According to Wikipedia, the Big Bang Theory refers to the idea that the universe was originally extremely hot and dense at some finite time in the past and has since cooled by expanding to the present diluted state and continues to expand today. The same theory can be used to explain the Phillies 2010 season thus far. They got off to a very hot start in April, cooled off from May to most of July and are now “expanding.” Although, “exploding” may be a more accurate term.
At first, having to face the best pitcher in the National League today did not seem like good news for the struggling Phillies offense. But after scoring 6 runs yesterday, maybe they got some of their Mojo back. Because they absolutely destroyed the Rockies ace, Ubaldo Jimenez.
Jimenez entered the game with a record of 15-1 and a miniscule 2.38 ERA. But he left the game after only 2 innings and 6 runs allowed on 3 hits and 6 walks. All 6 runs scored in the top of the 3rd inning without Jimenez even recording an out.
It was starting to look like the “diluted” state of the Phils offense was about to pass. The Rockies bullpen gave up one more run, but finally, after 30 minutes, got out of the bottom of the 3rd inning.
Jimmy Rollins, very comfy back in his leadoff spot, kicked off the 3rd inning with a single to left. The next two batters walked as Jimenez started to look rattled. Then Ryan Howard smacked a triple down the 1st base line. The walks kept coming and Rollins hit a triple to score two more runs in his second at-bat of the inning. The Rockies must have wondered if that inning was ever going to end.
While the inning did have to end eventually, the Phillies kept trying to add on and give pitcher Kyle Kendrick a huge cushion. Kendrick had extra motivation to pitch well today. In his last outing, Kendrick allowed 7 runs and was then demoted to the minors. You had to expect a solid effort today as the injury to Jamie Moyer forced the Phillies to give Kendrick one more shot.
Kendrick took advantage of the unexpected opportunity and pitched very well. By the 7th inning, Kendrick had an 8 run lead to work with and he had allowed only 1 run at that point. He loaded the bases in the 7th with 2 outs, but managed to get out of it with a fly ball to center. So Kendrick went 7 innings, allowing 1 run on a solo homer. This result was more than anyone could have hoped for from Kendrick.
There were a number of positives to come out of this game, aside from the obvious…a win. Rollins looks like the player of old again with 3 big hits, a stolen base and 3 RBI. Raul Ibanez is still loving the 3-hole in the line-up; he had his own big bang with 2-run homer in the 6th. Jayson Werth had 2 hits and Howard racked up 3 more RBI. Placido Polanco played 2nd base today and Greg Dobbs was at third, which turned out to be a good move. Polanco had 2 hits and Dobbs added a hit, an RBI and a walk and played well at 3rd. Even Ben Francisco got a pinch-hit double.
So is this the big bang the Phillies have been waiting for to kick start their offense? A 10-2 win preceded by a 6-0 win should serve as a very good sign. The players that have not been hitting are coming back to life. It is a welcome sight for sure.
Another note of interest, rookie Vance Worley made his major league debut today, pitching the 9th inning for the Phillies. The 22-year old righty starter was 9-4 with a 3.20 ERA in AA ball for the R-Phils; he had pitched 17 consecutive scoreless innings in his last two games before being called up to the Phils to work in the bullpen. Worley was a 3rd round draft pick in 2008 and has made considerable strides since pitching at a 5.34 ERA last year.
In today’s 9th inning, Worley’s fast ball topped out at 95 mph with a 76 mph curve ball and an 83-84mph slider. He looked solid, changed speeds well and the end result was 2 strikeouts and a fly ball out to center. Great job by the rookie!
So, if JA Happ can give the Phillies a solid start tomorrow, they have a shot at winning 4 in a row which has not happened since before the All-Star break. I will be at the game and shall return with photos. See you there!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies returned home today after a very bad road trip hoping to turn things around against the Rockies. For starters, they fired their hitting coach, Milt Thompson and replaced him with Greg Gross. Thompson is the fall guy for this severely underachieving offense. But would this slap to the face be the wake-up call the Phillies are certainly in need of?
At first, it looked like the same old routine of hitting into double plays and leaving the bases loaded. But in the 5th inning, the offense woke up and figured out how to score some runs. Three straight hits, including an RBI double from Raul Ibanez, got things started.
Ryan Howard even stole a base, as his teammates giggled in the dugout after seeing the big man scamper to second. Jayson Werth hit a sac fly and then Ross Gload, getting a rare start in the outfield, smacked a 2-run homer for his second hit of the night.
The only starter who did not contribute tonight was Wilson Valdez who went 0 for 4. Everyone else, even the pitcher, got a hit. Ibanez finally looks like RAUUUUUULLL again! He had 3 hits and 3 RBI tonight. Ibanez likes hitting 3rd, as I mentioned yesterday. Jimmy Rollins, back in the lead-off spot as I also suggested yesterday, seems to have found his groove as well. J-Roll collected 2 hits and a walk.
On the mound, Roy Halladay returned to his usual dominating form after allowing 6 runs (5 earned) in his last outing. Tonight, he pitched extremely well, allowing only 5 hits and no runs over 8 innings. Oddly enough, the hitting was a bigger story today than 8 shut-out innings from Halladay. Because we expect Halladay to be good; but the offense has been so bad, seeing the Phillies score 6 runs was more exciting.
JC Romero pitched an easy 9th inning and looked very sharp. He hit the leadoff batter, but was lights-out after that. The Phillies won by a score of 6-0 and Halladay finally experienced some run support. Hopefully, this win will be a much needed boost for the team.
The starting pitching for the rest of the weekend has finally been announced. Kyle Kendrick will be brought up to pitch Saturday as Jamie Moyer is placed on the DL. And on Sunday, JA Happ will get his first start since 4/15/10 when an injury sent him to the DL.
As for Moyer, the news is not good. An MRI showed that he has both a sprained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor pronator muscle; those injuries are to the left forearm and elbow. The two injuries may require surgery and this may also signal the end of Moyer’s career. He is going for another exam early next week and should know for sure after that. Either way, the injuries are more serious than what Happ had this year and Happ missed more than 3 months.
Moyer is in the last year of his contract with the Phillies and it is unlikely that a team would sign a 48-year old pitcher fresh off multiple injuries and possibly surgery. So Moyer may have pitched his last inning. Then again, if anyone can bounce back after such damage, it would be Moyer. I wish him luck :O)
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Cole Hamels did everything humanly possible today against the Cardinals to get himself and his team a win. In fact, he pitched 8 shut-out innings, allowing only one hit. Hamels was on fire. Too bad that fire did not rub off on the rest of the team. Seriously…what will it take to get the Phillies hitting again? If this spectacular performance from Hamels did not inspire them, then is there anything that can help?
Charlie Manuel keeps shifting the line-up around, praying for a miracle. But it looks like he is just throwing names into a hat and picking them out randomly. Jimmy Rollins usually only produces in the lead-off spot; it is what he is used to. Put him back or sit him down. Placido Polanco needs to stay in the 2-hole. Just put the line-up back the way it was intended to be, except for the 3-hole, which was Chase Utley’s spot. Raul Ibanez has been ok in that spot, but the rest of the line-up needs to settle in so they know what to expect each day.
The Phillies did scatter 9 hits through the first 9 innings today but went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position. Ryan Howard, Polanco and Brian Schneider each had multi-hit games. But once they got on base, someone would either strike out or hit into a double play. Jayson Werth went hitless through 9 innings. And he killed more than his share of possible rallies.
In the month of July through the 9th inning today, Werth is hitting only .215 with no home runs and only 3 RBI. Shaving the beard apparently did not help him. Rollins has been even worse; as of the 9th inning today, he was batting .184 with 8 RBI in July. Basically, the only Phillies that have been hitting consistently are Howard and Polanco.
But extra innings seemed to be the kick in the rear that the Phillies were in need of. Polanco was getting tired of being left on base so in the 11th inning, he hit a solo homer to break up the stalemate between these two teams. A walk by Ibanez and another single from Howard set the table for Werth…again. But Werth finally came through with a double. It was his first hit with runners in scoring position since June 24th; nearly an entire month.
So the Phillies went into the bottom of the 11th with a 2-0 lead and would have to rely on Brad Lidge to save the game. And while the inning was not without drama as Lidge walked the lead-off batter, he did finally get the job done. Phillies win, 2-0.
The Phillies will head back to Philadelphia after this dismal road trip where they won just 2 games out of 8. Roy Halladay will pitch against the Rockies tomorrow; game time is 7:05pm. The starters for the rest of the weekend have not yet been announced. But frankly, if they do not get out of this hitting slump, they could throw a Siberian Tiger out on the mound and it would not make a difference. We hope it does not come to that.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Due to rain and snow in Colorado, Game 2 of yesterday’s scheduled doubleheader was postponed. No date has been announced to play the game and the Phillies are not scheduled to go back to Colorado at all this year. So, it should be interesting to see how they decide to make the game up.
In injury news, Carlos Ruiz has been listed as day to day with a sprained capsular ligament in his right knee. This is a huge loss for the Phillies; Ruiz has been one of their hottest hitters and is leading the league with a .472 on-base percentage. Cross your fingers that he gets well soon.
Jimmy Rollins is getting closer to returning to the team; he went 3 for 6 with two doubles in an extended spring game in Clearwater yesterday. Today, he is scheduled to play short stop which will give a better idea of how the right calf is healing.
As for Brad Lidge, the news is not so sunny. The soreness in his right elbow has lingered for several days now. He is scheduled to see the team doctor today, but soreness usually indicates swelling. Swelling is a sign that something is wrong. While there is no diagnosis yet, my guess is that the Phillies had better start looking for bullpen help.
Today is an off-day for the Phillies; they will travel to Milwaukee next to play the Brewers in a 3-game series starting Friday night at 8:10pm.
After the Phillies – Rockies rain out on Tuesday, a day-night doubleheader was scheduled today and things did not go well for the Phils. First, the Roy Halladay magic fizzled a bit in the 4-3 loss. Second, the injuries are continuing to pile up. The game going into extra innings did not help either.
Catcher Carlos Ruiz left the game in the 4th inning with a right knee injury. Back-up Brian Schneider is already on the DL, which means the Phillies are now onto their 3rd string catcher, Paul Hoover. Not only that, but now he will have to play both games of the double header. The Phillies are also short one spot in the bullpen as Brad Lidge flew back to Philadelphia to see the team doctor about his eternally injured elbow. This is more tragic news for a doubleheader during which the first game went long.
Halladay could not save the bullpen for the second game as he struggled to get through 6 1/3 innings. 10 hits and 3 runs later (2 earned), Halladay was pulled from the game. The biggest nightmare for the Phillies was Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo. This guy is a career .242 hitter, batting .240 coming into this game. Can someone then explain to me HOW Olivo goes 5 for 5 with the game winning walk-off homer in the 10th inning? Wow.
The defense did Halladay no favors by committing 3 errors in the field, although I think the scorekeeper only recorded two. Give the scorekeeper an error too then; why should he miss out on the fun? So, Chase Utley watched a ball roll right under his glove, which must have a hole in it. Jayson Werth bobbled a ball in the outfield…twice in the same play. And Ryan Howard bounced a ball to second, which should have been handled by Wilson Valdez but wasn’t.
Then again, Utley, Howard and Valdez made up almost the entire offense for the Phillies with 3,3 and 2 hits respectively. Placido Polanco had 2 hits in the game and no errors, so I guess he gets two thumbs up for the day.
So the series is now tied 1-1 and game 3 will begin at 8:40pm. The Phillies will rely on Jamie Moyer, who pitched a complete game shut-out in his last game. They will need him to go long in order to preserve the weak bullpen.
There has been a big to-do today over the allegations that the Phillies are stealing signs from opposing catchers. The Rockies complained about it after Monday’s loss, saying that bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer was using binoculars during the 2nd inning and Shane Victorino was on the bullpen phone. MLB has issued a “warning,” stating that there was no conclusive evidence.
According to Victorino, he called to tell Billmeyer to put the binoculars away after the Rockies complained and manager Charlie Manuel spoke to the umpire. You can see this does match the sequence of the events on the game tape. Billmeyer uses the binoculars to watch the action and check on his catchers.
So, answer me this. HOW is Billmeyer supposed to relay the signs in a split second all the way from the bullpen to the batter? It is impossible. Think about how fast things go from giving a sign to throwing the pitch. The batter doesn’t have time to look to the dugout for a sign once he is in the box. Again, it is impossible. Billmeyer was likely watching the opposition in order to scout the pitcher; the same thing he can do by watching the video after the game, only doing it during the game is a time saver.
Besides, are some baseball fans and the media really convinced that no one tries to steal signs? If so, they are delusional. I really don’t care who steals signs. It is a competition and teams will take any advantage they can get. Trying to figure out what the opposing team is going to do is part of the game.
A guy standing on second can read the signs from the catcher and relay it to the batter. No one complains about this. Base coaches use stop watches to time pitchers in order to gain an advantage for stealing bases. No one complains about this either. A-Rod yells for a pop-up when he is running the bases, not fielding. Ok, so people did complain about that one…
But if teams are so concerned about the sign stealing, then they need to do a better job preparing and coming up with signs that are difficult to figure out or that change frequently. Or, do like the Phillies have done in the past and change signs or don’t use them at all. This is a matter of better managing your team and ensuring your pitchers and catchers are all on the same page.
In this case, there is no way the bullpen coach could have sent a sign fast enough to get to the batter. Even if it was possible, whether it is a fast ball or a slider coming in, the batter still has to hit the ball. Same as a runner trying to steal base; he still has to execute. But it is not against the rules of baseball to steal signs by non-electronic means. If people are unhappy about it, then the rules should be revised.
So, should the Phillies now accuse the Rockies of stealing signs since they collected 10 hits off Roy Halladay? Frankly, I do not care. Kudos to the Rockies for hitting our ace and shame on them for whining about something that did not happen just because they were upset about losing the game. This is a practice that has gone on for over a century amongst all MLB teams. I think we all have better things to worry about; of course, that is just one gals humble opinion ;o)
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The first game of this Phillies – Rockies series got off to a good start thanks to some heavy hitting in the 9th. The game remained close for the first 8 innings, with Kyle Kendrick allowing 4 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks through 6 of those. Kendrick struggled to get that far and has still not been able to show any consistency in his starting role after a very good game his last time out.
But Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz were not going to allow those 4 runs to ruin the day. Victorino did an amazing job in the lead-off spot, reaching base 5 out of 6 at-bats with 2 triples and 3 walks. Ruiz went 4 for 5 in the game with 2 RBI, one of which was a solo homer to give the Phillies a lead.
JC Romero pitched 1/3 of the 7th inning and tied the game up again by allowing 1 run on 2 hits and a walk. David Herndon finished the inning, getting some help from Chase Utley who turned an amazing double play. Utley dove for the ball and tossed it to Wilson Valdez from the ground using only his glove. Valdez relayed to 1st and ended the inning.
Speaking of Valdez, this kid is really struggling at the plate. As the back-up to the back-up at short-stop, he has hit into a double play in each of the last 4 games, killing rallies everywhere he goes. In this game, he went 0-4 and is now batting .152. So, where is Juan Castro? He has been out nursing a minor calf injury and last played on May 5th, until he came in last night for defense in the 9th. I guess being put in for 1 inning last night is a good sign, but he had better be backing in hitting shape soon because Valdez is not getting it done.
So the 9th inning for the Phillies turned into a big rally to help cap off the win. Ryan Howard got hit with a pitch to start it off and the Rockies later intentionally walked Raul Ibanez. The super-hot Ruiz stepped up and whacked a single to break the 5-5 tie as Howard scored. Then to put the exclamation mark on the evening, Ross Gload nailed a pinch-hit 3-run homer to give the Phillies the 9-5 win.
Jose Contreras closed the game in the bottom of the 9th. Brad Lidge was unavailable due to soreness in his elbow…again. He just came off the DL and is already having issues in the same elbow that was surgically repaired in the off-season. This is not a good sign. Could it be a foretelling of things to come? Let us hope not.
The Phillies will send Roy Halladay to the mound tonight in game 2 of the series. Game time is 8:40pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Three solo home runs were the difference in a 5-3 win over the Braves. Placido Polanco, Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino all went long in the game. Werth had two RBI on the day and Raul Ibanez collected one as well. Here are a few game highlights:
Cole Hamels started the game and look great through 3 innings. In the 4th, the bottom began to fall out as he walked the first two batters. After escaping that near-disaster unharmed, Hamels came back out in the 5th and started again with a walk. Four singles in a row followed to give the Braves 3 runs. Hamels worked out of the inning again, but the 5th would be his last inning.
There does not appear to be any rhyme or reason to the sudden change in Hamels’ performance. He simply lost his command and forgot where the strike zone was. Luckily, the bullpen bailed him out. Chad Durbin pitched 2 innings and Jose Contreras took the 8th. Both did an amazing job as their families looked on. Before the game, both players greeted their moms and wives on the field for Mother’s Day; even the Phanatic brought his mom to the game:
Brad Lidge earned his first save of the year when he retired the final 3 Braves batters. The first two batters hit long fly balls that barely stayed in the park, but they turned into outs. And we cannot expect zero drama from Lidge, can we? A win is a win; we’ll take it.
Also in honor of Mother’s Day on this day, most of the players used pink bats and wore other pink accessories to mark the occasion and show their support for Breast Cancer research. Chase Utley went all out…look at the photo. He used the pink bat, wore pink batting gloves, 2 pink necklaces, a pink wristband and a pink ribbon pin. Who says real men don’t wear pink? Not I.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game.
In injury news, back-up catcher Brian Schneider has been placed on the DL with a left achilles strain. Paul Hoover, who spent a short time with the team last year, has been recalled from AAA and will take Schneider’s place.
So the Phillies closed out this home stand with a series win and will be off to Colorado to face the Rockies on Monday night. Kyle Kendrick will pitch and the game begins at 8:40pm.
Also, be sure to check out my interviews with Dallas Green, Gary “Sarge” Matthews and Virginia Ventura Marina of the former All-American Girls Professional Baseball League if you missed it yesterday.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography