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Saturday, October 01, 2011

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"Blood-in-the-water two-run jack..." Great stuff, as per usual, JW.

You hear that? Bad Roy!

"Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no....

Time for the losers to jump off the wagon.

Posted by: Bigotto | Saturday, October 01, 2011 at 05:30 PM"


You know who are.

Shame on all th e1st and second inning whiners.

These are your Phillies, a team that never quits. A team, when they had nothing to play for, still sowed up and bitch-slapped the Braves out of the playoffs and back to Atlanta.

They never quit. You shouldn't either.

Howard > Pujols

;)

It's just "per usual." Not "as per usual." the more you know!

This teams locked in, don't ya think?

I whapped Halladay on the nose. I did. But it's like whapping your prized poodle on the nose at the Westminster Dog Show after he piddles on the carpet a little.

Nothing better than a "Blood-in-the-water two-run jack..."

Great to see Howard so focused. And didn't he pimp it big time off the bat. He's got that move down to a tee this year.

The Phils know when to raise the intensity. It's showing how much they want this.

Ole Doc would really be something, if he could ever get over those 1st inning troubles.

I give him a TON of praise today. That's the difference between a real ace and the CJ Wilson's of the world, who get hit early and can't keep their team in the game.

That game could have gotten away from the Fighten's and it didn't. When your starter mowes 21 in a row down, you ought to be able to score 4 runs against that Cardinal staff.

Cholly had his "A" game managing shoes on today. Got RFD into the game in the late innings for defense (when was the last time that happened?) Got Doc out, with a 8 run lead to "save bullets". So what Stutes got knocked around? The game was over. At least Cholly got him into a post-season game to get his feet wet. He could be needed down the road. Personally, I would have rather seen Worley get into the game since he's so new to being in the bullpen. But he'll get his shot soon enough.

This was a great post right after Howard's homer:


"NEPP learns that a game is 9 innings long.

Posted by: clout | Saturday, October 01, 2011 at 06:40 PM"

I'm always amazed by how quickly Howard recognizes how much he connected. You saw it both in the homer and the top-spin shot.

JW, I suspect he feels it in his hands when the ball hits the bat.

If it's not "as per usual." It ought to be "as usual"

Aaah who cares!!!

Already stingin' to watch Cliffy tomorrow.

Go PHILS!!!

Learning every day. Who knows what I'll know after 10 more wins.

Does Doc deserve to get his nose swatted? Perhaps, but check this out:

In 17 career NLDS innings, he's retired the opponent in order 14 times and allowed just one base runner 2 other times.

I love Doc as much as the next guy, but he cannot continue to channel his inner-Blanton in the first inning of games.

He made a bad pitch. I don't think he deserves to get his nose swatted. I still say the real head-scratcher was to pitch around Pujols. Berkman against a RH pitcher > Pujols against a RH pitcher.

YEah Yeah !! So happy. Game one in the books. !
Love the fact the Chase had 3 hits. Also saw a shot of him standing on first clapping for Pence who was coming to bat. Very Very encouraging.

And so much for all the blather about the Cardinals winning the season series, being hot, and scoring a ton of runs, etc. It was a great win, with the ridiculous 9th inning only slighting tarnishing its gleam.

CJ

Amazing stat.

Halladay's first inning was putrid, but he closed the door after that. 3 ER in 8 IP isn't quite what we expect from Doc, but it's not awful either. I'll cut him some slack.

Stutes' performance was a debacle, and made it rather unlikely that Cholly will use him in a high leverage playoff situation, unless out of desparation. As you say, using Madson was a shame.


Nice to get the bats going though.

Howard's at-bat was indeed a thing of beauty.

Funny though, the difference between winning or losing this game (at least winning it in a blowout) was the tiny piece of the ball that Howard managed to hit on the foul tip before the HR, and the tiny piece of the ball that missed the St. Louis third baseman's glove on that dropped Victorino foul-pop.

