Although the day began with the Phillies placing Placido Polanco on the DL, it ended well. Polanco, battling back pain, should be back around July 20.
All of the recent injuries have given many young players big opportunities. Michael Martinez started at third again and John Mayberry Jr. started in center and had a huge day at the plate. In the 7-2 win over the Mets, Mayberry accounted for five of those runs with a single and a bases-clearing double.
Having struggled in his last trip to the majors earlier this year, it looks like Mayberry has finally made the adjustments he needed in order to get his swing straight. If Mayberry keeps up this pace, the Phillies may not to need any further for a powerful right-handed bat.
Vance Worley also had a nice day on the mound. He allowed only one run through 5.1 innings. The only issue was that Worley walked four batters and had a high pitch count early. He still has some work to do, but so far, Worley is fitting right in to this rotation.
When Worley was called back up today, Ryan Madson joined him as well, coming off the DL after dealing with a bruised hand. The two roster spots were cleared by Polanco’s DL trip and Scott Mathieson was sent down.
Madson pitched the seventh inning and it appears that he has not skipped a beat. His command was good and he had zip on his fastball. Michael Stutes, on the other hand, looked rusty after the All-Star break and he gave up a homer in the eighth.
One other item of note today was the performance of Raul Ibanez. His bat is suddenly on fire and as a result, he was named the National League Player of the Week. The week before the All-Star game, Ibanez hit .310 with three homers and 13 RBI. He hit another home run tonight and also singled. Congrats to RAUUUUUUL!
Game 2 with the Mets is Saturday afternoon at 4:10pm. Cole Hamels will pitch with Kyle Kendrick on Sunday. The top two aces, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, are getting a break after pitching almost two innings each in the All-Star game on Tuesday.
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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
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
In two out of three games in this Braves series, the Phillies bats left their pitchers hanging. They did not score at all for Cliff Lee on Friday. On Sunday, they got some hits for Cole Hamels, but only two runs.
The 12 hits from the Phils offense was certainly better than two on Friday. However, the hits were not timely and caused little damage. Here is just one frustrating example. Wilson Valdez smacked a two-out double in the second inning with no one on base. Later in the sixth, with runners at the corners and one out, Valdez hit a weak ground ball for an inning-ending double play, leaving a runner stranded on third.
Hitting without clutch hitting is practically useless, especially in a close game.
And Hamels really could have used some clutch hitting. He went seven innings, striking out nine batters, but allowed three runs on two homers. Still, it was a quality start and one that he should expect to win.
The youngsters in the bullpen did not help the situation either, which is the opposite of what happened in Saturday’s win. Michael Stutes entered the game not having surrendered a run in 6.1 innings this year. But in 1/3 of an inning on Sunday, he walked two batters and allowed a two-run homer.
Stutes looked like he had never even heard of a strike zone. He was that far off, throwing only two strikes to three batters. This was also the first time the Phillies used him in back-to-back games. You can be sure they will not do that again anytime soon.
As for Scott Mathieson, he took over for Stutes and gave up a hit, but exited the inning unscathed. But then to start the ninth, Mathieson began to unravel. After a hit, a sac bunt and two walks on five pitches each, Danys Baez was brought in to bail Mathieson out.
When your savior for the night is Danys Baez, you know you are having a very bad day. Baez has been unreliable at best since last season, but on Sunday night he was able to coax an inning ending double play.
I will say this for Baez; he is always great with the fans and a very nice guy. Last night, he was headed to the clubhouse after warm-ups and an elderly lady next to me over the dugout asked him to sign a ball. Most players are in full-out game concentration mode at this point and do not stop. But Baez smiled, had her toss the ball over the dugout and he signed it for her and even waved to everyone standing there.
So with no ninth inning rally in sight, the Phillies went on to lose the game by a score of 5-2 and lost the series 2-1. Heading to Miami tonight, first place in the division is on the line for this series as the Marlins are only two games back now.
Joe Blanton is back on the roster and will pitch tonight at 7:10pm. Carlos Ruiz was put on the DL yesterday, so no one had to be bumped to add Blanton back. The DL move was backdated to 4/28, so Ruiz could return in about five days or so if his back is feeling better.
Also, Sunday was the Phillies annual Mother’s Day celebration where a players has his mother flown in for the weekend at the Phillies’ expense to spend time with their son and see him play. A different player is chosen each year, although there were two in 2010. I have attended these particular games every year since 2006 so here is a photo gallery of all six years with the player, mom and sometimes other family members as well. The only person I cannot remember is who is in the 2006 photo. I think it is Jon Lieber, but I am not sure. If you know, please let me know :O)
And here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Until the 9th inning today, it looked like the Phillies may lose a game in the standings, where they lead the Braves by 3 games. Down 6-3 against the Nationals, a win and a 3-game sweep look unlikely. But if you have ever seen this Phillies team play, you know never to say never.
Joe Blanton appeared to be cruising right along at the start of the game. But that dreaded 6th inning came creeping up on him and Blanton did his Jekyll and Hyde routine and became Blah-anton. With 2 outs in the inning, he allowed a 3-run homer to give the Nats a 4-3 lead. So close, yet so far….Blanton has had issues in the 6th inning of games all year long.
The Phillies had some issues hitting Yunesky Maya, a rookie whom they have never faced. Generally, this offense struggles against new pitchers. It took until the 4th inning for them to figure him out when a Brian Schneider double scored their first 2 runs. Then a Jayson Werth single scored Placido Polanco in the 5th.
But drama unfolded in the 6th when Shane Victorino struck out on a check swing. He got upset and tossed his helmet and bat. 3rd base umpire Angel Hernandez either did not like the outburst or maybe Victorino said something and he threw Victorino out of the game. For now, the details are unclear. Victorino’s reaction, on the other hand, was easy to spot:
Victorino pushed past the home plate ump and ran towards Hernandez. 3rd base coach Sam Perlozzo had to restrain him while manager Charlie Manuel ran out to see what was going on. No one knows yet what the consequences will be for Victorino, but it was a bonehead move on his part. Victorino should have controlled himself. Now we wait to see what happens next…
The Phils offense went to sleep for 2 innings after that while the bullpen gave up 2 more runs. The 6-3 deficit looked insurmountable based on the way the Phils were playing…until the 9th inning. Polanco singled, Chase Utley doubled and Ryan Howard singled to score both runners. Howard was hitless to that point, so it was a huge boost for both him and the whole team. Werth stepped to the plate and smashed a walk-off home run, giving the Phillies an improbable 7-6 win.
With this win today and the Braves also winning, the Phillies maintain their 3-game lead over the Braves in the NL East. The real fun begins tomorrow night when the Phils start a 3-game series with the Braves that has massive playoff implications. With 12 games to go, the Phillies need a combination of wins and/or Braves losses equal to 10 to clinch. These next 3 games are HUGE.
In the meantime, check out the Photo Album from today’s game which includes the game, the Philadelphia Zoo at the ballpark and the Paul Owens minor league awards presentation. Scott Mathieson won the Best Pitcher award and Domonic Brown won the Best Player award.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Before we get into the game tonight, here is an update on all the recent injuries and roster moves. On Wednesday night, pitcher Nate Robertson gave up 6 runs in less than 1 inning; when that happened, he signed his exit papers. Robertson was designated for assignment and the Phillies claimed righty Caesar Carrillo off waivers from the Padres to take his spot.
Another righty, Scott Mathieson, was placed on the DL with a back issue. Danys Baez was taken off the DL to fill that spot. Baez has not had a very good year so putting him back in the bullpen sort of feels like a non-event. Oh well…
Jimmy Rollins is out, probably for the weekend, with a tight hamstring. The injury does not appear to be serious, but after two stints on the DL with a calf injury, the Phils are going to be extra careful with him.
And as for Placido Polanco, he does NOT have a broken elbow, contrary to several reports yesterday. Polanco advised Comcast Sportsnet that he told a reporter from the Dominican Republic about the bone spur in his elbow, which will be operated on after the season ends. Somehow, this reporter translated that into a broken bone. Polly is from the Dominican Republic, so how this miscommunication occurred between two men speaking the same language is strange. But the good news is, no broken bones :O)
That about covers the news from the Thursday off-day; now on to tonight’s game…
What began as a pitcher’s duel on the mound between Roy Halladay and Mets rookie Jenrry Mejia, turned into a duel of the pitcher’s bats in the 3rd and 4th innings. Halladay was cruising until he gave up a single to pitcher Mejia in the 3rd. A double scored Mejia and later, a 2-run homer added to the damage.
Down 3-2 going into the 4th, Halladay returned the favor. With the bases loaded and 2 outs, Halladay smacked a bouncing single up the middle for a hit; two runs scored and Mejia looked stunned. Ryan Howard had homered before that and later, a Shane Victorino single scored the 4th run of the inning.
The Phillies had a big 7th inning as well. Chase Utley started the fun with a solo homer and Howard doubled behind him. With two outs, Raul Ibanez was walked intentionally by pitcher Sean Green. Carlos Ruiz then drew an unintentional walk and Green followed that up by plunking Wilson Valdez with the bases loaded, walking in a run.
Things got a little scary with Halladay at the plate next; after a 1-0 count, Green uncorked another wild one and almost hit Halladay. Mets manager Jerry Manuel immediately took Green out, mid-batter. Manuel gets a tip of the cap for that move which may have saved Halladay from a possible injury. Green was out of control and since the Mets were down 8-3, there was no point in risking an embarrassing mistake like hitting an opposing pitcher.
The Phillies went on to win the game 8-4 and Halladay collected his 18th win of the year. He also reached 200 strikeouts on the season for the second year in a row. Although Halladay allowed 4 runs tonight, he still went 7 2/3 and the offense helped him out.
Tomorrow, Kyle Kendrick will be given yet one more chance to prove himself, although many feel he does not deserve another shot after 4 straight bad games. Rookie Vance Worley was the other option, but since Kendrick did well against the Mets last month, they decided to give him the start. Game time is 4:10pm; this should be an interesting one.
By the way, feel free to check out my new Facebook community page, “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney.” And when you are done there, hop over to the Phillies #1 fan contest and VOTE for me! You can vote up to 25 times a day :O) Thank you for the support!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Win some, lose some…the Phillies could not have done so today in a more upside down fashion. Two games; two very different results:
Vance Worley made his first start in the majors today against the Marlins and did a pretty good job. Certainly it was good enough to de-throne Kyle Kendrick from the 5th starters spot. Kendrick has been awful and the Phillies pitching coach, Rich Dubee, was really upset about his performance yesterday. Worley went 5 innings and allowed 2 runs; he was only pulled after 5 because the offense was sleeping and Charlie Manuel put in a pinch hitter. Worley did his job; the offense did not.
The Phils offense had just 1 hit through 8 innings and that was a Brian Schneider single in the 2nd. They were facing another pitcher making his starting debut, Adalberto Mendez. Rather than beat up on the rookie, the Phillies swung at junk and popped up balls that were right down the middle. They made a first-timer look like a Cy Young winner.
Just as disgusting as the offense was sloppy play in the field. Raul Ibanez made two very bad throws in the 1st inning. Later in the game, Placido Polanco watched a Dan Uggla double sail past him down the 3rd base line. That was just a good hit. But later, with Uggla at the plate again, Polanco was playing off the line…again. Result? Same thing; a double down the line. Why was Polanco playing off the line when he had just gotten burned there in Uggla’s last at bat? Ugh.
A lot about this game was inexplicable, much like the Phillies magical vanishing offense all year long. When you see this team play like this, it makes you wonder how they have stayed in the NL East race all year.
There were some other revelations in the last few days as well. Clearly, Mike Zagurski is not going to make it in the Bigs. This kid has been up, down, multiple injuries, up and down again and today, with yet another chance to show what he has, he failed miserably. 3 runs allowed on 2 hits and a walk…it was bad. Scott Mathieson did the same thing yesterday when he walked 2 batters and showed a serious lack of control. I feel for these guys, but maybe the Phillies need to move on?
Ok, so let’s see if they are still asleep for game two…
Oh, here are the bats! Game 2 was the polar opposite of Game 1. Much like a mental patient suffering from multiple personality disorder, the Phillies played two totally different games today. The Game 2 persona is certainly the one Phillies fans would like to see more of.
A five run 2nd inning got this game off to a good start. Jimmy Rollins, batting from the 5-hole, led off the inning with a single. Raul Ibanez followed his lead and then Domonic Brown walked. With the bases loaded, Carlos Ruiz worked out a walk for an easy RBI. Later that same inning with 2 outs, Placido Polanco hit a 2-run double and then Chase Utley singled to score Polanco.
It was a very upside down kind of day for Utley. He did not have a hit in the first game, but for Game 2, Utley racked up 2 hits, 2 RBI and he was also hit by a pitch. Brown got a rare start as Jayson Werth was rested and he managed to work out 2 walks. But having sat on the bench for a while, Brown looks rusty. Hopefully, this start will get him back into the “swing” of things.
Starting the game was pitcher Roy Oswalt who had some issues with the long ball. He allowed 3 homers for 4 runs in the first 5 innings. This seems to be a “Roy” issue this week; Roy Halladay gave up 4 runs on 4 homers on Saturday against the Brewers. Luckily, the Phillies bats were heating up tonight to bail Oswalt out of trouble, as they also did on Saturday for Halladay.
With a 7-4 lead, Ryan Madson took care of the 8th inning after JC Romero walked the first batter. Brad Lidge pitched the 9th and recorded the save! Lidge has been super lately…keep it up, Brad!
Tomorrow night at 7:05pm, Joe Blanton will pitch in game 3 of this series with the Fish. The Braves lost today so with one win and one loss today, the Phillies are 1/2 game behind them in the NL East.
And a few reminders: Do not forget to check out my new Facebook community page, “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney.” And when you are done there, hop over to the Phillies #1 fan contest and VOTE for me! You can vote up to 25 times a day :O) Thank you to all for your support!
Worley photo by CBSsports.com; Utley photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Of course, I am not referring to an actual wolf…this wolf was Brewers pitcher and former Phillie, Randy Wolf. Although, had it been an actual wolf that devoured the Phillies, that would have been way more interesting.
But as it stands, Randy Wolf pitched 6 2/3 strong innings against his former team, allowing just 2 runs. For the Phillies, Kyle Kendrick basically stunk up the place. Kendrick started the game with a 3-run homer to Prince Fielder. He threw one pitch, missed his spot and Fielder gobbled up the cookie tossed his way. By the end of 4, Kendrick allowed 5 runs on 7 hits and a walk.
The worst part is that the Phillies have a doubleheader with the Marlins tomorrow so pitching was already at a premium. With Kendrick not able to get past 4 innings, many bullpen pitchers had to be used which means less pitching and/or tired pitching for tomorrow. Kendrick has been on a serious downhill slide since early August and seems to be getting worse instead of better as each start goes by.
Add in the fact that the Phillies offense is still struggling to score runs and this is another really disappointing loss. The only two runs scored by the Phils today came on a Carlos Ruiz double in the 2nd inning. After that, the offense had only 2 hits; one from Chase Utley and one from Jimmy Rollins. Of 7 hits on the day, 2 were from Utley.
As for some of the young Phillies arms, Scott Mathieson and Antonio Bastardo are back up from AAA and each pitched an inning. Bastardo looked sharp; Mathieson still lacks control and walked 2 batters. He did work out of the jam, but the big question mark still looms above Mathieson’s head. He can throw 97mph, but that is only helpful if he can throw strikes. So far, it is not looking that way.
The Braves lost their game today as well, so the Phillies missed out on the opportunity to put themselves in a tie for first. They still stand 1 game behind the Braves.
In the doubleheader tomorrow, Vance Worley will be called up to start the day game, probably with Nate Robertson in tow as a back-up/bullpen piece. Roy Oswalt will start the night game. The Marlins are on a role playing spoiler as they took 2 of 3 from the Braves this week so this will not be an easy series. The Phillies had better find their bats!
Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game. Enjoy.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography