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Archive for March, 2008

Zimmerman Walkoff Wins Opener for Nationals

Monday, March 31st, 2008

                           Ryan Zimmerman

Although the real MLB opener took place in Tokyo as the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics split the short two game MLB opening series in Japan last Tuesday and Wednesday, Baseball’s American Opening Day took place Sunday night in Washington DC with Nationals’ 3rd basemnan  Ryan Zimmerman sealing the 3-2 decision over the Atlanta Braves with a two-out walkoff solo shot.

The Nationals were fast out of the blocks with two runs in the 1st inning on RBIs by 1st baseman Nick Johnson and rightfielder Austin Kearns off of Braves ace Tim Hudson who settled down after the 1st inning and pitched 7 fine innings giving up 2 runs on 3 hits while striking out 3 and walking none.  Hudson retired his last 19 straight batters.

The game settled into a classic, tight opener with the Braves notching a run in the 4th as 3rd baseman Chipper Jones reached Nationals’ newly acquired lefthanded starter Odalis Perez for a one-out solo shot to cut the lead to 2-1.

The score remained the same until the 9th inning as Hudson was solid through 7 and the Braves bullpen got through the 8th inning while 4 Nationals’ relievers held the lead until the 9th inning.

With Nationals’ reliever Jon Rauch pitching in the 9th trying to preserve the lead, 1st baseman Mark Teixeira stoked a one-out double.  Martin Prado pinch-ran and went to 3rd base on a ground-out.  He then scored to tie the game as a Rauch pitch eluded nationals catcher Paul Lo Duca for a passed ball.  

Braves’ pitchers had retired 24 consecutive Nationals hitters after the two 1st inning runs off of Hudson before Zimmerman went ballpark on a Moylan 1-0 sinker.  Rauch, who went 1 1/3 innings and was charged with a blown save on the passed ball, was credited with the win while Moylan took the loss.

The Phillies face the Nationals on Monday in Citizens Bank Park as Brett Myers gets the season opener nod for the second straight time.  He faces Washington’s lefthander Matt Chico.

For the scores, boxscores and recaps on all of Monday’s games, click here.

                 Related blog posts on Opening Day;

        [2007] Glavine, Mets Notch Win Over Cardinals in Opener

      History: Opening Day 1970 Phillies vs Cubs; Short vs Jenkins

Moyer Blows Early Lead, Phillies Lose Again

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

                                    Jamie Moyer

Phillies’ leftfielder Pat Burrell jumped on Toronto’s lefthander John Parrish for a three run homer in the first inning. But the Phils bats again fell silent as Parrish settled down in the second and third innings and Toronto rallied for a 5-3 win to end spring training.

Phils’ lefty Jamie Moyer, pitching zeros for the first three innings, fell victim to a three run fourth inning, including a two run shot by Blue Jays’ second baseman Aaron Hill, his second homer in two games against the Phils.

Toronto added the lead run in the fifth inning and newly acquired relief pitcher Tom Leahy gave up an insurance fifth Toronto run on 4 hits in the sixth inning.

Leahy was followed by nonrostered minor leaguer Matt Childers who threw a hitless scoreless seventh for the Phils. Childers was followed by lefthander J.C. Romero who was awesome striking out the side in the eighth. Tom Gordon finished up for the Phillies giving up a hit and a walk in the ninth while striking out two.

Meanwhile, a parade of six Toronto relievers totally shut down the Phillies over the final six innings giving up but two hits while walking two and striking out nine.

Toronto’s lefthanded reliever Brian Tallet, who pitched a scoreless fourth inning, was awarded the win while starter Moyer took the loss.

And so spring training ends on a losing note. After shutting out the Yankees on a superb effort by Brett Myers, Adam Eaton got thumped and then Phils’ bats went into slumber mode over the last 23 innings scoring but 4 runs. It seems obvious to me that manager Manuel better have that team meeting before opening day and point to that sign on his office wall; the one which quotes the late Billy Martin, “It’s not a light bulb. You can’t turn it on and off.”

The season opens on Monday in Washington D.C. with an afternoon game as Brett Myers opens for the Phillies vs lefthander Matt Chico for the Nationals.

                                Casey Stengel

                                           “Play Ball!”

                          For Related blog posts, click;

       David Wright’s Tack? “Phillies the Team to Beat”

                          Opening Day, 2006

Hamels Loses on Early HR, Phillies’ Sleepy Offense

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

                               Cole Hamels

Lefthander Cole Hamels had an effective outing after being touched for a second inning two-run homer by Toronto second baseman Aaron Hill. Hamels struck out three and gave up three runs on five hits in five innings of work.

But the Phillies offense fell silent in the chilly air of late March in Citizens Bank Park as Blue Jays’ young starter Randy Wells struck out slugging first baseman Ryan Howard on three pitches with runners on first and third in the first inning enroute to a 3-1 win over the Phils on Friday night. 

The AP recap for Yahoo sports notes;

Toronto manager John Gibbons was pleased to see starting pitcher Randy Wells go after Phillies slugger Ryan Howard…

“You’ve got to be able to do that to the top hitters, keep them off balance,” Gibbons said. “You also have to have the ability to do that, and Randy has that ability. It’s a good test to help him gain even more confidence.”

Pitching-wise, both bullpens were impressive, particularly the Phillies’ pen, and specifically Chad Durbin who tossed perfect two innings while striking out four Blue Jays.   Ryan Madson and Clay Condrey also pitched well as they both concluded solid springs.

MLB.com’s Joseph Santoliquito cites;

Wes Helms drove in the hosts’ lone run with a two-out RBI single in the ninth, scoring So Taguchi.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel announced before the game that Adam Eaton is the fifth starter entering the season, in essence claiming that he gained the slot by default as noone stepped up to take the role from him. 

Personally, I don’t understand Manuel’s reasoning. As I indicated previously, Chad Durbin showed far better than Eaton this spring and therefore merited the fifth spot.

But Charlie’s manager and I’m not.  Durbin remains on the roster in the bullpen to start the season.  So he’ll be available for insertion into the starting rotation should Eaton falter and show reversion to 2007’s 6.29 ERA form.

The Phils also announced that they claimed relief pitcher Tom Leahy off waivers from the Cubs, apparently as bullpen insurance to start the season.  To make room on the roster, they sent right-hander J.D. Durbin, infielder Ray Olmedo who hit well this spring, and outfielder Chris Snelling to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Two lefties go head-to-head on Saturday as Toronto’s John Parrish faces the Phils’ elder lefty Jamie Moyer at 1:05 p.m. ET at Citizens Bank Park in the spring training finale.

Eaton, Gordon Pounded by Tigers

Friday, March 28th, 2008

             Adam Eaton  Bludgeoned!   Tom Gordon

True to his 2007 season 6.29 ERA, Adam Eaton was awful once again, this time in 4 2/3 innings, as the Detroit Tigers notched a run each in the first, second and third innings, three in the fourth and one more in the fifth on eleven hits enroute to a 14-5 manhandling of the Phillies.

                                   Pedro Feliz

But the Phillies got two runs in the second inning and three more in the sixth, on third baseman Pedro Feliz’s fifth homer of the spring, as they drew to within two runs at 7-5 as relievers Clay Condrey and JC Romero continued to impress in holding the Tigers to a hit apiece through 2 1/3 innings.

However, Tom Gordon was bludgeoned in 1/3 inning for six eighth inning runs with unrostered veteran Jason Anderson mopping up for the final 2/3’s of the eighth and being charged with Detroit’s final run.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz, who has had a great spring, went two for four and scored a run and centerfielder Shane Victorino went two for four with a run scored and an RBI.

MLB.com’s Chris Girandola records Adam Eaton’s comments on his performance;

“I maybe stayed hard too much with cutters and fastballs,” said Eaton, who concluded the spring with a 7.41 ERA, allowing 14 runs over 17 innings. “You have to give them credit. They have a good lineup and they hit some pretty good pitches today.”

The right-hander, who gave up 11 hits and had only one strikeout on Thursday, allowed a run in each of the five innings he pitched. Over the first three frames, he allowed one run in each, including a solo homer to Placido Polanco, then surrendered three more runs in the fourth.

Eaton almost got out of the fifth inning, but an error on the throw by shortstop Eric Bruntlett on a double-play possibility allowed another Tigers run to score. Eaton was relieved by Clay Condrey, who retired the side on a first-pitch flyout by  Jacque Jones.

“I thought my stuff was just as good at the beginning as it was at the end,” said Eaton, who allowed a walk for the first time this spring. “I fell behind a lot of guys…”

The AP recap of the game for Yahoo sports notes;

Eaton is a candidate for the final spot in the Phillies rotation and said he wasn’t sure if he’d be making the trip north this week.

“I made some good pitches but I have no idea,” Eaton said. “If I am in Cincinnati next Saturday when it’s my turn to pitch, I will know I made the team.”

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was also noncommittal.

“I won’t know until we get there,” Manuel said. “Next Saturday is a long way off.”

Pesonally, I’d have to give my nod to Chad Durbin over Eaton head-to-head for the fifth starting rotation spot based on comparable records both last season and during this spring’s exhibitions.

Centerfielder Brandon Inge, who lost his third base job with the acquisition of Miguel Cabrera, went three for three with three RBIs, second baseman Placido Polanco and unrostered Clete Thomas homered for Detroit. Veteran lefthander Kenny “the Gambler” Rogers, he of the Pine Tar “dirt ball” episode in the 2006 World Series, allowed two runs and three hits in four innings and was credited with the win.

The Phils play their final two exhibition games against Toronto on Friday night and Saturday afternoon.

Sunday is an off-day followed by Monday afternoon’s opening game against the Washington Nationals in their new stadium, Nationals Park.

For a related blog post on Adam Eaton, click here.

Myers, Unrostered Prospect Shut Out Yankees

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

                           Brett Myers

Just when Phillies fans started to get a little nervous after another set of shaky pitching performances by lefthander Cole Hamels and second year starter Kyle Kendrick, Brett Myers and young prospect Andrew Carpenter turned the New York Yankees hitters upside down, inside out, round ‘n round combining for a four hit 4-0 shutout.  

With just a four days and a few hours left before opening day,
Myers, who appears primed for a break-out season, closed down the Yankees totally.  He surrendered but two hits and walked two while striking out three in five innings in his final tune-up before his opening day start against the
Washington Nationals on March 31.

Then Carpenter came on in the sixth inning and closed the Yanks down, for the remainder of the game, despite a ninth inning threat. 

The AP game recap for Yahoo sports notes;

Myers might have been trumped by a 22-year-old prospect who doesn’t even have a locker in the major league clubhouse.

Andrew Carpenter, who won 17 games at Class-A Clearwater last summer, was added as an extra man before the game and responded by pitching four scoreless innings of relief.

“He did very good. He had good command, he threw a good changeup and he located his fastball very good,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “He pitched with a purpose.”

Carpenter struck out the side in his second inning of work and escaped a bases-loaded, none-out jam in the ninth with a foulout and two strikeouts. He allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out six.

The line of zeros in this game marked unquestionably the finest Phillies’ pitching performance of the spring.

Rightfielder Geoff Jenkins went 3 for 4, leftfielder Pat Burrell went 2 for 3 and shortstop Jimmy Rollins knocked in two runs as all of the Phils’ scoring took place in the second inning off of Yanks’ starter Chien-Ming Wang.  Wang, who was less than sharp in his final spring tune-up, went five innings giving up four runs on six hits. The Yanks’ bullpen then shut down the Phillies through the rest of the game.

The Phillies’ next face the Detroit Tigers on Thursday.

For related previous blog posts about Brett Myers, click below;

Phillies: Exhibition Season Update

Lighter Side of Spring Training: Kendrick “Traded” to Japan

Phillies Win NL East With Win Over Nationals, Mets Lose to Florida

Masterful Complete Game for Myers, Utley, Burrell Homer, Phillies Beat Cubs

Tigers’ Multi-Year Deal Puts Cabrera in Exclusive League

Monday, March 24th, 2008

                       Miguel Cabrera

The Detroit Tigers and their new third baseman Miguel Cabrera reached agreement on Monday to a $152.3 million, 8-year deal, pending Cabrera’s passing the normal physical before an agreement can be finalized.

Cabrera’s deal puts him in exclusive territoryas one of the five highest paid players in baseball.

AP sports writer Larry Lage reports for Yahoo sports;

Cabrera agreed on Jan. 18 to an $11.3 million salary for this season. The new deal adds $141 million over the following seven seasons.

Cabrera will earn $15 million in 2009, when he would have been eligible for salary arbitration. He will average $21 million annually over the next six seasons, when he would have been eligible for free agency.

Cabrera’s average salary of $19,037,500 will be the fourth-highest in the major leagues behind those of New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez ($27.5 million), New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana ($22,916,667) and Boston left fielder Manny Ramirez ($20 million).

His deal will be the fourth-highest package. Rodriguez is starting a $275 million, 10-year contract, Yankees shortstop  Derek Jeter is entering the eighth season of a $189 million, 10-year deal and Ramirez is in the final guaranteed season of a $160 million, eight-year contract.

Florida sent Cabrera and [Dontrelle] Willis, the last players left from the Marlins’ 2003 World Series championship team, to Detroit for six prospects. Cabrera made $472,000 two years ago and $7.4 million last season, when he was eligible for arbitration for the first time.

Two years ago, Cabrera hit a Marlins-record .339 while joining Pujols, Rodriguez and Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg as the only players to hit 25 homers and 50 doubles in a season before turning 24.

He followed that up with career highs in homers (34) and RBIs (119) last season.

Related blog post; Tigers Acquire Cabrera, Willis From Marlins in 8 Player Deal