Tagged: Chase Utley

27?

With a solid performance from Andy Pettitte in game 4 the Yankees are in superb position for a 27th World Champoionship. Both offenses were good last night, each having their ups and downs but the Yankees had more ups than the Phils and took a 3-1 lead in the series.

It was obviously set to go in favor of the Yankees with Pettitte going against Joe Blanton who statistically had no chance against the Yankee lineup.  He held his own and didn’t totally blow it but it definitely wasn’t enough for the Phillies as Pettitte was phenominal.

Game 2 of the series seemed to be dominated by AJ Burnett and his curveball… not to mention his fastball and his other dominating pitches.  Burnett was able to keep the Yankees in the series with a key victory in game 2 and sent the series to Philly even.  If Burnett can come up with another huge performance like in game 2, the Yankees will walk away with this series.  And who though the Yankees had no chance when they lost a game at home.  They are also a very good road team and it proved the last to games as they took their second and third straight wins in the series on the road in Citizens Bank Park.

How about A-Rod?  He’s come up huge these past couple games.  Despite the being hit by pitch twenty gazillion times (I hope you realize I am exaggerating) he has played a very big role in the offense the past two games.  He hit a key homer in the game 3 off the camera in right field that had to be reviewed before being called a homer.  He also came up with some other key at bats.  He has seemed to be getting back into the form he was in earlier in the playoffs.

Derek Jeter… can he get any better?  He hasn’t done anything spectacular this World Series but honestly, you can’t get away with him.  He’s just that good.  His presence alone has helped the Yankees win games.  He has consistently gotten on base and has scored runs.  Speaking of getting on base and scoring runs, Johnny Damon had a great game last night including two steals on the same play.  He stole second and took advantage of his speed by gettign to third which was uncovered.  Great heads up baserunning which really cost the Phillies a run later in the game.  The Yankees have seemed to be getting back into the swing of things all around as the whole team has been rolling smoothly.

Now, since the end of the series is  coming up soon, you have to be thinking MVP.  Well, if the Yankees win it, I’m going to have to give it to AJ Burnett.  Now, the series is not over yet and tonight’s start could change my whole mindset about this choice, but if he is as good as he was in game 2 and the Yankees win, Burnett would be my choice.  Two phenominal starts with dominating stuff.  Two wins.  How can you go by that when choosing an MVP?

Now, I don’t like to have to think this but if the Phillies win, I would probably choose between Chase Utley, who has been killing the ball lately, or Jayson Werth who has equally destroyed the ball this series.  Both have had a major power surge and Jayson Werth has made some plays in the outfield to keep runners from moving forward with his strong arm.

This series is finally getting to the point where both offenses have broken out with a fair share of good pitching.  It is what I expected it to be and hopefully the Yankees can come out on top quickly tonight.  It wouldn’t be the worst thing if we lost tonight but to win it soon would be fantastic.  It would be nice to win in New York but the sooner the better is the way I see it.  No chances.

The one key to tonight’s game is Cliff Lee.  Can he shut down the Yankees streaking offense or will he get run over as Blanton and Hamels have the past two games?

I spy a 27th championship for the Yankees right around the corner.

-Dillon

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Where’s the Offense

Chase Utley hit two home runs.  Big whoop! These two teams are the two most powerful offenses in the MLB and all that really happened was one guy hit a couple homers.  Very disappointing.

The Phils took game one simply because of the lack of offensive production from the Yankees offense.  The Phils got their two runs from Chase Utley who took CC Sabathia out of the park on a few bad pitches by CC.  It is a tough game one loss for Yankees fans because who knows if we will be able to take a game in Philly. The home field advantage will be very important in this series and the fact that we already lost a game at home might come back to bite us in the butt.

Honestly, I was very disappointed at the lack of excitement in this series so far.  CC really didn’t pitch all that badly but the couple mistakes he made hurt him.  Other than that, he and Cliff Lee were phenominal and I’m not taking anything away from them.  The offenses in this series are really what is making this series really exciting.  Hopefully it gets a little more exciting.

Game two is going to be Pedro Martinez’s return to Yankee STadium.  Will we here the “Who’s your daddy” chant or will we get a lot of boos in Pedro’s direction? who knows but it will be really interesting to see the fans’ reaction to his return.  The Yankees will rely on AJ Burnett to go out there and pitch just as well as CC did last night, maybe without the homers though.  The offense really needs to wake up too.  I guess they thought they had already finished the season or something because there was no sign of it last night.

Go Yankees!

-Dillon

Bullpen Near Flawless As Phils Advance To Fall Classic

The phenomenon that was the Philadelphia bullpen seems to have been forgotten as the Phillies’ ‘pen closed out the NLCS against the Dodgers last night with a 10-4 victory.  The Phillies, the defending world champions, went into the postseason with probably the most inconsistent bullpen of the eight playoff teams.  Brad Lidge, who was about as solid a closer as there was last year, had struggled over the course of the regular season with blown saves, bad decision making and incosistency.  This was a big worry as many skeptics came about believing the Phillies would fall due to their bullpen.  Those skeptics have been silenced for the time being as the Phillies bullpen has been nearly flawless throughout this postseason.

Last night’s picture of Brad Lidge pumping his fist is reminiscent of last season’s fist pumping as he closed out the World Series.  Well, with only one more series to win, we could well be seeing this again very soon.  But then again, we can’t forget about the Yankees.

The Yanks are on the verge of clinching a trip to the world series.  With their ALCS lead, the Yanks are one win away to making one step closer to their 27th World Championship in franchise history.  With phenominal pitching, the most explosive offense in the league and a consistent and solid bullpen, the Yankees are definitely the team to beat.  The Phillies are a fantastic group of baseball players with some outstanding athletes up and down their roster, but the Yankees really have a group of guys that can match up with the best teams in the history of the MLB.  If the Yankees beat the Angels today in their game five of the ALCS, they will advance onto the World Series and will create a matchup that is definitely not worth missing.  Here’s a look at how the Yanks and Phils will matchup assuming the Yankees defeat the Angels.  (No offense to the Angels of any Angels fans out there but it certainly looks as if the Yankees are going to advance to the World Series).

 

The two leadoff batters are certainly two guys that can lead off a game with big hit, spark a rally, or make a key defensive play.  Both veterans of the league, Jeter and Rollins will top off the top two lineups in baseball.

Jeter has been a number two hitter most of his career and isn’t your typical leadoff hitter.  Now, I’m not saying it’s like a usual number four hitter batting leadoff but more like a number two guy batting first.  Jeter is definitely capable of producing in the leadoff spot, I’m mean look at his stats from this year.  Joe Girardi’s decision to move Johnny Damon to the second spot in the lineup and move Jeter up one has proven successful as they have put up some staggering numbers.

Jimmy Rollins on the other hand is your typical leadoff guy.  A guy that can get on base, run and score runs with ease.  That’s what you generally think of in a leadoff guy.  Not that Jeter can’t do that but Rollins fits the profile better due to the way the Phillies offense runs.  Rollins came up with a big hit late in game 4 against the Dodgers where he drove in the winning run from first to pu the Phils up 3-1 in the series.  J-Rol is clearly a great guy to start off your lineup with.

 

Johnny Damon, as I stated already, was moved down to the second spot in the lineup by Joe Girardi at the beginning of the season.  The main reason for this was to let Jeter do his magic with his bat and let Damon, who can hit for power, hit in a more key spot with guys on base.  Now, again, this swop can go either way but it has obviously worked out the way it is currently.  Damon can hit for power, drive some guys in, and can still run better than most people think he can.  Watch out for Damon, you don’t really want to underestimate him.

“The Flyin’ Hawaiin” Shane Victorino has been a solid force at the second spot in the Phillies lineup for years now.  The switch hitter can hit well from both sides of the plate, can generate some power (as shown last night when he hit a bomb to left field) and can really run.  This guy can really carry a team with his speed because with the guys following him in the lineup, he will most likely get to score some runs.  With his speed, he can easily get into scoring position to make it easier on the guys following him.

 

To me, this is the most intriguing matchup of any of the players on either roster.  Mark Teixeira can field, hit and has a great smile.  Chase Utley, exactly the same.  Both guys can hit, field and are just a great presence on their respective squads.  I can’t really compare them any further, they are just so similar.

Alex Rodriguez by Keith Allison. 

Two guys with a lot of power and good gloves at their respective positions fill up the middle of the lineup.  Ryan Howard is a powerful guy that probably doesn’t think anything other than homer when coming up to the plate.  Alex Rodriguez has had a great career and his play this postseason has been a sight for sore eyes.  He has been phenominal.  Rodriguez may have a better glove than Howard, but Howard is the next power hitting phenomenon that will hit the MLB.  Rodriguez went under that category when he came up with the Mariners and now the likes of Howard, Prince Fielder and Pablo Sandoval fit that list.  These two will most certainly fill a very very important role in this series.

 

I honestly have to give the advantage to the Phillies and Jayson Werth in this matchup.  Nothing against the long time Yankee but the fact that Jayson Werth can consistently hit for a lot of power and has driven in more runs than Posada, Werth has the advantage.  Posada has been such a key to the Yankees for so long.  A great pitch caller who has always called great games for Yankee pitchers.  He has had his great offensive games and he has had his tough ones, just like every baseball player ever to live.  This matchup right now goes to Werth but just wait and see, Posada will still play a key part in this sereis.

Again, Ibanez and Matsui are a great matchup of players in the lineup.  Ibanez can still play the outfield whereas Matsui has had a bad knee keeping him from playing the field.  This isn’t all that big of a deal since we have had plenty of guys fill in with quality games and very successful seasons.  His bat is still going and he may be getting old, but he still has plenty in his tank to put in his two cents for this series.

Ibanez has surprised everyone in the league this year with his outstanding outbreak in offensive production.  He opened the season with some great power but over the season it has decreased in power.  He still has a lot of power and can go off any tme which makes him so dangerous.  Both these guys can go off on you and can really hurt an opposing pitcher.  Watch out Phillies and Yankees pitching.

Alright, sorry I couldn’t finish today but I’ll get the rest of my matchup analysis tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Go Yankees!

-Dillon

Sweet Sweet Victory

Well, before I get to the Yankees-Red Sox recap, I’ve got to let my thoughts be heard on a few other things that happened yesterday around the MLB.

Most baseball fans know Chase Utley.  The second baseman for the Philadelphia Phillies.  He’s got that good defensive record, a strange power source from a second baseman, and a great mind for the game.  Yeah, him.  But he wasn’t playing in Sunday’s matchup between the Phils and Mets.  Eric Bruntlett filled in for him and made his presence known in an unusual way.  In a game that had so many unusual scenarios, Bruntlett made a play that only one other person has done before.  But that was just the end of everything that happened yesterday.

The Phils scored six runs in the top of the first off of Oliver Perez.  But Perez didn’t make it out of the first inning.  He was facing Pedro Martinez, who was making his return to NY after being cut by the Mets this past off-season.  Pedro had a 3-0 count and manager Jerry Manuel came out to pull Perez.  An unusual happening.  A pitcher getting pulled in the middle of an at bat.  Strange.

Well, the Mets eventually got out of the inning.  Then they had a little fun of their own.  To lead off the bottom half of the inning, Angel Pagan hit a shot to the left center gap that sent Shane Victorino running to the wall.  The ball got wedged under the wall and Victorino thought he could get away with calling it as a double.  But the umps didn’t think it that way.  The umps didn’t make the call and the left fielder picked it up and threw it in.  This whole time, Pagan had been running the bases and wound up with an inside the park homer.  The ball was wedged underneath the wall but it wasn’t so badly wedged that it would take some work to get it out and that it should have been a double.  The umps made the right call.  Strange.

Later in the game, Jeff Francoeur, the Mets’ right fielder, made a great sliding catch to rob Eric Bruntlett of all people of a base hit.  At first the umps called Bruntlett safe as he went on to third as Francoeur was unaware of the call.  Then the umps met and reversed the call after both Francoeur and Jerry Manuel argued the call.  It was another crazy moment that was obviously a catch when the replay showed it.  Strange.

Now, the biggest highlight of the game was Bruntlett’s play in the bottom of the ninth which ended the game.  With runners on first and second, Jeff Francoeur (there seems to be a recurring theme of players being involved in multiple strange plays) stepped up to the plate.  He hit a liner with a full count up the middle.  With the runners in motion, Bruntlett had been moving to cover second base.  The ball was hit right to him on a line.  He snagged it, tagged second base, and tagged David Murphy who was on first at the start of the play.  An unnasissted triple play to end the game, the first in the NL history, second in MLB history.  Strange.

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OK so back to the Yankees-Red Sox game.  Last night, the aces of the two clubs faced off in the rubber match of the series.  It was set to be a great pitcher’s duel, as was Beckett’s and Burnett’s not to long ago.  And it was a really good game.  The Yankees opened up the game with two runs early.  The first was on a Derek Jeter solo shot and the second on Hideki Matsui’s first shot of the night which was also a solo shot.  The Yankees scored two more runs on the Red Sox in the third inning, neither on homers.  Then, Robinson Cano homered in the fourth, and A-Rod homered in the fifth to drive in two more.  Matsui hit the final Yankee homer in the eighth which was another solo shot.  A home run barrage, as Yankees.com puts it, lit up the sky in Boston as the Yanks rolled to an 8-4 victory.  Sweet Sweet Victory.

The Red Sox did score four runs but CC kept them at bay most of the night.  The Yankees did jump on top early and that was a big advantage for them as the game went on.  The Red Sox tied the score in the second but the Yankees went back ahead and never looked back.  The Sox didn’t leave the yard once in the game, surprisingly.  The lack of the long ball in a game dominated by the long ball is probably what did the Red Sox in.

CC finished the game with eight strikeouts as all his stuff was dominant.  Phil Hughes and Mariano Rivera were successful out of the ‘pen as they finished the game off.  Beckett finished with five K’s on the night, not bad.  He also gave up all five homers though.  Not good.

So let’s take a look back at the series that was.  Game One:

The Yankees score 20 runs against Brad Penny and the REd Sox.  Another terrible outing for Penny who would later be pulled from the starting rotation to make room for Wakefield who is coming back soon.  Another home run happy game sent many bombs flying through the Boston sky.  The Red Sox had their fair share of runs too.  They just weren’t able to make up for what the pitching let up.  Too bad.  They scored 11 runs.

Game Two:

The Red Sox stole the Yankees’ thunder for game two as they burst out with another 14 runs compared to the Yankees’ Nick Swisher’s single run.  Swish hit a solo shot to left to score the only run for the Yanks on the day.  A very disappointing loss for the Yanks and a touche to the REd Sox was all that was in me for Saturday.

Then came game three which I just talked about.  A very exciting series that was truly a back and forth one.  Great to watch and I’m sure, as always, it was great to play in for both teams.  No fights broke out which was good for the teams.  I don’t think either could afford losing anyone right now, especially the Red Sox who are in the Wild Card race and don’t have that big of a lead anymore.  It was a clean series  that was fun to watch as a fan.  Especially since the Yankees won.

-Dillon

Fantasy Sports

Now, some of you may know that fantasy baseball, to me, is a fun game that is a great way to make your baseball dreams come true.  But it’s nothing more than that.  It’s a game, nothing more.  Now, I have made several rants on how I have a huge pet peeve over people who follow baseball, or whatever other sport, just to see how their fantasy team is doing.  I mean, c’mon.  That’s not why people love baseball.  There are so many hypocrites out there that say they are baseball fans but only follow the sport to make sure their fantasy team wins.  I hate that so much.

Well, I couldn’t think of anything else to write so I figured I would just talk about this.  So, here we go.  I myself love to play fantasy sports.  It’s just fun.  I love to make up my own team and manage it like I would if it was a professional team.  But I still follow the game of baseball as a fan of the Yankees and not just as a fan of whoever is on my team.  Whether or not I have any Yankee players on my team, I will still love the Yankees.  As goes for Curtis Granderson or Ryan Braun or David Wright.  I am still a true baseball fan whether or not I play fantasy.  I play fantasy baseball, football, basketball, and hockey.  But that’s pretty much it.  I have fun with it and I usually don’t play in competitive leagues.  Usually just casual.  I figured I’d show you some of my teams.

Here’s one of my two baseball teams that I enjoy following more than the other.  I am currently in sixth place out of ten, mostly because of injury problems.  But here it is.

Team Name: The Silver Sluggers

C: Mike Napoli (LAA)

1B: Kevin Youkilis (Bos)

2B: Chase Utley (Phi)

3B: Emilio Bonifacio (Fla)

SS: Alexei Ramirez (CWS)

OF: Jermaine Dye (CWS)

OF: Jason Bay (Bos)

OF: Andrew McCutchen (Pit)

Util: Garret Jones (Pit)

Util: Shin Soo Choo (Cle)

Bn: Brad Hawpe (Col)

SP: Tim Lincecum (SF)

SP: Derek Lowe (Atl)

RP: Jonathon Papelbon (Bos)

RP: Huston Street (Col)

P: Chris Carpenter (StL)

P: Joakim Soria (KC)

P: David Price (TB)

Bn: Jair Jurrjens (Atl)

Bn: Johnny Cueto (Cin)

I’m doing pretty well in this league and I think I could make a run toward the end of the season.  I have been playing a lot better of late because my team’s injury problems have diminished.  I’ve been telling my friends that they better watch out for my team because I could be a spoiler in the playoffs.

On Friday, many of the people in the league that I have that baseball team in did a draft for football that starts up soon.  I missed the whole draft except the last pick in which I chose Sidney Rice from Minnesota.  I figured if Brett Favre ever signed with them that he would be a valuable guy.  So I took a chance and picked him.  Here’s the rest of my team.

Team Name: No Punt Intended

QB: Aaron Rodgers (GB)

WR: Steve Smith (Car)

WR: Marquis Colston (NO)

WR: Santonio Holmes (Pit)

RB: Adrian Peterson (Min)

RB: Frank Gore (SF)

TE: Anthony Fasano (Mia)

BN: Owen Daniels (Tex)

BN: Joseph Addai (Ind)

BN: Carson Palmer (Cin)

BN: Jericho Cotchery (NYJ)

BN: Sidney Rice (Min)

K: John Kasay (Car)

BN: Rian Lindell (Buf)

DEF: Chicago

DEF: New England

So, this league is to start up obviously whenever the NFL season starts so I’m excited for that.

Well, now I’m really bored so I’ll hopefully have something more intersting to write about tomorrow.

-Dillon

Talk About a Kick In the Groin

This past off-season was highlighted with the Yankees’ shopping spree in which they signed three of the top free agents on the market; Sabathia, Burnett and Teixeira.  But among all the noise that the Yankees were making, the defending champion Phillies were making their own moves, including one to bring former Seattle Mariners’ outfielder Raul Ibanez to Philly.  Now, Ibanez has been very good over the last few seasons of his career.  When the Phillies signed him, they were hoping he would be a good replacement for Pat Burrell, who left to the Rays as a free agent.  Ibanez has proven to be more than a good replacement.  He is the Phillies’ top offensive player so far this season.  Here are some of his stats:

  • .312 batting average
  • 22 jacks
  • 59 RBI
  • .656 slugging percentage
  • 164 total bases

This guy is just tearing it up.  Now, a strained groin has him on the 15 day DL.  What a kick in the groin.  Ibanez’s STELLAR season so far is going to have to go on hold for a little bit.  And the Phils… they lose their top offensive production.  Not that they don’t have any more (Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth, Shane Victorino), but this loss is a huge misfortune for the Phitting Phils.

Being the defending world champs, they have had a lot on their shoulders, as has any other defending champion team.  They have pretty much lived up to their expectations of having another good season.  But this loss might end up being fatal to their championship run.  With the tough NL East, the Phils will definitely have their hands full.

Ibanez was on pace to easily be in the running for MVP.  Others in the NL that could make a run for it this season may be Albert Pujols, his teammate Chase Utley, David Wright and Brad Hawpe (I know a lot of you don’t know him but he’s having a really good season for Colorado). 

The strained groin might keep him out for the All Star game, which he has the most votes for among NL outfielders.  He is just having a great season and this injury may have ruined it.  Hopefully for the Phils, he can heal quickly and they can get him back in time to continue their run for the playoffs.

Yanks Walk Off In Improbable Fashion

Well, the Yank and Sox just ended a rivalry series but they are still in the news together.  Both teams are involved in the top two interleague series’ taking place this weekend.  The Yankees are playing the Mets in the first Subway Series this season, and the Red Sox are taking on the defending champs Phillies.  Both great matchups.  Both headline matchups.  So far, the Yanks have taken the first game of the series with the Mets on a walk off.  The cause of the walk off- an error by Luis Castillo.  More on this later.  Now the Red Sox were in no need of a walk off.  They beat the Phils 5-2.  They shut out one of the best hitters in baseball, Chase Utley, and overall dominated the Phils.  So here we go.

Joba took the bump for the Yanks against Livan Hernandez who has been pitching very well for the Mets lately.  He pitched all right through four innings of work.  But at least we can say he pitched through three innings.  The funny thing is, he only gave up one hit.  But he gave up two runs.  The reason for this is five walks.  And all of you know how much I hate walks.  So he gave up the two runs, but nothing to drastic.  He also struck out three.  He had a pretty good night despite only pitching through four.  And when a pitcher comes out early, I always get worried because we have to give it up to the bullpen.  And that hasn’t exactly worked out that well for us most of the season.

Brett Tomko was the first to come out from the ‘pen and he caused the most damage of all.  He gave up four runs on three hits and two walks.  He gave up a homer to Gary Sheffield that drove in two of the runs he gave up.  He only pitched .2 of an inning so it’s even worse that he gave up so much in such a little time. 

Dave Robertson came in and pitched 1.1 innings.  He gave up one hit, one walk, one run, and had three strikeouts.  Not terrible but we needed him to hold them to no runs.  That would have been better.  Phil Coke came in to relieve Robertson and pitched 1.2 innings of perfect ball.  He gave up nothing.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada.  You get the idea.  Then he was relieved by Mariano Rivera who was in for the last out of the eighth.  And things went pretty bad for him.

Rivera came in and gave up a hit and a walk that would lead to a run to tie the game for the Mets.  This was not what I expected from Rivera at all.  Well, I was wrong, obviously.  He did strike out two so the one run was all they got.  It was all up to the Yanks offense now.  Rivera pitched a good ninth and the game was still tied.

The Yanks then came up to the plate to first face Pedro Feliciano.  HE got one out and handed it over to Francisco Rodriguez.  K-Rod if you will.  He is the one who had problems.  Not often found from K-Rod.  He gave up a hit and a walk and then, everything went wrong for the Mets.  A-Rod came up to bat and popped it up to Luis Castillo.  The Mets second baseman dropped the ball and two runs scored.  The Yanks took the game on an improbable play.  A walk off not often seen but it happened and the Yanks got the win.  It was a great way to end and exciting and pant wetter of a game.  Way to go Yanks.  Luis Castillo- sorry it had to happen to you.

A win for the Yanks has been scarce over the last few games.  They were swept by the Sox and that just made it even worse.  But this win over another rival must boost their confidence.  We need to get some more wins and hope the Phils can get it done against the Red Sox.  We are currently 2 game back of the Sox who are in first.  Hopefully we can get some more wins against the Mets to make up for the sweep from the Red Sox.

Go Yanks!

-Dillon