It is officially a streak – the Phillies have won 4 games in a row and all 4 came during their final at-bat. In the 3-game sweep of the Brewers, every game also ended in the exact same score, 7-6.
Tuesday’s improbable win included a 6-run rally in the 8th inning which was started by a 2-run homer from 2nd back-up catcher, Erik Kratz. To that point, Kratz had exactly 3 major league hits and all 3 were home runs.
Then today, Kratz doubled his major league hit total even while abandoning the long ball. He recorded 3 hits including an RBI and a double in extra innings to once again set the Phillies up for a late-game win. Chase Utley also had 3 hits today plus 3 RBI. Jimmy Rollins got the game-winning hit today and also in Sunday’s walk-off win.
As for the pitching, Cliff Lee was not great on Tuesday, giving up 6 runs. But the Phillies offense got all 6 back for him in that 8th inning. Then today Vance Worley had an ok outing, allowing 3 runs in 5.1 innings. Kyle Kendrick kept him from further damage with 1.2 scoreless innings.
The bullpen has, with one exception, found it’s groove in these last 4 games. Only Antonio Bastardo faltered with a 2-run homer to Ryan Braun today that almost cost them the game. But the late-inning magic bailed him out, even despite another Ty Wigginton error at third base.
But the HUGE bang for the Phillies came earlier today when the Phillies announced they finally signed ace pitcher Cole Hamels to a long-term deal. A collective sigh of relief was heard around the city.
Hamels got 6 years for $144 million, which is the second biggest contract ever behind only CC Sabathia of the Yankees who got $161 for 7 years back in 2008. It is the largest contract ever for a Phillie.
It appears then that the Phillies have not given up just yet. The Hamels signing should be a big relief for guys like Lee, Rollins and Roy Halladay who chose to come to or stay in Philly with the promise from the front office that they would continue to try to win in the long-term. And these last 4 wins which happened in the most unlikely ways should also light a fire under the entire team.
The Phillies are off tomorrow for the annual Phestival and they will then fly to Atlanta for 3 games with the Braves. Those 3 games will be very telling as to whether this team can stage an improbable comeback and make a run at a Wild Card spot.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Once again, things did not go well for the Phillies tonight. The way they have been playing, most expected them to struggle against the Yankees. But with Roy Halladay on the mound, you had to figure tonight would be their best chance at a win. No such luck…
In the first of a 3-game series in New York, the Phillies went down in flames by a score of 8-3. Halladay had a very bad day, allowing 6 runs, including 3 homers. Halladay has only given up 3 homers in a game nine times in his career; the last 3 times have been against the Yankees. Visably upset at the home plate umpire in the second inning,
Halladay nearly imploded while giving up a triple that scored 2 runs. The next inning was worse as he surrendered 2 homers and 3 runs. Halladay had trouble containing his emotions tonight and it hurt him.
The Phillies offense did not help either as they put forth a real effort in only one inning. With the bases loaded and no outs in the 4th inning, the Phils scraped 3 runs off CC Sabathia with a bunch of singles and a force out that scored a run. They should have scored more, but Juan Castro was fanned on a 96mph fastball and Carlos Ruiz followed up with a weak ground out. And after that inning, the offense went right back to sleep.
Manager Charlie Manuel tried to shake up the lineup by flip-flopping Placido Polanco and Chase Utley, with Utley batting second. Utley did have 2 hits in the game, but still does not look like his old self. Todd Zolecki tweeted today, “”Asked Chase Utley before the game if he’s healthy. “As far as I know I’m healthy, yes,” he said. “That’s cryptic,” I said. He did not laugh.”” Read what you would like into that, but it does seem that Utley may be having another mystery issue.
The bottom line here is, the offense has shown no signs of life. The Phils have been so awful, I think they may have better success with brain surgery than hitting a baseball. And the pitching has suddenly taken a crap, as witnessed tonight and also by the 9 runs each allowed by Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer in their last starts. And when Halladay is allowing 6 runs a game, you know that things are very, very bad.
Even worse, the next two starters scheduled to pitch are Moyer and the wildly inconsistent Kyle Kendrick…against the Yankees. If it were the Orioles, maybe they might stand a chance. Instead, this match-up looks like a disaster waiting to happen. Hope that the veteran Moyer can rebound and inject some life into this team! Game time Wednesday night is 7:05pm.
Happy Bunny by Jim Benton
The Phillies reclaimed their spot in first place last night after an 11-5 win over the Mets. Let us begin with the Tale of Two Teams: Before the game, people like Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino had their game faces on. Jimmy Rollins, still on the DL, was relaxed and posing for me and Jose Reyes was busy fixing his hair. A foretelling of things to come perhaps?
As for the game itself, most of it can be summed up in two innings. In the first inning, things did not look good for pitcher Jamie Moyer and the Phillies. Moyer got the first two outs but after allowing a few singles and then a home run to David Wright, he was in a big hole quickly.
Moyer’s performances this year have had one huge flaw; he always seems to have one bad inning where he gives up a bunch of runs. In the top of the 4th, he allowed 2 more runs on a Rod Barajas homer. Barajas has done serious damage to the Phillies every time he has played his ex-team. Although, Placido Polanco did manage to tag Barajas out going to third:
But the bottom of the 4th inning blew the game wide open for the Phillies. The Mets ace, Johan Santana, had been mowing down Phillies batters, except for solo homers from Polanco and Howard in the 1st. After a Chase Utley double, Santana got the next two batters out, but things then spun wildly out of control.
Raul Ibanez singled to score Utley and Carlos Ruiz walked after that. The bases were loaded with 2 outs for the pitcher, Moyer. You had to imagine Moyer would just make the last out and that would be that. But once Moyer ran the count 2-0, the crowd exploded with anticipation of what might happen next.
On their feet and screaming, “Johan! Johan!” the fans rattled Santana and Moyer, will amazing discipline at the plate, drew the walk to force in a run. Everyone began having flashbacks to Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS when Brett Myers and the crowd did the exact same thing to pitcher CC Sabathia. And who should step to the plate but the same hero from that NLDS game, Shane Victorino.
Back in October of 2008, Victorino followed up the Myers walk with a Grand Slam. Last night, history repeated itself as Victorino, with the crowd cheering him on, hit another Grand Slam! It was the 2nd of his career and I have been present for both of those slams. Shane may want to send me some tickets as it appears I am his good luck charm ;o)
But the inning did not end there. Polanco singled and then Utley homered; and with that, Santana was finally run out of the game. The Mets bullpen gave up one more run after that making it a grand total of 9 runs in the inning. Santana was responsible for 8 of those, which is more runs that he gave up in the entire month of April. And the 10 runs total marks the most runs ever allowed by Santana in a single game for his career.
The Phillies batted around plus 4 in the inning and the outburst seemed to give Moyer new life on the mound. He pitched two scoreless innings after that and even got a hit in the 5th inning. Chad Durbin pitched the 7th and 8th innings without allowing a hit and Danys Baez, feeling comfy with a 6-run lead, closed out the game.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game. Tonight, the Phillies will begin a new series against the Cardinals with Joe Blanton finally returning from the DL. Game time is 7:05pm. Best of luck to Blanton in his season debut!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
During the official introduction of Roy Halladay yesterday, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. explained further why he chose to ship Cliff Lee off to Seattle. He backed off the idea of not being able to sign him past one year and moved on to replenishing the farm system. Amaro admitted this move was a risk, but one he was willing to take in order to keep the franchise winning for years to come, rather than just putting all their eggs into the 2010 basket.
As for the fans, we are all very excited to see Roy Halladay in a Phillies uniform! But many wish the ultimate pitching dream of Halladay & Lee could have been a reality. Here is a synopsis of how it all went down for the Lee fans:
5 Stages of Grief In Losing Cliff Lee:
– Denial: This cannot be happening! Lee was the only pitcher to win a game for us in the World Series!
– Anger: Noooooo! Ruben Amaro Jr., you stink!
– Bargaining: Hey Ruben, how about we keep both Halladay AND Lee? Come on….please? I’ll be your best friend :O)
– Depression: I am going to crawl in a hole; wake me in the Spring.
– Acceptance: Oh, ok. I guess it was a good business decision. I still love you Ruben :O) Thank you for a Happy Halladay!
Mr. Amaro may be the happiest person on the planet right now; he has wanted Halladay for a very long time and finally got his wish. During the press conference, Amaro referred to the acquisition of Halladay as “intoxicating.” Well, that does explain a lot about the trade I suppose. Clearly, he was drunk on Halladay Juice and made some very creative decisions. I’ll give him an A+ on getting Halladay. As for letting Lee go in exchange for the prospects, the jury is out until we see how he handles the hangover. ;o)
Well, it is the Halladay Season, so drink up Mr. Amaro! Just sober up in time for Spring Training.
By the way, the This Year In Baseball awards are in and some Phillies, plus a few of their fans, won awards. Ruben Amaro Jr. was voted Best Executive; J.A. Happ, who should have gotten the Rookie of the Year award will have to settle for the TYIB Best Rookie prize; Jayson Werth won Best Unsung Star; and the father-daughter pair who were shown all over TV after Dad caught a ball and his daughter tossed it back, were named the season’s Best Oddity.
Congrats to all!
Amaro photo by Jenn
The Phillies made it official this afternoon; Cy Young award winning pitcher Roy Halladay is now a Phillie :O) Some say he is the best pitcher in baseball. This is a huge pick up for the Phillies and an exciting day for the fans. Halladay has signed a 3-year extension, keeping him in red pinstripes through 2013 for around 20 million a year after his 1-year Jays contract is fulfilled in 2010.
So the Phillies have swapped one Cy Young winner for another and three prospects for 3 different prospects. The casualties for the Phillies include Cliff Lee, who went to Seattle plus 3 of our top 4 prospects; pitcher Kyle Drabek, outfielder Michael Taylor and catcher Travis d’Arnaud who all went to the Jays. In return, the Phillies will get 3 prospects from Seattle to restock the farm system; pitchers Phillipe Aumont, J.C. Ramirez and outfielder Tyson Gillies.
The Cliff Lee trade is disappointing, but it makes sense from a business perspective as the Phillies were nearing their payroll limit and they knew for sure that Lee would be only a 1-year pitcher, testing the market after 2010. From a fan perspective, it is sad to see Lee go and one cannot help but wish we could have had both Lee and Halladay even for just the one year.
And to all the yahoo’s out there who want to shout obscenities and declare that Phillies fans do not appreciate Roy Halladay, get over yourselves. It has nothing to do with appreciating Halladay and everything to do with losing Cliff Lee. If the Yankees got Halladay and had to ship off CC Sabathia to do so, tell me Yankee fans would not be shouting from the rooftops? It is the same thing. And yes, Lee and Sabathiha have comparable stats.
We are very, very happy to have Halladay and excited to see him pitch in a Phillies uniform. But it does seem sad to lose other good players in the process, especially Lee and the three prospects. You feel like a kid at Christmas that got exactly what you always wanted, but had to give back all your other presents to do so.
I have personally spoken to Michael Taylor, as an example, and he is not only a great player, but a great person as well. One cannot help but feel disappointed to see these guys leave. And I saw Lee pitch his first game with the Phillies in San Francisco; he pitched a complete game and made it look easy. We are entitled to be upset over losing our best pitcher, as I am sure Jays fans are upset over losing theirs. Are we getting a better pitcher in return? Absolutely. But wouldn’t both be so much nicer?
That being said, Phillies fans are thrilled to finally get the big prize! Happy Halladay’s to everyone in Philly! I cannot wait until Spring Training :O)
Last year, the Phillies won the World Series behind the strength of Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge. This year, they are likely going to lose the World Series because of the failure of those same two players. What was a dream World Series match-up for many has now turned into a nightmare for the Phillies.
The Yankees are up 3 games to 1 in the series and there is no tomorrow for the Phillies. Winning 3 games in a row is not impossible; the Phils did that many times this year. But against this Yankees team, it appears to be an insurmountable climb. But it is not over until it is over and Cliff Lee will pitch tonight.
As for last night’s 7-4 loss, Joe Blanton had a Blah-anton-like performance, giving up 4 runs in 6 innings on 5 hits and 2 walks. Overall, he did not have a good post-season at all and ended with a 6.00 ERA, assuming he does not pitch again. Much like Cole Hamels the day before, Blanton looked good for about 3 innings after a horrible 2-run 1st inning. If he had held it to those 1st two runs, that would have been great. But, no such luck.
The offense scratched and clawed at CC Sabathia to get back into the game and did manage to score 3 runs off him, including Chase Utley’s 3rd solo homer off CC this post-season. But two hottest hitters this week, went hitless: Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz. And Raul Ibanez continues to be worthless at the plate; he is batting .188. Pedro Feliz had suffered as well, but came up with a 3 hit night, including the game tying home run in the 8th inning.
But the heroics by Feliz, which at the time felt like a real positive, were quickly squashed by another Brad Lidge disaster. Lidge came into the 9th with a 4-4 tie and got the first two outs in the blink of an eye. But that 3rd out still eludes Lidge, as it has all year long. He gave up a hit to Johnny Damon who then blew the game wide open.
The Phillies put the shift on for Mark Teixiera, so Feliz was covering 2nd base. Now, we all know that every base runner steals on Lidge, right? Well, we all know that except maybe Lidge, who appeared confused by what has become routine for him. The problem here is that no one was covering 3rd base and Damon kept right on going. After the game, Lidge was asked who should have covered 3rd and he said, “I don’t know.” News flash: it was you, Brad! Ugh.
Then with the runner on 3rd, he proceeded to hit Teixiera with a pitch. This is where I believe it really went to hell; Teixiera had ONE hit all series long. This was not the guy to screw up with. If he was going to get out of the inning, Teixiera was the guy to go after. BIG mistake. After that, the rest is history; an A-Rod single scored Damon and Jorge Posada knocked in two more. And Lidge walks off with an ERA of 27.00. Yikes!
I am going to the game tonight and hopefully, I will not have to witness the Phillies going down in flames. But it does not look good right now, except for the fact that Cliff Lee will pitch. Lee has been the only bright light thus far in the World Series for the Phillies pitchers, but he cannot do this alone. I wish him (and me) luck tonight!
Photo by Jenn
Last year on Halloween Day, the Phillies were celebrating by parading down Broad Street. This year on Halloween Day, they took a spanking from the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the World Series with an 8-5 loss after a 1 hour and 20 minute rain delay. Cole Hamels did not follow my instructions and wear his “Hamels: Version 2008” costume for the occasion. Instead, Hamels 2009 took the mound and gave up 5 runs in 4 1/3 innings on 5 hits and 2 walks. A scary Halloween, indeed, complete with cloudy skies, rain and a 1-2 game deficit in the series.
This has been the story for Cole all year long; he simply cannot be counted on. He pitched well for 3 innings and then lost composure on a walk to Mark Teixeira that he felt should have been a strikeout in the 4th. A-Rod batted next and launched a controversial home run; the ball hit a FOX TV camera which was sticking out over the field. Instant Replay showed the hit and by rule, the interference made it a home run. This brings up another point: why is a TV camera sticking out over the field? They cannot back up a few inches? That simply should not be allowed. Way to go FOX.
It all fell apart after that. Once again, even though Cole showed signs of impending disaster, manager Charlie Manuel sent him out for the 5th and again, left him in way too long. He even allowed an RBI single to the pitcher, Andy Pettitte, who almost never picks up a bat. 3 runs later and this game was going downhill fast. The bullpen could not hold the Yanks to those 5 either. The next 3 relievers allowed one run a piece in each of the next 3 innings.
Add to that the horrible offensive display and Phillies fans are having flashbacks to slumps from earlier in the season. The Yankees who had not been hitting in this series, like A-Rod and Nick Swisher, found Hamels to be the cure. And the Phillies who were performing all post-season long, like NLCS MVP Ryan Howard, have seemingly lost their bats and cannot find them anywhere.
Jayson Werth looked to be the only Phillie interested in hitting; he knocked two solo home runs in the game. Carlos Ruiz also hit a solo homer and walked twice. The other 2 runs came off a walk to Jimmy Rollins with the bases loaded and a Shane Victorino sac fly. And that was basically the sum total of the offense.
Another item that irks me here: Eric Bruntlett was put in as a pinch hitter with a man on base in a situation where a home run was really what they needed. Why not Matt Stairs? Bruntlett should never be used as a pinch hitter unless they are looking to bunt. He had a terrible season and looks like he could not hit the side of a barn. Not to mention, he almost never hits homers.
As for Hamels, he is lined up to pitch Game 7, if it goes that far. In my opinion, this should not even be a consideration. Hamels has proven all year that he cannot get the job done, especially under pressure. He should be done. Come up with a mystery injury, replace him on the roster with another bullpen arm or bench player and send in Cliff Lee on short rest with JA Happ as his back-up. If I was in charge, that is what would happen. But since I am not in charge, hang on Phillies fans, it is going to be a bumpy ride if this goes 7 games.
The Phillies can try to tie up the series tonight with a win, but it will be Joe Blanton against CC Sabathia. Blanton has not done very well this post-season and is sporting a 4.66 ERA. Sabathia is the better pitcher, but does have awful memories of last post-season to overcome, including his lost battles with Brett Myers at the plate, a Grand Slam by Victorino and the banter of the home crowd. Plus he is on 3 days rest, same as that game last year where the Phillies beat up on him when he was with the Brewers.
My tummy hurts just thinking about this. Plus, I have an awful hangover from last night’s game, and I did not drink anything but water. Yet somehow, the nausea and headache still persist. Hmmmmm….wonder why? ;o)
Here is the full Photo Album from Game 3. I took a lot of photos of both teams, something I normally do not do. I also got some great pre-games shots which include Hall of Famers and old-timers, Reggie Jackson, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski and Garry Maddox. Some are a tad blurry as it rained most of the game and I had water on my lens :O( But I still did pretty well. At least this will be more enjoyable than the game was :O)
Photos by Jenn