July 2011

Streaks End

It was bound to happen.  Only a matter of time.

For the fourth time this season, the Phillies have lost back-to-back games.  The Phillies had gone a club-record 45 games without losing two in a row.  Amazing.

Last time they had done that was a four-game losing streak, May 31 through June 4.  The June 3-4 games were in Pittsburgh and the Pirates are at Citizens Bank Park this weekend.  At home, the Phillies had lost consecutive games only one other time this year, back in April to Milwaukee.

The Phillies streak of winning nine straight series also ended Thursday night in the loss to SF.  Last series they lost, June 17-19, in Seattle.  A nine-series winning streak at Citizens Bank Park also ended.  The Braves were the last to win a series here, May 6-8.

The Giants’ pitching continues to stymie the Phillies hitters.  Good news: Giants left town.  Not so good news: Phillies play them four times in SF starting next Thursday night.

With the trading deadline at 4 p.m. Sunday, Pat Gillick, Chuck LaMar and Charley Kerfeld are at Citizens Bank Park this week.

Down On The Farm
Polly was 0-2 with an intentional walk in a rehab start at Lehigh Valley, a 2-1 loser to Pawtucket . . . RHS Austin Hyatt (10-5) became the third 10-game winner in the Phillies minor leagues as Reading won, 6-1, in New Hampshire.  1B Matt Rizzotti hit his 25th double and 19th home run . . . RHS Jarred Cosart tossed 7 scoreless innings in Clearwater’s 3-1 win over Bradenton . . . Lakewood lost, 10-5, at West Virginia . . . LHP Austin Wright (3-1) allowed 1 hit and 1 run in 5 innings as Williamsport beat Vermont, 5-1, in a game called after 5.2 innings by rain . . . Gulf Coast League Phillies beat the Braves, 5-1. 1B Michael Marshall hit his first pro homer.

Series Finale

So, winning another series comes down to the final game Thursday night against the Giants.

In the NLCS last fall, won by the Giants, there were three one-run games, all won by SF.  Tuesday night was another one.  Main difference from last night and last fall is that the game time temperature of 82 was about 40 degrees warmer than October 23.

Phillies have won their last nine series.  Three times it was W, L, W. 

More Worley Notes
He’s won five straight starts, the first Phillies rookie since Charles Hudson in 1983.  The last longest streak by a Phillie rookie was six by Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1911, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Phillies closers have combined to record 29 saves in 30 chances.  That’s pretty amazing since you consider the incumbent closer Lidge doesn’t have one.  The three that have carried the load are Madson, Bastardo and Contreras . . . Phillies went into last night’s game leading the NL in hitting this month (.273) but were held to just four hits.  Thy struck out only once . . . Phillies starting pitchers are 29-10 at Citizens Bank Park . . . SF relievers have given up just 2 runs since the All-Star break.

Down On The Farm
Lehigh Valley won its fifth in a row, 4-1, over Pawtucket . . . Reading was held to four hits in losing, 3-2, to Altoona . . . Clearwater’s six-game winning streak came to an end in a 6-1 loss to Bradenton . . . Lakewood was idle . . . Williamsport dropped a 4-1 decision to Vermont . . . Gulf Coast League Phillies were 7-6 winners over the Braves.

Today In Phillies History
Russ Meyer pitched the Phillies fourth consecutive shutout, 1-0, at Chicago. The other four: Robin Roberts, 2-0, at St. Louis, July 25; Ken Johnson, 7-0, at St. Louis, July 26 and Bubba Church, 2-0, at Chicago, July 27.

Cooperstown Gallery
Pat Gillick’s oil portrait by Phillies artist Dick Perez,was added to the Phillies Hall of Famers in the Cooperstown Gallery section of the Hall of Game Club at Citizens Bank Park this morning.  Gillick is the 33rd Phillie to be recognized.

Other portraits include the Philadelphia Athletics and Native Sons from the Delaware Valley who are enshrined in Cooperstown.

One other note from the Hall of Fame weekend: Baseball Hall of Fame Museum sells post-card sized images of the Hall of Fame plaques.  In less than 24 hours, all 3,000 of Gillick’s were sold. More are being printed.

Long Ball Night

Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow stopped by the Phillies radio booth pre-game Monday to ask Larry Andersen for a scouting report on the Phillies.  LA responded, “Pitching has been great, both starters and relievers.  Hitting is starting to come around but we’re not hitting the long ball.”

Bingo.  The Phillies had four long balls in winning the series opener behind rookie Vance Worley’s first major league complete game.  Worley’s had one other complete game in his four-year pro career, July 9, 2010, against the Harrisburg Senators while pitching for the Reading Phillies.

Last Phillies rookie with a complete game was J.A. Happ, August 27, 2009, at Pittsburgh.

Chase has reached base in 28 consecutive games (33 hits, 12 walks, 1 hit-by-pitch) . . . Polly will rehab starting Thursday night at Lehigh Valley.  He’ll face former Phillie, Brandon Duckworth . . . SS Roman Quinn, Phillies second-round pick out of Port St. Joe High School (FL), was a guest of the Phillies last night.  Deadline for signing draft selections is August 15.

Down On The Farm
Jesse Barfield’s RBI single capped a 2-run 10th inning that gave first-place Lehigh Valley an 8-7 win over the second-place Pawtucket Red Sox.  Victory was fourth straight for first-place Lehigh Valley and increased lead to 3 games . . . Reading was blanked by Altoona, 5-0 . . . Clearwater won its sixth in a row, 10-2, over Bradenton as RHS Julio Rodriguez (13-6) picked up his fifth straight win to lead all minor league pitchers.  3B Travis Mattair hit 2 of Clearwater’s 5 home runs . . . 3B Geancarlo Mendez’ walk off single gave Lakewood a 5-4 win over Augusta.  Win was Lakewood’s third in a row . . . Williamsport, riding a 3-game winning streak, was not scheduled . . . Gulf Coast League Phillies were held to 3 hits in losing, 2-0, to the Tigers.

Rematch vs. Revenge

The two teams that met in the 2010 NLCS are meeting for the first time in 2011, a three-game series at sold-out Citizens Bank Park starting tonight.

It definitely is a rematch.  Revenge?  Not exactly.  Revenge would come if the Phillies got the NLCS trophy from the Giants in the fall and that’s a long way away.

Seven of the Phillies next 13 games are against the Giants.  The other four come in the first August weekend, a Thursday to Sunday series that includes a FOX national telecast on Saturday, August 6.

Tonight’s game and Thursday night’s game will be televised regionally on the MLB Network.  Wednesday night, ESPN will carry the game to some markets.

So far this season, the Eastern Divisions appear to be supplying two teams each to the postseason as the Braves and Yankees have the second-best records in the National League and American League respectively.  The Giants are on top of the Western Division pack.  If the season ended today, they would be playing the Braves, while the Phillies will tangle with the Central winner.  But, that’s putting the horse way ahead of the cart.

Down On The Farm
Clean sweep . . . Lehigh Valley beat Columbus, 4-1, RHS Nate Bump (3-6) working 7 scoreless innings, allowing 3 hits . . . 3B Carlos Rivero’s 3rd RBI of the game, a sacrifice fly in the bottom ninth to lift Reading to a 5-4 win over Altoona . . . LF Darin Ruf homered (#11) for the 3rd straight game in Clearwater’s 5-4 win over Bradenton . . . OF Anthony Hewitt, who stole 5 bases last week, added his 26th in Lakewood’s 3-1 win over Augusta, RHS David Buchanan (11-5) pitching 8 shutout innings . . . LHS Lino Mrtinez (4-2) picked up the win as Williamsport won, 4-3, at Connecticut . . . LHS Ethan Stewart (3-1) fanned 9 in 7 shutout innings (2 hits) as the Gulf Coast League Phillies blanked Detroit, 3-0.

Roy Oswalt will start at Lehigh Valley on Wednesday vs. Pawtucket . . . Polly is close to beginning a rehab start.

Conference Call
Ruben will have his weekly conference call with his staff and pro scouts on Wednesday morning. Wonder what they will be discussing?

Pat’s Cooperstown Weekend

(Back in the swing again after a wonderful weekend in Cooperstown, NY, for the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, my fifth.  It doesn’t get old).

Cooperstown is a little village nestled in the green mountains of central New York. Population of around 2,100 swells twice its normal size around this time of the year.  Folks around the village still talk about the sea of red Phillies fans that turned out for the Mike Schmidt/Richie Ashburn induction in 1995.

That crowd wasn’t duplicated this weekend.  Oh, there were Phillies fans but more than that, there were a lot of Pat Gillick fans, particularly from baseball.  After all, he had worked for six different organizations in 50-plus years and was the GM of four teams over 27 years, winning three World Series, two in Toronto.  We all know and appreciate the third.

Hall officials said more baseball scouts than normal were in attendance, largely because of Pat. Following a minor league career as a pitcher, he began scouting for Houston.  He ended up as the GM of the World Champion Phillies three years ago.

Scouting has been and still is his passion.  He’s back doing that as a special assistant for the Phillies these days.

Scouts are the backbone of a successful organization.  Their names aren’t household but so vital.  They showed up to share the special weekend with Pat.  In his speech, he said, “I feel like I represent the guys in the trenches.” 

John Scheurholz, Bobby Cox, GMs Dave Dombrowski, Walt Jocketty, Bob Melvin and Kevin Towers were among his former colleagues that journeyed to Cooperstown.  That was quite a tribute.

Pat’s now a member of a special fraternity, Hall of Famers. The weekend is an annual reunion which will be part of his life going forward. 

The Otesaga Hotel is the headquarters.  Fans are not permitted on the property, only those with HOF credentials. The north side of the hotel features a long veranda that overlooks Lake Otesgo, a body of water that stretches nine miles, farther than the eye can see. The veranda was filled with Hall of Famers and their families.  So was the lobby.

Two of Pat’s teammates from the 1959 Stockton, CA, minor league team came from the west coast to share the weekend with Pat, INF Pete Ward and OF Ray Youngdahl.  They left after Pat’s speech on Sunday to drive to Chicago to get a flight to the west coast. That’s dedication to an old teammate.

Hall of Fame umpire Doug Harvey broke in pro ball in the same year in the same league as Pat.  He and Pat relived memories and talked baseball.  “Did you know Doug could recite the rule book?” Pat asked.  “He’s never been asked by baseball to talk to young umpires about umpiring.  That’s a mistake.”

Pat, a left-handed pitcher, spent time with Earl Weaver, his manager 51 years ago in the minor leagues.  When asked for a scouting report on Pat, Weaver said, “I thought he was a prospect.  Great curve ball and great pick-off move.  I had him twice.  When he decided to enter player development with the Astros, Pat called me for advice.  I told him I thought he was a prospect but he had to make the final decision.  I guess he made the right decision.”

Inductees were given guidelines for the acceptance speeches. No. 1, limit is 10 minutes.  At breakfast on Friday morning, Pat said, “Just rehearsed my speech….again.  Came to 10 minutes, 20 seconds.  Guess I have to cut off 20 seconds,” he said laughing.

While walking past his room two hours before the Sunday ceremonies, one could faintly hear him rehearsing again.  Pat’s an emotional person and he shows that emotion very easily.  Everyone who knew Pat well, expected tears during his speech.  Everyone was wrong.  But, the tears came when he went to sit down.

A bus load of Phillies employees made the trip for Sunday’s induction.  With the team at home, not as many employees could attend.  Phillies executives, who shared many a meeting with Pat when he was the GM, were there for the weekend and departed after Sunday’s ceremony so they could be back in time for Monday’s afternoon game with the Padres.

Pat will be back at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday night.  The Phillies will salute him pre-game.  Tears?  Book it.

Important Conference Call

Well, if the Phillies are going to win their eighth straight series, today’s game is a must win.  I know, I know, that isn’t a brilliant deduction.  Everyone can figure that out after the Cubs and Phillies split the first two games.

Who would have thought that Michael Martinez would have 11 RBI this month?  He came through once again Tuesday night.  Another three-rookie show: Martinez, Stutes and Bastardo.  Add Worley and Brown as two more rookies who are having an impact.

While what happens in Wrigley Field today obviously helps shape the season.

Back in Citizens Bank Park, there’s a conference call this morning that may also have an impact on the shape of the season.  Ruben Amaro Jr. conducts his weekly conference call with his staff, advisors, special assistants and pro scouts. 

You know they are not talking about bowling or the British Open or the weather.

Improving the ballclub on the field is an on-going process which intensifies at this time of the year, mainly because of the July 31 trade deadline.  The Phillies are just one of many teams working on potential trades.

Between now and then numerous websites will be flooded with numerous rumors.  Some rumors have validity, others are a writer’s dream and others potentially are started by player agents.  Everybody seems to get in the act.  For the media, it is a game as to who can break a story first.

Other pro sports also have trade deadlines but none have the major news importance as baseball. 

Stay tuned.

Heat Ends Streak

Mother Nature did what grown men couldn’t.  Doc’s streak of 63 consecutive road games of at lest six innings ended on Monday night when the heat caused him to leave after four innings in a loss in Chicago.

So, Hall of Famer Walter Johnson’s road streak of 82 straight games of at least six innings is safe.  He started that streak 100 years ago.

Unfortunately, the heat produced cold bats for the Phillies, three singles, a double and J-Roll’s homer.  They’re 2-2 on this trip.

Wrigley and Doc don’t seem to mesh.  He’s now 0-3 in three starts there, including an 11-6 decision in his first post-All-Star Game start a year ago.  As is the case now, the Phillies began the second half on the road in 2010, going 1-6 in Chicago and St. Louis.

Alumni Notes
Larry Bowa will be signing autographs and greeting fans at the Reading Phillies game on Thursday night . . . The next night is 1980s Retro Night at Citizens Bank Park.  Al Holland, the 1983 NL Fireman of the Year Award winner, will throw out the first ball that night and sign autographs pre-game the next day . . . Tickets are on sale now for the August 12 Phillies Alumni Luncheon for seniors in the Diamond Club.  Guests include John Kruk, Mitch Williams and no-hit pitchers Jim Bunning, Rick Wise and Tommy Greene and second baseman Tony Taylor.  To register just call 215 463-1000.

Down On The Farm
Lehigh Valley was held to 5 hits in losing, 4-1, to Pawtucket’s Brandon Duckworth . . . RHS Austin Hyatt (8-5) struck out a season-high 10 in Reading’s 3-2 win in New Hampshire.  Phillies pulled to within 3.5 games of first place with their third straight win . . . RHS Jarred Cosart (7-8) had a nightmarish first inning, allowing 7 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks in Clearwater’s 19-7 drubbing at Port St. Lucie.  OF Brian Gump pitched a scoreless eighth for the Threshers . . . Lakewood dropped a 7-3 decision at Kannapolis . . . Williamsport had just 4 singles in losing, 5-1, at State College . . . Gulf Coast League Phillies edged the Yankees, 3-2, as LHP Luis Gonzalez (1-2) won with 3 scoreless relief innings.

7th Straight Series Wins

The pattern continues: winning a series.  Over the weekend in New York, the Phillies took two games and won their seventh straight series.  Last time they lost a series was June 17-19 in Seattle.

Elias Sports Bureau: Vance became the second rookie in the last 40 seasons to start the first game after an All-Star break for a team that had the best record in the majors.  Craig McMurtry of the Braves did it at the Expos in 1983.

Cole lost on Saturday.  The Mets have his number as they are 10-3 against him, all 10 wins since 2007.

Kyle came up big on Sunday, one run in seven innings.  Antonio saved the win and gave up his first hit since June 5.  That’s an incredible streak.  He fanned the last batter of the game, the only strikeout for Phillies pitchers on Sunday.  That’s incredible.

Offensively, the Phillies have scored six runs per game in their last 12 games, second-best in the league this month.  ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick had a note last week that run production in two leagues is at its lowest level in two decades.  So, when the Phillies don’t score, it’s just not them.

J-Roll Continues Climbing
Jimmy had three hits on Sunday, putting him fourth place on the Phillies all-time list (1,814) behind Hall of Famers Ed Delahanty (2,217), Richie Ashburn (2,217) and Mike Schmidt (2,234).  That’s pretty heavy company.

Team flew from New York Sunday night for Chicago and a three-game series with the Cubs starting on Monday night . . . Tuesday night’s game will be telecast by the MLB Network . . . Phillies are 270-172 since 2005 following the All-Star Game break; during the last four playoff-run seasons, 182-112, best in the NL . . . Broadcaster Tom McCarthy was inducted into the Trenton Thunder Hall of Fame last Thursday night and had the broadcast booth named after him.  He started his baseball broadcasting career there in 1993.

Down On The Farm
Lehigh Valley won 2 of 3 vs. Syracuse and moved 18 games over .500, a franchise record . . . Reading took 2 of 3 in Trenton. Shane stole home in the first inning on Sunday afternoon in his rehab assignment.  He’s eligible to come off the DL on Tuesday . . . Clearwater dropped 2 of 3 in Port Charlotte; RHS Julio Rodriguez improved to 11-6 on Saturday . . . Lakewood won 2 of 3; LHS Jesse Biddle tossed 7 shutout innings on Friday night; 8 strikeouts . . . Williamsport won all 3, stretching its winning streak to 5. RHS Colin Kleven tossed 7, 2-hit scoreless innings on Saturday . . . Gulf Coast League Phillies split a pair against the Braves.  RHS Ramon Oviedo pitched 7 no-hit innings on Saturday afternoon.



Answering E-Mails

From David: I grew up in northern Bucks County and attended games at Connie Mack Stadium and watched many Phillies games on TV. In a discussion with SABR members, we got on the subject of players actually hitting the ball when the pitcher was trying to intentionally walk them. My memory obviously can be wrong, but it tells me that in the mid-60s, during a game I watched  Clay Dalrymple did exactly that, getting a single over the third baseman. Is there anyone still in the organization who might remember if that occurred?
I’ve been around the Phillies since 1964 and I don’t remember such a situation.  I never found scorebooks from prior to 1964.  Chances are it would never be noted in a scorebook, anyway. However, since you mentioned Clay Dalrymple, I gave him a call.  While he couldn’t recall specifics such as the team or the pitcher or the year, he did remember taking a swing at a pitch while being intentionally walked.  ‘I was a pull hitter and liked the ball in but the first two pitches were just off the plate, maybe 1-2 inches outside, almost close enough to be called a strike.  I thought to myself, I can go out there and get an opposite field hit if the third pitch was close.  I swung and hit a line drive but the ball went foul.  Next two pitches were way outside.’”
From Alex: Will Willie Montanez be appearing at this year’s Alumni Night on August 13?
“Willie isn’t on our invitation list.  Good suggestion for the future years.  We try to rotate out-of-town Alumni for that night and weekend.  Still working on those who will be here.  I can tell you three of our Alumni who tossed no-hitters, Jim Bunning, Rick Wise and Tommy Greene, will be there.  We tried to get Terry Mulholland but he has another commitment.”
From Michael: I have a Phillies hat from the early to mid 90″s. It is all blue with a red “P”. I believe it was worn in games and I am curious as to what year the hat was worn by the team. Can you send me a brief history of Phillies hats, or can you help me get in touch with some one that can help me? Cheyenne, WY.
“The hat to which you are referring was worn in 1994.  Our idea was for day games but after we lost so many day games, superstition took over and we discontinued wearing them.  You must be the only person in Wyoming wearing such a hat.”
From John: I love John Kruk but Dave Cash deserves to be in the Wall of Fame.  I credit him with being the first to change the losing attitude to a positive ‘Yes We Can.’
“You are correct in that Dave Cash helped change the losing attitude.  However, he doesn’t qualify for our Wall of Fame as he played only three seasons with the Phillies.  To be eligible, a player must have five or more years of service.  In addition, position players require a minimum of 700 games, while pitchers need a minimum of 180 games to fully qualify.”
From Ed: As a long-time Phillies fan dating back to the late 1950’s, I am generally interested in seeing the names of players chosen every year for the annual Wall of Fame award. While I think John Kruk is probably deserving, I hope the selection committee will not neglect people who played for the team 30, 40 and 50 years ago. In that context, I would like to suggest consideration next year of two other players who distinguished themselves for the Phillies in the 1960’s, the 1970’s and early 1980’s.They are Tony Gonzales and Ron Reed
“Both Tony Gonzalez and Ron Reed have been on our ballot and neither received many votes so they were no longer included.  Granted Tony was on the ballot during our Veterans Stadium days.  Ron has been more recent.  A group of us reviews the eligible Alumni every January in deciding the names for the ballot.  It is possible one or both could be on the 2012 ballot.  We’ll have to wait and see.”
From Janice: Are the Phillies having another Alumni Luncheon for Seniors and if so, when?”

“We’ve added the luncheon to our August Alumni weekend.  It will be held on Thursday noon, August 11, with the Wall of Fame inductions on Friday, August 12, Alumni Night on Saturday, August 13 and some new Alumni surprises for Sunday, August 14.  Tickets are on sale now for the luncheon that will include John Kruk, Mitch Williams, Jim Bunning, Tony Taylor, Rick Wise and Tommy Greene.  Details on how to buy tickets are on this website.”

From Roy: Whatever happened to Bobby Wine?
“Bobby has retired from baseball after 54 years in the game, 16 as a player, 19 as a major league coach and 19 as an advance scout in the majors.  He was the Braves’ advance scout for the last 14 years, working with Bobby Cox.  In the next edition of Phillies Magazine, the Alumni feature called ‘Catching Up With…’ will be about Bobby.”


Expected vs. Unexpected

Expectations for the Phillies were sky high when the season got underway back on April 1.  Harry Kalas’ favorite song, “High Hopes”, was certainly fitting.

Well, we’ve played 91 and have 71 more to go in the regular season.  It has been an interesting  91 games, to say the least.  Expectations were met in some areas (57-34 at the break with a 3.5 game lead, largest of any division).  And, there were unexpected developments, many.

Injuries entered the picture, which can be expected in any sport.  As Charlie would say, “We play with what we have.”

Brad, the No. 1 closer, never started the season.  Then, Jose, the No. 2 closer, went down, twice.  Then, Ryan, the No. 3 closer, went down.

Rookie Antonio Bastardo was expected to be an early-inning, situational lefty.  Next, he moved in as Madson’s set-up man and then became closer #4.  In that unexpected role, he has been lights out. Of the last 45 hitters he has faced, one has gotten a hit.  Folks, that’s a .022 batting average. Rookie Michael Stutes began the season in AAA, came up and has stepped in as the late-inning set-up ace.  Expected or unexpected?

Juan Perez, a minor league free agent signee in the off-season, came up this month as the second lefty in the pen. All he did last week was become the second Phillies pitcher ever to strike out the side on nine pitches.  That has to qualify as unexpected.

Two of the fab-five starters, Roy-O and Joe, have been injured, limited to a combined 19 starts and a 5-8 record. Unecpected for sure.  
Doc, Cliff and Cole have become baseball’s most dominating three-some, winning 31 of the Phillies 57 games.  That would classify as expected.  Rookie Vance Worley stepped in for Roy-O/Joe and is 4-1.  Unexpected.

Cliff got a curtain call last Saturday after hitting his first home run ever.  It was the lone run in an extra-inning loss and followed by a 14-1, 20-hit romp the next day.  That may qualify as a double unexpected.

The offense has produced fewer runs than a year ago, which is unexpected.  Ryan leads the club in homers and RBI, expected. 

At the break, the Phillies had two pitchers with 10 or more wins and two hitters with 10 homers.   Figure out that one.

Raul has had a cold April, hot May, cold June and hot July.  His 6 RBI on Sunday were one more than his June total .  5 RBI in a month for him? Unexpected.

Sunday’s starting lineup included rookies Michael Martinez (3B), John Mayberry Jr. (CF) and Domonic Brown (RF).  Only Brown was expected when the season started.  In that game, Martinez had a career high in hits; Mayberry, a career high in doubles and RBI. The trio finished 10-for-15 with 6 RBI. That would probably classify as unexpected.

Which brings us to the last 71 games.  What can be expected?  Who knows?