Archive for August, 2009

Gameday: Braves (67-61) at Phillies (74-52)

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sat, August 29, 2009 06:15 PM Comments: 88

Atlanta Braves (67-61) at Philadelphia Phillies (74-52)

Derek Lowe (12-8, 4.48 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (12-9, 2.63 ERA)

Time: 7:05 p.m at Citizens Bank Park
Weather: Fair, 68
Twitter: Phillies Nation

Don’t be surprised if a pitcher’s duel breaks out tonight.  With Derek Lowe and Cliff Lee on the mound, it’s probably going to be a low scoring game.

Lee will be aiming for his sixth win in as many starts with the Phillies.  Since joining the Phillies, he is a perfect 5-0 with a 0.68 ERA.  In 40 innings, he has struck out 39, walked six and hasn’t allowed a home run.  So far it has been guaranteed as to the type of start Lee will provide: go deep into the game and dominate.

In two starts against the Phillies this season, Lowe is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in 14 innings, including  an eight inning shutout on Opening Night.  Lowe has been streaky this season.  He had a 6.13 ERA in an eight start stretch, followed by a 5-0, 2.91 ERA seven game run.  Currently, he his in a cold spell allowing 20 hits in his last 8.2 innings.

For a change, the Phillies would like to get to Lowe.  Lowe is 5-1 with a 2.64 ERA in his career against the Phillies.  The offense is struggling and relying on the long ball, so it may not be easy for them to get to Lowe, a ground ball pitcher.  But it isn’t going to be easy for the Braves to get to Lee either.

MichelobYour Gameday Beer – Michelob
Michelob Lager is brewed here in America by In-Bev’s Anheuser-Busch though it is named after a small town in a region of the Czech Republic known for its hops. That’s pretty much where the story begins and ends. As a pretty basic beer, it has a thin and watery consistency and flavor. There are hints of corn, maybe even citrus, but the bitter and sweet tastes are balanced. Have it with your favorite style of fried chicken. – By Brian



FYI: Ryan Howard is Good

Posted by Pat Gallen, Sat, August 29, 2009 03:28 PM Comments: 14

Philadelphia Phillies- Ryan Howard hits a two-run home run in the third inning of the baseball game against the New York Mets at  Citi Field in New York, Monday, August 24, 2009. (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)Maybe you’ve figured that out on your own?  Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month of so, you know that Ryan Howard is hitting his stride at just the right moment.

When it heats up, so does Howard, and that trend has continued.  Just to throw some exciting stats at you, The Big Piece has launched 11 home runs and knocked in 34 runs over the last 30 days.  That’s the most RBI in baseball over that span.  His 11 jacks ranks just behind sluggers Carlos Pena and Prince Fielder.  Howard has also raked seven doubles.  Not a bad line.

On top of that, the average is rising.  In 2008, Howard had to come up with a .352 average in September just to get above .250 for the season.  This year, the results differ slightly.

It has been a relatively steady season for the most part, something none of us are accustomed to.  A .293 August has pumped Howard’s average to .272.  Not since his MVP season in 2006 have we seen the big guy swinging the stick with a keen eye.  While it’s impossible to expect Howard to hit over .300 again, it’s great to see the consistency once again.

On more than one occasion, Howard has put the entire squad on his broad shoulders, carrying them to a victory.  No one else on in the lineup has that sort of ability – to win multiple games by his lonesome.

Overall, a .272 average with 37 home runs and 111 RBI’s (as of August 29) is a fantastic year for most people.  Checking the calendar, there is still an entire month ahead.  Just another year for Ryan Howard; hitting his stride when it counts the most.


Rain Delay Specialist Earns the Victory

Posted by Amanda Orr, Sat, August 29, 2009 12:30 AM Comments: 42

Call him the “Rain Delay Specialist.”  It was deja vu for Jamie Moyer, who relieved after Pedro Marinez’s start was shortened due to rain.  Thanks to Moyer, two Ryan Howard home runs, and a 1-2-3 Brad Lidge save, the Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves, 4-2.

After Martinez completed two scoreless frames, Howard hit an opposite field home run through the rain drops.  With the rain falling at a steady pace, the tarp rolled out.  After a brief delay, the tarp was removed even though it was raining heavier.  The remainder of the inning was finished, but the tarp was put back on.  A total of one hour and 48 minutes were delayed because of inclement weather.

Rain continued to fall throughout the evening, but not enough to pause play.  Out of the bullpen, Moyer did his job.  He pitched 4.1 innings, allowing one run on Matt Diaz’s RBI double.  He gave up four hits and struck out five.  Since being demoted to the bullpen, Moyer has given up one run in 10.1 innings.  He has struck out ten and hasn’t walked a batter.

Howard (3-for-3) homered again, his 37th of the year. This time it was a two-run shot to center field.  Pedro Feliz added a RBI bloop single in the seventh inning.  With a 4-1 lead, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge would have to close it out.

Ryan Madson got into a jam.  He surrendered one run after allowing three hits and a walk.  Adam LaRoche flied out for the final out of the inning, and the birthday boy escaped the bases loaded threat.  There was only hope that Lidge would not blow his Major League leading tenth blown save.

With two quick outs, Lidge fell behind 2-0 to Diaz.  He came back firing.  Diaz chased the 2-2 slider, ending the game.  Lidge secured his 26th save of the year.  The win over the Braves extended the Phillies lead in the division to eight games.


Gameday: Braves (67-60) At Phillies (73-52)

Posted by Amanda Orr, Fri, August 28, 2009 06:30 PM Comments: 119

Atlanta Braves (67-60) at Philadelphia Phillies (73-52)

Tommy Hanson (9-2, 3.12 ERA) vs. Pedro Martinez (2-0, 5.14 ERA)

Time: 7:05 p.m at Citizens Bank Park
Weather: Rain, 67
TV:Comcast Sportsnet
Twitter: Phillies Nation

Coming off a terrible series against the Pirates, the Phillies look to rebound against the Atlanta Braves, who sit seven games behind the Phillies in the National League East.  Tonight is 70′s night at The Bank and the Phillies would like to get a win, something they did 101 times during the 1977 regular season.

Pedro Martinez will start against the rookie phenom, Tommy Hanson.  Martinez is coming off a win in which he allowed four runs in six innings.  Martinez started off slowly, but improved as the game went on.  Hanson will be one of J.A Happ’s competitors for the 2009 Rookie of the Year campaign.  He is 9-2 with a 3.12 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.  Opponents are hitting .239 against him.  He has allowed only 8 home runs, but he does average more air outs than ground outs.  It will be interesting to see how he fares at Citizens Bank Park.

The offense is struggling for the Phillies, and it won’t be easy to turn it around against the tough pitchers they will be facing during the series.  Maybe a homecoming is exactly what they need to get the offense back on track.

Brew Free! or Die IPAYour Gameday Beer – Brew Free! or Die IPA
This libertarian beer is brewed by the 21st Amendment Brewery just down the street from AT&T Park in San Francisco and recently became available here in the Northeast. Not surprisingly, this IPA is aggressive on the hops and bitterness. If you drink it cold however, it can be a very enjoyable experience. Pair its strong flavors with some not-too-spicy chicken tikka. – By Brian



Video: 1986 TV Ad for the Phillies

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, August 28, 2009 01:45 PM Comments: 4

It’s time for another Phillies video, we’ll feature one every Friday afternoon for the next ten weeks. Enjoy!

Here is a television ad for Veteran’s Stadium featuring the Philly Phanatic from the 1986 season.


Prospect Rankings No. 15: Justin De Fratus

Posted by Ben Seal, Fri, August 28, 2009 01:00 PM Comments: 0

Justin De Fratus, RHP

Born: 10/21/1987 in Ventura, California

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 215

The Phillies chose De Fratus in the 11th round of the 2007 Draft out of Ventura College, and in a short time in the organization he has already proven himself to be an intriguing young player. He is not a flashy pitcher, just a very consistent one with all the characteristics of a solid prospect who could make himself into something more. He offers a fastball that sits at 89-93 but has topped out at 95 and shows good downward movement in the strike zone, as well as a slider and a changeup. De Fratus throws across his body to create some deception in his pitches, though it might make it difficult for him to repeat his delivery easily.

At 19 years old he started off in the Gulf Coast League, then moved to Williamsport in 2008 and after finishing with a 3.67 ERA there, he has spent this whole season in Lakewood. After pitching in relief through the first portion of the season, De Fratus transitioned to his natural role as a starter and has had mixed results. His first four starts were choppy as he stretched out, but since then he has become a consistent 6-7 inning pitcher for the Blue Claws.

De Fratus has exceptional control that makes his stuff look even better on the mound. Since adding some sink to his fastball he has become a good groundball pitcher that can rack up the strikeouts. Despite his nearly 2-to-1 groundball ratio, the most impressive statistic in his portfolio is his career 4.52 strikeout-to-walk rate, which is an elite number by any scale. Lefties hit well against De Fratus – a .297 clip this season – compared to righties, who hit just .242 off of him.

De Fratus is at just about the right age for his level, and by next season should be pitching in Clearwater with a promotion to Reading a strong possibility if he proves successful. His peripheral numbers indicate that he has all the tools necessary to continue to grow as a pitcher and become a consistent force in the minors. The flexibility he has shown, pitching well both in the bullpen and as a starter, makes him even more valuable to the organization.


Year   Level   W   L   ERA    IP    H    ER    BB    K    K/9

2007   ROOK   2   3   4.30   46    51   22    3    34    6.7

2008   A-       6   5   3.67  83.1  87   34    25   74   8.0

2009   A        5   6   3.36  101.2  103  38   16   91   8.1

RankingsAll previous prospect profiles can be found here, which is also on the left sidebar for easy viewing

15.  Justin De Fratus, RHP
16.  Sergio Escalona, LHP
17.  Yohan Flande, LHP
18.  Julian Sampson, RHP
19.  John Mayberry, Jr., OF
20.  Mike Cisco, RHP
21.  Freddy Galvis, SS
22.  Jonathan Pettibone, RHP
23.  Domingo Santana, OF
24.  Jonathan Singleton, 1B
25.  Drew Naylor, RHP


The Dip: Chase Utley – Greatest Phillie of All Time?

Posted by The Dipsy, Fri, August 28, 2009 10:55 AM Comments: 97

This is The Dip, a weekly column penned by our own commenter, The Dipsy. Agree or disagree with what he says? Tell us by leaving your comments.

When we think of the greatest players of all time we shouldn’t go by pure stats for often they leave a canvas half painted.  There have always been players whose greatness transcends the confines of mathematical computation.  Players like Roberto Clemente, Jackie Robinson, Derek Jeter, and even Curt Schilling come to mind.  All have stats, but all also brought something important and out of the ordinary to the game that others didn’t.

Chase Utley is not in the same class as the players listed above.  But if he and the Phillies perform at current pace for another 5 seasons, he will be.  How would history view a World Series winning second baseman who averaged 30 HRs 100 RBIs 100 Rs with a .300 AVG over the span of 10-12 years? The answer would be with a trip to the Hall of Fame, and depending on how long he can extend his career, recognition as the greatest second baseman of the last 70 or so years.  Better than Sandberg.  Better than Morgan.  High praise.

Thoughts:  Utley does not play out of position at second base.  Unlike guys like Jeff Kemp and Alfonso Soriano, who are hitters that can play second base, he is a natural second baseman who excels at fielding his position.  He is a brilliant baserunner.  He is regarded as the heart and soul of one championship team and should have opportunities to win more.  He is the leader of his team and does whatever it takes to win a game.  Although he might make an occasional error, he rarely does anything inherently wrong on a baseball diamond.  He plays with the headiness befitting a Jackie Robinson.  He exudes the quiet class of Derek Jeter (parade comments notwithstanding) while playing with Pete Rose’s earthiness and grit.  This is not a man crush – this is just reality.

The Phillies have had great players.  Steve Carlton was brilliant but strange.  Schmidt, arguably the greatest to play his position, was aloof, off-putting and too casual for many – that’s his curse.  Utley is a better player than Ashburn and history has obscured the memory of Ed Delahanty.  Utley’s got the game, the attitude, the ring, and the respect of all with whom he plays.  He even loves animals. There has never been a player like him here and the fans adore him like no other that has come before. Philadelphians finally have the player they’ve always wanted – and that’s why he just may turn out to be the greatest Phillie of all time.


Pirates Take Series With Late Comeback

Posted by Amanda Orr, Thu, August 27, 2009 10:35 PM Comments: 63

The Pittsburgh Pirates have nothing to play for.  Being in last place (19 games under .500, 19 games back), the Pirates can only play spoiler.  The Phillies swept the Pirates in July, but the Pirates wanted redemption.  They welcomed in the reigning World Champs, and embarrassed them. 

The Phillies had an excellent opportunity to knock around Charlie Morton right from the chute. The Phillies only had one run to show in a bases loaded, nobody out situation.  Ryan Howard’s RBI ground out put the Phillies on the board, but Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez each popped out to end the threat.  The Phillies added another run in the second inning on Paul Bako’s (2-2, 2 BB) homer.

Andrew McCutchen greeted J.A Happ with a lead-off home run.  After that, Happ didn’t allow anything– until the eighth inning.

The Phillies learned about Garrett Jones at Citizens Bank Park, when he homered in each game of a three game series.  With two outs in the eighth, he struck again.  His two-run homer to center field gave the Pirates a 3-2 lead.

Other than the two homers, Happ pitched well.  He pitched eight innings giving up three runs on seven hits.  He walked two and struck out four.

With a struggling closer in Matt Capps, the Phillies had an opportunity to take the lead in the top of the ninth.  Matt Stairs represented the go-ahead run, but he’d have to snap an 0-for-24 streak .  The last time he had gotten a hit was on July 11, when he homered against Capps.  It wasn’t meant to be, because although he swung for the fences, he struck out.

Jimmy Rollins grounded out to end the game.  The offense struggled all series long.  When the Phillies bats are hot, they’re on fire.  When they’re cold, they’re frozen.  The offense has been very streaky and they’ve become too reliant on the home run.  

Expecting to sweep, the Phillies learned they can not take the Pirates lightly. With the 3-2 loss, the Phillies now have a record of 9-13 at PNC Park since 2002.  The Phillies have a history of falling to bad teams, but they still have a comfortable lead in the division.


Gameday: Phillies (73-51) At Pirates (52-72)

Posted by Amanda Orr, Thu, August 27, 2009 06:09 PM Comments: 115

Philadelphia Phillies (73-51) at Pittsburgh Pirates (52-72)

J.A Happ (10-2, 2.59ERA) vs. Charlie Morton (3-6, 5.21 ERA)

Time: 7:05 p.m at PNC Park
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 80
Twitter: Phillies Nation

The Phillies and Pirates will play the rubber-match game of the series tonight.  Even though the Pirates are a last place team, they’ve kept pace with the Phillies during this series. The games have been close and down to the wire.

The Phillies will hand the ball to J.A Happ, who has the lowest ERA of any rookie since Hideo Nomo in 1995.  He has been one of the most consistent starters, and isn’t phased when runners reach base.  Happ allowed one run in seven innings when he faced the Buccos in July.  He limited them to four hits, and walked two.

Charlie Morton gave up two runs in 6.1 innings in his last outing, rebounding from a game in which he allowed ten runs in one inning.  Morton faced the Phillies last season and gave up five runs in two innings.  Shane Victorino homered off him.  Victorino, the team’s leading hitter, is batting just .222 in the last seven days.

The offense needs to provide Happ with run support, something they’ve lacked in the past two games.  With the ninth inning troubles, it would be nice for the Phillies to get a comfortable lead, big enough so that it is a non-save situation.

Tonight’s lineup: Rollins (SS)/ Victorino (CF)/ Utley (2B)/ Howard (1B)/ Werth (RF)/ Ibanez (LF)/ Feliz (3B)/ Bako (C) Happ (P).

I.C. LightYour Gameday Beer – I.C. Light
When in Pittsburgh, drink the beer I suppose. This staple of Western PA carries little sophistication other than the many different tailgate games that it’s good for. The macrobrew is about on par with Miller, Bud and Coors (only around 4% ABV) except maybe with a little more soul. Eat it with some classic ‘burgh food like brats or any sandwich topped with french fries. – By Brian



Howard Provides the Difference

Posted by Amanda Orr, Wed, August 26, 2009 11:11 PM Comments: 92

For some reason, Ryan Howard can’t hit at PNC Park.  Entering tonight’s game, the slugger batted .167 there.  His average may not have raised much, but he provided the biggest, and most important hit of the night.

Chase Utley’s solo home run in the first inning immediately put the Phillies on the board.  The Phillies have homered in the first inning in four consecutive games.  It was awhile before another run would cross the plate.

Cole Hamels finally put together a solid outing.  He pitched eight shutout innings, but did allow many base runners.  He allowed seven hits, walked two, and hit a batter.  He managed to escaped the jams without problems.  Paul Maholm pitched just as well.  In seven innings, he gave up one run on five hits.  He walked two, struck out four, and was able to get the Phillies to ground out eleven times.

With a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth, the Phillies would have liked to add on.  With runners on second and third and nobody out, the Pirates wiggled out of a potential big inning.  Joel Hanrahan struck out Ben Francisco and Pedro Feliz.  He intentionally walked pinch hitter Raul Ibanez to get to a slumping Matt Stairs.  Stairs was ahead 3-0, but Hanrahan fought back, getting Stairs to ground out.

Brad Lidge received the day off since he pitched in four straight games.  Ryan Madson took over, and struck out Steve Pearce to start the inning, topping at 99 mph.  A sign of relief?  Not so much.  The next batter, Brandon Moss, homered to center field, tying the game at one.  For the second day in a row, the Phillies blew a save to the Pirates.

Unlike Lidge, Madson was able to keep the game tied and give the bats, which were silent all night, a chance in the tenth.

Jimmy Rollins walked and Shane Victorino singled.  With Rollins at third, Utley hit a fly ball to center, deep enough for Rollins to score.  Holding up at third, Rollins didn’t take a chance. On the very first pitch to Ryan Howard, Rollins trotted home.  Howard hit a towering drive to right field; a three-run go-ahead home run.

Madson came back out for the bottom of the tenth.  He allowed a lead-off single, but Chase Utley ended the game by turning a fantastic double play on a ball that deflected off the mound.

The game moved along quickly as Maholm and Hamels took part in a pitchers’ duel.  But it was Ryan Howard who provided the difference in the Phillies 4-1 win over the Pirates.

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