Happening Elsewhere: Dammit, Raul

Happening Elsewhere: Dammit, Raul

Raul Ibanez's 2011 NLDS Splits for the Phillies: .200/.200/.400
Raul Ibanez's 2012 ALDS Splits for the Yankess Through Three Games: .600/.666/1.500

Remember last year when Raul Ibanez hit a fly ball to deep right in
Game Five of the NLDS, and the TBS cameraman panned up and out like it
was gonna be a second-decker or something, and instead it dropped
innocuously into Lance Berkman's glove a couple feet short of the track?
That was frustrating—especially considering how, you know, the Phillies
didn't score at all that game and they ended up losing the game 1-0 and
the series 3-2.

Well, good news, everybody: Raul did hit a couple of those fly balls
in the playoffs last night, and this time they actually dropped on the
other side of the fence. Unfortunately, it was for the Yankees, the
second-to-last ranked team in our MLB Playoff Bandwagon Rankings, and
they came against our #1 team, the Baltimore Orioles, at the worst
possible time for them.

The first shot came off O's closer Jim Johnson in the bottom of the
ninth with New York down 2-1, when Yanks manager Joe Girardi made the
controversial-but-not-really decision to sub in Rauuuul for Alex
Rodriguez, who's been slugging at about a Wilson Valdez-caliber clip the
last few past seasons. The move paid off, to say the least, as Raul
deposited a 1-0 pitch about seven rows back in the right field
bleachers, tying the game at 2-2. Nine batters later, Raul decided not
to bother taking the first pitch, and instead blasted the first offering
from reliever Brian Matusz—in the second deck for real this
time—walking off the Yanks in the 12th with a 2-1 series lead.

Of course, we're happy for Raul, the classiest of acts during his
three years in the Red and White—we weren't even mad at him for failing
to go yard in the Chris Carpenter game (though we wanted to strangle
that fucking overzealous cameraman), and for him to become a post-season
legend at the age of 40 is a pretty cool thing. Did it have to be for
the goddamn Yankees, though? Couldn't this have been Jim Thome providing
fourth-act heroics for the plucky, upstart Orioles instead? The Bombers
already have enough natural competitive advantages without getting
pixie-dust sprinklings like this as well.

Anyway, the lesson here is obvious: Next time the Phils make the
playoffs, move the right field wall in about 15 feet. Just to be on the
safe side.

Watch: The Phillies pulled off the old double steal

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Watch: The Phillies pulled off the old double steal

The Philadelphia Phillies are attempting to salvage something this afternoon in Detroit this as they take on the Tigers. The Fightins got on the board early and hold a 2-0 lead midway through the second.

After a Peter Bourjos single scored Ryan Howard, Odubel Herrera came up to bat and didn't even have to move to get another run in.

The Phillies pulled off a double steal with Bourjos taking second which allowed Andres Blanco to come home easily.

With the Phils showing such little pop at the plate this season, a little hustle and ingenuity is needed.

Today's lineup: Phillies try to salvage game against struggling Anibal Sanchez

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Today's lineup: Phillies try to salvage game against struggling Anibal Sanchez

Justin Verlander mowed down the Phillies last night in a 3-1 Tigers victory, but the Phils have a chance to strike back this afternoon against a struggling pitcher who hasn't had much career success against them.

Anibal Sanchez will take the hill for the Tigers and oppose Aaron Nola in today's series finale (1:10 p.m. on CSN). To say Sanchez hasn't had a great start to his season would be an understatement. He's 3-5 with a 6.32 ERA and opponents are batting .270 against him.

In his career against the Phillies, Sanchez is just 4-8 with a 4.94 ERA. Granted, most of those numbers came in the early part of his career with the Florida Marlins, when he regularly faced powerful Phillies lineups. As one might expect, Ryan Howard, who is again in the lineup today as the designated hitter and batting fifth, has seen Sanchez plenty of times. His 42 at-bats against Sanchez are tied for third-most against the 32-year-old righty. Howard's done OK against Sanchez — 9 for 31 (.290 average) with two homers and four RBI. Maybe some familiarity will finally lead to a breakout game for Howard. But, if his massive slump is any indication, maybe not.

For as poor as Sanchez's start to the season has been, Aaron Nola's first six weeks of 2016 have been at the other end of the spectrum.

Today's Phillies starter is 3-3 with a 2.85 ERA. But he's been better than those numbers show.

His .900 WHIP is third in the NL, as is his 5.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His 6.45 hits allowed per nine innings is fourth in the NL, as is his 1.65 walks per nine innings. His 64 strikeouts rank eighth in the NL. Imagine if he got more than the 2.89 runs of support he's been getting in his starts.

As for the rest of the Phillies' lineup today, the only changes see Andres Blanco getting the start for Cesar Hernandez, batting seventh and Cameron Rupp behind the plate, batting sixth.

Phillies
1. Odubel Herrera CF
2. Freddy Galvis SS
3. Maikel Franco 3B
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Ryan Howard DH
6. Cameron Rupp C
7. Andres Blanco 2B
8. Tyler Goeddell LF
9. Peter Bourjos 1B

Tigers
1. Cameron Maybin CF
2. J.D. Martinez RF
3. Miguel Cabrera DH
4. Victor Martinez 1B
5. Nick Castellanos 3B
6. Steven Moya LF
7. James McCann C
8. Mike Aviles 2B
9. Jose Iglesias SS

Watch: Miguel Cabrera gives Jeremy Hellickson thumbs up for fooling him on nasty pitch

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Watch: Miguel Cabrera gives Jeremy Hellickson thumbs up for fooling him on nasty pitch

The Phillies once again couldn't find much offense and fell to the Tigers in Detroit last night by a final of 3-1.

But at least the pitching showed something.

There was a fun moment between Jeremy Hellickson and Miguel Cabrera after Hellickson threw quite a nice pitch that fooled Miggy.

Here's how Jim Salisbury described the fun battle:

Hellickson served up a down-the-middle fastball to Miguel Cabrera in the first inning and Cabrera swatted it for an RBI double. He has four RBIs in the first two games against the Phillies.
 
In the third inning, Hellickson struck Cabrera out on a nasty changeup for the third out. The pitch was so good that Cabrera flashed Hellickson a thumbs-up before spiking his helmet to the ground.
 
Hellickson’s changeup has been very good lately.
 
“I really feel comfortable with it right now and I’m throwing it for a lot of strikes,” he said.

And here's the thumbs up: