Monday, August 3, 2009

Thursday, October 4, 2007

No Offense, No Win

Okay, okay, so we scored 5 runs. Big deal. Four of those runs came from the NL MVP Jimmy Rollins.

Yesterday's problem was the top 4... and I give them all the credit in the world for stepping up today.

Rollins was 2 for 5, with a run and 4 RBIs.
Utley got 2 late inning hits, though I would trade both for a more timely one.
And Howard had 2 hits including a homerun, though he did leave 3 men on base.
Finally, Victorino came through in a PH role and produced a run with a single and a SB/E-2. He was eventually knocked in by a Rollins ground out.

So the "superstars" kind of answered the call today. But the offense stopped there.

Nobody Hits, woohoo!

If you combine the totals from the rest of the team you'll see the numbers are pathetic. Excluding the aforementioned Rollins, Utley, Howard and Victorino, the team was 2 for 20. Burrell, Helms, Werth and Iguchi all managed walks, but that was it.

I'm not saying the offense is the only thing to blame for this loss. Our bullpen is exposed, though they've been exposed all year. But I am saying that our offense is not clicking on all cylinders which can lead to a laugher like this one.

The decision to pull Kendrick in the 4th with the bases loaded is easy to criticize because Lohse was beat deep by Matsui who is not a homerun hitter. Had he gotten him out, it would be a different ball game. Now I'm not a genius, but Matsui, being a contact hitter enjoys balls low and probably can't catch up to the high fastballs, otherwise he'd have more homers. So instead of pitching him up, Lohse gives him a low strike to hit. I'm just sayin'...

And then there's Mesa. Enough said... the ball game was over when Mesa came in and starting walking guys and giving up doubles, that's never a good sign.

We've a tough road ahead having to pull off 3 in a row... It's not impossible, but it sure is daunting.

I'll leave you wall with a song. Sung to the tune Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry", hopefully this will bring back some recollection of what we used to have and bring us some good karma from this regular season.

"No, Offense, No Win"

Said - said - said: I remember when we used to score
At Citizen's Bank Park in Philly,
Ob - observing the hot sticks
As they would mesh with the good defense we'd play.
Good games we won, oh, good games we've lost
Along the way.
In this great game, you cant forget your bats;
So dry your tears, I say.

No, offense, no win;
No, offense, no win.
Oh, little Phils fan, don't shed no tears:
No, offense, no win.

PS - I like our chances with Jaime Moyer. It takes a crafty, veteran with off-speed stuff to slow down hot bats. We'll just need to sacrifice a chicken to get our going.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Phils Superstars are Superduds in Game 1

When the top 4 players in your lineup go a combined 0 for 15 with 9 strikeouts, you're not going to win many games.

The bottom line is, that the triumvirate of Rollins, Utley and Howard, who make up arguably the best infield in the league, did not perform. We'll let Victorino off the hook for now, because he has been out for some time, and let's face it...he's not on the same level as the other three.

There is no doubt that Rollins, Utley and Howard were the 3 biggest reasons we made the playoffs in the first place, but when you get there they have to perform. I'm not mad at them, I'm just analyzing the game and their failure this afternoon is the biggest reason for the loss.

Consider these numbers:

Rollins: 0 for 3, 1K
Victorino: 0 for 4, 1K
Utley: 0 for 4, 4Ks (ouch!)
Howard: 0 for 4, 3Ks

Total: 0 for 15, 9 Ks

If you have any other reason for losing that game... you're wrong!

On the pitching side, thanks to his long sleeve shirt, Hamels had one bad inning and then was lights out, retiring 15 of the last 16 batters he faced. He pitched well enough to win. Too often it seems like Hamels falters for an inning early in the game and then settles down, only to have that early inning haunt him. Maybe he doesn't warm-up enough in the pen before the game. Maybe he needs some of the pressure of pitching perfectly taken off his shoulder. I don't know. He pitches well enough in all the other innings to warrant his praise. He's pretty damn good.

It's not a good thing when you lose a game at home in a shortened series. Now we have to win 3 out of 4... for some reason, even with the Phillies late season push, it seems daunting. It will seem a lot easier if we can get the first one under our belt. It won't be as hard as Uncle Charlie trying to get all his fat under his belt...

Tomorrow's match up brings together two rookies. Kyle Kendrick vs. Franklin Morales. Of the 2 Kendrick has a lot more experience. Morales has only pitched in 8 games this year for a combined 39.1 innings of major league experience. Another stat in our favor is that Kendrick is 7-1 at home with a 3.76 ERA. It will be a contest of who will blink first, my guess is Morales. Kendrick is consistently credited with being calm and even-keeled regardless of the situation, and after a few first inning playoff jitters, I've no reason to believe that tomorrow will be any different. We'll jump on Morales early, wake up our superstars and win one handily.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

We're In! - The Wait is Over, the Phillies Make the Playoffs

After 14 grueling seasons, the 2007 Phillies have done what no other Phillies team since 1993 has done... they've made the playoffs. They sealed the deal to day with a 7-1 win over the Washington Nationals.

When playoff time comes there are some intangibles that make up for a lack of talent. In our case, that lack is on the pitching side, but the intangible additions are momentum and heart. The never say die attitude exemplified by this team, personifies the Philadelphia fan and enables the 10th man to be a difference maker in close games.

And as a proud member of that 10th man, I want to say thank you to all of the Phillies' players who have made this roller coaster season an exciting ride.

As the 10th man filed in, I got a sense of nostalgia. This is why we complain, this is why we cheer, this is why why we are fans. I then noticed that our Suite was sandwiched between the banners of Jimmy Rollins and Jaime Moyer. Not a bad place to be. Moyer and Rollins were two of the biggest reasons we were able to win this game and move into the playoffs.

