On the verge of being swept in Boston, the Phillies would rely today on the arm of Cole Hamels. Much improved since last season, Hamels did not let his team down. Hamels pitched 7 strong innings against the Red Sox allowing just one run on 5 hits and 2 walks. Normally, Hamels fastball clocks in around 88-92mph but today, he was topping out at 96mph. The extra kick helped and he left the mound with his team in a good position to win the game.
But the Phillies offense would have to face knuckleballer Tim Wakefield again, who beat them up badly in Philly last month. Wakefield is an otherwise mediocre pitcher, but he certainly has the Phillies number. In the first inning, the Phils offensive woes continued as they loaded the bases with no outs but did not score. Ryan Howard hit a fly ball but Shane Victorino decided it was too close to tag and stayed at third. Then Jayson Werth hit into a double play to end the threat. Werth would later drop a fly ball in the outfield, adding to his woes.
In the 4th inning though, it looked like the Phils may have figured Wakefield out. They scored 4 runs on 2 doubles, 2 singles and a Raul Ibanez homer. But again, another double play, this time from Carlos Ruiz, ended the inning. The Phillies have certainly figured out how to shoot themselves in the foot recently.
Lucky for them, Hamels was spectacular and they went into the 8th inning with a 4-1 lead. Jose Contreras held the Sox down in the 8th, despite allowing 2 singles. In the 9th, Werth redeemed himself by walking and then stealing 2 bases. A sac fly from Ben Francisco scored Werth and gave the Phils a 5-1 lead.
But in their usual fashion, the Phillies made the 9th inning an adventure in a game they desperately needed to win. JC Romero gave up a double and later, Ruiz let a pitch sail past him to score a run for the Sox. Now in a save situation, Brad Lidge was brought in to finish the job. Lidge gave everyone a heart attack when he allowed another run, but did finally get out of the jam and save the game. The Phillies win, 5-3.
While the win today is a huge relief for the fast falling Phils, what ails them is clearly not past. The offense still sputtered in many situations where they should have scored and the bullpen began to look shaky again. Monday will be an off-day while the Phillies try to screw their heads on right before a 3-game series with their World Series rivals, the New York Yankees. Otherwise, the Yanks are going to feast on the failing Phils. Cross your fingers…
Vote up to 25 times per day, per email address.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Is it bad luck or bad baseball? It looked like luck may have been in the Phillies favor when Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was sent to the DL minutes before the game started today. Dice-K beat up the Phillies in their last meeting, so this must be good news. Scott Atchison, a career minor leaguer who also played in Japan, made his first career major league start in place of Dice-K. Again, this seemed like good news, right?
Wrong. Because absolutely nothing has gone well for the Phillies lately, and this game would be no different. Joe Blanton has been as bad as he could be since coming off the DL in early May. By the 2nd inning of this game, Blanton had given up 34 runs, 11 homers and 11 walks in 45 innings pitched this year.
And the damage did not end there…Blanton allowed 9 runs total, matching Jamie Moyer yesterday, on 13 hits and a walk by the time he was done, after 4 pathetic innings. His ERA is now 7.28.
Blanton loaded the bases in the 2nd inning, right after the offense scored two runs for him. He then threw ONE pitch to rookie, Daniel Nava, who in his first major league at-bat, hit a grand slam! Unbelievable. It looked like the Phillies had morphed into a black cat with a #13 tattoo, under a black cloud standing on top of a broken mirror, sprinkled with spilled salt. But was that bad luck or just Joe Blah-anton?
Blanton needs to go. Obviously, no one will want him with his gigantic 7.28 ERA and gigantic salary, so what are the options? Put him back on the DL or send him to the minors. Brett Myers did this voluntarily back in 2008 and came back to help them win the World Series. The Phillies can bring back Nelson Figueroa or someone else from the minors. I would rather see a rookie get raked for 9 runs than a veteran who is not living up to his end of the deal. How about Nate Bump? He has some experience and was recently clocked at 103mph. Go get him!
The Phillies have made a lot of mistakes this year and last, many of which have been overshadowed by the acquisition of Roy Halladay. Letting Myers go was clearly an error in judgment. I said it before, but because most people have a personal dislike of Myers, most were happy to see him go. For the Astros this year, Myers has not allowed more than 4 runs in any game, has not pitched fewer than 6 innings in any game and his ERA is a very respectable 3.18.
And do not even get me started on Cliff Lee. Because the Mariners are not doing well, Lee will likely be traded before the deadline and it looks like he may wind up in the NL East. Imagine this: Lee goes to Mets or the Braves who make the playoffs, leaving the Phillies in the dust. You want to throw up right now, don’t you?
And remember signing a 36 year-old Raul Ibanez, now 38, to a 3-year contract? It looked like a good idea for ½ a year in 2009; now, not so much. Raul, we still love ya, but things are not going well. Ibanez is hitting .247 and is getting slower in the outfield.
The Phillies also extended Blanton’s contract this off-season, giving him 3 more years and $24 million dollars. They noted his “consistency,” which I have never agreed with, and his ability to pitch many innings as reasons for the extension. Well, all those innings have taken their toll as evidenced by Blanton’s current ERA plus the pre-season injury and DL stint.
By the way, the Phillies offense died after Blanton dug a huge hole for them. The managed only 7 hits and 3 of those came from back-up catcher Brian Schneider. The Phillies went on to lose the game by a score of 2-10.
I could go on, but I think that is enough for one day. The Phillies have now slid from 1st place to 3rd place in the NL East and if the Marlins keep winning, they will be in 4th place shortly. I mentioned holding off on hitting the panic button last week; well, it is now time. Let the panic begin. This past month may be a foretelling of the horror to come.
Photoshopping by Jenn
Fenway Park in Boston is endearingly referred to as the Green Monster. The Phillies went to Boston today and shortly thereafter, pitcher Jamie Moyer was served up on a silver platter for appetizer, entrée and dessert as a human sacrifice to the Green Monster. The Phillies lost 12-2 to the Red Sox; it was a complete and utter annihilation.
Moyer gave up 5 runs in the first inning and followed that with 4 more in the 2nd without recording an out. Moyer was pulled and left the game with an official record of 1 inning pitched, 9 runs and 9 hits. That calculates to an ERA of 81.00 for the game. Luckily, when it is rolled into the rest of his stats for the year, it is a slightly less frightening 5.03 ERA.
The offense, again, did themselves no favors. They scored only 2 runs and the usual problems, like grounding into double plays with the bases loaded, prevailed again. By the 4th inning, the Phils basically threw in the towel and sat stars Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino in favor of bench players, giving them some playing time.
The other big loser in the game besides the Phillies was Bill Hall of the Red Sox. While the rest of his team pounded Phillies pitching mercilessly, poor Hall was the only starter who went hitless. I actually felt bad for the guy. Maybe he is secretly a Phillies fan? Nah….
Still looking for that elusive silver lining? Ok, well the recently super-bad Jayson Werth finally started hitting again. He went 3 for 4 at the plate, although he still managed to leave 3 men on base. But a good day for Werth will hopefully get him back on track.
As for the rest of the team, I personally think they all need either a butt-kicking or a group hug. The fact that I cannot decide which would be more helpful is a testament to the complete horror of the past month in Phillies baseball. Ok, let us count today as the butt-kicking then, just to be more upbeat about it.
However, the Phillies are in big, big trouble. Fans are all familiar with the Phillies Interleague play follies of years past and this year has begun no differently. If they continue on this path, they may dig a hole too deep to climb out of. Start praying that tomorrow will be a better day. Joe Blanton will pitch and game time is 4:10pm.
Moyer photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Odds were good that the Phillies would have to bust out of this major slump at some point. Today against the Marlins, they finally scored for the first time since the 9th inning against the Red Sox on Sunday…5 days ago. In the 4th inning against the Fish, a Ryan Howard single followed by a Raul Ibanez triple ended the drought. Whew!
Of course, 3 strike-outs followed the Ibanez RBI, leaving him stranded on 3rd, making fans wonder if the one run was a fluke. But the offense kept creeping back to life, scoring one run each in the 5th and 7th innings. Chase Utley manufactured a run by walking, then stealing 2nd base, allowing him to score on another Howard single. Utley later grounded out to score a runner from 3rd base.
Manager Charlie Manuel moved the line-up around a bit, giving Jayson Werth and Placido Polanco the day off. Ross Gload and Greg Dobbs filled in; Gload went 1 for 4 and Dobbs was hitless. Polanco is still having elbow issues after being hit with a pitch at the start of the season. Hopefully, a little rest will get him back into the lineup.
As for starter Kyle Kendrick, he pitched very well. His fielding, however, was not great and cost him the only 2 runs he allowed. With 2 outs and 2 men on in the 3rd, Hanley Ramirez hit an easy ground ball to Kendrick who drilled the ball into the ground trying to throw to first. Just as it looked like he was out of the inning, 2 runs crossed the plate on the error.
Both runs were unearned and Kendrick wound up going 6 innings without additional incident. Overall, it was a quality start. Chad Durbin and Danys Baez got through the next two innings fairly easily. Jose Contreras came in for the 9th and got into trouble, allowing back-to-back singles with one out. He struck out Cody Ross next and then Ronnie Paulino popped up to end the game.
So, with a little help, Kendrick beats the Fish and Contreras collected the save. And the Phillies finally put an end to the 5-game losing streak. Can I get one more big SIGH of relief….whew! Game 2 in Miami is tomorrow at 7:10pm with Roy Halladay on the mound.
And do not forget to keep VOTING for your Phillies All-Stars! Vote up to 25 times per day, per email address.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
With a 3-8 loss to the Red Sox, it was a bad day all around for Phillies fans. First, two of the stars from the movie “The Hangover” were supposed to throw out first pitches, but I guess it got bumped due to time constraints after the rain clean-up and tarp removal. And I really, really wanted a picture of Bradley Cooper. A sad day for women everywhere…
Next, the curse of the Phillies and Interleague play continued… Roy Halladay had a very, very bad day. Worries about his being overworked in his last outing, throwing 132 pitches, are beginning to look justified. Todd Zolecki reported that due to the increased work load, Halladay actually adjusted his routine between starts. Anytime a pitcher is thrown off his usual routine, something is wrong.
And that something is that Halladay is being used and abused and it finally caught up to him. He had given up just 1 run going into the 4th inning but that is where the game took a serious turn for the worse. With the bases loaded and one out, Greg Dobbs missed a ball that looked like a routine double play ball. Instead, it trickled into the outfield and 2 runs scored.
Knowing that would have gotten him out of the jam, Halladay was visibly upset and had to be calmed by pitching coach, Rich Dubee. It all went downhill from there. Halladay ended the game with 7 runs, 6 of them earned, in just 5 2/3 innings. The defense did not help him out as witnessed by the Dobbs blunder and check out this miss, which Shane Victorino almost caught:
By the way, this begs the question, why was Dobbs playing third with a sinker ball pitcher on the mound? There is way too much action at 3rd in this situation and, as a bench player, Dobbs does not get much practice. Placido Polanco could have taken a day off when either Joe Blanton or Cole Hamels were going to pitch. The move made no sense and it cost the Phillies.
What also cost them was the lack of offense…again. The Sox pitcher, Tim Wakefield, had not thrown a shut-out since 1997. But today, it looked like it may happen as he went 8 scoreless innings. The Phillies made this 43-year old pitcher look like a spring chicken.
Once Wakefield was pulled, the Phillies managed to squeak out 3 runs in the 9th with a Ross Gload 2-run homer and doubles from Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez. Here are a few more game shots:
Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game which includes these shots and more.
So the Phillies will be holding their annual Phillies Phestival tomorrow and I will report back on those events sometime on Tuesday. After the Phestival, they hit the road and start a series with the Mets at 7:10pm on Tuesday night.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Many Phillies fans are left wondering today where our team has gone. Because the one hit wonders from Saturday night’s loss to the Red Sox must be imposters. Seriously? ONE hit all game? Wow. Who took my Phillies, locked them in a closet and put these schmoe’s on the field? I am not amused.
But the bad day for the Phillies batters had much to do with both the Red Sox defense and the pitching performance of Daisuke Matsuzaka (say that 5 times fast). He was pitching a no-hitter through 7 1/3 innings until Juan Castro, our hero, hit a bloop single into no-man’s land. Many Phillies, like Jayson Werth, hit the ball hard but they kept hitting right at the Sox fielders. Matsuzaka caught a Werth liner that whizzed right at him basically in self-defense.
As for the Phillies pitching, Kyle Kendrick lasted only 4 2/3 innings, allowing 5 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks. The only Phillies pitcher to have gone less than 5 innings this year was…well, actually, it was Kendrick. So, at least he sucks on a consistent basis. There is comfort in that….not.
Jimmy Rollins was put back on the DL on Saturday, which is why Castro was in the game to save them from the embarrassment of a no-hitter. J-Roll has a Grade 1 strain in the same calf that he was on the DL for most of the season so far. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. says it is not as serious as the first one, but I guess we won’t know until the 15 days is up.
So the Phillies still have a shot to win the series with Roy Halladay on the mound today. Game time is 1:35pm; I will be there and hopefully, I can get some photos before the rain comes down. Check back for that later.
Utley photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In the first Interleague game of 2010, Cole Hamels pitched a gem. In 7 innings, Hamels allowed just one run on 3 hits and a walk while striking out 8 batters. Hamels looked sharp against the Red Sox and if he can keep up this pace, he may put together a solid season.
Another first for 2010 was the Phillies putting their usual line-up on the field at a home game. Jimmy Rollins came off the DL on Monday and today, finally landed in his usual lead-off spot.
But in the 6th inning, Rollins led off with a single and limped to first base. Rollins just came off the DL with a calf strain and reports are that he now has a “mild” calf strain in the same leg.
Oh please, say it ain’t so…J-Roll has given the Phillies a much needed boost with a 3-run homer yesterday and a hit and a walk today. To lose him again would be a serious punch in the gut. When Rollins’ biggest supporter, J-Roll Smurf heard the news, he began to wonder if he had fallen down a rabbit hole and gone tripping on some funky shrooms. Because seriously, this cannot be happening. And if it is, perhaps J-Roll Smurf can just pretend it is not while rolling around in his little garden of happiness.
Before that 6th inning, things looked very good for the Phillies. Ryan Howard smacked a homer in the 4th to tie the game and Jayson Werth went even deeper in the 5th, hitting a 2-run shot into the second deck of left field. Shane Victorino had an RBI single in the 4th and also walked twice. Even Hamels had a hit in the game, just to round out his great pitching performance.
But then in the 9th, the hallucinations returned as pitcher Danys Baez allowed a single and a walk. JC Romero hit the next batter to load the bases and bring Big Papi, David Ortiz, to the plate with a chance to tie the game. We must really be tripping now. By the way, the Urban Dictionary lists one definition for “tripping” as “A psychological phenomenon in which a person can feel an even higher-than-normal state of emotion due to some repeated external stimulus.”
In this case, the repeated external stimulus is the Phillies bullpen, which continues to induce a heart attack-like state among fans watching them pitch. But Romero had the remedy, as he induced a fly ball from Ortiz to end the game with a 5-1 win for the Phillies.
The remedy for Rollins however, still remains elusive. Currently, he is listed as “day-to-day,” but with the exact same injury repeated, which took him more than a month to recover from, I would expect that good news is not on the horizon. Then again, if they can find some magic mushrooms that hold the cure for the calf strain, hand me a shovel. I’ll start digging. ;o)
Smurf photo by Jenn Zambri Photography