The Atlanta Braves did not think it was very sunny in Philadelphia after losing to the Phillies by a score of 7-3. Even in blinding sunshine and near 100 degree temperatures, it was a dark day for the Braves.
Rookie pitcher Jonathan Pettibone was outstanding against a heavy-hitting Braves line-up. Freddie Freeman was so frustrated after striking out at one point that he smashed his bat into the ground, picked it up and then smashed it again. And B.J. Upton was thrown out of the game after mouthing off to the umpire about calling him out on strikes in the 5th inning.
Pettibone went only 5.1 innings, likely due to the excessive heat. It was obvious he was getting tired. But he did manage to leave with only 1 run allowed.
Both the Phillies offense and defense were solid. Domonic Brown had 2 hits, including his 23rd homer of the year. Darren Ruf, starting for Ryan Howard who is now on the DL, had a hit, a walk and scored twice. Carlos Ruiz added 2 hits as well.
The only defensive snafu was when Michael Young, who has been not great at third base lately, nearly ran over Jimmy Rollins going after a pop-up:
And for the most part, the Phillies bullpen held steady. J.C. Ramirez allowed 2 runs in the 6th; those were his first runs allowed since being called up. Aside from that, things were mostly quiet from the 6th inning on.
The Phillies took 2 of 3 from the Braves with this win today. Still, with Howard’s future uncertain and a very young and inexperienced bullpen, this team is going to have to annihilate the Nationals this week to keep GM Ruben Amaro Jr. from breaking up the team.
Here is the Photo Album from today’s game, including shots of Roy Halladay actually throwing pitches before the game! The Doc may not be done just yet…
Game time Monday night is 7:05pm. John Lannan will pitch.
The Phillies have lost 3 of their last 4 games and there are still more questions about this team than there are answers. Perhaps the biggest question right now is about the Big Piece, Ryan Howard.
Take a look at the timeline for Howard this past week and a half:
Howard had a cortisone injection on May 19th; he was back in the line-up May 21st and feeling better. By May 23rd, he needed a break again. He started the next 2 games and went 1-8. On May 26th, he sat out, but pinch hit into a double play later in the game. And last night against the Red Sox, Howard was visibly uncomfortable; he went 2-5 with a double play and a huge base running blunder where he got picked off at 2nd base. He appeared to be having great difficulty running.
All of this is very bad news. The MRI Howard had showed inflammation and changes in the meniscus, which basically means he has cartilage tears. If the cortisone injection lasted only a few days before he felt discomfort again, the options for treatment during the season will be limited. And he will be doing further damage to the cartilage as the season progresses and he continues to pound that knee.
And the plot thickens: According to manager Charlie Manual, “He has some arthritis. It comes and goes in his legs. He’s going to always be bothered by that.” Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease which has no cure. It can be caused by wear and tear as one gets older, or it can result from an injury. In Howard’s case, it could be due to the extra stress on his knee after his Achilles surgery.
Whatever the cause, it is beginning to look like Howard’s 5-year, $125 million contract is going to be one of the biggest bust’s in baseball history. With all the recent injuries, plus the arthritis, Howard will likely never be the same player again…at least, not the one they paid $125 million for.
And with the way this team is currently constructed, having neither Howard nor Chase Utley (currently on the DL with an oblique strain) healthy spells disaster. There is no way, with the age and the injuries on this team, that the Phillies can contend.
Remember all of the criticism Spring Training that that this team was too old and too injury-prone to win? Remember Howard’s response to that criticism? He told the media, “Just don’t be surprised,” basically saying that they were going to prove all the critics wrong.
Well, it is May 28th; the Phillies are in third place and have lost 3 of their last 4 games in spectacularly bad fashion. The following key players are all on the DL: Utley, Roy Halladay (will miss at least most of the year), Carlos Ruiz and John Lannan. There are 2 rookies pitching in the rotation. The bullpen is horrible. The offense is non-existent. The fielding errors and base running blunders are piling up.
As much as I hate to be a pessimist, stick a fork in them; I believe this team may be done.
Although, Howard is certainly welcome to prove me wrong…
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In a year full of drama for the Phillies, Cliff Lee stepping on the mound is a sight for sore eyes. The same can be said when he steps to the plate as well. In a complete game shut-out of the Marlins last night, Lee also collected 2 hits, giving him a team-leading .316 batting average. And his .350 on-base percentage is second only to Michael Young (.378) among active Phillies.
Simply put, Cliff Lee is amazing.
Yet those offensive numbers are a bit disturbing in another respect. When your ace pitcher is leading the team in average and OBP, there are some serious problems. Granted, Lee only plays once every 5 games, but it is still a somewhat revealing statistic on a team that has struggled to score runs.
There was some offense last night though, and some signs of life all around. Although they only scored 3 runs, most guys hit the ball well and as team, they collected 12 hits, which is way better than their usual production this year. On Tuesday night with Tyler Cloyd pitching, the Phillies racked up 7 runs on 15 hits in the win.
But again, this has been a pattern; the Phillies have 1 or 2 games with solid offense and then they go right back to not being able to hit the broad side of a barn. And with the injuries mounting, can they get any kind of consistency?
The latest injury to Chase Utley is extremely worrisome. Utley was finally having a good year, after missing time in both of the previous 2 seasons with knee issues. Now, it appears he has an oblique strain of some sort; he will have an MRI today and will likely be put on the DL along with Roy Halladay, Mike Adams, John Lannan and Carlos Ruiz. Stay tuned…
Today is an off day as the team travels to Washington to take on the Nationals. News on Utley should be coming very soon…cross your fingers!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
I returned from my trip to the Galapagos Islands this weekend just in time to attend today’s Phillies – Reds game. But before we get to that, check out what my little friend the Phanatic was up to on our trip to his homeland. He visited 5 different islands, some beaches and even a distant relative, the Marine Iguana:
Yes, the Phanatic and I had a lovely vacation where we swam with sharks, rays, turtles and fish and wandered the land with giant tortoises. It was amazing!
I had to catch up on my Phillies news when I returned and it appears much has happened. Roy Halladay is having surgery (yikes!), the Phils signed hot-head Carlos Zambrano to a minor league deal (double-yikes!), Raul Valdes became the first regular bullpen guy to get sent down to the minors (more may be coming), Mike Adams has a bad back (oh my…), Tyler Cloyd started a game, Kyle Kendrick returned to earth in a loss yesterday after an amazing start to the season….and oh yeah, the offense still sucks. Did I miss anything?
All that drama aside, the Phillies did manage to pull out a win today, which based on the first 7 ½ innings, did not look likely. Jonathan Pettibone was very solid again, only allowing 2 runs, and the defense backed him up.
But once again the offense was asleep and the feeling of dread grew deeper when Carlos Ruiz was pulled from the game with a strained hamstring.
Finally, the Phillies scratched out a run in the 8th, thanks to Ben Revere legging out a base hit. Revere led the team with 3 hits today. Then in the 9th, it appeared as if the Phils were going down in flames, despite getting the first runner of the inning on base against flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman. Because as soon as Cliff Lee came in to pinch run for Delmon Young, he got picked off at first. Ugh.
But when Erik Kratz smacked a home run to tie the game, the tide turned quickly. Freddy Galvis was up next and hit a line-drive homer just over the left field wall for the walk-off win! It was the first time Chapman gave up more than one homer in a game…ever. Go figure.
So even after a 0-10 pounding on Saturday, the Phillies still walked away with the series win and, hopefully, some momentum going into Miami tomorrow. Game time is 7:10pm.
And here is the Photo Album from today’s win.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
In only a few short days, many things have changed for the Phillies. Roy Halladay was placed on the DL with what is still a mystery injury. The entire team appeared lifeless and ready to give up. Then a cross-country road trip suddenly gave the Phillies unexpected energy. They have taken the first 2 games of this series against the Giants who were the hottest team in baseball coming into this series.
So is this the team we have waited to see all year, blown in by the western winds of AT&T Park? Or is this another 2-game mirage? Let us examine the evidence:
Both games ended in a 6-2 score. Both Chase Utley and Michael Young have 4 hits each and at least 2 RBI in the series. Utley, Ryan Howard and Dom Brown each homered. The pitching was very good.
On the other side of the coin, the Phils still left 16 runners on base total between the 2 games. Jimmy Rollins only has 1 hit and a sac fly. Delmon Young is hitting .150. Yikes! The other Young still loves hitting into double plays; he leads the majors with 10.
So, mirage or the real deal? Sadly, there are still too many inconsistencies and guys not getting hits to go with “real deal” just yet. But finishing the series with a sweep today would certainly be a huge boost.
Jonathan Pettibone will pitch today at 3:45pm. In other news, Tyler Cloyd has been called up to temporarily take Halladay’s spot in the rotation. The Phillies are expected to make a corresponding roster move Thursday or Friday.
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So, anyone else out there sit in traffic for hours just to watch the Phillies get slaughtered by the Marlins? Oh yes, the Broad Street Run was exiting just as people were arriving to the game, plus 95 north closed due to a huge tractor-trailer fire/accident. It was the perfect storm.
I did leave very early, so my usual 1 ½ hour drive was about 2 ½ hours. Others were not as lucky. And certainly no one was happy with the end result, whether they made it to the game or not.
Prior to the game, the Phanatic unknowingly gave us a little foreshadowing of the events to come. Here he is, literally licking the boots of the Marlins catcher, much to the amusement of the entire Marlins squad:
And then the real fun began…Roy Halladay gave up 5 runs in the 1st inning, a grand slam in the 3rd inning and was pulled from the game after only 2 1/3 innings with 9 runs allowed on 4 hits and 4 walks. His head hung low as he exited the field:
Afterwards, Halladay revealed that he has been experiencing shoulder pain for several weeks, something he neglected to tell the team prior to this and his previous start. Expect to see Doc on the DL shortly…
And as usual, the offense did absolutely nothing all day long. Marlins pitcher Kevin Slowey had not had a win in the major leagues since 2010 (*%!@!), yet the Phils managed only 2 hits off him. They did avoid the shut-out, with 2 runs in the 8th inning, thanks mostly to Marlins shoddy defense. But not much else was working for the Phillies.
The relief staff added 4 more runs to the happy Fish who were rounding the bases quite swimmingly. And they are no longer the worst team in baseball with 2 straight wins over the Phils. Way to go, Phillies, helping out your Marlins buddies. The final score was 2-14…eeekk!
To end on a high note, it was Mother’s Appreciation Day at the ballpark. Chase Utley’s mom joined him on the field and the Phanatic brought him mom as well.
We also got a cute Utley tote bag when entering the ballpark, which was the only bright spot of the day. But if you’d like to see more photos anyway (some of them are pretty good, even if the game sucked), here is the Photo Album.
The Giants are up next as the team travels to San Francisco. As for me, I will also be getting on a plane in a few days to head to the birthplace of the Phanatic…the Galapagos Islands! I hope to check in from there if the internet connection cooperates. It is a shame I cannot take the Phanatic with me, but I think he has his hands very full right now keeping fans entertained while the Phils flounder :O(
Game time tomorrow is 10:15pm EST.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
After getting destroyed by the Indians earlier this week, the Phillies have won their first 2 games against the lowly Marlins. Both Kyle Kendrick and rookie Jonathan Pettibone pitched well and the offense even managed to score some runs. Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown hit home runs in each of the 2 games.
But keep in mind, all of this was against the smelly Fish, who did not have their best little fishy, Giancarlo Stanton, in the line-up. With an 8-22 record, this team sucks. So please excuse me for not being too impressed with these wins. The Phillies beat bad teams in April as well, but they did not beat too many good ones. So if they finish out this series strong and then give the San Francisco Giants a big-boy spanking, then I might be a little more excited.
What was sort of exciting this week was reading all the stories about the verbal spat between Phillies pitching coach and former-Phil’s closer turned baseball analyst, Mitch Williams. Apparently, Rich Dubee yelled at Williams in Spring Training for trying to interfere with his pitchers. Then this week, Mitchy-Poo went off via the WIP radio show on Dubee for not helping Phillies pitchers fix their mechanical issues.
There is nothing like a good dose of man-on-man hissy-fit drama early in the morning…yum!
But the best part was yet to come…When asked about Mitchy-Poo’s comments, Roy Halladay came to Dubee’s rescue like a knight on a white horse. A normally reserved Halladay called Williams, “the mechanical wonder,” and said he was “completely out of line.” Doc even demanded that Williams “make amends” for his criticism of Dubee.
And in his usual no-nonsense/smarty-pants style, Dubee suggested that Williams “submit a resume” if he wants to be a pitching coach. Oh my.
I’ll say this about it, having spoken to both guys in the past on a variety of occasions. Mitchy-Poo is a guy who, right or wrong, always speaks his mind. I have a great deal of respect for him in that regard. He speaks from his heart. Dubee is very similar; he does not take crap from anyone and will always tell it like it is.
Once in the bullpen at a charity event, Dubee was showing me how to toss a fastball. I quickly realized I had forgotten to take a ring off that I was wearing. In order not to remove my glove and be quick about it, I pulled the ring off with my mouth, spit it into my palm and shoved in my pocket. Dubee folded his arms, grinned and said, “What, you can’t toss a pitch with that rock on your finger?” He then made a sarcastic comment about me trying to throw a spitball. After that, I was videotaping him working in the pen with someone else, and he asked me if I was going to use that video against him later.
Dubee loves a good joke; he is a naturally funny guy, whether he is trying to be or not. And he treats everyone the same, which I love about him. I did not want to be babied in the bullpen just because I was a girl and I was not disappointed.
So maybe Williams should not be butting in with Phillies pitching, but then again, he is just doing his job as an analyst. And Dubee is doing his job, protecting his players. Both are good guys with good hearts.
In that case, who is right and who is wrong is sort of a mute point. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, I do think this little drama might inadvertently be a very good thing for the Phillies. If Phillies pitchers want to defend the honor of their pitching coach, there is only one way to do that effectively…win!
Head shot and photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography