According to Wikipedia, the Big Bang Theory refers to the idea that the universe was originally extremely hot and dense at some finite time in the past and has since cooled by expanding to the present diluted state and continues to expand today. The same theory can be used to explain the Phillies 2010 season thus far. They got off to a very hot start in April, cooled off from May to most of July and are now “expanding.” Although, “exploding” may be a more accurate term.
At first, having to face the best pitcher in the National League today did not seem like good news for the struggling Phillies offense. But after scoring 6 runs yesterday, maybe they got some of their Mojo back. Because they absolutely destroyed the Rockies ace, Ubaldo Jimenez.
Jimenez entered the game with a record of 15-1 and a miniscule 2.38 ERA. But he left the game after only 2 innings and 6 runs allowed on 3 hits and 6 walks. All 6 runs scored in the top of the 3rd inning without Jimenez even recording an out.
It was starting to look like the “diluted” state of the Phils offense was about to pass. The Rockies bullpen gave up one more run, but finally, after 30 minutes, got out of the bottom of the 3rd inning.
Jimmy Rollins, very comfy back in his leadoff spot, kicked off the 3rd inning with a single to left. The next two batters walked as Jimenez started to look rattled. Then Ryan Howard smacked a triple down the 1st base line. The walks kept coming and Rollins hit a triple to score two more runs in his second at-bat of the inning. The Rockies must have wondered if that inning was ever going to end.
While the inning did have to end eventually, the Phillies kept trying to add on and give pitcher Kyle Kendrick a huge cushion. Kendrick had extra motivation to pitch well today. In his last outing, Kendrick allowed 7 runs and was then demoted to the minors. You had to expect a solid effort today as the injury to Jamie Moyer forced the Phillies to give Kendrick one more shot.
Kendrick took advantage of the unexpected opportunity and pitched very well. By the 7th inning, Kendrick had an 8 run lead to work with and he had allowed only 1 run at that point. He loaded the bases in the 7th with 2 outs, but managed to get out of it with a fly ball to center. So Kendrick went 7 innings, allowing 1 run on a solo homer. This result was more than anyone could have hoped for from Kendrick.
There were a number of positives to come out of this game, aside from the obvious…a win. Rollins looks like the player of old again with 3 big hits, a stolen base and 3 RBI. Raul Ibanez is still loving the 3-hole in the line-up; he had his own big bang with 2-run homer in the 6th. Jayson Werth had 2 hits and Howard racked up 3 more RBI. Placido Polanco played 2nd base today and Greg Dobbs was at third, which turned out to be a good move. Polanco had 2 hits and Dobbs added a hit, an RBI and a walk and played well at 3rd. Even Ben Francisco got a pinch-hit double.
So is this the big bang the Phillies have been waiting for to kick start their offense? A 10-2 win preceded by a 6-0 win should serve as a very good sign. The players that have not been hitting are coming back to life. It is a welcome sight for sure.
Another note of interest, rookie Vance Worley made his major league debut today, pitching the 9th inning for the Phillies. The 22-year old righty starter was 9-4 with a 3.20 ERA in AA ball for the R-Phils; he had pitched 17 consecutive scoreless innings in his last two games before being called up to the Phils to work in the bullpen. Worley was a 3rd round draft pick in 2008 and has made considerable strides since pitching at a 5.34 ERA last year.
In today’s 9th inning, Worley’s fast ball topped out at 95 mph with a 76 mph curve ball and an 83-84mph slider. He looked solid, changed speeds well and the end result was 2 strikeouts and a fly ball out to center. Great job by the rookie!
So, if JA Happ can give the Phillies a solid start tomorrow, they have a shot at winning 4 in a row which has not happened since before the All-Star break. I will be at the game and shall return with photos. See you there!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
After tonight’s horrifying loss to the Cubs, what I would like to know is, who kidnapped Roy Halladay and replaced him with an imposter? After six innings, this Halladay imposter had given up 6 runs, 5 of them earned. Who IS this guy? Will Ruben Amaro Jr. pay the ransom to get the real Halladay back? He wouldn’t pay to keep Cliff Lee, so I am not holding my breath. ;o)
Ok, back to reality… In one of Halladay’s worst outings as a Phillie, one thing did not change: he still did not get any run support from his offense. To make matters worse, the Phillies fielders did not bail him out in big situations either. In the 2nd inning, after already allowing 3 runs, Ryan Howard missed a foul ball pop-up from Derrek Lee that would have ended the inning.
Then, with 2 strikes on Lee and runners at first and third, Carlos Ruiz had a brain cramp. He decided to throw to second as Starlin Castro tried to steal and Ruiz botched the throw. Tyler Colvin scored easily from 3rd. Ruiz was given an error and Lee struck out on the next pitch. So that was one more unnecessary run handed over to the Cubs.
Things got monumentally worse in the 7th inning when the Phillies bullpen was called upon. JC Romero gave up 2 singles without recording an out and was pulled. The rookie David Herndon took over and the Cubs absolutely destroyed him. Herndon allowed 3 hits and a walk; by the end of the inning, 5 more runs had score. Two of those were charged to Romero and the other three to Herndon.
The score was 11-3 going into the 8th inning and basically, this game was over. Howard, Greg Dobbs and Ben Francisco all hit solo homers later, making the score 11-6, but that was the end of the scoring. The Phillies have not been hitting, now they are not pitching and even the fielding has been sloppy. In short, they are now worse than the Cubs. And that is very, very bad news.
This is just not the same Phillies team that fans have been used to seeing. They are not doing the little things right, as well as some big things, and they seem to have lost their Mojo. Maybe the Mojo was kidnapped along with Halladay?
Even more disturbing, Howard hit home runs in 3 out of 4 games of this Cubs series and the Phillies lost all three of those games. When even the Howard magic is not lighting a spark under this team, the Phillies are in big trouble.
The team travels to St. Louis next for a 4-game series with the Cardinals. It is just a guess, but I am willing to bet that facing Albert Pujols is not going to help the Phillies find their Mojo any faster. Game time tomorrow is 7:05pm.
Why ESPN Broadcasts Are So Entertaining:
In the first inning alone, ESPN viewers were treated to these gems:
– Joe Morgan says that Placido Polanco “runs well from the right side.” As opposed to?? He only hits from the right side.
– As Carlos Ruiz ran to catch a pop fly in foul ground, Jon Miller called him “Soto,” as in, Cubs catcher, Geovany Soto.
– While Roy Halladay was pitching, Milled said, “There’s an inside pitch to Halladay.” Wow. The man is really talented if he can pitch to himself.
And then in the 5th inning, another classic from Morgan: “If he had gotten the ball there (1st base) quicker, he’d have gotten him out faster.” It is official: Joe Morgan is a GENIUS.
The post-game shaving cream pie to the face has become a celebratory Phillies tradition over the years. One reader wanted to know where it all began. In my own experiences, I have been able to trace the practice as far back as 1993 where it happened on a semi-regular basis. Here are a few shots from 1993 where Mitch Williams pied Andy Ashby. You can see the pie in mid-air as Ashby tried to avoid contact during his post-game interview with Harry Kalas:
Usually when a player gets a game winning, walk-off hit, they can expect to get pied. However, sometimes this prank is also carried out following any outstanding performance. For instance, on June 2, 2002, pitcher Robert Person hit two home runs in a game against the Expos, the first of which was a Grand Slam. The result? 7 RBI for Person, a win for the Phils and yes, a pie to the face.
In the 1990’s, the pie incidents were sort of random. But when Tomas Perez joined the Phillies in 2000, he became the “official” Pie Guy and for the next 6 years, he did not miss a beat. Perez pied everyone. And his teammates loved him; Perez was riot in the clubhouse, keeping things loose and fun. And for me personally, Perez was the nicest, most approachable player I had ever met. I always stood in the same place before games and Perez took notice. All I had to do was wave at him, and he would run right over. We spoke before many games and I got countless autographs from him.
The day the Phillies released him in 2006, we had a conversation about his tenure in Philly during batting practice. I told him how glad everyone was that he was still with the team and that his smile always brightened my day. Literally, ½ an hour later, he was released. :O(
Not only was I devastated, but so were Perez’s teammates. Ryan Howard said after the game, “I will miss the pies in the face.” And catcher Mike Lieberthal, another frequent pie’ing victim, added, “He is one of my favorite players I ever played with. He was not only a good player, but he kept everybody loose and is one of the best personalities I have ever been around.”
With the departure of Perez, the torch was passed to Shane Victorino who became the new Pie Guy and has been basically in charge of the prank ever since. Although, Jimmy Rollins, Greg Dobbs and others have been known to help out on occassion. And these days, no one is safe from the Pie Guy:
In fact, some pie pranks are not even reserved for the playing field. This pie attack occurred during an interview with Brett Myers and Kyle Kendrick on NBC’s Today Show. The attack starts at about 2 minutes, 45 seconds into the video:
And some players even get double teamed; check out Carlos Ruiz:
There are some varying opinions on the pie pranks. Some players think it is funny; some are not so thrilled about it. As for the fans, I have heard everything from how funny it is to how stupid it is. One fan told me it is annoying because it ruins the post-game interview. Others wonder if it could be dangerous. And yet others look forward to it and find it entertaining. What do you think? Feel free to comment below.
What I can tell you is this; the Pie Guy is a Phillies tradition that does not appear to be going away any time soon.
Photo credits: Ibanez, Howard, Perez by Jenn; Ashby & Williams by Diana Dickerson; Rollins: NY Daily News; Victorino: CBSsports.com; Lieberthal: http://www.usat-rockymountain.org
The start of tonight’s Phillies – Reds match-up was anything but funny. The game began with a fielding error by Jimmy Rollins on the very first batter Joe Blanton faced.
Blanton went on to allow a single and then Jonny Gomes smacked a 3-run homer. While ahead in the count, Blanton threw Gomes a fast ball right down the middle of the plate. Was it Gomes’ birthday or something? Because I just cannot see any reason for the generous gift from Blanton.
The very next batter was the recipient of yet another Phillies error, as Ryan Howard over-threw Blanton who was running to cover first base. The bottom half of the 1st inning was no better. Rollins hit a single, which was great, but then he got picked off at first while leaning off base too far. Rollins may have been able to score on the Raul Ibanez double that followed, but he was no longer on base. Inning over; no score for the Phils.
The insanity did not end there. Greg Dobbs missed a ball at third that he should have caught and that would have ended the 2nd inning. Instead, another run scored. Then Howard got tagged out trying to stretch a single into a double in the 4th inning. The Phils did score one run that inning on a sac fly by Jayson Werth, but in the 5th, the Phils gave the Reds two more runs.
Blanton was pulled after 5 ½ innings after allowing 12 hits, 6 runs (5 earned), 2 walks and 2 hits to the opposing pitcher. Blanton has been struggling all year, but this was perhaps the most disturbing outing so far. Usually, he has several good innings and starts to give up runs in the 5th or 6th when he tires. But today, he was bad almost the entire time. Add in the hits allowed to the pitcher and giving up big hits while he was ahead in the count and it was definitely not a comedy; tragedy is more like it.
Although, with how things have gone so far this season, it is plausible to think that many fans may still not be sure whether to laugh or cry about it. While little is funny here, the bad play does conjure images of fans wrapped with tiny white coats in a padded room while cackling hysterically as their sanity slowly drips away. Are they coming to take me away yet? Now that actually would be funny ;o)
To make matters worse, the Phillies looked like they had given up by the time they were down 6 runs to 1. They did not hit at all and in the 9th, JC Romero gave up another run. He also gave up another hit to Mike Leake, the Reds pitcher. It was Leake’s 3rd hit of the night! So, not only did he totally mow over the Phils with his pitching, but he hurt them with the bat as well.
And then something very weird happened. The Phillies offense suddenly woke up. But in the bottom of the ninth, down 7-1, would it be too little too late? Shane Victorino doubled and Howard singled to drive him in.
Werth singled next and then Greg Dobbs performed a miracle; he hit a 3-run homer! With one out and the score now 7-5, Leake was finally pulled out of the game and it became a save situation for the Reds.
Francisco Cordero came in to pitch and Brian Schneider hit a ball well, but it was right to the center fielder. Ben Francisco drew a pinch hit walk and then with two outs, down two runs, Cody Ransom stepped to the plate with a chance to be the hero. And just like that, BAM, a HOME RUN to tie the game! Are you kidding me?? The Reds could not believe what was happening; the Phils fans were going nuts in the stands; and the poor Reds pitcher, Mike Leake, looked like he might cry while watching from the dugout.
And he had reason to cry…because in the 10th inning, Ryan Howard smashed a walk-off 2-run homer to win the game! Unbelievable. Down 7-1 in the 9th, the Phillies come back to win by a score of 9-7. It was the second extra innings game in a row with a walk-off homer two nights in a row. Comedy or tragedy? Keep laughing, Phils fans…that was an INSANE win! Whoo Hooo!
Dobbs photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Roy Halladay has had a few adventurous outings this year. Tonight against the Braves, the only adventure was a solo homer to Chipper Jones in the first inning. It was smooth sailing after that. Halladay pitched his 7th complete game of the year, throwing only 93 pitches to defeat the Braves. He looked unsinkable.
So all Halladay needed was a little offense. Greg Dobbs came into tonight’s game batting only .167. Even after spending some time in the minors, Dobbs could not seem to find his stroke. Tonight, it looks like he might have turned a corner.
With a 0-1 deficit in the 6th inning, Dobbs hit a 2-run bomb to center. It was only his 2nd home run of the year; the 1st one was way back on April 25th. Dobbs ended up with 2 hits in the game.
The Phillies tried to tack on to the 2-1 lead in the 8th inning. After a couple of singles, manager Charlie Manuel put on a rare suicide squeeze with Raul Ibanez on third. But Juan Castro missed the bunt and Ibanez was caught between third and home. Castro made up for the goof by hitting an RBI single, putting the Phils up 3-1.
As it turns out, Halladay did not need the extra run, but he certainly did not mind it. The Phillies inch one game closer to the Braves with this win and will have to try and carry the momentum into the next 2 games. Cole Hamels will pitch tomorrow night; game time is 7:05pm.
Photo 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
The Phillies squandered an opportunity for a series win today, losing to the Reds by a score of 3-4. Roy Halladay has now lost 6 of his last 9 games, even though he has pitched at a 3.19 ERA during those 9 games. He did not have his best stuff today, allowing 2 big homers and 13 hits in an 8-inning complete game. But as has been the case all year, the offense did little to help him out.
It looked like the back-up players might carry the team for the second day in a row when 3rd string catcher Dane Sardinha hit a 3-run homer in the 4th inning. Wilson Valdez had 2 hits again and Greg Dobbs had a hit and a walk. But with both Jimmy Rollins and Raul Ibanez going 0 for 4, no Chase Utley or Placido Polanco, the offense did not get anything else done.
Games like these are when the Phillies are going to feel the full effect of having 7 players on the DL. The injuries are out of control and as a result, this is going to be a very rough ride for the rest of the season.
Yesterday, Brad Lidge said that the Phillies players were going to have to “step-up” during this trying time. I found that comical after Lidge became the only player yesterday who did not step-up. However, he has a point. The question remains though, can these bench guys get the job done?
Once the team has a better idea of how long Utley and Polanco will be out, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is going to have some very serious decisions to make. Can they go out and get a descent infielder while still adding to the pitching depth? All Phillies fans can do right now is hang in there and hope that this team can weather the storm.
The Phillies are on their way to Pittsburgh now for a 4-game series. The first game is Thursday night at 7:05pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography