September 2011

On to the Postseason

(Sorry, couldn’t post yesterday because of computer difficulties.  I’m helpless in that world….plus a lot of other worlds.  Intend to blog daily throughout the postseason.)
 
Following no formal workout Thursday, the Phillies will take to the field at 1 this afternoon (open to media only).  Cardinals’ workout follows.  Between the two workouts, Doc and the St. Louis starter will be in the media room.
Yesterday, Ruben and his staff and Charlie and his staff, met with scouts who have been following other NL playoff contenders–Charley Kerfeld, Del Unser, Jim Fregosi Jr., Dave Hollins, Danny Wright, Howie Freiling and Craig Colbert.  Some of them will be dispatched to follow the four A. L. teams in the playoffs.
 
Citizens Bank Park was buzzing yesterday and today. NLDS logo has been painted on the field; merchandise tents are being stocked with Phillies postseason gear; truck loads of food and beverages are arriving; the Majestic Clubhouse Store is busier by the hour; accommodations for 300 members of the media have been completed and the stage for the 2 p.m. pre-game rally on Citizens Bank Way has been constructed.
 
Dallas Green, Pat Gillick, Greg Luzinski, Dave Cash and Tommy Greene will be participate in the rally.  At noon today, a Phillies Rally Trolley visited center city to hand out rally towels.
 
Tomorrow
Rally towels for Game 1 are courtesy of Comcast’s XFINITY. 
 
Game will be televised by TBS, Dick Stockton and Bob Brenly.  Phillies fans can tune in on radio to hear the Phillies announcers, Franzke, LA, Wheels, Sarge and T-Mac.   Jim Jackson’s pre-game show will expand to hour prior to first pitch.
 
Delivering the first ball to the mound will be a 9-year-old Phillies fan from Bucks County, Ryan White, who was in San Francisco to watch a Phillies game in August.  Following the game he was injured in a hit-and-run accident.  Several Phillies visited him in the San Francisco hospital and, at that time, his prognosis was not good..  After being transferred to Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia last month, Ryan is improving daily. Joining Ryan will be his brother Kevin.
 
Then, throwing out the first ball is a three-time All-Star second baseman with the Phillies who coined the phrase “Yes We Can” back in 1974, Dave Cash.  His 213 hits in 1975 led the majors and are the most for a Phillies player in the last 53 seasons.
 
Record Year
This record-setting season ended fittingly with another win Wednesday that produced yet more Phillies records.
 
The Phillies set a new club record with their 102nd win.  As September approached, breaking the old record of 101 (1976 and 1977) was a foregone conclusion.  Then, a downsizing came along, losing eight in a row.  To break the record, the Phillies had to sweep in Atlanta.  They did.
 
The win was the 646th for Charlie as the Phillies manager, which broke Gene Mauch’s record.  So, Charlie has won more games than any other Phillies manager and he’ll continue to add to that record, assuring that it will be a long time before someone passes him.
 
The Phillies finished the season with the fewest errors and lowest ERA in the NL, something they’ve never done before. 
 
Now, it comes down to needing 11 more wins for another parade.  The fun starts on Saturday but it won’t be an easy and relaxing October hay ride.  Anything worthwhile doesn’t come easy.  This bunch has proven that numerous times over the last five seasons, including the last three games.
 
Another Record Season
How long will the record 102 wins last?  No one knows.
 
At the opposite end of the world, the Phillies record for losses came exactly 70 years ago when they finished 43-111, a whopping 57 games out of first place. Attendance for the season was 231,401, which averages out to 3,454 fans per game at Shibe Park.
 
Wild Card Talk
MLB is talking about adding a second wild card team in the near future.  So, two wild card teams would then face off in a one-and-done game.
 
There’s no better argument against this thinking than this week. 
 
If there were two wild card teams, there would have been no drama in the final three days.  St. Louis and Atlanta would have been in as wild cards.  St. Louis won Wednesday night and the Braves lost, which settled their seasons. Imagine if they would have to play one game playoff, which is being proposed.
 
Same scenario existed in the American League.  Try telling Tampa Bay, hey you finished ahead of Boston but now you have to play the Red Sox in a playoff game.  In one person’s opinion, it doesn’t make sense but cents is what is driving the thinking.
 
Teams play 162 games in a grueling marathon of a season.  It means something to have only one wild card team.
 
Coming Attractions
*Alumni Postseason Memories: a series of memories of the postseason from Phillies Alumni.
 
*This Date in Phillies Postseason History.
 
Hope you will enjoy these two new features. 
 
Answering E-Mails
Season ticket holder asked if they will have an opportunity to purchase tickets for the NHL Winter Classic.  That’s to be determined.
 
Legends Are Born In October.
Play ball!

Feeling Better?

For the third straight game, the Phillies looked more like the team that dominated for most of the season.  Prior to that, they looked pretty meek in losing eight straight.

Roy-O was outstanding again in his final tune-up for the NLDS and the offense did everything—base hits, stolen bases, home runs on Tuesday night.  Antonio, who had struggled big time, had an impressive inning.  All the anxiety has now been calmed.

They head into game #162 on Wednesday night.  A win sets a club record for a season and pushes Charlie ahead of Gene Mauch for most wins by a Phillies manager.

Questions
Steve, an avid follower, posted a couple of questions yesterday.  Concerning the NHL Winter Classic and season ticket holders getting ticket opportunities, I’ll find out and get an answer.

Other question: should the Phillies set a record for wins, thus giving St. Louis an opportunity for the wildcard and then playing the Phillies?  Or, forget the record so we don’t play St. Louis?

Well, I like the record. If I had a choice in the NLDS, I would prefer not playing the Brewers.  As Charlie has said, championship teams beat anybody. 

Going Where?
Frank Coppenbarger handles Phillies travel accommodations along with managing the clubhouse and equipment staff.   With the Phillies having the home field advantage throughout October, it simplifies his job somewhat.  He knows the Phillies are home Saturday and Sunday. He has a Delta charter aircraft standing by for possible departure on Sunday night or Monday morning.  He has hotel accommodations in Milwaukee, Phoenix and St. Louis. 

For the NLCS, add Atlanta to the mix.  For the World Series, MLB reserves rooms for the visiting team in numerous cities.

With Tuesday’s loss, the Braves have to show up Wednesday with their bags packed for three scenarios: getting eliminated and unpacking again; going to St. Louis for a one-game playoff, the result of which could be coming back home or going someplace for the start of the NLDS on Saturday.  In a nutshell: no trip, a one-day trip or a four-day trip.

Final Day
ESPN will be televising any game that has postseason meaning on Wednesday, the final regular season day.

 

Century Mark

Monday night’s game had the makings of a postseason game.  Tight pitching, lefty relievers brought in to face the Phillies lefty hitters and clutch hitting.  That happed to Raul twice and he drove in two runs.

Cliff was excellent once again.  His 17 wins are the most for a Phillies lefty since Shane Rawley, 17-11, in 1987.  Cliff finished with 238 strikeouts, the most for a Phillies lefty since Lefty Steve Carlton had 275 in 1983.

Phillies reached 100 wins for the third time in club history, 101 in both 1977 and 1978.  Last NL team to reach the century mark, St. Louis in 2005.

Phillies postseason formula is based on stingy starting pitching and the ability to scratch out some runs.  That’s what got them into the postseason.  At times, the offense will pound out runs as it did in 2007-08. Ryan’s ailing ankle/foot makes limits him to one base at a time, which impacts the offense. 

Heading to Clearwater
Savery, Brown and DeFratus will not be on the NLDS roster but will report to the Florida Instructional League after the last game to stay sharp in case they are needed.  Joe relieved in the seventh inning Monday night to face a left-handed hitter and got a ground ball out.

Rosters can be changed for the NLCS and WS.

It’s Official
The Yankees played their final home game on Sunday so the Phillies led the major leagues in attendance (3,680,718) for the first time in franchise history.  The Yankees were second by around 27,000.

