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
It has been an interesting few days for the Phillies. On Sunday, they finished off a four-game sweep of the Padres, scoring only 12 runs total in all of those games. An inside-the-park homer by Shane Victorino helped seal Sunday’s sweep.
That same day, closer Jose Contreras was sent to the DL with a strained right flexor pronator tendon in his elbow. As a result, Michael Stutes joined the club to fill the roster spot and made his major league debut on Monday.
Also on Monday night, the Phillies five-game win streak ended with a 0-4 shut-out loss to the D-Backs. Cliff Lee pitched an odd game where he struck out 12 batters but still allowed four runs in seven innings. However, Lee’s performance was basically rendered obsolete as the Phils offense did absolutely nothing to help out.
The three-hit shutout by the Diamondbacks Ian Kennedy where he struck out 10 batters and did not issue a walk, matched a team record. Only two other pitchers in team history tossed a shutout while allowing three or fewer hits with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks. One was Curt Schilling on April 10, 2001 against the Dodgers (2 hits allowed, 10 SO) and the other, Randy Johnson, when he pitched a perfect game on May 18, 2004 at Atlanta (13 SO).
While that feat by Kennedy is very impressive, the Phillies offense certainly made it a little easier on him by swinging at bad pitches and watching good ones fly by.
The Phils offensive offense has not scored more than four runs in 14 consecutive games this season. They currently rank 28th in baseball for runs scored since April 9th.
The worst offender amongst the starters has been Raul Ibanez, who is hitting just .179. He should be benched in favor of John Mayberry Jr. until he figures things out. Maybe at almost 39-year old, Ibanez needs to be in a platoon with Mayberry to get him more rest.
Team leader Jimmy Rollins is also not producing. He got off to a hot start and has seriously cooled off. Rollins has not had a multi-hit game since April12th. He has batted .182 since that time.
But a few players are not to blame. The entire team is just not hitting, as if they all caught the same virus at once. If the disease continues to spread, who will be the fall guy? Last year it was hitting coach Milt Thompson. Frankly, the players themselves need to be held accountable. Play the bench guys until the starters find their swings.
While the bench is solid, it is not the long-term solution. However, maybe benching a few guys will light a fire under them. Because the Phillies have few other options.
Their payroll is maxed out. The Phillies will never be a team that decides to pay the luxury tax along with the Yankees. So as far as getting new blood into the line-up, they are out of options. Besides, it is only April and no teams are ready to trade anyone yet.
Then again, it is only April. The team is still winning, despite the offense, thanks to a solid starting staff. But even the pitchers are going to get weary of the lack of support very soon.
So choose your most relaxing yoga pose and just keep telling yourself, “It’s only April. Its only April…”
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.
On Thursday night, the Phillies snuck away with a 3-0 win against the Padres even though their offense is still anemic. Home runs by Ben Francisco and Brian Schneider paved the way for Roy Oswalt to collect his third win of the year.
While Oswalt appeared to have no ill effects from last week’s back issue, he did wind up having to toss a lot of pitches to get through six innings. It was 106 pitches, to be exact. The bullpen held the lead despite each reliever allowing one hit and one walk each.
Friday night, Cole Hamels took the mound and looked great in front of his hometown crowd. Usually comfy in San Diego, Hamels seemed to be relaxed and in control. He was even one of the best batters of the night with two hits, although he had a brain freeze and got picked off first base once.
Hamels cruised through eight innings without allowing a run. The Padres managed only four hits and three walks, one of which was intentional.
As for the Phillies offense, there has been very little of that lately. Two walks in the third inning led to a 2-RBI triple by Ryan Howard which accounted for the Phillies only two runs of the game. Lucky for them, Hamels brought his A-game and kept the Padres off the scoreboard.
The ninth inning was handed to Ryan Madson. Jose Contreras got a day off since he has pitched a lot lately. Madson has struggled in the closer role in the past, but tonight he had no issues. The Phillies went on to win by a score of 2-0.
There are two more games in the series. Saturday’s game time is 8:35pm and Joe Blanton will pitch.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
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.
Like they did in their last two games, the Phillies jumped out to an early lead Monday night with a run in the first inning against the Brewers. But also like the previous two games, after scoring in the first, the Phillies offense went to sleep. So the question is, who put the Ambien in the Gatorade?
The offense was off to a very good start early in the season. But suddenly, the bats have vanished. Pitcher Joe Blanton had the opposite start to the season; he was awful in his first two starts.
Now, the roles are reversed. Blanton finally looked sharp tonight, throwing 7 solid innings where he allowed just two runs on seven hits and a walk. The Phillies could not have asked for more from him.
But Blanton should have put in a request for some offense. Because the red-hot bats have gone stone cold. The one run they did score came off a Brewers error which allowed Jimmy Rollins to reach base on what should have been an inning-ending double play ball. Ryan Howard knocked Rollins in with a single and then, it was nap time.
Both Howard and Placido Polanco had two hits each, but no one else really looked conscious. In the seventh, they squeaked out one more unearned run after another Brewers error. That tied the game at 2-2. A freak double play ended the inning as Polanco hit a low line drive that no human being should have been able to catch. The ball ricocheted off the pitcher’s back, flew up into the air and somehow, Yuniesky Betancourt snagged it, doubling Michael Martinez off second.
But then Ryan Madson finally had a bad game and gave up the first run of his season. The Brewers jumped ahead 3-2 in the eighth inning. Could this sleepy Phillies offense bail him out?
The short answer is no. Although Pete Orr smacked a game-tying RBI-double in the ninth, pitcher Kyle Kendrick killed any chance at a win. The game went extra innings and in the 12th, Kendrick had a Murphy’s Law inning. Anything that could go wrong did.
Kendrick walked the first batter on four pitches and then proceeded to screw up in every conceivable way. He made an errant throw, a wild pitch, hit a batter and walked two more intentionally. The only thing he did not do was break down and cry like a little girl, although he probably wanted to.
Three runs later, the Brewers sealed the win at 6-3 as the offense still refused to wake up. It was a sad loss.
On Sunday afternoon, Chase Utley was running the bases during batting practice. Today, he was doing sprinting drills. The fact that he followed a day of running with a day of sprints means he suffered no ill effects from the running. That is very good news.
Utley has been able to take batting practice and do some infield drills as well throughout the rehab process. If he can run full speed without pain, he may be on the field soon that expected.
As for Domonic Brown, his broken hand is healing well and he went 2-for-3 in an extended spring game today.
Roy Oswalt says he feels fine after some back spasms on Friday which caused him to leave the game against the Marlins early. While no official decision has been made, it appears he will make his next start on Thursday.
J.C. Romero left the game in the ninth after getting the first two outs. As he lunged for a ground ball, he began hopping and limping. He has a strained right calf and will likely go on the DL. And MRI is scheduled for Tuesday.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies celebrated the Phanatic’s birthday today. Afterwards, they got to celebrate a win as well. In a very close 3-2 victory over the Marlins, the Phillies saw their season record improve to 10-4 in front of the second largest regular season crowd since Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004.
All 45,716 people were treated to a birthday party for the Phanatic before the game began. Local Philly mascots and some mascots from other MLB teams joined the party too. The ZOOperstars also attended and yes, there was a cake made entirely of Tastycakes:
As for the game, Placido Polanco got the Phillies off to fast start with a solo homer off Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez in the first inning. A single by Raul Ibanez later knocked Jimmy Rollins in for a 2-0 lead.
And that is how the score would remain for five innings as Cole Hamels looked very sharp. He finally bent in the sixth, allowing two runs, but finished seven full innings without giving up a big inning.
Hamels’ performance was what kept the Phillies in the game as the hits were not coming easily. Polanco would up with three hits and Ben Francisco had two. That accounted for five of the Phillies eight hits total.
There were some odd and sloppy plays throughout the game by both teams. Ibanez made a spectacular running catch in the fourth inning (see photo below). But the next inning, he missed basically the exact same ball. And Shane Victorino stumbled while on first base and got picked off in the fifth:
The third run for the Phillies was courtesy of a Marlins goof in the eighth. Ryan Howard hit a fly ball to left and Logan Morrison somehow missed it as the sun appeared to interfere with his vision. Francisco took advantage and singled and then Ibanez moved Howard to third on a ground out. Carlos Ruiz put the RBI on the board with a sac fly, giving the Phils the 3-2 lead.
In the ninth, Jose Contreras did his best Brad Lidge imitation and scared the crap out of everyone in attendance with a circus-like save. He walked the first batter and a few ground balls moved the runner to third.
As if this were not frightening enough, Contreras then walked Chris Coghlan, who then stole second base. But Omar Infante then grounded out for the third out and Contreras got his third save of the year, although it was not pretty.
The Phillies split the 2 games with the Marlins as Saturday’s game has been rescheduled for 6/15. On Monday night, they begin a 3-game series with the Brewers. Game time is 7:05pm and Joe Blanton will pitch.
The full Photo Album from today’s game, including batting practice and the birthday bash, will be posted tomorrow afternoon. Check back for that.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies – Marlins game scheduled for 7:05pm tonight was cancelled due to rain. The new date is Wednesday, June 15th at 1:05pm as part of a day-night doubleheader.
So tomorrow afternoon, Cole Hamels will pitch. Game time is 1:35pm.
In the meantime, I thought I would share some interesting baseball information with you since there is no game and therefore, I have nothing else to do ;o)
Zach Hample, known better as the Baseball Collector, has written a new book entitled, “The Baseball: Stunts, Scandals, and Secrets Beneath the Stitches.” As the title implies, it is all about the actual, physical ball used in MLB.
One of the secrets it reveals is that each ball is stamped with invisible ink at the Rawlings factory in Turrialba, Costa Rica. This is some quality control measure that probably links back to the actual person who hand-stitched the ball.
Curious, I looked at some of my baseballs under a black light to see what I could find. Here is a ball I got through a Phillies Charity grab bag. It is signed on one side by Ryan Howard. On the other side, here is what you see both with and without the blacklight:
Pretty cool, eh? I checked out a number of balls and some had the stamp, others were worn away by the cleaning solvent that is used at the end of processing the baseballs.
Try it and let me know what you find!
I am going to the game tomorrow and will return with photos. See you there!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies bullpen returned from their 2-day vacation tonight. Due to some amazing starting pitching, the pen had not been used since Tuesday. Many are wishing that the vacation had never ended.
Roy Oswalt was lights-out for four innings and finally gave up a hit in the fifth, a solo homer. He then allowed one more run after back-to-back doubles by the Marlins in the sixth.
After a bunt in the bottom of the sixth inning, Oswalt grabbed his left side as he crossed first base. Uh-oh. While he walked to the mound to start the seventh, Charlie Manuel and the Phillies trainer quickly ran out after him and removed him before he threw a pitch. The diagnosis was a lower back strain.
Oswalt has a history of back issues, while was one of the main concerns when he was traded to the Phils last year. How serious this particular issue is has yet to be determined.
With the injury to Oswalt, the bullpen’s vacation was officially over. JC Romero came in for one batter and on a hopping ground ball, he could not resist the urge to attempt to field it as it bounced over his head. The ball glanced off his glove and spun away from Pete Orr at second base giving Logan Morrison an infield single.
Bad luck for Romero turned into a disaster for Danys Baez. He quickly issued a walk and a single to load the bases. Then instead of bringing in lefty Antonio Bastardo to face ex-Phillie Greg Dobbs, Manuel left Baez in. Big mistake. Dobbs greeted the undeserved boos from the crowd with a 2-run single. The boos came before the hit.
Dobbs was an amazing pinch hitter for the Phils in 2008 when he helped them win the World Championship. He had a bad year last year, but that was certainly not deserving of such a reception. In addition, Dobbs is one of the nicest players I have ever met. Genuinely nice, not just putting on a show. He always had time to chat, time for autographs and did some great charity work with disabled children in the Philly area. Those who booed him should be ashamed.
But I digress…those two runs Dobbs knocked in gave the Marlins a 4-3 lead. But what it also did was give Phillies fan one more reason to dislike Baez. He looked better than last year early in the year and in the spring, but clearly, he cannot be trusted in a close game.
While the rest of bullpen held, the offense could not come though. Orr swung at the first pitch in the ninth inning and flew out. John Mayberry Jr. drew a walk, but both Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco flew out as well.
This was a depressing game to lose, but the Phillies have made a habit early this year of losing the first game of a series and then winning the next two. Let’s hope that trend continues.
In the meantime, here is a little comic relief. It is a make-believe conversation between Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth. Warning: If cuss words offend you or small children are around, do not play the video. Otherwise, enjoy ;o)
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography