Only 2 games into the season, some odd things have happened with the Phillies. Game 1 was a 14-10 hitting spree win. And yesterday’s 3-2 loss to the Rangers was quite the opposite. Manager Ryne Sandberg made some very puzzling moves with the line-up and pitching during the game.
First, not all the line-up changes were too weird. I liked Ryan Howard hitting 5th against a lefty and using Chase Utley as the DH. But starting Jayson Nix at third instead of Cody Asche the day after he has a career game with 4 runs scored and 3 hits? That I do not understand.
I get the whole lefty facing a lefty thing and if it were a week or two into the season, then sure, give Asche a break against a lefty. But the timing of this move in only the second game of the season with Asche having big momentum coming off Monday’s win is confusing. I do not think it was the right call; but they don’t pay me to make those decisions.
Another decision I would not have made was tossing a rookie pitcher making his major league debut into a tie game in the 9th inning against a very strong lineup. Poor Mario Hollands had to face Shin-Soo Choo (walk), Elvis Andrus (sac bunt) and Prince freaking Fielder (walk)! Seriously? Is there anyone else out there who thought this was a good idea? Talk about being thrown into the fire…
Sandberg also reused 3 relievers who had pitched the day before while leaving 2 guys in the pen, Justin DeFratus and Brad Lincoln, who have not pitched at all in 2 games. Lincoln did not have a great spring, but few Phillies did. And I definitely would have thrown DeFratus out there in the 9th before a rookie who has barely pitched above Double-A ball.
The end result was a frustrating loss in a very winnable game. Plus it wasted an outstanding effort on the mound by A.J. Burnett who allowed only 1 run over 6 innings. Is this just growing pains for a new manager or is there some method to this madness I am not seeing?
Sandberg is a Hall of Famer and all around cool guy, so he will be given the benefit of the doubt here. A win tonight would go a long way for me :o) Game time is 8:05pm; Kyle Kendrick will pitch.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
It looks like #13 was unlucky for Roy Oswalt. In his 13th career start at Citizens Bank Park, Oswalt lost his first game in the ballpark thanks to a non-existent offense. It was a 2-0 shut-out by the Rangers.
Let me rephrase: The Phillies did have bats and some did swing them, but no runs ever crossed the plate. In the last nine games, the Phillies are averaging FIVE hits a game. Yes, five hits, not runs. They hit over 5 runs only twice in that spam.
Sunday was no different. Five hits, NO runs. This has been a bad case of déjà vu for the starting pitchers, who have been the victims of the invisible run support.
Today, there were a lot of pop-ups, swings at bad pitches, no swings at good pitches, confused looks and ball hit right at fielders:
The déjà vu continued as catcher Dane Sardinha got on base in both the 3rd and 5th innings. Both times, Oswalt bunted him to second. And both times, with one out and a runner in scoring position, Jimmy Rollins popped out.
Oswalt continued to pitch well, despite the disappointing offense. He went seven innings, allowing only one run. And the Phillies had some nice defensive plays as well, including a pair of double plays and some acrobatics by Wilson Valdez.
And then there was this play, where Rollins tagged out Elvis Andrus, but the umpire missed the tag. It did not matter anyway, as Oswalt got out of the inning.
The second Rangers run was charged to J.C. Romero. But again, it did not really matter as the Phillies batters were hitting anything.
The good news is that Chase Utley is back! Pete Orr was sent to the minors to make room and Utley will make his 2011 debut on Monday night against the Reds. The Phillies are counting on Utley to light a fire under this offense.
Joe Blanton was placed on the DL as expected and Vance Worley will replace him, pitching on Tuesday night.
The Phils also signed veteran outfielder Scott Podsednik to a minor-league deal as a back-up plan after the Blue Jays released him. Podsednik is a lifetime .279 hitter but he has had issues with plantar fasciitis in his foot, which is why the Jays let him go. If he can take time to heal, he could be useful later in the season.
The Reds game starts at 7:05pm tomorrow night. In the meantime, here is the full Photo Album from today’s massacre…I mean, game.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography