Tagged: Jose Contreras

Offense Shows Signs Of Life In Final Game of Road Trip

The Phillies were finally able to salvage a win out of the 3-game series with the Diamondbacks today.  Cole Hamels allowed three runs on four hits and a walk in the 8-4 victory.

But the real news was the offense, which finally showed signs of life after scoring only 17 runs in the first six games of this road trip.

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Not surprisingly, Placido Polanco continued his hot streak, going 4-for-4 in the game today and scoring three times.  Polly has been the only player unaffected by this hitting slump.

Jimmy Rollins had his first multi-hit game since April 12th with an RBI-double and a 2-run homer.  Shane Victorino also had two hits and both he and Ryan Howard homered in the game as well.

But while most starters were productive, Wilson Valdez still looks like he has no clue at all at the plate, swinging at anything within nearly a 10-mile radius.  Raul Ibanez did not start and was 0-1 in a pinch hitting appearance.  In his place, John Mayberry Jr. had one hit and two walks.

The Phils got off to a fast start, putting up three runs in the first inning.  But then catcher Carlos Ruiz suddenly disappeared and Brian Schneider was brought in to catch in the bottom half of the first inning.  Later, it was reported that Ruiz had lower back discomfort.

So are the Phillies playing some weird, made-up game?  We can call it Pass The Problem.  Roy Oswalt maybe passed on his back pain to Ruiz?  And maybe Brad Lidge passed on his arm/shoulder/elbow pain to Jose Contreras?  Whatever it is, it need to stop!

As for Oswalt, he left the team today to head home to Mississippi where a tornado landed close to his home.  Last year, Oswalt’s parents had their home destroyed by a tornado.  So now, he is understandably concerned about his wife and kids who are near the disaster zone.  Hopefully, his family is fine.  There is no additional word yet on the situation.

There has also not been any news about whether Ruiz is seriously hurt or not.  I will keep you posted.

As for the rest of the team, they have a day off tomorrow before beginning the home stand against the Mets on Friday night at 7:05pm.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Sweeps And Strikeout’s Cannot Hide the Stench Of Phillies Offensive Offense

It has been an interesting few days for the Phillies.  On Sunday, they finished off a four-game sweep of the Padres, scoring only 12 runs total in all of those games.  An inside-the-park homer by Shane Victorino helped seal Sunday’s sweep.

That same day, closer Jose Contreras was sent to the DL with a strained right flexor pronator tendon in his elbow.  As a result, Michael Stutes joined the club to fill the roster spot and made his major league debut on Monday.

Also on Monday night, the Phillies five-game win streak ended with a 0-4 shut-out loss to the D-Backs.  Cliff Lee pitched an odd game where he struck out 12 batters but still allowed four runs in seven innings.  However, Lee’s performance was basically rendered obsolete as the Phils offense did absolutely nothing to help out.

The three-hit shutout by the Diamondbacks Ian Kennedy where he struck out 10 batters and did not issue a walk, matched a team record.  Only two other pitchers in team history tossed a shutout while allowing three or fewer hits with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks.  One was Curt Schilling on April 10, 2001 against the Dodgers (2 hits allowed, 10 SO) and the other, Randy Johnson, when he pitched a perfect game on May 18, 2004 at Atlanta (13 SO).

While that feat by Kennedy is very impressive, the Phillies offense certainly made it a little easier on him by swinging at bad pitches and watching good ones fly by.

The Phils offensive offense has not scored more than four runs in 14 consecutive games this season.  They currently rank 28th in baseball for runs scored since April 9th.

The worst offender amongst the starters has been Raul Ibanez, who is hitting just .179.  He should be benched in favor of John Mayberry Jr. until he figures things out.  Maybe at almost 39-year old, Ibanez needs to be in a platoon with Mayberry to get him more rest.

Team leader Jimmy Rollins is also not producing.  He got off to a hot start and has seriously cooled off.  Rollins has not had a multi-hit game since April12th.  He has batted .182 since that time.

 

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But a few players are not to blame.  The entire team is just not hitting, as if they all caught the same virus at once.  If the disease continues to spread, who will be the fall guy?  Last year it was hitting coach Milt Thompson.  Frankly, the players themselves need to be held accountable.  Play the bench guys until the starters find their swings.

While the bench is solid, it is not the long-term solution.  However, maybe benching a few guys will light a fire under them.  Because the Phillies have few other options.

Their payroll is maxed out.  The Phillies will never be a team that decides to pay the luxury tax along with the Yankees.  So as far as getting new blood into the line-up, they are out of options.  Besides, it is only April and no teams are ready to trade anyone yet.

Then again, it is only April.  The team is still winning, despite the offense, thanks to a solid starting staff.  But even the pitchers are going to get weary of the lack of support very soon.

So choose your most relaxing yoga pose and just keep telling yourself, “It’s only April.  Its only April…”

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Phillies Pitching Wins First Two Games In San Diego

On Thursday night, the Phillies snuck away with a 3-0 win against the Padres even though their offense is still anemic.  Home runs by Ben Francisco and Brian Schneider paved the way for Roy Oswalt to collect his third win of the year.

While Oswalt appeared to have no ill effects from last week’s back issue, he did wind up having to toss a lot of pitches to get through six innings.  It was 106 pitches, to be exact.  The bullpen held the lead despite each reliever allowing one hit and one walk each.


P4178660BO.jpgFriday night, Cole Hamels took the mound and looked great in front of his hometown crowd.  Usually comfy in San Diego, Hamels seemed to be relaxed and in control.  He was even one of the best batters of the night with two hits, although he had a brain freeze and got picked off first base once.

Hamels cruised through eight innings without allowing a run.  The Padres managed only four hits and three walks, one of which was intentional. 

As for the Phillies offense, there has been very little of that lately.  Two walks in the third inning led to a 2-RBI triple by Ryan Howard which accounted for the Phillies only two runs of the game.  Lucky for them, Hamels brought his A-game and kept the Padres off the scoreboard.

The ninth inning was handed to Ryan Madson.  Jose Contreras got a day off since he has pitched a lot lately.  Madson has struggled in the closer role in the past, but tonight he had no issues.  The Phillies went on to win by a score of 2-0.

There are two more games in the series.  Saturday’s game time is 8:35pm and Joe Blanton will pitch.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Phillies Salvage A Game Against The Brewers

The Phillies avoided a sweep at the hands of the Brewers this afternoon with a 4-3 win.  The 2-1 series loss was the first series loss of their season.


P4178730CC.jpgThe Phils offense went 17 straight innings in this series without scoring a run.  John Mayberry Jr. got the first hit of the game, but that did not happen until the 5th inning.  Then finally in the sixth, Wilson Valdez (photo) drew a walk and Shane Victorino singled.  Placido Polanco then smacked his second homer of the week to tie the game up at 3-3.

Cliff Lee had a slightly off day, although he kept the team in the game.  Through six innings, Lee allowed two earned runs on eight hits and a walk.  The third run was the result of a Valdez error.

Valdez made up for the error in the ninth, after a Victorino homer gave the Phillies the lead the inning before.  Valdez ran backwards after a fly ball that was over his head, reached out and snagged the ball.  That play saved closer Jose Contreras from a very difficult inning.  Contreras then struck out Ryan Braun to end the game.

The Phillies now travel to the West coast for a 4-game series with the Padres.  Thursday’s game starts at 10:05pm and Roy Oswalt, feeling better since having back issues, will pitch.  Phillies fans, prepare for some late nights in the coming week.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Phils Win A Close One Over The Fish

The Phillies celebrated the Phanatic’s birthday today.  Afterwards, they got to celebrate a win as well.  In a very close 3-2 victory over the Marlins, the Phillies saw their season record improve to 10-4 in front of the second largest regular season crowd since Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004.

All 45,716 people were treated to a birthday party for the Phanatic before the game began.  Local Philly mascots and some mascots from other MLB teams joined the party too.  The ZOOperstars also attended and yes, there was a cake made entirely of Tastycakes:

 

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As for the game, Placido Polanco got the Phillies off to fast start with a solo homer off Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez in the first inning.  A single by Raul Ibanez later knocked Jimmy Rollins in for a 2-0 lead.

 

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And that is how the score would remain for five innings as Cole Hamels looked very sharp.  He finally bent in the sixth, allowing two runs, but finished seven full innings without giving up a big inning.


041711 Hamels.jpgHamels’ performance was what kept the Phillies in the game as the hits were not coming easily.  Polanco would up with three hits and Ben Francisco had two.  That accounted for five of the Phillies eight hits total.

There were some odd and sloppy plays throughout the game by both teams.  Ibanez made a spectacular running catch in the fourth inning (see photo below).  But the next inning, he missed basically the exact same ball.  And Shane Victorino stumbled while on first base and got picked off in the fifth:


041711 errors.jpgThe third run for the Phillies was courtesy of a Marlins goof in the eighth.  Ryan Howard hit a fly ball to left and Logan Morrison somehow missed it as the sun appeared to interfere with his vision.  Francisco took advantage and singled and then Ibanez moved Howard to third on a ground out.  Carlos Ruiz put the RBI on the board with a sac fly, giving the Phils the 3-2 lead.

In the ninth, Jose Contreras did his best Brad Lidge imitation and scared the crap out of everyone in attendance with a circus-like save.  He walked the first batter and a few ground balls moved the runner to third.

As if this were not frightening enough, Contreras then walked Chris Coghlan, who then stole second base.  But Omar Infante then grounded out for the third out and Contreras got his third save of the year, although it was not pretty.

The Phillies split the 2 games with the Marlins as Saturday’s game has been rescheduled for 6/15.  On Monday night, they begin a 3-game series with the Brewers.  Game time is 7:05pm and Joe Blanton will pitch.

The full Photo Album from today’s game, including batting practice and the birthday bash, will be posted tomorrow afternoon.  Check back for that.

 

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Hamels Finds His Groove In Win Over Braves


0819 Hamelsb.jpgAfter a nightmarish start to his season, Cole Hamels was hoping to shrink his enormous 20.25 ERA today against the Braves.  In the final game of this three-game series, Hamels came out firing bullets.

For the Phillies offense, scratching out a few runs against the Braves starter Derek Lowe was not going to be an easy task.  So Hamels knew he had to be sharp.  As expected, a pitcher’s duel broken out in Atlanta.

Hamels was on a mission.  Through seven strong innings, he allowed only four hits, no runs and struck out eight batters.  Even better, Hamels looked relaxed and in control, able to work out of what little trouble he got into.

The offense did manage to post a few runs for Hamels, mostly due to a spectacular game from Shane Victorino.  Going 3-for-4 at the plate, Victorino hit two singles and a home run.  The other run scored when Jimmy Rollins hit into a double play with no outs, allowing Victorino to score in the fourth.

Carlos Ruiz also continued his hot streak with two hits.  Then in the ninth inning, Rollins got his first hit of the game, a double that landed him on third base after a Braves error.  Ryan Howard was able to get Rollins home on a ground ball out, giving the Phillies an insurance run and a 3-0 lead.

Jose Contreras entered in the ninth to save the game in what would be a very good test of his skills as a closer.  With rookie second baseman Michael Martinez making a few nice defensive plays plus good pitching, Contreras got the job done.

The Phillies won the series with the Braves two games to one.  After a day off on Monday, the Phillies will take on the Nationals in D.C. on Tuesday.

You Be The Judge

Totally off topic, have you seen the new MLB campaignAlways Epic“?  Released on March 31, 2011, Giants closer Brian Wilson stars in a video series that covers various adventures inside Wilson’s beard. 
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The
video with the tiny ninja’s is especially interesting.  Follow the link to watch it.

Back on February 22, 2011, I posted that exact idea on this MLBlogs site, except I used the beard of Raul Ibanez.  I was making a joke about the magical powers of the Ibanez beard and decided tiny ninja’s would be funny.  Apparently, MLB liked it as well:

So, coincidence or did MLB totally rip off my idea?  You be the judge.

Perhaps it is simply that great minds think alike.  In which case, I expect a job offer from MLB any day now.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

 

Offense Bails Out Blanton To Beat Mets

Early in tonight’s game, it looked like the Phillies had the Mets by the throat.  Ryan Howard was on fire.  By the fourth inning, Howard had two doubles and a home run.  Even pitcher Joe Blanton smacked a 2-RBI single in the third inning.


Howard Blanton.jpgBut as Howard set the field on fire, Blanton began to cool off on the mound.  After the Phillies supplied him with a 7-0 lead, Blanton allowed a two-run homer in the fourth.  In the fifth, the wheels all fell off as his pitches began to sail up and into the happy zone for the Mets.  Four runs later, Blanton was finally pulled.  A fifth run scored before the inning was over, which was charged to Blanton and tied the game 7-7.

I feel like I may have said this close to 100 times in the last several years but, if Joe Blanton starts giving up runs in the fifth inning, take him out!  If you look at Blanton’s stats from 2010 as an example, batters go from hitting .184 off him in the fourth inning to .305 in the fifth.  And it gets worse from there.

But this is a pattern with him that you do not really need stats to tell you.  It is pretty obvious.  Trouble for Blanton almost always starts in the fifth or sixth.  He began elevating his pitches at the start of the fifth tonight and that should have been like a siren going off for the Phils manager.

Charlie Manuel struggles with pulling Blanton because he hopes he can get through five to qualify for the win.  But Manuel needs to start getting tougher with him or come up with a solution.  You simply cannot allow a pitcher to blow a seven run lead.  When you see the tidal wave coming, get out of the way!

Luckily for the Phillies, the offense kept on picking away at the Mets.  Ben Francisco hit his second home run of the year.  And on three hits, Placido Polanco collected three RBI.  One of those RBI’s put the Phillies back in the lead in the bottom of the fifth.  Also helping out during the game, Pete Orr, who started at second, went two for three at the plate.  Howard ended his night going 4 for 4 with 2 RBI.

The bullpen held down the new lead for the Phillies.  Both J.C. Romero and Ryan Madson pitched scoreless innings, turning the game over to the new closer, Jose Contreras.  Getting the job done, Contreras got his first save of the year in a 10-7 win.

The final game of the series is tomorrow afternoon at 3:05pm.  Roy Halladay will try to pitch the Phillies to series win over the Mets.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*