Phillies-Mets: Power Surge Against New York Pulls Philadelphia Back into First

May 3, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies recovered quite nicely from Friday’s 9-1 drubbing by the New York Mets. And how!

The Phillies followed up Saturday’s 10-0 Roy Halladay (5-1, 1.47 ERA) shutout with a power-surged 11-5 drubbing of the Mets on Sunday night to vault the team back into first place over the Mets by a half game.

The second series of the 10-game homestand starts tonight at 7 p.m. as the Cardinals Jamie Garcia (2-1, 1.04) faces Joe Blanton, who is fresh off the disabled list.

Going into Saturday’s game, the pitching matchups favored the Mets. They had Mike Pelfry and Johan Santana pitching Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The Mets Mike Pelfry, who had a 4-0 and 0.69 ERA prior to the game, got lit up for six runs in four innings on Saturday.

Seems the fourth inning has been a magic potion for the Phils. They have scored 15 runs in their last two games in the fourth inning against the Mets.

But it is no accident for a patient, good-hitting team. In the fourth inning, batters get their second look at the starter, enough time to judge the tendencies of his pitches.

And the fourth inning in last night’s game is worth recounting: the Phillies sent 13 men to the plate and scored nine runs, all with two outs.

Here is the breakdown: Trailing 5-2, Chase Utley leads off with a double. Ryan Howard flies out, Jayson Werth grounds out, Utley to third. Two outs.

Raul Ibanez singles to score Utley, 5-3. Juan Castro singles, Ruiz walks to load the bases for Jamie Moyer. Johan Santana goes 2-0 on Moyer and the opposing pitcher works a seven-pitch bases-loaded walk. 5-4 Mets.

Which bring up Shane Victorino. Gone. Grand slam. 8-5 Phillies. Don’t blink: Placido Polanco singles, then Utley hits a deep home run to left. 10-5. Ryan Howard singles, Jayson Werth doubles, Howard scores. 11-5 Phillies. Ibanez grounds out to end the inning.

Game over.

Santana, who is lifted after Utley’s home run, is charged with 10 runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings of work.

I am the happiest when the Phillies offense is stupid good.

It does not matter who the pitcher is.

I credit Moyer’s walk to spark the big inning. Mets manager Jerry Manuel on the television sports highlights credited Raul Ibanez’s hit. Sure, it continued the inning.

One thing for sure: The Mets are better than last year.

It might not be enough.

** Picture courtesy of  


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Ryan Howard: Phillies’ $125M Deal With Howard Makes Lots of Cents

April 27, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Hours before the Philadelphia Phillies failed to make the necessary plays in a 5-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants, they made one huge play off the field.

The Phillies announced they had locked up slugger Ryan Howard to a five-year, $125 million contract extension that could keep the All-Star first baseman in Philadelphia through 2017.

The contract runs through 2016, with a club option for 2017 that could raise the value of the deal to $138 million.

The extension makes Howard, who will average $25 million per year, the second wealthiest player in baseball, just behind Yankee third baseman, Alex Rodriguez, who makes $27.5 million in a 10-year deal that runs through 2017.

Howard has been a model of consistency since becoming an everyday player in 2005. He has averaged 49 home runs and 143 RBI over the past four years.

As much as Howard has been a fan favorite, things have not gone as well on the contract front, until now.

In 2008, Howard made $10 million in arbitration when the Phillies were offering $7 million.

Howard avoided arbitration last year when he signed a three-year, $54 million contract extension.

It is clear that the Phillies and Howard, through his agent Casey Close, have remained in contract talks throughout the offseason, as quoted in the .

“I knew I wanted to stay in Philly,” said Howard, whose new deal will begin in 2012, after his current 3-year extension expires. “I’ve grown so accustomed to the fans—it’s a special relationship with the fans—and just with what the organization has done. This is the organization that gave me an opportunity to make it in the big leagues, so for me, wanting to stay in Philly, that wasn’t a very hard decision.”

In economic terms, today’s dollar is more advantageous than tomorrow’s dollar. Howard would have cost more if both sides waited until the end of the 2011 season.

Also, according to baseball insider Jim Salisbury, sluggers Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez would become free agents after the 2011 season.

Now Pujols, Fielder and Gonzalez will base their salaries on Howard’s numbers, not the other way around. It would have been a crowded field of free agents in 2011 if the four sluggers were each seeking deep pocket suitors.

Howard’s signing could trigger more multi-year contracts among the remaining three.

Could you imagine: If Howard made $10 million in arbitration in 2008, what he would have made in the next two years?

It was smart to lock him up.

Howard’s two- to four-week stretch in the 2007 race for the NL East crown was incredible. Howard, like most power hitters, is streaky. He proved himself a leader again in the NLDS against Colorado.

His power numbers are not up yet, but he is hitting .265 with three home runs and 16 RBI.

He has shown up in camp the last two seasons in tremendous shape. I also notice him getting base hits to left field now, which in certain situations, will make the defensive power shift a deficiency.

Sign Howard, lock up Shane Victorino, lock up Roy Halladay until 2013, and trade Cliff Lee.

What about Jayson Werth, who had 36 home runs and 99 RBI last year?

That situation will work itself out, both sides have stated.

Who is in the core stock of players for the Phillies, and who is out?

For now, the Howard deal made a lot of sense.


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Phillies-Braves: Philadelphia Starters Key Series Win Over Atlanta

April 23, 2010 by  
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The Atlanta Braves media, team, and fans were absolutely giddy over Tuesday’s dramatic come-from-behind 4-3 win in the opener of the three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution story during the series compared the arrival of rookie sensation Jason Heyward to that of when Earvin “Magic” Johnson joined the Lakers.


Atlanta writers were singing a different song following Roy Halladay’s 2-0 shutout of the Braves on Wednesday, show courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

One writer pointed out that the Braves’ pitching will keep them afloat, but the holes in the batting order could sink the vessel.

He also said that counting starting pitcher Derek Lowe, the Braves started five men Thursday hitting .200 or less. They entered the game batting .227 as a team, second-worst in the National League.

The Braves are a good team. They are most likely to challenge the Phillies this season for the National League East division title.

But let’s get real: The Phillies took two out of three from the Braves and got good starting pitching in the process.

Kyle Kendrick went eight shutout innings on Tuesday, Halladay pitched a complete game, and ageless Jamie Moyer pitched six innings, giving up two unearned runs.

The injury bug continued to bite the Phillies, as they placed starter J.A. Happ on the 15-day disabled list.

Reliever J.C. Romero was activated for Thursday’s game, and Joe Blanton should make it back, hopefully for the San Francisco series or at month’s end at home against the Mets.

It was a good start to an important road trip that will take the Phillies to Arizona and San Francisco before heading home to face the Mets. The first game of the Mets series closes out April.

At 10-5 with a 1.5-game lead over Florida and a two-game lead over Atlanta, if the Phillies continue to win series at a 2-of-3 clip, that is .667 ball.

The Phillies pounded out 12 hits in Thursday’s win.

Tonight’s opener pits Cole Hamels (2-1, 3.86 ERA) and Kris Benson (0-1, 3.00) at 9:40 p.m. EST.

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Philadelphia Phillies-Atlanta Braves: Phils Face Early Test for NL East Race

April 20, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

The latest news out of Phillies camp was not promising: Starter J.A. Happ will miss tonight’s start against the Atlanta Braves due to stiffness in his elbow.

Instead, Kyle Kendrick (0-0, 17.47), pictured, will face Tommy Hanson (1-1, 2.38).

Other matchups feature Tim Hudson (1-0, 2.84) vs. Roy Halladay (3-0, 1.12) and Jamie Moyer (1-1, 7.50) against Derek Lowe (3.0, 4.67).

In the face of losing two of three games at home to the Marlins, facing the Braves’ quality starters looks like a mismatch.

I was listening to 610 WIP on the radio yesterday and Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated talk about baseball in general and the Phillies when asked.

He indicated that the Phillies offense was good enough to overcome questionable starting pitching.

The Phillies fattened up on the Nationals‘ and Houston‘s pitching. In their first eight games against those teams, the Phillies averaged eight runs per game.

In their last four, including their 7-5 loss to the Nationals and the three-game set at home against Florida, they scored an average of 3.5 runs.

While the temperatures in Philadelphia returned to their normal 50-degree or colder nights, after a cooler day with a chance of rain tonight, daytime highs in Atlanta are in the mid to upper 70s.

Hitting weather.

Thinking optimistically, the Braves could win tonight and Halladay win on Wednesday.

Even though Derek Lowe is 3-0, his 4.67 ERA tells a different story. It would be a good day for the Phillies to give Moyer a six-run output or higher.

The Phillies have a history with Lowe in the 2008 playoffs when he was with the Dodgers, and he can get knocked out early.

The high ERA with a 3-0 record tells another story: The Braves have a good offense themselves.

Rookie phenom Jason Heyward is getting all the press, but Martin Prado, Brian McCann, Erik Hinske, and Chipper Jones lead a potent Braves attack.

Preseason pundits, myself included, had the Phillies running away with the NL East.

It still may happen.

But back-to-back subpar offensive performances would set a bad tone for the defending National League champion.

Look for the Phillies to bounce back offensively.

It should make for an exciting series.

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Philadelphia-Florida: Phillies Flounder As Marlins’ Pitching, Weather Cools Bats

April 19, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

You could feel the charge of the Marlins’ in the ninth inning of an 8-6 Phillies win on Friday night.

Phillies ace Roy Halladay left the rain-plagued game in the eighth inning with an 8-2 lead.

Reliever David Herndon gave up four runs to make 8-6 before Ryan Madson closed the door, allowing one inherited runner to score.

The Marlins’ Ricky Nolasco almost shut out the Phillies the following night, save Jayson Werth’s two-out ninth inning solo home run. The Marlins won the second game, 5-1.

Starter Jamie Moyer gave up five runs in the first inning Saturday before setting down to pitch five more shutout innings. More on Moyer later.

The Phillies looked better on Sunday as Cole Hamels gave up only a fourth inning home run to Dan Uggla in eight innings.

The Phillies best scoring chance came in the bottom of the fourth. Jayson Werth singled and when Ben Francisco hit a ball to deep center field, it seemed for sure Werth would score easily.

However, Marlins’ centerfielder Cameron Maybin raised both hands as the ball bounced over the fence for a ground-rule double.

Werth on third, Francisco on second.

Carlos Ruiz hit a ball to shallow center field and Werth, correctly, drew a throw home.

I am not a world-class athlete to judge whether Werth could have gotten back on time to tag up, because Maybins’ throw was way off line.

Something tells me though, Utley, the teams’ best base runner would have scored on that play.

Then in the sixth, the Phillies had Marlins’ starter Nate Robinson on the ropes with runners on first and second with one out.

Burke Badenhop got out the jam for the Marlins, preserving Robinson’s day, and a 2-0 Marlins’ win.

Phillies fans must have knew that the steam had gone out of the Phillies after the sixth.

For a team that averaged nearly eight runs a game and having at least 10 hits a game not long ago, what happened?

The Marlins are not the Nationals or the Astros. The Marlins’ starting staff had two quality starts from its starters.

Cold weather, seasonal weather in Philadelphia cooled the Phillies bats.

The Phillies hitters, trying to break the slump, are not patient at the plate. Jayson Werth struck out on a 1-2 count yesterday on a high and tight fastball.

The Phillies starters, past Halladay and Hamels, are in trouble.

Number three starter J.A. Happ experienced arm trouble and in questionable for his next start.

Jamie Moyer has been inconsistent, bitten by big innings his last two starts.

Kyle Kendrick has been worse or just as bad as Moyer.

The Phillies, though, are headed to Atlanta on Tuesday as they get to see rookie phenom Justin Heyward.

The warmer weather should help.

Look for the Phillies to take two of three in Atlanta, as the bats should wake up.

If not, it’s another lost series, or worse a sweep. 

Joe Blanton should be back in a week and will help stabilize the Phillies starting rotation.


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Shane Victorino Making Best Leadoff Impression for Philadelphia Phillies

April 15, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Philadelphia Phillies players make manager Charlie Manuel look like a genius time after time.

The latest blow to the defending National League champions was leadoff man Jimmy Rollins landing on the 15-day disabled list due to a strained calf muscle.

No problem.

Juan Castro filled in nicely at leadoff in the first game without Rollins. In a 7-4 win on Monday against Washington, he hit an RBI double.

Castro had to lead off because Rollins’ name was already on the lineup card. Rollins was pulled shortly before the start of the game.

With a day off Tuesday, Manuel inserted Shane Victorino from his seventh spot in the order to bat leadoff.

Victorino responded with a 4-for-5 night at the plate with a home run, triple, three runs scored, and five RBI. His .161 average jumped to .250 after Victorino’s career night in a 14-7 win over Washington.

The win pushed the Phillies to a National League-best record of 7-1.

Before I get too excited, however, this is the Nationals, last year’s bottom-dweller in the National League East. The Nats are 3-5 so far.

In the Phillies’ four games against the Nationals, they have scored 40 runs.

I don’t care what team the Phillies are playing—if you throw slop up against them, they will score runs. Or if the opposing pitcher walks men on base, watch out. The Phils will capitalize.

Get the starting pitcher out of the game and let’s see how good your bullpen is.

One such opportunistic player is Victorino.

The bigger the stage, the better he performs.

Remember his grand slam against CC Sabathia in the 2008 NLDS? Or the day the Dodgers’ Hiroki Kuroda buzzed Victorino near his head in the 2008 NLCS? The next day, he hit a game-tying home run in the Phillies’ 7-5 victory over the Dodgers in the key Game Four of the series.

“I told (Rollins) before the game, I’m going to take that job from you,'” Victorino said in a Philadelphia Daily News story. “I was joking, of course. He helped me a lot during the game.”

All Victorino has to do, from here in, is get on base and steal some bases.

Victorino stole 25 bases in 2009 and 36 in 2008.

This Phillies team is talented.

They will play better teams than the Nationals after today’s getaway game.

The Florida Nationals will be coming into town over the weekend.

Roy Halladay (2-0, 0.56 ERA) pitches Friday in the opening game against the Marlins.


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Jimmy Rollins’ Injury Has Philadelphia Phillies Awaiting Their Fate

April 13, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

Anticipation grew as the players exited the tunnel Monday to enter Citizens Bank Park to mark the 2010 Philadelphia Phillies’ home opener against the Washington Nationals.

Above, Jimmy Rollins, the longest-tenured player among the Phillies, enters among adoring fans.

Moments later, however, a hush grew among the gathered fans.

Juan Castro, not Jimmy Rollins, took the field at shortstop.

Not since Lenny Dysktra broke his wrist on Opening Day many years ago did such a key member of the team go down on Opening Day.

Later in the game, outfielder Jayson Werth left with a sore hip. Werth is considered day to day.

The Phillies are awaiting the results of Rollins’ MRI, but according to interviews with players following the game yesterday, a calf injury such as Rollins’ would likely land him on the disabled list.

Lets hope it is 15 days, not 30 or 60.

Rolllins indicated he injured the calf in a pre-game warmup.

Rollins was off to such an unbelievable start, hitting .391 with three doubles, one home run, eight runs scored, three RBI, and an incredible .516 on-base percentage.

Rollins’ leadoff home run in Houston on Sunday helped to propel Roy Halladay’s complete-game 2-1 victory.

For one day, however, the backup plan worked.

Castro had an RBI double in the Phillies’ five-run fifth inning, highlighted by Chase Utley’s two-run bomb.

A short-term loss of Rollins will not be a big loss. However, more long-term injuries to someone like Rollins and a delay of Joe Blanton’s return could affect one or more games.

Our baseball friends up north, the Mets, sure know a thing or two about losing key players to injury, as they did last season.

However, last year I explained in a BR slideshow that the Mets’ woes were caused by having an older core of players.

Will we start to see the National League championship veneer tarnish along the core?

Dare I say it amidst a 6-1 start? Poppycock.

One thing I know: Jayson Werth, in a contract year, will get back on the field soon if he can at all help it.

He may have already written his ticket out of town.

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Philadelphia Phillies Pound Patience To Propel Staggering Start

April 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

The Philadelphia Phillies’ 2-1 win over the Houston Astros on Sunday was a bit of an oddity for the National League’s hottest team.

It was the first time all season that the Phillies have no gotten at least 10 hits.

No matter. Their ace, Roy Halladay was on the mound, giving up one unearned run in a seven-hit, no walk, eight strikeout performance. Oh, yeah, and it was Halladay’s first complete game of the season.

The Phillies pounded out six hits, featuring Jimmy Rollins’s home run to start the game and a Carlos Ruiz ground-out RBI in the second inning.

Halladay worked out of jams in the sixth and seventh innings and cruised in the eighth and ninth innings.

After two starts, Halladay is 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA.

That’s just sick.

The other five days?

The Phillies hit the piss out of the ball.

The Phillies pounded out 11 hits in a 9-6 win on Saturday and 16 hits on Friday in an 8-0 win over Houston.

Sunday’s win completed the sweep of the Astros, who are winless after Sunday’s loss.

As of Saturday, 19 of the Phillies runs have been produced with two outs.

They continue to leave a lot of men on base, but with this lineup, somebody’s gonna produce hits, get on base and score runs.

For example: Jimmy Rollins, throughout his career, has not had a great amount of walks or had a good on-base percentage for a lead off man.

In 2009, Rollins had a horrid first half of the season and had a .296 on-base percentage. This year, Rollins has a .516 on-base percentage.

He also is hitting .391 and scored at least one run in each of the Phillies three wins.

Even Ryan Howard is being more patient at the plate.

Yesterday in one at bat, he went down 0-2 and drew the count to 3-2 before flying out.

His mammoth home run to left center Saturday propelled the Phillies 9-6 win.

The Phillies’ averages are staggering: Rollins, .391; Placido Polanco, .481; Chase Utley, .348; Ryan Howard, .357; and Jayson Werth, .360.

It is a long season, full of ebbs and valleys, scoring droughts and losing streaks, and also injuries.

The Phillies picked up Ross Gload from Florida in the offseason to bolster the bench and Ben Francisco can fill in for long stretches in the outfield.

But a trend started last year and has continued this year: the Phillies are patient at the plate and run deep counts.

An 0-2 count, drawn to 2-2 swings the favor back to the batter, and for the Phillies, it has produced awesome results.

The competition has not been great: a two-of-three game series win against perennial cellar dwellers Washington and a sweep of the winless Astros.

Today’s home opener is against the Nationals.

Then the schedule gets tougher.

The scrappy Marlins come to town for a home weekend series, then the Phillies head on the road.

Next, the Phillies travel to Atlanta and their first look at the rookie sensation Jason Heyward; Arizona; then San Francisco, until returning home on April 30 against the New York Mets.

The Phillies need to sweep or take the series from the Nationals.

The series against the division foes the Marlins and Braves should be fun.

The Phillies’ 5-1 start is their best since 1993, when Macho Row started the season, 8-1.

Starting pitcher Joe Blanton should be back in the next week or two.

Halladay is solid and a good, if not great showing by Cole Hamels in the home opener will solidify the starting rotation.

J.A. Happ, Kyle Kendrick, and Jamie Moyer fill out the Phillies’ current starting pitching staff.

It should be a fun team.

Do yourself a favor.

The next three home runs or RBI doubles by Ryan Howard, take a look at the count.

I will bet that at least one of hits will come with a 3-2 count.

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Phillies Show on Opening Day, Lineup Is Offensive

April 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

The 2009 Philadelphia Phillies team hit 10 home runs more than the year before and scored 21 more runs and had 26 more RBI.

The offense led the team to its second straight National League pennant. They fell short in six games to the New York Yankees, but heck, Chase Utley tied Reggie Jackson’s record of five home runs in a single World Series.

You ain’t seen nothing, yet.

Monday’s 11-1 thrashing of the Washington Nationals on Opening Day was no mirage.

Sure the team will go into funks, but no more five runs in five days.

Batting Placido Planaco second and Shane Victorino seventh paid big dividends. Palanco went 3-5 with six RBI and Victorino was 1-5 with an RBI and run scored. The big man, Ryan Howard hit a two-run bomb in the fourth inning.

Sure, this was not the Yankees the Phils were playing.

The Yankees marched to a World Series championship in 2009. In the process, they scored 915 runs, hit 224 home runs and 881 RBI.

The Phillies scored 820 runs, hit 224 home runs, and were first in doubles with 312.

Four players had 30 or more home runs: Howard 45, Jayson Werth 36, Raul Ibanez and Chase Utley hit 31. Howard hit 145 RBI, Werth 99, Utley 93 and Ibanez 93.

Fewer runs than the Yankees but the same amount of home runs. And the American League has the designated hitter.


Polanco hit .285 and only struck out 46 times for the Tigers last year. A hitter for average who does not strike out a lot.

I have to admit I wanted Chone Figgins as the Phillies third baseman. Lots of stolen bases.

But Polanco fits this team.

A team full of strikeouts and prolonged to long scoreless slumps.

No more.

Watch out National League.

Ain’t no stopping us now.

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Philadelphia Phillies Pitchers Who Also Rocked at the Plate (Since 1971)

March 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Fan News

As Phillies fans, we all remember Joe Blanton going yard against the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 World Series.

Looking at the batting averages, however, Blanton is only a .111 lifetime hitter, so he musta been feed a real juicy fastball to hit.

Most Phillies historians remember that Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Carlton was traded for Rick Wise.

Both however, were pretty good hitting pitchers.

In his presentation, I will pick the top Phillies pitching hitters.

Criteria includes that they played for more than one season for the Phillies and unless they had an awesome display of power one game, they don’t make the list unless they hit for a lifetime .200 average.

I ain’t going back to the Whiz Kids, only as far as Rick Wise in 1971.

Let’s face it: pitchers hit in the National League and it is what makes the National League great in terms of stragegy.

When you got a guy who has a two in ten chance of knocking the ball for a hit, that is a pretty good average in my book.

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