After a disappointing series in Florida where Brad Lidge blew his 11th save, the Phillies needed a pick-me-up…quick.
The Brewers took care of that for them as the Phillies spanked them in the 4-game series opener by a score of 9-4. JA Happ took the mound and pitched 5.2 innings, allowing only 2 runs, 6 hits and he struck out 7 batters. Happ even helped himself out in the game going 1-2 at the plate with a single. The Phillies are Happ-Y to see the rookie back to form after some down time with an oblique strain; he now has the best ERA among rookie starters and is tied for the lead in wins.
Jimmy Rollins had the big blow in the game; in the 5th inning, he hit a 3-run homer which marks his 20th home run this year. Ryan Howard and Pedro Feliz also collected 2 RBI a piece and only Chase Utley and Jayson Werth were shut-out at the plate. Yes folks, even back-up catcher Paul Bako had 2 hits. Bako also got creamed at the plate saving a run on a throw from Shane Victorino. Bako is doing a nice job in the absence of Carlos Ruiz who is still out with a wrist sprain.
Ben Francisco started the game in place of Raul Ibanez who sat out with the stomach flu, we assume, thanks to Victorino who was ill last week. Francisco had 2 hits in the game and scored 2 runs; he has been a great addition to this team and a very nice surprise. Francisco came over in the Cliff Lee trade and it looks like we got 2 for the price of one.
Lee will pitch tonight against the Brew Crew – game time is 8:05pm. And the magic number is now 4!
Photo by Jenn
The Phillies played back-to-back games in Miami yesterday against the 2nd place Marlins and split the series. Here is a recap:
Joe Blanton pitched 7 scoreless innings while the Phillies offense played some small ball and squeaked out 4 runs off the Marlins ace, Josh Johnson. They blew the game wide open though with a 5-run 8th inning. Every starting position player had at least one hit and 5 different players collected RBI’s.
Miguel Cairo got a rare start at 3rd base while Pedro Feliz took a break; Cairo went 2 for 5 with an RBI and a run scored. Ryan Howard led the team in RBI’s with 3, none of which came off home runs. He got it done with base hits, sacrifices and some really good base running. Out of 9 runs scored in the 9-3 win, only 1 came off a homer; Raul Ibanez hit a solo shot in the 8th.
The pen ran into trouble in the bottom of the 8th with rookie Sergio Escalona allowing 3 runs on 2 hits. Tyler Walker allowed a hit as well, but eventually got the final 2 outs of the inning. Clay Condrey pitched a hitless 9th inning; it is great to see Condrey back after a long stint on the DL!
The Phillies looked a bit sleepy in game two.
In fact, the bats took a little nap for 9 innings and they lost the game 0-3. The only 2 hits in the game came from Chase Utley who hit a single and a double. I guess they were exhausted after a 9-run game earlier? Because the Marlins pitcher, Anibal Sanchez is certainly not their best; his 2-7 record and ERA of 4.50 going into the game should be evidence enough.
Jamie Moyer did his job and pitched 7 innings, allowing 3 runs on 9 hits and 1 walk, which is basically what the Phillies expected from him. But the lack of offense did them in.
So, having split the doubleheader, the Phillies will need to concentrate on winning the final game of the series tonight. Cole Hamels gets the ball at 7:10pm.
The magic number is now 5!
Cairo photo by Jenn
While not without drama, the Phillies did manage to take 2 games in this 3-game series from the Atlanta Braves, dampening their playoff hopes. Rain also dampened the afternoon with a 2-hour delay taking Cliff Lee out of the game after only 4 innings of work. Lee was on pace to pitch another great game, but on this day, it would be up to the bullpen.
The first inning however, did not bode well for the Phils; Shane Victorino got tossed out of the game for arguing with an umpire after he was tossed out stealing second. Victorino slammed his helmet to the ground and then said a few choice words to the ump. Shane needs to watch himself; with his second ejection this year, he now has a reputation with the umps of being a hot-head. In the bottom of the first inning, Jimmy Rollins dropped the ball trying to tag out Matt Diaz who was caught between bases and a run scored on the play. The run would have scored anyway, but the ejection followed by the missed ball made things look grim. Ben Francisco took over for Victorino and hit an RBI double in the third to tie the game and give the Phillies a lift. In the 4th, a double by Raul Ibanez and a single by Pedro Feliz put two more runs on the board. The rain came and a 2-hour delay ensued. After the delay, Chase Utley nailed an RBI triple to make the score 4-1 and the bullpen took over. Tyler Walker pitched 2 innings with Sergio Escalona and Clay Condrey sharing the 7th. Ryan Madson returned to his 8th inning role and took the 4-1 lead into the 9th. Brad Lidge still looks like crap, but with a 3-run lead, manager Charlie Manuel gave him the ball anyway. As expected, Lidge got into trouble with 2 outs and gave up a run. He finally struck out the last batter and all Phillies fans breathed a collective sigh of relief. Tomorrow is an off day and then a double-header on Tuesday with the Fish! The magic number is now 6! Photography Phun A few weeks ago, I attended a Photo Workshop at an Iron Pigs game (Phillies AAA club). I experimented with different lenses and camera settings in a very low-light environment. It was great fun and our group had access to the photo pit before the game right next to the Pigs dugout. I got some great close-up shots of the players! Here is the full Photo Album from the game; you will notice a lot of different light environments…this is a result of changing lenses, camera settings and just plain fooling around :O) Some of them are really awesome, and some are just a tad off, but I promise you, all of them were FUN! We even got the Mets AAA team to pose for us:
Photos by Jenn
The 9th inning drama needs to stop! Seriously. Ok, we won and I am happy, of course. But are we really going to have to go through this EVERY game? And what if the Phillies only have a 1-run lead? You can NOT trust a 1-run lead to Lidge anymore. Luckily, the Phillies have a nice 8-game pad in the division to figure this out, but with 3 games against the Marlins up next, they had better think quick!
Hope you enjoy the pictures!
The first inning however, did not bode well for the Phils; Shane Victorino got tossed out of the game for arguing with an umpire after he was tossed out stealing second. Victorino slammed his helmet to the ground and then said a few choice words to the ump. Shane needs to watch himself; with his second ejection this year, he now has a reputation with the umps of being a hot-head.
In the bottom of the first inning, Jimmy Rollins dropped the ball trying to tag out Matt Diaz who was caught between bases and a run scored on the play. The run would have scored anyway, but the ejection followed by the missed ball made things look grim.
Ben Francisco took over for Victorino and hit an RBI double in the third to tie the game and give the Phillies a lift. In the 4th, a double by Raul Ibanez and a single by Pedro Feliz put two more runs on the board. The rain came and a 2-hour delay ensued.
After the delay, Chase Utley nailed an RBI triple to make the score 4-1 and the bullpen took over. Tyler Walker pitched 2 innings with Sergio Escalona and Clay Condrey sharing the 7th. Ryan Madson returned to his 8th inning role and took the 4-1 lead into the 9th. Brad Lidge still looks like crap, but with a 3-run lead, manager Charlie Manuel gave him the ball anyway. As expected, Lidge got into trouble with 2 outs and gave up a run. He finally struck out the last batter and all Phillies fans breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Tomorrow is an off day and then a double-header on Tuesday with the Fish! The magic number is now 6!
A few weeks ago, I attended a Photo Workshop at an Iron Pigs game (Phillies AAA club). I experimented with different lenses and camera settings in a very low-light environment. It was great fun and our group had access to the photo pit before the game right next to the Pigs dugout. I got some great close-up shots of the players! Here is the full Photo Album from the game; you will notice a lot of different light environments…this is a result of changing lenses, camera settings and just plain fooling around :O) Some of them are really awesome, and some are just a tad off, but I promise you, all of them were FUN! We even got the Mets AAA team to pose for us:
Photos by Jenn
This game got off to an ominous start when Jamie Moyer allowed 4 runs before he even recorded an out in the 1st inning. Things were not looking good. But the Phillies offense battled back and by the 6th inning, they had an 8-4 lead over the Mets. Chase Utley, Pedro Feliz and Raul Ibanez all homered to give the team a lift.
And yet, despite 12 hits, including the 3 homers, 3 doubles and a triple (Rollins), the bullpen blew the game for the Phillies. Even Moyer battled back after a terrible start and wound up with 5 runs allowed over 7 innings. It appeared as if the planets would align and the Phillies would overcome the bad start. But when Ryan Howard struck out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 8th, fans began to wonder if that would come back to haunt them.
Let the haunting begin…the bad start came full circle and turned into a bad ending as well. Brett Myers and Chan Ho Park combined in the 8th inning to give the Mets 3 more runs, making the score 9-8. With a precarious 1 run lead, Ryan Madson took the mound in the 9th and gave up a two run homer to David Wright with 2 outs in the inning, his second homer plus 6 RBI’s on the night. Madson, in for the struggling Brad Lidge, has now blown his 6th save of the season. Madson and Lidge together have 16 blow saves on the year.
It is official – this team has NO closer. If the Phillies cannot close out games, they have no shot at success in the post-season, if they even get that far. Unless a miracle occurs and Lidge can figure out what is ailing him, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but, we are so totally screwed. I had a few other choice words in mind to express that feeling, but I will refrain for now. Feel free to add your own “color” to that sentence.
Frustration is another good word – frustration, disappointment and downright exasperation. So, just to make myself feel better, here is a small piece of comic relief. At batting practice today, I watched a Mets player using what appears to be a child’s glove to shag balls. It is tiny and quite colorful. Check out the comparison between a real glove and the baby-glove:
I have had my fun for the day then :O) The Phillies have a double-header tomorrow night with Kyle Kendrick pitching the 1:05pm game and Pedro Martinez at 8:05pm. I will be at the night game praying for a win! For now, here is the Photo Album from today’s game.
Photos by Jenn
Don’t get too excited Phillies fans; although Ryan Madson did close out the 6-5 win over the Nationals last night, it remains to be seen whether this is a permanent move or not. The unexpected, season-long decline of Brad Lidge has forced manager Charlie Manuel to sit him down. Is Lidge out for the season? Unlikely. Manuel is famous for his loyalty and will not give up on Lidge unless he has no other choice. But with 10 blown saves, the worst closer in baseball may be teetering on the brink of losing his job for the rest of 2009.
What is more likely to happen is Madson or Brett Myers will close when the game is close and Lidge will be given a few more shots if there is a 3-run lead to play with. But in a close game last night, it was a no-brainer to bring in Madson. He has pitched well lately and saved Lidge from sure disaster the night before, escaping a 1-out bases loaded situation in the 9th. Last night, Madson saved the game giving up one hit and striking out one batter.
Cliff Lee got the win, although for the 3rd start in a row, he did not look too solid. Lee gave up 10 hits and 4 earned runs over 7 innings, although he did not issue any walks. Still, Lee kept the Phillies in the game and allowed the offense to battle for him.
For the second night in a row and 10th time this year, the Phillies hit back-to-back home runs. This time it was Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz doing the honors in the 8th inning to solidify a lead for the Phils. Four players had at least 2 hits in the game, including Werth, Feliz, Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez. Even Lee helped out with the bat getting his 7th hit as a Phillie and his first career RBI. That RBI may have been the difference maker in the game.
The Phillies will try to sweep the Nationals tonight at 7:05pm. Joe Blanton will face former Met, Livan Hernandez. Best of luck to them!
Photos by Jenn
With a 3-2 victory over the Braves last night to win the series 2 game to 1, the Phillies will have an 8-game lead in the NL East over both the Braves and the Marlins going into September. Joe Blanton pitched another beautiful game and got through 7 innings of one run ball; the only run came off a solo homer from Martin Prado in the first inning. Blanton looked a bit shaky through those first few innings, but settled in well and only gave up 3 hits.
And for the 2nd night in a row, Chase Utley went yard; his solo shot to right field in the 4th was the only run for the Phillies until Carlos Ruiz stepped up in the 7th. In honor of the Ruiz backpack night, a giveaway for kids 14 and under, Ruiz smacked a double to left to score Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz. Ruiz went 3 for 3 on the night; it was his 5th 3-hit game of the year. Maybe the Phillies should give away a Ruiz bobble head next?
In the not-so-great offensive category, the Phillies are still struggling with runners in scoring position. They left 14 men on base and again, had the bases loaded with no outs and failed to score. Blanton hit a line-drive to first base and Ruiz was double off after the catch. Jimmy Rollins then hit a weak grounder to end the inning. The offensive outage is concerning, but thanks to great pitching, they came out on top.
Defense was a big part of the win as well. Ryan Madson, who is entering Brad Lidge-bad territory, got into a huge jam in the 8th inning again. He hit the first batter he faced and then gave up back-to-back singles which scored a run for the Braves. Without recording an out, he was removed from the game and Scott Eyre took over.
Brain McCann then hit a sharp grounder to Utley, who fielded it perfectly and flipped to Rollins who threw to Feliz at third; Feliz tagged Chipper Jones for the unusual 4-6-5 double play. Having eliminated the lead runner, Eyre saved the Phillies from disaster and gave Lidge a 3-2 lead to work with. Amazingly, Lidge nailed down the save with relative ease; it was his second save in a row. Whew!
By the way, did anyone see the actor, Paul Rudd (movies: “I Love You, Man”; “Anchorman”; “Knocked Up”), sitting in the 10th row behind home plate last night? He was just a few sections over from me so I took a few photos. The woman next to him (right side, dark brown hair) is none other than Jen Utley, Chase’s wife.
A very welcome off-day is upon us as the Phillies offense needs to rest and charge up for the September charge. Watch for September call-up’s which may include pitchers Kyle Kendrick, Jack Taschner and Rodrigo Lopez; infielders Mike Cervenak and Andy Tracy; outfielders John Mayberry Jr. and Jason Ellison; and we will likely see a catcher added – maybe Paul Hoover. Those are my guesses anyway.
A lot of moves will be made as the Phillies are also anticipating the return of Brett Myers, JC Romero and Clay Condrey to the bullpen plus Greg Dobbs. All four have been on the DL and are very close to coming back.
And finally, here is the complete Photo Album from last night’s Phillies – Braves game. Tomorrow, the San Francisco Giants come to town for 3 games and some serious pitching battles will ensue. You may remember the Phillies were stomped in San Fran back in July, losing 3 out of 4 games. The Giants are tied for a wildcard spot right now so this will be a very tough match match-up. Cole Hamels starts it off tomorrow at 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn
Fate or coincidence? If you ask me, lightning (or rain in this case) does not tend to strike twice unless it means it. For the second home start in a row for Pedro, Mother Nature intervened to bring Pedro Martinez and Jamie Moyer together once more. Martinez only notched 2 scoreless innings against the Braves before the storm came and then he had to sit through not one, but two rain delays. He almost made it to the mound after the 1st delay, but only a few minutes later, the rain came again and the umpires called for the tarp again. By the time the game resumed, Pedro was out and again, Jamie was in.
Moyer went on to pitch 4 1/3 innings allowing 1 run on 4 hits while striking out 5 batters. I hate to sound like a broken record, but this Martinez-Moyer 5th start duo works. Obviously some higher power is trying to sell this idea to the Phillies as well. Fate has intervened yet again and brought the Phillies a win on the strength of this Batman and Robin combo.
bat did not hurt the situation either; Howard blasted 2 home runs for 3 RBI in the game plus a double and a walk. Howard looked like there was nothing he could not hit, rain or no rain. Pedro Feliz had the only other RBI for the Phillies which came off a single to score Raul Ibanez from third.
Charlie Manuel, the most loyal manager in baseball, sent Ryan Madson out for the 8th inning and Brad Lidge out for the 9th again. Both pitchers have struggled, especially Lidge who looks like a shell of his former self. Madson got into trouble in the 8th, loaded the bases and allowed a run to score. But he worked his way out of the potential disaster and handed the game to Lidge.
With a 4-2 lead, Lidge pitched a clean inning and secured the win for the Phillies. Do not jump up and down just yet; it has been this type of performance that Lidge has been unable to duplicate all season long. No one, except maybe Manuel, is convinced yet that this is the end of the Lidge problems, although we all hope that it may be so :O)
Tonight the series will continue with the Braves at 7:05pm. The match-up of Cliff Lee and Derek Lowe should be an interesting one!
By the way, the Phillies Cruise package that I posted yesterday is still available! And yes, I will be going! I also went last year and can attest that is was the BEST vacation ever! Hanging out with major league players, their families and fellow fans….what could be better? NOTHING I tell you….nothing. Join us!
Photoshopping by Jenn