Tagged: Brad Lidge

Cliff Lee Back on Track In Win Over Dodgers

The Dodgers are in town!  In the first game of an 11-game home stand tonight, the Phillies came away with a victory.

Cliff Lee was coming off a bad start where he allowed 6 runs in 5.1 innings.  Lee has had a rough start to the year, wavering on and off his usual solid game.  But against the Dodgers, he found his stride once again.

Through seven innings, Lee did not allow a run and struck out 10 batters.  So frustrated were some of the Dodgers that Casey Blake wound up getting tossed from the game after apparently arguing balls and strikes.

And while the Phillies offense is still not setting the world on fire, they did manage a few runs.  In the third inning, Wilson Valdez led off with a double and Lee bunted him to third.  Singles from Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard plated two runs.

In the eighth, Carlos Ruiz doubled home Chase Utley for a 3-0 lead.  It was Ruiz’s second hit of the night.  Antonio Bastardo and Ryan Madson held down the lead in the eighth and ninth, giving Lee his fifth win of the year.

Although, Madson’s outing was an adventure.  Former Phillies closer Tom Gordon looked as his son, Dee Gordon, scored the first run of his major league career off Madson.  But Madson got the job done and the Phils won by a score of 3-1.

As for the walking wounded, Jimmy Rollins had an MRI on the knee he fouled a ball off of on Saturday and it was negative.  So J-Roll may be back in action very soon.

On the other hand, Brad Lidge is having more issues.  After reporting shoulder soreness a few days ago, Lidge now also has soreness in his pitching elbow.  When his arm finally falls off, I will let you all know.  In the meantime, the bullpen is moving on without Lidge.

The next game against the Dodgers is tomorrow night at 7:05pm.  Roy Oswalt will pitch.

In the meantime, do not forget to enter to win an admission ticket to the Phillies Phestival right here!  Entries will be accepted until Wednesday at 6pm.  Enter today…good luck!

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Good News? Anyone? Bueller?

If you ask Phillies fans today if they can pass on any good news about this team right now, you will have a difficult time getting an answer.  So, good news?  Anyone?? …

Let us quickly recap all of the BAD news:

– The Phillies have now lost FOUR games in a row for the first time all year.

– Two of those losses  were against the last place Nationals (NL East) and two more against the fourth place Pirates (NL Central).

– The Phillies have scored three runs or less in all four losses.

– Since coming off the DL, Chase Utley is hitting .195.  He ended tonight’s game by flying out with the bases loaded.

Ryan Howard suddenly looks like an automatic out at the plate.  He hits into the shift next to first base on a regular basis.  He hit there again tonight with an inning-ending double play with a man on third.

Jimmy Rollins was removed from the game early with a patellar contusion.  He fouled a ball off his kneecap in the first inning.

Brian Schneider suffered a “setback” in his rehab.  The Phillies say he is basically having to start all over.

Brad Lidge had a setback of his own; he has stiffness in the shoulder he is trying to rehab.

I could go on, but that was depressing enough.  So here is the only bit of good news I have for you:  You can enter to win an admission ticket to the Phillies Phestival right here!  Entries will be accepted until Wednesday at 6pm.  Enter today!

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*

 

Phillies Starter Joe Blanton is the Latest Injury Bug Victim

Players are dropping like flies in Philadelphia.  Joe Blanton is the latest victim of this injury virus which seems to be spreading quicker than both the Swine and Bird Flu combined.

The diagnosis is medial impingement of the right elbow, which is Blanton’s throwing arm.  Treatment for this injury can vary from rest and medication to surgery.  There is no word yet on how Blanton’s treatment will play out.

Blanton now joins fellow teammates on the DL, including shortstop Chase Utley, closer Brad Lidge, back-up closer Jose Contreras, relief pitcher JC Romero and outfielder Domonic Brown.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz is also going to be inactive for several days while he recovers from a back issue.  For now, he will not be placed on the DL and Brian Schneider will fill in.


122A.jpgVance Worley
has been called up from the AAA Iron Pigs to start tomorrow’s game against the Mets in place of Blanton.  In four starts this year, Worley is 2-2 with a 2.78 ERA and 9.9 K/9.  In 13 innings last year with the major league club, Worley was impressive with a 1.38 ERA and 12 strikeouts.

While this is a great opportunity for a young prospect, the news for Blanton is surprising.  Blanton is coming off two straight quality starts after having a rough start to the season.  He showed no signs of elbow issues Saturday against the Padres.  Just when things were looking up for Blanton, the crap has suddenly hit the fan.

What was once a very experienced pitching staff for the Phillies has just gotten a whole lot younger very quickly.  Having to depend on younger arms both in the starting staff and in the bullpen is a little nerve racking.

How a younger pitcher will respond to a stressful situation is the great unknown.  Although in Worley’s case, he showed very good poise last year in his short time with the big club.  That is a plus.

But this is a new year with new pressures, including having to keep pace with four of the best starters in the game in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.  If Worley can stick to competing with himself, instead of the rest of this veteran staff, he should be just fine.

For Phillies fans, the way to look at all this carnage is simple.  Perhaps the team is getting all the injuries out of the way early so everyone will be healthy late in the season.  Or, is that too optimistic?  Time will tell.

In the interim, just keep sending out that positive, happy energy and hope for the best.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Phils Win A Close One Over The Fish

The Phillies celebrated the Phanatic’s birthday today.  Afterwards, they got to celebrate a win as well.  In a very close 3-2 victory over the Marlins, the Phillies saw their season record improve to 10-4 in front of the second largest regular season crowd since Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004.

All 45,716 people were treated to a birthday party for the Phanatic before the game began.  Local Philly mascots and some mascots from other MLB teams joined the party too.  The ZOOperstars also attended and yes, there was a cake made entirely of Tastycakes:

 

041711 Phanatic.jpg

As for the game, Placido Polanco got the Phillies off to fast start with a solo homer off Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez in the first inning.  A single by Raul Ibanez later knocked Jimmy Rollins in for a 2-0 lead.

 

041711 misc.jpg

And that is how the score would remain for five innings as Cole Hamels looked very sharp.  He finally bent in the sixth, allowing two runs, but finished seven full innings without giving up a big inning.


041711 Hamels.jpgHamels’ performance was what kept the Phillies in the game as the hits were not coming easily.  Polanco would up with three hits and Ben Francisco had two.  That accounted for five of the Phillies eight hits total.

There were some odd and sloppy plays throughout the game by both teams.  Ibanez made a spectacular running catch in the fourth inning (see photo below).  But the next inning, he missed basically the exact same ball.  And Shane Victorino stumbled while on first base and got picked off in the fifth:


041711 errors.jpgThe third run for the Phillies was courtesy of a Marlins goof in the eighth.  Ryan Howard hit a fly ball to left and Logan Morrison somehow missed it as the sun appeared to interfere with his vision.  Francisco took advantage and singled and then Ibanez moved Howard to third on a ground out.  Carlos Ruiz put the RBI on the board with a sac fly, giving the Phils the 3-2 lead.

In the ninth, Jose Contreras did his best Brad Lidge imitation and scared the crap out of everyone in attendance with a circus-like save.  He walked the first batter and a few ground balls moved the runner to third.

As if this were not frightening enough, Contreras then walked Chris Coghlan, who then stole second base.  But Omar Infante then grounded out for the third out and Contreras got his third save of the year, although it was not pretty.

The Phillies split the 2 games with the Marlins as Saturday’s game has been rescheduled for 6/15.  On Monday night, they begin a 3-game series with the Brewers.  Game time is 7:05pm and Joe Blanton will pitch.

The full Photo Album from today’s game, including batting practice and the birthday bash, will be posted tomorrow afternoon.  Check back for that.

 

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Great Home Stand Ends With Series Win Over Mets

The Phillies beat the Mets today by a score of 11-0 to win the series two games to one.  Roy Halladay was his usual, spectacular self as he shut down the opposition.  Halladay went seven innings without allowing a run on six hits and his first walk issued for the season.

The offense went back to work, pounding Mets pitching mercilessly.  Every Phillies starter had a hit, including Halladay.  Wilson Valdez led the team with four hits and three RBI.  Placido Polanco had three RBI on two hits and Raul Ibanez smacked his first homer of the year, a two-run shot in the seventh.

The Phillies finish their first home stand of the year with a 5-1 record, scoring 43 runs in the process.  Overall, the start of 2011 has been a great success for the Phillies.  Here are some of the most encouraging signs:

The Offense: Those 43 runs in six games are a very big deal for a team whose offensive potential looked grim to some in the absence of both Chase Utley and Jayson Werth, who is now with the Nationals.

The runs have not been the only good news.  The way they scored those runs is also impressive.  Normally known as a home-run led offense, the Phillies have learned how to run the bases and play small ball, going station to station with a more patient approach at the plate.

The homers are still there, but have not played as prominent a role as they have in years past.  In other words, the Phillies can score runs without the big bangs.


P40380030403.jpgRyan Howard and Jimmy Rollins Off To A Good Start
: Normally a slow-starter in April, Ryan Howard’s big bat has made an early entrance in 2011.

Over all six games, Howard has collected 12 hits, including three doubles, two home runs and eight RBI.  On Wednesday night against the Mets, Howard went four for four at the plate.  He is now batting .480.

If the All-Star first baseman can keep up this pace, he is going to strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers all year long.

As for Rollins, he had a very rough 2010 that was plagued with injuries.  But he is off to a good start in 2011, which is also a contract year for him.

Batting .375 in the three-hole so far, Rollins may be back to the J-Roll of old.


P40379440403.jpgWilson Valdez Is Up To The Task
: When Chase Utley reported major knee injuries this spring training, the fan base let out a collective sigh of disappointment.  The perennial All-Star is one of leaders on this team and probably their best overall hitter.

But Wilson Valdez, coming off a season where he got a lot of playing time due to injuries, is ready to fill the void.

Hitting .429 through six games and five starts, Valdez tried to imitate Ryan Howard on Thursday afternoon, going four for four with three RBI.  With nine hits and five RBI in his five starts, Valdez has more than adequately filled the Utley void.

And his defense is probably a slight upgrade over Utley.  Valdez has a cannon for an arm and now, his bat is on fire too.

Starting Pitching:  Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt all gave solid performances this week, as expected.  Halladay has pitched twice and was even better in his second start.

As for Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton, their first starts did not go quite as well.  But three out of five is not bad.

However, no one should panic about either Hamels or Blanton.  Hamels is a notoriously slow starter.  Clearly, the California kid does not like chilly weather.  His lifetime ERA in April is 4.45.  In 2010, Hamels posted a 5.28 ERA in April.

Blanton has similar issues.  So both pitchers should get better as the season progresses. 

But these five guys are going to be something very special.

The Bullpen:  Once thought to be the Achilles heel of this Phillies team, the bullpen has really stepped up their game this year.

Danys Baez has been great after being a total nightmare in 2010.  Youngster Antonio Bastardo has matured and also looks very sharp.  And J.C. Romero appears to have made the necessary adjustments to his game that were needed after he had issues in 2010 following elbow surgery.

With Brad Lidge gone and probably not returning until after the All-Star break, there are concerns about the back end of the pen, too.  But both Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras are on the ball so far.  Contreras collected his first save on Wednesday night and neither pitcher has allowed a run yet.

The pen is ready for the season!

Werth Who? : Ben Francisco is quickly making Phillies fans forget all about Jayson Werth and his exorbitant $129 million pay check with the Nationals.

Batting .320, Francisco has eight hits, five RBI and two home runs so far.  He might have a few more bombs if not for the cold, windy conditions in Philly right now.  Francisco has hit the ball very, very hard in nearly every at-bat.

His defense has been good as well.  Giving himself up for the team, Francisco smashed into the right field wall, back first on Sunday to catch a very long fly ball.  He hit it so hard, part of the out of town scoreboard was knocked loose.

Francisco’s effort and right-handed power are exactly what the Phillies need in their starting right fielder.

The Phillies are off on their first road trip of the season.  They take on the Braves in Atlanta tomorrow with Cliff Lee pitching.  Game time is 7:35pm.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

The Final Decisions Before Opening Day

After a few additions and subtractions, the Phillies Opening Day roster is set.

#

Pitchers

#

Infielders

55

Danys Baez

6

Ryan Howard

58

Antonio Bastardo

19

Michael Martinez

56

Joe Blanton

60

Pete Orr

52

Jose Contreras

27

Placido Polanco

34

Roy Halladay

11

Jimmy Rollins

35

Cole Hamels

21

Wilson Valdez

57

David Herndon

#

Outfielders

38

Kyle Kendrick

10

Ben Francisco

33

Cliff Lee

7

Ross Gload

46

Ryan Madson

29

Raul Ibanez

44

Roy Oswalt

15

John Mayberry

16

J.C. Romero

8

Shane Victorino

#

Catchers

#

Catchers

51

Carlos Ruiz

23

Brian Schneider

 

Most notable, Luis Castillo was released yesterday.  After showing up two days late for a very short try-out, the odds of him making the team seemed slim.  And although he did get on base quite a bit, the players already in camp were just as good and much better defensively.

So Wilson Valdez will start at second base in place of Chase Utley with Michael Martinez (photo), who also made the roster, helping out.  Pete Orr, who smashed a triple and showed off his speed on the base path yesterday, also made the roster.  Delwyn Young was sent to the minors.

As for the bullpen, the injury to Brad Lidge’s shoulder left a spot open which will be filled by David Herndon who beat out Michael Stutes for the last roster spot.  Jose Contreras will close for Lidge, who may be out until May or June.

Yesterday’s final exhibition game was a tad sleepy, but having players wandering around the ballpark was neat.  Here is hoping the Phillies make this a new, year-round tradition for the On-Deck series in the future.

Here is the PHOTO ALBUM from the 3/30/11 On-Deck game with the Pirates.