Results tagged ‘ Astros ’

Phils Let The Sweep Slip Away

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Kyle Kendrick is going to need to find his happy place after today’s outing against the Nationals.  Having done well in Spring Training, Kendrick’s first official start of 2010 was a big disappointment.  Lasting only 4 innings, Kendrick allowed 5 runs on 9 hits against a team that sometimes resembles a minor league team.  But in the first inning, the Nats looked like they were taking batting practice off the young pitcher.

A sinker ball pitcher, Kendrick left way too many pitches up in the zone and lacked control.  He had a great opportunity here with the injury to Joe Blanton to show he could start in the majors again, but after today, it does not look good.  Granted, it is only one start, but first impressions can be lasting ones.

The Phillies batters got him off the hook for the loss when they tied the game up in the 6th on a Jimmy Rollins sac fly.  But in the 7th, the Nats took the lead again as a result of Nelson Figueroa walking the first batter of the inning who eventually scored.  In his first appearance back with the Phillies, Figueroa did fairly well, but the 3 walks he gave up created problems.

Chase Utley led off the 9th with a double and Jayson Werth sacrificed him over to third, giving the Phillies hope.  But then Raul Ibanez, who is hitting a meager .091 so far this year, hit a short pop-up to make the second out.  It was not nearly far enough to score Utley.  Shane Victorino followed suit with a short pop-up of his own to end the game, with the Phillies losing 5-6.

The story of the game was men left on base; the Phils left 11 of them stranded.  The at-bats were not as patient as the first two games and the concentration seemed lacking.  It was a bad flashback to last year where this teams’ biggest issue was the inability to play small ball and manufacture runs.

The shame of it is that great offensive performances were overshadowed by the lack of timely hitting.  Werth hit 3 doubles in the game and the top 5 batters in the order had at least 2 hits each.  The bottom of the line-up did not perform and many of the hits came at the wrong times.

But starting the year off with 2 out of 3 is not so bad.  So Phillies fans, just for tonight, go find your happy place and hang there until we get to Houston tomorrow night.

 

Kendrick photo by Jenn

 

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

 

Phillies Off-Season Report on 6-ABC

Last night, 6-ABC Philadelphia aired a special report on the Phillies Off-Season.  The report covered the weddings of Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, Jamie Moyer’s charity work, Chad Durbin’s business venture, the Phillies Cruise and Charlie Manuel’s weight loss.  The Phillies Cruise coverage is about 3 minutes into the program and you can see five of my photos featured in that portion of the report with my name listed underneath:

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And here are still shots of the photos as they aired in the report:


Thumbnail image for 6 abc Cruise photos.jpgSpecial thanks to Scott Palmer and Scott Nickle at the Phillies and Beth Widhson at Holland America for including me in this project :O)

Earlier this week, there were a few very “minor” signings that occurred.  The Phillies picked up veteran outfielder Freddy Guzman on a Minor League contract.  He will not be invited to Spring Training.  And veteran right-hander Oscar Villarreal was also given Minor League contract on Thursday.  Villareal is coming off Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2009 season.  He was with the Astros in 2008, the Braves from 2006-2007 and the D-Backs three years prior to that.  With many question marks still in the bullpen, another in inexpensive, yet experienced arm hanging around is a good idea.

And if you have not seen it already, check out my report on the new Fantasy Baseball tools from Bloomberg Sports.  The tools are available for pre-order now at mlb.com and will be ready to use on 2/18/10.

So the countdown to Spring Training continues…only 6 days until the truck rolls out and 13 days until pitchers and catchers report!

Photos by Jenn

 

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

 

Catch & Toss

The Phillies found a back-up catcher today when they signed Brian Schneider to a $2.75 million, 2 year deal.  Schneider spent the last 2 years with the Mets and the previous 8 seasons with the Nationals/Expos.  The best news here is that Schneider was notorious for being a Phillie killer; pitching to him has been a 10 year nightmare.  Overall, Schneider is  a .251 hitter and should fit nicely into the back-up spot vacated by Paul Bako and Chris Coste before that.

And in a very odd twist to the situation, Coste has just been signed by the Mets!  P6216152 CCoste.jpgCoste started the 2009 season with the Phillies before being tossed and subsequently picked up off waivers by Houston in July.  The self-proclaimed 33-year old rookie is now in enemy threads which is sure to send shockwaves throughout Philadelphia.  Coste was well loved in Philly and many were unhappy with his departure.  Not to mention, many would rather see him retire than play in a Mets uniform.  It is a sad, sad day for Coste fans.  But look at the bright side; at least we will get to see him a lot next year :O)

As for the other holes in the line-up, like third base, no word yet except that midnight tonight is the deadline for all teams to offer salary arbitration to their free agents.  The Phillies are likely to offer arbitration to Chan Ho Park as they have stated they want him back next year.  Park may decline and decide to look around for a starting pitching spot as several teams have seemed interested in him.  If he accepts, he will be with the Phillies for 2010 and probably get a raise.  As for the other free agents, Bako and Eric Bruntlett are out of the picture with their replacements already signed in Brian Schneider and Juan CastroBrett Myers has already been shown the door, as has Jack TaschnerPedro Feliz, Pedro Martinez, Matt Stairs and Miguel Cairo are also unlikely, although Stairs and Cairo may be offered minor league deals. 

Ticket Prices

So, have we all looked at our season ticket invoices yet?  This is not a huge shock, but Phillies ticket prices went up again this year by $2- $4 per ticket.  Not only that, but some season ticket holders received worse seat assignments.  Someone I know got bumped backwards 2 rows in the same section.  So, we are now paying more for less?  While 2 rows is not earth shattering, traditionally, season ticket holders have been rewarded for their loyalty with better seats from year to year, not punished.

So yes, the World Series win in 2008 plus the return trip in 2009 do affect the prices, unfortunately.  But that does not make it any easier to swallow.  The money does not go towards improving the team or free agency; it is just more in the pockets of the owners.   And with the team winning now, they do it simply because they can.

Prices over the recent years have increased tremendously.  A seat that cost $42 in 2004 is now $58 for 2010.  The last year of the vet for the same seat was $26.   What I am wondering though is what happens when the team sucks again?  Do we become the Nationals with a stadium that is only 25% full?  I follow the team win or lose, but I will not pay those prices to see them lose when I can do that at home for free.  Then again, maybe they will never suck again…one can dream ;o)

So, did anyone else get there ticket invoice and wonder what happened?  Did you get the same seats or did you get bumped back?  What do you think about the prices?  Let me know in the comment section below.

Coste photo by Jenn

 

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

 

Injuries Causing Concern

The Phillies lost against the Astros last night by a score of 3-5 behind the obviously tired arm of Cliff Lee. 
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Lee has pitched a career high 231 2/3 innings this year and is showing signs of fatigue.  Yesterday, he allowed 3 runs on 7 hits and a walk in 5 2/3 innings and was all over the strike zone, seemingly unable to command his fastball.  In fact, Lee has allowed 27 runs in his last 7 games after allowing only 3 runs in his first 5 games with the Phillies.  This is not good news for the guy who is likely to be our #1 pitcher in the playoffs. 

While Lee seems to be healthy though, other are not.  JC Romero experienced soreness in his previously injured forearm after only 1 game back.  Romero will seek a second opinion this week, but it does not look good for our #1 lefty in the pen.

Jamie Moyer, who has been wonderful in middle/long relief since being sent to the pen, is out for the year and will have surgery on 2 groin and 1 one abdomen muscles that he tore in the game on 9/29.  Moyer will be sorely missed in October.

Another long reliever who did a great job in the pen is Chan Ho Park.  Park is also out with an injury.  He attempted to pitch in an Instructional League game in Clearwater a few days back and felt a pull in the injured hamstring which means, his recovery time is still uncertain.

Add to that, Scott Eyre is pitching through a bone chip in his elbow.  He was effective in the clinching game on Wednesday, but how long can he go with that sort of pain?  That leaves the pen with only 1 lefty who is healthy and that is the rookie, Sergio Escalona. 

That means it is more and more likely that JA Happ will be moved to the bullpen for the post-season to add a lefty arm.  And that is really unfortunate, especially since he and Joe Blanton are the only 2 starters who have been consistent all year.  In fact, they are the only 2 starters who have recorded wins since 9/21/09 – the last 11 games.

Brett Myers is back, but he is rusty and will need some work to be ready for the post-season.  The Phillies need to get their pitching staff back on track and healthy if they are to go far in the playoffs.  We will see how it plays out over the last 3 regular season games; the Marlins are up…game time tonight is 7:05pm.

Photo by Jenn

 

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

 

Phillies Win NL East For 3rd Consecutive Year

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Pop the champagne Phillies fans; for the 3rd year in a row, this team has won the NL East and will be playing in the post-season.  In a game that included at least one RBI from every starting position player except lead-off hitter Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies powered their way to a 10-3 mashing of the Astros to win the title.  Rollins did have 2 hits in the game though, plus a walk and he scored twice.

A true team effort, the win included back-to-back triples by Rollins and Shane Victorino, a massive 2-run homer by Raul Ibanez, a sac fly, a stolen base and 3 doubles.  Pedro Martinez pitched only 4 innings and allowed 3 runs, but his teammates picked him up with their hitting and some great relief pitching.  Kyle Kendrick, who spent nearly the whole year in the minors, pitched 3 innings of scoreless ball allowing only 2 hits.  Chad Durbin picked up the 8th; Scott Eyre got the 1st 2 outs in the 9th and, believe it or not, Charlie Manuel put Brad Lidge in to finish the game.  Lidge got his old buddy Lance Berkman out on 1 pitch.

So, it is time to rejoice!  Since I was not able to attend the game tonight, I broke out some old photos from the 2007 NL East clinching game.  Here are a few ways the Phillies may now be celebrating:

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Here at home, the Phillies unofficial mascots, J-Roll Smurf and Chutley Smurf are also partying hard.  A drink and a victory lap:

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Now just take a deep breath and exhale…ahhhhhh!  Time to relax…for now.  Home field advantage is still up for grabs.  That challenge will begin with tomorrow night at 7:05pm in the last game of 4 against the Astros.  Go Phillies!

Photos by Jenn

Except champagne photo by: http://i.telegraph.co.uk/t

 

 

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

 

 

One Win Away

After sending Phillies fan everywhere into panic mode with some really bad baseball, the Phillies finally got their act together last night. 
P9026431 Feliz.jpgThey beat the Astros 7-4 behind the pitching of rookie JA Happ and a Grand Slam from Pedro Feliz.

Happ won his 12th game of the year, which leads all rookie pitchers.  He had a lot of base runners, but worked out of jams by remaining calm and throwing strikes.  In 5 2/3 innings, Happ allowed 3 earned runs on 9 hits and 1 walk.  An interference error by Paul Bako behind the plate gave the Astros one additional run, which was unearned.  But once again, it was a Happ-Y day for the rookie.

Jamie Moyer pitched 1 1/3 after Happ left the game and did a great job.  But on the last pitch of the inning, he strained a groin muscle and the extent of the injury is still unknown.  Everyone is crossing their fingers that Moyer will recover quickly.

Ryan Madson pitched a 2-inning save and it looks like we have a new closer.  And the offense finally came to life with 11 hits, the biggest of those being the slam by Feliz in the 4th inning.  It was the Phillies 11th Grand Slam of the year.  Jayson Werth also helped out with a 2-run shot in the 5th to break the game open for the Phils.

Add this win to a loss by the Braves and the Phillies need only one more win or one more Braves loss to clinch their 3rd consecutive NL East title.  Bring a camera if you are headed to the game tonight because today may be the day!  Pedro Martinez will pitch and, if he is healthy, it should be a good game.  Go Phillies!

Photo by Jenn

 

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

 

 

Panic Time?

The Phils got swept in 4 games against the Astros earlier this season and were looking for revenge last night.  The problem is, they need to look a lot harder.  In a horrible 2-8 loss, Cole Hamels allowed 6 runs in 6 2/3 innings.  5 runs were scored by Houston in the 7th inning with 2 outs and NO ONE on base.  Tyler Walker gave up 2 runs of his own, plus allowed 2 for Hamels that same inning with runners he left on base.

The offense did no better.  Their only 2 runs came on a sac fly and a balk call.  And all this against a pitcher that they should have beat the crap out of; Yorman Bazardo was with the Phillies in Spring Training and had a 9.55 ERA coming into last night’s game.  So, the Phillies knew exactly what to expect from him and still only managed 2 hits off Bazardo.

The only real highlight of the game was when Paul Bako blocked home plate as Lance Berkman tried to score.  Berkman missed the plate and Bako ran him down on the dirt track behind home plate to tag him out.

Ok, I lied; 1 more highlight: JC Romero returned to the Phillies last night after a long DL stint with a torn muscle in his forearm.  JC – we missed you!  SO glad to see Romero healthy again.  He pitched 1 inning, allowing 2 hits and no runs.  Romero will need to shake some rust off, but overall, he looked great.  Welcome back!

panicButton.jpgWith the loss last night and a win by the Braves, the magic number is STILL at 3 and the division lead, once at 8.5 games, has dwindled down to 4.  Time to panic yet?  Well, do not push that button just yet…however, if the Phillies do not win tonight, go right ahead.  The pitcher they will face today, Wilton Lopez, is making his first major league start.  Again, the Phillies should beat the pants off this guy…”should” being the critical word.

JA Happ will start for the Phillies; Happ will need to be spectacular and show the rest of this pitching staff how it should be done!  Happ and Joe Blanton are the only 2 Phillies starters to have recorded wins in the last 8 games.  The rest of the staff had better step up…fast!  Best of luck to JA Happ tonight!

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

Strange Brew

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While I am not sure whether or not Charlie Manuel took advantage of my suggestions to wake this Phillies team up, they did still manage to steal a win today in strange fashion against the Brewers.  Joe Blanton had a horrible game; he gave up 5 runs in 5 2/3 innings with 7 hits and 4 walks.  Then, while the Phillies offense jumped all over the Brew Crew in the first 2 innings, they went back to sleep after that and watched a 6-1 lead become 6-5.

The Phils left the bases loaded 3 times without scoring and had 14 runners left on base total.  Shane Victorino and Pedro Feliz had 2 RBI a piece in one at-bat each, but struggled the rest of the game.  Feliz even hit into an inning ending double play with 2 runners on at one point.  Jimmy Rollins had 3 hits in the game, including a lead-off homer, the 33rd of his career.  But Rollins only scored that one time as no one could knock him in after that.

But for a change, the bullpen held the small lead down and the Phillies won the game.  Ryan Madson got a 4-out save and it looks like he will officially replace Brad Lidge in that spot.  This team has to be relieved to be heading back home to Philly where they now need 3 wins out of 7 remaining games to win the NL East for the 3rd year in a row.

Cole Hamels will take the mound for the first of a 4-game series against the Astros tomorrow night at 7:05pm.  The Phils were swept by the Astros in Texas earlier this year, so this will be a tough series for them.

Photo by Jenn

 

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

 

9th Inning Rally Falls Short

Going into the 9th inning last night against the Nationals down 2-8, it looked like a sure loss for the Phillies.  Joe Blanton had his worst game of the year, giving up all 8 of those runs in only 4 2/3 innings.  But with one out in the 9th, Jayson Werth hit a slow grounder and drew a Nationals error to land him safely on 1st base. P4057765 Stairs.jpg After that, the Phillies loaded the bases for Matt Stairs.

Stairs had not had a hit in what seems like ages (30 at-bats) but finally came up big with a Grand Slam to put the team within 2 runs.  Shane Victorino knocked in another run a few batters later to bring the score to 7-8.  Then, with runners on 1st and 3rd and still only 1 out, Ryan Howard came up to the plate.  Who better to hit a sac fly to tie the game, right?  Wrong.  Two things happened here: Chase Utley fell asleep on 1st and did not advance to 2nd on a wild pitch when the Nationals were only concerned with Victorino on third.  Utley would have made it without challenge.  Then, Howard hits a slow grounder which turns into a double play to end the game!  Had Utley advanced, the game would have been tied.

So what was going to be a blow-out loss for the Phillies turns into a heartbreaker at the last minute.  Add to that both the Marlins and Braves won last night and now the Phillies are only 5 games ahead in the division.  A few weeks ago, they had an 8 ½ game lead which they are now letting slip away.

After the game, Charlie Manuel said his team is “playing down” to the competition.  The Phillies are getting beat by mediocre (Astros) and very, very bad teams (Nationals – worst team in baseball).  If they do not hit their stride in the Mets series this weekend, it is going to be a very uncomfortable run at the post-season.

Cole Hamels pitches tonight at 7:05pm.  Cross your fingers folks!

Photos by Jenn

 

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

 

Homer Happy

After a depressing 4 game slide against the Astros, the Phillies bats came out swinging last night against the Nationals.  Five home runs later, and it looked like this team may be finding its stride again.  Raul Ibanez busted out of his slump with 2 of the 5 homers plus a single.  The other 3 home runs came courtesy of Jayson Werth, Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley.  The Phillies became only the 12th team in history last night to have at least 4 players with 30 or more home runs in a season: those 4 are Utley, Werth, Ibanez and Ryan Howard.

Although the forecast called for rain last night, Pedro Martinez got a break from Mother Nature and was able to pitch 6 2/3 innings uninterrupted.  Martinez gave up 3 runs on 7 hits and a walk and did a good job keeping the Phillies in the game.  He even showed some attitude when he signaled to a Nationals player that he had his eye on him.

Here are a few shots from the game:

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Despite the 5-3 lead going into the 9th inning, the drama was not yet over for the Phillies.  As usual and despite his struggles, Brad Lidge was sent in for the save and proceeded to self-destruct once again.  A hit, then a hit batter and a walk loaded the bases.  With only one out and the game on the line, Charlie Manuel emerged from the dugout, angrily tossed his gum across the dirt and took Lidge out of the game.  Ryan Madson bailed him out by retiring the Nationals best hitters in order; Ryan Zimmerman struck out and Adam Dunn grounded out.

It seems to be crystal clear to everyone except Charlie Manuel that Lidge is DONE.  He should be removed from the closer role immediately.  This has gone on long enough and has turned into a major problem.  I respect Lidge as a person and as the guy who got it done for this team in 2008, but this has gone too far.  Put him on ice and try it again next year.  If Manuel refuses to do what is necessary, then I believe GM Ruben Amaro Jr. needs to step in and take the decision out of his hands.  I have never been a fan of GM’s interfering with the manager, but in this case, it appears that Manuel just cannot muster the courage to do the right thing.

I feel for Charlie, really I do.  I would not want to be in his shoes, but the manager needs to put personal feelings aside and get this team back on track.  Brett Myers has experience closing and he wants to do the job.  Right now, Lidge looks like he is dreading having to step on the mound every time out.  Myers is capable, he is healthy and last night, he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings; it was his third straight scoreless outing since returning from hip surgery.  Clearly, he is ready, willing and able to do the job.

I understand that Manuel does not want to crush the confidence of his closer, who is going to be with the Phillies for the next two years.  However, Lidge will have an entire off-season to get over it.  And yes, the Phillies have a lead in the division, but watch how fast that lead disappears when the Phillies do things like get swept in a four game series by the Astros and then nearly blow the next game against the Nationals because Manuel is worried about hurting feelings.  No lead is safe when your closer cannot perform.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game….enjoy!

 

Photos by Jenn

 

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

 

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