Happy Opening Day! And what an unusual Opening Day it was for the Phillies.
The Phillies sent Roy Halladay to the mound to face ex-Phillie Brett Myers of the Astros. What initially looked like it might be a bad day despite great pitching, the Phillies pulled out a win in walk-off fashion to open the 2011 season.
The first hit off Halladay came off the bat of Myers. And from there, more drama ensued. In fact, Myers wound up with two of the five hits Halladay allowed through six innings. Myers allowed only three hits and one earned run through seven innings.
But for the Phillies offense, hits were few and far between making fans wonder if all the hard work assembling this amazing pitching staff was going to pay off. If Halladay only allows one run but the offense cannot score any runs, wins will be hard to come by.
Only Ryan Howard and Wilson Valdez got any hits through the first six innings. The Valdez hit was a double in the third inning, but they were unable to score him. A bad call at first base where Halladay was called out did not help the situation.
Also not a huge help were a strange variety of Phillies mistakes. Ben Francisco missed a fly ball in right early in the game, prompting chants of, “Bring back Werth!” from the crowd. Valdez let a ball slip right between his legs and Shane Victorino got caught stealing. Later, poor Carlos Ruiz took a bouncing relay to the plate in what looks like an uncomfortable position:
None of this was good news for the Phillies. But in the seventh, Myers started to tire and the Phils finally manufactured a few runs. By the ninth inning, down 4-2, the Phillies probably started to imagine the backlash if they were to lose on Opening Day after Halladay pitched a great game. Suddenly, the hits started coming.
Jimmy Rollins started off the inning with a single to inspire the team. Howard, Francisco and Ruiz followed suit. The hit for Francisco was especially huge as it redeemed him from the previous error in the eyes of the crowd.
Valdez stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out. Visions of the 20 double plays Valdez hit into last year began to haunt the crowd who held their collective breath. But perhaps the DP curse is over, because Valdez nailed and RBI single to tie the game.
All the Phillies needed now was a hit or a sac fly from John Mayberry Jr. With his father, former major leaguer John Mayberry Sr., and mother looking on, Mayberry Jr. smashed a 2-2 fastball to center field, over the head of former Phillie Michael Bourn. Francisco scored and Mayberry had his first major league walk-off hit in his first game ever as an Opening Day roster player.
The walk-off win was the first on Opening Day since May 6, 1974, when Mike Schmidt hit a two-run home run against Tug McGraw to beat the Mets at Veterans Stadium. But with the high expectations for this 2011 team, this walk-off victory will go down as one of the most memorable in Phillies history.
The stunned Astros team will probably have nightmare’s tonight knowing they face Cliff Lee on Saturday. Game time is 7:05pm.
Here is the full Photo Album from Opening Day.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
In a strange turn of events last night, the Phillies lost a 4-2 game to the Astros in 16 innings that took 5 hours and 20 minutes to play. The game started with an outstanding effort, again, by Cole Hamels who allowed just 2 runs. But as has been the case all year, Hamels got no help.
The Phillies offense scored only 1 run off Bud Norris who entered the game with a 5.23 ERA. The one run was a Raul Ibanez double that scored Jayson Werth. Not only are they not hitting, the Phils are striking out at a record pace lately. Adding to the problem, Jimmy Rollins even got thrown out trying to steal 3rd base. Most of the few hits they got came with 2 outs and the next batter could not capitalize.
Rollins tried to redeem himself with a game-tying homer in the 9th that sent the game into extra innings. But as in the first 9, the Phillies still did not hit. Both teams’ bullpens got a workout though and both performed well. 15 pitchers were used in total for both teams.
There were some nice defensive plays in the game; most notably two double plays, one of which Rollins started from the ground to toss to Chase Utley:
The real drama occurred when in the 14th inning, umpire Scott Barry, acted like a child, which led to the ejection of Ryan Howard from the game. Howard put his hands on his hips in disgust as a check swing was called a strike. Barry in response mimicked Howard’s action by placing his hands on his hips and gawking childishly at Howard. Howard told the home plate ump he was mad at himself, not at Barry. The kindergarten move by Barry was unprofessional, uncalled for and outright disgusting.
As a result, the already annoyed Howard tossed his bat after being called out on another check swing. He was mad, and with good reason. Replay shows the bat never crossed the plate and Howard should not have been called out. But Barry, still in 3-year old mode, took offense to the bat toss and ejected him. But this should have been an equipment fine, not an ejection. However, the infantile Barry made up his own rules. Check out the VIDEO. Here are a few game shots of Howard:
Barry, 31, is a minor league call-up who just started his 4th year of AAA ball umpiring. This is the same ump who tossed Charlie Manuel from the game on Monday night after another BS call. And on August 18th, the same umpire ejected the National’s Ryan Zimmerman for tossing his bat and helmet after striking out. Zimmerman said nothing but Barry ejected him anyway for the first ejection of his career. Again, this should have been an equipment fine, not an ejection.
This minor leaguer is a disgrace to all umpires and he should be fired for his childish actions. Barry is the kind of ump who gives all the good ones a bad rap. But as usual, NO umpires are EVER held accountable for their actions. It is a real shame and a serious blemish on the game of baseball.
All that drama led to the Phillies not having ANY players left. As a result, starting pitcher Roy Oswalt was put in to play left field; it was the first time since Bill Wilson on Aug. 6, 1971 that any pitcher had been made to play another position. Raul Ibanez, having some experience at first base, was moved to take Howard’s place.
And of course, the first batter of the 15th inning hit the ball right to Oswalt who snagged the fly ball easily and had a nice giggle over it. Ibanez did a descent job at first, considering he has not played there in years. He did drop a ball in the 16th, but no one can really blame Ibanez for the loss. Same goes for relief pitcher David Herndon who gave up 2 runs that inning. He got all ground balls, they were just hit in odd places.
I was at the game for the first 9 innings but having to get up early for work today, I did not stay for extras. I listened on the radio in the car and then saw the last 3 innings on TV at home. Here is the full Photo Album from the first 9 innings.
As for tonight, the Phillies had better find their bats if they are going to avoid losing this 4-game series to the Astros. Roy Halladay will pitch against former Phillie JA Happ who will be in another uniform in Philly for the first time. Game time is 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Houston Astros, otherwise known as the Phillies-B team, are in town. The former Phils include Brett Myers, JA Happ, Michael Bourn, Nelson Figueroa, Jason Michael, Ed Wade (former GM) and Brad Mills (former Bench Coach, now Astros manager).
Myers started the game for the Astros with a huge chip on his shoulder since the Phillies dismissed him after last season. Not resigning Myers turned out to be a mistake as he has found his groove and is pitching very well for the Astros. Myers had an 8-7 record with a 3.11 ERA coming into tonight’s game.
The Phillies tried to chip away at Myers who, in the 2nd, struck out Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez all in a row. Plowing through the meat of the line-up, he finally allowed a solo homer to Carlos Ruiz in the 3rd and another run on a Chase Utley single.
On the other side, Joe Blanton was having a good game as well. Although Blanton is still having issues getting through the 1st inning of nearly every ballgame he pitches in. Tonight, he escaped with only 1 run allowed in the 1st thanks to some timely defense which bailed him out of big trouble. Utley threw a runner out at home and Werth caught a tough fly ball that was sailing away from him.
But after the rocky 1st, Blanton was solid. He ended up going 7 innings, another rarity for his this year. In 21 games this year, Blanton has gone 7 innings or more only 8 times, including tonight. 6 hits, 1 run and 9 strike-outs later, Blanton left with a 2-1 lead.
But that lead was put in jeopardy when Ryan Madson came in for the 8th and drama ensued. Michaels singled and then Bourn bunted for what looked like an out. Howard tagged him and Bourn seemed to have run out of the baseline but the umpire ruled that Howard missed the tag and Bourn did not go out of the base line until after the tag attempt. Both Utley and manager Charlie Manuel argued the call heatedly, but to no avail. Manuel was tossed from the game.
And that play did wind up costing the Phillies the lead. Madson struck out Hunter Pence but then allowed a 2-run single to Carlos Lee to give the Astros a 3-2 lead. The Phillies then had to play from behind going into the bottom of the 8th.
With the lead gone, Werth was probably having very bad flashbacks to the 6th inning when he fell asleep at 2nd base. Myers was intentionally walking Ruiz to get to Wilson Valdez, who had a huge hit the last time a pitcher did that. But Valdez did not get a shot as Werth hung his head and was quickly thrown out wandering like a zombie off 2nd base. It was a huge opportunity lost.
Fast forward to the 9th and Brad Lidge kept the score steady; the Phils had one last chance to make something happen. Well, nothing happened, except the Phillies lost the game. No scoring in the 9th and the 3-2 score held up.
I will be going to Game 2 of this series tomorrow night to collect the Carlos Ruiz bobblehead doll which will be given away. My seat location sucks, but I hope to get a few photos to post on Wednesday. Game time is 7:05pm and Cole Hamels will pitch for the Phillies.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Before the final game of the Nationals series today, umpire and Philly native Jerry Crawford was honored for his 33 years of MLB service. Today was to be his last Phillies game as he will retire at the end of the year. Crawford was given a standing ovation and a present from the Phanatic; a baby Phanatic doll:
Once the game began, Roy Oswalt was in control. Though he had a rather high pitch count and led off several innings with runners, Oswalt got the job done when he needed to. He was also very effective at the plate with two hits and in his third at-bat, almost hit a home run. The ball went all the way to the warning track in deep center before a Nat tracked it down. A little bit to the left and it would have gone out.
Oswalt gave up 5 hits and a walk in 7 innings without allowing a run. His day was cut short when the skies opened up and dumped buckets of rain onto the field. The 1 hour, 44 minute delay sent many fans home early.
But to that point, the Phillies offense started to hit again. Jimmy Rollins double to lead off the game and a sac fly from Placido Polanco scored him. Later in the 3rd, Oswalt scored after one of his hits and a Polanco single. The 6th inning was interesting as well. With 2 men on and 2 outs, the Nats decided to intentionally walk Carlos Ruiz to get to Wilson Valdez. With the bases then loaded, Valdez made them pay with a 2-run single.
There were a lot of good play both on offense and defense:
And then there were some not so great plays, like a Ruiz throwing error to second. And some weird plays too; if you look at the top row of photos below, you will see Ryan Zimmerman checking out Valdez’s leg; Nats shortstop Ian Desmond, who caught a ground ball which got stuck in the netting of his glove, allowing another hit from Oswalt; and finally, Adam Kennedy puts his hand in a place that Rollins probably did not appreciate:
With a 4-0 lead coming out of the rain delay, Rollins got another hit and Raul Ibanez cranked a 2-run homer to give the Phils a 6-0 win and a 2 game to 1 win in the series. Ibanez, Polanco and Valdez each had 2-RBI on the day. Valdez played in place of Chase Utley who was given a day off to rest.
And now the real fun begins; the Astros are coming to town for a 4-games series. It will be like the Phillies vs. all the guys the Phillies no longer wanted. Both Brett Myers and JA Happ will pitch in the series, plus we will see more old teammates like Michael Bourn, Nelson Figueroa and Jason Michaels. Myers will pitch tomorrow against Joe Blanton at 7:05pm.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game. If it is not working, try again later. TypePad is having issues with photo albums right now.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
After another solid start from pitcher Kyle Kendrick on Thursday against the Astros, the competition for the 5th starters spot is getting more interesting by the day. Kendrick pitched 5 2/3 innings allowing just 1 earned run on 5 hits and 2 walks. His spring ERA stands at 1.37.
Jamie Moyer has only pitched in one “A” game so far and a bunch of “B” games, but he will face the Yankees tonight in his final bid for the 5th spot. Moyer’s one regular spring outing ended with a 1.80 ERA for 1 run over 5 innings of work. Tonight’s game then will likely be the deciding factor.
If Moyer does well, it looks like the spot may be his. However, if he gets beat up by the Yanks, he still may get the nod anyway. Although Kendrick has more than earned the spot and personally, I feel it should be his, the Phillies will probably go with experience over youth. Poor Kyle has all kinds of factors working against him; his youth, Moyer’s huge $8 million dollar salary and the fact that Moyer has never been a bullpen pitcher.
Moyer did work from the pen a little last year when Pedro Martinez arrived, but only for extended innings, like after rain delays. So essentially, he was still being used more as a starter than a bullpen piece. Manager Charlie Manuel seemed very hesitant to put Moyer in for only a few batters which tells you that they were not confident about his ability to pitch out of the bullpen.
My prediction is that the Phillies will go with Moyer and put Kendrick in the pen. After Moyer has a few bad outings, they will probably switch, just like Chan Ho Park and JA Happ did last season. Then again, as with most predictions, anything can happen.
The Phillies were reunited yesterday with former teammate Brett Myers who was the starting pitcher for the Astros. Myers made Philly his home for 11 years, with the same team who drafted him.
Seeing him another uniform was strange. Then again, considering how many ex-Phillies are with the Astros, including Myers, Pedro Feliz, Jason Michaels, Michael Bourn, and Gary Majewski, maybe we should all be Astros fans too? Or maybe not…
Myers left the game early with a strained left groin, but it appears to be minor. Afterwards, Myers spoke about the Philly fans saying, “I felt appreciated when I came out of the game and they all stood up and clapped for me. That was very respectful. Philly fans get a bad rap, but they’re loyal to the guys that played there and have done things for the organization. I really appreciated that. That was classy.” Myers will be missed by many Philly fans and we wish him well…unless he is playing against the Phillies, of course ;o)
if (WIDGETBOX) WIDGETBOX.renderWidget(‘7fe86967-c524-41c0-b03c-c9f9a2fbf72e’);
Photos by Jenn
And the problem is that you have beaten the Phillies 3 games in a row; the first one was a blow-out, the second one is on Brad Lidge, the worst closer in baseball and yesterday’s loss came at the hands of Cole Hamels who got little help from his offense. While this mission has been a total failure, much like the Apollo 13, the Phillies have one more chance at a small amount of redemption this afternoon in Game 4 of the series with the Astros.
Hamels pitched 6 innings in the loss and gave up 4 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks. The most damage was done by ex-Phillie, Michael Bourn who went 2 for 4, stole 2 bases and scored twice. Hamels had Bourn picked off both times he stole but the first time, Jimmy Rollins dropped the ball and the second time, Bourn was milliseconds too fast. It was a very frustrating day for Hamels as the Astros wiped their backsides with him all game long.
Rollins led the game off with a homerun, but it was mostly downhill from there for the offense. The only bright spots at the plate came from the Rollins homer, a solo shot from Ben Francisco and Raul Ibanez went 2 for 4 and looks like he might be ready to break out of his slump. Jayson Werth also hit a solo homer that looked like a fan reached out and grabbed it; the umpires called it a homer and no one argued. It would not have mattered anyway as the Phillies went down 3-4.
A few more September call-ups were added yesterday, although it remains to be seen how much help they will be. John Mayberry Jr. and Kyle Kendrick flew in from Allentown, PA late on Saturday after the Iron Pigs game. Here they are at about 7pm that evening getting ready for the Pigs game:
Personally, I was hoping they would call up Mike Cervenak instead of Mayberry; Cervenak is batting .307 and currently ranks 6th in batting in the International League. Plus, he was the Phillies during the playoff run last season. Mayberry only batted .256 in AAA this year.
So the Phillies final chance to avoid total humiliation at the hands of the Astros will be at 2:05pm this afternoon. JA Happ gets the start – good luck to him!
Photos by Jenn