I was a little surprised at the pitch around to Pujols. Although, I think he thought he got the corner at least once.

He really missed on the pitch to Berkman but, I guess, if he was a poodle I'd do it. I think he's more doberman. Last time Halladay pitched against St. Louis Berkman pounded the ball in his first two at bats and then Halladay walked him intentionally twice.

I don't find myself too distraught about the fact that we had to use Madson. It's the playoffs. You use your best guys. There are plenty of days off during the post-season - even more so if we can lock up the series early.

With the addition of Huner Pence to the Phillies lineup, and Charlie's recent decision to bat him 3rd and Vic 5th, gives other teams the following problem when they face the Phillies:

.296/.373/.514

.291/.340/.475

.298/.397/.623

.274/.336/.415

The above are the career splits of the Phillies 2 through 5 hitters against RHP. Sooner or later, continually trying to get through that lineup is going to catch up to a RHP.

Then, add these 2 guys to the party:

Rollins career: .270/.329/.431 (2011: .281/.360/.427)

Ibanez career: .286/.351/.488 (2011: .256/.307/.440)


Simply, that's a 1 through 6 gauntlet that matches up with any in baseball against RHP.

You saw that tonight.

BAP & NEPP: All 32 of Berkman's homers this year are vs. RHP.

I always love to see Howard do well in big spots. He really was zoned in and relaxed during his at-bats tonight.

I love "the Good Phillie" for Ibanez.

No, actually 28 out of his 32 homers are off of RHP.

One takeaway from this game and past experience: Don't let Pujols or Berkman beat you. If any Phillies pitcher grooves one to either of these guys, they certainly deserve a flick or thwap on the nose.

Tray: Thanks. I saw that "all 32" on ESPN box score notes, and thought it was odd.

Keep this in mind: To beat the Phillies in the NLDS, the Cardinals will have to win 3 of the next 4 games against Cliff, Cole, Roy and Doc. Good luck.

Wow, what a game!!! The first 5 innings of the game at the park were just tense. Even after they scored the lone run on the Vic single, there was still a palpable tension, and during the Howard AB, everyone was standing up and kind of just leaning forward slightly.

But when he made contact, I'm not even sure I saw the ball leave the yard. You just knew it was gone off the bat. My section was in an absolute frenzy. It was chaotic!

Honestly, I don't even care about the Stutes meltdown. He won't pitch in a meaningful inning the rest of the postseason. In fact, if we advance, he probably won't even be on the NLCS roster.

Everything else was awesome. Even with the HR given up, Halladay did what aces do. Aces aren't always perfect, but what they do is consistently given their team a great chance to win. After the HR, Halladay was simply untouchable. He did his job, and had he pitched the 9th, I'm absolutely certain he would have had a final line of 9 IP, 3 ER, and you know what; I don't get mad when a pitcher has a 3.00 ERA in a game, no matter when the runs come. 3 runs, with this offense, we should win most of our games.

And what can be said about Howard, Ibanez and Utley, who were the heart and soul of the offense tonight?

Also good to be reminded about how terrible that St. Louis bullpen is. Stutes may have sucked, but that's one pitcher. We saw 4 Cardinal relief pitchers tonight, and not one of them looked much better than Stutes. If the Cardinals don't get 7 IP out of a starter, they are in big trouble.

bay_area -
Maybe "shame" isn't the best word, but it's never good when you have to use your closer after entering the 9th inning with a 8 run lead.

Maybe it was partly nerves, but Stutes looked completely lost.

I'm not worried that the Phillies used Madson tonight. Lee, like Doc, went the whole 8 in nearly a third of his starts last year, and pretty much goes 7-8 innings every time out since the beginning of June. And if Madson has to pitch tomorrow, he gets a day off the very next day. This is the playoffs. Players and pitchers just have to bear down and just go after it. You don't worry about them getting tired or being worn out. Madson will be fine. In fact, he hadn't pitched much lately, so it might not be the worst thing that he got to come in and get some work. Not a big deal at all that he came in.

Lee against Carpenter might be the best matchup for the Cardinals in this series, and it's still a fairly large mismatch. I was talking to a couple Cardinals fans tonight at the park, and they weren't even surprised that Garcia wasn't used early in this series. They said he's been unable to pitch in big spots and jams in games lately. The Cardinals have to really hope that Lee has one of his rare early season off-nights, where he's leaving everything over the plate, and that they can tee off. If Lee is on his game, the Phillies will win tomorrow night and likely take the series in St. Louis.

Never a doubt!

What was said earlier you cannot let Pujols or Berkman beat you. The fact that Holliday isnt ready to play helps us a whole bunch. The Cardinals do have a fearsome lineup even one that surpasses the 08 Phils. Although the Phils dont have the punch that team had when everything clicks for us we can be formidable as well. The downside is we either firing on all eight or sputtering on 2.

As I said during the game thread:

Pardon my language but Albatross my friggin' ass.

That Howard at bat in the 6th was a veteran guy having an excellent at bat at a time when his team needed him to come through. Laid off some pitches, fouled off a good 2-2 change-up, and eventually got a hanging change-up that he absolutely crushed.

Yankees have to go to Mariano Rivera with a 6 run lead in the 9th. Disgraceful.

Jason, great header! The "blood-in-the-water two-run jack" was an all time BL elite status piece of writing. I really enjoyed the game and reading all the great BL comments. I like Cholly's new lineup and really enjoyed seeing Utley look like the Utley of old. JRoll, the Big Piece, Vic and Pense really look to be enjoying themselves.

The DVD recorder will be working on overtime tomorrow as I have to drive from New Orleans to Houston while the game is on. Bummer!

JW is a good writer.

I liked this from Shane, who apparently had the same reaction as us fans in the 1st inning:
“I was like, 'Damn,’ “ said Shane Victorino, recalling his thoughts as he watched Berkman’s drive sail out of the park.

I'm not sure there's anything more exciting to come from tonight's game than Utley racking up 3 hits, 2 of which were doubles. If he keeps this up throughout the postseason, in front of our 3-4-5, this team is just flat out dangerous.

Also, they just said on Sportscenter, the last pitcher to retire 21 straight batters in a postseason game was Don Larsen during his perfect game. Halladay is just unbelievable.

Cool, Fata. Must have really been something to be there tonight! I had to turn DOWN a ticket for tomorrow night's game due to not having anyone to stay with my kids. At times like that I have to remind myself that they'll be grown and gone one day. But still...

I agree that seeing Utley hit was very promising.

Good to see:
The Phillies were 6 for 10 with runners in scoring position.

* * *
Fun Chooch tidbit:

The Phils feel good about themselves, but there is still work to do as Spanish-speaking catcher Carlos Ruiz reminded his mates when he wrote the message “10 Mas” on the clubhouse white board.

* * *
(Quotes from a Jim Salisbury article at csnphilly.com)

Halladay's final line is very impressive, in my opinion:

8 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, 8 K, 1 BB

You know who would have absolutely loved to leave the game with that line?

Kyle Lohse

David Hale claims that was the first 3-run HR Halladay has given up since 2008. Fact is, if you go 8 IP and only give up 3 H while having an 8/1 K/BB ratio, you're going to be incredibly successful. Which Halladay was.

You know which one additional player would make this Cardinals team very scary? Adam Wainwright.

Pretty impressive that Halladay hadn't given up a 3-run HR in 3 years.

Found another fun Lee quote, on phillies.com:
"I know that the fans respect the way I play the game and respect the fact that I came back here and stuff like that -- and that's good," he said. "But I think what makes me is my ability to focus on what I'm doing and stay locked into the game and what I need to do to be successful, and I think the fans respect that."

Looking forward to tomorrow!

Thoughts from the game:

- Hit a ton of heavy rain on the way home. It would have completely changed the game if Halladay would have had to come out tonight in the 4th/5th due to rain.

- Halladay hung a sinker to Berkman. It was a poor choice. The book on Berkman is to jam him with cutters if you are a RHP. Halladay did that the rest of the night & Berkman was neutered.

- Crowd really got on Berkman tonight a couple of times in LF especially in the 7th inning when he put his glove up to his ear mocking the 'Berkman' chants. It only incensed them more.

- LaRussa was badly out managed tonight. He didn't have either lefty warming (or anyone for that matter) in the 6th despite the strong likelihood that Howard or Ibanez might come up.

Couple of other moves you can question too but the move to life Pujols for Laird in the 9th as a baserunner down 11-3 was one of the single dumbest moves I can remember in a postseason game.

It would have been delicious irony if the game had got to say 11-8 or 11-9 with Laird coming up instead of Pujols. Got close to fruition.

- Lohse's body language was clear as day after the Howard HR that he was done. Just kind of hunched on the mound. Something sabermetrics won't show you. Something a veteran manager like LaRussa should have seen.

- Lohse attacking the Phils' with first-pitch fastballs the first time through the lineup was brilliant. It got them behind early in the count, taking bad hack, and had them off-balance.

- Howard had his best game of the season. 2 great ABs against two very different pitchers (Lohse, Boggs).

Howard's defense tonight was as fluid at 1st base as it has been all season. Few days off looked like it helped him.

- Won't see Stutes again this postseason. It was hilarious to hear the callers on 610 calling to criticize Cholly for the move on the drive home.

'Ruined Stutes' confidence' my a$$. Stutes has struggled badly the last ~2 months & is a low leverage guy at this point.

LaRussa took Pujols out since his heal was hurting him. He didn't want him to hurt it further by running the bases. Also, LaRussa said Holliday might have hurt his finger some more during his AB. It will be interesting to see if he is in the line-up tomorrow.

"Something sabermetrics won't show you."

You know what else won't show you that?

Traditional statistics or the box score. Obviously managers need to be in tune with how their players look out there. Nobody who highly regards sabermetrics would ever claim otherwise.

The Berkman taunts were pretty silly at one point. One guy yelled at Berkman in the second inning that he was a "loser and should go back to Houston", to which I taunted this fan that, at the moment, Berkman's team was winning, and why in the hell should he go back to Houston? Didn't even make sense.

It was clear early on that the crowd was uncomfortable being in the hole, and almost didn't know how to handle it. Made the release that was prompted by the Howard home run all the more amplified.

MG, which section did you end up sitting in, anyhow?

I was in section 145, row 8. Great seats in left centerfield.

SLO Phan - Thanks. I couldn't understand LaRussa had made that move.

Fat - Section 141, Row 10. Good seats.

Well LaRussa is really gambling with Carpenter going tomorrow on short rest coming off a CG. Cards win tomorrow though & they are back in the driver's seat. Give the slight pitching edge to them in Game 4 and it would be a wash with Carpenter/Halladay in a possible Game 5.

MG, I think Garcia is pitching game 3.

So, the series matchups are probably:

Game 2: Lee vs. Carpenter (short rest)
Game 3: Garcia vs. Hamels
Game 4: Jackson (?) vs. Oswalt
Game 5: Carpenter vs. Halladay

I'd say Phils have advantage in every game.

Fatti, if the Phils have an advantage pitching wise it's only slight in a couple spots, and I'd argue that Garcia has had more success agaisnt the Phils recently than Hamels ahs had against the Redbirds. Hamels OPS against this season, against STL, is .815. Overall Hamels has done well against them, but I'm not ready to annoint him the favorite in that game.

If Carpenter is on his game he can pitch with Lee and Halladay. Period.

The question is which Lee, which Halladay, and which Capenter show up?

Big, I don't really much credence into the small sample sizes of how Garcia has fared against the Phillies. He's pitched just 30 innings against them in his career. You can't really draw any conclusions from that. That's not even 10% of his career total.

Fact is, Garcia has a career 115 ERA+ and just had a 102 ERA+ this season.

Hamels has a career 126 ERA+ and had a 138 ERA+ this year.

Even through the end of this third season (where Garcia is now), Hamels had a 132 ERA+.

Hamels is simply the better pitcher, and I'm inclined to give the advantage to the better pitcher every time, especially against similarly strong lineups.

Regarding the Oswalt/Jackson game, if Oswalt is the guy he was over his last few starts, hitting 93-94 on his fastball and not hanging his changeup and throwing a good curveball, that's a clear mismatch.

Sunday's game is key. If the Phils can beat Carpenter (STL's best pitcher), they are clearly in the driver's seat for this series.

Regarding the Carpenters/Lee matchup tomorrow:

Lee:
ERA/xFIP/SIERA: 2.40/2.68/2.57
SO/9: 9.21
BB/9: 1.62
GB%: 46.3%
WHIP: 1.027
OPS against: .607

Carpenter:
ERA/xFIP/SIERA: 3.45/3.31/3.35
SO/9: 7.24
BB/9: 2.05
GB%: 46.6%
WHIP: 1.256
OPS against: .669

Lee by a wide margin in this one.

Fat - If that is the case, I say wash in Game 3/5 with no idea in Game 4. It wouldn't surprise me if Oswalt pitched a gem or struggled to make it 6. Ditto Jackson.

As long as the Phils' starter goes 7 IP, this team is going to be tough to beat every game. Teams are going to need the long ball to beat them though. Don't BB that many guys, get their share of Ks, and tough to string together multiple hits vs. this lineup.

Team that wins first game is 29-3.

"... remember the at-bat where Ryno swatted off Kyle Lohse until he uncovered the pitch he wanted. If not for Howard, the game, and series, might have taken on a very different dynamic."

That's exactly what I'll remember most about last night's game. I seriously doubt Howard was thinking about his final AB of the '10 Postseason in the moment, but I'm almost certain he has been waiting for an opportunity just like the one he received in the 6th Inning ever since.

Also, it was heartening to see Utley get a few hits after a thoroughly miserable Sept. Watching him shorten up & single to CF was esp. impressive. Chase at even 75% of the production we had become so used to would be huge.

I would say that if we are able to win tonight and Tuesday that we have a good shot of taking the series.

Splitting up the LHBs allowed Howard to bat in the 7th against a RHB the bases loaded. You cannot underestimate how huge that is.

Thank god we have Pence.

Teams are going to need the long ball to beat them though.

Agree completely, which is why I'm a bit concerned about Hamels & (to a notably lesser extent) Lee. Both guys seem to be HR prone when their location is off, a problem which could be magnified when facing a team such as St. Louis. Makes not giving up BBs all the more important.

MG, Garcia was simply a league average pitcher this year, while Hamels was a legit Cy Young candidate for a large chunk of the year. Even if he wasn't his usual dominant self, he still had a 3.48 ERA after he came back from the DL, a .213 BAA, and a 4.33 SO/BB ratio, with a couple really dominant outings against some good lineups mixed in there. Jaime Garcia, on the other hand, posted a 3.56 ERA, a .273 BAA and a SO/BB ratio of 3.12. Even if Hamels isn't quite the same pitcher he was all season (and it seems to be a fluky spike in HR/FB ratio which is at fault), he's still been better than Garcia this year during his recent "poor" stretch.

Carpenter is not the same guy he was two years ago when he posted an NL leading 184 ERA+. Last year, it was down to 120 and this year, he only posted a 105 ERA+. Over the last two years, Doc has posted ERA+ of 167 and 164.

I just don't see how either game is a "wash". The Phillies have the inarguable better pitcher in every matchup the rest of the way.

Even Jackson/Oswalt is featuring a journeyman career 97 ERA+ pitcher against a guy who has flashed ace like stuff in his last two outings.

Stockton said we had a 'wire to wire season', 'never left first place all year' in their open. Who researches these things?

Good Morning!

Well, that was fun. I am too afraid of a jinx to comment on how the team looked last night...looking forward to seeing them again tonight!

Carpenter is a pretty great pitcher and I think on one hand that he can stay close with Lee in a playoff game. However, his greatness is probably going to be offset some by the fact that he is going on 3 days rest for the first time in his career.

The key should be getting a split for the Cards and i think LaRussa should've had Garcia in this spot and let Carp go on full rest in Game 3. At worst you are down 2-0 into that game and you are looking at Carp getting you a game.

"Give the slight pitching edge to them in Game 4 and it would be a wash with Carpenter/Halladay in a possible Game 5. "

Really?

Carpenter/Halladay a wash?

Really?

Ever see a horse do a chick? Cards are the chick.

The idea that Garcia/Hamels or Carpenter/Halladay are a wash is laughable. Two of those 4 pitchers will get Top 5 Cy Young votes this year.

Ever see a horse do a chick?

No

Carpenter is still a pretty good pitcher and probably the best current Cardinal starter. Fact is, though, he's simply not the same dominant force he was two years ago.

Lee and Halladay, though, are those dominant forces. Neither of them are being asked to go on short rest. They have been nasty this year.

Could Carpenter shut us down for 7-8 IP? Certainly. Is he as likely to do that as Doc/Lee is to do the same as the Cards. No.

Not saying Oswalt isn't better now or over the course of his career than Jackson (which he obviously has been), however I believe this would also qualify as "flashing ace like stuff": http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TBA/TBA201006250.shtml

The list of pitchers who've thrown a no-hitter is littered with marginal starters and also-rans.

Also, big difference between pitching in a game in middle of June and in the playoffs.

Also, Jackson had 8 friggin walks. I don't know that Oswalt has every had 8 walks over two straight starts combined.

Also funny about that boxscore: lists Tampa Bay as the "Devil Rays". Strange.

Yeah, totally. Obviously 8 walks is antithetical to "ace-like stuff," but Jackson's somewhat better than an marginal starter or an also-ran. However I fully expect our lineup to have him out by the 7th (should we even have to face him).

You can take the writer out of Philly, but you can’t take Philly out of the writer:

Phillies take punch, then fight back

IMHO, Stark’s the best baseball writer around.

I like reading Stark, and I liked that piece, but there's often too much drama in his writing.

Joe Posnanski is probably my favorite sports writer (including his baseball musings). Stark is up there, though.

LO -- One heck of a lot of drama in the past 5 years! First to 10,000 losses in pro sports, then redemption.

I hope like he88 Howard gets that ankle right in the off-season and takes another run at 60 next year. No greater thrill in sports than to see him turn on a meatball.

cut - you're exactly right. There's plenty of drama in the subject so no need to embellish as much as he does. Stark could make someone sneezing into an exciting story.

MG: A Game 5 matchup of Halladay against Carpenter would be a "wash?" I usually agree with your analysis, but that's one of the zanier statements ever made on Beerleaguer.

Has Carpenter ever pitched on 3 days rest? I recall reading he never has. If so, the most the cards can reasonably expect is 6 innings provided we show any type of patience in our ABs. Once their pen comes on, we own a very large advantage

That guy who wrote the SI article about Chooch consistently writes really really good pieces.

I'm not sure if Halladay/Carpenter being a 'wash' is zanier than Oswalt/Jackson being a slight edge for the Cardinals, but both statements are pretty stupid. MG clearly came back from the game still half in the tank.

Iceman, to be fair to MG, when he wrote that, I think MG was still under the impression that Garcia was pitching game 4.

LO -- that's a pretty good insight, and a comedy skit in waiting -- "Stark on Sneezing?" -- if there ever was one.

It's important to remember that coming into last night's game, Lohse had the second lowest OPS against vs. the Phillies. He had generally pitched very well against them. Didn't much matter last night. Small sample sizes in team/pitcher matchups have to be taken with a grain of salt.

When evaluating a matchup, and the differences in ability and year-long stat lines are disproportionate, it's always a wise bet to just simply give the edge to the better pitcher. The Phillies have that better pitcher in every game this series.

On the subject of Carpenter & shortened rest . . . many Phillies fans will recall that, in September, 2008, we were forced to start both Moyer & Myers on 3 days rest. Moyer pitched very serviceably & Myers pitched a CG masterpiece. But the next time out after that, both pitchers got completely bombed. In Myers' case, it was one of the worst outings of his career, if not the worst.

That could easily happen with Carpenter too. He could be good tonight, only to have the shortened rest catch up to him in Game 5 -- if there is a Game 5.

We bemoan his existence a lot on here, but credit where credit is due. Tom McCarthy's call from the radio on Howard's home run was really good. Kind of gave me chills. I do wish, though, I could have heard Franske call that one. Nothing beats Franske's call on the Jimmy Rollins walk off in 2009 NLCS.

Last post before I head over to a friend's to watch football all day and then the game tonight. Rafael Furcal has to be sick of seeing this team in the playoff's

And I love watching his teams get crushed by the Phils.

"Small sample sizes in team/pitcher matchups have to be taken with a grain of salt."

Agreed. Not to mention that pitchers who have developed a reputation as "Phillies killers" have often earned that reputation against very different lineups. The 4 Phillies' starting lineups that Garcia has dominated have included the likes of Schneider, Juan Castro, Mini-Mart, Jayson Werth, Valdez, Sardinha, and -- in 3 of the 4 game -- Ben Francisco. That said, not a one of our regulars has hit Garcia well when he has faced him.

I hope I got your vote now, whitey.

I luv the experts on this site tell me Stutes performance was a joke..Hey jackwads, if Capt America turns the dp like a real second basemane he probably gets out of the inning unscathed !!! I have much more patience with a guy that has the "STUFF" to pitch in the majors unlike the Kendricks / Herndons of the world who do not !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

More meaningless RBIs from the albatross.

Great article by Stark that captured the flavor of the game - at least for Phillies' fans.

Howard takes a lot of smacking around from fans, and the situation was almost too perfect. So great to see him come through. He had an intense look to him last night on TV.

Also great to see Utley hit like he did. If they both get in a groove, it will be a brutal series for whoever they are playing.

Thinking about Halladay's game. He made one huge mistake with that pitch to Berkman. Other than that, I only recall a couple of other balls that were even hit hard.

The leadoff hit was a chopped grounder that would have been an easy out if it were 5-10 feet in either direction. The walk to Pujols had most of the pitches right on the borderline and Halladay wasn't getting those calls. Intelligent pitching, tough calls, The third hit in the second inning was legit. Someone else smoked a ball that went right at Jimmy. And that was about it as far as I recall.

And add the pressure of knowing that he had NO margin for error after the first inning. Awesome, IMHO.

Top that, Cliff. And he just might.

Hamels/Garcia in Game 3

Hamels does have good career numbers vs Cards' hitters he would face especially against Pujols & Furcal. He hasn't pitched quite as well though since coming off the DL mainly due to the HRs allowed.

Hamels also isn't as good a pitcher on the road as at home. Every year he has had better splits at home including this year where his OPS was 60 pts lower than on the road (career difference of 43 pts). Every other stat was weaker on the road too.

Garcia is a much better pitcher at home and has good (albeit very small sample sizes) vs hitters in this lineup.

2 months ago prior to his injury I would have given advantage to Hamels especially at home. Being on the road though & with Hamels' HR issues since coming off the DL, I would say it is a wash. Maybe you give the slight edge due to Hamels' playoff experience & this being Garcia's first playoff start.

Dick Allen - So a guy who has really only has one pitch (a straight 93-94 4-seam fastball) with a below average slider & mediocre control is a MLB-caliber pitcher?

Sorry. He's not right now. If his slider improves, then sure he could be but he isn't there.

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