Tagged: Twins

Home, Sweet Home for the Phillies

After an abysmal road trip where the Phillies lost 7 out of 10 games, this team had to be relieved to be back in Philadelphia last night.  They took an absolute beating from the Brewers, Twins and the Rockies.  If you Google the meaning of “bad baseball,” this road trip should be used as an example.

But things looked a tad brighter after last night’s 5-4 walk-off win against the NationalsJohn Lannan returned to the rotation after a knee injury and pitched well; Ryan Howard finally broke out of his home run drought; and Domonic Brown seems to be getting hot again.  He even delivered the game-winning RBI single in the 9th.

Despite the win though, I simply cannot stop thinking about the awful road trip.  In particular, I am greatly disturbed by the events that have taken place at and around third base and home plate lately.  Most of these little disasters seem to revolve around veteran third-baseman Michael Young.

I hate to keep picking on Young, who seems like a very nice guy, and maybe some of this is not his fault at all.  Did you notice that Young got thrown out at home plate THREE times in the last 6 games of the road trip?  My question is, does he run home on his own or is Ryne Sandburg sending him?  I understand being aggressive, but Young is one of the older and slower players on this team.  This is not the guy you send on a close play.

I have begun leaning towards Sandburg’s lack of experience coaching third base as the issue, especially after last night.  Because it appears he got Howard into a similar jam.  He was sending Howard home and quickly changed his mind, signaling for Howard to stay at third.  But his momentum was already heading home and Howard got tagged out at third.  Sandburg is a Hall of Famer…I get that.  So he should know that you cannot stop a moving train.  Either make the decision quicker or take your chances that Howard will bowl over the catcher at home.

Then again, guys have been getting tossed out on the base paths all over the place all by themselves.  Young also got thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double last Tuesday.  He also had a bad fielding error and hit into 2 more double plays on this road trip.

None the new players Ruben Amaro Jr. brought in this year, including Michael Young, are holding up their end of the bargain.  Delmon Young is hitting only .231; Mike Adams has a 4.13 ERA and cannot seem to pitch a clean inning; Ben Revere has started out super slow, although he is improving.  And Revere is young so he has a lot to learn yet.  Lannan has been ok, but the injury was a huge setback.

As for the returning Phillies, too many of them are hurt or under producing.  I hate to be such a downer after a rare Phillies win, but this team is just so frustrating!  Who are they?  Are they going to get any better?  Will some of these guys ever be healthy?  Your guesses are all as good as mine.

Maybe another win tonight will improve my mood?  Hope so!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Sign Pitchers Lannan and Adams

I am guessing that John Lannan and Chase Utley will never be BFF’s, but Lannan signing with the Phillies may at least prompt a truce.  In 2007, Lannan threw the pitch that broke Utley’s hand, essentially ending his run for the MVP award that year.

In 5 plus years in the majors with the Nationals, Lannan has hit Phillies’ batter’s 11 times; 3 of those were directed at Utley.  I would venture an educated guess that these two guys do not like each other.

Regardless, Lannan is on-board for 1 year and $2.5 million to take the place of Vance Worley, who was traded to the Twins earlier this month.  It sounds like a low-risk, high reward situation, as long as Lannan can stop himself from whacking his new teammates with the ball.  The temptation may linger until he gets used to his new location.

As for Mike Adams, this sounded like a good signing until I heard the terms.  We will get to that in a moment.  Adams is a very solid relief pitcher who has a lifetime 2.28 ERA over 8 seasons.  However, he is 34 years old and coming off a surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition in which a rib bone presses against a nerve, causing pain and numbness in the arm.

Does this sound like a guy you would sign to TWO years and $12 million?  Not so much.  And yet, that is what the Phillies are giving him.  While this is not fully in the range of a Freddy Garcia-type disaster (whom the Phillies gave $10 million to in 2007 to do basically nothing), the potential is similar.  If Adams does not recover from surgery or comes back as a lesser pitcher, this deal is a huge bust.

But the Phillies are once again rolling the dice and praying for the best case scenario.  Let us hope they come out on the winning end this time.

By the way, if you missed my 2012 Phillies Photo Tribute slideshow, here it is again for your entertainment.  Enjoy!

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Lannan photo by Nick Wass (AP)

Slideshow photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Ben Revere In; The Vanimal Out

Right-handed pitcher Vance Worley was actually standing in Citizens Bank Park when he got the news that he was being shipped to Minnesota.  He was as shocked as the rest of us that his time in Philadelphia was at an end.  Sadly, the Vanimal is gone.  Phillies’ top pitching prospect Trevor May will join him there as well.

In return, the Phillies got a young centerfielder.  Ben Revere, 24, hit .294 last year for the Twins with a .333 on-base percentage.  He also had 40 stolen bases and is being touted as a young Juan Pierre with excellent range in the outfield.  The downsides include his lack of power, minimal walks and below-average arm.  But he is under team control and therefore, very cheap.

It seems Revere’s skill set could make him the new lead-off hitter; he has speed and gets on base.  While it is very sad to say bye-bye to the Vanimal and to May, this trade may pay dividends for the Phillies if they can use the money they are saving towards a bullpen piece or another outfielder.

Revere should fit in well in Philly.  In fact, his name alone is a combination of two historical figures with Philadelphia ties:  Ben Franklin and Paul Revere.  I suppose then, it was fate that brought him here.

Welcome, Ben!

The Phillies are not done yet as trade talks still linger.  The latest rumor has Michael Young, who is actually not so young at 36 years of age, possibly coming to Philly with half of his salary paid by the Rangers.  Stayed tuned…

UPDATEJust a few quick notes on the Ben Franklin and Paul Revere comments above.  It seems we have some badly educated, wanna-be historians in the Twittersphere who question my references to the historical links of these figures in Philadelphia.  First, Revere was born in Boston and made several rides to visit the Continental Congress in Philly to report on the impending revolution.  Then, during the war in 1775, Revere was sent to Philadelphia to study the only powder mill in the colonies so that northern colonies could learn how to produce more gun powder.  So yes, Revere does have ties to Philly.  Look it up.

Even more shocking was someone questioning Ben Franklin’s relation to Philadelphia.  No, he was not born there, but he lived there most of his life (around 67 years), died and was buried in Philly.  Oh, and he signed that little document called the United States Constitution in Philadelphia.  Anyone questioning that should be ashamed.

By the way, Ben Revere retweeted the photo I posted of him as Ben Franklin and Paul Revere.  So clearly, he enjoyed it :O) 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Blanton’s Complete Game Gives Phillies Series Win

After allowing a minimum of 5 runs in each of his last 5 starts, no one expected a stand-out performance from Joe Blanton last night against the Twins.  But the oddities this Phillies season seemingly never cease.

Going the whole 9 innings, Blanton allowed only 1 run on a solo homer, 7 hits and struck out 7.  Blanton’s season has gone from great to awful and now, back to great again.  Of the 3 complete games for Phillies pitchers this year, Blanton has 2 and Kyle Kendrick, who has been terrible lately, has the other.  And this is on a staff of pitchers that includes Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.  Go figure.

Continuing to terrorize American League pitching, Jim Thome added 3 more RBI to his stats last night with yet another bomb.  The best part was watching fans dig through the flower beds in the outfield trying to recover the home run ball.  That went on for several innings until security put a stop to it for fear of someone bending over too far and falling onto the field.

The mysterious, disappearing ball was never found.  I guess those plants were really hungry.  Either that or the ball was hit so hard, it ricocheted off into space and is currently in orbit.

While the mystery ball remains at large, the Phillies are moving right along.  In fact, they are leaving the country.  It is off to Toronto for 3 games with the Blue Jays next.

Perhaps these 2 wins will be the boost they needed to get their season back on track?  Let us hope so.  Game time tonight is 7:07pm.

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Blanton photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Thome’s Hot Bat Helps Phillies to a Win

The Phillies finally won a game last night, although by the skin of their teeth. The 9-8 victory over the Twins broke up a 3 game losing streak in a month where wins have been hard to come by.

The return of Jim Thome from the DL seems to have sparked an offensive explosion. After hitting at a rate of .100 before he went on the DL, Thome now has 10 hits in his last 5 games serving as the DH against the American League. Thome has also hit 2 home runs in that span, the longest of which was a whopping 466 feet last night. The slugger has officially returned!

A bunch of Phillies had big offensive days as well. Juan Pierre, Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz all had 3 hist. And John Mayberry Jr. racked up 4 RBI on 2 hits, including a 3-run homer in the 1st inning.

That first inning was a bit unusual though. The Twins starter, P.J. Walters wound up leaving the game with 4 runs allowed without even recording a single out. It was later reported that he was experiencing shoulder pain.

So the Phillies caught a break and racked up 6 runs in one inning, adding 3 more later. But they still showed the same problems they have been dealing with all year. For example, they Phillies loaded the bases with NO outs in the 9th and once again, failed to score. They could not even muster a sac fly. That is just not going to win them ballgames.

And what has become another disturbing trend is the starting pitching. Cole Hamels, probably the Phillies’ best pitcher not on the DL right now, has really fallen apart lately. Against the Twins, with that huge 6-run lead after the top of the 1st inning, Hamels got knocked around, allowing 7 runs over 6+ innings. Antonio Bastardo allowed one more, all of which turned a 6-run lead into only a 1-run lead.

Luckily, Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the win, having to record 4 outs in order to do so. But I am sure he was just glad to be able to pitch in a save situation, which there have been very few of lately.

Despite all the drama, there were a few great defensive moments thanks to Michael Martinez who also just came off the DL after breaking his foot in spring training. He made the last out of the game by catching a pop-up that was over his head and about to drop in the middle of nowhere. And earlier in the game, he dove to snag a ball hit hard up the middle and in the same motion, made an amazing glove toss to Jimmy Rollins at second.

The return of Martinez is a welcome site now that Freddy Galvis is on the DL with a back fracture (ouch!). Mikey-Mart is about the same offensively as Galvis and his defense, while not quite as spectacular, is still very solid. So welcome back, Mikey!

Although it may be a long shot, the Phillies ‘could’ – maybe – possibly – win this series with a victory tonight. Joe Blanton is pitching and he has given up a minimum of 5 runs in each of his last 5 games. Let us hope that trend ends tonight. Game time is 8:10pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Pitching a Fit Over Phils Pitching

At the start of the season, everyone was worried about the Phillies offense being strong enough to carry a solid starting pitching staff to wins.  Now that the offense is slowly piecing runs together, the entire pitching staff has fallen apart.  Let us examine the grisly evidence:

Roy Halladay is on the DL.  Vance Worley is pitching will bone chips in his elbow.  Cliff Lee has no wins and is recently making a habit of blowing leads.  Cole Hamels has been hit or miss.  Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton keep see-sawing between okay and downright horrible.

As for the bullpen, 5 out of 7 pitchers have little big league experience.  4 of those are rookies in their first (3) year or second (1) year in the majors.  Chad Qualls, a veteran, has basically been a bust.  And their $50 million closer hardly ever pitches because the save situations are slim and they are afraid to use him in non-save situations.

Last night in a horrible 11-7 loss to the Twins, 3 of 4 bullpen guys who pitched combined to allow 5 runs.  Kendrick started the game allowing 6 runs in only 4 innings.  He was beyond awful.  Meanwhile, closer Jonathan Papelbon has not thrown a single pitch since 4 days and 3 games ago.

Making matters worse, Hunter Pence has officially lost his mind in right field.  He only has 3 official errors on the year, but if you add in the mental mistakes and plays that he clearly should have made despite not being an “official” error, he probably has at least 10 by now.

In fact, my favorite moment of last night’s game was a comment by announcer Tom McCarthy.  After Pence failed to field a routine hopper in the 5th inning, turning a single into a triple, McCarthy said, “I think it is safe to say he needs to stop doing that.”  He hit that nail on the head.

Right now, the Phillies are a very BAD team.  Now 9.5 games back of the Nationals in the NL East, they do not have time to wait for Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to return.  If they do not turn it around right now, this season is over.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Division Series Schedule

As you may know already, the Phillies will be playing the Reds in the NLDS.  The Phillies won 5 out of 7 games against the Reds this year in the regular season; 3 of those in July all went to extra innings and ended in spectacular walk-off fashion for the Phillies.  So while the Phils have a slight edge, it is sure to be a well played series.

With the 8 playoff teams finally decided, TBS and MLB announced some of the start times for both the AL and NL Division series.  Here is the schedule so far:

Series

Teams

Day/Date

Time ET

ALDS Game 1

Rangers @ Rays

Wed. Oct. 6

1:30 p.m.

NLDS Game 1

Reds @ Phillies

Wed. Oct. 6

5 p.m.

ALDS Game 1

Yankees @ Twins

Wed. Oct. 6

8:30 p.m.

ALDS Game 2

Rangers @ Rays

Thurs. Oct. 7

2:30 p.m.

ALDS Game 2

Yankees @ Twins

Thurs. Oct. 7

6 p.m.

NLDS Game 1

Braves @ Giants

Thurs. Oct. 7

9:30 p.m.

NLDS Game 2

Reds @ Phillies

Fri. Oct. 8

6 p.m.

NLDS Game 2

Braves @ Giants

Fri. Oct. 8

9:30 p.m.

ALDS Game 3

Rays @ Rangers

Sat. Oct. 9

5 p.m.

ALDS Game 3

Twins @ Yankees

Sat. Oct. 9

8:30 p.m.

NLDS Game 3

Phillies @ Reds

Sun. Oct. 10

TBD

NLDS Game 3

Giants @ Braves

Sun. Oct. 10

TBD

*ALDS Game 4

Rays @ Rangers

Sun. Oct. 10

TBD

*ALDS Game 4

Twins @ Yankees

Sun. Oct. 10

TBD

*NLDS Game 4

Phillies @ Reds

Mon. Oct. 11

TBD

*NLDS Game 4

Giants @ Braves

Mon. Oct. 11

TBD

*ALDS Game 5

Rangers @ Rays

Tues. Oct. 12

TBD

*ALDS Game 5

Yankees @ Twins

Tues. Oct. 12

TBD

*NLDS Game 5

Reds @ Phillies

Wed. Oct. 13

TBD

*NLDS Game 5

Braves @ Giants

Wed. Oct. 13

TBD

 

As I expected, the Phillies, despite have the BEST record in baseball, still got screwed out of the Prime Time slot in favor of the Yankees…again.  So for the 3rd year in a row, I will have to take a day off work to go to get to the stadium in time to find parking and see the pre-game festivities.

Now I realize there are 22 other teams out there whose fans would love to have this problem so it is hard to complain.  But when is a team, other than the Yankees, going to get some much deserved respect?  The Phillies have certainly earned it.   

To the TV people it is all about ratings, and I suppose it is their prerogative.  But guess which team brings in more fans based on stadium capacity?  The Phillies – 103.5%.  It is over 100% due to standing room only tickets that are sold to accommodate more fans.  The Phillies sold out EVERY game this season.  Where do the Yankees rank?  They are 7th in baseball with 88.9%.  If the Phillies had a bigger stadium like the Yankees do, they would no doubt have sold all those seats as well.  Just sayin’…

Not to mention that the TBS coverage of the games, in general, is horrible.  The announcers have NO clue about the teams they are watching and tend to be biased towards particular teams.  The coverage has been historically so bad that there is even a section on Wikipedia dedicated to how bad they suck.  The TBS slogan is “very funny” but we are not laughing.