In the first 7 innings of tonight’s game, fans were wondering, where have the Phillies bats gone? Several of them are on the DL, but how about the rest? Did the plane carrying the bats from Miami back to Philadelphia crash on a deserted island, leaving the bats stranded and hopeless? Can we please get a rescue team together to go find them? Please?
The Phillies had opportunities to score early in this game against the Mets. With the bases loaded and 2 outs in the first, Carlos Ruiz began to cool off from his recent hot streak; he struck out to end the inning. One run scored in the inning, but they should have had more. The Phils did get a number of 2 out hits, but they were mostly with no one on base.
But then it was Ruiz and most of his teammates in the 8th inning who finally found the bats again. 5 straight singles followed. Yes, the bats have been rescued! Everyone got in on the action; Mike Sweeney started the inning off with his first hit as a Phillie; Jayson Werth, Ben Francisco, Ruiz and Wilson Valdez followed suit. Ross Gload walked with the bases loaded to score another run and Jimmy Rollins singled in the 4th run of the inning.
Later that same inning, Sweeney got another hit; his second hit as a Phillie also added his first RBI as a Phillie. By the end of the 8th, the Phillies had sent 11 batters to the plate and scored 6 runs to put them up by a score of 7-2 over the stunned Mets.
So, maybe the bats just had jet lag and it took until the 8th inning to wake them up? Whatever the deal, it was very nice to see them again. Someone else who was happy to see the bats was starting pitcher Joe Blanton, who had a good outing. He lasted 7 innings, allowing just 2 runs on 7 hits without walking a batter. Sadly for Blanton, he was out of the game before the run barrage started.
So while Blanton could not get the win, the team certainly could. Danys Baez pitched the 9th and got the first two outs. JC Romero was brought in with 2 runners on base and, just for some added drama, he gave up a 3-run homer. With a now close 7-5 game, Romero was pulled and Brad Lidge came into what was then a save situation. He struck out the final batter to end the game; whew!
The Phils have two more games with the Mets this weekend; tomorrow’s game starts at 7:05pm with Cole Hamels pitching.
By the way, congratulations to former catcher Darren Daulton who was inducted to the Phillies Wall of Fame before today’s game. Daulton is widely thought to be one of the best catchers and best leaders in Phillies history. He is well deserving of the honor. In his acceptance speech, he referred to Phillies fans as his family and said we were all invited to his house for dinner on Sunday night. Hey Darren, you forget to give us your address. Please pass on the info…I’ll be there ;o)
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Before tonight’s 7-1 loss to the Cardinals, Kyle Kendrick was sent back to the minors. Yesterday, he allowed 7 runs to the Cards in 5 innings and has been inconsistent all year.
Andrew Carpenter was called up to play the long-man role in the bullpen until a new starter is announced to take Kendrick’s place. It will likely be JA Happ, but an outside trade is not out of the question either.
In fact, the Phillies have now been forced to look even harder for starting pitching help as Jamie Moyer lasted only 1 inning tonight and left with a left elbow strain. Carpenter got into a game a lot quicker than he probably anticipated. He took over for Moyer in the second and pitched 3 innings, allowing 3 runs on a 2-run homer and a wild pitch that scored a runner from third.
Given the circumstance, Carpenter did a decent job. But now the Phils are in a very, very bad spot. They need pitching help and they need it now. It is unknown right now how serious Moyer’s injury may be, but the fact that it is his elbow does not bode well.
The need for pitching help was magnified in the 5th inning by another very bad outing from reliever, Danys Baez. Without recording an out, Baez walked two batters and then gave up a 3-run homer to dig a deeper hole for his team. Many people, including manager Charlie Manuel, have defended Baez throughout the year. But there is just no excuse anymore; he is clearly not the pitcher he once was and shows no signs of improving. By the way, Ruben Amaro Jr. signed this dud to a 2-year contract. Ugh.
As for the offense, it was non-existent again. Shane Victorino hit a double for the lone RBI of the game. Jayson Werth and Placido Polanco had 2 hits each, but that was basically all that happened that was positive. The Phillies did have runners on first and third with one out on the 3rd inning, thanks to great base running from Wilson Valdez. But Jimmy Rollins blew it and hit into a double play. When the guy that makes your team “go” is now making them “stop,” things are very bad.
Before tonight’s game, Rollins expressed his displeasure with the recent media coverage of the Phillies to Todd Zolecki of the Zo Zone. He said, “It’s not over. You can write it like it’s over. But the guys with the bats and the balls they control what the pen says.” Really? Well then Jimmy, show us a different result and we will show you some more positive media coverage.
Because right now, this team looks like a sunken ship. I would not even mind the losses so much if the Phils acted like they were putting up a fight.
Instead, they look like zombies out there; the spark is gone. It is like watching the colorful fall leaves turn brown, wither and die. It is a slow, painful and depressing process. Watching the life being slowly sucked out of this once great team is about as much fun as a root canal.
The Phillies still have time, but as each day passes and they fall further behind in the standings, the less likely it becomes that they will snap out of this funk before it is too late. In short, the Phillies may wind up skipping right past Fall and move straight into Winter.
Carpenter photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In the first game of the Phillies – Cubs series last night, it started well for the Phils with a two-run homer from Ryan Howard in the first inning. But right away, pitcher Jamie Moyer gave those runs back. By the end of 3 innings, Moyer gave up 6 runs on 5 hits and had to be pulled from the game.
The Phillies wound up using 7 different pitchers in the game. The worst of those were Jose Contreras, allowing 5 more runs and Danys Baez adding one more to the thumping. The offense did nothing after the Howard homer until the 9th inning.
By that time, the Phils were down 12-2 so the 4 runs they scored in the 9th made little difference. Although, Howard hit bookend homers in the game; the 2-run shot in the 1st and another 2-run shot in the 9th.
Coming into today’s game having lost the first, Howard tried again to spark his team. After Shane Victorino homered in the 4th, Howard hit another 2-run bomb in the 6th, giving the Phils a 3-1 lead. But as was the case the day before, the starting pitcher gave those 2 runs right back again.
Joe Blanton looked like he might have a good outing until in the 5th, with the bases loaded, he walked the opposing pitcher. And then in the 6th after the Howard homer, Blanton gave up a 2-run homer to former Phillie Marlon Byrd to tie the game. And to make matters worse, all 3 of those runs scored with 2 outs in the inning.
Ryan Madson ran into the same 2-out trouble in the 8th inning. Aramis Ramirez hit a solo homer, giving the Cubs a 4-3 lead. The Phillies did nothing to help themselves in the 9th. Jayson Werth struck out looking for the 3rd time in one game and he has no hits in the series so far. Ben Francisco also struck out looking 3 times. As a team, the Phillies struck out fourteen times! Disgusting.
The Phillies offense, except for Howard, looks pathetic right now and the pitching has not been good. While we are only 2 games out of the All-Star break, this is very concerning. The good news is, Cole Hamels pitches tomorrow and Roy Halladay on Sunday. But as far as the good news goes, that is it.
So let us have a little fun for a moment. Is it just me, or did anyone else think that the Cubs catching gear looks a bit like R2D2?
Tonight’s final game against the Braves was very important for the Phillies. A loss would bury them 6 games behind the Braves with only 4 games until the All-Star break and no chance to play the Braves again until September. In this situation, you would expect the game to be managed as if it was extremely important; a must-win. That did not happen.
While everyone respects what Jamie Moyer has been able to accomplish this year and over his entire career, this should not give him extra leeway in such an important game. The man is 47 years old and tonight, he had to pitch in 100 degree heat; kudos to Moyer for being able to do this. But the manager has to recognize when a pitcher is simply done for the day.
In the 6th inning, Moyer got an out and then proceeded to have all kinds of trouble. He gave up a home run and a single right away and was visibly exhausted. But does Charlie Manuel even get the bullpen up at this point? No. Moyer continued on, allowing a double, a walk and finally a 3-run double. Four runs had scored and still, Moyer is allowed to keep pitching as sweat poured down his face. Clearly, he could no longer locate his pitches.
The very next batter whacked a 2-run homer and just like that, the Braves were handed a 6-run inning. Danys Baez was finally called in to end the inning. So what should have been a nice, productive outing for Moyer was turned into a demoralizing slaughter because Manuel did not pull him when it was logical to do so.
Manuel is obviously lacking in confidence where the bullpen is concerned as evidenced by his bad habit of leaving starting pitchers in too long. And this lack of confidence is not without cause, however, the lack of work for the bullpen is adding to the rust among that group of pitchers, which also does not help. And tonight, this uncertainty cost Moyer and the entire team.
The offense showed some signs of life with Jimmy Rollins collecting a few hits, Ryan Howard homered for the first time in 10 games and Shane Victorino hit a home run as well. Wilson Valdez had a hit, but also grounded into his 14th double play of the year. This seems to be a daily event for Valdez. But that awful 6th inning put the Phillies into a hole that they could not climb out of. They scored a few more runs, but eventually went down by a score of 5-7.
And now the red-hot Reds come into town for a 4-game series to finish up the first half of the year. Already back 6 games in the division, this Reds series has the potential to bury the Phillies. Kyle Kendrick will pitch tomorrow night at 7:05pm. Cross your fingers, Phillies fans.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies scored only 22 runs in the latter half of May, from the 18th to the 31st. But in the last 4 games, the Phillies have exploded to the tune of 31 runs. Today against the Twins, they scored 9 runs, had a 5-run lead in the 8th inning, and still lost the game.
The Phillies hit five home runs in the game. Here is a recap of the first four: The usual suspects, Ryan Howard and Werth, nailed two of those homers. Not as common was a blast from Raul Ibanez, who was on base three times. Even less common was a homer from Wilson Valdez, who had his only other big league homer in 2006. Yes, 4 years ago. If Valdez can smack a homer, then the stars must really be aligning for the Phillies, right? Maybe not…
Cole Hamels got off to a bad start in the first inning, giving up 3 runs. A passed ball by catcher Brian Schneider and a bad throw to second by Hamels added fuel to the fire. But the offense immediately picked Hamels back up by getting those 3 runs right back in the bottom of the inning. Chase Utley led the way with a 2-run triple and Jayson Werth hit a sac fly to score Utley.
Every starter in the game, including Hamels, had at least one hit today. On the mound, Hamels later allowed a solo home run to Justin Morneau and ended the day with 4 runs allowed over 7 innings. If you forget about the first inning mishap, Hamels had a great day.
But, as has been a common story line this year, the Phillies bullpen blew a FIVE run lead. In the 9th inning, former-Phil, Jim Thome hit a 2-run homer off Jose Contreras. As it was then a save situation, Brad Lidge was brought into the game. And Lidge proceeded to blow the save and the remaining 3-run lead. He gave up an RBI-single and a 2-run homer to Twins catcher, Joe Mauer.
With a 9-9 tied game in the bottom of the 9th, the Phils got 2 hits but still failed to score and win the game. Howard and Werth both struck out. Chad Durbin came in for the 10th inning and as soon as I saw him on the mound, I thought, “Oh crap, he is going to give up a homer to the first batter.” Why do I think this? Because he has done it many times in the exact same situation. How many times, I do not know except to say that I have nightmares about it. Sure enough, 1st batter: homer.
The inning ended with a tag out at the plate, which normally would have been very exciting. But at that point, who cares? The Phillies are losing 9-10 with the bottom of the batting order coming up. Do you think Valdez can hit his 3rd homer in 4 years to win the game? No? Neither do I…
Valdez did not get a chance. Greg Dobbs popped out, Schneider grounded out and Ross Gload pinch hit for Valdez. Now, Gload did a homer with 2 outs to tie the game again. But again, no need to get excited because Danys Baez was going to pitch the 11th inning. Baez has been awful and today did not change that. He gave up THREE runs in the 11th just to make sure the Phillies had NO chance at a win.
The Phillies went down in the 11th. It was a pathetic end to a pathetic loss. The final score was 10-13 and the Phils now have one game left against the Twins. If Roy Halladay can get back on his game after allowing 6 runs in his last outing, the Phils could maybe salvage a series win. Game time is 1:35pm and I will return with photos.
In other news, Carlos Ruiz will get a few days off after being nailed in the head with a broken bat while behind the plate yesterday. He will not need a trip to the DL, which is great news. Scott Mathieson was designated for assignment to make room for catcher Dane Sardinha who will back-up Schneider until Ruiz is healthy.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The first inning of today’s Phillies – Padres match-up was a microcosm of the issues that have been plaguing the Phils since the middle of May. The offense started off with two hits, then they loaded the bases with one out and Jayson Werth hit a weak grounder into a double play to end the inning. Two batters before that, Chase Utley had popped out with 2 men on base.
Werth and Utley, previously two of the teams’ best hitters, are quickly becoming the poster-children for killing rallies. Phillies fans everywhere are losing patience waiting for the two sluggers to find their swings again. Fans used to look forward to seeing them bat. Now, all you can do is cringe when they step to the plate and begin counting the different ways they might kill an inning; will it be a double play? A pop-up? A strike-out? Or maybe the bat will spontaneously combust due to lack of use, rendering him helpless at the plate…the possibilities are endless.
Once again, the real victim of this disgusting and seemingly unending offensive slump is the starting pitcher.
Cole Hamels had a no-hitter working through 6 innings. He finally surrendered back-to-back homers in the 7th to end the streak, but with just those two runs allowed, Hamels more than did his job. It is just one more outstanding pitching performance gone to waste by the Phils offensive offense.
Eight full innings and just 3 hits later, Hamels found himself still without any assistance from his teammates. The pinch hitters failed again in the bottom of the 8th with both Greg Dobbs and Ross Gload going down in flames. Danys Baez pitched the 9th and put the Phillies in a deeper hole by giving up a homer to Adrian Gonzalez, his second of the night.
The Phillies tried to battle back in the bottom of the 9th; Placido Polanco singled, followed by another Utley out. Ryan Howard drove Polanco in but then Werth stepped to the plate and, as has been the trend, he struck out. The Phillies lose 1-3, but I suppose the good news is that at least it was not another shut-out.
Besides the huge disappointment today in the Phillies majors, the minor leagues reported one more bit if depressing news. The “big” prospect the Phillies got in the Cliff Lee trade, pitcher Phillipe Aumont, was demoted to single-A ball after sporting a 10.61 ERA in AA-ball. Remember back in Spring Training when the same guy gave up 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning in an exhibition game against a college team in his first Phillies action? And afterwards, he blamed it on the pressure of being traded for Cliff Lee? Oh yeah, that guy.
So, we get our first peek at how beneficial that trade really was. If Aumont cannot handle pressure, what good is he? And do you really think the Mariners were unaware of this when they sent him packing? I doubt it. Talent and potential are great, but I am pretty sure in the life-game of rock, paper, scissors, that mental toughness trumps both. But hey, Lee will be available again at the trade deadline this year; think the Mariners will take Aumont back? Ha, ha…I crack myself up ;o)
The draft took place tonight and the Phillies have selected a local; Jesse Biddle, a left-handed pitcher, from Philly. Best of luck to the young pitcher!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Happy Bunny by Jim Benton
Odds were good that the Phillies would have to bust out of this major slump at some point. Today against the Marlins, they finally scored for the first time since the 9th inning against the Red Sox on Sunday…5 days ago. In the 4th inning against the Fish, a Ryan Howard single followed by a Raul Ibanez triple ended the drought. Whew!
Of course, 3 strike-outs followed the Ibanez RBI, leaving him stranded on 3rd, making fans wonder if the one run was a fluke. But the offense kept creeping back to life, scoring one run each in the 5th and 7th innings. Chase Utley manufactured a run by walking, then stealing 2nd base, allowing him to score on another Howard single. Utley later grounded out to score a runner from 3rd base.
Manager Charlie Manuel moved the line-up around a bit, giving Jayson Werth and Placido Polanco the day off. Ross Gload and Greg Dobbs filled in; Gload went 1 for 4 and Dobbs was hitless. Polanco is still having elbow issues after being hit with a pitch at the start of the season. Hopefully, a little rest will get him back into the lineup.
As for starter Kyle Kendrick, he pitched very well. His fielding, however, was not great and cost him the only 2 runs he allowed. With 2 outs and 2 men on in the 3rd, Hanley Ramirez hit an easy ground ball to Kendrick who drilled the ball into the ground trying to throw to first. Just as it looked like he was out of the inning, 2 runs crossed the plate on the error.
Both runs were unearned and Kendrick wound up going 6 innings without additional incident. Overall, it was a quality start. Chad Durbin and Danys Baez got through the next two innings fairly easily. Jose Contreras came in for the 9th and got into trouble, allowing back-to-back singles with one out. He struck out Cody Ross next and then Ronnie Paulino popped up to end the game.
So, with a little help, Kendrick beats the Fish and Contreras collected the save. And the Phillies finally put an end to the 5-game losing streak. Can I get one more big SIGH of relief….whew! Game 2 in Miami is tomorrow at 7:10pm with Roy Halladay on the mound.
And do not forget to keep VOTING for your Phillies All-Stars! Vote up to 25 times per day, per email address.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography