September 2012

Farewell Home Season

Ruf’s bases-clearing double in the first inning staked the Phillies to a 3-1 lead but that’s all the sound the offense made the rest of the night as the Nationals inched closer to taking the NL East title away from the Phillies who have owned it since 2007.

Riding three home runs, Washington ended the Phillies 11-year string of playing .500 or better at home as they finished 40-41.  Last losing season at home was 2000.

The Phillies lost back-to-back series for the first time since the last two series right before the All-Star Game.  They battled back into wildcard contention but one more loss or one more St. Louis win ends that faint hope.

J-Roll was the last batter, ending the home season with a pop up at 10:20 p.m.  He jogged to first, made a right turn into the Phillies dugout and headed for the clubhouse with the rest of his teammates.

Washington was high-fiving on the field, which is certainly an improvement from the previous year’s last games at Citizens Bank Park, postseason losses to the Cardinals in 2011 and Giants in 2010.  Worse than last year’s loss was the sight of Howard on the field in pain from a torn Achilles.  While the Phillies had a ton of injuries this season, the good news is no one got hurt on the final home game.

While the fans were heading home, the Phillies headed for a Delta charter flight for Miami.  Three games there and then three in DC ends the season.  The Nationals headed for St. Louis for the weekend.

The season’s 62nd sellout pushed the season total to 3,565,718, fourth highest in team history.  It was Fan Appreciation Night and prizes were given out all night long.  Probably the most valuable prize was a gift card for gas from Sunoco.

The big crowd had dwindled, leaving a small number to see the end.  The faithful filed out slowly out after the last out.  A few lingered and took photos with their iPhones.  Ushers and usherettes hugged.  The ballgirls hung out in front of the Phillies dugout.  Their season was over, too, but they didn’t want to leave.

The ground crew worked on the field and covered the mound and home plate with tarps, a post-game ritual.  There’s no game until next April but there’s a wedding on the field Saturday.

Here Comes The Bride is replacing Take Me Out To the Ball Game.

KK Has Rough Outing

Since the All-Star Game break, the Phillies are 41-27.  KK and the bullpen have been keys to that turn around.

Each struggled Wednesday night.  Of KK’s first 22 pitches, three landed in the seats, a 5-0 Washington lead after two innings.  It is the most runs he’s allowed since six vs. Atlanta on August 8.  In his next eight starts, 6-2, allowing a total of 13 runs. Seven times he’s given up five or more runs and he’s 0-7 in those starts.

BJ, first of four relievers, did a great job, three scoreless innings and his first hit, which produced the Phillies second run.

The Phillies battled back and trailed, 5-4, going into the ninth.  The fourth run came on a homer by J-Roll, which broke an 0-19 dry spell. The Nationals posted another crooked number on the board (three), ending a string of 10 scoreless innings by the pen during which they allowed two hits.

At the break, the Phillies bullpen ranked 15th in the NL in ERA (4.76).  Since then, fourth (2.94).

Despite the loss, the Phillies will have a winning September for the ninth straight season which means a lot of meaningful games have been played in the final full month.

Final home game is Thursday and a Phillies tradition will take place, Fan Appreciation Night.

Phlashback

September 27, 1977: RHP Larry Christenson wins his 18th game and drives in five runs as the Phillies capture their second NL East title, 15-9, over Chicago at Wrigley Field, their 101st win for the second straight year.

Remember, www.phillies.com/alumni has more phlashback moments and other Alumni news, notes and photos.

 

 

 

Silent Treatment

In three of their five postseason berths, the Phillies clinched against the Nationals, twice at Citizens Bank Park (2007-08) and the other in DC (2010).

Washington came to town with a magic number of five.  With the Phillies win on Tuesday night, the Nationals cannot clinch on Citizens Bank Park’s field.  The two teams end the season with another three-game series starting on Monday night in Nationals Park so Washington could still return the favor.  Chances are, they’ll clinch before then.

For only the third time this season, Cole didn’t pitch six innings but he still won, his career-high 16th.  He gave up three runs in five innings and then the bullpen tossed four, one-hit shutout innings.

Remembering His First

Ruf will certainly remember his first home run.  Upon getting back into the dugout, he received a total silent treatment from his teammates until the inning ended and then was mobbed.  Getting back to his position in left field, he received a standing-O.  The rookie waived and then tipped his cap.  Good move.  Wish more players did that.

He’s the 20th player in Phillies history who’s first hit was a home run.  The last one was Mayberry in Yankee Stadium in 2009.  The first was a pitcher, Bill Duggleby, in 1898.

Ruf also became the 24th different Phillies player to homer, breaking the 1996 mark of 23.

Awards

The Philadelphia Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America will present their four annual awards pre-game on Wednesday: **Steve Carlton Most Valuable Pitcher—Cole. **Mike Schmidt Most Valuable Player—Chooch. **Dallas Green Special Achievement—J-Roll. **Tug McGraw True Pro—Pierre.

Writers first presented the awards in 2004.

Lefty

Forty years ago, Lefty Steve Carlton turned in a spectacular season for the Phillies, winning 27 games and winning his first Cy Young Award.

MLB.com’s Hal Bodley has an in depth feature on Lefty at www.phillies.com/alumni.  Check it out.

Phlashback

September 26, 1954: CF Richie Ashburn finishes the season by playing in his 730th straight game, a Phillies all-time record that still stands. The streak began June 7, 1950 and ended when Ashburn failed to make the 1955 opener after getting injured in a collision with LF Del Ennis during a spring training exhibition game in Wilmington, DE.

September 26, 1976, 1st game: After watching a lead of 15 ½ games on August 24, 1976, slip to three games in three weeks, the Phillies clinch their first post-season title in 26 years, 4-1 over the Expos in Jarry Park, the final day for the Montreal park.

September 26, 1998, 2nd game: RHP Curt Schilling strikes out seven Florida batters in his final start to finish with 300 strikeouts, only the fifth big league pitcher with 300 or strikeouts in back-to-back seasons.

 

Three More Home Games

Hard to believe, but we’re down to the final three home games of the regular season.  And, it might well be the final three home games period.

The first-place Nationals, battling with the Reds for the best record in the NL and a home field advantage, play the Phillies in the three games, all at 7:05 p.m.  It starts tonight.

Wednesday’s game will also be televised on the MLB Network.

Phillies have a 7-5 edge on the Nationals, including 4-2 at Citizens Bank Park.  Two teams end the season next week in DC.

Washington has the stingiest ERA in the league, 3.27 and lowest batting average against, .236. (Phillies are hitting .237 vs. them).  They also lead the majors in run differential, having out-scored their opponents by 142 runs.

Phillies continue to lead the majors in attendance, one of four NL teams over 3 million.

Injury Front

SS Freddy Galvis will spend some time at the FIL and then play winter ball in his home country, Venezuela.

RHR Michael Stutes is throwing and should be ready for spring training.

RHS Vance Worley had surgery to remove a bone spur and chips from his right elbow, has begun rehab and should also be ready for spring training.

RHR Dave Herndon is recuperating from Tommy John surgery and won’t be ready for spring training.

AFL

Two weeks from today the Arizona Fall League begins play.  That season ends November 15.

Dusty Wathan, who managed the Reading Phillies, will pilot the Peoria club that will include seven Phillies prospects: **Relief pitchers Jay Johnson, Tyler Knigge, Colby Shreve, Kyle Simon. **Catcher Tommy Joseph. **Third baseman Cody Ashe. **Outfielder Zach Collier.

Phillies will scout every game in the AFL.

Phlashback

September 25, 1955: CF Richie Ashburn is hitless in seven at-bats in a season-ending doubleheader in the Polo Grounds but easily wins his first batting title (.338).

Check out www.phillies.com/alumni for more phlashback moments.

 

1 Hour Changes Phils Fortunes

In the period of about one hour late on Saturday afternoon, the Phillies postseason fortunes took a turn for the worst.

Fresh from their eighth straight home win on Friday night, Doc was taking the mound on Saturday.  Out in Chicago, the Cardinals were losing going into the top of the ninth.  Another StL loss and Phillies win would cut the wildcard margin to 2 games.

During that hour, the Cardinals tied the game in the ninth and won it in the 10th.  The Braves drove Doc from the game with seven runs in the first two innings.  Atlanta pitching handed the Phillies back-to-back losses by limiting Phillies bats to five hits and three runs, one of which was unearned.

Cliff was outstanding again on Sunday and once again received no run support.  He has pitched six or more innings and has not issued more than one walk in 15 consecutive startss, a modern major league record.  But, he wound up with an L.

Nine games remain, including the final three home games that start on Tuesday night against the Nationals, the team with league’s best record.  Meanwhile, the Cardinals visit Houston for three games. There’s still hope but it is slim.

While there is no game today, the wheels of motion for offseason player moves are starting to turn.  Ruben, his staff and the pro scouts are meeting to review reports and  options for third base, the outfield and bullpen for 2013.  It will be an interesting offseason for the Phillies.

LA Scouting Report

Bill Harper, an 86-year-old scout who has been in the game for over 50 years, received the Dallas Green Scouting Award pre-game on Sunday.  Scouts are unsung heroes the game.

Harper began scouting the northwest part of the country in 1970.  Larry Andersen lived in that part of the country.  Did Harper remember scouting LA?

“I remember him but don’t quite know how high I rated him.  That was a long time ago.  I do remember going to a game to see him pitch and he’s playing first base.  After the game, I asked him when he was pitching again and he said, ‘tomorrow night.”  I showed up and this time he was playing third base.  I did see him later that spring but don’t remember too many specifics.”

LA was drafted by the Indians in the seventh round in 1971.  In checking the Phillies first seven selections that June, only one really made it.  The second rounder, a shortstop out of Ohio University, Michael Jack Schmidt.

Aren’t you glad the Phillies didn’t draft LA in the second round instead of Schmidt?

New Alumni Feature

60 years ago Robin Roberts did something that will never be matched in today’s game….he pitched a complete game, all 17 innings.

Check out the story at www.phillies.com/alumni.

Phlashback

September 24, 1911: St. Louis scores in the sixth inning to break rookie RHP Grover Cleveland Alexander’s 41 consecutive scoreless innings streak, a Phillies record that hasn’t been broken.

Cliff has come the closest, 34 innings last season.  Next on the list is 32.2 consecutive scoreless innings.  That belongs to LA in 1984, the longest streak for a reliever.

Historic Explosion

Tyler Cloyd finished his pre-game warm-up, walked to the dugout and sat and sat and sat.  When he finally got into Thursday’s game, it was as a hitter with the bases loaded.  He grounded into a double-play to record the first two outs of the game.

The Phillies batted around (13 batters) in that first inning (eight runs) and again (11 batters) in the ninth (seven runs) in coasting to a 16-1 win over the Mets.  From Elias:  Phillies are the first team in major league history to score seven or more runs in the first and ninth innings.

The Phillies finished with  21 hits, 19 singles.

Often times when given a big lead, a pitcher will struggle.  Cloyd didn’t.  He worked eight economical innings and gave up three hits.  He threw only 88 pitches, 64 for strikes.

After the game, the Phillies boarded three busses for a trip home and their final home stand of the regular season, three each with the Braves and Nationals.  Yes, they are still in the wildcard hunt but the odds are very slim.

Awards Weekend

Friday:

Paul Owens Award presented to Tyler Cloyd and Darin Ruf. Award given annually since 1986 to the best pitcher and position player in the Phillies minor league system.

Richie Ashburn Award, started in 1998, will be presented to Rob Holiday, Assistant Director, Scouting.  Award given to a member of the Phillies who has demonstrated the same loyalty, dedication and passion for the game as Ashburn.

Saturday:

Phillies Community Service Award.  For the major league Phillies, J-Roll is the recipient.  For the minor leagues, RHP Colin Kleven.  Kleven accumulated 12 hours of service while pitching for Lakewood.

Sunday:

Roberto Clemente Award for Phillies will go to J-Roll.  Each big league team selects a player who excels in community relations efforts.  All 30 are in the running for the overall Award.  Winner will be announced during the World Series. Fans can vote at www.MLB.com/Clemente/Award.

Dallas Green Award will be presented to 86-year-old Bill Harper, who scouted for the Phillies for 42 years and is still helping in that end of the game.  The Award, instituted in 2011, is given to the amateur or pro scout who best exemplifies the Phillies standard for scouting while demonstrating the same loyalty, work ethic, dedication and passion as Green.  It also recognizes the scout’s ability to judge not only a player’s talent but also his character and heart.  Among the players Harper signed are Ryne Sandberg and Larry Christenson.

Pro Scouts Meeting

Every Wednesday, starting in spring training, Ruben and his staff conduct a conference call with the Phillies scouts who follow pro teams, be it the majors or minors.

Starting Friday, they are together for meetings at Citizens Bank Park. It is a chance to sit down face-to-face to review reports, assess the Phillies needs going forward. The scouts will also get to see their own players for five games.

The group includes Pat Gillick, Dallas Green, Ed Wade, Charley Kerfeld, Gordon Lakey, Howie Freiling, Dave Hollins, Sonny Bowers, Dean Jongewaard, Jesse Levis, Jon Mercurio, Roy Tanner, Del Unser and Dan Wright.  Mike Ondo is the Director of Professional Scouting.

Phlashback

September 21, 1911: RHP Grover Cleveland Alexander hurls his fourth straight shutout at Chicago.  Others were September 7 (at Braves), 13 (Dodgers) and 17 (at Reds).

September 21, 1964: Holding a 6 1/2-game lead with 12 games left in the season, the Phillies lose, 1-0, to Cincinnati as Chico Ruiz steals home with Frank Robinson at bat. The defeat launches a disastrous 10-game losing streak during which the Phillies fall out of first place.  Phillies drew 1,425,891, their largest attendance ever.

September 23, 1916: RHP Grover Cleveland Alexander pitches 7-3 and 4-0 complete-game wins over Cincinnati at Baker Bowl and ties a major league record by walking only one batter. Almost a year later (September 3) he does it again, 5-0 and 9-3, at Brooklyn, allowing one walk.

September 23, 1983: A 6-2, 12-strikeout victory at St. Louis gives LHP Steve Carlton his 300th career win, the 16th pitcher in baseball history to reach that milestone.

For more Phlashback moments, visit www.phillies.com/alumni.

 

Drought Ends Dramatically

What a time to bust one.

Homerless in September and scuffling at the plate, Howard delivered a two-out, two-run, game-winning blast in the top of the ninth inning to turn a sure defeat into a one-run win on Wednesday night, a night in which the Phillies had three runs and three hits.

From Elias: Howard had been hitless in his previous 19 at-bats against left-handed pitchers, the longest such drought within one season of his major-league career.  He also snapped the longest home run drought of his major league career.  Howard had not homered in his previous 67 at-bats prior to his ninth-inning blast.

J-Roll started the game with another home run (fourth pitch) and the Phillies didn’t get another hit until Mayberry’s one-out single in the eighth.  Chase had a great at-bat and worked a walk. Howard hit the second pitch off the facing of the upper deck.

Horst got an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the eighth to keep it at 2-1 for New York.

The lead-off homer was the sixth for J-Roll this season.  Club record is nine in 2007 by you know who.  Six is now second best.  Next on the list is five by you know who.  At one time the club record was four by Juan Samuel (1989) and matched by Lenny Dykstra (1993).  J-Roll joined that party of four three times.

It was his seventh homer this month.  Club record for September is 11, Howard in 2007 and 2008.

Clemente Award

J-Roll is the Phillies nomination for the annual Roberto Clemente Award.  He will be recognized pre-game on Sunday.

Winner will be announced during the World Series. Fans can vote at www.MLB.com/Clemente/Award.

Two Phillies have won the award, Greg Luzinski in 1978 and Garry Maddox in 1986.

Chipper’s Last Visit

Braves 3B Chipper Jones makes his final Philly visit this weekend.  Phillies will present him with a gift pre-game on Friday.  J-Roll and Chase will make the presentation.

Chipper will be a sure-bet first-ballot Hall of Famer some day.

Who’s Gavvy?

Check out www.phillies.com/alumni for the Past Profile feature.

 

Who’s On 3rd?

Mother Nature stopped the pennant and wildcard races in New York and Washington on Tuesday.  For the Phillies, it means Cole will pitch on Wednesday night and Cloyd will start the rescheduled game on Thursday night.

Phillies then head home for the final six regular season games at Citizens Bank Park.  It starts on Friday night against the Braves and ends on September 27 against the Nationals.

Who’s On Third?

Abbott and Costello did a comedy routine a long time ago, Who’s On First?  For the Phillies we know Howard is there and will be for a few more years.

But, third base is up in the air.

Fransden has done a nice job and gets consideration for next season. Polly’s battled injuries and may become a free agent.  Cody Asche may be the long-term answer but he probably needs more development time in the minors.  Freddy Galvis?

Then, there’s Chase, whose current contract expires after the 2013 season. He played third at Scranton 10 years ago and struggled, although he did improve as the season progressed (14 errors in first 25 games; five in last 41).

The free agent market on third basemen is pretty thin.  Here’s a list that is posted on MLBTradeRumors.com: (player age).  Some have club options and thus may not become a free agents.

Miguel Cairo (39) . . . Eric Chavez (35) . . .  Mark DeRosa (38) . . .  Brandon Inge (36) Maicer Izturis (32) . . . Jose Lopez (29) . . . Mark Reynolds (29) – $11MM club option with a $500K buyout . . .  Scott Rolen (38) . . .  David Wright (30) – $16MM club option with a $1MM buyout . . .  Kevin Youkilis (34) – $13MM club option with a $1MM buyout

Another option is a trade.  Those that have a good, productive third baseman, won’t want to part with them.

So, internal may be the best approach for the Phillies.  Stay tuned.

Phillies WS Starter in 1950?

Visit www.phillies.com/alumni

 

 

Broadway Show: J-Roll, Lee

J-Roll and Cliff are stepping up as the Phillies cling to postseason hopes.

Cliff is 4-0 in his last 5 starts after winning on Monday night.  He is really on his game, pounding the strike zone.  Of 111 pitches, 32 were balls.  In last 70.2 innings, he’s walked four.

From Elias: Cliff has pitched at least six innings and not issued more than one walk in each of his last 14 starts, including Monday, when he walked one batter in eight innings against the Mets. That ties Lee for the longest single-season streak of that kind in modern (since 1900) major-league history. Christy Mathewson (1908) and Greg Maddux (1997) also made 14 straight starts in which they went six or more innings and didn’t walk more than one batter.

J-Roll has hit safely in 20 of his last 22 games and reached base in 21.  The streak includes six homers, 11 RBI and 13 runs.  He’s going to be the first shortstop to lead the Phillies in homers and RBI in a season.  On top of his offense, he has the highest fielding percentage among NL shortstops.  Folks, we’re witnessing one of the greatest players in Phillies history.

Comment Corner

A point was made by George that the Phillies need to do something about Howard’s fielding skills.

Yes, he’s struggling in the field, especially scooping balls in the dirt.  Not sure his fielding has been responsible for three losses, though.

Not being a doctor, athletic trainer, physical therapist or a spokesman for the team, he doesn’t appear to be moving well.  That’s just me.  His left leg has gone through a bad ankle sprain (2010) and the Achilles tear (2011).  He had no spring training, missed the first 62 games and is trying to catch up to the speed of the big leagues.

At bat, he’s currently struggling, too. Yet he leads the club with six RBI on this trip of five games so far.  Past Septembers have been his month.  But, this is a different September and season as we all know.

Down On The Farm

Baseball America has released its postseason All-Star teams:

**Minor League Team: second team, 1B Darin Ruf and LHP Adam Morgan.

**AA Team: DH Ruf.

**High A Team: Morgan.

**Short Season Team: SS Roman Quinn.

Phlashback

September 18, 1903, 2nd game: RHP Chick Fraser throws the Phillies first no-hitter of the century, 10-0, at Chicago. For loser RHP George (Peaches) Graham, it is his only big league appearance.

September 18, 1952: RHP Robin Roberts defeats the New York Giants, 7-4, at the Polo Grounds improving his record to 28-7, most victories in the majors since 1935.  “Robbie” led the NL in complete games (30) and innings pitched (330), but finished second in the MVP voting to OF Hank Sauer, 37 homers, 121 RBI for the fifth-place Chicago Cubs, who finished 10 games behind the Phillies.

September 18, 1963: LHP Chris Short (8-11) wins the final game played at Polo Grounds, a 5-1 complete game.  New York Giants RF Jim Hickman hits the last home run.  Attendance is 1,752.

September 18, 1971: RHP Rick Wise sets a club record by retiring 32 consecutive batters in a 4-3, 12-inning complete game win over Chicago at the Vet.  Wise wins own game with a single.  His line: 12 innings, 5 hits, 3 runs, 2 earned, 0 walks, 10 strikeouts.

September 18, 1993: 2B Mariano Duncan belts his second grand slam homer of the season as the Phillies clinch the NL East crown with a 10-7 victory at Pittsburgh.  Slam is the Phillies eighth, a new club record for a single season.

www.phillies.com/alumni for Alumni news, notes, features and photos.

 

Good Riddance

After 50 years in the NL, the Astros are moving to the AL next year.  What this means is the Phillies won’t be visiting Minute Maid Park every year.  Good riddance.

The Astros staved off 100 losses by taking three of four from the Phillies there over the weekend.  Since the new park opened in 2000, the Phillies are just 18-26. The Phillies won the first game in that park (then called Enron Field) but only 17 in the next 11 years.  They were swept four times.

The weekend put a severe dent into the Phillies hopes of sneaking in as the second wild card.  A 13-game span against teams with a losing record started off 3-0.  Now, it is 4-3, with the Mets next in NY for three starting on Monday night against their best pitcher.

Too often this season, a late-game bullpen meltdown and inconsistent offense haunted the Phillies, who scored 12 runs on 16 hits in winning Friday and then had just six runs the next two days.  They lost to a rookie lefty on Saturday, his second win in 13 starts and the first time he didn’t allow a run.

Thursday the meltdown came in the eighth inning, Sunday the seventh.  In the three losses, Phillies hitters were 5-31 RISP.  They left 31 on base.

The Astros have been outscored by 206 runs but out-homered the Phillies, 6-2.

Fifteen games remain.  The Phillies can ill afford many more losses.  Meanwhile, the Cardinals next nine games are against the Astros (six) and Cubs (three).  But, we can’t worry about other teams.

MLB Roundup

There were 15 games played in the majors on Sunday.  That’s 30 starting pitchers.  Not one pitched a complete game.

On the other hand, a total of 126 relief pitchers were used.  The longest outing?  2.1 innings.

Instructional League

Players ranging from 16 years of age to 25 are among the 52 minor leaguers who’ll participate in the Florida Instructional League program in Clearwater, FL.  First workout is Tuesday at Carpenter Field.

Four prize left-handed pitchers will receive individual instructions from September 24-28, Adam Morgan, Austin Wright, Jesse Biddle and Ethan Stewart.  None will participate in games. Schedule begins September 24 and for the Phillies, ends October 12.  Game times: 1:00 p.m. unless otherwise noted; Saturdays at 10:00 a.m.  No games on Sundays.

Phillies players will dress and work out at Carpenter Field. Games will be played at Bright House Field.   There is no admission charge.

Phlashback

September 17, 1900: Cincinnati SS Tommy Corcoran, coaching at third in a game at Philadelphia, uncovers a wire in the coaching box that leads across the outfield to the Phillies clubhouse, where reserve catcher Morgan Murphy reads the opposing catcher’s signs and relays them to the Phillies coach by using a buzzer hidden in the dirt.

September 17, 2001: Baseball returns after the September 11 terrorist attacks. 3B Scott Rolen rips two home runs to lead the Phillies past Atlanta, 5-2.  Rolen becomes just the fifth player to hit two home runs in a game off RHP Greg Maddux.

For more phlashback moments, visit www.phillies.com/alumni.

 

 

 

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