Posted on: October 29, 2011 3:38 am
ST. LOUIS -- The cute little girl leaned into the microphone and spoke.
"I love my dad," Ava Carpenter, 6, said.
Not long after, her pop, the Cardinals ace who earned the win in Game 7 of the 2011 World Series, chuckled.
"Yeah, but she's got a crush on David Freese," Chris Carpenter said.
On a noisy Friday night in St. Louis after the Cardinals won their 11th World Series title in franchise history, who didn't? Freese, the Series MVP who batted .348 with a homer and seven RBI, emerged into an overnight sensation.
But crushes come and go.
Everyone knows true love lasts forever.
While Freese is on the launching pad toward potential great things ahead, Ava Carpenter's dad already is there. The Cardinals now have played in three World Series during his time here, winning two. He's so thrilled to be here, he signed an extension in mid-September that will keep him in the St. Louis rotation through 2013.
And to that, add this: Carpenter is the first pitcher ever to win two elimination games in one postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Before winning Game 7 of the World Series on Friday, he beat Philadelphia's Roy Halladay 1-0 in Game 5 of the Division Series.
Carpenter says these Cardinals are the best group of guys with whom he's ever played. And Friday, he gave them something to remember him by.
Working on three days' rest for only the second time in his career, Carpenter immediately spotted the Rangers two runs in the first inning when Josh Hamilton and Michael Young boomed back-to-back doubles.
But after that ... he threw five shutout innings during which he surrendered only two hits against a potent Texas lineup.
Carpenter said he felt "pretty good" in the first inning. He liked the pitch to Hamilton that turned into a double, but he left a pitch up to Young that became the inning's other double.
"Coming back out for the second, I didn't know how long they were going to let me go," Carpenter said. "So I was just trying to do everything I can to get one out at a time. If it was for two innings, one inning, three innings, four innings ... I had no idea. And nobody said anything to me about it.
"So I just continued to go out and try to make pitches, and as the game went on, I felt stronger. My stuff got better, my command got better and I was able to make some really good pitches when I had to."
Turned out, it was more than enough.
And after the debacle of Game 2 in Philadelphia during the Division Series when he allowed four runs and five hits in three innings while starting on short rest for the first time in his career, there probably won't be many more skeptics if and when he is asked to do it again.
"These guys, again, never gave up," Carpenter said, raving about his teammates, and who else does he think takes the lead in that department?
"This team is unbelievable," Carpenter said. "Most amazing team I've ever been a part of."
Posted on: August 9, 2011 2:47 pm
LOS ANGELES -- All credit to the all-world Phillies rotation. With Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels leading the way, it is pitching for a place in history.
And we've all seen the damage wreaked by a highly decorated lineup led by Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.
But you don't compile baseball's best record based behind just eight or nine players. And as such, the Phillies are getting plenty of help from these easily overlooked parts in their machine:
-- Reliever Antonio Bastardo: With closer Brad Lidge on the shelf for most of the season, Bastardo has played a key, late-innings role and currently is holding opponents to a .128 batting average -- second lowest among NL relievers. His 1.49 ERA is fifth-lowest among NL relievers.
-- Starter Vance Worley: With Joe Blanton done for the year, Worley is 8-1 with a 2.35 ERA and currently has won six consecutive decisions. He's fanned 66 hitters against only 28 walks in 84 1/3 innings.
-- Infielder Michael Martinez: With third baseman Placido Polanco hurt again, it is Martinez, plucked from the Nationals as a Rule V pick last winter, who is providing steady relief. Martinez's 15 RBI during the month of July ranked third among all NL rookies, behind Atlanta's Freddie Freeman (18) and the Padres' Jesus Guzman (18).
-- Outfielder John Mayberry Jr.: Acquired from Texas in a trade in November, 2008, Mayberry, 27, continues to develop into a serviceable backup outfielder with an intriguing future. Of his past 23 hits, 17 have gone for extra bases (and overall, 52.5 percent of his major league hits, 31 of 59, have been for extra bases).
-- Infielder Wilson Valdez: He's plugged in at second base, third base and shortstop at various times this season and, in an extra-innings pinch against the Reds on May 25, became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1921 to start a game in the field and then become the winning pitcher. Though light-hitting overall, Valdez is batting .390 with runners in scoring position this season.
Shane Victorino, twice a Rule V pick himself (the Phillies took him from the Padres in 2004 after the Padres took him from the Dodgers in 2002), raves about Martinez and the "energy" he brings.
"Little pieces," Victorino says. "It always takes 25 guys. Somebody gets hurt, somebody else steps in."
Recalling when the Phillies signed pitcher Pedro Martinez for the stretch run in '09, Victorino said he was extremely wary of Martinez because of the reputation the pitcher brought as a fiery headhunter. But Martinez went 5-1 for Philadelphia in nine starts, pitched the Phillies into position to beat the Dodgers in a key NLCS game and Victorino now calls Martinez "the greatest teammate I've ever had."
"Here, it's all about winning, and winning right now," Victorino says. "If you don't care about winning, don't show up.
"We have so many superstars in here -- MVPs, Cy Young winners, All-Stars, Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers. But Martinez is no different from me because it's all about winning."
That's the way it is throughout the Phillies' clubhouse right now, an impressive culture that is steamrolling everything in its path.
Likes: With the trade deadline having passed and at least a little more free time in August, looking forward to a big date night with my wife to see Crazy, Stupid Love sometime soon. ... Lots of TV to catch up on as well: Last couple episodes of Treme, last five episodes of Friday Night Lights (that's only with trepidation, though, because it's the last season and while I can't wait to see the last few FNLs, I don't want to get through them because then one of my favorite shows in recent memory will be done, sniff, sniff) and the first few episodes of Entourage. ... Haven't gotten all the way through it yet, but I'm liking Sky Full of Holes, the new Fountains of Wayne disc.
Dislikes: I realize there are plenty of parents out there who disagree with me, but man I hate to see summer dwindle down to its last few weeks before school starts again. Summer is never, ever long enough.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Then she wakes me with coffee
"And kisses my head
"And she starts to explain
"About something she's read
"I say, 'Darlin', you haven't heard a word that I've said'
"And I love that girl."
-- John Hiatt, I Love That Girl
Tags: Antonio Bastardo, Babe Ruth, Chase Utley, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Fountains of Wayne, Friday Night Lights, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Blanton, John Hiatt, John Mayberry Jr., Michael Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Philadelphia Phillies, Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Vance Worley, Vance Worley, WIlson Valdez
Posted on: August 8, 2011 10:41 pm
Edited on: August 9, 2011 12:54 pm
LOS ANGELES -- Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorino declined Monday to address his three-game suspension for his role in Friday night's brawl in San Francisco.
But he was happy to discuss the latest test the Phillies passed with phlying colors, winning three of four games over the weekend and beating the Giants at their own game, pitching.
Naw, let's not go there Victorino said. But as the weeks roll by and the Phillies blaze on toward what is shaping up to be another very special season, let's just say that leaving the Giants in ruins over the weekend just reinforced what some folks have been believing for a long time.
"Best team in baseball," one scout says.
"I don't want to use the word 'statement'," Victorino said. "But it shows we can do it. Not that we ever doubted that we can, but they're the champs. To be the champs, you have to beat the champs.
"In October, it's all about 5-7-7 [the round-by-round best-of series']. We tip our caps to the Giants for beating us last year. But I think this was a test for us, and we're good.
"I think people are understanding how good we are. We won in San Francisco because of our pitching. And they didn't even face our No. 1."
Instead, Roy Halladay was slotted to pitch the series opener against the Dodgers here Monday night, and the Phillies are making Jimmy Rollins look conservative. It was Rollins who predicted in February the Phillies would win 100 games.
It made headlines at the time because, well, in February, any sort of bold statement makes headlines.
But all you can say as the Phils maintain a pace to win 103 games is, the season is playing out just as many thought it could for them.
Winners of nine of their past 10 heading into this Dodgers series, they owned the game's best record at 74-40. Last time they had played at least 113 games and suffered only 40 losses, it was 1976.
Charlie Manuel's club is an equal opportunity outfit, shredding left-handed starters (against whom they're 21-9) and right-handers (53-31) alike.
Though they're only seventh in the NL in runs scored, their pitching is so dominant that their run differential (+127) is third-best in the game, trailing only the Yankees (+167) and Boston (+144).
Phillies starters lead all major-league rotations in wins (55), ERA (2.96), strikesouts (640), complete games (14, six from Halladay), quality starts (76) and fewest runs allowed (261).
Are the Phillies reaching their potential that, as far back as spring training, was set in the stratosphere?
"It's hard for us to say because we're striving to get to the World Series and win it," starter Cole Hamels said. "It's definitely a good question for when we're in the World Series.
"We definitely like our chances. We're confident. Guys are at their peaks. In '08 when we ended up winning, we were trying to find it and we ended up finding it."
As for the San Francisco series, Hamels said, "We're playing the right type of baseball. That's what you have to do in August. It's very tough for teams. It's 100 degrees, you've been pitching for 22, 24 starts [Hamels is 13-6 with a 2.53 ERA in 24 starts], your body's fighting it, and you have to keep pushing.
"It's the countdown."
He meant for stretch-run baseball in September, and playoff ball in October.
But for the Phillies, there's a lot of counting going on right now.
And the numbers are adding up impressively.
Likes: GM Dave Dombrowski and manager Jim Leyland extended in Detroit. They've earned their keep by keeping the Tigers relevant. ... A few days off in early August right after the trade deadline, summer sun still warm, the days long and free. ... Sandy Point in Ferndale, Wash., quarterback Jake Locker's land, right down there on Puget Sound. Beautiful. ... The oh-so-fresh halibut and salmon at Barlean's fishery down the road. Few things finer on the grill with the sun dropping behind the ocean water. ... The burritos at Chihuahua's in town. ... Jimmy Buffett's Encores disc. ... The new disc from John Hiatt, Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns. Not as good as Slow Turning or Perfectly Good Guitar, but that's setting the bar awfully high. Check out I Love That Girl, Detroit Made and Adios to California.
Dislikes: All the best to Colorado right-hander Juan Nicasio. One minute, you're pitching in the majors. The next, you've got a broken bone in your neck after being hit by a line drive, and you don't know if you'll ever pitch again. Tough summer for the Rockies. Hope we see Nicasio back soon.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Wrote a note, said 'Be back in a minute'
"Bought a boat and I sailed off in it
"Don't think anybody's gonna miss me anyway
"Mind on a permanent vacation
"The ocean is my only medication
"Wishin' my condition ain't ever gonna go away
"Now I'm knee deep in the water somewhere
"Got the blue sky breeze blowin' wind thru my hair
"Only worry in the world
"Is the tide gonna reach my chair
"Sunrise, there's a fire in the sky
"Never been so happy
"Never felt so high
"And I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise"
-- Zac Brown Band, Knee Deep
Posted on: July 12, 2011 7:33 pm
Edited on: July 12, 2011 8:16 pm
PHOENIX -- Talked to both All-Star pitching coaches during batting practice, Mike Maddux of the Rangers and Dave Righetti of the Giants, and here's the tentative pitching plans for tonight's All-Star Game:
AL starter Jered Weaver is only expected to go one inning. Angels manager Mike Scioscia talked to Rangers and AL skipper Ron Washington and requested Weaver go no more than one inning or 25 pitches because he's due to start Saturday during the Angels' doubleheader in Oakland.
Boston's Josh Beckett is expected to follow Weaver to the mound, according to Maddux. After that, look for either Michael Pineda of the Mariners or Texas' C.J. Wilson. The way things were set up going into the game, Washington and Maddux were planning to use Pineda as the third pitcher in.
After that it's less planned, though Angels rookie closer Jordan Walden has been told there is a good chance he'll pitch in the fifth inning. While that's not guaranteed, Maddux said he did speak with some of the closers because, obviously, not everybody can pitch the ninth.
"Guys used to pitching the ninth inning, we gave everybody a heads up because if we need them early, normally, they wouldn't have even gone to the training table yet," Maddux quipped.
As for overall pitching plans, Maddux had another good line: "The only sure thing is, if Weaver carries a no-hitter into the second inning, he's not gonna get it."
As for the NL, starter Roy Halladay likely will pitch two innings unless he goes through a long first inning. Phillies teammate Cliff Lee will follow him to the mound. Then, Righetti said, it will be either the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw or Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens -- probably Kershaw.
Posted on: July 11, 2011 8:13 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 8:30 pm
PHOENIX -- He leads the National League in both wins (12) and ERA (1.87), but Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens will be cooling his heels on the bench when the All-Star Game begins Tuesday night.
Even given Jurrjens' stellar season, it's hard to argue with Bochy. Halladay has been one of the game's elite pitchers for years -- arguably the best over the past several -- and he's tied for second in wins (11), fourth in ERA (2.45), first in innings pitched (143 1/3) and second in strikeouts (138).
The Braves' affable Jurrjens, 25 and participating in his first All-Star Game, was disappointed -- and refreshingly honest -- about being passed over.
"In a way yes [I'm disappointed] and in a way no," he said Monday, smiling. "I'm happy to be here. I got my hopes up a little bit because Doc pitched on Friday, but he deserves it.
"He's been doing it a long time. He's one of the best. You can't go wrong with him. He's one of the best pitchers -- that's why they call him 'Doc'."
The kid may be disappointed, but you've gotta admit, he's logical. Hard to argue with his thinking.
Posted on: June 21, 2011 11:39 pm
LOS ANGELES -- Detroit's rotation could keep Justin Verlander from pitching in next month's All-Star Game, but an early look at the top pitchers in each league shows few other conflicts right now.
Unless weather fouls things up, both Boston's Josh Beckett (last projected first-half start: Friday, July 8) and the Angels' Jered Weaver (Thursday, July 7) should be available options for American League manager Ron Washington to start the July 12 game in Phoenix.
And in the NL, Atlanta's Jair Jurrjens and Philadelphia's Roy Halladay (both would start Wednesday, July 6) would be available to manager Bruce Bochy, as would the Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw (Thursday, July 7) and, possibly, Philadelphia's Cole Hamels.
Hamels currently is projected to start on Tuesday, July 5, and the Phillies have an off day on July 6. If manager Charlie Manuel stays on rotation, Hamels would not pitch again until, possibly, the All-Star Game. If Manuel decides to skip a starter on an off day Thursday (unlikely), then Hamels could wind up starting on Sunday the 10th.
The problem for Verlander, who has one no-hitter and a couple of near-misses this year, is that, barring rainouts, he'll start the Tigers' final game of the first half on Sunday, July 10.
Looking both to keep pitchers healthy and to give All-Star managers real options, baseball last year instituted a rule prohibiting anybody pitching Sunday from working in the All-Star Game. Those pitchers named to the team are still All-Stars and can be in uniform in the dugout, they're just not eligible to play.
Really, it's a no-brainer that for a manager not to juggle his rotation to accommodate the All-Star Game, and that's essentially what Tigers skipper Jim Leyland said this week. His first responsibility is to win games for the Tigers, period.
"Our schedule is what it is," he said. "Our rotation falls the way it does."
Though his Dodgers are buried in fourth place in the NL West -- unlike the Tigers, who are battling for the AL Central title -- Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly says he will handle Kershaw the same way Leyland is handling Verlander.
"I think if his spot comes up Sunday, he pitches Sunday," Mattingly said. "I don't think we can start shifting things around because of the All-Star Game.
"It's an honor to be chosen. If a guy is chosen and he's not able to pitch, you have enough slots [to replace him] and it's still an honor."
Posted on: April 25, 2011 6:43 pm
Edited on: April 25, 2011 9:04 pm
Major league clubs are scoring the fewest runs per game since 1992, and the drought out west is particularly to blame.
The Angels were shut out Saturday and Sunday by Boston and take a 19-inning scoreless streak into Monday night's series opener against Oakland. No wonder Vernon Wells and Torii Hunter were among those taking early batting practice in Anaheim at 3 Monday afternoon.
The Mariners rank 12th after, in 2010, scoring the fewest runs during a season (513) of any team in the designated-hitter era (since 1972).
Over in the NL, the Padres were shut out in back-to-back games last Thursday and Friday by the Phillies and have scored the fewest runs in the league. If you want to know how feeble to Padres' sticks are, just check in with tonight's starter, Dustin Moseley: The Padres have not scored one single run during the 25 2/3 innings Moseley has been on the mound this season. He's 0-3 with a 1.40 ERA.
The Padres hitters' 186 strikeouts is the most in the majors. Already in games in 2011, the Phillies' Roy Halladay has fanned 14 Padres and the Giants' Tim Lincecum 13. Brad Hawpe has whiffed 22 times in 51 at-bats.
As for the Angels and Athletics, who are set to open a three-game series in Anaheim tonight, the Angels, having been shut out in each of their past two games, have only been blanked three times in a row once in club history. That happened in June, 1978. They've never been shut out three in a row at home.
"Right now, particularly guys we've been counting on to hit in the middle of the lineup, guys are struggling," Angels manager Mike Scioscia says. "We have a few 3 for 30s -- Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, Vernon Wells, Howie Kendrick ... we've got a pretty strong grouping in the middle that has been struggling for probably the last 10 games collectively.
Dislikes: Jose Contreras to the DL. Just when he was in the process of reinventing himself yet again. What a job he's done as a closer. Though for you pitch count aficionados, there's this: Contreras was DL'd after throwing 81 pitches over a five-day span. And the Phils allowed Cole Hamels to throw 126 pitches on Friday and Roy Halladay to throw 130 on Sunday. It was, though, only against the Padres. So it wasn't like every pitch was taxing.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"To workers I'm just another drone
-- Bob Seger, Feel Like a Number
Posted on: February 14, 2011 7:37 pm
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Outtakes from a day with a Phillies' rotation that is moving into history's on-deck circle (maybe):
-- It bears repeating, because Cliff Lee mentioned it a couple of times Monday: He signed with the Phillies, he said, because "it was really about what team gave me the best chance to win world championships over the life of the contract."
He did not say he signed with Philly because it was best for his family. He did not say his wife loved it there. He did not say he signed to be close to Philly cheesesteak sandwich heaven (though he did allow, "I like Philly cheesesteaks. But that had nothing to do with me coming back to Philly.").
"I think Philadelphia fans should feel real proud about that," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro said, referring not to the scrumptious sandwiches, but to Lee's feeling that Philadelphia can become Titletown. "I think things really started rolling as far as putting us back on the map, so to speak, when Jim Thome came here [in 2003].
"Ed [Wade, former Phillies GM] did a fantastic job bringing Jim here.. I think it legitimized what we were trying to do."
-- Lee's decision to bypass the Yankees and Texas reinforces what has been becoming fact these past few years: Philadelphia has become a destination for ace pitchers. Lee by choice, Roy Halladay waving no-trade powers to land with the Phillies and Roy Oswalt doing the same.
Which is very interesting, given that Citizens Bank Park has earned a unanimous reputation for being a hitter's haven.
"It's kind of a testament to the fans' support, and to winning, too," Amaro said. "It's a testament to the faith that our ownership group has in the front office to make these moves. It's a testament to all in our organization creating an atmosphere where Philadelphia has become a place where people like to go, from the guards who watch the cars in the players' lot to the people who take care of the wives' lounge, the medical staff.
"We make a concerted effort to build relationships here."
-- Manager Charlie Manuel opted to pass when asked which of his Murderers' Row rotation members would get the opening day start.
"We've got a chance to have a special club," Manuel said. "We've got a guy who threw two no-hitters and won a Cy Young [Roy Halladay] last year, and the other three guys standing there are tremendous pitchers.
"We're going to have a No. 1 starter going every day, so it doesn't really matter."
Of the Phillies' quintet, Cole Hamels is the only one never to have started on opening day. Halladay did it in Toronto and in Philadelphia last year, Lee's done it, Oswalt did it plenty in Houston and Joe Blanton did it in Oakland.
"The real good part of it is, it doesn't matter who you pick, it doesn't faze the other guys," pitching coach Rich Dubee said. "I don't think any of them has a big enough ego to say 'I have to have the ball on opening day.'
"They all want the ball 33 to 35 times."
Sunblock Day? It was perfect. High right around 70 degrees.
Likes: Great line from Yankees' starter CC Sabathia, that he lost a bunch of weight over the winter because he "stopped eating Capt'n Crunch." I would have picked A.J. Burnett as the Captain Crunch eater of that group. ... Phillies pitching prospect Justin DeFratus, who pitched in the Arizona Fall League last year, taking it all in early Monday morning before the first workout for pitchers and catchers. "It's been crazy here so far," DeFratus said ... Philadelphia GM Ruben Amaro wearing a baseball cap with the final scoreboard line score from Halladay's playoff no-hitter against Cincinnati stitched onto the front. ... Arcade Fire winning a Grammy for best album for The Suburbs. Excellent. Great performances, too. ... Winter's Bone.
Dislikes: Getting to the gate for your flight at 6 a.m. and hearing the attendant say, "Sorry, this flight is delayed until at least 10." ... Missed Bob Dylan on the Grammy's Sunday night because of a too-long travel day.
Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:
"Kids wanna be so hard
-- Arcade Fire, The Suburbs