Tagged: Juan Castro

A Wild Win In The West

The Phillies started tonight’s game with the hope of winning and avoiding a 3-game sweep at the hands of the Giants.  More than once, it looked like the Phils were going down in flames.  And more than once, it looked like they might pull it out.  It is hard to believe how it all went down:  

The game stayed very close until the 6th inning when pitcher Cole Hamels fell apart.  Having pitched very well through 5 innings, striking out 10 batters and allowing just 1 run, seeing him self-destruct in the 6th was hugely disappointing.

Hamels had the bases loaded and 2 outs and walked a run home.  Any good pitcher in this situation, 2-outs, bases loaded and a full count, has to be able to throw a strike.  The walk gave the Giants 2-1 lead and all the momentum.  The next batter whacked a single to right, which scored 2 more runs and nearly sentenced the Phillies to a 3-game sweep.


Game 3 Aug 1 (28)a.jpgBecause the Phillies offense has been completely non-existent recently, you had to figure there was no way they could climb out of the 1-4 hole against back-to-back Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum.  In fact, if you skipped the next 2 innings, you did not miss anything.  Well, except maybe some additional humiliation imparted upon the Phils by Lincecum.

Ryan Howard hit him hard twice, once for a homer and once for a double. The only other hit for the Phillies off Lincecum was a blooper into right from Placido Polanco.  Do not even worry about men left on base for this one through 8 innings; they didn’t have anyone on base to leave there.

But after Lincecum walked a batter with 1 out in the 9th, the Giants put in their closer, Brian Wilson. 
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This move helped out Chase Utley as he knocked a single for the 1,000 hit of his career.  Congrats to Chase! 

But Utley was not the only one to benefit from this bonehead move.  The Phillies loaded the bases with 2 outs and Wilson on the mound.  Jayson Werth stepped to the plate and smashed a 3-run double to right to tie the game up at 4-4!  Giants fans got real quiet, real fast.

But hey, no worries for the Giants, right?  Because the Phillies went ahead and countered that bonehead move with one of their own.  That’s right, we’ll see your Brian Wilson and raise you Ryan Madson.  In save situations, Madson has not been good…at all.  Despite that fact, Madson pitched the 10th inning after the Phillies had finally taken the lead by a score of 5-4 on a wild pitch.  And what does Madson do?  Well, I figure maybe he felt bad for Wilson blowing the save for the Giants so he went ahead and blew the save for the Phillies.  Nice of him to share the humiliation.

So it was on to the 11th inning with a 5-5 tie.  Raul Ibanez started the inning off with a single and moved up to 2nd on a sac bunt.  Our back-up, back-up short stop, Wilson Valdez, doubled to score him on a ball that bounced off the outfield wall just over the head of left fielder Eugenio Velez.  And the adventure for Velez did not end there.  Shane Victorino hit a routine fly ball to him, but Velez one-handed the catch and the ball bounced off his glove, allowing an insurance run to score for the Phils.  Can you say “embarrassing?”  Ouch.

Now the Phillies have a 7-5 lead and send sometimes bullpen guy, sometimes starter, Nelson Figueroa to the mound.  He can now add sometimes closer to his resume…although the save did not come easy.  Juan Uribe wound up with a single on a hit ball that ricocheted off Figueroa’s leg, allowing a runner to advance to 3rd.  That runner then scored when the next batter doubled.  The lead was down to one run with 1 out in the inning and runners on 2nd and 3rd.

Velez, still not done with his extra innings adventure, hit into a fielder’s choice which Ryan Howard fielded and threw home to get Uribe out at the plate.  Catcher Brian Schneider did an amazing job blocking the plate with his glove and Uribe basically tagged himself out.  The next batter grounded out to end the game and Figueroa picks up the first save of his career.  Unbelievable.

This win gave the Phillies 4 wins and 5 losses on this road trip; certainly not great, but it could have been worse.  The Phillies have the day off tomorrow to prepare for the 3-game home series against the Mets.  And now, I need a Valium…whew!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Missing: Phillies Bats


missing bats.jpgLast seen on April 16, 2010 in Philadelphia, PA, the Phillies bats have mysteriously gone missing.  Weighing around 33 ounces and measuring about 40 inches in length, these large wooden sticks may be seen in either a tan or black color with the “Phillies” name engraved in them.  If you happen to see these missing bats, please notify authorities at 1-888-WECANTHIT.

The Phillies have gone from the best offense in the league during the first 10 days of the season to one of the worst.  Where, oh where, have those little bats gone?  Even a very hittable pitcher with an 8.16 ERA like the Giants Todd Wellemeyer could not cure the slump.  The Phils managed only 2 runs in the game and went only 1 for 5 with runners in scoring position.

Ryan Howard had two hits in the game, but one was spoiled as he did not hustle on his way to second, did not slide and got tagged out in an embarrassing play. For the rest of the starters only Chase Utley and Jayson Werth had a hit with Raul Ibanez picking up an RBI on a sacrifice. The rest of the evening was more of the same: nothing.

There was one spectacular defensive play in the game; Juan Castro and Utley turned a double play like you have probably never seen before.  Castro dove for a ball that was ready to scoot past him up the middle, but he snagged it and in the same motion, while lying on the ground, he tossed the ball with his glove up to Utley.  Utley barehanded the ball and threw to first in time for the second out.  Amazing.

But sadly, that was the end of the “amazing” for the day.  Jamie Moyer did what we normally expect of him and allowed 4 runs on 10 hits over 6 innings.  Chad Durbin gave the Giants two more insurance runs in the 7th inning on a walk and 2 hits.  Last time out, Durbin was great.  We just never know what to expect from this bullpen.  Although, JC Romero did come back strong from his last outing and pitched a scoreless, hitless 8th inning.

But the pitching did not really matter; with no offense, they cannot be expected to win.  And having to face Tim Lincecum this afternoon is not going to help bust the slump either.  The Phillies dropped out of first place for the first time this year with no signs of improvement on the horizon.  Look for a sweep by the Giants in San Francisco today…bust out your sense of humor.  You will need it.

 

Photoshopping by Jenn

 

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

 

 

The See-Saw Ride From Hell

Have you ever noticed how a player on your favorite team seems like an Angel in the right uniform?  
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But when he goes to another team, he becomes the Devil.  Such is the case with Rodrigo Lopez who pitched for the Phillies last year and went to the Diamondbacks for 2010.  Lopez started the game against the Phillies today and pitched 6 innings, allowing 6 runs.  So, while we thank him for the 6 runs, sadly, he would only have earned his wings back if he gave us about 15 runs.

Because it looked like the Phillies were going to need 15 runs to win this one.  Kyle Kendrick started out pitching really well, but that only lasted 4 innings.  By the 5th, Kendrick had returned to his old ways, leaving balls way up in the hitter’s happy-zones and before you knew it, 5 runs had crossed the plate.  Kendrick was pulled after 5 innings and his outing turned into a huge disappointment.

The offense tried to keep pace and by the top of the 6th, they had gone ahead of the D-Backs by a score of 6-5.  Greg Dobbs hit a 2-run homer in the first, Ross Gload had 2 hits and an RBI and Carlos Ruiz gave them the lead with a 2-out, 2-run single. 

The line-up tonight was a bit odd, with Gload and Dobbs in the 1 & 2 spots and Wilson Valdez at short stop.   Juan Castro is still nursing a sore hamstring;  Shane Victorino sat in order to re-group as he has not been hitting lately; and Dobbs took 3rd base for Placido Polanco.  Polly has not looked the same since getting hit in the elbow with a pitch.

So if the Phillies were going to pull out a series win, they were going to have to depend on the back-up players and also hope that the pitching would hold up.  The back-ups did their job; the pitchers did not.

After Kendrick’s disastrous 5th inning, Danys Baez could not hold the lead.  He gave up 1 run in the 7th to tie the game at 6-6.  David Herdon got into trouble in the 8th; with no outs, Raul Ibanez threw a runner out going home and Ruiz held onto the ball for the out.  Herndon got a second chance, but he blew it.  A 1-out double scored the go-ahead run and then the hits kept coming.  By the end of the inning, the Phillies were down by a score of 6-8 and only 1 inning left to get back in it.

And as expected with this suddenly unpredictable offense, the Phillies fell short in the 9th and went down 6-8.  Having lost this series 1 game to 2, the Phillies have a lot of issues to address, not the least of which is starting pitching.  One man does not a rotation make and Roy Halladay can only win 1 game every five days.   Kendrick and Cole Hamels need to get their act together…fast.  Joe Blanton and JA Happ had better get well soon and Jamie Moyer is holding his own in the 5th spot.

see-saw ride.jpgAn even bigger issue is the bullpen; their performance has varied from inconsistent to just plain awful.  A lot of the pen pitchers, like Baez, seem to have a one game on, one game off thing going on.  It is like the see-saw ride from hell.  You just never know which end is going to be up or down and when.

And now the Phillies are heading to San Francisco to face the Giants red-hot pitching staff.  With all the injuries and inconsistent performances, the Phillies may be headed into big, big trouble.  And Trouble is called Jonathan Sanchez and Tim “I have 2 Cy Youngs” Lincecum.  The first game of the series starts tomorrow at 10:15pm.  Bust out the bottle of Tums; this is going to be interesting.

 

Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography except Lopez as a D-Back; MLB.com

 

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

 

A Werth-Y Win

The big question going into tonight’s Phillies – Diamondbacks match-up was how spot-starter Nelson Figueroa was going to fare.  Overall, he did a great job.  Although he had quite a few base runners and ran some deep counts, Figueroa mostly did very well, allowing just 2 runs in 5 innings.  Considering he was not very stretched out having been in the bullpen, Figueroa gave an excellent effort.

Another question mark lately has been the Phillies offense which went from red-hot during the first 10 games of the season to stone-cold this past week.  In fact, the only two bats that showed up today were Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez.  Werth hit two monster home runs to centerfield; one came in the 2nd inning and the other gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead in the 9th.  Werth also made two great catches in the outfield and collected his first assist of the year, throwing a runner out at second.

Ibanez hit a home run in the 7th to tie the game up; it was his first home run of the year.  Ibanez has been struggling so far this season but finally looks like he may break out of the slump.  He also singled in the 9th, bringing his average up above the Mendoza line at .222.

Right after the Ibanez homer, Wilson Valdez stepped to the plate in place of Juan Castro and Phillies fans everywhere started to get that all too familiar twinge of panic.  Castro has been outstanding in place of the injured Jimmy Rollins and there was no apparent reason to pull him out early.  It was announced shortly after that Castro is suffering from mild left hamstring soreness.


Phillies MASH.jpgThis Phillies team is beginning to resemble a MASH unit instead of a ball club.  The constant flow of injuries is alarming.  They are already down 2 starting pitchers, 1 closer and a short stop.  If Castro is really hurt and they are forced to go to the 3rd string short stop in Valdez, this could get ugly.  Cross your fingers…

So, the bullpen had to keep the game close tonight as Figueroa was done in after the 5th inning.  Chad Durbin was spectacular in 2 innings where he struck out 3 and allowed only 1 hit and no runs.  Jose Contreras also struck out 3 in the 8th and the Ryan Madson came in for the 9th.  Madson has not looked great as the team’s closer in place of the injured Brad Lidge, but tonight with a 1-run lead, he redeemed himself.  He allowed 1 hit, no runs and struck out two for his 4th save of the year.

The 3-2 win tonight ties up the series in Arizona.  The Phillies will send Kyle Kendrick to the mound tomorrow in search of his first win this year.  Game time is 4:10pm.  Go Phillies!

 

Player 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 Win Series In Atlanta

Two old dudes battled it out tonight in Atlanta; the Braves Derek Lowe, 36, and the Phillies Jamie Moyer, 47.  When I say I old, I am talking in baseball terms, of course.  Jamie Moyer2.jpgThe elder Moyer out-dueled Lowe allowing just 4 hits and no earned runs in 6 innings.  Lowe fell victim to the powerful Phillies offense which ran him out of the game after only 5 innings and racked up 5 runs.

Moyer continues to amaze and defy the laws of time with every victory.  And tonight, he did something I had never seen before; in the 2nd inning, he hit the Braves rookie Jason Heyward with a pitch.  That was not the fun part though.  As the ball left Moyer’s hand, you could hear him yell to Heyward, “Look out!” as the pitch ran too far inside.  Moyer is a true gentleman.  Of course, the ball was only travelling about 74 mph so I think Heyward will be okay ;o)

The defense behind Moyer was pretty good, although Chase Utley did have one adventurous inning.  Right after announcer Tom McCarthy commented on how much Utley has improved and that he has a shot at a Gold Glove one day, Utley’s ears must have been burning because he committed two errors in the 5th inning. 

While trying to turn a double play, Utley bobbled the feed from Juan Castro, dropped the ball twice and a run scored.  The very next play, he tried another double play but threw the ball wide to 1st, which flew past Ryan Howard and allowed another run to score.  So it is official; no one is allowed to talk about Gold Gloves in relation to Utley for the rest of the year.  Clearly, it was a jinx.

Utley’s offense has not been affected by a jinx though, as he has now reached base safely in every game so far this year.  He had one hit and 2 walks tonight.  Greg Dobbs did a great job filling in for Placido Polanco; he went 2 for 3.  Castro went 3 for 5 and had 1 RBI, making it 5 for 8 from the back-up starters.

Actually, the only other jinx I can see for this team is the bullpen, which has been fairly awful.  Roy Halladay avoided that jinx yesterday by pitching all 9 innings himself.  Moyer only went 6, which is about average from him so sadly, the pen had to be counted on.  Chad Durbin worked his way into a bases loaded jam with 1 out in the 7th and then ran a 3-0 count to the next batter.  Fans everywhere had to be saying, “Oh crap…here we go again…”

Durbin got a sac fly out of that one and thanks to the Braves generosity in swinging at balls, he escaped the inning having allowed just the one run.  But there was no one exhaling just yet.  The Phillies had an 8-3 lead, but still 2 more innings of scary bullpen work to get through.

This bullpen could totally blow a 5-run lead….I have seen it happen.  But tonight, Danys Baez rebounded from his last disastrous outing and got through the 8th inning with no damage.  In the 9th, rookie David Herndon pitched and things got hairy with a few base runners.  But Herdon worked through it and the Phillies won, 8-3.

JC & Happ.jpg
There was a bit of bad news today before the game began; pitcher JA Happ has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 16th.  The left forearm strain that was revealed after an MRI is apparently a bigger issue than the Phillies first anticipated.  Nelson Figueroa will take Happ’s place in the starting rotation for now and his spot in the bullpen will be taken over by JC Romero, who was removed from the DL today.  Welcome back, JC!  We missed you!

So it is a bit of good news with a bit of bad news.  As for 3rd baseman, Placido Polanco, he was left out of the line-up tonight after being hit by a pitch in the elbow yesterday.  Polanco told the media today that he should be ready to play again tomorrow night.  Assuming this is the case, that is very good news.  Losing another starter right now could be a small disaster.

And yes, it is already that time again…All Star Voting.  Why they start this so early in the season always puzzles me, but nonetheless, VOTING began yesterday.  Let’s get a head start; VOTE for your Phillies today!

homer earth day.jpg
And Happy Earth Day everyone!  Remember to recycle and conserve energy…for Phillies fans, that might mean drinking a beer from a recycled can and lazing on the couch to conserve energy.  But hey, every little bit helps. :O)

 

Player photos 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 Shut-Out; Amazing Defense

After last nights’ total disaster in Atlanta, the Phillies brought their ace, Roy Halladay, to the mound looking for his 4th win of the year.  Fans everywhere began praying for a complete game after the Phillies bullpen blew a 3-run lead in the 9th yesterday.

Up to around the 6th inning, Halladay was averaging only 11 pitches an inning, so the potential to go deep into the game was there.  He made it to the 9th without allowing a run and started that inning having tossed 101 pitches already. 

The first hit ball of the inning nearly went into a hole by first base, but Ryan Howard belly flopped, scooped it up and made a great toss to Halladay for the out.  The second ball was shot straight to Howard as well; he gobbled that one up too for the 2nd out.  Wilson Valdez collected the 3rd on a slow roller to third; he charged it and made the throw.  It was a 2-0 complete game shut-out for Halladay; his record is now 4-0.

DSCF6263.JPGThere was a lot more spectacular defense in this game from the Phillies as well.  In the 2nd inning, Shane Victorino robbed Troy Glaus of a home run by leaping at the centerfield wall and snagging the ball just before it went over.  Then in the 5th, Juan Castro snagged a ball that was going up the middle and looked like a base hit.  But Castro moved fast, side-armed the throw to first and Ryan Howard did a full split (ouch!) to keep his foot on the bag and catch the ball, getting the out.

In the bottom of the 7th, Halladay got into a bases loaded, 1-out jam, walking his first batter in 25 straight innings.  Yunel Escobar hit a grounder up the middle, which Chase Utley dove for and snagged it.  Then, from the ground, while struggling to get the ball out of his glove, he flipped the ball to Castro who kicked 2nd base and gunned the ball to first to turn an amazing double play.  Halladay pumped his fists in gratitude as he headed for the dugout.

The offense was not exactly jumping with Atlanta’s Tim Hudson on the mound, but they did squeak out a few runs.  Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez both hit doubles in the game and collected one RBI a piece.  Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley also doubled.  Overall, the offense was patient again, saw a lot of pitches and drove Hudson out early after 6 innings.

There was one very concerning moment in the game when Placido Polanco, the Phillies best statistical  hitter right now, got nailed in the elbow with a pitch in the 1st inning.  It looked like he shook it off, but his next two at-bats were not good and he had issues extending that sore arm.  Polanco was finally pulled out of the game in the 7th and Wilson Valdez took over at third.

Early reports indicate a minor left elbow contusion; how serious it really is not known right now.  If it turns out to be serious, that will be one more major knock to a team that is already missing Jimmy Rollins plus a boatload of injured pitchers, including Joe Blanton, Brad Lidge, JC Romero and maybe JA Happ.

For now, the Phillies will focus on tomorrow night’s game and a series win against the Braves.  Jamie Moyer will pitch; game time is 7:10pm.

 

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

Hamels Shines; Loses Game Anyway

On behalf of Cole Hamels, can I get a collective “Arrgghhhh!” please?  Thank you.  This poor guy pitched like a real ace today against the Marlins and has nothing to show for it.  His first two outings this year stunk, but the offense scored 8 and 7 runs for him, respectively.  Today, Hamels allowed just 2 runs over 8 innings, striking out 8 batters and did not issue any walks.  And this game, he loses by a score of 0-2.  Ugh.


P4189587.jpgThere were a few moments in the game where it looked like Hamels may revert to his 2009 ways and lose his cool.  The home run to Dan Uggla in the 2nd inning was one, but he just kept on pitching as if it did not happen.  The second instance was huge; with no outs in the 3rd, the inning began with a double to centerfield from the Marlins pitcher.  Allowing hits to the opposing pitcher, especially extra base hits, is usually the one thing you can count on to mess with a pitchers head.  But instead, Hamels struck out the next 2 batters and got the 3rd on a ground ball.  Bravo, Cole!  This is the guy we had all been missing.

But even after the huge effort put forth by Hamels, the offense came up with a great big ZERO.  The Phillies had opportunities, including 3 walks in the 2nd inning to Jayson Werth, Ben Francisco and Carlos Ruiz, but they still failed to score.  Incidentally, those same 3 players accounted for 3 of the 4 Phillies hits tonight.  The 4th was Placido Polanco.  So while Charlie Manuel apparently took my hint yesterday about player Francisco in place of Raul Ibanez, Francisco’s walk and double were wasted by those who batted after him.

Here are a few photos from the game:


041810b.jpgIn that same 2nd inning, Werth could have scored on the fly out by Juan Castro but did not.  He tagged up and started to run from third base, but for some reason he stopped and went back.  With Werth’s speed, he had a chance to make it.  Plus, there were 2 outs in the inning and the pitcher, Hamels, was due up next.  It was worth the risk.  And as luck would have it, the throw home sailed past the catcher, meaning Werth would have scored easily.  Another wasted opportunity.

For their final chance in the 9th, three pinch hitters were sent in; Ross Gload, Ibanez and Greg Dobbs all went down without a fight, faster than fans could run to the parking lot.  And there you have it; the Phillies first shut-out of the year and first lost series of the year.  They are now only ½ game in front of the Marlins for first place.

The Phillies have the day off tomorrow to collect themselves, but more bad news may be on the horizon.  JA Happ is suffering from a sore forearm and his scheduled Wednesday start is uncertain as a result.  They are already missing Joe Blanton from the rotation; if Happ is forced to the DL as well, the Phillies may be in big trouble.  Nelson Figueroa can probably fill in as a starter, but the pitching is starting to look awfully thin.  Please think Happ-Y thoughts this week and perhaps we can all will him to health :O)  It is worth a shot…

So, here is the full Photo Album from today’s game, which includes the always entertaining Phanatic Birthday celebration.  Check out the stuffed Clam, Clammy Sosa, eating and then spitting out an umpire…classic.

 

Photos by Jenn

 

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