Going into the 9th inning last night against the Nationals down 2-8, it looked like a sure loss for the Phillies. Joe Blanton had his worst game of the year, giving up all 8 of those runs in only 4 2/3 innings. But with one out in the 9th, Jayson Werth hit a slow grounder and drew a Nationals error to land him safely on 1st base. After that, the Phillies loaded the bases for Matt Stairs.
Stairs had not had a hit in what seems like ages (30 at-bats) but finally came up big with a Grand Slam to put the team within 2 runs. Shane Victorino knocked in another run a few batters later to bring the score to 7-8. Then, with runners on 1st and 3rd and still only 1 out, Ryan Howard came up to the plate. Who better to hit a sac fly to tie the game, right? Wrong. Two things happened here: Chase Utley fell asleep on 1st and did not advance to 2nd on a wild pitch when the Nationals were only concerned with Victorino on third. Utley would have made it without challenge. Then, Howard hits a slow grounder which turns into a double play to end the game! Had Utley advanced, the game would have been tied.
So what was going to be a blow-out loss for the Phillies turns into a heartbreaker at the last minute. Add to that both the Marlins and Braves won last night and now the Phillies are only 5 games ahead in the division. A few weeks ago, they had an 8 ½ game lead which they are now letting slip away.
After the game, Charlie Manuel said his team is “playing down” to the competition. The Phillies are getting beat by mediocre (Astros) and very, very bad teams (Nationals – worst team in baseball). If they do not hit their stride in the Mets series this weekend, it is going to be a very uncomfortable run at the post-season.
Cole Hamels pitches tonight at 7:05pm. Cross your fingers folks!
Photos by Jenn
The game began with a Pirates lead-off home run off the rookie, JA Happ. But after that, Happ did not budge and sent the Bucos away each inning frustrated.
Happ went 8 innings, gave up 3 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks. Happ had a 2-1 lead until the 8th inning when he surrendered the big blow; a 2-run shot by Garrett Jones to give the Bucos a 3-2 lead. Still a great outing by Happ, but with no offense to back him up, the result was not ideal.
Well, no offense except Jimmy Rollins and Paul Bako. Rollins looked like the energizer bunny all night long as the ball jumped off his bat and his defense was stunning. But his effort of 3 for 5 on the night was the only real offense in the game. Ryan Howard collected an RBI on a force out in the 1st inning with the bases loaded. The following inning, back-up catcher Paul Bako hit a rare home run as fans did a double take at their TV sets…Bako who? The surprise homer from Bako seemed to lull the Phillies into a deep trance from which they did not wake up. In fact, neither team scored again until that killer home run by the Pirates in the 8th.
The Phillies offense this entire 3-game series was pathetic. Howard helped give the numbers a boost with his 3-run homer yesterday, but that was about the only hitting highlight of the series. Losing 2 out of 3 to a last place team is just very, very sad.
The Braves come to town tomorrow for 3 games and hopefully, the Phillies will find their bats!
The 2nd annual Phillies Cruise will set sail on January 9th, returning on the 16th. Players past and present including Shane Victorino, Ryan Madson, JC Romero, Matt Stairs and Greg Luzinski will all be aboard! The cruise is officially sold out, but there is still ONE opportunity left to grab your spot! This package includes an ocean view cabin for 2, two Southwest airline vouchers (cruise departs from Ft. Lauderdale) plus ALL Phillies activities! The package, put together directly from the Phillies, is being sold for $3100 (a $4500 value). Email me and I will put you into direct contact with the seller.
Photos by Jenn
The Phillies pulled off an amazing 9th inning comeback against the lowly Pirates tonight, only to have Brad Lidge blow the save…again. Joe Blanton started the game and did not have a fun day pitching either. The home plate umpire, CB Bucknor was having a senior moment on the mound, except that the “moment” lasted all game long. He simply could not remember where the strike zone was. Originally titled “Ode to Forgetfulness,” I have renamed this video “Ode to a Senile Umpire:”
Consistency in umpiring is a rare feat these days. So poor Joe had a 2-1 lead going into the 6th inning; just when he thought he had a strikeout to end the inning, Bucknor issued a walk. The next batter knocked one out of the park off a visibly frustrated Blanton. Upon returning to the dugout, Blanton exacted his revenge on an innocent water bottle which was sent soaring through the dugout and eventually ricocheted out onto the field. Blanton ended his outing with 3 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks over 6 innings.
But Blanton had the right to be angry as the Phillies offense did him no favors; the lack of run support for the big righty is becoming a habit. In fact, Jimmy Rollins was the entire offense for much of the game. Rollins saw exactly two pitches in his first two at bats and both of them left the ballpark over the right field wall. Rollins received a sarcastic cheer in his third at bat when he actually took a pitch.
Matt Stairs started the game in place of Jayson Werth in order to get some work, but Stairs has not had a hit since July 11th. 24 at-bats later and he still does not have a hit. Of course, Werth pinch hit in the 8th and struck out with a man on third, so that was no help anyway. The Phillies left several men on third base throughout the game, including that inning. Scoring is the name of the game and that just did not happen tonight.
That is, not until the 9th inning…Carlos Ruiz and Ben Francisco hit back-to-back double to tie up the game at 3-3. Then Shane Victorino tripled to score Francisco and give the Phillies a 4-3 lead! But leave it to Brad Lidge to ruin the moment. Lidge gave up a single, the runner advanced to second on a passed ball and then the next batter hit a long single to Werth who bobbled the ball and a run scored. After that, Lidge pitched a little batting practice and gave up a long home run to Andrew McCutchen. Another blown save for Lidge and the Phillies lose! I am DONE with Lidge – bring back Brett Myers…NOW!
The Phillies will try for a win tomorrow behind a very downtrodden Cole Hamels. Cross your fingers folks; this ought to be almost as scary as Lidge coming into a game. Ugh.
Photo by Jenn
Entering tonight’s game, the Phillies had won 2 in a row and the Marlins had just been swept in 3-games by the Nationals. But none of that mattered as the game quickly went down the drain for the Phils. Mistakes and missed opportunities sent them away with a 2-3 loss.
One of those missed opportunities took place in the 2nd inning when the Phillies had runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs and failed to score. Managing only 2 hits in the game through 6 innings, the Phillies batters looked like they were swatting at flies…and missing.
The only offense in the game came from a recent addition to the Phillies. Ben Francisco started in right field tonight while Shane Victorino gave his bum knee a rest; The Frisco Kid tried to play cowboy in the 7th inning and wrangle the Fish. First, he threw out a runner at home plate to end the 1st half of the 7th. Then, when he stepped to the plate for the 2nd half of the inning, Francisco hit a 2-run homer, putting the Phillies within 1 run of catching those slippery Fish.
But Francisco could not play hero in the bottom of the 9th, as he struck out to start the inning in what was still a very close game. Greg Dobbs hit a long fly ball to left for out #2. Then, Matt Stairs put on his cowboy hat and stepped to the plate. He kicked his spurs, reached back and….grounded out softly to 1st base to end the game :O(
Before the game, Harry Kalas was honored and officially inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame. As his three sons watched, the Phillies introduced previously inducted members of the Hall to the field by playing Harry’s voice, using previously taped announcements for each of those former players. Mike Schmidt seemed especially moved upon hearing Harry call him to the field one last time. The entire ceremony was very touching and a genuine tribute to the man who represented Phillies baseball for almost four decades. Too bad the Phils could not pull out a win for Harry, but that is baseball. Tomorrow is another day…
The past few days have left Phillies fans wondering who turned the lights out. The mental mistakes, lack of concentration and outright wackiness of this team begs the question, where have the Phillies head’s gone? Did they drink too many Slurpee’s in the hot weather and are suffering from severe brain freeze? Or, are they day dreaming of midget clowns, fire eaters and candy? Hmmmm….
At the plate, they appear to be asleep; weak swings at bad balls, staring like a deer in headlights at strikes down the middle of the plate and base running that brings back memories of their little league days. Tonight, Pedro Feliz killed an inning that had real potential by forgetting how many outs there were. 1 out in the 6th, Pedro on 1st and Matt Stairs on 3rd, Eric Bruntlett did his job and hit a sac fly to center. Feliz, however, thinking there were two outs, ran all the way to second and got doubled up at 1st before Stairs could score. The run did not count and the threat was over.
But this is only one of several examples of spontaneous stupidity displayed by the team this week. It has made most fans wish they really were living in la-la-land, as the Phillies appear to be. At least in la-la-land, the rest of the NL East catching up to the Phils may not factor in. However, in the real world, the Phillies have run themselves into big trouble.
And trouble rolls downhill, starting with the starters. Antonio Bastardo was given a 4 run lead to start the game and immediately gave 3 runs right back to the Rays in the bottom of the 1st inning. And as expected, it all went downhill from there. Maybe if Bastardo more closely resembled another Antonio, I would be able to cope with his lack of control:
Put Banderas on the mound and I don’t care if he walks in 12 runs…at least he would look good doing it ;O) But Bastardo still needs work before he is major league ready. And he may have taken that decision out of the manager’s hands anyway tonight, as he left the game early with a left shoulder strain. The Phillies need a starting pitcher – real bad. The hole in the rotation left by Brett Myers continues to haunt the team, with no answer yet in sight. And even worse, because the Phillies have let so many teams in the NL catch up to them over these last few weeks, most teams are not ready to give up and start unloading talent. They all still have a shot at the Wildcard, thanks to the Phillies bad play. And therefore, the pickings are slim for starting pitchers. Talk about shooting themselves in the foot…ouch!
Hey, maybe Antonio Banderas IS available? I have no idea if he has ever picked up a baseball, but I am willing to give him a shot. Hey Tony…call me ;O)
Player photos by Jenn
Let the Boo’s begin…now, I do not condone booing, but there will be no avoiding it after the Phillies blew another lead today for their 5th loss in a row; 7 losses in their last 8 games. And they blew it yet again in spectacular fashion.
The offense had only two hits through the 6th inning; one from Greg Dobbs and one from Paul Bako. No runner had advanced past first base either. And JA Happ had an adventurous start on the mound; Happ allowed only 2 runs, but had a lot of base runners. With 10 hits and 4 walks given up to the Orioles, Happ was having some issues. But to his credit, he got out of the jams and nailed down 6 innings to keep the Phillies in the game.
Despite all that, the Phillies were poised to win the game after Ryan Howard tried to play hero. In fact, maybe Howard should get sick more often…he spent time in the hospital earlier today with a 104 degree temperature and was held out of the game’s staring line-up tonight. Dobbs started at 1st base, Matt Stairs started in left and Bako got his first start at catcher. But it was Howard who tried to break the game open in the 7th inning, despite his fever. Coming in to pinch hit with 2 men on base, 2 outs and the Phillies trailing by a score of 2-3, Howard nailed a 3-run homer to straight away center field. And just like that, the Phillies who had been silent all game long, suddenly seemed to develop a heartbeat. It’s Alive!! Or, is it?
Well, things got bad again, very quickly…and again, it was Ryan Madson who did the damage. He gave up a solo home run to Greg Zaun in the 9th and then, with 2 strikes on Brian Roberts and 2 outs, he threw a fastball down the middle of the plate and Roberts knocked it over the fence, scoring 2 runs. Madson blows another save. OMG. I am sure no one feels worse about how this week has gone than Madson, but do we all see now why he should NOT replace Brad Lidge? Many critics have complained about Lidge blowing saves this year and suggested Madson take over; clearly, this is not the role for Madson. He tries too hard, he over throws and you see the results. I feel for Madson; this is not the role for him. But this was apparent to me 2 blown saves ago, so why has nothing changed? JC Romero is better suited to close. Can we give it a try at least? Please? It is not fair to anyone, including Madson, to let this go on as is.
I will be at the game tomorrow and return with photos and a report on how the crowd reacts to the team after this disastrous home stand. Wish me luck…
The Phillies have been road warriors this year, but the home stands have left a lot to be desired. They dropped another home series today as they went down to the Marlins, 6-2. Brett Myers was doing well through 5 innings and even had a hit in the game, but come the 6th inning, he ran into trouble. Myers began to grimace after pitches and appeared to be having pain of some sort. Charlie Manuel pulled him after 2 outs and Myers continued to look discomforted on the bench. The official word is that he has right hip inflammation…hoping he will be alright!
So Myers struggled, but the offense also provided little remedy. Carlos Ruiz and Matt Stairs each nailed solo shots and Ryan Howard had 2 hits in the game. Then the Phillies attempted a rally in the 8th with a walk to Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino reaching on an error. Chase Utley stepped in and missed a home run by about 6 inches; it was caught for out #2. Major bummer :O( Howard had the chance to play hero after that, but he went down swinging. Another rally in the 9th failed as well; bases loaded, 2 outs and Rollins flied out to center.
The green shamrock hats given away to fans tonight did not bring the Phillies luck either. In fact, maybe it was the sea of green in the stands that sickened the players? Or maybe it was just the Marlins pitching, which was on spot. Plus former Phillies Wes Helms and Ronny Paulino had 6 hits in this 3 game series. Depressing, no matter how you look at it. Where was Helms’ bat when WE needed it? Ugh.
But here is something to cheer you up…it’s the Gizmo Cam! Yes, Gizmo the chinchilla is at it again, trying to get your votes for our Phillies All-Stars! See how cute he is….how can you not help the little guy?
Remember to VOTE up to 25 times per day, per email address!
The Phillies get a day off tomorrow and then the Nats come to town; we hope they can cure the at-home blues!
Gizmo Cam by Jenn; Music – Lemon remix by U2
Green Cap – Phillies.com
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