Marlon Byrd returns to Philadelphia as a power threat

After a strong season last year, expectations are high on Byrd to helm the Phillies offense.

Phillies open 10-game west coast swing in Denver

Series Preview: 4/18-4/20 Philadelphia Phillies (7-8) vs. Colorado Rockies (8-9)

Robert Amaro continues to lead the Owls with a strong bat

Beyond his relationship to the Phillies GM, Amaro making a name for himself at the plate.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pettibone shelled as Rockies pummel Phillies at Coors

By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
April 19, 1:00 a.m.
@Philabaseball
Jonathan Pettibone will never be a fan of Coors Field.

The Phillies right-hander allowed nine hits, eight runs, two walks and one home run in four innings in a 12-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Friday night. For his career, Pettibone has allowed 19 hits, 15 runs (14 earned runs) and three walks and has struck out two in seven innings for an 18.00 ERA.

"I don't know what it is, but this park is tough for me," Pettibone said.

The Phillies optioned him to Triple-A after the game, something the organization said they decided to do prior to Friday's contest. Right-handed reliever Shawn Camp will take his place on the roster.

The loss kicked off a 10-game coastal road trip with stops in Colorado, Los Angeles, and Arizona.

The Phillies collected just two hits on Friday, allowing Tyler Chatwood to coast to an easy victory. He struck out six.

The Rockies jumped on Pettibone early, scoring seven runs over the first two innings highlighted by a three-run home run by Troy Tulowitzki. The Rockies shortstop finished the contest 3-for-3 with five RBIs and a pair of runs scored.

Charlie Blackmon and Drew Stubbs each contributed three hits in the winning effort.

Mike Adams made his season debut for the Phillies, tossing a scoreless inning via just seven pitches.

The two clubs resume their three-game series on Saturday night.

"A great road trip is 8-2," outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "We already have one loss into that so we've got to pick it up tomorrow and try to score some runs early. Their offense is potent. They know how to play here. They love playing here and hitting here. We have to try to back them against the wall early in the game and help our pitching out."

The Philadelphia Baseball Review is the top baseball news blog in Philadelphia, providing news coverage and analysis of the 2014 Phillies and baseball in the Philadelphia region.   

Weekend College Baseball Conference Preview: April 18-20

By SAMUEL BOTWINICK | Staff Writer
April 17, 2014, 7:05 p.m.
@avdbkr20samuel
All of the five Big Five Baseball teams in Philadelphia will play against conference opponents this weekend. The games begin on Thursday and continue through Sunday.  Below is our preview and current status of each series.

La Salle (10-22 overall, 5-5 in A-10) at VCU (26-8 overall, 7-3 in A-10)

About La Salle:  The Explorers will travel to Virginia to play the scorching hot Rams.  The 10-22 record for the Explorers does not show their true potential this year, as evidenced by the 5-5 mark in conference play.  Mark Williams continues to provide a significant source of power for La Salle; five home runs to go along with 25 RBI; and a .302 batting average.  The Explorers' pitching staff continues to struggle with a 6.59 ERA compared to the conference average of 4.26.  Shawn O'Neil has quietly picked himself up from a rough start to this year, improving his line to 4-5, with a 3.64 ERA, and 35 strikeouts through 54 1/3 innings.

About VCU:  The Rams are unbelievably hot, winning five of their last six games.  They have an astonishingly low three losses at home compared to only five on the road.  While VCU has less than the league average in home runs, they have more than 100 RBI more than them, and sport an astounding .315 team batting average, which is more than 60 points higher than the league average of .253.  The Rams' offensive production is due in large part to the fact that no player in the starting lineup has less than 35 hits, and that eight of the starting nine have above a .300 batting average.  The one player (Cody Acker) who doesn't have a .300 average (.292) leads the team in hits, with 45.  On the mound, Heath Dwyer is having a memorable season, posting a miniscule 2.01 ERA, with a perfect 4-0 record, and 40 punch outs in 44 2/3 innings.

Series Probables for La Salle and VCU
Friday: Heath Dwyer (4-0, 2.01 ERA) vs. Shane Hollman (3-1, 3.61 ERA)
Saturday: TBA vs. Joey Ravert (1-1, 2.73 ERA)
Sunday: JoJo Howie (3-2, 3.36 ERA) vs. TBA

Penn (20-12 overall, 11-1 in Ivy) at Princeton (10-20 overall, 5-7 in Ivy)

About Penn:  The Quakers, who are currently on a four game winning streak, will travel to Princeton to play the Tigers in a two day back-to-back series starting on Saturday.  After starting out an abysmal 2-9 through the first 11 games, Penn has completely turned its season around, winning 15 of the last 17 games, en-route to recapturing the Ivy League division lead.  Penn's team batting average is not great, but they are incredibly productive and powerful as a team, cranking out 29 bombs compared to just 14 for the opposition, while driving in 181 RBI as a team in comparison to the league average of 129.  Rick Brebner is having an MVP-caliber season, knocking out seven home runs to lead the Quakers, driving in 29 runs in just 32 games, and hitting .309.  Connor Cuff continues to blow hitters away with his 1.33 ERA, 4-1 record, and 34 strikeouts through 47 1/3 frames.

About Princeton:  The Tigers have almost the exact opposite record of the Quakers (10-20 to 20-12).  The main difference between both teams this season has been Penn's ability to bounce back and get stronger when adversity hit them, while Princeton has not been able to win consistently.  The Tigers' main struggles have come when they are on the road, resulting in a 5-15 away record.  Princeton doesn't have one outstanding player on offense who can carry a team by himself.  Rather, the Tigers have several players who can get the job done as a team, but who struggle when all of the hitters are not up to par.  Michael Fagan has been a strikeout machine on the mound for Princeton, punching out an incredible 55 batters in just 42 2/3 innings.                            

Series Probables for Penn and Princeton
Saturday: TBA vs. TBA
Sunday: TBA vs. TBA
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Temple (10-19 overall, 5-8 in AAC) at Connecticut (18-17 overall, 5-4 in AAC)

About Temple:  Thursday was the first time this year that the Owls played the Huskies.  Connecticut won that game 4-1.  Temple won a hard-fought extra inning battle with Connecticut on Friday to even the series at a game a piece.  Robert Amaro continues his torrid hitting for the Owls, collecting 28 RBI in only 29 games.  Matt Hockenberry, who once owned a 2.10 ERA earlier this season, has come back to reality, increasing that total to a 3.59 ERA.  

About Connecticut:  The Huskies, who won game 1 against the Owls, look to continue to dominate, winning four of their last five games.  Connecticut is above the league average in team batting average (.272-.232), home runs (16-9), and RBI (155-110).  Their primary offense comes from their top two hitters (Bobby Melley and Blake Davey), who together combined for 10 home runs and 48 RBI, and who together went for 5-7 day at the plate on Thursday.  In Thursday's victory over the Owls, Anthony Marzi notched his 200th career strikeout.

Series Probables for Temple and Connecticut
Thursday: Matt Hockenberry (4-3, 3.59 ERA) vs. Anthony Marzi (4-4, 3.06 ERA)
Friday: Patrick Vanderslice (0-1, 7.89 ERA) vs. Jordan Tabakman (3-1, 2.44 ERA)
Saturday: TBA vs. TBA

Dayton (17-17 overall, 9-4 in A-10) at St. Joseph's (20-10 overall, 9-4 in A-10)

About Dayton:  The Flyers, who are facing the Hawks for the first time this year, have split the first two games with them this series, winning 6-1 on Thursday, and losing 3-2 on Friday.  Dayton was on a tear prior to Friday's loss against the Hawks, winning eight of their last nine games.  A.J. Ryan is having an unbelievable season at the dish, hitting .397, with two home runs, and 25 RBI in 22 starts.  The Flyers don't have any special hurlers on the mound that can blow opposing hitters away with their pitches.  As a matter of fact, only Noah Buettgen has under a 4.00 ERA (3.76).

About St. Joseph's:  The Hawks are hot as well, winning five of their last six games, including Friday's victory over the Flyers.  Brian O'Keefe has cooled his average and production down, but he is still having an MVP-caliber season.  In 30 games, the catcher has five bombs, 27 RBI, and a .380 batting average to lead the team in all important offensive categories aside from RBI.  The leader in that category is Tommy Cunningham, who is having an equally impressive year at the plate, hitting .331, with four long balls, and 28 RBI.  Daniel Thorpe and Jordan Carter have had incredible years, combining for an 11-3 record, and 89 strikeouts.

Series Probables for Dayton and St. Joseph's
Thursday: Joe Wahl (1-4, 6.61 ERA) vs. Matt Morella (0-0, 0.90 ERA)
Friday: Noah Buettgen (5-4, 3.76 ERA) vs. Daniel Thorpe (6-0, 1.81 ERA)
Saturday: Charlie Dant (4-3, 4.43 ERA) vs. Jordan Carter (5-3, 2.72 ERA)

Creighton (18-12 overall, 3-1 in Big East) at Villanova (11-22 overall, 3-4 in Big East)

About Creighton:  The Bluejays have won six of their last eight games, which includes the loss at the Wildcats on Thursday.  They split game two as Creighton defeated Villanova 12-6 in an offensive outburst.  The Bluejays are a power hitting club, hitting more than double the average of the Big East for home runs (13-6).  Mike Gerber has a lot to do with those 13 bombs, as he clubbed 6 of those bombs in the early season.  Creighton's greatest strength is its pitching staff, which has a lower team ERA than the league average (3.82-4.32).  Matt Warren has been the best pitcher on the team, and is among the best hurlers in the Big East.  He already has a perfect 7-0 record, with an equally impressive 1.93 ERA.

About Villanova:  The Wildcats have had a disappointing season thus far, on the mound, and at the plate.  The only offensive category that they are close to the league average in is home runs (9-11).  Connor Jones has been the one bright spot on offense for Villanova this year, leading the wildcats in both home runs (4) and RBI (26).  Hunter Schryver has been the only pitcher to show promise this year, tossing 30 punch outs in 35 2/3 innings, and sporting a 3.79 ERA.

Series Probables for Creighton and Villanova
Thursday: Taylor Elman (2-3, 6.26 ERA) vs. Josh Harris (3-5, 5.96 ERA)
Friday: Matt Almonte (1-4, 4.68 ERA) vs. Brian Sova (2-0, 2.01 ERA)
Saturday: TBA vs. TBA

- The Philadelphia Baseball Review is the top baseball news blog in Philadelphia, providing news coverage and analysis of the 2014 Phillies and baseball in the Philadelphia-region.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Philadelphia Phillies Series Preview: vs. Colorado Rockies 4/18-4/20

By PATRICK GORDON | Managing Editor
April 18, 2014, 1 p.m.
@Philabaseball
The storyline: The Phillies embark on a 10-game trip out west to face the Rockies, Dodgers, and Diamond Backs.

Game 1 - Jonathan Pettibone (0-0, 1.80) vs. Tyler Chatwood (0-0, 6.00)
Game 2 - Kyle Kendrick (0-1, 3.50) vs. Jordan Lyles (2-0, 4.32)
Game 3 - Roberto Hernandez (1-0, 3.86) vs. Juan Nicasio (2-0, 3.45)

Phillies notes: 7-8, 4th place in NL East ... Chase Utley is hitting.462 (24-for-52) with three home runs, seven doubles, and 10 RBI through 13 games ... The bullpen ranks second worst in MLB with a 5.28 ERA ... Tuesday's contest against the Braves that was rained out has been rescheduled for June 28th as part of a split doubleheader ... Cole Hamels (biceps) tossed seven innings of one-run ball Thursday for High-A Clearwater in what is expected to be his final rehab start ... The left-hander has posted a 2.12 ERA and 12/1 K/BB ratio over his 17 rehab innings ... Though nothing is confirmed, Hamels likely will join the club at some point on this west coast swing and may rejoin the rotation in Los Angeles. 

Rockies notes: 8-9, 3rd place in NL West ... The Rockies concluded a seven-game road trip (3-4) with a win over the Padres on Thursday ... Tyler Chatwood will be making his 3rd career start against the Phillies...went exactly 5.0 innings allowing 2 runs (3.60 ERA) in each of his first two starts against the Phillies ... Michael Cuddyer is day-to-day with a mild hamstring strain and is unlikely to start Friday ... Carlos Gonzalez entered Thursday 3-for-24 (.125) over his last six games. 

- The Philadelphia Baseball Review is the top baseball news blog in Philadelphia, providing news coverage and analysis of the 2014 Phillies and baseball in the Philadelphia-region.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Philadelphia Phillies Series Preview: vs. Miami Marlins 4/11-4/13


By SAMUEL BOTWINICK | Staff Writer
April 10, 2014, 11:45 p.m.
@avdbkr20samuel

The storyline:  The Phillies will stay at Citizens Bank Park, where they have yet to win this season, until April 18, when they face the Rockies at Coors Field.

Game 1 - A.J. Burnett (0-1, 3.86) vs. Jose Fernandez (2-0, 0.71)
Game 2 - Jonathan Pettibone (0-0, 0.00) vs. Nathan Eovaldi (1-1, 3.46)
Game 3 - Kyle Kendrick (0-1, 3.75) vs. Henderson Alvarez (0-2, 4.15)

Phillies Notes:  3-6, last (5th) place in NL East...  The Phillies will try to avoid losing five games in a row, after being swept by the scorching hot Brewers, when they face the virtually unhittable Ferrnandez on Friday night at 7:05.  The fifth starter mystery has finally been solved.  The Phillies have announced that it will be right hander, Jonathan Pettibone, and that he will pitch on Saturday against the Marlins.  The 23-year-old has struggled this year.  Splitting time between Lehigh Valley and Reading, Pettibone has not posted under a 5.40 ERA, wherever he has gone this year, and he does not have a single win either to go along with that.  Chase Utley is on a tear right now, hitting .464 early in the season, which is good for second in the Majors. The Phillies as a team are tied with the Dodgers for the ninth best OPS in the MLB (.728).  They are also hitting .263 as a team, which is 11th best in the Majors.

Injury update: 
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. confirmed Thursday that Cole Hamels (biceps) might only need two more rehab starts.  The left hander allowed two runs on three hits over four innings in a rehab start with High-A Clearwater Sunday. He's expected to make three more starts before joining the Phillies at the end of April.          

Marlins Notes:  5-5, 3rd place in NL East...  The Marlins could not figure out how to defeat the red-hot Nationals, resulting in three-game sweep of them by the Nationals.  The Marlins have the sixth best batting average in the Majors (.269).  Giancarlo Stanton, who was discussed in trade talks this off-season, is off to a hot start in 2014, with a .293 batting average, two home runs, and 13 RBI in only 10 games.  Strangely enough, he is hitting .345 in home games, compared to only .167 on the road.  He also only has one of his 13 RBI on the road.  The Marlins started out similarly to the Phillies, winning four out of their first five games of the season, but, like the Phillies, are in the midst of a four-game skid.  They are in the middle of an NL East showdown between the Phillies and the Nationals.  After they play the Phillies, they go back home to play the Nationals.

The Philadelphia Baseball Review is the top baseball news blog in Philadelphia, providing news coverage and analysis of the 2014 Phillies and baseball in the Philadelphia-region.   

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Lee and Byrd provide added jolt, but Phillies fall to Brewers 6-2

By SAMUEL BOTWINICK | Staff Writer
April 10, 2014, 10:15 p.m.
@avdbkr20samuel

On Thursday night, Cliff Lee had eight strikeouts and Marlon Byrd drove in two, but the rest of the team was able to do little right, resulting in another crushing loss to the Brewers, 6-2, at Citizens Bank Park. 

The Phillies' problems this season have not been their getting leads early on in games.  They have had early leads the past couple of games.  Rather, the issue is toward the back end of their bullpen, which has cost them those games.  Their defense had done them no favors either.  Coming into Thursday night's game, they had 10 unearned runs in the past three games, which were all losses.

In the bottom of the second, Byrd ensured that the Phillies would have an early lead, with a solo shot to left off Brewers' starting pitcher, Marco Estrada, to put them ahead 1-0.

Once again, following the Phillies' scoring, they could not keep the opposing team off the board.  

Lee has had an inconsistent year so far, but his record wouldn't necessarily indicate that.  The left hander was 2-0 coming into Thursday night's ball game, but had an even 6.00 ERA.  On Thursday night, he suffered his first loss in a decent pitching performance, where he tossed six innings, surrendered three earned runs on eight hits, and struck out eight.

Lee's counterpart, Estrada, fared better as he notched his first win of the young season, throwing six innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits, while punching out five batters, and walking two.      

In the top of the fourth, Lee yielded a single to the hot-hitting Ryan Braun to start the frame.  Lee then allowed a double to Aramis Ramirez, which allowed Braun to hustle all the way home from first and tie the game at 1.

It wasn't enough to allow the Brewers to take the lead.  The Phillies had to give up the lead as well in the same inning to ensure that they were playing Phillies' baseball.

Ramirez, who was on second, advanced to third on Jonathan Lucroy's ground out, and scored on Khris Davis' single to left to enable the Brewers to grab the 2-1 advantage.

The other common theme in all of the Phillies' losses this year has been their lack of defense.  That defense, or lack thereof, was on display in the top of the sixth inning.

With two outs and no men on base, Lucroy hit a double right where Ben Revere, who has struggled mightily this year with tracking down balls, should have been playing.  The next batter, Davis, deposited an 0-2 Lee fastball into right-center, driving home Lucroy from second to extend the Brewer's lead to 3-1.

While it looked like nothing could go right for the Phillies initially, they were able to get back one of those runs in the bottom of the sixth.

After consecutive strikeouts of Cesar Hernandez, who came in to relieve Lee of his hitting, and ultimately, pitching duties, and Ben Revere, it looked like it could be another easy 1-2-3 inning for Estrada.  Jimmy Rollins had different plans, though.  He was patient at the plate, for once, and drew a two-out walk.  Chase Utley, who was coming back from his flu, made his presence felt as he hit a single to right, allowing Rollins to run to third.  Ryan Howard worked a rare walk to load the bases for the ever intriguing bat of Byrd.  Byrd used what was left of his speed from his time with the Phillies to beat out a throw from third to enable Rollins to trot home from third and narrow the score to 3-2 Brewers.

Of course, though, in typical Phillies' manner, it was only a matter of time before the Brewers would regain their two run lead.  

The highly-discussed Jeff Manship, who had a stellar Spring Training, earning him a roster spot with the Phillies, did not fare well in his brief stint as a reliever on Thursday night. After he came in to relieve Lee of his outing, things got ugly for him in a hurry.

Manship yielded a single to Rickie Weeks to start the top of the seventh.  Pinch-hitter, Logan Schafer, who replaced Estrada, then bunted Weeks over to second.  The following batter, Carlos Gomez, lined a single to left-center, which scored Weeks from second.

The trouble, though, was only starting for Manship and the much maligned Phillies' bullpen. 

After a trip to the mound, Phillies' pitching coach, Bob McClure replaced Manship with Jake Diekman, hoping for different reusults.  To McClure's chagrin, those results remained the same as the first batter whom Diekman faced, Jean Segura, blooped a single to center, scoring Schafer, and enabling Gomez to scamper to third.

The damage was still not complete, though.  With Gomez at third, Braun, who couldn't be kept off the bases this series, hit a sacrifice fly to score Gomez from third, and gave the Brewers a commanding 6-2 advantage, which they would not relinquish.

The Phillies will look to avoid a five-game losing streak when they open up a series with the Marlins on Friday night, with the first game set for 7:05.  A.J. Burnett will look to get his first victory of the season against the talented young gunslinger, Jose Fernandez.

- The Philadelphia Baseball Review is the top baseball news blog in Philadelphia, providing news coverage and analysis of the 2014 Phillies and baseball in the Philadelphia-region.