204 consecutive regular season sellouts are really something special.  A tribute to the passion of Phillies fans.

Phillies have 644 regular season openings in the history of Citizens Bank Park and they’ve sold out 380 of them.

What Was That?
In looking out on Citizens Bank Park Monday morning, there was something that resembled a race track or ice hockey rink in the infield from third base toward first base.

Race track?  No.  Ice hockey rink? Yep.  The 2012 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic will be played at the park on January 2.  A great rivalry, the New York Rangers against the Flyers.  So, Citizens Bank Park will get a new playing surface for 2012.

NHL held a major press conference at 1:30 p.m. on a stage built on top of the Phillies dugout.

Alumni Views
What changes would you like to see in major league baseball?  Question was posed to Phillies Alumni.

Mike Schmidt, (3B, 1972-1989)
“Eliminate interleague play so the All-Star Game and the World Series would have the mystique of the old days.  Add DH to both leagues to level the playing field in terms of stats and player comparisons, because it looks like the DH is here to stay.  Also eliminate on-the-field fraternization by the players when the gates open.”

Phinally

Charlie  got the regular eight back in the lineup—finally—and shook up the batting order.  It worked as the Phillies unleashed 19 hits and nine runs in ending the eight-game losing streak on Sunday.

Last time the Phillies had their regular eight was September 17, when they clinched the NL East by scoring–you guess it–nine runs.  For the season, the Phillies are 12-4 when the regular lineup is in there.

Something else happened on Sunday–for the first time in 11 games–they scored in the first inning.  Last time it happened was September 15, first game, vs. Marlins.  For the season, they are 70-12 when scoring first.  That says a lot.

A couple of weeks ago it was a foregone conclusion the Phillies would break the club record for wins, 101, in 1976 and 1977, and the four postseason teams in the NL were set.

Well, things happen. An eight-game losing streak dug a pothole in the road. The Phillies can still break the record but need to sweep the Braves in Atlanta.

The first round of the postseason starts on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.  The enemy?  Still to be determined as the Braves and Cardinals are locked in a tight wildcard race.  Should the Braves emerge as the wildcard entry, they can’t play the Phillies in the first round.  And, the Diamondbacks and Brewers are locked in a battle for the second-best record in the NL.

So, the postseason comes down to the final three games of the season.

Alumni Views
What changes would you like to see in major league baseball?  Question was posed to Phillies Alumni.

Cookie Rojas, (INF, 1963-69)
“As far as new changes, we should go back to the good-old days when at the beginning of the season we had a roster of 28 players for the first month of the season, then they would cut back to 25. The reason being that at the start of the season most pitchers only go 4 or 5 innings then you have to go to the bullpen too much and in the long run, that will kill a lot relievers’ arms.  With so many players getting hit in the head, the pitchers should also wear the helmets inside the caps, what we used during my playing days. Pitchers are so close to the hitters they should be protected.  The addition of another wildcard team would be great for the fans because more teams would be in the chase.  Financially, it would be good for the game to have more playoff games.”

 

 

WOW

All season long, the Phillies have done something that no other team in their history had done.

They are still doing it, but in the “you-got-to-be-kidding” mode as opposed to WOW.  Perhaps WOW is fitting.

Their losing streak now stands at eight in a row, longest one since they dropped the same number of games in 2000.  On the major league level, they have the longest losing streak for any team that had 98 wins.  The New York Giants of 1904 held that record, six in a row after 104 wins.

The offense continues to be unproductive, putting pressure on the pitching.  In game 1, a 2-1 loss.  Cole had no margin for error in that defeat.  Cole’s 1-0 lead vanished on a pinch-hit home run in the seventh.  He’s given up 18 home runs this season, eight this month.  In his nine losses, the Phillies have scored 11 total runs.

In game 2, six hits and two runs after two innings and then one run and four hits over the next seven innings.  Three times, they hit into double plays.

During the losing streak they have yet to score in the first, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.  Phillies home runs in the streak: two.  WOW-WOW.

Another DH

Well, another postponement on Friday and another doubleheader on Saturday, making it three in the last 10 days.

Phillies won both against the Marlins and then lost both against the Nationals.  So, in an eight-day period, three wins, seven losses and two extra inning games.

Doubleheaders tax a pitching staff and can keep offensive players from getting in a groove, something the Phillies don’t need right now.

Since clinching, they have lost six games.  According to Elias Sports Bureau, that’s a first in major league baseball since the World Series era began in 1903.

Now, some good news…Phillies are 46-29 on the road, two wins shy of the club record set in 1976 and tied two years ago.  Pitchers have a 3.18 ERA on the road and the offense has scored 318 runs.

Rally Towels Silent

Citizens Bank supplied rally towels for the fans for the final home game.  For most of the night, the towels were silent as the Nationals swept the four-games series from the Phillies.

In the Nationals’ history, they now have three four-game sweeps, two coming this month (Mets earlier in the month).  If you combine the Nationals and Expos history, it is the first time the Phillies have lost a four-game series at home to that combo.

Roy-O pitched well and kept the Phillies in the game until a four-run eighth sealed the verdict.  All six runs came with two out.  The four runs followed what appeared to be a game-ending strikeout but the home plate umpire called the pitch a ball.  That’s the way it has been going for the Phillies.

Earlier a ball dropped in right field and Washington scored two runs.

The one Phillies run came with two out in the last of the ninth.  The offense has scored 37 runs in the last 15 games, a 5-10 record.  Phillies went into the game hitting .223 in those games.  Four hits didn’t help that average.

J-Roll, Shane and Chase combined were 0-36 in the series.  They’ll bounce back and someone will pay the price when they come out of it.  From the All-Star Game until September 1, the Phillies scored the most runs in the league. 

After the game, the Phillies bussed up the New Jersey turnpike for a weekend series in New York against the Mets.  Then, the season ends with three games in Atlanta starting on Monday.

Ryan and Hunter are expected to be back in the lineup this weekend.  Has there ever been a team that had its starting eight in more postseason than regular season games?

NLDS begins on Saturday, October 1.  Rally towels will be back and so will the intensity and the offense. 

Final Count
Phillies finished with an attendance total of 3,680,718, breaking the club record for the fourth straight season.

In the eight seasons at Citizens Bank Park, they’ve topped 3 million six times.

Alumni Views
What changes would you like to see in major league baseball?  Question was posed to Phillies Alumni.

Mike Rogodzinski,  (OF, 1973-75)
“There is no way a DH should be in the game of baseball. The first group of playoff games should be seven games not five. The four teams with the best records should be in the playoffs. Just because you won your division doesn’t mean you’re in the playoffs. Most of all, World Series should end in October. That means less days off between games.”

 

Spin Continues

Hard to believe but here we are with one more home game left in the regular season, Fan Appreciation Night with tons of prizes to be given away to baseball’s most passionate fans.
All fans will receive a commemorative 2011 NL East Champions rally towels, courtesy of Citizens Bank Park and a set of Phillies post cards.
The home season certainly isn’t ending the way it started back in April, three straight wins and a 5-1 homestand.
Washington improved to 9-8 against the Phillies with another win on Wednesday.  Since clinching on Saturday night, the Phillies have lost five in a row for the first time at home since 2009.
The current spin is more than just the last five games.  In their last 13 games, they are 4-9 and out-scored, 44-34, with nine of those runs coming in Saturday’s clincher. Defensively, toss in 11 errors.
J-Roll and Shane have combined for three hits in their last 37 at-bats. The top of the order Wednesday night was 0-for-16.  It is best to get the funks out of the way now and not next month.
Alumni Views
What changes would you like to see in baseball?  That questions was posed to Phillies Alumni.
Ray Rippelmeyer, (CH, 1970-78)
“I would use even more replays to get the calls right.  You can’t do it on balls and strikes, but you could on other things. I like the wild card teams, but I would have seven-game playoffs, but not as many off days for travel and between series.”

Goose Eggs Galore

Nine runs in clinching the NL East on Saturday night.  Since then, goose eggs galore.
Phillies have scored a total of six runs in four straight losses, including two defeats on Tuesday to Washington.  What is really scary, those six runs came in three separate innings.  To put it another way, they’ve scored in just three of their last 37 innings (one, two and three runs). Folks, that’s not good.
In their last 14 games, three runs or less 13 times.  Folks, that’s not good.
Topping it off, zero runs in Tuesday’s night loss in which the Phillies had as many hits as errors, three.  That’s not good, folks.
Meanwhile, starting pitching continues to keep the Phillies in the game.  Folks, that’s good.  Pitching is what wins and the 2011 Phillies are living proof of that theory.
Debut
Joe Savery made his major league debut in the afternoon game, becoming the fourth bullpener this year, Stutes, Schwimer and DeFratus.
Worley, another rookie hurler, makes his final start Wednesday night.  After that, he’ll probably work out of the bullpen, his likely postseason destination.
Green Award
Dallas Green Award will be presented pre-game on Wednesday to long-time Phillies scout, 79-year-old Dick Lawlor, who scouted for the Phillies from 1975 through 2009.
Each year the Phillies will present this award to an amateur or professional scout who best exemplifies the Phillies standard for scouting while demonstrating the same loyalty, work ethic, dedication and passion as the award’s namesake.  It will also recognize the scout’s ability to judge not only a player’s talent, but also his character and heart.
Alumni Views
What changes would you make in baseball?  Question was posed to Phillies Alumni.
Dan Plesac, (LHP, 2002-03)
“I’m hoping for a better replay system in baseball. We have the technology now to get most or all of the calls correct. Find the proper way without slowing down the pace of the game.”

 

Offense Awakes Late

Doc was deprived of a chance to win 20 games, the Phillies offense came to life too late and the Cardinals finished the season as the only team with a winning record against Charlie’s bunch.

A couple of weeks ago, the four playoff teams were pretty well set.  Mike Ondo, Director of Professional Scouting, had everything mapped out for the last two weeks of the season.  All of a sudden, the Cardinals, the Giants and Rays have come to life, the Braves have stumbled big time and Ondo’s blueprint has been altered.  “We’ll start following the Cardinals the rest of the season when they leave town,” he said.

If the Cardinals emerge as the wildcard entry, they will meet the Phillies, whom they defeated six times in nine games.  Despite not doing well against the Redbirds, the Phillies finished 27-16 versus the NL Central, matching their best record set in 2008.

Doc, an 18-game winner, allowed four runs for just the fifth time in 31 starts this season.  He’ll start one more time this weekend in New York. 

The four runs hiked the Phillies team ERA from 3.00 to 3.01. Since earned runs officially became a statistic in 1912, 3.01 ranks as the fourth best in club history: 2.18 in 1915, 2.36 in 1916 and 2.46 in 1917.  Wonder about the Phillies worst ERA?  Try 6.70 in 1930, still a major league record.

Sellout was the 200th consecutive.  Barring a rainout, the Phillies will lead the majors in attendance for the first time in their history.

Now, the offense, which has scored 28 runs in the last 11 games.  What makes it even more scary, nine of those runs came in one game, Saturday’s clincher.  Monday night, two of the three runs came in the bottom of the ninth.

No sense in fretting about Monday night’s loss.  There’s a game at 1 Tuesday afternoon and then a 7:05 night game against the Nationals, who have the best record in the east against the Phillies, 6-8.  Look for Charlie to use a different lineup in each game, resting some of the everyday players.

Alumni Views
What changes would you make in baseball?  Questions was posed to Phillies Alumni.
Mickey Morandini, (2B, 1990-97; 2000)
“MLB should eliminate the DH.  Add instant replay for all plays (you get two challenges per nine innings and one extra challenge if it goes extra innings). Do not add playoff teams.  Have a draft salary cap and a salary cap for amateur foreign players.”

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