September 20, 2013 |
THE FLAGS that sat at half-staff at Citizens Bank Park were motionless most of evening last night, but a crisp air that descended on the 10-year-old ballpark earlier this week stuck around anyway, bringing a feel of postseason baseball to South Philly. Pennant races were alive and well in Washington, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Boston and Tampa. But at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies tried to stave off their date with their 82nd loss for another day, a defeat that would clinch the franchise's first losing season since 2002.
September 18, 2013 |
THE SYNTAX was more efficient, the accent less Appalachian. Otherwise, the assessment of the Phillies' future that Ryne Sandberg delivered yesterday sounded strikingly similar to the one that his predecessor delivered one September ago. There was optimism about Ryan Howard's health, and uncertainty about Darin Ruf's role, and praise for some of the young relievers who could help stabilize the bullpen. On the first day of the last homestand of the season, everything new was old again.
September 9, 2013 |
Standing in the Phillies dugout hours before Friday's game at Citizens Bank Park against the Atlanta Braves, pitching coach Rich Dubee made one of the least surprising announcements. Dubee said Phillies righthander Ethan Martin would be moved to the bullpen for the rest of the season and that Tyler Cloyd would take his place in the rotation. "His stuff has played phenomenally well the first time through a lineup," Dubee said. "Again, I don't know if it is because of fatigue, if he burns up too much energy, but his stuff shortens up the second and third time through.
September 8, 2013 |
THE PHILLIES have seen enough out of Ethan Martin to believe he will be an important piece of next year's roster. That might sound strange, given the 23 earned runs, eight home runs and 21 walks he has allowed in 30 innings over seven starts. But as of yesterday, the Phillies are no longer handling Martin as a starter. During batting practice, pitching coach Rich Dubee informed reporters that the hard-throwing righthander would move to the bullpen, a place where many talent evaluators had long assumed he would end up. Tyler Cloyd will start for the foreseeable future, but this move is all about transitioning Martin, 24, to the bullpen.
September 7, 2013
The Phillies' team ERA for starters and relievers: Starters 2011: 2.86 (1st in MLB) 2012: 3.82 (10th) 2013: 4.29 (21st) The bullpen 2011: 3.45 (8th) 2012: 3.94 (21st) 2013: 4.31 (28th)
September 4, 2013 |
FOR SEVEN innings, Cole Hamels was as sharp and as efficient as he has been at any point this season. And then he was gone. After just 87 pitches. In a game that was tied. With a bullpen that would throw more balls in the final two innings than Hamels threw all night. Nothing to see here, the pitcher said after the Phillies pulled out a 3-2 win over the Nationals with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. The official word from manager Ryne Sandberg was that Hamels showed signs of trouble during his bullpen session before the start of the game, which prompted him to keep a close eye on the lefty throughout the night.
August 26, 2013 |
With every 98-m.p.h. Jake Diekman fastball, the Phillies want to believe in the process. They see a young lefthanded reliever harnessing the sort of talent Michael Young described as "unfair" after a batting practice session during spring training. They see a pitcher unafraid to throw strikes; an arm that could emerge from the muck of a lost season. This is what a spectacular 10 days will do for a Phillies reliever. Diekman is thriving in a zero-pressure environment. If he fails, there is no demotion to follow because the games are meaningless and Diekman represents a glimmer of something.
August 9, 2013 |
IT WAS THE KIND of outcome that has typified this Phillies season. Despite seven strong innings from Cole Hamels and a game-tying, pinch-hit single from Chase Utley, the Phillies dropped a 5-2 decision to the Cubs last night as their beleaguered bullpen allowed three runs in the top of the ninth inning. On a day when Utley and his longtime employer agreed to a multiyear contract extension, the fans at Citizens Bank Park were reminded of the litany of holes that must be filled around the second baseman.