From the beginning the place was electric. Even before the national anthem the crowd was put into a frenzy when it was announced that the Florida Marlins had scored 4 runs on the Mets in the first inning. The Marlins ended up scoring 7 runs before the inning was over making for a very loose crowd, knowing that the worst case scenario would be a one game playoff.

But a gutsy outing by Jaime Moyer, another MVP caliber performance by Jimmy Rollins and an exclamation point homerun by Ryan Howard, made sure that the NL East would be ours today.
I had kept a lot of notes to discuss in the blog on a scorecard, but I have misplaced it. I'm a little upset for nostalgic reasons, because I have a feeling I dropped it on the way out of the stadium hauling all of the leftover food out of the Suite.

But staying late and enjoying the celebration was worth it. The party inside the locker room was showed on the Phanavision which gave an excellent look into the personality of the players. We stayed after for another hour. Eventually the players came back out and thanked the fans, took a trip around the field and doused the fans with beer, champagne, jerseys and water from the field hose.

The celebration continued driving back home via Broad Street where the fans flocked to the streets join in the festivities. With my rally towel in one hand and my car horn in the other I was a very happy man soaking in the Philadelphia passion. The entire experience was priceless. To me, this is more rewarding than the '93 team because of the excitement at the end. As opposed to waiting for the playoffs to begin, this team had to fight until the final game to get in. And this momentum is what will make them "the team to beat" in the playoffs.

"We're the Team to Beat!"

Congratulations to the 2007 National League East Champion Philadelphia Phillies!

If there is anything in sports that can help a team win besides talent, it's momentum and heart. And this team has both.

I'm too busy enjoying this victory and preparing for the Eagles game to concentrate on writing anything now... but I have a lot of notes from the game. I was there and it was electric from the beginning.

Go Phillies!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Cole Hamels Pitches Phils to First Place... Alone

Jimmy Rollins draws first blood again. It wasn't in the first inning this time, but boy was it timely.

Being there in person makes it very vivid. Let me set the scene.

Top of the 4th. Cole Hamels had just settled in after struggling a bit in the second inning giving up 3 hits but being bailed out by forcing a double play to end the inning. The 3rd inning Cole began to find his groove with 2 strikeouts, but really hit stride by striking out the side in the top of 4th, priming the fans for what was coming in the bottom of the 5th.

Greg Dobbs singled to lead off the 5th. Ruiz followed him by being beaned in the hand. 1st and 2nd, nobody out, Cole Hamels is up.

Hamels lays down a perfect bunt moving the runners to 2nd and 3rd. This is where it gets fun. Amidst twirling rally towels and "M-V-P" chants, Rollins confidently stepped up to the plate and lived up to his new moniker by smacking the first pitch up the middle scoring both Dobbs and Ruiz. Proving once again why he is so important to this ball club. He scores 'em and drives 'em in. How many other lead off men do you know with 93 RBIs?

Rollins, however can not over shadow the superb pitching performance of Cole Hamels. Hamels' only trouble came in the second inning (mentioned above). After the second inning, Cole Hamels recorded 13 Ks through the next 6 innings. In other words of the 18 outs recorded from the 3rd inning through the 8th, only 5 were not Strikeouts. That is impressive. Hamels struck ou the side in the 4th and 6th, including 5 in a row from the 3rd through the 5th. Cole Hamels was doing his best Cole Hamels impression tonight. And despite a Ryan Howard homerun a Chase Utley RBI double, an excellent catch by Aaron Rowand and a two run single by Rollins, he is without a doubt the MVP of this game.

8 inning pitched, 6 hits, 0 Runs, 13 Ks, 1 BB - and 1 bullpen pitcher used. Meaning , our pen will be well rested for the weekend games, and more importantly for tomorrow's game when Adam Eaton is scheduled to pitch. So Manuel should have a short leash tomorrow with Eaton and all the bullpen stooges.

Oh, and in case you live in a box and only have access to the Phillies game through a transistor radio, the Mets lost.

Phils lead the East by 1 game with 2 to play. That sounds pretty good doesn't it? I have tickets to Sunday's game as well, here's to happy times.

Pic below is my wife and I at tonight's game. (Isn't she beautiful?) She made me take this same picture 6 or 7 times until she was satisfied with the results. I'd be happy to post all them by request.

PS - He said it not me...

"It's embarrassing. It's pretty pathetic." - David Wright on the Mets' "Colossal Collapse"

"Do we smell it? Yeah, of course we smell it." - Charlie Manuel

Thursday, September 27, 2007

First Blood Leads to First Place

Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino helped the Phils draw First Blood to set the tone for the rest of tonight's contest.

Rollins continued his MVP caliber play leading off the game with a single. Dejavu, considering he led off last night's game with a triple and joined the 30/30 club the night before by leading off that game with homerun. That kind of spark, speaks volumes.

Drawing First Blood is what makes Jimmy Rollins the National League MVP.

What might be overlooked tonight is the kool, kalm and kollected play of Kyle Kendrick. K2 earned his 10th win of the season, pitching 6 solid innings, the first 5 of which were scoreless.

And after 2 homeruns by Howard and Burrell, 6 runs scored (1 each by the first 6 batters), and over 40,000 rally towels, the dust settled and the Phillies ended up in first place. Thanks in large part to our continuous winning and the Mets continuous losing.

The Phillies are in first place. I will sleep well tonight.

PS - I have tickets to tomorrow night's game and Sunday's game. It should be a fun weekend.