The Phillies managed to spend only one day out of the basement in the NL East after Saturday’s win. But Sunday’s twin killing against the Rays propelled them right back to where they apparently belong; in last place. When your two best starters are pitching and you still lose both games, things have clearly gone very, very wrong.
In the first game, Cole Hamels was practically unhittable. He did not allow a run over 7 innings and gave up only 3 hits.
Leaving the game with a 1-0 lead, the bullpen was going to have to pitch 2 clean innings. And as you probably already know, that did not happen.
I try not to say too much about how Charlie Manuel handles this team. Because frankly, what he has been given to work with is on par with a minor league team. But after Antonio Bastardo walked 2 batters in the 8th with just a 1-run lead, he should not have been allowed to continue. Bastardo was awful the day before and clearly, he still has not found proper command of his pitches. So why then is he left in to pitch to Carlos Pena?
Apparently, he was left in to clear the bases for the next pitcher as he gave up a 3-run homer to Pena. I saw that coming, as did everyone in my section screaming, “Take him out!” But Manuel puts blind faith in these guys even when it has become obvious to everyone else that the leash has gotten far too long.
Then again, look at the players Manuel has to choose from. The pickings are slim. This bullpen just sucks, so in that regard, it is still hard to blame the manager. I still don’t agree with the decision to leave Bastardo in, but I am also glad I was not the one having to make that decision.
And then in the 8th with 2 outs and the bases loaded, Manuel left Michael Martinez in to bat instead of pinch hitting. Martinez is hitting .133 and could not hit the broad side of a barn right now. After the game, Manuel told the media that neither Juan Pierre nor Mike Fontenot were hitting lefties well, so he left Martinez in. The issue with that is, Martinez is not hitting ANYONE right now.
Angry at the media for asking, Manuel suggested the reporters should tweet him with their in-game decisions saying, “You guys can float the information down there to me, being as I ain’t smart enough to get it.” Oh my…
Here are a few other random shots from the 1st game, which the Phillies went on to lose, 3-2.
In game 2, Cliff Lee basically squashed any shot he may have had at his first win of the season by allowing 5 runs over 7 innings. His last 3 starts have been awful. Where did our ace go?
Perhaps the strain of not having a win has finally stolen whatever small amount of sanity he had left? No one really knows what is going on here.
Placido Polanco tried to get this team going. He went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI and a walk. John Mayberry Jr. also had a big hit and an RBI. And it was apparently “opposite day” for Hunter Pence who drew 3 walks in the game.
But the offense literally ended there. The Phillies managed only 4 hits and left 6 men on base.
And just so Lee did not feel singled out in this one, some of the rookie pitchers decided to help out with 5 walks, a wild pitch and 2 more runs for the Rays in one inning. It looks like B.J. Rosenberg’s major league career may be over before it began. He was responsible for all that damage except 1 of the walks.
Adding insult to injury, catcher Brian Schneider was leveled at home plate by Sean Rodriguez coming in to score. He left the game with a sprained ankle. Later, Pence almost took out the Rays catcher in a weird semi-collision with Jose Molina’s outstretched leg.
Schneider is now on the DL and the Phillies went down for the count in a 7-3 loss.
The Pirates come to town next for a 4-game series starting tonight at 7:05pm.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Third baseman Placido Polanco smacked his 100th career homer in Friday night’s Phillies – Cubs game. The grand slam not only marked a significant career achievement, it also helped the Phillies win the game.
Roy Halladay was his usual awesome self on the mound and it looked like he would not need much assistance. Domonic Brown hit a two-run homer in the second inning to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead. Then Polly’s slam made it a seven run lead in the seventh.
So after seven innings of no-run ball for Halladay, manager Charlie Manuel decided to give him a little rest and use the bullpen for the final two innings. That almost wound up being a disaster.
Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero nearly blew the seven run lead, which was especially scary considering how hard it has been for the Phillies to score any runs lately. Contreras walked two of the first four batters he faced, loaded the bases and had given up two runs by the time he was pulled after recording only one out.
Things got worse when Romero entered and proceeded to walk the first batter he faced on four pitches. Then back-to-back singles scored three more runs for the Cubs. Without having recorded an out, Romero was lifted from the game. The seven run lead had turned into a 7-5 ballgame quickly.
Rookie Michael Stutes was called upon to stop the bleeding, which he did. Stutes also started the ninth inning where a strike-out, throw-out double play with a strong toss to second from catcher Carlos Ruiz retired two Cubs in one shot. Antonio Bastardo then struck out lefty Carlos Pena to earn the save.
While the Phillies won the game 7-5, the performance from Contreras and Romero is raising eyebrows. Contreras is still struggling with his command since coming off the DL. Hopefully, time and getting some more work in will correct the issue. Romero seems healthy, but he is still having serious issues throwing strikes.
The outlook for these bullpen pieces remains to be seen, but it does appear that the back-end of the pen is in the midst of a youth movement. Both Stutes and Bastardo have outpitched the more experienced Contreras and Romero and will likely be transitioned into the later innings role for the foreseeable future.
Game three with the Cubs is this afternoon at 4:10pm. Cliff Lee will pitch.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The St. Louis crowd loves Ryan Howard. But when Albert Pujols made his entrance, the fans officially went nuts. Both sluggers were favorites to win the 2009 Home Run Derby; Pujols playing for the Cardinals and Howard, a St. Louis native, both had a lot of support going into the contest.
The first round results, which put Pujols into a swing-off with Joe Mauer and Carlos Pena, ended with both Pujols and Howard making the second round along with Prince Fielder and Nelson Cruz. Pujols ended round #2 with 11 total homers and Howard wound up hitting 15. Cruz stepped in for his turn and out-did Howard by just one home run for 16 total. Howard’s last hope was that Fielder, the final batter in round 2, would not surpass his 15 homers. Sadly for Phillies fans, Fielder wound up hitting 17, knocking Howard out of the contest. Ryan seemed relieved though, as exhaustion set in and he was likely happy to be done.
It was a nice effort all around, although not as exciting as last year’s derby where Josh Hamilton put on a show that will probably never been repeated. Hamilton hit 28 homers in the first round, many of which disappeared from sight in old Yankee Stadium. Although he went on to take 2nd place to Justin Morneau, those of us who witnessed the amazing display of power and grace will not soon forget it. I had a feeling this year’s derby would pale in comparison, but how could it not?
But the derby is always an entertaining event that I look forward to seeing every year. And the 2009 champion is Prince Fielder, who hit 6 in the final round to Cruz’s 5. Congrats to Fielder!
Tune in for the All-Star Game tomorrow night at 8pm on FOX. Tim Lincecum will start for the NL and Roy Halladay for the AL. As for your Phillies, Chase Utley gets the start at 2nd, Raul Ibanez in left and Shane Victorino in center. Howard and Jayson Werth will be available on the bench.
My predictions for the game are as follows:
– The NL will finally break the curse of 11 straight AL wins (plus 1 tie) and win the game!
– Chase Utley will look FABULOUS, even if he strikes out multiple time. I guarantee it.
– Tim Lincecum will be asked by at least 15 fans if he is the teenage son of one of the other players.
– St. Louis fans will chant “RAUUUUUUL!” even if they do not know why they are doing it.
– The broadcasters for FOX will screw up simple facts at an approximate rate of 2.3 times per inning.
– The FOX broadcast will also be boring, redundant and completely void of any redeeming value…sorry to have to break it to you. But, enjoy the game…with the volume turned down :O)
Photos by Jenn