After Joe Blanton was sent to the DL yesterday, Vance Worley was called up to fill in against the Mets. Worley definitely proved that he has what it takes to pitch in the majors.
And the Phillies certainly challenged him in the first inning. Both Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins committed rare errors in the first to extend the inning. But Worley did not get rattled and eventually coaxed a double play ball to end the inning.
That inning increased Worley’s pitch count, but he still managed to go six innings while allowing only two hits. Despite four walks, Worley shut-out the Mets and got his first major league win of the year. Worley also singled in the game, which was his first major league hit.
However, most of the fireworks at the plate were provided by Ryan Howard who is now tied for 2nd with Del Ennis for Phillies all-time home runs. Howard’s 259 home runs are second only to Mike Schmidt who ended his career with 548.
It took Howard two homers to match the record tonight. The first shot went into the second deck in right field for 2-RBI. The second was a grand slam in the sixth inning, which is the 10th slam of Howard’s career.
Howard came up again in the seventh with the bases loaded, but back-to-back slams were just not meant to be. Sadly, he struck out.
But Ben Francisco helped out in the game as well with two hits and two RBI in the game. And Rollins had another two-hit game, officially announcing his emergence from an early season slump. Raul Ibanez, on the other hand, has not had a hit in 30 consecutive at-bats.
Another record was set tonight as well. Polanco recorded his 39th hit in the month of April, setting a new Phillies team record. Chase Utley held the previous record with 38 hits in April of 2008. And Polly is not done yet…still one more game to go in April.
The bullpen, including newcomer Michael Stutes, held down most of the Phillies huge lead and they went on to win by a score of 10-3. Game two is Saturday at 1:10pm and Roy Halladay will pitch.
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Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Players are dropping like flies in Philadelphia. Joe Blanton is the latest victim of this injury virus which seems to be spreading quicker than both the Swine and Bird Flu combined.
The diagnosis is medial impingement of the right elbow, which is Blanton’s throwing arm. Treatment for this injury can vary from rest and medication to surgery. There is no word yet on how Blanton’s treatment will play out.
Blanton now joins fellow teammates on the DL, including shortstop Chase Utley, closer Brad Lidge, back-up closer Jose Contreras, relief pitcher JC Romero and outfielder Domonic Brown.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz is also going to be inactive for several days while he recovers from a back issue. For now, he will not be placed on the DL and Brian Schneider will fill in.
Vance Worley has been called up from the AAA Iron Pigs to start tomorrow’s game against the Mets in place of Blanton. In four starts this year, Worley is 2-2 with a 2.78 ERA and 9.9 K/9. In 13 innings last year with the major league club, Worley was impressive with a 1.38 ERA and 12 strikeouts.
While this is a great opportunity for a young prospect, the news for Blanton is surprising. Blanton is coming off two straight quality starts after having a rough start to the season. He showed no signs of elbow issues Saturday against the Padres. Just when things were looking up for Blanton, the crap has suddenly hit the fan.
What was once a very experienced pitching staff for the Phillies has just gotten a whole lot younger very quickly. Having to depend on younger arms both in the starting staff and in the bullpen is a little nerve racking.
How a younger pitcher will respond to a stressful situation is the great unknown. Although in Worley’s case, he showed very good poise last year in his short time with the big club. That is a plus.
But this is a new year with new pressures, including having to keep pace with four of the best starters in the game in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. If Worley can stick to competing with himself, instead of the rest of this veteran staff, he should be just fine.
For Phillies fans, the way to look at all this carnage is simple. Perhaps the team is getting all the injuries out of the way early so everyone will be healthy late in the season. Or, is that too optimistic? Time will tell.
In the interim, just keep sending out that positive, happy energy and hope for the best.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies were finally able to salvage a win out of the 3-game series with the Diamondbacks today. Cole Hamels allowed three runs on four hits and a walk in the 8-4 victory.
But the real news was the offense, which finally showed signs of life after scoring only 17 runs in the first six games of this road trip.
Not surprisingly, Placido Polanco continued his hot streak, going 4-for-4 in the game today and scoring three times. Polly has been the only player unaffected by this hitting slump.
Jimmy Rollins had his first multi-hit game since April 12th with an RBI-double and a 2-run homer. Shane Victorino also had two hits and both he and Ryan Howard homered in the game as well.
But while most starters were productive, Wilson Valdez still looks like he has no clue at all at the plate, swinging at anything within nearly a 10-mile radius. Raul Ibanez did not start and was 0-1 in a pinch hitting appearance. In his place, John Mayberry Jr. had one hit and two walks.
The Phils got off to a fast start, putting up three runs in the first inning. But then catcher Carlos Ruiz suddenly disappeared and Brian Schneider was brought in to catch in the bottom half of the first inning. Later, it was reported that Ruiz had lower back discomfort.
So are the Phillies playing some weird, made-up game? We can call it Pass The Problem. Roy Oswalt maybe passed on his back pain to Ruiz? And maybe Brad Lidge passed on his arm/shoulder/elbow pain to Jose Contreras? Whatever it is, it need to stop!
As for Oswalt, he left the team today to head home to Mississippi where a tornado landed close to his home. Last year, Oswalt’s parents had their home destroyed by a tornado. So now, he is understandably concerned about his wife and kids who are near the disaster zone. Hopefully, his family is fine. There is no additional word yet on the situation.
There has also not been any news about whether Ruiz is seriously hurt or not. I will keep you posted.
As for the rest of the team, they have a day off tomorrow before beginning the home stand against the Mets on Friday night at 7:05pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
It has been an interesting few days for the Phillies. On Sunday, they finished off a four-game sweep of the Padres, scoring only 12 runs total in all of those games. An inside-the-park homer by Shane Victorino helped seal Sunday’s sweep.
That same day, closer Jose Contreras was sent to the DL with a strained right flexor pronator tendon in his elbow. As a result, Michael Stutes joined the club to fill the roster spot and made his major league debut on Monday.
Also on Monday night, the Phillies five-game win streak ended with a 0-4 shut-out loss to the D-Backs. Cliff Lee pitched an odd game where he struck out 12 batters but still allowed four runs in seven innings. However, Lee’s performance was basically rendered obsolete as the Phils offense did absolutely nothing to help out.
The three-hit shutout by the Diamondbacks Ian Kennedy where he struck out 10 batters and did not issue a walk, matched a team record. Only two other pitchers in team history tossed a shutout while allowing three or fewer hits with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks. One was Curt Schilling on April 10, 2001 against the Dodgers (2 hits allowed, 10 SO) and the other, Randy Johnson, when he pitched a perfect game on May 18, 2004 at Atlanta (13 SO).
While that feat by Kennedy is very impressive, the Phillies offense certainly made it a little easier on him by swinging at bad pitches and watching good ones fly by.
The Phils offensive offense has not scored more than four runs in 14 consecutive games this season. They currently rank 28th in baseball for runs scored since April 9th.
The worst offender amongst the starters has been Raul Ibanez, who is hitting just .179. He should be benched in favor of John Mayberry Jr. until he figures things out. Maybe at almost 39-year old, Ibanez needs to be in a platoon with Mayberry to get him more rest.
Team leader Jimmy Rollins is also not producing. He got off to a hot start and has seriously cooled off. Rollins has not had a multi-hit game since April12th. He has batted .182 since that time.
But a few players are not to blame. The entire team is just not hitting, as if they all caught the same virus at once. If the disease continues to spread, who will be the fall guy? Last year it was hitting coach Milt Thompson. Frankly, the players themselves need to be held accountable. Play the bench guys until the starters find their swings.
While the bench is solid, it is not the long-term solution. However, maybe benching a few guys will light a fire under them. Because the Phillies have few other options.
Their payroll is maxed out. The Phillies will never be a team that decides to pay the luxury tax along with the Yankees. So as far as getting new blood into the line-up, they are out of options. Besides, it is only April and no teams are ready to trade anyone yet.
Then again, it is only April. The team is still winning, despite the offense, thanks to a solid starting staff. But even the pitchers are going to get weary of the lack of support very soon.
So choose your most relaxing yoga pose and just keep telling yourself, “It’s only April. Its only April…”
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
After not allowing a single run to the Padres in two straight games, the Phillies finally yielded on Saturday night in the first inning. Joe Blanton got roughed up quickly. On his first three pitches of the game, he allowed a single and an RBI triple to break the Padres scoreless streak.
But after getting out of the early jam, Blanton settled down and actually pitched very well. In seven innings, he allowed just two runs on eight hits and two walks. Blanton finally lowered his ERA below six; it sits at 5.92 right now and hopefully, will get better as the season progresses.
Placido Polanco got the day off at third base, which seemed like an odd choice considering he is the only Phillie really hitting right now. Wilson Valdez took third and Pete Orr filled in at second. Both players had one hit each, but overall, the offense suffered again.
Jimmy Rollins and Ben Francisco accounted for the Phillies two runs. After Rollins walked in the fourth, Francisco tripled to score him. Then in the sixth, Rollins singled to score Orr who had doubled before him.
Just a quick side note, I noticed last week that Orr already has a fan club, Orr’s Oars. A group of fans have been wielding boat oars in the outfield in Orr’s honor. Also interesting to note, Orr’s cousin, Nick Boynton, plays for the Flyers.
And yes, that is how sad the offense was in this game. I was so bored, I made a hockey reference.
Here are just a few examples of the Phillies offensive woes: Raul Ibanez has not had a hit in 17 at-bats. Frankly, I think John Mayberry Jr. should get some playing time until Ibanez figures it out. And Rollins is batting .120 in his last seven games.
The Padres have similar issues and as such, neither team looked good on offense. That led to extra innings after both teams were unable to score again in a 2-2 tie game. This would become a battle of the bullpens.
As it turned out, the Phillies bullpen came out on top thanks to an RBI-single by Howard in the 11th. That hit was huge for Howard as he had struck out in each of his previous four at-bats. The two runs that scored gave the Phillies a 4-2 lead which Ryan Madson held down for his second save in a row.
The Phillies are up 3-0 in the series with the final game today at 4:05pm.
On Thursday night, the Phillies snuck away with a 3-0 win against the Padres even though their offense is still anemic. Home runs by Ben Francisco and Brian Schneider paved the way for Roy Oswalt to collect his third win of the year.
While Oswalt appeared to have no ill effects from last week’s back issue, he did wind up having to toss a lot of pitches to get through six innings. It was 106 pitches, to be exact. The bullpen held the lead despite each reliever allowing one hit and one walk each.
Friday night, Cole Hamels took the mound and looked great in front of his hometown crowd. Usually comfy in San Diego, Hamels seemed to be relaxed and in control. He was even one of the best batters of the night with two hits, although he had a brain freeze and got picked off first base once.
Hamels cruised through eight innings without allowing a run. The Padres managed only four hits and three walks, one of which was intentional.
As for the Phillies offense, there has been very little of that lately. Two walks in the third inning led to a 2-RBI triple by Ryan Howard which accounted for the Phillies only two runs of the game. Lucky for them, Hamels brought his A-game and kept the Padres off the scoreboard.
The ninth inning was handed to Ryan Madson. Jose Contreras got a day off since he has pitched a lot lately. Madson has struggled in the closer role in the past, but tonight he had no issues. The Phillies went on to win by a score of 2-0.
There are two more games in the series. Saturday’s game time is 8:35pm and Joe Blanton will pitch.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies avoided a sweep at the hands of the Brewers this afternoon with a 4-3 win. The 2-1 series loss was the first series loss of their season.
The Phils offense went 17 straight innings in this series without scoring a run. John Mayberry Jr. got the first hit of the game, but that did not happen until the 5th inning. Then finally in the sixth, Wilson Valdez (photo) drew a walk and Shane Victorino singled. Placido Polanco then smacked his second homer of the week to tie the game up at 3-3.
Cliff Lee had a slightly off day, although he kept the team in the game. Through six innings, Lee allowed two earned runs on eight hits and a walk. The third run was the result of a Valdez error.
Valdez made up for the error in the ninth, after a Victorino homer gave the Phillies the lead the inning before. Valdez ran backwards after a fly ball that was over his head, reached out and snagged the ball. That play saved closer Jose Contreras from a very difficult inning. Contreras then struck out Ryan Braun to end the game.
The Phillies now travel to the West coast for a 4-game series with the Padres. Thursday’s game starts at 10:05pm and Roy Oswalt, feeling better since having back issues, will pitch. Phillies fans, prepare for some late nights in the coming week.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography