Results tagged ‘ Braves ’

Unnatural Things: The Phillies Blow a 6-Run Lead

One out away from sweeping the Braves, the Phillies blew it in the 9th last night.  One lousy out and closer Jonathan Papelbon could not get it done.  Worse, the Phillies allowed a 6 run lead to slip away in a game they should have won.  Instead, the 8-7 walk-off loss may haunt the Phillies for some time to come.

There are certain things in life, and in baseball, that should just never happen.  Blowing a 6-run lead is one of those things.  It is unnatural.  It is simply contrary to the laws nature.

And now the Phillies, who may have had a small amount of playoff hope with the momentum of  a sweep, are even more clearly out of the race.  What team that blows a 6-run lead this late in the year has even a remote shot at making the playoffs?  None  that I am aware of.

So another Cole Hamels start goes to waste as does another 3-hit game from John Mayberry Jr.  The Phillies are now in Cincinnati playing the Reds.  Pitcher Tyler Cloyd is making only the 2nd start of his short major league career.  Best of luck to him!

In other news, pitcher’s Jake Diekman and Justin DeFratus have both joined the team as September call-ups.  They should be available out of the bullpen in this series.

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Papelbon photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Kratz & Mayberry Propel Phillies to Win

Friday night’s Phillies – Braves game was a little uncomfortable to watch through the first 5 innings as ace pitcher Roy Halladay struggled.  Sweaty and red in the face, Halladay looked like he might pass out more than a few times.  He gave up 4 runs on 2 homers and 4 walks before being pulled after 4 2/3 innings.

Catcher Erik Kratz did everything humanly possible to help the ailing Halladay, including taking what looked like a heavy-weight title knock-out shot at the plate from Chipper Jones in the 4th inning:

John Mayberry Jr. made a great, on-target throw and, amazingly, Kratz held onto the ball.  It was an unbelievable play…but neither Kratz nor Mayberry were done impressing everyone yet.

Down 4-5 going into the 9th inning, the Phillies were going to need a small miracle to get to Braves star closer Craig Kimbrel.  But Kratz was again up to the challenge as he took Kimbrel’s fastball deep to left to tie up the game.

That home run sent the game into extra innings where Mayberry stepped in once more to help the Phillies win.  Kevin Fransden provided the first spark, staring the 10th off with a single.  Later that inning, Mayberry saw one pitch and sent in into the seats for a 3-run homer, handing the Phillies an 8-5 lead.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the save, which was the 250th save of his career and 31st this season.  The Phillies now sit 8 games out of the Wild Card race.  Not that the playoffs are a real possibility at this point, but just thought I would mention it.  At the very least, they should aim to make life more difficult for the Braves.  Game time today is 4:05pm.

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Phillies Pitching Frustrating Once Again

The Phillies lost in spectacularly bad fashion by a score of 12-6 against the Braves last night, losing the 3 game series.  Kyle Kendrick went only 3 1/3 innings while giving up 6 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks.  Kendrick looked like he was sleepwalking through the game.  He was awful.

The only thing worse than Kyle Kendrick’s pitching was his post-game interview.  Nearly all of Kendrick’s stammerings after games give off an uncalled for air of righteous indignation, which is infuriating.  Last night, he dropped this gem on the press: “I guess that’s how it is with me. It’s been, ‘What have you done for me lately?’.”

Aww, poor baby.  Are those mean people picking on you, Kyle?  Seriously?  His reaction to totally sucking is to point out that people are unhappy when he sucks?  Please excuse me while I vomit…

The most irritating part about Kendrick is that we all know he can pitch.  We have seen him do it.  But when he goes bad, he goes really bad and it almost seems as if he could care less.  And so continues our ongoing frustration with Kendrick.

But even after those 6 runs, the Phillies battled back.  Jimmy Rollins led the game off with a homer.  Kevin Fransden had 2 hits and some nice plays at 3rd base.  And Ryan Howard mashed a 3-run homer in the 5th to tie the game up.

However, mega frustration #2 showed up again after that: Antonio Bastardo.  This kid should NOT be pitching in the 8th inning anymore.  He clearly has lost whatever mojo he had last season.  Bastardo gave up 3 more runs and then Josh Lindblom, newly acquired from the Dodgers, tacked on 3 more.  Disgusting.  Especially after the offense battled back like that, this was a serious kick in the gut.

The Phillies will have the day off today to wallow in this sickening loss before having to face the World Champion Cardinals on Friday.  We can only hope that series will be better than this one.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hamels Ends Losing Streak Against Braves

It appears that Cole Hamels has found his groove again, and just in time to end a long Phillies losing streak against the division rival Braves.  Prior to Tuesday night, the Braves had won 7 straight against the struggling Phils.

But once Hamels snapped out of his pitching slump, he made easy work out of Atlanta’s line-up.  He pitched a 5-hit, complete game shut-out with 6 strike outs and no walks allowed.  Yes, Super-Hamels has returned to his $144 million dollar form.

Ryan Howard also channeled his younger, healthier self with a 2-run bomb in the 1st inning.  The Big Piece is indeed still in there somewhere, which is a very good sign for next season.  Once his Achilles is fully healed, Howard should be getting right back to making opposing pitchers cry.

And Domonic Brown continues to show he belongs in the majors, along with a few flashes of why it has taken so long.  Brown hit a double in the first, right before the Howard homer, and he also worked a walk later in the game.  Brown played solid defense, but also made some base running errors.  The double was really a single that he stretched out, but he would have been thrown out if the fielder had not dropped the ball.  Brown also failed to tag on a long fly ball to center in that same inning.  So there are still some growing pains, but overall, things are looking up for Brown.

And of course, Erik Kratz continues on his torrid pace at the plate.  With 2 hits again last night, Kratz is now hitting .406 in 32 at-bats so far.

So while 2012 is a wash, the future may potentially be looking a bit brighter.  Game 3 with the Braves starts tonight at 7:05pm and Kyle Kendrick will pitch.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Sellout Streak Ends as Phillies Lose to the Braves Again

It was fun while it lasted, but we all knew it would come to an end sometime.  The Phillies home sellout streak came to a close yesterday with a total of 257 consecutive games and 273 including the postseason.  That means if you were at Sunday’s game like I was, you are now part of history: Game #257.  It was the last day of a great era in Phillies baseball.

Jimmy Rollins told the media, “That’s a lot of baseball games. There’s been a lot of winning in that time. Hopefully, they enjoyed it as much as we did.”  That last sentence has an air of finality to it, almost like a funeral.  It is sad to see it end, although 41,000 people in attendance is still not too shabby.

But if the Phillies want behinds in the seats, they are going to have to show a lot more effort than they did last night in a 6-1 loss to the Braves.  The only Phillies run of the game was a solo homer from John Mayberry Jr.  The rest of the offense was mostly quiet.

Vance Worley did not have a good night either.  Bothered by a tummy bug of some sort, the Vanimal was not his usual animal self.  He was pulled after only 3 2/3 innings with 4 runs allowed.  The bullpen tacked on 2 more runs later and with the way this team has played all year, there was no recovering from a hole that deep.

It was a fitting end to a game that marked the end of the sellout crowds.  But the Phillies still have reasons to play hard this season.  The first thing they should be playing for is pride.  They should also be stepping it up for the loyal fans that have supported them all these years.  No one wants to sit around in 95 degree heat to watch them sleepwalk through a game.

Finally, and sadly, they need to play for 2013 tickets sales.  The bottom line, after all, is still the bottom line.

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Howard Turns Boos to Cheers in Walk-Off Win

Since returning after spending half the season on the DL, Ryan Howard has not had much luck getting his bat going.  He struck out 3 times in today’s Phillies - Diamondbacks game and each time, the boos got louder.  But in the 9th, Howard would redeem himself with a walk-off single to hand the Phillies a 5-4 victory and the series win.

Prior to that, Howard was not the only one hearing the boo birds.  Cliff Lee had a rough 2nd inning where he gave up back-to back homers to guys at the bottom of the D-Backs line-up.  His battery mate, Erik Kratz, tried to help him out with 2 hits and an RBI in the game, but Lee is becoming notorious for these odd ups and downs.

In case you missed it, catcher Carlos Ruiz is on the DL with a partial tear due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot.  So we will be seeing a lot of Kratz in the next 4-6 weeks.

The rest of the team sprinkled some offense here and there.  Chase Utley smashed a solo homer in the 5th.  And Domonic Brown went 2-for-4, which is a very good sign.

Brown also took flight on his way to 2nd base for a double.  It is not a bird or a plane, it is Super-Dom:

The Phillies also took advantage of D-Backs errors while managing to avoid most of their own recent blunders.

A run scored in the 8th to tie the game, which was the result of a D-Backs throwing error.  That set up the walk-off from Howard in the 9th.  Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

Tomorrow the Braves come to town, and although the Phillies have little to play for right now, a little revenge from the sweep last week may be in order.  Vance Worley will pitch; game time is 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Go From Minor Problems to Major Ones

In yesterday’s 2-1 loss, the Phillies looked either unable or unwilling to deal with Braves pitcher Mike Minor.  The only Phillies run was a solo shot from Chase Utley.  They also committed 2 errors in yet another game.

The near-comatose effort, careless swings and lack of hustle have gone from being a minor issue to a major one.

Just ask manager Charlie ManuelHe told reporters, “Our team, we used to – and I hate to say ‘used to’ – we did things different,” Manuel said. “A lot of that contributed to our success. People do change. Success changes people. Money definitely changes people. You have to be able to see those things, too. I’m not singling out one person. I’m talking about a team.”

It is interesting to finally hear the manager say what the rest of us have been thinking all season long.  This is also why many doubted whether getting injured players back, like Utley and Ryan Howard, would make any real difference.  Because if the good attitude and the hustle are not there, it doesn’t matter who they throw out onto the field.  And that is exactly what we are witnessing now.

These 2 losses against the Braves are probably going to push GM Ruben Amaro Jr. to pull the trigger on some trades in the next few days.  The Phillies are too far behind to catch up now as they sit 11.5 games out of the 2nd Wild Card spot and 15.5 out of 1st with 61 games to go.

If that happens and the team really shuts down, it will be a truly sad sight to behold.  Because even if they have nothing else to play for, you would hope they might have enough pride left to at least attempt to finish strong.  All we can do is hope that they choose the high road and try to improve for next season.

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Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Walks and Errors Kill the Phils in Atlanta

The Phillies win streak has ended at 4 games after an awful 6-1 loss to the Braves in Atlanta last night.  After a lead-off single from Jimmy Rollins in the 1st inning, the Phillies scored their only run of the game.  It all went downhill from there.

Pitcher Cole Hamels had one of the worst starts of his career immediately after signing a huge $144 million contract.  He walked a career high 6 batters, 3 of which came in the 2nd inning and led to 2 runs for the Braves.

Of course, those 2 runs could have been avoided if Mike Fontenot had not made a gigantic error at 3rd base.  He missed a routine ground ball that would have ended the inning without a run scored.  Third base has been a total nightmare for the Phillies with Placido Polanco’s constant back issues over the past 2 seasons.  Polly is on the DL again and neither Fontenot nor Ty Wigginton are able to handle the hot corner.  20% off all Phillies errors this year have happened at 3rd base.

The Phillies have had many 3rd base troubles over the years since after Scott Rolen departed.  Think about this: David Bell, Pedro Feliz and Polanco.  What do they all have in common?  You guessed it…back problems.  And if next year the Phillies decide to try Freddy Galvis at 3rd, he and his back fracture will fit right in:

So the troubles at 3rd continue as do the trouble with playing error-free baseball, starting pitching woes and a sluggish offense.  The other problem the Phillies are facing?  How about Brian McCann.  This guy is a 1-man Phillies wrecking crew.

In 6 games against the Phillies just this year, McCann has hit a home run in EVERY single game, including 1 grand slam.  He has 16 RBI against the Phillies in 2012…so far.  So my question then is, why are the Phillies still pitching to this guy?  Walk him!  Hit him with a pitch!  Throw darts at him!  I don’t care…just please stop pitching to the guy!

Tune in tonight at 7:10pm to see if the McCann curse continues…ugh.

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Phillies photos by Jenn Zambri Photography; McCann photo courtesy of MLB.com

Streaking & Signing: Things Are Looking Up for the Phillies

It is officially a streak – the Phillies have won 4 games in a row and all 4 came during their final at-bat.  In the 3-game sweep of the Brewers, every game also ended in the exact same score, 7-6.

Tuesday’s improbable win included a 6-run rally in the 8th inning which was started by a 2-run homer from 2nd back-up catcher, Erik Kratz.  To that point, Kratz had exactly 3 major league hits and all 3 were home runs.

Then today, Kratz doubled his major league hit total even while abandoning the long ball.  He recorded 3 hits including an RBI and a double in extra innings to once again set the Phillies up for a late-game win.   Chase Utley also had 3 hits today plus 3 RBI.   Jimmy Rollins got the game-winning hit today and also in Sunday’s walk-off win.

As for the pitching, Cliff Lee was not great on Tuesday, giving up 6 runs.  But the Phillies offense got all 6 back for him in that 8th inning.  Then today Vance Worley had an ok outing, allowing 3 runs in 5.1 innings.  Kyle Kendrick kept him from further damage with 1.2 scoreless innings.

The bullpen has, with one exception, found it’s groove in  these last 4 games.  Only Antonio Bastardo faltered with a 2-run homer to Ryan Braun today that almost cost them the game.  But the late-inning magic bailed him out, even despite another Ty Wigginton error at third base.

But the HUGE bang for the Phillies came earlier today when the Phillies announced they finally signed ace pitcher Cole Hamels to a long-term deal.  A collective sigh of relief was heard around the city.

Hamels got 6 years for $144 million, which is the second biggest contract ever behind only CC Sabathia of the Yankees who got $161 for 7 years back in 2008.  It is the largest contract ever for a Phillie.

It appears then that the Phillies have not given up just yet.  The Hamels signing should be a big relief for guys like Lee, Rollins and Roy Halladay who chose to come to or stay in Philly with the promise from the front office that they would continue to try to win in the long-term.  And these last 4 wins which happened in the most unlikely ways should also light a fire under the entire team.

The Phillies are off tomorrow for the annual Phestival and they will then fly to Atlanta for 3 games with the Braves.  Those 3 games will be very telling as to whether this team can stage an improbable comeback and make a run at a Wild Card spot.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Stumble Into All-Star Break With Little Hope to Save Their Season

The Phillies were swept by the Braves today in a depressing 4-3 loss.  There was not even a little comic relief, as in Saturday’s loss when Hunter Pence bowled over 3rd base coach Juan Samuel while rounding the bases towards home.  That bit had everyone except Samuel laughing to the point of tears.

The only laughs today came before the game started:

After that, absolutely nothing was funny.  Even the presentation of All-Star jersey’s to Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Papelbon and Cole Hamels was somehow lacking in enthusiasm.

And then fans learned that Shane Victorino was pulled from the line-up at the last moment, prompting rumors of a possible trade or injury.  But what actually happened, according to Charlie Manuel, was that Shane was feeling “down” and had “a lot on his mind…”  And so, Charlie took him out in favor of Jason Pridie.

That turned out to be the only good move of the day.  Pridie hit a 2-run homer and a double, which accounted for all 3 Phillies runs in the game.

Vance Worley battled through 6 innings, allowing 3 runs, which was a nice improvement over his last start where he have up 6 runs in 4 innings.  But despite the quality start, not much was going the way of the Phillies.

There were some nice defensive plays:

But the offense was lackluster, despite having both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the line-up.  The top 4 in the line-up went 1-for-16 collectively, although Jimmy Rollins did go 3-for-3 in pop-fly outs.  I am not sure that is a stat to be proud of, but at least he is consistent (note my sarcasm, in case you missed it).

Ultimately, Raul Valdes gave up a solo homer to who else, but Brian McCann, giving the Braves a 1-run lead that the Phillies failed to overcome.

So the Braves had a nice visit to Philly, complete with attempts to steal young Phillies fans.  Here is ex-Phil Chad Durbin and Dan Uggla before the game playing nice with one of the kids chosen for the traditional Sunday Starting 9:

Actually, it was very sweet.  But Durbin was always that kind of guy; his presence is still missed on this ballclub.

So the Phillies go into the All-Star break in the midst of a complete disaster.  They have won only 1 of their last 12 games and sit in dead last in the NL East, 14 games out of first.  Get ready fans; I am afraid change is coming, and not the good kind.

For a pleasant distraction, check out my Photo Album from the game; just pretend they win and the photos look even better!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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