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
After last nights’ total disaster in Atlanta, the Phillies brought their ace, Roy Halladay, to the mound looking for his 4th win of the year. Fans everywhere began praying for a complete game after the Phillies bullpen blew a 3-run lead in the 9th yesterday.
Up to around the 6th inning, Halladay was averaging only 11 pitches an inning, so the potential to go deep into the game was there. He made it to the 9th without allowing a run and started that inning having tossed 101 pitches already.
The first hit ball of the inning nearly went into a hole by first base, but Ryan Howard belly flopped, scooped it up and made a great toss to Halladay for the out. The second ball was shot straight to Howard as well; he gobbled that one up too for the 2nd out. Wilson Valdez collected the 3rd on a slow roller to third; he charged it and made the throw. It was a 2-0 complete game shut-out for Halladay; his record is now 4-0.
There was a lot more spectacular defense in this game from the Phillies as well. In the 2nd inning, Shane Victorino robbed Troy Glaus of a home run by leaping at the centerfield wall and snagging the ball just before it went over. Then in the 5th, Juan Castro snagged a ball that was going up the middle and looked like a base hit. But Castro moved fast, side-armed the throw to first and Ryan Howard did a full split (ouch!) to keep his foot on the bag and catch the ball, getting the out.
In the bottom of the 7th, Halladay got into a bases loaded, 1-out jam, walking his first batter in 25 straight innings. Yunel Escobar hit a grounder up the middle, which Chase Utley dove for and snagged it. Then, from the ground, while struggling to get the ball out of his glove, he flipped the ball to Castro who kicked 2nd base and gunned the ball to first to turn an amazing double play. Halladay pumped his fists in gratitude as he headed for the dugout.
The offense was not exactly jumping with Atlanta’s Tim Hudson on the mound, but they did squeak out a few runs. Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez both hit doubles in the game and collected one RBI a piece. Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley also doubled. Overall, the offense was patient again, saw a lot of pitches and drove Hudson out early after 6 innings.
There was one very concerning moment in the game when Placido Polanco, the Phillies best statistical hitter right now, got nailed in the elbow with a pitch in the 1st inning. It looked like he shook it off, but his next two at-bats were not good and he had issues extending that sore arm. Polanco was finally pulled out of the game in the 7th and Wilson Valdez took over at third.
Early reports indicate a minor left elbow contusion; how serious it really is not known right now. If it turns out to be serious, that will be one more major knock to a team that is already missing Jimmy Rollins plus a boatload of injured pitchers, including Joe Blanton, Brad Lidge, JC Romero and maybe JA Happ.
For now, the Phillies will focus on tomorrow night’s game and a series win against the Braves. Jamie Moyer will pitch; game time is 7:10pm.
Tonight’s outing was a do or die situation for Kyle Kendrick. His first two starts of the year were disasters and rumors began to circle about sending him back to the minors. Lucky for Kendrick, he put together a great start against the division rival Braves; not so lucky is that the bullpen had to get involved and blow the game.
Kendrick’s outing is the only good news from the evening. With JA Happ suffering from a flexor pronator muscle strain and missing his next start, the rotation has a few big question marks looming. Joe Blanton is rehabbing and should be back soon, but if Happ goes on the DL, this team will need Kendrick to pitch up to his potential.
He did just that tonight; Kendrick cruised through 8 innings, allowing only 4 hits and escaping a bases loaded jam in the 4th by inducing a ground ball double play. Those 8 innings matched his career high. Kendrick looks more confident and comfortable on the mound; this gives everyone reason to hope that the struggles are behind him.
And while the Phillies offense took the weekend off, scoring only 1 run in two games, they began to creep back to life tonight. The Braves ace, Tommy Hanson, lasted just 4 2/3 innings, allowing 6 hits and 2 runs. Chase Utley led the offense with 2 hits and 2 RBI and every starting position player had at least one hit except for Carlos Ruiz.
Most encouraging was watching the Phils hitters be patient at the plate, which allowed them to work Hanson and get him out of the game early. The 3 runs they scored through 7 innings were all pieced together with base hits and a few doubles, which is another sign that this normally power-hitting offense is really gelling together. But sadly, this is the end of the good news…
So while Kendrick should have had his first win of the year, leave it Ryan Madson to ruin his night. Madson came in for the 9th to save the game and blew it instead. With 2 outs, Madson walked a batter and then gave up a home run to make the score 3-2. The Braves rookie sensation, Jason Heyward, stepped to the plate and Madson tossed him a cookie, which he sent flying over the right field wall to tie the game at 3-3. Start praying that Brad Lidge comes back soon and is in good shape….ugh.
Jose Contreras was sent in for the 10th and proceeded to give up a walk-off home run to the first batter, handing the game over to the Braves. This was a disgusting loss for the Phillies. It gives credence to all the worries about the weak Phillies bullpen. There is no longer a question about whether we should be concerned about the bullpen. The only question left is what are the Phillies going to do about it?
The Phillies have 2 more games in Atlanta as part of this 9-game road trip. Roy Halladay will start tomorrow night and try to go 4-0 in April. Game time is 7:10pm. Let’s pray no bullpen is needed.
Photo by Jenn
On behalf of Cole Hamels, can I get a collective “Arrgghhhh!” please? Thank you. This poor guy pitched like a real ace today against the Marlins and has nothing to show for it. His first two outings this year stunk, but the offense scored 8 and 7 runs for him, respectively. Today, Hamels allowed just 2 runs over 8 innings, striking out 8 batters and did not issue any walks. And this game, he loses by a score of 0-2. Ugh.
There were a few moments in the game where it looked like Hamels may revert to his 2009 ways and lose his cool. The home run to Dan Uggla in the 2nd inning was one, but he just kept on pitching as if it did not happen. The second instance was huge; with no outs in the 3rd, the inning began with a double to centerfield from the Marlins pitcher. Allowing hits to the opposing pitcher, especially extra base hits, is usually the one thing you can count on to mess with a pitchers head. But instead, Hamels struck out the next 2 batters and got the 3rd on a ground ball. Bravo, Cole! This is the guy we had all been missing.
But even after the huge effort put forth by Hamels, the offense came up with a great big ZERO. The Phillies had opportunities, including 3 walks in the 2nd inning to Jayson Werth, Ben Francisco and Carlos Ruiz, but they still failed to score. Incidentally, those same 3 players accounted for 3 of the 4 Phillies hits tonight. The 4th was Placido Polanco. So while Charlie Manuel apparently took my hint yesterday about player Francisco in place of Raul Ibanez, Francisco’s walk and double were wasted by those who batted after him.
Here are a few photos from the game:
In that same 2nd inning, Werth could have scored on the fly out by Juan Castro but did not. He tagged up and started to run from third base, but for some reason he stopped and went back. With Werth’s speed, he had a chance to make it. Plus, there were 2 outs in the inning and the pitcher, Hamels, was due up next. It was worth the risk. And as luck would have it, the throw home sailed past the catcher, meaning Werth would have scored easily. Another wasted opportunity.
For their final chance in the 9th, three pinch hitters were sent in; Ross Gload, Ibanez and Greg Dobbs all went down without a fight, faster than fans could run to the parking lot. And there you have it; the Phillies first shut-out of the year and first lost series of the year. They are now only ½ game in front of the Marlins for first place.
The Phillies have the day off tomorrow to collect themselves, but more bad news may be on the horizon. JA Happ is suffering from a sore forearm and his scheduled Wednesday start is uncertain as a result. They are already missing Joe Blanton from the rotation; if Happ is forced to the DL as well, the Phillies may be in big trouble. Nelson Figueroa can probably fill in as a starter, but the pitching is starting to look awfully thin. Please think Happ-Y thoughts this week and perhaps we can all will him to health :O) It is worth a shot…
So, here is the full Photo Album from today’s game, which includes the always entertaining Phanatic Birthday celebration. Check out the stuffed Clam, Clammy Sosa, eating and then spitting out an umpire…classic.
Photos by Jenn
Before the game tonight, 3 Phillies players received their Gold Glove awards for 2009; Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco. Polly’s award was from his time at 2nd base with the Tigers. The transition to third this year with the Phillies has been no problem, especially where his bat is concerned. Polanco was hitting at an average of .444 coming into tonight’s game; he was also leading the entire league in hits with 20 and tied for 1st in runs with Chase Utley and the Dodgers Matt Kemp.
JA Happ was also honored tonight; as a rookie in 2009, he came in 2nd place for the Rookie of the Year voting. But he did receive the rookie award that is voted on by the players, The Players Choice Award for the 2009 National League Outstanding Rookie.
Fellow starting pitcher, Jamie Moyer, started tonight’s game against the Marlins and got off to a very bad start. He allowed 5 runs in the first inning, including a Ronny Paulino 3-run bomb. Paulino was down in the count 1-2 and nailed the cutter that Moyer threw, which was right in his happy hitting place, down and in.
To his credit, Moyer did settle into the game and went 5 more innings without allowing a run, but the damage had been done. The Phillies are having a lot of issues with their pitching right now as both Moyer and Kyle Kendrick have gotten beaten up in their first 2 starts of the year. Add to that the bullpen disasters of the last few games and things are getting scary.
On the hitting side, the Phils offense had been unstoppable until tonight. They had only 5 hits and scored just one run. Ryan Howard had a big opportunity to bail them out in the 6th inning with 2 outs and the bases loaded, but he grounded out to end the inning.
Raul Ibanez is a real issue too; he is hitting a pathetic .179 right now. Not only is he not hitting, he is causing damage by doing things like hitting into double plays at crucial moments to kill the offensive momentum. Raul had better try something soon; maybe make a sacrifice to the Gods by burning these obviously cursed bats? Frankly, I do not care how he finds his Mojo again, as long as he does find it. And until the curse if lifted, maybe Charlie Manuel should put in Ben Francisco for a while? Just a thought…
Jayson Werth helped the Phillies avoid the shut-out by hitting a homer in the 9th, his first of the year. But Ricky Nolasco did pitch a complete game for the Fish and did the job well. The Phillies lost by a score of 1-5.
The Phillies can still win the series if Cole Hamels keeps his head on straight tomorrow; oh, and finding the strike zone might be good too ;o) Game time is 1:35pm; if you are going, bundle up, it might be chilly. I’ll be the one on the first base side wearing 6 layers and shivering like it is January….I hate cold. So, if I do not turn into an ice cube, I should be back with photo.
Moyer photo by Jenn
The afternoon started out sunny, with the Phillies receiving their National League Championship rings before the game against the Nationals. While it was a tad anticlimactic when compared to last year’s World Series ring unveiling, it was still a nice celebration of a very good 2009 season. The ring is made of 14 carat white gold with rubies and diamonds, showing the NL trophy on one side and 2008, 2009 pennant flags on the other side. A baseball diamond on front has the Phillies script logo across it. Charlie Manuel’s ring is seen here to the right.
Today’s game was started by JA Happ who still seems to be struggling with his pitch location, although he only allowed 1 unearned run over 5 1/3 innings. But his pitch count was mounting as he had issues throwing strikes and fell behind a lot of batters. He should be going deeper into games; expect this to improve over his next few starts. In all, he got the job done by keeping runs off the board.
The Nationals pitching staff kept the red hot Phillies offense at bay for most of the game.
They did manage to score 3 runs in the 6th inning thanks to a Juan Castro 2-out, 2-run single. Castro had 3 hits on the day and is doing an admirable job filling in for the injured Jimmy Rollins. Greg Dobbs drew a bases loaded walk later that same inning. And earlier, Chase Utley hit a solo home run in the first inning; it was his 3rd homer in 2 games.
So with a decent 4-1 lead going into the 7th inning, the Phillies would have to rely on the bullpen. This was their first real test of the year with a small lead and sadly, they failed. Antonio Bastardo gave up 1 run in the 7th, but the real damage came in the 8th with Danys Baez on the mound.
Baez gave up a solo homer to Adam Dunn on one pitch to start the inning, which was not a good omen. He got one out, but then walked a batter and allowed a 2-run homer from pinch hitter Ryan Zimmerman. Those 3 runs put the Phils in a 4-5 hole. Ryan Madson tried to hold the Nats to just the one run lead in the 9th, but he too faltered, giving up 2 more runs.
Shane Victorino led off the bottom of the 9th with a solo homer, giving the Phils hope. Placido Polanco then got his 2nd hit of the game to give them a base runner. But Chase Utley struck out and then Ryan Howard flied out. Jayson Werth was their last chance and he flew out to center, sending the crowd home very unhappy with a 5-7 loss.
All of the recent wins and big numbers being put up by this Phillies offense have spoiled us a bit so this loss is tough to swallow. I am feeling a bit annoyed about it, frankly; this is the second time the Phillies have lost a game to the Nationals that they should have won. And this is also very bad news for the bullpen; if they cannot hold a lead against the lowly Nats, how will they perform against a real team? Ugh.
But tomorrow is a new day… (she said with a tinge of sarcasm ;o)… and Roy Halladay will make his Philly debut against the Florida Marlins. Game time is 7:05pm.
Castro photo by Jenn
The second game in the series against the Nationals tonight did not start out well. It was Kyle Kendrick’s second start this year; both starts have been against these Nats. In his first start, he got beat up pretty good. Tonight, the Nats completely destroyed him.
Kendrick gave up 3 runs right away in the 1st inning but in the bottom of that same inning, the Phillies bats bailed him out with 4 runs to take the lead. So what does Kendrick do in the 2nd inning? He gave up 3 more runs and handed the lead right back. Kendrick was pulled after only 1 2/3 innings and his ERA soared to a shocking 17.47.
The most disturbing part of Kendrick’s start to the season is that both outings were against the Nationals, probably the worst team in the league. So I have to ask, where is the Kendrick from February and March who gave up only 2 runs in all of spring training? You may have an easier time finding that pesky Waldo then finding the Kendrick of spring. Oh wait, I see him…he is being charcoaled on the grill…
But the Nationals could not keep this team down; the Phils took that 2nd inning lead right back from the Nats in their half of the inning, scoring 3 more runs to make it a 7-6 game. Nelson Figueroa did a great job filling in as the long man, allowing just 1 run in his 3 1/3 innings. The Phillies bats scored a bunch more runs for him too, lining Figueroa up to be the winning pitcher. Figueroa went 2 for 2 at the plate as well, with a single and a double. Chad Durbin pitched 2 scoreless innings after that and Antonio Bastardo took over in the 8th. David Herndon finished off the 9th; in all, the pen allowed just the one run.
A few of the offensive highlight tonight included 4 hits and 5 RBI from Shane Victorino, who had been struggling at the plate until tonight. His 7th inning bases clearing, 3-run triple was just what everyone had been waiting to see. Victorino is batting lead-off now that Jimmy Rollins is on the DL with a calf strain. J-Roll’s recovery time may be anywhere from 2-4 weeks.
While J-Roll will be sorely missed, the offense did not skip a beat without him tonight. Wilson Valdez was called up to fill the bench spot. Juan Castro should do a fine job filling in at shortstop in the meantime, even if his bat is not very impressive; he went 0-4 tonight at the plate.
But the rest of the team is hitting, so all is well. Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard had 2 hits each and Chase Utley hit 2 home runs in the game; one was a 3-run homer in the 2nd to give the lead back to the Phils and the other was a solo shot into the second deck of right field. Utley looked more like he was wielding a sledgehammer than a bat.
So the Phillies walk away with a 14-7 win and still have only had one game this year where they scored fewer than 5 runs in a game. Tomorrow at 3:05pm, JA Happ will start. Roy Halladay’s first home start has been moved up to Friday to keep him on his normal rest schedule after Tuesday’s day off. Jamie Moyer will pitch on Saturday.
Photos by Jenn