As the Phils’ 2013 season wounded down, with the club wounding up in fourth place in the five-team NL East with a 73-89, .451 record, 23 games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves, the Phils first post-season move was to make interim manager, Hall of Famer Ryan Sandberg, the team’s 52nd manager, by signing him to a three-year contract on September 22, 2013. The Phils’ next move was to announce on September 30 that Rich Dubee was not returning as the team’s pitching coach, ending a nine season relationship with the Phils, as the team started to look for a new pitching coach. On that same day, they announced that they were promoting from the team’s Minor League system, Paul Fournier, as the team’s new strength and conditioning coach, replacing Doug Lien, who had held that position for the previous six seasons, as the club hopes to improve the team’s overall health.
The Phils next move was to make a shake-up in their 40 men roster as they outrighted infielders Michael Martinez and Pete Orr, right-handed pitcher Zach Miner and lefthander Mauricio Robles on October 3, while, on that same day, the Indians picked up right-hander Tyler Cloyd off of the waiver-wire, while the Astros picked up leftie Raul Valdes, opening up six spots on the roster.
Two days later, on October 5, the Phils announced that they would not be renewing the contract of bullpen catcher, Mick Billmeyer, who had been with the club since 2004, first as the catching instructor, then as the bullpen coach in 2009, before becoming the bullpen catcher in 2012. The next Phils move came from out of the blue as, on October 8, former Phils’ player and one time Phils’ manager, and fan favorite, Larry Bowa, rejoined the team as the new bench coach, while another ex-Phil, Pete Mackanin, would join the team as the new third base coach. The Phils also announced that Steve Henderson would remain as the team’s hitting coach while Wally Joyner would leave as the team’s assistant hitting coach, later being hired by the Detroit Tigers as their new hitting coach, while John Mizerock would later become the new assistant hitting coach and Jesus Tiamo would become the new catcher coach, as Juan Samuel would stay on as the team’s first base coach, while Rod Nichols would remain the bullpen coach.
The next move occurred on October 17 as John Lannan decided to become a free agent after he had been outrighted by the club, after refusing assignment.
Then on November 5, the Phils announced that they were hiring Scott Freedman to help the ballclub better understand the use of analytics in the evaluation of players. Seven days later, on November 12, the Phils announced their first free agent signing, as they signed right fielder Marlon Byrd to a two-year contract worth $16 million dollars. Byrd, who is a right-handed batter, and an ex-Phil, has played in the majors from 2002, having played for the Phils (2002-05), the Nats (2005-06), the Rangers (2007-09), the Cubs (2010-12), the Red Sox (2012), the Mets (2013) and the Pirates (2013), appearing in 1250 games, hitting .280 (1222 for 4367), knocking in 533 RBIs as he scored 600 times. Among his 1222 hits were 252 doubles, 32 triples and 106 HRs, while he has also walked 307 times. The Phils plan to use him in the line-up behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, the later of whom the team hopes will bounce back from several injuries plagued seasons and regain his form as the team’s RBI and home runs leader. The Phils next announced on November 15 that they have given four players minor league contracts with invites to spring training: right-hander Shawn Camp, left-hander Cesar Jimenez and outfielders Clete Thomas and Leandro Castro.
The Phils then announced on November 18 that they have resigned present catcher Carlos Ruiz to a three-year deal worth $26 million dollars with a team option of $4.5 million or a $500,000 buyout for 2017. The next day, the team announced that they have signed a minor league contract, with a spring training invitation, to infielder Reid Brignac, who would be competing for a utility infielder position with Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis. On November 20, the Phils announced that they were adding four minor league prospects to their 40-man roster to keep them from being picked up by other teams in December’s 5-Rule draft: outfielders Aaron Altherr and Kelly Dugan, catcher Tommy Joseph and left-hander Rob Rasmussen.
The following day, November 22, the Phils signed Bob McClure as their new pitching coach, replacing Dubee. On that same day, they announced that they have signed infielder Andres Blanco to a minor league contract, with an invite to spring training.
On December 4, the Phils made a trade with the Blue Jays, receiving right-handed pitcher Brad Lincoln in exchange for catcher Erik Kratz and minor league pitcher Rasmussen. Lincoln, who has pitched for the Pirates and the Blue Jays (2010-13) has appeared in 97 games, 22 of which was as a starter, for a record of 9-11 with a 4.66 ERA. With one career save in two attempts, he has pitched in 220 games, giving up 228 hits, 123 runs, 114 of which were earned, as he struck out 167 batters while walking only 77. The Phils will likely use him in the bullpen. After the trade, the ballclub would sign catcher Wil Nieves to a one-year deal on December 5, as the team’s back-up catcher. Nieves, who has played for the Padres (2002), the Yankees (2005-2007), the Nats (2008-10), the Brewers (2011), the Diamondbacks (2012), the Rockies (2012-13) and the Diamondbacks again (2013), has appeared in 385 games, hitting .242 (249 for 1029), with 46 doubles, 2 triples and 8 home runs, as he knocked in 103 RBIs while scoring 78 times. He has also walked 59 times. On that same day, the Phils signed right-handed pitcher Jeff Manship to a minor league contract with a spring training invitation.
Then, on December 9, Roy Halladay announced his retirement from baseball, ending a 16-year career with the Blue Jays and the Phils, as he didn’t think he would be able to pitch after his most recent arm injury. Halladay, who said that he had signed a one-day contract with the Blue Jays to end his career as a Jay, and had paid a full page ad in the Philly newspaper thanking the Phils fans for their support during his time as a Phils (2010-13), had appeared in 416 career games, 390 as a starter, with a career record of 203-105, with a 3.38 ERA and a career save, had completed 67 games, 20 for shutouts, as he pitched in 2749.1 total innings, striking out 2117 batters as he walked only 592, as he gave up 2646 hits and 1135 runs, only 1034 of which were earned. He also threw a perfect game and a no-hitter in the post-season, both of which occurred during his first season as a Phil (2010). Thanks for being a member of the Phils, Roy, and being a class act, and wish you luck getting into the Hall.
On December 12, through the Rule 5-draft, the Phils would acquire right-hander Kevin Munson from the Diamondbacks’ Reno club, while they would lose right-hander Seth Rosin to the Mets, who would then trade him to the Dodgers for cash in the major league portion of the draft, and shortstop Jonathan Roof to the Red Sox in the Triple-A part of it, both from their Reading affiliate.
Next, on December 18, the Phils signed a one-year deal with right-hander Roberto Hernandez for $4.5 million dollars, plus performance and award bonuses. Hernandez, who has previous pitched for the Indians (2006-12) and the Blue Jays (2013), has appeared in 216 games, 177 as a starter, with a 59-82 record, with a 4.67 ERA. He will be part of the Phils’ starting rotation, along with Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick and Jonathan Pettibone.
In January, the Phils made a new TV-deal with Comcast for 25-year, which included broadcasters Chris Wheeler and Gary Matthews not returning to the broadcast booth. On the 14, the Phils had four players file for salary arbitration: outfielders Ben Revere and John Mayberry, Jr. and pitchers Antonio Bastardo and Kendrick. The next day, January 15, the Phils announce that former manger Charlie Manuel would be returning to the team as a consultant to general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. On the 17, the Phils announced that two of the four arbitration eligible players have signed one-year deals: Mayberry, who had agreed to a 1.587 million dollar deal, while Kendrick had agreed to one worth 7.675 million. The Phils then signed two minor league deals on the 21, one to veteran right-hander Chad Gaudin, and one to former Phil and veteran outfielder Bobby Abreu, with both being given spring training invites. On that same day, the Phils and Bastardo agreed to a one-year contract worth $2 million dollars. Three days later, on the 24, Ben Revere signed a one-year deal with the Phils for $ 1.95 million dollar.
With that, the last bit of news is that the Phils might be replacing Wheeler and Matthews with former Phils Matt Stairs and Jamie Moyer, both of whom have impressed the Phils in their separate interviews to join the broadcast team, and that finally, yesterday, the equipment truck has started heading south for the spring training facilities in Clearwater, Florida from Citizens Bank Park in Philly. It is now six more days before catchers and pitchers are suppose to appear in Clearwater.
Can’t wait for Spring Training to officially start. 🙂
Behind the complete game pitching of Cole Hamels, the Phils give their manager Charlie Manuel his 1000th career win as a manager, as they also end their road losing streak, as they defeat the Braves, 5-1.
The Phils took the lead in the top of the third as, with a runner on third, and with one man out, Jimmy Rollins hits an RBI single, scoring Cole Hamels, who had just tripled, giving the Phils a 1-0 lead. The Phils added to their lead in the top of the sixth as, with two men on, and with one man out, Cody Asche hits a three-run home run, his second home run of the season, knocking in Chase Utley, who had started the inning off with a single, then moved up to second base when Darin Ruf was hit by a pitch, and Ruf, who was just hit by a pitch, giving the Phils a 4-0 lead. The Phils made it a 5-0 lead in the top of the ninth as, with a runner on second, and with one man out, Carlos Ruiz hits an RBI single, scoring Asche, who had earlier singled, then stole second base, his first career steal. The Braves got on the scoreboard in their half of the ninth as, with a runner on second, and with two men out, Chris Johnson hits a ground-rule double, knocking in Justin Upton, who had started the inning off with a double, making it a 5-1 Phils’ lead. That would end up being the final score as Dan Uggla grounds out softly, 5-3, for the game’s final out.
Cole Hamels (5-13, 3.65) got the win as he threw a complete game, giving up just one run on six scattered hits and a walk, while striking out nine. Julio Teheran (9-6, 3.08) took the lost as he pitched six innings, giving up four runs on six hits, a walk and a hit batter, while striking out six. Luis Ayala and Scott Downs combined for two scoreless innings, giving up a walk (Ayala) between them, while striking out a batter (Downs). Anthony Varvaro pitched an inning, giving up a run on two hits, while striking out a batter.
The Phils had eight hits in the game, with Jimmy Rollins (Single, Double, RBI), Chase Utley (Singles) and Cody Asche (Single, Home Run, 3 RBIs), all leading the team with three hits each. Carlos Ruiz (Single, RBI) and Cole Hamels (Triple) had the other two Phils’ hits. The Phils also had two walks (Dom Brown, Hamels), a hit batter (Darin Ruf), a stolen base (Asche (1)) and a sacrifice bunt (Hamels) in the game.
The Phils (53-65, 4th) continue their series with the Braves (72-47, 1st) with a night game tonight. The game is to start at 7:10 pm EDT and is to be played at Turner Field. The Phils will sent to the mound Ethan Martin (1-1, 6.75) who is coming off his first career win against the Cubs on August 8, as he threw five innings, giving up a run on four hits and a walk, while striking out four, in the Phils’ 12-1 rout. He will be going for his second straight victory. The Braves will counter with Kris Medlen (9-10, 3.85) who is coming off a victory against the Nationals on August 7, as he went seven innings, giving up three runs on three hits and a walk, while he struck out six, in the Braves’ 6-3 win. He will be going for his tenth straight win. The Phils will be going for both the series win, and their second straight win on the road.
The Brewers tried to score first in the top of the first as, with one man out, Carlos Gomez reaches base with a double. But Phils’ starter Cliff Lee is able to pitch himself out of trouble by first getting Ryan Braun to ground out, 5-3, on a ball that third baseman Freddy Galvis made a spectacular play on, for the inning’s second out, and then by getting Jonathan Lucroy to also ground out, 6-3, on a ball that was grabbed by shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who then threw Lucroy out to end the inning. The Phils then took the lead in their half of the first as, with two men on, and with two men out, a red-hot Dom Brown hits a three-run home run, his NL leading sixteenth home run of the season, knocking in Rollins, who had earlier doubled, and Ryan Howard, who had just walked, giving the Phils a 3-0 lead. Two batters later, the Phils took a 4-0 lead as, with a man on second, and with still two men on, Erik Kratz hits an RBI double, knocking in John Mayberry, Jr., who had earlier singled, and was running on the pitch. The Phils then added to their lead as Galvis followed with an RBI triple, as the team hit for the cycle in the inning, scoring Kratz, giving the Phils a 5-0 lead. The Phils increased their lead in the bottom of the second as, with runners on the corners, and with one man out, Howard hits a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Ben Revere, who had started the inning off by reaching first base on shortstop Jeff Bianchi’s throwing error, stole second base, then stopped at third on Rollins’ single, giving the Phils a 6-0 lead, while sending Rollins, who had just singled, up to second base. The Phils then made it a 7-0 lead as Brown hits an RBI triple, his fourth RBI in the game, scoring Rollins. That would stay the score up to the top of the eighth, as Lee would stay out of trouble, only giving up three hits up to that point, while striking out eleven. The Brewers would finally get on the scoreboard in the top of the eighth as, with runners on the corners, and with two men out, Norichika Aoki hits an RBI single, knocking in Rickie Weeks, who had started the inning off with a single, went to second base on Bianchi’s single, then moved up to third base on Logan Schafer’s double play, 4-6-3, making it a 7-1 Phils’ lead. After Gomez had reached base with a single, moving Aoki up to second base, Phils’ manager Charlie Manuel came out and took Lee off the mound and replaced him with reliever Justin De Fratus. After pinch-hitter Aramis Ramirez walked to load the bases, with Aoki and Gomez both moving up a base, Lucroy followed with what appeared to have been a grand-slam home run, scoring Aoki, Gomez and Ramirez, making it look like a 7-5 Phils’ lead. But, Manuel came out of the dug out to dispute the call, saying that it had hit off the top of the left field fence, and came back into play, thus not being a home run. The umpires reviewed the play and came back saying that it was indeed not a grand-slam home run, but instead saying that it was a bases clearing triple, putting Lucroy on third, and instead making it a 7-4 Phils’ lead. The Phils then got out of the inning as Yuniesky Betancourt lined out to center for the inning’s final out. The Brewers then cut the Phils’ lead down to 7-5 in the top of the ninth as, with two men on, and with nobody out, Bianchi hits an RBI single, knocking in Alex Gonzalez, who had started the inning off with a single, then moved up to second base on Weeks’ walk, while sending Weeks, who had just walked, up to second base. Antonio Bastardo then buckled down to record his first save of the season by getting pinch-hitter Jeff Segura to ground out, 3-unassisted, for the inning’s first out, as Weeks and Gonzalez both moved up a base, then getting Aoki to fly out to shallow left field for the inning’s second out, and after intentionally walking Gomez to load up the bases, got pinch-hitter Martin Maldonaldo to end the game by flying out to center field.
Cliff Lee (7-2, 2.45) got the win as he pitched seven and two-thirds innings, giving up three runs on seven hits, while striking out eleven. Justin De Fratus pitched a third of an inning as he gave up a run on a hit and a walk. Antonio Bastardo collected his first save of the season as he threw an inning, giving up a run on two hits and a walk. Mike Fiers (1-4, 7.25) took the lost as he lasted only one and two-thirds innings, giving up seven runs, only five of which were earned, on seven hits and a walk, while striking out only one. Alfredo Figaro pitched three and a third scoreless innings, giving up two hits, while striking out two. Tom Gorzelanny and Burke Bedanhop combined for three scoreless innings, giving up just two walks (Gorzelanny), while striking out two (one batter each).
The Phils had nine hits in the game, with Dom Brown (4 RBIs) leading the team with three hits, a single, a triple and a home run, being a double short of hitting for the cycle. Jimmy Rollins (Single, Double) and Freddy Galvis (Single, Triple, RBI) followed with two hits each. John Mayberry, Jr, (Single) and Erik Kratz (Double, RBI) had the other two Phils’ hits. Ryan Howard knocked in the final Phils’ run with a sacrifice fly. The Phils also had three walks (Rollins, Howard, Brown) and a stolen base (Ben Revere (11)) in the game.
The Phils (27-30, 3rd) start a three-game series with the Marlins (16-41, 5th), with a game tonight. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park and is to start at 7:05 pm. The Phils will start Kyle Kendrick (5-3, 3.27), who is coming off a win against the Red Sox on May 29, as he went six innings, giving up two runs on four hits and three walks, while he struck out three, in the Phils’ 4-3 win. He will be trying to give the Phils the lead in the series. The Marlins will counter with Tom Koehler (0-3, 3.22), who is coming off a lost against the Rays on May 29, as he threw eight innings, giving up three runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out four, in the Marlins’ 3-1 lost. He is still looking for his first win, while trying to continue the Marlins’ present winning streak. The Phils hopes to finally figure out Koehler, while increasing their present winning streak.
The Phils took the lead in the second as, with one man on, and with two men out, the presently hot John Mayberry, Jr. hits a two-run home run, his first home run of the year, knocking in Carlos Ruiz, who had earlier singled, giving the Phils a 2-0 lead. The Padres cut down the Phils’ lead to 2-1 in the fourth as, with two men on, and with one man out, Yonder Alonso hits an RBI single, knocking in Will Venable, who had started the inning off with a single, then moved up to second base on Chase Headley’s walk, while sending Headley, who had just walked, up to second base. The Padres then tied the game up at two-all as Jesus Guzman hits an RBI single, scoring Headley, while sending Alonso up to second base. The Phils retook the lead in their half of the fourth as, with a man on first, and with nobody out, a still hot Ruiz hits a two-run home run of his own, his sixth home run of the season, knocking in Ty Wigginton, who had started the inning off with a walk, giving the Phils a 4-2 lead. The Padres would get a run back in the sixth as, with one man out, Alonso hits a solo home run, his first home run of the season, making it a 4-3 Phils’ lead. The Phils would get the run back in their half of the sixth as, with one man on, and with one man out, Freddy Galvis hits an RBI double, knocking in Mayberry, who had earlier reached first base on a 5-4 force out, wiping out at second base Ruiz, who had begun the inning off with a walk, giving the Phils a 5-3 lead. The Phils increased their lead in the seventh as, with runners on the corners, and with two men out, Ruiz hits an RBI single, knocking in Hunter Pence, who had earlier walked, then went all the way to third on Miles Mikolas’ wild pitch, as he walked Wigginton, giving the Phils a 6-3 lead, while sending Wigginton, who had walked for the second time in the ballgame, up to second base. The Phils then made it a 7-3 lead as Mayberry hits an RBI single, scoring Wigginton, before Ruiz, who was trying to move on to third base, is thrown out, 7-5-4, for the inning’s third out. That would end up being the final score as Chad Qualls threw a scoreless ninth, getting Orlando Hudson to end the game with a fly out to center for the final out.
Vance Worley (3-2, 3.07) got the win as he threw six innings, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks, while he struck out nine. Antonio Bastardo collected his fifth hold of the season as he threw two scoreless innings, giving up a walk, while striking out three. Chad Qualls threw a scoreless inning, giving up a hit, while striking out two. Clayton Richard (1-5, 5.32) took the lost as he went five and a third innings, giving up five runs on eight hits and two walks, while striking out a batter. Brad Brach pitched two-thirds of an inning, striking out both men whom he would face. Miles Mikolas pitched an inning, giving up two runs on two hits, two walks, and a wild pitch. Josh Spench pitched a 1-2-3 inning.
The Phils had ten hits in the game, with Carlos Ruiz (2 Singles, Home Run, 3 RBIs) leading the team with three hits each, followed by Placido Polanco (Single, Double) and John Mayberry, Jr. (Single, Home Run, 3 RBIs) both following with two hits each. Jimmy Rollins (Single), Shane Victorino (Single) and Freddy Galvis (Double, RBI) had the other three hits. The Phils also had four walks in the game, as they try to react positively to the chewing out given them by both Charlie Manuel and Ruben Amaro, Jr.
The Phils (15-18, 5th East) continue their weekend series with the Padres (11-22, 5th West) with a night game tonight. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park and will begin at 7:05 pm EDT. The Phils will send to the mound their ace Roy Halladay (3-2, 3.28) who is coming off a no-decision against the Mets on May 7, as he threw seven strong innings, giving up just two runs on six hits and a walk, while striking out seven, in the Phils’ 5-2 lost. He will be trying, for the fourth time this season, to get his fourth win of the year, while trying to give the Phils a two-game winning streak, after getting swept by the Mets. The Padres will counter with Edinson Volquez (1-2, 2.98), who is coming off a win against the Rockies on May 7, as he went five and one-third innings, giving up two runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out five, in the Padres’ 3-2 win. He will be trying to help the Padres tie up the series at a game apiece. The Phils will be out to build on last night’s win.
The Phils took the lead in the second as, with two men on, and with two men out, Cliff Lee hits an RBI infield single, scoring Brian Schneider, who had earlier singled, then stopped at third base on Freddy Galvis’ single, giving the Phils a 1-0 lead, while sending Glavis, who had just singled, up to second base. The Mets tied the game up at one-all in the third as, with two men on, and with two men out, Daniel Murphy hits an RBI double, knocking in Dillon Gee, who had been safe on first on a 1-3 force out as Ron Johnson, who had earlier singled, is wiped out at second base for the inning’s second out, before moving up to second base on Andres Torres’ walk, while sending Torres, who had just walked, up to third base. The Phils retook the lead in the fourth as, with runners on second and third, and with one man out, Galvis hits an RBI ground out, 4-3, scoring Placido Polanco, who had started the inning off with a single, moved up to second base on John Mayberry Jr.’s singled, then went to third on Brian Schneider’s ground out, 3-unassissited, giving the Phils’ a 2-1 lead, while sending Mayberry, who had earlier singled, then moved up to second base on Schneider’s ground out, up to third base. The Mets retied the game at two-all in the sixth as, with a runner on third, and with one man out, David Wright hits an RBI single, knocking in Torres, who had started the inning off with a triple. The Phils retook the lead in their half of the sixth as, with one man on, and with two men out, Galvis hits an RBI double, knocking in Schneider, who had just singled, giving the Phils a 3-2 lead. The Phils then made it a 4-2 lead as pinch hitter Laynce Nix hits an RBI single, scoring Galvis. The nightmare than started in the seventh as the Mets cut the Phils’ lead down to 4-3 as, with a runner on first, and with nobody out, Justin Turner hits an RBI double, knocking in pinch hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who had started the inning off with a walk. Two batters later, with the bases loaded, via a double by Ike Davis, sending Turner to third, as he waited to be sure whether center fielder Shane Victorino would be able to catch Davis’ fly ball or not, and a walk to Johnson, and with still no one out, Lucas Duda forces in a run as he is hit by the pitch, scoring Turner, tying the game up at 4-all, while moving up a base both Davis and Johnson, leaving the bases loaded. The Mets then took a 5-4 lead as Torres hits into a 4-6 force out, wiping out Duda at second base for the inning’s first out, as Davis scores, while moving Johnson up to third base. The Mets then increased their lead in the eighth as, with a man on second, and with nobody out, Scott Hairston hits an RBI double, knocking in Wright, who had started the inning off with a double, giving the Mets a 6-4 lead. The Mets then made it a 9-4 lead as, now with two men on, as Justin Turner reached first base on right fielder Hunter Pence’s fielding error as he took his eye off the ball at the last moment, while Hairston stayed at second base, and with one man out, Davis hits a three-run home run, his fourth home run of the year, scoring both Hairston and Turner. The Phils would get a run back in their half of the eighth as, with one man on, and with two men out, Galvis hits an RBI triple, his first career triple, knocking in Polanco, who had earlier singled, then moved up to second base on Schneider’s ground out, 4-3, making it a 9-5 Mets’ lead. The Mets would get that run back in the ninth as Torres hits a lead-off home run, his first home run of the season, giving the Mets a 10-5 lead. The Phils would get that run back in their half of the ninth as, with a runner on second, and with two men out, Pence hits an RBI triple, scoring Jimmy Rollins, who had started the inning off with a single, then moved up to second base on pitcher D.J. Carrasco’s wild pitch as Juan Pierre strikes out, swinging, for the inning’s first out, making it a 10-6 Mets’ lead. That would end up being the final score as Carrasco got Polanco to end the game with a ground out, 6-3, for the final out.
Cliff Lee received a no-decision as he pitched six innings, giving up two runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out six. Kyle Kendrick received his first blown save of the season, before taking the lost (0-3, 7.32), as he went an inning plus two batters, giving up five runs on four hits, two walks and a hit batter. Jose Contreras pitched an inning, giving up two runs on a hit, as he struck out one. Brian Sanches pitched an inning, giving up a run on two hits, as he struck out a batter. Dillon Gee also received a no-decision as he went five and two-thirds innings, giving up four runs on ten hits, while he struck out four. Tim Brydak (2-0, 3.72) got the win as he pitched a third of an inning, getting out the only batter that he would face. Manny Acosta received his first hold of the season as he pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit, while striking out a batter. Jon Rauch pitched an inning, giving up a run on two hits, while striking out a batter. D.J. Carrasco pitched an inning, giving up a run on two hits and a wild pitch, as he struck out a batter.
The Phils had fifteen hits in the game, with Freddy Galvis leading the team with three hits, a single, double, and triple, as he knocked in three runs. Jimmy Rollins, Juan Pierre, Placido Polanco and Brian Schneider all followed with two hits each, all singles. Hunter Pence (Triple, RBI), John Mayberry, Jr. (Single), Cliff Lee (Single, RBI) and pinch hitter Laynce Nix (Single, RBI), had the other four Phils’ hits, as the offense continue to grind out hits, but are once again let down by the bullpen.
The Phils (14-18, 5th) have the day off today, although they did have a team meeting after last night’s game where Charlie gave the players a piece of his mind over how they have been playing lately.
As the Phils get ready for their first spring training game, tomorrow, against Florida State, they have made several announcements after the arrival of all of their players to camp:
1) Charlie Manuel announced that the team was going to do some more small ball this season, which was quickly emphasised by him talking to the team’s lead-off man, and one of the leaders of the team, Jimmy Rollins last Thursday. This was followed by announcements that he was going to allow possible Hall of Famer Jim Thome to help some of the hitters improve on their hitting approach, and that he was going to have them bunt more (for base hits). Mike Schmidt, who is now in camp as a special coach, will also be helping the batters’ with their hitting approach, along with fellow Hall of Famer, and Iron Pigs coach Ryne Sandburg, while staying in camp a bit longer. While this is good news, since using small ball, as well as stealing more bases, should give the opposing defenses something to think about, I will not be convinced until the Phils leave Florida in late March with Juan Pierre as one of their players coming off the bench, since he would be a good option to use late in games because of both his speed and bat control.
2) Jose Contreras had another bullpen session, and is continuing to pitch fine with no elbow trouble, according to pitching coach Rich Dubee. This is good news, as it should give the team several good eighth innings options between him, Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls, if all three players make the team out of spring training.
3) And speaking of pitchers, starter Cliff Lee missed a bullpen session last week because of abdominal problems, and was told to skip the session. Lee said that he is feeling fine now and should be able to pitch in a bullpen session today. Hopefully, it was only a temporary problem.
4) Speaking of players’ health, Ryan Howard is right now in Baltimore, having a check-up with foot and ankle specialist Mark Myerson, to check on his achilles tendon, to make sure that there’s no problem with it, since it was mentioned during the weekend that Howard was having a delayed reaction to the sutures. GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. later announced that they doubt that it was a major problem. Anyway, it should help the Phils decide how they should continue their approach on Howard’s rehab, although they don’t really expect him back until about late May at the earliest. My opinion is that they should take as much time as they can to get Howard back healthy, as they already have a few options to play first base.
and 5), Chase Utley has announced that he should be able to come back from his leg troubles last year, while it is expected that he will be given the occasional rest, to help his legs, while Placido Polanco has announced that he is ready to go.
Yesterday, in Clearwater, Phils’ manager Charlie Manuel have told reporters that he plans to use John Mayberry, Jr. more often in left field than at first base. He also said that while the presumption is that he would probably be using a platoon in left field of Mayberry and Laynce Nix, with Nix to face right handers and Mayberry to face lefties, he plans to have Mayberry also face some right handers. That sounds like a good move, as it will give Mayberry a chance to see if he can hit right handed pitching or not.
This means that while Ryan Howard continues to recover from his injury (of which he had told reporters he felt that he was 40% ready), first base would be mainly covered by Nix and Ty Wigginton, with Jim Thome starting one or two games per week. Hopefully that’ll be enough before Howard’s return at some point in May.
Other news: Rich Dubee announced that Jose Contreras threw a bullpen session off of the mound on Tuesday, and appear to have shown no signs of trouble with his right elbow, doing very well. If this is the case, and he continues showing no sign of trouble after his surgery, he should be the front runner for the role of the team’s eighth inning specialist. Let keep our fingers cross on that.
This is what I am hoping that the Phils will do in 2012:
1) That Ryan Howard, when he returned from his injury, will learn not to swing at the pitcher’s junk, and to take a walk when it is being offered to him;
2) That Chase Utley will be able to make a comeback from last year’s injury, and will be willing to take a day off, when told to;
3) That Placido Polanco will be able to recover from his previous two seasons worth of injuries;
4) That the retooled bench will be able to contribute during the season;
5) That Uncle Chuck learns to love playing small ball;
6) That at least one of the team’s top three starters (Halladay, Lee, Hamels) will end up with 20 wins, and that the other two will end up with at least 15;
7) That Vance Worley will improve over last year’s performance;
8) That the Phils will be able to sign Cole Hamels to a multi-year contract;
and lastly, 9) That the Phils will get back into the World Series, and not be the stepping stone for another National League team during the playoffs.
…that all of their coaches will be back for the 2012 season. This means that pitching coach Rich Dubee, hitting coach Greg Gross, bench coach Pete Mackanin, bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer, first base coach Sam Perlozzo and third base coach Juan Samuel have all signed contracts for 2012. I will be the first to admit, that I have no problem with the stability of the coaching staff. The problem, sadly, is at the top. I hate to say it, but, in spite of GM Ruben Amaro saying that he want to see changes made in the way that the Phils’ offense operates, the only way that will happen is for the manager, Charlie Manuel, to start practicing some small ball, and I can not see him doing that. I just think that he is just too set in his ways, thinking that the long ball (home runs) will get the team wins. Well, that might work during the regular season, it have not seem to work during the playoffs of the last two years, especially with the way the team is presently structured. Of course, we won’t really know what will happen until we all see what the team does during spring training of 2012. Right now, unless somethinge really bad happens, they’re the favorite to win the East next season. I just hope that they’ll find a way to win it all between now and next October.
The Phils retake the lead in the divisional series as they ride Ben Francisco’s pinch hit three-run home run, before hanging on to defeat the Cards, 3-2.
The first six innings of the game featured a pitchers’ duel between Cards’ starter Jaime Garcia, who kept the Phils off-balance, while giving up only four hits and a walk, while striking out three, and Phils’ starter Cole Hamels, who would pitch himself out of trouble in the first, fourth and sixth innings, as he gave up just five hits and three walks, while striking out eight. The Phils then put pressure on Garcia in the seventh as Shane Victorino got on base with a single, before going to second base on a Yadier Molina passed ball, before Garcia got the next two batters out with a fly out to right (John Mayberry, Jr.) and a ground out (Placido Polanco), 5-3. After Carlos Ruiz is intentionally walked, the Phils sent Ben Francisco to pinch hit for Hamels. After getting a ball, Francisco drills one into the Phils’ bullpen in left, to give the Phils a 3-0 lead on his pinch hit home run, his first home run of the series, knocking in both Victorino and Ruiz. The Cards then started a comeback in their half of the seventh. After Vance Worley started the inning off by getting Rafael Furcal to ground out, 3-unassisted, for the inning’s first out, he walks Allen Craig, before giving up a single to Albert Pujols, which would send Craig up to second base. Lance Berkman then followed by hitting into a force out, 4-6, that would wipe out Pujols at second base for the inning’s second out, while Craig would reach third base, while Berkman would be safe at first, putting runners on the corners. The Cards then got on the board as David Freese hits an RBI single to center, knocking in Craig, cutting the Phils’ lead down to 3-1, while sending Berkman up to second base. Worley would finally end the inning by getting Molina to fly out to right. After the Phils are kept from scoring in the top of the eighth, the Cards attempted a rally in their half of the eighth as Ryan Theriot started the inning off with a single. Charlie Manuel then came out and replaced Worley with Antonio Bastardo, who then proceeded to get pinch hitter Nick Punto to fly out to center for the inning’s first out. Manuel then came back out and replaced Bastardo with Brad Lidge. That move seems to backfire as he gives up a single to pinch hitter Matt Holliday, moving Theriot up to second base, before he is replaced at first by pinch runner Adron Chambers. The next batter, Furcal, then loaded up the bases with a single to left, sending Theriot on to third base, while Chambers would stop at second base. Manuel then came back out, and took out Lidge, replacing him with his closer Ryan Madson. That move was rewarded with Craig hitting into a 4-3 doubleplay, as Furcal is wiped out at second base, to end the threat. After the Phils are unable to add an insurance run in the top of the ninth, Madson went back out to attempt a five-out save. He is greeted with a lead-off double by Pujols, which was his fourth hit of the ballgame, and his third double of the game. After Madson gets Berkman to fly out to center for the inning’s first out, he gets Freese to ground out, 4-3, for the inning’s second out, as Pujols moved up to third. Now, with a man on third, Madson tried to get out Molina to end the game. Molina, instead, hits the first pitch he saw into center field for an RBI single, knocking in Pujols, making it a 3-2 Phils’ lead. After Molina is replaced by pinch runner Kyle Lohse, Madson went after Theriot, who had already been on base with four hits, all singles. But, he wasn’t able to get hit no. five as Madson got him to ground out, 4-3, for the final out, collecting his first save of the series.
Cole Hamels (1-0, 0.00) gets the win as he pitched six scoreless innings, giving up five hits and three walks, while striking out eight. Vance Worley received his first hold of the series as he pitched an inning plus a batter, giving up a run on three hits. Antonio Bastardo received his first hold of the series as he pitched a third of an inning, getting out the only man that he would face. Brad Lidge pitched to two batters, giving up two hits. Ryan Madson collected his first save of the series as he pitched an inning and two-thirds, giving up a run on two hits, as he recorded a very rare five-out save. Jaime Garcia (0-1, 3.86) took the lost as he pitched seven innings, giving up three runs on six hits and two walks, while striking out three. Fernando Salas and Jason Motte combined for two scoreless innings, as they gave up a hit (Motte), while striking out a batter (Motte), between them.
The Phils had only seven hits in the ballgame, with Jimmy Rollins leading the team with two hits, a single and a double. Chase Utley (Single), Shane Victorino (Single), Placido Polanco (Single, his first hit of the series), Carlos Ruiz (single, his first hit of the series) and pinch hitter Ben Francisco (Home Run, his first hit of the series, 3 RBIs), had the other five Phils’ hits, with Francisco becoming the surprising hero of the game with his pinch hit shot to left.
The Phils, now with a 2-1 game lead in the divisional series, will continue the series with the Cards (2-1) in St. Louis. The game will be played in Busch Stadium (III) and will begin at 6:07 pm EDT (5:07 pm CDT). The Phils will send to the mound Roy Oswalt (9-10, 3.69), who will be trying to pitch the Phils into the NL Championship Series for the fourth straight year. The Cards will attempt to counter with Edwin Jackson (12-9, 3.79), who will be trying to force a fifth game back in Philly. The Phils will be trying to clinch their fourth straight appearance in the NL Championship Series, hoping that Oswalt will be at his best while the offense will do what it can to give him much needed run support, while watching out for the Cards putting out all the stops to force a game five.