It all comes down to this. Millions of fans in the greater Philadelphia area and St. Louis area are anxiously anticipating tonight’s Game 5 between the Phillies and the Cardinals. It will be the battle of aces tonight as Roy Halladay gets the nod for the Phillies and Chris Carpenter gets the ball for the Cardinals. Halladay (1-0, 3.38 ERA)
retired his last 21 batters after a leadoff single in the second inning against the Cardinals last Saturday. Halladay went eight innings and got the win for the Phillies. Carpenter (0-0, 12.00 ERA)
went only three innings in his Game 2 start and allowed four runs to the Phillies. Carpenter got the ND as the Cardinals came back to win it 5-4 on Sunday night.
The Cardinals are looking to feed on the momentum from the Game 4 victory against the Phillies. It is no secret that the Cardinals got the matchup they wanted with Chris Carpenter going for them on normal rest. Albert Pujols has been one of the keys to this offense as he is hitting .412 for the Cardinals. Matt Holliday provided a spark for the Cardinals offense the other day in his return to the starting lineup. Look for the Cardinals to feed on that as well. It is no surprise but it is “all hands on deck” for the Cardinals as virtually everyone will be available in the bullpen tonight.
The Phillies return home for Game 5. They are hoping to get the crowd involved early and feed off the energy of the Citizens Bank Park faithful. The key is to keep the crowd involved. Ever since Chris Carpenter was pulled in Game 2, the Phillies have not been seeing a lot of pitches. The Phillies were successful against Carpenter in Game 2 when they were seeing pitches and were patient at the plate. The patience lead to base runners which put the heat on the Cardinals. The Phillies will look to be more patient at the plate and get base runners early and often. We talked about it at length yesterday, but did Ryan Howard make an adjustment? Will he prove all the doubters wrong? We will see tonight. Similar to the Cardinals, the Phillies also have “all hands on deck” as everyone is available in the bullpen tonight, even Cliff Lee.
Roy Halladay is pitching on extra rest tonight (he is pitching on five days rest). As a Phillie, Halladay is 16-3 with a 1.81 ERA and 143 strikeouts with 23 walks, when pitching on five days rest. The season rests on Doc’s shoulders. -Steve Dolan
Within the first five pitches of the game, the Phillies grabbed a 2-0 lead. A leadoff double by Jimmy Rollins, followed by a triple by Chase Utley that gave them the 1-0 lead, and then a Hunter Pence single to put them up 2-0. The Phillies had the momentum out of the gates.
Ryan Howard had worked a full count and seemed to have Edwin Jackson on his heels. Jackson threw a 3-2 pitch off the outside of the plate that should have walked Howard but home plate Angel Hernandez called strike three. Pence was running on the play and beat the throw to second. It was clear in real time and in slow motion that Pence beat the ball to second and was safe but second base umpire Chad Fairchild opted to go against the fact Pence was safe and called him out. Victorino flew out to end the inning. Remember all that momentum that the Phillies got to start the game? Well, Hernandez and Fairchild took it back even though the Phillies lead 2-0.
After a Skip Schumaker one out single, Roy Oswalt was able to get Albert Pujols to pop out to Placido Polcano to bring Lance Berkman to the plate. Berkman doubled to centerfield then Shane Victorino fell down (yeah, don’t ask how he did it, he just fell over) and Berkman advanced to third. The Phillies got Matt Holliday to end the inning but the Cardinals were able to cut the lead in half and the Phillies only lead 2-1.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Oswalt walked Lance Berkman to lead off the inning then hit Matt Holliday on the right arm (not far from his injured right hand) to put the first two men aboard. After a Yadier Molina line out, Cardinals third baseman David Freese stepped to the plate and ripped a two run double to left that rolled all the way to the wall. Berkman and Holliday both scored to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.
Two innings later, Freese stepped to the plate with one on and two out. He proceeded to deposit the Roy Oswalt into the batters eye in dead center field to expand the St. Louis lead to 5-3.
The Phillies were able to answer with a run in the top of the eighth. Ross gload lead off with a single to right. Michael Martinez came on to pinch run. After a Fernando Salas balk moved Martinez to second and Jimmy Rollins grounded out, Chase Utley reached on an infield single to put runners on first and third with one out. Martinez scored and Utley moved to second on a wild pitch by Fernando Salas. Pence grounded out to shortstop then Ryan Howard came up. Howard quickly fell into an 0-2 hole to Marc Rzepcynski and, as usually, Rzepcynski threw him a slider away and Howard swung over it to strike out and end the inning.
The Phillies went down in order in the ninth as Jason Motte got the save. Oswalt went six innings tonight, allowing six hits, five runs, while striking out five. This was the first time Oswalt has lost a postseason game in which he started. As for Jackson, he went six innings, allowing five hits, two runs, while striking out four.
It all comes down to Friday night at 8:37pm. Game 5 at Citizens Bank Park with Phillies ace Roy Halladay going against Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter. -Steve Dolan
Tonight the Phillies have a chance to eliminate the Cardinals and advance to their fourth consecutive NLCS. Since 2008, the Phillies are 3-1 in NLDS elimination games and 8-3 in elimination games overall. The Phillies send Roy Oswalt to the mound to get the win and the Cardinals send Edwin Jackson to the hill to try and extend their season. RHP Oswalt (9-10, 3.69 ERA)
has never lost a postseason game as a starter. RHP Jackson (12-9, 3.79 ERA)
has never started a postseason game. However, Jackson did pitch two innings, allowing one run, two hits, and a walk to the Phillies in the 2008 World Series as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays.
It is no secret that the Cardinals need a win tonight. All hands on deck for the Cardinals and that means that almost everyone will be available out of the bullpen except Jaime Garcia (last night’s starter
) and Chris Carpenter (who will start a Game 5 if necessary).
Ryan Theriot went 4-for-5 yesterday and has continued his unusually good hitting. It is amazing that he has six hits in nine at bats. Albert Pujols continues to be one of the best hitters in the game. He had four hits yesterday, three of which were doubles. Pujols is 7-for-13 in the series and continues to prove why he is one of the most feared hitters in the game. He is potentially entering his final game with the Cardinals tonight as he is a free agent this offseason.
The Phillies are hoping to wrap the series up tonight. Last night
featured an unusual hero- Ben Francisco. Francisco’s three run home run was all the Phillies needed to pull out a win in a crucial Game 3.
Via Phillies Insider Kevin McAlpin, the previous seven times the Phillies have held a 2-1 series lead in the postseason, the Phils have won all seven series.
First pitch is at 6:07pm at Busch Stadium and the game can be seen on TBS. -Steve Dolan
Good morning! Steak and Eggs! Three of the four divisional series games were elimination games last night. Let’s begin with the one that wasn’t an elimination game….
The Phillies and Cardinals were in a wild one last night. Locked in a scoreless battle, pinch hitter Ben Francisco stepped in with two outs in the seventh and runners on first and second. Ben Francisco deposited the 1-0 pitch in the Phillies bullpen for a 3-0 lead. The Phils would give two back but hold on to win 3-2 and take a 2-1 series lead with Game 4 coming tonight at 6:07pm. More here
The Rangers had the Rays on the brink of elimination in Game 4 at Tropicana Field. Ian Kinsler hit a homerun on the second pitch of the game. Adrian Beltre followed by hitting three solo home runs. He joins Adam Kennedy, George Brett, Reggie Jackson, Bob Robertson, and Babe Ruth as the only players to ever hit three home runs in a playoff game. The Rangers won 4-3 and eliminated the feel good Rays. More here
The Brewers had the opportunity to sweep the Arizona Diamondbacks last night. Trailing 3-1 in the fifth with the bases loaded, Brewers pitcher Shaun Marcum could not get on the same page as catcher Jonathan Lucroy on which pitch to throw. After a Lucroy visit to the mound, Marcum still stepped off and showed visible frustration. When he went to look in for the sign, Lucroy just shrugged in confusion so Marcum threw a pitch of his choice and D’backs rookie Paul Goldschmidt hit a grand slam to break the game wide open. Brewers lead series 2-1 with Game 4 coming tonight.. More here
The Yankees were on the brink of elimination last night as they sent A.J. Burnett to the mound to extend the season. Burnett got in trouble early but with two outs and the bases loaded, Curtis Granderson misplayed a ball in centerfield but recovered to make a fantastic leaping catch to get the Yankees out of the first unscathed. The Yankees got on the board in the third going up 2-0 but the Tigers answered in the fourth with a Victor Martinez solo homerun. The Yankees scored two in the fifth then blew it wide open with a sixth run eighth to win 10-1. Burnett when 5 2/3 innings and allowed only one run.The series is tied 2-2 with Game 5 coming Thursday night. More here
Video of the Day:
It wasn’t easy but, in the postseason, not much is easy. The Phillies grabbed a 2-1 series lead with a 3-2 win tonight against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. Jaime Garcia and Cole Hamels were dazzling tonight to say the least. Through six innings, it was a 0-0 game with the Cardinals, actually, holding some of the advantage.
Cole Hamels went six innings and allowed no runs but he threw a lot of pitches. He threw 117 pitches to be exact, 72 of them for strikes. Hamels struck out eight batters and walked three. He had three innings in which he threw 21 pitches or more. But his high pitch count might be what won the game for the Phillies. Follow me on this one.
With the series tied at 1, tonight’s game at Busch Stadium is a huge momentum game. The winner puts the other on the brink of elimination. The Phillies trot out 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP Cole Hamels. The Cardinals counter with a pitcher making his first postseason start, Jaime Garcia.
LHP Hamels (14-9, 2.79 ERA) has six career postseason wins for the Phillies since 2008.
LHP Garcia (13-7, 3.56 ERA) has been an up and down pitcher for the Cardinals since the All Star Break. Garcia was 0-2 with an ERA of 6.84. In September he was 3-0, with a 2.64 ERA.
The biggest question for the Phillies might be: Which Jaime Garcia shows up? The one who keeps the ball low, misses low, and is difficult to hit? Or the one who misses up and hangs pitches over the heart of the plate? No matter which one shows up, the Phillies need base runners. When the Phillies had runners on base in Game 2, they put a lot of pressure on Chris Carpenter and were able to drive them home. The more base runners, the better for the Phillies. Tonight, they need to wake up their bats.
Ryan Howard gets the chance to play postseason baseball in his hometown for the first time tonight. John Mayberry Jr. gets the start in left field tonight with the left hander Garcia pitching and Game 1& 2 starter Raul Ibanez hitting just .211 off lefties this year.
The travel day gave the Cardinals bullpen a rest. They have pitched 8 2/3 innings over the first two games. They threw 6 innings on Sunday while allowing no runs. The Cardinals are looking to Jaime Garcia to produce some innings for give the bullpen some more rest.
Cardinals LF Matt Holliday has been available to pinch hit but his right hand is still giving him a lot of trouble. Holliday has “significant discomfort” in his right hand. He remains day to day and is not in the lineup for tonight’s game.
Phillies lineup for tonight:
1. Rollins SS
2. Utley 2B
3. Pence RF
4. Howard 1B
5. Victorino CF
6. Mayberry Jr. LF
7. Polanco 3B
8. Ruiz C
9. Hamels P
First pitch is at 5:07 on TBS.
The playoffs begin today. The American League gets it kicked off with the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays at 5:07pm. The New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers get the nightcap tonight at 8:37pm. Justin Verlander takes on CC Sabathia tonight in the Yanks-Tigers series. The NLDS gets under way tomorrow with the Milwaukee Brewers and the Arizona Diamondbacks at 2:07pm and then the Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals follow them at 5:07pm. Should shape up for a great first round. Tristan Tschoepe got us started with his predictions earlier, here are mine.
Tampa Bay Rays (91-71) @ Texas Rangers (96-66) 5:07 pm Friday
It is no secret what happened to the Rays on Wednesday and how they got into the playoffs. After Evan Longoria’s walk off home run on Wednesday, the celebration ensued in Tampa. My question is… did the Rays already win? We saw that happen to the Phillies in 2007 when they made the playoffs and that was the main goal- not the World Series. I don’t know if this is the case for the Rays or not but it does raise some question. I think the Rays enter the playoffs with more momentum than any other team in baseball, except the Rangers. Unfortunately for them, they face the Rangers who won 14-16 down the stretch. The Rangers are one of the most balanced teams in baseball. They can hit for power (Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz), they can hit for average (Michael Young), they can steal bases (Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus), they can pitch (C.J. Wilson), and they can close out games (Neftali Feliz). The Rays have a tall task at hand and it certainly doesn’t help that they have rookie starter Matt Moore starting Game 1 opposite of Rangers ace C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94 ERA). I look for this to be a chest match but it is hard to pick against the Rangers overall balance.
Prediction: Rangers in 5
Detroit Tigers (95-67) @ New York Yankees (97-65) 8:37 pm Friday
The Yankees once again put up big numbers. Mark Teixiera and Curtis Granderson were ranked #2 and #3 in the Majors in home runs. Robinson Cano put on a display at the Home Run Derby and showed that he is as dangerous a hitter as anyone else in that lineup. Derek Jeter had another solid year hitting just a shade under .300 at .297. The Tigers also have some guys who can hit the ball too. Miguel Cabrera lead the Majors in hitting at .344 and switch hitting catch/designated hitter Victor Martinez hit a solid .330. Pitching is the big question mark for both teams this series. Game 1 features likely AL Cy Young winner and potential AL MVP candidate Justin Verlander going for the Tigers and Yankees ace CC Sabathia. If the Yankees take Game 1, I see them winning this series. If the Yankees take game one they practically force the Tigers to pitch Verlander on short rest. If the Tigers win Game 1, they take pressure off game two starter Doug Fister. The pitching matchups Verlander v. Sabathia, Fister v. Nova, and Scherzer v. Garcia. Fister has been outstanding since joining the Tigers in a midseason trade from the Mariners. They both have great closers in the bullpen. Jose Valverde was perfect in save opportunities this year and the Yankees have the ageless Mariano Rivera. Again, if the Yankees win Game 1, I think they win the series. But I don’t think the Yankees get the best of Verlander but this is going to be a great series to watch.
Prediction: Tigers in 5
Arizona Diamondbacks (94-68) @ Milwaukee Brewers (96-66) 2:07 pm Saturday
The Diamondbacks have surprised everyone this year by defeating the reigning World Series champion Giants and winning 94 games. The Diamondbacks are anchored by Cy Young candidate Ian Kennedy but also have solid starters behind him in Daniel Hudson and Joe Saunders. Diamondbacks outfielder Justin Upton is as close to a five tool player as you get (along with Hunter Pence). The Diamondbacks can put up some runs and can pitch out of jams as well. Whatever the Diamondbacks can do, the Brewers can do better. The Brewers trot out stud pitchers in Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, and Shaun Marcum. They also put up some big numbers offensively. Prince Fielder had the season of his life (ironic that it is his contract year?) and MVP candidate Ryan Braun had a 30-30 year and contended for the NL Batting Title until the last day of the season. The Brewers boasted the best home record in the Majors but were 3 games under .500 on the road. I think the Diamondbacks will put up a fight against the Brewers (especially at home) but I think, in the end, the Brewers will be too much for the Diamondbacks.
Prediction: Brewers in 4
St. Louis Cardinals (90-72) @ Philadelphia Phillies (102-60) 5:07 pm Saturday
The best team in baseball faces off against a team that needed all 162 games and some help to get into the playoffs. The Cardinals owe the Phillies their season for sweeping the Braves and allowing the Cardinals the opportunity to make it. Now they face off. The Phillies are where they were expected to be. Fifth straight division champions and they have the best record in baseball for the second straight year. The Cardinals had an up and down year but made it to the postseason regardless. The status of Cards LF Matt Holliday is uncertain with his left hand injury. St. Louis feared he would be out for the season but he was able to play through some pain against the Astros but aggravated it the other day and remains day-to-day. Albert Pujols has shown that he is pretty much the same Albert Pujols who was one of the most feared hitters in baseball. The Cardinals are sending former Phillie Kyle Lohse to start Game 1 against Roy Halladay and then Chris Carpenter will go for the Cards in Game 2 on three days’ rest against Cliff Lee. The Cardinals pitching isn’t where the Phillies staff is. The Phillies hold the edge there and the Phillies can put up some offensive numbers with the new juggled lineup that has Chase Utley batting second and Hunter Pence batting third. The Phillies are clearly the better team in this series. Prediction: Phillies in 4-Steve Dolan
It goes without saying that last night was one of the greatest regular season nights in baseball history. Two of the Wild Card games went 12 innings or more and another game was won with a two out rally in the bottom of the ninth. I was fortunate enough to be watching in Philadelphia so I could watch the Phillies on CSN, Red Sox-Orioles on ESPN, and Cardinals-Astros on ESPN2. The longer the night went on the more crazy it got.
Steak and Eggs and boy, was last night a treat for baseball fans. Wild Card Wednesday was more wild than you could ever imagine.
Let’s get started with the only non-suspense filled game. The Cardinals blanked the Astros last night 8-0 behind ace Chris Carpenter and a five run explosion in the first inning off former Phillie Brett Myers. This game started an hour later than the other three but ended a solid 45 minutes before any of the other three ended. More here.
The Phillies and Braves went at it last night too and they needed a little bit more than nine innings. The Phillies got a quick run in the first but the Braves responded in the bottom half to tie it at 1. Dan Uggla hit a two run homerun in the third inning to give them a 3-1 lead. Tim Hudson looked good until he ran into trouble in the seventh. The Phillies got a run in the seventh then Chase Utley came through with a sacrifice fly to tie the game in the ninth. In the thirteenth, Hunter Pence came through with a huge infield single that brought home Brian Schneider. David Herndon closed the door in the home half and the Braves, thanks to the Cardinals win earlier, were eliminated from playoff contention. More here.
Moving on to the Red Sox-Orioles. The Red Sox and Orioles were playing a back and forth game through the first couple of innings. Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia seemed to be the spark that the Sox needed driving in the first run in the third, then hitting the go ahead home run in the fifth. Then came the hour and 26 minute rain delay. The Red Sox came back from the rain delay and weren’t the same. They were getting outs when needed but the pitchers were putting runners on base. Heading into the bottom of the ninth with a 3-2, Jonathan Papelbon came on. He got two quick outs then Chris Davis doubled down the right field line. Nolan Reimold, with two strikes and two outs, doubled into left center to drive in Davis to tie the game. Robert Andino then singled to left that hit Carl Crawford’s glove and that drove home Reimold as the Orioles pull out the 4-3 win. More here.
The Yankees and Rays game was a little different. The Yankees jumped out to a seven nothing lead and had all but shut down the Rays until the eighth inning. Johnny Damon lead off with a single. After another single and two hit batsmen, the Rays were finally on the board. The Rays cut the lead to 7-3 when Evan Longoria stepped up and hit a two out three run home run to cut the Yankee lead to 7-6. In the bottom of the ninth, the Yankees got the first two outs then, with two strikes and two outs (notice a theme here) pinch hitter Dan Johnson hit a solo home run down the right field line to tie the game. It would remain that way until, three minutes after the Red Sox lost, with one out in the bottom of the 12th Evan Longoria hit a solo homerun to left field to win it for the Rays and they clinched the AL Wild Card. More here.
Video of the Day:
Steak and Eggs! Exciting night last night and only going to get more exciting tonight as it comes down to game 162 for the Rays, Red Sox, Braves, and Cardinals.
The Phillies took it to the Braves last night at Turner Field 7-1. They roughed up Braves starter Derek Lowe, dropping him to 9-17 on the year. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, and Hunter Pence all went deep for the Phillies. The Phillies tied the franchise record for wins in a season with 101 and Charlie Manuel tied Gene Mauch for most wins all time as Phillies manager. More here
The Cardinals took advantage of the Braves loss last night by exploding in the 6th, 7th, and 8th innings to a 13-6 win over the Astros to tie up the NL Wild Card race. Cards ace Chris Carpenter faces off against former Phillie Brett Myers tonight in Houston. More here
The Red Sox squeaked out an 8-7 victory over the Orioles last night. Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon got Adam Jones to ground out to third with the tying run on second to end the game. They remain tied with the Rays for the AL Wild Card lead. More here
The Rays and Red Sox remain tied because the Rays beat the Yankees 5-3 last night at Tropicana Field. The Rays even turned a triple play to get out of a bases loaded jam in the 6th. More here
Video of the Game: