Hellickson Masterpiece


The Phillies and Nationals have played five times.  Washington has out-scored the Phillies, 22-12.  The Phillies have beaten them three straight times to take a 3-2 series lead.

00 Hellickson (2)

Jeremy Hellickson was masterful in allowing only two hits to a tough Washington lineup.  Seven innings is his longest outing of the season and eight strike outs are a season high. He threw 92 pitches, 50 for strikes.

In three road starts, Hellickson has a sparkling 0.96 ERA and .127 opponent’s batting average allowed. Since the National League started recording earned runs in 1912, only one other Phillies pitcher has had an ERA and opponent’s batting average as low over his first three road starts of a season: Dick Ruthven (0.76 ERA, .127 BA) in 1979. (Elias Sports Bureau).

Hecter Neris and Jeanmar Gomez retired all six Nationals to complete the 3-0 shutout, the Phillies fourth, matching the Cubs for the most in the NL.

A sacrifice fly, throwing error by the third baseman and home run accounted for the Phillies three runs.

00 Ruiz

Carlos Ruiz hit the homer, his third this season which is one more than he hit all last year.  It was his seventh at Nationals Park, tying Turner Field for his favorite enemy park. At 37 years of age, Chooch is the oldest Phillies catcher to hit a home run since Tim McCarver in 1979.  Tim was also 37.

With Charlie Morton finished for the season, Hellickson, at age 29, is the oldest starter in the Phillies rotation . . . Herrera had five walks last April and 21 this April.  Most he’s had in pro ball is 39, 2009 in the Dominican Summer League for the Rangers . . . Raul Ibanez has joined ESPN TV . . . Phillies return home on an AMTRAK charter train after today’s game. Interleague play begins with a three-game weekend series against the Cleveland Indians tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park.

Minor League Report
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (11-9), 2nd place, International League North Division.
Blanked Scranton, 2-0, behind Zach Eflin, Colton Murray and Edward Mujica. WP: Eflin (2-0), 6.1-4-0-0-1-6; lowered ERA to 2.05. SV: Mujica (6). DH Tommy Joseph, 4th HR. Hitting streaks: SS Taylor Featherson (15 games); LF Cam Perkins (12) . . . Not scheduled today . . . Mark Appel (3-0, 1.62), 7:05 Friday night vs. Buffalo.

Reading Fightin’ Phils (13-7), 2nd place, Eastern League East Division.
Coasted over Akron, 11-2. WP Anthony Vasquez (4-0), 7-6-2-2-1-4. RF Dylan Cozens, 2 R, 2B (6), HR (5), 3 RBI, 3 BB, SB. Other HR: 3B Harold Martinez (2); C Logan Moore (1). SS J.P. Crawford, 1B, 2 R, 2 BB . . . Not scheduled today.

Clearwater Threshers (14-6), 1st place, Florida State League North Division.
Blasted Daytona, 14-2, scoring 12 runs on 11 hits in the 6th inning. WP: Matt Imhoff (2-1), 6-4-1-1-5-7.  DH Scott Kingery, HR (1), 3 R, RBI, BB. 3B Mitch Walding, 2b, HR (6), 3 RBI; tied for the FSL lead in HR. 2B Drew Stankiewicz, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI. 1B Kyle Martin, 3 H, 2 R, 2 RBI; has reached base in 13 straight games . . . John Richy makes his season debut, 7:05 tonight in Daytona.

Lakewood BlueClaws (4-16), 7th place, South Atlantic League North Division.
Lost, 3-2, to Charleston. ND: Steve Watson, 7-3-1-1-1-5. PH Sam Hiciano, HR (2) . . . Luke Leftwich, 6:35 tonight vs. Charleston.

This Date
April 28, 1991– Tony Gwynn hits into the first triple play at the Vet. With runners on first and second, Gwynn lined out to Randy Ready at second. Ready stepped on the bag for the second out, but instead of tagging the runner coming from first, he threw to Ricky Jordan who recorded the last out at the bag. (broadandpattison.com)

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

**This 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

Scoreless Bullpen

After a rough start to the season, the bullpen is settling in.  Starter Vince Velasquez allowed three runs in his six innings and then the pen closed the door.  David Hernandez, Hector Neris and Jeanmar Gomez combined for three scoreless innings, two hits, two walks and five strikeouts.   Bryce Harper, who homered against Gomez nine days ago, ended the game with a weak grounder to Maikel Franco.

Gomez is now five-for-five in save opportunities.  He also has two wins so he’s been involved in seven of the Phillies 10 victories.

00 Blanco

Andres Blanco, starting at shortstop, had a single, double, homer, two runs scored and two RBI.  There isn’t a better extra player in the league.  He’s also a mentor to the young Latino players on the club.  He’s a plus is so many ways.

Maikel Franco has driven in a run in four straight games . . . Odubel Herrera has reached base in 17 consecutive games. He has 19 walks and 19 hits . . . Cesar Hernandez is 6-12 on the trip . . . Phillies are 4-1 since they moved the pitcher into the eighth spot in the batting order . . . Max Scherzer’s last loss to the Phillies was in 2008.

Minor League Report
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (10-9), tie 2nd place, International League North Division.
Lost, 4-3, to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on a passed ball in the 10th inning by C Andrew Knapp, who hit his 3rd HR earlier in the game. SS Taylor Featherston extended his hitting streak to 14 games with his 1st HR.  It tied the game in the top of the 9th. DH Cameron Perkins extended his hitting streak to 11 games . . . Zach Eflin (2-0), 6:35 tonight in Scranton.

Reading Fightin’ Phils (12-7), 2nd place, Eastern League East Division.
Lost, 5-2, to Akron.  2B Jesmuel Valentin, 3-4, RBI; 8-15 in last 4 games. ND: Ricardo Pinto, 6-6-2-2-0-1 . . . Anthony Vasquez (3-0), 6:35 tonight vs. Akron.

Clearwater Threshers (13-6), 1st place, Florida State League North Division.
6-game winning streak ended, 6-3, in Daytona. 2B Scott Kingery, 1B, 6th 2B, R, BB. RF Herlis Rodriquez, 1B, 2B, 2 RBI.  ND: Tom Eshelman, 6-8-3-3-3-5 . . . Matt Imhoff (1-1) starts in the 10:35 a.m. today at Daytona.

Lakewood BlueClaws (4-14), 7th place, South Atlantic League North Division.
Lost to Charleston, 7-4, in 11 innings.  ND: Tyler Gilbert, 5-6-1-1-2-6. SS Emmanuel Marrero is 7-12 in last 2 games. 1B Wilson Garcia had his 3rd straight 2-hit game . . .
Shane Watson (1-1), 11:05 this morning vs. Charleston

Clearwater: RHR Jario Munoz on DL with right elbow strain . . . RHR Miguel Nunez promoted to Reading . . . RHR Ulises Joaquin, assigned from Reading . . . INF Derek Campbell and RHS John Richy assigned from extended spring training.

Reading: C Greg Brodzinski assigned from extended spring training.

Lakewood: OF Damek Tomscha assigned from Clearwater . . . RHR Luis Morales and RHR Kenny Koplove assigned from extended . . . OF Cornelius Randolph on DL with left shoulder strain.

This Date

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Kevin Millwood, center, reacts as he is congratulated by teammates after pitching a no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants Sunday, April 27, 2003 in Philadelphia. The Philles won 1-0. (AP Photo)

April 27, 2003–RHP Kevin Millwood pitches ninth no-hitter in Phillies history, 1-0, over the Giants at Veterans Stadium.  CF Ricky Ledee homers in the first inning and catches the final out.

April 27, 2014–SS Jimmy Rollins and 2B Chase Utley play in their 1,090th game, the most for any SS-2B combo in major league history.

Follow me at twitter: @ShenkLarry

Did You Know?

The Phillies have had the starting pitcher bat eighth in the order for the last four games and the offense scored 25 runs.

The Phillies are 9-10, the same record the 2008 team had after 19 games.

Maikel Franco was 15 years of age when the Phillies won the World Championship in 2008.

Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez were both signed out of Venezuela by Sal Agostinelli and Jesus Mendez on July 2, 2006.

Freddy and Cesar became parents of a baby girl in 2014.

Ryan Howard played the trombone in his high school band.

Odubel Herrera was a standout volleyball player as a prep student.

Vincent Velasquez missed his second pro season (2011) recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Cameron Rupp’s dad, Kevin, pitched in the Montreal Expos organization, 1977-79.

Peter Bourjos’ father, Chris, is a scout for the San Diego Padres covering professional teams.

Aaron Nola’s brother, Austin, is an infielder with Miami’s AAA team, New Orleans.

Tyler Goeddel’s brother, Erik, is a pitcher with the Mets’ AAA team, Las Vegas.

Reading catcher Jorge Alfaro’s younger brother, Jhoandro, is catcher with the White Sox AZL rookie team.

Minor League Honors (April 18-24). 

00 Lively
Pitcher – RHP Ben Lively, Reading…Lively, 24, was named the Pitcher of the Week in the Phillies Minor Leagues, Eastern League and MiLB.com combining for 13.0 scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts in his 2 starts. He held Richmond to just 2 hits over 7.0 innings on April 18, and then struck out 6 over 6.0 scoreless frames in his next start against New Hampshire. Lively allowed only 6 total hits and did not walk a batter in either outing. He has struck out 27 batters and walked 2 in his 24.0 innings this season. Lively was acquired from Cincinnati in exchange for outfielder Marlon Byrd and cash considerations on December 31, 2014, and was originally selected by the Reds in the fourth round of the June 2013 Draft.

00 Joseph

Player: 1B Tommy Joseph, Lehigh Valley…The 24-year-old Joseph batted .450 (9-20) for the IronPigs with 3 doubles, 2 home runs, 5 RBI and a .900 slugging percentage over 6 games. He is now batting .385 (15-39) this season with 8 extra-base hits (5 2B, 3 HR), which is tied for third-most in the International League. Joseph was acquired from San Francisco along with 2 other players in the July 31, 2012 trade that sent outfielder Hunter Pence to the Giants. He was originally selected by the Giants in the second round of the June 2009 draft.

Minor League Report
Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (10-8), 2nd place, International League North Division.
Dropped 5-2 decision at Scranton. LP: Jake Thompson (1-3), 5-8-5-5-0-6. DH Tommy Joseph, 2-3, RBI, lifting average to .405. CF Nick Williams extended his hitting streak to 5 games with 1st AAA home run; batting .476 with 5 runs and 6 RBI in the streak . . . Adam Morgan (0-1), 6:35 tonight in Scranton.

Reading Fightin’ Phils (12-6), 2nd place, Eastern League East Division.
Defeated Akron, 7-4. ND: Nick Pivetta, 5-2-2-2-4-4; WP: Severino Gonzalez (2-0); SV: Edubray Ramos (5). DH Jake Fox, 5th HR, 3 RBI. 2B Jesmuel Valentin, 1B, 2B, R, RBI, SB. RF Aaron Brown, 1B, 3B, RBI . . . Ricardo Pinto (0-1), 6:35 tonight vs. Akron.

Clearwater Threshers (13-5), 1st place, Florida State League North Division.
Return to action at 7:05 tonight in Daytona; Tom Eshelman (1-1) to start.

More honors: Eshelman was named the MiLB.com Pitcher of the Week in the Florida State League. In 1 start, 7 innings, 2 hits, 1 run, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts.  His season WHIP of 0.53 is the lowest for any Hi Class A pitchers. Teammate Elniery Garcia is fourth, 0.98.

Lakewood BlueClaws (4-14), 7th place, South Atlantic League North Division.
Back home at 6:35 tonight to take on Charleston, Tyler Gilbert (0-2) to start.

OF Cedric Hunter has been outrighted off the 40-man roster.

This Date
April 26, 1980–LHP Steve Carlton sets modern NL record with sixth one-hitter, 7-0, over St. Louis. C Ted Simmons, a lead-off single in the second inning.

Book Excerpt
The following is taken from the foreword written by Larry Andersen for my book, The  Fightin’ Phillies:
“Although I’m not exactly an astute historian, I do have a memory and cannot figure out why I’m not at least mentioned in the chapter of Unbreakable Records. Consider this, 699 major league games and only one start. Or, my five career hits giving me a lifetime .364 career average, better than even Tony Gwynn. I just make the numbers work for me, for example 11 years in the National League and hits in four of those years. 4 for 11, do the math. And all that with bruised knees from shaking against each other every time I stepped in the box. Or how about the most seasons with one at bat or less? Ineptitude at its best. I often used philosophy to help me get over my nervousness which leads me to one final question… Why are they singing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” when they’re already there?”

Follow me at twitter: @ShenkLarry

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.”


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