Oct 232010
 
Phillies Ryan Howard and Chase Utley

Phillies Ryan Howard and Chase Utley

October 23:

Philadelphia Phillies news and stories from around the web…

Manuel doesn’t think he’ll alter batting order

October 23 Camden Courier-Post:

“Don’t expect any major shakeups to manager Charlie Manuel’s Game 6 lineup from the one he’s deployed throughout the postseason. He’s not one to make significant adjustments on the fly.

But even Manuel admits, he’s got plenty to think about.

At the top of the order, Shane Victorino continues to struggle. He’s hitting just .182 (6-for-33) in the postseason and has a .461 OPS in the NLCS.

Meanwhile, the Phillies’ regular leadoff hitter, Jimmy Rollins, looks like he’s finally getting healthy. Rollins has better numbers across the board in the NLCS than Victorino, and after stealing two bases in Game 5, he appears to be over the hamstring injury that nagged him throughout the past six weeks.

“Jimmy showed me (Thursday) on the bases when he took off, the two bases that Jimmy stole showed me that he thinks that he is well and he can run,” Manuel said.

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Halladay hurting? Just a bit

October 23 Camden Courier-Post:

“Roy Halladay has spent too many Octobers away from the field. He wasn’t interested in going home early again this year.

Halladay pitched six innings and picked up the win in Game 5 in San Francisco Thursday, pushing the National League Championship Series back to Philadelphia and keeping the Phillies alive for at least one more game.

And he did it all with a strained right groin that took life off his fastball and forced him to change his mechanics, but couldn’t force him from the game.

“He fought, and he battled, and he got us right to a pretty good place in the game,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “That definitely shows what type of person he is. He came here to win.”

The win was essential for the Phillies, but the effort may have cost Halladay any chance of making an appearance in a potential Game 7, should the Phillies need him out of the bullpen.

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Phillies’ bullpen hasn’t needed to be on high alert as in past

October 23 Philadelphia Daily News:

“AT THIS TIME a year ago, the Phillies’ playoff rotation was about as steady as a college kid after several games of beer pong.

There was Cliff Lee, true. But after that, things got a little sketchy. Cole Hamels was trying, without noticeable success, to replicate the success he’d had in 2008 when he was voted Most Valuable Player of both the National League Championship Series and the World Series. Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ started, except when they were used in relief. And then there was Pedro Martinez, who was skipped over in Denver because it was too cold and who probably shouldn’t have started Game 6 of the World Series. He had a bad cold and the Phillies were sent home for the winter.

That sort of uncertainty meant that, if nothing else, the bullpen had to be on its toes. Especially on nights when Lee didn’t pitch, there was a pretty good chance they were going to get into the game.

It’s different this time around. It doesn’t always work out that way, of course, but Roy Halladay is always a complete game waiting to happen. Cole Hamels showed signs of being back with a complete-game shutout in Game 3 of the Division Series against Cincinnati.

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Unique group of characters helps set Giants apart

October 23 Philadelphia Daily News:

“In a different era, Aubrey Huff probably wouldn’t have had such a hard time in the offseason finding work. Cody Ross likely wouldn’t have been left to languish on the waiver wire in August, and former Phillies outfielder Pat Burrell wouldn’t have been watching baseball from his living room sofa 2 months into the season.

But in an age when Ivy League grads are replacing crusty old “baseball guys” in executive suites and Starbucks has replaced scotch as the drink of choice at the winter meetings, players such as Huff, Ross and Burrell, whose skill sets don’t quite measure up in sabermetrics, are fast becoming casualties of the player-evaluation trend that all but removes the human element.

Huff, Ross and Burrell have found refuge in a San Francisco clubhouse that’s become baseball’s Alcatraz. Described affectionately by manager Bruce Bochy as “outcasts and misfits,” the Giants have given credence to the adage that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Huff actually called Ross a “great garbage find” earlier this week.

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Baseball gods need to be treated with respect

October 23 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Sam Donnellon:

“THE CHALLENGE for champions is how to reinvent the magic. How do you match the thrill of Carlos Ruiz’ little squibber to win Game 3 of the 2008 World Series, Shane Victorino’s unlikely grand slam off CC Sabathia in the National League Division Series that year? How do you reinvent the eighth inning of that Game 4 against Los Angeles 2 years ago or the theater of Jimmy Rollins in Game 4 last year?

You do it by remixing the formula. By doing it in a way you haven’t before, by writing the first chapter of a new book rather than an epilogue to an existing one.

You do it by honoring the baseball gods, not taunting them.

We will know when Game 6 of the National League Championship Series ends tonight whether Roy Halladay’s gutty effort in Game 5 adds to only his history, or to that of this franchise as well. Will Aubrey Huff become one of those Bill Buckner-type names in Giants lore? Did Cody Ross leave his magic dust in the dirt around third base the other night?

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Phillies Notebook: Manuel sees a bit of Phillies in Giants’ effort

October 23 Philadelphia Daily News:

“The Giants are either a lot better than anybody knew or playing much better than anybody expected. Through five games of the National League Championship Series, they have never backed down. They took the early lead in four of the five games. They won three of the first four. They play without fear. And they have a big admirer in the opposite dugout.

“I look at the Giants right now, they’re a lot like us the first year we won,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

That would be 2008 when the Phils won the World Series. The Giants lead the NLCS, 3-2, heading into today’s Game 6 at Citizens Bank Park.

When it looked as if the Phils were ready to take control of the series in Game 4, the Giants took the lead back, got the game and a 3-1 series lead.

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Phillies’ offense has been more slumber than lumber

October 23 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“It wasn’t so much an explosion as a tiny pop.

The three decisive runs the Phillies scored in San Francisco during Game 5’s third inning Thursday were the result of two singles, a hit batsman, a bunt that traveled a few inches sideways, a misplay at third, and an error on a ground ball to first.

The inning happened to include a third but inconsequential single.

More ’62 New York Mets than ’27 New York Yankees.

As it has been for much of the 2010 regular season, the Phils’ lineup has been inconsistent offensively in the postseason.

That they have advanced as far as Saturday’s Game 6 of their NL Championship Series with San Francisco is as much a testament to their pitching, resilience, and the Giants’ own anemic offense as to the hitting that long had been the Phillies’ trademark.

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Halladay grit impresses skipper

October 23 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Roy Halladay has pitched a perfect game for the Phillies.

He’s thrown a no-hitter in the postseason, too.

But Halladay’s gritty performance in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Thursday night might have been the big righthander’s defining moment, according to Charlie Manuel.

“It tells you a whole lot about who he is,” Manuel said Friday of Halladay’s ability to battle through a groin injury on a cool, damp night

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Giants’ Sanchez knows Phillies hitters will be waiting on him

October 23 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“San Francisco Giants lefthander Jonathan Sanchez knows the Phillies have a plan for Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

He has one, too.

“They’re taking pitches,” Sanchez said of the Phillies. “They’re going to wait for me to be in the zone. I’m just going to get up and be aggressive in the zone.”

Sanchez’s command on Saturday could be the key to the game, the series and the season.

The 27-year-old has some of the best stuff in baseball. He struck out 205 during the regular season. He struck out 11 in 71/3 innings in a division series game against Atlanta.

Sanchez also walked 96 during regular season, the most in the National League. His struggles in the first inning of Game 2 last Sunday night helped the Phillies get out fast on their way to a 6-1 victory.

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Oswalt ready to enter game in first inning this time

October 23 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“Just three nights ago on the other side of the continent, Roy Oswalt was a relief pitcher in the ninth inning of a postseason baseball game.

But now the Phillies righthander is truly in a save situation.

Oswalt will take the Citizens Bank Park mound Saturday with the Phillies’ season on the line in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the San Francisco Giants.

With the Phillies behind, three games to two, in the series and a scuffling lineup looking at formidable Giants lefthander Jonathan Sanchez, Oswalt likely will need to unfurl another strong starting performance to force a Game 7 on Sunday night.

“I try to pitch every game like the last one,” Oswalt said Friday. “You never know. You’re never guaranteed the next day. So it’s going to be no different.

“It’s a must-win game, but I treat every one of them like a must win.”

Oswalt and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel downplayed the potential impact of Oswalt’s 18-pitch appearance in relief in Game 4 in San Francisco on Wednesday night.

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Phils can learn lessons from Flyers

October 23 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan:

“The sports couldn’t be more different. Ice hockey is all fluid motion and line changes and goaltending. Baseball is all about the one-on-one matchups between pitchers and hitters, against a backdrop of day-in, day-out routine and constancy.

So maybe there’s no parallel to be drawn between the Flyers’ incredible comeback against the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup playoffs and what the Phillies are attempting to do against the San Francisco Giants in the National League Championship Series. But then, maybe there is.

As different as the games are, there is a thread that runs through these things. There is something about poise and attitude and confidence that applies regardless of the sport-specific nuances.

The Flyers did what they did in the clichéd one-game-at-a-time manner. After falling behind three games to none in a best-of-seven series, they just chipped away, period by period, shift by shift. History weighed heavily against them. Only three teams had ever come back from 0-3 in a seven-game series, in any sport.

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For Phils to win, Utley and Howard need to step up

October 23 Philadelphia Inquirer:

“In order for the Phillies to do what no National League team has done since the 1944 St. Louis Cardinals, they need to do two things they have never done before.

One is to force the first Game 7 in franchise history Saturday night when they play the San Francisco Giants in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series. The other, of course, is to win Game 7, which would make them the fourth National League team in history to rally from a three-games-to-one deficit and the first NL team since those ’44 Cards to play in three straight World Series.

With the series back at Citizens Bank Park, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard need to step up their games immediately.

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