The Phillies newest, shiny toy arrived at the ballpark today. Right fielder Hunter Pence pumped his fists as he entered the tunnel under the stadium, looking excited to explore his new home.
The excitement is understandable; Pence just got traded from a team with 35 wins to a team with 66 wins and the best record in baseball. The fans shared his exuberance as they cheered him during batting practice and gave Pence a standing ovation when he arrived in right field to start the game against the Pirates. Pence waived to the fans cheerfully in appreciation.
Even his first at-bat was exciting; Pence ran out what should have been an infield hit but was called out by the umpire. The replay showed he was clearly safe as fans watched manager Charlie Manuel argue with the ump in defense of his newest player.
It took Pence until the eighth inning to finally get a hit in the game. Regardless, he had to be relieved with the RBI-single he finally put in the books. Now that his first Phillies hit is on record, it should be business as usual for Pence.
As for Ryan Howard, the business was not so usual, but certainly good. Having Pence in the five-hole behind him had to be a welcome sight. Hitting without any real protection all year, Howard finally has a solid hitter to back him up. Taking full advantage, Howard went just a triple short of the cycle and had three RBI on four hits.
Most notably, Howard’s second hit of the game, an RBI-single in the fourth inning, was his 1,000th career hit. Congratulations to Ryan!
As for the pitching, Cliff Lee started the game hoping he could bounce back from an awful outing on Monday against the Padres. In that game, Lee lasted only four innings after allowing five runs.
Tonight, Lee did well through seven innings where he gave up only two runs. But Lee was left in the game too long and he ran into trouble in the eighth. The hits kept coming for the Pirates and two more runs crossed the plate, bringing the Bucos closer to a comeback with a 6-4 score.
Reliever Antonio Bastardo was brought in with two runners on base and two outs. In his usual form, Bastardo shut down the Pirates by striking out Pedro Alvarez to end the inning.
The run added by Pence in the eighth gave the Phillies a little more cushion with a 7-4 lead. That was plenty for Ryan Madson who closed out the game for another Phillies victory.
Game three with the Pirates is Sunday at 1:35pm; Vance Worley will pitch. In Worley’s last start, he pitched a complete game against the Giants. It will be interesting to see how he responds after tossing 114 pitches in that start.
Check back Sunday night for game photos…see you there!
Roster Move Update:
Domonic Brown and Andrew Carpenter were sent to Triple-A to make room for Pence and Placido Polanco, who came off the DL today. Brown will begin to work at left field, which is where the Phillies project he will be next season.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
July 29th has been a significant day in recent Phillies history. On July 29, 2009, the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee. That same day in 2010, they picked up Roy Oswalt. And this year, Hunter Pence is the big prize.
A report from Phillies Beat Writer Todd Zolecki states that Pence will be sent from the Astros to the Phillies in exchange for Class A first baseman Jonathan Singleton, Class A pitcher Jarred Cosart and two yet unnamed prospects.
The best news of the night is that neither pitcher Vance Worley or outfielder Domonic Brown were included in the deal. While the two named prospects are highly touted, the Phillies really pulled off an amazing deal without having to give up any major league talent. This is another huge score for Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
Pence, 28, is a lifetime .290 hitter and 2-time All-Star who combines both power and speed. Pence hit 25 home runs each year from 2008-2010 and had a career high 91 RBI’s last season. In addition, Pence cannot become a free agent until the 2014 season, putting the Phillies in control for years to come.
With the addition of Pence and also Placido Polanco returning from the DL this weekend, two moves will have to be made. My best guess is that Brown will be sent back to Triple-A to work on his game. The second casualty could be John Mayberry Jr.
While the playoffs and the World Series are promised to no one, the addition of Pence certainly does improve the Phillies’ chances.
And in case you missed it amidst all the excitement, there was actually a game tonight. The Phillies beat the Pirates by a score of 10-3 with Roy Halladay pitching seven one-hit innings. Andrew Carpenter allowed three runs in the eighth.
The offensive highlights included Chase Utley coming up just a double short of hitting for the cycle. His 3-run homer in the second inning put the Phillies far ahead very early.
Shane Victorino also came close to hitting for the cycle, but missed out on the home run. Jimmy Rollins smacked a 2-run homer in the seventh, but sadly for Victorino, he was not allowed to share the homer and help out his buddy Shane.
Oddly enough, Rollins hit that home run off pitcher Jason Grilli, who until a week ago was in the Phillies minor league system. The Pirates picked him up after the Phillies released him on July 20, 2011.
This is now set up to be a very exciting weekend for the Phillies. When Pence will be in the line-up probably depends on how soon he can get here from Houston. Add Polanco back into the line-up and the Phillies are set up nicely for a strong run to the playoffs.
Game two with the Pirates is Saturday night at 7:05pm; Cliff Lee will pitch.
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Photo by http://blogs.houstonpress.com/
On Tuesday night, the Phillies pounded the Marlins to the tune of 14 runs, their highest run total for a single game this year. The Phils played solid baseball while winning the first two games of this series. But tonight was a different story.
Sloppy play and mental mistakes highlighted Wednesday night’s game. Chase Utley got caught in a run down after wandering too far off first base after getting a hit in the first. John Mayberry Jr. dropped a ball in center that hit the webbing of his glove. Domonic Brown let an easy ball bounce right past him in left, allowing two runs to score in the third. And Michael Stutes made a throwing error on a pick-off attempt in the eighth.
In the midst of all the errors, Brown was called out after a triple; the umpire says he did not touch the base. In the replay, it looks like the umpire, who did not get in proper position to make such a call, screwed up. Frankly, if the ump is too lazy to get into position, he has no business making these calls.
There were still a few highlights. Mayberry had his first multi-home run game of his career with two homers and three RBI on the night. Jimmy Rollins hit a homer as well and has six hits in the last two games.
But the pitching tonight was not great. Even with six runs scored, the Phils could not hang onto the lead. Kyle Kendrick gave up three runs in five innings; David Herndon allowed two runs in 2/3 of an inning. Then Andrew Carpenter collected a blown save in the seventh, allowing the Fish to tie the game, 6-6. And the final blow came from Danys Baez who allowed a game winning homer in the 10th to Mike Stanton.
The Phillies have Thursday off to get their heads back on straight before facing the Braves on Friday. That will be a huge series as the Braves are right on the Phillies heels for first place in the NL East.
Neither Shane Victorino or Placido Polanco are available to play right now either, which complicates the situation. Victorino has a mild thumb sprain and Polanco is going to see a back specialist. More on that later…good night, all!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In his much anticipated start to 2010, Cole Hamels had a fairly good day in an 8-4 win over the Nationals. He only managed to get through 5 innings with 2 earned runs and one unearned, but for his first start of the year, it was not bad. When he led off the game by walking the first batter on 4 pitches, fans cringed for a moment. But Hamels bounced back and did not have trouble again until the 3rd inning; he walked 2 more batters with 2 outs then allowed an RBI single. 2 runs scored that inning and his pitch count began to rise.
It did appear that the home plate umpire was squeezing the pitchers on both sides, which did not help matters. So with 103 pitches thrown by the end of the 5th, Hamels was done for the day. His arm speed looked good today, but his control still needs some work. Overall, it was a good first effort and hopefully the next start for Hamels will be even more productive.
Ryan Howard extended the 4th inning for Hamels a bit with an error on a ball to first that probably should have ended the inning. But Howard made up for the blunder by smashing a 2-run homer in the 5th. That is 2 games and 2 home runs for Howard; and for good measure, he hit an RBI double as well. Chase Utley had 2 hits, a walk and an RBI, in typical Utley style. Even Hamels joined the RBI party with a single to score Shane Victorino in the 4th.
After Hamels left the game, Chad Durbin did an outstanding job and went 2 scoreless innings. Danys Baez did not fare as well in the 8th, allowing 2 hits and a run in 1/3 of an inning. Antonio Bastardo came in to get the 2nd out and Ryan Madson struck out Ian Desmond for the 3rd out. Madson got the ball for the 9th as well and closed out the game for his first save of the year.
In these 1st two games of 2010, the Nationals pitchers have walked 17 Phillies batters. As our fearless TV announcer Gary “Sarge” Matthews said, “You don’t want to walk batters.” That is our Sarge; King of the Obvious. If the Nats can keep up this streak tomorrow, the Phils may just sweep this first 3-game series.
Roster Moves and Injury Updates
The Phillies also made a pitching move today, picking up Nelson Figueroa off waivers after the Mets let him go. He went 3-8 with a 4.09 ERA in 16 games last year for the Mets. Figueroa pitched for the Phils in 2001 and according to GM Ruben Amaro Jr., he will join the club tomorrow and a roster move will be made to make room. Look for Andrew Carpenter to be sent to AAA; Figueroa will take the long-man role in the pen.
In injury news, JC Romero is going to make a rehab appearance Thursday in Clearwater. Brad Lidge is not as far along, but he will toss a bullpen session tomorrow. Joe Blanton threw 60 pitches today from flat ground, which went well, but his recovery time is still projected to be about 3-6 weeks.
So tomorrow the Phillies will finish up in DC at 4:35pm with Kyle Kendrick starting in place of the injured Blanton. Then they are off to Houston for 3 games. There is no official word yet on who will start the Phillies Home Opener on the 12th, but if they follow the regular rotation, it looks like it will be Hamels.
Photo by Jenn
So another Opening Day has passed and the Phillies are on their way to global dominance…or, something like it anyway ;o) If you missed my photos from the event, check out the PHOTO ALBUM which includes Opening Day ceremonies, President Obama’s first pitch and game action.
And now it is time to start the season off right and introduce yourselves to the newest members of the 2010 Phillies. The first one is easy…if you do not know who Roy Halladay is, you are clearly not a Phillies fan. No worries though…only one game has passed; you have time to catch up . Here is Mr. Halladay on the right with his very, very serious pre-game face on. This former Cy Young winner goes by the nickname “Doc” and he is pretty amazing. Enough said.
The few players you may not know well include pitchers Danys Baez, Jose Contreras and David Herndon; outfielder Ross Gload, infielder Juan Castro and catcher Brian Schneider, pictured here in that order from left to right, top to bottom:
Both Baez and Contreras are Cuban defectors; Baez is in his 9th major league season, pitched last for the Orioles and has a name that defies normal spelling rules. Contreras, not as hard to spell, is in his 7th season and helped the Yankees coin the term “Evil Empire” when they signed him over the Red Sox back in 2002. In other words, the Sox were pissed….end of story.
Herndon was in the Angels minor leagues last year and this will be his first shot at the bigs. Ladies, he is single and plays the guitar…go get him! I kid…
As for Gload, this is his 9th season in the majors and his 6th team. He is a lifetime .283 hitter and should be a solid bench player for the Phillies. Castro is another veteran going into his 16th season; he will be 38 in June and may start taking the same youth-inducing vitamins Jamie Moyer does ;o) He is not a power hitter, but will be a good defensive back-up for the infield. Schneider, formerly of the Mets and Nationals, is very familiar with the Phillies. And as a former Phillies-killer, we are glad to have him on our side now. His 11th season will be served as back-up to Carlos Ruiz.
And as a bonus, here are a few guys who are not really new, but you may not know them. Pitchers Antonio Bastardo and Drew Carpenter are still rookies who spent a very short time with the Phillies last year. They spent most of 2009 in the Phillies minors.
And then there is Placido Polanco, who returns to the Phillies after almost a 5 year absence; he was traded in 2005 to the Tigers. But after his record-setting performance of 6 RBI in one game yesterday, the most by any Phillie on Opening Day, I am confident you now know who he is. Welcome back, Polly!
Cole Hamels will take the mound against the Nationals in game 2 tomorrow at 7:05pm…Go Phillies!
Photos by Jenn
The Phillies prevailed over the Pirates today by a score of 4-3 in the final spring exhibition game. This win brings their Spring Training record to 15 wins, 12 losses and 1 tie. Spring numbers do not mean a whole lot, however, so we will all be very glad to see the real games begin on Monday.
JA Happ started the game today and pitched 3 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits. In the second inning, Happ loaded the bases with no outs and still only managed to give up the one run, thanks in part to some nice defense.
One thing that has stood out the past 3 springs is the effort this team puts forth, even in games that do not mean anything. Phillies players give 100% effort even in Spring Training. It is refreshing to see that they do not hold back and always play the game the right way. Here are just a few of the highlights from today’s game:
In addition to the field acrobatics, a few players stood out at the plate as well. Jayson Werth hit a solo homer in the 4th inning and both Chase Utley and Shane Victorino had 2 hits and 1 RBI each. Raul Ibanez had a rough Spring overall, but he did collect one more hit today to improve his average to .130. The low average is due to his very slow start, but Ibanez looks more comfortable at the plate now and hopefully, he is ready to compete.
The roster is nearly set now; after the game, the following players were assigned to AAA – catcher Paul Hoover, infielders Cody Ransom and Wilson Valdez and outfielder Dewayne Wise. That leaves Juan Castro, Ross Gload, Ben Francisco and Greg Dobbs as the bench players, as well as back-up catcher Brian Schneider.
Three pitchers were placed in the DL retroactive to March 26; Joe Blanton, Brad Lidge and JC Romero. These are not surprises. There are 11 pitchers left on the active roster after these moves, which leaves one spot open for a bullpen pitcher after losing Blanton and moving Kyle Kendrick to the starting rotation. Who the #12 guy will be has not yet been announced, although it is expected to be right-hander Andrew Carpenter.
Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game. I will also be at the Opener in DC on Monday and will bring back photos from that one as well. President Obama will toss the first pitch…see you there!
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Photos by Jenn
Well, they cured the offensive woes anyway. The Phillies completed a 4-game sweep of the Nationals this afternoon with an 8-6 win and Brad Lidge threw only 2 pitches to get the save. The starting pitching, however, still has BIG issues, not the least of which is Chan Ho Park. You know how I hate to repeat myself, but I have been wondering if Park’s last 2 good outings were a fluke; a result of the pressure on him to keep his job. Once the pressure was seemingly off him today because of those 2 good games, he went right back to stinking up the joint.
Park could have been pulled after one inning, where he gave up 3 runs to the lowly Nationals. But Charlie Manuel sent him out for a 2nd inning; Park got 1 out and then proceeded to load the bases and walk a run in. So, that was that. 1 1/3 innings is the official line with 5 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks. Jack Taschner added the 5th run when he came in on relief and hit the next batter, sending another run home. Something needs to be done with Park. It is clear now that, as I suspected, he only pitches well when threatened with losing his job. We need a starter who is self-motivated.
The good news amidst all the starting pitching hoopla is that the offense found their bats in this series against the Nats. Jimmy Rollins had 7 hits in this series and is slowly digging out of an early offensive hole. Raul Ibanez continues to impress; he had 9 hits and 3 home runs in the last 4 games! And Pedro Feliz had 7 hits in the series. Everyone is contributing, and things are beginning to look up.
A few other pitching notes for the series: Andrew Carpenter came up from AA for the day yesterday to pitch the 2nd game of the doubleheader and got the job done. He gave up 5 runs in 4 1/3 innings, but he gave them the innings they needed and the offense, plus a rain-shortened night, gave the Phils the 7-5 win. Carpenter went back to AA and Sergio Escalona, 24, was called in to replace him. Escalona, in his major league debut today, pitched one scoreless inning and earned the win. Congrats to the rookies!
The Phillies will take tomorrow off and then begin a 3 game series in Cincinnati, continuing the long road trip. Who will be starting for the Phillies? Nothing is written in stone right now. Jamie Moyer had his schedules Tuesday start pushed back to Wednesday; Joe Blanton has been terrible; and I think we all know how Park is doing. A lot of decisions are going to have to be made soon.
Photos by Jenn
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