There were a number of moves made right before tonight’s Phillies – Athletics match-up. Catcher Brian Schneider came off the DL, while Roy Oswalt went on the DL. With no need for a 3rd catcher, Dane Sardinha was sent back down and pitcher Scott Mathieson was recalled and added to the bullpen. And J.C. Romero cleared waivers, declined a minor league offer and was then given his outright release.
And while that was a whole lot of movement in one day, no one expected these roster moves to be the big action of the night. Because once the game started, it was nap time.
I like a pitcher’s duel as much as the next fan, but this game, although it remained hitless for a long, long time, was not your typical duel. The pitching was not super sharp from either team and both sides issued a bunch of walks.
Despite the slight sloppiness, neither team earned a hit until two outs into the sixth inning. Vance Worley’s no-hitter was broken up by a Hideki Matsui double.
In the bottom of the sixth, Placido Polanco got the first hit of the night for the Phillies with a single against Guillermo Moscoso. Pronouncing Moscoso’s name was more entertaining than his pitching as the game dragged on with little action.
By the eighth inning, each team had only two hits. And both teams had issued five walks each by the time the ninth inning began. Several fans left in the stands appeared to be struggling to keep themselves upright.
As the yawns continued and the Phillies offense snoozed, even my cat fell asleep. But a 0-0 ballgame is no time for a cat nap!
So in the 9th inning, Shane Victorino walked and Domonic Brown got his second single of the night. A sac fly moved them into scoring position. So with two outs, Ben Francisco stepped to the plate, determined to wake up all the sleepy fans in the stands. He smacked an RBI-single to left for the walk-off win.
The Phillies just barely pulled off a 1-0 win to open this home stand. And now, because it took them nine innings to wake me up, I will not be able to sleep for hours. But when I finally do, at least I will have pleasant dreams ;o)
Cole Hamelspitches tomorrow! And with any luck, the offense will join him in the effort; game time is 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
It looks like #13 was unlucky for Roy Oswalt. In his 13th career start at Citizens Bank Park, Oswalt lost his first game in the ballpark thanks to a non-existent offense. It was a 2-0 shut-out by the Rangers.
Let me rephrase: The Phillies did have bats and some did swing them, but no runs ever crossed the plate. In the last nine games, the Phillies are averaging FIVE hits a game. Yes, five hits, not runs. They hit over 5 runs only twice in that spam.
Sunday was no different. Five hits, NO runs. This has been a bad case of déjà vu for the starting pitchers, who have been the victims of the invisible run support.
Today, there were a lot of pop-ups, swings at bad pitches, no swings at good pitches, confused looks and ball hit right at fielders:
The déjà vu continued as catcher Dane Sardinha got on base in both the 3rd and 5th innings. Both times, Oswalt bunted him to second. And both times, with one out and a runner in scoring position, Jimmy Rollins popped out.
Oswalt continued to pitch well, despite the disappointing offense. He went seven innings, allowing only one run. And the Phillies had some nice defensive plays as well, including a pair of double plays and some acrobatics by Wilson Valdez.
And then there was this play, where Rollins tagged out Elvis Andrus, but the umpire missed the tag. It did not matter anyway, as Oswalt got out of the inning.
The second Rangers run was charged to J.C. Romero. But again, it did not really matter as the Phillies batters were hitting anything.
The good news is that Chase Utley is back! Pete Orr was sent to the minors to make room and Utley will make his 2011 debut on Monday night against the Reds. The Phillies are counting on Utley to light a fire under this offense.
Joe Blanton was placed on the DL as expected and Vance Worley will replace him, pitching on Tuesday night.
The Phils also signed veteran outfielder Scott Podsednik to a minor-league deal as a back-up plan after the Blue Jays released him. Podsednik is a lifetime .279 hitter but he has had issues with plantar fasciitis in his foot, which is why the Jays let him go. If he can take time to heal, he could be useful later in the season.
The Reds game starts at 7:05pm tomorrow night. In the meantime, here is the full Photo Album from today’s massacre…I mean, game.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
I will start with the good news. Roy Oswalt looked good Tuesday night and had some speed on his fastball. Through five innings, he allowed only one run, which could have been avoided if third-string catcher, Dane Sardinha knew how to tag anyone at the plate.
And now the bad news….the Phillies offense is still missing in action. The Phillies collected only six hits, two of which were from rookie Michael Martinez. Ryan Howard struck out three times and left three men on base, which is unusual for him in his hometown of St. Louis. Howard normally rakes when he is home.
All together, the Phils left 10 men on base and the only run they scored was unearned after Tyler Greene dropped a routine Jimmy Rollins pop-up.
And now for the ugly…Danys Baez came into a tie 1-1 game in the ninth and proceeded to load the bases before recording an out. J.C. Romero was in next and he threw only one pitch. That one pitch went deep center field, handing the game to the Cardinals for a two-game sweep.
And now for the “Oh crap!” moment of the game…rookie reliever Michael Stutes tossed three pitches in the sixth before signaling to the bench that he was hurt. He left the game with a strained a right side muscle. No word yet on how serious it is, but this is just one more disaster that the Phillies cannot afford.
The offense has been so bad for this team, I am finally out of words to describe it. If the Phillies do not find a way out of this slump fast, they will find themselves plummeting down the ranks of the NL East. The Marlins are only 1/2 game behind them and the Braves are 1.5 games back. Ugh.
Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels probably looked and Roy Halladay after Tuesday night’s unwarranted loss to the Marlins and thought, “Welcome to the club.” What club is that? The one where they each pitch a great game and come out with a loss due to a lack of offense.
Halladay outpitched his opponent, Josh Johnson, going eight innings with only one earned run allowed on five hits and still lost the game. Halladay did make one mistake; he walked a pitcher for the first time in his career. That walk turned into a run for the Fish.
But the Phillies offense had the bases loaded twice, in both the second and third innings, and did not score. The worst offender was Dane Sardinha who had bases loaded with no outs in the second. Knowing the pitcher was on deck, he could not even make contact. Even a double play would have scored a run. Instead, he struck out.
In the eight, another crucial error gave the Marlins the 2-1 lead that eventually won the game for them. Jimmy Rollins bobbled a ground ball and threw offline to Ryan Howard, pulling him off the bag. A ground out advanced the runner and a single scored it.
This lack of offense is becoming a running theme with the Phillies, which is magnified as a serious issue when you have pitchers going eight innings, allowing one run and still losing the game. That should not happen.
Perhaps the starting pitchers should get together for their first “club” meeting and decide on how to proceed. They cannot really go on strike, but maybe they could take turns smacking each of the starters around while yelling, “Wake up and score me some freaking runs!” Too much? Just a thought ;o)
The Phillies have one more game in Florida tonight at 7:10pm. Cliff Lee is coming off a loss where he struck out 16 batters. Now there is a solid oxymoron for you. Perhaps he should carry a picket sign out to the mound with him…just in case.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies have hired ex-Phillie Juan Samuel to fill the void left when first base coach Davey Lopes walked after failed contract negotiations. Samuel started his 16-year big league career with the Phillies, playing second base from 1983 to part of 1989.
Later in his career, Samuel played both second base and outfield positions and was known as an extremely versatile player. More recently, he coached third base for the Orioles and also served as interim manager when Dave Trembley was fired in June.
Samuel will take over as third base coach and outfield instructor for the Phillies while Sam Perlozzo moves to first base. When asked about returning the Philadelphia, Samuel told reporters, “I couldn’t be happier. I’m ecstatic going back and joining an elite group of players and manager. It’s a dream come true.” Samuel was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2008 and has always been a fan favorite. It will be nice to have him back.
In other news, the Phillies have made a small flurry of insignifigant moves in the past week or so. They have signed Pete Orr, 31, to a minor league deal. The infielder has spent much of his baseball career lingering in the minors where he hit .264.
In the catcher category, the Phils re-signed Dane Sardinha who hit .205 in his time with the Phils last year and .207 in the minors. They also picked up Erik Kratz, 30, who hit .274 in the Pirates AAA system.
Continuing to add minor-league pitching, Eddie Bonine, 29, was added as well after spending time in the Tigers bullpen last year. Bonine had a record of 4-1 with a 4.63 ERA in 47 appearances and one start in 2010. His name indicates that he is good at preventing nausea, however, his stats indicate otherwise. Yuck. Well, at least they picked up one guy under 30….barely.
As for Jayson Werth, there is still little news. He and his super-agent Scott Boras are out and about trying to see who is willing to get serious about overpaying the outfielder. The odds of Werth returning to the Phillies lessen as each day passes. But truthfully, the odds may have been close to 1% to begin with. Don’t hold out hope…it is very unlikely that Werth will be back in red pinstripes.
It is simple math, right? Well tonight’s Phillies – Braves match-up boiled down to that very simple math.
Pitcher’s Cole Hamels and Jair Jurrjens battled fairly evenly, each allowing just 3 runs. Hamels went 7 innings and Jurrjens was pulled after 6 plus. Hamels did a nice job, but would the offense come through for him?
The Phillies managed only 2 hits of Jurrjens, one of which was a 2-run homer from Raul Ibanez in the 1st inning. The other hit came in the 7th when Ryan Howard tied the game up 3-3 with a triple to score Ibanez, who had drawn a walk. But with no outs and Howard on third, they failed to score again.
Jayson Werth stood at the plate and watched strike three go by. All he had to do was make contact and he just stood there like a deer in headlights. Then Ben Francisco hit what could have been a sac fly, but either Howard, the third base coach or both decided not to tag up as it was a shallow hit ball.
Here is my issue with this: they had to know Wilson Valdez was coming up with 2 outs. Did they expect him to be the hero and get a 2-out hit? I know I certainly did not. While Howard is no speed demon, he has one advantage: size. He should have tagged and if the ball beat him, why not go old-school and knock the catcher over? I would have taken that risk over expecting a 2-out hit from Valdez.
That decision looked like it might come back to haunt them when the bullpen took over in the 8th. Jose Contreras quickly got into trouble with men on first and third and no outs. But Chipper Jones got jammed in between third and home and Dane Sardinha made a great toss to trap and tag him out. Eventually, with help from JC Romero, they escaped the inning unscathed.
With no scoring in the 8th for the Phils, Brad Lidge came into a tie game in the 9th. It was his first game since last week when he blew a save against the Reds. Lidge sent the Braves down in order, but with no scoring from the Phils in the bottom of the 9th, this would be a battle of the bullpens.
Sadly, in a battle of the bullpens, the Phillies were likely to come out on the losing end. David Herndon did a great job in the 10th, but finally surrendered the lead in the 11th after a single and a double. With the offense totally stalled, the 3-4 deficit looked insurmountable. In fact, for many months now, the lack of hitting has made these very small deficits look like impossible obstacles to overcome.
But Mike Zagurski came into the game and made things even worse. He looked great striking out the first two hitters, but made one very big, very costly mistake. Eric Hinske took that mistake and tossed it over the right field wall for a 2-run homer. The Phillies entered the bottom of the 11th down 3-6.
Watching these self-destructive games are very sad, especially in light of the talent this team possesses. They just cannot seem to conjure it up at the most crucial moments. The main players, like Jimmy Rollins and Werth, went hitless as they have many, many times this week. The bottom of the lineup did absolutely nothing. You cannot expect to win games with only three hits.
Add to that the fact that the bullpen cannot hold a tie game down. It is all a recipe for disaster. And so it was; a 3-6 disastrous loss. Jamie Moyer will try to win one tomorrow, but without any offense, how will he fare? Not well is my guess.
Pitcher JA Happ came off the DL today but instead of going to the majors, he was optioned back to AAA. The Phillies are not happy with how he has pitched in his rehab, but they are hoping he will bounce back after some time in the minors.
As for catcher Carlos Ruiz, he will begin a rehab assignment this week, which is good news. The concussion has healed to the point where he can start playing again. Get well soon, Carlos!
By the way, we have now entered Day 8 of my Chase Utley withdrawal. I am not doing too bad so far. I have no fingernails left and I am stuttering a little, but all in all, it has been a mostly sanity-intact week. Of course, we have about 7 weeks left to go so do say a short prayer for me. Thanks…you guys rock.
Zagurski photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Realizing the season is not quite even halfway over, it is hard to say that the Phillies are done. But after losing 3 out of 4 games to the worst team in the league this weekend, it sure does feel that way. Murphy’s Law has ruled this team for about 2 months now where anything that can go wrong does. Massive injuries to star players, a serious and prolonged offensive slump, pitching and hitting never going well on the same day and now this; 3 loses to the Pirates.
The one win in this series came on an offensive explosion of 12 runs. But if the Phillies need to score 12 runs every time to win a game, then I guess their season really may be over.
5 runs on 9 hits today did not cut it. Dane Sardinha, the Phils 4th string catcher, getting two hits and a home run did not help. Greg Dobbs, who is in the worst hitting slump of his career, got a hit and an RBI; no matter though. It also did not help.
The big boys like Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins did absolutely nothing in this game. And besides the solo home run by Sardinha in the 7th, the Phillies offense gave up after the 3rd inning. And then there was the pitching…
While Joe Blanton looked solid through most of the game today, he began to fall apart quickly after 6 innings. He threw 3 pitches at the start of the 7th inning which ended up like this: home run, single, double. Blanton left with one out and Jose Contreras came in with two runners on base. Contreras picked up the disaster right where Blanton left off, allowing a double, a single and 3 more runs to give the Pirates a 6-5 lead. So the Phils entered the 7th with a 3-run lead and the pitching blew it.
It only got worse when Mike Zagurski came in for Contreras and allowed two more runs to score on a 2-out single. So Blanton’s final line was 5 runs over 6 1/3 innings. He was fine through 6 innings, but when Blanton starts to fall apart, he really goes down hard. Then the bullpen totally ruins the day by allowing a 3-run lead to turn into a 3-run deficit…against a last place team. Disgusting.
So the Phillies went on to lose by a score of 5-8. If the Braves win today, the Phillies will enter tomorrow’s 3-game series with the Braves down by 6 games. That means, even if they win the series, they will still be a minimum of 3 games back with only 4 to play before the All-Star break. Or worse, they will lose ground and dig a hole too deep to emerge from.
Does anyone out there think the Phils can sweep the Braves? After losing 3 of 4 to the Pirates, they do not stand a chance. I will be happy to eat those words if they do, but the odds are certainly not in their favor.
With all the recent injuries, many Phillies, like Placido Polanco, dropped off in the All-Star voting late. As a result, the only Phillie to make it in via fan vote was Chase Utley. Utley cannot play due to his recent surgery and will be replaced by Martin Prado of the Braves.
Two more Phillies were added to the roster; Roy Halladay won the player’s vote and Ryan Howard was added by manager Charlie Manuel. Both are very deserving. Halladay’s dominant performances plus the Perfect Game he pitched this year make him an obvious choice. Howard is one of the league leaders in RBI’s with 58 and was batting .296 coming into today’s game.
Earlier today, MLB.com posted the starting rosters for each league. Take a look at the list. Notice anything wrong? Either the writer just got used to typing the word “Yankees” over and over or Evan Longoria was just involved in some weird, mysterious trade. No need to panic Rays fans; Longoria is still in Tampa.
By the way, I hope everyone has a Happy 4th of July, despite the Phillies being a major bummer. This is one of my favorite photos that I have ever taken and it always makes me feel better:
Happy Independence Day!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schultz