Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Phillies at Nationals: July 31st to August 2nd

Nationals Park - Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 7:05

At the Ballpark:  Thursday night is a Beltway Burger Pack night.  Fans can receive a ticket, burger, fries and a drink for $20.

Did I mention I'm at the beach this week?  Live posting will return after a frenzy of outdated game summary posts at some point next week.

Farewell, Flyin' Hawaiian

I wanted to take a quick break from the grind of sitting on the beach to bid a fond farewell to my son Doug's favorite player.  Shane Victorino has been Doug's favorite since the day five years ago when the Flyin' Hawaiian "stole" him during a Phillies photo day and threatened to take him home.  This photo is blown up and hanging in the real Phillies Room.

Thank you Shane.  Thank you for 2008 and thank you for your 6+ years of hustle and Gold Glove defense.  All the best in Dodgertown.

2012 Chachi #38 B.J. Rosenberg

Brian James Rosenberg
Relief Pitcher

Bats: Right  Throws: Right  Height: 6'3"  Weight: 220
Born: September 17, 1985, Newport News, VA
Home: Carmel, IN
Drafted: Selected by Phillies in 13th round of June 2008 draft
Teams: Phillies 2012
Acquired: Via draft
Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible

Monday, July 30, 2012

2012 Chachi #37 Michael Martinez

Michael Gabriel Martinez

Bats: Switch  Throws: Right  Height: 5'9"  Weight: 175
Born: September 16, 1982, Santo Domingo, DR
Home: Santo Domingo, DR
Signed: Signed as an amateur free agent by the Washington Nationals, June 17, 2005
Teams: Phillies 2011-
Acquired: Selected in Rule 5 draft from the Washington Nationals, December 9, 2010
Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible

Sunday, July 29, 2012

2012 Chachi #36 Mike Fontenot

Michael Eugene Fontenot
Second Base - Third Base

Bats: Left  Throws: Right  Height: 5'8"  Weight: 165
Born: June 9, 1980, Slidell, LA
Drafted: Selected by Baltimore Orioles in 1st round of June 2001 draft
Teams: Chicago Cubs 2005, 2007-2010, San Francisco Giants 2010-2011, Phillies 2012
Acquired: Signed as a free agent formerly with the San Francisco Giants, April 13, 2012
Contract Status: Signed through the 2012 season

Saturday, July 28, 2012

1992 Bowman #587 Chad McConnell

Braves 6, Phillies 1
Game 100 - Friday Night, July 27th in Atlanta
Record - 45-55, 5th Place, 14 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Fresh off his new contract, Cole Hamels pitched poorly in a 6-1 loss against the Braves.

What It Means:  Prior to the game,  General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. frankly stated that the Phillies would need to win this series in order to convince him not to start trading off players.  So the next two games are extremely crucial.

What Went Wrong:  Hamels walked a career high six batters and the Phillies managed just a lone first inning run against Braves starter Ben Sheets.

Featured Cards:  I made the right choice last night by largely ignoring the Phillies game and watching the Olympic Opening Ceremonies instead.  I'm a sucker for large televised spectacles, such as last night's ceremonies, and I enjoyed the happenings from London much more than the happenings from Atlanta.

From Wikipedia, so it must be accurate, baseball had been an exhibition sport at the Olympics since the 1904 Summer Games.  At the 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008 Summer Games, baseball attained official medal status, only to be voted out of the 2012 games.  It seems that one of the major reasons for baseball losing its spot in the Olympics is that its not an internationally popular sport.  It's also impossible for the U.S. to send its "best" team as participation in the Games would mean missing two weeks of the regular season for the Major League's All-Stars.

1988 Topps Traded #71T
So in the spirit of the Olympics, I thought it would be interesting to look back to the five official U.S. Olympic baseball squads and see how many future Phillies were on the rosters.  (This list includes players who reached the Majors with the Phils, and not Phillies farmhands.)  Former first round pick Chad McConnell never made it to the bigs, but I couldn't resist using his gold-foil bordered Team USA card from the 1992 Bowman set.  And I didn't include Mickey Morandini on the list below, since baseball was just an exhibition sport in the 1988 Summer Olympics.

Olympics (Standings) - Future Phillies (Years with Phillies)
1992 (fourth place) - Michael Tucker (2005)
1996 (Bronze Medal) - Travis Lee (2000-2002), A.J. Hinch (2004)
2000 (Gold Medal) - Ryan Franklin (2006), Roy Oswalt (2010-2011)
2004 - U.S. did not qualify
2008 - (Bronze Medal) - Lou Marson (2008)

Programming Note:  The Phillies Room is going on auto-pilot once again as the blog's management has decided to to go sit on the beach for the week.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Phillies at Braves: July 27th to July 29th

Turner Field - Atlanta, GA
Friday 7:35, Saturday 7:10, Sunday 1:35

Phillies 45-54, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 14 1/2 games behind the Nationals
Braves 54-44, 2nd Place in the N.L. East, 5 games behind the Nationals

Phillies Probables:  Cole Hamels (11-4, 3.23), Joe Blanton (8-8, 4.70), Roy Halladay (4-5, 4.32)
Braves Probables:  Ben Sheets (2-0, 0.00), Mike Minor (5-7, 5.49), Tim Hudson (9-4, 3.71)

At the Ballpark:  The first 10,000 fans through the turnstiles tonight at Turner Field will receive a Tim Hudson home alternate t-shirt.  On Sunday afternoon, kids will be allowed to run the bases following the completion of the crushing series sweep by the Phillies.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Carlos Ruiz - .345
Runs:  Hunter Pence - 59
Home Runs:  Hunter Pence - 17
RBIs:  Hunter Pence - 59
Stolen Bases:  Juan Pierre - 23

Wins:  Cole Hamels - 11
ERA:  Cole Hamels - 3.23
Strikeouts:  Cole Hamels - 131
Saves:  Jonathan Papelbon - 22

1979 Topps #504
1979 Topps Flashback:  Larry McWilliams made a brief 40-game pitstop in Philadelphia in 1989 towards the tail-end of his 13-year career.  As a starter and a reliever, McWilliams posted a 2-11 record with the Phils a 4.10 ERA before being shipped to the Royals in early September for minor league catcher Jeff Hulse.  His time with the Phillies has been memorialized with three baseball cards, all from 1989 issues - Bowman, Topps Traded and the team-issued Tastykake set.

McWilliams spent his first six seasons with the Braves, and he's credited with helping to halt Pete Rose's 44-game hit streak in 1978.  On August 1, 1978, he was the starting pitcher in the game that saw the end to the streak and his diving stop of a ball hit by Rose up the middle in the 2nd was the closest Rose came to advancing his streak that day.

2012 Phillies Team Issue 2 #31 Erik Kratz

Phillies 7, Brewers 6 (10 Innings)
Game 99 - Wednesday Afternoon, July 25th in Philadelphia
Record - 45-54, 5th Place, 14 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  On the day the Phillies locked up Cole Hamels for at least six more years, the team mounted yet another improbable comeback, winning in the 10th on Jimmy Rollins' single.

What It Means:  Maybe this thing isn't over yet?  This was the first three-game series sweep by the Phillies all season.

What Went Right:  The Phillies posted an early 5-1 lead before the Brewers came back against Vance Worley and Antonio Bastardo to eventually tie the ballgame.  The Brewers then took the lead in the 10th.  In the bottom of the 10th, trailing 6-5, John Mayberry, Jr. walked and was then doubled to third by Erik Kratz.  Carlos Ruiz' sac fly scored Mayberry to tie the game and Rollins' single to center plated the winning run.

Chase Utley enjoyed a three-hit day while driving in three runs.  Kratz, who has somehow had a hand in each of the wins against the Brewers, went 3 for 5.

Featured Card:  Rollins had the winning hit, but I figured it was time to feature Kratz and his first (and to date only) Phillies card, recently released within the team's second half postcard-sized set.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

2008 Upper Deck Goudey #144 Cole Hamels

And suddenly, it's fun to be a Phillies fan again.

Yesterday, Cole Hamels signed a six-year, $144 million contract extension, which should keep him with the Phillies through at least the 2018 season.  Depending on a few options in place, the contract could keep Hamels with the Phils through 2019.  It's the largest contract in the history of Philadelphia sports, and it's the second largest contract for a pitcher in baseball, behind what the Yankees gave CC Sabathia.  Appropriately enough, when I did a search for "Hamels 144" in my Zistle collection, this card from his finest year popped up.

A few hours following the official press conference to announce the deal, the Phillies walked off with their fourth straight win - all four wins coming in the team's final at-bat.  (Game summary post coming soon.)

It's been a dreadful season to this point, but I like the energy the team has shown over the past week.  October baseball is still a long-shot, but stranger things have happened.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2012 Phillies Team Issue 2 #51 Carlos Ruiz

Phillies 7, Brewers 6
Game 98 - Tuesday Night, July 24th in Philadelphia
Record - 44-54, 5th Place, 14 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies did it again, stunning the Brewers with a six-run eighth inning and winning the game, 7-6.

What It Means:  Wow!  Phillies baseball is exciting again!  They've won three games in a row and they'll go for the sweep this afternoon.

What Went Right:  Cliff Lee had another off-night, departing after seven innings, trailing 6-1.  It looked like yet another in a line of lopsided defeats until the team mounted an improbable comeback in the eighth.

Pinch-hitter Erik Kratz started the scoring with a two-run home run off Manny Parra, making it 6-3.  Parra then proceeded to walk the bases loaded and up stepped Carlos Ruiz, the clear-cut team MVP.  Chooch delivered with a three-run, game tying double and it was a new ballgame.  Hunter Pence blooped in a hit to right to score Ruiz and the comeback was complete.

2011 Topps Diamond Duos #DD-3
Featured Cards:  (I wrote this first bit before last night's bottom of the eighth.)  It's hard to find a good reason to post any of these Diamond Duos cards, inserted into last year's Topps set.  But last night's Lee-Greinke match-up makes this the perfect card for this post.  Greinke definitely got the best of the struggling Lee, even hitting a home run off Lee in the seventh.

And of course, Chooch's clutch three-run double completely negated the bad vibes caused by Lee's tough night.  So the new featured card became Ruiz's from the recently released Phillies Team Issue, Series 2.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2008 Topps #98 Ryan Howard & Chase Utley

Phillies 7, Brewers 6
Game 97 - Monday Night, July 23rd in Philadelphia
Record - 43-54, 5th Place, 14 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies scored four times in the ninth to complete the comeback and defeat the Brewers, 7-6.

What It Means:  Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

What Went Right:  Roy Halladay struggled (6 innings, 6 runs, 8 hits) but for once his offense bailed him out.  Chase Utley and Ryan Howard started the scoring, hitting back-to-back home runs in the first off Brewers starter Randy Wolf.

With the Brewers leading 6-3 to start the bottom of the ninth, the Phillies plated four runs, highlighted by Howard's two-run single and Carlos Ruiz' game-tying single.  Ty Wigginton sealed the win with a sacrifice fly to left to score pinch-runner Erik Kratz who had come in to run for Howard.

Featured Card:  This win felt great.  I've had a rough few weeks at my place of employment, and the only things providing any temporary solace at night are my wonderful little family and an occasional Phillies win.  For the first time in what seems like years, Utley and Howard teamed up to power the Phillies to victory.  This is their Classic Combo card from the 2008 Topps set, released at what would be the start of a magical season.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Brewers at Phillies: July 23rd to July 25th

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

Brewers 44-50, 4th Place in the N.L. Central, 10 1/2 games behind the Reds
Phillies 42-54, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 14 games behind the Nationals

Brewers Probables:  Randy Wolf (3-6, 5.60), Zack Greinke (9-3, 3.57), Marco Estrada (0-4, 4.10)
Phillies Probables:  Roy Halladay (4-5, 3.96), Cliff Lee (1-6, 3.72), Vance Worley (5-6, 3.82)

At the Ballpark:  Tonight is the team's annual Italian Heritage Celebration.  Coinciding with Christmas in July on Tuesday night, the Phillies are hosting a toy drive at all entrance gates.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Carlos Ruiz - .346
Runs:  Hunter Pence - 59
Home Runs:  Hunter Pence - 17
RBIs:  Hunter Pence - 57
Stolen Bases:  Juan Pierre and Shane Victorino - 21

Wins:  Cole Hamels - 11
ERA:  Cole Hamels - 3.23
Strikeouts:  Cole Hamels - 131
Saves:  Jonathan Papelbon - 21

1979 Topps #474 and #52
1979 Topps Flashback:  I don't think I ever realized until just now that Topps utilized the same purple-pink color scheme for the Phillies and Brewers within its 1979 set.  How did they come up with these color combinations back then?  The '70s were a strange time indeed.

Today's flashback features two players traded for each other on March 1, 1981.  Randy Lerch was drafted by the Phillies in 1973 and made his Major League debut at the end of the 1975 season.  Primarily a starter, Lerch's best season with the Phillies was 1978, when he hit career highs in wins (11) and strikeouts (96).  Lerch famously hit two home runs on September 30, 1978, in the division clinching game for the Phillies.  He had a decent season in 1979, going 10-13 with a 3.74 ERA in 214 innings pitched - a career high.  He was shipped to the Brewers after earning his World Series ring in 1980.  From 1981 to 1984, Lerch appeared pitched with the Brewers, Expos and Giants before making his way back to the Phillies system.  He appeared in 4 games with the 1986 Phillies before calling it a career.

Dick Davis was a light-hitting outfielder who found much more success in Japan than he did in the U.S.  Following four seasons with the Brewers, the Phillies picked him up to bolster their outfield for the 1981 season.  In his bench role, Davis hit .311 in 73 games with the Phils.  The Phillies traded him to the Blue Jays in June 1982 for Wayne Nordhagen and a week later, the Blue Jays shipped him to the Pirates for a player to be named later.  Ironically, the player to be named later was Nordhagen, whom the Phils had flipped to the Pirates for Bill Robinson.

Davis played four seasons (1984-1988) with the Kinetsu Buffaloes in Japan, with his best season coming in 1985 when he hit 40 home runs and had 109 RBIs.

2012 Topps Heritage #465 John Mayberry, Jr.

Phillies 4, Giants 3 (12 Innings)
Game 96 - Sunday Afternoon, July 22nd in Philadelphia
Record - 42-54, 5th Place, 14 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Jimmy Rollins' RBI-single in the 12th sealed the win for the Phillies, on a day that saw John Mayberry, Jr. homer twice.

What It Means:  It means the Phillies salvaged at least one game out of the series with the Giants, barely avoiding the sweep.  It also breaks a seven-game home losing streak.

What Went Right:  Joe Blanton (possible trade bait?) allowed a lead-off home run to Nate Schierholtz and then settled in for eight solid innings.  Schierholtz victimized Blanton again in the eighth, hitting his second home run of the day and tying up the game 3-3.  The bullpen trio of Antonio Bastardo, Jeremy Horst and Kyle Kendrick shut down the Giants for four innings, setting up Rollins' heroics.

Featured Card:  Sure it was Rollins' hit that won the game, but without Mayberry's two home runs, it would have been a 3-1 Giants win in regulation.  This is his short-printed card from this year's Topps Heritage set.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

2012 Phillies Team Issue 2 #8 Shane Victorino

Giants 6, Phillies 5 (10 Innings)
Game 95 - Saturday Afternoon, July 21st in Philadelphia
Record - 41-54, 5th Place, 14 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Jonathan Papelbon let another one get away, as the Phils lost again in extras, 6-5.

What It Means:  So much for momentum.  Coming off the feel-good four-game win streak, the Phillies have lost three in row following this game.

What Went Wrong:  Cole Hamels, with trade rumors swirling, gutted his way through 7 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on ten hits while striking out six.  He also hit his first career home run, paying back Matt Cain who had just hit a home run off Hamels.  Chase Utley hit a solo home run in the first and Ryan Howard hit a three-run home run in the sixth to give the Phillies a 5-4 lead.

But Hamels allowed his third home run of the day in the eighth to the smoking hot Melky Cabrera, and the game was tied.  Papelbon pitched a scoreless ninth, but couldn't escape the tenth.

2012 Phillies Team
Issue 2 #47
Featured Cards:  The Phillies have outdone themselves with the release of a 40-card second series of their team issued photo cards.  Similar to the prior two years, the 2012 second series features an entirely new design, new photos and new players.  I'm very impressed with the player selection here, and with the exception of B.J. Rosenberg, who appeared in three games in June, every member of the 2012 squad (to date) now has a Phillies card.  Here's the break-down when compared to the first series:

Cards Subracted (8) - Michael Martinez, Domonic Brown, Scott Podsednik, Jim Thome, Michael Stutes, Chad Qualls, Jose Contreras, David Herndon
Cards Added (10) - Jason Pridie, Mike Fontenot, Hector Luna, Erik Kratz, Raul Valdes, Jeremy Horst, Brian Sanches, Joe Savery, Jake Diekman, Announcers card

I've featured Shane Victorino's card at the top of this post because his name is coming up in a bunch of trade rumors these days too.  Victorino collected his 1,000th career hit in this game and sadly, it appears as if his time as a Phil could be coming to an end.

Field Report:  I was able to pick up the new photo card set since Jenna and I were at this game as part of the largest regular-season crowd in Citizens Bank Park history.  I sincerely hope it's not the last time I get to see Hamels in his home Phillies uniform.  The Phillies are now 3-5 in games I've attended this season.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

2007 Chachi #42 J.A. Happ

Giants 7, Phillies 2
Game 94 - Friday Night, July 20th in Philadelphia
Record - 41-53, 5th Place, 13 1/2 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  Vance Worley imploded in the sixth, allowing a grand slam to Brandon Crawford, as the Giants rocked the Phillies, 7-2.

What It Means:  Will this infernal season ever end?  At 17-28, the Phillies have the worst home record in the National League.

What Went Wrong:  The Phillies couldn't capitalize with runners in scoring position in the second, fourth and fifth innings against Tim Lincecum, who has struggled this season.  Worley actually pitched a decent ballgame until the fateful sixth inning.  His final line - six runs, six hits, three walks and nine strikeouts.

Featured Card:  In former Phillies news, Ben Francisco and J.A. Happ were swapped for each other yesterday as part of a ten-player trade pulled off between the Astros and Blue Jays.  This has absolutely nothing to do with yesterday's Phillies game, but the odds of the Phillies pulling off their own trades increase with each painful loss.  The non-waiver trade deadline is just 10 days away.

2012 Topps Archives #214 Mitch Williams

Dodgers 5, Phillies 3 (12 Innings)
Game 93 - Wednesday Afternoon, July 18th in Los Angeles
Record - 41-52, 5th Place, 14 games behind the Nationals

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies lost a heart-breaker in extra innings, as Jonathan Papelbon's blown save in the tenth set up the dramatic Dodgers win.

What It Means:  Blech.  What should have been, could have been a sweep of the Dodgers turned out to be a painful reminder that the Phillies just aren't very good this year.

What Went Wrong:  Hunter Pence singled to give the Phils a two-run lead in the tenth, and Papelbon was summoned from the bullpen to try to lock down the win.  He didn't.  The Dodgers scored twice off the closer to tie the game back up and Matt Kemp hit a two-run home run off reliever Jake Diekman in the 12th to end it.

Cliff Lee and Clayton Kershaw had pitched to a 1-1 tie through eight innings.  Lee allowed just two hits while striking out four in his stellar outing.

Featured Card:  Jose Mesa made an appearance the last time Papelbon blew a save, and this time it's Mitchy-Poo's turn.  Williams, who had his share of painful blown saves, is third on the Phillies all-time save list with 102, behind Mesa (112) and Steve Bedrosian (103).

Williams was featured on a short-printed card in this year's Archives release.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Giants at Phillies: July 20th to July 22nd

Citizens Bank Park - Philadelphia, PA
Friday 7:05, Saturday 4:05, Sunday 1:35

Giants 51-41, 1st Place in the N.L. West, 2 1/2 games ahead of the Dodgers
Phillies 41-52, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 13 1/2 games behind the Nationals

Giants Probables:  Tim Lincecum (3-10, 5.93), Matt Cain (10-3, 2.56), Barry Zito (8-6, 3.75)
Phillies Probables:  Vance Worley (5-5, 3.47), Cole Hamels (11-4, 3.07), Joe Blanton (8-8, 4.79)

At the Ballpark:  Tomorrow afternoon is Phillies Photo Day and fans will be permitted onto the field to take close-up pictures of the meandering Phillies players, coaches and broadcasters.  All fans will also receive a "2012 Phillies Print," which if it's anything like prior years will be a team photo.  On Sunday afternoon, kids will receive a Roy Halladay Fathead Jr. - aka a Halladay sticker you can stick to a wall.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Carlos Ruiz - .350
Runs:  Hunter Pence - 59
Home Runs:  Hunter Pence - 17
RBIs:  Hunter Pence - 57
Stolen Bases:  Juan Pierre and Shane Victorino - 21

Wins:  Cole Hamels - 11
ERA:  Cole Hamels - 3.07
Strikeouts:  Cole Hamels - 125
Saves:  Jonathan Papelbon - 21

1979 Topps #317
1979 Topps Flashback:  When I was pairing up Phillies cards to feature within the flashback segment of my series preview posts, Jose Cardenal was the odd man out.  In his 18-year career, Cardenal played with the Giants, Angels, Indians, Cardinals, Brewers, Cubs, Phillies, Mets and Royals, yet there wasn't a natural pairing with another Phillies-related 1979 Topps card for the light-hitting outfielder.  So here he is, all by himself.

Cardenal spent all of 1978 and part of 1979 with the Phillies, appearing in 116 games and hitting .241.