September 2011

FIL Begins Today

While the big league Phillies are winding down their season before beginning postseason play next, 52 of their minor leaguers will be honing their skills in the Florida Instructional League in Clearwater, FL.
Players started working out today at the Carpenter Field Complex.  Games will begin on September 26 and end October 15.  While the daily workouts will take place at Carpenter Field, the games will be played at Bright House Field.  Game times are 1 p.m., except for Saturdays when they begin at 10 a.m.  No games will be played on Sundays.
Other teams in the FIL include the Yankees, Pirates, Blue Jays and Tigers.
Coordinators: Mike Compton, field; Gorman Heimueller, pitching; Steve Henderson, hitting; Doug Mansolino, infield.
Staff: Mickey Morandini, manager; Frank Cacciatore, hitting; Carlos Arroyo, pitching;  Les Lancaster, pitching; Mark Parent, instructor; Dusty Wathan, instructor and Brett Gross, video rep
Pitchers: Gabriel Arias, Jesse Biddle, James Birmingham, Lisalverto Bonilla, Ranfi Casimiro, Lendy Castillo, Brody Colvin, J. Dygestile-Therrien, Percival Garner, Ken Giles, Steven Inch, Ulises Joaquin, Jay Johnson, Colin Kleven, Ervis Manzanillo, Lino Martinez, Adam Morgan, Hector Neris, Ramon Oviedo, J. C. Ramirez, Yacksel Rios, Braden Shull, Ethan Stewart, Joshua Warner, Austin Wright.
Catchers: Francisco Diaz, Logan Moore, Chase Numata, Cameron Rupp, Robert Stumpo.
Infielders: Cody Ashe, Albert Cartwright, Edgar Dugan, Maikel Franco, Gustavo Gonzalez, Tyler Grene, Cesar Hernandez, Harold Martinez, Roman Quinn, Brock Stassi, Alejandro Villalobos, Mitch Walding.
Outfielders: Aaron Altherr, Zach Collier, Gauntlett Eldemire, Tyson Gillies, Larry Greene, Kyrell Hudson, Jonathan Knight, Brian Pointer, Carlos Tocci, Jiandido Tromp.






Bubbly Time

The Sherwin Williams clock in centerfield at Citizens Bank Park registered 10:10 when the Phillies clinched their fifth straight division crown nd 11th since division play began in 1969.
Players begun hugging to the right of the mound, the clubhouse crew hustled out with postseason hats and division championship jerseys, fireworks filled the air, the Liberty Bell swung back and forth and Phillie Phanatic appeared waving a large while banner with blue lettering, 2011.  Another sellout continued standing and cheering. It doesn’t get old.
A baseball season is a grueling grind of 162 games, ups and downs, peaks and valleys. The Phillies took over first place for good on April 27.  Winning the division title was a sure thing but until it happens, there’s still the feeling that anything can happen.
Bubbly was everywhere in the clubhouse as the players celebrated.  30 minutes after the game was over, a small group of fans were still in the stands singing High Hopes.  Players appeared from the clubhouse to the cheers of those still there.  Bastardo and Martinez chased a dry Samuel on the field and finally doused him with the bubbly.  Welcome, Sammy.
Roy-O certainly looked like he was ready for the postseason with another brilliant outing by another starter.  Trailing 3-0, the Cardinals cut the gap with two in the eighth, but the Phillies put a bigger crooked number on the board in their turn.
While it doesn’t appear in the box score, Chase hustled to second base on Hunter’s grounder to short causing Furcal to double clutch before throwing to first.  Hunter was busting all the way and beat the throw.  Raul followed with the exclamation point, his ninth career grand slam.  Madson closed it out in the ninth and the Phillies did something no other current team has done, win the division five straight years.
Atlanta holds the record for consecutive titles, 14, with the Yankees second at nine.  The Phillies and A’s are next, five each.
Twelve more games remain in the regular season.  Then, three seasons follow, five games, seven games and seven games.  A few more wins and the Phillies will clinch the home field advantage for the entire postseason.  With fans as their 10th man, it should be a lot of fun in October when legends are made.
We’re living the greatest era in Phillies history.  Enjoy and cherish the ride.


Shhhhhh, Offense Asleep

The inevitable will happen.  It is just taking a little longer for the Phillies to wrap up the NL East.
Once again, the starting pitcher was stingy.  Vance allowed one run in six innings before exiting with a 106-pitch account.  In 11 of his 20 starts, he’s allowed a run or less, pretty impressive for a rookie.
Once again, the offense slumbered.  That’s eight straight games of three runs or less, producing a 4-4 record.  Top four in the batting order were hitless in 18 at-bats.  That tells the story.
So, the Phillies are 30-40 in games in which they score three or fewer runs.  Now the shocker, that’s the best record for that category in the majors which is a true test of the pitching staff.
Earliest date in which the Phillies have clinched is September 26, 1976, in Montreal.  It is inevitable that 2011 will happen sooner than that date.
Following Lehigh Valley’s loss in the International League championship playoff, 4-1 (four hits for the second straight game), the Phillies recalled seven players from the IronPigs: LHR Joe Savery, RHR Justin DeFratus, C Erik Kratz, OF Domonic Brown and OF Brandon Moss. 
LV manager Ryne Sandberg will join the coaching staff for the rest of the season.
Alumni Views
What changes would make in baseball?  Question was posed to Phillies Alumni.
Bob Miller,(RHP, 1949-58)
“I would like to keep the DH.  Less replays, more wildcard teams is fine but keep the first round to best-of-five. One other thing, too many talkers in baseball broadcasts. Some of these former players talk way too much.  Let me just watch the game.”

Billiant Pitching

Brilliant pitching and an offense that has gone into off-season hibernation too early.  That’s the Phillies right now.  They have scored three or fewer runs in seven straight games and yet, they are 4-3, because of the pitching.
KK, Cliff and the bullpen did a job on Thursday in taking two from the Marlins.  Earlier in the season, Phillies also won a pair against them, the first time they have won two DH from one team in one season since 1983 (Montreal).
Cliff was one pitch away from a 1-0 victory when he hung an 0-2 cutter for a game-tying home run.  Ryan Howard doubled in the winning run in the 10th, his first walk-off hit since 7/9/10.
The homer against Cliff broke a scoreless streak of 29 innings at Citizens Bank Park, where he is 11-2 with one more regular-season start. All-time best record at home belongs to Steve Carlton, 17-3, at the Vet in 1974.
DH was created by Irene rainouts in late August.  During the first game Thursday, it did rain, prompting LA to quip, “Irene’s sister showed up.” Game time temp for the first game was 74; after the cold front came through, the temp for the start of the night game had dropped to 57.
Ibanez hit his 30th double, giving him 10 straight seasons reaching that number. Only other player to match him is Albert Pujols . . . Phillies have 51 wins at home, 9th time they have reached or topped 50, all since 1975 . . . Since Hunter joined the Phillies on July 30, they have had their “regular” starting lineup only three games . . . Cardinals start a four-game, four-day series on Friday night.  Included is an 8:05 Sunday Night national telecast on ESPN . . . Scoring more than 3 runs, Phils are 68-11; three or less, 30-39.
Down On The Farm
Lehigh Valley’s offense was in hibernation too, four singles, in losing 6-2 to Columbus.  Clippers lead the best-of-5 series, 2-1, with the next game tonight in Columbus.
Alumni Views
What changes would make in baseball?  Question was posed to Phillies Alumni.
Greg Luzinski, (OF, 1970-80)
“Less replays because umpires calls are what make the game special. Keep divisions the same and no more wildcards as the season is long enough. Adding more wildcard teams would give someone you beat during the season a second chance.  Play more games in your division and cancel inter-league play. Make the World Series very special by matching two leagues against each other.  I guess I’m old school.”



Doc Delivers

Since 2004, the Astros are 32-21 against the Phillies, the best record in the NL against Charie’s crew.
Last time the Phillies were swept in a series of three or more games, August 2010, a four-gamer at Citizens Bank Park. Yep, the Astros.
Owning the highest ERA in the NL, the Astros held the Phillies to four runs in three games and almost pulled off another sweep.
Wednesday, Doc got one of those four runs and made it stand up, sending the Phillies into the postseason for the fifth straight year.  It was his 20th shutout, most among active pitchers.  It was the Phillies 21st this season, and, are you ready for this, his first. Hard to believe, Harry.
Phillies flew home and need to sleep fast because they have two games against the Marlins on Thursday, the first at 2:35 p.m.  So, 16 more games in 14 days.
Clinching a postseason berth in their 146th game, is yet another club record by this bunch.  In 1915, they won the NL pennant in their 147th.  Schedule back then was 152 games.
So, the Phillies have made it to five straight postseasons.  Between 1883 and 1978, they totaled five. 
Alumni Views
What changes would you make in baseball?  That question was posed to Phillies Alumni.
Jim Kaat, (LHP, 1976-79)
“Eliminate the DH, soften the baseball, disallow a lot of the light laminated bats (no bat lighter than 32 oz), liberalize the strike zone and trips to mound to make pitching changes (no visits).”
Down On The Farm
Scoring all their runs in the last of the eighth inning, the Columbus Clippers evened the International League best-of-five championship series at 1-1 with a 4-1 decision over the IronPigs.
Series shifts to Coca-Cola Park for the next three games, if needed.  Game #3 is Thursday night.




Temporarily Out Of Order

A personal situation has arisen that will keep me from posting Phillies Insider, hopefully for only a short period of time.

Sorry to take time off during this fun and historical season but one can’t control situations that occur.

Hopefully you will hang in until I can crank it up again.

Thank You, Larry Shenk





Winning With Defense

Everyone recognizes the Phillies starting pitching is airtight.  The offensive weapons can produce big numbers.  Overlooked, is a phase of the game in which the Phillies excel, defense.
Defense was the difference in the Phillies’ Saturday night win in Milwaukee.  Ryan Howard made a brilliant diving stop of a sure double in the ninth, Hawkins threw away a Ruiz bunt allowing the winning run to score and with two on and two out in the last of the 10th, Polly and Ryan combined on a great defensive play to give the Phillies their sixth straight win.
It marks the 21st time the Phillies are in a position for sweep.  They have swept three four-game series and have two more four-gamers on the final homestand, St. Louis and Washington.  Overall, they have won 33 series, lost 11 and split three.
Defensively, the Phillies have just 62 errors, lowest total in the majors.  The club record for the fewest is 76, two years ago.  Club record for the most, 403, in 1904.  Hope I’m not around when that record is broken.
**In winning six straight, they have out-scored the enemy, 33-12.  That includes 18-0 in runs scored with two out.
**When scoring first, they are 69-18.
**When they hit at least one home run, 71-16.
**Vance Worley and Michael Stutes, both drafted in 2008, are a combined 17-2.
Alumni Reunion
Milwaukee has three, manager Ron Roenicke, lefty Randy Wolf, who started on Saturday night, and Don Money, their AAA manager who is with the big club for the rest of the season.  Bob Uecker can be added in the broadcast booth.
Phillies fly to Houston after Sunday’s game.  The Astros have manager Brad Mills, starters the next two nights, Brett Myers and J. A. Happ and outfielder Jason Michaels.
Down On the Farm
**Lehigh Valley advanced to the International League Governor’s Cup championship round (best-of-five) by sweeping Pawtucket as Kevin Bass threw a complete game, 3-1, win over the Red Sox Saturday night.  Series with the Clippers begins with two games in Columbus, Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
**Reading was shut out in its playoff opener, evened the series with and 11-2 romp and was blanked, 1-0, on three singles Saturday night by New Hampshire.  RHP Austin Hyatt fanned nine in seven innings, allowing a run on three hits. Game #4 is tonight in Reading. RHP Tyson Brummett will start.


Doc Delivers

Doc delivered on the mound, Ryan with the long ball and the Phillies posted their 44th road victory, most in the majors, on Friday night.  Inning five straight against two playoff bound teams, the Phillies have outscored the Braves/Brewers, 30-10.

Uncharacteristically Doc walked three, a season high.  In true form, he allowed four hits and struck out nine to reach 200 strikeouts for the fourth straight year and fifth time in his career.

He joins Cliff in the 200 strikeout club, only the third time in Phillies history they’ve had a pair in that club.  Others were Jim Bunning (268) and Chris Short (237) in 1965 and Doc (219) and Cole (211) a year ago.

Charlie’s #2
The win was Charlie’s 637th, passing Harry Wright for second place on the Phillies all-time list.  Gene Mauch’s 645 wins are the most and Charlie is fast approaching the record.

Who is Harry Wright?

Thanks to the Phillies Encyclopedia, here’s an answer to that question:

A native of Sheffield, England, Wright managed the first professionl baseball team, the Cincinnati Redlegs in 1869.  That team didn’t lose a game for a year and a-half. It traveled 12,000 miles with nine men.

After the Phillies disastrous first season (17-81 in 1883), owner Al Reach, hired Wright as the manager, proclaiming “we need a real manager.”  From 1870 through 1881, Wright managed the Boston Red Stockings and won six pennants in 11 seasons.

Wright managed the Phils from 1884 through 1893, although he missed 65 games during the 1890 season because of temporary blindness.  Three others managed the Phillies until he returned for the final 55 games of the season.

While he never won a pennant, the Phillies finished in the first division nine times in 10 seasons. His final numbers: 636-566, a .530 percentage.  He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953.

Wright died at age 60 and is buried in the West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.

One more note….Wright brought flannel uniforms into the game and was the first one to cut away the pant legs, producing knickers.  “What I had in mind,” he said, “was fewer clothes.  You couldn’t play ball well with inches of flannel flapping around your ankles.  This was a special misfortune to the infielders who were likely to gather in their trouser bottoms when they reached for the ball.”

Today’s uniform style must have Wright turning over in his grave.

Down On The Farm
**Lehigh Valley OF Brandon Moss drove in all the runs with a double, home run and walk-off, 10th-innning single as the IronPigs won, 3-2, to take a 2-0 lead over Pawtucket in the best-of-5 series.  RH Justin DeFratus, who recorded a save in the series opening win, was the winner on Friday night, striking out five of the six batters he faced. Scene shifts to Pawtucket for the next two games.

**Reading cruised, 11-2, at New Hampshire to tie the best-of-5 series at 1-1.  CF Derrick Mitchell drove in five runs with a single, double and triple.  Win went to RH J. C. Ramirez, 0 runs, 1 hit, 6 innings.  Game #3 is Saturday night in Reading.  Tickets are available.

Charlie’s Benchmen

Playing in front of a sold out Miller Park in what many perceive as a postseason match, Cole closed the door on the Brewers on Thursday night.

He tossed a complete game, the 17th for the Phillies, which is the most in the majors since the Orioles staff had the same number in 1999.

Once again, the Phillies offense came to life with two outs, this time the sixth inning.  They scored six times to really seal the game.  The Phillies have scored 283 runs with two out, the most in the majors.

Playing without Howard or Utley or Rollins for the first time since September 12, 2004, didn’t matter.  Charlie’s Benchmen, Mayberry Jr., Valdez, Martinez and Francisco, combined for 7 hits in 16 at-bats, three runs scored and three RBI.

The win boosted the Phillies record against teams above .500 to 42-23 and tied Charlie with Harry Wright for the second most wins for a Phillies manager, 636.  Gene Mauch is the leader at 645.

One more number note: Phillies are 111-62 in September since 2005, best in the NL.

Down On The Farm
**Lehigh Valley didn’t hit a home run in any of its last 10 games but rode the long ball from Erik Kratz, Brandon Moss and Freddy Galvis in beating Pawtucket, 4-2, in Game 1 of the best-of-5 playoff series.  David Bush got the win with Justin DeFratus, the save.  Ryan Edell starts Friday night in Game 2 at Coca-Cola Park.

**Reading was blanked, 2-0, on four singles at New Hampshire in the first game of a best-of-5 playoff round in the Eastern League.  Tyler Cloyd was the loser;  J. C. Ramirez starts in Game 2 Friday night.  Series then shifts to Reading on Saturday night and Sunday, if necessary.

Fall Ball
Phillies will have seven players on the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League, which runs from October 4 through November 19.

The group includes 1B Cody Overbeck, 1B/DH Darin Ruf, OF Tyson Gillies, RHS Tyler Cloyd, LHR Jacob Diekman, RHR B. J. Rosenberg and RHR Colby Shreve.

Alumni Views
What changes would you like to see in Major League Baseball? That question was posed to Phillies Alumni. 

Kevin Jordan (INF, 1995-2001)
“No DH, no instant relay (four sets of eyes should be enough to call the game), more day games during the season and especially the postseason.  Teachers could wheel TVs into classrooms for the kids to watch the games.  More MLB games in other countries to share the MLB experience.”

Today in Phillies History
Getting a call from your general manager around 4 in the morning usually isn’t good news.  On this date in 1997, the news was shocking….Richie Ashburn had died in his New York hotel room.

Whitey goes down as one of the most beloved sports figures this city has known.

New Hero

Another win, another hero.

Ross came off the bench and delivered a game-winning hit in the ninth inning last night sending the Phillies on the road to Milwaukee and the Braves to New York.

His game-winning hit was the third by a Phillies pinch hitter, Mayberry and Francisco the other two.  According to Elias Sports Bureau the Phillies had gone five seasons (2006-2010) without a game-winning hit by a pinch hitter. Last time they had three: 1984, Greg Gross, Len Matuszek and Sixto Lezcano.

Roy-O looked more like Roy-O.  With three or four more starts, he’ll get primed for the post season.

Chase is the latest injury.  The Phillies are being very cautious after he was hit on the back of the helmet by an O’Flaherty pitch.  Despite all the injuries, the Phillies keep on marching.  This truly is an amazing bunch.

Brew Crew
Phillies took a Delta charter flight to Milwaukee where they begin a four-game series tonight.  Since Miller Park opened in 2001, Phillies are 15-15 there in the regular season.

The Brewers, managed for Phillies Alumnus Ron Roenicke, are the hottest team in the NL, 40-16 since July 6. (Phillies are second, 36-16, during that time frame). Milwaukee  owns the best home record in the majors, 50-19, winning 21 of their last 27.  They’ve been in first place for 76 days.

Good news: Brewers are 4-11 on Thursdays.

Not surprisingly, MLB denied the Phillies protest in Florida.  Joe Torre made the announcement in a one-sentence press release yesterday.

What is surprising and disappointing is that there was no explanation, at least publically.  So fans will never know why.

Washed Out
Both Lehigh Valley and Reading were washed out of their playoff openers.

LV will now have home games tonight and Friday and then head for Pawtucket.  Reading will play tonight and Friday night in New Hampshire and then return home for Saturday and Sunday (if necessary).  Yesterday, I posted that Reading didn’t begin their best-of-5 round until tonight.  Well, wrong again!

Minor League Notes
**Lehigh Valley, Reading, Clearwater and Lakewood led their respective leagues in total attendance and average attendance.  Clearwater broke its record set a year ago.

**SS Freddy Galvis, a 21-year-old switch hitter, finished strong, winning the Phillies minor league player of the month for August and the Paul Owens Award.  An outstanding defensive shortstop, he’s made significant improvement with the bat this season (combined .278 average in AA/AAA, 28 doubles, 5 triples, 8 home runs).

**RHP Trevor May of the Clearwater Threshers won the Paul Owens Award for pitchers after leading the organization with 208 strikeouts (151.1 innings).  The 21-year-old was 10-8, 3.63 ERA for 27 starts.  Galvis and May will receive their awards pre-game on September 18.

**LHP Joe Savery won the pitching honors last month and capped an interesting season.  After a 1-12 record in AAA a year ago (28 games, 19 starts), he was converted into a first baseman in spring training and won the player of the month award after hitting .450 in April at Clearwater.  Promoted to AA on June 17, he hit .200 in 16 games and started relieving 10 days later.  Strictly working out of the bullpen, he was promoted to AAA on July 14. Joe finished the season with a 4-0 record, 1.80 ERA in 18 appearances at LV.

Blog Report
MLB has released its blog rankings for August.

**Fan category: congrats to Phillies Phollowers, ranked #6, the highest for any Phillies fan blog.

**MLB Pro: Phillies Insider, #16, moving up from #31 in July.  Thanks to all you readers.

** Beat Writers: Zo Zone by Todd Zolecki, continues as #1.  Another tribute to Phillies readers.