Results tagged ‘ Braves ’

Howard’s Return Spoiled in Loss to Braves

We all waited through 84 dreadful games to finally see the Phillies line-up back together again.  Chase Utley came back and now, Ryan Howard is back.  But game #85 with Howard, Utley and the old gang together was fun for about 2 or 3 innings.  And then, reality set in.

Howard started off his 2012 season with a monster double to center field.  Cheer rang out among fans excited to see the big man back again.  But by the 3rd inning, we all began to wonder why the offense was still not getting it done.

The Phillies sprinkled 5 hits here and there, two of which were from Howard.  The Braves did not have many hits either as Kyle Kendrick finally found his groove after his last regular start spot in the rotation was pushed back a few days.  Maybe getting skipped finally gave Kendrick the incentive he needed to step up his game.

And he did just that; Kendrick was great through 7 innings.  He allowed only 4 hits and did not give up a single run, even after getting into a tight spot in the 7th inning.  But he did not get any run support from his teammates and then was pulled in the 8th in favor of Antonio Bastardo.

Bastardo was awful; he had no command and walked 3 batters, even walking a run home with the bases loaded and 2 outs.  If I was managing this team, I’d have pulled him after the first 2 batters based on the season he has had so far and his obvious lack of control at that moment.  But you know Charlie Manuel; he is going to stick with “his guy” until he gives up 5 runs, including a grand slam to Brian McCann.

And this exactly what happened.  I am so tired of people going on about “roles” in the bullpen.  This is my 8th inning guy, this is my middle-relief guy, etc…  Because in the same breath, they will tell you that these guys are only human, not robots.  That is correct.  However, it totally contradicts the theory of bullpen roles.

If they are in fact human, then they are prone to having good days and bad days.  If a guy is having a bad day, like Bastardo, then you use someone else, regardless of their “role!”  Not to do so is counterproductive, detrimental to your team and gives the impression that the 8th inning guy (or whatever-inning guy) HAS to be a robot in order to succeed.  And yet you have just stated he is NOT a robot.  See my frustration with this?

Human beings are NOT made of metal; they are flexible.  And as such, they should be flexible in their “roles.”  Charlie also loves to talk about showing confidence in “his guys.”  Well how much confidence do you think Bastardo has now after that disastrous outing?

Sometimes, you need to step in and save someone from themselves.  Tell him, “Today is not your day.  You’ll get them the next time.”  That disappointment HAS to be better than the one that comes with allowing 5 runs in the 8th inning of a previously scoreless game, followed by getting chewed out on the bench by your pitching coach in front of everyone.

I have a lot of respect for Manuel and the way he manages.  When things are going good, his style works very, very well.  You can afford to let a guy go a little further.  But when times are bad, like they are now, you have to adapt.  And in my humble opinion, that is the part he is getting wrong right now.  And this team, 13 games back in the NL East, cannot afford ANY wrong moves.

I still love ya, Charlie.  But seriously, do “your guys” a favor and show some tough love.  This team needs a swift kick in the rear, on all sides of the ball.  And now we can only pray that it is not already too late.

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Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Blanton Channels Halladay In Complete Game Shut-Out

Since Roy Halladay was unable to perform like Roy Halladay on Wednesday night, Joe Blanton decided to step in and give it a try.  Blanton did such a great Halladay impersonation that he managed to shut-out the Braves in a 3-hit complete game for a 4-0 Phillies win.

But maybe Blanton was not channeling the spirit of an ace pitcher at all; maybe this is just who Blanton is when he is actually healthy.  Either that, or maybe Blanton just needs to take every other year off and only play baseball during even-numbered years?

After a few tough years, Blanton has finally gone from an average Joe to an ace.  And after the previous night’s 11-inning 15-13 disaster that blew out both team’s bullpens, the Phillies pitchers really needed the boost from Blanton’s complete game.

The offense provide just enough offense to sneak out of Atlanta with a series win, 2 games to 1.  Shane Victorino and Laynce Nix both homered in the game and Hunter Pence added a sac fly.

The Phillies begin a 3-game series with the first place (gulp!) Nationals on Friday night.  Stephen Strasburg will pitch against Phillies fill-in extraordinaire, Kyle Kendrick (double gulp!).  Game time is 7:05pm…let the fun begin!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Doc Disassembled: Roller Coaster Game Ends in Disaster

After a 4-2 win over the Braves on Tuesday night, the Phillies felt good entering Wednesday’s game.  The offense was finally starting to score runs and they would have ace pitcher Roy Halladay on the mound.  Even better, they took a 6-0 lead into the 5th inning.

Placido Polanco just kept getting hits and Shane Victorino road his coat tails.  Then Laynce Nix smashed a bases-clearing, 3-run double in the 3rd.  Things were going very, very well.

Then the impossible happened…Halladay got hammered.  If you try saying out loud, “Halladay blew a 6-run lead,” it may actually seem like you are speaking Greek.  Add to that, “Halladay gave up 8 runs in less than two innings,” and you now have the equivalent of an extra-terrestrial language never before spoke on planet earth.

But that is exactly what happened.  The Braves disassembled the Doc like he was a faulty robot that short circuited.  The beating even included a Grand Slam, just to add a little more salt to the wound.  Ouch.

Halladay has not looked like his old self in a few games now and the questions about his health are bound to pile up like a mound of steaming dog poo.  Whatever is going on, it does not smell good.

If you think about the way the Phillies offense has played so far this year, just as unthinkable as Halladay getting hit for 8 runs is this team coming back after those 8 runs.

And yet, the temporary reassembly of this Phillies game began with a 3-run homer off the bat of Carlos Ruiz in the 7th inning.  Chooch was determined to get his pitcher off the hook, because in the 8th inning, he added 3 more runs with a bases-clearing double.  That gave him a total of 7 RBI on the night.  Insane.

With a 12-8 lead in the 8th, the insanity was not yet over.  As hard as Ruiz worked to get the Phillies ahead, the bullpen seemed to work just as hard to blow it.  By the time Jose Contreras was pulled, he had allowed a run and loaded the bases, thanks in part to a huge error by Jimmy Rollins.

Michael Schwimer came in to pitch and walked in a run on 4 pitches.  And of course, the next batter singled in 2 more runs to tie the game…again.  This time, it was 12-12.  But that did not last long.  Schwimer gave up a sac fly and Braves took a 13-12 lead.

You could not have scripted a weirder game.  And I could not have shouted any more cuss words at my TV.  Not because I could not think of any…because I lost my damn voice.  If you ever find yourself asking the question, “How do you blow a huge lead…multiple times?,” just watch a replay of this game.  Disgusting.

Think the Phillies had a second comeback in them?  Well, they did tie it up…again…13-13 in the 9th, sending the game to extra innings.  But relief pitcher Brian Sanches, on the roster for David Herndon who is on the DL, gave up a 2-run homer to Chipper Jones in the 11th.  The walk-off win for the Braves wasted the only solid offensive effort from the Phils all year.  Just sickening.

If you can stomach it, game 3 with the Braves starts early on Thursday at 12:10pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Hit The Road on a Positive Note

In the finale of a 4-game series with the Cubs, the Phillies got off to a hot start with 4 runs in the first inning.  Having already lost 2 games in this series, it was imperative for this team to get going quickly. But after those 4 runs, the offense went to sleep again.

Vance Worley pitched 7 strong innings while the offense napped.  He allowed only 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks.  The Phillies took the 4-1 lead into the 8th inning as the bullpen took over.

Sadly, no lead seems very safe with this team.  Such was the case as Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls combined to blow the 3-run lead.  Bastardo walked his second batter and Qualls gave up a single to score that run and then added a 2-run homer shortly after.

With the game then tied, the Phillies needed that sleeping offense to wake up.  But the way things have been going lately, it seemed unlikely.  It was going to take a small miracle…or at least a clutch hit.

When you find yourself cheering because the first batter of the inning, Juan Pierre, got hit by a pitch, you know things have not been going well.  And when you begin to hope that maybe the pitcher will hit the next 3 batters so you can score a run, things have gone from bad to worse.

But instead of getting hit, the Phillies actually got a few hits.  With 2 outs and Pierre on first, Jimmy Rollins singled to move Pierre to third.  And then the real hero stepped to the plate and proved he has still got the bat to go with his glove.  Placido Polanco smashed a double to left that scored both Pierre and Rollins.  It was the first time this year that the Phillies were able to take a lead in their final at-bat.

The Phillies went on to a 6-4 victory, thanks to Polly’s timely hit.  Even better, it does appear that Polanco is healthy again after 2 hernia issues the previous year.

Going back on the road against the Braves and Nationals, who are leading the division, it was important to start on a positive note.  With any luck, the Phillies may be able to start digging themselves out of this hole and April’s losing record.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

No ROY, No Cy, No Surprise

As I had predicted, none of the Phillies got any of the top awards this off-season, but many came close.  The Cy Young voting was at least interesting; 3 Phillies made the top 5 in voting with Roy Halladay coming in 2nd, Cliff Lee 3rd and Cole Hamels 5th.  Not surprisingly, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw took home the award.

Kershaw was very deserving, although Halladay was a close runner-up.  But having 3 Phillies in the top 5 is also quite an impressive feat.

Another Phillies pitcher came close to taking home some hardware as well.  Vance Worley landed in 3rd place for Rookie of the Year behind two Braves, closer Craig Kimbrel and first baseman Freddie Freeman.  I thought Freeman would be the winner, but 2nd place is not too shabby.

And of course, neither is 3rd place.  Worley should be proud that on a staff with 4 ace starters, he not only held his own, he also got plenty of attention for a spectacular rookie season.

Manue and umplAlso as I predicted, Charlie Manuel was overlooked for Manager of the Year…again.  Yes, despite a Major League leading 102 wins, 5 straight division titles and a World Series, Manuel came in 4th place.  The D-Backs skipper, Kirk Gibson, took first place.

Even crazier, Joe Maddon of the Rays won for the American league, making it TWO Manager of the Year awards in 4 years.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Maddon.  He is actually from the Philly area.  And certainly, he deserves the honor.  But it does seem like a real shame that Manuel cannot get any respect in the National League like Maddon does in the AL.  Manuel beat Maddon in the 2008 World Series and has accomplished more overall.

But as is usually the case, Manuel just keeps getting shunned.

In other news, Brian Schneider will be the back-up back-stop once again in 2012.  The one-year deal is worth $800,000.  There is still no word on a deal for Jimmy Rollins.  Stay tuned…

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Grieving the Phillies 2011 Season – Stage 3: Bargaining

Stage 3 of my mourning the 2011 Phillies season has reached the bargaining stage.  The only problem is that the season is already gone, leaving nothing but “why’s,” “what if’s” and “if only’s.”

For instance,

  • What if…the Phillies had just let the Braves win the last two games of the season, thereby eliminating the Cardinals from the Wild Card?
  • What if…Cliff Lee did not blow a 4 run lead in NLDS game 2?
  • If only…I had a magic wand to make it all better.
  • What if…the Phillies offense actually showed up?
  • If only…I had a time machine (*sigh*).
  • If only…this team had stayed healthy.
  • What if…Charlie Manuel had a clue about when to pull his starters?
  • If only…wishing made it so :O(

Are there any deals left to be made?  Can I bargain with the devil to rewind this horrendous end to the season?  Ok, maybe not the devil.  But how about the angry, rabid and totally evil Busch Stadium Squirrel?  Clearly, this rodent has super powers that helped propel the Cards to the World Series.

Evil squirrel

The World Freakin’ Series?  The Cardinals?  A team that had literally no shot at a playoff run just weeks before the postseason?  If they win it all, they should dedicate the trophy to the Phillies, who beat the Braves, putting them in playoffs.  And the Phils then laid down and let the Cards walk all over them in the NLDS.

Not that the Cards did not earn it…they certainly did.  But the Phillies barely put up a fight, which still makes me want to travel back in time, violently shake each Phils player and scream until they WAKE UP!

Someone please wake me up…I must still be dreaming.  And oh, what a nightmare this has been.

Stay tuned for Stage 4…

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

Phillies Make History With 102 Wins

The Phillies ended the 2011 regular season with 102 wins after a 13 inning  4-3 victory over the Braves.  The 3-game sweep knocked the Braves out of the playoffs and also set a new record for the Phillies.  The franchise mark of 101 wins in a season has been surpassed, making this 2011 team statistically the best in Phillies history.

It also made Charlie Manuel the best manager in Phillies history.  His 646th win with the team surpassed the previous record of 656 held by Gene Mauch.

And as usual, the Phillies fought for their manager until the very end.  The game lasted 4 1/2 hours and 13 innings with 17 total pitchers used between the two teams.  The pitching was very good all around for both and hits were hard to come by; 11 for the Phils and 10 for the Braves.

In the 13th, Hunter Pence finally broke up the stalemate, knocking in the winning run with an RBI-single.  He had two hits in the game, as did Chase Utley, Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard.

By beating the Braves, the Phillies basically chose their own opponent.  The win handed the Wild Card spot to the Cardinals.  The Phillies struggled against the Cards in the regular season, winning only 3 games out of 9.  But coming off the momentum of this 3-game sweep and making Phillies history, the team should be ready to face the Cards again.

In the American League, the Red Sox are out, having lost what was previously and 8.5 game lead in the Wild Card race.  As they crashed and burned against the lowly Orioles again, the Tampa Bay Rays climbed out of a 7-0 hole to beat the Yankees and take the Wild Card spot.

So here is how the NLDS and ALDS line-up:

  • Phillies vs. Cardinals
  • Brewers vs. Diamondbacks
  • Yankees vs. Tigers
  • Rangers vs. Rays

The first game for the Phillies is this Saturday; no time has been announced yet.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Tie Franchise Record With 101 Wins

With a 7-1 win over the Braves on Tuesday night, the Phillies tied the franchise record for wins in a season with 101.  The Phillies also reached 101 in 1976 and 1977.

There was a lot of good news in this game, besides the win.  Roy Oswalt looked playoff ready on the mound.  He pitched six scoreless innings, allowing only 3 hits.

Chase Utley appears to be finding his swing again; he started the game with a solo homer in the 1st.  And Jimmy Rollins has now hit home runs in back-to-back games.  Hunter Pence also had a big night with 3 RBI.

In the bullpen, one major relief was seeing Antonio Bastardo get back on the horse after a bunch of bad outings.  He pitched a scoreless inning and looked convincing doing it.  Another interesting note is that rookie Joe Savery also pitched a scoreless inning and has looked very sharp his last few times out.  This is significant because he is also a lefty and could be called upon in the playoffs if Bastardo loses his stuff again.

The final regular season game for the Phillies is tonight at 7:10pm.  The Phils will have a shot at breaking the franchise record in wins and also dashing the playoff hopes for the Braves.  Go Phillies!

 

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

100 Wins

For only the 3rd time in franchise history, the Phillies have reached 100 wins for the season.  They beat the Braves by a score of 4-2 on Monday night and Cliff Lee earned the win.

The Phillies strung together 10 hits against a Braves team desperate to make the playoffs.  They are still one game ahead of the Cardinals in the Wild Card race.  But the Phillies could spoil all the fun.  While the Phils have already won the division, there is still the franchise record of 101 wins out there to tie or beat.

So the Phillies are not going to, nor should they, go easy on the Braves.  Raul Ibanez stepped up last night with 2 big RBI’s and several regulars had multi-hit games.  And four players out of the bullpen also stepped up and held onto the lead.  Game 2 is Tuesday night at 7:10pm.

Before the game, the Phillies went about their annual rookie hazing, dressing the young guys up in ridiculous outfits:

The back row is Trainer Ichiro Kitano, Erik Kratz, Joe Savery, Vance Worley, Michael Schwimer and Domonic Brown.   The front row is Justin DeFratus, Michael Martinez and Michael Stutes.

Doc Helps Cure Phillies Losing Streak

After losing eight straight games since clinching the NL East, the Phillies sent Roy “Doc” Halladay to the mound today to operate on the Mets.  Thanks to six scoreless innings from Doc, the Phillies had a shot at a win.

But the ailing offense would also need to find a cure for their disease.  Manager Charlie Manuel decided to shuffle the line-up around to see if that band-aid might stick.  Chase Utley was moved to the 2-hole, Hunter Pence to the 3-hole and Shane Victorino 5th behind Ryan Howard.

Whether it was the new line-up or just the agony of losing 8 straight, something worked.  The Phillies came out swinging and scored 3 runs in the 1st inning, 2 of which came off a Pence homer.  By the end of 4 innings, the Phillies had piled on 9 runs.

Every starter in the line-up had at least one hit, including Halladay.  Carlos Ruiz was absolutely on fire going 4-4 with 2 RBI and a walk.  Pence made up for yesterday’s blunders by going just a double short of the cycle and driving in 3 runs.  Jimmy Rollins also collected 3 hits.

The only negatives in the game came out of the bullpen.  After claiming that lefty Antonio Bastardo had been tipping his pitches which was the cause of his recent struggles, Manuel put Bastardo into the 7th inning to test the theory.  News flash – Tipping his pitches was not the issues.

Bastardo struggled with control and missed his spots.  In just 1/3 of an inning, he gave up 3 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks.  It was not good.  As the only lefty in the bullpen, if Bastardo cannot find his control again, this will be a huge issues in the playoffs.

Vance Worley also ran into trouble in his return to the bullpen.  He closed out the 7th for Bastardo just fine, but the 8th was not as easy for him.  Worley gave up one run to bring the score to 9-4.

The win gives the Phillies 99 for the season with 3 games to go against the Braves.  Beating the Braves could still give them the franchise record in wins, but it may also be a catch-22.  If the Braves do not get the Wild Card, it will probably go to the Cardinals.  The Phillies may then wind up facing the Cards in the NLDS.  They won only 3 of 9 against the Cards in the regular season.

Game 1 against the Braves is Monday night at 7:05pm; Cliff Lee will pitch.

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Halladay head shot 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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