Tagged: Kevin Fransden

Kratz & Mayberry Propel Phillies to Win

Friday night’s Phillies – Braves game was a little uncomfortable to watch through the first 5 innings as ace pitcher Roy Halladay struggled.  Sweaty and red in the face, Halladay looked like he might pass out more than a few times.  He gave up 4 runs on 2 homers and 4 walks before being pulled after 4 2/3 innings.

Catcher Erik Kratz did everything humanly possible to help the ailing Halladay, including taking what looked like a heavy-weight title knock-out shot at the plate from Chipper Jones in the 4th inning:

John Mayberry Jr. made a great, on-target throw and, amazingly, Kratz held onto the ball.  It was an unbelievable play…but neither Kratz nor Mayberry were done impressing everyone yet.

Down 4-5 going into the 9th inning, the Phillies were going to need a small miracle to get to Braves star closer Craig Kimbrel.  But Kratz was again up to the challenge as he took Kimbrel’s fastball deep to left to tie up the game.

That home run sent the game into extra innings where Mayberry stepped in once more to help the Phillies win.  Kevin Fransden provided the first spark, staring the 10th off with a single.  Later that inning, Mayberry saw one pitch and sent in into the seats for a 3-run homer, handing the Phillies an 8-5 lead.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the save, which was the 250th save of his career and 31st this season.  The Phillies now sit 8 games out of the Wild Card race.  Not that the playoffs are a real possibility at this point, but just thought I would mention it.  At the very least, they should aim to make life more difficult for the Braves.  Game time today is 4:05pm.

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Cloyd’s Debut & Utley’s Big Idea

A very excited and nervous Tyler Cloyd took the mound for the Phillies last night.  His major league debut would eventually end in a 3-2 loss to the Mets, but the rookie was still happy just to be there.

With Vance Worley finally put on the DL and expected to have elbow surgery, Cloyd will get a few more shots at a win.  He told reporters, “It’s an awesome feeling that they’re going to let me stay up here and show what I can do.

Cloyd allowed 3 runs in his debut over 6 innings and walked 2 batters.  Much of his early struggle appeared to be nerves.  But once he settled down, Cloyd looked pretty good, despite his lower than average fastball.  His location was good and his breaking pitches had some nice, late movement on them.

The bad news is, the Phillies have now dropped 2 games in a row to the lowly Mets.  Depressing.

There was some other near earth-shattering news yesterday as well.  Chase Utley began taking ground balls at 3rd base and later told the media that he asked GM Ruben Amaro Jr. if he could give 3rd base a try.  Amaro figured, why not?

Utley is apparently trying to help the team solve the current 3rd base issue.  With Placido Polanco constantly having back issues and likely not returning next year, the Phillies need a 3rd baseman.  They seem to view Kevin Fransden as a utility guy, although he has played very well at the hot corner.

As for Utley, we all know his is Superman already (except for those bum knees, of course).  But he has not played 3rd base in 10 years, since his time in the minors.  He told reporters, “I figured I’d give it a try just to get back over there, get my feet wet, just get a feel for the position again.” 

This brings up many questions.  Would 3rd base be less taxing on Utley’s knees?  I doubt it.  Does he have the arm strength for the position?  Maybe, maybe not.  Couldn’t the Phillies try Freddy Galvis there?  He adjusted well going from short to 2nd, so maybe 3rd is not a huge leap.

It is nice to see Utley offering to take on something new for the better of the team.  Whether or not that is a realistic option remains to be seen.

In the meantime, the Phillies have to try not to get swept by the Mets this afternoon.  Game time is 1:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Sweep the Nationals!

It was apparent today that Cliff Lee was determined to win a game at home, something he has not done all year long.  And for most of the 1st 5 innings, it was all Lee, all the time.  He pitched, he hit and he played defense.

The first score of the game came off the bat of Lee who doubled in a run in the 5th inning.  The rest of the team got on board fast, with a 2-run homer from Jimmy RollinsLaynce Nix added a solo homer in the 6th and Lee held the Nats to 1 run in 7 innings for the 4-1 win and a 3-game sweep!

The day before, Roy Halladay continued his journey to being Roy Halladay once again.  He went 7 innings allowing only 2 runs on 7 hits and a walk.

Halladay got our old buddy Jayson Werth to strike out twice and coaxed 2 grounds out from rookie star Bryce Harper.  Both were all smiles before the game, but not after.

The big bopper of the night was John Mayberry Jr. who had two hits, including a line-drive homer to left, and picked up 3 RBI in the game.  Chase Utley drove the other run in and Rollins set the table with 2 walks off another old Phillie, Gio GonzalezKevin Fransden also had a hit and did a lot of cheering for his teammates.

Then in the 8th, the old Antonio Bastardo came back for a visit.  Where has this guy been all year?  He struck out the side, handing a fairly easy save to Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th.

Some other awesome sights at the ballpark on Saturday were creatures from the Philly Zoo and a grinning Domonic Brown, despite having a sore knee:

Despite the sweep, the Phillies are still 9.5 games back in the Wild Card race, so don’t get your hopes up too much.  It is not impossible, however, they’d pretty much have to win every game from here to the end.  But the news is good for next year as the bullpen is improving and starters are getting healthier.

And of course, they just swept the dreaded Nationals.  I cannot think of a better reason to be happy right now.  Here is the full Photo Album from Saturday’s game.

The Phillies have a day off on Monday and the Mets come to town on Tuesday.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Loose Another Wild One

Last night’s Phillies – Reds game looked like it might wind up being an exciting win for the Phils.  Instead, it was a loss, although it was still an interesting contest.

The Phillies took the lead in the game and then lost or tied it again 3 times.  Ryan Howard drove in a run in the 1st and that was all the scoring through the first 6 innings.  Cliff Lee was pitching well, but a slim 1 run lead seemed, as it has all season long, unlikely to hold up.

Sure enough, Lee got into trouble in the 7th and gave up 3 runs, although 1 was unearned due to a Howard error.  The defense behind Lee ranged from spectacular to awful, with the Howard error being of the “awful” variety.

But before that, Lee worked out of a 6th inning jam thanks to some amazing defense.  Kevin Fransden dove for a ball at third, flipped around on the ground and threw home from his knees to get a force out and save a run.  You have to see it to believe it.  It was an incredible effort.

Later in the game, Fransden shined again with another toss from his knees that bounced 3 times and still landed securely in Howard’s glove at 1st.  He also had 3 hits in the game with an RBI-triple in the 8th to once again tie the game for the Phillies.  If they had not lost, Fransden would have been the hero in this one for sure.

But Jonathan Papelbon tossed exactly 1 pitch in the 9th and gave up a solo homer and broke the tie in favor of the Reds.  The 5-4 score was the final.

So poor Cliff Lee gets yet another no-decision in what was a winnable game.  Lee was visibly upset and seen slamming his glove onto the bench in the dugout.  For a guy who normally shows little emotion, this was very telling.  Lee has had enough of this crazy season, as have we all.

And yet, time marches on…and so does this season whether we like it or not.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Put it All Together in Win Over Brewers

A rare event this year for the Phillies has been having all aspects of their game working together at the same time.  In an 8-0 win over the Brewers, the pitching, offense and defense all performed very well.

On the mound, Kyle Kendrick took one more positive step towards earning a spot in next year’s rotation.  He went 8 innings, allowing only 3 hits, 1 walk and no runs.  It was his second shut-out start in row.  As I have said before, we all knew Kendrick could pitch.  It was just a matter of seeing some consistency from him; and now, Kendrick appears to finally be on a roll.

The offense did not disappoint either, although it came from a few odd sources.  Michael Martinez, who is hitting only .153, came up with a huge 2-run homer in the 2nd inning to get the Phillies an early lead.  Both Domonic Brown and Kevin Fransden each had 3-hit nights, with Brown collecting 4 RBI.  It was a monster night for Brown who is trying to prove he belongs in the Bigs.

Fransden is opening many eyes with both his offense and his play at 3rd base.  Fransden is really a middle-infielder, but he has adapted very well to the hot corner and has the arm to handle it.  If he continues to improve, the Phillies may have themselves either a very cheap 3rd base option for 2013 or a solid utility guy.

And finally, in the win last night, the Phillies actually got through a whole game without committing an error!  Hooray!  Michael Schwimer pitching in the 9th was as close to an error as they got.  Schwimer loaded the bases before finally recording all 3 outs and keeping the shut-out intact.

The Phillies return home to begin a series with the Reds tonight at 7:05pm.  Roy Halladay will pitch and try to notch 3 wins in a row for the Phils!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Bullpen Bombs Again

It is difficult to imagine what must be going through Cliff Lee’s head these days.  He has had his ups and downs, but certainly has pitched better than just the 2 wins on his record indicate.  Last night, he had a quality start against the Brewers, allowing 3 runs in 7 2/3 innings.

But that good start was quickly wiped away in the Phillies cursed 8th inning.  And once again, it was a bullpen guy doing the damage.  You can see the reasoning behind why Lee was pulled with Ryan Braun coming up; Braun had already tagged Lee for 2 homers in this game.  But with the bullpen performing like it has, maybe taking the chance on Lee was a better decision.

That did turn out to be the case as the game was blown wide open for the Brewers thanks to reliever Josh Lindblom, who was acquired from the Dodgers in the Shane Victorino trade.  Lindblom walked the bases loaded and then gave up a grand slam to wipe away the Phillies 4-3 lead and turn it into a 7-4 loss.

And with that turn of events, I think Lindblom has earned himself a new nickname: How do you feel about LindBUM?  Or even better, LindBOMB.  There you go.  LindBOMB has a nice ring to it…and bomb, he did.  In a big way.  Since coming to the Phillies, LindBOMB is 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA.  Ouch.

Nothing personal against the guy; after all, most of the bullpen has sucked all year long.  His name just happens to more easily lend itself to a little joke ;o)  And we could all use a little humor right about now.

The real shame of it was that after being down 3-1, the Phillies battled back and score 3 runs in the 5th on a bases-clearing double from Kevin Fransden.  Oddly enough, it was Fransden’s throwing error in the 8th that caused Lee to be pulled from the game.

So the downtrodden Phils will again try to beat the Brewers this evening at 8:10pm.  Vance Worley will pitch.  Hopefully, he can pick this team up…they need a lift in a big way.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Two-Straight Complete Game Shut-Outs for Hamels

After a couple of shaky starts after signing a huge contract, Cole Hamels is in the zone again.  Last night marked the second straight complete game shut-out for the lefty with a 4-0 win over the Miami Marlins.

Hamels tossed 113 pitches, 85 of them for strikes.  He allowed 7 hits and 1 walk, but no Marlin even crossed home plate.  While playoff hopes for the Phillies are all but dashed, Hamels could still be in line for another big prize if he continues to pitch at this pace: the Cy Young award.

This ace already has a World Series ring, a World Series and a NLCS MVP award plus 3 All-Star nods.  All Hamels has left to accomplish is the Cy Young…and of course, one more World Series ring.

Supporting their teammate, the Phillies offense produced 4 runs, which was plenty considering how Hamels was pitching.  Juan Pierre had another 3-hit night, including a triple and an RBI.  Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr. and Kevin Fransden had 2 hits each while Chase Utley and Erik Kratz both knocked in one run each.

As for the bullpen…there was no bullpen as Hamels went all 9 innings.  This could be the best bullpen performance all year long!  Way to sit on the bench guys; nicely done.  With the way this year has gone, I am sure the relievers were as relieved with this turn of events as anyone.

The Phillies have another shot at the Fish tonight.  Kyle Kendrick, despite being awful lately, will get yet another chance at being a real starter.  This is beginning to feel like Pinocchio trying to be a real boy…it’s never going to happen.  I could be wrong; what do you think?  Will Kendrick ever be consistent enough to be a starter?  Feel free to leave comments below.

Game time is 7:10pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography