Results tagged ‘ Ben Francisco ’

Phillies Season Over Too Soon

The Phillies lost Game 6 of the NLCS to the Giants last night, prematurely ending their season.  The Giants will go on to face the Texas Rangers in the World Series while the Phils sit at home and watch.  Having made it to the World Series two straight years, this loss was tough to take.

The game ended, perhaps fittingly, on a Ryan Howard strike out with 2 men on base.  Howard struck out 12 times in 22 at-bats and had zero RBI the entire series.  This performance was a microcosm of entire Phillies playoff run where the big producers did very little.  Chase Utley hit .182 with only 1 RBI; Shane Victorino batted .208 with only 2 RBI; Carlos Ruiz hit .167 with only 1 RBI…you get the picture.

In last night’s game, the Phils had plenty of chances to turn things around and force a Game 7; they simply did not do it.  Roy Oswalt pitched a great game while Jonathan Sanchez did not.

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The Phillies took advantage of Sanchez early in the 1st inning; after a walk and a wild pitch, Utley doubled, Howard singled and Jayson Werth hit a sac fly.  Two runs scored and it looked like the Phils were in control.
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It started out similar in the bottom of the 3rd inning too; Sanchez walked  Placido Polanco and then hit Utley in the upper back.  As Utley ran to first, the ball bounced to him; he caught it and underhanded it to Sanchez who then started spewing cuss words at Utley.  If you read his lips, Utley said, “What?  What’s bulls*it?” And then the benches cleared…

Here are some photos I took and I have marked where a few interesting things are going on in the group.  You can see Carlos Ruiz getting pretty angry; Utley running in while Polanco tries to restrain a Giants player; Pat Burrell right in the middle of the argument having words with his old friends; JC Romero trying to hold back Sanchez:

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Utley and Sanchez have a history; Sanchez threw at his head on 7/30/09, to which Utley said nothing. Later, Utley called time out during his at-bat and Sanchez got mad about when he called it.  Utley then took him deep for a homer to right.  Apparently, Sanchez has issues with Utley.

Anyway, after the near-brawl on the field, Sanchez was pulled; the Phillies had two free base runners with NO outs and still failed to score.  That may have been the moment that changed the entire season for the Phillies.  Because in the top of the inning, everything had gone wrong for the Phils defensively.  Getting a run after that may have made the difference.

The 3rd started with a hit by the pitcher Sanchez which Utley should have fielded and did not.  A single and a sac bunt were followed by this missed fly ball to Victorino:

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On the very same play, Victorino threw home and Ruiz made the tag to save a run:

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The Phils could have escaped with just the one run scored but Polanco got a ground ball and was charged with a throwing error as Howard did not make the catch at first.  Frankly, it looked like a ball he should have caught.  Another run scored on the error to tie the game 2-2.

It was a virtual stalemate after that for a while.  The Phillies had chances to score, like in the 5th when Howard doubled but the 3rd base coach held Jimmy Rollins at third.  With two outs and little offense working, he should have been sent home.

In the 6th, Raul Ibanez doubled and Ruiz moved him to third with a bunt.  But pinch hitter Ben Francisco went down on strikes instead of hitting a much needed sac fly.  No scoring…again.  In all, the Phillies left 11 men on base and went 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position.  It was a lackluster effort, just like most of this series was for the Phillies.

Werth did make a heroic catch in foul territory, which was one of the few highlights:

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But in the 8th, forced to pitch his 2nd inning of the night, Ryan Madson gave up a solo homer to Juan Uribe which broke the tie.  The Phillies could not manage a rally, down by only one run and with many base runners.  They lost 3-2 and sent the Giants to the World Series.

I would like to congratulate the Giants and their fans for the victory.  They are a great team who fought hard and earned it.  The Phillies did not play like the team we all know and that is the most disappointing part.  But to have made it this far is still an accomplishment as 26 other teams did not.

In the coming days, I will be analyzing the aftermath and looking ahead to what next season might bring.  For today, I will quietly mourn the end of the 2010 Phillies season and try to look on the bright side later.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.  It includes game shots, pre-game, Darren Daulton tossing the 1st pitch, Kane Kalas singing God Bless America and more…

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Phillies One Game Away From Elimination

The Phillies seem determined to lose this NLCS series; they did everything they could think of to hand it over the Giants tonight to go down 3 games to 1.  Lose tomorrow and they will go home.  There are many ways to describe the Phillies effort this series, such as pathetic, disgusting or downright ugly.  It appears they already have their bags packed.

Not to take anything away from the Giants who are a great team with an amazing pitching staff.  But the effort they have gotten from Phillies so far in no way properly emulates the talent on this team.  The offense has been minimal to non-existent and the pitching has varied from great (Roy Oswalt, Game 2) to unexpectedly lackluster (Roy Halladay, Game 1) to horrible (Joe Blanton plus Chad Durbin, Game 4).

Tonight, Blanton was not good.  He allowed 3 runs on 5 hits and a walk in only 4 2/3 innings.  All 3 runs were scored with two outs in the inning and one of those came after two wild pitches in the first inning.  Worse than that, after the offense squeezed out 4 tough runs in the 5th for him, Blanton could not manage a shut-down inning and gave a run right back.

The 4 runs they managed came after a string of singles and a double by Placido Polanco.  A hit batter loaded the bases but Jimmy Rollins swung at ball 4 to end the inning instead of adding on runs.  The addition of Ben Francisco in place of Raul Ibanez was an improvement as Francisco actually hit the ball a few times.  But in the end, not much else went right for the Phillies.


P8248770 Durbin platter.jpgTrying to hand the game over on a silver platter, Chad Durbin and Carlos Ruiz combined to take a 4-3 Phillies lead in the 6th inning and turn it into a 4-5 deficit.  Durbin led the inning off by walking Pat Burrell.  Then, apparently leaving his brain back in Philadelphia, Ruiz called for inside fastballs to Cody Ross who has gobbled those same pitches up this series to the tune of 3 homers and 4 RBI.  Well, he did it again with a double and eventually scored along with Burrell.

I hate to criticize Ruiz, who has been fabulous all year, but this was the 5th time he made the same mistake to Ross this series.  FIVE times!  WHEN will it end?  And that was not the only mistake; Ruiz called for a high fastball to Pablo Sandoval that same inning, which led to a 2-RBI double.  I was screaming at the TV, “Keep the ball down!” because I knew he wanted a high fastball.  If I know this, WHY doesn’t Ruiz??  Sandoval took a ridiculous swing at a low curve ball earlier in the at-bat and missed badly.  Plus, if you have EVER seen Sandoval hit, you know he likes them high.  Hello???  Am I some sort of baseball genius or was this just a bonehead move by the pitcher and catcher?  Hint: Bonehead move!!

I do not think “frustration” begins to cover the range of emotions I am experiencing right now, along with thousands of other Phillies fans.  As just another example of this, why in that same 5th inning we discussed earlier did the 3rd base coach send Ruiz home from 2nd on a ball hit to very shallow center? 
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He was nailed at the plate by a mile.  And why on that same play is Shane Victorino, who hit the ball, still standing on first base instead of advancing to 2nd during the play at home?  Did he have a brain freeze?  Whatever the issue, it was about to induce a brain aneurism as my head felt like it might explode.

In the 8th inning, doubles from Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth tied the game up.  But is it just me, or did this not just seem to delay the inevitable?  So going into the 9th inning and running out of pitchers that manager Charlie Manuel felt he could trust, he brought in starter Roy Oswalt on TWO days rest.  I kid you not.  He still had Kyle Kendrick, Brad Lidge and JC Romero in the pen, but went with Oswalt.

That turned out to be a huge disaster.  Oswalt gave up two singles and a sac fly that scored the winning run for the Giants.  Not Oswalt’s fault by any means; what did they expect from him on two days rest and off his usual routine?

Game 5 tomorrow – Roy Halladay will attempt to keep the series alive.  Is it possible for the Phillies to win the next 3 games?  Anything is possible I suppose.

 

Durbin photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Oswalt Falters But Phillies Pull Off The Comeback Win

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The Phillies started the postseason with 2 pitchers named Roy in the first 2 games.  In each of those games, the 2 Roy’s were polar opposites in terms of performance and results.  Roy Halladay pitched a no-hitter in his first ever playoff game.  Roy Oswalt on the other hand, with prior playoff experience, did not pitch well at all.  But all is well that ends well as the Phillies went on to win anyway. 

At the start of the game, Oswalt looked pretty bad.  He threw balls right down the middle of the plate and the Reds did not miss them.  Oswalt surrendered 3 earned runs and 1 unearned on 5 hits and a walk.  Chase Utley made 2 throwing errors in the 2nd inning, which is very odd for Utley, and that cost Oswalt the unearned run.

Between the errors, ineffective pitching and lack of hitting, things looked grim for the Phillies early on.  They were not able to scratch out any runs until the bottom of the 5th when 2 Reds errors plus an Utley single scored 2 runs.  Utley redeemed himself and, making him feel even better, the Reds equaled his screw-ups.  Even better, one of the errors was from ex-Phillie Scott Rolen, which the fans enjoyed a lot.  Rolen has been booed mercilessly these past two games.  No love lost between him and Philadelphia…

Things got stranger in the 6th; Carlos Ruiz was hit in the knee with a pitch by another ex-Phillie, Arthur Rhodes.  Ruiz seemed to be fine and Rhodes was lifted from the game.  Pitcher Logan Ondrusek replaced Rhodes and only 3 pitches later, he nailed pinch-hitter Ben Francisco in the head to load the bases.  Luckily for Francisco, he moved his head quick enough that the ball hit the brim of the helmet.  So although it looked very scary, he was okay.  Shane Victorino walked next to score a run.

So while all this was pretty entertaining, the Phillies were still down 4-3 going into the 7th.  Utley was hit by a pitch for the 3rd erroneous toss by a Reds pitcher.  Things began to go seriously downhill for the Reds when, with 1 out, they brought in their flame throwing rookie, Aroldis Chapman.  With 100+ mph balls flying, it was the Reds fielders who got rattled instead of the Phillies batters…

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Jay Bruce
missed a fairly easy fly ball off the bat of Jimmy Rollins and then Brandon Phillips dropped the relay throw, allowing 2 runs to score.  Ruiz hit into a fielder’s choice a little later, but it scored another run.  Also in this inning, Mike Sweeney made his postseason debut as a pinch hitter and singled to left.  Having waited 16 years to reach the playoffs, that hit had to feel amazing for Sweeney.  By the way, join us at my “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney” Facebook page for more Sweeney fun :O)

So the Reds had 4 errors through 7 innings in this game, which the Phillies then led by a score of 6-4.  Ryan Madson erased the Reds in the top of the 8th.  In the bottom half, Utley singled and stole a base, still determined to erase the errors from everyone’s minds.  Jayson Werth knocked him in to add on an insurance run for a 7-4 lead.

That set up the 9th for Brad Lidge.  Despite walking the first batter he faced and making the fans grumble, Lidge buckled down and got the next 3 batter out to put the Phillies up 2 games to none in the NLDS.  The Phillies are one win away from advancing!  Cole Hamels will pitch in Cincinnati on Sunday at 7:00pm.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

NLDS Roster Announced


6a00e5513d181b8834013487fe1fcf970c-350wi.pngThe Phillies announced today who will be on the 25-man roster for the NLDS and there are really no surprises.  Those notable players who did not make it include Kyle Kendrick, Danys Baez and David Herndon.  Here is the breakdown:

Pitchers

Roy Halladay

Roy Oswalt

Cole Hamels

Joe Blanton

Brad Lidge

Ryan Madson

Jose Contreras

 J.C. Romero

Chad Durbin

Antonio Bastardo

 

Catchers

Carlos Ruiz

Brian Schneider

 

Infielders                            Outfielders

Ryan Howard

Jayson Werth

Chase Utley

Shane Victorino

Jimmy Rollins

Raul Ibanez

Placido Polanco

Ben Francisco

Wilson Valdez

Ross Gload

Mike Sweeney

Domonic Brown

Greg Dobbs

 

 

Going with 10 pitchers instead of 11 allows the Phillies to add more fire power to the bench.  They expect the 3 starters to go deep into games so extra long men in the pen will likely not be necessary.  Blanton will fill the role if needed.

As for Ruiz and Romero, manager Charlie Manuel says both players are fine and ready to play after suffering minor injuries on Sunday.

If you are going to the game tomorrow, here is the information about pre-game festivities and other highlights:

2:00 p.m. – Phillies Postseason Party begins on Citizens Bank Way. Features music by Mr. Greengenes; Highlights include an inflatable obstacle course for children, face painters, an extreme rock wall climb and a Velcro race.

2:35 p.m.
Ashburn Alley opens.

3:05 p.m.
All gates open. Rally towels for all fans, compliments of StubHub.

3:30 p.m. – Phillies Postseason Rally on Citizens Bank Way! Special guests include former Phillies Scott Eyre and Greg “The Bull” Luzinski, Comcast SportsNet analyst Ricky Bottalico, the Phillie Phanatic and Phillies Ballgirls. Music provided by Mr. Greengenes; Scott Palmer, Phillies Director of Public Affairs, will emcee.

4:40 p.m. – On-field pre-game ceremony begins.

4:44 p.m. – Introduction of Cincinnati Reds.

4:48 p.m. – Introduction of Philadelphia Phillies.

4:54 p.m.  - National Anthem: Sung by country singer Catherine Raney, niece of Tim McGraw, who will be representing the Tug McGraw Foundation.

4:56 p.m.  - Color Guard introduced.

4:58 p.m. – Ceremonial First Pitch: Phillies alumnus Scott Eyre.

5:07 p.m.  - Play ball! Phillies vs. Reds game begins.

5th Inning – “Lady PhaPha” makes her postseason debut.

7th Inning – God Bless America: Sung by national recording artist Lauren Hart, a Philadelphia native whose songs have been heard on television series and soap operas.

See you there!

Phillies End Season With Best Record In Baseball

The Phillies ended the 2010 regular season today with the best record in baseball for the first time in franchise history.  Their 97-65 record is even more impressive when all of the injuries they suffered this year are added to the equation.  Unfortunately, the injuries do not appear to be behind them yet.

In the 8-7 loss to the Braves today, catcher Carlos Ruiz was plunked on the elbow by a Tim Hudson pitch.  He appeared to be in a great deal of pain and eventually, he left the game.  There has been no word yet about how serious it may be.

Another potential huge loss heading into the playoffs may be JC Romero.  After throwing a pitch in the 6th inning, Romero signed to the coaches that he was hurt.  Reports are that he is suffering from left lower back soreness.  If he cannot play, it looks like lefty Antonio Bastardo will be a lock for the postseason roster.  Having only one lefty in the pen may not be a great idea, but the Phils may have no choice.

The only real highlights early in today’s game were 2-run homers by both John Mayberry Jr. and Jayson Werth.  Also, Cole Hamels pitched very well for 2 innings in his postseason warm-up.  Everyone else had issues getting desperate Braves hitters out.  Even Roy Oswalt gave up a run in one inning of work.  Joe Blanton allowed 2 runs and the big damage was done by Danys Baez.  Baez allowed 4 runs in only 2/3 of an inning, likely cementing his new roll as a cheerleader instead of a spot on the postseason roster.


Baez cheerleader.jpgBut as the Phillies are known to do late in games, the offense started cooking again in the 8th inning.  With 2 outs, Jimmy Rollins singled and Mike Sweeney reached base on a Braves error.  Wilson Valdez hit an RBI single and Ben Francisco doubled in 2 more runs.  The game got a lot closer, with the Phillies trailing by a score of 8-7.  But in the 9th, they were unable to score and the Braves went on to win.

While the Braves won, their playoff hopes are still in the hands of the Padres, who are playing the Giants right now.  They will know more in a few hours.

In the meantime, congratulations to the Phillies, officially the BEST team in baseball right now!

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Bench Players’ Home Run Barrage

In game 3 of this Phillies – Nationals series, the playoff-bound Phils looked very relaxed.  Joe Blanton pitched 7 fairly easy innings allowing only 3 hits and one unearned run.  Blanton probably will not get much playing time in the NLDS as the rotation is set up to include only Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.  So this was a good outing for Blanton to end the regular season with; his final record is 9-6 with a 4.74 ERA.


P4189553A.jpgA barrage of home runs from the Phillies bench players helped Blanton out tonight.  Taking full advantage of extra playing time, Ben Francisco smashed two home runs and went 3 for 4 at the plate with 3 RBI.  John Mayberry Jr. also had a big night with a 3-run homer and a single.  Mayberry made vast improvements in AAA this year and is now hitting both right and left handed pitching well.

Also joining the home run party was Mike Sweeney; he whacked a long ball to left center in the 2nd.  He and Francisco went back to back that inning.  And you know what a Sweeney home run means…HUGS for everyone!  If you do not know what I mean, check out my “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney” Facebook page. 
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I love watching this guy play; he has brought an exuberance to this team that is rarely seen.  It will be a joy to see him in the playoffs, finally, after 16 years in the majors.

Catcher Paul Hoover also got some playing time, but went 0 for 4 at the plate.  Regulars like Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Wilson Valdez (a regular due to many injuries) all went hitless.  But Greg Dobbs bounced back after a bad game yesterday and had 2 hits.  The best pinch hitter in the National League in 2008, Dobbs has suffered a very bad season this year.  Maybe this extra playing time will snap him out of the funk.

The Phillies went on to win the game by a score of 7-1, giving them a record of 95-64, which will either be the best record in baseball or very close to tied for the best after all the games are done tonight.  The Phils are off tomorrow and will return on Friday.  The remaining 3 games will be in Atlanta where the Braves are still battling for the Wild Card spot.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

The Back-Up Plan


rman4000l.jpgWith both the division and home field advantage wrapped up, the plan for the Phillies back-up players this week is simple: Make the post-season roster.  With the September call-ups plus the usual bench players, the Phillies have a lot of spare parts.  A few of those will make the roster; the rest will sit and watch.  After tonight against the Nationals, there are 4 games remaining to decide who will fill the roles.

A few position players who made a good case in tonight’s game were Domonic Brown in right field and Ben Francisco in center.  Francisco went 2 for 4 and should be a lock for the roster.  Brown had 1 hit, a stolen base and a walk; he will likely be competing with Greg Dobbs for a roster spot.  Dobbs did not help his case with an error at third base tonight, no hits and he also dribbled a ball in front of home plate for an easy force out with the bases loaded and only one out.

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Decisions in the bullpen will be a bit more complicated.  After a fairly awful year, Danys Baez pitched mostly okay in one inning tonight, although he did walk a batter.  David Herndon looked better with two easy outs in the 7th.  The two lefties JC Romero and Antonio Bastardo each pitched one scoreless inning.  Bastardo is going to have an electric arm if he learns to control it; but the problem with him and all the other bullpen pieces we saw tonight is a lack of consistency.

But under pressure against the Nats knowing he was competing for a roster spot, Bastardo turned up the heat and struck out the side.  If a decision had to be made tonight, I would take Bastardo over Baez, keeping the two lefties.

Roy Oswalt started the game and pitched 5 innings allowing only an unearned run after the Dobbs error.  Sadly, he did not get a win as he left the game with a 1-1 tie score after a Raul Ibanez home run.  So Oswalt, if he does not pitch again in the regular season, will end with a 13-13 record.  12 of those 13 loses came when he was with the Astros.

Jimmy Rollins finally started a game tonight for the first time since September 8th.  He moved well in the field and went 1 for 3 at the plate.  Rollins played 5 innings total and should see more playing time as the week goes on in order to prepare him for the playoffs.  The hamstring injury did not appear to be an issue tonight…fingers crossed!

While the Phillies had a few hits in the game, it was still a 1-1 tie in the 9th.  Jose Contreras pitched the final inning for the Phils and threw only 3 pitches.  Adam Dunn mashed a long home run off Contreras, giving the Nats a 2-1 walk-off win.  While the loss makes little difference at this point, the performance by Contreras was not a good thing.  However, Contreras has been fairly reliable most of the year.

The battle of the back-ups will continue tomorrow in DC; game time is 7:05pm.

 

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 Snack On Filet O’ Fish

The Phillies went to Florida today and filleted the Fish with 11 runs scored.  The dinner bell rang early as Jayson Werth smacked a solo homer in the 2nd inning to start the feast.  The offense continued to rack up runs in every inning from the 2nd to the 7th.

Utley filet o fish.jpgFour home runs tonight were a welcome sight; Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Greg Dobbs all followed in Werth’s footsteps after the first bomb in the 2nd.  Utley looked very hungry with his homer plus 2 walks.  And Ruiz snacked on the Marlins with 3 hits and 4 RBI.  Even starting pitcher, Joe Blanton, helped out with a hit and a run scored.

Blanton allowed just one run through 6 innings and had a fairly easy time knocking down Marlins batters.  With 8 strike outs recorded, the only real disappointment was that Blanton could not go 7 innings.  Blanton has struggled all year to get past 6 innings; he has pitched 7 innings or more only 8 times in 25 starts.

But with an 11-1 lead in the 7th, there was no need to push Blanton further.  The bullpen was fully rested after a Roy Oswalt complete game shut-out yesterday.  Jose Contreras pitched the 7th and did well.  In his last 2 outings, he allowed 2 runs each game and looked tired.  A clean outing tonight was probably a nice confidence boost for him.

On the other hand, David Herndon was brought in to get some work in the 8th and got beat up by the angry Fish.  He gave up 3 runs, including a 2-run homer.  But after he finally got out of the inning, the Phillies still led by a score of 11-4.

The Phillies were able to rest some of their regulars near the end of the game, giving bench players like Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. a chance to play.  Wilson Valdez is still filling in for Jimmy Rollins who had an MRI on his hamstring today.  The MRI showed a slight strain, but no tear.  So Rollins should be back in action in a few days.  Although, Valdez has been great in his absence; Valdez collected 2 hits tonight.

With the Phillies win plus a Braves win over the Nationals tonight, the Phils remain 1 game in first place.  They have 2 more games with the Fish…game time tomorrow is 7:10pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.

 

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 Win Despite Sloppy Seconds

The Phillies had a single make-up game against the Rockies today in Colorado before heading home.  The first 6 innings of the game were a disaster with careless plays and missed scoring opportunities.  Until the 7th inning, you had to think there was no way the Phils were going to win this game.  But this is baseball…never say never.

Here is a quick recap of the sloppy seconds that dominated the game through 6 innings:

- The 2nd place Phillies made their 2nd trip this year to Colorado today.

P8249209R.jpg- In the 2nd inning, a sloppy error by the 2nd baseman, Chase Utley, led to 2 unearned runs and 2 earned runs.

- The 2nd run of the game for the Phillies was scored on a sloppy slide from pitcher Joe Blanton.

- After 1 run scored in the 5th inning, Jimmy Rollins had the bases loaded with 1 out.  He grounded into a sloppy and hugely disappointing double play to end the inning without scoring a 2nd run.

- Catcher Brian Schneider had a runner easily picked off at 2nd base in the 6th inning but Rollins dropped the ball.

The 6th inning got worse as the first base umpire called a runner safe that was out.  Then a ball hit up the middle for what should have been an easy double play was deflected off the glove of pitcher Antonio Bastardo.  Instead of getting out of the inning, another run scored.

Earlier in the 6th, Mike Sweeney was hit in the hand while checking his swing and let out a painful scream.  The bases were loaded so a run scored, but Sweeney looked hurt.  Everyone is hoping he will be alright.  Feel free to join my Facebook group, I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney, and show your support :O)

But down 7-3 going into the 7th, someone flipped a light switch on.  The Phillies managed to climb back into the game with a double by Placido Polanco, an Utley single and a 2-run homer from Ryan Howard.  Not to be outdone, Jayson Werth followed with a solo homer to tie the game at 7-7.  A single by Ben Francisco then gave the Phillies the 8-7 lead.

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But the Phillies were not done yet in the 7th.  With 2 outs and the bases loaded, Utley made up for his 2nd inning error with a GRAND SLAM!  Wow.  Phillies led at that point, 12-7 after scoring 9 runs in the 7th.

While a 5-run lead is nice, the Rockies were not done yet either…they scored 3 runs off Chad Durbin in the bottom of the 7th.  So entering the 9th with a score of 12-10, Brad Lidge came in for the save attempt.  And here comes the “sloppy” again…the first batter hit an easy ground ball to first but Howard dropped it!  That dropped ball turned into an unearned run, cutting the lead to one run.

Lidge gave up a single next and one out later, walked Todd Helton.  Phillies fans started getting nauseous.  But Lidge worked out of the mess; he struck out Clint Barmes and the next batter hit a ball to Polanco at third.  Polly made a tough play and stepped on third for the force out to end the game.  And……exhale…..whew!  This was a huge win for the Phils!

Since the bullpen was pretty much used up tonight, I hope the Phillies are prepared to bring up a few pitchers from the minors before tomorrow’s game against the Brewers.  The only September call-up so far has been catcher Paul Hoover.  Game time tomorrow is 7:05pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.

#1 Phillies Fan

Autotrader.com is running a contest to find the #1 Phillies Fan.  I am constantly teased about being an obsessive Phillies fan and all my friends complain they never see me during baseball season.  So, I decided to enter the contest.  If you agree that I am a huge Phan, please feel free to VOTE for me :O)  Your support is appreciated!

Nyjer Morgan: Poster Child For Anger Management

Nyjer Morgan of the Washington Nationals has issues.  On August 21st, Morgan was accused of purposely throwing a ball at a fan in Philadelphia after being heckled.  The fan was hit in the head and did not see the throw coming.  MLB suspended Morgan for 7 games, which he is currently appealing.

As if that were not bad enough, on Wednesday night, Morgan charged the mound with his fist in the air after a pitch from the Marlins Chris Volstad sailed behind him.  Morgan swung and the benches cleared.  Worse than that, Morgan showboated after the brawl ended as he walked off the field, proud of his bad behavior.  Check out the video:

http://www.viddler.com/simple_on_site/7c70cdee

Morgan’s behavior this year has been reprehensible.  Even his own manager has benched him for prior bad behavior.  He does not deserve to wear a major league uniform; here’s hoping MLB takes appropriate action.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Offense Fails Again

JA Happ returned to Philadelphia today in a different uniform.  Pitching for the Astros against his former team for the first time, Happ showed Phillies brass why they should have kept him around.  Going pitch for pitch with Roy Halladay, Happ allowed only 2 runs in 6 1/3 innings.  Halladay went 7 with 3 runs given up.  He may have gone further, but Halladay was pulled for a pinch-hitter with runners on base in the 7th.



Thumbnail image for P8249196N Werth.jpgHaving Happ on the mound did not help the struggling Phillies offense emerge from their current funk.  Jayson Werth hit a solo homer in the 5th, but with runners in scoring position in the 6th, he grounded out.  Werth has hit only .159 with RISP all year; with 2 outs and RISP, the stat drops to .107.  By a wide margin, Werth is the worst situational hitter on the team.

The second run the Phillies scored was helped along by Halladay leading off the 6th with a base hit.  Placido Polanco later doubled to score him.  So of the 5 hits Happ allowed, one was from the opposing pitcher.  Base running errors have not helped the Phillies this week either.  Ben Francisco was picked off leaning too far off 3rd base during a potential rally in the 6th.  That was the 10th runner picked off this year.

Earlier in the series, Werth got picked off at second after peering into the Astros dugout; former teammate Brett Myers stuck his tongue out at him and in an attempt not to laugh out loud, Werth lowered his head and was thrown out.  A lack of concentration was bad enough, but playing around with the opposing team while on the base path?  Wow.  That is bad.

This entire Astros series has been a microcosm of Werth’s lack of focus.  Players getting thrown out on the base path, no discipline at the plate and a serious lack of urgency have now led to a huge series loss.  While the Braves have been losing as well, the Phillies have simply thrown away their opportunity to gain ground in the NL East race.

Disagreements with the umpires in every game of this series so far have added to the frustration.  Today, the home plate umpire called Shane Victorino back to the plate after being hit by a pitch; the ump claimed Victorino leaned into it.  Replay shows he leaded down and away.  But Victorino got on base anyway with a hit.

Despite the controversial umpiring, it has not been the officiating that lost these 3 games; it has been the Phillies invisible offense.  Today’s 3-2 loss was evidence enough.  The final game with the Astros is tomorrow afternoon at 1:05pm.

 

Photo 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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