Results tagged ‘ Charlie Manuel ’

Blanton Bombs Against Red Sox

Now that Phillies fans have all gotten used to seeing Joe Blanton in top form, I suppose he was due to throw a clunker.  Blanton had only given up 2 home runs all year, but last night, he gave up 4 in just one game against the Red Sox.

By the middle of the 4th inning, the score was 5-1 and Blanton had also already made two huge fielding errors in the game.  Clearly, this was not his night.  So when Pete Orr was on deck in the bottom of the 4th to hit for Blanton, I thought, great idea!  Let’s get some more runs and let the pen have a shot at shutting down the Sox.

Imagine my dismay when, after Freddy Galvis smacked a 2-run homer, Orr was called back to the dugout and Blanton went out to hit!  Really?  Those 2 runs meant Blanton would suddenly snap out of his funk?  I think not…

And sadly, I was correct.  I get that manager Charlie Manuel did want to rely on what has been an unreliable bullpen.  But if there was ever a time to give them a shot to redeem themselves, this was it.  Blanton looked awful out there and the insanity continued in the 5th inning.

Only after allowing 3 more hits, including a 2-run homer, was Blanton finally pulled from the game, having recorded only 1 out in the inning.  Buried in a 7-4 hole, the bullpen did actually get the job done after that, not allowing another run to score.  But by that time, the damage was done and the Phillies scored only one more run.

The offense had changes, but luck did not go their way.  Carlos Ruiz, the teams hottest hitter, was robbed of what should have been a 2-run double in the 7th by Ryan Sweeney, who suddenly grew wings, flew through the air and snagged Ruiz’s hit out of the air.  It was an amazing play.

In the 9th, Ruiz was robbed again as he smoked a ball…unfortunately, it went right to the shortstop and was caught.  The ball was hit so hard that Hunter Pence had no chance to get back to first and was doubled up.  Bad luck, indeed…

Later, Shane Victorino popped out on the first pitch he saw with the bases loaded in the 8th.  And that was the end of the threat as the Phillies went on to lose by a score of 7-5.

There were some bright spots, like Galvis’ homer, making it 2 games in a row with a bomb.  And John Mayberry Jr. reached base all 5 times he stepped to the plate for the first time in his career.  Hector Luna also had a great night with 3 hits and an RBI.

But mostly, the good news is that the Phillies never gave up, even when it looked like the game was out of reach.  This is something that we have all been waiting for this season…a little extra fight even when they are down.

They have another shot at the Sox today.  If they win, the Phils will take the series.  Cliff Lee is pitching and I will return with photos!  Game time is 1:35pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Friday Night Smackdown: Philadelphia 2, Boston 0

Both the Red Sox and the Celtics were in town Friday night, which is something that does not happen very often.  Also a rare occurrence, both home teams came out on top…the Phillies beat the Sox, 6-4 and the 76ers took down the Celtics, 92-83 in playoff action.  The stars aligned in Philly for what was a special night.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had a great view of the game from the Hall of Fame club section as he served his one day suspension for a heated argument with umpire Bob Davidson on Tuesday.  Davidson was also suspended one game, even though he is the one who instigated the entire incident.  I felt like he should have gotten more…but hey, MLB suspending an umpire publically?  That is also something you do not see every day so we’ll take it.

An even bigger story last night was closer Jonathan Papelbon, who was looking forward to facing his old team.  He had many reason to be fired up, including the fact that after last season, the Red Sox did not even bother to offer him a contract.  But whether or not Papelbon was going to get a shot at revenge would depend on the rest of the team…

Cole Hamels did his part, winning 6 straight starts in games in which he earned a decision for the first time in his career.  He allowed 3 runs over 7 innings last night while striking out 9 batters.

Meanwhile, the Carlos Ruiz ridiculous hit parade continued with 2 more hits, 2 more RBI, another stolen base and a run scored in the game.  Hunter Pence is reaping the rewards of Chooch’s success; batting in front of Ruiz, Pence is getting better pitches to hit.  Pence homered in the game and had 2 hits total.  Freddy Galvis and John Mayberry Jr. each also had a hit and an RBI.

Chad Qualls came out of the pen for the 8th and right away cut the Phillies lead to 5-4 as he gave up a homer.  Luckily, the Galvis home run in the bottom of the inning gave Papelbon some breathing room in the 9th.

Then, as if it was scripted, Papelbon got his wish; a 2-run lead and a save situation in the 9th against his former team.  And just like a storybook ending, Papelbon got the save.  But as he noted after the game, he will got gloat until the Phillies win the 3-game series.

Game 2 starts a little late tonight at 7:15pm as Pat Burrell will retire before the game on a 1-day contract with the Phillies.  If you had not heard, a group of comedians (www.birdtext.com) recently made a video spoof which pokes fun at Burrell’s reputation with the ladies.  According to the model who stars in the video, Burrell saw the video and liked it so much, he invited them all to tonight’s game and even requested the tee-shirts they are selling to promote the video.  You can hear her interview on the Preston and Steve show here or at www.birdtext.com .

You have to see this….it is hysterical:

So remember, don’t let your mom, wife, sister, girlfriend or whoever get “Burrelled” tonight ;o)

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Polanco’s 2000th Hit Helps Phillies Win

The Phillies Monday night 5-1 win over the Astros was full of hopeful signs.  A little at a time, things are getting better for this team, which is currently still in last place in the NL East.

Starting pitcher Joe Blanton had another great outing, making us all wonder where this guy has been all these years.  He has transformed from Average Joe to “I have an ERA under 3.00” Joe.  Over 7 innings, Blanton allowed only 1 run on 6 hits and a walk.

Things got shaky in the top of the 8th when he allowed that one run via a solo homer and then gave up a single.  Manager Charlie Manuel, not wanting to ruin and otherwise great start, pulled Blanton and let the pen take over.  Blanton was visibly surprised at the move, but ultimately, it was for the best.              

In the meantime, the Phillies offense showed signs of life.  Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry Jr. remain hot at the plate, each collecting 2 hits on the night.  Rookie Freddy Galvis is finally catching on and had 3 hits plus 2 RBI.

But the best moment of the night came in the bottom of the 8th when Placido Polanco added his 2000th career hit in grand fashion.  The 2-run homer was probably the best situation he could have imagined for this milestone.  Congrats to Polly on this historic accomplishment!

And perhaps the back end of the Phillies bullpen is also getting into the swing of things.  Antonio Bastardo, Chad Qualls and Jonathan Papelbon combined to close out the 8th and 9th innings and secure the win.  Bastardo even provided his team with some comic relief as he hopped off the mound with enthusiasm thinking the inning was over when there were actually only 2 outs.  Bastardo grinned as his teammates poked fun at him while he sauntered back to the mound.

It is nice to see this team finally having some fun out there.  Winning certainly helps, but if they can keep their spirits up as well, that may go a long way towards digging their season out of the basement.

Game 2 with the Astros starts early today at 1:05pm.

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Offense Squanders Another Solid Halladay Start

Against the Padres Saturday night, Roy Halladay put forth another great effort.  Through 7 innings, he allowed only 2 runs while working in and out of trouble.  This was the Halladay we are all used to seeing.

Unfortunately, the Phillies offense was also the one we are all used to seeing recently.  John Mayberry Jr. and Freddy Galvis teamed up in the 2nd to score the Phillies only run.  Shane Victorino had 3 hits and a walk, but little to show for it as he kept getting stranded on base.

The Phillies loaded the bases a number of times in this game and got nothing out of it.  Hunter Pence was one of the worst offenders; he struck out once and popped up when there was only 1 out in the inning and a sac fly would have scored a run.  Ty Wigginton was just as bad.  He came up to bat twice with the bases loaded; he flew out once and grounded out once.

Pence, who hit .314 last year, has been awful in 2012.  When asked about it, Charlie Manuel told reporters, “Now, what we do about it, I don’t know. You wouldn’t call him a disciplined hitter. He’s unorthodox. He’s the kind of guy who, if he sees it and thinks he can hit it, he swings at it. Right now you’ve got to kind of accept that and hope he gets good balls to hit.”

Really?  The answer is to accept that he swings at crap pitches and pray he stops getting crap pitches?  At this point, pitchers do not ever have to throw Pence a strike…ever.  He will swing at anything.  If someone tossed a pitch to the top of City Hall, he’d probably swing at that too.

Tonight, the Padres even walked Victorino to load the bases with one out and face Pence instead.  Pence did not disappoint the Padres as he popped up the first crap pitch he saw.

If Manuel is looking for answers. here is one: bench him.  I like Pence; he seems like a quality guy.  But if he is hurting the team, he needs to sit until he learns some discipline.  Put Juan Pierre and Mayberry at the corners and give Pence time to think about it.

So it came down to a 2-1 deficit in the 9th, which for this team, has seemed to be almost impossible to overcome, especially late in games.  Could the Phillies pull off a come from behind win in the 9th against one of the worst teams in baseball?

Imagine asking that question just last year.  No problem, right?  This year, not so much.  So as expected, the Phillies went down in the 9th and took the 2-1 loss.  And you will never guess who struck out for the last out with a man on 3rd…Hunter Pence.

Game 3 with the Padres will be at 1:35pm Sunday and I will return with photos.  I’d also like to wish all the Mom’s out there a Happy Mother’s Day!  I am hoping the Phillies can make our day with a win!  If not, I suppose flowers will have to do ;o)

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Pence photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hitting Rock Bottom

You may have thought that the Phillies hit rock bottom days ago.  It was hard to imagine things getting much worse.  And yet, it did get worse.  After getting swept in 3 games by the Mets yesterday, I think we can officially say, here it is; rock bottom.

And it is not because they were swept by the Mets that this is rock bottom.  It is because of the manner in which they were beaten, or slaughtered, if you prefer a stronger term.  Murphy’s Law even entered the equation last night.  Anything that could go wrong did.

Through the first six innings, we saw a glimmer of hope.  The offense was hitting, Cliff Lee was pitching well in his first start off the DL; he even collected an RBI for himself.  But not wanting to push Lee too hard in his return, he was pulled after 6 innings.  From the time the 7th inning began, it was clear that the Phillies bullpen would pull out all the stops to LOSE the game.

Let me begin by saying I have never been impressed with Kyle Kendrick as a pitcher.  I am sure he is a fine human being, but his pitching usually leaves a lot to be desired.  He is inconsistent, he gets rattled easily and he wanders about with that awful, sad puppy look on his face.

And last night, he managed to impose the sad puppy face upon every Phillies fan watching the game.  With a 4-2 lead to start the inning, before he recorded a single out, Kendrick gave up a double, 2 walks and then hit the 4th batter to force in a run.  By the time the inning ended, the Mets had 3 more runs and a 5-4 lead.

But Kendrick was not done yet.  He gave up 2 more runs in the 8th without recording an out.  Jose Contreras helped him out and added a run of his own.  Then Brian Sanches gave up a solo homer in the ninth.  That is 8 runs out of the bullpen, 7 of them earned runs, which led to an embarrassing 10-6 loss.

The defense added to the humiliation as Shane Victorino dove for a ball which wound up flying right by him.  And Hunter Pence dropped an easy fly ball that was right in his glove.

Manager Charlie Manuel was so disgusted after the game, he finally ripped into the team.  Manuel said they needed to play better and prepare better.  The preparation bit is what was alarming.  Are these guys just strolling into the ballpark without getting ready physically and mentally?  That sure is what it seems like.

That would also confirm my theory that this team is not focused and an overall sense of complacency has set in.  Complacency or apathy could be occurring for a variety of reason including past success, arrogance about one’s abilities, off-field distractions, making a ton of money and the fact that many of these guys have already won the big prize.

While I would hate to think that about this Phillies team, the reality is that all of those factors may be playing a part.  As an example, you know who is the opposite of complacent?  A guy like Freddy Galvis, who is working his behind off.  Galvis was a homer short of the cycle last night, plus his defense and intensity are off the charts.  Why?  Because he has something to prove.  He is trying to stick in the majors, make a good impression and someday, get his payday.

Look around this team.  Are there guys who look a bit less focused than others?  You know how they say hitting is contagious?  Well, so is complacency.

I would say a number of changes are coming this team’s way in the very near future.  They have already sent reliever Joe Savery back to the minors.  Michael Schwimer went as well.  Here is what I think they should do:  If someone is not doing their job, like the entire bullpen, for instance, then bring in someone who will get it done or at least give you a complete effort.

I do not care if they stock this team full of rookies.  Because if they are going to suck, I’d rather see players out there who are giving it 100% and living up to their potential.  This team has spent way too much money on talented players to be this bad.  They need a shake up…fast.

Thursday is an off-day, which many of the players will spend at a Chase Utley charity event this evening.  But on Friday, the Padres come to town and they need to be ready.  Cross your fingers…

 

 

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Player photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Nagging Nats Pound the Phillies

As if Friday night’s gut wrenching loss was not enough, the Phillies stunk up Nationals park again today.  With only 5 hits in the game, the lone RBI came off a sac fly from Carlos Ruiz in the 4th inning.  If you fell asleep after that, you missed nothing.

By the 5th inning, I found myself wishing I had taken a nap instead as pitcher Vance Worley had his first really bad outing of the year.  The Nats pounded him for 5 runs on 11 hits and 2 walks over 6 innings.  The worst damage was done by former Phillie Jayson Werth who touched Worley up for a 3-run homer.  Werth sure did look a lot better in a Phillies uniform…

Joe Savery added 2 more runs in the 7th as the Nats kept on hitting.  Gio Gonzalez pitched for the Nationals and went 7 innings allowing just the one run.  Gonzalez is a former Phillies prospect that got traded away for Freddy Garcia before the 2007 season.  We all know how that trade worked out…Garcia won a single game and sat out the rest of the year enjoying the $10 million the Phillies paid him.

As most of us suspected earlier this season, the Phillies are in real trouble here.  Now 5.5 games behind the Nationals, if they fall too far behind, they may never recover.  And the Nats show no signs of going away anytime soon.

Game 3 starts at 8:05pm Sunday night.  Cole Hamels will pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Umpires Rob Phillies of a Run Who Lose In 11 Innings

When the umpires become the big story of a game, something is very wrong.  But that is what happened in tonight’s Phillies – Nationals game starting immediately in the first inning of an eventual 4-3 Phils loss.

With the Nats 19-year old newbie at the plate in the 1st, the home plate ump gave him a walk on a check swing that was not a check swing.  Even without replay, you could see that Bryce Harper’s bat did cross the plate.

Understandably, Charlie Manuel was upset.  Because not only was the strike obvious, but there was NO umpire at third to call it due to Joe West being ill.  As a result, the remaining 3 umpires were on the defensive right away.  Manuel had barely yelled a few words from the dugout when the home plate umpire tossed him from the game without hesitation.

So the Phillies lost their manager in the 1st inning and the umpire disgrace rolled further downhill after that.  With Shane Victorino on 2nd base in the 7th, Carlos Ruiz smashed a ball right over the 3rd base bag that should have been an RBI double.  But again, with NO umpire at third, it was ruled a foul ball.  Seconds later, Victorino stole 3rd base and was called out even though he was never tagged.  Remember, there was NO umpire to see this so I guess they just tossed a coin.

Ruiz singled right after that, but no run scored because Victorino had been called out erroneously.  Essentially, the umpires robbed the Phillies of the same run twice!

With 3 huge blown calls, the manager ejected and an RBI taken away from the Phillies, the umpires were not done yet.  Because during the next 1/2 inning, the idiot who called Victorino out was seen vehemently defending himself to Victorino as he ran out to center field.  He actually appeared to be yelling at Victorino as he waved his hands around for emphasis.  Seriously?  YOU blow a bunch of calls and have the nerve to yell at the player?  Disgusting.

Calls started going against the Nationals too, although not game-changing.  With the exact same situation as the 1st inning and Harper at bat again, he was called out on a check swing in the 7th.  This time, he actually did not swing.

My question is this:  WHY can MLB not afford an extra umpire for when this happens again?  If someone gets sick, you have a replacement.  If not, he can sit in the booth and HELP by watching replays on close calls.  Give the umpires earpieces or radios and have the 5th ump call down with the correct call.

Because isn’t the most important thing to get the call right?  Or does MLB think catering to umpire egos is more important?  And if they don’t like the 5th umpire idea, then you HAVE to allow replay.  Blown calls should NOT be affecting the outcome of a game in the modern era.  Was no one paying attention when Jim Joyce cost a kid a perfect game with a blown call?

I hope these idiot umpires go back and watch film of this game and see everything they screwed up.  But I guarantee you this; none of them will feel anywhere near as badly as Joyce did after his blown call.  That man at least had the class and humanity to admit his mistake.  But aside from Joyce, when no one is held accountable for their actions, this will never change.

Granted, you cannot put all the blame for this loss on the umpires.  The Phillies offense squandered chances.  But they should have had a 4-3 lead going into the 8th inning.  Instead, they took a 3-3 ballgame 11 innings, blew out their bullpen and lost the game once reliever Michael Schwimer had gone 3 innings and his arm was ready to fall off.

There is always tomorrow, of course.  But that does not make this one suck any less.

Game 2 – Saturday, 1:05pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Back in Philly; Back in Action

The Phillies returned home to play the 1st of 2 exhibition games on Monday night in preparation for Opening Day on Thursday.  I had a very nice seat 22 rows behind home plate, but sadly, my camera died a few weeks ago.  So I apologize in advance for the crappy photos I took with an old camera while the good one is getting repaired.

Joe Blanton started the game and actually looked pretty good.  His fastball had some zip which made his change-up effective.  He actually had a no-hitter going through 3 1/3 innings.  That may not seem like much, but considering he missed most of last season with a bum elbow, this is serious improvement.  The Red Phanatic agreed:

During the game, we saw some old faces, like Placido Polanco who appears healthy, Hunter Pence and Jimmy Rollins:

And there were many new faces, like Juan Pierre and Ty Wiggington.  Pierre looked good at the top of the line-up with a double and a stolen base.

But the big moment of the evening was Jim Thome’s first at-bat in his return to Citizen’s Bank Park.  He received a hearty ovation although he played it cool.

Before the game, I wandered the stadium looking for the “mystery” player sightings that were promised.  I found Juan Pierre playing a running game with some kids, John Mayberry Jr. signing autographs at the kids play area and David Herndon serving soda.

None of the players I ran into would sign autographs according to their body guards/escorts.  When I got home, I saw other guys on TV who did sign, like Cole Hamels and Charlie Manuel.  Hey Phillies…what’s up with that?  Even more annoying, Pierre was standing alone waiting to get in that running game when NO ONE except me recognized him…being the ONLY person to ask for an autograph, you’d think they would have let him do it for ONE person.  Same with Herndon…only one there…no autographs.

So thank God for Ricky Botallico!  The former Phillies closer not only signed autographs (for a LOT of people) but he asked me to take a photo with him!  That’s right…I did not ask.  He did.  I cannot remember the last time I saw any current or former player volunteer for a photo.  He made my day…Ricky, you are the best!

Here is the rest of my Photo Album from the game.  I hope to have a real camera again soon!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Too Soon to See Some Offense? Maybe Not…

Yesterday, Phillies beat writer David Murphy declared that is was “CMGPOATOD…Charlie Manuel Gets Pissed Off At The Offense Day.”  Apparently, the 4-4 game against the Tigers is what set off the usually good-natured Chuck.

Over the years, it has become painfully obvious that this team is not performing up to par on offense.  But it is still Spring Training, so why all the fuss?  I guess when you see non-roster invitees out slugging your regulars, even in spring training, this is not a good thing.

Stats matter very little in the spring.  However, the large gap in production between certain players can say a lot.  Also remember that the hitters are facing sub-par pitching for the most part, as the experienced pitchers are working out the kinks.

When you think of it that way, the lack of offense is a little worrisome.  The chart below shows hitting stats for Phillies players with at least 10 at-bats so far this spring.  Notice that the top hitters include mostly non-roster invitees…and Hunter Pence.

If Pence, the Phillies starting right fielder, can make the effort, then why can’t the other starters and regulars follow suit?  This deviation is probably sending Manuel the message that there is a lack of effort here.

Neither the games nor the stats count, which promotes a more relaxed approach.  But isn’t this relaxed period the best time to work on your hitting, rather than in the high pressure situation of a regular season game?  And that is exactly why Charlie wants to see more from his team this spring.

Go get em’, Charlie!

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The Phillies Night Before Christmas 2011

The Phillies Night Before Christmas

 

Twas the night before Christmas, when all over the field,

Not a player was stirring, as the 2011 season had been sealed.

The bats were stacked in the clubhouse with care,

In hopes that a Championship soon would be there.

-

The Phillies were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of trophies danced in their heads.

And Ruben with his new closer contract tucked under his cap,

Had just settled down for a long off-season nap.

-

When out in Charlie’s house, there arose such a clatter,

He sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window he stumbled, half asleep,

Having woke from a nightmare of his bullpen being taken deep.

-

The moonlight lit up the old ’08 trophy, causing it to glow

And gave the illusion of a night game on the grass down below.

When, what to his wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh filled with ballplayers in good cheer.

-

With his General Manager, ace pitchers in tow,

He knew in a moment it must be Ruben Amaro.

More rapid than the trade deadline, forward they all came,

And he grumbled, and shouted, and called them by name!

-

“Now, Utley! Now, Howard! Now, Rollins and Victorino!

On, Ruiz! On, Halladay! On, Pence and Polanco!

To the top of the National League! To the top of them all!

Now run away! Run away! And play some baseball!”

-

And then, in a twinkling, Charlie heard, “You The Man!”

From the shouting and cheering of each happy fan.

As he drew in his head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney J-Roll came with a bound.

-

He was dressed all in pinstripes, from his head to his foot,

Having tossed his old contract, which was tarnished, with ashes and soot.

But he arrived with a smile and Charlie gave him a pat on his back,

Surely the new 3-year deal would put this team right back on track.

-

J-Roll spoke many words, but getting on with his job,

He welcomed Jonathan Papelbon, whose new deal has him living high on the hog.

And with thunderous joy, the fans clapped their hands,

With a few shiny new toys, 2011 is sure to be grand!

-

J-Roll then sprang to the sleigh, and to his team gave a call,

“You guys are the best ballplayers of all!”

But Charlie heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,

“Happy HoLEEday’s to all and to all a good night!”

-

Re-wording & photoshopping by Jenn

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