Another Series Win for the Phillies

The Phillies won their 5th series in a row, beating the San Francisco Giants at home, winning 2 out of 3 games. They had a chance for the sweep yesterday, but to be honest, were due for a letdown game, and really did not play well.

The Phillies won game 1 behind a strong performance from Roy Oswalt. The game was not going well, as Oswalt allowed two 1st innings runs, and the Phillies offense got off to a sluggish start against Giants starter Barry Zito. That was until the 5th inning. The Phillies put a 2 spot in both the 5th and 6th innings to take a 4-2 lead. After the Giants got one back in the 7th, the game was tight, and went into the 8th inning seeing the Phillies clinging to a 4-3 lead. In the bottom of the 8th, the Phillies loaded the bases, and arguably the team MVP, Carlos Ruiz, came to the plate. Ruiz ripped a double off the wall, the Phillies would go on to score 5 in the inning to win the game 9-3.

The 2nd game of the series started out much the same. Joe Blanton was on the bump in this game, and has to have the worst 1st inning ERA in the history of baseball. Not surprisingly, Andres Torres led off the game with a mammoth home run into the 2nd deck in right field. Blanton did calm down however, and would only give up 1 more run on a solo home run by Pat Burrell, his 2nd in as many games in the series. The Phillies offense, led by Jimmy Rollins, once again put up numbers. They got to Matt Cain, Jimmy Rollins ended up a double short of the cycle, and Dominic Brown hit a huge home run. The Phillies smashed the ball all game, and ended up with 2 doubles, 3 triples, and 2 home runs, and won the game 8-2.

The Phillies went for the sweep yesterday with Cole Hamels on the mound. The Phillies have not scored for Hamels all season, and that trend would continue. Hamels is usually able to keep the Phillies in games even when they are not scoring for them; unfortunately, this was not one of those nights. Hamels gave up 3 1st inning runs, and Jonathan Sanchez shut down the Phillies, as the Giants avoided the sweep and won the game 5-2. The Phillies 2 runs weren't scored until the 9th inning.

The Phillies have won 5 straight series, and that is really all you can ask for. If the Phillies keep taking 2 of 3 every series, they will be in good shape. Unfortunately, the Braves are playing way over their heads, and currently lead the Phillies by 2.5 games in the NL East. The Phillies do lead the wild card however now by 1 game over the Giants, and 2 games of the Cardinals.

The Phillies sit at 2-1 on this current 10 game homestand, and I really think you need to go 7-3 on this homestand. This means they need to go 5-2 against the Nationals and Astros; this is something they should be able to do against 2 bad teams. The Nationals come to town for a 3 game series starting tonight. Roy Halladay takes the mound tonight for the Phillies.


Phillies Win 4th Series in a Row

The Phillies won a series 2-1 against the Mets for the 2nd time in a little over a week. It was good to bounce back from the first game of the series when Mets knuckle baller R.A. Dickey dominated the Phillies.

There isn't much to say about the first game of the series as R.A. Dickey threw a complete game shutout, outdueling Cole Hamels. Hamels continues his strong play this season, by also throwing a complete game, and only allowing 1 run. The problem was the Phillies offense; it was bad, and the Phillies couldn't even muster a run against Dickey. The Phillies lost the game 1-0.

The 2nd game of the series, and needing a win, Halladay took the mound. All he did was his usual work; threw 8 scoreless innings, and the Phillies won the game 4-0. Again the Phillies offense wasn't great, but was good enough to win... especially with Halladay on the mound.

The rubber match was the ESPN Sunday night game last night, and then Phillies really needed to win this series, and did just that. The Phillies got a quality start from Kyle Kendrick, who only allowed 1 run, and the Phillies played some small ball to take the game 3-1. The Phillies took the series 2-1.

There are some offensive concerns coming out of this series. The Phillies only scored 7 runs in the 3 games. They are just lucky that the Mets have an even worse offense right now. There is some good news, as Chase Utley will probably make his return from the disabled list tomorrow as the Phillies are back home against the Giants this week for a 3 game series. The Phillies are currently tied with the Giants for the wild card lead. The Phillies remain 2 games back of the Braves for first place in the NL East. Ryan Howard is also due off the disabled list tomorrow, but it looks like he will sit out at least another week.

The Phillies definitely need to step up the offensive game. The Phillies are winning games, but it isn't going to last very long if they continue to struggle offensively. The Phillies have not hit a home run in a week. Hopefully the return of Utley, and the soon return of Howard will fix the home run drought.


Eagles Finally Get Some Game Action

After following all the camp stories to death the past couple weeks, it will be nice to finally watch and get to see some of the players in actual game action, even if it is just a meaningless preseason game.

The Eagles play host to the Jaguars in their first preseason game of the season. It's important to remember that the most important outcome of any preseason game is making sure no one is on the injured list after the game.

This is however a meaningful game for a lot of the players trying to make the team. They will be judged a lot on how they perform in game action. Also, the Eagles are counting on a lot of rookies to play big roles this season, and these games are important for those players also to get some live game action under their belts.

Tonight, I will keep a close eye on the 2 starting defensive rookies, Brandon Graham and Nate Allen. 2nd round pick Nate Allen appears to have locked up the starting free safety position. I'm not sure if this is due to the fact that he has outplayed everyone, or just that the Eagles are really hoping that he is the team's free safety of the future. The Eagles are very thin at the safety position in my opinion, as Quintin Demps, and Macho Harris are not starters in my opinion. This means that Allen will have to play a large role in the defense this season. I have concerns that Allen struggles with tackling at time. I have been a big advocate that the Eagles should have chosen Taylor Mays over Nate Allen. Obviously it could be years down the line before that argument is determined, but I have some definite concerns over Nate Allen, and I am hoping I am wrong.

Brandon Graham is the other rookie, the Eagles first round draft pick, who looks like he might be starting by Week 1. All indications from camp are that Graham is a special player, and has been one of, if not the most impressive player in camp thus far. The Eagles have been trying to fill the left defensive end spot opposite Trent Cole for years. I am hoping Graham can be that guy. He is another guy who we will need to keep a close eye on tonight.

On defense, the team appears pretty set. We will see how the strong side linebacker position plays out, as Moise Fokou was the starter entering camp, but Akeem Jordan appears to have taken that starting spot over. I am not a huge Jordan fan, I feel like he is adequate, but a very average player overall. I think Bradley, and Ernie Sims will be beasts this season.

The cornerback spot is another position that I feel is thin. I'm not sure Ellis Hobbs is starting material. And I'm not sure Joselio Hanson is 3rd CB material. I am interested to see how Trevard Lindley plays in the preseason, as I think he could end up being a starter; that is probably a year or two away though.

On offense, the Eagles are very young, but seem to have a lot of skill. Obviously we need to see how new starter Kevin Kolb performs in game action, but luckily he was able to start a couple games last season. On offense, the offensive line is the question mark, along with Kolb. Jason Peters did not play well last season. Todd Herramans is still injured. Stacy Andrews is the starting right guard, which is a concern in itself. And that doesn't even mention the uncertain center position.

At center, Jamaal Jackson is out, and probably won't be back for a while, and shouldn't be rushed back with the ACL injury. Nick Cole took over the center position, but seemed to struggle and also got injured. This moved 3rd year former Pittsburgh Panther, Mike McGlynn, into the starting center position, and he will get the nod tonight at center. Apparently McGlynn has played really well the past week at camp, and is a very big body at the center position.

Either way, it will be nice to see an actual game, and see how some of the young players perform, even if it counts for nothing.

Phillies Take Series Against Dodgers

The Phillies won an amazing game yesterday when it looked like they were about to drop 2 of 3 at home to the Dodgers. Because the Braves won 2 of 3 from the Astros, the Phillies once again remain 2 games back in the NL East, and 1 game back of the Giants in the wild card.

The Phillies lost the first game of the series with Kyle Kendrick getting lit up, and the bullpen doing horribly. Kendrick pitched poorly from the start, which isn't surprising since even though Kendrick has pitched well, he gets lit up a lot. After Kendrick left the game, Antonio Bastardo let up a run, Herndon let up 4, Baez let up 2, and Romero let up 2. Even though Ex-Phillie Vicente Padilla didn't pitch well, he got the win. The Dodgers won the game 15-9. The Phillies couldn't pull out an amazing comeback. More on that topic later.

Game 2 of the series, the Phillies bounced back and got the 2-0 victory behind Roy Oswalt, who picked up his first win as a member of the Phillies. This was exactly how you draw it up from a managing standpoint. Oswalt pitched 7 scoreless innings, followed by Ryan Madson pitching a scoreless 8th, followed by Brad Lidge with a 1-2-3 9th inning to get the save. It didn't matter that the Phillies offense didn't give them much this day, as the pitching was phenomenal.

