Hey, remember that amazing perfect game pitched by Roy Halladay a few days ago? That was so awesome. It was the happiest Phillies day in all of 2010 so far; a historical, momentous occasion. Ah, memories…
With the way the Phillies have been playing lately, that perfect game now seems like it happened ages ago; a distant memory of a happier time. Aside from that one bright spot, the Phillies last 10 games have resembled a bad horror movie, including today’s 9-3 loss to the Braves.
The game got off to a very scary start when, with 1st & 3rd and only 1 out, Ryan Howard hit into an inning-ending double play. Then starting pitcher Joe Blanton gave up a 2-run homer to Chipper Jones in the bottom of the 1st. To make matters worse, manager Charlie Manuel decided to put Ross Gload in right field to give the struggling Jayson Werth a mental day off. Well, with 2 outs, Gload missed a routine fly ball, sending the runner to second instead of ending the inning. That runner scored and the Phillies fell into an 0-3 hole.
The next inning was just as frightening; with 2 men on base and 1 out, Wilson Valdez grounded into another double play to end another inning.
Manuel got ejected from the game in the 3rd inning following an indecisive call by the home plate umpire. Larry Vanover said Greg Dobbs was hit by a pitch and then changed his mind after the Braves argued the call. Nice job, ump. Just what we needed…
Manuel’s ejection did nothing to wake the zombified Phillies offense. Howard missed an easy ground ball in the bottom of the 3rd, allowing yet another unearned run to score. And the Phillies bats stayed silent until the 7th inning when 4 straight doubles scored 3 runs. What? 3 runs in one inning and all with 2 outs in the inning? Who are these Phillies and where did they hide the zombies?
Oh wait, the undead have returned…in the form of the Phillies bullpen. Given a little hope with those 3 runs and trailing by just 3-6, the Phillies bullpen put a stop to that. Antonio Bastardo got 1 out in the 7th and then allowed a single and a walk. Chad Durbin took over and with just one pitch, he gave up a 3-run homer. I guess Durbin was just trying to clean off the bases for a fresh start? Ugh.
Earlier today, Brad Lidge was activated off the DL…again. How long this will last, no one knows. He did pitch the 8th inning, as the Phillies tried to ease him back into his regular role. He pitched a clean inning and looked like he is feeling much better. We shall see…
With Lidge back, instead of optioning the young Bastardo to make room, the Phillies chose to designate Nelson Figueroa for assignment. Figueroa may not be back. He has to clear waivers first and then, if he is not picked up, he could either become a free agent or take an assignment to the minors.
So with this loss today, the Phillies are out of first place, ½ game behind the Braves. If they can wake up and get anything done in the next 2 games against the Braves, they could turn it around. The way this month has gone, I am sure everyone is happy to be done with May. Let us hope June is better.
Head shots by Jenn Zambri Photography except Werth: MLB.com
Odds were good that the Phillies would have to bust out of this major slump at some point. Today against the Marlins, they finally scored for the first time since the 9th inning against the Red Sox on Sunday…5 days ago. In the 4th inning against the Fish, a Ryan Howard single followed by a Raul Ibanez triple ended the drought. Whew!
Of course, 3 strike-outs followed the Ibanez RBI, leaving him stranded on 3rd, making fans wonder if the one run was a fluke. But the offense kept creeping back to life, scoring one run each in the 5th and 7th innings. Chase Utley manufactured a run by walking, then stealing 2nd base, allowing him to score on another Howard single. Utley later grounded out to score a runner from 3rd base.
Manager Charlie Manuel moved the line-up around a bit, giving Jayson Werth and Placido Polanco the day off. Ross Gload and Greg Dobbs filled in; Gload went 1 for 4 and Dobbs was hitless. Polanco is still having elbow issues after being hit with a pitch at the start of the season. Hopefully, a little rest will get him back into the lineup.
As for starter Kyle Kendrick, he pitched very well. His fielding, however, was not great and cost him the only 2 runs he allowed. With 2 outs and 2 men on in the 3rd, Hanley Ramirez hit an easy ground ball to Kendrick who drilled the ball into the ground trying to throw to first. Just as it looked like he was out of the inning, 2 runs crossed the plate on the error.
Both runs were unearned and Kendrick wound up going 6 innings without additional incident. Overall, it was a quality start. Chad Durbin and Danys Baez got through the next two innings fairly easily. Jose Contreras came in for the 9th and got into trouble, allowing back-to-back singles with one out. He struck out Cody Ross next and then Ronnie Paulino popped up to end the game.
So, with a little help, Kendrick beats the Fish and Contreras collected the save. And the Phillies finally put an end to the 5-game losing streak. Can I get one more big SIGH of relief….whew! Game 2 in Miami is tomorrow at 7:10pm with Roy Halladay on the mound.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
With a 3-8 loss to the Red Sox, it was a bad day all around for Phillies fans. First, two of the stars from the movie “The Hangover” were supposed to throw out first pitches, but I guess it got bumped due to time constraints after the rain clean-up and tarp removal. And I really, really wanted a picture of Bradley Cooper. A sad day for women everywhere…
Next, the curse of the Phillies and Interleague play continued… Roy Halladay had a very, very bad day. Worries about his being overworked in his last outing, throwing 132 pitches, are beginning to look justified. Todd Zolecki reported that due to the increased work load, Halladay actually adjusted his routine between starts. Anytime a pitcher is thrown off his usual routine, something is wrong.
And that something is that Halladay is being used and abused and it finally caught up to him. He had given up just 1 run going into the 4th inning but that is where the game took a serious turn for the worse. With the bases loaded and one out, Greg Dobbs missed a ball that looked like a routine double play ball. Instead, it trickled into the outfield and 2 runs scored.
Knowing that would have gotten him out of the jam, Halladay was visibly upset and had to be calmed by pitching coach, Rich Dubee. It all went downhill from there. Halladay ended the game with 7 runs, 6 of them earned, in just 5 2/3 innings. The defense did not help him out as witnessed by the Dobbs blunder and check out this miss, which Shane Victorino almost caught:
By the way, this begs the question, why was Dobbs playing third with a sinker ball pitcher on the mound? There is way too much action at 3rd in this situation and, as a bench player, Dobbs does not get much practice. Placido Polanco could have taken a day off when either Joe Blanton or Cole Hamels were going to pitch. The move made no sense and it cost the Phillies.
What also cost them was the lack of offense…again. The Sox pitcher, Tim Wakefield, had not thrown a shut-out since 1997. But today, it looked like it may happen as he went 8 scoreless innings. The Phillies made this 43-year old pitcher look like a spring chicken.
Once Wakefield was pulled, the Phillies managed to squeak out 3 runs in the 9th with a Ross Gload 2-run homer and doubles from Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez. Here are a few more game shots:
Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game which includes these shots and more.
So the Phillies will be holding their annual Phillies Phestival tomorrow and I will report back on those events sometime on Tuesday. After the Phestival, they hit the road and start a series with the Mets at 7:10pm on Tuesday night.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Today’s 4-1 loss to the Atlanta Braves was disappointing. With an offense that looked to be getting back on track, the Phillies bats took a little nap today. While they collected 9 hits and 4 walks, the Phils simply could not score those runners. Shane Victorino had the only RBI of the day. Leaving 9 men on base is just not going to get the job done.
With two errors committed in the first inning alone, things looked scary early on. But Joe Blanton did escape the inning, even after hitting a batter. He lasted 6 innings and allowed 3 runs total, which is a quality start. But the offense gave Blanton no support so he walked away with his second loss in his second start of the year.
Four relief pitchers were used and Danys Baez gave up the final Braves run in the 9th. The line-up was a little odd today; Chase Utley got the day off and Placido Polanco moved to second with Greg Dobbs at third. Manager Charlie Manuel was absent from the game as well for “personal” reasons. Pete Mackanin managed in his place. Maybe the players were just missing Charlie today and decided to give the bats a rest? Who knows…
But they will get another shot at the Braves tomorrow with the very fashionable pink bats, in honor of Mother’s Day. I will be there and hope to have some awesome photos when I return ;o) Game time is 1:35pm.
National Train Day
I attended National Train Day at Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station today and had the opportunity to interview Dallas Green, Gary “Sarge” Matthews and Virginia Ventura Marina of the former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. Those interviews will be posted shortly.
In the meantime, here is a quick look at the event. There was a historical display of baseball memorabilia as it related to the time when rail travel was prevalent for these events. Here is a bit of that:
Overall, the event was very well organized and jam packed with interested people looking for some free entertainment. And let’s face it, how many times each year can you amuse the kids for free? A job well done :O) Big thanks to the staff for inviting me!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
In tonight’s start against the Cardinals, Kyle Kendrick went from zero to hero. Kendrick pitched well in Spring Training, but since the season began he has had just one good start. After a clean 7 innings today with no runs, 6 hits and 2 walks, can this Superhero hold onto his cape? Or will Kendrick morph into an evil villain for his next start?
Consistency is the key. Right now, Kendrick is a one-hit wonder. He is going to need to repeat this success next time out if the Phillies are going to buy into the Superhero façade.
The offense gave Kendrick some runs to work with, but they did not start churning them out until the 4th inning. Placido Polanco smashed a 2-run homer and Shane Victorino hit a solo shot in the 6th. Their 4th run came after Juan Castro singled and Greg Dobbs drove in Wilson Valdez, the pinch runner, with a long double. The bad news is, Castro limped off the field and that is why Valdez was put in. No word yet on how serious the injury may be, but it appears to be a hamstring strain.
After the 7th inning, the game was left to the Phillies bullpen. The pen has not been good so far this year. Danys Baez pitched a clean 8th and Jose Contreras was handed the 9th. With his mother in the stands whom he had not seen since 2003, Contreras had some inspiration. They had been separated since Contreras defected from Cuba and until this home stand, she had never seen her son play in person.
So it was a special night for Contreras, being able to close out the game, and he rose to the occasion. He sent the Cards down in order to hand the 4-0 shut-out victory to the Phillies. It was also Kendrick’s first win of the year.
It will be a quick turn-around for the Phillies as tomorrow’s 4-game finale starts at 1:05pm. Roy Halladay will face ex-Phillie Kyle Loshe. Halladay will be pitching for a series win and his 6th individual win of the season.
Head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography
Have you ever noticed how a player on your favorite team seems like an Angel in the right uniform?
But when he goes to another team, he becomes the Devil. Such is the case with Rodrigo Lopez who pitched for the Phillies last year and went to the Diamondbacks for 2010. Lopez started the game against the Phillies today and pitched 6 innings, allowing 6 runs. So, while we thank him for the 6 runs, sadly, he would only have earned his wings back if he gave us about 15 runs.
Because it looked like the Phillies were going to need 15 runs to win this one. Kyle Kendrick started out pitching really well, but that only lasted 4 innings. By the 5th, Kendrick had returned to his old ways, leaving balls way up in the hitter’s happy-zones and before you knew it, 5 runs had crossed the plate. Kendrick was pulled after 5 innings and his outing turned into a huge disappointment.
The offense tried to keep pace and by the top of the 6th, they had gone ahead of the D-Backs by a score of 6-5. Greg Dobbs hit a 2-run homer in the first, Ross Gload had 2 hits and an RBI and Carlos Ruiz gave them the lead with a 2-out, 2-run single.
The line-up tonight was a bit odd, with Gload and Dobbs in the 1 & 2 spots and Wilson Valdez at short stop. Juan Castro is still nursing a sore hamstring; Shane Victorino sat in order to re-group as he has not been hitting lately; and Dobbs took 3rd base for Placido Polanco. Polly has not looked the same since getting hit in the elbow with a pitch.
So if the Phillies were going to pull out a series win, they were going to have to depend on the back-up players and also hope that the pitching would hold up. The back-ups did their job; the pitchers did not.
After Kendrick’s disastrous 5th inning, Danys Baez could not hold the lead. He gave up 1 run in the 7th to tie the game at 6-6. David Herdon got into trouble in the 8th; with no outs, Raul Ibanez threw a runner out going home and Ruiz held onto the ball for the out. Herndon got a second chance, but he blew it. A 1-out double scored the go-ahead run and then the hits kept coming. By the end of the inning, the Phillies were down by a score of 6-8 and only 1 inning left to get back in it.
And as expected with this suddenly unpredictable offense, the Phillies fell short in the 9th and went down 6-8. Having lost this series 1 game to 2, the Phillies have a lot of issues to address, not the least of which is starting pitching. One man does not a rotation make and Roy Halladay can only win 1 game every five days. Kendrick and Cole Hamels need to get their act together…fast. Joe Blanton and JA Happ had better get well soon and Jamie Moyer is holding his own in the 5th spot.
An even bigger issue is the bullpen; their performance has varied from inconsistent to just plain awful. A lot of the pen pitchers, like Baez, seem to have a one game on, one game off thing going on. It is like the see-saw ride from hell. You just never know which end is going to be up or down and when.
And now the Phillies are heading to San Francisco to face the Giants red-hot pitching staff. With all the injuries and inconsistent performances, the Phillies may be headed into big, big trouble. And Trouble is called Jonathan Sanchez and Tim “I have 2 Cy Youngs” Lincecum. The first game of the series starts tomorrow at 10:15pm. Bust out the bottle of Tums; this is going to be interesting.
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography except Lopez as a D-Back; MLB.com
Two old dudes battled it out tonight in Atlanta; the Braves Derek Lowe, 36, and the Phillies Jamie Moyer, 47. When I say I old, I am talking in baseball terms, of course. The elder Moyer out-dueled Lowe allowing just 4 hits and no earned runs in 6 innings. Lowe fell victim to the powerful Phillies offense which ran him out of the game after only 5 innings and racked up 5 runs.
Moyer continues to amaze and defy the laws of time with every victory. And tonight, he did something I had never seen before; in the 2nd inning, he hit the Braves rookie Jason Heyward with a pitch. That was not the fun part though. As the ball left Moyer’s hand, you could hear him yell to Heyward, “Look out!” as the pitch ran too far inside. Moyer is a true gentleman. Of course, the ball was only travelling about 74 mph so I think Heyward will be okay ;o)
The defense behind Moyer was pretty good, although Chase Utley did have one adventurous inning. Right after announcer Tom McCarthy commented on how much Utley has improved and that he has a shot at a Gold Glove one day, Utley’s ears must have been burning because he committed two errors in the 5th inning.
While trying to turn a double play, Utley bobbled the feed from Juan Castro, dropped the ball twice and a run scored. The very next play, he tried another double play but threw the ball wide to 1st, which flew past Ryan Howard and allowed another run to score. So it is official; no one is allowed to talk about Gold Gloves in relation to Utley for the rest of the year. Clearly, it was a jinx.
Utley’s offense has not been affected by a jinx though, as he has now reached base safely in every game so far this year. He had one hit and 2 walks tonight. Greg Dobbs did a great job filling in for Placido Polanco; he went 2 for 3. Castro went 3 for 5 and had 1 RBI, making it 5 for 8 from the back-up starters.
Actually, the only other jinx I can see for this team is the bullpen, which has been fairly awful. Roy Halladay avoided that jinx yesterday by pitching all 9 innings himself. Moyer only went 6, which is about average from him so sadly, the pen had to be counted on. Chad Durbin worked his way into a bases loaded jam with 1 out in the 7th and then ran a 3-0 count to the next batter. Fans everywhere had to be saying, “Oh crap…here we go again…”
Durbin got a sac fly out of that one and thanks to the Braves generosity in swinging at balls, he escaped the inning having allowed just the one run. But there was no one exhaling just yet. The Phillies had an 8-3 lead, but still 2 more innings of scary bullpen work to get through.
This bullpen could totally blow a 5-run lead….I have seen it happen. But tonight, Danys Baez rebounded from his last disastrous outing and got through the 8th inning with no damage. In the 9th, rookie David Herndon pitched and things got hairy with a few base runners. But Herdon worked through it and the Phillies won, 8-3.
There was a bit of bad news today before the game began; pitcher JA Happ has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 16th. The left forearm strain that was revealed after an MRI is apparently a bigger issue than the Phillies first anticipated. Nelson Figueroa will take Happ’s place in the starting rotation for now and his spot in the bullpen will be taken over by JC Romero, who was removed from the DL today. Welcome back, JC! We missed you!
So it is a bit of good news with a bit of bad news. As for 3rd baseman, Placido Polanco, he was left out of the line-up tonight after being hit by a pitch in the elbow yesterday. Polanco told the media today that he should be ready to play again tomorrow night. Assuming this is the case, that is very good news. Losing another starter right now could be a small disaster.
And yes, it is already that time again…All Star Voting. Why they start this so early in the season always puzzles me, but nonetheless, VOTING began yesterday. Let’s get a head start; VOTE for your Phillies today!
And Happy Earth Day everyone! Remember to recycle and conserve energy…for Phillies fans, that might mean drinking a beer from a recycled can and lazing on the couch to conserve energy. But hey, every little bit helps. :O)
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography