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Last Build Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2008 18:48:21 UTC

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Check out lehighvalleylive.com

Fri, 18 Jul 2008 18:47:28 UTC

2008-07-18T18:48:21Z

Nick Fierro's blog has moved to lehighvalleylive.com. Find new posts here.

Nick Fierro's blog has moved to lehighvalleylive.com. Find new posts here.




Phils flip Swindle, Bisenius

Sun, 13 Jul 2008 16:00:29 UTC

2008-07-13T16:41:25Z

The only good thing about getting sent back to Triple-A this morning was that it will give left-hander R.J. Swindle an extra day's rest during the all-star break before he rejoins the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in time for their doubleheader against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday. A disappointed Swindle departed Citizens Bank Park this morning after some words of encouragement from Phillies...

The only good thing about getting sent back to Triple-A this morning was that it will give left-hander R.J. Swindle an extra day's rest during the all-star break before he rejoins the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in time for their doubleheader against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Thursday.

A disappointed Swindle departed Citizens Bank Park this morning after some words of encouragement from Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee.

"He just said to go back down there, work hard and keep your head up, keep throwing it like I've been doing and figure out what I need to do to have success up here," Swindle said. "

In three appearances, Swindle had an earned run average of 7.71. He gave up nine hits, including two home runs, and two walks in 4 2/3 innings.

Right-hander Joe Bisenius was called up from the IronPigs to take Swindle's place.

I'll have more about this latest roster in tomorrow's Express-Times.




Happ out, Cervenak in for Phillies

Thu, 10 Jul 2008 16:41:10 UTC

2008-07-10T17:35:47Z

The morning after left-hander J.A. Happ gave the Phillies 6 1/3 strong innings to help them beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-2, the Phillies sent him back to the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs and have promoted IronPigs utility player Mike Cervenak to take his place on the roster. On the surface, it seems like an odd move. But logistically, it...

The morning after left-hander J.A. Happ gave the Phillies 6 1/3 strong innings to help them beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 4-2, the Phillies sent him back to the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs and have promoted IronPigs utility player Mike Cervenak to take his place on the roster.

On the surface, it seems like an odd move. But logistically, it makes all the sense in the world.

Because of the upcoming all-star break, the Phillies won't need a fifth starter for almost another two weeks. In the meantime, they almost certainly could use another right-handed bat off the bench, especially with the way the lineup has been slumping.

Happ likely will be brought back to make at least one more start before Brett Myers, who also is back in the minors, is ready to rejoin the rotation later this month.

In the meantime, this is the first call to the majors for the 31-year-old Cervenak, who went 2-for-4 with two RBIs last night for the IronPigs in a 10-3 loss to Louisville. Cervenak is batting .310 with 52 RBIs and has been selected for the Triple-A all-star game next week.

Reached by phone in his car on the way back to Allentown, Happ said he understood the move and hoped to be back for another start.

"I'm almost back home and so I've had a lot of time to think," he said, "and the only thing I can say is that I don't have any control over it and I just have to do my best to get back."

As disappointed as he was for himself, he was thrilled to hear Cervenak was getting the call.

"Really, it's Cervy? I didn't know what they were doing, I just knew they were going to try to get an extra bat up there," he said. "I'm really happy for him. He seems like a guy who's proved himself over and over."




Rough outing for IronPigs' Benson

Wed, 09 Jul 2008 23:23:25 UTC

2008-07-10T02:14:06Z

Kris Benson's third Triple-A start has proved to be anything but the charm. The IronPigs' right-hander, who missed all of 2007 following rotator cuff surgery, was hit hard by the Louisville Bats, who won a 10-3 decision. In a four-run first inning, most of the damage was done by all-star catcher Ryan Hanigan's three-run home run to center field. That...

Kris Benson's third Triple-A start has proved to be anything but the charm.

The IronPigs' right-hander, who missed all of 2007 following rotator cuff surgery, was hit hard by the Louisville Bats, who won a 10-3 decision.

In a four-run first inning, most of the damage was done by all-star catcher Ryan Hanigan's three-run home run to center field. That came after a double by Michael Griffin, an RBI single by Kevin Barker and a double by Adam Rosales.

The Bats maintained that 4-0 lead here at Coca-Cola Park until the IronPigs broke through with two unearned runs in the third.

Mike Cervenak came through with the key hit: a two-out single that knocked in both runs following a single by T.J. Bohn, an error on a grounder hit by Brandon Watson and a walk by Joey Hammond.

But then the Bats struck for three more off Benson in the fourth, thanks to doubles by Hanigan and Paul Janish, a triple by Griffin and a single by Luis Bolivar.

Benson departed after the fourth. He allowed seven runs (all earned) on eight hits and no walks.




Bats come back to take commanding lead over IronPigs

Wed, 09 Jul 2008 00:08:05 UTC

2008-07-09T00:20:21Z

IronPigs left-hander Brian Mazone lost his perfect game, no-hitter, shutout and lead with one third-inning pitch to Louisville Bats leadoff batter Brian Dickerson, who smoked a solo home run to right field that tied the game at 1-all. In the same inning, Mazone also gave up a two singles, two doubles, a walk, and a sacrifice fly that put the...

IronPigs left-hander Brian Mazone lost his perfect game, no-hitter, shutout and lead with one third-inning pitch to Louisville Bats leadoff batter Brian Dickerson, who smoked a solo home run to right field that tied the game at 1-all.

In the same inning, Mazone also gave up a two singles, two doubles, a walk, and a sacrifice fly that put the Bats ahead 5-1.

The IronPigs had jumped ahead in the top of the third when Rich Thompson singled to right field following a triple by Brandon Watson. Thompson was thrown out, though, after making a too-aggressive turn at first.




Myers getting a lot of glove from IronPigs

Mon, 07 Jul 2008 23:42:49 UTC

2008-07-08T11:12:46Z

IronPigs pitcher Brett Myers has given up just one run through the first three innings here at Coca-Cola Park, thanks to some timely plays in the field that have kept the damage at a minimum. In the first, Myers snagged a one-hopper by Aaron Herr to start an inning-ending double play. And in the third, right fielder Jon Knott deprived...

IronPigs pitcher Brett Myers has given up just one run through the first three innings here at Coca-Cola Park, thanks to some timely plays in the field that have kept the damage at a minimum.

In the first, Myers snagged a one-hopper by Aaron Herr to start an inning-ending double play.

And in the third, right fielder Jon Knott deprived leadoff man Chris Dickerson of at least a double with a sprinting catch of a tracer hit toward the corner. The inning ended with third baseman Mike Cervenak catching a line drive by Herr that also might have gone for extra bases had it made it through.




Walrond dominant in IronPigs win

Sun, 06 Jul 2008 22:38:19 UTC

2008-07-07T00:04:10Z

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs just completed a 2-0 triumph over the Louisville Bats behind a complete-game, 17-strikeout performance by left-hander Les Walrond here at Coca-Cola Park. A first-inning RBI single by third baseman Mike Cervenak and a third-inning RBI groundout by second baseman Oscar Robles accounted for all the scoring. Walrond took care of the rest, throwing first-pitch strikes to...

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs just completed a 2-0 triumph over the Louisville Bats behind a complete-game, 17-strikeout performance by left-hander Les Walrond here at Coca-Cola Park.

A first-inning RBI single by third baseman Mike Cervenak and a third-inning RBI groundout by second baseman Oscar Robles accounted for all the scoring.

Walrond took care of the rest, throwing first-pitch strikes to 27 of the 33 batters he faced in his most impressive performance of the season.

He was rewarded with a shaving cream pie to the face in the dugout for his effort immediately after.




Happ off the hook for the Phils

Fri, 04 Jul 2008 23:21:53 UTC

2008-07-05T01:47:37Z

Lehigh Valley IronPigs call-up J.A. Happ had a much better experience against the New York Mets this time with the Philadelphia Phillies. After failing to make it out of the fifth inning in his only previous major league start -- also against the Mets -- last season, the left-hander headed into the fifth inning of tonight's rematch as the...

(image) Philadelphia Phillies' J.A. Happ throws in the second inning of today's game against the New York Mets in Philadelphia.
Lehigh Valley IronPigs call-up J.A. Happ had a much better experience against the New York Mets this time with the Philadelphia Phillies.

After failing to make it out of the fifth inning in his only previous major league start -- also against the Mets -- last season, the left-hander headed into the fifth inning of tonight's rematch as the author of a one-hit shutout. He finished the fourth with back-to-back strikeouts of Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado.

Although Happ again failed to make it out out of the fifth, he left after giving up only two runs in the fifth and kept the Phillies in the game. Three walks in that inning proved to be his downfall, including one issued to David Wright with the bases loaded and two out. Wright prevailed in a sensational nine-pitch duel by fouling off three pitches with two strikes.

Happ's final line was 4 2/3 innings, three hits, four walks and two earned runs. He struck out three.

Happ departed as the pitcher of record in a 2-0 deficit, but the Phillies have since tied it, meaning he will not be involved in the decision.

Despite running deep counts and constantly falling behind hitters, Happ held his own through the first two innings, keeping the Mets off the scoreboard despite giving up a walk (to leadoff batter Joe Reyes), a stolen base (to Reyes) and a single (to Ramon Castro in the second).

Meanwhile, the Phillies came within inches of taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the inning, when Mets starter Johan Santana snared a sharp grounder headed up the middle hit by Ryan Howard with Jayson Werth on third base. Santana was able to flip to first baseman Carlos Delgado to end the threat.

Santana did not even allow another baserunner until Howard singled with two outs in the bottom of the fourth.




IronPigs game is suspended

Fri, 04 Jul 2008 02:42:15 UTC

2008-07-04T02:57:42Z

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs were seven innings away from their first victory over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees this season when the umpires decided to suspend the game due to rain before the start of the third inning with the IronPigs holding a 1-0 lead. Jon Knott had provided the offense with a home run in the second inning, and all-star left-hander...

The Lehigh Valley IronPigs were seven innings away from their first victory over the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees this season when the umpires decided to suspend the game due to rain before the start of the third inning with the IronPigs holding a 1-0 lead.

Jon Knott had provided the offense with a home run in the second inning, and all-star left-hander Brian Mazone was pitching a shutout at the time.

The suspension means the teams must complete the game the next time they are scheduled to meet. That happens to be during a four-game series that begins here at Coca-Cola Park on July 17.

International League rules mandate suspended games be completed on the first date the teams next meet, but the league might make an exception in this case because of the Triple-A All-Star game the night before.

No announcement has been made on when the game will be completed.




IronPigs Trading Places

Thu, 03 Jul 2008 23:52:32 UTC

2008-07-04T00:10:39Z

Left-handers J.A. Happ and R.J. Swindle will be trading places tomorrow. Swindle, the Lehigh Valley IronPig who was promoted yesterday to the Phillies when right-hander Brett Myers was optioned to Lehigh Valley, is expected to be sent back to the IronPigs tomorrow when Happ shows up at Citizens Bank to start tomorrow night's game against the New York Mets and...

Left-handers J.A. Happ and R.J. Swindle will be trading places tomorrow.

Swindle, the Lehigh Valley IronPig who was promoted yesterday to the Phillies when right-hander Brett Myers was optioned to Lehigh Valley, is expected to be sent back to the IronPigs tomorrow when Happ shows up at Citizens Bank to start tomorrow night's game against the New York Mets and Johan Santana.

Happ learned he would be going back to the Phillies, for whom he made one start for last season, just a few hours ago.

"I know better than to get really excited until it's official," Happ said. "I've been around too long for that. But it's definitely exciting news."

Happ is 5-6 with a 3.54 earned average at Triple-A this season. Swindle was 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA at the time of his promotion.

Although Phillies assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle, who was at Coca-Cola Park again today, would not say Swindle was definitely coming back, he did confirm that the Phillies have no plans to place Clay Condrey, who was absent from the team yesterday to be with his wife for the berth of their son, or Tom Gordon on the disabled list.

"You can figure it out," said Arbuckle, who said an official announcement would be coming from the Phillies later tonight.




Myers uneven in first start with IronPigs

Wed, 02 Jul 2008 23:18:27 UTC

2008-07-03T02:00:55Z

Maybe the move away from the spotlight of the major leagues to the relative obscurity of Triple-A will be exactly the kind of thing that straightens struggling right-hander Brett Myers out. Myers pitched four mostly trouble-free innings on Wednesday night for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in an International League game against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees -- before a leadoff walk and... Maybe the move away from the spotlight of the major leagues to the relative obscurity of Triple-A will be exactly the kind of thing that straightens struggling right-hander Brett Myers out. Myers pitched four mostly trouble-free innings on Wednesday night for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in an International League game against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees -- before a leadoff walk and some sloppy play in the fifth enabled the Yankees to push three runs across the plate and erase a 1-0 deficit. The Yankees went on to record a 5-3 victory. Myers gave up three hits in the fifth. Greg Porter and Chris Basak came through with RBI singles before Myers gave up a third run on a wild pitch in an inning that also featured a passed ball and a throwing error by catcher Jason Jaramillo. Myers was removed after that, having thrown 100 pitches, 60 for strikes. He struck out six and walked two while giving up five hits. "I had fun tonight," Myers said. "I had fun being around (IronPigs pitching coach) Rod (Nichols) and the guys. It was a relaxed atmosphere. "... I feel better. I've still got a couple of (bullpen sessions) with these guys and then we'll see the next time out, but I felt better tonight." Myers' six strikeouts were achieved mostly with a curve that's still devastating. Still, he would have preferred not throwing it as much. "I just couldn't throw my splitter for strikes or get the guys to swing at it, so I had to throw the curve more," Myers said. "But there was definitely some improvement. My velocity was a little better." His first inning featured a four-pitch walk (issued to No. 3 batter Juan Miranda) and an infield single (by cleanup hitter Jason Lane) but ultimately no runs, which might have been the most encouraging sign of all. Myers has struggled more in the first inning than any other. He threw 17 pitches, eight for strikes, with a best fastball that hit 91 miles per hour. After that, Myers allowed just one baserunner (a leadoff double by Eric Duncan in the second) until walking J.D. Closser in the fifth. But by the end of his five-inning stint, the stadium's pitching speed detection device had been turned off. Myers also can forget about moving back to the Phillies' bullpen. That just isn't part of the Phillies' thinking at the moment, according to assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle, who spoke to reporters a few hours before the game. Arbuckle also said the Phillies are counting on a return to form soon by their opening-day starter. Contingency plans for what will happen if he doesn't straighten himself out during this minor league assignment haven't been discussed. "To me, that's thinking in a negative vein," Arbuckle said. "And our purpose right now is to come in here and help him get back on track, and we believe he's going to do that." Myers, 27, accepted an assignment to the minors in an effort to correct some of the flaws he's developed since moving back into the Phillies' starting rotation after ending last season as their closer. Myers was 3-9 with a 5.84 earned run average in 14 starts with the Phillies before his demotion. The quality of his pitches as well as his pitch selection have been issues. Arbuckle and the Phillies believe both problems can be overcome easier in an environment where Myers doesn't have to worry about his team being in a pennant race. Furthermore, [...]



Brett Myers is coming to the Lehigh Valley

Tue, 01 Jul 2008 21:01:19 UTC

2008-07-02T03:11:59Z

Brett Myers, the Phillies' opening-day starter, will pitch for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs Wednesday night after agreeing to a minor league assignment. The 27-year-old right-hander had the option to decline the assignment because he had five-plus service years in the majors. "I can't say enough about Brett's willingness to accept this assignment," Phillies general manager Pat Gillick said in...

(image) Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Brett Myers throws to the Los Angeles Angels in the first inning of a June 21 game in Philadelphia.
Brett Myers, the Phillies' opening-day starter, will pitch for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs Wednesday night after agreeing to a minor league assignment.

The 27-year-old right-hander had the option to decline the assignment because he had five-plus service years in the majors.

"I can't say enough about Brett's willingness to accept this assignment," Phillies general manager Pat Gillick said in a prepared statement. "He understood and is eager to get back on track again. He is struggling right now, but he is a quality major league pitcher who we are going to need in the second half of the season."

"The idea was something that (assistant GM) Ruben (Amaro), manager Charlie (Manuel), (pitching coach Rich (Dubee) and I talked about the last couple of days," Gillick said. "We just felt it was the best situation for Brett. This way he can continue being a starting pitcher. We discussed it with Brett and his agent and we all came to a meeting of the minds."

Myers will start against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

"How many starts he will make there is something we'll monitor," said Gillick, who added that the team will decide Wednesday on his roster replacement.

Myers this season is 3-9 with a 5.84 ERA in 17 starts. He's allowed 24 home runs in 101 2/3 innings.




Mixed results for Benson

Sun, 29 Jun 2008 17:46:14 UTC

2008-06-30T04:42:07Z

Although the Syracuse Chiefs put four runs on the board against right-hander Kris Benson in his first Triple-A start today, the Phillies at least have to be encouraged with what they saw from him through the first three innings. Benson left after four full innings with the IronPigs trailing, 4-2. In the first inning, Benson allowed only a slow-rolling infield...

Although the Syracuse Chiefs put four runs on the board against right-hander Kris Benson in his first Triple-A start today, the Phillies at least have to be encouraged with what they saw from him through the first three innings.

Benson left after four full innings with the IronPigs trailing, 4-2.

In the first inning, Benson allowed only a slow-rolling infield single to leadoff batter Wayne Lydon, who stole second and was trying to steal third when Danny Sandoval grounded out to first base. Lydon just kept going toward the plate and made it.

The Chiefs did not get a ball out of the infield in the first against Benson, the major league veteran who was signed to a minor league contract by the Phillies in the offseason after missing all of 2007 with a rotator cuff injury.

The Chiefs did loft two fly balls in the second inning, but both were tracked down, including a spectacular running catch into the wall by center fielder T.J. Bohn on a ball hit by Kevin Melillo to end the inning.

A leadoff double down the line by Russ Adams in the third led to the second Chiefs run, which came after he was bunted to third and Lydon lofted a sacrifice fly to center.

Benson encountered his first real jam in the fourth, when Sandoval blooped a single into center and Mench followed by ripping a double. They scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Watson and and single by Hector Luna, respectively.

Benson left after four innings and 73 pitches, including 49 strikes. He gave up five hits and no walks while striking out one.

Furthermore, his best fastball hit 93 miles per hour on the stadium's radar device. That's about as hard as Benson ever threw before any of the litany of injuries that have hampered his career.

The IronPigs kept pace for three innings, thanks in large part to Oscar Robles. Robles slammed a solo home run in the first and grounded an opposite-field single down the line to knock in another run in the second.

Benson's career major league stats can be found here.




IronPigs win four in a row for first time

Sat, 28 Jun 2008 23:59:31 UTC

2008-06-29T12:23:58Z

Brennan King's sacrifice fly in the eighth inning lifted the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to a 2-1 International League victory over the Syracuse Chiefs here at Coca-Cola Park, giving the host team its first ever four-game winning streak. An RBI single by designated hitter Andy Tracy in the first inning and a shutout through the first five innings by left-hander J.A....

Brennan King's sacrifice fly in the eighth inning lifted the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to a 2-1 International League victory over the Syracuse Chiefs here at Coca-Cola Park, giving the host team its first ever four-game winning streak. An RBI single by designated hitter Andy Tracy in the first inning and a shutout through the first five innings by left-hander J.A. Happ set up the victory.

They had a chance to score more in the second, too, but catcher Jason Jaramillo was thrown out at home on a single by Brandon Watson to end the inning.

Happ departed after 7 2/3 innings, having given up just one run on five hits and two walks. He struck out five. But the win went to reliever Stephen Randolph.




Greatest play ever in IronPigs victory?

Sat, 28 Jun 2008 00:52:35 UTC

2008-06-28T02:10:02Z

IronPigs center fielder T.J. Bohn made what major league veteran pitcher-turned-broadcaster Ricky Bottalico called the "greatest play I've ever seen" here at Coca-Cola Park against the Syracuse Chiefs. And it proved to be the turning point in a 10-2 IronPigs victory. With one out and a runner on base in the top of the fifth inning, Chiefs cleanup hitter Kevin...

IronPigs center fielder T.J. Bohn made what major league veteran pitcher-turned-broadcaster Ricky Bottalico called the "greatest play I've ever seen" here at Coca-Cola Park against the Syracuse Chiefs.

And it proved to be the turning point in a 10-2 IronPigs victory.

With one out and a runner on base in the top of the fifth inning, Chiefs cleanup hitter Kevin Mench lofted a routine fly to left field. Brandon Watson drifted in and appeared to be poised to make the catch until he threw up his hands to signal he had no idea where it was. (IronPigs fans now must accept this as routine for this ballpark, in which fly balls get lost in the twilight all the time.)

Only just as the ball was about to drop around 15 feet behind him. Bohn, who was racing across the field to back up Watson, made a diving catch.

When the inning ended without the Chiefs scoring, IronPigs pitcher Brian Mazone hugged Bohn as they came off the field.

Naturally, Bohn followed that up in the bottom of the inning by lofting a solo home run over the center field fence to give his team an 8-2 advantage.