The Phillies anorexic offense has gotten off to a seriously slim start during the first two games of 2012. After a 1-0 win in the opener against the Pirates, the Phillies again scored only one run in Game #2 through 10 innings.
The only run starter Cliff Lee allowed was on a rare wild pitch in the 6th inning. Lee looked a little uncomfortable most of the game, however, he managed to hold his ground.
But while Lee clawed his way through the Pirates line-up, the Phillies offense was mostly absent. Hunter Pence collected the lone RBI with a single in the first inning to score Shane Victorino.
Throughout the game though, you could not help but expect to see that “magic” moment occur to get the Phils over the hump. Freddy Galvis is still waiting for his first major league hit; wouldn’t it be great if that happened at a key moment to put the Phillies ahead? And Jim Thome stepped in as a pinch hitter late in the game; you thought, surely our old friend can conjure something special in his 1st official at-bat as a Phillie again.
But sadly, the magic never appeared. And so on to extra innings they went…
Joe Blanton, who started Monday’s exhibition game, was called on in the 10th and immediately got into trouble. He gave up a double to Phillie-killer Rod Barajas that missed going over the outfield wall by about an inch. And just a few batters later, a single knocked in the winning run.
While it is only two games into the season, these two games are still cause for concern. Not panic…just worrisome. Because this is essentially a carry-over from last year where the Phillies offense regularly stunk up the ballpark.
In addition, having 3 ace pitchers will do them no good if they need those 3 guys to toss a shut-out every time. That whole pitching staff has to thinking already, “Oh no, here we go again…” And many fans are thinking the exact same thing right now.
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Before today’s game against the Dodgers, the Phillies rookie pitcher Vance Worley was hearing his name tossed around in the same sentence as “Rookie of the Year.” But after allowing five runs in the first inning, Worley looked more like a regular rookie than an award-winning one. The Vanimal lost a bit of his bite today.
Still, Worley picked himself up after the disastrous 1st inning and went back to pitching like usual. He surrendered one more run in the 3rd, but for the most part, he settled down. Being able to bounce back in the face of adversity is a very good sign from a very young pitcher.
In the 3rd inning, Worley helped his own cause with an RBI-single. The Phillies cut the 6-0 lead in half that inning, scoring three runs with the Worley hit and a Hunter Pence 2-run homer.
After four innings, the bullpen took over and so did the Phillies offense. The Phils kept tacking on runs and the Dodgers scored one more off Kyle Kendrick.
But in the 6th, Chase Utley came through big to tie the game with a 2-RBI single. The next batter, Ryan Howard, put an exclamation point on the inning with a 2-run homer to give the Phillies a 9-7 lead.
The Phillies took the lead into the 9th inning where, for the second night in a row, Ryan Madson tried to give us all heart failure. After the first batter got on base, a run scored on a force out. With two outs and one on, Madson, for the second night in a row again, struck out ex-Phillie Rod Barajas to end the game.
This 3-game sweep of the Dodgers gives the Phillies a 9-1 record on the 10-game road trip. It is the first ever 9-1 road trip for the franchise.
This has been an amazing run for the Phillies and especially for Hunter Pence. In 12 days and 12 games with his new team, Pence has lost only one game and that was also the only game he did not have a hit in.
The energy Pence has brought with him is a huge boost for an already outstanding Phillies team. And while it is unrealistic, this run gives the Phillies a feel of being almost unstoppable.
So enjoy the off-day tomorrow! The Nats come to town on Friday; game time is 7:05pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies reclaimed their spot in first place last night after an 11-5 win over the Mets. Let us begin with the Tale of Two Teams: Before the game, people like Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino had their game faces on. Jimmy Rollins, still on the DL, was relaxed and posing for me and Jose Reyes was busy fixing his hair. A foretelling of things to come perhaps?
As for the game itself, most of it can be summed up in two innings. In the first inning, things did not look good for pitcher Jamie Moyer and the Phillies. Moyer got the first two outs but after allowing a few singles and then a home run to David Wright, he was in a big hole quickly.
Moyer’s performances this year have had one huge flaw; he always seems to have one bad inning where he gives up a bunch of runs. In the top of the 4th, he allowed 2 more runs on a Rod Barajas homer. Barajas has done serious damage to the Phillies every time he has played his ex-team. Although, Placido Polanco did manage to tag Barajas out going to third:
But the bottom of the 4th inning blew the game wide open for the Phillies. The Mets ace, Johan Santana, had been mowing down Phillies batters, except for solo homers from Polanco and Howard in the 1st. After a Chase Utley double, Santana got the next two batters out, but things then spun wildly out of control.
Raul Ibanez singled to score Utley and Carlos Ruiz walked after that. The bases were loaded with 2 outs for the pitcher, Moyer. You had to imagine Moyer would just make the last out and that would be that. But once Moyer ran the count 2-0, the crowd exploded with anticipation of what might happen next.
On their feet and screaming, “Johan! Johan!” the fans rattled Santana and Moyer, will amazing discipline at the plate, drew the walk to force in a run. Everyone began having flashbacks to Game 2 of the 2008 NLDS when Brett Myers and the crowd did the exact same thing to pitcher CC Sabathia. And who should step to the plate but the same hero from that NLDS game, Shane Victorino.
Back in October of 2008, Victorino followed up the Myers walk with a Grand Slam. Last night, history repeated itself as Victorino, with the crowd cheering him on, hit another Grand Slam! It was the 2nd of his career and I have been present for both of those slams. Shane may want to send me some tickets as it appears I am his good luck charm ;o)
But the inning did not end there. Polanco singled and then Utley homered; and with that, Santana was finally run out of the game. The Mets bullpen gave up one more run after that making it a grand total of 9 runs in the inning. Santana was responsible for 8 of those, which is more runs that he gave up in the entire month of April. And the 10 runs total marks the most runs ever allowed by Santana in a single game for his career.
The Phillies batted around plus 4 in the inning and the outburst seemed to give Moyer new life on the mound. He pitched two scoreless innings after that and even got a hit in the 5th inning. Chad Durbin pitched the 7th and 8th innings without allowing a hit and Danys Baez, feeling comfy with a 6-run lead, closed out the game.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game. Tonight, the Phillies will begin a new series against the Cardinals with Joe Blanton finally returning from the DL. Game time is 7:05pm. Best of luck to Blanton in his season debut!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
It was a bad, bad, bad day for the Phillies; Raul Ibanez was put on the 15-day disabled list to start it off. He has a strained left groin. Then, a not-so-fun mix of bad pitching and sleepy defense led to a sweep at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays. What’s next? The players get eaten by a swarm of locusts? It’s a famine and plague of biblical proportions.
John Mayberry Jr. was called up to replace Ibanez and he had an interesting day; a home run, an assist to nail a runner at the plate, but he also made a huge mistake by taking his eyes off Scott Rolen who turned a single into a double on the goof and wound up scoring as a result. Then again, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley did the exact same thing earlier in the game to help a Blue Jay advance to second after a walk. And even worse than that, Pedro Feliz committed his 4th error of the year on what should have been an easy double play ball in the 8th inning. That turned Clay Condrey’s day into a real nightmare; Condrey allowed 1 earned run and 1 unearned on 3 hits and a walk without even recording an out. Ouch!
Aside from all that, Joe Blanton continued the trend of Phillies starters totally sucking…he lasted only 5 1/3 innings and allowed 4 runs on 9 hits and a walk. And so the bullpen was sent out there once again to blow the small, one run lead. With their “job” completed and the Jays now having a 7-5 lead, the Phillies came to bat in the bottom of the 8th with the locusts still swarming…
Greg Dobbs, who apparently has no fear of insects, smacked a solo home run to get the game within 1 run. Dobbs passed the torch to Rollins, who hit a double and then Shane Victorino drove him in – game tied, 7-7.
But hey, have no fear Jay’s fans…the bullpen WILL blow it AGAIN! Ryan Madson gave up a solo home run to Rod Barajas, the first batter of the 9th inning, after having him in a 0-2 hole in the count. So the Phillies entered the 9th inning down 8-7.
Utley walked; Ryan Howard (give ya 3 guesses and the 1st two don’t count)….yup! Struck out! Jayson Werth flied out and then Feliz got a base hit. That brought Mayberry to the plate with a chance for the rookie to play the hero – but no such luck. He popped out and that ended an excruciating day for the Phillies. I have nothing left to say except – AAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH! Now please excuse me while I get horribly drunk and pass out…
Dobbs Photo – Jenn
Usually, when Cole Hamels is on the mound for the Phillies, most feel pretty confident about their chances to win. However, the last few times Hamels has taken the mound it had been more of an adventure and less of a slam-dunk. Tonight against the Blue Jays, Hamels went 6 innings and allowed 2 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks. On paper, it looks pretty good; but watching the game was an up and down drama. Hamels struggled with his command, but the Jays were not able to take advantage.
Jimmy Rollins led the game off with a double and after Chase Utley knocked him in to score the first run of the game, the offense appeared to be cooking. But after that, the engines stalled and the Phillies did not score again until Jayson Werth hit a 2-run homer in the 6th.
The 8th inning then turned into a roller coaster ride with a 3-2 lead and JC Romero on the mound. Romero walked the bases loaded, but despite his struggles, he came away unscathed thanks to a nice pop-up from former Phillie, Rod Barajas and a base running mistake by the Jays. The Phillies had no luck scoring in the bottom of the 8th so it was Ryan Madson time. Madson quickly got in a jam with the bases loaded and NO outs. Buckle up, Phils fans – the ride is not yet over.
What goes up, eventually, must come down. And so it went… Madson struck out the next batter but then walked in the tying run after that; another blown save for the Phillies. Well, at least this time it wasn’t Brad Lidge who blew it. So, Barajas came to the plate, and for the 3rd time in the game, he popped the ball up in the middle infield. Thank you, Rod! The next batter struck out and it was on the bottom of the 9th with the game tied, 3-3.
The Phillies failed to score again and the game went into extra innings. Clay Condrey, who has been great this season, began to self-destruct in the 10th. He allowed 3 singles in a row to score a run and then walked another one in with the bases loaded. Then poor Tyler Walker was sent to the mound for his Phillies debut – with the bases loaded and 1 out in the 10th; not the way he imagined breaking into the bigs, I imagine. Walker allowed a sac fly and a double to Barajas, giving the Jays an 8-3 lead. This kid has got to be wondering what he did wrong in a previous life…
So that was the end of that; the Phillies did not score…again; and they lost the game 8-3 after having a 3-2 lead going into the 9th. Another frustrating loss. But the pen cannot dwell on this one…when you fall down, you should get up, and get back on horse. And the Phillies will attempt to do that tonight when they begin game 2 of the Jays series.
Player Photos – Jenn
In this 3-game series against a very good Red Sox team, the Phillies managed to escape with one win yesterday. The game did not start out great, as JA Happ struggled in the 2nd inning and gave up 4 runs, including back-to-back homers. But Happ went to his Happ-Y place and recovered nicely; although he walked 6 and allowed 5 runs total, Happ still managed to pitch though almost 6 innings to give the bullpen a much needed rest.
The Phillies offense battled back and scored 4 runs in the 5th and then 6 in the 7th inning. Singles by Pedro Feliz, Chris Coste and Chase Utley and a double from Ryan Howard led the charge in the 5th. Then in the 7th, Jimmy Rollins emerged from his slump and hit a lead-off home run. The rest of the team jumped on his back, decided to Hang Ten and ride the wave for 6 more runs which included 2 of those runs scored after Sox pitching hit J-Roll in his 2nd at-bat of the inning and then issued a walk to Shane Victorino all with the bases loaded to force in runs. The game ended with a score of 11-6; the exact same score of the previous day’s game, but this time, it was in the Phillies favor.
So the Phillies get a break from baseball today, but Jamie Moyer and many other players will do their part for charity tonight at the Philly Celebrity Waiters Dinner at the ballpark. Benefiting the Moyer Foundation’s Camp Erin, which assists children in distress, many players will don aprons and serve food and drink to Philly locals in an effort to raise money for the cause. It is always nice to see athletes using their free time to help the community. Now just try not to drop a serving tray on anyone’s head… ;O)
Tuesday night, the Phillies will host the Toronto Blue Jays for some more nerve-wracking interleague play. Cole Hamels will take the mound at 7:05pm and Phillies fans will get to say hello to a few old friends; Scott Rolen and Rod Barajas. So I know how Philly fans feel about Rolen, who publicly criticized the team years ago when he left, but he is still a cutie. Please try to be gracious and not boo him…asking too much? Oh well.
Last night, the MLB Network premiered its new reality TV series, “The Pen,” which will follow the Phillies bullpen from Spring Training all the way to the All-Star break this year. Last night’s episode gave a behind the scenes look at how pitchers are evaluated in Spring Training, how the 5th starter was chosen, what some of the players do in their free time with their kids and family, the impact of losing Harry Kalas and everything in between. They even showed the agony that JA Happ went through when he had to call home to tell his family that Chan Ho Park was given the 5th spot and that he was unsure if he would make the team. Cameras followed him as he sat on his bed in the hotel and made the phone call. Gut wrenching, emotion stuff. It was absolutely outstanding and after the hour was up, I was sad that it had to end. But luckily, a new episode will air every Sunday night. Make sure to tune in!
Rollins Photo – Jenn
Rod Barajas returns to Philly, and in very uncharacteristic fashion, whacks a grand slam and a solo homer, scoring 5 of the 6 runs for the Blue Jays last night. With Ryan Howard still slumping and Utley and Burrell both coming up empty, the Phillies could only muster up 3 runs, which was not enough to catch Barajas and the Jays who flew away with the win. So hey Rod, where was all this power last year when you were with the Phillies? Here is a shot from last year of Rod saying hi to me. Or is he waving bye-bye to the balls he smacked out the park last night?
Jayson Werth did get his start last night at center and Jenkins in right as I had predicted. Overall, I thought that worked very well. Werth did not get a hit (0-2) but worked 2 walks, which to me is as good as 2 hits, stole a base and had an outfield assist. He looked very comfortable in the line-up and his base running is excellent. Jenkins went 1-3, which is about what you expect from him and did a good job in the field.
Another guy you hear me talk about a lot needing more playing time is Greg Dobbs, so I was thrilled to see him in the line-up too. I have said many times I think Manual should be platooning him and Feliz. Greg is a third baseman originally and is very comfortable there (see my interview with Greg on the Phillies Baseball 101 Video page where he talks about this). Not to mention, he is a much better hitter than Feliz. Last night, Greg went 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored. So Charlie, let the man play! Now, I still love Pedro, but give Greg some time too! He’s got quite a luxury with so many great players on this team…may as well use them!
Going to the game this afternoon and hoping it is not a total wash out. The weather does not look promising. Yuck! Wish me luck! :o) Go Phillies!