Everyone entered the ballpark on Sunday worried about a wash out. Huge, violent storms were predicted to start close to game time. But instead of rainstorms, the Phillies provided thunder with their bats in the final game against the Brewers.
It was another Retro Night at the ballpark, so the Phillies wore 1970’s uniforms. They also brought Mike Schmidt and Greg “The Bull” Luzinski to toss first pitched in honor of the 70’s. And of course, no 70’s revival is complete with the streaking Phanatic.
Aaron Nola started the game and, despite getting into some rough spots, he pitched very well. Nola did not allow a run over 6 innings, striking out 9 Brewers. The defense pitched in, as well, to keep runs off the board.
And then the Phillies bats suddenly came to life. Odubel Herrera had his 4th 4-hit game of his career. The only Phillies position player without a hit was Freddy Galvis, but he did collect an RBI on a sacrifice.
In the 5th inning, things really heated up. Tommy Joseph hit what appeared to be a 3-run homer, which was called back as a double due to fan interference. Here are the three idiots who nearly ruined a good inning, celebrating as they got tossed out:
For the record, real fans do not risk losing runs for their team just to snag a baseball. Rant over…
Luckily, newcomer Jimmy Paredes took over and hit a no-doubt-about-it 3-run homer. Not to be left out, Cameron Rupp smashed a solo shot right after that. The Phillies scored 5 runs in the inning, which is their highest total in an inning this year.
The Phillies went on to win the game easily by a score of 8-1. They were able to split the 4-game series with the Brewers, which is great considering how sluggish this offense has been lately.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri
Today, with the bases loaded, 2 outs and Ryan “Steroids” Braun at the plate, friggin’ Aaron “I hang ‘em, you bang ‘em” Harang gave up a grand slam home run. The Brewers were them up 0-6 by the 5th inning. And this is a perfect example of how bad Phillies pitching has been.
Sure, the Phillies had the best record in baseball coming out of the All-Star break up until about a week ago. Well, they have now returned to earth, mostly thanks to crapping pitching. After sweeping the Padres last weekend, the Phillies lost 2 of 3 to the Diamondbacks and will now get swept by the Brewers (they are losing 0-6 in the 7th as of the time I post this). Aaron Harang is a large part of the problem, with a 7.75 ERA in his last 7 games prior to today’s game.
But he is not the only one. Jerome Williams, although better his last few starts, still has a 6.00 ERA in his last 15 games. David Buchanan was finally sent down to the minors with a 9.00 ERA, also in his last 15 games. After allowing 25 earned runs in 3 games, I am not even sure he belongs in the minors; perhaps bagging groceries is in his future? Rounding out the starting pitching nightmare are Aaron Nola and Adam Morgan, who have been okay, as far as rookies go.
A few guys in the bullpen look awful as well. Justin DeFratus is pitching himself back to the minors with an 8.68 ERA in 7 games. Adam Loewen has a 15.43 ERA in his first two appearances for the Phillies, prior to today. Luckily, the rest of the pen has been ok, but with all the starters leaving games early, that may change due to exhaustion. And while the offense is still racking up hits, they are suddenly having trouble scoring those runners. The bad starting pitching has put more stress on the hitters and they are shrinking under the pressure, which is not unusual for a young team.
But what really has me stressed out is the impending departure of my favorite player, Chase Utley. Nothing is certain yet, but it does look like a lot of teams are bidding on him since he cleared waivers. Since coming off the disabled list, Utley is batting .500 with 5 doubles, a homer and 5 RBI in 26 at-bats, proving he is healthy again and upping his trade value. Sure, trading him is the right thing to do so he will have a shot at another championship, but it doesn’t make it suck any less. I have been admiring Utley for 13 years; this team will not be the same without him. But for now, he is still here…stayed tuned!
The Phillies are off on Monday and then play two games against the Blue Jays starting on Tuesday. Game time is 7:05pm.
The Phillies finally squeaked out a win against the Braves yesterday. Whew! But that 1-0 win was not the only oddity of the week.
For starters, the Phillies lost by the exact same score the night before. Cliff Lee pitched a gem and the Phils could not bother to score a single run. Ugh. Here are a few other weird notes from the week:
– A.J. Burnett, Thursday’s winning pitcher, claims that his newly formed hernia is helping him pitch better. Maybe the offense should start straining themselves to achieve a similar injury and then they can score more than 1 run per game? Genius!
– Speaking of genius, Jonathan Papelbon does not see pitch velocity as an issue. Granted, he has been much better of late. But really? Can I pitch then? I can probably hit around 60mph on the gun and since speed does not matter, I should do just fine against major league hitters. Put me in, coach!
– In other Pap news, Crossing Broad had reported that the Phillies closer not only went off verbally on the media about his velocity, but that he actually aimed a fart in their direction. Monty Python, Holy Grail fans are loving this (”I fart in your general direction!”) If you have never seen this move, I highly recommend it.
– In the same article, Crossing Broad also claims that Cliff Lee belched at the media. It seems there is a lot of hot air in the Phillies locker room.
– It looks like whoever yells the loudest really does win. Because after Brewers manager Ron Roenicke complained that Logan Schafer’s 8th inning at-bat on 4/9/14 was not scored a hit, MLB overturned the error originally given to Ryan Howard. Wow.
– And while this is not Phillies news, I am sure all Phillies fans will enjoy it. The new book, Yes, It’s Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots, reveals that the Secret Service actually threatened to kill Mr. Met, the Mets bulbous-headed mascot. Seriously. That may be the best story ever in the history of baseball. You will have to read the excerpt to believe it.
The Phillies start a 10 game West Coast road trip tonight against the Rockies. Game time is 8:40pm.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
These are the things that dreams nightmares are made of. This Phillies – Brewers series has thus far been a horror show of epic proportions. I awoke at 3am yelling, “How do you miss a routine ground ball?” I thought, whew, just a bad dream. And then I remembered, it wasn’t just a dream.
This does beg the question, how does a veteran major league player miss a routine ground ball? Sure, no one is perfect, stuff happens, etc… But this “stuff” is happening at an alarming rate. The Phillies have 5 errors in 2 games and that doesn’t include the many, many other mistakes made that do not have a place to be recorded in the box score.
For instance, a pitcher gets ahead of batter with a 0-2 count. He then proceeds to walk the guy. How does that happen? Just ask Antonio Bastardo. Even the Boogeyman, who spends weeks or months hiding under beds, has had better days.
Just as scary, both Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, two of the more veteran guys and biggest salaries on the team, both booted bouncing ground balls yesterday. But how often does a ground ball take a weird hop? Answer: All the time! A major league player should be able to handle this.
As I write this, I realize it is very early in the season and all that. Still, even this small handful of games is telling of a larger issue. Even manager Ryne Sandberg admits, “We talk about some of the plays being routine, but we haven’t been making too many of the routine plays lately.” So, why is that?
Sandberg preaches fundamentals and fielding practice. All of that is nice, but a guy who has been a professional baseball player for many years knows fundamentals. The issue is focus and execution. Why have these veteran players lost their focus, which then leads to a lack of execution? Are their pockets so heavy now that they lack incentive to concentrate? I think that is a fair question.
There are exceptions, of course. When Ben Revere smashed his face into the wall on Tuesday and dropped a fly ball, he did not show a lack of effort. He looked towards the fence for a second and lost the ball. I never see a lack of effort from Revere, as was witnessed during two diving attempts in Wednesday’s game, one of which was a spectacular, highlight reel catch. He dropped the second one, but clearly put forth maximum effort and focus.
This doesn’t mean other guys aren’t trying. They just do not try as hard and are not as invested in each individual play. In short, they are a bit too laid back. This is a big problem.
Think about your own job. There are days you give full effort and other days where you do not feel like doing much. If you work in an office, this probably doesn’t hurt anyone. But if you have a job where other people depend on you, this is a recipe for disaster. If I am a surgeon performing my fourth surgery of the day and I feel a bit tired and do just enough to get by with patient #4, bad things can happen.
Baseball is not brain surgery, obviously. But one person’s actions can affect their teammates and the outcome of the game. If someone wants to pay me millions of dollars to file papers in an office, you can be assured I am going to be the best, most organized filing machine that ever lived. And it won’t even matter if anyone else is affected. I would be singularly motivated by just the fact that someone was willing to pay me top dollar for my services. I worry that not everyone on this Phillies team feels the same way. And no amount of practice is going to cure that problem.
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Do not make Ryan Braun angry. You won’t like him when he’s angry. The Phillies found that out the hard way during Tuesday’s 1-day delayed Home Opener. First it rained (Monday), then it poured (Braun).
The day must have been cursed from the start as Chase Utley was sent home with the flu before the game. But aside from that, the day started off so nice, who would have guessed it would turn into a massacre? The pre-game festivities, as always, were colorful:
Of course, for the umpteenth, the Navy parachuters jump was cancelled due to wind. I seriously do not know why the Phillies bother scheduling this every year. It almost never happens.
Instead, we got 2008 World Championship pitcher and current broadcaster, Jamie Moyer to toss the first pitch with his baseball idol, Steve Carlton looking on. He had a nice reunion with Carlos Ruiz as well:
And then the game started and it was all downhill from there. In his typical inconsistent behavior, Kyle Kendrick followed up a good 1st start with a horrible one on Tuesday. Adding insult to injury, he pitched against former Phillie Kyle Loshe and gave up the first 2 of Braun’s 3 home runs.
A former All-Star, Braun is actually best known for his steroid use and overall bad behavior. He got away with a positive test by blaming the Fed Ex man, who was then fired from his job after Braun’s adamant denials. But then Braun did finally get caught afterwards and was suspended 65 games. The number of people Braun hurt with his lies is what makes him, in my opinion, one of the worst offenders in baseball. It is also what prompted all of the boo’s and chants of “Cheater!” throughout the ballpark.
But those chants did nothing but fuel Braun’s fire to beat the Phils. He even killed a Phillies rally in the 2nd inning with a diving catch in right field that would have scored 2 runs.
All of the good plays were unfortunately overshadowed by 3 errors and some head scratching misreads in the outfield. The worst of the day was Ben Revere in deep center, who had the ball lined up to catch and then just missed it. The 3rd photo below is the most interesting as you can see Revere’s head and face smashed into the fence. That pretty much sums up the day:
That misplay put another run on the board for the Brewers. Then in the next inning, Braun hit his third homer of the day. He finished with 7 RBI and single-handedly crush the Phils. I seriously hope someone checked his urine after the game (insert your own sarcastic remarks here).
The 4-10 loss was a disappointment, to put it mildly. But today is another day and maybe the Phillies can bounce back with a strong start from Roberto Hernandez. Game time is 7:05pm.
Here is the full Photo Album from the Home Opener, including batting practice, pre-game festivities and more.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
After an abysmal road trip where the Phillies lost 7 out of 10 games, this team had to be relieved to be back in Philadelphia last night. They took an absolute beating from the Brewers, Twins and the Rockies. If you Google the meaning of “bad baseball,” this road trip should be used as an example.
But things looked a tad brighter after last night’s 5-4 walk-off win against the Nationals. John Lannan returned to the rotation after a knee injury and pitched well; Ryan Howard finally broke out of his home run drought; and Domonic Brown seems to be getting hot again. He even delivered the game-winning RBI single in the 9th.
Despite the win though, I simply cannot stop thinking about the awful road trip. In particular, I am greatly disturbed by the events that have taken place at and around third base and home plate lately. Most of these little disasters seem to revolve around veteran third-baseman Michael Young.
I hate to keep picking on Young, who seems like a very nice guy, and maybe some of this is not his fault at all. Did you notice that Young got thrown out at home plate THREE times in the last 6 games of the road trip? My question is, does he run home on his own or is Ryne Sandburg sending him? I understand being aggressive, but Young is one of the older and slower players on this team. This is not the guy you send on a close play.
I have begun leaning towards Sandburg’s lack of experience coaching third base as the issue, especially after last night. Because it appears he got Howard into a similar jam. He was sending Howard home and quickly changed his mind, signaling for Howard to stay at third. But his momentum was already heading home and Howard got tagged out at third. Sandburg is a Hall of Famer…I get that. So he should know that you cannot stop a moving train. Either make the decision quicker or take your chances that Howard will bowl over the catcher at home.
Then again, guys have been getting tossed out on the base paths all over the place all by themselves. Young also got thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double last Tuesday. He also had a bad fielding error and hit into 2 more double plays on this road trip.
None the new players Ruben Amaro Jr. brought in this year, including Michael Young, are holding up their end of the bargain. Delmon Young is hitting only .231; Mike Adams has a 4.13 ERA and cannot seem to pitch a clean inning; Ben Revere has started out super slow, although he is improving. And Revere is young so he has a lot to learn yet. Lannan has been ok, but the injury was a huge setback.
As for the returning Phillies, too many of them are hurt or under producing. I hate to be such a downer after a rare Phillies win, but this team is just so frustrating! Who are they? Are they going to get any better? Will some of these guys ever be healthy? Your guesses are all as good as mine.
Maybe another win tonight will improve my mood? Hope so!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
It is a very good thing that I already have a college degree. Because this Phillies season is giving me many compelling reasons to hate math, which is generally not a good thing where school is concerned. If I had to walk into a calculus class right now, I may run screaming from the room instead.
Call it a math hangover. Or just call it the 2013 Phillies season, which has been a statistical nightmare.
For example, let us discuss OBP. It is really too bad that the on-base percentage statistic does not include how many times a player wiped himself and others off the bases after getting on. If it did, Michael Young’s .355 OBP would not look so great. Young has hit into 13 double plays in 57 games. He has more double play balls than he has RBI’s (11) even though his .355 OBP leads all starters on the team. This is a frightening statistic.
Did you also know that Ryan Howard, making $20 million this year, has hit only 1 home run in his last 103 plate appearances? With 7 homers total on the year in 59 games, Howard is averaging 1 home run every 8.5 games. Say Howard plays 145 of 162 games this season; at this rate, he would end the year with 17 home runs. That means the Phillies are paying him $1.2 million dollars per home run. Ouch.
Erik Kratz has 8 home runs in 43 games, more than Howard. And now, he is on the disabled list after hurting his knee this weekend. So one of the guys picking up the slack is now gone. Not to mention, the Phillies are on their 3rd string catcher with Carlos Ruiz still out as well.
And how about Mike Adams, who was supposed to be the savior of the 8th inning for the Phillies? He has already been on the DL with back pain and is now suffering from a mystery bicep issue. Despite coming off surgery in the off-season for thoracic outlet syndrome, the Phillies still paid aging, injury-prone Adams $12 million for 2 years.
Adams has given up runs in 5 out of his last 7 appearances; that is a rate of 71%. His ERA has ballooned to 3.92. Plus, no one has any idea when or if he will be pitching again. He has pitched in only 23 of 64 games so far this season.
And here are a few random stats, just to add to the misery: 10 out of 16 position players on the roster have batting averages at or below .250; that is 63%. The team average is .247. Only 3 teams in the National League have a worse team ERA than the Phillies 4.15. And with 38 errors on the season, the team fielding percentage is .984.
There is plenty more disturbing data where this came from, but I must stop here before my head explodes. The Phils just got swept out by the Brewers so I think we have all been tortured enough for now.
Put down the calculator…no matter how hard you try to change it, this math adds up to a very bad season.
You could blame the Phillies pitching, stinky offense or the sloppy defense for last night’s 4-5 loss to the Brewers. Or you can join me in blaming the Twizzlers. I do believe that red devil candy somehow sucked the mojo right out of Cliff Lee. The fact that the evil licorice was handed to Lee by a young Brewers fan reinforces my theory:
Animation by The Fightins
Then again, a few other factors may have contributed to the end of the Phillies 5-game win streak. For example, the Phils scored 4 runs in the first 4 innings and then the offense proceeded to take a vacation. There were also 2 errors; a very bad throw from Freddy Galvis and a botched routine grounder my Michael Young.
And then there was Lee. 3 earned runs in 7 innings is generally a good day for most pitchers. But Lee has looked unstoppable in his previous 6 starts. That is what made last night’s labor-intensive outing where Lee walked 3 batters so shocking.
He was bound to have an off day at some point. No one can maintain that pace all season long.
But I still blame the candy.
The Phillies ended a 3-game losing streak today with a 7-5 win over the Brewers thanks to some key contributions. And although they nearly blew it in the end, those 7 runs, all scored in the first 2 innings, kept them in the game.
4 of those 7 runs were driven in by Domonic Brown, who is still on fire after a scorching month of May. He fell just a double shy of hitting for the cycle. He and Ryan Howard did their special home run dance after his 3-run homer in the 1st inning to celebrate:
And the hits kept coming…both Jimmy Rollins and Freddy Galvis collected 2 hits apiece. Erik Kratz and John Mayberry Jr. each drove in runs. The Phillies took a 7-0 lead all the way into the 8th inning.
On the mound, Cliff Lee performed his usual magic for 7 straight innings. He struck out 11 batters and appeared to be cruising until the 8th.
Dehydration set in and Lee started giving up hits. He wound up putting 3 runners on base before he was pulled in favor of Justin DeFratus. But even with 2 outs in the inning, DeFratus could not manage to escape unscathed. The Phillies gave up runs in the 8th inning in every game of this Brewers series and this day would be no different. After an almost grand slam that was overturned by replay, the Phils left the 8th inning with only a 7-4 lead.
In the 9th, Jonathan Papelbon was nowhere to be seen. He had apparently taken ill and was not available to pitch. Antonio Bastardo took the mound and allowed another Brewers run as the crowd began to panic. But he finally got out of the inning and the Phils walked away with the win despite the late-inning drama.
Prior to the game, Kyle Kendrick’s father was honored for the Phillies Father’s Day celebration. His very pregnant wife and daughter were there as well, which was really cute.
To see the rest of my photos from the game, check out this Photo Album.
The Phillies will start a 3-game series with the Marlins tomorrow night at 7:05pm. Kendrick will pitch.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies have made a few egg-head moves in the last week or so. First, they released utility infielder Yuniesky Betancourt, who will now reportedly sign with the Brewers. And now they have released pitcher Aaron Cook, who appeared to be a lock as the unofficial 6th starter in the Phillies rotation. Cook pitched in 6 spring training games, posting a 3.38 ERA over 18.2 innings.
Last year, Kyle Kendrick fit into this spot nicely, filling in when a starter was needed due to injury. But Kendrick is #4 in the rotation now. Cook performed well enough this spring to become the new Kendrick, but apparently a $100,000 bonus was too much for the Phillies to handle. So instead of paying him, Cook was sent packing.
Granted, Cook did not pitch well in the majors over the past several years. But neither did John Lannan, who coincidentally gave up 12 runs in his last 4 innings of work this spring. And Lannan is starter #5. Cook appeared to be improving and was the Phillies only veteran option to start a game in the event that a started gets injured.
The Phillies have now put all their eggs in one basket, filled with 5 starters, 2 of whom are on shaky ground. Lannan is an unknown at this point; he has not been consistent this spring. Even more frightening, Roy Halladay has been awful. Last season, he pitched injured, and the results certainly showed it. This spring, Halladay has been sick with a stomach virus, experienced a dead-arm, complained of fatigue and his velocity is way down.
If Halladay cannot get back to pitching like a major-leaguer, this team is in serious trouble. And with Cook’s release, the only option they have if Halladay goes down is to toss a minor league pitcher into the fire and hope he does not get burned. With the imminent arrival of the Easter Bunny this weekend and Opening Day on Monday, they had better hope their eggs do not start to crack.