Tagged: Wilson Valdez

Hamels Sharp in 1st Game Off the DL

The Phillies began a stretch of 33 games in 31 days today in Cincinnati against the Reds.  With the schedule shuffling due to Hurricane Irene, the Phils lost their final off-day of the regular season and also have two doubleheaders in September.

Today was an especially important day for pitcher Cole Hamels.  It was his first start since coming off the DL with some shoulder soreness.  Hamels did not skip a beat as he began quickly mowing down Reds hitters.
 

Hamels was perfect through three innings when an outfield blunder ended the streak in the fourth.  Hunter Pence overran a routine fly ball, then slipped and fell trying to go back to make the catch.  The hit was recorded as a triple, which gave the Reds a 1-0 lead soon after.

Probably mortified my the mistake, Pence looked for redemption early with a single to start the fifth.  Carlos Ruiz then singled and Wilson Valdez drove Pence home with a very timely double.

Hamels was able to shake off the earlier mistake and with a 1-1 tie game, he continued pitching very well.  Through six innings, Hamels allowed just the one run on two hits and struck out seven.

The pitchers battle continued as the Reds’ Homer Bailey kept confusing Phillies hitters.  Valdez seemed to be the only one able to hit Bailey and he started the eighth off with a single.

Michael Martinez was then sent up to bunt, which was a minor disaster.  I sincerely hope this is the last time Martinez will be counted on to lay down a bunt, because he looked like he had no clue what he was doing.  He bunted two balls straight up into the air; the first was foul and the second was caught for a very ugly out.

Lucky for Martinez, Shane Victorino stepped up to the plate and finally saw a pitch he liked.  One hanging curve ball  later and Victorino had himself a 2-run homer.  The Phillies then had a 3-1 lead.

That lead dwindled a little in the bottom half of the inning as the struggles of Michael Stutes continued.  He gave up one run on three hits, cutting the lead to 3-2.

In that inning, Placido Polanco missed a hard hit ball and made a throwing error.  Polanco also struck out three times at the plate, which is very out of character for him.  Normally a contact hitter, Polanco did not look like himself today both at the plate and in the field.  This leave one wondering just how badly he is being bothered by the sore hip and back.

After that odd inning, the Phillies were unable to score again.  That meant the game was in the hands of Ryan Madson with a miniscule 1-run lead.  Coming into this game, Madson was 23 for 25 in save opportunities.

Unlike Polanco tonight, Madson was on top of his game.  After allowing a lead-off single, he buckled down and recorded the final three outs of the game.

Tuesday night, Roy Halladay will finally take the mound after getting pushed back with all the crazy weather and game cancellations earlier this week.  Game time is 7:10pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Jimmy Rollins Headed to the DL

In last night’s Phillies loss to the Nationals, shortstop Jimmy Rollins was lifted from the game early after an injury.  I tweeted a photo collage of J-Roll from the 2nd inning where he did a 360 move from catch to throw on a grounder, after which he was seen grimacing in pain.

It turns out the initial injury occurred as he ran to first base in the 1st inning.  Rollins tweeted me back with this information:

 

And then shortly after, he received the results of his MRI which led to these tweets:

 

So Rollins is on the DL with a grade 2 groin strain.  This is sad news :O(  Rollins has been having a very good year so to see him shut-down now is disappointing.

Placido Polanco is expected to come off the DL today, so the two players will most likely be swapping spots with no additional roster moves.

This also means continued playing time for both Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez, who have done a fantastic job filling in at third base.

I wish J-Roll all the best in his recovery; hopefully, he will be back very soon!

 

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

Phillies Rebound Against the Nats Behind Oswalt & Mayberry

If there were any questions about Roy Oswalt not pitching after the rain delay on Friday, those questions were answered tonight.  With a fresh start and no interruption in his routine, Oswalt was very sharp.

Oswalt tossed eight innings of shut-out baseball against the Nationals, allowing eight hits and a walk.  He began to look tired near the end of the eighth, but manager Charlie Manuel stuck with his man after a quick conversation on the mound.  Oswalt looked fantastic and best of all, the back issues do not seem to be bothering him anymore.

Another guy who had an outstanding night was John Mayberry Jr.  He had two hits and a walk tonight plus a huge play in the field.  In the fourth inning, Ryan Zimmerman tried to go 2nd to home on a Jayson Werth single.  Mayberry fielded the ball and fired.  It was a perfect, one-hop throw to catcher Carlos Ruiz that nailed Zimmerman at the plate.

 

Mayberry’s play recently is prompting questions about whether Raul Ibanez should even be in the starting line-up.  At the very least, this has already turned into a platoon with Mayberry starting against lefties.  But as Mayberry continues to out-perform Ibanez, how long will Manuel keep his loyalty to Ibanez?  That remains to be seen.

Several other players had multi-hit night’s as well including Ruiz and Jimmy Rollins.  And once again, Wilson Valdez was right in the middle things with a huge triple that scored the Phillies first two runs in the fourth inning.  And in the sixth, Hunter Pence hit his 14th of the year and fourth as a Phillie.

Michael Stutes took over for the Phillies in the ninth inning and had a nice outing.  His last appearance was not great, so this had to be a relief for Stutes to get in a clean inning.  The Phillies went on to win by a 5-0 score.

The finale of this 3-game series is scheduled for Sunday at 1:35pm with Roy Halladay pitching.  Sadly, it appears more rain is also on the schedule.  So cross your fingers & toes; with any luck, I will return from D.C. with photos.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Down Four Starters, the Phillies Rise Above Both the DBacks & the Rain

The Phillies began the game against the Diamondbacks last night without four of their starting players.  After pleading his three game suspension down to two games, Shane Victorino began that suspension last night.  And then Ryan Howard sat out with a sore hand and Carlos Ruiz was benched with a sore groin.  And of course, Placido Polanco is on the DL.

But the lack of star power in the line-up had little effect on this Phillies team, which is strong from top to bottom.  Rookie Vance Worley started the game and pitched three very solid innings before the rain began.  He did not allow a run and gave up only one hit.

The offense gave Worley support early, scoring one run on a Wilson Valdez double in the 2nd.  Then in the 3rd, John Mayberry Jr. came up big again with a monster 2-run homer.  It was Mayberry’s 10th homer of the year, which in limited at-bats, is very impressive.

Then suddenly the skies opened up and flooded the stadium as the grounds crew rushed to cover the field.  What appeared might be a short, 30 minute rain delay turned into two and a half hours.

By that time, Worley could not go back out and pitch so David Herndon took over.  Herndon has been given a lot of grief from the fans this year after he got off to a rocky start.  But in his last 22 games going back to May, Herndon is pitching at a 2.00 ERA.  He figured out why he was having issues in April and made the adjustment.

In this game against the D-Backs, Herndon pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.  In the 5th inning, he struck out the side.  Herndon has really improved his game.  Michael Stutes, on the other hand, is watching the scales slowly tip downward and out of his favor.

 

Stutes gets all the praise because he got off to a very good start, unlike Herndon.  Plus it does not hurt that he is adorable, right ladies?  So Stutes has gotten a pass in situations that Herndon has not.

But last night Stutes was visibly upset after allowing a home run in the 8th inning to the first batter.  Charlie Manuel was seen in the dugout consoling Stutes, patting him on the back as he held his head in his hands in defeat.

Why is Stutes so upset after a solo homer?  Because he too recognizes that things are beginning to go downhill for him.  In his last 12 games, Stutes is pitching at an ERA of 5.17.  His ERA has risen every month since ending May with a 2.38 ERA.  His total ERA is now up to 3.40.

Stutes, like a lot of rookies in the same position, is starting to struggle.  It could be a combination of many factors like a lack of experience, teams knowing better what to expect from him and being slightly overworked.  Stutes has pitched a lot and, especially for a rookie, this can take its toll.

Hopefully for Stutes, he can make an adjustment and work his way back, like Herndon has done.  But in the meantime, he may spend a lot of time being frustrated until he figures it out.

The one run Stutes allowed was the only run of the night for the D-Backs and the Phillies went on to win by a 4-1 score.  The Phillies, still holding the best record in baseball, became the first team to reach 80 wins on the season.

And the reason why the Phillies continue to have success is simple.  Like I mentioned earlier, they are solid in every aspect of the game.  More importantly, role players like Mayberry, Valdez and Herndon, continue to come through in big situations.  So even with four starters out and a rookie pitcher, they continue to win.

It is a good time to be a Phillies fan.

The Nationals are up next; game time tonight is 7:05pm with Roy Oswalt pitching.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Close Game Turns Into a Blow-Out in Phillies Win Over D-Backs

In their second game against the Diamondbacks, the Phillies spent seven innings embroiled in another tight pitching battle.  Cliff Lee was outstanding through seven, allowing only three hits, although one was a two-run homer.  After the home run though, the D-Backs could not get to Lee at all.

The game was tied 2-2 after a Jimmy Rollins lead-off homer and a John Mayberry Jr. RBI single.  But in the bottom of the seventh, the Phillies suddenly began smacking around the D-Backs pitching staff.

The Phils scored three runs in that half inning, with the big hit coming from third baseman Wilson Valdez.  With two men on base, Valdez hit a long, 2-run double that went all the way to the centerfield wall, giving the Phillies a two-run lead.

Valdez has not gotten much playing time lately.  Michael Martinez was on a good streak for a while and did most of the filling-in for the injured Placido Polanco at third.  So in case you have forgotten who Valdez is, here is a quick breakdown by the various types of “Wilson’s” you may know:

 

Valdez was once asked by a reporter why he did not have gloves with his name on them like the other players.  He said he did not need to get any specially made because his name was already on the glove; yes, his name is “Wilson.”

After Valdez put the team ahead, the runs kept on coming.  Rollins ended the day with two hits, two RBI and a walk.  Hunter Pence went 2-for-2 with two walks.  And Mayberry, another player who has not gotten a lot of playing time, had an outstanding day at the ballpark.  He led the team with three hits and an RBI.

Lee was pulled for a pinch hitter in the seventh so the bullpen finally got some work.  Antonio Bastardo and Ryan Madson pitched the eighth and ninth, respectively.  By the time Madson pitched, he had a 9-2 lead to work with.  The game was over quickly at that point.

Before the game today, Polanco was put on the DL with a groin strain, retroactive to August 7th.  RHP Michael Schwimer was called up to take his roster spot.  Schwimer has been amazing in Triple-A action, posting a 9-1 record with 10 saves and a 1.88 ERA.  He did not get into the game today, but with any luck, we may get a look at him soon.

Carlos Ruiz sat out today as well after getting hit with a ball in the groin yesterday.  The official report says he has a “Left Testicular Contusion.”  Ouch!  Poor Chooch…he is day to day.

Game 3 with the D-Backs is Thursday night at 7:05pm; Vance Worley and his fabulous red spectacles will be pitching.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Philadelphia Phillies 2011 First Half Report Card

Having ended the first half of the season with a 57-34 record, the best in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies have much to look forward to in the second half.  And although many injuries and questions still loom in the background, the first half of play was very successful for this team.

What makes the first half even more remarkable is that the Phillies were able to win despite injuries and missed time from a bucket-full of All-Star caliber players including Chase Utley, Roy Oswalt, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco.

In the bullpen, the Phillies are currently on their fourth closer of the year as the first three all went on the DL.  First Brad Lidge, then Jose Contreras and finally, Ryan Madson.

The rest of the pen has been run primarily by rookies and inexperienced players over the last several month.  But these players have stepped up and are keeping hope alive.

The following  is a look at the Phillies 2011 First Half Report Card.

Starting Pitching:  A+

The Phillies ended the first half with the best ERA in baseball at 3.02, the fewest earned runs allowed with 279 plus 11 complete games and 13 shut-outs, both of which are also the most in baseball.

Both Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels have earned 11 wins each and their ERA’s are 2.45 and 2.32, respectively.  Those numbers have prompted talk of a Cy Young award for one of the two pitchers.  Cliff Lee has been outstanding as well with a 2.82 ERA and nine wins.

The starters have suffered some major injuries, including Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton, both of whom are on the DL.  But the rookie Vance Worley has filled in admirably with an occasional spot start from Kyle Kendrick.

Bullpen:   B+

The Phillies bullpen has had some real challenges this year, including a plethora of injuries.  But thanks to some very young, very solid talent, the pen has endured.

What was thought to be a major team weakness at the start of the year has turned into a strength in many ways.

Lefty Antonio Bastardo has been outstanding and probably should have earned an All-Star nod.  In 33 innings, Bastardo has allowed only three earned runs and has a microscopic ERA of 0.82.  He has also gone 5-for-5 in save attempts since the Phillies sent their first three closer to the DL.

Michael Stutes and Juan Perez have also been very nice surprises.  If Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson can come back healthy in the second half, the bullpen will only be that much stronger.

Offense:  C-

The Phillies offense for the first half ranks 20th in all of baseball and 10th in the National League with a .250 team batting average.  Statistically, this puts them below average.

But their 377 RBI moves them up the list a little, ranking 11th among all teams and 10th in on-base percentage with .323.

The first couple months were rough without Chase Utley, who is hitting .280 since his return.  But other top team hitters like Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco have missed time with injuries as well, making it difficult for manager Charlie Manuel to post any sort of consistent line-up on a regular basis.

Ryan Howard is tied for the league lead in RBI with 72, which has helped carry this weakened offense.  But with so many rookies in the line-up because of injuries, the other veteran players will need to step up in the second half.

Defense:  A-

Statistically, the Phillies have the best defense in the National League and are around fourth best in all of baseball with 45 errors and a .987 fielding percentage.  Many teams have similar numbers, but looking at the major categories, I would put them in about fourth place.

Among position players, Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard have the highest fielding percentages on the team with .996 and .995, respectively.  Howard has improved his defense greatly over the past couple of years.

This team has a very solid defense.  There were a few games this year where sloppy play brought that into question, but they are humans, not robots.  Overall, it was a very good first half for the defense.

Attendance:  A+

The Phillies ended the first half on Sunday with their 172nd consecutive home sellout.  They are also first in total attendance for all of baseball with 2,228,630 fans so far this year, according to ESPN.  The Yankees were second with 2,173,619 fans.

The Phillies keep winning, and the fans keep the party going. 

1st Half MVP:  Roy Halladay

Because their numbers are very similar, I was tempted to go with Cole Hamels on this one.  But with six complete games and the most innings pitched in the National League, I am giving the first half MVP to Roy Halladay.

This man is a beast.  In Tuesday night’s All-Star game, Brian Wilson of the Giants called Halladay a “Cyborg.”  That seems fitting.

There is nothing Halladay won’t do to help his team win.  With 11 wins, a 2.45 ERA and team-leading 138 strike-outs, Halladay is the MVP.

Most Memorable 1st Half Moment:  Tie, Wilson Valdez & Cliff Lee

This one had to be a draw, because both players provided Phillies fans with some amazing memories this year so far.

First, watching Wilson Valdez tow the rubber in the May 25th 5-4 win in 19 innings over the Reds was simply unforgettable.  The Phillies ran out of pitchers and Valdez volunteered.  He pitched one perfect inning and the Phillies won the game in the bottom of the 19th as a result of his effort.

Before this win by Valdez, the last player to start a game in the field and get the win as a pitcher was Babe Ruth in 1921.  But the best part was hearing Valdez joke after the game that he could have gone three or four more innings if needed.

And then this past Saturday, pitcher Cliff Lee provided another memorable moment.  In the third inning, after a 10-pitch at-bat and six foul balls, Lee smashed his 1st career home run off the Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson, who watched in disbelief.

Lee spent most of his career in the American League, with few chances to hit.  But Lee has remarked on many occasions that he prefers the National League because he loves to hit.  And that joy was all over his face as he rounded the bases in front of thousands of screaming fans who gave him a standing ovation.

Watching a man who truly loves the game of baseball be rewarded in a way that is rarely seen was a real treat.  Pitchers do not hit many home runs and it is even less common among pitchers of Lee’s caliber. 

That was a moment that both Lee and all of the Philadelphia fans watching will not soon forget.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Halladay Earns 10th Win With Complete Game Against A’s

Before Sunday’s Phillies – Athletics match-up, the Phillies honored former major leaguer Bobby Shantz.  The 1952 American League MVP played for the Philadelphia A’s from 1949-1954 and for the Phillies in 1964.  He was joined on the field by Connie Mack’s 97-year-old daughter Ruth Mack Clark:

 

Once the game began, Roy Halladay was on point as usual.  He went the distance yet again, saving a depleted Phillies bullpen.  After nine innings, eight hits, one run and no walks, Halladay finally earned his 10th win of the year.


The offense was not spectacular again, but they got the job done.  Jimmy Rollins led the way, going 4-for-4 and scoring twice.  Shane Victorino and Ben Francisco each sent  J-Roll home once.  The third run scored with no outs in the first while Ryan Howard grounded into a double play.  But he knocked in a run, so he is forgiven.


There were some odd plays on defense as well.  The A’s struggled to hit Halladay and as a result, they managed a bunch of weak fly balls that landed in the middle of nowhere.  Wilson Valdez had a real adventure at second base playing in place of Chase Utley for the day.  A few balls hit in no-man’s land seemed catchable, but ultimately they eluded Valdez.


The Phillies collected a 3-1 win over the A’s and won the series by two games to one.  They have a day off today before starting a 3-game series with the Red Sox on Tuesday.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.  Enjoy!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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