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
It was another bad night for Kyle Kendrick. Against the Reds, Kendrick pitched 6 1/3 innings while allowing 5 earned runs on 8 hits, including a 2-run homer to ex-Phillie Scott Rolen. Chase Utley committed an error at the start of the 6th inning which gave Kendrick a little extra rope to hang himself with.
Kendrick still seems to have trouble buckling down and making pitches after something bad happens, like an error that puts the opposing team’s pitcher on base. No pitcher is happy when this occurs, but the good ones do not let it bother them and proceed to work out of the mess. Some days, Kendrick looks sure of himself on the mound; and other days, he looks out of place. But the Phillies have few other options with JA Happ still not recovering well from his injury.
Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto is similar to Kendrick in the consistency department. He will have a few really bad games, then some really good ones. Unfortunately for the Phils, tonight Cueto had a good game and the offense sputtered against him. Phillies batters had a few opportunities to pounce on Cueto, but they came up short each time, going only 2 for 7 with runners in scoring position. In all, they left 4 men on base and had 8 hits.
Utley got tossed out trying to stretch a single into a double and both Raul Ibanez and Brian Schneider hit into double plays. Although on replay, Ibanez should have been called safe. Ryan Howard had 2 hits in the game, including a triple, and he scored one of only two runs in the game for the Phillies. Ibanez hit a solo homer in the 9th with two outs.
The bullpen did not help out either; David Herndon gave up a hit which allowed one of Kendrick’s base runners to score and in the 8th inning, Mike Zagurski allowed a run on one hit and a walk. In all, it was an evening to forget as the Phillies lost by a score of 7-2.
In injury news, Placido Polanco did not play again today after getting another cortisone injection in his sore elbow on Sunday. He may play tomorrow but it looks like this will be an on-going issue for the rest of the season. Polanco will play through the pain and possibly have surgery in the off-season. That makes one wonder how productive he will be the rest of the year, but all we can do is wait and see. But a slightly banged up Polanco is probably better that leaving Wilson Valdez at third all year.
I have also just heard that Utley was pulled in the 9th inning because he hurt his thumb sliding into 2nd base. He will have an MRI tomorrow…cross your fingers.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
An explosion of hitting broke out in Milwaukee this weekend. The Phillies beat the Brewers both Friday and Saturday by wide margins with a lot of help from the offense. In these last 2 games, Phillies hitters pounded out 28 hits and 19 runs, including 4 home runs. The biggest bang came from Shane Victorino who collected 6 hits and 7 RBI in the two games combined. And today, Paul Hoover, the 3rd string catcher, showed what he can do with 3 hits and 2 RBI to back pitcher Joe Blanton.
The pitching was not as stellar as the hitting, but both Jamie Moyer and Blanton hung in there.
On Friday in a 9-5 win, Moyer went 6 1/3 innings allowing 4 earned runs and 1 unearned following last week’s historical complete game shut-out. It was 70’s night at the park and the 47-year old Moyer looked quite at home in the old powder blue & magenta retro uniform.
Blanton escaped the embarrassing powder blue spotlight by pitching today in the regular greys, but it did not help his performance at all. He did well through 6 innings, allowing just 2 solo homers, but by the end of the 6th, he looked tired. Blanton has just 3 starts so far as he was on the DL the first month of the season. With that in mind, maybe the Phillies needed to break him in a tad slower? Because when they sent him out for the 7th, he gave up 3 more runs.
The bullpen held the Brewers down on Friday and had a fairly easy time closing the game out. That did not happen today. David Herndon allowed 3 hits and a run in just 1/3 of the 9th inning. With 2 men on base, Jose Contreras came in and loaded the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate. But that’s ok, he struck out the next 2 batters for the first save of career and the Phillies won, 10-6. Whew!
The Phillies have one more game with the Brewers tomorrow night at 8:05pm and are hoping for a sweep. Cole Hamels will pitch.
And in case you had not heard, Pat Burrell was released by the Tampa Bay Rays today. Burrell did not fare well as a designated hitter, batting only .218 since he left the Phillies after the 2008 season. Do not look for the Phillies to do him any favors by taking him back; he cannot play the field effectively anymore and our current bench players are performing well. Maybe in September they can bring him back to retire as a Phillie? In the meantime, I wish him luck in finding a job. Burrell will always be remembered in Philly for helping to bring us a World Championship :O)
UPDATE: This just in…Brad Lidge has been put on the DL with elbow inflammation (can I say now I told you so?). Lefty Antonio Bastardo will be brought back up to take his place on the roster.
Moyer photo by ESPN; Explosion: USDOE
The first game of this Phillies – Rockies series got off to a good start thanks to some heavy hitting in the 9th. The game remained close for the first 8 innings, with Kyle Kendrick allowing 4 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks through 6 of those. Kendrick struggled to get that far and has still not been able to show any consistency in his starting role after a very good game his last time out.
But Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz were not going to allow those 4 runs to ruin the day. Victorino did an amazing job in the lead-off spot, reaching base 5 out of 6 at-bats with 2 triples and 3 walks. Ruiz went 4 for 5 in the game with 2 RBI, one of which was a solo homer to give the Phillies a lead.
JC Romero pitched 1/3 of the 7th inning and tied the game up again by allowing 1 run on 2 hits and a walk. David Herndon finished the inning, getting some help from Chase Utley who turned an amazing double play. Utley dove for the ball and tossed it to Wilson Valdez from the ground using only his glove. Valdez relayed to 1st and ended the inning.
Speaking of Valdez, this kid is really struggling at the plate. As the back-up to the back-up at short-stop, he has hit into a double play in each of the last 4 games, killing rallies everywhere he goes. In this game, he went 0-4 and is now batting .152. So, where is Juan Castro? He has been out nursing a minor calf injury and last played on May 5th, until he came in last night for defense in the 9th. I guess being put in for 1 inning last night is a good sign, but he had better be backing in hitting shape soon because Valdez is not getting it done.
So the 9th inning for the Phillies turned into a big rally to help cap off the win. Ryan Howard got hit with a pitch to start it off and the Rockies later intentionally walked Raul Ibanez. The super-hot Ruiz stepped up and whacked a single to break the 5-5 tie as Howard scored. Then to put the exclamation mark on the evening, Ross Gload nailed a pinch-hit 3-run homer to give the Phillies the 9-5 win.
Jose Contreras closed the game in the bottom of the 9th. Brad Lidge was unavailable due to soreness in his elbow…again. He just came off the DL and is already having issues in the same elbow that was surgically repaired in the off-season. This is not a good sign. Could it be a foretelling of things to come? Let us hope not.
The Phillies will send Roy Halladay to the mound tonight in game 2 of the series. Game time is 8:40pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Have you ever noticed how a player on your favorite team seems like an Angel in the right uniform?
But when he goes to another team, he becomes the Devil. Such is the case with Rodrigo Lopez who pitched for the Phillies last year and went to the Diamondbacks for 2010. Lopez started the game against the Phillies today and pitched 6 innings, allowing 6 runs. So, while we thank him for the 6 runs, sadly, he would only have earned his wings back if he gave us about 15 runs.
Because it looked like the Phillies were going to need 15 runs to win this one. Kyle Kendrick started out pitching really well, but that only lasted 4 innings. By the 5th, Kendrick had returned to his old ways, leaving balls way up in the hitter’s happy-zones and before you knew it, 5 runs had crossed the plate. Kendrick was pulled after 5 innings and his outing turned into a huge disappointment.
The offense tried to keep pace and by the top of the 6th, they had gone ahead of the D-Backs by a score of 6-5. Greg Dobbs hit a 2-run homer in the first, Ross Gload had 2 hits and an RBI and Carlos Ruiz gave them the lead with a 2-out, 2-run single.
The line-up tonight was a bit odd, with Gload and Dobbs in the 1 & 2 spots and Wilson Valdez at short stop. Juan Castro is still nursing a sore hamstring; Shane Victorino sat in order to re-group as he has not been hitting lately; and Dobbs took 3rd base for Placido Polanco. Polly has not looked the same since getting hit in the elbow with a pitch.
So if the Phillies were going to pull out a series win, they were going to have to depend on the back-up players and also hope that the pitching would hold up. The back-ups did their job; the pitchers did not.
After Kendrick’s disastrous 5th inning, Danys Baez could not hold the lead. He gave up 1 run in the 7th to tie the game at 6-6. David Herdon got into trouble in the 8th; with no outs, Raul Ibanez threw a runner out going home and Ruiz held onto the ball for the out. Herndon got a second chance, but he blew it. A 1-out double scored the go-ahead run and then the hits kept coming. By the end of the inning, the Phillies were down by a score of 6-8 and only 1 inning left to get back in it.
And as expected with this suddenly unpredictable offense, the Phillies fell short in the 9th and went down 6-8. Having lost this series 1 game to 2, the Phillies have a lot of issues to address, not the least of which is starting pitching. One man does not a rotation make and Roy Halladay can only win 1 game every five days. Kendrick and Cole Hamels need to get their act together…fast. Joe Blanton and JA Happ had better get well soon and Jamie Moyer is holding his own in the 5th spot.
An even bigger issue is the bullpen; their performance has varied from inconsistent to just plain awful. A lot of the pen pitchers, like Baez, seem to have a one game on, one game off thing going on. It is like the see-saw ride from hell. You just never know which end is going to be up or down and when.
And now the Phillies are heading to San Francisco to face the Giants red-hot pitching staff. With all the injuries and inconsistent performances, the Phillies may be headed into big, big trouble. And Trouble is called Jonathan Sanchez and Tim “I have 2 Cy Youngs” Lincecum. The first game of the series starts tomorrow at 10:15pm. Bust out the bottle of Tums; this is going to be interesting.
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography except Lopez as a D-Back; MLB.com
Last night’s Hamels Arizona adventure included a 4th inning where he gave up 4 home runs for 5 runs scored total. The following inning, he gave up another homer, making it 5 homers on the night. Prior to that, he looked like the Hamels of old, striking out batters and confusing them with his change-up. Then all of a sudden, Hamels got the ball up in the zone and threw nearly everything right over the plate. He looked like he was pitching batting practice to a thankful D-Backs team.
Hamels even had a hand in scoring before the mysterious 4th inning disaster happened; he belted a double in the 3rd inning and Shane Victorino drove him home with a triple. A very strange play led to the Phillies 2nd run of the night; Jayson Werth hit a long fly ball in the 4th which center fielder Chris Young caught, for just a moment. Young let the ball dribble out the bottom of his glove before he made the exchange to his throwing hand and it was ruled a ball in play. Werth saw the ball drop and kept running until he crossed home plate.
The D-Backs manager A.J. Hinch, who played for the Phillies in 2004, argued that it was a catch but the ump ruled it was not a catch as the fielder did not have control and did not make the exchange to his other hand before dropping it. It was scored as a 4-base error. There’s one you won’t see every day.
So things were looking up for the Phillies until the bottom of that same inning when the bottom fell out for Hamels and batting practice took over. JC Romero made his season debut after coming off the DL but he looked very rusty. Romero fell behind both batters he faced, giving up a solo homer and walking the next batter.
Jose Contreras took over the 7th inning and escaped without further drama. Rookie David Herndon pitched the 8th and did a good job as well. The Phillies entered the 9th inning losing 3-7. Victorino managed a 2-out single and RBI, but the Phillies rally ended there and they lost 4-7 to a last place team.
The only proper response to a pounding by a last place team is to win the next two games. And the Phillies had better do just that if they are going to avoid total humiliation. Nelson Figueroa will pitch tonight in place of the injured JA Happ. I do not envy Figueroa; this poor guy has the weight of the world on his shoulders right now. Best of luck to him…game time is 8:10pm.
Head shot by Jenn; cartoon by grinningplanet.com
Phillies fans were singing in the rain tonight as Roy Halladay drown the Marlins. Sprinkles fell throughout most of the game, but had no effect on Halladay’s performance. He went through 8 innings, allowing just 2 runs and striking out 4 batters. Halladay’s home debut was exactly what fans had looked forward to seeing, minus the rain, of course.
The Phillies offense had another spectacular game as well, scoring 8 runs on 12 hits and 5 walks. Every position player except Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez collect at least 1 RBI and everyone, except Ibanez, had at least one hit in the game. Even Halladay knocked a single. The big fish of the day however, turned out to be Juan Castro; he had 2 hits for 3 RBI while filling in for the injured Jimmy Rollins.
And of course, Chase Utley hit yet another home run, passing Albert Pujols for the most in the National League with 6. It was also Utley’s 4th game in a row with a homer. Clearly, Utley is in the zone, where we hope he will stay for a long time.
What looked like an easy win, turned into a near disaster in the 9th inning. With an 8-2 lead, rookie relief pitcher David Herndon allowed 4 runs on a bunch of ridiculously unlucky dribbling infield hits by the Marlins. Ryan Madson had to be brought in for the save. A huge sigh of relief overcame the fan as Madson got the last two outs and the Phils went home with an 8-6 win. Whew! Tomorrow, they will start Jamie Moyer, a notorious Fish killer, in the 7:05pm start.
Here is a quick injury update as well: JC Romero made a rehab start for the AAA Iron Pigs tonight and pitched a scoreless inning. He threw 17 pitches, 13 of which were strikes. He is inching closer each day to a return to Philly. This is very good news for a bullpen that appears to be struggling without him.
Starter Joe Blanton threw a bullpen session today and is scheduled to make a rehab appearance for single-A Lakewood on Tuesday. Kyle Kendrick will continue to fill in as a starter until Blanton returns, despite two very bad outings so far.
Brad Lidge is working towards his return, which looks like it may be at the end of the month. His pitch speed has improved, but he still has a lot of work to do. Cross your fingers… ;o)