Results tagged ‘ Chase Utley ’

Opening Day Slug Fest

The Phillies first game of the regular season began with a bang to the tune of 14 runs on 17 hits including 3 homers, one of which was a Grand Slam.  It was a record-setting day on many levels.

First, Phillies ace Cliff Lee allowed 8 earned runs and still got the win.  That is only the 8th time in MLB history that a pitcher gave up 8 runs in at least 5 innings and still won.  It is also only the 3rd time in history that happened on Opening Day.

Then in his first Opening Day start, Cody Asche ended the game just a triple short of the cycle.  With his parents looking on, Asche had a career day with 3 hits, 2 RBI including a solo homer, a walk and 4 runs scored.

But the biggest day record-wise was had by Jimmy Rollins who belted a Grand Slam in the 2nd inning, marking his 200th career homer.  That home run made him only the 19th player in baseball history to have 400 or more doubles, 100 or more triples and 200 or more home runs in a career.  He also tied a record with Cal Ripken Jr. for 14 consecutive Opening Day starts at shortstop with the same team.

Rollins may have had some extra inspiration yesterday as he is on baby-watch.  His wife Johari is expecting their second child any minute now.  Rollins stayed an extra day in Philly in case she went into labor and then joined the team in Texas on Sunday night, one day after the team arrived.

Records aside, many Phillies had big days in this game.  Both Chase Utley and Ben Revere had 3 hits, Marlon Byrd went 2-for-6 with a solo homer and Ryan Howard had 2 hits and a walk.  Maybe the biggest hit of the day, besides the grand slam, was a pinch hit 2-run double in the 5th inning by John Mayberry Jr.  In his first big move of the season, manager Ryne Sandberg had a gut feeling to switch Junior’s; Mayberry Jr. in place of Tony Gwynn Jr.  That double broke a 7-7 tie and propelled the Phillies to the win with some much needed momentum.

While I do not think the Phillies are going to score 14 runs again soon, this was an uplifting start the season.  Enjoy it!  Tonight, A.J. Burnett will make his Phillies debut; game time is 8:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Sandberg Signed; Phils Swept by Mets

It’s official – The Phillies announced today that Ryne Sandberg is no longer the “interim” manager.  He has been signed to a 3-year deal, with a club option for a 4th year.  With a new manager in place, everyone was smiling and laughing before the game.

But the smiles faded as the day wore on.  It is a shame the Phillies could not scrape out a win for Sandberg today; they got swept by the Mets in a 3-game series.

For the first 3 innings, Cliff Lee was so sharp, it looked like he may pitch a no-hitter.  But he ran into trouble in the 4th inning and allowed a run.  He wound up allowing 2 runs over 7 innings, which is still great, but only helpful if the offense does its part.

At the plate, the Phillies left too many runners on base (8) and went 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position.  There were a few amusing moments, like when Cliff Lee swung the bat so hard, it split in two, even though he did not hit the ball (see photo).  And Chase Utley apparently got a big chuckle out of the Mets pick-off attempt.

There were also many adventures in the outfield with balls played off the wall that could have been caught, Domonic Brown bobbling a ball which allowed an extra run to score and the Phanatic lost his shirt again.

And in the end, the Phillies could not muster a win.  I suppose that was a fitting end to the home games in a sad 2013 season.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game, including pre-game shots.

The Phillies go to Miami on Monday for the second-to-last series of the year.  Game time is 7:10pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Sweep Braves Behind Hamels and Ruf

An odd thing happened today.  The Phillies actually showed signs of life as they swept the division leading Braves in a 3-game series.  Inspired baseball is not something we have seen a lot of this year, so this game was a real treat.

On top of his game again, Cole Hamels pitched 8 innings, allowing only 2 solo homers, both of which were absolutely murdered off the bat of Evan Gattis.  The official word is that the 1st homer went 486 feet, which is a MLB record for the season.  Yikes!

