May 2008

All Aboard

 

Today’s Lineup
Rollins, ss
Werth, cf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Jenkins, rf
Feliz, 3b
Ruiz, c
Kendriick, p

Series Finale
Strictly a pull hitter who is 0-for-10 lifetime against Adam Eaton and what happens?  Rod Barajas hits an opposite field grand slam starting the Blue Jays on their way to a win last night.

A. J. Burnett was sharp as he beat the Phillies for the first time since April 29, 2005. 

Which team wins the series comes down to this afternoon’s series finale, a day in which the ageless Phillie Phanatic celebrates another birthday.

Train Travel
After the game, the Phillies head for a seven-game road trip that starts in Washington, DC, and ends up in Texas, Houston to be specific.  We get our first look at Nationals Park the next three nights and then wrap-up the trip against the hot Astros in Minute Maid Park.

Getting to D. C. this evening will be via a train.  Normally, the Phillies fly charter aircrafts but this time it will be an AMTRAK four-car charter train.  Charlie Manuel, his coaches and the GM sit in first class on airplanes.  This time, the first car behind the engine will be reserved for the same traveling party.

Departure is scheduled for 5:30 from 30th Street Station with arrival at Washington-Union Station around 7:15 p.m.  Cost for the charter train: $17,716.

Posted throughout the clubhouse area is the train dress code: slacks and collard shirts; no jeans.

Personal luggage for the traveling party will leave during the game and await everyone at the hotel.  Equipment luggage will be on a second truck, leaving after the game and going directly to Nationals Park.

This Date
In Phillies history:
1981 Phillies, despite getting only 3 hits, hand Fernando Valenzuela his first loss in the majors, 4-0, in Los Angeles after 100 start (80 this season).
2000 1b Mark McGwire hits 3 HR in 7-2 win at Veterans Stadium..
2004 RF Bobby Abreu, LF Pat Burrell, 1B Jim Thome hit consecutive home runs in the 8th inning for the second time at Citizens Bank Park this month.  Phillies beat Dodgers, 8-7.

 

Werth Back In Lineup

 

Tonight’s Lineup
3 homers, 8 RBI, 2 curtain calls.  Jayson Werth said he will never forget it last night.  So will the 36,000-plus fans.

That performance earned him a spot in tonight’s lineup as the Phillies face a right-handed starter for the first time in week:

Rollins, ss
Werth, cf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Jenkins, rf
Dobbs, 3b
Coste, c
Eaton, p

“Werthy” Offense
Quite a show Jayson put on last night, a three-run homer, grand slam and solo blast.  All he needed was a two-run homer for the “home run cycle”, something that has never been done in baseball history.

His night was historical when it comes to the Phillies record book. 

He’s the fifth Phillies player to drive in 8 runs in a game: Kitty Bransfield (1910), Gavvy Cravath (1915), Willie Jones (1958) and Mike Schmidt (1976).  And, he became the 18th player in our history to hit three dingers in a game.

My roaming territory is usually the Press Box area on the Hall of Fame Club level.  Was there for the first home run and seeing a ball heading toward the outfield is the norm. I decided to visit Greg Luzinski in his Bull’s BBQ.  On the way out of the park, I stopped in right-center and stood behind the last row.

Jayson’s second at-bat…bases loaded, swing and a long drive…..  This time, the ball was heading toward me.  It clanked off the Chrysler/Jeep sign in the section to my right and fell into scrambling hands.  When Jayson came to bat, one fan stood up and cheered, raising both arms in the air.  A few pitches later, everybody in the park was on their feet.  Cheering in the press box is strictly prohibited so it was kind of cool to be able to join the cheering throng.

Third homer…heard on my car radio.  Fourth at-bat came…saw on my TV set in the kitchen. 

Trio at the Park
Since Citizens Bank Park opened, there have been seven players who hit three home runs in a game:
4/21/04  Mike Lowell, Marlins
7/30/04  Aramis Ramirez, Cubs
8/13/04  J. T. Snow, Giants
8/15/06  Jose Reyes, Mets
9/3/06, 1st ga. RYAN HOWARD, vs. Braves
4/13/07  Carlos Lee, Astros
5/16/08  JAYSON WERTH, vs. Blue Jays

This Date
In Phillies history……
1979 A 10inning classic in Wrigley Field: Phillies 23, Cubs 22.  11 homers hit, three by Dave Kingman, two by Mike Schmidt, including gamewinner with two out in top of 10th off Bruce Sutter.
1991 Phillies blank Cubs, 10, in 16 innings, the longest 10 victory in Phillies history and the longest shutout game in Veterans Staduim history.
1993 John Kruk ties club record with five hits (6 AB) in 103 win at Florida, first game for Phillies against expansion Marlins.
2002 SS Jimmy Rollins hit a lead off homer to start the game for the second straight game in Arizona; Randy Johnson on the 16th and Miguel Batista today.

 

Cole Clinic

 

Tonight’s lineup
The Blue Jays have called up Dave Purcey, extending the string of left-handed starters against the Phillies to the last five games. 
Rollins, ss
Victorino, rf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Werth, cf
Feliz, 3b
Coste, c
Moyer, p

Play ball
Gates will open as scheduled for tonight’s 7:05 game. Ashburn Alley will open at 4:35 p.m. via the Left Field Gate.  All other gates will open at 5:35 p.m.

Forecasts from the weather services are calling for the rain to taper off this evening.  Batting practice most likely will not take place on the field.

Tickets are available for tonight as well as the 7:05 game tomorrow night and 1:35 p.m. on Sunday. 

Cole Clinic
Hamels turned in a clinic on pitching last night: 120 pitches, 85 for strikes.  Of the 32 hitters he faced, 22 got a first-pitch strike.  When a pitcher does that the results are usually very productive.

The complete game shutout was the first for a Phillies lefty since April 24, 2004 at Montreal when Randy Wolf blanked the Expos, 7-zip.

Long balls took care of the offense.

Interlegdue play
Tonight is the first game of interleague play, the 12th season.  The Phillies very first game was June 13, 1997, a 4-3 win over the Blue Jays at Veterans Stadium.  Wayne Gomes was the winner in his major league debut.  Ricky Bottalico recorded a save. LF Gregg Jefferies had a pair of singles and drove in three runs.

Phillies are 86-98 in interleague play with the most home runs among National League clubs, 212. 

A year ago, they were 8-7.  Adam Eaton had the lowest ERA (1.40) among all NL pitchers.  Ryan Howard had 6 homers against the A.L.

This date in Phillies history:
1984 Steve Carlton hits a grand slam in beating Dodgers, 72, for Phillies first sweep in Los Angeles since 1963.

This date in baseball history:
1939   The first American League night game is played at Shibe Park, with Cleveland beating the host Philadelphia Athletics, 8-3, in ten innings.

 

Almost

 

Tonight’s lineup
Chris Coste’s 4-hit game last night has earned him a return to the starting lineup:

Rollins, ss
Victorino, rf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Werth, cf
Feliz, 3b
Coste, c
Hamels, p

Almost
For a moment it looked as if Shane Victorino’s fly ball was going to reach the right-center field gap and tie the game but Jeff Francoeur tracked it down and a comeback victory fell two runs short last night.

Atlanta jumped all over Brett Myers for eight runs in five innings.  Myers struggles as a starter continues.  He’s as puzzled about it as anyone and is determined to iron things out.  One thing about Brett, he’s a stand-up guy after games.  Win or lose, he faces the media music. 

Pitching coach Rich Dubee spent time in the video room this morning going over the last night’s tape.  Myers will do likewise.  Searching and searching for a solution.

Hitters have slumps as so do pitchers.  Just check out Justin Verlander in Detroit.  He dropped to 1-7 with a 6.05 ERA after last night’s loss. In the previous two seasons, he was 35-15.

Offense has shown some consistency lately.  Ryan Howard has hit in six in a row, not major but a step in the right direction.  So was his opposite field home run.  When he is driving the ball to left field, that is a good sign.

It is no secret the Phillies and most other clubs are constantly searching for pitching.  Ruben Amaro and Dallas Green spent last night in Allentown checking out the IronPigs. 

’93 Reunion
Jim Fregosi (Braves scout), John Kruk (ESPN TV), Mitch Williams (WPHT pre-game talk show), Milt Thompson (Phillies coach) and Larry Andersen (Phillies broadcaster) were in the park last night, sort of a mini-1993 reunion. 

This Date
On this date in Phillies history:
1984 Mike Schmidt homers to right field in 5th off Bob Welch in Los Angeles for his 400th homer.

 

Textbook Win

 

Tonight’s Lineup.  No change from Tuesday, except behind the plate and on the mound:
Rollins, ss
Victorino, rf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Werth, cf
Feliz, 3b
Coste, c
Myers, p

Textbook win.
Kyle Kendrick gave up 3 first-inning runs and then shut the door until Charlie Manuel’s bullpen committee took over.  Romero to Gordon before the bridge to Lidge.

Offense produced the runs on nine singles and four doubles.  No homers.  All eight starters had at lest one hit.  Got to win games without the long ball and everyone contributing.

Brad gave up his first run of the season, which was OK because of the two-run lead.  Mariano Ramirez gave up his first run of ’08 and it was a game-loser in Tampa last night.

Jayson Werth had a big night at bat, getting key hits.  Yes, he misjudged a ninth-inning fly ball but in the end it didn’t cost us the game.

Dollar Dog Night produced the ninth sell out in 19 home games this season.   We should thank the 62,361 hot dogs who contributed to the big attendance number. 

A reader yesterday predicted “two out of three from Atlanta and Ryan Howard will break out.”  You are off to a good start.

Player Journal
LHP Joe Savery, last year’s number one selection for the Phillies, does an occasional journal for MilB.com, the minor league website.  Check out his latest effort that was posted on Tuesday:
http://web.minorleaguebaseball.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20080513&content_id=398201&vkey=news_milb&fext=.jsp

Minors News
Two Reading Phillies, left fielder Javon Moran and RH closer Pat Overholt are the Phillies minor league player and pitcher of the week for last week:
http://mlb.com/phi/downloads/y2008/051308.pdf

National TV
Phillies fans living outside the Philadelphia market can watch tonight’s game on ESPN TV.

Diet of Lefties

 

As players walk into the clubhouse, there’s an eraser board mounted on the left wall.  Once Jimy Williams gets the lineup from Charlie Manuel, the batting order is printed in blue on this board. Tonight’s lineup:

Rollins, ss
Victorino, rf
Utley, 2b
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Werth, cf
Feliz, 3b
Ruiz, c
Kendrick, p

With the Phillies getting a diet of lefty starters the next three nights, this is the lineup that will be posted daily.  Chris Coste will catch one of these games, which will probably be the lone change. 

At 2 o’clock in the afternoon, what is going on in the clubhouse?

Clay Condrey, So Taguchi and Eric Bruntlett are getting dressed in their uniforms.  Shane Victorino is in the whirlpool.  Geoff Jenkins and Chase Utley are getting a bite to eat.  More players will be filing through the clubhouse door minute-by-minute.

Out on the field, the ground crew is prepping everything for batting practice.  Sometimes there is extra hitting at this time of the day, many times the visiting team.  But, the Braves played two in Pittsburgh yesterday.

Out in the bullpen area, Tina Urban, Director, Creative Services, and Miles Kennedy, Phillies photographer, are getting set for a photo shoot with Brad Lidge for the next edition of Phillies Magazine.

Someone where, thousands of hot dogs are awaiting to be cooked as it is Dollar Dog Night.

Parade of Lefties

 

The boys of Manuel are back home and good there is no game scheduled today because the weather is cold and rainy. 

Trip (3-4) ended yesterday with back-to-back losses, the first since April 18-19.  Dropped the first series in the last six. 

Time to regroup as the Braves come to town tomorrow night, the first of three night games.  First, Atlanta has two games in Pittsburgh tonight.

Going into that twinbill, Atlanta is 4-13 on the road, last in the majors.  At home they are 14-4, best in the majors. 

Atlanta is scheduled to parade out three lefties, Jo-Jo Reyes, Tom Glavine and Chuck James.  Prior to the same rotation on May 8-9-10, the last time they did that (started three consecutive lefties) was June 4-5-6, 1997, Glavine, Denny Neagle and Terrell Wade.  Eleven years later, Glavine is still going and going and going. 

The Phillies are 8-6 against lefties but hitting only .235.  Ken Mandel has documented their offense struggles versus LHP in a separate story on this site.

Wednesday night’s game will be on national TV, ESPN. 

Crowds are expected to be in the mid-to upper 30s.

Minor League Notes
Phillies pitching prospects are among the top strikeout pitchers in all of the minor leagues.

Going into tonight’s minor league games:
1. RHP Drew Naylor, Lakewood   62
2. LHP Antonio Bastardo, Clearwater-Reading 58
4. LHP J. A. Happ, Lehigh Valley   56

June Draft
The annual first-year player draft is 23 days away.  The Phillies have three picks in the top 50 and six in the first 107.

 

SF Weekend

 

Weekend in San Francisco.  Need two of three to make it a winning road trip.

Brandon Webb is the best pitcher in baseball right now and he showed it yesterday.  Dominating pitchers usually count on heat but Webb is different.  His sinker recorded 17 ground ball outs.

Of course the big news this weekend is the potential return of Jimmy Rollins from the disabled list.  He last played on April 9.  Decision probably won’t be made until close to game time. 

Ground Work
While the team is on the road, Mike Boekholder and his merry ground crew of eight worked daily on the Citizens Bank Park field.

Aerating the entire playing field was Monday’s project.  Then, top dressing the grass with some sand to help drainage, re-seeding and fertilizing.  Rain today allowed the crew to gear down.

Tomorrow, there’s a wedding on the field which could create an issue with the amount of rain today.  Sunday is Mother’s Day but Mike and his crew will be in early for mowing.

For Tuesday’s 7:05 night game, Mike and his staff will arrive around 10:00 a.m. and won’t leave until sometime after 11:30 p.m.  His staff increases to 22 on game days, with the extras arriving at 5:30 p.m.

Blank TV
Tomorrow afternoon’s 4:05 (EDT) game will not be on television in Philly or SF because FOX has exclusive rights for that time slot.

MLB.TV will have the game.

Radio broadcasts are not affected.

 

 

True Comeback Win

 

Shane Victorino is nicknamed the “Flyin’ Hawaiian”.  Perhaps we can add “Body Bruiser”.  Just glad he was able to get up from that collision last night.  Hope Conor Jackson is OK, too.

Shane doesn’t back away from contact because that’s the way he plays the game.  Still, it makes you hold your breath when he barrels someone over.  At 5-foot-9, 180-pounds, he isn’t built to be a body bruiser.

Bullpen did a job again in the come-from-behind win.  Sometimes charting that stat (comeback wins) can be misleading.  You call fall behind 3-0 after three and win 11-3 for a comeback win.  But, last night truly was a legit come-from-behind win.

Numbers
**Since April 11, the Phillies are 16-9, best record in the NL.
**3.84 ERA is 5th best in the league.
**2.69 bullpen ERA is lowest among the NL teams.
**Utley and Burrell have combined for as many or more HR (22) than 5 of the other 30 major league clubs.
**Phillies pinch hitters lead the league in homers (3), slugging percentage (.467) and are tied for the most RBI (11).

Minor Leagues
RHP Drew Naylor and C Lou Marson are the Phillies minor league pitcher and player of the week for April 27-May 4.  For information on that a weekly review of the minor league system check out http://philadelphia.phillies.mlb.com/phi/downloads/y2008/050608.pdf.

 

 

Moyer Nixes Max

 

Last night’s story line was billed as a 23-year-old flame thrower making his first major league start against a 45-year-old making his 558th start.

It ended up being no contest as the Phillies bats came alive in the series opener as Jamie Moyer picked up the win over Max Scherzer.

Arizona manager Bob Melvin said it best in Ken Mandel’s story: “He (Moyer) rope-a-dopes you to death. I know first hand.  He throws a 74-mhp change and backs it up with a 71-mph change and cuts it to both sides of the plate.  He reads hitter’s swings and he’ll go slower than slow.  He’s been doing it for a while.”

Scherzer can register 98 mph on the radar.  The gun practically falls asleep when Moyer pitches.  The only time the lefty uses a gun is spring training.  He wants to make sure his change lacks enough speed.

Moyer chipped in two of the Phillies 17 hits.  When he cam to bat the third time, Phillies radio voice Scott Franzke reported: “Jamie has a single and a double.  He’s half-way to hitting for the cycle.” 

Good to see the Phillies mix in some base hits and winning a game without a home run.  Going into the game, the Phillies had scored 70 of their 150 runs via the long ball.  During the Giants series, it was either home runs or SF errors that led to Phillies runs.

Moyer won the only game for the Phillies against the Diamondbacks a year ago.  Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat.

Jinx?
Appreciate the enthusiastic responses to yesterday’s Insider urging fans to vote for Pat Burrell during the All-Star balloting process.

Pat went 0-for-5 and snapped his streak of reaching base safely in 30 consecutive games. Did we jinx him?

On the one response that ballots weren’t distributed in Section 133 on Sunday, will check on that.  But, keep in mind there are displays throughout Citizens Bank Park that contain ballots.

So we can’t vote more than 25 times online.  Still the most convenient way to vote.

 

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