Results tagged ‘ Charlie Manuel ’

Record-Setting Night Highlighted by Solid Pitching

There was an awful lot going on in last night’s 1-0 Phillies win over the Marlins.  And it all began with just the second pitch of the game which Jimmy Rollins sent screaming over the right field wall for the 41st lead-off homer of his career.

That turned out to be the only run of the game, which was also a record-setting game for Rollins.  He picked up his 1,731st game at shortstop, making him the leader in games played at that position for the Phillies.  J-Roll passed friend and former manager Larry Bowa to snag the record.

It was also a record setting night for manager Charlie Manuel.  With the victory, he notched his 700th win as the Phillies skipper.  And that win was punctuated by the decision he made to give Kyle Kendrick one more shot at a starting role.  Everyone, including Manuel, has been frustrated by the way Kendrick has pitched lately, so this moved seemed chancy.

The gamble paid off though.  Manuel had a heart-to-heart with Kendrick before the game that seems to have motivated him.  We all know Kendrick can pitch; the problem is he is never consistent.  One day he is great, the next start, he is awful.  But as is Manuel’s style, he sticks with his players.

Kendrick rewarded Manuel’s loyalty with 7 strong, scoreless innings against the Fish.  He gave up only 5 hits and did not walk anyone.  The real question now is, can he repeat this in his next start.  We shall see…

So the Phillies went on to win with only the Rollins solo homer supporting them.  This win ensures another series victory for the Phils who are slowly rounding back into non-last place form.

They could sweep the series with another win today in Miami.

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Photo 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

Phillies Stomped Upon by Giants

For two consecutive games, the Phillies have gotten totally crushed by the San Francisco Giants.  The 7-2 stomping on Friday and 6-5 10-inning loss on Saturday were just a few more blows to an already deflated team sitting at dead last in the NL East.

On Friday, Vance Worley was great for just over 4 innings…then he suddenly stunk, giving up a grand slam in the 6th.  For the Giants, Tim Lincecum magically returned to Cy Young form after a horrible season.  He had a 5.93 ERA entering this game; but apparently facing the Phillies is the cure for any pitcher in the midst of a 3-month slump.

The best news to come out of that game?  Lincecum embarrassed himself early in the game by walking off the mound with only 2 outs recorded.  He grinned once he realized the error to the great pleasure of all in attendance.  Hey Tim, thanks for the 2 seconds of joy which was followed by hours of agony…

The agony continued into Saturday as Cole Hamels gave up 5 runs to the Giants in 7.2 innings.  While he had some issues on the mound, he did hit his first career home run.  The joy of that moment was quickly tempered by the 3 homers he gave up, including one to the Giants pitcher, Matt Cain.

The Phillies bullpen issues have reached critical mass.  Manager Charlie Manuel does not trust then anymore so Hamels got left in the game too long for a career high 128 pitches.  Then instead of going to long-man Kyle Kendrick either in that inning or in the 10th, Jonathan Papelbon was forced to go 2 innings and gave up the winning run to the Giants with 5 fresh arms sitting in the pen.

What this amounts to is this: The Phillies 2012 season is a total bust.  Hamels may never pitch for the Phillies again.  With the salary situation nearing the luxury tax, the Phils may also start dumping player not named Hamels.  Ugh.

It is not a pretty picture, folks.  I will be at tomorrow’s game attempting to get prettier pictures ;o)  Wish me luck…

 

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Photo 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

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

What’s Happened to Cliff Lee?

What in the world is going on with Cliff Lee?  Has he been abducted by aliens and replaced with a look-alike?  Maybe the aliens are trying to clone him for their big MLB invasion plan.  But this guy they left behind is not fooling anyone.  This is not the Cliff Lee we have come to know.

Lee has allowed 20 earned runs in his last four games, including 6 tonight against the Miami Marlins.  He only made it through 4 2/3 innings before getting the hook.  Lee looked so bad, that manager Charlie Manuel actually pulled him when the next batter scheduled to hit was the opposing pitcher.  Ouch.

And it has not just been the last 4 games.  Lee has been up and down all year, with a trip to the DL for a sore oblique thrown in the middle.  So what exactly has happened to this 3-time All-Star and Cy Young award winner?

It seems clear that the only person who can answer that question is Cliff Lee.  And right now, he does not seem to have a clue either.

This is now 13 starts for Lee in 2012 without recording a single win.  It appears someone has stolen his mojo.  Anyone have a self-help book we can toss at him?

But Lee’s season has paralleled the Phillies season as a whole.  It has been a real head-scratcher all around, laden with injuries and disappointment.

The Phillies went on to lose their 3rd straight game tonight, which was a combination of Lee’s performance and a non-existent offense.  The only Phillies run of the game through 8 innings was a solo homer by Hunter Pence.

To recap, Chase Utley is back and the Phillies have not won a game since.  Ryan Howard is on a rehab assignment and will be back soon.  But if the pitching continues along this dreadful path, none of it will matter.

So please, little green men, we are begging you!  Return the real Cliff Lee to us before it is too late!

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Lee Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Chooch Leads Phillies to a Big Win

If someone had told me that by the end of June this season, Carlos Ruiz would be leading all of baseball in batting average, I may have checked to see if that person was running a fever.  Chooch has always been a good player; but he has never been .361 with 10 home runs-good.  The 10 homers, including one in last night’s 5-4 win over the Pirates, is a career high.  And it is only June…

So yes, Chooch leads everyone in batting average with .361.  That is better than past MVP’s Joey Votto and Josh Hamilton.  Ruiz has also outhit fellow catchers and All-Star voting leaders Yadier Molina and Brian McCann. Soooooo….VOTE FOR CHOOCH!  We have until Thursday to get him to the All-Star game!

But even if that fails, manager Charlie Manuel told reporters yesterday that he plans on calling Tony La Russa, the NL All-Star team manager, to plead the case for Chooch.  Manuel always sticks up for his players, but especially in this case, Ruiz really deserves the honor.

Chooch put his stamp all over last night’s win.  He went 3-for-4 with a homer and 2 RBI.  And while catching, Ruiz saved two runs from scoring by blocking the plate and tagging out the runners.

The biggest of those plays came in the 7th inning after starter Vance Worley got into a real jam.  With no outs, 2 runners on base and 1 run already across, Worley was removed and rookie Michael Schwimer took over.  Schwimer coaxed a ground out and then a short fly ball to left.  One the fly ball, John Mayberry Jr. made a great throw home, which Ruiz caught and tagged the runner for an inning-ending double play.

That play kept the Phillies lead intact and Chooch’s subsequent homer added to that lead.  The home run he hit in the 8th turned out to be a game saver as closer Jonathan Papelbon struggled in the 9th, allowing a solo homer.  But the Ruiz blast made the difference in the 5-4 win.

The Phillies have now won 2 of the first 4 games against the Pirates, which is great news; because tonight’s 7:05pm game is going to be started and finished by the Phillies bullpen.  The rainout on Friday forced a juggling of the pitching staff, leaving them 1 starter short this week.  So Raul Valdes will start the game and likely pitch 3 innings, passing the ball on to the rest of the pen after that.

And while you are watching the game, do not forget to VOTE FOR CHOOCH!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Double Disaster as Phillies Lose Two Against the Rays

The Phillies managed to spend only one day out of the basement in the NL East after Saturday’s win.  But Sunday’s twin killing against the Rays propelled them right back to where they apparently belong; in last place.  When your two best starters are pitching and you still lose both games, things have clearly gone very, very wrong.

In the first game, Cole Hamels was practically unhittable.  He did not allow a run over 7 innings and gave up only 3 hits.

Leaving the game with a 1-0 lead, the bullpen was going to have to pitch 2 clean innings.  And as you probably already know, that did not happen.

I try not to say too much about how Charlie Manuel handles this team.  Because frankly, what he has been given to work with is on par with a minor league team.  But after Antonio Bastardo walked 2 batters in the 8th with just a 1-run lead, he should not have been allowed to continue.  Bastardo was awful the day before and clearly, he still has not found proper command of his pitches.  So why then is he left in to pitch to Carlos Pena?

Apparently, he was left in to clear the bases for the next pitcher as he gave up a 3-run homer to Pena.  I saw that coming, as did everyone in my section screaming, “Take him out!”  But Manuel puts blind faith in these guys even when it has become obvious to everyone else that the leash has gotten far too long.

Then again, look at the players Manuel has to choose from.  The pickings are slim.  This bullpen just sucks, so in that regard, it is still hard to blame the manager.  I still don’t agree with the decision to leave Bastardo in, but I am also glad I was not the one having to make that decision.

And then in the 8th with 2 outs and the bases loaded, Manuel left Michael Martinez in to bat instead of pinch hitting.  Martinez is hitting .133 and could not hit the broad side of a barn right now.  After the game, Manuel told the media that neither Juan Pierre nor Mike Fontenot were hitting lefties well, so he left Martinez in.  The issue with that is, Martinez is not hitting ANYONE right now.

Angry at the media for asking, Manuel suggested the reporters should tweet him with their in-game decisions saying, “You guys can float the information down there to me, being as I ain’t smart enough to get it.”  Oh my…

Here are a few other random shots from the 1st game, which the Phillies went on to lose, 3-2.

In game 2, Cliff Lee basically squashed any shot he may have had at his first win of the season by allowing 5 runs over 7 innings.  His last 3 starts have been awful.  Where did our ace go?

Perhaps the strain of not having a win has finally stolen whatever small amount of sanity he had left?   No one really knows what is going on here.

Placido Polanco tried to get this team going.  He went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI and a walk.  John Mayberry Jr. also had a big hit and an RBI.  And it was apparently “opposite day” for Hunter Pence who drew 3 walks in the game.

But the offense literally ended there.  The Phillies managed only 4 hits and left 6 men on base.

And just so Lee did not feel singled out in this one, some of the rookie pitchers decided to help out with 5 walks, a wild pitch and 2 more runs for the Rays in one inning.  It looks like B.J. Rosenberg’s major league career may be over before it began.  He was responsible for all that damage except 1 of the walks.

Adding insult to injury, catcher Brian Schneider was leveled at home plate by Sean Rodriguez coming in to score.  He left the game with a sprained ankle.  Later, Pence almost took out the Rays catcher in a weird semi-collision with Jose Molina’s outstretched leg.

Schneider is now on the DL and the Phillies went down for the count in a 7-3 loss.

Here are the Photo Albums from both games: Game 1: Hamels start, Game 2: Lee start.

The Pirates come to town next for a 4-game series starting tonight at 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Lose 5th Straight in Horror Movie Style

You know how when you are watching a scary movie you sometimes get really uncomfortable and have to cover your eyes?  Watching the 2012 Phillies has been a lot like that.  This is not your average B-movie either.  It is a full-fledged, $175 million dollar blockbuster horror show.

The terror continued last night in a dreadful 6-5 defeat against the Dodgers for the Phillies’ 5th straight loss.  This mostly powerless offense actually had 3 home runs in the game and they still lost anyway.  It does not get much more frightening than this.

Bloodcurdling screams could be heard from fans in the stands when Kyle Kendrick blew a 4-2 lead in the 6th inning.  Kendrick continued his Jekyll and Hyde routine, going 5.2 innings with 5 runs allowed.  When Kendrick steps on the mound, you never know if you might get good Kyle or evil Kyle.  And just when you think good Kyle might prevail, a masked man yielding a hatchet emerges from the darkness and…

Oh, sorry, I forgot I was watching a baseball game for a minute and not a “Friday the 13th” marathon.

Although, the horror show theme did keep creeping up rather consistently throughout the game.  In the 5th inning, we watching Freddy Galvis solemnly walk to the dugout in the middle of his at-bat.  He is now on the DL with a back strain, probably the result of an amazing, leaping and slightly backwards catch he made earlier in the game.

Then in the 6th, as Kendrick was blowing the lead, he added to the terror by walking a run home.

In the 8th, Hunter Pence grounded into a double play to end the inning.

The final horror came in the 9th as Jim Thome stood at home plate and watched strike 3 go by.  Then Brian Schneider popped out to end the game.

Charlie Manuel said it best during a post-game interview.  “Everything about our team is kind of whacked up,” Manuel said afterward.  No kidding.

The Phillies have one more shot against the Dodgers this afternoon to attempt to avoid total and utter humiliation.  Cole Hamels is pitching, but even that no longer inspires confidence.  The Phillies are now going to be on their 3rd string 2nd baseman and have half a minor league team playing in the majors.  The offense is terrible and the light at the end of tunnel is growing dimmer after each loss.

Come to think of it, maybe watching a horror movie instead is not such a bad idea at this point.  At least we know that is make-believe.  The Phillies are far too real right now.

Game time is 1:05pm today if you really feel the need to watch the disaster continue to unfold.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Wikipedia Appears to Side With Ruiz on Ejection

In last night’s 5-2 loss to the Nationals, Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz was thrown out by umpire Gary Cederstrom in the 3rd inning for looking at him.  According to reporter Jim Salisbury, Ruiz did not cuss, yell or even say anything offensive.

Manager Charlie Manuel stated, “[Ruiz] said he just told the umpire, ‘That was a strike,’ and when he looked up at him he threw him out of the game,” Manuel said. “When I went out there, the [umpire] said, ‘He was looking at me and I threw him out.’ “ So, he was tossed for making eye contact?  Does Cederstrom think he is the Queen of England or something?

Apparently, the nice folks at Wikipedia seem to agree.  If you look at the screen shot below, the line at the bottom says, “On May 22, 2012, Cederstrom threw Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz out of the game for arguing balls and strikes because everybody paid good money to see Gary Cederstrom throw people out.”

I added the screen shot because I was not sure how long it might be before Wikipedia decides to take the comment down.  Or perhaps everyone there has a great sense of humor and will let the record stand as it is?  It is pretty funny.

Roy Halladay also commented on the issue, as noted in Salisbury’s article. “I didn’t see anything wrong with what [Ruiz] did,” Halladay said. “He didn’t get in his face. He didn’t use obscene language. He simply said it was a strike. I’ve never seen one like that before. It’s unfortunate. He’s our best player and he got run out of the game for saying a ball was a strike. I’ve never seen that before.”

These umpires and their mega egos are simply out of control.  This behavior is, or at least it should be, totally unacceptable.  Will MLB respond?  Doubtful.

As for the game, it sucked just as bad as the previous one.  The Phillies offense went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left 9 men on base.  And Halladay had another bad game, giving up 5 runs in 6 innings.

The clock is ticking…if this team does not find a way to win really quickly, they could wind up buried in ahole they cannot climb out of.  Game 3 with the Nats starts at 7:05pm tonight.  It will be a Cole HamelsBryce Harper reunion ;o)  Joy.

UPDATE: I was correct; Wikipedia has taken the comment off the page.  Good thing I took the screen shot ;o)  Funny stuff!

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