It looks like #13 was unlucky for Roy Oswalt. In his 13th career start at Citizens Bank Park, Oswalt lost his first game in the ballpark thanks to a non-existent offense. It was a 2-0 shut-out by the Rangers.
Let me rephrase: The Phillies did have bats and some did swing them, but no runs ever crossed the plate. In the last nine games, the Phillies are averaging FIVE hits a game. Yes, five hits, not runs. They hit over 5 runs only twice in that spam.
Sunday was no different. Five hits, NO runs. This has been a bad case of déjà vu for the starting pitchers, who have been the victims of the invisible run support.
Today, there were a lot of pop-ups, swings at bad pitches, no swings at good pitches, confused looks and ball hit right at fielders:
The déjà vu continued as catcher Dane Sardinha got on base in both the 3rd and 5th innings. Both times, Oswalt bunted him to second. And both times, with one out and a runner in scoring position, Jimmy Rollins popped out.
Oswalt continued to pitch well, despite the disappointing offense. He went seven innings, allowing only one run. And the Phillies had some nice defensive plays as well, including a pair of double plays and some acrobatics by Wilson Valdez.
And then there was this play, where Rollins tagged out Elvis Andrus, but the umpire missed the tag. It did not matter anyway, as Oswalt got out of the inning.
The second Rangers run was charged to J.C. Romero. But again, it did not really matter as the Phillies batters were hitting anything.
The good news is that Chase Utley is back! Pete Orr was sent to the minors to make room and Utley will make his 2011 debut on Monday night against the Reds. The Phillies are counting on Utley to light a fire under this offense.
Joe Blanton was placed on the DL as expected and Vance Worley will replace him, pitching on Tuesday night.
The Phils also signed veteran outfielder Scott Podsednik to a minor-league deal as a back-up plan after the Blue Jays released him. Podsednik is a lifetime .279 hitter but he has had issues with plantar fasciitis in his foot, which is why the Jays let him go. If he can take time to heal, he could be useful later in the season.
The Reds game starts at 7:05pm tomorrow night. In the meantime, here is the full Photo Album from today’s massacre…I mean, game.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
After losing four games in a row, the Phillies needed someone to stop the bleeding. Cole Hamels, with help from his defense and second baseman Wilson Valdez, was able to get the Phillies a 2-1 win over the Rockies on Wednesday night.
Hamels tossed eight innings of one-run ball, allowing only five hits. In short, he was spectacular. His five wins this season tie Roy Halladay and his 2.92 ERA is second, also behind Halladay.
The defense played well behind him, with John Mayberry Jr. getting a key out in the first inning. On a single hit to right field, Mayberry threw out Alfredo Amezaga going to third base. The next batter hit a fly ball to center so, Amezaga would have tagged up and scored had been safe at third.
And although the Phillies offense continues to struggle, Wilson Valdez came up big on a number of occasions. He went 2 for 3 in the game with an RBI-single in the fifth. In the eighth, Valdez singled again. Shane Victorino bunted him over to second and then Valdez advanced to third on a wild pitch. He then scored the go-ahead run on a Jimmy Rollins sac fly.
It was nice to see Victorino in a game, however, he is still having issues running and is scheduled for an MRI on Thursday.
As for the unlikely hero, Valdez, he is hitting .400 with runners in scoring position and .667 with the bases loaded. Both of those stats lead the team. It is hard to expect much more out of a guy who has filled in for Chase Utley all year. Valdez has been amazing.
The second and final game with the Rockies is tonight at 7:05pm. Joe Blanton will pitch.
Photo 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
The Phillies were finally able to salvage a win out of the 3-game series with the Diamondbacks today. Cole Hamels allowed three runs on four hits and a walk in the 8-4 victory.
But the real news was the offense, which finally showed signs of life after scoring only 17 runs in the first six games of this road trip.
Not surprisingly, Placido Polanco continued his hot streak, going 4-for-4 in the game today and scoring three times. Polly has been the only player unaffected by this hitting slump.
Jimmy Rollins had his first multi-hit game since April 12th with an RBI-double and a 2-run homer. Shane Victorino also had two hits and both he and Ryan Howard homered in the game as well.
But while most starters were productive, Wilson Valdez still looks like he has no clue at all at the plate, swinging at anything within nearly a 10-mile radius. Raul Ibanez did not start and was 0-1 in a pinch hitting appearance. In his place, John Mayberry Jr. had one hit and two walks.
The Phils got off to a fast start, putting up three runs in the first inning. But then catcher Carlos Ruiz suddenly disappeared and Brian Schneider was brought in to catch in the bottom half of the first inning. Later, it was reported that Ruiz had lower back discomfort.
So are the Phillies playing some weird, made-up game? We can call it Pass The Problem. Roy Oswalt maybe passed on his back pain to Ruiz? And maybe Brad Lidge passed on his arm/shoulder/elbow pain to Jose Contreras? Whatever it is, it need to stop!
As for Oswalt, he left the team today to head home to Mississippi where a tornado landed close to his home. Last year, Oswalt’s parents had their home destroyed by a tornado. So now, he is understandably concerned about his wife and kids who are near the disaster zone. Hopefully, his family is fine. There is no additional word yet on the situation.
There has also not been any news about whether Ruiz is seriously hurt or not. I will keep you posted.
As for the rest of the team, they have a day off tomorrow before beginning the home stand against the Mets on Friday night at 7:05pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
After not allowing a single run to the Padres in two straight games, the Phillies finally yielded on Saturday night in the first inning. Joe Blanton got roughed up quickly. On his first three pitches of the game, he allowed a single and an RBI triple to break the Padres scoreless streak.
But after getting out of the early jam, Blanton settled down and actually pitched very well. In seven innings, he allowed just two runs on eight hits and two walks. Blanton finally lowered his ERA below six; it sits at 5.92 right now and hopefully, will get better as the season progresses.
Placido Polanco got the day off at third base, which seemed like an odd choice considering he is the only Phillie really hitting right now. Wilson Valdez took third and Pete Orr filled in at second. Both players had one hit each, but overall, the offense suffered again.
Jimmy Rollins and Ben Francisco accounted for the Phillies two runs. After Rollins walked in the fourth, Francisco tripled to score him. Then in the sixth, Rollins singled to score Orr who had doubled before him.
Just a quick side note, I noticed last week that Orr already has a fan club, Orr’s Oars. A group of fans have been wielding boat oars in the outfield in Orr’s honor. Also interesting to note, Orr’s cousin, Nick Boynton, plays for the Flyers.
And yes, that is how sad the offense was in this game. I was so bored, I made a hockey reference.
Here are just a few examples of the Phillies offensive woes: Raul Ibanez has not had a hit in 17 at-bats. Frankly, I think John Mayberry Jr. should get some playing time until Ibanez figures it out. And Rollins is batting .120 in his last seven games.
The Padres have similar issues and as such, neither team looked good on offense. That led to extra innings after both teams were unable to score again in a 2-2 tie game. This would become a battle of the bullpens.
As it turned out, the Phillies bullpen came out on top thanks to an RBI-single by Howard in the 11th. That hit was huge for Howard as he had struck out in each of his previous four at-bats. The two runs that scored gave the Phillies a 4-2 lead which Ryan Madson held down for his second save in a row.
The Phillies are up 3-0 in the series with the final game today at 4:05pm.
The Phillies avoided a sweep at the hands of the Brewers this afternoon with a 4-3 win. The 2-1 series loss was the first series loss of their season.
The Phils offense went 17 straight innings in this series without scoring a run. John Mayberry Jr. got the first hit of the game, but that did not happen until the 5th inning. Then finally in the sixth, Wilson Valdez (photo) drew a walk and Shane Victorino singled. Placido Polanco then smacked his second homer of the week to tie the game up at 3-3.
Cliff Lee had a slightly off day, although he kept the team in the game. Through six innings, Lee allowed two earned runs on eight hits and a walk. The third run was the result of a Valdez error.
Valdez made up for the error in the ninth, after a Victorino homer gave the Phillies the lead the inning before. Valdez ran backwards after a fly ball that was over his head, reached out and snagged the ball. That play saved closer Jose Contreras from a very difficult inning. Contreras then struck out Ryan Braun to end the game.
The Phillies now travel to the West coast for a 4-game series with the Padres. Thursday’s game starts at 10:05pm and Roy Oswalt, feeling better since having back issues, will pitch. Phillies fans, prepare for some late nights in the coming week.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
In a week full of opposites, Roy Halladay had a bad game against the Brewers. The night before Joe Blanton had a good game and in both games, the offense did not show up. The Phillies are currently in some sort of cruel and unusual time warp where nothing is as it should be.
To their credit, the Brewers defense stole a few hits from the Phillies with running grabs in the outfield. Those balls looked like they were far out of reach, but the Brewers ran them down.
The Phillies did not look like themselves at all. Carlos Ruiz threw away a ground ball that should have been an out; Ryan Howard missed a grounder at first; and then the bullpen handed the Brewers a bunch of runs in a game that was already out of control.
As Halladay was pulled in a 4-0 game, David Herndon threw two pitches and gave up a 3-run homer. Mike Zagurski, recalled from AAA to take JC Romero’s spot on the roster, also did some damage. He walked the first batter he saw and then allowed a 2-run single. Both run were charged to Herndon and all that happened with two outs in the inning. The score was 9-0 after that seventh inning.
As a side note, Zagurski has been recalled from AAA a number of times over the years in both 2007 and 2010, after multiple injuries and surgeries. His lifetime ERA in the Bigs through 2010 is 6.99. In other words, he does well in the minors and implodes in the majors. It has happened every time and Tuesday night was no different. Although, the runs he allowed will not be charged to him, he still failed to hold the score down and give the Phils a chance to come back.
The Phillies offense is now officially a major problem. They went through these super-slumps all last year, which eventually resulted in the firing of hitting coach Milt Thompson. Like a bad case of deja vu, here we go again.
In fact, the Phillies lead hitter with runners in scoring position is currently Wilson Valdez. Not Ryan Howard, not Jimmy Rollins or even Raul Ibanez…Wilson Valdez, going into today’s game was batting .556 with RISP. Howard is at .286, Rollins is .188…you get the picture. No offense to Valdez who is a very solid player, but if he is the team leader in hits with RISP, there is a serious problem.
The Phillies have one shot left at a win over the Brew Crew tomorrow afternoon at 1:05pm. Cliff Lee will pitch and hopefully, the offense will show up for him.