But aside from Gattis, Hamels had few problems.

The Phillies scored two runs in the first inning, but could not seem to kick start a rally after that despite some base runners.

Actually, base running was a bit of an adventure on this day.  Jimmy Rollins stole a base, which was a plus.  But rookie centerfielder Cesar Hernandez got picked off right before that and then was thrown out later in the game because he hesitated going around second base.  He received a bit of coaching from Chase Utley in between innings (see photo):

The defense was solid and fans were oohing and ahhing again over Cody Asche, who made a few more spectacular plays.

With the game still tied in the 8th inning, the Phillies needed a spark.  Darin Ruf provided the juice, and the lead, with a solo home run, his 13th of the year.

The Phils went into the 9th with a 3-2 lead and, luckily, passed on Jonathan Papelbon who had blown a save the night before.  Papelbon also pitched 3 out of the last 4 days.  So instead, B.J. Rosenberg pitched a clean 9th inning for his first career save.

Here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game, including a bunch of pre-game photos.

The Phils are off tomorrow and will face the Padres on Tuesday at 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Chase Utley: A Phillie for Life

The Phillies made the official announcement yesterday that Chase Utley will be a Phillie for life.  They have signed him to a contract extension for 2-years at up to $27 million, with 3 option years that would max out the entire contract at around $75 million if he stays all 5 years.  He would be 39 years old in the 5th year.

There is some risk involved as Utley has battled serious knee issues over the years.  The 2nd year of the contract has a clause built-in which adds $5 million to his salary if he can avoid the disabled list.  Although the specifics of that are hazy, it appears that he can go on the DL once, but no more than that.  That does give the team at least a little insurance.

But Utley has not had any knee issues this year and his production is up.  He is also the leader of this team and a stellar example to all the young players of what being a major league player is all about.  That alone is worth keeping him around while the Phillies retool this beleaguered ball club.

There are so many reasons to be excited about Utley staying in Philadelphia that I cannot pick just one.  So here are a whole bunch:

He loves puppies and running through fields of flowers:

He is the Terminator:

Yet, he is also mysterious:

He plays the game hard and looks good doing it:

It looks like Chase has found just the right fit:

And thank goodness for that!

Congrats, Chase!  I am SOOOOOOO happy that you will be here for years to come!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Alumni Weekend and a Bashing from the Braves

Alumni Weekend for the Phillies is something for fans to look forward to each year.  Players of the past come back to be celebrated and adored once again.  This year, Brad Lidge retired as a Phillie; Curt Schilling was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame; and the 1993 NL Championship team was honored on their 20-year anniversary.

The following is a photo diary of Sunday’s events and, unfortunately, a few not-so-fun happenings from the Phillies 1-4 loss to the Braves.

Here is a photo of 1993 manager Jim Fregosi signing my championship pennant and another of the  joining the celebration:

Players of old joined current Phillies players at their respective positions prior to the game as the National Anthem was played.  Having the 1993 and 2013 players together was a very nice touch.  And Darren Daulton got a standing ovation for the 3rd consecutive day.  Surviving brain cancer surgery and being able to walk out onto the field with his friends was worth at least that, and much more.  It was great to see Dutch still fighting.

But the fun ended there.  Unless of course, you count the following events:  The top photo shows a camera man focusing in on Kevin Fransden’s rear-end.  And I can tell you, he lingered there for quite a while.  I want that job.

And the photos below the Frandsen camera-rape episode show that Dan Uggla still has a serious man crush on Chase Utley as he tries to get as close to him as possible during the game.  Remember my shocking 2008 All-Star photo of Uggla goosing Utley?  In case you do not, I of course included it here for your enjoyment:

And then there was the rest of the game, which was horrible.  The only events worth mentioning are the 2 times Braves players were caught in a rundown.  One ended peacefully, with Carlos Ruiz applying the tag.  The other was not so nice.  Total jerk Jason Heyward, rather than take getting picked off like a man, decided to ram Frandsen, sending him flying into the air.  I had nothing against Heyward (beside him being a Brave) until that moment.  That was completely unnecessary, especially with a 3-run lead and the Braves about to sweep the series:

If a picture paints a thousand words, then these shots speak volumes.  Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley look downright infuriated by the team’s current situation.  And manager Charlie Manual just looks defeated:

Defeated is a good word; it covers all of angles of this team.  They have been defeated literally, figuratively, emotionally and any other way you can think of.  The suspension of pitcher Antonio Bastardo today was just adding salt to the wound.

This is about as ugly as one can imagine for the Phillies.  The only thing they can hope for now is maybe to find some new, young talent in the coming weeks.  And perhaps they are also hoping for a quick end to this painful season.

Here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s events.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Dead Men Walking: The 2013 Phillies

In their 4th consecutive loss on Wednesday night, I do believe the Phillies finally rolled over and died.  They did not just lose 4 games, they were slaughtered in the ugliest and most painful manner possible.

Every problem this team has had this season was glaring in last night’s 3-11 drubbing, courtesy of the Cardinals.  It was a proverbial highlight reel of all that is wrong with the 2013 Phillies.  First, the starting pitching has been wildly inconsistent.  John Lannan had 2 solid outings in his last few attempts; but last night, he was run out of the game after only 4 innings with 4 runs allowed.  In the 4th inning, Lannan walked the opposing pitcher who then proceeded to steal second base and score after a single from the next batter.

Next, the defense was pitiful.  John Mayberry Jr. summed up 2013 defense with a Little League play in the 5th inning that allowed 3 runs to score.  He dove for a ball that he had zero chance at catching in the air, only to watch the ball sail past him into deep center field.

And then there was the awful bullpen performance.  J.C. Ramirez allowed 5 runs in one inning of work.  Jake Diekman added 2 more for the Cardinals in the 8th.

And how about that offense?  What offense, you may ask yourself.  Exactly.  The Phillies have scored 4 runs total in their last 3 games.

But the whipped topping on this sh@!! sundae has got to be all of the injuries.  Domonic Brown was pulled from the line-up with concussion symptoms.  Ben Revere, the hottest hitter in June and July, went down earlier this month with a broken foot due to a foul ball.  Ryan Howard is out with knee issues.  Roy Halladay is recovering from shoulder surgery.  And the list goes on…

The trade deadline is less than a week away.  If GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has half a brain, he will begin selling as many players as he can and give this team some hope for the future.  And if he wants anyone to attend games for the rest of the year, he should scratch Chase Utley, Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee off any possible trade list.  Anyone of the other veterans are fair game, in my humble opinion.

In the meantime, all we can do is wait for the hammer to fall…

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Phillies Head to All-Star Break at .500

It was a very weird weekend for the Phillies heading into the All-Star break today.  Sunday’s game commenced a 3-game series with the White Sox that included a postponed game turned into a doubleheader, during which another rain delay occurred.  All 3 games went extra-innings, with the teams playing 24 innings total in one day; each game on Saturday lasted exactly 3 hours, 53 minutes, excluding the 41 minute rain delay.  In the midst of all that, Ben Revere broke his foot by fouling a ball off it; he will be out for about 6-8 weeks.  Very sad news for the Phillies :O(

Sunday’s game went 10 innings, 3 hours and 26 minutes.  Jonathan Papelbon blew his 5th save of the year in this one, denying Cole Hamels yet another win.  But Hamels pitched very well, allowing just 2 runs over 8 innings, which is what kept the Phillies in line for the win.

The offense started strong, but sputtered again later in the game, which has become a pattern with this team.  Still, they managed enough runs to get by.  Hamels, in addition to pitching well, led the team in hits with two; he also had a fabulous sacrifice bunt and a crucial RBI in the 4th inning.

The defense was a bit better on Sunday, although Chase Utley still had a blunder.  Luckily, no damage was done.

The only real damage was Papelbon’s blown save.  However, his teammates got him off the hook.  Utley redeemed his previous fielding error by leading off the 10th inning with a double.  And John Mayberry Jr., getting playing time since Revere is on the DL, singled the winning run in for a 4-3 victory.

Prior to the game, the Phillies All-Star’s, Cliff Lee and Domonic Brown, got their jerseys:

This win was a nice way to send them off to New York and finally put the Phillies at the .500 mark.

The Phils are now 6.5 games out of 1st place and a half-game behind the 2nd place Nationals.  But whether or not they can make a run at the playoffs still seems like a long shot after watching their struggles against a last place White Sox team this weekend.

In 3 games, they left 25 men on base and went 6-for-28 with runners in scoring position.  In Saturday’s 1st game loss, the Sox practically handed the game to them.  But with runners on 2nd and 3rd and no outs in the 9th, they failed to score.  That just cannot happen.  Similar situations played out in the 10th and 11th innings with the same result.  It was gut-wrenching; very difficult to watch.

Now with Revere gone and the bullpen situation still tenuous, there is no way to know how the 2nd half will play out, but the odds are certainly stacked against the Phillies.

While we all wait and see, here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  Enjoy!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Squeak Out Series Win Over Nationals

With a 3-1 win on Thursday night, the Phillies managed to just barely squeak out their 3rd win in the 4-game series with the Nationals…and it was not without drama, as usual.  Even with 4 errors in the game, somehow, this team found a way to win.

Of those 4 errors, 3 belonged to Chase Utley.  He was so off-kilter in the field, one may have wondered whether or not someone spiked his Gatorade.  But he did have a hit in the game and also ran the bases well, scoring a crucial run in bottom of the 8th inning.

The real heroes of the night however, were Darin Ruf and Kevin Frandsen…again.  Ruf started off the 7th inning with a double off the Nat’s lone All-Star, Jordan ZimmermanCarlos Ruiz bunted him to third and then, Mr. Clutch, Kevin Frandsen stepped to the plate.  Frandsen smacked a double into no-man’s land in right-centerfield to score Ruf and give the Phillies their first lead of the night.

In the midst of all that, Kyle Kendrick managed to pitch a very solid 7 innings, despite all the fielding errors and the lack of run support.  And then both Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon broke recent routine and pitched one drama-free inning a piece to nail down the win.  It was as if the stars had finally aligned….

But even after taking 3 of 4 from the Nats, and 2 of 3 from the Braves, the Phillies still have a lot of work to do.

Slightly off topic here, did anyone else see the interview with Darin Ruf that aired a few days ago on CSN Phillly?  He was asked why his offense has improved since being called up.  While I cannot find a video of this anywhere (and there may be a reason for that), he said basically that he was taking advantage of the “detailed scouting reports” that were available in the majors, but not in the minors.

Here is my question – do they seriously not have scouting reports in Triple-A?  Or perhaps they have generic, inferior reports?  Either way, am I the only one who thinks this is a major problem?  You cannot tell me this organization cannot afford to pay someone to produce minor league scouting reports.  Heck, I’ll do it for a very modest paycheck and some free baseball!

Just sayin’…  Thoughts anyone?

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Rumor Mill Begins to Turn…

The Phillies have done themselves no favors during the first half of the season.  Their mediocre play has left them in 3rd place in the NL East and 9.5 games out of first.  Losing 3 out of 4 against the Dodgers this past weekend did not help their case either.

And so the rumor mill begins to turn with names like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon in the mix.  If the team does not pick up their play significantly in the next few weeks, this could signal the end of an era.  It is hard to envision a Phillies team without Utley or Rollins, but that may soon be the reality.

The most persistent rumor recently has the Red Sox making a run at 3rd baseman Michael Young.  The Phillies signed Young as basically a 1-year rental, so his departure would not be surprising.  Utley is in the last year of his contract, so losing him is also a possibility, although not one that most people would be very happy about.

Utley may be the most beloved player in franchise history.  If the Phillies trade him, they run the risk of alienating a large portion of their fan base.  This is guy who blurted out the F-word on national television, not once, but twice, and people still say he can do no wrong.  That is a powerful show of affection, especially in a city like Philadelphia.

Rollins, on the other hand, may not be missed quite as much.  While he is the longest tenured active Phillie and a former MVP, Rollins still has that magical ability to piss people off.  He has made derogatory comments in the past about Philly Fans and he has been criticized for a lack of hustle.  More recently, Rollins said he was “not disappointed” with the team’s 1-3 performance in Los Angeles this past weekend.

While Rollins has a point, that being he believes the team will overcome, it still rubs some people the wrong way.  Personally, I like Jimmy.  He speaks his mind and I respect that.  So seeing him in another uniform would be quite a shock.  It would not, however, induce the same type of freak-out that losing Utley would.

On Tuesday night, the Phillies pulled out a 3-1 win over the best team in baseball right now, the Pirates.  That is still weird to say…  However, even that win may not help quite the trade rumors.  A sweep of the Bucos might be helpful, but even in a win, the Phillies still have some very obvious, glaring problems.

The bullpen, for example, is a huge mess.  It took 3 pitchers who combined to load the bases to get the Phillies through the 8th inning last night.  It did work out, but could have easily ended in disaster.  The offense is getting better, but they are still not hitting consistently with runners in scoring position.  And the defense is very shaky; Delmon Young dropped a routine fly ball last night which is a prime example of the issues on the field.

All we can do now is hold our collective breaths, wait and hope the Phillies can pull out a string of convincing wins before the All-Star break.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Lose Series to Mets

The Phillies completed an embarrassing weekend series against the Mets today with a 0-8 loss.  They lost 2 of 3 in the series and the only reason they won on Saturday was due to another Kevin Frandsen miracle in the form of a walk off homer after the team blew a 7-1 lead.

In his second start since coming off the DL, John Lannan struggled to get through just 5 innings, allowing 4 runs on 3 walks and 8 hits.  Below is a photo of Lannan pitching and another photo I took today which seems to express how Lannan felt his outing went:

In the top of the 5th inning, the Mets had some extra help against Lannan in the form of creative umpiring.  Ben Revere caught a fly ball, took a few steps with it securely in his glove and as he transferred the ball to his hand, it slipped to the ground.  The runner was allowed to advance to third and was called safe.

In the official MLB rules, a catch is defined as follows: “If the fielder has made the catch and drops the ball while in the act of making a throw following the catch, the ball shall be adjudged to have been caught. In establishing the validity of the catch, the fielder shall hold the ball long enough to prove that he has complete control of the ball and that his release of the ball is voluntary and intentional.  Rule 2.00 (Catch) Comment: A catch is legal if the ball is finally held by any fielder, even though juggled, or held by another fielder before it touches the ground.”

Revere had the ball long enough to be a catch.  Manager Charlie Manuel argued to no avail.  That was the turning point of the game as 3 runs scored right after that call.  Here are a few shots of the event:

Of course, the Phillies offense was no help at all either.  There were many bewildered looks at the plate, swings and misses and various other miscues.  Every mistake seemed inflated as they began to pile up; much like Ryan Howard’s inflated back side as a result of my viewing angle and his standing next to Chase Utley:

See, even in a 0-8 rain-soaked loss, I still managed to have a small bit of fun ;o)

J.C. Ramirez had some fun as well; he made his major league debut and struck out all 3 batters he faced.  Sadly though, the fun ended there.

The team starts a West Coast road trip tomorrow in San Diego.  In the meantime, here is the Photo Album from today’s game, including a Cole Hamels pre-game bullpen session and pitcher warm-ups.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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