Friday, July 21, 2017

Phillies Missing Links of the 1990s - #14 Bronson Heflin

Bronson Wayne Heflin
Relief Pitcher

On August 1, 1996, the Phillies purchased the contracts of two players from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, adding them to the 40-man roster.  In need of a pitcher and a position player, the players purchased were prospects Scott Rolen and Bronson Heflin.  Rolen would win the Rookie of the Year Award in 1997 and go on to be a seven-time All-Star and an eight-time Gold Glove winner.  Heflin would appear in three games in relief for the Phillies, only to be optioned back to Scranton when the Phillies needed a starting pitcher and Matt Beech was recalled.  Those three games were to be the only three big league games of Heflin's professional career.

Heflin pitched in 1997 and part of 1998 in Scranton before moving on to the Cardinals and Pirates organizations along with a stint in independent ball between 1998 and 2000.  It's strange the Phillies didn't bring back Heflin for a return trip to the majors in 1997 when he appeared in 35 games for the Red Barons with an impressive 2.28 ERA.

Bats:  Right  Throws:  Right  Height:  6'3"  Weight:  195
Born:  August 29, 1971, Clarksville, TN
Drafted:  Drafted by the Phillies in the 37th round of the 1994 amateur player draft.
Major League Teams:  Phillies 1996
Professional Affiliations:  Phillies 1994-1998; St. Louis Cardinals 1998; Madison Black Wolf (independent) 1999-2000; Pittsburgh Pirates 2000

Phillies Career
3 games, 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 6 2/3 innings pitched, 4 strikeouts
Acquired:  Via draft
Debut:  August 1, 1996 (Game 2) - Pitched the eighth and ninth innings in a 7-1 loss to the Cardinals, surrendering a solo home run to Ron Gant.
Final Game:  August 7, 1996
Departed:  Left the Phillies organization at some point during the 1998 season and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

1994 Classic
Batavia Clippers #6
1996 Best
Reading Phillies #6
1997 Best Scranton/Wilkes-Barre
Red Barons #10
1998 Q Cards Scranton/Wilkes-
Barre Red Barons #15
5 Heflin Baseball Cards in My Collection
1994 Classic Batavia Clippers #6
1996 Best Reading Phillies #6
1996 Fleer Excel #203
1997 Best Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons #10
1998 Q Cards Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons #15

Other Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  N/A
First Topps Base Card:  N/A
Last Mainstream Card:  N/A
Other Notable Cards:  1995 Fleer/ProCards #212

Sources:  Baseball Reference and The Trading Card Database

Phillies Missing Links of the 1990s
1 Louie Meadows
2 Dave LaPoint
3 Darrin Chapin
4 Mickey Weston
5 Bob Wells
6 Tom Edens
7 Omar Olivares
10 Chuck Ricci
11 Dennis Springer
12 Manny Martinez
13 Rafael Quirico
14 Bronson Heflin
15 Glenn Dishman
16 Rob Butler
17 Mike Robertson
18 Matt Whiteside
19 Robert Dodd
20 Joel Bennett
21 Joe Grahe
22 Domingo Cedeno
23 Torey Lovullo

This is a continuing series looking at those players who spent time with the Phillies but possess no baseball card proof of their time in Philadelphia.  In some cases, the First and Last Mainstream cards listed above have been subjectively chosen if multiple cards were released in that year.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

2017 Stadium Club #254 Maikel Franco

Phillies 10, Marlins 3
Game 93 - Wednesday Afternoon, July 19th in Miami
Record - 32-61, 5th place

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies offense stunned the Marlins with a 20-hit performance in this 10-3 victory.

What It Means:  It's a series win!  Following a day off on Thursday, the Brewers come to town for a three-game weekend series.

What Happened:  This was a nice surprise.  Daniel Nava went 4 for 5, with Cesar Hernandez, Freddy Galvis and Tommy Joseph all having three-hit days.  Nick Williams hit a pair of triples, becoming the first Phillies rookie with two triples in a game since Jimmy Rollins did it on June 24, 2001.

Featured Card:  Maikel Franco had a pair of hits, including a two-run double off Marlins pitcher Vance Worley.  This is the newest Franco card in my collection from the just released Stadium Club.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

2017 Topps Now Road to Opening Day #OD-284 Vince Velasquez

Phillies 5, Marlins 2
Game 92 - Tuesday Night, July 18th in Miami
Record - 31-61, 5th place, 25 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Vince Velasquez returned to the pitching rotation and was aided by home runs from Maikel Franco and Nick Williams in this 5-2 win over the Marlins.

What It Means:  This was an enjoyable Phillies game, which is a true rarity these days.

What Happened:  Velasquez allowed two runs (one earned) in his six innings, recovering nicely from some early inning trouble.  Cameron Perkins tied the game twice with two separate RBI singles in the second and fourth.  Franco broke a 2-2 tie with his home run (14) in the eighth, while Williams added insurance with his two-run home run (3) in the ninth.

Featured Card:  I broke down and purchased a Topps Now Road to Opening Day set before the season started, and I've already blocked the price I paid for the set out of my mind.  Each team received a 15-card set with photos from spring training and featuring in some cases the first cards of players in their new uniforms.  As an incentive to purchasing the set, if any Phillies player throws a no-hitter or hits for the cycle this season, I'll receive a special bonus card.  The odds of this happening seem slimmer by the day.

Transaction:  Velasquez was activated off the disabled list and Mark Leiter, Jr. was optioned to Lehigh Valley.

2016 Topps Heritage Minor League 1967 Topps Stickers #7 Nick Williams

Marlins 6, Phillies 5 (10)
Game 91 - Monday Night, July 17th in Miami
Record - 30-61, 5th place, 25 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The Phils battled back, but Dee Gordon walked it off with a game-winning single in the 10th off Mark Leiter, Jr.

What It Means:  No trades yet.  Dugout Hug Watch is in full effect.

What Happened:  Jerad Eickhoff had a few rough innings in his six-inning start, ultimately allowing five runs on six hits while striking out eight.  Nick Williams continued swinging a hot bat, collecting two more hits including a two-run double in the third.

Giancarlo Stanton (future Phillie?) had two home runs for the Marlins.

Featured Card:  Williams has been a bright spot for the Phillies the past few weeks, and here's a fun card of his from last year's Topps Heritage Minor League set.  It's not a sticker, but it pays tribute to the original 1967 Topps Stickers design.

Transaction:  Aaron Altherr's ailing hamstring was worse than originally thought and he was placed on the disable list.  Cesar Hernandez was activated, taking his place on the roster.  Hernandez returned to the lead-off spot, going 1 for 3 along with a sacrifice fly in the seventh to tie up the game.

Final 2017 Chachi Archives Cards - Hellickson & Williams

2017 Chachi Archives #17
2017 Chachi Archives #18
Phillies 5, Brewers 2
Game 90 - Sunday Afternoon, July 16th in Milwaukee
Record - 30-60, 5th place, 24 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Nick Williams hit his first career grand slam and Jeremy Hellickson pitched well in what could one of his final starts with the Phillies (?) in this 5-2 win over the Brewers.

What It Means:  Once again, the win saved the Phils from being swept in the series and they headed to Miami following the game to open a three-game series with the Marlins.

What Happened:  Hellickson pitched five innings, allowing a two-run home run to Brett Phillips in the fifth.  Hector Neris allowed a pair of hits in the ninth but managed to record his eighth save.  The Phils scored first in the fifth when Odubel Herrera's ground rule double drove home Ty Kelly.

Featured Cards:  This should do it for the 2017 Chachi Archives insert set, unless the Phillies have another game later this year wearing throw-back uniforms.  For his efforts, Williams is the only player will two cards in the series.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Phillies Missing Links of the 1990s - #13 Rafael Quirico

Rafael Octavio (Dottin) Quirico
Starting Pitcher

When starting pitcher Sid Fernandez was placed on the disabled list on June 24, 1996 with a left elbow injury and with a double header scheduled the following day, manager Jim Fregosi needed an emergency starting pitcher.  Rafael Quirico got the nod to start game one in Cincinnati, and it did not go well.  In the first inning, Quirico allowed four runs on three hits and a pair of walks.  He allowed three more runs in the second on a hit and three more walks before mercifully being pulled.  It was to be his first and last appearance in the majors.

Quirico spent nine seasons in the minors with the Yankees, Phillies and Angels organizations.

Bats:  Left  Throws:  Left  Height:  6'3"  Weight:  170
Born:  September 7, 1969, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Signed:  Signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent, May 15, 1987
Major League Teams:  Phillies 1996
Professional Affiliations:  New York Yankees 1987-1995; Phillies 1996; New York Yankees 1996; Anaheim Angels 1997

Phillies Career
1 game, 0-1, 37.80 ERA, 1 2/3 innings, 4 hits, 7 runs, 5 walks, 1 strikeout
Acquired:  Signed as a minor league free agent formerly with the New York Yankees, April 16, 1996
Debut:  June 25, 1996 - Started against the Reds, allowing a two-run home run to Bret Boone and a bases-clearing double to Eric Davis.
Final Game:  June 25, 1996
Departed:  Released, August 12, 1996 and signed back with the Yankees, August 15, 1996.

1991 ProCards #3057
1992 Upper Deck Minors #229
1994 Fleer/ProCards #2953
1996 Best Reading Phillies #11
1 Quirico Baseball Card in My Collection
First Card:  1996 Best Reading Phillies #11
Last Card:  1996 Best Reading Phillies #11

Other Baseball Cards
First Mainstream Card:  N/A
First Topps Base Card:  N/A
Last Mainstream Card:  N/A
Other Notable Cards:  1990 ProCards #3371, 1991 ProCards #3057, 1992 Upper Deck Minors #229, 1994 Fleer/ProCards #2953, 1997 Best Midland Angels #22

Sources:  Baseball Reference and The Trading Card Database

Phillies Missing Links of the 1990s
1 Louie Meadows
2 Dave LaPoint
3 Darrin Chapin
4 Mickey Weston
5 Bob Wells
6 Tom Edens
7 Omar Olivares
10 Chuck Ricci
11 Dennis Springer
12 Manny Martinez
13 Rafael Quirico
14 Bronson Heflin
15 Glenn Dishman
16 Rob Butler
17 Mike Robertson
18 Matt Whiteside
19 Robert Dodd
20 Joel Bennett
21 Joe Grahe
22 Domingo Cedeno
23 Torey Lovullo

This is a continuing series looking at those players who spent time with the Phillies but possess no baseball card proof of their time in Philadelphia.  In some cases, the First and Last Mainstream cards listed above have been subjectively chosen if multiple cards were released in that year.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Series Preview - Phillies at Marlins: July 17th to July 19th

Monday and Tuesday 7:10, Wednesday 12:10
Marlins Park - Miami, FL

Phillies 30-60, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 24 1/2 games behind the Nationals
Marlins 41-49, 4th Place in the N.L. East, 13 1/2 games behind the Nationals

Phillies Probables:  Jerad Eickhoff (1-7, 4.63), Vince Velasquez (2-5, 5.58), Nick Pivetta (2-5, 5.63)
Marlins Probables:  Tom Koehler (1-4, 8.00), Adam Conley (2-3, 7.53), Dan Straily (7-4, 3.32)

At the Ballpark:  It will presumably be a quiet three-game series in Miami as no giveaways are scheduled and as the Phillies try to make up some ground on the fourth place Marlins.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Aaron Altherr - .288
Runs:  Aaron Altherr and Cesar Hernandez - 40
Home Runs:  Tommy Joseph - 15
RBIs:  Maikel Franco - 47
Stolen Bases:  Howie Kendrick - 8

Wins:  Jeremy Hellickson and Aaron Nola - 6
ERA:  Jeremy Hellickson - 4.44
Strikeouts:  Aaron Nola - 88
Saves:  Hector Neris - 8

Marlins Leaders
Average:  Marcell Ozuna - .317
Runs:  Giancarlo Stanton - 61
Home Runs:  Giancarlo Stanton - 26
RBIs:  Marcell Ozuna - 70
Stolen Bases:  Dee Gordon - 32

Wins:  Dan Straily and Jose Urena - 7
ERA:  Dan Straily - 3.32
Strikeouts:  Dan Straily - 98
Saves:  A.J. Ramos - 17

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Gag Me with a Spoon! Phillies Continue to Lose, but Look Good Doing It

2017 Chachi Archives #15
2017 Chachi Archives #16
Brewers 3, Phillies 2
Game 89 - Saturday Night, July 15th in Milwaukee
Record - 29-60, 5th place, 24 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Nola turned in another solid outing and Odubel Herrera stayed hot, but Joaquin Benoit surrendered a go-ahead home run to Travis Shaw in the eighth as the Brewers won, 3-2.

What It Means:  Something's got to give.  I'm actively rooting for the Phillies to complete a massive amount of trades in the coming weeks if for no other reason than it will give us some new players to watch.  The current crop does not play very good baseball.

What Happened:  Nola struck out seven in his six innings of work, allowing two runs on seven hits. Pat Neshek pitched another scoreless inning, dropping his ERA to 1.24.  Benoit dropped to 1-4.

Herrera had a pair of extra-base hits - a solo home run (8) in the seventh and a two-out double in the ninth.  He'd be stranded at second when Cameron Rupp struck out to end the ballgame.

Featured Cards:  The Phillies wore their awesome baby blue throw-back road uniforms again, allowing me to add a few more cards to the limited edition Chachi Archives set.  Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure posed pre-game with his former Brewers teammates, Rollie Fingers and Pete Vuckovich.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Totally Awesome! 2017 Chachi Archives Continues!

2017 Chachi Archives #12
2017 Chachi Archives #13
2017 Chachi Archives #14
Brewers 9, Phillies 6
Game 88 - Friday Night, July 14th in Milwaukee
Record - 29-59, 5th place, 23 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Nick Pivetta suffered though an 8-run second inning as the Brewers demolished the Phillies, 9-6.

What It Means:  This game actually could have been a lot uglier as the first place Brewers are one of the better hitting teams in baseball.

What Happened:  The Phillies scored two quick runs in the first, and for a brief moment it seemed as if the second half of the season would be different.  And then the bottom of the second arrived. Pivetta ended up throwing five innings, allowing nine runs on seven hits, including two home runs in the second - a three-run home run to Orlando Arcia and a grand slam to Ryan Braun.

Odubel Herrera hit a two-run home run in the sixth.  Aaron Altherr, the team's best and hottest hitter, left the game in the fifth inning after injuring his hamstring running out a double.

Featured Cards:  The Brewers are celebrating their championship 1982 season all weekend and both teams are wearing throw-back uniforms.  This gives me a chance to expand the Chachi Archives set with three more cards and I'll add more throughout the weekend if good pictures are available.

I would be one happy fan if the Phillies went back to the baby blue road jerseys full time.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Series Preview - Phillies at Brewers: July 14th to July 16th

Friday 8:10, Saturday 7:10 and Sunday 2:10
Miller Park - Milwaukee, WI

Phillies 29-58, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 22 1/2 games behind the Nationals
Brewers 50-41, 1st Place in the N.L. Central, 5 1/2 games ahead of the Cardinals and Cubs

Phillies Probables:  Nick Pivetta (2-4, 4.73), Aaron Nola (6-6, 3.59), Jeremy Hellickson (5-5, 4.49)
Brewers Probables:  Zach Davies (10-4, 4.90), Jimmy Nelson (8-4, 3.30), Matt Garza (4-4, 3.98)

At the Ballpark:  The Phillies are lucky enough to be in town while the Brewers are celebrating their 1982 American League Championship year.  Both teams will wear throw-back jerseys tonight and the first 20,000 fans will receive a Paul Molitor replica jersey.  On Saturday, there will be a pregame ceremony honoring the 1982 Brewers team which will include former Phillies Don Money and Larry Hisle.

Finally on Sunday, all fans with receive a 1982 A.L. Championship replica ring.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Aaron Altherr - .284
Runs:  Cesar Hernandez - 40
Home Runs:  Tommy Joseph - 15
RBIs:  Maikel Franco - 45
Stolen Bases:  Howie Kendrick - 8

Wins:  Aaron Nola - 6
ERA:  Jeremy Hellickson - 4.49
Strikeouts:  Aaron Nola - 81
Saves:  Hector Neris - 7

Brewers Leaders
Average:  Travis Shaw - .299
Runs:  Eric Thames - 58
Home Runs:  Eric Thames - 23
RBIs:  Travis Shaw - 65
Stolen Bases:  Keon Broxton - 17

Wins:  Zach Davies - 10
ERA:  Jimmy Nelson - 3.30
Strikeouts:  Jimmy Nelson - 118
Saves:  Corey Knebel - 14

1982 Topps #93
1982 Topps #709
1982 Topps Appreciation:  As mentioned above, two former Phillies will be on-hand this weekend to help the Brewers celebrate the 35th anniversary of their last trip to the World Series.  Both Hisle (1968-1971) and Money (1968-1972) started their careers with the Phillies and they'd both go on to find greater success in the American League.  Here's what I wrote about the duo in a Brewers series preview post from 2012:
Larry Hisle came up with the Phillies in 1968 and appeared in 314 games with the club between 1968 and 1971.  His production from a successful 1969 season (.266, 20 home runs, 56 RBIs) significantly tailed off the next two years and the Phils traded him away to the Dodgers following the 1971 season for Tommy Hutton.  Hisle spent 1972 with the Dodgers top farm club and then bounced from the Cardinals to the Twins prior to the 1973 campaign.  He found success in the American League, serving primarily as a DH for the Twins (1973-1977) and Brewers (1978-1982). 
Don Money was Hisle's teammate first in Philly and then with the Brewers.  Originally a shortstop, the Phils moved him to third base to make room for rookie Larry Bowa in 1970.  He was dealt to the Brewers following the 1972 season to make room for rookie Mike Schmidt.  With the Brewers between  1973 and 1983, Money was named to four All-Star teams and he earned the nickname "Brooks" for his fine defense.  Over his 16-year career, he tallied 176 home runs.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

2017 Chachi #47 Pat Neshek AS

American League 2, National League 1 (10)
All-Star Game - Tuesday Night, July 11th in Miami

One Sentence Summary:  Robinson Cano homered in the top of the 10th inning off Wade Davis to break a 1-1 tie and send the American League to the eventual win in Miami.

What It Means:  Don't get me wrong, I still love the All-Star Game, but the boring game coupled with Fox's ridiculous in-game stunts left me a little jaded.  Alex Rodriguez patrolled the infield before an inning, interviewing All-Stars attempting to warm up.  Players were mic'd up and interviewed in the field during live at-bats.  I wanted to watch a baseball game.

But the thing that really upset me this year is that I completely missed the pre-game team introductions.  This has always been my favorite part of the game, and it traditionally starts no sooner than 8pm.  Switching over to Fox right at 8pm, the teams were already on the field and the National Anthem was about to begin.  I completely missed all introductions.  Bummed.

What Happened:  The low-scoring affair highlighted the top pitching talent from both leagues.  The A.L. scored first on a Miguel Sano RBI single in the fifth.  Yadier Molina homered in the sixth to tie it up and Cano broke the tie in the 10th with his blast.

Featured Card:  Once again, the Phillies had only one All-Star, sending reliever Pat Neshek to the game.  Neshek entered in the second inning after starting pitching Max Scherzer threw just one frame.  He allowed a hit to Justin Smoak in between retiring Carlos Correa, Corey Dickerson and Salvador Perez.

Memory Lane
From 1996 - Attending the All-Star Game at The Vet
From 2009 - All-Star Game memories
2010 All-Star Game - N.L. 3, A.L. 1 in Anaheim
2011 All-Star Game - N.L. 5, A.L. 1 in Phoenix
2012 All-Star Game - N.L. 8, A.L. 0 in Kansas City
2013 All-Star Game - A.L. 3, N.L. 0 in Flushing
2014 All-Star Game - A.L. 5, N.L. 3 in Minneapolis
2015 All-Star Game - A.L. 6, N.L. 3 in Cincinnati
2016 All-Star Game - A.L. 4, N.L. 2 in San Diego

Monday, July 10, 2017

Righteous! 2017 Chachi Archives Cards . . . with a Twist!

Phillies 7, Padres 1
Game 87 - Sunday Afternoon, July 9th in Philadelphia
Record - 29-58, 5th place, 22 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies blasted six (!) home runs in this 7-1 win over the Padres as Jerad Eickhoff notched his first win of the season.

What It Means:  The first half of the 2017 season is thankfully in the books for the Phillies.

What Happened:  Eickhoff had it easy in this game, getting plenty of run support on the way to his first victory.  He struck out eight in his five innings.  Home runs came from Nick Williams (his first), Cameron Rupp (6), two from Freddy Galvis (9 and 10), Odubel Herrera (6) and Aaron Altherr (14). It was the first time the Phillies had six home runs in a game since August 11, 2004.  Homering that day were Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Jim Thome (2) and pitcher Randy Wolf (2).

Featured Card:  This is a first for my custom Chachi series of cards, and I'm not sure what took me so long.  Since my custom card sets' inception in 2005, every card I've created has featured a past Topps design.  I wanted to use a 1983 baseball card design for this weekend's retro uniform games, but I didn't like the way the 1983 Topps customs were looking.  The big picture was fine, but the small portrait picture looked silly with the modern "P" on the player's hats.  (And I had already produced a full "set" of Chachi cards back in 2011 using this design.)

So I went with another option from 1983, the design of the 1983 Donruss set.  Using the photos from Friday night and Sunday afternoon that I could find from the game, I created an 11-card limited edition Chachi Archives set.  Now that a non-Topps set has made its debut within the Chachi family of cards, perhaps I'll branch out to other years and brands with future creations.

Transaction:  Ben Lively was optioned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to make room for the activated Eickhoff.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

2017 Topps Now #130 Aaron Altherr (Autographed)

Padres 2, Phillies 1
Game 86 - Saturday Afternoon, July 8th in Philadelphia
Record - 28-58, 5th place, 22 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Jhoulys Chacin out-dueled Aaron Nola as the Phillies fell yet again by one run.

What It Means:  As a Phillies fan, I'm definitely looking forward to the All-Star break.  By the time the Phillies take the field next Friday night, I think I'll be ready to watch them again.

What Happened:  Nola pitched eight innings, allowing two runs on four hits while striking out nine. Chacin's only blemish was a solo home run allowed to Maikel Franco.

Featured Card/Field Report:  Doug and I attended this game with my long-time friend Bill and his son Jackson.  It was Jackson's first Phillies game, and it was a thrill to watch him take it all in.  Doug once again stationed himself at the corner of the Phillies dugout and was able to obtain eight autographs!  His favorites of the bunch were this Aaron Altherr card and a minor league card signed by Nick Williams.

Also signing for Doug were Phillies broadcaster Gregg Murphy (again), Ty Kelly, Freddy Galvis, Jeremy Hellickson, Vince Velasquez and coach Mickey Morandini.  He's getting closer to his goal of having the entire Topps retail team set signed.

2008 Multi-Ad Lehigh Valley IronPigs #24 Les Walrond

Pirates 6, Phillies 3
Game 84 - Thursday Night, July 6th in Philadelphia
Record - 28-56, 5th place, 21 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  A three-run eighth inning from the Pirates doomed the Phillies in this 6-3 loss.

What It Means:  Joaquin Benoit was the bullpen culprit in this game, allowing the three eighth inning runs on four hits.

What Happened:  The Phillies had one runner in scoring position the entire game, as Chad Kuhl limited them to three runs (two earned) on six hits. Pirates left fielder Jose Osuna had three outfield assists, throwing out Odubel Herrera once and Aaron Altherr twice at second.  All three times the runners were trying to stretch singles into doubles.

Featured Card:  I know I'm totally reaching here, but the 2017 Phillies are a tough team to write about on a daily basis.  My sympathies to those writers who do this professionally.  The official Twitter account of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs pointed out that this was the 9th anniversary of Les Walrond striking out 17 batters in a game against Louisville.  Walrond appeared with the Phillies in six games in 2008 and had a 6.10 ERA in 10 1/3 innings.

2017 Phillies Team Issue #25 Daniel Nava

Pirates 5, Phillies 2
Game 83 - Wednesday Night, July 5th in Philadelphia
Record - 28-55, 5th place, 21 1/2 games behind the Nationals

Overdue and Unnecessary Post-Vacation Catch-Up, Part 9

One Sentence Summary:  Gerrit Cole pitched six solid innings and added a two-run single as the Phils fell easily to the Pirates, 5-2.

What It Means:  We traveled home on this day, ending what had been an amazing, fun and unforgettable trip to Walt Disney World and aboard the Disney Dream.  Already counting the days to next year's vacation . . .

What Happened:  Maikel Franco hit a two-run home run in the first inning (12) and then the offense took the rest of the day off.  Ben Lively was pulled after four innings and 84 pitches having allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits.  The unearned runs were due to Lively's own throwing error.

Featured Card:  Daniel Nava has been a pleasant surprise this season, and as one of the team's top hitters he's found himself in the lead-off spot in the batting order recently.  He had three hits in this game to raise his average to .313, and he's a leading candidate to be playing elsewhere for a contending team in the coming weeks.  Nava's sole Phillies baseball card to date can be found in the team-issued photo card set.

2016 Bowman Draft Chrome #BDC-128 Scott Kingery

Pirates 3, Phillies 0
Game 82 - Tuesday Afternoon, July 4th in Philadelphia
Record - 28-54, 5th place, 21 games behind the Nationals

Overdue and Unnecessary Post-Vacation Catch-Up, Part 8

One Sentence Summary:  Jameson Taillon and four Pirates relievers confused the Phillies offense in this 3-0 Independence Day loss.

What It Means:  This loss was the start of what is now a five-game losing streak.

What Happened:  Mark Leiter, Jr. had a decent outing, allowing two runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings.  The offense produced six hits and went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.

Featured Card:  Let's go with something positive.  Second baseman Scott Kingery was recently promoted to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where on this day he went 4 for 5, raising his average to .361. As of this writing, the 23-year-old top prospect is hitting .306 with four home runs in AAA, and he has 22 home runs overall this season.  He'll play in the Futures Game on Sunday afternoon along with fellow Phillies top prospect Rhys Hoskins.

2017 Phillies Team Issue #27 Aaron Nola

Phillies 4, Pirates 0
Game 81 - Monday Night, July 3rd in Philadelphia
Record - 28-53, 5th place, 20 games behind the Nationals

Overdue and Unnecessary Post-Vacation Catch-Up, Part 7

One Sentence Summary:  Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco both homered while Aaron Nola pitched a gem in this 4-0 series opening win against the Pirates.

What It Means:  And as of this writing, the Phillies haven't won since.

What Happened:  Galvis welcomed his new baby daughter in the morning and then hit a two-run home run in the first inning to get the Phillies on the board.  Franco added his own two-run home run in the third.

That was all the run support Nola would need as he threw seven strong innings, allowing four hits and striking out eight.

Featured Card:  Reader and fellow collector Rick recently e-mailed me that he had heard from a source that no second series team-issued photo card set would be produced this year due to the poor sales of the first series set.  This may not mean much to most people, but I'll be very disappointed if no second series set is ever produced.  This second set is usually the source of the sole Phillies baseball cards of some of the fringe players on the team (I'm looking at you, Ty Kelly) and to not produce the set would mean some of these guys will never appear on a Phillies baseball card.

The first set was produced right as the season was set to begin and features players in their spring training uniforms.  Back when there was still hope.  Before the dark times.

Watching the Phillies from Atlantis

Phillies 7Mets 1
Game 80 - Sunday Afternoon, July 2nd in Flushing
Record - 27-53, 5th place, 20 games behind the Nationals

Overdue and Unnecessary Post-Vacation Catch-Up, Part 6

One Sentence Summary:  Nick Pivetta delivered another impressive performance and Maikel Franco knocked in a pair of runs in this 7-1 win over the Mets.

What It Means:  I've written this sentence a lot this season:  The win ensured the Phillies avoided another sweep.

What Happened:  Pivetta allowed a run on one hit (a solo home run) in his seven innings of work. Franco started the scoring with a two-run double in the second.  Daniel Nava, now batting .300, had three hits and a pair of RBIs.

Featured Card:  It's Pivetta . . . In Action!

These late (and wholly unnecessary) game summary posts are due to the fact that we were away on vacation first at Walt Disney World and then on a 5-night Disney Cruise.  It was our first cruise as a family and we had an incredible time.  One of our excursions while on the Disney Dream was at Nassau, where we toured the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort.  We stopped for a few minutes in the casino to watch Tommy Joseph face Rafael Montero in the second inning.

2017 Phillies Team Issue #17 Pat Neshek

Mets 7, Phillies 6
Game 79 - Saturday Afternoon, July 1st in Flushing
Record - 26-53, 5th place, 20 games behind the Nationals

Overdue and Unnecessary Post-Vacation Catch-Up, Part 5

One Sentence Summary:  Pat Neshek suffered through his first rough outing with the Phillies as the Mets won, 7-6.

What It Means:  Neshek has been nearly unhittable this year, and he was recently named the team's solo representative at this year's All-Star Game. Checking the box score while on vacation, I had expected to see any other reliever besides Neshek as the culprit in this loss and it was shocking to see he had allowed three earned runs (including a two-run home run to Asdrubal Cabrera) in the seventh.

What Happened:  The comeback from the Mets wasted a four RBI day from Tommy Joseph, who doubled in the fifth to tie the game and hit a three-run home run (14) in the seventh to give the Phillies a temporary lead.

Featured Card:  Neshek has appeared in the Topps Heritage and Gypsy Queen sets this year with the Phillies, but this is his only baseball card to date featuring him in a non-Photoshopped actual Phillies uniform.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Bobby D. and Me

Padres 4, Phillies 3
Game 85 - Friday Night, July 7th in Philadelphia
Record - 28-57, 5th place, 22 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Hector Neris couldn't keep the Padres off on the board in the ninth and . . . WHO CARES ABOUT THE GAME, I MET BOB DERNIER.

What It Means:  The Phils have lost four in a row.

What Happened:  A strong outing from Nick Pivetta (7 innings, 3 runs, 9 strikeouts) was wasted as the offense went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.  Neris allowed the eventual winning run to score in the ninth on an Austin Hedges sacrifice fly.  Hedges had previously homered twice in the game.

Tommy Joseph hit his 15th home run, a solo shot, in the fourth. The game was interrupted in the seventh by a violent rain storm, resulting in a 90-minute rain delay.  A truly amazing fireworks displayed followed the disappointing ending to the game.

Featured Card/Field Report:  Doug and I attended this game and we were looking forward to the '80s Retro Night. Chewbacca and R2-D2 greeted us when we entered the ballpark, and the Phillies promotional team did a great job of maintaining the '80s theme throughout the night.  Pre-game, as has become his ritual, Doug stationed himself by the Phillies dugout and received autographs from Joseph, Andres Blanco and Phillies TV announcer Gregg Murphy.

But the big event was getting to meet Bob Dernier for the second time in my life.  I still haven't fully told the story of the first time I met Dernier, but it involves me playing catch with him in the outfield of Veterans Stadium during the summer of 1982.  He immediately became my favorite player, and I was devastated when Dernier was traded to the Cubs in 1984.  Walking around pre-game, Doug spied Dernier signing autographs in the concourse and I made a bee-line straight to his table.

We were the last two in line.  I told Dernier he was my all-time favorite player, he had played catch with me in 1982, I had written to him every year between 1982 and the end of his career and he had usually written back and that I couldn't believe I was meeting him again.  I babbled.  I stared uncomfortably.  Doug asked at one point if I was all right.

Dernier asked Doug if he was my son and who was his favorite player.  Doug replied Joseph was his current favorite player to which Dernier replied, "That's a great choice."  We asked for a photo and he graciously complied before being whisked away for a radio interview.  Soon afterwards, I watched as he threw out the first pitch to Larry Bowa.  Dernier shared hugs and lengthy conversations with both Bowa and Juan Samuel and I don't think I've stopped smiling yet.


Friday, July 7, 2017

2017 Topps Pro Debut #182 Nick Williams

Mets 2, Phillies 1
Game 78 - Friday Night, June 30th in Flushing
Record - 26-52, 5th place, 20 games behind the Nationals

Overdue and Unnecessary Post-Vacation Catch-Up, Part 4

One Sentence Summary:  Nick Williams made his Phillies debut, but Jacob deGrom ruined the party as the Mets prevailed, 2-1.

What It Means:  Despite the excitement surrounding Williams' arrival, the Phillies dropped the series opener to the Mets.  With many veterans expected to be dealt in the coming weeks, Williams could be the first of many top prospects to make their way onto the Phillies roster.

What Happened:  deGrom struck out 12 over seven innings of work, and allowed just three hits.  A Ty Kelly RBI single accounted for the sole Phillies run.

Featured Card/Phillies Debut:  2017 baseball cards for Williams can be found within the IronPigs' team set (just released), the Reading Top 30 Prospects set and the Topps Pro Debut set.  Williams became the ninth player to make his major league debut for the Phillies this season, and the 17th new Phillies player overall.

17.  Nick Williams (lf) - Started in left and batted sixth.  Struck out (called) against deGrom in the second, lined out to center in the fifth, singled to center off deGrom in the seventh and was on-deck when Maikel Franco grounded out to end the game.

Transaction:  Williams' promotion was necessitated by Howie Kendrick going back on the disabled list with his bad left hamstring.

Series Preview - Padres at Phillies: July 7th to July 9th

Friday 6:35, Saturday 4:05 and Sunday 1:35
Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

Padres 36-49, 4th Place in the N.L. West, 21 games behind the Dodgers
Phillies 28-56, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 21 1/2 games behind the Nationals

Padres Probables:  Clayton Richard (5-8, 4.85), Jhoulys Chacin (7-7, 4.52), Trevor Cahill (3-2, 2.96)
Phillies Probables:  Nick Pivetta (2-4, 4.85), Aaron Nola (6-5, 3.73), Jerad Eickhoff (0-7, 4.93)

At the Ballpark:  Despite the product on the field, it should be a great weekend to visit Citizens Bank Park!  Tonight is 1980s Retro Night and both teams will be wearing uniforms from their 1983 seasons.  Following the game will be the second of the two annual fireworks shows.  On Saturday, all fans will receive a Mike Schmidt bobblehead and kids on Sunday will receive a Retro Pullover Jacket.  Play ball!

Padres Leaders
Average:  Yangervis Solarte - .268
Runs:  Wil Myers - 44
Home Runs:  Wil Myers and Hunter Renfroe - 16
RBIs:  Wil Myers - 42
Stolen Bases:  Manuel Margot and Wil Myers - 9

Wins:  Jhoulys Chacin - 7
ERA:  Jhoulys Chacin - 4.52
Strikeouts:  Jhoulys Chacin - 82
Saves:  Brandon Maurer - 17

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Aaron Altherr - .280
Runs:  Cesar Hernandez - 40
Home Runs:  Tommy Joseph - 14
RBIs:  Maikel Franco - 44
Stolen Bases:  Howie Kendrick - 8

Wins:  Aaron Nola - 6
ERA:  Jeremy Hellickson - 4.49
Strikeouts:  Aaron Nola - 72
Saves:  Hector Neris - 7

1982 Topps #434
1982 Topps Traded #73T
1982 Topps Appreciation:  On May 22, 1983, the Padres and Phillies completed a trade sending Joe Lefebvre to the Phillies and Sid Monge to San Diego.  Monge had been one of the team's best relievers in 1982, compiling a record of 7-1 and a 3.75 ERA.  Filling Monge's hole in the bullpen was Willie Hernandez, also acquired that May 22nd from the Cubs.

The addition of Lefebvre was a huge boost to the club and he played a key role in helping the team win the National League pennant.  In 1983, he set or tied career highs in most offensive categories including average (.306), home runs (8) and RBIs (39).  Lefebvre played all over the field, starting 44 games in right field, 14 games in left field, six games at third base and coming in as a defensive replacement at catcher three times.  He was red hot in July, hitting .356.  Unfortunately, injuries derailed the rest of Lefebvre's career as he appeared in just 52 games in 1984, missed the entire 1985 season, and hit .111 in 14 games in 1986 before retiring.