Tagged: Ben Francisco

Phillies Win 3 Straight Against Cubs

The Phillies won three of their last four games against the Cubs thanks in part to the big bats of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.  The fourth game in the series today ended with a 4-3 victory.

Roy Oswalt got off to a rough start, allowing three runs in the first inning.  But after he calmed down, Oswalt wound up going seven innings and did allow another run after the first.

However, Oswalt was involved in a little controversy after being called out on strikes in the sixth.  The pitch looked like ball four and Charlie Manuel shouted from the dugout at the home plate umpire.  He was quickly ejected which led to a few fireworks:

Manuel had reason to be upset.  Prior to this incident, he watched his ball club load the bases twice with one out and score only one run each time.  The bases were even loaded with the exact same players in both the first and third innings; Utley, Howard and Ben Francisco.  Francisco drew a walk each time.

Coming away with only one run in the exact same situation twice had to be frustrating.  It was just another reminder of how the Phillies offense has struggled to score runs.

But the memory was just that….a memory.  Because in the seventh inning, Utley and Howard combined to set things straight.  Utley doubled and then a single from Howard drove in two runs.  Howard had three hits and three RBI in the game.  Utley ended with two hits, a walk and two runs scored.

Utley also made what was probably a game-saving catching to end the game in the ninth inning.  Ryan Madson allowed a single with two outs.  Then Geovany Soto, who hit the game tying homer against Madson on Thursday, hit a fly ball into no-man’s land.  Somehow, Utley got to the ball and the game was over.  Whew!

By the way, today was the annual Father’s Day celebration and catcher Brian Schneider brought his mom and dad.  Dad tossed out the first pitch.

The Phillies are off tomorrow, although they will all be at the Phillies Phestival which starts at 5pm Monday night.  Hope to see you there!

And here is the full Photo Album from the game today.  Enjoy!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Option John Mayberry Jr. Was This the Right Move?

With center fielder Shane Victorino coming off the disabled list, the Phillies had to make a move.  Their choice was to send John Mayberry Jr. back to Triple-A.

Mayberry is an excellent outfielder, who can also play first base.  His defensive skills are nearly comparable to Victorino’s and he was the only solid center field back-up option.  But Mayberry struggled at the plate, hitting only .231 with three homers and 12 RBI this year.

The other players the Phillies could have moved were Michael Martinez, Ben Francisco or Ross Gload.  They were not going to send down a pitcher, as manager Charlie Manuel seems to like having 12 pitchers on the roster.

Martinez seemed like a logical move, but a few issues have kept him in place.  First, he is a Rule-5 player and the Phillies will likely lose him if he is placed on waivers.  Second, with Chase Utley’s knee still a sticky situation, Martinez is now the only real back-up infielder behind Wilson Valdez.

On the other hand, Martinez is a far inferior defensive player in both the infield and outfield.  He has also been unimpressive at the plate, hitting only .184 with three RBI in 49 at-bats.

Francisco won the right field job out of spring training, but has since been in a downward spiral.  His defense is not up to par and his bat has gone to sleep since hitting .308 in the first 10 games of the season.  In May, Francisco hit only .167.

And Francisco still has a minor league option available.  The deterrent, however, seems to be his $1.175 million salary.

As for Gload, he is playing with a muscle tear in his right hip and it appears that he cannot run.  The last two times he reached base as a pinch-hitter, a pinch-runner was sent in for him.  Gload is a great pinch-hitter, but can the Phillies really afford to carry a player on the roster who cannot run or play the field?

The only fix for Gload’s hip is surgery, which would end his season.  He has no options, but the Phillies could have placed him on the DL to buy time.

So with all of this, plus a lack of production at the plate, Mayberry finds himself back in Triple-A.  In the long-run, it may be the best move for him as he will get more at-bats.  However, if Raul Ibanez begins to cool off, the Phillies may question this decision later.

In my opinion, I believe Martinez should have been the one to go.  Aside from being a Rule-5 player, he had the least amount of upside.

Then again, with more playing time, maybe Mayberry will return later with a renewed energy and more life in his bat.

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Homers + Halladay = Win

A few of the Phillies bats had a small, yet short-lived, resurrection on Friday night against the Texas Rangers.  Both Ben Francisco and Raul Ibanez went deep to score all three of the Phillies runs in the 3-2 win.

Both players have been struggling, especially Francisco.  Perhaps the call-up of Domonic Brown lit a fire under the two outfielders. Francisco won the right field spot out of spring training, but he may be on the verge of losing it now with his recent slump, the Brown call-up and better defense from John Mayberry Jr.

 While the future of the outfield is up in the air, the starting rotation remains steady.  Led by Roy Halladay, the Phillies put together a win while totaling only four hits in the game, two of which were home runs.

Both teams had issues with home plate umpire, Andy Fletcher, who had a moving strike zone that no one could nail down.  But Halladay stayed on his game, despite the inconsistencies.  He went eight innings, allowing just two runs on six hits and a walk.  Halladay also struck out seven.

The closer role for the Phillies has been another question mark this year with both Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras going on the DL.  But Ryan Madson, who had trouble with this role in the past, has left little doubt about who the Phillies closer should be.

Madson has been practically unhittable.  He has allowed only one run the entire season so far and last night, he earned his eighth save in eight opportunities.  So now it is Madson who is lights-out, not Lidge.

Saturday night Cliff Lee will face the reigning AL Champs and his former team, the Rangers.  Game time is 7:10pm.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

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

 

It’s Official: A Phillies Losing Streak

Some said that with this pitching staff, it would never happen.  And yet, here it is…a losing streak of three games.  Those who called it impossible must have severely overestimated the Phillies offense.

Because this offense has been horrific.  Pathetic, anemic and just plain awful are a few other descriptive terms you may choose.  On Monday night, the Phillies faced a pitcher with an ERA over 7.0 and they still only managed one lousy run.  They lost to the Cardinals 3-1.

 

There were a total of four Phillies hits in the game and one of those came from the pitcher, Cliff Lee.  Yes, Lee out hit everyone, except Jimmy Rollins and Ben Francisco who had the other three hits.

On the mound, Lee was a bit off and high in the strike zone.  He walked a career-high six batters, although at least two of those were on badly missed calls from the umpire.  Still, through 6.1 innings, Lee allowed three runs and kept the team in the game.  The problem was, no one else looked like they wanted to be in the game.

The hitters were impatient at the plate with a home plate ump who was obviously squeezing the pitchers.  All three walks issued by the Cardinals were to Ryan Howard.  With the way the strike zone was, they should have had at least three or four more free passes.

Personally, I think the starting pitchers need to get together and start screaming at the offense.  Chase Utley missing is not an excuse.  They have hit without him before and are capable of doing it again.  One man does not make a team.

Roy Oswalt will pitch tonight, despite his back issues, which makes me nervous.  Because if the Phillies continue to fail to score runs, Oswalt will have no room for error.  They could lose their fourth straight game and second straight series.  Game time is 8:15pm.

 

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

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

 

Will Injuries Derail The Phillies Season?

As of May 13, 2011, the Phillies are 25-13 and two games ahead of the Florida Marlins for first place in the NL East.  However, Phillies players are dropping like flies.  Can they maintain this pace in spite of all the injuries?

So far the Phillies have lost their starting short stop, both catchers, two starting pitchers, a bunch of relief pitchers and more.  Starter Joe Blanton came off the DL but looks like he needs to go back as he is still in pain and losing speed on his pitches.  Starter Roy Oswalt is coming back this week, but also looks like he is not 100% after a rehab start on Thursday.

Then in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Braves, centerfielder Shane Victorino left the game early with a hamstring pull.  It ended his 15-game hitting streak.

The Phillies anemic offense managed only three hits in the game, a trend which has continued throughout the season so far.  The pitching has helped the Phillies win games, but the loses due to a lack of hitting are starting to pile up.

At the same time, the pitcher’s are now coming up lame.  If the injuries continue and the Phillies wind up with both weak pitching and weak hitting at the same time, this spells trouble.

Here is a look at the injuries so far this year:

 

If Victorino winds up on the DL, the Phillies may have been able to fill the roster spot by calling Domonic Brown back up since he has recovered from hand surgery.  However, earlier in the week, Brown sprained the thumb on the same hand he had surgery on and is unavailable to play right now.

Currently in right field, Ben Francisco has been terrible in the month of May.  He is hitting just .071 since May 1.  Ryan Howard is hitting .217 in May.  Placido Polanco’s May numbers are down as well, hitting .234.  Brian Schneider’s bat was starting to heat up when he got hurt and was sent to the DL.  Carlos Ruiz is back, but rusty, and he is still looking for his first hit this month.

The bench players have filled in admirably where they are able to.  But if this trend continues where the offense slumps and the pitching can no longer bail them out, the Phillies could lose their grasp on first place quickly.

The Phillies season is at a crossroads now.  Either they will be able to continue to battle through the injuries or they will not.

But this is an issue they have dealt with for many years running now.  This Phillies team knows how to carry on when star players hit the skids.  Hopefully, knowing that they have overcome injuries in the past will be enough to propel them into the future as a winning team.

Cliff Lee Is Not Feeling The Love From The Phillies Bats

While Phillies fans have certainly shown their support of Cliff Lee since his return, his teammates are a bit lacking in that department.  In Lee’s last three starts, the Phils have scored a grand total of ONE run for him.

Last night, the huge “zero” on the board amounted to a very odd outcome.  Lee struck out a career-high 16 batters in the 5-0 loss to the Braves.  This tied Steve Carlton for the most strikeouts over nine innings by a lefty in Phillies history.

 

The third inning was not great for Lee, as he allowed three runs.  But aside from that inning, Lee was lights out, keeping pace with Derek Lowe who had a no-hitter going into the seventh.

But if you allow just three runs over seven innings, you are supposed to get a win, right?  Sadly, that did not happen.  Instead, the Phillies offense continues to be a dark cloud over Lee’s head.

The most frustrating offense came in the seventh after Shane Victorino broke up the no-hitter with a single to left.  Placido Polanco knocked a ground rule double, which as the ball hopped over the fence in center, actually prevented Victorino from scoring.

With two men in scoring position and no outs, the Phillies bats failed again.  Lowe left the game with an injury and Eric O’Flaherty replaced him. 

Facing O’Flaherty should have been a relief after Lowe had mowed the Phils down in six straight innings.  Instead, the next three batters, Ryan Howard, Ben Francisco and Raul Ibanez, all struck out swinging.  Not one of them could even make contact.

And that continues to be the Achilles heel of this team.  These severe hot and cold streaks at the plate are going to catch up to the Phillies eventually.  The team’s 21 wins behind a stellar pitching staff is covering the multitude of offensive sins right now.  But that cannot last for long.

The Phillies bats will need to get serious very, very soon.

Injury Update

Roy Oswalt came back from his tour of duty in the Mississippi tornado sector, but apparently, his lower back did not come with him.  He is now on the DL, retroactive for 10 days, which means he could return on Friday.  Oswalt has a history of back issues, so this is potentially very bad news.  Stay tuned…

Catcher Carlos Ruiz is also still on the shelf with a strained lower back and he remains day to day.  The Phils may place him on the DL, but if they do, it will have to be sometime today so they can backdate it.

 

***Important Blog FYI:  The entire MLBlogs community is going to be switched to a WordPress format beginning on Friday, May 6.  The transition may last through Monday night, May 9.  All MLBlogs writers will be unable to post and you will be unable to access any MLBlogs during this transition.  So do not panic if this and other blogs suddenly disappear during that weekend…we will be back :O)***

Go Phillies!

 

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

 

Worley Wins While Howard Homers

After Joe Blanton was sent to the DL yesterday, Vance Worley was called up to fill in against the Mets.  Worley definitely proved that he has what it takes to pitch in the majors.

And the Phillies certainly challenged him in the first inning.  Both Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins committed rare errors in the first to extend the inning.  But Worley did not get rattled and eventually coaxed a double play ball to end the inning.

That inning increased Worley’s pitch count, but he still managed to go six innings while allowing only two hits.  Despite four walks, Worley shut-out the Mets and got his first major league win of the year.  Worley also singled in the game, which was his first major league hit.

However, most of the fireworks at the plate were provided by Ryan Howard who is now tied for 2nd with Del Ennis for Phillies all-time home runs.  Howard’s 259 home runs are second only to Mike Schmidt who ended his career with 548.

It took Howard two homers to match the record tonight.  The first shot went into the second deck in right field for 2-RBI.  The second was a grand slam in the sixth inning, which is the 10th slam of Howard’s career.

Howard Rollins fireworks.jpg

Howard came up again in the seventh with the bases loaded, but back-to-back slams were just not meant to be.  Sadly, he struck out.

But Ben Francisco helped out in the game as well with two hits and two RBI in the game.  And Rollins had another two-hit game, officially announcing his emergence from an early season slump.  Raul Ibanez, on the other hand, has not had a hit in 30 consecutive at-bats.

Another record was set tonight as well.  Polanco recorded his 39th hit in the month of April, setting a new Phillies team record.  Chase Utley held the previous record with 38 hits in April of 2008.  And Polly is not done yet…still one more game to go in April.

The bullpen, including newcomer Michael Stutes, held down most of the Phillies huge lead and they went on to win by a score of 10-3.  Game two is Saturday at 1:10pm and Roy Halladay will pitch.

***Important Blog FYI:  The entire MLBlogs community is going to be switched to a WordPress format beginning on Friday, May 6.  The transition may last through Monday night, May 9.  All MLBlogs writers will be unable to post and you will be unable to access any MLBlogs during this transition.  So do not panic if this and other blogs suddenly disappear during that weekend…we will be back :O)***

Go Phillies!

 

Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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