In an 8-0 win over the American League, 3 Phillies All-Stars made big contributions for the National League. Cole Hamels pitched a perfect 7th inning, probably driving up his free agent value a little bit more. Carlos Ruiz caught the final 4 innings and had one at-bat, a fly-out to left field. And Jonathan Papelbon recorded the final out of the game, sealing the NL victory.
Here are a few MLB photos from the game:
And this next set of MLB photos show Ruiz holding his glove and then the glove R.A. Dickey gave him to use in order to catch his crazy knuckle balls. That glove is almost as big as Chooch! There is also a nice shot of Papelbon and then more adorable Chooch getting a hug from the Nationals teenage rookie, Bryce Harper:
Melky Cabrera of the Cardinals got the MVP award for the game. He had 2 hits, including a homer, and 2 RBI. Some rare events occurred during the game, including 3 triples, 5 rookies playing in the game, and the first shut-out during an All-Star game since 1996, when the game was played in Philadelphia.
The biggest blunder of the game came from 19-year old Harper who lost a routine fly ball in the outfield, which eventually landed behind him. He also got caught leaning too far off base in a fielder’s choice and was tagged out.
So now we wait until the Phillies return on Friday to see if they have any gas left to rescue their dreadful season. Roy Halladay will make a rehab start tomorrow so, hopefully, that means he will be back very soon.
In the meantime, here is a fun blast from the All-Star past. These are a few of my favorite All-Star photos from 2008. The top one will never get old…it is Dan Uggla goosing Chase Utley to the surprise of many around them, as you can see by my marker edits. Below that is Utley and Brad Lidge, who appear to be trying to club David Wright. And then there is Mike Schmidt standing up in a moving vehicle (next to Utley) during the All-Star parade to point me out and say hello. I was one Phillies jersey in a sea of Yankees jersey’s so I was easy to spot and he was clearly excited to see a Phillies fan! Utley yelled out to me right after that as well. And yes, that was one of the highlights of my simple existence ;o)
By the way, I am hoping to have my video interview with Ryan Howard posted in the next few days, so stay tuned for that!
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2012 photos by MLB; 2008 photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies have been playing an unusual and frustrating game of hide and seek with their offense for well over a month now. Tonight against the Pirates, play time ended in the 3rd inning when the offense finally came out and yelled, “Here we are!” while scoring 5 runs.
The Phillies scored in 6 out of 9 innings tonight, making some wish they had saved a few runs for the next game. But the early Independence Day offensive fireworks display was long overdue. After scoring just 8 runs in their last 3 games, the Phils exploded tonight to the tune of 12 runs.
Every starter in the game had at least one hit. Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins each collected 3 RBI on 2 and 3 hits, respectively. Shane Victorino also had 3 hits and 1 RBI. Cody Ransom was called up from the minors and took the place of Brian Bocock on the roster. Ransom, right off the airplane, contributed immediately with 2 hits and an RBI.
Last year, Ransom filled in at 3rd for the Yankees when Alex Rodriquez was hurt. A knee injury this year delayed his call up to the Phils big club until today, but Ransom is healthy now and will fill need to a big hole as Placido Polanco recovers on the DL. But Ransom’s defense came into question tonight when he dropped an easy pop-fly in the 8th inning. The 10-run lead made it less of an issue, but Ransom had better shape up quick. This team needs him to be solid at 3rd.
Ben Francisco started in place of Raul Ibanez who has just not been hitting. Francisco looked rusty his first few at-bats, but after a couple nice swings, he belted his first home run of the year and collected 2 RBI. The job in left field should be his for the taking if he continues to hit.
The only player who still looked perplexed at the plate tonight was Jayson Werth. He did hit an RBI double in the 4th that almost went for a homer, but he looked terrible in every other at-bat. Werth is taking strikes and swinging at balls. He struck out in his first at-bat on a ball in the dirt.
But with most everyone else hitting, Werth’s struggles do not make a huge impact. Plus, Kyle Kendrick pitched a very good game, allowing just 3 earned runs in the 12-4 win. And for the first time in his major league career, he pitched a complete game. Congrats to Kendrick!
Having lost the first two games to a very bad team, the Phillies really need to come away with a split here and build momentum going into the Braves series which starts Monday. Joe Blanton will pitch in the finale tomorrow; game time is 1:35pm.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Scoring runs against the veteran pitcher Andy Pettitte of the Yankees is no small feat. The Phillies did a descent job hitting him tonight, although they let several opportunities pass by. A Ryan Howard single scored Shane Victorino in the 4th inning. Then in the 5th, Victorino hit a 2-run homer.
Things looked promising in the 7th inning as well while the Phils loaded the bases with only one out. But scoring runs has been the Achilles heel of this team for an entire month now. Placido Polanco grounded into a fielder’s choice which erased Carlos Ruiz on his way home. Then Howard struck out on another low and outside pitch, something he seem to make a habit of. All the offense could do was pray that this inning would not come back to haunt them.
Kyle Kendrick stepped up to the challenge of pitching against the veteran Pettitte and kept the team in the game. Through 7 innings, Kendrick allowed one run on 4 hits and 2 walks. Despite getting himself into a multitude of bad situations, Kendrick kept his composure and did not fold under the pressure. That, more than his pitching, was the most impressive part of his game.
Not as impressive is the still struggling Chase Utley, who went hitless. Yesterday, Utley resorted to voodoo magic to try to jump-start his swing. He laid out a pattern on the clubhouse floor using bats, Red Bull and a variety of fruits. Then today, batting coach Milt Thompson reportedly built a shrine to Jobu, the voodoo doll used in the movie Major League. Can you say, “desperation”? Oh my.
I have also been known to practice baseball voodoo from time to time. However, I am not a major leaguer so if my readers think my noodle has slipped, no one really cares, least of all me. Normally, I reserve the voodoo J-Roll Smurf magic for the National League East. But with the Phillies recent struggles against everyone, and in light of Utley’s acceptance of such practices, I made an exception before today’s game. I think it may have helped:
The voodoo did seem to work. The Phillies scored again in the 9th inning after a Ruiz double and a Wilson Valdez single. Then they loaded the bases and scored two more runs on sac flies by Polanco and Howard. Then Raul Ibanez smelled the burning Jobu / Smurf incense, woke up and hit an RBI single with two outs. Ibanez did run into some bad luck after that, getting nicked in the foot with a hit ball. Apparently, the umpires did not see it, as nothing was called until the Yanks complained. So they called him out anyway to end the inning.
The defense got a spark earlier as well. Polanco helped Kendrick get out of a rough inning by diving on top of the rolled up tarp and catching a foul ball that was inches into the stands. And Jose Contreras snagged a bullet off the bat of Curtis Granderson in the 8th inning to save a hit. The Phils entered the bottom of the 9th inning with a 7-1 lead.
Contreras stayed in the game for one more batter; then with one out in the 9th, JC Romero was called in to end the game. Romero ended it quickly and the Phils won both the game and the series, 2 games to 1.
The Phillies will head home now for a weekend series with the Twins. They are without lefty Antonio Bastardo who is now on the DL with left elbow ulnar neuritis. Scott Mathieson was called up to take his spot on the roster. Mathieson looked like his career might be over after two Tommy John surgeries in 2006 and 2008 but his recovery has been remarkable. Look forward to seeing him pitch very soon!
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A-Rod photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Voodoo bats by Getty Images/CSN Philly
Mid-March is about the time when I begin to find Spring Training dull and get anxious for the real games to begin. Ok yes, Joe Blanton had a good outing against the Tigers today after a shaky spring start. Cole Hamels looks like he is in good shape with two solid performances so far. The bats are jumping and as a team, the Phillies are hitting at an average of .301 with 7 homers and 36 RBI. And still, I am a bit sleepy about the whole thing.
In my boredom today, I decided to scan through this week’s MLB headlines to see what was going on around the league. Here are a few fun tidbits I came across in my search:
Yankees shortstop and baseball God, Derek Jeter, sat out of a Spring Training game with flu symptoms. And then an Angel lost its wings :O(
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The Mets Jose Reyes may not be ready to play on Opening Day. His thyroid hormone blood levels are elevated and he is not supposed to do anything that could raise his heart rate. You know, things like showboating on the base paths or talking to Federal agents about his Canadian doctor’s link to performance-enhancing drugs…stuff like that.
Come on Opening Day! Get here….quick!
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Reyes photo by Jenn
Garciaparra photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
Disappointment: The feeling of dissatisfaction that follows the failure of expectations to manifest. It is a source of psychological stress. Synonyms: failure, defeat, frustration (courtesy of Wikipedia).
And disappointment is what Philadelphia is left with after their failure to repeat as World Champions. Instead, with a 3-7 Phillies loss tonight, the Yankees brought home their 27th World Series title. The Phillies are left with the consolation prize as National League Champs.
After winning Game 1, the Phillies looked poised for a repeat. Game 2 went to the Yankees in a relatively fair battle. Game 3 was the real turning point as Cole Hamels did not perform well and the offense could not bail him out. But things got much worse in Game 4 where Brad Lidge gave up 3 runs in the 9th after the Phillies had battled to tie up the game prior to that. The Hamels and Lidge killer combo made for two gut-wrenching losses and a serious turn in the tide.
Cliff Lee won his second game of the series in Game 5 and kept the Phillies alive for one more day, along with the bat of Chase Utley which appeared unstoppable. But back in New York for Game 6, Utley and the Phillies were stopped.
Pitching wins ball games and the Yankees had better pitching. Andy Pettitte was spectacular on only 3 days rest. Pedro Martinez, on the other hand, had a full 5 days rest and still gave up 4 runs in 4 innings. All 4 of those runs, plus 2 more later in the game, came off the bat of Hideki Matsui. After hitting a homer off Martinez in Game 2 and then again tonight in the 2nd inning, why Martinez was left in the game to pitch to Matsui again in the 3rd is a mystery. JA Happ was up and ready in the bullpen, but Charlie Manuel left Martinez in to pitch to a guy who clearly had his number. That mistake was the back-breaker as Matsui hit a 2-run single.
The bullpen gave up 3 more runs and the 7-1 deficit looked to be near impossible to erase for the Phillies. The offense attempted to battle back; Ryan Howard knocked a 2-run homer in the 6th but then Pedro Feliz left his 5th base runner of the night stranded as he grounded out to third base. In the 7th, the previously clutch Chase Utley struck out with 2 outs and 2 men on base. That put the nail in the coffin.
So the Phillies came up short, which just plain sucks. But they put up a good fight and overall, the season was a great success. To have made it back to the World Series two years in a row is quite an accomplishment. And while that does not make us feel any better right now, remember you will not be suffering alone. It’s me, you, a bottle of Vodka and a tiny dancing bear wearing a pink tutu…oh sorry, I digress… Just find your happy place, go there and do not come out until Spring Training. At least that is what the voices in my head keep telling me…
Congratulations to the Yankees and their fans, especially my Yankee friends here in the MLBlogs community. Enjoy the moment.
By the way, as luck would have it, there was an article printed about me in the local newspaper today about my Phillies-fandom. So, not only do the Phillies lose today, but the reporter totally spelt my name wrong. What does this mean? Tomorrow, total strangers who recognize me from the paper will either console or harass me over this loss. If you see me wandering about with that target on my back, please be kind ;O) Thank you in advance…
If this were the circus, the Ut-Lee Show might replace Ringling Brothers as the Greatest Show On Earth. For the second time in this World Series against the Yankees, Cliff Lee and Chase Utley have joined forces to win a crucial game for the Phillies. Game 5 was a must win as a loss would have sent them home empty handed. The Phillies pulled off an 8-6 win and this series will head back to New York for Game 6.
Chase Utley set the tone in the first inning. Jimmy Rollins led off with a single and then Shane Victorino took a wicked hit to his hand with a pitch that got away from AJ Burnett. Utley made the Yankees pay by smacking a 3-run homer off Burnett on the first pitch he saw. Utley homered again in the 7th inning and ended with 4 RBI, 2 hits, a walk and 3 runs scored. And those 2 homers gave Utley 5 total for this World Series, a total previously matched only by Reggie Jackson in 1977 and Utley did it in one less game. Move over, Mr. October!
As for the non-Utley offense, Raul Ibanez woke from his slumber and hit a solo shot in the 7th. Ibanez had another RBI on a single earlier in the game too. But Ryan Howard is still slumping; he walked twice and did not have a hit in the game. Then there is Cliff Lee, who has the highest average on the team for this series; he had another hit last night and is batting .333.
On the mound, Lee became the first Phillies pitcher since Steve Carlton in 1980 to win two games in the same World Series with his performance last night. Lee allowed only 2 runs over 7 innings, although he got into trouble in the 8th and 3 more runs scored. But Lee probably should not have been sent out for the 8th at all if the Phillies were considering using Lee on short rest for a possible Game 7. And in the post-game conference, Charlie Manuel and Lee indicated that the Game 7 scenario was a possibility.
The move to leave Lee in is telling; first, it shows confidence in Lee. But more importantly, it also shows that Manuel is still unsure about his bullpen, which is not surprising. Brad Lidge blew a tie in Game 4, which the Phillies then lost. Ryan Madson has been shaky and allowed 3 hits and 1 run before saving the game last night in a nail biter of an inning.
The rest of the starters have been inconsistent as well. No one is sure what to expect from Pedro Martinez tomorrow; Joe Blanton has not had a good post-season; and Cole Hamels will likely not pitch again after several disasters and his diarrhea-of-the-mouth episode in which he wished for the season to be over. Lee cannot pitch every game so Martinez will need to come up big if the Phillies are to have a shot at repeating.
The good news is, the Phillies have momentum with the win last night. The bad news is, the Yankees are not going to give in and will have their home town crowd to support them. Andy Pettitte will be on 3 days rest, but Pettitte is better on 3 days rest than many pitchers on full rest. And so the battle begins at 7:57pm on Wednesday night.
Here is the full Photo Album from Game 5; the last game of the year at Citizens Bank Park. Go Phillies!
Photos by Jenn
Last year, the Phillies won the World Series behind the strength of Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge. This year, they are likely going to lose the World Series because of the failure of those same two players. What was a dream World Series match-up for many has now turned into a nightmare for the Phillies.
The Yankees are up 3 games to 1 in the series and there is no tomorrow for the Phillies. Winning 3 games in a row is not impossible; the Phils did that many times this year. But against this Yankees team, it appears to be an insurmountable climb. But it is not over until it is over and Cliff Lee will pitch tonight.
As for last night’s 7-4 loss, Joe Blanton had a Blah-anton-like performance, giving up 4 runs in 6 innings on 5 hits and 2 walks. Overall, he did not have a good post-season at all and ended with a 6.00 ERA, assuming he does not pitch again. Much like Cole Hamels the day before, Blanton looked good for about 3 innings after a horrible 2-run 1st inning. If he had held it to those 1st two runs, that would have been great. But, no such luck.
The offense scratched and clawed at CC Sabathia to get back into the game and did manage to score 3 runs off him, including Chase Utley’s 3rd solo homer off CC this post-season. But two hottest hitters this week, went hitless: Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz. And Raul Ibanez continues to be worthless at the plate; he is batting .188. Pedro Feliz had suffered as well, but came up with a 3 hit night, including the game tying home run in the 8th inning.
But the heroics by Feliz, which at the time felt like a real positive, were quickly squashed by another Brad Lidge disaster. Lidge came into the 9th with a 4-4 tie and got the first two outs in the blink of an eye. But that 3rd out still eludes Lidge, as it has all year long. He gave up a hit to Johnny Damon who then blew the game wide open.
The Phillies put the shift on for Mark Teixiera, so Feliz was covering 2nd base. Now, we all know that every base runner steals on Lidge, right? Well, we all know that except maybe Lidge, who appeared confused by what has become routine for him. The problem here is that no one was covering 3rd base and Damon kept right on going. After the game, Lidge was asked who should have covered 3rd and he said, “I don’t know.” News flash: it was you, Brad! Ugh.
Then with the runner on 3rd, he proceeded to hit Teixiera with a pitch. This is where I believe it really went to hell; Teixiera had ONE hit all series long. This was not the guy to screw up with. If he was going to get out of the inning, Teixiera was the guy to go after. BIG mistake. After that, the rest is history; an A-Rod single scored Damon and Jorge Posada knocked in two more. And Lidge walks off with an ERA of 27.00. Yikes!
I am going to the game tonight and hopefully, I will not have to witness the Phillies going down in flames. But it does not look good right now, except for the fact that Cliff Lee will pitch. Lee has been the only bright light thus far in the World Series for the Phillies pitchers, but he cannot do this alone. I wish him (and me) luck tonight!
Photo by Jenn