Tagged: Michael Schwimer

Chooch Leads Phillies to a Big Win

If someone had told me that by the end of June this season, Carlos Ruiz would be leading all of baseball in batting average, I may have checked to see if that person was running a fever.  Chooch has always been a good player; but he has never been .361 with 10 home runs-good.  The 10 homers, including one in last night’s 5-4 win over the Pirates, is a career high.  And it is only June…

So yes, Chooch leads everyone in batting average with .361.  That is better than past MVP’s Joey Votto and Josh Hamilton.  Ruiz has also outhit fellow catchers and All-Star voting leaders Yadier Molina and Brian McCann. Soooooo….VOTE FOR CHOOCH!  We have until Thursday to get him to the All-Star game!

But even if that fails, manager Charlie Manuel told reporters yesterday that he plans on calling Tony La Russa, the NL All-Star team manager, to plead the case for Chooch.  Manuel always sticks up for his players, but especially in this case, Ruiz really deserves the honor.

Chooch put his stamp all over last night’s win.  He went 3-for-4 with a homer and 2 RBI.  And while catching, Ruiz saved two runs from scoring by blocking the plate and tagging out the runners.

The biggest of those plays came in the 7th inning after starter Vance Worley got into a real jam.  With no outs, 2 runners on base and 1 run already across, Worley was removed and rookie Michael Schwimer took over.  Schwimer coaxed a ground out and then a short fly ball to left.  One the fly ball, John Mayberry Jr. made a great throw home, which Ruiz caught and tagged the runner for an inning-ending double play.

That play kept the Phillies lead intact and Chooch’s subsequent homer added to that lead.  The home run he hit in the 8th turned out to be a game saver as closer Jonathan Papelbon struggled in the 9th, allowing a solo homer.  But the Ruiz blast made the difference in the 5-4 win.

The Phillies have now won 2 of the first 4 games against the Pirates, which is great news; because tonight’s 7:05pm game is going to be started and finished by the Phillies bullpen.  The rainout on Friday forced a juggling of the pitching staff, leaving them 1 starter short this week.  So Raul Valdes will start the game and likely pitch 3 innings, passing the ball on to the rest of the pen after that.

And while you are watching the game, do not forget to VOTE FOR CHOOCH!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Dear Phillies, Please Stop Toying With Our Emotions

After two big wins over the Rockies on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Phillies failed to sweep the series with a loss on Thursday.  And the Rockies are a team they very well should have swept.

The first two victories gave fans hope that this struggling team might finally be getting their act together.  They played well and showed a winning attitude.  But last night’s disaster saw those hopes dashed and frustration set it once again.

It is not that they lost the game.  This is baseball; losses happen.  The issue is how they lost the game.

Let us begin by looking at the opposing pitcher, Jeff Francis.  This guy had a minor league deal with the Reds this year, who finally released him.  The Rockies picked him up and Francis had a 12.46 ERA in 2 starts for them coming into this game.  This is a guy that the Phillies should have absolutely pounded.

Instead, they left 7 men on base and went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.  Worse than that, the Phillies continue to fail to score runners from 3rd with less than 2 outs.  In the 2nd inning, Jimmy Rollins, who homered to start the game, popped out with 1 out and a man on third.  J-Roll had 2 pop-outs and a ground ball double play to go with his solo homer in this game.

Then in the 8th, the Phillies squandered a lead-off double by Ty WiggintonHunter Pence struck out swinging at a crap pitch…again.  Carlos Ruiz flied out and Shane Victorino popped out to end the inning.  Both Pence and Victorino walked back to the dugout to a chorus of boo’s from the frustrated fans who are tired of watching the same mistakes over and over and over…

As for the pitching, Vance Worley and his bone-chip plagued elbow were a bit shaky.  But he kept the team in the game and walked off the mound to a 2-1 score with the Phillies trailing.  Still, he did all he could.

But the bullpen failed once again.  Chad Qualls had a bad inning but escaped without allowing a run thanks to a good defensive play by Ruiz at home plate.  Still, Qualls heard the boo’s too as his season has been much worse than you would expect from a veteran bullpen guy.

The problem there is that the rest of the pen is mostly rookies who are clearly not ready for the bigs.  Between Jake Diekman and Michael Schwimer, the Rockies padded their lead to a 4-1 score.

Down by 3 runs in the 9th, there would be no comeback on this day as the Phillies went down in order.  Yes, right back to the old 2012 ways we have become so accustomed to this season.

A 3-game series with the Rays begins tonight and fans can only pray for a miracle.  Cliff Lee will try, once again, to get his first win of the season.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Disaster Continues as Phillies Drop Series to the O’s

Losing their second straight game to the Orioles, the Phillies leave town today 8 games behind in the NL East and in last place.  But today’s loss was special.  It sucked more than most.

The Phillies had the bases loaded 3 times with Carlos Ruiz as the batter and scored only 1 run on a wild pitch.  When your best player cannot get a hit 3 consecutive times with the bases loaded, you know it is going to be a very bad day.

But worse than that, Cliff Lee still does not have a win, even after 10 starts.  Although today, it was actually his own doing.  Lee blew a 3 run lead by giving up a 3-run homer in the 4th inning.  As a result, Lee’s ERA finally floated above 3.00; he is currently at 3.18.

So not only did the offense and pitching suck, the defense was bad again too.  After 9 errors this season, including a big one today, Ty Wigginton should not be playing 3rd base…ever.  His huge error in the 10th cost the Phillies the game.

However, with Placido Polanco sidelined with a bad wrist, Wiggy keeps getting the nod. They could put Michael Martinez at 3rd, but then you are stuck with Mike Fontenot at 2nd and his defense has been worse than anyone expected.  We are talking little league level here…bad.

The pickings are slim and so therefore are the Phillies chances at recovering from this disaster.  It may be too early to give up just yet, but it is a tempting thought.  Why not bring up some more Triple-A guys and see who rises to the challenge?  I am sure Domonic Brown would agree.

Here is a small piece of good news:  Michael Schwimer found his groove in 3 innings of scoreless relief today.  Sorry though, that is all I have on the good news side.

Monday is an off-day as the battered Phils fly to Minnesota to take on the Twins for 3-games.  Oh wait, that might be good news…the Twins suck about as bad as the Phillies do.  See, it is the little things that make us happy.  Or, not…

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Lehigh Valley Train Keeps Rolling as Phillies Finally Win a Game

Falling behind fast in the NL East, the Phillies were more than due for a team shake up which began on Thursday.  Over the course of almost 3 days here is who is in and who is out:

COMING IN FROM LEHIGH VALLEY:

LHP Jake Diekman, 25 years old (no major league experience), LHP Raul Valdes, 34 years old (2 years in majors, 6 in minors), Third baseman Hector Luna, 32 years old (parts of 7 years in majors out of 11 years total), 2nd and 3rd baseman Mike Fontenot, 31 years old (6th season in majors out of 8).

OUTTA HERE:

LHP Joe Savery (to Lehigh Valley), RHP Michael Schwimer (to Lehigh Valley when Cliff Lee came off the DL), RHP Brian Sanches (to Lehigh Valley), Catcher Erik Kratz (to Lehigh Valley), Outfielder Laynce Nix (to the 15-day DL with a strained left calf), Oufielder Scott Podsednik (to the Boston Red Sox for cash).

Is your head spinning yet?  Here is an analogy for you: Remember years ago when people joked that McDonalds chicken McNuggets were “pieces parts?”  You had no idea if you ate one what exact part or grade of chicken you might be getting.  That is now the Philadelphia Phillies.  They are going to toss out onto the field some “pieces parts” and see what happens.  Just call them the “McPhillies.”

Last night’s version of the McPhillies actually tasted ok.  Thanks to 3-RBI nights and home runs from both Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry Jr., things worked out well and ended in a 7-3 win.  Freddy Galvis added an RBI as well with a double in the 6th inning.

It appears that Galvis is getting a little better at the plate everyday, which is great news.  And Mayberry has a 4-game hitting streak going, which means maybe he is out of the slump.  That would be huge for this team because Mayberry can add some real power if he keeps going well.

Vance Worley had a quality start with 3 runs allowed in 6 innings.  So the bullpen was going to have to hold the Padres to those 3 runs, which they have been unable to do in many games now.  But magically, both Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls decided they like their jobs and pitched pretty well.  I say magic, but perhaps it was the oncoming lights of the Lehigh Valley train that inspired them?

Whatever it was, it’s a win and we’ll take it.  Can the new McPhillies pull off 2 wins in a row?  We shall see…game time tonight is 7:05pm.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Hitting Rock Bottom

You may have thought that the Phillies hit rock bottom days ago.  It was hard to imagine things getting much worse.  And yet, it did get worse.  After getting swept in 3 games by the Mets yesterday, I think we can officially say, here it is; rock bottom.

And it is not because they were swept by the Mets that this is rock bottom.  It is because of the manner in which they were beaten, or slaughtered, if you prefer a stronger term.  Murphy’s Law even entered the equation last night.  Anything that could go wrong did.

Through the first six innings, we saw a glimmer of hope.  The offense was hitting, Cliff Lee was pitching well in his first start off the DL; he even collected an RBI for himself.  But not wanting to push Lee too hard in his return, he was pulled after 6 innings.  From the time the 7th inning began, it was clear that the Phillies bullpen would pull out all the stops to LOSE the game.

Let me begin by saying I have never been impressed with Kyle Kendrick as a pitcher.  I am sure he is a fine human being, but his pitching usually leaves a lot to be desired.  He is inconsistent, he gets rattled easily and he wanders about with that awful, sad puppy look on his face.

And last night, he managed to impose the sad puppy face upon every Phillies fan watching the game.  With a 4-2 lead to start the inning, before he recorded a single out, Kendrick gave up a double, 2 walks and then hit the 4th batter to force in a run.  By the time the inning ended, the Mets had 3 more runs and a 5-4 lead.

But Kendrick was not done yet.  He gave up 2 more runs in the 8th without recording an out.  Jose Contreras helped him out and added a run of his own.  Then Brian Sanches gave up a solo homer in the ninth.  That is 8 runs out of the bullpen, 7 of them earned runs, which led to an embarrassing 10-6 loss.

The defense added to the humiliation as Shane Victorino dove for a ball which wound up flying right by him.  And Hunter Pence dropped an easy fly ball that was right in his glove.

Manager Charlie Manuel was so disgusted after the game, he finally ripped into the team.  Manuel said they needed to play better and prepare better.  The preparation bit is what was alarming.  Are these guys just strolling into the ballpark without getting ready physically and mentally?  That sure is what it seems like.

That would also confirm my theory that this team is not focused and an overall sense of complacency has set in.  Complacency or apathy could be occurring for a variety of reason including past success, arrogance about one’s abilities, off-field distractions, making a ton of money and the fact that many of these guys have already won the big prize.

While I would hate to think that about this Phillies team, the reality is that all of those factors may be playing a part.  As an example, you know who is the opposite of complacent?  A guy like Freddy Galvis, who is working his behind off.  Galvis was a homer short of the cycle last night, plus his defense and intensity are off the charts.  Why?  Because he has something to prove.  He is trying to stick in the majors, make a good impression and someday, get his payday.

Look around this team.  Are there guys who look a bit less focused than others?  You know how they say hitting is contagious?  Well, so is complacency.

I would say a number of changes are coming this team’s way in the very near future.  They have already sent reliever Joe Savery back to the minors.  Michael Schwimer went as well.  Here is what I think they should do:  If someone is not doing their job, like the entire bullpen, for instance, then bring in someone who will get it done or at least give you a complete effort.

I do not care if they stock this team full of rookies.  Because if they are going to suck, I’d rather see players out there who are giving it 100% and living up to their potential.  This team has spent way too much money on talented players to be this bad.  They need a shake up…fast.

Thursday is an off-day, which many of the players will spend at a Chase Utley charity event this evening.  But on Friday, the Padres come to town and they need to be ready.  Cross your fingers…

 

 

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Player photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Dead Last

I am not sure which word in my article title is more disturbing; “dead” or “last.”  If you haven’t looked at the NL East standings lately, take a moment to prepare yourself for the worst.  The Phillies are dead last and the only team in the division that is playing under .500 baseball.

At the start of the year, we all figured they might snap out of it but that is just not happening.  They just plain suck.  And that fact was no more evident than last night against the Mets in a 7-4 loss after leading by 4 runs at the start of the game.

Here is what we have learned about this Phillies team recently:  They cannot hold a lead.  The bullpen stinks.  The offense is schizophrenic; you never know what might happen next.  Wikipedia defines schizophrenia as “…disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction.”  That about sums it up.

The Phillies took a quick 4-run lead in this game, thanks in part to a Hunter Pence 2-run homer.  John Mayberry Jr. had 2 hits and is starting to find his swing.  But that is where the good new ends.

Joe Blanton left the game with 2 outs in the 7th inning and 2 runners on base.  Then Chad Qualls punched him in the gut by allowing both runs to score.  Adding to the disaster, Pete Orr botched a play at second base, which led to the Mets to taking a 5-4 lead.

Late in games, a one run deficit seems almost impossible to overcome for this team.  So as if that were not bad enough, reliever Michael Schwimer added 2 more Mets runs in the 8th.  That was the nail in the coffin.

You could not even change channels last night for some relief. The Flyers lost and were ousted from the playoffs.  The Sixers lost and have to play again on Thursday.  There was no escape…it was a very bad day for Philly sports.

But the drama continues tonight as the Phillies will attempt to salvage one lousy game from the lousy Mets.  Ugh.  Cliff Lee will come off the DL and pitch starting at 7:05pm…he is our only hope for a win :O(

 

 

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Umpires Rob Phillies of a Run Who Lose In 11 Innings

When the umpires become the big story of a game, something is very wrong.  But that is what happened in tonight’s Phillies – Nationals game starting immediately in the first inning of an eventual 4-3 Phils loss.

With the Nats 19-year old newbie at the plate in the 1st, the home plate ump gave him a walk on a check swing that was not a check swing.  Even without replay, you could see that Bryce Harper’s bat did cross the plate.

Understandably, Charlie Manuel was upset.  Because not only was the strike obvious, but there was NO umpire at third to call it due to Joe West being ill.  As a result, the remaining 3 umpires were on the defensive right away.  Manuel had barely yelled a few words from the dugout when the home plate umpire tossed him from the game without hesitation.

So the Phillies lost their manager in the 1st inning and the umpire disgrace rolled further downhill after that.  With Shane Victorino on 2nd base in the 7th, Carlos Ruiz smashed a ball right over the 3rd base bag that should have been an RBI double.  But again, with NO umpire at third, it was ruled a foul ball.  Seconds later, Victorino stole 3rd base and was called out even though he was never tagged.  Remember, there was NO umpire to see this so I guess they just tossed a coin.

Ruiz singled right after that, but no run scored because Victorino had been called out erroneously.  Essentially, the umpires robbed the Phillies of the same run twice!

With 3 huge blown calls, the manager ejected and an RBI taken away from the Phillies, the umpires were not done yet.  Because during the next 1/2 inning, the idiot who called Victorino out was seen vehemently defending himself to Victorino as he ran out to center field.  He actually appeared to be yelling at Victorino as he waved his hands around for emphasis.  Seriously?  YOU blow a bunch of calls and have the nerve to yell at the player?  Disgusting.

Calls started going against the Nationals too, although not game-changing.  With the exact same situation as the 1st inning and Harper at bat again, he was called out on a check swing in the 7th.  This time, he actually did not swing.

My question is this:  WHY can MLB not afford an extra umpire for when this happens again?  If someone gets sick, you have a replacement.  If not, he can sit in the booth and HELP by watching replays on close calls.  Give the umpires earpieces or radios and have the 5th ump call down with the correct call.

Because isn’t the most important thing to get the call right?  Or does MLB think catering to umpire egos is more important?  And if they don’t like the 5th umpire idea, then you HAVE to allow replay.  Blown calls should NOT be affecting the outcome of a game in the modern era.  Was no one paying attention when Jim Joyce cost a kid a perfect game with a blown call?

I hope these idiot umpires go back and watch film of this game and see everything they screwed up.  But I guarantee you this; none of them will feel anywhere near as badly as Joyce did after his blown call.  That man at least had the class and humanity to admit his mistake.  But aside from Joyce, when no one is held accountable for their actions, this will never change.

Granted, you cannot put all the blame for this loss on the umpires.  The Phillies offense squandered chances.  But they should have had a 4-3 lead going into the 8th inning.  Instead, they took a 3-3 ballgame 11 innings, blew out their bullpen and lost the game once reliever Michael Schwimer had gone 3 innings and his arm was ready to fall off.

There is always tomorrow, of course.  But that does not make this one suck any less.

Game 2 – Saturday, 1:05pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography