Archive for the ‘ Phillies photos ’ Category

It’s Official – This Team Sucks

I hate to state the obvious, but this Phillies team just plain sucks.  This fact has been made plainly evident after the Phils lost 4 of 5 games to the Mets in spectacularly bad fashion.  The secret is out.  When I was at the game on Sunday, the only reason I did not hear crickets in the stands was because of all the Mets fans there.

I cannot think of a single strength on this team.  The pitching is impossible to predict, the defense is awful, base running seems like a mystery to these guys and the offense is practically non-existent.  Even the attitudes suck.  Just in the last week, we have witnessed veteran players making mental mistakes, lazy play, especially in the outfield, and a lot of “that’s baseball” comments after games.  This team seems to have accepted that they suck and that is exactly how they are playing; like a defeated group with no hope of recovery.

I do not think the Phillies stand a chance this year.  Still, they need to make some moves to, at the very least, appease what fans they have left.  First, send Domonic Brown to the minors and bring back Darin Ruf to play left field.  Brown has been lazing about in left and needs a reality check.  Ruf deserves a shot.  It doesn’t matter that his defense is not great because, really, where is this team going anyway?  Nowhere.  So give this guy some playing time.

Please send Phillippe Aumont back to the minors.  Or better yet, give him away to another team for free.  He does nothing but walk guys and give up home runs; last night’s grand slam was the final straw for me.

There are many other moves I would like to see, but some are just not possible.  I still hear chants of “trade Ryan Howard.”  To those people I say, good luck with that.  No team would want him with his salary.  I’d like to see the Phillies play a centerfielder better than Ben Revere, but who exactly would that be?

There are a few guys in the minors that may help at some point (Ken Giles, Maikel Franko), but why bring them up before they are ready?  The team will still suck either way.  And you then risk exposing them to what appears to be a negative clubhouse environment where older players are setting very bad examples for younger ones.  Do you really want Franco to learn how to play with a total lack of urgency and swing at every pitch regardless of circumstance or location?  How about teaching him to get thrown out on the base paths?   If this is what you want him to learn, bring him up!

The last thing I’d like to see…fire Ruben Amaro Jr., his staff and all the scouts and START OVER.  This team needs a serious reboot with a NEW approach to the draft and scouting.  The same old, outdated approach has run this team into the ground.  They need to start pouring sabermetrics on top of their traditional scouting cereal for breakfast and get with the times.  I am not discounting traditional scouting nor touting sabermetrics as the savior, but a nice combination could maybe get things going in the right direction.  And frankly, what do the Phillies have to lose?

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3rd Day of Extra Innings Ends Badly for Phillies

On Friday and Saturday, the Phillies and Mets played 14 innings each day.  When the Phillies did not score on Sunday in the bottom of the 9th, groans could be heard all over the ballpark.  Three days in a row of extra baseball from two teams that are battling it out for last place…what could be more exciting?  A lot of things, apparently.

The tone was different before the game started.  It was a total love-fest, despite 2 days and 28 innings already played.
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And with Cole Hamels pitching, there had to be hope for the Phillies.
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Ryan Howard hit a two-run homer in the 4th inning to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.  But it was all downhill from there.  The Phillies played sloppy ball in every way possible.  There were a few nice plays in the field, but also some missed opportunities.
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And the offense barely made Mets pitcher Jonathan Niese even break a sweat.  It took him only 13 pitches to go through the first 2 innings as the Phillies were swinging at everything and either popping it up or dropping weak ground balls.
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The worst play was in the 7th when, after a huge single to put a runner on 3rd base with 1 out, Domonic Brown got himself thrown out trying to reach second base.  Ben Revere then grounded out, leaving the winning run on 3rd base.

The bullpen was holding steady at least.  The Phillies made a bunch of moves before the game to find fresh arms as all these extra-long games had depleted the pen.  Jeff Manship went on the DL after hurting his quad in Saturday’s marathon game.   Phillippe Aumont and Cesar Jimenez were called up while Darin Ruf went back down to Triple-A to make room.  Jimenez pitched a scoreless 8th inning while Jonathan Papelbon did the same in the 9th.
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But when they finally got to the 11th and put in Aumont, that was pretty much the end of the game as he gave up a walk and then a 2-run homer to the Mets.  Aumont has been a head case from Day 1; he has been up and down to the majors a few times in the past 2 years and staff have complained that he does not take direction well.  In addition, he cannot throw strikes and this year, had walked nearly a batter every inning in Triple-A.  If this is the best guy the Phillies had in the minors to bring up, this organization is in deep trouble.

The Phillies will now lose this series to the Mets even with 1 game remaining and they are 6 games below .500, the worst mark of the season.  Things are not looking very good, to put it mildly.

Here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The final game with the Mets starts at 7:05pm on Monday.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Beckett No-Hits the Phillies

Phillies pitcher A.J. Burnett had a bad day against the LA Dodgers on Sunday.  Yet, it really didn’t matter.  Because the Phillies offense could not hit the broad side of a barn.  And Dodgers pitcher Josh Beckett took full advantage in the no-hitter and the Phils’ 7th shut-out loss this year.
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Not to take anything away from Beckett, but the Phillies just plain sucked. Even when Beckett was having issues throwing strikes and the Phillies collected 3 walks, they still could not make anything happen.  After one of the walks, Domonic Brown stepped to the plate and swung at the first pitch he saw, flying out to center.

When that stupidity was not happening, the Phillies were just swinging and missing.
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By the 5th inning, I was nearly in a coma due to extreme boredom.  The only thing keeping me awake was an annoying 6 year boy next to me who kept kicking me in the leg.  And he was a Dodgers fan…thanks, kid.  Thanks to your ignorant parents as well.

So while the Phils got beaten on the field and I got beaten by a small child, the Dodgers just kept hitting.  At least the Phillies defense was kept busy, I guess.  Bright side?  ….Nah.
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The sky may actually be falling.  Cliff Lee is on the DL and today, Cody Asche joined him with a hamstring injury.  It also looks like Burnett may be having more issues with that hernia, judging from his last two outings.  With a 21-26 record, things are not going well for the Phillies.  Understatement?  Yup, probably.

Care to relive today’s no-hit massacre?  Check out the full Photo Album.  At least I got some pre-game shots of new rookie pitcher David Buchanan, so it was not a total loss.

The Rockies are in town tomorrow.  Game time is 5:05pm.

Happy Memorial Day everyone!

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Offense Comes Alive Against the Reds

After a very long dry spell where the Phillies were shut-out in 4 out of 10 games, the Phillies offense finally woke up this weekend against the Reds.  On Saturday, they pounded the Reds by a score of 12-1 and Cole Hamels finally got win #100 of his career.  Then on Sunday, it was an 8-3 win that sent fans home happy.

Cliff Lee had an interesting outing, ultimately pitching 6.2 innings and allowing 2 runs.  After he walked the first batter of the game and gave up 2 runs in the 1st inning, it was obvious we were in for a battle.
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But immediately, the Phillies got those 2 runs back.  Jimmy Rollins and Will Nieves went deep with back-to-back homers to start the game in the Phillies half of the 1st.
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The game remained tied until the 5th inning when Lee took matters into his own hands offensively, leading off the inning with a single. Rollins moved him over the second after Todd Frazier bobbled the ball at third and failed to throw Lee out.  Then Nieves dropped a sac bunt to move them over and Chase Utley knocked in Lee with a ground out to first.
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And the hits kept coming.  Marlon Byrd hit a solo homer in the 6th and then Cody Asche smacked a 3-run homer in the 8th to give the Phillies ample breathing room with an 8-2 lead.  Byrd, Asche and Nieves each had 2 hits in the game and Rollins and Ryan Howard each walked twice.  It was a full team effort at the plate.
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It was also the Phanatic’s annual birthday bash on Sunday, which added to the festive vibe with the powered-up offense, 4 home runs and 2 wins in a row!  Add a bunch of silly mascots, the Zooperstars and some dude who paints with his hands, and it was a real party.
Phanatic Bday

The Phillies are off tomorrow for the Phillies Phestival.  After that, they travel to Miami for a short 3-game series and then back home again.

In the meantime, here is the full Photo Album from the game and birthday celebration.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

The Phillies Black Cloud

AB CloudThere is a gigantic, scary black cloud hovering over this Phillies team.  It’s called “the bullpen.”  Run for cover!  Here they come again!

Poor Cole Hamels watched his 133 pitch, 1-run, 7-inning performance and his 100th career win get washed down the storm drain on Sunday against the Mets.  The Phillies bullpen flushed it right down the proverbial toilet.  And this is only 1 of many frightening bullpen performances this year.

In fact, there are so few players out in the pen that team management trusts, they actually wound up putting in starter Roberto Hernandez in the 9th inning to try to clean up the mess Antonio Bastardo made.  Bastardo took a 4-1 Phillies lead and totally obliterated it, allowing 3 earned runs including a 2-run homer.

Apparently, closer Jonathan Papelbon had a sore neck and back and was unable to pitch.  Mike Adams and Jake Diekman were both unavailable, I assume because they each pitched in the previous 2 games.  So by the 11th inning they were left with Jeff Manship, who walked 2 batters and gave up the winning run to the Mets.

Here is a really not-so-fun statistic for you:  Every single pitcher, except Papelbon, in the Phillies bullpen has an ERA at or over 4.50.  All of them.  This team cannot possibly expect to go anywhere with those numbers.

And now, on top of getting swept by the Jays in 4 games and losing the final game to the Mets for a 2-5 record in 7 games, the Phillies need another starting pitcher because Hernandez was used yesterday in the pen.  And the pickings in the minors are slim…

Speaking of the minors, the black cloud apparently followed Freddy Galvis there when he was sent down after the Jays series.  He collided with a wall yesterday and broke his left clavicle; he now needs surgery.  Earlier in Spring Training, he suffered from an awful MRSA infection and missed the first few weeks of the season.  When he finally came back, he had exactly 2 hits in 46 at-bats and was finally sent down to Triple-A.  And now he breaks a bone…wow.  Maybe this is the universe telling Freddy to just stay in bed.  Poor guy.

The Phillies are off today and I am sure the bullpen is very thankful for that.  They will play a short, 2-game series with the Angels starting Tuesday night at 7:05pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Take 2 of 3 From the Nats

The Phillies just barely squeaked out a 1-0 win over the Nationals today thanks mostly to great pitching.  Cole Hamels was scheduled to start but was unable to go as he has the flu.  So Roberto Hernandez, who had not gotten out of the 6th inning yet this season, filled it.

Hernandez was outstanding, going 7 1/3 innings without allowing a run to score.  When he first started to pitch, it looked like he would not be able to throw a strike as he walked 2 batters in the first inning.  But he settled down and wound up with 3 walks and only 4 hits allowed.
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The lone Phillies run of the game came in the first inning.  After a Jimmy Rollins triple, Chase Utley singled to score Rollins.  Utley had a very strange day.  After that RBI, he sprinted around the bases on a Marlon Byrd pop fly and got doubled up.  Maybe he forgot there was only 1 out?  And then later he committed an error in the field when he totally missed the feed from Jayson Nix at third on what may have been a double play.

But those blunders did not come back to haunt the Phillies luckily.  And that is a very good thing especially considering the Phillies only managed 4 hits in the game, including a Ben Revere triple.  They also had some very nice plays in the field, which helped.
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The weather was very interesting as well.  It was cold, very windy and bits and pieces of wrappers, bags and dust were floating around everywhere.  Some of the shadows in the field were brutal by the time the relievers came in too.
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My eyes were so dry, at one point, I thought maybe I was seeing things.  See the first photo below to the left…there are 3 guys there, right.  Nope…check out the 2nd photo on the right.  I guess Nix is just so small he blended right in.
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Check out the full Photo Album from the game for more interesting stuff.  There are very nice photos of Domonic Brown with his mother and VERY pregnant girlfriend pre-game during the Mother’s Day celebration.  I also took some photos of our old friend, Kevin Frandsen.  Miss him….sigh!

So a weird 2-game home and away series stars tomorrow with the Blue Jays; 2 games here and 2 in Toronto.  Game time Monday is 7:05pm and Kyle Kendrick will pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hamels the Humanitarian

Cole Hamels is a true humanitarian.  He has adopted a child from Africa and created a foundation to fund programs both there and in Philadelphia.  And now, apparently, he has also adopted the New York Mets.

Hamels gifted the Mets with 6 runs and a win in Tuesday night’s game that ended in a 1-6 loss for the Phillies.  He especially loves Mets pitcher Jonathan Niese, whom he walked in the 4th inning with the bases loaded to score another Mets run.  You know how pitchers just have that little extra warm feeling  for other pitchers?  Well Cole was man enough to wear his heart on his sleeve.  Touching, really.

Many Mets were beneficiaries of Hamels’ generosity.  Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada and Chris Young all raised their batting averages by at least 20 points!  It was like Christmas for the Mets.  They probably sent him a very nice fruit basket after the game.
HamelsFruit

Joking aside, in only his second start this season, Hamels crashed and burned.  It was ugly.  Afterwards, Hamels told the press he was “embarrassed” by his performance.  I guess we can give him brownie points for that.

The only offense for the Phillies was a Marlon Byrd home run.  Ryan Howard had 2 hits as well but was left stranded on base both times.

The Phillies are supposed to play the Mets again tonight, but with the forecast looking grim, it is hard to say if that will actually happen.  Tuesday’s game was delayed by an hour and a half and that rain was much lighter than predicted for tonight.  If they do play, Kyle Kendrick is scheduled to pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Win Series Amidst More Home Plate Rules Controversy

The Phillies took 3 of 4 games from the Dodgers this week, ending with last night’s 7-3 win.  The only game they lost was in Cole Hamels’ return from the DL.  Hamels pitched well, but once again, the bullpen blew the lead.  Ugh.

Yesterday’s win was much more pleasant, although nerve-wracking at times.  Kyle Kendrick pitched pretty well considering he allowed 10 hits and a walk and only 2 runs scored.  He would have gotten the win, except Mike Adams immediately gave up the lead in the 7th with a home run ball to Adrian Gonzalez.  Adams pitched 2 innings for which he earned BOTH a blown save AND the win.  Go figure.  This is a perfect example of why I hate the win/loss rules for pitchers.

Speaking of rules I hate, let’s talk about home plate.  This no blocking the plate, anti-collision thing is officially on my last nerve.  Tony LaRussa, the former manager who fought for this rule, can take his big ideas and stick ‘em where the sun don’t shine.

Yet another play at the plate was challenged last night when the Dodgers purported that Carlos Ruiz did not give Hanley Ramirez a lane to the plate.  I guess they thought the edge of the nail of his little pinky toe was touching the imaginary parallel line from his foot to where the plate meets the dirt?  I am exaggerating, but how utterly ridiculous is all of this?

Ramirez was still called out after review, but this brings up a bigger issue.  Why would anyone NOT challenge an out call at home plate with this rule in place?  Seriously.  There is a very high probability, as we have seen in previous Phillies games, that they runner will called safe.  Because it seems that if even a small part of the catcher is in front of the plate before the ball arrives, he has been a bad boy and thus unworthy of an out call.  This means EVERY out call should be challenged.

Complicating matters, no one is exactly sure what the rule really is.  On April 13th, the Phillies lost a run due to a replay review at home and Tony Gwynn Jr. was called out.  The next day, MLB called to apologize for getting the call wrong.  If the people in charge do not even know the rule, how is anyone else supposed to?
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Besides that, the rule is insane to begin with.  I understand they want to limit injuries and all that, but it seems to me this is likely to create MORE injuries.  If the catcher cannot be in front of the plate until he gets the ball, this forces the catcher to move very quickly and awkwardly from the point where he catches the ball (away from the plate) to the point he makes the tag (in front of the plate usually).

This “sweep” tag is fine when the catcher is not overly concerned with where the end of his foot might be.  But this rule will force guys to be even further away from the plate to make sure that little toe is not considered an obstruction, turning a “sweep” into an outright dive to make the tag.  Not allowing the catcher to properly set himself means any type of collision will be made worse as he won’t be braced for it.

The runner is not allowed to charge or go out of the way to hit the catcher, but in making a tag, avoiding a collision of some kind is nearly impossible.  So please, please just go back to the old rules and add a clause that runners cannot charge or take cheap shots.  Or here’s an idea…forget the tag altogether.  The runner and catcher can just meet at home plate and thumb wrestle to determine the winner.  Much safer.  Or rock, paper, scissors anyone?  Food for thought.

It has already been reported that MLB is going to make “adjustments” to the rule, but no word yet on specifics.  I will assume thumb wrestling is probably not an option.  They are no fun.  But let us hope they do not screw this up further.

The Phillies begin a series tonight in Arizona against the Diamondbacks.  Game time is 9:40pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Lee & Burnett Leading the Way

The Phillies have taken the first 2 games in their series against the Dodgers in large part due to great starting pitching.  Both Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett have set an example for all Phillies pitchers and given them something to aspire to.  It has been a real treat to watch.

On Monday night, Lee went 8 innings, allowing no runs, 4 hits and striking out 10 baffled Dodgers batters.  Since his awful Opening Day start, Lee has been nearly unhittable.  And the intangibles he brings to the team are priceless.

This is a guy who never gets rattled.  His drama-free attitude and generosity towards fans has endeared him to all who observe how he goes about his business.  If you do not love Cliff Lee, go to the doctor and make sure your heart is still beating.
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And then there is one of the newest Phillies, A. J. Burnett.  Tuesday night he pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing only 2 runs on 6 hits and a walk.  He also had 3 hits in the game!  The week before that, he pitched 7 scoreless inning against the Braves.  And he did all of this while nursing a painful inguinal hernia.

The fact that Burnett is willing to play through the pain is admirable.  And as long as he keeps pitching well, I have no problem with this.  But he is not just tough, he is also quite the jokester, as witnessed after his first hit last night.  After Yasiel Puig attempted to throw him out at first all the way from right field, Burnett turned and motioned with his hands to Puig to settle down.  There is a great GIF of this on Philly.com.  You gotta love a man with a sense of humor.

The Phillies other ace pitcher, Cole Hamels, is set to come off the DL and pitch tonight.  Could the Phillies actually have 3 studs in a row once again?  And, although I hate to say this too loudly, this team appears to be mostly healthy…gasp!  Shhhhh!  Don’t tell the universe…too dangerous.

Have you also noticed the improvement on offense?  The big 3 there, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, are all hitting well.  And Ben Revere is heating up again, like he did last year before getting hurt.  The one thorn left in the Phillies side is the bullpen, which did actually hold up the last few games.  Keep your fingers crossed for that trend to continue.

If Lee, Burnett and Hamels can pitch like they are capable of, the bullpen will certainly benefit.  It starts with the starters.  Hamels gets his first shot in 2014 tonight at 10:10pm.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Rocky Mountain High and a Bunch of Lows

The Phillies just barely escaped Colorado last night with a win to avoid the 3-game sweep against the Rockies.  The first two games of the series were utterly pathetic as the Phils went down by scores of 1-2 and 1-3, respectively.  The Sunday night 10-9 win was a welcome sigh of relief.

The Phillies offense had been so bad going into this game, they officially recorded 131 at-bats in a row without an extra-base hit.  In baseball terms, that is an eternity.  And it was the worst mark for the franchise since 1968.

Not quite as awful as that, but still very bad, the Phils pitchers blew the lead in last night’s game 3 times.  And Roberto Hernandez still has yet to pitch a full 6 innings.  He was pulled from the game after only 75 pitches.  This is not promising.

Howard MountainsBut the better news is that Ryan Howard may have found his pre-ankle injury swing again.  He sort of, but not officially, hit for the cycle.  The last hit was not scored a double as many contend it should have been; it was marked as a single with a 1-base error.  The Phillies will appeal the call to MLB to see if they can get that double for Howard.  Honestly, I’d have loved it to be a cycle.  But I do not see MLB overturning the call…the outfielder should have gotten that ball.

Everyone else hit as well.  Jimmy Rollins had 3 hits and both Ben Revere and Marlon Byrd had 2 hits each.  Even more amazing, no one committed an error in the field.  Yippie!

Speaking of offense, remember way back on Opening Day when Cody Asche had 3 hits?  And the next day manager Ryne Sandberg sat him?  And then remember when I said what a bad idea that was, sending Asche the wrong message, killing his momentum, etc…?  Yeah well, guess who has had only 6 hits in his last 42 at-bats (the entire month of April)?  Yup, Cody Asche.  And he’s had only 2 hits in the very last 23 at-bats.  That is a .087 batting average.  Yikes.

Asche has been losing playing time as a result.  Obviously, that Game 2 benching may or may be contributing to the massive slump, but it is still an interesting observation.  The question now is, can he bounce back?  I have not yet heard if he will be in the line-up tonight against the Dodgers, but this is one story line you may want to keep an eye on.

Game time is 10:10pm EST.  Yuck…West Coast swings make me sleepy.  Hopefully, the Phillies offense will keep me awake!

 

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Howard Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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