After last night’s tummy turning, see-saw circus act, a nice old-fashioned blow-out would have been a welcome event. And through 7 innings tonight, it was so very nice and relaxing. The Phillies offense swung the bats like a starving man who was just tossed a cracker. They scored against the Marlins in every inning except the 6th and the 8th.
Ryan Howard led the fish feast with 6 RBI, including a 3-run homer to the opposite field. Chase Utley was hungry too; he went 2 for 3 with 2 RBI, a walk and was hit by a suspicious pitch in the 7th. The 9-0 lead at the time and ball thrown near his head made people wonder if the Marlins pitcher, Jose Ceda, was expressing his displeasure at the routing. Luckily, it hit him in the upper shoulder area and Utley looked to be okay.
Jimmy Rollins had two hits in the game before having to leave with a tight right hamstring. Leslie Gudel reported on Twitter that J-Roll was not feeling well and was dehydrated before the game, even skipping batting practice. Why he then started the game is a mystery. Hopefully, the injury is not serious.
As the runs were piling on, Cole Hamels kept right on pitching as if it were a tie game, which later on, turned out to be a really good thing. Hamels went 7 strong without allowing a run and striking out 5. Marlins batters were feeling the heat as Hamels kept right on cooking.
A former Fish, Nate Robertson, was called on in the 8th inning to pitch to his former team. However, Robertson was the one who got cooked this time. In 2/3 of an inning, Robertson walked two batters and allowed 6 runs, including a 3-run homer. If Robertson was looking to revive his career, he did himself no favors tonight.
Entering the 8th inning with a 10-0 lead, manager Charlie Manuel put in a bunch of back-ups to give them some playing time. Ross Gload at first has issues handling an Utley throw; catcher Paul Hoover dropped a pop-up and later dropped a ball after a collision at home. Had he held it, the inning would have been over. Instead, the 5th run of the inning scored.
The 10-0 blowout at the start of the 8th turned into a 10-6 “holy crap-fest” real fast. David Herndon, who finished off the 8th inning, came in again to pitch the 9th. He got one out, walked the next batter and them forced the managers hand…Ryan Madson, who should have had this day off, was forced to come in to pitch and prevent further damage. Madson got the final two outs for a 10-6 final score. Whew!
So tomorrow is an off-day for the Phillies for some much needed rest after a LONG stretch of 23 games and no off-day. On Friday, they will return in New York to face the Mets for 3 games. Brad Lidge, who says his elbow is sore, should be back for that game. And with any luck, J-Roll will be back and well rested.
In the meantime, 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!
Hamels photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
While the Brewers have not been playing well, having lost an entire home stand and all of their last 8 games, the Phillies did not take pity. Instead, they put a beating on the Brew Crew, winning all 3 games of the series.
The offense was not as potent last night as the previous two games where they scored 19 runs combined, but the 4 runs yesterday were enough. Starting pitcher Cole Hamels helped himself out at the plate with an RBI double in the second inning. Placido Polanco and Wilson Valdez had one run knocked in each. The 4th run was a bit more unconventional. Chase Utley batted with men on 1st and 3rd in the 8th and swung at an awful, in the dirt pitch, striking out. But the catcher missed the bouncing ball and Utley was safe at first base while Shane Victorino scored from 3rd. Weird.
Because Hamels pitched a good game, those 4 runs brought the Phillies the 4-2 win. Hamels allowed those 2 runs to the Brewers in the 6th inning by giving up 2 solo homers. But before that, he was mowing the batters down with his fast ball-change-up combo. Hamels made it through 6 2/3 innings with the bullpen holding down the lead. JC Romero got the save and looked like he is back in top shape now since his off-season surgery.
The Phillies should get some good news today as it looks like Jimmy Rollins will be coming off the DL. This is sad for Wilson Valdez who has been filling in for both Rollins and the still injured Juan Castro at short stop. Valdez did not start out well, but he ended by going 5 for 15 in this series with 2 RBI. And the 3rd back-up catcher, Paul Hoover, went 5 for 10 with 2 RBI and 6 runs scored in the series. With two 3rd-string players performing so well, it makes you wonder if just putting on the Phillies uniform has some magical powers? Abracadabra, you are a major league player! Poof!
While that may or may not be the case, the Phillies will take this kind of output from their back-ups anyway they can get it. The Pirates are up next for a two game series. Kyle Kendrick pitches tonight and game time is 7:05pm. Go Phillies!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
An explosion of hitting broke out in Milwaukee this weekend. The Phillies beat the Brewers both Friday and Saturday by wide margins with a lot of help from the offense. In these last 2 games, Phillies hitters pounded out 28 hits and 19 runs, including 4 home runs. The biggest bang came from Shane Victorino who collected 6 hits and 7 RBI in the two games combined. And today, Paul Hoover, the 3rd string catcher, showed what he can do with 3 hits and 2 RBI to back pitcher Joe Blanton.
The pitching was not as stellar as the hitting, but both Jamie Moyer and Blanton hung in there.
On Friday in a 9-5 win, Moyer went 6 1/3 innings allowing 4 earned runs and 1 unearned following last week’s historical complete game shut-out. It was 70’s night at the park and the 47-year old Moyer looked quite at home in the old powder blue & magenta retro uniform.
Blanton escaped the embarrassing powder blue spotlight by pitching today in the regular greys, but it did not help his performance at all. He did well through 6 innings, allowing just 2 solo homers, but by the end of the 6th, he looked tired. Blanton has just 3 starts so far as he was on the DL the first month of the season. With that in mind, maybe the Phillies needed to break him in a tad slower? Because when they sent him out for the 7th, he gave up 3 more runs.
The bullpen held the Brewers down on Friday and had a fairly easy time closing the game out. That did not happen today. David Herndon allowed 3 hits and a run in just 1/3 of the 9th inning. With 2 men on base, Jose Contreras came in and loaded the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate. But that’s ok, he struck out the next 2 batters for the first save of career and the Phillies won, 10-6. Whew!
The Phillies have one more game with the Brewers tomorrow night at 8:05pm and are hoping for a sweep. Cole Hamels will pitch.
And in case you had not heard, Pat Burrell was released by the Tampa Bay Rays today. Burrell did not fare well as a designated hitter, batting only .218 since he left the Phillies after the 2008 season. Do not look for the Phillies to do him any favors by taking him back; he cannot play the field effectively anymore and our current bench players are performing well. Maybe in September they can bring him back to retire as a Phillie? In the meantime, I wish him luck in finding a job. Burrell will always be remembered in Philly for helping to bring us a World Championship :O)
UPDATE: This just in…Brad Lidge has been put on the DL with elbow inflammation (can I say now I told you so?). Lefty Antonio Bastardo will be brought back up to take his place on the roster.
Moyer photo by ESPN; Explosion: USDOE
Three solo home runs were the difference in a 5-3 win over the Braves. Placido Polanco, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino all went long in the game. Werth had two RBI on the day and Raul Ibanez collected one as well. Here are a few game highlights:
Cole Hamels started the game and look great through 3 innings. In the 4th, the bottom began to fall out as he walked the first two batters. After escaping that near-disaster unharmed, Hamels came back out in the 5th and started again with a walk. Four singles in a row followed to give the Braves 3 runs. Hamels worked out of the inning again, but the 5th would be his last inning.
There does not appear to be any rhyme or reason to the sudden change in Hamels’ performance. He simply lost his command and forgot where the strike zone was. Luckily, the bullpen bailed him out. Chad Durbin pitched 2 innings and Jose Contreras took the 8th. Both did an amazing job as their families looked on. Before the game, both players greeted their moms and wives on the field for Mother’s Day; even the Phanatic brought his mom to the game:
Brad Lidge earned his first save of the year when he retired the final 3 Braves batters. The first two batters hit long fly balls that barely stayed in the park, but they turned into outs. And we cannot expect zero drama from Lidge, can we? A win is a win; we’ll take it.
Also in honor of Mother’s Day on this day, most of the players used pink bats and wore other pink accessories to mark the occasion and show their support for Breast Cancer research. Chase Utley went all out…look at the photo. He used the pink bat, wore pink batting gloves, 2 pink necklaces, a pink wristband and a pink ribbon pin. Who says real men don’t wear pink? Not I.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game.
In injury news, back-up catcher Brian Schneider has been placed on the DL with a left achilles strain. Paul Hoover, who spent a short time with the team last year, has been recalled from AAA and will take Schneider’s place.
So the Phillies closed out this home stand with a series win and will be off to Colorado to face the Rockies on Monday night. Kyle Kendrick will pitch and the game begins at 8:40pm.
Also, be sure to check out my interviews with Dallas Green, Gary “Sarge” Matthews and Virginia Ventura Marina of the former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League if you missed it yesterday.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies prevailed over the Pirates today by a score of 4-3 in the final spring exhibition game. This win brings their Spring Training record to 15 wins, 12 losses and 1 tie. Spring numbers do not mean a whole lot, however, so we will all be very glad to see the real games begin on Monday.
JA Happ started the game today and pitched 3 innings, allowing 1 run on 5 hits. In the second inning, Happ loaded the bases with no outs and still only managed to give up the one run, thanks in part to some nice defense.
One thing that has stood out the past 3 springs is the effort this team puts forth, even in games that do not mean anything. Phillies players give 100% effort even in Spring Training. It is refreshing to see that they do not hold back and always play the game the right way. Here are just a few of the highlights from today’s game:
In addition to the field acrobatics, a few players stood out at the plate as well. Jayson Werth hit a solo homer in the 4th inning and both Chase Utley and Shane Victorino had 2 hits and 1 RBI each. Raul Ibanez had a rough Spring overall, but he did collect one more hit today to improve his average to .130. The low average is due to his very slow start, but Ibanez looks more comfortable at the plate now and hopefully, he is ready to compete.
The roster is nearly set now; after the game, the following players were assigned to AAA – catcher Paul Hoover, infielders Cody Ransom and Wilson Valdez and outfielder Dewayne Wise. That leaves Juan Castro, Ross Gload, Ben Francisco and Greg Dobbs as the bench players, as well as back-up catcher Brian Schneider.
Three pitchers were placed in the DL retroactive to March 26; Joe Blanton, Brad Lidge and JC Romero. These are not surprises. There are 11 pitchers left on the active roster after these moves, which leaves one spot open for a bullpen pitcher after losing Blanton and moving Kyle Kendrick to the starting rotation. Who the #12 guy will be has not yet been announced, although it is expected to be right-hander Andrew Carpenter.
Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game. I will also be at the Opener in DC on Monday and will bring back photos from that one as well. President Obama will toss the first pitch…see you there!
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Photos by Jenn
The rumors flying about all week in regards to Roy Halladay have been worse than a group of middle-aged women sipping coffee and debating who in their neighborhood may have slept with Tiger Woods. The non-stop barrage has included the Phillies being ready to part ways with pitchers like JA Happ, Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton to clear up salary space. With as many times as each of these players has been supposed trade-bait, the imaginary frequent flyer miles are piling up.
Still, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. continues to downplay the rumors and perpetuate the idea that they have no money to spend. This is either posturing to put people off the scent of a trade or in reality, the Phillies cannot find a way to work out a Halladay trade without breaking the minor league prospect bank. Either way, I feel bad for all these guys whose futures seem so up in the air right now. What actually happens may turn out to be a great big nothing.
The Phils have also expressed interest in John Smoltz as a possible bullpen guy. Why? Well, Smoltz is likely a future Hall of Famer with a proven track record and, at this stage of his career he may be very cheap. Oh, and also, the Phillies love senior citizens ;o) I kid…
As for the young folk, the Phillies picked up two of them in the Rule 5 draft which, for those unaware, is where players like Shane Victorino came from. Right-handed pitcher Kenneth David Herndon went 5-6 with a 3.03 ERA and 11 saves in 50 appearances last season with the Dodgers AA team. And right-hander Angelo Sanchez, from the Twins rookie club, went 5-1 with a 5.52 ERA in 12 starts.
For Spring Training, the Phillies have invited seven non-roster players. Infielder Andy Tracy, who has been with the Iron Pigs for some time and was a September call-up, will join the team. And you may also be familiar with catcher Paul Hoover, also from the Pigs and spent a short time with the big club this past year. The others are outfielder Chris Duffy (Milwaukee), infielder Cody Ransom (NYY), outfielder DeWayne Wise (CWS), infielder Wilson Valdez (NYM) and lefty Bill White (Texas, 2008). Interestingly, 6 out of 7 players are in their 30’s. Mr. Duffy is the youngest at 29.
Will any of these players actually make the team? Probably not. But hey, they get a free trip to Florida and can hang out with people like Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. I would totally take that. Seriously…please pack me in your suitcase. Thank you in advance :O)
Player photos by Jenn
What would have been the perfect ending to an outstanding season for rookie pitcher JA Happ went instead to Chris Coghlan of the Marlins. The Rookie of the Year award is voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and this year, it looks like they may have gotten it wrong.
While it is difficult to compare a hitter like Coghlan to a pitcher like Happ, perhaps the deciding factor should be which player had the greatest impact on their team? Happ filled the void left by starters Brett Myers and Jamie Moyer; without him, the Phillies would not have made the playoffs. Coghlan’s resume is impressive, but his team did not go to the post-season.
To review, Happ went 12-4 with a 2.93 ERA, topping all rookies in innings pitched (166), strikeouts (119), complete game shut-outs (2) and 3 total shut-outs. Coghlan hit .321 with 9 homers, 47 RBI, 162 hits and a .390 on-base percentage. Again, difficult to compare, but clearly good pitching beats good hitting as has been demonstrated by years of baseball past.
So while myself and probably a lot of people feel that Happ was snubbed having come in 2nd place, these awards are seldom fair. But the second place finish does not diminish what was an amazing season for Happ, who has more than proved his worth to this team. As a consolation prize, I hereby dub JA Happ the “Fan Rookie of the Year“! Yes, complete with a photo montage:
In other news, the Phillies have removed the following players from the 40-man roster, making them free agents: Eric Bruntlett, Tyler Walker, Paul Hoover, Andy Tracy and John Ennis. Tracy will likely be back next year with the Iron Pigs (AAA) in Allentown as well as Ennis. Hoover may find himself serving as a back-up catcher if not one fills that spot right away. But it does look like Bruntlett and Walker will probably be gone.
Free agent signings will begin on Friday.
Photos by Jenn