Results tagged ‘ Chipper Jones ’

Howard’s 300th; One Win and a Loss Against the Braves

The Phillies won their 4th straight game Friday night in the opener against the Braves that included a pre-game salute to Chipper Jones.  Jones will retire after 19 years with the Braves after this season.  The Phillies gave Jones a painting of one of many home runs he hit in Citizens Bank Park.

Jones received a number of salutes while the Braves traveled to away games this year.  And to thank the Phillies, Jones went 0-for-4 in the home teams’ 6-2 win over his Braves.  Thanks, Larry.  And Happy Retirement ;o)

However, the tables were turned on Saturday afternoon.  The Braves found their bats and Roy Halladay hit another brick wall.  Clearly, not all is well with Halladay as he claims.  He has had only a few good starts since coming off the DL; the rest have been very un-Doc like.

This afternoon, Halladay did not even make it through 2 innings.  His final line had 7 earned runs in 1.2 innings on 5 hits and 3 walks.  It was ugly.  Charlie Manuel looked on in disbelief before he finally ran out to the mound to lift Doc from the game.

With the Cardinals win today, the Phillies could ill afford any more losses.  But the offense was weak today against the Braves pitching.  The only excitement came when Ryan Howard hit a milestone home run; it was the 300th of his career, putting him in 2nd place behind Mike Schmidt all time for the Phillies.

Howard has now hit a home run in 4 straight games.  Seeing his bat wake up again is a pleasant site.  However, the Phillies are still in a dire situation as far as the playoffs are concerned.  The loss today knocks them back to 4 games out of the Wild Card behind 3 other teams with only 10 games to go.

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Howard head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

Bad Bullpen + No Offense = Loss

It is simple math, right?  Well tonight’s Phillies – Braves match-up boiled down to that very simple math.

 
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Pitcher’s Cole Hamels and Jair Jurrjens battled fairly evenly, each allowing just 3 runs.  Hamels went 7 innings and Jurrjens was pulled after 6 plus.  Hamels did a nice job, but would the offense come through for him?

The Phillies managed only 2 hits of Jurrjens, one of which was a 2-run homer from Raul Ibanez in the 1st inning.  The other hit came in the 7th when Ryan Howard tied the game up 3-3 with a triple to score Ibanez, who had drawn a walk.  But with no outs and Howard on third, they failed to score again. 

Jayson Werth stood at the plate and watched strike three go by.  All he had to do was make contact and he just stood there like a deer in headlights.  Then Ben Francisco hit what could have been a sac fly, but either Howard, the third base coach or both decided not to tag up as it was a shallow hit ball.

Here is my issue with this: they had to know Wilson Valdez was coming up with 2 outs.  Did they expect him to be the hero and get a 2-out hit?  I know I certainly did not.  While Howard is no speed demon, he has one advantage: size.  He should have tagged and if the ball beat him, why not go old-school and knock the catcher over?  I would have taken that risk over expecting a 2-out hit from Valdez.

That decision looked like it might come back to haunt them when the bullpen took over in the 8th.  Jose Contreras quickly got into trouble with men on first and third and no outs.  But Chipper Jones got jammed in between third and home and Dane Sardinha made a great toss to trap and tag him out.  Eventually, with help from JC Romero, they escaped the inning unscathed.

With no scoring in the 8th for the Phils, Brad Lidge came into a tie game in the 9th.  It was his first game since last week when he blew a save against the Reds.  Lidge sent the Braves down in order, but with no scoring from the Phils in the bottom of the 9th, this would be a battle of the bullpens.

Sadly, in a battle of the bullpens, the Phillies were likely to come out on the losing end.  David Herndon did a great job in the 10th, but finally surrendered the lead in the 11th after a single and a double.  With the offense totally stalled, the 3-4 deficit looked insurmountable.  In fact, for many months now, the lack of hitting has made these very small deficits look like impossible obstacles to overcome.

But Mike Zagurski came into the game and made things even worse.  He looked great striking out the first two hitters, but made one very big, very costly mistake.  Eric Hinske took that mistake and tossed it over the right field wall for a 2-run homer.  The Phillies entered the bottom of the 11th down 3-6.

Watching these self-destructive games are very sad, especially in light of the talent this team possesses.  They just cannot seem to conjure it up at the most crucial moments.  The main players, like Jimmy Rollins and Werth, went hitless as they have many, many times this week.  The bottom of the lineup did absolutely nothing.  You cannot expect to win games with only three hits. 

Add to that the fact that the bullpen cannot hold a tie game down.  It is all a recipe for disaster.  And so it was; a 3-6 disastrous loss.  Jamie Moyer will try to win one tomorrow, but without any offense, how will he fare?  Not well is my guess.

Injury News

Pitcher JA Happ came off the DL today but instead of going to the majors, he was optioned back to AAA.  The Phillies are not happy with how he has pitched in his rehab, but they are hoping he will bounce back after some time in the minors.

As for catcher Carlos Ruiz, he will begin a rehab assignment this week, which is good news.  The concussion has healed to the point where he can start playing again.  Get well soon, Carlos!

By the way, we have now entered Day 8 of my Chase Utley withdrawal.  I am not doing too bad so far.  I have no fingernails left and I am stuttering a little, but all in all, it has been a mostly sanity-intact week.  Of course, we have about 7 weeks left to go so do say a short prayer for me.  Thanks…you guys rock.

 

Zagurski photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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Smooth Sailing For Halladay


Halladay sailing copy.jpgRoy Halladay
has had a few adventurous outings this year.  Tonight against the Braves, the only adventure was a solo homer to Chipper Jones in the first inning.  It was smooth sailing after that.  Halladay pitched his 7th complete game of the year, throwing only 93 pitches to defeat the Braves.  He looked unsinkable.

So all Halladay needed was a little offense.  Greg Dobbs came into tonight’s game batting only .167.  Even after spending some time in the minors, Dobbs could not seem to find his stroke.  Tonight, it looks like he might have turned a corner. 
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With a 0-1 deficit in the 6th inning, Dobbs hit a 2-run bomb to center.  It was only his 2nd home run of the year; the 1st one was way back on April 25th.  Dobbs ended up with 2 hits in the game.        

The Phillies tried to tack on to the 2-1 lead in the 8th inning.  After a couple of singles, manager Charlie Manuel put on a rare suicide squeeze with Raul Ibanez on third.  But Juan Castro missed the bunt and Ibanez was caught between third and home.  Castro made up for the goof by hitting an RBI single, putting the Phils up 3-1.

As it turns out, Halladay did not need the extra run, but he certainly did not mind it.  The Phillies inch one game closer to the Braves with this win and will have to try and carry the momentum into the next 2 games.  Cole Hamels will pitch tomorrow night; game time is 7:05pm.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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When Will The Horror End?

Hey, remember that amazing perfect game pitched by Roy Halladay a few days ago?  That was so awesome.  It was the happiest Phillies day in all of 2010 so far; a historical, momentous occasion.  Ah, memories…

With the way the Phillies have been playing lately, that perfect game now seems like it happened ages ago; a distant memory of a happier time.  Aside from that one bright spot, the Phillies last 10 games have resembled a bad horror movie, including today’s 9-3 loss to the Braves.

The game got off to a very scary start when, with 1st & 3rd and only 1 out, Ryan Howard hit into an inning-ending double play.  Then starting pitcher Joe Blanton gave up a 2-run homer to Chipper Jones in the bottom of the 1st.  To make matters worse, manager Charlie Manuel decided to put Ross Gload in right field to give the struggling Jayson Werth a mental day off.  Well, with 2 outs, Gload missed a routine fly ball, sending the runner to second instead of ending the inning.  That runner scored and the Phillies fell into an 0-3 hole.

The next inning was just as frightening; with 2 men on base and 1 out, Wilson Valdez grounded into another double play to end another inning. 
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Manuel got ejected from the game in the 3rd inning following an indecisive call by the home plate umpire.  Larry Vanover said Greg Dobbs was hit by a pitch and then changed his mind after the Braves argued the call.  Nice job, ump.  Just what we needed…

Manuel’s ejection did nothing to wake the zombified Phillies offense.  Howard missed an easy ground ball in the bottom of the 3rd, allowing yet another unearned run to score.  And the Phillies bats stayed silent until the 7th inning when 4 straight doubles scored 3 runs.  What?  3 runs in one inning and all with 2 outs in the inning?  Who are these Phillies and where did they hide the zombies?

Oh wait, the undead have returned…in the form of the Phillies bullpen.  Given a little hope with those 3 runs and trailing by just 3-6, the Phillies bullpen put a stop to that.  Antonio Bastardo got 1 out in the 7th and then allowed a single and a walk.  Chad Durbin took over and with just one pitch, he gave up a 3-run homer.  I guess Durbin was just trying to clean off the bases for a fresh start?  Ugh.

Earlier today, Brad Lidge was activated off the DL…again.  How long this will last, no one knows.  He did pitch the 8th inning, as the Phillies tried to ease him back into his regular role.  He pitched a clean inning and looked like he is feeling much better.  We shall see…

With Lidge back, instead of optioning the young Bastardo to make room, the Phillies chose to designate Nelson Figueroa for assignment.  Figueroa may not be back.  He has to clear waivers first and then, if he is not picked up, he could either become a free agent or take an assignment to the minors.

So with this loss today, the Phillies are out of first place, ½ game behind the Braves.  If they can wake up and get anything done in the next 2 games against the Braves, they could turn it around.  The way this month has gone, I am sure everyone is happy to be done with May.  Let us hope June is better.

 

Head shots by Jenn Zambri Photography except Werth: MLB.com

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Series Win Gives Phillies 8 Game Lead

With a 3-2 victory over the Braves last night to win the series 2 game to 1, the Phillies will have an 8-game lead in the NL East over both the Braves and the Marlins going into September.  Joe Blanton pitched another beautiful game and got through 7 innings of one run ball; the only run came off a solo homer from Martin Prado in the first inning.  Blanton looked a bit shaky through those first few innings, but settled in well and only gave up 3 hits.

 

And for the 2nd night in a row, Chase Utley went yard; his solo shot to right field in the 4th was the only run for the Phillies until Carlos Ruiz stepped up in the 7th.  In honor of the Ruiz backpack night, a giveaway for kids 14 and under, Ruiz smacked a double to left to score Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz.  Ruiz went 3 for 3 on the night; it was his 5th 3-hit game of the year.  Maybe the Phillies should give away a Ruiz bobble head next?


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In the not-so-great offensive category, the Phillies are still struggling with runners in scoring position.  They left 14 men on base and again, had the bases loaded with no outs and failed to score.  Blanton hit a line-drive to first base and Ruiz was double off after the catch.  Jimmy Rollins then hit a weak grounder to end the inning.  The offensive outage is concerning, but thanks to great pitching, they came out on top.

 

Defense was a big part of the win as well.  Ryan Madson, who is entering Brad Lidge-bad territory, got into a huge jam in the 8th inning again.  He hit the first batter he faced and then gave up back-to-back singles which scored a run for the Braves.  Without recording an out, he was removed from the game and Scott Eyre took over. 

 

Brain McCann then hit a sharp grounder to Utley, who fielded it perfectly and flipped to Rollins who threw to Feliz at third; Feliz tagged Chipper Jones for the unusual 4-6-5 double play.  Having eliminated the lead runner, Eyre saved the Phillies from disaster and gave Lidge a 3-2 lead to work with.  Amazingly, Lidge nailed down the save with relative ease; it was his second save in a row.  Whew!


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By the way, did anyone see the actor, Paul Rudd (movies: “I Love You, Man”; “Anchorman”; “Knocked Up”), sitting in the 10th row behind home plate last night? He was just a few sections over from me so I took a few photos.  The woman next to him (right side, dark brown hair) is none other than Jen Utley, Chase’s wife.


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A very welcome off-day is upon us as the Phillies offense needs to rest and charge up for the September charge.  Watch for September call-up’s which may include pitchers Kyle Kendrick, Jack Taschner and Rodrigo Lopez; infielders Mike Cervenak and Andy Tracy; outfielders John Mayberry Jr. and Jason Ellison; and we will likely see a catcher added – maybe Paul Hoover.  Those are my guesses anyway.

 

A lot of moves will be made as the Phillies are also anticipating the return of Brett Myers, JC Romero and Clay Condrey to the bullpen plus Greg Dobbs.  All four have been on the DL and are very close to coming back.

 

And finally, here is the complete Photo Album from last night’s Phillies – Braves game.  Tomorrow, the San Francisco Giants come to town for 3 games and some serious pitching battles will ensue.  You may remember the Phillies were stomped in San Fran back in July, losing 3 out of 4 games.  The Giants are tied for a wildcard spot right now so this will be a very tough match match-up.  Cole Hamels starts it off tomorrow at 7:05pm.

Photos by Jenn

 

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Happy Hamels


Thumbnail image for Hamels in a bubble.jpgSomeone finally took the whammy off Cole Hamels.  And it is about time!  Hamels made his comeback tonight from the elbow injury, the shoulder injury and finally, the ankle injury; he got through 6 innings allowing only 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks.  I guess my protective bubble worked for him :O)  Hamels can now breathe a huge sigh of relief!  Whew!

The sad news today is that Shane Victorino ended his 16-game hit streak, going 0 for 5.  :O(  But all the other position starters had a hit in the game, so it’s all good.  Jayson Werth knocked in 2 runs in the 3rd inning on a home run.  Chase Utley and Chris Coste also blasted homers in the game; Utley’s went into the 2nd deck of right centerfield.  A few Braves errors helped out the scoring early on as well.

Brad Lidge had a rough 9th inning, but lucky for the Phils, he had a 7 run pad to work with.  Lidge started the inning with a walk, a double and then a 3-run homer.  After he got that insanity out of his system though, he buckled down and got the 3 outs needed to end the game.  Phillies win, 10-6.

But the real excitement of the game came in the 4th inning when a fan ran onto the field to high-five Pedro Feliz.  Personally, I’d have jumped Utley, but that’s just me :O)  The chase was not shown on TV, like usual, but we were entertained by the giggling of Chipper Jones and Ryan Howard as they watched the events unfold.  Eventually, the fan was run down and taken away…probably to the funny farm and the people in the funny white coats :O)

I don’t know about you, but if I watch that puppet any longer, they are going to have to come take me away…

So on to the next game!  Phillies-Braves tomorrow afternoon, 3:40pm with Joe Blanton pitching.  And as usual, don’t forget to go on-line and VOTE for your All-Stars!  Do it, or I’ll send the men in the funny white coats to come getcha! ;O)

Photo by Jenn

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Team USA Beats The Phillies

Watching Team USA with Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino playing against the Phillies was strange, to put it mildly.  Although, who to root for was easy – both!  Yet, the sight of Victorino sliding into base with a Phillies glove coming at him did feel wrong somehow; but even more confusing was watching Victorino and Rollins team up with rival New York Met, David Wright, Atlanta Brave, Chipper Jones and Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia.  Here are 4 of them celebrating after a Jones homer run plus, Victorino sliding into second and Rollins letting everyone know that he is working hard:

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Victorino and Rollins each had one hit for Team USA today and minor league Phillie, Joe Bisenius pitched for Team USA, giving up 1 run on three hits in his one inning of work.  Also for Team USA, Derek Jeter went hitless in his 6 innings, but showed off defensively, as usual.  Chipper Jones and Red, Adam Dunn led the charge against the Phillies, collecting 3 RBI a piece.  Below, see Jeter make a great leaping throw; Mike Cervenak slides into second trying to break up a double play, forcing Pedroia to jump over him; and J-Roll swings and misses:

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On the Phillies side, Eric Bruntlett and Cervenak each earned an RBI and Jason Donald woke from his slumber, hitting a solo homer in the 6th.  Catcher Lou Marson was the only Phillie with a multi-hit game, going 2 for 4.  The big score came from Ryan Howard, who knocked a 3 run homer in the 5th.  However, Howard had a very strange day.  In the first inning, Howard dropped a routine feed from Donald, allowing the runner to reach base.  Then, in the third inning, he got whacked in the helmet with a pitch, but appeared to be fine.  Later, Howard dropped a routine pop-up off the bat of Victorino and then also dropped a pick-off toss to first as Victorino slid back in safely, although, that looked to be a bad throw by Kyle Kendrick.  Here are a few photos of the events at hand; note where the ball is in the top 2 photos; the bottom photo is the home run shot:

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Aside from Howard’s fumbles, the big story of the day appears to be Kyle Kendrick who did not look good.  In 2 2/3 innings, he surrendered 5 hits and 4 runs, including the 3 run shot by Jones, which, by the way, I called as it happened.  As shaky as Kendrick was and seeing he could not keep the ball down or his emotions in check, once Chipped stepped to the plate, I told my neighbor what was about to happen and, wham!  3-run home run.  Kendrick has a lot of work to do if he is going to compete for the 5th starters’ position. 

Equally unimpressive was the outing of Antonio Bastardo, who gave up 5 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks.  Regulars Clay Condrey and Ryan Madson got some work in also and each looked ok, although Madson did walk 2.  In the end, the Phillies went down by a score of 9-6.

And now for the Photo of the Day – Team USA united!P3056461.JPG

The Phillies have both an A and a B game tomorrow against the Blue Jays; the B game is at 2pm at Bright House field and the A game is in Dunedin at 7pm.  Sadly, my time in Florida has come to a close and I will be hopping a plane back to the deep freeze of the Philadelphia area tomorrow.  I will continue my coverage from home, although be terribly depressed about it :O(  I know, I know…poor me.  Hee!  It was fun while it lasted!

 

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Hamels Leads Phillies To Double Sweep

The Phillies swept the Braves tonight for the second time this year in Atlanta.  Cole Hamels came within one out of pitching a shut-out when Brian McCann doubled to score Chipper Jones in the ninth inning. 
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While that was a shame, Cole has no reason to hang his head.  He went 8.2 strong innings, giving up only the one run, striking out 7 and bringing his ERA down to 3.22 and adding a win to his record which now stands at 9-5.  In fact, Hamels should be very happy with his performance.  His has proven that he is the ace of this staff and the rest of our pitchers need start picking his brain!

And how about Pedro Feliz today?  3 for 4 with 2 RBI, including a solo homer…he has been really hot lately!  Speaking of home runs, Chase Utley put himself back on top of the MLB charts, hitting #24 in the first inning tonight.  It will be interesting to see if he gets invited to participate in the Home Run Derby this year.  I certainly hope so!  And then I really hope he says yes!!!  What a show that would be J  Come on MLB people…or whoever makes those decisions…who would get you more TV ratings?  Seriously.  Everyone LOVES Chase Utley.  He is like Elvis; pre-bloated, drug phase, of course J  Put him in the Derby!

So tomorrow we all get to bite our nails as we see the second major league debut of one JA Happ.  And who does he get to face?  Johan Santana.  No worries kid.  Just ignore the obvious pressure.  Just keep breathing…  Oh, and if things go bad and 40,000 plus fans start screaming about how bad you suck, just go ahead and ignore that too…  It’s all a figment of your imagination J  Be one with the ball…

Griffey Hits #600

Ken Griffey Jr. hit home run #600 last night in Miami at Dolphin Stadium against Marlins left-hander Mark Hendrickson in the first inning of the 9-4 Reds win.  Only five other players in history have ever reached the 600 home run milestone.  The 2 run shot landed in the right field seats and was witnessed by about 16,000 fans and most of Griffey’s family who came to the game from their home in nearby Orlando.


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During Griffey’s recent visit to Philadelphia, he came about one foot shy of hitting #600 off of Cole Hamels, but the long shot was caught at the wall by Shane Victorino in centerfield.  This win for the Reds over the Marlins changes the NL East standings a bit going into tonight’s Phillies – Marlins series.  The Phillies currently hold a 4 game lead over the Marlins for first place; Atlanta, still with an ailing Chipper Jones, is 6.5 games back; the Mets are 7.5 back; and the Nationals are 14 games back.

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