Who doesn’t want a hug from Mike Sweeney? The man is a giant teddy bear. Well, whether you wanted one or not, if you are within arms reach of Sweeney, odds are that you are getting a hug.
In honor of Sweeney’s man-hugginess, I have created a Facebook page in his honor. Join “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney” by clicking on the “LIKE” button on the page.
Feel free to share your own Sweeney photos and/or thoughts there. It is a community page open to all Facebook members. There were several pages made in dedication to Jayson Werth’s Beard earlier in the year so I felt it was only fair to honor the super sweet Sweeney and his raw, positive emotions. I will be including photos, quotations, video and anything else I can dream up on the page.
Sweeney is one of a kind; Phillies fans are overjoyed to see a player with such a great attitude and enormous enthusiasm for this team, his teammates and the city of Philadelphia. We love all our players, of course, but this guy is unique and brings a special spark to the clubhouse. Check out the post-game interview after last night’s win:
And here is the radio interview as well:
All about the positive energy, Sweeney is not afraid to share the love. Cheers to Mr. Sweeney for inspiring us all and for letting us know that real men hug. :O)
The San Diego Padres came into today’s game against the Phillies tied with the Reds for the best fielding percentage in the National League. They also lead the league in defensive efficiency ratio, which is basically how many times they turn a batted ball into an out. But facing the Phils and trying to defend against a 3-game sweep, the Padres committed 4 errors today.
While the errors helped, as 2 of the Phillies 5 runs were unearned, the bigger factor in the game was the Phillies pitching. Cole Hamels was outstanding on the mound; he did not allow a run through 8 innings and struck out 6 batters. It looked like he was slinging gas-powered rockets up there. In the entire 3-game series, Phillies starting pitching allowed just 2 runs.
Hamels was in such a groove today, he did not want to come out of the game after the 8th inning. In the dugout, he even refused to shake his pitching coaches’ hand for a few seconds, hoping that Rich Dubee would change his mind and let him pitch the 9th. But with a 4-0 lead at the time and Hamels having thrown 115 pitches, there was no need to take a chance that Hamels might get hurt.
The defense was sharp behind Hamels as well. Placido Polanco made several tough plays at third base. Mike Sweeney, giving Ryan Howard the day off, made a great running catch on a pop-up and handled many difficult throws at first base.
Sweeney contributed on offense as well; he smacked his first home run as a Phillie in the 7th inning; it was a 2-run shot. Sweeney ran around the dugout afterwards hugging everyone he could get his hands on. This guy is pure positive energy…you have to love that.
Later in the 8th, Jayson Werth hit a solo homer, which had to feel good. It was just his 3rd homer in August, which has been a month full of ups and downs for Werth. Jimmy Rollins also had an RBI in the game and Carlos Ruiz was the only Phillie with multiple hits.
Ryan Madson pitched the 9th inning and slammed the door for the Phillies 16th shut-out of the year. The 5-0 win went to Hamels who finally got some run support from his teammates. The Padres, for the first time all year, have now lost 4 games in a row.
The Phillies will take a short ride from San Diego over to Los Angeles tonight and start a 3-game series with the Dodgers tomorrow night. Roy Halladay will pitch and game time is 10:10pm. Break out the No-doze, East Coast fans.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Very little happened in today’s Phillies – Padres match-up until the 5th inning. Both pitchers were dealing and hits were few and far between. Then Padres starter Jon Garland started the 5th off by hitting Jayson Werth with a pitch. Raul Ibanez moved him over with a grounder and a single from Shane Victorino allowed Werth to score.
With a run finally on the board, Phillies starter Joe Blanton got into trouble later that same inning. A walk and a couple of singles allowed tied the game. But Victorino showed his defensive skills, throwing Nick Hundley out at the plate trying to score.
The Flyin’ Hawaiian was all over this game; Victorino smacked a triple in the 7th to score Werth again, who had walked earlier. Then after an intentional walk to Carlos Ruiz, Mike Sweeney was put in to pinch hit for Blanton. Sweeney hit a ground ball that was almost a double play. Instead, he legged it out and Ruiz barreled into 2nd with a take-out slide; Sweeney was safe and Victorino scored.
The Padres paid little attention to Sweeney on first as he is not known for speed. As a result, with a little prodding from first base coach Davey Lopes, Sweeney swiped his first bag in 4 years. Sweeney’s enthusiasm and hustle are just what this team needs. He fits in very well with the Phillies club.
Blanton ended his outing with just one run allowed in 6 innings; it was a great effort from Blanton. After Blanton was pulled in the 7th, the 3-1 game was turned over to the Phillies bullpen. Jose Contreras pitched a perfect 7th and Ryan Madson followed suit in the 8th. You know what that means, right? You guessed it….Brad Lidge time. (Gulp!)
After a horrible outing yesterday where Lidge balked in the tying run with 2 outs in the 9th, tonight was a different story. With a strike-out, a pop-up and a fly ball, Lidge closed the game successfully, handing the Phillies a 3-1 win.
Game 3 with the Padres begins at 4:05pm tomorrow afternoon. Cole Hamels will pitch and hopefully, put a 3-game sweep of the Padres in the bag.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Well, it was nice thought, but ultimately, the Phillies could not sweep the Giants tonight. When the game started off with Cole Hamels giving up 3 runs in the first inning, some thought that maybe this was just the starting pitchers new style. Both pitchers in the first two games of the series gave up first inning runs too, but the Phillies came back to win those games. Not tonight…
Hamels looked about as bad as we have seen him. He lasted only 5 innings, allowed 5 runs and looked like his pitch control was on vacation for the day. Knowing that he has gotten little to no run support this year, giving up 3 runs in the first must have seemed like an insurmountable hole from which Hamels could not climb out.
On the other side, Giants pitcher Jonathan Sanchez wiped the infield dirt with Phillies batters. He allowed only 2 hit in 8 innings of work and both hits came off the bat of Shane Victorino, who also played well on defense.
No one else could touch him. Knowing that Sanchez leads the leagues in walks issued, one might think the Phillies batters would have been patient at the plate. But many players swung early and swung often…at bad pitches. Thus, 2 hits in 8 innings.
The offense did attempt a 9th inning rally, something that has been common with the Phillies lately. But although Mike Sweeney knocked in 2 runs to avoid the shut-out, the rally ended there and the Phils took the 5-2 loss. Here are a few more shots from the game:
The Braves lost today as well so the Phillies still sit 2.5 games back in the NL East and lead the Wild Card race over the Giants by 1 game. A 3-game series with the Nationals starts tomorrow at 7:05pm.
And as a side note, today’s game marked the 100th consecutive sell-out at Citizens Bank Park. Manager Charlie Manuel came out before the game to speak to the crowd and thank the fans for their support. After that, the players waved and tipped their caps to the crowd. The 45,449 people in attendance also marked the largest crowd of the 2010 season so far.
Phillies, you are welcome :O)
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
There were many reunions tonight at the Phillies-Giants game. Pat Burrell and Aaron Rowand came back to Philly again in Giants uniforms. And Chase Utley returned to the Phillies line-up, making a super-speedy recovery from thumb surgery. You could feel the love:
And more importantly for the ladies, it was a visual treat. Pat the Bat and other legendary backsides were welcomed with open arms:
Oh, you were expecting a game recap, right? Sorry…got sidetracked. So the game was very nice as well. Roy Oswalt got off to a rocky start, allowing 2 runs in the first inning.
One of those runs was Burrell’s first at-bat; clearly, he is right at home in Philly. The standing ovation he received while stepping to the plate died down quickly once that ball left the yard.
But Oswalt rebounded and allowed only 1 more run, another solo shot, through 7 total innings pitched. He finally got some offensive support as well.
Placido Polanco had a 4-hit night; Jimmy Rollins collected 3 RBI; Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz had 2 RBI each. By the way, Victorino’s wife Melissa is pregnant! Check out the baby bump. Congrats to them both!
With a 4-3 lead going into the 8th, the offense exploded in a very odd inning. With the bases loaded and no outs for Ruiz, he nailed a 2-run double. Later, the Giants pitcher balked to send another run home and send manager Bruce Bochy to the showers early as he was tossed for arguing the call. A wild pitch followed by a fielding error scored Rollins and the Utley was picked off going to third to end the inning. 5 more runs scored that inning and the Phils won by a score of 9-3.
By the way, Mike Sweeney has not exactly been lighting up the ballpark at the plate, but this guy shows some serious hustle out there.
At one point, he went into the crowd trying to catch a foul ball. I got this shot of it, not too in focus, but take a look at his glove and the ball next to it, surrounded by fans. That is a brave man.
So the rest of the photos will be up later. I have to get some sleep, prep for tomorrow’s game and do it all over again! Check back for more later.
UPDATE: Here is the full Photo Album from the game!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Before today’s game against the Dodgers, Shane Victorino was activated off the DL and lefty Antonio Bastardo was sent to AAA to make room. Victorino did not start the game as Charlie Manuel had already told Ben Francisco he would start tonight. Victorino did pinch hit in the 8th and drew a walk. Francisco had a much more interesting game…more on that shortly.
Pitcher Joe Blanton started the game and sadly, had another Blah-anton-type outing. He allowed 3 runs right off the bat in the first inning. After 5 2/3 innings, Blanton had walked 4 batters, allowed 8 hits and 4 runs total. The hole was dug deeper by relief pitcher Chad Durbin who did not provide any relief. Durbin allowed a 2-run homer in the 7th to put the Phillies down 6-2.
But the damage did not end there. JC Romero pitched the 8th inning and while Romero has had trouble of late, this time it was the defense that let him down. Mike Sweeney missed a ground ball at first to start the inning. Carlos Ruiz had an error as well and two unearned runs scored. Jose Contreras came in to relieve Romero and gave up another run.
Down 9-2 going into the bottom of the 8th, it looked like this game was over. Then suddenly, the hits started coming. It began with 4 straight hits: singles from Placido Polanco, Sweeney, Jayson Werth and a double from Francisco. Wilson Valdez got another hit for the 4th run of the inning. The 9-6 score seemed a tad more manageable.
The Dodgers sent their closer in for the 9th, Jonathan Broxton. The same 4 players that ignited the 8th inning rally started another one in the 9th. Polanco was hit by a pitch; Sweeney and Werth both walked. Francisco got on base after an error and 2 runs scored. Just like that, the bases were loaded with no outs for Carlos Ruiz with a 9-8 score. Ruiz smashed a walk-off double to win the game!
The Phillies came back from a 7 run deficit to win the game and take 2 of 3 games in the series. When asked how he felt after the game, Ruiz told Gary Matthews, “I’m happy, I’m so happy.” Well Chooch, we are SO happy too! Werth then ran up behind him and dumped a bucket of Gatorade over Ruiz’s head. I supposed shaving cream pies are out of fashion now.
Next up: the Mets in New York for the weekend. Game time tomorrow is 7:10pm.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Roy Oswalt’s first home start in Philly went very, very well against the Dodgers tonight. He did not surrender a run while allowing 5 hits and 2 walks. Oswalt was finished after 7 innings with a really good strike-ball ratio of 73-36. It looked so easy, one may have thought that Oswalt could have pitched this game in his sleep. Yawn!
But as has been the case for Oswalt this year with both the Astros and the Phillies, he got very little run support. Domonic Brown collected the first run of the game in the 4th inning with a bases-loaded RBI ground-out. Raul Ibanez extended his hit streak to 18 games with an RBI-double in the 6th. However, in that same inning, the Phillies lost Ross Gload. He hit a double down the right field line and came up limping halfway to second base. Gload has been diagnosed with a groin strain.
If Gload goes on the DL, he will be the 16th Phillies player this year to land there. And he would be the 5th player on the DL right now, along with Ryan Howard, whom Gload was replacing at first base. Mike Sweeney took over for Gload tonight and may wind up playing a lot more than anyone expected.
With a 2-0 lead, the Phillies would now have to lean on their 8-9 combination of Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge. Getting a few extra runs would have been nice too, but that did not happen. In fact, the Phillies wasted a Wilson Valdez lead-off triple at one point and left runners on third base with less than 2 outs twice. It began to look more and more like this game would come down to the Phils bullpen.
And it did come down to the pen. Madson pitched a scoreless 8th and looked pretty solid. Lidge came in for the 9th with the same 2-0 lead and quickly got three outs for the save. Oswalt got his first win as a Phillie behind Lidge’s save, just as they both used to do for the Astros. Teammates once again, Lidge had to be thrilled to help out his friend.
The final game with the Dodgers will be at 7:05pm tomorrow night. The pitching match-up should be Joe Blanton vs. Clayton Kershaw. Blanton did well in his last outing; a solid follow-up performance would be nice.
In other news today, Chase Utley has been approved by his doctor to start swinging a bat again since the surgery on his thumb. Utley has been running drills and fielding balls so this is one more step towards getting him ready to play again. Utley expects to be back in the line-up either at the end of August or early September.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography