Tagged: Brett Myers

Series Win Gives Phillies 8 Game Lead

With a 3-2 victory over the Braves last night to win the series 2 game to 1, the Phillies will have an 8-game lead in the NL East over both the Braves and the Marlins going into September.  Joe Blanton pitched another beautiful game and got through 7 innings of one run ball; the only run came off a solo homer from Martin Prado in the first inning.  Blanton looked a bit shaky through those first few innings, but settled in well and only gave up 3 hits.

 

And for the 2nd night in a row, Chase Utley went yard; his solo shot to right field in the 4th was the only run for the Phillies until Carlos Ruiz stepped up in the 7th.  In honor of the Ruiz backpack night, a giveaway for kids 14 and under, Ruiz smacked a double to left to score Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz.  Ruiz went 3 for 3 on the night; it was his 5th 3-hit game of the year.  Maybe the Phillies should give away a Ruiz bobble head next?


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In the not-so-great offensive category, the Phillies are still struggling with runners in scoring position.  They left 14 men on base and again, had the bases loaded with no outs and failed to score.  Blanton hit a line-drive to first base and Ruiz was double off after the catch.  Jimmy Rollins then hit a weak grounder to end the inning.  The offensive outage is concerning, but thanks to great pitching, they came out on top.

 

Defense was a big part of the win as well.  Ryan Madson, who is entering Brad Lidge-bad territory, got into a huge jam in the 8th inning again.  He hit the first batter he faced and then gave up back-to-back singles which scored a run for the Braves.  Without recording an out, he was removed from the game and Scott Eyre took over. 

 

Brain McCann then hit a sharp grounder to Utley, who fielded it perfectly and flipped to Rollins who threw to Feliz at third; Feliz tagged Chipper Jones for the unusual 4-6-5 double play.  Having eliminated the lead runner, Eyre saved the Phillies from disaster and gave Lidge a 3-2 lead to work with.  Amazingly, Lidge nailed down the save with relative ease; it was his second save in a row.  Whew!


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By the way, did anyone see the actor, Paul Rudd (movies: “I Love You, Man”; “Anchorman”; “Knocked Up”), sitting in the 10th row behind home plate last night? He was just a few sections over from me so I took a few photos.  The woman next to him (right side, dark brown hair) is none other than Jen Utley, Chase’s wife.


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A very welcome off-day is upon us as the Phillies offense needs to rest and charge up for the September charge.  Watch for September call-up’s which may include pitchers Kyle Kendrick, Jack Taschner and Rodrigo Lopez; infielders Mike Cervenak and Andy Tracy; outfielders John Mayberry Jr. and Jason Ellison; and we will likely see a catcher added – maybe Paul Hoover.  Those are my guesses anyway.

 

A lot of moves will be made as the Phillies are also anticipating the return of Brett Myers, JC Romero and Clay Condrey to the bullpen plus Greg Dobbs.  All four have been on the DL and are very close to coming back.

 

And finally, here is the complete Photo Album from last night’s Phillies – Braves game.  Tomorrow, the San Francisco Giants come to town for 3 games and some serious pitching battles will ensue.  You may remember the Phillies were stomped in San Fran back in July, losing 3 out of 4 games.  The Giants are tied for a wildcard spot right now so this will be a very tough match match-up.  Cole Hamels starts it off tomorrow at 7:05pm.

Photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

 

Lidge Blows Another, Phillies Win Anyway

This week in Phillies-land has been anything but dull.  After getting swept by the Marlins, a trip to Chicago was in order.  Coming off his second complete game shut-out with 127 pitches thrown, JA Happ looked a bit tired on the mound last night, but he got the job done.  P8094580 Happ.jpgHis composure and inability to lose his cool makes him extremely effective.  In 6 innings, Happ only allowed two runs despite a plethora of base runners, as he worked in and out of trouble all night.  It was another great job from the rookie who continues to show why he belongs in the starting rotation.

Even with the Phillies offense still in a coma, they entered the 9th inning with a 3-2 lead thanks mostly to a Jimmy Rollins 2-run homer in the 6th.  Ryan Madson did his job to shut the Cubs down in the 8th and then Brad Lidge stepped to the mound in the 9th for the save.  Adding more fuel to the fire of Phillies fans everywhere, Lidge blew another save; his 7th blown save of the year.  And when you look at his ERA, which is a disgusting 7.29, I know many people are praying for Brett Myers to return.

Here is what I think:  Stick a fork in Lidge; he is done. 

Last night was the final straw for me.  The Phillies kicked and scratched to stay in that game and then Lidge came in and demoralized the team.  Earlier that day, Lidge threw a bullpen session to work on his fastball command.  Sorry, but it is the middle of August.  If he needs to work on his fastball command, he needs to do that in the minors – just like Myers did last year.  And boy do we wish Myers was healthy right about now.

We all appreciate and admire the job Lidge did last year, but this is 2009 and he is not the same pitcher, for whatever reason. 

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He needs to get his act together, screw his head back on straight and learn how to pitch again.  It is either that, or fans are going to take the Lidge bobblehead doll that will be distributed at the game on Wednesday the 19th and use it for target practice.  As much as I would hate to see the poor, innocent Lidge doll decapitated, maybe that is the jolt he needs to wake up?  Honestly, I love Brad and it pains me to see him struggle like this, but he cannot be allowed to continue to hurt the team when the division is clearly not in the bag, by any means.

But even with the blown save, the Phillies kept at it and tried to pull out the win.  With a 3-3 tie in the 12th inning, Ben Francisco threw the team up on his shoulders and hit a game-winning home run.  Chad Durbin nailed down the save and all is well in the world again.  By the way, could someone please tell Mr. Francisco to use two hands when catching fly balls in the outfield?  As pleased as we all are with his bat skills right now, he is making me very, very nervous out there with the glove.  A bit of foreshadowing?  I hope not.

So the circus continues…Pedro Martinez will make his Phillies debut tonight!  Jamie Moyer has a Pedro voodoo doll ready to go so he can get his job back, but still hoping for a win ;o)  Of course, I am joking…Jamie is a true professional and will always root on his team, even if he is unhappy with the situation.  I am still voting for my split game, 5 1/2-man rotation idea to keep Jamie in the game, but MLB just hates creativity ;O)  Well, let’s see how Pedro does!  Go Phillies!

Happ Photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

 

Slaughter in San Francisco

So much for the presence of Cliff Lee taking some of the pressure off Cole Hamels; you can officially take that theory and flush it down the toilet.  And down the toilet is exactly where this four game series went today as Hamels was destroyed by the Giants in a 7-3 loss.  The Phillies lost 3 of 4 here in the city by the bay.


Thumbnail image for P8024045 Hamels.jpgIt all began to unravel in the 5th inning when, with 2 outs in the inning, Giants pitcher Barry Zito nubbed a good luck broken bat single up the middle.  Instead of taking it for what it was, a stroke of luck, Hamels let the hit get into his head and chaos ensued.  3 runs later, the Giants moved onto the 6th inning with Hamels still annoyed about the previous disaster and 3 more runs scored in that next inning. 

Hamels is looking more and more like a mental patient on the mound instead of an MVP.  Can someone please call Dr. Phil?  This guy needs a serious sit down.  It does not matter how good a pitchers arm is; if he cannot handle the pressure, he will crack.  And Hamels is cracking to the point of breaking.  Let me ask you this; when Pedro Martinez arrives and one of the starters is going to get bumped to the bullpen, can the Phillies justify doing this to JA Happ when he has outpitched Hamels?

Think I am nuts?  Look at the numbers:  Hamels has a 7-6 record with a 4.68 ERA.  Happ, in 17 fewer innings due to a season start in the pen, has a record of 7-2 with a 2.97 ERA.  Hamels is averaging 5 2/3 innings pitched per game for the season; Happ is averaging 6 2/3 in his last 10 starts (could not use games he pitched from the pen, so went with last 10) and therefore, going deeper into games. 

Is Cole the staff “ace”?  Supposedly.  And there is no denying the job he did last season.  But why hurt the team while he gets his head on straight?  Brett Myers knew that was the wrong thing to do last year when he accepted a minor league assignment in order to straighten himself out.  Will Hamels ever follow suit?  That is doubtful.  Then it is up to the manager to make the decision for him.  I am not saying he should be demoted to the minors, but Hamels needs to show this team that he can handle pressure and adjust in tight situations.  If he cannot turn things around, I think a “spanking” of some sort is in order here.

And there is my Hamels rant for the day.  The rest of the team did not do much this series to help out either.  The offense was lacking and defense was sloppy, as evidenced by a Ryan Howard goof today that cost the team another run.  In fact, the biggest hit of the day, besides a Jimmy Rollins solo shot, was a double off the bat of Eric Bruntlett that went deep into left field.  When the standout star of the day is Eric “I am batting below .150” Bruntlett, you know it is going to be a very bad day.


080209.jpgAside from the blunders, the best entertainment of the day was watching Pedro Feliz try to wrestle the Giants mascot, Lou Seal and then Jayson Werth stole the poor critters hat:

But tomorrow is another day and the Phillies are still in first place.  A three game series with the Rockies may be just what the doctor ordered Tuesday night beginning at 7:05pm. 

I will be taking a tour of AT & T Park tomorrow morning and flying home tomorrow evening.  I hope to post a review of San Francisco, both the city and the ballpark, sometime on Tuesday.  I will also be posting a Photo Album from the entire West Coast trip and all 4 games with the Giants.  For now, let’s see if the Phillies return home can spark some offense!  Go Phillies!

 

Photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

The Old Hamels Is Back; The Old Lidge Is Still MIA



P7098599 Hamels.jpgCole Hamels
returned to MVP form last night against the Diamondbacks in a 4-3 win.  Everyone was a little nervous in the 1st inning when Hamels allowed a solo home run, but after that, he settled in and did not allow another run.  Even better than that, Hamels pitched all the way through 8 full innings, allowed only 4 hits and struck out nine batters.  Welcome back, Cole!  We missed you.

Shane Victorino led the offensive attack with 3 hits, 2 RBI and 2 runs scored.  The D-Backs helped out the Phillies offense as well with 2 key errors in the game, much like they did on Monday night.  But those errors and the extra run the Phillies scored because of the errors turned out to be the difference in the game.

Going into the 9th with a 4-1 lead, the Phillies sent Brad Lidge to the mound and he immediately got into big trouble.  Lidge walked the leadoff batter and then gave up a 2-run homer to the next batter to cut their lead to 1 run.  By what must have been some act of God, Lidge managed to get the 3 outs and end the game without blowing the save.

But fans everywhere are now officially worried about Brad Lidge.  No one expected perfection like last season, but a record of 0-4, 6 blown saves, 24 walks in 38 innings and an ERA of 7.11 was not expected either.  The Phillies will not go far in the playoffs with a closer posting these numbers.  Either Lidge needs to get his act together, or could Brett Myers return to the closer role in August, which is when he may return after hip surgery?  Does this seem farfetched?  Maybe.  But Lidge cannot continue to hurt the team.  Last night, he got lucky.  Going forward, it will not always be the case.

And is this some sort of weird Phillies curse?  You get a great season out of a guy, like Lidge in 2008; you sign him to a huge contract and mayhem ensues.  Remember Pat Burrell?  Burrell had a breakout season in 2002; then in 2003, the Phillies gave him a monster contact of 6 years, $50 million dollars and guess what happened next?  Burrell struggled for years and did not fulfill his true potential until he led the Phillies to the playoffs in 2007 and then to the World Series in 2008.  But from 2003-2006, it was not always pretty.  Is Lidge suffering from the post-contract blues?  Whatever the case, with 3 years invested in Lidge, the Phillies need to get him back on track and fast.

The Phillies have one more game against the D-Backs tonight at 9:40pm with JA Happ on the mound.  I am in San Francisco right now awaiting their arrival on Thursday for a 4-game series against the Giants.  And while I am very excited to see Giants pitchers like Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito, disappointment set in this morning when it was announced that Randy Johnson has a torn rotator cuff and will be out for at least 3 weeks.  Johnson is a future Hall of Famer, so I was hoping to see him pitch.  I even tried to see his 300th win in DC back in June, but the game was rained out and I could not go the next day.  And such is my luck…oh well!  I still get to see my Phillies and hang out in California for a week, so it’s all good :O) 

Off topic, I would like to send out my condolences to the family and friends of former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator, Jim Johnson.  Johnson lost his battle with cancer yesterday at the age of 68.  May he rest in peace.

Photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Victorino’s Final All-Star Bid With Walk-Off Win

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Tonight the Phillies faced the Reds in game 3 of this 4-game series and drama ensued.  Homer Bailey started the game for the Reds and true to his name, gave up a homer to Jayson Werth in the 6th inning, Werth’s 19th of the season.  What a horrible name for a pitcher…Homer.  Poor guy.  But for most of the game, he was very good and kept the Phillies hitters off balance.

The home plate umpire, Ron Kulpa, created a lot of controversy with his rather large strike zone; 20 strikeout’s were recorded in the game and 14 of those batters went down looking.  And so the game remained very tight throughout.

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The Phillies entered the 9th inning with a 2-2 tie and needed a hero to nail this one down.  With 2 outs and 2 on, The Flyin’ Hawaiian, Shane Victorino, stepped to the plate and solidified his campaign for an All-Star roster spot.  Shane singled into centerfield and Pedro Feliz scored to win the game, 3-2!
 VOTE FOR SHANE! 

Rules of Engagement

One of the more entertaining aspects of tonight’s game, as I mentioned earlier, was watching the Reds hitters argue and scream and cuss at the home plate umpire, Ron Kulpa.  To sum it up, basically every pitch was bound to be called a strike.  But he called it the same way for both side.  Yet, no less than 3 Reds players got right up in his face and yelled about strike calls.  It makes you wonder, why were none of these players thrown out of the game?  Not that I like watching guys get tossed, but how much grief is any umpire supposed to take?  Granted, this was one of the worst umpiring jobs I have seen in a long time, but the Phillies maintained controlled and did not try to rip his head off like the Reds did.  In fact, it is a rule that no one is allowed to argue balls and strikes (Official baseball rules section 9.02(a)).  After the first or second player, the ump needs to start ejecting guys.  Just sayin’…

Pitching Possibilities

Rodrigo Lopez did a great job through 5 innings tonight, but was removed from the game early with right shoulder inflammation.  That is certainly not good news.  However, maybe the push to get a quality starting pitcher like Roy Halladay of the Jays will reach a new level with the possibility of Lopez no longer being available. 

The Phillies front office has been insistent that certain minor league prospects are “untouchable” but frankly, that attitude will not get them far when competing with other teams who are more flexible.  Understanding the value of prospects in the farm system, teams need also be reminded of the value of winning, and winning right now.  With the Phillies core players in place, coming off a World Championship, the window of opportunity to win it again will likely only remain open for a few years.  So, if they need to give up 2-3 big prospects to get another ring, it seems like a fair trade off.

If the Phillies can get a #1 starter like Halladay, they would be foolish to let him go to another team.  Last year, they did miss out on CC Sabathia and even Manny Ramirez, and yes, they still won it all.  But the 2009 team has run into pitching trouble after losing Brett Myers, who was a big part of the World Series win.  The bullpen has been overworked and their production is way down from 2008.  This is a different team; the Phillies need a big starter if they are to have a shot at repeating.

Keep Voting!

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The clock is ticking!  Shane Victorino has a chance to go to the All-Star game in St. Louis but he needs our help!  Gizmo the Chinchilla has been typing away all day long, but his little paws are getting tired.  Won’t you please help him out?  You can
VOTE as many times as you are able to!  Humans and rodents alike have until tomorrow at 4pm to get Shane in! 

Photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Will The Real Cole Hamels Please Stand Up?

Where has the NLCS and the World Series MVP gone?  Certainly, he is not the same pitcher who is currently 4-5 with a 4.98 ERA?  Oh heck, make it an even 5.00.  And tonight, his problems were more magnified than ever; Cole Hamels pitched only 4+ innings and allowed 7 earned runs as the Phillies went down 1-11.  Seven runs against an Atlanta team that everyone said had NO offense; well, I guess they were just waiting for the Phillies to come to town.Hamels 0709.jpg

But what is the problem with Hamels?  First, he is leaving way too many pitches up in the zone.  This is not his typical style, but suddenly, it has become a real issue.  Second, he is pitching frustrated.  In recent days, the previously cool and confident Hamels has become a whiny crybaby with the umpires and has a general look of dissatisfaction on his face all the time.  But why?  For a guy who has had this much success at a young age, he has no reason to pout…with the exception maybe of his last several outings.  He was the 2008 World Series MVP…he bought a brand new luxury condo in Philly…his wife is expecting their first child…everyone worships him.  So, what is the issue?  Where did the smile go?

Then again, this entire team has seemingly lost their Mojo over the past month.  Just ask Jimmy Rollins; in fact, the only guy who’s Mojo appears untouchable is Chase Utley who is still batting .301 despite his team’s struggles.  And where has Ryan Howard’s big bat disappeared to?  He has not hit a home run since June 20th (that is 32 at-bats) and is hitting .240 overall this past month.  The most feared offensive team in the league has turned into a welcome relief to opposing pitchers who are now anxious to mow the Phillies down.

This is where Charlie Manuel’s short comings will come to light.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Charlie.  He has been the manager that this team has needed and he performed THE miracle by bringing the World Series Championship home.  And Charlie is a super nice guy; but that is exactly the issue.  He is too nice sometimes.  Sorry Charlie, but it is time to start banging heads together in that clubhouse.  The “nice” approach worked for two games, and now, they are right back in a funk. 

Not only that, but he should manage without worrying about making everyone happy.  When asked why he started Paul Bako at catcher tonight, a career bench guy, Manuel said he felt that because Bako was there with the team, he needed to play sometime.  I hate to disagree, but as the manager, Manuel does not owe anyone anything.  It is not Manuel’s job to soothe ego’s; it is his job to win games.  And no offense to Bako, but he is hardly the spark plug this team needs right now.  Forget about getting guys their playing time; play the guys who will produce.  And if Rollins cannot hit, move him down in the line-up.  There is no sense in him getting 5 at-bats a game when other players are hitting better.  No one cares how unhappy it makes Rollins, and neither should Charlie.  Get him out of the funk, then move him back.  Jimmy should be willing to do what is best for the team, and he knows that.  A little tough love is in order here.  The rest of the NL East is creeping right up on top of the Phillies and they will be out of first place this week if nothing changes.

The New Starter?

Rodrigo Lopez will, at least for now, occupy the hole left in the line-up by Brett Myers who is down for the season after hip surgery.  Lopez pitched for the Rockies in 2007, then had Tommy-John surgery.  Coming back from his injury, he signed a minor league deal with the Phils in March and has gone 5-4 with a 3.91 ERA in 13 starts this season with the AAA Iron Pigs.

Most expected to see Carlos Carassco in this spot, but that is not the way it will pan out.  However, this move may be a sign that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has a trade in the works and did not want to bring up a young gun for a spot start.  If you are going to bring in a guy like Carassco, you are probably thinking that he will be in long term.  Since they did not do that, it leads me to think there may be something cooking.  Let us hope so…

Last Day To Vote

One day left; please keep VOTING for your Phillies All-Stars.  VOTE up to 25 times per day, per email address!  Voting ends at 11:59 PM ET tomorrow, Thursday, July 2, 2009.

Hamels Photos by Jenn

Eminem by http://graphicshunt.com

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phinally – A Series Win

The Phillies wrapped up the series with the Blue Jays today and also ended interleague play for the year…finally!  As usual, interleague play was not kind to the Phillies and most are happy it is over.

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However, there were a few highlights, including JA Happ’s first career complete game shut-out yesterday.  Happ allowed only 5 hits in the game and gave the bullpen a much needed rest.  The Phillies offense found their bats after a spanking from manager Charlie Manuel in a closed door meeting, and the team racked up ten runs in the game for Happ.  The very Happ-Y pitcher is now 5-0 on the season with a 3.00 ERA.

Today, the Phillies sent Jamie Moyer to the mound and he allowed 4 runs in 5 innings, including 3 home runs.  After the 5th, Manuel decided to take advantage of his rested pen and sent Chan Ho Park in who pitched 2 scoreless, hitless innings.  It is nice to see Park finally settling into his role and feeling good after getting hit with a batted ball two days ago.       

With the Phillies up 5-4 in the 8th, Ryan Madson was set up to have an easy inning; he got the first out, Scott Rolen hit a single, but then a routine double play ball to Eric Bruntlett turned into a disaster.  Bruntlett, filling in for Jimmy Rollins the last 3 days, dropped the ball leaving 2 runners on with only 1 out.  Poor Madson was sweating by the time he got to the 3rd out, but he got there and Pedro Feliz snagged a pop-up to end the threat.

Brad Lidge came in to get the save and, as usual, it was an adventure.  A bunt single, then a walk and hearts were racing again.  But Lidge got a pop-out, another out on a run down and finally capped it off with Bruntlett snagging a grounder and tossing to Ryan Howard for the final out.  Whew!  Finally…a series win.  Time to exhale…

Iron Pigs (AAA)

Pigs (28).jpgYesterday, I attended an Iron Pigs game and saw Drew Carpenter pitch.  Carpenter has been a highly touted player in the minors and he did pitch a shut-out through 8 innings.  However, his fastball tops out at around 80mph (or at least it did last night).  Solid pitcher, but I am not sure the Phillies need another Jamie Moyer in the rotation.  Carlos Carassco and Kyle Drabek (AA) may still be possibilities to fill the hole left by Brett Myers.  Going outside the organization to get an experienced arm would be much better, but there are still very few pitchers available.  We shall see…

Mike Cervenak (photo) is doing very well after suffering a broken wrist last month; he was 2 for 5 in the game and is batting .313.  Mike Spidale (OF) led the pack with 3 hits and is batting .353; and Lou Marson (C) has been doing better of late – he had 2 hits and 2 RBI last night. 

Here is a PHOTO ALBUM from the Iron Pigs game, including shots from the fireworks show afterwards and even a 3-D fireworks shot!  I held the camera up to the 3-D glasses and it actually worked…check it out!

Up Next

The Phillies have the day off tomorrow to travel to Atlanta for a 3 game series before returning home on July 3rd to face the Mets.  Joe Blanton will pitch on Tuesday; game time is 7:00pm.

VOTE

The clock is ticking…please keep VOTING for your Phillies All-Stars!  VOTE up to 25 times per day, per email address!  Voting ends at 11:59 PM ET on Thursday, July 2, 2009.

Photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*