People on the internet have been freaking out about Saturday being the end of the world. For the Phillies, it may actually be true.
The first casualties of the week are Joe Blanton and Shane Victorino. Blanton was on the DL in April and the beginning of May with right elbow soreness. Upon his return, Blanton said the elbow was still sore, but he could pitch.
My first issue with this is why did the Phillies allow him to go on when he was still sore? Second, why did Blanton hide how bad the elbow obviously was? I can maybe answer the second question. Blanton saw his job in jeopardy with how well Vance Worley pitched in his absence and felt that he need to come back soon. That is my guess.
Blanton bailed on the Phillies 20 minutes before Thursday night’s game, saying it was too painful to go on. He then spoke to reporters at Comcast Sportsnet and admitted he came back from the DL too early and that maybe he should have been “more honest” about his condition.
As a result of Blanton’s last minute bail, Kyle Kendrick was forced to start the game with no preparation at all. He gave up five runs, including two of Jason Giambi’s homers. Danyz Baez gave up the third. Shocking, I know (insert your own sarcastic comment here). The Phillies lost the game, 7-1.
All seven Rockies runs were scored thanks to the three home runs by Jason Giambi, which led me to these thoughts:
You Might Be A Steroid User If:
– You have grey hair and you hit three home runs in one game
– Your batting average was .115 before hitting three home runs in one game
– Your name is “Jason Giambi”
– Your batting average was .115 yesterday and your name is used in the same sentence as “Babe Ruth.”
Yes, Giambi is now one of only four players over the age of 40 to ever hit three home runs in a game. The others are Babe Ruth, Stan Musial and Reggie Jackson. While this is an impressive feat, I think that Kendrick and Baez pitching may have had a little to do with it.
So Blanton is headed to the DL and now, so is Shane Victorino. An MRI revealed that Victorino has a second degree hamstring strain. He will be the 12th Phillie on the DL this year. The Phillies will announce later who will replace each player.
Hold on to your seats, Phillies fans. This ride is about to get bumpier.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*
After losing four games in a row, the Phillies needed someone to stop the bleeding. Cole Hamels, with help from his defense and second baseman Wilson Valdez, was able to get the Phillies a 2-1 win over the Rockies on Wednesday night.
Hamels tossed eight innings of one-run ball, allowing only five hits. In short, he was spectacular. His five wins this season tie Roy Halladay and his 2.92 ERA is second, also behind Halladay.
The defense played well behind him, with John Mayberry Jr. getting a key out in the first inning. On a single hit to right field, Mayberry threw out Alfredo Amezaga going to third base. The next batter hit a fly ball to center so, Amezaga would have tagged up and scored had been safe at third.
And although the Phillies offense continues to struggle, Wilson Valdez came up big on a number of occasions. He went 2 for 3 in the game with an RBI-single in the fifth. In the eighth, Valdez singled again. Shane Victorino bunted him over to second and then Valdez advanced to third on a wild pitch. He then scored the go-ahead run on a Jimmy Rollins sac fly.
It was nice to see Victorino in a game, however, he is still having issues running and is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday.
As for the unlikely hero, Valdez, he is hitting .400 with runners in scoring position and .667 with the bases loaded. Both of those stats lead the team. It is hard to expect much more out of a guy who has filled in for Chase Utley all year. Valdez has been amazing.
The second and final game with the Rockies is tonight at 7:05pm. Joe Blanton will pitch.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
As of May 13, 2011, the Phillies are 25-13 and two games ahead of the Florida Marlins for first place in the NL East. However, Phillies players are dropping like flies. Can they maintain this pace in spite of all the injuries?
So far the Phillies have lost their starting short stop, both catchers, two starting pitchers, a bunch of relief pitchers and more. Starter Joe Blanton came off the DL but looks like he needs to go back as he is still in pain and losing speed on his pitches. Starter Roy Oswalt is coming back this week, but also looks like he is not 100% after a rehab start on Thursday.
Then in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Braves, centerfielder Shane Victorino left the game early with a hamstring pull. It ended his 15-game hitting streak.
The Phillies anemic offense managed only three hits in the game, a trend which has continued throughout the season so far. The pitching has helped the Phillies win games, but the loses due to a lack of hitting are starting to pile up.
At the same time, the pitcher’s are now coming up lame. If the injuries continue and the Phillies wind up with both weak pitching and weak hitting at the same time, this spells trouble.
Here is a look at the injuries so far this year:
If Victorino winds up on the DL, the Phillies may have been able to fill the roster spot by calling Domonic Brown back up since he has recovered from hand surgery. However, earlier in the week, Brown sprained the thumb on the same hand he had surgery on and is unavailable to play right now.
Currently in right field, Ben Francisco has been terrible in the month of May. He is hitting just .071 since May 1. Ryan Howard is hitting .217 in May. Placido Polanco’s May numbers are down as well, hitting .234. Brian Schneider’s bat was starting to heat up when he got hurt and was sent to the DL. Carlos Ruiz is back, but rusty, and he is still looking for his first hit this month.
The bench players have filled in admirably where they are able to. But if this trend continues where the offense slumps and the pitching can no longer bail them out, the Phillies could lose their grasp on first place quickly.
The Phillies season is at a crossroads now. Either they will be able to continue to battle through the injuries or they will not.
But this is an issue they have dealt with for many years running now. This Phillies team knows how to carry on when star players hit the skids. Hopefully, knowing that they have overcome injuries in the past will be enough to propel them into the future as a winning team.
Friday the 13th turned out to be a reversal of fortune for the Phillies, on a day that is traditionally known for bad luck. It was also a day where some very young, unproven pitchers were tossed into the fire and emerged unscathed.
Cole Hamels was to start the game, but before he took the mound, Ryan Howard blasted a three-run homer to give him a nice lead to work with. And although Hamels gave a run back to the Braves in the first inning, it looked like he was on cruise control after that, at least until the fifth inning.
A single and two straight doubles by the Braves in the fifth tied the game at 3-3. In the sixth, Hamels uncorked a wild pitch with a runner on third to give the Braves a 4-3 lead. After six innings, Hamels had allowed four runs on eight hits while both Hamels and Placido Polanco committed errors in the game.
It was starting to look like a real Friday the 13th nightmare until Shane Victorino hit an RBI-single in the seventh to tie the game again. But as quickly as things began to look up, they went downhill again fast.
Relief pitcher J.C. Romero started the bottom of the seventh and got into big trouble quickly. Martin Prado doubled; it seemed like he could not fail to get on base after doing so four straight times in this game. After a sac bunt that moved Prado to third, Romero walked the next two batters to load the bases.
With one out and the bases juiced, the rookie Michael Stutes took over, looking like fresh meat tossed into a pack of wolves. Stutes was not rattled and he struck out Dan Uggla, making it look easy. Antonio Bastardo was up next and before you could blink, the count was a scary 3-0. But the young lefty refocused and came back to strike out a very frustrated Freddie Freeman, who began slamming equipment to the ground.
The Phillies were able to retake the lead in the eighth after Howard doubled and Raul Ibanez singled to score him. With a very slim 5-4 lead, another rookie would be called upon to hold the Braves down. Vance Worley took the mound and on one pitch, gave up a single. Still not shaken, Worley got the next three outs, including Prado, who failed to reach base for the first time all night.
Ryan Madson closed out the game and is now 6-for-6 in save attempts. But the best news of the night was seeing a very young group of bullpen pitchers pass the biggest test of their budding careers. Stutes, Bastardo and Worley were outstanding and there can be no question now that they all have what it takes to pitch in the majors.
Game two with the Braves is at 1:10pm Saturday and Joe Blanton will pitch.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Call it a game if you must, but tonight’s Phillies – Marlins match-up looked more like batting practice for both teams. It featured the Phillies worst starter, fresh off a DL stint, in Joe Blanton and the Marlins worst starter, Javier Vazquez. As hitters walked to the plate, they were literally salivating like a pack of ravenous hyenas standing over a fresh kill.
No one was more excited than Ross Gload, who has gotten very little playing time as a bench player this year. With a rare start in right field, Gload finally had an opportunity to do some damage. He took full advantage with two hits and two RBI.
A lot of Phillies had multi-hit games against the struggling Vazquez and some of the Marlins’ bullpen. Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and even Raul Ibanez came up with at least two hits in the game, along with Gload.
The pitching was another story. Knowing he had the youngster Vance Worley nipping at his heels, Blanton must have been in a rush to get back to the team after going on the DL. He did not even pitch in a rehab game.
In his race to get healthy, Blanton looked like a guy seriously out of practice. But the defense bailed him out a number of times and he wound up with five innings, three runs allowed, two walks and eight hits.
Worley did wind up pitching in the game, taking over in the sixth. He got though two scoreless innings and then in the eight, allowed a solo homer to Gaby Sanchez. After Worley’s three innings of work, the score was then 6-4, surprisingly low for the number of hacks taken during the game.
The Phillies went on to win by the same score, with Ryan Madson collecting the save. Roy Halladay will pitch Tuesday night. Game time is 7:10pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In two out of three games in this Braves series, the Phillies bats left their pitchers hanging. They did not score at all for Cliff Lee on Friday. On Sunday, they got some hits for Cole Hamels, but only two runs.
The 12 hits from the Phils offense was certainly better than two on Friday. However, the hits were not timely and caused little damage. Here is just one frustrating example. Wilson Valdez smacked a two-out double in the second inning with no one on base. Later in the sixth, with runners at the corners and one out, Valdez hit a weak ground ball for an inning-ending double play, leaving a runner stranded on third.
Hitting without clutch hitting is practically useless, especially in a close game.
And Hamels really could have used some clutch hitting. He went seven innings, striking out nine batters, but allowed three runs on two homers. Still, it was a quality start and one that he should expect to win.
The youngsters in the bullpen did not help the situation either, which is the opposite of what happened in Saturday’s win. Michael Stutes entered the game not having surrendered a run in 6.1 innings this year. But in 1/3 of an inning on Sunday, he walked two batters and allowed a two-run homer.
Stutes looked like he had never even heard of a strike zone. He was that far off, throwing only two strikes to three batters. This was also the first time the Phillies used him in back-to-back games. You can be sure they will not do that again anytime soon.
As for Scott Mathieson, he took over for Stutes and gave up a hit, but exited the inning unscathed. But then to start the ninth, Mathieson began to unravel. After a hit, a sac bunt and two walks on five pitches each, Danys Baez was brought in to bail Mathieson out.
When your savior for the night is Danys Baez, you know you are having a very bad day. Baez has been unreliable at best since last season, but on Sunday night he was able to coax an inning ending double play.
I will say this for Baez; he is always great with the fans and a very nice guy. Last night, he was headed to the clubhouse after warm-ups and an elderly lady next to me over the dugout asked him to sign a ball. Most players are in full-out game concentration mode at this point and do not stop. But Baez smiled, had her toss the ball over the dugout and he signed it for her and even waved to everyone standing there.
So with no ninth inning rally in sight, the Phillies went on to lose the game by a score of 5-2 and lost the series 2-1. Heading to Miami tonight, first place in the division is on the line for this series as the Marlins are only two games back now.
Joe Blanton is back on the roster and will pitch tonight at 7:10pm. Carlos Ruiz was put on the DL yesterday, so no one had to be bumped to add Blanton back. The DL move was backdated to 4/28, so Ruiz could return in about five days or so if his back is feeling better.
Also, Sunday was the Phillies annual Mother’s Day celebration where a players has his mother flown in for the weekend at the Phillies’ expense to spend time with their son and see him play. A different player is chosen each year, although there were two in 2010. I have attended these particular games every year since 2006 so here is a photo gallery of all six years with the player, mom and sometimes other family members as well. The only person I cannot remember is who is in the 2006 photo. I think it is Jon Lieber, but I am not sure. If you know, please let me know :O)
And here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Game two against the Nationals was a very good day for young pitcher Vance Worley. Filling in for the injured starter, Joe Blanton, Worley made his second start of the year tonight and notched his second win.
Through six innings, Worley allowed only one run on four hits with one hit batter. He also smacked a single into left and later scored in the fifth inning. Worley has been so good, some may be wishing that Blanton really takes his time coming back.
By the way, have you all seen the new Vance Worley fan club? They call themselves “Worley’s Warriors.” So is it just me, or do they look less like warriors and more like a Mariachi Band?
Anyway, the offense did their job tonight as well. Raul Ibanez put the final touches on a newly busted slump, going 3 for 4 with a solo homer. While his batting average will take some time to recover, currently at .194, the hitting funk is officially over.
Jimmy Rollins had a nice day as well, relishing his return to the lead-off spot with two hits, an RBI and a walk. Also with two hits, Brian Schneider continues to fill in for the ailing Carlos Ruiz. And Shane Victorino collected two RBI.
The best part of the offense tonight was watching the Phillies go around the diamond one base at a time in the sixth inning to score four runs. The small ball is back and the Phillies are scoring again.
Another return tonight was that of J.C. Romero, fresh off a rehab assignment. Romero pitched a clean seventh inning and appears to be in very good shape. Upon being added to the roster, pitcher David Herndon, who has been struggling, was optioned to AAA.
The Phillies went on to win by a score of 7-4 after Danys Baez allowed a 3-run homer in the 9th. Ugh.
FYI – Our old buddy Jayson Werth has had only one hit in the series so far.
The final game of the series is Thursday night at 7:05pm. Roy Halladay will pitch.
Side note: Matt Stairs, now with the Nationals, got his 100th career pinch hit tonight. Congrats, Matt!
***Important Blog FYI: The entire MLBlogs community is going to be switched to a WordPress format beginning on Friday, May 6. The transition may last through Monday night, May 9. All MLBlogs writers will be unable to post and you will be unable to access any MLBlogs during this transition. So do not panic if this and other blogs suddenly disappear during that weekend…we will be back :O)***