Saturday, December 3, 2022

Philly Baseball Card Show Report - 1965 Topps Set COMPLETED

On Saturday morning, Doug and I made the hour-plus drive to the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center at Oaks for our first baseball card show since March.  The Philly Show, known formally as the Philadelphia Sports Collectors Show, moved from the Valley Forge Casino Resort to the facility at Oaks presumably to accommodate more dealers and more people.  The place was packed, and by the time we departed around 2pm, it was difficult to navigate our way to the exit.

We arrived in a steady rain right after doors opened at 9am, secured our autograph tickets and started walking the floor prior to the arrival of most of the crowd.  My goal for the show was simple:  Find the last four cards needed to complete our 1965 Topps set.  That goal was achieved and then some, as summarized below.
  • The first two cards needed to complete our set took a while to find, but I eventually added the Orlando Cepeda and Gordy Coleman cards within the first hour of walking around.  I still have no idea why the Coleman card proved to be so elusive.  Spying a great looking 1969 Topps Roberto Clemente card at the same table I found the Coleman card, I swung a deal to add that card as well.  I told the dealer the Clemente card marked by first big purchase for our new 1969 Topps set, which seemed to genuinely make his day.
  • We made a brief pitstop to the autograph section to secure signatures from Phillies outfielder Matt Vierling.  We were told no photos by Vierling's handler.  Photos were taken anyway.
  • With Cepeda and Coleman out of the way, I turned my attention to the Tony Perez rookie card and the BIG final card needed for our set - Mickey Mantle.  Perez came quickly, as I found a gorgeous version of the card for sale from dealer America's Pastime from Fair Lawn, New Jersey.  Again looking to bundle that card with another card needed for our 1969 Topps set, I set my sights on the Reggie Jackson rookie card.  What followed was my first of two successful negotiation sessions of the day, as I was able to add both cards for what I deemed to be extremely reasonable (and fair) price.  The Jackson card will find its way under the Christmas tree for Doug, so please keep that one quiet for now.
  • The Mantle card finally entered our collection and completed our 1965 Topps set relatively quickly and somewhat surprising.  Most of the vintage Mantle cards these days appear to be graded, with very few available "raw" as the dealers termed cards not yet slabbed.  After walking most of the floor, I had made notes on the locations of five non-graded Mantle cards, with prices ranging from the ridiculous ($2,000) to the reasonable (less than $500).  I found a nearly perfect raw Mantle card from Sports Card Plus from Cooper City, Florida, but the price was way too high.  Next to the 1965 Topps Mantle was am equally pristine 1969 Topps Mantle.  I'm sure I'll embellish this story upon retellings for years to come, but to cut to the chase, the dealer and I started negotiating what he'd sell both cards for in a combined packaged deal.  We landed on a combined price somewhat easily, and both cards were ours.  Our 1965 Topps set was complete and a huge chunk for our 1969 Topps set was also out of the way.  Typing this now, this is still hard to believe and somewhat shocking.
There was a little more added after those big hauls, as we were looking to kill time until it was time to obtain autographs from Kyle Schwarber and Bryson Stott.  I'll be sure to cover those purchases on both my Diamond Stars blog and my newly launched 1969 Topps blog.  We added autographs from Schwarber and Stott before making our escape from the over-crowded show.  Schwarber was especially friendly, shaking both our hands and telling us the Phillies would be returning to the World Series in 2023.

Doug made out extremely well too.  He did a lot of free-style picking, as he likes to call it, adding a great assortment of autograph and relic cards from this year's N.L. Champions, particularly cards of Rhys Hoskins and Aaron Nola.  He was extremely pleased with the autograph from Schwarber, with the slugger adding "2022 N.L. Champs" under his signature.  We also picked up quite a few supplies from the Ultra Pro table as he looks to work on displaying his growing and impressive autograph collection.

Memory Lane

Valley Forge 1 - September 2010 - Thinking of my Dad
Valley Forge 2 - October 2012 - Doug's first baseball card show
Valley Forge 3 - September 2014 - Meeting Darren Daulton
Oaks 1 - October 2015 - Meeting Pete Rose and Steve Carlton
Valley Forge 4 - September 2016 - Phillies acquisitions and 4 Phillies Legends
Valley Forge 5 - December 2016 - Meeting Don Money
Valley Forge 6 - September 2017 - Doug's big day
Valley Forge 7 - December 2017 - Ben's first baseball card show with Mike Schmidt and Rhys Hoskins!
Oaks 2 - December 2018 - Meeting Matt Stairs and Cole Hamels
Valley Forge 8 - March 2019 - 5 Phillies Autographs and Vintage Phillies Additions
Valley Forge 9 - September 2019 - Closing in on 1971 Topps set and Andrew McCutchen
Valley Forge 10 - December 2019 - Finishing 1971 Topps set, Starting 1965 Topps set, adding key autographs from Ryan Howard and Brad Lidge
Valley Forge 11 - February 2020 - More 1965 Topps cards, Jimmy Rollins, Mike Lieberthal and Jim Kaat
Valley Forge 12 - December 2021 - Huge haul of 1965 Topps, Jim Thome
Valley Forge 13 - March 2022 - Easy like Sunday morning, close to completing 1965 Topps
Oaks 3 - December 2022 - 1965 Topps set completed, dent made in 1969 Topps, Schwarber, Vierling and Stott

Saturday, November 12, 2022

List of Departures Grows with Minor League Free Agents

2022 Topps Now #433
On Friday, a lengthy list of Phillies minor league players electing free agency was released, featuring five players who had appeared in at least one game with the club over the past few seasons.  I've added those five to the list of departures below, and the full list can be found here and here.

You can be forgiven if you don't remember the Phillies' careers of Nick Duron or Bubby Rossman.  Both were added to the roster during the away series in Toronto as a result of a number of players being unable to enter Canada due to their vaccination status.  Duron pitched a scoreless inning on July 13th and Rossman entered that game a few innings later.  He didn't fare as well as Duron, allowing a two-run home run to the Blue Jays' Teoscar Hernandez.

Jorge Bonifacio spent all of 2022 in the minor leagues after appearing in seven games for the Phillies in 2021, batting .091 (1 for 11).  Mark Appel appeared in six games this season for the Phillies, making his big league debut nine years after being selected as the first pick by the Astros in the 2013 draft.  Yairo Munoz appeared in 29 games with the Phillies, batting .211, and seeing his playing time decrease significantly with the arrival of Edmundo Sosa.

Departures - 2022-2023 Offseason
  • Johan Camargo - inf (10/7/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Michael Kelly - rhp (10/14/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Chris Devenski - rhp (11/6/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Kyle Gibson - rhp (11/6/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Brad Hand - lhp (11/6/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Corey Knebel - rhp (11/6/22) - Elected free agency.
  • David Robertson - rhp (11/6/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Noah Syndergaard - rhp (11/6/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Mark Appel - rhp (11/11/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Jorge Bonifacio - of (11/11/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Nick Duron - rhp (11/11/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Yairo Munoz - inf (11/11/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Bubby Rossman - rhp (11/11/22) - Elected free agency.
New Additions - 2022-2023 Offseason
  • Luis Ortiz - rhp (11/9/22) - Claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.
  • Andrew Vasquez - rhp (11/9/22) - Claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

First Transactions of the 2022-2023 Offseason

2022 Topps #179
2022 Topps Living Set #565
2022 Topps Update #US14
2019 Topps #678
2021 Choice St. Paul Saints

I'm a natural list-maker and one list subject every year since the mid-1980s is a listing of Phillies' off-season transactions.  Whether it be in my old scrapbooks, in spiral-bound notebooks or on this blog, I've maintained lists of the players coming and going between the final pitch of one season and the first pitch of the next.  I realize these lists aren't needed now as much as they were back in the day, given there are multiple websites around tracking these sort of things, but with the World Series over and offseason transactions starting . . . here we go again.

Departures - 2022-2023 Offseason
  • Johan Camargo - inf (10/7/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Michael Kelly - rhp (10/14/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Chris Devenski - rhp (11/6/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Kyle Gibson - rhp (11/6/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Brad Hand - lhp (11/6/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Corey Knebel - rhp (11/6/22) - Elected free agency.
  • David Robertson - rhp (11/6/22) - Elected free agency.
  • Noah Syndergaard - rhp (11/6/22) - Elected free agency.
Johan Camargo and Michael Kelly, both dropped from the team's 40-man roster earlier in the year, became free agents in the midst of the Phillies' postseason run.  On Sunday, the next six players listed above became free agents.  On Monday, the Phillies declined the option on Jean Segura and Zach Eflin declined his side of a mutual option, making them both free agents.

I wouldn't mind seeing Segura, Eflin, Robertson and/or Syndergaard come back in 2023 and if I had to guess the latter two probably have the best chance of donning red pinstripes again.

New Additions - 2022-2023 Offseason
  • Luis Ortiz - rhp (11/9/22) - Claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.
  • Andrew Vasquez - rhp (11/9/22) - Claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants.
On Wednesday, the Phillies added two potential 2023 pitchers to their arsenal, claiming Luis Ortiz and Andrew Vasquez off waivers from the Giants.  Ortiz appeared in six games for the Giants in 2022, earning a 1.04 ERA in 8 2/3 innings pitched.  He had previously appeared in three games for the Orioles in 2018 and 2019, and his last mainstream baseball card can be found in the 2019 Topps set.

Vasquez appeared in nine games for the Blue Jays and one game for the Giants, spending 12 days on the Phillies' 40-man roster in August before re-entering the waiver wire shuffle.  He's got several minor league baseball card appearances, but nothing mainstream to date.

Sunday, November 6, 2022

World Series Game 6 - Phils' Bats Go Quiet as Astros Win World Series

Astros 4
, Phillies 1
World Series Game 6 - Saturday Night, November 5th in Houston
Astros win series, 4-2

One Sentence Summary:  For the third consecutive game, the Phillies offense was almost completely quiet and a three-run home run off the bat of Yordan Alvarez in the sixth proved to be the back-breaker in this 4-1 loss to the Astros.

What It Means:  It's Saturday night for a few more minutes and I'm going to power through this game summary post.  I'm sure in time I'll appreciate the October/early November run the 2022 Phillies just gave us way more than I do right now, but I'm still reeling from the little mistakes and missed opportunities that ultimately sunk the team after they held what appeared to be a commanding 2-1 advantage in the World Series.  There were too many strikeouts, too many runners left on base, too many defensive miscues and one huge questionable decision by manager Rob Thomson to bring in Jose Alvarado in this game with Zack Wheeler seemingly cruising.

Still, there's no way I ever imagined I'd be typing up a World Series Game 6 summary back in late May when the team was 22-29, costing Joe Girardi his job.  There's no way I could have predicted back in late June after the Phils lost Bryce Harper with a broken hand that I'd take my family to an NLDS game and watch Rhys Hoskins spike his bat following a dramatic home run.  And I certainly didn't foresee Harper going nuclear in the NLCS and delivering a World Series berth following a game-winning home run against the Padres.

I described losses back in September with words and phrases such as "'Pen implodes," "Phils fall again," "Phils still flat," and "Collapse seems imminent."  And then a little over a month later, I got to take my family to World Series games, temporarily losing my hearing following a Game 3 home run barrage.  I will remember some of these moments forever - the ninth inning comeback in the Wild Card series against the Cardinals, the clinching game of the NLDS against the Braves, buying postseason merchandise for every series, Doug devouring his standard Bull's BBQ order every night we went, Ben proudly waving his red rally towel, my whole family together, cheering the Phillies, and the five home runs on Tuesday night.  I wanted two more wins, and I wanted a few more memories, but the wins we did get and the memories I made will have to be enough for now.

What Happened / Featured Card:  Wheeler and Astros' starting pitcher Framber Valdez were locked in a pitcher's duel through the first five frames, putting zeroes on the board each half-inning.  In the top of the sixth, Kyle Schwarber drilled a lead-off, line drive home run to right field to give the Phillies a slim 1-0 lead.  In the bottom of the sixth, needing just 12 more outs to send the series to a Game 7, Wheeler hit Martin Maldonado with a pitch, with Maldonado clearly leaning over the plate.  Jose Altuve grounded into a fielder's choice, and Jeremy Pena followed with a single to put runners on the corners with one out.

With just 70 pitches thrown and seemingly in a groove, Wheeler was removed by manager Thomson in favor of Alvarado.  The decision immediately backfired when Alvarez hit his three-run home run, an absolute bomb over the center field batter's eye, to give the Astros a 3-1 lead.  Another Astros run would score, but honestly it didn't really matter.  Save a ninth inning single from J.T. Realmuto, the Phillies went down quietly over the final three innings, with Nick Castellanos popping out in foul territory to right fielder Kyle Tucker to end the game, and the Phillies' season.

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Phillies at Astros: November 5th to November 6th

2022 Chachi Fan Favorites #37
2022 Chachi Fan Favorites #38

Saturday and Sunday 8:03

Minute Maid Park - Houston, TX

At the Ballpark:  The Phillies need two more wins to earn their third World Championship title in franchise history.

Phillies 2-3
Defeated Padres in NLCS, 4-1

Phillies Probables
Zack Wheeler (1-2, 2.67)
Ranger Suarez (2-0, 1.23)

Phillies Postseason Leaders
Average:  Bryce Harper - .373
Runs:  Bryce Harper and Kyle Schwarber - 12
Home Runs:  Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins - 6
RBIs:  Bryce Harper - 13
Stolen Bases:  Kyle Schwarber - 3

Wins:  Four tied with - 2
ERA:  Zack Wheeler - 2.67
Strikeouts:  Zack Wheeler - 28
Saves:  Five tied with - 1
Astros 3-2
Defeated Yankees in ALCS, 4-0

Astros Probables
Framber Valdez (2-0, 1.42)

Astros Postseason Leaders
Average:  Yuli Gurriel - .347
Runs:  Jeremy Pena - 11
Home Runs:  Jeremy Pena - 4
RBIs:  Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman - 11
Stolen Bases:  Yuli Gurriel - 2

Wins:  Four tied with - 2
ERA:  Cristian Javier - 0.71
Strikeouts:  Justin Verlander - 25
Saves:  Ryan Pressly - 5

Friday, November 4, 2022

World Series Game 5 - Phils Can't Push Across Runs

Astros 3, Phillies 2
World Series Game 5 - Thursday Night, November 3rd in Philadelphia
Astros lead series, 3-2

One Sentence Summary:  A few misplays in the field and the lack of clutch hitting downed the Phillies in this 3-2 loss, as the World Series heads back to Houston for a do or die Game 6.

What It Means:  I still believe.

What Happened / Featured Card:  Two Astros runs scored as a result of fielding issues by the Phillies.  In the first, Jose Altuve doubled and then went to third when center fielder Brandon Marsh misplayed the ball.  Altuve would easily score on a Jeremy Pena single, with Noah Syndergaard striking out the next two batters and J.T. Realmuto gunning down Pena at second on an attempted steal.  Syndergaard allowed a solo home run to Pena in the fourth before departing.  In the eighth, the Astros scored the eventual winning run when Rhys Hoskins couldn't cleanly field a ground ball hit by Yordan Alvarez, allowing Altuve to score.  Had Hoskins come up with the ball and thrown home, Altuve almost certainly would have been out.

Not to be overlooked here, Connor Brogdon did an amazing job out of the bullpen for two innings, allowing a hit and striking out five.

The Phillies offense had their chances between a lead-off home run from Kyle Schwarber in the first and an RBI single from Jean Segura in the eighth.  They loaded the bases in the second, with Hoskins striking out  to end the inning.  They had a runner in scoring position again in the third, fifth, sixth, eighth innings and went 1 for 7 overall in those clutch spots, with 12 runners stranded on base throughout the game.  In the ninth, Realmuto launched what should have been at least a double to deep center field, with Chas McCormick making a leaping catch to stun Realmuto and the crowd of nearly 46,000.  Following a Bryce Harper hit by pitch, Nick Castellanos grounded out weakly to shortstop to end the game.

Field Report:  Doug and I were back again, for the fourth night in a row, watching this game from the back of Section 105 in right field.  Also for the fourth night in a row, Doug had his standard Bull's BBQ order - pulled pork platter with slaw on top, corn bread and baked beans for sides.  We spent most of our time pregame standing in the front of our section hoping for a stray baseball from one of the Astros shagging batting practice fly balls.  Doug, much like the Phillies in this game, came away empty.

The crowd was much more into this game then they were Wednesday night for Game 4.  We rarely sat and from our vantage point, it seemed as if Realmuto's ninth inning fly ball had gone out.  We departed the ballpark after the Castellanos ground out to end the game, thankful for the opportunity to witness Phillies postseason baseball, but hoping for two more wins in Houston.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

World Series Game 4 - Astros Even Series with Shutout

Astros 5
, Phillies 0
World Series Game 4 - Wednesday Night, November 2nd in Philadelphia
Series tied, 2-2

One Sentence Summary:  Aaron Nola and Jose Alvarado suffered one bad, five-run fifth inning and the Phillies offense went quietly in this 5-0 loss.

What It Means:  With the series now tied at two games a piece, a Game 6 in Houston is guaranteed and the Phillies will attempt to win one last home game in 2022 tonight, behind starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard.

What Happened / Featured Card:  From a Phillies fan's perspective, the best part of this night was the pregame ceremony, featuring ceremonial first pitches thrown out by future Wall of Famers Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins.

The Astros had runners in scoring position in the second and fourth innings, but Nola worked out of those jams both times.  He wasn't as lucky in the fifth.  After allowing three straight singles to Chas McCormick, Jose Altuve and Jeremy Pena to open the inning, Nola yielded to Jose Alvarado who promptly drilled Yordan Alvarez in the back, scoring the first run of the game.  Alex Bregman followed with a two-run double, Kyle Tucker hit a sacrifice fly to center and Yuli Gurriel capped the scoring with an RBI-single.

Astros' starting pitcher Cristian Javier was unhittable, striking out nine and allowing a pair of walks in his six innings of work.  Relievers Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly threw the final three shutout innings with the Phillies managing only a walk off Pressly in the ninth.

Field Report:  All four of us went to the game, sitting high above center field in row two of Section 201.  It took me a little getting used to the elevation and the lack of a high railing in front of the first row, but it was less daunting as more fans filled the section.  We loved the pre-game people-watching from above Ashburn Alley and we had an excellent view of the Fox pre-game show with David Ortiz, Frank Thomas and Alex Rodriguez.  It was cool to see the blue 2022 flag now flying above the ballpark, and I'm a little surprised the flag went up with absolutely no fanfare.

We weren't immune to the dread that filled the ballpark as the Astros inched closer to victory each inning, and I'm looking forward to watching the Phillies turn it back around tonight.

World Series Game 3 - Five Home Runs Shake the Bank

Phillies 7
, Astros 0
World Series Game 3 - Tuesday Night, November 1st in Philadelphia
Phillies lead series, 2-1

One Sentence Summary:  Led by Bryce Harper's first inning two-run home run, the Phillies offense collected a World Series record-tying five home runs overall in this exuberant 7-0 win over the Astros.

What It Means:  The Phillies fans promised a loud and raucous atmosphere for the first home World Series game since 2009, and nearly 46,000 of us delivered.  From the first pitch of the game when Jose Altuve lined out to a diving Nick Castellanos, to the final pitch, when Andrew Bellatti struck out Chas McCormick looking, the ballpark shook and we rarely sat.

What Happened / Featured Card:
  The home runs made headlines, but Ranger Suarez quietly threw five shutout innings, striking out four and allowing three hits and a walk.  He turned the game over to Connor Brogdon, Kyle Gibson, Nick Nelson and Bellatti, who made quick work of the Astros' offense over the final four innings, allowing just two more hits.

Harper started the scoring (and upped the noise level) with his blast in the first, scoring Kyle Schwarber who had walked to start the inning.  Alec Bohm and Brandon Marsh added two more home runs in the second, with Bohm's shot an absolute laser over the left field wall and Marsh's shot standing following an umpire review.  In the fifth, Schwarver and Hoskins went back-to-back, giving the Phillies their 7-0 lead and allowing a few of the low leverage relievers to get some work.

Field Report:  Following the rain-out on Monday night, Doug and I returned on Tuesday, with Doug once again opting for Bull's BBQ and with me mixing things up with Chickie's and Pete's.  We returned one last time to Section 113 for this game, rarely actually using our seats.  It was Doug's first ever World Series game, and only my second, as Jenna and I attended Game 3 of the 2008 World Series, waiting out the lengthy rain delay and staying until nearly two in the morning when Carlos Ruiz dribbled a ball to third, scoring Eric Bruntlett with the winning run.  And speaking of the 2008 club, most of the key players from that team were in attendance at this game, with Jayson Werth, Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino catching ceremonial first pitches from Mike Schmidt, Bernie Parent, Dr. J and Brandon Graham.

Somewhat lost in the excitement was the awarding of a Gold Glove to catcher J.T. Realmuto before the game.  It's Realmuto's second Gold Glove win, joining the one he earned in 2019.

Monday, October 31, 2022

World Series Game 3 - Postponed due to Rain

Doug and I made the 19 mile drive to Citizens Bank Park on Monday afternoon, with the forecast ominous and little hope of seeing actual World Series baseball.  Before the postponement of the game, we purchased several World Series souvenirs, had our standard fare from Bull's BBQ and waited for an announcement under cover above Boardwalk Eats.  First seeing news of the postponement on Twitter, we quickly exited the ballpark and we were home well in advance of the scheduled 8:03 start time.  Doug was bummed to have completely missed Halloween AND a Phillies game, but we'll try it again on Tuesday night.

Astros at Phillies: October 31st to November 2nd

2022 Chachi Fan Favorites #35
2022 Chachi Fan Favorites #36

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 8:03

Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA

At the Ballpark:  The Fall Classic returns to Citizens Bank Park on Monday night for the first time since 2009.

Astros 1-1
Defeated Yankees in ALCS, 4-0

Astros Probables
Lance McCullers Jr. (0-0, 2.45)
Cristian Javier (1-0, 1.35)

Astros Postseason Leaders
Average:  Yuli Gurriel - .342
Runs:  Jeremy Pena - 9
Home Runs:  Three tied with - 3
RBIs:  Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman - 9
Stolen Bases:  Three tied with - 1

Wins:  Hector Neris and Framber Valdez - 2
ERA:  Framber Valdez - 1.42
Strikeouts:  Framber Valdez - 24
Saves:  Ryan Pressly - 4
Phillies 1-1
Defeated Padres in NLCS, 4-1

Phillies Probables
Noah Syndergaard (0-0, 1.69)
Ranger Suarez (1-0, 1.86)

Phillies Postseason Leaders
Average:  Bryce Harper - .392
Runs:  Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto - 11
Home Runs:  Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins - 5
RBIs:  Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins - 11
Stolen Bases:  Kyle Schwarber - 3

Wins:  Three tied with - 2
ERA:  Zack Wheeler - 2.67
Strikeouts:  Zack Wheeler - 28
Saves:  Five tied with - 1

Sunday, October 30, 2022

World Series Game 2 - Phils Fall Short in Houston

Astros 5
, Phillies 2
World Series Game 2 - Saturday Night, October 29th in Houston
Series tied, 1-1

One Sentence Summary:  Zack Wheeler didn't have it, and the Phillies offense couldn't capitalize on a few late innings scoring opportunities as the Astros took Game 2 of the World Series, 5-2.

What It Means:  It means the series returns to Philadelphia on Monday night all tied up at one.  We watched very little of this game as Doug was competing with his baseball team in the Big Show Halloween Battle in Leesport, Pennsylvania.  It was a freezing cold night with neither Doug's team or the Phillies coming away with the desired outcome.

What Happened / Featured Card:  Four pitches into Wheeler's night, the Astros had three doubles from Jose Altuve, Jeremy Pena and Yordan Alvarez, and led, 2-0.  A third run (unearned) would score when Edmundo Sosa threw a ball low to Rhys Hoskins, allowing Alvarez to score.  In the fifth, Alex Bregman hit a two-run home run to give the Astros a 5-0 lead.  Wheeler threw only 69 pitches in his five innings of work, allowing five runs (four earned) on six hits and three walks.  The bullpen trio of Andrew Bellatti, Connor Brogdon and Brad Hand combined for three shutout innings.

The Phillies didn't score until the seventh when Nick Castellanos doubled to start the inning, went to third on an Alec Bohm ground out and scored on a Jean Segura sacrifice fly.  In the eighth, with Bryson Stott aboard with a walk, Kyle Schwarber hit what first appeared to be a moonshot home run to right, but replay review showed the ball going foul.  He'd fly out to right fielder Kyle Tucker on the warning track, just barely missing a two-run home run twice in the same at bat.  In the ninth, Bohm doubled and would come around to score on a Yuli Gurriel error.  The Phillies offense overall was 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

Following the game, the team flew back to Philadelphia where they'll be greeted by a raucous, standing-room only crowd on Halloween night for Game 3 of the World Series.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

World Series Game 1 - Realmuto, Bullpen Stun 'Stros

Phillies 6
, Astros 5 (10 Innings)
World Series Game 1 - Friday Night, October 28th in Houston
Phillies lead series, 1-0

One Sentence Summary:  After spotting the Astros a 5-0 lead after three innings, the Phillies, bolstered by an amazingly dominant bullpen, battled back to win in extra-innings with J.T. Realmuto hitting the go-ahead and eventual game-winning home run.

What It Means:  I felt physical ill for most of this game, but it was all worth it.  We watched this game from the comfort of our living room, all four of us waving red rally towels as needed.  The Phillies in essence regain home field advantage with this win, and they'll attempt to head back to Citizens Bank Park with a 2-0 lead as Zack Wheeler takes the mound in Game 2 tonight.

What Happened / Featured Card:  Aaron Nola was hit early and often, with a combination of bloop hits and home runs from Kyle Tucker.  The Astros' right fielder hit two home runs off Nola, accounting for four of the Astros runs.  Nola yielded in the fifth, with one out, to Jose Alvarado who quickly mowed through three Astros batters in the fifth and start of the sixth.  Zach Eflin, Ranger Suarez, Seranthony Dominguez and finally, David Robertson, would follow, holding the Astros scoreless over the final 17 outs needed for the win.  Robertson walked a tight-rope in the 10th, allowing an Alex Bregman double, walking Yuli Gurriel, and then uncorking a wild pitch to put runners at second and third.  After hitting pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz, who was called back to the plate as he had leaned into the pitch, Robertson got Diaz to ground out to third, giving the Phillies a crucial series opening win.

From the offensive side, the Phillies started chipping away at the deficit in the fourth against Astros' starter Justin Verlander.  With two outs, Nick Castellanos singled to left to score Rhys Hoskins.  Bohm then doubled home Bryce Harper and Castellanos to pull the Phillies to within two.  In the fifth, Realmuto delivered his first big hit of the night, doubling to left to tie the game at 5-5.  The Phillies offense had their chances over the next several innings, notably in the seventh when they loaded the bases with two outs.  But old friend Hector Neris emerged from the Astros bullpen to strike out Castellanos and end the threat.

Castellanos found redemption in the ninth, making a game-saving, diving catch in right and sending the game to extra innings.  In the top of the 10th, facing reliever Luis Garcia, Realmuto launched a 3-2 fastball just over the right field wall, giving the Phillies the lead.  It was the first extra-inning World Series home run by a catcher since Carlton Fisk's iconic Game 6 walk-off home run from 1975.

Transaction:  The Phillies set their World Series roster on Friday afternoon, adding Nick Maton (inf) and Nick Nelson (rhp), while removing Dalton Guthrie (of) and Bailey Falter (lhp).

Friday, October 28, 2022

Phillies at Astros: October 28th to October 29th

2022 Chachi Fan Favorites #32
2022 Chachi Fan Favorites #34

Friday and Saturday 8:03

Minute Maid Park - Houston, TX

At the Ballpark:  The Phillies are returning to the World Series for the first time since 2009, with the Astros coming to the Fall Classic for the fourth time since 2017.  Houston won it all in 2017 in seven games against the Dodgers, lost in seven games in 2019 to the Nationals and lost in six games in 2021 against the Braves.  Only the Dodgers with 111 had more regular season wins than the Astros who had 106.  Houston swept both the Mariners in the ALDS and the Yankees in the ALCS to advance to the World Series.

Phillies 87-75
Defeated Padres in NLCS, 4-1

Phillies Probables
Aaron Nola (2-1, 3.12)
Zack Wheeler (1-1, 1.78)

Phillies Postseason Leaders
Average:  Bryce Harper - .419
Runs:  Bryce Harper - 10
Home Runs:  Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins - 5
RBIs:  Bryce Harper and Rhys Hoskins - 11
Stolen Bases:  Kyle Schwarber - 2

Wins:  Brad Hand and Aaron Nola - 2
ERA:  Zack Wheeler - 1.78
Strikeouts:  Zack Wheeler - 25
Saves:  Four tied with - 1
Astros 106-56
Defeated Yankees in ALCS, 4-0

Astros Probables
Justin Verlander (1-0, 6.30)
Framber Valdez (1-0, 1.42)

Astros Postseason Leaders
Average:  Yuli Gurriel - .367
Runs:  Jeremy Pena - 7
Home Runs:  Jeremy Pena - 3
RBIs:  Yordan Alvarez - 8
Stolen Bases:  Yuli Gurriel and Kyle Tucker - 1

Wins:  Hector Neris - 2
ERA:  Framber Valdez - 1.42
Strikeouts:  Framber Valdez - 15
Saves:  Ryan Pressly - 4

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

NLCS Game 5 - BEDLAM AT THE BANK, Phils are World Series Bound!

Phillies 4
, Padres 3
NLCS Game 5 - Sunday Afternoon, October 23rd in Philadelphia
Phillies win series, 3-1

One Sentence Summary:  In a game Phillies fans will be reminiscing over for decades, Bryce Harper connected for a two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth, giving his team the lead and helping propel them to the 2022 World Series.

What It Means:  It means so much.  This is surreal.  I, along with many other Phillies fans, had completely written this team off in September when they couldn't seem to do anything right.  We missed the first four innings of this game as Doug's travel baseball team was playing in a championship game in Delaware in a steady and cold rain.  His team lost and we quietly started the two-hour drive home, in a downpour, with the Phillies holding a slim 2-1 lead.  We listened as Seranthony Dominguez uncorked three wild pitches in the seventh allowing the Padres to take a 3-2 lead.  And we lost our minds just north of Wilmington on 495 when Harper hit his series clinching home run.  Other drivers on the highway who weren't listening to the game were probably terrified when they looked into our car.  We had crossed the Commodore Barry Bridge and were in Woolwich, New Jersey when Nick Castellanos caught the fly ball from Austin Nola, sending the Phillies back to the World Series for the first time since 2009.  It's crazy.  This team is wonderful.  Hard to believe, Harry.

What Happened / Featured Card:
  Rhys Hoskins hit his fifth home run of the postseason in the third, giving the Phillies a 2-0 lead, and Juan Soto connected for a solo home run in the fourth off Phillies' starter Zack Wheeler.  Dominguez was wild in the seventh, giving up a game-tying double to Josh Bell after falling behind 3-1 and allowing Jake Cronenworth to move to second on a wild pitch.  Two more wild pitches gave the Padres a 3-2 lead, allowing pinch-runner Jose Azocar to score.

In the eighth, down to their last six outs and faced with a cross-country flight to San Diego for Monday night's Game 6, J.T. Realmuto singled to left to open the inning.  Harper then almost serenely sent a Robert Suarez pitch just barely over the left-center field wall, sending the 45,485 fans at Citizens Bank Park into an all-out frenzy.  Phillies' radio voice Scott Franzke described it as "Bedlam at the Bank."

In the top of the ninth, David Robertson struck out Will Myers but then issued back-to-back walks to Brandon Drury and Ha-Seong Kim.  Ranger Suarez entered the game, needing just two pitches for the final two outs.  As Castellanos squeezed his glove and Franzke made his call that the Phillies were World Series bound, our car erupted in cheers, screams and claps.  The Philadelphia Phillies are the 2022 National League Champions.

After unpacking the car and drying off, I watched all the highlights, post-game interviews and the awarding of the NLCS MVP trophy to Harper.  In a week's time, my family and I will be back at the ballpark, attending the 2022 World Series against the Astros as the Phillies try to win their third title in franchise history.

Monday, October 24, 2022

NLCS Game 4 - Hoskins Leads Fightin' Phils to Comeback Win

Phillies 10
, Padres 6
NLCS Game 4 - Saturday Night, October 22nd in Philadelphia
Phillies lead series, 3-1

One Sentence Summary:  Down in the game by four runs before they batted, the Phillies earned their Fightin' nickname, with Rhys Hoskins blasting two crucial home runs in this 10-6 win.

What It Means:  Spending the day in Rehobeth Beach, Delaware at Doug's travel baseball tournament, we watched Doug's team play to a tie and win a game before watching most of this game with Doug's teammates and their parents at Lefty's Alley & Eats.  It was a wonderful and memorable day, with the Phillies now within a win of returning to the World Series.

What Happened / Featured Card:  Phillies' starting pitcher Bailey Falter only recorded two outs, but actually fared slightly better than Padres' starting pitcher Mike Clevinger who didn't retire a batter.  Falter was in trouble from the outset, allowing four runs overall, including a solo home run to Manny Machado and a two-run double to Brandon Drury.  Connor Brogdon restored some order, allowing an inherited run to score but then following up with two scoreless innings.  Brad Hand ironically got the win, even though he was the only Phillies reliever to give up any runs.  Andrew Bellatti, Noah Syndergaard, David Robertson and Zach Eflin combined for five scoreless innings of relief.

The Phillies offense never let up.  Hoskins hit his first home run in the first, following a Kyle Schwarber lead-off single, cutting the deficit to 4-2.  J.T. Realmuto walked and Bryce Harper doubled him home, quickly turning the momentum of the game.  Bryson Stott tied the game in the fourth with a single to left, scoring Nick Castellanos.  Juan Soto hit a two-run home run off Hand in the fifth, giving the Padres a temporary 6-4 lead.

In the team's four-run fifth, Hoskins hit his second two-run home run, tying the score and resulting in a memorable bat toss towards the dugout.  Harper doubled home Realmuto who had walked, and Castellanos singled home Harper giving the Phillies an 8-6 lead.  Solo home runs from Schwarber in the sixth and Realmuto in the seventh proved to be unnecessary but still fun to watch.