Results tagged ‘ Chase Utley ’

Indians Annihilate Phillies With 7 Home Runs

After 3 straight solid starts, things seemed to be looking up for Roy Halladay.  That all changed last night when he got scalped by the Indians.  The Tribe took Doc deep 3 times; all 3 times there was a man on base.  Those 6 runs, plus 2 more, chased Halladay from the game after only 3 2/3 innings.  His ERA is now 6.75.  Ouch.

But the pain did not end there.  Chad Durbin and Raul Valdes each gave up 2 home runs each in relief.  More accurately, it was the exact opposite of “relief”…agony.

That was 7 home runs total for the Indians, 5 of which were 2-run bombs.  Those guys that hit the 2 solo shots should be ashamed.  Clearly, they are underachievers.

Seriously, this game was painful to watch.  It was so painful that I actually began paying more attention to the commercials than to the game.  And when my mind begins to wander, strange things can happen.

For example, I began to wonder who would win a fight between Jan, the Toyota spokesperson and Flo, the Progressive Insurance chick.  Both are equally annoying, but Flo has a clear advantage as the game was being played last night in Progressive stadium.  Hmmmm…

Bad Phillies games are simply not good for my brain.

There was one small tidbit of good news last night.  Delmon Young was activated off the DL and finally joined the team as the DH last night.  Looking as if he were determined for fans to like him, he began his Phillies career with a home run in his first at-bat.  Young went 2-for-3 on the night and was also hit by a pitch.

But the good news ended there.  Chase Utley hit a solo homer and that was the end of the scoring for the Phils.  The 2-14 final score looked more like 2 touchdowns and a safety than a baseball score.  And the way the Phils were beat up also resembled a football game, minus all the concussions.

Although, after sitting through those 9 innings of torture, I feel like I have a concussion; or some minor brain damage, at least.  Ugh.

Today is another day though.  And tonight, Cliff Lee will face his old team for the first time in his career.  Hopefully, some of that old Cy Young magic still resides in Progressive stadium for Mr. Lee.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Hamels Gets 1st Win as Chooch Returns for Sweep of Mets

Perhaps it is fitting that Cole Hamels did not get his first win of the season until the day Carlos Ruiz returned from a 25-game suspension.  Throughout the weekend, the Phillies suddenly began to show signs of life.  Maybe a lot of that had to do with the anticipation of Chooch’s return.

After losing 3 of 4 to the Pirates, the Phils proceeded to storm New York and sweep the Mets in 3 games.  Kyle Kendrick shut them out on Friday and Jonathan Pettibone collected his first major league win on Saturday.  Then Sunday afternoon, Hamels held the Mets to 1 run to complete the sweep.

While Ruiz did not have a huge impact on the game, going 1 for 4, his mere presence did seem to have everyone in high spirits.  The game was tied 1-1 going into the 7th; in previous games, this lack of offense would have had the entire team tied up in knots, pressing at the plate.  But today, everyone was a little more relaxed.

That 7th inning was the key; Laynce Nix came through again as a pinch-hitter with a 2-out single and Jimmy Rollins followed with a single of his own.  Then Ryan Howard, who did not start the game, smacked a 2-run, pinch-hit double to put the Phillies on top.  Chase Utley singled to score Howard and add to the lead.

Even the bullpen finally looked normal.  Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon each pitched a scoreless inning to nail down the 5-1 win.  This is the team we have all been waiting to see.  The question is, can they keep the momentum going?

Monday is an off day and Tuesday, the Phillies will be in Cleveland to take on the Indians at 7:05pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Drama Ensues in Phillies Win Over the Cards

A 7-3 win for the Phillies over the Cardinals on Sunday night ended the series with each team taking 2 out of 4 games.  It was a very long game, on a very cold night with a virtual buffet of interesting and weird happenings.

It all began with the Phanatic’s birthday bash/movie premiere (Time Traveling Phanatic DVD) which was highlighted by faux Hollywood stars and actors from the movie.  I am sure all the parent who brought, or were going to bring, their kids to this fun event were less than thrilled about ESPN moving the game from 1:35pm to 8:05pm on a school night.  The fun went on, but there were not too many people there to see it.

Then Kyle Kendrick took the mound and, once again, he struggled early.  But Kendrick seems to have this routine down now; he tosses a boat-load of pitches early, gets in and out of trouble and eventually comes out with a quality start.  In this case, he allowed only 2 runs in 6 innings.  The extra drama does seem to motivate him lately.

The Phillies looked like they might get their bats going again in the first inning.  Starting with a Jimmy Rollins triple, they scored two runs.  But that inning also launched a very strange night for Chase Utley.  Apparently forgetting there was only one out, Utley ran from second to home on a fly ball by Michael Young and was doubled up before he even realized the blunder.

The Utley Sunday night adventure did not end there.  He later ran past second base on a ground-rule double, thinking it was a home run when it actually just bounced over the outfield wall.  And then Utley threw away a fairly routine ground ball in the 7th which sailed past Ryan Howard.   That same runner later scored, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.

Utley did have 2 hits on the night, but where his head was all night long is a mystery.  Perhaps he was just getting it all out of his system and will now be error-free the rest of the year?  One can only hope…

The crowd was restless most of the night.  The game was dragging (3 ½ hours long!), it was getting colder and later, the defense was not great and the offense died again after that run in the first inning.  Both Young and Ben Revere hit into double plays to kill rallies.  People were shouting not-so-nice things at players all night long.  It was a bit depressing.  This team has not given fans a lot to cheer about lately.

But the Phillies finally found redemption in the bottom of the 8th inning; the biggest redemption was for Revere.  With 1 out and runners on the corners, Revere singled to center to put the Phils ahead.  Catcher Erik Kratz, who was batting a paltry .192 coming into the game, then smashed a 3-run homer to give the Phillies a 7-3 lead which led to the win.  Whew!

In other weird news, the Phillies have called up 22-year old Jonathan Pettibone to make a spot start tonight since John Lannan is on the DL.  This is weird because, in 2 starts this season in Triple-A, Pettibone has a 9.64 ERA.  I guess there was no one else available?  It should be an interesting night; either he will get destroyed very early by the Pirates or he will totally surprise everyone.  Good luck to him!

And here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Halladay Finds His Mojo Against the Cards

The Roy Halladay we have all been waiting to see returned last night in an 8-2 win over the Cardinals.  It began with his last start against the Marlins and then Friday night, he continued to improve in an impressive 7-inning effort.

The game was called due to rain after the 7th, so this will go in the books as a complete game for Halladay.  He allowed only 2 runs, both solo homers.

But the really encouraging part was seeing Halladay get angry.  Not the fiery red-faced, frustrated sort of anger; this was his old competitive fire, finally burning once again.  He got mad in situations that most would just shrug off; for example, Ben Revere made another amazing catch in center field, but Halladay was visibly annoyed that the batter was able to hit the ball that hard, even though it turned into an out.

Halladay also had no issues trying to intimidate first-year major league umpire, Alan Porter, by staring him down or barking at him when he didn’t get the call he wanted.  Porter had blown a fair/foul call the day before that put the Phillies in a hole, so no one was sad to see Roy giving him a hard time.

Seeing Halladay back to his old, grouchy self is a very positive sign.  For some pitchers, this might mean the guy is getting frazzled; but for Halladay, being grouchy means he is on his game, ready to compete.  When good is not good enough for the Doc, you know he is feeling confident.

Just as exciting as seeing Halladay find his mojo again was seeing the Phillies offense finally get some hits.  The Phils busted out for 5 runs in the first inning, which was triggered by Chase Utley drawing a 2-out walk.  And thank goodness someone walked, because I was getting beyond tired of hearing every single sports reporter whine about the lack of walks.  Now they can all get back to whining about Ryan Howard

Howard did not play last night due to a sore groin and he is day-to-day.  Kevin Frandsen filled in at 1st base and drew the 2nd walk of the game for the Phillies and scored twice.  Freddy Galvis started his second consecutive game in left field and made one of the weirdest diving catches you will ever see.  His hand actually did a 360-degree turn on the ground, with the ball in the mitt.  Of course, I cannot find a video of it anywhere…but it does look like we may have another outfielder.  This guy looks like he can play anywhere…amazing.

So the real question tonight is will the Phillies offense come to play two days in a row?  Cliff Lee hopes so; he takes the mound at 7:05pm tonight.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

2013 Phillies: Déjà Vu or Déjà Voodoo?

Let us examine the latest Phillies performance last night in Cinncinatti:  The starting pitching was solid, the offense was mostly absent and the bullpen blew the game in the 8th inning, resulting in a loss.  Sound like a familiar scenario?  It should; that describes most of the 2012 season.  Ugh.

Is this Déjà vu or Déjà voodoo? Has someone or something cast a sleepy spell over this team for the second consecutive year?  It is like Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs in the bullpen passing the cursed apple around to the rest of the team.  If the drowsy Phils are waiting for Prince Charming to deliver true love’s kiss and wake them up, they may be waiting for quite a long time…

Because if Chase Utley’s 2 run bomb to tie the game up in the 8th inning wasn’t enough to light a fire under this team, I cannot imagine what would be enough.  Or how about Cliff Lee’s gutsy performance after a very weird 7th inning?  He wound up only allowing 2 runs in 7 innings, which is a pretty good day.

And then there was the amazing, stupendous, brain-warping, Superman catch that Ben Revere made earlier in the game.  Nearly everyone on the team starred in awe as Revere flew through the air backwards and nearly horizontal to snag this ball.  He even had the presence of mind to throw the ball in to double up the runner, even after smashing face first into the ground after the catch.

Still, this team could not rally late in the game.  They had only 5 hits total on the night.  Both Jeremy Horst and Mike Adams struggled in the 8th, allowing 2 more runs to the Reds who had also had difficulty finding hits early in the game.

Worse, the Reds came into this game on a 5-game losing streak.  The Phillies should have crushed them.  Instead, they went down in flames, losing by a score of 4-2.  Their offense has been on the Most Wanted list for 4 straight games now.  No one seems to know where it went.

Meanwhile, the Braves still only have 1 loss (to the Phils, oddly enough) and the Fightins’ are lurking near the bottom of the NL East in 4th place.  Ok, it is only April, I know…still, this team needs to WAKE UP!

Perhaps I am being a little rough on the team here.  But it is easier to be angry about a silly baseball game than have to think about what a sad day it was yesterday.  Although Monday was Jackie Robinson day, sadly, this was overshadowed by the tragedy in Boston earlier that day.  So while I am in the mood to rant, can I just say, what is with these freaking psychopaths bombing innocent people??  I am outraged, as are the rest of the sane to mostly-sane people of the world.

My heart goes out to all the people affected by this senseless act of evil.  I wish I had better words to convey my sympathies.  But all I can think is sad, sad, sad… :O(

Photo courtesy of ESPN.com

Phillies Fishing for Offense in Series Win

All 3 games between the Phillies and the Marlins this weekend went into the 9th inning tied by a score of 1-1.  It is safe to say that both teams had a wee bit of trouble finding runs.

The Phillies had base runners in the series, but only hit 6 for 30 with runners in scoring position.  Both Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley could not come through with the bases loaded; Rollins was 0 for 8 total.  And today, the Phils hit into 3 double plays to kill rallies.

Despite the seriously offensive offense, the Phillies managed to squeak out two wins.  A lot of that had much to do with the fact that they were playing the Marlins, who look a lot like Phillies-Lite: Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre, Greg Dobbs and Chad Qualls are all ex-Phils.

In another unusual turn of events, Laynce Nix wound up being the hero of the day in the finale.  Nix smashed a 2nd deck homer to right field to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead in the top of the 9th inning.  It was Nix’s second home run pinch hit in the last 4 games.  He also made a diving grab in right field in Saturday’s game; diving is not his forte, so this was truly a sight to behold.  Ok Laynce, you win…I like you.  You can stay.  ;o)

But the real story of the day was Roy Halladay who picked up his 200th career win today.  Not only was that an amazing feat, but this win had to be a huge relief in another way as well.  After struggling mightily basically since last year, Halladay finally had a Halladay-like game.  In 8 innings, the Doc allowed only 1 run with 5 hits and a walk.  Granted it was against the Fish, but this will be a huge boost for his confidence.

So congratulations to Roy Halladay on his 200th career win!

The Phillies will celebrate tonight and then it is back to work tomorrow in Cincinnati.  Game time is 7:05pm.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Home Opener Disaster for Phillies

The day began so promising for the Phillies.  The sun was shining, people were smiling and the Home Opener was upon us:

The festivities continued with the traditional patriotism, Leap Frog jumpers falling from the sky and team introductions.  Retired Phillies Mike Schmidt and Dickie Noles joined their former rival from the 1980 Phillies-Royals World Series, George Brett on the field for some pre-game pitches.  All was well with the world…

And then the game started.

The Phillies actually looked like the World Series champs of old for about 4 innings.  Domonic Brown and Erik Kratz hit home runs; Chase Utley and Ryan Howard were hitting; and by the end of the 3rd inning, the Phillies had a 4-0 lead.

And then it all went downhill….fast.

Kyle Kendrick, who was solid to start the game, began getting hit hard by the 5th inning.  By the 6th inning, Kendrick was out of gas and pulled from the game.  But not before the Phils intentionally walked Billy Butler to load the bases with 2 outs.  This may have been the one call that sent the game into a real tailspin.

Because once the bullpen took over, all hell broke loose.  All 3 of those runs scored, thanks to Jeremy Horst.  Additional damage was done by the pen later, as the Royals scored in every single inning from the 5th on.

Ben Revere got called out when he looked safe (see photo)…Brown dove for a ball in the outfield and missed…it was a total disaster.

By the 8th inning, fans were scurrying to the exits like a herd of deer running from a hungry cougar.  It was ugly.

With this 4-13 loss, the Phillies have now dropped 3 of their first 4 games, allowing 29 runs in those 3 losses.  They seriously need a win tonight.

John Lannan makes his Phillies debut tonight at 7:05pm.  Best of luck to him…he’ll need it.

And here is the Photo Album from the game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hamels Hammered on Opening Day

The Phillies got crushed by the Braves on Monday night in a 5-7 Opening Day loss.  But let us begin with a bit of good news…Chase Utley was amazing.  Utley collected 3 RBI on a homer, single and a triple, coming just a double short of hitting for the cycle.  And that concludes the ‘good news’ portion of the program…

In the bad news category, Cole Hamels faltered once again in his first start of the season.  Hamels has now lost his first start of the season in 5 of his last 7 attempts.  This year was different as he finally got to start on Opening Day, so the expectations were high.  Allowing 5 runs in 5 innings, including 3 home runs, was not exactly what everyone had hoped for.

I blame the facial hair.  Hamels had a full beard and mustache through most of Spring Training.  On Friday afternoon, the hair was still there.  But by Friday evening into Saturday, the beard disappeared.  Finally, by Monday at game time the fuzz was history.

I think all the furry drama threw his game off.  It was truly a hairy situation.

Facial hair aside, not much went right for the Phillies last night.  The offense, mostly Utley, kept trying to bail Hamels out, but the Braves just kept the runs coming.  And then Chad Durbin wound up allowing 2 more runs in relief without recording an out.

The main thing to focus on now is that this is just one game.  It was certainly a hugely disappointing game, but still a drop in the bucket.

The Phillies are off today; the next game with the Braves is Wednesday at 7:10pm.  This will be an interesting one as Roy Halladay makes his first start of the season.  Facing a potent Braves line-up will be a good test of whether Halladay is really ready to go or not.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Weekend Prelude to Opening Day

The Phillies hosted two exhibition games this weekend, signaling the end of Spring Training and the start of the regular season on Monday. As they have the past several years, the Phillies planned a number of special events and surprises on Friday and Saturday.

Friday began with the On-Deck Reception, hosted by the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. There were players signing autographs, several Q & A sessions with players and coaches, and an on-field introduction of the entire team:

I personally got autographs from Domonic Brown (and a photo as well), Erik Kratz, John Mayberry Jr. and Antonio Bastardo. This was my first time attending this particular event and it was well worth the effort. The only bummer of the day was I discovered that the autofocus on my very expensive camera had died :O( Ugh. So I apologize in advance for 2 days worth of so-so photos, as I had to use my mediocre eye sight to manually focus a very large lens.

The prior to the evenings game, players wandered around the stadium greeting fans and some stopped for photos. I had my picture taken with John Lannan, Antonio Bastardo, Humberto Quintero and hitting coach Wally Joyner.

Cliff Lee started the game that night and looked ready to go for the season. But his real highlight was helping Cole Hamels man the Phanatic’s hot dog shooter between innings:

To be honest, the game was rather boring, so the hot dog-interlude was a very welcome distraction. The Phils lost 1-0.

More fun was happening prior to Saturday’s game as well. After some very stealth stalking on my part, I managed to get photos with a few new guys and a Hall of Famer: Mike Adams, Ender Inciarte and third-base-coach/HOF guy, Ryne Sandburg. That was pretty awesome. Both exhibitions games were well worth the trip because of these little extras.

The game itself, however, did not go well against a very potent Blue Jays line-up. The Jays beat up on Kyle Kendrick, who gave up 5 runs in 3 innings. John Lannan took over for the next 3 innings and held the Jays to 1
more run. It was not quite out of reach for the Phillies though until very late. Here are a few highlights:

And Cliff Lee finally got his turn at the helm of the hot dog cannon, with Hamels “feeding” the device:

The end result was a 10-4 loss. But luckily, the game did not count.

The Phillies announced the Opening Day roster afterwards. There were not too many surprises there:

Rotation (5): Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan.

Bullpen (7): Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Adams, Antonio Bastardo, Chad Durbin, Phillippe Aumont, Jeremy Horst and Raul Valdes.

Catchers (2): Erik Kratz and Humberto Quintero.

Infielders (6): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, Kevin Frandsen and Freddy Galvis.

Outfielders (5): Ben Revere, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix and Ender Inciarte.

Inciarte is a Rule-5 guy; they have to keep him on the roster or offer him back to the D-backs. Only 22-years old, he has never played above High-A level. He offers some depth in the outfield for now. Plus, he is adorable, so I approve ;o)

So here we are, finally! Opening Day! Game time is 7:10pm Monday night in Atlanta.

And here are the links to my photo albums from the weekend: Friday’s On-Deck Reception and Exhibition Game and Saturday’s Exhibition Game.

Go Phillies!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Betancourt Released; Phillies Walking a Very Tight Rope

Despite a superb spring, Yuniesky Betancourt has been released.  In his contract, March 24th was designated as the deadline for the Phillies to either keep him on the big league roster or let him go.  They chose to let him go even after Betancourt hit .447 with 14 RBI with 3 doubles and a home run in 47 at-bats.

This means that both Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen will make the team as utility infielders.  I am a little confused by this move, but not in the way you may be thinking.  I like Frandsen; while there is no guarantee he will have a solid year like he did in 2012, he has paid his dues and earned a spot on the team.

Galvis still has options and therefore, could have started the year in Triple-A and worked on his offense where he will get many more at-bats.  If Betancourt did not work out, they could have released him and then brought up Galvis.  That would have given the Phillies more options.  As it stands now, they are walking across a very tight rope with little room for error.

And then there is the big question mark lingering in the air that no one seems to want to discuss.  Galvis was suspended 50 games last year for using performance-enhancing drugs.  Of course, like every player who tests positive, Galvis denies using PED’s.  But what if he were to test positive again?  Betancourt is gone and the options for the Phillies are now very limited.

I certainly hope nothing of the sort would happen, but think about Carlos Ruiz.  No one saw that one coming either.  Ruiz made the same mistake twice and so it follows that Galvis could fall into the same trap, as could anyone else for that matter.  You also have to wonder how each will perform without the use of PED’s.

I will not be popular for pointing this out, but it had to be said.  Galvis seems like a nice kid with a boat-load of talent and he can play multiple positions.  I think he will be a big contributor to the team.  So I am not saying letting Betancourt go in favor of Galvis was necessarily a terrible idea; in fact, I am glad I did not have to make that decision as it had to be a very tough one.  But Betancourt would have given the Phillies more wiggle room.

A Ruf Life

Speaking of not being popular, this one will not earn me any new friends either.  I think the Phillies should trade Darin Ruf.  Now, hear me out before you freak. 

I was really rooting for Ruf this Spring, but it became obvious that he is not an outfielder.  The Phillies sent him back to Triple-A to work on it, but I have to say that it just does not look like he will ever be ready to play left field.  Just look at him; he is built like a first baseman, or if he played football, a linebacker.  Ruf does not have the body-type to run down balls in the outfield.  He can improve, but to what extent?

First base is clearly where he belongs, however, Ryan Howard is not going away anytime soon.  And Ruf’s value will not be much higher than it is right now, which is why this is the time to trade him when the Phillies will get the most in return.

If the outfield does not pan out for Ruf, what do you do with him?  Ruf will be 27 years old in July; the clock is ticking…

Boom Goes The 3-4 Combo

In consecutive Spring Training games, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard have hit back-to-back homers.  With the rate these two are hitting, is anyone else getting nervous?  I mean, we do not want them to run out of bullets before the season even starts, right?  Both Utley and Howard have gotten a ton of playing time this spring.  Perhaps it is time to stop pushing their luck and rest them before anyone gets hurt or worn out?

It is extremely uplifting to see Utley and Howard back in action and, more importantly, healthy!  So this is nervous excitement talking here, but pretty please, can we just give it a break until Opening Day?  Dear Phillies, please do not wear out this wonderful 3-4 combo before April 1st.  Thank you in advance.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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