Monday, March 27, 2006

The Weekend

Phillies go 1-2 on the weekend after splitting back to back games with the Pittsburgh Pirates and losing to the Boston Red Sox on Sunday. The Phillies spring training record now stands at 15-9-1 (damn that tie!). Now, for a closer look at the weekend that was...

Chris Coste stole the show yet again (feels like I’m either talking about him or Ryan Howard every single day) with a two-out, two-run double in the seventh inning to knock in the eventual game winning run of a 5-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The RBI double for Coste came in his only at bat of the night. Mike Lieberthal contributed to the winning cause with two hits and Aaron Rowand did him one better by coming through with a 3-3 ballgame (including a double and a homer). Chris Coste wasn’t the only man vying for a bench job who saw time on Friday - Tomas Perez went 0-2 with a strikeout and an error in the field while Chris Roberson walked and scored a run in his only plate appearance. Phillies infield prospect Tim Moss struck out in his only at bat.

Eude Brito struggled in his first start of the spring giving up 3 earned runs on 5 hits in just 2 innings of work. The bullpen did the job the rest of the way however – Ricardo Rodriguez, the player I believe the Phillies wanted to win that last bullpen spot from the very beginning, probably gave the Phils the outing they wanted to see so that they could make their dreams of seeing Rodriguez pitching for the big club in April a reality. Now they don’t have to spin Rodriguez’ inclusion on the 25-man roster quite as much as they would have had he struggled. Good for them…I guess. I remain skeptical to say the least. Geoff Geary and Arthur Rhodes both delivered strong performances typical of their many previous outings this spring. Tom Gordon got his first save as a Phillie with a perfect ninth inning (2 strikeouts to boot). All in all, a good win and better effort by the home team.

Two big stories (big is relative I guess, but they are big to me) from the Phillies 8-3 loss to the Pirates on Saturday. First off, Brett Myers was excellent. Even though he took the loss, he still managed to get six strong innings of work in with a whopping nine strikeouts and no walks allowed. Robinson Tejeda, the pitcher who followed Myers, was not as sharp – he gave up three earned runs in just 1.2 innings pitched while walking 3 batters. Anyway, Tejeda was not story number two…Tomas Perez, unfortunately for any Tomas fans out there, was. Perez started at third and went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts. His spring batting average is now down to .160. Spring stats may not tell the whole story, but you gotta believe management is watching all of the candidates for that remaining bench spot very, very closely.

And finally, the last game of the weekend wrap up…Phillies go down to Josh Beckett and the Boston Red Sox by a score of 3-2. I watched this game the closest of the three (didn’t catch the Friday night game and saw only the first few innings of the Saturday game), so I actually have some notes I took while watching the game live:

  • Jimmy Rollins made an excellent play in the fifth inning on a ball hit to the hole in short. He ranged to his right to make a backhanded play on a shorthop…unfortunately, the ball sailed a bit high and wide on his throw to Ryan Howard and the big guy was pulled just about a foot or so off the bag. Great stop by Rollins nonetheless.
  • Speaking of Rollins, his first three at bats really piqued my interest; they were, in a roundabout way, sort of a microcosm of what he is all about. There was the bad JRoll in his first at bat – he swung at a pitch early in the count and wound up popping out. There was the good JRoll in his second at bat – he saw a pitch he could handle and went after it, lacing an RBI single through the infield. Finally, there was the perfect world, why can’t our leadoff hitter learn to work a count and understand the importance of seeing good pitches every time up and at least try to go to the plate with a plan of attack and…well you get the point. But that's the JRoll that I want to see...we got a glimpse of that in this one at bat. Rollins got into an 0-2 hole against Beckett (who was cruising at this point), but battled back by taking a couple of very close pitches and eventually draw a walk. The Sox announcers on NESN went on and on about Rollins leaving the box before an 0-2 pitch and completely screwing with Beckett’s rhythm – he was clearly flustered on the mound for the rest of the at bat. Great work by the NESN crew to point all of this out by the way. Then, on a first ball curveball to Aaron Rowand, Rollins took off for second and stole the bag with ease. It was a thing of beauty.
  • Aaron Fultz did a very nice job today. He came into the game with men on first and third in the fifth and proceeded to make very quick work of Kevin Youkilis to get a strikeout to end the inning.
  • Chris Coste had a double and run scored in three at bats...Beckett struck him out on a 1-2 breaking ball - looked like a nice, sharp curveball that tied up Coste
  • Phillies 3B prospect Mike Costanzo got a little playing time today with a pinch hit appearing in the fifth. He struck out looking at a wonderful two-seam fastball by Beckett that beautifully tailed right back over the inside part of the plate. Don’t think Costanzo saw pitching quite like that at Coastal Carolina, eh Mikey?
  • Good gun by Dustan Mohr to nail Rollins at plate in 5th…he comes to the plate the very next inning and looks very bad striking out against Rheal Cormier…I thought he was supposed to kill lefties? His open tryout for the Phils went pretty well on the whole…I’d rather see Coste or Roberson win a job, but if the Phillies made a move for Mohr, I can't say I would be all that upset…
  • Cormier had a very nice day with a 1-2-3 inning in his only frame…
  • 3-0 greenlight for Burrell with 2 outs and Utley on third in 6th – laced an RBI single…I love 3-0 greenlights and almost always advocate taking the chance
  • Nunez follows the Burrell at bat by helping out a tiring Beckett by swinging at the first ball and popping up to end the inning. I expect more from a “proven veteran…”
The following are my AIM comments (to a friend that wasn't watching) describing the Ryan Howard/Josh Beckett shouting match prior to the start of the seventh inning...

rfo21 (3:05:01 PM): Howard hit what would have been a homerun, but the wind knocked it down (not just saying that as the Phillies homer that I am, the NESN announcers said the same thing repeatedly)
rfo21 (3:05:24 PM): i think Beckett just didn't like the way Howard got out of the box so he started yelling at him
rfo21 (3:05:53 PM): but then things cooled off until in between innings as Howard went out to his position at first
rfo21 (3:06:18 PM): and then it was just him and Beckett (in the dugout at this point) just yelling back and forth
rfo21 (3:06:33 PM): Phillies bench came out, umpires stood in the way of Howard and Beckett from going at it

There is much debate over this whole thing. The ESPN game story detailing it is here. If you have MLB.TV and want to see the incident for yourself, I suggest getting it queued up to 2:25:55. That ought to give you a chance to determine whether Howard was merely looking for the ball or posing. I don’t care much either way – whether it makes me a dumb Philly fan or not, I just like seeing big Ryan Howard getting pissed off and showing a little fire.

  • Chris Booker in for the Phils, trying to rebound from his shaky first performance I’m sure…he gives up a double to Adam Stern…other than that though, he looked pretty impressive. The bullpen has had a very nice weekend.
  • Tomas Perez lets his fans down yet again in the seventh…he chases ball 4 for strike 2, then swings at a fastball at his eyes to strike out…its like he just can’t be happy and enjoy the benefits of a 3-1 count that other hitters seem to…
  • Great speed by Victorino and great popup slide on a baserunning play late in the game…his speed is definitely an underrated part of his game, the guy is quick…
  • How do you repeatedly call him "Chris Robinson" when they flash a "Chris Roberson" graphic right on the screen? All you have to do is read right off of your monitor!
  • Eude Brito – 2 very quick popups, but a battle with lefty mashing Wily Mo Pena looms ahead…this should be a good test for Eude – swing and miss (low and away) for strike one, ball one, another swing and miss for strike two, ball two up and in, broken bat pop up to short right…getting two swings and misses for Brito against Pena is impressive, although Pena does have a bit of a contact problem…Brito gets knocked for having less than spectacular stuff, but you need something decent to do what he just did (small sample size, I know I know…)
  • The NESN guys, who have done such a lovely job today (honest), keep botching names. That is my only beef with them, but it is slowly driving me insane. It’s the play by play doing the majority of the fumbling, not the usual culprit, the color man. Come on NESN…Sam Fasano??? Do your homework!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The play by play man also called Mike Costanzo, "Costanza", stating that he was no relation to George Costanza.

8:48 AM  
Blogger XXX said...

Wow, I'm really glad I didn't hear that...there is no telling what I would have done, but, rest assured, it would not have been pretty. Good catch.

6:28 PM  

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