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
Rainy, 66
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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


Gameday: Phillies (94-63) at Nationals (67-90)

Philadelphia Phillies (94-63) at Washington Nationals (67-90)

NationalsRoy Oswalt (13-13, 2.80 ERA) vs. Jason Marquis (2-9, 7.18)

Time: 7:05, Nationals Stadium
Cloudy, 68
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They call it “The Hangover.” Not the movie, the lineup. No Zach Galifinakis making funnies, but a lineup short the normal starters. Utley and Howard are still in there, with nothing really to play for. It’s obvious Charlie Manuel wants to keep his guys fresh.

Plaicdo Polanco is out, and you may not see him for the rest of the season as he’ll rest that bum elbow. So the good news is he’ll get more than a week to heal. Shane Victorino, Carlos Ruiz, and Jayson Werth are the other regulars to get a blow tonight.

It’s also official: The Phillies will begin their playoff schedule on Wednesday, October 6 at Citizens Bank Park. Going with that start date (the Phils had the choice between Wednesday the 6th or Thursday the 7th), they’ll be assured normal rest for Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt until Game 4 of the NLCS (not getting too far ahead of ourselves). That means Joe Blanton is your long man in the pen and we’ll get to see plenty of the Big 3. Nothing wrong with that.

Tonight is a fine opportunity to take a look at the bench the Phillies will have in the postseason. Greg Dobbs, Dom Brown, Brian Schneider, and Ben Francisco will all get some hacks as they get prepared for the playoff run. More importantly, Jimmy Rollins is back in the order. He’ll get some at bats before the regular season ends. He hasn’t started a game since September 8.

Today’s lineup: Rollins SS, Ibanez LF, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Francisco CF, Brown RF, Dobbs 3B, Schneider C, Oswalt P

Nugget NectarYour Gameday Beer – Rouge Dead Guy Ale
It was named one of the five best beers in America by Food and Wine Magazine. This is a darker, more intense style of ale (technically, it’s a German style called a Maibock). It’s a bit higher in alcohol — 6.5 percent — with a toasty, malty character and real texture to it. This is my go-to for big, spicy foods: sausages on the grill, barbecued ribs, that kind of thing. -Pat Gallen


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
Chance of rain, 66
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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


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
Cloudy, 68
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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!


Gameday: Mets (74-79) at Phillies (93-61)

New York Mets (74-79) at Philadelphia Phillies (93-61)

Atlanta BravesDillon Gee, RHP (1-1, 1.80 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick, RHP (10-9, 4.78 ERA)

Time: 7:05, Citizens Bank Park
Clear, 80
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It doesn’t seem that long ago when beat writers and reporters were using words like ‘must-win’ and ‘crucial’ when describing upcoming Phillies games.  Now while the crown is still up for grabs, the Phillies are on fire.  Their magic number to clinch the NL East is two and they are showing no signs of slowing down.

It was hard to even think the Phillies would have a magic number back in July when they were seven games back behind the Atlanta Braves in the division.  However, the Phillies have completed flipped those numbers going 45-15 since July 22 and have built a 6.5 game lead heading into the last week of the season.

The Phillies can come one game closer to clinching by knocking off the Mets in the second game of this three game series tonight.  They will be looking to Kyle Kendrick (10-9, 4.78) to get the job done.  Kendrick could be making his last start of the season, depending how Charlie Manuel sets up his rotation for a likely playoff berth.

Kendrick has been your typical 5th starter all year long.  Inconsistency has troubled the young right hander in his last couple of outings.  He only has three wins in his last seven starts going an average of 5+ innings and giving up a little over three runs a game.  The offense will once again be asked to pick up the slack.  Something they have had no problem doing over this current 11 game winning streak.

Shane Victorino is hitting .385 against the Mets in 13 games collecting 12 hits and three homeruns.  However, those stats won’t mean anything going into tonight.  The Phillies will be facing Mets’ rookie pitcher Dillon Gee (1-1. 1.80).  Gee is making just his fourth start of his career and faces probably his toughest opponent yet.

The Phillies have the best record in all of baseball and have won 20 of their last 23 games.  They are streaking to a fourth consecutive NL East title and looking to represent the National League in the World Series for a third straight year.

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

Your gameday beer: Yards Love Stout
Victory LagerAnything from Yards is a friend of mine. They just make damn good beers. My favorite is Yards ESA, but this Love Stout is intriguing. Right now, it’s cask conditioned at Grey Lodge Pub in Northeast Philadelphia, another enticing factor. Since I’v never tried the Love Stout, I can’t say first hand how it looks or tastes. But by all accounts, it’s a very dark beer with a dark head that has a chocolate and coffee aroma. For you java lovers, this could be gold. If your in Philly, get down to the Grey Lodge and order a burger med-well with one of these and enjoy the game. -Pat Gallen


Halladay Loses Rematch

In what was a rematch of his perfect game, Roy Halladay came out on the losing end Thursday, but mostly due to no offensive support. Philadelphia fell 2-0 against Josh Johnson and the Florida Marlins for their third loss in four games. The Phillies seemed to break out of their recent offensive slump, defeating the Marlins 10-8 Tuesday, but the team was only able to record four hits against Johnson last night.

Despite the loss, Halladay looked sharp. The ace set his team up nicely, allowing only one run in 8.0 innings, and striking out eight. Florida scored on a sacrifice fly from Jorge Cantu to take a 1- lead in the top of the 1st, but Halladay would shut them down over the next seven innings hoping that Philadelphia could break through offensively.

Ryan Howard tried to get something going with a double in the bottom of the 1st, but no one was able to drive him home. Another double from Shane Victorino in the 3rd was for not, sending Philadelphia into the 9th down 1-0.

In Halladay’s relief, Danys Baez allowed a homerun to Dan Ugla, putting Florida up 2-0. Another double would come from Placido Polanco, but his last ditch effort in the bottom of the 9th was not enough to get the Phillies on the board, giving the Marlins and Johnson a shuthout.

Up next, Philadelphia will travel to Boston when they take on the Redsox. Jamie Moyer and John Lackey will go head to head at 7:10 PM.

Phillies Look to the Future

While the Philadelphia Phillies are struggling on the field, they are making some off the field decisions that they hope will help build their future team. On day 1, with the 27th pick of the draft, Philadelphia selected left-handed pitcher Jesse Biddle from Germantown Friends High School.

The local prospect is one of two pitchers chosen by the Phillies. With their second round pick, Philadelphia looked to Ball State’s right hander Perci Garner. The 6-3 hurler has proven to be quite athletic, as he was a back up on the school’s football team in 2007 and 2008.

To follow their two pitchers, the Phillies gave Texas catcher Cameron Rupp the nod. Rupp comes from a strong MLB background, as both his father and grandfather played professional baseball.

Of course the path from the draft into a major league game is certainly a long one, but hopefully one of the weeks selections will work out to help the team in the coming years.

Philly Offense Wins Battle of Pennsylvania

Kyle Kendrick took the mound Monday in Philadelphia’s match up with the Pittsburgh Pirates, looking for his second win of the season. The right hander went 8.0 innings (105 pitches) allowing only two runs, striking out four, and leading the Phillies to a 12-2 victory. The win moved Philadelphia to 24-13 on the season. Read more

Halladay’s Efforts Fall Short

In the first game of a double header Wednesday, Roy Halladay returned home to face his old team in Colorado. The Philadelphia ace went 6.1 innings allowing only two earned runs, but his efforts were for not as the Phillies fell 4-3. Read more

Mets Take Game 1

309 pitches and 2 hours and 54 minutes later, the first of 18 meetings this season is out of the way. The top of the NL East went head to head Friday when the Mets traveled to Citizens Bank Park for a weekend series.  The game featured a great deal of offense, but unfortunately, it was not on by the Phillies. New York knocked out four home run, and was able to score 9 runs on 10 hits, for a 9-1 victory. Read more

Clash of the NL Best

Tonight, the Philadelphia Phillies will stay on the west coast, traveling up to the Bay Area to take on the San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately, we will not see Halladay and Lincecum square off, but the match up is still intriguing. Halladay, who is tied for first in the league with wins (4), second in strikeouts (28) and third in ERA (0.82), will take on San Francisco’s Jonathan Sanchez. Halladay and the Giants’ left-hander, who is 1-1 on the season and has an ERA of 1.86, will both be looking to avenge their team’s Sunday night loss. Read more

Trading Ryan Howard for Albert Pujols

The very nature of the idea is straight out of a video game. Trading one superstar for another? It just doesn’t happen in professional sports.

Yet according to sources the Phillies have kicked around the idea of looking into a deal with St. Louis that would send Ryan Howard to the Cardinals for Albert Pujols in what would be the biggest trade in baseball history. The report, which can be read on includes a denial by Phillies’ GM Ruben Amaro who said, “That’s a lie. I don’t know who you’re talking to, but that’s a lie.”

To be clear, this deal would never happen. You could line up all the reasons why it would be feasible — including Pujols’ impending free agency next year and St. Louis being Howard’s hometown — but you would be wasting your time.

These things just don’t happen. But it is fun to talk about.

So would you make the move?

They both are the same age, Howard a couple months older, play the same position and are on the fast track to the Hall of Fame. While Howard has emerged as the greatest power hitter in the game, Pujols is widely regarded as the best player in baseball. Both players have are loved by their hometown fans and neither has been linked to performance enhancing drugs.

There is no right answer with this one as you couldn’t go wrong with either player.

But who would you rather have?

Hamels shows old form on mound

I believe it is foolish to get wrapped up in Spring Training statistics, particularly when they come from players who have already secured roster spots.

When a player goes through an 0-for 10 stretch at the plate, it’s not something that gets me worked up, and likewise if a young player goes through a 7-for-10 stretch I don’t jump to the conclusion that the Phillies have the next great thing on their hands.

But once in awhile I see something in Spring Training that holds my attention. Today Cole Hamels did exactly that.

The notion that the Phillies chances of winning  a second World Series in three years hinges on Hamels being the pitcher of 2008 and not the sub-.500 one of 2009 has been exhausted to death. so I am not going to go into it. Phillies fans know Hamels has to pitch better and become a strong No. 2 behind Roy Halladay. What they want is to see it.

Today we got a taste.

Hamels retired the first nine batters he faced and struck out four in a 3 2/3 innings appearance in the Phillies 4-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. It wasn’t all good news for the young left-hander, as he did give up a solo home run and walked a pair, but the fact that he was able to find a groove is a good sign for the team. Hamels is experimenting with a couple pitches so he could be excused for some troubles, but they have yet to show themselves this Spring.

It was only 3.2 innings and it’s only Spring Training, but Hamels took a step forward in what will be a long quest to prove that an ugly 2009 is behind him.

It should be noted that while Hamels was showing he was ready to be a top of the rotation pitcher, former Phillies prized prospect Kyle Drabek was giving the Blue Jays a taste of why they traded Halladay. Drabek started the game and pitched two scoreless innings, allowing just a hit and a walk. Not much was hit hard against Drabek as five of the six outs came on ground balls.

Like with Hamels, it is much to soon to predict what this season will hold for Drabek.

But for today, the results were very positive.

Wright thinks Mets will win NL East

I guess this counts as “We’re the team to beat” Part 4.

Like the Phillies, the Mets opened Spring Training action yesterday and it didn’t take the team long to show off it’s confidence for the upcoming season. Despite a 72-90 year, David Wright believes the Mets are World Series contenders.

The following is an excerpt from a NY Post report:

“We’re expecting to go out there and win the National League East and go deep in the playoffs and win the World Series,” Wright said, a day before Mets pitchers and catchers were required to report to spring training. “That is the expectation I’ve gotten from the guys who are here early, and I [expect] this team is to get back to where we are winning the National League East.”

You can read the entire article here.

OK, it’s not exactly the type of verbal jab that Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Beltran have made in the past, but for now it’s going to have to be good enough.

Something was missing last year with the Mets out of the race. Part of what made the two previous NL East titles so great was the way it came down to the last week against a big time rival.

On paper the Phillies should be at least eight to 10 games better than the Mets this season, so the New York-Philadelphia rivalry may be put on hold for another year. Then again, the Mets still have a solid core and a counterpart to Roy Halladay in Johan Santana, so maybe things will tighten up again.

David Wright sure thinks so.

Even though Wrights comments were mild and meant as support for his teammates, the media is sure to run with this story, so expect some type of rebuttal from Rollins and company.

If nothing else, it should give the rivalry a nice kick in the butt after a year off.

Phillies pitchers and catchers report

Roy Halladay is there.So is Cole Hamels.

J.A. Happ? Check

Brad Lidge? Check.

The pitchers and catchers have arrived at Clearwater, Fla., one day earlier than tomorrow’s mandatory date.

According to every pitcher has reported except for Jamie Moyer and Jose Contreras. (There’s an old persons joke just begging to be inserted with that).

So good news baseball fans; despite the snow that appeared outside our windows today, baseball is ready to get going again.

The only real news of the day is that J.C Romero said he expects to break camp with the team, implying that he will be completely recovered from his elbow surgery and ready to pitch at full strength by Opening Day.

That’s good news for the Phillies, as Romero is the only lefthander in the bullpen that has succeeded at the Major League level.

News will be pouring in over the next few weeks about every player and the Phillies roster. Hope springs eternal for every team this time of year.

For the Phils that hope is real.

It may be snowing outside, but baseball is back.