Here is a summary of the Phillies 2010 first half, according to Jenn:
Best Off-Season Move – Acquiring Roy Halladay
Worst Off-Season Move – Trading Cliff Lee (duh!)
Biggest Win – 7/9/10: The Phillies overcame a 7-1 deficit in the 9th inning against the Reds to win the game in the 10th; it was the second walk-off homer win in a row, giving the Phillies a huge confidence boost.
Biggest Loss – When the bullpen blew a 5 run lead; Phillies lose to the Twins by a score of 10-13 on 6/19/10
Best Series Win – The 4-game sweep of the NL Central 1st place team, the Reds, 7/8-7/11
Worst Series Loss – Losing 3 out of 4 to the worst team in the National League, the Pirates, 7/1-7/4
Biggest Surprise – Jamie Moyer: At 47-year old, the combination of Moyer’s age and 3 off-season surgeries left many doubting he could be an effective pitcher. But Moyer has performed beyond anyone’s expectations. But at the half, Moyer has 9 wins and 2 complete games, one of which was a shut-out.
Biggest Disappointment – Raul Ibanez: Batting only .243 with 7 homers at the half, Ibanez is on pace to hit only 14 homers, which would be his worst power outage since 2001. He has also only driven in 39 runs, and is therefore on pace for 78 RBI, which would be his worst since 2004. Ibanez gave his all in the first half of 2009, but since then, it has been mostly downhill and his age is starting to show. With another entire year left on his contract, this is looking like another bad move by the Phillies.
Biggest Question Mark – Brad Lidge: Sometimes Lidge looks like Mr. Perfect from 2008 and sometimes he looks like a little leaguer. The Jekyll and Hyde routine is getting old. Lidge needs to step up his game if the Phillies are to have success.
Best Moment of the First Half – Roy Halladay’s Perfect Game, 5/29/10 (again, duh!)
Worst Moment of the First Half – Chase Utley’s thumb injury. Noooooo! Not Utley!! Then there are the rest of the major injuries that have plagued this team: Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, JA Happ, Ryan Madson, Chad Durbin, etc… The combined impact of these star players going down have combined for the Worst Moments of the year so far.
Jenn’s Crystal Ball
– Will Jayson Werth be with the Phillies next year? – No. Sorry, ladies. He may even be gone sooner than that…
– Will the Phillies make a trade before the deadline? – Yes.
– Which position will they upgrade? – Pitching
– Will Jenn continue to let her sanity slip slowly away as each day without Chase Utley passes? – Sadly, yes. Please come back soon, Chase!
– And finally, will the Phillies win the NL East again? – My crystal ball broke due to being overworked when I asked this question. But I will step out on a limb here and say, yes. I mean, YES! Let’s be positive people ;o)
Jamie Moyer will take the mound tonight in Chicago against the Cubs to kick off the 2rd half. Game time is 8:05pm. Go Phillies!
Today’s Phillies – Twins match-up was both surprising and painful:
The surprises were:
– Roy Halladay was not sharp for the second game in a row. Not horrible by any means, but he did allow 4 runs (1 was unearned) over 8 innings. But the 11 hits he gave up was most surprising.
– Another shocker, the only run of the game for the Phils came on a homer run by Wilson Valdez. That is two days in a row for Valdez, now up to his 3 career homers in 4 years.
– Shane Victorino got sloppy and threw a ball away which led to a run.
– The offense, after 4 straight games of scoring at least 6 runs, went back to sleep.
The painful parts? Everything else.
After a horrible loss last night with the bullpen blowing a 5-run lead, this loss hurt that much more. The Phillies are now 5.5 games back of 1st place in the NL East and show no signs of busting out.
Here is some photographic evidence of how bad the Phillies are going. Normally, it is very, very difficult to get a moving ball in a photo, especially when I am shooting from the stands, around bouncing heads and other obstacles. I do a pretty good job at it most of the time. But if I get a player hitting with the ball in the shot 3 times in 3 different at-bats, that usually means that player is not hitting the ball too hard. Check out Jayson Werth today in 3 separate at-bats:
This is another telling shot; either Justin Morneau is playing leap frog and trying to tag himself out, or someone made a very bad throw:
And how about one more “Oh crap!” moment:
In fact, this game was so bad, the Phillies pulled some odd entertainment out of their collective backsides just to distract the fans:
Is this Big Foot? Seriously, what the hell is this? Oh, ok….they say it is a groundhog, like in Caddyshack. See, the Phanatic is golfing…on the ball field. Ok then. Distraction noted…thanks.
Maybe they should hand a bat to Mr. Big Foot/Groundhog? He cannot do much worse than the Phillies and the opposition will surely be confused by the move. It’s official. I am a genius. Send in the Big Foot!
If anyone else has a better idea, I mean besides kidnapping Joe Mauer and putting him in red pinstripes, please call the Phils and let them know. Thanks.
So here is the Photo Album from today’s disastrous 1-4 loss. Think of it as another fun distraction and then go pour yourself a stiff drink. I know I will.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies scored only 22 runs in the latter half of May, from the 18th to the 31st. But in the last 4 games, the Phillies have exploded to the tune of 31 runs. Today against the Twins, they scored 9 runs, had a 5-run lead in the 8th inning, and still lost the game.
The Phillies hit five home runs in the game. Here is a recap of the first four: The usual suspects, Ryan Howard and Werth, nailed two of those homers. Not as common was a blast from Raul Ibanez, who was on base three times. Even less common was a homer from Wilson Valdez, who had his only other big league homer in 2006. Yes, 4 years ago. If Valdez can smack a homer, then the stars must really be aligning for the Phillies, right? Maybe not…
Cole Hamels got off to a bad start in the first inning, giving up 3 runs. A passed ball by catcher Brian Schneider and a bad throw to second by Hamels added fuel to the fire. But the offense immediately picked Hamels back up by getting those 3 runs right back in the bottom of the inning. Chase Utley led the way with a 2-run triple and Jayson Werth hit a sac fly to score Utley.
Every starter in the game, including Hamels, had at least one hit today. On the mound, Hamels later allowed a solo home run to Justin Morneau and ended the day with 4 runs allowed over 7 innings. If you forget about the first inning mishap, Hamels had a great day.
But, as has been a common story line this year, the Phillies bullpen blew a FIVE run lead. In the 9th inning, former-Phil, Jim Thome hit a 2-run homer off Jose Contreras. As it was then a save situation, Brad Lidge was brought into the game. And Lidge proceeded to blow the save and the remaining 3-run lead. He gave up an RBI-single and a 2-run homer to Twins catcher, Joe Mauer.
With a 9-9 tied game in the bottom of the 9th, the Phils got 2 hits but still failed to score and win the game. Howard and Werth both struck out. Chad Durbin came in for the 10th inning and as soon as I saw him on the mound, I thought, “Oh crap, he is going to give up a homer to the first batter.” Why do I think this? Because he has done it many times in the exact same situation. How many times, I do not know except to say that I have nightmares about it. Sure enough, 1st batter: homer.
The inning ended with a tag out at the plate, which normally would have been very exciting. But at that point, who cares? The Phillies are losing 9-10 with the bottom of the batting order coming up. Do you think Valdez can hit his 3rd homer in 4 years to win the game? No? Neither do I…
Valdez did not get a chance. Greg Dobbs popped out, Schneider grounded out and Ross Gload pinch hit for Valdez. Now, Gload did a homer with 2 outs to tie the game again. But again, no need to get excited because Danys Baez was going to pitch the 11th inning. Baez has been awful and today did not change that. He gave up THREE runs in the 11th just to make sure the Phillies had NO chance at a win.
The Phillies went down in the 11th. It was a pathetic end to a pathetic loss. The final score was 10-13 and the Phils now have one game left against the Twins. If Roy Halladay can get back on his game after allowing 6 runs in his last outing, the Phils could maybe salvage a series win. Game time is 1:35pm and I will return with photos.
In other news, Carlos Ruiz will get a few days off after being nailed in the head with a broken bat while behind the plate yesterday. He will not need a trip to the DL, which is great news. Scott Mathieson was designated for assignment to make room for catcher Dane Sardinha who will back-up Schneider until Ruiz is healthy.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Chase Utley got angry tonight and the Minnesota Twins paid the price. After all the talk about Utley being injured after a comment made in an interview by first base coach, Davey Lopes, Utley came out tonight to prove everyone wrong. He swears he is not injured and based on his play tonight, who could argue? Trust me Twins, you won’t like him when he’s angry.
Utley nailed an RBI single in the first inning and smashed a 3-run homer in the second. He was a monster in the field as well. Utley dove for a hard hit ground ball in the 3rd inning that would have been out of the reach of any normal human. He snagged the ball while on the ground, got up and made the throw to first to end the inning.
Then in the 5th inning, Jason Kubel hit what looked like an inside-the-park home run. Utley took the relay throw from Shane Victorino and threw Kubel out at the plate with a little help from catcher Carlos Ruiz. Utley made a statement tonight. Do not make him angry. Or perhaps Lopes’ slip of the tongue was a huge favor; it lit a fire under Utley. Clue for the Phils: Next time Utley is slumping, piss him off.
Ryan Howard must have taken the rumor about Utley to heart as well; he went 4 for 5 with TWO home runs, a triple and 3 RBI. He and Utley went back-to-back with those homers. But they were not alone in their offensive outburst. The Phillies put 9 runs on the board all together with additional hits from Placido Polanco, Jayson Werth and others.
Joe Blanton bounced back after some very bad outings previous to tonight. He did well through 6 innings, allowing just one run. But the same mistake that has been made with Blanton all year long was made again; he was left in too long. In the top of the 7th, he gave up a single and then a 2-run homer before he was replaced by Chad Durbin. The shame of it is, Blanton could have left the game with only 1 run allowed, but the Phils continue to push him even when he looks tired. The Phils had a huge lead, but the confidence boost Blanton should have left with may have been erased.
Overall, the game tonight was very intense, but not all of it was a good thing. Both Werth and Victorino appeared to tweak a muscle running hard to first base. They each stayed in the game, so that is a good sign. Then in the 8th inning, Kubel shattered his bat which nailed Ruiz in the head and he lay motionless on the ground for a good amount of time. Ruiz was taken out of the game and did walk off on his own so, hopefully, he will be okay.
The other excitement in tonight’s game was seeing Scott Mathieson pitch in the majors for the first time since 2006. Two Tommy John surgeries later, and Mathieson was pumped up to make it back to the bigs. A little too pumped up, because he gave up hit after hit in the 9th inning until the bases were loaded with one out. After a wild pitch and two more runs scoring, Brad Lidge was brought in to finish the game which he did without issue. Phils win, 9-5.
While Mathieson hit 99mph on the radar gun, the control was not there. Lidge probably breathed a sigh of relief as his closing job is safe for now. But this may have been a case of nerves and we will probably see Mathieson again soon.
Cole Hamels will pitch tomorrow; game time is 4:10pm.
Scoring runs against the veteran pitcher Andy Pettitte of the Yankees is no small feat. The Phillies did a descent job hitting him tonight, although they let several opportunities pass by. A Ryan Howard single scored Shane Victorino in the 4th inning. Then in the 5th, Victorino hit a 2-run homer.
Things looked promising in the 7th inning as well while the Phils loaded the bases with only one out. But scoring runs has been the Achilles heel of this team for an entire month now. Placido Polanco grounded into a fielder’s choice which erased Carlos Ruiz on his way home. Then Howard struck out on another low and outside pitch, something he seem to make a habit of. All the offense could do was pray that this inning would not come back to haunt them.
Kyle Kendrick stepped up to the challenge of pitching against the veteran Pettitte and kept the team in the game. Through 7 innings, Kendrick allowed one run on 4 hits and 2 walks. Despite getting himself into a multitude of bad situations, Kendrick kept his composure and did not fold under the pressure. That, more than his pitching, was the most impressive part of his game.
Not as impressive is the still struggling Chase Utley, who went hitless. Yesterday, Utley resorted to voodoo magic to try to jump-start his swing. He laid out a pattern on the clubhouse floor using bats, Red Bull and a variety of fruits. Then today, batting coach Milt Thompson reportedly built a shrine to Jobu, the voodoo doll used in the movie Major League. Can you say, “desperation”? Oh my.
I have also been known to practice baseball voodoo from time to time. However, I am not a major leaguer so if my readers think my noodle has slipped, no one really cares, least of all me. Normally, I reserve the voodoo J-Roll Smurf magic for the National League East. But with the Phillies recent struggles against everyone, and in light of Utley’s acceptance of such practices, I made an exception before today’s game. I think it may have helped:
The voodoo did seem to work. The Phillies scored again in the 9th inning after a Ruiz double and a Wilson Valdez single. Then they loaded the bases and scored two more runs on sac flies by Polanco and Howard. Then Raul Ibanez smelled the burning Jobu / Smurf incense, woke up and hit an RBI single with two outs. Ibanez did run into some bad luck after that, getting nicked in the foot with a hit ball. Apparently, the umpires did not see it, as nothing was called until the Yanks complained. So they called him out anyway to end the inning.
The defense got a spark earlier as well. Polanco helped Kendrick get out of a rough inning by diving on top of the rolled up tarp and catching a foul ball that was inches into the stands. And Jose Contreras snagged a bullet off the bat of Curtis Granderson in the 8th inning to save a hit. The Phils entered the bottom of the 9th inning with a 7-1 lead.
Contreras stayed in the game for one more batter; then with one out in the 9th, JC Romero was called in to end the game. Romero ended it quickly and the Phils won both the game and the series, 2 games to 1.
The Phillies will head home now for a weekend series with the Twins. They are without lefty Antonio Bastardo who is now on the DL with left elbow ulnar neuritis. Scott Mathieson was called up to take his spot on the roster. Mathieson looked like his career might be over after two Tommy John surgeries in 2006 and 2008 but his recovery has been remarkable. Look forward to seeing him pitch very soon!
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A-Rod photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Voodoo bats by Getty Images/CSN Philly
While it was far from perfection from Roy Halladay last night in his first start since pitching the Perfect Game, he was effective. Halladay allowed just 2 runs on 10 hits over 7 innings. He worked in and out of several jams with multiple base runners against a very good Padres team to keep the Phillies in the game.
Halladay even helped himself out at the plate, knocking a 1 out single in the 3rd that led to Shane Victorino’s 2-run homer. With the Phillies offense still struggling, those two hits turned out to be a big key in winning the game. Jayson Werth collected the 3rd RBI in the 3-2 win by walking with the bases loaded in the 5th inning. Of course, the Phillies offense also left the bases loaded twice and as a team, left 9 men on base.
The lack of scoring was again highlighted in the 8th inning when Jose Contreras hit a batter and then issued a walk. JC Romero was brought in to stop the bleeding and began by walking the next batter to load the bases with 1 out. But it was JC’s birthday, and his present to himself was getting a ground ball double play to end the inning. Happy Birthday, JC!
The real highlight of the evening, however, was Brad Lidge. In his first save opportunity since coming off the DL for the second time this year, Lidge looked like Mr. Perfect from 2008. Lidge mowed down the Padres in order with a nasty slider and good movement on his fastball. His speed clocked in at 94mph on a few pitches. Is this a sign that all is now well with Lidge? Cross your fingers…
Game 2 against the Padres is tonight at 7:05pm. Jamie Moyer will pitch against Jon Garland.
By the way, have you seen the new player-designed apparel at the Phillies MLB Shop? If you have not, be sure to check it out. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Cole Hamels and Raul Ibanez all designed jerseys, tee-shirts and hats for the new collection. Here is a sample of what they designed:
Other teams got into the action as well, so if you are a fan of another team (although I find that hard to imagine ;o), check out their MLB Shop site too. I believe the Mets, Yankees and Twins also participated. Hey, if it is cool looking, maybe I’ll pick up a Mets jersey….or, not. ;o)
And do not forget to keep VOTING for your Phillies All-Stars! Vote up to 25 times per day, per email address.
Lidge photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; apparel by MLB.com
While nothing official has been announced yet, it looks like the 5th starters spot will go to Jamie Moyer. Against the Yankees on Friday, Moyer solidified his bid for the job by pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed only 1 hit.
His overall ERA for spring is now 2.61, if your count all the “B” games he pitched also. Is it possible that this 47-year old man, coming off 3 surgeries in the off-season, is simply just indestructible? Either he is taking Fountain of Youth pills or secretly, he is Superman with the red, white and blue uniform being perfect camouflage for his super hero suit.
So Kyle Kendrick will probably start the year in the bullpen and just wait around for someone to toss a huge ball of Kryptonite at Moyer. Either way, Kendrick should be content just to make the team after a young but up and down career so far.
Leaving his super hero costume at home, Cole Hamels is still a work in progress. He got beat up on Saturday against the Twins, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks in 6 1/3 innings. While Hamels was pleased that he was able to reach the 90-pitch mark in a game, he still has some big control issues to work out. After the game, Hamels told the press that he is “starting to really feel game-oriented.” With only 8 days left until Opening Day, let us hope that his “game-oriented” compass is pointing towards the strike zone.
Another point of concern this spring is Raul Ibanez, who is barely swinging the bat with a paltry .098 average. That is only 4 hits in 41 at bats. Ibanez struggle the 2nd half of 2009 with a hernia that was operated on this off-season. While he recovered well from the operation, he still has not looked at all like the “RAUUUUUL” of old. To make matters worse, he got hit in the right elbow with a pitch on Friday. It may not be a serious injury, but it may be enough that he does not get much more hitting practice before Opening Day.
When the Phillies signed Ibanez to replace Pat Burrell last year, many people, myself included, questioned why they signed a player who was 4-years older than Burrell to a 3-year contract. Ibanez will turn 38 in June and it does appear that he is not wearing the same Superman cape that Jamie Moyer is using. Moyer is a freak of nature. Ibanez, however, appears to be a mere mortal. While everyone was thrilled with his performance in the first half of 2009, things went downhill from there and show no signs of improving. Cross your fingers; this could get interesting.
The good news is, if one of the outfielders should go down, John Mayberry Jr. is waiting in the wings. Mayberry was sent to minor league camp today, but he had a great spring and would likely be first in line to be brought up if anything goes wrong. Mayberry had 6 RBI, a homer, 3 doubles and hit for an average of .289 in camp.
Two more players were reassigned today also; catcher Dane Sardinha and infielder Ozzie Chavez. This means the bench for the Phillies should consist of catcher Brian Schneider, infielders Juan Castro and Greg Dobbs and outfielder Ross Gload. With the 12 pitchers and other regulars, that should complete the 25-man roster.
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Moyer head shot by Jenn