Tagged: Placido Polanco

Doc Disassembled: Roller Coaster Game Ends in Disaster

After a 4-2 win over the Braves on Tuesday night, the Phillies felt good entering Wednesday’s game.  The offense was finally starting to score runs and they would have ace pitcher Roy Halladay on the mound.  Even better, they took a 6-0 lead into the 5th inning.

Placido Polanco just kept getting hits and Shane Victorino road his coat tails.  Then Laynce Nix smashed a bases-clearing, 3-run double in the 3rd.  Things were going very, very well.

Then the impossible happened…Halladay got hammered.  If you try saying out loud, “Halladay blew a 6-run lead,” it may actually seem like you are speaking Greek.  Add to that, “Halladay gave up 8 runs in less than two innings,” and you now have the equivalent of an extra-terrestrial language never before spoke on planet earth.

But that is exactly what happened.  The Braves disassembled the Doc like he was a faulty robot that short circuited.  The beating even included a Grand Slam, just to add a little more salt to the wound.  Ouch.

Halladay has not looked like his old self in a few games now and the questions about his health are bound to pile up like a mound of steaming dog poo.  Whatever is going on, it does not smell good.

If you think about the way the Phillies offense has played so far this year, just as unthinkable as Halladay getting hit for 8 runs is this team coming back after those 8 runs.

And yet, the temporary reassembly of this Phillies game began with a 3-run homer off the bat of Carlos Ruiz in the 7th inning.  Chooch was determined to get his pitcher off the hook, because in the 8th inning, he added 3 more runs with a bases-clearing double.  That gave him a total of 7 RBI on the night.  Insane.

With a 12-8 lead in the 8th, the insanity was not yet over.  As hard as Ruiz worked to get the Phillies ahead, the bullpen seemed to work just as hard to blow it.  By the time Jose Contreras was pulled, he had allowed a run and loaded the bases, thanks in part to a huge error by Jimmy Rollins.

Michael Schwimer came in to pitch and walked in a run on 4 pitches.  And of course, the next batter singled in 2 more runs to tie the game…again.  This time, it was 12-12.  But that did not last long.  Schwimer gave up a sac fly and Braves took a 13-12 lead.

You could not have scripted a weirder game.  And I could not have shouted any more cuss words at my TV.  Not because I could not think of any…because I lost my damn voice.  If you ever find yourself asking the question, “How do you blow a huge lead…multiple times?,” just watch a replay of this game.  Disgusting.

Think the Phillies had a second comeback in them?  Well, they did tie it up…again…13-13 in the 9th, sending the game to extra innings.  But relief pitcher Brian Sanches, on the roster for David Herndon who is on the DL, gave up a 2-run homer to Chipper Jones in the 11th.  The walk-off win for the Braves wasted the only solid offensive effort from the Phils all year.  Just sickening.

If you can stomach it, game 3 with the Braves starts early on Thursday at 12:10pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Hit The Road on a Positive Note

In the finale of a 4-game series with the Cubs, the Phillies got off to a hot start with 4 runs in the first inning.  Having already lost 2 games in this series, it was imperative for this team to get going quickly. But after those 4 runs, the offense went to sleep again.

Vance Worley pitched 7 strong innings while the offense napped.  He allowed only 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks.  The Phillies took the 4-1 lead into the 8th inning as the bullpen took over.

Sadly, no lead seems very safe with this team.  Such was the case as Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls combined to blow the 3-run lead.  Bastardo walked his second batter and Qualls gave up a single to score that run and then added a 2-run homer shortly after.

With the game then tied, the Phillies needed that sleeping offense to wake up.  But the way things have been going lately, it seemed unlikely.  It was going to take a small miracle…or at least a clutch hit.

When you find yourself cheering because the first batter of the inning, Juan Pierre, got hit by a pitch, you know things have not been going well.  And when you begin to hope that maybe the pitcher will hit the next 3 batters so you can score a run, things have gone from bad to worse.

But instead of getting hit, the Phillies actually got a few hits.  With 2 outs and Pierre on first, Jimmy Rollins singled to move Pierre to third.  And then the real hero stepped to the plate and proved he has still got the bat to go with his glove.  Placido Polanco smashed a double to left that scored both Pierre and Rollins.  It was the first time this year that the Phillies were able to take a lead in their final at-bat.

The Phillies went on to a 6-4 victory, thanks to Polly’s timely hit.  Even better, it does appear that Polanco is healthy again after 2 hernia issues the previous year.

Going back on the road against the Braves and Nationals, who are leading the division, it was important to start on a positive note.  With any luck, the Phillies may be able to start digging themselves out of this hole and April’s losing record.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Phillies Offense Finally on a Roll…

In the last two games, the Phillies have scored a total of 15 runs.  Since the start of the season, it did not look like that sort of run production was ever going to happen.  But Wednesday’s 7-2 win over the Diamondbacks may actually signal the awakening of this offense.

Cole Hamels certainly helped the situation with another great start, putting the Phillies in position to win.  Through 8 strong innings, Hamels allowed only 2 runs on 4 hits and struck out 7 batters.  He also lit things up at the plate with a 2-run single in the 6th inning.

This game was a real team effort, with everyone in the line-up contributing, even if it was just a sacrifice to move runners.  The biggest stand-out though was Placido Polanco who looked like the player of old.  He was on base after every at bat with 3 hits, 2 walks and an RBI.

Carlos Ruiz also had a 3-hit game and Hunter Pence collected 2 hits.  Now if the Phillies can just get Jimmy Rollins going, this might actually be a descent line-up again.

Thursday is an off-day with a 4-game home series beginning with the Cubs on Friday.  You know what the cure for a suffering offense is?  That’s right…the Cubs.  Cross your fingers…

Injury Updates:

As you may have heard, relief pitcher Mike Stutes is on the DL.  He has not looked the like the vibrant pitcher he was since about the final month of last season.  While this is concerning, his replacement, Michael Schwimer looked very sharp in Wednesday’s win.

As for Ryan Howard, he is still taking it easy.  But his wound is finally healing which means he may be able to start real baseball activity within the next week.

And my favorite topic of discussion, Chase Utley: Reportedly, Utley is feeling no knee pain while batting and some pain while fielding.  He took batting practice in Arizona with the team and many were encouraged by his swing.  However, here is a word of caution about all the optimism…

As a person with chronic knee issues, worse that what Utley has, I can tell you this; I also feel no pain while swinging a bat…ok, in my knees at least ;o)  The joint rotation does not bother me.  However, running and anything involving impact, like chasing ground balls, is a whole other story.

I have not been able to play serious baseball since I was 16 years old after blowing out both my knees.  But it was not because I could not still hit; it was because I could not run.  All these years later, I can still hit, but I still cannot run and never will.  Are you following my thought process here?

Granted, I have worse issues that Utley.  But my point is, yes, he looks good hitting.  But the real test will be impact movements, like running.  The fact that Utley still has some pain while fielding is not a good sign.  Running is generally more strenuous than fielding due to the repetition of the impact on the knees.  So if it is hard to field, running will only make that worse.

I am a huge Chase Utley fan and I would love nothing more than to see him get better and back to his old self.  However, all of this makes me very nervous.  If he comes back too early, he can do more damage to his knees.  But we all want him to come back sooner than later and I am sure he does as well.

So be optimistic; but be cautiously optimistic.

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Cain vs. Unable: A Total Waste of Lee’s Performance

The Phillies awful offense was unable to scratch out a single run for their pitcher who battled through 10 innings of work against the GiantsCliff Lee became the first pitcher to go 10 shutout innings in a losing game since Brett Saberhagen of the Mets lost to San Diego in 1994.  I am pretty sure this is not a record he was interested in setting.

But against Giant’s pitcher Matt Cain, the Phillies offense seemed uninterested in hitting.  They managed just 4 hits.  They had a shot to score in the 10th after Carlos Ruiz doubled and was sent to third with a sacrifice bunt by Freddy Galvis.   But Jim Thome struck out and John Mayberry Jr. grounded out.

Lee was finally pulled after 10 innings and Antonio Bastardo took over in the 11th.  After Bastardo coaxed what should have been a double play ball out of Brandon Belt, Ty Wiggington at 3rd fumbled and everyone was safe.  Then Melky Cabrera did what the Phillies could not all series long; take advantage of a mistake.  His single scored the only run in the game for a Giants win.

You cannot blame Wiggington for the loss, although he did not help.  But why was Placido Polanco not put in for defense this late in a game where the starting pitcher put in such an amazing effort?  And where were the bats?  Lee deserved a better effort than this.

The Phillies have now lost 2 straight series and continue to dig themselves a huge hole early in the season.  As for the National League East, the Phils are dead last.  Looks like it is going to be a long season…

 

 

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Halladay Tames the Giants

In the recent past, Roy Halladay has not had a lot of luck against the Giants.  And with 2 Cy-Young winners facing off, Monday night’s game was set-up to be a real battle.  It was also a nice opportunity for me to repost one of my favorite photoshop experiments.  Meet Darth Vader (Lincecum) & Luke Skywalker (Halladay).  Can you guess who the evil emperor is?

Back to the game…the battle ended really before it began as a struggling Tim Lincecum got torched by the Phils in the first inning to the tune of 4 runs.  You can usually assume a 4-run lead is safe with Halladay on the mound.  Actually, I do not believe Halladay has ever lost a game when his team scores 4 in the first.

This would be no different.  Halladay had what has become a traditional hiccup in the 1st inning, allowing a run on 2 hits, 2 walks and a sac fly.  But after that, he was mostly on point.

And seeing his offense get him some early runs had to help.  Placido Polanco started off the game with a double to right.  Jimmy Rollins walked and then 3 consecutive hits, including another double from Laynce Nix rocked the Giants early.

Freddy Galvis hit a double in the 4th as well, giving the Phillies 3 extra base hits in the game, which have been very hard to come by so far this year.  And of course, not only was Halladay brilliant on the mound, he also collected his first RBI of the season in that same inning with a single to score Galvis.

Tonight Joe Blanton will pitch against Madison Bumgarner and his brand-spanking new five-year, $35 million contract extension.  Bumgarner is only 22 years old.  And yes, only the Giants would sign a 22-year old to that sort of deal.  That is a lot of pressure for a young kid to live up to.  I wish him luck, except when he faces the Phillies, of course ;o)   Game time is 10:15pm.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Welcome Back, Phillies Offense

It was so nice of the Phillies offense to stop by Citizens Bank Park for a visit on Wednesday night.  I do hope they stay awhile.

After scoring only 8 runs in their first 4 games of the season combined, it was very encouraging to see the Phils pick up 7 more last night.  And there is never a better time to start swinging the bats than when Roy Halladay is on the mound.

Through 7 innings, the Doc allowed just one run in his typical, filet-the-fish style against the MarlinsChad Qualls and Mike Stutes  finished off the win for Halladay in the 8th and 9th.

But this is what we expect from Halladay.  What we have not been able to anticipate, going all the way back to last season, is whether or not the Phillies offense would decide to show up.  But in the 3rd inning, the Phils finally found a pitcher they could hit.  Oddly enough, that wound up being Marlins ace Josh Johnson.

The 11 hits Johnson suffered from the Phillies was a career high.  5 Phillies had multi-hits game with Hunter Pence leading the pack with 3 hits and an RBI.  But the big RBI star of the night was a rookie.  With only the second hit of his career, and to the chants of “Freddy!  Freddy!” from the crowd, Freddy Galvis smashed a 2-run double.

Galvis’ first career hit this past Monday was also a 2-run double.  So he is now 2-for-2 in 2 run, 2 base hits.  If the only hits he gets all year are 2-run doubles, that would be ok by me…as long as he does it at least once a game, of course ;o)

The big question now is, will the Phillies offense return again tonight against Mark Buehrle or was this one game just a freak accident?  Game time is 7:05pm.

 

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

The Phillies 2012 Roster is Announced

The Phillies have announced their Opening Day roster, which includes 12 pitchers, two catchers, six infielders and five outfielders:

Pitchers (starters in BOLD): Right-handers Joe Blanton, Roy Halladay, David Herndon, Kyle Kendrick, Jonathan Papelbon, Chad Qualls, Michael Stutes and Vance Worley, and left-handers Antonio Bastardo, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Joe Savery.

Catchers: Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider.

Infielders: Freddy Galvis, Pete Orr, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Jim Thome and Ty Wigginton.

Outfielders: John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, Hunter Pence, Juan Pierre and Shane Victorino.

The only surprise here is probably Joe Savery.  The shock is not really that he made the team after a very sold spring, but that he made it to the majors at all after a rollercoaster minor league career.  Savery, a former first-round draft pick, looked like his pitching career was over before it started as his ERA ballooned to well over 4.00 in 2008 and went steadily downhill through 2010.

That offseason, Savery was converted to a hitter instead where he initially had amazing success.  Then after 9 months of not tossing a pitch, Savery was promoted to AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley where they decided he should become a relief pitcher.

No one knows how it happened or why, but suddenly, Savery could pitch again.  He finished 2011 in the minors with a 1.50 ERA in 25 games as a reliever.  And this spring, Savery pitched well enough to earn a roster spot.  The only question now is, how long will this run last once players start coming off the DL?  It appears that will up to Savery.  Best of luck to him!

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography