With both the division and home field advantage wrapped up, the plan for the Phillies back-up players this week is simple: Make the post-season roster. With the September call-ups plus the usual bench players, the Phillies have a lot of spare parts. A few of those will make the roster; the rest will sit and watch. After tonight against the Nationals, there are 4 games remaining to decide who will fill the roles.
A few position players who made a good case in tonight’s game were Domonic Brown in right field and Ben Francisco in center. Francisco went 2 for 4 and should be a lock for the roster. Brown had 1 hit, a stolen base and a walk; he will likely be competing with Greg Dobbs for a roster spot. Dobbs did not help his case with an error at third base tonight, no hits and he also dribbled a ball in front of home plate for an easy force out with the bases loaded and only one out.
Decisions in the bullpen will be a bit more complicated. After a fairly awful year, Danys Baez pitched mostly okay in one inning tonight, although he did walk a batter. David Herndon looked better with two easy outs in the 7th. The two lefties JC Romero and Antonio Bastardo each pitched one scoreless inning. Bastardo is going to have an electric arm if he learns to control it; but the problem with him and all the other bullpen pieces we saw tonight is a lack of consistency.
But under pressure against the Nats knowing he was competing for a roster spot, Bastardo turned up the heat and struck out the side. If a decision had to be made tonight, I would take Bastardo over Baez, keeping the two lefties.
Roy Oswalt started the game and pitched 5 innings allowing only an unearned run after the Dobbs error. Sadly, he did not get a win as he left the game with a 1-1 tie score after a Raul Ibanez home run. So Oswalt, if he does not pitch again in the regular season, will end with a 13-13 record. 12 of those 13 loses came when he was with the Astros.
Jimmy Rollins finally started a game tonight for the first time since September 8th. He moved well in the field and went 1 for 3 at the plate. Rollins played 5 innings total and should see more playing time as the week goes on in order to prepare him for the playoffs. The hamstring injury did not appear to be an issue tonight…fingers crossed!
While the Phillies had a few hits in the game, it was still a 1-1 tie in the 9th. Jose Contreras pitched the final inning for the Phils and threw only 3 pitches. Adam Dunn mashed a long home run off Contreras, giving the Nats a 2-1 walk-off win. While the loss makes little difference at this point, the performance by Contreras was not a good thing. However, Contreras has been fairly reliable most of the year.
The battle of the back-ups will continue tomorrow in DC; game time is 7:05pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
My day at Citizens Bank Park for the Phillies final home game today against the Mets started off a bit dreary. It was rainy and cold. But soon after entering the park, two Phillies players walked right past me; Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. I said, “Hey Dom Brown!” and he said hello back and waved. I then proceeded to follow them through the park. They stopped at the first base gate and began handing out rally towels to fans coming through the turnstiles as part of the Fan Appreciation Day surprises.
Once the crowd died down and Brown looked bored, I asked an usher if I could go up close and take a photo. He said I could so I walked over, said hi and asked Brown to take a photo with me.
I held up the camera and pushed the button; as I did, two security guards started yelling at me to stop and go away. I turned my head to see what they were yelling about and the shot to the right is the result. Well, at least we are both in it…lol I thanked Dom as I ran off before I got yelled at some more.
So while that was fun, the rest of the day was not. Cole Hamels did not pitch well and allowed 5 runs over only 4 innings while looking visibly frustrated at both himself and many of the umpires’ ball-strike calls. As a result, there were a lot of pitchers used in the game, including rookie Vance Worley who pitched a scoreless inning:
Down 5-0 in the 5th, things look grim for the Phillies who were getting beat by a very average pitcher in Pat Misch. They finally scored when Chase Utley smashed a 3-run homer. But that was the only highlight of the game as the Phillies went on to leave 9 men on base and were 1 for 13 with runners in scoring position.
Defensively, they did at least embarrass Jose Reyes one more time. In all 3 games this series, Reyes was picked off base. Today, he was thrown out at home and also caught stealing third base; Shane Victorino got the assist on the out at home. The Phillies defense also turned one double play while Carlos Ruiz hit into a double play to end a scoring threat in the 4th.
This loss was disappointing on many levels. First, the Braves lost which means, had the Phillies won, they could have clinched the NL East at home and the fans, myself included, would have been able to participate in the celebration.
Also, it was Fan Appreciation Day which means after the game, the players traditionally would toss t-shirts and signed Nerf-like balls into the stands. But since they lost, they all went to the clubhouse instead of thanking the fans who stayed to the end. The ball girls were left to handle the duty. As the bullpen members walked in, a few of them, like Brad Lidge and JC Romero, stopped and helped out the ball girls, which was nice. But overall, it was a very disappointing day and a letdown for the fans.
The good news is, the magic number is now just ONE. So the Phillies only need one more win or one more Braves loss to clinch. Right now, the worst they can do it tie with the Braves for the NL East title.
The Phillies go to DC now for 3 games against the Nats; tomorrow’s game time is 7:05pm and Roy Halladay will pitch. Here is the full Photo Album from the game.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Game 3 with the Marlins today turned into a Big Top Circus act. Both teams battled and drama ensued…
To start with, it was not an awful game for Joe Blanton tonight. But there was certainly some excitement. The 3rd inning in particular had a little bit of everything, much like a circus; a couple hits, an error, a minor injury, a deflected ball and a few runs. And Blanton was involved in all of it. He gave up the hits, committed the error, got nailed in the leg with a hit ball and later deflected a sure double play ball, ruining the opportunity for Chase Utley who could then only get one out. The only thing missing from this inning was a juggling clown.
But after Blanton survived the 3rd inning weirdness, he did fairly well. It was not pretty, but it kept the Phillies in the game. Blanton ended up with 6 1/3 innings pitched, 2 earned runs, 2 unearned runs, 2 walks and 5 strike outs.
The offense worked out some runs to help Blanton out as well. The middle of the line-up was productive with Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins getting 2 hits each; 1 RBI for Howard and 2 for Rollins. Raul Ibanez had a huge night with 3 hits and 3 RBI; Ibanez, Howard and Shane Victorino each hit solo home runs as well.
But all that offense was about to be erased by the Phillies bullpen. Oh yes, the circus has come back to town…and not in a good way. Antonio Bastardo allowed one of Blanton’s runners to score in the 7th. But the 8th inning was nearly the killer as the bullpen got into serious hot water…
Jose Contreras looked like he had never pitched in the majors before; he started off with a home run and a double. A Jayson Werth throwing error later allowed another run to score and Contreras wound up with 3 earned runs. With 2 outs, JC Romero came in and balked, moving the Marlins runner to 3rd base. He then walked Logan Morrison on 4 pitches.
However, it was not over yet…Ryan Madson came in and tossed a wild pitch, which probably should have been handled my Carlos Ruiz. Instead, the runner on 3rd scored to tie the game. So the Phillies bullpen took a 7-4 lead and blew it. And 2 of those 3 runs scored with 2 outs in the inning. Disgusting.
With a 7-7 tie in the bottom of the 8th, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco put the “T” in team; Victorino singled and stole second. Then Polly singled to score Victorino. And that all happened with 2 outs; what a way to pick-up your teammates!
In the 9th, it would be in the hands of Madson to save this see-saw game. He got 2 outs quickly and then walked a batter. Then facing ex-Phillie Wes Helms with a runner on, Madson struck out his old teammate. This 8-7 win, plus a Braves loss tonight = FIRST PLACE! The Phillies also became the first team in the National League to reach 80 wins. Again, it wasn’t pretty…but we’ll take it. You may now exhale…whew!
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Win some, lose some…the Phillies could not have done so today in a more upside down fashion. Two games; two very different results:
Vance Worley made his first start in the majors today against the Marlins and did a pretty good job. Certainly it was good enough to de-throne Kyle Kendrick from the 5th starters spot. Kendrick has been awful and the Phillies pitching coach, Rich Dubee, was really upset about his performance yesterday. Worley went 5 innings and allowed 2 runs; he was only pulled after 5 because the offense was sleeping and Charlie Manuel put in a pinch hitter. Worley did his job; the offense did not.
The Phils offense had just 1 hit through 8 innings and that was a Brian Schneider single in the 2nd. They were facing another pitcher making his starting debut, Adalberto Mendez. Rather than beat up on the rookie, the Phillies swung at junk and popped up balls that were right down the middle. They made a first-timer look like a Cy Young winner.
Just as disgusting as the offense was sloppy play in the field. Raul Ibanez made two very bad throws in the 1st inning. Later in the game, Placido Polanco watched a Dan Uggla double sail past him down the 3rd base line. That was just a good hit. But later, with Uggla at the plate again, Polanco was playing off the line…again. Result? Same thing; a double down the line. Why was Polanco playing off the line when he had just gotten burned there in Uggla’s last at bat? Ugh.
A lot about this game was inexplicable, much like the Phillies magical vanishing offense all year long. When you see this team play like this, it makes you wonder how they have stayed in the NL East race all year.
There were some other revelations in the last few days as well. Clearly, Mike Zagurski is not going to make it in the Bigs. This kid has been up, down, multiple injuries, up and down again and today, with yet another chance to show what he has, he failed miserably. 3 runs allowed on 2 hits and a walk…it was bad. Scott Mathieson did the same thing yesterday when he walked 2 batters and showed a serious lack of control. I feel for these guys, but maybe the Phillies need to move on?
Ok, so let’s see if they are still asleep for game two…
Oh, here are the bats! Game 2 was the polar opposite of Game 1. Much like a mental patient suffering from multiple personality disorder, the Phillies played two totally different games today. The Game 2 persona is certainly the one Phillies fans would like to see more of.
A five run 2nd inning got this game off to a good start. Jimmy Rollins, batting from the 5-hole, led off the inning with a single. Raul Ibanez followed his lead and then Domonic Brown walked. With the bases loaded, Carlos Ruiz worked out a walk for an easy RBI. Later that same inning with 2 outs, Placido Polanco hit a 2-run double and then Chase Utley singled to score Polanco.
It was a very upside down kind of day for Utley. He did not have a hit in the first game, but for Game 2, Utley racked up 2 hits, 2 RBI and he was also hit by a pitch. Brown got a rare start as Jayson Werth was rested and he managed to work out 2 walks. But having sat on the bench for a while, Brown looks rusty. Hopefully, this start will get him back into the “swing” of things.
Starting the game was pitcher Roy Oswalt who had some issues with the long ball. He allowed 3 homers for 4 runs in the first 5 innings. This seems to be a “Roy” issue this week; Roy Halladay gave up 4 runs on 4 homers on Saturday against the Brewers. Luckily, the Phillies bats were heating up tonight to bail Oswalt out of trouble, as they also did on Saturday for Halladay.
With a 7-4 lead, Ryan Madson took care of the 8th inning after JC Romero walked the first batter. Brad Lidge pitched the 9th and recorded the save! Lidge has been super lately…keep it up, Brad!
Tomorrow night at 7:05pm, Joe Blanton will pitch in game 3 of this series with the Fish. The Braves lost today so with one win and one loss today, the Phillies are 1/2 game behind them in the NL East.
And a few reminders: Do not forget to check out my new Facebook community page, “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney.” And when you are done there, hop over to the Phillies #1 fan contest and VOTE for me! You can vote up to 25 times a day :O) Thank you to all for your support!
Worley photo by CBSsports.com; Utley photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Against the Brewers tonight, the Phillies came away with another win in another very close game. But early on, it was not looking like a Happy Halladay weekend for Roy Halladay. For the first time in his career, Halladay gave up 4 home runs in one game. The good news is that they were all solo shots. Halladay appeared to struggle with his command all night long and seemed visibly annoyed by many calls from the home plate umpire.
In Halladay’s last three starts combined, he has allowed 10 runs in 21 innings; that calculates to an ERA of 4.29. Granted, this is not terrible by any means, but it is also not typical Halladay. This brings a few questions to mind; has Halladay been overused and are the number of innings pitched catching up with him? With 7 innings pitched tonight, he is up to 221 innings for the year so far. That is more innings than any pitcher in all of baseball. The 33-year old reached a career high in 2003 with 266 innings pitched and is on pace to pass that record.
Although Halladay’s arm is unlikely to fall off anytime soon, the workload is very heavy for a pitcher at his age and with as much mileage as he has on that arm. Everyone keeps referring to Halladay as a “workhorse.” I hate that reference. Because when a horse goes lame, we all know what happens next. While no one is going to put a pitcher out of his misery, the Phillies need to watch Halladay carefully and be sure he stays healthy.
However, Halladay’s rough outing tonight was backed up by some great defense and even a little offense. Both Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth hit solo homers in the 2nd inning and Chase Utley drove in a run in the 3rd. Utley tried to destroy 2nd base after that during a steal attempt. But both the base and the Brewers won the battle as he was tagged out.
Down 4-3 going into the 7th, the Phillies took the lead with a few unusual runs. Wilson Valdez worked out a walk to load the bases and then made a great base running play. Carlos Ruiz scored on a sac fly and Valdez, reading the play quickly, saw the ball sail past home plate and he slid in behind Ruiz safely in a very close play. The aggressive move gave the Phils a 5-4 lead.
The Phillies bullpen, including Ryan Madson, JC Romero and Brad Lidge, held down the lead. Halladay got the win despite getting roughed up a bit and Lidge earned another save. The Braves won today, so the Phils are still just one game behind them.
The final game of the series is tomorrow afternoon at 1:35pm. Kyle Kendrick will face former Phillie Randy Wolf. I will return with photos!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies had a single make-up game against the Rockies today in Colorado before heading home. The first 6 innings of the game were a disaster with careless plays and missed scoring opportunities. Until the 7th inning, you had to think there was no way the Phils were going to win this game. But this is baseball…never say never.
Here is a quick recap of the sloppy seconds that dominated the game through 6 innings:
– The 2nd place Phillies made their 2nd trip this year to Colorado today.
– The 2nd run of the game for the Phillies was scored on a sloppy slide from pitcher Joe Blanton.
– After 1 run scored in the 5th inning, Jimmy Rollins had the bases loaded with 1 out. He grounded into a sloppy and hugely disappointing double play to end the inning without scoring a 2nd run.
– Catcher Brian Schneider had a runner easily picked off at 2nd base in the 6th inning but Rollins dropped the ball.
The 6th inning got worse as the first base umpire called a runner safe that was out. Then a ball hit up the middle for what should have been an easy double play was deflected off the glove of pitcher Antonio Bastardo. Instead of getting out of the inning, another run scored.
Earlier in the 6th, Mike Sweeney was hit in the hand while checking his swing and let out a painful scream. The bases were loaded so a run scored, but Sweeney looked hurt. Everyone is hoping he will be alright. Feel free to join my Facebook group, I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney, and show your support :O)
But down 7-3 going into the 7th, someone flipped a light switch on. The Phillies managed to climb back into the game with a double by Placido Polanco, an Utley single and a 2-run homer from Ryan Howard. Not to be outdone, Jayson Werth followed with a solo homer to tie the game at 7-7. A single by Ben Francisco then gave the Phillies the 8-7 lead.
But the Phillies were not done yet in the 7th. With 2 outs and the bases loaded, Utley made up for his 2nd inning error with a GRAND SLAM! Wow. Phillies led at that point, 12-7 after scoring 9 runs in the 7th.
While a 5-run lead is nice, the Rockies were not done yet either…they scored 3 runs off Chad Durbin in the bottom of the 7th. So entering the 9th with a score of 12-10, Brad Lidge came in for the save attempt. And here comes the “sloppy” again…the first batter hit an easy ground ball to first but Howard dropped it! That dropped ball turned into an unearned run, cutting the lead to one run.
Lidge gave up a single next and one out later, walked Todd Helton. Phillies fans started getting nauseous. But Lidge worked out of the mess; he struck out Clint Barmes and the next batter hit a ball to Polanco at third. Polly made a tough play and stepped on third for the force out to end the game. And……exhale…..whew! This was a huge win for the Phils!
Since the bullpen was pretty much used up tonight, I hope the Phillies are prepared to bring up a few pitchers from the minors before tomorrow’s game against the Brewers. The only September call-up so far has been catcher Paul Hoover. Game time tomorrow is 7:05pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.
#1 Phillies Fan
Autotrader.com is running a contest to find the #1 Phillies Fan. I am constantly teased about being an obsessive Phillies fan and all my friends complain they never see me during baseball season. So, I decided to enter the contest. If you agree that I am a huge Phan, please feel free to VOTE for me :O) Your support is appreciated!
Nyjer Morgan: Poster Child For Anger Management
Nyjer Morgan of the Washington Nationals has issues. On August 21st, Morgan was accused of purposely throwing a ball at a fan in Philadelphia after being heckled. The fan was hit in the head and did not see the throw coming. MLB suspended Morgan for 7 games, which he is currently appealing.
As if that were not bad enough, on Wednesday night, Morgan charged the mound with his fist in the air after a pitch from the Marlins Chris Volstad sailed behind him. Morgan swung and the benches cleared. Worse than that, Morgan showboated after the brawl ended as he walked off the field, proud of his bad behavior. Check out the video:
Morgan’s behavior this year has been reprehensible. Even his own manager has benched him for prior bad behavior. He does not deserve to wear a major league uniform; here’s hoping MLB takes appropriate action.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
It appears that the Phillies bats have cut their vacation short. Perhaps they ran out of those froofy umbrella drinks and decided to leave the island that they were apparently hiding on. Whatever the case, it is nice to see them again.
No one was happier than Ryan Howard who had not hit a home run the entire month of August. Finally last night, he blasted a 3-run shot to left center. Back-up catcher Brian Schneider also hit a 3-run homer in the 2nd inning to give the team an early lead, which is another thing they have not had much of lately. Most starters had at least one hit in the game except for Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, although Victorino walked twice.
With a 6-4 lead going into the 7th inning, the Phillies sent Carlos Ruiz in to pinch hit for Schneider and Joe Torre countered with pitcher Jonathan Broxton. Ruiz and Broxton have quite a history; on August 12th this year, the Phillies rallied back against the Dodgers from a 9-2 deficit and a Ruiz double off Broxton capped the victory at 10-9. Last night, Ruiz smacked Broxton around again, this time for a 2-run single to give the Phillies a nice 8-4 cushion.
As for starter Kyle Kendrick, he ended the month of August with yet another unimpressive outing. In 6 starts for the month, Kendrick allowed 21 earned runs, pitching at an ERA of 5.79. Last night’s start consisted of 4 earned runs over only 5 innings.
The bullpen pitched the final 4 innings and held the Dodgers down. Chad Durbin, JC Romero, Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge capped off the 8-4 victory. Even former Phillie Rod Barajas, who is hitting over .500 against the Phillies since 2008, was held to just one hit.
This afternoon at 3:10pm is the final game of the series and Roy Oswalt will face Clayton Kershaw. If the Phillies can hit Kershaw tonight, we may be able to announce the official return of the Phillies offense. If not, then last night will be chalked up to bad pitching by the Dodgers. The Phillies are 3 games behind the Braves going into September. Now is the time to put their collective feet on the gas pedal and not let up.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography