April 2009

Cole Hamels gets crushed as the Phils are defeated by the Rockies, 10-3.

The Phillies starting rotation is still looking for its first quality start of 2009 as the Rockies crush the rotation’s ace, Cole Hamels, for seven runs, as the Phils lose to the Rockies, 10-3.

The Phils, for the first time this season, took the lead, as Pedro Feliz, in the second inning, hit a sacrifice fly, knocking in Jayson Werth, who had earlier doubled, and had gone to third base on shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s fielding error of Raul Ibanez’s groundball, making it 1-0 Phillies. Hamels, meanwhile, threw two good innings, before getting pummeled by the Rockies in the third. Clint Barmes started the inning off with a double. Opposing pitcher Jason Marquis then followed him with an RBI single, scoring Barmes, tying up the game at one all. After Dexter Fowler is called out for batter interference on a bunt attempt for the inning’s first out, Ryan Spilborghs followed with a double, moving Marquis to third base, putting runners on second and third with one out. The next batter, Todd Helton, then hit into a 4-3 ground out for the inning’s second out, scoring Marquis, giving the Rockies a 2-1 lead, while sending Spilborghs over to third. Garret Atkins then followed with a two-run home run, his first home run of the season, scoring Spilborghs, and making it 4-1 Rockies. Brad Hawpe then got on base with a ground-rule double. Tulowitzki followed him with a triple, scoring Hawpe, and giving the Rockies a 5-1 lead. Chris Iannetta, the ninth batter of the inning, would finally end the nightmare by poping out to Carlos Ruiz in foul territory. The Phillies cut the Rockies’ lead to 5-2 as Feliz knocked in his second RBI of the game, this time with a 6-3 ground out, the second out of the inning, as he scored Werth, who had earlier doubled and had moved over to third base on an Ibanez 4-3 ground out. In the bottom half of the inning, the Rockies got the run back as Spilborghs doubled in Barmes, who had gotten on base with a single, had move over to second base on Marquis’ sacrifice bunt and had gone to third on Fowler’s 6-3 ground out, making it 6-2 Rockies. Helton followed with an RBI single, scoring Spilborghs, and giving the Rockies a 7-2 lead. After Hamels gave up a single to Atkins, putting runners on second and first, manager Charlie Manuel came to the mound and relieved Hamels, bringing in J.A. Happ. Happ ended the inning by getting Hawpe to ground out, 3-1, after earlier throwing a wild pitch which moved the runners up to third and second respectively. The score remained 7-2 until the bottom of the eighth, when the Rockies increased their lead with a three-run outburst. With Chad Durbin on the mound in relief, Fowler made it 8-2 Rockies with an one-out RBI single, as he knocked in Barmes, who had earlier reached base after being hit by the pitch and had moved up to second on pinch hitter Seth Smith’s walk, while Smith stopped at second base. Spilborghs then singled in Smith, making it 9-2 Rockies, while sending Fowler over to third, putting runners on the corners. Helton then followed with a sacrifice fly, scoring Fowler, and giving the Rockies a 10-2 lead. In the ninth, Werth made it a 10-3 Rockies’ lead as he hit a lead-off home run, his first of the season, off of Rockies’ reliever Matt Belisle. But that would be it for the Phils, as Belisle got Ibanez to ground out to first, Greg Dobbs to strike out and Chris Coste to ground out, 6-3, to end the ballgame.

Cole Hamels took the lost for the Phils, as he pitched only three and two-thirds innings, giving up seven runs on eleven hits and a walk, while striking out only one batter. His record is now 0-1 with a high ERA of 17.18. J.A. Happ followed him and pitched an inning and a third of relief, giving up only one hit as he struck out one. Clay Condrey came to the mound next and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, striking out a batter. Chad Durbin then pitched an inning, giving up three runs on two hits, a walk, and a hit batter, while striking out one. Jason Marquis got the win for the Rockies, as he pitched a quality start, going seven innings, giving up just two runs on five hits and two walks, while striking out two. Marquis’ record is now 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA. Alan Embree followed with a scoreless inning, giving up just one hit and a walk. Matt Belisle then pitched an inning of relief, giving up a run on one hit, Werth’s home run, as he struck out a batter.

Jayson Werth led the team by going four for four, with two singles, a double and a home runs, scoring all three Phillies’ run, increasing his batting average to .333. Chase Utley also had a good day, as he went two for three with a walk, increaing his average to .429. Carlos Ruiz, who went 0 for 2, with his average dropping down to .273, was taken out of the game for an injury to his right oblique.

The Phillies (1-3) will continue their three-game series with the Rockies (3-1) in Denver with a night game tonight at Coors Field. The game will start at 8:10 pm Eastern Time (6:10 pm Mountain). The Phillies’ starter will be Brett Myers (0-1, 6.00), who will be looking for his first win of the young season, trying to improve on his start last Sunday against the Braves. The Rockies will counter with Jorge De La Rosa, who will be starting his first game of the year. Last season, in twenty-eight games, twenty-three of which were starts, he went 10-8 with a 4.92 ERA. This season, his record is 0-0 with a -.– ERA. The Phillies will be trying to tie the series with a win tonight.

Preview: Phillies v. Rockies at Coors Field – Friday afternoon, 2:10 pm Mountain Time.

The Philadelphia Phillies (1-2) will begin their first road trip of the 2009 season this afternoon by facing the Colorado Rockies (2-1) at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. The game will begin at 2:10 pm mountain time. The Phillies, who are now looking for their first series win, will send their ace, Cole Hamels, to the mound. Hamels, who was perfect in the post-season last season, going 4-0 in five starts, with a 1.80 ERA, as he won the 2008 National League Championship Series and the 2008 World Series MVP Awards, coming of age as one of baseball’s elite starters. During the regular season, he was 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA in 33 starts, including two complete games. His 2009 record is presently 0-0 with a -.– ERA. He will be gunning for his first victory of the season, and to pitch the first quality start by one of the Phils’ starters. The Colorado Rockies will counter with Jason Marquis, who will be pitching his first game as a member of the Rockies pitching staff. Last season, as a member of the 2008 National League Central Division Champions Chicago Cubs, Marquis went 11-9 with a 4.53 ERA in 29 games, with 28 of them being starts. He will be looking to get rid of the sour taste left in his mouth being a member of a Cubs team that got swept in the Divisional Championship Series by the Los Angeles Dodgers. His 2009 record is also 0-0 with a -.– ERA. He will also be going for his first win of the season.

The Phillies, with 2008 finally behind them, as they have finally received their 2008 World Series rings on Wedensday, will be trying to put together both their first winning streak and their first series win for 2009. Chase Utley is presently leading the team in batting average among the regulars with a .364 batting average (4-11), followed by Carlos Ruiz at .333 (3-9), Raul Ibanez at .273 (3-11) and Ryan Howard at .250 (3-12). Utley also leads the team in hits with 4, followed by Ruiz, Ibanez and Howard with 3 hits apiece, while Ibanez leads the team in RBIs with 3, followed by Utley with 2. Ibanez also has the team’s only home run.

And the answer to this week’s trivia question is…

First, let see the question again: Name the first ten Phillies’ Opening Day Pitchers? And the answers are:

1883 – John Coleman
1884 – Charlie Ferguson
1885 – Charlie Ferguson
1886 – Dan Casey
1887 – Ed Daily
1888 – Kid Gleason
1889 – Charlie Buffinton
1890 – Kid Gleason
1891 – Kid Gleason
1892 – Tim Keefe

And the person with the correct response is, once again, Sue of Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts. Congratulations, Sue. I will be asking another question early next week. Hopefully, I’ll get more people attempting to answer the question.

Phillies’ eight-run seventh inning help lead to first victory of the season, 12-11, as Brad Lidge remains perfect in relief.

After trailing the Braves for the third straight game, the Phillies’ eight-run rally in the seventh inning lead to their first win of the 2009 season, as they defeat the Atlanta Braves, 12-11, ending the three-game series on a high note.

The Phillies began the afternoon by receiving their world series ring. After the ring ceremony, Joe Blanton started the game for the Phils, and right from the start was in for a long day as he gave up a two-out two-run home run to Brian McCann, his second home run of the young season, knocking in Yunel Escobar, who had earlier reached second base with a double, giving the Braves an early 2-0 lead. The Phils tied the game up in their half of the second as Raul Ibanez hit a two-run home run, his first homer as a Phil, and the team’s first home run of the season, scoring Ryan Howard, who had earlier doubled. The Braves retook the lead in the top of the third as they torched Blanton for five runs. After loading the bases via a single to Omar Infante, a walk to Kelly Johnson and another single to Escobar, with nobody out, McCann made the score 3-2 Braves by knocking in Infante with an RBI single, while moving Johnson and Escobar up to third and second respectively, leaving the bases loaded. After Casey Kotchman strikes out for the inning’ first out, Jeff Francoeur made it 5-2 Atlanta with a two-run single to center, knocking in both Johnson and Escobar, while McCann would move safely to third on Shane Victorino’s throw to home plate. Matt Diaz followed with a two-run double, scoring both Francoeur and McCann, giving the Braves a 7-2 lead. The Phils would get one of the runs back in the bottom half of the third, as Victorino, who had started the inning off with a triple, scored on an Infante throwing error of a Chase Utley ground ball to third base, making it 7-3 Atlanta. The Braves increased their lead to 9-3 in the fifth as rookie Jordan Schafer hit his second home run of his young career, a two-run shot to right, scoring Diaz, who had gotten on base earlier with a walk. Both runs came off of J.A. Happ, pitching in relief of Blanton, thus ending with one swing of the bat both the bullpen’s hitless and scoreless streak. The Braves added to their lead in the seventh, making it 10-3 Braves, as Chad Durbin gives up a bases loaded walk to Infante, forcing in Kotchman, who had earlier doubled and had moved over to third on Greg Norton’s walk, while moving Schafer to third, who had also walked, and moving Norton over to second base. Clay Condrey then came into the game in place of Durbin and got out of the inning by striking out Johnson. Now trailing 10-3, the offense decided to come to life. Victorino started off the Phils’ half of the seventh by grounding out, 5-3, for the inning’s first out. Utley followed with a single to center. Howard was then hit by the pitch, putting runners on first and second, as Utley moved up to second. The next batter, Jayson Werth, is then walked by Peter Moylan, who was pitching in relief of Eric O’Flaherty, loading the bases with still only one man out. Ibanez followed Werth with a single, knocking in Utley, as he collected his third RBI of the afternoon, making the score 10-4 Atlanta, while sending Howard over to third base, and Werth to second, leaving the bases loaded. Pedro Feliz then singled in Howard, making it 10-5 Braves, while Werth and Ibanez both moved up a base, leaving the bases loaded with Phils. Matt Stairs, pinch hitting for Carlos Ruiz, is given a four pitch walk, forcing in Werth with the third Phils’ run in the inning, reducing the Braves lead to 10-6, as the bases remained loaded. The next batter, pinch hitter Chris Coste, batting for Condrey, also walks, bringing home Ibanez, as the Phils now trailed 10-7, while the bases remained loaded for Jimmy Rollins, who became the ninth batter of the inning. Rollins received a four-pitch free pass, the third straight walk to a Phil batter, and the fourth walk of the inning, forcing in Feliz, as the bases stay loaded, making the score 10-8 Braves. The next batter, Victorino, followed with a single, scoring Stairs, making the score now 10-9 Atlanta, moving Coste and Rollins over to third and second base, respectively, as the bases remained loaded. The eleventh batter of the inning, Utley, walks, the fifth Phil to walk in the inning, tying the ballgame up at 10 all, as Coste crosses the plate, while Rollins and Victorino both moved up a base. Howard comes up to the plate, and with the count 1-1, hit the ball on a bounce towards Braves’ first baseman, Kotchman. Kotchman, having only one play, threw the ball over to relief pitcher Jorge Campillo, the fourth Braves reliever to pitch in the inning, who tagged the bag in front of Howard for the second out of the inning, as Rollins scored the go ahead run, giving the Phils their first lead of 2009, 11-10. Victorino and Utley both moved up a base on the play. Werth ended the inning by flying out to right. The Phils sent thirteen men to the plate, as they scored eight runs in the inning on four hits, five walks and a hit batter. Ryan Madson took over in the top of the eighth, pitching a strong 1-2-3 inning, throwing only seven pitches. The Phils added an insurance run in their half of the eighth, as Eric Bruntlett, pinch hitting for Madson, hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Ibanez, who had earlier walked and had gone to third on Feliz’s double, with nobody out, making it a 12-10 Phillies’ lead. In the ninth, Brad Lidge took the mound. Although he gave up a one-out solo home run to Diaz, his first home run of the season, Lidge recorded his first save of the 2009 season, as he struck out pinch hitter Garret Anderson for the final out, for the moment staying perfect in save opportunities as a Phil.

Joe Blanton received a no-decision as he got pummeled by the Braves, giving up seven runs on nine hits and two walks, while striking out six in four innings of work. J.A. Happ pitched two innings, giving up two runs on one hit and a walk, while he struck out two Braves. Chad Durbin pitched two-thirds of an inning, giving up a run on one hit and three walks. Clay Condrey received the win as he pitched a third of an inning, striking out the one man he would face. His record for 2009 is 1-0 with an ERA of 0.00. Ryan Madson pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, as he held the lead. Brad Lidge recorded his first save of the season as he pitched an inning, giving up a run on one hit, as he struck out one. Javier Vazquez also received a no-decision, as he pitched six innings for the Braves, giving up just three runs on five hits and four walks, as he struck out five batters. Eric O’Flaherty followed him, pitching only a third of an inning, as he gave up two runs on one hit. Peter Moylan pitched to four batters, getting none of them out, as he gave up four runs on two hits and two walks. Blaine Boyer took the lost as he faced only two batters, with both of them scoring, as he gave up two runs on no hits and two walks. Jorge Campillo blew the save, giving up a run on two hits and two walks, in two-thirds of an inning. Jeff Bennett pitched a scoreless inning, giving up a hit while striking out a batter.

The Phillies had eleven hits in the game, with Victorino, Utley, Ibanez and Feliz each getting two hits. Howard, Ruiz and Coste had the other three hits. Ibanez knocked in three runs, Utley brought home two, while Feliz, Stairs, Coste, Rollins, Victorino, Howard and Bruntlett each knocked in a run, with Bruntlett’s coming in on a sacrifice fly. The Phillies collected five extra-base hits in the game, three doubles (Howard, Utley and Feliz), a triple (Victorino) and a home run (Ibanez). After three games, Utley leads the team in hitting with a .364 batting average, followed by Ruiz with a pleasently surprising .333 average.

The Phils (1-2) are off today. Their next game will be on the road against the Colorado Rockies (2-1) in Denver, Colorado, at Coors Field. The game will start at 2:10 pm Mountain Time tomorrow afternoon. The Phillies will send to the mound their ace, Cole Hamels, who ended 2008 with a record of 14-10 in 33 starts with an ERA of 3.09 in the regular season. His record for this season is presently 0-0 with a -.– ERA. The Rockies will oppose him with Jason Marquis, who last season had a record of 11-9 for the Chicago Cubs, with an ERA of 4.53 in 29 games (28 of which were starts). His record for this season is also 0-0 with a -.– ERA. The Phillies will be trying to even their season record tomorrow.

Phils have now dropped two in a row as the bats are unable to knock in a run as they lose to the Braves, 4-0.

The Phillies have lost their second straight game in the young season as the bats resurrect a major problem from last season, the inability to knock in runs after putting men in scoring position.

Jamie Moyer, starting the game for the Phils, ran into trouble early, as Braves’  lead-off man Kelly Johnson, hammers his first pitch, a cutter, into the right field seats, for his first home run of the season, giving Atlanta a quick 1-0 lead. Three batters later, Chipper Jones, who had earlier reached second on a double with one man out, scored from second base on a Chase Utley fielding error of a Brian McCann grounder, making it 2-0 Braves. The Braves added a run in the fourth inning, as, with runners on first and third, with two outs, Kelly Johnson singled in Jeff Francoeur, who had earlier singled and had reached third on an infield single by Casey Kotchman that Jimmy Rollins was unable to make a play on, increasing Atlanta’s lead to 3-0. The next batter, Yunel Escobar, followed with a single to left, but a strong throw from Raul Ibanez to home plate would cut down Kotchman, as Carlos Ruiz successfully blocked home plate before supplying the tag, for the inning’s final out. Then in the fifth, Jones knocked in the Braves’ final run of the evening as he hit Moyer’s first pitch, another cutter, deep into left field for his first home run of the year, and the Braves’ fifth homer of the young season. The Phillies’ bullpen then took over in the sixth, and, like it did on Sunday night, it would shut down the Braves’ offense for the rest of the night. Meanwhile, the Phillies were not having any luck with either Jair Jurrjens or the Braves’ bullpen. Although they would get a few men into scoring position, they would be unable to get the key hit that they needed to bring them home as they ended up being six-hit by Atlanta.

Jamie Moyer took the lost as he pitched five innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and two walks, as he struck out two. His record is now 0-1 with an ERA of 7.20. Chan Ho Park pitched an inning of relief, giving up no hits. Jack Taschner followed him, pitching two straight 1-2-3 innings. Clay Condrey also pitched a 1-2-3 inning, with two strike outs, as the bullpen has so far pitched seven shut out innings, giving up no hits or walks. Jair Jurrjens picked up the win for the Braves, as he went five and two-thirds shut out innings, scattering four hits, along with three walks, while striking out two. His record is now 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. Jeff Bennett then followed him in relief, giving up a hit to the only batter that he would face. Eric O’Flaherty then came in and pitched an inning and a third of shut out ball, giving up a hit. Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez then came in to each pitch a scoreless inning, with Soriano striking out a batter.

Among the Phillies batters, Utley and Ryan Howard would each get two hits in the game, all singles. Ibanez and Ruiz had the Phils other two hits, with Ibanez’s hit being a double, the Phils only extra-base hit of the night. The Phils also had four walks, But, they were unable to knock in any runs, as they left eleven men on base, going 0-7 with runners in scoring position, a major problem for the team last season.

The Phillies (0-2) will conclude their short three-game home stand with the Braves (2-0) later this afternoon, as the Phillies receive their World Series rings. The game will begin at 3:05 pm Eastern time at Citizens Bank Park, with the ring ceremony to be performed at 2:15 pm. Starting for the Phillies will be Joe Blanton, who last year went 4-0 for the Phils (9-12 overall) with a 4.20 ERA. His record for the 2009 season is presently 0-0 with a -.– ERA. His opponent will be Javier Vazquez, who in 2008 went 12-16 for the Chicago White Sox with a 4.67 ERA. This season his record is presenty 0-0 with a -.– ERA. The Phils will be looking to salvage a win at home before they go on the road for their first road trip of the young season, meeting the Rockies in Colorado for three weekend games and then going on to Washington, D.C. to face the Nationals for three games at the start of next week.

Preview: Phillies v. Braves – Tuesday night, 7:05 pm.

After suffering a lost at the hands of their old rivals, the Atlanta Braves (1-0), the 2008 World Champions Philadelphia Phillies (0-1) will be shooting for their first victory of the 2009 season tonight against the same Braves, in the second game of their opening three-game home stand. The game will be played tonight at Citizens Bank Park and will start at 7:05 pm Eastern.

The Phillies will send to the mound their ageless wonder Jamie Moyer, who, last season was 16-7 in thirty-three starts with a 3.71 ERA, leading the team’s starters in victories. Last season, he went 0-0 in two starts against the Braves. Moyer is presently four victories short of reaching 250 career wins, which, if he pitches well and has plenty of runs support from the Phils’ batters, he should reach that milestone by late May. Moyer will be trying to get the Phillies back onto the winning track, while using his pitches and veteran savvy to outthink the Braves’ batters. His 2009 record is presently 0-0 with a -.– ERA. His opponent will be second-year pitcher Jair Jurrjens. In 2008, in thirty-one starts, Jurrjens was 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA. The Dutch-born pitcher will try to do better against the Phils this year, as he went 1-2 in four starts against the Phillies last season. His 2009 record is 0-0 with a -.– ERA.

The Phillies’ bat will see if they can continue where they left off with Jurrjens last season while trying to forget what Derek Lowe did to them on Opening Night, trying to even the series at a victory apiece.

Opening Night falls flat for the world champs as they lose to the Braves, 4-1.

First, the answer to last week’s trivia question, which no one even attempted to answer. First, the question: Name the first ex-Phil to be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame? And the answer is: Nap Lajoie is the first ex-Phil to be elected into the Baseball Hal of Fame, as he was elected as a member of the 1937 class, receiving 168 votes or 83.58% of the vote in the second Hall of Fame election, being that year’s highest vote getter. Nap was a member of the Phils for four years, 1896-1900. A new weekly trivia question will be asked at the bottom of this post.

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The 2009 regular season started last night as the 2008 World Champions Philadelphia Phillies faced one of their oldest rivals, the Atlanta Braves, in a night game at Citizens Bank Park, which included the raising of the 2008 banner and fireworks, as the Phils wore their special opening night uniforms with gold trim and the 2008 World Series patch.

Sadly, during the game itself, all of the fireworks were on the Atlanta Braves’ side as they torched Phils’ starter Brett Myers for four runs, via three home runs, in the first two innings. Things looked very promising for Myers as he easily got out the first two batters that he faced, via a fly out to center and a 6-3 ground out. Then Chipper Jones, with the count 3-2, hit a single to left, getting the first hit of the 2009 season. The next batter, Brian McCann then hit a 2-0 pitch into deep right field for a two-run home run, the first home run of the new season, as the Braves took a quick 2-0 lead. In the second, the Braves added to their lead as Jeff Francoeur hit his first home run of the year, a rocket into the left field seats, making it 3-0 Atlanta. One batter later, Jordan Schafer, in his first major league at-bat, made it 4-0 Braves as he slugged a 3-1 fastball into center field. Myers would settle down after that, giving up only five more hits as he pitched a total of six innings. While the Braves were raining on Myers’ parade, Derek Lowe was expertly handcuffing the Phils, giving up only two hits in his eight strong innings of work, a one-out ground-rule double to Carlos Ruiz in the third inning, the first Phillies’ hit of the season, who was then left stranded on second, and a two-out single to Jimmy Rollins in the sixth, who was then left on first as Jayson Werth lined out right to Lowe to end the inning. The Phils would finally score a run in the ninth inning, getting it off of reliever Mike Gonzalez. Pinch hitter Eric Bruntlett started the inning off with a pinch hit double. Rollins then flied out to right, sending Bruntlett over to third with one out. The next batter, Werth, then singled sharply to left, scoring Bruntlett, collecting the first Phillies RBI of the season, making it a 4-1 Braves’ lead. Chase Utley followed with a walk, sending Werth over to second, and bringing up the tying run to the plate in the person of Ryan Howard. Howard, who had been given a steady diet of off-speed pitches all night by Lowe, saw five straight sliders from Gonzalez, working the count full. Thus, Howard was caught off-guard when pitch no. six from Gonzalez was a fast ball, the first one he had seen all night, which was sent right down the pike, for a call third strike. Howard was followed by Raul Ibanez, who, like Howard, was looking for his first hit of the year, and seeing if he could help his new team out early in the season. Sadly, it was not to be, as he struck out, swinging, on a 3-2 fastball, ending the ballgame as a 4-1 Braves’ victory.

Brett Myers, in his six innings of work, gave up four runs on eight hits, including three home runs, and a walk while striking out six. His regular season record is now 0-1 with a 6.00 ERA. Jack Taschner, pitching in his first official game as a Phil, pitched a 1-2-3 inning as he struck out a batter. Scott Eyre followed him for two-thirds of an inning, recording a strikeout. Chad Durbin then pitched the final third of an inning, striking out the only batter he would face. Brad Lidge pitched the ninth for the Phils, pitching a 1-2-3 inning, including a strikeout. Derek Lowe pitched eight strong innings for the Braves, staying out of trouble all night, as he gave up only two hits to the Phils as he struck out four. His record is now 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA. Mike Gonzalez pitched an inning, giving up a run on two hits and a walk, while getting two very important strike outs to end the game.

At this point, Eric Bruntlett is leading the team in batting with a 1.000 batting average, as he went 1 for 1 with a double. Carlos Ruiz follows at .333, as he went 1 for 3 on the night with a ground-rule double.  Jimmy Rollins and Jayson Werth follow with both men going 1 for 4 for a .250 batting average, with Werth having the Phils’, at the moment, only RBI of the season.

The short series will continued tomorrow night at Citizens Bank Park. The game will start at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies will send to the mound their ageless wonder Jamie Moyer, who record is presently 0-0 with a -.– ERA. The Braves will counter with Jair Jurrjens, who’s record is also 0-0 with a -.– ERA.

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Now, here is this week’s trivia question: Name the first ten Phillies’ Opening Day Pitchers? You all know where to find the answer. The answer will be posted on Thursday.

Post No. 500: Spring Training: Phillies lose final Spring Training game to the Rays, 9-7. Are ready for Opening Night.

Yesterday afternoon, the Phillies faced the Tampa Bay Rays in their final spring training game. Despite their best efforts, they lost the game to the Rays, 9-7.

The Phils’ ace, Cole Hamels, started the game for the World Champs. In five innings of work, he gets rocked by the 2008 American League Champs, giving up six runs on six hits, including two home runs, a solo shot in the first inning to former teammate Pat Burrell and a three-run home run to Carlos Pena, also in the first, and a walk while striking out seven. Gary Majewski followed him, pitching a scoreless inning, giving up only a hit. J.C. Romero then took the mound for an inning, being hit for two runs on three hits and a walk. Cedrick Bowers followed Romero, pitching a 1-2-3 inning. Mike Koplove took the mound in the ninth, giving up a run on one hit and three walks while striking out a batter. Hamels took the lost, with his spring record now at 0-1 with a 9.39 ERA. In spite of the bad outing, the fact that Hamels was striking out a large number of batters in the ballgame should be an indication that he will be tough to face during the regular season.

Among the batters, the Phils had eleven hits against Rays’ pitching. Matt Stairs led the way with three hits, two singles and a double, as he knocked in a run and scored a run, ending the spring with a .288 batting average. Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez both followed with two hits each, with Ibanez hitting a home run, a two-run shot in the fourth, along with a double, while Howard had two singles and scored a run. Howard ended the spring with a .333 batting average while Ibanez ended his with a .310 batting average. Hopefully, Howard will be able to translate his hot spring hitting into the regular season. If so, opposing pitchers are in for a long season while facing him. Jimmy Rollins, Jayson Werth, Greg Dobbs and Jason Donald had the other four Phillies’ hits, with Dobbs’ hit being a two-run home run in the fourth, while Donald’s was a solo shot in the sixth. Werth’s hit, a double, help knocked in a run. Werth ended the spring with a .333 average, after a slow start thanks to injury problems. Rollins ended his spring with a .351 batting average, after coming back from being hot while playing for Team USA in the WBC. Prospect Jason Donald will be headed for Triple-A Lehigh Valley with a .310 batting average.

The defending 2008 World Champions are now ready to begin their title defense, ready to become the first National League team to repeat as World Series Champs since the Pete Rose-Johnny Bench-Joe Morgan-led Big Red Machine of 1975-76.

The Phillies will play the first game of their title defense tonight at home against the Atlanta Braves, the first game of a three-game series with the Braves. The game will be played at Citizens Bank Park, with the game starting at 8:00 pm Eastern time. The game will be televisied nationally on ESPN. The Phillies’ starter will be Brett Myers while the Braves will counter with Derek Lowe. Both starters’ records will be 0-0 with a -.– ERA.

PLAY BALL!!! and GO PHILLIES!!!!!

Spring Training: Phillies defeats the Rays in a 9th-inning walk-off win, 3-2.

In the first of two games with the Tampa Bay Rays before Opening Night, the 2008 World Champions Phils defeated the 2008 American League Champs with a two-run ninth inning rally, winning the ballgame 3-2.

Joe Blanton started the game for the Phillies, pitching five strong innings, as he gave up just two runs on six hits while striking out three Rays. He was followed to the mound by Chad Durbin, Scott Eyre and Ryan Madson, who each pitched a scoreless frame, giving up just one hit between them (Eyre) and two walks (Durbin and Eyre with one walk each), while they together struck out two Rays (Durbin and Madson one apiece). Brad Lidge, who got the win, pitched a 1-2-3 inning. Lidge spring training record is now 1-0 with a 4.00 ERA. Looks like Blanton and the bullpen are all ready to start the season.

The Phillies’ bats got six hits last night. Jayson Werth led the team with two hits, raising his spring training average to .324. Jimmy Rollins, Jason Donald, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz got the other four Phils’ hits. Raul Ibanez, Chris Coste and Donald had the Phils’ three RBIs, with Donald’s being a walk-off single in the ninth inning, knocking in Eric Bruntlett with the game winner.

The Phillies are presently playing their last spring training game, also with the Rays, this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. They are presently trailing the Rays 4-0 in the bottom of the third inning.

The 25-Man roster is set as J.A. Happ, Jack Taschner and Miguel Cairo take the final roster spots.

They Phillies have announced that they will be giving the final two spots in the bullpen to J.A. Happ and Jack Taschner while they send Gary Majewski down to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. They will also be giving the final bench spot to infielder Miguel Cairo. With that, your 2009 defending World Champions Philadelphia Phillies look like this:

Catchers
Carlos Ruiz
Chris Coste

Infielders
Ryan Howard
Chase Utley
Pedro Feliz
Jimmy Rollins
Greg Dobbs
Miguel Cairo
Eric Bruntlett

Outfielders
Raul Ibanez
Shane Victorino
Jayson Werth
Matt Stairs

Staring Pitchers
Cole Hamels
Brett Myers
Jamie Moyer
Joe Blanton
Chan Ho Park

Relief Pitchers
J.A. Happ
Clay Condrey
Jack Taschner
Chad Durbin
Scott Eyre
Ryan Madson
Brad Lidge

…plus J.C. Romero, who will be returning later in the season from his stupid 50-game suspension, to retake his roster spot in the bullpen.

Although the team looks good and appear ready to defend the title, I still have this nagging question in the back of my head. Why are they putting Happ into the bullpen, where he has not done too well so far at the big league level, instead of Majewski? Let’s be honest, folks. Happ is a starter, no more, no less. He’s better off pitching some more at Lehigh Valley until something bad happens to one of the five starters, knock on wood, instead of the bullpen. I can only think that he’s up here just in case someone in the starting rotation blows it big time real early in the season. I am so hoping that I’m wrong and that Charlie Manuel and the brain-trust knows exactly what they are doing.

In other Phillies-related news, the Mets have just signed outfielder Gary Sheffield to a one-year, $400,000 deal. If Gary’s attitude is as bad as I’d been reading about during the past few days, our team has just bit the bullet by him signing elsewhere. As for the Mets, I hate to be in their clubhouse when he starts becoming disruptive.

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