The Phillies had won 3 games in a row coming into today’s game. That streak ended with a horrible effort against the Reds, who beat the Phillies by a score of 4-9. Just about everything went wrong, including pitching and defense.
Before the game, spirits seems high with players smiling and even an appearance by Darren Daulton, who has been battling brain cancer.
It all went downhill after Adam Morgan took the mound. One example of just how bad he was happened in the 4th inning. He loaded the bases as the opposing pitcher, who has no hits this year, stepped up to the plate. Morgan proceeded to walk him on 4 pitches to bring a run in. Shortly after that, Eugenio Suarez hit a 3-run homer.
The defense was equally pitiful. There were 2 “official” errors in the game, but Maikel Franco missed a few balls at 3rd base that would normally not have gotten past him and Tyler Goeddel bobbled a ball in left field. It was just sloppy all around.
And of course, this offense has not been setting the world on fire, but today was especially bad. In the first 5 innings alone, the Phillies went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. They also left 16 men on base total.
And don’t even get me started with Reds 1st baseman Joey Votto! Several times, he motioned that he may toss a baseball to the fans and then smirked as he chose not to. Even if the fake-out was meant for the adults, some of those fans were children who you can bet didn’t get the joke. Well, he got what was coming to him; no hits in the series and 3 strikeouts today. And that was the highlight of the day 😉
Here is the full Photo Album from the game.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri
If someone had told me that by the end of June this season, Carlos Ruiz would be leading all of baseball in batting average, I may have checked to see if that person was running a fever. Chooch has always been a good player; but he has never been .361 with 10 home runs-good. The 10 homers, including one in last night’s 5-4 win over the Pirates, is a career high. And it is only June…
So yes, Chooch leads everyone in batting average with .361. That is better than past MVP’s Joey Votto and Josh Hamilton. Ruiz has also outhit fellow catchers and All-Star voting leaders Yadier Molina and Brian McCann. Soooooo….VOTE FOR CHOOCH! We have until Thursday to get him to the All-Star game!
But even if that fails, manager Charlie Manuel told reporters yesterday that he plans on calling Tony La Russa, the NL All-Star team manager, to plead the case for Chooch. Manuel always sticks up for his players, but especially in this case, Ruiz really deserves the honor.
Chooch put his stamp all over last night’s win. He went 3-for-4 with a homer and 2 RBI. And while catching, Ruiz saved two runs from scoring by blocking the plate and tagging out the runners.
The biggest of those plays came in the 7th inning after starter Vance Worley got into a real jam. With no outs, 2 runners on base and 1 run already across, Worley was removed and rookie Michael Schwimer took over. Schwimer coaxed a ground out and then a short fly ball to left. One the fly ball, John Mayberry Jr. made a great throw home, which Ruiz caught and tagged the runner for an inning-ending double play.
That play kept the Phillies lead intact and Chooch’s subsequent homer added to that lead. The home run he hit in the 8th turned out to be a game saver as closer Jonathan Papelbon struggled in the 9th, allowing a solo homer. But the Ruiz blast made the difference in the 5-4 win.
The Phillies have now won 2 of the first 4 games against the Pirates, which is great news; because tonight’s 7:05pm game is going to be started and finished by the Phillies bullpen. The rainout on Friday forced a juggling of the pitching staff, leaving them 1 starter short this week. So Raul Valdes will start the game and likely pitch 3 innings, passing the ball on to the rest of the pen after that.
And while you are watching the game, do not forget to VOTE FOR CHOOCH!
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
As far as headlines go, the one above is not what Phillies fans generally expect to see. But it was a back-up player and a much maligned bullpen pitcher who saved the day for the Phillies on Wednesday night against the Reds.
It took more than six hours and nine pitchers, but the Phillies finally pulled out a 5-4, 19-inning win. Both offenses struggled to score runs and for the Phils, this has been problematic all season.
I have two words rattling around my brain in regards to the Phillies offense: frustrating and painful. This team has been painful to watch most of the season so far. And they keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, which is incredibly frustrating.
For example, Raul Ibanez led off the sixth inning with a triple. So with NO outs and a man on third, what should happen just doesn’t. Carlos Ruiz swung at the first pitch and popped out. John Mayberry Jr. watched a called-strike three go by. And then Wilson Valdez is walked intentionally to get to the pitcher. Result: NO run, when all they needed was a sac fly or some form of contact with the ball that did not turn into a pop-up.
And this is exactly the sort of thing that is plaguing the Phillies offense. They faced a Reds pitcher who was off his game and they did not take advantage. Instead, they got themselves out by being impatient and swinging at bad pitches.
So just like Tuesday night, with a 3-1 lead, the Phillies watched the Reds come back to tie the game, 3-3 by the seventh inning. They got hurt, again, by Jay Bruce with two outs and the bases loaded. He hit a two-run single off Roy Halladay, who had a few issues tonight. However, the defense behind him did little to help.
But once the game entered the wee hours of the morning, many forgot that Halladay had even started the game. The bullpen took over for a total of 12 innings.
Danys Baez, who has taken a lot of abuse from Phillies fans for his lack of consistency, was one of the hero’s in this game. He pitched a career-high five innings and 73 pitches to carry the Phils through the 18th inning. He allowed only one hit, one walk and zero runs.
Last year, Baez was so bad that many hoped he would be cut. And this year has been up and down for him. But rest assured that after an effort like this, Baez is keeping his job.
After Baez exited, the unexpected happened. Wilson Valdez stepped onto the pitcher’s mound. And he was tasked with facing the heart of the Reds line-up in Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce, who had absolutely been killing the Phils all series long.
But Valdez gave a valiant performance, even clocking over 90mph on the radar gun. He got Votto to fly out to deep center, hit Rolen with a pitch and then two more fly-outs to end the inning. As he exited the field, the crowd went crazy cheering for him.
Valdez is the first player to start in the field and move on to pitching since Babe Ruth. Seriously. He is also the first Phillies position player to pitch since Tomas Perez did it in 2002. The game win went to Valdez and afterwards he told Comcast Sportsnet, “I like to win,” in response to why he agreed to pitch. He also joked that he could have gone three or four more innings.
Raul Ibanez hit a sac fly to score Jimmy Rollins for the win in the 19th inning. In a game where an infielder pitched, a catcher (Carlos Ruiz) played third base and the team left 16 men on base, this win has to be a huge boost for the Phillies.
The last game with the Reds comes quick after this one; Thursday afternoon at 1:05pm. Cliff Lee will pitch.
Ross Gload is not playing right now due to a slight muscle tear in his hip. This is same sort of injury that Chase Utley played through in 2008, which eventually required surgery. Gload is expected to play through it as well.
Jose Contreras should return to the team sometime this week. Odds are good that David Herndon will be sent down to make room.
Chase Utley got a day off today, except for a pinch-hitting appearance, in what appears to be an effort to err on the side of caution by not pushing him too hard, too soon. He should play again Thursday.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
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
Despite having two of their best players sent to the DL today in Chase Utley and Placido Polanco, the Phillies still came out swinging against the Reds. More importantly, it was the back-up players who made the biggest impact on the game. This gives Phillies fans hope that even with 7 players on the DL, they can still produce.
At the very bottom of the line-up, both Brian Schneider and Wilson Valdez hit 3-run homers in the 9-6 win over the Reds. Schneider went above and beyond, with three hits in the game and scored on the Valdez homer. The homer by Valdez was his 3rd of the year and only his 4th since 2004.
Joe Blanton kept the Phillies in the game, allowing just one run until the dreaded 6th inning. That has been his Achilles heel all year long. With 2 outs in the 6th, Blanton gave up a single, a walk and then a 2-run double. He did finish with 7 2/3 innings allowing just those 3 runs, so this is progress for Blanton.
But leave it Brad Lidge to try and throw away all that hard work and momentum for the Phils. With two outs in the 9th and a 3-run lead, Lidge gave up a walk, a single and then a 3-run homer to Joey Votto to tie the game and send it to extra innings. It was his 2nd blown save of the year in 7 opportunities.
So the depleted Phillies offense would have to rally yet again, and they did. In the 10th they faced Arthur Rhodes, a former Phillie, who had not allowed a run in 33 consecutive innings this year. Ryan Howard doubled, Jayson Werth walked and then Raul Ibanez stepped to the plate.
The home plate ump had a moving strike zone all night long and when a low 0-1 pitch was called a strike on Ibanez, manager Charlie Manuel finally lost his mind. He jumped out of the dugout and ripped CB Bucknor a new one, getting him tossed out of the game. But the managerial fireworks sparked the Phils in a big way. Ibanez took the very next pitch to center for an RBI double. Ben Francisco, another bench player, hit a single to score Werth and then Valdez struck again with a bunt that scored Ibanez.
And just like that, the 3-run lead that Lidge blew was back with a 9-6 score. JC Romero was called on for the second save attempt and got the job done without issue. Thank goodness for JC! You are my hero :O) Please tell Lidge that he owes you, big time.
The Phillies will play the Reds again tomorrow with a quick turnaround at 12:35pm. Roy Halladay will pitch and try to sneak the Phils out of town with a series win.
More Injury News
To replace Utley and Polanco, Greg Dobbs was brought back and is clearly still having issues. He had only 2 hits in 17 at-bats during his short time in AAA and went hitless tonight in 3 attempts. Brian Bocock was also added to the roster. At AAA this year, Bocock hit only .177 in 209 at-bats so I cannot imagine he brings much to the table either. But at this point, beggars cannot be choosers. The options are limited.
The Phillies are going to have to rely on their bench players if they are going to contend. They did it in 2007 as Tadahito Iguchi and others filled in admirably for players who went down, like Utley who got hit with a pitch, breaking his hand. Can they do it again in 2010? We shall see.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography