August 2010

Sputtering Offense

The offense continues on a roller coaster.  Only trouble, the ride doesn’t seem to be going up. 

Kuroda was brilliant last night with a near no-hitter.  He certainly has our number: two earned runs in 26.2 career innings (regular season).  He even had his first base hit of the season (46th at-bat) in the seventh, which was more than the Phillies had at that point in the game.

Then, there’s another Phillie killer, his batterymate, Barajas. He has nine hits against the Phillies this season, four being home runs.

Doc pitched well.  He’s lost 10 games during which the Phillies have scored 20 runs.

The 3-0 loss marked the 11th time in the last 12 games that the Phillies have scored three or less runs.  Not too long ago, we scored four or more in 18 of 24 games.

It is understandable that Chase and Ryan would struggle as they try to get their rhythm, timing and balance as hitters.  They missed a considerable amount of playing time on the DL. But, it is a real puzzle why the offense overall continues to sputter.

A year ago, we scored 820 runs; Two years ago, 799.  This year, 597, which puts us in sixth place in the NL.

For three straight years starting in 2007, we were the only NL team with 200 or more homers and 100 or more steals.  This year: 126 and 74.    If we hit 200 home runs this season, we’ll be in great shape.

Minor League Notes
The Phillies entry advanced to the Gulf League Championship Series which begins this afternoon at Bright House Field in Clearwater.  They play the Rays in the best-of-three series.

Regular seasons end on Labor Day for Lehigh Valley and Lakewood; the day before for Clearwater and Williamsport and September 7 for Reading.  Lakewood won the first half to qualify for the postseason.  Williamsport is on the bubble.

Special Birthday Wishes
Former Phillies Von Hayes (52) and Bill Nahorodny (57) are celebrating birthdays today. 
But, the day belongs to OF Danny Litwhiler, who turns 94.  He played for the Phillies from 1940-43 and is the first outfielder in franchise history to finish a season without an error.  He handled 317 chances in 151 games in 1942.

Other Phillies outfielders without an error for a full season: Tony Gonzalez (1962), Don Demeter (1962), Johnny Callison (1968), Jim Eisenreich (1995), Doug Glanville (2002) and Shane Victorino (2006).  None come close to the number of total chances Litwhiler fielded.

We’ve sent a birthday present to Danny in Clearwater…a Phillies jersey with his name and number (4, the number he wore in 1943.

 

#900

Can anyone figure out the emotional ride of a baseball season?

Gloom took over last Thursday after the struggling Astros swept four from the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.  Three days later glee replaced gloom following a three-game sweep in San Diego of the Padres, who had the best record in the NL, the lowest team ERA and the fewest errors. The Phillies have now swept a series at Petco Park in 2004, 2005, 2009 and 2010.

Brilliant starting pitching by Roy-O, Joe and Cole told the weekend story.  Combined, they allowed two runs on 15 hits in 22 innings while walking one and striking out 15. For Cole, it was his first win since July 11. Figure that one out.

The Padres committed four errors yesterday, one more than the total number of runs they scored over three games.  Their three runs came on a solo homer, balk and RBI single by Saturday’s starting pitcher.

With a lefty on the mound yesterday and Howard struggling, Sweeney played first and hit his first NL home run.  Watching on TV, he seemed as excited as a kid opening a birthday present. 

Southern California trip continues tonight in Los Angeles against the Dodgers–night, night, day. Phillies rode busses from San Diego north to LA after yesterday’s game.

Minor League notes
**Roly deArmas guided the Gulf Coast League Phillies to a first-place finish in the North Division (season ended Saturday).  Phillies host the Mets today at 12 noon.  Winner meets winner of Rays/Marlins game in a best-of-three championship series.

**Congratulations to Bill Dancy, former minor league manager for the Phillies, field coordinator and big league coach, who won his 1,600th game as a minor league manager on Saturday night.  He’s managing the Tennessee Smokies (Cubs) in the Class AA Southern League.

**First baseman Jonathan Singleton of the Lakewood BlueClaws has been named the most exciting player in the South Atlantic League by Baseball America.

Milestone Blog
Well, folks, today’s blog is the 900th from my keyboard.  First one was March 20, 2006.  It was initially called “The Baron’s Corner.”  MLB.com’s Mark Newman, the blog professor, suggested the name be changed to Phillies Insider. I didn’t argue because Mark knew better. 

Looked up the word blog in my trusty, dusty Webster’s dictionary that I wore out (I’m exaggerating) in college.  The words blog, internet and computer didn’t even exist in the 1957 edition.  So, checked out Webster’s website for a description of a blog:

“Full name: weblog  a journal written on-line and accessible to users of the internet.”

Paul Bodi was the MLB.com eastern regional editor when I begin writing the blog.  “What should I write,” I begged.  “Whatever you want.”  Hey, I figured I could handle that. 

Some of the stuff has been brilliant; some has been bad. I’ve tried to give you a different look at the Phillies, something you wouldn’t read elsewhere.  That is the goal.

Thanks for reading.  Hopefully, you didn’t fall asleep too often.

On The Road

Looking back at the last eight games, the numbers aren’t pretty:
 –two wins.
 –.206 batting average
 –out-scored 28-17

Looking ahead, the team took a Delta charter flight to southern California after Thursday’s game.  So, seven road games: three each in San Diego and Los Angeles and a May 12 rescheduled rain out in Denver.  Phillies have won six of their last seven road games.

San Diego has the best record in the NL, the lowest ERA and fewest errors, which wouldn’t bode well for an offense that is struggling.  But, the game isn’t played on paper.  On Petco Park’s field, the Phillies are 15-4.

Saturday’s game is a FOX national telecast.

Perfect Game Salute
Doc and his family were honored pre-game on Thursday for his perfect game back in May.  Doc’s gifts included a diamond-studded ring and a diamond-studded pendant for his wife.

U. S. Senator Jim Bunning took part in the ceremony, the other Phillies pitcher to author a perfect game (1964). The Phillies are the only NL team to have two pitchers who were perfect.

How the times have changed.  Bunning said he received a $2,000 check from the Phillies for his historic game.  “I got it on my birthday which is in October,” he laughed.  He appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show that same night and received $1,500.00.   “Through endorsements, I was able to make $15,000 during the offseason which helped get through the offseason.  My salary in 1964 was $38,000.

Then there’s Ed Delahanty, the Phillies Hall of Famer.  He is the first Phillies player to hit four home runs in a game, July 13, 1896. He was rewarded with four cases of chewing gum.

Minor Leagues
The Gulf Coast League Phillies under manager Roly deArmas have clinched a playoff spot.  The first round is one game and that will take place on Monday afternoon. Winners then meet in the best-of-three championship round.

The Lakewood BlueClaws won their first half and are leading in the second half.  Obviously, they will be in the playoffs.

The Williamsport Crosscutters are in the running for the New York-Penn league postseason.  They are in third place in the Pinckney Division, but only 2.5 games out.

2 Runs, 2 Ejections

For the ninth time this season, Charlie had the “regular” starting eight in the lineup.  For the umpteenth time this season, the offense couldn’t produce enough runs for a win. 

Two runs in 16 innings produced a second straight defeat.  Two more ejections of Phillies by this umpiring crew.  Heck, the umpires had as many ejections last night as the Phillies had runs.

When you have long extra inning games, many times strange things happen.  The Astros scored two runs in the top of the 16th without hitting a ball out of the infield. 

Cole continues to pitch great and lose.  In 12 of his 26 starts, the offense has scored two runs or less 12 times.  When the Phillies scored in the sixth inning, it was the first run in 25 innings while Cole was on the mound.  Since his last win on July 11, he has eight winless starts and an offense that has produced 11 runs.

Most visiting teams wind up on the losing end at Citizens Bank Park.  Not Houston.  Astros have the best winning percentage among the enemy (.667) thanks to a 14-7 record.

Stuck
Phillies have trailed the Atlanta Braves by 2.5 innings every day since August 16.  When we win, so do the Braves.  When we lose, so do the Braves.

What’s up Doc?
Happ versus Doc Halladay tonight in game 3 of the four-game series.  Series ends at 1:05 Thursday afternoon. 

Prior to that game, Phillies will salute Doc and his family for his May 29th perfect game.  Senator Jim Bunning, who threw a perfect game for the Phillies in 1964, will be there to make one of the numerous gift presentations.

The Phillies are the only National League franchise to have two pitchers throw perfect games.

Happy Birthday
Doug Glanville turns 40 today.

 

Same Crew, 3 Tosses

Charlie’s been tossed from six games this season, three by the current crew.  Makes one wonder.  Of the six ejections, Blanton has been the starting pitcher five times.  Don’t know what that means for Joe.

Tomorrow, the Phillies are hosting Baseball 101 for women.  Charlie will be part of the program that will take place in the Diamond Club.  Guess who will immediately follow Charlie on the program?  None other than Sam Holbrook one of the umpires in the current crew. Perhaps Charlie and Sam can get in an argument for the ladies.

Joe pitched well but the offense couldn’t figure out Myers.  Joe gave up his only run in the first inning.  It marked the 10th time in his 21 starts that he’s been scored on in the first inning.  Perhaps we should ask fans to wear their Phillies caps backward in an effort to turn around his first-inning troubles.

Cole on the mound tonight.   He’s 0-3 this month with the offense scoring two runs in those three losses. Two were 1-0 scores.  His last win was July 11, 1-0.

Hall of Fame pitcher and U. S. Senator Jim Bunning went through a similar spell in 1967.  The Phillies set a club record that season by losing 10 1-0 games.  Bunning was the victim five times and finished the season at 17-15.

Bunning will be back at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday afternoon as the Phillies salute Doc for his perfect game back in May.  The Senator will be involved in pre-game festivities.  The Phillies are the only major league franchise to have two pitchers who have tossed perfect games.

Roy-O On A Roll

Behind the combined shutout pitching of Roy-O, Madson and JC, the Phillies won their seventh straight series at Citizens Bank Park.  Overall, eight series wins in last nine, a formula that gets you to October baseball.

Roy-O won his third in a row (1.29 ERA during those 3 starts).  It is the first time he’s won three straight since September 2008.  He also improved his Citizens Bank Park record to 7-0 (3-0 with Phillies).

Madson has been really sharp and JC has looked great his last two outings.  Getting him in a groove would really solidify the back end of the pen.

Familiar Faces
Starting with GM Ed Wade, there are a number of former Phillies on the Astros: Bret Myers, J. A. Happ and Nelson Figueroa (three of their current starting pitchers), Michael Bourn, Jason Michaels and manager Brad Mills.  Before being dealt to the Cardinals late last week, Pedro Feliz.

Then there’s rookie first baseman Bret Wallace. When the Phillies traded four players to Toronto to get Doc, promising outfielder Michael Taylor was in that deal.  The Blue Jays spun Taylor right away to Oakland to get Wallace.  Another promising rookie outfielder, Anthony Gose, was part of the package for Roy-O.  Houston spun him right away to the Blue Jays for Wallace.

Numbers
**Phillies re 69-24 on Sundays in Citizens Bank Park history.

**When scoring more than three runs, Phillies are 54-13.

**Yesterday’s shutout was their 13th, the most for the Phils since 17 in 1967.

Pigapalooza
Lehigh Valley hosted the AAA All-Star Game in July.  A scheduled July 10 Fan Fest, called Pigapalooza, was postponed because of rain.  It will now be held this coming Sunday at Coca Cola Park.

Among the festivities are autograph sessions by Phillies Alumni, Darren Daulton, Ricky Bottalico, Marty Bystrom, Dickie Noles, Milt Thompson and Tommy Greene.

 

 

Could It Be?

A sweep would have been neat but two of three is a great formula to follow.  The Giants are a tough ballclubto lose three in a row.

Cole wasn’t himself last night but the offense was when he’s on the mound.  The offense hasn’t scored a run over his last three starts while he is in the game, a total of 20 innings.

Last night was the Phillies’ 100th consecutive sellout, which is really something.  Thanks go to the passionate fan support. Phillies are 66-34 in those 100 games.  Doubt that we will be able to catch the Red Sox, who are on a streak of 611 sellouts in a row.  Understand the record for consecutive sellouts belongs to the NBA Portland Trailblazers, 814 from 1977-1995.

Now the Nationals come to town.  Of the Phillies next 29 games, 22 are against clubs with losing records.  But, that doesn’t mean a picnic is in store.  Teams that are under .500 love to beat the top clubs.

Getting Close
Ryan Howard starts a rehab tonight in Lakewood.  They are going to retire his Lakewood uniform number (29) in pre-game ceremonies.  It was originally scheduled for September 2, a day off on the Phillies original schedule.  But, a postponed game will be played on that date in Denver.

Ryan is scheduled for Lehigh Valley tomorrow night and maybe Sunday.  Should be a lot of buzz in those ballparks.

Could It Be?
Last time a Phillies player won a batting title was 1958, Richie Ashburn, who hit .350.  Polly is in the thick of the race this year.

Last time a Phillies pitcher won 20 games was 1982, Steve Carlton (23-11).  Last Phillies right-hander, Robin Roberts in 1955 (23-14).  Doc has 15 wins going into tonight’s game.

Enjoy the weekend.

 

 

Chase Is On

“The Chase Is On” was a sign a fan displayed a couple of nights ago.  That fan was right…the chase is on.

Since July 22, the Phillies are 20-5.  Why?  Largely because of the starting pitching.  They are 12-4 during this stretch.  Joe won for the first time since July 26.  He was sharp as he can be and didn’t walk a batter for the fifth time this season.  Here’s a black-cat note: Phillies pitchers have not issued a walk in 19 straight innings.

During the streak, the long ball was not as prevalent as it had been in recent seasons.  J-Roll had a huge night, getting a single, triple, home run and two stolen bases through five innings.  His homer was the first for the Phillies since August 10. 

The speed is back, too.  J-Roll has the longest streak of successful steals of any player in the majors, 29. 

Then there’s Chooch with 21 RBI in his last 19 games. 

Charting Triples
Phillies all-time list:
151 Ed Delahanty (1888-89; 1891-2001)
127 Sherry Magee (1904-14)
103 Sam Thompson (1889-1898)
98 J-Roll (2000-current)

Triples Notes
Phillies had three triples last night.  Last time they did that was August 9, 2008, vs. Pittsburgh. 

Club record is 5 set in 1986 against the Cubs at the Vet.

Fan Support
Tonight will be the 100th consecutive sellout.  Unbelievable.  Phillies fans certainly are passionate about their ball club.  Last night, Atlanta drew just over 18,000.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in Business

Back in business.  Thanks for staying a Phillies Insider reader.

The dog days of August are here and September sizzle is right around the corner.  Tonight, the Phillies begin a stretch of playing 24 games in the next 23 days. 16 of those games are at Citizens Bank Park where the Phillies have won 15 of their last 17 games.

The next day off is Thursday, September 9.  In looking at the original schedule, the Phillies are off every Thursday next month.  But, a rain out in Denver has created a one-game stop there on September 2, the tail end of a San Diego-LA road trip.

Despite missing their #3-4 hitters, the Phillies have hung in there and are in two races, Eastern Division and the Wildcard.  Chase and Ryan will be back in the lineup soon which will be a big boost.  But, we shouldn’t expect too much from them out of the shoot.  It may take a little while to get their stroke and rhythm at the plate.

Familiar Faces
Sure Pat Burrell will get a warm welcome from Phils fans tonight.  He’s really come to life with the Giants and is on a hot streak.  If he’s in left and Aaron Rowand in center field, it will be like old-home week.  Rowand will look familiar with #33 on this back.  Pat won’t with #9 on his back.

Numbers
**Chooch has 18 RBI in his last 17 games.  He’s one of the big reasons the Phillies are where they are.

**After an 18-game hitting streak, Raul is hitless in 18 at-bats.  This game can bring you to your knees quickly.

**33 games until the Phillies and Braves meet at Citizens Bank Park.  Then, the two teams play six of their last 12 games against each other.

National TV
ESPN will televise tomorrow night’s game (locally blacked out).  Thursday, the MLB Network will carry the game in limited regions.

From BlueClaws Blog
“Manager Mark Parent on why he has Albert Einstein as his screen saver on his office computer: ‘Someone in this room needs to be smart.'”

 

 

Sorry, Phillies Insider is going on the temporary inactive list for the time being.  Hopefully it will be short stay.

 

Thank you.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 85 other followers