The Phillies looked like a shell of a team last night against the Miami Marlins, who are possibly the worst team in all of baseball. Leave it to the Phillies to make them look like All-Stars. Ugh.
When Domonic Brown smacked a home run in the second innings, it looked like the Phils might have carried over some momentum from Sunday’s dramatic walk-off win. But that was the end of the momentum and the beginning of Spit-Gate.
Marlins pitcher Alex Sanabia entered Monday’s game with a dismal 5.00 ERA and a 2-6 record. After the Brown homer, Sanabia apparently thought some cheating was in order. He was caught on camera spitting on the ball and did not make any attempt to hide it.
First of all, this is just gross. It is also against MLB rules. But did it really affect the Phillies hitters? Probably not too much…they have basically sucked all season long. However, it did add insult to injury in this very unsettling loss.
Even Cole Hamels could not hide his emotions as he slammed his glove around on the Phillies bench after his outing. And after the game, he did not speak to reporters. I believe Hamels is feeling the same frustration we all are; specifically, WHY can’t this team score runs?! Poor Hamels is now 1-7 on the season. Last year, he had 6 losses for the entire season…already this year, not even half way through the season, he has that total beat.
Two runs allowed in 6 innings should get you a win…unless you are on the Phillies, apparently. Making matters worse, this team is now riddled with injuries. Carlos Ruiz came back after his suspension to play only 16 games before being put on the DL with a strained hamstring. Mike Adams is on the DL with a bad back. John Lannan is still on the DL with no expected return date being reported. And now Ryan Howard has sat out 2 games in a row with a sore knee and possible a torn meniscus.
And at least half of the bullpen may as well be injured; they might actually pitch better. Because our healthy pen cannot stop runs from scoring. Phillippe Aumont gave up 2 more runs last night and has a 4.15 ERA, plus many inherited runners have scored on him. Pretty much everyone in the pen is guilty of that too. And check out some of the other ERA’s: Chad Durbin, 8.10; Jeremy Horst, 5.09; BJ Rosenberg, 20.25 (1 game). Yikes!
As all the crap keeps piling up on this team, it is going to be harder and harder for them to dig their way out of the heap. And I do not want to hear anyone else talk about how it is still early in the season. As far as I am concerned, it is never too early to play winning baseball. And thus far, this team has not shown they can do that.
Game time tonight is 7:10pm; Tyler Cloyd will pitch.
Photo via NBC Sports
I returned from my trip to the Galapagos Islands this weekend just in time to attend today’s Phillies – Reds game. But before we get to that, check out what my little friend the Phanatic was up to on our trip to his homeland. He visited 5 different islands, some beaches and even a distant relative, the Marine Iguana:
Yes, the Phanatic and I had a lovely vacation where we swam with sharks, rays, turtles and fish and wandered the land with giant tortoises. It was amazing!
I had to catch up on my Phillies news when I returned and it appears much has happened. Roy Halladay is having surgery (yikes!), the Phils signed hot-head Carlos Zambrano to a minor league deal (double-yikes!), Raul Valdes became the first regular bullpen guy to get sent down to the minors (more may be coming), Mike Adams has a bad back (oh my…), Tyler Cloyd started a game, Kyle Kendrick returned to earth in a loss yesterday after an amazing start to the season….and oh yeah, the offense still sucks. Did I miss anything?
All that drama aside, the Phillies did manage to pull out a win today, which based on the first 7 ½ innings, did not look likely. Jonathan Pettibone was very solid again, only allowing 2 runs, and the defense backed him up.
But once again the offense was asleep and the feeling of dread grew deeper when Carlos Ruiz was pulled from the game with a strained hamstring.
Finally, the Phillies scratched out a run in the 8th, thanks to Ben Revere legging out a base hit. Revere led the team with 3 hits today. Then in the 9th, it appeared as if the Phils were going down in flames, despite getting the first runner of the inning on base against flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman. Because as soon as Cliff Lee came in to pinch run for Delmon Young, he got picked off at first. Ugh.
But when Erik Kratz smacked a home run to tie the game, the tide turned quickly. Freddy Galvis was up next and hit a line-drive homer just over the left field wall for the walk-off win! It was the first time Chapman gave up more than one homer in a game…ever. Go figure.
So even after a 0-10 pounding on Saturday, the Phillies still walked away with the series win and, hopefully, some momentum going into Miami tomorrow. Game time is 7:10pm.
And here is the Photo Album from today’s win.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Perhaps it is fitting that Cole Hamels did not get his first win of the season until the day Carlos Ruiz returned from a 25-game suspension. Throughout the weekend, the Phillies suddenly began to show signs of life. Maybe a lot of that had to do with the anticipation of Chooch’s return.
After losing 3 of 4 to the Pirates, the Phils proceeded to storm New York and sweep the Mets in 3 games. Kyle Kendrick shut them out on Friday and Jonathan Pettibone collected his first major league win on Saturday. Then Sunday afternoon, Hamels held the Mets to 1 run to complete the sweep.
While Ruiz did not have a huge impact on the game, going 1 for 4, his mere presence did seem to have everyone in high spirits. The game was tied 1-1 going into the 7th; in previous games, this lack of offense would have had the entire team tied up in knots, pressing at the plate. But today, everyone was a little more relaxed.
That 7th inning was the key; Laynce Nix came through again as a pinch-hitter with a 2-out single and Jimmy Rollins followed with a single of his own. Then Ryan Howard, who did not start the game, smacked a 2-run, pinch-hit double to put the Phillies on top. Chase Utley singled to score Howard and add to the lead.
Even the bullpen finally looked normal. Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon each pitched a scoreless inning to nail down the 5-1 win. This is the team we have all been waiting to see. The question is, can they keep the momentum going?
Monday is an off day and Tuesday, the Phillies will be in Cleveland to take on the Indians at 7:05pm.
Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography
Let us examine the latest Phillies performance last night in Cinncinatti: The starting pitching was solid, the offense was mostly absent and the bullpen blew the game in the 8th inning, resulting in a loss. Sound like a familiar scenario? It should; that describes most of the 2012 season. Ugh.
Is this Déjà vu or Déjà voodoo? Has someone or something cast a sleepy spell over this team for the second consecutive year? It is like Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs in the bullpen passing the cursed apple around to the rest of the team. If the drowsy Phils are waiting for Prince Charming to deliver true love’s kiss and wake them up, they may be waiting for quite a long time…
Because if Chase Utley’s 2 run bomb to tie the game up in the 8th inning wasn’t enough to light a fire under this team, I cannot imagine what would be enough. Or how about Cliff Lee’s gutsy performance after a very weird 7th inning? He wound up only allowing 2 runs in 7 innings, which is a pretty good day.
And then there was the amazing, stupendous, brain-warping, Superman catch that Ben Revere made earlier in the game. Nearly everyone on the team starred in awe as Revere flew through the air backwards and nearly horizontal to snag this ball. He even had the presence of mind to throw the ball in to double up the runner, even after smashing face first into the ground after the catch.
Still, this team could not rally late in the game. They had only 5 hits total on the night. Both Jeremy Horst and Mike Adams struggled in the 8th, allowing 2 more runs to the Reds who had also had difficulty finding hits early in the game.
Worse, the Reds came into this game on a 5-game losing streak. The Phillies should have crushed them. Instead, they went down in flames, losing by a score of 4-2. Their offense has been on the Most Wanted list for 4 straight games now. No one seems to know where it went.
Meanwhile, the Braves still only have 1 loss (to the Phils, oddly enough) and the Fightins’ are lurking near the bottom of the NL East in 4th place. Ok, it is only April, I know…still, this team needs to WAKE UP!
Perhaps I am being a little rough on the team here. But it is easier to be angry about a silly baseball game than have to think about what a sad day it was yesterday. Although Monday was Jackie Robinson day, sadly, this was overshadowed by the tragedy in Boston earlier that day. So while I am in the mood to rant, can I just say, what is with these freaking psychopaths bombing innocent people?? I am outraged, as are the rest of the sane to mostly-sane people of the world.
