Results tagged ‘ All-Star ’

Phillies Open Second Half With a Win Over the Mets

Although the day began with the Phillies placing Placido Polanco on the DL, it ended well.  Polanco, battling back pain, should be back around July 20.

All of the recent injuries have given many young players big opportunities.  Michael Martinez started at third again and John Mayberry Jr. started in center and had a huge day at the plate.  In the 7-2 win over the Mets, Mayberry accounted for five of those runs with a single and a bases-clearing double.

Having struggled in his last trip to the majors earlier this year, it looks like Mayberry has finally made the adjustments he needed in order to get his swing straight.  If Mayberry keeps up this pace, the Phillies may not to need any further for a powerful right-handed bat.

Vance Worley also had a nice day on the mound.  He allowed only one run through 5.1 innings.  The only issue was that Worley walked four batters and had a high pitch count early.  He still has some work to do, but so far, Worley is fitting right in to this rotation.

When Worley was called back up today, Ryan Madson joined him as well, coming off the DL after dealing with a bruised hand.  The two roster spots were cleared by Polanco’s DL trip and Scott Mathieson was sent down.

Madson pitched the seventh inning and it appears that he has not skipped a beat.  His command was good and he had zip on his fastball.  Michael Stutes, on the other hand, looked rusty after the All-Star break and he gave up a homer in the eighth.

One other item of note today was the performance of Raul Ibanez.  His bat is suddenly on fire and as a result, he was named the National League Player of the Week.  The week before the All-Star game, Ibanez hit .310 with three homers and 13 RBI.  He hit another home run tonight and also singled.  Congrats to RAUUUUUUL!

Game 2 with the Mets is Saturday afternoon at 4:10pm.  Cole Hamels will pitch with Kyle Kendrick on Sunday.  The top two aces, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, are getting a break after pitching almost two innings each in the All-Star game on Tuesday.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Philadelphia Phillies 2011 First Half Report Card

Having ended the first half of the season with a 57-34 record, the best in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies have much to look forward to in the second half.  And although many injuries and questions still loom in the background, the first half of play was very successful for this team.

What makes the first half even more remarkable is that the Phillies were able to win despite injuries and missed time from a bucket-full of All-Star caliber players including Chase Utley, Roy Oswalt, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco.

In the bullpen, the Phillies are currently on their fourth closer of the year as the first three all went on the DL.  First Brad Lidge, then Jose Contreras and finally, Ryan Madson.

The rest of the pen has been run primarily by rookies and inexperienced players over the last several month.  But these players have stepped up and are keeping hope alive.

The following  is a look at the Phillies 2011 First Half Report Card.

Starting Pitching:  A+

The Phillies ended the first half with the best ERA in baseball at 3.02, the fewest earned runs allowed with 279 plus 11 complete games and 13 shut-outs, both of which are also the most in baseball.

Both Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels have earned 11 wins each and their ERA’s are 2.45 and 2.32, respectively.  Those numbers have prompted talk of a Cy Young award for one of the two pitchers.  Cliff Lee has been outstanding as well with a 2.82 ERA and nine wins.

The starters have suffered some major injuries, including Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton, both of whom are on the DL.  But the rookie Vance Worley has filled in admirably with an occasional spot start from Kyle Kendrick.

Bullpen:   B+

The Phillies bullpen has had some real challenges this year, including a plethora of injuries.  But thanks to some very young, very solid talent, the pen has endured.

What was thought to be a major team weakness at the start of the year has turned into a strength in many ways.

Lefty Antonio Bastardo has been outstanding and probably should have earned an All-Star nod.  In 33 innings, Bastardo has allowed only three earned runs and has a microscopic ERA of 0.82.  He has also gone 5-for-5 in save attempts since the Phillies sent their first three closer to the DL.

Michael Stutes and Juan Perez have also been very nice surprises.  If Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson can come back healthy in the second half, the bullpen will only be that much stronger.

Offense:  C-

The Phillies offense for the first half ranks 20th in all of baseball and 10th in the National League with a .250 team batting average.  Statistically, this puts them below average.

But their 377 RBI moves them up the list a little, ranking 11th among all teams and 10th in on-base percentage with .323.

The first couple months were rough without Chase Utley, who is hitting .280 since his return.  But other top team hitters like Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco have missed time with injuries as well, making it difficult for manager Charlie Manuel to post any sort of consistent line-up on a regular basis.

Ryan Howard is tied for the league lead in RBI with 72, which has helped carry this weakened offense.  But with so many rookies in the line-up because of injuries, the other veteran players will need to step up in the second half.

Defense:  A-

Statistically, the Phillies have the best defense in the National League and are around fourth best in all of baseball with 45 errors and a .987 fielding percentage.  Many teams have similar numbers, but looking at the major categories, I would put them in about fourth place.

Among position players, Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard have the highest fielding percentages on the team with .996 and .995, respectively.  Howard has improved his defense greatly over the past couple of years.

This team has a very solid defense.  There were a few games this year where sloppy play brought that into question, but they are humans, not robots.  Overall, it was a very good first half for the defense.

Attendance:  A+

The Phillies ended the first half on Sunday with their 172nd consecutive home sellout.  They are also first in total attendance for all of baseball with 2,228,630 fans so far this year, according to ESPN.  The Yankees were second with 2,173,619 fans.

The Phillies keep winning, and the fans keep the party going. 

1st Half MVP:  Roy Halladay

Because their numbers are very similar, I was tempted to go with Cole Hamels on this one.  But with six complete games and the most innings pitched in the National League, I am giving the first half MVP to Roy Halladay.

This man is a beast.  In Tuesday night’s All-Star game, Brian Wilson of the Giants called Halladay a “Cyborg.”  That seems fitting.

There is nothing Halladay won’t do to help his team win.  With 11 wins, a 2.45 ERA and team-leading 138 strike-outs, Halladay is the MVP.

Most Memorable 1st Half Moment:  Tie, Wilson Valdez & Cliff Lee

This one had to be a draw, because both players provided Phillies fans with some amazing memories this year so far.

First, watching Wilson Valdez tow the rubber in the May 25th 5-4 win in 19 innings over the Reds was simply unforgettable.  The Phillies ran out of pitchers and Valdez volunteered.  He pitched one perfect inning and the Phillies won the game in the bottom of the 19th as a result of his effort.

Before this win by Valdez, the last player to start a game in the field and get the win as a pitcher was Babe Ruth in 1921.  But the best part was hearing Valdez joke after the game that he could have gone three or four more innings if needed.

And then this past Saturday, pitcher Cliff Lee provided another memorable moment.  In the third inning, after a 10-pitch at-bat and six foul balls, Lee smashed his 1st career home run off the Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson, who watched in disbelief.

Lee spent most of his career in the American League, with few chances to hit.  But Lee has remarked on many occasions that he prefers the National League because he loves to hit.  And that joy was all over his face as he rounded the bases in front of thousands of screaming fans who gave him a standing ovation.

Watching a man who truly loves the game of baseball be rewarded in a way that is rarely seen was a real treat.  Pitchers do not hit many home runs and it is even less common among pitchers of Lee’s caliber. 

That was a moment that both Lee and all of the Philadelphia fans watching will not soon forget.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

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 Enter All-Star Break With a Bang

It seems to be feast or famine with this Phillies team lately.  Saturday, Cliff Lee homered for the only Phillies run of the game.  Sunday, the offense exploded to the tune of 14 runs behind pitcher Cole Hamels.

It was evident early in this game that Hamels was on top of his game.  Over eight innings, Hamels allowed only one run on three hits and struck out six Braves.  His command was spot-on and the Braves looked a bit silly swinging at his pitches.

 

This was also a huge game for many Phillies batters as well.  Raul Ibanez, who struggled most of the first half, led the offense today with six RBI on two hits, including a three run homer.  He also made several great plays in the outfield, including a home-run saving catch in the eighth.

 

John Mayberry Jr. also found his swing against Derek Lowe and the Braves bullpen.  His three hits were all doubles and he collected four RBI as well.  Mayberry also made some nice plays in center field.

 

For Michael Martinez, it was a career day.  There has been much debate over the Phillies keeping this Rule-5 utility player on the roster this year as he has not been productive.  Today, he earned the job with four hits, a career high.  Martinez also showed heart and hustle when he flipped over the Braves dugout railing catching a foul ball.

 

It seems a little playing time was all Martinez and Mayberry needed to get them going.  And thanks to a ton of Phillies injuries, they are getting that time.

The Phillies went on to wipe the floor with the Braves in a 14-1 win, matching their biggest run total of the year and racking up 20 hits, a season high.  They maintain the best record in all of baseball at 57-34 to enter the All-Star break.

Before the game today, the Phillies All-Stars were handed their All-Star jersey’s and Shane Victorino thanked a fan who voted for him over 10,000 times in the final vote.  I am guessing they later awarded him with a tee-shirt that said, “I have no life.”  10,000 votes?  I love Shane, but please, someone give this man a real job.

 

Both Victorino and Placido Polanco will go to Arizona, but due to their injuries, neither will play in the All-Star game.  Hamels will also not pitch because he started today.

Here is the full Photo Album from the Sunday game.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Victorino to DL as Braves Come to Town

Only 2.5 games ahead of the Braves in the NL East, this weekend series is a big one for the Phillies.  And now, one of their biggest offensive threats will not be joining them.

Earlier today, centerfielder Shane Victorino was placed on the disabled list, retroactive to Monday, July 4th.  He would be eligible to return on July 19th.  This is his second trip to the DL this year.

This move comes one day after Victorino was voted into the All-Star game by the fans.  Obviously, he will now not be participating in the All-Star festivities due to the sprained thumb.

The injury occurred after Victorino stumbled on the astro turf in Toronto this past Sunday.  Initially, it looked like Victorino twisted his ankle:

 

Later, it was revealed that he jammed his thumb during the fall.

Pete Orr has been recalled from Triple-A to take Victorino’s place on the roster.  Still, this is a huge blow for the Phillies who also have Placido Polanco in limbo with an aching back.  Polanco was supposed to see a specialist yesterday, but there is still no word on the outcome.

So the Phillies will enter this important 3-game series with five veteran pitchers on the DL, their centerfielder on the DL and third baseman in limbo.  On top of that, the Braves have a very good team and a much better bullpen then the Phillies.

Buckle-up Phillies fans; this is going to be a long, crazy weekend.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

5 Big Positives From The Phillies Signing Cliff Lee

December 15th is a historical date.  In 1794, the United States Bill of Rights became law.  In 1933, the 21st Amendment went into effect, legalizing alcohol.  Russians landed on Venus in 1970. And now, in the year 2010, Cliff Lee re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The signing will obviously not impact our society in such way as the Bill of Rights or the 21st Amendment once did.  And it is doubtful that December 15th will be named a national holiday.  However, this is still a historic occasion for the City of Philadelphia.

The following is a list of five ways in which the Cliff Lee deal has made a positive impact on the team, the city and the fans.

Four Aces Are Better Than Three


4 starters.jpgThe entire Phillies team just got a whole lot better.  Adding Cliff Lee to the already dominant rotation of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels has the potential to make the opposition weep like children.

All together, that makes 3 Cy Young awards, 13 All-Star appearances plus an NLCS and a World Series MVP title.  Combining all four starter’s 2010 ERA’s comes out to an average ERA of 2.86.  If they stay healthy, this rotation will be frightening.

Statistics aside, these are four very competitive pitchers who will push each other to do better.  This type of healthy dynamic should inspire the entire team to work harder and expect more from themselves and their teammates. 

Having solid starting pitching also takes a great deal of pressure off the offense.  Players who can relax at the plate will be more productive.  After a down year in 2010, this Phillies offense should be ready to explode.

The City of Philadelphia Finally Gets Some Respect

The City of Philadelphia and their sports fans constantly get a bad rap in the media.  Focusing only on the negative, national press makes Philadelphia look like a war zone. 


240A.jpgYes, some horrible human being threw up on a little girl at a Phillies game.  The Eagles snowballs and Santa disaster begs the question, will the media ever get over it?  That was in 1968.  It is officially time to let it go.

There are idiots everywhere, not just in Philly.  Look at the Cubs fan who threw beer on Shane Victorino during a play in the outfield.  Ask the family of the poor teenager who was killed after a San Francisco Giants game in 2008.  But these are isolated incidents and by no means do they reflect the attitudes or actions of an entire fan base.

About Philadelphia fans, Cliff Lee told the press, “They get excited. They’re passionate fans. They understand what’s going on. They don’t need a teleprompter to tell them to get up and cheer, to do that.”  Lee also stated, ” Yeah, you know, the feeling of playing on the field feels different than anywhere else. I don’t know how to explain it other than you can feel the volume that’s created by the fans and their intensity.”

Lee loves Philadelphia, the team and their fans so much that he took fewer contract years and less money to play here.  Much to the dismay of the national media, Cliff Lee has finally given Philadelphia the respect it deserves.

Philadelphia Just Landed On Every Player’s Wish List

Along with the respect that Cliff Lee’s words and actions have delivered, this signing has also put the Phillies on the wish list of all major league players who are interested in winning. 

The days of JD Drew, who was drafted by the Phillies in 1997 but refused to sign, are long gone.  No more grumblings from the likes of Scott Rolen either, claiming the Phillies have no desire to win.

The Phillies were already on the minds of many players before the Cliff Lee signing.  Roy Halladay made an exception to his no-trade clause last year to come to Philadelphia.  Later in July of 2010, Roy Oswalt did the same.

But the Cliff Lee deal puts the Phillies in a whole new echelon.  They are now able to compete with the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees.  The Yankees lost out on Lee despite offering more money and additional years.  So while the Yankees payroll still far outweighs the Phillies, in terms of status, they are now nearly equals.

Jayson Who?  Losing Werth Is Not So Bad

There was a lot of groaning among Phillies fans when All-Star right fielder Jayson Werth signed a gigantic contract with the Washington Nationals.  Fans having flashbacks to Werth’s monster home runs, a steal of home plate, his rocket arm nailing runners at the plate and the 2008 World Series win, were disappointed that the Phillies did not try harder to sign him.

The facts now show that had the Phillies re-signed Werth, Cliff Lee would not be on the team.  They simply would not have had the money or resources to bring Lee back.

Pitching wins ballgames.  The impact Lee will have on this Phillies team in the long run far outweighs anything that Werth may have delivered.

Werth went where the money was and no one can fault him for that.  But that move further illuminates the magnitude of Lee’s decision to sign with the Phillies for less money.  Lee will be appreciated by Phillies fans everywhere.  Werth will simply fade away into a distant memory.

Ruben Amaro Jr. Is Now A Phillies Legend


P5140472 Amaro2.jpgA Philadelphia native, Ruben Amaro Jr. started out as a Phillies bat boy in 1980.  His father, Ruben Amaro Sr., was the first base coach at that time.  Prior to that, Amaro Sr. played short stop for the Phillies from 1960-1965.  Amaro Jr. also played for the Phillies from 1992 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998 in the outfield.  He became the Assistant GM right after his playing career ended.  Currently the Phillies General Manager, this man has literally spent almost his entire adult life, and part of his teenage years, with the Phillies.

Many were unsure of how Amaro would fare in the GM spotlight, having taken over the job right after the 2008 World Series.  Amaro was doing a pretty average job but did not score big until wrapping up Roy Halladay last offseason.  Most were thrilled with the Halladay signing.  However, the happiness quickly turned to shock when it was announced that Cliff Lee was traded in order to replenish the farm system.

The short half year that Lee spent with the Phillies in 2009 was enough to enamor him to the entire fan base.  His easy-going and unwavering demeanor on the mound combined with his ability to mow down opposing batters made Lee a fan favorite.  He was also the only Phillies pitcher to record a win in that year’s World Series, which they ultimately lost to the Yankees.

To say that trading Lee was a stunning blow to the fans is an understatement.  Even months later and well into the 2010 season, people questioned the move.  Some even went so far as to proclaim it the dumbest move Amaro would ever make.

And while those people may be correct, Amaro created an extreme reversal of fortune by re-signing Lee on December 15, 2010.  The five-year, $120 million dollar dear with a sixth year option completely redeemed Amaro. 

Amaro jumped though a number a very large hoops to make this deal happen.  The biggest of those had to be convincing team ownership, who have been notoriously stingy in the past, to cough up the dough.  This will be the highest payroll carried in Phillies team history.

Respect is not easy to come by in this business, but Amaro has now earned it.  He is a formidable opponent in the eyes of other ball clubs and to his own staff and players, he is a true leader.  More than that, Amaro has earned the trust of this organization.  They know he wants to win both now and in the future.

The Cliff Lee deal has cemented Amaro’s place in Phillies history.  All he is missing now is his very own World Series Championship. 

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Will Aaron Rowand Return To The Phillies?

The Phillies made two moves on Tuesday that may indicate a few deals are in the works at the Winter Meetings.  Pitchers Jesus Sanchez and Yohan Flande were released from the 40-man roster, likely to make room for a few additions.  One of those additions is rumored to be ex-Phillie Aaron Rowand.


29 Rowand Runs (1)A.jpgRowand has two more years and $24 million left on his contract with the Giants.  After a down year in 2010 and losing his starting spot, the Giants have implied that Rowand is no longer in their plans going forward.  If the Giants are willing to eat most of his salary, Rowand could possibly return to Philly.

Best known for smashing his face against the centerfield wall at Citizens Bank Park to make a game-saving catch in 2006, Rowand was also the leader in the clubhouse and well loved by players and coaches alike.  He was never afraid to call out a teammate who was slacking. This kind of fire is what Charlie Manuel loves about Rowand.  It may also be motivation to bring him back.

In 2007, Rowand had a career year with the Phillies, batting .309 with 27 homers and 89 RBI.  He also made the All-Star team that year.  Since departing for San Francisco, Rowand’s numbers have steadily declined.  At the time, critics said the move to a  larger ballpark might affect his production and that appears to be the case.  On the flip side, a return to the smaller confines of Citizens Bank Park may give new life to Rowand’s bat.

In addition, Rowand will have something to prove wherever he lands.  This is a guy who plays the game hard and takes pride in his performance.  Losing his starting job may have been the kick in the backside he needed. 

Another upside is that Rowand can play either center or right field, just as Jayson Werth was able to.  Neither Domonic Brown or Ben Francisco would likely be effective in center in the event that Shane Victorino is hurt or needs a break.  And right now, Victorino is the only true centerfielder on the roster.  Even if it is just coming off the bench, Rowand could fill that role while Brown and Francisco patrol right field.

Whether or not the Phillies decide to work out a deal with the Giants for Rowand is still unknown.  But if the price is right, Rowand could be a real asset and maybe inject new life into this Phillies team.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phillies Acquire Mike Sweeney

With Ryan Howard on the DL, the Phillies look to bolster their line-up by adding first baseman Mike Sweeney, 37.  He comes to Philly from the Mariners for either cash or a player to be named later.  While Sweeney has not gotten a lot of work this year in Seattle, he is batting .263 with six home runs and 18 RBI in 30 games, including three starts at first base.

sweeney.jpg

Sweeney is a 5-time All-Star, having been selected each year from 2000-2005 while playing for the Royals, who drafted him in 1991.  Sweeney set a Royals record for RBIs in a season with 144 in 2000.  He is a lifetime .298 hitter with 901 RBI’s and 213 homers.

Some more interesting notes about Sweeney: His wife, Shara, is the daughter of Jim Nettles and her uncle is Graig Nettles, both former major leaguers and brothers.  There is also a Philadelphia connection; Sweeney’s first major league home run in 1996 was off of Phillies pitcher, Jamie Moyer.

While Sweeney is in the latter years of his career and has had some back issues, he appears healthy now and should be a nice addition at first base for the Phillies while Howard is out.  On his Sweeney Family Foundation web site, Sweeney’s wife lists one of his life goals as “learning to put the toilet seat down.”  He will need that sense of humor to play in Philadelphia…I wish him luck :O)

 

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phillies Big Bang Theory

According to Wikipedia, the Big Bang Theory refers to the idea that the universe was originally extremely hot and dense at some finite time in the past and has since cooled by expanding to the present diluted state and continues to expand today.  The same theory can be used to explain the Phillies 2010 season thus far.  They got off to a very hot start in April, cooled off from May to most of July and are now “expanding.”  Although, “exploding” may be a more accurate term.

At first, having to face the best pitcher in the National League today did not seem like good news for the struggling Phillies offense.  But after scoring 6 runs yesterday, maybe they got some of their Mojo back.  Because they absolutely destroyed the Rockies ace, Ubaldo Jimenez. 

Jimenez entered the game with a record of 15-1 and a miniscule 2.38 ERA.  But he left the game after only 2 innings and 6 runs allowed on 3 hits and 6 walks.  All 6 runs scored in the top of the 3rd inning without Jimenez even recording an out. 
Big Bang Howard Werth.jpg
It was starting to look like the “diluted” state of the Phils offense was about to pass.  The Rockies bullpen gave up one more run, but finally, after 30 minutes, got out of the bottom of the 3rd inning.

Jimmy Rollins, very comfy back in his leadoff spot, kicked off the 3rd inning with a single to left.  The next two batters walked as Jimenez started to look rattled.  Then Ryan Howard smacked a triple down the 1st base line.  The walks kept coming and Rollins hit a triple to score two more runs in his second at-bat of the inning.   The Rockies must have wondered if that inning was ever going to end.

While the inning did have to end eventually, the Phillies kept trying to add on and give pitcher Kyle Kendrick a huge cushion.  Kendrick had extra motivation to pitch well today.  In his last outing, Kendrick allowed 7 runs and was then demoted to the minors.  You had to expect a solid effort today as the injury to Jamie Moyer forced the Phillies to give Kendrick one more shot.

Kendrick took advantage of the unexpected opportunity and pitched very well.  By the 7th inning, Kendrick had an 8 run lead to work with and he had allowed only 1 run at that point.  He loaded the bases in the 7th with 2 outs, but managed to get out of it with a fly ball to center.  So Kendrick went 7 innings, allowing 1 run on a solo homer.  This result was more than anyone could have hoped for from Kendrick.


110A.jpgThere were a number of positives to come out of this game, aside from the obvious…a win.  Rollins looks like the player of old again with 3 big hits, a stolen base and 3 RBI.  Raul Ibanez is still loving the 3-hole in the line-up; he had his own big bang with 2-run homer in the 6th.  Jayson Werth had 2 hits and Howard racked up 3 more RBI.  Placido Polanco played 2nd base today and Greg Dobbs was at third, which turned out to be a good move.  Polanco had 2 hits and Dobbs added a hit, an RBI and a walk and played well at 3rd.  Even Ben Francisco got a pinch-hit double.

So is this the big bang the Phillies have been waiting for to kick start their offense?  A 10-2 win preceded by a 6-0 win should serve as a very good sign.  The players that have not been hitting are coming back to life.  It is a welcome sight for sure.

Another note of interest, rookie Vance Worley made his major league debut today, pitching the 9th inning for the Phillies.   The 22-year old righty starter was 9-4 with a 3.20 ERA in AA ball for the R-Phils; he had pitched 17 consecutive scoreless innings in his last two games before being called up to the Phils to work in the bullpen.  Worley was a 3rd round draft pick in 2008 and has made considerable strides since pitching at a 5.34 ERA last year.

In today’s 9th inning, Worley’s fast ball topped out at 95 mph with a 76 mph curve ball and an 83-84mph slider.  He looked solid, changed speeds well and the end result was 2 strikeouts and a fly ball out to center.  Great job by the rookie!

So, if JA Happ can give the Phillies a solid start tomorrow, they have a shot at winning 4 in a row which has not happened since before the All-Star break.  I will be at the game and shall return with photos.  See you there!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

An Ugly Win; But Still A Win

Before the Phillies – Cubs game today, Placido Polanco returned from the DL.  Juan Castro, who has not contributed too much lately, was released to make room.  It is good to have Polly back!  But instead of giving the team a spark, they kept playing like they were in a coma.

By the 9th inning, down 0-1, it looked like the sleeping Phils were about to lose their 3rd straight to the Cubs.  But then a miracle occurred; the Cubs bullpen took pity on them and walked two batters.  Then with two outs, Polly came through with a base hit and Brian Schneider tried to score.  He should have been out by a mile, but the very kind Cubbies took pity again; an off-line throw home kept Schneider safe. 

However, the Cubs bullpen was not fully satisfied with their charity.  Pitcher Carlos Marmol tossed a wild pitch and Ross Gload scored.  Then Marmol intentionally walked Ryan Howard and not-so-intentionally walked Jayson Werth to score another run for the Phillies. 
Pinella platter.png
Pitcher James Russell wanted in on this charitable action!  So he gave up a single to Raul Ibanez, which scored the 4th run of the inning.  Ok, maybe Ibanez had a little to do with the hit…

Actually, Ibanez had two hits in the game, as did Werth and Shane Victorino.  But they left many, many men on base through 8 innings and could not score a run.  Of course, the Phillies will take a win anyway they can get it, even if it is handed to them on a silver platter.

So they went on to win by a score of 4-1.  However, something still seems to be very wrong with the Phillies.  Is it a lack of enthusiasm?  Or perhaps it is just another slump?  No, I think not.  Based on the evidence, I am going to have to say it must be brain damage.  Take a look at the facts from today’s game:

- Victorino got thrown out at second base…twice.  Once, he was stealing and once he was trying to stretch a single into a double.  Conclusion: brain damage.


Phillies brain.jpg- Ibanez stole second base and then somehow, with his super-slow motion running abilities, thought, hey, I’ll steal third!  Nope…he was out.  Conclusion: brain damage.

- Wilson Valdez forgot to cover first base on a Cubs bunt and allowed the runner to get safely to first while a run scored.  And later in the game, Valdez dropped a pop-up.  Conclusion: brain damage.

- Cole Hamels pitched an AMAZING game, allowing only 1 run in 7 innings.  Yet, the offense did NOTHING to help him out.  He got a no decision.  Conclusion: brain damage.

- The Phillies lost the first two games of this series to a team that sucks.  Sorry Cubs fans, no disrespect, but this team is not good and is now 10 games under .500.  Conclusion: You guessed it, brain damage.

So the question now remains, will this 9th inning comeback today be the cure for their brain damage?  They swept the Reds going into the All-Star break, with 3 of the 4 wins coming in extra innings.  They returned from the break and dropped two to the Cubs.  So the Reds series did not have a huge impact.  Will today’s game propel them forward?  We shall see…

Roy Halladay will be the next Phillies pitcher to pray for some runs.  Game time tomorrow is 8:05pm.

 

Howard & Pinella photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

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