Monday, September 22, 2014

2014 Panini Prizm Blue Mojo Prizms #17 Ryan Howard

Athletics 8, Phillies 6 (10 Innings)
Game 156 - Sunday Afternoon, September 21st in Oakland
Record - 71-85, 5th Place, 20 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The A's won a long, sloppy game in the 10th when Josh Donaldson hit a walk-off home run against Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

What It Means:  Will this infernal season ever end?

What Happened:  To their credit, the Phillies offense battled back in this one, tying it up at three in the third and again at six in the sixth.  Marlon Byrd led the way with two doubles and three RBIs.  Byrd and Ryan Howard obtained an ignominious achievement in this game, becoming the first pair of teammates in baseball history to each strike out 180 times.  (Hat tip to Matt Gelb via Twitter.)

A.J. Burnett had a horrible outing, getting yanked in the fifth after allowing six runs on three hits, six walks and two hit batters.  The bullpen walked the tightrope until the tenth, holding the A's scoreless.  Gonzalez retired the first batter he saw in the 10th, but then allowed a single and Donaldson's dramatic game-winning home run.

Featured Card:  I'm at a complete loss here.  Flipping through my 2014 Phillies binder, this is easily the shiniest card in there and Howard did go 2 for 4 in this game to raise his average to .223 on the season . . . so I guess I'll go with this card.  Lord knows the Phils could use a little mojo as they approach the final six games of the season.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jerome Williams - 3 Wins, 3 Different Teams

Phillies 3, Athletics 0
Game 155 - Saturday Afternoon, September 20th in Oakland
Record - 71-84

One Sentence Summary:  Jerome Williams pitched another great game and Ken Giles notched his first career save as the Phillies shut out the A's, 3-0.

What It Means:  Williams set a record by defeating the A's for the third time this season, with each of his three wins coming as a member of a different team.  As a member of the Astros, Williams won against the A's on April 26th.  He won again as a member of the Rangers on July 25th.  And he completed the hat trick with a win yesterday.

What Happened:  Williams pitched seven innings, allowing just four hits while striking out three.  Giles, filling in for the suspended Jonathan Papelbon, closed out the game to earn his first career save on his 24th birthday.
2014 Bowman Prospects #BP99

Freddy Galvis provided all the offense the Phillies would need with a two-run home run (his 4th) in the seventh inning.

Featured Cards:  I took a family vote as to whether or not Williams' feat deserved a Chachi Record Breakers card.  My wife and oldest son voted that it did in fact deserve a card, while my youngest son abstained from the vote due to indifference.  I cast the deciding vote, figuring that the feat was cool enough to merit its own card.

I also wanted to include a Giles card, to celebrate his first of hopefully many saves in a Phillies uniform.  This is his first mainstream baseball card, from this year's Bowman set.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

2003 Fleer Tradition Update #U164 Nick Punto

Athletics 3, Phillies 1
Game 154 - Late Friday Night, September 19th in Oakland
Record - 70-84, 5th Place, 19 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Jon Lester shut down the Phillies offense and the A's won, 3-1.

What It Means:  This game was way more important for the A's than the Phillies, and the win allowed the A's to regain the lead in the A.L. Wild Card standings.  If the season ended today, here's who I would be rooting for to win it all, in descending order:

Angels, Orioles, Pirates, Royals, A's, Dodgers, Tigers, Cardinals, Giants, Nationals

Like the rest of Millville, I'll be pulling for Mike Trout and the Angels throughout the postseason.  That being said, I'd love to see an Orioles-Pirates World Series, and I'd be rooting for the Orioles to avenge their losses in the 1971 and 1979 World Series.  I'm also rooting for the Nationals to be swept out of the division series.  The management and staff of The Phillies Room are not fans of the Nationals.

What Happened:  Ryan Howard's 22nd home run, coming in the fourth inning against Lester, was the only offense mustered by the Phillies in this game.

Featured Card:  There was a Nick Punto sighting!  Phillies Room favorite Punto entered the game in the ninth as a defensive replacement at second base.  Since being traded to the Twins on December 3, 2003 in the Eric Milton deal, Punto has appeared in the postseason with the 2006 and 2009 Twins, the 2011 Cardinals (winning a ring) and the 2013 Dodgers.

1985 Fleer Star Stickers #107 Al Holland

Padres 7, Phillies 3
Game 153 - Late Thursday Night, September 18th in San Diego
Record - 70-83, 5th Place, 18 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The Padres easily defeated the Phillies, 7-3, taking advantage of another shaky outing from Kyle Kendrick and the punchless Phillies bats.

What It Means:  To avoid the 89 loss season accomplished in 2013, the Phillies need to go 4-5 the rest of the way.  Having missed the .500 mark, this now seems like a reasonable goal.

What Happened:  Kendrick allowed three runs on six hits and five walks in his five innings of work.  The offense added two meaningless runs in the ninth, and overall went 4 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

Featured Card:  I've been spending a lot of time with my 1985 Phillies binder, as I'm in the planning stages for the 2015 Chachi set.  Because the team has been playing craptastically lately, and because no one from the current roster really merits a featured card for this post, here's a sticker of Mr. T himself, Al Holland.

He's seemingly looking right at you, the Phillies fan, and saying, "Hang in there champ.  Nine more games of this nonsense and then it's time to shuffle the deck in the offseason."

Friday, September 19, 2014

Phillies at Athletics: September 19th to September 21st

Friday 9:35, Saturday and Sunday 4:05 Coliseum - Oakland, CA

Phillies 70-83, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 18 1/2 games behind the Nationals
Athletics 83-69, 2nd Place in the A.L. West, 11 1/2 games behind the Angels

Phillies Probables:  David Buchanan (6-7, 3.75), Jerome Williams (3-2, 2.84), A.J. Burnett (8-17, 4.40)
Athletics Probables:  Jon Lester (5-3, 2.30), Drew Pomeranz (5-4, 2.53), Scott Kazmir (14-9, 3.44)

At the Ballpark:  First of all, the A's stadium is called Coliseum?  When did that happen?

Moving right along, following tonight's game there will be a Star Wars themed fireworks show.  On Saturday, the first 10,000 fans will receive an A's Oktoberfest Stein and on Sunday, the first 10,000 fans will receive a team photo.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Ben Revere - .309
Runs:  Jimmy Rollins - 78
Home Runs:  Marlon Byrd - 25
RBIs:  Ryan Howard - 92
Stolen Bases:  Ben Revere - 47

Wins:  Cole Hamels and Kyle Kendrick - 9
ERA:  Cole Hamels - 2.47
Strikeouts:  Cole Hamels - 187
Saves:  Jonathan Papelbon - 37

1988 Topps #476, #272, #424 and #527
1988 Topps Appreciation:  It's a whole mess of A's for this installment of 1988 Topps Appreciation.  At the time these cards were released, only Dave Stewart was already an ex-Phillie, having pitched for the Phillies for parts of the 1985 and 1986 seasons, only to be released in May 1986.  Stewart would go on to finish in the top four of the A.L. Cy Young voting for the next four seasons, and he'd help lead the A's to the 1989 World Championship.  (And we think the current management team makes bad decisions!)

The next three guys - Steve Henderson, Steve Ontiveros and Dwayne Murphy - had all left Oakland by the time they became an A.L. powerhouse in the late 1980s/early 1990s.

Ontiveros appeared in 11 games for the Phillies in injury-plagued 1989 and 1990 seasons.  He'd bounce back somewhat and actually make the All-Star team in 1995 during his second stint with the A's.  Murphy wrapped up his 12-season career with 98 games for the 1989 Phillies, hitting .218.

Henderson is the Phillies current hitting coach, a position he's held since last season.  It will be interesting to see if there's any shake-up with the team's current coaching staff following the season.  It's never the hitting coach's fault that a team just can't hit, but there's no doubt the Phillies offense might benefit from a different voice.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

2013 Topps Chrome Autographs #16 Darin Ruf

Phillies 5, Padres 2
Game 152 - Late Wednesday Night, September 17th in San Diego
Record - 70-82, 5th Place, 17 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Darin Ruf and Cole Hamels halted the team's three-game losing streak, as the Phillies finally overcame the Padres, 5-2.

What It Means:  Hamels now joins Kyle Kendrick for the team lead in victories with nine.

What Happened:  Ruf had two hits and scored twice in what was only his 15th start in the last 49 games.  Freddy Galvis and Ben Revere both drove in a pair of runs in the four run fifth inning.

Hamels pitched seven innings, allowing a run on seven hits while striking out nine.  He's 10 1/3 innings away from reaching the 200 innings pitched plateau for the fifth year in a row.

Featured Card:  Ruf's hand had to have been sore after signing who knows how many stickers and cards for inclusion within various Topps and Pinnacle products over the past few years.  I know I don't have all of his certified autograph cards, but it seems as if every autograph card in my 2013 and 2014 Phillies binder belongs to either Ruf or Ethan Martin.

This is his autographed card from last year's Topps Chrome set, and it features a photograph also found on his 2013 Bowman Platinum and 2013 Topps Gypsy Queen cards.  Ruf had about a half dozen Topps base cards released in 2013, all featuring the same three photos from the same batting sequence.

2014 Donruss Jersey Kings #14 A.J. Burnett

Padres 5, Phillies 4
Game 151 - Late Tuesday Night, September 16th in San Diego
Record - 69-82, 5th Place, 18 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  A.J. Burnett lost his 17th game of the year as the Phillies fell to the Padres, 5-4.

What It Means:  This loss clinched the team's second straight losing season.  Just when you thought the Phillies couldn't be less appealing to watch, they head out to the West Coast to play a week's worth of meaningless, late night baseball games.

And I'm actually staying up to watch most of these games.  What's wrong with me?

What Happened:  Burnett was chased in the sixth inning after a two-run home run from Alexi Amarista gave the Padres the lead.  Freddy Galvis had hit a two-run home run in the fifth to give the Phils a brief 3-2 lead.

Tony Gwynn, Jr. returned to San Diego and led off for the Phillies.  Unfortunately, he went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the seventh.

Featured Card:  A Pirates card in all but name only, this is the sole game-used relic card issued this year for Burnett.  And maybe it will be his only "Phillies" relic card ever.  Burnett has hinted strongly at retiring at the end of the season, but he'd be walking away from the $12.75 million he's guaranteed from the team in 2015.  If I had to guess, he'll be back.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

2014 Chachi Cloth Patches

As the season winds down, I wanted to feature the "cloth patches" I created to headline each of my series preview posts.  I originally used these during the 2013 season, and I brought them back for the 2014 season.*  I'll be moving on with a new design in 2015 . . . although I haven't quite decided what that new design is going to be.  Presented below are all 30 teams, by division.

*Two of the teams changed their primary logos for 2014.  Using last year as a reference point, can you spot the different logos?

1988 Topps Wax Box Cards #P Kent Tekulve

Padres 1, Phillies 0
Game 150 - Late Monday Night, September 15th in San Diego
Record - 69-81, 5th Place, 17 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies wasted a fine start by Jerome Williams, managing only two hits in a 1-0 loss to the Padres.

What It Means:  Before the start of this game, Major League Baseball announced it was suspending Jonathan Papelbon for seven games for his lewd gesture to the fans as he departed Sunday's game.  Is there any less popular Phillies player in recent memory than Papelbon?  And this is a guy was has pitched fairly well this year and saved 37 games.

What Happened:  Williams allowed an unearned run in his 7 2/3 innings of work, while striking out six.  The Padres Andrew Cashner pitched a complete game shutout, needing just 92 pitches to take care of the struggling Phillies offense.

Featured Card:  Let's focus on one the team's more popular closers and try to look forward to the day when Papelbon is pitching elsewhere . . . Kent Tekulve had heart transplant surgery back on September 5th and the 67-year-old is doing well so far.  Here's hoping for a full and complete recovery for this Phillies Room favorite.

The card here was used as the model for the cards featured in this post.  Truth be told, Chachi cards really don't come in wax packs.  (But that would be pretty cool.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

2014 Chachi Wax Box Cards

I averted a near disaster a few nights ago, when I was taking out the recycling and I dropped an empty box that had previously contained 36 2014 Chachi wax packs.  The box landed top down, and I couldn't believe that there were four more Chachi cards printed on the bottom!  I carefully cut around the outside border of the four cards, and I'm presenting these rarities here.  They're the same as the regular Chachi cards, but with a baby blue border.  The cards feature former Phillies with their new teams and Phillies Room favorite Rheal Cormier.

The box I was getting ready to recycle was from the late third series of this year's Chachi cards, so I'll have to track down boxes from the first and second series to see if those boxes had cards on the bottom too.  Let this be a lesson to you!  Always check your wax box bottoms to see if there are any hidden treasures to add to your collection.

Now the only thing I have to decide is whether I should cut them out or keep them together on one panel in order to retain their future value.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Phillies at Padres: September 15th to September 18th

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 10:10, Thursday 9:10
Petco Park - San Diego, CA

Phillies 69-80, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 16 1/2 games behind the Nationals
Padres 68-80, 3rd Place in the N.L. West, 16 1/2 games behind the Dodgers

Phillies Probables:  Jerome Williams (3-1, 3.44), A.J. Burnett (8-16, 4.34), Cole Hamels (807, 2.51), Kyle Kendrick (9-12, 4.72)
Padres Probables:  Andrew Cashner (3-7, 2.40), Ian Kennedy (10-13, 3.77), Eric Stults (7-16, 4.49), Tyson Ross (13-14, 2.81)

At the Ballpark:  There are no giveaways scheduled, but according to the promotions calendar on the Padres' website, tomorrow night is Taco Tuesday at the ballpark.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Ben Revere - .309
Runs:  Jimmy Rollins - 78
Home Runs:  Marlon Byrd - 25
RBIs:  Ryan Howard - 92
Stolen Bases:  Ben Revere - 45

Wins:  Kyle Kendrick - 9
ERA:  Cole Hamels - 2.51
Strikeouts:  Cole Hamels - 178
Saves:  Jonathan Papelbon - 37

1988 Topps #284, #693, 1988 Topps Traded #121T and 1988 Topps #482
1988 Topps Appreciation:  Larry Bowa has spent his life in baseball and has had two manager's gigs over his long professional career.  His second stint as a manager came with the Phillies, and he managed the team to a 337-308 record between 2001 and 2004.  As rough as that was, his first stint as a manager of the San Diego Padres was much, much rougher.  Bowa took over for Steve Boras following the 1986 season, and the 1987 Padres finished with the National League's worst record at 65-97.  Bowa lasted 46 games into the 1988 season, going 16-30, before he was relieved of his duties.

The three players featured here all played briefly for Bowa, and they all also spent time playing for the Phillies.  Benito (don't call me Benny) Santiago spent one season in Philadelphia in 1996, bridging the catching gap between Darren Daulton and Mike Lieberthal.

Dickie Thon played one season in San Diego before the team sold him to the Phillies in January 1989.  Thon played three seasons in Philly, hitting .259 in 431 games.

Finally, Mark Davis double dipped with the Phillies, coming up with the Phils in 1980 before heading to the Giants in the December 1982 Al Holland deal.  He'd play five seasons with the Giants before hitting his career peak with the Padres between 1987 and 1989.  In his final season with the Padres, Davis won the National League Cy Young Award when he saved 44 games and pitched to a 1.85 ERA in 70 games.  He'd never recapture his 1989 form, bouncing around for the next seven seasons and briefly appearing again with the Phillies in 1993.

2014 Phillies Team Issue 2 #58 Jonathan Papelbon

Marlins 5, Phillies 4
Game 149 - Sunday Afternoon, September 14th in Philadelphia
Record - 69-80, 5th Place, 16 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Jonathan Papelbon imploded in the ninth, blowing a three-run lead, grabbing his crotch on his way back to the dugout and getting ejected from the game in the process.

What It Means:  Oh, and the Phils lost 5-4.

What Happened:  Papelbon entered the ninth with the Phillies holding a 4-1 lead, thanks in part to another solid outing from starting pitcher David Buchanan.  Papelbon threw 38 pitches, allowing four runs on four hits while walking one and uncorking a wild pitch.  He made the questionable decision to adjust himself as he was leaving the field, which led to umpire Joe West walking over to the dugout to officially eject him.

Following the game, Papelbon denied that his action was meant as a message to the (remaining) booing fans.

Featured Card:  Here's what I wrote way back in November 2011 after the Phillies had originally signed Papelbon.  I'm tired of his act and I'm ready for him to go.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

2014 Chachi #63 Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez

Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez
Relief Pitcher

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'3"  Weight:  200
Born:  September 23, 1986, Havana, Cuba
Home:  Miami, FL
Signed:  Signed as a free agent, August 30, 2013
Teams:  Phillies 2014
Acquired:  Via free agency

Phillies Cards in My Collection:
#1 - 2014 Bowman Prospects #BP105
#3 - 2014 Bowman Chrome Top 5 Mini Refractors #BM-PP4

Gonzalez climbed through the minor league ranks this season, appearing in Clearwater (8 games), Reading (11 games) and Lehigh Valley (12 games).  His rapid ascension meant that he was completely omitted from all 2014 Phillies minor league team sets.

First Chachi Card:  2014 Chachi #63

2007 Upper Deck Phillies #6 Kyle Kendrick

Phillies 2, Marlins 1
Game 148 - Saturday Night, September 13th in Philadelphia
Record - 69-79, 5th Place, 15 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  With assists from Marlon Byrd and Maikel Franco, Kyle Kendrick helped pitch the Phillies to a 2-1 win over the Marlins.

What It Means:  Inexplicably, Kendrick now leads the pitching staff with nine victories.  The Phillies will go for the three-game sweep of the Marlins this afternoon.

What Happened:  Kendrick held the Marlins to a run on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings of work, while striking out six.  In what has now become standard operating procedure, Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon closed out the seventh, eighth and ninth to seal the victory.  (Wouldn't it be awesome to see that trio in action for a contending team?)

Franco and Byrd drove in the only two Phillies runs in the first.  Byrd also threw out Justin Bour at home in the top of the seventh to preserve the slim Phillies lead.

Featured Card:  Kendrick made his Major League debut at Citizens Bank Park on June 13, 2007, starting a game against the White Sox.  He's had his share of ups and downs in the seven years that followed, and last night could have been his final appearance at home as a member of the Phillies.  Kendrick is a free agent following the season, and it seems extremely likely that he'll be pitching somewhere new when the 2015 season starts.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

2014 Phillies Team Issue 2 #25 Cody Asche

Phillies 3, Marlins 1 (10 Innings)
Game 147 - Friday Night, September 12th in Philadelphia
Record - 68-79, 5th Place, 15 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Cody Asche's walk-off two-run home run in the 10th gave the Phillies a 3-1 win over the Marlins.

What It Means:  Asche's playing time at third has been cut considerably since Maikel Franco was recalled when rosters expanded, and it was nice to see him celebrate with the team following the walk-off.

What Happened:  Extra innings were necessitated as a result of the pitcher's duel between the Marlins' Henderson Alvarez and Cole Hamels.  Both held the offenses to one run over seven innings of work.

Featured Card:  This is Asche's card from the team's second team issued set.  It's surprising to me that he doesn't have more 2014 baseball cards.  I only have his cards from the team issued sets, Topps, Topps Heritage and the Topps Phillies retail set in my 2014 Phillies binder.

1997 Score #453 Mark Leiter

Pirates 4, Phillies 1
Game 146 - Thursday Night, September 11th in Philadelphia
Record - 67-79, 5th Place, 16 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The Pirates easily downed the Phillies, 4-1, in the final game of this four game series.

What It Means:  Manager Ryne Sandberg ran out an interesting line-up in this game, which featured an infield of Maikel Franco at third, Freddy Galvis at shortstop and Cesar Hernandez at second.  The youngsters combined to go 2 for 9.

What Happened:  A lack of offense against Pirates starter Francisco Liriano doomed the Phillies, as they managed only six hits and went 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

Featured Card:  A.J. Burnett allowed four runs in his six innings of work, earning his 16th loss of the season.  He became the first Phillies pitcher to lose at least 16 games since Mark Leiter lost 17 in 1997.

2012 Topps Gypsy Queen #277 Vance Worley

Pirates 6, Phillies 3
Game 145 - Wednesday Night, September 10th in Philadelphia
Record - 67-78, 5th Place, 15 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The bats went silent as the Pirates easily handled Jerome Williams and the Phillies, winning 6-3.

What It Means:  The team's hope for a winning record is becoming more and more remote.  It would take a 15-2 record at this point to pull it off.

What Happened:  Williams hit better than he pitched in this game, knocking in two runs with a single to right in the fourth.  Reliever Luis Garcia, who earlier in the day was named the team's best minor league pitcher for the year, got lit up again, allowing two runs on four hits without retiring a batter.  His Major League ERA this season is up to 12.27.

Featured Card:  Former Phillie Vance Worley, traded away to the Twins for Ben Revere back on December 6, 2012, earns the featured card.  He struggled mightily with Twins, but he may have found a comfortable home with the Pirates.  This was Worley's first start against his former team, and he earned the win by allowing only three runs over five innings of work.

Field Report:  We were there for this snoozer, and we totally missed the most exciting play of the game.  Doug and I both got soft serve ice cream in a Phillies helmet early in the game and Doug ended up wearing most of his ice cream, as it quickly melted.  We made a trip to the bathroom to clean him up just as Andrew McCutchen was rounding the bases in the fifth with his inside the park home run.

We did get to view the display of game-used items from the team's combined no-hitter in Atlanta, which was cool.  My personal record for the season is now 6-6, and I think we'll go to one more game this season.  A personal winning record is on the line!