Results tagged ‘ Adrian Gonzalez ’

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

Halladay & Lee Pitch As NL Wins All-Star Game

Named the starting pitcher for the National League in Tuesday’s All-Star game, Roy Halladay gave it his best All-Star effort.  He pitched two perfect innings using only 19 pitches.

Cliff Lee went right after Halladay, pitching a perfect third inning.  But in the fourth, he ran into trouble, allowing a solo homer to Red Sox Adrian Gonzalez.  Fresh off the Home Run Derby, Gonzalez was primed and ready to go yard.

But in the bottom half of the inning, Brewer Prince Fielder erased the homer with one of his own, a 3-run shot that hit the top of the padded wall in center field.

The NL added on two more runs for a 5-1 lead.  The NL pitches held the lead and Brian Wilson of the Giants finished the game, getting the final two outs and frightening people with his enormous, black beard.

Also very amusing was the Padres’ reliever Heath Bell who made a grand entrance in the top of the eighth inning.  He ran full-speed towards the mound and pulled off a feet-first, pop-up slide just before he arrived at the pitchers’ mound.  At 6’3″, 260 pounds, Bell’s slide was quite a sight to behold.  The Padres are probably just glad he did not snap an ankle.

So the National League won, giving them home field advantage, which we hope will benefit the Phillies.  Three other Phillies attended, but did not play in the game.  Both Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco are hurt and Cole Hamels was not allowed to pitch because he started on Sunday.

 

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Photo by David J. Phillip – AP

Phillies Overcome Another Lidge Disaster To Win In 12

Every time someone mentions the name “Brad Lidge” now, I instantly feel sick to my stomach.  It has become a Pavlovian response.  And while I am not a dog, I do get a tad bitchy around the “Lidge” references.  The last two years of the Phillies-Lidge experiment have been a rollercoaster ride…and not a pleasant one.

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Last night, the Phils managed to squeak out 2 runs against the Padres amazing pitching staff while Roy Oswalt held their offense to just one run.  Oswalt had an amazing game; the kind of game everyone hoped he would bring to Philly.  But leave it to Lidge to try to sour the evening.

The 9th inning save attempt turned into another Lidge disaster.  Former Phillie Matt Stairs singled to start the inning and a pinch runner came in.  But Lidge got the first two outs without a problem after that.  And then, the wheels fell off the wagon.

After an intentional walk to slugger Adrian Gonzalez, Lidge was ahead 0-2 to Ryan Ludwick.  Yes, ahead in the count.  So what does Lidge do on the next pitch?  He hits Ludwick to load the bases.  As if that were not bad enough, Chase Headly steps to the plate and Lidge BALKS a run home.  And it was not one of those picky balk calls; it was blatantly obvious and without explanation.  Lidge was not holding anyone on base; the bases were loaded!  WHAT was he thinking?  Wow.  That was blown save #5 for Lidge this year.

The then tied 2-2 game went into extra innings.  Thanks to Jimmy Rollins and Chad Durbin, the Phillies pulled out a win.  Rollins led off the 12th with a double and scored on a Placido Polanco single.  It was a scary play as Rollins danced around the tag at home plate and just barely got his hand on the plate to score safely.  And Durbin pitched 2 scoreless innings to record the 3-2 win.

But runs were not easy to come by in the game and the Phillies still have issues hitting, especially with runners in scoring position.  In the 3rd, singles by Rollins, Polanco and Chase Utley scored the 1st run but, with two men on base, Ryan Howard struck out…again.  Shane Victorino had a chance to add on in the 8th with one out and the bases loaded.  A sac fly would have been nice, but instead, Victorino swung at the first pitch; the weak grounder was thrown home for the force out. 

Jayson Werth grounded into a double play in the 12th with 2 men on base, which blew a prime opportunity for an insurance run.  Werth went 0-5 with 2 strikeouts and in an odd twist, he even fell down the dugout stairs after a bad at-bat.  He appeared to be ok afterwards.  I hate to keep picking on Werth as I have all week, but his lack of focus is simply astounding.  He is not the only one, but he has been the most obvious about it.

So while a win is a great thing, especially after losing 4 straight to the Astros, the Phillies bats had better wake up today before this road trip takes a turn for the worst.  They did gain one game on the Braves with the win, so this is the time to step on the gas pedal and getting moving.  Game 2 with the Padres is this afternoon at 4:10pm.

By the way, pitcher Danys Baez was placed on the DL yesterday with back spasms.  Lefty Antonio Bastardo was called up to take his place.

 

Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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Hitting The Skids…Again

The first inning of today’s Phillies – Padres match-up was a microcosm of the issues that have been plaguing the Phils since the middle of May.  The offense started off with two hits, then they loaded the bases with one out and Jayson Werth hit a weak grounder into a double play to end the inning.  sad_bunny.jpgTwo batters before that, Chase Utley had popped out with 2 men on base. 

Werth and Utley, previously two of the teams’ best hitters, are quickly becoming the poster-children for killing rallies.  Phillies fans everywhere are losing patience waiting for the two sluggers to find their swings again.  Fans used to look forward to seeing them bat.  Now, all you can do is cringe when they step to the plate and begin counting the different ways they might kill an inning; will it be a double play?  A pop-up?  A strike-out?  Or maybe the bat will spontaneously combust due to lack of use, rendering him helpless at the plate…the possibilities are endless.

Once again, the real victim of this disgusting and seemingly unending offensive slump is the starting pitcher. 
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Cole Hamels had a no-hitter working through 6 innings.  He finally surrendered back-to-back homers in the 7th to end the streak, but with just those two runs allowed, Hamels more than did his job.  It is just one more outstanding pitching performance gone to waste by the Phils offensive offense.

Eight full innings and just 3 hits later, Hamels found himself still without any assistance from his teammates.  The pinch hitters failed again in the bottom of the 8th with both Greg Dobbs and Ross Gload going down in flames.  Danys Baez pitched the 9th and put the Phillies in a deeper hole by giving up a homer to Adrian Gonzalez, his second of the night.

The Phillies tried to battle back in the bottom of the 9th; Placido Polanco singled, followed by another Utley out.  Ryan Howard drove Polanco in but then Werth stepped to the plate and, as has been the trend, he struck out. The Phillies lose 1-3, but I suppose the good news is that at least it was not another shut-out.

Besides the huge disappointment today in the Phillies majors, the minor leagues reported one more bit if depressing news.  The “big” prospect the Phillies got in the Cliff Lee trade, pitcher Phillipe Aumont, was demoted to single-A ball after sporting a 10.61 ERA in AA-ball.  Remember back in Spring Training when the same guy gave up 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning in an exhibition game against a college team in his first Phillies action?  And afterwards, he blamed it on the pressure of being traded for Cliff Lee?  Oh yeah, that guy. 

So, we get our first peek at how beneficial that trade really was.  If Aumont cannot handle pressure, what good is he?  And do you really think the Mariners were unaware of this when they sent him packing?  I doubt it.  Talent and potential are great, but I am pretty sure in the life-game of rock, paper, scissors, that mental toughness trumps both.  But hey, Lee will be available again at the trade deadline this year; think the Mariners will take Aumont back?  Ha, ha…I crack myself up ;o)

The draft took place tonight and the Phillies have selected a local; Jesse Biddle, a left-handed pitcher, from Philly.  Best of luck to the young pitcher!

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Happy Bunny by Jim Benton

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Phils Pummel Padres

In the make-up game tonight against the Padres, the Phillies brought out the big guns.  Both Jayson Werth and Pedro Feliz each had 3 hits and 1 RBI a piece.  P4170305.jpgEvery other position starter had at least one hit with Raul Ibanez collecting 2 RBI and Jimmy Rollins with 2 hits, 2 runs scored and 1 RBI.

Cole Hamels was not spectacular, but he did put in a quality start.  Hamels got through 7 innings, allowing 3 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks.  Hopefully, this will be a stepping stone for Hamels to get back to his MVP form.  The Phillies won the game, 9-4 and will start a 3-game series tomorrow with the Cardinals.

Helmet Saves A Life

Many coaches, including ex-Phillies manager Larry Bowa, have grumbled over having to wear batting helmets while on the field coaching 1st or 3rd base during a game.  This action was taken when minor league coach, Mike Coolbaugh, was killed after being struck in the head with a foul ball in July of 2007.  Well tonight, the rule saved a life.  Padres 1st base coach, Rick Renteria, was hit directly in the helmet with a hard line drive off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez.  The crowd gasped as Renteria hit the ground, but thanks to the helmet, he was fine and went right on coaching.  Whew!  A very tense moment, to say the least.

Injuries

Both JC Romero and Chad Durbin, big pieces of the Phillies bullpen, were placed on the 15-day DL today.  Romero is having a minor forearm strain and should be quick to return.  Durbin, on the other hand, has apparently been suffering from a back injury for a month now and neglected to tell anyone.  But after giving up 3 runs in a game last night which killed any shot the team had at a rally, Durbin finally fessed up.  Ugh.

So, Tyler Walker returns from the Iron Pigs to fill one of the spots and Drew Carpenter gets the second spot.  It is Carpenter’s 2nd stop to the team this year and his 3rd trip to the majors overall.

Perfection

And congrats to Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox who threw a perfect game today against the Tampa Bay Rays!  And then, Buehrle got a congratulatory call from President Obama.  And then, I mentioned him in MY blog!  What a lucky, lucky guy :O)

Photo by Jenn

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Rookie Impressive In Debut

Antonio Bastardo made his major league debut last night against the Padres and held them to only 1 run; a solo homer from Adrian Gonzalez. The 23-year old rookie pitched 6 innings, allowing 4 hits total, 1 walk and he struck out 5.  Bastardo threw mostly fastballs, but the 95mph heat proved to be explosive.  If he can begin mixing in a few more off-speed pitches, this kid may be the answer to the Phillies’ prayers.

P5314819 Ibanez.jpgAlso feeling the power last night was Raul Ibanez who, on his 37th birthday, knocked in 5 runs with a double and two homers; a very Happy Birthday indeed!  The birthday bash continued with 2 hits from Shane Victorino, and 2 RBI each from Ryan Howard and Greg Dobbs.  The score was 10-1 by the middle of the 7th.

Enter Chan Ho Park: Park allowed 4 runs to the Padres in the bottom of the 7th and looked like a little league pitcher.  Obviously disappointed about losing his starting spot, Park has really begun to unravel.  But if he cannot accept his new role, then what good is he?  I believe the clock may be ticking for Park…

Chad Durbin ran into trouble as well in the 9th when he loaded the bases.  Durbin has not looked like the pitcher of 2008 all year long; he did have a quick and easy 8th inning, but the hit and 2 walks in the 9th still leave everyone with the feeling that he is just not right.  Luckily, Ryan Madson threw one pitch to end the game and bail Durbin out, avoiding a huge disaster; but you still have to wonder, what is wrong with Durbin?  But give him a few more outings and let’s see if he can fix the issue.

The Phillies will try for their 2nd sweep in a row tonight with JA Happ on the mound; game time is 10:05pm again.

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Photo by Jenn

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As The Ankle Turns

The soap opera that is the Curse of Cole Hamels continues…  First, he hurts his left elbow in Spring Training and misses his Opening Day start; then in his last start, he gets hit in his pitching shoulder (left arm) with a line drive; and yesterday, he turns his left ankle while fielding a bunt that he knew ahead of time was going to be coming.  The batter turned and squared to bunt before Hamels threw a pitch.  So, is this man made of glass or is he just cursed on the left side of his body?  Will he ever finish a game in 2009?  Maybe we should cover him up in bubble wrap and then seal him in a hermetic chamber.  Just a thought…Hamels ankle.jpg

Cole tossed one warm-up pitch after the turned ankle and then, in obvious frustration, he tossed the ball at manager Charlie Manuel and walked off the field in dramatic fashion.  Cue the cheesy soap opera music…  The good news is, the MRI’s were negative and it appears to be only a sprain.  Hamels told the media he expects to be ready for his next start, but that remains to be seen.  After being very disappointed last year when he did not make the All-Star team, it looks like this year will be no different after this roller coaster start to the season.

The real shame of it all is that Hamels was off to a great start in these last few outings, only to be pulled due to injury.  Last night, he had only given up 4 hits and not surrendered a run before leaving in the 5th with only 1 out recorded.  Chad Durbin came in to take over for Hamels though and pitched a superb 3 2/3 innings of 1-run ball.  That run, an Adam Dunn solo shot, was the only hit recorded off Durbin.  Kudos to Durbin for saving the day!  What an effort to pick up his teammate!

Also doing a lot of the heavy lifting last night was Chase Utley; Utley took his revenge on John Lannan, the same pitcher who broke his hand 2 years ago.  In the 3rd, Utley took Lannan deep for a 2-run shot and then completed the humiliation with a solo shot in the 5th.  That’s what you get for breaking this super-star’s hand!

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Pedro Feliz hit a 3-run homer in the 3rd, continuing his hot streak.  Feliz is now batting .333.  And Raul Ibanez is relentless in his pursuit to call Philly his new home, blasting a solo home run in the 8th.  Ibanez and Utley are now tied for first place in home runs in the majors with Albert Pujols and Adrian Gonzalez; all four players have 7 homers.

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Congrats also to Jimmy Rollins who finally recorded his first stolen base of the season last night!  J-Roll was 1 for 4 at the plate and seems to be in the midst of waking up offensively and getting his batting average out of the gutter; it currently stands at .195, which should change very soon.

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And now on to our Fan of the Game:  This is Buddy from Philadelphia and he is a big Phillies fan.  Buddy was especially high on Raul Ibanez, as I heard chants of “Pat who?” echo throughout the outfield.  Well, we do still miss Pat Burrell, but Ibanez has left no doubt that not only will that role be filled, but he will give us a more consistent bat and so far, great defense as well.  Let’s hear it for RAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUL!

I have posted a Photo Album from the game; these will be a bit different than what you usually see from me as I had a seat in straight away centerfield at the top of the section last night.  A different, and much more distant, perspective for sure.

Romero Sues

JC Romero is suing the company of the supplement he took that was tainted with an unlisted ingredient which caused him to test positive for steroids and resulted in a ridiculous 50-game suspension.  He is also suing the manufacturer and one of the people named in the law suit is Patrick Arnold, a chemist who has already spent time in jail after the BALCO scandal.  Just a few things to note here: Supplements are not regulated by the government and therefore, even if MLB approves of a supplement, it can still cause a player to test positive if it has been tainted in the manufacturing process.  Romero did get an ok from the MLBPA to take the supplement, but did not call some 800# to check again, and so MLB decided he was negligent.  He got the same suspension as would a person who actually took steroids.  Disgusting.

I have been thinking this over for the last few days now and trying to put those thoughts into words.  This has been an emotional ride for JC, his family, his teammates, and his fans.  As for myself, I know personally what an honest and forthright human being JC is and can tell you that not only is he innocent, but he is a victim here.  I hope he takes these people for all that they have and that this sets a precedent for other players who may be victimized by this system.  MLB needs to revisit their policies and create a fair regulation process.

There have been some questions about why Romero is not suing MLB.  What may not be widely known is that when he first tested positive, he was offered a reduced suspension, 25 games to begin immediately, if he agreed to waive his rights to an appeal.  However, he would have missed out on playing in the World Series if he took the deal.  Not wanting to let down his team and knowing he was innocent, he turned down the deal and chose his TEAM over his own personal well-being.  He knew that if he lost the appeal, he would get the 50 game suspension and lose out on more than a million dollars in salary.  And still, Romero did the right thing and should be commended for that.  This is a man who always does the right thing and yet, MLB punished him for it.  The reason he is not suing MLB is probably because as another term of going to appeal, he most likely had to waive his rights to future litigation.  A very sad an unfortunate set of circumstance; so again, I hope he slaughters these companies in court.

Next Up

So the Phillies will work on their 2nd straight sweep tonight, trying to beat the Nationals again starting at 7:05pm.  While you are watching the game, log on to VOTE for your All-Stars!  Vote a maximum of 25 times per day, per email address.  Get the Phillies to St. Louis!!  And as always, feel free to leave your comments and thoughts below.  Go Phillies!

Photos by Jenn

 

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