Before the Phillies – Cubs game today, Placido Polanco returned from the DL. Juan Castro, who has not contributed too much lately, was released to make room. It is good to have Polly back! But instead of giving the team a spark, they kept playing like they were in a coma.
By the 9th inning, down 0-1, it looked like the sleeping Phils were about to lose their 3rd straight to the Cubs. But then a miracle occurred; the Cubs bullpen took pity on them and walked two batters. Then with two outs, Polly came through with a base hit and Brian Schneider tried to score. He should have been out by a mile, but the very kind Cubbies took pity again; an off-line throw home kept Schneider safe.
However, the Cubs bullpen was not fully satisfied with their charity. Pitcher Carlos Marmol tossed a wild pitch and Ross Gload scored. Then Marmol intentionally walked Ryan Howard and not-so-intentionally walked Jayson Werth to score another run for the Phillies.
Pitcher James Russell wanted in on this charitable action! So he gave up a single to Raul Ibanez, which scored the 4th run of the inning. Ok, maybe Ibanez had a little to do with the hit…
Actually, Ibanez had two hits in the game, as did Werth and Shane Victorino. But they left many, many men on base through 8 innings and could not score a run. Of course, the Phillies will take a win anyway they can get it, even if it is handed to them on a silver platter.
So they went on to win by a score of 4-1. However, something still seems to be very wrong with the Phillies. Is it a lack of enthusiasm? Or perhaps it is just another slump? No, I think not. Based on the evidence, I am going to have to say it must be brain damage. Take a look at the facts from today’s game:
– Victorino got thrown out at second base…twice. Once, he was stealing and once he was trying to stretch a single into a double. Conclusion: brain damage.
– Wilson Valdez forgot to cover first base on a Cubs bunt and allowed the runner to get safely to first while a run scored. And later in the game, Valdez dropped a pop-up. Conclusion: brain damage.
– Cole Hamels pitched an AMAZING game, allowing only 1 run in 7 innings. Yet, the offense did NOTHING to help him out. He got a no decision. Conclusion: brain damage.
– The Phillies lost the first two games of this series to a team that sucks. Sorry Cubs fans, no disrespect, but this team is not good and is now 10 games under .500. Conclusion: You guessed it, brain damage.
So the question now remains, will this 9th inning comeback today be the cure for their brain damage? They swept the Reds going into the All-Star break, with 3 of the 4 wins coming in extra innings. They returned from the break and dropped two to the Cubs. So the Reds series did not have a huge impact. Will today’s game propel them forward? We shall see…
Roy Halladay will be the next Phillies pitcher to pray for some runs. Game time tomorrow is 8:05pm.
Howard & Pinella photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Roy Halladay has had a few adventurous outings this year. Tonight against the Braves, the only adventure was a solo homer to Chipper Jones in the first inning. It was smooth sailing after that. Halladay pitched his 7th complete game of the year, throwing only 93 pitches to defeat the Braves. He looked unsinkable.
So all Halladay needed was a little offense. Greg Dobbs came into tonight’s game batting only .167. Even after spending some time in the minors, Dobbs could not seem to find his stroke. Tonight, it looks like he might have turned a corner.
With a 0-1 deficit in the 6th inning, Dobbs hit a 2-run bomb to center. It was only his 2nd home run of the year; the 1st one was way back on April 25th. Dobbs ended up with 2 hits in the game.
The Phillies tried to tack on to the 2-1 lead in the 8th inning. After a couple of singles, manager Charlie Manuel put on a rare suicide squeeze with Raul Ibanez on third. But Juan Castro missed the bunt and Ibanez was caught between third and home. Castro made up for the goof by hitting an RBI single, putting the Phils up 3-1.
As it turns out, Halladay did not need the extra run, but he certainly did not mind it. The Phillies inch one game closer to the Braves with this win and will have to try and carry the momentum into the next 2 games. Cole Hamels will pitch tomorrow night; game time is 7:05pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Jimmy Rollins was officially activated off the DL today for the second time this year and will play tonight against the Indians. The Phillies are hoping that J-Roll will kick-start this team and give them a much needed boost of energy.
Both Juan Castro and Wilson Valdez, who filled for Rollins, were rewarded for their solid performances by being kept on the roster. Instead, the Phillies designated Greg Dobbs for assignment. Dobbs was only 1 for 25 pinch hitting this year and is batting just .152, so this is not a huge shock. If Dobbs clears waivers and no one claims him, he will probably be sent to AAA to try to find his swing again.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz was supposed to be out for only a few days after being hit in the head with a broken bat on Friday. But after a series of tests, the Phillies decided to put him on the DL, retroactive to June 19th. This freed up another roster spot which was given to LHP Mike Zagurski. In 2007, Zagurski pitched in 25 games for the Phillies and after that, he underwent Tommy John surgery. Working his way back to the majors, Zagurski has an ERA of 2.35 pitching for AAA this year in 30.2 innings of work.
Right-hander Scott Mathieson was optioned to AAA Lehigh Valley after just 2/3 of an inning for the Phillies where he allowed 2 runs on 3 hits.
In other news, former Phillies catcher Darren Daulton will be inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame on Friday, August 6 before that evening’s game. Daulton played 14 years for the Phils, went to 3 All-Star games and is the only catcher in Phillies history with two 100-RBI seasons. Congratulations to Darren; he is very deserving!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Once again, things did not go well for the Phillies tonight. The way they have been playing, most expected them to struggle against the Yankees. But with Roy Halladay on the mound, you had to figure tonight would be their best chance at a win. No such luck…
In the first of a 3-game series in New York, the Phillies went down in flames by a score of 8-3. Halladay had a very bad day, allowing 6 runs, including 3 homers. Halladay has only given up 3 homers in a game nine times in his career; the last 3 times have been against the Yankees. Visably upset at the home plate umpire in the second inning,
Halladay nearly imploded while giving up a triple that scored 2 runs. The next inning was worse as he surrendered 2 homers and 3 runs. Halladay had trouble containing his emotions tonight and it hurt him.
The Phillies offense did not help either as they put forth a real effort in only one inning. With the bases loaded and no outs in the 4th inning, the Phils scraped 3 runs off CC Sabathia with a bunch of singles and a force out that scored a run. They should have scored more, but Juan Castro was fanned on a 96mph fastball and Carlos Ruiz followed up with a weak ground out. And after that inning, the offense went right back to sleep.
Manager Charlie Manuel tried to shake up the lineup by flip-flopping Placido Polanco and Chase Utley, with Utley batting second. Utley did have 2 hits in the game, but still does not look like his old self. Todd Zolecki tweeted today, “”Asked Chase Utley before the game if he’s healthy. “As far as I know I’m healthy, yes,” he said. “That’s cryptic,” I said. He did not laugh.”” Read what you would like into that, but it does seem that Utley may be having another mystery issue.
The bottom line here is, the offense has shown no signs of life. The Phils have been so awful, I think they may have better success with brain surgery than hitting a baseball. And the pitching has suddenly taken a crap, as witnessed tonight and also by the 9 runs each allowed by Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer in their last starts. And when Halladay is allowing 6 runs a game, you know that things are very, very bad.
Even worse, the next two starters scheduled to pitch are Moyer and the wildly inconsistent Kyle Kendrick…against the Yankees. If it were the Orioles, maybe they might stand a chance. Instead, this match-up looks like a disaster waiting to happen. Hope that the veteran Moyer can rebound and inject some life into this team! Game time Wednesday night is 7:05pm.
Happy Bunny by Jim Benton
After the amazing perfect game by Roy Halladay yesterday, today’s game against the Marlins was bound to be disappointing. But for the Phillies to fall 0-1 to the Fish with their 5th shut-out in the last 8 games is not what anyone expected.
Every player is struggling to hit the ball right now. Charlie Manuel may want to give Dr. House a call to either diagnose the problem or provide some sort of magic pill, because no one seems to have an explanation for this awful offensive output. Jayson Werth wore the Golden Sombrero, striking out 4 times today and looked very, very bad doing it. Ben Francisco played left in place of Raul Ibanez and went 0 for 4 and also missed a fly ball he should have caught, which bounced off his glove. Francisco is batting .194. Juan Castro, who is doing a fine job in the field, cannot seem to buy a hit. He went 0 for 4 as well today and is hitting .253.
Placido Polanco had an MRI on his sore elbow which showed a “contusion,” basically a bruise. He is flying back to Philly to see the team doctor. So, Polanco has been out of the line-up for 2 games now with no word on when he may return. This also does not help.
But mainly, the Phillies are just swinging at bad pitches. They look befuddled at the plate. And Jamie Moyer did a great job pitching today, making the lack of offense even more glaring. Moyer gave up just 1 run over 6 innings and again, the bullpen held the opposition right there. Watching Moyer and all Phillies pitchers getting no support, Halladay is probably counting his blessings right that the team scored him a run yesterday.
The Phillies have 3 games in Atlanta next. The Braves have some really good pitching and if the Phils do not bust out of this slump immediately, the Braves are going to pounce right into first place, as they are only 1 game behind. Game time tomorrow is 1:05pm on Memorial Day.
Moyer photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Roy Halladay became only the 20th pitcher in major league baseball history to throw a PERFECT GAME tonight against the Marlins. In Phillies history, it was only the 2nd perfect game ever with the first being tossed on Father’s Day on June 21, 1964 by Jim Bunning.
Halladay mowed down Marlins all night, striking out 11 batters. Carlos Ruiz was in sync with Halladay throughout the game, calling all the right pitches. And the defense behind Halladay was amazing, despite missing several key players.
Placido Polanco sat out for the 2nd game in a row and Juan Castro, who does not play third very often, filled in for him. Oddly enough, Castro recorded the final out, which turned out to be a very difficult play. Off the bat, it looked like the ball might squirt through a hole in the infield and ruin the night. But Castro did not let it get past him and made an incredible catch, pivot and throw to first just in time to seal the deal.
After getting beat up in his last outing with 6 runs allowed, Halladay showed what he is made of by bouncing back with this historical performance. The perfect game is such a rare and incredible feat. What a special day for the Halladay, the Phillies and fans of baseball everywhere. Amazing.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies have played so badly this past week, during last night’s game, I found myself quivering in a corner reciting Dr. Seuss poems while clawing at the walls. I do not like green eggs and ham; I do not like when out hitters get jammed. I am not happy when Howard strikes out; Not scoring runs makes me want to shout!
Find me a white padded room, please. This could get ugly…
The Phillies have scored just 3 runs in their last 36 innings played, all of which came in one game. The second straight shut-out against the Mets puts them into a 4 game losing streak. Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that when Jimmy Rollins went back on the DL, the bottom fell out?
While Rollins does propel this team in many ways, missing one player should not be shutting them down. Their bats, however, do seem to be weighing them down. Every Phillies hitter, except for maybe Placido Polanco, looks like they are swinging 30-foot telephone poles instead of bats.
And the line-up last night did not help. Carlos Ruiz sat due to a shoulder strain and Brian Schneider in his place, could not seems to throw out any runners. He even dropped a ball while trying to make the transfer from glove to hand to attempt a pick-off. The rest of the defense looked sleepy as well, like everyone was moving in slow motion.
But with Ruiz down, why then does manager Charlie Manuel choose to sit two other starters? Both Raul Ibanez and Juan Castro, J-Roll’s back-up, were given days off, not for injury, but for rest. So, three starters were on the bench while the Phillies went down 0-5 to the Mets. Not good timing, if you ask me.
And speaking of managerial decisions, has no one else noticed that Joe Blanton can still only make it through 5 innings of fairly clean pitching? He has given up tons of runs in the 6th innings of games pretty consistently so far this year. He is behind schedule due to being on the DL at the start of the season. And so for at least the third time, I ask WHY is he still being pushed when he does not appear ready to go past 5 innings? Should he be ready by now? Probably. Only the Phillies coaching staff can figure this one out and they need to before his next start.
The Phillies have one more shot at the Mets and seriously need to avoid getting swept. Cole Hamels will need to pitch a good game and someone had better put those telephone poles away and give the Phillies back their bats. Game time is 7:10pm.
And if the game sucks again, why not log-on and VOTE for the Phillies All-Stars? Assuming they will snap out the funk at some point, many of them deserve a spot on the roster :O) Vote up to 25 times a day, per email address.