April 2012

Joe-B Gem

Perhaps starting pitching is contagious.  Joe-B turned in a gem in his first start last night.  Elbow problems plagued him most of last season.  He doesn’t have the glitter of Doc, Cliff and Cole but his career is a winning one.

He’s now 27-17 since coming to the Phils for three prospects, none of whom are with the A’s any longer.  At Citizens Bank Park, he’s 13-3 in his last 16 starts. 

Starters so far have a 1.60 ERA for six games, pretty stingy.

Phillies are now 1-1 in series wins.  A year ago, they won 34 of 53.  Winning series is key.

Weekend
Mets in town for three games.  Charlie’s being honored pre-game Saturday for his historic 646th win last season, which set a record for a Phillies manager.  The Phillies have a surprise gift for him.

After Sunday’s game, the Phillies take a Delta charter flight across the country to San Francisco.  10 games in 10 days against the Giants, Padres and Diamondbacks, not an easy journey.

Then back home for one four-game series against the Cubs, starting April 27.

Down On The Farm
**Lehigh Valley won 4th in last 5, 5-4, vs. Syracuse.  C Tuffy Gosewisch hit a grand slam.  RHR Phillippe Aumont, 3rd save, 2 strikeouts, 1 inning.

**Reading improved to 7-1 with a 4-1 win in Harrisburg.  RF Jiawan James had his 2nd triple and threw out a runner at first base.  RHS Trevor May (2-0), 1 run, 7 innings and an RBI double; RHR B.J. Rosenberg, 2nd save.

**Clearwater went extra innings for the second straight game, this one a 6-5 win over Lakeland.  1B Jim Murphy, 3 hits, 1st homer, 3 RBI.  CF Peter Lavin, 3 hits, 2nd steal. RHR Jordan Whatcott (1-0), 0 runs, 2 strikeouts, 2 innings.

**Lakewood won home opener, 8-1, over Hagerstown.  CF Gauntlett Eldemire, 1-3, 3 runs, 6th steal.  RHS Michael Nesseth (1-1), 0 runs, 5 innings; RHR Kenny Giles, 1st save.

Phlashback
April 13, 1983—Trailing, 9-5, C Bo Diaz hits game-winning grand slam with two out in the last of the ninth off RHP Neil Allen to defeat the Mets, 10-9.

April 13, 2003—Phillies score club-record 13 runs in one inning (4th) en route to a 13-1 romp in Cincinnati.

April 14, 1960—34-year-old Gene Mauch replaces manager Eddie Sawyer, who resigned after 9-4 opening day loss in Cincinnati two days earlier.

April 15, 1985—Mike Schmidt plays in his 1,795th game to break the club record held by Richie Ashburn.

April 15, 2004—Four-run eighth inning lifts the Phillies to a 6-4 win over the Reds, their first victory in Citizens Bank Park.  LHP Rheal Cormier is the winner; save for Billy Wagner.  Homers by 3B David Bell and C Mike Lieberthal.

More Phlashback moments can be found on www.phillies.com/alumni.

 

 

Hit Parade

It must be contagious, hitting that is. For four games, the hitting was non-existence. Last night, five straight hits in the third inning helped produce five runs, more than the Phillies had scored in any previous game this season.  Yoo-hoo, everybody hits.

From eight runs on 26 hits in four games, the Phillies piled up seven runs on 14 hits last night. 

Meanwhile, Doc continued his brilliant early-season pitching (one run in 15 innings).  In 31 starts after a Phillies loss, he’s 20-7.  That’s an ace.

Elias Sports Bureau
Win boosted Doc’s career won-lost record to 190-92 (.674). He became only the 10th pitcher in major-league history to reach the 190-wins mark with 92-or-fewer losses. The only other pitchers to do that in the post-World War II era were Whitey Ford in 1963 (who was 190-74), Juan Marichal in 1969 (190-87) and Pedro Martinez in 2005 (190-78).

www.phillies/com/alumni
**Mike Schmidt reflects on his historic four home run game in 1976 and his 500th homer 11 years later in the Alumni Views section.

**Pat Burrell is following the footsteps of Doug Glanville (2005) and Mike Lieberthal (2008) by officially retiring as a Phillie.

Trivia Question
Who got the last hit in both Jack Russell Stadium and Veterans Stadium?

Burrell: 9th inning single on 3/28/03 (JR Stadium) and 9th inning single on 9/28/03 (Vet).

Down On The Farm
**Lehigh Valley (5-2) edged Syracuse, 7-6.  C Eric Kratz, 2 doubles, 2 RBI; CF Scott Podsednik, 2 hits, 2 runs, 2 steals.  RHS Austin Hyatt (1-0); RHR Phillippe Aumont (2nd save).

**Reading (6-1) ended the homestand with a 4-2 win over New Hampshire. 2 hits each for 1B Darrin Ruf (.458) and RF Jiwan James (.417).  RHS Tyler Cloyd (1-0), 2 runs, 6 innings; RHR Justin Friend (3rd save).

**Clearwater (2-4) lost to Tampa by one run for the second straight game, 2-1, in 12 innings.  CF Peter Lavin, 3rd double, 1st HR.  No decision for LHS Adam Morgan, 1 run, 6 innings, 9 strikeouts.

**Lakewood (2-5) ended a season-opening road trip with a 5-1 loss in Greensboro.  BlueClaws open home schedule this evening.

Phlashback
April 12, 1965—Phillies win first NL game played in Houston’s Astrodome, 2-0, over the Colt 45s.  LHP Chris Short tosses four-hitter and 3B Dick Allen homers.

April 12, 2004—Cincinnati Reds spoil inaugural opener at Citizens Bank Park with 4-1 win.  RF Bobby Abreu hits first homer in new park.

WOF Final 5

Over 8,400 fans have cast their votes and the final five candidates for the Toyota Wall of Fame have been determined. In alphabetical order: RHP Jim Konstanty, C Mike Lieberthal, RHP Curt Schilling, C Jimmy Wilson and RHP Rick Wise.

The final five will be presented to a Special Wall of Fame Selection Committee to select the 2012 inductee.  The committee consists of seven writers, two broadcasters, five club executives and one historian/author.

Induction ceremonies will take place on Friday night, August 10, prior to the game against the Cardinals.  John Kruk, 2011 inductee, will present the 2012 winner. 

More Alumni News & Notes can be found at www.phillies.com/alumni.

Bats Missing
It is no secret the Phillies aren’t hitting in the early portion of this season. Larry Bowa often said, check the back of baseball cards for the numbers.

So, here are the numbers (current average, back of baseball card numbers):

Rollins (.250/.272), Polanco (.154/.301), Pence (.267/.292), Nix (.000/.244), Mayberry (.250.,265), Pierre (.222/.296)  and Wigginton (.111/.265).  Notice the two missing pieces are Victorino and Ruiz.  They are the only ones with higher career numbers.

Rounding The Bases
MLB released the top selling player jerseys last week and the Phillies have four in the top dozen, Lee (#2), Halladay (#5), Pence (#9) and Utley (#11).  #1 is Jeter . . . March rankings of the MLB pro bloggers has Phillies Insider in 12th place, up from 14 in February . . . After Harry Kalas died, the Phillies displayed a mural on the left field wall and after winning the division that season, many of the players trotted out there to touch the mural.  It is now on display again permanently in Harry The K’s restaurant . . . MLB Network did its top 100 player rankings last week and Cole is #67.  Hard to believe, Harry.

Down On The Farm
**Lehigh Valley was blanked on 4 singles, 8-0.  RHP Dave Bush (0-1), 1 unearned run in 5 innings.

**Reading was nipped by New Hampshire, 3-2. Runs came on solo homers by LF Jiwan James and DH Steve Susdorf.  RHP Jonathan Pettibone (0-1), 3 runs, 5.2 innings.

**Clearwater lost to Tampa, 5-4.  C Cameron Rupp, 2 RBI. RHP Perci Garner (0-1), 2 earned runs, 5 innings.

**Lakewood ended a 3-game losing streak with a 10-6 decision at Greensboro.  LF Brian Pointer hit his 3rd HR; SS Tyler Greene, an 11-round pick out of high school last year, hit his 1st pro homer.  LHP Lino Martinez (1-0), 3 runs, 5 innings.  RHR Ryan Duke, 1st save.

Marlins Spoil Opener

Cole hadn’t lost to the Marlins at Citizens Bank Park since 2010, 4-0; Sanchez hadn’t won in seven outings in the Phillies home also since 2010. That flip-flopped as the Marlins won the Phillies home opener yesterday. Cole fell to 1-4 in his last six opening starts of a season. 

The Marlins pounded out six extra base hits yesterday.  The Phillies have four for the season.  They’re averaging 2 runs per game in falling two under .500 for the first since April 23, 2009. Obviously, the offense is sputtering.  It will pick up.

Day off today is followed by a classic pitching matchup tomorrow night, Doc against the Marlins’ ace, JJ.  Could be a tough night for hitters. 

Elias Sports Bureau
The Marlins’ Infante became the eighth visiting player with a multi-homer game in a Phillies home opener.  Among the others were Albert Pujols (Cardinals, 2006) and three Hall of Famers, Mel Ott (Giants, 1934), Bill Terry (Giants, 1932) and Buck Ewing (Giants, 1887).

Down On The Farm
**Lehigh Valley blanked Pawtucket, 1-0; four pitchers combing in the shutout; RHS Scott Elarton won, 2 hits, 5 innings; LHR Jacob Diekman, 1st save, 2 hits, 3 strikeouts, 1 inning.  LF Dominic Brown, 2-4, including RBI single in the 4th.

**Reading improved to 5-0, 5-2, over New Hampshire.  CF Tyson Gillies, 3-5, 3 runs, 2 RBI; hitting .389.

**Clearwater beat Tampa, 9-6 with DH Jeremy Barnes and C Cameron Rupp getting 4 RBI each.  Two big leaguers on rehab pitched in the game, Andy Pettite and Jose Contreras.

**Lakewood continued a season-opening 7-game road trip with a 6-2 loss in Greensboro.  RF Brian Pointer, 3-4, including 2nd homer.

Phlashback
April 10, 1971—Phillies win first game played in Veterans Stadium, 4-1, over the Montreal Expos.  RHP Jim Bunning is the winner. SS Larry Bowa got the first hit.  3B Don Money got the first home run.

More Phillies Phlashbacks can be found on www.phillies.com/alumni.

 

PNC Blues

In less than 24 hours, the Pirates had back-to-back, ninth-inning walk-off wins over the Phillies.  Elias Sports Bureau reports it is the first time the Pirates have done that to the Phils since 1978.

The opening weekend in PNC Park showed that the Phillies starting pitching is excellent and the offense is not so excellent.  It also resulted in the Phillies 10th series loss in 12 tries at PNC Park.  So, the good news, the Phillies won’t be playing there again until next season.

Yesterday, the bullpen couldn’t hold the lead. Of the four relievers, only Bastardo didn’t give up a run.  There were 105 relief pitchers used in the majors yesterday.  30 gave up runs and 13 were involved in a win, loss or save.

Hey, three games don’t make a season. Shane said don’t panic and he’s right.
No better example of that than are the Rays and Yankees.  Tampa Bay swept the opening weekend from New York.  Last time the Rays started 3-0 was 2002.  They wound up losing a franchise record 106 games.  Last time the Yankees began 0-3 was 1998.  They went on to win 114 games and the World Series.

Down On The Farm
**Lehigh Valley won three of four.  Three relievers picked up saves, RH Michael Schwimer, LH Raul Valdez and RH Phillippe Aumont.

**Reading is 4-0.  OF Leando Castro is hitting .467 and leads the organization with five RBI.  RH Justin Friend has two saves.

**Clearwater is 1-2.  OF Miguel Alvarez is hitting .500.

**Lakewood  dropped three of four at Greenville.  CF Kyrell Hudson, off to a .125 start, has four steals in four tries.  LF Aaron Altherr, .357 with two steals.

Phlashback
April 9, 1913—Phillies win first game played in Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, 1-0, over the Dodgers.  RHP Tom Seaton is the winner.  He wound up leading the NL in wins (27), innings (322.1), walks (136) and strikeouts (168).

For Phillies Plashbacks, check out www.phillies.com/alumni.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impressive Start

If there’s any doubt that spring training stats don’t mean anything, Doc showed that with his brilliant outing yesterday.  Singles to the first two Pirates and that’s it.  Papelbon did his one-inning thing, throwing nine strikes out of 10 pitches, for his first NL save.

So, the Phillies won a season opener for the first time ever from the Pirates by scratching out a run.  Chooch was basically the Phillies offense, 3-3, with the RBI sac fly.

Pitching and defense.  Galvis turned a tough DP in the first inning to help get Doc out of that quick jam.  Mayberry made two fine catches in left field.

Home Opener

Two more games in Pittsburgh set the stage for the first game at Citizens Bank Park, 1:05 p.m. on Monday against the Marlins, who haven’t scored a run in two losses.

Pre-game block party, U. S. Navy Leap frogs parachuting into the park, 2011 East Division pennants for fans courtesy of Modell’s Sporting Goods, Charlie and the Mayor leading the team as they enter the park from left field, Anthem by the Philadelphia Boys Choir, unveiling of the large American flag, a flyover, U. of Delaware All-American basketball star Elena Delle Donne with the ceremonial first ball.  Typical pageantry for a Phillies home opener.

Phillies Plashback

2004—Phillies opened Citizens Bank Park against the Reds.  The lineup that day:

Byrd, CF

Polanco, 2B

Abreu, RF

Thome, 1B

Burrell, LF

Lieberthal, C

Rollins, SS

Bell, 3B

Wolf, p

 April 6, 1972—First players strike cancels season opener and first 86 games.

April 6, 1982—Phillies home opener is postponed by snow.  Next day is postponed by cold weather.

April 6, 2001—Phillies retire Hall of Famer Jim Bunning’s #14 in pregame ceremonies.  Cubs win opener, 3-2.

 Alumni Section

Among the new features at www.phillies.com/alumni:

 

**A vintage photo of the Phillies opening day in 1938.

**Broadcaster Chris Wheeler relives Mike Schmidt’s four consecutive home run game.  Included is a link to video of Schmidt’s game-winning fourth homer on a wild day in Chicago.

**Where Are They Now? Kevin Jordan, former infielder and pinch-hitter deluxe.

**History of Phillies 1-0 opening day wins plus a team photo of the 1913 cub.

 

 

 

Here We Go

In winning the division each of the last five seasons, the Phillies have improved their win total each year, a first in baseball according to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark.

Well, year six begins this afternoon in Pittsburgh.  It ends 180 days from now, October 3 in Washington, DC. 

When the five-year string began, the Phillies used an offense built around the long ball to pile up wins.  It all changed last year, when pitching and defense become the dominant phase of the team’s success (MLB’s best in ERA and fielding percentage).  76 of the 102 wins came from seven starting pitchers.  Except for Oswalt, Doc, Cliff, Cole, Vance, Joe-B and Kyle are back for another run.

So, here we go.

J-Roll
This starts J-Roll’s 13th season with the Phillies.  If he finishes his new contract (three seasons and an option), he’ll have worn the uniform for 17 years. Only Mike Schmidt has more (18).

And, this season continues J-Roll’s assault on numerous top-10 hitting categories in Phillies history.  He begins the season third in extra base hits, at-bats, doubles; fourth in runs, triples, hits, total bases and stolen bases and fifth in games played.

There’s little doubt we are watching one of the truly greats in Phillies history.

Minor League Openers Today
**Lehigh Valley hosts Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, 7:05 p.m.; RHP Dave Bush is the starter.
**Reading Phillies open with a 4 p.m. doubleheader against Portland; RHP Jonathan Pettibone and RHP Tyler Cloyd.
**Clearwater starts at nearby Dunedin, 7:05 p.m.; LHP Adam Morgan.
**Lakewood’s season opener is in Greenville, SC, also 7:05 p.m.; 19-year-old LHP Lino Martinez.

Opening Day Memories
Frank Lucchesi (MGR, 1970-72)
“Well, I have two great memories from opening day and both were with the Phillies.  1970 at Connie Mack Stadium, after 21 years in the minor leagues, I was finally in the major leagues as a manager.  Very emotional day.  Then, 1971, the first game ever played in Veterans Stadium. Both hold very special place in my heart.”

April Flashback
April 5, 1957—Phillies trade five players and $75,000 to acquire SS Chico Fernandez from Brooklyn Dodgers.  I was in a factory making shoes for children.  Honest.

Yikes!

The Phillies will be playing the Pirates in the fourth different city this spring.  First, it was Clearwater and Bradenton and then Philly the last two nights.

Now, the 2012 season officially gets underway on Thursday afterenoon in Pittsburgh’s PCN Park, where the Phillies haven’t fared well.  They are 13-22 ay PNC, the fewest wins in any enemy territory.

Well, it doesn’t get any better.  Five times in their 129-year history, the Phillies have played the Pirates on opening day.  The Pirates are 5-0. Yikes.  The Phillies have scored a total of 13 runs.

With Doc on the mound, it’s time to end that winless spell. 

First Ever
The Phillies first season opener was May 1, 1883, a 4-3 loss to the Providence Grays.  Attendance was 12,000.

The initial loss seemed to set the tone as the Phillies have won 58 openers, lost 69 and have had a pair of ties (1923 at Brooklyn, 5-5, 14 innings and 1924 vs. Boston, 6-6, 11 innings.).  With no lights in ballparks back then, it is assumed the games were called ties because of darkness. 

Other Opening Day Notes
**Of the previous 129 openers, 12 have gone extra innings, the most recent, a 10-inning, 5-3 loss to the Braves at Citizens Bank Park in 2007.

**Phillies have won their last two openers which ended losses in four consecutive years. Last time they won more than two in a row was five consecutive (1962-66).  Club record is six in a row (1913-1918).

**On openers played on April 5, the Phillies are 3-4.  Two of the defeats came at the hands of, you guessed it, Pittsburgh.

**Latest season opener for the Phillies was May 2, an 8-2 defeat against Providence in 1885.  We don’t seem to have much luck against Providence and Pittsburgh.

**Hall of Famer Robin Roberts has the most opening day wins for the Phillies, five and most losses, six.

Opening Day Memories
Jim Kaat (LHP, 1976-79)
“Seeing President Eisenhower throw out the ceremonial first ball…he threw it from his box into a crowd of us and coach Clyde McCullough caught it.  That’s one great memory.  Another was in 1965 when I had to be helicoptered into Met Stadium in Bloomington because of floods in the area.  Wound up pitching nine innings against the Yankees, a game we won in 10 innings, 5-4.”

For other Alumni memories of opening day, check out www.phillies.com/alumni.

Week of the Pirates

Well, spring training is finally winding down and it is back to normal routines for the organization. 

Final exhibition game, or pre-season game according to NLF propaganda, is tonight against the Pirates at Citizens Bank Park.  Assume the Pirates will fly home after the game.  Phillies have a 1 p.m. charter to Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon and will work out at PNC Park later in the day.

Opening day is Thursday afternoon (more about openers tomorrow).  The week of the Pirates ends with games Saturday and Sunday and then the Citizens Bank Park opener next Monday (Marlins). 

Meanwhile back in Clearwater, it is quiet.  The Threshers staff had a day off on Monday after working non-stop during the Grapefruit League schedule.

Lehigh Valley and Reading rosters are back home.  Matter of fact, they are playing each other tonight in Reading. Lakewood is playing Clearwater this evening at Bright House Field.  Lakewood leaves tomorrow for Greenville, SC, and the start of the South Atlantic League on Thursday.  All teams start on Thursday.

Some 50 young prospects remain at the Carpenter Complex in what is called extended spring training.  Those players have had some days off. They resume workouts on Thursday and then games against other minor league camps on Monday.  Many of the players will be assigned to the Gulf Coast League Phillies, who begin their season on June 19.

Marti Wolever and his scouting staff are in full force prepping for the June draft in which the Phillies have four selections in the first 100.  Pro scouts have left their spring training assignments and are now following teams according to a schedule drafted by Mike Ondo.  Ruben continues his weekly conference call with the pro scouts on Wednesday, trying to pick up ideas for additions to the big club.  Pat Gillick is returning to his favorite role, scouting.  He’ll see amateur players working under Woleover’s guidance.

Back in Philly again, Red Week is coming to an end and plans for the season opener are in full force.  Kurt Funk and his staff are working on big plans for the opener.  It will be another festive start to the home season (more on that in Friday’s blog). Boat House Row in which every building is outlined in lights, will turn those lights into red for Thursday and Monday.  Cira Centre will have a large Phillies “P” illuminated.

Opening Day Memories
Dallas Green (RHP, 1960-64; 1967; MGR 1979-81)
“You never forget that first one when you are introduced pre-game.  But, there are two that are special in my memory bank: my first opener as the Phillies manager in 1980 and then receiving our World Series rings the following year.”

For more Alumni memories, check out www.phillies.com/alumni.

Farewell Florida

Throughout the last month and a half, memories of spring training from current players and heroes of the past were posted here and well as what was happening behind the scenes. 

Spring training, the magical time of a baseball calendar, has ended, creating more memories in the bank. 

Toss out the spring stats, store the sunscreen lotion, unpack the spring sweaters, say good-bye to grouper burgers and reintroduce yourself to cheesesteaks.

As the late Harry Kalas would say, spring training is “outta here!”

Leftover thoughts from the Phillies 66th consecutive year in Clearwater:

Final Record
21 wins a year ago were followed by 12 this year.  Now, every NL team is 0-0.  Numbers from here on are for real.  So, don’t jump off the bandwagon.

Most Consistent
The weather.  For the second straight spring, endless days of sunshine and warm temps.  For the second straight final Bright House Field game, there was some rain.

Most Unusual Sight
Following Saturday’s 37-minute rain delay, the largest number of birds on the playing field weren’t Blue Jays but seagulls.  At one point, 10-9.  Defensively: three seagulls in front of the third baseman and seven in left center.  Batter must have been a righthanded pull hitter.   

Impressive Rookie
LH reliever Jacob Diekman raised some eyebrows but Freddy Galvis gets the nod, especially since he moved from short to second, a new position.  In 1964, Dick Allen, a rookie, made the move from the outfield to third base over at Jack Russell Stadium.

Hardest Worker
Doc Halladay always gets the nod.  But, a veteran who hadn’t played in the field for years deserves some kudos.  He spent endless hours eagerly and diligently working on his defense.  Say hello to Jim Thome.

Clubhouse Class Act
Tied.  Thome and Juan Pierre.  Both bring a ton of professionalism to a clubhouse.  These two vets really have fit in and are a class act.

Oldest Act
Media that keeps writing about Cole Hamels’ contract status.  Does he have to answer that same question after every start?

Biggest Surprise
Galvis by a nose.  Heck, he led the club with 13 RBI.  A close second was Hector Luna, a little known non-roster player, who led with three homers.  Is Hector shades of Chris Coste? 

Biggest Disappointment
Not seeing Chase Utley on the field. Of all the people most disappointed, Chase has to be #1.

Worst News
The numerous minor leaguers who were told their days with the Phillies were over. 

Best Sign
Hanging from the ceiling in JD’s Restaurant on Indian Rocks Beach:
“Wanted, sine makur.  Must bee able to spelle and bee creativ. If interestet, sea managur.”

Runner-Up Sign
Village Inn, a favorite for breakfast:  “If you want breakfast in bed, sleep in the kitchen.”

Farewell to Florida.  Now 162 games. How well will the Phillies fare? 

As always, time will tell.

Baseball America says the Phillies will defeat the Rays in the World Series.    ESPN The Magazine, has the same two teams in the WS but is predicting the Rays.  Jim Bowden, ESPN.com baseball columnist, says the Phillies won’t make the playoffs.

As always, time will tell.

 

 

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