Tagged: Aaron Rowand

Phillies One Game Away From Elimination

The Phillies seem determined to lose this NLCS series; they did everything they could think of to hand it over the Giants tonight to go down 3 games to 1.  Lose tomorrow and they will go home.  There are many ways to describe the Phillies effort this series, such as pathetic, disgusting or downright ugly.  It appears they already have their bags packed.

Not to take anything away from the Giants who are a great team with an amazing pitching staff.  But the effort they have gotten from Phillies so far in no way properly emulates the talent on this team.  The offense has been minimal to non-existent and the pitching has varied from great (Roy Oswalt, Game 2) to unexpectedly lackluster (Roy Halladay, Game 1) to horrible (Joe Blanton plus Chad Durbin, Game 4).

Tonight, Blanton was not good.  He allowed 3 runs on 5 hits and a walk in only 4 2/3 innings.  All 3 runs were scored with two outs in the inning and one of those came after two wild pitches in the first inning.  Worse than that, after the offense squeezed out 4 tough runs in the 5th for him, Blanton could not manage a shut-down inning and gave a run right back.

The 4 runs they managed came after a string of singles and a double by Placido Polanco.  A hit batter loaded the bases but Jimmy Rollins swung at ball 4 to end the inning instead of adding on runs.  The addition of Ben Francisco in place of Raul Ibanez was an improvement as Francisco actually hit the ball a few times.  But in the end, not much else went right for the Phillies.


P8248770 Durbin platter.jpgTrying to hand the game over on a silver platter, Chad Durbin and Carlos Ruiz combined to take a 4-3 Phillies lead in the 6th inning and turn it into a 4-5 deficit.  Durbin led the inning off by walking Pat Burrell.  Then, apparently leaving his brain back in Philadelphia, Ruiz called for inside fastballs to Cody Ross who has gobbled those same pitches up this series to the tune of 3 homers and 4 RBI.  Well, he did it again with a double and eventually scored along with Burrell.

I hate to criticize Ruiz, who has been fabulous all year, but this was the 5th time he made the same mistake to Ross this series.  FIVE times!  WHEN will it end?  And that was not the only mistake; Ruiz called for a high fastball to Pablo Sandoval that same inning, which led to a 2-RBI double.  I was screaming at the TV, “Keep the ball down!” because I knew he wanted a high fastball.  If I know this, WHY doesn’t Ruiz??  Sandoval took a ridiculous swing at a low curve ball earlier in the at-bat and missed badly.  Plus, if you have EVER seen Sandoval hit, you know he likes them high.  Hello???  Am I some sort of baseball genius or was this just a bonehead move by the pitcher and catcher?  Hint: Bonehead move!!

I do not think “frustration” begins to cover the range of emotions I am experiencing right now, along with thousands of other Phillies fans.  As just another example of this, why in that same 5th inning we discussed earlier did the 3rd base coach send Ruiz home from 2nd on a ball hit to very shallow center? 
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He was nailed at the plate by a mile.  And why on that same play is Shane Victorino, who hit the ball, still standing on first base instead of advancing to 2nd during the play at home?  Did he have a brain freeze?  Whatever the issue, it was about to induce a brain aneurism as my head felt like it might explode.

In the 8th inning, doubles from Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth tied the game up.  But is it just me, or did this not just seem to delay the inevitable?  So going into the 9th inning and running out of pitchers that manager Charlie Manuel felt he could trust, he brought in starter Roy Oswalt on TWO days rest.  I kid you not.  He still had Kyle Kendrick, Brad Lidge and JC Romero in the pen, but went with Oswalt.

That turned out to be a huge disaster.  Oswalt gave up two singles and a sac fly that scored the winning run for the Giants.  Not Oswalt’s fault by any means; what did they expect from him on two days rest and off his usual routine?

Game 5 tomorrow – Roy Halladay will attempt to keep the series alive.  Is it possible for the Phillies to win the next 3 games?  Anything is possible I suppose.

 

Durbin photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phillies Offense Non-Existent In Game 3 Loss

The Phillies travelled to San Francisco for Game 3 of the NLCS but apparently, they did not take their bats with them.  They did the same thing back in April when they scored only 3 runs in the first 2 games of that series.  And last year, the Phils lost 3 of 4 against the Giants in San Fran.  The Phillies lack of offense and extended slumps throughout the year were a big concern going into the postseason and it is easy to see why.

In today’s game, the Phillies left 7 men on base and went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position.  They had hit Giants pitcher Matt Cain very well in previous meetings, but not today.  Cain blanked them through 7 innings despite hitting 2 batters and walking 3; that is 5 free base runners that the Phillies did absolutely nothing with. 


throw up - Copy.jpgChase Utley
was the worst offender, leaving 3 on base and hitting a bunch of weak grounders.  He also missed a ground ball which led to runs, although it was officially not scored an error.  Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino left 2 on base and Raul Ibanez left 3.  Ibanez looked ridiculous at the plate, swinging at pitches well out of the strike zone, even grounding into a double play to end the game.  Early in the year, Ibanez suffered from prolonged slumps that took weeks and months to emerge from.  The Phillies do not have time for him, or anyone else, to break out of it.  I admire Charlie Manuel for sticking by his guys, but it is time for a wake-up call here.

So the Phillies offense wound up with only three hits the entire game.  And although Cole Hamels was not at his best, it really didn’t matter what he did.  Three hits are not going to win any ball games.  Hamels had a quality start with 3 runs allowed in 6 innings, but I am sure even Hamels is not happy with that result.  But he certainly did not get any help.

The two ex-Phillies on the Giants roster had a hand in the damage.  Pat Burrell walked with 2 outs in the 4th to set up Cody “The Devil” Ross, who singled in a run.  Burrell then scored on an Aubrey Huff single.  Then Aaron Rowand led off the 5th with a double and eventually scored.  I am sure Burrell and Rowand had a nice time sticking it to the team who sent them packing.

While this is a best of 7 series, the Phillies are now in big trouble.  Joe Blanton was set to pitch tomorrow, but that game is now a must-win.  It is possible that Manuel may ask his 3 ace’s all to pitch on 3 day’s rest.  Blanton has not pitched since 9/24. 

However, I am not so sure that short rest will be a good thing for any of these 3 starters, especially when you consider the number of innings they all pitched in the regular season.  Roy Halladay pitched 250 2/3 innings this year, 2nd most in his career.  Roy Oswalt pitched 211 2/3 and Hamels has never pitched on short rest.  In fact, Hamels would be most affected as he has been very vocal in years past about being able to stick to his usual routine.

But even more concerning is the lack of energy and production out of this Phillies offense.  They look lethargic and complacent.  Right now, I feel like I am writing an obituary instead of a blog entry.  No, they are not dead yet, but it is getting close.  I would love to be wrong on this.  Game 4 tomorrow: 7:30pm.

UPDATE: In
a post-game interview, Charlie Manuel said Blanton will start tomorrow.

 


Happy Bunny by Jim Benton

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phillies Will Meet The Giants In The NLCS

The San Francisco Giants defeated the Braves last night to advance to the NLCS against the Phillies.  This match-up promises to be a hard-fought duel to the death between two great pitching staffs.  The season series between the two teams ended in a draw with 3 wins each out of 6 games.  These teams are very closely matched.

The real drama will unfold in Game 1 on Saturday when two Cy Young winners face off.  Tim Lincecum of the Giants has won the award the past two years and Roy Halladay of the Phils is the favorite to win the award this year.  Halladay already has won the award once before.


Halladay Lincecum.jpgIn 2010, Halladay finished the year with a 21-10 record and a miniscule 2.44 ERA.  Lincecum went 16-10 with a 3.43 ERA, a disappointing year by Lincecum standards.  But in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Braves, Lincecum pitched a complete game 2-hitter.  He was outdone only by Halladay who pitched a no-hitter in his postseason debut against the Reds.  A slight edge goes to Halladay with this match-up, but only by a hair.  The deciding factor is likely to be the offense of both teams.

Here are some stats for the last 5 years of Phillies batters vs. Lincecum and Giants batters vs. Halladay:

VS. Lincecum

AVG

AB

HR

RBI

Dobbs, Greg

.200

5

0

0

Gload, Ross

.400

5

0

0

Howard, Ryan

.250

16

2

4

Ibanez, Raul

.143

7

0

0

Polanco, Placido

.500

2

0

0

Rollins, Jimmy

.167

18

0

0

Ruiz, Carlos

.250

8

0

0

Schneider, Brian

.000

5

0

0

Utley, Chase

.118

17

1

1

Victorino, Shane

.222

18

1

2

Werth, Jayson

.500

6

1

1

 

VS. Halladay

AVG

AB

HR

RBI

Burrell, Pat

.333

18

0

1

Fontenot, Mike

.333

3

0

0

Huff, Aubrey

.238

42

0

2

Renteria, Edgar

.286

7

0

0

Ross, Cody

.250

4

0

1

Sanchez, Freddy

.333

3

0

0

Uribe, Juan

.167

12

0

0

 

For the Phillies, Jayson Werth and Placido Polanco have the best shot at rattling Lincecum.  And for the Giants, our old pal Pat Burrell has done well against Halladay in 18 at-bats.  However, several big guns for the Giants like Pablo Sandoval and rookie Buster Posey have never faced him.  So, there is no telling how they may fare.

Another possible factor in the game is the lengthy lay-off before the series begins.  However, both teams will be dormant for almost the same amount of time; the Phillies ended their NLDS on Sunday and the Giants ended on Monday.  The same concern was expressed back in 2008 and the Phils won the World Series that year.  Also, I think the time-off will be good for the Phils who have a lot of banged up players like Polanco with his bum elbow and Jimmy Rollins, who is still nursing a hamstring injury.

My biggest personal concern is the Phillies having to play 3 games in San Francisco.  They lost 2 of 3 there this year and 3 of 4 the year before, with their only win coming in Cliff Lee’s Phillies debut.  I was there for the entire series and can tell you, this team does not like playing in AT&T Park.  It is bitterly cold, windy, the ballpark is huge with odd dimensions and the bullpens are uncomfortably close to the field.  Not to mention the visitor’s clubhouse is cramped and awkward…I know; I have been in there.  In short, it is a hostile environment.


P9213064 Burrell2.jpgThe Phillies will need to use the home field advantage to jump on the Giants quickly.  Fans can help out by bringing their usual fervor and enthusiasm to the ballpark.  Feel free to give Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand their proper welcome back, but after that, all bets are off. 

Burrell should not be allowed to get too comfy coming back home because he can really hurt the Phillies; he loves hitting in Citizens Bank Park.  And yes, it pains me to think of heckling Burrell; he helped bring us the 2008 championship.  But fans need to suck it up and treat him like the enemy!  After the series, we can all give him a group hug to make up for it ;o)

 

 

Photo and head shots by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Reunions Abound In Win Over Giants

There were many reunions tonight at the Phillies-Giants game.  Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand came back to Philly again in Giants uniforms.  And Chase Utley returned to the Phillies line-up, making a super-speedy recovery from thumb surgery.  You could feel the love:

0817 love.jpg

And more importantly for the ladies, it was a visual treat.  Pat the Bat and other legendary backsides were welcomed with open arms:

0817 butts.jpg

Oh, you were expecting a game recap, right?  Sorry…got sidetracked.  So the game was very nice as well.  Roy Oswalt got off to a rocky start, allowing 2 runs in the first inning. 
0817 Oswalt.jpg
One of those runs was Burrell’s first at-bat; clearly, he is right at home in Philly.  The standing ovation he received while stepping to the plate died down quickly once that ball left the yard.

But Oswalt rebounded and allowed only 1 more run, another solo shot, through 7 total innings pitched.  He finally got some offensive support as well. 
P8177421G.jpg
Placido Polanco had a 4-hit night; Jimmy Rollins collected 3 RBI; Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz had 2 RBI each.  By the way, Victorino’s wife Melissa is pregnant!  Check out the baby bump.  Congrats to them both!

With a 4-3 lead going into the 8th, the offense exploded in a very odd inning.  With the bases loaded and no outs for Ruiz, he nailed a 2-run double.  Later, the Giants pitcher balked to send another run home and send manager Bruce Bochy to the showers early as he was tossed for arguing the call.  A wild pitch followed by a fielding error scored Rollins and the Utley was picked off going to third to end the inning.  5 more runs scored that inning and the Phils won by a score of 9-3.

0817 action.jpg

By the way, Mike Sweeney has not exactly been lighting up the ballpark at the plate, but this guy shows some serious hustle out there. 
P8177859 sweeney.jpg
At one point, he went into the crowd trying to catch a foul ball.  I got this shot of it, not too in focus, but take a look at his glove and the ball next to it, surrounded by fans.  That is a brave man.

So the rest of the photos will be up later.  I have to get some sleep, prep for tomorrow’s game and do it all over again!  Check back for more later.

UPDATE: Here is the full Photo Album from the game!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

The Drought Continues

The Phillies have not been shut-out in three consecutive games since 1983…until now.  4 of their last 5 games were shut-outs.  In those 5 games, the Phillies have scored in just 1 inning of those last 45 innings played.  That is a 5-game, 44 inning drought, which translates to 132 outs recorded without scoring.  And just for fun, I counted the pitches in all 44 of those innings; 664 pitches without scoring a run!

Counting up those stats has been the most fun I have had all week as a Phillies fan.  Because the rest of the week has sucked, big time.  Getting swept by the Mets in a 3-game series; watching good pitching go to waste; screaming at the TV in a vain attempt to get Phillies batters to stop swinging at junk pitches; and then of course, those lovely stats I listed above.  I have not seen this team play baseball this bad in years.


Bats bonfire.jpgCharlie Manuel
held a team meeting after the 0-3 loss last night telling the team, “Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you.”  Really?  Because if a bear tried to eat me, I would totally kick his furry a*ss.  What this team needs is to have a fire lit under them.  Much like the bonfire into which they have apparently tossed their bats.  But tough love is not in Manuel’s manual. 

We used to have players, like Aaron Rowand, who were good at handling their teammates.  He had no problem calling out players who were slacking.  There are leaders on this team too, but none of them as vocal.  Someone needs to step up and give these guys a swift kick in the rear. 

Not that they are not trying; no one want to play 44 scoreless innings.  But the urgency and energy are gone.  They look half-asleep out there.  And the pitchers, who have put forth good efforts, are starting to get frustrated. 
P4208604 utley cr.jpg
Cole Hamels had a good game last night, allowing 2 earned runs over 6 1/3 innings.  The bullpen, which had not been good to start the year, has come around and they are holding games down pretty well.


 But the offense is not holing up their end.  Chase Utley is 1 for list last 13 at-bats; Ryan Howard is 2 for 18; Jayson Werth is 3 for 18 – shaving his beard off did not help.  And in last night’s game, the Phillies hit into a double play to end an inning 3 straight times.  They are not helping themselves out at all.

The team will be in Miami today to start a 3-game series with the Marlins.  If they do not snap out of this funk tonight, they will likey be saying goodbye to 1st place in the NL East very soon.  Game time is 7:10pm.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Penny Gives Phillies His 2 Cents

After being shut-out 1-0 on Tuesday, the Giants were looking for revenge and they got it in the form of new acquisition, Brad Penny.  Penny struggled with the Red Sox and had an ERA near 6.00, but the move to the National League seems to be the cure.  Phillies hitters looked ridiculous all night long and managed only 5 hits in the game, all singles.

 

But this is nothing new; the Phillies have been in an offensive slump for a while now and there are no signs that it will end anytime soon, especially with Tim Lincecum pitching for the Giants tonight.  When things are going bad, a Cy Young winner is the last person you want to see.  But they have no choice and will need to figure out where the bats have disappeared to.

 

JA Happ has pitched well all year, but is getting no run support at all.  Happ has the third lowest run support of any pitcher in the NL with more than 100 innings and he has still has managed a 2.77 ERA and a 10-4 record.  Last night, he made a few mistakes, including allowing back-to-back homers in the 6th inning which tallied 3 runs for the Giants.  Happ still pitched a good game with just the one bad inning that did him in; but again, no runs = no win.

 

And while it is always nice to see Aaron Rowand back in Philly, he did hit one of those home runs.  And what was this all about exactly?  See Carlos Ruiz pointing?


 

Sorry, could not resist.  It does kind of look like he might pee on the plate, but he hit a home run instead.  Just as effective, I suppose.

 

Here are few non-offensive shots from the game:


Thumbnail image for 090209a.jpg 

Charlie Manuel needs to start smacking some heads together in that clubhouse.  The inability to score runs, especially those in scoring position, is becoming a major issue in what is usually a breakout month for this team.  Raul Ibanez has not been able to hit the side of a barn since the All-Star break, after what was an amazing first half.  Now, Ibanez is hitting into double plays all the time which is killing the offense. 

 

But everyone is guilty; since the Atlanta series, Shane Victorino has 2 hits in his last 20 at-bats; Jayson Werth is 4 for 16; Jimmy Rollins is 4 for 20.  And just for fun, Ibanez is 1 for his last 21 at-bats.  Ugh.  Someone please find the offense…now!

 

On to more fun topics:  Before the game, Cole Hamels was awarded with the Roberto Clemente award for his community service.  His wife Heidi joined him on the field and if you were not sure before if she was pregnant, it is pretty obvious now.  How cute are these two with all their aspirations to adopt like 500 African babies, plus popping out a few of their own?  All together now…”Awwww!”

 

Here is a Photo Album with more pictures from last nights very depressing game.  It was Latino Heritage night and there are some shots from that as well as the pre-game activities.  Enjoy!

 

 

Photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phillies – Giants Series Photos

I have finished the Photo Albums from the 4-game Phillies – Giants series in San Francisco.  The first one covers all around AT&T Park, inside and out.  The second album is of all 4 games.  Here is a quick summary of what you will see:

Game 1, July30th: Police Appreciation Day; Rodrigo Lopez starts for the Phillies and Jonathan Sanchez for the Giants.

Game 2, July 31st:  Cliff Lee’s first game with the Phillies vs. Ryan Sadowski for the Giants; Aaron Rowand’s 1,000 career hit.  There is also a photo of an A’s World Series Ring that appears to be a very good replica.

Game 3, Aug. 1st: Giants Family Softball Game; Dog Days at the park; Olympic Gold Medalist Peggy Fleming in a pre-game ceremony; Joe Blanton starts for the Phillies and Tim Lincecum for the Giants.

Game 4, Aug. 2nd: Cole Hamels starts for the Phillies and Barry Zito for the Giants; there is one photo of the Phillies tour group looking very unhappy in the stands.  FYI – I was not on the official tour; I went on my own but did talk to many people on the tour who had a great time, except for all the losses :O(

I will be posting more photos from the non-baseball events in a few days and will put up a link to that when it is done for anyone who wants to see the sights from San Francisco.  It will include whale watching, the zoo, aquarium, sea lions, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, different areas in the city, Sausalito, a few parks and more.

All photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*