The Phillies win streak has ended at 4 games after an awful 6-1 loss to the Braves in Atlanta last night. After a lead-off single from Jimmy Rollins in the 1st inning, the Phillies scored their only run of the game. It all went downhill from there.
Pitcher Cole Hamels had one of the worst starts of his career immediately after signing a huge $144 million contract. He walked a career high 6 batters, 3 of which came in the 2nd inning and led to 2 runs for the Braves.
Of course, those 2 runs could have been avoided if Mike Fontenot had not made a gigantic error at 3rd base. He missed a routine ground ball that would have ended the inning without a run scored. Third base has been a total nightmare for the Phillies with Placido Polanco’s constant back issues over the past 2 seasons. Polly is on the DL again and neither Fontenot nor Ty Wigginton are able to handle the hot corner. 20% off all Phillies errors this year have happened at 3rd base.
The Phillies have had many 3rd base troubles over the years since after Scott Rolen departed. Think about this: David Bell, Pedro Feliz and Polanco. What do they all have in common? You guessed it…back problems. And if next year the Phillies decide to try Freddy Galvis at 3rd, he and his back fracture will fit right in:
So the troubles at 3rd continue as do the trouble with playing error-free baseball, starting pitching woes and a sluggish offense. The other problem the Phillies are facing? How about Brian McCann. This guy is a 1-man Phillies wrecking crew.
In 6 games against the Phillies just this year, McCann has hit a home run in EVERY single game, including 1 grand slam. He has 16 RBI against the Phillies in 2012…so far. So my question then is, why are the Phillies still pitching to this guy? Walk him! Hit him with a pitch! Throw darts at him! I don’t care…just please stop pitching to the guy!
Tune in tonight at 7:10pm to see if the McCann curse continues…ugh.
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Phillies photos by Jenn Zambri Photography; McCann photo courtesy of MLB.com
The Phillies were swept by the Braves today in a depressing 4-3 loss. There was not even a little comic relief, as in Saturday’s loss when Hunter Pence bowled over 3rd base coach Juan Samuel while rounding the bases towards home. That bit had everyone except Samuel laughing to the point of tears.
The only laughs today came before the game started:
After that, absolutely nothing was funny. Even the presentation of All-Star jersey’s to Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Papelbon and Cole Hamels was somehow lacking in enthusiasm.
And then fans learned that Shane Victorino was pulled from the line-up at the last moment, prompting rumors of a possible trade or injury. But what actually happened, according to Charlie Manuel, was that Shane was feeling “down” and had “a lot on his mind…” And so, Charlie took him out in favor of Jason Pridie.
That turned out to be the only good move of the day. Pridie hit a 2-run homer and a double, which accounted for all 3 Phillies runs in the game.
Vance Worley battled through 6 innings, allowing 3 runs, which was a nice improvement over his last start where he have up 6 runs in 4 innings. But despite the quality start, not much was going the way of the Phillies.
There were some nice defensive plays:
But the offense was lackluster, despite having both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the line-up. The top 4 in the line-up went 1-for-16 collectively, although Jimmy Rollins did go 3-for-3 in pop-fly outs. I am not sure that is a stat to be proud of, but at least he is consistent (note my sarcasm, in case you missed it).
Ultimately, Raul Valdes gave up a solo homer to who else, but Brian McCann, giving the Braves a 1-run lead that the Phillies failed to overcome.
So the Braves had a nice visit to Philly, complete with attempts to steal young Phillies fans. Here is ex-Phil Chad Durbin and Dan Uggla before the game playing nice with one of the kids chosen for the traditional Sunday Starting 9:
Actually, it was very sweet. But Durbin was always that kind of guy; his presence is still missed on this ballclub.
So the Phillies go into the All-Star break in the midst of a complete disaster. They have won only 1 of their last 12 games and sit in dead last in the NL East, 14 games out of first. Get ready fans; I am afraid change is coming, and not the good kind.
For a pleasant distraction, check out my Photo Album from the game; just pretend they win and the photos look even better!
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
We all waited through 84 dreadful games to finally see the Phillies line-up back together again. Chase Utley came back and now, Ryan Howard is back. But game #85 with Howard, Utley and the old gang together was fun for about 2 or 3 innings. And then, reality set in.
Howard started off his 2012 season with a monster double to center field. Cheer rang out among fans excited to see the big man back again. But by the 3rd inning, we all began to wonder why the offense was still not getting it done.
The Phillies sprinkled 5 hits here and there, two of which were from Howard. The Braves did not have many hits either as Kyle Kendrick finally found his groove after his last regular start spot in the rotation was pushed back a few days. Maybe getting skipped finally gave Kendrick the incentive he needed to step up his game.
And he did just that; Kendrick was great through 7 innings. He allowed only 4 hits and did not give up a single run, even after getting into a tight spot in the 7th inning. But he did not get any run support from his teammates and then was pulled in the 8th in favor of Antonio Bastardo.
Bastardo was awful; he had no command and walked 3 batters, even walking a run home with the bases loaded and 2 outs. If I was managing this team, I’d have pulled him after the first 2 batters based on the season he has had so far and his obvious lack of control at that moment. But you know Charlie Manuel; he is going to stick with “his guy” until he gives up 5 runs, including a grand slam to Brian McCann.
And this exactly what happened. I am so tired of people going on about “roles” in the bullpen. This is my 8th inning guy, this is my middle-relief guy, etc… Because in the same breath, they will tell you that these guys are only human, not robots. That is correct. However, it totally contradicts the theory of bullpen roles.
If they are in fact human, then they are prone to having good days and bad days. If a guy is having a bad day, like Bastardo, then you use someone else, regardless of their “role!” Not to do so is counterproductive, detrimental to your team and gives the impression that the 8th inning guy (or whatever-inning guy) HAS to be a robot in order to succeed. And yet you have just stated he is NOT a robot. See my frustration with this?
Human beings are NOT made of metal; they are flexible. And as such, they should be flexible in their “roles.” Charlie also loves to talk about showing confidence in “his guys.” Well how much confidence do you think Bastardo has now after that disastrous outing?
Sometimes, you need to step in and save someone from themselves. Tell him, “Today is not your day. You’ll get them the next time.” That disappointment HAS to be better than the one that comes with allowing 5 runs in the 8th inning of a previously scoreless game, followed by getting chewed out on the bench by your pitching coach in front of everyone.
I have a lot of respect for Manuel and the way he manages. When things are going good, his style works very, very well. You can afford to let a guy go a little further. But when times are bad, like they are now, you have to adapt. And in my humble opinion, that is the part he is getting wrong right now. And this team, 13 games back in the NL East, cannot afford ANY wrong moves.
I still love ya, Charlie. But seriously, do “your guys” a favor and show some tough love. This team needs a swift kick in the rear, on all sides of the ball. And now we can only pray that it is not already too late.
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Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
If someone had told me that by the end of June this season, Carlos Ruiz would be leading all of baseball in batting average, I may have checked to see if that person was running a fever. Chooch has always been a good player; but he has never been .361 with 10 home runs-good. The 10 homers, including one in last night’s 5-4 win over the Pirates, is a career high. And it is only June…
So yes, Chooch leads everyone in batting average with .361. That is better than past MVP’s Joey Votto and Josh Hamilton. Ruiz has also outhit fellow catchers and All-Star voting leaders Yadier Molina and Brian McCann. Soooooo….VOTE FOR CHOOCH! We have until Thursday to get him to the All-Star game!
But even if that fails, manager Charlie Manuel told reporters yesterday that he plans on calling Tony La Russa, the NL All-Star team manager, to plead the case for Chooch. Manuel always sticks up for his players, but especially in this case, Ruiz really deserves the honor.
Chooch put his stamp all over last night’s win. He went 3-for-4 with a homer and 2 RBI. And while catching, Ruiz saved two runs from scoring by blocking the plate and tagging out the runners.
The biggest of those plays came in the 7th inning after starter Vance Worley got into a real jam. With no outs, 2 runners on base and 1 run already across, Worley was removed and rookie Michael Schwimer took over. Schwimer coaxed a ground out and then a short fly ball to left. One the fly ball, John Mayberry Jr. made a great throw home, which Ruiz caught and tagged the runner for an inning-ending double play.
That play kept the Phillies lead intact and Chooch’s subsequent homer added to that lead. The home run he hit in the 8th turned out to be a game saver as closer Jonathan Papelbon struggled in the 9th, allowing a solo homer. But the Ruiz blast made the difference in the 5-4 win.
The Phillies have now won 2 of the first 4 games against the Pirates, which is great news; because tonight’s 7:05pm game is going to be started and finished by the Phillies bullpen. The rainout on Friday forced a juggling of the pitching staff, leaving them 1 starter short this week. So Raul Valdes will start the game and likely pitch 3 innings, passing the ball on to the rest of the pen after that.
And while you are watching the game, do not forget to VOTE FOR CHOOCH!
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The National League entered today’s All-Star Game not having won against the American League since 1996. That win took place in Philadelphia. Manager Charlie Manuel and the Phillies coaching staff had a huge task on their hands for the second consecutive year, trying to win World Series home field advantage for the NL.
Two Phillies took part in the game today; Chase Utley stayed home as he is recovering from surgery on his thumb. Ryan Howard served as the DH and went 0 for 2; but hits were difficult to come by in this game. Through 6 innings, the both teams had only 4 hits each. Two of the hits for the AL came off Phillie Roy Halladay, although one hit was a pop-up that landed in the middle of nowhere and ex-Phillie Marlon Byrd could not quite get to it.
The AL struck first in the 5th as Dodger’s pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo allowed an unearned run after a costly error where he overthrew 1st base on an easy grounder. He had already walked a batter, then the error gave the AL two runners and a sac fly scored Evan Longoria.
But the NL fought back in the 7th. Another ex-Phillie, Scott Rolen, singled followed by a Matt Holliday single. Rolen’s aggressive base running put him on third base. Byrd walked with 2 outs and then Braves catcher, Brian McCann, hit a bases-clearing double to give the NL the lead. Two runs were charged to Yankee Phil Hughes and another to White Sox Matt Thornton.
In the bottom of the 7th, Holliday took a bad route to a ball in left and it went off his glove, giving Blue Jay John Buck a double instead of an out. Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals was pitching but Holliday could not help out his teammate. Shane Victorino could have caught that ball from either left or center…just saying ;o)
So it would come down to the 9th inning. The NL did not score and Manuel brought in another Dodger, Jonathan Broxton, to try and nail down the save and the win for the NL. Broxton gave up a hit right away to the Home Run Derby champ, David Ortiz. He struck out the next batter but gave up a single to Buck. However, with Big Papi Ortiz running, Byrd was able to throw him out at second from right field. That was an amazing, heads-up play by Byrd! The next batter flew out and the National League won it!! FINALLY! A win for the NL! Way to go, Charlie! Now, let see if the Phillies can actually use the home field advantage this year; that, of course, would require a third straight trip to the World Series. Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
But to Wainwright’s credit, he worked out of the inning without allowing a run. Whew! So the NL went into the 8th inning with a 3-1 lead. The NL did not score in the 8th and Giants closer, Brian Wilson, erased the AL batters in the bottom of the inning. Personally, I think the mohawk is his secret weapon.
So it would come down to the 9th inning. The NL did not score and Manuel brought in another Dodger, Jonathan Broxton, to try and nail down the save and the win for the NL. Broxton gave up a hit right away to the Home Run Derby champ, David Ortiz. He struck out the next batter but gave up a single to Buck. However, with Big Papi Ortiz running, Byrd was able to throw him out at second from right field. That was an amazing, heads-up play by Byrd!
The next batter flew out and the National League won it!! FINALLY! A win for the NL! Way to go, Charlie! Now, let see if the Phillies can actually use the home field advantage this year; that, of course, would require a third straight trip to the World Series.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
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?
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!
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.
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
For a change, the Phillies got a great outing from a starting pitcher; JA Happ went 7 innings and only allowed 2 runs. However, Ryan Madson, who has been nothing short of awful lately, was still sent out to pitch the 8th inning, despite his troubles. Madson gave up 3 runs and threw away any possibility of a win for the Phillies. Madson has made a habit out of blowing games in the past month and manager Charlie Manuel is doing him no favors by continuing to put him on the mound. Clearly, Madson has issues to straighten out and during tight games is not the time for him to “work” on his pitches. Manuel cannot keep putting the same guys out there and expect different results; especially when the team is on the verge of being swept and coming off a horrible road trip.
Well, they got swept alright, and it was ugly. Not only that, but as I predicted, they are now nearly out of 1st place (tied with Marlins) and quickly plummeting down the ranks of the NL East. Manuel needs to deal with the players that are not producing and dealing with them should not include putting blind faith in players when things have gotten this bad.
Jimmy Rollins did attempt to turn his season around tonight; he went 2 for 4, but it was all for nothing. The entire game, the entire road trip, has been an exercise in futility as the Phillies cannot seem to win a game. The only real entertainment tonight was watching Chase Utley impersonate a charging bull, as he slammed into the Braves catcher, Brian McCann, to score the first of only 2 runs for the team on the day. Greg Dobbs had a nice day as well, but again, it did not matter.
The Phillies struggled in the first half of last season, and they still won the World Series. However, the struggles this year are a completely different animal. Mental errors, lapses in judgment and very bad pitching have thrown 2009 into a much different level of awful. It is officially time to be worried, Phillies fans. This team has let a potentially big lead in the division wander on by and now, nothing is going right.
Raul Ibanez was supposed to play in a rehab game yesterday in Reading, but the start was pushed back to today. Then, today’s appearance was pushed back as well… Is this reason for concern or are the Phillies just playing it really safe? Ibanez has been sorely missed in the line-up and everyone is anxious to get him back. Of course, the Phillies need him back healthy. And so we wait…
One Last Time – Vote!
Only a few hours left! Please ignore how bad this team has gotten and keep VOTING for your Phillies All-Stars! (I need something to look forward to) VOTE up to 25 times. Voting ends at 11:59 PM ET tonight! Utley & Ibanez should be locks for a spot, but Howard, Victorino and Rollins are still teetering on the brink…so, keep on voting!
Utley Photo by Jenn