Results tagged ‘ Chase Utley ’

Final Game of 2014 – Mirror Image of Entire Season

The Phillies season ended today in the same fashion they played throughout the year.  There was no offense to be found and lackluster effort.  The Phillies were 1 run away from a win with the 2-1 loss to the Braves; pitcher Cole Hamels was 1 win away from double-digit wins for the season; and Ben Revere ended the season 1 base short of 50 stolen bases on the year.  Jimmy Rollins spoke before the game, telling fans, “Before we’re done this year, we’d like to say thank you for showing up.  We know it was rough, but hopefully we made you guys smile.”  Etch that on a tombstone and you have the Phillies 2014 eulogy.
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As is tradition for the last home game of the year, today was dubbed “Fan Appreciation Day.”  Players signed autographs and jested with fans cheerfully and prizes were given away.
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But I’ll tell you when I will feel truly appreciated; when the tickets prices go down to a level worthy of watching a last place team.  Don’t worry; I won’t hold my breath.

After all the happy exchanges, the game began and it was more of the same.  Poor Cole Hamels did not get even 10 wins this year thanks to an absent offense.  Adding insult to injury, Hamels had a team-leading 2 hits in the game but no one could drive him in.  He even got whacked on the face with a batted ball and suffered a minor bloody lip.  That about summed up his season.

The offense was so bad, players were literally throwing their bats away.  Chase Utley, Maikel Franco and Braves pitcher James Russell all tossed their bats mid-swing at different points in the game.  I guess they weren’t really using them anyway.
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And so ends a dreary Phillies season with little hope for quick recovery.  Oh sure, they fired Assistant GM Marti Wolever.  But all that really means in Ruben Amaro Jr. keeps his job.  And I guess more heads are going to roll, which is appropriate.  But how much difference will it make and when?  I hope to take a guess at answering some of those questions in the weeks to come.  In the meantime, here is my final 2014 Photo Album.  Here hoping for a happy off-season!

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Papelbon Implodes in Shocking Phillies Loss

The day started out so well.  It was sunny outside, people seemed happy…even Chase Utley was smiling on the field during warm-ups.  Anyone who follows this team knows what a rare moment that is.  It just seemed like a good day where a sweep of the Marlins was totally possible.  Heck, there was even breakdancing during the game!  It was all going well until the 9th inning…
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Before that frightening 9th inning, starting pitcher, David Buchanan pitched very well, allowing only 1 run on a solo homer through 6 1/3 innings.  Although, he did almost have his head taken off while attempting to bunt, which was a bit scary.
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But baseball carried on and the Phillies racked up hits, stolen bases and Ryan Howard even showed patience at the plate, drawing a walk in the 4th inning.
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I finally got to see Maikel Franco play in person.  He had an interesting day that included a broken bat RBI single where he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.  He also had this play at third where he bobbled the ball, recovered and still got the out:
091414 Franco

By the 9th inning, the Phillies had a 4-1 lead.  But then Jonathan Papelbon came into the game.  Granted, he has been mostly good all season.  And anyone can blow a save…it happens (unless it is 2008 and you are Brad Lidge).  When one blows a save however, that person should expect to get boo’ed.  In fact, that person should boo themselves for sucking on that occasion.  Instead, Papelbon decided to look into the crowd as he walked to the dugout and grab his crotch demonstratively in reply to the boo’s.  After the game, he said he was “adjusting” himself.  Really?  And he could not wait 10 more steps to do so?  I am not buying it.

His attitude just sucks.  And his response was way out of line.  After ejecting Papelbon for the gesture, umpire Joe West grabbed Papelbon by the shirt and shoved him.  I cannot wait to see the blow back from that…stay tuned.

So the Phillies will ride this smelly, stinky 4-5 loss all the way across the country to San Diego where they start a 4 game series with the Padres tomorrow.  For now, here is the Photo Album from today’s game which includes the happier moments.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies First Combined No-Hitter

Congratulations to Phillies pitchers Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon and catcher Carlos Ruiz on Monday’s combined no-hitter against the Braves.  It is the 12th no-hitter in Phillies history and the first combined no-hitter.  Altogether, there have been only 11 teams in baseball history to record a combined no-hitter.

2014.09.01 no hitter

One other fun note is that this is the 3rd no-hitter caught by Carlos Ruiz in his career.  He is ties for second all-time behind Jason Varitek, who caught four no-hitters for the Red Sox from 2001-2008.

Oddly enough, Hamels had what appeared to be one of his most difficult outings of the year, even though he did not allow a hit.  His pitches were all over the place and he walked 5 batters.  I am guessing this erratic performance completely confused Braves hitters.

Overshadowed in the 7-0 no-hit victory was a 5-RBI day for Ben Revere, who is now batting .310.  Jimmy Rollins had 3 hits and Chase Utley walked twice.  It was a nice day offensively, but the no-hitter took the front page news, as is appropriate.

So in an otherwise awful Phillies season, this was a very nice moment for the team and the fans.  Fans do have a little more fun ahead as September call-ups start streaming in.  It looks like Maikel Franco will finally get a shot in the Bigs.  We will also get our first look at Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, the Cuban righty that the Phillies spent a fortune on and, so far, have little to show for it.  Also, Mike Adams and Tony Gwynn Jr. will return.

I look forward to seeing the line-up for tonight’s game.  First pitch is at 7:10pm and Kyle Kendrick will pitch.  That is a nice gift to the Braves following the no-hitter.  Just sayin’…

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

A Phillies Miracle – They Win on a Sunday

The Phillies were beginning to give new meaning to the phrase “Day of Rest” after losing their last 9 Sunday games.  It has been less rest, and more of a coma.  But today a miracle occurred and they won a Sunday game, beating the Diamondbacks by a score of 4-2.  Yippee!

Roberto Hernandez had a very good day, allowing only 2 runs over 7 innings.  I should qualify that by saying he had a good day pitching because, have you seen this guy swing a bat?  He looks like a 3 year old holding a 20 pound piece of lumber.  At one point, he actually swung at a pitch after the ball was already in the catcher’s glove and the catcher was reaching in to take the ball out.  Seriously.  But hey, nice job on the mound, Roberto!  And thanks for the extra entertainment.
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The offense was kicked into gear by Ryan Howard, who is out to prove something after being benched for 3 games earlier this week.  He smacked a 2-run homer in the 1st inning; it was his first homer in Philly since June 1st.
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Howard was also involved in a home plate controversy later in the game.  After not immediately hustling around the bases on a Marlon Byrd fly ball, Howard finally sped up when the ball was dropped.  While he should have been out at home (by a mile), the out call was overturned on replay as the D-Backs catcher was blocking the plate.  While I am happy the Phillies got the run, I have to say this home plate no-collision / no blocking rule is utterly ridiculous.  No way should Howard have been safe, but he got by on a technicality.  Can’t we just go back to bowling over the catchers and be done with this silliness?

So the Phillies did go on to score another, non-controversial run as Wil Nieves scored on a double by Ben Revere.  And yes, the Phillies managed to win a game with only 4 hits, thanks to several D-Backs errors.  The Phillies defense was solid and kept them in the game.
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There were some other great non-baseball moments today, including armed services members being honored, as the Phillies do every Sunday.  But this one almost brought everyone to tears as a little boy was reunited with his mother after a deployment and video of the boy crying hysterically were shown on the big screen.  Kudos to the Phillies for a very touching moment.
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Here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The Phillies start a series in New York tomorrow against the Mets.  And the trade deadline is almost here…who will stay and who will go?  We shall see…

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Back to Reality as Nats Pound the Phillies

P7131631WDid you get your hopes up after that 5-game winning streak?  And the 5-game winning streak last month?  Well, today was a statement game for the Phillies in their last outing before the All-Star break.  And the statement, summed up in the nice photo to the right of Marlon Byrd getting hit by a pitch with nothing to show for it, was this: “We suck; let the trading begin.”

So just how bad was today’s game?  Let us count the ways…for starters, Kyle Kendrick apparently cannot get out of any 1st inning without allowing at least 3 runs.  And today he did that against the Nationals without recording a single out.  So we were treated to this lovely home run and tongue lashing by our old pal, Jayson Werth.
071314 Kendrick Werth

Later in the game, Kendrick was pulled after 88 pitches which, even though I have obvious reservations about KK, I felt was a big mistake in that spot. Kendrick had already struck out Bryce Harper twice in the game.  So why when Harper came up again was Kendrick pulled in favor of Mario Hollands?  Hollands proceeded to give up a single to him.  Harper scored later that inning and we got yet another Nationals treat, Harper’s hair rounding the bases.  Thanks, Mario!
071314 Hollands Harper

And then there was the Phillies offense, or lack thereof.  Most of the offense consisted of players looking straight up into the air to admire their pop-ups or looking down at foul balls.  It was not pretty.  In the end, they squeezed out 3 runs, but it was far too little, too late as the Nats scored 10 runs.
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Pretty much the only entertainment in this game was watching Byrd chug some mystery red substance before the game (5-Hour Energy, perhaps?  If so, it didn’t work well.) and watching Chase Utley dig dirt out of his cleats.
071314 Byrd Utley

Here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The Phillies will return from the All-Star break on 7/18/14 with yet another likely depressing series against the Braves.  Despite showing signs of life here and there, this team is going nowhere.  Now we must all brace ourselves for big changes…they are coming soon.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Braves Get Revenge with 4-Game Sweep of Phillies

Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies swept the Braves in a 3-game series in Atlanta.  This weekend, the Braves returned the favor and 1-up’d the Phillies with a 4-game sweep.  Ugh.  So for anyone holding out hope that the Phillies 5 game win streak on the road was a sign of life, you can wipe that thought from your mind.  No surprise…this team still sucks.

Rookie pitcher David Buchanan had an ok game, with 5 walks issued and 3 runs over 5 innings.  He has serious control issues.  A work in progress, I suppose…

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The entire game on Sunday was an exercise in futility.  The Phillies left 10 men on base and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.  There were many swings and misses and possibly the worst bunt ever in the history of baseball laid down by 4th string catcher, Koyie Hill.
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The real telling moment came in the 7th after Jimmy Rollins singled and Chase Utley singled for his 1,500th career hit (yeah!).  Ryan Howard stepped to the plate…weren’t we all thinking, here is the BIG 3!  Rollins, Utley and Howard…the former dream team.  If they cannot get it done, this team is doomed.  Howard then proceeded to hit into an inning ending double play.  And that, my Phillies friends, is this team in a nutshell.  They are toast.
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The defense was awful again, too.  Domonic Brown and Ben Revere both misplayed balls in the outfield, something that has become a regular and expected occurrence.  Justin DeFratus and Rollins both had errors in the game as well.
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The only bright spot was Marlon Byrd.  He hit 2 home runs, which were the Phillies only 2 runs of the game.  But really, all that means is his trade value just went way up.
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It is a bit depressing to be a Phillies fan right now, as stated by the semi-polite Braves fan sitting next to me.  All of the sun-baked babies in the stands concurred with their heat-exhausted whimpers as well.  Seriously…there were 3 babies in my section all under 6 months old literally baking in the sun as their moron parents paid no mind.  One kid had on nothing but a diaper…because apparently, sunscreen is invincible and protects against heat stroke too…magic!  Sorry I ran off on a tangent there…but please people, leave your infants at home in 88 degree temperatures!  That makes me insane…had to vent.

Anyway, here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The team is off on Monday and will go to Miami for a 3-game series starting on Tuesday night.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Finally, A Win!

Yes, miracles never cease.  The Phillies won a game last night!  About an hour and a half before game time, however, it did not look like a game would be played.  In Delaware just before Wilmington, the river overflowed and started to flood I-95.  Then it took me ½ hour just to pass through Wilmington as I-495 to Philly is closed, and will be possibly for a year (gasp!) due to a bridge problem.  Finally, I thought I was home free…then the heavy rain and floods came.

While contemplating building an ark, I inched down I-95 at about 15mph and struggled to see through my windshield.  There were accidents all over the place.  But the time I passed the airport in south Philly, I seriously thought I might not make it to the stadium as the water was so high on the road I might have floated away.  After I finally parked, I had to trek through water 6 inches deep, well above my ankles, just to get into the stadium, which was equally flooded.  But there was no way I was not getting my free Chase Utley bobblehead!

So I guess three miracles occurred last night.  I made it to the game without having to build an ark, the sun came out 20 minutes before game time and then the Phillies actually won.  Amazing!  A.J. Burnett had a relatively easy job though.  Only 1 batter in the Padres starting line-up was batting over .250.  And some were batting under .200.  This is a very bad team.
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Then again, so are the Phillies.  But the offense actually did score some runs, mostly thanks to Marlon Byrd who had 4 RBI on the night with a 3-run bomb in the 4th and a sac fly in the 6th inning.  Utley, Ryan Howard and Ben Revere each had 2 hits each and Utley picked up another RBI.  It looks like he intends to swing his way into the All-Star game again this year.  Utley is batting .318 with 31 RBI and 4 homers so far.
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But what is a Phillies game without an error?  Howard let an easy ground ball sneak right between his legs in the 1st inning.  Amazing.  The rest of the fielding was pretty good though.  Both Revere and Domonic Brown had impressive, diving grabs in the outfield, which was nice to see.
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And then Jonathan Papelbon earned his 300th career save, but he did not exactly do it convincingly.  Papelbon gave up 2 hits and then hit a batter to load the bases before finally recording 3 outs.

Also, before the game the Phillies signed their first round draft pick, Aaron Nola.  And rookie reliever Ken Giles, who was called up on Sunday, still has not gotten into a game.  And so we wait…

Here is the Photo Album from the game.  The Phillies play the Padresagain tonight at 7:05pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Offense Comes Alive Against the Reds

After a very long dry spell where the Phillies were shut-out in 4 out of 10 games, the Phillies offense finally woke up this weekend against the Reds.  On Saturday, they pounded the Reds by a score of 12-1 and Cole Hamels finally got win #100 of his career.  Then on Sunday, it was an 8-3 win that sent fans home happy.

Cliff Lee had an interesting outing, ultimately pitching 6.2 innings and allowing 2 runs.  After he walked the first batter of the game and gave up 2 runs in the 1st inning, it was obvious we were in for a battle.
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But immediately, the Phillies got those 2 runs back.  Jimmy Rollins and Will Nieves went deep with back-to-back homers to start the game in the Phillies half of the 1st.
051814 Rollins Nieves

The game remained tied until the 5th inning when Lee took matters into his own hands offensively, leading off the inning with a single. Rollins moved him over the second after Todd Frazier bobbled the ball at third and failed to throw Lee out.  Then Nieves dropped a sac bunt to move them over and Chase Utley knocked in Lee with a ground out to first.
051814 Lee offense

And the hits kept coming.  Marlon Byrd hit a solo homer in the 6th and then Cody Asche smacked a 3-run homer in the 8th to give the Phillies ample breathing room with an 8-2 lead.  Byrd, Asche and Nieves each had 2 hits in the game and Rollins and Ryan Howard each walked twice.  It was a full team effort at the plate.
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It was also the Phanatic’s annual birthday bash on Sunday, which added to the festive vibe with the powered-up offense, 4 home runs and 2 wins in a row!  Add a bunch of silly mascots, the Zooperstars and some dude who paints with his hands, and it was a real party.
Phanatic Bday

The Phillies are off tomorrow for the Phillies Phestival.  After that, they travel to Miami for a short 3-game series and then back home again.

In the meantime, here is the full Photo Album from the game and birthday celebration.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Phillies Take 2 of 3 From the Nats

The Phillies just barely squeaked out a 1-0 win over the Nationals today thanks mostly to great pitching.  Cole Hamels was scheduled to start but was unable to go as he has the flu.  So Roberto Hernandez, who had not gotten out of the 6th inning yet this season, filled it.

Hernandez was outstanding, going 7 1/3 innings without allowing a run to score.  When he first started to pitch, it looked like he would not be able to throw a strike as he walked 2 batters in the first inning.  But he settled down and wound up with 3 walks and only 4 hits allowed.
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The lone Phillies run of the game came in the first inning.  After a Jimmy Rollins triple, Chase Utley singled to score Rollins.  Utley had a very strange day.  After that RBI, he sprinted around the bases on a Marlon Byrd pop fly and got doubled up.  Maybe he forgot there was only 1 out?  And then later he committed an error in the field when he totally missed the feed from Jayson Nix at third on what may have been a double play.

But those blunders did not come back to haunt the Phillies luckily.  And that is a very good thing especially considering the Phillies only managed 4 hits in the game, including a Ben Revere triple.  They also had some very nice plays in the field, which helped.
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The weather was very interesting as well.  It was cold, very windy and bits and pieces of wrappers, bags and dust were floating around everywhere.  Some of the shadows in the field were brutal by the time the relievers came in too.
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My eyes were so dry, at one point, I thought maybe I was seeing things.  See the first photo below to the left…there are 3 guys there, right.  Nope…check out the 2nd photo on the right.  I guess Nix is just so small he blended right in.
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Check out the full Photo Album from the game for more interesting stuff.  There are very nice photos of Domonic Brown with his mother and VERY pregnant girlfriend pre-game during the Mother’s Day celebration.  I also took some photos of our old friend, Kevin Frandsen.  Miss him….sigh!

So a weird 2-game home and away series stars tomorrow with the Blue Jays; 2 games here and 2 in Toronto.  Game time Monday is 7:05pm and Kyle Kendrick will pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Lee & Burnett Leading the Way

The Phillies have taken the first 2 games in their series against the Dodgers in large part due to great starting pitching.  Both Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett have set an example for all Phillies pitchers and given them something to aspire to.  It has been a real treat to watch.

On Monday night, Lee went 8 innings, allowing no runs, 4 hits and striking out 10 baffled Dodgers batters.  Since his awful Opening Day start, Lee has been nearly unhittable.  And the intangibles he brings to the team are priceless.

This is a guy who never gets rattled.  His drama-free attitude and generosity towards fans has endeared him to all who observe how he goes about his business.  If you do not love Cliff Lee, go to the doctor and make sure your heart is still beating.
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And then there is one of the newest Phillies, A. J. Burnett.  Tuesday night he pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing only 2 runs on 6 hits and a walk.  He also had 3 hits in the game!  The week before that, he pitched 7 scoreless inning against the Braves.  And he did all of this while nursing a painful inguinal hernia.

The fact that Burnett is willing to play through the pain is admirable.  And as long as he keeps pitching well, I have no problem with this.  But he is not just tough, he is also quite the jokester, as witnessed after his first hit last night.  After Yasiel Puig attempted to throw him out at first all the way from right field, Burnett turned and motioned with his hands to Puig to settle down.  There is a great GIF of this on Philly.com.  You gotta love a man with a sense of humor.

The Phillies other ace pitcher, Cole Hamels, is set to come off the DL and pitch tonight.  Could the Phillies actually have 3 studs in a row once again?  And, although I hate to say this too loudly, this team appears to be mostly healthy…gasp!  Shhhhh!  Don’t tell the universe…too dangerous.

Have you also noticed the improvement on offense?  The big 3 there, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, are all hitting well.  And Ben Revere is heating up again, like he did last year before getting hurt.  The one thorn left in the Phillies side is the bullpen, which did actually hold up the last few games.  Keep your fingers crossed for that trend to continue.

If Lee, Burnett and Hamels can pitch like they are capable of, the bullpen will certainly benefit.  It starts with the starters.  Hamels gets his first shot in 2014 tonight at 10:10pm.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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