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
Just when it looks like Jamie Moyer might fold, like after allowing 9 runs in one inning in his last start, he comes out firing again. In 8 innings against the Yankees tonight, Moyer gave up two solo homers, a single, a walk and that is all; no other hits and no other base runners.
The 47-year old Moyer simply does not let a bad start get him down. It is a really amazing thing to see.
Moyer’s great performance came on the anniversary of his major league debut, June 16, 1986. Yankee batters had an eye-popping experience as they were mowed down by Moyer’s slow-motion pitches.
AJ Burnett pitched for the Yanks and as his history dictates, he either runs hot or cold. Luckily for a sleepy Phils offense, Burnett was running cold tonight. They took advantage and scored six runs off him.
There were many things that occurred tonight which Phillies fans have not seen in a long time:
– Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth hit homers.
– Those homers were of the back-to-back variety.
– A triple! A’la Shane Victorino :O)
– Raul Ibanez stole a base; last time that happened was May 2009.
– Greg Dobbs got a hit – Dobbs has only 10 hits all season so far.
– Wilson Valdez avoided hitting into a double play; Valdez has grounded into 10 double plays this year in only 25 games started and 34 games played total.
– Jamie Moyer pitched at least 8 innings for only the 3rd time this year in 13 starts.
– Smiles from the Phillies players.
– I watched a Phillies game through 8 innings without screaming cuss words at the TV or downing a bottle of Tums. This is a real accomplishment. However, I do not want to talk about the 9th inning…
And I suppose a win is something we have not seen much of this past month either so, hallelujah for that! The 6-3 win was capped off by Brad Lidge in the 9th who ran into some trouble, allowing a run in the inning. He also managed to get two runners on base and bring the tying run to the plate with two outs. But finally, he struck out Jorge Posada and ended it. Whew!
Kyle Kendrick will pitch in the finale of the series tomorrow night at 7:05pm. If he can gather some inspiration from Moyer’s comeback and the offense can pick it up, a win is possible. Cross your fingers and toes…
Jeter photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Once again, things did not go well for the Phillies tonight. The way they have been playing, most expected them to struggle against the Yankees. But with Roy Halladay on the mound, you had to figure tonight would be their best chance at a win. No such luck…
In the first of a 3-game series in New York, the Phillies went down in flames by a score of 8-3. Halladay had a very bad day, allowing 6 runs, including 3 homers. Halladay has only given up 3 homers in a game nine times in his career; the last 3 times have been against the Yankees. Visably upset at the home plate umpire in the second inning,
Halladay nearly imploded while giving up a triple that scored 2 runs. The next inning was worse as he surrendered 2 homers and 3 runs. Halladay had trouble containing his emotions tonight and it hurt him.
The Phillies offense did not help either as they put forth a real effort in only one inning. With the bases loaded and no outs in the 4th inning, the Phils scraped 3 runs off CC Sabathia with a bunch of singles and a force out that scored a run. They should have scored more, but Juan Castro was fanned on a 96mph fastball and Carlos Ruiz followed up with a weak ground out. And after that inning, the offense went right back to sleep.
Manager Charlie Manuel tried to shake up the lineup by flip-flopping Placido Polanco and Chase Utley, with Utley batting second. Utley did have 2 hits in the game, but still does not look like his old self. Todd Zolecki tweeted today, “”Asked Chase Utley before the game if he’s healthy. “As far as I know I’m healthy, yes,” he said. “That’s cryptic,” I said. He did not laugh.”” Read what you would like into that, but it does seem that Utley may be having another mystery issue.
The bottom line here is, the offense has shown no signs of life. The Phils have been so awful, I think they may have better success with brain surgery than hitting a baseball. And the pitching has suddenly taken a crap, as witnessed tonight and also by the 9 runs each allowed by Joe Blanton and Jamie Moyer in their last starts. And when Halladay is allowing 6 runs a game, you know that things are very, very bad.
Even worse, the next two starters scheduled to pitch are Moyer and the wildly inconsistent Kyle Kendrick…against the Yankees. If it were the Orioles, maybe they might stand a chance. Instead, this match-up looks like a disaster waiting to happen. Hope that the veteran Moyer can rebound and inject some life into this team! Game time Wednesday night is 7:05pm.
Happy Bunny by Jim Benton
On the verge of being swept in Boston, the Phillies would rely today on the arm of Cole Hamels. Much improved since last season, Hamels did not let his team down. Hamels pitched 7 strong innings against the Red Sox allowing just one run on 5 hits and 2 walks. Normally, Hamels fastball clocks in around 88-92mph but today, he was topping out at 96mph. The extra kick helped and he left the mound with his team in a good position to win the game.
But the Phillies offense would have to face knuckleballer Tim Wakefield again, who beat them up badly in Philly last month. Wakefield is an otherwise mediocre pitcher, but he certainly has the Phillies number. In the first inning, the Phils offensive woes continued as they loaded the bases with no outs but did not score. Ryan Howard hit a fly ball but Shane Victorino decided it was too close to tag and stayed at third. Then Jayson Werth hit into a double play to end the threat. Werth would later drop a fly ball in the outfield, adding to his woes.
In the 4th inning though, it looked like the Phils may have figured Wakefield out. They scored 4 runs on 2 doubles, 2 singles and a Raul Ibanez homer. But again, another double play, this time from Carlos Ruiz, ended the inning. The Phillies have certainly figured out how to shoot themselves in the foot recently.
Lucky for them, Hamels was spectacular and they went into the 8th inning with a 4-1 lead. Jose Contreras held the Sox down in the 8th, despite allowing 2 singles. In the 9th, Werth redeemed himself by walking and then stealing 2 bases. A sac fly from Ben Francisco scored Werth and gave the Phils a 5-1 lead.
But in their usual fashion, the Phillies made the 9th inning an adventure in a game they desperately needed to win. JC Romero gave up a double and later, Ruiz let a pitch sail past him to score a run for the Sox. Now in a save situation, Brad Lidge was brought in to finish the job. Lidge gave everyone a heart attack when he allowed another run, but did finally get out of the jam and save the game. The Phillies win, 5-3.
While the win today is a huge relief for the fast falling Phils, what ails them is clearly not past. The offense still sputtered in many situations where they should have scored and the bullpen began to look shaky again. Monday will be an off-day while the Phillies try to screw their heads on right before a 3-game series with their World Series rivals, the New York Yankees. Otherwise, the Yanks are going to feast on the failing Phils. Cross your fingers…
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
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
So another Opening Day has passed and the Phillies are on their way to global dominance…or, something like it anyway ;o) If you missed my photos from the event, check out the PHOTO ALBUM which includes Opening Day ceremonies, President Obama’s first pitch and game action.
And now it is time to start the season off right and introduce yourselves to the newest members of the 2010 Phillies. The first one is easy…if you do not know who Roy Halladay is, you are clearly not a Phillies fan. No worries though…only one game has passed; you have time to catch up . Here is Mr. Halladay on the right with his very, very serious pre-game face on. This former Cy Young winner goes by the nickname “Doc” and he is pretty amazing. Enough said.
The few players you may not know well include pitchers Danys Baez, Jose Contreras and David Herndon; outfielder Ross Gload, infielder Juan Castro and catcher Brian Schneider, pictured here in that order from left to right, top to bottom:
Both Baez and Contreras are Cuban defectors; Baez is in his 9th major league season, pitched last for the Orioles and has a name that defies normal spelling rules. Contreras, not as hard to spell, is in his 7th season and helped the Yankees coin the term “Evil Empire” when they signed him over the Red Sox back in 2002. In other words, the Sox were pissed….end of story.
Herndon was in the Angels minor leagues last year and this will be his first shot at the bigs. Ladies, he is single and plays the guitar…go get him! I kid…
As for Gload, this is his 9th season in the majors and his 6th team. He is a lifetime .283 hitter and should be a solid bench player for the Phillies. Castro is another veteran going into his 16th season; he will be 38 in June and may start taking the same youth-inducing vitamins Jamie Moyer does ;o) He is not a power hitter, but will be a good defensive back-up for the infield. Schneider, formerly of the Mets and Nationals, is very familiar with the Phillies. And as a former Phillies-killer, we are glad to have him on our side now. His 11th season will be served as back-up to Carlos Ruiz.
And as a bonus, here are a few guys who are not really new, but you may not know them. Pitchers Antonio Bastardo and Drew Carpenter are still rookies who spent a very short time with the Phillies last year. They spent most of 2009 in the Phillies minors.
And then there is Placido Polanco, who returns to the Phillies after almost a 5 year absence; he was traded in 2005 to the Tigers. But after his record-setting performance of 6 RBI in one game yesterday, the most by any Phillie on Opening Day, I am confident you now know who he is. Welcome back, Polly!
Cole Hamels will take the mound against the Nationals in game 2 tomorrow at 7:05pm…Go Phillies!
Photos by Jenn
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