Monday, September 30, 2013

2013 Choice Lehigh Valley IronPigs Update #13 Michael Martinez

Braves 12, Phillies 5
Game 162 - Sunday Afternoon, September 29th in Atlanta
Record - 73-89, 4th Place, 23 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies limped into the offseason with yet another brutal loss, dropping the season finale to the Braves, 12-5.

What It Means:  Pitchers and catchers will report to Clearwater in about 140 days.  This is the seventh time since 1980 the Phillies have lost at least 89 games in a season.  The other forgettable seasons were - 1988 (96), 1989 (95), 1992 (92), 1996 (95), 1997 (94) and 2000 (97).

What Went Wrong:  The Phillies never had a chance in this game as starter Zach Miner allowed five runs in his 2 1/3 innings of work.  Relievers J.C. Ramirez and Cesar Jimenez couldn't stop the bleeding, allowing a combined five more runs in their three innings of work.

Featured Card:  Michael Martinez singled with two outs in the ninth for the final Phillies hit of the 2013 season.  Martinez, who in most organizations would represent Triple-A depth and not a Major League bat off the bench, perfectly represents the shortcomings of '13 Phillies.  He finished the season with a .175 average (7 for 40) in 28 games.  Nothing against Martinez and most of his 2013 Phillies teammates, but I hope they're playing elsewhere in 2014.

Memory Lane:  On a personal note, this is now the fifth season in a row that I've tracked the Phillies season with game summary posts following each game.  While the Phillies were definitely tough to watch at times this year, I still enjoyed my daily ritual of summarizing the game, sharing my personal thoughts on the team and coming up with a baseball card from my Phillies collection with some connection to the game.

I know I'm not breaking any news with these game summary posts, and I won't win any Pulitzer Prizes.  But it's fun.  And I'll be back next year.

Here are the links to the other Game 162s from the prior four seasons:

October 4, 2009 - Catcher Paul Hoover singled in the winning run in the 10th in a 7-6 win over the Marlins.
October 3, 2010 - The Phillies lost 8-7 to the Braves in their final tune-up before facing the Reds in the N.L.D.S.
September 28, 2011 - The Phillies closed out the 2011 regular season with a 13-inning victory against the Braves, setting a franchise record with their 102nd regular season win.
October 3, 2012 - The Phillies closed out their 2012 season with a lethargic 5-1 loss to the N.L. East Champion Nationals.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

2013 Topps Heritage #237 Jimmy Rollins

Phillies 5, Braves 4
Game 161 - Saturday Night, September 28th in Atlanta
Record - 73-88, Tied for 3rd Place, 22 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  The bullpen pitched effectively again (until Jonathan Papelbon entered the ballgame) and the Phillies defeated the Braves, 5-4.

What It Means:  The win means the Phillies will avoid a 90-loss season and a win this afternoon will give Ryne Sandberg a 21-21 record since taking over for Charlie Manuel in mid-August.

What Went Right:  Five different relievers, starting with Ethan Martin, combined to allow just one run over eight innings.  Luis Garcia pitched two shutout innings and earned his first Major League win.  Papelbon allowed a three-run home run in the ninth, but managed to get out of a jam thanks to a fantastic defensive play from shortstop Jimmy Rollins.

Cesar Hernandez enjoyed a four hit game and Cameron Rupp started the scoring for the Phils with a two-run single in the first.

Featured Card:  Rollins had two hits and scored twice in this game, but it was his diving catch to end the ballgame that reminded me that he's still very good at what he does.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

2013 Chachi #71 Strikeout Leaders - Cliff Lee & Cole Hamels

Braves 1, Phillies 0
Game 160 - Friday Night, September 27th in Atlanta
Record - 72-88, 4th Place, 23 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  With the exception of the home run allowed to Chris Johnson in the eighth, Cliff Lee pitched a phenomenal ballgame in a 1-0 loss to the Braves.

What It Means:  It was Lee's final start of the season, and he finished with a 14-8 record and a 2.87 ERA.  Lee struck out 222 in 222 2/3 innings while walking only 32.  He finished the month of September with 54 strikeouts to just one walk, making him the first pitcher in baseball history to strikeout 50 or more and walk one or less in any given month.  That's pretty impressive.

What Went Wrong:  The offense managed two hits off Kris Medlen, and they've now scored five runs in their last five games.  They have not hit a home run in nine consecutive games, which is the longest homerless drought since 1989.

Featured Card:  I'm breaking out the first Chachi team leader card with two games left in the season only because both Lee and Cole Hamels have pitched in their last games this year.  For the second season in a row, the duo recorded over 200 strikeouts a piece, making it the fifth time in overall franchise history that's happened.

1965 - Jim Bunning (268) and Chris Short (237)
2010 - Roy Halladay (219) and Hamels (211)
2011 - Lee (238) and Halladay (220)
2012 - Hamels (216) and Lee (207)
2013 - Lee (222) and Hamels (202)

Friday, September 27, 2013

2013 Choice Lehigh Valley IronPigs Update #19 Mauricio Robles

Braves 7, Phillies 1
Game 159 - Thursday Night, September 26th in Atlanta
Record - 72-87, 4th Place, 22 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  Starting pitcher Tyler Cloyd was demolished early and often in a lopsided 7-1 loss to the N.L. East Champion Braves.

What It Means:  The Phillies need to win one of their final three games to avoid losing 90 in a season for the first time since 2000 when Terry Francona's awful club went 65-97.

What Went Wrong:  Cloyd was pulled four batters into the second inning.  When the dust had settled, he had allowed all seven runs on eight hits.  Surprisingly enough, the bullpen held the Braves scoreless for the last six innings of the game.  Rookie Mauricio Robles threw three shutout innings and struck out four.

Featured Card:  One of the few silver linings to come out of the dark gray storm cloud of the Phillies season is the emergence of several young relievers who could be key players with the team in 2014.  Robles was a waiver claim this past winter from the Mariners.  In 34 games this season with Triple-A Lehigh Valley he compiled a 1.42 ERA over 38 innings.  His walk to strikeout ratio (31 to 26) is awful, but he's got a good arm and he's only 24.  (Trying to stay positive, folks.)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

2013 Chachi Special Edition #RS Rick Schu

To:  The 2013 Philadelphia Phillies
From:  The Phillies Room


Phillies at Braves: September 26th to September 29th

Thursday 7:10, Friday 7:30, Saturday 7:10 and Sunday 1:35
Turner Field - Atlanta, GA

Phillies 72-86, 4th Place in the N.L. East, 21 games behind the Braves
Braves 93-65, 1st Place in the N.L. East, 9 1/2 games ahead of the Nationals

Phillies Probables:  Tyler Cloyd (2-6, 5.40), Cliff Lee (14-7, 2.93), Ethan Martin (2-4, 6.25), Zach Miner (0-1, 3.08)
Braves Probables:  David Hale (0-0, 0.00), Kris Medlen (14-12, 3.24), Mike Minor (13-8, 3.22), Julio Teheran (13-8, 3.09)

At the Ballpark:  Fan Appreciation Weekend kicks off tonight at Turner Field.  The highlights of the weekend series are fireworks on Friday night and a 2014 Souvenir Schedule Cup give-away on Saturday night.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Chase Utley - .282
Runs:  Chase Utley - 72
Home Runs:  Domonic Brown - 27
RBIs:  Domonic Brown - 82
Stolen Bases:  Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins - 22

Wins:  Cliff Lee - 14
ERA:  Cliff Lee - 2.93
Strikeouts:  Cliff Lee - 209
Saves:  Jonathan Papelbon - 29

2013 Chachi Preview #5
1973 Topps Appreciation:  The only Phillies-related card from the 1973 Topps set not to appear in these series preview posts is the Mike Schmidt rookie card.  I did a whole post on that iconic card a few years back, so please go check out that post.  I also took a stab a creating a 1973 Topps solo card for Schmidt, which I posted here.

The card featured here has been sitting in my draft folder since Spring Training when Schmidt served as a guest hitting instructor with the Phils for a few weeks in February.  It's fitting that this card wraps up my season long look back at the 1973 Topps set.

And in case you missed it, I've already chosen the Topps set to use as the basis for my 2014 Chachi set.  Look for Chachi Transactions cards throughout the offseason and the official set will make its debut on opening day.

1997 Collector's Choice #417 Mark Leiter

Marlins 3, Phillies 2
Game 158 - Wednesday Night, September 25th in Miami
Record - 72-86, 4th Place, 21 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  The Phillies went down quietly in Miami, losing 3-2 to the Marlins.

What It Means:  The Phillies look like they could use a rest.  After four more games with the Braves, they'll have 4 1/2 months to recoup before reporting to Clearwater.

What Went Wrong:  In his final start of the season, Cole Hamels' one mistake was a two-run triple to Adeiny Hechavarria in the second.  He finished the season with a 8-14 record after earning the no-decision for his six innings of work.  Reliever Ethan Martin walked Justin Ruggiano in the eighth, and Ruggiano came around to score the eventual winning run when Carlos Ruiz couldn't handle a Jimmy Rollins throw at the plate.

Featured Card:  Hamels' no decision meant that he avoided becoming the first Phillies pitcher since Mark Leiter in 1997 to lose at least 15 games in a season.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

2012 Choice Lehigh Valley IronPigs Update #19 J.C. Ramirez

Phillies 2, Marlins 1
Game 157 - Tuesday Night, September 24th in Miami
Record - 72-85, Tied for 3rd Place, 21 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  Zach Miner and the Phillies bullpen made a pair of first inning runs stand up in a 2-1 win over the Marlins.

What It Means:  We had the game on in the background last night, and I had the sense the Phillies were in the midst of losing yet another game to the Marlins.  I was pleasantly surprised when I actually started watching the game only to discover the Phillies were winning.

So I suppose you could say that I've now officially checked out on the season.  It's tough to get invested in these games, especially when you know going into it that it's going to be another bullpen game.

What Went Right:  Jimmy Rollins doubled with one out in the first and then came home with the game's first run after three consecutive walks.  Kevin Frandsen drove in the second run of the inning with an RBI-ground out.  Not exactly exciting stuff.

Featured Card:  Miner pitched four strong innings to start the game, and then the bullpen contributed five scoreless innings.  J.C. Ramirez pitched a scoreless sixth and seventh innings to lower his ERA to 7.84.  It was the rookie's first scoreless outing since July 5th.  With his bouncing around this season, including various stints with Reading, Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia, Ramirez somehow managed to escape the season without one single baseball card appearance.

This is one of his two cards from last year, from the IronPigs update set.

2013 Chachi #62 Mauricio Robles

Mauricio Antonio Robles
Relief Pitcher

Bats: Left  Throws: Left  Height: 5'10"  Weight: 215
Born: March 5, 1989, Valencia, Venezuela
Home: Valencia, Venezuela
Signed: Signed by the Detroit Tigers as an amateur free agent, April 1, 2006
Teams: Phillies 2013
Acquired: Claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners, December 14, 2012
Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

2013 Chachi #63 Cameron Rupp

Cameron Arthur Rupp

Bats: Right  Throws: Right  Height: 6'2"  Weight: 230
Born: September 28, 1988, Dallas, TX
Home: Plano, TX
Drafted: Selected by the Phillies in the 3rd round of the June 2010 draft
Teams: Phillies 2013
Acquired: Via draft
Contract Status: Pre-arbitration eligible

Roy Halladay (2010-2013?)

2012 Panini Triple Play #154 to #162
Marlins 4, Phillies 0
Game 156 - Monday Night, September 23rd in Miami
Record - 71-85, Tied for 3rd Place, 21 games behind the Braves

One Sentence Summary:  The offense and Roy Halladay's right arm failed to do their things, and the Phillies dropped the series opener in Miami, 4-0.

What It Means:  There have been quite a few depressing baseball games this season, but this was perhaps the most depressing game of all.  Roy Halladay, trying to re-start his career after a tough 2012 season and mid-season shoulder surgery this season, left this game after throwing 16 pitches.  The official diagnosis following his departure was "right arm fatigue."

If this is the end for Halladay, and I hope it isn't, he provided the Phillies and their fans with some of the best pitching performances in franchise history.  For two seasons, in 2010 and 2011, Halladay was as dominant a pitcher as I have ever witnessed.  (And I vaguely recall seeing Steve Carlton pitch in the early 1980s.)  From his Cy Young Award winning performance in 2010, which featured a perfect game on May 29th and a postseason no-hitter in Game 1 of the NLDS on October 6th, to his 19-win season in 2011, Halladay looked like nothing would ever stop him.

He was slowed by injury in 2012 and it's been tough this season watching him struggle mightily with his control and velocity.  If this is the end, and again I hope it isn't, Halladay's Phillies stats in 103 starts over four seasons are 55-29 with a 3.25 ERA.

What Went Wrong:  See above.

Halladay and six Phillies relievers combined to walk nine Marlins in this game.  The offense managed four hits off Nate Eovaldi and a pair of Marlins relievers.

Featured Cards:  A large caricature of Halladay was featured on nine different cards in last year's Panini Triple Play set.  I decided to scan the nine cards together as my little tribute to Doc.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Phillies at Marlins: September 23rd to September 25th

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

Phillies 71-84, Tied for 3rd Place in the N.L. East, 21 games behind the Braves
Marlins 57-99, 5th Place in the N.L. East, 35 1/2 games behind the Braves

Phillies Probables:  Roy Halladay (4-4, 6.71), Zach Miner (0-1, 3.22), Cole Hamels (8-14, 3.62)
Marlins Probables:  Nathan Eovaldi (3-6, 3.79), Henderson Alvarez (4-5, 4.05), Jacob Turner (3-8, 3.74)

At the Ballpark:  The Marlins have some promotional ticket packages available for this series, but no giveaways are scheduled.  It's probably for the best, as there will likely be a ton of empty seats for these weekday games.

Phillies Leaders
Average:  Chase Utley - .281
Runs:  Chase Utley - 71
Home Runs:  Domonic Brown - 27
RBIs:  Domonic Brown - 82
Stolen Bases:  Ben Revere and Jimmy Rollins - 22

Wins:  Cliff Lee - 14
ERA:  Cliff Lee - 2.93
Strikeouts:  Cliff Lee - 209
Saves:  Jonathan Papelbon - 28

1973 Topps Flashback:  The Standard Catalog describes the 1973 Topps Team Checklists set as "relatively scarce" and "somewhat mysterious," which is probably why I didn't know the set existed until a few years ago.  Not to be confused with the red-bordered 1974 Topps Team Checklists set, this set is believed to have been included with the high-numbered series of 1973 Topps cards, and it might have also been made available as a mail-away offer.

The card backs feature an alphabetical team checklist of all base cards appearing for each given team within the 1973 Topps set.  Interestingly enough, it also features any Rookie Stars cards featuring Phillies players, but it does not checklist the team card (#536).  I also found it interesting that the front of the card contains the facsimile autograph for "Robert" Boone, even though Boone didn't receive his own card in the set.

As it stands right now, the 2013 Chachi set will have 73 cards, with team leaders and a checklist card wrapping up the set.