Tagged: Chad Qualls

The Ups, Downs and All Around of Hunter Pence

This season has been quite a roller coaster ride for Hunter Pence.  And Tuesday’s extra inning win over his old team, the Astros, was a microcosm of his year so far.

Ups – Pence gave the Phillies a 3-0 lead in the 6th inning with a solo home run to right field.  It was the first time in a long time he got ahead of pitch and sent it the other way.  Brian Schneider had a 2-run homer in the 1st inning which accounted for the other 2 runs to that point.

Downs – With a 3-1 score in the 9th, thanks to 8 amazing innings pitched from Cliff Lee, the wheels began to fall off.  Chad Qualls did his Jekyll and Hyde routine again, giving up hits left and right.  But even after the Astros crept closer, cutting the lead to 3-2, Hunter Pence had another bad moment.

On a single to right with a man on third, Pence fielded the ball nicely, freezing the runner.  But after he exchanged the ball to his hand, it fell out off his hand, bounced off his knee and skidded away, allowing the run to score and tie the game.  This is a really original error; I have never seen anything like it.

All Around – What comes around, goes around, or so they say.  And luckily for Pence, the game came full circle as he was given a chance to redeem himself in the 10th inning.  The walk-off homer he smashed to left was made even more sweet by the fact that it came off a pitch from former Phillie, and Pence’s former teammate, Brett Myers.  Ah, redemption!

The one thing I can tell you about Pence for sure is that he is not boring.  As far as what may be in store for Pence next, I do not think even he knows….toss a coin.

The Phillies are in Chicago next for 2 games starting tonight at 8:05pm against the CubsVance Worley stayed in Philly to have a sore elbow checked out so Kyle Kendrick will start instead.  There has been no word on Worley’s condition yet…stay tuned.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Polanco’s 2000th Hit Helps Phillies Win

The Phillies Monday night 5-1 win over the Astros was full of hopeful signs.  A little at a time, things are getting better for this team, which is currently still in last place in the NL East.

Starting pitcher Joe Blanton had another great outing, making us all wonder where this guy has been all these years.  He has transformed from Average Joe to “I have an ERA under 3.00” Joe.  Over 7 innings, Blanton allowed only 1 run on 6 hits and a walk.

Things got shaky in the top of the 8th when he allowed that one run via a solo homer and then gave up a single.  Manager Charlie Manuel, not wanting to ruin and otherwise great start, pulled Blanton and let the pen take over.  Blanton was visibly surprised at the move, but ultimately, it was for the best.              

In the meantime, the Phillies offense showed signs of life.  Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry Jr. remain hot at the plate, each collecting 2 hits on the night.  Rookie Freddy Galvis is finally catching on and had 3 hits plus 2 RBI.

But the best moment of the night came in the bottom of the 8th when Placido Polanco added his 2000th career hit in grand fashion.  The 2-run homer was probably the best situation he could have imagined for this milestone.  Congrats to Polly on this historic accomplishment!

And perhaps the back end of the Phillies bullpen is also getting into the swing of things.  Antonio Bastardo, Chad Qualls and Jonathan Papelbon combined to close out the 8th and 9th innings and secure the win.  Bastardo even provided his team with some comic relief as he hopped off the mound with enthusiasm thinking the inning was over when there were actually only 2 outs.  Bastardo grinned as his teammates poked fun at him while he sauntered back to the mound.

It is nice to see this team finally having some fun out there.  Winning certainly helps, but if they can keep their spirits up as well, that may go a long way towards digging their season out of the basement.

Game 2 with the Astros starts early today at 1:05pm.

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Offense Squanders Another Solid Halladay Start

Against the Padres Saturday night, Roy Halladay put forth another great effort.  Through 7 innings, he allowed only 2 runs while working in and out of trouble.  This was the Halladay we are all used to seeing.

Unfortunately, the Phillies offense was also the one we are all used to seeing recently.  John Mayberry Jr. and Freddy Galvis teamed up in the 2nd to score the Phillies only run.  Shane Victorino had 3 hits and a walk, but little to show for it as he kept getting stranded on base.

The Phillies loaded the bases a number of times in this game and got nothing out of it.  Hunter Pence was one of the worst offenders; he struck out once and popped up when there was only 1 out in the inning and a sac fly would have scored a run.  Ty Wigginton was just as bad.  He came up to bat twice with the bases loaded; he flew out once and grounded out once.

Pence, who hit .314 last year, has been awful in 2012.  When asked about it, Charlie Manuel told reporters, “Now, what we do about it, I don’t know. You wouldn’t call him a disciplined hitter. He’s unorthodox. He’s the kind of guy who, if he sees it and thinks he can hit it, he swings at it. Right now you’ve got to kind of accept that and hope he gets good balls to hit.”

Really?  The answer is to accept that he swings at crap pitches and pray he stops getting crap pitches?  At this point, pitchers do not ever have to throw Pence a strike…ever.  He will swing at anything.  If someone tossed a pitch to the top of City Hall, he’d probably swing at that too.

Tonight, the Padres even walked Victorino to load the bases with one out and face Pence instead.  Pence did not disappoint the Padres as he popped up the first crap pitch he saw.

If Manuel is looking for answers. here is one: bench him.  I like Pence; he seems like a quality guy.  But if he is hurting the team, he needs to sit until he learns some discipline.  Put Juan Pierre and Mayberry at the corners and give Pence time to think about it.

So it came down to a 2-1 deficit in the 9th, which for this team, has seemed to be almost impossible to overcome, especially late in games.  Could the Phillies pull off a come from behind win in the 9th against one of the worst teams in baseball?

Imagine asking that question just last year.  No problem, right?  This year, not so much.  So as expected, the Phillies went down in the 9th and took the 2-1 loss.  And you will never guess who struck out for the last out with a man on 3rd…Hunter Pence.

Game 3 with the Padres will be at 1:35pm Sunday and I will return with photos.  I’d also like to wish all the Mom’s out there a Happy Mother’s Day!  I am hoping the Phillies can make our day with a win!  If not, I suppose flowers will have to do ;o)

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Pence photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Lehigh Valley Train Keeps Rolling as Phillies Finally Win a Game

Falling behind fast in the NL East, the Phillies were more than due for a team shake up which began on Thursday.  Over the course of almost 3 days here is who is in and who is out:

COMING IN FROM LEHIGH VALLEY:

LHP Jake Diekman, 25 years old (no major league experience), LHP Raul Valdes, 34 years old (2 years in majors, 6 in minors), Third baseman Hector Luna, 32 years old (parts of 7 years in majors out of 11 years total), 2nd and 3rd baseman Mike Fontenot, 31 years old (6th season in majors out of 8).

OUTTA HERE:

LHP Joe Savery (to Lehigh Valley), RHP Michael Schwimer (to Lehigh Valley when Cliff Lee came off the DL), RHP Brian Sanches (to Lehigh Valley), Catcher Erik Kratz (to Lehigh Valley), Outfielder Laynce Nix (to the 15-day DL with a strained left calf), Oufielder Scott Podsednik (to the Boston Red Sox for cash).

Is your head spinning yet?  Here is an analogy for you: Remember years ago when people joked that McDonalds chicken McNuggets were “pieces parts?”  You had no idea if you ate one what exact part or grade of chicken you might be getting.  That is now the Philadelphia Phillies.  They are going to toss out onto the field some “pieces parts” and see what happens.  Just call them the “McPhillies.”

Last night’s version of the McPhillies actually tasted ok.  Thanks to 3-RBI nights and home runs from both Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry Jr., things worked out well and ended in a 7-3 win.  Freddy Galvis added an RBI as well with a double in the 6th inning.

It appears that Galvis is getting a little better at the plate everyday, which is great news.  And Mayberry has a 4-game hitting streak going, which means maybe he is out of the slump.  That would be huge for this team because Mayberry can add some real power if he keeps going well.

Vance Worley had a quality start with 3 runs allowed in 6 innings.  So the bullpen was going to have to hold the Padres to those 3 runs, which they have been unable to do in many games now.  But magically, both Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls decided they like their jobs and pitched pretty well.  I say magic, but perhaps it was the oncoming lights of the Lehigh Valley train that inspired them?

Whatever it was, it’s a win and we’ll take it.  Can the new McPhillies pull off 2 wins in a row?  We shall see…game time tonight is 7:05pm.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Dead Last

I am not sure which word in my article title is more disturbing; “dead” or “last.”  If you haven’t looked at the NL East standings lately, take a moment to prepare yourself for the worst.  The Phillies are dead last and the only team in the division that is playing under .500 baseball.

At the start of the year, we all figured they might snap out of it but that is just not happening.  They just plain suck.  And that fact was no more evident than last night against the Mets in a 7-4 loss after leading by 4 runs at the start of the game.

Here is what we have learned about this Phillies team recently:  They cannot hold a lead.  The bullpen stinks.  The offense is schizophrenic; you never know what might happen next.  Wikipedia defines schizophrenia as “…disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction.”  That about sums it up.

The Phillies took a quick 4-run lead in this game, thanks in part to a Hunter Pence 2-run homer.  John Mayberry Jr. had 2 hits and is starting to find his swing.  But that is where the good new ends.

Joe Blanton left the game with 2 outs in the 7th inning and 2 runners on base.  Then Chad Qualls punched him in the gut by allowing both runs to score.  Adding to the disaster, Pete Orr botched a play at second base, which led to the Mets to taking a 5-4 lead.

Late in games, a one run deficit seems almost impossible to overcome for this team.  So as if that were not bad enough, reliever Michael Schwimer added 2 more Mets runs in the 8th.  That was the nail in the coffin.

You could not even change channels last night for some relief. The Flyers lost and were ousted from the playoffs.  The Sixers lost and have to play again on Thursday.  There was no escape…it was a very bad day for Philly sports.

But the drama continues tonight as the Phillies will attempt to salvage one lousy game from the lousy Mets.  Ugh.  Cliff Lee will come off the DL and pitch starting at 7:05pm…he is our only hope for a win :O(

 

 

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Phillies Hit The Road on a Positive Note

In the finale of a 4-game series with the Cubs, the Phillies got off to a hot start with 4 runs in the first inning.  Having already lost 2 games in this series, it was imperative for this team to get going quickly. But after those 4 runs, the offense went to sleep again.

Vance Worley pitched 7 strong innings while the offense napped.  He allowed only 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks.  The Phillies took the 4-1 lead into the 8th inning as the bullpen took over.

Sadly, no lead seems very safe with this team.  Such was the case as Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls combined to blow the 3-run lead.  Bastardo walked his second batter and Qualls gave up a single to score that run and then added a 2-run homer shortly after.

With the game then tied, the Phillies needed that sleeping offense to wake up.  But the way things have been going lately, it seemed unlikely.  It was going to take a small miracle…or at least a clutch hit.

When you find yourself cheering because the first batter of the inning, Juan Pierre, got hit by a pitch, you know things have not been going well.  And when you begin to hope that maybe the pitcher will hit the next 3 batters so you can score a run, things have gone from bad to worse.

But instead of getting hit, the Phillies actually got a few hits.  With 2 outs and Pierre on first, Jimmy Rollins singled to move Pierre to third.  And then the real hero stepped to the plate and proved he has still got the bat to go with his glove.  Placido Polanco smashed a double to left that scored both Pierre and Rollins.  It was the first time this year that the Phillies were able to take a lead in their final at-bat.

The Phillies went on to a 6-4 victory, thanks to Polly’s timely hit.  Even better, it does appear that Polanco is healthy again after 2 hernia issues the previous year.

Going back on the road against the Braves and Nationals, who are leading the division, it was important to start on a positive note.  With any luck, the Phillies may be able to start digging themselves out of this hole and April’s losing record.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Phillies Find Runs in Arizona

After 3 straight ugly losses, the Phillies finally found some runs in the Arizona desert against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.  Like a dying man searching for water, each player drug his tired body to the plate and kept trying until they succeeded.

The offensive outburst included 8 runs with 3 home runs, a double and a triple.  That is a far cry from the pitiful one-run or no run games the Phillies have been producing lately.  But the question now is, was this run explosion the real deal or just a desert mirage?

A quick look at the stats show the Phillies are not out of trouble just yet.  For example, Jimmy Rollins went hitless…again.  And half of the Phillies hits and 5 of 8 RBI’s were collected by bench players.  Laynce Nix had a huge night with 2 hits and 3 RBI, including a home run; and Pete Orr went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI.

But some of the regulars stepped up as well.  Hunter Pence missed the last game with a sore shoulder.  But on Tuesday night, he smashed a 2-run homer.  Maybe he should hurt his shoulder more often?  Ok, maybe not…

As for the pitching, Vance Worley was spectacular again.  He went 6 innings allowing only 1 run.  The bullpen, on the other hand, had some issues.  Jose Contreras bombed in the 7th, allowing 3 runs right after the Phillies had a 3-run inning.  That is the equivalent of a mortal sin in bullpen terms.

Then in the 8th, Chad Qualls committed the same sin, allowing one run after the Phillies had just scored one in the top of the inning.  It was the first run Qualls has allowed so far this year, so he is forgiven ;o)

Regardless, a win is a win and this one was HUGE for a struggling team that is trying to dig themselves out of a hole early in the season.  Game 3 with the D-Backs is early today; 3:40pm.  Cole Hamels will pitch.

 

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