Tagged: Juan Castro

One Hit Wonder


Utley closet.jpgMany Phillies fans are left wondering today where our team has gone.  Because the one hit wonders from Saturday night’s loss to the Red Sox must be imposters.  Seriously?  ONE hit all game?  Wow.  Who took my Phillies, locked them in a closet and put these schmoe’s on the field?  I am not amused.

But the bad day for the Phillies batters had much to do with both the Red Sox defense and the pitching performance of Daisuke Matsuzaka (say that 5 times fast).  He was pitching a no-hitter through 7 1/3 innings until Juan Castro, our hero, hit a bloop single into no-man’s land.  Many Phillies, like Jayson Werth, hit the ball hard but they kept hitting right at the Sox fielders.  Matsuzaka caught a Werth liner that whizzed right at him basically in self-defense.

As for the Phillies pitching, Kyle Kendrick lasted only 4 2/3 innings, allowing 5 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks.  The only Phillies pitcher to have gone less than 5 innings this year was…well, actually, it was Kendrick.  So, at least he sucks on a consistent basis.  There is comfort in that….not.

Jimmy Rollins was put back on the DL on Saturday, which is why Castro was in the game to save them from the embarrassment of a no-hitter.  J-Roll has a Grade 1 strain in the same calf that he was on the DL for most of the season so far.  GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says it is not as serious as the first one, but I guess we won’t know until the 15 days is up.

So the Phillies still have a shot to win the series with Roy Halladay on the mound today.  Game time is 1:35pm; I will be there and hopefully, I can get some photos before the rain comes down.  Check back for that later.

 

Utley photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Complete Game Loss

Roy Halladay did his usual yesterday against the Pirates.  He pitched a complete game, however, the Phillies offense gave him no support and he lost the game despite the effort which included 132 pitches.  With the misty cold weather and the Flyers playoff game going on next door, the entire stadium was dead.  The Phillies offense followed suit and played like they were asleep in this 1-2 loss.

So the most exciting thing that happened all night besides Halladay’s 9 inning, 2-run game was watching actor and Delaware native, Ryan Phillippe, attempt to throw the ceremonial first pitch.  He drilled it into the ground nowhere near the plate.  I will post photos of that later. For now, here is a quick shot of Phillippe and Halladay:

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So while the Phillies batters collected just 6 hits, three of which were from Ryan Howard, and just 1 run, the defense behind Halladay looked sleepy as well.  Placido Polanco and Juan Castro made back-to-back errors in the 5th inning, extending Halladay’s work load.  Then in the 6th inning, Jayson Werth made a great throw home to catch Lastings Milledge trying to score. He would have been out by a mile, and it looked like he was, until the ball flew off into the grass.  Carlos Ruiz was so busy making the tag, he forgot to catch the ball first:

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Milledge did his job by plowing into Ruiz to break up the play.  Earlier in the game, Werth had the chance to do the same when the 3rd base coach sent him home after a Castro single.  He probably should not have been sent as the throw beat him there, but instead of sliding and trying to knock the ball out of the catcher’s glove, Werth, quite politely, walked slowly into the tag.  The Phillies failure to score there combined with the dropped ball by Ruiz turned out to be the difference in the game.

Here are a few other plays from the game…check out the shot of Polanco with both legs levitating off the ground…weird:

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So this game was a huge waste of a great performance from Halladay and on his bobblehead giveaway night, too.  Sad.  The good news is, I got my bobblehead and stayed mostly dry, which is what I had wished for before the game.  Perhaps I should have also wished for some offense?  Oh well…next time.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

Jamie Moyer will pitch later tonight as the Cubs come into town for another short 2-game series.  Game time is 7:05pm.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

Phillies Sweep The Brewers

While the Brewers have not been playing well, having lost an entire home stand and all of their last 8 games, the Phillies did not take pity.  Instead, they put a beating on the Brew Crew, winning all 3 games of the series.

The offense was not as potent last night as the previous two games where they scored 19 runs combined, but the 4 runs yesterday were enough.  Starting pitcher Cole Hamels helped himself out at the plate with an RBI double in the second inning.  Placido Polanco and Wilson Valdez had one run knocked in each.  The 4th run was a bit more unconventional.  Chase Utley batted with men on 1st and 3rd in the 8th and swung at an awful, in the dirt pitch, striking out.  But the catcher missed the bouncing ball and Utley was safe at first base while Shane Victorino scored from 3rd.  Weird.

Because Hamels pitched a good game, those 4 runs brought the Phillies the 4-2 win.  Hamels allowed those 2 runs to the Brewers in the 6th inning by giving up 2 solo homers.  But before that, he was mowing the batters down with his fast ball-change-up combo.  Hamels made it through 6 2/3 innings with the bullpen holding down the lead.  JC Romero got the save and looked like he is back in top shape now since his off-season surgery.


Hoover2.jpgThe Phillies should get some good news today as it looks like Jimmy Rollins will be coming off the DL.  This is sad for Wilson Valdez who has been filling in for both Rollins and the still injured Juan Castro at short stop.  Valdez did not start out well, but he ended by going 5 for 15 in this series with 2 RBI.  And the 3rd back-up catcher, Paul Hoover, went 5 for 10 with 2 RBI and 6 runs scored in the series.  With two 3rd-string players performing so well, it makes you wonder if just putting on the Phillies uniform has some magical powers?  Abracadabra,  you are a major league player!  Poof!

While that may or may not be the case, the Phillies will take this kind of output from their back-ups anyway they can get it.  The Pirates are up next for a two game series.  Kyle Kendrick pitches tonight and game time is 7:05pm.  Go Phillies!

 

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Doubleheader, Injuries and Sign Stealing Mania

After the Phillies – Rockies rain out on Tuesday, a day-night doubleheader was scheduled today and things did not go well for the Phils.  First, the Roy Halladay magic fizzled a bit in the 4-3 loss.  Second, the injuries are continuing to pile up.  The game going into extra innings did not help either.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz left the game in the 4th inning with a right knee injury.  Back-up Brian Schneider is already on the DL, which means the Phillies are now onto their 3rd string catcher, Paul Hoover.  Not only that, but now he will have to play both games of the double header.  The Phillies are also short one spot in the bullpen as Brad Lidge flew back to Philadelphia to see the team doctor about his eternally injured elbow.  This is more tragic news for a doubleheader during which the first game went long.


P4057301.jpgHalladay could not save the bullpen for the second game as he struggled to get through 6 1/3 innings.  10 hits and 3 runs later (2 earned), Halladay was pulled from the game.  The biggest nightmare for the Phillies was Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo.  This guy is a career .242 hitter, batting .240 coming into this game.  Can someone then explain to me HOW Olivo goes 5 for 5 with the game winning walk-off homer in the 10th inning?  Wow.

The defense did Halladay no favors by committing 3 errors in the field, although I think the scorekeeper only recorded two.  Give the scorekeeper an error too then; why should he miss out on the fun?  So, Chase Utley watched a ball roll right under his glove, which must have a hole in it.  Jayson Werth bobbled a ball in the outfield…twice in the same play.  And Ryan Howard bounced a ball to second, which should have been handled by Wilson Valdez but wasn’t.

Then again, Utley, Howard and Valdez made up almost the entire offense for the Phillies with 3,3 and 2 hits respectively.  Placido Polanco had 2 hits in the game and no errors, so I guess he gets two thumbs up for the day.

So the series is now tied 1-1 and game 3 will begin at 8:40pm.  The Phillies will rely on Jamie Moyer, who pitched a complete game shut-out in his last game.  They will need him to go long in order to preserve the weak bullpen.

Stealing Signs

There has been a big to-do today over the allegations that the Phillies are stealing signs from opposing catchers.  The Rockies complained about it after Monday’s loss, saying that bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer was using binoculars during the 2nd inning and Shane Victorino was on the bullpen phone.  MLB has issued a “warning,” stating that there was no conclusive evidence.


Sign Stealing.jpgAccording to Victorino, he called to tell Billmeyer to put the binoculars away after the Rockies complained and manager Charlie Manuel spoke to the umpire.  You can see this does match the sequence of the events on the game tape.  Billmeyer uses the binoculars to watch the action and check on his catchers.

So, answer me this.  HOW is Billmeyer supposed to relay the signs in a split second all the way from the bullpen to the batter?  It is impossible.  Think about how fast things go from giving a sign to throwing the pitch.  The batter doesn’t have time to look to the dugout for a sign once he is in the box.  Again, it is impossible.  Billmeyer was likely watching the opposition in order to scout the pitcher; the same thing he can do by watching the video after the game, only doing it during the game is a time saver.

Besides, are some baseball fans and the media really convinced that no one tries to steal signs?  If so, they are delusional.  I really don’t care who steals signs.  It is a competition and teams will take any advantage they can get.  Trying to figure out what the opposing team is going to do is part of the game. 

A guy standing on second can read the signs from the catcher and relay it to the batter.  No one complains about this.  Base coaches use stop watches to time pitchers in order to gain an advantage for stealing bases.  No one complains about this either.  A-Rod yells for a pop-up when he is running the bases, not fielding.  Ok, so people did complain about that one…

But if teams are so concerned about the sign stealing, then they need to do a better job preparing and coming up with signs that are difficult to figure out or that change frequently.  Or, do like the Phillies have done in the past and change signs or don’t use them at all.  This is a matter of better managing your team and ensuring your pitchers and catchers are all on the same page.

In this case, there is no way the bullpen coach could have sent a sign fast enough to get to the batter.  Even if it was possible, whether it is a fast ball or a slider coming in, the batter still has to hit the ball.  Same as a runner trying to steal base; he still has to execute.  But it is not against the rules of baseball to steal signs by non-electronic means.  If people are unhappy about it, then the rules should be revised. 

So, should the Phillies now accuse the Rockies of stealing signs since they collected 10 hits off Roy Halladay?  Frankly, I do not care.  Kudos to the Rockies for hitting our ace and shame on them for whining about something that did not happen just because they were upset about losing the game.   This is a practice that has gone on for over a century amongst all MLB teams.  I think we all have better things to worry about; of course, that is just one gals humble opinion ;o)

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

9th Inning Rally In Colorado

The first game of this Phillies – Rockies series got off to a good start thanks to some heavy hitting in the 9th.  The game remained close for the first 8 innings, with Kyle Kendrick allowing 4 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks through 6 of those.  Kendrick struggled to get that far and has still not been able to show any consistency in his starting role after a very good game his last time out.


Thumbnail image for P2232834 Victorino.JPGBut Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz were not going to allow those 4 runs to ruin the day.  Victorino did an amazing job in the lead-off spot, reaching base 5 out of 6 at-bats with 2 triples and 3 walks.  Ruiz went 4 for 5 in the game with 2 RBI, one of which was a solo homer to give the Phillies a lead.

JC Romero pitched 1/3 of the 7th inning and tied the game up again by allowing 1 run on 2 hits and a walk.  David Herndon finished the inning, getting some help from Chase Utley who turned an amazing double play.  Utley dove for the ball and tossed it to Wilson Valdez from the ground using only his glove.  Valdez relayed to 1st and ended the inning.

Speaking of Valdez, this kid is really struggling at the plate.  As the back-up to the back-up at short-stop, he has hit into a double play in each of the last 4 games, killing rallies everywhere he goes.  In this game, he went 0-4 and is now batting .152.  So, where is Juan Castro?  He has been out nursing a minor calf injury and last played on May 5th, until he came in last night for defense in the 9th.  I guess being put in for 1 inning last night is a good sign, but he had better be backing in hitting shape soon because Valdez is not getting it done.

So the 9th inning for the Phillies turned into a big rally to help cap off the win.  Ryan Howard got hit with a pitch to start it off and the Rockies later intentionally walked Raul Ibanez.  The super-hot Ruiz stepped up and whacked a single to break the 5-5 tie as Howard scored.  Then to put the exclamation mark on the evening, Ross Gload nailed a pinch-hit 3-run homer to give the Phillies the 9-5 win.

Jose Contreras closed the game in the bottom of the 9th.  Brad Lidge was unavailable due to soreness in his elbow…again.  He just came off the DL and is already having issues in the same elbow that was surgically repaired in the off-season.  This is not a good sign.  Could it be a foretelling of things to come?  Let us hope not.

 The Phillies will send Roy Halladay to the mound tonight in game 2 of the series.  Game time is 8:40pm.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Kendrick: Zero To Hero


Kendrick hero.jpgIn tonight’s start against the Cardinals, Kyle Kendrick went from zero to hero.  Kendrick pitched well in Spring Training, but since the season began he has had just one good start.  After a clean 7 innings today with no runs, 6 hits and 2 walks, can this Superhero hold onto his cape?  Or will Kendrick morph into an evil villain for his next start?

Consistency is the key.  Right now, Kendrick is a one-hit wonder.  He is going to need to repeat this success next time out if the Phillies are going to buy into the Superhero façade.

The offense gave Kendrick some runs to work with, but they did not start churning them out until the 4th inning.  Placido Polanco smashed a 2-run homer and Shane Victorino hit a solo shot in the 6th.  Their 4th run came after Juan Castro singled and Greg Dobbs drove in Wilson Valdez, the pinch runner, with a long double.  The bad news is, Castro limped off the field and that is why Valdez was put in.  No word yet on how serious the injury may be, but it appears to be a hamstring strain.

After the 7th inning, the game was left to the Phillies bullpen.  The pen has not been good so far this year.  Danys Baez pitched a clean 8th and Jose Contreras was handed the 9th.  With his mother in the stands whom he had not seen since 2003, Contreras had some inspiration.  They had been separated since Contreras defected from Cuba and until this home stand, she had never seen her son play in person.

So it was a special night for Contreras, being able to close out the game, and he rose to the occasion.  He sent the Cards down in order to hand the 4-0 shut-out victory to the Phillies.  It was also Kendrick’s first win of the year.

It will be a quick turn-around for the Phillies as tomorrow’s 4-game finale starts at 1:05pm.  Roy Halladay will face ex-Phillie Kyle Loshe.  Halladay will be pitching for a series win and his 6th individual win of the season. 

 

Head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Hamels Is Back In Win Over Cards

Could the Cole Hamels of 2008 really be back?  In his start tonight against the Cardinals, it certainly looked like it.  Hamels pitched 8 innings of shut-out ball, even getting out of a bases-loaded jam against the amazing Albert Pujols. 
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Well, at least for today, Hamels has earned his wings back.  The real test will be his next start and whether or not he can show consistency and repeat an outstanding performance. 

Hamels had to be outstanding as the Cards pitcher was equally as impressive.  The Phillies managed to squeeze out one run against Adam Wainwright.  After a Raul Ibanez triple, Carlos Ruiz hit a long sac fly to score the only run of the game.  And Jayson Werth was able to extend his streak of reaching base safely in every game this year, which has not been done by a Phillie since 1920.

However, the 9th inning took an interesting turn.  Hamels was primed and ready to close out this ballgame himself when a fan did the unthinkable in such an important and tense situation.  Another idiot ran onto the field for the second day in a row to delay the start of the inning and it threw Hamels right off his game.  Hamels had to throw warm-up pitches while he waited for the moron to be dealt with.  By the time he got started with the real pitches, Hamels allowed two doubles in a row to tie up the game 1-1.

I hope the Philly police tasered this guy too.  And maybe later, the real fans can all get together and plan a proper tar and feathering for this bonehead.  This behavior is just shameful and gives the good fans a bad rap.

So Hamels was pulled without recording an out in the 9th and the Phillies would have to rely on Brad Lidge to maintain the 1-1 tie.  Lidge actually got the job done, putting to rest questions about how he would perform after a long stint on the DL.  On to the bottom of the 9th…

Ryan Howard walked, which is awesome.  But Werth struck out on a very bad pitch…not awesome.  Ibanez flew out to center and then Juan Castro stepped to the plate.  Castro was not good tonight at the plate; he was 0-3 at this point, having grounded into a double play and leaving 4 men on base.  Well, make it 0 for 4 as he grounded out to send the game into extra innings.


1 Pre-game.jpgBut just when things were looking dreary, thank goodness for CHOOOOCH!!!  Carlos Ruiz popped a wall-off homer to center to win it in the 10th!  Whooo Hooo!!!!  Shane Victorino and Greg Dobbs put the exclamation mark on the evening with double shaving cream pies to the face of Ruiz.  :O)

Game 3 with the Cardinals starts tomorrow night at 7:05pm.  Kyle Kendrick will be pitching for his Major League life.  If he has another horrible outing, the Phillies may be forced to look for another solution.  Cross your fingers!

Here is a quick injury update:  Ryan Madson and his self-inflicted broken toe will be out for a minimum of 2 months.  The break was so bad, the doctor had to operate and insert pins to stabilize the fracture.  For a bullpen that is already in bad shape, this is not good.  Starter JA Happ is also not expected back very soon; it will be the end of May at the earliest.  Same goes for Jimmy Rollins.  May should be another interesting month.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*