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Lemony Snickets: Phillies Double-up Giants to Force Game Six in Philly

Roy Hallady gutted out his first win against the Giants of the season (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It was a pitchers’ matchup on a soggy San Francisco night when two of the most feared pitchers in baseball faced each other. This time it was Roy Halladay who got the breaks as both pitchers ground their way through batter after batter in a constant battle. The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the first inning but fell behind in the third inning on what could be best described as a “Lemony Snickets Series of Unfortunate events that included a flare single, a foul bunt that was ruled fair and an inexplicable by Aubrey Huff error that scored runs. This was added to when Cody Ross got himself thrown out at 3rd base on a fly out to Jayson Werth with only one out which ended the inning and a Giants’ threat.

Cody Ross tagged out by Placido Polanco  (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Roy Halladay was forced deep into the count on almost every batter and struggled through much of the six innings that he pitched but benefitted by the grossly unusual third inning which like so many innings this post season continues to lead me down the evil path of replay with an “eye in the sky umpire” who is part of the Umpire crew and could reverse obviously missed calls.  Not the silly NFL style replay but something that would take under a minute as the “eye in the sky” would have a direct link to the crew chief on the field.  There have been few games this post season without some grossly distorted bad call and Baseball will have to face the music as if it were not for great performances that caused people to forget almost every team in the post season has seen bad calls against them that in some cases influenced how the games played out, as was the case on Thursday on Halladay’s bunt. 

Tim Lincecum pitched well allowing two earned runs on 4 hits striking out 7 and walking only one in 7 innings work but was sabotaged by the bad call on the foul bunt as well as the costly error by Huff and the base running mistake by Cody Ross.

Jayson Werth added a needed insurance run in the top of the 9th to secure the win and the Phillies finally got a solid outing from their bullpen following Halladay’s departure at the end of the 6th inning.

The series now heads back to Philadelphia with the Giants up 3-2 with Jonathan Sanchez facing Roy Oswalt.  This could be interesting because Oswalt pitched his normal practice day on Wednesday and then went into Wednesday’s game in the 9th inning surrendering the winning run as the Giants were able to hit him with impunity.  With the exception of Werth’s home run Phillies hitters were still anemic with Ryan Howard going 0-4 and the team only mustering six hits. 

This series will be good; I predicted the Giants in 7 but think that they will bounce back and take it in six on Saturday night.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Cain is Able: Matt Cain and Giants down Phillies 3-0 Take NLCS Lead

Cain is Able: Matt Cain shuts down Phillies to win NLCS Game Three

Expert after expert picked Phillies ace Cole Hamels to master the San Francisco Giants while giving faint praise to Giants starter Matt Cain in game three of the NLCS at AT&T Park this afternoon. It seems that no matter what the Giants do to win they can get no respect from the baseball media establishment. First it was that they would finish no better than 4th or if they were lucky 3rd in the NL West. Then while some predicted them to defeat the Braves in 4 or 5 games is was almost a derisive pick figuring that even if the Giants got by the Braves that they would be no match for the mighty Phillies. Well that sports fans changed today as the great hope of the established sports media Cole Hamels and the vaunted Phillies lineup fell to the underdog, no name San Francisco Giants in a three hit shutout.

Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross  celebrate in the 4th inning. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The heroes for the Giants were predicable first there was Matt Cain who was given faint praise before the game by every commentator that I listened to. Cain pitched 7 innings giving up just 2 hits and no runs pitching out of a couple of tight jams that might have sent another pitcher scurrying for cover. When Cain was done Javier Lopez and Brian “Fear the Beard” Wilson came in to shut down the Phillies. On the offensive side of the house it was Hamels’ nemesis Cody Ross who with two outs in the bottom of the 4th inning singled to drive in Edgar Renteria. Ross was followed by Aubrey Huff who also had an RBI single to give the Giants a 2-0 lead against a pitcher that the experts said would shut them down. The Giants got another run in the bottom of the 5th inning when Aaron Rowland doubled and then scored from second with two outs on a fielding error by Chase Utley. 

Brain Wilson gets his 4th save of the post season (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

After that it was the Giants pitching, Cain, Lopez and Wilson that shut the Phillies down.  The middle of the Phillies order had 2 hits a single by Ryan Howard and another by Jimmy Rollins. The Giants staff struck out 7 Phillies and walked three with Cain hitting two batters.  Hamels gave up just 5 hits but surrendered runs with 2 outs in the 4th and 5th innings. 

The Giants now have a 2-1 series lead with rookie Madison Bumgarner facing Joe Blanton in game four of the series Wednesday night. Blanton has not pitched since September having been left off the NLDS roster by Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel.  There is talk that Manuel may move Roy Halladay up in the rotation on short rest but as of this moment Blanton is the scheduled starter for the Phillies.  The Giants now have a psychological advantage over the Phillies as they know that they can beat Halladay who has not beaten the Giants this season and has a career worst record against them as opposed to any other team.  If the Giants win tomorrow over Blanton then it will come down to a duel between Halladay and Tim Lincecum who has proven that he can handle the Phillies.  

Matt Cain has to be feeling good as in 14 innings of playoff baseball this year he has yet to allow an earned run.  The Giants have made this series very interesting and I expect them to continue to surprise the Phillies and the baseball media establishment in the days ahead. I predicted this series to go to seven with the Giants taking it but I could be wrong, it might go just 5 or 6 games.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Hamels and Phillies Sweep Reds as Hamels Pitches 5 Hit Shutout

Cole Hamels celebrates his 5 hit shut out of the Reds (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Well it went down like I said. I predicted that the Reds might win one game but thought that the Phillies just might sweep and the Phillies delivered.  Cole Hamels the number three man in a three man playoff rotation for the Phillies dominated the Reds not quite as much as Roy Halladay who pitched the no-hitter against the Reds in game one, but still an absolutely dominating performance. Reds pitchers were also good but were not helped by their defense in the 1st inning when Orlando Cabrera’s errant throw on a routine ground ball pulled first baseman Joey Votto off the bag allowing Placido Polanco to score.

The score would remain 1-0 until the top of the 5th inning when Chase Utley hit a solo home run to center field to make the score 2-0. The play was reviewed by the umpiring crew for possible fan interference but the home run stood as there was no interference. The closet the Reds came to scoring was Brandon Phillips almost hit one in the gap to left center with no outs and a runner on first but was robbed on a brilliant catch by Shane Victorino. They had one more opportunity with 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th Ramon Hernandez doubled and the Reds put Bronson Arroyo into the game as a pinch runner. Arroyo was left stranded when Jay Bruce lined out to right.

Drew Stubbs cannot grab Chase Utley’s 5th Inning home run (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

Hamels remained in the game to get the complete game shutout as the Phillies pitching absolutely dominated the Reds. Phillies starters allowed just 10 hits and just four runs, all of which came in game two against Roy Oswalt. The Phillies hitters were not overpowering getting just 6 earned runs but their defense which had been the best in the National League was abysmal.  They had 7 errors, 6 in games two and three which cost them 7 runs, the difference in the series.  They should have at least gained a victory in game two but blew it defensively.

The series came down to fundamentals in the field and pitching. Both teams had pitching though the Phillies had the better of the two teams but for a team which had a .988 fielding percentage in the regular season to give up 7 errors in three games was unimaginable.  I expected that the Phillies would dominate Reds hitters but I did not see the defensive collapse coming.  The Phillies will now wait to see the victor of the Braves and Giants series which might be as early as this evening.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Ooops…Who Hit the Self-Destruct Switch? Four Errors and 3 Hit Batsmen Doom Reds, Phillies Win 7-4

Jay Bruce misses a fly ball in the 7th inning (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Cincinnati Reds looked like that they had cracked the code on how to beat the Phillies after having been no-hit by Roy Halladay on Wednesday.  Tonight they went up against Roy Oswalt and drove the Phillies veteran out of the game after 5 innings.  Combining solo home runs by Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce as well as some “small ball” took a 4-0 lead and looked like they were going to cruise to victory in game two of their NLDS series against the Phillies. Then someone somewhere flipped the self-destruct switch.

Once that happened in the 5th inning the Phillies got on the board with 2 runs.  In that inning the with 2 outs and Bronson Arroyo in control the Phillies were aided by back to back errors on Brandon Phillips and Scott Rolen to load the bases giving Chase Utley the chance to drive in 2 runs with a two out single.

The pain continued for the Reds in the 6th inning when Jayson Werth walked to lead off the inning and after Jimmy Rollins popped out Arroyo left being relieved by Arthur Rhodes who struck out Raul Ibanez for the second out. Werth stole second then Rhodes hit Carlos Ruiz in the knee to put runners at first and second.  Ben Francisco came in as a pinch hitter and Logan Ondrusek relieved Rhodes. Ondrusek then hit Francisco in the bill of his batting helmet just about an inch from his head in what could have been a tragic play. Instead it loaded the bases to bring up Shane Victorino. Ondrusek then walked Victorino to make the score 4-3.

Jayson Werth Scores (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

Things got worse for the Reds in the 7th inning. They brought out rookie fireball pitcher Aroldis Chapman to face Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Chapman hit Utley in the forearm with a 101 mile an hour fastball to put the lead runner aboard. Chapman sent Howard down on strikes.  This brought Jayson Werth to the plate; he hit a ground ball that Utley beat out at second to put two aboard. Jimmy Rollins came to the plate and hit a line drive to right field that Jay Bruce who committed an error simply missing the ball to score Utley while Werth scored when Brandon Phillips dropped the relay with Rollins taking . Raul Ibanez singled Rollins to third and Carlos Ruiz hit into a fielder’s choice to score Rollins. Chapman then gave up a single to Mike Sweeney before being relieved by Nick Masset who got Shane Victorino to ground out leaving the Reds behind by a 6-4 score.

The Phillies got an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th when with 1 out Chase Utley singled and stole second. Masset intentionally walked Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth singled to score Utley before Masset retired the side.

The Phillies brought in closer Brad Lidge and after walking the leadoff batter sent the next three batters down in order to secure the victory and get the save. Phillies reliever Jose Contreras got the win while rookie Aroldis Chapman got the loss.

The Reds meltdown which included 4 errors which led to 5 unearned runs and 3 hit batters who all scored.

The Phillies now go to the Great American Ballpark where on Sunday Cole Hamels (12-11 3.06 ERA) will try to get the sweep against Johnny Cueto (12-7 3.64 ERA).  The last time Hamels faced the Reds he won the game giving up 6 hits and allowing no runs in 7.2 innings work. Things do not look promising for the Big Red Machine.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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Tim Lincecum Fans 14, Two Hits Braves Giants Win Opener 1-0

The Freak: Tim Lincecum fans 14 Braves in 2 hit shutout (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Tim Lincecum recovered from the worst month of his career in August but was lights out in September something that he continued on Thursday night in game one of the Giants-Braves NLDS series. The two-time Cy Young winner made his playoff debut at AT&T Park and shut down Bobby Cox’s Atlanta Braves in a big way.  Braves batters were doing the Tomahawk Chop all night into empty air against Lincecum who threw at pitch after pitch resulting in strikeout after strikeout, 14 K’s to be exact. This was the most thrown by a pitcher in his playoff debut and third in playoff history, only Bob Gibson with 17 and Roger Clemons with 15 have more.

Lincecum was dominating; he allowed a gap double to Omar Infante to lead off the first inning and a gap double to Brian McCann in the 7th.  He gave up just one walk as he sent down batter after batter. The Giants scored one run and it proved to be enough.  The run came after Giants catcher Buster Posey singled and stole 2nd. That call however was blown, replay showed Posey to be out but the umpire did not have the best angle to make the call and Brooks Conrad’s tag was up around Posey’s chest making it probably more difficult for the umpire than the camera. The Braves did not argue the call so the questions about it did not come until the break between innings.  Manager Bobby Cox did not have a good view and after the game said that since he saw no reaction from his infielder assumed that Posey was safe.

Buster Posey scores the winning run in the Giants 1-0 victory over the Braves (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Even so the base would have been meaningless had Infante not missed a ground ball that most Third Baseman would have handled. That grounder became a RBI single for Cody Ross.  It was not called an error but was a play that could have been made, instead it was the game.

Atlanta Starter Derek Lowe performed well but came up short getting the loss pitching 5.1 innings allowing 4 hits, striking out 6 and walking 4 in the outing.

On the positive side for the Brave Bobby Cox did not add to his MLB record of games that he has been tossed from. Had gone and gotten himself thrown out we would have seen three managers tossed in the playoffs.

The game was quintessential Giants’ baseball as once again a starting pitcher shut down an opposing team while the offense provided just enough juice to get the win.  Tomorrow Matt Cain goes up against Tommy Hansen in game two.  Somehow I think that the Giants win Friday to take a 2-0 series lead into Atlanta.

The first two days of the NLCS and ALCS have seen more games in which a team was held to two hits or less, Lincecum allowed two, Halladay had his no-hitter and Cliff Lee had a one-hitter.  Bottom line: 27 innings, 3 pitchers, 3 hits and no runs. That sports fans is impressive. This really is the year of the pitcher.

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Roy Halladay No-Hits the Cincinnati Hitting Machine

Roy Halladay- Scary Good…just look at the face (NY Daily News)

“The only thing that matters is what happens on the little hump out in the middle of the field.” Earl Weaver

Roy Halladay continues to do what the Philadelphia Phillies acquired him to do. Halladay who went 21-10 with a 2.44 ERA striking out 219 and only walking 30 in 250.2 innings of work has been the man in an outstanding starting rotation. Halladay is what I would call scary good and is one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. On Wednesday evening he did what no one has done in 54 years; pitch a no-hitter in the playoff. The last time this happened was when journeyman pitcher Don Larsen threw a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 8, 1956.

Halladay faced the Cincinnati Reds a team that hit led the NL in average (.272), runs (790), hits (1515), home runs (188), slugging percentage (.436) and second in on base percentage (.338).  The Reds offense has been explosive but a lot of their success has been against their divisional opponents, although they were dominated by their rival the St. Louis Cardinals and they had a losing record against every other playoff team in the league.

Halladay shut the Reds down in a big way only walking one batter while pitching 104 pitches striking out 8 on the way to the victory.  His fastball dominated the Reds with good movement and velocity the entire game averaging 92 miles an hour with 79 of his 104 pitches being strikes.

This is nothing new as in his last 10 appearances Halladay went 8-2 pitching 75 innings giving up 25 runs during that run only walking 8 batters and striking out 61. If by some chance the Reds get by Oswalt and Hamels they have to face Halladay yet again.  Things do not look good for the Big Red Machine.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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Padre Steve’s 2010 ALDS and NLDS Predictions

Note: Sorry for the delay in this post, most was already written but I spend the majority of the day on the road to West Virginia where we are taking some time to relax in between my assignments. I look forward to getting some rest and recreation, some good PT, a bunch of writing and take in a Marshall University football game while here.


It’s that time of the year again sports fans. After picking the Division and Wild Card winners it is time to get down and dirty as Padre Steve makes his picks to win the divisional races.  Last year I I did pretty well. During the playoffs and World Series I only missed one series picking the Angels to beat the Yankees in the ALDS based on their seasonal record in head to head games, especially those in Anaheim. That was the only wrong series pick that I made and when it came to the World Series I only made one mistake picking the Yankees to win game one versus game two.  When it came down the last game it was as if I had inside information, if you don’t believe me take a look at those posts, but I digress.

As I said last year I always try to be dispassionate about my picks even if I am for a particular team. This year I am praying that the Giants go all the way but this will not influence how I predict the series that they play in.  So here are my picks to get to the ALCS and NLCS from the division series.

In the American League:  Minnesota (94-68) versus New York (95-67). The Yankees will take the Twins in 4 games. The Twins have been the best team in the American league during the back half of the season and the Yankees have done well but have not been spectacular during the stretch. The Yankees are starting to show their age but the Twins have not been able to beat the Yankees with a stick. They are 2 and 14 against the bombers in the past two years and the Yankees have dominated the Twinkies in the playoffs in a very ugly manner.  I think that the Twins win one game but that the Yankees take them in four, though I cannot rule out a sweep.

Texas (90-72) versus Tampa (96-66):  The Rangers will take this in four. The Rays have the best record in the American League but were 28-28 from August 2nd until the end of the season. The Rangers were marginally better but play in a weak division whereas the Rays won the toughest division in baseball where ever the last place team had the best record in the division in the same time span. However, it comes down to Cliff Lee and hitting. The Rays starting pitching is marginally better in their ERA but their ERA was much lower post All-Star break than before and they are hitting only .236 since the All-Star break. Contrast this with the Rangers who are hitting .274 since the break and 3.89 ERA.  Cliff Lee ate up the Rays today and the free swinging Rangers are tailor made to win in the Trop.  If the Rangers take game two in Tampa the Rays are toast when they go to Arlington.

The National League: Philadelphia (97-65) versus Cincinnati (91-71). The Phillies have the best starting pitching in baseball and have been phenomenal since the beginning of August, the best record in the Majors. The Reds are a hitting machine leading the league in average (.272), runs (790), hits (1515) and home runs (188) but have a history of being dominated by the trio of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.  Today Halliday pitched a no-hitter against the Reds and I expect that Oswalt and Hamels will also dominate. Bottom line the Phillies have the chance to get a sweep. I think that the Reds may win one at home but that the Phillies pitching will dominate and that their hitting will be more than adequate to deal with the rather pedestrian Reds pitching staff.  The most interesting thing will be seeing flamethrower Aroldis Chapman face Ryan Howard and the Phillies in the late innings.

Finally we come down to San Francisco (92-70) and Atlanta (91-71).  The Braves go into this banged up without Chipper Jones or and without much in the way of hitting but want to win for their legendary Manager Bobby Cox.  Their leading RBI producer is Brian McCann who has 77 for the entire year, 32nd in the NL.  The teams are evenly matched in hitting but the Giants have the best ERA in the NL and were even better in the second half of the season.  Pitching matchups favor the Giants and with the first two games at home they have the edge. Their pitching staff also has the best road ERA in the NL.  The Giants have continued to improve during the second half of the season adding key players and the Braves as I said are pretty dinged up.  Add to this the fact that in September and October the Giants were 19-10 while the Braves limped across the line with a 14-16 record for the same period. This is a harder series to call because of how evenly matched the teams are but I pick the Giants in four based on roster strength and how they are trending though the Braves might take it to five before falling to the Giants.

Of course I could miss the whole thing, but I try to take the emotion out and look at the stats and in most occasions the stats tell the truth.  I don’t think that I am missing anything and the ALCS should be the Yankees against the Rangers and the NLCS the Phillies against the Giants.  I will analyze those series when these are complete and factor in any roster moves and injuries incurred during the divisional series as well as how the teams are trending.

Peace

Padre Steve+

 

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