Gameday: Phillies (94-64) at Nationals (68-90)

Philadelphia Phillies (94-64) at Washington Nationals (68-90)

NationalsJoe Blanton (8-6, 4.94 ERA) vs. Ross Detwiler (1-2, 2.52)

Time: 7:05, Nationals Park
Weather:
Rainy, 66
TV: CSN
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Nationals Park is where it all began this season, where the division was won, and, tonight, the Phillies will say goodbye to Washington until next spring. That is, if the rain holds off.

With home-field advantage throughout the playoffs sewn up, the Phillies can afford to take their ease a little bit, as Charlie Manuel proved last night. Last night, Adam Dunn’s walk-off homer helped the Nats to a 2-1 victory over the Phillies’ reserve squad. Tonight is no different, as the Phillies make seven changes from their Opening Day lineup. John Mayberry gets his first start of the year, and Hero of the People Wilson Valdez returns to the lineup in relief of Chase Utley.

That patchwork squad will face lefthander Ross Detwiler, a 24-year-old making his 19th career major league start. Detwiler was picked 6th overall in 2007. In recent years, the Nats have done well drafting pitchers in the high rounds, netting Stephen Strasburg, Drew Storen, Chad Cordero, and Jordan Zimmermann in recent years. Detwiler has not been so fortunate, struggling with his control this year. At his best, he’s a finesse lefty in the Cole Hamels mold, mixing in a decent fastball with a change-up for an out pitch, but so far, despite a nearly-even K/BB ratio, Detwiler’s gotten away with it, posting a 2.52 ERA in 25 innings. Pay attention to this guy, because when the Nationals finally put it together in a couple years, Detwiler could be one of their good young arms, along with Zimmermann and Strasburg.

There’s not a whole lot else to say about tonight’s game. Hardly anything is on the line, so sit back, relax, and be glad you’re not out there in that rain.

Today’s lineup: Rollins SS, Valdez 2B, Victorino CF, Sweeney 1B, Francisco LF, Mayberry RF, Dobbs 3B, Hoover C, Blanton P

Nugget NectarYour Gameday Beer – Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest

Today is the 60th birthday of Milwaukee Brewers owner Ken Macha, and in his honor, we’ll give you a seasonal beer from the best of the Milwaukee brewers, Jacob Leinenkugel. Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest is not as highly-touted as, say Sam Adams, but it’s a malty beer that makes you think of football, terrible weather, and pumpkin pie. Enjoy. -Michael Baumann

GO PHILLIES!



Rotation is Set; Who’s Excited?

A week or so ago, Dave Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News mapped out the Phillies possibilities for the NLDS. Open door #1 and you’ll start the divisional series on Wednesday October 6 with two off days during a five game series. Door #2 gave you a later start, but with less off days in between. The choice was clear.

We now know that Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee, among others, have chosen to go with the early Wednesday start. It’s was really the only call because it allows the Phillies to use Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt throughout the five games without using a fourth starter. Manuel has said all along that his strength is pitching, so he’ll ride with what got him here.

Here is a look at the schedule from here until the postseason. How can that not get you excited? Three pitchers who combined to go 20-7 in 33 starts since Roy Oswalt’s acquisition in July get to pitch over and over and over again.

NLDS

Oct. 6 – Game 1 – Halladay
Oct. 7 – Off
Oct. 8 – Game 2 – Hamels
Oct. 9 – Off
Oct. 10 – Game 3 – Oswalt
Oct. 11 – Game 4 – Halladay (Normal Rest)
Oct. 12 – Off
Oct. 13 – Game 5 – Hamels (Normal Rest)

NLCS

Oct. 16 – Game 1 – Halladay
Oct. 17 – Game 2 – Hamels
Oct. 18 – Off
Oct. 19 – Game 3 – Oswalt
Oct. 20 – Game 4 – Blanton
Oct. 21 – Game 5 – Halladay
Oct. 22 – Off
Oct. 23 – Game 6 – Hamels
Oct. 24 – Game 7 – Oswalt

World Series

Oct. 27 – Game 1 – Halladay
Oct. 28 – Game 2 – Hamels
Oct. 29 – Off
Oct. 30 – Game 3 – Oswalt
Oct. 31 – Game 4 – Blanton
Nov. 1 – Game 5 – Halladay
Nov. 2 – Off
Nov. 3 – Game 6 – Hamels
Nov. 4 – Game 7 – Oswalt

It also appears that we’ve seen the last of the Big 3 in the regular season. Halladay last pitched on Monday in the clincher meaning he’ll get eight days to rest. You have to wonder, and this is not a push of the panic button by any means, but will that throw Halladay off kilter? He’s a creature of habit, perhaps more than any other Phillies player. Will an eight-day layoff hurt him or help him? Just playing devils advocate.

If you watched any baseball last night, you’ll know that the Cincinnati Reds are now in after their division-clinching victory. San Francisco also won to take a two-game lead in the NL West over the Padres. In the race for second place, the Giants are a half game up on wild-card leader Atlanta. Cincinnati is a game back.

So, if the playoffs ended right now, the Reds would be the Phillies first round opponent. During the regular season, the Phils went 5-2 over Cincy, including a four-game sweep at Citizens Bank Park in July.

Cincinnati or San Francisco? Who would you rather see? The Reds have a potent offense with a middle-of-the-road rotation. The Giants have great arms at the top – one of the only teams that can rival the Phillies – but lack offense.

UPDATE, 9:25 am: A comment from a Phillies Nation fan on twitter sparked this. If Hamels were to pitch Game 2 of the NLCS, he would be doing so on short rest. If Oswalt were to stay in the Game 3 NLCS slot, He’d be pitching on eight days rest. The solution: flip Hamels to a possible Game 3 start in the NLCS and Oswalt to Game 2. However, that point would be moot should the Phillies wrap up the opening series in less than five games. This layout is simply to say that each pitcher could get a maximum number of starts throughout the postseason.



Gameday: Phillies (93-63) at Nationals (67-89)

Philadelphia Phillies (93-63) at Washington Nationals (67-89)

NationalsJohn Lannan, LHP (8-7, 4.58 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (20-10, 2.53 ERA)

Time: 7:05, Nationals Stadium
Weather:
Chance of rain, 66
TV: CSN
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The Phillies 2010 season began in Washington, DC with Roy Halladay squaring off against John Lannan. It could for all intents and purposes come to a close tonight under the same scenario. A Phillies win or a Braves loss will clinch the fourth consecutive division title for the Phillies.

Rain is expected tonight, so there is a chance the game will be postponed or even canceled. For the latest on how the weather will affect tonight’s game, follow Twitter:


After a brief appearance in yesterday’s game, Jimmy Rollins will not be starting.

Today’s lineup: Victorino CF, Polanco 3B, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Werth RF, Ibanez LF, Ruiz C, Valdez SS, Halladay P

Nugget NectarYour Gameday Beer – Nugget Nectar
This brew by Troegs (out of the PA capital) is a mix of Red and Amber Ale; and as a result, it pours a vibrant orange color in your glass. The taste hits you right away with piney hops then gradually fades into tropical fruit flavors. It’s a tasty beer worth trying, especially alongside a roasted chicken. – By Brian

GO PHILLIES!



Phillies Fail to Clinch at Home, Lose to Mets, 7-3

—Citizens Bank Park

It’s not the way they wanted things to end at home, but the Phillies did get some help in the standings. Even though the Phils lost to the Mets 7-3 in the series finale, the Atlanta Braves lost to the Washington Nationals, 4-2.

With a six game lead with six to play, any win by the Phillies, or any loss by the Braves, means the Phillies will clinch the National League East.

On the mound, Cole Hamels was working with very little from the early stages of the game. He allowed a second inning home run to David Wright, which put the Mets on top 1-0. Hamels was visibly frustrated with the strike zone of home plate umpire Mike Winters all afternoon, and for good reason. Winters was not consistent, but let’s not place all of the blame on the umpire. Hamels wasn’t sharp and he made several mistakes, including another long one to Carlos Beltran in the fifth inning.

Hamels would last only four innings – plus one batter in the fifth, which was Beltran – allowing five runs on nine hits to go with three walks and two strikeouts. The five earned runs allowed were the most for Hamels since —. His two K’s on the day were a season low for a game that was not rain shortened.

“It was just one of those days where I couldn’t locate and I wasn’t being consistent,” said Hamels after his second-shortest outing of the season. “I just threw…too many pitches out of the zone, then when I was throwing strikes I left them up.”

Sound like you can chalk it up to a great pitcher just having a bad day. Unfortunately, it came in a spot where a win would have sent the Phillies off on the road with another NL East crown. That will have to wait until at least Monday.

Chase Utley accounted for all of the Phillies offense with one swing of the stick in the fifth inning. He lined one into the first row in right field for a three-run home run, his 16th of the season. Other than his contribution, little was provided elsewhere. The Phillies did manage nine hits on the afternoon, however, they again struggled with runners in scoring position going 1-for-13.

“You can’t hit every day, that’s life,” quipped Charlie Manuel following his teams first series loss since the Houston Astros swept them in late August.

Jimmy Rollins made his return to the lineup a quick and rather uninspiring one. Rollins pinch hit for Wilson Valdez in the eighth inning, his first at bat since September 8. He swung at the first pitch and rolled it over to second base. Not exactly how he wanted to come back, but at least he’s been deemed healthy enough to play from here on out.

The home schedule didn’t end on a high note, but there were reasons to celebrate the season on Fan Appreciation Day. Over 3.6 million fans pushed through the turnstiles, an average attendance of 45,028 per game, both franchise records.

They’ll now head to the Nation’s Capital for a three game set with the Nats, who did their part to aid the Phillies this weekend. Rain is forecasted for both Monday and Tuesday, which sets up an interesting situation should any game be rained out.



Gameday: Mets (75-79) at Phillies (93-62)

New York Mets (75-79) at Philadelphia Phillies (93-62)

Atlanta BravesPat Misch, LHP (0-4, 4.44 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (12-10, 2.93 ERA)

Time: 1:35, Citizens Bank Park
Weather:
Cloudy, 68
TV: CSN
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It comes down to this. Can they finish off the Braves in the NL East with a win at home, coupled with an Atlanta loss? The Braves play at 1:35 as well, in Washington, so as we’ve said all weekend, GO NATS!

Cole Hamels is in charge of taking this game for the Phillies and recently he’s been outstanding. He’ll need to be once again if the home crowd wants to witness history. If/when the Phils clinch, it will be the first time ever that they’ve won four straight division titles. Philadelphia haven’t seen a winner like this since the late 70’s and into the early 80’s, and what a treat it is

Everyone will be doing some scoreboard watching, all while football plays in the background on a Sunday afternoon. But keep it locked to Phillies baseball, this is an important one!

Today’s lineup: Victorino CF, Polanco 3B, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Werth RF, Ibanez LF, Ruiz C, Valdez SS, Kendrick P

Your gameday beer: Harpoon Glacier Harvest Wet Hop

Victory LagerThe 20th installment of the Harpoon 100 Barrel Series has been brewed to celebrate the annual hop harvest. Harpoon Glacier Harvest Wet Hop beer is a pale ale made with fresh hops picked just hours before being tossed into the brew. Harpoon is a Boston area beer that has brewed since 1986. In that relatively short time, it’s become a fairly-well known beer in the Northeastern part of the U.S. Enjoy the beer, enjoy the win!

GO PHILLIES!



Phils give up big inning, lose 5-2

What could have been a champagne drenched locker room turned into just another post game interview spot.  The Phillies woke up Saturday morning with hopes of wrapping up the NL East division for a fourth straight year.  The Braves blanked the Nationals 5-0 in a day game canceling all hopes of clinching tonight against the Mets.  And then the seventh inning happened to the Phillies.  Magic number is still at two after losing tonight 5-2.

So let’s recap.  The win steak is over.  The playoff push is on pause; for now.  The Phillies could not figure out Mets’ rookie Dillon Gee, managing only five hits and two runs.  Hitting his 31st home run of the season, Ryan Howard is responsible for all the Phillies’ scoring for the night.  With two hits in the first inning, the Phils looked to continue their September slugfest against the Mets.

However, after the second inning, the offense went to sleep collecting only three more hits and none after the seventh.  Kyle Kendrick kept the offense in the game through six innings allowing only three hits and no runs.  But after allowing a run in the seventh and loading the bases, Kendrick was pulled for Chad Durbin.  Durbin allowed a three run double to Lucas Duda and another RBI double to Joaquin Arias.

The Phillies went into the seventh inning winning 2-0 and left trailing 5-2.

The Phillies can still clinch the division tomorrow with a win paired with a Braves loss.  If not, they will have to do it on the road in Washington or Atlanta.

Keep the champagne on ice and plastic rolled up.  But don’t put it away.  The Phillies will still need it.  Cole Hamels goes tomorrow for the Phils against Pat Misch.



Numbers unjust for Oswalt, Hamels

Disagreement is a major part of sports. After all, what fun would it be to discuss sports if everyone had the same opinion about everything?

It wouldn’t be fun at all.

But every great one in a while a topic comes up that just can’t be debated — at least it shouldn’t be.

This is one of those cases.

I will state is as unquestioned fact (or something like that) that no team in baseball has two pitchers with losing records that are better than the Phillies’ Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Oswalt took a no-hitter into the seventh today in the Phillies’ 5-1 win over the Dodgers. With the win he improved to an unjustified 10-13. I guess that’s what happens when you’re stuck on the Astros for 2/3 of the season.

If Oswalt is looking for sympathy he certainly wont get any from teammate Hamels, who somehow only has eight wins this year. One of the big question marks entering the season was if Hamels could find his 208 form, or if he would be the same guy who struggled in 2009. Well, Hamels has pitched like the 2008 version, yet is stuck with 2009-like numbers.

Trust me, when teams go against Hamels and Oswalt they are not licking their lips at the chance to face two guys with a combined 18-23 record. It’s quite the opposite.

Baseball is a team game and Oswalt and Hamels will be the first guys to tell you their numbers don’t matter as long as the team gets back to the playoffs.

Yet it wouldn’t seem justified for either pitcher to end the regular season with a losing record. Hopefully the offense can get on enough of a role to not only propel the team into the playoffs, but also reward a pair of pitchers who’s win totals just don’t seem right.



Trade more than just a rumour now.

It is looking more and more like the Phillies will acquire a new pitcher.

With Victorino, Rollins and Utley on the DL, and Moyer apparently done forever, the Phillies are trying to shore up a roster that looked a lot deeper and stronger at the beginning of the year then it does now.

Roy Oswalt may be the missing piece.   Oswalt has not yet waived his no trade clause but appears very unhappy with his standing as the staff ace for the Houston Astros, who, at  42-59 look to have no chance at the post season for 2010.  Oswalt, a very capable pitcher has seen his numbers drop to match the team, with a 6-12 record and a 3.42 ERA so far this season.

OswaltSince breaking into the big leagues in 2001, Roy Oswalt has 143 victories — 28 more than any other NL pitcher. And his 1,593 strikeouts are the most for any NL pitcher with 100 starts since 2001.  The combination of Oswalt and Halladay would give the Phillies their first authentic 1-2 punch in a generation.

Halladay held similar records in the AL prior to the trade to Philadelphia and despite a lack of run support in all his starts, he still is second in the league in ERA and 3rd in victories, and in both these categories he leads the Phillies.

The Astros, in turn, are looking to acquire Happ and Singleton as well as a prospect to be named later from the Phillies.   While Happ has not yet lived into his potential, Oswalt is a proven commodity.  And Singleton IS a hot prospect for the Phillies at a farm league level, but right now, if the Phillies are going to stay in it for the rest of the year and make a run at the Braves, they need pitching.

Wow.  It seems like every time we evaluate this team, it needs pitching.

Fielding is covered; the hitting; comes and goes, that is the nature of the game.   Pitching, has long been the area in which the Phillies have lacked world championship caliber players.  Consider 2008, their World Series winning season.  They had 4 pitchers with 10 or more victories. 

Moyer led the team with 16, then came Hamels with 14, Kendrick with 11 and Myers with 10.  The team ERA was 3.88 and the lowest ERA by a starting pitcher was Hamels at 3.09.   So when the possibility exists the Phillies may end up with 2 pitchers who can record 20 wins with an ERA in the 2′s, fans can sense the excitement.   If we can win the world series with the above rotation, imagine how much better we can be with a starting group including Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels, and Kendrick 

Missing man is Joe Blanton who had several strong years but is posting a 4-6 record with a 5.86 ERA after 16 starts this year.   If we can’t trade back for Lee, I say let Happ go and acquire the veteran that has proven he can fill the staff ace role.  Let the 2 Roys, Halladay and Oswalt fight it out to determine who will be ace #1, and who will be ace #2.



Vote for Perdro … again?

Will there be another Pedro Martinez sighting in Citizen’s Bank Park?

Well, maybe.

ESPN.com is reporting that the Phillies have been in contact with Pedro in regards to returning to the team in the second half of the season. Pedro was a pleasant surprise for the Phillies last year, rediscovering his fastball and giving the rotation some much needed depth. He was however tagged with two losses to the Yankees in the World Series.

Bellow is a statement in the story for Ruben Amero:

“We have talked to his agent, but there’s nothing so far,” Amaro Jr. said. “We are not negotiating, but we’ve been talking to him. It all depends on whether he wants to play or not.”

It’s hard to blame the Phillies for contacting Pedro considering the struggles of their rotation behind Roy Halladay and to some extent Cole Hamels. With J.A. Happ’s return still in question, Martinez wouldn’t be a horrible acquisition. And while I’m not sure Pedro can be a difference maker at this point in his career, the Phillies currently find themselves in a position where they need to consider all options.

So would you vote for Pedro?



Soft Hamels lets down team again

If Charmin ever needs a new spokesperson to talk about the how soft its brand of toilet tissue is, they need to look no further than the Cole Hamels.

The lanky left-hander showed once again Tuesday Night that no one knows more about being soft than him.

Hamels allowed a three run homer to Troy Gloss in the first inning then went back into the dugout during a rain delay that lasted all of one hour and four minutes.

When the game restarted, Hamels didn’t. His day was over, leaving 7-plus innings to be pitched by the Phillies bullpen. Nothing like burning up your bullpen with a day game on deck. Meanwhile, Braves starter Tim Hudson came back on the field and continued mowing down Phillies hitters.

Apparently those 64 minutes weren’t too long to make him call it a night. Instead Hudson went on to throw six strong innings and over 100 pitches.

If Orel Hershiser was a Bulldog, then Hamels is a poodle.

It’s not breaking news that Hamels is soft. He has been perceived that way by Phillies fans throughout his career. He has refused to pitch on three days rest when asked and his personality makes him seem like a better fit for a Los Angeles than Philadelphia.

Of coarse the announcers made sure to cover Hamels backside. Wheels said “Usually it’s the managers who decide if the pitcher is going to go back out there, the player doesn’t usually tell the manager.”

I’m sure there’s some truth to that. But can anyone tell me that Roy Halladay would not have come back out?

Of coarse he would have came out, because that’s the type of pitcher he is.

And time and time again Hamels shows what kind of pitcher he is.



Ruiz Walks Off in Style

The Phillies were on the winning side of a pitching duel Tuesday, when they faced St. Louis. Both starting pitchers went 8.0 innings allowing only 1 run, and sending the game into extra innings. Cole Hamels had arguably his best outing of the season striking out eight,  and setting Philadelphia up for a win in walk off fashion. The lefty threw 116 pitches and brought his ERA to 4.42. Read more



Philles-Mets overreactions – Take 1

There’s nothing like the first installment of the Phillies-Mets rivalry to bring out the most uneducated comments from Philadelphia and New York fans alike.

This rivalry, which will have 17 more meetings after tonight always gets folks talking on sports talk radio. It becomes more like comedy radio, actually.

The schedule makers have been nice enough to give each team a day of on Thursday leaving fans two full days to call in to 610 or 950 in Philly and 660 in New York. Now the smart baseball fan knows that the calendar reads April and that this series holds little meaning in what will take place this summer. At best the Phillies will finish the series with a 2.5 game lead on New York. At worst they will be 3.5 games back. The end result will likely lie somewhere in the middle. But sports talk isn’t rational. However, as I said earlier it is funny, so here are just a few of the things I have heard stated on the AM dials in both Philadelphia and New York. One or two of these statements might actually prove to be true:

- The Phillies will sweep this series and the Mets will be back to fourth place by next week.

- A series win by the Mets will show that they will be in contention deep into the summer.

- Mike Pelfrey (4-0, MLB-leading 0.69 ERA) has emerged to give the Mets the best No. 2 in baseball.

- Mike Pelfrey is garbage and will be rocked on Saturday.

- The Mets announcers are the worst in the game.

- The Phillies announcers put you to bed.

- Philadelphia wants to be New York.

- New York wants to be Philadelphia.

- Cole Hamels is better than Johan Santana.

- The Mets winning streak means nothing because it came during a home stand.

- The Mets winning streak is a sign of things to come as it coincided with the arrival of Ike – Davis and the return of Jose Reyes.

- Ike Davis is a fluke.

- Ike Davis has a swing comparable to Ted Williams (this after 10 games).

- David Wright’s time has come and gone. He is just an average baseball player.

- All of those flyball outs hit by David Wright at home will be 10 rows deep at Citizens Bank Park.

- This series will set the tone for the entire season.

Ah, let the fun begin.



Phillies offense on a tear

The Phillies put an exclamation point on their quick start this season by loading up early and often on the Nationals in their fifth meeting and winning 14-7.

Amid concerns that with the loss of Jimmy Rollins and Jaysen Werth, the team may struggle on offense; the rest of the team turned in another winning performance.   Werth made a late performance as a pinch hitter so it seems obvious his absence from the starting lineup will be brief.   Rollins calf injury may be more serious then was at first thought, which is a shame given his extremely fast start.

If there is ANY early question about the Phillies this year, it would have to be their starting pitching.  Halladay is a lock, and Hamels is 2-0 but has been shaky. Happ looks as good as he did last year and Moyer just keeps throwing up W’s.  But tonight, Kendrick, subbing for the injured Joe Blanton, lasted a mere 1 and 2/3  innings after giving up 6 runs and saw his ERA shoot above 17.   We need Blanton back.  Hey, where was the last Martinez sighting anyway ?

Three middle relievers combined to hold the Nationals to 1 run from the 3rd inning on.

The bottom line, no matter the injury, the focus is on offense.  When one Phillie is out of commission, another simply steps it up a notch and fills the gap.  There are many teams that struggle to score 14 runs at all in a game, and I have the feeling we may see this another dozen or more times this year, when the team gets in sync and everyone has a couple hits and a couple RBI.

Tonight, Victorino broke out of his mild slump with a 4-5 day with a triple, homerun, and 5 RBI’s.  He was listed on ESPN’s MLB top performers of the day board.  Utley went 2-4 with 2 home runs and 4 RBI.  He also appeared on the top performers board.  Polanco maintained his torrid pace going 2-4 to keep his average in the .480′s

Overall the first four in the lineup were a combined 10-18 with 12 RBI.

It seems clear to me now that the team is off to a 7-1 start that they may be substantially better than they were in 2008.  If the pitching solidifies, this offense is lethal.  And every new addition to the sluggers row has stepped up and over performed, as in Ibanez, and Francisco and now Polanco.  With six guys in the lineup that are each capable of a clutch hit, homerun or other run producing play, it is extremely difficult for a pitcher to work his way through this lineup.

Oh, and by the way, our pitchers can hit too !

Looks like it is going to be a long, enjoyable summer ahead with the Phillies setting the pace the whole way !



Phils win home opener, now 6-1.

The Phillies won their home opener 7-4 behind Cole Hamels to run thier National League leading record to 6-1.    They dealt Marquis his second loss of this young season.  Hamels and Halladay are now both 2-0 and the Phillies bats are smoking hot.

Jimmy Rollins was a late scratch due to a calf injury but his replacement, Castro, was 1-4 with a double and an RBI.   Rightfielder Jayson Werth left the game after the fifth inning due to a sore left hip.   Chase Utley ripped a two run homerun with one out in the fifth.

Ibanez and Victorino are the only two starters who have not hit their stride as yet, with the remainder of the starting lineup batting above .290.  The team as a whole continued their torrid hitting. They’re averaging 7.1 runs and 11 hits per game.

The fans showed up in force for the home opener, giving the Phillies their 43rd consecutive sellout at home dating to last season.

Game 2 of the series is tomorrow night, and the Nationals have got to be searching for answers after dropping 3 of their first 4 games against the defending NL champion Phillies.  Even the new pitcher signed for 15 million after an All Star year with Colorado last year was unable to keep the Phillies hitters in check.  Our team now leads all of baseball in hitting.

I limited myself to 2 hotdogs and four beers and had a great time rooting for my Phillies.  For some reason a Mets fan sat behind me and booed every time the Phillies had a good play, but after checking the standings, I refrained from comment, the poor guy already has enough going against him and the Mets season is only going to get worse once they starting playing Philadelphia !

I think I will have to get tickets in my normal spot on April 30th and see if he shows up again to watch the Phillies play the Mets for the first time this year.  Maybe I will buy him a beer.  Who says Philadelphia fans are horrible ?

The extra bad news for my friend in blue; it is likely Halladay will have the start on that Friday night game, in which case, the Mets, who will arrive at Citizens Bank sporting a 6-16 record or so, don’t have the faintest chance !



Strong start for Phitens-home opener today at 3

The Phillies finished thier opening road trip with a 5-1 mark, representing thier best start for a season since 1993 when they started 7-1.  Not only did they win 5 of 6 games but did so by outscoring the opponent 43-18. 

To be fair, the teams they played were not top echelon teams.  The Phillies return for their home opener today at 3pm and face the Nationals for the 4th time already this season.  This time the matchup is Cole Hamels against the Nationals Marquis who gave up 6 runs in 4 innings in his first start against the Phillies down in Washington.

The Phillies started strong, leading the majors in hits, runs, slugging percentage and batting average on their first road trip.  They rank second with a team 2.72 ERA.  They look to continue their success at home. 

Halladay is already paying dividends, going 2-0 with a .56 ERA in his first two starts.  The offense has returned in force with 5 starters currently batting .348 or better.  7 starters have an OBP of .400 or higher.  Polanco, the other off season acquisition is paying equal dividends to Roy Halladay as he is 13-27 with 1 home run and 8 RBI through the first 6 games.   Ryan Howard is leading the team in homeruns (3)  RBI (10) and is batting .357 with only 4 strikeouts.   Jimmy Rollins started the season off looking like the MVP he was several years ago with his batting average pushing .400 and his OBP over .500, exactly what the Phillies need out of their leadoff batter. 

The last time the Phillies started the season this strong, they won the NL East, then won the NLCS against the  Braves, prior to losing to the Blue Jays in the World Series.  More typically of late, this team has started off average and then accelerated through May and June to lead the NL East for the majority of the summer and fall.  This year they actually look to lead the division from start to finish.   Florida briefly held a game advantage but that was swiftly erased when the Phillies went to Houston and swept the Astros last week. 

Even the pitching staff is hitting, with Hamels, Halladay and Moyer all collecting hits on their opening road trip.   When the pitching staff is batting 4-15 you get the feeling this may be the year the Phillies put it all together and set many records en route to another World Series victory. 

The Phillies started the season ranked #3 in the MLB power rankings, behind the NYY and the Red Sox in the AL.   The Yankees are now 4-2 and Boston is at .500 at 3-3 so it is probable the Phillies will move up in the ranking. 

Now I have to sign off, and get moving, so I can get to the park in time for some tailgating before the game starts in 2 1/2 hours.  I was privileged to watch the season opener in DC and am now going to watch the home opener live at Citizens Bank.  I will report on the game once I return home.    If you are my boss, and are reading this, I REALLY am sick, and my doctor prescribed an afternoon of $9 beers and fresh air, so I have to go.  Just don’t ask me for the note, because I think I lost it already ! 

Go Phillies !!!!