Scoring runs against the veteran pitcher Andy Pettitte of the Yankees is no small feat. The Phillies did a descent job hitting him tonight, although they let several opportunities pass by. A Ryan Howard single scored Shane Victorino in the 4th inning. Then in the 5th, Victorino hit a 2-run homer.
Things looked promising in the 7th inning as well while the Phils loaded the bases with only one out. But scoring runs has been the Achilles heel of this team for an entire month now. Placido Polanco grounded into a fielder’s choice which erased Carlos Ruiz on his way home. Then Howard struck out on another low and outside pitch, something he seem to make a habit of. All the offense could do was pray that this inning would not come back to haunt them.
Kyle Kendrick stepped up to the challenge of pitching against the veteran Pettitte and kept the team in the game. Through 7 innings, Kendrick allowed one run on 4 hits and 2 walks. Despite getting himself into a multitude of bad situations, Kendrick kept his composure and did not fold under the pressure. That, more than his pitching, was the most impressive part of his game.
Not as impressive is the still struggling Chase Utley, who went hitless. Yesterday, Utley resorted to voodoo magic to try to jump-start his swing. He laid out a pattern on the clubhouse floor using bats, Red Bull and a variety of fruits. Then today, batting coach Milt Thompson reportedly built a shrine to Jobu, the voodoo doll used in the movie Major League. Can you say, “desperation”? Oh my.
I have also been known to practice baseball voodoo from time to time. However, I am not a major leaguer so if my readers think my noodle has slipped, no one really cares, least of all me. Normally, I reserve the voodoo J-Roll Smurf magic for the National League East. But with the Phillies recent struggles against everyone, and in light of Utley’s acceptance of such practices, I made an exception before today’s game. I think it may have helped:
The voodoo did seem to work. The Phillies scored again in the 9th inning after a Ruiz double and a Wilson Valdez single. Then they loaded the bases and scored two more runs on sac flies by Polanco and Howard. Then Raul Ibanez smelled the burning Jobu / Smurf incense, woke up and hit an RBI single with two outs. Ibanez did run into some bad luck after that, getting nicked in the foot with a hit ball. Apparently, the umpires did not see it, as nothing was called until the Yanks complained. So they called him out anyway to end the inning.
The defense got a spark earlier as well. Polanco helped Kendrick get out of a rough inning by diving on top of the rolled up tarp and catching a foul ball that was inches into the stands. And Jose Contreras snagged a bullet off the bat of Curtis Granderson in the 8th inning to save a hit. The Phils entered the bottom of the 9th inning with a 7-1 lead.
Contreras stayed in the game for one more batter; then with one out in the 9th, JC Romero was called in to end the game. Romero ended it quickly and the Phils won both the game and the series, 2 games to 1.
The Phillies will head home now for a weekend series with the Twins. They are without lefty Antonio Bastardo who is now on the DL with left elbow ulnar neuritis. Scott Mathieson was called up to take his spot on the roster. Mathieson looked like his career might be over after two Tommy John surgeries in 2006 and 2008 but his recovery has been remarkable. Look forward to seeing him pitch very soon!
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A-Rod photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Voodoo bats by Getty Images/CSN Philly
When, oh when, will the losing end? I don’t know about all of you, but my poor brain hurts. Ouch! It does seem that Jamie Moyer had a well laid out plan for this game and was rolling along quite well, in fact. And really, you can’t blame him at all. 3 runs for Jamie in 6.2 innings having thrown over 100 pitches is quite a feat. He is amazing. This offense simply let him down, yet again. On Sunday afternoon, he even tried helping out Kyle Kendrick to prepare for his next start (which will be tonight) by either, proposing marriage (see photo)
, or what I should better assume is teaching him how to throw a change-up. This is the one pitch Kyle still seems to have some trouble with. The two worked on it before the game for over ½ an hour out on the field. Moyer is such a team player and it really saddens me to see the rest of the team let him down like this.
Obviously, they are not happy about it either. Having totaled only 6 hits against a very average pitcher last night, the Phillies offense were all left scratching their heads and wondering what has happened to the bats. Perhaps it is time to pull out a copy of the movie Major League and summon the Spirit of Jobu? I don’t think the actor Dennis Haysbert is getting much work these days besides All-State commercials…maybe he can shave his head again and come play for the Phils? And here’s a thought…can we try Greg Dobbs, who is batting .347, as the DH instead of Geoff Jenkins who is batting .244? Hmmm? And can anyone tell me the last time Carlos Ruiz got a hit? Or the last time he did NOT hit into a double play when given the chance? Just a few things that have been BUGGING me…
Sorry, had to vent for a few seconds there J Ah, back to my happy place… So, thanks for comments and feedback! In response to the latest comment on the Shane Victorino trade rumors, here is my take on the situation. First of all, I love Shane too and would be devastated to see him go, but keep in mind that rumors are rumors and this very same rumor went around last year as well and he is still here. The trade deadline is not until 7/31/08, so until we are past the All-Star break and closer to that day, I would not panic just yet. A lot of the talk is because the Phillies are looking to add a pitcher if they want to contend for a World Series title THIS year. They believe they have they offense, present slump aside, to make it happen and are willing to sacrifice a few “future” possibilities to make it happen. I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is the right move. Where Shane falls into that is they are looking to get a pitcher like a CC Sabathia from the Indians, but someone of that caliber will not come cheap. It would have to be a package deal with say Shane plus a minor league prospect or two. However, the Phillies have a LOT of really great minor leaguers that may be ready to go THIS year that a team may go for without someone like Shane in the mix. Carlos Carrasco’s name has been tossed around a lot, as an example. He would be a big loss to the Phillies system, but not necessarily so if it brings us a World Series Title. Ya know?
Another thought on this is also that these rumors may be being tossed around to light a fire under both Shane Victorino AND Brett Myers. Cruel as this may sound, I have heard several media type mention it now. They are saying that the thought of Myers being “replaced” may force him into getting his act together. And as for Shane, the idea that he is dispensable and maybe has not performed up to their expectations could get him back on track as well. We also have the possibility of Kris Benson coming out of rehab in Clearwater soon to think about. If he can get past all these injuries and prove to be a viable starter, all this trade stuff may go away… Well, then again, you never can tell J Whew! If my brain didn’t hurt before, it sure does now! How is that for a LOT to absorb at once? I do hope that helps though. We will know more as the deadline approaches. As always, thanks for reading and for your feedback. Have a great day!