Saturday, November 17, 2018

Lundquist Joins Coaching Staff

2017 Choice Lehigh
Valley IronPigs #29
On Friday, the Phillies filled out their 2019 coaching staff with the appointment of David Lundquist to the role of assistant pitching coach.  There was a job opening at that position given the recent promotion of Chris Young to full-time pitching coach.

Lundquist has spent the past 11 seasons within the Phillies organization, most recently serving as the pitching coach for the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs between 2016 and 2018.  He appeared in 37 games for the White Sox and Padres between 1999 and 2002, earning a few mainstream baseball card appearances in the process.  Lundquist has cards in the 1999 SkyBox Premium and the 2001 Leaf Rookies & Stars sets.  I have a dozen cards of his in my collection, all from Phillies minor league team sets issued between 2008 and 2017.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Beato, Valentin Depart - Hot Stove Excitement!

2018 Phillies Team Issue 2 #9
For the sake of completion, I wanted to update the list below to reflect the departures of minor league free agents Pedro Beato and Jemuel Valentin.  Both appear on the comprehensive list of minor league free agents recently published by Baseball America.

Pedro Beato tallied just 2/3 of an inning with the Phillies back in 2017 before landing on the disabled list.  He didn't receive a call-up in 2018, but he's the Lehigh Valley IronPigs all-time saves leader, having converted 68 of 73 save opportunities.  He'll join the Missing Links club, having no Phillies baseball card appearances to his name.  His IronPigs cards can be found in the 2017 and 2018 team sets, and he's also on a league leaders card within the 2018 Topps Heritage Minor League set.

Jesmuel Valentin appeared in 46 games for the Phillies in 2018, hitting .177 (14 for 79) in limited action in the infield and outfield.  Valentin has appeared in three of the team's photo card sets and he's also in the 2018 Topps Update set, sharing a card with Mitch Walding.

Moving On - 2018-2019 Offseason
  • Trevor Plouffe - inf (10/4/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Jose Bautista - of (10/29/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera - inf (10/29/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Aaron Loup - lhp (10/29/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Wilson Ramos - c (10/29/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Pedro Beato - rhp (11/2/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Jesmuel Valentin - inf (11/2/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Pedro Florimon - inf/of (11/3/18) - Outrighted off 40-man roster and elected free agency.

Young In, Kranitz Out as Pitching Coach

2018 Phillies Team Issue 2 #45
In a somewhat surprising move, last season's assistant pitching coach, Chris Young, was promoted to the full-time gig and the former pitching coach, Rick Kranitz was let go.  It had been reported on Wednesday that a few other teams were inquiring as to the availability of Young and rather than lose him, the Phillies opted to promote him.  Kranitz spent only the 2018 season in the role of pitching coach, having previously served as bullpen coach in 2016 and assistant pitching coach in 2017.

Kranitz appeared in each team issued photo card set since 2016, and I'll fondly remember him for always being willing to sign an autograph for my son Doug.  After each pre-game autograph hunt, Doug would report back with the list of signatures he'd received and finish with, "And oh yeah, another Rick Kranitz."  He probably has a dozen things signed by Kranitz in his bedroom.

Speaking of coaches, the nebulous roles of the field staff continue to evolve for the Phillies as Paco Figueroa was recently named the team's baserunning/outfield coach.  I'm not sure if he'll be in uniform during games in 2019 or not, but he's currently listed on the team's website along with nine (!) other field coaches.  Figueroa played in parts of seven seasons in the minors, mostly within the Orioles organization, although he did play in 68 games with the 2011 Reading Phillies.

To refresh your memories, the Phillies now have the following "traditional" coaches:
  • Rob Thomson - bench coach
  • John Mallee - hitting coach
  • Chris Young - pitching coach
  • Jose David Flores - 1st base coach
  • Dusty Wathan - 3rd base coach
  • Jim Gott - bullpen coach
And the following "non-traditional" coaches:
2011 Multi-Ad
Reading Phillies #11
  • Pedro Guerrero - assistant hitting coach
  • Paco Figueroa - baserunning/outfield coach
  • Craig Driver - bullpen catcher/receiving coach
  • Bob Stumpo - bullen catcher/catching coach
I have no idea what differentiates Driver's job as receiving coach from Stumpo's job as catching coach.

Below, I've updated my running list of pitching coaches since 1970 to reflect this change, and no word yet on whether or not a new assistant pitching coach will be needed or named.
  • Ray Rippelmeyer 1970-1978
  • Herm Starrette 1979-1981
  • Claude Osteen 1982-1988
  • Darold Knowles 1989-1990
  • Johnny Podres 1991-1996
  • Jim Wright 1996
  • Galen Cisco 1997-2000
  • Vern Ruhle 2001-2002
  • Joe Kerrigan 2003-2004
  • Rich Dubee 2005-2013
  • Bob McClure 2014-2017
  • Rick Kranitz 2018
  • Chris Young 2019-

Sunday, November 4, 2018

First Phillies Roster Moves of the Offseason

2018 Topps Now #499
Phillies-related news has been limited so far this offseason, but there have been a few roster moves since the end of the World Series and the 40-man roster now stands at 35 players.

In a move that probably slipped by most people, infielder Trevor Plouffe became a minor league free agent a few days after the regular season ended.  I only became aware of the news after reviewing the Minor League Transactions noted at the Baseball America website.

And as is now standard operating procedure - four more Phillies automatically became free agents at the conclusion of the World Series.  Gone are the days of players "declaring" free agency.  Finally, on Friday, the Phillies sent Pedro Florimon outright to the IronPigs after he was removed from the 40-man roster and cleared waivers.  A day later, Florimon opted to become a minor league free agent.  

None of these six players are expected to return in 2019.

Moving On - 2018-2019 Offseason
  • Trevor Plouffe - inf (10/4/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Jose Bautista - of (10/29/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera - inf (10/29/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Aaron Loup - lhp (10/29/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Wilson Ramos - c (10/29/18) - Elected free agency.
  • Pedro Florimon - inf/of (11/3/18) - Outrighted off 40-man roster and elected free agency.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Limited Edition Chachi Insert Set: 1978 Topps Missing Links

I've needed a Phillies break since the conclusion of the Freefall of '18 wrapped up, but I wanted to break my hiatus to post these cards today.  My wife's birthday is approaching and 1978 was a big year for her so I thought I'd use her upcoming birthday as motivation to wrap up a project I've been working on for a while now.

There are several players who appeared for the Phillies during the 1978 season who never appeared on a proper 1978 Topps card in red pinstripes/baby blue.  In an attempt to right that wrong, I scoured the internet and my personal collection to provide suitable (?) cards for these 14 players and the Phillies coaching staff.

Some of these have already appeared throughout the past season atop series preview posts, but the entire 19-card, limited edition insert set is presented here.  And I'll gladly update the Kerry Dineen and Horacio Pina cards if Phillies pictures of either player ever show up.


1. Dan Boitano - The righty reliever appeared in one inning of one game for the 1978 Phillies.  He appears in the 1980 Topps set on a Brewers Future Stars card.
2. Todd Cruz - Cruz started his six-year career with 3 games for the Phillies as a September call-up.
3. Kerry Dineen - Dineen appeared in 16 big league games between 1975 and 1978 for the Yankees and Phillies.  He has a Phillies related card in the 1979 Oklahoma City 89ers team city that I've yet to track down.
4. Rawly Eastwick - Acquired from the Cardinals in June 1978 for Bobby Brown and Jay Johnstone, Eastwick appears in the 1978 Topps set with his former team.
5. Orlando Gonzalez - Gonzalez shows up in the 1977 Topps and 1981 Fleer sets, but there are no official cards marking his 26 games with the Phillies in 1978.


6. Bud Harrelson - Harrelson appears with the Mets in the 1978 Topps set.  The Phils sent Fred Andrews to the Mets in March to acquire him.
7. Dan Larson - Larson pitched in 21 games for the Phillies between 1978 and 1981.  He's in the 1977 Topps set with the Astros.
8. Pete Mackanin - The future Phillies manager appeared in 5 games for the 1978 Phillies and he's in the 1978 Topps set with the Expos.
9. Keith Moreland - Moreland made his Major League debut in the final game of the 1978 season.
10. Jim Morrison - A true omission from the 1978 Topps set, Morrison appeared in 53 games for the N.L. Champion Phillies.  He'd appear in the 1979 Topps set on a Phillies Prospects card with Lonnie Smith and Jim Wright.


11. Horacio Pina - The veteran Pina was purchased from the Mexican League on September 14th, appeared in 2 games for the Phillies, and was promptly returned to the Mexican League following the season.
12. Dick Ruthven - On June 15th, the Phillies re-acquired Ruthven from the Braves, swapping out Gene Garber.
13. Kevin Saucier - Like Moreland, Saucier made his big league debut in the final game of the 1978 season.  He allowed 4 runs on 4 hits in 2 innings of work.
14. Lonnie Smith - A September call-up, Smith appeared in 17 games for the Phillies down the stretch.


15. Carroll Beringer CO - Beringer departed following the season, having served as the bullpen coach since 1973.
16. Billy DeMars CO - The team's hitting coach between 1969 and 1981, DeMars also served as the first base coach (1969-1972) and the third base coach (1972-1979).
17. Ray Rippelmeyer CO - This was Rippelmeyer's final season as the team's pitching coach, a position he had held since 1970.


18. Tony Taylor CO - Taylor's first stint as a Phillies coach saw him serve as the infield coach (1977-1978) and first base coach (1979).
19. Bobby Wine CO - A Phillies coach from 1972 until 1983, Wine served as the infield coach (1972), first base coach (1973-1978) and bench coach (1979-1983).

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Game 162 - Fan Appreciation Day; Farewell 2018 Phillies


Phillies 3, Braves 1
Game 162 - Sunday Afternoon, September 30th in Philadelphia
Record - 80-82, 3rd place, 10 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies ended the 2018 season with a 3-1 win as they head into what will hopefully be a very active offseason.

What It Means:  The Phillies finished the season two games below .500, a 14-game improvement over their 2017 season.

What Happened:  Cesar Hernandez hit a lead-off home run (15) while Carlos Santana and Rhys Hoskins also drove in a pair of runs.  Ranger Suarez started (3 innings, 1 run) but it was Tommy Hunter who secured the win after 1 1/3 scoreless innings.  Seranthony Dominguez recorded his 16th save of the season.


Featured Cards/Field Report:  Jenna and Ben arrived before the game and were disappointed to discover no Phillies players greeting the fans as they entered the gates.  They circled the park, walking to each gate to confirm.  Doug and I arrived in the 3rd inning following his early afternoon baseball game.  It was also good to spend some time with Jenna's brother, the boys' Uncle Drew, during the game.  We posed for one last picture with the Phanatic and former Phillies pitcher Larry Christenson was seated a few rows in front of us and he gladly signed Doug's baseball.

Postgame, Ben secured a t-shirt shot from the Phanatic's t-shirt cannon and we were surprised to discover the shirt had been signed by Phillies manager Gabe Kapler.  Doug stationed himself by the corner of the Phillies dugout, catching the game-used hat tossed by reliever Yacksel Rios.  He also caught a batting glove and a baseball tossed by one of the batboys.  Finally, Aaron Nola stopped by and made sure to honor every last autograph request from the small crowd of fans now gathered behind Doug.  As disappointing as the finish to the season was, I'm still bummed that Phillies baseball is over until February.

Memory Lane - Game 162
This is my 10th season (!) of posting on this blog and I truly enjoy and appreciate the outlet this has provided for me to share my love of baseball, baseball cards and (occasionally) the Phillies.  I'll be back in 2019 and I sincerely thank you for following along, commenting and sharing your Phillies stories.

October 4, 2009 - Catcher Paul Hoover singled in the winning run in the 10th in a 7-6 win over the Marlins.
October 3, 2010 - The Phillies lost 8-7 to the Braves in their final tune-up before facing the Reds in the N.L.D.S.
September 28, 2011 - The Phillies closed out the 2011 regular season with a 13-inning victory against the Braves, setting a franchise record with their 102nd regular season win.
October 3, 2012 - The Phillies closed out their 2012 season with a lethargic 5-1 loss to the N.L. East Champion Nationals.
September 29, 2013 - Zach Miner got the ball for the Phillies and lasted 2 1/3 innings in a 12-5 loss to the Braves.
September 28, 2014 - Cole Hamels pitched another fine game and suffered through another outing with minimal run support.
October 4, 2015 - Phillies avoid 100 losses and Ichiro makes his pitching debut in a 7-2 victory.
October 2, 2016 - Phillies bid an emotional farewell to franchise icon Ryan Howard.
October 1, 2017 - Phils clobber Mets in Pete Mackanin's final game as manager.
September 30, 2018 - Lame duck Phillies win season finale in Gabe Kapler's frustrating debut season.

Want to revisit every game of the 2018 season?  My handy game summary index can be found here.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Game 161 - 2018 Topps Now #606 Aaron Nola

Phillies 3, Braves 0
Game 161 - Saturday Night, September 29th in Philadelphia
Record - 79-82, 3rd place, 11 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  Behind a solid pitching performance from Aaron Nola and a three-run 7th inning fueled by a two-run single from Cesar Hernandez, the Phillies downed the Braves, 3-0.

What It Means:  THE PHILLIES WON!

What Happened:  Nola improved to 17-6 on the season after his seven inning outing, allowing just two hits while striking out eight.  Hector Neris and Seranthony Dominguez performed the role of functioning relievers pitching the final two scoreless innings.  Dominguez earned his 15th save of the season.

Featured Card:  There's no question in my mind that Nola was the MVP for the Phillies this season and here's hoping for another dominant season from him in 2019.  Todd Zolecki Tweeted out some impressive numbers, noting that Nola joins Grover Cleveland Alexander (1915) as the only Phillies pitchers to strike out 200+ batters and hold opponents to a batting average of .200 or lower in a season.  Nola is the fourth Phillies right-handed pitcher with at least 224 strikeouts in a season, joining the ranks of Jim Bunning, Alexander and Curt Schilling.

Game 160 - 2018 Phillies Team Issue 2 #48 Jerad Eickhoff

Braves 10, Phillies 2
Game 160 - Friday Night, September 28th in Philadelphia
Record - 78-82, 3rd place, 12 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  Jerad Eickhoff made his first start in over a year, but the Braves ruined his return in this 10-2 loss.

What It Means:  Eickhoff was emotional following the game, thanking the Phillies and GM Matt Klentak for allowing him the opportunity to start one of the final games of the season.  A healthy Eickhoff would be huge for the Phillies starting pitching rotation in 2019.

What Happened:  At one point, Eickhoff struck out 7 straight Braves and he exited after 3 1/3 inning having struck out a career high 8.  Luis Garcia won the nightly bullpen award of most runs allowed, giving up three runs in a 1/3 of an inning and seeing his ERA jump to 6.07 for the season.  Rhys Hoskins hit a 9th inning home run, his 34th and final of the season.

2018 Topps Now
Player's Weekend #PW-102
2018 Topps Now
Player's Weekend #PW-103
2018 Topps Now
Player's Weekend #PW-104
Featured Cards/Field Report:  My family attended this game together, our final night game of the 2018 season.  I'll admit that we didn't make it through all nine innings.

Doug had yet another successful autograph haul, netting signatures from Rhys Hoskins, Scott Kingery and Roman Quinn* on their newly released Topps Now Player's Weekend cards.  He and a few other ambitious young fans enjoyed themselves as players and coaches filed into the dugout prior to the game.

*The Topps quality control department continues to fail as the Topps Now Player's Weekend card for Odubel Herrera, featuring his Torrito nickname, shows a picture of fellow outfielder Roman Quinn.  If nothing else, I'm using Topps' short-comings as a lesson to my sons in what happens when someone doesn't double check their work or when someone flat out doesn't care about his/her job.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Game 159 - 2018 Topps Heritage High Numbers #721 Jake Arrieta

Rockies 5Phillies 3
Game 159 - Thursday Afternoon, September 27th in Denver
Record - 78-81, 3rd place, 11 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  Jake Arrieta and Tommy Hunter allowed five Rockies runs in 6 1/3 innings and the Phillies couldn't recover in this 5-3 loss.

What It Means:  The Rockies completed a four-game sweep and the loss denied the Phillies' ability to finish the season with a winning record, in spite of being 15 games over .500 on August 5th.

What Happened:  Arrieta finished off his inconsistent season with six innings of work, allowing a pair of home runs.  The loss dropped his record to 10-11.  Hunter was either effective this season or horribly ineffective, with seemingly no middle ground.  Jose Bautista (2) and Carlos Santana (24) homered for the Phillies, and the offense went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

Featured Card:  Arrieta gets the card by default, and his return to a somewhat dominating pitcher in 2019 would be welcome.

Game 158 - 2018 Phillies Team Issue 2 #22 Gabe Kapler MG

Rockies 14Phillies 0
Game 158 - Wednesday Night, September 26th in Denver
Record - 78-80, 3rd place, 11 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  Nick Pivetta got hit hard and the Phillies offense took the night off in this 14-0 demoralizing loss to the surging Rockies.

What It Means:  This is a family-friendly blog, but I feel it's important to pass along manager Gabe Kapler's assessment of this game, "Just a sh*tty performance all the way around."  Post game analyst Ben Davis stated the obvious following the loss, saying, "I think you're looking at a team that has quit."  Finally, Matt Gelb Tweeted that the last time the Phillies had allowed 10+ runs in three consecutive games was June 1-4, 1958.

What Happened:  Pivetta allowed six runs in 4 2/3 innings, while relievers Victor Arano (0 innings, 3 runs) and Yacksel Rios (1 2/3 innings, 4 runs) struggled as well.  The Phillies had four hits, with their biggest hit (?) coming on a pinch-double from Pedro Florimon.

Featured Card:  This is a less than ideal way for the Phillies to finish up Kapler's first year as the skipper.

Game 157 - 2018 Topps National Basebll Card Day SGA #PH-2 Odubel Herrera

Rockies 10, Phillies 3
Game 157 - Tuesday Night, September 25th in Denver
Record - 78-79, 3rd place, 11 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  Vince Velasquez surrendered six runs in a 3 2/3-inning outing as the Rockies continued their dismantling of the Phillies.

What It Means:  The loss dropped the Phillies below .500 for the first time since the 9th game of the season, back on April 9th, when they were 4-5.

What Happened:  Velasquez earned his 12th loss of the year.  Relievers Enyel De Los Santos and Drew Anderson each allowed a pair of additional Rockies runs.  Scott Kingery had two doubles in the losing effort.

Featured Card:  Odubel Herrera has earned the bulk of my wrath over the latter part of the season, and Todd Zolecki Tweeted during this game that Herrera is hitting just .216 since May.  He didn't run out a ground ball in the first inning and he straight-up dropped a ball in right field in the second.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Final Look at 2017-2018 Phillies Player Moves

2019 Chachi Preview #2
2019 Chachi Preview #3
2019 Chachi Preview #4
2019 Chachi Preview #5
As the season continues for 9 teams (sorry Cubs fans), I wanted to take one last look back at the transactions that shaped the 2018 Phillies.  This is a listing of every player who joined or left the organization between the final pitch of the 2017 season and the final pitch of the 2018 season.  I'm not showing minor league moves here, only players who spent time with the Phillies in 2017 or 2018.  It's an interesting list, but I sincerely hope this coming offseason's list is more impressive.

Moving On - 2017-2018 Offseason
  • Henderson Alvarez - rhp (10/4/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster, elected free agency and signed with Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican League, 3/16/18.
  • Ty Kelly - 2b-of (10/4/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster, elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the New York Mets, 1/22/18.
  • Kevin Siegrist - lhp (10/4/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster, elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2/24/18.
  • Andres Blanco - inf (11/2/17) - Elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent with the San Francisco Giants, 1/30/18.
  • Clay Buchholz - rhp (11/2/17) - Elected free agency and signed as a minor league free agent
    with the Kansas City Royals, 3/20/18.
  • Hyun Soo Kim - of (11/2/17) - Elected free agency, signed with the LG Twins of the Korea Baseball Organization, 12/18/17.
  • Daniel Nava - of (11/2/17) - Elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates, 2/6/18.
  • Jesen Therrien - rhp (11/6/17) - Outrighted off 40-man roster and elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers, 11/29/17.
  • Michael Mariot - rhp (11/6/17) - Elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the San Diego Padres, 11/29/17.
  • Colton Murray - rhp (11/6/17) - Elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the Tampa Bay Rays, 12/14/17.
  • Brock Stassi - 1b (11/6/17) - Elected free agency, signed as a minor league free agent with the Minnesota Twins, 12/7/17.
  • Cameron Perkins - of (12/11/17) - Claimed off waivers by the Seattle Mariners.
  • Freddy Galvis - ss (12/15/17) - Traded to the San Diego Padres for Enyel De Los Santos.
  • Tommy Joseph - 1b (3/19/18) - Claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers.
  • Cameron Rupp - c (3/26/18) - Released and signed as a minor league free agent with the Texas Rangers, 4/3/18.
  • Ricardo Pinto - rhp (3/27/18) - Traded to the Chicago White Sox for future considerations.
Coming Back - 2017-2018 Offseason
  • Pedro Florimon - inf-of (11/13/17) - Signed to a minor league contract.
New Additions - 2017-2018 Offseason
  • Pat Neshek - rhp (12/15/17) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Colorado Rockies.
  • Tommy Hunter - rhp (12/15/17) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • Enyel De Los Santos - rhp (12/15/17) - Acquired from the San Diego Padres for Freddy Galvis.
  • Carlos Santana - 1b (12/20/17) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Cleveland Indians.
  • Drew Hutchison - rhp (2/15/18) - Signed as a minor league free agent formerly with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
  • Jake Arrieta - rhp (3/12/18) - Signed as a free agent formerly with the Chicago Cubs.
Arrived During the 2018 Season
  • Trevor Plouffe (4/23/18) - Signed as a minor league free agent, formerly with the Texas Rangers organization.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera (7/27/18) - Acquired from the New York Mets for Franklyn Kilome.
  • Wilson Ramos (7/31/18) - Acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays for a player to be named later or cash.
  • Aaron Loup (7/31/18) - Acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for Jacob Waguespack.
  • Justin Bour (8/10/18) - Acquired with cash from the Miami Marlins for McKenzie Mills.
  • Luis Avilan (8/22/18) - Acquired from the Chicago White Sox for Felix Paulino.
  • Jose Bautista (8/28/18) - Acquired from the New York Mets for a player to be named later or cash.
Departed During the 2018 Season
  • Drew Hutchison (6/5/18) - Designated for assignment and elected free agency.
  • Hoby Milner (7/15/18) - Sold to the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • Zac Curtis (7/31/18) - Designated for assingnment and claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers, 8/7/18.
  • Jake Thompson (8/14/18) - Traded to the Milwaukee Brewers for cash considerations.
  • Mark Leiter, Jr. (9/1/18) - Claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays.
  • Ben Lively (9/5/18) - Claimed off waivers by the Kansas City Royals.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Game 156 - 2018 Topps Archives #276 Aaron Altherr

Rockies 10, Phillies 1
Game 156 - Monday Night, September 24th in Denver
Record - 78-78, 3rd place, 10 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  The Rockies blew out the free falling Phillies in this 10-1 loss.

What It Means:  The team's fifth loss in a row dropped them to .500 for the first time since the 10th game of the season back on April 10th.  The descent has been long and excruciating.  I watched very little of this game.

What Happened:  Zach Eflin's outing was limited to 2 2/3 innings, and his final line shows five runs allowed on five hits.  Yacksel Rios was also hit hard, giving up three more runs in the 4th.  Rhys Hoskins hit his 33rd home run for the Phillies' only run.

Featured Card:  Aaron Altherr's season ended prematurely when the left fielder ran full bore into the left field wall trying to track a fly ball that ended up clearing the fence, resulting in a two-run home run for David Dahl.  Altherr left the game with a right big toe sprain, right knee contusion and concussion symptoms.  It was a lost season for Altherr, as he hit just .181 in 105 games with 8 home runs and 38 RBIs.

Game 155 - 2018 Topps Base Variations #11 Aaron Nola

Braves 2, Phillies 1
Game 155 - Sunday Afternoon, September 23rd in Atlanta
Record - 78-77, 2nd place, 9 1/2 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Nola was saddled with the loss after reaching the 200 inning plateau for the season.

What It Means:  A funny thing happened during the final week of the regular season and in the midst of the final Phillies free fall of 2018.  I stopped wanting to write about them every day, so I stopped.  I'm a week behind with these now way-outdated game summary posts but in the interest of having a complete record of this painful season, I'm going to power through.  I'll most likely do this in small doses.

This win completed the four-game series sweep by the Braves.

What Happened:  Nola allowed two runs on four hits in his six inning outing.  The lone Phillies run came on a Scott Kingery solo home run (8) in the 3rd.

Featured Card:  This is one of the many short-printed "base variations" to be found within the Topps flagship set this year, featuring a different photo than that used for the non-short-printed base cards.  I'd guess this picture is a few years' old given the short length of Nola's hair.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Series Preview - Braves at Phillies: September 28th to September 30th

2018 Chachi Fan Favorites #44
2018 Chachi Fan Favorites #45
Friday and Saturday 7:05, Sunday 3:05
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

Braves 89-70, 1st place in the N.L. East, 8 games ahead of the Nationals
Phillies 78-81, 3rd place in the N.L. East, 11 games behind the Braves

Braves Probables:  Mike Foltynewicz (12-10, 2.88), Anibal Sanchez (7-6, 2.96), Kevin Gausman (5-2, 2.80)
Phillies Probables:  Jerad Eickhoff (0-0, 9.00), Aaron Nola (16-6, 2.45), Ranger Suarez (1-1, 6.00)

At the Ballpark:  The annual Fan Appreciation Day will be held on Sunday afternoon with all fans receiving a 2019 Phillies schedule Fathead.

Braves Leaders
Average:  Freddie Freeman - .308
Runs:  Ozzie Albies - 104
Home Runs:  Ronald Acuna, Jr. - 26
RBIs:  Freddie Freeman - 95
Stolen Bases:  Ender Inciarte - 28

Wins:  Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb - 12
ERA:  Mike Foltynewicz - 2.88
Strikeouts:  Mike Foltynewicz - 193
Saves:  Arodys Vizcaino - 16

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Odubel Herrera - .256
Runs:  Cesar Hernandez - 89
Home Runs:  Rhys Hoskins - 33
RBIs:  Rhys Hoskins - 94
Stolen Bases:  Cesar Hernandez - 19

Wins:  Aaron Nola - 16
ERA:  Aaron Nola - 2.45
Strikeouts:  Aaron Nola - 216
Saves:  Seranthony Dominguez - 14

It's finally, and mercifully, over.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Series Preview - Phillies at Rockies: September 24th to September 27th

2018 Chachi Fan Favorites #42
2018 Chachi Fan Favorites #43
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 8:40, Thursday 3:10
Coors Field - Denver, CO

Phillies 78-77, 2nd place in the N.L. East, 9 1/2 games behind the Braves
Rockies 85-70, 2nd place in the N.L. West, 1 1/2 games behind the Dodgers

Phillies Probables:  Zach Eflin (11-7, 4.09), Vince Velasquez (9-11, 4.59), Nick Pivetta (7-13, 4.58), Jack Arrieta (10-10, 3.94)
Rockies Probables:  Jon Gray (11-8, 5.07), Chad Bettis (5-2, 5.18), German Marquez (13-10, 3.91), Antonio Senzatela (6-6, 4.52)

At the Ballpark:  There are no scheduled giveaways for this series.  The Rockies hope to remain in the Wild Card hunt while the Phillies will attempt to score more than a run per game.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Odubel Herrera - .256
Runs:  Cesar Hernandez - 88
Home Runs:  Rhys Hoskins - 32
RBIs:  Rhys Hoskins - 93
Stolen Bases:  Cesar Hernandez - 19

Wins:  Aaron Nola - 16
ERA:  Aaron Nola - 2.45
Strikeouts:  Aaron Nola - 216
Saves:  Seranthony Dominguez - 14

Rockies Leaders
Average:  Nolan Arenado - .293
Runs:  Charlie Blackmon - 111
Home Runs:  Nolan Arenado - 34
RBIs:  Nolan Arenado - 103
Stolen Bases:  Trevor Story - 26

Wins:  Kyle Freeland - 16
ERA:  Kyle Freeland - 2.84
Strikeouts:  German Marquez - 210
Saves:  Wade Davis - 41

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Game 154 - The Worst Phillies Baseball Card of 2018

2018 Topps Now Road to Opening Day Bonus #ODB-20
Braves 5, Phillies 3
Game 154 - Saturday Afternoon, September 22nd in Atlanta
Record - 78-76, 2nd place, 8 1/2 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  Jake Arrieta lasted just two innings and Mike Foltynewicz no-hit the offense through six innings, as the Braves dropped the Phillies, 5-3.

What It Means:  The loss clinched the N.L. division pennant for the Braves.

What Happened:  This was the shortest outing of Arrieta's career in what should be considered a bust of a season for the offseason acquisition.  The Phillies rallied for three runs in the 8th with a two-run single from Cesar Hernandez and an RBI-single from Rhys Hoskins.  Maikel Franco flew out to left fielder Ronald Acuna, Jr. to end the game and eliminate the Phillies in the division.

Featured Card:  The Phillies have made me cranky and I thought this was as good an opportunity as any to showcase what I believe to be the worst Phillies baseball card of 2018.  I'm not one to complain too often about Topps, but it's no secret within the hobby that their quality control department is sometimes lacking and it's seemingly getting worse every year.  Their unintentional errors range from presenting incorrect information on the backs of some cards to using the wrong font or design elements when reproducing their vintage designs.

The background for this particular card is that Topps produced a 15-card set during spring training for each team and sold the team sets exclusively on their website for $50.  If you purchased a team's set, bonus cards would be unlocked for certain milestones, including your team being in first place in their division at the All-Star break.  As I purchased a Phillies team set in February, and since the Phillies were in first place way back on July 15th, I was rewarded a bonus card.

This is that bonus card, which I received on August 16th.  The photo used for the card is clearly from last season as it features Aaron Altherr (optioned to Triple-A shortly after the break), Odubel Herrera and Michael Saunders, released by the Phillies on June 23, 2017, a full year before the date this card celebrates.  This baseball card, much like the 2018 Phillies season, makes me irrationally angry.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Game 153 - 2018 Phillies Team Issue 2 Update #40 Wilson Ramos

Braves 6Phillies 5
Game 153 - Friday Night, September 21st in Atlanta
Record - 78-75, 2nd place, 7 1/2 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  It was Pat Neshek's turn to implode as the Braves won 6-5 behind a deflating five-run seventh inning.

What It Means:  The Braves magic number to clinch the division is two.  The Phillies will need to go at least 4-5 the rest of the way to clinch a winning season, which would be their first since 2011.

What Happened:  The Phillies took a 3-1 lead in the 7th when Ronald Acuna, Jr. misplayed a ball in left, leading to a two-run double from Wilson Ramos.  Jose Bautista followed that with a pinch-hit single to make it 4-1.  Pat Neshek and Luis Avilan combined to allow five runs on five hits and a pair of walks while recording just two outs in the bottom of the 7th.

Featured Card:  I'm not sure if he'll be back next year or not, but Ramos has had a nice run since being activated on August 15th.  In 27 games for the Phillies, Ramos is hitting .390 (30 for 77) with 17 RBIs.  10 of his 30 hits have been for extra bases.

Game 152 - 2013 Bowman Platinum Prospects #BPP59 Jesse Biddle

Braves 8, Phillies 3
Game 152 - Thursday Night, September 20th in Atlanta
Record - 78-74, 2nd place, 6 1/2 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  A four-run eighth inning doomed the Phillies and hastened their now inevitable elimination from the postseason.

What It Means:  I'm ready for the offseason.  It's tough to watch these games and the joy experienced when watching (some) games earlier in the season has all but evaporated.  And I can't help but wonder how many more games Pete Mackanin would have won with this same flawed roster.

What Happened:  Jorge Alfaro singled in the 3rd to score Asdrubal Cabrera and tie up the game at 3-3.  The game stayed tied until the 7th when Tommy Hunter allowed back-to-back doubles to Dansby Swanson and Lucas Duda, giving the Braves a 4-3 lead.  Luis Garcia entered in the 8th, did not retire a batter, and allowed four more runs to score.

Featured Card:  Jesse Biddle was the beneficiary of the win for the Braves, as he had recorded the final two outs in the top of the 7th.  I'm sincerely glad to see Biddle finding success, but I just wish he had found it while wearing red pinstripes.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Game 151 - 2018 Topps Big League Star Caricature Reproductions #SCR-RH Rhys Hoskins

Phillies 4, Mets 0
Game 151 - Wednesday Night, September 19th in Philadelphia
Record - 78-73, 2nd place, 5 1/2 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  Zach Eflin pitched five shutout innings while Rhys Hoskins and Odubel Herrera both homered in this 4-0 win over the Mets.

What It Means:  The Phillies have their second series win in a row and they head to Atlanta to start a crucial four-game series with the Braves.  Realistically, the Phillies need to sweep the Braves or at least take 3 out of 4 to have any chance of a postseason appearance.  It's been an interesting season, to say the least, and this may be as close to experiencing playoff games that the Phillies get this year.

What Happened:  Eflin picked up his 11th win and struck out a career-high 9 batters.  Hoskins homered (32) in the 1st to get the Phillies on the board and Herrera added a two-run home run (22) in the 4th.  Jose Bautista contributed a pinch-double in the 5th, driving in Carlos Santana with the 4th run.

Featured Card:  As pointed out on Phillies Twitter, Hoskins' home run gave him 50 for his career making him the second-fastest Phillies player to that mark and the seventh fastest in the history of baseball.  Hoskins hit his 50th in his 192nd game while it took Ryan Howard only 182 games.