Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Two wins in Tinseltown - Hamels on hill tonight

Domonic Brown gets the game winning RBI hit last night in LA

It's tough for the average working guy or gal to see the late games from the West Coast. Thank goodness for the condensed games that you can view on MLB.TV. The Phillies won their second straight game against the LA Dodgers last night and their 3rd win in a row last night.

It was a power packed game with 19 combined hits by the Phillies and the Dodgers, and it was well pitched with A.J. Burnett and Hyun-Jin Ryu (pronounced  Ree-Yoo),  going deep into the game that was really close.

A few errors by the Dodgers and some good hitting from the Phillies made the difference though, as the bullpen for the Phils held up with Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon closing the door on the Dodgers. As the Phils won this one 3-2 in the 10th on a Domonic Brown double that sent Carlos Ruiz home.

It's going to be the season debut for Cole Hamels tonight. It's so fitting that Hamels is starting his first game in LA, after all his nickname is Hollywood, so he's in his element out there in LA.

Highlights from last night's win in LA:

Ben Revere  4-5  1 SB
AJ Burnett 3-3 (a hot bat last night!)
Ryan Howard BA is up to .270

Monday, April 21, 2014

Lights, Camera, Action! It's the Dodgers

The LA Dodgers are like a rags to riches team compared to a couple of years ago when Frank McCourt owned this franchise and everything seemed like it was going downhill. Of course their was the divorce with the McCourts and at the same time, the zaniness of Manny Ramirez and the PED suspension that surrounded "Manny being Manny" and it was just a bad time for the Dodgers.

Fast forward to 2014, and the Dodgers now are benefiting from a huge TV contract that seems like it's filled the coffers of the team for many years and this year, the team went on a spending spree.

The Dodgers acquired some highly touted free agents. The Dodgers investment in Adrian Gonzalez is paying off hugely for them. Gonzalez has 5 HR and 17 RBI in the first 19 games that he's been in, he leads the Dodgers in just about every offensive category. Adrian also has a .301 BA on the season so far.

Yasiel Puig has also paid off for the Dodgers, he's one of the most exciting young players in baseball today. He's got a bad-boy image with some run-ins with manager, Don "Donnie Baseball" Mattingly, so it makes it a sideline type of attraction. Puig is writing his own ticket though, he almost looks like a football player and he plays his heart out on the field.

Add these couple of pieces to an awesome lineup of starting pitchers, and you have a team that's built to compete with the best teams in the league. Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Greinke, Dan Haren, and Paul Maholm round out a very solid rotation for the men in blue.

It's the Phillies only trip to LA to play the Dodgers this year, and hopefully some of the stars and sites out there will motivate the team's offense a little bit more. It's been a very tough road trip so far, and the Phils are now the sole owners of the NL East basement.

The Phils will make a trip out to play the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim later in August, but they have to deal with this Dodgers team for 4 straight games starting tonight. I am thinking the way this series goes, will be the way the Phillies season goes, as the Dodgers seem like the team to beat in the National League.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Flat in Coors Country

The Phillies are playing like an old stale beer that's been left out on the counter of one the Coors beer stands out there in Colorado.

Come on, only 5 scattered hits yesterday and it resulted in a 3-1 loss by the Phillies again. What happened to the offense?

Looking at the Phillies batting averages, it's easy to see why this team is struggling. Three Phillies players have a BA that is just above .200, Howard (.217), Asche (.205) and Ruiz (.204)

This team needs an answer to this problem, the losses are starting to happen more and more and the Phils are now in the basement of the NL East because of it.

Maybe it's deeper than just early season slumps, this team has sort of just meandered it's way through April and doesn't have a lot of positive things to show for it.

Does the hitting coach need to be changed? Should the Phillies go out on the market and make a trade to try to jump start this offense? At $165M in salaries, which is third in all of baseball, the Phillies have to have one of the highly paid and underachieving teams on the field.

It's the Phils vs the Rockies again this afternoon at 2:10 PM Eastern, Easter Sunday, with Hernandez vs. Nicasio.

The Phillies offense has scored only 3 runs in the last 4 games total, and have a .151 team BA in those last 4 games with no extra base hits.

On a brighter note: Cole Hamels is scheduled to return back to the mound for the Phillies in Los Angeles on Wednesday night, April 23rd, at 10:10PM for his first start of the year.

Happy Easter to all the readers of FightinPhillies!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lee and Phils on losing end of a pitchers duel

Cliff Lee turned in an awesome game last night, he struck out an incredible 13 batters and ended up on the losing end of a 1-0 pitcher's duel at CBP last night. An announced crowd of 23,382 saw plenty of great pitching last night, but only a few glimpses of offense.

The Phillies could only muster 3 hits against Julio Teheran who pitched an equally masterful game last night.

Some games the Phillies offense just don't look like it has it together, and last night was one of those nights. That is what make's this team not rise above and look like a dominating type of team.

There was a lot of extra fielding practice on the field before last night's game, and the sloppiness of some previous games is starting to get under Ryne Sandberg's skin as well as fans who aren't used to seeing a Phillies team that is lacking some of the fundamentals of the game.

The businessperson's special is on tap today for the final game against the Braves in this series, there is a make up game to be announced for the Tuesday night rainout that will be made up later in the year.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Chase Utley still tops in BA so far in 2014

Chase Utley has had one of the best starts in batting that he's ever had.

He is currently on top of the NL for batting average at .489 - he was sitting at .500 for the young season just yesterday and we're already 13 games into this 2014 season.

Chase was 2-5 last night, he had a double, and a single.

The Phils dropped a tough loss to the Braves after back to back home runs by the team sunk the Phils chances late in the game, the Phils did battle back with 5 runs to take the lead in this one but lost 9-6 as the bullpen couldn't hold this lead when they were leading by 1 in the late innings.  Dan Uggla lifted a grand slam off of Jake Diekman.

That's a couple games this season already lost by the bullpen, this mystery of getting a solid bullpen doesn't seem like it's solved for the Phillies. The pen has contributed to a couple losses on the early season already.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The big drop: Where are the Phillies fans at CBP?

The Phanatic is a fan favorite at CBP

The Phillies first 5 home games of the year are in the books, and there is a stat that really stands out so far with the first few home games in the books.

Yes, the Phillies haven't been doing all that well in the past few seasons, we've heard plenty about that, last year the Phillies were over 3M in attendance though, and the fans were still hanging in with this team, hoping and wondering would they return to the glory that a lot of the fans were used to from the magical seasons of 2009, 2009, 2010, and 2011 when the team won the most games in the history of the franchise.

Through the first 5 games though, a lot of the fans are what's missing so far at Citizens Bank Park, so many fans that they could fill up an entire stadium by themselves. The difference in the first 5 home games is 46,167 less than in 2013 through the same first 5 home games.

Yes, ticket prices have risen, and parking is now $16.00 but when you're winning fans seem to be able to absorb those prices somewhat easier. Now that the Phillies haven't been to the playoffs in a couple years, the air may be out of the Phillies balloon. Philadelphia had been a 'baseball town' in the last 7 years or so, it was a magical transformation that attracted some of the biggest names in the game who wanted to come to Philadelphia to play.

The only other team in baseball that has drawn worse so far in this early season at home has been the Toronto Blue Jays, who are at -55,104 fans through their first 6 home games in Toronto.

Maybe when the weather is consistently warmer, much like it will be today at the park, the fans will be back. There might be a point though that we'll see the types of crowds like their use to be at the cavernous Veteran's Stadium when 20,000 scattered through the stadium for a lot of games, but back then if you wanted to go see a game you were paying at most $27 a ticket when now the seats from first to third are now about $75 per game.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Pettibone gets first start of 2014 tonight

Jonathan Pettibone has pretty much been the Phillies choice for the 5th starter on this team. He'll get his first chance of the season tonight to pitch since coming off of an injury that he had toward the end of Spring Training. His opportunity to be the 5th starter may be a short one when Cole Hamels returns, that is of course if Kyle Kendrick and Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona) continue to do well for the team.

Pettibone only pitched 2.0 innings in Spring Training, the 23 year old will get his first start of the season in the Phillies rotation tonight. He finished last year with a 5-4 (4.04 ERA) season with the Phillies last year, in 18 starts, he pitched 100.1 innings.

Jonathan was drafted in the amateur draft in the 3rd round in 2008.

The Phillies dispatched the young Marlins phenom Jose Fernandez last night, Fernandez had come into the game with a 2-0, 0.71 ERA last night. Fernandez is from Cuba, the same place where the Phillies pitcher, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez is from. Gonzalez got a 3 year deal from the Phillies for $12M but had shoulder soreness and is on the DL.

World Series – or World Cup – or both?

For most visitors to this site, the soccer World Cup is a little bit of a sideshow compared with the “real thing” of the World Series.

In fact, let’s be honest, for most baseball fans, calling the soccer World Cup a sideshow is too strong. But for the rest of the world, it ain’t like that! The soccer World Cup final is just about the most-viewed TV event on the planet, so us baseball fans must be a little out of step somehow. And the fact that the forthcoming World Cup finals will be held in the country that has enjoyed more success in the tournament than any other certainly makes the whole thing bigger still.

That’s the way the rest of the world view it anyway and with the world’s biggest gambling exchange, Betfair, the home nation are warm favorites at somewhere just better than 3-1 to win on 13th July in the famous Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

Having a bet on the World Cup can certainly make the whole thing  a little more interesting for fans of baseball anyway. Betfair currently has Argentina installed as second favorites at somewhere around 4-1, followed by Germany, holders Spain, then Belgium (yes really!), France, Holland, Italy, England , Uruguay and a host of other nations.

If you can pick out a good outsider, then you may really get a good run for your money and on that score, Uruguay look interesting at around 30-1. Uruguay haven’t been much of a force to be reckoned with in world soccer in recent years, but with Luis Suárez up-front, they can beat anyone on their day. Oh and coincidentally, Uruguay won the competition the last time it was hosted in Brazil in 1950, so perhaps that’s portentous?

Following one team will certainly make it a little more interesting, but it can never compare with the World Series of course – unless the USA win the thing. Just don’t gamble your hard-earned cash on the States though!

Will a healthy Howard lead to Phillies wins?

Ryan Howard is healthy, and now that the weather is warming up, we should see Ryan bloom back into one of the league's most feared hitters.

A combination of Howard and Byrd could be a one-two punch for the Phils this season. 

So far, Howard has only 1 HR on the season and he has yet to catch that home run swing at the plate that we've all loved for many years now. Howard's injuries of the 2012 and 2013 seasons impacted a quest to be the Phillies all-time homerun leader, and now with 312 total HR's - it would seem almost impossible for him to eclipse Mike Schmidt's 548 HR as a Phillies player.

For a while, Howard seemed to be on a path to Cooperstown and the Hall of Fame, can he regain that momentum again and help this Phillies team like he did now some years ago?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Brewers stymie Phillies in sweep, next up the Miami Marlins

The Phillies outlook was great in the first couple series of the year against the Texas Rangers and Cubs on the road, the Phils came away with a 3-3 road trip to start the year.

Then the Brewers happened.

The Brewers are playing like a championship caliber team right now, the went into Boston and swept the Red Sox and then did the same to the Phillies.

Ryne Sandberg talked about how the Phillies need to pickup on the offense and get some runs across the board. The Phillies have had plenty of opportunity to do that, but with runners on base, the Phillies just can't seem to deliver when they need to.

The schedule doesn't get any easier as April rolls on. The Phils face a Marlins team next that was sailing along fine for their first 6 games, then they ran into the Washington Nationals and they too have lost 4 straight games now.

So for tonight, one of these two teams will be breaking a 4 game losing streak. The Phillies are currently in the basement of the NL East at 3-6 on the season.