The Philadelphia Phillies entered 2012 as one of the most feared teams in the National League during the past five seasons. Five NL East titles, two pennants, and a World Series title made the Phillies a dominant club in Major League Baseball. In 2011 the Phillies set a franchise record for wins in a single season with 102, yet the St. Louis Cardinals knocked them out in the NL Division Series.
Manager Charlie Manuel returned for his eighth season at the helm. Ryan Madson prepared to sign a four-year deal to remain as Philadelphia’s closer before deciding to head to the Cincinnati Reds. Jonathan Papelbon, the all-time saves leader for the Boston Red Sox, signed with the Phillies for four years at $50,000,058 (the $58 represents his jersey number).
Longtime veteran slugger Jim Thome signed a one-year contract for his second stint in Philadelphia. Laynce Nix signed as a free agent and Ty Wigginton came over in a trade. Even former Florida Marlins ace Dontrelle Willis signed with the Phillies but ultimately didn’t make his way to the big club.
First baseman Ryan Howard hurt himself while grounding into the final out of the 2011 NLDS and couldn’t return on the field for quite some time. Second baseman Chase Utley sustained an injury during spring training and started the season on the disabled list. The Phillies still had Harry Leroy Halladay III (known as Roy Halladay), Clifton Phifer Lee, and Cole Hamels as their top pitchers along with Kyle Kendrick, Vance Worley, and Joe Blanton. Oh by the way, the playoffs would feature the three division leaders and two Wild Card teams for the first time.
Philadelphia started the campaign with a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirate at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, PA. Manuel’s startling lineup involved shortstop Jimmy Rollins, Freddy Galvis making his major league debut as the second baseman, center-fielder Shane Victorino, Wigginton at first base, right-fielder Hunter Pence, left-fielder John Mayberry, Jr., third baseman Placido Polanco, and catcher Carlos Ruiz with Halladay on the mound. The Phillies won the first game, 1-0, but lost the next two contests.
An 11-12 April probably satisfied a team getting entertained more by injuries than on-the-field success. Lee once tossed 10 innings in a game at San Francisco before finding himself on the disabled list. Halladay and Hamels each won three games. Papelbon converted all eight save opportunities.
A 16-13 performance in May brought the Phillies to 27-25, three games out of the division lead. Lee came back from the disabled list but Halladay needed a minimum of three weeks rest with shoulder soreness. Nationals Park (D.C.) made attempts to limit ticket sales to Phillies fans after past series saw 80 percent of the stadium crowed with Phillies faithful. Papelbon notched six more saves and Hamels earned five additional wins.
June started with a win versus the Miami Marlins before dropping the next two games. In the next series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Phillies were swept in all four contests. The Phillies then won one-of-three against the Baltimore Orioles and two-of-three against the Minnesota Twins.
However, the Phillies would be swept by the Toronto Blue Jays, including when it looked like Lee would finally earn his first win of the season (the Phillies blew a 5–2 lead in extra inning). Then, the Phillies took two-of-three against the slumping Colorado Rockies. In the next series against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Phillies went 1-2 with the win coming when Thome hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth. The following series against thePittsburgh Pirates resulted in two wins and two defeats at Citizens Bank Park.
It wasn’t pretty in June as the Phillies ended the month by getting swept by the Marlins. By July 1, the Phillies were 11 games behind the first-place Nationals. Also, the Phillies traded Thome to the Orioles for minor leaguers Gabriel Lino and Kyle Simon.
Lee finally earned his first win of the season after 13 starts to begin July. The Phillies ended the first half by getting swept by the Atlanta. Philadelphia finished the first half at 37–50, its worst first-half record since 1997 (keep in mind, the Phillies lost 60 games in 2011).
After the All-Star break, the Phillies grabbed two-of-three from both the Rockies and Dodgers. Although they won one-of-three from San Francisco, the Phillies swept Milwaukee all on late-inning comebacks, their first three-game sweep of the year. The sweep, however, got taken back by the Braves as the Phillies would be swept by Atlanta due to stranding runners in scoring position.
Ending July in a positive direction would be necessary and the Phillies, as they would blew out the Nationals in the first game of the series, 8–0, and took two-of-three. After that series, the Phillies were 47–58, 15.5 games out of first place and 13 games behind a Wild Card spot.
Transactions galore transpired before July 31. Pence said goodbye to Philadelphia by getting traded to the Giants for Nate Schierholtz, Tommy Joseph, and Seth Rosin. Victorino packed his bags to the Dodgers for two pitchers. Blanton also had been sent packing to the Dodgers. Hamelsade sure he would remain in Philadelphia by signing a six-year, $144 million contract extension.
The Phillies were 47–58, 15.5 games behind the first-place Nationals, and 10 games behind the second wild card after their series against the Nationals on August 2. The Phillies started Aug. the month by taking two-of-three from the Arizona Diamondbacks and jumped out of last place in the NL East for the first time since June 27. Philadelphia then took one-of-three from the Braves.
In the first game of the series versus Atlanta, Citizens Bank Park had its sellout streak end at 257 games, the third-longest sellout streak in big-league history. The Phillies then took two-of-three from the Cardinals and came back from 3 runs behind to win the third game in extra innings. Philadelphia also won two-of-three Miami and split four-game sets against Milwaukee and Cincinnati. After their fourth-game win against the Reds, the Phillies moved up to third place in the division for the first time since April 12.
Furthermore, the Phillies pulled off a three-game sweep of the Nationals. However, the Phillies grabbed one-of-three from the Mets. The Phillies finished Aug. with a comeback win against the Braves and two-of-three from that series (the Phillies blew a 7–3 lead in the bottom of the ninth in game three for the loss). Philadelphia finished Aug. by going 17-12, but Ruiz had to sit out four-to-six weeks with a fractured knee that took a beating throughout the month (Ruiz was replaced by Erik Kratz due to backup Brian Schneider also suffering an injury).
Phillies baseball started Sept. by taking two-of-three from Cincinnati and sweeping both the Colorado and Miami to climb above .500 for the first time since June 3. Meanwhile, the teams ahead of the Phillies in the Wild Card chase struggled as Pittsburgh dropped six in a row and the Cardinals and Dodgers each lost six of seven; the Phillies were three games behind the Cardinals on Sept. 12 for a playoff spot.
Just as it seemed the Phillies were going to make an improbable run to the playoffs, they lost three-of-four to Houston mainly due to inconsistentpitching performances, and were four games back after the series. The Phillies were elmimated for good from winning the division, but the Phillies tried to rebound. by sweeping the Mets, including when Howard hit a two-run homer when the Phillies were down to their final out in one game; in another game, the Phillies won, 16-1, win when they scored eight runs on the road in the first inning for the first time since 1912. Despite the sweep in Flushing, New York, the Phillies were unable to pick up any ground as the Cardinals weren’t losing games.
Then in the next series against the Atlanta, the Phillies went 1-2 and dropped them to five and one-half games behind the Cardinals and majorly damaged their playoff hopes. Howard hit his 300th career long-ball after 1,093 games, becoming the second fastest player reach the milestone. The Phillies were unable to keep their extremely slim playoff chances alive by taking one-of-three from the Nationals, although rookie AA call-up Darin Ruf hit a fence-clearer for his first big-league hit.
Unfortunately, their playoff chances ended when the Phillies loss the first game of a series against the Marlins on Sept. 28. The Phillies concluded the season by winning the next two games against Miami and one-of-three from the Nationals.
Manuel’s Phillies finished the year 81-81, third place in the NL East and 17 games out of first. This was the Phillies’ first non-winning season since 2002 when Veterans Stadium still existed and hosted Phillies games.
One season after showcasing the best pitching staff in the bigs (in terms of statistics), Phillies pitchers posted a 3.83 Earned Run Average in 1,451.1 innings with 11 shutouts, five complete games, 42 saves, 1,387 hits, 680 runs (618 earned), 409 bases on balls, and 1,385 strikeouts.
Hamels (17-6, 3.05 ERA) led the staff in wins, starts (31) complete games (two), shutouts (two), innings (215), runs allowed (80), and strikeouts (216). At the plate, Hamels hit .217 (15-for-69) with five runs, two doubles, a homer (off San Francisco’s Matt Cain), and five runs batted in.
Lee went 6-9 in 30 starts with a 3.16 ERA, 207 hits, 79 runs (74 earned), 207 strikeouts, and 28 walks. Halladay was nowhere near his 2010 Cy Young form, going 11-8 in 25 starts (156.1 innings) with 155 hits, 78 earned runs, 36 walks, and 132 punch-outs.
Not known for strikeouts, Kendrick (11-12, 25 starts, 3.90 ERA) fanned 116 and walked 49 in 37 games (159.1 innings). Worley was 6-9 with 4.20 ERA in 23 starts (133 innings) while punching-out 107 batters. Before the trade, Blanton went 8-9 in 20 starts with a 4.59 ERA, 141 hits, 74 runs (68 earned), 115 strikeouts, and 18 passes in 133.1 innings. Tyler Cloyd (2-2, 4.91 ERA) fanned 30 and walked seven in six starts (33 innings).
Papelbon (5-6, 2.44 ERA) notched 38 saves (blew four opportunities) in 70 games with 56 hits, 22 runs (19 earned), 18 walks, and 92 strikeouts in 70 innings. Antonio Bastardo (2-5, 4.33 ERA) fanned 81 in 52 frames (65 games). Jeremy Horst came in a trade and went 2-0 in 32 games (31.1 innings) with a 1.15 ERA, 21 hits, eight runs (four earned), 40 strikeouts, and 14 walks.
The rest of the bullpen consisted of Raul Valdes (3-2, 27 games, one start, 31 innings, 35 strikeouts, 2.90 ERA), rookie Jake Diekman (1-1, 32 games, 27.1 innings, 35 strikeouts, 3.95 ERA), Chad Qualls (1-1, 35 games, 31.1 innings, 4.60 ERA), B.J. Rosenberg (1-2, 22 games, one start, 25 innings, 6.12 ERA), Jose “Big Truck” Contreras (1-0, 17 games, 13.2 innings, 15 strikeouts, 5.27 ERA), Phillippe Aumount (0-1, two saves, 18 games, 14.2 innings, 14 strikeouts, 3.68 ERA), Josh Lindblom (1-3, 26 games, 23.1 innings, 27 strikeouts, 4.63 ERA), Joe Savery (1-2, 19 games, 25 innings, 5.40 ERA), Michael Schwimer (2-1, 35 games, 34.1 innings, 36 strikeouts, 4.46 ERA), and Justin De Fratus (0-0, 13 games, 10.2 innings, 3.37 ERA).
Regarding offense, the Phillies hit .255 (1,414-for-5,544) with 684 runs, 271 doubles, 28 triples, 158 home runs, 659 RBIs, 454 walks, 1,094 strikeouts, and 116 stolen bases in 139 attempts.
Before the injury, Ruiz batted .325 (121-for-372) in 114 games with 56 runs, 32 doubles, 16 jacks, 68 RBIs, 29 walks, 50 strikeouts, and four steals. Schneider was 20-for-89 in 34 games with nine runs, five doubles, two homers, and seven RBIs. Kratz posted nine doubles and nine four-baggers in 50 games.
Pence hit .271 in 101 games with 59 runs, 15 doubles, two triples, 17 see-yas, 59 RBIs, and 85 strikeouts. Schierhtz came over for 37 games, batting .273 (18-for-66) with five runs, four doubles, one round-tripper, five RBIs, and five walks. Nix also served as a right-fielder, appearing in 70 contests with 28 hits in 114 at-bats 16 RBIs, 13 runs, 10 doubles, and three outta heres.
Mayberry, Jr., worked 149 games, going 108-for-441 with 53 runs, 24 doubles, 14 sayonaras, 46 RBIs, and 111 strikeouts. Speedster and outfielder Juan Pierre hit .307 (121-for-394), scored 56 runs, knocked-in 27 men, swatted 10 doubles, stretched six triples, left the yard once, and committed 37 base theft in 130 games. Dominic Brown, another left-fielder, was 44-for-187 in 56 games with 21 runs, 11 doubles, two triples, five blasts, 26 RBIs, and 21 walks. Ruf posted 11 hits in 33 at-bats (.333 in 12 games) with four runs, two doubles, a triple, three clouts, and 10 RBIs.
Victorino’s 101-game showing resulted in 101 hits (.261 average), 46 runs, 17 doubles, five triples, nine long-balls, 40 RBIs, and 24 steals. Brown and Pierre rotated in centerfield. Center-fielder Jason Pridie was three-for-10 in nine games with a run, three RBIs, one double, and a long drive into the seats.
Utley mustered 83 games with 77 hits (.256 average), 28 extra-base hits, 45 RBIs, and 11 steals. Galvis appeared in 58 games with 43 hits (.226 average), 15 doubles, a triple, three homers, and 24 RBIs. Utility man Michael Martinez hit .174 (20-for-115) in 45 games with 10 runs, five extra-base hits, and seven RBIs. It got sure to the point Mike Fontenot played 47 games, batting .289 (28-for-97) with 13 runs, two doubles, a big fly, five RBIs, and seven RBIs.
Rollins had been healthy to work 156 games at shortstop, hitting .250 (158-for-632) with 102 runs, 33 doubles, five triples, 23 goodbyes, 68 RBIs, and 35 base thefts.
Polanco played third base for 90 games, notching 19 RBIs, 17 extra-base hits, 78 hits (.257 average), and 28 runs.
Wigginton labored 125 games (the bulk of them at first base), batting .235 with 40 runs, 11 doubles, 11 homers, 81 strikeouts, and 43 RBIs. Another listed first baseman, Kevin Frandsen, hit .338 (66-for-195) in 55 games with 24 runs, 10 doubles, three triples, two long-balls, 14 RBIs, and nine walks. Howard got to play 71 games and touched them all 14 Ted with 56 RBIs, 28 runs, 57 hits (.219 average) and 99 strikeouts. Thome was 15-for-62 in 30 games with five homers. Hector Luna played approximately 28 games as a listed first baseman.
The Phillies displayed the NL’s seventh-ranked defense (.983 fielding percentage) with
1,560 assists, 4,354 putouts, 118 double plays, and 101 errors in 6,015 chances.
Papelbon, Hamels, and Ruiz represented the Phillies in the 2012 All-Star Game. Even with the injuries and struggles, Citizens Bank Park sold 3,565,718 tickets. Cloyd and Ruf were the Phillies’ top minor leaguers and received the Paul Owens Award.
Scott Franzke, Larry Andersen, and Jim Jackson announced games on WPHT-AM and WIP 94.1 FM. Calling the action on Comcast SportsNet, The Comcast Network, and My PHL 17 were Tom McCarthy, Chris Wheeler, and Gary “Sarge” Mathews.