Game 3 of the series, the Phillies, behind more bad pitching would find themselves down 9-2 going into the bottom of the 8th inning. Blanton continued his first inning struggles by allowing 3 earned runs in the first inning, which always puts the Phillies in a tough hole to get out of. The bullpen was again bad. Chad Durbin this time allowed 2 runs, J.C. Romero allowed 2, but both were unearned, and Jose Contreras allowed 1 run.

The Phillies were able to overcome this however, as they put up a 4 spot in both the 8th and 9th innings. The Phillies made it a 9-6 game going into the 9th inning, but still had a lot of work to do. After Polanco was hit by a pitch, Sweeney and Werth walked to load the bases with no outs. Ben Francisco hit a grounder right to 3rd baseman Casey Blake, who let the ball go right through his legs. The Phillies scored 2, and then had runners on 1st and 2nd, with beast Carlos Ruiz coming to the plate. Ruiz ripped a drive deep to left center scoring 2 runs, and winning an unbelievable comeback for the Fightins. It was the biggest comeback victory in Citizens Bank Park history, and allowed the Phillies to keep pace in the National League.

Even though the Phillies won an amazing game, it masks the fact that the bullpen was very bad this series. Almost every member of the bullpen allowed a run in this 3 game series. This cannot continue to happen coming towards the end of the season if the Phillies want to make the playoffs, and go deep in the playoffs.

On the other hand, the offense played well overall, despite the injuries, and Carlos Ruiz continues to be an absolute beast. He is very close to Ryan Howard for the offensive MVP of this team right now. Ruiz seems to come up with every clutch hit that is needed lately for the Phillies. Shane Victorino joined the team last night, and the Phillies sent back down Antonio Bastardo to the minors. Victorino did not start last night, but probably will tonight.

The Phillies travel to New York to play the Mets this weekend in a 3 game series. They just have to keep taking care of business and winning ball games, no matter what the Braves, and other wild card teams are doing.


Phillies Take 2 of 3 From Mets

The Phillies won earlier today, capping off the series win at home against the New York Mets, and winning the series. The Phillies held off the Mets and won the game today 6-5.

Friday night saw a solid start from Joe Blanton, but an offense that struggled, until the 8th inning. The Phillies went into the 8th inning losing 2-1 in the game, but put up a 6 spot in the inning, and held off a late Mets change to win the game 7-5. It is a good sign to see Joe Blanton pitch well, since he is basically the 4th starter on this team, and will need to pitch well late in the season for the Phillies to have success. New Phillie Mike Sweeney got 2 hits in the game, both coming in the 8th inning.

On Saturday, the Phillies lackluster offense continued, only this time it continued throughout the whole game. Again, the Phillies got great starting pitching, this time from Cole Hamels, who should have a much better record than he does. Hamels only allowed 1 run in the game, the only run the Mets would get; too bad it was 1 more than the Phillies would score on this day. The Phillies almost busted the game open again for a 2nd straight game in the 8th inning. They loaded the bases in the 8th inning against K-Rod, only to see Ross Gload ground out.

The Phillies were able to bounce back today behind Roy Halladay and the long ball. The Phillies once again had 1 big inning, scoring 5 runs in the 3rd inning, and knocking R.A. Dickey out of the game early. Halladay went 7 innings and struck out 10, but did allow 5 earned runs. This raised his ERA to 2.34; not too bad. Raul Ibanez hit a 3 run homer for the Phillies, and Jayson Werth also homered and went 3-4 at the plate. Werth's average is now back over .300. Brad Lidge pitched a scoreless 9th, getting the save. It was a good sign, as Lidge gave up a leadoff single, and this is when Lidge usually struggles a lot, with runners on base.

Lidge pitched well this weekend when he came in, however J.C. Romero has been struggling. I am a Romero fan, and still am, but he needs to turn it around and have a good end of the season. I still feel as if the Phillies need a 2nd lefty in the bullpen, and would be in favor of calling up Antonio Bastardo to the bullpen to give the Phillies that 2nd lefty, even if he comes in just to get 1 guy out.

On offense, I would really like to see Jimmy Rollins step his game up, and have a great last 2 months. We have seen what this team is capable of when J-Roll gets hot, and this team is scary good. If Rollins can get on a roll late in the season, and get Utley and Howard back, there is no reason this team shouldn't be as good as the team that went to the World Series the past 2 seasons.