The National League entered today’s All-Star Game not having won against the American League since 1996. That win took place in Philadelphia. Manager Charlie Manuel and the Phillies coaching staff had a huge task on their hands for the second consecutive year, trying to win World Series home field advantage for the NL.
Two Phillies took part in the game today; Chase Utley stayed home as he is recovering from surgery on his thumb. Ryan Howard served as the DH and went 0 for 2; but hits were difficult to come by in this game. Through 6 innings, the both teams had only 4 hits each. Two of the hits for the AL came off Phillie Roy Halladay, although one hit was a pop-up that landed in the middle of nowhere and ex-Phillie Marlon Byrd could not quite get to it.
The AL struck first in the 5th as Dodger’s pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo allowed an unearned run after a costly error where he overthrew 1st base on an easy grounder. He had already walked a batter, then the error gave the AL two runners and a sac fly scored Evan Longoria.
But the NL fought back in the 7th. Another ex-Phillie, Scott Rolen, singled followed by a Matt Holliday single. Rolen’s aggressive base running put him on third base. Byrd walked with 2 outs and then Braves catcher, Brian McCann, hit a bases-clearing double to give the NL the lead. Two runs were charged to Yankee Phil Hughes and another to White Sox Matt Thornton.
In the bottom of the 7th, Holliday took a bad route to a ball in left and it went off his glove, giving Blue Jay John Buck a double instead of an out. Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals was pitching but Holliday could not help out his teammate. Shane Victorino could have caught that ball from either left or center…just saying ;o)
So it would come down to the 9th inning. The NL did not score and Manuel brought in another Dodger, Jonathan Broxton, to try and nail down the save and the win for the NL. Broxton gave up a hit right away to the Home Run Derby champ, David Ortiz. He struck out the next batter but gave up a single to Buck. However, with Big Papi Ortiz running, Byrd was able to throw him out at second from right field. That was an amazing, heads-up play by Byrd! The next batter flew out and the National League won it!! FINALLY! A win for the NL! Way to go, Charlie! Now, let see if the Phillies can actually use the home field advantage this year; that, of course, would require a third straight trip to the World Series. Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
But to Wainwright’s credit, he worked out of the inning without allowing a run. Whew! So the NL went into the 8th inning with a 3-1 lead. The NL did not score in the 8th and Giants closer, Brian Wilson, erased the AL batters in the bottom of the inning. Personally, I think the mohawk is his secret weapon.
So it would come down to the 9th inning. The NL did not score and Manuel brought in another Dodger, Jonathan Broxton, to try and nail down the save and the win for the NL. Broxton gave up a hit right away to the Home Run Derby champ, David Ortiz. He struck out the next batter but gave up a single to Buck. However, with Big Papi Ortiz running, Byrd was able to throw him out at second from right field. That was an amazing, heads-up play by Byrd!
The next batter flew out and the National League won it!! FINALLY! A win for the NL! Way to go, Charlie! Now, let see if the Phillies can actually use the home field advantage this year; that, of course, would require a third straight trip to the World Series.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Realizing the season is not quite even halfway over, it is hard to say that the Phillies are done. But after losing 3 out of 4 games to the worst team in the league this weekend, it sure does feel that way. Murphy’s Law has ruled this team for about 2 months now where anything that can go wrong does. Massive injuries to star players, a serious and prolonged offensive slump, pitching and hitting never going well on the same day and now this; 3 loses to the Pirates.
The one win in this series came on an offensive explosion of 12 runs. But if the Phillies need to score 12 runs every time to win a game, then I guess their season really may be over.
5 runs on 9 hits today did not cut it. Dane Sardinha, the Phils 4th string catcher, getting two hits and a home run did not help. Greg Dobbs, who is in the worst hitting slump of his career, got a hit and an RBI; no matter though. It also did not help.
The big boys like Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins did absolutely nothing in this game. And besides the solo home run by Sardinha in the 7th, the Phillies offense gave up after the 3rd inning. And then there was the pitching…
While Joe Blanton looked solid through most of the game today, he began to fall apart quickly after 6 innings. He threw 3 pitches at the start of the 7th inning which ended up like this: home run, single, double. Blanton left with one out and Jose Contreras came in with two runners on base. Contreras picked up the disaster right where Blanton left off, allowing a double, a single and 3 more runs to give the Pirates a 6-5 lead. So the Phils entered the 7th with a 3-run lead and the pitching blew it.
It only got worse when Mike Zagurski came in for Contreras and allowed two more runs to score on a 2-out single. So Blanton’s final line was 5 runs over 6 1/3 innings. He was fine through 6 innings, but when Blanton starts to fall apart, he really goes down hard. Then the bullpen totally ruins the day by allowing a 3-run lead to turn into a 3-run deficit…against a last place team. Disgusting.
So the Phillies went on to lose by a score of 5-8. If the Braves win today, the Phillies will enter tomorrow’s 3-game series with the Braves down by 6 games. That means, even if they win the series, they will still be a minimum of 3 games back with only 4 to play before the All-Star break. Or worse, they will lose ground and dig a hole too deep to emerge from.
Does anyone out there think the Phils can sweep the Braves? After losing 3 of 4 to the Pirates, they do not stand a chance. I will be happy to eat those words if they do, but the odds are certainly not in their favor.
With all the recent injuries, many Phillies, like Placido Polanco, dropped off in the All-Star voting late. As a result, the only Phillie to make it in via fan vote was Chase Utley. Utley cannot play due to his recent surgery and will be replaced by Martin Prado of the Braves.
Two more Phillies were added to the roster; Roy Halladay won the player’s vote and Ryan Howard was added by manager Charlie Manuel. Both are very deserving. Halladay’s dominant performances plus the Perfect Game he pitched this year make him an obvious choice. Howard is one of the league leaders in RBI’s with 58 and was batting .296 coming into today’s game.
Earlier today, MLB.com posted the starting rosters for each league. Take a look at the list. Notice anything wrong? Either the writer just got used to typing the word “Yankees” over and over or Evan Longoria was just involved in some weird, mysterious trade. No need to panic Rays fans; Longoria is still in Tampa.
By the way, I hope everyone has a Happy 4th of July, despite the Phillies being a major bummer. This is one of my favorite photos that I have ever taken and it always makes me feel better:
Happy Independence Day!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schultz
No one can say that Jimmy Rollins did not do his part to help Team USA advance in the World Baseball Classic; but despite his best efforts, the USA was eliminated by Japan last night. Rollins, in the DH role yesterday, went 4 for 4 at the plate, including a triple; he also stole a base, had 1 walk and scored a run. But in all 5 times Rollins was on base, only one time was he able to score. The other 4 times, he was left stranded. J-Roll ended his stint in the Classic with a .417 batting average, putting him 3rd place overall for the USA.
Some rather controversial moves by the USA manager, Davey Johnson, also seem to have contributed to the loss. At times, it seemed more like Johnson was trying to make everyone happy, rather than trying to win the game. This is an unfortunate consequence of the presser put upon Johnson by Major League coaches to only use their players in certain ways, at certain positions. For example, pitcher Roy Oswalt was left in the game too long; he should have been pulled earlier in the 4th inning, before the 5 run explosion by Team Japan. But, likely because Johnson felt a duty to Oswalt’s team, the Astros, he was left in to stretch out his arm in preparation for the upcoming MLB season. By the time Oswalt got his pitch count in, the damage was done.
Another issue arose in the 8th inning when, with the USA down 6-4, Shane Victorino stood in the on deck circle to pinch hit with a runner on 3rd and 1 out; at the last minute,
Johnson pulled Victorino and sent Evan Longoria to the plate. Johnson was obviously hoping for a long ball from Longoria, but the problem was that Longoria, being right handed, was going to have to face a right handed pitcher and monster winds that were blowing towards right field. Victorino, who is a switch hitter and could have batted left-handed, had a much better shot at getting a hit off the righty and could have used the wind to his advantage. So, why would Johnson put Longoria in? One possible reason is that Longoria was a late addition to the team and had not yet gotten an at-bat. Johnson likely felt indebted to Longoria for making the trip out and decided he should at least get one at-bat out of the trip. While this is very nice and thoughtful of Johnson, it was not in the best interest of Team USA. Longoria struck-out, Brian Roberts grounded out and that was the end of the threat.
Defense also hindered the Americans from advancing; with 3 errors in the game, Mark DeRosa playing first base, where he had never started before, and Adam Dunn in right field, Team USA was just not able to keep pace with Japan. Dunn, put in the game for his bat even though he is a below average fielder, wound up going hitless in 5 at-bats with 1 walk and 3 strikeouts. In the future, if the USA intends to compete, they are going to have to prepare much earlier for this tournament; plus, players and managers will have to understand that these are real games and that they will be expected to play accordingly. Will this ever actually happen? Your guess is as good as mine.
So the good news for the Phillies is that J-Roll and Victorino will be returning to camp. After a 3-0 loss to the Red Sox yesterday, the Phils will be hoping that J-Roll can kick start the offense for them. Jamie Moyer gets the start today against the Yankees at 1:05pm. Less than 2 weeks until Opening Day…things are going to get a lot more interesting the closer we get to April 5th. More on that later…
(All Photos by Jenn)
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Fans waited through an hour and a half rain delay before Game 3 of the World Series began. And it was worth the wait. It took until nearly 2:00am Sunday morning to finish it off, but the Phillies came out with the win to go ahead in the series, 2-1. I did predict that the weather would be a factor in this game for the Rays and it was – the delay kept all of the youngsters on the Rays team up WAY past their bedtime! J
Jamie Moyer, who is old enough to stay up late, got the job done tonight, not only with his pitching, but his fielding as well. Too bad the 1st base umpire decided not to count the play. In the 7th inning, Moyer dove on the ground to scoop up a bunt by Carl Crawford, he shuffled the ball to Ryan Howard with his glove and Howard caught the ball bear-handed. The replay showed Crawford was out by a whole step, and yet the umpire called him safe. The next batter hit a double, giving the Rays runners on 2nd and 3rd with no outs, instead of a man on 2nd with one out. BIG difference; a couple of ground balls later, and the Rays had 2 runs in. Crawford never should have scored. I am SO disgusted by the umpiring in this series. In Game 2, the home plate ump screwed up TWO calls…I won’t even get into the wacky hand motion on the wall he gave to Baldelli, but when Jimmy Rollins had a pitch hit his uniform (watch the replay), he did NOT give Rollins the base and he wound up popping out. Now, would Jimmy have scored if that did not happen? Who knows. But the extra run today was clearly the fault of the 1st base ump. When is MLB going to make these umpires accountable for their mistakes? Sure, I understand human error; but calls that are blatantly missed and change the score of the game, like this one today, should never happen. It is truly disgusting.
Many people were worried about Jamie Moyer going into the game tonight, as his last 2 outings were not good. I wasn’t worried; Jamie has been waiting his entire career for this day and he was not going to blow it. And the young Rays hitters like to swing, which works to Moyer’s favor. He wound up pitching 6 1/3 innings, giving up 3 earned runs on 5 hits and one walk; he also struck out 5 batters. Chad Durbin and Scott Eyre combined to close out the 7th inning and Ryan Madson took the 8th. Madson gave up an infield single to BJ Upton and then for some reason, the Phillies decided not to pay any attention to him being on base. He stole 2nd base without any attempt to throw him out and then he stole 3rd as no one was watching. Carlos Ruiz committed a throwing error on the steal, the ball got away from Pedro Feliz and Upton scored to tie the game 4-4.
The Phillies offense looked a bit sleepy again and they missed a huge opportunity in the 1st inning. With Jayson Werth on 3rd and only one out, Ryan Howard struck out and Pat Burrell flied to center. They did get one run in the inning, but should have had at least one more if Howard could have just made contact. He did hit a home run in the 6th inning, as he and Chase Utley went back-to-back. Then with the game tied in the 8th, they blew another opportunity to score. Werth walked and stole 2nd base; only a few pitches later, he got picked off and then Utley proceeded to strike out. Howard did the same and ended the inning. In the ninth inning, JC Romero who pitched part of the 8th, remained in to pitch. Usually in a tie game in the 9th, the home team will put in their closer (Lidge), assuming they expect their offense to score in the bottom of the 9th. Charlie Manuel did not do this, which shows a real lack of confidence in his hitters.
So with the game still tied, the bottom of the 9th wound up being a wild one: Eric Bruntlett got hit by a pitch; with Shane Victorino up, Bruntlett went to 2nd on a wild pitch and then advanced to 3rd when the throw to 2nd flew right on by the infield. The Rays then intentionally walked both Victorino and Greg Dobbs to bring up Carlos Ruiz with the bases loaded and no outs. Ruiz hit a short grounder to Evan Longoria who could not make the play to home – Bruntlett scored! Game over – Phillies win 5-4. Whew!
Well, I am going to attempt to get some sleep now so I will be awake to drive to the game tomorrow J if you are going, I’ll see ya there! Go Phillies!
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