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Posts Tagged ‘philadelphia phillies

Tim Lincecum silences catcalls, gets Giants closer to my dream World Series matchup.

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San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum can do whatever he wants.

If he wants to grow his hair so that it’s fourteen feet long, I’m into it—as long as he keeps winning.

Last night, Major League Baseball fans were treated to a semi-masterful performance by “The Freak” as he silenced the Phillie’s potent lineup for seven innings and struck out eight, including power-hitting first baseman Ryan Howard twice. For those not paying attention, Lincecum’s twenty-two strikeouts through his first two postseason starts ties a record set by the St. Louis Cardinals’ Bob Gibson way back in 1964. He’s also won seven of his last eight starts, including two postseason bids, a fitting cap to his unusually underwhelming 2010 regular season.

I couldn’t be more excited because I’ll be the first to admit it: I do not want another New York Yankees/Philadelphia Phillies matchup in the World Series.

I’ve been alive for twenty-five years and of those twenty-five years, the New York Yankees have appeared in the postseason fifteen times. Most of those appearances happened to occur during my formative years, and as someone from New Bedford, Massachusetts, I guess you could say I’m scarred. Knowing that the Yankees are an almost-lock to appear in the postseason means that there’s only three real postseason spots.

And recently, it seems, the Philadelphia Phillies have routinely occupied one of those three spots. It’s like Groundhog Day—things are predictable and boring and, as a result, I’m generally ho-hum about the postseason. Sure, a team like the Tampa Bay Rays pops in and makes its mark, but a year later, it’s the same old song and dance. It’s baseball’s version of a monopoly, and it makes for a poor experience for fans living outside of New York and Philadelphia.

So last night, I was dazzled, awed, even smitten, with Tim Lincecum’s performance. Even if he does look like a barely legal girl on the mound, I’ll latch onto anything he does, as long as it means that the Philadelphia Phillies don’t make the World Series and there’s still a chance of a Texas Rangers versus San Francisco Giants finale.

The television ratings would probably be lower than a Mormon’s blood alcohol level on a Sunday, but for me, the prospect of that matchup is exceedingly exhilarating.

Think about it: Tim Lincecum versus Cliff Lee in game one, C.J. Wilson versus Jonathan Sanchez in game two, Colby Lewis versus Matt Cain in game three, or some combination thereof. No, no pitcher tossed a postseason no-hitter, but that’s a damn good list of pitching matchups for die-hard baseball fans.

Something’s going to have to happen for this matchup to occur, however.

San Francisco’s offense is anemic. The Phillies’ big boppers haven’t gotten it going yet.

Add to that the relentless, unstoppable, just-when-you-think-you’ve-got-’em-they-beat-you New York Yankees, and my World Series dream matchup may be just that.

Still, I’ve got my fingers crossed.

Written by dylansharek

October 17, 2010 at 7:52 pm

With five World Series homeruns, Philly’s Utley is marked man.

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Will Utley get plunked tonight?In a blog posted at 3 a.m., former New York Yankees pitcher David Wells bluntly described how he would handle Philadelphia’s Chase Utley, the new co-owner of the World Series’ homerun record: “[He] needs to kiss the Yankee Stadium dirt tonight.”

But Wells’ plan will be hard to implement.

After two hit-by-pitches in Game 3, Alex Rodriguez was plunked again in Game 4 by Philadelphia’s Joe Blanton. Rodriguez hadn’t shown signs of his ALCS dominance, yet umpires were incredibly quick to issue warnings to both benches.

To both teams, the message was clear: Stay away from the big bats or you’ll get tossed.

And there isn’t a bigger bat in Philadelphia’s lineup than Chase Utley. In the World Series thus far, Utley owns a .333 average to go along with five homeruns, eight RBI, and a .429 on-base percentage. It’s a postseason series for the record books and one that makes Utley a marked man.

It should be almost impossible to knock him down without a warning being issued. And if he gets plunked, an ejection should be the foregone conclusion.

I wouldn’t look for New York’s Andy Pettitte to be the one to send the message tonight.

At his advanced age, he’s a control pitcher; every umpire on the field knows this.

But Utley has led the league in hit-by-pitches three times; every umpire on the field also knows this.

A hit-by-pitch could go either way, for Pettitte or against Pettitte. That’s a chance I don’t think Joe Girardi is willing to take, especially with a shaky bullpen and a championship trophy hanging in the balance.

In seven regular season at bats versus Pettitte, Utley stroked just one hit, good for a sloppy .143 average. In Game 3, Utley posted an 0-fer against Pettitte and didn’t reach base. Thus far, Pettitte is the only pitcher to neutralize Philadelphia’s biggest threat.

I’m not looking for the Utley to even be in the Yankee’s game plan. I’m expecting him to get worked away most of the night with Pettitte pitching around him for the first six innings.

And while having ducks on the pond is never something you want to do, it’s more desirable than the possible ejection of MLB’s best postseason pitcher.

Make Ryan Howard show up. Make Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez press and swing at pitches they’d normally avoid.

Trust shortstop Derek Jeter and second baseman Robinson Cano to turn the double play (43 percent of Pettitte’s pitches become groundballs).

Believe in the offense. Even when it seemed like the Yankees were all-but dead in Game 5, they took the wind out of Philadelphia’s sails by scoring 5 runs in the final two innings.

Pettitte should not brush Utley back in the first inning or even think about plunking him until the game is out of Philadelphia’s control.

Leave the pigheadness to Pedro Martinez.

How to watch postseason baseball (when you don’t really care).

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Is this you during the 2009 postseason?When I completed yesterday’s article on baseball’s lack of parity, I slipped into a coma of jaded baseball indifference. Despite having the opportunity to finally watch a live playoff baseball game, I didn’t. I popped in a library-rented copy of Ghost Town starring Ricky Gervais and sat there on the futon and stared blankly into our tiny television screen.

Now that’s fun!

As the movie droned on, I had an epiphany. I popped up and turned the movie off and immediately tuned into the Angels/Yankees game on Fox Network.

How did it get this bad? How did I become so uninterested in the sport I love so much? Was I burnt out from the 500 or so games I’d taken in during the regular season? Or did I just not care about any of the teams still involved in this year’s World Series race?

Choosing Ghost Town over October baseball left me incredibly shaken; wrestling with that questionable and hasty decision left me sleepless and anxious.

But this morning I woke up feeling revived. Despite four 2008 playoff teams making appearances in this postseason and the inherent been-there-seen-that feelings, I have decided I’m going to finish this season strong: like Ozzie Guillen’s White Sox, I’m going to take two out of three in the season’s last series. I’m going to watch as much as I can and I’m going to cheer when someone hoists that World Championship Trophy.

But once your favorite team has been eliminated and the pool is narrowed to the usual suspects, what do you do to stay interested? Here are some ways I’ve started to make the postseason a little more interesting (even if you’re not interested).

  • Root for players, not teams. Despite genuinely disliking most of the players on the New York Yankees because of their association with Alex Rodriguez, I get a little satisfaction cheering on Johnny Damon who, despite his baby-like arm, has put together quite a string of solid, yet unspectacular, offensive seasons. The Angel’s Torii Hunter is, perhaps, the game’s most exciting centerfielder and this is a chance to witness his fleet-feet on the big stage (forget about the misplay in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series) on East Coast time. Choose a few of your personal favorites and follow their game, not the team’s.
  • Admire Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Jim Thome, Joe Torre, Vladimir Guerrero, Bobby Abreu, and Pedro Martinez. In a few years, these guys will be gone and a generation of baseball will end. One has to respect all of their accomplishments and the successes they’ve had on the ball field. No matter who they play or manage for, these are guys who you should watch and revere and appreciate.
  • Learn about the next generation of superstars. Most every team in this year’s postseason has a few budding stars, players that any real baseball fan should have an interest in. The Angel’s Kendry Morales, the Dodger’s Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw, and the Phillie’s Jayson Werth are among the game’s youngest and most exciting players. They are going to be household names in a few years, so watch them mature before your eyes.
  • Follow the stories instead of the games. This is just the second postseason for the Phillie’s 37-year-old Raul Ibanez in his illustrious and, up-until-2008, underappreciated 14-season career. Could this be his last chance at a ring? Will one of these next starts be the last for 15-year veteran Andy Pettitte? Could Joe Torre and his Dodgers face his long-time team, the Yankees, in the World Series? Even if the same old song and dance doesn’t seem exciting, there really is some interesting storylines.

If that seems like a lot of work, it is. But tonight I’ll weather the storm along with the Angels and Yankees and endure what it sure to be a four hour affair. And if I’m too tired at the end, my girlfriend rented Vicky Christina Barcelona. Two words: Scarlett Johansson. Unlike Ghost Town, that IS better than October baseball.

After Cardinal’s elimination, a new battle begins.

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The Cardinals have been eliminated.Now that my beloved St. Louis Cardinals have made their not-so dramatic exit from the postseason, a new battle begins. The Battle of the Remote.

