There are several adjectives that come to mind when mentally reviewing these last few Phillies games against the Astros; sloppy, messy, disgusting, lackadaisical and slothful, are just a few.
Some low-lights from Monday night’s 1-5 loss include:
- Michael Martinez watched a bouncing grounder fly past his glove at third base.
- Raul Ibanez dropped a low fly ball to left that bounced out of his glove.
- Covering first base, Roy Oswalt missed an descent throw on what looked like an easy out.
- Jimmy Rollins and Pete Orr collided near second base on what should have been an easy double play if they had simply remembered who was covering what area.
But the fun did not end there. On Tuesday night, the Phillies tried to out-sloppy their Monday night performance with these gems:
- John Mayberry Jr. watched a ground ball to center roll mysteriously under his glove.
- Mayberry recovered, tossed to Martinez and then Martinez proceeded to make one of the crappiest throws to third that you have ever seen. With a good throw, the runner would have been out, despite the Mayberry error. Instead, the guy winds up on third.
- Ryan Howard dropped an easy ground ball to first, allowing the Astros pitcher to be safe at first and move a runner to third. This lead to four runs in the inning, including a 3-run homer hit off Cole Hamels.
In these two games, the Phillies faced many of their old teammates, including pitchers Brett Myers and J.A. Happ. Neither pitcher was having a good year, but the Phillies may have just single-handedly revived both their seasons.
Also in the Phillies – Astros trade merry-go-round, both Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence made their first trip back to Houston since coming to Philly. Oswalt had a bad game Monday, allowing five runs in seven innings.
As for Pence, he seemed to be the only Phillie interested in winning these games. Pence went 2-for-4 Monday with a double. And he also hit a solo homer on Tuesday.
The only other good news is that Joe Blanton pitched in Monday’s game for the first time since May 14th. He allowed one hit but looked pretty good overall.
What I am wondering now is, where have the Phillies gone? Because this is not the same team we have been watching all year. They seem to be in a coma. It may not seem like they have much to play for right now, but home field advantage can be a big boost in the playoffs.
So come on Phillies…wake up! Get your behinds off the mud slide and back onto solid ground. Thank you in advance. ;o)
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Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
While they were unable to sweep the 4 game series, the Phillies still made life miserable for the Brewers, winning the first 3 games. But today, they went down in a 3-2 loss. The team win streak with Vance Worley on the mound ended at 14 games.
Worley had some interesting innings today, but every jam he worked into, he managed to get out of. But with two outs in the 7th, back-to-back doubles created trouble and gave the Brewers the lead. Worley was pulled after allowing 3 runs on 8 hits and a walk.
One of the doubles hit by the Brewers in that 7th inning came off the bat of Nyger Morgan, who then proceeded to celebrate at second base like his team had just won the pennant. Morgan, who has publicly named his own alter-ego “Tony Plush,” is possibly the biggest clown in the majors.
Morgan’s behavior is consistently inappropriate (he tries to incite fights on a regular basis) and he even went so far as to call Albert Pujols a girl in a recent Twitter post. This guy is a fungus. The Brewers should be embarrassed to have him as a member of their team. So today’s display of childish behavior is really no shock.
Back to the game…The Phillies offense had a few big hits today with home runs from Shane Victorino and Ryan Howard. But they could muster little else against Brewers pitcher, Yovani Gallardo, who was very, very good today. The Phils ended the day with only 6 hits and 14 strikeouts.
The Phillies have another interesting series coming up next with the Astros. It will be the first trip back to Houston for both Hunter Pence and Roy Oswalt since coming to Philly. And oddly enough, Oswalt will pitch in the first game against former Phillie Brett Myers. Game time is 8:05pm; be sure to watch this one, it should be a lot of fun.
In closing, I wanted to share a photo with everyone that I took about 20 years ago. Having grown up in North/Central New Jersey, this was a common sight for me as a kid. On the 10-year anniversary of 9-11, take a moment to remember.
Post-Season Magic # – 2 games
Division Magic # – 6 games
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Towers photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Morgan photo: Yahoo Sports
Happy Opening Day! And what an unusual Opening Day it was for the Phillies.
The Phillies sent Roy Halladay to the mound to face ex-Phillie Brett Myers of the Astros. What initially looked like it might be a bad day despite great pitching, the Phillies pulled out a win in walk-off fashion to open the 2011 season.
The first hit off Halladay came off the bat of Myers. And from there, more drama ensued. In fact, Myers wound up with two of the five hits Halladay allowed through six innings. Myers allowed only three hits and one earned run through seven innings.
But for the Phillies offense, hits were few and far between making fans wonder if all the hard work assembling this amazing pitching staff was going to pay off. If Halladay only allows one run but the offense cannot score any runs, wins will be hard to come by.
Only Ryan Howard and Wilson Valdez got any hits through the first six innings. The Valdez hit was a double in the third inning, but they were unable to score him. A bad call at first base where Halladay was called out did not help the situation.
Also not a huge help were a strange variety of Phillies mistakes. Ben Francisco missed a fly ball in right early in the game, prompting chants of, “Bring back Werth!” from the crowd. Valdez let a ball slip right between his legs and Shane Victorino got caught stealing. Later, poor Carlos Ruiz took a bouncing relay to the plate in what looks like an uncomfortable position:
None of this was good news for the Phillies. But in the seventh, Myers started to tire and the Phils finally manufactured a few runs. By the ninth inning, down 4-2, the Phillies probably started to imagine the backlash if they were to lose on Opening Day after Halladay pitched a great game. Suddenly, the hits started coming.
Jimmy Rollins started off the inning with a single to inspire the team. Howard, Francisco and Ruiz followed suit. The hit for Francisco was especially huge as it redeemed him from the previous error in the eyes of the crowd.
Valdez stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Visions of the 20 double plays Valdez hit into last year began to haunt the crowd who held their collective breath. But perhaps the DP curse is over, because Valdez nailed and RBI single to tie the game.
All the Phillies needed now was a hit or a sac fly from John Mayberry Jr. With his father, former major leaguer John Mayberry Sr., and mother looking on, Mayberry Jr. smashed a 2-2 fastball to center field, over the head of former Phillie Michael Bourn. Francisco scored and Mayberry had his first major league walk-off hit in his first game ever as an Opening Day roster player.
The walk-off win was the first on Opening Day since May 6, 1974, when Mike Schmidt hit a two-run home run against Tug McGraw to beat the Mets at Veterans Stadium. But with the high expectations for this 2011 team, this walk-off victory will go down as one of the most memorable in Phillies history.
The stunned Astros team will probably have nightmare’s tonight knowing they face Cliff Lee on Saturday. Game time is 7:05pm.
Here is the full Photo Album from Opening Day.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
JA Happ returned to Philadelphia today in a different uniform. Pitching for the Astros against his former team for the first time, Happ showed Phillies brass why they should have kept him around. Going pitch for pitch with Roy Halladay, Happ allowed only 2 runs in 6 1/3 innings. Halladay went 7 with 3 runs given up. He may have gone further, but Halladay was pulled for a pinch-hitter with runners on base in the 7th.
Having Happ on the mound did not help the struggling Phillies offense emerge from their current funk. Jayson Werth hit a solo homer in the 5th, but with runners in scoring position in the 6th, he grounded out. Werth has hit only .159 with RISP all year; with 2 outs and RISP, the stat drops to .107. By a wide margin, Werth is the worst situational hitter on the team.
The second run the Phillies scored was helped along by Halladay leading off the 6th with a base hit. Placido Polanco later doubled to score him. So of the 5 hits Happ allowed, one was from the opposing pitcher. Base running errors have not helped the Phillies this week either. Ben Francisco was picked off leaning too far off 3rd base during a potential rally in the 6th. That was the 10th runner picked off this year.
Earlier in the series, Werth got picked off at second after peering into the Astros dugout; former teammate Brett Myers stuck his tongue out at him and in an attempt not to laugh out loud, Werth lowered his head and was thrown out. A lack of concentration was bad enough, but playing around with the opposing team while on the base path? Wow. That is bad.
This entire Astros series has been a microcosm of Werth’s lack of focus. Players getting thrown out on the base path, no discipline at the plate and a serious lack of urgency have now led to a huge series loss. While the Braves have been losing as well, the Phillies have simply thrown away their opportunity to gain ground in the NL East race.
Disagreements with the umpires in every game of this series so far have added to the frustration. Today, the home plate umpire called Shane Victorino back to the plate after being hit by a pitch; the ump claimed Victorino leaned into it. Replay shows he leaded down and away. But Victorino got on base anyway with a hit.
Despite the controversial umpiring, it has not been the officiating that lost these 3 games; it has been the Phillies invisible offense. Today’s 3-2 loss was evidence enough. The final game with the Astros is tomorrow afternoon at 1:05pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
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
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.
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