Tagged: Ryan Madson

Grieving the Phillies 2011 Season – Stage 1: Denial

I have embarked on a mission to cleanse myself of the horror and grief surrounding the untimely end to the Phillies 2011 Season.  I simply cannot continue to carry this overwhelming sense of emptiness and loss  around much longer.  It is like a funeral around here, and that is never much fun.

2006-06-30-denialHowever, I have still not gotten past the Denial stage.  Frankly, I refuse to believe this actually happened.  How did a team with such talent managed to get knocked off in the first freaking round of the playoffs?

No.  I tell you it is just not possible.

I will not cry over the death of the 2011 Phillies because I refuse to acknowledge that they are gone.  If they were actually gone, that would mean that free agents like Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Madson and Raul Ibanez could be gone for good.

That would also mean, so I have been told, that no fewer than five Phillies are headed for off-season surgery with real potential to totally screw up next season as well.  Ryan Howard needs Achilles tendon surgery, both Placido Polanco and Hunter Pence have sports hernias and Ross Gload needs hip surgery.

But maybe the biggest bombshell of them all is Cole Hamels who will have TWO surgeries back to back starting on Friday.  Hamels will have “loose bodies” removed from his elbow and then a week later, inguinal hernia surgery.

Oh please, say it ain’t so.  No one even knew Hamels was hurt!  And Howard?  He could miss the start of the season.

No, no, no….this is just NOT happening!

Ugh.

Stay tuned for Stage 2…

 

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

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

Big Ben Unlikely Hero In Game 3 Win

With the NLDS series tied 1-1 between the Phillies and the Cardinals, Game 3 was going to be big for the winner.  The Phillies had not been able to hit Cards starter Jaime Garcia in previous meetings, so for the Phillies, this was not an easy task.

Equally intimidating, Cole Hamels pitched for the Phillies.  Over 6 innings, he did not allow a single run.  But multiple base runners and deep counts ran Hamels out of the game earlier than the Phillies would have liked.

Big Ben Francisco There was no score by the time Hamels was out of the game, but an unlikely hero emerged in the top of the 7th inning to keep Hamels in-line for the win.  Shane Victorino singled to start the inning and later, Carlos Ruiz was intentionally walked to bring up Big Ben Francisco.

Outfielder Francisco  was a relative non-factor most of the year after the emergence of John Mayberry Jr. and the acquisition of Hunter Pence.  He hit only 6 homers the entire regular season and saw limited at-bats.

But on the one night the Phillies really needed a hero, Big Ben stepped up with a 3-run blast in the 7th.  Even better, the bomb came off a pitch from Garcia who suddenly lost some of his command in that inning.  Finally, the Phillies hit Garcia and took a 3-0 lead.

The Phillies bullpen made the final 3 inning a real adventure though.  Vance Worley gave up a run in the 7th.  Then he and Brad Lidge combined to load the bases in the 8th.  But Ryan Madson, brought into the game earlier than usual, coaxed a double play ball to end the threat.  Madson did give up a run later in the 9th, but still earned the save.

This was a huge win for the Phillies who now need only one more win to erase the Cards and advance to the NLCSRoy Oswalt will pitch tomorrow night; game time is 6:00pm.

 

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Clip Cardinals’ Wings in Game 1

Game 1 of the Phillies – Cardinals NLDS looked like a party before the game began:

100111 deco

Then after scoring 3 runs off Phillies ace Roy Halladay in the first inning, the Cardinals were given false hopes of possibly winning the game.  After all, Halladay does not usually implode in this fashion, so those 3 runs looked like a killer blow.

100111 Halladay

The fans were very quiet after that, especially when the Phillies offense got themselves out, making Kyle Lohse toss only 6 pitches in each of the first two innings.  The mood was so depressing, it felt like a funeral.

But in the bottom of the 4th, the Phillies offense showed signs of life, with a little help from a Cards error.  Chase Utley doubled, Ryan Howard walked and then Shane Victorino hit what should have been an easy pop-up.  But David Freese dropped the ball, giving Victorino a second chance.  He took advantage with an RBI-single for the Phillies first run of the game.

100111 other

By the 6th inning, the Phillies had finally figured out Lohse.  After Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence singles, Howard delivered a huge blow with a 3-run bomb, giving the Phils a 4-3 lead.  Raul Ibanez added on with a 2-run shot later in the inning.

100111 Homers

As the Phillies added on, Halladay found his groove.  He did not allow a single hit to the Cards after the 2nd inning.  Halladay went eight innings, allowing only the 3 runs in the 1st.  This guy is amazing.

With an 11-3 lead, the Phillies decided to save Halladay’s arm for another day and gave the 9th inning to Michael Stutes.  It seemed like a good situation to baptize the rookie into his 1st postseason appearance.  However, it did not work out too well for Stutes.

Stutes wound up getting charged with 3 runs in 1/3 of an inning and closer Ryan Madson had to be brought in to clean up the mess.  So the final score was 11-6.  Worse for Stutes, this huge blunder has pretty much rendered him useless for the rest of the series.

So on to Game 2 Sunday night at 8:37pm.  The good mood of the Phillies players Phillies and coaches yesterday is sure to carry over:

100111 Hello

Here is the full Photo Album from Game 1…enjoy!

Go Phillies!

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Roster in Place, the Phillies Are Ready for the NLDS

Game 1 of the NLDS is scheduled for a 5:07 start tonight.  Here is the post-season roster for the Phillies:

  • Catchers (2): Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider.
  • Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez.
  • Outfielders (6): Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry Jr., Ben Francisco and Ross Gload.
  • Pitchers (11): Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Roy Oswalt, Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Vance Worley, Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton.
  • Extras: Infielder Pete Orr and Catcher Erik Kratz will travel with the team. RHP Justin De Fratus, LHP Joe Savery and outfielder Domonic Brown will work out in Clearwater, FL and Outfielders John Bowker and Brandon Moss and RHP Michael Schwimer have been sent home.

The only slightly interesting move here is that Blanton was chosen for the roster instead of David Herndon, despite missing most of the season with injuries.  The Phillies chose experience over a younger guy, even though Herndon was with the team most of the year.

As for the pitching match-ups in the series, here are the probable starters for the Phillies and Cardinals:

  • Game 1: Roy Halladay vs. Kyle Lohse (ex-Phillie)
  • Game 2: Cliff Lee vs. Chris Carpenter (on 3 days rest)
  • Game 3: Cole Hamels vs. Jaime Garcia

These are some odd moves by Tony LaRussa.  It will either turn out to be genius, or a huge mistake.  The Phillies should be able to handle Lohse and will then get Carpenter on short rest.  That is another situation they can probably take advantage of.

The pitcher the Phils have the most trouble with is Garcia, who was pushed back to Game 3 because his home numbers are much better than his road numbers.

This all seems to add up to a Phillies advantage, however, that remains to be seen.  Also of note, Game 2 has been pushed back to 8:37pm (ugh) on Sunday due to the Yankees – Tigers rain postponement.

I also wanted to share with you an article I just read about how Danys Baez has helped Antonio Bastardo out of his recent pitching funk.  Baez was released by the Phillies in July and was not picked up by another team.  He has been sitting at home in Miami watching and noticed Bastardo, a player he previously mentored, was having problems.  He reached out to Bastardo and helped him find the issues in his mechanics.

Bastardo has bounced back since then and it seems that Baez is the reason.  The story made me a little sad, thinking about how much criticism Baez took while he was in Philly from fans and media.  For him to swallow his pride and reach out to an ex-teammate like that is a sign of true character.  He may not have been the bullpen solution the Phillies hoped for, but he gets huge brownie points in my book for just being a great guy.

Hope to see you all at the game tonight!  Go Phillies!

 

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Clinch 5th Straight NL East Title

For the 5th straight year, the Phillies are National League East Champs!  A 9-2 win over the Cardinals sealed the division.

The winning pitcher was Roy Oswalt who did not allow a single run through seven innings.  Oswalt seems to finally have his mojo back after suffering a good part of the year with back issues.  But tonight, he was spot-on.

The celebration began a little bit early in the eighth inning.  Going into the eighth, the Phillies were in a tight 3-2 game.  But Raul Ibanez rode in like a knight on a white horse, blowing the game wide open when he smashed a grand slam.  The crowd exploded and the party carried right through to the end of the game.

Although it was not a save situation, Ryan Madson was given the 9th inning, which was fitting.  After going through four closers this year due to injuries, Madson has established himself as the go-to guy.  He deserved to be on the mound to close out the game.

Chase Utley made the final play with a little bit of flash as he barehanded a hopping grounder and tossed to first.  For a guy who is normally all grit and no glitter, it was fun to see him add a bit of style to the final out.

To kick off the champagne celebration, the Phillies gathered around Hunter Pence.  He looked like he was the monkey in the middle as the team started popping the corks, dousing Pence in the process.

 

Clinching the title early means more rest for guys who have been nursing injuries like Ryan Howard and Placido Polanco.  But there are still games to be played and home field advantage up for grabs.  Look for the Phillies to keep trying to win games, starting tomorrow night at 8:05pm.  Cole Hamels will pitch.

I will return with photos.  See you there!

 

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Double Fish Fry in Phillies – Marlins Doubleheader

After Hurricane Irene wiped out the last two games scheduled between the Phillies and Marlins in late August, both were rescheduled as a day/night doubleheader on Thursday, which otherwise would have been the final off-day of the regular season for the Phillies.  Fittingly, it was windy and rainy throughout the day, but baseball finally prevailed over weather.

Day Game

The Phillies came away with a 3-1 win in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader.  Kyle Kendrick started the game, but was only allowed to go five innings since he had not pitched in a while.   The precautionary move was understandable, but Kendrick pitched very well so it was a shame to see him pulled early.

Kendrick allowed only two hits, one of which was a home run.  He also struck out six batters and did not issue any walks.  Kendrick’s early departure opened the door to the Phillies bullpen.

First up was Michael Stutes who pitched two scoreless innings, although he did have several base runners.  Stutes was not terribly sharp, but he got the job done.  Actually, no one looked great coming out of the pen in this one including Antonio Bastardo, Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson.  But although the innings pitched were a little sloppy, they did not allow any runs.

Bastardo, however, is becoming a serious concern.  The once unhittable 8th/9th inning lefty has looked very human in this past month.  So noticeable are his struggles that manager Charlie Manuel did not hesitate to pull him after Bastardo allowed a double and a walk.  If Bastardo cannot get it together soon, using the bullpen in the postseason is going to be a real adventure.

As for the offense in this game, there was not much of it.  Placido Polanco and Raul Ibanez each had 2 hits and 1 RBI.  Ibanez hit his 30th double of the season which means he has now had at least 30 doubles each year for 10 straight seasons.

But the rest of the offense basically took the day off.  There were hits scattered here and there, but all those runners were stranded on base.  They even loaded the bases in the 8th with 1 out and failed to score.  Ryan Howard’s slump continued as well; he is 0 for his last 16 at-bats.

Defensively, Pete Orr had quite a game at second base.  He made multiple diving grabs and ice-cream coned a short fly ball after jumping about four feet off the ground to get to it.  He probably saved the Phillies a lot of trouble.

So despite the lack of fire power and slightly sloppy pen performance, the Phillies recorded the win.

Night Game

The offensive struggles from the first game of the doubleheader carried right on over to the second game.  The Marlins started Alex Sanabia, a young pitcher who spent the whole year in the minors.  So things looked good on the surface for the Phillies.

But the winds grew stronger as the sun went down.  Fly balls that were hit hard wound up cycloning backwards away from the outfield wall, putting fly balls in play that may have been doubles or homers in calmer conditions.

Chase Utley made his first start since getting hit in the head with a pitch last week.  He had a pinch-hit single in the day game, and barely scratched out a hit in the night game against the Marlins bullpen.  The only two players who seemed to have Sanabia figured out were John Mayberry Jr. and Ross Gload, who both had multi-hit games.

The Phillies had not scored yet when Mayberry finally cut through the strong winds with a line-drive solo homer in the 6th.  That would end up being a very important run for the Phillies.

With Cliff Lee pitching, the Phillies had a good chance that the one run would hold up.  Lee kept the Fish at bay, despite allowing a bunch of base runners.  He was amazing, as usual, and even had one of the few Phillies hits in the game.

But just when it looked like this game was in the books, Lee got to two outs in the 9th and, for the second time this year, gave up the tying run.  The solo homer took all the air out of the balloon as the crowd sighed in disbelief at the 1-1 tie.

After the game, Lee said, “I can’t think of a worse scenario.”  He hit the nail on the head.  But lucky for Lee, Ryan Howard emerged from his slump and hit the baseball on the head.  After Michael Martinez walked in the 10th, Howard doubled to score him for the walk-off, extra-innings win.

Whew!

FYI – Michael Schwimer had pitched the top of the 10th and this turned out to be his first major league win.

Division Magic # – 2 games

Home Field Advantage Magic # – 3  games

 

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

10th Inning Rally Puts Phillies Over the Brewers Again

In the third game of this four game Phillies – Brewers series, a pitching duel broke out between Cliff Lee and Randy Wolf.  Both pitchers were very good, leaving little room for error.

The defense behind Lee was a little shaky with Michael Martinez at second base committing a huge throwing error in the 2nd inning that led to an unearned run for the Brewers.  Casey McGehee scored by plowing into Carlos Ruiz at home plate.  McGehee is literally twice the size of Ruiz. The violent, deliberate collision made McGehee look like a bully trying to take a kid’s lunch money.  The ball flew out of Ruiz’s glove and McGehee was safe.

But as usual, Lee did not let anything shake his concentration.  Through seven innings, Lee allowed only one earned run on six hits and two walks.  He also struck out seven batters.

For the Phillies, both Hunter Pence and Placido Polanco hit solo home runs.  Polanco’s homer was only his fifth of the year and it tied the game up at 2-2.  And that score held up as the game went into extra innings.

In the 10th, Raul Ibanez doubled and Ruiz drove him home with a single to take a 3-2 lead.  Jimmy Rollins then made his first appearance since coming off the DL as a pinch hitter and grounded out to move the runner.  Rollins also played the field in the bottom of the 10th and looked pretty healthy.

Ryan Madson took care of the Brewers after that, although a walk and a sac bunt made things interesting.  But Madson held on for the save and became only the ninth Phillies relief pitcher to save 30 games in a season.  Fittingly, the final out was recorded on a ground ball from the school yard bully, McGehee.  Ruiz and the Phillies got the last laugh.

And the Phillies also got another series win, beating the Brewers in three straight games with one more to go tomorrow at 2:10pm.

More good news arrived today when the results of Chase Utley’s concussion tests came in.  Utley passed the ImPACT test and appears to be doing very well.  The Phils will administer another test on Monday to be on the safe side and Utley will probably not play until after the Houston series.  But all signs are very positive.

Post-Season Magic # – 2  games

Division Magic # – 7 games

 

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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