My heart goes out to all the people affected by this senseless act of evil. I wish I had better words to convey my sympathies. But all I can think is sad, sad, sad… :O(
Photo courtesy of ESPN.com
While Cliff Lee is pitching like a man at the peak of his career, Roy Halladay seems to be in a free fall. With an 8-3 pounding of the Mets last night, Lee has started the season off with a 2-0 record. Halladay, on the other hand, has begun with 2 awful losses.
Even the offense seemed pumped to perform for Lee. The Phillies even hit 3 home runs in 1 inning to support their ace on the mound. Ryan Howard, Michael Young and John Mayberry Jr. all went yard for the first time this year.
Lee gave up only 2 earned runs and nearly pitched a complete game, coming just one out shy. Manager Charlie Manual decided his pitch count was high enough at 106 and had Mike Adams finish off the game.
On the exact opposite side of things, Halladay looks like a little lost boy out on the mound searching for home. His 2-7 loss to the Mets on Monday was especially difficult to watch. Halladay allowed 7 runs in only 4 innings before being chased out of the game. The Mets looked like they were taking batting practice off him.
Obviously, there are a lot of problems here. But I would like to point out one issue that I have not heard anyone else mention. Keep in mind, I am not a doctor and this is just an observation on my part; I have no inside knowledge here. The Doc looks like he needs a doc.
The temperature at game time on Monday was 72 degrees, which dropped into the mid-60’s by the 2nd inning. And yet, Halladay was sweating so profusely that it looked like rain coming off the brim of his cap. His face was not just red; it was almost purple. And this is not a new observation. Halladay has been exhibiting the fire-faced sweats since Spring Training.
During the spring, they blamed it on the flu or some kind of virus. I think it is safe to assume he no longer has this virus. Still, in 65 degree weather, at night, Halladay looked like he might pass out on the mound. This is a problem that I think might go beyond age or mechanics. I am seriously beginning to think he may be ill.
I could be totally off base here, but I am worried about the guy. I cannot help but wonder if the medical staff has done any blood tests or if a proud man like Halladay would even submit to such testing?
This very well could just be Father Time catching up to a man who dominated the pitching world for so long. Maybe he is just out of bullets. Maybe the fire-faced sweats are just a combination of the usual work that goes into pitching and a boat-load of stress. And maybe he will figure out how to locate his pitches again and all will be well with the world. I hope that is the case.
Perhaps I am just grasping at straws here for an answer. And I am sure no one wants Roy Halladay to figure out what the issue is more than Roy Halladay. In the meantime, all we can do is watch and hope for the best.
Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies hosted two exhibition games this weekend, signaling the end of Spring Training and the start of the regular season on Monday. As they have the past several years, the Phillies planned a number of special events and surprises on Friday and Saturday.
Friday began with the On-Deck Reception, hosted by the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. There were players signing autographs, several Q & A sessions with players and coaches, and an on-field introduction of the entire team:
I personally got autographs from Domonic Brown (and a photo as well), Erik Kratz, John Mayberry Jr. and Antonio Bastardo. This was my first time attending this particular event and it was well worth the effort. The only bummer of the day was I discovered that the autofocus on my very expensive camera had died :O( Ugh. So I apologize in advance for 2 days worth of so-so photos, as I had to use my mediocre eye sight to manually focus a very large lens.
The prior to the evenings game, players wandered around the stadium greeting fans and some stopped for photos. I had my picture taken with John Lannan, Antonio Bastardo, Humberto Quintero and hitting coach Wally Joyner.
Cliff Lee started the game that night and looked ready to go for the season. But his real highlight was helping Cole Hamels man the Phanatic’s hot dog shooter between innings:
To be honest, the game was rather boring, so the hot dog-interlude was a very welcome distraction. The Phils lost 1-0.
More fun was happening prior to Saturday’s game as well. After some very stealth stalking on my part, I managed to get photos with a few new guys and a Hall of Famer: Mike Adams, Ender Inciarte and third-base-coach/HOF guy, Ryne Sandburg. That was pretty awesome. Both exhibitions games were well worth the trip because of these little extras.
The game itself, however, did not go well against a very potent Blue Jays line-up. The Jays beat up on Kyle Kendrick, who gave up 5 runs in 3 innings. John Lannan took over for the next 3 innings and held the Jays to 1
more run. It was not quite out of reach for the Phillies though until very late. Here are a few highlights:
And Cliff Lee finally got his turn at the helm of the hot dog cannon, with Hamels “feeding” the device:
The end result was a 10-4 loss. But luckily, the game did not count.
The Phillies announced the Opening Day roster afterwards. There were not too many surprises there:
Rotation (5): Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan.
Bullpen (7): Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Antonio Bastardo, Chad Durbin, Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes.
Catchers (2): Erik Kratz and Humberto Quintero.
Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis.
Outfielders (5): Ben Revere, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Ender Inciarte.
Inciarte is a Rule-5 guy; they have to keep him on the roster or offer him back to the D-backs. Only 22-years old, he has never played above High-A level. He offers some depth in the outfield for now. Plus, he is adorable, so I approve ;o)
So here we are, finally! Opening Day! Game time is 7:10pm Monday night in Atlanta.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
A recent Sports Illustrated article graded the Phillies offseason moves a “D.” They summarized it by saying, “Though the trade for Revere gives the Phillies a cost-controlled centerfielder to grow on, they’ve taken steps backward with most of their other moves, and are more likely to repeat last year’s middling showing than contend in a division where the Nationals and Braves have upgraded in impressive fashion.”
This assessment, however, may or may not be totally off-base. I decided to rank some of these moves for myself using not grades, but my emotions about each event. Roger Ebert once said, “Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.” Let’s see if he is correct:
Happy: The trade for centerfielder Ben Revere. He is cheap, young and has room for improvement. My instinct says he will be a pleasant surprise.
Nostalgic Joy: Re-signing RHP Chad Durbin. Durbin is a solid human being and he had a great 2012 with the Braves. Plus he helped the Phillies collect their 2008 World Series championship.
Cautiously Optimistic: Signing Michael Young to play third base. Young seems like another solid human being with a true passion for the game. The question is whether or not he can still play defense. I feel that a guy with this much experience and motivation should be able to work it out.
Conflicted: Adding Chase Utley-hater and lefty John Lannan to the starting rotation. Obviously with the departure of Vance Worley, the Phillies needed a starter. Lannan is cheap, but how well he will perform and his attitude are, at least for me, big question marks.
Confused: Signing outfielder Delmon Young. This guy is a problem child who is also still recovering from offseason ankle surgery. His defense is awful and he has been, not without cause, labeled an anti-Semite with a bad temper. I get the low-risk, high reward school of thought here. What I do not get is why the Phillies would rather mess around with this guy than finally give Domonic Brown a full-time shot at one of the corner outfield spots.
Nervously Nauseous: I am just a wee bit sick to my tummy about the 2-year, $12 million deal the Phillies gave to RHP Mike Adams to be the 8th inning guy. I like Adams if he is healthy. However, he is recovering from thoracic outlet surgery. This is the same surgery that Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals had and his career looks like it may be over. That is a little scary.
Utter Disappointment: Carlos Ruiz’s 25-game suspension for using a banned substance. He did not use steroids, which is a relief. But still, getting caught with ADHD meds when he was forewarned about it after a previously positive test is very disappointing. He knew he’d probably get caught again and did it anyway. *Sigh.*
Sad: Losing Vance Worley in the Ben Revere trade. I wish him luck in Minnesota!
Indifferent: Everything else. A lot of minor moves were made, mostly involving minor league deals and guys past their prime. Unless someone makes a real impact in camp, I cannot imagine there will be much to say about these miscellaneous people.
And my final emotion of the day…
Elation! Spring Training starts tomorrow!