Today’s Phillies – Marlins match-up was surrouned by all sorts of rookie news. The highly anticipated debut of the National’s Stephen Strasburg took place just up the road in DC. The right-handed pitcher signed a record $15.1 million contract last August and has been the most hyped prospect in decades. He lived up to the hype, pitching 7 innings, allowing 2 runs and striking out 14 batters, a club record. Very impressive, although he did pitch against the Pirates. The Nats will know more when he faces a tougher team, but even so, this kid looks like the real deal.
And for the Marlins, their big prospect, Mike Stanton, made his debut against the Phils. Stanton had a 3-hit night and scored twice. Needless to say, another sparkling debut for a team in the NL East.
Kyle Kendrick started for the Phils; watching him pitch this year in place of the still injured JA Happ has been an exercise in patience. Sometimes he looks good, like last week in Atlanta, and sometimes he is terrible. Today’s outing against the Marlins fell under the “terrible” category. Kendrick pitched only 5 innings and allowed 5 runs, plus he committed a throwing error which led to more runs for the Fish. Ryan Howard also committed an error in the game which put a runner on first. The next batter homered to drive that run in.
But bad pitching and sloppy defense was paired tonight with some actual hitting. Why the Phillies cannot seem to do all three of these things well all at the same time remains a mystery. Amidst Kendrick’s awful effort and 2 more runs allowed by the Phillies bullpen, the offense woke up and started to hit.
Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino both homered, Chase Utley got 2 hits in consecutive at-bats and Raul Ibanez had 4 hits and 2 RBI on the night. 4 hits? Where has this guy been all year? It’s about time…
Jayson Werth was benched to give him a chance to recover from an awful 10 at-bat hitless streak. Ben Francisco filled in and did not do much better early on. After many sloppy adventures in the outfield and grounding into 2 double plays, one of which cost them a run, Francisco made up for it all with a 2 RBI single in the 9th to give the Phillies a 9-8 lead. Wilson Valdez followed up with a single tricked up the 3rd base line to score another run.
Brad Lidge had another chance at a save with the 10-8 lead. With two outs, Lidge found himself in hot water as the loaded the bases after a close call at second base did not go the Phillies way. But no worries, he popped up the next batter and notched save #3 on the year.
By the way, this is the 3rd time this year that Kendrick has started a game and Jose Contreras got the win. Even after giving up the go-ahead run, Contreras still came out on top; Kyle must be wondering why Jose keeps stealing his thunder.
Tomorrow will be a rematch of the Roy Halladay perfect game on May 29th in Miami. Same team, same two pitchers; Halladay faces Josh Johnson again. Hopefully, same result ;o) Game time is 7:05pm.
By the way, is it just me, or does Cody Ross of the Marlins look a bit like Chucky? Creepy…
Francisco head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies held their annual ALS Charity Phestival today which was attended by a huge sold-out crowd.
All of the players, coaches and broadcasters were there to sign autographs, mingle with fans and a few took photos with fans as well. The Cole Hamels and Roy Halladay photo booths were very popular. Halladay was especially friendly, signing extra autographs for fans even though the photo came with his signature.
The staff did a great job handling the large crowd and things ran smoothly. It took less than 1/2 an hour for me to get through the Chase Utley line, which was a small miracle. Here is Utley plus Raul Ibanez, Chad Durbin, Jose Contreras, Ross Gload, and the 2009 NL Champs and 2008 World Series Trophy’s:
The players were in good spirits and with a little help, I walked out with 21 autographs, plus some nice goodies in the grab bags I bought. In the bags, I wound up with an Ibanez signed hat, a Brad Lidge signed ball, some bobbleheads and a ball signed by the entire broadcasting team. Not too shabby.
I also met some very interesting people, like Bryan, who is a Cole Hamels look-alike. He did eventually get a photo with Cole and hopefully, he will be emailing me a copy so I can share it with everyone. This photo here does not do justice to the resemblence, which is amazing. Every person who walked by him said, “Is that Cole Hamels?” Bryan may be changing his name to “Cole” soon ;0)
Another thing I thought was very nice was seeing ALL of the players there to support the charity, even those on the DL. Players not on the active roster can technically bail out on the event, as some have in years past. But Jimmy Rollins, Brad Lidge, JA Happ and Ryan Madson were all there. Kudos to these guys for their dedication!
By the way, back-up catcher Brian Schneider was also there as he has been taken off the DL and Paul Hoover was designated for assignment.
Here is the full Photo Album from the day. By the way, congratulations to the Philadelphia Flyers! They are on their way to the Stanley Cup finals! Go Philly!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Could the Cole Hamels of 2008 really be back? In his start tonight against the Cardinals, it certainly looked like it. Hamels pitched 8 innings of shut-out ball, even getting out of a bases-loaded jam against the amazing Albert Pujols.
Well, at least for today, Hamels has earned his wings back. The real test will be his next start and whether or not he can show consistency and repeat an outstanding performance.
Hamels had to be outstanding as the Cards pitcher was equally as impressive. The Phillies managed to squeeze out one run against Adam Wainwright. After a Raul Ibanez triple, Carlos Ruiz hit a long sac fly to score the only run of the game. And Jayson Werth was able to extend his streak of reaching base safely in every game this year, which has not been done by a Phillie since 1920.
However, the 9th inning took an interesting turn. Hamels was primed and ready to close out this ballgame himself when a fan did the unthinkable in such an important and tense situation. Another idiot ran onto the field for the second day in a row to delay the start of the inning and it threw Hamels right off his game. Hamels had to throw warm-up pitches while he waited for the moron to be dealt with. By the time he got started with the real pitches, Hamels allowed two doubles in a row to tie up the game 1-1.
I hope the Philly police tasered this guy too. And maybe later, the real fans can all get together and plan a proper tar and feathering for this bonehead. This behavior is just shameful and gives the good fans a bad rap.
So Hamels was pulled without recording an out in the 9th and the Phillies would have to rely on Brad Lidge to maintain the 1-1 tie. Lidge actually got the job done, putting to rest questions about how he would perform after a long stint on the DL. On to the bottom of the 9th…
Ryan Howard walked, which is awesome. But Werth struck out on a very bad pitch…not awesome. Ibanez flew out to center and then Juan Castro stepped to the plate. Castro was not good tonight at the plate; he was 0-3 at this point, having grounded into a double play and leaving 4 men on base. Well, make it 0 for 4 as he grounded out to send the game into extra innings.
But just when things were looking dreary, thank goodness for CHOOOOCH!!! Carlos Ruiz popped a wall-off homer to center to win it in the 10th! Whooo Hooo!!!! Shane Victorino and Greg Dobbs put the exclamation mark on the evening with double shaving cream pies to the face of Ruiz. :O)
Game 3 with the Cardinals starts tomorrow night at 7:05pm. Kyle Kendrick will be pitching for his Major League life. If he has another horrible outing, the Phillies may be forced to look for another solution. Cross your fingers!
Here is a quick injury update: Ryan Madson and his self-inflicted broken toe will be out for a minimum of 2 months. The break was so bad, the doctor had to operate and insert pins to stabilize the fracture. For a bullpen that is already in bad shape, this is not good. Starter JA Happ is also not expected back very soon; it will be the end of May at the earliest. Same goes for Jimmy Rollins. May should be another interesting month.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Yesterday we pondered the question, will April Showers produce May Flowers for the Phillies? Well, with Roy Halladay on the mound they will. Now all they need to do is tip-toe through the tulips and meander their way back to first place.
Because as of last night, if you peered at the NL East standings, you may have thought you were looking through a mirror. Those 5 teams are experiencing a bit of a role reversal from what most people predicted. Here was the order from first place to last: Mets, Nationals, Phillies, Marlins, Braves. The Mets and Nats should be in the last 2 spots, right? The Phillies seriously need to return order to the division.
The Phillies took one small step in that direction today with a complete game shut-out from Halladay in their 10-0 win over the Mets to even the series at a game apiece. They are currently tied for 2nd with the Nats. As usual, Halladay was unbelievable; he allowed only 3 hits, a walk and hit one batter, throwing 118 pitches. This man is a pitching machine. The rest of the Phillies pitching staff had better be taking notes.
Behind the amazing performance of Halladay, the Phillies bats finally woke up. The only player who did not have a hit in the game was Placido Polanco. Even Halladay knocked a single. Chase Utley went 3 for 5 with 2 doubles and Shane Victorino hit a 3-run homer in the 4th. Victorino was criticized last night after not hustling on a dropped third strike; he made up for the lack of effort today.
Mets pitcher Mike Pelfry came into this game with a record of 4-0 and a miniscule 0.69 ERA. He left with his first loss of the year and a very human 2.40 ERA. The Phils offense exploited the Mets bullpen as well, scoring 3 more runs off reliever Raul Valdez. This energy will need to carry over into tomorrow night if the Phillies are going to win the series.
As for the huge pile of Phillies injuries, JA Happ, suffering from his second forearm strain in three years, had what the Phils are calling a “minor setback” in his rehab. Translate that anyway you like, but it is still not good news.
The bad news is magnified of course by the performance of Kyle Kendrick so far this year. With a 7.61 ERA and no wins to his credit on the year, Kendrick is pitching like a minor leaguer and frankly, that is where he needs to go. Once Joe Blanton returns, which could be as soon as Monday, Kendrick may get the boot. Nelson Figueroa has the experience to fill in until Happ returns and Kendrick has done nothing to warrant keeping him in the rotation.
But first things first; tomorrow Jamie Moyer will take the mound opposite the Mets ace, Johan Santana. On paper, this looks like a slaughter for the Phillies. Moyer has allowed at least 4 runs in 3 out of his last 4 starts. But Santana is not untouchable either and the Phillies have hit him in the past. This should be an interesting one. Game time is 8:05pm for the national ESPN broadcast. I will be there and should be posting photos sometime Monday afternoon. Go Phillies!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
It’s official; Roy Halladay can be hit. The Giants became the first team of 2010 to get to Halladay last night when they won the first of a three-game series with the Phillies by a score of 1-5. We already knew that Halladay is human, so perfection cannot be expected from him every time out.
With JA Happ and Joe Blanton on the DL, things have only been getting worse. But there is no reason for Halladay to hang his head; we all have a bad day sometimes and he has been the only consistent member of the pitching staff so far this year.
The players who should be hanging their heads are those in this suddenly sleepy offense. The only bat that showed up last night was Shane Victorino, who had 3 hits. The only other player to get a hit was Placido Polanco. But the offense did have plenty of opportunities, especially after collecting 7 walks plus Chase Utley was hit by a pitch. That was 8 free base runners. In total, they left 11 men on base.
Ben Francisco, who judging by his name should have felt quite comfortable in San Francisco, did the most damage; he left the bases loaded twice. Of course, starter Jayson Werth did him no favors either by striking out in front of Francisco twice. All these base runners and only 1 run scored? Home plate was a very lonely place last night.
There are very few positives to take out of a game like this. All we can do is hope that they recover and pound the crap out of Giants pitcher Todd Wellemeyer tonight. Wellemeyer is 0-3 on the year with an 8.16 ERA. Frankly, if they do not jump all over this guy, the Phillies should be ashamed.
So, if you can stay awake for this one, game time is 10:10pm again. Jamie Moyer will start for the Phillies. Cross your fingers…
Photos 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
Last night’s Hamels Arizona adventure included a 4th inning where he gave up 4 home runs for 5 runs scored total. The following inning, he gave up another homer, making it 5 homers on the night. Prior to that, he looked like the Hamels of old, striking out batters and confusing them with his change-up. Then all of a sudden, Hamels got the ball up in the zone and threw nearly everything right over the plate. He looked like he was pitching batting practice to a thankful D-Backs team.
Hamels even had a hand in scoring before the mysterious 4th inning disaster happened; he belted a double in the 3rd inning and Shane Victorino drove him home with a triple. A very strange play led to the Phillies 2nd run of the night; Jayson Werth hit a long fly ball in the 4th which center fielder Chris Young caught, for just a moment. Young let the ball dribble out the bottom of his glove before he made the exchange to his throwing hand and it was ruled a ball in play. Werth saw the ball drop and kept running until he crossed home plate.
The D-Backs manager A.J. Hinch, who played for the Phillies in 2004, argued that it was a catch but the ump ruled it was not a catch as the fielder did not have control and did not make the exchange to his other hand before dropping it. It was scored as a 4-base error. There’s one you won’t see every day.
So things were looking up for the Phillies until the bottom of that same inning when the bottom fell out for Hamels and batting practice took over. JC Romero made his season debut after coming off the DL but he looked very rusty. Romero fell behind both batters he faced, giving up a solo homer and walking the next batter.
Jose Contreras took over the 7th inning and escaped without further drama. Rookie David Herndon pitched the 8th and did a good job as well. The Phillies entered the 9th inning losing 3-7. Victorino managed a 2-out single and RBI, but the Phillies rally ended there and they lost 4-7 to a last place team.
The only proper response to a pounding by a last place team is to win the next two games. And the Phillies had better do just that if they are going to avoid total humiliation. Nelson Figueroa will pitch tonight in place of the injured JA Happ. I do not envy Figueroa; this poor guy has the weight of the world on his shoulders right now. Best of luck to him…game time is 8:10pm.
Head shot by Jenn; cartoon by grinningplanet.com