According to Wikipedia, the Big Bang Theory refers to the idea that the universe was originally extremely hot and dense at some finite time in the past and has since cooled by expanding to the present diluted state and continues to expand today. The same theory can be used to explain the Phillies 2010 season thus far. They got off to a very hot start in April, cooled off from May to most of July and are now “expanding.” Although, “exploding” may be a more accurate term.
At first, having to face the best pitcher in the National League today did not seem like good news for the struggling Phillies offense. But after scoring 6 runs yesterday, maybe they got some of their Mojo back. Because they absolutely destroyed the Rockies ace, Ubaldo Jimenez.
Jimenez entered the game with a record of 15-1 and a miniscule 2.38 ERA. But he left the game after only 2 innings and 6 runs allowed on 3 hits and 6 walks. All 6 runs scored in the top of the 3rd inning without Jimenez even recording an out.
It was starting to look like the “diluted” state of the Phils offense was about to pass. The Rockies bullpen gave up one more run, but finally, after 30 minutes, got out of the bottom of the 3rd inning.
Jimmy Rollins, very comfy back in his leadoff spot, kicked off the 3rd inning with a single to left. The next two batters walked as Jimenez started to look rattled. Then Ryan Howard smacked a triple down the 1st base line. The walks kept coming and Rollins hit a triple to score two more runs in his second at-bat of the inning. The Rockies must have wondered if that inning was ever going to end.
While the inning did have to end eventually, the Phillies kept trying to add on and give pitcher Kyle Kendrick a huge cushion. Kendrick had extra motivation to pitch well today. In his last outing, Kendrick allowed 7 runs and was then demoted to the minors. You had to expect a solid effort today as the injury to Jamie Moyer forced the Phillies to give Kendrick one more shot.
Kendrick took advantage of the unexpected opportunity and pitched very well. By the 7th inning, Kendrick had an 8 run lead to work with and he had allowed only 1 run at that point. He loaded the bases in the 7th with 2 outs, but managed to get out of it with a fly ball to center. So Kendrick went 7 innings, allowing 1 run on a solo homer. This result was more than anyone could have hoped for from Kendrick.
There were a number of positives to come out of this game, aside from the obvious…a win. Rollins looks like the player of old again with 3 big hits, a stolen base and 3 RBI. Raul Ibanez is still loving the 3-hole in the line-up; he had his own big bang with 2-run homer in the 6th. Jayson Werth had 2 hits and Howard racked up 3 more RBI. Placido Polanco played 2nd base today and Greg Dobbs was at third, which turned out to be a good move. Polanco had 2 hits and Dobbs added a hit, an RBI and a walk and played well at 3rd. Even Ben Francisco got a pinch-hit double.
So is this the big bang the Phillies have been waiting for to kick start their offense? A 10-2 win preceded by a 6-0 win should serve as a very good sign. The players that have not been hitting are coming back to life. It is a welcome sight for sure.
Another note of interest, rookie Vance Worley made his major league debut today, pitching the 9th inning for the Phillies. The 22-year old righty starter was 9-4 with a 3.20 ERA in AA ball for the R-Phils; he had pitched 17 consecutive scoreless innings in his last two games before being called up to the Phils to work in the bullpen. Worley was a 3rd round draft pick in 2008 and has made considerable strides since pitching at a 5.34 ERA last year.
In today’s 9th inning, Worley’s fast ball topped out at 95 mph with a 76 mph curve ball and an 83-84mph slider. He looked solid, changed speeds well and the end result was 2 strikeouts and a fly ball out to center. Great job by the rookie!
So, if JA Happ can give the Phillies a solid start tomorrow, they have a shot at winning 4 in a row which has not happened since before the All-Star break. I will be at the game and shall return with photos. See you there!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Before the Phillies – Cubs game today, Placido Polanco returned from the DL. Juan Castro, who has not contributed too much lately, was released to make room. It is good to have Polly back! But instead of giving the team a spark, they kept playing like they were in a coma.
By the 9th inning, down 0-1, it looked like the sleeping Phils were about to lose their 3rd straight to the Cubs. But then a miracle occurred; the Cubs bullpen took pity on them and walked two batters. Then with two outs, Polly came through with a base hit and Brian Schneider tried to score. He should have been out by a mile, but the very kind Cubbies took pity again; an off-line throw home kept Schneider safe.
However, the Cubs bullpen was not fully satisfied with their charity. Pitcher Carlos Marmol tossed a wild pitch and Ross Gload scored. Then Marmol intentionally walked Ryan Howard and not-so-intentionally walked Jayson Werth to score another run for the Phillies.
Pitcher James Russell wanted in on this charitable action! So he gave up a single to Raul Ibanez, which scored the 4th run of the inning. Ok, maybe Ibanez had a little to do with the hit…
Actually, Ibanez had two hits in the game, as did Werth and Shane Victorino. But they left many, many men on base through 8 innings and could not score a run. Of course, the Phillies will take a win anyway they can get it, even if it is handed to them on a silver platter.
So they went on to win by a score of 4-1. However, something still seems to be very wrong with the Phillies. Is it a lack of enthusiasm? Or perhaps it is just another slump? No, I think not. Based on the evidence, I am going to have to say it must be brain damage. Take a look at the facts from today’s game:
– Victorino got thrown out at second base…twice. Once, he was stealing and once he was trying to stretch a single into a double. Conclusion: brain damage.
– Wilson Valdez forgot to cover first base on a Cubs bunt and allowed the runner to get safely to first while a run scored. And later in the game, Valdez dropped a pop-up. Conclusion: brain damage.
– Cole Hamels pitched an AMAZING game, allowing only 1 run in 7 innings. Yet, the offense did NOTHING to help him out. He got a no decision. Conclusion: brain damage.
– The Phillies lost the first two games of this series to a team that sucks. Sorry Cubs fans, no disrespect, but this team is not good and is now 10 games under .500. Conclusion: You guessed it, brain damage.
So the question now remains, will this 9th inning comeback today be the cure for their brain damage? They swept the Reds going into the All-Star break, with 3 of the 4 wins coming in extra innings. They returned from the break and dropped two to the Cubs. So the Reds series did not have a huge impact. Will today’s game propel them forward? We shall see…
Roy Halladay will be the next Phillies pitcher to pray for some runs. Game time tomorrow is 8:05pm.
Howard & Pinella photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
In the first game of the Phillies – Cubs series last night, it started well for the Phils with a two-run homer from Ryan Howard in the first inning. But right away, pitcher Jamie Moyer gave those runs back. By the end of 3 innings, Moyer gave up 6 runs on 5 hits and had to be pulled from the game.
The Phillies wound up using 7 different pitchers in the game. The worst of those were Jose Contreras, allowing 5 more runs and Danys Baez adding one more to the thumping. The offense did nothing after the Howard homer until the 9th inning.
By that time, the Phils were down 12-2 so the 4 runs they scored in the 9th made little difference. Although, Howard hit bookend homers in the game; the 2-run shot in the 1st and another 2-run shot in the 9th.
Coming into today’s game having lost the first, Howard tried again to spark his team. After Shane Victorino homered in the 4th, Howard hit another 2-run bomb in the 6th, giving the Phils a 3-1 lead. But as was the case the day before, the starting pitcher gave those 2 runs right back again.
Joe Blanton looked like he might have a good outing until in the 5th, with the bases loaded, he walked the opposing pitcher. And then in the 6th after the Howard homer, Blanton gave up a 2-run homer to former Phillie Marlon Byrd to tie the game. And to make matters worse, all 3 of those runs scored with 2 outs in the inning.
Ryan Madson ran into the same 2-out trouble in the 8th inning. Aramis Ramirez hit a solo homer, giving the Cubs a 4-3 lead. The Phillies did nothing to help themselves in the 9th. Jayson Werth struck out looking for the 3rd time in one game and he has no hits in the series so far. Ben Francisco also struck out looking 3 times. As a team, the Phillies struck out fourteen times! Disgusting.
The Phillies offense, except for Howard, looks pathetic right now and the pitching has not been good. While we are only 2 games out of the All-Star break, this is very concerning. The good news is, Cole Hamels pitches tomorrow and Roy Halladay on Sunday. But as far as the good news goes, that is it.
So let us have a little fun for a moment. Is it just me, or did anyone else think that the Cubs catching gear looks a bit like R2D2?
The National League entered today’s All-Star Game not having won against the American League since 1996. That win took place in Philadelphia. Manager Charlie Manuel and the Phillies coaching staff had a huge task on their hands for the second consecutive year, trying to win World Series home field advantage for the NL.
Two Phillies took part in the game today; Chase Utley stayed home as he is recovering from surgery on his thumb. Ryan Howard served as the DH and went 0 for 2; but hits were difficult to come by in this game. Through 6 innings, the both teams had only 4 hits each. Two of the hits for the AL came off Phillie Roy Halladay, although one hit was a pop-up that landed in the middle of nowhere and ex-Phillie Marlon Byrd could not quite get to it.
The AL struck first in the 5th as Dodger’s pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo allowed an unearned run after a costly error where he overthrew 1st base on an easy grounder. He had already walked a batter, then the error gave the AL two runners and a sac fly scored Evan Longoria.
But the NL fought back in the 7th. Another ex-Phillie, Scott Rolen, singled followed by a Matt Holliday single. Rolen’s aggressive base running put him on third base. Byrd walked with 2 outs and then Braves catcher, Brian McCann, hit a bases-clearing double to give the NL the lead. Two runs were charged to Yankee Phil Hughes and another to White Sox Matt Thornton.
In the bottom of the 7th, Holliday took a bad route to a ball in left and it went off his glove, giving Blue Jay John Buck a double instead of an out. Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals was pitching but Holliday could not help out his teammate. Shane Victorino could have caught that ball from either left or center…just saying ;o)
So it would come down to the 9th inning. The NL did not score and Manuel brought in another Dodger, Jonathan Broxton, to try and nail down the save and the win for the NL. Broxton gave up a hit right away to the Home Run Derby champ, David Ortiz. He struck out the next batter but gave up a single to Buck. However, with Big Papi Ortiz running, Byrd was able to throw him out at second from right field. That was an amazing, heads-up play by Byrd! The next batter flew out and the National League won it!! FINALLY! A win for the NL! Way to go, Charlie! Now, let see if the Phillies can actually use the home field advantage this year; that, of course, would require a third straight trip to the World Series. Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
But to Wainwright’s credit, he worked out of the inning without allowing a run. Whew! So the NL went into the 8th inning with a 3-1 lead. The NL did not score in the 8th and Giants closer, Brian Wilson, erased the AL batters in the bottom of the inning. Personally, I think the mohawk is his secret weapon.
So it would come down to the 9th inning. The NL did not score and Manuel brought in another Dodger, Jonathan Broxton, to try and nail down the save and the win for the NL. Broxton gave up a hit right away to the Home Run Derby champ, David Ortiz. He struck out the next batter but gave up a single to Buck. However, with Big Papi Ortiz running, Byrd was able to throw him out at second from right field. That was an amazing, heads-up play by Byrd!
The next batter flew out and the National League won it!! FINALLY! A win for the NL! Way to go, Charlie! Now, let see if the Phillies can actually use the home field advantage this year; that, of course, would require a third straight trip to the World Series.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies beat the Reds today to complete a 4-game sweep and head into the All-Star break. And for the first time this week, they did not need extra innings or a walk-off hit to beat them. And although the 1-0 victory was a very tight game, it felt more like the Phillies were in the driver’s seat the whole game.
Most of that had to do with the performance, and confidence, of pitcher Cole Hamels. He finally looked like the 2008 World Series MVP again. Not only was Hamels making his pitches, but he looked determined on the mound. More importantly, he was never rattled by bad calls or bad plays; and there were plenty of those to go around.
For instance, Ryan Howard dropped a pop-up. In his defense, it was a tough play. Also the first base umpire called a runner safe when replay showed he was out by a good amount. And then there was the home plate umpire who had a strike zone most of the day that was about the size of a pea. As the weather got hotter though, it looked like he expanded it a little. See here as a pitch to Carlos Ruiz is called a strike; note that the ball crosses the plate at his elbow. And here is the Howard play as well:
But despite the miscues, Hamels kept right on pitching with fervor. After Howard dropped the ball and the ump blew the call at first, in both cases Hamels got a double play to erase the mistakes. You cannot ask for more than that from your pitcher; well done. Here are a few more photos:
Not so well done was the following: TWO fan interference calls which necessitated TWO booth reviews on balls that looked like home runs. Ruiz hit the first one, but on replay it was a double and the fan really did not affect it too much.
The next one was a hit by Jayson Werth where the fan reached over the wall and snagged the ball. While it also was not a homer, had the ball been left alone, it would have bounced off the wall. Centerfielder Drew Stubbs was jumping up for the ball, which then would have bounced far away from him, possibly enabling Werth to go to third base or even score an inside-the-park homer. But because of the fan, it was a ground rule double and we will never know what could have been.
Ok people, I am officially putting Stupid Fans ON NOTICE. Not all Phils fans; just the STUPID ones (you know who you are). One day soon, if this trend continues, like the fan who took a pop-up away from Werth on Thursday, a fan is going to cost this team a game. Mark my words: it will happen. Today it did not; Thursday it did not; but it is coming. If you are lucky enough to have a seat in the front row of a section and simple cannot or will not pay full attention to the game and its rules, give your seat to someone who will.
And the Phillies need to start cracking down on this behavior. Anyone who leans into the field of play or interfere’s with a player should be ejected and fined. The Phils “say” they will do this, but more times than not, I see the same idiot fan still in his seat, waiting to ruin another play. Let’s put it this way, follow the rules and respect the game otherwise, I will suggest to the Phillies that they have Jayson Werth run around the stadium and cuss out the entire front row. You know he will do it ;o)
And no, I do not condone Werth’s language during the incident on Thursday. It did make me sad for that poor kid. But he did have a point. If you are a fan of the game, act like one. PAY ATTENTION. Thank you.
And now back to the game :O) Sorry for the rant interlude…
The Phillies offense had only 4 hits and 1 run as both pitchers were doing well. Jimmy Rollins had 2 of the 4 hits plus the lone RBI; the other two hits were the fan-interference doubles. Hamels wound up pitching 7 2/3 innings without allowing a run. Jose Contreras ended the 8th and JC Romero got the first out of the 9th.
Romero looked like he was on fire as he mowed down his one hitter. So when Charlie Manuel came out of the dugout to bring in Brad Lidge for the save, most of the crowd began hollering and boo’ing. Not only did Romero look great, but Lidge has been anything but great this year. With only 5 save in 8 attempts, Lidge makes people nervous. But Manuel is determined Lidge will get better and today, he did. Two quick outs and the save was intact, plus a win for Hamels. Whew!
Here is the full Photo Album from the game.
Closing out the first half of 2010 with a 4-game sweep was a much needed boost to this Phillies team that has struggled most of the year with injuries, slumps and sloppy play. This series could be the engine that propels them into a great second half.
But for now, All-Star fever is upon us. Before today’s game, the coaching staff and players were given their All-Star jerseys. Even the Phanatic got one; he was very excited. And All-Star Mickey Mouse made an appearance at the stadium as well:
Here is the All-Star schedule of events:
July 11: Taco Bell All-Star Sunday at Angel Stadium featuring: XM All-Star Futures Game & Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game; All-Star Game Charity 5K & Fun Run
July 12: Gatorade All-Star Workout Day at Angel Stadium featuring: State Farm Home Run Derby
July 13: 11:30 a.m. – Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet (Parade Route: along Convention Way and Harbor Blvd. ending in Disney Way)
8:00pm – 81st MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Tonight’s final game against the Braves was very important for the Phillies. A loss would bury them 6 games behind the Braves with only 4 games until the All-Star break and no chance to play the Braves again until September. In this situation, you would expect the game to be managed as if it was extremely important; a must-win. That did not happen.
While everyone respects what Jamie Moyer has been able to accomplish this year and over his entire career, this should not give him extra leeway in such an important game. The man is 47 years old and tonight, he had to pitch in 100 degree heat; kudos to Moyer for being able to do this. But the manager has to recognize when a pitcher is simply done for the day.
In the 6th inning, Moyer got an out and then proceeded to have all kinds of trouble. He gave up a home run and a single right away and was visibly exhausted. But does Charlie Manuel even get the bullpen up at this point? No. Moyer continued on, allowing a double, a walk and finally a 3-run double. Four runs had scored and still, Moyer is allowed to keep pitching as sweat poured down his face. Clearly, he could no longer locate his pitches.
The very next batter whacked a 2-run homer and just like that, the Braves were handed a 6-run inning. Danys Baez was finally called in to end the inning. So what should have been a nice, productive outing for Moyer was turned into a demoralizing slaughter because Manuel did not pull him when it was logical to do so.
Manuel is obviously lacking in confidence where the bullpen is concerned as evidenced by his bad habit of leaving starting pitchers in too long. And this lack of confidence is not without cause, however, the lack of work for the bullpen is adding to the rust among that group of pitchers, which also does not help. And tonight, this uncertainty cost Moyer and the entire team.
The offense showed some signs of life with Jimmy Rollins collecting a few hits, Ryan Howard homered for the first time in 10 games and Shane Victorino hit a home run as well. Wilson Valdez had a hit, but also grounded into his 14th double play of the year. This seems to be a daily event for Valdez. But that awful 6th inning put the Phillies into a hole that they could not climb out of. They scored a few more runs, but eventually went down by a score of 5-7.
And now the red-hot Reds come into town for a 4-game series to finish up the first half of the year. Already back 6 games in the division, this Reds series has the potential to bury the Phillies. Kyle Kendrick will pitch tomorrow night at 7:05pm. Cross your fingers, Phillies fans.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Realizing the season is not quite even halfway over, it is hard to say that the Phillies are done. But after losing 3 out of 4 games to the worst team in the league this weekend, it sure does feel that way. Murphy’s Law has ruled this team for about 2 months now where anything that can go wrong does. Massive injuries to star players, a serious and prolonged offensive slump, pitching and hitting never going well on the same day and now this; 3 loses to the Pirates.
The one win in this series came on an offensive explosion of 12 runs. But if the Phillies need to score 12 runs every time to win a game, then I guess their season really may be over.
5 runs on 9 hits today did not cut it. Dane Sardinha, the Phils 4th string catcher, getting two hits and a home run did not help. Greg Dobbs, who is in the worst hitting slump of his career, got a hit and an RBI; no matter though. It also did not help.
The big boys like Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins did absolutely nothing in this game. And besides the solo home run by Sardinha in the 7th, the Phillies offense gave up after the 3rd inning. And then there was the pitching…
While Joe Blanton looked solid through most of the game today, he began to fall apart quickly after 6 innings. He threw 3 pitches at the start of the 7th inning which ended up like this: home run, single, double. Blanton left with one out and Jose Contreras came in with two runners on base. Contreras picked up the disaster right where Blanton left off, allowing a double, a single and 3 more runs to give the Pirates a 6-5 lead. So the Phils entered the 7th with a 3-run lead and the pitching blew it.
It only got worse when Mike Zagurski came in for Contreras and allowed two more runs to score on a 2-out single. So Blanton’s final line was 5 runs over 6 1/3 innings. He was fine through 6 innings, but when Blanton starts to fall apart, he really goes down hard. Then the bullpen totally ruins the day by allowing a 3-run lead to turn into a 3-run deficit…against a last place team. Disgusting.
So the Phillies went on to lose by a score of 5-8. If the Braves win today, the Phillies will enter tomorrow’s 3-game series with the Braves down by 6 games. That means, even if they win the series, they will still be a minimum of 3 games back with only 4 to play before the All-Star break. Or worse, they will lose ground and dig a hole too deep to emerge from.
Does anyone out there think the Phils can sweep the Braves? After losing 3 of 4 to the Pirates, they do not stand a chance. I will be happy to eat those words if they do, but the odds are certainly not in their favor.
With all the recent injuries, many Phillies, like Placido Polanco, dropped off in the All-Star voting late. As a result, the only Phillie to make it in via fan vote was Chase Utley. Utley cannot play due to his recent surgery and will be replaced by Martin Prado of the Braves.
Two more Phillies were added to the roster; Roy Halladay won the player’s vote and Ryan Howard was added by manager Charlie Manuel. Both are very deserving. Halladay’s dominant performances plus the Perfect Game he pitched this year make him an obvious choice. Howard is one of the league leaders in RBI’s with 58 and was batting .296 coming into today’s game.
Earlier today, MLB.com posted the starting rosters for each league. Take a look at the list. Notice anything wrong? Either the writer just got used to typing the word “Yankees” over and over or Evan Longoria was just involved in some weird, mysterious trade. No need to panic Rays fans; Longoria is still in Tampa.
By the way, I hope everyone has a Happy 4th of July, despite the Phillies being a major bummer. This is one of my favorite photos that I have ever taken and it always makes me feel better:
Happy Independence Day!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schultz