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Category Archives: Joe Mauer

Runs For Cole: Offense Backs Up Hamels in 9-8 Win

Phillies DH Jim Thome (far right) celebrates with John Mayberry (left) and Carlos Ruiz (middle) after Mayberry’s three-run homer in the 1st inning. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Phillies 9, Twins 8
WP – Cole Hamels (9-3, 3.34)
LP – P.J. Walters (2-2, 5.40)
SV – Jonathan Papelbon (17)

MINNEANAPOLIS — On a night where Cole Hamels was a little off, his offense was not.

The Phillies erupted for a six-run 1st inning, beating up Twins pitching in their 9-8 win over the Twins. It snapped a three-game losing streak as well.

The 1st inning was a circus for Twins pitching. Starter P.J. Walters was yanked after facing only four hitters without getting an out, leaving with stiff shoulder.

The Phillies opened up on Walters with four straight singles, the last being a two-run single by Jim Thome to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead. After Walters was pulled, the Phils added four more runs on a Carlos Ruiz RBI single and John Mayberry three-run bomb.

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Phillies Bullpen Kills Two Rallies in 11-7 Loss

Twins 11, Phillies 7
WP – Nick Blackburn (3-4, 7.68)
LP – Kyle Kendrick (2-6, 5.08)

MINNEAPOLIS — The worst bullpen in baseball ruined a good offensive showing yet again.

With a pair of come backs within reach for the Phillies, twice the bullpen let it slip away as the Phillies dropped their third straight, losing 11-7 Tuesday in Minneanapolis. The Phillies fell to five games below .500 and 9.5 games out of first.

The Phillies kept getting close but the Twins kept pulling away.

It all started with Kyle Kendrick, who was absolutely awful through four innings. Denard Span led off the game with solo home run, giving the Twins an early 1-0 lead through one.

Kendrick got beat up in the second, allowing a two-run homer to Trevor Plouffe and then a single, walk and a pair of RBI singles to Ben Revere and Joe Mauer to give Minnesota a 5-0 lead.

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Series Preview: at Minnesota Twins

PHI: 29-33, 5th in NL East; MIN: 24-35, 5th in AL Central

When: June 12-14
Where: Target Field (Minneapolis, MN)

Probable Pitchers
Tuesday: Kyle Kendrick (2-5, 4.44) vs Nick Blackburn (2-4, 7.75)
Wednesday: Cole Hamels (8-3, 2.93) vs P.J. Walters (2-1, 4.42)
Thursday: Joe Blanton (5-6, 5.40) vs Scott Diamond (5-1, 1.61)

Broadcast Info
Tuesday, 8:10, CSN
Wednesday, 8:10, CSN
Thursday, 8:10, PHL 17
All Games on 94.1 FM

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Season Preview: AL Central

Chicago White Sox

Expectations: Ozzie Guillen tweets every lineup change from the dugout.
Key addition: 1B/OF Adam Dunn (.260, 38 HR, 103 RBI with Washington)
Key loss: RP Bobby Jenks (1-3, 27 Saves, 4.44 ERA)
Projected record: 92-70

Summary: Most of the puzzle pieces remain from last year’s team, with a power addition of Adam Dunn.  The team has speed (Juan Pierre, Alex Rios), power (Dunn, Paul Konerko) and pitching (John Danks, Mark Buherle).  Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham and Carlos Quentin are all solid ballplayers. The White Sox have a question mark in the bullpen, as they will have Chris Sale or Matt Thornton closing.  Jake Peavy’s injury concerns are troublesome, but as an end of the rotation guy, he won’t be relied on as an ace.

Minnesota Twins

Expectations: Increased amount of man-crushes on all-star catcher Joe Mauer.
Key addition: 2B Tsuyoshi Nishioka (.260, 14 HR, 41 RBI with Chiba of the Japanese League.
Key loss: 2B Orlando Hudson (.268, 6 HR, 37 RBI)
Projected record: 89-73

Summary: Mauer leads the Twins, who are bitter after two straight first round exits to the Yankees.  The core of the team returns, although key component 1B Justin Morneau missed the second half of last year with a concussion, and has only played six spring training games thus far.  The Twins rotation is decent; no stud ace, but some solid pitchers to get the job done.  One of the biggest question marks is the bullpen.  Joe Nathan is coming off Tommy John surgery, and if he is the Joe Nathan of old, the Twins will be fine.  If not, Matt Capps will be their go-to guy.

Detroit Tigers

Expectations: Leading the league in DUI arrests.
Key addition: C/1B Victor Martinez (.302, 20 HR, 79 RBI with Boston)
Key loss: OF Johnny Damon (.271, 8 HR, 51 RBI)
Projected record: 85-77

Summary: The Tigers underachieved last season going 81-81, finishing 13 games behind the first place Twins.  They added Boston’s Victor Martinez, who is a .225 career hitter at Detroit’s Comerica Park.  Will Martinez continue his struggles at his new spacious home?  He will likely DH for the team, hitting behind Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez, so RBI opportunities will be there.  Detroit’s pitching is good with Justin Verlander, Matt Scherzer and Rick Porcello.

Cleveland Indians

Expectations: The Indians beg Pedro Cerrano and Rick Vaughn to come back and play for the team.
Key addition: OF Austin Kearns (.263, 10 HR, 49 RBI with Cleveland and New York AL)
Key loss: Uhhhh…. I guess 3B Andy Marte (.229, 5 HR, 19 RBI)
Projected record: 70-92

Summary: Carlos Santana has recovered from a knee injury he suffered last August, only two months after being called up to the major league club.  The Tribe are going to rely on their young catcher and OF Shin Soo-Choo, who hit .300 last year, with 22 HR and 90 RBI.  Other offensive weapons, Travis Hafner and Grady Sizemore, have had trouble staying healthy in recent years.  Pitcher Fausto Carmona had a good year last season (3.77 ERA), despite losing 14 games.

Kansas City Royals

Expectations: Could contend for the AAA Championship.
Key addition: OF Jeff Francoeur (.249, 13 HR, 65 RBI with New York NL and Texas)
Key loss: SP Zach Greinke  (10-14, 4.17 ERA, 181 K)
Projected record: 65-97

Summary: The Royals fortunately have a deep minor league system, stocked up from many years of top draft picks.  However, that won’t help them this year.  They do have 1B Billy Butler, who hit .318 last year.  Top prospect 3B Mike Moustakas is ready for a promotion, and might get one this season.  Unfortunately the Royals traded away their best player, SP Zach Greinke for a boatload of prospects.  It’ll be a while before Kansas City is a competitor again.

Phils Blow Big Lead In Ninth; Lose In 11

Saturday’s game was a huge emotional roller coaster for the Phils. After blowing a huge lead, tying the game up with two outs, and then getting rocked again, the Phillies lost 13-10 in an 11-inning affair that should’ve ended in nine.

Danys Baez will lead the group of goats of the game. Though I don’t want him deported, I am not a fan of Baez at all this season, eating my words of favor for his signing in the off season. Baez allowed three runs in the top of the 11th to give Minnesota it’s victory.

Cole Hamels really settled in after his rough three-run first inning to pitch seven quality innings, allowing four runs on five hits and two walks while striking out seven. He left the game with an 8-4 lead.

The Phillies had a 9-4 lead going into the ninth. Jose Contreras will be the first goat. Jim Thome hit a two-run bomb to make it 9-6. Then Brad Lidge entered, allowing an RBI single tacked onto Contreras to make it 9-7. Then Joe Mauer hit a two-run homer to tie the game, making it 9-9.

After a scoreless bottom half, Chad Durbin allowed a solo homer to Drew Butera (who?) to make it 10-9. But with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, Ross Gload hit a solo homer to tie the game at 10, breathing life back into the Phillies faithful.

Then this is where Baez gets goat of the game. Baez was rocked for three runs in the top of the 11th and Ryan Howard struck out to end the game, capping off the come back for the Twins and the collapse of the Phillies.

The offense was awesome in the first three innings, scoring eight runs powered by a two-run triple by Chase Utley (3-for-5 with three RBIs), a Howard two-run blast (1-for-6), and a Raul Ibanez solo shot (2-for-3). Jayson Werth and Wilson Valdez also homered.

The one positive you can get out of this game is that Hamels was still very sharp and that the offense was scoring in bunches. The bull pen faltering was a bit disturbing and you can’t expect the offense to pick up on all of the pitching’s woes. Hopefully a tough loss like this won’t spin the Phillies into another funk.

Doubles: Ibanez (13), Polanco (14), Utley (13). Triples: Utley (2). HR: Valdez (1), Howard (14), Ibanez (5), Werth (12), Gload (3).

WP: Rauch (2-1). LP: Baez (2-4).

Boxscore.

Series Preview: Twins

Phillies (34-30, 3rd in NL East) vs. Minnesota Twins (38-28, 1st in AL Central)

Where: Citizens Bank Park (Philly, PA)
Discussion: Liberty Bell Sports

Probable Pitchers
Friday: Joe Blanton (1-5, 7.28) vs. Nick Blackburn (6-3, 4.96)
Saturday: Cole Hamels (6-5, 3.74) vs. Kevin Slowey (7-4, 3.84)
Sunday: Roy Halladay (8-5, 2.36) vs. Carl Pavano (7-6, 3.92)

Broadcast Info
Friday, 7:05: CSN
Saturday, 4:10: FOX
Sunday, 1:35: MyPHL17
All Games on 1210 AM

Hot (last 3) – Jose Contreras: 0-0, 3.1 IP, 2 H, BB, 0 R, 3 K, amazing since beginning of May.
Not (last 3) – Joe Blanton: 0-2, 15 IP, 20 R, 18 ER, 5 HR, 10.80 ERA.

Player to Watch – Joe Mauer: He is the best player in the American League and arguably the best in baseball. He’s the most dynamic catcher in a long time to play the game. His power numbers are low (only two home runs and only 28 RBIs) and his .311 average is 15 points below his career average. He’s been in a fun his last 10 games, batting .273 and only driving in four runs but much like we’re waiting on Chase Utley to do, Mauer can bust out at any moment.

Series Overview: The Phillies took a huge series away from the Yankees… Like Mauer, the Twins have been struggling a bit as they’ve seen their lead in the division diminish to half a game to Detroit… The Phillies need to keep pace with Atlanta and New York in order to not fall further from first in the NL East… Jim Thome returns to Philly where he was loved like a son… Joe Blanton hasn’t gone further than seven innings yet this season and hasn’t allowed fewer than three runs in any of his starts. He will need a good start on Friday to set the tone for the Phillies this series… Cole Hamels has been Philadelphia’s most consistent pitcher this season thus far. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in his last eight starts… Roy Halladay versus Carl Pavano on Father’s Day may be the rubber match in this series as pops will not only be treated to a cool hat at the stadium but also a good pitching duel.

5 Teams to Watch in the AL

Yankees – They’re the 2009 World Series champions and still kept intact the solid nucleus that got them there. They traded top prospects to land centerfielder Curtis Granderson, a much better defensive asset than Johnny Damon. They also traded Melky Cabrera to the Braves for Javier Vazquez to bolster the starting rotation. With guys like C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Brunett, and Andy Pettitte, the Yankees boast a very good pitching unit. Mariano Rivera is still the best closer in the game and the aging offense led by Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Mark Teixeira can still put a ton of runs up on the score board. If things go right, they could have another parade down Broadway.

Red Sox – The pitching is truly phenomenal. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka form the best top-four in baseball. The offense is led by top young stars Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Marco Scutaro is hoping to end the revolving door at the short stop position and Adrian Beltre is an offensive upgrade at third. Offensive depth is the only thing that should concern the Sox but they have the pitching to get the job done. David Ortiz is a shell of his old self but it still the DH.

Twins – It’s safe to say that Joe Mauer is the scariest hitter in the AL. The reigning MVP is one of the reasons Minnesota is buzzing prior to the 2010 season. Along with a new outdoor park and a very dangerous lineup featuring Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, and Michael Cuddyer, the fans and Twins have high expectations for this year. The only problem with them this year though is pitching. If their starters can have decent years, they could beat out Detroit for the division.

Mariners – Seattle is truly going to be a serious contender in the AL. The addition of Cliff Lee, Chone Figgins, and Milton Bradley will revamp a pitching staff and offense in need of fire power. Lee became a hot pitcher again after his last season transformation with the Phillies and will look to create a formidable 1-2 punch with Felix Hernandez. Figgins will add speed and Bradley will look to add power to a Mariners lineup that hit 160 homer (12th in the AL) last season.

Angels – Surely they make their case for a serious playoff contender every year but there has to be a breaking point. They improved an already solid lineup with Hideki Matsui and bolstered their bull pen with Fernando Rodney but the team still doesn’t jump out at anyone. The core of the offense is aging in Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, and Matsui and they lost Figgins to the division rival Mariners. Jared Weaver, Joe Saunders, and newly acquired Joel Pineiro will need to have season like 2009 to give the Mariners a fighting chance in an AL crowded with contenders.

East: Yankees
Central: Twins
West: Mariners
Wild Card: Red Sox

Pennant: Yankees over Mariners

RPAC Blogger Preview

I did another questionairre with a blog that got posted today. Justin Evans, a good friend and former teammate on We Hate to Lose, is the owner of Red Pinstripes Are Cooler. He asked myself in a few other bloggers a bunch of questions and posted our answers along with his. Here are my answers to his questions:

01.  Who do you believe is the biggest catalyst to the Phillies success in 2010?

Jimmy Rollins. He has always been the catalyst for the Phillies offense and will not have a year remotely as close to the one he had last year. He’s already batting over .300 in spring and with his high expectations and confidence, I think he’s going to have a fine year.

02.  What are your expectations for J.A. Happ?  Happ was as lucky as Cole Hamels was unlucky last season.  Do you think he can come close to his 2009 success?

I expect a sophomore slump but not one that’s as drastic as the one Kyle Kendrick had. If Happ can take the role of #4 and pitch well enough for the team win, then he will have a solid year of 10-14 wins and an ERA in the low 4’s.

03. How would you rate Ruben Amaro’s two offseasons as GM?  Would you have signed Ibanez or Polanco for more than two years knowing that you have a lot of youth to sign in the future?

Ibanez was a mistake and Polanco was actually a good signing. The infield prospects aren’t as great as the ones in the OF. If Ibanez was signed to a two year deal with an option for a third, that would’ve been better. As far as GMing the past two years, Amaro has done a good job. Though he gave up a lot for the two Cy Young pitchers he had in four months, he has a lot of young talent in the farm to afford to make those mistakes. He can’t do it again though.

04.  What does Joe Mauer’s deal mean for Jayson Werth and Ryan Howard?  Will the Phillies re-sign both, one, or neither?  If only one, which player do you recommend they re-sign?

Werth is gone unless the Phillies increase the pay-roll. I have no problem with that either if Dom Brown turns into a stud or Tyson Gillies become  a diamond in the rough.

05. After Domonic Brown, which prospect in the farm system are you most excited to see wear a Phillies uniform in the future?

It’s a toss-up between Phillippe Aumont and Tyson Gillies. Aumont has a lot of upside on the mound and the the Phillies’ project in turning him into a starter will be very interesting. As far as Gillies, he’s got a beautiful compact swing and seems to be a guy who can get on base and be a serious threat to steal and stretch hits.

06.  Cole Hamels added some pitches to his arsenal.  How often do you think he’ll use his cutter and curve in 2010?  Everyone is expecting Cole to bounce back from an unlucky 2009, how big of a “bounce back” do you expect?

He’ll start off using his normal stuff, working the cutter and curve in. If things are going well for him at that point, the cutter and curve will not be used often. If he’s struggling, he’ll look to mix it up by adding the cutter and curve. As far as a bounce-back season: he will have one. Adding Roy Halladay took the pressure off of him. His confidence has also been much higher seeing as he feels he’s doing well in the spring and is looking to put 2009 behind him. I expect a 2008-like year.

07.  You’re going to a Phillies game today, what is your choice of food/beer for tailgating?  If you have no time to tailgate, what are must have drinks/food in the stadium?

I always get to the game early to feast at Harry the K’s or Bull’s BBQ. Pulled Pork, Schmidter, or a cheese steak from Tony Lukes are always top choices.

08.  How do you feel about the bullpen heading into the season?  Who are your biggest question marks?  If the Phillies make their third straight World Series, who pitches the final out for them?

Lidge is my biggest question mark because I’m afraid he will rush himself back. If Lidge is doing fine, he will be the closer all year. If he’s hurt or struggling, Ryan Madson should be the first to take the ball again. Am I worried he will struggle again? A little. But he got a lot of valuable experience last year after being thrown into the role. He will have the mindset of a closer this year as he knows he will be the go-to back-up.

09. Fifth starter: Kendrick or Moyer?  Does it really matter?

It matters a lot. Having a complete rotation will always matter. The Phillies have that too. Moyer will most likely start the season with only a couple chances to screw up. If he doesn’t get the job done then Kendrick is in. Kendrick earned himself a shot at starting but it was Moyer’s job to lose and he has pitched to deserve holding onto it for now.

10.  Better beard?  Werth, Park, or Bruntlett?

Werth’s by far. He had the Jesus-hair going with it. And with Easter around the corner, it’s so fitting.

11. Is Gload/Castro/Schneider better than Bako/Stairs/Bruntlett?  Yes/No? Why?

It’s much better. Schneider is a legit back-up and the confidence Charlie Manuel will have in him to play more will keep Carlos Ruiz fresh all year so he can be affective in the post season again. Gload is a better hitter than Matt Stairs all around. He’s actually another Greg Dobbs with a little more pop. Both he and Schneider will benefit in the Bank. Castro is a solid fielder and a better hitter than Bruntlett. In fact, anything is an upgrade in the hitting department compared to Bruntlett. Castro can play a lot of positions and will keep Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins fresh.

12.  Which current Phillie do you see making a speech at Cooperstown in the future?

No one anytime soon. They have future HOFers in Roy Halladay, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and possibly Jimmy Rollins and Jamie Moyer. Moyer could be the closest age-wise but he’s not a guarenteed future HOFer. The first three are all locks but have plenty of years left in them.

13. Which Phillies on the 2009 World Series team, not named Cliff Lee, do you think this team will miss the most?

JA Happ. He won’t be he same pitcher this year.

14.  With Placido Polanco switching from second base to third, what are your expectations regarding his defense?  How valuable is he to the Phillies lineup in the 2-hole?

He’ going to be fine at third. Some throws won’t be made but he’s a smart guy and won’t forc bad throws. He has good range and will be able to eat up balls that could get into the OF. As a hitter, he fills a hole Pedro Feliz left in the line up. He will also be a great 2-hitter seeing as he strikes out a lot less than Shane Victorino.

15. Who scares you the most in the NL East?  The NL?

The Braves in the division because it’s Bobby Cox’s las year and they have a good rotation to go wih a balanced offense. In the NL it’s easily the Cards as their 1-2 is the best in baseball. Also having the best player in baseball in Albert Pujols helps.

Howard Takes Stage Tonight

Before every all star game is the State Farm Home Run Derby. This year will feature another one of your Phillies stars in Ryan Howard. Howard is in his third derby, winning in 2006 and failing to get out of the first round in 2007. As the big story of the derby, Howard was born in St. Louis, the location of this year’s game and derby. He will have to win the hearts of the home crowd as he goes against home town hero Albert Pujols. The game will be on ESPN at 8 PM ET.

NL contestants:
Ryan Howard – Phillies – 22 HR
Albert Pujols – Cardinals – 32 HR
Prince Fielder – Brewers – 22 HR
Adrian Gonzalez – Padres – 24 HR

AL contestants:
Brandon Inge – Tigers – 21 HR
Carlos Pena – Rays – 24 HR
Joe Mauer – Twins – 15 HR
Nelson Cruz – Rangers – 22 HR

My predictions:
Pujols, Howard, Pena, and Cruz will advance.
Pujols over Howard in the Final.

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