Tagged: Erik Kratz

Hamels Halts Phillies Losing Skid

Not much has gone right for the Phillies this year.  But at least we know that when Cole Hamels takes the mound, they at least have a shot at a win.  After dropping 3 straight, the Phillies collected a win last night over the Brewers, thanks in large part to Hamels.

Hamels cruised through 7 2/3 innings allowing only 1 run until 1 bad pitch in the 8th ran him out of the game.  The Ryan Braun 2-run homer was 1 of 4 home runs Braun has hit in this series…so far.  I am sure Braun, who was said to be in a slump prior to this series, was thrilled to see the Phillies come to town.  And just think, he may not be done yet.

Despite that annoyance, Hamels had a very solid game.  The 4-3 win was nailed down by closer Jonathan Papelbon, who got 4 outs to seal the deal.  Manager Charlie Manuel was criticized for not using Papelbon in a similar situation on Thursday night.  On Saturday, he did not make the same mistake again.

The Brewers had a couple base running blunders, which helped the Phillies out.  One guy got caught in a rundown and another did something a bit unusual.  With 2 outs in the third, Braun again smashed what should have been a double to deep left field.  But Jonathan Lucroy, who was on first base, missed second base and then stood like a deer in headlights instead of stepping on the base and continuing to run.  By the time Braun reached second, all he could do was throw his hands in the air at Lucroy who was still there, looking dazed.  Braun was out; inning over.  Oops.

As for the Phillies offense, John Mayberry Jr. knocked a 2-run homer in the 2nd, followed by a solo shot from Erik KratzRyan Howard doubled in the 3rd to give the Phils the go-ahead run.

The Phils get one more shot at the Brewers this afternoon.  And they will also get another look at wannabe starter Kyle Kendrick.  Can he repeat his last performance of 7 shut-out innings against the Marlins last week?  Game time is 2:10pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Two-Straight Complete Game Shut-Outs for Hamels

After a couple of shaky starts after signing a huge contract, Cole Hamels is in the zone again.  Last night marked the second straight complete game shut-out for the lefty with a 4-0 win over the Miami Marlins.

Hamels tossed 113 pitches, 85 of them for strikes.  He allowed 7 hits and 1 walk, but no Marlin even crossed home plate.  While playoff hopes for the Phillies are all but dashed, Hamels could still be in line for another big prize if he continues to pitch at this pace: the Cy Young award.

This ace already has a World Series ring, a World Series and a NLCS MVP award plus 3 All-Star nods.  All Hamels has left to accomplish is the Cy Young…and of course, one more World Series ring.

Supporting their teammate, the Phillies offense produced 4 runs, which was plenty considering how Hamels was pitching.  Juan Pierre had another 3-hit night, including a triple and an RBI.  Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr. and Kevin Fransden had 2 hits each while Chase Utley and Erik Kratz both knocked in one run each.

As for the bullpen…there was no bullpen as Hamels went all 9 innings.  This could be the best bullpen performance all year long!  Way to sit on the bench guys; nicely done.  With the way this year has gone, I am sure the relievers were as relieved with this turn of events as anyone.

The Phillies have another shot at the Fish tonight.  Kyle Kendrick, despite being awful lately, will get yet another chance at being a real starter.  This is beginning to feel like Pinocchio trying to be a real boy…it’s never going to happen.  I could be wrong; what do you think?  Will Kendrick ever be consistent enough to be a starter?  Feel free to leave comments below.

Game time is 7:10pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Walk-Off In Extras Nails Series Win for Phillies

The Phillies annual Alumni Weekend came to an end today with a huge series win against the World Champion Cardinals.  The 11-inning, 8-7 walk-off win was the cherry on top of a great weekend at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Vance Worley took the mound again, despite needing elbow surgery for bone chips.  The injury appears to be taking a toll on the Vanimal who struggled again, going 5 1/3 innings with 4 runs allowed.

The Phillies offense started off strong with 3 runs in the 1st on a triple from Chase Utley.  In the 4th, Ryan Howard added a solo homer.  But each time the Phils scored, the Cardinals answered and they took a 4-4 tie into the 8th.

With 3 errors in the game, the Phillies still had some nice defensive plays, and others that fell short.  The play at the plate below where Matt Holiday is called safe was a real bummer:

More disappointment was to follow as Michael Schwimer turned a 4-4 game into a 7-4 deficit for the Phils in the 8th, allowing the 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk.

But just when it looked like the game was over, Erik Kratz got up to his new-old tricks again.  With 2 runners on and 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th, he smashed a home run to left to tie the game up again.

But Kratz was not done yet…  In the 11th, he started off the inning with a double.  Sadly, the double was erased when Jimmy Rollins, who had the day off prior pinch hitting in the 8th, hit into a fielder’s choice.  J-Roll later redeemed himself by stealing 3rd, which turned out to be the key to winning the game.  Juan Pierre hustled down the 1st base line to beat out an infield single which scored Rollins for the walk-off win!

Pierre has been one of the few bright spots for the Phillies this year.  It is hard to imagine not resigning him in the offseason, but that drama will play out later…

As for the Alumni in attendance, they had a lot of fun, especially Mike Schmidt who shot hot dogs into the crowd.  You will have to see it to believe it:

There were many other appearances as well, including John Kruk announcing the line-ups,  Dick Allen and Tony Taylor changing bases, and eight former Phillies, including Larry Andersen, Gary Matthews, Ricky Jordan, Ricky Botallico and Von Hayes singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on the field during the seventh-inning stretch.

Botallico, always an amazing sport, even wore the Phanatic’s jersey to entertain the crowd.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hamels Ends Losing Streak Against Braves

It appears that Cole Hamels has found his groove again, and just in time to end a long Phillies losing streak against the division rival Braves.  Prior to Tuesday night, the Braves had won 7 straight against the struggling Phils.

But once Hamels snapped out of his pitching slump, he made easy work out of Atlanta’s line-up.  He pitched a 5-hit, complete game shut-out with 6 strike outs and no walks allowed.  Yes, Super-Hamels has returned to his $144 million dollar form.

Ryan Howard also channeled his younger, healthier self with a 2-run bomb in the 1st inning.  The Big Piece is indeed still in there somewhere, which is a very good sign for next season.  Once his Achilles is fully healed, Howard should be getting right back to making opposing pitchers cry.

And Domonic Brown continues to show he belongs in the majors, along with a few flashes of why it has taken so long.  Brown hit a double in the first, right before the Howard homer, and he also worked a walk later in the game.  Brown played solid defense, but also made some base running errors.  The double was really a single that he stretched out, but he would have been thrown out if the fielder had not dropped the ball.  Brown also failed to tag on a long fly ball to center in that same inning.  So there are still some growing pains, but overall, things are looking up for Brown.

And of course, Erik Kratz continues on his torrid pace at the plate.  With 2 hits again last night, Kratz is now hitting .406 in 32 at-bats so far.

So while 2012 is a wash, the future may potentially be looking a bit brighter.  Game 3 with the Braves starts tonight at 7:05pm and Kyle Kendrick will pitch.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Howard Turns Boos to Cheers in Walk-Off Win

Since returning after spending half the season on the DL, Ryan Howard has not had much luck getting his bat going.  He struck out 3 times in today’s Phillies Diamondbacks game and each time, the boos got louder.  But in the 9th, Howard would redeem himself with a walk-off single to hand the Phillies a 5-4 victory and the series win.

Prior to that, Howard was not the only one hearing the boo birds.  Cliff Lee had a rough 2nd inning where he gave up back-to back homers to guys at the bottom of the D-Backs line-up.  His battery mate, Erik Kratz, tried to help him out with 2 hits and an RBI in the game, but Lee is becoming notorious for these odd ups and downs.

In case you missed it, catcher Carlos Ruiz is on the DL with a partial tear due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot.  So we will be seeing a lot of Kratz in the next 4-6 weeks.

The rest of the team sprinkled some offense here and there.  Chase Utley smashed a solo homer in the 5th.  And Domonic Brown went 2-for-4, which is a very good sign.

Brown also took flight on his way to 2nd base for a double.  It is not a bird or a plane, it is Super-Dom:

The Phillies also took advantage of D-Backs errors while managing to avoid most of their own recent blunders.

A run scored in the 8th to tie the game, which was the result of a D-Backs throwing error.  That set up the walk-off from Howard in the 9th.  Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

Tomorrow the Braves come to town, and although the Phillies have little to play for right now, a little revenge from the sweep last week may be in order.  Vance Worley will pitch; game time is 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

New Phillies Fitting in Fast

The newest additions to the Phillies after a few call-ups and trades are fitting in well with this team.  In some ways, that is very good.  In other ways, not so much.

Here are a few 2012 Phillies bad habits exhibited in last night’s game against the Nationals that they will need to get out of quickly:

Kevin Fransden, a call-up, commited an error at 3rd base, becoming the 4th different Phillies player to do so at the hot corner this year.  The 3rd base error total is now 13.

– Both Fransden and the newly acquired Nate Schierholtz left a runner stranded on 3rd base with less than 2 outs in the inning.

Josh Lindblom, acquired from the Dodgers, gave up a hit to the 1st batter he faced.

Domonic Brown, called-up from Triple-A, went 0-4 on the night.

But luckily, the bad habits did not break them.  In fact, each new player had at least one very nice moment as well:

– Fransden recovered after his error and played good defense.

– Schierholtz went back-to-back with Jimmy Rollins for his first home run as a Phillie.  Rollins had 2 homers in the game.

– Lindblom struck out the 2nd batter he faced.

– Despite going 0-4, Brown had a good day in the field.  He threw out a runner going home with a very strong toss.

Another guy who had a great day was Erik Kratz…again.  This guy is making a strong case to be the back-up next season.  Kratz took that toss from Brown and created a brick wall in front of home plate to save a run.  He also threw a runner out who was trying to steal second and caught a very tough foul pop-fly.  At the plate, Kratz recorded 1 hit and a walk.

And Vance Worley survived the 1st inning blunders and wound up having a great night.  He pitched 7 strong innings without allowing an earned run.  Looks like the Vanimal is back!

So the big question now is, can this new-look, last place Phillies team actually SWEEP the 1st place Nationals?  After the last 2 games, it looks like they actually have a shot.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

And in case you missed it, here is the full-page ad Shane Victorino took out in the daily news to thank Phillies fans:

No Shane, thank you!

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Streaking & Signing: Things Are Looking Up for the Phillies

It is officially a streak – the Phillies have won 4 games in a row and all 4 came during their final at-bat.  In the 3-game sweep of the Brewers, every game also ended in the exact same score, 7-6.

Tuesday’s improbable win included a 6-run rally in the 8th inning which was started by a 2-run homer from 2nd back-up catcher, Erik Kratz.  To that point, Kratz had exactly 3 major league hits and all 3 were home runs.

Then today, Kratz doubled his major league hit total even while abandoning the long ball.  He recorded 3 hits including an RBI and a double in extra innings to once again set the Phillies up for a late-game win.   Chase Utley also had 3 hits today plus 3 RBI.   Jimmy Rollins got the game-winning hit today and also in Sunday’s walk-off win.

As for the pitching, Cliff Lee was not great on Tuesday, giving up 6 runs.  But the Phillies offense got all 6 back for him in that 8th inning.  Then today Vance Worley had an ok outing, allowing 3 runs in 5.1 innings.  Kyle Kendrick kept him from further damage with 1.2 scoreless innings.

The bullpen has, with one exception, found it’s groove in  these last 4 games.  Only Antonio Bastardo faltered with a 2-run homer to Ryan Braun today that almost cost them the game.  But the late-inning magic bailed him out, even despite another Ty Wigginton error at third base.

But the HUGE bang for the Phillies came earlier today when the Phillies announced they finally signed ace pitcher Cole Hamels to a long-term deal.  A collective sigh of relief was heard around the city.

Hamels got 6 years for $144 million, which is the second biggest contract ever behind only CC Sabathia of the Yankees who got $161 for 7 years back in 2008.  It is the largest contract ever for a Phillie.

It appears then that the Phillies have not given up just yet.  The Hamels signing should be a big relief for guys like Lee, Rollins and Roy Halladay who chose to come to or stay in Philly with the promise from the front office that they would continue to try to win in the long-term.  And these last 4 wins which happened in the most unlikely ways should also light a fire under the entire team.

The Phillies are off tomorrow for the annual Phestival and they will then fly to Atlanta for 3 games with the Braves.  Those 3 games will be very telling as to whether this team can stage an improbable comeback and make a run at a Wild Card spot.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography