Leaving Pittsburgh Is A Good Thing

Thumbnail image for happ 0805.jpgI’m not sure what it is, but the Phillies just don’t seem to play well in Pittsburgh. Well, at least they haven’t played well in Pittsburgh since I started covering the team in 2003. They’re 9-12 at PNC Park in that span. That’s pretty remarkable considering the Phillies have had a winning record every season since 2003 and the Pirates haven’t even hit .500 since 1992.

Blame me?

Nah, don’t blame me.

But the Phillies left Pittsburgh last night with a three-game series this weekend against the Braves at the Bank. The Braves are throwing Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe and Jair Jurrjens at them this weekend. The Phillies are throwing Pedro Martinez, Cliff Lee and Joe Blanton. It should be an interesting series, and if the Braves go crazy they could make things a little more interesting in the National League East.


J.A. Happ pitched well in last night’s 3-2 loss. He is 10-3 with a 2.63 ERA. That’s the lowest ERA of any Phillies rookie since Ben Tincup‘s 2.61 ERA in 1914. I’m not familiar with Tincup, besides the fact he has a cool last name. He went 8-10 in 1914, but appeared in just 10 games in 1915. He didn’t pitch again in the Majors until 1918 with the Phillies. And he did not pitch again in the Majors until 1928 with the Cubs.

Wikipedia has some interesting info about Tincup. And we know 100 percent of everything in Wikipedia is factually accurate.


The Phillies were hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position last night. They hit .107 (3-for-28) with one homer and six RBIs with RISP against the Pirates this week, and have hit .214 (52-for-243) with 14 homers and 86 RBIs with RISP since July 27.


Raul Ibanez has hit just .227 with five homers and 20 RBIs in 38 games since he returned from the disabled list July 11. He has hit .140 with one homer, four RBIs and 20 strikeouts in 57 at-bats since Aug. 9.


Matt Stairs‘ hitless streak reached 25 at-bats. He hasn’t had a hit since July 11.


The Phillies have not talked to Lee about a potential contract extension, according to Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. He said the Phillies are focused on 2009. Lee said he also is focused on 2009. But ESPN.com reports that Lee is going to go for a big payday down the road. I wouldn’t see why he wouldn’t, but in the meantime I’d just enjoy the ride.


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Ibanez is proving why it’s called a batting AVERAGE. He carried them for a couple of months, but it would be nice to see him regain his stroke. Nobody expects him to hit .360, but working in an RBI once in a while would be cool.
Ditto Matt Stairs. His “swing hard in case I hit it” approach is charming, but the futility is hard to watch. He lived off his playoff HR for a while, but it’s time to start playing baseball.
I’m not the least bit concerned about 2010 either.

Minus July, the offense has been frustrating the last two years. How many runners are left on 2nd and 3rd? It is just unbelievable how many times it happens with this team. What is the cure?

I wonder if Lidge’s problems were on Manuel’s mind last night. I’d think they would want to limit Happ’s pitches, but he sent him out in the 8th. If Lidge was going well, would we have seen Park in the 8th and then Lidge in the 9th since he’d had one day off?

I thought Happ looked great in the bottom of the 8th despite giving up the HR. I think that was just baseball not pitch count. I’m hoping Ibanez (and Stairs also) find their mojo. Ibanez had a couple of hits off the Mutts and I thought maybe this would help him get out of his slump a bit. Would be nice if they both got hot starting next month.

I again have to assume Milt Thompson has pictures of people. Our offense has been unacceptable. People might argue how many runs we score, but we live on the longball. Hitting coaches cannot teach home runs. You have the power, or you don’t. What they can, and should teach, is situational hitting – how to move runners, how to manufacture runs, how to get bunts down, how to hit lefties (or righties), how to defeat “the shift,” things of that nature. Milt Thompson has not accomplished those things for a number of years now. Come October, that will be our biggest enemy, not our bullpen, and not our opponent.

Todd, we’re not only blaming you for the bad-luck run we’ve had against the Pirates, but it’ll be your fault if we don’t win the WS this year because you left philly.com and the Inquirer for MLB.com. lol

karen: Raul had one particular at-bat in NYC on Monday where I thought he went up there with the idea to just lay the bat-head on the ball. A nice clean single to center. He needs a few more of those. Stairs will be a more difficult project, since he doesn’t play much and represents a bit of a liability in RF.
scottash: Major League hitting coach is one of those strange occupations. Maybe Todd could elaborate in a column at some point, but I’ve often wondered, at this point in a player’s development what they can accomplish. I’ve always thought of Charlie as more of a hitting guru than Milt anyway. Hitting coach seems like a patronage job, but I guess there’s more to it than most of us see.
Nevertheless, most of the Phils hitters are terrible “situation hitters” and I’d guess that either represents some lack of fundamentals or a burning desire to be part of Sports Center, since they never show sacrifice bunts or moving a runner.

Did Raul really fix his “shoe” problem that he had right before he went on the DL? It’s just that he looks really uncomfortable at the plate and if his feet are still bothering him it would explain a lot. I just find it hard to believe that a pure hitter like Raul could be struggling for this long without having some kind of injury, even a minor nagging injury.

Poor Happ…he so should have won that game. Someone please find the offense, fast!


While it’s true that the Phillies are experiencing troubles with the Closer’s role, it’s NOT their biggest problem. It’s very possible that either Lidge or Myers, assuming his continued rehab success, will be able to be an effectice closer. Their BIGGEST problem is an inability to score runs other than by hitting a Home run and , in particular, an inabilty to make contact with players in scoring position and less than 2 outs. This team relies too much on Home Runs to win games. In the regular season they can get away with that, perhaps. But in the playoffs they will face BETTER pitching and will not be able to Homer themselves to victory as consistently. For now, they will need to do the BEST that they can with their current roster. But in 2010, some Roster tinkering will be needed. I’d love to see Michael Taylor here next year to platoon with Ibanez and take over for him in 2011 ( as Ibanez could be traded back to the AL as a DH). Taylor is a home run threat and hits for high average simultaneously with relatively few Ks.

Is tonight’s game going to be rained out? The weather forecast for the region calls for thunder showers tonight.

Wow, no one answered that easy question. I guess Pedro and rain delays go together.

erichh1: Starting tonight’s game was a disgrace. Sure, it was dry at game time, but anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of meteorology (me) could see the giant green and yellow blob on the radar heading straight for south Philly. So, they played 2 innings (predictable) and we’ve probably lost Pedro and the Braves have probably lost Hanson. Maybe the 1-0 lead will hold up until they resume, if they do, but it was a stupid decision not to either wait for the next wave of rain or cancel the game altogether. Wake up the bullpens!
What good is technology if they’re going to ignore it?

In this situation, I think the rain delay favored the Phils – it limited Hanson’s time on the mound and Moyer was able to put his anger to use again. Howard continues to carry this team and nice to see Lidge focused.

Probably, but it still would have been nice to see what Pedro can do. So far, we don’t have much of an idea, and it’s September soon.
My only gripe with CBP is that it’s a lousy place to be in a rain delay. There aren’t many places to go to stay dry. As a fan, when it rains, I prefer to stay home.

Other than as a possilble reliever, what difference does it make as to what Pedro can do? I cannot see Pedro being a factor the rest of the way. I doubt the Phillies will need a fifth starter in the post season. And, if they do, there is always Jamie.

Well then what’s the point of having Pedro here if “there is always Jamie”?
They won’t need 5 starters in the post season, but at some point they’ll have to decide whether it’s Moyer or Martinez.

Welcome back to Earth, Cliff Lee.

Something told me that the Braves were gonna do some damage against Lee. Guess he’s not Superman?!

muleman ……I give up. What is the point of having Martinez? I suspect that the Phillies were hoping to catch lightening in a bottle but it has not panned out in my estimation. Nevertheless, I do believe that Martinez’s presence has shown Moyer that he is useful other than in a starting role. Old jocks, unlike old soldiers, will not just fade away.

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