Results tagged ‘ NLCS ’

Utley and Sanchez Get Into It, Have A History

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Benches cleared in the third inning tonight in Game 6 of the NLCS after Jonathan Sanchez drilled Chase Utley in the back with a pitch. Utley picked up the ball and flipped it toward the mound as he ran to first base.

Sanchez yelled at Utley, calling it “bull (bleep).”

Utley, who was standing on first base, leaned in toward Sanchez and said, “What’s bull (bleep)?” and shooed Sanchez. But benches cleared, although no punches were thrown. The Giants replaced Sanchez with left-hander Jeremy Affeldt, who worked out of a jam to keep the game tied.

Utley and Sanchez have a history. Here is a excerpt from a story I wrote July 30, 2009, at AT&T Park:

The only drama for the Phillies came in the sixth inning when Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez threw a first-pitch fastball over Chase Utley’s head.

Intentional?

“I don’t know,” Utley said. “I guess you’re going to have to ask him.”

“I lost my release point,” Sanchez said. “It was supposed to be away. I didn’t try to hit him. I have nothing against him.”

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Rollins Back at the Top, Halladay Ready to Go

rollins 1019 2009.jpgTheir World Series aspirations on the line, Charlie Manuel made a significant change to his lineup for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series tonight against the Giants.

Jimmy Rollins is leading off.

It is the first time Manuel has used this lineup this season: 1, Rollins, shortstop; 2. Placido Polanco, third base; 3. Chase Utley, second base; 4. Ryan Howard, first base; 5. Jayson Werth, right field; 6. Victorino, center field; 7. Raul Ibanez, left field; 8. Carlos Ruiz, catcher.

“He’s got more legs underneath him,” Manuel said, referring to Rollins. “His foundation at the plate has been better. The other day when he showed me he could run (Thursday in Game 5) … I’ve always looked at him as our leadoff hitter, and he is the guy. It’s not that Victorino can’t do it. Victorino also has some success in the postseason hitting down in the order in the sixth and seventh hole.”

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Heart of the Lineup Still Silent

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It’s pretty remarkable the Phillies still have a chance to win the NLCS, despite the fact Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have no RBIs in the series.

Zero.

Utley is hitting .158 (3 for 19) with three walks, two strikeouts, three stolen bases and four runs scored. I’m not sure what is more amazing: he has no extra-base hits or he has scored four runs despite being on base just six times. Utley also has hit just .182 with one homer and four RBIs in his last nine postseason games, dating to Game 6 of the 2009 World Series.

Howard is hitting .294 (5 for 17) with three doubles, one walk, nine strikeouts and one run scored. He has not homered in nearly a month (Sept. 25 against the Mets). He has struck out 27 times in his last 51 postseason at-bats over 14 games. He has just one home run and three RBIs in that stretch, dating to Game 1 of the 2009 World Series.

According to Elias Sports Bureau, the 1962 New York Yankees are the last team to win a best-of-seven series without getting one RBI from its cleanup hitter. Mickey Mantle hit cleaneup in that year’s World Series, which was played against the San Francisco Giants.

“I’ll go 0-for-whatever if we win,” Howard said. “It doesn’t matter.”

Of course, the Phillies stand a much better chance of winning tonight if they hit Jonathan Sanchez early and often. The Phillies’ Nos. 3 and 4 hitters could help make that happen.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Halladay Has Mild to Moderate Groin Strain

halladay nlcs game 5.jpgRoy Halladay strained his right groin in the second innnig last night in Game 5 of the NLCS and still won.

If he had not injured himself, he very likely would be available to pitch out of the bullpen if the Phillies reach Game 7 Sunday.

“I think we’ll have to wait and see a little bit, see where he’s at and how he feels,” said Charlie Manuel, asked about Halladay’s availability Sunday. “That would be hard for me to answer right now.”

Contacted Ruben Amaro Jr. and asked him about Halladay’s injury. He said Halladay has a “mild to moderate strain” and is day to day.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

The Six Comeback Teams in the LCS

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It looks bad for the Phillies because it is bad. The Giants have a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series. One loss and it’s over. But there is hope for the Phillies: Six teams since 1985 have overcome 3-1 deficits to win the LCS:

Ben Francisco played for the 2007 Indians, who blew a 3-1 lead to the Red Sox.

“We’re still confident,” Francisco said after last night’s 6-5 loss to the Giants in Game 4. “We’ve just got to win one and get it back to Philly. That’s what the ’07 Red Sox did to us. They came out, beat our ace and they went back to their home park. That’s what we’ve got to do.”

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Can the Phillies Hit This Guy?

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Lots of nervous Phillies fans out there.

Lots of people wondering why the Phillies would not start Roy Halladay over Joe Blanton in Game 4. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with it. Not even a little bit. Because if the Phillies can’t hit Madison Bumgarner tonight to even the series, does it really matter who they pitch? I’d rather take my chances with Blanton, assume a dormant Phillies offense hits a rookie left-hander and have Halladay ready to go on normal rest in Game 5.

If the Phillies win tonight, I like the idea of having Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels on normal rest the rest of the series. If the Phillis lose tonight, I’d much rather have Halladay on normal rest with something to prove (don’t think his Game 1 performance isn’t a motivator) than Oswalt on short rest in an elimination game.

But they’ve got to hit. Simple as that.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Blanton Will Start Game 4

blanton 0828 2010.jpgCharlie Manuel confirmed what he had been saying all week: Joe Blanton will pitch Game 4 of the National League Championship Series tomorrow night at AT&T Park.

Here is what Manuel, Rich Dubee and Roy Halladay had to say after today’s 3-0 loss in Game 3:

MANUEL
Q: Was there any discussion to start Halladay on short rest?
A: I didn’t see any use in discussion. Did you? Whatever. No. No discussion.

DUBEE
Q: Why not Halladay on short rest?
A: You had to determine if you were going to pitch (Roy) Oswalt and (Cole) Hamels short or you were going to pitch Joe Blanton somewhere. So we think this is the best thing to do.
Q: Charlie left the door open this week during his press conferences that he could go in another direction. Was it ever discussed?
A: I don’t think so. I really haven’t come across going up to him and saying what do you think of moving guys up? No.
Q: Is that because Hamels hasn’t done it?

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Hamels vs. Cain

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Hola, amigos. What’s up? It’s been a long day, so I haven’t had a chance to blog.

My bad.

Cole Hamels and Matt Cain spoke yesterday at AT&T Park. They’re ready to go today in Game 3. I know Hamels does not have great numbers at AT&T Park, but I feel like he’s going to pitch a good game. Not sure why I think that other than he’s really, really good and is due to pitch a good game here, but I do. I think the Phillies can hit Cain, too.

Other predictions: Cody Ross doesn’t hurt the Phillies the rest of the series. … Joe Blanton pitches Game 4. … Jimmy Rollins finds his stroke. … I make an In-N-Out run before Wednesday’s game.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

How Can the Phillies Stop Cody Ross?

ross 1017 2010.jpgAfter Cody Ross hit two solo homers Saturday against Roy Halladay, somebody figured out Ross’ name spelled backward is “Ssory Doc.”

Hey, it’s close enough.

Ross’ homers in Game 1 of the NLCS helped the Giants to a 4-3 victory. It was an unbelievable game against an incredible pitcher, but when Ross broke up Roy Oswalt‘s no-hitter Sunday with a home run in Game 2 at Citizens Bank Park, the question had to be asked:

What must the Phillies do to stop Ross?

“We’ve got to make better pitches,” Rich Dubee said. “Give him credit. He’s hit them. But we haven’t made good pitches to him, either.”

Oswalt threw high and tight to Ross in his first at-bat in the second inning, but Ross walked and then homered in his next at-bat. He flied out to the deepest part of Citizens Bank Park in center field in the seventh before Ryan Madson struck him out looking in the ninth.

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Manuel Tweaks Lineup for Game 2

The Phillies have hit just .212 in the postseason, and just .147 against Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez in five career starts against him.

Charlie Manuel tried to shake up things with a tweak to his lineup before Game 2 of the NLCS. He flipped Chase Utley and Placido Polanco, which had Utley hitting second and Polanco hitting third.

“Same reason I always do it,” Manuel said.

He wanted to split the left-handed hitting Utley and Ryan Howard, which he has done on occasion this season against left-handed pitchers.

Manuel said Saturday he would “think” about hitting Jimmy Rollins first, but he never seriously considered it for three reasons: Rollins has hit .067 (1 for 15) with two walks and three strikeouts in the postseason and he has hit just .063 (1 for 16) against Sanchez while Shane Victorino, who is hitting leadoff, has hit .400 (6 for 15) against Sanchez.

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Manuel said Joe Blanton remains his starter for Game 4, but he left some room to change his mind Sunday.

“That’s still our plan,” he said. “But we’ll just take it day to day and see what happens.”

If the Phillies trail the series entering Game 4, they could start Roy Halladay on short rest. Halladay has pitched on short rest five times in his career as a starter. (He started on short rest two other times, but those followed relief appearances.) Halladay is 4-1 with a 1.70 ERA (seven earned runs in 37 innings) in those five starts, but he has made just one start on short rest since 2004.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

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