September 2008

Just 1 Loss

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss
Utley, 2b
Werth, rf
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Victorino, cf
Dobbs, 3b
Ruiz, c
Blanton, p

Just 1 Loss
The red-hot Marlins did a number on us last night.  Brett had a strange game.  He gave up five runs without retiring a batter in the first inning, retired 12 of the next 13 and didn’t get another out as the Marlins hit him with another 5-spot.

We got pasted but the good news, it is only l setback.  Yes, we slipped from the top spot to second place and now are the wild card leaders by 2.  Eight more games to go from our end: Marlins 2, Braves 3, Nationals 3.  The Mets: Braves 2, Cubs 4, Marlins 3.

Time for revenge.  Our 7-game winning streak was wiped out, now we can end the Marlins’ 9-gamer tonight.

Hot Marlins Next

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss
Utley, 2b
Werth, rf
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Victorino, cf
Dobbs, 3b
Coste, c
Myers, p

Patience Pays Off
Knowing what Pat Burrell has meant to the team, Charlie has stuck with him while the left fielder has been scuffling.

Charlie’s patience paid off last night when Hampton’s high fastball was hit high out of the park for a two-run, game-decisive homer by Pat.  Number 250 in his Phillies career, trailing only Del Ennis (259) and Michael Jack Schmidt (548).

As Charlie has pointed out, Pat’s bat was red-hot up until the All-Star game and he was a force during the first half.

If Pat warms up, it would be a huge lift.  Getting hot now is certainly the right time of the year.

Cole wasn’t sharp and threw 103 pitches in six innings but he ended up with the club’s 83rd quality start, which is the second-best total in the NL, Rich Hofmann of the Daily News noted in his blog:

Pesky Fish
Following last night’s win, the Phillies’ charter flight took them to Miami.  I can imagine it was a very lively flight after sweeping the Braves.  Don’t want to get too carried away because we face the Braves again at home next week.

The Marlins are the hottest team in the majors, hotter than the Fightins’. They’ve won 8 in a row; we, 7 straight.  Florida’s last loss was to the Phillies on September 8.

Technically, the Marlins are still alive for postseason play.  This series is a big one for them, too.

Brett’s got the ball tonight.  Hasn’t fared that well at Dolphins Stadium (1-2, 5.06 ERA).  But, in his last 10 starts against the Fish, he’s 3-3, 3.86. He’s on a roll right now, the best stretch in his career.

Thanks, Thanks, Thanks reports Phillies Insider (#29) moved into the top 30 blogs as page view leaders for week of September 10-17. 

Even better news, Down the Line with Phillies Ballgirls ( climbed from #29 to #26.

Phillies Passion is growing.



Happ-y Ending

The kid from Peru (IL) came through. Yes, big time last night and.  The offense gave him a four-run cushion before he threw a pitch and the Phillies tacked on their sixth straight win.

You can read all you want about J. A. Happ and his outing on this site and other media outlets.

For a different perspective, Phillies Insider contacted Rod Nichols, Happ’s pitching coach the last three seasons in the minor leagues.

Rod makes his home in Helena, MT, which is 2,113 miles from Atlanta.  Was the professor able to watch the pupil?

“Didn’t miss a pitch,” Rod said enthusiastically.  “We don’t have cable TV out here in the mountains.  But, we have direct TV and I can watch the Phillies games.

“It was a lot of fun watching Jay pitch.”  Laughing, he added “My wife (Sharon) thought something was wrong with me mentally because I got so excited when he threw a 3-2 cutter to Chipper.  When I saw that he trusted his cutter, I knew he would do well.  When you trust in your pitches, good things happen.”

J. A. had a tough year in 2007 but rebounded this year.  “He had a healthy arm this year,” quickly responded Rod.  “It was such a big difference.  Last year, he couldn’t do his side work or extra work.  He has a great work ethic and is very smart.  When talking to him about pitching, he will challenge you at times.  You better have a very logical, sound explanation for your beliefs.

“He was a real pleasure to work with this season. Needless to say, I’m rooting for him big time.”

Nichols, a 12-year pro pitcher with 7 years in the big leagues, has been a pitching coach in the Phillies system since 2000.  The 43-year-old doesn’t get to spend much time at home.  He reported to Clearwater in the middle of February and is home now for the winter.

“The Phillies are a great organization,” he volunteered.  “They give us some time off during the season to go home.  I actually saw much son play in a game and was able to make it for my daughter’s high school graduation.”

Riding buses, small clubhouses, long games, riding buses, numerous roster changes, small crowds….did I mention riding buses?   Guys like Rod put in long hours trying to develop players for the big leagues.  Highly important, but a no glamour job.

Seeing J. A. perform makes all those hours worthwhile.

The Phillies need a fifth starter again on Monday at home against the Braves.  Happ is a logical choice.  Rod will be tuned in again.

This Date
In Phillies history….
1963: LHP Chris Short beats Mets, 5-1, in the final game ever played in New York’s Polo Grounds.


Mr. September

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss
Utley, 2b
Werth, rf
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Victorino, cf
Feliz, 3b
Ruiz, c
Happ, p

WOW! What a game last night.

