After losing four games in a row, the Phillies needed someone to stop the bleeding. Cole Hamels, with help from his defense and second baseman Wilson Valdez, was able to get the Phillies a 2-1 win over the Rockies on Wednesday night.
Hamels tossed eight innings of one-run ball, allowing only five hits. In short, he was spectacular. His five wins this season tie Roy Halladay and his 2.92 ERA is second, also behind Halladay.
The defense played well behind him, with John Mayberry Jr. getting a key out in the first inning. On a single hit to right field, Mayberry threw out Alfredo Amezaga going to third base. The next batter hit a fly ball to center so, Amezaga would have tagged up and scored had been safe at third.
And although the Phillies offense continues to struggle, Wilson Valdez came up big on a number of occasions. He went 2 for 3 in the game with an RBI-single in the fifth. In the eighth, Valdez singled again. Shane Victorino bunted him over to second and then Valdez advanced to third on a wild pitch. He then scored the go-ahead run on a Jimmy Rollins sac fly.
It was nice to see Victorino in a game, however, he is still having issues running and is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday.
As for the unlikely hero, Valdez, he is hitting .400 with runners in scoring position and .667 with the bases loaded. Both of those stats lead the team. It is hard to expect much more out of a guy who has filled in for Chase Utley all year. Valdez has been amazing.
The second and final game with the Rockies is tonight at 7:05pm. Joe Blanton will pitch.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies had a single make-up game against the Rockies today in Colorado before heading home. The first 6 innings of the game were a disaster with careless plays and missed scoring opportunities. Until the 7th inning, you had to think there was no way the Phils were going to win this game. But this is baseball…never say never.
Here is a quick recap of the sloppy seconds that dominated the game through 6 innings:
– The 2nd place Phillies made their 2nd trip this year to Colorado today.
– The 2nd run of the game for the Phillies was scored on a sloppy slide from pitcher Joe Blanton.
– After 1 run scored in the 5th inning, Jimmy Rollins had the bases loaded with 1 out. He grounded into a sloppy and hugely disappointing double play to end the inning without scoring a 2nd run.
– Catcher Brian Schneider had a runner easily picked off at 2nd base in the 6th inning but Rollins dropped the ball.
The 6th inning got worse as the first base umpire called a runner safe that was out. Then a ball hit up the middle for what should have been an easy double play was deflected off the glove of pitcher Antonio Bastardo. Instead of getting out of the inning, another run scored.
Earlier in the 6th, Mike Sweeney was hit in the hand while checking his swing and let out a painful scream. The bases were loaded so a run scored, but Sweeney looked hurt. Everyone is hoping he will be alright. Feel free to join my Facebook group, I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney, and show your support :O)
But down 7-3 going into the 7th, someone flipped a light switch on. The Phillies managed to climb back into the game with a double by Placido Polanco, an Utley single and a 2-run homer from Ryan Howard. Not to be outdone, Jayson Werth followed with a solo homer to tie the game at 7-7. A single by Ben Francisco then gave the Phillies the 8-7 lead.
But the Phillies were not done yet in the 7th. With 2 outs and the bases loaded, Utley made up for his 2nd inning error with a GRAND SLAM! Wow. Phillies led at that point, 12-7 after scoring 9 runs in the 7th.
While a 5-run lead is nice, the Rockies were not done yet either…they scored 3 runs off Chad Durbin in the bottom of the 7th. So entering the 9th with a score of 12-10, Brad Lidge came in for the save attempt. And here comes the “sloppy” again…the first batter hit an easy ground ball to first but Howard dropped it! That dropped ball turned into an unearned run, cutting the lead to one run.
Lidge gave up a single next and one out later, walked Todd Helton. Phillies fans started getting nauseous. But Lidge worked out of the mess; he struck out Clint Barmes and the next batter hit a ball to Polanco at third. Polly made a tough play and stepped on third for the force out to end the game. And……exhale…..whew! This was a huge win for the Phils!
Since the bullpen was pretty much used up tonight, I hope the Phillies are prepared to bring up a few pitchers from the minors before tomorrow’s game against the Brewers. The only September call-up so far has been catcher Paul Hoover. Game time tomorrow is 7:05pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.
#1 Phillies Fan
Autotrader.com is running a contest to find the #1 Phillies Fan. I am constantly teased about being an obsessive Phillies fan and all my friends complain they never see me during baseball season. So, I decided to enter the contest. If you agree that I am a huge Phan, please feel free to VOTE for me :O) Your support is appreciated!
Nyjer Morgan: Poster Child For Anger Management
Nyjer Morgan of the Washington Nationals has issues. On August 21st, Morgan was accused of purposely throwing a ball at a fan in Philadelphia after being heckled. The fan was hit in the head and did not see the throw coming. MLB suspended Morgan for 7 games, which he is currently appealing.
As if that were not bad enough, on Wednesday night, Morgan charged the mound with his fist in the air after a pitch from the Marlins Chris Volstad sailed behind him. Morgan swung and the benches cleared. Worse than that, Morgan showboated after the brawl ended as he walked off the field, proud of his bad behavior. Check out the video:
Morgan’s behavior this year has been reprehensible. Even his own manager has benched him for prior bad behavior. He does not deserve to wear a major league uniform; here’s hoping MLB takes appropriate action.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
After scoring 8 runs yesterday, the question remained as to whether or not the Phillies could repeat the offensive performance. Jimmy Rollins started off the game with a home run, which was a good sign. In the 2nd, Shane Victorino led off that inning with a home run as well. But facing a good Dodgers pitcher in Clayton Kershaw, the Phils offense still had some issues.
Luckily, Roy Oswalt was on the mound for the Phillies to keep the game in hand. Although he was very wild, walking 6 batters, Oswalt got through 6 1/3 innings allowing only 1 hit and no runs. Oswalt also struck out 6 batters and collected his 10th win of the year.
The Phillies did not score off Kershaw after the 2 homers and went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position. However, they did take a few more runs from the Dodgers bullpen. Chase Utley doubled Rollins home in the 7th; Utley had 3 doubled in the game off 3 different pitchers which he has never done before. This is a great sign from Utley who has been very rusty since coming off the DL.
There was a comedic moment in the 9th inning that led to a few more runs. Rookie Domonic Brown was put in as a pinch hitter and hit a ground rule double to left. But Brown either thought the ball was foul or failed to realize it was a ground rule double as he ran back towards first base. Ryan Howard and the rest of the team in the dugout broke up in laughter at the young players’ expense. Brown finally went back to 2nd and wound up scoring on a Rollins single. Utley’s 3rd double then scored Rollins.
The Phillies went on to win by a score of 5-1 and won the Dodgers series 2 game to 1. They will now travel to Denver for a single make-up game against the Rockies tomorrow before returning home. Tomorrow’s game time is 7:10pm and Joe Blanton will pitch.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Did the Phillies forget to pay their electric bill this month? Because they are suffering from a serious and prolonged power outage. When sluggers Ryan Howard and Chase Utley finally came off the DL in mid-late August, everyone was relieved to finally see the Phillies line-up back in order. But the relief was short lived as the team has been on a downward spiral ever since.
And now, the Phillies have lost ground in the NL East race, falling 3 games behind the Braves and missing key opportunities to catch up. This 4-game sweep at the hands of the Astros may come back to haunt them in September.
Howard has only 3 hits in his last 10 games and has struck out 20 times. In 16 at-bats for the Astros series, Howard got only 1 hit. Utley has had only 7 hits in his last 34 at-bats since coming off the DL. Other key players during the Astros 4-game series did not hit either; Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco had just 3 hits each. They have consistently failed to hit with runners in scoring position too, with the worst offender being Jayson Werth.
They have lost their fire and their intensity. That was no more evident than today in the 5th inning when Werth tried to tag and score on a shallow fly to right. Not only did Werth not even bother to slide, he never even touched the plate. Werth should have slid hard and tried to take out the catcher to get that run. Instead, he gave up and basically accepted defeat.
Kyle Kendrick looked half asleep on the mound too. Ever since JA Happ was shipped to the Astros, Kendrick had relaxed more and more each start, to the point where he is just not present on the mound. Maybe he figures there is no one left to take his job so why bother kicking it up a notch? Kendrick has allowed 15 runs in his last 4 starts, with 4 of those runs coming in 6 innings tonight.
However, the real offenders this series were the Phillies hitters who got absolutely nothing done. Except maybe for getting picked off on the base paths multiple times, failing to gets bunts down and not bothering to slide in order to score. The way they have played is disgraceful.
If the Phillies take this sort of attitude and performance into San Diego tomorrow, they are going to be crushed. They have 3 games with the Padres, 3 with the Dodgers and then a make-up in Denver against the now hot Rockies. Cross your fingers. Game time tomorrow is 10:05pm.
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
It has been a while since Phillies fans have been treated to a home run barrage. Tonight, the Phillies embraced the long ball, knocking three 2-run homers out of the ballpark; once each in the 5th, 6th and 7th innings. Jayson Werth got the first one, which had to be a big relief for him. Werth has not hit a homer in over a month, since June 23rd. Ryan Howard and Cody Ransom collected the other two bombs.
Cole Hamels had a bit of a rough outing, so the homers were a welcome sight. In the 1st inning with two outs, Hamels allowed a single, hit a batter and walked two more, which walked a run home. In 5 innings, Hamels walked 4 batters, hit two batters and allowed 3 runs. So while he was not at his best, he did still keep the team in the game.
David Herndon pitched one inning in relief and had some trouble as well. With one run already across, it looked like Herndon had a ground ball double play to end the inning. Placido Polanco fielded the ball, tagged the runner and tossed to first. But the runner going to second was called safe, despite insistence from both Polanco and manager Charlie Manuel that he did indeed tag the runner. The ump did not see it and another run scored.
But the home runs kept coming and the Phillies took the lead right back. Then in the 7th, Shane Victorino caught what appeared to be a routine fly ball but was wincing in pain before the ball even arrived. He called the trainer over and was taken out of the game. The report is that Victorino has a left oblique strain. Oblique strains are tricky so if he lands on the DL, it would not be shocking.
What is shocking is that the Phillies cannot seem to catch a break with all the injuries. Yesterday, Jimmy Rollins got hurt when he fouled a ball off his foot. He seems to be feeling better, but may still miss another game or two. Now Victorino; plus Chase Utley is still recovering from his thumb injury and at one point, the Phils had seven players on the DL all at once.
The injuries are getting old; but the current win streak, despite the injuries, is certainly not getting old. After sweeping the Rockies in 4 games, they beat the D-Backs tonight by a score of 9-5 for their 6th straight win. The rookie Herndon picked up his first major league win. In addition, the Braves lost tonight so the Phillies gain a game on them. The Phils are now 3.5 games out of first.
There are two more games with the D-Backs left before the Phillies hit the road again. As for Victorino, we should know more tomorrow. If he lands on the DL, the Phils will probably call up either Domonic Brown or John Mayberry to take his spot. I know everyone will be rooting for Brown, but Mayberry may get the nod because he has already been in the majors and they may not want to start the clock on Brown’s options just yet. But my vote is that Victorino is okay…here’s hoping.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies manager, Charlie Manuel, collected his 500th victory for the team today with a 4-game sweep of the Rockies. Only two other Phils managers since 1900 have more wins: Gene Mauch, 645 and Danny Ozark, 594.
The game did not start well as pitcher Joe Blanton quickly gave up 2 runs in the first innings to the anxious Rockies who were hoping to salvage one game in this series. But, despite a few walks, Blanton was sharp after the 1st and wound up going 6 innings.
The Phillies offense got them back into the game quickly, which was also a huge help. In order, Ross Gload singled, Greg Dobbs doubled and Brian Schneider tripled. All that was missing was a home run. Instead of the homer, Blanton reached first on a missed catch by Jason Giambi at first.
But then Jimmy Rollins batted and wound up fouling a ball off his foot, sending him to the ground in pain. He limped through the rest of the game and afterwards had an X-Ray. There was no break; he just has a bruise. However, it is still unknown how long he may have to rest his foot before playing again. Here is the sequence, with a nice moment of sportsmanship too:
Things got quiet for a while after that until the Phillies scored 2 more runs in the 6th. Placido Polanco and Raul Ibanez each hit RBI-singles to extend the lead. But many players contributed to the offense today, especially Schneider, with the huge triple in the 2nd and he also walked and scored in the 6th. Greg Dobbs went 2 for 4 and Polanco had 2 hits as well. Here are a few shot from the game:
There was some great defense and really amazing efforts on tough plays also:
And then came the heart-stopping 9th inning. You know when I mention heart attacks, Brad Lidge must somehow be involved, right? Well he sure was. It started with a double, but Lidge got two outs after that. With just one out to go, ahead of the batter in the count, Lidge grooved a fastball right over the plate which Seth Smith hammered for a 2-run homer, cutting the lead to 5-4. Two walks and a single later and the bases were loaded…again…just like the day before. But Lidge finally got a ground ball, which he fielded himself for the final out.
While Lidge is totally on my last nerve with these cardiac episode inducing outings, what is the alternative? Do we need a new closer? Probably. But has anyone else in the pen proved they can handle the job? No. This is the proverbial rock and a hard place. Others have tried to close and failed, like Ryan Madson, for example. So sadly, it looks like we are stuck with Lidge for now.
As for the recent trade rumors, Dan Haren went to the Angels so it looks like Roy Oswalt is the final option for the Phils to pick up a starter. But as I talked about on yesterday’s Fightin’ Phillies podcast, Oswalt does not seem interested in coming here and with the no-trade clause, he has final say. But do we really want a guy who is scared of the media and shies away from pressure? I know I don’t. It will be interesting to see if anything happens before the trade deadline.
In the meantime, feel free to check out the Photo Album from today’s game. Thanks to my friend, Audrea, I was in one of the business suites today, which are very, very nice. I put a few photos of that in the album as well.
The D-Backs come to town tomorrow. Game time is 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies beat the Rockies again today in a close, and at times dramatic, 4-3 game. It was the Phillies annual Christmas in July promotion, but instead of snow, the Phils saw on-field temperatures over 100 degrees for 6 innings followed by an hour and 39 minute rain delay. Although the ball girls did not let the weather ruin their day:
In the stands, everyone was sweltering. When the rain finally started in the 5th inning, many kicked back and enjoyed the refreshing rain. Others heard thunder and ran screaming. Needless to say, I am still wringing water out of my hair, but was happy to escape the oppressive heat.
It was also a very good ball game. JA Happ came back to the bigs for the first time since mid-April when an injury sent him to the DL. He looked sharp through 2 innings, but then he started to lose the strike zone and began relying too much on the fast ball. The Rockies started to figure him out, but he did go 5 innings with 3 runs scored; for his first start back, this is not too bad. Once he knocks the rust off, Happ should be just fine.
The defense played well behind Happ and the bullpen, which was a big help. Ryan Howard absolutely sold out on two different plays where he dove and slid into the ground. He missed the foul ball, but it was not for lack of effort. When he got up, he was covered in mud. Shane Victorino also made a great running catch in center to get Happ out of the 3rd inning.
Ben Francisco got a start in left field today and took full advantage; he smacked a 2-run homer in the 2nd inning and went 2 for 3 with a walk on the day. Both Jayson Werth and Jimmy Rollins also had 2 hits. In the 5th inning though, the Phils had runners on first and third and failed to score. Victorino popped up; Placido Polanco hit a liner but it was right to the 3rd baseman. Then Howard flied out.
So this was not an easy game, but thanks in part to a double by Wilson Valdez and then a single from Rollins and a wild pitch, the Phils took the lead in the 7th after the delay. Brad Lidge got the save, but it was not without incident. Lidge loaded the bases with 2 outs, making everyone nervous, and finally struck out Ian Stewart to get out of it. Whew!
By the way, the graphics used on the big screen for Christmas in July were priceless. You do have to feel sorry for Francisco and Cody Ransom though; take a look:
If the Phillies can pull out a win tomorrow (1:05pm), they will have 5 wins in a row and a sweep of the Rockies. I am going to the game again and hope to get some more photos. I am sitting a bit higher than usual tomorrow, but it is in one of the company suites, so I will not complain ;o)
Also, be sure to check out the podcast I did today as a guest of Rich Baxter and his Fightin’ Phillies podcast. We chatted with another blogger about the Trade Deadline and our predictions of things to come. Thanks to Rich for the invitation!
And of course, here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography