia in the past tense at a press conference on Monday, it was clear that Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth feels that his days with the team are through. Although, he would not clearly state any intentions to leave or his potential doubts in the team's commitment to re-sign him, Werth's underlying thoughts bled through in a packed media room at Citizens Bank Park.

Less than 48 hours after the Phillies unexpectedly exited the 2010 postseason, Werth answered dozens of questions regarding his future in baseball.

"It's been quite a ride," Werth stated. "Those (fans) in right field, I'll probably never be in a situation again where it's something like that. I don't foresee that, that's for sure."

Adding what sounded like a goodbye, Werth said, "I definitely had a good time playing here in Philadelphia."

Werth is technically not a free agent until after the World Series is completed. After that, the Phillies will have 5 days to negotiate exclusively with Werth. On the 6th day, he hits the open market.

Fans and media alike have been anticipating a break between the Phillies and Werth following the 2010 season. Impending free agency of a popular player followed by his departure has become a regular occurrence with the Phillies since their string of postseason successes began. In 2008 it was Pat Burrell and in 2009 in was Brett Myers. The Phillies have always "left the door open" for such players to return, even though the inevitable results were clear all along.

Werth deflected an inquiry about whether he thinks returning to the Phillies is realistic. "Realistically speaking....it doesn't really matter what I think right now. It just matters what happens after the World Series. We could sit here and talk about what I'm thinking about all day long, but realistically, none of that matters."

The Phillies, who had the most wins in the Majors this season were the widely picked favorite of baseball analysts to return to a third consecutive World Series. Werth said he is looking forward to watching the World Series, despite not participating in it. "I'm interested to see (former teammate) Cliff (Lee) pitch game 1."
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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Missed Opportunities Cost Phillies Their Season


Their phans had high hopes. And why wouldn't they? It's just about habit by now. Four straight division titles and what was supposed to be a third consecutive World Series berth are enough to spoil people and ensure that any result shy of another world title will be a disappointment.

In game 6 of the National League Championship Series the Phillies had loads of opportunities to take control of the game and put the San Francisco Giants away to force Philadelphia's very first postseason game 7. Unfortunately, the Phils blew those chances and lost to a team that was widely considered inferior.

In the 3rd inning, after the Giants had tied the game at 2, the Phillies' first two batters reached base when Placido Polanco walked and Chase Utley was hit by a pitch. On his way to first base, Utley tossed the ball back toward the pitchers mound, which resulted in some insults being fired from San Francisco starter Jonathan Sanchez. Tempers flaired, the benches cleared, but no punches were thrown. It seemed as though the encounter had a negative effect on the Phillies instead of firing them up. With manager Bruce Bochy's short leash, Sanchez was then relieved by Jeremy Affeldt who retired Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino in order on a strike out, a fly out and a ground out respectively.

In the 5th inning, Jim Rollins led off with a single. Following fly outs by Polanco and Utley, Ryan Howard doubled, but Rollins was held at 3rd base, despite running on contact with 2 outs. Werth was then intentionally walked before Victorino again made the 3rd out with runners in scoring position.

In the 6th inning, Raul Ibanez led off with a double and was promptly bunted over to 3rd base on a sacrifice bunt by Carlos Ruiz. Ben Francisco then struck out looking and Jimmy Rollins flied out.

In the 8th inning, following the Giants taking the lead on a solo homer by Juan Uribe, against Tim Lincecum in relief for just the 2nd time in his career, Victorino and Ibanez laced back-to-back one-out singles. But Brian Wilson then relieved Lincecum and got Carlos Ruiz to line out to first baseman Aubrey Huff who doubled Victorino off of second by firing the ball to shortstop Edgar Renteria.

In the 9th inning, Jimmy Rollins walked with 1 out but was erased on a fielders choice hit by Polanco. Utley then walked and Wilson Valdez ran for Polanco. With 2 down, 2 on and a full count, Howard looked at a called third strike and 8 months of high hopes were shot down.

The game 6 shortcomings were typical of the Phillies' overall offensive output during the NLCS, although the scoring totals for the series favored the Phillies by 1 (20-19) over the Giants.

Going forward, the Phillies will have until spring training 2011 to reflect on the ways their bats let them down in crucial postseason games and perhaps some adjustments to make to the team so these mishaps don't prevail in the future.

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Photo- AP

Saturday, October 23, 2010

This Guy Speaks For All of You

This individual, interviewed by FOX 29 on Friday as the Phillies arrived back at Citizens Bank Park, said it best. When asked how he felt regarding the Phillies, he told Steve Keeley that he was, "Stoked, baby!" The unidentified phanatic then proclaimed, "We are talking about the Fightins here, the Fightins! Said!"

Check out the media player below, as the transcribed version certainly does not do this phireball of phandom justice.



The Phillies forced game 6 of the National League Championship Series with a 4-2 victory over the Giants in San Francisco on Thursday night. Game 6 will feature Roy Oswalt vs. Jonathan Sanchez in a return pitching match up from game 2. First pitch is scheduled for 7:57 pm EST at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

Be sure to tune in on 97.3 ESPN's Weekend Sports Guide with Tyrone Johnson this afternoon around 1:15pm to hear me chatting about the Phillies! 97.3 is based in Atlantic City. You can listen live online HERE.
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Hat tip toward the man they call Meech for the video.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bats Over Hoops for "Moose" Mattair

Travis "Moose" Mattair is headed back to baseball after experimenting in the world of Division I college basketball. Following a difficult 2010 spring training in minor league camp with the Phillies, Mattair made the decision to leave baseball and persue a dream of playing NCAA hoops.

Mattair was a member of the Lakewood BlueClaws (Phillies single A affiliate) team that won the South Atlantic League Championship in 2009. Mattair was an absolute fan favorite in Lakewood. His followers would call themselves “Mooseketeers” in reference to Mattair’s childhood nickname. As a member of the BlueClaws in 2008 & 2009, Mattair posted a .245 batting average while smacking 7 homeruns and driving in 91 runs in 255 games.

A two-time second team all-state (Washington) player, as a guard in high school, Mattair once dreamed of playing for Gonzaga University under head coach Leon Rice.

After taking a leave of absence from baseball, Mattair, who stands 6-feet-5-inches tall, was technically listed as retired, but is still property of the Phillies and will be welcomed back at spring training in 2011.

"This was a huge step in my life and something that I needed to experience," Mattair told PhoulBallz.com in an exclusive interview. "I knew it was something I always wanted to do. It was something I had to try."

Earlier this year, when Mattair decided to leave baseball and dive into the deep end of his own basketball dream pool, he contacted coach Rice, who is now the head coach at Boise State University. Rice promised to give Mattair a fair shot with the team if he devoted himself to playing and working out with the men's team throughout the summer.

After training hard, Mattair was offered the final roster spot with the Boise State Broncos, but was informed by Rice that he wouldn't see any game time as a 21-year-old freshman. Over time, Mattair certainly could have earned playing time, but once summer was winding down, he got the itch for baseball and began missing the sport he had played professionally for more than 2 years. The wonders of college life and playing basketball, at a level more advanced than high school, began to fade. His passion for one sport became prevalent over the other and he decided to commit himself to a return to the baseball diamond.

"Baseball ended up being something I had to have," said Mattair. "My parents and people told me I was going to miss it, but until you experience it yourself, (the advice) kind of went in one ear and out the other. Without (experiencing this) I don't think I could have ever poured everything completely into baseball. And now I feel like baseball is going to be with me for a long, long time."

Mattair, a 2nd round draft pick out of high school by the Phillies in the 2007 amateur draft, plans to head to the Phils' spring training home, in Clearwater FL, in mid-January, long before minor leaguers would be required to report. He is anxious to prove himself worthy of a roster spot within the Phillies' organization.

Phillies assistant general manager in charge of player development Chuck LaMar has been in contact with Mattair throughout his time away from baseball. Mattair appreciates how accomidating the Phillies were when he expressed interest in persuing another option. "The whole organization has been gracious enough to give me another spring training and another opportunity to make a team," Mattair stated.

A common feature included in the contracts of players who are drafted out of high school is that MLB organizations typically pay for a college education later in life, at a time of the player's choosing. The individual has 10 years to complete schooling once he begins, which was also a weighing factor for Mattair. Once the clock started on the college tuition payments, it would be more difficult to change gears and head back to baseball, so Mattair made the move back to the diamond before the time table was active on higher learning.

"I didn't want to actually start a semester when I was leaning toward going back to baseball," Mattair said.

After taking years off from competitive basketball, Mattair felt a bit rusty on the court and described his Broncos teammates as "more crisp" than he was. But, Mattair remains grateful to head coach Leon Rice and the team for giving him the opportunity to try his hand at something he often wondered about.

"It was a tremendous experience to play with a program like Boise State. Coach Rice gave me a fair shot and I can't thank them enough."

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Resilient Phillies Bring NLCS Back Home

Doc Classic


SAN FRANCISCO— Television cameras caught him trying to stay up and loose between innings. Roy Halladay rarely rested, as he spent time riding a stationary bike after pulling his groin in the 2nd inning of Thursday night's National League Championship Series Game 5. Halladay was tough, throwing 6 innings, to help the Philadelphia Phillies extend the NLCS and return home to wrap up the series this weekend.

Halladay's teammates didn’t quite realize their starting hurler was pitching through pain in his game 1 rematch against San Francisco's reigning Cy Young Award winner, Tim Lincecum.

Learning that Doc pitched while ailing impressed his teammates more than they typically are with a Halladay outing. Some found it difficult to describe Halladay's efforts. "I don't know what word you can put on him. Do you want to use 'Superhero?' That works," Shane Victorino told the media following the game.

In his 6 innings of work, Halladay allowed just 2 earned runs on 6 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 6. His counterpart, Lincecum, allowed 3 runs (2 earned) over 7 innings, while striking out 7 and walking 1.

The Giants took a lead in the first inning, when a potential inning ending double play ball hit by Buster Posey wasn't turned by Chase Utley, instead the Phillies got just one out on the play and Andres Torres scored, to put San Francisco up 1-0.

The Phillies would do most of their damage in the 3rd inning. Struggling Raul Ibanez kicked off the rally with a single to right field, followed by Carlos Ruiz reaching after being hit by a pitch. With two on and no outs, Halladay was given the sign to bunt the runners over. Halladay then bunted the ball off home plate, and it trickled toward the opposite batters box. Rookie catcher Buster Posey pounced on the ball, that was foul and ruled fair, and threw to third, but Pablo Sandoval missed stepping on the bag and Ibanez advanced safely. Halladay did not run for first base, as he thought the ball was foul and he was easily thrown out at first base.

With runners on second and third, Shane Victorino slapped a ball toward first baseman Aubrey Huff, who was unable to handle it. They ball got away and allowed Ibanez and Ruiz to both score. Placido Polanco then followed with a single to center that plated Victorino, and extended the Phillies' lead to 3-1.

Lincecum went on to retire the next 11 Phillies batters that he faced.

New Phillies nemesis Cody Ross drew the Giants closer with a run scoring double in the 4th inning that brought home Pat Burrell, to shrink their deficit to just 1 run.

Before Brad Lidge entered the game to earn the save for the defending National League Champion Phillies, his teammate Jayson Werth padded the team's lead as he pounded a lead-off homerun off of righty reliever Ramon Ramirez.

In a series where pitching has been so prevalent, the Phillies have posted a .209 batting average while the Giants are batting .220 in the 5 games.

Halladay missed some time last June with a groin injury, so he's familiar with the pain and discomfort in that portion of his body. He doesn't think this injury is of the same severity as the one that cause him to miss multiple starts with the Blue Jays in 2009.

"I don’t think it’s anything real bad," Halladay told the media. "I was able to continue pitching and it didn’t get worse. I’ve got some time to rest."

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Photo- Getty

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Phils Drop Game 4, Mismanagement to Blame?


Clutch doubles, an outfield assist, solid bullpen pitching, a big game from rookie phenom Buster Posey and questionable moves with the Phillies' pitching staff all added up to a win and a 3-1 series lead for the NL West champions when game 4 of the National League Championship Series was done.

At San Francisco's AT&T Park on Wednesday evening, the Giants plugged away, scoring in 5 different innings. They got on the board in the 1st, when the 23-year-old Posey drove home Freddy Sanchez with a single to centerfield. Posey then slapped a double in the 3rd inning, to plate Aubrey Huff and put San Francisco up 2-0.

The Phillies got some offense of their own rolling in the 5th inning when Ben Francisco and Carlos Ruiz got the team's first back-to-back hits of the series. Shane Victorino then stepped in and slapped a single to center that drove home Francisco, but Aaron Rowand gunned down Ruiz at home plate for an out. Chase Utley then singled. Placido Polanco stepped up and doubled off of Giants reliever Santiago Casilla. Later in the inning, Polanco scored on a wild pitch and the Phillies led 4-2.

In the bottom of the 5th, San Francisco drew close when Aubrey Huff knocked in Andres Torres with a single off of Joe Blanton. The next inning, reliever Chad Durbin served up a 2-run double to Pablo Sandoval that gave the Giants a 5-4 lead.

Philadelphia tied the game in the 8th inning, when Jayson Werth doubled to drive home Ryan Howard with no outs, but the Phils couldn't bring Werth around and he was left stranded on 2nd base, setting the stage for 9th inning walk-off style fun for the Giants.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel chose to use starter Roy Oswalt in relief for the 9th inning, but the move backfired as Oswalt gave up the winning run when Aubrey Huff laced a 1-out single, and Posey delivered his 4th hit of the game, moving Huff to 3rd base. Juan Uribe then drove a fly ball to left field that enabled Huff to tag up and score to end the game with 2 outs in the final frame.

Manuel and Dubee elected to start Joe Blanton in what turned out to be the biggest game of postseason to date. If the choice to not use Roy Halladay, the top guy in the Phillies pitching rotation, was the proper call, then why give Blanton an early hook? If the coaches were confident enough in Blanton to give him the starting nod, he should have been good enough to complete the 5th frame and possibly pitch beyond that. Blanton still had a lead and merely had a runner on 1st base with 2 outs when he was pulled from the game. That is not a particularly tight jam at all.

Removing Blanton from the game in the 5th, after just 65 pitches, pushed up all the available pitchers and potentially left the Phillies short-handed late in the contest.

Oswalt, who pitched 8 innings in the second game of the series on Sunday, shouldn't be blamed for the loss, even though he was charged with it. Oswalt had gone to pitching coach Rich Dubee in the 8th inning, to make it clear that he could pitch, as it was his scheduled day to throw a bullpen session on the side. Oswalt wanted to do whatever he could do to help the team win.

Just as hindsight will force phans to wonder what could have happened if Roy Halladay started game 4 on short rest, they will also wonder what could have occurred if Blanton was allowed to continue, or if the leash with Chad Durbin had been shorter, or if Oswalt hadn't spoken up to Dubee.

Additionally, the Phillies still had JC Romero, Kyle Kendrick and Brad Lidge ready out of the 'pen, if needed. So while Oswalt gave up the winning run, it was likely mismanagement of the pitching staff that lost game 4 for the Phillies and left them 1 loss from elimination in the 2010 postseason.

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Victorino Positive with Back Against the Wall

Shane Victorino, who went 1-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI in the Phillies' game 4 loss to the Giants on Wednesday night, spoke with the media following the game. Despite the team's pressing predicament, Victorino expressed his positive outlook going forward in the series. Check out the media player below to listen to his comments.



Victorino has batted lead-off for the defending National League champions throughout this postseason. He has posted a low .214 batting average (6-for-28) in 7 playoff games thus far in 2010.

In his last 13 postseason games, dating back to the start of last year's World Series, Victorino is 10-for-50 (.200 avg).

The Phillies and Giants go back at it in game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday evening at 7:57 EST.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NY Fans Quit, Nolan Ryan Laughs as Rangers Crush Yankees

Late in Tuesday night's ALCS game 4, Nelson Cruz hit a 2-run upperdeck blast that put the Rangers up by a score of 10-3. New York fans began to evacuate Yankee Stadium early for the second consecutive day and partial owner of the Rangers Nolan Ryan was loving every second of it.

Check out the media player below to see footage.



The Rangers now lead the Yankees 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Cain Shuts Down Phillies Offense, Giants Lead Series


Matt Cain led the way for the Giants to take control of the best-of-seven series, grabbing a 2-1 lead over the Phillies on Tuesday afternoon at AT&T Park. The right-handed Cain held the defending National League champions to just 2 hits over 7 innings and the San Francisco offense was able to squeak 3 runs out of Phillies hurler Cole Hamels.

The Giants got on the board against Hamels in the 4th inning, after he had been perfect through the first 3 innings. As he's done all postseason for the Giants, Cody Ross did some damage and broke the scoreless tie when he smacked a 2 out single to left field that drove home Edgar Renteria, who led off the inning with a base hit. Aubrey Huff then singled to right field, to plate Pat Burrell with the game's 2nd run.

"He plays with no fear," Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the media after the game of Ross. "That’s what you like about the guy."

Ross is now 8-for-23 (.348 avg) this postseason with the Giants, who claimed Ross off waivers from Florida on August 22nd.

In the bottom of the 5th, Hamels was one out away from escaping the frame without further damage, but Chase Utley flubbed a ground ball from Freddy Sanchez. The ball scooted away from Utley, which allowed Aaron Rowand to score and increase the Giants' lead over the Phillies to 3-0.

Cain earned his first career win over Philadelphia in his second career postseason start. Cain retired the first seven Phillies that he faced, before avoiding damage in the 3rd and 4th innings, when he stranded runners in scoring position in each frame.

Bochy, who was concerned over his team's offensive struggles adjusted his lineup. Ross, who batted 8th in game 1 was moved to 5th in the order, while Andres Torres was benched in favor of Rowand.

Phils left-hander Cole Hamels took the loss, while striking out 8 batters and allowing 3 runs and 5 hits over 6 innings.

The Giants now sit two wins away from the World Series. The team has not won a championship since they moved to San Francisco in 1958.

Phillies righty Joe Blanton, who has pitched just 1 inning since September 29th, will face rookie left-hander in game 4 on Wednesday evening at 7:57pm.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Story Time with JC Romero

Below, I've posted some never before heard audio of JC Romero speaking exclusively with PhoulBallz.com last season. I asked JC to talk about his most memorable baseball moment prior to becoming a professional ball player. JC spoke of a time he learned an important lesson as a hitter in college at the University of West Florida. The lesson was to not "hot dog" or show up the opposition on the baseball field. .




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Oswalt and Rollins Shine as Phils Pull Even


PHILADELPHIA- Productive outs were something the Phillies lacked in the National League Championship Series opener against the Giants on Saturday night. With strike outs in key spots, the Phillies came up short by a run and San Francisco took a 1-0 series lead. Game 2 was not the same case, as moving runners over and the underrated baseball aspect known as the sacrifice fly came into play, and helped the Phillies tie the series against the Giants at 1 game each.

The Phillies got the scoring started in the bottom of the opening frame against Giants starting pitcher Jonathan Sanchez, in support of their own starter Roy Oswalt, when Chase Utley scored on a bases loaded walk to Jimmy Rollins.

Philadelphia led 1-0 until the top of the 5th, when San Francisco's game 1 hero Cody Ross smashed another solo homerun to left field. Ross hit 2 solo shots off Roy Halladay in game 1.

Ross has had tremendous success at Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park in his career. In 35 games played at CBP, Ross has slugged 10 homeruns. The only park in which he has hit more is at Florida's Sun Life Stadium, which he called home when he played with the Marlins. Ross has 38 homers in 289 career games played at Sun Life.

The Phils responded quickly in the bottom of the 5th inning. Shane Victorino led off with a double. Utley then flied out to right field, to advance Victorino over to third base. Placido Polanco then brought home the go-ahead run when he drove a sacrifice fly to center field to put the Phillies ahead 2-1.

Roy Oswalt was strong throughout the contest as he struck out 9 Giants, while allowing just 3 hits and 3 walks to the Giants over 8 innings. However, his base running may end up being the memory that stands out in most people's minds. After he singled, while using a bat that belonged Jimmy Rollins in the bottom of the 7th, and moved up to 2nd base when Utley was intentionally walked, Oswalt ran through a stop sign from third base coach Sam Perlozzo while turning wide and glancing back over his own shoulder. A slick slide ahead of the relay throw resulted in the 3rd Phillies run, putting the defending National League champions up by 2.

Of his not-so-smooth baserunning, Oswalt told the media, "First thing in my mind was score. When I got halfway, I saw the stop sign. I said, 'It’s too late now. No turning back!'"

Giants reliever Santiago Casilla entered the game with a bases loaded jam later in the 7th inning. Jimmy Rollins greeted him by sending a deep drive to right-center field that hit high off the wall and cleared the bases. The double gave the Phillies a 6-1 lead that they would not relinquish.

"Sometimes you put a good swing on the ball, it finds the gap and everything looks fantastic," Rollins, who finished the game with 2 hits in 3 chances and 4 RBI, stated. "Hopefully I can take what I did today and keep it going."

Ryan Madson pitched scoreless 9th to lock down the victory for Philadelphia.
Following the game 2 win, Oswalt now has a 10-0 record and a 2.20 ERA in 12 career starts at Citizens Bank Park.

The series will now shift to San Francisco for game 3 on Tuesday afternoon when Cole Hamels will face Matt Cain.
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Photo- AP

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ryan Howard Appears on Eagles TV Broadcast

Ryan Howard on the Lincoln Financial Field sidelines with Phillies representative Scott Palmer


Just 14 hours, or so, after his Phillies fell behind the Giants 1-0 in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series, first baseman Ryan Howard took in the Eagles/Falcons game and appeared as a sideline guest of FOX analyst Tony Siragusa on Sunday.

Internet phan buzz criticized Howard's presence across the street from the home of the Phillies, Citizens Bank Park. Much critique seemed to take on the same notions of, "Shouldn't he be watching film on Giants' pitcher?" or "He could be using this time to take some extra batting practice." However, not many will argue that if the Phillies had won Saturday night's NLCS opener that many folks would have had a sweeter taste on their tongues and very likely would not have greeted the situation with such an abrupt disapproval.

Falling behind in a postseason series is not something the Phillies phaithful are accustomed to. Prior to Saturday, the Phillies had won a National League record (tie) 7 consecutive postseason game 1's. Another factor in some Phillies phans' mentalities could be the fact that in the team's history, they have not advanced past a postseason series in which they've lost game 1.

It is surely not the most ideal thing to see a player laughing it up and enjoying his day while most phans are still sweating the previous night's crucial loss, but Howard could have been doing worse. He could have easily been doing plenty of different things that would be detrimental to his game, like slamming a 30 pack with folks at an Eagles tailgate party or getting kidnapped by the opposing team's fans. Besides, Howard is simply still confident in his team's chances to advance to a third straight World Series, and their phans should still be confident as well.

Tony Siragusa and Ryan Howard at Lincoln Financial Field

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Photos- PhiladelphiaEagles.com and the Phillies' official twitter account.

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Ross an Unlikely Hero as Giants Take Game 1


The much anticipated pitching match up in game 1 of the National League Championship Series ended with the younger of the two aces earning a victory, and the veteran came out of the contest already focused on redemption, but it was a late season addition from the waiver wire who became the star of the game for the Giants.

Cody Ross shined, slugging 2 solo homeruns off of Roy Halladay, who was fresh off throwing the second no-hitter in MLB postseason history last week against the Reds. Ross was cut loose by the Florida Marlins and scooped up off waivers by the Giants, reportedly as a preventive measure, so that he would not end up with the rival Padres.

As a Marlin earlier in the season, Ross was on the down side of Halladay's other big outing this season, his perfect game on May 29th.

With one out in the 3rd inning, Ross ended Halladay's postseason hitless streak, delivering San Francisco's first hit and first run of the game, by smashing a solo homer to left field.

The Phillies clapped back in the bottom of the frame against 26-year-old reigning Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, as 8-hole hitters exchanged big flies. Carlos Ruiz got the Phillies on the board with an opposite field solo shot that tied the game at 1. Ross returned fire in the 5th inning, taking Halladay deep for the second time in the game, putting the Giants up 2-1.

In the 6th inning with and a runner on first base and 2 down, Halladay saw a close pitch called a ball by home plate umpire Derryl Cousins. FOX's computer-generated strike zone analyzer displayed the pitch as a strike. Burrell then went on to smack the next pitch deep toward the left field warning track. Raul Ibanez misplayed what could still have been the 3rd out of the inning into an RBI double. Halladay likely let the tough strike zone impact his focus, as Juan Uribe, who was a .221 career postseason hitter heading into the NLCS, laced a single that plated pinch runner Nate Schierholtz, and extended the Giants' lead to 4-1.

"In the sixth, a couple pitches there cost me. At this point, if you make a couple mistakes they end up costing you," Halladay told the media following game 1 of the NLCS.

Jayson Werth drew the Phillies back to within a run with a 2-run opposite field homerun that scored Chase Utley in the bottom of the 6th. But neither team would score any additional runs, and the Giants went on to lock down game 1 by a score of 4-3.
Lincecum went 7 innings, allowing 3 earned runs and striking out 8 Phillies while walking 3 batters to earn the win.

Ross' effort put his 2010 postseason batting average at .353 (6-for-17). He now has 3 homers and 5 RBI in 5 postseason games this year.

The 2-homer performance even stunned Ross. "It’s been an unbelievable experience for me," Ross stated after the game.

Prior to surrendering the HR to Ross in the 3rd inning, Halladay last gave up a hit to Washington slugger Adam Dunn, who led off the 8th inning against the Phillies on September 27th.

Speaking about hurling a historic game in his first playoff appearance and then taking the loss in his very first NLCS game, Halladay who struck out 7 and walked none while allowing 8 hits over 7 innings said, "That’s part of it. You find out what you’re made of. You never obviously expect it to be easy. You grind it out and make adjustments next time out."


Notes- Ross joins Will Clark, Rich Aurilia and Jeff Kent as the only San Francisco Giants to hit 2 homers in a postseason game. The Phillies have never won a postseason series in which they lost game 1. Brian Wilson, who earned a 4 out save in game 1 had a 6.43 ERA in 8 career games against Phillies prior to the series. The Phillies' big pitching trio of Halladay, Oswalt & Hamels now have a combined 1-5 record against the Giants this season. The Phillies are batting .212 in their 4 games this postseason.
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Saturday, October 16, 2010

NLCS Preview: Phillies vs. Giants

For the third straight season, the Phillies will be battling it out for a chance to move on to the World Series with a team from California. This year the Dodgers sit at home, while a new contender, the San Francisco Giants, has stepped up. As the Phillies look to become the first National League team to win 3 straight National League Championship Series, the Giants will seek to surprise many around baseball, as they are widely considered the underdog.

The focus in this series will be on the pitchers and each team will send its ace to the mound for game 1. For the Giants, it will be Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum, who tossed a complete game shut out against Atlanta in his postseason debut last week. For the Phillies, it will be Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay, who hurled a no-hitter against Cincinnati in his postseason debut last week. Neither pitcher expects a repeat of their gems from his last time out, but that doesn't mean both men won't be trying.

Offense is expected to be at a minimum in this series, which means every little thing counts. It'll be up to the teams to play as flawlessly as they can, as the squad with the fewest mistakes could very well prevail as the victor.

Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and loads more information on this series.


Game 1 in Philadelphia- Saturday 10/16, 7:57pm. Tim Lincecum (16-10, 3.43 ERA in regular season) vs. Roy Halladay (21-10, 2.44 ERA in regular season). In 7 career games against the Phillies, Lincecum is 2-1 with a 3.17 ERA and a .199 batting average against. In his last 7 starts, Lincecum has posted a 6-1 record with a 1.62 ERA. Chase Utley is 2-for-20 (.100 avg) with a homerun in his career against Lincecum. In 16 road starts this season, Lincecum went 7-3 with a 3.17 ERA. In 3 career starts against San Francisco, Halladay has a 0-2 record with a 7.23 ERA. Halladay has thrown 7 or more innings and allowed 0 runs in 4 of his last 10 starts. Pat Burrell is 6-for-18 (.333 avg) in his career against Halladay. In 15 starts since the All-star break, Halladay has posted a 12-3 record with a 2.58 ERA.

Game 2 in Philadelphia- Sunday 10/17, 8:19pm. Jonathan Sanchez (13-9, 3.07 ERA in regular season) vs. Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.76 ERA in regular season). In his last 8 starts, Sanchez has posted a 4-1 record with a 1.06 ERA. In 9 career games against the Phillies, Sanchez has a 3-1 record and a 2.86 ERA with a .175 batting average against. Sanchez has allowed just 2 earned runs in 14 innings pitched at Citizens Bank Park in his career. Jimmy Rollins is 1-for-16 (.086 avg) in his career against Sanchez, while Jayson Werth is 0-for-12 against Sanchez. In 17 career starts against the Giants, Oswalt has a 6-8 record with a 3.61 ERA. In his last 5 home starts, Oswalt is 3-0 with a 2.18 ERA. Juan Uribe is 6-for-16 (.375 avg) with a homer against Oswalt in his career.

Game 3 in San Francisco - Tuesday 10/19, 4:19pm. Matt Cain (13-11, 3.14 ERA in regular season) vs. Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06 ERA). In 5 career appearances against Philadelphia, Cain has a 0-3 record with a 6.23 ERA. In his last 5 starts, Cain is 2-1 with a 2.20 ERA. Jimmy Rollins is 6-for-10 (.600 avg) with a double, 3 triples and a HR in his career against Cain, while Chase Utley is 7-for-15 (.467 avg) with a double and 3 homers against Cain. In 15 regular season starts after the All-star break, Cain posted a 7-3 record with a 2.91 ERA. In 18 home starts this season, Hamels posted a 7-6 record with a 3.14 ERA. In 8 career starts against San Francisco, Hamels is 4-2 with a 4.67 ERA. In his last 8 starts, Hamels is 6-1 with a 1.22 ERA. Cody Ross is 9-for-30 (.300 avg) with 4 homeruns in his career against Hamels.

Game 4 in San Francisco- Wednesday 10/20, 7:57pm. Madison Bumgarner (7-6, 3.00 ERA in regular season) vs. Joe Blanton (9-6, 4.82 ERA in regular season). In his last 7 starts, the left-handed rookie Bumgarner has posted a 3-2 record with a 1.43 ERA. In 8 starts at home this season, Bumgarner had a 1-3 record with a 4.60 ERA and a .303 batting average against. In 7 career starts against the Giants, Blanton has a 2-3 record with a 4.72 ERA. Blanton has not lost a start since July 21st. The Phillies are 10-1 in Blanton's last 11 starts. Juan Uribe is 1-for-11 (.091 avg) in his career against Blanton.

Game 5 in San Francisco if necessary- Thursday 10/21, 7:57pm.

Game 6 in Philadelphia if necessary- Saturday 10/23, 3:57pm or 7:57pm.

Game 7 in Philadelphia if necessary- Sunday 10/24, 7:57pm.


Aaron Rowand is a .293 hitter with 23 HR in 150 games played at Citizens Bank Park in his career. In 207 career regular season games played at AT&T Park, Rowand is a .250 hitter with 17 HR.

Brian Wilson posted a 1.65 ERA in 32 road games this season. In 8 career games against the Phillies, Wilson is 0-1 with 4 saves in 6 chances and a 6.43 ERA.

Andres Torres is 2-for-16 (.125 avg) thus far in the playoffs.

Carlos Ruiz has a .299 batting average in 35 career playoff games. In 20 career games against San Francisco, Ruiz has a .228 average.

Jimmy Rollins is a .221 hitter in 35 career playoff games. Rollins is 1-for-11 (.091 avg) thus far in this year's playoffs.

In 6 career games against San Francisco, JC Romero has a 1-1 record with a blown save and a 10.13 ERA. In 24 career postseason games, Romero has a 3.20 ERA.

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Friday, October 15, 2010

Ryan Howard's Late Show Top 10

Here is Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard's appearance on CBS's The Late Show with David Letterman. Howard delivered Letterman's famous Top 10 list on Thursday night's episode. The subject matter was Top 10 reasons to watch the baseball playoffs.



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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shameful Giants Playoff Anthem

Okay...not only are the lyrics embarrassing, but so are the vocals. This new San Francisco Giants rally song, a take off of Journey's Don't Stop Believing, has somehow boosted pride around the Bay area. Meanwhile, the rest of us can watch and giggle at this pile of horrible display of fandom.



Did this guy really try to make a rock song and offer shout outs to people? That's simply not right.

We all are familiar with San Francisco's silly Kung Fu Panda nickname for Pablo Sanoval...but do they really refer to Aubrey Huff as "Huff Daddy"? I guess anything is better than his female-rific first name. It's the worst name since Buster Posey.

No matter what Giants fans say, no one fears Brian Wilson's Mr T.-impersonating hair growth. I pity the fool who thinks he's in the A-Team, and has to face the Phillies' lineup that includes 7 All-stars and 2 league MVP's.

The vocalist of this track, known as Ashkon, is some sort of rapper who likes to remake well known music in disappointing fashions. He also apparently poses for pictures while holding weiners. Just sayin'.

Sorry, Pat Burrell. Your team is corny and so are its fans. It's sad that Burrell had to be part of that awful display.

Oh, by the way, trAshkan...it's not cool to play with thongs on your face while you ruin popular music. Phillies phans chuck those thongs to the floor and get right down to business, if you know what I mean. Enjoy your postseason dreams while they last, playa. Phillies phans surely won't stop believing...that their team is going to a third straight World Series.
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Phils Pitchers Look to Stay Hot


With confirmation coming from Phillies manager Charlie Manuel that the Phillies' pitching rotation in the next round of the playoffs will remain the same as is was in the Division Series against Cincinnati, a famous exclamation from TV character Homer Simpson may be what the Giants will be saying once the National League Championship Series begins. The Phillies' big trio of pitchers- Doc, Oswalt and Hamels will set out to continue their dominance that they've displayed since Oswalt joined the Phillies in late July.

Since the Phillies acquired Oswalt from Houston on July 29th, the "D'oh!" inducing trio have troubled their opponents, posting a combined 23-7 record with a 2.23 ERA, 248 strike outs and 48 walks in 262 innings pitched (39 games).

Combined in 21 career postseason games, "Doc" Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels have posted an 11-3 record with a 3.31 ERA. In those games, they've struck out 106 batters while walking just 38 in 130 1/3 innings pitched.

Manuel is expected to use Joe Blanton as the Phillies' 4th starter. However, if the Phillies trail in the series, headed into game 4, it is likely that the Phillies would use Halladay on short rest.

Blanton has been strong over the same stretch in which his staff mates have shined. In his last 13 games of the regular season, Blanton posted a 5-0 record with a 3.45 ERA. In Blanton's last 12 starts, the Phillies went 10-2.

With so much focus on the Phillies' hurlers, the Giants' starting staff should not be overlooked. Their starting pitchers, Tim Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner combined for a 2-0 record with a 0.93 ERA in 4 games of the NLDS against the Braves.

So, while the Giants' offense could struggle and be pressed toward quoting Homer Simpson, it could also be the Phillies' lineup that faces a frustrating batch of pitchers that have them uttering expressive catch phrases in disappointment.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

MLB's Final Four All Set


With the Texas Rangers' first ever postseason series victory on Tuesday night, both League Championship Series schedules are set. The Rangers, led by Cliff Lee's 11 strike out complete game effort and Ian Kinsler's 3rd homerun of the series, beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-1 in the series' 5th game. Texas moves on to play the New York Yankees in the best-of-seven American League Championship series that begins on Friday.

Cliff Lee, of course, was a member of the Philadelphia Phillies team that reached the World Series against the Yankees last year. Lee won both of his starts against New York in that series. With his outstanding effort in the ALDS, Lee has improved to 6-0 with a 1.44 ERA and a .185 batting average against in 7 career postseason starts.

The Senior Circuit will feature the San Francisco Giants and the Phillies battling it out for the pennant. The big talk surrounding the National League Championship Series is the match up of exceptional pitching staffs. The Phillies' big three of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels will be pitted against the Giants' rotation that includes Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez.

Matching up the teams' premiere trios...
Halladay, Oswalt & Hamels- 46-34 record, 671 innings, 2.74 ERA, 623 K's, 146 walks allowed.
Lincecum, Cain & Sanchez- 42-30 record, 629 innings, 3.22 ERA, 613 K's, 233 walks allowed.


Schedules for the League Championship Series look like this...

ALCS
Game 1- NYY @ TEX, Friday 10/15, 8:19pm
Game 2- NYY @ TEX, Saturday 10/16, 4:19pm
Game 3- TEX @ NYY, Monday 10/18, 8:19pm
Game 4- TEX @ NYY, Tuesday 10/19, 8:19pm
Game 5- TEX @ NYY (if necessary), Wednesday 10/20, 4:19pm
Game 6- NYY @ TEX (if necessary), Friday 10/22, 8:19pm
Game 7- NYY @ TEX (if necessary), Saturday 10/23, 8:19pm

NLCS
Game 1- SF @ PHI, Saturday 10/16, 7:57pm
Game 2- SF @ PHI, Sunday 10/17, 8:19pm
Game 3- PHI @ SF, Tuesday 10/19, 4:19pm
Game 4- PHI @ SF, Wednesday 10/20, 7:57pm
Game 5- PHI @ SF (if necessary), Thursday 10/21, 7:57pm
Game 6- SF @ PHI (if necessary), Saturday 10/23, 3:57pm or 7:57pm if ALCS does not reach game 7
Game 7- SF @ PHI (if necessary), Sunday 10/24, 7:57pm

Home field advantages did not prove very beneficial to most teams in the opening round of the 2010 playoffs. The Phillies at home in the divisional series were 2-0. All other home teams in the opening round of the MLB playoffs posted a combined 2-11 record.

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Blanton Ready, Oswalt Impersonates Charlie & More

The Phillies played a simulated game on Tuesday, in which Joe Blanton started. Blanton threw roughly 60 pitches against the Phillies regular lineup. The fact that Blanton saw a considerable amount of action on the mound could be telling that the team wishes for him to be ready to start game 4 of the National League Championship Series in San Francisco. However, the series results could decide Blanton's status. If the Phillies trail after 3 games, it could be deemed necessary to use presumed game 1 starter Roy Halladay on short rest in game 4.

Manager Charlie Manuel announced on Tuesday that the team would be off on Wednesday, then return to Citizens Bank Park for a workout on Thursday at 1pm. A schedule has not been announced for Friday as of yet, as both the Giants and Phillies will work out at CBP that day.

Placido Polanco was seen at practice on Tuesday using a unique method to hide Raul Ibanez's mitt. What else does he have in there?

Roy Oswalt was spotted doing his best Charlie Manuel impression as he stood with teammates Cole Hamels, Brad Lidge and Roy Halladay at CBP on Tuesday.

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Photos- AP

Monday, October 11, 2010

Phillies Advance to Third Straight NLCS


The series that pitted the widely feared trio of Phillies starting pitchers against the National League's top offensive lineup, the Cincinnati Reds, ended in quick fashion. The pitchers, who had posted a 13-1 record with a 2.13 ERA since the start of September came out and shut down the offense that led the league in batting average (.272), homeruns (188) and RBI (761) over the full regular season.

On Sunday night, Cole Hamels threw an impressive 5-hit complete game shut out, in which he struck out 9 Reds, leading the Phillies to a sweep in the best-of-five divisional round of the MLB playoffs, in Cincinnati.

Hamels improved to 7-0 with a 0.90 ERA in 8 career starts against the Reds.

After the series clincher that locked Philadelphia into their franchise record third consecutive National League Championship Series, the Phillies had a bit of a reserved celebration. There were no dog piles on the field, only some tame champagne spraying in the clubhouse, as the Phillies are aware there are still more steps to climb until they reach their goal, which is, of course, the World Championship.

"This moment here is just another stepping stone to trying to win another World Series," Hamels told the media after his masterful effort. The Phillies won the World Series in 2008, led by Hamels, who was named series Most Valuable Player.

Phillies ace Roy Halladay, who threw the second no-hitter in MLB postseason history in the series opener stated, "For everybody here, the ultimate goal is to get to the World Series. This is the first step. We’re all looking to get to the end."

The Reds were held to all-time division series lows with a .124 batting average and a .160 on-base percentage in the 3 games. The Reds managed just 11 hits against Phillies pitchers in the NLDS. Cincinnati, also regarded as an excellent defensive team, made a stunning 7 errors in the series against the Phillies.

The Phillies won the deciding game 2-0 and got a key run on a solo homer from Chase Utley in the 5th inning. Philadelphia's other run came in the opening frame when Placido Polanco scored when Reds shortstop Orlando Cabrera commited a throwing error on a grounder hit by Jayson Werth. The series win for the Phillies marks their first ever sweep in the postseason.

Philadelphia will host either the Atlanta Braves or the San Francsico Giants in a best-of-seven series beginning Saturday. The Giants defeated the Braves 3-2 on Sunday to take a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five divisional series.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson- Eppa Rixey

Eppa Rixey signed as a free agent with the Phillies in 1912. The lefty hurler was a graduate of the University of Virginia.

In 1916, Rixey had a break-out season, to bounce back from taking the loss in the deciding game of the 1915 World Series against the Red Sox. Rixey won 22 games for the Phillies and had an ERA of 1.85. He also threw an impressive 20 complete games that year.

The following season, Eppa Rixey's record was 16-21. His high loss total was mainly due to a lack of run support. There was a stretch in the 1917 season when Rixey lost 5 straight starts, during which the Phillies offense could amass just 3 total runs. Rixey threw a career high 4 shutouts that season.

Rixey served in the military in 1918, missing the entire baseball season, and served in the chemical warfare division of the United States army in World War 1. Upon his return to baseball in mid-1919 he struggled and posted a 6-12 record. In 1920, Eppa led the National League with 22 losses, despite completing 25 of his 33 starts. The Phils scored one run or less in 11 of his 22 losses that season.

Following that season, the Phillies traded Eppa Rixey to the Cincinnati Reds for pitcher Jimmy Ring and outfielder Greasy Neale. With the Reds, Rixey was reunited with former Phillies manager Pat Moran, which helped rejuvenate his career. Rixey threw 300 innings, or more, for three straight seasons with Cincinnati. In 1922, Rixey led the NL in wins, with 22, and he went on to reach 20 wins, or better, in two of the following three seasons.

A well educated man, Rixey took graduate school classes in chemistry, mathematics as well as latin.

Eppa Rixey remained a Red until 1933. When he retired, at age 42, Eppa held the record for wins by a left-hander at 266. He held that honor until Warren Spahn surpassed it in 1959. Rixey was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1963, and passed away one month later, before he could attend the ceremonies.

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This is a repost of PhoulBallz.com's very first Phillies History Lesson, in honor of the Cincinnati vs. Philadelphia National League Division Series.

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Saturday, October 9, 2010

Phillies Lead NLDS 2-0 Over Reds

A year to the day after they lost game 2 of the NLDS against the Rockies, the Phillies ended their losing streak in postseason series game 2's at 4. Thanks to some lucky calls, and some Reds miscues, the Phillies were able to walk away with a 7-4 victory on Friday night.

In the 6th inning, with the Reds leading the Phillies by 2 runs, a pair of hit batters and a bases loaded walk to Shane Victorino closed the gap to 1.

Then in the 7th inning, things really just fell apart for the Central Division champion Reds. With rookie phenom Aroldis Chapman and his 100+mph fastball on the mound, a high an inside pitch was sold by Chase Utley, as he immediately put his head down and took off for 1st base, and ruled a hit by pitch by the home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman.

Ryan Howard followed Utley and struck out. Jayson Werth then batted, lacing a chopper toward Reds third baseman Scott Rolen, who chose to attempt the more difficult play to get Utley out at 2nd base. Utley was ruled safe by umpire Ed Rapuano, although replays later showed that call was likely incorrect.

Jimmy Rollins then stepped up to bat righty against the left-handed Chapman. Rollins would slap a sinking liner toward right field that stayed in the stadium lights from right fielder Jay Bruce's view point. Bruce who was unable to make the play. The ball was chased down by center fielder Drew Stubbs, who dropped the ball before he could relay a throw home. As a result, Utley and Werth both scored, giving the Phillies a lead they would not let up.



Jose Contreras earned the win and Brad Lidge recorded his 11th consecutive postseason save, the 2nd longest streak of all time, behind Mariano Rivera's 23.

With a 2-0 lead in the series, and Cole Hamels, who is 6-0 with a 1.07 ERA in 7 career games against Cincinnati, the Reds are certainly in a difficult position. If the Phillies win game 3 and sweep the NLDS, Philadelphia would not play again until next Saturday, the 16th, at home against either the Giants or the Braves.

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Friday, October 8, 2010

MLB Jeopardy Part 12


For $1,000 in the category of Questionable Pro Athlete Photo Shoots, the answer is, "The former NL batting champ who appears in the latest edition of ESPN the Magazine naked and freshly manscaped, while coming off fruitier than Toucan Sam's favorite breakfast cereal (not that there's anything wrong with that)."




Question: "Who is Hanley Ramirez?


CORRECT!

The Florida Marlins shortstop, Ramirez, is featured in ESPN's annual Body Issue, out this week, in a hairless, unclothed state, while ironing. Watch out for that steam setting, Hanley!

The caption features a quote from Ramirez's agent, Andy Mota..."Sometimes Hanley tells me that he amazes himself- the even he can't believe the stuff his body can do." Neither can I. Who would have guessed Hanley moonlights as a naked maid in the offseason?

This Hanley photo is the most suspect thing to pop up in the NL East since Ryan Madson was photographed out on the town in late 2008.
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Halladay an Inspiration to Young Prospects


Nick Hernandez

CLEARWATER, FL- For most Phillies minor leaguers, the season ended weeks ago. For a few dozen of them, this month is set aside for additional training and work. One of those players is 22-year-old lefty pitching prospect Nick Hernandez, who was sidelined for much of this season with a shoulder injury. As a result, Hernandez, a South Atlantic League All-star with the Lakewood BlueClaws this year, is putting in extra time in Clearwater Florida, to increase his 2010 innings total.

After Wednesday's instructional league exhibition game, Hernandez and ten teammates, including Jarred Cosart, Jacob Diekman, Derrick Loop, Mike McGuire and Jake Borup, went out to a local Florida establishment to view the Phillies playoff opener against the Reds, on television.

Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay went on to make history in game 1 of the National League Division Series. Making his very first career postseason appearance, Halladay shut down the Cincinnati Reds, hurling a no-hit, no-run game. It was just the second no-hitter in MLB postseason history. Halladay's command was tremendous as he threw first-pitch strikes to 25 of the 28 batters he faced.

Much like Phillies phans throughout the Philadelphia region, even the Phillies' prospects are confident in their parent club's abilities. Especially, those of the ace hurler, Halladay. "When the Phillies got their first run, we all looked at each other and said, 'That's ball game! Game's over!'," Hernandez stated, inferring that he and his prospect peers knew Halladay wouldn't allow the Reds to post anything except zeroes on the scoreboard that night.

In a location full of disappointed Tampa Bay Rays fans, the group of Phillies endorsers stood out a bit, while Halladay was attempting to re-write some chapters in baseball history books. "We were high-fiving in there. We were chest bumping. We started hitting our tables anytime he got two strikes," the 12th round 2009 draft pick Hernandez told PhoulBallz.com in an exclusive interview. "As the game went on, we didn't do anything to jinx him, so we all kept our mouths shut, but we all knew what was going on."

The excitement level carried over to the ballpark Thursday morning. Pitchers met for an 8:15 meeting, and naturally the first subject everyone spoke of was Roy Halladay. The Phillies instructional group played split squad games later in the day, sending a team to Dunedin to face the Toronto instructional team. Shortly after many guys jokingly asked one another, "Who can be like Doc today?", the Phils pitchers held the Blue Jays without a baserunner over 9 innings, after a hit led off the game.

"He inspired us. It really did. He hits his spots, he commands well, he carries himself on the mound a lot better than some other guys do, he's very professional, he works hard, he does all the little things right that a pitcher needs to do," Hernandez said. "We learn from (watching) him. He does things on the mound that not too many guys can do."

Halladay spoke with Phillies minor leaguers in spring training. Many of those players took something out of their limited time with the man often regarded as the best in the business. But, while a brief speech and some questions & answers are memorable, nothing can galvanize quite like a momentous effort that people will be talking about for generations.

"It's something special. Something I know (we'll) never forget," Hernandez stated.


Roy Halladay shutting down the Reds

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Halladay Untouchable in Playoff Opener


In the opening game of the 2010 National League Division Series, Phillies ace Roy Halladay threw the second no-hitter in MLB post-season history, to lead his club past the Cincinnati Reds, 4-0.

Way back on October 8th, 1956, the Yankees' Don Larsen threw a perfect game in the World series against the Dodgers.

On Wednesday, Halladay threw 9 hitless innings, striking out 8 batters, with 104 pitches...79 of which were strikes, against the National League's most potent offense. As a team, Cincinnati led the league in batting average (.272), HR (188) and RBI (761) during the regular season. It was the second time Halladay held a team hitless this year, as he hurled a perfect game against the Marlins in Florida on May 29th.

Halladay even contributed to the Phillies' victory with his bat, driving in a run with an RBI single in the 2nd inning, off of Reds starting pitcher Edinson Volquez.

The excitement level for Halladay's tremendous effort spread beyond the Delaware Valley. The final outs of Halladay's no-hitter were displayed on the video board at Minnesota's Target Field, as the Twins and Yankees prepared to start their American League Division Series.

After the game, Halladay described the event as "a dream come true". Many phans would agree. It wasn't too long ago that the Phillies tried to get by with moderately desirable pitchers. The only top level pitchers' names tied to the Phillies in trades were being sent away by the Phils. They'd make moves, adding middle tier names like Turk or Cory around the trading deadline. That is no longer the case, as Philadelphia has become the home of a baseball contender...a place where elite talents want to play. These days, the Phillies add names such as Roy and...Roy again.

"This is what you come here for," Halladay told the media following his first ever MLB playoff appearance on Wednesday. "This team- they know how to win. It’s been a great year, a fun year. We have a ways to go."

Now, it'll be the other Roy's turn, as Roy Oswalt will take the mound and try to keep the momentum going for the Phillies in game 2 on Friday.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Scott Franzke Calls Final Out of Halladay's NLDS No-hitter

Check out the media player below to listen to the full audio of the final out from Roy Halladay's National League Division Series no-hitter against the Reds.



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NLDS Series Preview: Phillies vs. Reds


No one is really giving the Reds a chance in the National League Division Series. Their own poor track record at Citizens Bank Park (losing the last 6 games there, dropping 10 of 12 there over the past 3 seasons) combined with the trio of starting pitchers and the potent lineup they'll have to face, plenty of baseball analysts and observers virtually have placed the Phillies into the League Championship Series already.

Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker will send right-hander Edinson Volquez to the mound, hoping to prove the doubters wrong. Philadelphia will counter with NL Cy Young Award contender Roy Halladay, who will be achieving a life-long goal by making his first career postseason appearance.


Halladay, widely considered an elite pitcher in Major League Baseball, has watched the playoffs on television for his entire career, until this year. Halladay wanted to pitch for a title contender so badly that he passed up the opportunity to test free agency, and instead signed a contract extension with the Phillies following a trade from Toronto last off-season.

In his time with the Phillies, Halladay has proven to be the ace that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. sought out last year. Halladay finished in top 3 in each of the National League pitching triple crown categories (wins, strike outs & ERA), threw a perfect game in May and his 9 complete games are more than any other team in the National League. He hopes to continue his success well into October.

The Phillies, owners of the Major Leagues' best record at 97-65, have home field advantage in the best-of-5 series that begins Wednesday evening at Citizens Bank Park. Read ahead for details on the pitching match ups and plenty more information on this series.

Game 1- Wednesday, 5:07 PM in Philadelphia. Edinson Volquez (4-3, 4.31 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (21-10, 2.44 ERA). In 2 career games against the Phillies, Volquez has posted a 2-0 record and a 0.79 ERA. In 5 road starts this season, Volquez's record was 1-1 and his ERA was 6.08. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino are a combined 3-for-22 (.136 avg) in their careers against Volquez. In 18 starts at Citizens Bank Park this year, Halladay has a 12-5 record with a 2.21 ERA and a .242 batting average against. In his last outing against the Reds in July, Halladay threw 9 shut out innings. Ramon Hernandez is 13-for-37 (.351 avg) in his career against Halladay.

Game 2- Friday, 6:07 PM in Philadelphia. Bronson Arroyo (17-10, 3.88 ERA) vs. Roy Oswalt (13-13, ). Arroyo has posted a 1-5 record with a 5.54 ERA in 8 career regular season games against Philadelphia. In 18 road starts this year, Arroyo has a 10-5 record with a 3.76 ERA. In his last 9 starts, Arroyo went 5-3 with a 3.72 ERA. Oswalt has really performed tremendously in 10 career starts at CBP, going 9-0 with a 2.10 ERA. In his career against the Reds, Oswalt has a 23-3 record with a 2.81 ERA. In 13 games as a Phillie, Oswalt is 7-1 with a 1.74 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP. Joey Votto is 10-for-30 (.333 avg) with 2 doubles and 2 HR against Oswalt in his career. In 8 career postseason games, Oswalt is 4-0 with a 3.66 ERA.

Game 3- Sunday, 7:07 PM in Cincinnati. Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06 ERA) vs. Johnny Cueto (12-7, 3.64 ERA). In 7 career starts against the Reds, Hamels has a 6-0 record with a 1.07 ERA. In 18 home starts this season, Hamels posted a 7-6 record with a 3.14 ERA and a .243 batting average against. Hamels posted a 2.23 ERA in 15 starts after the All-star break this season. In 10 career postseason starts, Hamels has a 5-3 record and a 3.86 ERA. In 4 career starts against Philadelphia, Cueto is 1-2 with a 5.96 ERA. In his last 9 regular season start, Cueto posted a 1-5 record with a 4.71 ERA. Shane Victorino is 5-for-10 (.500 avg) with 2 HR in his career against Cueto.

Game 4- Monday, 5:07 PM in Cincinnati.

Game 5- Wednesday the 13th, 6:07 PM in Philadelphia.


Ryan Howard is a career .271 hitter with 7 HR and 21 RBI in 32 postseason games played.

In 7 games against the Reds this season, Jayson Werth batted .375. Werth also posted a .320 average in 82 home games this season.

Since the All-star break, Brad Lidge had 21 saves, a 2.10 ERA and held opponents to a .162 batting average. In 32 career postseason games, Brad Lidge has a 2-4 record with 16 saves and a 2.52 ERA.

Joey Votto batted .349 on the road this season. Votto is a .267 hitter in 12 career games at Citizens Bank Park.

Francisco Cordero has blown 2 saves in 8 chances against the Phillies in his career. In 33 games on the road this season, Cordero saved 18 games in 23 chances and posted a 4.60 ERA.

In 32 career postseason games, Scott Rolen is a .228 with 5 HR and 11 RBI. Rolen made the All-star team this season with 17 HR. Since the All-star break, Rolen has hit just 3 homers since then.

Phillies Team Batting Avg.- .260
Reds Team Batting Avg.- .272

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