Archive for April, 2010

Hamels Gets Rocked, Phils Fall To D-Backs 7-4

Posted by Jason Bintliff, Sat, April 24, 2010 09:14 AM Comments: 14

Cole Hamels looked impressive in his last outing. Through the first three innings of last night’s contest, he cruised.

This of course was before he suffered an acute case of whiplash in the fourth.

The Phillies jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, on Shane Victorino’s R.B.I. triple in the top of third, scoring Hamels who had doubled in the previous at-bat. The Phillies would add another run on Jayson Werth’s controversial fly-ball to center, which was dropped by center-fielder, Chris Young, transitioning the ball from his glove to his bare hand. Werth, demonstrated heads-up base running as he continued to run all the way home. The result was a four base error on Chris Young.

In the bottom half of the fourth, with one out, things fell apart for Hamels. With one on, Mark Reynolds took Hamels deep, to tie the ballgame. The next batter, Adam LaRoche, homered giving the D-Backs the lead. However, Arizona wasn’t quite finished as Chris Snyder stepped to the plate with one on and took Hamels yard, again, giving the Diamond Backs a 5-2 lead. Hamels would surrender one more long-ball and give Arizona starter, Anna Benson’s husband Kris, all of the support he would need.

Benson went six strong, allowing just two runs, while scattering eight hits. Hamels, despite his fourth-inning meltdown, pitched pretty well, striking out seven while walking only one batter.

The Phillies would make a feeble attempt to climb back into the ballgame, however a lack of timely hitting kept the Phils at bay as they were only able to manage two more runs.

The Phillies return to action to face Arizona tonight.


Gameday: Phillies (10-5) at Diamondbacks (6-9)

Posted by Paul Boye, Fri, April 23, 2010 08:09 PM Comments: 136

dbacksPhiladelphia Phillies (10-5) at Arizona Diamondbacks (6-9)

Cole Hamels (2-1, 3.86) vs. Kris Benson (0-1, 3.00)

Time: 9:40, Chase Field
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 53 (Retractable Roof Stadium)
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Twitter: @philliesnation

From one young phenom to another, the Phillies travel west to take on the Diamondbacks in the second leg of their current road trip. After defeating Jason Heyward and the Braves in Atlanta, the Phils must now set their sights on Justin Upton’s D-Backs, who will send former Lehigh Valley IronPig Kris Benson to the hill to face Cole Hamels.

After placing J.A. Happ on the disabled list Thursday, the burden on Hamels to provide a solid secondary option to Roy Halladay in the rotation seems increased. Hamels was very effective in his last outing, allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out eight in a hard luck loss to the Marlins. Plenty of people are hoping he can build on that start to hold the rotation together as Happ and Joe Blanton recover from their nicks and scrapes.

Arizona, meanwhile, enter on a cold 1-6 skid in their last seven games, weighted down by a pitching staff that sports a 5.31 ERA, twelfth in the National League. Offense certainly hasn’t been the problem, despite the young Upton’s early struggles – .186/.284/.356 for the 22-year-old through 15 games – the Diamondbacks have averaged better than five runs per game to start the year. Led by their potent infield bats, SS Stephen Drew, 2B Kelly Johnson and 3B Mark Reynolds have combined to hit 10 homers and create a noteworthy top of the Arizona lineup, though much of that goes for naught if pitching can’t seal the deal.

Current Phillies, Juan Castro and Brian Schneider included, have a combined .370/.452/.532 line against Benson, with Polanco being Benson’s standout nemesis; the old/new third baseman has tattooed Benson (albeit over just 12 PA) to the tune of .545/.583/.727 with two doubles. This will be the first time he has faced the Phillies since 2006, noting that he missed the entire 2007 season and was part of the Philly system in 2008.

LINEUP: Victorino (CF), Polanco (3B), Utley (2B), Howard (1B), Werth (RF), Francisco (LF), Castro (SS), Schneider (C), Hamels (P)

Go Phillies!

Your gameday beer: Rising Moon

A seasonal from the Blue Moon branch of Coors, Rising Moon has a hint of citrus undertone with lime taking the lead; a nice choice for the improving spring weather. It is the offshoot of a bigger, corporate brewer, so you will get some of the flavorings and finishes that are typical of such an establishment. But couple it with some meat or fish after grilling and you’ve got a solid pairing. Besides, you’re all closet Miller Lite drinkers in the end.


Party for Harry Kalas Statue at McFadden’s

Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, April 23, 2010 12:29 PM Comments: 15

Harry Kalas StatuePhillies games will never quite be the same with the loss of Harry Kalas. He was a true Philadelphia legend and the one constant comfort for Phillies fans over the years.

The day after Harry died, a Philadelphia Phillies fan started a petition on Facebook seeking support for a statue to be erected in Kalas’ honor and memory.  They’re working to raise $80,000 to build the memorial Harry deserves and will present it as a gift to the Phillies once it’s complete.  They’re over 25% of the way there.

On Friday April 23rd, a party will be thrown in Harry’s honor at McFadden’s at Citizens Bank Ballpark to raise money for the statue. The festivities start at 7:30 and Phillies-D’backs game will be on the TVs at 9:40. Tickets are $10 in advance and you must be 21 years old or over to attend.  Here’s what’s on offer:

  • $3 Bud/Bud Light all night
  • $4 Mixed Drinks/Wine
  • $1 Hot Dogs
  • Joe Conklin will open the event
  • Philadelphia Lingerie Football Team appearances
  • Local celebrities
  • Tons of autographed stuff for silent auction
  • Chance to win pair of tickets for the Phillies Nation 8/14 trip against the Mets
  • Live Music by HOLT 45!

For tickets to the event, click here.

If you can’t make it on April 23rd but still want to make a donation to this worthy cause, click here.


Moyer Propels Phils to Series Win in Atlanta

Posted by Paul Boye, Thu, April 22, 2010 11:08 PM Comments: 47

After a tough loss Tuesday extended their losing streak to three games, the Phillies seemed to be on a bit of thin ice. The bats had gone cold, the bullpen was looking dubious, and an early-season division lead seemed to be vaporizing before their very eyes.

Leave it to the veterans, Roy Halladay and Jamie Moyer, to turn the tides back in Philly’s favor. Jamie picked up where Roy left off Thursday, permitting seven baserunners in six innings, allowing only two to cross as unearned runs as the Phillies defeated the Braves, 8-3. Moyer, who has looked steady and solid since the first inning of his last start against the Marlins, struck out four and suffered his only blemishes in the fifth inning as a result of some defensive miscues. The bullpen finished the night with three innings of one-run ball to seal the game and the series.

The Phils passed a tough test, overcoming the vaunted pitching staff of the Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta. Utley briefly brought unpleasant flashbacks of the 2009 NLCS with a pair of errors in the fifth, but the second base stalwart collected four hits in 11 at-bats this series, and faced a series-leading 73 pitches in his 14 plate appearances. Oh, and he made a pretty nifty play in the second game, lest we forget.

Philly starters have been excellent in the time following Moyer’s frustrating first inning against the Fish. In the starters’ last 36 innings – right after that poor opening inning from Moyer’s last start – they have permitted just two earned runs (four total) with 28 strikeouts against just 22 hits and five walks. Starting pitching has certainly provided a big lift.

In injury news, the Phillies placed J.A. Happ on the Disabled List with left forearm tightness, though with the way the schedule and rotation are set up, Happ may only miss one start. Nelson Figueroa is slated to take his place on the next turn through the rotation. Placido Polanco, who was hit by a pitch Wednesday, is expected to return to the lineup Friday after sitting out the series finale against Atlanta.

Friday kicks off a western road trip, beginning in Arizona, with Cole Hamels set to toe the rubber against former Lehigh Valley IronPig Kris Benson. Game time is 9:40 p.m. eastern.


Gameday: Phillies (9-5) at Braves (8-6)

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, April 22, 2010 06:25 PM Comments: 92

BravesPhiladelphia Phillies (9-5) at Atlanta Braves (8-6)

Jamie Moyer (1-1, 7.50) vs. Derek Lowe (3-0, 4.67)

Time: 7:10, Turner Field
Weather: Clear, 65
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Twitter: @philliesnation or below

It’s going to be hard for Jamie Moyer to put forth a performance like Roy Halladay gave last night.  Just don’t think it’s even possible.  But, lets hope Moyer brings his best start to the rubber match of this three-game series after struggling in his last outing.

Moyer gave up five-1st inning runs against the Marlins on Saturday, yet lasted six innings while striking out seven and allowing only those five to score.  The Phillies lost the game, and it was an ugly opening frame, however, it was good to see him lock it down for the remainder of his outing.  Let’s hope he can carry that into tonight’s matchup with the Braves, a team that was shutout last night by Halladay.  The offense will be licking its chops against the 47-year old lefty.

Derek Lowe gets the call for ATL.  In three starts last year, he gave up just three runs against the Phils in over 19 innings of work and over his last nine starts against this team, he is 6-0 with a 2.17 ERA.  That is complete mastery of a team that has one of the best offenses in baseball over that period.  The sinkerballer has stifled a club that has been struggling the past week with their bats.

Ryan Howard (4-for-25) and Shane Victorino (2-for-14) are owned by Lowe in their careers, something they’ll hope changes tonight. Also, Placido Polanco will not play due to that elbow which was hit by a pitch last night.  He should be back in the lineup tomorrow; Greg Dobbs will take his spot at third.

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

Your gameday beer: Pyramid Amber Weizen Ale

An amber ale with a lot of the characteristics you would find in an unfiltered wheat beer, such as Hoegaarden or Blue Moon.  It’s maltier than a hefeweizen, not fruity, and has a smooth, caramel taste. Just the look of it is enticing, and it’s probably hard to find in these parts since it’s a microbrew out of Seattle, however, if you can find it, it’ll be worth your while.
Pat Gallen

Go Phillies!


Doc Halladay: By the Numbers

Posted by Pat Gallen, Thu, April 22, 2010 11:05 AM Comments: 44

It’s still very early in the season and Roy Halladay has just four starts under his belt, but it’s hard not to pick up on some of the incredibly dominating stats he’s putting up.  Let’s take a look at some of those crazy-good numbers:

  • 2 complete games: Only 11 other pitchers have one and they include C.J Wilson, David Huff, and Mitch Talbot.
  • His 33 innings and 28 strikeouts in 4 starts leads the majors.
  • His BABIP (Batting Average/Balls in Play) is actually at .282, well above some of the other top pitchers in baseball such as Tim Lincecum (.250), Adam Wainwright (.194) and C.C. Sabathia (.204).  His peripherals would be even better with a BABIP closer to those hurlers.
  • His 9.33 k/BB ratio is by far the best in baseball.  He’s issued 3 free passes, which would put him on pace for roughly 26 in a 34 start season.
  • He has gone to a 2-0, 3-0, or 3-1 count just 5 times in four starts.  In those AB’s, he’s given up no hits.
  • Hitters have managed just an .087 average with RISP.  The guy hunkers down when he needs to.
  • Halladay is on pace to throw 382 innings.  Reachable?  You never know with this guy.
  • Doc is barely breaking a sweat. His pitches thrown per outing: 88, 111, 100, 113 – an average of 103 per game.
  • Strikes? He throws a lot of those too.  Try 69 percent of his pitches thrown.

Halladay’s Masterpiece Breaks Phils 3-Game Losing Streak

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, April 21, 2010 11:09 PM Comments: 60

We’re running out of adjectives to describe what Roy Halladay is bringing to the mound every fifth day.  There’s no sense in showering him with the normal “amazing” and “ridiculous” and “awesome”, because we all now know exactly what he is.  He is, in every sense of the word, a game-changer.

Tonight’s 2-0 victory quelled moans set in motion by the flailing bullpen.  It also broke a three-game losing streak, although the starting pitching the last few games has been fantastic.  In Tuesday’s loss, Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras were scorched in the late-innings, but when Roy Halladay steps on the mound, there’s a good chance he’ll be the closer that night.  And for the second time in four starts, he was.

Doc got all the offense he needed in the 2nd inning when Raul Ibanez hit a ground-rule double to score Jayson Werth, who had doubled to begin the inning.  Another tally would be added in the sixth, courtesy of Werth’s second double of the night.  Two runs is plenty when you have a horse on the mound.

Defensively, the Phillies were on their A-game in Atlanta tonight, backing their ace. In the sixth inning, Chase Utley made yet another Utley-esque diving stab with the bases loaded and one out to save the inning, the shutout, the bullpen, and countless people in Philadelphia (and elsewhere) from freaking out. The play was that amazing.  Ryan Howard made a few outstanding plays as well, even doing a split at first base to save a base runner from reaching.  Perhaps the best of all was Shane Victorino’s home-run-stealing leap in centerfield, robbing a round-tripper off the bat of Troy Glaus.

Lost in all the Halladay Hoopla was that Placido Polanco took a pitch off his elbow and left the game in the 6th inning.  Early reports are that he should be fine, it’s just bruised and sore.  We’ll update his injury in the morning. Victorino also struggled at the plate once again, going 0-for-5, dropping his average to .210. Other than that, not much to complain about on a wonderful Halladay evening.


Gameday: Phillies (8-5) at Braves (8-5)

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, April 21, 2010 06:19 PM Comments: 134

BravesPhiladelphia Phillies (8-5) at Atlanta Braves (8-5)

Roy Halladay (3-0 1.13) vs. Tim Hudson (1-0, 2.84)

Time: 7:10, Turner Field
Weather: Clear, 65
TV: Comcast SportsNet/ESPN
Twitter: @philliesnation or below

Forget about last night.  Think of it as a hiccup – it’s in the past.  Tonight, there will be a duel on the mound as Roy Halladay goes up against one of the best in the NL in Tim Hudson.

The Doc has been splendid.  He’s 3-0 to start the year, already has a complete game under his belt, has only walked two batters this year, and has a WHIP of 0.96.  It’s just ridiculous how good he is.  Not really much more you can say other than that.  I could throw stats and stuff at you, but we all know what he brings to the table every night.

Tim Hudson has been pretty damn good to start the season as well. With a 1-0 record, 2.84 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, he’s been the Hudson of old that once won 20 games with Oakland.  The 34-year old is going for win no. 150 for his career tonight.  His career numbers are eerily similar to our ace Roy Halladay.  Hudson is 149-78 lifetime with a 3.48 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.  Halladay is 151-76 lifetime with a 3.40 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.  But I’m guessing you’d rather have Doc, right?

Ryan Howard absolutely owns Hudson, which is good news since the offense has been stagnant.  Ryno is hitting .353 with five homers and 10 RBI against the Braves righty.

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

Your gameday beer: Woodchuck Cider

I’m not a fan of the “hard” lemonades and fruity Lambics, but Woodchuck is surprisingly smooth and easy to drink.  I had a few last night (I wouldn’t suggest more than that) and they are tasty enough to keep drinking, but also potent enough to put you to sleep after an ugly loss.  Have it with some pork medallions and apple sauce, throw some baked beans on the stove, and you’ve got yourself a nice Phils game.
Pat Gallen

Go Phillies!


A New and Improved Kyle Kendrick

Posted by Pat Gallen, Wed, April 21, 2010 03:12 PM Comments: 18

Last night, Kyle Kendrick was on.  Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras, not so much, but Kyle Kendrick definitely found a nice groove for eight innings.  Unfortunately, he didn’t leave with a win, but it was a moral victory for him (I know, moral victories still kinda suck).
Picture 1

From what I saw last night, Kendrick was able to keep the ball down and mixed his pitches effectively throughout the night.  After his last outing, a 1 2/3 inning debacle, KK started off strong by facing the minimum through three frames. In those first few innings, he was able to induce a double play off the bat of Chipper Jones, two strikeouts, and a total of six ground outs.  Keeping the ball on the ground is exactly what a sinkerball pitcher needs to be continually in control.  As we witnessed in his first two outings against Washington, Kendrick had a tough time with his pitches up in the zone.

On April 14th – you remember, the one that was 7-6 Phillies Picture 2after two innings – his location was inexcusable. Perhaps Kendrick was squeezed a bit by the umpire in that short start, however, good pitchers find their way around that.  In the first inning, he left a pitch middle-in to Adam Kennedy (top-right photo), who roped it into the right center field gap. In the second, after a Christian Guzman RBI single, Josh Willingham (middle) added two-more on a ground-rule double to left. The pitch he saw was DIRECTLY down the middle of the dish, and the Hammer smoked it.  Add all of that to his three walks and an awful ball/strike ratio (54 pitches, only 23 strikes) and it’s easy to see why Kyle Kendrick couldn’t get to the third inning.

Bring it back to last night in Atlanta where those problems all seemed to vanish. Of his 108 pitches, 61 were strikes.  That isn’t an overly-impressive ratio, however, it’s sure beats a 42 percent strike-throwing figure. It all goes back to keeping the ball in the bottom half of the strike zone, which caused the Braves to swing on top of the ball (Matt Diaz, bottom-right) for most of the night. His only speed bump was a rocky 4th inning in which a Chipper Jones double made it second and third with one out.  Troy Glaus subsequently Picture 3grounded into an easy double play, which acted as a needle filled with confidence.

Following the averted disaster in the fourth, Kendrick allowed only two more base runners the rest of the evening.  What happened next was out of his control.

According to Paul Boye, our resident numbers-cruncher,  Kendrick tossed 70 fastballs (65% of his pitches, 66% were strikes), whether they be a two-seamer, four-seamer or a sinker.  He also mixed in a change up (18 times) and slider (23) brilliantly. This balance left Braves hitters off-kilter for eight strong.  On the positive side of a downright ugly loss, KK was superb, which hopefully can snowball into a heap of poise and self-assurance.

All pitch fx info from Brooks Baseball.


You Want Ryan Howard to do WHAT?

Posted by Michael Baumann, Wed, April 21, 2010 09:00 AM Comments: 70

Before we start, I have to say that after spending last night’s gameday post bashing Kendrick…the phrase “egg on my face” comes to mind. I apologize, and only hope that KK continues to pitch like he did last night. But moving on.

There’s a scene in Little Big League (my third-favorite baseball movie of all time), where Billy Heywood, the 12-year-old soon-to-be manager of the Twins, proves his strategic prowess to the Twins brass by playing out a scenario. He suggests that Lou Collins, the team’s star first baseman, swing away in a late-inning situation with runners on. The pitching coach disagrees, suggesting that Lou bunt to move the runners over. I don’t remember the exact scenario, and I can’t find the exact quote, but Billy responds by saying that Lou bunting would set in motion a chain of events that would take the bat out of the hands of the entire heart of the Twins’ lineup.

That said, I think it would be a good idea to teach Ryan Howard to drag bunt.

Here’s the problem. In 2006, his MVP year, Ryan Howard hit .313, with an absurd .356 BABIP. This makes sense, because when Howard hits a ball in play, it’s usually a warning track fly ball or a guided missile somewhere in between the first and second basemen that falls for a hit. In order to combat this, teams started pulling the Ted Williams Shift on him, moving the third baseman to shortstop, the shortstop to second base, and the second baseman to short right field. Within 2 years, Howard’s BABIP dropped to .285 and his average fell to .251 with roughly the same strikeout ratio.

How do we combat this? Well, Howard can continue banging his head against the wall and hammering screaming liners into the right side of the infield for easy outs, or we can get proactive about it. This is where drag bunts come in.

Continue reading You Want Ryan Howard to do WHAT?

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