Posted on: August 8, 2011 10:41 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 12:54 pm
LOS ANGELES -- Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino declined Monday to address his three-game suspension for his role in Friday night's brawl in San Francisco.
But he was happy to discuss the latest test the Phillies passed with phlying colors, winning three of four games over the weekend and beating the Giants at their own game, pitching.
Naw, let's not go there Victorino said. But as the weeks roll by and the Phillies blaze on toward what is shaping up to be another very special season, let's just say that leaving the Giants in ruins over the weekend just reinforced what some folks have been believing for a long time.
"Best team in baseball," one scout says.
"I don't want to use the word 'statement'," Victorino said. "But it shows we can do it. Not that we ever doubted that we can, but they're the champs. To be the champs, you have to beat the champs.
"In October, it's all about 5-7-7 [the round-by-round best-of series']. We tip our caps to the Giants for beating us last year. But I think this was a test for us, and we're good.
"I think people are understanding how good we are. We won in San Francisco because of our pitching. And they didn't even face our No. 1."
Instead, Roy Halladay was slotted to pitch the series opener against the Dodgers here Monday night, and the Phillies are making Jimmy Rollins look conservative. It was Rollins who predicted in February the Phillies would win 100 games.
It made headlines at the time because, well, in February, any sort of bold statement makes headlines.
But all you can say as the Phils maintain a pace to win 103 games is, the season is playing out just as many thought it could for them.
Winners of nine of their past 10 heading into this Dodgers series, they owned the game's best record at 74-40. Last time they had played at least 113 games and suffered only 40 losses, it was 1976.
Charlie Manuel's club is an equal opportunity outfit, shredding left-handed starters (against whom they're 21-9) and right-handers (53-31) alike.
Though they're only seventh in the NL in runs scored, their pitching is so dominant that their run differential (+127) is third-best in the game, trailing only the Yankees (+167) and Boston (+144).
Phillies starters lead all major-league rotations in wins (55), ERA (2.96), strikesouts (640), complete games (14, six from Halladay), quality starts (76) and fewest runs allowed (261).
Are the Phillies reaching their potential that, as far back as spring training, was set in the stratosphere?
"It's hard for us to say because we're striving to get to the World Series and win it," starter Cole Hamels said. "It's definitely a good question for when we're in the World Series.
"We definitely like our chances. We're confident. Guys are at their peaks. In '08 when we ended up winning, we were trying to find it and we ended up finding it."
As for the San Francisco series, Hamels said, "We're playing the right type of baseball. That's what you have to do in August. It's very tough for teams. It's 100 degrees, you've been pitching for 22, 24 starts [Hamels is 13-6 with a 2.53 ERA in 24 starts], your body's fighting it, and you have to keep pushing.
"It's the countdown."
He meant for stretch-run baseball in September, and playoff ball in October.
But for the Phillies, there's a lot of counting going on right now.
And the numbers are adding up impressively.
Likes: GM Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland extended in Detroit. They've earned their keep by keeping the Tigers relevant. ... A few days off in early August right after the trade deadline, summer sun still warm, the days long and free. ... Sandy Point in Ferndale, Wash., quarterback Jake Locker's land, right down there on Puget Sound. Beautiful. ... The oh-so-fresh halibut and salmon at Barlean's fishery down the road. Few things finer on the grill with the sun dropping behind the ocean water. ... The burritos at Chihuahua's in town. ... Jimmy Buffett's Encores disc. ... The new disc from John Hiatt, Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns. Not as good as Slow Turning or Perfectly Good Guitar, but that's setting the bar awfully high. Check out I Love That Girl, Detroit Made and Adios to California.
Dislikes: All the best to Colorado right-hander Juan Nicasio. One minute, you're pitching in the majors. The next, you've got a broken bone in your neck after being hit by a line drive, and you don't know if you'll ever pitch again. Tough summer for the Rockies. Hope we see Nicasio back soon.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Wrote a note, said 'Be back in a minute'
"Bought a boat and I sailed off in it
"Don't think anybody's gonna miss me anyway
"Mind on a permanent vacation
"The ocean is my only medication
"Wishin' my condition ain't ever gonna go away
"Now I'm knee deep in the water somewhere
"Got the blue sky breeze blowin' wind thru my hair
"Only worry in the world
"Is the tide gonna reach my chair
"Sunrise, there's a fire in the sky
"Never been so happy
"Never felt so high
"And I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise"
-- Zac Brown Band, Knee Deep
Posted on: February 18, 2011 10:25 am
Edited on: February 18, 2011 10:30 am
LAKELAND, Fla. -- As an uncertain Tigers club waited Friday morning to see what turn the Miguel Cabrera case will take next, manager Jim Leyland fiercely proclaimed that saga will have no bearing on his team and that Cabrera, "in the best shape of his life", remains primed for a great season.
"I think Miguel Cabrera is probably going to have the biggest year of his life," Leyland said Friday morning before the Tigers' pitchers and catchers worked out.
Cabrera, arrested for suspicion of drunken driving in Florida on Wednesday night, still is not in camp and it is not known when he will arrive. The Tigers do not hold their first full-squad workout until Saturday.
"It's not going to affect the team at all," Leyland said. "All of these people getting dramatic about this s---, all this negativity, it's not going to affect this team one bit. Trust me. That's all reading material. Everybody is going to get all upset, get real dramatic ... do you think Magglio Ordonez and those guys are going to go about their business any different?
"Nobody's going to do anything different. They're going to bust their ass. I know for a fact, without getting into this situation [in detail], I know for a fact that Miguel Cabrera is in the best shape of his life. He's stronger than he's ever been and he's quicker than he's ever been. It has no effect.
"It might make some dramatic reading material. Everybody's projecting all this crap, it's not going to do s--- along those lines. Believe me. Nothing."
Leyland had started his morning session with reporters by saying that he would not address the Cabrera situation, that general manager Dave Dombrowski would be the club spokesman on it. But he relented some when asked specifically about how Cabrera's troubles will affect the team.
As for the rest, Leyland said, "I'm not going to talk about that. Dave will speak for that. I'm the field manager. I manage the players on the field. Our clubhouse will be great, and our team has a hell of a chance to be an outstanding team, and that's going to have no bearing on that one way or another. Trust me when I tell you that.
"He's going to be welcomed with open arms by his teammates and they're going to want to see him hit that son of a bitch over the right-center field fence. I'm just telling you. So don't get all excited about 'Aw, I wonder what it's going to do in the clubhouse, to the chemistry, and all of that bulls----.'"