Third baseman Placido Polanco smacked his 100th career homer in Friday night’s Phillies – Cubs game. The grand slam not only marked a significant career achievement, it also helped the Phillies win the game.
Roy Halladay was his usual awesome self on the mound and it looked like he would not need much assistance. Domonic Brown hit a two-run homer in the second inning to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead. Then Polly’s slam made it a seven run lead in the seventh.
So after seven innings of no-run ball for Halladay, manager Charlie Manuel decided to give him a little rest and use the bullpen for the final two innings. That almost wound up being a disaster.
Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero nearly blew the seven run lead, which was especially scary considering how hard it has been for the Phillies to score any runs lately. Contreras walked two of the first four batters he faced, loaded the bases and had given up two runs by the time he was pulled after recording only one out.
Things got worse when Romero entered and proceeded to walk the first batter he faced on four pitches. Then back-to-back singles scored three more runs for the Cubs. Without having recorded an out, Romero was lifted from the game. The seven run lead had turned into a 7-5 ballgame quickly.
Rookie Michael Stutes was called upon to stop the bleeding, which he did. Stutes also started the ninth inning where a strike-out, throw-out double play with a strong toss to second from catcher Carlos Ruiz retired two Cubs in one shot. Antonio Bastardo then struck out lefty Carlos Pena to earn the save.
While the Phillies won the game 7-5, the performance from Contreras and Romero is raising eyebrows. Contreras is still struggling with his command since coming off the DL. Hopefully, time and getting some more work in will correct the issue. Romero seems healthy, but he is still having serious issues throwing strikes.
The outlook for these bullpen pieces remains to be seen, but it does appear that the back-end of the pen is in the midst of a youth movement. Both Stutes and Bastardo have outpitched the more experienced Contreras and Romero and will likely be transitioned into the later innings role for the foreseeable future.
Game three with the Cubs is this afternoon at 4:10pm. Cliff Lee will pitch.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
After a four game losing streak, the longest of the season for the Phillies, Roy Halladay finally led this struggling team to a win against the Pirates. It seemed like an eternity since the Phillies came out on the winning end.
However, the win was not without drama. In the fourth inning, down by 2-1, Domonic Brown was all set to tie up the game when an umpire literally stepped in.
With two runners in scoring position, Brown powered a ball straight up the middle that should have shot into center field to score a run. Instead, second-base umpire Chad Fairchild stepped into the ball while trying to avoid it. Once the ball hit him, it was a dead ball. And although Brown was awarded first base, the run was not allowed to score.
The next batter, Wilson Valdez, hit into an inning-ending double play. After that, things looked grim for the Phillies who had a run stolen from them and lost a chance with the bases loaded.
But the team followed Halladay’s lead and pushed forward. After allowing a two-run homer in the first, Halladay put it behind him and pitched extremely well after that. The offense, despite the umpire goof, followed suit.
Chase Utley finally had a good day at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a walk and a run scored. Ryan Howard collected three RBI on two hits and a sac fly. And Placido Polanco, Shane Victorino and Brown all had two hits in the game as well.
Utley was amazing on defense as well. He saved Halladay in the seventh when he laid out, Superman-style, diving for a line drive. The catch ended the inning that otherwise may have been a disaster.
Relief pitcher Jose Contreras gave up his first run of the year in the eighth, but Antonio Bastardo bailed him out, getting the final two outs of the inning. Ryan Madson shut the door in the ninth and the Phillies pulled out a 7-3 win.
The team is headed home now for a long home stand, starting with the Dodgers tomorrow night at 7:05pm.
In the meantime, do not forget to enter to win an admission ticket to the Phillies Phestival right here! Entries will be accepted until Wednesday at 6pm. Enter today…good luck!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Hot may not be an accurate word to describe the Phillies day in D.C. where they beat the Nationals by a score of 5-4. Perhaps scorching, boiling or searing would be appropriate terminology.
But despite the 95 degree heat, Roy Halladay kept pushing for a win. He did not have an easy time either. Through seven innings, Doc gave up four runs, three of which were solo homers. But this time, the offense helped Halladay out.
Balls went flying off the bats like grenades in the sweltering heat:
The Nationals kept pace as the Phillies gained and lost the lead in the game like a see-saw. But not even ex-Phillie Jayson Werth could stop this Raul Ibanez homer. Ryan Howard hit one as well. The other photo is Werth striking out, just for fun:
The Phillies also showed a lot of hustle on the base paths. Although Placido Polanco is out by just a step in the photo below, he ran the play out hard:
And Chase Utley was all over the field. It looks like he is going full throttle at second, jumping, leaping and diving to make plays. One of the key defensive plays in the game came in the seventh. Halladay had put runner on first and third with no outs and managed to pick off Alex Cora, who wandered too far off third on a fielder’s choice.
That play probably saved the game for the Phillies. And here are a few other nice ones as well:
Once Halladay was out of the game, the bullpen did a nice job holding the 5-4 lead for him. Antonio Bastardo and Jose Contreras took the eighth and Ryan Madson closed it in the ninth:
Here is the full Photo Album from the game Tuesday afternoon. It includes a lot of nice pre-game shots, the President’s race and more.
Game two with the Nats is Tuesday night at 7:05pm. Cliff Lee will pitch.
Also as a side note, Vance Worley has been sent back to Triple-A to get more innings under his belt. No word yet on a replacement, although it is possible that the Phillies add a bullpen piece and use Kyle Kendrick as a starter.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*
After coming off the DL on Monday, Chase Utley is now beginning to get into a rhythm at the plate. He helped the Phillies to a 5-2 win over the Mets on Saturday night using his bat, his legs and his defense.
Utley had two hits, one RBI, a walk, two runs scored and a stolen base in the game. He did a little bit of everything, even making some great plays on defense. The bum right knee was really put to the test and it passed with flying colors.
This was especially great news for Cole Hamels who has suffered, along with the other starters, from a lack of run support. When he exited the game after pitching seven innings, Hamels and the Phillies were down by a 2-1 score. But Utley and Jimmy Rollins led a comeback in the eighth inning where three runs scored. Rollins singled, stole a base and Utley drove him in. Then Ryan Howard smacked a two-run double, putting the Phillies ahead 4-2.
The lead gave Hamels the opportunity to collect a win. And although Hamels struggled early, allowing a career-high five stolen bases, he settled down and allowed only two runs. The Phillies then had to depend on the bullpen to preserve the win.
Jose Contreras tossed a scoreless eighth inning in his second appearance since returning from the DL. And Ryan Madson took the ninth. This year, he has been a closing machine. Madson collected his 11th save in 11 opportunities to send the Phillies to bed with a 5-2 win.
The Phillies have taken the first two games in the series and will go for the sweep Sunday afternoon at 1:10pm. Vance Worley will get his fourth start of the year.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Just a short 12 hours after a stunning 19-inning victory, the Phillies won again, making it two wins in one day. The 10-4 victory today gave the Phils a 3-1 series win over the Reds.
The Phillies hoped that starting pitcher Cliff Lee could go deep into the game as nearly the entire bullpen was worked hard in the previous game. Lee did not disappoint, going eight innings. He did allow four runs on 10 hits and a walk, but he kept his team in the game in more ways than one.
Lee himself accounted for two of the Phillies 13 hits and he drove in three runs, two on a double and one more later on a single. There have been a number of role reversals in the past two days. Lee was the big slugger today and infielder Wilson Valdez was the winning pitcher in the game before.
Not so backwards was a three-run homer by Raul Ibanez in the third inning. Chase Utley also hit his first home run of the year today. Utley has now doubled and homered since coming off the DL on Monday and all is right with the world again.
Utley did appear to twist his right ankle / leg on a play today, which was a bit scary. However, he kept playing and it looks like we all have to wait until tomorrow to see if Utley bounces back okay.
As for the rest of the offense, some of the younger players are starting to hit, which is a good sign. The Reds starter Homer Bailey only lasted five innings and then rookie Daryl Thompson took over, making his major league debut. However, Domonic Brown and Michael Martinez each had a hit off Bailey, so it was not like they were just abusing the rookie. They hit a solid, veteran pitcher as well.
If the younger guys can keep stringing hits together like this, things may soon look-up for the Phillies offense.
And if injured players keep returning, like Jose Contreras did today, that is another big positive. Contreras pitched a scoreless ninth inning today and looks like he is ready to pick up where he left off, although Ryan Madson will remain the closer. And David Herndon was sent back to Triple-A to make room on the roster.
The Phillies will embark on a 9-game road trip next. They play the Mets in New York Friday night at 7:10pm; Roy Oswalt will pitch.
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
Players are dropping like flies in Philadelphia. Joe Blanton is the latest victim of this injury virus which seems to be spreading quicker than both the Swine and Bird Flu combined.
The diagnosis is medial impingement of the right elbow, which is Blanton’s throwing arm. Treatment for this injury can vary from rest and medication to surgery. There is no word yet on how Blanton’s treatment will play out.
Blanton now joins fellow teammates on the DL, including shortstop Chase Utley, closer Brad Lidge, back-up closer Jose Contreras, relief pitcher JC Romero and outfielder Domonic Brown.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz is also going to be inactive for several days while he recovers from a back issue. For now, he will not be placed on the DL and Brian Schneider will fill in.
Vance Worley has been called up from the AAA Iron Pigs to start tomorrow’s game against the Mets in place of Blanton. In four starts this year, Worley is 2-2 with a 2.78 ERA and 9.9 K/9. In 13 innings last year with the major league club, Worley was impressive with a 1.38 ERA and 12 strikeouts.
While this is a great opportunity for a young prospect, the news for Blanton is surprising. Blanton is coming off two straight quality starts after having a rough start to the season. He showed no signs of elbow issues Saturday against the Padres. Just when things were looking up for Blanton, the crap has suddenly hit the fan.
What was once a very experienced pitching staff for the Phillies has just gotten a whole lot younger very quickly. Having to depend on younger arms both in the starting staff and in the bullpen is a little nerve racking.
How a younger pitcher will respond to a stressful situation is the great unknown. Although in Worley’s case, he showed very good poise last year in his short time with the big club. That is a plus.
But this is a new year with new pressures, including having to keep pace with four of the best starters in the game in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. If Worley can stick to competing with himself, instead of the rest of this veteran staff, he should be just fine.
For Phillies fans, the way to look at all this carnage is simple. Perhaps the team is getting all the injuries out of the way early so everyone will be healthy late in the season. Or, is that too optimistic? Time will tell.
In the interim, just keep sending out that positive, happy energy and hope for the best.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography