Offense Lacked Consistency


When raising children, you love them but at times you want to spank them. It seems the same can be said of the Phillies position players, the third youngest group in the majors this past season.

In terms of major league experience, very young when you consider the core of Odubel Herrera, Cameron Rupp, Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco were basically in their second year of playing every day. Then there’s Tommy Joseph who came out of nowhere. Of this group, Rupp, at age 27, assumes the title as a grizzled veteran.

Flashes of potential and flashes of frustration summarized the offense. Six different Phillies hit 15 or more home runs but six struck out over 100 times.

Their inexperience often showed at the plate with pitch recognition, pitch selection, working the count, moving base runners and making contact with runners in scoring position. Base running at times was puzzling with numerous mental mistakes.

The final numbers showed the Phillies were last in the league in runs scored, doubles, walks, OPS, total bases, sacrifice flies and were second from the bottom in average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Bleak but not hopeless.

The Core
Galvis’ 20 homers doubled his big league total. In addition his offensive numbers were up in doubles, RBI and stolen bases. His walks went down, strikeouts up and OBP was low. Seems to me people complained that Jimmy Rollins didn’t reach base enough and hit too many balls in the air early in his career. Now that Ryan Howard is no longer around, the clubhouse belongs to Galvis as he’s the longest tenured Phillie with five years of service time.

Freddy really excelled in the field. He played Gold Glove shortstop. A year ago he had 17 errors, this year eight in 1,350 innings. It is the fewest errors he’s had in a full season in pro ball.

He always sparkled with his glove in the minors. Love this photo from Dave Schofield when Freddy was playing in Lakewood in 2008.

Galvis and his double-play partner, Hernandez, were signed on the same day by the Phillies, July 2, ten years ago. Hitting just .248 on June 20, Cesar sat for three days and returned with a 4-for-4 night in Minnesota. From then on, the 26-year-old turned into the consummate lead-off hitter, bunting, walking, base hits, working the count. Led the league in infield hits (34) and bunt base hits (15) and tied for the most triples (11). Granted his speed didn’t relate as a base runner, 17 steals, 13 caught. Much better the year before, 19 out of 24.

Consistency is the key to becoming a solid major league ballplayer. Franco has shown amazing power but also spells of swinging wildly. In early July, homers in four straight games. Then none from August 19-September 21. He ended the first half with 18 HR, 52 RBI and a .269 average. Second half, 7/36/.238. The 24-year-old has played a season and a-half in the majors, 39 homers, 138 RBI. Keep in mind: 18 home runs, 52 RBI, .196 average, 23-year-old Mike Schmdt’s first season in the majors.

Herrera impressed as a rookie a year ago with his hitting ability. Worked on becoming more disciplined at the plate and it worked for half a season. First three months, 42 walks, 59 strikeouts. Last three, 21/75. Before the All-Star Game, .294; after, .277. Another 24-year-old who needs a more consistent approach at the plate and defensively in centerfield.

Rupp showed decent power and a strong arm a year ago. This year, more power but not as efficient in throwing out base stealers. Among NL catchers he finished third with 16 home runs and a .453 slugging percentage. Concerns with his game calling? Heard the same thing about Bob Boone, Darren Daulton, Mike Lieberthal and Carlos Ruiz as young, inexperienced catchers. Cameron has unbelievable power straight away and to right field as demonstrated in his two-year home run log in, 9 to right, 8 to center and only 3 to dead left.

Joseph, 25, had to change positions from catcher to first base because of multiple concussions behind the plate. He re-signed with the Phillies last winter after no one else showed interest. Hitting .347 with six homers in 27 games at Lehigh Valley, the Phillies brought him up in need of more power. Finished with 21 home runs, the most by a Phillies rookie in 45 seasons. The Phillies are the only team ever to have two first basemen with 20 or more home runs.

Next Wave
The Phillies will be looking to add some more offense this off-season. Most logical area is the outfield. After Herrera’s 15 home runs, Peter Bourjos was next with five.
More offense can be obtained by a trade or free agency and it could come from within as the core matures at the plate.

It could also come from the minors at some point next season, the likes of OF Roman Quinn, SS J.P. Crawford, OF Nick Williams, C Andrew Knapp, C Jorge Alfaro, 2B Scott Kingery, RF Dylan Cozens, OF Andrew Pullin and 1B Rhys Hoskins.

Building a winning team takes time and patience.

Uniforms Headed For Long Winter’s Nap

Walk in the Phillies clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park and you’ll find a rather empty room. Oh, piled on a table in the middle are Phillies uniforms. Instead of hanging in lockers, they are folded ready for a long winter’s nap.

Name plates are still above the lockers, except one, 6 Ryan Howard. It is probably on display in his trophy room.

One player was still packing a box with his belongings Wednesday morning, rookie Zach Eflin. He recently underwent surgery on his left knee and was wearing a full-length immobilizer on that leg. Same surgery on his right knee came first. He’s expected to be fully recovered in time for spring training in mid-February.

Most other players have already departed Philadelphia. Under Major League Baseball rules each team is required to provide a check for one first-class airfare to the player’s home. The money can be used to fly or drive. Boats or hiking are probably out of the question.

Come Clearwater one can expect to see the same uniform jersey numbers. However, many names on the back will be different as new faces will help fill the Bright House Field clubhouse.

Reviewing 2016
The Phillies’ Communications Department provides 10 pages of GAME INFORMATION, oodles of notes and numbers for every game. Yep, all 162 games. Same for the other 29 teams. In addition, the MLB Information System provides every press box with a statistical package, 52 total pages. There are more numbers than one can digest. Only thing missing are players batting averages when there’s a full moon. Not true but you get the point.

In looking over the Phillies final GAME INFORMATION, two numbers stand out among the many: When the Phillies scored four or more runs, they were 57-26. Three or less, 14-65. Now I’m not a sabermetric genius but those numbers tell me the Phillies had solid pitching and not much offense.

GM Matt Klentak’s goal a year ago was to improve the outfield defense and accumulate pitching depth. The basis: pitching and defense keep you in the game. Also, you can never have enough pitching.

Overall, the Phillies were a young team. The 37-player September roster averaged 26.9 years of age. Seven were 30 or older and most of that group won’t return.

The average age of the pitching staff was 25.3. Matt Gelb of had an interesting note after the season: the Phillies started a pitcher 27 or younger in 124 of their 162 games. That number would have been even higher when you consider Aaron Nola, 23, didn’t start after July 28 (elbow injury), Zach Eflin, 22, saw his season end on August 8 (knee injuries) and Vincent Velasquez, 24, didn’t start after September 3 because of a season innings limit.

Youth can mean excitement and despair, spurts and lulls, high-fives and head scratching. It was all there this season. Offensively, defensively and on the mound.

Now Pitching….

Jerad Eickhoff and Jeremy Hellickson were the most consistent starters and the only two in the rotation all season long. Eickhoff developed into a workhorse in his first full big league season. He finished 11-14 with a club-low 3.65 and club-high 197.1 innings. Greater run support could have easily flip-flopped his record. Hellickson was the consummate pro who demonstrated throwing strikes and changing speeds are the keys to getting outs. He was a steadying influence for the young staff.

Who’s the closer? That was an unanswered question at the start of the season. Losing the first four because the bullpen imploded forced Pete Mackanin to stick Jeanmar Gomez on the mound April 9 in New York trying to protect a 1-0 lead. He did and the Phillies had their first win.

Gomez carried the team, saving 30 of his team’s 56 wins through August 14. With rookie Edubray Ramos in the 7th, Hector Neris in the 9th and Gomez, the Phillies had a stable back of the pen. On August 14, the pen was 18-17, 4.25 with 35 saves in 44 opportunities.

Gomez began to struggle and it snowballed. After August 14, the pen went 4-11, 7 saves, 18 blown saves and a 5.01 ERA. The Phillies limped to the season’s end.

Pitching is controlling the strike zone with your fast ball. The young starters lacked consistency in establishing their fast ball, in putting batters away early which turned into high pitch counts which turned into too many five and six-inning outings. As a result the bullpen was used often. It caught up with them in the last six-seven weeks.

In 2015, the Phillies had 14 different pitchers make starts. Included were Aaron Harang (29), Jerome Williams (21), Sean O’Sullivan (13), Chad Billingsley (7), Kevin Correia (5) and Phillippe Aumont (1). That’s 76 total starts. Yikes.

Hellickson can become a free agent and could leave. But Eickhoff, Velasquez, Aaron Nola, Adam Morgan, Jake Thompson, Eflin and Alec Asher represent 118 starts. Nola and Eflin will be returning from injuries. Overall, the starting staff was an improvement over a year ago and a building block as this team grows.

Bullpen arms can be unstable from year to year but one would expect the return of Ramos, Neris and Gomez with specific roles to be determined. The closer? Probably to be determined. Neris has the strikeout stuff to be a closer, 102 in 80.1 innings. That’s the second highest strikeout total for a Phillies reliever ever. Dick Selma in 1970 struck out 153 but his innings total was 134.1

Adding pitching depth is on the bucket list of every team, the Phillies included. Where do you find arms? Trades, free agents, the Rule 5 draft and the farm system. Stay tuned.

(Tomorrow, a review of the offense and defense).

A Plethora of Ryan Howard Notes


Ryan Howard was a father-figure and respected giant on a very young team this season. He was the Phillies last player to be born in the 1970s (11/1979). That didn’t make him a senior citizen. It just seemed that way.

What follows is a plethora of notes from the career of Ryan James Howard, enough to fill a notepad.

Phillies Career Rankings
1st, grand slams, 15
2nd, home runs, 382
2nd, RBI, 1,194
3rd, extra-base hits, 680
5th, total bases, 2,940
5th, slugging percentage, .515
7th, games, 1,572
10th, doubles, 277

HR Numbers
Citizens Bank Park, 198, most for any Phillies player
First base, 370
Batting fourth, 303
Favorite inning, 6th, 59
Favorite count, 0-0, 64
Favorite enemy park, Turner Field, 52
When Phillies trailed, 148
Number of pitchers, 255
RH pitchers, 291
LH pitchers, 91
Different ballparks, 26
112 in 515 minor league games

Phillies were 230-122 (.653) when he homered.

First, Last HR
#1 9/11/04 vs. Mets, Bartolome Fortunato, Shea Stadium.
#382 10/2/16 vs. Mets, Bartolo Colon, Citizens Bank Park.

First, Last At-Bat
9/1/04, pinch-hitting for Vicente Padilla vs. Braves, 5th inning, struck out looking, 3-2 pitch from Jaret Wright, Citizens Bank Park. 35,031.

10/3/16, vs. Mets, 8th inning, popped to shortstop, 1st pitch from Jim Henderson, Citizens Bank Park. 36,935.

Scouting Report
Scouting Director Marti Wolever had seen Howard in two games in 2001 at Southwest Missouri State University, the year he was eligible for the draft. His May 29 report: “Large-framed, huge-bodied athlete, similar to Willie Mays Aikens. Low fast ball hitter with above average power from pole to pole. Above average bat speed. Average to slightly above average hands at first base. May have best raw power of 2001 draft. Better as a sophomore and USA last summer. Would gamble on power.”

A couple other scouts also felt he was better as a sophomore. “Draftitis” and putting pressure on himself with multiple scouts following him were the theories. When it came time for the draft, the Phillies picked him in the fifth round, the 140th player selected.

Musical Note
Ryan was a trombone player in the Lafayette High School band in Wildwood, MO.


Ryan Howard, Spring Training 2005

Ryan Howard, Spring Training 2005

Yep, when he made his major league debut as a 24-year-old in 2004, Ryan wore 12 as Doug Glanville was #6. Same for spring training the following year (Miles Kennedy photo). He switched to #6 when he was recalled from the minors in 2005 (May 3) as Glanville was no longer on the club.

Frank Coppenbarger is the Phillies Director of Team Travel and Clubhouse Services. He assigns the uniform numbers to players. As he has done with #11, 26, 35 and 51, 6 will be put in the freezer, as Franks likes to say. In other words, no one else will wear that number for a few years.

Last Link
During his career Ryan was the Big Piece on five division champions, two National League pennant-winners and a World Champion. He was the last link to that magic 2008 season.

Seniority in the clubhouse now rests with Freddy Galvis, who at 26 years of age has five years of wearing a Phillies uniform, the longest tenure. The torch has been passed.

Ryan Howard’s Legacy

2006 players have worn the Phillies uniform since the franchise was established in 1883. Some are in the Hall of Fame and the Phillies Wall of Fame, some had good careers, others were awful and a few had cup-of-coffee appearances of one game only.

The legacy of Ryan Howard is that he did some things no other Phillies can claim. A Rookie Of The Year followed by the Most Valuable Player. The Phillies have had several of each but not in back-to-back seasons (2005-2006).

2006, there’s that number again, was his best season. He became the only Phillies player to reach 50 home runs in a season and he did it in dramatic fashion, #50-51-52 in the same game at Citizens Bank Park. It was the only time he went deep three times in one game.

That season finished with 58 home runs, a mark that has been permanently marked with a bronze plaque in Section 145, row 7 at Citizens Bank Park. Mike Schmidt held the previous club record for the most home runs in one season, 48, in 1980.

Howard followed his 58 with seasons of 47, 48, 45. No Phillies hitter ever had four consecutive seasons of 40 or more home runs. Over his first five seasons, he averaged 44 homers. Again, unmatched by any Phillies slugger. Chuck Klein averaged 136 RBI his first five seasons; Howard is second, 127.

In those five seasons, he became the fastest player in baseball history to reach 100, 150 and 200 home runs.

He was the MVP in both the Florida State League (2003) and Eastern League (2004). His 2006 NL MVP was followed by finishing fifth, second, third, 10th and 10th in the voting over the next five seasons.

The Phillies had a lot talented players through those years and won a lot of games. Howard was the constant #4 hitter and big-time power bat, earning the nickname, The Big Piece, from manager Charlie Manuel.

The Cardinals eliminated the Phillies from postseason play in 2011. Howard was the last out in Game 5, October 7, at Citizens Bank Park. He struck out and crumbled to the ground just outside the batter’s box in pain. He tore his left Achilles tendon. Surgery five days later.

The big man was never the same after that. He worked, battled and grinded out at-bat after at-bat. He finished with 25 homers this year, the most since 33 in 2011.

Through it all he maintained even-keel despite struggles at the plate and in the field, personal issues, a media attack about taking PEDS and the lack of playing time. Tommy Joseph came out of nowhere this season and began to get more starts at first base. A major distraction was preached by the media. Howard and Pete Mackanin handled it with class eliminating any issues.

Said Joseph, “He never made me feel like he was the man on top and I was still trying to hunt him. That guy has done everything in this game, almost — MVP, Rookie of the Year, World Series champion. That guy just made me feel like we were on a level playing field, when in reality, we’re not. That guy is a special player and a special human.”


One more stand-alone statistic: most grand slams in Phillies history, 15. #14 was part of his 30th and final two-homer game, Friday night this August 12. Only fitting that Ryan (Miles Kennedy photo) would put on a show for his predecessor, Jim Thome, who was inducted into the Toyota Wall of Fame that night. Watching the game from a suite, Thome stood and cheered when Howard went deep with the bases loaded.

As big as Howard was in the middle of the lineup, he was that big off the field.

He actively supported PAL programs, donated tickets to PAL kids and was an active member of the Philadelphia Action team, a national youth volunteer initiative administered by the Major League Baseball Players Trust and Volunteers of America.
He donated money toward new baseball fields in North Philadelphia.

Along with his wife Krystle, the Ryan Howard Big Piece Foundation was formed in 2013. Its signature program is the Ryan Howard Reading Challenge, a K-3 literacy-based program to engage children in reading. A year ago the Howards released Little Rhino, a baseball-themed children’s book series.

On July 21 this summer, the Ryan Howard Training Center, a new 7,500 square-foot indoor baseball/softball facility was officially opened. The Training center is part of the Phillies MLB Youth Academy located in the Marion Andersen Recreation Center in South Philadelphia. The Howards made a significant monetary commitment to the Academy through their Foundation so that more than 8,000 RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) players can improve their skills year round. The RBI players will also have access to fitness training as well as educational and vocational programs.

A kid from St. Louis certainly has made a huge imprint in Philadelphia both on the baseball field and in the community.

Emotional Farewell Tribute

The end of the season often leaves two emotions. Relief following a losing season or ecstasy because the postseason playoffs follow. Yesterday was different, totally different.

Oh, the Phillies were finishing a losing season and there were plenty of prizes to be given away as is a tradition on Fan Appreciation Day. Yesterday the losing season didn’t matter. Ryan Howard Appreciation Day replaced Fan Appreciation Day. During the pre-game tribute honoring Howard, fans showed their appreciation with a long standing ovation and numerous applause interruptions while he stood by himself in front of the Phillies dugout with a microphone in his right hand. He expressed his appreciation for the fans.

During the long ovation before he spoke, his teammates in the dugout were applauding. The enemy Mets did the same, whether they were in the dugout or loosening up in the green left field grass.

A touching highlight video created by Dan Stephenson, the Phillies video genius, pumped everyone in the stands which resembled a sea of red with so many fans wearing the team’s colors. The video also touched Ryan. What really got him was the presentation of a bronze plaque placed in Section 145 (left-center) where his 58th home run landed in 2006. The person placing the plaque in the exact location was his 15-year-old son, Darian. Ryan told Scott Palmer afterwards, “When I saw Darian I knew the Phillies got me.” Oh, Ryan received a duplicate plaque from Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt, the two greatest home run hitters in Phillies history. That scene drew a loud ovation.

Throughout his off-the-cuff comments, he got emotional as did many others, choking back tears. Who said there is no crying in baseball? Kleenex facials tissues should have been the tribute sponsor.

Class is the best word to describe the tribute put on by the Phillies. Class also applies to Ryan. He’s always handled things with class.

Ryan had the honor of presenting his team’s lineup card at home plate, which triggered a photo of the four umps, Ryan and Mets manager Terry Collins.

Ryan was hitless in four at-bats during the game. It didn’t matter as he got standing ovations every time. Matter of fact, there were more standing ovations than total runs scored in the Phillies 5-2 victory.

His last at-bat came at 5:26 according to the Sherwin Williams big clock in left-center field. It was the eighth inning. When he got back to the dugout, he kept motioning with his right arm as if he was swinging the bat. He had a pitch to drive and he popped out to the shortstop. Bench coach Larry Bowa approached him and whispered something in his left ear.

Top of the ninth meant Ryan Howard would take the field for the last time. He was the first one out of the dugout. Within seconds, Tommy Joseph trotted to first base to replace a legend. The two big men hugged. The 36,935 fans stood and cheered once again. TV captured Darian in the stands wiping away tears. His teammates mobbed him as he entered the dugout. The fans cheered. One-by-one he hugged each teammate. Relief pitcher Hector Neris who entered the game in the top of that inning stood on the mound and applauded by slapping his bare hand against his glove. The fans cheered. The Mets were lined up on the top dugout step applauding. The fans cheered so long and hard, Ryan made his final curtain call. A two-minute love fest finally ended.

He exited the dugout but returned wearing a red, short-sleeve sweatshirt and watched Neris pick up a save. After the final out, the Phillies entered the field to form a long line of high-fives. Cameras followed Ryan. He crossed the foul line while heading toward the dugout and was about to be interviewed by CSN’s Leslie Gudel. That was on put hold as another touching video about Ryan’s career played on the big video boards. The fans stood throughout the video, cheered at its conclusion and then heard Leslie’s interview over the public address system. Ryan again thanked the fans which drew more applause. During the interview most of his teammates were in the dugout taking it all in, a real tribute.

Ryan finally headed for the dugout while the cheering continued. He went down the steps and disappeared from everyone’s sight. His teammates followed. The fans, especially those behind the Phillies dugout, didn’t leave. The 134th season in franchise history was over. The career of their greatest first baseman had ended. The last piece from the 2008 World Championship was gone. Perhaps the fans didn’t want to believe it.

In his last game, Ryan Howard went out a winner. It was only fitting.

Late last night, this appeared on twitter:
Ryan Howard ?@ryanhoward
Words cannot express how much I appreciated today. Thank you @Phillies, fans, my teammates former & current for the love and support.

Final Game For Phillies Icon


By now you know the Mets celebrated on the Phillies home field following yesterday’s win, 5-3. The win clinched a postseason wildcard berth for them.

Today, the 134th season in Phillies history will end. Of bigger significance, it will be the final game for a Phillies icon. Ryan (The Big Piece) Howard will play his last game in a Phillies uniform. It all began as a pinch-hitter against the Atlanta Braves, September 1, 2004, at Citizens Bank Park where he’s thrilled Phillies fans infinitely.

With the Phillies trailing the Mets, 2-0, in the fifth inning yesterday he gave the fans what they wanted, a game-tying home run to right field. The big clock at CBP was at 2:40 p.m. It resulted in a curtain call, one of many in his career. It was his 25th homer, the most since he belted 33 in the 2011 season.

Around 2:30 this afternoon, the Phillies will hold a ceremony to honor Ryan with the game to follow at 3:05. It will be an emotional day. Fans will be taking photos with their cell phones as a personal treasure of being there for Ryan. That was also evident yesterday.

Howard is the last one from the team’s greatest era of 2007-2011. He’s also the last Phillies player born in the 1970s (1979).

Checking, Howard has played three games on October 2. He’s 5-for-11 with one home run.

Howard HR Facts
Career, 382
Vs. Mets, 48, second most against any team
Citizens Bank Park, 198, most for any Phillies player
Batting fourth, 303
Batting fifth: 44
Number of pitchers, 255
RH pitchers, 291
LH pitchers, 91
Different ballparks, 26
Today’s pitcher: Syndergaard, 1 in 10 AB

All-Time vs. Mets
Willie Stargell, 60
Mike Schmidt, 49
Chipper Jones, 49
Willie McCovey, 48

HR, On This Date
2009, #221, vs. Marlins, Rick van den Hurk, Citizens Bank Park

Milestone HRs
#1 9/11/04 vs. Mets, Bartolome Fortunato, Shea Stadium
#100 6/27/07 vs. Reds, Aaron Harang, Citizens Bank Park
#200 7/16/09, vs. Marlins, Chris Volstad, Land Shark Stadium
#300 9/22/12, vs. Braves, Mike Minor, Citizens Bank Park

Hello 50
Having broken Mike Schmidt’s club record for home runs in a season (48) in Washington, DC, on 8/31/06, he became the first Phillies player to reach 50 and zoomed right past that number with a three-home run game:
#50 9/3/06, 1st game, vs. Braves, Tim Hudson, 2d inning, Citizens Bank Park
#51 Tim Hudson, 3rd inning
#52 Tim Hudson, 6th inning

First At-Bat
9/1/04, pinch-hitting for Vicente Padilla vs. Braves, 5th inning, struck out looking, 3-2 pitch from Jaret Wright, Citizens Bank Park. 35,031

This Date
October 2, 2005
Jimmy Rollins ends season with 36-game hitting streak, a club record, in 9-3 win in

October 2, 2008
NLDS #2 at Citizens Bank Park: Shane Victorino hits a grand slam home run off CC
Sabathia to cap a five-run second inning that lifts the Phillies to a 5-2 win and 2-0 lead
over the Brewers.

October 2, 2011
NLDS #2 at Citizens Bank Park: Phillies grab a 4-0 lead after two innings but the
Cardinals come back against Cliff Lee to win, 5-4, and even the series at 1-1.

Twitter: @ShenkLarry

Familiar Storyline

Storyline of the 2016 Phillies season is pretty clear, solid starting pitching and little offense. The storyline expanded this month with shoddy defense and a bullpen that has sprung a major leak. All four surfaced last night in the Mets 5-1 win.

Alec Asher retired the first 11 Mets and then was tagged for two runs on four, two-out singles in the fourth. He set down the next seven Mets before Jay Bruce hit an opposite field home run on a 3-1 pitch.

The one-run offense: a sacrifice fly by Cameron Rupp. It gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead after two innings. Their last hit came in the sixth inning.

The shoddy defense and leaky bullpen came into play in a two-run eighth inning. Two singles off Michael Mariot and a fielding error by Aaron Altherr put runners on first and third. The next batter popped to short right. Altherr and Cesar Hernandez almost collided before the second baseman made a bobbling catch. Yoenis Cespedes appeared to strike out but the first base umpire ruled no swing resulting in the first ejection of Pete Mackanin. Cespedes then hit a pop up toward first which wasn’t caught. The ball actually landed on the first base bag. Bruce, facing a lefty, singled with two out to make it 5-1.

Ryan Howard’s double was his 286th, one shy of Richie Ashburn for ninth place on the Phillies all-time list. Ryan received a standing ovation when he came to bat for the first time . . . Hernandez has reached base in 33 of his last 34 games . . . Freddy Galvis left the game in the seventh because of a tight right hamstring . . . The Mets have homered 17 times in their last seven games at Citizens Bank Park . . . 1:05 afternoon game today for FOX TV . . . Atlanta’s loss means the Phillies will finish fifth.

Howard HR Facts
Career, 381
Vs. Mets, 47, second most against any team
Citizens Bank Park, 197, most for any Phillies player
Batting fourth, 303
Batting fifth: 43
Number of pitchers, 255
RH pitchers, 290
LH pitchers, 91
Different ballparks, 26
Today’s pitcher: Colon, 3 in 30 AB
Sunday’s pitcher: Syndergaard, 1 in 10 AB

On this date
2005, #24, John Patterson at Washington

Milestone HRs
#1 9/11/04 vs. Mets, Bartolome Fortunato, Shea Stadium
#100 6/27/07 vs. Reds, Aaron Harang, Citizens Bank Park
#200 7/16/09, vs. Marlins, Chris Volstad, Land Shark Stadium
#300 9/22/12, vs. Braves, Mike Minor, Citizens Bank Park

This Date
October 1, 1982
RHP Terry Leach pitches 10, 10inning 1hitter against Phillies. Luis Aguayo’s triple in 5th is lone hit.  RHP John Denny pitches 1hitter through 9 innings (Dave Kingman single in 2nd).

October 1, 2008
NLDS #1 at Citizens Bank Park: Phillies earn first postseason win in 15 years with a 3-1 decision over the Brewers. Cole Hamels tosses eight shutout innings to get the win, retiring the first 14 batters.

October 1, 2011
NLDS #1 at Citizens Bank Park: Ryan Howard’s three-run homer keys a five-run sixth inning as the Phillies defeat the Cardinals, 11-6.  Roy Halladay retires the last 21 batters to earn the win.

Twitter: @ShenkLarry

Big Farewell Weekend


Can’t remember an icon ending his Phillies career as will happen with Ryan Howard this weekend at Citizens Bank Park.

Four Phillies Hall of Famers had different exits. Richie Ashburn was traded in the winter (1960) while Robin Roberts was sold to the Yankees in spring training (1961). Steve Carlton was released during the season (1986) and Mike Schmidt retired on the road during the season (1989). Howard’s teammates, Chase Utley (2015), Cole Hamels (2015) and Carlos Ruiz (2016), were traded during the season. Jimmy Rollins’ final season (2014) ended with a strained left hamstring on September 8. He was traded three months later.

None were able to receive a final farewell in front of Phillies fans. That’s about to change.

The Phillies will have a special pre-game presentation to Ryan at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Game time is 3:05 p.m. Remember, Saturday’s game time has been moved from 7:05 p.m. to 1:05 p.m. for a FOX national telecast as the Mets continue their push for a wildcard postseason berth.

While the Phillies are limping to the finish line there’s going to be the excitement of Ryan’s final games and trying to spoil the Mets season. Phillies fans will need to drown out the Mets fans.

Citizens Bank Park will be energized as the season closes. Cell phone cameras will be in action.

Howard HR Facts
Career, 381
Vs. Mets, 47, second most against any team
Citizens Bank Park, 197, most for any Phillies player
Batting fourth, 303
Batting fifth: 43
Number of pitchers, 255
RH pitchers, 290
LH pitchers, 91
Different ballparks, 26
Tonight’s pitcher: Gsellman, 0 in 3 AB
Saturday’s pitcher: Colon, 3 in 30 AB
Sunday’s pitcher: Syndergaard, 1 in 10 AB

On this date
2005, #23, Livan Hernandez at Washington
2007, #129, Mike Bacsik vs. Washington

Milestone HRs
#1 9/11/04 vs. Mets, Bartolome Fortunato, Shea Stadium
#100 6/27/07 vs. Reds, Aaron Harang, Citizens Bank Park
#200 7/16/09, vs. Marlins, Chris Volstad, Land Shark Stadium
#300 9/22/12, vs. Braves, Mike Minor, Citizens Bank Park

End Of Road
Jeanmar Gomez’s nightmarish month continued as the Phillies lost their last road game and their final game in Turner Field last night. Entering a 1-1 game in the eighth, he walked the leadoff hitter. It led to a four-run inning and a 5-2 defeat.

Jeremy Hellickson left the game after 3.1 innings because of a sprained right knee and the Phillies leading, 1-0. Hellickson scored that run after a single in the third inning. The other run came on a pair of two-out hits in the ninth.

So, the Phillies finished 34-47 on the road, losing six of their last seven. Yet, it was an improvement on last year’s road record (26-55).

5 Things
Five things to know about the Mets
**10-6 vs. Phillies this season
**4-2 at Citizens Bank Park
**Won the season series from the Phillies for the sixth straight year.
**Enter tonight’s game having scored 25 unanswered runs vs. the Phillies
**Bluntly, they own the Phillies

This Date
September 30, 1951
CF Richie Ashburn goes 4-for-8 in final game to finish with 221 hits, the first Phillie to lead the NL in 18 years. Phillies defeat Brooklyn, 9-8, in 14 innings at Shibe Park.

September 30, 1971
CF Willie Montanez sets a club rookie record with his 30th home run as the Phillies end the season with a 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh at the Vet.

September 30, 1978
LHP Randy Lerch (11-8) hits two home runs and picks up the win as the Phillies capture their third straight NL East title, 10-8, at Pittsburgh.

September 30, 2007
Phillies beat Washington, 6-1, at Citizens Bank Park and clinch National League
Eastern Division title in last game of season as New York Mets who were tied
with Phillies for first place lost to Florida, 8-1.

September 30, 2009
Phillies beat Houston, 10-3, at Citizens Bank Park and clinch the National League
Eastern Division title with four games left for third straight year and eighth overall.

Twitter: @ShenkLarry

Farewell Turner Field

Adam Morgan had a nine-pitch scoreless first inning. It went downhill from there as the Braves scored nine runs off him over the next three innings. He finished the game and his season having allowed nine runs on 10 hits in five innings. In four previous starts this month, he allowed a total of eight runs.

The leaky Phillies bullpen gave up three runs over the final four innings. Frank Herrmann’s .2 scoreless outing ended a streak in which 12 straight relievers allowed runs. On this 1-5 road trip, the bullpen has allowed 63 runs. Mercy.

Atlanta has won the season series five straight years . . . Phillies final flight home after tonight’s game . . . Mets will be in town for the final three games of the season. First game is 7:05 Friday night . . . A reminder: Saturday’s game has been moved from 7:05 p.m. to 1:05 p.m. for a FOX TV . . . All Sunday games in MLB will begin at 3:05 p.m. . . . Mets have scheduled right-handed starters meaning Ryan Howard will be in the lineup.

Howard HR Facts
Vs. Braves, 52, most against any team
At Turner Field, 23, most for any enemy ballpark
Batting fifth: 43
Tonight’s starter: Collmenter, 0

On this date:
2007, #128, John Rauch at Washington

Farewell Turner Field

Tonight the Phillies bid farewell to Turner Field in the final National League game in the Braves home. Three interleague games against the Tigers this weekend officially close the book.

The first game the Phillies played there was on June 16, 1997, a 5-4 loss. WP: Denny Neagle. LP: Matt Beech. SV: Mark Wohlers. CF Ricky Otero was the Phillies’ first batter. Darren Daulton hit the team’s first home run.

The Phillies greatest game there came on Labor Day two years ago when Cole Hamels-Jake Diekman-Ken Giles-Jonathan Papelbon threw the first combined no-hitter in franchise history.

Another big moment came on the final day of the 2011 season. Atlanta and St. Louis were tied for the wildcard berth while the Phillies had clinched their fifth straight division title. Rather than rest his regulars Charlie Manuel decided to stay with them in a very important game for the Braves and Cardinals. The Phillies franchise record 102nd win and a victory by St. Louis ended the Braves season. The Cardinals later eliminated the Phillies from the postseason.

The Phillies have played the Braves in South End Grounds, Braves Field and Fenway Park (Boston), County Stadium (Milwaukee), Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field (Atlanta). Next year, SunTrust Park. Phillies first game there is June 5.

Closing Enemy Parks
September 3, 1957–Phillies beat the Dodgers 3-2 in 12 innings to win the last major league game played in Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, N.J. The Dodgers played eight home games in Jersey City in their final season in Brooklyn. Attendance: 10,190.

September 18, 1963–LHP Chris Short (8-11) wins the final game played at Polo Grounds, a 5-1 complete game. Attendance: 1,752.

September 26, 1976–Phillies win a doubleheader, 4-1 and 2-1, in the last games played in Montreal’s Jarry Park. First game win gives the Phillies the National League Eastern Division title. Second game shortened to seven innings because of rain. Attendance: 14,166.

Working on a player’s weakness and a change in positions are part of the instructional league camp. One focus for pitchers is throwing first pitch strikes. Josh Tobias, a switch-hitting second baseman who tried the outfield in Clearwater, played third base on Tuesday. reported that two players joined the Instructs and pushed the roster total to 64 players.  The new additions are LHP Oscar Marcelino and the PTBNL in the Carlos Ruiz trade, OF Joey Curletta.

This Date
September 29, 1907, 1st game
RHP George McQuillan’s consecutive scoreless innings streak ends at 25 innings, a Phillies record for the start of a career.

September 29, 1915
The Phillies clinch first NL pennant with a 5-0 win at Boston, a 1-hitter for RHP Grover Cleveland Alexander, his 30th win. It is his fourth 1-hitter and 12th shutout of the season.

Twitter: @ShenkLarry

Yet Another Bullpen Loss

If this is the final week in the Phillies career of Ryan Howard, he started it in grand style. He hit the first pitch he saw for his 15th career grand slam in the first inning. By the end of four innings, Jerad Eickhoff was working on a 6-1 lead, having allowed just one hit.

Then the rains came, a delay of nearly two hours. As it turned out, It didn’t rain long enough to postpone the game. The delay cooled the Phillies bats and robbed Eickhoff of a win. He’ll have one more start, the final game of the season Sunday.

The rains also meant the beleaguered Phillies’ bullpen would take over. Within four innings, the Braves led, 7-6, which was the final score. They’ve won five in a row over the Phillies.

One of the strangest patterns continued. On Saturday the Phillies scored 10 unanswered runs. The rest of that game and Sunday, the Mets scored 25 unanswered runs. Last night, six for the Phillies followed by seven by the Braves. Once again the game was decided by the bullpen which has eight blown saves, nine losses and allowed 69 runs this month.

Roman Quinn snapped a streak of six consecutive strikeouts by starting the game with three straight hits. He left the game with an oblique injury . . . Howard’s slam was his 15th, putting him in a tie for 13th place on the all-time list with Ken Griffey Jr. and Richie Sexson. Only three first basemen have hit more, Willie McCovey (18), Eddie Murray (19) and Lou Gehrig (23).

Howard HR Facts
Vs. Braves, 52, most against any team
At Turner Field, 23, most for any enemy ballpark
Batting fifth: 43
Tonight’s starter: Foltynewicz, 1
Thursday night’s starter: Collmenter, 0

On this date:
2007, #127, Arnie Munoz at Washington
2014, #334, Aaron Harang vs. Atlanta

MLB Note
From Elias Sports Bureau: A total of 107 players have hit 20 home runs this season, a major league high. Previous was 103 in 1999.

Player Development
Baseball America has released its list of the top 20 players in the Gulf Coast League.
Three are Phillies, #1, CF Mickey Moniak; #7, 2B Dan Brito and #15, OF Jhailyn Ortiz. Sixto Sanchez was named the Pitcher of the Year.

The Florida Instructional League season began on Monday with the Phillies hosting the Blue Jays at Bright House Field. Emphasis is on instruction and not statistics. It resembled a typical FIL game in that the Phillies used six different pitchers and 13 position players. Actually that’s September baseball in the major leagues these days.

Before the 1 o’clock afternoon game, the entire camp worked out at Carpenter Complex. That is a daily routine except for Sunday.

This Date
September 28, 1919
In the fastest game ever played in the major leagues, it takes the New York Giants 51 minutes to beat the Phillies, 6-1, at the Polo Grounds. Most batters swung at the first pitch and ran the bases at will.

September 28, 1958

CF Richie Ashburn goes 3-for-4 in the final game of the season, a 6-4 win at Pittsburgh, to edge Willie Mays, .350 to .347, for the NL batting title. The Phillies haven’t had a batting champion since.

September 28, 1983
C Bo Diaz has five hits, including two homers, and 2B Joe Morgan, four hits and three RBI, as the Phillies clinch the NL East, 13-6, at Chicago, their 14th win in the last 16 games.

September 28, 2003

Before a sellout crowd of 58,554, the final game in Vet history is won by the Atlanta Braves, 5-2. Following the last out, emotional and memorable closing ceremonies are held featuring the 2003 Phillies and nearly 100 alumni. Larry Bowa jumped on home plate during the ceremonies.

September 28, 2011
Phillies set club record for most wins in a season with 102 as they beat Atlanta Braves, 4-3, in 13 innings. Charlie Manuel sets club record for most wins by a manager with 646, passing Gene Mauch.

Twitter: @ShenkLarry