Results tagged ‘ Ben Francisco ’

Halladay Earns 10th Win With Complete Game Against A’s

Before Sunday’s Phillies – Athletics match-up, the Phillies honored former major leaguer Bobby Shantz.  The 1952 American League MVP played for the Philadelphia A’s from 1949-1954 and for the Phillies in 1964.  He was joined on the field by Connie Mack’s 97-year-old daughter Ruth Mack Clark:

 

Once the game began, Roy Halladay was on point as usual.  He went the distance yet again, saving a depleted Phillies bullpen.  After nine innings, eight hits, one run and no walks, Halladay finally earned his 10th win of the year.


The offense was not spectacular again, but they got the job done.  Jimmy Rollins led the way, going 4-for-4 and scoring twice.  Shane Victorino and Ben Francisco each sent  J-Roll home once.  The third run scored with no outs in the first while Ryan Howard grounded into a double play.  But he knocked in a run, so he is forgiven.


There were some odd plays on defense as well.  The A’s struggled to hit Halladay and as a result, they managed a bunch of weak fly balls that landed in the middle of nowhere.  Wilson Valdez had a real adventure at second base playing in place of Chase Utley for the day.  A few balls hit in no-man’s land seemed catchable, but ultimately they eluded Valdez.


The Phillies collected a 3-1 win over the A’s and won the series by two games to one.  They have a day off today before starting a 3-game series with the Red Sox on Tuesday.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.  Enjoy!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Snooze-Fest Ends With a Walk-Off Win

There were a number of moves made right before tonight’s Phillies – Athletics match-up.  Catcher Brian Schneider came off the DL, while Roy Oswalt went on the DL.  With no need for a 3rd catcher, Dane Sardinha was sent back down and pitcher Scott Mathieson was recalled and added to the bullpen.  And J.C. Romero cleared waivers, declined a minor league offer and was then given his outright release.

And while that was a whole lot of movement in one day, no one expected these roster moves to be the big action of the night.  Because once the game started, it was nap time.

I like a pitcher’s duel as much as the next fan, but this game, although it remained hitless for a long, long time, was not your typical duel.  The pitching was not super sharp from either team and both sides issued a bunch of walks.

Despite the slight sloppiness, neither team earned a hit until two outs into the sixth inning.  Vance Worley’s no-hitter was broken up by a Hideki Matsui double.

In the bottom of the sixth, Placido Polanco got the first hit of the night for the Phillies with a single against Guillermo Moscoso.  Pronouncing Moscoso’s name was more entertaining than his pitching as the game dragged on with little action.

By the eighth inning, each team had only two hits.  And both teams had issued five walks each by the time the ninth inning began.  Several fans left in the stands appeared to be struggling to keep themselves upright.

As the yawns continued and the Phillies offense snoozed, even my cat fell asleep.  But a 0-0 ballgame is no time for a cat nap!

So in the 9th inning, Shane Victorino walked and Domonic Brown got his second single of the night.  A sac fly moved them into scoring position.  So with two outs, Ben Francisco stepped to the plate, determined to wake up all the sleepy fans in the stands.  He smacked an RBI-single to left for the walk-off win.

The Phillies just barely pulled off a 1-0 win to open this home stand.  And now, because it took them nine innings to wake me up, I will not be able to sleep for hours.  But when I finally do, at least I will have pleasant dreams ;o)

Cole Hamelspitches tomorrow!  And with any luck, the offense will join him in the effort; game time is 7:05pm.

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Cardinals Implode in the 8th & Hand the Phillies a Win

Tonight’s Phillies – Cardinals match-up was basically a snooze-fest through six innings.  For the Cards, few hits were not surprising since they had to face Roy Halladay.  But the Phillies faced a pitcher they really should have hit and they did not.

Halladay allowed only one run.  Although if Placido Polanco had gotten a ground ball out of his glove quicker in the 5th, he would have had a double play to prevent that run from scoring.

Polanco had a bad day overall.  He is simply not hitting while in the 5-hole and went 0-for-3 today.  In the 8th inning, Polly got plunked with a pitch in the hand.  And though he got an RBI because the bases were loaded, he had to leave the game.  No word yet on how serious the injury may be.

The rest of the offense was just as bad against starter Kyle McClellan.  They managed only five hits and one run off a very average starter.  Carlos Ruiz was the only exception with three hits off McClellan and four hits in the game total.

What is really frustrating is watching Phillies batters strike out with less than two outs and the bases loaded or hit into a double play with runners on base.  Raul Ibanez did both tonight.

But the Cardinals proceeded to implode in the 8th after McClellan was lifted.  The drama began when two hitters got hit with pitches, including Polanco, and Chase Utley was walked before that.  Three runs were forced home that inning.

Suddenly, the Phillies offense woke up.  I suppose three free runs will do that.  Another run scored on a Ben Francisco pinch-hit and two more on a Jimmy Rollins single. All of this happened with two outs, and they were not done yet.  After batting around, Utley added two more runs with a single.  Ryan Howard followed suit and another run scored.

Let us total the top of the 8th inning damage:  4 walks, 2 HBP, 5 singles, 9 runs scored & 43 minutes of playing time.

By the time the magical 8th inning came to a close, the Phillies went from trailing 2-1 to leading by a score of 10-2.

The only shame, again, was that a great pitching performance from Halladay did not yield a win for him.  So both he and Cole Hamels are still waiting for win #10.

Cliff Lee will pitch on Wednesday night; game time is 8:15pm.

 

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

A Tale of Two Away Games

The Phillies final two games in Seattle were a stark contrast to each other.  Saturday night’s 5-1 win was against 2010 Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez.  But on Sunday, the Phillies lost to Jason Vargas, an average pitcher who entered the game with a 4.13 ERA.

With Vance Worley starting Saturday, the Phillies managed to score some runs.  Worley held the Mariners to just one run over five innings and then Shane Victorino provided most of the offense.

Victorino ended the game just a single short of the cycle and had four RBI on three hits, including a 2-run homer.  Jimmy Rollins had three hits as well.  Both Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez added two hits apiece.

But Sunday, the Phillies seemingly could not hit their way out of a barn.  Howard had two hits, Ben Francisco had one and that was it for the offense.  Vargas tossed a complete game shut-out as the Phils sat and watched.

Cole Hamels pitched a great game, allowing only two runs on a few very cheap, bloop hits.  Hamels also collected his 1,000 career strike out in the fourth inning.

If he had won the game, Hamels would have been the first pitcher in the majors to 10 wins.  He and six other pitchers, including Roy Halladay, are stuck at nine wins.  But it was not meant to be.  Wasting such a great performance was a real shame.

But welcome to Interleague play with the Phillies.  Every year, it is a struggle for them.  After losing two out of three to the Mariners, the Phillies are off tomorrow as they travel to St. Louis for three games with the Cardinals starting on Tuesday.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Win 3 Straight Against Cubs

The Phillies won three of their last four games against the Cubs thanks in part to the big bats of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.  The fourth game in the series today ended with a 4-3 victory.

Roy Oswalt got off to a rough start, allowing three runs in the first inning.  But after he calmed down, Oswalt wound up going seven innings and did allow another run after the first.

However, Oswalt was involved in a little controversy after being called out on strikes in the sixth.  The pitch looked like ball four and Charlie Manuel shouted from the dugout at the home plate umpire.  He was quickly ejected which led to a few fireworks:

Manuel had reason to be upset.  Prior to this incident, he watched his ball club load the bases twice with one out and score only one run each time.  The bases were even loaded with the exact same players in both the first and third innings; Utley, Howard and Ben Francisco.  Francisco drew a walk each time.

Coming away with only one run in the exact same situation twice had to be frustrating.  It was just another reminder of how the Phillies offense has struggled to score runs.

But the memory was just that….a memory.  Because in the seventh inning, Utley and Howard combined to set things straight.  Utley doubled and then a single from Howard drove in two runs.  Howard had three hits and three RBI in the game.  Utley ended with two hits, a walk and two runs scored.

Utley also made what was probably a game-saving catching to end the game in the ninth inning.  Ryan Madson allowed a single with two outs.  Then Geovany Soto, who hit the game tying homer against Madson on Thursday, hit a fly ball into no-man’s land.  Somehow, Utley got to the ball and the game was over.  Whew!

By the way, today was the annual Father’s Day celebration and catcher Brian Schneider brought his mom and dad.  Dad tossed out the first pitch.

The Phillies are off tomorrow, although they will all be at the Phillies Phestival which starts at 5pm Monday night.  Hope to see you there!

And here is the full Photo Album from the game today.  Enjoy!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Option John Mayberry Jr. Was This the Right Move?

With center fielder Shane Victorino coming off the disabled list, the Phillies had to make a move.  Their choice was to send John Mayberry Jr. back to Triple-A.

Mayberry is an excellent outfielder, who can also play first base.  His defensive skills are nearly comparable to Victorino’s and he was the only solid center field back-up option.  But Mayberry struggled at the plate, hitting only .231 with three homers and 12 RBI this year.

The other players the Phillies could have moved were Michael Martinez, Ben Francisco or Ross Gload.  They were not going to send down a pitcher, as manager Charlie Manuel seems to like having 12 pitchers on the roster.

Martinez seemed like a logical move, but a few issues have kept him in place.  First, he is a Rule-5 player and the Phillies will likely lose him if he is placed on waivers.  Second, with Chase Utley’s knee still a sticky situation, Martinez is now the only real back-up infielder behind Wilson Valdez.

On the other hand, Martinez is a far inferior defensive player in both the infield and outfield.  He has also been unimpressive at the plate, hitting only .184 with three RBI in 49 at-bats.

Francisco won the right field job out of spring training, but has since been in a downward spiral.  His defense is not up to par and his bat has gone to sleep since hitting .308 in the first 10 games of the season.  In May, Francisco hit only .167.

And Francisco still has a minor league option available.  The deterrent, however, seems to be his $1.175 million salary.

As for Gload, he is playing with a muscle tear in his right hip and it appears that he cannot run.  The last two times he reached base as a pinch-hitter, a pinch-runner was sent in for him.  Gload is a great pinch-hitter, but can the Phillies really afford to carry a player on the roster who cannot run or play the field?

The only fix for Gload’s hip is surgery, which would end his season.  He has no options, but the Phillies could have placed him on the DL to buy time.

So with all of this, plus a lack of production at the plate, Mayberry finds himself back in Triple-A.  In the long-run, it may be the best move for him as he will get more at-bats.  However, if Raul Ibanez begins to cool off, the Phillies may question this decision later.

In my opinion, I believe Martinez should have been the one to go.  Aside from being a Rule-5 player, he had the least amount of upside.

Then again, with more playing time, maybe Mayberry will return later with a renewed energy and more life in his bat.

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Homers + Halladay = Win

A few of the Phillies bats had a small, yet short-lived, resurrection on Friday night against the Texas Rangers.  Both Ben Francisco and Raul Ibanez went deep to score all three of the Phillies runs in the 3-2 win.

Both players have been struggling, especially Francisco.  Perhaps the call-up of Domonic Brown lit a fire under the two outfielders. Francisco won the right field spot out of spring training, but he may be on the verge of losing it now with his recent slump, the Brown call-up and better defense from John Mayberry Jr.

 While the future of the outfield is up in the air, the starting rotation remains steady.  Led by Roy Halladay, the Phillies put together a win while totaling only four hits in the game, two of which were home runs.

Both teams had issues with home plate umpire, Andy Fletcher, who had a moving strike zone that no one could nail down.  But Halladay stayed on his game, despite the inconsistencies.  He went eight innings, allowing just two runs on six hits and a walk.  Halladay also struck out seven.

The closer role for the Phillies has been another question mark this year with both Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras going on the DL.  But Ryan Madson, who had trouble with this role in the past, has left little doubt about who the Phillies closer should be.

Madson has been practically unhittable.  He has allowed only one run the entire season so far and last night, he earned his eighth save in eight opportunities.  So now it is Madson who is lights-out, not Lidge.

Saturday night Cliff Lee will face the reigning AL Champs and his former team, the Rangers.  Game time is 7:10pm.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

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

 

It’s Official: A Phillies Losing Streak

Some said that with this pitching staff, it would never happen.  And yet, here it is…a losing streak of three games.  Those who called it impossible must have severely overestimated the Phillies offense.

Because this offense has been horrific.  Pathetic, anemic and just plain awful are a few other descriptive terms you may choose.  On Monday night, the Phillies faced a pitcher with an ERA over 7.0 and they still only managed one lousy run.  They lost to the Cardinals 3-1.

 

There were a total of four Phillies hits in the game and one of those came from the pitcher, Cliff Lee.  Yes, Lee out hit everyone, except Jimmy Rollins and Ben Francisco who had the other three hits.

On the mound, Lee was a bit off and high in the strike zone.  He walked a career-high six batters, although at least two of those were on badly missed calls from the umpire.  Still, through 6.1 innings, Lee allowed three runs and kept the team in the game.  The problem was, no one else looked like they wanted to be in the game.

The hitters were impatient at the plate with a home plate ump who was obviously squeezing the pitchers.  All three walks issued by the Cardinals were to Ryan Howard.  With the way the strike zone was, they should have had at least three or four more free passes.

Personally, I think the starting pitchers need to get together and start screaming at the offense.  Chase Utley missing is not an excuse.  They have hit without him before and are capable of doing it again.  One man does not make a team.

Roy Oswalt will pitch tonight, despite his back issues, which makes me nervous.  Because if the Phillies continue to fail to score runs, Oswalt will have no room for error.  They could lose their fourth straight game and second straight series.  Game time is 8:15pm.

 

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

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

 

Will Injuries Derail The Phillies Season?

As of May 13, 2011, the Phillies are 25-13 and two games ahead of the Florida Marlins for first place in the NL East.  However, Phillies players are dropping like flies.  Can they maintain this pace in spite of all the injuries?

So far the Phillies have lost their starting short stop, both catchers, two starting pitchers, a bunch of relief pitchers and more.  Starter Joe Blanton came off the DL but looks like he needs to go back as he is still in pain and losing speed on his pitches.  Starter Roy Oswalt is coming back this week, but also looks like he is not 100% after a rehab start on Thursday.

Then in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Braves, centerfielder Shane Victorino left the game early with a hamstring pull.  It ended his 15-game hitting streak.

The Phillies anemic offense managed only three hits in the game, a trend which has continued throughout the season so far.  The pitching has helped the Phillies win games, but the loses due to a lack of hitting are starting to pile up.

At the same time, the pitcher’s are now coming up lame.  If the injuries continue and the Phillies wind up with both weak pitching and weak hitting at the same time, this spells trouble.

Here is a look at the injuries so far this year:

 

If Victorino winds up on the DL, the Phillies may have been able to fill the roster spot by calling Domonic Brown back up since he has recovered from hand surgery.  However, earlier in the week, Brown sprained the thumb on the same hand he had surgery on and is unavailable to play right now.

Currently in right field, Ben Francisco has been terrible in the month of May.  He is hitting just .071 since May 1.  Ryan Howard is hitting .217 in May.  Placido Polanco’s May numbers are down as well, hitting .234.  Brian Schneider’s bat was starting to heat up when he got hurt and was sent to the DL.  Carlos Ruiz is back, but rusty, and he is still looking for his first hit this month.

The bench players have filled in admirably where they are able to.  But if this trend continues where the offense slumps and the pitching can no longer bail them out, the Phillies could lose their grasp on first place quickly.

The Phillies season is at a crossroads now.  Either they will be able to continue to battle through the injuries or they will not.

But this is an issue they have dealt with for many years running now.  This Phillies team knows how to carry on when star players hit the skids.  Hopefully, knowing that they have overcome injuries in the past will be enough to propel them into the future as a winning team.

Cliff Lee Is Not Feeling The Love From The Phillies Bats

While Phillies fans have certainly shown their support of Cliff Lee since his return, his teammates are a bit lacking in that department.  In Lee’s last three starts, the Phils have scored a grand total of ONE run for him.

Last night, the huge “zero” on the board amounted to a very odd outcome.  Lee struck out a career-high 16 batters in the 5-0 loss to the Braves.  This tied Steve Carlton for the most strikeouts over nine innings by a lefty in Phillies history.

 

The third inning was not great for Lee, as he allowed three runs.  But aside from that inning, Lee was lights out, keeping pace with Derek Lowe who had a no-hitter going into the seventh.

But if you allow just three runs over seven innings, you are supposed to get a win, right?  Sadly, that did not happen.  Instead, the Phillies offense continues to be a dark cloud over Lee’s head.

The most frustrating offense came in the seventh after Shane Victorino broke up the no-hitter with a single to left.  Placido Polanco knocked a ground rule double, which as the ball hopped over the fence in center, actually prevented Victorino from scoring.

With two men in scoring position and no outs, the Phillies bats failed again.  Lowe left the game with an injury and Eric O’Flaherty replaced him. 

Facing O’Flaherty should have been a relief after Lowe had mowed the Phils down in six straight innings.  Instead, the next three batters, Ryan Howard, Ben Francisco and Raul Ibanez, all struck out swinging.  Not one of them could even make contact.

And that continues to be the Achilles heel of this team.  These severe hot and cold streaks at the plate are going to catch up to the Phillies eventually.  The team’s 21 wins behind a stellar pitching staff is covering the multitude of offensive sins right now.  But that cannot last for long.

The Phillies bats will need to get serious very, very soon.

Injury Update

Roy Oswalt came back from his tour of duty in the Mississippi tornado sector, but apparently, his lower back did not come with him.  He is now on the DL, retroactive for 10 days, which means he could return on Friday.  Oswalt has a history of back issues, so this is potentially very bad news.  Stay tuned…

Catcher Carlos Ruiz is also still on the shelf with a strained lower back and he remains day to day.  The Phils may place him on the DL, but if they do, it will have to be sometime today so they can backdate it.

 

***Important Blog FYI:  The entire MLBlogs community is going to be switched to a WordPress format beginning on Friday, May 6.  The transition may last through Monday night, May 9.  All MLBlogs writers will be unable to post and you will be unable to access any MLBlogs during this transition.  So do not panic if this and other blogs suddenly disappear during that weekend…we will be back :O)***

Go Phillies!

 

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

 

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