Tagged: Pirates

Halladay Ends Losing Streak

After a four game losing streak, the longest of the season for the Phillies, Roy Halladay finally led this struggling team to a win against the Pirates.  It seemed like an eternity since the Phillies came out on the winning end.

However, the win was not without drama.  In the fourth inning, down by 2-1, Domonic Brown was all set to tie up the game when an umpire literally stepped in.

With two runners in scoring position, Brown powered a ball straight up the middle that should have shot into center field to score a run.  Instead, second-base umpire Chad Fairchild stepped into the ball while trying to avoid it.  Once the ball hit him, it was a dead ball.  And although Brown was awarded first base, the run was not allowed to score.

The next batter, Wilson Valdez, hit into an inning-ending double play.  After that, things looked grim for the Phillies who had a run stolen from them and lost a chance with the bases loaded.

But the team followed Halladay’s lead and pushed forward.  After allowing a two-run homer in the first, Halladay put it behind him and pitched extremely well after that.  The offense, despite the umpire goof, followed suit.

Chase Utley finally had a good day at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a walk and a run scored.  Ryan Howard collected three RBI on two hits and a sac fly.  And Placido Polanco, Shane Victorino and Brown all had two hits in the game as well.

Utley was amazing on defense as well.  He saved Halladay in the seventh when he laid out, Superman-style, diving for a line drive.  The catch ended the inning that otherwise may have been a disaster.

Relief pitcher Jose Contreras gave up his first run of the year in the eighth, but Antonio Bastardo bailed him out, getting the final two outs of the inning.  Ryan Madson shut the door in the ninth and the Phillies pulled out a 7-3 win.

The team is headed home now for a long home stand, starting with the Dodgers tomorrow night at 7:05pm.

In the meantime, do not forget to enter to win an admission ticket to the Phillies Phestival right here!  Entries will be accepted until Wednesday at 6pm.  Enter today…good luck!

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Good News? Anyone? Bueller?

If you ask Phillies fans today if they can pass on any good news about this team right now, you will have a difficult time getting an answer.  So, good news?  Anyone?? …

Let us quickly recap all of the BAD news:

– The Phillies have now lost FOUR games in a row for the first time all year.

– Two of those losses  were against the last place Nationals (NL East) and two more against the fourth place Pirates (NL Central).

– The Phillies have scored three runs or less in all four losses.

– Since coming off the DL, Chase Utley is hitting .195.  He ended tonight’s game by flying out with the bases loaded.

Ryan Howard suddenly looks like an automatic out at the plate.  He hits into the shift next to first base on a regular basis.  He hit there again tonight with an inning-ending double play with a man on third.

Jimmy Rollins was removed from the game early with a patellar contusion.  He fouled a ball off his kneecap in the first inning.

Brian Schneider suffered a “setback” in his rehab.  The Phillies say he is basically having to start all over.

Brad Lidge had a setback of his own; he has stiffness in the shoulder he is trying to rehab.

I could go on, but that was depressing enough.  So here is the only bit of good news I have for you:  You can enter to win an admission ticket to the Phillies Phestival right here!  Entries will be accepted until Wednesday at 6pm.  Enter today!

The Nightmare at PNC Park Continues

After a dismal, 12-inning, 2-1 loss to the Pirates last night, the Phillies are now a frightening 12-31 lifetime at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.  They simply cannot win in this ballpark.  Could it be cursed?  This place is like a haunted house of horrors for the Phils.

 
Even with the entire line-up together for the first time all season, the Phillies still looked like zombies out there.  Shane Victorino came off the DL and with the whole gang all together again, one might think it would break the sleep spell on this dreadful offense.

That simply did not happen.

The biggest victim of the night was pitcher Cole Hamels.  This poor guy left it all on the field, pitching eight innings of one-run ball.  And what did he get to show for it?  Nothing.  His team left him hanging.

The offense came out of 12-innings of play with a measly six hits.  And two of those six hits were courtesy of the pitcher, Hamels.  So they gave Cole only four hits and one run to work with.  This should be a criminal offense ;o}

Let us count the 0’fers:  Victorino, 0-for-5.  Ryan Howard, Raul Ibanez, Domonic Brown, Carlos Ruiz…all 0-for-4.  As a team, they complied 40 at-bats, six hits and left seven men on base.  Disgusting.

Last year, in a similar slump, the Phillies fired hitting coach and all around nice guy, Milt Thompson.  So is Greg Gross next to go?  Because if this keeps up, the team is going to be looking for another fall guy.  But they only one to blame are the players themselves.

No one seems to be getting too worked up over all this as they are still in first place, thanks to the pitching.  But the Marlins and Braves are creeping up closer and something is going to hit the fan when the Phillies drop out of first because they cannot score more than one or two runs in a game.  As I gaze into my crystal ball, I see the disaster coming.

But the disaster can easily be averted.  This team need to get back to the basics.  Stop swinging for the fences, stop swinging at bad pitches and for heaven’s sake, would someone please inform this line-up that they need to adjust their swing when a pitcher is tossing all kinds of off-speed crap at them?  They cannot just stand up there and pray for a fastball.  Pitchers have this teams’ number now and they need to adjust.

In the league, the Phillies rank #2 in fly-ball outs.  If there was a stat specifically in short pop-ups, I am pretty sure they would be #1 in all of baseball.  Also of note, they rank 19th in the majors in runs scored and batting average.  For a first place team, this is pathetic.

So the house of horrors continues tonight.  Kyle Kendrick will start and game time is 7:05pm.  Bust out your four-leaf clovers, rabbit’s foot (artificial, of course), horseshoe, crucifix, #7 pendant, voodoo doll, lucky jersey or whatever you have and start praying for the curse to be lifted!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Unproductive Phillies Offense Leads to Series Loss

The month of June did not start off as the Phillies may have hoped.  After a win on Monday, the Phils went on to lose two straight to the lowly, last place Washington Nationals by a score of 2-1.

Domonic Brown was almost the hero as he blasted a shot to left center that should have scored the three runners on base at the time.  But the Nats left fielder, Laynce Nix, ripped the Superman cape right off Brown’s back, put it on himself and literally flew through the air to snatch the ball out of no-man’s land.  Nix won the tug-o-war battle.

That catch will be on highlight reels all week.  Nix also hit the go-ahead home run off pitcher Roy Oswalt.  He was a one-man wrecking crew.

Oswalt had a descent game, allowing just the two runs.  He was pulled early after five innings in order to send Brown in with the bases loaded, after which Brown was robbed of that big hit.

The real disappointment, however, was watching the Phillies offense revert back to old habits.  They had only five hits in the game, went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 9 men on base.  Ryan Howard had two of the five hits.  No one collected an RBI as the lone run scored after a Nats error.

Chase Utley is another concern.  He is hitting only .194 since coming off the DL.  And although he appears healthy, his swing is simply not there.  That is especially concerning when you remember that the only thing Utley was able to do the entire time he was injured was hit.

The Phillies have a day off tomorrow to lick their wounds, but things do not get much better on Friday.  They are headed to Pittsburgh and recent history shows the Phillies have a rough time there.  Despite the Pirates fielding fairly awful teams over the years, the Phillies simply play badly in Pittsburgh.  They better hope that changes.

Shane Victorino should be back for the series, which will hopefully be a nice boost for the offense.  However, who will be sent down to make room?

My feeling is that John Mayberry Jr. has to stay, as he is the only suitable center field back-up who can match Victorino’s defense.  Brown should be here to stay.  Michael Martinez is a Rule-5 and the Phils do not want to lose him.  But Ross Gload is injured.  He can hit, but cannot run or play the field.  If it were up to me, he’d be going on the DL to make room.

Another option is pitcher Mike Zagurski, but it seems like the Phillies want an extra pitcher around.  However, Zagurski still has not shown he is a major leaguer.

It is a tough decision.  Glad I do not have to make it :O)

 

Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Kendrick VS. Worley, Amaro’s Contract & Utley’s Knee

The Phillies played two games today in split squad action.  Kyle Kendrick started against the Rays in Clearwater and Vance Worley took the mound against the Pirates in Bradenton.

Worley did well and allowed just one run over 3.1 innings on two hits and two walks while striking out five batters. 
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Kendrick, on the other hand, looked good for two innings but was then slammed with three homers from lefties in his final two innings.  The five runs Kendrick surrendered contributed to a 6-2 Phillies loss.

While it is only spring training, the question of whether or not Kendrick can get left-handed batters out still remains.  In four seasons with the Phillies, Kendrick has been consistently inconsistent.  The issues with lefties, a sinker ball that does not always sink and Kendrick’s tendency to become frustrated on the mound are concerning.

With all the experience he had gained over the years, the time for Kendrick to get it together into one complete package may be now or never.

Worley, 23, is younger and has less experience.  But in the long run, he may turn out to be the better pitcher between the two.  In 13 innings with the big club last year, Worley posted a 1.38 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP.  His minor league lifetime WHIP is 1.280.

In addition, Worley has a variety of pitches including both a two-seam and four-seam fastball, slider, curve and cut fastball.

It is possible that Worley will have outpitched Kendrick by the end of spring.  If so, do the Phillies go with Worley or stick with experience in Kendrick?

There is a different possibility as well.  If another bullpen pitcher bombs, like Danys Baez for example, there could be room for both players.  This also gives the Phillies additional options in the case that a starting pitcher gets injured.  Although, having two long-men in the bullpen seems unlikely as Worley could easily be recalled from the minors if needed.

With only a few weeks left this spring, both pitchers will need to bring their A-games.

Amaro’s Contract Extension

Earlier today, Ruben Amaro Jr. signed a four-year contract extension with the Phillies.  Amaro has been with the Phillies organization for a very long time and it appears that will not end anytime soon.

Amaro played for the Phillies from 1992 to 1993 and again from 1996 to 1998.  Right after that, he moved to the Phillies front office, serving as Assistant GM until being promoted to GM at the end of the 2008 season.  Amaro grew up in Philadelphia and his father, Ruben Amaro Sr., also played for the Phillies for six seasons.

Chase Utley’s Knee

The Phillies have issued a statement that Chase Utley has made “a small improvement” in his rehab after suffering patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia and bone inflammation this spring.

The news is underwhelming.

However, a newspaper cartoonist had another take on the subject:

 

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It seems he feels like Utley is comparable to Humpty Dumpty.  Quick, get the Super Glue!

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Cartoon from The Dover Post

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

 

Brown To Have Surgery On Broken Hand

While hitting a foul ball in Saturday’s spring training game against the Pirates, Domonic Brown fractured the hamate bone in his right hand.  Oddly enough, his very next swing after breaking the bone resulted in his only hit in spring action through 16 at-bats.


Hamate Bone.jpgSeveral baseball players have had this very same bone removed in the past.  Some of those include former Phillie, Jim Thome and Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia.  Apparently, the hand is just fine without this bone, although recovery from the surgery could take four to six weeks.

This may be a blessing in disguise for Brown who was struggling badly to adjust his swing and make the Phillies roster before the end of camp.  Time off to reflect on his issues may be a good thing.

In the meantime, the job in right almost certainly will go to Ben Francisco, although the Phillies will not dub anyone the winner just yet.

Thus far, the injury bug has bitten twice for the Phillies in spring training; first Chase Utley and his bum knee, then Brown.  Utley is still recovering from a cortisone injection and it will be several more days before any more is known about his knee.

On the bright side, the Phillies pitching staff looks fantastic!  Cliff Lee appeared to be almost in mid-season form against the Rays today over four innings.  And on Saturday Roy Halladay threw three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.

In the bullpen, JC Romero pitched today and looked very, very sharp.  After going 3-0 on the first batter, he came back to strike the guy out and then mowed down the next two batters in order.

Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras also seem to be moving along well.  Neither has surrendered a run yet.

Other roster hopefuls are not having much success though.  Eddie Bonine has allowed seven runs in four innings of work.  J.C. Ramirez has allowed four runs in five innings.  However, most of these guys were not expected to make the team anyway.

Spring action continues tomorrow when the Phillies see the Yankees again.  Game time is 1:05pm.

 

Illustration by Wikipedia

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Samuel Returns To Philly

The Phillies have hired ex-Phillie Juan Samuel to fill the void left when first base coach Davey Lopes walked after failed contract negotiations.  Samuel started his 16-year big league career with the Phillies, playing second base from 1983 to part of 1989. 
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Later in his career, Samuel played both second base and outfield positions and was known as an extremely versatile player.  More recently, he  coached third base for the Orioles and also served as interim manager when Dave Trembley was fired in June.

Samuel will take over as third base coach and outfield instructor for the Phillies while Sam Perlozzo moves to first base.  When asked about returning the Philadelphia, Samuel told reporters, “I couldn’t be happier.  I’m ecstatic going back and joining an elite group of players and manager.  It’s a dream come true.”  Samuel was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame in 2008 and has always been a fan favorite.  It will be nice to have him back.

In other news, the Phillies have made a small flurry of insignifigant moves in the past week or so.  They have signed Pete Orr, 31, to a minor league deal.  The infielder has spent much of his baseball career lingering in the minors where he hit .264.

In the catcher category, the Phils re-signed Dane Sardinha who hit .205 in his time with the Phils last year and .207 in the minors.  They also picked up Erik Kratz, 30, who hit .274 in the Pirates AAA system.


Bonine-Adult.jpgContinuing to add minor-league pitching, Eddie Bonine, 29, was added as well after spending time in the Tigers bullpen last year.  Bonine had a record of 4-1 with a 4.63 ERA in 47 appearances and one start in 2010.  His name indicates that he is good at preventing nausea, however, his stats indicate otherwise.  Yuck.  Well, at least they picked up one guy under 30….barely.

As for Jayson Werth, there is still little news.  He and his super-agent Scott Boras are out and about trying to see who is willing to get serious about overpaying the outfielder.  The odds of Werth returning to the Phillies lessen as each day passes.  But truthfully, the odds may have been close to 1% to begin with.  Don’t hold out hope…it is very unlikely that Werth will be back in red pinstripes.

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*