Tagged: Cubs

Spring Drags On

Mid-March is about the time when I begin to find Spring Training dull and get anxious for the real games to begin.  Ok yes, Joe Blanton had a good outing against the Tigers today after a shaky spring start.  Cole Hamels looks like he is in good shape with two solid performances so far.  The bats are jumping and as a team, the Phillies are hitting at an average of .301 with 7 homers and 36 RBI.  And still, I am a bit sleepy about the whole thing.

In my boredom today, I decided to scan through this week’s MLB headlines to see what was going on around the league.  Here are a few fun tidbits I came across in my search:

  • Yankees shortstop and baseball God, Derek Jeter, sat out of a Spring Training game with flu symptoms.  And then an Angel lost its wings :O(

  • At age 39, Brian Giles, former Padre, has decided to retire.  It was either that or start taking the same magical, fountain of youth pills that Jamie Moyer takes.
  • Angels center fielder Torii Hunter told USA Today that Latin Americans are “imposters” in relation to black ballplayers.  Hunter was then rushed to Jose Reyes’ Canadian doctor and diagnosed with “foot-in-mouth” disease.  He was given a “special” injection and should be back to hitting homers in no time.
  • 86224234_jpg_25207_cropped.jpgRed Sox Nomar Garciaparra also retired this week.  He now has plenty of free time to write a memoir about the many baseball adventures of his gigantic nose.  Did it provide shade when trying to catch a pop fly in the sun?  How many times did the nose save his life by blocking a high, inside pitch?  It will be a must-read.
  • Braves Manager Bobby Cox reported that Derek Lowe was suffering from a blister.  “He gutted through it, and it’s a mess,” Cox said about the blister. “I don’t know how he pitched at all.”  I know what he means; last week, I broke a nail and was not sure if I could go on typing.  I toughed it out as I could not disappoint my readers – that is how much I love you guys.
  • In an interview with ESPN, Milton Bradley whined that he received hate mail from the Cubs last year.  He went on to note that unless you’re “Superman or you’re Andre Dawson, Ernie Banks or [in the] Hall of Fame, then it’s going to be tough” for African-American players in Chicago.  I don’t suppose his .257 batting average had anything to do with his difficulties?  Oh, and wasn’t Superman a white dude?  Just sayin’…
  • Going back to the drug-dealing Canadian doctor, Alex Rodriguez was treated by this same guy after hip surgery last year.  In response to the investigation, A-Rod said, “I am aware of an investigation, and I plan on cooperating.”  The last time he “cooperated” there were no real consequences; so hey, no biggie.

Come on Opening Day!  Get here….quick!

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Reyes photo by Jenn

Garciaparra photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Happ-Y Howard Hits Hard

…Now say that five times fast ;O)  JA Happ and Ryan Howard combined for a 1-2 punch last night that sent the Braves away with a 6-game deficit in the NL East as the Phillies took home the 4-1 win.  Early on, it looked like rain might put a damper on the evening, but after a 1 hour and 37 minute delay, the game finally got underway.

Happ collected his 9th win of the season as he pitched 7 2/3 innings and allowed just 3 hits and 1 solo home run.  His command was off and on all game and he did wind up walking 6 batters, but got outs when he needed to.  Never rattled by tight situations, Happ continues to be a consistent starter that the Phillies can count on.

Add to that consistency a little Howard power and the result is a win.  Howard has struggled in the second half, but these last few days, he looks like he is hitting balls into another solar system.  Howard hitting.jpgHoward has 4 home runs in his last 4 games, with 2 of them rocketing out of the park last night for the 20th multi-home run game of his career.  In fact, Howard did everything last night to win the game, except steal a base.  His defense was stellar and he turned two very impressive double plays; at the plate, he notched the two home runs plus a single and a walk.  All four Phillies runs in the game were credited to Howard.

In relief, Ryan Madson and Scott Eyre combined to record 3 of the last four outs in the game.  Eyre almost had his first save since 2005, but after he walked a batter, Charlie Manuel decided to go to Brad Lidge, perhaps thinking that a one out save might boost his confidence.  Lidge did record the save on three pitches, but after a horrible season so far, most still have their doubts about Lidge.  It would seem to be time for the Phillies to find a back-up plan, but Manuel still insists Brad is his man.  However, the Phillies cannot expect to thrive in the post-season while carrying the worst closer in all of major league baseball; his 8 blown saves and 7.21 ERA are officially the bottom of the barrel for all closers.

Today the Phillies will have a much needed day of rest and I will need to find something else besides baseball to occupy my evening.  Suggestions are welcome :O)

And then Tuesday night, Philadelphia will get their first look up close and in person with Pedro Martinez.  After a road win against the Cubs last week, the home crowd is anxious to see his progress.  Game time is 7:05pm against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Go Phillies!

Howard photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Heavenly Sweep Of The Cubs

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Then God said, Let there be Lee: and so Lee was deposited into the lap of the Phillies.  And God saw Lee, and it was good.  Then on the seventh day, he created a sweep of the Cubs; and it was also good.  He then rested and boarded a flight to AtlantaLee in heaven3.jpg

A little Biblical humor for you; however, I am sure the Cubs saw nothing funny about the 3-game sweep at the hands of the Phillies.  Cliff Lee, who may indeed be a gift from the heavens, pitched 8 full innings of 1 run ball in the finale this afternoon.  And just to put an exclamation point on the win, he struck out 8 batters and went 1 for 3 at the plate with a double; it was Lee’s 2nd double as a Phillie.  In fact, Lee now has 3 hits as a Phillie and has given up a total of only 3 runs in 24 innings pitched.  Stick a halo on the man’s head – he is officially an angel.

The bats continued their bid for sainthood today as well; even Ryan Howard has been resurrected and is beginning to hit again.  Today, Howard went 2 for 3 with 3 RBI on a home run in the 4th inning.  And after showing off his new speedy moves yesterday when he hit a triple, today he continued to amaze as he stole a base.  Howard’s 5th stolen base of the year is a career high for him, and an impressive sight to behold from such a large and cumbersome looking man.

Pedro Feliz looked like he had his bat blessed by a higher power as well; Feliz had 3 hits in the game and 2 RBI, including a solo homer.  Chase Utley and Shane Victorino had 2 hits each and are now hitting .299 and .311 respectively.

Can the Phillies offense continue to perform like they are playing on hallowed ground?  A trip to Atlanta will give us the answer.  Tomorrow night Joe Blanton will face the man named after a lotion, Jair Jurrjens (or is it Jergens?), who is a slippery opponent and generally, the Phillies hate facing him.  The weekend series begins at 7:30pm.  Go Phillies!

Lee photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Pedro Wins, Offense Explodes & Beer Is Wasted

While many of us are more offended by the waste of a good beer than anything Pedro Martinez might have done last night against the Cubs, the main story was still pitching.  P8094647.jpgMartinez put forth the effort that many expected; he had 4 very strong innings in his Phillies debut and began to tire in the 5th inning.  But even though he loaded the bases with no outs, Martinez did manage to work out of the jam with only 2 runs scoring. 

Overall, Martinez’s fastball velocity was very good, ranging from 88-93mph and he had good movement on the ball.  With a variety of pitches working as well, it looks like Pedro is here to stay.  The more he pitches, the stronger his arm will get and that means he may be able to go further into games, which is the ultimate goal.  The final line was 5 IP, 7 hits, 3 runs, 5 strikeout’s and 1 walk, which was in the 5th and to the opposing pitcher.  And the final score was 12-5 after Chad Durbin gave up a few runs in the 9th.

The offense did their best to impress Mr. Martinez with their bats.  After a LONG hitting drought, the bats finally exploded last night to the tune of 12 runs on 14 hits including home runs by Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Rauuuuuuul Ibanez!  Every staring position player had at least one hit in the game, with Chase Utley leading the pack with 3 hits, 2 runs scored and 1 RBI.  Rollins & Ibanez each picked up 3 RBI on their homers. 

The other star of the game was Chan Ho Park; coming in to relieve Martinez, Park pitched a mini-no hitter of 3 innings in length :O)  As bad as Park was at the beginning of the season as a starter, he has been the polar opposite in the bullpen.   Kudos to Park for continuing to thrive in his bullpen role!

And then the moment you have all been waiting for – the beer.  It always makes me laugh when people criticize Phillies fans and then I see something like this; check out the VIDEO.

Yes, a retarded Cubs fans threw a full beer in the face of Shane Victorino right as he was catching a fly ball in deep centerfield.  To the idiot’s credit, he had perfect aim and timing.  But what an awful, unsportsmanlike and just plain stupid thing to do; I think the man should be thrown in jail, tied to a chair and forced to watch Cirque de Soleil videos all night long while also having buckets of ice water thrown down his pants by a large, hairy man named Gus.  Cubs – feel free to use that idea.  You have my full permission.

Phillies will go for the sweep of the Cubs this afternoon at 2:20pm – hopefully, beer free.

Photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

 

Lidge Blows Another, Phillies Win Anyway

This week in Phillies-land has been anything but dull.  After getting swept by the Marlins, a trip to Chicago was in order.  Coming off his second complete game shut-out with 127 pitches thrown, JA Happ looked a bit tired on the mound last night, but he got the job done.  P8094580 Happ.jpgHis composure and inability to lose his cool makes him extremely effective.  In 6 innings, Happ only allowed two runs despite a plethora of base runners, as he worked in and out of trouble all night.  It was another great job from the rookie who continues to show why he belongs in the starting rotation.

Even with the Phillies offense still in a coma, they entered the 9th inning with a 3-2 lead thanks mostly to a Jimmy Rollins 2-run homer in the 6th.  Ryan Madson did his job to shut the Cubs down in the 8th and then Brad Lidge stepped to the mound in the 9th for the save.  Adding more fuel to the fire of Phillies fans everywhere, Lidge blew another save; his 7th blown save of the year.  And when you look at his ERA, which is a disgusting 7.29, I know many people are praying for Brett Myers to return.

Here is what I think:  Stick a fork in Lidge; he is done. 

Last night was the final straw for me.  The Phillies kicked and scratched to stay in that game and then Lidge came in and demoralized the team.  Earlier that day, Lidge threw a bullpen session to work on his fastball command.  Sorry, but it is the middle of August.  If he needs to work on his fastball command, he needs to do that in the minors – just like Myers did last year.  And boy do we wish Myers was healthy right about now.

We all appreciate and admire the job Lidge did last year, but this is 2009 and he is not the same pitcher, for whatever reason. 

Lidge head.jpg

He needs to get his act together, screw his head back on straight and learn how to pitch again.  It is either that, or fans are going to take the Lidge bobblehead doll that will be distributed at the game on Wednesday the 19th and use it for target practice.  As much as I would hate to see the poor, innocent Lidge doll decapitated, maybe that is the jolt he needs to wake up?  Honestly, I love Brad and it pains me to see him struggle like this, but he cannot be allowed to continue to hurt the team when the division is clearly not in the bag, by any means.

But even with the blown save, the Phillies kept at it and tried to pull out the win.  With a 3-3 tie in the 12th inning, Ben Francisco threw the team up on his shoulders and hit a game-winning home run.  Chad Durbin nailed down the save and all is well in the world again.  By the way, could someone please tell Mr. Francisco to use two hands when catching fly balls in the outfield?  As pleased as we all are with his bat skills right now, he is making me very, very nervous out there with the glove.  A bit of foreshadowing?  I hope not.

So the circus continues…Pedro Martinez will make his Phillies debut tonight!  Jamie Moyer has a Pedro voodoo doll ready to go so he can get his job back, but still hoping for a win ;o)  Of course, I am joking…Jamie is a true professional and will always root on his team, even if he is unhappy with the situation.  I am still voting for my split game, 5 1/2-man rotation idea to keep Jamie in the game, but MLB just hates creativity ;O)  Well, let’s see how Pedro does!  Go Phillies!

Happ Photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

 

Martinez In, Moyer Out

P8094605.jpg

Pedro Martinez will be given his first shot at redemption tomorrow night against the Cubs as he enters the Phillies starting rotation.  Jamie Moyer, on the other hand, has been relegated to the bullpen while the Phillies take a look at Martinez.  Moyer is a professional and took the news in stride.  While it is sad to see Jamie bumped from the rotation for sentimental reasons, for baseball reasons, it was necessary.  Holding the highest ERA in the National League among starters, Moyer has not had the year the Phillies hoped for.  However, if Pedro fails to perform, there is no reason Jamie cannot be moved back in as a starter again.

The injury bug has left the bullpen thin over the last month so Moyer may be able to help out in a game where a starter is pulled early.  Another member of the pen, Chad Durbin, is just back from his back injury and Rodrigo Lopez was, as expected after several bad outings, sent back to the minors to make room for Durbin.  Also recovering still is JC Romero who had an MRI on his forearm which showed no ligament damage.  Romero has a slight tear in the muscle which should heal with rest and hopefully, we will see him before the month is out.

The Phillies will have their hands full tonight facing the Cubs and Rich Harden who has a 1.80 ERA in his last 5 games.  JA Happ is coming off another complete game shut-out, which is great, except that he threw 127 pitches.  Hopefully, the extra work will have no effect on him tonight.  The game kicks off at 8:05pm in Chicago.

Photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

 

Win Streak Ends

The Cubs took revenge on the Phillies last night after being clubbed over their tiny bear heads the last few days.  So the Phils did not sweep and their win streak came to an end at 10 games.  But if they win every 10 out of 11 games, I think most fans will be more than happy with that. :O)

Although you cannot win every time, there were a few concerning aspects of the game.  Chase Utley does not look quite right.  In the entire series, Utley managed only 1 hit in 13 at-bats and struck out 5 times, which is not usually his style.  Utley also had an error in the field last night and just looks uncomfortable.  While you hate to speculate, it was this same time last year that Utley’s hip began to really bother him.  So, is he injured again or is this just a slump and maybe some fatigue after the rat race of the All-Star events?  We shall see…

Another player who is showing signs of trouble is Brad Lidge.  No one expects the perfection he displayed last year, of course.  And his struggles at the beginning seem to stem from the injury to his knee.  But now?  P7058522.jpgLidge claims to be healthy but has given up 5 runs in his last 5 2/3 innings.  That equates to an ERA of 7.94.  And his ERA for the season stands at 7.20 which closely mirrors his last 7 games.

Lidge has been put into games several times in non-save situations, and as baseball lore tells us, this is usually not a good thing for any closer.  It is said that the adrenaline and intensity are not the same in those situations, so many closers struggle.  Frankly, I do not buy it.  Do I see it happen all the time?  Yes.  But it should not happen.  These guys should be able to pump themselves up no matter the situation; it is what they get paid for.  If Lidge were truly “lights-out” when he does come in for saves, then the non-save problems would be easier to accept.  But he struggles even in the save situations now, allowing too many hits and too many walks.  Lidge did much of the same last year, but not to this extent.  Should we be worried?  Maybe.  Lidge needs to step it up and start looking like the closer that everyone knows he has the potential and ability to be.  But I am sure I do not need to tell him this; he already knows.

And that is my rant for the day :O)  So, today was supposed to be an off-day, but thanks to earlier April Showers, the Padres will come to town tonight for the one game make-up date.  Cole Hamels will need to do his best to rest our very weary bullpen.  Start time is 7:05pm and it is dollar dog night at the ballpark.  Enjoy!

Lidge Photo by Jenn

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*