What went wrong for the Phillies

Posted by mattsmith on 6th November 2009

It has been  24 hours since the Phillies relinquished their World Series championship to the New York Yankees. Hell, the Yanks were the better team. ROUGH SERIES: Ryan Howard strikes out in the eighth inning of the Yankees' 7-3 World-Series clinching victory in Game 6 last night in The Bronx.

But… they weren’t a FAR superior team.

In fact, you could argue the Phillies could have repeat had Brad Lidge not blown up in the ninth inning of Game 4. If Lidge gets out of the inning unscathed, and the Phillies scratch out a game-winning, the Series is tied.

Oh well. No sense in playing the coulda/shoulda/woulda game.

So, what went wrong? Hmm, I can think of three things…

Ryan Howard was terrible

The Big Piece was having a tremendous postseason. He had won the NLCS MVP and came into the World Series with 14 RBIs in the playoffs.

After winning the NLCS in five games, the Phillies had a week layoff and that, I feel, was detrimental to Howard’s groove.  Granted, the Yankees’ left-handed pitchers kept the slugger in check, but when a guy is that hot coming into a series and all of the sudden goes soft, it begs the question about too much rest.

Howard is a streaky hitter. He’ll carry the team for a month or two straight. He was doing that in the playoffs until the lengthy time off.

Howard batted .174 with one homer, three RBIs and a World Series-record 13 strikeouts. That’s not the kind of performance I expected. His MIA status was huge.

Pitching: The Yankees were better

Duh, right?

Lidge was awful, as we know. So, too, was Cole Hamels.

The only reliable pitcher was Cliff Lee. Matter of fact, it was that way for the entire playoffs. Whereas the Yankees had three guys they could count on in Andy Pettitte, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett… the Phillies’ starting pitching was a big question mark.

Last year, the Phillies had an untouchable bullpen. This year? Argggh.

The year-long instability caught up to the Phillies at the very last moment.

Clutch hitting was nonexistent

The Phillies got back to the World Series behind the strength of clutch hitting. Jimmy Rollins, Howard, Jayson Werth, Carlos Ruiz … those guys all came through in the NLDS and NLCS.

Really, the only guy that was consistent in the World Series was Chase Utley… and even he stranded a lot of guys on base when he wasn’t smashing home runs.

Well, those are just a few reasons why the Phillies aren’t preparing for their second straight parade down Broad St.

As my former middle school baseball coach once told me, “When you don’t play as good as your opponent, you will not be as good as your opponent.”


Tags: Andy Pettitte, Brad Lidge, Carlos Ruiz, CC Sabathia A.J. Burnett, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Ryan Howard, World Series
Posted in Phillies Playoffs 2009, Phillies commentary | No Comments »


Posted by phillies09 on 2nd November 2009

World Series Game 5

Phillies vs. Yankees

7:57 PM at Citizens Bank Park

In order to express the importance of tonight’s game, I turn to the most prominent Philadelphia sports athlete of all time; Hugh Douglas.

“It’s do or die. It’s do or die baby. It’s do or die. DO OR DIE. do or die!” Ok so maybe that’s not the exact quote, and maybe he’s not even close to prominent, but you get the picture. This is it for the Phillies, one last shot behind Cliff Lee to show any sign of life, or become the 27th team to fall victim to the Yankees towering payroll.

So this will be the second time the Yankees see Clifton Phifier Lee (Seriously, what were his parents thinking?). The same with the Phillies on Burnett. Both pitchers led their teams to wins in their last starts, but one will fall short tonight.

The Phillies better hope Burnett throws beach balls and they can establish a good, ehh I don’t know…20 run lead, before handing the ball over to their bullpen. Actually, I’d probably be biting my nails with any lead when Lidge comes in.

Is there really anymore to say? I can’t really get excited facing elimination. I’m disappointed in this team and the way that they have played through out the whole series. Ibanez and Howard are atrocious. And last night when Rollins and Victorino lead off and get on base in whatever inning and Utley, Howard, and Werth not only can’t knock them in, but can’t even advance them on an out. It’s like watching the Mets play their heartless baseball.

Here’s to sending this back to New York…I wouldn’t mind a couple more games eh?

Tags: A.J. Burnett, Brad Lidge, Chase Utley, Hugh Douglas, Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, New York Yankees, Pedro Feliz, Philadelphia Eagles, Philadelphia Phillies, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, World Series
Posted in Phillies Playoffs 2009 | 1 Comment »

World Series Game 3: Yankees 8, Phillies 5

Posted by mattsmith on 1st November 2009

The Dud

I cant wait for (the season) to be over.

"I can't wait for (the season) to end."

There’s a quote from Cole Hamels following his disasterous outing against the Yankees in Game 3 Saturday night. Hamels was questioned about his terrible 2009 season and responded with that little gem.

Cole Hamels is done.  So, he can call it a season right now, empty out his locker and go home to his mansion in West Chester, Pa. It’s that type of attitude that has turned Hamels from legend to goat in the matter of 12 months. It’s sad, really.

Hamels had a 3-0 lead to work with and was stellar through three innings. Like a rogue wave, Hamels’ downfall was unseen, but in the pit of my stomach, I anticipated he would struggle at some point.

He was removed after 4 1/3 innings. He allowed five earned runs.

The Story

It was the starting pitching.

Whereas Hamels faltered after a strong start, Andy Pettitte bounced back from a shaky start and pitched six quality innings. The Phillies had a chance to break the game open in the second inning when they loaded the bases with one out. They managed three runs, but it could’ve been much more.

Jayson Werth hit two solo homers and Carlos Ruiz smashed a meaningless one in the ninth. Other than those two, the Phillies’ offense was silenced after the third inning.

Good bullpen pitching by New York. Mariano Rivera earned a two-out save.

All in all, the Phillies simply aren’t hitting. Ryan Howard is in a major funk (nine Ks in three games). I actually think the long layoff shattered the groove he was in. Jimmy Rollins, save a single to lead off the game, didn’t do much. Same for Shane Victorino, who had a dreadful at-bat against Pettitte in the second inning with the bases juiced. Hmm… Chase Utley has gone back to being a non-factor. And Pedro Feliz is Pedro Feliz.

Ruiz continues to rake and Werth essentially carried the offense.  That’s about it in terms of positives in the lineup right now.

The Turning Point

A-Rod’s two-run homer was reviewed by the umpires, who declared the ball would have travled over the right-field wall had it not hit a television camera.

No excuses.

A-Rod’s shot sparked the Yanks. Soon after, Hamels folded. The collapse came when he threw a get-me-over CURVEBALL to Pettitte, who swung and made contact for a hit to center field, which drove in the tying run. Johnny Damon then smoked a two-run double off Hamels.

The Next Game

This is what I feared the most. Charlie Manuel decided Friday that Joe Blanton will pitch Game 4 against CC Sabathia. Basically, as a Phillies fan, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope that Blanton gives you six-plus innings and doesn’t allow no more than three runs.

I have a feeling the Phillies will come out with an aggressive approach against Sabathia. This sounds lame, but I think Sabathia can get rattled if he lets the crowd get into his head. I thought he struggled with that “distraction” in last year’s NLDS. There’s also a possibility Sabathia struggles because he’s pitching on three days rest.

Speaking of the crowd, the fans were lame. Once the Phillies scored  those three runs, I think the feeling amongst the fans was that the game was in the bag.

When the Phillies got down, the crowd went silent for good… pretty much. We need a better effort in Game 4.

And like a New York City STD,  The Bank spread with “Let’s Go Yankees!” and “Hip-hip, Jorge!” chants from about the sixth inning on.

Tags: Alex Rodriguez, Andy Pettitte, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Cole Hamels, Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada, New York Yankees, Pedro Feliz, Philadelphia Phillies, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, World Series
Posted in Phillies Playoffs 2009 | 2 Comments »

World Series Game 2: Yankees 3, Phillies 1

Posted by mattsmith on 30th October 2009

The Dud

Ryan Howard struck out four times

Ryan Howard struck out four times

By no means am I putting the entire blame on Howard’s shoulders. The Phillies, as a team,  did not hit. It’s becoming clear that Howard will not get good pitches to hit. Frankly, he got nothing to hit in Game 2.

The Story

Pedro Martinez pitched very well. A.J. Burnett was better.

I’ll admit that I thought the Phillies had a great chance to hammer Burnett, who is the kind of pitcher the Phillies feast on. His entire make up reminds me of Vicente Padilla. He has excellent stuff, but he can get rattled, too, if you’re fortunate enough to jump on him early. Unfortunately, the Phillies really didn’t have a shot against him. He pitched a hell of a game.

Martinez made two crucial mistakes. Mark Teixeira sent a bomb over the center field wall to tie the game at 1-1. In the sixth inning, Hideki Matsui hit a ball that would have been an easy fly ball in any other park — including Citizens Bank Park. It was a great piece of hitting by Matsui and a poor pitch by Martinez, who threw the ball down and in to a left-handed hitter. Not where you want it there, Pedro.

Mariano Rivera got a six-out save. Chase Utley grounded into a twin-killing to end the eighth inning. Yes, he was safe at first base, but you can’t blame the umpire there. It was a bang-bang call.

While Rivera did his job (what else is new?), I think the fact that every batter got at least one AB against him will help the Phillies as the series moves forward.

The Turning Point

Jayson Werth led off the top of the seventh inning with a single. The Phillies trailed, 2-1.

Werth was dancing too far off the bag at first and was thrown out by Jose Molina. That killed whatever momentum the Phillies were trying to gain.

The Next Game

Cole Hamels needs to deliver in Game 3 at CBP on Saturday night. He’ll face a battle tested Andy Pettite, who pitched pretty well against the Phillies at Yankee Stadium in June.

Obviously, it would have been great to take a 2-0 lead into Philly, but a split is nice, too. The Phillies have been dominant at home in the postseason the last two years, losing only one game. By the way, the Phillies are 0-4 in their last four playoff Game 2s, for whatever that’s worth. Actually, it means they are a team that bounces back pretty nicely.

Game 3 is kind of like a second Game 1. It won’t make or break the series for either team.

Tags: A.J. Burnett, Hideki Matsui, Jayson Werth, Mariano Rivera, Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees, Pedro Martinez, Philadelphia Phillies, Ryan Howard, World Series
Posted in Phillies Playoffs 2009 | No Comments »

Breaking down the positions

Posted by mattsmith on 28th October 2009

Ryan Howard OVER Mark Teixeira

I understand Tex has the huge contract and he’s probably the best defensive first baseman in all the land. Oh, and he can murder the baseball…

Still, I’d take Ryan’s bat over his. Howard has proven time and again that he is a lethal force that can’t be messed with. He’s a superstar.

Chase Utley OVER Robinson Cano

OK, so maybe Chase hasn’t been the same player since, well, May 2008. That’s cool. I think he’s playing with an injury again, but we won’t know for sure until after the postseason.

I love what Cano brings and he has a bright future. But, by and large, Utley has been the best second baseman in the league since 2007. I know he’s struggle,d but he’s a gamer. Gotta love his attitude.

Jimmy Rollins OVER Derek Jeter

yeah, I know Jeter is the son of Jesus Christ and all, but I’ll take J-Roll any day. Sounds crazy considering he’s nowhere near as consistent with the bat as Jeter, but Jimmy has a flare for the dramatic. He comes through when you need him to. He’ll aggravate you, but he always makes up for it. Not to mention, he’s the best defensive shortstop in baseball. Period.

A-Rod OVER Pedro Feliz

Uhh, yeah, this is a no-brainer. I like A-Rod as a player. He’s a fraud in some ways, you know, because of that steriod thing… but he’s still one of the best of the game regardless

LF Raul Ibanez OVER Johnny Damon

They’re both old, but Ibanez has more potential… if that makes sense.

Shane Victorino OVER Melky Cabrera

Victorino is the best center fielder in the NL, in my opinion. Love him or hate him, he’s a stud. Melky reminds me of a Marlon Byrd type, but I may be wrong

Jayson Werth OVER Nick Swisher

Not even a debate. I would like to punch Swisher in his nose. He just has that look to him…

Carlos Ruiz OVER Jorge Posada

Ruiz has established himself as one of the best all-around catchers in the game. I respect Posada, but at this point in his career, I think he’s a step or two behind his prime.

Tags: Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Ruiz, Chase Utley, Derek Jeter, Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada, Mark Teixeira, Melky Cabrera, New York Yankees, Nick Swisher, Pedro Feliz, Philadelphia Phillies, Raul Ibanez, Robinson Cano, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, World Series
Posted in Phillies Playoffs 2009 | 32 Comments »

NLCS Game 5: Phillies 10, Dodgers 4

Posted by mattsmith on 22nd October 2009

The Stud

Right fielder Jayson Werth's three-run homer in the first inning, the first of two shots he hit Wednesday night, started the Phillies on their way to a Game 5 victory against the Dodgers.

J-Werth's three-run homer off the drunk flotilla set the tone.

Jayson Werth had a stellar at-bat with two outs in the first inning with runners on first and second. You figured that mental midget Vicente Padilla would cave eventually.  Werth made him pay for being so erratic.

The Story

The Phillies pounded the Dodgers into submission and dominated in all facets. Yes, that includes relief pitching, national know-it-alls who predicted the Dodgers to win in five games. Suck a big one.

Cole Hamels’ season-long period continued. Don’t get me started on him. Today’s a happy day.

Ryan Howard, while he didn’t have a hit in Game 5, won NLCS MVP honors.

The Turning Point

Werth’s homer was pretty huge, but go back to the eighth inning and the Phillies up, 9-3. Chan Ho Park allowed back-to-back singles to start the frame. Ryan Madson walked a guy and allowed a bases loaded single that plated a run.

9-4. Nobody out. Bases Mannyjuiced.

Madson buckled down and got three gigantic outs. That definitely shut the door on the overrrated Dodgers.

The Next Game

Off to the World Series to face… we’ll see.

Let’s get one for the middle finger! Hah!

Tags: Jayson Werth, Los Angeles Dodgers, Philadelphia Phillies, Ryan Howard, Ryan Madson, Vicente Padilla
Posted in Phillies Playoffs 2009 | No Comments »

NLCS Game 4: Phillies 5, Dodgers 4

Posted by mattsmith on 20th October 2009

The Stud

Phillies Stun Dodgers in Bottom of the 9th

Young James delivers the biggest hit of his MVP career.

Incredible! Amazing! Unreal! You can go on and on with the superlatives to describe this one.

Jimmy Rollins smoked a 1-1 offering by Jonathan Broxton with two outs in the ninth inning to the right-centerfield gap, plating the game-tying andwinning runs to lift the Phillies to a 3-1 NLCS lead.

Just when you thought this would be a dogfight of a series, J-Roll comes through. It’s certainly not surprising to see this happen…. but, man, it never gets old!

The Story

Ryan Howard jumped on former Phillies Randy Wolf by belting a two-run homer in the first inning. You got the sense that this could be another blowout victory.

Not to be.

To Wolf’s credit, he dominated until the sixth inning. Joe Blanton looked sharp until the fourth inning, surrendering three runs. He gave up a homer to Matt Kemp in the fifth to make it 4-2.

The Phillies bullpen pitched three shutout innings, which was huge. Brad Lidge got out of a one-out jam in the ninth with back-to-back strikeouts.

The Turning Point

See the above picture.

The Next Game

Here we go, it’s Game 5. Cole Hamels vs. Vicente Padilla on Wednesday.

I’m starting to get the feeling that another world championship is meant to be for this club. This is an awesome time to be a Philadelphia sports fan. This Phillies squad is special. Enjoy the ride!

Tags: Jimmy Rollins, Joe Blanton, Jonathan Broxton, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp, NLCS, Philadelphia Phillies, Randy Wolf, Ryan Howard
Posted in Phillies Playoffs 2009 | No Comments »

NLCS Game 3: Phillies 11, Dodgers 0

Posted by mattsmith on 19th October 2009

The Stud



Thats why they brought me here, bitches.

"That's why they brought me here, bitches."

Eight innings. No runs. Ten strikeouts. Three hits.


The Phillies rode the back of Cliff Lee to take a 2-1 series lead. OK, OK… to be fair, the offense gave him a New York Mets week’s worth of runs.

The Story

Well, obviously, Cliff Lee. Yeah, there was Cliff Lee, too, and also Cliff Lee had a good game. I don’t want to forget to mention Cliff Lee, who was superb.

The Phillies pummeled Dodger starter Hiroki Kuroda, who lasted only 1 1/3 innings and allowed six runs on six hits. It all started with a one-out single to Shane Victorino in the first inning. It went downhill from there.

Ryan Howard continued to rake. He knocked in the first two runs with a belly-flop triple. Jayson Werth then proceeded to hit the living s^&% out of the ball to dead centerfield to make it 4-dick.

Hmm, what was next? Oh… Jimmy Rollins knocked in Carlos Ruiz with a two-bagger and Howard drove in his third run of the game with a groundout.

Pedro Feliz collected an RBI triple and Victorino hit a three-run bomb.

Oh yeah, Carlos Ruiz added two more hits. He’s killing the Dodgers.

The Turning Point

The first moment Lee stepped foot on the Citizens Bank Park mound. The Dodgers didn’t stand a chance.

The Next Game

Old friend Randy Wolf starts for the Dodgers in Game 4. The Phillies send out Joe Blanton, who is making his first postseason start.

Tags: Carlos Ruiz, Cliff Lee, Hiroki Kuroda, Jayson Werth, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Blanton, Los Angeles Dodgers, NLCS, Pedro Feliz, Philadelphia Phillies, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino
Posted in Phillies Playoffs 2009 | 2 Comments »

NLCS Game 2: Dodgers 2, Phillies 1

Posted by phillies09 on 16th October 2009

The Dud

The best man to bear the burden

The best man to bear the burden

Pedro Martinez threw a gem. Chase Utley took a hammer to it.

For the second straight night Chase Utley managed to turn a routine double play into Dodger runs. I don’t know if he’s taking hints from Pete Rose or what, maybe Jen needs some extra cash to build a new SPCA in the city, but if Chase isn’t shaving points than I don’t know what’s up. But in all seriousness, what the hell?

Newsflash Chase: You’re the man. Remember when Harry said that? SO DONT @#$% IT UP!

The Story

Pedro Martinez left after seven scoreless innings feeling pretty good about himself. He smiled and hugged his teammates as the L.A. night approached, ready to stick a 2-0 series lead to those “fans.” But in the eighth, between Charlie wanting to introduce the L.A. faithful (used loosely) to our whole bullpen (five pitchers) and Chase’s new fielding technique, the TBS announcers had new found life. Yes as those morons saw a sparkle of hope for their Yankees-Dodgers World Series, the Phillies fell apart faster than Pedro’s Jehri Curls.

J.A. Happ walked in the game winning run with the bases loaded.

Broxton came in and set down the top of the Phillies order rather easily to end the game.

The Padilla Flotilla pitched into the eight only making a single mistake to Ryan Howard resulting in a home run. He was pulled allowing just four hits.

The Next Game

Who even knows. Sunday, Philadelphia, 7:07 PM. Cliff Lee?

Tags: Charlie Manuel, Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, Lose Angeles Dodgers, NLCS, Pedro Martinez, Philadelphia Phillies, Ryan Howard, Vicente Padilla
Posted in Phillies Playoffs 2009 | 2 Comments »

NLCS Game 1: Phillies 8, Dodgers 6

Posted by mattsmith on 16th October 2009

The Stud

The Bearded Menace (Full beard not pictured here)

The Bearded Menace (Full beard not pictured here)

I’m thinking outside the box with this one. I could have picked Carlos Ruiz and Raul Ibanez, both of whom smacked big three-run homers. But it was Chan Ho Park who was our most effective pictcher.
Tony Bastard, for whatever reason, entered in the seventh inning of a 5-4 game. He promptly allowed a leadoff double to Andre Ethier.
Park came in and shut the door. He retired Manny Ramirez, James Loney and Casey Blake rather swiftly.
The Story
This was a wild one. It went from pitcher’s duel to slugfest in a hurry.
Cole Hamels looked pretty good through four innings … then he started having menstruation cramps. Clayton Kershaw was filthy in his first four innings of work.
But then, faster than you can point out five B-list Hollywood celebrities sitting  behind home plate, Kershaw came unglued. He issued three wild pitches in the fifth. Ruiz belted a three-run homer to get the Phils on the scoreboard and Ryan Howard collected a two-run double to make it 5-1.
Of course, Hollywood Hamels nearly coughed it up.
Hamels got hit around in the fifth and the Dodgers got within three runs at 5-2. He could have gotten out of the inning, but Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley muffed a relatively routine double play ball to keep things alive for Manny. Hamels threw his arms in his air like an annoying 5-year-old little brat upset at mommy and daddy for not buying him his favorite toy. Seconds later, the Steroid Freak blasted a two-run homer to cut the Phillies’ lead to 5-4.
Someone needs to slap Hamels across his girlish face.
Get focused, man. Stop doing those stupid Comcast Digital Voice commercials and get your crap together. Stop making excuses, too.
The later innings were crazy. Ibanez’s dinger made it 8-4 in the eighth. Of course, Ryan Madson comes in and allows three straight hits. The Dodgers got within two, but Madson found his way out of further trouble by making a good pitch to Manny, who hit a weak grounder to Pedro Feliz to end the frame.
Brad Lidge got the save. It wasn’t exactly easy (but what is??), but I’ll take it.
The Turning Point
Ruiz’s three-run shot. Or maybe it was Ibanez’s? How about Madson getting out of the eighth-inning jam? Either one of those works.
What’s Next?
Today at 4:07 p.m. EST, Pedro Martinez takes the hill against former Phillies and recovering drunk Vicente Padilla. I think it was Larry Bowa who once said that Padilla has a million dollar arm and a 10 cent brain.
I predict a Phillies sweep, by the way.

Tags: Andre Ethier, Brad Lidge, Carlos Ruiz, Chan Ho Park, Chase Utley, Clayton Kershaw, Cole Hamels, James Loney, Jimmy Rollins, Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Ramirez, NLCS, Pedro Feliz, Philadelphia Phillies, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard, Ryan Madson
Posted in Phillies Playoffs 2009 | No Comments »