In this past week in Phillies baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies won three of their five games, bringing their NL East-leading record to 9-4.
The week (defined for our purposes as Monday through Sunday) concluded with a hard-earned 3-2 win over the visiting Florida Marlins, who would have tied the Phils for first place with a win.
The men in red pinstripes split the rain-abbreviated, two-game set, and have yet to drop a series this young season.
As it played out, the Phillies—whose offense had been surprisingly potent the first nine games of the season—only tallied 17 total runs in the five games. On the bright side, they received four well-pitched games from their five-man rotation (who each started one game, starting with an ineffective Joe Blanton).
In such a pitching-dominated week, who are the leading candidates for my third Top Phillie of the Week Award?
A panel of alternate personalities, utilizing the finest technology and expertise imaginable, has identified six somewhat worthy candidates this time around. Interestingly, none of my panelists identified the previous two winners—Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino—as one of the six.
Let’s hope that there’s no jinx at work here.
So, who were the ones who made the cut and boosted their chances for the Top Phillie of the Year Award to be announced in October?
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Let’s get right to the Sizzling Six.
6) Cole Hamels—The best No. 4 starter in baseball—the King of Diamonds if you prefer—pitched very well earlier today in a mid-April version of a big game.
Hamels worked seven innings, yielding two earned runs on seven hits. He fanned seven while walking two. Unfortunately for Cole, the Phils did not score their third run 'til the bottom of the eighth.
5) Ryan Madson—The superb master of the eight inning made three appearances this week, and excelled in each. Madson notched his first win of the season today, and for the week, he gave up only one hit and no walks in three innings. His ERA remains at 0.00, and his WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) is at a silly 0.40.
4) Carlos Ruiz—Chooch only batted 4-18 this week (.222), but that does not begin to tell the story.
One of Ruiz’s hits was a solo homer in the top of the sixth on Thursday, to break up Washington Nationals’ starter Jordan Zimmerman’s perfect game, and put up the first run for Cliff Lee—the only breathing room he would need.
On Sunday, Ruiz drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eight. He also made a terrific play on a surprise bunt, and a great block of a pitch in the dirt in the top of the ninth, preserving the one-run victory.
3) Placido Polanco—Polly does not grab headlines; he just continues to collect hits and play the game the right way.
Polly hit for .429 for the week (9-21) to boost his season’s average to .373. He hit safely in all five contests, with a homer (the first run in Sunday’s game), six runs scored and four RBI.
2) Roy Halladay—One runs out of superlatives for Doc, who added another chapter to his Philadelphia legend with his 3-2 complete game victory at Washington.
Doc scattered six hits in his complete game performance, yielding two runs and two walks, while striking out nine. The other half of the story?
The man who has more complete games (career) than any other hurler in baseball, showed his toughness one more time. When skipper Charlie Manuel came to the mound with the Phils hanging onto a 3-1 lead with two runners on and one out, Doc waved him off simply saying, “I’ve got ‘em. I’ve got ‘em.”
Well, he got ‘em all right, ending his gutsy performance by striking out two batters looking. For an account of his feat, see more here.
It was swift, no-nonsense and dominant. In a word, iconic. Typical Doc.
1) Cliff Lee—It would take an almost perfect performance to top Halladay this week, and Philly’s co-favorite pitcher delivered one.
Bouncing back from an off-game at Atlanta, Lee had everything working versus the Nats on Thursday.
Lee threw a complete game shutout, yielding only three hits and a walk in the 4-0 win. Amazingly, he fanned 12 Nats on only 99 total pitches. That, my friends, is almost impossible to do.
In recognition of this masterpiece (and we may not see a better pitched game all year, even from this staff), Cliff wins our third Top Phillie of the Week Award.
Here is one of those stats that is hard to fathom, or Hard to believe, Harry if you prefer.
(Per an AP recap piece), prior to Halladay and Lee throwing their complete games, no Phillies’ pitching tandem had done so since Paul Byrd and Curt Schilling in May of the 1999 season. This tidbit came to my attention in an AP recap, and my head is spinning to try to comprehend it.
Yes, complete games are rare, but how can they be that rare?
One would think that this pitching staff will not need another 12 years to duplicate what should be very achievable. It may happen again in the next 12 days.
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