September 2011

Historic Win

It was a long night at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday but the end result was another Phillies win of historic proportions.

It was the 90th win for the fourth straight season, a first in Phillies history.  The 90th win came in game #138, the earliest the Phillies have ever done that.

It also marks the 20th time the Phillies have been a position for a series sweep this season.  That’s unheard of.

Part of the long night was the 1-hour, 52-minute delay at the start of the game.  The last time a team is in a city, the decision to start the game rests with the umpires and not the home team. 

MLB strives to have every team complete a 162-game schedule.  That’s part of a championship season.  So every effort is made to play the games. 

Phillies Offer Tickets
Late in Tuesday night’s game, the Phillies issued the following press release:
“We sincerely appreciate our fans’ patience and understanding and we thank them for their incredible and continued support,” said Vice President of Sales and Ticket Operations, John Weber. “As a token of our appreciation, all fans holding tickets to tonight’s game may exchange their tickets for a complimentary 2012 ticket to one of six dates.” 
Tickets may be exchanged for the Pavilion, Pavilion Deck or Terrace Deck seating area to one of the following six games during the 2012 season:
* On Deck Series Games against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, April 2nd or Tuesday, April 3rd (both games are scheduled to begin at 7:05)
* Any of 4 Monday home games between April 30th and May 21st (opponents and times TBD)
Fans should maintain possession of tonight’s tickets (listed as September 6th & game 73) until mid-January 2012 when On Deck Series Games go on sale, or mid-February 2012 when individual tickets go on sale.
Exchanges can be done at the Citizens Bank Park Ticket Windows. All exchanges are subject to availability and will be done on a ticket-for-ticket basis.
Playoff Time
RHP David Bush will be on the mound tonight (7:05) when the IronPigs host Pawtucket in game 1 of the best-of-five first round playoffs.  The Red Sox took the season series, 10-6.

Reading opens its best-of-five first round Thursday night in Manchester, NH, home of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, managed by Phillies Alumnus Sal Fasano.  Mark Parent, another former Phillies catcher, is the Reading manager.

Alumni Views
What changes would you like to see in Major League Baseball? That question was posed to Phillies Alumni. 

Grant Jackson (LHP, 1965-70)
“As a former pitcher, eliminate the DH and let me face the pitcher in the box.  Wouldn’t want to see more replays or more wildcard teams.  Keep the first round at the best-of-five.”



More Zeroes

5-0, 1-2, 5-0.

That was Cliff’s record for the months of June, July and August.  Making his first start of September, he just kept on dominating as he did all of last month.  Cliff on his seventh straight and chalked up his sixth shutout of the season.  He did it throwing 100 pitches, 70 for strikes.  That’s hybrid pitching.

Cliff’s record this season at Citizens Bank Park is even more impressive: 16 starts, 11-2 record, 1.97 ERA.

Cliff won the NL Pitcher of the Month Award in June.  No Phillies pitcher has ever won two such awards in one season.  The August Award should be announced Tuesday.  If Cliff doesn’t win, we’ll ask Joe West for a replay and file another protest.

Phillies Shutouts
Cliff became the 14th Phillies pitcher to toss six shutouts in a season and first since Steve Carlton in 1982.

Next on the list at seven: George McQuillan (1908), Grover Cleveland Alexander (1911) and Jim Bunning (1965). McQuillan was shut out eight times in 1908, including five 1-0 decisions.

Cliff reached 200 for the first time in his career and became the fourth lefty to do so with the Phillies. 

Steve Carlton did it seven times.  Others were Chris Short (1968) and Cole Hamels (2010).

Down On The Farm
**Lehigh Valley, after having never played .500 ball in their three-year history, advanced to the playoffs with a 4-1, 5-inning win at Syracuse on Monday afternoon.  Game was called by rain.  The win gave the IronPigs a second-place finish and the wildcard entry in the North Division.  They begin the best-of-5 series against the first-place Pawtucket Red Sox on Tuesday night in Coca-Cola Park.  Game 2 is there on Wednesday night.  “Bring Home The Bacon” is the IronPigs’ postseason theme.

Reading: 6-2 win in Binghamton on Monday afternoon sent Reading into the postseason for first time since 2009.  The win gave the Phillies the Eastern Division wildcard berth.  They begin a best-of-5 series on Wednesday night at the first-place New Hampshire Fisher Cats.  Game 2 is in NH on Thursday night before the series shifts to Reading on Friday night. 

Congratulations to managers Ryne Sandberg (LV) and Mark Parent (Reading), two Phillies Alumni.

Phillies Return Home

A lot has been written and said about the 14-inning Phillies loss on Sunday and the controversial call by the umpire crew following a replay review. Todd Zolecki will follow up on the appeal today on

Bottom line, the Phillies offense didn’t produce (eight singles, two doubles) and they lost consecutive games for the first time since June 3-4.  That’s an amazing streak.

Game could have easily ended earlier as Florida left 23 men on base. 

Back home on Monday night for a three-game series with the second-place Braves.  The Phillies and Braves have split their first 12 games. The two teams end the regular season in Atlanta, September 26-27-28.

Mother Nature in the form of tropical depression Lee may be a problem.  Would Lee ruin Cliff’s Monday night start? 

Every effort will be made to play the games since it is the last time the Braves come to Philly.  Plus there are no more days off this month in which a game(s) could be rescheduled.

There have been three postponements in the Phillies last 10 home dates, two coming from hurricane Irene.  Phillies have played 134 games, fewest in the majors.

Phillies pitchers had six RBI in the seven-game trip (5-2) . . . Alumni visitors over the weekend included Danys Baez, Benito Santiago and Stan Javier . . . Phillies will honor youth baseball state champions before Monday night’s game . . . Wednesday is an ESPN telecast.

Down On The Farm
**Lehigh Valley: Going into the final game of the regular season Monday afternoon in Syracuse, the IronPigs have a 1-game lead in the wildcard race following a 7-4 win on Sunday in Syracuse.  LHR Joe Savery recorded his second save.  Gwinnett Braves play Charlotte.  If the Braves win and IronPigs lose, there will be a 1-game playoff at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown on Tuesday night.

**Reading: Same scenario.  Phillies won 5-4 on Sunday in Binghamton on Tim Kennelly’s solo home run in the top of the 9th.  Reading leads New Britain by 1 game in the wildcard race. Regular season ends Sunday afternoon.

Stadium Finale

One was pitching for the third straight day, the other hadn’t pitched in eight days.

Both proved to be human as the Marlins hit three of their five home runs in the eighth-inning for come-from-behind win on Saturday night. 

Antonio, on the mound for three straight games, started the inning walking the only two batters he faced.  In 53.1 innings, he’s walked more (21) than allowed hits (19).  After sitting for eight days, Herndon gave up three homers, the first Phillies reliever to do that since Chris Brock in 2000. Dave entered the game with a 0.00 ERA for his last 11 appearances.

Cole struggled early, settled down and drove in two of the Phillies four runs.  He was in a position to pick up a win but the bullpen faltered.

Series and stadium finale Sunday afternoon.  Phillies will have a losing record at Sun Life Stadium, which is the fifth name for the place since 1997.  They are 74-77, which includes a 14-game losing streak (4/3/03-7/29/04), but have won 22 of the last 28.  One of those wins is Doc’s perfect game.

Next season, the Marlins will be playing in a baseball park with a retractable roof, which will eliminate the frequent rain delays.  Saturday’s start was delayed by 1:38 because of rain.

Delta charter flight returns Phillies home on Sunday evening to face the Braves and rain.  Three-game series with Atlanta starts on Monday night and then it’s back on the road again.  Unpack Sunday night and pack Tuesday night.

All three games will be on national TV, Monday and Tuesday nights, the Major League Baseball Network and ESPN on Wednesday.

Next seven games are against teams with the second and third-best records in the NL, Atlanta and Milwaukee.

Down On The Farm
**Lehigh Valley won, 3-0, in the final regular season home game as Kevin Bass and Justin DeFratus combined on blanking Buffalo.  IronPigs are 1 game ahead of the Gwinnett Braves in the battle for a wildcard berth.  LV ends season with games Sunday (6:30 p.m.) and Monday (2:00 p.m.) in Syracuse.

**Reading won, 6-5, in Binghamton.  Final two games are Sunday night and Monday afternoon in NY.

**Clearwater lost to Dunedin; season ends Sunday afternoon against Dunedin at Bright House Field.

**Lakewood lost at Hagerstown; OF Zach Collier, 3-for-3, 34th steal.  Games Sunday night and Monday afternoon in Hagerstown close out the season.

**Williamsport lost at State College.  Season ends there Sunday afternoon.

The Beat Goes On

Winning the series opener at the Marlins on Friday night lifted the Phillies to 42 games over .500 for the first time in the 129-year history of the franchise.

Obviously the 2011 edition is a very good team, led by a chore of solid All-Star position players and a pitching staff of aces.  But, the supporting cast has played a huge role in their roll.

Bastardo, Worley, Stutes, Valdez, Mayberry, Martinez, Schneider have become a solid supporting cast.

On Friday night, Mayberry drove in three of the five runs and the bullpen closed the door again. 

Phillies tied the Red Sox for the most wins on the road this season, 42.  Since 2004, the Phillies are 349-281 on the road, best record in the NL.

Top Dog
Thursday afternoon in Cincinnati Madson relieved in his 461st game, thus breaking the Phillies record for most relief appearances by Tug McGraw. 

Including Madson’s starts, he has been in 480 games.  Only Steve Carlton (499) and Robin Roberts (529) pitched in more games for the Phillies.

Down On the Farm
**Lehigh Valley scored the winning run on an error in a 2-1 decision over Buffalo.  IronPigs are 2 games out of first place and have a .5 game lead in the wildcard race.  Final home game on Saturday night is followed by two road games in Syracuse.

**Reading won, 4-2, at Binghamton as OF Mike Spidale had 2 hits to increase his average to .325.  Phillies, 3 out of first place, lead the wildcard race by .5 games.  Three more road games in Binghamton close the regular season.

**Clearwater was eliminated from a possible second-half title in losing a doubleheader at Dunedin.

**Lakewood lost 6-5 at Hagerstown.  Three more games on the schedule in Hagerstown.  One more loss and Lakewood is eliminated.

**Williamsport also faces 1 more loss for elimination following a 3-2 defeat at State College.  Two more games there end the season.

Phillies History Today
1917: Grover Cleveland Alexander went the distance in winning both games of a doubleheader against Brooklyn, 5-0 and 9-3.

Cy Young Antonio?

On a staff filled with Cy Young Award candidates, the best pitcher may just well be lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo.

With the game on the line (6-4 Phillies lead) Thursday afternoon in Cincy, he threw 18 pitches and got five outs.  The enemy is batting .122 against him, a number that’s never been done for a hurler with a minimum of 50 innings.

Vance picked up the win, capping a series in which the staff allowed the best offensive team in the NL to score five runs.  There are a lot of amazing stats this season.  One comes from Vance.  Of the 90 strikeouts he’s recorded, 47 have been called strikes.  The enemy simply can’t pick up his pitches.

The four-game sweep of the Reds in Cincinnati was the first for the Phillies since 1916.  That was the year Grover Cleveland Alexander tossed 16 shutouts, a record that may never be broken.  The staff that year recorded 26 shutouts, another club record.  This year’s staff is gaining with 19 shutouts. 

So, the Phillies are a mind-boggling 41 games above .500 for the third time in club history.  They’ve never been 42 over.

Next are the final three games in Sun Life Stadium, of whatever is the name of the Marlins’ home.  Next year the Marlins will be called the Miami Marlins and they will be playing in a new baseball park, not a football stadium.

Following this weekend, the Phillies return home for only three games, Monday through Wednesday nights with the Atlanta Braves.  Then, on to Milwaukee for four games and Houston for three.  Final homestand of the season runs from September 15 through September 22.

Dallas Green Honor
Later this month, the first ever Dallas Green Scout of the Year award will be presented pre-game.  His mentor, Paul Owens, has had a long-standing award named after him…the best pitcher and player in the minor league organization.

Following the death of John Vukovich, an award was crafted in his honor.  It goes to someone in player development, a manager, coach or instructor.

Scouts have long been overlooked but not anymore with the new Dallas Green Award.

Each year the club 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. The award will also recognize the scout’s ability to judge not only a player’s talent, but also his character and heart.

Green has spent over 55 years in baseball, including nearly 40 with the Phillies. Over his distinguished career, Green has served in almost every capacity in the game, including player, scout, manager, general manager and club executive.  Green currently is a senior advisor to Ruben Amaro Jr.

Down On The Farm
As the minor league seasons near the end, five Phillies minor league teams are in the running for postseason berths. 

**Lehigh Valley: not scheduled Thursday.  Two games out of first place, tied for a wildcard berth.  Four games left on the schedule, all on the road.

**Reading: won 6-1 at Akron behind Tyler Cloyd (6-3), 1 run in 6 innings.  Following the game in Ohio, the team bused to New York for the final four games of the season against the Binghamton Mets.  Phillies are four games out of first place, 0.5 behind in the wildcard race.

**Clearwater: rained out in Dunedin.  Threshers are 1.5 games behind Dunedin in the second half race.  Two teams meet in the final four games, including a doubleheader on Friday, and the final game in Clearwater on Sunday.

**Lakewood: won 10-1 at Hagerstown behind RH Garet Claypool (5-7), 0 runs, 6 innings.  2B Carlos Alonso had 3 hits to lead a 16-hit attack.  BlueClaws trail by 3 in the second-half race.  They close out the season with four more games in Hagerstown.

**Williamsport: lost, 8-3, at Mahoning Valley.  Crosscutters are 2 games out of first place and 1 game out of a wildcard berth.  Three more games remain, all at home against State College.

Good News/Bad News
The Phillies and five of their minor league clubs are in the running for postseason baseball.  That’s good news.

The bad news?  Will blog daily through the rest of the season.

Final Month Is Here

Sorry to have been absent this week.  Irene left us powerless for 63 hours, creating some water damage but nothing like others who have had their homes really flooded.  Last blog’s headline was GOODNIGHT IRENE.  Guess the hurricane gods got upset.

Can you believe the calendar says it is September 1?

The final month of the regular season for the Phillies means 16 more road games after Thursday afternoon and 13 home games.  At one point, the Phillies only had 10 more home games this month but Irene and another rainout added 3 games.

Phillies have the best road record in the NL (40-24), winning 15 of their last 18.  Of the 40 wins, nine have been shutouts and that’s incredible.

Ryan Howard is at his best this month.  Over the last three seasons: 24 homers (matching May and July for his best month).  His .305 average and 80 RBI are tops.

If his pattern continues, Raul is in for a big September.  He’s hit one home run in April, seven in May, one in June, seven in July and one in August.

Let’s hope Cliff doesn’t continue his alternate months.  5-0, 0.21 ERA in June; 1-2, 4.91 in July; 5-0, 0.45 in August.

On Top
This season is the ninth time the Phillies have been in first place on September 1: 1915, 1950, 1964, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1993, 2009.  Reaching the World Series: four times, 1915, 1950, 1993, 2009.

None of the previous eight teams had pitching staffs that could match the current one.

Different Road Trip
John Bowker, the newest Phillie, was getting ready for a season-ending road trip to Louisville.  Instead, he got the news to head for Cincinnati and join the first-place Phillies.

Playing at home for the Indianapolis Indians on Tuesday night, he was preparing for the last home game on Wednesday night.  Thursday was a travel day to Louisville and the end of the season on Monday.

Wonder what it feels like to be told you’re not going to Louisville but to the Phillies?

Down On The Farm
Lehigh Valley lost its fourth straight, 6-2, to Scranton/Wilkes Barre.  With 4 games left, the IronPigs are 2 games out of first and 1 game behind in the wild card race . . . Reading lost, 6-5, in 13 innings at Akron to fall 4 out of first and 0.5 behind in the wild card race.  Phillies have 5 more games, all on the road . . . Clearwater split a DH with Brevard County; Threshers are 1.5 out of first place in the second half with 4 games left . . . Lakewood was idle . . . Williamsport won its fourth in a row, 6-2, over Mahoning Valley to move within a game of first place; Crosscutters are tried for the wild card berth with 4 games remaining.