Results tagged ‘ Carlos Ruiz ’

The 2012 Phillies: A Season to Forget

The torture that was the 2012 Phillies season is finally over.  And sadly, it ended just as I predicted before the season even began; without a playoff bid.  I was hoping to be wrong about that.

Since the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, each year they have taken exactly one step backwards.  So this year, missing the playoffs seemed like their destiny.  They lost the World Series in 2009; lost the NL Championship Series in 2010; lost the NL Division Series in 2011; and now, the next logical step has arrived.  The Phillies will go home early without even a sniff at a post-season run.

Remember happy days like these?:

For now, they are gone :O(

The first casualties of the 2012 disaster are already accounted for.  Bench coach Pete Mackanin, hitting coach Greg Gross and first base coach Sam Perlozzo have all been given their walking papers.  More fallout is probably on the horizon, but it will probably involve players, not coaches.

So who else should stay and who should go?  Here are some thoughts, starting with the offense:

In 195 at-bats, Kevin Frandsen hit .338, which led the team.  And for an entire month, he played with a stress fracture in his leg, yet he still kept hitting.  I say put him at 3rd base and get a back-up in case of injuries.

If the Phillies do not re-sign Juan Pierre, they are insane.  He hit .307 in 394 at-bats, led the team in stolen bases with 37 and he is the best bunter you can find anywhere.

Bring Shane Victorino back!  After a depressing second half with the Dodgers, his price will go down, possibly to the point where the Phillies can afford to resign him.  John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown can platoon and then the Phils need another outfielder or two.

Needs to Go:  Nate Schierholtz, Ty Wigginton, Michael Martinez.  Martinez is good defensively, but hit only .174 in 115 at-bats.  They can find a better utility guy.  And we are stuck with Laynce Nix for one more year unless someone is willing to trade for him…not likely.

Back-up Catcher:  In – Erik Kratz; Out – Brian Schneider.

Relief Pitching:  Jonathan Papelbon stays and probably Antonio Bastardo.  I will also put in votes for Jeremy Horst and Phillipe Aumont.  The maybes are Jake Diekman and Justin DeFratus, although DeFratus needs to be 100% healthy, which I feel is still in question.  Michael Stutes may return, but no one is sure in what condition.

Please Go Away:  Josh Lindblom – trade him (if anyone wants him).  He has been awful.  This team needs some veteran help in the pen.

Please Come Back: Ryan Madson!

As for starters, unless someone’s arm falls off, stick with the usual 5: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay (pray he gets healthy), Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick.

And of course, all the usual suspects, like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, etc… will be back.  But will they be healthy?  That is the looming question.

To give an idea of how badly the injuries hurt the team this year, consider this: I may be missing some, but by looking at the team stats, at least 49 different players made an appearance for the Phillies this year, rotating in and out of the 25-man roster.  Also, only 2 players of those 49 reached 400 or more at-bats; Rollins (632) and Mayberry (441).  That is scary.

So the season is over and the healing (quite literally) shall begin.  Do you have any thoughts you would like to share about this season?  Feel free to leave comments below. 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

A Ruf Day for the Nats in Philly

The fact that Nationals came into last night’s game with the best record in baseball was simply fuel for the Phillies fire who were determined to give their Division rival a tough time.  Nats pitching got Ruf’d up by the Phillies who homered 3 times in the game and won by a score of 6-3.

Carlos Ruiz smashed a 2-run shot in the 3rd and Domonic Brown added another homer in the 6th.  But the biggest bang of the evening came off the bat of rookie Darin Ruf in the 2nd inning.  His first major league hit wound up being a home run to left center field.  That was a fitting start to his major league career as Ruf had already hit 38 homers this year in Double-A ball.

But the best part of Ruf’s homer was watching him get the silent treatment in the dugout for the entire inning.  Not even the bat boy would acknowledge the rookie.  Ruf tried to give him a fist bump and was totally denied.  Finally, after a lot of muffled giggling and players attempting to maintain their composure, he was mobbed by his teammates.  That had to be some kind of record for blowing off a rookie after his first home run.

After the game, Ruf told reporters, “That was very loving of them…The longest silent treatment of all time, I guess.”  Welcome to the Bigs, kid.

Game 2 with the Nationals starts tonight at 7:05pm.

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Photo by Philly.com

Doubleheader, Double Wins as Phillies Sweep Rockies

After a ridiculous 3 hour rain delay on Saturday, the Phillies finally settled on a Sunday doubleheader to finish off the Rockies series.  Cole Hamels started the Day Game and allowed only 2 runs in 7 innings.

Chase Utley had his hands in a number of plays, including a hit, a walk and a very entertaining run scored:

The defense was solid, but the highlight was watching Ryan Howard hold onto the ball for an out after getting bowled over at 1st base by a Rockies player.  He also had 2 key RBI in the game.

The bullpen did not allow a run, setting up a 2-2 tie game going into the bottom of the 9th.

With the bases loaded and 1 out, John Mayberry Jr. connected for a game-winning, walk-off single.

The excitement continued in the Night Game, which turned out to be a comedy of errors for the Rockies.  They fumbled, dropped and just plain missed a lot of balls hit their way.  5 errors helped keep the Phillies alive after rookie starter Tyler Cloyd gave up 4 runs in 4 inning.

With the early exit, the Phillies wound up using 7 pitchers, none of whom allowed a run except Cloyd:

As it turns out, all the Phillies needed for the win besides pitching was Carlos Ruiz.  Fresh off the DL, Chooch got  a standing ovation when he stepped in to pinch hit.  And he promptly added to the Phillies fever with a single in the 6th that led to 2 runs and a Phillies lead.

Chooch stayed in the game to catch.  Ruiz was 2-for-2 with an RBI in his return, coming in cold off the DL, not having played a single inning in over a month.  No rehab start…nothing.  Just pure Chooch.  This guy is incredible.  Chooooooooooooooch!!!

The Phillies went on to win by a score of 7-4 to complete a 3-game sweep of the Rockies.

I have photos of both Game 1 and Game 2; just click the links.  Yes, it was a long day, but worth it!

The Marlins are up next….and a run at the postseason???  Hmmmm…..

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

A New Era of Phillies Baseball Begins

Now that the dust has settled on baseball’s trade deadline, there is a lot of information to absorb and process.  And for the Phillies and their fans, there are a lot of emotions involved as well.  I think Ryan Howard summed it up best when he told beat writer Todd Zolecki, “Shane’s been here for a long time. Like I said, (he) was a very big part of this club. It is weird not seeing his face. It’s weird not seeing Hunter. But that’s how baseball works sometimes.”

“Weird” is an excellent description.  Everyone expected major change because of this backwards Phillies season, but it is still strange to see a guy like Shane Victorino in another uniform after being such an integral part of this team for so long.  He was indeed the “personality” of the team as well during their better days; loose, fun and fiery.

Shane was also open, honest and easily approachable, something many fans really appreciated.  I had the great pleasure of spending time with him and his wife Melissa on several Phillies Cruise’s and can tell you they are wonderful, generous people.  I wish Shane and his family all the best; they will be missed.

As for Hunter Pence, his energy will be missed.  But honestly, I won’t miss his free-swinging and awkward plate approach; it totally stressed me out!  But I am sure he will be a big help to the Giants; best of luck to him!

So what did the Phillies really get in return for all these moves?  Well first, they dumped some salary which will help keep them under the luxury tax this year.  They also got 5 new players; 2 major leaguers and 3 prospects.

The 2 major leaguers who will join the Phillies today are right-handed relief pitcher Josh Lindblom and outfielder Nate Schierholtz.  Lindblom has a 3.02 ERA in 48 games this year and should be able to help out the bullpen right away.  Schierholtz is a platoon player and lifetime .270 hitter.  He will be a huge defensive upgrade over Pence, but an offensive downgrade.

The 3 prospects are right-handed relief pitcher Ethan Martin, catcher Tommy Joseph and right-hander Seth Rosin.  Martin was the #7 prospect in the Dodgers top 20 and a former 1st round pick.  He is probably a few years away from the majors.

Joseph is an interesting prospect; he was #5 in the Giants top 20 and a 2012 Futures Gamer.  He is highly touted as a power-hitting run producer with a strong arm.  He will likely either take over for Carlos Ruiz after the 2013 season or be used as trade bait in the off-season.  Ruben Amaro Jr. has already gotten calls from other teams about him.

And finally, Rosin was #19 in the Giants top 20 with a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90’s.  He has a 4.31 ERA so far this season.

These are obviously not mind-blowing pick-ups, but Amaro seems to have gotten as much as would be expected by these moves.  So now we get to see if Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. have what it takes to be everyday players.  How these 2 guys play will determine many off-season moves for the Phillies.

In the meantime, this team still will keep on playing.  Oddly enough, yesterday’s moves seem to have given the Phillies a little spark as they routed the 1st place Nationals 8-0.  Now that the pressure is off and they are not expected to climb out of this huge hole, we may see some better baseball.

Mayberry looked like a new man last night with 2 hits and a walk.  New Phillie Kevin Fransden played amazing defense at 3rd base and whacked a 2-run homer.  And Juan Pierre had 3 hits, although that is not unusual for him.

But the most exciting play of the game was a 2-run inside-the-park homer from Jimmy Rollins.  He sped around the bases so fast, he scored standing.

All of a sudden, the Phillies had everything working.  Even the pitching was going well as Cliff Lee finally notched his 2nd win of the year with 7 scoreless innings.  Now that is the Lee we have been missing lately.

So here are the new Phillies…for now.  Wouldn’t it be nice if, just for spite, they could sweep the Nationals?  Ok, maybe I am dreaming…but still hoping for better baseball ahead!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Together Again, Phillies Sluggers Turn Back Time

After a very unusual start to the 1st inning in last night’s Phillies and Brewers match-up, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard reunited in a way that appeared to turn time back to better days.  They went back-to-back with solo home runs and just that quickly, it was like old times again.  Ah, together again…

In fact most of this previously lame Phillies squad is back off the DL and as a result, they are starting to turn things around.  Last night’s walk-off win was the second in row for the Phillies and also their first comeback win when trailing after 8 innings this season.  Prior to this, they were 0-42 when losing after 8 innings.

This game began in a very odd way though.  Roy Halladay was not his normal, studley self.  He gave up 2 runs in the first inning before Howard and Utley countered with their solo blasts.

Even stranger was what happened to Shane Victorino before those home runs.  Ex-Phillies pitcher Randy Wolf hit Victorino in the funny bone with a pitch; because he turned his shoulder to in an attempt to get out of the way, the 1st base umpire apparently got confused and called him out on strikes.  Replay showed that Victorino came nowhere near to swinging at the pitch.

Both Victorino, in obvious pain, and manager Charlie Manuel argued his case to no avail.  Once again, an idiot umpire would cost the Phillies a base runner and, after the homers, it cost them an extra run.  Even worse, Victorino’s hand went numb after the hit to the elbow and he had to be removed from the game.  He says he is fine now and should be able to play tonight; the ball just struck a nerve in the wrong place.

The umpire idiocy did not end there either.  Howard’s obvious solo shot was initially ruled a double after the ball bounced back onto the field out of the left field flower beds.  They had to go to replay to get the call overturned.  But it was quite apparent to the naked eye that the ball left the yard.  I guess the umpire went temporarily blind; an affliction which seems to be contagious.  And all that happened in the first inning.

By the 4th inning, things were getting out of hand as Halladay continued to self-destruct and allowed 4 more runs for a 6-2 Phillies deficit.  But for the second day in a row, the bullpen came through and held the score there.  And that set up the Phillies 1st comeback win after 8 innings all season long.

With 1 out in the 9th, the Phillies were still 4 runs behind and down to their final 2 outs when suddenly, the clock turned backwards again.  The Phillies offense began channeling their 2008 selves.  Jimmy Rollins drew a walk followed by a Juan Pierre single.  Utley walked; Howard singled in 2 runs; Carlos Ruiz singled in another and Hunter Pence followed with another walk.

With still only 1 out in the inning and a man on third, all the Phillies needed was a sac fly.  Most of the year, the Phillies have been unable to accomplish this seemingly routine task.  But on this throwback night, Ty Wigginton summoned his inner super-Wigginess and sent a line drive to left which scored pinch-runner Erik Kratz.

And just like that, the Phillies have found themselves on the comeback trail.  Like J-Roll said after Sunday’s win, it is time to start streaking…

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Escape Sweep With 12-Inning Walk-Off Win

It was nice to finally see some smiles at the ballpark today as the Phillies walked-off with a 4-3 win in 12 innings over the Giants.  When the game first began, things did not seem like they were going the way of the Phillies as Joe Blanton gave up a solo homer after tossing only 3 pitches.

But  Blanton settled in and wound up allowing 3 runs over 8 innings.  Most of the offense was supplied by John Mayberry Jr. who hit 2 solo home runs.  And Chase Utley tripled a run home in the bottom of the first.

There were some nice defensive plays and some adventurous ones:

After the 8th inning though, both teams seemed to be stuck in neutral.  Amazingly, the Phillies bullpen did not surrender a run after that.  Antonio Bastardo, Jeremy Horst and Kyle Kendrick combined for 4 scoreless innings.

Finally in the 12 inning, the Phillies got a rally going.  After a walk to Carlos Ruiz, Laynce Nix singled in his first game back off the DL.  Then after a mostly quiet day at the plate, Jimmy Rollins came through with a single to score Ruiz for a walk-off win.

The Phillies were so excited, they grabbed whatever was at hand to celebrate.  In this case, several water bottles would have to do.

This win was a huge relief for all.  J-Roll told Jim Jackson at 1210AM after the game, “The fans have not given up on us and we aren’t giving up on ourselves.”

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s 12-inning marathon.

The Brewers come to town tomorrow!  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Showing Signs of Life

The Phillies had not won a series since June 20th, the last time they faced the Rockies.  It is fitting then that almost a month later, their next series win also came against the Rockies.

On Saturday, Vance Worley led the team pitching 6.2 innings and allowing only 2 runs.  The game was almost a rout as the Phillies led 6-2 going into the 8th inning.  But the bullpen struck again, allowing 3 Rockies runs and cutting the lead to a very uncomfortable 6-5.  Jonathan Papelbon was forced into the game for a 5 out close attempt.  The Phillies gave him 2 more runs to play with in the 9th and they walked away with an 8-5 victory.

Then today, Cole Hamels led the charge, pitching 8 innings with only 1 run allowed.  For the first time in a long time, everything was clicking for the Phillies.  Even without Chase Utley or Ryan Howard in the line-up, as it had been pretty much all year, they still scraped out 5 runs.

Carlos Ruiz normally sits for Sunday day games, but he has been so hot, manager Charlie Manuel had to play him.  Chooch did not disappoint and went 2-for-4 with an RBI.  He is now hitting an unbelievable .353…in the middle of July.  Wow.

And Hunter Pence finally broke and 0-for-13 streak with a 3-run homer in the 5th inning.  That had to be a huge relief for him.

Speaking of relief, no one was more relieved to have a little success than Antonio Bastardo.  After allowing 5 runs in his last 2/3 of an inning pitched, Bastardo finally pitched a 1-2-3 inning using only 7 pitches, all strikes.  That 9th inning performance may be the injection of life Bastardo has been looking for all season.

Now I do not mean to be a Debbie Downer here, but keep in mind, the Phillies just beat the 2nd worst team in the National League.  The Dodgers are up next and that team is hanging right in there with the Giants for first place in the NL West.  This will be a much bigger test for the Phillies.

The pitchers schedule to go against the Dodgers are in this order: Joe Blanton, Roy Halladay (his 1st start off the DL!) and Cliff Lee.  This looks like a very solid opportunity for the Phillies if they can continue to build on this momentum.

Game time Monday night is 10:10pm (yikes!).  Bust out the caffeine…

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies All-Stars Contribute to NL Shut-Out Win Over the AL

In an 8-0 win over the American League, 3 Phillies All-Stars made big contributions for the National LeagueCole Hamels pitched a perfect 7th inning, probably driving up his free agent value a little bit more.  Carlos Ruiz caught the final 4 innings and had one at-bat, a fly-out to left field.  And Jonathan Papelbon recorded the final out of the game, sealing the NL victory.

Here are a few MLB photos from the game:

And this next set of MLB photos show Ruiz holding his glove and then the glove R.A. Dickey gave him to use in order to catch his crazy knuckle balls.  That glove is almost as big as Chooch!  There is also a nice shot of Papelbon and then more adorable Chooch getting a hug from the Nationals teenage rookie, Bryce Harper:

Melky Cabrera of the Cardinals got the MVP award for the game.  He had 2 hits, including a homer, and 2 RBI.  Some rare events occurred during the game, including 3 triples, 5 rookies playing in the game, and the first shut-out during an All-Star game since 1996, when the game was played in Philadelphia.

The biggest blunder of the game came from 19-year old Harper who lost a routine fly ball in the outfield, which eventually landed behind him.  He also got caught leaning too far off base in a fielder’s choice and was tagged out.

So now we wait until the Phillies return on Friday to see if they have any gas left to rescue their dreadful season.  Roy Halladay will make a rehab start tomorrow so, hopefully, that means he will be back very soon.

In the meantime, here is a fun blast from the All-Star past.  These are a few of my favorite All-Star photos from 2008.  The top one will never get old…it is Dan Uggla goosing Chase Utley to the surprise of many around them, as you can see by my marker edits.  Below that is Utley and Brad Lidge, who appear to be trying to club David Wright. And then there is Mike Schmidt standing up in a moving vehicle (next to Utley) during the All-Star parade to point me out and say hello.  I was one Phillies jersey in a sea of Yankees jersey’s so I was easy to spot and he was clearly excited to see a Phillies fan!  Utley yelled out to me right after that as well.  And yes, that was one of the highlights of my simple existence ;o)

By the way, I am hoping to have my video interview with Ryan Howard posted in the next few days, so stay tuned for that!

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2012 photos by MLB; 2008 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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