Despite having two of their best players sent to the DL today in Chase Utley and Placido Polanco, the Phillies still came out swinging against the Reds. More importantly, it was the back-up players who made the biggest impact on the game. This gives Phillies fans hope that even with 7 players on the DL, they can still produce.
At the very bottom of the line-up, both Brian Schneider and Wilson Valdez hit 3-run homers in the 9-6 win over the Reds. Schneider went above and beyond, with three hits in the game and scored on the Valdez homer. The homer by Valdez was his 3rd of the year and only his 4th since 2004.
Joe Blanton kept the Phillies in the game, allowing just one run until the dreaded 6th inning. That has been his Achilles heel all year long. With 2 outs in the 6th, Blanton gave up a single, a walk and then a 2-run double. He did finish with 7 2/3 innings allowing just those 3 runs, so this is progress for Blanton.
But leave it Brad Lidge to try and throw away all that hard work and momentum for the Phils. With two outs in the 9th and a 3-run lead, Lidge gave up a walk, a single and then a 3-run homer to Joey Votto to tie the game and send it to extra innings. It was his 2nd blown save of the year in 7 opportunities.
So the depleted Phillies offense would have to rally yet again, and they did. In the 10th they faced Arthur Rhodes, a former Phillie, who had not allowed a run in 33 consecutive innings this year. Ryan Howard doubled, Jayson Werth walked and then Raul Ibanez stepped to the plate.
The home plate ump had a moving strike zone all night long and when a low 0-1 pitch was called a strike on Ibanez, manager Charlie Manuel finally lost his mind. He jumped out of the dugout and ripped CB Bucknor a new one, getting him tossed out of the game. But the managerial fireworks sparked the Phils in a big way. Ibanez took the very next pitch to center for an RBI double. Ben Francisco, another bench player, hit a single to score Werth and then Valdez struck again with a bunt that scored Ibanez.
And just like that, the 3-run lead that Lidge blew was back with a 9-6 score. JC Romero was called on for the second save attempt and got the job done without issue. Thank goodness for JC! You are my hero :O) Please tell Lidge that he owes you, big time.
The Phillies will play the Reds again tomorrow with a quick turnaround at 12:35pm. Roy Halladay will pitch and try to sneak the Phils out of town with a series win.
More Injury News
To replace Utley and Polanco, Greg Dobbs was brought back and is clearly still having issues. He had only 2 hits in 17 at-bats during his short time in AAA and went hitless tonight in 3 attempts. Brian Bocock was also added to the roster. At AAA this year, Bocock hit only .177 in 209 at-bats so I cannot imagine he brings much to the table either. But at this point, beggars cannot be choosers. The options are limited.
The Phillies are going to have to rely on their bench players if they are going to contend. They did it in 2007 as Tadahito Iguchi and others filled in admirably for players who went down, like Utley who got hit with a pitch, breaking his hand. Can they do it again in 2010? We shall see.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Jimmy Rollins officially announced his return to the Phillies tonight with a 2-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the 9th against the Indians.
It was J-Roll’s only hit in two games since coming off the DL. Things looked grim going into that inning as Rollins was just 0 for 4 before that homer, but he hit it when it counted the most and gave his team a 7-6 victory. Welcome back, Jimmy!
Prior to that, the Phillies offense did score some runs, but they still seem to be butting heads with the usual problems; leaving men on base, hitting into double plays and swinging at bad pitches. Both Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez hit into double plays, the worst of which was by Ibanez in the 6th inning. With two runners on and no outs, Ibanez tapped one back to the mound and they did not score that inning.
But Howard had 2 hits on the night and Jayson Werth had 3, including a homer. Brian Schneider hit his first homer of the year in the 7th and there were a couple extra base hits in the game as well. The Phillies went only 2 for 8 with runners in scoring position, but with J-Roll playing the hero, it was enough to win the game.
The pitching was also interesting as the magical see-saw adventures of Kyle Kendrick continued tonight.
When Kendrick steps to the mound, you just never know what tricks he might pull out of his hat next. This evening’s tricks included allowing two 2-run homers to Shin-Soo Choo. Kendrick lasted just 4 innings with 5 runs allowed, although 1 run was unearned after a Chase Utley error.
With Kendrick, the only thing that has been consistent is his inconsistency. And with rumors floating that the Phillies are looking for a starting pitcher, it appears they are growing impatient with not only Kendrick, but JA Happ as well. Happ has not been progressing as quickly with his rehab as the Phillies would like. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told the Courier Press, “”It’s the first time he’s ever had this time off, and (he needs to) come back and cut it loose and get back to that old form. He’s going to have to get to that point or he can’t perform here.” Those are strong words from an obviously frustrated GM.
Another player was injured tonight as well; Chad Durbin came up with a right hamstring strain at the beginning of the 9th inning. According to Charlie Manuel after the game, the injury is “pretty serious.” Not good news; all we can do is hope he will be okay.
In other news, Greg Dobbs did clear waivers and has been sent to AAA to work on his swing. Hopefully, Dobbs can get back into shape and help out later in the year. I know a lot of people have been complaining about Dobbs, and not without cause, but I am rooting for him to return to his 2008 form when he was probably the best pinch hitter in the league. I have been fortunate to speak with Greg on a number of occasions and he is as nice a guy as you could ever hope to meet. He is great with the fans, unselfish when giving his time and has a good heart. For all those reasons, I wish him well and hope we might see him again soon.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Jimmy Rollins was officially activated off the DL today for the second time this year and will play tonight against the Indians. The Phillies are hoping that J-Roll will kick-start this team and give them a much needed boost of energy.
Both Juan Castro and Wilson Valdez, who filled for Rollins, were rewarded for their solid performances by being kept on the roster. Instead, the Phillies designated Greg Dobbs for assignment. Dobbs was only 1 for 25 pinch hitting this year and is batting just .152, so this is not a huge shock. If Dobbs clears waivers and no one claims him, he will probably be sent to AAA to try to find his swing again.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz was supposed to be out for only a few days after being hit in the head with a broken bat on Friday. But after a series of tests, the Phillies decided to put him on the DL, retroactive to June 19th. This freed up another roster spot which was given to LHP Mike Zagurski. In 2007, Zagurski pitched in 25 games for the Phillies and after that, he underwent Tommy John surgery. Working his way back to the majors, Zagurski has an ERA of 2.35 pitching for AAA this year in 30.2 innings of work.
Right-hander Scott Mathieson was optioned to AAA Lehigh Valley after just 2/3 of an inning for the Phillies where he allowed 2 runs on 3 hits.
In other news, former Phillies catcher Darren Daulton will be inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame on Friday, August 6 before that evening’s game. Daulton played 14 years for the Phils, went to 3 All-Star games and is the only catcher in Phillies history with two 100-RBI seasons. Congratulations to Darren; he is very deserving!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies scored only 22 runs in the latter half of May, from the 18th to the 31st. But in the last 4 games, the Phillies have exploded to the tune of 31 runs. Today against the Twins, they scored 9 runs, had a 5-run lead in the 8th inning, and still lost the game.
The Phillies hit five home runs in the game. Here is a recap of the first four: The usual suspects, Ryan Howard and Werth, nailed two of those homers. Not as common was a blast from Raul Ibanez, who was on base three times. Even less common was a homer from Wilson Valdez, who had his only other big league homer in 2006. Yes, 4 years ago. If Valdez can smack a homer, then the stars must really be aligning for the Phillies, right? Maybe not…
Cole Hamels got off to a bad start in the first inning, giving up 3 runs. A passed ball by catcher Brian Schneider and a bad throw to second by Hamels added fuel to the fire. But the offense immediately picked Hamels back up by getting those 3 runs right back in the bottom of the inning. Chase Utley led the way with a 2-run triple and Jayson Werth hit a sac fly to score Utley.
Every starter in the game, including Hamels, had at least one hit today. On the mound, Hamels later allowed a solo home run to Justin Morneau and ended the day with 4 runs allowed over 7 innings. If you forget about the first inning mishap, Hamels had a great day.
But, as has been a common story line this year, the Phillies bullpen blew a FIVE run lead. In the 9th inning, former-Phil, Jim Thome hit a 2-run homer off Jose Contreras. As it was then a save situation, Brad Lidge was brought into the game. And Lidge proceeded to blow the save and the remaining 3-run lead. He gave up an RBI-single and a 2-run homer to Twins catcher, Joe Mauer.
With a 9-9 tied game in the bottom of the 9th, the Phils got 2 hits but still failed to score and win the game. Howard and Werth both struck out. Chad Durbin came in for the 10th inning and as soon as I saw him on the mound, I thought, “Oh crap, he is going to give up a homer to the first batter.” Why do I think this? Because he has done it many times in the exact same situation. How many times, I do not know except to say that I have nightmares about it. Sure enough, 1st batter: homer.
The inning ended with a tag out at the plate, which normally would have been very exciting. But at that point, who cares? The Phillies are losing 9-10 with the bottom of the batting order coming up. Do you think Valdez can hit his 3rd homer in 4 years to win the game? No? Neither do I…
Valdez did not get a chance. Greg Dobbs popped out, Schneider grounded out and Ross Gload pinch hit for Valdez. Now, Gload did a homer with 2 outs to tie the game again. But again, no need to get excited because Danys Baez was going to pitch the 11th inning. Baez has been awful and today did not change that. He gave up THREE runs in the 11th just to make sure the Phillies had NO chance at a win.
The Phillies went down in the 11th. It was a pathetic end to a pathetic loss. The final score was 10-13 and the Phils now have one game left against the Twins. If Roy Halladay can get back on his game after allowing 6 runs in his last outing, the Phils could maybe salvage a series win. Game time is 1:35pm and I will return with photos.
In other news, Carlos Ruiz will get a few days off after being nailed in the head with a broken bat while behind the plate yesterday. He will not need a trip to the DL, which is great news. Scott Mathieson was designated for assignment to make room for catcher Dane Sardinha who will back-up Schneider until Ruiz is healthy.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Just when it looks like Jamie Moyer might fold, like after allowing 9 runs in one inning in his last start, he comes out firing again. In 8 innings against the Yankees tonight, Moyer gave up two solo homers, a single, a walk and that is all; no other hits and no other base runners.
The 47-year old Moyer simply does not let a bad start get him down. It is a really amazing thing to see.
Moyer’s great performance came on the anniversary of his major league debut, June 16, 1986. Yankee batters had an eye-popping experience as they were mowed down by Moyer’s slow-motion pitches.
AJ Burnett pitched for the Yanks and as his history dictates, he either runs hot or cold. Luckily for a sleepy Phils offense, Burnett was running cold tonight. They took advantage and scored six runs off him.
There were many things that occurred tonight which Phillies fans have not seen in a long time:
– Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth hit homers.
– Those homers were of the back-to-back variety.
– A triple! A’la Shane Victorino :O)
– Raul Ibanez stole a base; last time that happened was May 2009.
– Greg Dobbs got a hit – Dobbs has only 10 hits all season so far.
– Wilson Valdez avoided hitting into a double play; Valdez has grounded into 10 double plays this year in only 25 games started and 34 games played total.
– Jamie Moyer pitched at least 8 innings for only the 3rd time this year in 13 starts.
– Smiles from the Phillies players.
– I watched a Phillies game through 8 innings without screaming cuss words at the TV or downing a bottle of Tums. This is a real accomplishment. However, I do not want to talk about the 9th inning…
And I suppose a win is something we have not seen much of this past month either so, hallelujah for that! The 6-3 win was capped off by Brad Lidge in the 9th who ran into some trouble, allowing a run in the inning. He also managed to get two runners on base and bring the tying run to the plate with two outs. But finally, he struck out Jorge Posada and ended it. Whew!
Kyle Kendrick will pitch in the finale of the series tomorrow night at 7:05pm. If he can gather some inspiration from Moyer’s comeback and the offense can pick it up, a win is possible. Cross your fingers and toes…
Jeter photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The first inning of today’s Phillies – Padres match-up was a microcosm of the issues that have been plaguing the Phils since the middle of May. The offense started off with two hits, then they loaded the bases with one out and Jayson Werth hit a weak grounder into a double play to end the inning. Two batters before that, Chase Utley had popped out with 2 men on base.
Werth and Utley, previously two of the teams’ best hitters, are quickly becoming the poster-children for killing rallies. Phillies fans everywhere are losing patience waiting for the two sluggers to find their swings again. Fans used to look forward to seeing them bat. Now, all you can do is cringe when they step to the plate and begin counting the different ways they might kill an inning; will it be a double play? A pop-up? A strike-out? Or maybe the bat will spontaneously combust due to lack of use, rendering him helpless at the plate…the possibilities are endless.
Once again, the real victim of this disgusting and seemingly unending offensive slump is the starting pitcher.
Cole Hamels had a no-hitter working through 6 innings. He finally surrendered back-to-back homers in the 7th to end the streak, but with just those two runs allowed, Hamels more than did his job. It is just one more outstanding pitching performance gone to waste by the Phils offensive offense.
Eight full innings and just 3 hits later, Hamels found himself still without any assistance from his teammates. The pinch hitters failed again in the bottom of the 8th with both Greg Dobbs and Ross Gload going down in flames. Danys Baez pitched the 9th and put the Phillies in a deeper hole by giving up a homer to Adrian Gonzalez, his second of the night.
The Phillies tried to battle back in the bottom of the 9th; Placido Polanco singled, followed by another Utley out. Ryan Howard drove Polanco in but then Werth stepped to the plate and, as has been the trend, he struck out. The Phillies lose 1-3, but I suppose the good news is that at least it was not another shut-out.
Besides the huge disappointment today in the Phillies majors, the minor leagues reported one more bit if depressing news. The “big” prospect the Phillies got in the Cliff Lee trade, pitcher Phillipe Aumont, was demoted to single-A ball after sporting a 10.61 ERA in AA-ball. Remember back in Spring Training when the same guy gave up 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning in an exhibition game against a college team in his first Phillies action? And afterwards, he blamed it on the pressure of being traded for Cliff Lee? Oh yeah, that guy.
So, we get our first peek at how beneficial that trade really was. If Aumont cannot handle pressure, what good is he? And do you really think the Mariners were unaware of this when they sent him packing? I doubt it. Talent and potential are great, but I am pretty sure in the life-game of rock, paper, scissors, that mental toughness trumps both. But hey, Lee will be available again at the trade deadline this year; think the Mariners will take Aumont back? Ha, ha…I crack myself up ;o)
The draft took place tonight and the Phillies have selected a local; Jesse Biddle, a left-handed pitcher, from Philly. Best of luck to the young pitcher!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Happy Bunny by Jim Benton
While it was only a 2-game win streak, it was nice while it lasted. The Phillies lost by a score of 5-6 to the Padres today in 10 innings. Placido Polanco made a huge blunder in the 9th inning, getting thrown out at third base, which was followed by a Ryan Howard single that would have scored him to tie the game. However, this loss is not his fault. Polly had 3 hits in the game, 2 RBI and until that moment, was the star of the game. Howard also had 2 hits and 3 RBI.
The biggest mistake in this game in my opinion was when Charlie Manuel sent Joe Blanton back out to pitch the 5th inning. Blanton had already given up 4 runs on 10 hits in just 4 innings and looked like he may self-destruct at any moment. Chad Durbin was already warming up in the pen during the 4th and would have been ready to go. Sure enough, Blanton goes back out, throws one pitch and Nick Hundley shot it right over the left field wall. That one run was the difference in the game.
Blanton has been bad, or Blah-anton-like, since coming off the DL. He now has a 1-4 record with 2 no decisions and a 6.07 ERA. He has not allowed less than 3 earned runs in ANY start this year and has made it through 7 innings only 2 times. The first 5 starts or so looking like he was just behind in his conditioning after returning from the injury. But he should be on track by now and clearly is not. If he is still hurt, the Phillies had better figure it out quick.
Another mystery is Chase Utley; he has not hit a home run since May 20th and has just 6 hits in his last 12 games. While we all know Utley will never admit to being hurt, maybe it is time for someone to sneak up behind him with a syringe, knock him unconscious and force him through and MRI machine? Because this is an unprecedented slump for Utley who hit better in 2008 with a bum hip.
Jayson Werth has been just as bad with 3 hits in 10 games. He has 16 strike outs in those same 10 games, with 3 tonight. The biggest one came with 2 men on base in the 10th to end the game. Ok, run him through the MRI too; it couldn’t hurt.
The bench players have been awful as well. Here are the batting averages: Greg Dobbs, .145; Ross Gload, .200; Ben Francisco, .233. I do not want to hear the excuse about lack of playing time anymore. Other pinch hitters and bench guys on other teams are getting it done, so why aren’t the Phils? Travis Ishikawa of the Giants is 5 for 10 in pinch hits. Even former Phillies, Wes Helms is batting .277 for the Marlins. What is up with the Phillies bench?
This was a frustrating loss as the Phillies finally scored some runs despite various slumps, but the pitching did not hold. They have one more game with the Padres tomorrow night at 7:05pm with a well rested Cole Hamels on the mound as his last outing was rain-shortened.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography