As more players continue to drop like flies, manager Charlie Manuel was also forced to miss today’s game against the Pirates due to a suspension. On Thursday night, Manuel bill-butted the umpire with the brim of his hat as he argued a call. Manuel has been ejected 3 times in just over a week, obviously frustrated with how this season is going. This suspension was just one more blow to this already limping Phillies team.
The Phillies went down against the Pirates today with their anemic offense again giving no run support to the pitcher. The final score was 2-3 and the Phils had only 8 hits. Wilson Valdez hit a solo homer and the 2nd run was unearned due to a Pirates throwing error. Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez both went hitless.
Ibanez has had one hit in his last 8 games and 34 at-bats. The Phillies need to put Ben Francisco in left and be done with it already. Ibanez has not contributed in any significant way in a long time. In fact, in the month of June, Ibanez had 5 hits…total. That is the entire month. Francisco had 11 hits in 37 at-bats compared to 5 hits in 96 at-bats for Ibanez. This is a NO brainer.
So another good pitching performance was wasted by the Phils offense. Cole Hamels allowed 3 runs in 7 innings and deserved a win. Instead, he gets another loss and to a last-place team no less. But sadly, that was not the only drama tonight.
Just when you thought, after having 7 players on the DL and Chase Utley going in for surgery today, things could not get worse…they did. Back-up catcher Brian Schneider got hit in the hand with a pitch and has a hyper-extended left thumb and had to leave the game. No word yet on how serious it is, but if he goes on the DL too, the Phillies will be left with a 3rd string catcher and have to call up a 4th from the minors. My head hurts.
And by the way, Utley’s recovery time has been changed from the original 6 weeks reported to 8 weeks. By tomorrow, who knows? They may go with 3 months. But realistically, this kind of surgery can have widely varying recovery times based on the extent of the damage and how the surgery went.
As for Placido Polanco, he has 3-4 weeks before he can return due to bone chips in his elbow. And catcher Carlos Ruiz was examined in Pittsburgh today and the tests for his concussion apparently did not go well. That means he may be out even longer than 15 days. The Phils may as well open their own ER at this rate.
Will GM Ruben Amaro Jr. find a quality infielder to help out? This will be interesting. We already know Amaro screwed up when he traded Cliff Lee and probably every team in the league wants to get Lee now. I have heard many fans say they think we can get him back to Philly. Stop right there. Here is the one reason that will never happen: to bring Lee back would mean Amaro would be admitting he made a mistake by trading him in the first place.
Some men admit when they are wrong, like umpire Jim Joyce admitted he blew the call that cost Armando Galaraga a perfect game. And when Andy Pettitte admitted he did steroids and was obviously ashamed. But Amaro? It will never happen. Put it out of your minds and move on.
And now the infield is a bigger concern than the pitching. The Phillies will have at least a month without their 2 All-Star infielders and then an additional month without Utley. They need help and Amaro has to go make something happen. Right now, I really don’t want his job.
Player photos and photoshopping 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
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…