An 11-1 loss against the Mets tonight was a complete and utter disaster on all sides for the Phillies. The pitching stunk, the offense was invisible and the defense phoned it in too.
Vance Worley had the worst start of his career, allowing 6 runs in only 4 innings. When Raul Valdes took over, he left 2 runners on base in the 6th before being pulled with 2 outs recorded. Why was he pulled? Because apparently, he was not giving up enough home runs. So the Phillies brought in Brian Sanches from our minor-league bullpen to take care of that. David Wright thanks him for the 3 RBI.
Behind the pitchers, the defense was not great either. John Mayberry Jr. missed a fly ball he should have caught. Chase Utley made a mistake on what could have been a double play ball. Instead, both runners were safe. And Placido Polanco was charged with a throwing error.
But the offense was even worse. The Phillies managed only 3 hits and went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position. The only Phillies run in the game was a solo homer from Carlos Ruiz in the 2nd inning.
Folks, this is as bad as it could possibly get right now. This game was the epitome of this horrible season, now more than halfway over. We could all try chanting the insurance jingle, “Like a good agent, State Farm is there…with a 10-game winning streak! Poof!” But I have a very bad feeling that even that will not help.
Instead, you could go to blast some virtual home runs online at statefarm.com/gotobat for the chance to win two tickets to the World Series. So even if the team doesn’t win, you can get back that feeling of good baseball, even if it is just a virtual version.
I mention that because the Go To Bat charity has offered me a video interview with Ryan Howard! I will be posting that sometime next week during the All-Star break; Ryan will be in Kansas City promoting the charity and I have a few fun questions for him.
So there is a little bit of good news in the midst of a whole bunch of bad.
The Phillies will try once again to conjure a win tomorrow at 1:10pm. Start praying for a 4th of July miracle!
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Utley photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Against the Mets today, pitcher Vance Worley looked less like the “Vanimal” and more like a sad puppy. He allowed 4 runs on 8 hits and 4 walks over six innings. Worley’s usual bite was tamed today.
But what is worse than a sad puppy on the mound? Sad pandas in the batter’s box. They are adorable and you want to love them, but ultimately, they will rip your heart out. Introducing… the Phillies pathetic offense.
They did Worley no favors today. Despite having the lead-off runner reach base in three innings, the Phillies were still unable to score. And all 6 hits they collected were singles.
For the Mets, David Wright played with a broken pinky finger and still had 3 hits, including a homer. That is exactly half of all the Phillies’ hits combined. And Wright is a pretty boy. That’s right; the Phillies got spanked by a pretty boy. I am so depressed…
Obviously, the Phillies have gotten off to some bad starts in the past. But this year, only 8 games old, seems somehow more alarming. Maybe it is because there is more on the line. They have the largest payroll in team history, the best pitching they could possibly have and this is the result so far? Ouch.
Cross your fingers that they can salvage a win tomorrow before going on the road. Game time is 1:35pm and I will return with photos.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The five teams in the NL East, the Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Mets and Nationals, have all had busy off-seasons trying to improve their clubs. Some have been more successful than others. And some, like the Phillies and Mets, are moving very slowly through the free agent and trade possibilities.
Here is a countdown of the top 10 moves so far within the division and a breakdown of potential future moves for each team.
#10 – Three Relief Pitchers to the Marlins
In mid-November, the Red Sox swapped lefty relievers with the Marlins. Dustin Richardson went to the Marlins and Andrew Miller landed with the Red Sox. Miller, previously a highly-touted prospect, was a disappointment in Florida. He struggled with control and lacked consistency.
The addition of Richardson is a good move for the Marlins. At only 26-years of age, Richardson posted a 4.15 in 26 relief appearances in the bigs, although most of his time has been spent in the minors. This lefty has great potential. The Marlins hope they can mould him into a solid reliever.
The very next day, the Marlins also acquired two right-handers, Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica. The Marlins sent Cameron Maybin to the Padres in exchange. Webb has averaged a 3.19 ERA in two major league seasons while Mujica is going into his 6th season having posted a 3.62 ERA last year.
These three pitchers combined should make a major impact on the Marlins 2011 bullpen.
#9 – Dennys Reyes to the Phillies
The Phillies have agreed to terms with veteran left-hander, Dennys Reyes. The 33-year-old reliever posted a 3.55 ERA in 59 relief appearances last season for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Phillies chose not to re-sign JC Romero after Romero struggled with control and left elbow surgery last offseason seemed to alter his mechanics. Reyes will be counted on to take over for Romero.
The only other lefty who has had much success with the Phillies in the few past years is Antonio Bastardo. The Phillies will likely go into the 2011 season with these two left-handed relievers in the bullpen.
#8 – Javier Vazquez to the Marlins
Right-handed starter Javier Vazquez struggled last year with the Yankees, ending the season with a 10-10 record and a 5.32 ERA. However, Vazquez pitched for the Braves in 2009 and ended with a 2.87 ERA. A return to the NL East may be exactly what Vazquez needs to get back on track.
The Marlins also like the idea that Vazquez can eat innings for them, which is something they have been lacking. This 13-year veteran is sure to bring some stability to the Marlins rotation.
#7 – Eric Hinske re-signs with the Braves
The Braves liked Eric Hinske in left field last year, where he made only 1 error in 360 innings. At the plate, Hinske hit .256 with 11 homers and a .793 OPS. In 2011, Hinske is likely to serve as a left-handed pinch-hitter who may fill in for Martin Prado from time to time.
#6 – John Buck to the Marlins
Catcher John Buck will enter his 8th major league season with a 3-contract from the Florida Marlins. Buck had a breakout year in 2010 with the Blue Jays and made the All-Star team for the first time in his career.
Buck set career highs in batting average (.281), on-base percentage (.314), homers (20) and RBIs (66) with the Jays and also threw out 28% of runners attempting to steal. The Marlins may have hit a home run with this signing.
Jose Contreras spent most of his career as a starter until last year with the Phillies where he made a nice transition into a full-time reliever. Contreras was one of the most dependable relievers in the Phillies bullpen and as such, the Phillies rewarded him with a new 2-year deal, including an option for a third year.
Contreras went 6-4 with four saves and a 3.34 ERA in 67 games in 2010. He is able to pitch multiple innings when necessary and can also fill in as a closer. This gives the Phillies some much needed stability in the bullpen.
#4 – Scott Linebrink to the Braves
There was one more pitching swap this offseason as the Braves sent Kyle Cofield to the White Sox in exchange for another righty, Scott Linebrink. At 23 years of age, Cofield was moved in favor of experience. Linebrink is a 12-year veteran who has had a fairly consistent career. He went 3-2 with a 4.40 ERA as a reliever for the White Sox last year and will be a solid piece in the Braves bullpen.
#3 – George Sherrill to the Braves
Continuing to add pitching, the Braves signed lefty reliever George Sherrill, who will be entering his 8th season in the majors. The one-year deal is a smart one for the Braves as it is fairly low-risk. Sherrill performed well in 2008 and 2009, but last year, he ran into trouble. Posting a 6.69 ERA with the Dodgers in 65 games, Sherrill got destroyed facing right-handed hitters who batted .427 off him.
If Sherrill can rebound to his 2009 form, the Braves move will pay major dividends. If not, they only spent $1.2 million dollars to sign him. This looks like a winner for the Braves.
#2 – Dan Uggla to the Braves
His name is Dan Uggla and yes, he is now a Brave. This All-Star second baseman has been tearing up the NL East for five years now. The Marlins refused to meet Uggla’s demand of a five-year contract and decided to trade him. They received Omar Infante and left-handed reliever Michael Dunn in exchange.
The winner of this trade may be a tough call. Uggla, with 33 homers last year, gives the Braves a right-handed power bat. However, Infante is a more versatile and solid defender. Plus, Infante batted over .300 each of the past two seasons. And with good left-handed relievers hard to come by, Dunn’s 1.89 ERA in 25 games last year looks pretty good. However, Dunn is a rookie with little experience so the Marlins cannot be sure what they will get out of him.
The worst news about this trade for the NL East is that Uggla remains in the NL East. The Marlins may have just shot themselves, plus three other teams, directly in the foot.
If anything is certain about this signing, it is that no one saw it coming. The 7-year, $126 million dollar deal handed to right fielder Jayson Werth is the biggest move made in the NL East so far this offseason. It may even wind up being one of the top five deals in all of baseball by the time 2011 gets started.
The Phillies could not afford to meet Werth’s demand, who made his first All-Star appearance with them in 2009. Batting .296 with 27 homers and 85 RBI last year, this five-tool player is a great addition to any team. However, at 31 years of age, Werth’s 7-year deal may look foolish a few seasons down the road.
Potential Future Moves: The Phillies
A name you are likely to hear a lot in the coming weeks is Zack Greinke. In fact, the only NL East team who has not been linked to Greinke is the Mets. The Royals have made it known that they are willing to part with this right-handed starter for the right price. Once Cliff Lee signs somewhere, the market for Greinke will certainly heat up.
While Greinke is on the Phillies wish list, they may also be looking at right fielder Delwyn Young. Having spent the last two years with the Pirates, Young has not exactly been lighting up the batter’s box, hitting only .236 last year. But the Phillies are still deciding how to replace Jayson Werth. Young is a possibility, but look for the Phils to fill the spot internally.
Potential Future Moves: The Braves
Aside from Zack Greinke, the Braves are also rumored to be in talks with lefty reliever Ron Mahay. While with the Braves the last few months of 2007, Mahay posted a 2.25 ERA in 30 appearances and has since expressed interest in returning to the Braves.
Mahay had surgery near the end of the 2010 season for a torn rotator cuff. but with left-handers in short supply, the Braves may take a look at re-signing Mahay.
Despite signing a few lefties already, the Marlins are still looking for depth in this area. Ron Mahay, whom the Braves are looking into, is also a possibility here. A few other lefties the Marlins may consider are Joe Beimel and JC Romero. Beimel posted a 3.40 ERA in 45 innings last year and Romero had a 3.68 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.
The Marlins have also been tossing around the idea of signing right fielder Delwyn Young, whom the Phillies expressed interest in as well.
Potential Future Moves: The Mets
The Mets have not made many moves this offseason aside from a few smaller players like catcher Ronnie Paulino and righty DJ Carrasco. The biggest potential move for the Mets may be simply retaining outfielder Carlos Beltran. Already signed through 2011, several teams including the Red Sox, have expressed interest in a trade for Beltran.
With budget concerns, the Mets have little room to squeak out any significant deals. Therefore, the most important move they make may just be retaining players like Beltran, David Wright and Jose Reyes. The Mets will need to resist the urge to dump payroll if they are to have a chance to compete in 2011.
Potential Future Moves: The Nationals
While the Nationals severely overpaid for right fielder Jayson Werth, they may not be done just yet. It seems, that like a lot of teams, star pitcher Cliff Lee is on their radar. And similar to the Werth deal, no one would ever see it coming. But the Nats appear to have money to burn so Lee may not be out of the question.
Veteran outfielder Randy Winn has also been rumored to be generating interest in Washington. Also add first baseman Adam LaRoche to their wish list and right-handed reliever Kevin Gregg. Gregg spent two years in the NL East with the Marlins from 2007 to 2008. He pitched in 63 games for the Blue Jays last year and posted a 3.51 ERA. Several teams, including the Nationals, have been courting the reliever.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Over the last several years, manufacturing runs and playing small ball has not been the Phillies forte. Predominantly a power hitting line-up, they are suffering from a major power outage with both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley on the DL. But a little small ball tonight helped them crank out some runs to beat the Mets.
In the 3rd inning, Jimmy Rollins singled and then stole both second and third bases with 2 outs in the inning. Shane Victorino doubled to drive Rollins home for their first run of the game. It was Victorino again in the 5th who singled with two outs and stole second. Placido Polanco singled to send Victorino home. Then in the 6th, Jayson Werth led off with a triple and Carlos Ruiz singled him in.
Both Werth and Victorino had a multiple hit night; 2 for Werth and 3 for Victorino. Polanco was hit by a pitch in the hand early in the game but kept playing. Nothing else was said about it so hopefully, he is fine. Although, at the time, it looked painful.
Kyle Kendrick started the game for the Phils and went 6 2/3 innings allowing just one run; it was a home run from Jose Reyes. Kendrick walked only one batter and struck out 4. His last time out, Kendrick allowed 5 runs in only 3 1/3 innings, so this was a great improvement.
With a 3-1 lead, Ryan Madson pitched the 8th without allowing a run. And then Brad Lidge, who has never blown a save against the Mets in his career, came in for the 9th. Lidge kept that streak alive by retiring the Mets in order. The Phillies are now tied for the Wild Card lead and 2 games behind the Braves in the NL East.
In injury news, it appears that Utley may be back with the team as early as Tuesday after having surgery on his thumb for a torn ligament on July 1. He is already playing in rehab games in Clearwater. If Utley does return that soon, we can officially dub him Superman. Either that, or World’s Fastest Healer. Howard may also be back around the same time. That will be a huge boost for the Phillies!
The Phillies have a day off tomorrow before the Giants come to town for a 3-game series starting on Tuesday. If all goes according to plan, I should be at all three games. As usual, I shall return with photos :O)
Pelfrey photo from AP; Werth photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
For the second consecutive night, the first hit of the game for the Phillies came off the bat of the starting pitcher. Unlike last night, that hit by Roy Halladay was not the only hit of the night. Singles by Jimmy Rollins and then Placido Polanco scored Halladay, marking the first run in 38 2/3 innings for the Phillies at Citi Field in NY.
Halladay was on fire tonight. His dominance was very evident in the 4th inning when, after allowing a lead-off triple to Jose Reyes, Halladay buckled down and got the next 3 batters out without allowing Reyes to score. Halladay went 8 innings, allowing only 4 hits, no walks and he struck out 7.
And although the Phillies offense is still not quite clicking in NY, the Mets defense gave them a much needed boost. I was so moved by their play, I just had to write a love letter in their honor:
Dear Mets Defense,
I would like to express my sincere gratitude for your efforts tonight. Those three errors and three unearned runs for the Phillies truly exceeded my expectations.
Watching an easy grounder dribble through the legs of All-Star third baseman David Wright was inspiring. I nearly shed a happy tear.
Though you may sometimes feel underappreciated, do not fret. We, the Phillies fans, are very thankful for your hard work and dedication to mediocrity. And if you can repeat the same performance tomorrow night as well, I promise to be your best friend…for at least one day.
Don’t you feel all warm and fuzzy inside now? I know I do.
So last night the Mets shut out the Phillies; tonight, the Phillies returned the favor with a 4-0 win behind the arm of Halladay. The final game of this series with the Mets is tomorrow night at 8:05pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Last Sunday, the Phillies handled the Mets knuckleballer, RA Dickey, scoring 4 runs. But tonight, Friday the 13th, the Phillies went hitless through 5 innings.
Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels had to break up the no-hitter himself in the 6th inning with a single, since none of his teammates were helping out.
Hamels certainly had a very strange night. In the 4th inning, he was hit in the leg with a line drive but appears to be okay. The next inning, Mike Hessman hit a long fly ball to left field that was called a home run. Raul Ibanez jumped up and down trying to signal to the umpire that a fan reached over the wall and interfered. Upon review, the homer was retracted but Hessman was awarded third base. This is guy who does not run well and the ball dropped close to Ibanez. How exactly the ump determined he would have had a triple is beyond me.
But it did not matter anyway; Hamels struck out the next 2 batters and got Dickey to ground out to end the inning. So the Mets left a runner on third with no outs thanks to the effort by Hamels. Then in the 6th inning, Hamels had two quick outs when David Wright hit a long fly ball to center. Shane Victorino misjudged the ball and it bounced over his head for a double. The inning should have been over; instead, the Mets scored a run after Carlos Beltran doubled next.
Through 8 innings, Hamels only allowed that one run while striking out 8 batters. He was spectacular.
The offense, on the other hand, was not so spectacular. By the 8th, they still had only ONE hit off Dickey; the single by Hamels. This poor guy has gotten NO support from the offense all year long.
The 9th inning was no different; Dickey pitched a one hit shut-out with the only hit allowed coming from the opposing pitcher. The Phillies are now scoreless at Citi Field for 36 straight innings. It was also their 10th time being shut-out this year. Disgusting.
The Phillies will attempt to score a run again tomorrow; game time is 7:10pm.
Dickey photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies reclaimed their spot in first place last night after an 11-5 win over the Mets. Let us begin with the Tale of Two Teams: Before the game, people like Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino had their game faces on. Jimmy Rollins, still on the DL, was relaxed and posing for me and Jose Reyes was busy fixing his hair. A foretelling of things to come perhaps?
As for the game itself, most of it can be summed up in two innings. In the first inning, things did not look good for pitcher Jamie Moyer and the Phillies. Moyer got the first two outs but after allowing a few singles and then a home run to David Wright, he was in a big hole quickly.
Moyer’s performances this year have had one huge flaw; he always seems to have one bad inning where he gives up a bunch of runs. In the top of the 4th, he allowed 2 more runs on a Rod Barajas homer. Barajas has done serious damage to the Phillies every time he has played his ex-team. Although, Placido Polanco did manage to tag Barajas out going to third:
But the bottom of the 4th inning blew the game wide open for the Phillies. The Mets ace, Johan Santana, had been mowing down Phillies batters, except for solo homers from Polanco and Howard in the 1st. After a Chase Utley double, Santana got the next two batters out, but things then spun wildly out of control.
Raul Ibanez singled to score Utley and Carlos Ruiz walked after that. The bases were loaded with 2 outs for the pitcher, Moyer. You had to imagine Moyer would just make the last out and that would be that. But once Moyer ran the count 2-0, the crowd exploded with anticipation of what might happen next.
On their feet and screaming, “Johan! Johan!” the fans rattled Santana and Moyer, will amazing discipline at the plate, drew the walk to force in a run. Everyone began having flashbacks to Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS when Brett Myers and the crowd did the exact same thing to pitcher CC Sabathia. And who should step to the plate but the same hero from that NLDS game, Shane Victorino.
Back in October of 2008, Victorino followed up the Myers walk with a Grand Slam. Last night, history repeated itself as Victorino, with the crowd cheering him on, hit another Grand Slam! It was the 2nd of his career and I have been present for both of those slams. Shane may want to send me some tickets as it appears I am his good luck charm ;o)
But the inning did not end there. Polanco singled and then Utley homered; and with that, Santana was finally run out of the game. The Mets bullpen gave up one more run after that making it a grand total of 9 runs in the inning. Santana was responsible for 8 of those, which is more runs that he gave up in the entire month of April. And the 10 runs total marks the most runs ever allowed by Santana in a single game for his career.
The Phillies batted around plus 4 in the inning and the outburst seemed to give Moyer new life on the mound. He pitched two scoreless innings after that and even got a hit in the 5th inning. Chad Durbin pitched the 7th and 8th innings without allowing a hit and Danys Baez, feeling comfy with a 6-run lead, closed out the game.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game. Tonight, the Phillies will begin a new series against the Cardinals with Joe Blanton finally returning from the DL. Game time is 7:05pm. Best of luck to Blanton in his season debut!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography