October 2010

Good Weather, Just Windy

Bright sunny, but breezy day as the Phillies seek to win their third straight NLCS, something no National League team has ever done.

Winds 10-15 mph with gusts 25-30 mph but diminishing as the 7:57 p.m. Giants-Phillies game progresses.  The winds are coming from the northwest which means it will be to the pitchers’ advantage.  It will be very difficult to hit a home run to left. 

The series is the ninth one the Phillies have played in the last 36 months, Jayson Stark wrote in his Thursday ESPN.com story.  That’s really something.

Today’s Stuff
**Charlie (4 p.m.) and Roy-O (4:15) will be in the interview room and will be followed by Sanchez (5:30) and Bochy (5:45).
**6 p.m., all gates open (Ashburn Alley opens at 5:30).  Rally towels tonight from AutoTrader.com, the Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com.
**Hot Corner: Hot sandwiches and soups will be available in the Left Field Main Concourse to warm the tummies of the fans.
**Anthem by the Philadelphia Boys Choir and Chorale
**Ceremonial first pitch: Phillies alumnus Garry Maddox.

This Date
Phillies are 0-3 on this date in their postseason history, losing WS #5 in 1983, WS #1 in 1993 and NLCS #2 a year ago.  Time is ripe for a game in the win column.



Ready to Rumble

NLCS banners gave been hung on the light towers surrounding Citizens Bank Park, Citizens Bank Way is being converted to a pre-game Postseason Party area, the NLCS logos have been painted on the field, TV cameras are in position, auxiliary press box has been set up ….all setting the stage for the playoff opener on Saturday night.

Both teams did media sessions and worked out this afternoon.  Deadline for the NLCS roster for both teams is 10 a.m. Saturday.

Scouting Report
What better person to give a scouting report on the Giants than Larry Bowa, who’s seen SF close-up as the Dodgers third base coach, a position he no longer will hold.  “Putting my name in the want ads,” he laughed.

“Giants don’t have an over-powering offense but they will go up there hacking.  They are pretty much base-to-base because of an overall lack of team speed.  They will hit-and-run with Sanchez. Make a mistake and they can make you pay with the long ball. Torres is the lone base-stealing threat.  Posey is an outstanding young hitter.

“Their strength is the pitching staff, especially their starters.  They have four top-quality starters.  Sanchez is the most improved from a year ago, 93-94 mph with an impressive breaking ball.  They’ll use the slide step and hold the ball to slow down a team’s running game.  If the pitchers get behind in the count, they you can run.

“Defensively, they don’t have a lot of range but they do catch what they can get.  They don’t beat themselves defensively.”

Busy Sports Complex
The Flyers have moved the starting time of their Saturday game from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. with the Phillies-Giants game at 8 p.m. 

Sunday, the Eagles play at 1 p.m. and the Phillies-Giants again at 8 p.m.

Fans are advised to take public transportation as much as possible.  SEPTA is adding additional trains to the Broad Street subway.

This Date
Phillies are 3-1 on this date in their postseason, winning game 2 of the 1980 WS, losing game 4 of the Series in 1983, winning the pennant in LA two years ago and taking NLCS game 1 a year ago, also in LA.

Indoor Workout

Rain forced the Phillies afternoon workout indoors today.

Well, sort of.  Pitchers went to the bullpen to do some throwing during light rain.  Doc and Blanton played long toss in right field beyond the tarp that covered the infield.
Hitters took turns in the twin-indoor batting cages.

The clubhouse was closed prior to the 1 p.m. workout but opened afterwards.  650 credentials have been issued for the NLCS.  Not all media receive clubhouse badges.  Thus, the interview room was used again.  Charlie was in there at 12:45 p.m.; later Raul Ibanez and Mike Sweeney.

Seven TV cameras were lined up in the back of the Media Room.  Rows of seats for 100 filled up the room.

Friday, the interview room will be used again, Charlie and Doc first and Bochy and Lincecum later.  The Phillies will work out at 4 p.m., the Giants at 5:30 p.m.

MLB closes clubhouses pre-game. In addition to the interview room Friday, both teams and coaching staffs will be available in the Phillies Hospitality Tent for the media mass.  The Phillies are scheduled for 3 p.m.; Giants, 4:15 p.m.

Jim Fregosi Jr., Dave Hollins and Craig Colbert are at Citizens Bank Park.  Colbert is the Phillies advance scout while Fregosi and Hollins have been following the Giants since late last month.  They’ll be sitting down with Ruben’s staff and Charlie’s staff and go over the scouting reports.

This Date
The Phillies are 1-1 on this date in their postseason history. 

In 1980, they won the first World Series game against the Royals at Veterans Stadium.  Three years later, Orioles won WS game # 3 also at the Vet.

Sizing UpThe Giants

No workout today for the Phillies.  But, they’ll be back on the Citizens Bank Park field tomorrow, weather permitting and then a final tune-up on Friday for the NLCS vs. the Giants that begins Saturday night.

Both teams feature strong starting pitching which would indicate a lot of low-scoring games.  The Giants’ three wins over the Braves were all one-run decisions.

The Phillies and Giants split six games during the season and none were real pitcher’s duels.  At ATT&T Park in April, the Giants won 5-1, 6-2 and lost 7-6 in 11 innings.  When the two teams met at Citizens Bank Park in August, the Phillies won 9-3, 8-2 and lost 5-2.  Sanchez was the most dominant starter, winning the 5-1 and 5-2 games.

The Giants’ lineup these days is quite different from the April 5 opener: Roward, cf; Renteria, ss; Sandoval, 3b; Huff, 1b; DeRosa, lf; Molina, c; Bowker, rf; Uribe, 2b.
Only Huff and Uribe were in the starting eight for the NLDS against the Braves.

Key additions during the season were the calling up of Posey and lefty Bumgarner; free agent signings in Burrell and Guillen, trading for Fontenot and claiming Ross on waivers from the Marlins.  Funny how things can work out. Believing the first-place Padres were going to claim Ross, the second-place Giants put in a claim.  He drove in key runs during the NLDS.  Ross actually took Guillen’s job; Guillen wasn’t on the NLDS roster.

Best two teams in the majors since July 5 were the Phillies (55-25) and Giants (51-30).  In come-from-behind wins, the Phillies were third in the NL (42), the Giants, fifth (37).

The nucleus of the Phillies is home grown.  In the starting eight, only Posey, the catcher, was drafted and developed by the Giants. But, when it comes to the rotation, it is a different story with all four home-grown: Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Bumgarner.

The enemy likes to throw lefty relievers at the Phillies.  The Giants have two, Affeldt and Lopez.  Zito, a lefty starter, wasn’t on the NLDS roster but could be added which would give the Giants three.  Both the Phillies and Giants have until 10 a.m. Saturday to file their NLCS rosters with MLB.

This Date
Phillies are 2-1 in postseason history on October 13.  The Red Sox won the World Series in 1915 at Baker Bowl, the 1993 Phillies beat the Braves at Veterans Stadium to advance to the World Series and two years ago, Matt Stairs hit his memorable pinch-hit home run at Dodger Stadium.



(Sorry, I haven’t been posting.  Was occupied with a family health issue for the last week.  Hope to get back in the swing again.  Thanks.)

Well, we now know it will be the Giants in the NLCS. Great starting pitching against great starting pitching.  It looks like it will be Lincecum against Halladay on Saturday night.  Heck, it might wind up as a 35-inning scoreless game suspended because it is time for breakfast.

The two teams split six games this season.  Does that point to a seven-game series?

Phillies will work out this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park (not open to the public).  Biggest issue for the Phillies may be how to keep the pitchers sharp.  Options are bullpen sessions, pitching BP or a simulated games.  Hey, why not a game against the Phillies ballgirl team?  Or, sending some of the starters to the Florida Instructional League? How about a “B” game the Giants Thursday morning?  Hey, we play “B” games in the morning in spring training.

Did You Know ?
Howard, Utley, Rollins, Ruiz Victorino started their 33rd straight postseason game on Sunday night, the longest such stretch for five players in Major League Baseball history.

TV Ratings
Sunday night’s NLDS clinching game in Cincinnati drew a 27.7 rating and 40 share, which topped the Eagles (24.6/35) in Philadelphia.

This Date
Phillies are 2-4 in the postseason on this date.  The most recent win was a year ago when the Phillies advanced to the NLCS with a come-from-behind win in Denver.  


NLDS Here We Come

NL leader in average, runs, hits, total bases, RBI, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, hitting with RISP and runs scored with two out.  Defense is second best.

Sounds like the Phillies of 2007-8-9. 

Well, say hello to the Cincinnati Reds, champions of the NL Central, who begin the best-of-5 NLDS against the Phillies Wednesday evening at Citizens Bank Park.  It is the first time the Reds have been in the postseason in 15 years.  They were swept by the Braves in 1995.

The Reds have replaced the Phillies as the most potent offense in the league.  The Phillies have been transformed into a ballclub that is strong on starting pitching with three aces in line to face the Reds. The Phillies once potent offense has been a puzzle at times this season.  Defensively, the Phillies remain excellent, the fewest errors since the All-Star Game break.

Votto, Stubbs and Bruce are all home-grown players such as the Phillies’ Howard, Utley and Rollins.  Votto is in the running for the MVP Award.   He narrowly missed the Triple Crown this season. He has the league’s best average on the road and vs. RHP.

The Reds will start three right-handers.  Like many clubs, left-handed relievers will be used often against the Phillies.  The Reds had three on their September roster: Bray, 20-year-old rookie Chapman and Rhodes, the 40-year-old one-time Phillie.  Chapman consistently throws 100 mph.

Both teams have until 10 a.m. Wednesday to submit their 25-man rosters to MLB for the NLDS.  The roster can change for the NLCS and again, WS.

The two teams have met once before in the postseason, 1976.  The Reds, known as the Big Red Machine, were 102-60 that season, the Phillies, 101-61.  The Big Red Machine swept the Phillies, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 and then swept the Yankees.

On paper, the Phillies have better starting pitching and much more postseason experience. During the season, the Phillies were 5-2 against them, sweeping a four-game series here, which stretched the Reds’ winless streak at Citizens Bank Park to six games going back to 2009. Once again, a reminder, the games aren’t played on paper but on the field.

TBS is televising the NLDS.  Phillies announcers can again be heard on radio.

This Date in Phillies Postseason History
1950     WS # 2 at Connie Mack Stadium: Robin Roberts started and pitched all 10 innings in a 2-1 loss.  Joe DiMaggio’s home run into the upper deck in left field was the game-winner.
1977 NLCS # 2 at Los Angeles: Don Sutton’s complete game and Dusty Baker’s grand slam carried the Dodgers to a 7-1 win as the series moved east to Veteran Stadium.

1978 NLCS # 2 at Vet: Tommy John blanked the Phillies on four singles, a 4-0 decision that gave the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
1983     NLCS # 2 at Los Angeles: Gary Matthews’ second-inning solo homer was the lone run in a 4-1 loss as the Dodgers evened the series, 1-1.  In 14 games against the Dodgers pitching (12 during the season), the Phillies scored a total of 17 runs.
2008     NLDS # 5 at Milwaukee:  Homers by Pat Burrell (2), Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth propelled the Phillies to a 6-2 win over the Brewers, sending the Phillies to the NLCS against the Dodgers.




New Season Starts Wednesday

The long marathon of a baseball season for the Phillies ended yesterday in Atlanta.  Now, it becomes a sprint of three different seasons. 

For the first time in franchise history, the Phillies topped the major leagues in wins.  Yep, the 97 wins are the majors’ best but not the club record.  That record belongs to the 1976 and 1977 Phillies, who won 101 each year.  Unfortunately, the Phillies didn’t advance to the World Series in either of those years.

The Phillies’ first sprint, a best-of-5 series, begins on Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park against the Cincinnati Reds.  More about the Reds tomorrow.

Charlie’s got his starters three lined up–Halladay, Oswalt, Hamels–in the first three games.  The trio has been tabbed H2O.  Among the many neat souvenirs for sale in the Majestic Clubhouse Store is a black H2O t-shirt with photos of the three starters.

Chooch will see the Phillies doctor today for a follow up to his injured left elbow.  He was hit by a pitch yesterday in his first at-bat and left the game. Ruiz wound up leading the club with a .302 average, the first Phillies catcher to lead the club since Mike Lieberthal hit .313 in 2003.

Today is a day off for the players.  Tuesday, the Phillies will work out at Citizens Bank Park at 1 p.m. (closed to the public).  The Reds will most likely follow.  They had to wait until the Padres-Giants game in San Francisco yesterday to finalize their plans.

Phillies clubhouse will be closed to the media pre-workout but open for an hour afterward.  As is customary for the postseason, there will be an interview room set up in the Media Room.  Doc is scheduled for 12 noon tomorrow with Charlie to follow.  The Reds will be later.

This Date in Phillies Postseason History
1950     WS # 1 at Connie Mack Stadium: Because Robin Roberts started four times in the last eight games, manager Eddie Sawyer surprised everyone by naming relief ace Jim Konstanty the starter.  Konstanty allowed one run over eight innings but Vic Raschi blanked the Phillies on two singles for a 1-0 Yankees win.
1977 NLCS # 1 at LA: Greg Luzinski’s booming two-run homer gave the Phillies a first-inning lead over the Dodgers but Ron Cey’s grand slam off Steve Carlton tied it in the seventh.  Singles by Bake McBride, Larry Bowa and Mike Schmidt produced two ninth-inning runs and a 7-5 win. 
1978     NLCS # 1 at Veterans Stadium: Steve Garvey’s three-run homer triggered a four-run third.  Dodgers won, 9-5, as reliever Bob Welch allowed only one run over 4.1 innings.
1983     NLCS # 1 at LA: Mike Schmidt homered as the third batter of the game and Steve Carlton (7.2 IP) and Al Holland (1.1) combined to blank the Dodgers on seven singles, 1-0.

2007 NLDS # 2 at Citizens Bank Park: Jimmy Rollins hit a lead-off homer and a second-inning triple that gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead over the Rockies in NLDS game #2.  Colorado rebounded with 4-run innings in the fourth (Kazuo Matsui’s grand slam) and sixth en route to a 10-5 win.

2008 NLDS #3 at Milwaukee: Brewers narrowed the series to 2-1 by picking up a 4-1 win in their first postseason home game since 1982



Best September

What a month!

We have just lived through the best September in Phillies history.  Not for wins, but for winning percentage.

Phillies Top 5 Septembers
2010 21-6 (.778)
1887 16-5 (.762)
1983 22-7 (.759)
1916  22-9 (.710)
2004 19-8 (.704)

It is the third time the Phillies have reached 20 or more wins in September, as you can see.

Final Season Series
Team flew to Atlanta after Wednesday’s game for three games against the Braves, who are now leading the NL wildcard race.

Saturday’s game was moved to 4:10 p.m. for FOX television.  In the Philadelphia market, however, the game will be televised by Comcast SportsNet.

ESPN stuff
ESPN.com has put the Phillies on top of their power ratings, replacing the Yankees who had held the No. 1 spot for four months.

Phillie Phanatic and Derek Jeter taped a commercial for ESPN’s Sportscenter.  Really clever.

Last Time
Phillies have two minor league champions this year, the Lakewood BlueClaws (South Atlantic League) and Gulf Coast League Phillies.  Last time they had a pair of winners was 1975, Rocky Mount (Carolina League) and Spartanburg (Western Carolinas League).

Did you know that the full name is Mike John Sweeney.  Does that make him the second greatest MJS in Phillies history? 

The other, you ask?…. Michael Jack Schmidt.

No. 1
The most popular post-game food in the visiting clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park this year?

Easy, cheesesteaks….2,413 of them.