Tagged: Ben Francisco

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*

Come From Behind Win After Slow Start For Phillies Offense

The Cubs pitcher, Matt Garza, had a no-hitter going against the Phillies into the 5th inning tonight.  The only Phillie to get a hit through two outs in the 7th inning was Domonic Brown, who hit Garza twice with a double and a single.

In all, Garza only allowed four hits and one run, with the help of his bullpen who allowed the run to score after he was pulled.  It was yet another disgusting, impatient and painful performance from the Phils offense.

In the meantime, Cliff Lee had a rough start to the game, allowing a 2-run homer in the first.  But after the first few innings, Lee settled down and was his usual, amazing self.  But for the second straight Lee start in a row, his biggest problem was the Phillies offense.

In two starts, all Phillies players combined, except for Lee, did not score a single run while Lee was on the mound.  The only run in the last game was a home run, which Lee hit himself.

Only after Lee was pulled for a pinch hitter and Michael Stutes pitched the 7th, did the offense decide to score.  In the 8th, Jimmy Rollins and Michael Martinez singled, then Chase Utley drove them in with a double.  Utley later got thrown out at the plate and the game was left in a 2-2 tie.

This anemic offense is frustrating to watch, especially when you know the potential of the hitters who are simply not living up to expectations.   With that in mind, here is a short list of annoying things that I would rather be doing instead of watching the Phillies offense suck:

– Play the movie “The Sound of Music” over and over and over.

– Ride the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World with the demonic puppets that sing like nails going down a chalk board.

– Clean the litter box.

– Watch Jose Reyes of the Mets do the home run trot while signaling “#1” with his finger.

– Eat peas.

– Spel thungs rong on porpuse.

That last one was painful, much like watching the Phillies offense.

Back to the game…Stutes wound up pitching both the 7th and 8th innings and kept the score tied.  But while the pitching hung in there, what would the offense do?

Lucky for me, they finally decided to stop sucking, thereby saving me from having to perform one of the annoying tasks on my list.

With two outs in the 9th, Ben Francisco and Rollins hit back-to-back singles.  And then, saving the day once again, Martinez doubled to score both runners for a 4-2 lead.  And although he was thrown out going to third, Martinez is still the hero.

Antonio Bastardo served as the closer again, as the Phillies are still taking it slow with Ryan Madson since coming off the DL.  And again, Bastardo was lights-out for his 7th save of the year.

With the win today, the Phillies have a chance to win the series now.  Game three with the Cubs is Wednesday afternoon at 2:20pm; Vance Worley will pitch.

 

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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 Ruin Canada Day as Offense Finally Saves The Day

Dear Toronto,

We are sorry for ruining your holiday.  Perhaps next year, you can play the Mets on Canada Day instead.  Sincerely,

The Phillies

So yes, the Phillies pulled off an improbable 7-6 comeback win today against the Blue Jays, amidst holiday festivities.  Canadians take this day very seriously; everything was closed and parties were all over the place.  Even Wal-Mart was closed.  Know you know how important this day was for Canada.  No Wal-Mart…I shudder at the thought.

The festivities also included a pre-game celebration:

 

And then former Blue-Jay Roy Halladay was asked to present the line-up card for the Phillies and go over the ground rules, like the coach normally does.  The Toronto fans gave him a loud standing ovation.

 

One fan told me the reason they love Halladay so much was not because he is an awesome pitcher, but because he always gave 110% even when the team sucked for all those years.  He never slacked off, even though they were not winning.

Also part of the celebration, all players and even the mascots wore jerseys that said “Canada” on the back instead of their names:

 

The match-up of Kyle Kendrick and Ricky Romero looked ominous as Kendrick plunked the first batter he faced.  Yunel Escobar wound up having to leave the game with a badly bruised hand and Kendrick proceeded to give up a bunch of runs.

 

But while Kendrick faltered, the Phillies offense battled back and by the seventh inning they had a 5-4 lead after a Shane Victorino triple and then a sac fly from Ben Francisco scored two runs.

 

The defense on both sides was a bit sloppy, but the Phillies were able to recover.

 

The Jays then landed what looked like a knock-out blow in the bottom of the seventh.  With a 5-4 lead and 2 outs, Kendrick made a huge mistake to slugger Jose Bautista who deposited the ball over the fence in left.

With the air out of the balloon and now losing by 6-5, it looked like Kendrick had blown the game.  But the Phillies mustered a comeback in the ninth.  Placido Polanco walked, Chase Utley doubled and then Ryan Howard served up a 2 RBI-single to give the Phils a 7-6 lead.

Antonio Bastardo sent the shell-shocked Jays down in order in the bottom of the ninth for the save.  And now, they Jays have to contend with Halladay and Cliff Lee in the next two games.  I like the chances for the Phillies.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.  More photos to come after tomorrow’s game as well!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Halladay Earns 10th Win With Complete Game Against A’s

Before Sunday’s Phillies – Athletics match-up, the Phillies honored former major leaguer Bobby Shantz.  The 1952 American League MVP played for the Philadelphia A’s from 1949-1954 and for the Phillies in 1964.  He was joined on the field by Connie Mack’s 97-year-old daughter Ruth Mack Clark:

 

Once the game began, Roy Halladay was on point as usual.  He went the distance yet again, saving a depleted Phillies bullpen.  After nine innings, eight hits, one run and no walks, Halladay finally earned his 10th win of the year.


The offense was not spectacular again, but they got the job done.  Jimmy Rollins led the way, going 4-for-4 and scoring twice.  Shane Victorino and Ben Francisco each sent  J-Roll home once.  The third run scored with no outs in the first while Ryan Howard grounded into a double play.  But he knocked in a run, so he is forgiven.


There were some odd plays on defense as well.  The A’s struggled to hit Halladay and as a result, they managed a bunch of weak fly balls that landed in the middle of nowhere.  Wilson Valdez had a real adventure at second base playing in place of Chase Utley for the day.  A few balls hit in no-man’s land seemed catchable, but ultimately they eluded Valdez.


The Phillies collected a 3-1 win over the A’s and won the series by two games to one.  They have a day off today before starting a 3-game series with the Red Sox on Tuesday.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.  Enjoy!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Snooze-Fest Ends With a Walk-Off Win

There were a number of moves made right before tonight’s Phillies – Athletics match-up.  Catcher Brian Schneider came off the DL, while Roy Oswalt went on the DL.  With no need for a 3rd catcher, Dane Sardinha was sent back down and pitcher Scott Mathieson was recalled and added to the bullpen.  And J.C. Romero cleared waivers, declined a minor league offer and was then given his outright release.

And while that was a whole lot of movement in one day, no one expected these roster moves to be the big action of the night.  Because once the game started, it was nap time.

I like a pitcher’s duel as much as the next fan, but this game, although it remained hitless for a long, long time, was not your typical duel.  The pitching was not super sharp from either team and both sides issued a bunch of walks.

Despite the slight sloppiness, neither team earned a hit until two outs into the sixth inning.  Vance Worley’s no-hitter was broken up by a Hideki Matsui double.

In the bottom of the sixth, Placido Polanco got the first hit of the night for the Phillies with a single against Guillermo Moscoso.  Pronouncing Moscoso’s name was more entertaining than his pitching as the game dragged on with little action.

By the eighth inning, each team had only two hits.  And both teams had issued five walks each by the time the ninth inning began.  Several fans left in the stands appeared to be struggling to keep themselves upright.

As the yawns continued and the Phillies offense snoozed, even my cat fell asleep.  But a 0-0 ballgame is no time for a cat nap!

So in the 9th inning, Shane Victorino walked and Domonic Brown got his second single of the night.  A sac fly moved them into scoring position.  So with two outs, Ben Francisco stepped to the plate, determined to wake up all the sleepy fans in the stands.  He smacked an RBI-single to left for the walk-off win.

The Phillies just barely pulled off a 1-0 win to open this home stand.  And now, because it took them nine innings to wake me up, I will not be able to sleep for hours.  But when I finally do, at least I will have pleasant dreams ;o)

Cole Hamelspitches tomorrow!  And with any luck, the offense will join him in the effort; game time is 7:05pm.

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Cardinals Implode in the 8th & Hand the Phillies a Win

Tonight’s Phillies – Cardinals match-up was basically a snooze-fest through six innings.  For the Cards, few hits were not surprising since they had to face Roy Halladay.  But the Phillies faced a pitcher they really should have hit and they did not.

Halladay allowed only one run.  Although if Placido Polanco had gotten a ground ball out of his glove quicker in the 5th, he would have had a double play to prevent that run from scoring.

Polanco had a bad day overall.  He is simply not hitting while in the 5-hole and went 0-for-3 today.  In the 8th inning, Polly got plunked with a pitch in the hand.  And though he got an RBI because the bases were loaded, he had to leave the game.  No word yet on how serious the injury may be.

The rest of the offense was just as bad against starter Kyle McClellan.  They managed only five hits and one run off a very average starter.  Carlos Ruiz was the only exception with three hits off McClellan and four hits in the game total.

What is really frustrating is watching Phillies batters strike out with less than two outs and the bases loaded or hit into a double play with runners on base.  Raul Ibanez did both tonight.

But the Cardinals proceeded to implode in the 8th after McClellan was lifted.  The drama began when two hitters got hit with pitches, including Polanco, and Chase Utley was walked before that.  Three runs were forced home that inning.

Suddenly, the Phillies offense woke up.  I suppose three free runs will do that.  Another run scored on a Ben Francisco pinch-hit and two more on a Jimmy Rollins single. All of this happened with two outs, and they were not done yet.  After batting around, Utley added two more runs with a single.  Ryan Howard followed suit and another run scored.

Let us total the top of the 8th inning damage:  4 walks, 2 HBP, 5 singles, 9 runs scored & 43 minutes of playing time.

By the time the magical 8th inning came to a close, the Phillies went from trailing 2-1 to leading by a score of 10-2.

The only shame, again, was that a great pitching performance from Halladay did not yield a win for him.  So both he and Cole Hamels are still waiting for win #10.

Cliff Lee will pitch on Wednesday night; game time is 8:15pm.

 

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

A Tale of Two Away Games

The Phillies final two games in Seattle were a stark contrast to each other.  Saturday night’s 5-1 win was against 2010 Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez.  But on Sunday, the Phillies lost to Jason Vargas, an average pitcher who entered the game with a 4.13 ERA.

With Vance Worley starting Saturday, the Phillies managed to score some runs.  Worley held the Mariners to just one run over five innings and then Shane Victorino provided most of the offense.

Victorino ended the game just a single short of the cycle and had four RBI on three hits, including a 2-run homer.  Jimmy Rollins had three hits as well.  Both Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez added two hits apiece.

But Sunday, the Phillies seemingly could not hit their way out of a barn.  Howard had two hits, Ben Francisco had one and that was it for the offense.  Vargas tossed a complete game shut-out as the Phils sat and watched.

Cole Hamels pitched a great game, allowing only two runs on a few very cheap, bloop hits.  Hamels also collected his 1,000 career strike out in the fourth inning.

If he had won the game, Hamels would have been the first pitcher in the majors to 10 wins.  He and six other pitchers, including Roy Halladay, are stuck at nine wins.  But it was not meant to be.  Wasting such a great performance was a real shame.

But welcome to Interleague play with the Phillies.  Every year, it is a struggle for them.  After losing two out of three to the Mariners, the Phillies are off tomorrow as they travel to St. Louis for three games with the Cardinals starting on Tuesday.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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