After sweeping the Braves in 3-games just over a week ago, the Phillies added insult to injury tonight by smacking the Braves around some more. The Braves and Padres are battling for the NL Wild Card spot and the Padres were trailing by 2 games before the game today. If the Phillies win one or both of the final 2 regular season games against the Braves, it will have major implications in the Wild Card race.
Just because they have won the NL East does not mean the Phils will let up on the Braves. Because several players are competing for either a spot on the postseason roster or possibly a spot with the team next year. Kyle Kendrick is one of those players. After a very inconsistent season, Kendrick needed to have a good outing tonight. He did a pretty good job, allowing 2 runs over 5 innings, although he walked 3 batters, including the opposing pitcher.
The Phillies scored 5 runs in the 6th with a Jimmy Rollins grand slam and Domonic Brown walked to force a run in. The big lead took Kendrick out of the game and gave a few more pitchers an opportunity to show off their skills…or lack thereof. Four pitchers, Antonio Bastardo, JC Romero, Chad Durbin and Jose Contreras, all pitched well.
Mike Zagurski, on the other hand, probably ended his career prospects tonight after giving up 3 runs in 2/3 of an inning in the 9th. The 11-2 lead he started with was cut down to 11-5. Zagurski pitched well in AAA but in his 7 appearances with the big club this year, he has allowed 8 runs in 6 2/3 innings for a 10.80 ERA. David Herndon had to come in to get the final out…after walking one batter, just so Zagurski did not feel too bad ;o)
Tomorrow will be no easier for the Braves. Rookie Vance Worley will get the start and he will be anxious to prove he can pitch in the big leagues. His future with the club can be given a huge boost with a solid performance tomorrow. Game time is 4:10pm.
By the way, the Phillies starting pitchers 70-50 record is the best for the team since 1980…the same year they won their first World Series Championship.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
With both the division and home field advantage wrapped up, the plan for the Phillies back-up players this week is simple: Make the post-season roster. With the September call-ups plus the usual bench players, the Phillies have a lot of spare parts. A few of those will make the roster; the rest will sit and watch. After tonight against the Nationals, there are 4 games remaining to decide who will fill the roles.
A few position players who made a good case in tonight’s game were Domonic Brown in right field and Ben Francisco in center. Francisco went 2 for 4 and should be a lock for the roster. Brown had 1 hit, a stolen base and a walk; he will likely be competing with Greg Dobbs for a roster spot. Dobbs did not help his case with an error at third base tonight, no hits and he also dribbled a ball in front of home plate for an easy force out with the bases loaded and only one out.
Decisions in the bullpen will be a bit more complicated. After a fairly awful year, Danys Baez pitched mostly okay in one inning tonight, although he did walk a batter. David Herndon looked better with two easy outs in the 7th. The two lefties JC Romero and Antonio Bastardo each pitched one scoreless inning. Bastardo is going to have an electric arm if he learns to control it; but the problem with him and all the other bullpen pieces we saw tonight is a lack of consistency.
But under pressure against the Nats knowing he was competing for a roster spot, Bastardo turned up the heat and struck out the side. If a decision had to be made tonight, I would take Bastardo over Baez, keeping the two lefties.
Roy Oswalt started the game and pitched 5 innings allowing only an unearned run after the Dobbs error. Sadly, he did not get a win as he left the game with a 1-1 tie score after a Raul Ibanez home run. So Oswalt, if he does not pitch again in the regular season, will end with a 13-13 record. 12 of those 13 loses came when he was with the Astros.
Jimmy Rollins finally started a game tonight for the first time since September 8th. He moved well in the field and went 1 for 3 at the plate. Rollins played 5 innings total and should see more playing time as the week goes on in order to prepare him for the playoffs. The hamstring injury did not appear to be an issue tonight…fingers crossed!
While the Phillies had a few hits in the game, it was still a 1-1 tie in the 9th. Jose Contreras pitched the final inning for the Phils and threw only 3 pitches. Adam Dunn mashed a long home run off Contreras, giving the Nats a 2-1 walk-off win. While the loss makes little difference at this point, the performance by Contreras was not a good thing. However, Contreras has been fairly reliable most of the year.
The battle of the back-ups will continue tomorrow in DC; game time is 7:05pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies went to Florida today and filleted the Fish with 11 runs scored. The dinner bell rang early as Jayson Werth smacked a solo homer in the 2nd inning to start the feast. The offense continued to rack up runs in every inning from the 2nd to the 7th.
Four home runs tonight were a welcome sight; Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Greg Dobbs all followed in Werth’s footsteps after the first bomb in the 2nd. Utley looked very hungry with his homer plus 2 walks. And Ruiz snacked on the Marlins with 3 hits and 4 RBI. Even starting pitcher, Joe Blanton, helped out with a hit and a run scored.
Blanton allowed just one run through 6 innings and had a fairly easy time knocking down Marlins batters. With 8 strike outs recorded, the only real disappointment was that Blanton could not go 7 innings. Blanton has struggled all year to get past 6 innings; he has pitched 7 innings or more only 8 times in 25 starts.
But with an 11-1 lead in the 7th, there was no need to push Blanton further. The bullpen was fully rested after a Roy Oswalt complete game shut-out yesterday. Jose Contreras pitched the 7th and did well. In his last 2 outings, he allowed 2 runs each game and looked tired. A clean outing tonight was probably a nice confidence boost for him.
On the other hand, David Herndon was brought in to get some work in the 8th and got beat up by the angry Fish. He gave up 3 runs, including a 2-run homer. But after he finally got out of the inning, the Phillies still led by a score of 11-4.
The Phillies were able to rest some of their regulars near the end of the game, giving bench players like Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. a chance to play. Wilson Valdez is still filling in for Jimmy Rollins who had an MRI on his hamstring today. The MRI showed a slight strain, but no tear. So Rollins should be back in action in a few days. Although, Valdez has been great in his absence; Valdez collected 2 hits tonight.
With the Phillies win plus a Braves win over the Nationals tonight, the Phils remain 1 game in first place. They have 2 more games with the Fish…game time tomorrow is 7:10pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
After last night’s tummy turning, see-saw circus act, a nice old-fashioned blow-out would have been a welcome event. And through 7 innings tonight, it was so very nice and relaxing. The Phillies offense swung the bats like a starving man who was just tossed a cracker. They scored against the Marlins in every inning except the 6th and the 8th.
Ryan Howard led the fish feast with 6 RBI, including a 3-run homer to the opposite field. Chase Utley was hungry too; he went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI, a walk and was hit by a suspicious pitch in the 7th. The 9-0 lead at the time and ball thrown near his head made people wonder if the Marlins pitcher, Jose Ceda, was expressing his displeasure at the routing. Luckily, it hit him in the upper shoulder area and Utley looked to be okay.
Jimmy Rollins had two hits in the game before having to leave with a tight right hamstring. Leslie Gudel reported on Twitter that J-Roll was not feeling well and was dehydrated before the game, even skipping batting practice. Why he then started the game is a mystery. Hopefully, the injury is not serious.
As the runs were piling on, Cole Hamels kept right on pitching as if it were a tie game, which later on, turned out to be a really good thing. Hamels went 7 strong without allowing a run and striking out 5. Marlins batters were feeling the heat as Hamels kept right on cooking.
A former Fish, Nate Robertson, was called on in the 8th inning to pitch to his former team. However, Robertson was the one who got cooked this time. In 2/3 of an inning, Robertson walked two batters and allowed 6 runs, including a 3-run homer. If Robertson was looking to revive his career, he did himself no favors tonight.
Entering the 8th inning with a 10-0 lead, manager Charlie Manuel put in a bunch of back-ups to give them some playing time. Ross Gload at first has issues handling an Utley throw; catcher Paul Hoover dropped a pop-up and later dropped a ball after a collision at home. Had he held it, the inning would have been over. Instead, the 5th run of the inning scored.
The 10-0 blowout at the start of the 8th turned into a 10-6 “holy crap-fest” real fast. David Herndon, who finished off the 8th inning, came in again to pitch the 9th. He got one out, walked the next batter and them forced the managers hand…Ryan Madson, who should have had this day off, was forced to come in to pitch and prevent further damage. Madson got the final two outs for a 10-6 final score. Whew!
So tomorrow is an off-day for the Phillies for some much needed rest after a LONG stretch of 23 games and no off-day. On Friday, they will return in New York to face the Mets for 3 games. Brad Lidge, who says his elbow is sore, should be back for that game. And with any luck, J-Roll will be back and well rested.
In the meantime, feel free to check out my new Facebook community page, “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney.” And when you are done there, hop over to the Phillies #1 fan contest and VOTE for me! You can vote up to 25 times a day :O) Thank you for the support!
Hamels photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Dodgers came to town today and the in-flight food service must have been seriously lacking on their way to Philly. Because they were really hungry by the time the game started. They snacked on Phillies pitchers like they had been starved for weeks.
The tastiest morsel was Kyle Kendrick; he allowed 5 earned runs on 8 hits and 2 walks. A 6th run was unearned on the first of Jimmy Rollins’ two errors tonight. When things start to go bad, things really go bad. For instance, Rollins tripped over second base and fell over during what should have been a sure out. Dodgers say, “Yum, yum! Me love scoring runs!”
The snack turned into a 7-course meal when David Herndon gave up 4 runs in the 6th after the Phillies offense had finally scored 3 runs the prior inning. Herndon pitched a perfect 5th inning, but lost his command in the 6th. Prior to that, Antonio Bastardo allowed a run of his own. The lefty Bastardo was just added to the roster after outfielder John Mayberry was sent back to AAA.
After the 7-course meal in the 6th, the Dodgers were still hungry in the 7th when Danys Baez came in to pitch. They ate him up to the tune of 2 more runs. I suppose that was desert. With a 13-5 lead, the Dodgers were bordering on pure gluttony. Even The Count was tired of counting runs at that point.
Former Phillie Vincente Padilla handled the Phillies offense well until he met Ross Gload. He was the one Phillies player who tried to join in on the feast. Going 3 for 5 in the game, Gload hit not one, but two 2-run homers. He was a one man wrecking crew.
Rookie Domonic Brown had 4 RBI on a sac fly and then his very first major league home run. He got the final 2 RBI in the 9th on a double. The homer was not as exciting as it should have been considering the 13 runs on the board for the Dodgers. Also, Brown has not played well in the outfield and needs a LOT of work on his fielding and hitting the cut-off man.
But back to the Dodgers; 13 runs would just not suffice. JC Romero came in to pitch the 9th inning and the Dodgers began to salivate again. Romero hit the first batter and gave up a 2-run homer to the 3rd batter. With one huge 2-run chunk already taken out of his back side, Romero let the Dodgers have another nibble. He walked the pitcher, George Sherrill. It was Sherrill’s very first at-bat in his career. Not that is embarrassing. Wow.
Out of 7 Phillies pitchers tonight, only Jose Contreras and Chad Durbin did not allow a run. The final score of this vomit-inducing nausea-fest was 15-9. Good news? 9 runs. Bad news? Phillies pitching.
Roy Oswalt will pitch tomorrow night. Hopefully, in his first outing at home in a Phillies uniform, Oswalt can tame the ravenous Dodgers. Game time is 7:05pm.
Kendrick photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Sesame Street characters by Jim Henson
It has been a while since Phillies fans have been treated to a home run barrage. Tonight, the Phillies embraced the long ball, knocking three 2-run homers out of the ballpark; once each in the 5th, 6th and 7th innings. Jayson Werth got the first one, which had to be a big relief for him. Werth has not hit a homer in over a month, since June 23rd. Ryan Howard and Cody Ransom collected the other two bombs.
Cole Hamels had a bit of a rough outing, so the homers were a welcome sight. In the 1st inning with two outs, Hamels allowed a single, hit a batter and walked two more, which walked a run home. In 5 innings, Hamels walked 4 batters, hit two batters and allowed 3 runs. So while he was not at his best, he did still keep the team in the game.
David Herndon pitched one inning in relief and had some trouble as well. With one run already across, it looked like Herndon had a ground ball double play to end the inning. Placido Polanco fielded the ball, tagged the runner and tossed to first. But the runner going to second was called safe, despite insistence from both Polanco and manager Charlie Manuel that he did indeed tag the runner. The ump did not see it and another run scored.
But the home runs kept coming and the Phillies took the lead right back. Then in the 7th, Shane Victorino caught what appeared to be a routine fly ball but was wincing in pain before the ball even arrived. He called the trainer over and was taken out of the game. The report is that Victorino has a left oblique strain. Oblique strains are tricky so if he lands on the DL, it would not be shocking.
What is shocking is that the Phillies cannot seem to catch a break with all the injuries. Yesterday, Jimmy Rollins got hurt when he fouled a ball off his foot. He seems to be feeling better, but may still miss another game or two. Now Victorino; plus Chase Utley is still recovering from his thumb injury and at one point, the Phils had seven players on the DL all at once.
The injuries are getting old; but the current win streak, despite the injuries, is certainly not getting old. After sweeping the Rockies in 4 games, they beat the D-Backs tonight by a score of 9-5 for their 6th straight win. The rookie Herndon picked up his first major league win. In addition, the Braves lost tonight so the Phillies gain a game on them. The Phils are now 3.5 games out of first.
There are two more games with the D-Backs left before the Phillies hit the road again. As for Victorino, we should know more tomorrow. If he lands on the DL, the Phils will probably call up either Domonic Brown or John Mayberry to take his spot. I know everyone will be rooting for Brown, but Mayberry may get the nod because he has already been in the majors and they may not want to start the clock on Brown’s options just yet. But my vote is that Victorino is okay…here’s hoping.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
After tonight’s horrifying loss to the Cubs, what I would like to know is, who kidnapped Roy Halladay and replaced him with an imposter? After six innings, this Halladay imposter had given up 6 runs, 5 of them earned. Who IS this guy? Will Ruben Amaro Jr. pay the ransom to get the real Halladay back? He wouldn’t pay to keep Cliff Lee, so I am not holding my breath. ;o)
Ok, back to reality… In one of Halladay’s worst outings as a Phillie, one thing did not change: he still did not get any run support from his offense. To make matters worse, the Phillies fielders did not bail him out in big situations either. In the 2nd inning, after already allowing 3 runs, Ryan Howard missed a foul ball pop-up from Derrek Lee that would have ended the inning.
Then, with 2 strikes on Lee and runners at first and third, Carlos Ruiz had a brain cramp. He decided to throw to second as Starlin Castro tried to steal and Ruiz botched the throw. Tyler Colvin scored easily from 3rd. Ruiz was given an error and Lee struck out on the next pitch. So that was one more unnecessary run handed over to the Cubs.
Things got monumentally worse in the 7th inning when the Phillies bullpen was called upon. JC Romero gave up 2 singles without recording an out and was pulled. The rookie David Herndon took over and the Cubs absolutely destroyed him. Herndon allowed 3 hits and a walk; by the end of the inning, 5 more runs had score. Two of those were charged to Romero and the other three to Herndon.
The score was 11-3 going into the 8th inning and basically, this game was over. Howard, Greg Dobbs and Ben Francisco all hit solo homers later, making the score 11-6, but that was the end of the scoring. The Phillies have not been hitting, now they are not pitching and even the fielding has been sloppy. In short, they are now worse than the Cubs. And that is very, very bad news.
This is just not the same Phillies team that fans have been used to seeing. They are not doing the little things right, as well as some big things, and they seem to have lost their Mojo. Maybe the Mojo was kidnapped along with Halladay?
Even more disturbing, Howard hit home runs in 3 out of 4 games of this Cubs series and the Phillies lost all three of those games. When even the Howard magic is not lighting a spark under this team, the Phillies are in big trouble.
The team travels to St. Louis next for a 4-game series with the Cardinals. It is just a guess, but I am willing to bet that facing Albert Pujols is not going to help the Phillies find their Mojo any faster. Game time tomorrow is 7:05pm.
Why ESPN Broadcasts Are So Entertaining:
In the first inning alone, ESPN viewers were treated to these gems:
– Joe Morgan says that Placido Polanco “runs well from the right side.” As opposed to?? He only hits from the right side.
– As Carlos Ruiz ran to catch a pop fly in foul ground, Jon Miller called him “Soto,” as in, Cubs catcher, Geovany Soto.
– While Roy Halladay was pitching, Milled said, “There’s an inside pitch to Halladay.” Wow. The man is really talented if he can pitch to himself.
And then in the 5th inning, another classic from Morgan: “If he had gotten the ball there (1st base) quicker, he’d have gotten him out faster.” It is official: Joe Morgan is a GENIUS.