Tagged: Cubs

The Phillies Team-Wide Recession

The nicest thing I can say about today’s Phillies – Cubs game is that the weather was beautiful.  Unfortunately, that is where the joy ends.

Even the Phillie Phanatic’s birthday celebration was toned down from previous years.  There were fewer mascots, no Zooperstars except a generic monkey and the cake was less than half the size it usually is.  See for yourself…it appears the recession has finally reached the Phanatic birthday bash:

In fact, maybe the entire organization is suffering from a recession.  They accidentally give away runs to other teams for free and cannot score any of their own.  That is a recipe for going broke fast.

Today’s match-up featured Kyle Kendrick vs. Matt Garza.  Guess who won?

Garza sucked what little life was left in the Phillies offense and spat them out like garbage.  The only action the Phillies bats saw was a parade of foul balls:

Jimmy Rollins got a hit to start the game and that was it for the whole team until the 9th inning when Hunter Pence added a bookend hit.  The only run they scored was also in the 9th and came from a bases-loaded walk.

The defense was just as awful.  Here is Laynce Nix impersonating a really bad first baseman:

I say impersonating because he is an outfielder who played a total of 9 games at first base in a 9-year career before joining the Phillies.

And Pence added to the mayhem by overrunning another ball in right field which led to a run for the Cubs.  That is 3 straight games that Pence has made the same mistake.  I am confused by this…how about you?

And here is a play at the play where, according to my photo, it appears Brian Schneider tags the runner about a foot before the plate.  I did not see the TV replay, so maybe the photo is deceptive, but who knows:

Either way, it was just one more crappy moment in another crappy Phillies game.  This was officially one of the worst Phillies games I have ever seen in person.  The 5-1 loss also guarantees the Phils a losing record in April after dropping 2 out of 3 games so far to the second WORST team in the entire national league.  Depressed yet?

No worries…there is always tomorrow (please note my sarcasm here).  Feel free to add your own sarcastic comments as well.  At least we can all vent together ;O)

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.  I assure you, my photos are more entertaining than this team is right now.  You’re welcome.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Chooch Gets The Phillies Train Chugging Again

Carlos Ruiz has very quietly been one of the best catchers in baseball over the past several years.  Calling games for guys like Roy Halladay, catching no hitter’s and backing his team with key hits, Chooch never seems to get the credit he deserves.

But Phillies fans know that Chooch is the man.  Last night Ruiz helped pitcher Joe Blanton get through 7 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs and striking out 8 batters.  Blanton looked really sharp and Ruiz was his usual, awesome self.

Leading the team with 3 RBI in the 5-2 victory over the Cubs, Ruiz also showed his toughness.  After getting nailed in the knee with a foul ball in the 6th inning and writhing in pain, only minutes later, Ruiz smashed a home run to left to add an insurance run for the Phillies.  There is nothing this guy would not do for his team.

The 2 hits by Ruiz were key in the game, as the Phillies had only 4 other hits for a total of 6 in the game.  3 of the remaining 4 hits were doubles, including a 2-run shot by Jimmy Rollins.  After an awful start to the season, we can only hope that hit gets J-Roll rolling again.

Manager Charlie Manuel shuffled the line-up last night with Rollins in the lead-off spot.  But aside from the 1 hit, the change of scenery did not help much and Juan Pierre is doing very well in that spot.  Pierre will likely return to the top of the line-up today.  But do expect several more line-up shake-ups as Manuel tinkers to find something that works for this offense.

Also of note last night was Jim Thome leaving the game early with back soreness.  Batting only .111 in 18 at-bats so far, this is going to raise more questions about whether or not Thome can still be a productive player this late in his career.  Currently, Thome is listed as day-to-day.

Game 3 with the Cubs starts this afternoon at 1:35pm.  See you at the game!

 

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Ruiz Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Back to Bad

It looks like the run explosion from the Phillies offense in Arizona was really just a desert mirage after all.  Because against the Cubs tonight, they went right back to their losing ways.

The game started out promising with runners on first and third with no outs.  But that short, 5 minute elation was squashed quickly by two straight pop-ups from Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence plus a ground out from Shane Victorino.  Those three hitters, the core of the Phillies current line-up, combined to go 0-for-12 on the night.

And that first inning set the tone.  The only run the Phillies scored was a solo homer from Ty Wigginton.  If you had told me at the start of the season that Wigginton would be the Phillies best hitter, I would have said that this team was in really big trouble.  Wigginton was acquired to be a bench guy.  But because he is the only one hitting, he is now a starter, batting .327 with a 12-game hitting streak.

And that is where the good news ends.

Roy Halladay had a little trouble tonight, but he still only allowed 3 runs over 7 innings.  It was certainly enough for a win.

By the ninth inning, down 3-1, the Phillies defense added to the disaster as well.  Pence over ran a ball, allowing a Cubs run to score.  Then Rollins followed suit, missing a ground ball and another run scored.  Knowing this offense was already dead in the water, those plays sealed the deal and the Phils lost by a 5-1 score.

This is such a disheartening loss that I cannot imagine what to say at this point.  So, I will go with….Go Flyers!  Yeah, it is that bad.  I have resorted to hockey.  *Sigh*

Game 2 with the Cubs: 7:05pm Saturday.

 

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Happy Bunny by Jim Benton

 

Phillies Offense Finally on a Roll…

In the last two games, the Phillies have scored a total of 15 runs.  Since the start of the season, it did not look like that sort of run production was ever going to happen.  But Wednesday’s 7-2 win over the Diamondbacks may actually signal the awakening of this offense.

Cole Hamels certainly helped the situation with another great start, putting the Phillies in position to win.  Through 8 strong innings, Hamels allowed only 2 runs on 4 hits and struck out 7 batters.  He also lit things up at the plate with a 2-run single in the 6th inning.

This game was a real team effort, with everyone in the line-up contributing, even if it was just a sacrifice to move runners.  The biggest stand-out though was Placido Polanco who looked like the player of old.  He was on base after every at bat with 3 hits, 2 walks and an RBI.

Carlos Ruiz also had a 3-hit game and Hunter Pence collected 2 hits.  Now if the Phillies can just get Jimmy Rollins going, this might actually be a descent line-up again.

Thursday is an off-day with a 4-game home series beginning with the Cubs on Friday.  You know what the cure for a suffering offense is?  That’s right…the Cubs.  Cross your fingers…

Injury Updates:

As you may have heard, relief pitcher Mike Stutes is on the DL.  He has not looked the like the vibrant pitcher he was since about the final month of last season.  While this is concerning, his replacement, Michael Schwimer looked very sharp in Wednesday’s win.

As for Ryan Howard, he is still taking it easy.  But his wound is finally healing which means he may be able to start real baseball activity within the next week.

And my favorite topic of discussion, Chase Utley: Reportedly, Utley is feeling no knee pain while batting and some pain while fielding.  He took batting practice in Arizona with the team and many were encouraged by his swing.  However, here is a word of caution about all the optimism…

As a person with chronic knee issues, worse that what Utley has, I can tell you this; I also feel no pain while swinging a bat…ok, in my knees at least ;o)  The joint rotation does not bother me.  However, running and anything involving impact, like chasing ground balls, is a whole other story.

I have not been able to play serious baseball since I was 16 years old after blowing out both my knees.  But it was not because I could not still hit; it was because I could not run.  All these years later, I can still hit, but I still cannot run and never will.  Are you following my thought process here?

Granted, I have worse issues that Utley.  But my point is, yes, he looks good hitting.  But the real test will be impact movements, like running.  The fact that Utley still has some pain while fielding is not a good sign.  Running is generally more strenuous than fielding due to the repetition of the impact on the knees.  So if it is hard to field, running will only make that worse.

I am a huge Chase Utley fan and I would love nothing more than to see him get better and back to his old self.  However, all of this makes me very nervous.  If he comes back too early, he can do more damage to his knees.  But we all want him to come back sooner than later and I am sure he does as well.

So be optimistic; but be cautiously optimistic.

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Home Field Clinched Despite Another Loss

Even though they lost 4-3 to the Cardinals on Monday night, the Phillies still managed to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs thanks to the Braves losing to the Cubs.  This team is so good, it seems they can literally do nothing and succeed.

However, this series with the Cardinals also showed that the Phillies have some work to do on offense.  They clinched the NL East title against the Cards, but lost the other three games.  On Monday night, Roy Halladay did not have his best stuff and the Phillies bats did nothing to help him out.

Halladay wound up spotting the Cards two runs in the first inning as his pitch location was off.  He gave up two more runs for four total over eight innings.  Halladay also walked four batters, which is unusual for the potential Cy-Young candidate.

While it was not Roy’s day, it was not a good day for the bats either.  The Phillies only run through eight innings was basically handed to them after a Cardinals error.  They left the bases loaded with less than two outs…again.  In total, 10 men were left on base.

The Phillies attempted a rally in the 9th inning, which was nice to see, but they still fell short.  A double from Carlos Ruiz followed by a triple from Jimmy Rollins led to two more runs.  The triple was the 100th of Rollins’ career. 

But the rally ended after Hunter Pence grounded out with Chase Utley on first.  The fact that the team did not give up until the final out was refreshing, but there are still some lingering questions about this offense being unable to score with runners on base.

Ryan Howard is out of the line-up, probably for most of the week after getting a cortisone shot in his ankle.  Shutting him down now instead of in the playoffs is wise.  Hopefully, he come back rested and feeling better after dealing with bursitis in his foot and ankle all year.

Howard’s return should be a boost for the offense, but the Phillies really have nothing left to play for.  The division is wrapped up, home field is wrapped up and they have 10 games to go.  However, it would be nice to see them win 100 games and even better if they can break the franchise record of 101 wins in a season, set in 1976 & 1977.

The Phillies could reach 100 games today with wins over the Nationals in the doubleheader.  Game 1 begins at 1:05pm.

Worley Wows While Bats Come To Life in Win Over Cubs

The Phillies offensive was very slow to develop on Tuesday.  But on Wednesday, they got off to a quick start with two runs in the first inning.

In the second inning, the Phillies really made Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster work hard in the 110 degree heat on the field.  But with two outs, no one on base and pitcher Vance Worley coming to the plate, it looked like Dempster was going to get out of the inning.  And then Worley smashed a double in the gap between center and right field.

That double precipitated a big inning for the Phillies.  Jimmy Rollins followed with another double to score Worley.  Then Michael Martinez singled in Rollins and Chase Utley doubled in Martinez.  It was a 3-run chain reaction.

But the fun did not end there.  While Worley mowed down Cubs and did not allow a hit until the 5th inning, the offense kept adding on.  Rollins had a huge day with three hits and two homers, one from each side of the plate.  That has only happened four times in Phillies history and two of the four times, it was Rollins. 

Rollins was so pumped after the first homer, he high-fived a bunch of Phillies fans on his way back to the dugout.  After the second homer, other fans caught on and the high-fives came again, only to a bigger crowd.  After the game, Gary “Sarge” Matthews even interviewed a fan about the high-fives.  Needless to say, he was pretty psyched about travelling all the way to Chicago to get high-fives from Rollins.

Martinez also continued his hot streak with two hits, an RBI and two stolen bases.  Utley had two hits, both doubles, and two RBI.  The only starter without a hit was Shane Victorino who is still looking for his first hit since returning from the DL yesterday.

With the offensive support, Worley was able to pitch without pressure and as a result, he went eight innings, the longest outing of his short career.  Worley allowed only one run on four hits and two walks.  Fans are also getting excited about Worley these days as evidenced by the new tee-shirt being sold by Zoo With Roy.  I assume it is a take-off on the shirt to the right, but why is his name spelled wrong?  Just curious…

 

The 9-1 win capped off a series victory against the Cubs.  Thursday is an off-day while the Phillies prepare for a big 10-game home stand with the Padres, Giants and Pirates.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Come From Behind Win After Slow Start For Phillies Offense

The Cubs pitcher, Matt Garza, had a no-hitter going against the Phillies into the 5th inning tonight.  The only Phillie to get a hit through two outs in the 7th inning was Domonic Brown, who hit Garza twice with a double and a single.

In all, Garza only allowed four hits and one run, with the help of his bullpen who allowed the run to score after he was pulled.  It was yet another disgusting, impatient and painful performance from the Phils offense.

In the meantime, Cliff Lee had a rough start to the game, allowing a 2-run homer in the first.  But after the first few innings, Lee settled down and was his usual, amazing self.  But for the second straight Lee start in a row, his biggest problem was the Phillies offense.

In two starts, all Phillies players combined, except for Lee, did not score a single run while Lee was on the mound.  The only run in the last game was a home run, which Lee hit himself.

Only after Lee was pulled for a pinch hitter and Michael Stutes pitched the 7th, did the offense decide to score.  In the 8th, Jimmy Rollins and Michael Martinez singled, then Chase Utley drove them in with a double.  Utley later got thrown out at the plate and the game was left in a 2-2 tie.

This anemic offense is frustrating to watch, especially when you know the potential of the hitters who are simply not living up to expectations.   With that in mind, here is a short list of annoying things that I would rather be doing instead of watching the Phillies offense suck:

– Play the movie “The Sound of Music” over and over and over.

– Ride the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World with the demonic puppets that sing like nails going down a chalk board.

– Clean the litter box.

– Watch Jose Reyes of the Mets do the home run trot while signaling “#1” with his finger.

– Eat peas.

– Spel thungs rong on porpuse.

That last one was painful, much like watching the Phillies offense.

Back to the game…Stutes wound up pitching both the 7th and 8th innings and kept the score tied.  But while the pitching hung in there, what would the offense do?

Lucky for me, they finally decided to stop sucking, thereby saving me from having to perform one of the annoying tasks on my list.

With two outs in the 9th, Ben Francisco and Rollins hit back-to-back singles.  And then, saving the day once again, Martinez doubled to score both runners for a 4-2 lead.  And although he was thrown out going to third, Martinez is still the hero.

Antonio Bastardo served as the closer again, as the Phillies are still taking it slow with Ryan Madson since coming off the DL.  And again, Bastardo was lights-out for his 7th save of the year.

With the win today, the Phillies have a chance to win the series now.  Game three with the Cubs is Wednesday afternoon at 2:20pm; Vance Worley will pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*