3 Weekend Stars

Having lost seven in a row to the Brewers, the Phillies put an end of that nonsense taking two of three in Miller Park over the weekend.

The three stars:

Aaron Nola won his first game of the season on Friday. He allowed a first inning run and fanned seven in seven innings, increasing his season total to 30 strikeouts which matches Clayton Kershaw for third highest in the NL. Phillies staff continues to lead in strikeouts, 185. Mets’ 157 are second.

00 Franco

Maikel Franco broke out with seven hits and eight RBI.  Three of the hits were long home runs, two on Friday night.  He also had two spectacular fielding gems in the game.

Odubel Herrera went 5-12 in the series with six runs scored and three RBI.  On Saturday, he became the first Phillie since 1900 to score at least four runs, hit a home run and steal two bases in a game. He extended his on-base streak to 16 games on Sunday.

After starting the season 0-4 on the road, the Phillies are 4-1 . . . Three-game series in Washington, DC, begins Tuesday night . . . Phillies are 36-38 at Nationals Park since it opened in 2008 . . . Ryan Howard has 13 dingers there, same for Dodger Stadium and second only to Turner Field (21) . . . Bryce Harper has 14 homers against the Phillies, 11 at Citizens Bank Park.

Minor League Weekend Report
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (10-7), 1st place, International League North Division; first time they’ve been in 1st place since July 9, 2012, 1,375 days ago.
Swept 3 games in Pawtucket. Edward Mujica saved each win. Lone starter to win, Mark Appel (3-0) on Saturday, 5-5-2-2-1-3. ND on Friday for Zach Elfin, 6-6-5-5-0-8.  All 5 runs came in the first inning. After that he allowed one base runner (error) through 6.  Retired last 14 batters. INF Taylor Featherston was hitless in the season’s first game and has hit in next 13 games.  .412 average leads IL. 1B-DH Tommy Joseph, 2 HR, 6 RBI weekend; hitting .438 in last 10 games with 14 hits. OF Nick Williams, 9-17 in last 4 games, boosting average from .184 to .291 . . . Jake Thompson (1-2), 6:35 tonight in Scranton.

Reading Fightin’ Phils (11-6), 2nd place in Eastern League East Division.
Took 2 of 3 from New Hampshire. 6-5 loss came on Sunday when NH scored 5 in the top of the 9th.  Anthony Vasquez (3-0) won on Friday, 6.1-7-2-1-1-2. Edubray Ramos, 4th save. 4-3, 11-inning win Saturday on 1B Rhys Hoskins’ walk-off HR (#3).  ND Alec Asher, 7.2-4-1-0-1-4. ND on Sunday, Ben Lively, 6-4-0-0-0-6 . . . Nick Pivetta (1-1), 6:35 tonight vs. Akron.

Clearwater Threshers (13-5), 1st place in Florida State League North Division.
Swept 3 from Brevard County, stretching winning streak to 6 games and 10 in last 11 games.  Scored 13 runs in the series, 11 with two out.  ND on Friday, Elniery Garcia, 7-3-1-1-0-7, lowered ERA to 0.47, best in the FSL.  WPs: Tyler Viza (3-0), 6-7-0-0-0-5 and Will Morris (1-1), 5-6-2-2-1-1. 1B Kyle Martin, hitting .351 in last 10 games; 16 RBI lead Phillies minor leagues.  Team ERA (1.90) is lowest in the FSL . . . Not scheduled today.

Lakewood BlueClaws (4-14), 7th place, South Atlantic League North Division.
1-2 for the weekend, winning 11-7 in 11 innings on Sunday in Greensboro. C Austin Bossart singled in one run and Samuel Hiciano added a 3-run HR (#1).  SS Emmanuel Marrero tied a club record with 5 hits . . . Not scheduled today.

Lakewood: OF Zach Coppola placed on DL with a left hamstring strain. OF Venn Biter activated from Williamsport roster in extended spring training.

This Date
April 25, 1972–LHP Steve Carlton ties the club record for a LHP with 14 strikeouts in pitching a one-hit, 3-0, shutout in San Francisco.  SS Chris Speier, the Giants’ first batter, singled.

00 Phanatic

April 25, 1978—Without great fanfare, Phillie Phanatic made his debut before 17,227 fans at Veterans Stadium.

Book Review
“What he’s produced in his second compilation — “If These Walls Could Talk” came out in 2014 — is another relaxed stroll down memory lane, a smorgasbord of all things Phillies from an author who has had an inside look at so much of the franchise’s history.”

That’s part of Paul Hagen’s review of my book.  Check it out at http://www.books.mlbogs.com/.

Follow me at twitter: @ShenkLarry

16-Game Review

Going into the season, the Phillies offense didn’t appear to pack much power and runs were expected to be hard to come by.  Well, that’s happened.  Their .214 batting average is 14th in the NL.  .271 on-base percentage is 15th.  13 home runs rank ninth. Hey, that’s 10 more than Atlanta.

Starting pitching was believed to be better than a year ago.  That’s been true for the most part.  Their ERA is 3.30 which will take all season long.

Bullpen was expected to be questionable. However, the relievers are finding their roles and the pen has been much better. Remember the pen gave up 11 runs in 7.2 innings in the first three games.

Outfield defense is vastly improved which helps the pitching staff.  Outfield offense is another story.

Fundamentals and base running were emphasized in spring training. Each must have been left in Clearwater.  Twice a runner advanced and was out on an infield fly rule and twice Wednesday night sacrifice bunt attempts failed.

00 Franco dugout

Maikel Franco, 23, was expected to challenge for the home run crown and lead the offense. Well, he’s hit two homers, the last coming April 13.  Since then, 3-29, .103 with nine strikeouts. The other night he was robbed of a three-run homer. Lest we forget Mike Schmidt’s first full season in the majors: .196, 18 homers, 52 RBI.

00 Nola

Aaron Nola, 22, was expected to lead the starters.  He’s 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA after three starts.  He’s only walked three while striking out 23 but he’s given up 12 runs in 19 innings.  The offense has averaged 2 runs per his starts.  Greg Maddux’s first full season in the majors: 6-14, 5.67 ERA.

Slow starts don’t mean Franco and Nola are no longer a big part of the future.  Major League Baseball is tough place to play.  Adjustments are being made by enemy pitchers and hitters.  Franco and Nola are young talents who are learning.  They will have a lot of fun before the season is over.

Three games in Milwaukee this weekend are the start of 16 road games in the next 19 for the Phillies . . . Lone three home games are next weekend against the Cleveland Indians . . . Phillies were swept in seven games by the Brewers a year ago . . . Since Miller Park opened in 2001, Phillies are 25-24 there . . . Ryan Howard is a .282 hitter in 31 games at Miller Park, six homers, 27 RBI . . . Franco has never played there and Nola has never faced the Brewers . . . Ryan Braun is a Phillies killer, .381, 18 homers, 49 RBI in 55 games . . .Happy birthday today to Mickey Morandini who turns 50.

Minor League Report
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (8-6) won 6th in last 7 games, blasting 17 hits in a 10-2 romp in Syracuse.  Everyone in the LV lineup had a hit with six different players having multiple hit games. 2B Taylor Featherston extended his hitting streak to 11 games.  RF Cedric Hunter, 3 H. SS Ryan Jackson, 2 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI. 1B Tommy Joseph, 2B, HR (2), RBI. WP: Adam Morgan (1-1), 7-6-2-2-1-6; as a hitter, 1B, 2B, RBI. LH Hoby Milner made AAA debut, 5 SO in 2 scoreless innings . . . Zach Elfin (2-0, 0.64), 6:15 tonight in Pawtucket.

Reading Fightin’ Phils (9-5) open a 6-game homestand, 7:05 tonight. Anthony Vasquez (2-0) opposes New Hampshire.

Clearwater Threshers (10-5) won 7th in last 8 games, 1-0, over Daytona. WP: Ranfi Casimiro (3-0), 6-3-0-0-2-6. SV: Victor Arano (1). LF Cord Sandberg, 2 of Clearwater’s 4 singles; 9-14 in last 4 games, raising average to .348 . . . Elniery Garcia (2-0, 0.00), 6:15 tonight vs. Brevard County.

Lakewood BlueClaws (3-12) started road trip with 10-3 win in Greensboro. WP: Shane Watson (1-1), 7-5-1-1-1-8. SS Emmanuel Marrero, 4-4, HR (1), 3 RBI. 3B Jan Hernandez, 2-4, HR (1), RBI, 2 R. 2B Josh Tobias, 2-5, 3 RBI. DH Jose Pujols, 3-5, RBI. CF Zachary Coppola, 12-27 in a 7-game hitting streak . . . Luke Leftwich (0-1), 7 tonight in Greensboro.

Book Signings
I’ll be signing my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies, on the following dates:

**Tomorrow, Saturday, April 23, AB Sports, Concord Mall, 4737 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803; 1-3 p.m. (www.absports.com).
**Saturday, April 30, Main Point Books, 1041 West Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010; 1-2 p.m.
**Sunday, May 22, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
**May 26, Maris Grove Theatre, 200 Maris Grove Way, Glen Mills, PA, 19342; 2-3 p.m.
**August 14, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Follow me at twitter: @ShenkLarry

Bullpen Stars

00 bourjos mobbed

RF Peter Bourjos, batting ninth, turned out to be the hero as his infield single in the last of the 11th beat the Mets, 5-4.  It was the Phillies 10th hit, the first time this season they have reached double figures.

Credit for the win goes to the bullpen of Hector Neris, Dalier Hinojosa and Jeanmar Gomez.  Combined they tossed 6.2 scoreless innings and struck out 11.  Ten Phillies pitchers worked in the series and this trio are the only ones not to give up a home run.

00 Galvis NYHR

Freddy Galvis started the Phillies scoring with a two-run homer in the second, his second.  He, Carlos Ruiz and Maikel Franco trail Ryan Howard’s four homers for the club lead.

Batting 9th
Interesting tweet from the Inquirer/Daily news writer, Matt Gelb: “Last time a Phillies pitcher batted eighth before tonight? Steve Carlton on June 1, 1979.”

Matt was referencing the fact Hellickson was 8th in the order last night.

So, who batted 9th behind Carlton? How about that SS Bud Harrelson.

Minor League Report
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (7-6) won for the 5th time in last 6 games, sweeping a DH in Syracuse . . . Game #1: 3-2 behind WP Jake Thompson (1-2), 6-6-2-2-3-2 and 3rd save for Edward Mujica . . . Game #2: 5-4, scoring 4 in the top of the 7th for the win.  CF Darnell Sweeney hit a 3-run HR (1st) in that inning.  1B Tommy Joseph’s second double drove in the winning run. WP: Gregory Infante (1-0); SV: Luis Garcia (1) . . . SS Taylor Featherston, 5-6 in the DH . . . Adam Morgan (0-1) in 1:05 p.m. game in Syracuse today.

Reading Fightin’ Phils (9-5) lost, 3-2, in 11 innings in Richmond. C Jake Fox, HR (3), a 2-run blow in the 4th inning. Reading was 1-2 with RISP. ND Ricardo Pinto, 7-4-1-0-0-3 . . . Reading is idle today.

Clearwater Threshers (9-5) won 6th game in last 7, 4-2, vs. Daytona. 2B Scott Kingery, 2-4, 2 R, 3B. LF Cord Sandberg, 3-4, R, 2B, RBI, SB; he’s 7-11 in last 3 games.  WP Matt Imhoff (1-1), 6-1-0-0-2-3, losing a no-hitter on a double starting the 7th . . . Ranfi Casimiro (2-0), 7 this evening vs. Daytona.

Lakewood BlueClaws (2-12) lost, 9-1, to Hagerstown, getting 7 singles. LF Cornelius Randolph, 2-4 and DH Wilson Garcia, 2-4 . . . Shane Watson (0-1) in 7 p.m. game today in Greensboro.

Lehigh Valley
Activated LHP Hoby Milner from the Williamsport Roster (Extended Spring),

Placed 1B Brendon Hayden on the DL with a right hip flexor strain. Activated Catcher Joel Fisher from the Williamsport Roster (Extended Program)

This Date
April 21, 1898–RHP Bill Duggleby hits a grand slam home run in his first major league plate appearance (2nd inning) in a game in New York.

April 21, 2008–Chase Utley’s home run helped lead the Phillies to a 9-5 win over Colorado. It was Utley’s fifth consecutive game with a home run, tying a team record achieved three other times, most recently by Bobby Abreu in 2005.  (source: broadandpattison.com).

Book Signings
I’ll be signing my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies, on the following dates:

**This Saturday, April 23, AB Sports, Concord Mall, 4737 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803; 1-3 p.m. (www.absports.com).
**Saturday, April 30, Main Point Books, 1041 West Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010; 1-2 p.m.
**Sunday, May 22, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
**May 26, Maris Grove Theatre, 200 Maris Grove Way, Glen Mills, PA, 19342; 2-3 p.m.
**August 14, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Follow me at twitter: @ShenkLarry

Mets Double HR #

Vincent Velasquez showed he was human last night.  He hung two 0-2 curve balls that turned into two home runs and five runs in his 4.1 innings  Fresh from his 16-strikeout game, he had four punch outs last night, three coming in the first inning.

In extending their Citizens Bank Park record to 20-6 over their last 26 games, the Mets did it with the long ball.  They came to town with nine home runs.  In the first two games of this series, they’ve hit 10.

Meanwhile, the Phillies offense was silent.  In 15 games, they’ve been held to three runs 13 times.

Series ends tonight, a day off tomorrow will include a United Airlines charter flight to Milwaukee for a three-game series with the Brewers.

Want some good news? The Mets don’t return to Citizens Bank Park until July 15.

Minor League Report
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (5-6) lost, 3-2, to Syracuse. LP: David Buchanan (0-1), 6-4-3-3-3-3. CF Nick Williams, 2-5 . . . C J. P. Arencibia, 3-5 . . . RF Cedric Hunter, 0-2, 2 BB . . .
8-game road trip starts in Syracuse with 4:05 DH, Jake Thompson and Reinier Roibal.

Reading Fightin’ Phils (9-4) edged host Richmond, 5-4, on SF by 1B Rhys Hoskins in the top of the ninth. CF Ramon Quinn, 2-5, R, 2 EBI, SB (5). SS J. P. Crawford, 1-1, 4 BB, R, RBI, SB. ND: Nick Pivetta, 5-5-3-3-2-6) . . . Series ends with a 10:35 game this morning in Richmond, Ricardo Pinto.

Clearwater Threshers (8-5) beat Daytona, 4-2. WP: Tom Eshelman (1-1), 7-2-1-1-0-9. 2B Scott Kingery, 23, R, SB. 1B Zach Green, 1-3, HR(3), RBI . . . Matt Imhoff 12 noon today vs. Daytona.

Lakewood BlueClaws (2-11) lost, 12-6, to Hagerstown.  LF Cornelius Randolph, 4=5, R, HR (1), 3 RBI. 2B Jan Hernandeez, 2-4, RBI, R. CF Zachary Coppola, 1-5; 11-26 in last 6 games . . . Tyler Gilbert starts tonight vs. Hagerstown, 6:35.

Reading C Jorge Alfaro was placed on the DL with a right oblique strain. He joins Altherr and Asche with injuries that take time to heal.  Letter A is jinxed.

This Date
April 20, 1920–Phillies manager Gavvy Cravath inserted himself as a pinch-hitter and hits a three-run homer to beat the New York Giants 3-0. It was his 119th and final major-league home run, a major-league record that was broken by Babe Ruth the following season. (Source broadandpattison.com).

April 20, 1989–3B Mike Schmidt’s first-inning double in Pittsburgh off Mike Dunne breaks Richie Ashburn’s club record for career hits (2,217).

Book Signings
I’ll be signing my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies, on the following dates:

**This Saturday, April 23, AB Sports, Concord Mall, 4737 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803; 1-3 p.m. (www.absports.com).
**Saturday, April 30, Main Point Books, 1041 West Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010; 1-2 p.m.
**Sunday, May 22, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
**May 26, Maris Grove Theatre, 200 Maris Grove Way, Glen Mills, PA, 19342; 2-3 p.m.
**August 14, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Follow me at twitter: @ShenkLarry

Wright Wrongs Phils

Not sure if Mets third baseman David Wright likes cheese steaks.  Do know he likes Citizens Bank Park.  When he stepped to the plate in the first inning his scoreboard stat for HR was a 0. So, he hit his first homer of the season in his first at-bat. His last at-bat? If you guessed another HR you win a cheese steak.

In 98 games at CBP, Wright has 22 homers, most among the enemy.  Those 22 are also the most for any visiting park for him.

Despite giving up only two runs in seven innings, Jerad Eickhoff took the loss in the 5-2 decision.  He’s allowed two earned runs or fewer in his last seven starts.  The bullpen gave up the other three runs on three solo homers.  The Mets are 19-6 in their last 25 games at CBP.

The Phillies offense has scored just 33 runs in 14 games and has yet to reach double figures in hits.

Velocity Vince Velasquez takes to the mound Tuesday night fresh from his 16-strikeout game.

New Phillies
David Lough (pronounced LOW) was brought up yesterday and inserted in left field.  During his 312-game big league career (Royals and Orioles) he has played all three outfield positions. Last season he hit four runs for the Orioles, a game-winner vs. the Red Sox and a pinch-hit one vs. the Yankees. He was originally selected in the 11th round by KC in 2011 and signed as a minor league free agent by the Phillies in late January five days after his 30th birthday.  He was hitting .280 at Lehigh Valley.  In 25 at-bats, he had one walk and one strikeout.

To make room for Lough, Cedric Hunter was sent to Lehigh Valley.  Hunter arrived at the clubhouse at 10 a.m. on Monday, put on his uniform, went to the indoor batting cage to work on his hitting.  A few hours later, he was called into Pete Mackanin’s office and given the news.

On the minor league level, OF Alfredo Marte (mar-TAY) was acquired from the Orioles’ Triple A Norfolk Tides for a player to be named later or cash.  The 27-year has had brief appearances in the majors with the Orioles, Angels and Diamondbacks. He’s a right-handed hitter something the Phillies are lacking among outfielders in their top levels of the minors.

Minor League Report

00Eflin at LV
Lehigh Valley RHS Zach Elfin, 21, was named the International League Pitcher of The Week and the Phillies minor league pitcher of the week. In 2 starts, he was 2-0, 0.64 ERA, allowing 1 run on 7 hits in 14 innings. His 0.64 ERA ranks third in the IL.

00Alfaro Reading

C Jorge Alfaro of the Reading Fightin’ Phils was named the Eastern League Player of the Week and the Phillies minor league player of the week. Alfaro, 22, batted an even .500 (18-36) with four doubles, a triple, a home run and 10 RBI. He posted a .750 slugging percentage and 1.276 OPS, hitting safely in all eight games he played for Reading.

Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (5-5) downed Syracuse 5-1, behind Mark Appel (2-0), 6-6-1-1-2-6; season 0.77 ERA. Homers: Darnell Sweeney (#1), C Andrew Knapp (#2). LF Cameron Perkins, 2-3; 8-14 in last 4 games; 2B/SS Taylor Featherston, extended hitting streak to  7 games with a 2-4; hitting .444 for the season . . . David Buchanan, 7:05 p.m., vs. Syracuse.

Reading Fightin’ Phils (8-4) won, 6-2, at Richmond. WP: Ben Lively (2-0), 7-2-0-0-0-5. SV: Jeremy Bleich (1). 2 hits each: 3B Angelo Mora, 2B Jesmuel Valentin and P Lively, who drove in 2 runs . . . Nick Pivetta (1-1), 6:35 p.m., in Richmond.

Clearwater Threshers (7-5) were blanked on 6 singles, 2 each for LF Cord Sandberg, CF Carlos Tocci and 1B Kyle Martin. Thomas Eshelman (0-1), 7 p.m., vs. Daytona.

Lakewood BlueClaws (2-10) lost, 4-3, to Hagerstown. RF Jose Pujols, 2nd HR, 2 RBI. CF Zachary Coppola, 2-4; 10-21 in last 5 games . . . Franklyn Kilome (0-2), 6:35 tonight, vs. Hagerstown.

This Date
April 19, 1900–Phillies win in Boston, 19-17, in 10 innings, the highest scoring opener in NL history.  Boston scored nine in the bottom of the ninth to send the game into extra innings.

April 19, 1937–Phillies win a doubleheader beating Boston, 2-1, in 11 innings and 1-0 at Braves Field.  It is the only time the Phillies started the season with a twinbill.

Book Signings
I’ll be signing my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies, on the following dates:

**This Saturday, April 23, AB Sports, Concord Mall, 4737 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803; 1-3 p.m. (www.absports.com).
**Saturday, April 30, Main Point Books, 1041 West Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010; 1-2 p.m.
**Sunday, May 22, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
**May 26, Maris Grove Theatre, 200 Maris Grove Way, Glen Mills, PA, 19342; 2-3 p.m.
**August 14, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

Mets In Town

00Suday win
Another good outing for a starting pitcher, no hits from his offense after the fifth inning and just three runs on three solo homers in 27 innings of the series. So what happens? The Phillies string together three consecutive hits with two out in the last of the 10th to score twice in beating Papelbon, 3-2. Try and figure out this game.

Freddy Galvis doubled in the winning run and handed Papelbon his second blown save in four games against the Phillies. In each case Freddy was the hero.

Bryce Harper continued his Super Man slugging by homering in his sixth straight game at Citizens Bank Park in the top of the 10th.  It matches Ernie Banks who also did it in six games against the Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium in 1955.

The Phillies offense has gone 13 games without getting double figures in hits, a club record. It is the longest such drought to open a season since the 2014 Astros opened with a 14-game streak. The Phillies’ franchise record in that category is 17 games, which they did twice: Sept. 28, 1966-April 27, 1967, and July 22-Aug. 4, 1955.

Mets Next
While the Phillies were 4-6 against the Mets at home last season, they finished by sweeping three games in late September.

The Phillies are averaging 2.6 runs per game, last in the NL. The Mets, 3.3, third from the bottom. They’ve scored 37 and given up 37.

New York has 17 extra-base hits in its last three games after collecting 10 extra-base hits in its first eight contests.

Minor League Weekend Report
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (4-5) won last 2 vs. Rochester after losing to Pawtucket on Friday night. LF Cameron Perkins swung a hot bat over the weekend, 6-11, 6 R, 6 RBI, 1st HR. Hitting .400 in seven games. Edward Mujica picked up two saves.  Zach Elfin (2-0) was brilliant Sunday, 8-2-0-0-0-5 . . . Mark Appel (1-0), 7:05 p.m., vs. Syracuse.

Reading Fightin’ Phils (7-4) won 2 of 3 in Harrisburg, 3-1 on Saturday and 14-2 on Sunday. WP: Anthony Vasquez (2-0), 7.1-5-1-1-2-4 on Saturday and Alec Asher (1-2), 6-6-2-2-1-5 on Sunday. SS J. P. Crawford had an 8-game hitting streak stopped on Saturday. C Jorge Alfaro was 5-8 with a HR, 4 RBI in 2 games; he’s hit in all eight games in which he’s played, .500.  RF Dylan Cozens hit his 3rd HR and 1B Rhys Hoskins, his 1st AA HR . . . Ben Lively (1-0), 6:35 p.m., at Richmond.

Clearwater Threshers (7-4) swept 3 in Jupiter, 11-0, 4-0, 9-1. Jupiter’s lone run came in the 9th inning, ending a streak of 26.2 scoreless innings against Clearwater hurlers.  WPs: Ranfi Casimoir (2-0), 5-4-0-0-1-7; Elniery Garcia (2-0), 6-2.-3-0-0-2-5 and Tyler Viza (2-0), 5-3-0-0-2-9. 3B Mitch Walding, 5-10, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R, extending his hitting streak to 7 straight. Leads FSL with 5 HR; teammate Kyle Martin (4) is second . . . Will Morris (0-0), 6:30 p.m., at Jupiter.

Lakewood BlueClaws ended 6-game losing streak, 9-0, on Sunday vs. Greensboro.  Crowd was 9,112, 7th largest in club history.  WP: Harold Arauz (1-1), 7-2-0-0-1-5. CF-RF Zachary Coppola, 7-13, 4 R, 2 RBI. 2B Josh Tobias, 4-8, 2 R, 4 RBI . . . Mitch Gueller (0-0), 6:35 p.m. vs. Hagerstown.

Lehigh Valley: INF Carlos Alonso placed on the disabled list with a jaw fracture. Was hit in the face by a ball during batting practice on Friday night. RHR Severino Gonzalez promoted from Reading.

Lakewood: C Deivi Grullon placed on the DH with a right shin contusion. C Wilson Garcia promoted from the extended spring training program.

This Date

April 18, 1950–Legendary announcer Vince Scully broadcast his first game on opening day, the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Phillies at Shibe Park. Phillies won, 9-1, Robin Roberts defeating Don Newcombe.


April 18, 1987–3B Mike Schmidt homers at 4:53 p.m. on a 3-0 pitch from Don Robinson in Pittsburgh to become the 14th player in baseball history to reach 500 home runs.  Dramatic three-run, game-winning homer in the ninth beats the Pirates, 8-6.  Harry Kalas made one of his memorable calls.  After the game he and Schmidt hugged in the clubhouse.

Hard To Believe
40 years ago yesterday Schmidt hit four home runs in a wild Wrigley Field win. 40 years prior, 1936, Phillies right fielder Chuck Klein hit four home runs at Pittsburgh.  40 years prior, 1896, Phillies outfielder Ed Delahanty hit four home runs at Chicago.

40 years after Schmidt’s four brings us to 2016.  Which Phillie will continue the streak?

Book Signings
I’ll be signing my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies, on the following dates:

**This Saturday, April 23, AB Sports, Concord Mall, 4737 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803; 1-3 p.m. (www.absports.com).
**Saturday, April 30, Main Point Books, 1041 West Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010; 1-2 p.m.
**Sunday, May 22, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
**May 26, Maris Grove Theatre, 200 Maris Grove Way, Glen Mills, PA, 19342; 2-3 p.m.
**August 14, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

16 Punch Outs

A 96 mph fast ball blew right past the Padres’ Will Myers to end the game. “Velocity” Vince Velasquez raised both arms in the air in jubilation. The strikeout was his 16th in a 3-0, 9-inning shutout.  He walked none. Zero, as a nada. Phillies have three shutouts in their first 10 games for first time since 1954.

Numbers are endless for the tall right-hander: 113 pitches, 76 for strikes; 80% were fastballs; 27 swings and misses; nine strike outs over his last four innings; retired 22 of the last 23 hitters; first pro complete game and shutout (52 minor league starts and seven in the majors); 25 strikeouts over his first two Phillies starts bested Jim Bunning’s club record of 20 in 1964; fourth Phillies pitcher to strike out 16 and first since Cliff Lee in 2011.

In addition to Vince and Cliff, two other Phillies pitchers recorded 16 strikeouts, Steve Carlton and Curt Schilling.  All four occurred in Philadelphia.

Velasquez, 23, fell one short of the club record set by Art Mahaffey who was also 23 when he set the record.  Vince wears #28; so did Mahaffey.

Work of Art
(The following are excerpts from my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies. Chapter 1 deals with Historic Performances in Phillies history).

The honor of having the biggest strikeout game in franchise history belongs to Art Mahaffey, who spent six seasons with the Phillies (1960-65).  The right-hander from Cincinnati, OH, struck out 17 Chicago Cubs in the second game of a Sunday afternoon doubleheader at Connie Mack Stadium on April 23, 1961.  Nine went down swinging.

Mahaffey, 23, threw 146 pitches that afternoon, of which only 48 were called balls. He fanned Don Zimmer, Ron Santo, Ernie Banks and Frank Thomas three times each in matching the Major League record for most strikeouts in a day game, set by Dizzy Dean of the St. Louis Cardinals against the Cubs, July 30, 1933.
“Against the Cubs that day, I had an unbelievable fastball and curve ball,” he recalled. “I threw mostly fastballs, particularly in the late innings.  Earlier, I got maybe five or six strikeouts with my curve.” Mahaffey had 15 strikeouts through seven innings. He struck out only one in each of the last two innings.  “I had two strikes on the last four hitters but only got one strikeout.  I came so close to having more than 17.”

Prior to Mahaffey’s big day, the Phillies record for strikeouts in a game was 13 shared by three pitchers: Ray Benge, June 16, 1929; Robin Roberts, May 2, 1957 and Jack Sanford, June 7, 1957.  Oddly, the opponent in each case was the Cubs.

One other note about the day, Frank Sullivan, a 6-foot-6 right-hander, blanked the Cubs, 1-0, in the first game.  It marked the last time the Phillies had two shutouts in a doubleheader.

Minor League Report
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs were flattened by Pawtucket, 13-1. Also, out-hit, 19-6. LP: Jake Thompson (0-2), 3-6-5-5-3-5. Five LV pitchers fanned 14. 1B Brock Stassi pitched a scoreless 9th . . . Adam Morgan (0-0), 7:05 tonight vs. Pawtucket.

Reading Fightin’ Phils blanked host Harrisburg, 9-0, behind Nick Pivetta (1-1), 6-1-0-0-2-7, and 2 relievers.  3B Angelo Mora, HR #2, a grand slam. 1B Christian Marrero, 2nd HR, 2 RBI. C Jorge Alfaro, 2-5; .464 average . . . Ricardo Pinto (0-0), 7:00 tonight in Harrisburg.

Clearwater Threshers defeated Port Charlotte, 6-4. 1B Kyle Martin, HR#4, 3 RBI. Hit 3 HR in pro debut last season in Williamsport; has 5 hits this season, 2B and the 4 HR. SS Malquin Canelo, 3-4, 2 RBI. WP: Alexis Rivero (2-0); SV: Miguel Manuel (2) . . . Ranfi Casimiro (1-0), 6:30 tonight in Jupiter.

Lakewood BlueClaws lost home opener, 7-4, to Greensboro before 6,869 fans. 2B Josh Tobias (4-5). 18-year-old LF Cornelius Randolph, 2B, 2 RBI, 3 BB . . . Shane Watson (0-1), 7:05 tonight vs. Greensboro.

Tweet of Yesterday
Jon Heyman, CBSSports.com: “Phils may not be as terrible as pholks phigured. Velasquez, rejuvenated Hellickson plus Nola, Eickhoff, not bad rotation.”

Maikel, Jared Shine


Two building blocks expected to be part of a winning foundation did their thing as the Phillies nipped the Padres, 2-1, Wednesday night to take a 2-1 lead in the series.


Maikel Franco drove in both runs on a first-inning homer and third-inning double.  After that hit, the Phillies offense went hitless.


Jared Eickhoff continued the brilliant pitching by Phillies starters, nine strikeouts, no walks, four hits in seven scoreless inning. He’s now tossed 18 consecutive scoreless innings at CBP going back to last season.

Phillies got two more scoreless bullpen innings.  In their first 10.2 innings of the season, the bullpen gave up 15 runs.  Since then, zero runs in 12.2 innings. Jeanmar Gomez recorded his fourth save. He trails Jonathan Papelbon (5) for most in the NL.

Phillies pitchers lead the league in strikeouts, 82.

Series ends at 1:05 this afternoon. In case you are wondering, the clubhouse will open to the media at 10:05 a.m. . . . The Nationals are next, Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoon . . . Washington was 12-6 against the Phillies a year ago, 6-3 in Philly . . . In 163 career games against the Nats, Ryan Howard has 41 homers and 127 RBI . . . Bryce Harper has hit 8 of his 11 career homers against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

Minor League Report
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs lost 7-6 when Rochester scored 3 in the ninth off Edward Mujica. ND: David Buchanan, 5-5-3-3-1-2. CF David Lough, 4-6, R, RBI. RF Nick Williams, 1-3, 2 RBI, SB . . . Jake Thompson (0-1) in 7:05 home opener tonight vs. Pawtucket.

Reading Fightin’ Phils defeated Richmond, 6-4.  SS J. P. Crawford, 1st HR; PH Christian Marrero, 3-run HR. C Jorge Alfaro, 2-5. ND: Ben Lively, 5-6-2-2-1-9. WP: Ulises Joaquin (1-0). SV: Edubray Ramos (1) . . . Nick Pivetta, 6:35 tonight in Harrisburg.

Clearwater Threshers lost, 1-0 in 10 innings to Port Charlotte. Clearwater held to 5 singles. ND: Tom Eshelman, 7-2-0-0-2-4 . . . Matt Imhoff (0-1) in 7:00 night game vs. Port Charlotte.

Lakewood BlueClaws were blanked on 2 singles, 8-0, in Hagerstown . . . Tyler Gilbert in 6:35 home opener vs. Greensboro.
This Date

April 14, 1936–Phillies first radio broadcast, a 4-1 win over the Boston Braves at Baker Bowl. On the air were Bill Dyer, a Philadelphia sportscaster, and Dolly Stark, who took a year’s leave of absence from being a major league umpire. Home games were aired on WCAU. Road game were re-created.

More details and a history of Phillies radio and TV can be found on http://www.phillies.com/alumni.

Book Signings
I’ll be signing my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies, on the following dates:

**April 23, AB Sports, Concord Mall, 4737 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803; 1-3 p.m. (www.absports.com).
**April 30, Main Point Books, 1041 West Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010; 1-2 p.m.
**May 22, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
**May 26, Maris Grove Theatre, 200 Maris Grove Way, Glen Mills, PA, 19342; 2-3 p.m.
**August 14, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.


3 W, 2 ShO


Baseball can be a strange game. The Phillies have won three games, two via shutouts. The Padres have lost five games, four being shutouts.


Led by Charlie Morton’s 6.2 innings, the Phillies recorded their second shutout last night. Three relievers completed the shutout.  The beleaguered bullpen has now tossed 10.2 scoreless innings (2 hits) over the last four games. The starters have turned in a 2.87 ERA this season.  There’s no question that starting pitching sets the tone.

The Phillies offense produced only four hits but drew five walks. Going into the game, they had walked only 13 times, fewest in the NL.

Morton’s win was his first in the month of April since 2012 . . . Rookie Tyler Goeddel collected his first major league hit and scored his first run . . . Game three of the four games is tonight. Series ends with a 1:05 afternoon game on Thursday . . . Cody Asche will soon resume baseball activity in Clearwater.

Minor League Report
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs won a double-header (7-inning games) at Rochester after sitting around for 3 days. LV hitters struck out only once . . . Game #1: 6-1.  WP: Zach Elfin (1-0), 6-5-1-1-2-3. C Andrew Knapp, 3-3, HR, 2 RBI. 1B Tommy Joseph, 2-4, 2 RBI . . . Game #2: 4-0. WP: Mark Appel (1-0), 5.2-5-0-0-2-5. LF Nick Williams, 2-4, including a 3B, RBI. SV: Elvis Araujo, 1.1-0-0-0-1-2 . . . David Buchanan, 1:35 p.m. at Rochester.

Reading Fightin’ Phils lost, 7-5, to Richmond . . . SS J.P. Crawford, 3-5 for second straight game. RF Dylan Cozens, 2B, HR (#2), 3 RBI . . . Ben Lively (1-0), 6:35 p.m. vs. Richmond.

Clearwater Threshers dropped 2-1 game to Port Charlotte. 3B Mitch Walding, 3rd HR. ND: Will Morris, 5-4-0-0-1-3 . . . Tom Eshelman, 12 noon vs. Port Charlotte.

Lakewood BlueClaws lost when host Hagerstown scored 3 in their last at-bat, 8-7. 3 hits each: DH Zachary Coppola, CF Jiandido Tromp and RF Jose Pujols . . . Franklyn Kilome (0-1), 10:35 this morning in Hagerstown.

This Date

4 R UMAX     Power Look 2000  V2.0 [3]
April 13, 1955–Robin Roberts losses no-hitter on opening day at Connie Mack Stadium on Alvin Dark’s single with one out in the ninth inning.  Robbie prevails, 4-2, over the Giants. Richie Ashburn, injured late in spring training, sees club record consecutive game playing streak end at 730 games.


April 13, 2009—Hall of Fame broadcaster Harry Kalas dies while preparing for a game in Nationals Park. Game is played and Phillies won, 9-8.  He and his long-time partner, Richie Ashburn, last worked together on 9/8/1997.  Whitey died early the next day.

Book Signings
I’ll be signing my new book, The Fightin’ Phillies, on the following dates:

**April 23, AB Sports, Concord Mall, 4737 Concord Pike, Wilmington, DE 19803; 1-3 p.m. (www.absports.com).
**April 30, Main Point Books, 1041 West Lancaster Ave., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010; 1-2 p.m.
**May 22, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.
**May 26, Maris Grove Theatre, 200 Maris Grove Way, Glen Mills, PA, 19342; 2-3 p.m.
**August 14, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA; 12:30 p.m.-1:30 p.m.

On The Air
Talking about the book, 7:45 Thursday morning on “Breakfast On Broad” now on Comcast Sportsnet.

Padres Prevail

A squeeze play and botched infield fly that turned into a double play against the Phillies paved the way for San Diego’s 4-3 win in the Citizens Bank Park home opener yesterday.  Going back to last season, the Padres have won consecutive games at CBP for the first time since June 6-7, 2010.

Tied at 3, SD scored the winning run on a suicide squeeze play in the seventh inning. The Phillies had tied the game in their sixth.  With bases loaded and no outs, pinch-hitter Darren Ruf lifted the first pitch he saw into shallow left field.  The left fielder didn’t see the ball. The shortstop back-peddled, circled and missed the ball.  Third base ump signaled the infield fly rule was in play and it was an out, even though the shortstop was in left field.  Not aware of the strange call, Odubel Herrrera took off from second for third base and was tagged out. Double play without a ball caught. End of a possible big inning for the Phillies.

Crew chief umpire Ted Barrett, “The criteria for an infield fly is a batted ball in the air that a fielder can field with ordinary effort.”  I guess I don’t understand ordinary effort.

Aaron Nola, at 22 years and 312 days old, became the youngest Phillies pitcher to start in the Phillies home opener since Robin Roberts, 22 years, 205 days, on April 23, 1949 vs. Brooklyn.  Nola took the loss.  In two starts, he’s allowed five runs and 11 hits in 14 innings while walking none and striking out 17.

The 2-5 Phillies have yet to reach double figures in hits. Their .233 batting average ranks 14th in the NL and they’ve drawn 12 walks, the fewest. On-base percentage of .275 is last. Offense needs to get in gear.

Lens Gem

A home opener tradition at Citizens Bank Park has the Phillies entering the park in left field, walking down temporary steps onto the field.  Last two in the parade fittingly were Ruiz and Howard.

Minor League Report
Tweet last evening from Matt Provence, Lehigh Valley’s Director of Media Relations/Broadcaster, says it all, “Well, IronPigs rained out at Rochester Red Wings. Doubleheader tomorrow, 5:05 p.m.  5 days into the season and LV has yet to play in front of fans.”  IronPigs’ season-opening four-game series in Syracuse was postponed by bad weather.  Two teams played a Friday morning doubleheader in Lehigh Valley but the park was closed to fans . . . Zach Eflin and Mark Appel tonight.

Reading Fightin’ Phils pinned 8-5 loss on Richmond. SS J.P. Crawford, 3-5, 2 R, 2B, RBI. C Jorge Alfaro, 2-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI. WP: Anthony Vasquez (1-0), 7-6-2-2-0-6 . . . Alec Asher tonight vs. Richmond, 6:35.

Clearwater Threshers won third in a row, 4-3, over Port Charlotte. 1B Kyle Martin, 3rd HR in last 3 games. 3B Mitch Walding, 2nd HR. WP: Tyler Viza (1-0), 5.2-4-3-2-0-3. SV: Miiguel Munoz (1) . . . Will Morris tonight vs. PC, 7.

Lakewood BlueClaws lost, 4-3, at Hagerstown before a crowd of 264 fans. CF Jiandido Tromp, 2nd HR. Mitch Gueller tonight at Hagerstown, 6:05.

Vintage Gem

00 flagraising
Phillies’ coach Hans Lobert and Boston coach Hank Gowdy raise the American flag as part of the Opening Day ceremonies at Baker Bowl on April 14, 1936. Phillies won, 4-1, in a game that took 1 hour, 45 minutes to play.  Attendance: 9,000. Photo courtesy of Bob Warrington.

This Date
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.

Wrote Monday the Phillies were 2-10 in home openers in the history of Citizens Bank Park. I blew it as they were 3-9.  Error: fingers or brain?


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