Yesterday afternoon, the Phillies faced the Tampa Bay Rays in their final spring training game. Despite their best efforts, they lost the game to the Rays, 9-7.
The Phils’ ace, Cole Hamels, started the game for the World Champs. In five innings of work, he gets rocked by the 2008 American League Champs, giving up six runs on six hits, including two home runs, a solo shot in the first inning to former teammate Pat Burrell and a three-run home run to Carlos Pena, also in the first, and a walk while striking out seven. Gary Majewski followed him, pitching a scoreless inning, giving up only a hit. J.C. Romero then took the mound for an inning, being hit for two runs on three hits and a walk. Cedrick Bowers followed Romero, pitching a 1-2-3 inning. Mike Koplove took the mound in the ninth, giving up a run on one hit and three walks while striking out a batter. Hamels took the lost, with his spring record now at 0-1 with a 9.39 ERA. In spite of the bad outing, the fact that Hamels was striking out a large number of batters in the ballgame should be an indication that he will be tough to face during the regular season.
Among the batters, the Phils had eleven hits against Rays’ pitching. Matt Stairs led the way with three hits, two singles and a double, as he knocked in a run and scored a run, ending the spring with a .288 batting average. Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez both followed with two hits each, with Ibanez hitting a home run, a two-run shot in the fourth, along with a double, while Howard had two singles and scored a run. Howard ended the spring with a .333 batting average while Ibanez ended his with a .310 batting average. Hopefully, Howard will be able to translate his hot spring hitting into the regular season. If so, opposing pitchers are in for a long season while facing him. Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, Greg Dobbs and Jason Donald had the other four Phillies’ hits, with Dobbs’ hit being a two-run home run in the fourth, while Donald’s was a solo shot in the sixth. Werth’s hit, a double, help knocked in a run. Werth ended the spring with a .333 average, after a slow start thanks to injury problems. Rollins ended his spring with a .351 batting average, after coming back from being hot while playing for Team USA in the WBC. Prospect Jason Donald will be headed for Triple-A Lehigh Valley with a .310 batting average.
The defending 2008 World Champions are now ready to begin their title defense, ready to become the first National League team to repeat as World Series Champs since the Pete Rose-Johnny Bench-Joe Morgan-led Big Red Machine of 1975-76.
The Phillies will play the first game of their title defense tonight at home against the Atlanta Braves, the first game of a three-game series with the Braves. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park, with the game starting at 8:00 pm Eastern time. The game will be televisied nationally on ESPN. The Phillies’ starter will be Brett Myers while the Braves will counter with Derek Lowe. Both starters’ records will be 0-0 with a -.– ERA.
PLAY BALL!!! and GO PHILLIES!!!!!
They Phillies have announced that they will be giving the final two spots in the bullpen to J.A. Happ and Jack Taschner while they send Gary Majewski down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. They will also be giving the final bench spot to infielder Miguel Cairo. With that, your 2009 defending World Champions Philadelphia Phillies look like this:
Chan Ho Park
…plus J.C. Romero, who will be returning later in the season from his stupid 50-game suspension, to retake his roster spot in the bullpen.
Although the team looks good and appear ready to defend the title, I still have this nagging question in the back of my head. Why are they putting Happ into the bullpen, where he has not done too well so far at the big league level, instead of Majewski? Let’s be honest, folks. Happ is a starter, no more, no less. He’s better off pitching some more at Lehigh Valley until something bad happens to one of the five starters, knock on wood, instead of the bullpen. I can only think that he’s up here just in case someone in the starting rotation blows it big time real early in the season. I am so hoping that I’m wrong and that Charlie Manuel and the brain-trust knows exactly what they are doing.
In other Phillies-related news, the Mets have just signed outfielder Gary Sheffield to a one-year, $400,000 deal. If Gary’s attitude is as bad as I’d been reading about during the past few days, our team has just bit the bullet by him signing elsewhere. As for the Mets, I hate to be in their clubhouse when he starts becoming disruptive.
In their final Grapefruit League game, the Phillies lose a wild shoot out with the Washington Nationals, 12-10.
Jamie Moyer started the game for the Phils and, in four innings of work, got torched by the Nats for nine runs on eleven hits, including two home runs to Ryan Zimmerman, a solo shot in the third and two-run home run in the fourth, and a two-run home run to Austin Kearns, also in the fourth inning, and two walks while striking out three. Not a typical Moyer game, but hopefully he now has it out of his system before he goes on to face the Atlanta Braves this upcoming Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park. Clay Condrey followed for two scoreless innings, giving up only a hit and a walk as he struck out one. Chad Durbin then pitched an inning, giving up a run on two hits while striking out one. Jack Taschner took the lost as he pitched an inning, giving up two runs on two hits, a pair of solo home runs to Cristian Guzman and Alex Cintron, and two walks as he struck out one batter. Gary Majewski ended the game for the Phillies, pitching a scoreless inning, giving up a hit. Taschner spring training record with the Phils is now 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA.
Among the batters, the Phils collected twelve hits. Pedro Feliz led the team with four hits, including a double and a solo home run in the second, as he knocked in three runs while scoring two. Ryan Howard and Matt Stairs both followed him with two hits apiece, with each man hitting a home run, with Howard’s being a two-run shot in the first, his tenth home run of the spring, while Stairs hit a three-run home run in the sixth. Shane Victorino, Raul Ibanez, Eric Bruntlett and Carlos Ruiz had the other four Phillies’ hits, with Ruiz knocking in a run. Greg Dobbs had the Phils’ final RBI.
After the game, the Phillies took a chartered plane back home to Philadelphia, where they will play two spring training games at Citizens Bank Park against the 2008 American League Champions Tampa Bay Rays. The first of the two games is to be played tonight at 7:05 pm.
In other sports new, as the Villanova Wildcats prepare to meet the North Carolina Tar Heels in Detroit, Michigan, to get into the NCAA Championship Game, one of my three alma maters, the Penn State Nittany Lions Basketball Team yesterday defeated the Baylor Bears, 69-63, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, to win the 2009 NIT Tournament. To say that I’m right now a very happy puma (not lion as the Nittany Lion is actually a Mountain Lion or Puma) is an understatement.
Last night, Brett Myers, the now designated opening night starter, showed that he was ready to take the mound next Sunday night, as he pitched a strong four innings, giving up only one run on three scattered hits, with the run coming in on a Travis Snider solo home run in the second inning, as he struck out three. Relievers J.C. Romero and Ryan Madson then followed him, each man pitching a scoreless inning, giving up just one hit between them (Romero) while striking out a batter (Madson). Jack Taschner, making his spring training debut as a Phil after his trade to the team, then came on to pitch an inning, giving up just one hit. Brad Lidge and Gary Majewski then pitched the final two innings for the Phils, with both man pitching 1-2-3 innings, striking out three batters between them (Lidge 2, Majewski 1). Myers got the win, with his spring record now at 2-2 with a 3.52 ERA. Hopefully, it’ll be the good Brett that will be making an appearance next Sunday night.
Batting-wise, the Phillies unloaded for nine runs and fifteen hits on Blue Jays’ pitching. Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz each collected two hits, while Eric Bruntlett, Chase Utley, Pablo Ozuna, Ryan Howard, Paul Hoover, Jason Ellison and Chris Coste got the other seven. Ibanez’ two hits were a double and a two-run home run, while both Rollins and Werth would also get doubles. Ibanez knocked in three of the Phils runs, Werth plated two, while Bruntlett, Howard, Ozuna and Matt Stairs each got an RBI, with Stairs’ RBI coming in when he was hit by the pitch with the bases loaded.
The Phillies next Grapefruit League game is this afternoon against the New York Yankees from George M. Steinbrenner Field, in Tampa, Florida. The game is presently in progress.
As the Phillies were releasing Geoff Jenkins, they also announced that they have made Chan Ho Park the fifth man in their starting rotation. With the announcement, that places J.A. Happ in competition with Gary Majewski, Jack Taschner and Bobby Mosebach for the two bullpens spots that are still open.
This means that the Phillies’ starting five are now Cole Hamels (ace), Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, Joe Blanton and Park.
For the first time this spring, Jamie Moyer got roughed up on the mound. As he pitched five and two-thirds innings, the ageless wonder ended up giving up seven runs to the Bucos on eleven hits, including a solo home run to Andrew McCutchen in the fifth, and a walk while also striking out seven Pirates. There’s both good and bad news in the line. The good news is that Moyer is obviously still confusing the batters with his pitches, if the seven strikeouts are any indication. The bad news is that he got roughed up. Hopefully this will inspire him to be more clever the next time he takes the mound before he makes his first start of the season the Tuesday after next. Scott Eyre took the mound next for a third of an inning, striking out the only man he would face. Gary Majewski followed him for a scoreless inning, giving up just a hit. Brad Lidge pitched the eighth inning, giving up three runs on two hits, including a two-run shot to Garrett Jones, and a walk as he struck out one. With the lost, Moyer’s spring line is now 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA.
Among the batters, the Phillies only got four hits, with two of them being for homes runs and a third being a double. Carlos Ruiz would lead the offense, getting a double and a three-run home run in the seventh inning in three at-bats, knocking in three of the Phils four runs. His spring batting average is now at .385. Ryan Howard had one hit, a massive solo home run in the fourth, his eighth spring home run, putting his spring average up to .293. Chris Coste, now secured as the team’s back-up catcher, got the fourth and final hit in the Phillies’ 10-4 defeat.
The next Phillies spring training game will be played this afternoon at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida, as the Phils host the Boston Red Sox. The game starts at 1:05 pm Eastern.
After trailing for most of the game, the Phillies came from behind to defeat the Blue Jays, 7-6, thanks to a three-run ninth inning.
Chan Ho Park started the game for the Phillies, and produced a not too good outing which may hurt his changes in his battle with J.A. Happ for the last spot in the startingrotation. Park pitched four innings, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk while striking out four Blue Jays. Robert Mosebach, who is fighting for a spot in the bullpen, follows, giving up a run on two hits and a walk in one inning of work. Chad Durbin follows him with a 1-2-3 inning, getting two strikeouts. Ryan Madson follows with a scoreless inning of his own, giving up a hit. Gary Majewski pitches two innings, giving up two runs on four hit and a walk as he strikes out a batter, while picking up the win, thanks to the Phillies scoring three runs in the top of the ninth. His spring training record is now 1-0 with a 3.27 ERA.
The Phillies’ bats collected thirteen hits today, with Jayson Werth, Pedro Feliz and Carlos Ruiz leading the way with two hits each, with one of Werth’s two hits being a solo home run. Miguel Cairo, Jason Ellison, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Eric Bruntlett, Rich Thompson and Chris Coste each got a hit, with Utley’s hit being a two-run home run. Utley would knock in three runs in the game, while Bruntlett knocks in two and Werth and Thompson knocks in a run each. Both Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino returned to the lineup after their stint with Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. Both players went 0 for 2 with a walk each while Rollins crossed the plate with a run.
In other Phillies’ news, Cole Hamels, who pitched in a minor league game at Clearwater, is expected to pitch on April 10 against the Colorado Rockies in Denver, the Phils’ fourth game of the season, while Brett Myers will pitch opening night at Citizens Bank Park against the Atlanta Braves on April 5, to be followed by Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton.
The Phillies will take the day off tomorrow before facing the New York Yankees on Thursday afternoon for the second time this week, this time from Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida. Game time will be at 1:05 pm.
This week’s trivia question is: Name the Phillies’ pitcher who holds the major league record for the most losses in a season? You know where to find it, and I will reveal the answer on Thursday.