Tagged: Pennant Races

Ya Gotta Believe!!!

We all know the Phillies have their backs against the wall.  One loss and it’s over…  As crazy as it sounds, maybe it’s exactly where they need to be.

If you know the history of this team, you’re well aware that nothing comes easy.

1980 was a great year for the Phillies as they won their only World Series.  They weren’t handed any trophy.  They fought just to get in the World Series.

In the NLCS (which was a five-game series then), the Phillies won the first game, coming from behind (on a Greg Luzinski home run), but dropped the next two.  Facing elimination, the Phillies had no choice but to win or go home. 

In Game 4, the Phillies were trailing 2-0, but scored three runs in the top of the eighth inning to take a 3-2 lead.  That lead was short lived as the Astros tied it in the bottom of the ninth.  The Phillies won it in the tenth inning, with Pete Rose mauling Astro’s catcher Bruce Bochy, scoring the go-ahead run.  Tug McGraw earned the save as the Phillies won 5-3 in ten innings.

With the series tied two, it would come down to a one game winner take all.  After blowing a 2-1 lead the Phillies were down 5-2 in the eighth with Nolan Ryan on the mound.  To this point Ryan was cruising, allowing five hits and eight strikeouts over seven innings, so it didn’t look good for the Phillies.  That was until they loaded the bases on three straight singles. Ryan was replaced after he walked Rose, scoring Larry Bowa. 

The Phillies would tack on four more runs that inning and take a 7-5 lead in the eighth, only for McGraw to give up.  Back two back RBI singles with two outs knotted the game at seven.  It would be another extra inning battle.  In the tenth inning, Garry Maddox doubled home Del Unser, to take an 8-7 lead.  **** Ruthven pitched a perfect tenth inning, and the Phillies won, advancing to the World Series. 

With their backs against the wall, the Phillies beat the odds. 

The other time the Phillies were in a five game series and had to rally was in 1981.  It wasn’t the NLCS, but the first NLDS.  Due to a players strike, the division champs of each half of the season played each other, to see who went to the NLCS.  The Phillies played the Montreal Expos.  The Phillies were down two games to none.

The Phillies won Game 3 easily 6-2.  In Game 4 the Phillies blew a 4-0 lead, but won the game in the tenth inning on a George Vuckovich pinch-hit home run.  This forced a fifth and final game.

Unfortunately they lost that game as Steve Rogers out-dueled Steve Carlton for a 3-0 victory.  Although they lost the series, they proved they could crawl out of a 2-0 hole.

So if you think the Phillies are out of it, they’re not.  It’s all about taking one game at a time. 

When Tugger said “Ya gotta believe”, he meant it…

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I Hate to Second Guess, But…

What I watched this afternoon was nothing short of disgraceful… The Phillies pitching fell apart. Though the Phillies did score runs, it was too late as the Phillies lost 10-5.

It’s no secret the Phillies pitching staff isn’t great, but this loss isn’t just about Man the pitching. It’s about the decisions that led to this pitching. It gets pinned on one person. Charlie Manuel

In the fourth inning, with a man on second and two out, Kyle Kendrick pitched around Yorvit Torrealba and eventually intentionally walked him. That was the first mistake.

Torrealba is no Matt Holliday and there’s a reason he bats eighth in the order. Pitching to him could have ended the inning and the pitcher would lead off the next inning. That’s favorable match-up as opposed to the top of the order starting the next inning. That is if you can get the pitcher out.

Seth Smith pinch hit for starter Franklin Morales, and reached first on an infield dribbler, loading the bases. Manuel pulled Kendrick in favor of Kyle Lohse. That was mistake #2. Lohse gave up a grand slam to Kaz Matsui, making the score 6-3.

Kyle Lohse is a starting pitcher. He’s been used in relief twice this season, but he’s not a reliever. He’s not used to coming in with inherited runners. Even if it’s the playoffs, you have to let Kendrick get through that inning on his own, ESPECIALLY when you’re in the fourth inning with a ten-man pitching staff.

After Kyle Lohse pitched an inning and a third he was pinch hit for. Jose Mesa came on to pitch. This was mistake #3. Jose Mesa completely came unglued and couldn’t make it through the inning. Clay Condrey relieved him, but the damaged was already done… By the time the sixth inning ended it was 10-3 Rockies.

I know Manuel’s thinking about Mesa making the post-season roster was his experience. Regardless of experience, Jose Mesa has no business on the playoff roster. The only action he should see is mop-up duty. The Phillies down by three runs in the sixth is not a mop-up role. If Geoff Geary’s elbow wasn’t ailing he wouldn’t have made the roster, and Fabio Castro or JD Durbin would have been a better option.

I like Charlie Manuel, but he is a pitiful in-game manager…

With all this being said, I still believe in this team.  It doesn’t look good, but so what. A lot of people counted the Red Sox out in 2004 when they were down 3-0 to the Yankees. They did the unthinkable, so can the Phillies. Until the final out is made and the Phillies season is officially over, I still believe.

The Season Falls on today

The combination of poor fielding and impatient at-bats proved fatal, as the Phillies dropped a crucial game to the Washington Nationals 4-2. 

Maybe it was because they knew the Mets had won before they stepped onto the field… Maybe it was because they thought the season ended last night… Whatever the reason, the Phillies did not bring their A-game to Citizens Bank Park yesterday. The Phillies played sloppy, uninspired baseball in a game that was difficult for fans to watch and not exactly what you would expect out of “the team to beat”, as Jimmy Rollins stated this spring.

The defense gave a lackluster effort.  Errors by Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz led to two unearned runs, which were the runs that led them to lose the game.  Ruiz also made a poor decision on fielding a bunt in the fourth inning.  He fielded a bunt with runners on first and second and one out. Instead of going to third base to get the lead runner (which he would have had with ease), Ruiz went to second base in what one would guess to attempt a double play. Then, on a sacrifice fly, the runner on third scored.

The bats were pressing the entire game and made Nationals starter Matt Chico look like Warren Spahn.  The first four players in the Phillies lineup went a combined 3 for 16, and a majority of their at-bats were bad.  Jimmy Rollins swung at every first pitch that came his way.  Unfortunately, he didn’t hit it well and ended the inning, killing a potential rally.  The rest of the lineup didn’t fair any better, as they chased bad pitches and lacked patience.  On a bright note, Aaron Rowand and Ryan Howard both hit late inning home runs, but it wasn’t enough to make up for the poor defense.

Today isn’t football Sunday for Phillies and Mets fans, at least until 5:00pm or so (ironically the Eagles are playing the Giants at 8:15pm).  The decision on the NL East title depends on what happens this afternoon. The Phillies will be in the playoffs if they win and the Mets lose; the Mets head to playoffs if they pull out a win and the Phillies lose. However, a tie-breaker game will take place on Monday evening in Citizens Bank Park in one of two ways – if both teams win or if both teams lose.

Note to those attending today’s game.  GET INTO IT!  That stadium needs to be rocking.  It was quiet for most of the game today.  During this final home stand, the players have fed off the crowd’s energy… So let’s get it going!

I’ll have the TV on with the Mets game and the Phillies game on MLB.TV.  The season comes down to this…  Let’s go Phillies!!!

Tied for the Top but Stay Humble

If you told me two weeks ago the Phillies would contend for the division I would have laughed at you.  The Phillies were six and a half games out of first place with only sixteen games to play, there wasn’t enough time to make up the ground.  I figured the only way to make the playoffs was to settle in and overtake the Padres for the wild card.

Well I figured wrong.  With three games remaining in the season the Phillies are tied with the Mets for first place in the NL East.  Phillies Fever has caught Philadelphia and it’s exciting.  Take one look at the packed crowd at Citizens Bank Park and you can see this.

Although it is exciting, but I think all Phillies fans should stay humble…  I’ve received a few emailed this morning from friends of mine who are Mets fans congratulating me and my response has been a simple:

"It’s not done yet. There’s still three games left to play, it can go any way.”

It’s not that I don’t have confidence in my team.  I believe the Phillies have a team that can go deep in the playoffs, I just don’t believe in celebrating a playoff birth before it’s clinched.  I plead all Phillies fans to do the same.  There will be plenty of time to celebrate and gloat when the Phillies make the playoffs.