Ryan Howard is Mr. September.  Game-wining homer, a triple and two singles. Hard to believe he fell a double shy of the cycle.  Great defensive play by him saved more runs.  We need to keep the drive going so Ryan can challenge Reggie Jackson as Mr. October.

Another, Ryan, as in Madson, picked up the win with a great two innings.  He kept it close and wound up the winner.  Doesn’t matter who is the winning pitcher any more.  All that counts are team wins.

Brad did his Mitch Williams impression but escaped with a game-ending strikeout.  How many times did we see the Wild Thing do that.  Brad is 37-for-37 in saves this season.  That’s quite a feat. 

Has Ryan Howard entered the MVP picture?

Is Brad a candidate for the Cy Young Award?

How old is Bobby Wine?  I’m glad you asked.  He caught me today at 70.  I’m six days older but look much younger!

This Date
In Phillies history…….

2001 Scott Rolen hits two HR as Phillies defeat Braves, 5-2, before 27,290 at the Vet in first MLB game since September 11 terrorists attacks.  It was a night I’ll always remember.  The enthusiasm of the crowd was oh so electric.  I can still see tears streaming down the face of Larry Bowa during the playing of the National Anthem. Great game, but more importantly a night in which we all realized how great it is to be an American.



Road Trip Begins

Tonight’s Lineup
Rollins, ss
Utley, 2b
Werth, rf
Howard, 1b
Burrell, lf
Victorino, cf
Feliz, 3b
Ruiz, c
Moyer, p

Twelve more left on the schedule, the regular-season schedule that is.

Tonight, the first of a three-game set in Atlanta, where the Phillies are 6-0 this season.  Overall, we have a 10-2 edge over the Braves.

That record doesn’t mean diddly at this time of the year. Games aren’t played on paper.

The Braves are coming off 5 wins in their last 6 games, including 2 of 3 in New York over the weekend.  They are loose because they have nothing to lose.  Teams in these situations like nothing more than to knock off the big boys battling for the postseason.

So, expect a tough series.

This Date
In Phillies history….
1997 Curt Schilling fans Mets 3B Edgar Alfonso in fourth inning for his 300th strikeout as Phillies win, 3-2, at Veterans Stadium.  He became the 13th pitcher since 1900 to reach 300 strikeouts.

Wild Sunday

Sitting in his Citizens Bank Park office at the start of a tough 26-game stretch on August 19, Charlie Manuel said: “We just need to hang in there until September 15 and we’ll be in good shape.”

The next 26 games on the schedule  were against the Nationals (6), Dodgers (4), Mets (5), Cubs (4), Marlins (3) and Brewers (4).  No vacation games by any stretch of the imagination.

This morning, the Phillies were a game behind the Mets in the East and tied with the Brewers in the wild card thanks to a 17-9 record in those 26 games.

Yesterday’s sweep of Milwaukee was a day to remember:

**The Mets’ bullpen coughed up a 9th-inning lead that produced another loss.

**Five Phillies pitchers held the Brewers to seven hits and four runs in the DH sweep.

**Pitching on three days rest, Brett 2-hit the Brewers in a complete-game gem.

**J-Roll reached base 5 straight times in the second game.

**Shane had 5 consecutive hits, including a big 3-run homer in the first game.

**Pat broke out with a big, big RBI single in the first game and a towering homer in the second.

**Chase Utley laid down a sacrifice bunt.

**Rally towels produced a sea of white in the second game, bringing back memories of last year’s final games.

**The Astros and Phillies began the day tied for second in the wild card race.  Houston was no-hit by the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano in Milwaukee’s Miller Park. 

**Yes, because of hurricane Ike, Houston’s canceled home games (Saturday and Sunday) with the Cubs were shifted to Milwaukee, nearly 1,200 miles away.

**Milwaukee starts a huge three-game series in Wrigley Field tomorrow.  The Brewers are in Chicago today watching the Cubs play the Astros in Milwaukee. 

**The Phillies?  Packing day for a 6:15 p.m. charter flight to Atlanta.

The September Stampede continues.


Two Today

Cole, J-Roll and Ryan led the way in yesterday’s win.  Now, the stage is set for a day-night twinbill today. Both games will be televised on CW Philly 57.

Winning two games in one day is difficult, no matter the opponent.  There were five doubleheaders in MLB yesterday and only two were sweeps.

Cole, Brett and Jamie are going to get the bulk of the starts the rest of the way.  J-Roll has turned it on and Ryan is something special in September.  Jason has also contributed while Chase and Pat have been struggling.  If one of those two get going, look out.

After today, it is six with Atlanta and three each with Florida and Washington, evenly divided between home and road.  All three clubs would love to be spoilers for the Phillies. 

The September stampede continues toward the hunt for October baseball.  It doesn’t get any better than this.


Today’s Lineup
Rollins, ss; Utley, 2b; Werth, rf; Howard, 1b; Burrell, lf; Victorino, cf; Feliz, 3b; Ruiz, c; Hamels, p

Twinbill Mania
Rain yesterday created a massive amount of doubleheaders in the majors.  Six are scheduled for today and our day-nighter tomorrow with the Brewers.

Voting Deadline
Jamie Moyer is one of 30 players nominated for the 2008 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award given annually to the big league player whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement. 

It is one of 10 Players Choice Awards presented by the Major League Baseball Players Association.  Players on each team nominated one teammate as a candidate for the Miller Award.

Fans may vote online at through tomorrow.

Phillie Phact
Total number of hot dogs sold during Dollar Dog days this season: 475,604.


Rescheduled for Sunday Night

As everyone knows by now, tonight’s game was rained out and rescheduled for 7:35 on Sunday night.  The Phillies and Brewers will play tomorrow at 3:55 p.m. (FOX) and at 1:35 Sunday afternoon and wrap up the four-game series on Sunday night.

Since it is the final series of the season between the two teams, Major League Baseball and umpire crew chief Dale Scott had the jurisdiction to make the call as to whether the game could be played because of the weather.  

The process of rescheduling the game involved both teams, MLB and the players association. 

Pro Scouting
With rain drops falling, two conference calls were going on at the same time (3:15) this afternoon in the baseball administration offices at Citizens Bank Park.

Chuck LaMar, Director of Professional Scouting, was the “master of ceremonies” of a call with Phillies pro scouts. Pat Gillick, Ruben Amaro, Mike Arbuckle and Mike Ondo participated from the ballpark offices.

For the last two weeks of the season, Chuck is assigning two scouts to the teams in the running for postseason.  Hank King, the advance scout, and Charlie Manuel’s staff have plenty of reports on how to pitch hitters and what to look for from enemy hurlers.

The more eyes and ears, the better.  Also, fresh information is vital.

The scouts will remain with their respective teams until those teams are eliminated.  Then, the scouts are requested to file their reports to the Citizens Bank Park offices.

Scouts following a team that advances to a postseason game against the Phillies, will come to Philadelphia for a face-to-face meeting with Charlie and his staff.  Presently, the Phillies are not staffing the Mets because these two teams can’t meet in a Division Series. 

Scouts that follow NL teams that are eliminated when then shift to American League clubs.

Winning the Flips
Across the hall in Gillick’s office, I was dispatched to represent the Phillies in a coin toss for potential tie games.  The American League conference call was at 3 and we were 20 minutes later. 

Roy Krasik, Senior Director, Major League Baseball Operations, conducted this call that included representatives from the Diamondbacks, Cubs, Astros, Dodgers, Brewers, Mets, Cardinals and us.

There were nine different NL scenarios.  We were involved in four.  The fist team shown in each combination (Mets vs. Phillies, for example) has the choice to make the call or defer it to the other team.

My role was simple, be quite on two and call the shots on two.  Being quiet worked well as we will be the home team if we are playing the Mets (Division tie) or Brewers (wild card tie).  Always looking ahead, I chose heads for Phillies vs. Astros and Phillies vs. Cardinals (wild card ties) and heads it was in each case.

Bottom line:  we are home for any postseason tie games, which is great news for our passionate fans.

Lineup Change

Tonight’s Lineup
Charlie’s separating the left-handed hitters: Rollins, ss; Utley, 2b; Werth, rf; Howard, 1b; Burrell, lf; Victorino, cf; Feliz, 3b; Ruiz, c; Hamels, p.

Lefties Come Through
One throws with his left arm, the other swings from the left side.  Both came through at the right time last night.

Jamie, 45 years young, started on three days rest and did a heck of a job.  Then, the bullpen threw up zeroes.

Ryan is really focused.  He hit yet another September home run and came within inches of a second one.   He’s hit 36 home runs in September, most among all players over the past four seasons.  He can carry a club on his shoulders and that’s what’s happening right now.

Latino Legend
As part of the Goya Latino Family Celebration each year, the Phillies honor a former Hispanic player. Past winners include Tony Perez, the Amaro family, Tony Taylor, Cookie Rojas, Willie Montanez, Ozzie Virgil Jr., Juan Samuel and Larry Rojas.

Tonight’s honoree is Mariano Duncan, a National League All-Star second baseman during his four years with the Phillies.  His best season in a Phillies uniform was 1993 when the Phillies went on to the World Series. Duncan batted .292 with a career-high 73 RBI.  Toss in a .345 average in six World Series games.  His 10 hits are a Phillies single-series World Series record.

Duncan is the first base coach for the Los Angeles Dodgers and unable to be here to personally accept the award but he did video tape a message when he was in town last month.

National TV
Last scheduled national telecast is tomorrow afternoon on FOX with Tom McCarthy, Eric Karros and Ken Rosenthal.

Phillie Phact
Phillies have stolen 122 bases and been caught 22 times, an 84.7 percentage, which is the best among all 30 teams.

There are more stats than ever in this game.  The Brewers’ media notes include an unusual stat: their won-loss record when wearing different uniforms.

Milwaukee has wore six different ones this season: white (19-14), grey (14-13), blue (43-32), retro (5-5), Negro League (1-0) and Cerveceros (1-0).