Archive for May, 2009

Spectacular Blanton Sizzles Fish

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, May 26, 2009 10:19 PM Comments: 50

BlantonFLAJoe Blanton said he found a chink in his armor and fixed it. Boy did he ever, leading the Phillies to a 5-3 win over the Marlins.

Blanton threw his best game as a Phillie, going seven and striking out a career-high 11 while allowing just five hits, reducing his ERA to a season-low 6.14. His fastball moved; his breaking balls stayed down. He was the Blanton we had been waiting for.

The game was much tighter at the close, however, as Chad Durbin failed to close out the ninth and Scott Eyre fell victim to a bad throw by Ryan Howard, his first error the season. Brad Lidge had to enter in a three-run game, his first test since his two blown saves at Yankee Stadium. He got the final two outs, one scoring a run (ground out), the other a strikeout of Wes Helms.

The Phils offense struck early off Andrew Miller, mostly thanks to a poor Florida defense. Shane Victorino had a 4-for-5 night, while Pedro Feliz collected two two-out RBI hits, one a clutch insurance double in the seventh.


Gamenight: Marlins (21-25) At Phillies (24-19)

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, May 26, 2009 06:01 PM Comments: 260

marlinslogoFlorida Marlins (21-25) at Philadelphia Phillies (24-19)
Andrew Miller (1-1, 4.94 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (2-3, 7.11 ERA)
Time: 7:05 p.m. at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia
Weather: Cloudy, 56
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Twitter: Phillies Nation

A tough homecoming for the Phillies last night, but tonight is a new chance to grab the golden ring. Joe Blanton has the task against the Marlins at a potentially damp Citizens Bank Park.

Blanton was workmanlike for four innings Thursday against Cincinnati, but the fifth inning became a mess of problems. A Brandon Phillips home run did Blanton in, ending his night after five. He’s hoping to get his ERA back below seven and maybe to a season-best number – anything below 6.82. And he’ll get to do it against a group of players he hasn’t faced much. Most is Jorge Cantu, who is only .231 against Blanton.

The Phillies will stare down young Andrew Miller, of whom they’ve not taken advantage. His last start against the Phils was an eight-inning, seven-strikeout performance on June 11. Since, he made a few relief appearances against the Phils with one tough outing. Shane Victorino has hit him well (.455 AVG, 2 HR).

That’s good news for Vic, who was struggling in May but quietly climbing back to normalcy. His average sits at .270, thanks mostly to his good weekend in the Bronx.

Your gamenight beer: Bitter with fruity smell and golden appearance, Staropramen Lager is a Czech pilsner with international flavor. With its low alcohol content (5 percent), it’s perfect for a rainy night such as this. Even if there is no game, you can enjoy a few of these and move on with your night. Enjoy this with a good bowl of chicken noodle soup.

Go Phillies!


All-Star Voting: Utley Leads 2B Early

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, May 26, 2009 05:35 PM Comments: 18

Chase Utley leads all National League second basemen in All-Star voting. His 675,596 votes ranks second among all NL players, behind Albert Pujols.

Where other Phillies are ranked:

First base: Ryan Howard is third behind Pujols and Prince Fielder.
Shortstop: Jimmy Rollins is third behind JJ Hardy and Hanley Ramirez.
Outfield: Raul Ibanez is sixth behind Ryan Braun, Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Beltran, Manny Ramirez and Mike Cameron. Shane Victorino and Jayson Werth are in 10th and 12th places, respectively.

Yes, if you see a trend, it’s that the Brewers are all over the list. Jason Kendall is second among catchers; Rickie Weeks is second among second basemen; Bill Hall is second among third basemen. At 27-18 the Brewers lead the NL Central, but there is no way Kendall, Hardy and Hall should be in the top five in their respective positions. Oh, and Corey Hart (.242, 4 HR, 18 RBI) is seventh among outfielders. And I find it hard to believe that, arguably, the best player in the National League this season is sixth in his position.


Is A Lineup Change Necessary?

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, May 26, 2009 05:09 PM Comments: 13

DobbsmissResembling a MASH unit, the Mets have called up top prospect Fernando Martinez after spending 2009 in triple-A Buffalo. And as quickly as that was announced, the Mets also proclaimed Martinez would start and bat sixth in tonight’s game against the Nationals.

Of course, the Mets have more scratches and bruises than most small-town hospitals, but the Phillies could learn from this innovative thinking. Last night the Phils offense looked lost and tired in a 5-3 loss to the Marlins. Specifically, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino didn’t play well at all. Werth has been cradling a bad slump, while Vic made a gigantic baserunning error trying to steal second in last night’s ninth inning. It was possible one or both could sit the night out tonight.

So tonight’s lineup? Rollins. Victorino. Utley. Howard. Ibanez. Werth. Feliz. Ruiz. Blanton. AKA the same freakin’ lineup.

I’m not saying the Phils should call up Michael Taylor and start him. No. But when your regular best pinch hitter is hitting a paltry .139 because he supposedly hasn’t had enough chances … or when you want to give your newly called right-handed hitting prospect a chance to play (and against a lefty) …

Are we confident this similar lineup can churn out a bunch of runs tonight? Or should we want to see something fresh and new taking aim at the Marlins?


Rumors: Jason Marquis, Erik Bedard

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, May 26, 2009 01:49 PM Comments: 69

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports reports the Phillies are deep searching for a starting pitcher. He first alluded to this Saturday during the Phillies-Yankees game, and he’s now fleshing out the report with two specific names: Jason Marquis and Erik Bedard.

Marquis, 30, is 6-3 with a 4.45 ERA this season for Colorado. Spending his entire career in the National League, Marquis has resided in the 4.50 ERA range – definitively league average.

Bedard, 30, is 2-2 with a 2.64 ERA this season for Seattle. He has been much more effective throughout his career, capable of dominance. He would likely require a little more than Marquis, but as his contract expires at the end of the season, wouldn’t command too much.


If Mayberry Stays, He Plays

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, May 26, 2009 10:48 AM Comments: 89

MayberryCharlie Manuel told reporters he wants John Mayberry Jr. to stick with the major league team for a little while. It’s good news for the slugging outfielder, who will attempt to prove his worth as an everyday player.

But Mayberry can’t prove anything if he stays on the bench too much. Moreover, the Phillies can’t determine whether Mayberry could be an everyday player for them – which would then allow them to explore possibly moving Jayson Werth for pitching. So if they’re going to keep Big John Stud up for a while, they need to start him as much as possible.

Tonight would be a start. It wouldn’t be a bad night to sit Raul Ibanez, who despite his hot play, is 0-for-6 lifetime against scheduled Florida starter Andrew Miller. Maybe tomorrow would be a good time to sit Jayson Werth, mired in a 2-for-27 slump, against righty Burke Badenhop.

The Phillies need to give Mayberry a chance to succeed and show his value. In the long run, it would benefit the Phils in spades.


Phillies Release Scott Nestor

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Tue, May 26, 2009 07:56 AM Comments: 7

David Murphy reports the Phillies have released Scott Nestor. The right-hander gave up 10 earned runs in five innings for AAA Lehigh Valley and AA Reading this season.

This ironically comes on the same day as the Phils are burned by Wes Helms, who was once rumored in a deal involving Nestor.


Howard Can’t Hit Enough Homers To Top Fish

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, May 25, 2009 10:14 PM Comments: 63

MarlinswinEverything looked so good on the road; they come home, and the Phillies look bad again.

The Phils lost 5-3 to the Marlins. Ryan Howard smashed two home runs; everyone else went 4-for-27 against Marlins pitching. The offensive lull hurt a workable start by Jamie Moyer — he allowed four runs in six innings, three of them coming by a Wes Helms home run that should’ve never happened because of a squeezed strike zone by home plate umpire Marvin Hudson (one of the worst umpiring jobs this year). Still, Moyer walked two and allowed seven innings.

Chan Ho Park also gave up a run through his three innings of clean-up work.

The Phils led off the ninth with a Shane Victorino walk, but the Flyin’ Hawaiian made a boneheaded move, dashing for second and being caught immediately. This, coupled with Jimmy Rollins’ first inning mistake trying to stretch a wild throw, calls for concern with first-base coach Davey Lopes. Something seems off on the basepaths this year, doesn’t it?


Gamenight: Marlins (20-25) At Phillies (24-18)

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, May 25, 2009 05:45 PM Comments: 237

marlinslogoFlorida Marlins (20-25) at Philadelphia Phillies (24-18)
Chris Volstad (3-3, 3.64 ERA) vs. Jamie Moyer (3-4, 7.62 ERA)
Time: 7:05 p.m. at Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia
Weather: Partly cloudy, 77
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Twitter: Phillies Nation

The Phillies are coming off an 8-2 road trip, and will set shop in the friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park, where they’re merely a 8-12 team. Luckily they’ll play the Marlins, a team they’ve swept already this season.

Jamie Moyer, having a poor season by anyone’s standards, gets to face a team he’s dominated in the past. This season he’s already defeated them — his best start, a six-inning, one-run performance on April 26, came before his worst stretch, which he made up for slightly with an OK outing Wednesday night against Cincinnati. Career Moyer is 12-1 with a 2.84 ERA against the Marlins, an ever-young collection of free swingers.

Chris Volstad pitches for Florida. He had a good start last time against the Phillies — a seven-inning, three-run outing that drove him to a season-high 105 pitches. He has pitched at least six innings in his last six starts, though his last two have been among his worst this year (both four runs allowed).

After an 11-inning affair against the Yankees, it’s possible Clay Condrey and Brad Lidge might be unavailable. Ryan Madson didn’t throw too much Sunday, so he could be good to go. Chad Durbin, too. Bottom line: This could very well be a Chan Ho Park night if Moyer doesn’t throw too well.

Driving the empty wheelbarrow is Jayson Werth, hitless in his last nine at bats, which were, ironically, against primarily left-handed pitching.

Your gamenight beer: Cue the foghorn. Coming in from sea is this beauty from Anchor — Old Foghorn ale. An American barleywine, it’s intensely strong and laced with bitter and fruity tastes. It’s a fantastic session beer, and on this the day we fete and honor our troops, it’s a nice way to tip the cap: Celebrate on this glorious Memorial Day evening with a strong brew that recalls the old sea (My family has Naval influence). Happy Memorial Day.

Go Phillies!


Commentary: Phils-Yanks In October? Yes, Please

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Mon, May 25, 2009 02:51 PM Comments: 12

PHINYYIn the wake of yesterday’s victory over the Yankees and in the human sweatbox of a new and crystal clean subway station, I encountered many forlorn Bomber fans. While upset about the outcome of Sunday’s thriller, they all seemed to echo the same sentiment: “Helluva series.”

Damn straight.

This is what happens when two highly talented marquee teams hook up, not to mention the myriad intangibles: Memorial Day weekend, beautiful weather, national television, a world champion, the sport’s most prolific franchise, the plush palace ballpark. This three-game soiree had all the trappings, like the fat Memorial Day frankfurter I loaded with onions and cole slaw Sunday afternoon at the stadium. Two games came to the final half inning, with one ending on the final at bat. The third game played tight with some big television-friendly blastoffs. They publicized the series with gusto; the efforts paid off.

After the conversation starter of “helluva series,” those Yankee fans dove into the points they took away from the set: Raul Ibanez is an unbelievable player, Carlos Ruiz is a nasty little runt, Chase Utley can beat you just by being on the field, the pitching was superb. Then they’d interject with this nugget: “I could see this again in October.”

Damn straight.

One of the fantastic aspects of baseball is acquiring the feeling that something special is afoot. And sometimes the play of two teams causes one to believe there’s better baseball ahead for both teams, and maybe against each other. You get that sense when the Phillies and Mets meet — the game takes off. Last season I felt it during those six games between the Phillies and Cubs — these are two cream teams, and the rest of the National League should bow down. This weekend, the Phils and Yanks played like two teams destined for greater things, and maybe, against each other in the Fall Classic.

This comes on the heels of discovering — via Scott Lauber — that Mr. Predictor 3000 likes the Phillies and Yankees to meet in the World Series (he devised this likely before this three-game set). He’s likely not far off.

The national media would salivate over this: The New York Yankees seek their unprecedented 27th professional championship, and what stands in their way? The defending world champions. Either way there’s victory — the Yankees standing on top of baseball’s mountain once again; the Phillies proclaiming the next great baseball dynasty, a modern-day Big Red Machine. Start with these base names: Alex Rodriguez, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Derek Jeter. Throw in Jimmy Rollins, Raul Ibanez, Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and Brad Lidge, then throw in Hideki Matsui, Mark Teixeira, Johnny Damon, CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera. Brett Myers and Joba Chamberlain for good measure. Heck, Andy Pettite and Jamie Moyer. One one side you have Yankee Stadium, the billion-dollar blue and stone cathedral with history and high-class amenities. Counter that with Citizens Bank Park, the worker’s affordable red and brick bandbox with a carnival outfield and face-close fans. You got Bleacher Creatures? We’ll give you Ashburn Alley.

Seriously, who wouldn’t love it?

Red Sox and Mets fans, of course, wouldn’t love it, which is appropriate, as those teams also played a marquee series this weekend. No, we cannot make assumptions based on one weekend.

Still, who wouldn’t love it?

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