After missing 3 months of the season due to right shoulder surgery, Roy Halladay finally returned to the mound for the Phillies yesterday. The stars aligned in favor of Sunday ticket holders when the Phillies used up originally scheduled starter Tyler Cloyd in Saturday night’s 18 inning, 7-hour marathon loss to the Diamondbacks. Halladay was supposed to make a rehab start in Reading on Sunday, but was instead called back to the bigs. Sorry, Reading fans.
Reading’s loss was Philly’s gain. Halladay looked a little rusty at first, but eventually found his groove. Over 6 innings, he allowed only 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks.
Halladay may have given up more if not for the magic glove of Roger Bernadina. In the 3rd inning, Bernadina made a spectacular jump at the centerfield wall to steal a home run away from Matt Davidson. Then in the 7th, he made an amazing diving grab on a hit ball that appeared to have no chance of being caught.
On offense, Bernadina ended a 0-19 streak on Saturday with 2 hits in that game. Then in addition to his fun fielding on Sunday, Bernadina collected 2 RBI on double in the 6th inning. Maybe some regular playing time will get his bat going. So far, so good.
It was a good day for offense overall. Darin Ruf sparked the Phils in the 1st inning with an RBI single. Cody Asche had 2 hits and 2 RBI, Chase Utley went 1-1 as a pinch hitter and John Mayberry Jr. smacked a 2-run homer and also had a walk.
Both Asche and Ruf have been impressive both in the field and at the plate. They are probably close to cementing their places in the line-up next year.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game, including a lot more of Mr. Halladay.
So they might not be making the playoffs, but at least Phillies baseball is a bit more fun to watch now!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Well, it took a few days, but the Phillies finally squeaked out a win for interim manager Ryne Sandberg. The 3-5 win over the Dodgers ended yet another long losing streak for the Phils who are now solidly in 4th place in the NL East, 2.5 games behind the Mets for 3rd place.
Getting this win against the hottest team in baseball was going to require a combination of things to occur. Pitcher Cole Hamels had to be good, which he was. Hamels went 7 innings, allowing just 2 runs.
The Phillies offense had to produce. And although it was not at all pretty at times, 7 hits and 3 RBI did the trick. Carlos Ruiz, who has struggled lately, went 4 for 4 and Darin Ruf smashed a solo homer in the game.
Defensively, the Phillies were coming off a game in which they committed 3 errors. On Sunday, they managed to cut that down to 1 error. Ah, progress!
And for once, the bullpen did not implode in late innings. Both B.J. Rosenberg and Jonathan Papelbon pitched scoreless innings to maintain what was at that point a 2-2 tie game.
And in the bottom of the 9th, a little bit of luck was in order to seal the Phillies win. Two errors by Dodgers shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, allowed the Phillies to walk off with the victory. Michael Young got the game-winning RBI as Ramirez fumbled his grounder with the bases loaded. Casper Wells scored on the error and Ryne Sandberg finally got a win!
Here is the full Photo Album from the game, which includes some fun shots of the Dodgers as well. Fun stuff like this right here:
Is he pitching or trying some new form of karate? I cannot decide.
The Rockies come to town for a 4-game series tonight. Game time is 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
While I was really hoping that the Phillies bats would show up in Atlanta last night, it seems my wish was mistranslated by the universe. Bats did show up…but not the baseball kind.
The game was delayed twice last night. The start of the game was delayed nearly 2-hours due to rain; the second delay came during the game and was caused by a couple of bats getting busy on the field. Real bats, with wings and all that.
After being man/glove-handled by Braves third baseman Paul Janish, the love-struck bats finally detached and one flew away. The second bat was transferred to the aptly-named Batboy, who fulfilled his job duties on multiple levels during this game.
Looks like those bats picked the wrong place to host their little rendezvous. I do hope they were reunited later in the evening.
As for the games, the Braves bats won out, beating the Phillies by a score of 3-6. John Lannan lasted only 1.1 innings, allowing 5 runs and left the game due to a knee injury. He is likely done for the season and has also probably worn a Phillies uniform for the last time. This is the same knee that landed him on the DL for 2 months earlier this year; the Phillies cannot possibly resign him if he is hurt again.
Then again, they have done dumber things; but I will give them the benefit of the doubt here…for now.
The only good news last night was that Domonic Brown had 3 hits and 2 RBI and Darin Ruf hit a homer. Yup, the good news ends there. Unless you count today being an off-day as good news…
The Dodgers come to town on Friday…game time is 7:05pm.
And in keeping with today’s bat-theme, here are some adorable, fluffy bats I met in Costa Rica earlier this year:
Awwww! (Yes, they ARE cute! Do not argue…beauty is in the eye of the beholder ;o)
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
With a 3-1 win on Thursday night, the Phillies managed to just barely squeak out their 3rd win in the 4-game series with the Nationals…and it was not without drama, as usual. Even with 4 errors in the game, somehow, this team found a way to win.
Of those 4 errors, 3 belonged to Chase Utley. He was so off-kilter in the field, one may have wondered whether or not someone spiked his Gatorade. But he did have a hit in the game and also ran the bases well, scoring a crucial run in bottom of the 8th inning.
The real heroes of the night however, were Darin Ruf and Kevin Frandsen…again. Ruf started off the 7th inning with a double off the Nat’s lone All-Star, Jordan Zimmerman. Carlos Ruiz bunted him to third and then, Mr. Clutch, Kevin Frandsen stepped to the plate. Frandsen smacked a double into no-man’s land in right-centerfield to score Ruf and give the Phillies their first lead of the night.
In the midst of all that, Kyle Kendrick managed to pitch a very solid 7 innings, despite all the fielding errors and the lack of run support. And then both Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon broke recent routine and pitched one drama-free inning a piece to nail down the win. It was as if the stars had finally aligned….
But even after taking 3 of 4 from the Nats, and 2 of 3 from the Braves, the Phillies still have a lot of work to do.
Slightly off topic here, did anyone else see the interview with Darin Ruf that aired a few days ago on CSN Phillly? He was asked why his offense has improved since being called up. While I cannot find a video of this anywhere (and there may be a reason for that), he said basically that he was taking advantage of the “detailed scouting reports” that were available in the majors, but not in the minors.
Here is my question – do they seriously not have scouting reports in Triple-A? Or perhaps they have generic, inferior reports? Either way, am I the only one who thinks this is a major problem? You cannot tell me this organization cannot afford to pay someone to produce minor league scouting reports. Heck, I’ll do it for a very modest paycheck and some free baseball!
Just sayin’… Thoughts anyone?
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Atlanta Braves did not think it was very sunny in Philadelphia after losing to the Phillies by a score of 7-3. Even in blinding sunshine and near 100 degree temperatures, it was a dark day for the Braves.
Rookie pitcher Jonathan Pettibone was outstanding against a heavy-hitting Braves line-up. Freddie Freeman was so frustrated after striking out at one point that he smashed his bat into the ground, picked it up and then smashed it again. And B.J. Upton was thrown out of the game after mouthing off to the umpire about calling him out on strikes in the 5th inning.
Pettibone went only 5.1 innings, likely due to the excessive heat. It was obvious he was getting tired. But he did manage to leave with only 1 run allowed.
Both the Phillies offense and defense were solid. Domonic Brown had 2 hits, including his 23rd homer of the year. Darren Ruf, starting for Ryan Howard who is now on the DL, had a hit, a walk and scored twice. Carlos Ruiz added 2 hits as well.
The only defensive snafu was when Michael Young, who has been not great at third base lately, nearly ran over Jimmy Rollins going after a pop-up:
And for the most part, the Phillies bullpen held steady. J.C. Ramirez allowed 2 runs in the 6th; those were his first runs allowed since being called up. Aside from that, things were mostly quiet from the 6th inning on.
The Phillies took 2 of 3 from the Braves with this win today. Still, with Howard’s future uncertain and a very young and inexperienced bullpen, this team is going to have to annihilate the Nationals this week to keep GM Ruben Amaro Jr. from breaking up the team.
Here is the Photo Album from today’s game, including shots of Roy Halladay actually throwing pitches before the game! The Doc may not be done just yet…
Game time Monday night is 7:05pm. John Lannan will pitch.
Despite a superb spring, Yuniesky Betancourt has been released. In his contract, March 24th was designated as the deadline for the Phillies to either keep him on the big league roster or let him go. They chose to let him go even after Betancourt hit .447 with 14 RBI with 3 doubles and a home run in 47 at-bats.
This means that both Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen will make the team as utility infielders. I am a little confused by this move, but not in the way you may be thinking. I like Frandsen; while there is no guarantee he will have a solid year like he did in 2012, he has paid his dues and earned a spot on the team.
Galvis still has options and therefore, could have started the year in Triple-A and worked on his offense where he will get many more at-bats. If Betancourt did not work out, they could have released him and then brought up Galvis. That would have given the Phillies more options. As it stands now, they are walking across a very tight rope with little room for error.
And then there is the big question mark lingering in the air that no one seems to want to discuss. Galvis was suspended 50 games last year for using performance-enhancing drugs. Of course, like every player who tests positive, Galvis denies using PED’s. But what if he were to test positive again? Betancourt is gone and the options for the Phillies are now very limited.
I certainly hope nothing of the sort would happen, but think about Carlos Ruiz. No one saw that one coming either. Ruiz made the same mistake twice and so it follows that Galvis could fall into the same trap, as could anyone else for that matter. You also have to wonder how each will perform without the use of PED’s.
I will not be popular for pointing this out, but it had to be said. Galvis seems like a nice kid with a boat-load of talent and he can play multiple positions. I think he will be a big contributor to the team. So I am not saying letting Betancourt go in favor of Galvis was necessarily a terrible idea; in fact, I am glad I did not have to make that decision as it had to be a very tough one. But Betancourt would have given the Phillies more wiggle room.
A Ruf Life
Speaking of not being popular, this one will not earn me any new friends either. I think the Phillies should trade Darin Ruf. Now, hear me out before you freak.
I was really rooting for Ruf this Spring, but it became obvious that he is not an outfielder. The Phillies sent him back to Triple-A to work on it, but I have to say that it just does not look like he will ever be ready to play left field. Just look at him; he is built like a first baseman, or if he played football, a linebacker. Ruf does not have the body-type to run down balls in the outfield. He can improve, but to what extent?
First base is clearly where he belongs, however, Ryan Howard is not going away anytime soon. And Ruf’s value will not be much higher than it is right now, which is why this is the time to trade him when the Phillies will get the most in return.
If the outfield does not pan out for Ruf, what do you do with him? Ruf will be 27 years old in July; the clock is ticking…
Boom Goes The 3-4 Combo
In consecutive Spring Training games, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have hit back-to-back homers. With the rate these two are hitting, is anyone else getting nervous? I mean, we do not want them to run out of bullets before the season even starts, right? Both Utley and Howard have gotten a ton of playing time this spring. Perhaps it is time to stop pushing their luck and rest them before anyone gets hurt or worn out?
It is extremely uplifting to see Utley and Howard back in action and, more importantly, healthy! So this is nervous excitement talking here, but pretty please, can we just give it a break until Opening Day? Dear Phillies, please do not wear out this wonderful 3-4 combo before April 1st. Thank you in advance.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
‘Tis the season to buy lots of crap! Black Friday, Cyber Monday….here we come! The Phillies began shopping early when they signed Kevin Frandsen earlier this month to a 1-year, $850,000 deal. If Frandsen plays the way he did last year, that small chunk of change could wind up being the bargain of the year.
But the Phillies have a much longer shopping list than that. Unfortunately, even on Black Friday, not everything is on sale. Even if Ruben Amaro Jr. camped out in front of All-Star Josh Hamilton’s house all night, I am pretty sure someone with more money would be camped out in front of him in line. Fold up the tent, Ruben, and let’s work on a more realistic shopping list.
– The first item on the list should be a centerfielder. I hear our old pal Shane Victorino may come at a descent discount. But the Phillies seem to be more focused on B.J. Upton, who could rival Ryan Howard for strikeouts. They both strike out around 30% of the time and neither hit for average. Regardless, this team needs to shop for an outfielder!
– Bullpen help is needed….badly. Maybe the Phillies need to look back at a few guys they previously tossed in the trash? Here are some oldies, but goodies: Our old pal Chad Durbin had a 3.10 ERA for the Braves last season. And how about Jason Grilli, who was with the Phillies minor league system until they dumped him…he went on to record a 2.91 ERA for the Pirates last season. But my #1 oldie would be Ryan Madson. He is coming off Tommy John surgery so the bidding for him should not get too high.
– Third base: Personally, I feel a combination of Frandsen and a drug-free Freddy Galvis can handle the hot corner. But if you are the type who MUST buy during holiday sales whether you need to or not, here is who might deserve a look: Kevin Youkilis will be 34 in March, but the guy can still hit for power. At 36 years, Michael Young is not exactly young anymore….but he would be a solid veteran to keep the spot warm for a much younger Cody Asche in 2014.
– While the team is stocked with starting pitchers, maybe a few small upgrades could help? You know…get Roy Halladay a bionic shoulder to replace the bum one. Buy Kyle Kendrick an “All I Want For X-Mas is You” tee-shirt to keep his confidence high. And for Cliff Lee, donate to his favorite charity and make a pledge to get him more than 6 wins this year.
– Buy baby-faced Darin Ruf a pair of big-boy pants and put him on the big-boy team. That gamble may really pay off. What have they got to lose? And J.C. Penney has a great Black Friday sale on pants right now…
– And the final big purchase for the Phillies should be a stand-up comedian. When things start to go downhill for the Phils, the comedian can jump in and tell jokes between innings to keep spirits high. Because as a fan base in 2012, we have all lost a bit of our sense of humor. You cannot blame us though…losing is just not funny. Help us all remember how to laugh and smile again! And if the wins start coming, you can trade the comedian to a more needy team.
Happy shopping, everyone!
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Amaro photo by Jenn Zambri Photography