Tagged: DL

Doubleheader, Double Wins as Phillies Sweep Rockies

After a ridiculous 3 hour rain delay on Saturday, the Phillies finally settled on a Sunday doubleheader to finish off the Rockies series.  Cole Hamels started the Day Game and allowed only 2 runs in 7 innings.

Chase Utley had his hands in a number of plays, including a hit, a walk and a very entertaining run scored:

The defense was solid, but the highlight was watching Ryan Howard hold onto the ball for an out after getting bowled over at 1st base by a Rockies player.  He also had 2 key RBI in the game.

The bullpen did not allow a run, setting up a 2-2 tie game going into the bottom of the 9th.

With the bases loaded and 1 out, John Mayberry Jr. connected for a game-winning, walk-off single.

The excitement continued in the Night Game, which turned out to be a comedy of errors for the Rockies.  They fumbled, dropped and just plain missed a lot of balls hit their way.  5 errors helped keep the Phillies alive after rookie starter Tyler Cloyd gave up 4 runs in 4 inning.

With the early exit, the Phillies wound up using 7 pitchers, none of whom allowed a run except Cloyd:

As it turns out, all the Phillies needed for the win besides pitching was Carlos Ruiz.  Fresh off the DL, Chooch got  a standing ovation when he stepped in to pinch hit.  And he promptly added to the Phillies fever with a single in the 6th that led to 2 runs and a Phillies lead.

Chooch stayed in the game to catch.  Ruiz was 2-for-2 with an RBI in his return, coming in cold off the DL, not having played a single inning in over a month.  No rehab start…nothing.  Just pure Chooch.  This guy is incredible.  Chooooooooooooooch!!!

The Phillies went on to win by a score of 7-4 to complete a 3-game sweep of the Rockies.

I have photos of both Game 1 and Game 2; just click the links.  Yes, it was a long day, but worth it!

The Marlins are up next….and a run at the postseason???  Hmmmm…..

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Youth Tops Reds

The Phillies topped the Reds on Monday afternoon by a score of 4-2 using a combination of rookies and just a dash of experience.  In his second major league start, Tyler Cloyd walked away with the victory.  Catcher Steven Lerud collected his first major league win behind the plate in his second appearance.  And Phillippe Aumont, in his 4th major league game, got his first major league save.

The three youngsters received support from another rookie making his first game appearance in 2012, Justin De Fratus.  De Fratus was expected to make the team out of spring training, but instead spent most of the year on the disabled list with a strained right flexor pronator tendon.  In Monday’s win, De Fratus pitched a scoreless 8th inning.

The other main contributor in the game had a little more experience.  Jimmy Rollins smashed a 3-run homer in the 5th inning, providing the rookies with much of the offense.  John Mayberry Jr. added the fourth run with a solo shot in the 6th.

This turn of events left me wondering…how do the Reds feel about basically being beaten by a minor league team?  Rollins helped, so I added him into “Our Gang” here as well (L-R Cloyd, Rollins, Lerud, Aumont):

If you don’t remember the above referenced TV show, clearly you are younger than I am so, congratulations on that ;o)

Besides watching the Phillies win with a bunch of rookies, the best part of this game was Cloyd’s grandmother, who was shown on camera numerous times, hands in the air, doing her grandma happy dance.  It was off-the-charts adorable.  You go, grandma!

Game 2 with the Reds starts at 7:10pm tonight.  Kyle Kendrick will be looking for his 5th consecutive win.

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Aumont, Lerud & Rollins head shots by Jenn Zambri Photography

No Doubt, Chase Utley Has Returned!

Chase Utley is back!  Even better, he is healthy and looks like the All-Star player we have known him to be.  Utley announced his return in his first at-bat of the year with a huge bang.  His fairy tale comeback began with a monster home run to center on a 2-2 count amidst 45,000 fans cheering wildly.

The ballpark exploded with joy from the upper levels down to the dugout where teammates showered Utley with man-hugs, high fives and ear-to-ear grins.  It appears the Chutley magic has returned!

As if that moment were not amazing enough, Carlos Ruiz made it even more special with another home run right after Utley’s and while the crowd was still celebrating the first one.  This had to be sign of better things to come for the Phillies.  For one inning, it felt as if the world was right again.

In honor of Utley’s amazing comeback, here is a montage of some of my favorite photos I have taken of him over the years:

Three cheers for Chase!  And 3 hits as well; Utley went 3-for-5 in his first game of the season.

But the elation of the moment was soon squashed by the Phillies dreadful bullpen, which ruined the day.  Short a starter because of the rain-out last weekend, the Phils were stuck with a bullpen game.  Raul Valdes started and, in the 1st inning, things looked promising.  But by the 2nd, things began to unravel quickly.

Valdes allowed a 3 run homer with 2 outs and the pitcher on deck.  Joe Savery took over in the 3rd and managed one clean inning before things got much worse.  He ended up with 5 runs allowed, two of which scored after Michael Schwimer took over with 2 outs in the 5th.  Savery was sent back to the minors after the game.

But the drama did not end there.  The Phillies actually mounted a comeback and cut the 8-2 deficit to 8-7 by the 7th inning.  It looked like they might actually still have a shot to win, which along with Utley’s return, would have been a massive boost for this team.

But the bullpen even managed to ruin that possibility.  That’s right…Chad Qualls strikes again.  Only he hardly threw any strikes.  Once he walked the first batter, it was clear that a large load of crap was about to hit the fan…again.  Sure enough, Qualls gave up 3 runs, including a 2-run homer.  That handed the Pirates an 11-7 win.

So we are left with three cheers for Chase and about three-hundred boo’s for the bullpen.  If this pen sucked any worse, it would be a little league pen.  Folks, this is BAD.  If the Phillies do not find some better arms soon, it won’t matter how many 3-for-5 games Utley has.  And I am pretty sure that Brian Sanches, called up in place of Savery, is not the answer.

Ryan Howard is starting a rehab assignment today, which should have him back with the team at least after the All-Star break.  But again, the Phillies still need a more solidified bullpen if he is going to be able to make an impact.

The final game of this series begins early, at 1:05pm.  Kyle Kendrick, who has been basically dreadful of late, is starting.  Cross all your fingers and toes that he snaps out of whatever funk he is in so the Phillies can win this 4-game series!

UPDATE: Chad Qualls is outta here!  The Phillies cut him today (“designated for assignment”) after many disasterous pitching efforts.  Excuse me for a moment while I do the happy dance…  Ok, I am back.  Filling his spot will be lefty Jeremy Horst, a rookie aquired in the Wilson Valdez trade.  I do not know much about him except he posted a 2.11 ERA in 26 games in Triple-A and he has to be better than Qualls.  We shall see…

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Steroid Drama Overshadows Philles Victory

There were many positives for the Phillies in last night’s 7-2 win over the RockiesCole Hamels returned to form and pitched extremely well.  John Mayberry Jr. continued his hot streak with 2 extra base hits, including a homer.  And Carlos Ruiz had 3 RBI and 2 hits, also including a homer.  Even better, the Phillies finally got through a game without committing an error.

But all those positives were overshadowed by some overwhelming negatives.  First, the lost of injuries for the Phillies keeps getting scarier.  Laynce Nix had a setback in his recovery, possibly reinjuring the same leg.  David Herndon underwent Tommy John surgery and is out for the year.

However, the biggest bomb dropped when it was announced before the game that rookie infielder Freddy Galvis would be suspended 50-games for violating the MLB drug policy.  He apparently tested positive for a trace amount of clostebol, an anabolic steroid.

Between this year and last, the Phillies have gone from first to worst.  They have seen their All-Star players and important role players decimated by injuries.  This is simply not what this team needed to hear right now.

To say this is disappointing is an extreme understatement.  Galvis was the one bright light in an otherwise dreary season for this team and now, that has been taken away as well.  I suppose the good news is that he can serve the suspension now, while he is in a back brace on the DL.  He probably would have missed at least 50 games anyway.

I do not pretend to know whether Galvis is innocent or guilty.  Although, you would think if he was juicing he would have hit a lot better than .226 with 15 doubles, 1 triple, 3 home runs and 24 RBIs.  We will probably never know for sure.

There are several reports in reputable medical journals that say this steroid can show up in urine in trace amounts after ingesting contaminated meat or after having “relations” with a woman who was using a particular cream for a “female condition” that contains clostebol.  In other countries, cattle are injected with this drug to “beef” them up, literally.

Even chicken are sometimes injected with steroids.  Studies in that area produced similar results, showing trace levels of the drug in those who consumed the meat.

So I suppose you have to be a vegetarian, Catholic priest with some mad baseball skills in order to avoid a false-positive test result?

And this is why I say we will never know for sure.  There are too many variables as we have seen in previous cases where athletes tested positive after taking a tainted substance.  Former Phillie J.C. Romero is a good example.  He won a law suit against the company who made supplements that were laced with a banned substance which was not on the label.  But even though MLB now acknowledges this issue, Romero still had to serve the suspension and will forever be judged unfairly in public opinion.

This by no means exonerates Galvis, but it does, once again, call into question the legitimacy of MLB’s drug policy.  A more recent example is Ryan Braun of the Brewers, who got off on a technicality involving the “transport” of his sample.

Now that MLB has made announcement about Galvis, we know that either there was no appeal or he already lost the appeal.  It is MLB policy to wait until that process is done before making the official announcement.

Regardless of what did or did not actually occur here, Galvis’ reputation is now mud.  And that is a real shame for a kid with so much potential.  And it is especially a shame for a fan base that has been desperately searching for a small glimmer of hope for this stumbling, last place team.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Thome’s Hot Bat Helps Phillies to a Win

The Phillies finally won a game last night, although by the skin of their teeth. The 9-8 victory over the Twins broke up a 3 game losing streak in a month where wins have been hard to come by.

The return of Jim Thome from the DL seems to have sparked an offensive explosion. After hitting at a rate of .100 before he went on the DL, Thome now has 10 hits in his last 5 games serving as the DH against the American League. Thome has also hit 2 home runs in that span, the longest of which was a whopping 466 feet last night. The slugger has officially returned!

A bunch of Phillies had big offensive days as well. Juan Pierre, Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz all had 3 hist. And John Mayberry Jr. racked up 4 RBI on 2 hits, including a 3-run homer in the 1st inning.

That first inning was a bit unusual though. The Twins starter, P.J. Walters wound up leaving the game with 4 runs allowed without even recording a single out. It was later reported that he was experiencing shoulder pain.

So the Phillies caught a break and racked up 6 runs in one inning, adding 3 more later. But they still showed the same problems they have been dealing with all year. For example, they Phillies loaded the bases with NO outs in the 9th and once again, failed to score. They could not even muster a sac fly. That is just not going to win them ballgames.

And what has become another disturbing trend is the starting pitching. Cole Hamels, probably the Phillies’ best pitcher not on the DL right now, has really fallen apart lately. Against the Twins, with that huge 6-run lead after the top of the 1st inning, Hamels got knocked around, allowing 7 runs over 6+ innings. Antonio Bastardo allowed one more, all of which turned a 6-run lead into only a 1-run lead.

Luckily, Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the win, having to record 4 outs in order to do so. But I am sure he was just glad to be able to pitch in a save situation, which there have been very few of lately.

Despite all the drama, there were a few great defensive moments thanks to Michael Martinez who also just came off the DL after breaking his foot in spring training. He made the last out of the game by catching a pop-up that was over his head and about to drop in the middle of nowhere. And earlier in the game, he dove to snag a ball hit hard up the middle and in the same motion, made an amazing glove toss to Jimmy Rollins at second.

The return of Martinez is a welcome site now that Freddy Galvis is on the DL with a back fracture (ouch!). Mikey-Mart is about the same offensively as Galvis and his defense, while not quite as spectacular, is still very solid. So welcome back, Mikey!

Although it may be a long shot, the Phillies ‘could’ – maybe – possibly – win this series with a victory tonight. Joe Blanton is pitching and he has given up a minimum of 5 runs in each of his last 5 games. Let us hope that trend ends tonight. Game time is 8:10pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Chase Utley & Our Great Expectations

It is official; Chase Utley will begin his rehab assignment with Class-A Clearwater today.  This gives him 20 days to return to the big league club, putting his return around or before July 2, 2012.

Are you totally psyched?  No?  Yeah, I am not terribly optimistic either.  It would just be wrong to expect the Utley of 2008 with 33 homers and a .380 on-base percentage to return.  He has battled chronic knee issues for 2+ seasons now.  And as of today, he has yet to play the field in a real game.

But in the back of your mind, aren’t you secretly praying, “Save us, Chase!  You are the only one who can!”?  However, great expectations are usually followed by great disappointment.  We cannot expect one man to save the Phillies season.  It is tempting though to think it could be possible, even if it is not likely.

So say Utley returns and looks like Mr. World-F*-Champions-era Utley.  The expectations will grow even stronger.  The problem with that is, some time down the road, those knees are going to start to ache again.  As his production decreases, the animosity will build among a fan base that is now used to winning.  And that is a recipe for producing some seriously upset fans.

My suggestion then is this: Lower your expectations.  Do not look for Utley to be Superman again.  Then if he does impress consistently, we can all be pleasantly surprised.

And now that I have just said that, my overactive brain is still concocting miracle scenarios for Utley to save this season.  I have tried telling my inner dialogue to shut up, but it is just not listening…

I mean, it is Chase Utley!  I have hundreds of Utley collectables, autographs and photos.  There is a shrine in my house dedicated to the man.  Heck, I even named my cat after him!  For God’s sake Mr. Utley, don’t let us all down!!

So much for tempering my expectations…

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Offense Finally on a Roll…

In the last two games, the Phillies have scored a total of 15 runs.  Since the start of the season, it did not look like that sort of run production was ever going to happen.  But Wednesday’s 7-2 win over the Diamondbacks may actually signal the awakening of this offense.

Cole Hamels certainly helped the situation with another great start, putting the Phillies in position to win.  Through 8 strong innings, Hamels allowed only 2 runs on 4 hits and struck out 7 batters.  He also lit things up at the plate with a 2-run single in the 6th inning.

This game was a real team effort, with everyone in the line-up contributing, even if it was just a sacrifice to move runners.  The biggest stand-out though was Placido Polanco who looked like the player of old.  He was on base after every at bat with 3 hits, 2 walks and an RBI.

Carlos Ruiz also had a 3-hit game and Hunter Pence collected 2 hits.  Now if the Phillies can just get Jimmy Rollins going, this might actually be a descent line-up again.

Thursday is an off-day with a 4-game home series beginning with the Cubs on Friday.  You know what the cure for a suffering offense is?  That’s right…the Cubs.  Cross your fingers…

Injury Updates:

As you may have heard, relief pitcher Mike Stutes is on the DL.  He has not looked the like the vibrant pitcher he was since about the final month of last season.  While this is concerning, his replacement, Michael Schwimer looked very sharp in Wednesday’s win.

As for Ryan Howard, he is still taking it easy.  But his wound is finally healing which means he may be able to start real baseball activity within the next week.

And my favorite topic of discussion, Chase Utley: Reportedly, Utley is feeling no knee pain while batting and some pain while fielding.  He took batting practice in Arizona with the team and many were encouraged by his swing.  However, here is a word of caution about all the optimism…

As a person with chronic knee issues, worse that what Utley has, I can tell you this; I also feel no pain while swinging a bat…ok, in my knees at least ;o)  The joint rotation does not bother me.  However, running and anything involving impact, like chasing ground balls, is a whole other story.

I have not been able to play serious baseball since I was 16 years old after blowing out both my knees.  But it was not because I could not still hit; it was because I could not run.  All these years later, I can still hit, but I still cannot run and never will.  Are you following my thought process here?

Granted, I have worse issues that Utley.  But my point is, yes, he looks good hitting.  But the real test will be impact movements, like running.  The fact that Utley still has some pain while fielding is not a good sign.  Running is generally more strenuous than fielding due to the repetition of the impact on the knees.  So if it is hard to field, running will only make that worse.

I am a huge Chase Utley fan and I would love nothing more than to see him get better and back to his old self.  However, all of this makes me very nervous.  If he comes back too early, he can do more damage to his knees.  But we all want him to come back sooner than later and I am sure he does as well.

So be optimistic; but be cautiously optimistic.

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography