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.
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.
As you can see in this picture of Prince Fielder, he uses every inch of his body to produce power to send a ball into the stands. Last night, he used his body to the fullest 23 times as Prince Fielder won the 2009 Home Run Derby in St. Louis.
To start off the Derby, Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers stepped up to the plate and put on a show, sending multiple bombs to deep, deep left field. And I mean deep. This guy really had some serious power. He ended the first round with a promising 11 homers that would hopefully be enough to get him into the second round.
Prince Fielder followed with another 11 home run performance in which he sent his own fair share of blasts into the outfield bleachers. Both guys put on a show and were in hope of having a second round spot available with there 11 home run totals.
The show was set on Albert Pujols, one of the best all time hitting in front of his own home crowd. He came up last in the lineup for the first round as the suspense built as the St. Louis crowd waited for his arrival. Unfortunately, Pujols dissapointed and didn’t get into the second round with astonishing numbers that many thought he would produce. Instead, his five home runs were good enough for a “bat off” as Chris Berman and the rest of the commentating crew called it. So Pujols competed in a competition of five swings against Carlos Pena and Joe Mauer who also had five homers in the first round. Carlos Pena came up first and hit one out. Mauer failed to get any over the fence, and when Albert came up, he hit two to satisfy the crowd and assure him a spot in the second round.
Now, the other hometown boy, Ryan Howard, got some love from the crowd as he advanced to the second round to continue his quest for a second Home Run Derby victory. Howard sent a handful of blasts into right, right center, and center field to get the crowd behind him. The majority of his shots were liners and not too many bombs. It was still pretty fun watching him do well back in his home town though.
The first round proved fatal for my pick to win it, Adrian Gonzalez, as he only hit two over the fence. He came close on multiple shots that hit the wall or the warning track but was unable to get the ball over the fence enough to advance to the second round. So there went my pick right off the bat, but I still had other reasons to be proud at my picks.
Brandon Inge EPIC FAILED! He was shutout not even coming close on any of his hits. The closest he came was when he hit a line shot down the left field line that was clearly foul. That was his final out. So, I was right about Inge, who shouldn’t even have been there, doing a terrible job. He sucked!
So after the first round here are the guys that were still in it:
In the second round, Albert Pujols came back up to the plate after batting last in the first round and batting last in the bat off. Now he had to get a pretty good amount of home runs just to get to Cruz and Fielder’s totals of 11 from the first round. By the end of the second round bid from Pujols, he had a total of 11, probably to be beaten by both Cruz and Fielder.
Ryan Howard came up following Pujols and put on a late show with only a few outs left to go. He finished the second round with a promising 15. There was a possibility of him being in the final round. But after Fielder and Cruz batted, that dream was shattered.
Cruz went on to bat after Howard and put on another powerful performance sending many balls to the upper decks down the line in left and to the deepest parts of the park. He secured a final round bid with a total of 17 homers through the first two rounds. Now all that was to see was if Mr. Fielder could pass Howard’s mark of 15 and he did that to move on to the final round. A matchup of Cruz and Fielder. Two very powerful guys that would surely put on a show.
In the final round, Cruz batted first and put up five blasts to give Fielder a battle for the title. Fielder came up second and without even getting six outs, Fielder surpassed Cruz’s mark of 5 homers to win the 2009 Home Run Derby. His first Derby victory ended with a blast to right center field into the stands full of cheering fans.
Fielder’s victory was solid, sending the three longest shots into the night, including a 503 foot homer. The longest he has ever hit, he said after the contest, and it was definitely a blast. It was the longest of the Derby and Fielder put on the show that everyone expects at least one person to do. Last year it was Josh Hamilton, although Fielder’s show wasn’t as great as Hamiltons, but this year Fielder put on the show that made the whole thing worth watching for me.
Last year, Hamilton’s run of home runs was probably the best moment of recent baseball history. His story leading up to that point just made it all the better. Many pictures of the moment were captured but I think this one is the best.
Fielder and his Brewers teammate Ryan Braun celebrated after his final home run as they would at a regular game in which one of he hit a home run. Their little routine that they do finished off a great night for Fielder. As Hamilton had his great moment captured many times, as did Fielder.
Congrats to the 2009 Home Run Derby, Prince Fielder!
Man, the Yankees can’t seem to pull out a win against either the Red Sox or the Angels. It’s bad enough that we were just swept by the Halos but now we’re three games out of first behind the Red Sox who are the second team we have been unable to figure out for the first half of the season. Yesterday, we sent CC to the mound in hope of stopping the sweep, but I guess that didn’t go over very well with the Angels because they still beat us. The final score was 5-4 and the Yankees unfortunately ended the first half of the season on a sour note. A sweep, not my idea of a good end to the first half.
As far as the Yankees go, they didn’t play all that bad. CC pitched all right going 6.2 innings giving up nine hits and three walks. He gave up all five runs that the Angels would get in the game. When he was relieved in the seventh, Phil Hughes came out from the ‘pen and continued his dominance from the ‘pen. He went the remainder of the game giving up two walks and striking out one. A STELLAR performance from Mr. Hughes.
The offense played pretty well too. Here are my top performers for the day:
Derek Jeter- 2-5, 1 RBI
Melky Cabrera- 2-3, 2 Runs, 1 RBI
Jorge Posada- 1-1, 2 RBI
Hideki Matsui- 0-1, 1 Run, 3 Walks
Phil Hughes- 1.1 IP, 1 K, 0 Runs Allowed
So, the All Star break is here and the Yankees are second in the AL East, three behind the Boston Red Sox. We’ve got some guys representing the Bombers in St. Louis for the game and I feel that the second half of the season is going to be a good one.
Now onto other thoughts running through my brain right now…
The Home Run Derby is tonight and I have a feeling it is going to be a good one. In the NL, there are a quartet of first base sluggers that are definitely give us a good show.
In the AL, there are a few guys that I don’t feel will last very long, not mentioning any names… Brandon Inge… cough cough.
Here are the rest of the AL contestants.
Albert Pujols will dominate the general competition sending balls into the stands left and right. Adrian Gonzalez will be the Josh Hamilton of 2009. He is the one guy that I don’t think is getting a lot of credit for being here. He is going to have a great derby. Fielder and Howard will do well in general but I don’t know if they will make it to the second round. Brandon Inge is out after the first round. Nelson Cruz will make a run as will Carlos Pena. I think Joe Mauer will have a good derby despite not being considered as much of a power hitter as the rest of the competitors (not including Brandon Inge). Mauer will make it to the second round but probably not much further.
After first round, guys still in it:
Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, Ryan Howard, Joe Mauer
Gonzalez will use his high home run count from the first round to stay ahead of the pack and get into the finals. Pujols will continue to hit a ton of bombs. Mauer and Howard will fall despite having another round of good numbers. They won’t catch up to Gonzalez and Pujols.
After second round, guys still in it:
Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez
It could go either way and I think either guy will have a great chance at putting on a show and getting the victory. Personally, I would like to see Adrian Gonzalez win it because I think it would be nice to see him get credit for being the big power hitter that he is. He can go the other way better than any of the other competitors and that is why he is my favorite to win the event.
Overall, the Home Run Derby is an event for the fans and it is usually greatly enjoyed. I am looking foward to seeing this one. It’ll be a great time.
Hey. This is for all of you umps from the Yankees-Jays game yesterday that missed a bunch of calls. Most of them being involved with Mr. Jeter. Yeah, the league’s top vote getter for the All Star game. The leader of this Yankees team. Yeah. You know who I’m talking about. I think you need to take a team field trip to a store to get some of these…
When Jeter stole third in the first inning, I was extremely mad. Jeter had a right to be as well. This was the first time I’ve ever seen Jeter argue a call. He is such a classy player and will only argue if he knows he is right. He got in there with his hand before being tagged and was clearly safe. He was right and his arguing would be backed up. Here was Jeter’s reaction after the game:
“I was just baffled by the explanation. I was told I was out because the ball beat me, and he didn’t have to tag me. I was unaware the had changed the rules.” Sarcasm is always fun when you know you’re right. Girardi got tossed for arguing the call and the crowd went wild when he walked back to the dugout. This whole situation was messed up. And that was just the beginning of it.
In the third inning, Jeter grounded a ball hit into the hole between third and short and did his signature jumping throw to get Aaron Hill out at second. The only problem was this… the ump called Hill safe when he was clearly out. Now Jeter didn’t argue this call because he didn’t have the best view of that end of the play. But the replays that they showed on t.v. clearly showed Hill getting to the bag late and that he was out. Yet another frustrating moment for Jeter courtesy of the umps.
Now, Jeter’s day was pretty tough, the Yankees lost, but not all was bad. Remember that Eric Hinske? Yeah, he made his debut for the Yanks yesterday and wasn’t too bad. In fact, his first at bat, he blasted a shot to deep right for his first homer. It was great. Also in the game, Hinske ended the first inning with a diving catch to rob Vernon Wells of a hit. He had a great debut. It could have been even better when he stepped up to the plate in the ninth inning with the Yankees down one. They had scored a couple runs already in hope of making a comeback, but Hinske struck out and the game was over leaving the Yankees with a loss. It was tough, but Hinske still had a really good game.
The ninth inning was yet another crazy comeback inning that the Yankees have had so abundantly this season. Thanks to the early struggles of the bullpen, the Yankees offense has had to make comeback after comeback. Well, that hasn’t been the case recently but it was last night and it almost happened again. We were only down one when Hinske stepped up to the plate. We were down three at the beginning of the inning. Alomst another crazy comeback but this time we took the loss. The upside to this is that the Red Sox also lost to the Oakland Athletics.
On Other Notes Around the MLB
- The Phils scored 10 runs in the first inning of their game against the Reds. Johnny Cueto, who many believe to have been and All Star snub, had 9 earned runs in 2/3 of an inning. When he was taken out, he was extremely mad at himself.
- Jason Marquis made another STELLAR start for the Rockies. He went eight innings giving up seven hits and two walks. He struck out three.
- A’s rookie Brett Anderson two hits Red Sox in first career shutout. A’s win 6-0 in Nomar Garciaparra’s return.
- Pujols, Fielder, Howard, and Gonzalez to compete for NL in home run derby.
So it was a busy day yesterday, huh? I’m wiped from being outside all day for the first time all summer with beautiful weather. So I’m out.
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.