The Fourth of July State of the Philadelphia Phillies Address

With the Philadelphia Phillies leading the league with 53 wins and 32 losses by the sheer talent of their pitching staff and occasional bumps in offense, all has been well in the land of Phillies generally.  However, the Phillies are not without their problems, and these problems are perhaps more severe than they were last season.  Whereas the major concern with the inadequacy of the bullpen last season, this season the Phillies have contended with a depleted bullpen.  This is not good news at the present time, and hopefully, it won’t get worse as the season comes to a close.  Despite the 7-4 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays yesterday, with pitcher Cliff Lee on the mound, the Phillies are going into the All-Star Game with three Phillies pitchers, including Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels, and third baseman Placido Polanco.  That is impressive indeed as three pitchers have generally been stellar, and Placido Polanco was one potent bat for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Pitching Staff

The much-touted pitching staff of the Philadelphia Phillies so far has been the best in the league with the Atlanta Braves tied at 3.04.  General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. made certain of an improvement in the pitching staff as a whole, after the San Francisco Giants pitching staff closed the doors on the Philadelphia Phillies last season.  However, the San Francisco Giants are not too far behind the Philadelphia Phillies ranked fifth overall presently with 3.20.  And Brian Wilson of the Giants is still one devastating closer as he is tied for first in the National League with 24 saves, and it appears he may come to haunt the Philadelphia Phillies offense this post-season perhaps.

Roy Halladay has been fantastic this season, much like every season as he is one consistent and elite pitcher.  He’s presently tied for first in the National League with 11 wins with Pittsburgh Pirates Kevin Correia and Atlanta Braves Jair Jurrjens.  He presently has a 2.44 ERA and an impressive 1.03 WHIP on 11 wins and 3 losses.  He is matching last season’s numbers so far with a 2.44 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.  Fortunately for him, he’s not known as a batter.  He’s actually performing worse than last season with a dismal 0.73 batting average presently.  It is only slightly worse than his previously dismal .141 batting average.  Halladay is third in ERA in the NL with 2.44 with his teammate Cole Hamels performing slightly better with 2.41 and Atlanta Braves Jair Jurrjens with a stunning 1.89 ERA.

Cliff Lee has been performing actually better than last season, with the month of June did giving him a boost. This season he has a 2.92 ERA and a spectacular 1.08 WHIP on 9 wins and 6 losses.  In his 2010 season with the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers, he had a 3.18 ERA and 1.00 WHIP.  Cliff Lee at present is tied with Cole Hamels in the National League with his 9 wins and eighth in ERA overall.  Lee’s batting average hasn’t been half-bad for a pitcher.  Currently, he has a .205 batting average and a .22o on-base percentage.  Compared to his 2009 season with the Philadelphia Phillies, he had .212 batting average and on-base percentage.  Lee is certainly no power hitter like Ryan Howard, but he contributes to the Phillies offense.

Cole Hamels has been performing significantly better than his previous season. Cole Hamels is currently tied in the NL with his 9 wins with Cliff Lee and, and he has the second best ERA in the NL with 2.41 ahead of Cliff Lee.  He has significantly improved over last season with his present 2.41 ERA over last season’s 3.16 and stunning 0.94 WHIP compared to last season’s 1.18.  Like his teammate Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels has actually contributed to the offense this season.  He has a respectable .222 batting average and .243 on-base percentage.  Hamels is certainly no offensive batting machine, but he is more than capable of generating some runs this season.  With his injury to his glove hand and cleared to play tomorrow against the Florida Marlins, it will be interesting if it throws him off his rhythm or not.

Roy Oswalt, the least-talked-about pitching ace of the Philadelphia Phillies, has been battling through a spinal injury as of late. Presently, he is on the 15-day disabled list as he converses with doctors.  He is the weakest chain of the four with a 3.79 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. Unfortunately, Oswalt has performed much worse than he did last season.  In his 2010 season with the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies, he had a 2.76 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.  In the meantime, his replacement Vance Worley has performed respectably.  Worley presently has 2.57 ERA and 1.33 WHIP.  Worley too has declined since last season.  His numbers for last season were a 1.38 ERA and 0.92 WHIP on 1 win and 1 loss.  Although Worley does show signs of elite pitching, it’s far too early to count as an ace pitcher.  In the meantime, Joe Blanton, the original fifth ace, is still on the disabled list as well.

Regarding the closers, the Philadelphia Phillies closers still aren’t anywhere elite status either. Brad Lidge has been pitching, and it appears that he is getting closer to returning to the Phillies bullpen.  Ryan Madson is not scheduled to come off the disabled list quite yet either, but no optimistic news has come yet.  Madson so far has had a pretty good season as Philadelphia Phillies closer nonetheless.  He is still 13th in the NL with 15 saves.  He is ranked about 4th or 5th in ERA among closers with a 2.03 ERA. His peer Jose Contreras, ranked 17th in the NL with 5 saves.  Unfortunately, Jose Contreras is still contending with his injury as well.  With the massacre in the bullpen, Charlie Manuel had to often rely on his starters going the distance, and most of them have served him well so far.  Unfortunately, he may be dipping into the well too often, and it might cost the Phillies in the playoffs.

Offense

The Philadelphia Phillies most recognized bat, Ryan Howard, has been performing as well as he did in the 2010 season so far.  He presently has a .253 batting average and a .353 on-base percentage.  Compared to his 2010 season, he had a .273 batting average and .353 on-base percentage.  He is currently second in the National League with 67 RBIs behind Milwaukee Brewers Prince Fielder‘s 69.  It sort of comes to no surprise as these two sluggers contend with each other.  Whereas Prince Fielder is currently ranked 19th in batting average in the National League with .296, Ryan Howard, however, isn’t even ranked among the top 40.  In terms of homeruns, Prince Fielder is ranked third with 21 homeruns. Comparably, Ryan Howard is ranked fifth with 17 homeruns tied with St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols and Chicago White Sox Carlos Pena.

Placido Polanco has been the most devastating of the Phillies offense, but he too has been on decline as of late.  With his injury, he has been out of the lineup recently, but he will return this Wednesday against the Florida Marlins.  Polanco currently has a .277 batting average, .331 on-base percentage, 4 homeruns and 39 RBIs.  He is currently ranked 35th in batting average in the National League.  Statistically, so far, he’s been performing comparably to his 2010 with his .298 batting average and .339 on-base percentage.

Chase Utley has made a triumphant return and his impact on the offense so far has been significant.  Presently, he has a .285 batting average, .386 on-base percentage, 4 homeruns and 18 RBIs.  He’s been performing better than last season so far.   Last season, he had .275 batting average and .387 on-base percentage.  During the last week, he’s performed admirably with a .389 ERA on a homerun and 2 RBIs.

Shane Victorino, the last potential man on the All-Star roster, has been impressive this season offensively.  He presently has a .303 batting average,  .376 on-base percentage, 9 homeruns and 34 RBIs.  Victorino is ranked 11th in the National League in batting average and tied for 37th in homeruns.  He has been a fantastic offensive machine for the Philadelphia Phillies this season.  In the past week, he’s had .381 batting average on a homerun and 6 RBIs.

Phillies Problems

Obviously, at this point, the injuries in the bullpen are a major point of concern with the Philadelphia Phillies.  With closers slowly coming back onto the active roster, the Phillies will have a chance of succeeding in the regular season and well into the playoffs.  Ryan Madson would be the first that fans should want to come back soon, but inconsistent Brad Lidge will have to do for now perhaps.  The next problem has been run support.  That relies on a consistent offense of which the Phillies don’t have presently.  When the pitchers have to win their own game on both sides of the diamond, that is a problem. Lastly, the offense as a whole needs to produce more often.  However, pitchers have become better, and it is an issue around the league as batters no longer have the edge.  After the All-Star Game, the Phillies offensive engine needs to get revved up so the Phillies can make a steady push into the playoffs.

All-Star Game and Beyond

The Philadelphia Phillies are poised to win the division at least and clinch a berth easily into the playoffs.  However, the Phillies are also dependable on a slump after the All-Star Game as the offense collapses in August or September.  It has been that way the past few seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, and this season should go no differently.  While all the clamor goes on the Philadelphia sports talk radio shows and the media about the bats effectiveness, the bats will return somewhat again in the playoffs.  At that point, the only concern is that the bats consistently and constantly generate runs in playoff games, which it has failed to do in the past couple of seasons.  With the way things look now, the Philadelphia Phillies will be joined by the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, the Atlanta Braves and the San Francisco Giants in the playoffs.  This field of potential playoff contenders could well lead to an interesting path to the World Series.

With this as some food for thought, enjoy your 4th of July with your hot dogs, beer brats, hamburgers and assorted drinks!

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Boston Bruins Bring Home the 2011 Stanley Cup: Some Afterthoughts…

After a dominant performance by the Boston Bruins against the Vancouver Canucks for the final game of the Stanley Cup finals, the Boston Bruins bring home the Stanley Cup to their city after three seven-game playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Vancouver Canucks.  It was well-deserved after the Stanley Cup drought since 1972.  With their goalie Tim Thomas winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, he deserved the award with 37 saves and a 4-0 shutout to boot for the Bruins.  Now the Bruins get to return home to add another trophy for Beantown.  Proudly, he ended the post-season with a 1.98 GAA and .940 save percentage.  His rival during the Stanley Cup final, Canucks Roberto Luongo, performed respectably, and he ended the post-season with 2.56 GAA and .914 save percentage.  The Canucks suffered a disappointing last game to end the series on their home ice nonetheless, but it paled in comparison to what happened afterward.

Perhaps the most disappointing thing was that both the Boston Bruins fans and Vancouver Canucks fans caused major disturbances.  Whereas the Canucks fans nearly destroyed their town, with 100 people arrested and 150 hurt, the Boston Bruins had seven people arrested, and they have appeared in the Boston Municipal Court.  Perhaps it’s not the Philadelphia Eagles fans that should get a bad rap after all.  Even with the celebration after the Philadelphia Phillies winning the 2008 World Series over the Tampa Bay Rays, Philadelphia got hit with some malcontents in Center City, but it paled in comparison to what happened on Wednesday night in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Concerning the sport of hockey and the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers still have a lot of issues to resolve, but they should solve the goalie issue first and foremost.  The Flyers do have the physicality of the Boston Bruins, but they need to coordinate their forechecking much better.  The Flyers should make their way into the playoffs again next season, as they have the talent to do so.  Coach Peter Laviolette has some work to do this off-season.

Now as another sport has disappeared into the horizon for most of the country, now the clock is ticking on Major League Baseball as each month passes by. With the labor dispute in the NFL progressing with tempered optimism, sports fans, including myself, want a resolution to come as soon as possible.  And by soon, I don’t mean late August or September.  By that time, the playoffs for baseball teams will be coming into view.  And by that time, either Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay or Cole Hamels will have their sights on the NL Cy Young Award for both of their outstanding performances this season to date.  This has been quite the empty season of sports with no NFL mini-camp chatter or rookie speculation.  Perhaps things are looking up. Perhaps not.

San Francisco Giants Catcher Buster Posey Out for Season: The Catcher Equation in Professional Baseball

With San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey out for the season due to a broken ankle and strained ligaments in his knee, the question on whether and how to protect the catcher has been a much talked-about issue in the MLB.  On one side, there’s the upholding of tradition in baseball itself, and the fact that the catcher has the most protective equipment of all the players.  On the other side, the catcher may be one of the most important players in the game, next to the pitchers, and they should be held as valuable linchpins to be protected.  Last Wednesday night, at AT & T Park, Florida Marlins Scott Cousins collided with San Francisco Giants Buster Posey while he was attempting to score a run in the fifth inning.

Out of three veteran catchers in baseball, Buck Martinez, Brad Ausmus and Bob Boone all agree in consensus that the current rules should not be rewritten.  I have to agree with them as well.  Although baseball is a physical game, it is rarely a physical game, or at least not as physical as football. Most of these baseball players have a longer career span than most football or even basketball players, for example.  These type of collisions typically become noticeable generally only when a baserunner attempts to score, and depending on the physicality or speed of the baserunner, it can become quite dangerous. Cleveland Indians Carlos Santana’s season was ended by a similar collision.  Changing the rules concerning the catchers would be similar to preventing tackling of running backs or wide receivers in football if they are five yards away from the end zone. It is a bit of a flawed analogy, but it gets the point across. This alteration in the rules would change the game itself, and the impact of scoring in the game of baseball would be diminished to nothing.

Unfortunately, for the San Francisco Giants, they lost a significant cog in their offense and an integral part of their defense in Buster Posey.  Alongside this debate, the Giants are debating whether Buster Posey will return to his catcher position upon his lengthy recovery from his injury.  In the meantime, Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart will appear to be both handling catcher duties, with Whiteside acting as the primary catcher.  On the bright side, they are still in competition for first place in the AL West with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  It is too early for the San Franscisco Giants to give up hope and too rash for a change  of rules.

Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb and Jayson Werth in Washington: Something Borrowed, Something Failed

Washington, D.C. The Nation’s Capital but with sports teams, it seems to begin with a capital “F” for Failure.  Last year, it began with the acquisition of Donovan McNabb from the Philadelphia Eagles to become the Washington Redskins starting quarterback for the 2010 season.  This ultimately led to Donovan McNabb’s final departure after the Redskins collapse at FedEx Field in November 15 as Eagles quarterback Michael Vick dominated the entire Redskins team throughout the game.  Ultimately, his erratic gameplay from this game and the rest throughout the season finally forced coach Mike Shanahan‘s hand, and he was released.  While Donovan McNabb was with the Philadelphia Eagles for 11 seasons, he maintained an average 85.7 quarterback rating.  Yet in a single season with the Redskins, his rating plummeted to a 77.1 quarterback rating, significantly below his career average with the Philadelphia Eagles and his last season with them at 92.9.

Now another Washington team has bought another Philadelphia sports player, Jayson Werth.  But Werth has not been the acquisition that Washington Nationals has hoped.  Presently, he has a .226 batting average and a .322 on-base percentage.  This is only his second worst season batting average and on-base percentage so far, with his worst being .208 and .262 respectively in 2003 with the Toronto Blue Jays.  Compared to his four seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, he had a .284 batting average and .382 on-base percentage overall.  On the Washington Nationals roster, Jayson Werth has the 10th best batting average, but he does lead the team in home runs presently with 4. Admittedly, Jayson Werth is contributing to the Washington Nationals and has been getting significantly better batting third in Washington’s lineup.  However, his seven-year, $126 million contract may be too much for his less than stellar contributions previously. Unlike with Donovan McNabb and the Washington Redskins, Werth has not been a complete bust with the Washington Nationals although his production early this baseball season did raise eyebrows.

With free agency, Philadelphia sports fans have to wonder if another Washington team might acquire another sports player, and that player turn into a bust or close to one.   Maybe someone on the Philadelphia Flyers join the Washington Capitals.  Maybe someone from the Philadelphia Union join DC United. Perhaps for Washington’s sake, it would be better if nothing occurs at all.

Cole Hamels and the Philadelphia Phillies Squeak Past the Florida Marlins

With the Phillie Phanantic birthday yesterday, accompanied with his friends and Philadelphia Phillies fans on a sunny and windy Sunday, the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Florida Marlins at Citizens Bank Park 3-2. The Marlins offense was persistent and efficient during much of the game, but Carlos Ruiz ‘s sacrifice fly brought home Ryan Howard for the winning run in the eighth inning.

Phillies starter Cole Hamels pitched quite efficiently in this game with 7 innings pitched, 101 pitches and a 4.32 ERA.  However, he did have difficulty in the top of the sixth inning.   Florida Marlins second baseman Omar Infante started off the inning with a double to the left. Mike Stanton singled to shallow left to bring in Omar Infante to bring the run, closing the Phillies lead to 2-1.   Logan Morrison sacrificed fly to right brought in Mike Stanton for the tie score of 2-2.

Going through the Phillies bullpen, Ryan Madson pitched in the eighth inning with 26 pitches and the win for this game.  He was extremely efficient in the inning that he pitched.

Phillies closer Jose Contreras, perhaps as erratic as injured Brad Lidge, kept things interesting on top of the ninth inning.  Marlins John Buck began the inning with a walk off of Contreras, and Scott Cousins came in to pitch run for John Buck.  Greg Dobbs, Marlins pitch hitter, grounded out to second and brought Cousins to second base.  Jose Contreras then walked Chris Coghlan.  By this time, Philadelphia Phillies fans are holding their breath as the Marlins have runners on first and third base.  But they would get little reprieve as Jose Contreras threw a wild pitch that was luckily blocked by Carlos Ruiz, but Chris Coghlan would earn a stolen base.  Fortunately, Omar Infante’s ground out to third closed the inning to keep the score 3-2.

This was a fairly exciting although low-scoring game.  The Milwaukee Brewers will come to Citizens Bank Park tonight at 7 PM.  The starting pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies will be Joe Blanton who has been less than spectacular this season.  So far, through this season, he has a 10.34 ERA on a 1.94 WHIP.  For the Brewers, they will start Shaun Marcum who has been much better.  Currently, he has a relatively efficient 2.55 ERA on 1.19 WHIP.  Unfortunately, tonight’s game may not go in Phillies favor again with Joe Blanton on the mound.

Philadelphia Phillies Placido Polanco Injured: Another Bat Strikes Out

With third baseman Placido Polanco of the Philadelphia Phillies out due yet another injury, another significant batter for the Phillies offense will be sidelined temporarily.  Luckily, it’s not serious as it is a mere hyperextension of his elbow.  Wilson Valdez came in to replace him during  the pre-season game with the Toronto Blue Jays.  With closer Brad Lidge out as well for tendenitis, the roster for the Philadelphia Phillies is disappearing, even before the season begins. These injuries are seriously testing my patience, but there is a silver lining in these dark days. Fortunately for us fans, the MLB is not having a lockout as well.  Otherwise, sports fans would be in for a long season.

Cliff Lee Back in the Philadelphia Phillies Rotation: Analysis of the Fatal Foursome

Former Texas Rangers’ pitcher Cliff Lee finally has returned to his home, the Philadelphia Phillies, with the rabid Philadelphia fans.  Even he acknowledged that Phillies fans understood the game and would cheer without the need for teleprompters, unlike other stadiums or among other fans.  He denied more money from the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers to come home.  For that, we, the Phillies fans, are grateful — for at least five years under his current contract.

Egos and Rivalries

Roy Halladay, in fact, motivated the Phillies ball club to pick up Cliff Lee again. General manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. consulted with Halladay to discuss the terms of his current contract and the terms of Lee’s current contract.  Halladay’s current contract consists of a three-year, $60 million extension with a vesting option for a fourth season. Under the current roster, it appears that Amaro has smoothed the transition from the Rangers to the Phillies.

In 2009, Cole Hamels performed below average with 4.32 ERA on 206 hits and 10 wins and 11 losses.  However, it could have been far worse. With the presence of Cliff Lee, Hamels performed better after mid-season.  I expect Cliff Lee to have the same impact on Hamel’s performance.

In 2010, it was not an issue concerning egos with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels together.  Another pitcher in the lineup shouldn’t become much of an issue.

Potential Lineup

Based on 2010 statistics, Cliff Lee has the worse ranked statistics of the foursome with 12 wins and 9 losses and 3.18 ERA.  Therefore, he should be last in the rotation. Unfortunately, based on 2009 statistics, he had a 14 wins and 13 losses and a 3.22 ERA. Again, he should be last in the rotation.  It appears the optimal rotation should be Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.  However, with the personality of Lee, he should be first or second.  He carries a poker face and doesn’t appear easily rattled, unlike his teammates.  Also, he was the best post-season pitcher in 2009, and again, he should be the same in this potential post-season.

Rotation’s Impact on Bats/Offense

With most pitchers, they should not be batters, unless they lived in the era of Babe Ruth.  However, we live in a different era, with more days of rest for pitchers and quicker batters. All four batters are no hitters, but Cliff Lee has the best potential, based on 2010 statistics.  He had a .184 batting average, followed by Cole Hamels with .149 being the next best.  Cliff Lee is the best potential batter to be put in a lineup, without resorting to pinch hitters.  The Phillies will have to rely on Ryan Howard to hit like he did in 2006 with a .313 average on 58 homeruns.  However, he fell precipitously in 2010 with 31 homeruns and a .276 average. Additionally, the Phillies will require that Chase Utley performed like he did in 2008 with 33 homeruns on .292 average.   

Defense

Chase Utley’s high-flying ability and Shane Victorino’s fielding ability are the only visible defense for this team.  Utley has shown he is capable of making remarkable plays, but he is also error-prone.  This is perhaps the only major flaw of the Phillies this season and for the next few seasons.  The Phillies defense was unreliable coming into last year’s playoffs, and it is again going to become problematic.

Closer Issue

Brad Lidge had an ERA of 2.96 and 1 win and 1 loss.  If he could perform like he did in 2008, it would be great.  At that time, he had an ERA of 1.95 and 2 wins and 0 losses.  But I think we may face the same issue with Lidge as a closer, as the seasons prior with his erratic pitching.  Now only if we had San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson with his 1.81 ERA last year…

Playoffs or Pipedreams

With this lineup of starting pitchers, the Phillies appear bound for the playoffs, at least until the pitchers’ contracts begin expiring.  Also, all four of them will be in their late 30s when the contracts end.  All of them are seeking their respective rings.  But with the Phillies’ somewhat average defense and somewhat above average bats, the Phillies will have to lean on their starting pitchers to essentially win the game. Will it be good enough?  I believe so, if last season follows the current season, with a few strong teams dominating against mostly weaker teams. Whether we can a World Series or several, that would be a sight to see.

Cliff Lee Returns to the Philadelphia Phillies: Fastball Point of View

In 2009, Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. acquired Cliff Lee from the Cleveland Indians, and the Phillies fans cheered for him every time on the field.  He was one of Phillies better starting pitchers.  In fact, with him on the roster, he boosted Cole Hamels out of his doldrums back then.  Cliff Lee has signed a five-year, $120 million guaranteed contract with the Phillies, and this time, he intends to stay.  Furthermore, to everyone’s surprise, he rejected offers from the New York Yankees and the Texas Rangers.

Now he’s part of one of the most devastating starting pitching rotations in baseball currently — with Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.  As long as the starting pitchers don’t become cold at the end of the season, the Phillies should remain just potent enough with their bats to get into the playoffs and quite possibly the World Series.

Philadelphia Phillies Jayson Werth Goes to the Nationals: Money is Good

Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Jayson Werth has signed with the Washington Nationals to a seven-year, $126 million contract.  The Phillies will miss this potent player.  He has hit 87 home runs and stolen 53 bases in the past three seasons, and Werth is one of 10 hitters to average at least 29 home runs.  He also have exceedingly great defensive skills. In the past three seasons, he is fifth-best among right fielders in Defensive Runs Saved, which is the ability to turn batted balls into outs and deter baserunners from taking an extra base.  The Phillies fans knew what Jayson was, and now they are at a loss.  But what really motivated Jayson Werth to take this extraordinary contract?

After Ryan Howard took his 5-year, $125 million contract in late April, the Phillies entered a slump, and some of it could have been the result of professional rivalry.  Jayson Werth quite possibly was one of those players involved since he was not hitting well at that time either.  With Howard currently enjoying his exorbitant contract, it’s Jayson Werth’s turn now.

Now Washington has two former Philadelphia players in Donovan McNabb and Jayson Werth, and both have been awarded large contracts in attempt to salvage their respective teams.  McNabb has not been successful in redeeming the Washington Redskins. Perhaps Werth will have a better chance with the Washington Nationals.

Game 5 of the MLB World Series: What I Learned About This Game

Tonight is the matchup of Texas Rangers Cliff Lee and the San Francisco Giants Tim Lencicum at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.  Well, no costumes tonight or former presidents to attend this game.  But this is it for Cliff Lee…will he make or break the Rangers?

Here’s what I learned about this game so far:

  • Cliff Lee and Tim Lencicum have turned this game into a pitcher’s duel that we’ve been waiting for. I guess Lee and Lencicum needed some rest to clear their heads.
  • Nelson Cruz had one hell of an athletic 6th inning, with a dive miss from the bat off of Freddy Sanchez and a jump near the wall by Buster Posey.
  • Josh Hamilton has been taught about sending souvenirs (aka his bat) from Buster Posey and Cody Ross.  I guess the skill needed to be shared.
  • Cliff Lee began breaking down in the 7th inning, and Edgar Renteria delivered a blow to the Rangers with a three-run homer. Lee looked devastated.
  • San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson closed the game and made the San Francisco Giants World Champions since 1954. Amazing pitcher in a dominant Giants team for this series.

Well, the Giants won, and Nolan Ryan is pissed. What does Fox have Friday nights on television again?