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
When you see a man as tough and stubborn as Roy Halladay leave a game early due to heat exhaustion, you can be sure that the situation was serious. Mid-batter in the 5th inning, Phillies staff rushed to the mound as Halladay appeared dizzy.
A very rough 3rd inning where Halladay was forced to throw 31 pitches apparently did him in. After allowing a hit to the pitcher, Halladay had the second batter struck out, but the umpire missed the call and issued a walk. That was the beginning of the end of Halladay’s day.
The Cubs pitcher, Rodrigo Lopez, did not run into the same trouble as Phillies batters seemed content swinging early in the count and getting themselves out. With only five hits in the game and the only run coming off a Jimmy Rollins homer, the Phils offense did Halladay no favors.
Even with two Cubs errors, the Phillies could not take advantage. And hitting against Lopez, their former teammate , one might think the Phils had a slight advantage. But as we have witnessed too many times this year, the offense is severely underachieving. And tonight, it cost them.
The real shame is that this team could not rally for Halladay, who was obviously very ill. Halladay had not left a game before six innings since June of 2009. The 63 road-game streak was the longest since Walter Johnson had 82 straight road starts of six innings or more from 1911-1915.
There was more bad news today as Placido Polanco revealed that his back is not getting any better. He finally opted to have a cortisone injection, which will surely keep him on the DL for a lot longer than expected.
The team should get Shane Victorino back tomorrow, which should help, except that he will send John Mayberry Jr. either back to the bench or the minors. Mayberry has been one of the team’s hottest hitters recently; he had two of the Phillies five hits tonight, including a double.
Game two with the Cubs is Tuesday night at 8:05pm; Cliff Lee will pitch.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Have you ever noticed how a player on your favorite team seems like an Angel in the right uniform?
But when he goes to another team, he becomes the Devil. Such is the case with Rodrigo Lopez who pitched for the Phillies last year and went to the Diamondbacks for 2010. Lopez started the game against the Phillies today and pitched 6 innings, allowing 6 runs. So, while we thank him for the 6 runs, sadly, he would only have earned his wings back if he gave us about 15 runs.
Because it looked like the Phillies were going to need 15 runs to win this one. Kyle Kendrick started out pitching really well, but that only lasted 4 innings. By the 5th, Kendrick had returned to his old ways, leaving balls way up in the hitter’s happy-zones and before you knew it, 5 runs had crossed the plate. Kendrick was pulled after 5 innings and his outing turned into a huge disappointment.
The offense tried to keep pace and by the top of the 6th, they had gone ahead of the D-Backs by a score of 6-5. Greg Dobbs hit a 2-run homer in the first, Ross Gload had 2 hits and an RBI and Carlos Ruiz gave them the lead with a 2-out, 2-run single.
The line-up tonight was a bit odd, with Gload and Dobbs in the 1 & 2 spots and Wilson Valdez at short stop. Juan Castro is still nursing a sore hamstring; Shane Victorino sat in order to re-group as he has not been hitting lately; and Dobbs took 3rd base for Placido Polanco. Polly has not looked the same since getting hit in the elbow with a pitch.
So if the Phillies were going to pull out a series win, they were going to have to depend on the back-up players and also hope that the pitching would hold up. The back-ups did their job; the pitchers did not.
After Kendrick’s disastrous 5th inning, Danys Baez could not hold the lead. He gave up 1 run in the 7th to tie the game at 6-6. David Herdon got into trouble in the 8th; with no outs, Raul Ibanez threw a runner out going home and Ruiz held onto the ball for the out. Herndon got a second chance, but he blew it. A 1-out double scored the go-ahead run and then the hits kept coming. By the end of the inning, the Phillies were down by a score of 6-8 and only 1 inning left to get back in it.
And as expected with this suddenly unpredictable offense, the Phillies fell short in the 9th and went down 6-8. Having lost this series 1 game to 2, the Phillies have a lot of issues to address, not the least of which is starting pitching. One man does not a rotation make and Roy Halladay can only win 1 game every five days. Kendrick and Cole Hamels need to get their act together…fast. Joe Blanton and JA Happ had better get well soon and Jamie Moyer is holding his own in the 5th spot.
An even bigger issue is the bullpen; their performance has varied from inconsistent to just plain awful. A lot of the pen pitchers, like Baez, seem to have a one game on, one game off thing going on. It is like the see-saw ride from hell. You just never know which end is going to be up or down and when.
And now the Phillies are heading to San Francisco to face the Giants red-hot pitching staff. With all the injuries and inconsistent performances, the Phillies may be headed into big, big trouble. And Trouble is called Jonathan Sanchez and Tim “I have 2 Cy Youngs” Lincecum. The first game of the series starts tomorrow at 10:15pm. Bust out the bottle of Tums; this is going to be interesting.
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography except Lopez as a D-Back; MLB.com
With a 3-2 victory over the Braves last night to win the series 2 game to 1, the Phillies will have an 8-game lead in the NL East over both the Braves and the Marlins going into September. Joe Blanton pitched another beautiful game and got through 7 innings of one run ball; the only run came off a solo homer from Martin Prado in the first inning. Blanton looked a bit shaky through those first few innings, but settled in well and only gave up 3 hits.
And for the 2nd night in a row, Chase Utley went yard; his solo shot to right field in the 4th was the only run for the Phillies until Carlos Ruiz stepped up in the 7th. In honor of the Ruiz backpack night, a giveaway for kids 14 and under, Ruiz smacked a double to left to score Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz. Ruiz went 3 for 3 on the night; it was his 5th 3-hit game of the year. Maybe the Phillies should give away a Ruiz bobble head next?
In the not-so-great offensive category, the Phillies are still struggling with runners in scoring position. They left 14 men on base and again, had the bases loaded with no outs and failed to score. Blanton hit a line-drive to first base and Ruiz was double off after the catch. Jimmy Rollins then hit a weak grounder to end the inning. The offensive outage is concerning, but thanks to great pitching, they came out on top.
Defense was a big part of the win as well. Ryan Madson, who is entering Brad Lidge-bad territory, got into a huge jam in the 8th inning again. He hit the first batter he faced and then gave up back-to-back singles which scored a run for the Braves. Without recording an out, he was removed from the game and Scott Eyre took over.
Brain McCann then hit a sharp grounder to Utley, who fielded it perfectly and flipped to Rollins who threw to Feliz at third; Feliz tagged Chipper Jones for the unusual 4-6-5 double play. Having eliminated the lead runner, Eyre saved the Phillies from disaster and gave Lidge a 3-2 lead to work with. Amazingly, Lidge nailed down the save with relative ease; it was his second save in a row. Whew!
By the way, did anyone see the actor, Paul Rudd (movies: “I Love You, Man”; “Anchorman”; “Knocked Up”), sitting in the 10th row behind home plate last night? He was just a few sections over from me so I took a few photos. The woman next to him (right side, dark brown hair) is none other than Jen Utley, Chase’s wife.
A very welcome off-day is upon us as the Phillies offense needs to rest and charge up for the September charge. Watch for September call-up’s which may include pitchers Kyle Kendrick, Jack Taschner and Rodrigo Lopez; infielders Mike Cervenak and Andy Tracy; outfielders John Mayberry Jr. and Jason Ellison; and we will likely see a catcher added – maybe Paul Hoover. Those are my guesses anyway.
A lot of moves will be made as the Phillies are also anticipating the return of Brett Myers, JC Romero and Clay Condrey to the bullpen plus Greg Dobbs. All four have been on the DL and are very close to coming back.
And finally, here is the complete Photo Album from last night’s Phillies – Braves game. Tomorrow, the San Francisco Giants come to town for 3 games and some serious pitching battles will ensue. You may remember the Phillies were stomped in San Fran back in July, losing 3 out of 4 games. The Giants are tied for a wildcard spot right now so this will be a very tough match match-up. Cole Hamels starts it off tomorrow at 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn
Pedro Martinez will be given his first shot at redemption tomorrow night against the Cubs as he enters the Phillies starting rotation. Jamie Moyer, on the other hand, has been relegated to the bullpen while the Phillies take a look at Martinez. Moyer is a professional and took the news in stride. While it is sad to see Jamie bumped from the rotation for sentimental reasons, for baseball reasons, it was necessary. Holding the highest ERA in the National League among starters, Moyer has not had the year the Phillies hoped for. However, if Pedro fails to perform, there is no reason Jamie cannot be moved back in as a starter again.
The injury bug has left the bullpen thin over the last month so Moyer may be able to help out in a game where a starter is pulled early. Another member of the pen, Chad Durbin, is just back from his back injury and Rodrigo Lopez was, as expected after several bad outings, sent back to the minors to make room for Durbin. Also recovering still is JC Romero who had an MRI on his forearm which showed no ligament damage. Romero has a slight tear in the muscle which should heal with rest and hopefully, we will see him before the month is out.
The Phillies will have their hands full tonight facing the Cubs and Rich Harden who has a 1.80 ERA in his last 5 games. JA Happ is coming off another complete game shut-out, which is great, except that he threw 127 pitches. Hopefully, the extra work will have no effect on him tonight. The game kicks off at 8:05pm in Chicago.
Photo by Jenn
While the season is not over yet, today was definitely a low point for the Phillies thus far in 2009. They hit rock bottom by getting swept by the Marlins in spectacularly bad fashion; today’s final was 12-3. Right now, the Phillies are playing very, very bad baseball.
Jamie Moyer did a decent job and got through 5 innings of one run ball. He ran into trouble in the 5th and was pulled. The bottom of the 6th is where things began to unravel. Ryan Howard was up with 2 outs and 2 men on; ball 4 came across the plate and umpire Ed Rapuano, whose strike zone had been all over the place all day long, called the ball below his knees a strike and rung Howard up to end the threat. And that blown call kicked off a crap-storm of epic proportions.
Still with a 3-1 lead into the 7th inning, Rodrigo Lopez came in to pitch and the strike zone began wandering all over the place again as Rapuano’s brain must have been fried in the heat. With an 0-2 count on the batter, Rapuano called a ball that again, looked like a strike. Shane Victorino, in centerfield (yes, 400 feet away) lifted his arms and put them down in what appeared to be disgust at the call. He did not say anything and even if he had, no umpire could have heard him all the way out in center.
And then the truly unbelievable happened; umpire Rapuano EJECTED Victorino all the way from home plate! For throwing his arms up! Never in my life have I seen such a ridiculous, self-indulgent, asinine call from an umpire. Victorino ran in to defend himself and catcher Paul Bako tried to restrain him. Howard ran in for back-up and subdued Victorino before he was able to get at Rapuano and possibly get a suspension. Charlie Manual argued the ridiculous call, but after that, all hell broke loose.
The crowd, myself included, boo’ed every move that the umpire made after that. Chants of “Victorino!” echoed throughout the stadium in support of Shane who was the obvious victim of a BS call and personal attack from a childish umpire. Rapuano should be ashamed of himself; not only did he call an awful game, but then he cannot handle the pressure and act like a professional. Instead, he throws what amounts to a temper tantrum and gives a bad name to umpires everywhere. Disgusting. See the Video for yourself.
The Phillies did themselves no favors after that and the Fish blew the game wide open. Jayson Werth was forced to enter the game to replace Victorino and committed 2 errors that same inning. Lopez surrendered 6 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks and only made it through 2/3 of the inning. With the blow-out in order, Brad Lidge was sent to the mound for the 9th just to get some work and he gave up 3 runs, 2 of which came on a homer. And thus, the disaster was complete.
With a day off tomorrow and a road series set to begin in Chicago in Tuesday, the Phillies had better get some rest, regroup and come out swinging. They are still ahead in the division by 4 games, but with new life awarded to the Fish and the Braves not far behind, this is the time to forget and move on.
Here is a full Photo Album from the disaster today and also shots from the Alumni Batting Challenge which was won by Ricky & Ricky – Botallico & Jordan.
Photos by Jenn
I have finished the Photo Albums from the 4-game Phillies – Giants series in San Francisco. The first one covers all around AT&T Park, inside and out. The second album is of all 4 games. Here is a quick summary of what you will see:
Game 1, July30th: Police Appreciation Day; Rodrigo Lopez starts for the Phillies and Jonathan Sanchez for the Giants.
Game 2, July 31st: Cliff Lee’s first game with the Phillies vs. Ryan Sadowski for the Giants; Aaron Rowand’s 1,000 career hit. There is also a photo of an A’s World Series Ring that appears to be a very good replica.
Game 3, Aug. 1st: Giants Family Softball Game; Dog Days at the park; Olympic Gold Medalist Peggy Fleming in a pre-game ceremony; Joe Blanton starts for the Phillies and Tim Lincecum for the Giants.
Game 4, Aug. 2nd: Cole Hamels starts for the Phillies and Barry Zito for the Giants; there is one photo of the Phillies tour group looking very unhappy in the stands. FYI – I was not on the official tour; I went on my own but did talk to many people on the tour who had a great time, except for all the losses :O(
I will be posting more photos from the non-baseball events in a few days and will put up a link to that when it is done for anyone who wants to see the sights from San Francisco. It will include whale watching, the zoo, aquarium, sea lions, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, different areas in the city, Sausalito, a few parks and more.
All photos by Jenn