It appears that the Phillies bats have cut their vacation short. Perhaps they ran out of those froofy umbrella drinks and decided to leave the island that they were apparently hiding on. Whatever the case, it is nice to see them again.
No one was happier than Ryan Howard who had not hit a home run the entire month of August. Finally last night, he blasted a 3-run shot to left center. Back-up catcher Brian Schneider also hit a 3-run homer in the 2nd inning to give the team an early lead, which is another thing they have not had much of lately. Most starters had at least one hit in the game except for Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, although Victorino walked twice.
With a 6-4 lead going into the 7th inning, the Phillies sent Carlos Ruiz in to pinch hit for Schneider and Joe Torre countered with pitcher Jonathan Broxton. Ruiz and Broxton have quite a history; on August 12th this year, the Phillies rallied back against the Dodgers from a 9-2 deficit and a Ruiz double off Broxton capped the victory at 10-9. Last night, Ruiz smacked Broxton around again, this time for a 2-run single to give the Phillies a nice 8-4 cushion.
As for starter Kyle Kendrick, he ended the month of August with yet another unimpressive outing. In 6 starts for the month, Kendrick allowed 21 earned runs, pitching at an ERA of 5.79. Last night’s start consisted of 4 earned runs over only 5 innings.
The bullpen pitched the final 4 innings and held the Dodgers down. Chad Durbin, JC Romero, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge capped off the 8-4 victory. Even former Phillie Rod Barajas, who is hitting over .500 against the Phillies since 2008, was held to just one hit.
This afternoon at 3:10pm is the final game of the series and Roy Oswalt will face Clayton Kershaw. If the Phillies can hit Kershaw tonight, we may be able to announce the official return of the Phillies offense. If not, then last night will be chalked up to bad pitching by the Dodgers. The Phillies are 3 games behind the Braves going into September. Now is the time to put their collective feet on the gas pedal and not let up.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Every time someone mentions the name “Brad Lidge” now, I instantly feel sick to my stomach. It has become a Pavlovian response. And while I am not a dog, I do get a tad bitchy around the “Lidge” references. The last two years of the Phillies-Lidge experiment have been a rollercoaster ride…and not a pleasant one.
Last night, the Phils managed to squeak out 2 runs against the Padres amazing pitching staff while Roy Oswalt held their offense to just one run. Oswalt had an amazing game; the kind of game everyone hoped he would bring to Philly. But leave it to Lidge to try to sour the evening.
The 9th inning save attempt turned into another Lidge disaster. Former Phillie Matt Stairs singled to start the inning and a pinch runner came in. But Lidge got the first two outs without a problem after that. And then, the wheels fell off the wagon.
After an intentional walk to slugger Adrian Gonzalez, Lidge was ahead 0-2 to Ryan Ludwick. Yes, ahead in the count. So what does Lidge do on the next pitch? He hits Ludwick to load the bases. As if that were not bad enough, Chase Headly steps to the plate and Lidge BALKS a run home. And it was not one of those picky balk calls; it was blatantly obvious and without explanation. Lidge was not holding anyone on base; the bases were loaded! WHAT was he thinking? Wow. That was blown save #5 for Lidge this year.
The then tied 2-2 game went into extra innings. Thanks to Jimmy Rollins and Chad Durbin, the Phillies pulled out a win. Rollins led off the 12th with a double and scored on a Placido Polanco single. It was a scary play as Rollins danced around the tag at home plate and just barely got his hand on the plate to score safely. And Durbin pitched 2 scoreless innings to record the 3-2 win.
But runs were not easy to come by in the game and the Phillies still have issues hitting, especially with runners in scoring position. In the 3rd, singles by Rollins, Polanco and Chase Utley scored the 1st run but, with two men on base, Ryan Howard struck out…again. Shane Victorino had a chance to add on in the 8th with one out and the bases loaded. A sac fly would have been nice, but instead, Victorino swung at the first pitch; the weak grounder was thrown home for the force out.
Jayson Werth grounded into a double play in the 12th with 2 men on base, which blew a prime opportunity for an insurance run. Werth went 0-5 with 2 strikeouts and in an odd twist, he even fell down the dugout stairs after a bad at-bat. He appeared to be ok afterwards. I hate to keep picking on Werth as I have all week, but his lack of focus is simply astounding. He is not the only one, but he has been the most obvious about it.
So while a win is a great thing, especially after losing 4 straight to the Astros, the Phillies bats had better wake up today before this road trip takes a turn for the worst. They did gain one game on the Braves with the win, so this is the time to step on the gas pedal and getting moving. Game 2 with the Padres is this afternoon at 4:10pm.
By the way, pitcher Danys Baez was placed on the DL yesterday with back spasms. Lefty Antonio Bastardo was called up to take his place.
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Ryan Howard came off the DL today, trading places with Ross Gload who went on the DL with a strained groin. So Domonic Brown remains on the roster and Greg Dobbs has accepted an assignment in AAA. While the return of Howard was very good news, the Phillies offense still appears to be on hiatus.
The Phils managed only 2 hits and 1 run off the Nats Stephen Strasburg. Howard had the lone RBI. But early in the 5th inning, Strasburg looked at his elbow, obviously in pain, and was removed from the game. There is no word yet on how serious the injury might be. But even with the Nats rookie ace pulled from the game, the Phils offense still went silent.
Not helping the cause at all was pitcher Kyle Kendrick who had a horrible outing. Just when you thought Kendrick was getting on track, there he goes again with 5 earned runs allowed in the first 3 innings. Kendrick was pulled after just 5 2/3 innings. The Phillies have a serious decision to make here; Kendrick cannot be counted on and in a pennant race, that is not what they need.
After Chad Durbin gave up a 3-run homer in the 9th, sending the Phillies down by a score of 8-1. They will have one more shot at the Nats tomorrow at 1:35pm to try for a series win. Roy Oswalt will pitch and I will return with photos.
Before today’s game against the Dodgers, Shane Victorino was activated off the DL and lefty Antonio Bastardo was sent to AAA to make room. Victorino did not start the game as Charlie Manuel had already told Ben Francisco he would start tonight. Victorino did pinch hit in the 8th and drew a walk. Francisco had a much more interesting game…more on that shortly.
Pitcher Joe Blanton started the game and sadly, had another Blah-anton-type outing. He allowed 3 runs right off the bat in the first inning. After 5 2/3 innings, Blanton had walked 4 batters, allowed 8 hits and 4 runs total. The hole was dug deeper by relief pitcher Chad Durbin who did not provide any relief. Durbin allowed a 2-run homer in the 7th to put the Phillies down 6-2.
But the damage did not end there. JC Romero pitched the 8th inning and while Romero has had trouble of late, this time it was the defense that let him down. Mike Sweeney missed a ground ball at first to start the inning. Carlos Ruiz had an error as well and two unearned runs scored. Jose Contreras came in to relieve Romero and gave up another run.
Down 9-2 going into the bottom of the 8th, it looked like this game was over. Then suddenly, the hits started coming. It began with 4 straight hits: singles from Placido Polanco, Sweeney, Jayson Werth and a double from Francisco. Wilson Valdez got another hit for the 4th run of the inning. The 9-6 score seemed a tad more manageable.
The Dodgers sent their closer in for the 9th, Jonathan Broxton. The same 4 players that ignited the 8th inning rally started another one in the 9th. Polanco was hit by a pitch; Sweeney and Werth both walked. Francisco got on base after an error and 2 runs scored. Just like that, the bases were loaded with no outs for Carlos Ruiz with a 9-8 score. Ruiz smashed a walk-off double to win the game!
The Phillies came back from a 7 run deficit to win the game and take 2 of 3 games in the series. When asked how he felt after the game, Ruiz told Gary Matthews, “I’m happy, I’m so happy.” Well Chooch, we are SO happy too! Werth then ran up behind him and dumped a bucket of Gatorade over Ruiz’s head. I supposed shaving cream pies are out of fashion now.
Next up: the Mets in New York for the weekend. Game time tomorrow is 7:10pm.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Dodgers came to town today and the in-flight food service must have been seriously lacking on their way to Philly. Because they were really hungry by the time the game started. They snacked on Phillies pitchers like they had been starved for weeks.
The tastiest morsel was Kyle Kendrick; he allowed 5 earned runs on 8 hits and 2 walks. A 6th run was unearned on the first of Jimmy Rollins’ two errors tonight. When things start to go bad, things really go bad. For instance, Rollins tripped over second base and fell over during what should have been a sure out. Dodgers say, “Yum, yum! Me love scoring runs!”
The snack turned into a 7-course meal when David Herndon gave up 4 runs in the 6th after the Phillies offense had finally scored 3 runs the prior inning. Herndon pitched a perfect 5th inning, but lost his command in the 6th. Prior to that, Antonio Bastardo allowed a run of his own. The lefty Bastardo was just added to the roster after outfielder John Mayberry was sent back to AAA.
After the 7-course meal in the 6th, the Dodgers were still hungry in the 7th when Danys Baez came in to pitch. They ate him up to the tune of 2 more runs. I suppose that was desert. With a 13-5 lead, the Dodgers were bordering on pure gluttony. Even The Count was tired of counting runs at that point.
Former Phillie Vincente Padilla handled the Phillies offense well until he met Ross Gload. He was the one Phillies player who tried to join in on the feast. Going 3 for 5 in the game, Gload hit not one, but two 2-run homers. He was a one man wrecking crew.
Rookie Domonic Brown had 4 RBI on a sac fly and then his very first major league home run. He got the final 2 RBI in the 9th on a double. The homer was not as exciting as it should have been considering the 13 runs on the board for the Dodgers. Also, Brown has not played well in the outfield and needs a LOT of work on his fielding and hitting the cut-off man.
But back to the Dodgers; 13 runs would just not suffice. JC Romero came in to pitch the 9th inning and the Dodgers began to salivate again. Romero hit the first batter and gave up a 2-run homer to the 3rd batter. With one huge 2-run chunk already taken out of his back side, Romero let the Dodgers have another nibble. He walked the pitcher, George Sherrill. It was Sherrill’s very first at-bat in his career. Not that is embarrassing. Wow.
Out of 7 Phillies pitchers tonight, only Jose Contreras and Chad Durbin did not allow a run. The final score of this vomit-inducing nausea-fest was 15-9. Good news? 9 runs. Bad news? Phillies pitching.
Roy Oswalt will pitch tomorrow night. Hopefully, in his first outing at home in a Phillies uniform, Oswalt can tame the ravenous Dodgers. Game time is 7:05pm.
Kendrick photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Sesame Street characters by Jim Henson
The match-up of Cole Hamels and Johan Santana tonight had potential to be a very tight pitcher’s duel. And that is exactly what happened; the two pitchers were fairly even through 6 innings. Santana did not allow a hit until Placido Polanco broke through in the 6th with a single. Hamels scattered 6 hits but also struck out 11 batters. The only scar on the line for Hamels was a solo homer from Jeff Francoeur in the 7th.
Hamels reached 99 pitches by the end of 7 and was pinch hit for in the bottom of the inning. Chad Durbin pitched the 8th and had a very scary outing. With the bases loaded, he nearly walked a run home. Luckily for the Phils, Francoeur was done with the home run hitting. He went fishing for a high fastball that would have been ball four and struck out.
With the score still 1-0 in favor of the Mets going into the bottom of the 8th. The Phils had an exciting inning with a few singles and a walk. But with the bases loaded and 2 outs, Ross Gload grounded out after a very good battle at the plate.
In the 9th inning, the Phillies still could not get anything done. They ended up with only 5 hits in the loss, went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position and left 9 men on base. While it was a disappointing loss, overall it was a good game because of the pitching. Hamels was outstanding so it hurts to see him not get the win…again. Poor guy.
The final game with the Mets is tomorrow afternoon at 1:35pm. Roy Halladay will pitch :O) The Alumni Batting Challenge will also take place before the game with 3 teams; Kevin Stocker with Ricky Bottalico, Jim Eisenreich with Mitch Williams and Darren Daulton with Dickie Noles.
I will return with photos from both the pre-game event and the Halladay domination of the Mets – yes, I fully expect Halladay domination. J-Roll Smurf, our official Phillies Phollowers mascot, says it will be so. He is in charge of the voodoo and I believe him. J-Roll Smurf has been practicing his voodoo bat attack all day long, so expect results. Go Phillies!
Reyes and Smurf photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
A couple of Phillies were getting hot, hot, hot in Miami tonight. At the plate, Carlos Ruiz ended the game only a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. Not only was his bat hot, but he got big hits with 2 outs and in key situations, collecting 2 RBI’s and scoring 2 runs. Ruiz had 4 hits on the night against the Marlins!
Ben Francisco was nipping at Ruiz’s heels all night too. Both players hit solo homers in the 2nd inning, back-to-back. Francisco ended with 3 hits, an RBI and 2 runs scored. Wilson Valdez contributed 2 hits as well. With Ryan Howard being sent to the DL today and Chase Utley already on the DL, the Phillies needed other players to step up and add some pop to the line-up. Ruiz, Francisco and Valdez did just that.
No one appreciated the effort more than Roy Halladay, who has suffered from a lack of run support in games past. In fact, during the 4th inning, it looked like the Phils would let him down again when they had runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out. Cody Ransom got ahead in the count and then on the 2-0 pitch, he popped out, leaving the runners stranded. After an intentional walk to Valdez, Halladay decided to get the job done himself. A 2-out hit down the 3rd base line is just what the Doc ordered. Halladay collected 2 RBI and now has 3 RBI this year.
Not only was Halladay hot at the plate, but he looked like he was yielding a flame thrower on the mound. In 7 innings, the only run he allowed was a solo homer to Dan Uggla. He gave up 5 hits, 1 walk and struck out 9 batters. Halladay left the game drenched in sweat and with a 6-1 lead.
Chad Durbin was called upon to finish the game with 2 innings to go. He had a fairly quick 8th inning and ran into some trouble in the 9th. But Durbin buckled down and got the job done without allowing a run. For a bullpen that has been up and down all year, Durbin supplied a much needed boost of confidence.
So, who was not hot tonight? Jayson Werth got the Golden Sombrero by striking out 4 times. He has done that twice now this season; the last time was 5/30/10. Ransom went hitless and popped out twice. Raul Ibanez struck out twice, but did have one hit and a walk. Placido Polanco went 1 for 5. But they all picked a good day to have a bad day; with Halladay on the mound and their teammates picking them up, all is well that ends well.
Kyle Kendrick will pitch tomorrow against the Fish; game time is 7:10pm.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography