Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Game number two of 162

Last night (April 7) I was down at Citizens Bank Park for the second Philadelphia Phillies game of the season.

It was a cold one.

Temperature gauges read 35 degrees, but in all reality it was really five to 10 below once you factor a 20 mph breeze and 35 mph wind gusts.

Now I saw a crowd of roughly 41,000 to 43,000 (10,000 to 20,000 by the seventh inning) last night froze their you-know-whats off to watch some baseball. It was a marquee match-up. The young flamethrower versus the ageless veteran.

It could not get much better than that.

If you were a Braves fan, that is.

The Braves' bats came alive early; actually on the very first pitch of the ball game. Kelly Johnson launched a Jamie Moyer slow pitch into section 106 out in right field.

After giving up another run in the first, Moyer seemed to settle down—until the fifth when Chipper Jones launched a Moyer pitch for a home run. You can try to judge how a pitched did by his stats, but you have to see how he did physically on the mound.

Did he keep his emotions in check?

Did he sulk after giving up a home run?

Did he bounce back and get the next guy out?

Did he maintain composure?

The Fightin' Phils bats seem to have come alive last night, despite not scoring any runs. There big three left-handed hitters combined for five for 12 with four singles and a double.

The Phillies were hitting the ball well, I guess it was a combination of the wind knocking a lot of the balls down, or they were just hitting them at people.

The bullpen once again proved to be a strong point, has the bullpen shut down the Braves potent offensive attack for four innings, and the rest of the game.

Last night, new reliever/ spot fifth starter, Chan Ho Park got his first taste of Philadelphia, coming in to pitch in the sixth inning. Park pitched a perfect sixth, and was followed by Jack Taschner, who tossed two scoreless innings.

Clay Condrey followed Taschner in the ninth inning. Condrey pitched a perfect ninth inning. It looked like Condrey had gained a little weight from last season, but nevertheless the big Texan struck out two in the ninth.

Am I worried about the Phillies losing the first two games of the season? Hell no. Everyone knows the first two weeks of the season, players are just trying to get back in the swing of things. I am not worried at all.

No. What worries me is the lack of true fans. This may be a small rant, but what gives fans the right to boo their own team? I don't care how much you paid for your ticket(s), you boo the play—not the player.

Brett Myers did not deserve to get booed. Yes, granted he gave up three home runs, but he struck out seven or eight and settled down after those home runs.

I guess those fans who are booing within 17 minutes of the first pitch of the 2009 regular season were the ones that used to boo Pat Burrell in left field.

Also, what worries me is the fans who are leaving in the fifth, sixth, or seventh innings to beat traffic home or to go get drunk at McFadden's, rather than sit outside in the cold and support their team.

Next I go down to catch a Phillies game, I'm starting a new chant. Okay, well it was stolen from the "Bleacher Creatures" up at Yankee Stadium. But I never saw or heard about any copyright or trademark on it! So intellectual property is null and void here.

Yes it is the famed "Roll Call", only with Philadelphia Phillies players.

I am not worried about the Phillies at all.

Next game: vs. Atlanta, today, 4/8/2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

Recap of Opening Night for the Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies quest to repeat as world champions started off rough last night (4/5/2009). I will recap what each team did: on the mound, in the box, next games, records, and standings.

Atlanta Braves 4 Philadelphia Phillies 1. WP: Derek Lowe (1-0, 0.00 ERA)LP: Brett Myers (0-1, 6.00 ERA)

Atlanta Braves

On the Mound: Derek Lowe proved why he is one of the most dominate and crafty veteran pitchers out there. Lowe pitched a masterful game, pitching eight solid innings of two hit ball. In those eight innings of two hit ball, Lowe struck out four while walking none and giving up no earned or unearned runs.

In the ninth, Atlanta turned to left-handed flamethrowing closer, Mike Gonzalez. Gonzalez gave up a lead-off double to the bearded wonder, Eric Bruntlett. After securing the first out, Gonzalez gave up a single to Jayson Werth which scored Bruntlett.

Next came Chase Utley who walked. Ryan Howard looked at a 93 mph fastball right down the pipe for strike three after looking foolish swinging at two sliders out of the zone. Finally, new leftfielder Raul Ibanez struck out swinging on high hard heat to end the game, stranding runners on first and second.

Philadelphia Phillies

On the Mound: Brett Myers proved once again Opening Day games just are not "cup of tea". After getting two easy outs in the first inning, Myers gave up a double to Chipper Jones. The came Brian McCann. McCann smacked a high, hanging change-up to the second deck of Citizens Bank Park for a two-run home run.

Myers' troubles were just beginning. In the second, a revamped Jeff Francoeur crushed a fastball to left field for a solo home run. After retiring Casey Kotchman to secure the first out of the inning, Myers gave up another home run. This time to rookie centerfielder Jordan Schafer.

Notable: Schafer became the 99th rookie in the history of the MLB to homer in his first regular season major league at bat.

Myers threw three home run balls within five batters. Positives: Myers hit 95 on the radar gun. Negatives: the home runs, the decrease in velocity, the usage of said heat, etc.

The Phillies bullpen proved why it is a strong point. In his Phillies debut, lefty Jack Taschner pitched a scoreless seventh inning, striking out one. Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre combined for a scoreless eighth inning, each striking out one. Closer Brad Lidge in a non-save situation threw a scoreless ninth inning, striking out one.

The Phillies bullpen combined for roughly a third of a perfect game, with three perfect innings thrown.

Atlanta Braves

In the Box: Three Braves had home runs. McCann, Francoeur, and Schafer respectively. Chipper went 2 for 4 with two hits and two strikeouts. Schafer was the stand out of the night. Schafer in his major league debut from AA, went 2 for 3 with a home run, single strikeout and walk.

As a team: 8 for 35, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 10 SO, BB, 9 LOB, .229 BA

Philadelphia Phillies

In the box: Ugh, words can even describe the disdain that I have right now for the Phillies hitters. Swinging at first pitches, taking wild hacks at bad pitches, not making Lowe work hard at all. Jimmy Rollins, Werth, Carlos Ruiz, and Bruntlett collecting hits. The big left-handed three of Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez went a combined 0 for 11 with 3 K and 1 BB.

As a team: 4 for 31, RBI, BB, 6 K, 8 LOB, .129 BA

Regular season records: Atlanta: 1-0, Philadelphia 0-1

National League East Standings (through 4/5/2009)

1. Atlanta, 1-0, --

2. New York, 0-0, 0.5 GB

3. Florida, 0-0, 0.5 GB

4. Washington, 0-0, 0.5

5. Philadelphia, 0-1, 1.0 GB

Next Game: Atlanta (1-0) vs. Philadelphia (0-1): Jair Jurrjens (0-0) vs. Jamie Moyer (0-0)

My Commentary: I wonder why Myers' threw a 3-2 change-up to McCann in the first inning. Worse yet: it hung up there, looking like a high school baseball hitter could crush the thing. It's a 3-2 count, you know he's going to be swinging, don't help the guy out by throwing something 83 mph up there.

A high-and-inside fastball or a curveball would of worked just as well in that situation. The problem that I had with Myers' outing was that he did not establish the fastball well enough. When he his fastball was not called a strike he went back to his assortment of crap pitches; outside of that curveball.

Also the sharp decrease in velocity, has me thinking. Myers' fastball in the first inning was clocked at 94-95 mph. By the third inning he could barely hit 90 on the radar gun. You would think that losing that extra weight he would gain back velocity.

I guess not.

I'm not just focusing on Myers' outing on the mound, oh heck no. Them bats have some explaining to do. I don't know whether it was nervousness, pre-game celebrations/ ceremonies, or what but how could a powerhouse lineup like that be silenced by a pitcher who they beat in the postseason last season.

Rollins 1 for 4

Werth 1 for 4

Utley 0 for 3

Howard 0 for 4

Ibanez 0 for 4

Victorino 0 for 4

Top six batters a combined 2 for 23, 4 K, BB, 1 RBI

It seems that the guys you would think would not produce, produced something measurable.

Ruiz 1-3

Bruntlett 1-1 albeit off the bench in a pinch-hitting role.

The bats better come alive on Tuesday night no matter what the weather is. Snow showers, cold, windy, the bats better be ready to hit and make Jair Jurrjens work. Make Jurrjens work hard, possibly work up a swear, unlike what Lowe did Sunday night.

I guess not signing Lowe four years ago bit them in the (insert strong expletive) butt. So not signing Lowe this past off-season will come back to haunt them as well.

Stay turned for Tuesday night's wrap up.