Despite their struggles, the Phillies actually had a good shot at sweeping the Nationals today to end the 3-game series. But they apparently had one thing working against them: Ryan Howard. I hate to be so blunt about it, but Howard absolutely stunk up the ballpark today. He struck out to end an inning 4 times, all with runners on base; and 3 of those 4 times, he had runners in scoring position. One would think after more than 10 years in the majors, he would learn to stop swinging at balls in the dirt; no such luck. Howard is now batting .150 only 6 games into the season.
But on to more positive things… Sean O’Sullivan got the spot start today and rewarded the Phillies for their confidence in him. O’Sullivan lasted 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 1 walk. Overall, he looked good and kept the team in the game.
Odubel Herrera, the rookie Rule 5 pick, continues to wow fans with his speed and hustle. After hitting the walk-off winner in last night’s game for his first major league hit, Herrera collected 2 more hits today plus an RBI and a stolen base.
Cody Asche also had another great game with 3 hits, an RBI and a walk, putting veterans like Howard to shame. Asche is batting .429. Eventually, Darren Ruf replaced Howard in the game and began with a home run in the 7th to put the Phillies in a 2-2 tie, just like the night before.
But unlike Saturday’s game, the Phillies could not come back in extra innings to win. Although, they never stopped trying, which was nice to see. Even after the bullpen allowed 2 runs in 10th, the Phillies scored in the bottom of the inning and then fell just short of the win, losing by a score of 3-4.
So there have been several encouraging signs to start the season, even though overall, this team is probably not going far with the youth they have and the dried up veterans. But it was a good game with some energy, which the Phillies have been missing the last several years.
Also, I just want to give kudos to pitcher Jerome Williams. Going back to last year, Williams is always out engaging with the fans and signing autographs, unlike most of the players. Today, he even scooped up what appeared to be a 3 or 4 year old fan out of the stands and played catch with him. He then literally picked the kid up and handed him back to his parents. It is a rarity to see a major league player truly appreciate his position and give back to the fans to consistently. The Phillies are lucky to have him!
So the team is off to New York for an early game tomorrow against the Mets. Cole Hamels will pitch and the game starts at 1:10pm.
And here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri
As Spring Training nears its end, the Phillies have a number of decisions to make. Some will be made a little easier with injuries and illnesses playing a role. Darren Ruf is out 4-6 weeks with a strained oblique and utility infielder Freddy Galvis is sidelined indefinitely with a nasty MRSA infection. MRSA is a drug-resistant staph infection that is very difficult to treat. Hopefully, Galvis will pull through soon.
With just those two injuries, it looked like there would be room after all for both outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr. and Bobby Abreu. But then Abreu sat out yesterday with shoulder soreness. There is no word on how serious it is, but this certainly may affect his chances of making the team. The Phillies have until tomorrow to decide.
They will also have to decide on whether to keep Ronnie Cedeno today as a utlility infielder. With Galvis now out of the picture, his odds are better. But the Phillies also have to consider Cesar Hernandez and Reid Brignac for that spot.
But the real shocker this week so far has been the Phillies decision to outright Kevin Frandsen. He now has to decide whether to go to Triple-A or become a free agent. Frandsen has brought a lot of much needed energy to this team the last several seasons, which were otherwise dull and depressing. He was also the best pinch hitter in the majors last year with 14 pinch hits. It would be a real shame to see him go. But I do not know if many teams are knocking on his door, so free agency may not be a good option for him (or wishful thinking on my part). If he takes the Triple-A option, he could still make the team at some point.
In other news, Cole Hamels says he feels “great.” Is it just me, or have we heard this before? Don’t hold your breath…it will be at least a month before he is ready to go, barring anymore “not great” feelings.
And as an interesting side note, the Phillies have announced new food items for the 2014 season at the ballpark. Hold onto your arteries before you decide to try the new hotdog topped with bacon and melted cheese or the burger with fried egg. My heart aged 10 years just thinking about eating that.
6 days until Opening Day…
UPDATE: Frandsen just opted for free agency. I am sad 😦 He will be sorely missed…best of luck to him!
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography