Tagged: NL East

Pitching a Fit Over Phils Pitching

At the start of the season, everyone was worried about the Phillies offense being strong enough to carry a solid starting pitching staff to wins.  Now that the offense is slowly piecing runs together, the entire pitching staff has fallen apart.  Let us examine the grisly evidence:

Roy Halladay is on the DL.  Vance Worley is pitching will bone chips in his elbow.  Cliff Lee has no wins and is recently making a habit of blowing leads.  Cole Hamels has been hit or miss.  Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton keep see-sawing between okay and downright horrible.

As for the bullpen, 5 out of 7 pitchers have little big league experience.  4 of those are rookies in their first (3) year or second (1) year in the majors.  Chad Qualls, a veteran, has basically been a bust.  And their $50 million closer hardly ever pitches because the save situations are slim and they are afraid to use him in non-save situations.

Last night in a horrible 11-7 loss to the Twins, 3 of 4 bullpen guys who pitched combined to allow 5 runs.  Kendrick started the game allowing 6 runs in only 4 innings.  He was beyond awful.  Meanwhile, closer Jonathan Papelbon has not thrown a single pitch since 4 days and 3 games ago.

Making matters worse, Hunter Pence has officially lost his mind in right field.  He only has 3 official errors on the year, but if you add in the mental mistakes and plays that he clearly should have made despite not being an “official” error, he probably has at least 10 by now.

In fact, my favorite moment of last night’s game was a comment by announcer Tom McCarthy.  After Pence failed to field a routine hopper in the 5th inning, turning a single into a triple, McCarthy said, “I think it is safe to say he needs to stop doing that.”  He hit that nail on the head.

Right now, the Phillies are a very BAD team.  Now 9.5 games back of the Nationals in the NL East, they do not have time to wait for Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to return.  If they do not turn it around right now, this season is over.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Disaster Continues as Phillies Drop Series to the O’s

Losing their second straight game to the Orioles, the Phillies leave town today 8 games behind in the NL East and in last place.  But today’s loss was special.  It sucked more than most.

The Phillies had the bases loaded 3 times with Carlos Ruiz as the batter and scored only 1 run on a wild pitch.  When your best player cannot get a hit 3 consecutive times with the bases loaded, you know it is going to be a very bad day.

But worse than that, Cliff Lee still does not have a win, even after 10 starts.  Although today, it was actually his own doing.  Lee blew a 3 run lead by giving up a 3-run homer in the 4th inning.  As a result, Lee’s ERA finally floated above 3.00; he is currently at 3.18.

So not only did the offense and pitching suck, the defense was bad again too.  After 9 errors this season, including a big one today, Ty Wigginton should not be playing 3rd base…ever.  His huge error in the 10th cost the Phillies the game.

However, with Placido Polanco sidelined with a bad wrist, Wiggy keeps getting the nod. They could put Michael Martinez at 3rd, but then you are stuck with Mike Fontenot at 2nd and his defense has been worse than anyone expected.  We are talking little league level here…bad.

The pickings are slim and so therefore are the Phillies chances at recovering from this disaster.  It may be too early to give up just yet, but it is a tempting thought.  Why not bring up some more Triple-A guys and see who rises to the challenge?  I am sure Domonic Brown would agree.

Here is a small piece of good news:  Michael Schwimer found his groove in 3 innings of scoreless relief today.  Sorry though, that is all I have on the good news side.

Monday is an off-day as the battered Phils fly to Minnesota to take on the Twins for 3-games.  Oh wait, that might be good news…the Twins suck about as bad as the Phillies do.  See, it is the little things that make us happy.  Or, not…

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Injuries & Bad Offense Sinking the Phillies

A little help here, please?  Anybody?  It may still be early in the season, but the Phillies ship is sinking fast.  Is 15 games into the season a bit too early to begin yelling, “Mayday! “?  Maybe not…

With a 7-8 record, the Phillies are barely staying afloat in the NL East where they are tied for last place with the Marlins.  Last nights’ awful 5-1 loss to the Padres combined with star pitcher Cliff Lee being sent to the DL is making a lot of fans sea sick, and with good reason.

Lee’s injury occurred in the 10th inning of Wednesday’s game against the Giants where he apparently strained his left oblique.  The injury may have nothing to do with Lee going 10 innings, as he only threw 102 pitches.  However, had the Phillies offense given him any support at all, Lee probably would not have been on the mound for the 10th.

This Phillies offense seriously needs to batten down the hatches and figure out how to score or be sent to walk the plank.  Too many guy are simply not toeing the line.

There were only 3 hits in the game from the Phillies, and one of those came off the bat of pitcher Roy Halladay.  The only run scored came with 2 outs in the ninth on a Ty Wiggington double.  In the 4th inning, the Phillies had 2 men on and no one out.  But the extremely undisciplined hitting killed the rally; Hunter Pence struck out while swinging at pitches way out of the zone; Shane Victorino flied out and after Wiggington walked, Freddy Galvis flew out.

Halladay had walked three batters in a row for the first time ever, but he still battled back and gave up only 2 runs.  He made the adjustment.  The offense did not.  And so once again, the Phillies waste a strong pitching performance.  Here is a silly thought…Maybe Lee really did not hurt his oblique pitching on Wednesday; maybe the offense simply made him so nauseous that he threw-up one too many times after the game?  This entire pitching staff is probably feeling sea sick along with the rest of us.

So, what is the answer?  No one really knows, but I do wish everyone would stop whining about Ryan Howard and Chase Utley being out.  Because they are not the answer either.  When you have most of your lineup regularly swinging at bad pitches and watching good ones fly by, it makes no difference what Howard and Utley might do.

All I know for sure is that if this team does not figure it out soon, they are going to sink like the Titanic.

 

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Manuel Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

What Phillies Fans Can Be Thankful For: 2011 Edition

The annual tradition continues with my 2011 edition of things to be thankful for.  Put down the fork for a few seconds and enjoy:

What We Can All Be Thankful For:

Soccer fan– 5 straight NL East Titles :O)

– The Houston Astros: Because some team has to suck this badly.  Be glad it is not the Phillies.

– Soccer fans: Because they make baseball fans seem tame.

– Seeing Roy Halladay pitch. It never gets old.

– Text messaging: Because I did not feel like talking to you anyway ;o)

– Politicians: I can be 100% assured that my moral compass points in the right direction after watching these people.

175 ruiz– Panama: Because they produced Carlos Ruiz :O)

– Gravity

– Umpires: They make me feel really smart.

– Modern plumbing.  Belize is a nice place to visit, unless you need to use the bathroom. :O(

– Form fitting baseball pants

– Chocolate

– Friends, family and my fellow Phans!

– Everything in this video:

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography except soccer lady, http://www.chicagonow.com

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

Doc Helps Cure Phillies Losing Streak

After losing eight straight games since clinching the NL East, the Phillies sent Roy “Doc” Halladay to the mound today to operate on the Mets.  Thanks to six scoreless innings from Doc, the Phillies had a shot at a win.

But the ailing offense would also need to find a cure for their disease.  Manager Charlie Manuel decided to shuffle the line-up around to see if that band-aid might stick.  Chase Utley was moved to the 2-hole, Hunter Pence to the 3-hole and Shane Victorino 5th behind Ryan Howard.

Whether it was the new line-up or just the agony of losing 8 straight, something worked.  The Phillies came out swinging and scored 3 runs in the 1st inning, 2 of which came off a Pence homer.  By the end of 4 innings, the Phillies had piled on 9 runs.

Every starter in the line-up had at least one hit, including Halladay.  Carlos Ruiz was absolutely on fire going 4-4 with 2 RBI and a walk.  Pence made up for yesterday’s blunders by going just a double short of the cycle and driving in 3 runs.  Jimmy Rollins also collected 3 hits.

The only negatives in the game came out of the bullpen.  After claiming that lefty Antonio Bastardo had been tipping his pitches which was the cause of his recent struggles, Manuel put Bastardo into the 7th inning to test the theory.  News flash – Tipping his pitches was not the issues.

Bastardo struggled with control and missed his spots.  In just 1/3 of an inning, he gave up 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks.  It was not good.  As the only lefty in the bullpen, if Bastardo cannot find his control again, this will be a huge issues in the playoffs.

Vance Worley also ran into trouble in his return to the bullpen.  He closed out the 7th for Bastardo just fine, but the 8th was not as easy for him.  Worley gave up one run to bring the score to 9-4.

The win gives the Phillies 99 for the season with 3 games to go against the Braves.  Beating the Braves could still give them the franchise record in wins, but it may also be a catch-22.  If the Braves do not get the Wild Card, it will probably go to the Cardinals.  The Phillies may then wind up facing the Cards in the NLDS.  They won only 3 of 9 against the Cards in the regular season.

Game 1 against the Braves is Monday night at 7:05pm; Cliff Lee will pitch.

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Halladay head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Offense Still on Vacation

Going into tonight’s game, the Phillies have lost four straight games, including both games of a doubleheader against the Nationals on Tuesday.  With both the division and home field advantage wrapped up for the postseason, the bats have gone into hibernation.

During the offensive coma yesterday, both Carlos Ruiz and Hunter Pence came out hobbling.  Ruiz felt a “pop” in his ankle, but kept playing and Pence was limping after running to 1st in the 1st inning of the 1st game.  Another 1st, Pence finally missed an inning since coming to Philly when he was pulled from the game in the 6th.

Pence apparently has patellar tendinitis and will be rested for a few games to allow it to calm down.  Pence says he has had this knee issue for a long time and he will be fine.  While he is not happy about not playing, resting him before the playoffs is a no-brainer to avoid anything more serious.

The Phillies are playing the Nationals again as I write this and have mustered a little offense.  Tomorrow is the final regular season home game and also “Fan Appreciation Day.”  Here is an idea for the Phillies: How about showing some appreciation by winning the game?  Just a thought.

I will be there and hopefully, return with photos.  I also hope to return with an appreciative win and some runs scored for the 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*

Happy Hangover Hampers Hamels & Phils

After Saturday night’s NL East title celebration, both the Phillies and the fans came out a little sluggish on Sunday against the Cardinals.  The crowd was quiet and so were the Phillies bats.  After the late night champagne shower, everyone looked a little hung over.

A few bad pitches from Cole Hamels put the Phillies into an early 2-0 hole when Albert Pujols smacked a 2-run homer in the first inning.  Hamels seemed to bounce back quickly after that, but the offense did nothing to help him.  Then in the sixth inning, Hamels gave up another 2-run homer.

With only eight hits in the game, all of them singles, the Phillies did not have too many opportunities to score.  But the few times they did have runners on base, they hit into double plays.  Hunter Pence, Raul Ibanez and Ross Gload all hit into double plays, ending any possible offensive threat.

Three of the Phillies’ eight hits came off the bat of Chase Utley, which was one positive in the game.  Utley has struggled to find his swing again since getting hit in the head with a pitch.  That sort of shot would scramble anyone’s brain.  But it appears that Utley has found all his marbles and got his timing back at the plate.
 

Down 4-0, the Cardinals padded their lead in the eighth with a solo shot off pitcher Joe Blanton.  It was Blanton’s second appearance since coming off the DL and one he is sure to want to forget.

On the other hand, Justin DeFratus made his major league debut which was almost spoiled by Lance Berkman.  DeFratus’ first pitch was destroyed by Berkman, but the ball landed in Shane Victorino’s glove inches from the center field fence.  DeFratus managed to escape the inning without allowing a hit.

Slightly more exciting than the actual game was batting practice, where I spotted all of the newest members of the Phillies:

And even more exciting than that was the community mural painting which I participated in.  The new Phillies Mural will be eight stories high, facing the Schuylkill River.  It should be done by next summer.  In the meantime, the Phillies are allowing fans to help paint with large chunks of the mural drawn out in pencil like a paint-by-number.  Here I am painting part of the Phanatic:

Game 4 with the Cardinals starts tonight at 7:05pm.  And here is the full Photo Album from the game, including pre-game ceremonies.

 

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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*