Tagged: Cardinals

Home Field Clinched Despite Another Loss

Even though they lost 4-3 to the Cardinals on Monday night, the Phillies still managed to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs thanks to the Braves losing to the Cubs.  This team is so good, it seems they can literally do nothing and succeed.

However, this series with the Cardinals also showed that the Phillies have some work to do on offense.  They clinched the NL East title against the Cards, but lost the other three games.  On Monday night, Roy Halladay did not have his best stuff and the Phillies bats did nothing to help him out.

Halladay wound up spotting the Cards two runs in the first inning as his pitch location was off.  He gave up two more runs for four total over eight innings.  Halladay also walked four batters, which is unusual for the potential Cy-Young candidate.

While it was not Roy’s day, it was not a good day for the bats either.  The Phillies only run through eight innings was basically handed to them after a Cardinals error.  They left the bases loaded with less than two outs…again.  In total, 10 men were left on base.

The Phillies attempted a rally in the 9th inning, which was nice to see, but they still fell short.  A double from Carlos Ruiz followed by a triple from Jimmy Rollins led to two more runs.  The triple was the 100th of Rollins’ career. 

But the rally ended after Hunter Pence grounded out with Chase Utley on first.  The fact that the team did not give up until the final out was refreshing, but there are still some lingering questions about this offense being unable to score with runners on base.

Ryan Howard is out of the line-up, probably for most of the week after getting a cortisone shot in his ankle.  Shutting him down now instead of in the playoffs is wise.  Hopefully, he come back rested and feeling better after dealing with bursitis in his foot and ankle all year.

Howard’s return should be a boost for the offense, but the Phillies really have nothing left to play for.  The division is wrapped up, home field is wrapped up and they have 10 games to go.  However, it would be nice to see them win 100 games and even better if they can break the franchise record of 101 wins in a season, set in 1976 & 1977.

The Phillies could reach 100 games today with wins over the Nationals in the doubleheader.  Game 1 begins at 1:05pm.

Happy Hangover Hampers Hamels & Phils

After Saturday night’s NL East title celebration, both the Phillies and the fans came out a little sluggish on Sunday against the Cardinals.  The crowd was quiet and so were the Phillies bats.  After the late night champagne shower, everyone looked a little hung over.

A few bad pitches from Cole Hamels put the Phillies into an early 2-0 hole when Albert Pujols smacked a 2-run homer in the first inning.  Hamels seemed to bounce back quickly after that, but the offense did nothing to help him.  Then in the sixth inning, Hamels gave up another 2-run homer.

With only eight hits in the game, all of them singles, the Phillies did not have too many opportunities to score.  But the few times they did have runners on base, they hit into double plays.  Hunter Pence, Raul Ibanez and Ross Gload all hit into double plays, ending any possible offensive threat.

Three of the Phillies’ eight hits came off the bat of Chase Utley, which was one positive in the game.  Utley has struggled to find his swing again since getting hit in the head with a pitch.  That sort of shot would scramble anyone’s brain.  But it appears that Utley has found all his marbles and got his timing back at the plate.
 

Down 4-0, the Cardinals padded their lead in the eighth with a solo shot off pitcher Joe Blanton.  It was Blanton’s second appearance since coming off the DL and one he is sure to want to forget.

On the other hand, Justin DeFratus made his major league debut which was almost spoiled by Lance Berkman.  DeFratus’ first pitch was destroyed by Berkman, but the ball landed in Shane Victorino’s glove inches from the center field fence.  DeFratus managed to escape the inning without allowing a hit.

Slightly more exciting than the actual game was batting practice, where I spotted all of the newest members of the Phillies:

And even more exciting than that was the community mural painting which I participated in.  The new Phillies Mural will be eight stories high, facing the Schuylkill River.  It should be done by next summer.  In the meantime, the Phillies are allowing fans to help paint with large chunks of the mural drawn out in pencil like a paint-by-number.  Here I am painting part of the Phanatic:

Game 4 with the Cardinals starts tonight at 7:05pm.  And here is the full Photo Album from the game, including pre-game ceremonies.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Phillies Clinch 5th Straight NL East Title

For the 5th straight year, the Phillies are National League East Champs!  A 9-2 win over the Cardinals sealed the division.

The winning pitcher was Roy Oswalt who did not allow a single run through seven innings.  Oswalt seems to finally have his mojo back after suffering a good part of the year with back issues.  But tonight, he was spot-on.

The celebration began a little bit early in the eighth inning.  Going into the eighth, the Phillies were in a tight 3-2 game.  But Raul Ibanez rode in like a knight on a white horse, blowing the game wide open when he smashed a grand slam.  The crowd exploded and the party carried right through to the end of the game.

Although it was not a save situation, Ryan Madson was given the 9th inning, which was fitting.  After going through four closers this year due to injuries, Madson has established himself as the go-to guy.  He deserved to be on the mound to close out the game.

Chase Utley made the final play with a little bit of flash as he barehanded a hopping grounder and tossed to first.  For a guy who is normally all grit and no glitter, it was fun to see him add a bit of style to the final out.

To kick off the champagne celebration, the Phillies gathered around Hunter Pence.  He looked like he was the monkey in the middle as the team started popping the corks, dousing Pence in the process.

 

Clinching the title early means more rest for guys who have been nursing injuries like Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco.  But there are still games to be played and home field advantage up for grabs.  Look for the Phillies to keep trying to win games, starting tomorrow night at 8:05pm.  Cole Hamels will pitch.

I will return with photos.  See you there!

 

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Head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Extra-Inning Bummer as Phillies Wait to Clinch

Against the Cardinals, Phillies rookie pitcher Vance Worley had another adventurous, yet effective, outing.  Through 6 innings, the Vanimal allowed one run on six hits and three walks.  The run was issued on a bases loaded walk.  Worley seems to have a knack for allowing base runners which elevates his pitch count.  He gets out of the jams, but cannot go deep into games as a result.

But Worley limited the damage, giving the Phillies a chance.  The offense however, took that chance and sat on it.  This turned out to be the 8th straight game where the Phillies scored three runs or less.

Once again, one of the few Phillies in the line-up able to hit was John Mayberry Jr. who went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI.  In the field, Mayberry was not so sharp, bobbling or missing three balls at first base.  He was charged with one official error, although none of the goofs really hurt the team.

What actually hurt the team was the lack of hitting, which also resulted in extra innings.  The first four hitters in the line-up combined to go 0-for-18 through 11 innings.  As a team, the Phillies tallied only seven hits, left the bases loaded with one out and left eight men on base.

Losing 2-1, the Phillies tied the game up in the 9th.  After a Ryan Howard pinch-hit double, Carlos Ruiz sent a fly ball to right, which was dropped by the fielder.  But then in the 11th, the 2-2 tie was broken after rookie pitcher Michael Schwimer allowed two runs, giving the Cards a 4-2 lead.  So yesterday Schwimer got his first major league win and today, his first loss.  His ERA has ballooned to 4.82.
 

In the bottom of the 11th, the Phillies got a single from Placido Polanco, but did nothing else.  John Bowker, who is now 0-7 as a Phillie, made the final out for the 4-2 loss.

The offense, which was cooking earlier this month, has suddenly stalled.  The good news is that the Mets are currently spanking the Braves by a score of 11-2 in the 8th inning.  If that score holds, the Phillies need only one game to clinch the NL East.

Division Magic # – 2 games (at time of posting)

Home Field Advantage Magic # – 4  games

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

More Injuries & a Blow-Out Loss

This has not been a good couple of days in the injury department for the Phillies.  Here is a quick look at the damage:

Jose Contreras was placed on the disabled list for the second time this season with elbow inflammation.  Lefty Juan Perez was called-up from the Triple-A Iron Pigs to take his roster spot.  Perez played for the Pirates in 2006 & 2007 for a short time, but has spent most of his seven-year career in the minors.

– The Phillie Phanatic suffered an injury as well.  While entertaining atop the first base dugout at an Iron Pigs game, the Phanatic was hit in the neck with a foul ball.  For the Phanatic’s best friend Tom Burgoyne, the neck area was actually Tom’s face.

The Phanatic went to the hospital; I am not sure whether they called a doctor, a veterinarian or an environmental biologist, but the Phanatic will not be joining Contreras on the DL.  He should be ready for the weekend series at CBP.

– And finally, Roy Oswalt was pulled from today’s game against the Cardinals after two innings where he allowed four runs.  After about one out in the second, Oswalt began teetering sideways off the mound after his delivery.  It got worse as the inning went on, where he began hopping and stumbling after pitches while grabbing his lower back.

Why no one else saw this is curious.  I was screaming at the TV, but sadly, no one heard me ;o)  Oswalt was left in to finish the inning and reports are that he has back spasms.

I suppose the spasms are no surprise; Oswalt has a history of back issues and has been on the DL once already this season with the same issue.  In his last four starts, Oswalt has allowed 15 runs in only 21.1 innings.

As for the new bullpen piece, Perez pitched the seventh and walked two batters, but did not allow a run.  Kyle Kendrick pitched the 3rd-6th innings and gave up two runs, adding to Oswalt’s four.

So with 6 runs, the Cardinals were ready to run away with the game as the Phillies offense was lulled to sleep.  It did matter too much though as Danys Baez put the game well out of reach for the Phillies in the 8th inning.  He walked in a run, gave up a 3-run homer and ended up with six earned runs handed over to the Cards.  You could say he added insult to all the injuries.

The Phillies went down in flames by a score of 12-2.  They travel back home tonight to go back to Interleague play.  The Athletics are first on the schedule; Vance Worley will pitch at 7:05pm.

An NL East Update

This has been a weird week overall for the NL East.  First, the Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez suddenly quit after the Fish went on a real bender, losing 18 of 19 games in the month of June.

Not to be outdone, the Nationals manager Jim Riggleman one-upped Rodriguez.  After the Nationals WON 11 of their last 12 games, the opposite of the Marlins month, Riggleman gave the Nats an ultimatum.  He told his GM in a meeting they needed to extend his contract then and there or he would not get on the bus for the Nats next game.

Riggleman quit, just like that.  And just like that, he will probably never work in baseball again.  Who in their right mind would hire a guy who just quits when he does not get his way?  It was unprofessional and just plain stupid.  I do not care how disrespected he felt that his contract was not extended sooner.  If the team felt it should wait until the end of the year, then he should have just waited it out.  Abandoning his team like that is just wrong.   Nats fans should be livid.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Another Complete Game Shut-Out For Magician, Cliff Lee

After a wild start where he walked the first batter on four pitches, Cliff Lee settled down in St. Louis and disposed of the Cardinals one batter at a time.  The 4-0 shut-out win improves Lee’s record to 8-5.

After tonight, Lee has pitched 23 consecutive scoreless innings.  This was also his second consecutive complete game shut-out.  While Lee had some shaky starts early on and trouble in road games, he seems to be in a groove now.

And Lee makes it look easy.  It is as if he pulls a magic wand out of his hat, waves it and all is well.  Abracadabra, you are OUT.  The Cardinals were helpless against Magician Lee.

The Phillies offense had to contend with former Phillie, Kyle Lohse.  And while they did not light the ballpark on fire, a few homers got the job done.  In the 3rd inning, Jimmy Rollins hit a solo shot and Ryan Howard smacked a two-run homer.

In the 9th against the Cardinals bullpen, the Phillies added on one more run.  Shane Victorino tripled and Chase Utley popped a sac fly to score him.  In Tuesday night’s game, the Phillies beat up on the Cards bullpen to the tune of nine runs in the 8th inning.

Some more good news involves Placido Polanco.  After getting hit in the hand with a pitch yesterday, Polly is just fine and started today’s game.  He went 1-3 at the plate and played solid defense.  Polly seems to be just fine.

Roy Oswalt will pitch on Thursday night; game time is 8:15pm.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Cardinals Implode in the 8th & Hand the Phillies a Win

Tonight’s Phillies – Cardinals match-up was basically a snooze-fest through six innings.  For the Cards, few hits were not surprising since they had to face Roy Halladay.  But the Phillies faced a pitcher they really should have hit and they did not.

Halladay allowed only one run.  Although if Placido Polanco had gotten a ground ball out of his glove quicker in the 5th, he would have had a double play to prevent that run from scoring.

Polanco had a bad day overall.  He is simply not hitting while in the 5-hole and went 0-for-3 today.  In the 8th inning, Polly got plunked with a pitch in the hand.  And though he got an RBI because the bases were loaded, he had to leave the game.  No word yet on how serious the injury may be.

The rest of the offense was just as bad against starter Kyle McClellan.  They managed only five hits and one run off a very average starter.  Carlos Ruiz was the only exception with three hits off McClellan and four hits in the game total.

What is really frustrating is watching Phillies batters strike out with less than two outs and the bases loaded or hit into a double play with runners on base.  Raul Ibanez did both tonight.

But the Cardinals proceeded to implode in the 8th after McClellan was lifted.  The drama began when two hitters got hit with pitches, including Polanco, and Chase Utley was walked before that.  Three runs were forced home that inning.

Suddenly, the Phillies offense woke up.  I suppose three free runs will do that.  Another run scored on a Ben Francisco pinch-hit and two more on a Jimmy Rollins single. All of this happened with two outs, and they were not done yet.  After batting around, Utley added two more runs with a single.  Ryan Howard followed suit and another run scored.

Let us total the top of the 8th inning damage:  4 walks, 2 HBP, 5 singles, 9 runs scored & 43 minutes of playing time.

By the time the magical 8th inning came to a close, the Phillies went from trailing 2-1 to leading by a score of 10-2.

The only shame, again, was that a great pitching performance from Halladay did not yield a win for him.  So both he and Cole Hamels are still waiting for win #10.

Cliff Lee will pitch on Wednesday night; game time is 8:15pm.

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*