Results tagged ‘ Braves ’

Bad Weekend Series Leaves Phillies in Limbo

Remember back on Friday night when the Phillies pounded the Mets to the tune of 13 runs?  Remember all those hits and homers?  Ah, memories…

Now back to reality…and reality has hit the Phillies hard this weekend as they dropped 2 games out of 3 to the Mets.  Saturday’s game was winnable, but Cole Hamels floundered again and the offense blew many opportunities.  Sunday’s game was an utter disaster that marked the Phillies 9th time being shut-out this year.

Pitcher Cliff Lee was, once again, killed by the long ball.  The 5 Mets’ runs came off 2 homers and both were hit with 2 outs in the inning.  With All-Star game starter Matt Harvey on the mound for the Mets, Lee did not stand a chance unless he controlled the long ball, which he did not.

The Phillies offense was just as awful; they managed only 3 hits off Harvey and piled up 12 strikeouts.  Domonic Brown got the Golden Sombrero with 4 K’s in the game.  Was it not just 2 days ago this team scored 13 runs?  After their performance on Sunday, you would never imagine this was the same group of guys.

Granted, Harvey is one of the best pitchers in the game right now.  But the 12 K’s tells you that the Phillies could not even manage to make contact with the ball.  Zero walks then equals zero patience at the plate as well.  It was just plain ugly.

And now the Phillies are once again in limbo as management decides whether or not they have any shot at all at making the playoffs.  Personally, I do not see it happening.  This team has lacked consistency all season long; they have too many injuries and no sense of urgency.  But since both the Braves and the Nationals went cold this weekend as well, the Phillies did not lose or gain any ground in the division.  And that will make the decision to buy or sell before the trade deadline even more difficult.

Then again, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. may already have made up his mind after this weekend’s performance.  And certainly no one can blame him if he goes into sell-mode.  This team has not given anyone any real reason to hope, especially after their 2 best pitchers bombed on back-to-back nights.

The Phillies are off today before starting a 3-game series with the Cardinals on Tuesday.  The Cards have the best record in the majors…and that is not good news for the Phillies.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Pettibone, Umpires Frustrate Braves in Loss to Phillies

The Atlanta Braves did not think it was very sunny in Philadelphia after losing to the Phillies by a score of 7-3.  Even in blinding sunshine and near 100 degree temperatures, it was a dark day for the Braves.

Rookie pitcher Jonathan Pettibone was outstanding against a heavy-hitting Braves line-up.  Freddie Freeman was so frustrated after striking out at one point that he smashed his bat into the ground, picked it up and then smashed it again.  And B.J. Upton was thrown out of the game after mouthing off to the umpire about calling him out on strikes in the 5th inning.

Pettibone went only 5.1 innings, likely due to the excessive heat.  It was obvious he was getting tired.  But he did manage to leave with only 1 run allowed.

Both the Phillies offense and defense were solid.  Domonic Brown had 2 hits, including his 23rd homer of the year.  Darren Ruf, starting for Ryan Howard who is now on the DL, had a hit, a walk and scored twice.  Carlos Ruiz added 2 hits as well.

The only defensive snafu was when Michael Young, who has been not great at third base lately, nearly ran over Jimmy Rollins going after a pop-up:

And for the most part, the Phillies bullpen held steady.  J.C. Ramirez allowed 2 runs in the 6th; those were his first runs allowed since being called up.  Aside from that, things were mostly quiet from the 6th inning on.

The Phillies took 2 of 3 from the Braves with this win today.  Still, with Howard’s future uncertain and a very young and inexperienced bullpen, this team is going to have to annihilate the Nationals this week to keep GM Ruben Amaro Jr. from breaking up the team.

Here is the Photo Album from today’s game, including shots of Roy Halladay actually throwing pitches before the game!  The Doc may not be done just yet…

Game time Monday night is 7:05pm.  John Lannan will pitch.

The Phillies Offense Has Sprung a Leake

In 2012, the Phillies faced Reds pitcher Mike Leake twice and destroyed him to the tune of 13 runs.  He had an overall ERA against the Phils of 17.55.  Ouch.  But last night, this team sprung Leake from his Phillies prison, allowing him to mow them down one hitter after another.

Ah, sweet freedom for Mr. Leake.  He must be quite relieved this morning.

On the exact opposite side, the Phillies probably got little sleep due to nightmares.  Some people have nightmares about standing naked in a crowd.  The Phillies are probably having nightmares about standing at home plate without a bat.  They may as well have been standing there without one if they were never going to use it.

And that pretty much describes this entire 6-game road trip which went down in flames after getting swept in 3-games by the Reds.  They scored only 10 runs in all 6 games and came away with just 2 wins, both against the Marlins.

Granted, it is very, very early in the season.  The Phillies have time to make up ground, however, these are very serious issues.  At some point, one has to question whether or not this team is capable of more.  But we will not really know until we see the whole team together as it was meant to be; that means when Carlos Ruiz returns and we also finally see what Delmon Young has to offer.  Ruiz cannot return due to suspension until April 28th.  And Young is still on the DL, although he has been participating in extended Spring Training games.

To make matters worse, Domonic Brown left the game early with a sore back; he will have an MRI today.  And John Lannan, who got pounded for 6 runs in 1.2 innings last night, complained of a sore knee after the game.  His status is unknown.

Do not be surprised if manager Charlie Manual decides to shake up the line-up tonight against the Cardinals.  And say a prayer that Cole Hamels can get his first win of the season; although, he may need a little offense to get that done.  *Sigh.*

Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

2013 Phillies: Déjà Vu or Déjà Voodoo?

Let us examine the latest Phillies performance last night in Cinncinatti:  The starting pitching was solid, the offense was mostly absent and the bullpen blew the game in the 8th inning, resulting in a loss.  Sound like a familiar scenario?  It should; that describes most of the 2012 season.  Ugh.

Is this Déjà vu or Déjà voodoo? Has someone or something cast a sleepy spell over this team for the second consecutive year?  It is like Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs in the bullpen passing the cursed apple around to the rest of the team.  If the drowsy Phils are waiting for Prince Charming to deliver true love’s kiss and wake them up, they may be waiting for quite a long time…

Because if Chase Utley’s 2 run bomb to tie the game up in the 8th inning wasn’t enough to light a fire under this team, I cannot imagine what would be enough.  Or how about Cliff Lee’s gutsy performance after a very weird 7th inning?  He wound up only allowing 2 runs in 7 innings, which is a pretty good day.

And then there was the amazing, stupendous, brain-warping, Superman catch that Ben Revere made earlier in the game.  Nearly everyone on the team starred in awe as Revere flew through the air backwards and nearly horizontal to snag this ball.  He even had the presence of mind to throw the ball in to double up the runner, even after smashing face first into the ground after the catch.

Still, this team could not rally late in the game.  They had only 5 hits total on the night.  Both Jeremy Horst and Mike Adams struggled in the 8th, allowing 2 more runs to the Reds who had also had difficulty finding hits early in the game.

Worse, the Reds came into this game on a 5-game losing streak.  The Phillies should have crushed them.  Instead, they went down in flames, losing by a score of 4-2.  Their offense has been on the Most Wanted list for 4 straight games now.  No one seems to know where it went.

Meanwhile, the Braves still only have 1 loss (to the Phils, oddly enough) and the Fightins’ are lurking near the bottom of the NL East in 4th place.  Ok, it is only April, I know…still, this team needs to WAKE UP!

Perhaps I am being a little rough on the team here.  But it is easier to be angry about a silly baseball game than have to think about what a sad day it was yesterday.  Although Monday was Jackie Robinson day, sadly, this was overshadowed by the tragedy in Boston earlier that day.  So while I am in the mood to rant, can I just say, what is with these freaking psychopaths bombing innocent people??  I am outraged, as are the rest of the sane to mostly-sane people of the world.

My heart goes out to all the people affected by this senseless act of evil.  I wish I had better words to convey my sympathies.  But all I can think is sad, sad, sad… :O(

Photo courtesy of ESPN.com

Rainy Halladay in Atlanta

After Roy Halladay began his first outing of the year by giving up 3 runs in the first inning, it was apparent that things were not headed in a good direction.  Pitching in the sloppy, cold rain did not help either, but it was the perfect metaphor for what was about to unfold for the Phillies.  It was indeed a sad rainy and dreary day.

Halladay did not even make it past the 4th inning.  In 3 1/3, he put the Phils in a 5-0 hole.  And then Raul Valdes added 2 more for the Braves in that 4th inning, to make matters worse.

But I refuse to spew bad things about the Doc.  I will give him 3 strikes, as is appropriate, before I count him out.  While this should not happen, 3 bad starts in a row would signal the beginning of the end.

However, let’s not even go there.  On the bright side, Halladay did strike out 9 batters in just 3 1/3 innings.  And he totally made the day for Braves rookie, Evan Gattis, who pounded a home run off Doc for his very first major league at-bat.  There is night he won’t forget.  Halladay is clearly a generous man.

Was that stretching for a bit of good news?  Probably.  But it is preferable to hanging my head and crying into my oatmeal over 1 starting pitching performance.

On the other hand, this is going to be a very long 5 days…

The Phillies have one last hope to grab a game from the Braves tonight…Cliff Lee takes the mound at 7:10pm.

 

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Hamels Hammered on Opening Day

The Phillies got crushed by the Braves on Monday night in a 5-7 Opening Day loss.  But let us begin with a bit of good news…Chase Utley was amazing.  Utley collected 3 RBI on a homer, single and a triple, coming just a double short of hitting for the cycle.  And that concludes the ‘good news’ portion of the program…

In the bad news category, Cole Hamels faltered once again in his first start of the season.  Hamels has now lost his first start of the season in 5 of his last 7 attempts.  This year was different as he finally got to start on Opening Day, so the expectations were high.  Allowing 5 runs in 5 innings, including 3 home runs, was not exactly what everyone had hoped for.

I blame the facial hair.  Hamels had a full beard and mustache through most of Spring Training.  On Friday afternoon, the hair was still there.  But by Friday evening into Saturday, the beard disappeared.  Finally, by Monday at game time the fuzz was history.

I think all the furry drama threw his game off.  It was truly a hairy situation.

Facial hair aside, not much went right for the Phillies last night.  The offense, mostly Utley, kept trying to bail Hamels out, but the Braves just kept the runs coming.  And then Chad Durbin wound up allowing 2 more runs in relief without recording an out.

The main thing to focus on now is that this is just one game.  It was certainly a hugely disappointing game, but still a drop in the bucket.

The Phillies are off today; the next game with the Braves is Wednesday at 7:10pm.  This will be an interesting one as Roy Halladay makes his first start of the season.  Facing a potent Braves line-up will be a good test of whether Halladay is really ready to go or not.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

An Emotional Offseason

A recent Sports Illustrated article graded the Phillies offseason moves a “D.”  They summarized it by saying, “Though the trade for Revere gives the Phillies a cost-controlled centerfielder to grow on, they’ve taken steps backward with most of their other moves, and are more likely to repeat last year’s middling showing than contend in a division where the Nationals and Braves have upgraded in impressive fashion.

Ouch.

This assessment, however, may or may not be totally off-base.  I decided to rank some of these moves for myself using not grades, but my emotions about each event.  Roger Ebert once said, “Your intellect may be confused, but your emotions will never lie to you.”  Let’s see if he is correct:

Happy: The trade for centerfielder Ben Revere.  He is cheap, young and has room for improvement.  My instinct says he will be a pleasant surprise.

Nostalgic Joy: Re-signing RHP Chad Durbin.  Durbin is a solid human being and he had a great 2012 with the Braves.  Plus he helped the Phillies collect their 2008 World Series championship.

Cautiously Optimistic: Signing Michael Young to play third base.  Young seems like another solid human being with a true passion for the game.  The question is whether or not he can still play defense.  I feel that a guy with this much experience and motivation should be able to work it out.

Conflicted: Adding Chase Utley-hater and lefty John Lannan to the starting rotation.  Obviously with the departure of Vance Worley, the Phillies needed a starter.  Lannan is cheap, but how well he will perform and his attitude are, at least for me, big question marks.

Confused: Signing outfielder Delmon Young.  This guy is a problem child who is also still recovering from offseason ankle surgery.  His defense is awful and he has been, not without cause, labeled an anti-Semite with a bad temper.  I get the low-risk, high reward school of thought here.  What I do not get is why the Phillies would rather mess around with this guy than finally give Domonic Brown a full-time shot at one of the corner outfield spots.

Nervously Nauseous: I am just a wee bit sick to my tummy about the 2-year, $12 million deal the Phillies gave to RHP Mike Adams to be the 8th inning guy.  I like Adams if he is healthy.  However, he is recovering from thoracic outlet surgery.  This is the same surgery that Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals had and his career looks like it may be over.  That is a little scary.

Utter Disappointment: Carlos Ruiz’s 25-game suspension for using a banned substance.  He did not use steroids, which is a relief.  But still, getting caught with ADHD meds when he was forewarned about it after a previously positive test is very disappointing.  He knew he’d probably get caught again and did it anyway.  *Sigh.*

Sad: Losing Vance Worley in the Ben Revere trade.  I wish him luck in Minnesota!

Indifferent:  Everything else.  A lot of minor moves were made, mostly involving minor league deals and guys past their prime.  Unless someone makes a real impact in camp, I cannot imagine there will be much to say about these miscellaneous people.

And my final emotion of the day…

Elation!  Spring Training starts tomorrow!

 

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Welcome Back, Chad Durbin!

Please excuse the following outburst of unbridled enthusiasm for a move that many may view as not very exciting:  The Phillies have signed our old friend Chad Durbin!!!!  Whoo hoo!!!!  Durbin was a big part of the 2008 World Championship team; he spent the last 2 years with the Indians and the Braves.

Durbin adds much needed depth and maturity to the Phillies bullpen.  In his first stint with the Phillies, he was known as the intellectual of the bullpen group.  He has a great personality and is extremely fan-friendly, as well.  Durbin was one of my personal favorites for those reasons and I am glad he is back!

Durbin, 35, did very well with the Braves last year, pitching in 76 games with a 3.10 ERA.  His new contract with the Phillies is for 1 year with an option for a second year.

The Phillies also signed a utility infielder this week to a minor league deal.  Yuniesky Betancourt, who turns 31 in a few days, will join the team for Spring Training.  He hit .223 with the Royals last year, but was designated for assignment in August when the team manager, Ned Yost, became unhappy with his attitude.  “Yuni did a great job for us. But he was a guy that wanted more playing time, and he would get upset when he didn’t,” Yost said.

So add Betancourt to the Phillies list of problem children headed to camp next month.  If nothing else, Spring Training looks a lot more entertaining now!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Holiday Shopping List

‘Tis the season to buy lots of crap!  Black Friday, Cyber Monday….here we come!  The Phillies began shopping early when they signed Kevin Frandsen earlier this month to a 1-year, $850,000 deal.  If Frandsen plays the way he did last year, that small chunk of change could wind up being the bargain of the year.

But the Phillies have a much longer shopping list than that.  Unfortunately, even on Black Friday, not everything is on sale.  Even if Ruben Amaro Jr. camped out in front of All-Star Josh Hamilton’s house all night, I am pretty sure someone with more money would be camped out in front of him in line.  Fold up the tent, Ruben, and let’s work on a more realistic shopping list.

- The first item on the list should be a centerfielder.  I hear our old pal Shane Victorino may come at a descent discount.  But the Phillies seem to be more focused on B.J. Upton, who could rival Ryan Howard for strikeouts.  They both strike out around 30% of the time and neither hit for average.  Regardless, this team needs to shop for an outfielder!

- Bullpen help is needed….badly.  Maybe the Phillies need to look back at a few guys they previously tossed in the trash?  Here are some oldies, but goodies: Our old pal Chad Durbin had a 3.10 ERA for the Braves last season.  And how about Jason Grilli, who was with the Phillies minor league system until they dumped him…he went on to record a 2.91 ERA for the Pirates last season.  But my #1 oldie would be Ryan Madson.  He is coming off Tommy John surgery so the bidding for him should not get too high.

- Third base: Personally, I feel a combination of Frandsen and a drug-free Freddy Galvis can handle the hot corner.  But if you are the type who MUST buy during holiday sales whether you need to or not, here is who might deserve a look:  Kevin Youkilis will be 34 in March, but the guy can still hit for power.  At 36 years, Michael Young is not exactly young anymore….but he would be a solid veteran to keep the spot warm for a much younger Cody Asche in 2014.

- While the team is stocked with starting pitchers, maybe a few small upgrades could help?  You know…get Roy Halladay a bionic shoulder to replace the bum one.  Buy Kyle Kendrick an “All I Want For X-Mas is You” tee-shirt to keep his confidence high.  And for Cliff Lee, donate to his favorite charity and make a pledge to get him more than 6 wins this year.

- Buy baby-faced Darin Ruf a pair of big-boy pants and put him on the big-boy team.  That gamble may really pay off.  What have they got to lose?  And J.C. Penney has a great Black Friday sale on pants right now…

- And the final big purchase for the Phillies should be a stand-up comedian.  When things start to go downhill for the Phils, the comedian can jump in and tell jokes between innings to keep spirits high.  Because as a fan base in 2012, we have all lost a bit of our sense of humor.  You cannot blame us though…losing is just not funny.  Help us all remember how to laugh and smile again!  And if the wins start coming, you can trade the comedian to a more needy team.

Happy shopping, everyone!

 

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Amaro photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Trading Places: Phillies Out; Nationals In

Watching the Phillies win a game against the Nationals last night and seeing the Nationals celebrate instead was like being in the Twilight Zone.  Not many teams get to pop the champagne after a loss.  But before the game even ended, the Nats were celebrating as the Braves lost, making Washington the new National League East Champs.

It was quite a role reversal for the Phillies who, prior to this disastrous year, won that title 5 years in a row.  Sadly, they have officially traded placed with the Nationals.

It was a somber win that will guarantee the Phillies a winning record to end the season.  But even that small accomplishment cannot make-up for the fact that the Phils have missed the playoffs and will go quietly into the off-season with many questions.

Perhaps less of a question now is Kyle Kendrick, who appears to finally have his act together.  He pitched 7 scoreless innings last night and should be a starter next season.

Kevin Frandsen continues to hit, with 2 singles last night, even with a stress fracture in his leg.  Still, he does not appear to be an option for 3rd base next year, despite his efforts.

Rookie Darin Ruf keeps slugging away and his triple last night scored the Phillies only 2 runs.  But his future is also uncertain, as are many futures of players on this team.  Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are hurt again; Roy Halladay had a bad year.

The Phillies still have many questions left to answer.  And they still have 2 games left to play.  Game time is 7:05pm tonight.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

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