Tagged: Michael Schwimer

Doc Disassembled: Roller Coaster Game Ends in Disaster

After a 4-2 win over the Braves on Tuesday night, the Phillies felt good entering Wednesday’s game.  The offense was finally starting to score runs and they would have ace pitcher Roy Halladay on the mound.  Even better, they took a 6-0 lead into the 5th inning.

Placido Polanco just kept getting hits and Shane Victorino road his coat tails.  Then Laynce Nix smashed a bases-clearing, 3-run double in the 3rd.  Things were going very, very well.

Then the impossible happened…Halladay got hammered.  If you try saying out loud, “Halladay blew a 6-run lead,” it may actually seem like you are speaking Greek.  Add to that, “Halladay gave up 8 runs in less than two innings,” and you now have the equivalent of an extra-terrestrial language never before spoke on planet earth.

But that is exactly what happened.  The Braves disassembled the Doc like he was a faulty robot that short circuited.  The beating even included a Grand Slam, just to add a little more salt to the wound.  Ouch.

Halladay has not looked like his old self in a few games now and the questions about his health are bound to pile up like a mound of steaming dog poo.  Whatever is going on, it does not smell good.

If you think about the way the Phillies offense has played so far this year, just as unthinkable as Halladay getting hit for 8 runs is this team coming back after those 8 runs.

And yet, the temporary reassembly of this Phillies game began with a 3-run homer off the bat of Carlos Ruiz in the 7th inning.  Chooch was determined to get his pitcher off the hook, because in the 8th inning, he added 3 more runs with a bases-clearing double.  That gave him a total of 7 RBI on the night.  Insane.

With a 12-8 lead in the 8th, the insanity was not yet over.  As hard as Ruiz worked to get the Phillies ahead, the bullpen seemed to work just as hard to blow it.  By the time Jose Contreras was pulled, he had allowed a run and loaded the bases, thanks in part to a huge error by Jimmy Rollins.

Michael Schwimer came in to pitch and walked in a run on 4 pitches.  And of course, the next batter singled in 2 more runs to tie the game…again.  This time, it was 12-12.  But that did not last long.  Schwimer gave up a sac fly and Braves took a 13-12 lead.

You could not have scripted a weirder game.  And I could not have shouted any more cuss words at my TV.  Not because I could not think of any…because I lost my damn voice.  If you ever find yourself asking the question, “How do you blow a huge lead…multiple times?,” just watch a replay of this game.  Disgusting.

Think the Phillies had a second comeback in them?  Well, they did tie it up…again…13-13 in the 9th, sending the game to extra innings.  But relief pitcher Brian Sanches, on the roster for David Herndon who is on the DL, gave up a 2-run homer to Chipper Jones in the 11th.  The walk-off win for the Braves wasted the only solid offensive effort from the Phils all year.  Just sickening.

If you can stomach it, game 3 with the Braves starts early on Thursday at 12:10pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Offense Finally on a Roll…

In the last two games, the Phillies have scored a total of 15 runs.  Since the start of the season, it did not look like that sort of run production was ever going to happen.  But Wednesday’s 7-2 win over the Diamondbacks may actually signal the awakening of this offense.

Cole Hamels certainly helped the situation with another great start, putting the Phillies in position to win.  Through 8 strong innings, Hamels allowed only 2 runs on 4 hits and struck out 7 batters.  He also lit things up at the plate with a 2-run single in the 6th inning.

This game was a real team effort, with everyone in the line-up contributing, even if it was just a sacrifice to move runners.  The biggest stand-out though was Placido Polanco who looked like the player of old.  He was on base after every at bat with 3 hits, 2 walks and an RBI.

Carlos Ruiz also had a 3-hit game and Hunter Pence collected 2 hits.  Now if the Phillies can just get Jimmy Rollins going, this might actually be a descent line-up again.

Thursday is an off-day with a 4-game home series beginning with the Cubs on Friday.  You know what the cure for a suffering offense is?  That’s right…the Cubs.  Cross your fingers…

Injury Updates:

As you may have heard, relief pitcher Mike Stutes is on the DL.  He has not looked the like the vibrant pitcher he was since about the final month of last season.  While this is concerning, his replacement, Michael Schwimer looked very sharp in Wednesday’s win.

As for Ryan Howard, he is still taking it easy.  But his wound is finally healing which means he may be able to start real baseball activity within the next week.

And my favorite topic of discussion, Chase Utley: Reportedly, Utley is feeling no knee pain while batting and some pain while fielding.  He took batting practice in Arizona with the team and many were encouraged by his swing.  However, here is a word of caution about all the optimism…

As a person with chronic knee issues, worse that what Utley has, I can tell you this; I also feel no pain while swinging a bat…ok, in my knees at least ;o)  The joint rotation does not bother me.  However, running and anything involving impact, like chasing ground balls, is a whole other story.

I have not been able to play serious baseball since I was 16 years old after blowing out both my knees.  But it was not because I could not still hit; it was because I could not run.  All these years later, I can still hit, but I still cannot run and never will.  Are you following my thought process here?

Granted, I have worse issues that Utley.  But my point is, yes, he looks good hitting.  But the real test will be impact movements, like running.  The fact that Utley still has some pain while fielding is not a good sign.  Running is generally more strenuous than fielding due to the repetition of the impact on the knees.  So if it is hard to field, running will only make that worse.

I am a huge Chase Utley fan and I would love nothing more than to see him get better and back to his old self.  However, all of this makes me very nervous.  If he comes back too early, he can do more damage to his knees.  But we all want him to come back sooner than later and I am sure he does as well.

So be optimistic; but be cautiously optimistic.

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Spring Officially Kicks off with 3-Straight Phillies-Yankees Games

In the 1st of 3 games against the Yankees to start Spring Training, the Phillies dropped the game by a score of 8-5.  Cole Hamels started the game and tossed 2 innings, allowing 1 run.

The Yankees and their fans were salivating as Hamels pitched because Hamels could be a free agent after this year.  Hopefully, the Phillies will handle that issue before it comes down to a financial slug-fest with the Yanks.  Because we all know who wins that particular battle…

The first recorded RBI of spring came off the bat of Raul Ibanez…in a Yankees uniform.  The Phils will miss Ibanez’s personality in the clubhouse, but it was time to part and get a little younger in the outfield.  I wish Raul the best!

When watching early spring games, it can be hard to judge a players performance.  The games do not count, so wins and losses are just a meaningless statistic.  Veteran players are the most difficult to judge as they will use spring to get in shape and work on their technique.  So if a guys like Hamels, for example, gives up 5 runs, it does not mean much.  Maybe he is working on his grip, his delivery or trying out something new.  Spring is the time for veterans to  pace themselves, avoid injury and work out the kinks.

What you should really be looking at are the young guys and the players fighting for a roster spot.  This year, the Phillies have a number of battles brewing.  Both the bullpen and the bench have spots ready for the taking.

In the pen, watch for Dontrelle Willis, Justin DeFratus, Phillppe Aumont and Michael Schwimer, among others, to be vying for a spot on the big club.  Now, unlike the veterans, these are the guys who need to bring it every time they are out there.  It is all about who makes the biggest impression.

Willis pitched 1 inning yesterday and gave up a run on two hits.  Willis showed signs of the pitcher he used to be, but then also left his fastball up in the zone way too many times.  And there are plenty of younger guys standing by to try to knock him off.

As for the bench, Michael Martinez, who was here last year, now has a lot more competition to deal with.  Other utility guys like Scott Podsednik and Juan Pierre will be trying to make the team as well.  Podsednik is especially intriguing as he hit .304 and .297 in 2009 and 2010.  But he missed the 2011 season with a foot injury.  If he does well this spring and stays healthy, he has a shot to make the team as an extra outfielder.

This should be a very entertaining spring.

Game 2 with the Yankees today starts at 1:05pm today where we get our first look of the year at Roy Halladay in action!

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Award Season: Which Phillies Made the Grade So Far

Despite an early exit from the playoffs, the Phillies 102 regular season wins and stellar individual performances have earned some players much deserved honors.

Earlier this offseason, Placido Polanco was awarded a Gold Glove for his work at third base.  Polly also won the award playing second base for the Tigers in 2007 and 2009.  He and Darin Erstad are now the only two players in big league history to win a Gold Glove at multiple positions.

MLB.com also handed out awards on Monday.   Ryan Howard was named the club’s Player of the Year, while right-hander Roy Halladay was chosen the team’s Pitcher of the Year.  And rookie right-hander Vance Worley was voted the Breakout Player of the Year.

Not to be outdone, the Philadelphia chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America put its two cents in as well.  Center-fielder Shane Victorino was the winner of the Mike Schmidt Award  for Most Valuable Player and left-hander Cliff Lee received the Steve Carlton Award for Most Valuable pitcher.

The big awards come out next week which will include Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year and the Cy Young award.  It is expect that many Phillies will be considered for these top honors, but realistically, none of them will win.  Charlie Manuel is overlooked every year in the manager category; Worley will probably lose out to Freddie Freeman.  As for the Cy Young, both Halladay and Lee will probably get passed over in favor of Clayton Kershaw who had 21 wins and an almost invisible 2.28 ERA.

Of course, anything can happen.  But those are my predictions…how about you?  Leave your best guess in the comments and we will see who gets it right.

And if anyone missed it, here is my annual Phillies Photo Tribute slideshow.  Enjoy!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

2011 Phillies Photo Tribute

I just finished my yearly Phillies photo tribute!  I shot all of these photos during the 2011 season which include game photos, every player who was on the big league roster (even if for only a split second), a few alumni shots and other goodies.

The “For Fun” section is my favorite.  I collect funny shots throughout the year, like players with the giggles, guys sticking out their tongues, silly faces and lots more.  Do not worry, they are all family friendly.  The really fun ones I keep to myself ;o)

Enjoy!

 

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Roster in Place, the Phillies Are Ready for the NLDS

Game 1 of the NLDS is scheduled for a 5:07 start tonight.  Here is the post-season roster for the Phillies:

  • Catchers (2): Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider.
  • Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez.
  • Outfielders (6): Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry Jr., Ben Francisco and Ross Gload.
  • Pitchers (11): Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton.
  • Extras: Infielder Pete Orr and Catcher Erik Kratz will travel with the team. RHP Justin De Fratus, LHP Joe Savery and outfielder Domonic Brown will work out in Clearwater, FL and Outfielders John Bowker and Brandon Moss and RHP Michael Schwimer have been sent home.

The only slightly interesting move here is that Blanton was chosen for the roster instead of David Herndon, despite missing most of the season with injuries.  The Phillies chose experience over a younger guy, even though Herndon was with the team most of the year.

As for the pitching match-ups in the series, here are the probable starters for the Phillies and Cardinals:

  • Game 1: Roy Halladay vs. Kyle Lohse (ex-Phillie)
  • Game 2: Cliff Lee vs. Chris Carpenter (on 3 days rest)
  • Game 3: Cole Hamels vs. Jaime Garcia

These are some odd moves by Tony LaRussa.  It will either turn out to be genius, or a huge mistake.  The Phillies should be able to handle Lohse and will then get Carpenter on short rest.  That is another situation they can probably take advantage of.

The pitcher the Phils have the most trouble with is Garcia, who was pushed back to Game 3 because his home numbers are much better than his road numbers.

This all seems to add up to a Phillies advantage, however, that remains to be seen.  Also of note, Game 2 has been pushed back to 8:37pm (ugh) on Sunday due to the Yankees – Tigers rain postponement.

I also wanted to share with you an article I just read about how Danys Baez has helped Antonio Bastardo out of his recent pitching funk.  Baez was released by the Phillies in July and was not picked up by another team.  He has been sitting at home in Miami watching and noticed Bastardo, a player he previously mentored, was having problems.  He reached out to Bastardo and helped him find the issues in his mechanics.

Bastardo has bounced back since then and it seems that Baez is the reason.  The story made me a little sad, thinking about how much criticism Baez took while he was in Philly from fans and media.  For him to swallow his pride and reach out to an ex-teammate like that is a sign of true character.  He may not have been the bullpen solution the Phillies hoped for, but he gets huge brownie points in my book for just being a great guy.

Hope to see you all at the game tonight!  Go Phillies!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Extra-Inning Bummer as Phillies Wait to Clinch

Against the Cardinals, Phillies rookie pitcher Vance Worley had another adventurous, yet effective, outing.  Through 6 innings, the Vanimal allowed one run on six hits and three walks.  The run was issued on a bases loaded walk.  Worley seems to have a knack for allowing base runners which elevates his pitch count.  He gets out of the jams, but cannot go deep into games as a result.

But Worley limited the damage, giving the Phillies a chance.  The offense however, took that chance and sat on it.  This turned out to be the 8th straight game where the Phillies scored three runs or less.

Once again, one of the few Phillies in the line-up able to hit was John Mayberry Jr. who went 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI.  In the field, Mayberry was not so sharp, bobbling or missing three balls at first base.  He was charged with one official error, although none of the goofs really hurt the team.

What actually hurt the team was the lack of hitting, which also resulted in extra innings.  The first four hitters in the line-up combined to go 0-for-18 through 11 innings.  As a team, the Phillies tallied only seven hits, left the bases loaded with one out and left eight men on base.

Losing 2-1, the Phillies tied the game up in the 9th.  After a Ryan Howard pinch-hit double, Carlos Ruiz sent a fly ball to right, which was dropped by the fielder.  But then in the 11th, the 2-2 tie was broken after rookie pitcher Michael Schwimer allowed two runs, giving the Cards a 4-2 lead.  So yesterday Schwimer got his first major league win and today, his first loss.  His ERA has ballooned to 4.82.
 

In the bottom of the 11th, the Phillies got a single from Placido Polanco, but did nothing else.  John Bowker, who is now 0-7 as a Phillie, made the final out for the 4-2 loss.

The offense, which was cooking earlier this month, has suddenly stalled.  The good news is that the Mets are currently spanking the Braves by a score of 11-2 in the 8th inning.  If that score holds, the Phillies need only one game to clinch the NL East.

Division Magic # – 2 games (at time of posting)

Home Field Advantage Magic # – 4  games

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*