Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mike Zagurski Talks With PhoulBallz

Mike Zagurski, a lefty reliever with the Phillies in 2007, had Tommy John surgery last year, missing the entire season. He is now on his way back up through the minors as he builds arm strength and gets back to form. Mike is currently pitching with the double A Reading Phillies. I spoke with Mike during Reading's visit to Trenton recently. Here's how that went down.


Mike, can you tell me what it was like the first time you were called up to the big club?

It was nice. It was something that, everyone that plays this game, the ultimate goal is to get there. So it was nice, a good experience. Now I'm just trying to get back.


Talk about the rehab process and how tough that has been for you.

It's been okay. It's better now that I'm finally on a team and playing a little bit. It had its moments in Florida where days got pretty monotonous, ya know, days were it got kind of frustrating where you wouldn't want to do your rehab part of it. But it's all part of the process and hopefully, it's behind me and something I can look back on and maybe think it's something that made me a little bit better player.


What have you learned from the coaching staff in Reading that's helped you so far this year?

I've learned a lot from them actually. I had the pitching coach (Steve) Schrenk, in low A and high A for my first two full seasons. Frank Cacciatore, the new hitting guy, I've talked to him about what certain hitters might be looking for in a certain count and things like that. And "Roady" (Steve Roadcap), as a manager, this is his 25th year maybe, 23rd year I think he said. So, just his perspective on how he manages the game and how he goes about it is just different than we I had PJ (Forbes) my first time (in Reading).

Is there an expected time frame for you, when you expect to be back up in the Majors?


(Laughs) Ya know, I don't know. I don't know the exact time table. My goal is to hopefully pitch this whole year healthy, and at some point, if the situation arises and they need somebody, if I'm throwing the ball well, they'll consider me for the job, and hopefully I'll have some success and hopefully stay up there this time.


Who was the biggest help while you were injured?

I think it starts with the family and stuff. With them supporting me along the way, knowing that (I was) going through some hard times. It made it a little easier on (me), from my parents to my girlfriend. I was fortunate. I was down there (in Florida) with Sam Walls and Scott Mathieson and we all kind of went through it together. We knew where each person was at, at that point in their rehab and we all kind of fed off each other. We found a way to try to not make it so repetitive, I guess, every day of doing rehab seven days a week.


With the success of the Reading staff this year, do you think there's anyone on the staff who is underrated?

I think it starts with our five starters. Our five starters, I think you'd have a hard time finding a better 5 maybe in all of minor league baseball. As a staff from a prospect stand point, getting outs, they're awfully good. I wouldn't want to say none of them are overrated or underrated, but I think they're all pretty good. I think maybe none of them get the credit they deserve, with the exception of Drabek, I think people are starting to see that he is that first round pick that they thought he was. But those other four starters all throw the ball pretty well.


Where were you and who were you with watching game 5 of the World Series last year?

I was at game 5 of the World Series. I was there with my brother, my girlfriend, for the first part of the game in the rain and stuff. (Then) I was back in Florida actually watching with Scott Mathieson, another guy that was injured, we watched the last few innings of it.


How many mascots does Reading have and why are there so many?

That's a great question. There's a baseball, a dog....(laughs), they got a whole band, they got a chicken, I think. There's gotta be about four of 'em, I guess and the reason why is- "your guess is as good as mine".


And lastly, with the recent passing of the King of Pop...what's your favorite Michael Jackson song?

Thriller. No doubt.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The Scoop?

Phillies president Dave Montgomery visited the Reading Phillies clubhouse today in Trenton. Montgomery and Reading manager Steve Roadcap would not confirm the nature of the visit, but with the recent promotion of Yohan Flande to Reading from Clearwater, in addition to the ML Phillies having room due to the injury to Antonio Bastardo, that could make it possible for Reading to be promoting a pitcher. Pitcher Tyson Brummett was used today in relief, after starting 14 games. It is possible that the Brummett move makes room for Flande in the Reading rotation, but would the team president visit the double A affiliate's locker room, with a hush-hush vibe, and not have a reason?


I asked Reading manager Steve Roadcap, from the camera deck during the game, where Kyle Drabek, who did not dress today, might be headed. He looked around sheepishly, either acting as though he didn't hear me exactly or checking for who else might be listening, and would only tell me that Kyle was still there. Expect an announcement about the Major League Phillies' Thursday starter soon.

BallHype: hype it up!

Michael Taylor Q&A

Michael Taylor is currently leading the Reading Phillies' offense and is near the top of the Eastern League in most stat categories (3rd in batting avg- .342, 3rd in HR- 14, tied for second in RBI- 55, 2nd in OPS.- .994, tied for 1st in runs scored- 49, tied for 1st in hits...). The 23 year old Taylor is 6 feet 6 inches tall and has quickly grabbed the attention of phans and media alike as a top prospect to watch. I spoke with Mike Taylor over the weekend, and here is that interview.


With all the big stats and being among the league leaders in so many categories, do you think you're ready for the next step?

It's kind of a difficult question.


Do you have anything left to prove here?

There's always something to prove. There's stuff to prove every game. I mean that's one thing that's very interesting about this game. It's such a numbers oriented game. You're only as good as your last "whatever statistical category that someone's valuing". There's so much talent, so much ability at every level, and there's always someone coming up behind you. So, you always have something to prove every day. You have to. If not, you're going to have a short career.


How has the coaching staff here with Reading helped you this year?

I had (manager) Steve Roadcap last year for half a season, so just being able to be familiar with him has been a big help. Especially, in addition to getting used to something completely new, a new level, a new set of challenges. So being able to know him, and him knowing me as a player and for him to be able to watch me play every day and tell me some of the things I do well, and also help me make adjustments is a plus. And Frank Cacciatore is probably one of the hardest working hitting coaches in all of professional baseball. He has a good eye for what you're trying to do and you can get with him (about) what your plan is and he'll watch you and maybe if you're off course, he'll give you little reminders. I had (pitching coach) Steve Schrenk last year in the Florida State League and he's a good guy also because he's got 16 years of pro baseball, so he's got a pitching perspective that you might not get otherwise, or with another organization. So it's nice to have a bunch of different guys.


So Schrenk helps the hitters in addition to the pitchers?

Oh, for sure. He can tell you what the pitcher's thinking and what he might try to do to you. I think that's another resource, as a hitter, if you're not using, then you're not using everything you've got.


Is there any specific part of your game that you are still working on improving at this stage?

Everything. I mean, that answer sounds cliche, but I think once you're a 10-year vet, established in the big leagues, even at that point you're still working on stuff. I've got to get better in every facet.


There have been plenty of people describing you as a 5-tool player. How do you describe yourself or your game?

I think five-tool is the baseball terminology, but I just try to describe myself as pretty complete. I can help in a lot of different ways. Whether it be throwing guys out, or making a good play in the outfield, or stealing a bag or hopefully driving the ball or getting in position to drive in runs, that's really the goal for me every day.


Who has been your biggest influence coming up into pro ball?

Aw, man, that's- there's probably way too many guys to name just one. With the Phillies- he was the hitting coach when they won the World Championship in the 80's- Billy Demars. He was Pete Rose's personal guy, he really got with me a lot in spring training and he's been a big influence on me, with my swing and with my simplistic approach today, so I have to give him a lot of credit.


Can I get you to talk about when you were drafted? How did you find out, your reactions, who were you with...?

I was by myself, in my dorm room. I was still in school. I had finals coming up, I was trying to study. It was during a time that was a little hectic. I went on a work out-scout tour. I went to Kansas City, I went to Philadelphia and worked out for the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park. I flew to Lakeland and worked out for the Tigers in their spring training complex. I did all that in about 4 or 5 days. That was really interesting and tough, but it was a great experience. It was tough because where I was going to go was such a wide range of possibilities. I was sitting there after the first couple rounds, eyes wide open, hoping that my name was going to be next and I ended up getting picked in a fair spot (5th round) by the Phillies.


Were you watching the draft online that day (ancient days, before MLB Network)?

Yeah, I had the little draft tracker up. It was just going in my room. I watched a little, the first 15 picks of the first round. I had a little interest, obviously knowing a lot of the guys who went high. And after that, it took so long, you had to get a move on with your life, but I watched a lot more starting around the third round, 'cause that's when I thought I had an opportunity to possibly get (selected). And then it was getting down to the wire, and I was one of the last picks on the first day. I was really nervous towards the end, but luckily it worked out.


If you could face any pitcher in baseball right now, who would you pick?

If I could face any pitcher in baseball? You know, right now, who I'm really interested to see? A guy like Roy Halladay, a guy who's been on top of his game. You hear a lot of good things about him. So, it would be fun to say you faced a Roy Halladay or an AJ Burnett or a CC Sabathia. One of these guys who are paid very, very high to be one of the best pitchers in the league.



The Civil Rights game was played earlier in the week between the Reds and White Sox. Can I get you to talk about how you feel about MLB's efforts to reach out to the black community and their attempts to draw new interest?

I definitely think they're trying and there's a thin line between trying to reach out and forcing people to play. I mean, you can't make people play. And I think as long as there's a fair opportunity out there, I know they're trying to get into the inner cities with the RBI program and what not. I think these things go through lulls and a lot of the African American community, as far as sports is concerned, is focused on basketball and football. Especially in the city where basketball's easy to play. Socio-economically, it's pretty cheap to play...all you need is a basketball and a court. I know, growing up playing baseball, it's not a cheap thing to play. There's a lot of travel involved, just bats and gloves and things alone are just so expensive. Just to field that many players and have that much free time, it's a tough game to get, maybe, the lower socio-economic class. Those are some of the problems, but at the end of the day I think baseball's trying to reach out and at least have the opportunities there. Really what you want to ask for is that there's opportunities if someone out there would like to pursue (baseball). I haven't done a whole lot of research, but I know there's an RBI program and at least they're making some effort.


The Phillies have Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins as guys baseball has seemed to use to reach out in those efforts. As you come up, and when you come up, is that something you would welcome...being used to market baseball towards the black community?

Yeah, I think in the right situation, sure! Any time you can market something positive, I think I'd definitely be for it. Baseball's done a lot for me in my life. And not just my success to this point, and an opportunity to make money, but being able to go to school and the people I've met...the discipline it's taken just to play this game and go to school and do all these different things have all enriched my life and made me a better person. So, I mean, just from that stand point, baseball is unique in that it's one of those things that's very failure oriented. And if you can deal with being a baseball player, and still have joy and happiness in your life, outside of results, outside of the game, I feel like you have chance to be successful in all areas of your life.


And lastly, what is your favorite Michael Jackson song?

There were a lot of good ones. Billy Jean. I love Billy Jean. I love the video, I love the song. Billy Jean, I think that's my favorite Michael Jackson song.

BallHype: hype it up!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday School: History Lesson 21

Dave Bancroft, a Hall of Famer, played shortstop for the Phillies from 1915-1920. Veteran Phils shortstop Mickey Doolan had left to play in the Federal League in 1914, and the team was without a suitable replacement, so they summoned Bancroft from Portland of the Pacific Coast League. Critics asserted that he wouldn't be able to handle big league pitching, but Phillies manager Pat Moran felt, foremost, that he needed a solid defender.

Not a big offensive threat, Bancroft's best season at the plate for the Phillies came in 1917, when he hit .243 with 4 homers and 43 RBI. Bancroft had great range and soft hands, however, which was just what Moran wanted. Bancroft led all National League shortstops in total chances for 3 straight seasons.

In 1919, after four good seasons anchoring the middle of the Phillies infield, Bancroft was sent a contract to sign, calling for a pay decrease. This did not sit well, and he instead asked for a trade to another team. He got that wish a year later, when he was sent to the Giants for aging shortstop Art Fletcher and pitcher Bill Hubble, plus cash. The money may have assisted with the Phillies' bills, but the trade still proved to be awful.

Bancroft would quickly remind displeased Phillies phans of his own worth. Only three weeks after the trade, Bancroft would return to Philadelphia with the visiting Giants and went 6-for-6 at the plate. Bancroft turned his offensive game up after leaving our Phillies and would go on to have a batting average of .298 or higher 8 times. Bancroft went on to win 3 straight NL pennants with the Giants. To completely prove the trade unbalanced, Fletcher was 35 years old and would only play one more season in the Majors, before turning to managing. Hubbell was never a solid pitcher, and his win-loss record over five seasons with the Phillies was 27-55.

Prior to the 1924 season, Bancroft was traded again, this time to the Boston Braves, where he would play and manage. Three straight losing season with the Braves got him fired, however, but at age 37, he could still play. Dave went on the play two more full seasons with the Brooklyn Robins. Bancroft was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans' Committee in 1971.

BallHype: hype it up!

Q&A with Kyle Drabek

Kyle Drabek, former top draft pick of the Phillies in 2006, is currently pitching with the team's double A affiliate in Reading. The Reading Phillies' ace is currently 4-0 with a 2.43 ERA in 5 starts at the double A level this season. Combined with his single A level stats from Clearwater, Kyle is 8-1 with a 2.46 ERA overall in 2009. Kyle's father is former Pirates pitcher Doug Drabek. Kyle took some time last night to answer some questions for PhoulBallz.com. Here is a look at how that went down...


Kyle, can I get you to talk about being invited to play in the MLB Futures Game and how excited you are for that?

Really excited. It's an honor to be selected for something like that. The past players that have been there, I mean, to be going to the game is just amazing.


Were there some advantages growing up with a Major League pitcher for your father?

I'd have to say there's a few. Being able to learn from him every day, whenever I wanted. Just growing up with him, he taught me a lot about pitching, hitting, pretty much just everything about baseball. And it was just great. I love him.


With the NBA draft the other day, NHL draft this weekend, MLB draft a few weeks ago...I wanted to ask you about your draft day. Feelings, who were you with...?

Just real excited for the draft. I had my whole family, some of my teammates- most of my teammates from high school-, bunch of my friends, so it was kind of a bunch of people. My dad was watching the internet, and he told me when I got picked, and it was amazing. I couldn't believe it.


Is there any part of your pitching repertoire or your game that you are still working on improving?

Change up, really. Just in the bullpen- still working on every pitch, and location. But I'd have to say more on change up.


The ML Phils have some injuries to the pitching staff. If you were to get called into the office, and (manager) Steve Roadcap told you that the big club needs you in Atlanta on Wednesday, how would you feel?

I don't know. I know that I'd be real excited.


Do you think you're ready for a step up, or two...?

If they want me, I'll be ready for it!


If you were to hear your name attached to trade rumors, how might you feel or what might you think?

I really don't know. Just....I'd kinda be just like, "What?!"


Lastly, a non-baseball question. What's your favorite Michael Jackson song?

I really didn't listen to him that much. "Thriller" kind of sticks out.

BallHype: hype it up!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Joe Savery Q&A

Joe Savery, former top draft pick of the Phillies out of Rice University, reigning Eastern League pitcher of the week and current star pitcher for the Reading Phillies, started the rain stopped game in Trenton last night. Savery, who had a 9-1 record and a 3.24 ERA heading into last night's start, was displeased with the umpires' decision to start the game at all, and especially took issue with the umpiring crew's attempt to start the bottom of the 2nd inning, with intense amounts of rain coming down. Moments later, the game was suspended and will be resumed today at 5:05, prior to tonight's regularly scheduled contest. As Savery's encounter with the umpire was ending, Savery threw a baseball over the screen behind the back stop and into the stands.

The following are some of Joe's comments about the incident...

It probably wasn't the brightest idea in the world to do what I did. I shouldn't have done it, but...ya know, you don't get many outings in a year. In a minor league season, you get 27 or 28, I've already had two cut short, and to just to go out there and throw and inning, when I'm going good and I'm having a good June and to have it just cut off like that, when you feel like the information was there to have an idea that (the rain stoppage & game suspension) might happen is frustrating.


What were the umpires saying during the delays and when the rain restarted?

They were encouraging us to get out there. And you could kind of tell, when the inning turned over, and we didn't budge, they kind of had to usher us on the field. They were just trying to encourage us to get going and you could just feel it was going to be a futile effort to go out there and get loose 'cause it was coming.


Any feedback from the coaches about it yet?

(Small chuckle) I'll have to say no comment on that.


Do you expect to hear from the Eastern League on this matter?

You know, I hadn't even thought about it. If they do then...I did it and there's nothing really to argue there, so I'll just accept whatever they have to say and we'll move forward.


How does losing a full outing to rain effect your routine and preparation in between starts?

The hardest part is staying mentally focused, because the rain- you never know what it's gonna do. And you know the stuff you hear from the guys around here is always going to be on the encouraging side of things and so just trying to stay mentally there. I mean pitching is such a...you gotta get locked it and you gotta get focused. Ya know, to have it go back and forth it's the second start in a row, might be the third, that I've had a rain delay of some sort. Mentally, I'm glad I'm getting the work in, but physically it's starting to become frustrating. You just like to show up to the field and pitch your game and go on.


With the Phillies 5th starter Antonio Bastardo getting hurt, how much of your focus, in the back of your mind, might be on getting called up to the big club?

Being very frank, I don't think I have a snowball's chance of getting called up. Ya know, things have been going well, and I've been figuring some things out, but I still think that I've got some room to grow and think that (the higher ups) feel the same way. You never say never, but I'd fall on the floor if that happened right now. That's not something that I'm anticipating at all.


With your success this year, what more do you feel needs to be done to improve?

That's one of those things that I don't know as well as they do. That being the developmental side and the front office folks. They've been doing this a lot longer than I have and I've taken a little heat for the things I said after I got drafted, and I don't think those were necessary, 'cause I believe there's a difference between goals and saying how things are going to be. So I'm not going to take a guess at that. But my goal is to keep improving.


Is there anyone on the coaching staff you'd give credit to for helping you with your success thus far?

The 9-1 part is kind of just a roll of the dice. I've gone with our hitting. Basically the whole year. When we aren't scoring, I seem to hold back the other team long enough till we get a few runs. And when I don't pitch as well, we seem to hit the ball, so I've been able to align with those guys and it's kind of been funny how that's happened. Ya know, the coaching staff...what's hard about pitching is that there's not, most times there's not anything profound to say. It's just something that you have to get. It's like telling someone how to be respectful or be a good friend. It's something you can say things about, but until you understand what's going on and how to be successful there's only so much they can do. But I've been with (pitching coach Steve) Schrenk all of last year and then all of this year, so we've come to understand each other very well and there's a few things we've worked on and we understand what's it's going to take to be successful at this point.


Can I get some comments from you on being named Eastern League pitcher of the week?

Yeah, I kind fell into two wins there. And even though I pitched well, I only pitched 6 innings and 5 innings, so that's just a sign that things are moving in the right direction.


Who was your favorite player or pitcher growing up?

I was a football guy. I was a Brett Favre guy and football was my first love. I didn't really follow pitching a whole lot, pitching just kind of happened. But if there's one guy I follow now, I'd have to say Lance Berkman. He's a Rice guy and I kind of got to know him a little bit.

BallHype: hype it up!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sleep in Bed, Not on the Field


Pedro Feliz fell asleep on the bases last night...again. During a potential Phillies rally in the 6th inning, a mental lapse by Feliz prevented the Phillies from scoring on a fly out to centerfield by Eric Bruntlett. Feliz, was on first base, while Matt Stairs was on third base, forgot there was only one out, got too far off first and was doubled off, on a throw by BJ Upton, before Stairs could score on a sacrfice fly.

Did you notice the part earlier when I mentioned "again"? Yeah, well Feliz pulled this same pile of horse crap in the first game of a double header with the wild card leading Brewers last September. The Phillies won that game, and swept the series, so Feliz's mental slacking never made the impact it would have if it had killed a rally or cost the team a run, like last night. The game on September 14th was a similar enough situation, with Feliz on first base, in the midst of a rally. A routine fly out to Milwaukee right fielder Cory Hart turned into an embarrassing moment for Pedro, who forgot how many outs there were, and had rounded second base, while the outfield assist came in slowly to Prince Fielder at first base, for the double play.

My question is this...who is to blame? Is it 100% Pedro Feliz, or is it first base coach Davey Lopes' mistake also? The first time, perhaps, caught up in a rally, Lopes could forget to mention the number of outs to a runner. However, as a coach, once a player is proven to not be fully invested in a game on the base paths, the coach should absolutely make it a point to not allow that player to fall asleep and forget the outs ever again. Davey Lopes needs to know his runners, and needs to perform his duties as a coach. It is his job to tell the runner the outs, especially phlegmatic third basemen who get doubled off first base by outfielders on a regular basis.

BallHype: hype it up!

Another Series or Whatever....



That first place team that is struggling through every series lately plays in Toronto this weekend. Here is some information about the series if you can stand to read about them....


Friday 7:07pm. Cole Hamels (4-3, 4.24 ERA) vs. Ricky Romero (4-3, 3.59 ERA). Hamels' start was moved up one day, switched with "Jay" Happ. The move will project Hamels to make one more start prior to the 3 day all star break. It will also split up the rookie lefties Bastardo and Happ in the rotation. Cole has a 2.57 ERA in 4 starts this month. In 5 road starts this season, Hamels is 2-1 with a 4.85 ERA. Romero, the Blue Jays' first round draft pick in the 2005 amateur draft, has a 2.86 ERA in 4 starts this month. These pitchers faced each other in the June 16th game at Citizens Bank Park, but neither pitcher figured in the decision.


Saturday, 1:07pm. "Jay" Happ (4-0, 3.47 ERA) vs. Brad Mills (0-0, 9.82 ERA). Happ is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA and a .192 batting avg. against in 8 games on the road this season. Happ's ERA is 4.08 in 6 games as a starter this season. Mills will be making his second Major League appearance.


Sunday, 1:07pm. Jamie Moyer (5-6, 5.97 ERA) vs. Brian Tallet (5-4, 4.36 ERA). Moyer is 14-9 with a 5.37 ERA in 38 career games against Toronto. Alex Rios, Aaron Hill, Marco Scutaro and Vernon Wells are a combined 46-for-114 (.403 avg.) with 7 homers and 19 RBI against Moyer in their careers. Tallet has a 3.86 ERA in 6 career games against the Phillies.


JC Romero has a 5.01 ERA in 22 career games (23 1/3 innings) against the Blue Jays.

Jimmy Rollins, in 15 career games against Toronto, has a .356 avg. (21-for-59), 11 runs scored and a 1.005 OPS.

Matt Stairs is a .291 career hitter at Rogers Centre (125-for-429) with a .908 OPS.

Rod Barajas may want to play the Phillies every day. In 2008 and 2009, Barajas is 8-for-16 (.500 avg) with 4 homers and 10 RBI.
Scott Rolen may feel the same as Rod. Rolen is a .340 career hitter (49-for-144) with 13 doubles and 3 homers in 38 games against the Phillies.

Phillies team ERA- 4.86
Blue Jays team ERA- 4.23

Phillies on the road-24-11
Blue Jays at home- 23-14


BallHype: hype it up!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Letter to White Sox Fans

Dear hopeful homerun handlers,

As we've discussed here on PhoulBallz.com before, closing your eyes when trying to catch homerun balls in flight is not the best way to have success. Two Chicago White Sox fans got in the way of some long balls during Wednesday night's game.

Guy in the above picture,who appears to be Vito from the Sopranos...based on your televised experiences with Johnny Cakes, I truly thought you'd be more comfortable and better composed when balls are flying toward your head.

I feel sorry for you, center guy in white shirt. I am sure that once you fully displayed your scaredy-cat-like homerun volleying, that plus-sized Stone Cold Steve Austin, behind you, laid you out with a Stone Cold Stunner for shaming his section.

Best of luck in your futures, blind ballin' Chicagoans. Tell Jim Thome we send a holler.

Love, PhoulBallz.com

PS- Stay awesome.

BallHype: hype it up!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sell the Ball Park...Phillies Need to Stay on the Road!


After an awful home stand where the Phillies went 1-8, the defending champs bounced back on Tuesday night with a 10-1 victory against the Rays. The win for the Phillies improves their road record to a Major League best 24-9 (.727 winning percentage), while their home record is second worst in the majors (13-22). I'm pretty sure most phans would be in favor of the Phillies relocating some of their home games, going forward.

Despite Jimmy Rollins' 0-5 effort out of the lead off spot, in game 1 of the series in Tampa, he scored a run. Since the Phillies won the game, that improves the team's record to 28-7 (.800 winning percentage) in games that Rollins plays and scores at least one run. In games that Rollins plays and does not score a run, the Phillies are 8-23 (.258 winning percentage). That's surely proof that Rollins is key for the Phillies as a table setter and a leader.

J-Roll's struggles reflect the Phillies' issues at home. His batting average is 44 points higher on the road than it is in Philadelphia. The 2007 NL Most Valuable Player is not playing like his former self, but if he returns to form, the team will benefit greatly. Rollins scored at least one run in 102 games in 2007. If Rollins could get going on that MVP/139 runs scored pace, and the Phils continue to win at the same rate when he scores, they'd easily be looking at another division title.


John Mayberry Jr. hit a big homer in the rout of the Rays. The 3-run blast in the first inning put the Phils up by 6 and allowed them to sail the rest of the way.

Here's your MLB contribution comparison for Mayberry Jr. and the guy he was traded for in the offseason, Greg Golson...


Junior- 7-for-24 (.292 avg), 2 doubles, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 4 runs.
Golson- 0-for-1, 1 K.

Golson is in the Rangers organization and was called up for a cup of coffee in May, but was sent back down. With triple A Oklahoma City, Golson is hitting .277 with 1 homer, 25 RBI and 6 steals.

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The South Atlantic League All Star game was played Tuesday night in West Virginia, and friend of Phoul Ballz Justin De Fratus was the winning pitcher for the Northern Division all stars! After giving up the tying run on a homer in the top of the 9th inning, De Fratus got the win when the North team scored the walk-off victory following two singles and a throwing error by the South team.

More of your BlueClaws contributed to the win. Professional baseball's steals leader, Anthony Gose, stole two bags, had two hits and scored twice. Travis D'Arnaud, who played on the North team with his brother, West Virginia short stop Chase D'Arnaud, had a hit in one at bat. Tyler Cloyd pitched a scoreless inning and struck out 2. Second baseman Harold Garcia was hitless in 2 at bats. Reliever BJ Rosenberg did not pitch.

Lakewood manager Dusty Wathan was the manager for the victorious North Division team.

BallHype: hype it up!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's the Rematch

The Phillies continue interleague play tonight when they visit the Rays for the first time since the 2008 World Series. Tampa has won 10 of 15 games all time in this interleague rivalry. Take a look below for pitching match ups and other key notes.


Tuesday, 7:08pm. Jamie Moyer (4-6, 6.35 ERA) vs. David Price (1-1, 3.46 ERA). In his career against the Rays, Moyer is 8-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 15 starts. Moyer has thrown 6 innings, or better, in 7 consecutive starts. His ERA in those 7 games is 4.62. Carlos Pena is 10-for-20 in his career against Moyer with 2 homers and 6 RBI. Price was the 1st overall pick in the 2007 amateur draft. Price closed out Tampa's game 2 win over the Phillies, in the World Series last year. Price, at 23 years old, is half of Jamie Moyer's age.


Wednesday, 7:08pm. Joe Blanton (4-3, 5.28 ERA) vs. Matt Garza (4-5, 3.83 ERA). Blanton has a 2-3 record and 6.05 ERA in 8 career starts against the Rays. Blanton is 3-0 with a 4.04 ERA in his last 7 starts. Jason Bartlett, Pat Burrell and Dioner Navarro are a combined 4-for-26 (.153 avg) against Blanton in their careers. Garza at home this season is 3-2 with a 3.52 ERA and .219 batting avg against in 8 starts. In his last 6 starts, Garza is 0-3 with a 3.82 ERA.


Thursday, 7:08pm. Antonio Bastardo (2-2, 5.21 ERA) vs. Andy Sonnanstine (5-7, 6.60 ERA). Bastardo will be making his 5 career Major League start. Aside from his rain shortened rough outing against the Red Sox, Bastardo's ERA is 3.50. In 3 games against the NL east (1 game each against the Mets, Marlins and Nationals) this season, Sonnanstine is 2-1 with a 3.72 ERA. Sonnanstine is 4-0 with a 4.15 ERA at home this year.


Shane Victorino over the past week is hitting .526 (10-for-19) with 3 runs scored.

BJ Upton over the past week is hitting .429 (12-for-28) with 2 homers, 9 RBI and 6 runs scored.

In 17 career games against the Rays, JC Romero is 1-1 with a 2.66 ERA and a .211 batting avg against over 20 1/3 innings pitched.

Ryan Howard is expected to rejoin the team for this series, after being hospitalized twice over the weekend with acute sinusitis and a fever of nearly 104.

Team batting average, Phillies- .259
Team batting average, Rays- .275

Tampa record at home- 21-12
Philadelphia record on the road- 23-9


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Trivia Ticket Tuesday!

Folks, PhoulBallz.com would like to invite you to answer the following trivia question and get entered in a drawing to win 2 tickets to see the Reading Phillies visit the Trenton Thunder.

Aside from any current Phillies, who was the last Phillie to have at least 200 hits in a single season?


Send your answers to PhoulBallz@verizon.net, and please include your name.

Feel free to submit your answer to prove your skills and be considered for a yet to be determined runner up prize, even if you can't make the game. The game is on Monday, June 29th with a scheduled start time of 12:05pm. Two winners will be selected at random from eligible correct replies. The tickets, brought to you by Millennium Radio and PhoulBallz.com, will be available for pick up at will call.

The Reading Phillies start a four game series in Trenton this Friday, with 7:05pm games Friday and Saturday, a 6:05pm start time on Sunday, then the 12:05pm start time for the get away game on Monday. Click here for tickets.


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Clay Condrey will reportedly be placed on the 15 day disabled list, with Sergio Escalona being recalled.


The Mets continue to fall apart also, as Carlos Beltran is the latest Metropolitan to be placed on the DL.


The new Fox Sports 1310am forum is up and running! Please check it out to discuss all sports and more, with the likes of The Shore Sports Report's Joe and Mike, as well your favorite Phoul Ballz guy.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday School: History Lesson 20

Roy Allen Thomas was a left handed hitting outfielder for our Phillies from 1899-1908 and again from 1910-1911. Thomas was an exceptionally talented contact hitter, who batted .325 in his rookie season and drew an amazing 115 walks. In his second season, Roy hit .316 and led the National League in runs scored with 134.

Roy, over time, had perfected his ability to foul off pitch after pitch in an effort to draw walks. Some news accounts from his playing days report that he once fouled off 27 consecutive pitches, although, records show 22 as the more accurate total. In 1901, National League President William Hulbert grew so tired of watching Thomas frustrate pitchers with fouls, that he convinced the rules committee to institute a new two-strike rule, as related to foul balls. Prior to that time, fouls did not count as strikes unless the catcher caught the ball. The new rule, however, did very little to keep Roy Thomas off base. He went on to lead the NL in walks in 6 of the following 7 seasons. The American League would also adopt the new rule, but not till two seasons later.

Also a top notch fielder, Thomas, led all NL centerfielders in fielding percentage five times and twice led the league in put outs.

The Phils released Thomas early in the 1908 season. He would sign with the Pirates that year and finish the season with a .251 average in 108 games played. He signed with Boston and played in 82 games in 1909, then returned to the Phillies in a part-time role for the 1910 and 1911 seasons. He finished his playing career with a .290 average and .413 on-base percentage. In 1909, Thomas began coaching his alma mater University of Pennsyvania baseball team and continued to coach there while playing professional baseball. Thomas would coach U Penn for a full decade before managing briefly in the minor leagues.

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Phillies Farm Teams Among Best Selling Jerseys

MLB released a list of 2009's ten best selling Minor League Baseball jerseys this week. Information is as of mid-May, teams listed alphabetically, exact sales figures were unavailable...

Corpus Christi Hooks
Durham Bulls
Lakewood BlueClaws
Lansing Lugnuts
Lehigh Valley IronPigs

Midland Rockhounds
Pawtucket Red Sox
Round Rock Express
Toledo Mudhens
Trenton Thunder


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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Home Stank Home

The Phillies are in the midst a big interleague homestand. Three series featuring the AL Eastern division. So far on the homestand, the World Champions are 1-6, with two games left to play against the Orioles. The Phillies have won only 5 of their last 20 games at home that weren't against the Nationals. The Phils have only won back to back games against non-Nationals opponents ONE TIME (April 19th against the Padres and April 21st against the Brewers).

The Phillies' lead off batter, Jimmy Rollins, who nearly reached 90 straight plate appearances without a walk recently, is batting just .201 at home.

This home field disadvantage really just hurts my brain. I don't wanna talk about it anymore.





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Friday, June 19, 2009

Pitchers Speak on Moyer

This week's edition of The Sporting News has a feature where Bill Eichenberger asks various Phillies pitchers about Jamie Moyer and any lessons he may have taught them. Here are some excerpts.


Joe Blanton on focus: "...He's taught me about the mental part of the game. He's spectacular at that, the best I've ever been around. He has a plan, but at the same time he is smart enough to adjust when he needs to adjust."

Mmm-hmm. Moyer adjusts. It's pretty evident by his 6.35 ERA that, once the runs start, Moyer is able to change his approach and shut the opposition down.


Ryan Madson on longevity: "I've watched after he pitches how he takes care of his arm and his body. Just from a maintenance standpoint, I know from watching him how important that is to keep me in the game."

Yeah, Mad dog...plus, you gotta keep that arm in shape for carrying those heavy purses of yours.


"Jay" Happ on composure: "Just his mound presence is a big thing. He has a lot of confidence and is able to hold his emotions in check."

I could keep my emotions over a poor outing in check too, if I knew I was making millions of dollars to be less than mediocre.


Cole Hamels on perspective: "Jamie has helped me out a lot by giving me a different way to look at certain outcomes. Take a game where you might throw a shutout. It might look good on paper, but there might have been a couple of things that you did wrong, and you have to pay attention to every little detail because sometimes you can better yourself that way."

Great! The declining veteran is telling the World Series MVP that pitching a shut out isn't good enough. Thanks, Moyer. That sure sounds like a big help coming from the guy who has one win since April 26th.


Chad Durbin on mechanics: "He'll see that mechanically something is just a little off; maybe you are trying too hard..." "You could call him a player-coach."

I'd rather call him retired.

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This Kid Rules!!!

It's true. I want to adopt him, or be his best friend or something.


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Thursday, June 18, 2009

My Neighbors Still Be Talkin'

Phillies links for you today...

Rauuuul Ibanez placed on the DL....Mayberry Jr. recalled. Read about it here and here.

PhilliesFlow takes a look at some differences between how the team performs at home versus how they perform on the road.

The Shibe Times has a look at the new Harry Kalas book by Rich Wolfe.

We Should Be GM's has a comparison between Jamie Moyer and Adam Eaton.

Homeside News has a couple recent pictures of BlueClaws bubble gum pranks.

Long Drive: A Phillies Blog is not fond of Canada right now.

The Lakewood BlueClaws are hosting a blood drive on July 11th. Click here for details.

Lastly, check out my virtual lemonade stand and help raise money for ovarian cancer research by purchasing a virtual glass of lemonade or by opening your own stand. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Ain't Hatin', I'm Just Statin'

As names from the supposedly confidential 2003 MLB drug tests continue to leak out, players continue to test positive and get suspended, and even huge stars in major markets are made examples of, maybe all the hype last week over how bust-out players will be inevitably suspected of cheating was misdirected. MLB's drug policies are in place and are being properly enforced. While fans, writers and people in between mostly seem to feel like the sport became tainted in the steroid era and, as a result, become suspicious of players who excel, perhaps it's time to trust. Trust the players who have not been exposed as cheaters...and trust the sport, that you love, to prevent cheaters from wrecking the game.


Instead of speculating about the guys on top of their games these days, while Major League Baseball is enforcing their anti-drug policies, perhaps we should be taking a look at guys who have fallen off since MLB has been testing strictly in recent years.


How about former American League homerun champ David Ortiz? In his first 5 seasons playing for Boston, Ortiz hit 208 total homeruns and batted over .300 three times. This season Ortiz is batting .210 with just 5 homeruns.


Andruw Jones led the National League in homeruns in 2005 with 51, then followed that season up with 41 in 2006. Since then, Andruw has 36 total homers in 262 games played.


And what about Indians masher Travis Hafner? The man they call "Pronk" topped 100 RBI four straight seasons, and hit a combined 127 homers during those years. In the two seasons since then, he's hit a combined 11 homeruns, while suffering with injuries.


I ain't hatin'...I'm just statin'. Look, there are no fingers being pointed here. I'm simply saying that if someone is going to point fingers, it might make more sense to point at guys that have fallen off in the testing-for-sterioids era.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This is News...

In our very first edition of This is News, PhoulBallz brings you an update on suspended slugger Manny Ramirez's health. Check it out, and pass it along to all your friends.Thanks, Associated Press, for letting the world know that a cheating ball player, who isn't allowed to play right now, has a cold. Praise you for getting important information to the public.


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Series Preview: Blue Jays at Phillies

Interleague play continues this week in Philadelphia, as the Toronto Blue Jays come to town, to visit the first place Phillies. The slipping Blue Jays are 0-6 in interleague play so far this season. Toronto began the season with the American League's best record at 27-14 on May 18th, but since then, their record is the worst in the league at 7-17. The Phillies have 15 more runs scored than the Blue Jays this season, despite having 71 less hits. Below, check out the pitching match ups and more notes about this 3 game series.


Tuesday, 7:05pm. Ricky Romero (3-3, 3.71 ERA) vs. Cole Hamels (4-2, 4.62 ERA). Romero, the Blue Jays' first round draft pick in 2005, on the road this season is 0-2 with a 3.66 ERA. Cole has not lost a decision since April 28th. Cole against American League teams in 2008, including the post season, was 3-1 with a 3.44 ERA in 5 starts.

Wednesday, 7:05pm. Scott Richmond (4-3, 3.90 ERA) vs. Jamie Moyer (4-5, 6.11 ERA). In 7 games since May 3rd, Richmond is 0-3 with a 5.06 ERA. In 5 road starts this year, Richmond is 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA and .230 batting average against. In his last 8 starts, Moyer is 1-4 with a 6.65 ERA. In his career against Toronto, Moyer is 14-8 with a 5.27 ERA in 37 games. Marco Scutaro is 11-for-29 (.379 avg) in his career against Moyer with 3 homeruns and 6 RBI.

Thursday, 1:05pm. Casey Janssen (2-3, 6.23 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (4-3, 5.17 ERA). Janssen has faced the Phillies three times...in those 3 games, he is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 8 innings pitched. In 2 road starts, Janssen is 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA. Blanton has made 7 career starts against Toronto. In those games, he is 4-2 with a 3.12 ERA and .220 batting avg. against. Over his last 4 starts, Blanton is 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA. lue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill is 1-for-12 (.083 avg) in his career against Blanton. Opponents are hitting .293 against Blanton in 6 home starts this season.


Scott Rolen in his career against the Phillies is a .331 hitter in 35 games with 2 homers and 22 RBI.

Jimmy Rollins is a career .348 hitter (16-for-46) against Toronto with a .951 OPS in 12 games played.

Pedro Feliz over the past week- 10-for-25 (.400 avg), 1 HR, 6 RBI, 5 runs.

Blue Jays on the road- 13 wins, 18 losses.
Phillies at home- 13 wins, 16 losses.

Blue Jays all time interleague win-loss record- 101-116
Phillies all time interleague win-loss record- 93-112.

Blue Jays team ERA- 4.30.
Phillies team ERA- 4.66.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Who's Next?

With a steady mix of new pitchers rotating through the Phillies' club house recently, one can only wonder, "who is next?" Pitchers like Sergio Escalona, Tyler Walker, Kyle Kendrick, Antonio Bastardo and Andrew Carpenter have all made visits to the big league roster this season as call ups and fill-ins. One name that most phans are familiar with and likely expected to see in a Phillies uniform sooner than later is Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco, however, has been a considerable disappointment at the triple A level, going 1-7 with a 5.56 ERA, over 12 starts this season for Lehigh Valley. A name that could soon surpass Carrasco on the Phils' prospect list is lefty Joe Savery. Savery, a former top draft pick of the Phillies out of Rice University, is quickly mowing through double A opposition. He won his 8th game today for the Reading Phillies and lowered his ERA to 3.47. Savery has lost just one game in his 13 starts.


Phillies phans who don't live close enough to make the trip to Reading to see Philadelphia's budding talent might be interested to know that, as of know, the Reading rotation should have Joe Savery starting game 1 of a 4 game set in Trenton, against the Yankees affiliate Thunder, on Friday, June 26th. That projected pitching schedule is, of course, barring rain outs and other unforeseeable changes.

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Your current Jimmy Rollins should be moved down in the order statistical update-

Rollins batting 1st in the batting order this season- 53 games, .200 avg. (49-for-245), 2 HR, 19 RBI, 31 runs scored, .236 OBP.
Rollins batting everywhere else in the batting order this season- 7 games, .409 avg. (9-for-22), 3 HR, 6 RBI, 6 runs scored, .458 OBP.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday School: History Lesson 19

Granville "Granny" Hamner was an all star short stop who played for the Phillies from 1944-1959. Granny was signed by the Phillies when he was 17 years old to play second base. His strong arm and solid range later got him moved to short stop. The following season, Granny's brother Garvin signed with the Phillies, and they began the 1945 season as the team's double play combination.


Early on, Granny did not prove a match for Major League pitching. He hit just .171 in 14 games as an 18 year old before he was sent down to the minors to gain more experience. By age 21, in 1948, Granny was back with the big league club to stay. That season, brother Garvin batted .198 in 32 games and was sent down. He never returned to the majors again.


During Granny's career he displayed above average power for a middle infielder. He had four seasons with more than 30 doubles and hit a career high 21 homeruns in 1953. He was also a proficient clutch hitter and had four seasons with more than 80 RBI.


A durable player, Granny played in 477 consecutive games between 1949 and 1951. He batted .429 (6-for-14) in the 1950 World Series loss to the Yankees. Granny finished 6th in league MVP voting that year.


Granny suffered a knee injury in 1958 and missed much of the season.. The following year, he was traded to Cleveland and was released by the Indians after the season. He attempted a comeback, as a pitcher, in 1962 with the Athletics, but gave up 6 walks and 10 hits over four innings of work and called it a career.


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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dusty Wathan Q&A Part 2

PhoulBallz.com spoke with Lakewood BlueClaws manager Dusty Wathan once again this week.


Dusty, South Atlantic League All Stars were announced this week, and you'll be the manager of your division's team. Can I get some comments from you on how excited you are to be managing the team and maybe what it took to make some of the roster selections (Lakewood has 6 players on the team)?

Well, for me personally to be picked by the other managers, coaches and front office people is a nice honor to have. It's all about the players though, and being in first place and them winning games. So, it's because of them that I'm going. We got six in and it's well deserved by all of them.


Was there anyone who got snubbed from the team that you were reluctant about?

Well, I mean there's always somebody. You only have so many spots whether it's the big leagues or A ball. There's always somebody that's gonna get missed or overlooked. And I think (Jim) Murphy was a little bit overlooked, but the first base position is always a tough spot. The two guys who are going are well deserved and you always wish that you could have one more guy be able to go.


Is there anything you've seen with the team that needs improvement for the rest of the season going forward?

I just think we need to continue executing offensively. When we do execute, we win ballgames. When we don't, we have a tendency to lose. And we don't have a lot of power, we have to execute fundamental baseball...move runners over, hit and run, and get the signs and pitch well. And we've done that for the most part all year and there's been a few games here and there where we haven't, but that's A ball, but they're getting better every day and that's nice to see.


What's the conversation like with a player that is going to see his playing time decreased or when his role on the team is going to change dramatically?

I don't think there's much of a conversation. If you hit, you play. That's basically baseball.


So, the lineup will speak for itself?

Yeah, if you're doing well, some how, some way, you're going to find yourself in the lineup. Whether you're the top prospect here, or the guy that's the 25th man. I mean for the most part, obviously certain guys have to play, and that's the way the minor leagues (are). Then you have those guys in the middle who have had their chance to play and when it's their time, hopefully they can take advantage of it. But, ya know, you have somebody else coming, pushing you all the time and you don't see many .300 hitters sitting on the bench at any level.


What's the vibe like with the team away from home on the road?

They have a good time. Most of them have been to college and know what it's like to go on road trips. It's not much different. They all get along, and you're gonna have guys get into spats or arguments, when you put 25 guys together, just like when you have two brothers fighting, you're gonna have disagreements in the club house. But for the most part they haven't. They get along real well and joke around a lot with each other, so that's always nice to see.


I wanted to ask you about your dad (former ML player and manager, John Wathan) and how being able to grow up around him has been advantageous to your career...

Yeah, for sure. I mean, being around the ballpark growing up has helped me a lot. I think I paid attention, asked a lot of questions when I was younger. And to have someone to bounce questions off of growing up and even now is a huge advantage. Any time you go into the same profession as your father, whether it be a plumber or a baseball player...to have a mentor and somebody there to bounce questions off of, I think you can have an advantage over everybody else a little bit.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Rays' Revenge?

Well, the Phillies beat them in the World Series. They fired back in the off-season by signing our free agent left fielder Pat Burrell. Pat has not performed well offensively for Tampa, due to an injury. Next step for the Rays to get back at the champs?...Act on a rarely used clause, in an agreement between Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball, that allows a Major League club to prohibit promotions by a minor league team within 60 miles of their home. Friday's bobble head give away by Phillies single A affiliate in Clearwater, FL was slated to be the third in a series of figures from the World Championship lineup of the 2008 Phillies. The Rays have nixed tonight's Burrell bobble, as well as any future World Champs bobble figure promotions.



PhuturePhillies.com has the full low down. The Clearwater Threshers are forced to apologize to their fans. Some Tampa paper has an article about it and apparently the Rays employ someone named Rick Vaughn. Rest easy, Phils phans...as my buddy Mikey B points out, our team has these, the Rays never will.

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Weekend Series Preview: Boston at Philadelphia

Interleague play returns in a meeting of the current Eastern Division leaders from both leagues and the last two World Series champs. The Red Sox are coming to Philadelphia. Pitching match ups and more notes follow...


Friday, 7:05pm. Jon Lester (5-5, 5.09 ERA) vs. Joe Blanton (4-3, 5.46 ERA). Lester on the road this season- 6 starts, 2-3 record, 6.14 ERA. Pedro Feliz, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez are a combined 7-for-12 (.583 avg.) in their careers against Lester. Blanton is 2-0 with a 1.80 ERA in his last 3 starts, after going 2-3 with a 7.11 ERA over his first 8 starts this season. Blanton, in his career, is 3-2 with a 3.75 ERA in 8 starts against Boston.

Saturday, 7:05pm. Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-4, 7.33 ERA) vs. Antonio Bastardo (2-0, 2.45 ERA). "Dice-K" has not pitched more than 5 2/3 innings in any outing this season. Matsuzaka has never faced the Phillies in the regular season. Raul Ibanez is 2-for-11 (.182 avg) with 3 RBI in his career against Matsuzaka. Matt Stairs is 4-for-7 against Matsuzaka in his career. Bastardo, the 23 year old, will be making his third career MLB start. Bastardo's WHIP is 1.18.

Sunday, 1:35pm. Josh Beckett (7-2, 3.77 ERA) vs. "Jay" Happ (4-0, 2.98 ERA). Beckett, in 18 career games, is 8-3 with a 3.67 ERA against the Phillies. His career ERA in Philadelphia is 4.11, in 35 innings pitched. Pedro Feliz is 4-for-9 with 2 doubles and a HR against Beckett in his career. In his last 4 starts, Beckett's ERA is 0.31. Happ will be making his 10th career ML start. Happ's ERA as a starter this year is 3.42 in 4 games. In 8 home games this year, Happ's ERA is 4.32, but he's held opponents to a .200 average against.


Jimmy Rollins in 21 career games against the Red Sox, has 4 homers, 18 RBI, a .337 batting average and a .982 OPS.

Ryan Madson has a career 8.31 ERA in his career (5 games, 8 2/3 innings, 8 earned runs) against the Red Sox.

Mike Lowell has hit more homeruns in his career against the Phillies (26), than he has against any other team. His next closest team total is 16 against the Rays. Lowell is also a career .333 hitter (17-for-78) with a 1.091 OPS in 21 games at Citizens Bank Park.

Boston team runs scored- 317
Phillies team runs scored- 318

Boston team ERA- 4.19
Phillies team ERA- 4.60

Boston on the road- 15-16
Phillies at home- 12-14
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Programming reminder- MLB Network premieres their original program The Pen this Sunday night at 8pm. It features an exclusive inside look at the Phillies' relief pitchers on and off the field. Fomer Phillie Mitch Williams is set to narrate the 6 episode season. Click here for more details.

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