Tagged: Red Sox

Phillies Add More Pitching & Hamels Gets an Unpleasant Surprise

The Phillies have added three right handed pitchers;  Juan Cruz, Aaron Cook and Rodrigo Lopez.  They have each been asked to attend Spring Training as non-roster invitees on minor league contracts.

You may remember Lopez (photo to the right); he started 5 games for the Phillies in 2009.  He spent the last 2 years with the Cubs and in the minors.  Lopez, 37, has a career 4.82 ERA in the majors and compiled a 5.28 ERA in the minors last year over 18 games.

Cook and Cruz are both 34 years old.  Cook posted a 5.65 ERA in 18 starts with the Red Sox last year and will get $1.625 million if he makes the roster.  Cruz was with the Pirates in 2012 and went 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 43 games.

The combined age of all three pitchers is 105.  Clearly, these signings were not meant to help the team get any younger.  These are just more spare parts in case Cole Hamels breaks a finger nail or Roy Halladay’s arm falls off.

Hamels is already having a rough off-season.  In October, the star pitcher apparently had a sore shoulder, which the Phillies have since downplayed as being nothing serious.

And more recently, Hamels found out that the Philadelphia school system flat out lied to him in regards to donations he and his wife made to 3 Philly schools that are now slated for closure.  They were assured these schools would remain open.  The Hamels Foundation is now trying to save those schools so that the playgrounds and library they helped build do not get torn down and turned into apartment complexes or the like.

At least Spring Training is almost here…26 days to go!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

An UnbeLEEvable Let Down

So this is what I get for being optimistic…a clunker from Cliff Lee.  Ugh.  The Phillies lost the 3-game series to the Red Sox today with a 5-1 loss.  Lee still does not have a win on the season, although the previous losses were not his fault.

The offense kept letting Lee down.  Today, it was Lee’s turn :O(  The first batter he faced smacked a home run to center, which was not a good omen.  Through 7 innings, Lee surrendered 5 runs, all of which came in the first 3 innings.  Lee found his groove after that, but it was too late.

The offense simply stunk again.  Lee created the most excitement at the plate with a double in the 3rd.  But while there was plenty of action at second base, the Phillies could not seem to find home plate.

Hunter Pence had two hits in the game and missed what may have been a third hit except that it was lined sharply to first.  I do not know why the Red Sox were belly aching about having less defense with David Ortiz at first base due to National League rules, because Big Papi snagged every ball that came his way.  He was quite annoying.

But Big Papi also had a little fun with rookie Freddy Galvis when they met at first base.  Galvis had one hit in the game and played amazing defense, like usual.  And now, he has been officially baptized in the majors as Ortiz appeared to razz him a bit.  Although the look on Galvis’ face in the photo to the far right below says about all you need to know about how this game went…

But do you want to know what the real problem with the Phillies offense is?  For starters, Jimmy Rollins has been quietly having an awful year.  He is batting .229.  Shane Victorino is not far off with a .253 average.  Essentially, all of the regular starters (meaning, those not on the DL) are underperforming while the “bench” guys or secondary starters are doing most of the damage.

Oh, and the other issue.  A photo is worth a thousand words (see photo to the right)…need I say more?

In the “good news” column, Jake Diekman appears to be back on track after one bad outing.  He was really sharp as he struck out the side in the 8th inning.

The Phillies squeaked out one run in the bottom of the 8th, but left the bases loaded…again.  They seem to be allergic to home plate.  Benadryl, anyone?  Ah-chooo!

And just in time, when the offense has begun to stink again, here come the Nationals…Game 1 is Monday night at 7:05pm.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Blanton Bombs Against Red Sox

Now that Phillies fans have all gotten used to seeing Joe Blanton in top form, I suppose he was due to throw a clunker.  Blanton had only given up 2 home runs all year, but last night, he gave up 4 in just one game against the Red Sox.

By the middle of the 4th inning, the score was 5-1 and Blanton had also already made two huge fielding errors in the game.  Clearly, this was not his night.  So when Pete Orr was on deck in the bottom of the 4th to hit for Blanton, I thought, great idea!  Let’s get some more runs and let the pen have a shot at shutting down the Sox.

Imagine my dismay when, after Freddy Galvis smacked a 2-run homer, Orr was called back to the dugout and Blanton went out to hit!  Really?  Those 2 runs meant Blanton would suddenly snap out of his funk?  I think not…

And sadly, I was correct.  I get that manager Charlie Manuel did want to rely on what has been an unreliable bullpen.  But if there was ever a time to give them a shot to redeem themselves, this was it.  Blanton looked awful out there and the insanity continued in the 5th inning.

Only after allowing 3 more hits, including a 2-run homer, was Blanton finally pulled from the game, having recorded only 1 out in the inning.  Buried in a 7-4 hole, the bullpen did actually get the job done after that, not allowing another run to score.  But by that time, the damage was done and the Phillies scored only one more run.

The offense had changes, but luck did not go their way.  Carlos Ruiz, the teams hottest hitter, was robbed of what should have been a 2-run double in the 7th by Ryan Sweeney, who suddenly grew wings, flew through the air and snagged Ruiz’s hit out of the air.  It was an amazing play.

In the 9th, Ruiz was robbed again as he smoked a ball…unfortunately, it went right to the shortstop and was caught.  The ball was hit so hard that Hunter Pence had no chance to get back to first and was doubled up.  Bad luck, indeed…

Later, Shane Victorino popped out on the first pitch he saw with the bases loaded in the 8th.  And that was the end of the threat as the Phillies went on to lose by a score of 7-5.

There were some bright spots, like Galvis’ homer, making it 2 games in a row with a bomb.  And John Mayberry Jr. reached base all 5 times he stepped to the plate for the first time in his career.  Hector Luna also had a great night with 3 hits and an RBI.

But mostly, the good news is that the Phillies never gave up, even when it looked like the game was out of reach.  This is something that we have all been waiting for this season…a little extra fight even when they are down.

They have another shot at the Sox today.  If they win, the Phils will take the series.  Cliff Lee is pitching and I will return with photos!  Game time is 1:35pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Friday Night Smackdown: Philadelphia 2, Boston 0

Both the Red Sox and the Celtics were in town Friday night, which is something that does not happen very often.  Also a rare occurrence, both home teams came out on top…the Phillies beat the Sox, 6-4 and the 76ers took down the Celtics, 92-83 in playoff action.  The stars aligned in Philly for what was a special night.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had a great view of the game from the Hall of Fame club section as he served his one day suspension for a heated argument with umpire Bob Davidson on Tuesday.  Davidson was also suspended one game, even though he is the one who instigated the entire incident.  I felt like he should have gotten more…but hey, MLB suspending an umpire publically?  That is also something you do not see every day so we’ll take it.

An even bigger story last night was closer Jonathan Papelbon, who was looking forward to facing his old team.  He had many reason to be fired up, including the fact that after last season, the Red Sox did not even bother to offer him a contract.  But whether or not Papelbon was going to get a shot at revenge would depend on the rest of the team…

Cole Hamels did his part, winning 6 straight starts in games in which he earned a decision for the first time in his career.  He allowed 3 runs over 7 innings last night while striking out 9 batters.

Meanwhile, the Carlos Ruiz ridiculous hit parade continued with 2 more hits, 2 more RBI, another stolen base and a run scored in the game.  Hunter Pence is reaping the rewards of Chooch’s success; batting in front of Ruiz, Pence is getting better pitches to hit.  Pence homered in the game and had 2 hits total.  Freddy Galvis and John Mayberry Jr. each also had a hit and an RBI.

Chad Qualls came out of the pen for the 8th and right away cut the Phillies lead to 5-4 as he gave up a homer.  Luckily, the Galvis home run in the bottom of the inning gave Papelbon some breathing room in the 9th.

Then, as if it was scripted, Papelbon got his wish; a 2-run lead and a save situation in the 9th against his former team.  And just like a storybook ending, Papelbon got the save.  But as he noted after the game, he will got gloat until the Phillies win the 3-game series.

Game 2 starts a little late tonight at 7:15pm as Pat Burrell will retire before the game on a 1-day contract with the Phillies.  If you had not heard, a group of comedians (www.birdtext.com) recently made a video spoof which pokes fun at Burrell’s reputation with the ladies.  According to the model who stars in the video, Burrell saw the video and liked it so much, he invited them all to tonight’s game and even requested the tee-shirts they are selling to promote the video.  You can hear her interview on the Preston and Steve show here or at www.birdtext.com .

You have to see this….it is hysterical:

So remember, don’t let your mom, wife, sister, girlfriend or whoever get “Burrelled” tonight ;o)

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

5 in a Row!

Winning 5 games in a row seemed an impossible task for the Phillies until now.  Their longest win streak of the season previous to this one was only 2 games.  They have also gone above the .500 mark for the first time since the first game of the year.

Even having Roy Halladay on the mound has been no guarantee of a win this year as the offense has underperformed.  Against the Cubs on Thursday night, Halladay finally got some run support and had a good game himself as well.

Over 8 innings, Halladay allowed 3 runs, 2 of which were solo homers.  But he was even hotter at the plate, going 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored.  Only 3 other Phillies had multi-hit nights,

One of those guys was Halladay’s battery mate, Carlos Ruiz.  To say Ruiz is on fire right now is an understatement.  He is scorching every pitch that comes his way.  In this game, Ruiz went 4 for 5 with 3 RBI and he is now hitting .363.  He even stole a base.  Wow.

Juan Pierre continues to nip at Ruiz’s heels with a .343 average and 2 more hits in last night’s game.  Pierre also made several outstanding grabs in left field.

But while the offense was cooking and it looked like this game might be a laugher, the all too familiar bullpen monster reared its ugly head again.  With an 8-3 lead in the 9th, we saw the other side of rookie Jake Diekman.  Two games ago, he was spectacular in his major league debut.  But last night, he was the exact opposite…awful.

Diekman walked 2 batters, hit a third batter and then gave up a bases-clearing double.  The score narrowed to 8-6 with 2 outs and Jonathan Papelbon had to be brought in to close the game.  He allowed an RBI single to the first batter he faced, making the total line for Diekman 4 runs in 2/3 of an inning.  Yikes!

Papelbon did finally get the job done, but the final score was a frighteningly close 8-7.  And the “other” side of Diekman was not something we would ever like to see again.

So the Phillies are heading home for a 3-game interleague series with the Red Sox.  Game 1 starts at 7:05pm tonight.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Reaction to Phillies Signing of Jonathan Papelbon

I have had a few days to let the Jonathan Papelbon signing sink in now and I am still not sure what to think.  Papelbon is a proven closer and a 4-time All-Star.  In 2011, he saved 31 out of 34 games for the Red Sox and posted a 2.94 ERA.

Madson byebyeABoth Papelbon and Ryan Madson are the same age and have similar stats with the big difference being experience as a closer.  Papelbon has six years experience, Madson has just over a year all together.

Rumor has it that Madson was willing to take a 4-year, $44 million deal.  The Phillies signed Papelbon for  4-years and $50 million.  Madson would have been cheaper, theoretically, but Paplebon has the edge in experience.

My only concern is this: Madson seems to be on an up-swing with his stats improving over the past 3-years as he worked into the closer role.  On the other hand, Papelbon had a horrid 2010 season, improving in 2011, but still nowhere near his All-Star numbers from 2006-2009.  To me, this seems like a slight downward trend.

Then again, perhaps a change of scenery and removal from a Red Sox team that just had several surprisingly bad years will be the key to Papelbon’s return to form.

I realize I sound schizophrenic but I am just caught in between here.  This move to me is not good or bad…yet.  If Madson signs for a lot less than $50 million, this move may not look good.  Otherwise, only time will tell.

This $50 million deal also brings up a few other questions.  Will the Phillies have enough cash left to re-sign Jimmy Rollins?  Can they still work out a deal for a role player like Michael Cuddyer?  Once again, the Phillies raised ticket prices for the upcoming season so clearly, money is on their minds.

By the way, my favorite part of that article about the tickets is when John Weber, vice president of sales, says, “we will work with anyone who wants to move to another seating area.”  Really?  Because I tried that last year and was basically laughed at by a sales rep who told me there was almost no chance of a different seat opening up.  Anyone else had the same experience?

Back to the topic of closer, I would like to know what everyone else thinks of the move.  Leave your thoughts in the comment section.

And best of luck to Madson; he will be missed.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Make History With 102 Wins

The Phillies ended the 2011 regular season with 102 wins after a 13 inning  4-3 victory over the Braves.  The 3-game sweep knocked the Braves out of the playoffs and also set a new record for the Phillies.  The franchise mark of 101 wins in a season has been surpassed, making this 2011 team statistically the best in Phillies history.

It also made Charlie Manuel the best manager in Phillies history.  His 646th win with the team surpassed the previous record of 656 held by Gene Mauch.

And as usual, the Phillies fought for their manager until the very end.  The game lasted 4 1/2 hours and 13 innings with 17 total pitchers used between the two teams.  The pitching was very good all around for both and hits were hard to come by; 11 for the Phils and 10 for the Braves.

In the 13th, Hunter Pence finally broke up the stalemate, knocking in the winning run with an RBI-single.  He had two hits in the game, as did Chase Utley, Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard.

By beating the Braves, the Phillies basically chose their own opponent.  The win handed the Wild Card spot to the Cardinals.  The Phillies struggled against the Cards in the regular season, winning only 3 games out of 9.  But coming off the momentum of this 3-game sweep and making Phillies history, the team should be ready to face the Cards again.

In the American League, the Red Sox are out, having lost what was previously and 8.5 game lead in the Wild Card race.  As they crashed and burned against the lowly Orioles again, the Tampa Bay Rays climbed out of a 7-0 hole to beat the Yankees and take the Wild Card spot.

So here is how the NLDS and ALDS line-up:

  • Phillies vs. Cardinals
  • Brewers vs. Diamondbacks
  • Yankees vs. Tigers
  • Rangers vs. Rays

The first game for the Phillies is this Saturday; no time has been announced yet.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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