May 2007

Game 9 of Trip

May 8, 2007

Starting Lineups
(Sorry I didn’t get to post the lineups last evening as I had indicated.  My home computer became stubborn and I couldn’t get online)

League Leaders
Phillies hitters have the most walks (147) and the highest on-base percentage (.362) . . . Starting pitchers lead in the most strikeouts (162) . . . Outfielders with most assists (15).

May Numbers
Since 2004, the Padres have the most wins this month (59-31) while the Phillies (52-39) and Cardinals (52-38) are second. 

Road trip continues tonight with game 9 (3-5 record) in Phoenix.  Trip ends at 6:40 p.m. (EDT) tomorrow.

Howard Hurting
Couldn’t help but noticed during Ryan’s pinch hit at-bat last night, he was favoring his left (back) leg.  As the media has reported Ryan won’t start tonight or tomorrow afternoon and then there’s a day off on Thursday.  He’ll see Dr. Michael Ciccotti sometime on Friday, which means a large media crunch will be at Citizens Bank Park that day for the medical news.

Live Auction
The Monday, May 21 Phillies Phestival for the benefit of ALS, includes a live auction.  Among the choice items up for bid are the chance to throw out the first pitch on July 15, a trip for two to see the Phillies play in Chicago at the end of June, Ryan Howard autographed jersey from his rookie season and a Triple Play Package, the lineup card and actual baseball used in the Phillies’ triple play at Cincinnati this April 21.  Tickets are on sale through this website.

Minor League Review
A weekly review (April 30-May 6) of the Phillies minor league system was posted earlier today:

Sizzling Shane

May 7, 2007, 7:15 p.m. EDT

Starting Lineup

Rollins, ss; Victorino, rf; Utley, 2b; Burrell, lf; Rowand, cf; Helms, 1b; Nunez, 3b; Ruiz, c; Garcia, p.

Stay HotVictorino653sm
Shane Victorino had a blistering four-game series in SF, .588 (10-17) with one double, one home run, 4 RBI, seven runs, six steals, one home plate collision and one base path collision.  “You’ve got to stay hot when you’re hot,” he told the Inquirer’s Todd Zolecki this morning. 

The sizzling weekend boosted his average from .255 to .304. 

On the base path collision, Shane originally was charged with a caught stealing.  The official scorer today took that CS away from him.

Elias Sports Bureau today notified both teams: After a discussion with official scorer David Bush and in accordance with the scoring rules, the following correction has been made in Sunday’s (5/6) Phillies-Giants:

Phillies 5th — Victorino is no longer charged with being caught stealing after being picked off, caught in a rundown between first and second base, and awarded second base due to the obstruction error charged to SS Omar Vizquel.  This is covered on page 102 of the 2007 Official Baseball Rules.

This means Shane has stolen 11 consecutive bases since being caught April 12 at Shea Stadium.  Thanks to his pace, the Phillies now trail the Mets in steals by only one, 31-30.

Howard Question
Last week a reader posted a comment about Howard’s slow first month.  “This year he resembles a lineman more than a tight end.  Is there a difference in weight from last year?”

Weight isn’t the issue.  Wait might be closer to the issue, as he’s been a bit anxious at the plate.  He’s also still bothered with a left thigh strain from early spring training and the April 18 sprained left knee.  Howard commented in Marcus Hayes’ Daily News story today: “The knee improves daily.  The thigh nags.”

My Goof
Pastor Scott, a reader, was kind enough to let me know: “Now a 121-year-old son IS news!”   Yes, that would be news.  I was referring to Ricky Jordan’s son who was at the game yesterday and I had him as a 121-year-old.  I was only off by 109 years.  Just goes to prove I’m a lousy proof reader. 

Another Debut
For those fans living in the Philly area, the Phillies Ballgirls Softball team will make its debut at 6:30 tonight, playing radio station B101 at Hagys Mill Road Sports Complex in Roxborough. 

Sunday Night Live

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Tonight’s Lineup

Rollins, ss; Victorino, rf; Utley, 2b; Howard, 1b; Burrell, lf; Rowand, cf; Helms, 3b; Barajas, c; Hamels, p.

ESPN Tonight
Cole Hamels, who has never faced the Giants in his brief major league career, will start for the Phillies against RHP Tim Lincecum, SF’s No. 1 draft pick a year ago, who is making his major league debut.

Jimmy Rollins will wear a microphone for the national telecast.

Because of contractual agreements with Major League Baseball, ESPN can change the time of four other Phillies Sunday afternoon games to a night game: June 3 (Giants), July 1 (Mets), August 12 (Braves) and August 26 (Padres).  All are Citizens Bank Park games.

Pre-Game Visitor

Ricky Jordan, former Phillies first baseman who lives in Northern California, was on the field with his 12-year-old son, courtesy of Milt Thompson.

Table Setters
Shane Victorino is 8-for-12 with five runs scored and six stolen bases in this series . . . Jimmy Rollins is 5-for-15 with three runs and two steals.

Outfield Arms
Phillies outfielders have 15 assists, tops in the NL: Victorino, Pat Burrell and Jayson Werth, four each and Aaron Rowand, three.

Different Pen
With Tom Gordon and Ryan Madson on the disabled list, the only relievers who were in the Phillies pen a year ago at this time are Geoff Geary and Clay Condrey.

Ks from Z
Michael Zagurski, a 24-year-old lefty reliever with the Clearwater Threshers, is chalking up strikeouts at a frightening pace.  Through last night, he has struck out 26 in 13.1 innings over nine appearances.  He’s allowed with base runners (five hits, three walks) and two runs.  The third-year pro was a 12th round selection out of the University of Kansas in 2005. 

Here Comes Barry

Quirky Schedule
Every year, there seems to be an oddity in the schedule.  Last year, the Phillies played the Western Division Rockies four times at Citizens Bank Park and the Dodgers four times in LA.  Generally, the Phillies play 6 total games against teams outside the NL East.

This year, it is four with the Giants in San Francisco starting tonight and then four with them in Philly at the beginning of next month.  AT&T Park hasn’t been very Phillie friendly as the Giants hold the upper hand, 15-9.

More Quirkiness
The Phillies and Braves played a 7:35 game last night in Atlanta.  The Braves have today off before hosting the Dodgers tomorrow while the Phillies had to fly all night to SF for a night game today.  Players didn’t get to the hotel until around 3 a.m. Pacific Coast Time today.

A Lot of Barry
The Phillies will be facing 42-year-old Barry Bonds eight times as he continues his march toward breaking Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record (755).  Going into tonight, he is sitting on 743 homers.

His brilliant career takes up 19 pages in the Giants Media Guide.  Among the many facts and numbers:
**He has 63 career homers against the Phillies, trailing only the Dodgers (64) and Padres (86).
**He has two homers in 13 at-bats at Citizens Bank Park, including a towering bomb on an ESPN Sunday night game last summer.
**He led all visiting players with 27 home runs at Veterans Stadium history.
**Two of his milestone homers have come off Phillies pitchers, #200, 7/8/93 at the Vet (Jose DeLeon) and #250, 7/18/94, also at the Vet (Shawn Boskie).

Hancock Memorial Service
Ruben Amaro Jr., Assistant GM, is representing the organization at the memorial service for Josh Hancock being held today in Tupelo, MS.

Gordon Update
Tom returned to Philly to be examined by Dr. Michael Ciccotti, the team doctor.   A report will come later today out of San Francisco.

Hamels Shows Maturity

2 of 3
Game 27 of a 162-game marathon season certainly doesn’t qualify as a must-win game.  Except, a win tonight would give the Phillies two out of three, a pattern that leads to October baseball.  The Phillies have won their last three series (not including the 1-gamer vs. Houston).

First 13 games               Last 13 games
3-10          Record                 9-4
.253          Batting average  .292
5.20          ERA                    3.63
5.93          Starters ERA       3.75
4.00          Relievers ERA     3.34
9               Errors                  6

Still GrowingHamels303sm
How many times have you seen a veteran pitcher get tagged early and then close the barn door? We saw it many times when Steve Carlton was on the hill for the Phillies.  What Cole Hamels did last night, was huge, especially for a 23-year-old in his second big league season.

Atlanta scored three runs in the first inning quicker than an NFL draft selection.  Cole then blanked the Braves until he left the game in the eighth inning.  It is all part of the process of maturing as a major league pitcher.  Generally, that process takes a long time evolving. 

Cole had a great quote about his early game troubles: “It’s tough to play against 10 people — nine of them and one of yourself.”

The maturation process was also evident in another one of his quotes: "If you want to be a great pitcher, you have to know how to get out of that situation. It’s something I aspire to and want to become, so I know I need to bear down and relax."

One of the things Charlie Manuel preaches is “know yourself.”  Cole does.

A reader asked “What’s up with Ryan Howard?”  From what I can gather, he’s a bit anxious at the plate, which can be typical of a young hitter.  They are pitching him in more this year and he’s chased pitches on occasion.  On Monday night, he drove a ball to left field, something he did frequently last year.  To hit the ball the opposite way, a batter needs to wait on the ball.

As Manuel has said, “Ryan will hit. Book it.”

National TV
For those Phillies fans not in the immediate Philadelphia area, tonight’s game will be on ESPN.

Rowand Day-to-Day

Name Change
The “Baron’s Corner” has been replaced by “Phillies Insider”, a new tag that is more indicative of this blog’s goal… you an inside view of the Phillies.

Aaron Rowand left last night’s game with back spasms.  He’ll be reevaluated later today and is on a day-to-day basis.  Rowand, who had 16-game hitting streak snapped on Sunday, singled in his only official at-bat off Tim Hudson, who later hit the Phillies centerfielder with a pitch.  If Rowand is unable to go tonight, Jayson Werth will probably get the nod since the Braves are starting a lefty.  Atlanta has another southpaw starter tomorrow night.  Shane Victorino can swing from right to center if need be. 

Phillies finished the month 11-14 following a 1-6 start . . . Most wins in first month for Phillies: 17 (1993) . . . Most April losses came in 2000 (20) . . . Percentage-wise, the best April for the Phillies is .818 (9-2, 1964), while the poorest one is .091 (1-10, 1938).

League Leader
Jimmy Rollins finished the first month as the NL home run leader with 9 . . . According to Elias Sports Bureau that’s the most home runs from the leadoff spot in April since Baltimore’s Brady Anderson hit 11 in 1996.

Another Elias Note
As all Phillies fans painfully know, Andruw Jones hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat the Phillies, 5-2, last night. It was Atlanta’s first walk-off win against Philadelphia since May 5, 2000, when Andruw hit a two-run homer off Wayne Gomes for a 6-5 victory. Between that game and Monday night, the Braves won 38 regular-season games in walk-off fashion, but none against the Phils.

Minor League news
Ruben Amaro Jr., at this morning’s bi-weekly staff meeting, offered the following minor league update: RHP J. D. Durbin, recently claimed on waivers, will have one more extended spring training start and then join Ottawa’s rotation . . . INF Michael Garciaparra, another waiver claim, tweaked a hamstring in extended spring training but will soon join Reading . . . Ottawa LHP Eude Brito is sidelined with a hamstring injury . . . RHP Scott Mathieson continues to progress from last September’s Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.  When he’s ready to resume pitching, which will be later in the season, Scott will be groomed for the bullpen.

In The Community
Geoff Geary, who lost a close friend to ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), will meet with ALS patients throughout the season.  The annual autograph party and auction that benefits ALS is set for Monday evening, May 21. 

Blown Saves
Phillies fans are upset that Tom Gordon has 3 blown saves.  He’s not alone in that category for the first month: Chad Cordero and Solomon Torres, 3; Trevor Hoffman, Todd Jones, Chris Ray, Mariano Rivera, B. J. Ryan and Bob Wickman, 2 each.

Minor League Review
A weekly review of the Phillies minor league system can be found on this site every Tuesday throughout the 2007 season: