Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

Phils End Skid Behind Lee and Brown

The Phillies ended a 3-game losing streak today with a 7-5 win over the Brewers thanks to some key contributions.  And although they nearly blew it in the end, those 7 runs, all scored in the first 2 innings, kept them in the game.

4 of those 7 runs were driven in by Domonic Brown, who is still on fire after a scorching month of May.  He fell just a double shy of hitting for the cycle.  He and Ryan Howard did their special home run dance after his 3-run homer in the 1st inning to celebrate:

And the hits kept coming…both Jimmy Rollins and Freddy Galvis collected 2 hits apiece.  Erik Kratz and John Mayberry Jr. each drove in runs.  The Phillies took a 7-0 lead all the way into the 8th inning.

On the mound, Cliff Lee performed his usual magic for 7 straight innings.  He struck out 11 batters and appeared to be cruising until the 8th.

Dehydration set in and Lee started giving up hits.  He wound up putting 3 runners on base before he was pulled in favor of Justin DeFratus.  But even with 2 outs in the inning, DeFratus could not manage to escape unscathed.  The Phillies gave up runs in the 8th inning in every game of this Brewers series and this day would be no different.  After an almost grand slam that was overturned by replay, the Phils left the 8th inning with only a 7-4 lead.

In the 9th, Jonathan Papelbon was nowhere to be seen.  He had apparently taken ill and was not available to pitch.  Antonio Bastardo took the mound and allowed another Brewers run as the crowd began to panic.  But he finally got out of the inning and the Phils walked away with the win despite the late-inning drama.

Prior to the game, Kyle Kendrick’s father was honored for the Phillies Father’s Day celebration.  His very pregnant wife and daughter were there as well, which was really cute.

To see the rest of my photos from the game, check out this Photo Album.

The Phillies will start a 3-game series with the Marlins tomorrow night at 7:05pm.  Kendrick will pitch.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Lee Pitches Another Gem

In a year full of drama for the Phillies, Cliff Lee stepping on the mound is a sight for sore eyes.  The same can be said when he steps to the plate as well.  In a complete game shut-out of the Marlins last night, Lee also collected 2 hits, giving him a team-leading .316 batting average.  And his .350 on-base percentage is second only to Michael Young (.378) among active Phillies.

Simply put, Cliff Lee is amazing.

Yet those offensive numbers are a bit disturbing in another respect.  When your ace pitcher is leading the team in average and OBP, there are some serious problems.  Granted, Lee only plays once every 5 games, but it is still a somewhat revealing statistic on a team that has struggled to score runs.

There was some offense last night though, and some signs of life all around.  Although they only scored 3 runs, most guys hit the ball well and as team, they collected 12 hits, which is way better than their usual production this year.  On Tuesday night with Tyler Cloyd pitching, the Phillies racked up 7 runs on 15 hits in the win.

But again, this has been a pattern; the Phillies have 1 or 2 games with solid offense and then they go right back to not being able to hit the broad side of a barn.  And with the injuries mounting, can they get any kind of consistency?

The latest injury to Chase Utley is extremely worrisome.  Utley was finally having a good year, after missing time in both of the previous 2 seasons with knee issues.  Now, it appears he has an oblique strain of some sort; he will have an MRI today and will likely be put on the DL along with Roy Halladay, Mike Adams, John Lannan and Carlos Ruiz.  Stay tuned…

Today is an off day as the team travels to Washington to take on the Nationals.  News on Utley should be coming very soon…cross your fingers!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Dramatic Walk-Off Win Gives Phillies a Series Win

I returned from my trip to the Galapagos Islands this weekend just in time to attend today’s PhilliesReds game.  But before we get to that, check out what my little friend the Phanatic was up to on our trip to his homeland.  He visited 5 different islands, some beaches and even a distant relative, the Marine Iguana:

Yes, the Phanatic and I had a lovely vacation where we swam with sharks, rays, turtles and fish and wandered the land with giant tortoises.  It was amazing!

I had to catch up on my Phillies news when I returned and it appears much has happened.  Roy Halladay is having surgery (yikes!), the Phils signed hot-head Carlos Zambrano to a minor league deal (double-yikes!), Raul Valdes became the first regular bullpen guy to get sent down to the minors (more may be coming), Mike Adams has a bad back (oh my…), Tyler Cloyd started a game, Kyle Kendrick returned to earth in a loss yesterday after an amazing start to the season….and oh yeah, the offense still sucks.  Did I miss anything?

All that drama aside, the Phillies did manage to pull out a win today, which based on the first 7 ½ innings, did not look likely.   Jonathan Pettibone was very solid again, only allowing 2 runs, and the defense backed him up.

But once again the offense was asleep and the feeling of dread grew deeper when Carlos Ruiz was pulled from the game with a strained hamstring.

Finally, the Phillies scratched out a run in the 8th, thanks to Ben Revere legging out a base hit.  Revere led the team with 3 hits today.  Then in the 9th, it appeared as if the Phils were going down in flames, despite getting the first runner of the inning on base against flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman.  Because as soon as Cliff Lee came in to pinch run for Delmon Young, he got picked off at first.  Ugh.

But when Erik Kratz smacked a home run to tie the game, the tide turned quickly.  Freddy Galvis was up next and hit a line-drive homer just over the left field wall for the walk-off win!  It was the first time Chapman gave up more than one homer in a game…ever.  Go figure.

So even after a 0-10 pounding on Saturday, the Phillies still walked away with the series win and, hopefully, some momentum going into Miami tomorrow.  Game time is 7:10pm.

And here is the Photo Album from today’s win.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Mayday! Mayday! The Phillies Are in Trouble

Yes, it is May.  And yes, it is a new day.  But although Wednesday’s May-day marked the start of a new month for the Phillies, it did not appear to be any different than the month of April; or any different than the year 2012, for that matter.  Now, cries of “Mayday!” can be heard throughout Philadelphia.  This team has serious problems.

Over 2 games against the Indians, the Phillies were outscored 20 runs to 2.  And last night’s 0-6 shut-out was even worse than the 2-14 pounding they look on Tuesday.  The Phillies had only 3 hits in last night’s game against a rookie pitcher, who was so wild, he walked 6 batters.  With 7 walks total handed to the Phils, they still could not manage to score a single run.  That is nearly impossible, but this team found a way to do it.

And here is a thought; perhaps someone should come up with a fun drinking game for every time Michael Young or Ben Revere hits into a double play?  Including one last night, Young has 7 already on the season and Revere has 5.  Then again, that may not be frequent enough to really put me out of my misery.  So let’s add in runners left on base!  There were 9 of those last night, plus the Phillies went 0-10 with runners in scoring position.  Now we can do some serious alcoholic damage!

Yes, this team is driving me to drink.  As I predicted about a week ago, the Phillies have kept us all on this sickening roller coaster ride.  They suck, then bounce back for a few games (like the 3-game sweep of the Mets this past weekend) and then they go right back to sucking, once again proving that they just cannot get the job done on a consistent basis.

Both Carlos Ruiz and Delmon Young are now in the line-up and nothing has changed.  Sure, it has not been very long for either, but it is not like they both arrived cold, having not played in a while.  Both guys were baseball-ready after playing in rehab games.  Still, after one day of excitement for seeing Chooch again, the thrill is already gone and the offense is still stagnant.

Even Cliff Lee could not get the job done against the Indians, his former team.  Roy Halladay was awful the day before that.  The only highlight last night was watching Layne Nix rob an Indian of a home run with a leaping catch just before the ball cleared the wall.  And this is not the first time this season that Nix has been the only bright spot in a game.  That is a very, very bad sign.

And this has all been going on far too long for it to just be a slump.  I am seriously beginning to think this team will not be able to recover.  Could all of this be the beginning of the end for this era in Phillies baseball?  Only time will tell; and the Phillies are quickly running out of that time…

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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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Phillies Offense on Locke-Down

On Monday night, Phillies rookie Jonathan Pettibone made his major league debut against the Pirates.  He went 5.1 innings and allowed only 2 runs after a fairly shaky start and some good defense.  The Phillies offense put up 3 runs for the rookie, but two of those runs came from a wild pitch and a hit batter.

The lack of offense took another turn for the worse on Tuesday night.  Cole Hamels pitched a great game, allowing 2 runs over 8 innings.  But his teammates did nothing to help him.  As a result of the 0-2 loss, Hamels still does not have a win this year.  This is exactly what happened to Cliff Lee last year, who ended the season with only 6 wins, despite his 3.16 ERA.

There were only 4 hits for the Phillies last night.  Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke had them all tied up in knots that they could not untangle.  Sadly, it was a total Locke-Down.

For example, in the 4th inning, John Mayberry Jr. led off with a triple.  Still, the Phillies managed to squander that opportunity as well.  Not scoring a runner from 3rd with no outs to start the inning is ridiculous.  But that has been the story of the Phillies offense for a number of years now, and it does not appear it will change anytime soon.

These guys get anxious at the plate, swing at bad pitches and watch good ones fly past them.  There is no discipline at all.

Think about that 4th inning again.  With no outs, Mayberry stood at 3rd and Domonic Brown on first after being hit by a pitch. Locke was getting wild and losing his command.  So the only thing Ben Revere needed to do was not pop out or hit the ball the 3rd base side of the infield.  Even a double play would have scored the run with Mayberry going on contact.  So what does Revere do?  He swings at the first pitch and hits the ball to third; Mayberry is thrown out at the plate.

This is not Mayberry’s fault either…Ryne Sandberg told him to go on contact which was verified by manager Charlie Manual after the game.  As for Revere, remember he is only 24 years old.  Clearly, he still has a lot to learn.  But the same excuse cannot be made for the rest of the team.  This is a very experienced ball club.  Yet they continue to approach at-bats like frightened rookies.

When the only relief of the night is seeing bench player Laynce Nix step to the plate, something is very, very wrong.

The Phillies hired not one, but two new hitting coaches this season in an effort to improve the offense.  And even though both Steve Henderson and Wally Joyner have gotten rave reviews from the players, nothing changes once a guy steps to the plate.  Can you teach an old dog new tricks?  Apparently not.

Pretty soon they will have a big offensive day again and the critics will be silent until the next several games when the bats go back to sleep again.  This has become a pattern.  They give us a small bit of hope, and just like that, the hope is squashed the very next day.  I am seriously beginning to wonder if this is fixable.

In the meantime, all we can do is wait and see.  Roy Halladay will pitch tonight; game time is 7:05pm.

 

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Photo 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

A Tale of Two Pitchers

While Cliff Lee is pitching like a man at the peak of his career, Roy Halladay seems to be in a free fall.  With an 8-3 pounding of the Mets last night, Lee has started the season off with a 2-0 record.  Halladay, on the other hand, has begun with 2 awful losses.

Even the offense seemed pumped to perform for Lee.  The Phillies even hit 3 home runs in 1 inning to support their ace on the mound.  Ryan Howard, Michael Young and John Mayberry Jr. all went yard for the first time this year.

Lee gave up only 2 earned runs and nearly pitched a complete game, coming just one out shy.  Manager Charlie Manual decided his pitch count was high enough at 106 and had Mike Adams finish off the game.

On the exact opposite side of things, Halladay looks like a little lost boy out on the mound searching for home.   His 2-7 loss to the Mets on Monday was especially difficult to watch.  Halladay allowed 7 runs in only 4 innings before being chased out of the game.  The Mets looked like they were taking batting practice off him.

Obviously, there are a lot of problems here.  But I would like to point out one issue that I have not heard anyone else mention.  Keep in mind, I am not a doctor and this is just an observation on my part; I have no inside knowledge here.  The Doc looks like he needs a doc.

The temperature at game time on Monday was 72 degrees, which dropped into the mid-60’s by the 2nd inning.  And yet, Halladay was sweating so profusely that it looked like rain coming off the brim of his cap.  His face was not just red; it was almost purple.  And this is not a new observation.  Halladay has been exhibiting the fire-faced sweats since Spring Training.

During the spring, they blamed it on the flu or some kind of virus.  I think it is safe to assume he no longer has this virus.  Still, in 65 degree weather, at night, Halladay looked like he might pass out on the mound.  This is a problem that I think might go beyond age or mechanics.  I am seriously beginning to think he may be ill.

I could be totally off base here, but I am worried about the guy.  I cannot help but wonder if the medical staff has done any blood tests or if a proud man like Halladay would even submit to such testing?

This very well could just be Father Time catching up to a man who dominated the pitching world for so long.  Maybe he is just out of bullets.  Maybe the fire-faced sweats are just a combination of the usual work that goes into pitching and a boat-load of stress.  And maybe he will figure out how to locate his pitches again and all will be well with the world.  I hope that is the case.

Perhaps I am just grasping at straws here for an answer.  And I am sure no one wants Roy Halladay to figure out what the issue is more than Roy Halladay.  In the meantime, all we can do is watch and hope for the best.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

One Comeback and One Almost Comeback

The ending of Saturday’s Phillies – Royals game left everyone feeling upbeat and energized.  Kevin Frandsen completed an unlikely come from behind win for the Phillies with a 9th inning, bases-clearing double.  The Phillies hopped off the field with a 4-3 victory.

It was such a positive moment, you almost expected the Phillies to win on Sunday just on that momentum alone.  But sadly, that did not happen.

Everyone has been asking what is wrong with Roy Halladay.  Well, how about, what is wrong with Cole Hamels?  This guy was picked as a front runner this year to maybe even win a Cy Young.  And yet, his first 2 starts of the season were both awful.

Today, Hamels gave up 8 earned runs in only 5 2/3 innings.  4 of those runs came off the 1st grand slam Hamels has ever allowed.  It was also a record-setting day for Billy Butler of the Royals with his 1st grand slam and a career high 7-RBI.

The Phillies offense did look like they were on fire at the start of the game, scoring 4 runs in the first inning.

But the bats went cold as James Shields found his groove and began mowing down Phillies hitters.  And once Hamels was finally pulled, the bullpen did him no favors.  Chad Durbin allowed 2 more runs to score (charged to Hamels) and Jeremy Horst gave up a run in the 8th as well.

Then in the 9th, the Phillies offense attempted a comeback for the second straight night, starting off down by a score of 4-9.  The Phillies squeaked out 4 more runs and fell just one shy of completing the comeback as Erik Kratz struck out after a very good at-bat where he battled to stay alive.

But in the end, it is another loss, leaving the Phillies with a 2-4 record to start the season.  This has not been the start anyone hoped for.  The bullpen, supposedly a strong point, has been terrible.  The starters have been shaky except for Cliff Lee and John Lannan.  And the offense is streaky, just as it was last year.

So what is the cure for all that ails the Phillies?  Hopefully, that is the New York Mets.  They come to town Monday night for a 7:05pm start; Halladay will pitch.

Here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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