Heading into the National League Championship Series, the buzz around Philadelphia is about the nerves on the mend from the Phillies-Rockies NLDS. And those nerves don’t look like they are going to have an easy road ahead. The Los Angeles Dodgers enter the NLCS boasting the best record in the NL with a 95-67 record, finishing two games ahead of the Phillies.
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Game 1 is slated for 8:07 p.m. on Thursday. That’s about the only thing set in stone right now for the Dodgers. With starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda returning after taking a line drive to the cheek bone in August, the Dodgers have six starting pitchers vying for four spots. Two of the starters, Vicente Padilla and Randy Wolf, anchored the Phillies pitching staff during the early 2000s, when people started looking ahead to “next season” by mid-May. The other four, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Jon Garland, and Kuroda, are all solid pitchers who could make a big impact on the series. The Dodgers come into the NLCS with a stronger bullpen than the 2008 squad, but more or less a similar lineup with just another year under theirs belts.
After another Brad Lidge blown save last night, the Phillies needed a win this afternoon to split a four-game series at the Houston Astros. However, the offensive funk struck again for the Phillies as they lost their third straight game to the Astros, 3 to 4.
Coming off of 19 straight scoreless innings, fans were hoping Cole Hamels would able to complete his third straight shutout. While he looked good early on, Hamels was roughed up with a three-spot in the fifth inning, and ended up lasting six innings, allowing four earned runs, striking out six and walking two on his way to earning the loss. Former Phillie Michael Bourn proved to be the bane of existence for the Fightins’, as his stolen bases in the fourth and fifth innings led to two runs that were the difference in the final score. There were a few bright spots in today’s game however, as Jimmy Rollins, Ben Francisco, and Jayson Werth all had solo home runs today. Continue reading
After Cole Hamels’ stellar pitching performance last night, the Giants proved that turnabout’s fair play as the Giants took advantage of their own good pitching and took one from the Phils by a score of 4-0.
Tonight’s loss revealed the offensive drought that the Phillies have been in for the past three series. Since the beginning of the series against the Pirates, the Phils have only scored three or more runs twice, as high-quality starting pitching has kept the lead in the NL East comfortably at seven games. Continue reading
After Brad Lidge gave his all-too familiar “there goes the game” stare to the outfield last night, Phillies fans feared dropping two straight to the last place Pirates with the struggling Cole Hamels on the mound for the Fightins’. Since his gem against Dan Haren in Arizona, Hamels has struggled with both location and emotion on the mound, seeming more like the Phils’ fifth starter instead of World Series MVP. However, something must have reminded Cole of Chase Field tonight, as he pitched another gem tonight helping the Phillies beat the Bucs in 10 innings by a score of 4 to 1.
Hamels pitched eight shutout innings, walking two while striking out seven over 123 pitches. If not for a Ryan Madson blown save in the ninth, he would have also notched his eighth win on the year. This Cole Hamels looked like the man who led off each of the Phillies’ playoff series with a winning effort during the 2008 World Series Championship. While he sometimes struggled with command, Hamels came back from tough spots to hold the Pirates’ offense at bay all night long. Continue reading
With the New York Mets struggling through an injury-plagued season, the highlight of the four game Phillies-Mets series was not the rivalry between the two teams, but Pedro Martinez’s return to Queens after his four-year stint with the Mets. After his pre-game press conference on Friday, everyone’s eyes looked to Sunday afternoon, when Pedro would pitch against his former team.
Pedro settled into a pattern through the first four innings of his outing. In the first and third innings, struggled with the first few batters. In each of those innings, he gave up a leadoff home run (both to Angel Pagan) and then a base hit, leading to two earned runs in each situation. In the following inning (the second and fourth), he settled down, throwing good pitches to get out without giving up a run.
In the fifth and sixth innings, Pedro looked more like he did in his previous starts, keeping the Mets’ offense scoreless. In the end, Martinez earned the win by throwing 6 innings, allowing four runs while walking one and striking out five as the Phillies scratched out a 9-6 victory. Continue reading