The Phillies ended the 2010 regular season today with the best record in baseball for the first time in franchise history. Their 97-65 record is even more impressive when all of the injuries they suffered this year are added to the equation. Unfortunately, the injuries do not appear to be behind them yet.
In the 8-7 loss to the Braves today, catcher Carlos Ruiz was plunked on the elbow by a Tim Hudson pitch. He appeared to be in a great deal of pain and eventually, he left the game. There has been no word yet about how serious it may be.
Another potential huge loss heading into the playoffs may be JC Romero. After throwing a pitch in the 6th inning, Romero signed to the coaches that he was hurt. Reports are that he is suffering from left lower back soreness. If he cannot play, it looks like lefty Antonio Bastardo will be a lock for the postseason roster. Having only one lefty in the pen may not be a great idea, but the Phils may have no choice.
The only real highlights early in today’s game were 2-run homers by both John Mayberry Jr. and Jayson Werth. Also, Cole Hamels pitched very well for 2 innings in his postseason warm-up. Everyone else had issues getting desperate Braves hitters out. Even Roy Oswalt gave up a run in one inning of work. Joe Blanton allowed 2 runs and the big damage was done by Danys Baez. Baez allowed 4 runs in only 2/3 of an inning, likely cementing his new roll as a cheerleader instead of a spot on the postseason roster.
But as the Phillies are known to do late in games, the offense started cooking again in the 8th inning. With 2 outs, Jimmy Rollins singled and Mike Sweeney reached base on a Braves error. Wilson Valdez hit an RBI single and Ben Francisco doubled in 2 more runs. The game got a lot closer, with the Phillies trailing by a score of 8-7. But in the 9th, they were unable to score and the Braves went on to win.
While the Braves won, their playoff hopes are still in the hands of the Padres, who are playing the Giants right now. They will know more in a few hours.
In the meantime, congratulations to the Phillies, officially the BEST team in baseball right now!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In game 3 of this Phillies – Nationals series, the playoff-bound Phils looked very relaxed. Joe Blanton pitched 7 fairly easy innings allowing only 3 hits and one unearned run. Blanton probably will not get much playing time in the NLDS as the rotation is set up to include only Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. So this was a good outing for Blanton to end the regular season with; his final record is 9-6 with a 4.74 ERA.
A barrage of home runs from the Phillies bench players helped Blanton out tonight. Taking full advantage of extra playing time, Ben Francisco smashed two home runs and went 3 for 4 at the plate with 3 RBI. John Mayberry Jr. also had a big night with a 3-run homer and a single. Mayberry made vast improvements in AAA this year and is now hitting both right and left handed pitching well.
Also joining the home run party was Mike Sweeney; he whacked a long ball to left center in the 2nd. He and Francisco went back to back that inning. And you know what a Sweeney home run means…HUGS for everyone! If you do not know what I mean, check out my “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney” Facebook page.
I love watching this guy play; he has brought an exuberance to this team that is rarely seen. It will be a joy to see him in the playoffs, finally, after 16 years in the majors.
Catcher Paul Hoover also got some playing time, but went 0 for 4 at the plate. Regulars like Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Wilson Valdez (a regular due to many injuries) all went hitless. But Greg Dobbs bounced back after a bad game yesterday and had 2 hits. The best pinch hitter in the National League in 2008, Dobbs has suffered a very bad season this year. Maybe this extra playing time will snap him out of the funk.
The Phillies went on to win the game by a score of 7-1, giving them a record of 95-64, which will either be the best record in baseball or very close to tied for the best after all the games are done tonight. The Phils are off tomorrow and will return on Friday. The remaining 3 games will be in Atlanta where the Braves are still battling for the Wild Card spot.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
With a 3-game sweep of the Marlins completed tonight, the Phillies have increased their NL East lead to 3 games over the Braves. Roy Halladay picked up his 19th win of the year while allowing 3 runs over 6 innings. Halladay does appear to be tiring as we near the end of the regular season, but is still pitching effectively. If the Phils can add to their 3-game lead over the Braves, perhaps Halladay can get some much needed rest before the potential playoff run.
Another big event tonight besides #19 for Halladay involved Shane Victorino. He completed a quadruple double for the season; with a triple tonight, he now has double digits in steals (32), doubles (24), triples (10) and home runs (17). Victorino had 2 hits total tonight plus and RBI.
Other big contributors to the 10-5 win were Raul Ibanez and Wilson Valdez who each had 3 hits and 2 RBI. Ryan Howard reached base 3 times by drawing walks and Chase Utley hit a long homer to right field. After scoring only 2 runs last night, a 10-run explosion was fun to watch.
The Phillies have the day off tomorrow before starting a 9-game home stand; 3 games each with the Nationals, Braves and Mets. The Braves series will be pivotal in determining the 2010 Phillies fate. The Phils have shuffled their pitching rotation to have the big 3 go against the Braves; Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt. But the next game with be with the Nats on Friday at 7:05pm; Oswalt will pitch.
Since there is an off-day tomorrow, I have a special off-day blog planned. Yesterday, I spent time with former Phillies catcher, Darren Daulton, at the 97.5 FM The Fanatic studios during his radio show. I will tell you all about that and have photos to post from my tour of the station as well. Check back for that!
Also feel free to check out my new Facebook community page, “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney.” You can join the group and add your own thoughts and photos. Remember, real men hug. ;o)
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Before we get into the game tonight, here is an update on all the recent injuries and roster moves. On Wednesday night, pitcher Nate Robertson gave up 6 runs in less than 1 inning; when that happened, he signed his exit papers. Robertson was designated for assignment and the Phillies claimed righty Caesar Carrillo off waivers from the Padres to take his spot.
Another righty, Scott Mathieson, was placed on the DL with a back issue. Danys Baez was taken off the DL to fill that spot. Baez has not had a very good year so putting him back in the bullpen sort of feels like a non-event. Oh well…
Jimmy Rollins is out, probably for the weekend, with a tight hamstring. The injury does not appear to be serious, but after two stints on the DL with a calf injury, the Phils are going to be extra careful with him.
And as for Placido Polanco, he does NOT have a broken elbow, contrary to several reports yesterday. Polanco advised Comcast Sportsnet that he told a reporter from the Dominican Republic about the bone spur in his elbow, which will be operated on after the season ends. Somehow, this reporter translated that into a broken bone. Polly is from the Dominican Republic, so how this miscommunication occurred between two men speaking the same language is strange. But the good news is, no broken bones :O)
That about covers the news from the Thursday off-day; now on to tonight’s game…
What began as a pitcher’s duel on the mound between Roy Halladay and Mets rookie Jenrry Mejia, turned into a duel of the pitcher’s bats in the 3rd and 4th innings. Halladay was cruising until he gave up a single to pitcher Mejia in the 3rd. A double scored Mejia and later, a 2-run homer added to the damage.
Down 3-2 going into the 4th, Halladay returned the favor. With the bases loaded and 2 outs, Halladay smacked a bouncing single up the middle for a hit; two runs scored and Mejia looked stunned. Ryan Howard had homered before that and later, a Shane Victorino single scored the 4th run of the inning.
The Phillies had a big 7th inning as well. Chase Utley started the fun with a solo homer and Howard doubled behind him. With two outs, Raul Ibanez was walked intentionally by pitcher Sean Green. Carlos Ruiz then drew an unintentional walk and Green followed that up by plunking Wilson Valdez with the bases loaded, walking in a run.
Things got a little scary with Halladay at the plate next; after a 1-0 count, Green uncorked another wild one and almost hit Halladay. Mets manager Jerry Manuel immediately took Green out, mid-batter. Manuel gets a tip of the cap for that move which may have saved Halladay from a possible injury. Green was out of control and since the Mets were down 8-3, there was no point in risking an embarrassing mistake like hitting an opposing pitcher.
The Phillies went on to win the game 8-4 and Halladay collected his 18th win of the year. He also reached 200 strikeouts on the season for the second year in a row. Although Halladay allowed 4 runs tonight, he still went 7 2/3 and the offense helped him out.
Tomorrow, Kyle Kendrick will be given yet one more chance to prove himself, although many feel he does not deserve another shot after 4 straight bad games. Rookie Vance Worley was the other option, but since Kendrick did well against the Mets last month, they decided to give him the start. Game time is 4:10pm; this should be an interesting one.
By the way, feel free to check out my new Facebook community page, “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney.” And when you are done there, hop over to the Phillies #1 fan contest and VOTE for me! You can vote up to 25 times a day :O) Thank you for the support!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Win some, lose some…the Phillies could not have done so today in a more upside down fashion. Two games; two very different results:
Vance Worley made his first start in the majors today against the Marlins and did a pretty good job. Certainly it was good enough to de-throne Kyle Kendrick from the 5th starters spot. Kendrick has been awful and the Phillies pitching coach, Rich Dubee, was really upset about his performance yesterday. Worley went 5 innings and allowed 2 runs; he was only pulled after 5 because the offense was sleeping and Charlie Manuel put in a pinch hitter. Worley did his job; the offense did not.
The Phils offense had just 1 hit through 8 innings and that was a Brian Schneider single in the 2nd. They were facing another pitcher making his starting debut, Adalberto Mendez. Rather than beat up on the rookie, the Phillies swung at junk and popped up balls that were right down the middle. They made a first-timer look like a Cy Young winner.
Just as disgusting as the offense was sloppy play in the field. Raul Ibanez made two very bad throws in the 1st inning. Later in the game, Placido Polanco watched a Dan Uggla double sail past him down the 3rd base line. That was just a good hit. But later, with Uggla at the plate again, Polanco was playing off the line…again. Result? Same thing; a double down the line. Why was Polanco playing off the line when he had just gotten burned there in Uggla’s last at bat? Ugh.
A lot about this game was inexplicable, much like the Phillies magical vanishing offense all year long. When you see this team play like this, it makes you wonder how they have stayed in the NL East race all year.
There were some other revelations in the last few days as well. Clearly, Mike Zagurski is not going to make it in the Bigs. This kid has been up, down, multiple injuries, up and down again and today, with yet another chance to show what he has, he failed miserably. 3 runs allowed on 2 hits and a walk…it was bad. Scott Mathieson did the same thing yesterday when he walked 2 batters and showed a serious lack of control. I feel for these guys, but maybe the Phillies need to move on?
Ok, so let’s see if they are still asleep for game two…
Oh, here are the bats! Game 2 was the polar opposite of Game 1. Much like a mental patient suffering from multiple personality disorder, the Phillies played two totally different games today. The Game 2 persona is certainly the one Phillies fans would like to see more of.
A five run 2nd inning got this game off to a good start. Jimmy Rollins, batting from the 5-hole, led off the inning with a single. Raul Ibanez followed his lead and then Domonic Brown walked. With the bases loaded, Carlos Ruiz worked out a walk for an easy RBI. Later that same inning with 2 outs, Placido Polanco hit a 2-run double and then Chase Utley singled to score Polanco.
It was a very upside down kind of day for Utley. He did not have a hit in the first game, but for Game 2, Utley racked up 2 hits, 2 RBI and he was also hit by a pitch. Brown got a rare start as Jayson Werth was rested and he managed to work out 2 walks. But having sat on the bench for a while, Brown looks rusty. Hopefully, this start will get him back into the “swing” of things.
Starting the game was pitcher Roy Oswalt who had some issues with the long ball. He allowed 3 homers for 4 runs in the first 5 innings. This seems to be a “Roy” issue this week; Roy Halladay gave up 4 runs on 4 homers on Saturday against the Brewers. Luckily, the Phillies bats were heating up tonight to bail Oswalt out of trouble, as they also did on Saturday for Halladay.
With a 7-4 lead, Ryan Madson took care of the 8th inning after JC Romero walked the first batter. Brad Lidge pitched the 9th and recorded the save! Lidge has been super lately…keep it up, Brad!
Tomorrow night at 7:05pm, Joe Blanton will pitch in game 3 of this series with the Fish. The Braves lost today so with one win and one loss today, the Phillies are 1/2 game behind them in the NL East.
And a few reminders: Do not forget to check out my new Facebook community page, “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney.” And when you are done there, hop over to the Phillies #1 fan contest and VOTE for me! You can vote up to 25 times a day :O) Thank you to all for your support!
Worley photo by CBSsports.com; Utley photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies had a single make-up game against the Rockies today in Colorado before heading home. The first 6 innings of the game were a disaster with careless plays and missed scoring opportunities. Until the 7th inning, you had to think there was no way the Phils were going to win this game. But this is baseball…never say never.
Here is a quick recap of the sloppy seconds that dominated the game through 6 innings:
– The 2nd place Phillies made their 2nd trip this year to Colorado today.
– The 2nd run of the game for the Phillies was scored on a sloppy slide from pitcher Joe Blanton.
– After 1 run scored in the 5th inning, Jimmy Rollins had the bases loaded with 1 out. He grounded into a sloppy and hugely disappointing double play to end the inning without scoring a 2nd run.
– Catcher Brian Schneider had a runner easily picked off at 2nd base in the 6th inning but Rollins dropped the ball.
The 6th inning got worse as the first base umpire called a runner safe that was out. Then a ball hit up the middle for what should have been an easy double play was deflected off the glove of pitcher Antonio Bastardo. Instead of getting out of the inning, another run scored.
Earlier in the 6th, Mike Sweeney was hit in the hand while checking his swing and let out a painful scream. The bases were loaded so a run scored, but Sweeney looked hurt. Everyone is hoping he will be alright. Feel free to join my Facebook group, I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney, and show your support :O)
But down 7-3 going into the 7th, someone flipped a light switch on. The Phillies managed to climb back into the game with a double by Placido Polanco, an Utley single and a 2-run homer from Ryan Howard. Not to be outdone, Jayson Werth followed with a solo homer to tie the game at 7-7. A single by Ben Francisco then gave the Phillies the 8-7 lead.
But the Phillies were not done yet in the 7th. With 2 outs and the bases loaded, Utley made up for his 2nd inning error with a GRAND SLAM! Wow. Phillies led at that point, 12-7 after scoring 9 runs in the 7th.
While a 5-run lead is nice, the Rockies were not done yet either…they scored 3 runs off Chad Durbin in the bottom of the 7th. So entering the 9th with a score of 12-10, Brad Lidge came in for the save attempt. And here comes the “sloppy” again…the first batter hit an easy ground ball to first but Howard dropped it! That dropped ball turned into an unearned run, cutting the lead to one run.
Lidge gave up a single next and one out later, walked Todd Helton. Phillies fans started getting nauseous. But Lidge worked out of the mess; he struck out Clint Barmes and the next batter hit a ball to Polanco at third. Polly made a tough play and stepped on third for the force out to end the game. And……exhale…..whew! This was a huge win for the Phils!
Since the bullpen was pretty much used up tonight, I hope the Phillies are prepared to bring up a few pitchers from the minors before tomorrow’s game against the Brewers. The only September call-up so far has been catcher Paul Hoover. Game time tomorrow is 7:05pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.
#1 Phillies Fan
Autotrader.com is running a contest to find the #1 Phillies Fan. I am constantly teased about being an obsessive Phillies fan and all my friends complain they never see me during baseball season. So, I decided to enter the contest. If you agree that I am a huge Phan, please feel free to VOTE for me :O) Your support is appreciated!
Nyjer Morgan: Poster Child For Anger Management
Nyjer Morgan of the Washington Nationals has issues. On August 21st, Morgan was accused of purposely throwing a ball at a fan in Philadelphia after being heckled. The fan was hit in the head and did not see the throw coming. MLB suspended Morgan for 7 games, which he is currently appealing.
As if that were not bad enough, on Wednesday night, Morgan charged the mound with his fist in the air after a pitch from the Marlins Chris Volstad sailed behind him. Morgan swung and the benches cleared. Worse than that, Morgan showboated after the brawl ended as he walked off the field, proud of his bad behavior. Check out the video:
Morgan’s behavior this year has been reprehensible. Even his own manager has benched him for prior bad behavior. He does not deserve to wear a major league uniform; here’s hoping MLB takes appropriate action.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Yes, the Phillies bats are off somewhere on vacation…still. Perhaps they have landed on some tropical island in a remote area of the Pacific? I suppose I can understand why they do not want to return home, but have they not been gone long enough? Well bats, have a drink for me, preferable something with a paper umbrella and fruit slices…I need one.
The Phillies remained hitless against Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda until part way into the 7th inning when Shane Victorino got the first, and only, Phillies hit of the night. And while Kuroda did a fine job, the Phillies should have been able to get at him…at least a little bit. But as has been the case all year, the Phillies have not been hitting good pitching when they should be.
Amidst the vacationing bats, Roy Halladay had another solid outing wasted. He went 7 innings and allowed 3 runs. The 2 runs he allowed in the first inning were off some very odd bloop hits and a few defensive misses.
Of course, then Rod Barajas nailed Halladay for a homer in the 5th. Barajas has been a Phillie killer since leaving the team after the 2007 season where he did basically nothing for the Phils. He batted .230 with 4 homers. He has 45 homers since 2008 and 9 of those (20%) have been against the Phils. I’ll bet the Dodgers took a look at those stats and quickly sent word that they needed Barajas for this series. Because yesterday was his first game in a Dodgers uniform. Nicely done, Dodgers.
So the Phillies lost Game 1 of the series 3-0 and will send Kyle Kendrick to the mound tonight at 10:10pm. With any luck, the bats will be back soon…
And in case you missed it yesterday, I have created a Facebook page in Mike Sweeney’s honor. Join “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney” by clicking on the “LIKE” button on the page. The page is dedicated to his awe-inspiring man-hugs. Yes, real men hug. You go, Sweeney!
Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography