Tagged: Wild Card

Loss to Braves Kills Phillies Playoff Hopes

While they are not “officially” out of it yet, the Phillies have dropped to 5 games out of the Wild Card race after 2 straight losses to the Braves.  With 4 teams in front of them and only 9 games to go, the Phillies playoff hopes are all but dead.

On the mound today, Cliff Lee put forward a valiant effort, working in and out of trouble throughout the game.  Despite his many challenges, he kept the Phillies in striking distance.  Lee struck out 11 and allowed only 1 earned run over 8 innings.  But the offense did little to help him.

Tim Hudson is a great pitcher, but the Phillies made him look totally unhittable.  John Mayberry Jr. and Kevin Frandsen accounted for the only hits in the game for the Phils; yes, 2 hits…total.  The only run they scored involved a walk to Jimmy Rollins, a Braves error, a sac bunt and a sac fly.

The sun was quite an issue today as well as clouds rolled in and out over the ballpark.  Some plays in the field were solid, and others looked a bit complicated as the shadows wreaked havoc.

And then there was a little controversy over whether or not Frandsen was out of the box when he bunted.  He was called out and manager Charlie Manuel apparently thought holding the umpires hand might help his cause:

Or maybe not…

So the Phillies went on to lose the game by a score of 2-1, all but eliminating their playoff hopes.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

And the only good news of the day…I won a signed Cole Hamels bat in the Sunday Season Ticket holder Fan Appreciation Day event!  Whoo hoo! 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Howard’s 300th; One Win and a Loss Against the Braves

The Phillies won their 4th straight game Friday night in the opener against the Braves that included a pre-game salute to Chipper Jones.  Jones will retire after 19 years with the Braves after this season.  The Phillies gave Jones a painting of one of many home runs he hit in Citizens Bank Park.

Jones received a number of salutes while the Braves traveled to away games this year.  And to thank the Phillies, Jones went 0-for-4 in the home teams’ 6-2 win over his Braves.  Thanks, Larry.  And Happy Retirement ;o)

However, the tables were turned on Saturday afternoon.  The Braves found their bats and Roy Halladay hit another brick wall.  Clearly, not all is well with Halladay as he claims.  He has had only a few good starts since coming off the DL; the rest have been very un-Doc like.

This afternoon, Halladay did not even make it through 2 innings.  His final line had 7 earned runs in 1.2 innings on 5 hits and 3 walks.  It was ugly.  Charlie Manuel looked on in disbelief before he finally ran out to the mound to lift Doc from the game.

With the Cardinals win today, the Phillies could ill afford any more losses.  But the offense was weak today against the Braves pitching.  The only excitement came when Ryan Howard hit a milestone home run; it was the 300th of his career, putting him in 2nd place behind Mike Schmidt all time for the Phillies.

Howard has now hit a home run in 4 straight games.  Seeing his bat wake up again is a pleasant site.  However, the Phillies are still in a dire situation as far as the playoffs are concerned.  The loss today knocks them back to 4 games out of the Wild Card behind 3 other teams with only 10 games to go.

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Howard head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Annihilate the Mets in Finale of 3-Game Sweep

On Thursday night, the Phillies gave the Mets a spanking and then some.  It was an outright stomping to the tune of 2 touchdowns and a safety.  If you are not a football fan, that is the baseball equivalent of 16 runs.

The 16-1 pummeling began with an 8-run 1st inning.  The Phillies went all the way through the line-up, batters 1-8, before a single out was recorded by the Mets.  The starting pitcher was lifted from the game 7 batters in and his final line read 7 earned runs and zero innings pitched…ouch.  The next pitcher who came in hit Erik Kratz with a pitch to force in another run.

This was the first time the Phillies had their first 8 batters reach base to start a game since 1975.  It was also the first time since 1912 that they scored at least 8 runs in the 1st inning while on the road.  Know what else happened in 1912?  The Titanic sank.

For the Mets, this was a game to forget, if they can.  For the Phillies, it was a nice opportunity to bump up their batting averages and stats.  Here are those than benefitted the most from the Mets’ ineptitude:

That is a lot of hitting.

With 2 outs in the 9th the night before, Ryan Howard hit a 2-run homer to win the game.  And with 2 outs in the 9th last night, Howard smashed a Grand Slam home run, adding insult to injury for the Mets.  The Phillies scored 7 runs in that final inning.

Rookie pitcher Tyler Cloyd quietly had a great game in between all the offensive fireworks.  Cloyd gave up only 1 run on 3 hits over 8 innings.  He was the only starter in the game who did not get a hit for the Phillies, but since he pitched well, he is forgiven ;o)

Despite the sweep of the Mets though, the Phillies are still 4 games out of the Wild Card race as the Cardinals keep winning.  They are running out of games quickly.

Of the 12 remaining games, the next 3 are at home against the Braves.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

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Lee’s Effort Returns Phillies To .500

After a disastrous weekend in Houston, the Phillies managed to crawl back to the .500 mark after a 3-1 win over the Mets on Monday night.  Cliff Lee pitched extremely well, allowing only 1 run over 8 innings.  His strong performance kept the Phillies in the game against tough knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey.

For the offense, Jimmy Rollins is on a serious hot streak.  It seems lately that even when he slips up, luck is on his side.  He struck out in the 1st inning last night to start the game, but wound up being safe at first base anyway on a passed ball.  He eventually scored on a Chase Utley sac fly.  Rollins ended the game with 2 runs scored, a home run and a walk.

The home run was interesting; the ball snuck over the right field wall but appeared for a moment to have dribbled off the glove of outfielder Scott Hairston.  Then without prompting, the umpires decided to review the play and correctly called it a home run.  That is the first time I have seen any MLB umpire voluntarily review a play without first being harassed by a manager.  It is about time.

Domonic Brown provided the other run with a solo shot in the 7th to give the Phillies a little more breathing room.  Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the save in the 9th.

This win was a nice lift for the Phillies who remain 3.5 games out of the Wild Card race with 15 games to play.  Realistically, the horrendous Houston weekend probably killed any shot they had at the postseason this year.  So while it is great to see this team playing well, as far as the playoffs, don’t hold your breath.

Game 2 with the Mets is tonight at 7:10pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Playoff Hopes: Fool’s Gold or the Real Deal?

Out of the 9 Phillies Opening Day 2012 starters, 6 have landed either on the disabled list or with another team at some point during the year.  And that does not even include Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who started the year on the DL.  So basically, 8 out of 9 regular starters missed a lot of time this year.  The only one who avoided either a trade or the DL was Jimmy Rollins.

It is fitting then that a 2-run shot from J-Roll last night led the team to a 3-game sweep of the Miami MarlinsCliff Lee did his part as well, allowing just 1 run, which was unearned due to an error, over 7 innings.

The win has placed the Phillies only 3 games back in the Wild Card race, which is something not many people saw coming.  This team was beaten up so badly throughout most of the year and played so poorly that a possible playoff run, until now, seemed impossible.  Here is a look at the Wild Card standings:

But even after a 7-game win streak, is all this new playoff hope just fool’s gold or can the Phillies really sneak in the backdoor?  Consider this:  6 of those 7 games in the streak came against two of the worst teams in baseball, the Marlins and the Rockies.  Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies lost a series to the Mets, who are also pretty bad.

Then again, the momentum of a 7-game win streak could be enough to help elevate the Phillies performance and confidence to the point where they can start stomping on good teams as well.  But we are not going to know if that is possible for a while as the Houston Astros are next on the agenda.  With a record of 45-98, the Astros are by far the worst team in all of baseball.  Losing even 1 of the 4 games against the Astros would be a tragedy.

So maybe this series could be a descent barometer after all.  Because if the Phillies struggle against the Astros, I think the faint light of playoff hopes would be markedly dimmed.  But if they beat the crap out of the Astros, as they very well should, then go ahead and keep the light of hope burning.  Then we can all say, “Watch out National League!  Here come the Phillies…”

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The Chase’s Are Wild as Phillies Trump the Fish

The Wild Card chase is back on for the Phillies who have won 6 in a row.  They now sit only 4 games out of a potential playoff spot.  The other Chase, that being Chase Utley, is starting to look like the guy we all remember.  Despite a costly error in the game against the Marlins, Utley went 3-for-3 last night with 2 walks and an RBI.  He reached base in all 5 of his at-bats.

Juan Pierre also continues to produce; he also had 3 hits in the game, plus an RBI.  And Jimmy Rollins took advantage of a huge error by the Marlins catcher who dropped what appeared to be Jimmy’s 5,000th or so pop-up this year.  Ok, maybe I exaggerate…but J-Roll followed the dropped pop-up with a 2-run homer on the next pitch.  Rollins ended the night with 3 RBI on 2 hits.

But as the runs continued to pour in, Phillies pitchers continued to give them right back.  Roy Halladay did not look great again, allowing 5 runs in 6 ½ innings while walking 3 batters.  Just when it looks like Halladay is doing well again, he has a game like this.

But the bullpen was not much better.  Manager Charlie Manuel had to use 4 pitchers to get though the 7th inning as it seemed no one wanted to get the final out.  Halladay and the pen combined to allow 4 runs that inning.

In the bottom of the 7th, things got progressively weirder.  After Rollins collected his 3rd RBI of the night, the Marlins manager apparently suffered a momentary lapse of reason.  Ozzie Guillen, already considered one of the strangest men in baseball, made yet another move to solidify his crazy-man reputation.  He ordered an intentional walk of Kevin Frandsen to pitch to Utley instead.

To break it down, Guillen decided he wanted to pitch to a guy who already had 3 hits in the game instead of a guy with a stress fracture in his left leg.  Forget the left-handed, right-handed theory; a broken leg VS. 3-for-3…and broken leg won.  Wow.  Utley wound up walking as well and no damage was done, but that was a seriously weird chain of events.

The 9-7 put the Phillies back at the .500 mark for the season so far.  That is a small miracle considering how bad most of the season has gone.  Could a large miracle be in the works?  It is a long-shot, but if the Phillies keep winning, who knows?

Game 3 with the Marlins starts early today at 4:05pm.  Let’s go for the sweep!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Kratz & Mayberry Propel Phillies to Win

Friday night’s Phillies – Braves game was a little uncomfortable to watch through the first 5 innings as ace pitcher Roy Halladay struggled.  Sweaty and red in the face, Halladay looked like he might pass out more than a few times.  He gave up 4 runs on 2 homers and 4 walks before being pulled after 4 2/3 innings.

Catcher Erik Kratz did everything humanly possible to help the ailing Halladay, including taking what looked like a heavy-weight title knock-out shot at the plate from Chipper Jones in the 4th inning:

John Mayberry Jr. made a great, on-target throw and, amazingly, Kratz held onto the ball.  It was an unbelievable play…but neither Kratz nor Mayberry were done impressing everyone yet.

Down 4-5 going into the 9th inning, the Phillies were going to need a small miracle to get to Braves star closer Craig Kimbrel.  But Kratz was again up to the challenge as he took Kimbrel’s fastball deep to left to tie up the game.

That home run sent the game into extra innings where Mayberry stepped in once more to help the Phillies win.  Kevin Fransden provided the first spark, staring the 10th off with a single.  Later that inning, Mayberry saw one pitch and sent in into the seats for a 3-run homer, handing the Phillies an 8-5 lead.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the save, which was the 250th save of his career and 31st this season.  The Phillies now sit 8 games out of the Wild Card race.  Not that the playoffs are a real possibility at this point, but just thought I would mention it.  At the very least, they should aim to make life more difficult for the Braves.  Game time today is 4:05pm.

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