Game 1: Second inning

werthHad a early-game browser change on the old (literally) laptop a few seconds ago. A few bugs and kinks in Firefox and Opera led to some research and now I’m running Flock.

We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime the first dramatic play of the series occurred in the top of the second when Clint Barmes skied out to Jayson Werth in right and catcher Yorvit Torrealba was thrown out on a three-hopper at third trying to tag from second. Replays showed that Torrealba was safe, and that the decoy on the cut off by Jimmy Rollins was pretty solid, so mark that one down for the Werth and the Phillies.

To follow it up, Werth laced a one-out single to left for the Phillies’ first hit.

But that didn’t lead to anything. A handful of pitches after the hit, Ubaldo Jimenez got Raul Ibanez to ground into an inning-ending double play. He also struck out Ryan Howard on and 80-mph curve that was set up with fastballs ranging from 97 to 99.

That’s not fair, is it?

End of 2: Rockies 0, Phillies 0

Game 1: First Inning

cliff leePA announcer Dan Baker just told everyone to stand up and wave their white rally towels because the game was about to go live on TV. Nothing like some manufactured enthusiasm to get these playoffs started.

Apparently the fans in Philadelphia need help to know when to cheer.

They let out a loud one when Charlie Manuel was introduced before the game. The Phillies also introduced their players in reverse order, perhaps to feed Jimmy Rollins’ ego?

But we got a look at how much the wind is going to be a factor in the opener when Cliff Lee’s first pitch of the game was lifted harmlessly to right field but it sent Jayson Werth nearly to the warning track.

Nasty.

Nevertheless, Cliff Lee’s playoff debut got off to a strong start with a scoreless first. He also fired first-pitch strikes to the first three hitters he faced, so that was a good thing.

Speaking of Cliff Lee, if you read one story about the Phils’ starter, make sure it is the one Martin Frank wrote for the Wilmington News Journal. It’s an excellent read.

The difference in the first inning for the Phillies was that they went down in order while the Rockies managed to get a pair of hits. Moreover, Ubaldo Jimenez hit 100 on the stadium radar gun, which probably is not wind aided.

Watch Jimenez. He’s going to be really good.

Game 1: Cold wind and snow

windJust got word on a rather ominous weather report for this weekend in Denver. Apparently, Game 3 very well could be snowed out, which would push the series back a whole day and eliminate the travel day back to Philadelphia if a Game 5 is needed.

It also means the Phillies could get by with just a three-man pitching rotation and perhaps could throw three lefties at the Rockies in Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ.

But before we all go changing our flight schedules and get caught making snow angels in Denver, let it be known that predicting the weather in Colorado is a fool’s game. Sure, some folks are calling for a big snowstorm this weekend, but others, like the most-reputable Accuweather have nighttime snow showers and cold, cold temperatures for Saturday.

In other words, not Pedro weather.

Besides, there is no sense predicting the weather in Colorado. I remember a time a few years ago when my wife and I went for a drive in the mountains in which we passed through patterns ranging from 85-degrees and sunshine to sleet and hail and snow all within 30 minutes.

So it might snow in Denver this weekend, but then again, it might not snow that badly. Either way, it’s going to much colder than folks are used to in early October. Better yet, it won’t be baseball weather—that’s for sure.

I’m not sure if we’re getting ready for baseball weather here in Philadelphia, either. It’s damn near gale force winds pushing straight out to right field here at the Bank. In fact, the flags are standing straight up with clichéd waves as if direct from a movie set.

However, Phils’ right fielder Raul Ibanez reported that he did not have any difficulty tracking fly balls during batting practice. From this vantage point, the wind does not appear to be swirling. It’s just headed straight out to right field.

If someone like Ryan Howard gets ahold of one and puts it in that air pocket, it might crash down in Fishtown.

Game 1: Day games, lineups and the Bay Area

Cole HamelsOK, is everybody ready? Does everyone all set up to watch the midday playoff ballgame? Apparently the start time for Wednesday’s opener of the NLDS against the Colorado Rockies was a source of contention because people have jobs and things like that.

What, it isn’t cool to watch baseball at work? If not, that’s just silly unless the worker is going to perform surgery or something. Then no, that guy should not be watching ball.

Nevertheless, I am a bit confused. After all, we always hear about how they don’t play enough day games during the playoffs and kids can’t stay up to watch. But then when they play a day game everyone complains about it because they have to go to work.

Which is it, dude?

From my point of view, the day game is great. These things tend to run a bit long as it is and we need all the time we can get to do some writing and that kind of crap. However, it seems as if Phillies’ pitcher Cole Hamels is not a big fan of the day games in the NLDS. In fact, he complained about it before the game during his formal MLB sanctioned press conference complete with microphones, hot lights and satellite feeds.

Using his “Who are you?” voice direct from that commercial that runs in a veritable loop on the TV, Hamels said: “I understand TV ratings, but I think at the end of the day, most players would rather play when they’re both comfortable and that’s kind of what we’ve trained at—either 1 o’clock or 7 o’clock, and I think it’s more fair for us than the TV ratings, because truly, I don’t think we mind as much for TV ratings.”

Wait… what?

“We can understand that people want to watch it on TV, but I don’t know too many people that are going to be watching this game at 11 on the west coast.”

Oh… in other words, Hamels is ready for his start in Game 2 on Thursday afternoon.

Here are the lineups for Game 1
Phillies
11 – Rollins, ss
8 – Victorino, cf
26 – Utley, 2b
6 – Howard, 1b
28 – Werth, rf
29 – Ibanez, rf
7 – Pedro Feliz, 3b
51 – Ruiz, c
34 – Lee, p

Rockies
24 – Fowler, cf
5 – Gonzalez, lf
17 – Helton, 1b
2 – Tulowitzki, ss
27 – Atkins, 3b
8 – Torrealba, c
11 – Hawpe, rf
12 – Barmes, 2b
38 – Jimenez, p

The key to the Rockies’ lineup is shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Jimmy Rollins, Tulowitzki’s counterpart on the Phillies, talked about the third-year star on Tuesday afternoon and marveled at the kid’s defensive prowess and throwing arm. Plus, Tulowitzki belted 32 home runs in 2009.

Though Rollins didn’t put Tulowitzki at the top of the list for young shortstops coming up in the game, he gave the most credence because like Rollins, the Rockies’ shortstop is from the Bay Area.

That’s when Rollins went on to list all the top ballplayers from his area of the country, such as Barry Bonds, Frank Robinson, Dontrelle Willis, Pat Burrell, Tom Brady, etc., etc. Of course Rollins’ favorite is Willie Stargell, the fellow Encinal High grad whose name was on the high school field Rollins and Willis played on.

“I thought one day they might name the field after me, but nope, it already has Pops’ name on it,” Rollins said.

Game 1: Day games, lineups and the Bay Area

hamels.jpg OK, is everybody ready? Does everyone all set up to watch the midday playoff ballgame? Apparently the start time for Wednesday’s opener of the NLDS against the Colorado Rockies was a source of contention because people have jobs and things like that.

What, it isn’t cool to watch baseball at work? If not, that’s just silly unless the worker is going to perform surgery or something. Then no, that guy should not be watching ball.

Nevertheless, I am a bit confused. After all, we always hear about how they don’t play enough day games during the playoffs and kids can’t stay up to watch. But then when they play a day game everyone complains about it because they have to go to work.

Which is it, dude?

From my point of view, the day game is great. These things tend to run a bit long as it is and we need all the time we can get to do some writing and that kind of crap. However, it seems as if Phillies’ pitcher Cole Hamels is not a big fan of the day games in the NLDS. In fact, he complained about it before the game during his formal MLB sanctioned press conference complete with microphones, hot lights and satellite feeds.

Using his “Who are you?” voice direct from that commercial that runs in a veritable loop on the TV, Hamels said: “I understand TV ratings, but I think at the end of the day, most players would rather play when they’re both comfortable and that’s kind of what we’ve trained at—either 1 o’clock or 7 o’clock, and I think it’s more fair for us than the TV ratings, because truly, I don’t think we mind as much for TV ratings.”

Wait… what?

“We can understand that people want to watch it on TV, but I don’t know too many people that are going to be watching this game at 11 on the west coast.”

Oh… in other words, Hamels is ready for his start in Game 2 on Thursday afternoon.

Here are the lineups for Game 1
Phillies
11 – Rollins, ss
8 – Victorino, cf
26 – Utley, 2b
6 – Howard, 1b
28 – Werth, rf
29 – Ibanez, rf
7 – Pedro Feliz, 3b
51 – Ruiz, c
34 – Lee, p

Rockies
24 – Fowler, cf
5 – Gonzalez, lf
17 – Helton, 1b
2 – Tulowitzki, ss
27 – Atkins, 3b
8 – Torrealba, c
11 – Hawpe, rf
12 – Barmes, 2b
38 – Jimenez, p

The key to the Rockies’ lineup is shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. Jimmy Rollins, Tulowitzki’s counterpart on the Phillies, talked about the third-year star on Tuesday afternoon and marveled at the kid’s defensive prowess and throwing arm. Plus, Tulowitzki belted 32 home runs in 2009.

Though Rollins didn’t put Tulowitzki at the top of the list for young shortstops coming up in the game, he gave the most credence because like Rollins, the Rockies’ shortstop is from the Bay Area.

That’s when Rollins went on to list all the top ballplayers from his area of the country, such as Barry Bonds, Frank Robinson, Dontrelle Willis, Pat Burrell, Tom Brady, etc., etc. Of course Rollins’ favorite is Willie Stargell, the fellow Encinal High grad whose name was on the high school field Rollins and Willis played on.

“I thought one day they might name the field after me, but nope, it already has Pops’ name on it,” Rollins said.

Game 1: Cold wind and snow

Wind Just got word on a rather ominous weather report for this weekend in Denver. Apparently, Game 3 very well could be snowed out, which would push the series back a whole day and eliminate the travel day back to Philadelphia if a Game 5 is needed.

It also means the Phillies could get by with just a three-man pitching rotation and perhaps could throw three lefties at the Rockies in Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ.

But before we all go changing our flight schedules and get caught making snow angels in Denver, let it be known that predicting the weather in Colorado is a fool’s game. Sure, some folks are calling for a big snowstorm this weekend, but others, like the most-reputable Accuweather have nighttime snow showers and cold, cold temperatures for Saturday.

In other words, not Pedro weather.

Besides, there is no sense predicting the weather in Colorado. I remember a time a few years ago when my wife and I went for a drive in the mountains in which we passed through patterns ranging from 85-degrees and sunshine to sleet and hail and snow all within 30 minutes.

So it might snow in Denver this weekend, but then again, it might not snow that badly. Either way, it’s going to much colder than folks are used to in early October. Better yet, it won’t be baseball weather—that’s for sure.

I’m not sure if we’re getting ready for baseball weather here in Philadelphia, either. It’s damn near gale force winds pushing straight out to right field here at the Bank. In fact, the flags are standing straight up with clichéd waves as if direct from a movie set.

However, Phils’ right fielder Raul Ibanez reported that he did not have any difficulty tracking fly balls during batting practice. From this vantage point, the wind does not appear to be swirling. It’s just headed straight out to right field.

If someone like Ryan Howard gets ahold of one and puts it in that air pocket, it might crash down in Fishtown.

Game 1: First Inning

image from fingerfood.files.wordpress.com PA announcer Dan Baker just told everyone to stand up and wave their white rally towels because the game was about to go live on TV. Nothing like some manufactured enthusiasm to get these playoffs started.

Apparently the fans in Philadelphia need help to know when to cheer.

They let out a loud one when Charlie Manuel was introduced before the game. The Phillies also introduced their players in reverse order, perhaps to feed Jimmy Rollins’ ego?

But we got a look at how much the wind is going to be a factor in the opener when Cliff Lee’s first pitch of the game was lifted harmlessly to right field but it sent Jayson Werth nearly to the warning track.

Nasty.

Nevertheless, Cliff Lee’s playoff debut got off to a strong start with a scoreless first. He also fired first-pitch strikes to the first three hitters he faced, so that was a good thing.

Speaking of Cliff Lee, if you read one story about the Phils’ starter, make sure it is the one Martin Frank wrote for the Wilmington <em>News Journal</em>. It’s an excellent read.

The difference in the first inning for the Phillies was that they went down in order while the Rockies managed to get a pair of hits. Moreover, Ubaldo Jimenez hit 100 on the stadium radar gun, which probably is not wind aided.

Watch Jimenez. He’s going to be really good.

Game 1: Second inning

image from fingerfood.files.wordpress.com Had a early-game browser change on the old (literally) laptop a few seconds ago. A few bugs and kinks in Firefox and Opera led to some research and now I’m running Flock.

We’ll see how it goes.

In the meantime the first dramatic play of the series occurred in the top of the second when Clint Barmes skied out to Jayson Werth in right and catcher Yorvit Torrealba was thrown out on a three-hopper at third trying to tag from second. Replays showed that Torrealba was safe, and that the decoy on the cut off by Jimmy Rollins was pretty solid, so mark that one down for the Werth and the Phillies.

To follow it up, Werth laced a one-out single to left for the Phillies’ first hit.

But that didn’t lead to anything. A handful of pitches after the hit, Ubaldo Jimenez got Raul Ibanez to ground into an inning-ending double play. He also struck out Ryan Howard on and 80-mph curve that was set up with fastballs ranging from 97 to 99.

That’s not fair, is it?

End of 2: Rockies 0, Phillies 0

Game 1: Phillies 3, Dodgers 2

Brad Lidge wasn’t messing around tonight. That wasn’t the case in Game 1 of the NLDS where the closer needed 35 pitches to barely hang on to a three-run lead against the Brewers.

But closers like Brad Lidge are Machiavellian. As long as they get three outs with the lead intact, it was a good night. In that case, Lidge hasn’t had a bad night all season. After 41 straight saves during the regular season and three more here in the playoffs, Lidge is a sure thing.

Lidge got through it perfectly in the ninth to give the Phillies a 1-0 lead in the series over the Dodgers on Thursday night, though he did give the fans a bit of a start when the first two outs nearly traveled to the warning track in center.

But again, the end justifies the means.

With that, the Phillies and their homer-heavy offense will go for two in a row on Friday afternoon.

Then we go to LA.

Game 1: Phillies 3, Dodgers 2

Eighth inning: Mad dog to the rescue

An interesting situation came up with one out at the top of the eighth. After throwing a diving changeup to strikeout Andre Ethier, Charlie Manuel bolted from the dugout to have a discussion with Ryan Madson about the next hitter.

Whatever Charlie told Madson was right on the money because it only took one pitch for him to get Manny Ramirez to line out when one swing could have tied the game.

Instead, Madson handed the ball over to closer Brad Lidge with at least a one-run lead for the ninth.

On another note, I had planned on writing about Madson since the last day in Milwaukee, but for some reason I sensed that he would pitch tonight and saved it. Guess what? I’m going to write about Madson tonight. Why not? The guy has been lights out down the stretch with an 0.64 ERA in 13 games and 14 innings. During that span, the lanky righty has held opponents to a .222 batting average, issued just one walk and whiffed 17.

Better yet, after sitting out with injuries for much of the second half last year, Madson has thrived in his first taste of playoff action.

More on Madson later tonight.

End of 8: Phillies 3, Dodgers 2

Seventh inning: To the ‘pens

I’m not a betting man (that’s not true), but if forced to make a choice, I’d say Cole Hamels just pitched his last inning. The good thing about that for the lefty was that he is in position to win his second straight playoff game after retiring the side in order with a pair of strikeouts and a ground ball.

Due to hit second in the inning, Charlie Manuel often likes to take his pitchers out feeling good about their performance. For Hamels, it would be difficult not to feel good about this one – even though his curve wasn’t there and he got into an early hole, all he has to do is sit back and watch the bullpen nail it down for him.

That’s nice work if you can get it.

Ryan Madson was warming up quickly for the eighth when Manuel sent So Taguchi to hit for Hamels with Carlos Ruiz on first (a single) and no outs.

Hamels’ line:

7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 8 K – 105 pitches, 69 strikes.

Here’s one: Greg Maddux came on in relief in the eighth. It was the second time this post-season that Maddux pitched out of the ‘pen and fourth time dating back to 1999. Meanwhile, Maddux has not pitched in relief during the regular season since 1987.

End of 7: Phillies 3, Dodgers 2

Fifth inning: Fernando!

Here’s one for you:

The great Fernando Valenzuela is here at the park doing the commentary for the Dodgers’ Spanish language radio broadcast. I know this because Mike Radano came running over a few innings ago screaming, “You know how they say there are so many celebrities at games at Dodger Stadium? Yeah well, guess what? I just took a leak next to Fernando Valenzuela!”

Sometimes it’s a who’s-who of baseball greats in the men’s press box restroom. Besides, it’s good to know that even ex-baseball greats have to answer nature’s call, too.

Anyway, Phillies fans know all about Fernando Valenzuela. In 1981 the Phillies were the first team to beat him and derail “Fernando-mania!” Fernando also pitched against the Phillies in ’83 NLCS and was the only Dodger to win a game that series.

Better yet, Fernando pitched eight games for the Phillies during the strike-shortened ’94 season. In fact, I remember going to a game at The Vet with my old pal Ben Miller where we saw Fernando’s first game with the hometown team. In his first at-bat he clubbed a double.

I also remember Darren Daulton breaking his collarbone when he got nailed by a foul ball. As soon as it occurred you knew something bad happened because the noise from Daulton’s broken bone sounded like a gun shot.

Anyway, Cole Hamels faced four hitters in the fifth and notched a pair of strikeouts. So far Hamels has thrown 84 pitches with six strikeouts.

How much longer can Hamels go?

Derek Lowe continued to deal in the fifth, recording his 10th and 11th outs on ground balls before Carlos Ruiz and Hamels knocked out back-to-back singles. As a result, the Phillies got their first runner in scoring position.

It stayed there, though, when Jimmy Rollins flied out to left to end the inning.

End of 5: Dodgers 2, Phillies 0

Fourth inning: Dealing or slumping?

Don’t look now, but it appears as if a pitching duel has broken out.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. The old cliché is that playoff baseball is all about pitching and defense is transcends mere cliché-dom. It’s rock hard fact.

Be that as it is, the Phillies are going to have to break out the bats soon. Maybe sooner than soon. That’s because the Dodgers posted another run during the top of the fourth when Cole Hamels sawed off Matt Kemp on the first pitch of the frame only to have him fight it off for a ground-rule double.

Kemp moved to third on a ground out and came around to score when Blake Dewitt popped a sacrifice fly to deep center. Interestingly, Hamels threw a pitch high in the strike zone to Dewitt, which made it much easier for him to hit a fly ball.

Hamels is not at his sharpest tonight. His change is good, but he doesn’t seem to have a handle on his curve or the best command on his fastball.

Lowe, on the other hand, is locked in. He got Chase Utley for his first strikeout, forced Ryan Howard to hit a soft grounder to second for another out, and then whiffed Pat Burrell to end the inning.

The Phillies look as if they left the offense in Milwaukee.

End of 4: Dodgers 2, Phillies 0

Third inning: Change of pace

The second time around the lineup for Cole Hamels looked much sharper. Perhaps showcasing his fastball during the first inning was part of his ploy to spring the change up on them later.

Hamels fooled Rafael Furcal into some bad swings before he grounded out for the first out, then looked to have another ground out on Andre Ethier, but Ryan Howard muffed it at first even though it was (wrongly) ruled a hit.

Certainly, Jimmy Rollins will let Howard know that he has to make those plays.

Manny Ramirez was fooled by a few off-speed pitches, too, before he popped out to short. Actually, it was kind of odd seeing Ramirez make an out because he looks so locked in at the plate.

Hamels is going to need some help from the bats, though. Derek Lowe was one of the hottest pitchers in all of baseball during September with a 3-0 record and 0.59 ERA in five starts. Perhaps the best tact for Lowe was taking him down like the way Shane Victorino did on a close play at first to end the inning.

Dodgers are out-hitting the Phils, 3-2.

End of 3: Dodgers 1, Phillies 0

Second inning: Settling in

The time between the innings is a little longer during this series as compared to the rest of the year. The reason, of course, is that Fox needs a few more ticks to sell some stuff and show those commercials.

Commerce, man. Commerce.

Longer inning or not, Cole Hamels settled in and breezed through the second inning on just X pitches. He whiffed both Casey Blake and Derek Lowe for his first clean frame and third strikeout.

Whatever jitters Hamels had in the first were worked out in the second.

On another note, I was on the Mike Gill Show this afternoon where the host, Mike Gill, made an interesting point. I said the difference in this series could very well come down to the ability of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to produce against the Dodgers’ right-handed heavy pitching staff. To that, Mike said the Dodgers likely would take a similar tact as the Brewers in the NLDS and pitch around Howard, forcing Pat Burrell to the plate in some key situations.

You know what? That Mike Gill knows his stuff. If the Dodgers aren’t going to allow Howard to beat them, Burrell’s at-bats become that much more important.

But when Burrell led off the second with a single down the line to left, he was quickly erased when Jayson Werth grounded into a double play.

That’s a pretty good indicator that Derek Lowe’s patented sinker is working well.

End of 2: Dodgers 1, Phillies 0

Manny being Manny… or something like that

Big crowd here at the ballpark. All the seats are filled and they all stood and gave a rousing ovation to Charlie Manuel and the gang during the pre-game introductions.

I’m sitting here in the press box in the third row near next to Gonzo, who I hope won’t get the urge to punch me in the face tonight.

Really though, who can blame him? Gonzo and Bowa seem to have a lot in common in that regard. Nevertheless, the press box and the ballpark are as packed as I have ever seen it. Chances are the attendance record could be set tonight.

Luckily, the fans got to see Garry Maddox and Gary Matthews, the MVP of the 1983 NLCS when the Phillies beat the Dodgers, throw the ceremonial first pitches.

Then it got really loud with the “BEAT LA!” chant.

From talking to a few of the LA and national writers, it seems as if their read on the series is similar to ours – both clubs are very even and could see it going either way.

However, they all seem to think the Manny vs. Boston World Series is destined to happen. I say don’t forget about Nomar… certainly he left Boston just as unceremoniously as Manny.

Of course Manny made his presence known early when he followed Andre Ethier’s one-out double with the longest RBI double in the history of the park. Ramirez bashed an 0-1 fastball high above the 409-foot sign in the deepest and highest part of center field off starter Cole Hamels.

Interestingly, Hamels’ first eight pitches were fastballs, including the one Manny nearly hit through the chain-link fence in deep center. It also appeared as if he threw a fastball to cross up catcher Carlos Ruiz on a passed ball with two outs.

Call it an auspicious first inning for Hamels. It could have been worse, but the lefty grinded it out.

Meanwhile, Dodgers’ hurler Derek Lowe got through the first inning on just 14 pitches, compared to 23 by Hamels. However, a significant occurrence of note for the Phillies that inning came when Chase Utley roped a single to center with two outs.

End of 1: Dodgers 1, Phillies 0

Pregame: Your town stinks

The Phillies seem pretty loose during batting practice, especially Jimmy Rollins who joked around with his former manager Larry Bowa as the Dodgers were preparing to take the field. Actually, watching Rollins and Bowa hobnob was kind of like that scene in the first Rocky movie where Sly watches Apollo Creed goof around with Joe Frazier in the ring before the big fight.

Sly’s line was: “You think they know each other?”

Mickey just laughed.

Anyway, Bowa and Rollins DO know each other. Quite well, in fact. However, I suspect Rollins likes Bowa better now that he works for the Dodgers. That’s just a guess though. One thing I do know is that Bowa is as talkative as ever with me – I think I rub him the wrong way which is quite understandable. I mean think about it… a hardscrabble guy from Sacramento who had to fight and scrap for every little thing he ever achieved like Bowa and a goofy dude like me from Washington and Lancaster who makes wise cracks and writes sentences for a living.

Hell, now that I think about it, I don’t like me anymore.

Speaking of writers who need a little love, I just had the distinct pleasure of meeting TJ Simers of the LA Times. Simers, of course, is known for his deep love and affection for our fair city. That’s cool, I guess, if you’re into that whole your-city-sucks bit. After all, no one ever has trotted that stuff out before.

Nevertheless, my belief is that the your-favorite-town-stink jag is an older generation thing. At least it seems like it’s property of the folks older than me and beyond. The younger set seems to enjoy each and every city for what it is – a new place to check out and explore. Frankly, the more off the beaten path a place is the better. That’s part of the reason why I enjoyed Milwaukee so much… come on, it was Milwaukee.

When am I ever going to make it back to Milwaukee again?

So TJ Simers doesn’t like Philadelphia… whatever. Worse, the LA Times flew him all the way across the country to come here and write about how people from Philadelphia are angry. Gee, that’s money well spent.

Here’s the funny part, though – Simers wrote a column about the angry folks in Philadelphia and guess what? He got a pile of angry e-mails from people from Philadelphia.

Who saw that coming?

Anyway, introduction time here. My guess is Bowa gets big cheers…

But not bigger than Charlie Manuel.

Game 1 lineups

There e a lot of topics to discuss today so we’ll just start with the most important stuff with a spate of random posts until we get into the meat of things at game time. But first I suggest everyone click over to check out the new CSN web site.

Looks pretty sharp, huh?

Here are the lineups for Game 1 of the NLCS:

Phillies
11 – Jimmy Rollins, ss
8 – Shane Victorino, cf
26 – Chase Utley, 2b
6 – Ryan Howard, 1b
5 – Pat Burrell, lf
28 – Jayson Werth, rf
7 – Pedro Feliz, 3b
51 – Carlos Ruiz, c
35 – Cole Hamels, p

Dodgers
15 – Rafael Furcal, ss
16 – Andre Ethier, rf
99 – Manny Ramirez, lf
55 – Russell Martin, c
7 – James Loney, 1b
27 – Matt Kemp, cf
30 – Casey Blake, 3b
33 – Blake Dewitt, 2b
23 – Derek Lowe, p

Game 1: Phillies 3, Brewers 1

I’m not sure, but I’d be willing to beat that Brad Lidge has moved past that game in Houston in the playoffs when Albert Pujols smacked that bomb deep into the night.

Remember that one? Some say it was the reason why he struggled for a bit during his time with the Astros and led to his trade to the Phillies.

Either way, it appears to have worked out pretty well for both the Phillies and Lidge. After all, 41-for-41 in save opportunities is pretty darned good. Better yet, his 1.95 ERA is a tad inflated by a handful of rocky outings in non-save appearances.

Plus, Lidge nailed down the Game 1 victory with a six-hitter save where he notched three strikeouts on 35 pitches.

Heading into the game, Lidge threw at least 24 pitches in his last three save chances, which is a bit too high. In fact, the last time the closer had a 1-2-3 save was Sept. 18 in Atlanta. But since the closer is only working for one inning he doesn’t really have to be the model of efficiency.

He clearly took his time in Game 1 by going to deep counts against nearly everyone. Four hitters worked the count to 3-2 and Ryan Braun doubled down the line in right to help push across the Brewers only run, while J.J. Hardy walked with two outs.

In the end, though, it wasn’t enough.

Lidge is Machiavellian. The end justifies the means. He’ll get there at his own pace.

But is it OK to be worried that it’s taking a little too long?

Game 1: Phillies 3, Brewers 1

Eighth inning: Long time coming

Today’s attendance is the second-largest crowd in CBP history with an announced 45,929. The largest crowd was Game 2 of last year’s NLDS against the Rockies with 45,991.

I bet the record falls tomorrow.

Nevertheless, the Phillies are three outs away from their first post-season victory since Game 5 of the 1993 World Series. That was the game where Curt Schilling tossed a three-hit shutout against the Blue Jays at the Vet.

I was there in the press box that day. In fact, I’ve been in the press box for the last eight Phillies’ playoff games in a row and 11 of the last 16.

I’m getting old.

Still, Cole Hamels is through eight innings with 101 pitches, two hits, one walk and nine strikeouts. If he’s going to top Schilling’s effort he’s gone to have to politick the hell out of manager Charlie Manuel because Brad Lidge is getting warmed up in the bullpen.

Whether Lidge or Hamels takes the mound in the ninth, they will face the top of the Brewers’ order.

On another note, both the Dow and the Nasdaq were down today. Hey, who needs to retire…

End of 8 Phillies 3, Brewers 0

Seventh inning: Sage advice

My goal after this game is to find out what Jamie Moyer was telling Cole Hamels during the bottom half of the sixth inning. While the Phillies were hitting, the elder and younger lefties were shown on TV deep in conversation in which Moyer appeared to be doing a lot of talking and Hamels was doing a lot of listening.

Certainly it’s no secret that Hamels really, really looks up to Moyer. In fact, whenever he has a question about the game or certain situations, Moyer is the first person the kid seeks out. Better yet, Hamels often tells anyone who will listen that one of his goals in baseball is to have a career as long as Moyer’s.

Based on the way Hamels adheres to a holistic regimen and gets those regular chiropractic/A.R.T. treatments, he could do it.

Neither team got a hit or a base runner in the seventh. Worse for the Phillies, Carlos Villanueva struck out the side while Jayson Werth got a hat trick.

Through seven, Hamels has thrown 90 pitches. He’ll get one more inning before the Phillies turn it over to Brad Lidge

End of 7 Phillies 3, Brewers 0

Sixth inning: Is that a rally?

OK, has it gotten ridiculous yet? I mean really… come on.

Hamels has allowed hits in back-to-back innings after Craig Counsell dropped one into center with one out. To top it off, free-swingin’ Mike Cameron drew a 3-0 count before drawing a five-pitch walk.

That’s two straight hitters on base in a row!

!!!

Hamels quickly put out the fire with his eighth strikeout of the game vs. Bill Hall before getting Ryan Braun to pop up to short. Still, the Brewers actually had a runner in scoring position.

Apropos of nothing, one of the TV dudes from Milwaukee actually cheered in the press box after Counsell’s single. C’mon… what is that?

On the other hand, it’s a good thing Hamels is dealin’ because the Phillies aren’t hittin’. Aside from that little uprising in the third, the Phillies have pounded out a lusty three hits. Had Mike Cameron been able to haul in Chase Utley’s double, the Phils would be in a precarious spot.

Instead, they might be cruising.

End of 6 Phillies 3, Brewers 0

Fifth inning: No no-no

Cole Hamels got into his first bit of trouble during the fifth inning… that is if you call a full count trouble.

Based on the way Hamels has been pitching so far, yes, a 3-2 count is a veritable rally.

But Hamels quashed it when he got Prince Fielder to chase the 3-2 pitch. Then he got J.J. Hardy to bounce a 2-2 pitch to short. Corey Hart wasn’t going to wait for 3-2 though. Instead he punched one to right for a solid single, 13 outs away from the no-no.

To this day, Kevin Millwood’s no-hitter against the Giants at The Vet is the only one I have ever seen. Ever. That counts little league, minor leagues and everything all over the map.

Except for wiffle ball, but that doesn’t count.

Either way, Hamels has six strikeouts and no walks through five.

Yovani Garrardo was not around to see the fifth inning. Instead, Dale Sveum brought in side-arming lefty Mitch Stetter to face the Phillies’ lefties Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. When righty Pat Burrell came up, Sveum went for Carlos Villanueva.

I believe that is Spanish for “New Village.”

Garrardo’s line: 4 IP, 3 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 5 BB, 3 K – 75 pitches, 37 strikes.

End of 5 Phillies 3, Brewers 0

Fourth inning: Flat out dealin’

Don Larsen is the only pitcher in Major League history to throw a no-hitter during the post-season when he beat the Brooklyn Dodgers with a perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

I wonder if Larsen looked anything like the way Cole Hamels looks today?

Through four innings, the Brewers have gone 12 for 12 in making outs after Hamels cruised through the last frame with just eight pitches. Thirty of Hamels’ 44 pitches have been strikes.

Yovani Garrardo re-grouped after that rough third inning in which he allowed the Phillies to bat around. Jimmy Rollins laced a two-out single to right,

However, with 75 pitches under his belt, Garrardo’s remaining time is short. Manager Dale Sveum has reliever Carlos Villanueva tossing in the bullpen.

End of 4 Phillies 3, Brewers 0

Third inning: No big threat

Just like the raindrops, the strikes keep pouring out there for Cole Hamels. After three innings, the crafty lefty is still perfect with four whiffs and 36 pitches (24 strikes).

Because of the early perfection, the no-hitter cards are out. That means Mike Radano of the Courier Post walks around with 10 cards in which other scribes will select after they give him $5. If the player in the position of the batting order coincides with the a number on the card, that person wins all the $5 bills.

If Hamels tosses a no-hitter, the person with the King gets the cash.

Clever little contest, huh?

Carlos Ruiz got the first hit of the game to lead off the third. When Hamels reached base on an error a few pitches later, the Phillies had a bona fide rally going.

Trouble for the Brewers, right?

Guess again. First, Jimmy Rollins popped out to left after swinging at the first pitch from Gallardo. Then Jayson Werth whiffed on a 2-2 pitch for his second strikeout of the game.

Just when it looked as if the Phillies were going out with barely a whimper, Chase Utley laced a two-run double to center that nearly landed in the webbing of Mike Cameron’s glove.

Cameron is as good as any center fielder out there (at least he used to be), so when he put his left arm up it looked as if he was easily going to haul it in. However, on his first jump it looked like Cameron came in instead of back to get the liner.

Just like that the Phillies finally broke through for a lead in a playoff game. Better yet, with the way Hamels is pitching the two runs might be more than enough.

But just to show they weren’t kidding around, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell and Shane Victorino drew consecutive walks with two outs. Victorino’s came with the bases loaded to give the Phils three, unearned runs.

Center City has come back into view. Maybe the storm has blown over?

End of 3 Phillies 3, Brewers 0

2nd inning: Big wind and big rain

Don’t look now (OK… go ahead), but it looks like a storm is brewing.

That’s no metaphor, either. It really looks like a real, downpour with thunder and lightning and all of that jazz is creeping up on us. Judging from the view of the in-motion weather map on Rich Hofmann’s laptop, there are a bunch of greens, yellows and oranges about to cover up South Philadelphia.

That’s not good.

It’s not good because Cole Hamels is dealing right now. In the second the lefty sat ‘em down in order on just 11 pitches with one more strikeout. If the game goes into a delay, that could be the end of Hamels’ outing.

As I typed that sentence, Kevin Horan of Phillies.com said, “You know, if there’s a delay they could lose Hamels.”

See, the kid is sharp. It’s also his birthday. No. 23 for the kid… remember when you were 23?

Yeah.

Anyway, Ryan Howard beat the shift by working a walk. However, he was quickly erased when Pat Burrell grounded into a first-pitch double play. Apparently Burrell’s back is OK, but he’s not any faster.

The inning began with steady raindrop and a gusting wind blowing toward right field that could be deadly if a hitter got one up in the stream. In fact, it is so murky, blustery and cloudy that the visage of Center City off in the distance disappeared.

Goose eggs. No hits or nuthin’

End of 1 Phils 0, Brewers 0

1st inning: Nothing doing

Strangely enough, it seems as if there are more people here than last year. That’s strange because the Rockies had many more of TV and newspaper folks that traveled with the club than the Brewers. I don’t know what market size Milwaukee is, but it doesn’t seem as if they have all that many writers in town.

In fact, I wagered that there will be more Philly media in Milwaukee than Milwaukee media in Milwaukee.

That was three Milwaukees in one sentence. I bet that’s a record.

Interestingly, Cole Hamels took the mound sans sleeves for Game 1. This is interesting because last year he did wear a long-sleeved shirt on a sunny and balmy afternoon. By the second inning, Hamels was sweating through both his under and uniform shirts.

Here in the first inning, Hamels is looking free and easy with his naked arms out there in the breeze of a rather cool afternoon. Truth be told, it feels like a perfect afternoon for a nice, long run.

Without the sleeves, Hamels mowed down the Brewers in the first with a pair of strikeouts and a pop up. It took him 14 pitches (nine strikes) to handle the Brewers in the opening frame.

Yovani Gallardo took the mound for just the fifth time all season. Because of that, the 22-year-old righty seems to be an odd choice to start the Brewers’ first playoff game since 1982. However, before he tore up a knee ligament while covering first base during a game last May, Gallardo pitched pretty well in 20 starts for the Brewers in his rookie season.

The kid showed why he’s one of the Brewers’ top prospects by retiring the Phillies in order in the first on 12 pitches (nine strikes). Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley hit the ball hard, but directly at guys wearing gloves.

End of 1 Phils 0, Brewers 0

Pregame: Myers in a brand-new role

Brett Myers appeared in the NLDS last season, but only went just 1 1/3 innings. After all, back then he was the Phillies’ closer instead of the top-of-the-rotation starter. As such, Myers had a different type of playoff experience last year compared to the one he’ll have on Thursday night when he faces the Brewers in Game 2.

“I was never in a key situation,” Myers said of last year’s playoff appearances. “I mean, it was a key situation because it was the playoffs, but it really wasn’t a save situation type thing.

“It was fun to be a part of. I wish we were on the other end of it. This year it’s more in my hands and the starters’ hands to get us a lead so we can get to (Brad) Lidge and give him that opportunity.”

That’s the plan, anyway. Myers is capable of throwing a good game based on the way he pitched during a majority of the second half following his return from a minor-league exile. However, after a complete-game, two-hit shutout against the Brewers on short rest two weeks ago, Myers has produced two straight clunkers.

In his first 11 starts after the All-Star Break, Myers went 7-2 with a 1.80 ERA. But in his last two starts, Myers went 0-2 with a 15.12 ERA.

Big difference.

So maybe getting a chance to face the Brewers again will be a remedy… right?

“Absolutely nothing,” Myers said. “It’s the playoffs. It’s different. It’s a totally different atmosphere. Those guys are going to step it up a little bit more.”

Game 1 is about to start. I’ll be back after the first.

Pregame: Burrell in the lineup

Greeting from friendly Citizens Bank Park where we are back in the same spot for Game 1 of the NLDS just the way we were last year. Better yet, just so we don’t confuse anyone the live, in-progress updates will flow like water from a faucet.

Indeed.

Lots of media here today as one would expect… looks like those newspaper types are still hanging on while they still can. Hang tough, guys. It won’t be much longer…

Nevertheless, there was plenty of intrigue here at the Park this morning. For one, manager Charlie Manuel told us he made out two different lineups for the opening game. In one, Pat Burrell was in his normal spot in the order and playing left field just like always.

But in another, Jayson Werth shifted from right field to left and veteran Matt Stairs was slated to play right. That contingency was made just in case Burrell’s aching back did not hold up following a strain he suffered during batting practice yesterday.

However, after he took his hacks this afternoon, Burrell shot Manuel the thumbs up and declared himself ready to go. Besides, trainer Scott Sheridan said Burrell was feeling “significantly better” last night and showed up at the park at 8 a.m. this morning for treatment.

So far everything appears to be OK for Burrell and the Phillies.

Here’s today’s lineup:

11 – Rollins, ss
28 – Werth, rf
26 – Utley, 2b
6 – Howard, 1b
5 – Burrell, lf
8 – Victorino, cf
7 – Feliz, 3b
51 – Ruiz, c
35 – Hamels, p

The Brewers will counter with:

25 – Cameron, cf
2 – Hall, 3b
8 – Braun, lf
28 – Fielder, 1b
7 – Hardy, ss
1 – Hart, rf
23 – Weeks, 2b
18 – Kendall, c
49 – Gallardo, p

Meanwhile, the Phillies will go with 11 pitchers during the first round which means reliever Rudy Seanez will not be on the NLDS roster. Instead, the Phillies will have outfielder So Taguchi off the bench and rookie lefty J.A. Happ as the long man. This morning Manuel said the roster decisions were difficult.

“That was the toughest decision we had to make. Seanez played a big part in our season, especially early and all the way up to July,” Manuel said.

“Happ is on the roster in case we need a long guy real early or incase we get into a situation where the game goes into extra innings and we need a multiple innings guy.”

Finally, Shane Victorino’s shin is fine, too.

Check back closer to game time. I’m going to fight the crowd and find something to eat in the dining room.

Game 1 to the Rockies

Pat BurrellBrett Myers started the ninth, which makes it more and more unlikely that we won’t see Kyle Lohse out of the bullpen today. If Lohse doesn’t pitch tomorrow, either, perhaps he will be ready to go as the starter in Game 3 from Coors Field?

Maybe holding back Jamie Moyer an extra day for Game 4 on Sunday will be a perfect amount of rest for the 44-year old veteran?

That is if there is a Game 4.

Anyway, Myers struck out the first two hitters of the inning, gave up a pair of singles, and then whiffed Kaz Matsui to finish the frame.

But needing a pair of runs in the ninth to tie, the Rockies’ reliever Manny Corpas had to face the big boppers in the Phillies’ order.

When Ryan Howard was punched out for out No. 1, the big fella lit into home-plate ump Dale Scott, even going so far as to pump his fists in rage as a borderline call for strike two.

Aaron Rowand grounded out weakly for the second out and Pat Burrell battled through an eight-pitch at-bat before flying out to center to end the game.

Game 2 is set for 3 p.m. tomorrow.

I’ll have more of the color and pageantry of the losing clubhouse later on…

Strike three, con’t…

Matt HollidayTom Gordon remained in for the eighth where he struck out Tulowitzki only to follow that up with a home run to Matt Holliday that might strike the earth’s surface by sunset.

The foul Holliday hit was a rocket – his homer was a bomb.

It also spelled the end of the work day for Gordon. J.C. Romero came in and pitched two-third of an inning to extend his scoreless games streak to 21.

Tadahito Iguchi pinch hit for Romero to start the eighth and grinded out a six-pitch walk. Things always seem to happen when Iguchi gets into a game… maybe that’s a story for later in the series. The premise will be: Things happen when Tadahito Iguchi gets into the game.

Call the Pulitzer people.

But things haven’t been happening when the meat of the Phillies’ order has stepped to the plate. Jimmy Rollins is 0-for-3 with a whiff, a double play and a walk. Shane Victorino is 0-for-4 with a whiff. Chase Utley was punched out looking against another lefty – reliever Brian Fuentes – for auspicious Golden Sombrero.

Mix in the 0-for-3 with a pair of whiffs for Ryan Howard and the top four hitters for the Phillies are 0-for-14 with eight strikeouts.

Wow.

Exit, stage right

Cole HamelsRyan Spilborghs snapped Cole Hamels’ streak of 13 straight outs with a walk. Spilborghs is another difficult name to spell. Not as bad as Tulowitzki, but Spilborghs… what is that?

S-P-I-L-B-O-R-G-H-S

Of course a dude named “Finger” is making fun of guys named Tulowitzki, Zolecki and Spilborghs.

Cute.

Anyway, Hamels recovered from the walk to retire the next two hitters on a lazy fly to right, and a bouncing ball into the hole behind first that Chase Utley neatly fielded and flipped to Ryan Howard at first.

He might not be hitting, but he’s helping with the glove.

But at the 115-pitch mark, Charlie Manuel headed for the mound in his familiar gait, said a few words to his lefty and then raised his right hand to signal for reliever Tom Gordon. That’s a wrap on Cole Hamels:

6 2/3 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 7 K on 115 pitches – 72 strikes

It didn’t seem as if Hamels was too pleased about leaving the game trailing by a run since he didn’t acknowledge the big cheers he received as he walked off.

Gordon entered and whiffed Kaz Matsui to end the eighth, while J.C. Romero and Kyle Lohse warmed in the ‘pen.

Here’s a new one… Jeff Francis took the mound to start the seventh, warmed up and then when Pat Burrell was announced as the hitter, Clint Hurdle walked to the mound and called for a reliever.

Perhaps LaTroy Hawkins needed some extra time getting loose?

Be that as it may, the best managerial move ever was pulled by Frank Robinson of the Nationals when he called in a relief pitcher, ordered him to issue an intentional walk and then pulled him out of the game. If I recall correctly the pitcher was Joey Eischen. He’s the intentional walk specialist.

Greg Dobbs was the Phillies walk specialist in the bottom of the seventh when he drew a one-out walk and then exited for pinch-running specialist, Michael Born. But a hot-shot grounder to second baseman Kaz Matsui was deftly turned into a 4-6-3 double play.

Remember when Kaz Matsui was with the Mets and was supposed to be the second-coming of Ichiro and Hideki Matsui? In fact, the Mets stuck with Matsui at short and moved Jose Reyes to second before learning (quickly) that they were better off the other way around.

Then they were better off without Matsui.

But Matsui is in the playoffs in 2007 and the Mets are not.

Strike three

Cole HamelsApparently, the second inning was nothing more than a apparition for the Phillies’ Cole Hamels. That’s the case because since that 40-pitch second inning, Hamels has mowed down 13 straight on 47 pitches. As a result, he has given his high-powered offense a really good chance to win this game.

But Chase Utley whiffed to open the sixth. For Utley, it was his third straight strikeout against the lefty Jeff Francis. As a result, it appears as if Utley is in a bit of a slump since he only has four hits in his last 24 plate appearances.

Meanwhile, the whiffs appear to be stifling the Phillies’ offense. Utley and Ryan Howard have whiffed five times in six plate appearances. That’s five of the team’s eight strikeouts.

That’s too many.

Back in it

Aaron RowandOh, I just couldn’t resist. Hamels is back to dealing after sitting down the Rockies in the fifth in order. That’s 10 in a row, with only two coming on fly balls. Was it a matter of getting back to the changeup, or is he still working that curve?

It’s hard to tell from my vantage point.

And here comes the Phillies…

Just like that and the crowd is back into it thanks to back-to-back home runs from Aaron Rowand and Pat Burrell. Both were CBP Specials, which means it’s doubtful that they would have carried out of any other ballpark. Maybe Coors, but there the aid of low-altitude is somewhat significant.

But as the M-V-P! chants rained down on Jimmy Rollins with two outs in the fifth, and Chooch Ruiz swiped second base on a 2-2 count, it appeared as if it was Jeff Francis’ turn to scuffle. Rollins walked on a full count to put two on with two outs for Shane Victorino.

Before the game Charlie Manuel said he put Victorino in the lineup against the lefty instead of Jayson Werth because he wanted to the Hawaiian’s speed at the top of the order. Who would have guessed that it would have been the catcher to swipe the first base of the series?

Either way, it’s 3-2 heading into the foyer of the late frames.

Settling in

Troy TULOWITZKICole Hamels seems to have settled in after that clunker of a second inning. After Walking Troy Tulowitzki to force in a run, the Phils’ lefty has retired seven straight hitters, including three on strikeouts.

Apropos of nothing Tulowitzki is one of those names that I have to read as I spell it. T-U-L-O-W-I-T-Z-K-I. Is that right? I’m always afraid I’m going to spell it wrong… like Zolecki.

Anywho, Jeff Francis turned in another perfect frame. This time, though, he allowed a fair-ball out before whiffing the two hitters that followed.

OK. I’m going to go back to writing the Kendrick thing now. If something spectacular occurs, I’ll toss it up here. Baring that, I’ll post something on the way home from the ballpark tonight.

Todd Helton is good

Todd HeltonTodd Helton is a tremendous baseball player. This is like saying pizza tastes yummy. Regardless, Todd Helton is a great baseball player.

I read something recently in which former Rockies’ and Royals’ manager Buddy Bell said that Helton understood the competitiveness of baseball better than anyone he had ever met. I don’t know what that statement means, but it’s quite a significant thing to say. For starters, it’s significant because there are more than a handful of guys in the big leagues that would thrash out their mother’s larynx if it gave them an edge in a game.

It’s also significant because Buddy Bell is a link to a baseball legacy. Buddy was an All-Star, his father was an All-Star, and his son, David, enjoyed a long career in the big leagues. This means that baseball isn’t just a game or a job to the Bells – it’s the familt business. It runs deep.

So yes, Todd Helton is a fantastic player. He is also appearing in the first post-season of his 11-year career, covering 1,578 games. That should worry Charlie Manuel and the Phillies a little bit, because Helton is not going to take his first-ever series lightly.

My guess is he attempts to thrash out a larynx if given the chance.

Hamels rebounded after his mulligan to retire the Rockies in order in the third. However, it took him 20 more pitches, which puts him at 71.

Be that as it may, Hamels got the Phillies first playoff hit in 14 seasons with one out in the third. Had Francis gotten two more outs without giving up a hit we would have opened up the no-hitter pool here in the press box. Earlier this summer I got my first-ever win in the no-hitter pool – that’s $55 coming back.

Yeah, boy.

Anyway, Jimmy Rollins took care of those last two outs by grounding into an around-the-horn double play.

On the edge

cbpCole Hamels found trouble in the second inning. Better yet, Todd Helton found Hamels… that’s right, Todd Helton is trouble. On the first pitch of the inning, Helton smacked it off the wall above the 409 sign in the deepest part of the park. After a crazy carom past Aaron Rowand and to Shane Victorino pursuing from right field, Helton beat the ball to third for a triple.

Half-dozen pitches later, Garrett Atkins (Chase Utley’s UCLA teammate) laced a single to left to open the scoring. A one-out walk and single made it 2-0. Hamels, strangely, is clearly struggling. He’s also sweating like Dom DeLuise at a clam bake. It’s quite humid outside today, which for the folks arriving in town from sunny and temperate Colorado, feeling our heavy, thick east-coast air must be misery.

Speaking of misery, the Rockies added another run as sweaty Cole Hamels walked Troy Tulowitzki with the bases loaded.

Hamels is teetering on the edge. He whiffed Holliday to end the threat, but strike one to the possible MVP was a freaking bomb that sailed over the foul/fair pole, onto the concourse and very likely onto the street that borders the park to the north… is that Phillies Way?

Either way, it was a bleeping rocket. Worse, Hamels threw 40 pitches in the second inning.

Contrarily, Jeff Francis continued to deal. He whiffed Ryan Howard to start the frame, got Rowand to ground out on a two-strike pitch and then made Wes Helms pop out harmlessly to second.

Nevertheless, Pat Burrell walked to become the Phillies’ first post-season base runner in 14 years.

Big whiffs

Cole HamelsIt’s loud. In fact, I doubt Citizens Bank Park has ever been louder. The fans are cheering for everything. Strikes, foul balls, ground outs… everything.

Yet when MVP candidate Matt Holliday dug into the batter’s box, the fans let out a loud, “BOO!” Then they morphed into an even louder, “OVERRATED!” chant.

I don’t think Holliday is overrated, nor do I think his offensive statistics are overly skewed toward Coors Field. But I do think he will not win the MVP Award. He’ll finish in the top two.

Cole Hamels handled the Rockies in order during the top of the first. He threw 16 pitches – 12 strikes – and it looks like he mixed the curve with the changeup.

Jeff Francis won 17 games and had a 4.22 ERA for the Rockies this season. Those are impressive numbers considering that the young lefty pitches his home games at Coors Field. However, against the Phillies this season he got roughed up in two out of three starts.

The first time he saw the Phillies, the lefty whiffed eight and gave up just four hits in six innings. But the next two outings, Francis allowed 14 runs and 20 hits in a combined 8 1/3 innings.

Nonetheless, Francis got off to a good start when he struck out the side in order in the bottom of the first on just 12 pitches. Nine of those 12 were strikes.

Play ball

Cal RipkenBig cheers for Tadahito Iguchi, J.C. Romero, Pat Burrell, Jimmy Rollins (of course), and shudder Charlie Manuel.

Have the Philadelphia fans finally warmed up to Chuck? If so, it’s about time.

I’m not sure if they showed the introductions or the anthem on TV because all I saw on the monitor above my seat was Cal Ripken’s big, bald head.

The press box is stuffed to the gills with writers. The TV people are relegated to the back rows or the conference room in the basement. As far as media celebrities go, there are none here, unless one counts Marcus Hayes… if Marcus counts, I want to know where the paparazzo is.

On another note, it’s worth mentioning that there was a vegetarian option in the dining room. It’s only a boxed lunch, but it was something.

It’s 3:04 p.m. and the Phillies are on the field.

Pre-game for Game 1

Ryan MadsonJust ran into Ryan Madson in an elevator. He’s obviously still on the disabled list (though he hopes to return for the NLCS) and was trying to get back to the clubhouse to change into his uniform so that he could be part of the pre-game introductions.

It seemed like Madson wanted to get down to the field level via the concourse, which by that point was loaded with fans. Knowing this, Madson pulled a cap over his eyes, threw a hood over his head and dashed into the fray.

I hope he makes it.

Meanwhile, Kyle Kendrick did a pre-game press conference with Charlie Manuel in the basement media room. He says he’s treating tomorrow’s start in Game 2 like it’s just another game (I’m going to write about that, so stay tuned). Judging from his demeanor, I think I believe Kendrick – maybe it is just another game.

Then again, what does he know? He’s 23, was called up in June and though he seems pretty non-plussed about everything, maybe he’s just flying by the seat of his pants… who knows?

Time for the introductions.

The lineups are out

Phillies
11 – Jimmy Rollins, ss
8 – Shane Victorino, rf
26 – Chase Utley, 2b
6 – Ryan Howard, 1b
33 – Aaron Rowand, cf
5 – Pat Burrell, lf
18 – Wes Helms, 3b
51 – Carlos Ruiz, c
35 – Cole Hamels, p

Rockies
7 – Kaz Matsui, 2b
2 – Troy Tulowitzki, ss
5 – Matt Holliday, lf
17 – Todd Helton, 1b
27 – Garrett Atkins, 3b
11 – Brad Hawpe, rf
19 – Ryan Spilborghs, cf
8 – Yorvit Torrealba, c
26 – Jeff Francis, p