Thursday, May 31, 2012

Phillies off day: NL East all bunched up and Phils win again

Miami Marlins: Logos 2.0
  The Miami Marlins are in Philadelphia for a weekend series starting Friday night
    photo: PMell2293 / flickr

The Phillies are still in last place, despite winning 2 of 3 from the Mets and 3-4 from the Cardinals in the last two series. It sounds worse than it is though, as the Phillies are only 3 GB from first place, despite being only 2 game above .500

The NL East is log jammed, with 5 teams and nearly two solid months of play, all the teams in the division are basically within reach of first place very easily. The Washington Nationals, who have lost 3 straight games, are still in first but the fast moving Miami Marlins are only a 1/2 game away from them. The team that the Phillies just took 2 of 3 from, the New York Mets, are only 1 1/2 games back.

Last night's game was a classic battle, the ending score really wasn't reflective of the whole game, as it was closer during most of the game. Cliff Lee again was turned away from his first win, but he didn't lose either on the night, as the Phils rallied again to break open a 3-3 game in the 8th inning by scoring a run, and then scoring 6 in the 9th to put the Mets away by a final score of 10-6.

Thursday is a much needed rest for this team, the last day off they had was May 10th. The Miami Marlins come to Philadelphia for a weekend series, then the LA Dodgers camp out for a 4 game series in Philly from Monday to Thursday next week. The Dodgers are 32-18 and are playing better than they have in years.

First it's Miami though, the Marlins are hot and bring a 3 game win streak into Philly for Friday night's game. The Phillies starters for the weekend series will be:

  Friday:  Kyle Kendrick vs. Mark Buehrle
  Saturday: Cole Hamels vs. Ricky Nolasco
  Sunday: Joe Blanton vs. Carl Zambrano


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Phils look to win series tonight with Mets

Cliff Lee needs a good nickname, like "The General" perhaps?
He looks for a much needed win for himself and the Phillies tonight

The Phillies have had a great week, not so much with the news that Roy Halladay is going to be out with a shoulder strain (read Zolecki here), but they took 3 or 4 from the St. Louis Cardinals and won the confidence of some back that the Phillies season isn't over.

The Memorial Day game of 2012 was a thrilling game to watch, Ty Wigginton had a career day with 6 RBI, and it just happened to be against an old team of his. Wiggy played 288 games with the Mets, from 2002-2004 (didn't seem that long ago to me), Ty was in a groove and this game (boxscore) will not be forgotten any too soon.

The other thing we can be thankful for is that Cole Hamels is having a great year. Cy Young is a bit premature to say, but with the kind of year that Cole is having so far, we may start hearing that comparison down the road in this 2012 season. After a few seasons of having run production issues, it is great to see Cole have a nice year again. His run support so far is astonishing. In 5 of Cole's 8 wins, the Phillies have scored 6 or more runs for him.The other 3 wins for Cole, the Phillies have scored 3-5 runs. It's not to long ago that the Phillies weren't hardly scoring any runs for Cole's starts.

It would be great to see Cliff Lee get his first win of the season tonight against the Mets. Lee hasn't won a game for the Phillies since September 26, 2011 in Atlanta. Since that September win game, Lee has had 5 no decisions, and 2 losses. It's easy to see that he is overdue for a win tonight. It seems that Cliff Lee has assumed Cole's old tough spot in the rotation when it comes to run scored by the offense. So far this season, the Phillies offense has 4 of Lee's 7 starts in which they have scored 0-2 runs per game. Lee's ERA is 3.00, with a combined 24 strikeouts and allowing 10 runs in all 4 of those games, so you can see it's more of a problem with the Phillies offense when he is on the mound.

The Mets have a 2012 batting average of .217 against Cliff Lee this season, in the two starts that Lee already has against them, not including tonight. Lee also has a combined 13 strikeouts over those two starts. One of the starts on 4/13 ended in a loss and the other on 5/9 ended in a no decision for Lee, but the Phillies lost that game by a score of 10-6.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Phillies Talk Podcast: Phillies and Mets Musings


 It's Memorial Day 2012 for this show and it's the Mets vs. the Phillies at Citi Field. Cole Hamels wins his 8th game of the year, courtesy of Wigginton's 6 RBI's, and I am talking with Gary McDonald from the Mets Musings Podcast about the terrific turn around the Mets have had, the 2013 All Star Game coming to New York, and Citi Field.

Find the Phillies Talk Podcast right here on the FightinPhillies blog, and a new place on the internet called You can also find Mr. Gary McDonald along with Barry and their show called Mets Musings Podcast.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day in New York vs. the Mets

Memorial Day Commemoration 2008
Memorial Day Commemoration 2008 (Photo credit: davidyuweb)

I doubt the Phillies got the best rest last night. After their afternoon game on Sunday in St. Louis, the team packed up and headed east to New York for a 1:10 PM Memorial day game this afternoon at Citi Field.

It's Memorial Day 2012, a day to remember the veterans that served our country and help keep us free.

The Phillies are currently one game above .500 and just 5 GB from the first place Washington Nationals. The New York Mets are rejuvenated and only 2.5 GB from first place, and currently sitting in second place. The NL East is bunched up, and no one is really pulling away from the field with a big lead in this division.

Maybe it's time to play Mike Fontenot a little more. He's been one of the Phillies hottest hitters since he's come to the team. He's been in 10 games and has 8 hits for a .444 BA so far. He is making the most of his play time with the Phillies.

Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco, Carlos Ruiz, and Juan Pierre (along with Fontenot) have have the best success overall in the past week with their offensive production. These players are starting to get hot, and the Phillies offense is starting to churn a little more despite yesterday's loss to the Cardinals.

Phillies on a big slide would include: Jimmy Rollins currently at .225 BA, in his last 7 games, Rollins is batting .190. John Mayberry is also on the 'slide list', currently at .231 BA, in his last 7 games, Mayberry is batting .083. The Mayberry experience is not going well, he's got no power with only 1 HR in 48 games now, and he's had plenty of time to prove it. Mayberry looks like he can hit the ball out of the park, but just can't get the job done.

This is the start of an important time in baseball, it's about 6 weeks to the All Star Game. Hovering around that is the trade deadline that takes place on July 31st, only about 8 weeks away. We're gonna see what shape this team is in towards the deadline, will the Phillies actually deal Cole Hamels away? Or will they make him an offer he cannot refuse now that Halladay is injured? Is there someone else, GM Ruben Amaro has on his 'ship out' list? Yes, things are about to get a whole lot more interesting for the Phillies.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Halladay injured, bad sign for beleaguered Phils

Roy Halladay
Roy Halladay (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Roy Halladay doesn't normally pitch poorly. Lately though, Roy has been pitching somewhat poorly. Halladay burst into the 2012 season with 3 wins in a row for his first three starts. Roy's last win in those first three games was April 16th, 2012 against the San Francisco Giants. Since that start, Halladay has had 8 more starts including today. During that stretch, Halladay has just 1 win and 5 losses, and the Phillies ended up losing the other two games that Roy didn't have a decision in.

Today in St. Louis, it was hot. Halladay normally hasn't been his best in the heat lately. Early in the game, Halladay gave up a Grand Slam in the first inning, and was taken out of this game after 2.0 innings with what has been reported as 'shoulder soreness.'

Unfortunately, the Phillies haven't been exactly forthcoming with injury information this year. Further tests are probably needed to say what exactly is the problem with Halladay.

Ryan Howard is continuing his rehab, though little is being said about how he is making strides to getting back on the field.

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Kendrick pitches complete game shutout, Phils poised to sweep

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 26: Starter Kyle Kendrick ...
ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 26: Starter Kyle Kendrick #38 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on May 26, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

Kyle Kendrick hasn't been looking to great as a starter this year. He's been hit around and hasn't won a game prior to last night, but last night would be different. Not only would Kyle get his first win of the season, he'd also pitch his second ever Complete Game ( his first was in 2010) and first ever CG shutout. KK scattered 7 hits on the night, while striking out 4 for the victory against the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Cardinals had been riding high atop the NL Central before the series started with the Phillies, but now they have slipped a bit and have fallen into 2nd place in their division.

Photograph taken by Googie Man 02:47, 6 April ...
Photograph taken by Googie Man 02:47, 6 April 2007 . . Googie man . . 1151×1500 (1,295,094 bytes) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Phillies have shown that they aren't as bad as the recent stories you've been reading about in the papers and online would suggest. The team is not out of it yet, and even though the Phils are still in last place, a few more winning streaks like they are getting into here, and they'll be climbing back toward the top again.

Ryan Howard tweeted out, "Nice job fellas..." after the win with Cliff Lee on the mound on Friday night, and with Howard's addition to the team, the Phillies may be on the way to much better things. We haven't heard anything Howard's progress, even since the Inquirer reporter, Bob Brookover, was practically thrown out of Brighthouse Network Field down in Clearwater (read the story here) for even caring to see how Howard was doing down in Florida. Even Howard himself chimed in, "It's not Spring Training...what are you doing down here." Well excuse us for caring.

This year's Phillies team has shown us some bright spots even though it isn't the team that we envisioned coming out of Spring Training. It's almost June now, I would expect this team to be joined by two players that have been out for a long time now. Ryan Howard and Chase Utley really should have been back by now. Howard is going on 7 full months since the last day of the season last year, and Utley is as well. When are these two coming back?

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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Lee boils over at Victorino with fielding blunders

  Phillies postgame reporter from CSN, Ricky Botallico, breaks down the argument with Lee and Vic

What went on in the dugout is part of a baseball season. Cliff Lee needed to get a win for the Phillies last night, and a win for himself, as he hasn't won a game yet in 2012. When Shane Victorino lost sight of a baseball last night, then watched it roll away from him was all Lee needed to see to make him a little upset.

English: Shane Victorino
English: Shane Victorino (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 Fast forward to the dugout when the inning was over. Lee seemed like he asked a question to Victorino, but Shane had nothing apologetic to offer Lee, he just seemed like he didn't even have a problem out there and offered no reason. Certainly there was no reason for him not to chase the ball after it hit off the wall in center.

Later in the game, Hunter Pence and Victorino had a problem in the field seeing the ball. Oddly enough, though no one else did all night.

What did happen in this game though is that the Phillies had a lot of heart in this game. They didn't lie down and play dead, made a couple of good plays and got a little mad along the way. Nothing wrong with that, these players should be more mad at themselves for being in last place, and if a little motivation from Lee was needed last night, so be it.

See the plays here that started the Lee / Victorino squabble:

Victorino and Lee argue a little in the dugout over this in the video of the plays

Game 3 of this important series continues tonight with Kyle Kendrick on the mound for the Phillies. They crossed the .500 barrier again, and continue to play better. 
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Rally Kings: still life as Phils rally all night

Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton warming up before...
Phillies pitcher Joe Blanton warming up before a game. May 9, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Phillies showed they still have a lot of fight left in them. Last night, they rallied many times to overcome a surging Cardinal offense that just wouldn't stop. The Phillies threw up a comfortable 6-0 lead early, but just couldn't hold onto it and found themselves in a 7-7 tie by the end of the 5th inning.

Joe Blanton didn't look sharp as the Cardinals pounded their way back to gain a tie by the bottom of the 5th. Charlie Manuel didn't take Blanton out until the game was tied up, so Blanton was not the winner in last night's game.

The Phillies could have rolled over and played dead, just like we've seen a lot of the games go recently. This night was different though. The offense kept putting on pressure and scoring to answer the Cardinals push to win this one.

In the end, there would be a combined 33 hits with 2 errors by both teams, and the Phils rallied to preserve this win 10-9.

The Phils showed that they still have life in them. Despite being in last place, somewhere we didn't anticipate this team being, the Phils haven't called it a season yet.

I could sight statistics to support that this team hasn't been playing well. We all know that, and it would serve a good purpose. What made them play better last night against the Cardinals? This team needs to string a 10 game winning streak to give some confidence that there is still hope.

Can they go into St. Louis and make a statement, that there season really isn't over as we head into the Memorial Day weekend? Stay tuned.
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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Phils losing testing fan strength of faith in team

Phillies team logo starting in 1976, with &quo...
Phillies team logo starting in 1976, with "Philadelphia Phil and Phillis" as the team mascots. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was listening to a local sports radio program on the Philadelphia sports scene yesterday afternoon. A long time fan of the Phillies and sports jock announced that 'he was done.' No, he wasn't retiring, he announced he was done being optimistic about this year's Phillies team.

That is what fan's are saying more and more, as the Phillies have been losing with more regularity than we've seen them lose for many years now.

Things looked brighter for the Phillies when they were reeling off 6 wins in a row. Now, the team has dropped 4 in a row since Saturday. If nothing else, this season is going to test your faith as a fan in this team. Being a great fan of a team means you stick by them no matter what. If you're just aboard for the good times, then this is when you start think about getting off the bandwagon.

Here is a snap shot of numbers produced so far by the Phillies:

Lets take a look at the most strikeouts pitched in a game this season, no there are no Phillies on this chart, but we can see who is doing the best in this around the league:
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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Schilling next to go bust?

Photograph taken by Googie Man. 13:24, 25 Octo...
Photograph taken by Googie Man. 13:24, 25 October 2007 . . Googie man . . 796×1000 (664 KB) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The early 90's Phillies are not doing so well. Since the days when Lenny Dykstra, aka 'Nails', went bankrupt and ended up in jail for financial dealings that had gone wrong, now comes word that another famous ex-Phillies is in a bit of trouble himself.

Curt Schilling was a Phillies ace pitcher, but recently he's been in the new for not being able to meet payroll at his software company which makes video games.

Schilling ended up on the website, Deadspin, and there was the story telling all about Schilling's financial dealings. Read the story here

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Phillies and Yankees showing signs of age

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 21: Starting pitcher Ky...
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 21: Starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick #38 of the Philadelphia Phillies tags out catcher Jesus Flores #26 of the Washington Nationals at home plate during a game at Citizens Bank Park on May 21, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

The Phillies lost another game last night to the Washington Nationals. It was a close game all night, but the Phils just couldn't get the job done and Kyle Kendrick fell to 0-4 on the season, and the Phillies slipped below .500 again at 21-22.

Another team that usually does well and isn't this year is the New York Yankees. Last night, they dropped a game to the Kansas City Royals to bring their record to 21-21.

Look at both divisions, the National League East and the American League East, and the comparison is similar. Both the teams either on top of each division or near the top endured some really tough times before they got a chance to draft the best players in each league because of it.

In the National League East, the story so far is about how well the Washington Nationals are doing. They've assembled a great team of younger talent with just the right amount of seasoned players thrown in. Yes, they've been on the bottom of the heap for a long time, and baseball has a way of correcting that by rewarding those type teams with the highest draft picks of the best young talent.

If we look at the Phillies and Yankees, we see a different story. The teams are full of top earning, and slightly past their prime players who can still possibly get the job done, but are at a much greater risk for injury as their age and years of play catch up to them.

The same thing applies with the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. For the past few years, they have been horrible. The O's have finished either 4th or 5th in the 5 team division all but one year since 1998 (they finished 3rd in 2004), they too have found success with having younger players supported by a few veterans.

The Phillies don't look like they are capable of overcoming the bad play and at times, uninspiring play that they have been dogged with so far this season. It is doubtful that even Ryan Howard and Chase Utley's presence on this team will change this road that they are on.   

Maybe this is the deconstruction year for the Phillies, and maybe they can wheel and deal and end up with something better than they have now. The golden age that the Phillies have had in the past 5 years may be past us, and if it was it was a great run.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Phillies Talk Podcast: Red Sox and Good Luck Pat Burrell

Pat Burrell batting for the Philadelphia Phill...
Pat Burrell batting for the Philadelphia Phillies in 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It's the Red Sox in town, and we're happy to rub elbows with such astute baseball fans. The Phillies lost the series, and things don't look so bright again.

We talk about Pat "The Bat" Burrell and his great career with the Phillies. It just seems like yesterday that 'The Bat' owned Philadelphia. That guy just owned this town for a long time.
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Red Sox roar back in Game 2 vs Blanton, Howard cloaked in secrecy in Florida

PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 19: Pat Burrell hugs fo...
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 19: Pat Burrell hugs former teammate Chase Utley #26 of the Philadelphia Phillies after Burrell was honored after retiring before the start of the Phillies game against the Boston Red Sox in a MLB baseball game on May 19, 2012 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Joe Blanton during pregame warmups against the...
Joe Blanton during pregame warmups against the Nationals on July 31, 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

During pregame ceremonies, Pat Burrell was officially retired as a Phillies player, as he was given a special 1 day contract and threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to last night's game. Burrell threw the pitch to Chase Utley and there were many tears flowing on this emotional night at Citizens Bank Park.

It was not Joe Blanton's night on the mound last night. He had been sailing along just fine for for his last few starts prior to last night. Joe struck out 7 in the games on May 8th against the Mets, and 7 more on May 14th against Houston. Joe's ERA was down to 2.96 prior to the start last night as well, but the Red Sox made him pay for all that recent success.

The Red Sox clubbed 4 HR's last night, and even though the Phillies mounted a comeback, it was enough to overcome the onslaught of HR derby that the Red Sox displayed last night on the Fox Baseball Night in America broadcast. Blanton wasn't happy with home plate umpire,

Despite the Red Sox and Phillies being in last place in their own divisions in each league, the game was billed as 'two of the hottest teams in baseball' by the Fox broadcast just before the game came on.

Yes, these two teams have played better, but I think that opening remark was a bit strong to use with two last place teams. The Phillies no doubt have been playing better, and both teams after last night have 7-3 records in their last 10, but both teams are not a threat to leave the basement without getting some needed wins. The comparisons to both teams is curious as well, the Phils are 10-10 at home now, and the Red Sox are 10-10 on the road.

In the preseason, I picked the Phillies and the Red Sox to go to the World Series. At this time, that prediction seems a little off track. Stranger things have happened, but it's almost June and there is a long road ahead for both of these teams.

Fox Sports tells us more about the Red Sox win last night and how something may have inspired them to do so well.

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Johnny comes marching home

Charlie is off the field tonight for the Phillies, but enjoyed the game immensely 

It's the matchup of the year for some Red Sox and Phillies fans, it's the Papelbon moment we've all been waiting for. Maybe $50 million wasn't too much to pay our closer. Jonathan Papelbon had a little extra cushion to rest on upon coming in to finish out the Red Sox and slam the door on the 6th game in a row that the Phillies have won.

Cole Hamels has rolled to his 6th win of the season and now is writing his own ticket to a possible early Cy Young mention though it's too early to even whisper, it's looking pretty good for him so far.

The fun continues on Saturday night at 7:15pm, when the over .500 Phillies baseball team again takes on the Red Sox.

Charlie Manuel was in the stands tonight, watching it all. He even had some giggles when Bobby V, Red Sox manager, went after the first base umpire while arguing a safe or out call at first very late in the game. It's a brief suspension for Manuel, just getting the night off for bad behavior.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Have bats will travel

Kyle Kendrick
Kyle Kendrick (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Phillies really let loose on their trip to Chicago in game 1 of a brief two game series last night. It was a fairly close game most of the way through this one, but in the top of the 9th, the Phillies unleashed for a 6 run inning and finished off the Cubs 9-2.

The game provided Kyle Kendrick yet another chance to show that he is indeed a quality pitcher, and he didn't disappoint anyone last night. Kendrick pitched 6.0 innings only giving up 3 hits and 2 runs, his ERA is sitting at 5.96 so far.

The injury to Vance Worley took him out of the rotation for a least a couple starts. Joe Savery was called up to fill the vacancy, his last appearance for the Phillies was on May 8th against the Mets.

Roy Halladay goes the a much needed win for himself tonight, maybe the Phillies can score some runs for him. He hasn't had a win in his last 5 games. The Phillies pulled to .500 and a 19-19 record. Things are looking up for the team for the first time in a while even while losing the services of Vance Worley for a while.

Can the Phils continue their winning ways?

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