Tagged: JA Happ

Oswalt’s Debut Is Disappointing

Roy Oswalt’s debut tonight in a Phillies uniform was a bit of a buzz kill.  The last place Nationals smacked him around, scoring 5 runs in the first 5 innings. 
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By the end of 6, Oswalt had given up 7 hits, 2 walks and hit 2 batters which accounted for 4 earned runs and 1 unearned. 

On the other side, Nats pitcher Craig Stammen came into tonight’s game with a 5.50 ERA and only 2 wins in 19 starts.  When he was done with the Phillies, Stammen looked like a Cy Young winner.  The stuttering Phils offense managed only 5 hits; 2 of those were from Raul Ibanez and another two, including a solo homer, were from Jayson Werth.  Rookie Domonic Brown had the 5th hit for the team in only his 2nd start in the big leagues.

The defense was a bit shaky as well.  Carlos Ruiz did something I personally have never seen before.  In the 3rd inning with 2 men on base, Adam Kennedy squared to bunt and Greg Dobbs at third base charged to field the bunt, as he was supposed to.  Ruiz got the ball instead; he then had a brain cramp and threw the bunted ball to third base even though NO ONE was there to catch it.  Yes, Ruiz threw the ball to nobody.  And then a run scored.  Wow.

Things continued to go downhill after Oswalt left the game.  Chad Durbin pitched the 7th and gave up 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks.  Down 8 to 1, the Phillies offense continued to do nothing.  Brown got one more hit in the 9th inning, giving the Phillies 6 hits total from 3 players.  And that was all the offense.  Phillies lose, 8-1.

As for Oswalt, I suppose everyone is entitled to a bad day.  It was just one start.  We’ll see how it goes next time.  By the way, in case anyone is interested, JA Happ made his first start for the Astros tonight; he gave up some walks, but only 2 hits and NO runs in 6 innings.

Joe Blanton will pitch in DC tomorrow; game time is 7:05pm.

 

Photo by http://www.motifake.com/

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Home Stand Sweep


Broom.jpgWhile the big news of the day was the trade of Roy Oswalt to the Phillies, there was still a game to be played amidst all the hoopla.  And tonight, the Phillies were looking for a 7-game home stand sweep. 

Kyle Kendrick started against the D-Backs and did very well through 6 1/3 innings, allowing only one run.  Kendrick did walk one batter in each of the first 3 innings, but settled in after that.  With JA Happ gone in the trade today, the rotation spot belongs to Kendrick and he will need to keep up the solid pitching.

The Phillies offense, which has been on fire this entire home stand, finally sputtered a bit tonight.  Carlos Ruiz hit an RBI double in the 5th to score Cody Ransom.  The next inning, Raul Ibanez hit a solo homer to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.  But the offense ended there.  They did have 9 hits off Joe Saunders, but could not score.  Saunders had a very bad year with the Angels and was just traded to the D-Backs.  He looked ripe for the picking, but the Phillies let him off the hook.

Chad Durbin finished pitching the 7th and Ryan Madson had a very good 8th inning.  But manager Charlie Manuel left Madson in for the 9th.  One can only assume this is because his confidence in Brad Lidge with a slim 1-run lead is just not there.  And who could blame him.  But Madson has not pitched more than an inning since coming off the DL and he quickly got into trouble, giving up a lead-off double to start the 9th.

JC Romero took over and allowed a single; a ground out then scored the runner from third, which was charged to Madson. With the game then tied, the drama continued.  After an intentional walk and an unintentional walk, the bases were loaded for Romero.  Gerardo Para stepped to the plate and grounded into his second double play of the night.  Para was so upset, he slammed his helmet to the ground and was ejected by the first base umpire, Adrian Johnson.

The bad luck for Para seemed like good luck for the Phillies who entered the bottom of the 9th with a chance to win the game.  But Jayson Werth, Ransom and Ruiz went down in order and the game headed into extra innings.  In the 10th, Lidge was “Light’s Out” finally, sending the D-Backs down in order.  So if they had put him in for the 9th, this game may have been over already.  Go figure.  But you just don’t know what you are going to get out of Lidge these days.

The Phillies loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning with 2 outs.  Ryan Howard, who was 0 for 4 on the night to that point, had a chance to redeem himself.  But in the past few games, Howard has started to look very, very confused at the plate.  And that translated into a strike out in the 10th to end the inning.  During this home stand, Howard is hitting only .185 including the 0 for 5 tonight.

But more bottom of the order heroics were on the way.  Ransom, Ruiz and Wilson Valdez, the 6, 7 and 8-hole hitters accounted for 7 of the Phillies 12 hits tonight.  So it was only fitting that in the 11th, the same three guys would finally win the game for their team.  Ransom walked, Ruiz singled and Valdez knocked in the winning run with a liner to centerfield.  The final score was 3-2 which completed a 7-game home stand sweep.

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By the way, the Braves lost tonight so the Phillies picked up one more game in the standings.  They are now 2.5 games out of first place in the NL East.

Tomorrow there will more high drama surrounding the Phillies as Roy Oswalt takes the mound in pinstripes for the first time.  He will face the Nationals in DC; game time is 7:05pm.  That game marks the first in a 6-game, 7 day road trip; 3 with the Nats and 3 with the Marlins in Miami after the off day on Monday.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Roy Oswalt Deal Is Done

The deal is done.  The Phillies sent 2009 runner up for Rookie of the Year, pitcher JA Happ, minor league outfielder Anthony Gose, and short stop Jonathan Villar to Houston in exchange for Roy Oswalt and a yet-to-be-determined amount of cash.  It may be around $11 million.

As I said earlier, I think Happ was too high a price to pay for Oswalt.  Not to mention the depletion of the farm system that Ruben Amaro Jr. used as an excuse to send Cliff Lee packing.  If he was going to rob the farm, why did he not just keep Lee?  Frustrating.

How the trade pans out remains to be seen.  Of course, Oswalt is a great pitcher.  Just hope he stays healthy.  He will pitch tomorrow in DC against the Nationals.  Roy Halladay also made his debut for the Phillies against the Nats in DC.  Coincidence or fate?  If he pitches anything like Halladay, that would be great.

I still feel bad for Happ who I think got a raw deal here with all the Phillies have put him through the last several years.  And who pitches better in the 2nd half will be interesting to see.  Amaro’s legacy is now riding on the combined trades of Halladay, Oswalt and Lee, plus the severely weakened farm system.  Only time will tell how it all pans out.

Roy Oswalt Almost A Phillie; Not All Are Thrilled

Call me crazy, but I am not thrilled about the impending deal which would bring Roy Oswalt to the Phillies.  According to CSN Philly, Oswalt has approved the trade which sends JA Happ, OF Anthony Gose and another farm player to Houston.

Why am I not happy?  Take a look:

First the stats:  Last year, Oswalt was 8-6 with a 4.12 ERA. Happ was 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA. Happ has only pitched 3 games this year, so I do not think it is fair to compare those stats, although he has a 1.76 ERA in those 3 games.  So, as for 2009, even if you add in the dreaded “sophomore slump” for Happ, he still at least matches Oswalt.

Plus Happ is younger, cheaper, under team control, composed and, looking at the performance, has pitched as well, if not better, than Oswalt.  Also, CBS Sports reported that Oswalt wants to avoid a place with “a large and aggressive media contingent.”  What that says to me is, Oswalt prefers to avoid pressure.  This does not inspire confidence.

What also does not inspire confidence is that Oswalt is injury-prone and has a recurring back problem that many say will require surgery very soon.  Oswalt will be 33 years old in August.  His age, plus the injury history make me nervous.  Remember the Freddie Garcia $10 million dollar disaster?  Garcia arrived injured; the Phillies failed to give him an MRI and basically got damaged goods, losing $10 million dollars in the process.   Before his surgery, Garcia got ONE win for the Phillies.

Not only does this trade smell just like the Garcia deal, but it also seems to be the GM, Ruben Amaro Jr. trying to make a trade just for the sake of making a trade.  Amaro can’t say he did not make a move when the criticism rolls in and bad flashbacks to the Cliff Lee deal continue to surface.

Also, didn’t Amaro say the whole reason for the Lee deal was to replenish the farm system?  So, now he is going to deplete that very same farm system for a less capable pitcher than Lee?  Because you know it won’t just be Happ; talent from the farm system will be going too.  If he was going to trash the farm system for Oswalt, why didn’t he just keep Lee?

So call me crazy, but this deal smells very, very bad to me.  Nothing is final yet, so we will all be awaiting the decision and the details.  Oswalt has been a top of the line pitcher, no debate there.  But would you rather have a guy nearing the final years of his career who already has back issues, or a younger pitcher with big potential for many, many years to come?  There are no guarantees in life, but the odds favor youth.  Of course, that is just my opinion.  Feel free to disagree :O)

Four Wins In A Row For The Phillies

The Phillies beat the Rockies again today in a close, and at times dramatic, 4-3 game.  It was the Phillies annual Christmas in July promotion, but instead of snow, the Phils saw on-field temperatures over 100 degrees for 6 innings followed by an hour and 39 minute rain delay.  Although the ball girls did not let the weather ruin their day:

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In the stands, everyone was sweltering.  When the rain finally started in the 5th inning, many kicked back and enjoyed the refreshing rain.  Others heard thunder and ran screaming.  Needless to say, I am still wringing water out of my hair, but was happy to escape the oppressive heat.

It was also a very good ball game.  JA Happ came back to the bigs for the first time since mid-April when an injury sent him to the DL.  He looked sharp through 2 innings, but then he started to lose the strike zone and began relying too much on the fast ball.  The Rockies started to figure him out, but he did go 5 innings with 3 runs scored; for his first start back, this is not too bad.  Once he knocks the rust off, Happ should be just fine.

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The defense played well behind Happ and the bullpen, which was a big help.  Ryan Howard absolutely sold out on two different plays where he dove and slid into the ground.  He missed the foul ball, but it was not for lack of effort.  When he got up, he was covered in mud.  Shane Victorino also made a great running catch in center to get Happ out of the 3rd inning.

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Ben Francisco got a start in left field today and took full advantage; he smacked a 2-run homer in the 2nd inning and went 2 for 3 with a walk on the day.  Both Jayson Werth and Jimmy Rollins also had 2 hits.  In the 5th inning though, the Phils had runners on first and third and failed to score.  Victorino popped up; Placido Polanco hit a liner but it was right to the 3rd baseman.  Then Howard flied out.

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So this was not an easy game, but thanks in part to a double by Wilson Valdez and then a single from Rollins and a wild pitch, the Phils took the lead in the 7th after the delay.  Brad Lidge got the save, but it was not without incident.  Lidge loaded the bases with 2 outs, making everyone nervous, and finally struck out Ian Stewart to get out of it.  Whew!

By the way, the graphics used on the big screen for Christmas in July were priceless.  You do have to feel sorry for Francisco and Cody Ransom though; take a look:

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If the Phillies can pull out a win tomorrow (1:05pm), they will have 5 wins in a row and a sweep of the Rockies.  I am going to the game again and hope to get some more photos.  I am sitting a bit higher than usual tomorrow, but it is in one of the company suites, so I will not complain ;o)

Also, be sure to check out the podcast I did today as a guest of Rich Baxter and his Fightin’ Phillies podcast.  We chatted with another blogger about the Trade Deadline and our predictions of things to come.  Thanks to Rich for the invitation!

And of course, here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phillies Big Bang Theory

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. 
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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.


110A.jpgThere 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

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Firing Of Hitting Coach Lights a Fire Under The Offense

The Phillies returned home today after a very bad road trip hoping to turn things around against the Rockies.  For starters, they fired their hitting coach, Milt Thompson and replaced him with Greg Gross.  Thompson is the fall guy for this severely underachieving offense.  But would this slap to the face be the wake-up call the Phillies are certainly in need of?

At first, it looked like the same old routine of hitting into double plays and leaving the bases loaded.  But in the 5th inning, the offense woke up and figured out how to score some runs.  Three straight hits, including an RBI double from Raul Ibanez, got things started. 
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Ryan Howard even stole a base, as his teammates giggled in the dugout after seeing the big man scamper to second.  Jayson Werth hit a sac fly and then Ross Gload, getting a rare start in the outfield, smacked a 2-run homer for his second hit of the night.

The only starter who did not contribute tonight was Wilson Valdez who went 0 for 4.  Everyone else, even the pitcher, got a hit.  Ibanez finally looks like RAUUUUUULLL again!  He had 3 hits and 3 RBI tonight.  Ibanez likes hitting 3rd, as I mentioned yesterday.  Jimmy Rollins, back in the lead-off spot as I also suggested yesterday, seems to have found his groove as well.  J-Roll collected 2 hits and a walk.

On the mound, Roy Halladay returned to his usual dominating form after allowing 6 runs (5 earned) in his last outing.  Tonight, he pitched extremely well, allowing only 5 hits and no runs over 8 innings.  Oddly enough, the hitting was a bigger story today than 8 shut-out innings from Halladay.  Because we expect Halladay to be good; but the offense has been so bad, seeing the Phillies score 6 runs was more exciting. 

JC Romero pitched an easy 9th inning and looked very sharp.   He hit the leadoff batter, but was lights-out after that.  The Phillies won by a score of 6-0 and Halladay finally experienced some run support.  Hopefully, this win will be a much needed boost for the team.

The starting pitching for the rest of the weekend has finally been announced.  Kyle Kendrick will be brought up to pitch Saturday as Jamie Moyer is placed on the DL.  And on Sunday, JA Happ will get his first start since 4/15/10 when an injury sent him to the DL.

As for Moyer, the news is not good.  An MRI showed that he has both a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor pronator muscle; those injuries are to the left forearm and elbow.  The two injuries may require surgery and this may also signal the end of Moyer’s career.  He is going for another exam early next week and should know for sure after that.  Either way, the injuries are more serious than what Happ had this year and Happ missed more than 3 months.

Moyer is in the last year of his contract with the Phillies and it is unlikely that a team would sign a 48-year old pitcher fresh off multiple injuries and possibly surgery.  So Moyer may have pitched his last inning.  Then again, if anyone can bounce back after such damage, it would be Moyer.  I wish him luck :O)

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*