Tagged: Astros

Hamels Returns to Help Phillies Win Series

The 5-game suspension Cole Hamels received for smacking Nationals rookie Bryce Harper with a pitch last week turned out to be sort of a joke.  With the off day on Thursday, the Phillies were able to rearrange the rotation, pitching Roy Halladay yesterday and Hamels today.  So as it turns out, Hamels did not even miss a start.

And the Phillies are sure glad he did not.  Hamels was solid in the 3-2 win over the Padres, allowing just 1 run and 5 hits over 7 innings.

The offense was a little stale, as usual, but they managed 3 runs.  This time, that turned out to be enough.  Jimmy Rollins got it started in the 1st with a leadoff homer.  Brian Schneider gave Carlos Ruiz most of the day off and helped out with 2 hits and an RBI.  Juan Pierre collected 2 hits, 1 RBI and continues to be the Phillies best hitter with a .351 average.  I am not sure anyone saw that coming when he won a spot on the team out of spring training.  But we’ll take it.

Hunter Pence, on the other hand, continues to struggle.  Pence looks lost at the plate.  He is still swinging at bad pitches, although he showed a little more patience today.  But he is pulling off balls; his body goes one way and the bat goes another way…it is very awkward.  And it is more awkward than his usual approach, which is almost hard to believe.

The bullpen finally held a lead in this one, although Jose Contreras did give up a run in the 8th making the situation very tenuous.  But Antonio Bastardo got him out of the inning without further damage.  And Jonathan Papelbon finally got to pitch for a save; it was his first save attempt since May 1st.

Before the game, the Phillies celebrated Mother’s Day.  Pierre’s mom, wife and son were greeted on the field and Pierre coddled and played with the infant, which was adorable.

And luckily, the warm fuzzies before the game translated into a win as the Phillies took 2 of 3 from the Padres.

The schedule for the remainder of May gets a little weird now.  The Phils will play 2 against the Astros then fly to Chicago for 2 games with the Cubs and return home again to face the Red Sox and Nationals before hitting the road again.  Game 1 with the Astros starts at 7:05pm Monday night.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game and pre-game warm-up’s and ceremonies.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Playoff Bound: Halladay Blanks the Astros

The Phillies became the first team in the majors to clinch a playoff berth today with a 1-0 win over the Astros.  It was also a franchise record for the fastest time to clinch a playoff spot.  They did it in their 146th game of the season.  The 1915 Phillies took 147 games.

The record came courtesy of pitcher Roy Halladay who almost single-handedly won the game for the Phillies.  Halladay went the distance, allowing only 6 hits over 9 innings.  He also survived another defensive error, which led to having the bases loaded with no outs in the 2nd inning.  Without breaking a sweat, Halladay got out of the jam unscathed.

The win gives Halladay 18 wins on the year and lowered his ERA to 2.34, which is #1 among all major league starters with at least 10 starts.

The Phillies offense should be thanking Halladay for his amazing effort as they managed only one run and four hits.  And the one run came after a Shane Victorino double and Placido Polanco single in the 1st inning.  They then went 8 innings without touching home plate.

In the entire 3-game series, the Phillies scored a total of only 4 runs.  Ryan Howard went 0-11 in the series.  Victorino went 1-9.  And Michael Martinez, who started all 3 games, went 0-9.

But going back home and adding Chase Utley back to the roster will hopefully wake up this slumbering Phillies offense.  They play a make-up double-header with the Marlins tomorrow.  Game times are 2:35pm & 7:35pm.

FYI: MLB released the 2012 schedule today.  The Phillies home schedule includes the Red Sox, Rays, Cubs, Cardinals and all of the usual suspects.  The home opener is April 9th.

Division Magic # – 4 games

Home Field Advantage Magic # – 6  games

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Phillies May Be Riding A Mud Slide Out of Houston

There are several adjectives that come to mind when mentally reviewing these last few Phillies games against the Astros; sloppy, messy, disgusting, lackadaisical and slothful, are just a few.

Some low-lights from Monday night’s 1-5 loss include:

  • Michael Martinez watched a bouncing grounder fly past his glove at third base.
  • Raul Ibanez dropped a low fly ball to left that bounced out of his glove.
  • Covering first base, Roy Oswalt missed an descent throw on what looked like an easy out.
  •  Jimmy Rollins and Pete Orr collided near second base on what should have been an easy double play if they had simply remembered who was covering what area.

But the fun did not end there.  On Tuesday night, the Phillies tried to out-sloppy their Monday night performance with these gems:

  • John Mayberry Jr. watched a ground ball to center roll mysteriously under his glove.
  • Mayberry recovered, tossed to Martinez and then Martinez proceeded to make one of the crappiest throws to third that you have ever seen.  With a good throw, the runner would have been out, despite the Mayberry error.  Instead, the guy winds up on third.
  • Ryan Howard dropped an easy ground ball to first, allowing the Astros pitcher to be safe at first and move a runner to third.  This lead to four runs in the inning, including a 3-run homer hit off Cole Hamels.

In these two games, the Phillies faced many of their old teammates, including pitchers Brett Myers and J.A. Happ.  Neither pitcher was having a good year, but the Phillies may have just single-handedly revived both their seasons.

Also in the Phillies – Astros trade merry-go-round, both Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence made their first trip back to Houston since coming to Philly.  Oswalt had a bad game Monday, allowing five runs in seven innings.

As for Pence, he seemed to be the only Phillie interested in winning these games.  Pence went 2-for-4 Monday with a double.  And he also hit a solo homer on Tuesday.

The only other good news is that Joe Blanton pitched in Monday’s game for the first time since May 14th.  He allowed one hit but looked pretty good overall.

What I am wondering now is, where have the Phillies gone?  Because this is not the same team we have been watching all year.  They seem to be in a coma.  It may not seem like they have much to play for right now, but home field advantage can be a big boost in the playoffs.

So come on Phillies…wake up!  Get your behinds off the mud slide and back onto solid ground.  Thank you in advance. ;o)

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Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Phillies Take 3 Out Of 4 Against Brewers

While they were unable to sweep the 4 game series, the Phillies still made life miserable for the Brewers, winning the first 3 games.  But today, they went down in a 3-2 loss.  The team win streak with Vance Worley on the mound ended at 14 games.

Worley had some interesting innings today, but every jam he worked into, he managed to get out of.  But with two outs in the 7th, back-to-back doubles created trouble and gave the Brewers the lead.  Worley was pulled after allowing 3 runs on 8 hits and a walk.

One of the doubles hit by the Brewers in that 7th inning came off the bat of Nyger Morgan, who then proceeded to celebrate at second base like his team had just won the pennant.  Morgan, who has publicly named his own alter-ego “Tony Plush,” is possibly the biggest clown in the majors.
 

Morgan’s behavior is consistently inappropriate (he tries to incite fights on a regular basis) and he even went so far as to call Albert Pujols a girl in a recent Twitter post.  This guy is a fungus.  The Brewers should be embarrassed to have him as a member of their team.  So today’s display of childish behavior is really no shock.

Back to the game…The Phillies offense had a few big hits today with home runs from Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard.  But they could muster little else against Brewers pitcher, Yovani Gallardo, who was very, very good today.  The Phils ended the day with only 6 hits and 14 strikeouts.

The Phillies have another interesting series coming up next with the Astros.  It will be the first trip back to Houston for both Hunter Pence and Roy Oswalt since coming to Philly.  And oddly enough, Oswalt will pitch in the first game against former Phillie Brett Myers.  Game time is 8:05pm; be sure to watch this one, it should be a lot of fun.

In closing, I wanted to share a photo with everyone that I took about 20 years ago.  Having grown up in North/Central New Jersey, this was a common sight for me as a kid.  On the 10-year anniversary of 9-11, take a moment to remember.
 

Post-Season Magic # – 2  games

Division Magic # – 6 games

 

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Towers photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Morgan photo: Yahoo Sports

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Hunter Was The Hunted; Now, He Is A Phillie

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/

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Vance Worley Needs To Stay in Philadelphia…For Now

In Tuesday night’s 7-2 victory over the Giants, Phillies pitcher Vance Worley earned his seventh win of the year and lowered his ERA to 2.02.  It was also the rookie’s first career complete game.

In 11 starts for the Phillies this season, Worley has just one loss and a WHIP of 1.09.  He has also shown steady improvement between starts and gotten much better at keeping his pitch count down.

Filling in for the injured Joe Blanton, Worley has been outstanding.  As for Blanton, a recent report from Matt Snyder at CBS Sports indicates that Blanton has nerve damage in his elbow and he may be done for the year.

Once Roy Oswalt returns to the rotation, the Phillies will be using Worley as the fifth starter.  Kyle Kendrick is also available, but he has been more useful in a long relief role.  In nine starts, Kendrick has a 3-2 record and 3.97 ERA.  In relief, his ERA drops to 2.49.

Arguments to trade Worley include his rookie status, which some think gives him an edge as most teams have not faced him.  If that is the case, it is thought he may not be as good next year so the Phillies should trade him now.  J.A. Happ encountered the rookie curse after being traded to Houston where he has performed very poorly since a sparkling rookie campaign.

If Worley is traded now, while he is performing well, certainly he will be worth more.  However, if Worley continues to excel from now until the end of the season, he will be worth just as much in a trade during the offseason, before he has a chance to suffer from the sophomore slump.

With this in mind, it makes sense to keep him for the year, especially with the news on Blanton.

The Phillies could use an upgrade in the form of a right-handed bat, but losing Worley seems to steep a price right now.  If the Phillies could get Hunter Pence, Domonic Brown would be a better trade piece, along with some prospects.  Pence would be under team control, like Brown is now, and both the defense and offense would improve.

There are a number of other possibilities as well.  But if Worley goes in exchange for a right-handed bat, where would that person play?  Brown needs playing time if the Phillies plan on keeping him and developing him.  The rest of the positions seem pretty well set for the year, barring further injuries.

There is another option as well.  The Phillies do not have to make a trade if the right situation does not present itself.

The offense has improved since the All-Star break and bench players like John Mayberry Jr. and Michael Martinez have shown promise.  Mayberry is a power right-hander and Martinez is a switch hitter.  Also, Ben Francisco is batting .353 as a pinch-hitter.

Whether the Phillies decide to make a move or not, hopefully, Worley will be staying in Philadelphia…at least for now.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Phillies Historical 2011 Opening Weekend Sweep

Sitting among the second largest crowd in Citizen Bank Park’s history to witness another historical feat was amazing.  All in attendance saw the Phillies open a season at home 3-0 for the first time since 1970 and open a season at home with a three-game series sweep for the first time since 1899.  Yes, 1899.

The one-two-three punch of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt proved to be too much for the Houston Astros to handle.  Oswalt was great today, pitching six innings and allowing just two runs on five hits against his former ball club in the 7-3 win.

It was Oswalt’s first start against his old team in his first start of the season.  But there were many first’s in this game.  Ryan Howard hit his first homer of the season while collecting a team-high four RBI in the game.  Michael Martinez made his first major league start in place of Shane Victorino in center.  Martinez later collected his first major league hit and first RBI in the same at bat.

 

Ben Francisco also smacked his first home run of the season today and made a huge first impression as the starting right fielder this weekend.  With three hits in this game, all he had left to prove was that he could play hard in right.  Francisco accomplished that with an amazing catch in right where he crashed into the wall hard, knocking the “SD” out of the out of town scoreboard.

 

As Francisco gave up his body to make the play, the fans jumped to their feet and screamed his praises.  It was Francisco’s very own “Aaron Rowand moment.”  Remember back in 2006 when Rowand smashed face-first into the center field wall to make a game-saving catch?  He was a home town hero after that.

And while Francisco did not leave the field bloodied and battered, the effort was very much the same.  And just like that, Jayson Werth is a distant memory.

Victorino sat today to rest his sore calf, but was able to pinch-hit later in the sixth and then stayed in the game.  He saw exactly one pitch in his first at-bat and sent it to right for an RBI single.  Looks like the calf is just fine.

The Phillies are off on Monday and start a three game series with the Mets on Tuesday.  Cole Hamels will pitch and game time is 7:05pm.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

 

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read
more about the Phillies at my other home page,
Phightin’
Phils Phorum
in the MTR Media network*