So it is only one game, but last night’s Phillies loss to the Nationals was very bad on a number of levels. First, the inept Nats staff decided to start the game with a huge storm nearby. That lasted all of five minutes as four batters into the first inning, the game had to be stopped due to heavy rain.
For the second straight night, the Phillies had to endure a rain delay of more than two hours. It was 2:17 on Thursday and 2:22 last night. The game probably never should have been started last night, which put the Phillies into another jam with their starting pitchers.
While the Nats starter Livan Hernandez went back out after the delay, Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt was held out as a precaution due to his bad back. Oswalt had not even thrown a single pitch in the game, but because he warmed up and then cooled down, the Phillies moved Kyle Kendrick up a day to start.
So the game resumed with a 1-1 count on Ryan Howard who drew a 2 hour, 22 minute walk. That has to be some kind of record or at least an amazing exercise in patience ;o)
In their last outing against Hernandez, the Phillies could not hit him at all. This time it took until the third inning, but they finally started to figure him out. With one out, Jimmy Rollins doubled and then John Mayberry Jr. tripled to start the scoring. That was followed by a parade of hits, including a Chase Utley double.
By the end of the inning, the Phillies had scored four runs. In the meantime, Kendrick was pitching well and made it through six innings, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk. Considering the short notice and extreme circumstances, Kendrick did an outstanding job.
The offense tried to tack on, but to no avail. So they took a 4-2 lead into the ninth inning, where it all fell apart. Ryan Madson had only blown one save this year, but it was clear after a 10-pitch at-bat to Jayson Werth where eventually Werth singled that Madson was not himself.
Three singles, two of which were softly hit bloops into no-man’s land, plus a bunt and a walk later, and Ryan Zimmerman came to the plate with the bases loaded and a tie score. Madson fell behind and soon after it was a full count.
Madson knew he had to throw a strike or he would walk the winning run home. Zimmerman knew this as well and was ready. He smashed the pitch into deep left field for a walk-off grand slam. Ouch.
This was a tough loss to swallow as under usual circumstances, the 4-2 lead would have been as close to a sure win as you can get for this Phillies team. But Madson was off his game and the blown save wasted a great performance from Kendrick.
While it is just one game, this one stung. Hopefully, the Phillies will have a little extra motivation tonight to get revenge. Game time tonight is 7:05pm and since he did not pitch last night, Roy Oswalt will get the start.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Seriously, this was a really boring game. The Phillies mustered only six hits against the Nationals and two of those came in the final inning. Livan Hernandez watched the Phillies batters whiff at his 68mph curve balls so he kept right on throwing them.
In the words of Pedro Serrano, ” I cannot hit curveball. Straightball I hit it very much. Curveball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats.” Well, Jobu did not show up and neither did the Phillies bats.
To make matters worse, Cole Hamels had a very bad day. At one point, it was questionable that he could even thrown a strike with no outs and the bases loaded. Hamels clawed his way through five innings after walking four batters and allowing three runs on six hits. Afterwards, it was revealed that Hamels has a sore shoulder. It does not appear to be serious so far.
But once again, a trend continued for the Phillies. Hunter Pence did not get a hit and the Phillies did not win. It will be fun to see how long this continues to be the case. In 13 games, the Phillies have won 11 where Pence had a hit and lost the two where he did not get a hit.
The 4-2 loss is clearly not the end of the world, but it was still disappointing. The real highlight of the day though was the induction of John Kruk into the Phillies Wall of Fame. The pre-game ceremony included a variety of Phillies alumni including Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Dick Allen and Darren Daulton, among others.
Kruk’s speech was touching and infused with humor that only Phillies fans could appreciate. He spoke about the 1993 season and noted, “We killed a lot of brain cells. But you were right there with us and you all killed a bunch too.”
But the best part was when Kruk addressed everyone who knocks Philly for being a hard place to play. He said, “To those people I say, ‘You didn’t have the guts to succeed here.” And that is exactly why we love John Kruk. Congrats to John…it is a well deserved honor!
Here is the full Photo Album from Friday night. And here is a fantastic breakdown of Michael Stutes’ rookie gear:
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
As the Washington Nationals came to town, so did Jayson Werth. In his first return to Philly since departing for “greener” pastures, Werth stepped to the plate amidst some boo’s from the fans. But within seconds, the cheers silenced the boo’s and Werth was welcomed back with the thanks he deserved for helping to bring Philly a World Championship in 2008.
Werth earned a little more love after the tip of his cap as he misplayed a ball that ended up as a triple for Jimmy Rollins. He subsequently made an off-line throw home, allowing Rollins to score on a Placido Polanco sac fly.
Rollins led off today, with Shane Victorino and then Polanco to follow. Shaky up the line-up a bit and putting J-Roll back in his comfort zone was likely meant to spark the offense, which has been sleepy for a while.
Raul Ibanez finally broke his hitless streak tonight which ended at 0-35. He hit a double in the fourth inning. That streak tied as second worst hitless streak for a Phillie; Joe Morgan went 0-35 in 1983 and Desi Relaford still holds the #1 spot with his 0-36 in 1998.
Although the streak was broken, Ibanez still left the bases loaded in the fifth inning. He swung at the first pitch after Nats pitcher Livan Hernandez had just walked the previous batter. But Ibanez was redeemed in the seventh with an RBI-double. Those two hits had to feel really good after an 0-35 stretch.
But luckily for the Phillies, Cole Hamels was not just pitching tonight; he was hitting as well. Hamels whacked a two-out triple in the third. Rollins then knocked him in for the first run of the night.
In the fourth, another odd thing happened. The Nationals intentionally walked Pete Orr, who had batted .154 in his previous four games, to load the bases. Then with a 2-0 count in his favor, catcher Brian Schneider swung and gave the Nats the double play they were hoping for.
But Hamels kept the team in the game, allowing only four hits in his first seven innings. In the bottom of the seventh, the Phillies added on a few runs for a 4-1 lead. Then in the eighth, Hamels smacked his second hit of the night, a single. Yes, the pitcher was a mere homer and double away from hitting for the cycle ;o)
But Hamels did not need to hit for the cycle to impress. He stayed in for the ninth and got his first complete game of the year, while only allowing one run. But I am willing to bet he is still prouder of the two hits ;o)
Roy Oswalt was supposed to start today, but he is still in Mississippi taking care of tornado damage at his house. The Phillies had enough days off to move the rotation up a day, which worked out just fine for Hamels. FYI – Oswalt will be back for his next start.
But first, Vance Worley will make his second start of the year tomorrow. Game time is 7:05pm.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Don’t get too excited Phillies fans; although Ryan Madson did close out the 6-5 win over the Nationals last night, it remains to be seen whether this is a permanent move or not. The unexpected, season-long decline of Brad Lidge has forced manager Charlie Manuel to sit him down. Is Lidge out for the season? Unlikely. Manuel is famous for his loyalty and will not give up on Lidge unless he has no other choice. But with 10 blown saves, the worst closer in baseball may be teetering on the brink of losing his job for the rest of 2009.
What is more likely to happen is Madson or Brett Myers will close when the game is close and Lidge will be given a few more shots if there is a 3-run lead to play with. But in a close game last night, it was a no-brainer to bring in Madson. He has pitched well lately and saved Lidge from sure disaster the night before, escaping a 1-out bases loaded situation in the 9th. Last night, Madson saved the game giving up one hit and striking out one batter.
Cliff Lee got the win, although for the 3rd start in a row, he did not look too solid. Lee gave up 10 hits and 4 earned runs over 7 innings, although he did not issue any walks. Still, Lee kept the Phillies in the game and allowed the offense to battle for him.
For the second night in a row and 10th time this year, the Phillies hit back-to-back home runs. This time it was Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz doing the honors in the 8th inning to solidify a lead for the Phils. Four players had at least 2 hits in the game, including Werth, Feliz, Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez. Even Lee helped out with the bat getting his 7th hit as a Phillie and his first career RBI. That RBI may have been the difference maker in the game.
The Phillies will try to sweep the Nationals tonight at 7:05pm. Joe Blanton will face former Met, Livan Hernandez. Best of luck to them!
Photos by Jenn