Tagged: Roy Oswalt

Winning: It Just Keeps Happening

The Phillies 5-0 win over the Rockies Tuesday night marked their 5th straight win.  They also became the first team in baseball to reach 70 wins and continue to hold the best record in the game.  As a Phillies fan, life is good.

And the wins keep coming in unexpected ways.  Monday night was a late inning rally and extra inning victory.  Tuesday night, the Phillies watched their spot starter, Kyle Kendrick, absolutely baffle the Rockies hitters.

The word “baffle” is usually not used in the same sentence as the name “Kendrick,” unless it is Kendrick who looks confused, not the opposition.  Kendrick has been an up and down pitcher throughout his career in Philly.  It is that inconsistency that is partly the reason he has not earned a solid spot in the rotation.  The other part is, of course, the rest of the Phillies starting pitchers, who are outstanding.

 

But in this game, Kendrick looked like he could keep pace with the likes of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee.  Over eight innings, Kendrick allowed only four hits as he shut-out the Rockies.  Kendrick will go back to his home in the bullpen as a long-man once Roy Oswalt returns, but the value of a guy like Kendrick cannot be overlooked.

While Kendrick has pitched well, he has also benefitted from good run support.   Ryan Howard smacked two solo homers tonight.  Hunter Pence went 2-for-3 with an RBI and Brian Schneider drove in another run on a sac fly.

Back-up catcher Schneider is another example of how important it is to have a solid bench and players who are versatile.  He is not setting the world on fire with his bat by any means, but he calls a good game behind the plate and contributes on offense where he can.

The Phillies have a shot at sweeping this series tomorrow afternoon before what is sure to be a difficult series against the Giants.  Six straight wins would be very nice momentum going into San Francisco.

Game time Wednesday is 3:10pm; Roy Halladay will pitch in his hometown of Denver.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Mayberry Saves the Day in Win Over Rockies

In his previous three starts, the Phillies had scored a grand total of just six runs for pitcher Cole Hamels.  Tonight against the Rockies, the story was very much the same.

Hamels gave up a 2-run homer in the second inning, but nothing at all after that.  He even worked his way out of a bases loaded, one out jam in the fifth.  Hamels did all he could to keep his team in the game.

But once again, the offense offered Hamels little help.  And they were facing a pitcher, Jhoulys Chacin, who had not won a single game in his previous seven starts.  Still, the Phillies bats made Chacin look like a Cy Young award winner.

The Phillies managed to squeak out a run in the seventh on a Raul Ibanez double that scored Hunter Pence who ran the bases very well.  Pence also struck out in the eighth inning with two men on base.  But such was the theme of the night for the offense….at least through eighth innings.

In the ninth inning, something different happened.  The Phils could not hit Chacin, but the Rockies closer Huston Street was another story.  After a Carlos Ruiz double, John Mayberry Jr. was sent into to pinch hit.  Mayberry, who has not played much lately, made up for lost time with a huge, game-tying 2-run homer.

With a 3-3 score, Antonio Bastardo held the Rockies down to send the game to extra innings for the second Phillies game in a row.  Shane Victorino capitalized on the opportunity with a solo homer in the 10th to put the Phillies ahead, 4-3.

Ryan Madson earned the save in the 10th and Mayberry walked away a hero in this one.  Just when it looked like hope was lost for the struggling Phillies offense, Mayberry put them back in the hunt for the win.

Speaking of hunters, Mr. Pence has played in 3 Phillies games and so far, they have all been wins.  He must be wondering if he died and went to baseball heaven.  To answer his question: Yes…welcome to Philly (aka: Baseball Heaven)!

Game two with the Rockies is Tuesday night at 8:40pm; Kyle Kendrick will pitch.  It will likely be Kendrick’s last start as Roy Oswalt should be back from the DL very soon after two recent rehab starts.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Hunter Was The Hunted; Now, He Is A Phillie

July 29th has been a significant day in recent Phillies history.  On July 29, 2009, the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee.  That same day in 2010, they picked up Roy Oswalt.  And this year, Hunter Pence is the big prize.

A report from Phillies Beat Writer Todd Zolecki states that Pence will be sent from the Astros to the Phillies in exchange for Class A first baseman Jonathan Singleton, Class A pitcher Jarred Cosart and two yet unnamed prospects.

The best news of the night is that neither pitcher Vance Worley or outfielder Domonic Brown were included in the deal.  While the two named prospects are highly touted, the Phillies really pulled off an amazing deal without having to give up any major league talent.  This is another huge score for Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.

Pence, 28,  is a lifetime .290 hitter and 2-time All-Star who combines both power and speed.  Pence hit 25 home runs each year from 2008-2010 and had a career high 91 RBI’s last season.  In addition, Pence cannot become a free agent until the 2014 season, putting the Phillies in control for years to come.

With the addition of Pence and also Placido Polanco returning from the DL this weekend, two moves will have to be made.  My best guess is that Brown will be sent back to Triple-A to work on his game.  The second casualty could be John Mayberry Jr.

While the playoffs and the World Series are promised to no one, the addition of Pence certainly does improve the Phillies’ chances.

And in case you missed it amidst all the excitement, there was actually a game tonight.  The Phillies beat the Pirates by a score of 10-3 with Roy Halladay pitching seven one-hit innings.  Andrew Carpenter allowed three runs in the eighth.

The offensive highlights included Chase Utley coming up just a double short of hitting for the cycle.  His 3-run homer in the second inning put the Phillies far ahead very early. 

Shane Victorino also came close to hitting for the cycle, but missed out on the home run.  Jimmy Rollins smacked a 2-run homer in the seventh, but sadly for Victorino, he was not allowed to share the homer and help out his buddy Shane.

Oddly enough, Rollins hit that home run off pitcher Jason Grilli, who until a week ago was in the Phillies minor league system.  The Pirates picked him up after the Phillies released him on July 20, 2011.

This is now set up to be a very exciting weekend for the Phillies.  When Pence will be in the line-up probably depends on how soon he can get here from Houston.  Add Polanco back into the line-up and the Phillies are set up nicely for a strong run to the playoffs.

Game two with the Pirates is Saturday night at 7:05pm; Cliff Lee will pitch.

 

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Photo by http://blogs.houstonpress.com/

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Vance Worley Needs To Stay in Philadelphia…For Now

In Tuesday night’s 7-2 victory over the Giants, Phillies pitcher Vance Worley earned his seventh win of the year and lowered his ERA to 2.02.  It was also the rookie’s first career complete game.

In 11 starts for the Phillies this season, Worley has just one loss and a WHIP of 1.09.  He has also shown steady improvement between starts and gotten much better at keeping his pitch count down.

Filling in for the injured Joe Blanton, Worley has been outstanding.  As for Blanton, a recent report from Matt Snyder at CBS Sports indicates that Blanton has nerve damage in his elbow and he may be done for the year.

Once Roy Oswalt returns to the rotation, the Phillies will be using Worley as the fifth starter.  Kyle Kendrick is also available, but he has been more useful in a long relief role.  In nine starts, Kendrick has a 3-2 record and 3.97 ERA.  In relief, his ERA drops to 2.49.

Arguments to trade Worley include his rookie status, which some think gives him an edge as most teams have not faced him.  If that is the case, it is thought he may not be as good next year so the Phillies should trade him now.  J.A. Happ encountered the rookie curse after being traded to Houston where he has performed very poorly since a sparkling rookie campaign.

If Worley is traded now, while he is performing well, certainly he will be worth more.  However, if Worley continues to excel from now until the end of the season, he will be worth just as much in a trade during the offseason, before he has a chance to suffer from the sophomore slump.

With this in mind, it makes sense to keep him for the year, especially with the news on Blanton.

The Phillies could use an upgrade in the form of a right-handed bat, but losing Worley seems to steep a price right now.  If the Phillies could get Hunter Pence, Domonic Brown would be a better trade piece, along with some prospects.  Pence would be under team control, like Brown is now, and both the defense and offense would improve.

There are a number of other possibilities as well.  But if Worley goes in exchange for a right-handed bat, where would that person play?  Brown needs playing time if the Phillies plan on keeping him and developing him.  The rest of the positions seem pretty well set for the year, barring further injuries.

There is another option as well.  The Phillies do not have to make a trade if the right situation does not present itself.

The offense has improved since the All-Star break and bench players like John Mayberry Jr. and Michael Martinez have shown promise.  Mayberry is a power right-hander and Martinez is a switch hitter.  Also, Ben Francisco is batting .353 as a pinch-hitter.

Whether the Phillies decide to make a move or not, hopefully, Worley will be staying in Philadelphia…at least for now.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Philadelphia Phillies 2011 First Half Report Card

Having ended the first half of the season with a 57-34 record, the best in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies have much to look forward to in the second half.  And although many injuries and questions still loom in the background, the first half of play was very successful for this team.

What makes the first half even more remarkable is that the Phillies were able to win despite injuries and missed time from a bucket-full of All-Star caliber players including Chase Utley, Roy Oswalt, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco.

In the bullpen, the Phillies are currently on their fourth closer of the year as the first three all went on the DL.  First Brad Lidge, then Jose Contreras and finally, Ryan Madson.

The rest of the pen has been run primarily by rookies and inexperienced players over the last several month.  But these players have stepped up and are keeping hope alive.

The following  is a look at the Phillies 2011 First Half Report Card.

Starting Pitching:  A+

The Phillies ended the first half with the best ERA in baseball at 3.02, the fewest earned runs allowed with 279 plus 11 complete games and 13 shut-outs, both of which are also the most in baseball.

Both Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels have earned 11 wins each and their ERA’s are 2.45 and 2.32, respectively.  Those numbers have prompted talk of a Cy Young award for one of the two pitchers.  Cliff Lee has been outstanding as well with a 2.82 ERA and nine wins.

The starters have suffered some major injuries, including Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton, both of whom are on the DL.  But the rookie Vance Worley has filled in admirably with an occasional spot start from Kyle Kendrick.

Bullpen:   B+

The Phillies bullpen has had some real challenges this year, including a plethora of injuries.  But thanks to some very young, very solid talent, the pen has endured.

What was thought to be a major team weakness at the start of the year has turned into a strength in many ways.

Lefty Antonio Bastardo has been outstanding and probably should have earned an All-Star nod.  In 33 innings, Bastardo has allowed only three earned runs and has a microscopic ERA of 0.82.  He has also gone 5-for-5 in save attempts since the Phillies sent their first three closer to the DL.

Michael Stutes and Juan Perez have also been very nice surprises.  If Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson can come back healthy in the second half, the bullpen will only be that much stronger.

Offense:  C-

The Phillies offense for the first half ranks 20th in all of baseball and 10th in the National League with a .250 team batting average.  Statistically, this puts them below average.

But their 377 RBI moves them up the list a little, ranking 11th among all teams and 10th in on-base percentage with .323.

The first couple months were rough without Chase Utley, who is hitting .280 since his return.  But other top team hitters like Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco have missed time with injuries as well, making it difficult for manager Charlie Manuel to post any sort of consistent line-up on a regular basis.

Ryan Howard is tied for the league lead in RBI with 72, which has helped carry this weakened offense.  But with so many rookies in the line-up because of injuries, the other veteran players will need to step up in the second half.

Defense:  A-

Statistically, the Phillies have the best defense in the National League and are around fourth best in all of baseball with 45 errors and a .987 fielding percentage.  Many teams have similar numbers, but looking at the major categories, I would put them in about fourth place.

Among position players, Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard have the highest fielding percentages on the team with .996 and .995, respectively.  Howard has improved his defense greatly over the past couple of years.

This team has a very solid defense.  There were a few games this year where sloppy play brought that into question, but they are humans, not robots.  Overall, it was a very good first half for the defense.

Attendance:  A+

The Phillies ended the first half on Sunday with their 172nd consecutive home sellout.  They are also first in total attendance for all of baseball with 2,228,630 fans so far this year, according to ESPN.  The Yankees were second with 2,173,619 fans.

The Phillies keep winning, and the fans keep the party going. 

1st Half MVP:  Roy Halladay

Because their numbers are very similar, I was tempted to go with Cole Hamels on this one.  But with six complete games and the most innings pitched in the National League, I am giving the first half MVP to Roy Halladay.

This man is a beast.  In Tuesday night’s All-Star game, Brian Wilson of the Giants called Halladay a “Cyborg.”  That seems fitting.

There is nothing Halladay won’t do to help his team win.  With 11 wins, a 2.45 ERA and team-leading 138 strike-outs, Halladay is the MVP.

Most Memorable 1st Half Moment:  Tie, Wilson Valdez & Cliff Lee

This one had to be a draw, because both players provided Phillies fans with some amazing memories this year so far.

First, watching Wilson Valdez tow the rubber in the May 25th 5-4 win in 19 innings over the Reds was simply unforgettable.  The Phillies ran out of pitchers and Valdez volunteered.  He pitched one perfect inning and the Phillies won the game in the bottom of the 19th as a result of his effort.

Before this win by Valdez, the last player to start a game in the field and get the win as a pitcher was Babe Ruth in 1921.  But the best part was hearing Valdez joke after the game that he could have gone three or four more innings if needed.

And then this past Saturday, pitcher Cliff Lee provided another memorable moment.  In the third inning, after a 10-pitch at-bat and six foul balls, Lee smashed his 1st career home run off the Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson, who watched in disbelief.

Lee spent most of his career in the American League, with few chances to hit.  But Lee has remarked on many occasions that he prefers the National League because he loves to hit.  And that joy was all over his face as he rounded the bases in front of thousands of screaming fans who gave him a standing ovation.

Watching a man who truly loves the game of baseball be rewarded in a way that is rarely seen was a real treat.  Pitchers do not hit many home runs and it is even less common among pitchers of Lee’s caliber. 

That was a moment that both Lee and all of the Philadelphia fans watching will not soon forget.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Snooze-Fest Ends With a Walk-Off Win

There were a number of moves made right before tonight’s Phillies – Athletics match-up.  Catcher Brian Schneider came off the DL, while Roy Oswalt went on the DL.  With no need for a 3rd catcher, Dane Sardinha was sent back down and pitcher Scott Mathieson was recalled and added to the bullpen.  And J.C. Romero cleared waivers, declined a minor league offer and was then given his outright release.

And while that was a whole lot of movement in one day, no one expected these roster moves to be the big action of the night.  Because once the game started, it was nap time.

I like a pitcher’s duel as much as the next fan, but this game, although it remained hitless for a long, long time, was not your typical duel.  The pitching was not super sharp from either team and both sides issued a bunch of walks.

Despite the slight sloppiness, neither team earned a hit until two outs into the sixth inning.  Vance Worley’s no-hitter was broken up by a Hideki Matsui double.

In the bottom of the sixth, Placido Polanco got the first hit of the night for the Phillies with a single against Guillermo Moscoso.  Pronouncing Moscoso’s name was more entertaining than his pitching as the game dragged on with little action.

By the eighth inning, each team had only two hits.  And both teams had issued five walks each by the time the ninth inning began.  Several fans left in the stands appeared to be struggling to keep themselves upright.

As the yawns continued and the Phillies offense snoozed, even my cat fell asleep.  But a 0-0 ballgame is no time for a cat nap!

So in the 9th inning, Shane Victorino walked and Domonic Brown got his second single of the night.  A sac fly moved them into scoring position.  So with two outs, Ben Francisco stepped to the plate, determined to wake up all the sleepy fans in the stands.  He smacked an RBI-single to left for the walk-off win.

The Phillies just barely pulled off a 1-0 win to open this home stand.  And now, because it took them nine innings to wake me up, I will not be able to sleep for hours.  But when I finally do, at least I will have pleasant dreams ;o)

Cole Hamelspitches tomorrow!  And with any luck, the offense will join him in the effort; game time is 7:05pm.

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

More Injuries & a Blow-Out Loss

This has not been a good couple of days in the injury department for the Phillies.  Here is a quick look at the damage:

Jose Contreras was placed on the disabled list for the second time this season with elbow inflammation.  Lefty Juan Perez was called-up from the Triple-A Iron Pigs to take his roster spot.  Perez played for the Pirates in 2006 & 2007 for a short time, but has spent most of his seven-year career in the minors.

– The Phillie Phanatic suffered an injury as well.  While entertaining atop the first base dugout at an Iron Pigs game, the Phanatic was hit in the neck with a foul ball.  For the Phanatic’s best friend Tom Burgoyne, the neck area was actually Tom’s face.

The Phanatic went to the hospital; I am not sure whether they called a doctor, a veterinarian or an environmental biologist, but the Phanatic will not be joining Contreras on the DL.  He should be ready for the weekend series at CBP.

– And finally, Roy Oswalt was pulled from today’s game against the Cardinals after two innings where he allowed four runs.  After about one out in the second, Oswalt began teetering sideways off the mound after his delivery.  It got worse as the inning went on, where he began hopping and stumbling after pitches while grabbing his lower back.

Why no one else saw this is curious.  I was screaming at the TV, but sadly, no one heard me ;o)  Oswalt was left in to finish the inning and reports are that he has back spasms.

I suppose the spasms are no surprise; Oswalt has a history of back issues and has been on the DL once already this season with the same issue.  In his last four starts, Oswalt has allowed 15 runs in only 21.1 innings.

As for the new bullpen piece, Perez pitched the seventh and walked two batters, but did not allow a run.  Kyle Kendrick pitched the 3rd-6th innings and gave up two runs, adding to Oswalt’s four.

So with 6 runs, the Cardinals were ready to run away with the game as the Phillies offense was lulled to sleep.  It did matter too much though as Danys Baez put the game well out of reach for the Phillies in the 8th inning.  He walked in a run, gave up a 3-run homer and ended up with six earned runs handed over to the Cards.  You could say he added insult to all the injuries.

The Phillies went down in flames by a score of 12-2.  They travel back home tonight to go back to Interleague play.  The Athletics are first on the schedule; Vance Worley will pitch at 7:05pm.

An NL East Update

This has been a weird week overall for the NL East.  First, the Marlins manager Edwin Rodriguez suddenly quit after the Fish went on a real bender, losing 18 of 19 games in the month of June.

Not to be outdone, the Nationals manager Jim Riggleman one-upped Rodriguez.  After the Nationals WON 11 of their last 12 games, the opposite of the Marlins month, Riggleman gave the Nats an ultimatum.  He told his GM in a meeting they needed to extend his contract then and there or he would not get on the bus for the Nats next game.

Riggleman quit, just like that.  And just like that, he will probably never work in baseball again.  Who in their right mind would hire a guy who just quits when he does not get his way?  It was unprofessional and just plain stupid.  I do not care how disrespected he felt that his contract was not extended sooner.  If the team felt it should wait until the end of the year, then he should have just waited it out.  Abandoning his team like that is just wrong.   Nats fans should be livid.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*