Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2008 Chachi #44 Les Walrond

Nationals 10, Phillies 2
Game 55 - Tuesday Night, May 31st in Washington

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies were blown out for the first time this season, losing to the Nationals, 10-2.

What It Means:  Some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you.  The Phils fell to 34-21 and they have a 2 1/2 game lead over the Marlins as I'm writing this.

What Went Wrong:  Cliff Lee (4-5) didn't have it tonight.  Lee allowed six runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.  Doing the most damage was Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa who hit a three-run home run off Lee in the third and added a solo home run off Lee in sixth.

What Went Right:  Domonic Brown (1) and John Mayberry, Jr. (3) hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning.

Featured Card:  If you were listening to the radio broadcast tonight, Phillies announcers Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen started to get punchy after the Nationals threw up a three-spot in the seventh to put the game pretty much out of reach.  Franzke reported that at least the Double-A Reading Phillies had won their game, with the newly re-acquired Les Walrond recording a hold.  Walrond, who most recently pitched with the Lancaster Barnstormers of the independent Atlantic League, was brought back into the organization over the weekend.

Walrond appeared in six games with the Phillies in 2008, the year the team won its last World Championship.  In fact, Walrond was the winning pitcher in the team's 162nd and final regular season game that year.  About the only amusing part of tonight's game was listening to Franzke and L.A. try to recollect Walrond's tenure with the team and discussing the starting line-up in Game 162 from 2008.

This is Walrond's 2008 Chachi card, which has got to be his only Phillies card in existence.  (Even though it's a home-made, virtual card, named in honor of my dog.)

Transaction:  The Phillies recalled lefty reliever Mike Zagurski to take Vance Worley's spot on the roster.  Worley was optioned back to Lehigh Valley yesterday.

Monday, May 30, 2011

2011 Topps Gypsy Queen #139 Raul Ibanez

Phillies 5, Nationals 4
Game 54 - Monday Afternoon, May 30th in Washington

One Sentence Summary:  Roy Halladay didn't have his best stuff, but the offense provided by Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez picked him up and led the Phillies to a Memorial Day victory, 5-4.

What It Means:  At 34-20, the Phillies have the best record in baseball.  The Marlins trail by 2 1/2 as they begin play against the Diamondbacks tonight.

What Went Right:  Howard and Ibanez hit back-to-back home runs in the fourth to give the Phillies a 3-2 lead.  It was the first time all season the Phillies had hit consecutive home runs.  The Nationals re-took the lead in the sixth, but it wouldn't last long.  With one out in the top of the seventh, Placido Polanco reached on a single.  Chase Utley walked and Howard singled off lefty Sean Burnett to tie it up, 4-4.  Utley scored the go-ahead run on Ibanez' sacrifice fly.

Halladay (7-3) struggled on the sweltering afternoon, allowing ten hits and four runs while striking out five.  Three of the hits allowed were home runs.  Perhaps the biggest out recorded by Halladay was his last one.  With two outs in the bottom of the seventh and runners on first and second, Halladay struck out Jayson Werth swinging to end the threat.  Ryan Madson pitched a perfect ninth for his twelfth save.

Featured Card:  After an early season slump, Ibanez has been one of the hottest hitters in baseball.  He hit .161 with 1 home run and 10 RBIs in April.  So far in May, with one game left to be played tomorrow, he's hitting .317 with 7 home runs and 19 RBIs.

Transaction:  The Phillies optioned Vance Worley to AAA Lehigh Valley during the game and the rumor is that Kyle Kendrick will take his place in the rotation.  A corresponding roster move to fill Worley's vacated spot will be announced before tomorrow night's game.

Phillies at Nationals: May 30th through June 1st

Nationals Park - Washington, D.C.
Monday 1:05, Tuesday 7:05, Wednesday 1:05

Phillies 33-20, 1st Place in N.L. East, 2 games ahead of the Marlins
Nationals 22-30, 5th Place in N.L. East, 10 1/2 games behind the Phillies

So Far in 2011:  The Phils are 5-1 so far this year against the Nationals, having recently swept them at home at the beginning of May.

Know the Nationals: Manager - Jim Riggleman
Starters - Wilson Ramos (c), Michael Morse (1b), Danny Espinosa (2b), Jerry Hairston (3b), Ian Desmond (ss), Laynce Nix (lf), Rick Ankiel (cf), Jayson Werth (lf)
Rotation - Livan Hernandez (rhp), Jason Marquis (rhp), John Lannan (lhp), Jordan Zimmermann (rhp), Yunesky Maya (rhp)
Bench - Ivan Rodriguez (c), Brian Bixler (inf), Alex Cora (inf), Matt Stairs (inf), Roger Bernadina (cf)
Closer - Drew Storen (rhp)
Bullpen - Sean Burnett (lhp), Tyler Clippard (rhp), Todd Coffey (rhp), Cole Kimball (rhp), Henry Rodriguez (rhp), Doug Slaten (lhp)
Disabled List - Chad Gaudin (rhp), Tom Gorzelanny (lhp), Elvin Ramirez (rhp), Stephen Strasburg (rhp), Chien-Ming Wang (rhp), Adam LaRoche (1b), Ryan Zimmerman (3b)

At the Ballpark:  Both teams will wear the special Stars and Stripes-style hats for this afternoon's Memorial Day game.

Phillies Probables: Roy Halladay (6-3, 2.35), Cliff Lee (4-4, 3.50), Roy Oswalt (3-2, 2.60)
Nationals Probables: Livan Hernandez (3-6, 3.71), Jason Marquis (5-2, 4.26), John Lannan (2-5, 4.40)

Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

1981 Topps #691 Dick Ruthven

Mets 9, Phillies 5
Game 53 - Sunday Afternoon, May 29th in Flushing

One Sentence Summary:  Starting pitcher Vance Worley imploded and the Mets walked away with an easy one, 9-5.

What It Means:  The Mets avoided the sweep and the Phillies dropped to 33-20.  The Marlins also lost, so the Phils still have a two game lead in the East.  They'll open a three-game series against the Nationals in D.C. tomorrow afternoon.

What Went Wrong:  Worley gave up four runs in the first and another four runs in the second.  An error by shortstop Jimmy Rollins in the first led to three of the runs being unearned.  Rollins' base running also extinguished a rally in the eighth when he was thrown out at second trying to extend a single.  The Phils had already scored three times in the inning to draw a little closer to the Mets, but the early damage was too much to overcome.

Featured Card:  Worley became only the second Phillies starter to allow eight runs to the Mets, in New York, in three innings or less.  Back on May 25, 1981, Dick Ruthven surrendered eight runs on seven hits in two innings of work in a game the Phillies would eventually lose 13-3.  Dave Kingman's grand slam in the second accounted for half of those runs.  Featured here in his 1981 Topps card, Ruthven looks pretty annoyed that I decided to revisit this particular game in his career.

1969 Topps Phillies

1969 Topps #350, #297, #133 and #369
Man walked on the moon, the Beatles recorded and released Abbey Road, but Topps still couldn't find pictures of Woodie Fryman or Rick Joseph in Phillies uniforms.  (And is it Woodie or Woody?)

The Set
1969 Topps #188 (Back)
Number of cards in the set:  The set is numbered to 664, but there are quite a few variations available, pushing the number of cards in a master set closer to 700.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  I've never been a huge fan of this set, as it looks as if the Topps design team took the year off.  They took the team name from the top of the '67 set and moved it to the bottom of the card.  They took the gray circle from the '68 set and bumped it to the top of the card.  Fortunately, a new decade was right around the corner and things were about to get interesting again.
Notable competition:  Topps was still a few years away from any type of notable competition (with the 1976 SSPC set), but there were a few oddball sets out there (Transogram statues and cards, Citgo Coins) featuring Phillies players.

1969 Phillies
Record and finish:  The tailspin that started in 1968 continued in 1969.  The team's record of 63-99 was their worst record since 1961 and fortunately, that loss total hasn't been matched since.  Only the expansion Montreal Expos kept the Phillies from the cellar of the newly formed National League East division.
Key players:  First baseman Dick Allen (.288, 32 home runs, 89 RBIs), center fielder Larry Hisle (.266, 20 home runs, 56 RBIs) and left fielder Deron Johnson (.255, 17 home runs, 80 RBIs) paced the offense.  In his final season with the club, right fielder Johnny Callison (.265, 16 home runs, 64 RBIs) also enjoyed a fine season.  The pitching staff was suspect with the top three starters - Grant Jackson, Fryman and Rick Wise - putting up the best numbers for the struggling club.  Jackson was the team's lone All-Star Game representative.
Key events:  The Dick Allen saga culminated with the slugger missing team flights, moving out of the team's locker room and scrawling messages in the dirt around the first base area.  Manager Bob Skinner was fired in August and coach George Myatt once again took over on an interim basis to finish out the season.

1969 Topps #28, #507, #108 and #73
1969 Phillies in 1969 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are just 25 cards in a complete 1969 Topps Phillies team set, if you count the Clay Dalrymple variation (#151) featuring the catcher with the Phillies.  The "normal" Dalrymple card, and the one more readily available, features him as a hatless Oriole.  There are 295 cards in a complete run of Topps Phillies cards between 1960 and 1969.  Overall, there are 468 Topps Phillies cards between 1951 and 1969.  That would make for a very cool album of baseball cards.  (I'm working on it.)
Who’s in:  Here's how the 24 shake out -
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 6 cards
#28 Mike Ryan (c), #350 Dick Allen (1b), #507 Cookie Rojas (2b), #108 Tony Taylor (3b), #297 Deron Johnson (lf), #133 Johnny Callison (rf)

The regular shortstop (Don Money) and center fielder (Hisle) had to share their cards - see below.
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 4 cards
#174 Grant Jackson, #51 Woodie Fryman, #188 Rick Wise, #253 Jerry Johnson

1969 Topps #174, #51, #188 and #253
  • Base cards of other players who played with the Phillies in 1969 - 8 cards
#73 John Briggs, #229 Don Lock, #276 Gary Wagner, #329 Rick Joseph, #395 Chris Short, #477 Jeff James, #531 Turk Farrell, #599 John Boozer
  • Base cards of players who did not play with the Phillies in 1969 - 1 card for Clay Dalrymple, #151
  • 1969 Rookie Stars cards - 4 cards
#206 Larry Hisle/Barry Lersch, #454 Larry Colton/Don Money, #576 Ron Stone/Bill Wilson and #624 Terry Harmon with the Mets' Duffy Dyer and the Reds' Darrel Chaney.  The Harmon card is just weird - Chaney looks as if he's ducking to avoid the blue "National League" circle, Dyer's head is huge and Harmon better be careful or he's going to catch some flies.
  • League Leader card - 1 card, #6 Home Run Leaders with Allen, Willie McCovey and Ernie Banks
  • Manager card - 1 card, #369 Bob Skinner
Who’s out:  Back-up catcher Dave Watkins was omitted, despite appearing in 69 games.  Pitchers Bill Champion (20 starts, 5-10 record), Lowell Palmer (26 games, 9 starts, 5.20 ERA) and Al Raffo (45 games, 4.10 ERA) were also left out.
Phillies on other teams:  Catcher Vic Roznovsky (#368) was acquired from the Orioles in April.
What’s he doing here:  After sharing a card in 1968 with Dick Thoenen, Larry Colton again makes an appearance, this time sharing a card with Money.  Colton pitched in one game for the Phillies in 1968, lasting two innings.
Cards that never were candidates:  Money and Hisle deserve their own cards, and Myatt would have received a manager card had there been a 1969 Topps Traded set.  Watkins and Champion were also deserving of cards.
Favorite Phillies card:  Don Lock's card?  I'll go with a tie for Allen and Callison's last Phillies cards.

1969 Topps #454, #206 and #624
Other Stuff
Recycled:  Other than a few repli-cards in 1990 issues of Baseball Cards Magazine, I'm not aware of any Phillies cards that recycle the 1969 Topps design.
Blogs/Websites:  It's been quiet for a while, but there's a 1969 Topps Baseball blog out there.
Did You Know?:  The last page of the 1969 Phillies Yearbook features an artist's rendering of "The New Phillies Stadium," to be located at Broad and Pattison.  A caption with the rendering notes that construction workers were rushing toward the planned Spring 1970 deadline.  Bad weather and a bad budget would conspire to push the opening of Veterans Stadium back a year to 1971.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

2011 Topps Tribute #13 Ryan Howard

Phillies 5, Mets 2
Game 52 - Saturday Night, May 28th in Flushing

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies turned it on late, coming from behind to defeat the Mets, 5-2.

What It Means:  The Phils improved their record to 33-19 and they now enjoy a 2 1/2 game lead over the Marlins.  (The Marlins are playing the Dodgers now.)  They'll go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon behind  Vance Worley.

What Went Right:  It looked bad with two outs in the top of the eighth as the Phillies trailed the Mets, 2-1.  At that point in the game, they had managed just three hits.  But Jimmy Rollins doubled off Mets starter Mike Pelfrey, chasing Pelfrey from the game.  Rollins stole second and easily scored when Chase Utley singled to left, tying the ballgame.  Following a walk to Placido Polanco, Ryan Howard doubled home both Utley and Polanco to give the Phillies the lead.

Cole Hamels (7-2) recorded his first ever win against the Mets in New York.  He pitched seven solid innings, allowing two runs on seven hits while striking out a season-high ten.

Featured Card:  Topps Tribute is one of those hobby-only sets that exist solely to peddle cards featuring game-used memorabilia or autograph cards, with the base cards serving as glorified filler.  It blows my mind that the suggested retail price for a pack of five cards of 2011 Topps Tribute is $50!    A quick eBay search shows packs currently available in the range of $68 to $75.  I can honestly say I've never come close to paying that much for a pack of cards, let alone a pack with only five cards in it.  With all that being said, I think the base cards are actually pretty nice and I'm not opposed to adding them to the Phillies binder via eBay or Check Out My Cards.  This Ryan Howard card is one of seven Phillies cards found within the 100-card base set of Topps Tribute.  It's shiny, thicker than a normal card, and best of all, I didn't break the bank for it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

2011 Bowman #15 Domonic Brown

Phillies 6, Mets 4
Game 51 - Friday Night, May 27th in Flushing

One Sentence Summary:  It wasn't pretty, but the Phillies scored three times in the ninth to prevail over the Mets, 6-4.

What It Means:  The Phillies are lucky to escape this one with the win.  They gave the Mets plenty of opportunities to run away with this game, but fortunately . . . they're the Mets.  With a record of 32-19, the Phils now have a game a half lead in the division as the Marlins get underway in San Francisco.

What Went Right:  The Phillies were trailing 3-2 heading into the eighth inning.  Pinch-hitter Domonic Brown reached on a single and came around to score the tying run on Jimmy Rollins' RBI-double.  Later, with one out in the ninth, Brown grounded a ball right under the glove of first baseman Daniel Murphy, scoring Carlos Ruiz with the go-ahead run.  It was ruled a hit and the Phils tacked on two more runs in the inning.  The three runs marked the first time the Phillies had ever scored on Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Roy Oswalt scattered nine hits over his six innings of work, allowing just one earned run.  Ryan Madson made it interesting in the ninth, but he eventually recorded his tenth save.

What Went Wrong:  The team was sloppy in the field, tallying three errors.  They were held to just four hits in the first six innings by Mets starter Chris Capuano.

Featured Card:  I recently picked up the 2011 Bowman Phillies team set on eBay, and once again I'm completely underwhelmed by this set.  The silver team logo in the bottom corner is a nice touch, but overall the design is still blah.  This set's draw is its prospects, although it would be interesting to go back and grade prior Bowman sets for their Phillies prospect selection.  It seems as if the majority of the Phillies prospects who have appeared in these sets haven't panned out.

Phillies at Mets: May 27th through May 29th

Citi Field - Flushing, NY
Friday and Saturday 7:10, Sunday 1:10

Phillies 31-19, 1st Place in N.L. East, 1 game ahead of the Marlins
Mets 23-26, 4th Place in N.L. East, 7 1/2 games behind the Phillies

So Far in 2011:  This is the Phillies first trip to New York in 2011, but these teams have faced off six times already in Philly.  The Phils lead the season series 4-2.

LOLMets: Manager - Terry Collins
Starters - Josh Thole (c), Daniel Murphy (1b), Ruben Tejada (2b), Justin Turner (3b), Jose Reyes (ss), Jason Bay (lf), Jason Pridie (cf), Carlos Beltran (rf)
Rotation - Jon Niese (lhp), Dillon Gee (rhp), R.A. Dickey (rhp), Chris Capuano (lhp), Mike Pelfrey (rhp)
Bench - Ronny Paulino (c), Nick Evans (inf), Scott Hairston (of), Willie Harris (of), Fernando Martinez (of)
Closer - Francisco Rodriguez (rhp)
Bullpen - Pedro Beato (rhp), Taylor Buchholz (rhp), Tim Byrdak (lhp), Jason Isringhausen (rhp), Pat Misch (lhp), Michael O'Connor (rhp)
Disabled List - Bobby Parnell (rhp), Johan Santana (lhp), Chris Young (rhp), Ike Davis (1b), David Wright (3b), Angel Pagan (cf)

At the Ballpark:  The first 25,000 fans will receive a Mets towel tonight, a Mets tote bag on Saturday night and a Jose Reyes baseball card on Sunday afternoon.

Phillies Probables: Roy Oswalt (3-2, 2.77), Cole Hamels (6-2, 3.06), Vance Worley (2-0, 2.14)
Mets Probables: Chris Capuano (3-5, 5.36), Mike Pelfrey (3-4, 5.37), Jon Niese (3-5, 4.33)

2011 Topps Heritage New Age Performers #NAP-1 Cliff Lee

Phillies 10, Reds 4
Game 50 - Thursday Afternoon, May 26th in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  A few hours after defeating the Reds in 19 innings, the Phillies did it again as Cliff Lee pitched and hit the team to victory, 10-4.

What It Means:  The Phils, now 31-19, took three out of four from the Reds and they maintained a one game lead over the surging Marlins.  They travel to New York where they'll open a three-game series with the Mets.

What Went Right:  On a day most of the players were still trying to recover from the night before, Lee (4-4) did it all.  He pitched eight solid inning while striking out eight.  At the plate, he went two for three with a double and three RBIs.  The red-hot Raul Ibanez added a three-run home run in the sixth and Michael Martinez, making his first start this year at short, added two hits and a pair of RBIs.  Chase Utley hit his first home run of the season in the eighth.

Featured Card:  Two Phillies are featured in the Heritage New Age Performers insert set this year, Lee and Roy Halladay.  To date, all of Lee's 2011 Topps baseball cards feature him in the Phillies road grays.  The reason?  I'm guessing it's easier to Photoshop the Phillies road uniforms than it is to digitally add the red pinstripes from the home uniforms.

Other Stuff:  Wilson Valdez, the newest folk hero in Philadelphia, received a nice standing ovation when he took the field this afternoon as the starting third baseman.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

2011 Chachi #37 Wilson Valdez HL

Phillies 5, Reds 4 (19 Innings)
Game 49 - Wednesday Night, May 25th in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  Raul Ibanez hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 19th to score Jimmy Rollins and secure the win for infielder Wilson Valdez in a very long, strange game.

What It Means:  It means I was very tired at work today.  For some odd reason, I decided to stay up and watch the entire game even though I was fairly tired when the game began.  The victory raised the team's record to 30-19 as they maintained a one game lead over the Marlins in the division.

2011 Phillies Team
Issue #55
What Went Right/Wrong:  This game had so many twists and turns, I've opted to forego paragraphs and just go the bulleted list route.
  • Way back in the first inning, Ben Francisco got the Phillies on the board with a 2-run home run.
  • Roy Halladay pitched seven innings, giving up 11 hits and three runs.  The Reds scored twice off Halladay in the seventh to tie it up, 3-3.
  • Jay Bruce hit a solo home run off Antonio Bastardo in the 10th as the Reds took a 4-3 lead.
  • Ryan Howard countered with a monster home run off Francisco Cordero in the bottom of the 10th to tie it up again, 4-4.
  • Kyle Kendrick and J.C. Romero somehow combined to hit a batter and walk three Reds in the 11th, yet the Reds failed to score.  Romero picked Brandon Phillips off second for the second out of the inning.  Phillips appeared to be joking around with Rollins right before the pick-off.
  • David Herndon pitched out of the 11th inning jam and went on to pitch scoreless frames in the 12th and 13th.
  • The unsung hero of the game was Danys Baez. Baez threw five shutout innings, allowing just one hit. 
  • "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" played during the 14th-inning stretch.
  • With the bullpen empty and Baez having thrown 73 pitches, Valdez (1-0) came in to pitch the 19th.
  • Carlos Ruiz, after catching 18 innings, moved to third.
  • Valdez induced the heart of the Reds order to fly out, pop up and pop up and he hit Scott Rolen with a pitch just for good measure.
  • Valdez became the first position player to earn the win in a game in which he started in the field since Babe Ruth did it in 1921.  (Read that sentence again.  Pretty cool, isn't it?)
  • The line for Herndon, Baez and Valdez - 8 1/3 innings, 1 hit, 0 runs.
  • The game ended at 1:19am.  I was still up, completely wired, well after 2am.
Featured Card:  As I was trying to fall asleep last night, I decided Valdez' feat deserved its own Chachi highlight card. 

Other Stuff:  Over at The Writer's Journey, JT agreed the game resulted in some "crazy stuff."

2010 Chachi #60 Leading Firemen - Brad Lidge & Ryan Madson

Reds 6, Phillies 3
Game 48 - Tuesday Night, May 24th in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  Ryan Madson had his first rough outing of the year, capped by Jay Bruce's three-run double in the ninth, as the Reds won, 6-3.

What It Means:  The Phillies record dropped to 29-19.

What Went Wrong:  Madson had a 13-game scoreless streak snapped as a result of Bruce's big hit.  The ninth got off to a rough start when Drew Stubbs laid down a bunt fielded by Madson.  Madson threw the ball past Ryan Howard at first and things unraveled from there.

Starter Vance Worley pitched well at the outset, but then sputtered in the fifth inning.  He began the frame by allowing a six-pitch walk to Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto.  Cueto and Drew Stubbs, who doubled to reach, both came in to score on Brandon Phillips RBI-single.

What Went Right:  Raul Ibanez continued his hot streak, going 3 for 4 with two runs scored and an RBI.

Featured Card:  Until this game, Madson had been wonderful in the closer's role so far this year.  Last year, things didn't go so well as he was seemingly easily rattled when handed the ball in big pressure situations.  He did manage to save five games in 2010, a distant second to Brad Lidge's 27 saves.  Also recording saves in 2010 - Jose Contreras (4), J.C. Romero (3) and Nelson Figueroa (1).  It was actually Figueroa's second career save.

Field Report:  Jenna and I were there and it was a gorgeous night for baseball.  The Phils are now 4-3 in games I've attended this year.  It was also Roy Oswalt bobble head night, and I've already added Roy to my bobble head shelf in the "real" Phillies Room.  Jenna has graciously agreed to allow her Oswalt bobble head to be offered as trade bait.  So if you're interested, please check out my wantlists and make me an offer I can't refuse.

Other Stuff:  JT, over at The Writer's Journey, made Bruce's three-run double the focus of his card commemorating the game.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

1969 Topps #229 Don Lock

Last night's game summary post coming soon . . . hopefully tomorrow.

Tonight's game summary post will be delayed due to the Phillies' inability to get a run home in the ninth with the bases loaded and one out.

And Jay Bruce makes me cranky.

Don Lock is not amused.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

2011 Topps Heritage #72 Jimmy Rollins/Chase Utley

Phillies 10, Reds 3
Game 47 - Monday Night, May 23rd in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  On the night Chase Utley made his 2011 debut, the Phillies found their bats and defeated the Reds, 10-3.

What It Means:  Through the first three innings of last night's game, the Phillies were averaging 27 runs a game in all of Utley's 2011 starts.  The team is now 29-18 with a two game lead over the Marlins.

What Went Right:  The largest regular season crowd in Citizens Bank Park history (45,841) came to its feet for a lengthy standing ovation when Utley approached the plate in the bottom of the first.  Thanks to a two-run home run from Placido Polanco in the top of the inning, the Phils already held a 2-0 lead.  They would pad the lead with Jimmy Rollins' 3-run home run in the third.  When it was all over, the Phils had belted out 14 hits and their offensive struggles were temporarily (hopefully permanently?) history.

Raul Ibanez continued his hot May going 2 for 3 with a solo home run and he added an awesome leaping catch in left field to boot.  Cole Hamels (6-2) served up another quality start, giving up five hits and three runs in his six innings of work.

Featured Card:  There's been no reason to feature this 2011 Topps Heritage card in a game summary post until now.  Even though Utley went 0 for 5 with a strikeout in his return, it's great to finally see the Rollins/Utley duo back together on the field.

Other Stuff:  The Writer's Journey had a different take on the game.  JT has been posting game summary cards for the Reds since the beginning of the season, so I'll link to his cards following each game of this Phillies-Reds series.

Monday, May 23, 2011

2011 Chachi #36 Chase Utley

Chase Cameron Utley
Second Base

Bats: Left  Throws: Right  Height: 6'1"  Weight: 200
Born: December 17, 1978, Pasadena, CA
Home: San Francisco, CA
Drafted: Selected by Phillies in 1st round of June 2000 draft
Teams: Phillies 2003-
Acquired: Via draft
Contract Status: Signed through the 2013 season

Complete Topps Base Set Checklist:
2003 Topps #682 - Phillies - Prospects (with Gavin Floyd)
2004 Topps #468 - Phillies
2005 Topps #481 - Phillies
2006 Topps #359 - Phillies
2006 Topps Update #233 - Phillies - All-Star
2007 Topps #350 - Phillies
2007 Topps Update #279 - Phillies - Classic Combo (with Ichiro Suzuki)
2008 Topps #98 - Phillies - Classic Combos (with Ryan Howard)
2008 Topps #460 - Phillies
2008 Topps Update #UH184 - Phillies - Home Run Derby
2008 Topps Update #UH241 - Phillies - All-Star
2009 Topps #200 - Phillies
2009 Topps Update #UH71 - Phillies - All-Star
2010 Topps #134 - Phillies - Team Card (with Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard)
2010 Topps #300 - Phillies
2011 Topps #214 - Phillies

Reds at Phillies: May 23rd through May 26th

Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday 7:05, Thursday 1:05

Reds 25-22, 2nd Place in N.L. Central, 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals
Phillies 28-18, 1st Place in N.L. East, 1 1/2 games ahead of the Marlins

First Game: The oldest franchise in baseball began its life in 1882 in the American Association, before switching over to the National League in 1890. The Reds met the Phillies for the first time ever back on May 16, 1890 in Philadelphia at Huntingdon Grounds. The Reds defeated the Phillies, 5-1, with Kid Gleason starting the game for the Phils.

Meet the Reds: Manager - Dusty Baker, in his fourth full season as manager of the Reds
Starters - Ryan Hangian (c), Joey Votto (1b), Brandon Phillips (2b), Scott Rolen (3b), Paul Janish (ss), Jonny Gomes (lf), Drew Stubbs (cf), Jay Bruce (rf)
Rotation - Bronson Arroyo (rhp), Johnny Cueto (rhp), Travis Wood (lhp), Homer Bailey (rhp), Edinson Volquez (rhp)
Bench - Ramon Hernandez (c), Miguel Cairo (inf), Edgar Renteria (inf), Chris Heisey (of), Fred Lewis (of)
Closer - Francisco Cordero (rhp)
Bullpen - Jose Arredondo (rhp), Bill Bray (lhp), Sam LeCure (rhp), Nick Masset (rhp), Logan Ondrusek (rhp), Jordan Smith (rhp)
Disabled List - Jared Burton (rhp), Aroldis Chapman (lhp)

At the Ballpark:  Tonight is another Hatfield Phillies Franks Dollar Dog Night and Tuesday night is Roy Oswalt bobble-head night.  Oswalt, of course, is the only Phillies starter who won't be appearing during this four-game series.

Reds Probables: Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, Travis Wood, Homer Bailey
Phillies Probables:  Cole Hamels, Vance Worley, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee

Sunday, May 22, 2011

1989 Topps Big #74 Mike Maddux

Rangers 2, Phillies 0
Game 46 - Sunday Afternoon, May 22nd in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  Matt Harrison and Neftali Feliz shut out the Phillies, as the offense continued to sputter along.

What It Means:  The Phils didn't sweep, but they at least won the series.  They're now 28-18.

What Went Wrong:  The Rangers scored only twice, but it's hard to beat a team when you don't score at all.  Raul Ibanez probably should have caught Mitch Moreland's fly ball in the sixth, but he didn't.  It was ruled a double and Michael Young came home for the Rangers first run.  They pushed across their second run when Adrian Beltre scored on a Craig Gentry suicide squeeze in the eighth.  Beltre had doubled off J.C. Romero to start the inning.

The Phillies mustered just five singles and they've now scored three or fewer runs in nine straight games.

What Went Right:  Roy Oswalt (3-2) pitched well, scattering eight hits over seven innings while striking out three.

Featured Card:  A comment from 14,000 Phillies on my recent post on Jeremy Giambi reminded me of the long line of "wrong" brothers finding their way into Phillies pinstripes.  Mike Maddux fell slightly short of his brother Greg's Hall of Fame caliber accomplishments, but he's carved out a very successful career as a Major League pitching coach.  He's in his third season with the Rangers following six seasons with the Brewers.

Maddux appeared in the Phillies Tastykake sets in 1985 and 1986 before breaking through with rookie cards in the 1987 sets from Donruss, Fleer and Topps.  He'd appear with the Phillies on baseball cards in 1988, 1989 and 1990, including this card from the 1989 Topps Big set.

Transactions:  I don't think it's officially official yet, but Chase Utley will be activated in time for tomorrow night's game against the Reds.  Also, Vance Worley will be recalled to take Joe Blanton's spot in the rotation once Blanton is placed on the disabled list.  The odd-man-out is Pete Orr, who has been optioned to AAA Lehigh Valley.

1968 Topps Phillies

1968 Topps #225, #139, #122 and #415
With no fanfare, let's jump right into an analysis of Phillies baseball cards in the 1968 Topps set, affectionately known as the "burlap" set.

1968 Topps #139 (Back)
The Set
Number of cards in the set:  Topps went back to 598 cards in 1968 after jumping up to 609 cards in 1967.
My very brief thoughts on the set:  At this point, I'm anxious to get into the '70s, since I just don't know that much about these sets from the late '60s.  I didn't own any '68 Topps cards as I was growing up, so I have no emotional connection to these cards.
Notable competition:  It's still just a few oddball sets providing scant competition for Topps.  There are Phillies cards in the Bazooka, Coca-Cola, Arco and Nabisco sets from 1968.

1968 Phillies
Record and finish:  The team dipped down below .500 for the first time since 1961, finishing with a record of 76-86.  They tied for 7th place in the National League, 21 games behind the dominant Cardinals.
Key players:  Despite his troubles (see below), Dick Allen led the offense with his .263 average, 33 home runs and 90 RBIs.  Johnny Callison, with 14 home runs, was the only other Phillie to hit more than 10.  On the pitching side, Chris Short had another fine year, going 19-13 with a 2.94 ERA.
Key events:  Here's the first sentence of the 1968 season summary per The Phillies Encyclopedia - "The Dick Allen-Gene Mauch fight went from simmer to boil, cost Mauch his job, and turned the fans against Allen worse than ever."  The entry then goes on to summarize the various conflicts between player and manager beginning in spring training and culminating with Mauch's dismissal on June 14th.  Coach George Myatt served as interim manager for two games before Bob Skinner was brought in on a permanent basis.  And I love that Jim from Downingtown currently sponsors the 1968 Phillies page over at Baseball Reference with the cavaet, "Hey, SOMEONE needs to like this team!"

1968 Topps #190, #327, #245 and #284
1968 Phillies in 1968 Topps
Cards needed for a complete team set:  There are 30 cards needed for a complete 1968 Topps Phillies team set.  That's 270 total Phillies Topps cards from the '60s and 443 Phillies Topps cards overall.
Who’s in:  First, please refer to this post from Jim from Downington's 1968 Topps Baseball blog with regards to team distribution and then come on back here for the Phillies break-down -
  • Cards of the eight starting position players - 7 cards
#306 Mike Ryan (c), #190 Bill White (1b), #39 Cookie Rojas (2b), #327 Tony Taylor (3b), #225 Dick Allen (lf), #245 Tony Gonzalez (cf), #415 Johnny Callison (rf)
  • Cards of the starting pitching rotation - 4 cards
#139 Chris Short, #81 Larry Jackson, #112 Woodie Fryman, #262 Rick Wise

1968 Topps #81, #112, #262 and #217
  • Base cards of other players who played with the Phillies in 1968 - 11 cards
#17 Dick Hall, #59 Don Lock, #98 Gary Sutherland, #173 John Boozer, #217 Turk Farrell, #284 John Briggs, #396 Bobby Wine, #434 Rick Joseph, #448 Gary Wagner, #512 Grant Jackson, #567 Clay Dalrymple
  • 1968 Rookie Stars cards - 2 cards
#348 Larry Colton/Dick Thoenen and #579 Larry Hisle with the Braves' Mike Lum
    1968 Topps #7
  • League Leader cards - 4 cards
#1 Batting Leaders with Gonzalez, #7 ERA Leaders with Jim Bunning and Short, #9 Pitching (Victory) Leaders with Bunning and #11 Strikeout Leaders with Bunning
  • Manager card - 1 card for Gene Mauch, #122
  • Team card - 1 card, #477
Who’s out:  The team's regular shortstop, Roberto Pena, appeared in 138 games but did not get a Topps baseball card in 1968.  Pitcher Jerry Johnson started 11 games and had a record of 4-4 with a 3.24 ERA. Johnson would get a Phillies card in the 1969 Topps set, but Pena (to date) has never had a Phillies baseball card.  He was selected by San Diego in the October 1968 expansion draft and appeared in the 1969 Topps set with the Padres.
Phillies on other teams:  Surprisingly, none.
What’s he doing here:  Dick Thoenen shares a Rookie Stars card with Larry Colton, despite pitching in just 1 inning with the team in 1967.  It would be his first and last appearance in the Majors.
Cards that never were candidates:  Pena, Johnson and rookie Don Money, acquired in December 1967 from the Pirates along with Woodie Fryman for Bunning.  Money made his Major League debut in April and appeared in four games.  Interim manager Myatt could be a candidate for a 1968 Topps "update" card as well.  Skinner would appear as the team's skipper in the 1969 Topps set.
Favorite Phillies card: I'll go with Short's card edging out Mauch's final manager card.

1968 Topps #306, #396, #59 and #567
Other Stuff
Recycled:  Baseball Cards Magazine used the '68 Topps design for their Repli-Cards in 1993.  Look for the design in the upcoming 2017 Topps Heritage set.
Blogs/Websites:  As mentioned previously, head on over to the 1968 Topps Baseball blog once you've finished up with this post.
Did You Know?:  Series 1 of the '68 Topps set, the first 109 cards, feature a "wider" burlap design than the rest of the cards in the set, which featured a finer burlap design.  I'd love to hear the behind the scenes story that led to Topps changing the burlap pattern following the first series of the set.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

2010 Chachi #73 Cliff Lee HL

Phillies 2, Rangers 0
Game 45 - Saturday Night, May 21st in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  Cliff Lee (3-4) pitched masterfully, shutting down the Rangers over eight innings while the offense exploded for eight hits.

What It Means:  The Phillies improved to 28-17 and they maintain a game and half lead over the Marlins in the division.  They'll go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon behind Roy Oswalt.

What Went Right:  Lee allowed just five hits while striking out ten during his outing.  He also singled, stole a base and successfully performed the Heimlich Maneuver on a fan choking on a cheese steak in Section 114, saving the man's life.  Ryan Madson earned his ninth save, lowering his ERA to 0.47.

Ryan Howard and John Mayberry, Jr. provided the offense.  Howard led off the second with his tenth home run of the year, breaking an 0 for 23 slide, and Mayberry singled home Raul Ibanez in the sixth.

Featured Card:  The back-to-back performances turned in by Roy Halladay and Lee against the Rangers are exactly what I was daydreaming about back in December when Lee returned to the Phillies via free agency.  He had turned down offers from the Rangers and Yankees to return to Philly and I spent the rest of the off-season waiting to see this rotation in action.  Halladay and Lee have not disappointed.

Other Stuff:  Madson became the first Phillie to record saves in seven consecutive Phillies wins since Doug Jones did it back in 1994.  Domonic Brown made his 2011 Phillies debut, going 0 for 4 with two strikeouts.

2011 Chachi #35 Domonic Brown

Domonic Larun Brown

Bats: Left  Throws: Left  Height: 6'5"  Weight: 205
Born: September 3, 1987, Zephyrhills, FL
Home: Lithonia, GA
Drafted: Selected by Phillies in 20th round of June 2006 draft
Teams: Phillies 2010-
Acquired: Via draft
Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible

Complete Topps Base Set Checklist:
2010 Topps Update #US318 - Phillies

Friday, May 20, 2011

2011 Topps Walmart Hanger Pack #WHP11 Roy Halladay

Phillies 3, Rangers 2
Game 44 - Friday Night, May 20th in Philadelphia

One Sentence Summary:  Roy Halladay worked with the few runs he was provided by Ben Francisco and Raul Ibanez as the Phils edged the Rangers, 3-2.

What It Means:  Interleague play is back!  Woo.

The Phillies are now 27-17 with a two game lead over the Marlins, as I write this.  They'll try to score a few more times tomorrow night in support of Cliff Lee.

What Went Right:  The Phillies managed only four hits, but two of those hits were Francisco's 2-run home run in the second and Ibanez' solo home run in the fourth.  Working with no margin for error, Halladay (6-3) allowed just two runs on six hits while striking out seven.  Ryan Madson did it again, saving his eighth game of the year.

Featured Card:  Putting together a complete checklist of Phillies baseball cards from the Topps Series 1 release has been a daunting task.  I didn't even know this Halladay card existed until seeing it last week on CheckOutMyCards.com.  Apparently, this particular card is found exclusively within "hanger packs" of Topps Series 1 available for sale at Walmart.  I'm assuming a hanger pack is what we used to call a rack pack back in the day, but I could be wrong.  This isn't to be confused with the 2011 Topps Walmart Blue Diamond exclusive card of Halladay, which can also be found only at Walmart, but in a non-hanger pack.  Regardless of the card's long name, or it's availability only in Walmart hanger packs, it's actually a nice looking baseball card.

Not to be left out, there are also exclusive Phillies insert cards available in packs of cards for sale at both Target and Toys 'R Us.

Transactions:  Shane Victorino was placed on the DL prior to the game, and top prospect Domonic Brown was recalled.  It's expected that Brown will be inserted into the starting line-up immediately to face right-handed starters.  Also, Scott Mathieson was optioned to Lehigh Valley and David Herndon was recalled, just to give the Phils a fresh arm in the 'pen.