After a devastating loss on Wednesday, the Phillies have bounced back in the next series, winning their first 2 games against the Cubs. Friday’s game was a 7-2 score and today they won 2-0 as Cliff Lee stunned the Cubbies.
Lee was able to lower his horrible 14.40 Opening Day ERA to only 6.00 with this 7 inning effort. So all is well again with the Phillies ace…yeah!
And the offense is not too shabby to start the season. Chase Utley is absolutely on fire after a very slow Spring Training. In the last 2 games, Utley has 5 hits and 4 RBI including 2 home runs. He also hit his 300th career double today and ended the game just a triple shy of the cycle.
Domonic Brown has also come to life with 4 hits, 2 walks and 3 RBI in these 2 games, plus ZERO strikeouts. Nada. That alone tells me he is in the zone.
Another interesting note is that we are learning some things about the Phillies manager, Ryne Sandberg, early in the season. First, he is totally in love with Jake Diekman. Diekman has pitched in 4 out of 5 games so far this season while fellow reliever Brad Lincoln has yet to throw a pitch. Justin DeFratus has pitched 1 inning and Jeff Manship has thrown exactly 2 pitches total.
Sandberg says he is trying to establish who fits in which spots in the bullpen. By the way, is that not what Spring Training was for? Just saying. And if he is looking for good fits, does this mean those 3 pitchers that have not been or barely been used do not “fit” anywhere? Hmmmm…
We have also learned that Sandberg is not totally sold on Roberto Hernandez. In Friday’s game, Hernandez appeared to be cruising in the 6th inning when, after one out was recorded, Sandberg pulled him and put in Diekman. Hernandez had given up 2 runs in the first 5 innings, but his pitch count was low (73). That was a weird move.
One last thing I like to mention about today’s game…Jonathan Papelbon saved a game! Miracles never cease! Yes, that comment is dripping with sarcasm. When he saves 3 or 4 in a row with minimal drama, I will curb my smart remarks. Until then, congrats Pap! You live to fight another day!
Can the Phillies sweep this series? Hope so! Game 3 is Sunday at 2:20pm and A.J. Burnett will pitch.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies first game of the regular season began with a bang to the tune of 14 runs on 17 hits including 3 homers, one of which was a Grand Slam. It was a record-setting day on many levels.
First, Phillies ace Cliff Lee allowed 8 earned runs and still got the win. That is only the 8th time in MLB history that a pitcher gave up 8 runs in at least 5 innings and still won. It is also only the 3rd time in history that happened on Opening Day.
Then in his first Opening Day start, Cody Asche ended the game just a triple short of the cycle. With his parents looking on, Asche had a career day with 3 hits, 2 RBI including a solo homer, a walk and 4 runs scored.
But the biggest day record-wise was had by Jimmy Rollins who belted a Grand Slam in the 2nd inning, marking his 200th career homer. That home run made him only the 19th player in baseball history to have 400 or more doubles, 100 or more triples and 200 or more home runs in a career. He also tied a record with Cal Ripken Jr. for 14 consecutive Opening Day starts at shortstop with the same team.
Rollins may have had some extra inspiration yesterday as he is on baby-watch. His wife Johari is expecting their second child any minute now. Rollins stayed an extra day in Philly in case she went into labor and then joined the team in Texas on Sunday night, one day after the team arrived.
Records aside, many Phillies had big days in this game. Both Chase Utley and Ben Revere had 3 hits, Marlon Byrd went 2-for-6 with a solo homer and Ryan Howard had 2 hits and a walk. Maybe the biggest hit of the day, besides the grand slam, was a pinch hit 2-run double in the 5th inning by John Mayberry Jr. In his first big move of the season, manager Ryne Sandberg had a gut feeling to switch Junior’s; Mayberry Jr. in place of Tony Gwynn Jr. That double broke a 7-7 tie and propelled the Phillies to the win with some much needed momentum.
While I do not think the Phillies are going to score 14 runs again soon, this was an uplifting start the season. Enjoy it! Tonight, A.J. Burnett will make his Phillies debut; game time is 8:05pm.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies have announced their Opening Day roster and were few surprises. Here is how it worked out:
Pitchers (12): Right-handers A.J. Burnett, Justin De Fratus, Roberto Hernandez, Kyle Kendrick, Brad Lincoln, Jeff Manship, Jonathan Papelbon and B.J. Rosenberg and left-handers Antonio Bastardo, Jake Diekman, Mario Hollands and Cliff Lee.
Catchers (2): Wil Nieves and Carlos Ruiz.
Infielders (6): Cody Asche, Cesar Hernandez, Ryan Howard, Jayson Nix, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.
Outfielders (5): Domonic Brown, Marlon Byrd, Tony Gwynn Jr., John Mayberry Jr. and Ben Revere.
They also resigned Ronny Cedeno to a minor league deal so he will be at Triple-A until he is needed. And Jayson Nix, brother of former Phillies Laynce Nix, was signed a few days ago and put on the roster as an extra infielder.
Also of note, the Phillies will begin with only 4 starting pitchers as, due to off days, that is all they will need the first few weeks of the season. Relief pitcher Mario Hollands was a bit of a surprise to make the roster as he has pitched in only 3 games above Double-A ball (2012, AAA Iron Pigs). But he was impressive in camp; he will be interesting to watch.
The final spring tune-up on Sunday was canceled due to rain L That was a bummer as I was hoping to meet some of the new players before the game. So I wound up going to the 76ers game instead later that night.
The Sixers finally broke their 26-game losing streak in a dominating performance over the Detroit Pistons. And that win prevented them from becoming the all-time worst team in all major sports. Instead, they are tied. But still worse than the 1961 Phillies, so that is an achievement.
Sixers fans were so relieved, with 5 minutes left in the game, chants of “Thank You Detroit” rang out all over the stadium. Nicely done, Philly fans.
As for the Phillies, Cliff Lee will take the mound in Texas tomorrow against the Rangers for 2014 Opening Day. Finally, some real baseball! Game time is 2:05pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
It’s official – The Phillies announced today that Ryne Sandberg is no longer the “interim” manager. He has been signed to a 3-year deal, with a club option for a 4th year. With a new manager in place, everyone was smiling and laughing before the game.
But the smiles faded as the day wore on. It is a shame the Phillies could not scrape out a win for Sandberg today; they got swept by the Mets in a 3-game series.
For the first 3 innings, Cliff Lee was so sharp, it looked like he may pitch a no-hitter. But he ran into trouble in the 4th inning and allowed a run. He wound up allowing 2 runs over 7 innings, which is still great, but only helpful if the offense does its part.
At the plate, the Phillies left too many runners on base (8) and went 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position. There were a few amusing moments, like when Cliff Lee swung the bat so hard, it split in two, even though he did not hit the ball (see photo). And Chase Utley apparently got a big chuckle out of the Mets pick-off attempt.
There were also many adventures in the outfield with balls played off the wall that could have been caught, Domonic Brown bobbling a ball which allowed an extra run to score and the Phanatic lost his shirt again.
And in the end, the Phillies could not muster a win. I suppose that was a fitting end to the home games in a sad 2013 season.
Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game, including pre-game shots.
The Phillies go to Miami on Monday for the second-to-last series of the year. Game time is 7:10pm.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The 6th inning of Sunday’s Phillies – Tigers game was officially the worst baseball I have ever seen in my life. In fact, there is no point in even discussing the rest of the game that resulted in a 4-12 Phillies loss. This team has fallen far into the deepest recesses of hell…
That one hellish inning included 3 Phillies errors, 8 runs scored by the Tigers, all of which were unearned, a Tigers grand slam and 2 runs scored on walks. Rookie Steve Susdorf committed one of the three errors in his first major league start; this was a day he’d probably like to forget, along with the rest of us.
Veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins described it best after the game, telling reporters, “That was embarrassing. … If there’s a bottom, this has to be it. I can’t imagine things getting worse than they have this past week, culminating the way they did today.”
And although the trade deadline is just days away, I cannot imagine the Phillies will get much of a return on anyone they plan to dump. Jonathan Papelbon has done his best to ruin any chances of the Phils getting a good return for him in a trade. His salary is ridiculous, his attitude is deplorable and he has blown 5 saves in the last month and a half. He is worth nothing in a trade at this point, unless a team is desperate.
And frankly, nearly everyone else on this team has rendered themselves useless in a trade after this horrific 8-game losing streak.
So what do the Phillies do in the midst of watching this franchise ship sink? They spend $48 million on an unproven Cuban defector. The Phillies signed right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a six-year deal with incentives that could push the total salary to nearly $60 million.
I liken this move to what someone with a gambling addiction does…keep betting higher, despite a long, ugly string of losses (ie: Ryan Howard’s extension, Chad Qualls, releasing Jason Grilli, trading Cliff Lee, Papelbon, etc…). Ruben Amaro Jr. is still gambling away this team’s future and it is hard to watch. I hope I am wrong. Maybe this guy is worth every penny of that $48 million. But with a track record of contract busts, the odds are not in favor of the Phillies.
Welcome to Hell, Phillies fans.
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
In their 4th consecutive loss on Wednesday night, I do believe the Phillies finally rolled over and died. They did not just lose 4 games, they were slaughtered in the ugliest and most painful manner possible.
Every problem this team has had this season was glaring in last night’s 3-11 drubbing, courtesy of the Cardinals. It was a proverbial highlight reel of all that is wrong with the 2013 Phillies. First, the starting pitching has been wildly inconsistent. John Lannan had 2 solid outings in his last few attempts; but last night, he was run out of the game after only 4 innings with 4 runs allowed. In the 4th inning, Lannan walked the opposing pitcher who then proceeded to steal second base and score after a single from the next batter.
Next, the defense was pitiful. John Mayberry Jr. summed up 2013 defense with a Little League play in the 5th inning that allowed 3 runs to score. He dove for a ball that he had zero chance at catching in the air, only to watch the ball sail past him into deep center field.
And then there was the awful bullpen performance. J.C. Ramirez allowed 5 runs in one inning of work. Jake Diekman added 2 more for the Cardinals in the 8th.
And how about that offense? What offense, you may ask yourself. Exactly. The Phillies have scored 4 runs total in their last 3 games.
But the whipped topping on this sh@!! sundae has got to be all of the injuries. Domonic Brown was pulled from the line-up with concussion symptoms. Ben Revere, the hottest hitter in June and July, went down earlier this month with a broken foot due to a foul ball. Ryan Howard is out with knee issues. Roy Halladay is recovering from shoulder surgery. And the list goes on…
The trade deadline is less than a week away. If GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has half a brain, he will begin selling as many players as he can and give this team some hope for the future. And if he wants anyone to attend games for the rest of the year, he should scratch Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee off any possible trade list. Anyone of the other veterans are fair game, in my humble opinion.
In the meantime, all we can do is wait for the hammer to fall…
Remember back on Friday night when the Phillies pounded the Mets to the tune of 13 runs? Remember all those hits and homers? Ah, memories…
Now back to reality…and reality has hit the Phillies hard this weekend as they dropped 2 games out of 3 to the Mets. Saturday’s game was winnable, but Cole Hamels floundered again and the offense blew many opportunities. Sunday’s game was an utter disaster that marked the Phillies 9th time being shut-out this year.
Pitcher Cliff Lee was, once again, killed by the long ball. The 5 Mets’ runs came off 2 homers and both were hit with 2 outs in the inning. With All-Star game starter Matt Harvey on the mound for the Mets, Lee did not stand a chance unless he controlled the long ball, which he did not.
The Phillies offense was just as awful; they managed only 3 hits off Harvey and piled up 12 strikeouts. Domonic Brown got the Golden Sombrero with 4 K’s in the game. Was it not just 2 days ago this team scored 13 runs? After their performance on Sunday, you would never imagine this was the same group of guys.
Granted, Harvey is one of the best pitchers in the game right now. But the 12 K’s tells you that the Phillies could not even manage to make contact with the ball. Zero walks then equals zero patience at the plate as well. It was just plain ugly.
And now the Phillies are once again in limbo as management decides whether or not they have any shot at all at making the playoffs. Personally, I do not see it happening. This team has lacked consistency all season long; they have too many injuries and no sense of urgency. But since both the Braves and the Nationals went cold this weekend as well, the Phillies did not lose or gain any ground in the division. And that will make the decision to buy or sell before the trade deadline even more difficult.
Then again, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. may already have made up his mind after this weekend’s performance. And certainly no one can blame him if he goes into sell-mode. This team has not given anyone any real reason to hope, especially after their 2 best pitchers bombed on back-to-back nights.
The Phillies are off today before starting a 3-game series with the Cardinals on Tuesday. The Cards have the best record in the majors…and that is not good news for the Phillies.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography