Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

The Inning From Hell

The 6th inning of Sunday’s Phillies Tigers game was officially the worst baseball I have ever seen in my life.  In fact, there is no point in even discussing the rest of the game that resulted in a 4-12 Phillies loss.  This team has fallen far into the deepest recesses of hell…

That one hellish inning included 3 Phillies errors, 8 runs scored by the Tigers, all of which were unearned, a Tigers grand slam and 2 runs scored on walks.  Rookie Steve Susdorf committed one of the three errors in his first major league start; this was a day he’d probably like to forget, along with the rest of us.

Veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins described it best after the game, telling reporters, “That was embarrassing. … If there’s a bottom, this has to be it. I can’t imagine things getting worse than they have this past week, culminating the way they did today.”

And although the trade deadline is just days away, I cannot imagine the Phillies will get much of a return on anyone they plan to dump.  Jonathan Papelbon has done his best to ruin any chances of the Phils getting a good return for him in a trade.  His salary is ridiculous, his attitude is deplorable and he has blown 5 saves in the last month and a half.  He is worth nothing in a trade at this point, unless a team is desperate.

And frankly, nearly everyone else on this team has rendered themselves useless in a trade after this horrific 8-game losing streak.

So what do the Phillies do in the midst of watching this franchise ship sink?  They spend $48 million on an unproven Cuban defector.  The Phillies signed right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a six-year deal with incentives that could push the total salary to nearly $60 million.

I liken this move to what someone with a gambling addiction does…keep betting higher, despite a long, ugly string of losses (ie: Ryan Howard’s extension, Chad Qualls, releasing Jason Grilli, trading Cliff Lee, Papelbon, etc…). Ruben Amaro Jr. is still gambling away this team’s future and it is hard to watch.  I hope I am wrong.  Maybe this guy is worth every penny of that $48 million. But with a track record of contract busts, the odds are not in favor of the Phillies.

Welcome to Hell, Phillies fans.

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Player 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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Bad Weekend Series Leaves Phillies in Limbo

Remember back on Friday night when the Phillies pounded the Mets to the tune of 13 runs?  Remember all those hits and homers?  Ah, memories…

Now back to reality…and reality has hit the Phillies hard this weekend as they dropped 2 games out of 3 to the Mets.  Saturday’s game was winnable, but Cole Hamels floundered again and the offense blew many opportunities.  Sunday’s game was an utter disaster that marked the Phillies 9th time being shut-out this year.

Pitcher Cliff Lee was, once again, killed by the long ball.  The 5 Mets’ runs came off 2 homers and both were hit with 2 outs in the inning.  With All-Star game starter Matt Harvey on the mound for the Mets, Lee did not stand a chance unless he controlled the long ball, which he did not.

The Phillies offense was just as awful; they managed only 3 hits off Harvey and piled up 12 strikeouts.  Domonic Brown got the Golden Sombrero with 4 K’s in the game.  Was it not just 2 days ago this team scored 13 runs?  After their performance on Sunday, you would never imagine this was the same group of guys.

Granted, Harvey is one of the best pitchers in the game right now.  But the 12 K’s tells you that the Phillies could not even manage to make contact with the ball.  Zero walks then equals zero patience at the plate as well.  It was just plain ugly.

And now the Phillies are once again in limbo as management decides whether or not they have any shot at all at making the playoffs.  Personally, I do not see it happening.  This team has lacked consistency all season long; they have too many injuries and no sense of urgency.  But since both the Braves and the Nationals went cold this weekend as well, the Phillies did not lose or gain any ground in the division.  And that will make the decision to buy or sell before the trade deadline even more difficult.

Then again, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. may already have made up his mind after this weekend’s performance.  And certainly no one can blame him if he goes into sell-mode.  This team has not given anyone any real reason to hope, especially after their 2 best pitchers bombed on back-to-back nights.

The Phillies are off today before starting a 3-game series with the Cardinals on Tuesday.  The Cards have the best record in the majors…and that is not good news for the Phillies.

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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 Get Papelbombed for Fourth Time in a Week

Prior to this past week, Jonathan Papelbon had converted all 13 of his save opportunities.  But last night against the Padres, he dropped another bomb on the Phillies; it was his 4th blown save in his last 5 attempts.  Red alert!  The Phillies have been Papelbombed!

Worse than that, starting pitcher Cliff Lee took a 3-0 lead into the 9th inning before the bomb dropped.  After putting 2 men on base, Lee was pulled and the air raid ensued.  Papelbon gave up a 2-run single, hit the next batter and then managed a double-play ball.  But with 2 outs and a runner on third, catcher Carlos Ruiz let the next pitch sail past him, which scored the tying run.

The end result was a mind-blowing, 10-inning 3-4 loss to the Padres.  Please excuse me while I vomit…

The Phillies bullpen is the worst in all of baseball with a 4.67 ERA entering last night’s game.  Now every starter on this team has to think that if he cannot go all 9 innings, he has no shot at a win.  Just take a quick look at the pen’s instability:

-          Raul Valdes bombed and was sent to the minors in May

-          Veteran Chad Durbin was so bad they released him

-          Mike Adams, the $12 million dollar man, has been on the DL twice and may not pitch again this year.

-          Jeremy Horst was awful all year and is now on the DL

-          Michael Stutes, having missed all of 2012 and part of 2013 due to surgery, is once again on the DL.

-          Papelbon has lost his mind/command/sanity??

-          The rest of the pen, except Antonio Bastardo, consists of rookies, most of whom have bounced back and forth from the majors to the minors.

It is sad to say, but this team may have just hit rock bottom.  Start bracing yourselves…I predict more bombs to be dropping in the very near future.  Duck and cover!

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Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Death By Twizzler: Cliff Lee Gets No Decision

You could blame the Phillies pitching, stinky offense or the sloppy defense for last night’s 4-5 loss to the Brewers.  Or you can join me in blaming the Twizzlers.  I do believe that red devil candy somehow sucked the mojo right out of Cliff Lee.  The fact that the evil licorice was handed to Lee by a young Brewers fan reinforces my theory:

Animation by The Fightins

Then again, a few other factors may have contributed to the end of the Phillies 5-game win streak.  For example, the Phils scored 4 runs in the first 4 innings and then the offense proceeded to take a vacation.  There were also 2 errors; a very bad throw from Freddy Galvis and a botched routine grounder my Michael Young.

And then there was Lee.  3 earned runs in 7 innings is generally a good day for most pitchers.  But Lee has looked unstoppable in his previous 6 starts.  That is what made last night’s labor-intensive outing where Lee walked 3 batters so shocking.

He was bound to have an off day at some point.  No one can maintain that pace all season long.

But I still blame the candy.

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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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