Tagged: Placido Polanco

The Phillies Are Halfway to Nowhere

After being swept by the Marlins today, the Phillies are 10.5 games back in the division with a 36-45 record.  It is their worst effort through 81 games since 1997.

It is the halfway point of the season; time to count the bodies and see exactly how big the hole is that the Phillies are digging.  Let’s begin with Jim Thome.  He was traded to the Orioles in exchange for 2 prospects: Class A catcher Gabriel Lino and right-hander Kyle Simon, both of whom will report to Class A Lakewood.  So the Phillies did not even get a player who could help out right now.

If the Phillies were actually contending, Thome might still be here.  But it is the best move for Thome, who will actually get some playing time in the American League.  I wish him the best.

And how about Cliff Lee…when Phillies beat reporter Todd Zolecki asked pitching coach Rich Dubee about Lee’s struggles, Dubee basically pleaded the 5th.  The response given multiple times was, “I’m not going into it.”  Lee appears healthy, no mechanical issues were mentioned.  That leads one to believe that Lee, winless in 13 starts, has thrown in the towel.  I hope that is not the case, but Lee has not seemed right in a long time now.

And the bodies continue to mount.  Jimmy Rollins’ hot streak is over; he is hitless in his last 11 at-bats.  Placido Polanco is 2 for his last 15.  Antonio Bastardo has allowed 6 runs in his last 4 2/3 innings in relief.

The next head on the block might actually be Cole Hamels.  Just announced as an All-Star this year along with Carlos Ruiz and Jonathan Papelbon, it is rumored that the Phillies are shopping Hamels to other teams.  If team management feels Hamels will walk once he hits free agency and this 2012 team is down for the count, Hamels may be gone soon.

That would be a terrible shame, but if the Phillies do not pick themselves up and start winning, Hamels will not be the only casualty.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Double Disaster as Phillies Lose Two Against the Rays

The Phillies managed to spend only one day out of the basement in the NL East after Saturday’s win.  But Sunday’s twin killing against the Rays propelled them right back to where they apparently belong; in last place.  When your two best starters are pitching and you still lose both games, things have clearly gone very, very wrong.

In the first game, Cole Hamels was practically unhittable.  He did not allow a run over 7 innings and gave up only 3 hits.

Leaving the game with a 1-0 lead, the bullpen was going to have to pitch 2 clean innings.  And as you probably already know, that did not happen.

I try not to say too much about how Charlie Manuel handles this team.  Because frankly, what he has been given to work with is on par with a minor league team.  But after Antonio Bastardo walked 2 batters in the 8th with just a 1-run lead, he should not have been allowed to continue.  Bastardo was awful the day before and clearly, he still has not found proper command of his pitches.  So why then is he left in to pitch to Carlos Pena?

Apparently, he was left in to clear the bases for the next pitcher as he gave up a 3-run homer to Pena.  I saw that coming, as did everyone in my section screaming, “Take him out!”  But Manuel puts blind faith in these guys even when it has become obvious to everyone else that the leash has gotten far too long.

Then again, look at the players Manuel has to choose from.  The pickings are slim.  This bullpen just sucks, so in that regard, it is still hard to blame the manager.  I still don’t agree with the decision to leave Bastardo in, but I am also glad I was not the one having to make that decision.

And then in the 8th with 2 outs and the bases loaded, Manuel left Michael Martinez in to bat instead of pinch hitting.  Martinez is hitting .133 and could not hit the broad side of a barn right now.  After the game, Manuel told the media that neither Juan Pierre nor Mike Fontenot were hitting lefties well, so he left Martinez in.  The issue with that is, Martinez is not hitting ANYONE right now.

Angry at the media for asking, Manuel suggested the reporters should tweet him with their in-game decisions saying, “You guys can float the information down there to me, being as I ain’t smart enough to get it.”  Oh my…

Here are a few other random shots from the 1st game, which the Phillies went on to lose, 3-2.

In game 2, Cliff Lee basically squashed any shot he may have had at his first win of the season by allowing 5 runs over 7 innings.  His last 3 starts have been awful.  Where did our ace go?

Perhaps the strain of not having a win has finally stolen whatever small amount of sanity he had left?   No one really knows what is going on here.

Placido Polanco tried to get this team going.  He went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI and a walk.  John Mayberry Jr. also had a big hit and an RBI.  And it was apparently “opposite day” for Hunter Pence who drew 3 walks in the game.

