If someone had told me that by the end of June this season, Carlos Ruiz would be leading all of baseball in batting average, I may have checked to see if that person was running a fever. Chooch has always been a good player; but he has never been .361 with 10 home runs-good. The 10 homers, including one in last night’s 5-4 win over the Pirates, is a career high. And it is only June…
So yes, Chooch leads everyone in batting average with .361. That is better than past MVP’s Joey Votto and Josh Hamilton. Ruiz has also outhit fellow catchers and All-Star voting leaders Yadier Molina and Brian McCann. Soooooo….VOTE FOR CHOOCH! We have until Thursday to get him to the All-Star game!
But even if that fails, manager Charlie Manuel told reporters yesterday that he plans on calling Tony La Russa, the NL All-Star team manager, to plead the case for Chooch. Manuel always sticks up for his players, but especially in this case, Ruiz really deserves the honor.
Chooch put his stamp all over last night’s win. He went 3-for-4 with a homer and 2 RBI. And while catching, Ruiz saved two runs from scoring by blocking the plate and tagging out the runners.
The biggest of those plays came in the 7th inning after starter Vance Worley got into a real jam. With no outs, 2 runners on base and 1 run already across, Worley was removed and rookie Michael Schwimer took over. Schwimer coaxed a ground out and then a short fly ball to left. One the fly ball, John Mayberry Jr. made a great throw home, which Ruiz caught and tagged the runner for an inning-ending double play.
That play kept the Phillies lead intact and Chooch’s subsequent homer added to that lead. The home run he hit in the 8th turned out to be a game saver as closer Jonathan Papelbon struggled in the 9th, allowing a solo homer. But the Ruiz blast made the difference in the 5-4 win.
The Phillies have now won 2 of the first 4 games against the Pirates, which is great news; because tonight’s 7:05pm game is going to be started and finished by the Phillies bullpen. The rainout on Friday forced a juggling of the pitching staff, leaving them 1 starter short this week. So Raul Valdes will start the game and likely pitch 3 innings, passing the ball on to the rest of the pen after that.
And while you are watching the game, do not forget to VOTE FOR CHOOCH!
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
These are the kind of games that make me wonder why so much emphasis is put on pitcher wins and losses. It is a flawed statistic. Phillies starter Cliff Lee has a 2.82 ERA in 7 starts and NO wins through no fault of his own. At least 5 of those he should definitely have won, but the offense did not help out.
Why is the win/loss stat still heavily relied upon when determining who should be an All-Star, an MVP or a Cy Young winner? Lee is a prime example of why this should not be an influential factor in those decisions or in figuring who the top pitchers in baseball are.
You can then see why Lee is obviously frustrated as evidenced by an altercation in the dugout last night with Shane Victorino. After two missed fly balls in the 4th inning, one by Victorino and one by Hunter Pence, the Cardinals took the lead in the game, leading to another no decision for Lee.
The two balls were lost in the twilight and probably not really anyone’s fault. But the chain of events did emphasize a larger issue; this Phillies offense is wildly inconsistent and the starting pitchers are rightly annoyed. In fact, assuming Lee spoke for everyone last night, I am glad they are annoyed. It shows that they actually give a crap. And maybe this little outburst will light a fire under the rest of the team.
Lee is frustrated more than most as he has received the least amount of run support. And for a guy that has a reputation of being laid back and never getting rattled, seeing him tee-off on Victorino last night speaks volumes. Clearly, he does care…a lot.
Victorino later made some great defensive plays to keep the Phillies within reach. A solid relay throw to Freddy Galvis turned into an out at the plate in the 8th inning as Yadier Molina tried to bowl over Carlos Ruiz. In his usual tough guy style, Ruiz held onto the ball despite the blow.
And Lee helped his own cause with 2 hits and huge run scored in the 7th where he went from first to home and looked good doing it. After the play, Lee probably could have used some oxygen, but he was just fine.
That run tied the game, which went to extra innings. And then Pence, who made the 2nd blunder in the outfield earlier, came out the hero with a 2-run homer in the 10th. Jonathan Papelbon closed out the 5-3 win for the Phillies 3rd straight victory.
Game 3 with the Cardinals starts tonight at 7:15pm; Kyle Kendrick will start.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The curse continues for the National League as they lost their 12th consecutive All-Star Game tonight against the American League. And poor Charlie Manuel became the first Phillies manager in history to lose the All-Star game :O( Phils now hold a record of 6-1. No worries Charlie…just bring us another Championship and all will be forgotten :O)
The first inning did not exactly kick the game off right for the National League as Tim Lincecum struggled and allowed one earned run. An unearned run also scored in the inning after an error. Yes folks, as Albert Pujols booted a ball at first base, an angel lost its wings…and the American League took a 2-0 lead. It’s ok though…we still love Albert :O)
The NL battled back and scored 3 in the 2nd inning thanks to hits by David Wright, Shane Victorino (yeah!) and Yadier Molina. After that, offense all around was fairly quiet until the 8th inning. Curtis Granderson tripled, Victor Martinez was given the intentional walk and then Adam Jones hit a sac fly to score Granderson and give the AL a 4-3 lead. The NL got their shot in the bottom half of the inning; Ryan Howard was sent in to pinch hit with 2 outs and 2 on in the 8th and he went down on strikes to end the threat. Ugh. The ever-adorable Mariano Rivera closed out the game for the AL in the 9th and so, the curse goes on.
As for the rest of the Phillies, Chase Utley went hitless, but had several stellar defensive plays. Victorino ended up 1 for2 with a run scored; Jayson Werth struck out after a great at-bat against Jonathan Papelbon and later, made an amazing running catch in centerfield; and Raul Ibanez went 0 for 2, but looked thrilled anyway just to be playing. It was his first All-Star appearance in his 14th major league season at 37 years of age. Congrats to Raul for finally getting there!
As for the broadcast, FOX was annoying as usual. I think I heard more about Taco Bell and Domino’s Pizza than I did about the game. And while it was nice to hear the President Obama in the broadcast booth, was it really necessary to see him? Don’t get me wrong; I love Obama and all that, but I already know what he looks like. I’d have been just as happy to hear him speak while the game was showed in its entirety on the TV screen, instead of the annoying flashes back and forth from individual pitches to a visual of Obama in the booth.
Pedro – Say It Ain’t So!
Much to the dismay of Phillies fans everywhere, Pedro Martinez passed his physical and has been signed by the Phillies. Pedro will get 1 million plus another possible 1.5 million in incentives. He will need about 3 weeks of rehab and minor league work to be ready. The good news is that the price is cheap; however, we are all familiar with the saying “you get what you pay for.” If Martinez has some magic left in that arm, then this deal will turn out to be a real bargain; if not, at least they did not overpay.
Personally, I worry more about the clubhouse chemistry being disrupted than anything else. Martinez is notorious for his sandpaper-like personality and penchant for creating controversy. If he does not pitch well, no biggie. It was a small investment. But if he wreaks havoc on the peaceful and serene Phillies-vibe, then the deal will not have been worth the risk. We shall see how it goes…
A Day Without Baseball?
So no baseball tomorrow…except for the Double-A All-Star Game in Trenton, NJ. I will be risking life and limb as I venture into Trenton, the dregs of Jersey, but will be attending the game anyway. ;O) Four Phillies prospects will be in the game, with Michael Taylor participating in the Home Run Derby. I will return (I hope) with photos and all body parts still in place. Wish me luck :O)
Photo by Jenn