Results tagged ‘ Tim Lincecum ’

Their Nemesis

So a quick recap before we talk about this week’s series in San Francisco:

- The Phillies had the best record in baseball last season, but the Giants beat them in six games in the NLCS. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and the rest of the Giants pitchers held the Phillies to a .216 average and 20 runs.
– The Phillies have the best record in baseball this season and have won 11 of their last 12 series. The only series they lost since losing two of three to Seattle in mid-June? The Giants last week at Citizens Bank Park.

That makes this four-game series at AT&T Park especially intriguing.

“They’re not in our heads,” Charlie Manuel said last week. “I don’t think so. Really, I don’t think so at all.”

I can’t get inside the Phillies’ heads, but I’ve got to think losing to San Francisco this week would put the Giants in their heads before a potential October showdown. That’s why I think Manuel tried to downplay the greatness of Lincecum and Cain last week.

You remember those comments, right?

“You say they’re great pitchers,” Manuel said. “To me, I don’t know how great they are. I think as they move on into their careers, there’s the longevity part and things like that. I think that’s when the greatness might come by. This is a consistent game. When you say somebody is great … tonight I saw 90 fastball, 92 at the best. I saw a good changeup. I saw a breaking ball. I saw a cutter. Good pitching, but at the same time we can beat that. I’ve seen us do that.”

I think Manuel was trying to pump up his players more than say Lincecum and Cain aren’t good. What’s he supposed to say?

Boy, those two are unhittable. Hope we don’t face them in the postseason because we’ve got no shot.

“I think we can get ‘em, if you want to know the truth,” Manuel said. “I know we can get ‘em. It’s just a matter of us putting it together and for us to play the right way.”

They have a chance to do that tonight.

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Lee’s Night: KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK

Cliff Lee struck out 16 batters tonight in a 5-0 loss to the Braves.

A few things about his night:

  • He set a career-high in strikeouts. He had a career-high 13 strikeouts July 27 last season against Oakland.
  • They are the most strikeouts by a Phillies pitcher since Curt Schilling struck out 16 Yankees on Sept. 1, 1997.
  • They tied Steve Carlton for the most strikeouts by a left-handed pitcher in a nine-inning game in Phillies history. (Left-hander Chris Short struck out 18 Mets in 15 innings Oct. 2, 1965.)
  • Lee’s 16 strikeouts are the most by a pitcher in a big-league game this season. (Jared Weaver had 15 against the Blue Jays on April 10.)
  • It was Lee’s 13th double-digit strikeout game, and his fifth with the Phillies.
  • It was the 12th time he has struck out 10 or more batters with one or fewer walks. (Lee walked one tonight.)
  • He has 10 double-digit strikeout games since the beginning of the 2010 season, which ties him with Tim Lincecum for the most in the big leagues in that span.

The bad news for Lee? The Phillies have scored one run in his last three starts.

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Remain Calm

cody ross.jpgA couple stats for you:

Teams are 52-28 when taking a 1-0 lead in the LCS.

They are 35-4 when taking a 2-0 lead.

Those are not comforting numbers for Phillies fans, but they are no reason to panic. They only mean Game 2 tonight is huge. If the Phillies win Game 2, it’s even. And teams that take a 2-1 lead in the LCS, which the Phillies would have the opportunity to do if they even the series tonight, are 43-17.

And think back to the last time the Phillies played a seven-game series. They took a 1-0 lead against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium in the 2009 World Series. I recall some nervous Yankees fans following that Game 1 loss to Cliff Lee, but the Yankees outplayed the Phillies the rest of the World Series.

The Phillies certainly have the ability to do to the Giants what the Yankees did to them.

Of course, they will need to hit Jonathan Sanchez, who is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts this season against the Phillies.

“Usually we win Game 1 and find a way to lose Game 2,” Jimmy Rollins said. “Now we have to find a way to win Game 2 and go back out to San Francisco. We don’t get afraid of playing on the road. We’ve won on the road. We’re comfortable there also. So we’ve just got to make sure we get even tomorrow because you don’t want to go down 0-2.”

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Quote of the night from Tim Lincecum about the catcalls he got from Phillies fans: “I was thinking I must have a really nice butt. But I heard a lot of them. It kind of hypes you up a little bit. You’re fighting a lot more than the Philly team. It’s the whole Philly atmosphere.”

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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!

Headed Home

phils 0428 2010.jpgThe Phillies are headed home and so am I.

I figured out that I have spent 62 of the past 73 nights on the road, including my redeye tonight to Philly. I’m not complaining. Not at all. I just thought that was a crazy number. I kind of feel like George Clooney in Up in the Air, but instead of getting rock star treatment from my airline I’m sitting in a middle seat in the 22nd row. Thankfully, I’ve got an airport approved sleeping aid to get me through the night.

But you’re here for the Phillies, so let’s talk Phillies. The Phillies arguably salvaged their nine-game road trip through Atlanta, Arizona and San Francisco with a crazy 7-6 victory in 11 innings today over the Giants at AT&T Park. (AT&T Park is one of my five favorite ballparks, by the way. I highly recommend a trip for every Phillies fan.) The Phillies went 4-5 on the trip, which certainly is not good, but considering the Phillies’ offense has been ridiculously frigid and they’re missing two starting pitchers, their closer and their shortstop, maybe it could have been worse.

Cole Hamels continues to puzzle. He allowed one run through five innings as he battled Tim Lincecum, but after he loaded the bases with one out in the sixth and struck out Lincecum for the second out, he walked Andres Torres to score the first run in a three-run rally to give the Giants a 4-1 lead.

Charlie Manuel and Brian Schneider both offered unsolicited opinions that they thought Hamels threw well, despite the fact that Hamels’ line showed he allowed nine hits and four runs in six innings to give him a 5.28 ERA after five starts. But you know what? I thought he threw well at times, too. His stuff is there. He struck out 10 batters. His 3.6 strikeout/walk ratio ranks 22nd out of 125 pitchers in baseball with 20 or more innings. He just hasn’t been able to finish. I think it will come. I really do. And if I’m wrong, I’m wrong. But I think Hamels will get on a run at some point.

“It’s pitching deeper,” Hamels said. “I’m not going to take anything negative from the way I attacked the strike zone because I felt like I did that really well. I was able to really go after them. I felt like I was able to do what I wanted to do. Unfortunately, the line doesn’t look good, but after this game I feel really pleased with what I was able to accomplish, and I look forward to my next start.”

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I’ll be signing copies of my Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Barnes & Noble in Rittenhouse Square. Stop by if you can!

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Check out notes from today’s game. … Joe Blanton said he is ready to rejoin the rotation.

The Phillies Can Pitch, Too

pedro 0903.jpgThe Phillies lead the National League, averaging 5.1 runs per game, despite the fact they have scored just 13 runs and hit just .227 in their past seven games.

Other noteworthy NL teams in runs per game:

2) Rockies (5.00)
4) Dodgers (4.77)
5) Marlins (4.73)
6) Braves (4.55)
8) Cardinals (4.49)
15) Giants (3.99)

The Phillies generally are known as an offensive team — again, despite the fact they have averaged just 4.0 runs per game since July 26. And perhaps because of that there has been some apprehension about who they might face in the best-of-five National League Division Series. We heard it quite a bit this week with the Giants in town: Oh, the Giants would be brutal with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.

And they would be.

But the Phillies proved this week they can pitch, too. They rank sixth in the league with a 4.10 ERA, and lead the league with a 3.12 ERA since the All-Star break.

Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, who threw a shutout Tuesday, in Games 1 and 2? They could neutralize the Giants or any other team, even if the Phillies bats aren’t hitting.

“It goes without saying that we can beat people a lot of different ways,” Jayson Werth said. “Our starting pitching has definitely been upgraded. We’ve got some guys coming back, too, to bolster up the pen. We’re going to be tough. We’re going to be tough down the stretch. And hopefully when it gets down to the playoffs we’ll be tough again this year.”

“I think last year it showed in the playoffs that pitching and defense can win you a lot of games,” Chase Utley said. “You’re not going to score every single night. You’re bound to run into a tough pitcher occasionally. But if you have good pitchers on your side and play good defense, it’s going to be a good game.”

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Is it time for Raul Ibanez to sit a couple games, much like Jimmy Rollins sat in June? Ibanez has hit .133 (8-for-60) with no homers, one RBI and 19 strikeouts since Aug. 13 and .174 (19-for-109) with one homer, five RBIs and 34 strikeouts since July 27.

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The magic number is 22.

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It's Gotta Be Happ

happ 0805.jpgI’d say J.A. Happ has made a case for himself.

He threw his second shoutout of the season tonight in a 7-0 victory against the Rockies. He struck out a career-high 10 batters. He is 8-2 with a 2.74 ERA, an ERA which ranks sixth in the National League.

Who’s got a better ERA in the NL than Happ?

Chris Carpenter (2.10 ERA)
Tim Lincecum (2.18 ERA)
Matt Cain (2.25 ERA)
Dan Haren (2.38 ERA)
Wandy Rodriguez (2.63 ERA)

That’s solid company, which makes Happ’s future in the Phillies rotation even more interesting than it already is.

We know Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton take three spots in the rotation.

We know Jamie Moyer leads the team with 10 wins.

We know Pedro Martinez has been signed to be a starter, and the Phillies have made no bones that is their plan for him.

But we also know Moyer’s 5.55 ERA is the second highest in the National League, Martinez has not piched in the big leagues since last season and Happ has been one of the team’s most consistent starters this year.

“Tremendous pitching. Outstanding,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “If he didn’t allow any hits that might have been the only way he could have done better. I think he showed me he wants to stay in the rotation.”

Has he?

“Let me answer that for you later on, OK?” Manuel said. “I don’t feel like getting into that no more. I’ve answered that now for what? A week?”

But that was before Happ threw his latest shutout.

If the Phillies think Martinez is ready for the big leagues after his latest rehab start tonight with Double-A Reading — he allowed three earned runs and struck out 11 in six innings — the decision might come before Happ’s next scheduled start Tuesday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

Should Happ stay in the rotation? Absolutely. I can’t see how the Phillies will be able to say they are a better team — a team trying to win another World Series — with Happ in the bullpen. In a seven-game series, who would you want following Lee, Hamels and Blanton right now? I’d want Happ.

But the decision is tougher than it seems. Manuel mentioned Tuesday that Moyer leads the team in wins and has won 256 games in his career. He also is in the first year of a two-year, $13 million contract. Those things will be considered. Martinez, while he has not pitched in the Majors since last season, is worth a look. And while he has said he would go to the bullpen, he might not take that well. That will be considered, too.

It might come down to Happ vs. Moyer. It should be interesting, but Happ has earned the right to keep starting.

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Lee Pitches Friday

lee 0730.jpgCliff Lee will make his Phillies debut tomorrow night, which means no ’08 Cy Young matchup Saturday against Tim Lincecum.

Oh well.

“Beforehand it was going to be a win-win situation for me,” Lee said of the time leading up to the trade. “I was comfortable in Cleveland. I knew I could be successful there. I was really comfortable with the whole staff. But being traded I went from a team that was struggling to a team that’s in first place and has a pretty good squad. Now I’m playing for the defending world champions. With the offense we’ve got, it’s going to be fun to watch these games and be a part of it. I just want to contribute and give this team a chance to win every time I take the mound.”

Lee mentioned the offense. He had the eighth-worst run support of any starter in the American League this season.

The Phillies have the best offense in the National League.

He should find a little more support in Philly.

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Shane Victorino said the swelling is down in his bruised left knee, but not enough to allow him to play. Ben Francisco, who joined Lee in the trade, will start in center field. He is hitting sixth.

Victorino said he is day to day.

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The Phillies shuffled their rotation for Lee. Here is how it looks:

- Lee on Friday.
- Joe Blanton on Saturday.
- Cole Hamels on Sunday.
- Jamie Moyer on Tuesday.
- J.A. Happ on Wednesday.

No word what happens Thursday. I can’t imagine the Phillies use a six-man rotation, which means tonight could be Lopez’s final start.

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Happ Making His Case

happ 0720.jpgThe numbers are impressive.

J.A. Happ is 7-0 with a 2.68 ERA after he threw seven scoreless innings yesterday against the Marlins at Landshark Stadium. He is 5-0 with a 2.74 ERA in 11 starts since he replaced Chan Ho Park in the rotation.

Happ leads National League rookies in wins, ERA and opponents average (.222). He is second in innings (94). He is third in strikeouts (65). He is the only rookie to throw a shutout this season.

He is a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate.

Atlanta’s Tommy Hanson (4-0, 2.85 ERA), Milwaukee’s Casey McGehee (.321, six homers, 27 RBIs), St. Louis’ Colby Rasmus (.270, 11, 34), Colorado’s Seth Smith (.305, 8, 25) and Los Angeles’ Ramon Troncoso (4-0, 1.70 ERA, nine holds) are a few rookies who can make claims for Rookie of the Year.

But Happ … he filled a huge void in the rotation for the defending World Series champions. His ERA is fourth best amongst all pitchers in the National League. Only Dan Haren (1.96 ERA), Tim Lincecum (2.27 ERA) and Matt Cain (2.32 ERA) are better. His opponents average is fifth best amongst all pitchers in the National League. Only Haren (.187), Clayton Kershaw (.193), Yovani Gallardo (.208) and Lincecum (.214) are better.

Of course, what makes Happ’s Rookie of the Year candidacy more interesting is that he could be included in a trade for Roy Halladay. If the Blue Jays insist on a young, Major League-ready starter — a starter they can control for the next several years — Happ is the guy.

The Phillies could use a guy like Happ in their rotation for the next several years.

The problem is they could use Halladay this year.

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