Monday, May 28, 2018

Phils embark on one of the longest road trips of the year

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This Dodgers team for 2018 was picked by many to do really well, that hasn't worked out too well yet for them 

A West Coast road trip is usually a long one, and this road trip that the Phillies are on even has a stop in Chicago to visit the Cubs after going to LA and San Francisco. It's a 10-game road trip, and hopefully the Phillies will find what they did at home with their great home record of 19-9. On the road, the team is less than stellar, with a 10-12 record. This is going to have to improve if we start thinking about the Phillies as a team that has a chance to make the playoffs.

The next longest road trip that the Phils will play isn't until July 7th to July 15th - but with a makeup rained out game to do in Baltimore that will be played on the 12th of July, the Phils will actually have an 11-game road trip to do then.

Let's see if they can win some series on this current road trip though, a tough 4-game stand at Dodger Stadium is first up for them to try to conquer. A record of 29-21 overall has the team in 2nd place at this point in the season.

Again, this team hasn't really showed a side to them to go out and put teams away, they have been finding ways to win but not dominating. That is the concern, and this road trip is going to say a lot about what we may see from the Phillies for the upcoming weeks. Can they continue to find ways to win, or will they become mired in that kind of mediocre road play that we've seen from them so far.

Luckily both the Dodgers and San Francisco haven't been playing too well lately. The Cubs are another story, they have been picking it up over the past 2 weeks and have surged into 2nd place in the NL Central with a 28-22 record with going 6-4 in their last 10 games.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Phillies take over first place on Memorial Day Weekend 2018

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A huddle for first place, the Phils have finally won a game that takes them into first place

To hear the words, Phillies and first place in the same sentence is something that the fans of this team have been thinking about for many years now. The World Series win was an incredible 10 years ago (that went by really fast to this writer).

Well, like the ebb and flow of the tide, the winning can return to a baseball team over time, if the right ingredients are there on the team. It takes some winning pitching, and the Phillies have been experiencing this in the past few weeks. Aaron Nola is 6-2 on the season and the addition of Jake Arrieta, was another great add to this starting roster. We've seen Vince Velasquez have a few good starts in a row as well. Add this all up with some timely hitting and we're in first place!

It's not a dominating type of first place though, it's been at times a very tentative arrival in the top spot as the Phillies have had some bumps in the road with relief pitching over the past 10 days. The important thing though is they are finding ways to win. Again, it's not a dominating type of winning like this team is going on the diamond and beating up on teams.

Some timely hitting off of the bench by Nick Williams and a steady effort from both Odubel and Maikel have really transformed this Phillies offense for the moment.

Can this Phillies team hold on to first place and stay there? We'll see, the Atlanta Braves have been playing really well and have two top hitters in Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis. If the Braves are going to make a run at this division, they will have to pitch better. It will be fun to see how this race shapes up, the Mets have been playing some poor baseball but they are still only 3.5 GB off the pace.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Phillies are starting to associate themselves with winning

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The Cardinals are going back home to face the Phillies after a victory today in Minnesota

The Phillies managed to play in Baltimore today despite a threat of rain and the washout from last night that will be made up on July 12th. More than play today in Balto, the Phillies managed to win their 24th game of the year and improved their road record to 8-10 by a score of 4-1 this afternoon.

Nick Pivetta improved to 3-2 on the year and his ERA is now 3.72 - he also struck out 11 batters on the day so it was a very good outing for him. The bullpen did have a test late in the game, the Orioles had the bases loaded but the relievers managed to curtain the Orioles two good hitters in Adam Jones, and Manny Machado who both came up to bat when the bases were loaded.

The Phils now travel onto an important test in St. Louis, perhaps the most important series of this year so far, that just past the 1/4 pole of the season with the 40th game of the year. So this season that really seems to have been off to a slow start with bad weather through April has suddenly been moving on pretty fast.

Can the Phillies continue to win in a St. Louis vs. a more powerful opponent in the Cards? The Cardinals beat the Twins earlier today in Minnesota, they are 23-17 on the year. The Cards were on top of the NL Central for a good part of May, they were in first place in the NL Central as recent as the 12th of May but slipped in the past couple of days, the Pirates have surged back into first place as of the time this column is being written. So, the Cards are still very much a good team and it will be an important test for the Phils to see if they are for real.

The Phils will be pitching Velasquez, Arrieta, Eflin, and Nola in this series. All have done really well in their last starts. Arrieta had a lead in a game the Phillies should have closed the door on but didn't, and that cost Arrieta and the team a valuable win. Let's see if the Phils can continue to find ways to put runs on the board and keep winning.

Notes on the Cardinal series:

2 of the 4 game series with be played in the afternoon, on Saturday and Sunday

The Cardinals have a team BA of .228 (Phils .248) - though the Cards have 49 total HRs to the Phils 44 HR team total

Odubel Herrera still leads the NL in BA at .357 and extended his on base streak today in Baltimore with a hit

The Phillies come into the Cardinal series with a 24-16 record - just behind the Braves in the NL East

Monday, May 14, 2018

Phillies to play Orioles in brief 2 game series

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The Orioles are coming off a big 17-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays in Baltimore on Sunday.

On Tuesday, the Phillies will play the Baltimore Orioles in a 2-game series down in Baltimore and then in July, the Orioles will travel up to Philadelphia for another brief 2-game series on July 3 - 4.

It was mentioned on a recent broadcast that the team will actually travel down to Baltimore from Philly on the day of the game. It will give the players an extra day to be home in the Philadelphia area, and they will no doubt be a bit pressed for time as they still have to check into a hotel and then get down to the ballpark for the game on Tuesday.

There will be a homecoming for Phils current Team President, Andy MacPhail, who got a job with the Baltimore Orioles on June 20th 2007, when Baltimore owner Peter Angelos hired him as Team President of the O's. Phils current GM Matt Klentak also met MacPhail there in Baltimore in 2008 when MacPhail hired Klentak as his Director of Baseball Operations.

Nick Pivetta and Vince Velazquez will be getting the ball on the mound to start the games for the Phillies. The Orioles have announced Andrew Cashner as facing off against Pivetta but have yet to announce the starter vs. Vince. The Orioles are in last place in the powerhouse AL East at 13-28 (15.5 GB) on the year.

The Phils will then travel to St. Louis for a 4-game series against the NL Central leading Cardinals. This should be another test to see whether the Phils are indeed for real this year with a 1 GB second place NL East spot that they have today just behind the Braves.

The Phils have 7 wins and 4 losses in the month of May so far, let's see what they can do on this road trip.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Tough loss to Mets with Neris in the 9th

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Jake Arrieta had a good game against the Mets, the Phils could only put 1-run up on the board the whole game

This moment last night looked almost too easy, the Phillies clinging to a 1-0 lead going into the 9th inning and the Phils closer, Hector Neris on the mound. The bullpen has been brilliant in the past week, but now time was about to catch up with that, as Hector served up the go ahead runs to the Mets after a stellar outing by Jake Arrieta.

Up to this point in the season, the Phillies only had one other blown save at home since the season started, it's been one of the reasons that the Phillies have had the best home record in the NL so far.

Phillies closer, Hector Neris got the first out in Adrian Gonzalez, and we were down to needing only 2 more outs. But that's the kind of thing that makes baseball so special. It's never a sure thing in this game, a team can battle back in an instant. Neris then had 2 strikes on Wilmer Flores, Flores then took a check swing that was actually a strikeout, but it wasn't called. On the next pitch, Flores singled to reach base.

Michael Conforto came up and launched a long foul ball that was long enough to be a homerun if it were straight. The table was set at this point, with Conforto who after the next pitch, launched a ball into right field off of the ATT sign.

Then things became unglued with another HR hit by Devin Mesoraco to put the Mets ahead 3-1 and give the Mets a victory in Game 1 in Philly.

What can you say? We haven't seen the bullpen give up too many games this year, they have been a solid part of the Phillies game so far. Maybe Neris had been a bit rusty in a game saving situation, he's been going into games with leads and the last blown save from him which resulted in a loss was just 6 days ago against the Nationals. Neris has an ERA at 5.17 ERA with giving up those HRs to the Mets.

Game notes:

Jake Arrieta -  5 SO  -  5H  - 7.1 IP

Odubel Herrera -  2-4 with 1 RBI - the HR which gave the Phils their only run

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Phillies gliding along at home best home record in NL

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The Phillies have shown a potent offense with Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera, and now Carlos Santana seems to have caught fire as well

The best home record in the NL? No, we couldn't be mentioning that and the Phillies in the same breath. It's true though, the Phillies are the current owners of that title. Just behind them is the Arizona Diamondbacks at 13-6 at home.

If the Phillies could somehow start to do better on the road, we could have a really fun baseball season in front of us. I say this with caution though, as sometimes this team seems to slip and not look like the same good team that it has been the last couple of games.

With an overall record of 21-15 the Phillies are just a 1/2 game behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. That's really amazing as we are 36 games into this baseball season. To say that it is going to happen this way the rest of the season, we can't say for sure.

I talked with a few fans recently about the success of the team. One person I talked with admitted to be a 'bandwagon' jumper Phillies fan. He said he couldn't watch them the past couple years with how bad they were. That's understandable, to a person who may really not be a huge baseball fan like this guy, it was probably too much for him to watch on a nightly basis. The Phils had finished in 4th or 5th place in the NL East the last 5 years with at least finishing the season 23.0 GB from the leader.

Well, it's certainly refreshing to see this team finally start to put some decent wins into their season, we can only hope it continues. With this type of early success, if it continues, we may see the Phillies become buyers for the trade deadline. I know this is still far away, but one can hope!

Today, the Phils play another Facebook exclusive game with the final game of the series against the San Francisco Giants. It's the third time that the Phils have been included in this Facebook exclusive type of broadcast. I am still not sold on it, I prefer to watch the regular broadcast of the game on television, but I will probably list to a lot of this game on the radio broadcast.

The Phillies Talk Podcast is recording as well later today with myself and Matt Veasey, so, check this blog out for the show when it is finished and of course you can listen in on iTunes just search for the Phillies Talk Podcast and subscribe to the show!

Notes from last night's game and Phils stats:

Pivetta is now 2-2 on the season with the win last night

Carlos Santana is now batting .189 - still low but he is showing signs of getting better - had 5 RBI last night in the cleanup spot

Nola is leading the NL Starting pitchers in WAR at 2.5

Phillies team pitching is in the Top 5 in the MLB in runs allowed per game with 3.81 - Houston leads all with 2.77

Thursday, May 03, 2018

Phillies needed a win in Florida and delivered

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When is the last time we heard, 'The Phillies need a win'?

Chances are we haven't heard this in reference to them and a NL East race in quite some time. That was the phrase that was being repeated by many though yesterday before the game in Miami that saw the Miami Marlins threatening to sweep the Phils in their 3-game series with the Phils.

The resurgent team in the NL East is the Atlanta Braves, they are 7-3 in their last 10 games, and winners of their last 4 games in a row. They have shot straight to the top of the NL East surpassing the Mets for first place last night, who were swept by the Braves. The Mets also lost Jacob DeGrom who left the ballgame with a hyperextended elbow.

The Phils won last night by ending their drought of putting up some runs and some good pitching on the part of Aaron Nola. Nola earned his 4th win of the season (4-1) and struck out 7 batters on the night. The Phillies offense banged out 12 hits on the night even though they were 1-8 RISP, they managed to put up 7 runs on the night.

The Phils travel up to Washington for the weekend series with the Nationals on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. They are making the NL East interesting as are the rest of the teams that are jostling for the lead in the division.