Yesterday, it was Fish Fry with a 3-game sweep of the Marlins in Miami. Tonight, it was a cub clubbing in Philly. Perhaps Animal Control needs to issue a citation to the Phillies for animal cruelty? On second thought, nah…
To continue their assault on nature, the Phillies uprooted Ted Lilly of the Cubs and put 9 runs on the board during Lilly’s short 4 innings of work. The delicate flower was no match for the bashing of the Phillies’ bats; especially that of Raul Ibanez who plucked Lilly’s petals with a 3 run homer in the 1st inning. And that homer came with two outs and two strikes on Ibanez after Ryan Howard failed to score any runners by striking out in the previous at-bat. Just when it looked like Lilly may live to bloom another day, Ibanez went in for the kill.
The offense did not end there: Carlos Ruiz joined in later and nailed a 2 run homer and had 3 RBI in the game; Shane Victorino went 2 for 4 and in the 8th, Howard made up for a few bad at-bats with a solo home run. Chase Utley was 1 for3 and also had an RBI in the game.
Rodrigo Lopez finally got another start after leaving early in his last outing with a sore shoulder. Looks like the shoulder is doing well; Lopez got through 6 innings and allowed just one run. Chad Durbin was handed the ball next and given an opportunity for a save by going the final 3 innings. Durbin did the job and notched the Phillies 9th win in row!
Jack Nicholson attended the game tonight and sat behind home plate wearing a Yankees hat. The Phanatic tried to convert him to a Philly-Phaithful by doing his best Joker impersonation, but the hat remained. So here is a little help from Photo Shop to convert Mr. Nicholson:
How about JA Happ? This kid is making a case for Rookie of the Year, without a doubt. He notched his 7th win yesterday in the 5-0 win over the Marlins and his ERA is now 2.68 with no losses recorded. Happ has allowed only 6 runs in his last 5 starts. And last night, Pedro Feliz did his best to lose the game for Happ by committing 2 official errors and had one other ball fly off his glove that should have been, but was not counted as an error. Feliz helped load the bases at one point, on what should have been an easy double play ball, but Happ never rattled and pitched out of the jam. His command and above all, his poise on the mound, make it hard to believe he is a rookie. Happ has the ultimate poker face; you never know what he is thinking or feeling.
And that composure is exactly why the Phillies would be insane to trade him, even for the likes of Roy Halladay, as has been rumored. Happ has pitched as well as Halladay since being promoted to the starting rotation. I agree with going after Halladay, but not if the trade involves Happ. And so this is my plea to the Phillies as the trade deadline draws closer…please, please, please – KEEP JA HAPP! It would be a monumental mistake to let him go. Mark my words.
Utley Photo by Jenn
Tonight the Phillies faced the Reds in game 3 of this 4-game series and drama ensued. Homer Bailey started the game for the Reds and true to his name, gave up a homer to Jayson Werth in the 6th inning, Werth’s 19th of the season. What a horrible name for a pitcher…Homer. Poor guy. But for most of the game, he was very good and kept the Phillies hitters off balance.
The home plate umpire, Ron Kulpa, created a lot of controversy with his rather large strike zone; 20 strikeout’s were recorded in the game and 14 of those batters went down looking. And so the game remained very tight throughout.
VOTE FOR SHANE!
The Phillies entered the 9th inning with a 2-2 tie and needed a hero to nail this one down. With 2 outs and 2 on, The Flyin’ Hawaiian, Shane Victorino, stepped to the plate and solidified his campaign for an All-Star roster spot. Shane singled into centerfield and Pedro Feliz scored to win the game, 3-2!
VOTE FOR SHANE!
Rules of Engagement
One of the more entertaining aspects of tonight’s game, as I mentioned earlier, was watching the Reds hitters argue and scream and cuss at the home plate umpire, Ron Kulpa. To sum it up, basically every pitch was bound to be called a strike. But he called it the same way for both side. Yet, no less than 3 Reds players got right up in his face and yelled about strike calls. It makes you wonder, why were none of these players thrown out of the game? Not that I like watching guys get tossed, but how much grief is any umpire supposed to take? Granted, this was one of the worst umpiring jobs I have seen in a long time, but the Phillies maintained controlled and did not try to rip his head off like the Reds did. In fact, it is a rule that no one is allowed to argue balls and strikes (Official baseball rules section 9.02(a)). After the first or second player, the ump needs to start ejecting guys. Just sayin’…
Rodrigo Lopez did a great job through 5 innings tonight, but was removed from the game early with right shoulder inflammation. That is certainly not good news. However, maybe the push to get a quality starting pitcher like Roy Halladay of the Jays will reach a new level with the possibility of Lopez no longer being available.
The Phillies front office has been insistent that certain minor league prospects are “untouchable” but frankly, that attitude will not get them far when competing with other teams who are more flexible. Understanding the value of prospects in the farm system, teams need also be reminded of the value of winning, and winning right now. With the Phillies core players in place, coming off a World Championship, the window of opportunity to win it again will likely only remain open for a few years. So, if they need to give up 2-3 big prospects to get another ring, it seems like a fair trade off.
If the Phillies can get a #1 starter like Halladay, they would be foolish to let him go to another team. Last year, they did miss out on CC Sabathia and even Manny Ramirez, and yes, they still won it all. But the 2009 team has run into pitching trouble after losing Brett Myers, who was a big part of the World Series win. The bullpen has been overworked and their production is way down from 2008. This is a different team; the Phillies need a big starter if they are to have a shot at repeating.
VOTE as many times as you are able to! Humans and rodents alike have until tomorrow at 4pm to get Shane in!
The clock is ticking! Shane Victorino has a chance to go to the All-Star game in St. Louis but he needs our help! Gizmo the Chinchilla has been typing away all day long, but his little paws are getting tired. Won’t you please help him out? You can
VOTE as many times as you are able to! Humans and rodents alike have until tomorrow at 4pm to get Shane in!
Photo by Jenn
Could the Mets be the cure for the bad baseball bug that has bitten the Phillies lately? Today’s 7-2 win that rocked Citizens Bank Park was definitely a good start. Another good start today was that of new Phillies pitcher, Rodrigo Lopez, who stunned Philadelphia fans with his excellent ball control and ability to throw strikes. Throwing strikes does seem to be the object of the game, but not many Phillies pitchers have given that a try recently. So Lopez’s emergence from AAA after his recovering from Tommy-John surgery is a welcome surprise.
But is Lopez that good or are the Mets just that bad right now? It may be a little of both, but Lopez certainly did show promise. And this guy is no stranger to the big leagues; Lopez pitched 5 years with the Baltimore Orioles and part of 2007 with the Rockies before his injury. The experience showed tonight as he was very poised on the mound and unshaken by the large, raucous crowd. Lopez pitched 6 1/3 innings of 2 run ball and walked only 1 batter. If he can repeat this a few more times, the Phillies will be more than happy to keep him around.
The Phillies offense finally found a groove tonight as well.
The top of the line-up led the charge, with Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Chase Utley each collecting at least 2 hits each. Utley & Rollins had 2 RBI a piece as well. Maybe Charlie Manuel finally grabbed these guys by the throat and shook them around until some offense fell out, like coins from a piggy bank? Whatever the case, everyone hopes he did not break the bank in one night.
Ryan Madson, who was sorely in need of a clean inning after a horrific few weeks, pitched the 9th with a 5 run lead. John Mayberry Jr. lent a hand by making a diving grab in the outfield. That out helped get Madson through it and he nailed down a scoreless, hitless inning. Madson can now exhale and hopefully, get things back on track.
With two more games coming up against the rival Mets, there may still be a light at the end of the tunnel for the Phillies if they can continue to play with the same intensity they did today. Jamie Moyer will kick things off tomorrow at 4:05pm on the 4th of July! With any luck, the offense will provide the fireworks.
Rollins & Manuel Photo by Jenn
Lopez photo: http://theoriolereport.com/
Where has the NLCS and the World Series MVP gone? Certainly, he is not the same pitcher who is currently 4-5 with a 4.98 ERA? Oh heck, make it an even 5.00. And tonight, his problems were more magnified than ever; Cole Hamels pitched only 4+ innings and allowed 7 earned runs as the Phillies went down 1-11. Seven runs against an Atlanta team that everyone said had NO offense; well, I guess they were just waiting for the Phillies to come to town.
But what is the problem with Hamels? First, he is leaving way too many pitches up in the zone. This is not his typical style, but suddenly, it has become a real issue. Second, he is pitching frustrated. In recent days, the previously cool and confident Hamels has become a whiny crybaby with the umpires and has a general look of dissatisfaction on his face all the time. But why? For a guy who has had this much success at a young age, he has no reason to pout…with the exception maybe of his last several outings. He was the 2008 World Series MVP…he bought a brand new luxury condo in Philly…his wife is expecting their first child…everyone worships him. So, what is the issue? Where did the smile go?
Then again, this entire team has seemingly lost their Mojo over the past month. Just ask Jimmy Rollins; in fact, the only guy who’s Mojo appears untouchable is Chase Utley who is still batting .301 despite his team’s struggles. And where has Ryan Howard’s big bat disappeared to? He has not hit a home run since June 20th (that is 32 at-bats) and is hitting .240 overall this past month. The most feared offensive team in the league has turned into a welcome relief to opposing pitchers who are now anxious to mow the Phillies down.
This is where Charlie Manuel’s short comings will come to light. Don’t get me wrong, I love Charlie. He has been the manager that this team has needed and he performed THE miracle by bringing the World Series Championship home. And Charlie is a super nice guy; but that is exactly the issue. He is too nice sometimes. Sorry Charlie, but it is time to start banging heads together in that clubhouse. The “nice” approach worked for two games, and now, they are right back in a funk.
Not only that, but he should manage without worrying about making everyone happy. When asked why he started Paul Bako at catcher tonight, a career bench guy, Manuel said he felt that because Bako was there with the team, he needed to play sometime. I hate to disagree, but as the manager, Manuel does not owe anyone anything. It is not Manuel’s job to soothe ego’s; it is his job to win games. And no offense to Bako, but he is hardly the spark plug this team needs right now. Forget about getting guys their playing time; play the guys who will produce. And if Rollins cannot hit, move him down in the line-up. There is no sense in him getting 5 at-bats a game when other players are hitting better. No one cares how unhappy it makes Rollins, and neither should Charlie. Get him out of the funk, then move him back. Jimmy should be willing to do what is best for the team, and he knows that. A little tough love is in order here. The rest of the NL East is creeping right up on top of the Phillies and they will be out of first place this week if nothing changes.
The New Starter?
Rodrigo Lopez will, at least for now, occupy the hole left in the line-up by Brett Myers who is down for the season after hip surgery. Lopez pitched for the Rockies in 2007, then had Tommy-John surgery. Coming back from his injury, he signed a minor league deal with the Phils in March and has gone 5-4 with a 3.91 ERA in 13 starts this season with the AAA Iron Pigs.
Most expected to see Carlos Carassco in this spot, but that is not the way it will pan out. However, this move may be a sign that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has a trade in the works and did not want to bring up a young gun for a spot start. If you are going to bring in a guy like Carassco, you are probably thinking that he will be in long term. Since they did not do that, it leads me to think there may be something cooking. Let us hope so…
Last Day To Vote
Hamels Photos by Jenn
Eminem by http://graphicshunt.com