Halladay Kicks Off Wrigley Series, Plus Other Exciting Tidbits

Halladay Kicks Off Wrigley Series, Plus Other Exciting Tidbits

CHICAGO -- Phillies fans are out in force at Wrigley Field this week.

Stopping into the local drinking establishment Cubby Bear across the street prior to the game, Phils fans dominated the place. It was, however, 2:30 in the afternoon. So perhaps Philadelphians are just more into day drinking? Or unemployed/on vacation. Either way, they'll be both plentiful and vocal over the next few days in the Windy City.

Roy Halladay (11-3, 2.45) takes on former Phillie Rodrigo Lopez (1-2, 4.02) in the first of the three game set.

Lopez
appeared in seven games for the Phillies in 2009 and actually made five
starts, earning three wins despite a 5.70 ERA in 30.0 innings of work. Lopez got off to a hot start to his short stint with the World Series bound Fightins, but couldn't press his luck successfully and was eventually let go to make room for one Pedro Martinez.

Roy Halladay's career with the Phillies has gone a little bit better.

Charlie Manuel's thoughts on what the team should add prior to the trade deadline as well as Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco injury updates below. Plus a Sarge Matthews sighting.

Tonight's Phillies lineup: Jimmy
Rollins, Michael Martinez, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez,
Carlos Ruiz, Dom Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Roy Hallday

Bullpen Help or a Right-handed Bat

With the trade deadline inching closer, Charlie Manuel was asked before the game whether he believed the team could use more, another reliable arm in the pen or a right-handed bat. One thing in his response was clear, if the Phils are going to add a piece, he wants it to be an upgrade.

"I think we can definitely use a reliever, I think without a doubt, but we could also use a good bat. And when I say a reliever or a bat, I'm talking about a *good* one," Manuel said. "If we can find a good bat and we don't find a good reliever, then we take the good bat. If we gonna get somebody, I want somebody good. I want somebody that is going to help us. I don't to get what we already got."

So Charlie's thinking big?

"I always think big."

Vic Update

Shane Victorino chatted before the game and says that he expects to play tomorrow but added that there will continue to be discomfort in his thumb. He says he doesn't believe it's anything that will get worse, but added that when he swings the bat, particularly left-handed, that getting jammed certainly can generate discomfort.

Charlie Manuel added that he'll wait and see Vic get evaluated after he took batting practice and worked out this evening before making any decisions on whether Shane will be activated for tomorrow.

Shane, talking about the infamous beer throwing incident from 2009 at Wrigley, joked before the game about wearing a beer helmet out to the outfield this week.

Polly Outlook Not As Promising

Placido Polanco is not progressing as quickly, and will likely need a cortisone shot in his back. Jim Salisbury has more on that.

*

Here's a random shot of Sarge Matthews this afternoon in Chicago. He just happened to be walking by as I was trying to take a picture of the iconic Wrigley sign:

Best of MLB: Trout's 16th home run guides Angels past Marlins

Best of MLB: Trout's 16th home run guides Angels past Marlins

MIAMI -- Mike Trout hit his major league-leading 16th homer, and the Los Angeles Angels reached the .500 mark for the 12th time this season by beating Miami 5-2 Saturday.

Trout's first-inning homer into the beer garden in left field was estimated at 443 feet, which pleased a fair portion of the crowd at Marlins Park.

"Hate Fish Love Trout," read a sign held by an Angels fans.

J.C. Ramirez (5-3) limited Miami to an unearned run in seven innings and benefited from excellent defense. Bud Norris, who tweaked his right knee and left Friday's game after throwing only three pitches, gave up a homer to Marcell Ozuna in the ninth (see full recap).

Strasburg K's career-high 15, Nats down Padres 3-0
WASHINGTON -- Stephen Strasburg dominated San Diego with a career-high 15 strikeouts while allowing three hits over seven innings as the Washington Nationals beat the Padres 3-0 on Saturday.

Strasburg (6-1) singled and scored Washington's first run on Bryce Harper's RBI grounder in the third inning. Michael A. Taylor hit a two-run homer for the second consecutive game.

San Diego's lineup offered little resistance against Strasburg the day after Max Scherzer dominated the Padres with 13 strikeouts in Washington's 5-1 win.

Strasburg struck out the side in the third and sixth and had at least two in the first six innings.

The right-hander previously struck out 14 batters twice including his Major League debut on June 8, 2010. He set a personal best by setting down Franchy Cordero in the seventh (see full recap).

Yankees held hitless into 6th by Cotton, but beat A's 3-2
NEW YORK -- Oakland rookie Jharel Cotton held the Yankees hitless until Matt Holliday launched a two-run homer with two outs in the sixth inning that sent resurgent CC Sabathia and New York to a 3-2 victory Saturday.

Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge was in the right spot for a pair of key catches to boost the AL East leaders, who won with just two hits.

Sabathia (5-2) has won three straight starts for the first time since April 2013. The 36-year-old lefty pitched into the seventh and struck out nine.

Dellin Betances escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth, an inning that included the ejections of A's hitter Jed Lowrie and manager Bob Melvin for arguing strike three calls. Betances closed for his fifth save.

Cotton (3-5) was promoted from Triple-A Nashville before the game. He began the season in the Athletics' rotation but was sent down to the minors May 11 to refine his game (see full recap).

Bautista hits 3-run HR, Blue Jays beat Rangers 3-1
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista hit a three-run homer that backed Marco Estrada, and the Toronto Blue Bays beat the Texas Rangers 3-1 Saturday and matched their longest winning streak this season at five.

Shin-soo Choo homered into the center-field party deck on the first pitch of the game from Marco Estrada, but Bautista hit a two-out drive in the fifth, his eighth home run in May after one in April.

Estrada (4-2) allowed four hits in six innings to win for the third time in four starts. Aaron Loup got one out in the seventh, Ryan Tepera finished the inning and Joe Smith worked the eighth. Roberto Osuna threw a perfect ninth for his ninth save, completing a six-hitter.

Darvish (5-3) gave up three runs and five hits in six innings. He had been 4-0 with a 2.54 ERA in six starts since losing April 18 at Oakland. Texas has lost five in a row for the first time this year (see full recap).

Reliever Joaquin Benoit gives manager Mackanin a thumbs-up for calling team meeting

Reliever Joaquin Benoit gives manager Mackanin a thumbs-up for calling team meeting

Pete Mackanin gave his team an earful after it lost for the 21st time in 26 games Friday night.
 
Reliever Joaquin Benoit thought it was a good idea.
 
And he believes it had an impact.
 
The Phillies reported for work on Saturday and beat the Cincinnati Reds, 4-3, on Tommy Joseph's walk-off hit in the ninth (see game story).
 
"It always helps when the manager comes and talks about different situations and the things we need to do," said Benoit, a 39-year-old veteran in his 17th big-league season. "It always helps. It shows that everybody cares on the whole team and it's a wake-up call for everybody."
 
While Joseph was the ultimate hero for the Phillies on Saturday, Benoit and his mates in the bullpen weren't far behind. Edubray Ramos, Pat Neshek, Benoit and Hector Neris combined on 3 2/3 scoreless innings to help put Joseph in a position to win it in the ninth.
 
Not long ago, the Phillies' bullpen was having big problems, giving up big hits and posting big ERA numbers.
 
But over the last five games, the bullpen has racked up a string of scoreless innings that numbers 19 2/3. That scoreless streak has lowered the bullpen's overall ERA from 4.82 to 4.23, not great, but better and moving in the right direction.
 
"I believe that we are going good, taking advantage of the situation," Benoit said. "I think we are being more consistent in the strike zone and getting ahead. That translates to zeroes."
 
Benoit had been critical of Mackanin for not having his relievers in set roles. The manager responded by saying it was difficult to give guys set roles when they were pitching poorly.
 
Performances are improving.

And roles are now emerging.
 
"I believe everything is going well for us and I believe everyone is where they are supposed to be," Benoit said.
 
Benoit took some pride in Saturday's win. He has pitched seven straight scoreless innings.
 
"Every win is a step forward," he said.
 
No matter how many steps this Phillies team takes forward, it will not be a contender this season. It has dug itself a huge hole and it wasn't expected to contend anyway. It is a rebuilding team.
 
But Benoit will likely pitch for a contender later this season. He is expected to be dealt to a contender in July. Who knows what he will bring back, but his value will only go up if he can keep putting up zeroes.
 
Neshek, too. He has allowed just two runs in 18 2/3 innings. He has 15 strikeouts and just three walks.
 
While it's not clear how long Benoit will be here, he believes this Phillies team has weathered the worst and is ready for a turnaround.
 
"It's tough when you are losing," he said. "When you start winning and you do the little things, I believe everything can change.
 
"I'm the kind of guy who likes to start over from zero so everything that happens is in the past and you start over from scratch and let's see where everything goes from now on."