May 2006

Bubble bursts

The nine-game bubble burst, not in gut-wrenching style but an old-fashioned whooping.

Aided by three Phillies errors in the first three innings, the Mets scored 10 times in those innings to coast to a 13-4 victory. 

Only consolation for the Phillies, it only counts as one loss.  Odds were against the Phillies going 31-0 this month.

The Mets’ early explosion took the 30,269 Phillies fans out of the game.  Yes, there were occasional noises from New York fans.  Which brings up one of Mike Schmidt’s great lines, “Why do Mets fans say, ‘Let’s go Mets’ and the Phillies fans say, ‘booooo?’”

Five hours before game time, the ballpark was rather quiet and empty, except for some activity on the field.  Aaron Rowan and Shane Victorino were racing remote control, all-terrain vehicles in the outfield grass.  Boys will be boys.  Shortly thereafter, four Mets came out for early hitting.  Three members of the ground crew were hosing down the center field fence.  Pollen or dust or both.

Major League Baseball regulations state that clubhouses shall open to the media three and one-half hours prior to game time (3:35 p.m. for a 7:05 night game).  As has been the case during this home stand, there were plenty of writers, broadcasters and TV crews.  They all made a beeline to Ryan Madson’s locker to get his reaction about going back to the bullpen.

The first locker inside the clubhouse door on the right side was empty. The red and white nameplate said #35 Cole Hamels.  In order to make it convenient for Cole and the media, the media was informed that he would be available to the masses at 6 o’clock in the media room.

Hamels walked into a big league clubhouse for the first time at 3:44 p.m. and TV cameras focused on him as he dropped his equipment bag and began to open it.  “Get a haircut,” blurted Brett Myers.  Other teammates followed with the same needle.  After a few minutes, TV camera crews were asked to allow Cole to get dressed.  Stretching on the field began at 4:20.  A rookie should never be late.

The beat goes on

The beat and the buzz goes on.  On this 9th day of May, the Phillies pulled out their 9th straight win in the bottom of the last inning on a bizarre play in a game that rocked.  The atmosphere felt like a playoff game.

There’s electricity in Citizens Bank Park and not just the light towers.

Brett Myers, who is headed to his first All-Star team, was facing a future Hall of Famer in Pedro Martinez.  Young and strong vs. experienced and wise.

Three runs in the second by the Phillies stood up until Myers was touched for a two-run homer by Xavier Nady in the 8th.  In the bottom of that inning, pinch runner Shane Victorino scored from first on a Ryan Howard two-out double into the right field corner.  Victorino lowered his left shoulder and bowled over Paul Lo Duca to give the Phillies a 4-2 pad.   Andy Reid of the Eagles would have been proud of Victorino’s bone-jarring hit.

Tom Gordon proved he is human by yielding a two-run, game-tying, 410-foot homer to Carlos Delgado in the ninth.  Going into that at-bat, Delgado was just 2 for 30 against Gordon.  The blown save was the first for Gordon after 10 straight.

That half inning had a strange ending when the on-deck pinch hitter Julio Franco was ejected after Kazuo Matsui was called out on strikes.  Franco, in the on-deck circle, complained and was ejected by home plate umpire Doug Eddings.  At 47 years of age, Franco may have entered the record book as the oldest player to be ejected.

The last of the ninth had a strange but happy ending for the Phillies.  With two out pinch hitter Dave Dellucci tripled into the right field corner.  Jimmy Rollins was hit by a pitch and Chase Utley drew a walk against reliever Aaron Heilman to load the bases.

Ahead in the count, 2-1, Bobby Abreu and hit a little dribbler that traveled about 15 feet.  Heilman picked up the ball with his bare hand and threw wildly at first base.  A win on a walk-off error.  Take it!

“I was just trying to make contact,” said a smiling Abreu in a post-game TV interview.  “I got it off the end of the bat and ran.  I didn’t know what happened until I saw the ball going past first base.”

Charlie Manuel, in going to the post-game media interview room, couldn’t get in the room.  “We win a game and I get locked out,” he chuckled.

As was the case each day during the weekend series against the Giants, fans gobbled up tickets the day of the game.  Over 9,500 tickets were sold on Tuesday, pushing the final figure to 33,787.   

Which brings up a commercial.  Game two is Wednesday night.  Tom Glavine, 24-16 lifetime vs. the Phillies against Cory Lidle, 4-1 in his career vs. the Mets.

The advance sale for the game is 22,000.  A reminder, tickets can be printed at home if you buy tickets online or through the phone center.  The latter is a recently added fan-friendly feature provided by the Phillies.  Printing tickets at home means shorter reservation lines at the ticket windows.  Of course, you need a computer to print tickets.  You probably figured that out.

Minor League Notes

Players of the Week (May 1-7)
Pitcher: LHP Cole Hamels, Scranton/Wilkes Barre Red Barons (see below).
Player:  OF Peter Bergeron, Reading Phillies: batted .407 in 7 games, 11 hits and 7 RBI.  A left-handed hitter, Bergeron was signed as a minor league free agent last December. 

Scranton/Wilkes—Barre Red Barons
LHP Cole Hamels repeated as the International League Pitcher of the Week: 1-0 for 2 starts, 0.56 ERA, 22 SO in 16 IP, allowing 1 run.  The Tuesday win in Richmond was his first ever complete game.  “Dominated the game and made it look easy” reported pitching coach Rod Nichols.  Of the top 9 strikeout games in SWB franchise history, Hamels owns 2 in 3 starts;  His overall 0.39 ERA and 65 strikeouts lead all minor league pitchers . . . LHP Eude Brito retired 12 of the last 13 hitters he faced in winning his third straight . . . Three LHP, Brito, Hamels and Matt White are a combined 7-4, 1.93 ERA . . . White lost twice during the week despite allowing only 3 ER in 13 IP . . . INF Danny Sandoval has hit in 14-straight games . . . RHP Brian Sanches has retired 28 consecutive batters, a SWB record  . . . CF Chris Robertson batted .345 for the week with 4 RBI, 2 steals . . . INF Bobby Scales, SWB’s leading hitter at .408, is still on the DL with an abdominal injury from April 23 . . . RHP Yoel Hernandez is Clearwater rehabbing his strained Latissimus Dorsi muscle on the right side of his back.   He’s expected to be out 4-6 weeks.

Reading Phillies
RHP Nick Mattioni, a Reading native signed as a minor league free agent last December, saved 3 of Reading’s 4 wins . . . John Castellano, signed as a minor league free agent on April 17, extended his overall hitting streak to 17 games (7 last week in Reading and 10 previous games in Lakewood).  He was named the Eastern League Player of the Week . . . RHP Scott Mathieson had a no-decision on Friday but hit his first professional home run . . . CF Michael Bourn has scored in 6 consecutive games and 12 of his last 13.  4 steals boosted his season total to 14 without being caught . . . Tomorrow, Reading plays its fifth annual 9:35 a.m. game designed to accommodate second and third shift workers as well as Senior Citizens. Ironically, tomorrow is National Shift Workers Day.  During the first such game in 2002, manager Greg Legg was ejected at 9:44 a.m., believed to be the earliest ejection in baseball history.  Average attendance for the previous four years is 7,262.

Clearwater Threshers
RHP Joe Bisenius, a reliever, picked up 2 of Clearwater’s 3 wins, 0 runs in a combined 5 innings in which he allowed 4 hits and struck out 6 . . . 3B Mike Castanzo had a 3-for-4 game that included a grand slam and 6 RBI against Tampa on Thursday . . . RHP Zach Segovia won his third straight game that same day.  He leads the Florida State League with 42.2 innings pitched . . . 2B Peeter Ramos batted .348 for the week.

Lakewood BlueClaws
RHP Kyle Kendrick and LHP Matt Maloney each picked up their third win of the season.  They rank 1-2 in the South Atlantic League in strikeouts, 48 and 45, respectively . . . Lakewood’s staff leads the SAL with 6 shutouts . . . 1B Clay Harris had 2 doubles, 2 HR and 6 RBI for the week . . . 7,449 were on hand Sunday when the BlueClaws played a 9-inning game against Hagerstown after finishing a suspended game of April 26.  Tied at 7-7 after 17 innings, the game was suspended because of a curfew rule in Minor League Baseball (no new inning can start after 12:30 a.m.).   1B-DH John Urick drew a bases-loaded walk in the 22nd inning giving the BluleClaws an 8-7 win, the longest game in SAL history which dates back to 1904.  The marathon took 7 hours, 47 minutes . . . Closer Andrew Barb picked up 3 saves, boosting his season total to 5.  He has 10 consecutive scoreless innings going into this week.  During the streak he’s given up 5 hits while striking out 8.

Bonds hits 713th; Phillies get another W

Do you consider yourself a home run hitter?  Barry Bonds, speaking to the media post-game, paused and said, “I’ve hit 713.”

Yes, 713 is in the record books.  It came with two out in the sixth inning off Jon Lieber tonight in an ESPN Sunday Night telecast.  The count was 2-1 and Lieber threw a sinker.  Bonds took that picture swing of his and hit a towering drive toward right-center.  The ball glanced off the McDonald’s sign that is mounted on the third deck in right field and wound into the hands of a fan seated in Section 202, Row 7, Seat 24, Carlos Oliveras, a 25-year-old from Puerto Rico.

When asked about the blast estimated at 450 feet, Charlie Manuel said, “I got to see it.  Barry went after the golden arches.”

The big clock in left field read 9:41,  p.m. that is.  Bonds would have a chance to tie Babe Ruth in his next at-bat, one out in the eighth with a runner on first base.  Aaron Fultz, a former Bonds teammate in San Francisco, swung and fouled off the first pitch.  The next pitch was ball one.  Then a swing and a miss followed by another ball.  Fultz threw a change up and Bonds missed it.  That same clock read 10:40 p.m.  59 minutes after hitting 713, Bonds had a shot at 714.

Following that strikeout, many of the 39,315 fans began filing out. 

After the game, Bonds faced the media in the Media Room on the Service Level at Citizens Bank Park.  He politely and quietly answered questions for over 30 minutes, sprinkling in some humor at times.  He admitted all of the attention is a little draining and credited his mother who flew to Philadelphia for the last two games of the series for “helping me get my head on straight.”  Who did most of the talking? “She did.”

When asked how he ranked Philadelphia fans, he replied, “This was light.  This was nothing.  L. A. is worse.”

Leslie Gudel of Comcast SportsNet questioned Barry, “You hit #13 in Philadelphia and #713 here.  What changed?”  Bonds smiled and said, “A 7”.

Bonds is gone from Philadelphia, perhaps forever.  The homerun countdown moves to San Francisco where the Giants have a make-up game Monday night against the Houston Astros.  Bonds may not play depending upon how he feels following the coast-to-coast late night flight.

The attendance number included 8,000 tickets sold during the day.  The fans seemed louder than the first two games, both against Bonds and for the guys in the red hats.  They saw the Phillies bang their way to their eighth straight win, their longest streak since 1991.

  The Phillies have a day of rest on Monday before opening a three-game series against the New York Mets, owners of the best record in the league (21-10).
  After a slow start in April, the Phillies are four games behind the Mets.  Tuesday’s pitchers are Brett Myers and Pedro Martinez.  Plenty of good tickets are available.
  It should be interesting.  After all, there’s a common bond in Philly for Bonds and New York teams.

Seven in a row

The season’s third sellout was on hand as the Phillies won their seventh straight, their longest winning streak in three years.  More than 8,500 tickets out of 44,042 were sold yesterday.

The win moved the Phillies two games over .500.  They didn’t do that last year until June 4 (29-27)

Barry Bonds received a similar fan reception as Friday night but remains at 712 career homers.  In four at bats, he walked, grounded into a double play, flied to left and singled to left in the eighth.   Steve Finley followed with a grounder toward Ryan Howard.  Bonds jumped to get out of the way but was hit by the batted ball for the first out.   

When Bonds bats, the Phillies put on a shift, moving SS Jimmy Rollins to the right side of second base with 3B David Bell stationed at shortstop. Twice Bonds grounded into unusual double plays, 3-5-4 on Friday night and 6-5-3 tonight.

The Phillies were out-hit, 11-6, but they turned four double plays, three behind winner Ryan Madson.  Chase Utley had two of the hits, a homer and an RBI double.  It was the first homer he has hit this season with no one on base.

Carlos Ruiz made his major league debut behind the plate for the Phillies.  Randy Winn singled to start the game but was gunned down by Ruiz trying to steal second base.  “He’s got a great arm.  That play probably settled him down, got rid of the butterflies,” said Charlie Manuel post-game. 

The series ends with an ESPN Sunday Night telecast, 8:05 game time.  ESPN will use 20 cameras, including sky-cam.  The network crew totals 97 persons plus four voices, Jon Miller, Joe Morgan, Peter Gammons and Sam Ryan.

The advance sale for the game is 31,500, meaning plenty of good seats are available for perhaps Bonds’ last game ever in Philadelphia.

Friday note:  The four homers by the right side of the Phillies infield (Utley 2, Ryan Howard 2), was the first for the Phillies since June 8, 1989, when 1B Von Hayes and 2B Steve Jeltz each hit a pair.  Jeltz became the first Phillies player ever to homer from each side of the plate in the same game.  The only other time it happened in Phillies history was July 13, 1896 when 1B Ed Delahanty hit 4. 

Sixth straight win

Friday night…Sixth Straight Win

The buzz of Barry Bonds coming to town carrying 712 homers on his resume was very evident this day.  Over 1,700 tickets were sold after midnight Thursday, mostly on  From 4:00 pm. through the game, another 3,500 tickets were sold.  Barry received plenty of vocal noise (mostly the word boo) from the 37,269 fans but the crowd certainly behaved well, contrary to what some newspaper writers and radio talkers thought would happen. 

Additional security and a well-organized security plan were devised by the Phillies for the weekend.  In some of the security stories during the week, the Phillies said syringes would not be allowed inside Citizens Bank Park.   The Phillies received quite a few phone calls from diabetics, who were concerned because syringes are needed for their insulin shots.  Everyone with a health need was assured syringes would be allowed.

Other than a post-season game, the media turnout was the biggest for one event since 1981 when Pete Rose was going after Stan Musial’s all-time National League record at Veterans Stadium.  That game on August 10 took on other significance because it was the first game following a 55-game player strike.  Friday’s media numbers included 200 writers, radio broadcasters and TV crews plus 36 still photographers.  Toss in another 11 robotic cameras that were attached to various railings. 

During the week, the Phanatic received an e-mail from a fan suggesting the Phillies mascot wear a Babe Ruth jersey.    It was an interesting suggestion but one the organization kindly rejected.

Seven home runs were hit in the Phillies 8-3 win, but Bonds was hitless in three at-bats plus an intentional walk.  The home run parade was led by Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, each of whom hit a pair of homers: estimated at 425 feet, 418 feet, 415 feet and 428 feet.  Aaron Rowand hit the Phillies’ fifth, but it “only” traveled an estimated 396 feet.

       Early Friday morning the Phillies received a batch of authenticated baseballs that were to be used for all of Bonds’ at-bats.  Only one made it into the stands….Bobby Abreu threw it into the stands after Bonds hit a foul ball to right in his final at-bat.
       Major League Baseball also brought in some resident agents (security) from New York.  Ironically, one was named Bobby Bonds, the same name as Barry’s late father. 

Here Comes Barry

Barry Bonds is coming to town creating a buzz as he continues his climb toward becoming the number two man in baseball home run history.

The weekend series with the Giants tops off with an ESPN Sunday Night Baseball telecast with Jon Miller and Joe Morgan.  Not only will fans in Philly be tuned in, but the entire country will be watching.

Barry carries some baggage but he also carries numbers that are mind-boggling.  He’s more than just a home run hitter.  He’s a hitting machine.

And, a walking machine.  No one in baseball history has drawn more walks, over 2,300.  Since first base is 90 feet from home plate, Barry’s walked over 207,000 feet.

Two years ago, he was walked intentionally 120 times out of 232 walks, both major league records.  To put that into perspective, Mike Schmidt spent 18 years in a Phillies uniform and holds the Phillies career record for most intentional walks, 202.

The 41-year-old Bonds has seven MVP trophies in his possession.  Among the four major sports, only the great Wayne Gretzky has more, nine.

During the first seven years of his career the Phillies saw a lot more of Barry because he was in a Pittsburgh uniform.  He left his calling card at Veterans Stadium with 27 home runs, most by any visiting player.

The Vet was also the place where he hit two of his milestone homers: #200 on July 8, 1993 off Jose DeLeon and #250, July 18, 1994, off Shawn Boskie.

Going into this weekend, he’s played three games at Citizens Bank Park.  Combined, he is 2-for-4, one home run, two RBI, three runs and six walks.

To date, the most historic home run that was hit at Citizens Bank Park was Jim Thome’s 400th, June 14, 2004, off Cincinnati’s Jose Acevedo.  Ken Griffey was sitting on 499 that same day but he sat out because the Reds played at home the next day.

Hank Aaron’s 400th home run came at Connie Mack Stadium, April 20, 1966, off LHP Bo Belinsky.  Aaron later got his 700th against the Phillies’ Ken Brett, July 21, 1973 in Atlanta’s Fulton County Stadium.

Barry will mean more tickets sold this weekend, a greater security presence and more media.   The media calls began on Monday, Reuters, Washington Post, Toronto Globe and Mail, Boston Globe, Chicago Sun-Times, Denver Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Post, New York Times, Newsday, San Diego Union Tribune, St. Louis Post Dispatch, Toronto Sun, USA Today, Sports Illustrated,, CSB,, Bonds on Bonds TV show, Major League Baseball Productions, just to name a few.  Radio and TV networks have been calling.  San Francisco media will be sending more than the usual one beat writer. 

It should be interesting.

Minor League Notes

Players of the Week (April 24-30)
Pitcher: LHP Cole Hamels, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, made his AAA debut a week ago in Norfolk, fanning 14 in 7 shutout innings.  The 22-year-old from San Diego, CA, was the Phillies first round selection in June 2002.   Going into this afternoon’s start at Richmond, Hamels has given up 2 home runs in his 179.0 minor league innings. 
Player: 3B Brennan King, SWB.  For the week, he batted .542 (13-24) with a homer and 3 RBI.  He was signed as a minor league free agent last fall.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons
Loss on Wednesday ended the Red Barons’ club record 10-game winning streak . . . Won 14 of last 17 games in April to finish with a club-record 16-8 for the month . . . RHP Chris Booker made is AAA debut on Wednesday, 3 strikeouts in 1 inning . . . Hamels set a SWB record for LHP with his 14 strikeouts. He allowed a pair of one-out scratch singles in the first inning and then fanned 6 in a row.  His performance earned him the International League Pitcher of the Week.  Hamels’ 43 total strikeouts leads all minor league pitchers . . . C Carlos Ruiz was hit by a pitch in that game and missed the next 2 games.  RHP Yoel Hernandez, leading SWB with 6 saves, left the same game with a strained Latissimus Dorsi muscle on the right side of his back . . . RHP Brian Sanches stepped in as the closer and picked up 2 saves in 3 scoreless outings . . . Ruiz hit .500 for the week (4 games), boosting his average to .403, tops in the league.  His .701 slugging percentage also leads the IL . . . LHP Eude Brito was 1-0 for 2 starts, 12 total IP, 8 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 6 SO . . . 2B Joe Thurston has a team-high 12-game hitting streak going into this week . . . 3B Brennan King hit in all 6 games . . . 1B-C Chris Coste drove in 4 runs while wearing #10; he switched to #67 last week and collected 6 RBI.

Reading Phillies
Starting pitching has been the force for Reading, who went 4-2 for the week . . . In the last 7 games, starters have a 0.95 ERA for 47.1 innings . . . Leading the way is RHP Scott Mathieson, the Eastern League Pitcher of the Week: 2-0, 2 runs in 14 innings with 18 strikeouts.  His 37 strikeouts lead the EL . . . LHP Gio Gonzalez (6.1 innings) and LHP Brian Mazone (7 innings) turned in shutout outings . . . CF Michael Bourn, hit safely in all 6 games (.375).  He leads the league with 17 runs scored . . . Sunday’s game with Harrisburg drew 9,246, a Reading all-time record for a Sunday and an April game.

Clearwater Phillies
Tough week, 1-6 record with six straight losses carrying into this week.  Two of the losses came in the ninth inning; the sixth in 14 innings . . . Starting pitchers fared well . . . LHP James Happ gave up no earned runs in 2 outings, a total of 12 innings, during which he fanned 12.  His season ERA was lowered from 4.32 to 2.51 . . . LHP Derek Griffith suffered a loss in 2 starts, but lowered his ERA to 1.71 . . . RHP Zach Segovia had a no decision in 1 start, 8 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 5 SO. His 35.2 innings are the most in the FSL.

Lakewood BlueClaws
RHP Kyle Kendrick got the week started on Monday with 8 shutout innings at Delmarva.  He recorded 10 ground ball outs and 9 strikeouts.  On this day, Reading’s Scott Mathieson, Clearwater’s James Happ and Kendrick combined for 22 innings, 1 earned run and 27 strikeouts . . . Kendrick’s streak of 19.1 consecutive scoreless innings ended on Friday . . . LF Jimmy Slayden and RHP Aaron Rawl joined Lakewood from extended spring training and paid dividends in their first game with the BlueClaws on Friday.  Slayden homered and Rawl hurled 3 shutout relief innings in saving a 5-4 win over Hagerstown . . . RHP Andrew Barb picked up 2 saves in 4 relief innings . . . LHP Matt Maloney pitched 6 scoreless innings to pick up a 1-0 win on Sunday, Lakewood’s league-leading fifth shutout . . . 3B John Castellano was 13-for-24 for the week, extending his hitting streak to all 10 games since being signed as a minor league free agent last month.  His production earned him a promotion to Reading.