I watch baseball, any baseball, whenever I can. When the MLB Network shows classic World Series games, I’m there. When the College World Series runs on ESPN, my eyes are glued to the television. I’ll even watch the Little League World Series.

But not my husband. He’ll watch the Cardinals with me, but often he flips the channel if I walk out of the room for a mere second. Any other team, he could care less. And he certainly doesn’t want to hear about the Dodgers right now, no matter how brilliant my analysis might be.

With the American League and National League set to crown their respective champions, I’m totally captivated by the remaining teams.

The Angels and the Yankees could be an exciting series; or not. It’s really going to depend on how the Angels play and if they let the mighty Yankees just steamroll over them. The Dodgers and Phillies could be a classic National League battle. Joe Torre is a master strategist, but the Phillies certainly don’t want to end their reign as champions.

As for my allegiance, I’m almost unbiased this year.

Almost.

As a die-hard Cardinals fan, I don’t want to see the Angels win. Closer Brian Fuentes snubbed his nose at my team this past offseason when the Cardinals offered him a pretty sweet salary.

The Yankees are the reason that Major League Baseball needs a salary cap. Small market teams can’t compete for well-known free agents, especially if the Yankees are interested. The Bronx Bombers outprice everyone else and jolt ordinary, average players’ paychecks way too high.

And the Dodgers, well…two words: Manny Ramirez. Regardless of their ousting of the Cardinals, I don’t want Manny to get another ring. He disrespected the game. And himself.

That leaves the Phillies. I have nothing against them. And the bonus is slugger Ryan Howard. When in doubt, I’ll cheer on a hometown hero. It’s the closest St. Louis will get to the World Series this year anyway.

As for the Battle of the Remote, no problem. My husband can regulate himself to the small, non-HD television while I lounge on the couch shouting at the umpires as they continue to blow obvious calls.

That is a win-win situation.

Written by LS Murphy. Mrs. Murphy is an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan and is a consistent contributor to Cardinal’s Mix. She can also be followed on Twitter.

Card’s Pujols, Phil’s Howard erase legend Kiner from record books.

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This past week wasn’t a good one for Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner’s legacy.

In the course of one week, two records set by the former Pirates/Cubs/Indian’s slugger were surpassed, making him more a footnote than a standard bearer.

First, Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard became the fastest to 200 home runs, accomplishing the feat in 658 games compared to Kiner’s long-standing 706 games. And last night, the Cardinal’s Albert Pujols padded his already-superb resume by toppling Kiner’s prodigious mark for home runs spanning the first nine seasons of a career, clubbing numbers 352 and 353.

Howard: quickest to 200 home runs.Pujols: most productive through nine seasons.

And while his records may be gone, Kiner will never be forgotten.

Dad, do you have this card?Kiner’s Baseball-Reference page is peppered with bold marks- a litany of single season records that are a testament to Kiner’s dominance during his injury shortened ten-year career. From 1946 to 1952, no one in the National League hit more home runs than Kiner; of his nine years in the senior circuit, Kiner led the league in home runs seven times. He hit 50 home runs twice; 51 in his sophomore season and 54 during his Most Valuable Player campaign in 1949. And speaking of MVP campaigns, Kiner had seven of those too, his best finish coming during that 1949 season when he finished fourth. Kiner’s best seasons were as a Pirate and from 1946-53 he appeared in the All-Star game donning that uniform each time.

Kiner spent part of 1953 and all of the 1954 season with the Chicago Cubs before being dealt to the Cleveland Indians, where a back injury promptly ended his playing career in 1955. He was 32-years-old.

In 1961, Kiner started broadcasting with the Chicago White Sox. The following year, he began announcing for the expansion New York Mets.

In 1975, Kiner was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his 13th and final vote. He received one more vote than needed for election. In 1984, Kiner was elected to the New York Mets Hall of Fame for his illustrious broadcast career. In 1987, the Pirates retired Kiner’s #4.

There are few players that I wish I could travel back in time to see. And on that list, there’s no Jackie Robinson, no Willie Mays, and no Joe DiMaggio.

There is, however, Ralph Kiner.

Phillies ink Pedro Martinez to one-year, $1 million contract.

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Phillies sign Pedro.Hurler could make $1.5 million in performance-based incentives.

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Will have short minor league stint before return to majors.

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PHILADELPHIA — Three-time Cy Young award winner Pedro Martinez agreed to a one-year, $1 million, incentive laden contract with the Phillies this morning.

Martinez was immediately placed on the team’s 15-day disabled list. By placing Martinez on the list, the 17-year veteran right-handed officially embarked on a two-week minor league stint without taking up one of the team’s 25 roster spots. It is not yet known where Martinez will be sent for his first start in the minors, though it is expected he will make his major league debut on July 30 when the team opens a series against the San Francisco Giants.

Last year, Martinez pitched for the divisional rival New York Mets and amassed five wins and six losses with an earned run average of 5.61 in just 110 innings.

Martinez, one of the game’s most dominating pitchers from 1995 to 2005 with the Dodgers, Expos, Red Sox, and Mets, has suffered from numerous injuries over the past three seasons. During his 2006 campaign with the Mets, Martinez suffered a hip injury after a fall in the team’s clubhouse. He pitched ineffectively and sporadically over the season’s last two months before it was revealed that Martinez was also reeling from torn muscles in his calf and rotator cuff. He started only five games in 2007 before his lackluster return last year.

Pedro last pitched in the World Baseball Classic.Martinez was last seen professionally pitching during the 2009 World Baseball Classic for the Dominican Republic where he worked six scoreless innings, striking out six and walking none.

Martinez is the latest of a slew of once-dominating pitchers signed to low-risk contracts. Earlier this season, the Chicago White Sox signed righty Bartolo Colon to a similar deal and the Boston Red Sox signed former-Dodgers closer Takashi Saito for $1.5 million. In a league desperate for pitching, the Phillie’s saw an opportunity to sign a proven, yet ailing, pitcher with high upside.

After watching Martinez pitch in two private sessions, the team looked to sign him. While his fastball no longer reached  96-97 miles per hour, Martinez hit 92 on the gun consistently during the first session. His arm recovered nicely during the second outing, and since Martinez hasn’t pitched consistently since the Classic, the minor league rehabilitation stint should allow him to maintain more consistent velocity and to harbor his off-speed offerings.

The Phillies are not expecting a resurgent Pedro Martinez, but rather looking for a bridge between the team’s rock-solid front end and the team’s unproven four and five pitchers, J.A. Happ and the combination of Rodrigo Lopez and three others.

Philadelphia’s general manager Ruben Amaro also indicated that Martinez’s pedestrian 2009 salary also allows the team to pursue loftier goals, most notably, Blue Jay’s ace and trade bait Roy Halladay.

Rollins’ struggles continue in return to Phillies lineup!

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Rollins is on a 0-27 skid.Goes 0-for-5 with two strikeouts on Wednesday.

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Now in career-worst 0-for-27 rut, future looks bleak at plate.

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PHILADELPHIA — Phillie’s leadoff man and shortstop Jimmy Rollins continued his struggles at the plate this season, extending his career-worst hitless steak to 27 at-bats on Wednesday.

Rollins, freshly returned from a four game benching by manager Charlie Manuel, struck out twice, grounded out twice, and flew out once in the team’s match up against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. It was his seventh consecutive hitless game.

A former National League Most Valuable Player and Silver Slugger, Rollins’ 2009 campaign has been anything but productive. Hitting primarily from the leadoff spot, Rollins owns the worst on-base-percentage among N.L. shortstops with a .250 mark. His .205 batting average also ranks among the worst among active players and with 34 strikeouts already, Rollins is almost certain to eclipse his totals during his 2008 and 2007 seasons.

But that’s only if he continues to play.

The team is currently 39-36, clinging onto first place in the tight N.L. East. Everyday that Rollins’ skid continues, it becomes more apparent that something has to happen, as the team can not afford to throw away any games.

During Tuesday’s match up against division rival Atlanta, Rollins was given the chance to tie the game in the ninth inning against reliever Rafael Soriano. In what perhaps best sums up his season, Rollins struck out on a weak checked swing. He ended the game 0-for-5.

Fans have had enough and are clamoring for a change. Unfortunately there are no apparent internal options.

The recent benching of Rollins offered Charlie Manuel a unique opportunity to mix up the order. The Shane Victorino Experiment didn’t work out (2-15). And if Rollins doesn’t improve within the next week, Manuel should try Jayson Werth in the role, who is getting on at a .363 clip and has above-average speed. Anything seems better than Rollins at this point; if it were anyone else, Rollins would be looking at a demotion.

During the Phillie’s championship run in 2008, Rollins reached base nearly one-third of the time, a lofty increase over the clip he’s reaching right now. While the team is still scoring runs this year (first in the N.L.), the offense has never truly clicked; instead the offense has relied on breakout performances from outfielders Raul Ibanez and Werth and the steady play of first baseman Ryan Howard and second baseman Chase Utley.

There’s only so long that the shoddy play of Rollins can continue before the Philadelphia front office has to make a determination.