Aces Up for the Phillies – Phillies Nation

Aces Up for the Phillies

—Citizens Bank Park

Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz. The early 70’s Orioles had four-20 game winners, the last group to do so. Oakland had a ridiculous staff in the late 80’s led by Dave Stewart and Bob Welch. This trio starting to rise into the same category..

They may not have the win totals this year to back it up – Cole Hamels has just 12 – or the totals over a career to justify this lofty salute. And no, they aren’t quite Hall of Fame worthy (although at some point, all three could be). But right now, none of them can be beaten. They are turning into one of the greatest trio’s assembled in a long, long time.

Hamels is 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA in his last five starts. He hasn’t lost since August 19. Roy Oswalt gets the ball in the series finale with the Braves on Wednesday hasn’t suffered a defeat since July 30. He’s 7-0 in his last seven starts.  Roy Halladay, who pitches tomorrow, has been the Achillies heel of the bunch. Bringing it up the rear, Halladay has only won three straight games. Total slacker the Doc is.

(Off on a quick tangent and speaking of the Braves, how disheartening must it be for that team to come this far, to matchup against your biggest rival, only to have to pitch three guys 24 or younger right in a row?)

Counting up the numbers with super-awesome arithmetic, they’ve now won a combined 15 consecutive decisions for the Phillies. They can’t lose right now. They all feed off of each other, and why wouldn’t they? Each pitcher brings something different to the table, but they all share a common bond. They are kicking royal ass. But beyond that, they have a quiet confidence and it appears they are trying to one up the guy who pitched the night before.

Hamels talked about how being the “only guy” can be a stress. By “only guy,” he means the lone wolf of the staff; the guy with no others to back him. Hamels was that fella early last year. And in the process, he put undue pressure on himself, leading to a down season. This season is very much different.

“You know you don’t have to be ‘that guy’,” said Hamels. “You don’t have to carry a whole team on your back.” Sounds like he knows from experience.

This season, Cole’s had a little help from his friends – the two other guys who help make up H2O. Charlie Manuel was asked who he thought the ace of his staff was. Of course, all three are an ace on any team in the universe, but Charlie wouldn’t point at a partiuclar player. And why should he?  “Whoever pitches good on that night. Thats how I look at it.”

Of course, you have to believe that’s how the rest of Philadelphia views it too.

Perhaps it’s early to call them the mid-90’s Braves staff, as they haven’t had the overall success or longevity. With a postseason waiting for them over the 11 game hump, they have the opportunity to put themselves in that category. And while they may not have the numbers to match the old Orioles and A’s squads, the team success when they take the hill speaks for itself. With a few more wins, the NL East could be all but sealed shut. And you know who to thank for that.

Aces up.



  1. Pingback: Aces Up for the Phillies « Acrylic Sports

  2. Phillistein

    September 21, 2010 at 8:40 am

    It’s what separates the mens froms the boys Sportphans.

    Let’s face it, in baseball, as in life, sometimes you’re the bug, and sometimes you’re the windshield. That goes for ANY team. But the pros win games like this.

    Uh yeah……got five hits against a kid making his MLB debut in a hostile, sold out CBP.

    Sort of like two of the games we took in San Diego when we got a combined 8 hits.

    What do they have in common? We won.

    Hey, who doesn’t like a 9-1 win against a division rival? But, in baseball, as in life – a win is a win.

  3. Matt Kwasiborski

    September 21, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Having these three guys is truly fun to watch. The Phils and Braves were going in opposite direction in late July and the Phils were still dealing with injuires. But the trade for Oswalt injected a fierce strand of confidence into this team. It was only a matter of time before we caught the Braves. The injuries didn’t seem as daunting and the offensive woes didn’t seem insurmountable. Following the Phillies for my 35 years I couldn’t wait until we became the hunted and the team who traded for the big players. And now we have a real staff who can bring home another trophy.

    I mean, who would have thought we could end up with the best record in the NL (barring a collapse) without Jimmy Rollins for most of the year, losing Utley, Howard, Polanco, for significant time? This could be the greatest Phillies team of all time.

    Kudos for Amaro for not only trading for Oswalt but also signing Valdez, Schnieder and Gload- three key guys who contributed when put in there. And kudos to Uncle Charlie who somehow kept this team afloat not only during the injuries but stuck it out with Lidge!

    This is what winning feels like and there is no other feeling in the world!

  4. Adam

    September 21, 2010 at 9:35 am

    I know Bud Black has done a nice job in San Diego but how can Manual not get manager of the year. This team lost their entire infield for significant stretches of the season, lost their catcher, lost their back-up catcher, their closer, set-up man, CF and still they have the best record in the NL. A truly remarkable job by Uncle Charlie.

    What is scary to think about is what this team’s record would be if they stayed healthy for the entire season and all the guys had average seasons (it is safe to say Rollins, Utley, Howard, Ibanez, Victorino have all underperformed to their career numbers. We might be talking about 100 wins for this group right now.

    Cole is just simply spectacular and with Halladay being as competitive as he is, I have no doubt he wins tonight. Think about this, this is the first huge game Halladay has ever pitched. It is probably the first time he has pitched in a late September game with this much on the line. This will be a good litmus test to see how he handles the post season.

  5. Phillistein

    September 21, 2010 at 9:39 am

    Cholly won’t get Manager of the Year simply because – if you look at H2O most will say “DUH – how could you NOT win with that rotation?”

    But those of us who follow the team know what an outstanding job he did prior to Oswalt’s arrival – what with the injuries and the offense going cold for long stretches.

    Honestly, I was one of the naysayers when Cholly first got here. Especially when we could have gotten Leyland.

    However, I now think he’s a special baseball guy. I’d like to think that I can admit when I’m wrong – and I was really wrong about him.

  6. JoefromCamden

    September 21, 2010 at 9:54 am

    The Phillies can smell it.

    The fans can smell it.

    And you can see by the way they’re playing they want it bad.

    It’s really a tribute to this team that they’ve played hard all year – even when the injuries mounted and the entire team slumped – and even after 4 years in the playoffs they still want it that bad. This is team that hasn’t quit even though they could have numerous times during this season.

  7. Manny

    September 21, 2010 at 9:55 am

    “And you know who to thank for that.”


    At last, I think he finally diluted my anger over the Lee deal…

  8. Pat Gallen

    September 21, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I actually meant Halladay, Hamels, and Oswalt are the men to thank, but Ruben could be in the mix too now that you mention it Manny. In some ways though I feel he got really lucky to get Oswalt. I still feel like other teams would have given up more, but who knows. Rube got him and thats all that matters.

  9. Manny

    September 21, 2010 at 10:20 am

    Yea, I agree… especially since I don’t think anybody envisioned how successful Roy2 was gonna be… isn’t his Phillie ERA under 2?
    Still, I think Haren was an even bigger steal… Astros ended up with Happ and Wallace..not bad. Diamondbacks ended up with ???

  10. Kate

    September 21, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Ruben deserves his own float down Broad Street this year.

  11. bfo_33

    September 21, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I don’t think Rube got lucky with Oswalt – he learned from Gillick – GMs would much rather deal for a prospect/youngster they know, vs an overhyped unknown. Wade knows Happ, and while he may not know much about Gose, he knows the system he went through, probably still has contacts to give an objective opinion.

    The thing that amazes me more than anything is the biggest ? at starter is our ace – Halladay. Not that he is pitching bad lately, but Hamels and Oswalt are dominating.

    I think Cox gave up on the division after the Phils swept the Nats, didn’t want to waste Lowe or Hudson on a 2-1 loss. Get the wins in the next series to keep up with the wild card.

    Charlie may not be the best strategist (just look at the way he’s used Madson over the past two weeks), but he should be a unaminous choice for manager of the year. Unlike football, X’s and O’s are such a small part of success in baseball. Putting your players in position to be successful is the most critical part, and Charlie does it better than anyone else. The genius in Stl routinely gets in spats with his star players – how’s that working out?

  12. Chuck

    September 21, 2010 at 10:37 am

    Yeah, that genius in StL sure never seems like a happy camper. That definitely has an effect on the clubhouse.

  13. Brooks

    September 21, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Is the MLB still awarding executives of the year? If so, Ruben gets that one hands down.

  14. Phillistein

    September 21, 2010 at 11:59 am

    Yeah……..the genius in StL and even Cox vs. someone like Manuel, or even a Torre (Torre would a be listed amongst the greats, IMHO if he ever managed a bullpen correctly.)

    I put Cox in the same box I would put a LaRussa or even an Andy Reid; NOT A GREAT GAME DAY manager, or coach.

    Cox and LR can put together a good team, good baseball men, can manage for the long haul. (Cox’s record of 14 straight post season’s and 1 WS title speaks to this.)

    But on game day – gimme someone who goes with their gut and can pull the right strings and come out a winner.

    Cholly had his problems with J-Roll early on and managed through it. He stuck w/Lidge (when virtually no one else did) and that seems to be paying off. Werth was pretty much taken off the scrap heap and look where he is today.

    People not in Philly look at this team nowadays as a juggernaut. And with good reason perhaps. But those of us who watch them everyday know where the holes are. Can you believe they won in 2008 with THAT pitching staff? The core this year certainly wouldn’t be confused with the 27 Yanks, or even the Big Red machine.

    But as a unit……….they more than get the job done. And that speaks to Gillick, RAJ and Cholly.

    I can’t believe people are saying watch the Astros next year. Too phunny. W/wade they’ll get close – but they’ll never get over the hump.

  15. Chuck

    September 21, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Uhhhh…I would definitely watch the Astros next year…

    See what they’ve done since like the beginning of July??

  16. PizzaBagel

    September 21, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Currently working on cheesy yet funny songs for our aces…

    Examples include: “My my my my changeup tricks you, so bad, makes you say, oh my gawd, thank you for giving me another batter now he’s history…can’t touch him, Hamels Time!”

    “Oh there’s no place like home with Roy Halladay. Oh the batters are swinging but no hits are ringing cause the Doctor is here….”

    …Still working on one for Oswalt. Haha. Gotta love this rotation, baby.

  17. Gaze_NJ

    September 21, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    As an avid Phillies fan during the 90s, this rotation is really the stuff you dream about. When we were bringing up minor leaguers that fizzled out in the majors, you knew one day that one might stick. I bought my wife a Cole Hamels jersey on the eve of his first start and told her that she had a jersey for the “pitcher of the future.”But even in my wildest dreams, I never expected Halladay and Oswalt to be his battery mates. Homeruns are great, but watching these guys pound the strike zone is what baseball’s all about.

  18. Phillistein

    September 21, 2010 at 12:47 pm


    A late run is classic Ed Wade.

    Coming close is classic Ed Wade

    Not being able to get over the hump is classic Ed Wade

    Remember 2003, 04, 05?

    Mid season in 04 we were in 1st; finished 10 out.

    2005 – finished 2 out.

    Remember Ed every year at the trading deadline? – “We’re fine, we don’t need to make changes”.

    They transplanted Ed Wade’s brain into a bird.

    It flew backwards into a tree.

    Ed has two trades listed on the “10 Worst Trades in 10 Years” site. (Rolen and Schilling)
    Yeah right – Ed Wade

  19. The Dipsy

    September 21, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    Far worse trade: Gio Gonzalez and Gavin Floyd for Freddie (Don’t Read My MRI) Garcia.

    The Dipsy

  20. Chuck

    September 21, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    All true about Ed Wade. Very true.

    I don’t know, though. Just seems like something’s pretty different under Brad Mills. They have nothing to play for but pride and they’re only 5 games under .500….after being one of the worst teams in the league for half the season.

    We’ll see….

    Oh…and I think JA Happ’s gonna be a good pick-up for them. Not that I’m not happy with Oswalt. That trade HAD to be done. But Happ didn’t finish second in the RoY voting last year by accident.

  21. Brett

    September 21, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    This post, and Matt Kwasiborski’s reply, are particularly timely. I’ve been thinking for a month about which was the best Phillies team I’d ever seen. I’ve been following the team since 1977, and I’m convinced that last year’s squad was the best ever, even after they lost the WS. I’m sure it says more about me as a fan than it does about the team, but last year was the first time in my lifetime that I can remember thinking “we’re down in the ninth, with the season on the line? This one’s in the bag.” They seemed capable – even likely – to come back from any hole, and to get out of any mess.

    This team is much the same, but with substanitally better starting pitching. It’s been a rough year, but honestly, once everyone got healthy, taking over the division seemed like a fait accompli. I know a one month sample is not a reliable measure of a team, but right now, they seem like a juggernaut, the likes of which we’ve never seen.

    So, I’m curious, has this blog ever put together a list of its best Phillies teams in history? If not, it’s something I’d love to see.

  22. bfo_33

    September 21, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Wade has an eye for talent – look at his draft choices with the Phils. But, as Philstein points out above, he’s not very good at midseason trades (although I think he definitely improved the team while cutting costs this summer – Happ will win as many games as Oswalt would have if he stayed, and is a lot cheaper, getting rid of Berkman’s salary was worth it, even if the prospects never pan out, keeping Wandy Rodriguez is a great example of making the right non-trade). Not sure they’ll top Cincy next year, but they’ll be competitive.

    Guys are going to go down – one of the secrets to the Phils recent success is the midseason pick-ups. I used to think the trade deadline was a way to trade future talent for over the hill reputation, but look at the huge impact the mid-season trades have had over the past 4 years in Philly:

    2007: Lohse, Iguchi,
    2008: Stairs, Blanton, Eyre
    2009: Lee, Francisco
    2010: Oswalt

    Not all big names, but wouldn’t have had the success without them.

  23. Chuck

    September 21, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    Can’t wait to see who we get NEXT July. It’s like a little kid anticipating Christmas morning.

  24. Ryan

    September 21, 2010 at 2:45 pm


    The Roy Oswalt trade is the best thing Ed Wade has ever done for the Phillies.

    He’s finally made that big deal to put us over the hump.

    ……………………………… ironic.

  25. Ryan

    September 21, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Actually that’s not true, he did draft Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. He was great at drafting, but could never find the balls to go after big names on the trade block.

    …He also allegedly threw a hissy fit in the locker room after every loss. The players would always laugh at him for it.

  26. Andrew from waldorf

    September 21, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Lets hope Jayson gets hot so the Sox pay more for him.

    I wouldnt pay a dime over 3 years 36. Phils should put that offer out there right now. And thats that. the end.

    Hes gonna get better than Bay money.

  27. Kate

    September 21, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Aw, I kind of still like Ed Wade.

    If anyone’s arriving at CBP early tonight, I’ll be at McFaddens in my Ibanez jersey around 5:30.

  28. Lefty

    September 21, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    I was there last night, and despite reports to the contrary, it was a big time playoff atmosphere.

  29. Lefty

    September 21, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Pat’s point that having these three guys takes pressure off of them is right.

    But it’s also true that the three of them are ultra competitors and although it’s not the same kind of pressure, they are definitely pushing each other to be better.

    The inside competition isn’t hurting Brad Lidge either.

  30. Lefty

    September 21, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Thanks for the link Chuck-

    Not that we didn’t already know, but the point is moot, Jayson’s gone. He has every right to get what he can while he can.

    As I posted before- Good luck and thanks for everything
    And we move on. RAJ will find the right replacement.

  31. Phillistein

    September 21, 2010 at 3:11 pm


    Very interesting piece on Werth. Go Jayson!!! Sorry to see him go. But I do think someone is majorly going to overpay for his services.

    Did you happen to read any of the comments from BoSox posters – too phunny. They think he’s overpriced as well.

    As for Ed Wade – no accident that the Phillies started this run 24 months after he got the boot. If he wants to take credit for Utley, Hamels and the gang let him. You want to think he has a great eye for talent …fine. he should be the director of scouting somewhere.

    As a GM? You can have him

  32. Brooks

    September 21, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    I was there too Lefty and read a comment I guess on the earlier post that there was not enough noise? The place rocked – towels a flyin’ just like tonight will be!

    I’m meeting my buddy at McFadden’s tonight, probably between 5-5:30 – wearing a Howard Jersey (thanks to last nights $dogs… there is a faint catsup stain *@&%)

    Pat, any scoop on the rotation for the last 11 games? I’m curious to know if Kyle or JB are going to start 2 games. I can see where the day off allows for our big 3 to get the final Braves series in but, it looks like a choice that will be made as to who starts the final Nats away game.

  33. Bart Shart

    September 21, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Nice article about the Aces. They are formidible indeed and one cannot feel anything short of optimism when viewing the postseason. I just hope we have three more years with them being successful and free of injury. Let’s drink from the goblet while it is full !!!

  34. teejvee

    September 21, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Tonight’s game is big on 2 fronts.

    The team, for obvious reasons.

    Individually, Halladay needs a big game to shore up his Cy Young creds. Right now, it’s between him and Wainwright.

    Another clunker tonight and Wainwright pulls ahead.

  35. George

    September 21, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    While Ed Wade wasn’t the greatest GM on the planet, we should be a little more fair. Rolen practically demanded a trade, and Schilling had requested one because the team at the time wasn’t going anywhere. You can’t always do well under such circumstances.

    To me, Wade’s biggest mistake was keeping Larry Bowa around too long. He alienated many good players, including the aforementioned Rolen. Maybe with a different manager those ’03-’05 teams would have finished better.

    Wade did at least try for mid-season boosts. It’s just that the players he got (anyone remember Mike Williams?) fell flat when they were traded, just as many other team’s mid-season acquisitions have. Those deadline trades also cost prospects which the Phils may not have had at the time. People would really have hated Wade if he’d swapped Hamels back in 2005 for a slightly better chance to win that year.

    Regarding the Cy Young: it seems to me that Wainwright has been throwing just as many “clunkers” as Halladay lately. It’d take more than one dog outing tonight from Doc for him to fall behind.

  36. Phan in the outfield

    September 21, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    The fact is that EVERYONE thinks EVERYONE is overpriced. Players, esp big name players get a form of “profit sharing”. Big deal. That’s life. Get over it. Those moron posters also said Werth is “old”. He’s 31. Yeah, they’re brilliant. They’re BoSox fans.

    The reason Werth hired the monster that is Scott Boras at this late date is – flatout – b/c the Phillies FO pushed him. He made it known he wanted to stay, he said it several times. Between ST & now the FO paid Victorino, Blanton, Rollins, acquired Oswalt, and opened the dusty Mainline bank vaults to Howard, 18 mos in advance of anything that could be considered a necessity. So now the big bucks are going to a whole list of players who are NOT WERTH (Howard, Halladay, Utley, Oswalt, Ibanez, et. al.) and Amaro is telling the papers they don’t have the money. Meanwhile he refused to even sit down and talk to Werth’s agent, Jeff Borris. Now Werth’s in a position where he’ll have to move his kids and play for a team he doesn’t necessarily want to play for. Anyone in his position would hire Boras & go for the money. Do YOU want to live in freaking Detroit? I know I don’t.

    Bottomline, Werth is worth whatever he can get, the same as any other player in their FA season. The fact is he’s been working for this since he was a child. He’s earned it. The Phillies didn’t GIVE him anything except a chance to prove himself, which he did. He’s a solid player who has earned his way. The Phillies FO didn’t respect that or him.

    And whether or not anyone will acknowledge it, next season when Werth’s gone — the team will miss him (esp Howard). No disasters – they’ll pick up the slack and move forward, but he will be missed.

  37. Manny

    September 21, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    I agree with your post, Phan in the outfield. Well said. They decided to pay nearly everybody –except Werth. However, the FO has surprised me time and time again because it seems that in the end they have some sort of master plan –when we were mad because of the Lee deal, they worked around it and we ended up with Oswalt… maybe they’ll get creative to find Werth’s replacement…

  38. Pat Gallen

    September 21, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    No word yet, Brooks, I think they’ll play wait and see. If they win the division with days to spare, you’ll see a lot of arms resting.

  39. Ryan

    September 21, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Correction Phan…ALL professional atheletes ARE overpriced… But a great post none-the-less. The bottom line is, it always has to be SOMEBODY not getting what they want, especially on a quality team like this with a number of quality players. Unfortunately, Howard, Halladay, Victorino, etc. all happen to be more of an asset to this team than Werth, not that he isn’t one, but he’s the type of player that can more eassily be replaced, whereas you can’t replace Howard’s run production, Halladay’s dominance on the mound, or Victorino’s speed and energetic style. He will be missed…unless he starts to screw up again for another week or so. Then everyone would suddenly not care again.

  40. Chuck

    September 21, 2010 at 5:50 pm

    Yeah, good post, Phan in the Outfield. It all could have been avoided, but the FO decided BEFORE THE SEASON STARTED that Domonic Brown was their man. Pure and simple.

    I’ll be disappointed. But we move on. We’re Phillies phans.

  41. Manny

    September 21, 2010 at 6:28 pm

    Ugh.. I just worry about too many lefties for 2011! Maybe they’ll let Shane bat 5th… and Raul and Brown go back-to-back as lefties in the 6th and 7th spot… Guess that could work!

    Anyway… excuse me for the tangent… we got a game tonight to take care of with Doc on the mound!

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