Phillies

Why Cody Ross is the ultimate Phillies Villain

Why Cody Ross is the ultimate Phillies Villain

All week at NBC Sports Philadelphia, we're debating the biggest villains in Philly sports history. Today, we look at the Phillies.

Talk to any of the core members of the 2007-11 Phillies and they'll tell you those teams should have won more than one World Series. Many of them think they should have won more than two.

And they're right. The 2009 and 2010 Phillies were every bit as good as the 2008 Phillies. On paper, they were more complete. They just didn't have quite the same magic. 

The '09 Phillies had Cliff Lee and the 2010 Phillies had Roy Halladay at his very best, plus a dominant post-deadline stretch from Roy Oswalt. 

That 2010 team looked destined for greatness. It was the year of Halladay's perfect game and playoff no-hitter. The Phillies won 97 regular-season games and swept the Reds in the NLDS. 

What followed was a series loss few expected. A series loss in which the Phillies pretty much shut down every Giant except one. Cody Ross. Better known in Philly by his full name: Cody F'n Ross.

He didn't have a moment as memorable as Joe Carter, he didn't dominate the Phillies for two decades like Chipper Jones and he didn't spurn the city like J.D. Drew, but Ross provided some of the most painful memories in recent Phillies history.

And he wasn't even a focal point of the Giants' offense headed into the 2010 playoffs, when they downed the Phillies in six games in the NLCS en route to their first of three World Series titles over a five-year span.

Let's go back to the summer of 2010. Ross was in the midst of his fifth season with the Marlins, with whom he had become a starter and a slightly above-average offensive player from 2007-09, a role player many teams could use in the six-spot in the lineup.

In late August of 2010, the Giants were chasing the Padres. They were six games behind San Diego on Aug. 22, the day they absorbed Ross' contract from the Marlins via waivers. The main reason the Giants even placed the claim was to block San Diego. 

The Giants went on a roll from there and won the NL West by two games.

Ross was solid but unspectacular for the Giants down the stretch, typically batting eighth. That's where he hit in Game 1 of the 2010 NLCS, when he homered twice off of Halladay, that year's NL Cy Young winner.

Ross broke the hearts of Phillies fans in that series. 

• He homered twice in a one-run win in Game 1. 

• He homered again in Game 2 off of Oswalt.

• In Game 3, he drove in the Giants' first run in a 3-0 win.

• In Game 4, he doubled to start a late-game rally that put the Giants ahead.

In all, Ross hit .350 in the series, going 7 for 20 with three doubles, three homers and five RBI.

His Giants teammates hit one home run in 181 at-bats. Ross slugged .950 in that series. His teammates slugged .282.

Some Phillies villains were great players. Chipper is a Hall of Famer. Carter hit 396 home runs. Vladimir Guerrero killed the Phillies, but he also killed every other team. Fergie Jenkins and Tom Seaver had remarkable success against the Phils, but they too are Hall of Famers.

Ross is in a different category. He's in the category of "pesky player who stepped up in the playoffs to spark his fanbase and crush another."

In Boston, for decades they said Bucky F'n Dent

In Philly, they say Cody F'n Ross.

Who makes next start for Phillies: Spencer Howard or Vince Velasquez? Joe Girardi weighs in

Who makes next start for Phillies: Spencer Howard or Vince Velasquez? Joe Girardi weighs in

Phillies fans have been clamoring for Spencer Howard for a little while now. They've heard about the velocity, the swing-and-miss slider, the knee-buckling curveball, the diving changeup, the beyond-his-years command. The organization has been just as excited.

With a couple of doubleheaders this week, you could smell Howard's debut. It became apparent that the Phils would need a sixth starter and who better than Howard, the top pitching prospect in the organization who was already on the doorstep of the majors and who probably would have been here on opening day if not for service time considerations.

This was a big day for the Phillies. Two games against your division rival, the NL East favorite. Sweep the doubleheader and you win the series against the Braves. Split and you have a chance to win it Monday night.

Instead, the Phillies were outscored 13-2 in a pair of losses. They hit .146 on the day, went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and the bullpen allowed eight runs on 13 hits in 5⅓ innings.

Still, there was excitement in the air because of Howard's long-awaited debut, which came Sunday afternoon in Game 2. After a couple of scoreless innings, the Braves welcomed Howard to the majors. Freddie Freeman and Ronald Acuña Jr. took him deep, and Howard allowed four runs over 4⅔ innings. The Phillies lost the game 8-0, a few hours after falling to the Braves 5-2.

There are far greater sins than being beaten by two of baseball's best. Given the circumstances — Howard hadn't pitched against another actual team in months and his own throwing schedule was changed this week to accommodate the Sunday start — it wasn't that bad. (The Phillies' offense was much worse.)

"Spencer, for his first start, I thought he did pretty good," manager Joe Girardi said. "He was able to throw strikes. The first two guys get on (in the first inning) and he's able to not give up a run. He didn't fall apart, which sometimes it's tough to slow a young person's mind down when it's their first start or first year. I thought he handled it pretty well."

Howard did not feel sharp. He added that he'd rather get hit on a day like today than on a day when he does feel sharp because that, after all, could be symbolic of a larger issue than being rusty and making a few mistakes against a strong lineup like the Braves.

"I wouldn't say I felt sharp," the 24-year-old rookie said. "Just a little out of sync with mechanics. Left a lot of balls over the plate and mistakes get hit in the big leagues. Overall, it was a decent day, awesome to compete again."

It was obviously strange for Howard to debut with no fans or family members in the stands. Not how a little kid dreams about making his first start in The Show. Howard dreamt of pitching a shutout in his first start in front of mom and dad. 

But it's 2020, so c'est la vie.

"The cardboard cutouts actually made a difference, surprisingly," Howard said. "Coming back in the summer camp when it was just the blue bleachers and then seeing the cardboard with the fan noises, it was OK actually. I wish all my friends could be here but I know they're all watching and that's all that matters."

The question now becomes: Who makes the next start five days from now? Will it be Vince Velasquez, who allowed one run in four innings in Game 1 Sunday, or Howard?

"Right now, my plans are for Vinny to make that start," Girardi said. "I have not talked to anyone. We're going on a five-man rotation, Spencer came up and threw the second part of a doubleheader. I'll sit down and talk to our coaches and (GM Matt Klentak and assistant GM Ned Rice) and we'll make a decision.

"We didn't come into today and say we were going to make a change in the rotation. We didn't come out and say that. We said we're going to evaluate every day what's best for our team."

It is possible the Phillies, with such a bad bullpen, could make Howard a multi-inning reliever. They wouldn't use him as a closer but as a pitcher capable of picking up six, maybe even nine outs as a reliever when the situation calls for it. Long-term, Howard will be a starter. But given the struggles and lack of plus stuff in the Phillies' bullpen, Howard could make a big impact as a multi-inning reliever in a short season if the Phillies go that route.

It seems unlikely, if only because the Phillies still have five more doubleheaders and will need a sixth starter again. But it's on the table. Most everything is on the table until the Phillies find out a formula for a bullpen that has an 8.10 ERA with 44 hits allowed in 30 innings.

"It's something that we've talked about," Girardi said. "It's something we will continue to talk about. What we do and how we have the best makeup of a pitching staff."

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Phillies go hitless with runners in scoring position and lose both games of doubleheader to Braves

Phillies go hitless with runners in scoring position and lose both games of doubleheader to Braves

Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuña Jr. and the Braves spoiled the MLB debut of Phillies top prospect Spencer Howard on what was also a dismal day for the Phils' bats.

Freeman and Acuña each homered to the opposite field off of Howard, going 5 for 6 with those two jacks and a triple as the Braves won both games of Sunday's doubleheader by scores of 5-2 and 8-0.

The Phillies had just seven hits in 14 innings. They went 7 for 48 in the doubleheader, a .146 batting average.

Their best scoring chance in Game 2 came in the fifth inning when they loaded the bases with two outs for Bryce Harper, who flied out to shallow center.

The Phillies are 4-6. The Braves are 11-6.

More specifics here on Howard's outing.

No knocks when it counts

The Phillies went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position in the two games Sunday. They have hit .194 with RISP this season.

Braves' best players woke up

To win this series, the Phillies needed Freeman and Acuña to stay cold for just a few more days. They entered Sunday hitting a combined .207. Freeman went 6 for 8 in the doubleheader with a double, triple and homer. Acuña went 5 for 8 with three homers. Combined, that's 11 for 16 with four homers, a double, triple and eight RBI. Good grief.

At least Hoskins built a little confidence

Rhys Hoskins, who entered the second game Sunday hitting .111 (3 for 27), went 2 for 2 with a double and an HBP. He's hitting .172, though with a .429 on-base percentage. Every little thing counts right now for Hoskins, who threw his arms up in the air to thank the Baseball Gods after he finally picked up that first hit Sunday. 

Up next

Aaron Nola (0-1, 3.97) starts the series finale Monday night at 6:05 against Braves lefty Sean Newcomb (0-1, 6.57).

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