This team is fun to watch; you never know what is going to happen next. Notching their 10th win in a row after a 13 inning pitching knock-down, drag-out fight, the Phillies enter this afternoon’s game with a 6 ½ game lead in the NL East.
Joe Blanton was as good as you could ask for in a starting pitcher, going 7 innings and allowing only 1 run while striking out 5 batters. The problem was that the Cubs pitcher, Rich Harden, was just as good. Former teammates, the pair looked determined to duke it out on the diamond. The result ended in a draw and the bullpens continued the fight through 13 innings.
Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Chan Ho Park and Clay Condrey combined for 6 scoreless innings to give the Phillies a chance at winning the match.
Lidge contributed in a very unique way in the 9th inning when a little soccer action helped him out. With a runner on first and one out, Lidge needed a double play to end the inning. The next batter lined a ball up the middle and away from Lidge’s glove, so Lidge kicked the ball towards second and it landed right in the glove of Jimmy Rollins who turned two easily. Brad Lidge: Part man, part Pele.
But the big kick came off the bat of Jayson Werth; with 2 out in the lucky 13th inning, Werth blasted a ball over the left field wall to score 3 runs and win the game.
The Phillies will try to sweep the Cubs this afternoon with an early 1:05pm start. Jamie Moyer will take on the emotional, and usually entertaining, Carlos Zambrano. Talk about polar opposites…this should be another good one to watch!
The Phillies season is slowly, but surely, circling the drain. With 11 losses in 13 games, injuries piling up and even the steady Cole Hamels beginning to lose his cool, this season is quickly working its way into the crapper.
Hamels had a very bad 5th inning against the Jays, but the umpire did him no favors with the inconsistent strike zone. Still, after giving up 3 runs in the 5th and 1 prior to that in the 4th, Hamels was at the end of his rope. Charlie Manuel pulled him from the game and as he walked off the mound, he gave an earful to the home plate ump who tossed him from the game. It was the 1st player ejection for the Phillies of the season, although technically, he was out of the game already.
But the frustration from Hamels was just a microcosm of how the past several weeks have panned out for this team. Bad breaks, bad hitting and even worse mental mistakes have led the Phillies down a dark and treacherous path. Fans everywhere are waiting for a tornado to tear down the stadium; that is simply how bad it has been.
The Phillies offense did not record a hit until the 7th inning when Chase Utley singled. Right before that, they saw yet another pitcher run out of the game early with an injury. Chan Ho Park appeared to get hit by a batted ball in the knee and went down screaming in pain. It was not pretty:
With Clay Condrey and Scott Eyre still on the DL; Brett Myers lost for the season and Brad Lidge just returning, Park going down is a serious kick in the gut. Not to mention, still no Raul Ibanez and Jimmy Rollins continues sit on the bench for a “mental” break.
Well, speaking of Lidge, Manuel decided to get him some work today, despite being down 0-4. Lidge, in the non-save situation, did not fare well. He gave up 2 runs on 2 hits and 2 walks in only 1/3 of an inning. Welcome back, Brad?? Ugh. Just one more bummer in an already disastrous situation.
And the road to hell continues in Canada again tomorrow. JA Happ will take the mound at 1:07pm and pray for a miracle…
TV photos by Jenn
The losing streak, 6 long, depressing games, is finally over! And the cure to what ails the Phillies? You guessed it – Road Trip! Landing in Tampa to play their 2008 World Series foes, the Phillies rolled right over the Tampa Bay Rays tonight. Notching 6 runs in the first half of the 1st inning set the tone for the game. Some good pitching, lots of hitting, a few home runs and a trio of Rays errors got the job done.
Jamie Moyer put forth a great effort tonight and allowed just one run in 6 innings of work; he struck out 4, walked 3 and allowed 5 hits. Former Phillie, Pat Burrell, was mystified by his old teammate, going 0-2 with a walk against Moyer. Sorry Pat – and yes, we still miss your presence :O(
As for the offense, Chase Utley was on fire tonight! He went 3 for 5 with a single, double and a home run, driving in 4 runs. Shane Victorino joined the Utley-Show with 2 hits, 2 walks and an RBI. The rookie, John Mayberry, stood out tonight as well with a 3-run homer. Yesterday at the Phillies Phestival, Mayberry was told by a fan, “I am glad to see you here in the big leagues!”; Mayberry responded with, “So am I.” He showed his gratitude tonight. Mayberry is now batting .292 with 3 homers and 7 RBI in 24 at-bats.
A few more rookies / new Phillies were given the opportunity to shine tonight, as more players are down with injuries (Condrey put on DL today; Lidge & Eyre still out; Ibanez still out with groin strain). Tyler Walker pitched 2 scoreless innings and then Sergio Escalona handled the 9th; Escalona nailed down the final 3 outs and the Phillies went on to win, 10-1.
In other injury / illness news, Ryan Howard did join the team today after an infection that sidelined him for a few days. Howard served as the DH and went 1 for 4 with a double and an RBI. Great to see Ryan feeling better!
Be sure to check out my PHOTO ALBUM from yesterday’s Phillies Phestival in case you missed it earlier today.
Photos by Jenn
The Phillies held their annual Phestival yesterday to raise money for the search in finding a cure for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Players, their wives, broadcasters and Phillies staff were on hand to sign autographs, play games for prizes with the fans and auction off items for the charity. The Phillies Wives sold grab bags for $20 each which contained a variety of goodies; I wound up with a PILE of fun stuff including a Chase Utley signed hat, given out by Mrs. Utley herself, a Phanatic bobblehead, a few signed balls, a yearbook and other cool items. In addition, I had some of my photos signed by the players to add to my collection.
Cole Hamels wins my Photo of The Day award. He was gracious enough to pose for me, as were many others.
PHOTO ALBUM from the day to see more!
Check out my
PHOTO ALBUM from the day to see more!
The player in highest demand yesterday was none other than RAUUUUUUL Ibanez! And Ryan Howard was absent from the event due to his recent illness, which has been termed “acute sinusitis.” While some fans were disappointed to miss out on a rare Howard autograph, most were more concerned for his health and wished him well. Howard did not travel with the team last night to Florida, but he may fly in before the game tonight. It will depend on how he is feeling.
Overall, the Phestival was a huge success. The money raised surpassed any previous year’s total with $867,670 going to the ALS cause. And as you may imagine, with a World Championship last year, more and more fans were interested in attending. It was crowded as usual, but ran very smoothly, in slight contrast to the previous year, which was a little more hectic. The only real criticism I have is that the Phillies need to put a limit on the number of tickets each person can buy. I saw several people in line to exchange autograph tickets before the gates opened who had stacks of tickets 3 inches high. 2 people told me they had bought 75 tickets and 80 tickets, respectively! So, it is no wonder that many fans this week were complaining about not being able to get autograph tickets…a few greedy people bought them all!
What really burns me up about this is not only that they took away opportunities for more fans to support the charity, but that these people who hoard the autograph tickets are only doing so to make money. They get bunches of autographs and then sell them on E-bay, depriving REAL fans of their chance to meet a few players and get some souvenirs. This year, The Phillies did finally limit the number of tickets you could exchange at the ticket window to 1 per player signing station, which helped. But, they really need to limit the number of tickets sold to one person when they go on sale. 5,500 people showed up, but how many more would have if the tickets were spread out amongst more people? More people = more money for the charity. Maybe next year, they will rethink that part of it.
In other news, Clay Condrey has been placed on the 15-day DL to punch another hole in our already beleaguered bullpen. Condrey has an oblique strain, which may account for his recent struggles. Sergio Escalona will be called up again to take his spot. Condrey was at the Phestival though, signing for the fans, even though he appeared to be just a little bummed out. I wish him a speedy recovery!
Your daily reminder: Be sure to elect the Phillies to the All-Star game! VOTE up to 25 times per day, per email address!
Photos by Jenn
It was a bad, bad, bad day for the Phillies; Raul Ibanez was put on the 15-day disabled list to start it off. He has a strained left groin. Then, a not-so-fun mix of bad pitching and sleepy defense led to a sweep at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays. What’s next? The players get eaten by a swarm of locusts? It’s a famine and plague of biblical proportions.
John Mayberry Jr. was called up to replace Ibanez and he had an interesting day; a home run, an assist to nail a runner at the plate, but he also made a huge mistake by taking his eyes off Scott Rolen who turned a single into a double on the goof and wound up scoring as a result. Then again, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley did the exact same thing earlier in the game to help a Blue Jay advance to second after a walk. And even worse than that, Pedro Feliz committed his 4th error of the year on what should have been an easy double play ball in the 8th inning. That turned Clay Condrey’s day into a real nightmare; Condrey allowed 1 earned run and 1 unearned on 3 hits and a walk without even recording an out. Ouch!
Aside from all that, Joe Blanton continued the trend of Phillies starters totally sucking…he lasted only 5 1/3 innings and allowed 4 runs on 9 hits and a walk. And so the bullpen was sent out there once again to blow the small, one run lead. With their “job” completed and the Jays now having a 7-5 lead, the Phillies came to bat in the bottom of the 8th with the locusts still swarming…
Greg Dobbs, who apparently has no fear of insects, smacked a solo home run to get the game within 1 run. Dobbs passed the torch to Rollins, who hit a double and then Shane Victorino drove him in – game tied, 7-7.
But hey, have no fear Jay’s fans…the bullpen WILL blow it AGAIN! Ryan Madson gave up a solo home run to Rod Barajas, the first batter of the 9th inning, after having him in a 0-2 hole in the count. So the Phillies entered the 9th inning down 8-7.
Utley walked; Ryan Howard (give ya 3 guesses and the 1st two don’t count)….yup! Struck out! Jayson Werth flied out and then Feliz got a base hit. That brought Mayberry to the plate with a chance for the rookie to play the hero – but no such luck. He popped out and that ended an excruciating day for the Phillies. I have nothing left to say except – AAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH! Now please excuse me while I get horribly drunk and pass out…
Dobbs Photo – Jenn
Usually, when Cole Hamels is on the mound for the Phillies, most feel pretty confident about their chances to win. However, the last few times Hamels has taken the mound it had been more of an adventure and less of a slam-dunk. Tonight against the Blue Jays, Hamels went 6 innings and allowed 2 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks. On paper, it looks pretty good; but watching the game was an up and down drama. Hamels struggled with his command, but the Jays were not able to take advantage.
Jimmy Rollins led the game off with a double and after Chase Utley knocked him in to score the first run of the game, the offense appeared to be cooking. But after that, the engines stalled and the Phillies did not score again until Jayson Werth hit a 2-run homer in the 6th.
The 8th inning then turned into a roller coaster ride with a 3-2 lead and JC Romero on the mound. Romero walked the bases loaded, but despite his struggles, he came away unscathed thanks to a nice pop-up from former Phillie, Rod Barajas and a base running mistake by the Jays. The Phillies had no luck scoring in the bottom of the 8th so it was Ryan Madson time. Madson quickly got in a jam with the bases loaded and NO outs. Buckle up, Phils fans – the ride is not yet over.
What goes up, eventually, must come down. And so it went… Madson struck out the next batter but then walked in the tying run after that; another blown save for the Phillies. Well, at least this time it wasn’t Brad Lidge who blew it. So, Barajas came to the plate, and for the 3rd time in the game, he popped the ball up in the middle infield. Thank you, Rod! The next batter struck out and it was on the bottom of the 9th with the game tied, 3-3.
The Phillies failed to score again and the game went into extra innings. Clay Condrey, who has been great this season, began to self-destruct in the 10th. He allowed 3 singles in a row to score a run and then walked another one in with the bases loaded. Then poor Tyler Walker was sent to the mound for his Phillies debut – with the bases loaded and 1 out in the 10th; not the way he imagined breaking into the bigs, I imagine. Walker allowed a sac fly and a double to Barajas, giving the Jays an 8-3 lead. This kid has got to be wondering what he did wrong in a previous life…
So that was the end of that; the Phillies did not score…again; and they lost the game 8-3 after having a 3-2 lead going into the 9th. Another frustrating loss. But the pen cannot dwell on this one…when you fall down, you should get up, and get back on horse. And the Phillies will attempt to do that tonight when they begin game 2 of the Jays series.
Player Photos – Jenn
Raul Ibanez brought the pain to the New York Mets last night with a 3-run shot into the bullpen in the 10th inning. The Phillies win the series in New York, 2 games to 1 and come home with a 7-3 record on this most recent road trip.
Ibanez has been the biggest surprise of the year for this team, bringing the defense to match his offense. In the 4th, Ibanez played a hot shot off the wall and nailed David Wright at 2nd who was trying for a double. From all the way back on the warning track, not only did Ibanez get the ball to Chase Utley without a hop, he placed the toss perfectly so Utley could make an easy tag.
This guy has been like the Incredible Hulk for the Phillies (or the Ibanez Hulk), tossing opponents around as if they were small woodland creatures instead of professional ball players. While leading the majors with 58 RBI’s, slugging percentage (.674) and he is also second in homers with 21, Ibanez has put this team on his back and intends to carry them to the promise land. Could chants of “MVP!” from the fans at the ball park be far behind? Just wait; it’s coming.
And the starting pitching continues to improve as well. Jamie Moyer had another quality start against the Mets, going 6 innings with 3 runs on 8 hits and did not walk anyone. He looked a bit frustrated at times, but he is the master at buckling down and getting it done. The bullpen had another great outing too. Clay Condrey continues to turn heads with his 2.27 ERA and last night he pitched 2 scoreless and hitless innings. Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre took care of business in the 9th and Ryan Madson saved the game in the 10th.
But just when everything is about to click….the Phillies are getting ready to butt heads with the Boston Red Sox who are coming off a 3-game sweep of the Yankees. The Phillies have been extraordinarily bad in inter league play historically; will 2009 be different? Or will the Sox derail the train in Philly? We shall see…
Save A Pet
If you are going to the game tonight, stop by the Save A Pet charity booth which will be located at the first base gate and run by the Phillies Wives. You can adopt an animal in need, donate toys and blankets, and/or purchase a calendar for which the proceeds go to benefit the SPCA. Phillies players were photographed with either their own animals or adoptable pets from the SPCA and the result is a very adorable calendar. You can also buy the calendar online if you are not able to get to the game. I may need to get about 10 copies… :O)
“Minor” Steroid Issue
Pablo Ozuna signed a Minor League contract with the Phillies on Jan. 22 and has since been playing 2nd base for the AAA Iron Pigs. Yesterday, he was suspended 50 games for violating the league’s drug policy with an elevated testosterone level. Prior to this year, he spent a short time with the Dodgers in 2008 and 3 years with the White Sox before that. The Phillies are the 5th team he has played for.
Utley photo: Phillies.com