Tagged: Brewers

Death By Twizzler: Cliff Lee Gets No Decision

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.

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Phils End Skid Behind Lee and Brown

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.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Putting All Their Eggs In One Basket

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.

 

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Phillies Put it All Together in Win Over Brewers

A rare event this year for the Phillies has been having all aspects of their game working together at the same time.  In an 8-0 win over the Brewers, the pitching, offense and defense all performed very well.

On the mound, Kyle Kendrick took one more positive step towards earning a spot in next year’s rotation.  He went 8 innings, allowing only 3 hits, 1 walk and no runs.  It was his second shut-out start in row.  As I have said before, we all knew Kendrick could pitch.  It was just a matter of seeing some consistency from him; and now, Kendrick appears to finally be on a roll.

The offense did not disappoint either, although it came from a few odd sources.  Michael Martinez, who is hitting only .153, came up with a huge 2-run homer in the 2nd inning to get the Phillies an early lead.  Both Domonic Brown and Kevin Fransden each had 3-hit nights, with Brown collecting 4 RBI.  It was a monster night for Brown who is trying to prove he belongs in the Bigs.

Fransden is opening many eyes with both his offense and his play at 3rd base.  Fransden is really a middle-infielder, but he has adapted very well to the hot corner and has the arm to handle it.  If he continues to improve, the Phillies may have themselves either a very cheap 3rd base option for 2013 or a solid utility guy.

And finally, in the win last night, the Phillies actually got through a whole game without committing an error!  Hooray!  Michael Schwimer pitching in the 9th was as close to an error as they got.  Schwimer loaded the bases before finally recording all 3 outs and keeping the shut-out intact.

The Phillies return home to begin a series with the Reds tonight at 7:05pm.  Roy Halladay will pitch and try to notch 3 wins in a row for the Phils!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hamels Halts Phillies Losing Skid

Not much has gone right for the Phillies this year.  But at least we know that when Cole Hamels takes the mound, they at least have a shot at a win.  After dropping 3 straight, the Phillies collected a win last night over the Brewers, thanks in large part to Hamels.

Hamels cruised through 7 2/3 innings allowing only 1 run until 1 bad pitch in the 8th ran him out of the game.  The Ryan Braun 2-run homer was 1 of 4 home runs Braun has hit in this series…so far.  I am sure Braun, who was said to be in a slump prior to this series, was thrilled to see the Phillies come to town.  And just think, he may not be done yet.

Despite that annoyance, Hamels had a very solid game.  The 4-3 win was nailed down by closer Jonathan Papelbon, who got 4 outs to seal the deal.  Manager Charlie Manuel was criticized for not using Papelbon in a similar situation on Thursday night.  On Saturday, he did not make the same mistake again.

The Brewers had a couple base running blunders, which helped the Phillies out.  One guy got caught in a rundown and another did something a bit unusual.  With 2 outs in the third, Braun again smashed what should have been a double to deep left field.  But Jonathan Lucroy, who was on first base, missed second base and then stood like a deer in headlights instead of stepping on the base and continuing to run.  By the time Braun reached second, all he could do was throw his hands in the air at Lucroy who was still there, looking dazed.  Braun was out; inning over.  Oops.

As for the Phillies offense, John Mayberry Jr. knocked a 2-run homer in the 2nd, followed by a solo shot from Erik KratzRyan Howard doubled in the 3rd to give the Phils the go-ahead run.

The Phils get one more shot at the Brewers this afternoon.  And they will also get another look at wannabe starter Kyle Kendrick.  Can he repeat his last performance of 7 shut-out innings against the Marlins last week?  Game time is 2:10pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Bullpen Bombs Again

It is difficult to imagine what must be going through Cliff Lee’s head these days.  He has had his ups and downs, but certainly has pitched better than just the 2 wins on his record indicate.  Last night, he had a quality start against the Brewers, allowing 3 runs in 7 2/3 innings.

But that good start was quickly wiped away in the Phillies cursed 8th inning.  And once again, it was a bullpen guy doing the damage.  You can see the reasoning behind why Lee was pulled with Ryan Braun coming up; Braun had already tagged Lee for 2 homers in this game.  But with the bullpen performing like it has, maybe taking the chance on Lee was a better decision.

That did turn out to be the case as the game was blown wide open for the Brewers thanks to reliever Josh Lindblom, who was acquired from the Dodgers in the Shane Victorino trade.  Lindblom walked the bases loaded and then gave up a grand slam to wipe away the Phillies 4-3 lead and turn it into a 7-4 loss.

And with that turn of events, I think Lindblom has earned himself a new nickname: How do you feel about LindBUM?  Or even better, LindBOMB.  There you go.  LindBOMB has a nice ring to it…and bomb, he did.  In a big way.  Since coming to the Phillies, LindBOMB is 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA.  Ouch.

Nothing personal against the guy; after all, most of the bullpen has sucked all year long.  His name just happens to more easily lend itself to a little joke ;o)  And we could all use a little humor right about now.

The real shame of it was that after being down 3-1, the Phillies battled back and score 3 runs in the 5th on a bases-clearing double from Kevin Fransden.  Oddly enough, it was Fransden’s throwing error in the 8th that caused Lee to be pulled from the game.

So the downtrodden Phils will again try to beat the Brewers this evening at 8:10pm.  Vance Worley will pitch.  Hopefully, he can pick this team up…they need a lift in a big way.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Puzzling Predicament of the Phillies 8th Inning

Why no one on the Phillies staff can seem to pitch well in the 8th inning is an on-going and unsolved mystery.   And in last night’s appalling 9-2 loss to the Marlins, this baffling problem was magnified once again.

No one pitched particularly well yesterday, not even Roy Halladay.  He was not bad, obviously, but while 3 runs in 7 innings is great for most guys, it is slightly sub-par for a guy of Halladay’s pedigree.  Still, the offense gave him no support except for 2 RBI from Ty Wigginton, one of which was a solo homer.

But as soon as the Phillies approached that irritating 8th inning, all heck broke loose.  B.J. Rosenburg walked the first batter and then allowed 2 straight singles.  He has been terrible and his 12.79 ERA is screaming, “Send me back to the minors!”  Raul Valdes got an out and then intentionally walked a guy as he was told to before being pulled.  That walk eventually counted against his, which really is not right.  He did his job.

And then the real fun began when Michael Schwimer took over and balls started flying all over the ballpark.  By the time it was finally over, the Marlins had scored 6 runs in one inning.

So what is the deal with the 8th inning and this team?  Look at the chart to the right; the Phillies have a 5.38 ERA in the dreaded 8th inning.  By far, this is where the poorest pitching occurs.  The only thing worse is when they go into extra innings.

This is a clear indication that the Phillies bullpen needs a complete overhaul, but we already knew that.  The frustrating part is that it does not seem to matter who they put in there in the 8th.  It is some weird curse now; pitch in the 8th, get knocked around, end of story.

And while this issue is on-going, something even worse happened in this game.  Jimmy Rollins was clearly not interested in playing last night, and I am apparently not the only one who noticed.  His lack of hustle was blatant and obvious in several situations.  A fan who called him out on Twitter asking him to run out the play because, “youngsters are watching you.”  Rollins responded with, “well u make sure u tell them what to do.”  Oh my.

Clearly, this Phillies season has been fun for no one.  But as fans, we still expect a level of professionalism and effort regardless of the standings.  No one wants to pay to see a bunch of guys making millions of dollars taking their good fortune for granted.  And this is not the 1st time we have seen this attitude from Rollins, which only magnifies the situation.

This is indeed a sad state of affairs all around.  It is really unfortunate as well that these problems have now overshadowed the fact that the Phillies have won 2 series in a row, despite yesterday’s ugly loss.

The Brewers are up next: Game time tonight is 8:10pm.

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