April 2011

Dominate, Masterful

Dominate: “to have control, power, or authority over somebody or something.”

Well, that was Cliff Lee last night as the Phillies won the rubber game of three in DC to win another series.  Lee tossed 99 pitches (74 strikes) in blanking the Nationals in 2 hours, 6 minutes.

Masterful: “demonstrating exceptional skill or ability.”

Well, that was Cliff last night and Doc the night before.  Aces 1 and 2 certainly performed like aces 1 and 2.  Guess this is what the Phillies envisioned when they brought Lee back.

Back-to-back complete games are a rarity these days.  Last time it happened for the Phillies in April was 1988 (Bruce Ruffin and Don Carman).  Last time it happened period, May 1999 (Paul Byrd and Curt Schilling).

What is the club record for consecutive complete games?  Glad you asked.  5, set in 1966 and matched in 1972.  Then, there’s the club record for fewest in a season: 4, 2004, 2005 and 2006.

J-Roll Climbs Again
His run-scoring single last night was his first RBI after 54 at-bats to start the season.  For his career, it was single #1,109, which moved him into seventh place on the club’s all-time list, ahead of Sherry Magee.  Next in Jimmy’s sight, Tony Taylor and Del Ennis, both at 1,178.  Club record holder is Richie Ashburn, 1,811.

Charitable Players
This core of Phillies players are the most active when it comes to giving back to the community.

Among the players who have charitable programs: Doc’s Box, Flyin’ Hawaiian All Stars, Hamels’ Heroes (2), Lidge’s Legions, Ibañez Team Resurgence, J-Roll’s Aces, Lee’s VIPs, and Chase’s Champs.

On Saturday, Doc will host children from PAL.  The kids will watch batting practice and enjoy the game and dinner in Doc’s suite. Shane will treat members from Variety—The Children’s Charity—to BP. He will meet each child after BP.  Kids also receive tickets, food coupons and a T-shirt . . . Ryan Madson and Carlos Ruiz will headline the Philadelphia Futures’ Get In The Game charity on Sunday evening.

With the Sixers in the playoffs, there have been some more changes in the Phillies TV lineup: April 18 is now on WPHL, April 19, Comcast SportsNet and April 21, The Comcast Network . . . Monday’s game with the Brewers will be on national TV, ESPN . . . Before tonight’s game, Carlos Ruiz will meet Carlos Ruiz, a member of the Philadelphia Union pro soccer team . . . Curt Schilling and Jamie Moyer are 2011 additions to ESPN’s Baseball Tonight Show, making occasional appearances . . . After 12 games a year ago, Phils were 8-4.

This Date In Phillies History
April 17, 1976—Mike Schmidt hit four consecutive home runs and added a single in an 18-6 win over the Cubs in Wrigley Field.  Hitting .167 going into the game, Schmidt connected twice off Rick Reuschel, once off Rick’s brother, Paul, and once of Mike Garman.  Schmidt finished with 8 RBI, joining Kitty Bransfield, Gavvy Cravath and Willie Jones for the most RBI in one game in Phillies history.

Masterful Doc

He bent but didn’t break.  Doc turned in another masterful, gutty pitching performance last night in DC. 

He beat the Expos/Nationals for the eighth straight time while Lannan fell to 0-8 against the Phillies.  Through eight innings, Doc blanked Washington on two singles.  The pesky Nats put together four hits in their last at-bat and had the tying and winning runs on base.  He then went to work and closed the door.  Doc’s last six pitches were all strikes as he recorded two more strikeouts.

Since he put on a Phillies uniform, Doc is 15-1 against NL East clubs, including 11 straight wins.  Counting his days with the Blue Jays, 24-5 vs. the same division.  That’s dominating.

Win sets up a series clincher tonight after which the Phillies take an AMTRAK train home.  Florida and then Milwaukee come to town for three games each, starting Friday night.  Monday night’s series opener vs. the Brewers will be on ESPN.

Phillies haven’t lost back-to-back games since Sept. 25-26 vs. the Mets, 35 consecutive games.

J-Roll got his 1,108th single, matching Sherry Magee for eighth place on the Phillies all-time list . . . Phillies record for most singles in a season, 181 set by Lefty O’Doul in 1929 and matched by Richie Ashburn in 1951.  Since then, the most singles have come from Dave Cash, 162, in 1976 . . . Pete Rose turns 70 today.

Down On The Farm
Lehigh Valley was rained out for the second straight day . . . 1B Matt Rizzotti drove in two runs as Reading won, 4-1, at New Hampshire; he’s hit in all six games, .462.  RHP Austin Hyatt (2-0) was the winner . . . 1B-DH Joe Savery (.640) and RF Leandro Castro (.462) continued their hot hitting as Clearwater was a 2-1 winner in Daytona. RHP Justin Friend recorded his third save. RHP Brody Colvin is on the DL (lower back) . . . Anemic bats continued for Lakewood in a 9-2 loss to Greensboro.  BlueClaws are hitting a league-low .136, scoring just 11 runs over five games, also at the bottom of the SAL.

Early Puzzle

Well, the Werth hype is out of the way and have to say Jayson got the best in the first appearance against his former team. 

Objective is to win each series.  For the third straight series, the Phillies have lost the first game.  They came back against the Mets and Braves to win the next two.  They face the same situation.

Sometimes the game of baseball is puzzling.  Going into the season, the starting pitching rotation was expected to be dominating and the bullpen was suspect, especially with Lidge sidelined.

Well, the starters have a 5.04 ERA and the bullpen, 1.95, and a 19.1 scoreless inning streak that ended last night. Bullpen went into the game with eight walks, fewest in the NL, and then walked four in the loss.

Offensively, no Werth, Utley and Brown was supposed to make the offense suspect.  Well, the Phillies lead the league in hits, average, on-base percentage and have the fewest strikeouts.  They’re second in runs scored.

With Werth gone, who would protect Ryan?  Would opposing teams ever pitch to him? Well, Ryan leads the NL with 12 RBI, has seven extra-base hits among 14 and is hitting .359.

Scott Franzke had an interesting note during Sunday’s broadcast: Burrell was the last Phillie to get a hit after Ryan was walked intentionally and that came in 2008.  Since then, Phillies hitters are 0-for-21, Werth having 10 of those hitless at-bats.

OK, OK the season is just 10 games old.  There are 152 more to go.  Cream always rises to the top and in the end the starting pitching will excel and the offense will certainly come down from its .328 average.  In the meantime, everything is puzzling.  Just ask the Red Sox fans.

Phillies pitchers have issued the fewest home runs (4) and walks (23) . . . With the Flyers in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Phillies have made some TV changes: Thursday, Saturday and Monday will now be on The Comcast Network instead of Comcast SportsNet.  Further changes will be made if the Flyers continue to win . . . Happy Birthday to Mark Leiter (48) and Wes Chamberlain (45) . . . Tonight is nationally telecast on ESPN2.

Down On The Farm
Lehigh Valley and Lakewood were rained out . . . 1B Matt Rizzotti had three more hits to raise his average to .458 as Reading won, 3-2, in 11 innings at New Hampshire . . . 2B Alan Schoenberger had a sixth-inning triple, Clearwater’s lone hit in a 5-1 loss at Daytona.

What Would You Have Done?
What profession or occupation might you have chosen if you didn’t play baseball? The question was recently posed to members of the Phillies Alumni.
 “I would have been in education and coaching.  I was a biology major at the University of Washington and I think I would have continued on that path,” SS Kevin Stocker (1993-97).

Did You Know?
April is National Grilled Cheese Month.

Jayson vs. Phillies

He’s still wearing a red hat only a white W has replaced the white P.

Jayson Werth faces his former teammates tonight in the first game of a three-game series in Washington, DC. There’s been much media hype about Jayson and the game.  That hype will increase when the Nationals visit Citizens Bank Park for three games starting May 3.  It will be interesting to see the fans’ reaction to a very popular player.

One of the media stories about Jayson was in the Daily News on Monday. Jayson told Sam Donnellon, “I think the bonds I made there are everlasting. When I’m 60, I expect to be back in Philly for alumni weekend and stuff like that.”

ESPN will televise Wednesday’s game nationally.  Of course, MLB.com has both radio and TV packages available for Phillies fans around the world.  The beauty of the internet.

Exclusive Company
J-Roll’s next run scored will be his 1,000th, putting him in exclusive company in Phillies history.  Only three others have tallied that many runs, Mike Schmidt, 1,506 (in 2404 games), Ed Delahanty, 1,365 (1,554 games) and Richie Ashburn, 1,114 (1,794 games).  All three are Hall of Famers.  Tonight’s game for R-Joll will be his 1,504th.

Down On The Farm
3B Ronnie Belliard continued his hot hitting (.533) with two hits as Lehigh Valley won, 4-3, vs. Syracuse in 10 innings . . . 3B Cody Overbeck went 5-for-5, including his third homer as Reading coasted in New Hampshire, 13-1, behind RHs J. C. Ramirez (93-94 mph) and Phillippe Aumont (94 mph) . . . Clearwater lost its first game, 6-5, at Daytona; 1B Joe Savery was 2-3 and saw his average drop to .778 . . . RHP Colby Shreve won his first start as Lakewood beat Greensboro, 2-1 . . . Phillies have 64 players in extended spring training. They began their schedule with two games against the Yankees in Tampa. They will also play the Pirates and Blue Jays.  Home games are every other day starting today at Carpenter Complex, except for Sundays when no games are scheduled. 

This Date In Phillies History
3B Richie Allen hit a homer over the centerfield fence and LHP Chris Short tossed a shutout as the Phillies won the first NL game in the Astrodome, 2-0 over Bill Giles’ Houston Astros.

Alumni Notes
Two recent signees by the Yankees are RHPs Kevin Millwood and Carlos Silva.

Weekend Wrap

Dating back to last season, the Phillies have won five straight series and 14 of their last 15. 

Weekend in Atlanta was full of interesting notes:

**Bastardo tied the club record for a reliever with six consecutive strikeouts on Friday night, matching RH Jack Meyer (1958) and LH Willie Hernandez (1983).

**Oswalt had won 151 games going into Saturday’s start.  The victory was his first ever against the Braves.

**Oswalt’s two catchers, Schneider and Chooch, combined for two homers and seven RBI.  Chooch became the seventh Phillies player to hit a pinch-hit grand slam since 2000, the most in the majors.

**Hamels had won 60 games in the majors.  Sunday was his 10th over the Braves, the most wins he has against any one club.

**Shane has five consecutive multi-hit games. He was 2-for-24 lifetime against Lowe until Sunday when he went 3-3.  Shane had 10 hits against the Braves all of last season.  He had nine over the weekend.

**7-2 record is the exact same as last year’s start.

“Manny went out on his fanny,” Gary Shelton, St. Petersburg Times columnist after Manny Ramirez retired when he learned he was facing a second suspension for breaking MLB’s substance abuse policy.”

“Joe’s having trouble making an out right now,” Clearwater Threshers manager Dusty Wathan, after DH-1B Joe Savery went 10-for-12 in his first three games.

“This is a good pitch in which to park,” commented Larry Andersen on Sunday after Brian McCann hit a fly ball deep to center.  Fellow broadcaster Scott Franzke, chuckled and asked, “What did you just say?”

Down On The Farm
Weekend report……..

**Lehigh Valley was rained out on Friday and lost back-to-back 2-0 games.

**Reading won two in a row before a 2-0 loss on Sunday.  C Tuffy Gosewisch is hitting .500 in three games.

**Clearwater remained undefeated with three wins.  RF Leandro Castro had a pair of homers and five RBI . . . 1B-DH Joe Savery was 2-for-3 on Sunday, which dropped his batting average 33 points, .833 to .800 . . . RHS Brody Colvin left after two innings on Sunday as a precautionary measure with tightness in his lower back.

**Lakewood was rained out Friday night and again on Saturday night (double-header) before losing two games on Sunday, 2-0 in 16 innings and 4-1 in 7 innings.  BlueClaws had seven total hits and struck out 25 times.

What Would You Have Done?
What profession or occupation might you have chosen if you didn’t play baseball? The question was recently posed to members of the Phillies Alumni.
 “I would have most likely been part of the Department of Natural Resources or in some kind of wildlife management in the state of Minnesota,” Jim Eisenreich, (OF, 1993-96).

First Road Trip

Doc was his usual stingy self and the offense was relentless as the Phillies closed out their first home stand with an 11-0 romp over the Mets yesterday afternoon.

Phillies had the lead-off man on base in each of their eight innings, a first in the majors since the Pirates did it in 2007.

Polly drove in four runs, giving him eight for the series, a high water mark for a three-game series in his 14-year career.  Wilson had his first 4-hit game in the bigs. 

The Mets had their lead-off man on base in each of the first four innings, but Doc held them scoreless.

Phillies biggest shutout margin? 18-0, done three times, 1910, 1930 and 1934.

Road Trip
First road trip starts with a series this weekend in Atlanta.  In another scheduling quirk, the Phillies face the Braves nine times in their first 39 games, including six in Atlanta (May 13-14-15 again).  The Phillies don’t return to Atlanta until the last three games of the season in September.

Phillies hitters lead the league with a .353 average and .407 on-base percentage.  Atlanta has the lowest team ERA, 2.75.  So, a real test for Phillies hitters fresh from back-to-back 16-hit games.

Minor League Openers
RHP Vance Worley fanned nine in six shutout innings as Lehigh Valley opened with a 7-2 win over state rival Scranton Wilkes-Barre last night.  RHP Michael Stutes fanned three of the four hitters he faced . . . Playing in 40 degrees, Reading lost its opener in Portland, ME, 4-3 . . . Playing in 82 degrees, Clearwater unleashed a 15-hit attack in winning easily, 10-1, at Dunedin.  Joe Savery, making a career change from a pitcher to a hitter, was 4-4 with a walk as the DH.  RHP Jarred Cosart tossed six scoreless innings to pick up the win . . . Lakewood began defense of its SAL championship with a 2-0 win over visiting Kannapolis .  1B Jim Murphy homered in his first at-bat.   Win went to LHP Mario Hollands.

Top 10
MiLB.com listed the top 10 prospects in the Florida State League and Clearwater has four: #1 RHP Brody Colvin, #2 Cosart; #8, RHP Trevor May and #10, LF Jonathan Singleton.

National TV
Phillies are listed as a FOX telecast on Saturday but that game will take the back seat to the Yankees and Red Sox national telecast.  So, the Phillies won’t really won’t be seen too much on a national basis . . . Sunday’s game is on TBS in addition to MyPhil in Philly . . . MLB.com has complete audio and TV coverage of every game every day.

Bullpen Zero

Credit goes to the bullpen last night.  Joe was coasting and then hit a wall. Pen shut the door over the last 4.5 innings, two hits, one walk, four strikeouts and a big zero on the scoreboard.

Offense produced 16 hits, 10 of which were singles.  Phillies lead the NL with 44 singles.  The late Richie Ashburn would like that.

Phillies pinch hitters are now 6-for-10 through five games, a vast improvement on last year.

Every season produces a scheduling quirk.  The Phillies will play the Mets six times out of their first 15 home games and then not see NY at Citizens Bank Park until the middle of August.

Day game this afternoon and then a charter flight to Atlanta for a three-game weekend series with the Braves.  Saturday is on FOX, Sunday, TBS, for Phillies folks (or should it be pholks) everywhere.  Of course, all games can be heard and/or seen on MLB.com.  The internet certainly makes it easy for fans around the world to follow the Phils.

An Apology
Thanks to Dennis Orlandini for pointing out I posted the wrong age for C Jimmy Schaeffer a couple of days ago.  I had him at 85, which is only off by 10 years.  For the record, he turned 75.  Sorry, Jimmy.

Today, Bobby Del Greco turns 78 (double and triple-checked). Bobby was a centerfielder who played for the Phillies in 1960-61 and again in 1965.

Other Occupation?
Phillies Alumni have been asked what would they have done if they hadn’t been a ball player.

“If I had not signed with the Phillies, I was going to the University of Arkansas to play baseball and study forestry to become a forest ranger.  Whatever it was it had to be something outdoors,” Darren Daulton.

Mets Have Cole’s Number

It was déjà vu for Cole against the Mets.  A year ago, he was 0-4 against them, losing 3-0, 1-0, 1-0 and 7-3. As you are aware, the Phillies got just one run last night but Cole couldn’t survive the big inning.

As LA said on radio, Cole had good stuff but struggled with his command.  Command is what makes Doc and Cliff so dominating.  Cole will get his command.  We’ve seen how dominating he can be.

The 1915 Phillies club won its first four games en route to an 8-0 start.  That record has withstood 96 consecutive seasons.

Obviously, no club will ever go undefeated in baseball.  Just like the 0-4 Rays, Red Sox and Astros won’t go winless.  Elias Sports Bureau did point out, however, that only one team has started 0-4 and reached the World Series, the 1985 Cardinals. Speaking of the World Series, it is 196 days away.

Vance Worley will start tomorrow night in Lehigh Valley’s season opener against Syracuse . . . Joshua Zeid gets the nod for the Reading Phillies in their opener in Portland, ME.  Wonder how chilly it will be there . . . Happy 44th birthday today to Tommy Greene.

Other Occupation?
Phillies Alumni have been asked what would they have done if they hadn’t been a ball player?

“A Massachusetts state trooper riding a motorcycle. I majored in criminal justice in college (U. of New Haven) and that was my dream job,” Steve Bedrosian, 1987 Cy Young Award winner.

Answering E-Mails

“Noticed the Phillies are wearing a black patch with a white B on their uniforms.  Can you explain?”
Yes, it is in memory of two of the team’s partners who passed away since the end of last season, brothers Whip and Jim Buck.

“Saw where there wasn’t a sold out crowd for the Pirates game (On-Deck Series second game).  Did that end the streak of consecutive sellouts?”
No, the streak relates to regular season games only.

Mets Tonight

OK, 3-0 is fine, but that’s last weekend.  Mets start a 3-game series tonight and the focus is on tonight’s game.

What is the Phillies’ record for undefeated starts, you ask:  Well, 8-0 in 1915, the year they won their first NL pennant.

The Phillies have three Rule 5 drafts on their roster, Shane, David Herndon and Michael Martinez.  That’s a compliment to the Phillies pro scouting staff.

Saw an interesting note from ESPN.com: Of the last 40 teams to make the playoffs, only one started the season 0-3. That one was the 2007 Phillies.

Jimmy started his 11th consecutive season with the Phillies, the longest streak since Larry Bowa’s 12 straight years (1970-81). 

Just One Person’s Opinion
**ESPN features three announcers in the booth again.  It turns into a talk-a-thon with much of the blabber not related to the game they are televising.

**Jayson Werth has to be the most expensive No. 2 hitter in the NL.

**Critics say Phillies will miss not having Werth’s defense in right.  Well, two NL contenders have rightfielders who aren’t up to Francisco’s skills, the Giants (Huff) and Cardinals (Berkman).

“We’re on pace to score 162 runs this year, it might be a major-league record,” Tampa Bay manger Joe Maddon after his team scored three runs in their first three games, all losses.

Minor League Rosters
Opening day is Thursday for four Phillies minor league teams.  Rosters can be found on phuturephillies.com.

Happy Birthday today
OF-1B Ross Gload, 34 . . . C Jimmie Schaffer (1966-67), 85

Late Ball, Small Ball, Long Ball

The 3-game weekend sweep had a little bit of everything…..Phillies played late ball, small ball, long ball, strong starting pitching and good defense.  Plus record attendance: 136,254, the largest total attendance for a regular-season series at Citizens Bank Park.

Clutch hitting was unreal, 15-for-36 with runners in scoring position.  Starting pitching was exceptional, 1 walk, 23 strikeouts in 19 innings, 2 wins. 

**Phillies didn’t strike out in the season opener on Friday afternoon, first time they haven’t had at least 1 punch out since May 7, 2009 at NY.  Dating back to 2000, it was only the fourth time in 1,782 games that the Phillies didn’t have a whiff.
**From Elias: Overcoming a 4-run deficit on Friday afternoon was the third time in franchise history that the Phillies rallied from a deficit of at least 4 runs to win on opening day.  The last such instance came 106 years ago.  On April 14, 1905, the Phillies trailed Brooklyn, 4-0, after 4 innings before bouncing back for a 12-8 win on the strength of a 6-run fifth inning.  The other time was April 18, 1895.  On that date, the Phillies trailed Baltimore, 6-0, after 7 but they scored 2 in the eighth and 5 in the ninth for a win.
**Lee’s no-walk, 11-strikeout performance on Saturday night was the first (no walks, 10-plus strikeouts) for any major league pitcher since the start of the 2008 season. Lee did hit a batter on Saturday, matching his total for 2010 in 212.1 innings. Guess he’s human.
**Great to have Steve Bedrosian on hand to give Doc his Cy Young Award pre-game on Saturday. “Bedrock” was the Phillies previous Cy Young winner in 1987.  John Denny, who won the 1983 award while with the Phillies, presented Doc with the award at the NY baseball writers dinner in January.
**3-game sweep was the Phillies first at home since 1899 against the Washington Senators at Baker Bowl. Oh, the Phillies did have a 3-0 start at home in 1970 at Connie Mack Stadium (2 vs. Cubs, 1st of a 3-game series vs. Pirates).
Airplane Shuffle
Lee McDaniel is the Assistant Director, Minor League Operations.  His office is in the Paul Owens Clubhouse at the Carpenter Complex.  When Southwest airlines canceled 300 flights for a safety check on certain aircraft, it left Lee scrambling on Sunday as the Reading Phillies were scheduled to fly from Tampa to Philadelphia on Southwest.  Lehigh Valley and Lakewood were booked on separate USAir flights.  All totaled, Lee needed 80 seats to get the three Phillies minor league teams to Philly where buses would transport the teams to their respective cities. Lee had to split the Reading team (20 seats, 6 seats) on two different Continental flights to Newark, NJ, on Sunday evening.  LV and Lakewood open their seasons at home on Thursday.  Reading (Portland) and Clearwater (Dunedin) also open on Thursday, but on the road. 
Happy Birthday Monday
OF Eric Valent (1977), 34 . . . RHP Carlos Reyes (2000), 42 . . . 2B Tom Herr (1989-90), 55 . . . MGR Jim Fregosi (1991-96), 69 . . . RHP Eddie Watt (1974), 70 . . . 2B-3B Don Hasenmayer (1945-46), 84.