The Astros were looking for their first win of the year today against the Phillies. In the 3rd inning, it looked as though they may just get that win. Jamie Moyer made it to 2 outs in the 3rd before all hell broke loose. He took a 4-0 lead and turned it into a 4-5 deficit in the blink of an eye.
For a few minutes, many wondered if they were watching a baseball game or a boxing match, as Moyer took blow upon blow from the Astros bats. With 2 outs in the inning, the right and left hooks began, starting first with the Astros pitcher who whacked a double to get the rally started. Here is the remainder of the beating, which even included a single from former teammate, Pedro Feliz: 2-run homer, a walk on 4 pitches, 2-run homer (yes, again), 4 singles in a row to score the 5th run of the inning. It was a total knockout.
Or, maybe not…the Phillies rallied back in the 7th inning and took the lead again on a Ryan Howard 2-run homer. Howard also tripled and walked with the bases loaded for an RBI earlier in the game. Shane Victorino, who has been very unlucky of late, finally got in on the action with an RBI single in the 7th. In the 9th, Victorino hit a 2-run homer to give the Phillies a 9-5 lead. And then he breathed a sigh of relief…whew!
As for the bullpen, Chad Durbin mowed down the Astros in the 7th inning. Danys Baez followed suit in the 8th and then Ryan Madson came in for the 9th with 4 runs to play with. He gave back one run but still escaped with a 9-6 win.
So the question now remains, how effective will Moyer be in future starts? The one big inning nearly killed him, but the Phils bats bailed him out. But no team can be expected to score 9 runs every game. Well, it was only his first start, so we will have to wait and see how his next start goes.
Also of note, the Phillies kept their streak of at least 10 hits in a game going tonight. Yes, all 5 games played so far have featured at least 10 hits and a minimum of 5 runs scored. They are averaging over 8 runs a game…scary. Can they keep up this pace? We hope so :O)
The Phillies will finish the series with the Astros Sunday at 2:05pm. It will be a battle of the Roy’s; Halladay vs. Oswalt. The Astros are still looking for their first win, so do not expect them to just lie down and give up. It should be a good game….Go Phillies!
Head shots by Jenn
The first four games of 2010 have been very good for the Phillies bats. As a team, the have at least 10 hits in each game so far which is the first time that has been done by a Phillies team since 1926. The top 5 batters in the order are on fire, especially Placido Polanco who had 4 hits tonight, 2 RBI and is batting .579 in 4 games. Those 4 hits helped the Phillies to an 8-0 shut-out win over the Astros.
Jimmy Rollins is also off to a fast start with 7 hits in the first 4 games, batting .467. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard are not far behind, batting .438 and .400, respectively. On Wednesday, Howard moved into 5th place on the Phillies all-time home run leaders list, passing Greg Luzinski. In today’s game, he racked up 2 hits and an RBI.
Raul Ibanez has struggled, but looks to be coming out of the funk with 3 hits and 3 RBI today. Shane Victorino, on the other hand, hit several balls really well but still came up empty; he even hit into a double play. Victorino is batting .111 so far this season.
JA Happ got his first start of the year today and pitched 5 scoreless innings. He had a lot of base runners, so his pitch count kept rising; as a result, he only made it to the start of the 6th inning. The thing that stands out about Happ though is that he never gets rattled. In the 3rd, he had 2 runners on with no outs and still managed to pitch his way out of the jam unscathed. Happ continues to impress.
David Herndon made his mark today as well, pitching 2 innings in relief of Happ without allowing a run. Today was his 3rd appearance with the Phils and so far, the rookie has yet to give up a run. If he keeps this up, the Phils are going to have some tough decisions to make when Brad Lidge and JC Romero return from the DL.
So things are feeling pretty loose around the Phillies this week; even the broadcasters are keeping the mood light. Gary Matthews and Tom McCarthy presented fellow broadcaster Chris Wheeler with a birthday cake and presents today during the game, even though it is not really his birthday. Wheels got his own birthday wrong in his new book, “A View From The Booth,” on the very first page of the book. He wrote April 9th instead of August 9th. Oops. So, Happy Un-Birthday, Wheels! Don’t feel bad…we are all entitled to typos once and a while ;o)
Game two in Houston tomorrow! First pitch is at 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn
Kyle Kendrick is going to need to find his happy place after today’s outing against the Nationals. Having done well in Spring Training, Kendrick’s first official start of 2010 was a big disappointment. Lasting only 4 innings, Kendrick allowed 5 runs on 9 hits against a team that sometimes resembles a minor league team. But in the first inning, the Nats looked like they were taking batting practice off the young pitcher.
A sinker ball pitcher, Kendrick left way too many pitches up in the zone and lacked control. He had a great opportunity here with the injury to Joe Blanton to show he could start in the majors again, but after today, it does not look good. Granted, it is only one start, but first impressions can be lasting ones.
The Phillies batters got him off the hook for the loss when they tied the game up in the 6th on a Jimmy Rollins sac fly. But in the 7th, the Nats took the lead again as a result of Nelson Figueroa walking the first batter of the inning who eventually scored. In his first appearance back with the Phillies, Figueroa did fairly well, but the 3 walks he gave up created problems.
Chase Utley led off the 9th with a double and Jayson Werth sacrificed him over to third, giving the Phillies hope. But then Raul Ibanez, who is hitting a meager .091 so far this year, hit a short pop-up to make the second out. It was not nearly far enough to score Utley. Shane Victorino followed suit with a short pop-up of his own to end the game, with the Phillies losing 5-6.
The story of the game was men left on base; the Phils left 11 of them stranded. The at-bats were not as patient as the first two games and the concentration seemed lacking. It was a bad flashback to last year where this teams’ biggest issue was the inability to play small ball and manufacture runs.
The shame of it is that great offensive performances were overshadowed by the lack of timely hitting. Werth hit 3 doubles in the game and the top 5 batters in the order had at least 2 hits each. The bottom of the line-up did not perform and many of the hits came at the wrong times.
But starting the year off with 2 out of 3 is not so bad. So Phillies fans, just for tonight, go find your happy place and hang there until we get to Houston tomorrow night.
Kendrick photo by Jenn
Last night, 6-ABC Philadelphia aired a special report on the Phillies Off-Season. The report covered the weddings of Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, Jamie Moyer’s charity work, Chad Durbin’s business venture, the Phillies Cruise and Charlie Manuel’s weight loss. The Phillies Cruise coverage is about 3 minutes into the program and you can see five of my photos featured in that portion of the report with my name listed underneath:
And here are still shots of the photos as they aired in the report:
Special thanks to Scott Palmer and Scott Nickle at the Phillies and Beth Widhson at Holland America for including me in this project :O)
Earlier this week, there were a few very “minor” signings that occurred. The Phillies picked up veteran outfielder Freddy Guzman on a Minor League contract. He will not be invited to Spring Training. And veteran right-hander Oscar Villarreal was also given Minor League contract on Thursday. Villareal is coming off Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2009 season. He was with the Astros in 2008, the Braves from 2006-2007 and the D-Backs three years prior to that. With many question marks still in the bullpen, another in inexpensive, yet experienced arm hanging around is a good idea.
And if you have not seen it already, check out my report on the new Fantasy Baseball tools from Bloomberg Sports. The tools are available for pre-order now at mlb.com and will be ready to use on 2/18/10.
So the countdown to Spring Training continues…only 6 days until the truck rolls out and 13 days until pitchers and catchers report!
Photos by Jenn
The Phillies found a back-up catcher today when they signed Brian Schneider to a $2.75 million, 2 year deal. Schneider spent the last 2 years with the Mets and the previous 8 seasons with the Nationals/Expos. The best news here is that Schneider was notorious for being a Phillie killer; pitching to him has been a 10 year nightmare. Overall, Schneider is a .251 hitter and should fit nicely into the back-up spot vacated by Paul Bako and Chris Coste before that.
And in a very odd twist to the situation, Coste has just been signed by the Mets! Coste started the 2009 season with the Phillies before being tossed and subsequently picked up off waivers by Houston in July. The self-proclaimed 33-year old rookie is now in enemy threads which is sure to send shockwaves throughout Philadelphia. Coste was well loved in Philly and many were unhappy with his departure. Not to mention, many would rather see him retire than play in a Mets uniform. It is a sad, sad day for Coste fans. But look at the bright side; at least we will get to see him a lot next year :O)
As for the other holes in the line-up, like third base, no word yet except that midnight tonight is the deadline for all teams to offer salary arbitration to their free agents. The Phillies are likely to offer arbitration to Chan Ho Park as they have stated they want him back next year. Park may decline and decide to look around for a starting pitching spot as several teams have seemed interested in him. If he accepts, he will be with the Phillies for 2010 and probably get a raise. As for the other free agents, Bako and Eric Bruntlett are out of the picture with their replacements already signed in Brian Schneider and Juan Castro. Brett Myers has already been shown the door, as has Jack Taschner. Pedro Feliz, Pedro Martinez, Matt Stairs and Miguel Cairo are also unlikely, although Stairs and Cairo may be offered minor league deals.
So, have we all looked at our season ticket invoices yet? This is not a huge shock, but Phillies ticket prices went up again this year by $2- $4 per ticket. Not only that, but some season ticket holders received worse seat assignments. Someone I know got bumped backwards 2 rows in the same section. So, we are now paying more for less? While 2 rows is not earth shattering, traditionally, season ticket holders have been rewarded for their loyalty with better seats from year to year, not punished.
So yes, the World Series win in 2008 plus the return trip in 2009 do affect the prices, unfortunately. But that does not make it any easier to swallow. The money does not go towards improving the team or free agency; it is just more in the pockets of the owners. And with the team winning now, they do it simply because they can.
Prices over the recent years have increased tremendously. A seat that cost $42 in 2004 is now $58 for 2010. The last year of the vet for the same seat was $26. What I am wondering though is what happens when the team sucks again? Do we become the Nationals with a stadium that is only 25% full? I follow the team win or lose, but I will not pay those prices to see them lose when I can do that at home for free. Then again, maybe they will never suck again…one can dream ;o)
So, did anyone else get there ticket invoice and wonder what happened? Did you get the same seats or did you get bumped back? What do you think about the prices? Let me know in the comment section below.
Coste photo by Jenn
The Phillies lost against the Astros last night by a score of 3-5 behind the obviously tired arm of Cliff Lee.
Lee has pitched a career high 231 2/3 innings this year and is showing signs of fatigue. Yesterday, he allowed 3 runs on 7 hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings and was all over the strike zone, seemingly unable to command his fastball. In fact, Lee has allowed 27 runs in his last 7 games after allowing only 3 runs in his first 5 games with the Phillies. This is not good news for the guy who is likely to be our #1 pitcher in the playoffs.
While Lee seems to be healthy though, other are not. JC Romero experienced soreness in his previously injured forearm after only 1 game back. Romero will seek a second opinion this week, but it does not look good for our #1 lefty in the pen.
Jamie Moyer, who has been wonderful in middle/long relief since being sent to the pen, is out for the year and will have surgery on 2 groin and 1 one abdomen muscles that he tore in the game on 9/29. Moyer will be sorely missed in October.
Another long reliever who did a great job in the pen is Chan Ho Park. Park is also out with an injury. He attempted to pitch in an Instructional League game in Clearwater a few days back and felt a pull in the injured hamstring which means, his recovery time is still uncertain.
Add to that, Scott Eyre is pitching through a bone chip in his elbow. He was effective in the clinching game on Wednesday, but how long can he go with that sort of pain? That leaves the pen with only 1 lefty who is healthy and that is the rookie, Sergio Escalona.
That means it is more and more likely that JA Happ will be moved to the bullpen for the post-season to add a lefty arm. And that is really unfortunate, especially since he and Joe Blanton are the only 2 starters who have been consistent all year. In fact, they are the only 2 starters who have recorded wins since 9/21/09 – the last 11 games.
Brett Myers is back, but he is rusty and will need some work to be ready for the post-season. The Phillies need to get their pitching staff back on track and healthy if they are to go far in the playoffs. We will see how it plays out over the last 3 regular season games; the Marlins are up…game time tonight is 7:05pm.
Photo by Jenn
Pop the champagne Phillies fans; for the 3rd year in a row, this team has won the NL East and will be playing in the post-season. In a game that included at least one RBI from every starting position player except lead-off hitter Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies powered their way to a 10-3 mashing of the Astros to win the title. Rollins did have 2 hits in the game though, plus a walk and he scored twice.
A true team effort, the win included back-to-back triples by Rollins and Shane Victorino, a massive 2-run homer by Raul Ibanez, a sac fly, a stolen base and 3 doubles. Pedro Martinez pitched only 4 innings and allowed 3 runs, but his teammates picked him up with their hitting and some great relief pitching. Kyle Kendrick, who spent nearly the whole year in the minors, pitched 3 innings of scoreless ball allowing only 2 hits. Chad Durbin picked up the 8th; Scott Eyre got the 1st 2 outs in the 9th and, believe it or not, Charlie Manuel put Brad Lidge in to finish the game. Lidge got his old buddy Lance Berkman out on 1 pitch.
So, it is time to rejoice! Since I was not able to attend the game tonight, I broke out some old photos from the 2007 NL East clinching game. Here are a few ways the Phillies may now be celebrating:
Now just take a deep breath and exhale…ahhhhhh! Time to relax…for now. Home field advantage is still up for grabs. That challenge will begin with tomorrow night at 7:05pm in the last game of 4 against the Astros. Go Phillies!
Photos by Jenn
Except champagne photo by: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/t