Feedback Needed: Game Threads

Going into the season, we decided adding game threads for every game would be a great way to get more of you involved. There appeared to be a good amount of interest in April, but as the season went on, the participation waned. Last night’s game thread had less than ten responses, perhaps the ultimate justification of the 90-9-1 rule. However, The Good Phight’s thread had over 500 responses for the same game. Not that we’re competing, but 534-10 is very imbalanced and indicates that we could be doing better. The threads tend to have life when I am participating, but I can’t always be in front of my laptop while watching the game, and they should be self-sustaining anyway.

As a result, we are discontinuing the game threads and Cover It Live chats until further notice.  However, we want your feedback on what you liked and didn’t like about the game threads. What would get you to participate on a regular basis? Feel free to leave feedback on anything else about the blog as well. We can’t improve without your constructive criticism.

Nationals-Phillies Game Thread 5/18/12

The battle for first place begins! Or whatever place the Phillies and Nationals are battling for nowadays. Either way, we get three games against a division rival, one of which will be the Wednesday night game on ESPN, so you out-of-market folks can take in Cole Hamels and Edwin Jackson. Apparently the Phillies and Nationals are bitter enemies now, so everyone’s going to throw batteries at Bryce Harper, who, I’m told, has done something to anger Phillies fans. Or something.

But tonight has its own big news–Jimmy Rollins had a baby last night, so he won’t be in the lineup tonight while doctors struggle to solve that little bit of procreational weirdness. No doubt the Phillies will shoot the baby full of cortisone and then shoo Bob Brookover out of the hospital like a drunken recluse chasing the neighbors’ kids out of his backyard. The resulting lineup shuffling moves Freddy Galvis over to short and gives Mike Fontenot his first start with the Phillies. Given how much folks around here seem to like dudes with French last names and uniform numbers ending in 8, Fontenot should do fine.

Lineups

Washington

Phillies

Red Sox-Phillies Game Thread 5/18/12

Inter-league play is back, rejoice, rejoice. It’s a battle of Eastern division cellar-dwellers as the 18-20 glass cannon Red Sox have arrived in Philadelphia for a three-game set. The Phillies are on a roll, having won their last five games, surpassing the .500 mark for the first time since Opening Day. The Red Sox had a five-game winning streak recently come to an end, but they’ve won six of seven after losing eight of nine.

Calling the Red Sox a “glass cannon” refers to their wholly offensive approach — they rank second in the American League, averaging 5.4 runs per game, and they also rank second-last with 5.1 runs allowed per game. As a result, they play a lot of high-scoring games, which couldn’t be any more the opposite for the Phillies. Although the offense has come alive recently, they have scored three or fewer runs in 18 of 39 games. Tonight’s pitching match-up epitomizes the two teams completely: reliever-turned-starter Daniel Bard (4.91 xFIP) opposes Cy Young candidate Cole Hamels (2.89).

Lineups

Red Sox

Phillies

Phillies-Cubs Game Thread 5/17/12

The Phillies used more of their late-game magic to turn a game headed to extra innings into an old-fashioned rout in Chicago last night. They scored seven runs in the eighth and ninth innings en route to winning 9-2, continuing what has been an interesting trend so far this season. 44 percent of the Phillies’ runs have come in innings 7-9 (most in the league), compared to 27 percent in innings 1-3 and 29 percent in innings 4-6. Carlos Ruiz hit a solo home run in the eighth to break a 2-2 tie and Hector Luna‘s ninth-inning grand slam put the Phillies up 9-2.

Their victory last night allowed the Phillies to move to .500 for the first time since May 3 and, with Roy Halladay starting tonight, they have the chance to finally go over .500 for the first time since Opening Day. If having a two-time Cy Young winner on the mound wasn’t enough, Halladay will be opposed by Chris Volstad, a pitcher the Phillies have always hit with great ease. Over his career, Volstad has allowed 18 home runs to Phillies batters, 11 more than the second-most he’s allowed (Braves, Nationals). Among teams he has racked at least 40 innings against, his 5.89 Phillies ERA is also easily the worst.

Lineups

Phillies

Cubs

Phillies-Cubs Game Thread 5/16/12

The Phillies travel for a quick two-game road trip in Chicago before heading back home for their first inter-league series with the Boston Red Sox. It’s an odd bit of scheduling that will also end their season series with the Cubs, perhaps thankfully so. The Cubs took two of three from the Phillies at the end of April, outscoring them 10-2 in their two victories behind starters Paul Maholm and Matt Garza. Garza (3.45 xFIP) is back on the bump tonight, opposing right-hander Kyle Kendrick (5.35), now filling in for the injured Vance Worley. The Phillies are currently on their first three-game winning streak of the season and have made it all the way back to one game under .500. A short series sweep would take them over .500 for the first time since Opening Day.

Lineups

Phillies

Cubs

Astros-Phillies Game Thread 5/14/12

The Phillies haven’t won back-to-back games since April 30-May 1, but they will attempt to do just that tonight against the surprisingly not-incredibly-awful Houston Astros. At 15-19, the Astros are just a half-game behind the Phillies record-wise and have had limited success behind a very productive infield. Rookie Jose Altuve has been the team’s best hitter, posting a .323 batting average and a .370 on-base percentage with five steals in six attempts. Shortstop Jed Lowrie has shown to be quite good at the plate, but has become known as injury-prone. And then there’s third baseman Chris Johnson, who had a down year in 2011 after hitting .308 in 2010. Although he is hitting for a high average, he has a strikeout-to-walk ratio in excess of six-to-one, which doesn’t forbode well.

Tonight, Lucas Harrell will oppose Joe Blanton. Harrell has over 760 innings spanning seven seasons in the Minors, but a strong finish to the 2011 season with Triple-A Oklahoma City earned him a rotation spot. He has always had some control problems and hasn’t shown much of an ability to miss bats at the Major League level. However, the Phillies were recently held to two runs by Jeff Suppan (2.3 K/9 in three starts) yesterday, so you never know. In Blanton’s last start, he regressed a bit, walking three batters in six and two-thirds innings of work against the New York Mets after walking exactly zero in his previous two starts spanning 16 and one-third innings.

Lineups

Astros

Phillies

Padres-Phillies Game Thread 5/11/12

These guys again. Following last month’s split of a 4 game series, the Padres (11-21) roll into Philadelphia for an NL cellar-dweller face off. The Phillies (14-18), needless to say, have seen better days. Along with bullpen problems, they’ve slogged through injuries, defensive kinks, and offensive woes on the way to assembling a miserable start to the 2012 season. The Phillies have not begun the season 14-18 since 2007, and they’ve not begun the season worse than that since 2002.

All of this prompted manager Charlie Manuel to call the vaunted closed-door meeting, but a simple glance at the roster is enough to raise doubts that this is anything but a simple personnel problem — a problem which is unlikely to be helped by the call ups of relievers Raul Valdes and Jake Diekman, and utility man Hector Luna. The former two are likely innings fodder for a struggling bullpen, and the latter hasn’t had more than 100 plate appearances in the majors since Pinochet last drew breath.

The Phillies are at least on the favorable side of the pitching match-ups in their next attempt to get the season on track. Tonight, right-hander Vance Worley (3.45 SIERA in 2012) goes against Clayton Richard (4.22). Worley’s April 19th start in San Diego was one of the best of his young career; he threw 7 innings of scoreless ball and struck out 11 Padres. Tomorrow, Roy Halladay (3.52), fresh off a very good comeback start, meets former Red Edinson Volquez (4.14), acquired by the Padres in the Mat Latos deal. And on Sunday, Cole Hamels (2.55), currently sporting 44 strikeouts to just 6 walks, takes on Jeff Suppan (4.48) in a 1:35 PM start. Jeff Suppan! Ha! Life.

Lineups

Padres

Phillies

Mets-Phillies Game Thread 5/9/12

No matter what, the Phillies cannot possibly lose tonight in as absurd and forehead-palm-slapping a manner as they have done the past two nights. But let’s not dwell on that. Cliff Lee is back, folks! And he’s once again pitted against his orthographic archnemesis, Mets righthander Dillon Gee. With that said, I’d just as soon bat Lee seventh as Brian Schneider or El Falcon, Freddy Galvis.

The Mets, like the Phillies, counter with a lineup that shows nothing but the utmost contempt for anyone unfortunate enough to watch this game, with Scott Hairston in the cleanup spot and a man named Vinny Rottino (who sounds like he’d be delicious with a side of Tom Gorzelanny) playing left field. Also in the lineup is former University of Southern California quarterback Rob Johnson, who was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo to replace starting catcher Josh Thole, who was KTFO by Ty Wigginton two days ago. I could have sworn he left the Bills for Tampa Bay years ago, but I’ll admit I’m not as up on my NFL news as a used to be. Between Rottino, Johnson, and Gee, Terry Collins submits for your approval a lineup, fully a third of which has yet to run the bases this season.

Speaking of Wigginton, he, along with Laynce Nix and Carlos Ruiz, are all shaking off minor injuries and will be withheld from the game. Matt Gelb of the Inquirer has the details here, in case you were wondering why the Phillies’ lineup tonight resembles the opening credits of Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation more than it usually does.

Lineups

Mets

Phillies

Mets-Phillies Game Thread 5/8/12

The Phillies haven’t won consecutive games in over a week and they haven’t been above .500 since Opening Day. After last night’s crushing loss on Jordany Valdespin‘s three-run ninth-inning home run, the Phillies will try to get back on their winning ways once again tonight. If ever there was a night for it, it is tonight as the Phillies will oppose the struggling 41-year-old Miguel Batista. The veteran right-hander has operated as a swing man in the Mets’ bullpen and will be making his second start of the season tonight. In 13 innings thus far, he has struck out 11 and walked 13, making for hilarious strikeout and walk rates. Batista will be opposed by Joe Blanton, coming off his best start as a Phillie last Thursday in Atlanta. In fact, Blanton is on a bit of a roll as he has not walked a batter in either of his previous two starts while striking out 14 in 16 and one-third innings.

Lineups

Mets

Phillies

Mets-Phillies Game Thread 5/7/12

From one sizzling rivalry to one simmering rivalry. The Phillies return home to welcome the 15-13 New York Mets, a once-bitter rival. Since 2007, when the Phillies overcame the Mets’ seven-game division lead with 17 games left to play in the regular season — proving Jimmy Rollins‘ pre-season “team to beat” comment correct — the two teams had been at war. However, after the 2009 season when the Phillies had followed up their World Series championship with another Fall Classic appearance and the Mets followed up an 89-win ’08 season with a 70-92 finish, the rivalry lost its luster. The Mets’ financial issues made it hard even for Phillies fans to kick a team while it was down.

This year, though, the Mets finally match up well with the Phillies for the first time since ’07. David Wright is back as baseball’s premier third baseman, Johan Santana has overcome a significant shoulder injury, and an infusion of youth (Ruben Tejada, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Lucas Duda) has the Mets over .500, in third place in the NL East. Roy Halladay (3.59 xFIP) will open the series tonight, opposing Jonathan Niese (3.45).

Lineups

Mets

Phillies