The Houston Astros, otherwise known as the Phillies-B team, are in town. The former Phils include Brett Myers, JA Happ, Michael Bourn, Nelson Figueroa, Jason Michael, Ed Wade (former GM) and Brad Mills (former Bench Coach, now Astros manager).
Myers started the game for the Astros with a huge chip on his shoulder since the Phillies dismissed him after last season. Not resigning Myers turned out to be a mistake as he has found his groove and is pitching very well for the Astros. Myers had an 8-7 record with a 3.11 ERA coming into tonight’s game.
The Phillies tried to chip away at Myers who, in the 2nd, struck out Ryan Howard, Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez all in a row. Plowing through the meat of the line-up, he finally allowed a solo homer to Carlos Ruiz in the 3rd and another run on a Chase Utley single.
On the other side, Joe Blanton was having a good game as well. Although Blanton is still having issues getting through the 1st inning of nearly every ballgame he pitches in. Tonight, he escaped with only 1 run allowed in the 1st thanks to some timely defense which bailed him out of big trouble. Utley threw a runner out at home and Werth caught a tough fly ball that was sailing away from him.
But after the rocky 1st, Blanton was solid. He ended up going 7 innings, another rarity for his this year. In 21 games this year, Blanton has gone 7 innings or more only 8 times, including tonight. 6 hits, 1 run and 9 strike-outs later, Blanton left with a 2-1 lead.
But that lead was put in jeopardy when Ryan Madson came in for the 8th and drama ensued. Michaels singled and then Bourn bunted for what looked like an out. Howard tagged him and Bourn seemed to have run out of the baseline but the umpire ruled that Howard missed the tag and Bourn did not go out of the base line until after the tag attempt. Both Utley and manager Charlie Manuel argued the call heatedly, but to no avail. Manuel was tossed from the game.
And that play did wind up costing the Phillies the lead. Madson struck out Hunter Pence but then allowed a 2-run single to Carlos Lee to give the Astros a 3-2 lead. The Phillies then had to play from behind going into the bottom of the 8th.
With the lead gone, Werth was probably having very bad flashbacks to the 6th inning when he fell asleep at 2nd base. Myers was intentionally walking Ruiz to get to Wilson Valdez, who had a huge hit the last time a pitcher did that. But Valdez did not get a shot as Werth hung his head and was quickly thrown out wandering like a zombie off 2nd base. It was a huge opportunity lost.
Fast forward to the 9th and Brad Lidge kept the score steady; the Phils had one last chance to make something happen. Well, nothing happened, except the Phillies lost the game. No scoring in the 9th and the 3-2 score held up.
I will be going to Game 2 of this series tomorrow night to collect the Carlos Ruiz bobblehead doll which will be given away. My seat location sucks, but I hope to get a few photos to post on Wednesday. Game time is 7:05pm and Cole Hamels will pitch for the Phillies.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Before the final game of the Nationals series today, umpire and Philly native Jerry Crawford was honored for his 33 years of MLB service. Today was to be his last Phillies game as he will retire at the end of the year. Crawford was given a standing ovation and a present from the Phanatic; a baby Phanatic doll:
Once the game began, Roy Oswalt was in control. Though he had a rather high pitch count and led off several innings with runners, Oswalt got the job done when he needed to. He was also very effective at the plate with two hits and in his third at-bat, almost hit a home run. The ball went all the way to the warning track in deep center before a Nat tracked it down. A little bit to the left and it would have gone out.
Oswalt gave up 5 hits and a walk in 7 innings without allowing a run. His day was cut short when the skies opened up and dumped buckets of rain onto the field. The 1 hour, 44 minute delay sent many fans home early.
But to that point, the Phillies offense started to hit again. Jimmy Rollins double to lead off the game and a sac fly from Placido Polanco scored him. Later in the 3rd, Oswalt scored after one of his hits and a Polanco single. The 6th inning was interesting as well. With 2 men on and 2 outs, the Nats decided to intentionally walk Carlos Ruiz to get to Wilson Valdez. With the bases then loaded, Valdez made them pay with a 2-run single.
There were a lot of good play both on offense and defense:
And then there were some not so great plays, like a Ruiz throwing error to second. And some weird plays too; if you look at the top row of photos below, you will see Ryan Zimmerman checking out Valdez’s leg; Nats shortstop Ian Desmond, who caught a ground ball which got stuck in the netting of his glove, allowing another hit from Oswalt; and finally, Adam Kennedy puts his hand in a place that Rollins probably did not appreciate:
With a 4-0 lead coming out of the rain delay, Rollins got another hit and Raul Ibanez cranked a 2-run homer to give the Phils a 6-0 win and a 2 game to 1 win in the series. Ibanez, Polanco and Valdez each had 2-RBI on the day. Valdez played in place of Chase Utley who was given a day off to rest.
And now the real fun begins; the Astros are coming to town for a 4-games series. It will be like the Phillies vs. all the guys the Phillies no longer wanted. Both Brett Myers and JA Happ will pitch in the series, plus we will see more old teammates like Michael Bourn, Nelson Figueroa and Jason Michaels. Myers will pitch tomorrow against Joe Blanton at 7:05pm.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game. If it is not working, try again later. TypePad is having issues with photo albums right now.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Before today’s game against the Cardinals, the Phillies announced that Jamie Moyer would be placed on the DL after injuring his elbow yesterday. Vance Worley, 22, was called up from AA Reading to take his roster spot. Nelson Figueroa was claimed off waivers from the Astros, which is not great news. But that was the chance the Phils took when they designated Figueroa for assignment. Andrew Carpenter, who pitched 3 innings last night, was sent back to AAA.
We may see a lot of odd moves this week as the Phillies are trying to make a trade, probably for a pitcher. Rumors have Roy Oswalt in the works, but it appears he want guaranteed money through 2012, which the Phillies probably cannot afford. Ruben Amaro Jr. is probably regretting kicking Brett Myers to the curb right about now, among other things.
The Phillies have not been playing well; perhaps this is an understatement. But what makes it even harder to swallow are things like this: With 2 outs and the bases loaded in the 7th inning, the Phillies do NOT pinch hit for the pitcher, Joe Blanton. With a 1-1 tie, knowing that Blanton has not gone past 6 innings all year without running into trouble, how do you not pinch hit for him here?
So the Phillies do not score as Blanton strikes out. Then in the bottom of the 7th, Blanton threw ONE pitch and it went straight out of the ballpark. Am I really the only one who saw this coming? Really? This is just one more piece of evidence to indicate that manager Charlie Manuel has NO confidence in the bullpen.
I do not know conclusively what Blanton’s issue has been this year and I do not really care at this point. Because what I do know, with overwhelming evidence, is that he cannot be counted on past 6 innings, especially in a tight game like this one. He did not enter today’s game with a 6.21 ERA for no reason. The Phillies have to know this as well, unless they are just closing their eyes and praying instead of watching the game.
Yes, the Phillies faced a very good pitcher today. So, knowing runs would be tough to come by, the Phillies should have been ready to use the bullpen. Blanton did get out of the 7th with just the one run, but he gave up the lead and then they sent him out again for the 8th.
And without recording an out, he gave up 2 runs to cushion the lead for the Cards, 4-1. Shocked? I was not. If Manuel keeps turning a blind eye in these situations, this team may not recover.
Fans are frustrated, and with good reason. Philly fans are passionate and understand the game. So it is easy to see how bad moves like we saw tonight infuriate people. We want to see our team win and these mistakes make it seem impossible. How many times do you have to bang your head against a brick wall before you realize it hurts? Not pinch hitting for the pitcher in the 7th inning with the bases loaded is equivalent to the brick wall-head scenario. Of course, that is just one gals humble opinion ;o)
So the Phillies went on to lose by a score of 5-1. The only run for the Phillies was a solo homer from Ryan Howard. Tomorrow afternoon, Cole Hamels will pitch and everyone is praying he can help this team avoid a demoralizing 4-game sweep. Game time is 2:15pm; tune in if you can stomach it. Just load up on Tums first.
Cartoon by http://carablake.wordpress.com/
Catcher Brian Schneider grew up a Phillies fan. He realized his dream of playing for his home town team this year and today, he became the savior of his team in a tough, extra innings game. More on that in a minute…
Before tonight’s game against the Reds, the big news revolved around Shane Victorino. Apparently, he had a few strong words for the fans of Philadelphia. He said, “I’m hearing fans yelling, ‘Victorino, you’re horrible; you stink,'” during last night’s loss to the Braves. Victorino went on to say, among other things, “It’s frustrating when you hear those things from your own fans.”
A few things to note here: the games are still selling out. And for the small 4 or 5% of fans that are yelling insults, the rest are still cheering the team on. Victorino is right to be frustrated, but that should be directed at the way the team has been playing, not at the fans. But don’t worry Shane; we are still behind you.
Victorino took his frustrations out on the ball in the 1st inning when he hit a home run to silence the doubters. He also hit an RBI-single in the 3rd inning which turned out to be a very strange play. Victorino collided with Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto at first and his glove flew off; Cueto dropped the ball, which rolled to Joey Votto who tossed it back to the bare-handed Cueto. He dropped the ball again and Jimmy Rollins scored. The game was then delayed as Cueto appeared to have the wind knocked out of him. He was fine though and the game went on.
For the Phillies, Kyle Kendrick pitched very well, allowing only 1 run on 3 hits in 6 2/3 innings. Having left Jamie Moyer in too long last night, manager Charlie Manuel was not going to make the same mistake again. He pulled Kendrick and had JC Romero get the final out of the 7th inning.
But more drama was yet to come. Fresh off the disabled list, Ryan Madson saw his first game action since April in the 8th inning. He allowed two singles and then with two outs in the inning, he surrendered the one run lead on another very odd play. Brandon Phillips struck out on a wild pitch which sailed past catcher Brian Schneider. Phillips ran to first as both Schneider and Madson went after the ball, not realizing until it was too late that Drew Stubbs was running home and no one was covering. Stubbs scored and tied the game 2-2.
In the bottom half of the inning, Wilson Valdez led off with a triple. Rollins hit a sac fly to score him and give the Phils a 3-2 lead going into the 9th inning. But that meant that it was Brad Lidge time.
A one run lead and Lidge in the 9th has not been a sure thing for a very long time. And right away, Lidge gave up a hit and a walk. It looked like he may get out of it when the next batter hit into a double play. But Miguel Cairo, who was with the Phils last year, hit an RBI-double on the 2nd pitch he saw to tie the game again. And just like that, Lidge earned yet another blown save.
The Phillies could not score in the 9th so off to extra innings they went. In the 12 inning, the drama continued as Jayson Werth had a small confrontation with a very dumb fan. With two outs, a foul ball went just above the wall in right field and Werth was right there to catch it. Unfortunately, the dumb fan snagged the ball right before it went into Werth’s glove. Werth had a few choice words for the guy. But all was well as pitcher Nelson Figueroa got the batter to ground out.
Figueroa pitched two amazing innings and was on deck to bat and go for three when Brian Schneider finally ended the game. Schneider crushed a ball which sailed over the right field wall to give the Phillies a 12 inning, walk-off 4-3 win over the Reds. Way to go, Brian! You rock!
The Phillies family lost another beloved member today. Maje McDonnell, who would have been 90 years old later this month, passed away today. McDonnell spent his entire life with the Phillies. He grew up in Philly and served with the Phillies as a batting practice pitcher, coach, scout, instructor and a Veterans Stadium tour guide in his 57 years with the team. He had just retired last year.
McDonnell was also a war hero, having served in World War II, earning a combat badge, five battle stars and a Bronze Star. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Maje. He will be missed.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Early in the final game of the Phillies – Indians series today, things got very, very weird. And just when you thought it could get any stranger, a gigantic storm, which looked like a hurricane and tornado all in one, hit the stadium in the 8th inning.
But early in the 2nd inning, many already thought that this game was going to resemble an episode of The Twilight Zone. 3 straight singles loaded the bases and then Dane Sardinha hit a grounder to third base. The catcher missed the throw to home plate and 2 runs scored. Next, the Phillies pitcher, Joe Blanton, got hit with a pitch.
The oddities continued as Shane Victorino was called out for going out of the baseline on his way to first base. Charlie Manuel was so angry over the call, he got himself thrown out. Blanton was later allowed by the Indians centerfielder to tag up at third and score, even though Blanton did not move until he realized the fielder was paying him no mind. And the Indians left fielder was almost injured badly when he ran for a foul ball and smashed leg first into the wall. As he bounced around, his head hit the wall next and he then began wandering around the field like he did not know where he was.
So to recap the 2nd inning; 5 runs scored on 4 hits, an official error, a mental error and 2 sacrifices plus, the manager is ejected, the Phils pitcher is hit with a pitch and a freak injury. Could this game get any weirder…oh yes, it can…
The Phillies went on a hitting spree after that, scoring 7 more runs. Placido Polanco had 4 hits and 2 RBI; both Chase Utley and Jayson Werth had 3 hits each and Wilson Valdez had 2 hits. The only position player to go hitless was Ryan Howard, although he did collect an RBI. And Sardinha, in his first start as a Phillie, hit his first major league home run in the 6th inning.
In light of the recent offensive woes, the hitting spree was a nice surprise. But it was by far the biggest surprise of the day. With 2 outs in the 8th inning, Mother Nature paid an unpleasant visit to Citizens Bank Park. The rain poured down in buckets and the wind made things begin to swirl wildly in a circular motion, like a tornado. The tarp was half-way whipped up off the field, taking a field vehicle with it! The car was supposed to be holding the tarp down, but the winds were so strong it moved the car! Check out the video from CSN Philly. I have never seen anything like this…ever:
Here is another good one shot by a fan, which gives a really good view of the car being moved around:
So the rain delay lasted for an hour and 37 minutes with the Phillies in the lead by a score of 12-3. They came back and finished the game…nothing changed. The Phillies sweep the Tribe in 3 games. Blanton had a good game, going 7 2/3 before the storm hit and allowing just 3 runs on 6 hits. Nelson Figueroa was called up from AAA and pitched a scoreless 9th. Figueroa takes Chad Durbin’s place as he is now on the DL with a strained hamstring.
Starting tomorrow night, the relocated series with the Blue Jays will begin. It was supposed to be in Toronto, but had to be moved to Philly for security reasons related to the G20 Summit. So the Jays will be the home team in Philly for 3 games. Game time tomorrow is 7:05pm.
Vote up to 25 times per day, per email address.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Hey, remember that amazing perfect game pitched by Roy Halladay a few days ago? That was so awesome. It was the happiest Phillies day in all of 2010 so far; a historical, momentous occasion. Ah, memories…
With the way the Phillies have been playing lately, that perfect game now seems like it happened ages ago; a distant memory of a happier time. Aside from that one bright spot, the Phillies last 10 games have resembled a bad horror movie, including today’s 9-3 loss to the Braves.
The game got off to a very scary start when, with 1st & 3rd and only 1 out, Ryan Howard hit into an inning-ending double play. Then starting pitcher Joe Blanton gave up a 2-run homer to Chipper Jones in the bottom of the 1st. To make matters worse, manager Charlie Manuel decided to put Ross Gload in right field to give the struggling Jayson Werth a mental day off. Well, with 2 outs, Gload missed a routine fly ball, sending the runner to second instead of ending the inning. That runner scored and the Phillies fell into an 0-3 hole.
The next inning was just as frightening; with 2 men on base and 1 out, Wilson Valdez grounded into another double play to end another inning.
Manuel got ejected from the game in the 3rd inning following an indecisive call by the home plate umpire. Larry Vanover said Greg Dobbs was hit by a pitch and then changed his mind after the Braves argued the call. Nice job, ump. Just what we needed…
Manuel’s ejection did nothing to wake the zombified Phillies offense. Howard missed an easy ground ball in the bottom of the 3rd, allowing yet another unearned run to score. And the Phillies bats stayed silent until the 7th inning when 4 straight doubles scored 3 runs. What? 3 runs in one inning and all with 2 outs in the inning? Who are these Phillies and where did they hide the zombies?
Oh wait, the undead have returned…in the form of the Phillies bullpen. Given a little hope with those 3 runs and trailing by just 3-6, the Phillies bullpen put a stop to that. Antonio Bastardo got 1 out in the 7th and then allowed a single and a walk. Chad Durbin took over and with just one pitch, he gave up a 3-run homer. I guess Durbin was just trying to clean off the bases for a fresh start? Ugh.
Earlier today, Brad Lidge was activated off the DL…again. How long this will last, no one knows. He did pitch the 8th inning, as the Phillies tried to ease him back into his regular role. He pitched a clean inning and looked like he is feeling much better. We shall see…
With Lidge back, instead of optioning the young Bastardo to make room, the Phillies chose to designate Nelson Figueroa for assignment. Figueroa may not be back. He has to clear waivers first and then, if he is not picked up, he could either become a free agent or take an assignment to the minors.
So with this loss today, the Phillies are out of first place, ½ game behind the Braves. If they can wake up and get anything done in the next 2 games against the Braves, they could turn it around. The way this month has gone, I am sure everyone is happy to be done with May. Let us hope June is better.
Head shots by Jenn Zambri Photography except Werth: MLB.com
Joe Blanton made his season debut tonight after being on the DL through all of April. He had good command until part way through the 7th inning when it looked like he was getting tired. With 2 outs and 2 men on base, Blanton was pulled from the game and his otherwise good outing was spoiled as reliever Nelson Figueroa allowed both of those runs to score. Figueroa gave up 2 more runs of his own that same inning.
The Phillies offense had trouble against the Cardinal’s pitcher, Jaime Garcia. He pitched really well. The inconsistent strike zone did not help either. Home plate umpire, Andy Fletcher, made some very bad calls. The biggest of those was calling interference on Blanton in the 5th inning which cost the Phillies a run and ended the rally. Blanton ran to first after bunting and Fletcher decided he interfered with the catch at first base. The only problem is he did not interfere; he stayed in the baseline and went straight to the bag. Plus, the throw to first was off-line and the fielder had no chance to catch it anyway.
Raul Ibanez was out at third but Carlos Ruiz may have scored as the throw went wide so this imaginary interference called ended the inning and no run scored. Not only did they lose a possible run, but they lost the chance to keep scoring as the inning should have continued. Charlie Manuel was tossed from the game arguing the call.
Later in the game, Fletcher had words with Jayson Werth before his at-bat even started. I have no idea what Jayson said but Fletcher was clearly on the defensive, probably second guessing himself about the earlier call. And why was he calling the play at first anyway? Isn’t that the 1st base umpire’s job? At any rate, Werth answered Fletcher by whacking the first pitch he saw into the center field seats.
The controversy continued when Carlos Ruiz was called out on a strike that was actually a ball. Ruiz expressed his opinion and walked away. But instead of leaving it alone like a professional umpire should unless he is being cussed out, Fletcher followed Ruiz to continue the argument. We have seen this juvenile behavior from umpires more and more in the last several years. Remember the days when umps did not care what anyone thought and just called it as they saw it? Clearly, those days are gone.
I understand they have a job to do; so just do it then. Unless a player is being disrespectful or using foul language, why argue with them? They are entitled to their opinion. The umpire is supposed to rise above such things. Instead, it seems that many of them walk around with a chip on their shoulder just looking for someone to take their frustrations out on.
The Phillies did not lose the game because of the umpire, so that is not the point here. Figueroa pitched badly and the offense did not produce. But all the unnecessary drama is exactly that; unnecessary.
So the 3-6 loss is not the end of the world, but it is a bad start to a 4-game series with the Cards. Game 2 will start tomorrow night at 7:05pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography