The Houston Astros, otherwise known as the Phillies-B team, are in town. The former Phils include Brett Myers, JA Happ, Michael Bourn, Nelson Figueroa, Jason Michael, Ed Wade (former GM) and Brad Mills (former Bench Coach, now Astros manager).
Myers started the game for the Astros with a huge chip on his shoulder since the Phillies dismissed him after last season. Not resigning Myers turned out to be a mistake as he has found his groove and is pitching very well for the Astros. Myers had an 8-7 record with a 3.11 ERA coming into tonight’s game.
The Phillies tried to chip away at Myers who, in the 2nd, struck out Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez all in a row. Plowing through the meat of the line-up, he finally allowed a solo homer to Carlos Ruiz in the 3rd and another run on a Chase Utley single.
On the other side, Joe Blanton was having a good game as well. Although Blanton is still having issues getting through the 1st inning of nearly every ballgame he pitches in. Tonight, he escaped with only 1 run allowed in the 1st thanks to some timely defense which bailed him out of big trouble. Utley threw a runner out at home and Werth caught a tough fly ball that was sailing away from him.
But after the rocky 1st, Blanton was solid. He ended up going 7 innings, another rarity for his this year. In 21 games this year, Blanton has gone 7 innings or more only 8 times, including tonight. 6 hits, 1 run and 9 strike-outs later, Blanton left with a 2-1 lead.
But that lead was put in jeopardy when Ryan Madson came in for the 8th and drama ensued. Michaels singled and then Bourn bunted for what looked like an out. Howard tagged him and Bourn seemed to have run out of the baseline but the umpire ruled that Howard missed the tag and Bourn did not go out of the base line until after the tag attempt. Both Utley and manager Charlie Manuel argued the call heatedly, but to no avail. Manuel was tossed from the game.
And that play did wind up costing the Phillies the lead. Madson struck out Hunter Pence but then allowed a 2-run single to Carlos Lee to give the Astros a 3-2 lead. The Phillies then had to play from behind going into the bottom of the 8th.
With the lead gone, Werth was probably having very bad flashbacks to the 6th inning when he fell asleep at 2nd base. Myers was intentionally walking Ruiz to get to Wilson Valdez, who had a huge hit the last time a pitcher did that. But Valdez did not get a shot as Werth hung his head and was quickly thrown out wandering like a zombie off 2nd base. It was a huge opportunity lost.
Fast forward to the 9th and Brad Lidge kept the score steady; the Phils had one last chance to make something happen. Well, nothing happened, except the Phillies lost the game. No scoring in the 9th and the 3-2 score held up.
I will be going to Game 2 of this series tomorrow night to collect the Carlos Ruiz bobblehead doll which will be given away. My seat location sucks, but I hope to get a few photos to post on Wednesday. Game time is 7:05pm and Cole Hamels will pitch for the Phillies.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Before the final game of the Nationals series today, umpire and Philly native Jerry Crawford was honored for his 33 years of MLB service. Today was to be his last Phillies game as he will retire at the end of the year. Crawford was given a standing ovation and a present from the Phanatic; a baby Phanatic doll:
Once the game began, Roy Oswalt was in control. Though he had a rather high pitch count and led off several innings with runners, Oswalt got the job done when he needed to. He was also very effective at the plate with two hits and in his third at-bat, almost hit a home run. The ball went all the way to the warning track in deep center before a Nat tracked it down. A little bit to the left and it would have gone out.
Oswalt gave up 5 hits and a walk in 7 innings without allowing a run. His day was cut short when the skies opened up and dumped buckets of rain onto the field. The 1 hour, 44 minute delay sent many fans home early.
But to that point, the Phillies offense started to hit again. Jimmy Rollins double to lead off the game and a sac fly from Placido Polanco scored him. Later in the 3rd, Oswalt scored after one of his hits and a Polanco single. The 6th inning was interesting as well. With 2 men on and 2 outs, the Nats decided to intentionally walk Carlos Ruiz to get to Wilson Valdez. With the bases then loaded, Valdez made them pay with a 2-run single.
There were a lot of good play both on offense and defense:
And then there were some not so great plays, like a Ruiz throwing error to second. And some weird plays too; if you look at the top row of photos below, you will see Ryan Zimmerman checking out Valdez’s leg; Nats shortstop Ian Desmond, who caught a ground ball which got stuck in the netting of his glove, allowing another hit from Oswalt; and finally, Adam Kennedy puts his hand in a place that Rollins probably did not appreciate:
With a 4-0 lead coming out of the rain delay, Rollins got another hit and Raul Ibanez cranked a 2-run homer to give the Phils a 6-0 win and a 2 game to 1 win in the series. Ibanez, Polanco and Valdez each had 2-RBI on the day. Valdez played in place of Chase Utley who was given a day off to rest.
And now the real fun begins; the Astros are coming to town for a 4-games series. It will be like the Phillies vs. all the guys the Phillies no longer wanted. Both Brett Myers and JA Happ will pitch in the series, plus we will see more old teammates like Michael Bourn, Nelson Figueroa and Jason Michaels. Myers will pitch tomorrow against Joe Blanton at 7:05pm.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game. If it is not working, try again later. TypePad is having issues with photo albums right now.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Roy Oswalt’s first home start in Philly went very, very well against the Dodgers tonight. He did not surrender a run while allowing 5 hits and 2 walks. Oswalt was finished after 7 innings with a really good strike-ball ratio of 73-36. It looked so easy, one may have thought that Oswalt could have pitched this game in his sleep. Yawn!
But as has been the case for Oswalt this year with both the Astros and the Phillies, he got very little run support. Domonic Brown collected the first run of the game in the 4th inning with a bases-loaded RBI ground-out. Raul Ibanez extended his hit streak to 18 games with an RBI-double in the 6th. However, in that same inning, the Phillies lost Ross Gload. He hit a double down the right field line and came up limping halfway to second base. Gload has been diagnosed with a groin strain.
If Gload goes on the DL, he will be the 16th Phillies player this year to land there. And he would be the 5th player on the DL right now, along with Ryan Howard, whom Gload was replacing at first base. Mike Sweeney took over for Gload tonight and may wind up playing a lot more than anyone expected.
With a 2-0 lead, the Phillies would now have to lean on their 8-9 combination of Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge. Getting a few extra runs would have been nice too, but that did not happen. In fact, the Phillies wasted a Wilson Valdez lead-off triple at one point and left runners on third base with less than 2 outs twice. It began to look more and more like this game would come down to the Phils bullpen.
And it did come down to the pen. Madson pitched a scoreless 8th and looked pretty solid. Lidge came in for the 9th with the same 2-0 lead and quickly got three outs for the save. Oswalt got his first win as a Phillie behind Lidge’s save, just as they both used to do for the Astros. Teammates once again, Lidge had to be thrilled to help out his friend.
The final game with the Dodgers will be at 7:05pm tomorrow night. The pitching match-up should be Joe Blanton vs. Clayton Kershaw. Blanton did well in his last outing; a solid follow-up performance would be nice.
In other news today, Chase Utley has been approved by his doctor to start swinging a bat again since the surgery on his thumb. Utley has been running drills and fielding balls so this is one more step towards getting him ready to play again. Utley expects to be back in the line-up either at the end of August or early September.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Roy Oswalt’s debut tonight in a Phillies uniform was a bit of a buzz kill. The last place Nationals smacked him around, scoring 5 runs in the first 5 innings.
By the end of 6, Oswalt had given up 7 hits, 2 walks and hit 2 batters which accounted for 4 earned runs and 1 unearned.
On the other side, Nats pitcher Craig Stammen came into tonight’s game with a 5.50 ERA and only 2 wins in 19 starts. When he was done with the Phillies, Stammen looked like a Cy Young winner. The stuttering Phils offense managed only 5 hits; 2 of those were from Raul Ibanez and another two, including a solo homer, were from Jayson Werth. Rookie Domonic Brown had the 5th hit for the team in only his 2nd start in the big leagues.
The defense was a bit shaky as well. Carlos Ruiz did something I personally have never seen before. In the 3rd inning with 2 men on base, Adam Kennedy squared to bunt and Greg Dobbs at third base charged to field the bunt, as he was supposed to. Ruiz got the ball instead; he then had a brain cramp and threw the bunted ball to third base even though NO ONE was there to catch it. Yes, Ruiz threw the ball to nobody. And then a run scored. Wow.
Things continued to go downhill after Oswalt left the game. Chad Durbin pitched the 7th and gave up 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks. Down 8 to 1, the Phillies offense continued to do nothing. Brown got one more hit in the 9th inning, giving the Phillies 6 hits total from 3 players. And that was all the offense. Phillies lose, 8-1.
As for Oswalt, I suppose everyone is entitled to a bad day. It was just one start. We’ll see how it goes next time. By the way, in case anyone is interested, JA Happ made his first start for the Astros tonight; he gave up some walks, but only 2 hits and NO runs in 6 innings.
Joe Blanton will pitch in DC tomorrow; game time is 7:05pm.
Photo by http://www.motifake.com/
Before today’s game against the Cardinals, the Phillies announced that Jamie Moyer would be placed on the DL after injuring his elbow yesterday. Vance Worley, 22, was called up from AA Reading to take his roster spot. Nelson Figueroa was claimed off waivers from the Astros, which is not great news. But that was the chance the Phils took when they designated Figueroa for assignment. Andrew Carpenter, who pitched 3 innings last night, was sent back to AAA.
We may see a lot of odd moves this week as the Phillies are trying to make a trade, probably for a pitcher. Rumors have Roy Oswalt in the works, but it appears he want guaranteed money through 2012, which the Phillies probably cannot afford. Ruben Amaro Jr. is probably regretting kicking Brett Myers to the curb right about now, among other things.
The Phillies have not been playing well; perhaps this is an understatement. But what makes it even harder to swallow are things like this: With 2 outs and the bases loaded in the 7th inning, the Phillies do NOT pinch hit for the pitcher, Joe Blanton. With a 1-1 tie, knowing that Blanton has not gone past 6 innings all year without running into trouble, how do you not pinch hit for him here?
So the Phillies do not score as Blanton strikes out. Then in the bottom of the 7th, Blanton threw ONE pitch and it went straight out of the ballpark. Am I really the only one who saw this coming? Really? This is just one more piece of evidence to indicate that manager Charlie Manuel has NO confidence in the bullpen.
I do not know conclusively what Blanton’s issue has been this year and I do not really care at this point. Because what I do know, with overwhelming evidence, is that he cannot be counted on past 6 innings, especially in a tight game like this one. He did not enter today’s game with a 6.21 ERA for no reason. The Phillies have to know this as well, unless they are just closing their eyes and praying instead of watching the game.
Yes, the Phillies faced a very good pitcher today. So, knowing runs would be tough to come by, the Phillies should have been ready to use the bullpen. Blanton did get out of the 7th with just the one run, but he gave up the lead and then they sent him out again for the 8th.
And without recording an out, he gave up 2 runs to cushion the lead for the Cards, 4-1. Shocked? I was not. If Manuel keeps turning a blind eye in these situations, this team may not recover.
Fans are frustrated, and with good reason. Philly fans are passionate and understand the game. So it is easy to see how bad moves like we saw tonight infuriate people. We want to see our team win and these mistakes make it seem impossible. How many times do you have to bang your head against a brick wall before you realize it hurts? Not pinch hitting for the pitcher in the 7th inning with the bases loaded is equivalent to the brick wall-head scenario. Of course, that is just one gals humble opinion ;o)
So the Phillies went on to lose by a score of 5-1. The only run for the Phillies was a solo homer from Ryan Howard. Tomorrow afternoon, Cole Hamels will pitch and everyone is praying he can help this team avoid a demoralizing 4-game sweep. Game time is 2:15pm; tune in if you can stomach it. Just load up on Tums first.
Cartoon by http://carablake.wordpress.com/
Is it bad luck or bad baseball? It looked like luck may have been in the Phillies favor when Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was sent to the DL minutes before the game started today. Dice-K beat up the Phillies in their last meeting, so this must be good news. Scott Atchison, a career minor leaguer who also played in Japan, made his first career major league start in place of Dice-K. Again, this seemed like good news, right?
Wrong. Because absolutely nothing has gone well for the Phillies lately, and this game would be no different. Joe Blanton has been as bad as he could be since coming off the DL in early May. By the 2nd inning of this game, Blanton had given up 34 runs, 11 homers and 11 walks in 45 innings pitched this year.
And the damage did not end there…Blanton allowed 9 runs total, matching Jamie Moyer yesterday, on 13 hits and a walk by the time he was done, after 4 pathetic innings. His ERA is now 7.28.
Blanton loaded the bases in the 2nd inning, right after the offense scored two runs for him. He then threw ONE pitch to rookie, Daniel Nava, who in his first major league at-bat, hit a grand slam! Unbelievable. It looked like the Phillies had morphed into a black cat with a #13 tattoo, under a black cloud standing on top of a broken mirror, sprinkled with spilled salt. But was that bad luck or just Joe Blah-anton?
Blanton needs to go. Obviously, no one will want him with his gigantic 7.28 ERA and gigantic salary, so what are the options? Put him back on the DL or send him to the minors. Brett Myers did this voluntarily back in 2008 and came back to help them win the World Series. The Phillies can bring back Nelson Figueroa or someone else from the minors. I would rather see a rookie get raked for 9 runs than a veteran who is not living up to his end of the deal. How about Nate Bump? He has some experience and was recently clocked at 103mph. Go get him!
The Phillies have made a lot of mistakes this year and last, many of which have been overshadowed by the acquisition of Roy Halladay. Letting Myers go was clearly an error in judgment. I said it before, but because most people have a personal dislike of Myers, most were happy to see him go. For the Astros this year, Myers has not allowed more than 4 runs in any game, has not pitched fewer than 6 innings in any game and his ERA is a very respectable 3.18.
And do not even get me started on Cliff Lee. Because the Mariners are not doing well, Lee will likely be traded before the deadline and it looks like he may wind up in the NL East. Imagine this: Lee goes to Mets or the Braves who make the playoffs, leaving the Phillies in the dust. You want to throw up right now, don’t you?
And remember signing a 36 year-old Raul Ibanez, now 38, to a 3-year contract? It looked like a good idea for ½ a year in 2009; now, not so much. Raul, we still love ya, but things are not going well. Ibanez is hitting .247 and is getting slower in the outfield.
The Phillies also extended Blanton’s contract this off-season, giving him 3 more years and $24 million dollars. They noted his “consistency,” which I have never agreed with, and his ability to pitch many innings as reasons for the extension. Well, all those innings have taken their toll as evidenced by Blanton’s current ERA plus the pre-season injury and DL stint.
By the way, the Phillies offense died after Blanton dug a huge hole for them. The managed only 7 hits and 3 of those came from back-up catcher Brian Schneider. The Phillies went on to lose the game by a score of 2-10.
I could go on, but I think that is enough for one day. The Phillies have now slid from 1st place to 3rd place in the NL East and if the Marlins keep winning, they will be in 4th place shortly. I mentioned holding off on hitting the panic button last week; well, it is now time. Let the panic begin. This past month may be a foretelling of the horror to come.
Photoshopping by Jenn
Roy Halladay got his second win as a Phillie today and his first complete game.
Even after going over 100 pitches by the 8th inning, this Iron Man had no intentions of stopping there. Halladay finished the game with only 1 run allowed on 7 hits and did not walk a batter. He even had a hit in the game. All the man needs now is a super-awesome Titanium Plasma Cannon and he will truly be invincible.
The offense was finally slowed down today; for the first time this year, they scored less than 5 runs and only 6 hits in the 2-1 win. Astros pitcher Roy Oswalt had a bit to do with that, although Jimmy Rollins paid him no mind. J-Roll hit the 2nd pitch of the game over the right field wall and had another hit later in the game. The other 3 hits came from Shane Victorino, Chase Utley and Raul Ibanez. Carlos Ruiz collected the 2nd RBI with a sacrifice.
No bullpen to chat about today, thanks to Halladay. But we do have 3 pitchers rehabbing right now; JC Romero is looking good and has pitched twice in rehab assignments without giving up a run. The polar opposite of this is Brad Lidge, who pitched only 2/3 of an inning in a minor league game and allowed 4 runs. Between the off-season surgeries, recent cortisone injection in his elbow and this lack-luster performace, Lidge may be a big problem this year. He has not looked healthy since the 2008 World Series and shows no signs of improving anytime soon.
Joe Blanton is also working back from an oblique strain, the first real injury of his career. So far, that is going well but no time table has been given as to when he might start throwing off a mound.
The long-awaited Home Opener will be tomorrow afternoon at 3:05pm with Cole Hamels pitching against the Nationals. Hope to see you there!
Photoshopping by Jenn