But the offense literally ended there.  The Phillies managed only 4 hits and left 6 men on base.

And just so Lee did not feel singled out in this one, some of the rookie pitchers decided to help out with 5 walks, a wild pitch and 2 more runs for the Rays in one inning.  It looks like B.J. Rosenberg’s major league career may be over before it began.  He was responsible for all that damage except 1 of the walks.

Adding insult to injury, catcher Brian Schneider was leveled at home plate by Sean Rodriguez coming in to score.  He left the game with a sprained ankle.  Later, Pence almost took out the Rays catcher in a weird semi-collision with Jose Molina’s outstretched leg.

Schneider is now on the DL and the Phillies went down for the count in a 7-3 loss.

Here are the Photo Albums from both games: Game 1: Hamels start, Game 2: Lee start.

The Pirates come to town next for a 4-game series starting tonight at 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Stomp Rockies by a Toe Length

The Phillies won the second game of their series with the Rockies, not by a nose or even by the hair of their chins; they won by a toe.  It was Todd Helton’s toe, to be exact.

In the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs, the bases loaded and a tie game, Placido Polanco stepped to the plate.  He hit a bouncing grounder to short that looked like it might end the game.  It did end the game, just not in the way you might expect.

Polanco hustled down the line and, for some unknown reason, veteran Todd Helton suddenly forgot how to play first base.  He had the wrong foot back towards the bag and had to juggle his feet around.  As a result, his foot was not on the bag by about a toe length when Polanco crossed.  Polanco was safe, the runner on 3rd scored and the Phillies won in walk-off fashion.

I am so grateful to Helton’s toe that I decided to write a short poem about it:

Ode to the Toe
Oh, to the toe
Many thanks must go
Trying to save face
You danced around the base
Giving Polanco plenty of time
To get down the line
The winning run would score
As the crowd began to roar
So thank you little toe
We did so enjoy the show

The toe, however, was not the only star of the game.  The Phillies played with a lot of hustle and enthusiasm, which is something we have not seen too much of this season.

The 9th inning was especially nice to see because of the way the whole situation unfolded.  Back in the top of the inning, the Phillies were in a 5-5 tie game with Jonathan Papelbon on the mound.  As has been the case in non-save situations, Papelbon faltered and gave up a run.

Then down 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th, the first two Phillies batters went down fast.  With 2 outs, it looked like they were doomed.  And judging by the season so far, a comeback with 2 outs in the 9th almost seemed impossible.

But then something wonderful happened.  The Phillies fought back…finally.  This is the moment we have been waiting to witness all year long.

After Ty Wigginton singles, Hunter Pence came up with a clutch double; another rarity this year.  Even more impressive, Wigginton tore up the base paths, as if he had a psychic vision that he could go all the way.  Without hesitation, Wiggy actually scored from first base to tie the game, 6-6.

After Carlos Ruiz was walked intentionally, Shane Victorino found his happy place again and loaded the bases with a single.  Victorino beat out the throw from the short stop by about half of a second.  His hustle kept the inning alive.

And you know the rest; Polanco is safe by a toe!  Phillies win!

If the Phillies can keep the hustle going and sweep the Rockies tonight, there may be hope for this season yet…

Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

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Victorino 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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The Base Path Ball and Chain

In recent days, the Phillies seem to keep finding new ways to lose.  After a 6-game winning streak, the offense went back to sleep and the team has lost 3 in a row.  A 2-1 loss to the Nationals Monday night was the worst of the bunch.

While Kyle Kendrick started out shaky, filling in for the injured Vance Worley, he did settle in and keep the Phillies in the game.  Kendrick allowed only 2 runs over 7 innings, which is more than was probably expected of him.

But again, the offense let Kendrick down and did so in every way they could have imagined.  At the start of the year, no one was hitting.  Now, they are hitting but not scoring.  It actually appears as if Phillies hitters get on base and then are somehow magically chained down to the base path via an evil, invisible force.  Because they just cannot seem to get as far as home plate.

Last night, they left 10 men on base and went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.  All by himself, Hunter Pence left 7 men on base, including a ground out with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the 3rd.

Even Carlos Ruiz, who has been the hottest hitter this year, left 5 men on base.  But the hitting alone was not the only issue.  The Phillies managed to make several base running blunders to add to the chaos.

In the 6th, with no out and runners on 2nd and third, the Phillies again failed to score.  Placido Polanco froze at third on a fly ball to center and did not tag up.  Then in the 9th, John Mayberry Jr. also got chained to 3rd base and failed to score twice, once on what should have been a sac fly and then again on a wild pitch.  He did finally score on a sac fly after that, but then Mike Fontenot found himself super-glued to second and did not advance to 3rd on the play.

With the base path ball and chain in place, the Phillies were “bound” to lose.  Bound, tied and chained; in the world’s oldest profession, that may sound like fun to some of you.  But in the world of baseball, it is not fun at all.  And even worse, we are not getting paid to watch this crap!

Random Updates

– Pitcher Vance Worley has sought out a second opinion on his sore elbow, which appears to have a bone fragment floating around in it.  No word yet on whether he will opt to have surgery.

– Congratulations to Jimmy and Johari Rollins!  Johari gave birth to a baby girl on Sunday night.  She is their first child :O)

– And if you can stomach it, Game 2 with the Nationals starts at 7:05pm tonight.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Polanco’s 2000th Hit Helps Phillies Win

The Phillies Monday night 5-1 win over the Astros was full of hopeful signs.  A little at a time, things are getting better for this team, which is currently still in last place in the NL East.

Starting pitcher Joe Blanton had another great outing, making us all wonder where this guy has been all these years.  He has transformed from Average Joe to “I have an ERA under 3.00” Joe.  Over 7 innings, Blanton allowed only 1 run on 6 hits and a walk.

Things got shaky in the top of the 8th when he allowed that one run via a solo homer and then gave up a single.  Manager Charlie Manuel, not wanting to ruin and otherwise great start, pulled Blanton and let the pen take over.  Blanton was visibly surprised at the move, but ultimately, it was for the best.              

In the meantime, the Phillies offense showed signs of life.  Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry Jr. remain hot at the plate, each collecting 2 hits on the night.  Rookie Freddy Galvis is finally catching on and had 3 hits plus 2 RBI.

But the best moment of the night came in the bottom of the 8th when Placido Polanco added his 2000th career hit in grand fashion.  The 2-run homer was probably the best situation he could have imagined for this milestone.  Congrats to Polly on this historic accomplishment!

And perhaps the back end of the Phillies bullpen is also getting into the swing of things.  Antonio Bastardo, Chad Qualls and Jonathan Papelbon combined to close out the 8th and 9th innings and secure the win.  Bastardo even provided his team with some comic relief as he hopped off the mound with enthusiasm thinking the inning was over when there were actually only 2 outs.  Bastardo grinned as his teammates poked fun at him while he sauntered back to the mound.

It is nice to see this team finally having some fun out there.  Winning certainly helps, but if they can keep their spirits up as well, that may go a long way towards digging their season out of the basement.

Game 2 with the Astros starts early today at 1:05pm.

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Hamels Hammers Nats

The Phillies were in serious need of a win last night after dropping the first two games of the series with the Nationals.  And they had exactly the man on the mound who could get the job done.

Through eight innings, Cole Hamels allowed only one run on five hits.  He also showed his team he wasn’t afraid to get his delicate hands dirty by drilling rookie Bryce Harper with a pitch in the 1st inning.  After the game, Hamels told the media, “I was trying to hit him.”  Hamels was not looking to injure, but the message was sent.

Of course, Harper sent a message of his own by stealing home that same inning, which was the only run the Nats would score.  Then Hamels was hit with a pitch in his first at-bat in retaliation, which Hamels fully expected.

In addition to the hit by pitch, Hamels also earned a walk and a single in the game, doing damage at the plate as well as from the mound.  He could be seen in the dugout between innings laughing and joking with teammates.

The lighter mood finally rubbed off on his teammates who scored 3 runs in the 4th and then exploded with 6 runs in the 9th.  Placido Polanco lead the team with 3 hits and Hunter Pence collected 4 RBI on 2 home runs, finally showing some power.

The Nats “Take back the Park” campaign wound up being a big joke.  Phillies fans still showed up in droves.  At least in the final game, they were rewarded for their efforts.

Another downer for the Nats was watching ex-Phillie Jayson Werth go down with a broken wrist in last night’s game.  It is the same wrist that Werth injured back in 2005 that almost ended his career.  Werth will be out for at least 6 weeks and miss the May 21-23 rematch with the Phils.

The Mets are up next, starting tonight at 7:05pm in Philly.  Welcome home, Phils!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography