Here is a summary of the Phillies 2010 first half, according to Jenn:
Best Off-Season Move – Acquiring Roy Halladay
Worst Off-Season Move – Trading Cliff Lee (duh!)
Biggest Win – 7/9/10: The Phillies overcame a 7-1 deficit in the 9th inning against the Reds to win the game in the 10th; it was the second walk-off homer win in a row, giving the Phillies a huge confidence boost.
Biggest Loss – When the bullpen blew a 5 run lead; Phillies lose to the Twins by a score of 10-13 on 6/19/10
Best Series Win – The 4-game sweep of the NL Central 1st place team, the Reds, 7/8-7/11
Worst Series Loss – Losing 3 out of 4 to the worst team in the National League, the Pirates, 7/1-7/4
Biggest Surprise – Jamie Moyer: At 47-year old, the combination of Moyer’s age and 3 off-season surgeries left many doubting he could be an effective pitcher. But Moyer has performed beyond anyone’s expectations. But at the half, Moyer has 9 wins and 2 complete games, one of which was a shut-out.
Biggest Disappointment – Raul Ibanez: Batting only .243 with 7 homers at the half, Ibanez is on pace to hit only 14 homers, which would be his worst power outage since 2001. He has also only driven in 39 runs, and is therefore on pace for 78 RBI, which would be his worst since 2004. Ibanez gave his all in the first half of 2009, but since then, it has been mostly downhill and his age is starting to show. With another entire year left on his contract, this is looking like another bad move by the Phillies.
Biggest Question Mark – Brad Lidge: Sometimes Lidge looks like Mr. Perfect from 2008 and sometimes he looks like a little leaguer. The Jekyll and Hyde routine is getting old. Lidge needs to step up his game if the Phillies are to have success.
Best Moment of the First Half – Roy Halladay’s Perfect Game, 5/29/10 (again, duh!)
Worst Moment of the First Half – Chase Utley’s thumb injury. Noooooo! Not Utley!! Then there are the rest of the major injuries that have plagued this team: Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, JA Happ, Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, etc… The combined impact of these star players going down have combined for the Worst Moments of the year so far.
Jenn’s Crystal Ball
– Will Jayson Werth be with the Phillies next year? – No. Sorry, ladies. He may even be gone sooner than that…
– Will the Phillies make a trade before the deadline? – Yes.
– Which position will they upgrade? – Pitching
– Will Jenn continue to let her sanity slip slowly away as each day without Chase Utley passes? – Sadly, yes. Please come back soon, Chase!
– And finally, will the Phillies win the NL East again? – My crystal ball broke due to being overworked when I asked this question. But I will step out on a limb here and say, yes. I mean, YES! Let’s be positive people ;o)
Jamie Moyer will take the mound tonight in Chicago against the Cubs to kick off the 2rd half. Game time is 8:05pm. Go Phillies!
Catcher Brian Schneider grew up a Phillies fan. He realized his dream of playing for his home town team this year and today, he became the savior of his team in a tough, extra innings game. More on that in a minute…
Before tonight’s game against the Reds, the big news revolved around Shane Victorino. Apparently, he had a few strong words for the fans of Philadelphia. He said, “I’m hearing fans yelling, ‘Victorino, you’re horrible; you stink,'” during last night’s loss to the Braves. Victorino went on to say, among other things, “It’s frustrating when you hear those things from your own fans.”
A few things to note here: the games are still selling out. And for the small 4 or 5% of fans that are yelling insults, the rest are still cheering the team on. Victorino is right to be frustrated, but that should be directed at the way the team has been playing, not at the fans. But don’t worry Shane; we are still behind you.
Victorino took his frustrations out on the ball in the 1st inning when he hit a home run to silence the doubters. He also hit an RBI-single in the 3rd inning which turned out to be a very strange play. Victorino collided with Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto at first and his glove flew off; Cueto dropped the ball, which rolled to Joey Votto who tossed it back to the bare-handed Cueto. He dropped the ball again and Jimmy Rollins scored. The game was then delayed as Cueto appeared to have the wind knocked out of him. He was fine though and the game went on.
For the Phillies, Kyle Kendrick pitched very well, allowing only 1 run on 3 hits in 6 2/3 innings. Having left Jamie Moyer in too long last night, manager Charlie Manuel was not going to make the same mistake again. He pulled Kendrick and had JC Romero get the final out of the 7th inning.
But more drama was yet to come. Fresh off the disabled list, Ryan Madson saw his first game action since April in the 8th inning. He allowed two singles and then with two outs in the inning, he surrendered the one run lead on another very odd play. Brandon Phillips struck out on a wild pitch which sailed past catcher Brian Schneider. Phillips ran to first as both Schneider and Madson went after the ball, not realizing until it was too late that Drew Stubbs was running home and no one was covering. Stubbs scored and tied the game 2-2.
In the bottom half of the inning, Wilson Valdez led off with a triple. Rollins hit a sac fly to score him and give the Phils a 3-2 lead going into the 9th inning. But that meant that it was Brad Lidge time.
A one run lead and Lidge in the 9th has not been a sure thing for a very long time. And right away, Lidge gave up a hit and a walk. It looked like he may get out of it when the next batter hit into a double play. But Miguel Cairo, who was with the Phils last year, hit an RBI-double on the 2nd pitch he saw to tie the game again. And just like that, Lidge earned yet another blown save.
The Phillies could not score in the 9th so off to extra innings they went. In the 12 inning, the drama continued as Jayson Werth had a small confrontation with a very dumb fan. With two outs, a foul ball went just above the wall in right field and Werth was right there to catch it. Unfortunately, the dumb fan snagged the ball right before it went into Werth’s glove. Werth had a few choice words for the guy. But all was well as pitcher Nelson Figueroa got the batter to ground out.
Figueroa pitched two amazing innings and was on deck to bat and go for three when Brian Schneider finally ended the game. Schneider crushed a ball which sailed over the right field wall to give the Phillies a 12 inning, walk-off 4-3 win over the Reds. Way to go, Brian! You rock!
The Phillies family lost another beloved member today. Maje McDonnell, who would have been 90 years old later this month, passed away today. McDonnell spent his entire life with the Phillies. He grew up in Philly and served with the Phillies as a batting practice pitcher, coach, scout, instructor and a Veterans Stadium tour guide in his 57 years with the team. He had just retired last year.
McDonnell was also a war hero, having served in World War II, earning a combat badge, five battle stars and a Bronze Star. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Maje. He will be missed.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Tonight’s final game against the Braves was very important for the Phillies. A loss would bury them 6 games behind the Braves with only 4 games until the All-Star break and no chance to play the Braves again until September. In this situation, you would expect the game to be managed as if it was extremely important; a must-win. That did not happen.
While everyone respects what Jamie Moyer has been able to accomplish this year and over his entire career, this should not give him extra leeway in such an important game. The man is 47 years old and tonight, he had to pitch in 100 degree heat; kudos to Moyer for being able to do this. But the manager has to recognize when a pitcher is simply done for the day.
In the 6th inning, Moyer got an out and then proceeded to have all kinds of trouble. He gave up a home run and a single right away and was visibly exhausted. But does Charlie Manuel even get the bullpen up at this point? No. Moyer continued on, allowing a double, a walk and finally a 3-run double. Four runs had scored and still, Moyer is allowed to keep pitching as sweat poured down his face. Clearly, he could no longer locate his pitches.
The very next batter whacked a 2-run homer and just like that, the Braves were handed a 6-run inning. Danys Baez was finally called in to end the inning. So what should have been a nice, productive outing for Moyer was turned into a demoralizing slaughter because Manuel did not pull him when it was logical to do so.
Manuel is obviously lacking in confidence where the bullpen is concerned as evidenced by his bad habit of leaving starting pitchers in too long. And this lack of confidence is not without cause, however, the lack of work for the bullpen is adding to the rust among that group of pitchers, which also does not help. And tonight, this uncertainty cost Moyer and the entire team.
The offense showed some signs of life with Jimmy Rollins collecting a few hits, Ryan Howard homered for the first time in 10 games and Shane Victorino hit a home run as well. Wilson Valdez had a hit, but also grounded into his 14th double play of the year. This seems to be a daily event for Valdez. But that awful 6th inning put the Phillies into a hole that they could not climb out of. They scored a few more runs, but eventually went down by a score of 5-7.
And now the red-hot Reds come into town for a 4-game series to finish up the first half of the year. Already back 6 games in the division, this Reds series has the potential to bury the Phillies. Kyle Kendrick will pitch tomorrow night at 7:05pm. Cross your fingers, Phillies fans.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
It is simple math, right? Well tonight’s Phillies – Braves match-up boiled down to that very simple math.
Pitcher’s Cole Hamels and Jair Jurrjens battled fairly evenly, each allowing just 3 runs. Hamels went 7 innings and Jurrjens was pulled after 6 plus. Hamels did a nice job, but would the offense come through for him?
The Phillies managed only 2 hits of Jurrjens, one of which was a 2-run homer from Raul Ibanez in the 1st inning. The other hit came in the 7th when Ryan Howard tied the game up 3-3 with a triple to score Ibanez, who had drawn a walk. But with no outs and Howard on third, they failed to score again.
Jayson Werth stood at the plate and watched strike three go by. All he had to do was make contact and he just stood there like a deer in headlights. Then Ben Francisco hit what could have been a sac fly, but either Howard, the third base coach or both decided not to tag up as it was a shallow hit ball.
Here is my issue with this: they had to know Wilson Valdez was coming up with 2 outs. Did they expect him to be the hero and get a 2-out hit? I know I certainly did not. While Howard is no speed demon, he has one advantage: size. He should have tagged and if the ball beat him, why not go old-school and knock the catcher over? I would have taken that risk over expecting a 2-out hit from Valdez.
That decision looked like it might come back to haunt them when the bullpen took over in the 8th. Jose Contreras quickly got into trouble with men on first and third and no outs. But Chipper Jones got jammed in between third and home and Dane Sardinha made a great toss to trap and tag him out. Eventually, with help from JC Romero, they escaped the inning unscathed.
With no scoring in the 8th for the Phils, Brad Lidge came into a tie game in the 9th. It was his first game since last week when he blew a save against the Reds. Lidge sent the Braves down in order, but with no scoring from the Phils in the bottom of the 9th, this would be a battle of the bullpens.
Sadly, in a battle of the bullpens, the Phillies were likely to come out on the losing end. David Herndon did a great job in the 10th, but finally surrendered the lead in the 11th after a single and a double. With the offense totally stalled, the 3-4 deficit looked insurmountable. In fact, for many months now, the lack of hitting has made these very small deficits look like impossible obstacles to overcome.
But Mike Zagurski came into the game and made things even worse. He looked great striking out the first two hitters, but made one very big, very costly mistake. Eric Hinske took that mistake and tossed it over the right field wall for a 2-run homer. The Phillies entered the bottom of the 11th down 3-6.
Watching these self-destructive games are very sad, especially in light of the talent this team possesses. They just cannot seem to conjure it up at the most crucial moments. The main players, like Jimmy Rollins and Werth, went hitless as they have many, many times this week. The bottom of the lineup did absolutely nothing. You cannot expect to win games with only three hits.
Add to that the fact that the bullpen cannot hold a tie game down. It is all a recipe for disaster. And so it was; a 3-6 disastrous loss. Jamie Moyer will try to win one tomorrow, but without any offense, how will he fare? Not well is my guess.
Pitcher JA Happ came off the DL today but instead of going to the majors, he was optioned back to AAA. The Phillies are not happy with how he has pitched in his rehab, but they are hoping he will bounce back after some time in the minors.
As for catcher Carlos Ruiz, he will begin a rehab assignment this week, which is good news. The concussion has healed to the point where he can start playing again. Get well soon, Carlos!
By the way, we have now entered Day 8 of my Chase Utley withdrawal. I am not doing too bad so far. I have no fingernails left and I am stuttering a little, but all in all, it has been a mostly sanity-intact week. Of course, we have about 7 weeks left to go so do say a short prayer for me. Thanks…you guys rock.
Zagurski photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Not many would have guessed at the beginning of the season that a 4-game series against the worst team in the National League and 2nd worst in all of baseball would be such a huge turning point for the Phillies. But this series with the Pirates has become just that. With 7 players and major contributors on the DL, a banged-up back-up catcher and 2 losses to the Bucos already behind them, the Phillies next two games could make or break their season.
The Phillies are five games behind the Braves after last night’s 0-2 shut-out loss to the Pirates. They do have a series with the Braves next, but if they lose 3 or even 4 games in this Pirates series, they will not have much left to bring to the Braves series. Getting whipped by a last place team will mean that they have allowed the injuries to win.
Plus, last night this team looked like it was sleep-walking. Like the energy and confidence has been sucked right out of them. The only player who still looked determined was Jamie Moyer, who pitched six solid innings and allowed only one earned run. Moyer has been rock solid in his last several starts. The rest of the team looks like runny oatmeal.
Oddly enough, the only position player showing some life is back-up Wilson Valdez. Even Jimmy Rollins said after the game about Valdez, “My man right here, he’s got some swag.” Last night was the 3rd multi-hit game for Valdez in his last 4 games. He has also hit 2 home runs in those games. While it is great to see a bench guy step-up like this, where is the rest of the team?
Charlie Manuel said yesterday that he moved Raul Ibanez to the 2-spot in the lineup because “he is a high on-base percentage guy.” Really? Because every starter on the team has a higher OBP than Ibanez who is in 11th place at .322. Not to mention, Ibanez had only 5 hits in 96 at-bats in the month of June. What part of this screams 2-hole hitter?
It is moves like this that make people wonder. It appears that Manuel is grasping at straws trying to get his team back into action. What the Phillies really need is a bucket of ice down the pants to wake them up.
The team did get a small bit of good news. Back-up catcher Brian Schneider has a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his thumb; yes, the exact same injury Chase Utley was said to have. Except, Utley wound up with a torn ligament where Schneider says he just needs a few days to rest and can play in an emergency. Schneider is one of the tough guys; you have to love that.
So it boils down to these next few games. Will the Phillies fold under the pressure or come out swinging? They have overcome a lot in years past so there is no reason to think they cannot do it. But this time, if they cannot get back on track fast, it may be too big a hill to climb later. Game time tonight is 7:05pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In the final game of the series against the Blue Jays who served as the home team in Philly this weekend, the Phillies walked away with an 11-2 win. The 47-year old pitcher, Jamie Moyer, walked away with his 9th win of year and a few more entries in the baseball record books.
Moyer gave up a 2-run homer in the 2nd inning which propelled him past former Phillie Robin Roberts for the most home runs allowed by any pitcher. The 506 record breaking home runs were allowed to a total of 322 different batters in 42 different ballparks. There has been some debate over whether or not Moyer should be proud of such a record. But this type of record simply means that he has been pitching for a very, very long time. Not too many other players have been around this long.
Adding to that thought, Moyer broke another record today. He became only the 40th player in history to have pitched 4,000 innings. This is another testament to the longevity of Moyer’s career. And to still be pitching, and being successful, at his age is just amazing. He went 7 innings against the Jays on Sunday and that 2-run homer mentioned earlier was the only scoring he allowed.
Jimmy Rollins helped jump start the offense with a single in the first at-bat of the game. Rollins ended with 3 hits, each hit to a different part of the ballpark; one down each baseline and one up the middle. Rollins plus Ben Francisco and Dane Sardinha each had 2 RBI a piece. Francsico looked good in left and was 3 for 5 at the plate. Could this be the end of Raul Ibanez as an everyday player? If Ibanez does not start hitting, it very well could.
So the bats were popping and some great defensive plays highlighted the win as well. Both Rollins and Jayson Werth were all over the place snagging balls out of the air:
The Phillies were ahead 7-2 by the 7th inning and that is when the bottom really fell out for the Jays. The play on the field began to resemble a long series of sight gags that The Three Stooges may have attempted in one of their comedy bits. Throws by Jays fielders sailed into no-man’s land, balls were mishandled and there was even a passed ball at the plate. By the end of the 7th, the Jays had committed 3 errors, 4 total for the game, and the Phillies had scored a total of 6 unearned runs in the 11-2 win.
Wilson Valdez, who is officially the Master at hitting into double plays, tried to do so twice in this game only to have his attempts foiled by the Jays sloppy defense. Darn those errant throws! Wilson is clearly going for some sort of DP record and they may have ruined his chances. (Please note the sarcasm in the above paragraph)
The series win went to the Phillies with 2 out of 3 games. To commemorate this unique occasion of playing an American League game in a National league ballpark while giving home field to the AL team (did you follow all that?), I have put together a short “Canadian’s In Philly” montage:
Is it just me, or does the woman hugging both the Blue Jays stuffed toy and the Phanatic stuffed toy seem confused? Or perhaps a tad conflicted? We wish her well.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Cole Hamels started against the Blue Jays on Saturday. In this 2nd of the 3 road games to be played at home, Hamels struggled to keep the Jays in the yard. He allowed 5 runs on 7 hits, 3 of which were home runs, and also walked 3 batters.
Everyone has a bad day from time to time and this was certainly one of those for Hamels. He lasted only 4 innings. The disturbing part of this outing though was watching Hamels throw pitches down the middle of the plate with an 0-2 count and the Jays did not miss his mistakes.
The offense did little to help out as the only run scored for the Phils was a solo homer by Ryan Howard. But the Jays pitcher, Shaun Marcum, looked good and was confusing the Phils batters. Chase Utley had 2 hits, but no one could drive him home.
One more disturbing aspect in this game was that 3rd baseman, Placido Polanco sat out due to a shoulder injury. Charlie Manuel said he was not sure how serious it was and that he would not know if Polly could play today until he shows up to the park. Polanco has been the team’s most consistant hitter so we hope he will be okay.
Jamie Moyer pitches today at 1:35pm. We wish him luck and hope he Phils can go on the road (officially) with a series victory!
And in case you missed it yesterday, here is the Photo Album from Friday’s win which includes Roy Halladay pitching and the 76ers 1st round draft pick, Evan Turner. He hung out at batting practice and also threw the 1st pitch of the game.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography