July 2008

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss; Victorino, cf; Utley, 2b; Howard, 1b; Burrell, lf; Feliz, 3b; Jenkins, rf; Coste, c; Moyer, p.

Clutch pitching and clutch hitting did the job as the Phillies celebrated July 4 with a one-run, come-from-behind victory.

Johan Santana was his typical dominating pitcher but four singles plated two runs and Shane Victorino’s game-winning single sent the sellout crowd home in a festive mood.  No long ball, just clutch singles.

J. A. Happ kept the Phillies in the game and then Chad Durbin, Ryan Madson and Bridge Lidge pitched lights out.  Happ had command problems, something he had conquered in AAA.  A 46-pitch fifth inning did him in but he was encouraging.

The Phillies have out-scored their opponents by 85 runs, second best in the league.  The Cubs have a 97-run difference.

All-Star Time
Tomorrow afternoon (2 o’clock) on TBS the All-Star teams will be announced.  Ernie Johnson and Cal Ripken will host the MLB All-Star Game Selection Show presented by Chevrolet.

The starters are chosen by fan balloting.  The pitchers and reserves will be determined through a combination of “Player’s Ballot” choices and All-Star managers, Terry Francona and Clint Hurdle.  We have our fingers crossed that Pat Burrell will make it for the first time.  He certainly deserves the honor.

Another on-line balloting will take place to select the final player for each league’s 32-man roster.  The Monster 2008 All-Star Final Vote will start right after tomorrow’s announcements and end on Thursday.  Bobby Abreu was selected by Phillies fans in the final vote four years ago.

Minor League Notes
C Jason Jaramillo, INF Mike Cervenak and LHP Brian Mazone are the Lehigh Valley selections for the International League All-Star Game.

Reading selections for the AA All-Star Game are C Lou Marson, SS Jason Donald, OF Greg Golson, OF Jeremy Slayden and RHP Carlos Carrasco.

Both games will take place the day after the July 15 major league All-Star Game.

R. J. Swindle didn’t waste any time returning to Lehigh Valley after being optioned on Thursday night.  He flew to Pawtucket, got in the game, gave up his first home run of the season and was tagged with a loss.  The lefty reliever had gone 40 innings without a home run.  Going back to last year, add on three more innings.  His previous home run came on August 23, 2007, vs. Tampa, while pitching for Clearwater.



Happy July 4

Tonight’s Lineup
Werth, rf; Utley, 2b; Rollins, ss; Howard, 1b; Burrell, lf; Feliz, 3b; Victorino, cf; Coste, c; Happ, p.

Happy Holiday everyone.  Hard to believe July 4 is here already.  As one frog said to another, “Time’s fun when you are having flies.”

Time flies and now it is back home following a positive-ending road trip that had a rough beginning. 

Cole Hamels was dominant again last night and the long ball came into play once again.  Ryan Howard is putting up some amazing power and RBI numbers considering his batting average.  Going into this season, he had a .291 lifetime average in the big show.  He’s at .219 now.  It is scary to think what his numbers would be if he was near his career mark.  One thing about him, he keeps grinding.

The Mets had a big offensive series in splitting four games in St. Louis, setting the stage for a huge four-day, weekend series.  LHP J. A. Happ, fresh from being the Phillies minor league pitcher of last week and minor league pitcher of last month, gets his second major league start tonight.  His other was against the same team June 30, 2007, and he didn’t fare that well.

Shuffle Sheriff
Steve Noworyta is the Director of the Minor Leagues for the Phillies.  He oversees the development phase under Mike Arbuckle.  The Phils have six minor league clubs in action right now. 

Hardly a day goes by without a voice mail message from Steve on roster moves in the minors, shuffling players from one club to another. That is followed by an e-mail of the new rosters.

He had a dandy message yesterday:
“The following roster moves are taking place today, July 3….pitcher Kip Bouknight is being released at Reading.  Moving from Clearwater to Reading is pitcher Edgar Garcia.  Moving from Lakewood to Clearwater is pitcher Darren Byrd.  Moving from Williamsport to Lakewood is pitcher Vance Worley.  Moving from the Gulf Coast League to Williamsport is pitcher Tyler Cloyd.”  Roster #36 followed.

Major league roster moves come via voice mail messages from Ruben Amaro Jr. After last night’s game: “We have optioned R. J. Swindle back to Lehigh Valley and are recalling J. A. Happ who will pitch against the Mets on Friday night.” His move was a simple one, R. J. for J. A.

This Date
In Phillies history…….
1908 New York Giants RHP Hooks Wiltse pitches 1-0, 10-inning no-hitter against the Phillies at New York.  RHP George McQuillan, who lost the game on an error in the 10th, was hit by a pitch with two out in the ninth to spoil Wiltse’s bid for a perfect game.
1938 Phillies move permanently to Shibe Park and split a double-header with Boston, 10-5 loss and 10-2 win.
1979 LHP Steve Carlton’s second 1-hitter of season, 5th of career to tie modern NL record, 1-0, over Mets. Elliott Maddox’ oneout double in 7th is the lone hit.



Back-to-back sweeps in Atlanta?  Doesn’t happen very often but the opportunity is there.

Cole Hamels gets the nod tonight.  By pitching him tonight, he’ll get two more starts before the All-Star break.

Four players had more than one hit last night, Pat Burrell and Ryan Howard went deep, Adam Eaton worked 5 productive innings and Brad Lidge struck out the side in the ninth. 

Yet, the top hero has to be Chad Durbin.  He came in with the sacks full and no out in the sixth, got a double play ball and a strikeout to kill a potential big Braves inning.  In some box scores, he gets credit for a “hold”, an unofficial stat.  It was his fourth hold but that doesn’t totally reflect the job Chad’s done.

Some people think he should start in Brett Myers’ place.  Folks, Chad’s too valuable where he is.  Why weaken that area?

Myers Report
Every day we receive a complete report from the managers and pitching coach of every Phillies minor league team: box score, comments about the game and players, injuries, personnel arriving and personnel departing, etc.

Pitching coach Rod Nichols filed the following on Myers’ outing last night in Lehigh Valley:
“Hopefully, Brett started to gain some of his confidence back.  Began with four shutout innings before giving up three runs in the fifth.  Fastball had some life and he didn’t overthrow it as game progressed.  Pitched inside well at times.  Curve was his go-to pitch and used it often.  Cutter showed depth and seemed to depend on it too much.  Split wasn’t close which made him rely on his curve more which hitters recognized.  Seemed to carry himself better as game progressed.”

Mets Next
Back to Citizens Bank Park tomorrow night for the first of four games against the Mets, night, night, day, night.

Mets lead season series so far, 4-2, with 10 games left between the two clubs.

As you can imagine, all four games are sell outs which means 500 standing room tickets will go on sale prior to each game.  Matter of fact, sell outs are the norm for nine of the 10 games on the upcoming homestand.  Some tickets are still available for Tuesday night’s against the Cardinals.

Players of Week, Month
LHP J. A. Happ has claimed the pitcher of the week for last week and the pitcher of the month for June. 

Hitting honors go to 1B Clay Harris (week) and 1B Andy Tracy (month).

Just link to the stories:
Players of Week: http://mlb.com/phi/downloads/y2008/070208.pdf

Players of Month: 

This Date
In Phillies history…….
1983 Reliever Willie Hernandez ties NL record with six consecutive strikeouts in beating New York Mets, 6-4, at the Vet.


Back in the NL and a win!  It isn’t that easy but we certainly looked better last night.

Kyle Kendrick continues to step up.  He allows hits but then makes big pitches at the right time.  He certainly is a competitor. 

Hopefully, the 14 hits are the start of a stretch in which the offense is more consistent.  Getting the bats going right now is the perfect timing.

Hello R. J.
After last night’s win, the Phillies purchased the contract of left-handed reliever R. J. Swindle from Lehigh Valley.  It was an early birthday present for R. J. who turns 25 on Monday.

He doesn’t throw overly hard.  But, he is a strike-throwing machine.  Between Reading and Lehigh Valley this season, 6 walks, 48 strikeouts in 40 innings.  In his fifth pro season: 23 walks, 207 strikeouts in 181.1 innings.

Left-handed hitters in the International League are hitting .129 against him.

His last outing was Monday night at Rochester, 1 inning, 3 strikeouts on 18 pitches (13 strikes).  His fast ball is in the 81-82 mph range; slider, 73-74, but the pitch that does the most damage is a curve ball, 53-55.  Folks, that’s slow.  The radar gun almost falls asleep.  The bottom line: R. J. gets hitters out.

How did he get here?

Mal Fichman is a Boise (ID)-based special assignment scout who specializes in the coverage of independent leagues.  He’s been around the minor league world for years and has hundreds of contacts.  Andy McCauley, Swindle’s manager with the Schaumburg (IL) independent league team (2006) first notified his old friend, Fichman, of the lefty reliever.

A year ago, R.J. started the season at Newark (NJ) in the Atlantic League, another independent league.  Wayne Krenchiki (manager) and Steve Foucault (pitching coach) both contacted Fichman.  Tommy John, who managed Bridgeport in the same league, also reached out to Fichman, “R. J. doesn’t belong in this league.”

Fichman notified Steve Noworyta, Director of Minor Leagues, and the Phillies purchased Swindle’s contract from Newark for $3,000.  He was sent to Lakewood in the Class A South Atlantic League making $2,500 per month.  After 20 games there (2-1, 0.93) he moved up to Clearwater (0-1, 4.80).  Then, this year he started at Reading before moving to AAA in late May.

Since he was born in Vancouver, he has been selected to Team Canada for the Olympic trail games.

Odds of players from the independent leagues reaching the majors aren’t great.  But, it can be done.  Just ask Chris Coste.

This Date
In Phillies history
1993 A game that is one of the classics at Veterans Stadium.  A 4:35 p.m. doubleheader with San Diego is delayed by rain and the night went on and on.  The sun was coming up when I pulled into my driveway after:
       **5 hours, 54 minutes of rain delays in game # 1, won by Padres, 5-2
       **2nd game starts at 1:28 a.m. and ends at 4:40 a.m. on Mitch Williams’ game-winning single
       **DH, which was to start at 4:35 p.m., ends 12 hours, 5 minutes later. 



Kudos to Brett Myers for accepting an option to Lehigh Valley.  Because of his major league service time (5-plus seasons), he had the right to accept or reject the assignment.

Myers now will get a chance to work on getting himself straightened out.  It certainly is a lot easier to work on things in a minor league game.  The spotlight isn’t as bright.

Other options were to continue in the rotation up here or move to the bullpen where getting a lot of work wasn’t a given.

Many pitchers have gone back to the minors, including Jamie Moyer.

Four Phillies minor leaguers, all on the Reading roster, have been chosen for the XM Future’s Game on Sunday, July 13.

Getting chosen is one thing but getting to play in Yankee Stadium is another.  After this year there will be a new Yankee Stadium.  But, but there will always be only one place: the House that Babe Ruth built.

Shortstop Jason Donald, C Lou Marson and CF Greg Golson will play for the Team USA Olympic trial team that will compete against the World Team as part of Taco Bell All-Star Sunday.  Game time is 12:30 p.m.  ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will televise the game.

RHP Carlos Carrasco will pitch for the World Team.  Reading LHP Antonio Bastardo was also chosen for this team but he was scratched because he is on the DL.

The Phillies and the A’s are the organizations with the most players, four each.

Phillies who have participated in the Futures Game include Pat Burrell (1999), Brett Myers (2001-02), Ryan Howard (2003) and Chase Utley (2001).  J. C. Romero (1999) pitched for the World Team

This Date
In Phillies history….
1931 RF Chuck Klein hits for the cycle and drives in 5 runs as Phillies win, 11-6, over the Cubs at Baker Bowl.
1993 For first time in Phillies history, they lead division on May 1, June 1 and July 1, in the same season.
2001 Phillies defeat Marlins, 8-1, for first 5-game sweep since June 25-27, 1982 vs. Mets.
2007 Phillies surpass 116 million in attendance since first game in 1883.