Tagged: Joe Blanton

Pitching a Fit Over Phils Pitching

At the start of the season, everyone was worried about the Phillies offense being strong enough to carry a solid starting pitching staff to wins.  Now that the offense is slowly piecing runs together, the entire pitching staff has fallen apart.  Let us examine the grisly evidence:

Roy Halladay is on the DL.  Vance Worley is pitching will bone chips in his elbow.  Cliff Lee has no wins and is recently making a habit of blowing leads.  Cole Hamels has been hit or miss.  Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton keep see-sawing between okay and downright horrible.

As for the bullpen, 5 out of 7 pitchers have little big league experience.  4 of those are rookies in their first (3) year or second (1) year in the majors.  Chad Qualls, a veteran, has basically been a bust.  And their $50 million closer hardly ever pitches because the save situations are slim and they are afraid to use him in non-save situations.

Last night in a horrible 11-7 loss to the Twins, 3 of 4 bullpen guys who pitched combined to allow 5 runs.  Kendrick started the game allowing 6 runs in only 4 innings.  He was beyond awful.  Meanwhile, closer Jonathan Papelbon has not thrown a single pitch since 4 days and 3 games ago.

Making matters worse, Hunter Pence has officially lost his mind in right field.  He only has 3 official errors on the year, but if you add in the mental mistakes and plays that he clearly should have made despite not being an “official” error, he probably has at least 10 by now.

In fact, my favorite moment of last night’s game was a comment by announcer Tom McCarthy.  After Pence failed to field a routine hopper in the 5th inning, turning a single into a triple, McCarthy said, “I think it is safe to say he needs to stop doing that.”  He hit that nail on the head.

Right now, the Phillies are a very BAD team.  Now 9.5 games back of the Nationals in the NL East, they do not have time to wait for Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to return.  If they do not turn it around right now, this season is over.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Fish Drown Phillies in Series Loss

The Phillies dropped two out of three games against the Marlins this weekend, with the ugliest of the 3 games coming in a 5-1 loss today.  Joe Blanton pitched 6 innings, giving up 5 runs, including two home runs, one of which came off the bat of the opposing pitcher.  Blanton has now allowed 24 runs in his last 4 games.

For the Marlins, Carlos Zambrano had a good day, including a bunt base-hit and a home run.  The Phillies offense did a great job helping him out with only 6 hits in the game and 8 runners left on base.  3 of those 6 hits belonged to Juan Pierre.  Zambrano has certainly improved since leaving the Cubs, but the Phillies made him look like All-Star material.

Offensively, this game was so boring, a 20-something year old guy sitting next to me fell asleep in the 4th inning.  I am not kidding.  His friends were laughing about it and poking him but even that did not wake him.  He finally woke when it started to rain.

So since I have nothing much nice to say today after a very disappointing loss, I have decided instead to hand out some awards.  The winner of the “I Plastered Myself Against The Outfield Wall, But It Was A Home Run Anyway” award goes to Juan Pierre:

And Placido Polanco wins the award for the “Silliest Face Of The Day” on a play at third:

The “Oops, I Did It Again” award was a tie between Blanton (for 5 runs or more in his last 4 games) and  Hector Luna:

The “At Least The Bullpen Didn’t Totally Suck Award” goes to the bullpen:

The “I Came All This Way And Did Not Even Get To See My Son Play” award goes to former Major Leaguer, John Mayberry Sr. and Mrs. Mayberry:

And finally, the “Nothing Wrong With A Little Man-Love” award goes to Jimmy Rollins and Greg Dobbs:

The Phillies begin a 4-game series with the Dodgers tomorrow and hopefully, Vance Worley will be off the DL and pitching.

By the way, my condolences to Jose Contreras who is done for the year with a complete tear of the flexor pronator tendon in his right elbow…again.  At 40 years of age, it looks like this may be the end of his career :O(  That had to be devastating news for him, poor guy.  I wish him the best of luck.

And in other news, Chase Utley is finally headed to Clearwater to push forward with his recovery.  No clue when he will be back, but do not hold your breath.

Instead, enjoy my Photo Album from the game today.  Unlike the game, the album does not suck.  ;o)

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Injuries and Questions Plaguing the Phillies

As I am sure many of you are already aware, Roy Halladay has been placed on the DL with a right latissimus dorsi strain.  His projected time for recovery is 6-8 weeks.  The good news is that the strain is a Grade ½ which means he just needs rest for the muscle to heal.  The bad news is he will be gone probably until August.  Yikes.

In regards to how long this has been going on, pitching coach Rich Dubee told the media, “I’ve thought since spring training that there was an issue.”  My question then is, why was nothing done about this sooner?  Why no MRI in spring training?

Of course, Halladay probably down-played the issue thinking it was nothing serious.  But if you are paying a guy $60 million dollars, isn’t it your obligation to do everything possible to ensure the health of that player?  In my opinion, this should have been handled in March.  Luckily, the muscle did not tear in the meantime, but damage to the team was certainly done by allowing this to drag on.

The overwhelming sentiment in the press has been, “It could be worse,” referring to a potential tear or rotator cuff injury.  But really, any injury with any player “could be worse.”  What they should be doing instead of telling us how great it is that this is not worse is asking some real questions.  Like, why was this not addressed earlier?

This also raises questions for me about the team management, from the top brass to the training staff.  Because the Halladay issue does not seem to be the only thing they missed.  What about Chase Utley?  Should they have done more in the offseason to ensure Utley was healthy, especially after the 2011 knee problem?

But it is also easy to see why the team was maybe playing the “ignore it and it may go away” game.  Imagine for a minute if they did check Halladay out in spring training.  Now imagine having Halladay, Utley and Ryan Howard on the DL to start the season.  How many fans do you think would have immediately written the team off with that kind of start?  I would assume the Phillies would have asked themselves the exact same question.

As it stands now, those 3 players make up 32% of the entire team $174.5 million payroll.  That is $55 million sitting on the DL.  Ouch.

So, you still want to look on the bright side?  Ok, think of it like this: Halladay is not really hurt.  He is simply having his bionic parts tuned-up.  As with most bionic men, this procedure can take some time.

Then when Halladay returns, he should be right back to his robot-self!  Awesome.

My next question is, could the Phillies be playing the same “ignore it and it may go away” game with Joe Blanton?  Missing most of last season with a sore elbow, Blanton was also seemingly left to his own devices all off-season and did not have surgery.

Blanton came back and appeared healthy and pitched very well in April.  But then May rolled around and it all went downhill.  In his last 3 starts, Blanton has not made it past the 5th inning and given up a total of 19 runs.  That is an ERA of 12.52 in 3 starts.  Last night against the Mets, he allowed 6 runs in 5 innings which lead to a 6-3 loss.  Am I really the only one who finds this pattern disturbing?

Ok, let’s examine the bright side once again…Cliff Lee pitches tonight!  Yes, it is Lee vs. Gee once again.  And Lee could actually pick up his first win of the year before May ends!  Cross your fingers…

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Career Day for Wigginton Leads to Phillies Win

After a rough day on Sunday with a loss to the Cardinals and Roy Halladay pulled early due to shoulder soreness, the Phillies needed a serious lift.  Seeing Carlos Ruiz scratched from today’s line-up with a sore hamstring was also not the good news this team was looking for.

But with Cole Hamels on the mound, you had to think the Phillies had a shot against the Mets.  Hamels delivered again with 4 runs allowed in 8 innings.  Technically Hamels’ worst outing of the season, this would have been a great day for most other pitchers.

Still, 4 runs has been no small challenge for this Phillies team and their up and down offense.  But one guy came through in the clutch; Ty Wigginton.  With a career high 6 RBI in the game, including a 3-run homer and a double, Wigginton put the team on his back and carried them to a victory.  Wiggy was also walked twice and went 3-for-3 overall, putting him on base in all 5 at-bats.

John Mayberry Jr. also had a multi-hit day with a single and a 2-run homer.  Wiggy and Mayberry combined for all 8 of the Phillies runs in the 8-4 win.

Going forward, the starting rotation still has some question marks.  Halladay will be examined when the team returns to Philly later this week.  And Vance Worley, although still on the DL, appears to be making progress.

Joe Blanton is another question mark as he has allowed 13 runs in his last 2 starts.  If he can bounce back Tuesday night against the Mets, that would be a big relief for everyone concerned about the starting pitching right now.  Game time is 7:10pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

A Wild One in St. Louis

This 4-game series in St. Louis looks like it is going to be a real adventure, especially after last night’s wild 10-9 Phillies victory over the Cardinals.  There was a lot of action in this one.

The Phillies got off to a hot start, scoring 6 runs in the first two innings, something they have been unable to do most of the year so far.  But the 6-0 lead was on shaky ground fast as pitcher Joe Blanton self-destructed for his second start in a row.

Blanton allowed hit after hit until the game was tied, 7-7 by the 5th inning.  Once again, manager Charlie Manuel left Blanton in too long and waited until he allowed the final 3 of those 7 runs that inning to pull him.  In his last 2 starts, Blanton has allowed 19 hits and 13 runs.  Ouch.  I guess it was too much to hope his hot streak would last very long :O(

The game ping-ponged back and forth after that, with the Phillies offense continuing to battle back.  Carlos Ruiz is still on fire and had 3 hits in the game.  Four players, including Ruiz, had 3-hit nights.  Both Shane Victorino and Freddy Galvis added 3 RBI each and even Mike Fontenot collected a pinch-hit RBI in a key situation.

And although the bullpen had some issues again, it was just that kind of night.  Both teams were hitting and the end result was going to depend on who pushed harder.  Ty Wigginton added the 10th run in the 8th inning with a solo homer, which turned out to be the game winner for the Phillies.

Game 2 starts tonight at 8:15pm.  Cliff Lee will pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Blanton Bombs Against Red Sox

Now that Phillies fans have all gotten used to seeing Joe Blanton in top form, I suppose he was due to throw a clunker.  Blanton had only given up 2 home runs all year, but last night, he gave up 4 in just one game against the Red Sox.

By the middle of the 4th inning, the score was 5-1 and Blanton had also already made two huge fielding errors in the game.  Clearly, this was not his night.  So when Pete Orr was on deck in the bottom of the 4th to hit for Blanton, I thought, great idea!  Let’s get some more runs and let the pen have a shot at shutting down the Sox.

Imagine my dismay when, after Freddy Galvis smacked a 2-run homer, Orr was called back to the dugout and Blanton went out to hit!  Really?  Those 2 runs meant Blanton would suddenly snap out of his funk?  I think not…

And sadly, I was correct.  I get that manager Charlie Manuel did want to rely on what has been an unreliable bullpen.  But if there was ever a time to give them a shot to redeem themselves, this was it.  Blanton looked awful out there and the insanity continued in the 5th inning.

Only after allowing 3 more hits, including a 2-run homer, was Blanton finally pulled from the game, having recorded only 1 out in the inning.  Buried in a 7-4 hole, the bullpen did actually get the job done after that, not allowing another run to score.  But by that time, the damage was done and the Phillies scored only one more run.

The offense had changes, but luck did not go their way.  Carlos Ruiz, the teams hottest hitter, was robbed of what should have been a 2-run double in the 7th by Ryan Sweeney, who suddenly grew wings, flew through the air and snagged Ruiz’s hit out of the air.  It was an amazing play.

In the 9th, Ruiz was robbed again as he smoked a ball…unfortunately, it went right to the shortstop and was caught.  The ball was hit so hard that Hunter Pence had no chance to get back to first and was doubled up.  Bad luck, indeed…

Later, Shane Victorino popped out on the first pitch he saw with the bases loaded in the 8th.  And that was the end of the threat as the Phillies went on to lose by a score of 7-5.

There were some bright spots, like Galvis’ homer, making it 2 games in a row with a bomb.  And John Mayberry Jr. reached base all 5 times he stepped to the plate for the first time in his career.  Hector Luna also had a great night with 3 hits and an RBI.

But mostly, the good news is that the Phillies never gave up, even when it looked like the game was out of reach.  This is something that we have all been waiting for this season…a little extra fight even when they are down.

They have another shot at the Sox today.  If they win, the Phils will take the series.  Cliff Lee is pitching and I will return with photos!  Game time is 1:35pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Polanco’s 2000th Hit Helps Phillies Win

The Phillies Monday night 5-1 win over the Astros was full of hopeful signs.  A little at a time, things are getting better for this team, which is currently still in last place in the NL East.

Starting pitcher Joe Blanton had another great outing, making us all wonder where this guy has been all these years.  He has transformed from Average Joe to “I have an ERA under 3.00” Joe.  Over 7 innings, Blanton allowed only 1 run on 6 hits and a walk.

Things got shaky in the top of the 8th when he allowed that one run via a solo homer and then gave up a single.  Manager Charlie Manuel, not wanting to ruin and otherwise great start, pulled Blanton and let the pen take over.  Blanton was visibly surprised at the move, but ultimately, it was for the best.              

In the meantime, the Phillies offense showed signs of life.  Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry Jr. remain hot at the plate, each collecting 2 hits on the night.  Rookie Freddy Galvis is finally catching on and had 3 hits plus 2 RBI.

But the best moment of the night came in the bottom of the 8th when Placido Polanco added his 2000th career hit in grand fashion.  The 2-run homer was probably the best situation he could have imagined for this milestone.  Congrats to Polly on this historic accomplishment!

And perhaps the back end of the Phillies bullpen is also getting into the swing of things.  Antonio Bastardo, Chad Qualls and Jonathan Papelbon combined to close out the 8th and 9th innings and secure the win.  Bastardo even provided his team with some comic relief as he hopped off the mound with enthusiasm thinking the inning was over when there were actually only 2 outs.  Bastardo grinned as his teammates poked fun at him while he sauntered back to the mound.

It is nice to see this team finally having some fun out there.  Winning certainly helps, but if they can keep their spirits up as well, that may go a long way towards digging their season out of the basement.

Game 2 with the Astros starts early today at 1:05pm.

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography