Previous month:
August 2011
Next month:
October 2011

Phillies-Cardinals: A look back at the season series

Posted by Kevin Durso

Philadelphia Phillies' Raul Ibanez hits a grand slam in the eighth inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, in Philadelphia. Philadelphia won 9-2 to clinch the NL East title. At right is Yadier Molina. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Raul Ibanez hit a grand slam in the Phillies' NL East clincher against the Cardinals on Sept. 17. (Courtesy of SI.com)

The Phillies and Cardinals faced off nine times, which is kind of unheard of for National League opponents, who usually see each other eight times at the most during the season. Those eight meetings weren’t the best for the Phillies, but with a closer look, you’ll see that the past really has no bearing on the present. Here then is a look back at the nine games between the Phillies and Cardinals this season.

May 16 – Cardinals 3, Phillies 1
An uncharacteristic performance by Cliff Lee cost the Phillies on this night. Lee only allowed three runs, but walked a career-high six batters, and the Phillies could only manage five hits. The Cardinals’ bullpen was sounder then, and the seven innings Jake Westbrook gave the Cards was plenty to avoid a bullpen collapse.

May 17 – Cardinals 2, Phillies 1
A shorthanded Phillies’ lineup, missing Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, Carlos Ruiz, and obviously Hunter Pence, managed just five hits. They could only manage an unearned run off Jaime Garcia in his eight innings pitched, on an eighth-inning sac fly. Roy Oswalt managed five innings of one-run ball, and turned things over to the bullpen. They did the job until the ninth, as Danys Baez loaded the bases, and J.C. Romero’s first pitch was lined into center field for a walk-off single.

June 21 – Phillies 10, Cardinals 2
The Phillies saw the first of the Cardinals’ struggling bullpen in this one. Mike Stutes allowed a seventh-inning run to give the Cardinals the lead, but the Phillies came back after starter Kyle McClellan left to score nine runs in the eighth.

June 22 – Phillies 4, Cardinals 0
Cliff Lee’s month was already off to a great start, but it just continued with a masterful start here. He allowed six hits in his second of three straight shutouts, while home runs from Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard were plenty for the Phillies on this night.

June 23 – Cardinals 12, Phillies 2
Roy Oswalt exited after two innings with an injury, and with the Phillies already down four runs, they were never in this one. Chris Carpenter cruised through seven innings and allowed just one run. Those four early runs didn’t completely hurt the Phillies, but Danys Baez allowed six runs in the eighth, as the Cardinals rolled.

September 16 – Cardinals 4, Phillies 2 F/11
The Cardinals and Phillies were locked in a close one the whole way. Yadier Molina hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth, but the Phillies tied it on a Cardinals’ error in the ninth. The Cardinals would score two off Michael Schwimer in the 11th, and the Phillies had no answer.

September 17 – Phillies 9, Cardinals 2
With the division title just a win away, the Phillies jumped to a 3-0 lead, and held it the whole way. Roy Oswalt threw seven shutout innings, before the Cardinals scored two off Mike Stutes in the eighth. The Phillies answered with six runs in the eighth, capped by Raul Ibanez’ grand slam, and the Phillies rolled to the division title.

September 18 – Cardinals 5, Phillies 0
With several Phillies sitting out the Sunday night affair the day after the division was clinched, the Cardinals jumped on Cole Hamels for four runs. The Phillies couldn’t score anything off Carpenter, and dropped this one.

September 19 – Cardinals 4, Phillies 3
Roy Halladay allowed two early runs and the Phillies never bounced back. They would score two in the ninth to make things interesting, but the offensive struggles just continued as the Phils dropped the series.


LaRussa's Puzzling Playoff Rotation: A Smart Move?

Posted by Mike Frohwirth

Chris_Carpenter

When St. Louis Cardinals Manager Tony LaRussa announced his postseason pitching rotation, there was jubilation- among the Phillies' fanbase. As Cardinals' ace Chris Carpenter pitched in the division-clinching win on Wednesday, he will be unable to pitch until Game 3. But LaRussa also made the surprising move of holding his 2nd best starter, lefthander Jaime Garcia, until Game 4. Given that this is a five-game series, LaRussa faces the possibility of not even being able to use his #2 starter. Is this a case of LaRussa being "too smart for his own good", or has his selected pitching order actually increased his team's chances of winning the series?

Some important business, before we look at some numbers:

  • The Phillies have a sizeable starting pitching advantage over St. Louis. All LaRussa can look to do is to attempt to minimize this advantage. THERE IS NO PITCHING ORDER LARUSSA CAN USE, THAT WILL GIVE THE CARDINALS THE STARTING PITCHING ADVANTAGE.
  • There is a lot of randomness inherent in a short playoff series. The "better" team won't win every series, in fact the "better" team might win the series just 55-65% of the time.
  • If the Cards win the series, it doesn't "prove" that LaRussa chose the right pitching order. Likewise, if the Cards lose the series, it doesn't necessarily mean LaRussa's pitching order was poorly-chosen.

Let's look at the Cards' "ideal" pitching rotation (The order that pitches the "best" available pitchers (no short-rest starts) as soon as possible, and as often as possible.):

"Ideal" Rotation

Game 1: Halladay v. Lohse at PHI Guesstimated STL Win Probability: 35%

Game 2: Lee v. Garcia at PHI Guesstimated STL Win Probability: 40%

Game 3: Hamels v. Carpenter at STL Guesstimated STL Win Probability: 55%

Game 4: Oswalt v. Jackson at STL Guesstimated STL Win Probability: 55%

Game 5: Halladay v. Garcia at PHI Guesstimated STL Win Probability: 40%

So, what's the probability that the Cardinals win at least three of these games? Well, it's easier to figure out the probability that the Phillies win two games or less, so let's calculate that probability.

P (Two PHI wins or less)= P (Zero PHI wins) + P (One PHI Win) + P (Two PHI Wins)

P (Zero PHI wins)= P(Loss, Loss, Loss)= (.35)(.40)(.55)= .077, or 7.7%

P (One PHI win)= P(Win, Loss, Loss, Loss) + P (Loss, Win, Loss, Loss) + P (Loss, Loss, Win, Loss)

=(.65)(.40)(.55)(.55) + (.35)(.60)(.55)(.55) + (.35)(.40)(.45)(.55)

=.079 + .064 + .035= .178, or 17.8%

P (Two PHI wins) = P (WWLLL) + P (WLWLL) + P (LWWLL) + P (LLWWL)

=.047 + .026 + .025 + .011= .109, or 10.9%

So, the P (STL wins series, with "ideal" rotation)= .077 + .178 + .109 = .364, or 36.4%

We've determined that the "ideal" rotation gives St. Louis a 36.4% chance of winning the series. Are they better off with the pitching rotation LaRussa has chosen?

Selected Rotation:

Game 1: Halladay v. Lohse at PHI Guesstimated STL Win Probability: 35%

Game 2: Lee v. Jackson at PHI Guesstimated STL Win Probability: 35%

Game 3: Hamels v. Carpenter at STL Guesstimated STL Win Probability: 55%

Game 4: Oswalt v. Garcia at STL Guesstimated STL Win Probability: 60%

Game 5: Halladay v. Lohse at PHI Guesstimated STL Win Probability: 35%

Once again,

P (Two PHI wins or less)= P (Zero PHI wins) + P (One PHI Win) + P (Two PHI Wins)

P (Zero PHI wins)= P(Loss, Loss, Loss)= (.35) (.35) (.55) = .067, or 6.7%

P (One PHI win)= P(Win, Loss, Loss, Loss) + P (Loss, Win, Loss, Loss) + P (Loss, Loss, Win, Loss)

=(.65)(.35)(.55)(.60) + (.35)(.65)(.55)(.60) + (.35)(.35)(.45)(.60)

=.075 + .075 + .033 = .183, or 18.3%

P (Two PHI wins) = P (WWLLL) + P (WLWLL) + P (LWWLL) + P (LLWWL)

= .049 + .021 + .021 + .008 = .099, or 9.9%

So, the P (STL wins series, with the selected rotation)= .067 + .183 + .099 = .349, or 34.9%

Takeaways

  • The "Guesstimated Win Probabilities" are guesses. Pretty much just looked at pitching matchups/ballparks, and made them up. But even when homefield advantage and pitching matchup are both heavily tilted in one team's direction, the underdog still has, perhaps, a one-in-three chance of winning a single game. The effects of randomness are much more powerful than most suspect. (This randomness is how pitchers as skilled as Cole Hamels wind up with a 74-54 lifetime record (57.8% Win Pct.). Winning percentage is not a good stat to judge an individual pitcher's abilities, but it does serve to illustrate the fact that randomness, as well as factors unrelated to the choice of starting pitcher, weigh heavily in final outcomes).
  • With the information we have, LaRussa is better off giving Garcia (his second best pitcher) two starts, rather than giving Lohse two starts. (There may be information we do not have, however. Or, maybe LaRussa feels that, under the current circumstances, Lohse is a better pitcher than Garcia.)
  • LaRussa appears to be trading a better chance at winning a possible Game 5, for a better chance at getting to a Game 5. (Given that the Phillies are favored, reducing the series to a single game, and hoping randomness is on St. Louis' side at the end, seems a viable strategy.)
  • LaRussa's strategy could be to "steal" one of the first two games, then hope to win the series in four games (with relatively advantageous matchups in Game 3 and Game 4).
  • LaRussa may have additional information that he factored into his Win Probability calculations. (What will the availability/effectiveness of injured players Matt Holliday and Rafael Furcal be, particularly early in the series? Will the additional rest for Garcia, who has already thrown thirty more innings than in 2010, tilt the win probabilities further in St. Louis' direction? Perhaps he sees an advantage to keeping Garcia away from CBP? Perhaps Garcia is even fighting an injury concern?)

Conclusion

LaRussa's strategy may, or may not, be a smart one. It may, or may not, be successful in the one five-game series being played. But it doesn't appear to be a stupid strategy, as the current popular opinion appears to be. Plus, there very may well be more factors that LaRussa is considering, of which we are currently unaware.


Road to the Show goes through Redbirds #Phillies #StlCardinals

Posted by Kevin Durso

Philliedelphia/Kevin Durso

The Phillies had a choice, play the Cardinals and get the franchise record, and manager record for Charlie Manuel, or fold for the Braves and see what a one-game playoff got you. The Phillies grabbed the record, and now they get the Cardinals in the NLDS.

The St. Louis Cardinals were baseball's hottest team in September. They finished their season with an 18-8 month, but won 16 of their last 21. They are a red hot team, but as the month drew to a close, they proved to be beatable. They narrowly escaped two close games against the Cubs. They also dropped an extra-inning game to the Astros earlier this week. With the right stuff, you can beat this team.

Looking at the Cardinals' offense, there are three threats. One of them might not even be playing. Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman have been the driving forces of this offense.

Pujols finished the season hitting .299 with 37 home runs and 99 RBIs. He also overcame a wrist injury in mid-July, that the Cardinals survived.

Berkman had MVP numbers in the first half before cooling a bit. Still, he finished with a .301 average with 31 home runs and 94 RBIs.

The third guy is Matt Holliday, who has played just four games since September 13, is still a questionable piece to the Cardinals' lineup. If he plays, add in one more threat - Holliday hit .296 with 22 home runs and 75 RBIs. If he doesn't, the Phillies catch a break.

Regardless, the Cardinals also add in Allen Craig, Rafael Furcal, Jon Jay, Ryan Theriot, Yadier Molina, and more with their potent offense. Furcal's status is questionable for the series as well, but anything goes in the Postseason.

From a pitching standpoint, the Cardinals offer ace Chris Carpenter, but he just pitched the Cardinals into the Postseason with a two-hitter. His next start will likely be Game 3 of this series. Jaime Garcia is another threat, but rumor has it that he won't start until Game 4. Game 1 will feature Kyle Lohse. Game 2's starter is currently Edwin Jackson. Either way, the starting pitching is only as good as the distance they take the Cardinals before turning games over to the shaky bullpen, which lacks a true closer. With that, here's the predictions of all the Philliedelphia writers.

Predictions:

Kevin Durso: Phillies in 4

The Phillies are sending their two best out against two average names. A few runs early to calm the nerves and put all the pressure on the Cardinals should do the trick. You can forget the past. Losing six of nine to the Cardinals this season isn't the same. Chase Utley was out for the two-game series in May. The Phillies took two of three from the Cardinals in a June series in St. Louis. The two teams' most recent meeting was just two weeks ago, where the Cardinals took three of four. That series featured no Ryan Howard for three games, no Hunter Pence for two games, and one game we can call the division hangover. Things are different this time around.

The Phillies right away have the pitching edge. The offense will be the key. A few runs and around seven solid innings from the starter could get the Phillies right where they want to be. Add in home field for Games 1 and 2 and there's no doubt the Phillies should end the weekend just a win away from their fourth straight trip to the NLCS. The Phillies won't take it immediately with Carpenter pitching, but expect them to come back the next day with the clincher.

Adam Gonsiewski: Phillies in 4

The Phillies have the better starting pitching; the Cardinals have a better offense. Based on this, I think that every game will be close when the starters exit the game, making this a battle of the bullpens. If the Phillies can keep it close through seven, they will take advantage of a weak Cardinals' bullpen late in games. The last six outs of a game are even tougher to come by in Postseason play, and this works in the Phils' favor.

Danielle Wilson: Phillies in 3

The Cardinals are missing two big pieces to the lineup - Matt Holliday and Rafael Furcal, both of whom have hit pretty well against the Phils' starters this season, especially Cliff Lee, the Game 2 starter. Without them, the Cardinals should see a decrease in runs scored, which is huge for the Phillies, who tend to come up short at times. As long as Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Cole Hamels pitch as well as they have all season, and the lineup hits as well as they did against the Braves, the NLDS should be smooth sailing.

Stephen Gallo: Phillies in 5

I see a close, back-and-forth series. The Cardinals' pitching lines up pretty good against the Phils, but nothing compares to this Phillies' rotation. The Phils may not have the best numbers against the Cards' staff, but Hunter Pence is familiar with their staff and will lead this team to a series victory. The Phillies did the Cardinals a huge favor by sweeping the Braves to end the regular season. Expect them to take that favor right back by ending the Cardinals' season.

Christina Angelos: Phillies in 4

St. Louis doesn't have the pitching to keep up with Philadelphia's big 4 aces: Halladay, Lee, Hamels (even if Oswalt is not used in this series). As for the bullpens, I believe the Phillies do have an advantage. The Cardinals' bullpen is not known for being one of the best in the National League.
Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman give the Cardinals a possible advantage offensively, but they will be without Holliday and Furcal. However, the Phillies are not the same offense as they once were, but they are known for coming back in games. And the Phillies have advantage of being capable with speed on the bases. The Cardinals are not known for the stealing bases - they have stolen fewer bases than any club - but they also have an MLB-low success rate of 59 perfect—worst than any team.

Frank Klose: Cardinals in 3

The Phillies can't beat them. 

This is a joke.  Many talked about how the Phillies should let the Braves beat them so they would not have to face the Cardinals.   However, if the Phillies really are the best team, no team should scare them.   I can easily see Halladay and Lee winning the first two home games.  I'm a little nervous about Cole Hamels in game three; down the stretch he was not his former dominant self.  However, Roy Oswalt should pick them up in Game 4.  Matt Holliday is out of the lineup, at least for now, and the Phillies' starting pitching should take care of the offense.   Phillies in 4.


Baseball Heaven: Remembering the greatest night of baseball in our lives

Posted by Kevin Durso

 Members Of The Atlanta Braves Watch Play In The 13th Inning Against The Philadelphia Phillies At Turner Field On

The Atlanta Braves were just one of two teams to see a huge wildcard lead vanish on the season's final day. (Courtesy of Yahoo.com)

“Baseball is just a game, as simple as a ball and bat, yet as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes. A sport, a business and sometimes almost even a religion. This is a game for America. Still a game for America, this baseball!”

That great line from Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell may just be the place to begin in this captivating novel that was on Sept. 28, 2011.

For many, baseball’s greatest moments have come before our time. For me, born January, 1992, I didn’t see Kirk Gibson’s magical Game 1 World Series walk-off. I didn’t what Vin Scully described as “a million words” in the Red Sox 1986 collapse in the Fall Classic. I didn’t see Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in the deciding Game of the 1977 World Series.

On a more local note, I didn’t see the two great pennant runs of the 80s. I didn’t see Black Friday. I didn’t see the collapse of 1964. But I’m pretty sure I got a taste of all of them last night, starting with a record-setting night in Atlanta, followed by a historic night for baseball.

Four games were on the forefront of the baseball schedule last night. The Phillies and Braves were playing a game that had different meanings. The Phillies were one win away from a franchise record, but that was all the meaning behind Game #162. The Braves were fighting for their playoff lives. The Red Sox were fighting for their playoff lives against the Orioles. The Rays were doing the same against the Yankees. The Cardinals were doing the same against the Astros.

The first three games listed all started at 7 p.m. last night, the Cardinals and Astros kicked off play at 8 p.m. Those first three games to start were the last three games to end. Two of them went extra innings. All three ended with a win in the final inning.

The only one that lacked drama was the Cardinals’ 8-0 massacre of the lowly Astros. The Phillies and Braves played into the night, both knowing their fate. Braves win, and baseball has a one-game playoff. Braves lose, and they end their season. They were two outs away from that one-game playoff. Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel had been the force that drove teams to leave empty-handed in the late innings all season. Venters barely escaped a bases loaded jam in the eighth. Kimbrel couldn’t escape his in the ninth, as the Phillies tied the game on a sac fly. The Braves didn’t have many threats late, but a few close plays said otherwise. Chipper Jones sent one to the warning track in the 10th, barely flagged down by Michael Martinez to end the inning. A weak roller off the bat of Martin Prado in the 12th nearly ended things. The Phillies nabbed a two-out run in the 13th, and held off a Braves’ chance in the bottom of the 13th with a game-ending double play. Braves’ season over, Cardinals coming to a ballpark near you for the NLDS.

In the course of one month, the Braves had an 8 ½ game lead over the Cardinals in the wildcard vanish, and they get to sit on it for the offseason.

In the American League, the same thing was happening to the Boston Red Sox. A nine-game lead in the wildcard had vanished into a tie with the division rival Rays on the season’s final day. For seven innings of both games, everything was going according to plan for the Boston Red Sox. They held a 3-2 lead when rain came to Camden Yards, and the Rays were in a 7-0 hole to the Yankees. The delay lasted an hour, 26 minutes, but that was enough to change the Red Sox season.

The Rays came back on some shaky pitching to score three runs with the bases loaded, one each on a walk, hit batter, and sac fly respectably. Evan Longoria provided the fireworks, belting a three-run shot to make it a one-run game. One inning later, Dan Johnson showed everyone what a little October magic is all about. Johnson entered his ninth-inning at-bat with a .119 batting average. Down to the final strike in their season, Johnson got a hold of a 2-2 fastball, and hooked it just fair, just over the right field fence. Tie game.

Back to Baltimore, where the Red Sox returned from their rain delay with a one-run lead. Their season was one out away from continuing. The Red Sox had also never lost a game they led entering the ninth inning all season. So, in Game #162, a double by Chris Davis, a ground-rule double by Nolan Reimold, and a single by Robert Andino, and by the pictures alone, you’d have swore that Orioles were going to the playoffs. All they did was force the Red Sox to hold their breath. That run crossed the plate at 12:02 a.m. Evan Longoria followed three minutes later with the hit that might as well have gone 500 feet. It barely cleared the short left field wall, 315 feet away, on a line. Tampa Bay went crazy, and the Rays had stunned to win the wildcard, with the heavily-favored Red Sox dealing with a long offseason. Just over five hours after everything started, this greatest night in baseball history, featuring two comebacks in the standings, three late-game wins, and all sorts of goose bump-worthy moments was over.

Baseball has always been the same barring a few minimal changes. One rule change looming was the possibility of moving to a ten-team playoff, bringing two wildcard teams into the Postseason. Based on last night alone, baseball doesn’t need it. Eight teams is enough, and the excitement of the Postseason is just increased by the excitement of the final days of the season. If you weren’t a baseball fan before, last night may have made a believer out of you. If you were a baseball fan already, last night reminded you why we watch this game. In the end, you certainly weren’t worried about the Phillies’ opponent just days from now. You were rooting for the franchise record. You were rooting for the underdog. You were rooting for David to beat Goliath. Unleash all the clichés, because they all fit.

This is why we watch baseball. This is why it is still America’s game. Last night found you rooting for teams you didn’t watch at all this season. Last night had you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Last night had you remembering what it was like to watch your first game, because you were witnessing something unprecedented in baseball history. Every true baseball fan will never forget this night. It just so happened to be the perfect way to usher in the playoffs.


Record-breaking Finale: Phils get Franchise Record in Marathon Win; (Braves Fan Crying Included)

Posted by Kevin Durso

Crying_Braves_Fan
The Phillies' franchise-record 102nd win of the season, ended the Atlanta Braves push for a playoff spot.

Even in Game #162, baseball wouldn't go down without a fight. So, as the innings carried on, the excitement level just continued to pick up. This was as close to a Postseason preview as you could get. In the end, the Braves' playoff hopes rested on two outs. They couldn't get them. That allowed the Phillies to get one last chance at the franchise record. Let's just say this time, it is all in the Cards.

The Phillies were on the board right away, as Ryan Howard delivered an RBI double in the first to give the Phils the early lead.

The Braves tied it right up off Joe Blanton, as Chipper Jones lifted a sac fly to left to tie things up.

The Phillies used Joe Blanton for just two innings, and he allowed the one run. After that, they turned to Cole Hamels for three innings. He made one mistake, an 0-2 fastball to Dan Uggla which was belted out to left, giving the Braves the lead.

The Phillies slowly but surely made things interesting. A sure-fire double play ball took a hop off Jack Wilson in the seventh off the bat of Carlos Ruiz. That error allowed Raul Ibanez to score.

In the eighth, the Phillies managed to load the bases in the eighth off Jonny Venters, but Ibanez struck out to strand them loaded.

In the ninth, the Phillies were able to force another rally, loading the bases with one out for Chase Utley off Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel allowed a sac fly to Utley, tying the game.

From there, both teams went back and forth for three extra innings, right through the 10th, 11th, and 12th. In the 13th, the Phillies managed a little magic. Brian Schneider worked a one-out walk. Chase Utley kept things going with a two-out single. Hunter Pence followed with a little "big" hit, putting a grounder into no-man's land, allowing Schneider to score.

David Herndon came on for the bottom of the 13th. The Phillies already had scoreless innings out of Vance Worley, Brad Lidge, Ryan Madson, Mike Stutes, a pair from Michael Schwimer, and one more from Justin De Fratus. Herndon was one of the only options left. He allowed a one-out walk to put the tying run on. The next batter was Freddie Freeman, and he grounded into the game-ending 3-6-3 double play to give the Phillies a new franchise record 102 wins, with a 4-3 triumph in 13 innings.

Already known was how the Cardinals fared. In Houston, St. Louis rolled to an 8-0 win, which means that on that double play, the Braves' season is over, and the Phillies open their playoff schedule with the Cardinals in the NLDS on Saturday.

This game was about as close to a Postseason game as you could get. Both teams played a hard-fought game, and it really came down to the end. This game left you feeling like both teams would be out with a loss. The Phillies had nothing to lose. They just didn't play like it. What wasn't there just four days ago appears to be back. The timely hits, the clutch pitching, it was all there. And now, it just has to carry over for 11 more wins.

The numbers from an individual standpoint don't even matter, because the individual numbers will count for so much more in the Postseason. But tonight was about one team, the 2011 Phillies, who will always be remembered as the greatest Phillies team in history for what they did in 162 games. What they do in the next 11 or so is going to be more important, and ultimately tell where they rank in franchise history, but on this night, just celebrate the greatest Phillies' season in nearly 130 years.

Two personal milestones were reached tonight as well. Charlie Manuel won his 646th game as Phillies manager, making him the all-time winningest manager in franchise history. Compare that to young Justin De Fratus, who will now cement a place in Phillies' history for being the winning pitcher of win #102. It just happened to be the first of his career.

Now, the Phillies have reached that next step, and with the excitement level at an all-time high, it should be a great ride. The Postseason begins in just three days. Phillies Network will have a whole lot more in that time, so stay tuned.


Cliff Lee and Ryan Madson: Cover Boys

Posted by Stephen Gallo

As we all watch Game #162 tonight, and anxiously wait to see who the Phillies NLDS opponent will be, it appears Sports Illustrated is ready to roll out their latest issue with a big spotlight on our Phils.

Seen below is the newest cover, featuring ace Cliff Lee and our soon to be free agent closer, Ryan Madson.

1997 

Although game times are still up in the air for the first round playoff games, I know we're all thinking the same thing. Is it Saturday yet?


Throw #Phillies Pitcher Roy Halladay a Bone: Give Him a 20th Win If the Opportunity Presents Itself

Halladay

Heading into the game 161 of the 1997 season, Randy Johnson sat at 19-4 for the first place Seattle Mariners, and he was not scheduled to start again before the playoffs.  What a shame, it seemed, that Johnson could end the season down one victory from the magic number of 20.

Omar Olivares started that day, and after four innings the Mariners were up 8-2.

The pitcher who finishes the fifth inning ends up as the pitcher of record.  So, manager Lou Piñella sent in Randy Johnson for the fifth and sixth innings.  Johnson gave up two hits, and allowed no runs.

Winning pitcher that day? Randy Johnson.

The Phillies are in a curious position.  Joe Blanton is the starting pitcher.   However, he has not pitched more than two innings in any game since returning from the injury.  Tonight's game should be no different.   Blanton will pitch two innings, followed by a parade of relievers.

So, should the opportunity present itself, Charlie Manuel should strategically place Roy Halladay in a game to have the opportunity to win his 20th.

Clayton Kershaw may have wrapped up the Cy Young with his 21st victory of the year, but it would look nice on Halladay's resume as he builds up with is potentially a Hall of Fame career.

This Team Was GOOD?

Speaking of the 1997 Mariners, the team featured the following former Phillies:

  • Jamie Moyer
  • Norm Charlton
  • Omar Olivares
  • Heathcliff Slocumb
  • Norm Charlton
  • Paul Spoljaric
  • Mike Timlin
  • Rob Ducey
  • Raul Ibañez
  • Lee Tinsley
  • John Marzano (Johnny Marz only played for AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre in Phillies organization)

Then and Now: Kyle Calder

[caption id="attachment_4667" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to USA Today"][/caption]

Michal Handzus has had six seasons of at least 30 points in his last eight NHL seasons. In his three years with the Flyers he totaled 146 points during the regular season along with 20 points in the playoffs.

Although these are impressive stats, in 2006 Flyers' GM Bob Clarke decided to make a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks. Coming off a 26-goal season and serving as an alternate captain with the Hawks, Kyle Calder made his way to Philly. The 27-year-old played less than 60 games for his second NHL team and had the misfortune of taking part in the Flyers' worst season in franchise history.

It's been over four years since Calder has been in the Orange and Black. Let's take a look at Calder's experience in multiple leagues since his time with Philadelphia.

Calder's tenure lasted all of 59 games during the 2006-07 season. He recorded nine goals and 12 assists. He managed to post a two-goal game in January against the Washington Capitals. Unfortunately, it didn't matter as the Caps destroyed the Flyers 6-2. Calder also managed to score four goals in a five-game span in late December-early January of that season. His last goal as a Flyer came on February 19 against the Boston Bruins, a game where he'd also have two assists and earn the second star as the Bruins won 6-3 (go to 1:58).
Thanks to NHL Video

One week after his three-point game against the Bruins, Calder found himself back in Chicago. Traded for defenseman Lasse Kukkonen and a third-round pick in the 2007 draft (with which the Flyers chose Garrett Klotz), Calder returned to the team that drafted him in 1997, but he didn't stay there long. Later that day, Calder was flipped to the Detroit Red Wings for Jason Williams.

Seemingly not phased by the trades, Calder made an instant impact for the Red Wings. In his first game for the Wings, Calder scored a goal against the Blackhawks on his first shift of the game and added an assist later on. He'd play 18 more games for the Wings to finish out the season posting four more goals and eight more assists.
Thanks to NHL Video   

Finishing at the top of the Western Conference, the Wings eliminated the eighth-seeded Calgary Flames in six games. Calder posted his only point of the postseason in Game 6 as he had the secondary assist on Johan Franzen's series-winning goal in double overtime. It was his last point in the NHL playoffs (go to 2:38).
Thanks to NHL Video

The Red Wings went on to win the Western Conference Semifinals beating the San Jose Sharks in six games advancing to the Western Conference Finals. Detroit lost to the Anaheim Ducks in six games as Calder only played in eight of the Wings' final 12 games.

This marked the end of his time in Detroit as Calder signed a two-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings in July of 2007. His first year in Los Angeles wasn't noteworthy as he had seven goals and 13 assists in 65 games while missing nearly ten games due to a fractured thumb. The Kings, who also had former Flyers Jaroslav Modry and, ironically, Michal Handzus, finished last in the Western Conference while the Red Wings went on to win the 2008 Stanley Cup without the help of Calder.

[caption id="attachment_4668" align="aligncenter" width="150" caption="Thanks to Wikipedia"][/caption]

Joined by rookie forward Wayne Simmonds and veteran Sean O'Donnell, Calder was able to post moderately better numbers for the Kings in his second season with the club. Playing in nine more games (74), Calder had one more goal (8), six more assists (19), seven more points (27), and 23 more PIM (41) in the 2008-2009 season than he did the previous year. In addition, Calder's only game-winning goal in 139 appearances with the Kings came on February 5 in a 5-4 win over the Washington Capitals (go to 4:35).
Thanks to NHL Video

Despite Calder's improvement in play the Kings missed the playoffs for a second straight year with Calder on the roster and a sixth straight year overall.

After the 2008-2009 season, the Kings decided not to resign Calder leaving him searching for a job for the 2009-2010 campaign. Ultimately, Calder was invited to the Ducks' training camp in mid-September. Originally being cut by the Ducks in late September, Calder was resigned by Anaheim in late October. Instead of being on the NHL roster Calder was sent down to the Bakersfield Condors, Anaheim's ECHL affiliate.

[caption id="attachment_4669" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to Zimbio"][/caption]

Playing in five games with the Condors, Calder had three goals and three assists before being recalled to the Ducks' roster in mid-November. In Anaheim, Calder played in fourteen games displaying horrible numbers. With no goals and just two assists, Calder posted a minus-7.

His less than exemplary work led to his placement on waivers where he was assigned to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. In 40 games for the Marlies, Calder had 14 goals and 16 assists.

Posting six points in five games for them in 2009, the Bakersfield Condors decided to resign Calder for the 2010-2011 season. In another five-game stint for the Condors, Calder had three goals and four assists before leaving for Barys Astana of the Kontinental Hockey League.

[caption id="attachment_4670" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Thanks to Pro Hockey News"][/caption]

In 13 games with his new team, Calder had three goals and four assists adding on an assist in the playoffs.

Calder was not resigned by Barys Astana due to an incident during their playoff series with AK Bars Kazan.

Currently a free agent, the future doesn't look too bright for the 32-year-old Alberta native. His last goal in the NHL was in the 2008-2009 season, he hasn't broken the 30-point plateau in the NHL since his days with the Blackhawks, and he hasn't scored a goal in the NHL playoffs since 2002. At 32-years-old, Calder's best chance at still playing professionally is in the AHL or KHL with a team that's able to put aside his drunken incident with Barys Astana.


Utley, Pence, and Rollins Swing for the Fences in 7-1 Win over Braves

Posted by Danielle Wilson

Pantaloons
Photo courtesy of SI.com

8-Game losing streak? Ha! I barely remember it. The Phillies have been playing hard so far in this series, with the offense that we all expect, and the pitching that we all love to see.

Chase Utley got the ball rolling tonight with a solo home run in the first inning. It was his third since July 29th.

In the top of the third, Jimmy Rollins singled to right to score Carlos Ruiz. Following that, Hunter Pence popped up a sacrifice fly to score Roy Oswalt. 3-0 Phils. In the fourth, Shane Victorino cruised home on Placido Polanco's sac fly, extending the lead to 4-0. Derek Lowe had already been removed from the game at this point. Another rough outing against the Phillies for Lowe.

With Jimmy Rollins on base in the fifth, Hunter Pence completely annihilated a baseball stretching the already comfortable lead to 6-0.

Roy Oswalt was absolutely dealing, flashing his best stuff on the mound tonight. Through six, little Roy had allowed just three hits. He tossed 85 pitches total this evening, walking one and striking out four. Needless to say, he was in postseason mode.

Just for the hell of it, Jimmy Rollins crushed a home run to right field, giving the Phillies a 7-0 lead in the seventh inning. Joe Savery came in to pitch the bottom of the inning, and retired the side perfectly, striking out Brian McCann in the process.

For the first time in a long time, Antonio Bastardo had it tonight. He pitched a scoreless eighth inning, striking out Michael Bourn to end it.

With a 7-0 lead going into the ninth, Kyle Kendrick came in to close it out. Martin Prado put the Braves on the board with a lead off, solo homer to left field. However, Kendrick sent down the rest of the order, helping the Phils with win number 101.

With tonight's win, the 2011 Phillies have tied the franchise record in wins with 101, Charlie Manuel is now tied with Gene Mauch for winningest manager for the Phils (645), and the Braves will have to keep fighting for their lives to make it to the postseason.

Tomorrow night, the Phillies will look for win number 102, which will be the most wins in franchise history. Joe Blanton takes the hill tomorrow against Tim Hudson in what will hopefully be a series sweep in the last series of the regular season. This is the end, folks, until October, that is.