December 1, 2021

SHL National Originals: Injury Bug Bites Phils As Race Tightens

February 15, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

All season long, the Phillies (34-18) have been the pace setters in the National Originals Division.  Nipping hard at their heels is the rest of the division led by the Giants who have kept the Phils in their sights all year.  On May 29 and May 30, Philadelphia lost the services of Jimmy Rollins (.325/.358/.526) and Chuck Klein (.297/.384/.466) after both were injured and gone for at least two weeks.

 Immediately, the Phils felt the loss dropping two to the Athletics and one to the White Sox.  Three straight losses saw the Giants creep within one game but Philly bounced back with three straight wins to share the best record in the SHL with the Athletics and stretch their lead over the Giants to three games.

On the plus side, the Phillies rotation has continued to hold up and Steve Carlton owns the most wins in the SHL with a 10-2 record.  On pace to win 29, Carlton’s 3.24 ERA is third best on the team but “Lefty” has thrown in a few clunkers and with his success, the Phils decided against the quick hook.  Carlton’s ninth win came on May 26th in the Phillies only win in their three game set over the Giants.  Carlton pitched 10 innings in the win and the Phils scored in the top of the 11th on a wild pitch that plated Billy Hamilton and went on to win 3-2. 

Giants Wild About Run:  Winning seven out of their last 10, not only have the Giants (31-21) closed the gap on the Phillies, they have moved ahead of the rest of the SHL to take over the early lead for the Wild Card spot.  Recent rotation addition Joe McGinnity (4-1, 1.95 ERA) currently sits on top of the SHL with the best ERA.  Teammate and fellow rotation addition Amos Rusie (3-1, 2.36 ERA) is not far behind McGinnity in fifth place. 

Even though the new anchors of the rotation are stealing the show, the other three — Juan Marichal (7-2, 3.49 ERA), Christy Mathewson (5-5, 2.77 ERA) and Carl Hubbell (6-3, 3.90 ERA) — have also been impressive.

Streaky Braves Eye Division Rivals:  Currently on a three-winning streak — their fifth of three or more this season — the Braves (29-23) are ready to settle the score with the division leading Phillies who took two of three back in April.  The hotly contested series saw all three games decided by one run with Philadelphia taking two of three.

Now, the two meet in Atlanta and with the Braves just five games back, the outcome of this series could be crucial to the National Originals race.  And expect the games to be close.  The Braves are 11-11 in one-run affairs and have played the most one run games in the league along with the Athletics who are 14-8 in one run games. 

Part of the reason for such close games is the Braves excellent starting pitching (2nd best starter’s ERA in the SHL at 3.13) and awful relief pitching (27th reliever’s ERA in the SHL at 5.65).  Decide an early demote of Phil Niekro, the Braves have stuck with their current bullpen despite a number of options at Triple-A Richmond.  Closer Gene Garber has had an up-and-down campaign with a 4-6 record and 10 of 13 save opportunities converted along with a 4.22 ERA.  The only other non-liability in relief so far has been Rick Camp (0-0, 1 save, 2.19 ERA).

Cubs v. Yankees Ends in Tie:  In a rare four-game home-and-home series between the Cubs (27-25) and Yankees, the two sides split their four meetings.

The first two games took place in Chicago.  In the first game, Yankee call-up Herb Pennock squared off against Pete Alexander.  Alexander struggled early against the impressive Yanks lineup and after the fifth inning, the Yanks led 4-0.  The Cubs answered with three in the sixth and the two sides countered with two runs each in the eighth to push it to 6-5 heading into the ninth.  Then, the Cubs’ bullpen imploded as Lee Smith and Jack Pfeister were pounded by the Yankee lineup for nine ninth inning runs which included a bases loaded triple by Lou Gehrig who went 5-for-6 with a double, triple, two runs scored and six RBI in the game.  The Yankees took the first one 15-5.

In the second game, it was Catfish Hunter vs. Fergie Jenkins.  The Cubs overcame a two-run homer by Gehrig and evened the series with a 6-4 win capped by a two-run third inning double by Billy Williams, three Yankee errors which led to four unearned runs and a shaky ninth inning save by the league’s save leader Bruce Sutter.

The two clubs travelled to New York for the third and fourth games.  With no day off between travel, the last thing the two clubs wanted was an extra inning contest as Red Ruffing took on Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown.  Brown and Ruffing went deep as Brown pitched nine and Ruffing went 10 and both allowed just one run.  The Cubs run came on a King Kelly solo shot in the eighth to tie the game.  The bullpens decided the outcome and Hippo Vaughn outpitched Mariano Rivera as the Cubs got to Rivera in the 11th with RBI singles by Ernie Banks and Billy Williams to lead the Cubs to a 3-1 victory.

In the final game of the series, Whitey Ford faced Orval Overall.  The Cubs took an early 1-0 lead in the third when Overall reached on an error scoring Ryne Sandberg and a second in the fifth on an RBI single by Kelly.  The 2-0 lead didn’t hold as the Yanks answered with three in the bottom of the fifth on an RBI single by Babe Ruth and a two-run double by Gehrig.  Another unearned run in the top of the sixth for the Cubs evened the game at 3-3 but the Yankees exploded for four runs in the seventh and three runs in the eighth and went on to win the final game 10-4.  The Cubs could not contain Gehrig in the series as he went 10-for-20 with two doubles, a triple, a homer, four runs scored and 11 RBI.

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