Tagged: Hunter Pence

Dead Last

I am not sure which word in my article title is more disturbing; “dead” or “last.”  If you haven’t looked at the NL East standings lately, take a moment to prepare yourself for the worst.  The Phillies are dead last and the only team in the division that is playing under .500 baseball.

At the start of the year, we all figured they might snap out of it but that is just not happening.  They just plain suck.  And that fact was no more evident than last night against the Mets in a 7-4 loss after leading by 4 runs at the start of the game.

Here is what we have learned about this Phillies team recently:  They cannot hold a lead.  The bullpen stinks.  The offense is schizophrenic; you never know what might happen next.  Wikipedia defines schizophrenia as “…disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction.”  That about sums it up.

The Phillies took a quick 4-run lead in this game, thanks in part to a Hunter Pence 2-run homer.  John Mayberry Jr. had 2 hits and is starting to find his swing.  But that is where the good new ends.

Joe Blanton left the game with 2 outs in the 7th inning and 2 runners on base.  Then Chad Qualls punched him in the gut by allowing both runs to score.  Adding to the disaster, Pete Orr botched a play at second base, which led to the Mets to taking a 5-4 lead.

Late in games, a one run deficit seems almost impossible to overcome for this team.  So as if that were not bad enough, reliever Michael Schwimer added 2 more Mets runs in the 8th.  That was the nail in the coffin.

You could not even change channels last night for some relief. The Flyers lost and were ousted from the playoffs.  The Sixers lost and have to play again on Thursday.  There was no escape…it was a very bad day for Philly sports.

But the drama continues tonight as the Phillies will attempt to salvage one lousy game from the lousy Mets.  Ugh.  Cliff Lee will come off the DL and pitch starting at 7:05pm…he is our only hope for a win :O(

 

 

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Hamels Hammers Nats

The Phillies were in serious need of a win last night after dropping the first two games of the series with the Nationals.  And they had exactly the man on the mound who could get the job done.

Through eight innings, Cole Hamels allowed only one run on five hits.  He also showed his team he wasn’t afraid to get his delicate hands dirty by drilling rookie Bryce Harper with a pitch in the 1st inning.  After the game, Hamels told the media, “I was trying to hit him.”  Hamels was not looking to injure, but the message was sent.

Of course, Harper sent a message of his own by stealing home that same inning, which was the only run the Nats would score.  Then Hamels was hit with a pitch in his first at-bat in retaliation, which Hamels fully expected.

In addition to the hit by pitch, Hamels also earned a walk and a single in the game, doing damage at the plate as well as from the mound.  He could be seen in the dugout between innings laughing and joking with teammates.

The lighter mood finally rubbed off on his teammates who scored 3 runs in the 4th and then exploded with 6 runs in the 9th.  Placido Polanco lead the team with 3 hits and Hunter Pence collected 4 RBI on 2 home runs, finally showing some power.

The Nats “Take back the Park” campaign wound up being a big joke.  Phillies fans still showed up in droves.  At least in the final game, they were rewarded for their efforts.

Another downer for the Nats was watching ex-Phillie Jayson Werth go down with a broken wrist in last night’s game.  It is the same wrist that Werth injured back in 2005 that almost ended his career.  Werth will be out for at least 6 weeks and miss the May 21-23 rematch with the Phils.

The Mets are up next, starting tonight at 7:05pm in Philly.  Welcome home, Phils!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Blanton Channels Halladay In Complete Game Shut-Out

Since Roy Halladay was unable to perform like Roy Halladay on Wednesday night, Joe Blanton decided to step in and give it a try.  Blanton did such a great Halladay impersonation that he managed to shut-out the Braves in a 3-hit complete game for a 4-0 Phillies win.

But maybe Blanton was not channeling the spirit of an ace pitcher at all; maybe this is just who Blanton is when he is actually healthy.  Either that, or maybe Blanton just needs to take every other year off and only play baseball during even-numbered years?

After a few tough years, Blanton has finally gone from an average Joe to an ace.  And after the previous night’s 11-inning 15-13 disaster that blew out both team’s bullpens, the Phillies pitchers really needed the boost from Blanton’s complete game.

The offense provide just enough offense to sneak out of Atlanta with a series win, 2 games to 1.  Shane Victorino and Laynce Nix both homered in the game and Hunter Pence added a sac fly.

The Phillies begin a 3-game series with the first place (gulp!) Nationals on Friday night.  Stephen Strasburg will pitch against Phillies fill-in extraordinaire, Kyle Kendrick (double gulp!).  Game time is 7:05pm…let the fun begin!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Phillies Hit The Road on a Positive Note

In the finale of a 4-game series with the Cubs, the Phillies got off to a hot start with 4 runs in the first inning.  Having already lost 2 games in this series, it was imperative for this team to get going quickly. But after those 4 runs, the offense went to sleep again.

Vance Worley pitched 7 strong innings while the offense napped.  He allowed only 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks.  The Phillies took the 4-1 lead into the 8th inning as the bullpen took over.

Sadly, no lead seems very safe with this team.  Such was the case as Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls combined to blow the 3-run lead.  Bastardo walked his second batter and Qualls gave up a single to score that run and then added a 2-run homer shortly after.

With the game then tied, the Phillies needed that sleeping offense to wake up.  But the way things have been going lately, it seemed unlikely.  It was going to take a small miracle…or at least a clutch hit.

When you find yourself cheering because the first batter of the inning, Juan Pierre, got hit by a pitch, you know things have not been going well.  And when you begin to hope that maybe the pitcher will hit the next 3 batters so you can score a run, things have gone from bad to worse.

But instead of getting hit, the Phillies actually got a few hits.  With 2 outs and Pierre on first, Jimmy Rollins singled to move Pierre to third.  And then the real hero stepped to the plate and proved he has still got the bat to go with his glove.  Placido Polanco smashed a double to left that scored both Pierre and Rollins.  It was the first time this year that the Phillies were able to take a lead in their final at-bat.

The Phillies went on to a 6-4 victory, thanks to Polly’s timely hit.  Even better, it does appear that Polanco is healthy again after 2 hernia issues the previous year.

Going back on the road against the Braves and Nationals, who are leading the division, it was important to start on a positive note.  With any luck, the Phillies may be able to start digging themselves out of this hole and April’s losing record.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

The Phillies Team-Wide Recession

The nicest thing I can say about today’s Phillies – Cubs game is that the weather was beautiful.  Unfortunately, that is where the joy ends.

Even the Phillie Phanatic’s birthday celebration was toned down from previous years.  There were fewer mascots, no Zooperstars except a generic monkey and the cake was less than half the size it usually is.  See for yourself…it appears the recession has finally reached the Phanatic birthday bash:

In fact, maybe the entire organization is suffering from a recession.  They accidentally give away runs to other teams for free and cannot score any of their own.  That is a recipe for going broke fast.

Today’s match-up featured Kyle Kendrick vs. Matt Garza.  Guess who won?

Garza sucked what little life was left in the Phillies offense and spat them out like garbage.  The only action the Phillies bats saw was a parade of foul balls:

Jimmy Rollins got a hit to start the game and that was it for the whole team until the 9th inning when Hunter Pence added a bookend hit.  The only run they scored was also in the 9th and came from a bases-loaded walk.

The defense was just as awful.  Here is Laynce Nix impersonating a really bad first baseman:

I say impersonating because he is an outfielder who played a total of 9 games at first base in a 9-year career before joining the Phillies.

And Pence added to the mayhem by overrunning another ball in right field which led to a run for the Cubs.  That is 3 straight games that Pence has made the same mistake.  I am confused by this…how about you?

And here is a play at the play where, according to my photo, it appears Brian Schneider tags the runner about a foot before the plate.  I did not see the TV replay, so maybe the photo is deceptive, but who knows:

Either way, it was just one more crappy moment in another crappy Phillies game.  This was officially one of the worst Phillies games I have ever seen in person.  The 5-1 loss also guarantees the Phils a losing record in April after dropping 2 out of 3 games so far to the second WORST team in the entire national league.  Depressed yet?

No worries…there is always tomorrow (please note my sarcasm here).  Feel free to add your own sarcastic comments as well.  At least we can all vent together ;O)

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.  I assure you, my photos are more entertaining than this team is right now.  You’re welcome.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Chooch Gets The Phillies Train Chugging Again

Carlos Ruiz has very quietly been one of the best catchers in baseball over the past several years.  Calling games for guys like Roy Halladay, catching no hitter’s and backing his team with key hits, Chooch never seems to get the credit he deserves.

But Phillies fans know that Chooch is the man.  Last night Ruiz helped pitcher Joe Blanton get through 7 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs and striking out 8 batters.  Blanton looked really sharp and Ruiz was his usual, awesome self.

Leading the team with 3 RBI in the 5-2 victory over the Cubs, Ruiz also showed his toughness.  After getting nailed in the knee with a foul ball in the 6th inning and writhing in pain, only minutes later, Ruiz smashed a home run to left to add an insurance run for the Phillies.  There is nothing this guy would not do for his team.

The 2 hits by Ruiz were key in the game, as the Phillies had only 4 other hits for a total of 6 in the game.  3 of the remaining 4 hits were doubles, including a 2-run shot by Jimmy Rollins.  After an awful start to the season, we can only hope that hit gets J-Roll rolling again.

Manager Charlie Manuel shuffled the line-up last night with Rollins in the lead-off spot.  But aside from the 1 hit, the change of scenery did not help much and Juan Pierre is doing very well in that spot.  Pierre will likely return to the top of the line-up today.  But do expect several more line-up shake-ups as Manuel tinkers to find something that works for this offense.

Also of note last night was Jim Thome leaving the game early with back soreness.  Batting only .111 in 18 at-bats so far, this is going to raise more questions about whether or not Thome can still be a productive player this late in his career.  Currently, Thome is listed as day-to-day.

Game 3 with the Cubs starts this afternoon at 1:35pm.  See you at the game!

 

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Ruiz Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Back to Bad

It looks like the run explosion from the Phillies offense in Arizona was really just a desert mirage after all.  Because against the Cubs tonight, they went right back to their losing ways.

The game started out promising with runners on first and third with no outs.  But that short, 5 minute elation was squashed quickly by two straight pop-ups from Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence plus a ground out from Shane Victorino.  Those three hitters, the core of the Phillies current line-up, combined to go 0-for-12 on the night.

And that first inning set the tone.  The only run the Phillies scored was a solo homer from Ty Wigginton.  If you had told me at the start of the season that Wigginton would be the Phillies best hitter, I would have said that this team was in really big trouble.  Wigginton was acquired to be a bench guy.  But because he is the only one hitting, he is now a starter, batting .327 with a 12-game hitting streak.

And that is where the good news ends.

Roy Halladay had a little trouble tonight, but he still only allowed 3 runs over 7 innings.  It was certainly enough for a win.

By the ninth inning, down 3-1, the Phillies defense added to the disaster as well.  Pence over ran a ball, allowing a Cubs run to score.  Then Rollins followed suit, missing a ground ball and another run scored.  Knowing this offense was already dead in the water, those plays sealed the deal and the Phils lost by a 5-1 score.

This is such a disheartening loss that I cannot imagine what to say at this point.  So, I will go with….Go Flyers!  Yeah, it is that bad.  I have resorted to hockey.  *Sigh*

Game 2 with the Cubs: 7:05pm Saturday.

 

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Happy Bunny by Jim Benton