Archive for April, 2010

Lumber Slumber

Posted by Paul Boye, Fri, April 30, 2010 11:03 PM Comments: 49

The Phillies lost the opening game of their series against the Mets, 9-1. There was basically nothing positive about this game, except Dave Herndon. It even included Brad Lidge serving up a home run to the very first batter he faced this season! Kyle Kendrick struggled, Danys Baez ruined a 1-2-3 inning by following up with a much rougher one, and no Philly batter recorded an extra-base hit as the hitters struck out eight times. What stands out, though, is the continued lack of offensive production from the frigid Philly bats.

There are few things more irritating than watching the Phillies’ offense go into extended offensive slumps. A lineup stacked with good hitters – Utley, Howard, Werth, et. al – goes into a prolonged period of futility every year, almost without fail. Whenever the struggles come, they almost always manifest in the form of a full-team slump. No one hitter rises above the mess to salvage these ugly stretches, so it seems. Compounded by tonight’s rather embarrassing loss to the Mets at the start of a homestand, the offense’s struggles seem to have the same symptoms of past seasons’ ills, only happening a couple of months sooner.

Granted, struggles often come with some poor pitching interspersed throughout. I’ll put those aside, as we focus solely on the offensive side of things. In the end, even through the doom-and-gloom, you’ll see the silver lining.

Continue reading Lumber Slumber


Gameday: Mets (13-9) at Phillies (12-9)

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, April 30, 2010 03:41 PM Comments: 128

New York Mets (13-9) at Philadelphia Phillies (12-9)

Jonathon Niese (0-1, 3.68 ERA) vs. Kyle Kendrick (0-0, 7.71 ERA)

Time: 7:05 p.m at Citizens Bank Park
TV:Comcast Sportsnet
Weather: Sunny, 71
Twitter: @philliesnation

Meet the Mets! Meet the Mets! Step right up and greet the Mets! Bring your kiddies, bring your wife! Guaranteed to have the time of your life. Because the Mets are really sockin’ the ball, knockin’ those home runs over the wall. East side, West side, everybody’s coming down to meet the M-E-T-S Mets, of New York town!

If you’re either too young to remember the 1990s or are a newcomer to the Philly baseball scene, you’d be inclined to believe that our northern neighbors represent the absolute nadir of baseball culture, with their creepy mascot and affinity for hard drugs.

This weekend marks the Metropolitans’ first visit to Philadelphia in 2010, and the first opportunity for Phils fans to boo the bejeezus out of one of the most dysfunctional teams in baseball.

The Phillies, who came out of the gate like a rocket, are on a bit of a slide right now, avoiding the sweep in San Francisco only by pulling out a narrow victory in the 11th inning of a truly bizarre game Thursday afternoon.

While the Phillies have been lollygagging the ball around the infield, the Mets have opened up a can on the Cubs, Dodgers, and Braves, winning seven in a row to crawl back from their 2-9 start to first place in the division. In short, it’s time for the Phillies to get their collective act together.

Jonathon Niese takes the ball for New York tonight against Kyle Kendrick, of whom I spoke ill the last time I wrote one of these. That was two starts ago, against the Braves, and he responded by tossing eight shutout innings. Since then he’s come back down to earth some, but it’s not like he’s squaring off against Johan Santana or Mike Pelfrey.

One underrated stat coming into this game is Niese’s absurd 4.09 BB/9 ratio, which is a good omen for a Phillies lineup stacked with players who will only swing if the KGB threatens to send their families to Siberia if they don’t. In short, expect a lot of walks.

Some good news–as the bodies (Rollins, Blanton, Happ, Romero, and now Madson) seem to pile up, someone’s finally coming back from injury. The Phillies have activated everyone’s favorite slider-slinging son of Sacramento, Brad Lidge, which may or may not mean that Madson will keep getting the chance to lose games in the 9th inning. Now that Lidge is (reportedly) healthy, Uncle Cholly might let him blow a few saves going forward.

Lineup: Victorino (CF), Polanco (3B), Utley (2B), Howard (1B), Werth (RF), Ibanez (LF), Castro (SS), Ruiz (C), Kendrick (P)

donnybrook stoutYour Gameday Beer: Victory Donnybrook Stout

This evening’s beer is a pleasant offering from a local brewery. The makers of the face-inverting Hopdevil and other potent potables have turned down the volume some and produced a rather pleasant Irish stout. As a connoisseur of such beers, I have to say that this is the best stout that you have a chance of finding on tap around here, apart from Guinness. Its creamy smoothness and rich taste make it a truly enjoyable beer, and excellent with bar food. -By Michael

Go Phillies!


Boston Road Trip for Phillies-Red Sox

Posted by Brian Michael, Thu, April 29, 2010 11:32 AM Comments: 33

Just a reminder that if you want to go to Boston, but have not purchased tickets yet, please do so soon there are only about a dozen spots left!

For this year’s Boston trip we’re teaming up with the crazy fans of Phils Fever/Green Legion for what will easily be our most elaborate and fun trip yet. We have a charter bus service (chock full of beer, pretzels and Phillies DVDs) that will be leaving Philly at around 9 am on Friday, June 11 with arrival in Boston expected by 3 pm. We will be staying at the Boston Park Plaza for 2 nights – Friday and Saturday. The package includes a bleacher seat to the Saturday game between the Phillies and Red Sox at historic Fenway Park as well as a pregame tailgate party at the Cask ‘n’ Flagon, just opposite left field.

The 2 night Bus trip package includes:

  • Transportation to and from Philadelphia via charter bus!!
  • Miller LITE provided on the bus for the ride to Boston!!
  • 2 nights hotel accommodations at the Boston Park Plaza [map] [hotel website]
  • A complete tailgate at the Cask ‘n’ Flagon Saturday before the game to include all of your food and beer!!
  • Your bleacher seat between the Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Red Sox on Saturday, June 12th!!
  • All your red and white face paint!!

4 people to a room$395 per personreserve your spot now!
3 people to a room$425 per personreserve your spot now!
2 people to a room$480 per personreserve your spot now!


Phillies Nation Video Update

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, April 28, 2010 10:46 PM Comments: 32

Once a week, or, whenever  is appropriate, I’ll post a video here in the same mold as Tim Malcolm’s Nation Minute. The only difference, it’ll usually be a little longer than a minute. Enjoy, let us know what you think, and leave a title in the comments if you so choose.


Phillies Escape the Bay with a Win on Wacky Afternoon

Posted by Jonathan Fogg, Wed, April 28, 2010 08:04 PM Comments: 76

The Phillies’ 7-6, 11-inning win over the Giants today is a perfect example of why you can’t ever write off the Phillies – and why you can’t draw any solid conclusions from early-season results.

What do you learn from a game like this? Very little that you didn’t know already. The Phillies’ bullpen is still riddled with questions, and Ryan Madson still can’t consistently close out games. The offense has yet to shake its recent hiccups (though maybe the adrenaline-igniting ninth-inning rally against Giants ace Tim Lincecum and closer Brian Wilson will be the catalyst).

In the end, it’s just too early in the season to etch anything in stone based on a few April series. If there is one thing clear, it’s that the Phillies need to see if Brad Lidge can reassume the closer role, because Madson has proved time and again that he can’t handle it.

Though it ended up as a struggle of endurance, the game began as a matchup of Lincecum and Cole Hamels. Using primarily two pitches – a four-seam fastball and a split-fingered fastball – Lincecum buzzed through the Phillies’ lineup without much difficulty, just as teammates Jonathan Sanchez and Todd Wellemeyer had done the previous two days.

Even though Lincecum allowed a fifth-inning opposite-field home run to Ryan Howard, for 8 1/3 innings he avoided putting multiple runners on base – something his counterpart, Cole Hamels, couldn’t do. Hamels, who to his credit had 10 strikeouts and at times showed faint signs of being a dominant pitcher, loaded the bases in the sixth inning with score tied at 1. Then he did something dominant pitchers don’t do: He walked in the go-ahead run. After Phils manager Charlie Manuel left a clearly struggling Hamels out on the mound, Edgar Renteria followed with a two-run single.

The Phillies were quiet until the ninth, when Giants manager Bruce Bochy removed Lincecum after a one-out walk to Shane Victorino. After Chase Utley singled and Ryan Howard walked, Jayson Werth fouled off several pitches before dropping a bloop millimeters inside the right-field line, clearing the bases and tying the score. A fan dressed in Phillies garb nearly committed a monstrous mental error by reaching out to grab the ball (which would have turned the hit into a two-run ground-rule double), but luckily for the Phillies – and for him – the ball eluded his grasp.

In the 10th, the Phils took the lead when backup catcher Brian Schneider motored home on a wild pitch, but Madson allowed a leadoff double and promptly blew the save, No. 2 of the season.

But the Phils, as they have done so many times under Manuel, punched right back. Wilson Valdez ripped a ball into the left-field corner that barely cleared the glove of Eugenio Velez, scoring Raul Ibanez. Velez had an easier play seconds later on a fly ball by Victorino, but the ball hit the heel of Velez’s glove and bounded away as Valdez raced home for a 7-5 lead.

On a wild afternoon, the Phils wouldn’t walk away with a win that easily. The clouds opened, and showers started to fall at AT&T Park. Then Nelson Figueroa took the mound, and hits – and more weird bounces – began to drop as well. Only Schneider’s whirling catch-and-tag after an errant throw by Howard saved Figueroa from the Phillies’ second blown save of the afternoon – and helped Figueroa secure his first career save.

If one certainty emerged from the wild afternoon by the bay, it was this: Heading home for a challenging 10-game stretch against the Mets, Cardinals and Braves, the Phillies needed a win – any kind of win – and they got it.


Gameday: Phillies (11-9) at Giants (12-8)

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, April 28, 2010 02:45 PM Comments: 248

Philadelphia Phillies (11-9) at San Francisco Giants (12-8)

Cole Hamels (2-2, 5.11 ERA) vs. Tim Lincecum (4-0, 1.00 ERA)

Time: 3:45 p.m at AT&T Park
TV: Comcast SportsNet/MLB Network
Weather: Cloudy with showers possible, 51
Twitter: @philliesnation

Ugh, Todd Wellemeyer.  That’s really all you need to know about last night’s offensive debacle in which the Phils could not figure out the veteran righty who sported a 8.16 ERA going into action.  He finished after seven innings, allowing two earned.  The Phils mustered just one extra-base hit.

On the bright side, this is the end of the Phillies nine-game road trip that spanned Atlanta, Phoenix, and San Francisco.  Cole Hamels will look to close it out with a win and at least hit Philly on a high note.  Hamels has been his usual consistently inconsistent self.  His ERA is above five, he has one very strong start, and three very-average starts mixed in.

On the other side is the reigning two-time NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum.  Not exactly what you want to see when you’re trying to leaving San Fran with a victory and some hope.  The Kid is 4-0 with an ERA of one.  That’s all, just normal stuff for him.  He’s the only guy in baseball keeping pace with Roy Halladay on the mound, and luckily enough, the Phils get him today.  He’s as nasty as they come, and he looks like your little brother.  If they can figure out a way to get to Lincecum, something they couldn’t do against the likes of Wellemeyer, Sanchez, and Benson, the could plant the seeds for a positive homestand starting Friday.

Since singing a $125 million contract extension earlier in the week, Ryan Howard has struggled.  He hasn’t homered since the Phils were in Houston (64-straight at-bats).  I feel one coming today.  Just a hunch, but damn does he need it.

LINEUP: CF Victorino, 3B Polanco, 2B Utley, 1B Howard, RF Werth, LF Ibanez, SS Castro, C Ruiz, P Hamels

Your gamenight beer: Cigar City Maduro Oatmeal Brown Ale

Had this one the other night at the one and only Grey Lodge Pub and it was rather tasty.  It’s dark color is a bit of a misnomer; it’s much smoother than it lets on. It’s meant to be paired with a stogie, something I’m not into, so pair it with some quesadillas, something I did do.  It was a fantastic pairing. There are hints of toffee and caramel in it too, so if you’re a coffee drinker, it’s something you might enjoy as well.  - By Pat

Go Phillies!


The Offense Has Gone Bad

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, April 28, 2010 10:20 AM Comments: 21

This video, for some strange reason, reminded me of the Phillies offense.  It has gone bad.  It’s gone sour.  It’s just plain terrible right now, and there are no two ways about that.

Let’s start at the beginning; April 13.  That’s when Jimmy Rollins hit the disabled list (technically he missed the game before, but for all intents and purposes lets say the 13th)with a calf injury. The bats, which were singing harmoniously like a beautiful choir, became out of tune and flat, and then basically silent. Since J-Roll sat out, this vaunted Phillies offense has scored three runs or fewer seven times in 13 games.  Is this a product of his DL stint, or merely a cold streak?

Shane Victorino has always been lauded for his speed and skill, which make him the perfect leadoff hitter.  However, he’s taken just one walk and of his 13 hits from the number one spot in the lineup, four of them came in J-Roll’s first game away.  Other than that, he’s been struggling at the top.  The trickle down effect has hit a number of players as well. Chase Utley has just three hits in his last six games, hasn’t homered since April 16, and looks lost at the dish.  After a blazing start, Ryan Howard has stretched his  career long homer-less drought to 64 at-bats, or since April 10 at Houston.

Hitting with runners in scoring position as become a lost art for this team.  On occasion, this offense is a machine with men on base. Now, they’re staying stranded on those little white islands.  Their RISP average has dipped to .246 – only the Mets, Cardinals, Pirates, and Braves have a figure worse than the Phillies in the NL.  They’ve only managed to plate 78 baserunners who have been at second and third; many of those coming in that ridiculous 7-1 start.  Milwaukee leads the National League with 109 runs scored from second and third.

During the decline, the pitching hasn’t performed well enough to keep them afloat and the NL East lead has been lost.  Don’t look now (try not to look, really) but the New York Mets have take over the division with the Phils latest loss.  Without Rollins they’ve faltered badly going 5-8, including three losses in a row.

Yes, it’s very early in the season.  And just a year ago, the fans were clamoring for a breakout after an April that saw the Phils go (gasp!) 11-9.  Look familiar?  Early season kinks need to be worked out, and they will be.  Just give it time and that offense will not leave you with such a bad taste in your mouth.


Phils Go Quietly Out of First Place in NL East

Posted by Jonathan Fogg, Wed, April 28, 2010 02:03 AM Comments: 22

You can chalk it up to the law of averages if you want. Or you can say they’re just not hitting early in the season, like just about every other season the past decade. Maybe you’d rather blame the absence of Jimmy Rollins. There are a multitude of excuses for the way the Phillies have played the past 10 games, but they certainly don’t look like the dominant team fans expected would go wire to wire to the NL East title.

In fact, after they struggled to do much of anything against the previously scuffling Todd Wellemeyer in a 6-2 loss to the Giants on Tuesday night at AT&T Park, the Phillies fell out of first place for the first time since May 29, 2009.

The Phillies took a 1-0 lead in the second on a Jayson Werth double and a Raul Ibanez sacrifice fly, but the inning could have been more productive if not for Ryan Howard getting thrown out at second in a combination of embarrassingly bad baserunning by Howard and a laser throw by right fielder Nate Schierholtz. Because the Phils obviously weren’t paying attention, Schierholtz (who had 10 outfield assists last season) would later throw out Chase Utley on a bullet throw from right-field that never touched the turf – making the night a microcosm of how the 2010 Phillies have not been the same team on the basepaths as in recent seasons.

The Giants quickly took the lead in the bottom of the inning on a pair of solo homers off Jamie Moyer, who allowed four runs on 10 hits. His counterpart, however, didn’t give up much of anything after the second. Ryan Howard got the only hit off Wellemeyer after that inning, a single. And to top it off, the bullpen added to its recent struggles as Chad Durbin gave up a pair of runs in the seventh. But with the Phillies not being able to consistently hit any pitcher wearing a Giants jersey (a trend likely to continue Wednesday afternoon against Tim Lincecum), it was moot.

About the only positive to take from the night was that J.C. Romero – who is returning from left elbow surgery – pitched a scoreless eighth. The outing went much better than his first appearance of the season Friday at Arizona, when he allowed a home run and a walk without retiring a batter.


Gameday: Phillies (11-8) at Giants (11-8)

Posted by Jonathan Fogg, Tue, April 27, 2010 07:13 PM Comments: 109

Philadelphia Phillies (11-8) at San Francisco Giants (11-8)

Jamie Moyer (2-1, 5.00 ERA) vs. Todd Wellemeyer (0-3, 8.16 ERA)

Time: 10:10 p.m at AT&T Park
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Weather: Cloudy with showers possible, 53
Twitter: @philliesnation

Yes, I know it’s April.

Yes, I know the Phillies are still in first place in first place in the NL East despite injuries, shaky pitching and an offense as fickle as the Dow Jones industrial average.

But for several reasons, this is a must-win game for the Phillies. You don’t have to be Keith Law to figure that out. Just take a look at who pitched for the Giants last night: up-and-coming left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, who held the Phillies to one run. Then take a peek at who the Giants are handing the ball to tomorrow: two-time defending Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum.

Teams want to avoid sweeps in any series, whether it’s April or September. And tonight the Phillies get a chance to pick up a win against Todd Wellemeyer, whose ERA is even higher than Ryan Madson’s 6.75 – which also happens to be Wellemeyer’s career ERA against the Phils. And if that’s not enough, here are the rest of Wellemeyer’s career splits vs. the Phillies: 0-2., 1.63 WHIP, .290 BAA, seven home runs allowed in 22 2/3 innings pitched.

As troubling as Monday’s loss was (after all, Roy Halladay has to settle for 32-1 instead of 33-0), there was one major bright spot. Shane Victorino went 3-for-5, including his first two doubles of the season, for only his second game of the season with more than two hits. No matter where he hits in the order, Victorino is an essential gear in the high-octane engine that is the Phillies’ offense; when he sheds his early-season slump, it will give the lineup a nitro boost.

One troubling thing that has emerged in the first month is the Phillies’ steep decline in steals. They rank second-to-last in the National League with a meager seven; the Nationals and Padres are tied for the most with 20. From 2007 to 2009, the Phillies stole 393 bases, behind only the Mets’ 460 in the NL.

LINEUP: CF Victorino, 3B Polanco, 2B Utley, 1B Howard, RF Werth, LF Ibanez, SS Castro, C Ruiz, P Moyer

Your gamenight beer: The very malty strong ale, Old Chub, is a Scottish ale that goes down very nicely. The can – it’s served in a can – has a nice kilt pattern on it.  Couldn’t you imagine Jamie Moyer in a kilt? Go get ‘em, old chub! Have this with some beef barley.

Go Phillies!


ESPN’s Keith Law on 97.3 ESPN FM

Posted by Pat Gallen, Tue, April 27, 2010 05:24 PM Comments: 26

ESPN.com MLB analyst Keith Law joined the Sports Bash with Mike Gill earlier today and bashed the extension the Phillies gave to slugger Ryan Howard.  In the interview, Law said Howard was being paid like the second best player in the game, but might not even be the 20th best player in the majors.

Law said that he doesn’t see the logic in giving him that many years in a deal when he is so far away from free agency.  He also bashes Howard ability, or lack thereof, to hit left handed pitching saying the decline is well under way.

Click here to listen Listen to Keith Law discuss the Ryan Howard deal on ESPN Radio

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