Tag:Philadelphia Phillies
Posted on: October 18, 2010 1:54 am
Edited on: October 18, 2010 1:54 am
 

Memo to Cole Hamels: Re. pitching Cody Ross

PHILADELPHIA -- Looking like Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds rolled into one, San Francisco right fielder Cody Ross belted another home run in the Giants' 6-1 loss to the Phillies in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series here Sunday, giving him three home runs in two games.

That ranks second-most in Giants history in LCS play. Jeffrey Leonard holds the record with four in 1987.

Meantime, with four homers in his last three postseason games, Ross is one of four players in Giants history with at least four in single postseason. The others: Barry Bonds hit eight in 2002, Rich Aurilia six in '02 and Leonard four in '87.

So, how might Phillies starter Cole Hamels want to approach Ross in Game 3 at AT&T Park?

"Don't throw it down and in," said Roy Oswalt, who did just that in surrendering Ross' fifth-inning blast Sunday. "The last three balls that he hit were in the exact same spot. Just bad pitches."

True. Each of the homers Ross smashed against Roy Halladay in Game 1 also were middle-in.

"I mean, throwing it right into his bat, pretty much," Oswalt said. "If you can make your pitches, you are going to do well. But if you miss down-and-in, that's pretty much where he's hitting them."

In Ross' third plate appearance Sunday night, he nearly got another one. He drove center fielder Shane Victorino all the way back to the warning track before Victorino hauled it in.

That was a fastball over the plate, too, but not quite as inside as the three Ross drove over the left-field fence.

Does Ross pretty much figure he's seen the last of the inside fastballs for awhile?

"I'm not really worried about where they're pitching me," Ross said. "I'm just trying to see it."

He's been doing a good enough job of that that the Philadelphia crowd has started giving him the business. Playing the villain isn't exactly a role Ross is familiar with, given his heretofore nondescript days with the Florida Marlins, but it's a role he'll take.

"That's what you want as a player," Ross said. "I know they're not going to cheer for me. It definitely doesn't make me feel like I should stop.

"I want to keep going. It's kind of a weird feeling."

Posted on: October 17, 2010 4:40 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2010 5:31 pm
 

Manuel tweaks slumping Phils' lineup

PHILADELPHIA -- If Sunday night's Game 2 of the NL Championship Series is not a must-win for Philadelphia, it's the next-closest thing.

More worrisome for Phillies manager Charlie Manuel than losing Game 1 is the trend toward silence from the Philadelphia bats.

Which is why he's shaking up the top of the lineup for Game 2, flip-flopping Chase Utley and Placido Polanco in the Nos. 2 and 3 spots. Against Giants lefty starter Jonathan Sanchez, Utley will bat second (out of his usual third spot) and Polanco will hit third (down from No. 2 in Game 1).

"Same reason I always do it," Manuel said Sunday when quizzed about his reasoning. "I want have right-handed hitter in between [the two lefties, Utley and Ryan Howard]. Polanco's hitting third."

Clearly, Manuel also is reacting to the presence of Javier Lopez, the Giants' situational lefty, on the other side. Lopez got two huge outs in the eighth inning of Game 1 when he was summoned to face Utley and Howard. He dispatched Utley with a ground ball, struck out Howard, and his evening was finished.

So far in four games this postseason, the Phillies as a team are hitting just .212. They've scored a total of only 16 runs, and their on-base percentage is just .300.

They went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position against the Giants in Game 1 and, against Tim Lincecum and the San Francisco bullpen, did not advance a runner into scoring position after the third inning.

There was some speculation that Manuel might return shortstop Jimmy Rollins to the leadoff slot for Game 2, a thought fueled in part by Manuel saying late Saturday night that he would think about it.

After sleeping on the notion, though, Manuel discarded the idea and left Rollins in the sixth slot for Game 2, same spot in which he batted Saturday.

"Because when I looked, I like him right where he's at," Manuel said. "I look at how he's been doing and how we lined up against Sanchez. Victorino's got some hits against Sanchez [6-for-15 lifetime], and Jimmy is 1-for-16 against him. Utley's got a few hits [3-for-11].

"I looked at the way we lined up, and I like Jimmy where he's at right now."

It isn't only Sanchez against whom Rollins is scuffling. In four postseason games this fall, Rollins is hitting .067 [1-for-15].

Which makes it easy to understand Manuel's reluctance to move him back atop the lineup, because that's no small part of the reason the Phillies' offense has been sluggish.

So far in the playoffs, the top two slots in the Philadelphia order are hitting .161 [5-for-31].

Giants manager Bruce Bochy, meanwhile, elected to keep his lineup the same for Game 2 as it was in Game 1 -- including leaving Mike Fontenot at third base instead of Pablo Sandoval.

Posted on: October 16, 2010 5:31 pm
 

Hangin' in weight room with Halladay -- or not

Roy Halladay's work ethic is legendary, to the point where even the Phillies couldn't believe their first impression.

Halladay's regular spring training routine was to arrive in the weight room in Clearwater, Fla., by 5:30 or 5:45 a.m. By the time most of the rest of the Phillies arrived at 7:30 or 8, Halladay was finished with that part of his day and on to something else.

When I visited the Phillies' camp, a couple of players talked about how this was a perfect example of his competitiveness. A coach told me it isn't that, it's just that Halladay is so focused on what he's doing that he did not want to share the weight room equipment. As he moves through his circuit, he wants what he wants when he wants it.

Whatever, his near-maniacal zeal was legendary in Toronto, and it's already the stuff of legend in Philadelphia.

"We had some guys try to latch on and stay with him this spring," pitching coach Rich Dubee said Friday before the Phillies worked out in preparation for Game 1. "That lasted a short period.

"If you're going to try and stay with him, you'd better start in the off-season."

No kidding.

One of those who experimented with the early-bird special in the weight room with Halladay this spring was fellow starter Cole Hamels.

"I did that one time, I think," Hamels said, chuckling. "I realized it was insanity.

"I had a newborn. I needed every ounce of sleep I could get. He would get there at 5:30, I was waking up at 5:30. That means he was waking up at 4:30."

Likes: Roy Halladay vs. Tim Lincecum to start the NLCS playoffs. What fun. ... I don't think we've heard enough of this Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira as former Rangers story. I think we'll hear much more of it before this ALCS is finished. ... Tweet of the Day, and I had to pass this one alone, from ESPN baseball writer Jorge Arangure late Friday night when the Rangers blew the 5-0 lead to the Yankees in the eighth inning with a certain former President and Rangers owner in attendance: "I bet George W Bush authorized a sign that read "Mission Accomplished" after the 7th inning." ... The Conan O'Brien ads they're papering the house with during the playoffs are pretty funny. Which is no small thing, given how most ads they consistently blast at us start bad and quickly turn grating. ... Congratulations to the Monroe (Mich.) St. Mary Catholic Central Falcons and Coach Jack Giarmo, who clinched another Huron League high school football title with Friday's 63-21 whipping of Milan. Excellent work to all as the tradition continues. Great job. ... Great run Saturday morning down Ben Franklin Parkway, past the Philadelphia Art Museum and along the Schuylkill River. Beautiful, especially the trees along the river. ... Geography lesson for the day: How do you pronounce "Schuylkill"? I admit, not being from the Philadelphia area, I didn't know. Until I checked with a bellman at the hotel when I returned: "Skoo-cull." ... John Lennon, still relevant on what would have been his 70th birthday the other day.

Dislikes: Bedbugs. I keep hearing about them. I've yet to see them.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"People asking questions lost in confusion
"Well I tell them there's no problem, only solutions
"Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind
"I tell them there's no hurry
"I'm just sitting here doing time"

-- John Lennon, Watching the Wheels

 

Posted on: September 19, 2010 7:56 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2010 6:31 pm
 

Twins still unsure of Morneau's return

Justin Morneau finally is having many more good days than bad while battling post-concussion syndrome and for that, the Twins are thrilled.

But as for when we'll next see Morneau, the 2006 AL MVP who hasn't played since July 7, Morneau isn't far enough along to where the Twins feel they can address that definitively.

"He continues to make progress," Twins general manager Bill Smith says. "I don't know if he'll be back this year or not. As I've said, we're not going to do anything to jeopardize his long-term health or his long-term career.

"Those two things are much more important than whether he plays next week, or next month."

Morneau was hitting .345 with a 1.055 slugging percentage when he left the game on July 7. He had 18 homers and 56 RBIs in 81 games. He was set up for another monster year.

Then, bam.

Troublesome thing is, this isn't Morneau's first bout with a concussion in the majors, it isn't his first bout with a concussion, period. An old hockey player from Canada, Morneau had concussions on the ice before his baseball career started. He was disabled in April, 2005, with a concussion suffered when he was hit in the head with a Ron Villone pitch.

Those all feed into why the Twins and Morneau are forced to take thing so slowly this time. Good news for the club is, in Morneau's absence, Jim Thome has been incredibly productive in more at-bats than originally was planned. The Twins' depth has been a saving grace.

As for Morneau, Smith says, "Every one of us, including Justin, would love to have him back in the four hole."

Question is, when?

Likes: How much fun is this NL West race going to be these last two weeks? ... The Braves and Phillies this week. ... Watching Colorado's Todd Helton play first base. ... Watching Troy Tulowitzki swinging the way he's swinging. It's just incredible to watch. ... Looking forward to seeing Texas play this week. ... Ted Simmons, the Padres' bench coach, with his interest in managing. With all the jobs that will be open this winter, an imaginative team could make a real good hire. ... What a great thing that Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio should be OK after suffering a heart attack following the win over Notre Dame. ... Did you see that MSU-ND finish? If there are any more finishes close to that the rest of the way in college football, it's going to be a fun season. What a finish! ... Lots of good buzz about the new Hawaii Five-0 premiering this week on -- yes -- CBS, but what I love is that they kept the old theme song. That tells me right there that they're handling the show with care. ... Gotta get to the movie theater to see The Town. Don't know when I'll have time, but it looks like a winner.

Dislikes: Get the maple bats out of the game before someone gets killed. Come on, what's it going to take?

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Now me and my mate were back at the shack
"We had Spike Jones on the box
"She said, "I can't take the way he sings
"But I love to hear him talk"
"Now that just gave my heart a throb
"To the bottom of my feet
"And I swore as I took another pull
"My Bessie can't be beat"

-- The Band, Up on Cripple Creek

Posted on: August 12, 2010 5:47 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2010 8:21 pm
 

The Jones-Cox Show comes to premature end

It is one of the great modern manager-player runs going, Chipper Jones and Bobby Cox, together in Atlanta, 17 seasons strong.

Now, with news that Jones has blown out his left knee and is finished for the season, the Braves' last gasp under the retiring Cox is guaranteed to have a bittersweet ending no matter how it finishes.

Jones' wrecked knee wrecks Atlanta's playoff hopes? Awww.

Braves overcome Jones injury to make the playoffs while Jones forced to watch? Awww.

Braves win World Series to send Cox out with another ring while Jones helpless to help? Awww.

Sentimental as some stories become, the game has a way of stripping sentiment in favor of cold reality, and that's what the Braves are dealing with now. Fighting for their lives to fend off two-time NL champion Philadelphia -- dealing with a significant injury of its own with Chase Utley sidelined -- life now becomes much more difficult for the Braves.

Jones, 38, was hitting .265 with 10 homers and 46 RBI in 95 games with the Braves this season, but that doesn't tell the whole story. Struggling so badly earlier this year that he spoke of retiring at season's end, Jones over his past 11 games was hitting .368 with three homers, five RBI and eight runs scored.

Short-term, Jones' loss vastly increases the degree of difficulty for the Braves, who now will plug Omar Infante and Brooks Conrad into third base in place of Jones while searching the waiver wires for a spare-part match.

Long-term, this injury means we very well might have seen the last of Jones. If he does decide to retire -- a very real possibility, given the normal six-month recovery from this type of injury and his advanced age -- the next time Jones' name comes up in earnest in baseball circles very well might be in Hall of Fame discussions.

He's not a slam-dunk first-ballot guy, but his 436 career homers (37th all-time), 1,491 RBI (52nd all-time) and .941 OPS (30th all-time) certainly put the six-time All-Star -- and 1999 NL MVP -- onto the front porch of Cooperstown.

It's just a shame that if the Braves do make the playoffs this fall, Jones won't be at Cox's side as a couple of Atlanta icons swinging for one more shot at glory.

Likes: Tell you what, glad there were no serious injuries in the Cardinals-Reds brawl, and this might not be the most mature or politically correct reaction, but I love the emotions that were injected into that rivalry this week. Baseball, in the free agent era, has gone corporate and too many players are way too friendly with each other. The result is, it takes the edge off of too many rivalries. No worry about that down the stretch in St. Louis and Cincinnati now. ... The Kids Are All Right. Great cast, great acting. Next up: The Other Guys. Gotta see Derek Jeter's acting debut. And I hear WIll Ferrell is actually funny again. ... Finally catching up with Pat Conroy's Beach Music, a long ago best seller, and man Conroy can write. Enjoying the book, but the plot goes a little too far in the back half of the book in some areas. ... Wrote off Mad Men a couple of years ago, decided to give it another chance this year and I'm glad I did. Finally, belatedly, enjoying it. ... Hard to go wrong with any Apple products in my book. My iTouch went bad after just a year-and-a-half, turned out the battery malfunctioned and they replaced the entire unit with a new one. ... Look, the former drummer for the Greg Kihn Band now ... cleans carpet? It's true. But don't ask him about pet hair in the carpet.

Dislikes: The fact that Manny Ramirez is earning $20 million and can't be bothered to rehab his calf strain, or whatever he's calling it, with the Dodgers is a joke. Of course, nobody's surprised, are they, that Manny's off on his own? And the Dodgers were the suckers who gambled with him.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"You could lie on a riverbank
"Or paint your name on a water tank
"Miscount all the beers you drank
"Back where I come from
"Back where I come from
"Where I'll be when it's said and done
"Well I'm proud as anyone
"That's where I come from
"We learned in a Sunday school
"Who made the sun shine through.
"I know who made the moonshine, too
"Back where I come from.
"Blue eyes on a Saturday night
"Ttan legs in the broad daylight
"TV’s, they were black and white
"Back where I come from"

-- Mac McAnally, Back Where I Come From

Posted on: July 13, 2010 8:39 pm
 

Setting the stage at the All-Star Game

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A few things as we get set for the 81st All-Star Game:

-- National League pitching plans: Florida's Josh Johnson and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay will follow starter Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound. After that, manager Charlie Manuel plans to review the game situation, see where the AL lineup is and go from there. With lefties Joe Mauer, Robinson Cano and Carl Crawford hitting 7-8-9, you could see one of a couple of lefty relievers, Hong-Chih Kuo or Arthur Rhodes if the situation dictates.

-- AL pitching plans were unclear as for who would follow Tampa Bay's David Price to the hill. But in Price, Texas' Cliff Lee, Boston's Jon Lester and the Yankees' Andy Pettitte, the AL is loaded with lefties. Which could mean right-handers Justin Verlander and Phil Hughes will be interspersed with them.

-- Boston's David Ortiz on the legacy of the late Yankees owner George Steinbrenner: "Unbelievable. When you give a team that many dreams, that many possibilities to win, that's something you've got to respect no matter what."

-- This is how stacked the AL is: Mauer, last year's MVP, is hitting seventh. Last time he did that? "The minor leagues," Mauer said. His reaction to hitting seventh? "Where do you want to put everybody?" Mauer said. "Somebody's gotta bat down there."

-- The pressure is on Padres closer Heath Bell if he pitches late in a close game. San Diego has provided three of the past four losing pitchers: Bell last year, Chris Young in 2007 and Trevor Hoffman in 2006.

-- Atlanta's Omar Infante, the most unlikely of All-Stars, is having a ball. His favorite moments? Tuesday afternoon in NL clubhouse, and Monday watching the Home Run Derby on the field, holding his one-year-old son, taking as many photos as he could. As for the game? "It's very important," said Infante, whose Braves are in position to benefit if the NL can win home-field World Series advantage. "Everybody's psyched."

-- The turf is in good shape here in Angel Stadium. But it almost was in even better shape. The rock band U2 was scheduled to play Angel Stadium in early June, after which the contract called for new sod to be laid at Angel Stadium. Instead of a new playing surface, however ... well, Bono underwent emergency back surgery, U2 canceled its tour and the turf remains the same.

Posted on: July 12, 2010 8:28 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2010 8:32 pm
 

Will young power arms finally shift tide to NL?

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- How long has it been since the National League has won a freakin' All-Star Game?

Let's just say this: Last time the NL won, 1996 in Philadelphia, Bob Dole was running for president.

It's weird, it's bizarre, it's ugly and it's a subject the National Leaguers get tired of answering. Current count: The AL's unbeaten streak has reached 13 years, including winning the past seven in a row (since the humiliating 2002 tie in Milwaukee).

Yet silly as this sounds, there is a very real sense that the tide might be beginning to shift away from Junior Circuit dominance in the Mid-Summer Classic.

Reasons?

Colorado's Ubaldo Jimenez. Florida's Josh Johnson. San Francisco's Tim Lincecum. Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo. All All-Stars this year. And, Washington's Stephen Strasburg, and San Diego's Mat Latos, who very well could debut as All-Stars next summer when the game hits Phoenix.

You know about Strasburg. And Latos was the next pitcher NL manager Charlie Manuel would have chosen in the event of one more injury scratch.

"It needs to turn for us, the way it's been going," says San Diego manager Bud Black, a coach on Manuel's NL staff this week. "There are some fine young power arms in the National League.

"Hey, the American League's no slouch either, with David Price and CC Sabathia. And Felix Hernandez can probably throw it as hard as he wants to."

No question. But there is more sizzle in the NL's pitching this summer -- especially given all the incredibly talented young arms -- than there has been in quite some time.

"Just looking at our staff, I know I wouldn't want to be a hitter on the other side," says Mets third baseman David Wright, who has been in the NL clubhouse for the past four losses. "We have some power arms, really, top to bottom. Just seeing their age and the ability and the upside and what they've accomplished already is amazing.

"I know how I feel with a bat in my hands in the box against these guys. Then when you string together the depth that the NL has with their young power arms, it's pretty impressive."

Jimenez comes into the game with 15 wins, a no-hitter against Atlanta this year and a 33-inning scoreless streak compiled during one especially torrid stretch in May and June.

Johnson leads the majors with a 1.70 ERA and has allowed no more than one earned run in 10 of his past 11 starts.

Lincecum has won back-to-back Cy Young awards, Strasburg is showing signs of having Cy Young stuff ... the list goes on.

"I know you've got Strasburg, Jimenez, Josh Johnson ... those guys throw hard," Angels outfielder Torii Hunter says. "They're filthy. I've been watching them on television."

In the NL, Wright has been watching most of them from the batter's box.

"You know that it's going to be a rough day when you're battling to draw a walk," Wright says. "Or you're battling to plate one guy and you know you have to be perfect as far as situational hitting just to plate a run, that you're not going to have that big inning where you can put up some crooked numbers.

"Where you have to battle and grind and fight and almost hope that the other team makes a mistake. You know what an uncomfortable at-bat it is. You know what they're capable of doing."

Add Philadelphia's veteran ace Roy Halladay, who will pitch for the NL for the first time following six All-Star appearances for the AL, and Atlanta's cagey Tim Hudson, who is making his NL debut Tuesday following Tommy John ligament transfer surgery (and two All-Star selections when he was pitching in the AL), and it's not an easy staff to face.

As for Jimenez and Johnson, the NL's two most dominant pitchers in the first half and the ones many AL hitters will see for the first time on Tuesday night, well, Wright says his least favorite to face is. ...

"Neither. We've been fortunate in that we've missed Josh Johnson the last few times we've played the Marlins, but it's no fun having him in the division.

"When you go in for a series in Miami, you always know which day Josh is pitching. You know you'd better win the game before that or the game after that or the other games because you're likely not going to win that one."

Whether the same will hold true for the All-Star Game, well ... it's got to turn one of these years, doesn't it?

Posted on: May 29, 2010 10:07 pm
Edited on: May 29, 2010 10:08 pm
 

Roy Halladay, Perfect Phillie

Roy Halladay blew through South Florida on Saturday night with hurricane force and a surgeon's precision. Perfect? It was an understatement.

The way Halladay was hitting the corners and moving the ball in and out, it's a wonder 16 Marlins even put the ball in play against Dominant Doc. Halladay struck out 11 and dazed everybody else. You will not see a pitcher more sharp than this.

"I don't know what to say," Halladay sputtered to Phillies' television analyst Gary Matthews seconds after the lights went out -- literally -- in whatever they're calling Florida's stadium these days.

It was the perfect visual.

The Marlins were clicking out the lights for a postgame Saturday night concert.

But Halladay beat them to it.

It is the first time in modern baseball history that two perfect games have been thrown in one season, let alone in one month. Halladay's perfecto, though, was nowhere near the surprise that Dallas Braden's Mothers Day masterpiece was. Not even close.

The only surprise here is that Halladay has been pitching more than a decade and hadn't yet thrown a perfect game. Or a no-hitter. Or started more than one All-Star Game.

His years of taking a backseat to Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez or anybody else in the game have long since been over.

It's just that, because Halladay was buried up in quiet, out-of-the-way Toronto for the past decade, lots of people were late to pick up on it.

As 2008 World Series MVP Cole Hamels said this spring during Halladay's first few days with the Phillies, "Roy Halladay is the greatest pitcher in the big leagues. To be able to see how much he goes the distance. You envy a guy who pitches nine, 10 complete games every year. It's so unheard of in this day and age."

Saturday's already was Halladay's fifth complete game, more than twice as many as any other pitcher in the majors. Nobody else has more than two.

As he was closing in on Saturday's masterpiece, Halladay opened the seventh by punching out slumping Chris Coghlan on a 91 m.p.h. cutter away, then closed it by punching out batting champion Hanley Ramirez on a 92 m.p.h. cutter in at the knees. In-between he threw a full-count curveball -- curveball! -- to induce a harmless pop fly to left from Gaby Sanchez.

That's one snapshot of what the Marlins faced all night. Plate umpire Mike DiMuro's strike zone was liberal, he was calling pitches two or three inches off the plate at times. Didn't matter. Halladay was the Invisible Man on this night. The Marlins weren't going to touch him.

Besides, DiMuro's zone worked great for Florida starter Josh Johnson, too. And Johnson was very, very good -- the game's only run scored when center fielder Cameron Maybin butchered Chase Utley's long fly ball to center in the third, allowing Wilson Valdez to score from first.

But Halladay, whose closest previous brush to immortality came when he no-hit Detroit for 8 2/3 innings on Sept. 27, 1998, before Philadelphia-native Bobby Higginson broke it up, was as dazzling as a pitcher can be.

"We felt like we got in a good groove by the fifth or sixth," Halladay said, referring to himself and catcher Carlos "Chooch" Ruiz. "I was just following Chooch. I can't say enough about the job he did.

"By the fifth or sixth, it was a no-brainer. I was just following him."

Braden, and now Halladay. What a month for pitching. What a month for perfection.

"It was awesome," Halladay said. "I don't know what else to say."

No need. On this night, his slider, cut fastball and other weapons spoke for him.

Perfectly.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com