A Final Duel.

I'll Take Burr, +160.

I’m headed down to see the Phillies game tonight.  As luck would have it, the Phillies have decided to give Chase Utley his first day off and the hometown crew will have 2010 darling, but soon to be pariah Wilson Valdez manning 2nd base.  I don’t go to the games to see Utley, though.  I go to watch Ben Francisco seed rain clouds with his pop ups.  I kid.  The good news is, Roy Halladay takes the ball for the Phils and he has pretty good recent history against the Reds.   He might need to have his best stuff as the Reds counter with Travis Wood.  Wood’s 5.17 ERA may look enticing, but he nearly threw a perfect game against the Phillies in his last start in Philadelphia.  Maybe that was beginner’s luck, but most pitchers that handcuff this line up continue to do it time and again.

Wood is pitching the next to last game in the murderous stretch of 20-straight against winning teams and division leaders. The quality of the opposing pitching has contributed to the Phillies offensive struggles and tonight is probably the last real tough test before a break this weekend when the Phils see the likes of Chris Capuano and Ryan Howard whipping boy, Mike Pelfrey.  The good old Mets.

A lot has been made of how the Phillies pitchers are handling the lack of run support in recent weeks.  This is something that not all pitchers handle with aplomb.  Edinson Volquez recently had a little blow up about Cincy’s offense, and they have one of the best lineups in the league.  For the most part the Phillies pitchers have handled the lack of runs very well.  I think there was maybe a game or two during the stretch that they got let off the hook, because the offense was the trendy thing to bemoan, but they certainly aren’t complaining and the body language looks pretty good.  I think Halladay is the most prepared to deal with such situations.  He seems to run into more opposing aces.  He was pitching the night Wood almost threw the perfect game, for example, and you can usually trust him to trade zeros.

The Phillies are 8-10 in the first 18 of this stretch.  Before it started, I said that anything over .500 would be acceptable and find the Phillies still in first place.  Well, they’ve lost the chance to win 11, but if they finish out the Reds series with a couple of wins, they can even their mark and will remain in first place.  Not a bad ending all things considered. The pressure to get that started on the right foot will rest on Halladay tonight.  I think we might be in line for one more pitcher’s duel.

***

Random question of the day:  How many home dates do you think a football team could sell out in a year?  Assuming players were physically capable of playing much more often, how many home games do you think the Eagles could sell out in a season?  I’m asking because while I know football is way more popular than baseball, it is still pretty amazing what the Phillies are doing in attendance, especially in the current market.  How many people go to Eagles games each year counting the pre-season?  Around 600,000?  The Phillies charge more than 3 million through the gates, and I just wonder if people would have that kind of dedication and tolerance for football.  I’m just saying that it’s pretty amazing to me that 45,000 people make it down there every night, even with the team doing so well.

***

MLB Under of the Day:

I could not help the Padres last night.  Extra innings and still they compiled 2 runs on 2 hits.  Hey, it’s a nice stadium.  Their inability to score leveled my record to 1-1.  I think the obvious choice would be to take the Phils game tonight, but I don’t want to attach any type of stink to that in any direction.  So,

Today’s Selection:  Oakland vs. Anaheim Under 7.0

I really didn’t realize that Chicago/Texas was a day game.  No one will believe that, but it’s true.  No worries.  Cahill is lights out and Reggie Jackson could probably hit clean-up for Oakland right now.  Ring it up.

***

Ten Best Pitchers In Baseball at THIS MINUTE (apologies to Josh Johnson)*.

  1. Roy Halladay
  2. Josh Beckett
  3. Tim Lincecum
  4. Justin Verlander
  5. Jered Weaver
  6. Felix Hernandez
  7. Jaime Garcia
  8. Jair Jurrgens
  9. Michael Pineda
  10. Cole Hamels

*If I was picking a guy to win a big game tonight, these are the first 10 guys off my board, and obviously Johnson is on the DL.

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8 thoughts on “A Final Duel.

  1. No I didn’t stay until the end, and obviously if I was doing my list over, I’d slot Wilson Valdez between Lincecum and Verlander.

    • OH, WOOOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW. Valdez pitched? who dat? i thought he was the first position guy to win w/ a hit or something. OMG. eye of the tiger, didnt see it coming. ya know, if i’d been there…3-Putt, I’m sure I could have helped out too? gotta work on my change up though?

      q

  2. from the espn.com recap:


    Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard put his mitt over his face to hide his smile when Valdez shook off his catcher.

    “I was like, ‘What is he going to throw? What does he have?” Howard said. “It was funny, but he got it done.”

    “If it’s anything like how he throws balls to me, it’s going to be nasty up there,” Howard said. “He throws a lot of sinkers.”

    • ha i actually watched that last inning on espn3 online. didn’t notice him shaking off the sign, but he did hit rolen with a curveball or some kind of junk.

  3. Can’t believe you left. Some fan you are.

    Dannys Baez might receive the first cheers of his Phillies career next time he takes the mound at home.

  4. im hoping it sends baez to the DL.

    he did career it, though.

    he basically combined with valdez and herndon for a complete game shutout against one of the better offenses in the league.

    how that happens, i don’t know.

    I think hitting Rolen was really a nice flourish at the end.

    the boys should be real sharp this afternoon.

  5. Manuel almost successfully bungled this game. As much as I’ve come to not like Francisco, he hit a HR in his first at bat and put another one to the warning track. They lifted him in the 9ths, needing a sac fly that San Fran could have delivered, with the bases loaded for Dom Brown who is 1-15 and looks pretty lost at the plate. A pop up to 2nd base later and the inning was (almost) done.

    Also, watching Mayberry catch liners in center is really hard. He either makes it look easy or gets away with initial misreadings.

  6. The bottom of the ninth was not Charlie’s best strategical achievement to be sure.

    I think all is forgiven with the win, at least for a day.

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