Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

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

Rainy Halladay in Atlanta

After Roy Halladay began his first outing of the year by giving up 3 runs in the first inning, it was apparent that things were not headed in a good direction.  Pitching in the sloppy, cold rain did not help either, but it was the perfect metaphor for what was about to unfold for the Phillies.  It was indeed a sad rainy and dreary day.

Halladay did not even make it past the 4th inning.  In 3 1/3, he put the Phils in a 5-0 hole.  And then Raul Valdes added 2 more for the Braves in that 4th inning, to make matters worse.

But I refuse to spew bad things about the Doc.  I will give him 3 strikes, as is appropriate, before I count him out.  While this should not happen, 3 bad starts in a row would signal the beginning of the end.

However, let’s not even go there.  On the bright side, Halladay did strike out 9 batters in just 3 1/3 innings.  And he totally made the day for Braves rookie, Evan Gattis, who pounded a home run off Doc for his very first major league at-bat.  There is night he won’t forget.  Halladay is clearly a generous man.

Was that stretching for a bit of good news?  Probably.  But it is preferable to hanging my head and crying into my oatmeal over 1 starting pitching performance.

On the other hand, this is going to be a very long 5 days…

The Phillies have one last hope to grab a game from the Braves tonight…Cliff Lee takes the mound at 7:10pm.

 

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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

The Phillies Night Before Christmas 2012

 

The Phillies Night Before Christmas

 

Twas the night before Christmas, when all over the field,

Not a player was stirring, as the 2012 season had been sealed.

The bats were stacked in the clubhouse with care,

In hopes that a Championship soon would be there.

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The Phillies were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of trophies danced in their heads.

And Charlie with his new line-up tucked under his cap,

Had just settled down for a long off-season nap.

-

When outside of his house, there arose such a clatter,

Charlie sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window he stumbled, half asleep,

Having woke from a nightmare of his bullpen being taken deep.

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The moonlight lit up the old ‘08 trophy, causing it to glow,

Giving the illusion of a night game on the grass down below.

When what to his wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature sleigh filled with ballplayers in good cheer.

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With his General Manager and ace pitchers in tow,

He knew in a moment it must be Ruben Amaro.

More rapid than the trade deadline, forward they all came,

And he grumbled, and shouted, and called them by name!

-

“Now, Hamels! Now, Howard! Now, Rollins and Utley!

On, Brown! On, Halladay! On, Papelbon and Lee!

To the top of the National League! To the top of them all!

Now run away! Run away! And play some baseball!”

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And then, in a twinkling, Charlie heard, “You The Man!”

From the shouting and cheering of each happy fan.

As he drew in his head, and was turning around,

Down the chimney, Ryan Howard came with a bound.

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He was dressed all in pinstripes, from his head to his foot,

Having tossed his old ankle brace, which was tarnished, with ashes and soot.

But he arrived with a smile and Charlie gave him a pat on his back,

Surely the fully healed Achilles would put him right back on track.

-

Howard spoke many words, and after tightening his shoe lace,

He welcomed Michael Young, who will now man third base.

And with thunderous joy, the fans clapped their hands,

With a few shiny new toys, 2013 is sure to be grand!

-

Howard then sprang to the sleigh, and to his team gave a call,

“You guys are the best ballplayers of all!”

But Charlie heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,

“Happy Holiday’s to all and to all a good night!”

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Photoshopping and re-wording by Jenn Zambri Photography

2012 Phillies Photo Tribute

Drum roll please….

Here is my annual Phillies Photo Slideshow!  The slideshow includes all original photos that I took during the 2012 season; it includes players, coaches, fans, the Phanatic, and more.  Enjoy!

Phillies Holiday Shopping List

‘Tis the season to buy lots of crap!  Black Friday, Cyber Monday….here we come!  The Phillies began shopping early when they signed Kevin Frandsen earlier this month to a 1-year, $850,000 deal.  If Frandsen plays the way he did last year, that small chunk of change could wind up being the bargain of the year.

But the Phillies have a much longer shopping list than that.  Unfortunately, even on Black Friday, not everything is on sale.  Even if Ruben Amaro Jr. camped out in front of All-Star Josh Hamilton’s house all night, I am pretty sure someone with more money would be camped out in front of him in line.  Fold up the tent, Ruben, and let’s work on a more realistic shopping list.

- The first item on the list should be a centerfielder.  I hear our old pal Shane Victorino may come at a descent discount.  But the Phillies seem to be more focused on B.J. Upton, who could rival Ryan Howard for strikeouts.  They both strike out around 30% of the time and neither hit for average.  Regardless, this team needs to shop for an outfielder!

- Bullpen help is needed….badly.  Maybe the Phillies need to look back at a few guys they previously tossed in the trash?  Here are some oldies, but goodies: Our old pal Chad Durbin had a 3.10 ERA for the Braves last season.  And how about Jason Grilli, who was with the Phillies minor league system until they dumped him…he went on to record a 2.91 ERA for the Pirates last season.  But my #1 oldie would be Ryan Madson.  He is coming off Tommy John surgery so the bidding for him should not get too high.

- Third base: Personally, I feel a combination of Frandsen and a drug-free Freddy Galvis can handle the hot corner.  But if you are the type who MUST buy during holiday sales whether you need to or not, here is who might deserve a look:  Kevin Youkilis will be 34 in March, but the guy can still hit for power.  At 36 years, Michael Young is not exactly young anymore….but he would be a solid veteran to keep the spot warm for a much younger Cody Asche in 2014.

- While the team is stocked with starting pitchers, maybe a few small upgrades could help?  You know…get Roy Halladay a bionic shoulder to replace the bum one.  Buy Kyle Kendrick an “All I Want For X-Mas is You” tee-shirt to keep his confidence high.  And for Cliff Lee, donate to his favorite charity and make a pledge to get him more than 6 wins this year.

- Buy baby-faced Darin Ruf a pair of big-boy pants and put him on the big-boy team.  That gamble may really pay off.  What have they got to lose?  And J.C. Penney has a great Black Friday sale on pants right now…

- And the final big purchase for the Phillies should be a stand-up comedian.  When things start to go downhill for the Phils, the comedian can jump in and tell jokes between innings to keep spirits high.  Because as a fan base in 2012, we have all lost a bit of our sense of humor.  You cannot blame us though…losing is just not funny.  Help us all remember how to laugh and smile again!  And if the wins start coming, you can trade the comedian to a more needy team.

Happy shopping, everyone!

 

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Amaro photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The 2012 Phillies: A Season to Forget

The torture that was the 2012 Phillies season is finally over.  And sadly, it ended just as I predicted before the season even began; without a playoff bid.  I was hoping to be wrong about that.

Since the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, each year they have taken exactly one step backwards.  So this year, missing the playoffs seemed like their destiny.  They lost the World Series in 2009; lost the NL Championship Series in 2010; lost the NL Division Series in 2011; and now, the next logical step has arrived.  The Phillies will go home early without even a sniff at a post-season run.

Remember happy days like these?:

For now, they are gone :O(

The first casualties of the 2012 disaster are already accounted for.  Bench coach Pete Mackanin, hitting coach Greg Gross and first base coach Sam Perlozzo have all been given their walking papers.  More fallout is probably on the horizon, but it will probably involve players, not coaches.

So who else should stay and who should go?  Here are some thoughts, starting with the offense:

In 195 at-bats, Kevin Frandsen hit .338, which led the team.  And for an entire month, he played with a stress fracture in his leg, yet he still kept hitting.  I say put him at 3rd base and get a back-up in case of injuries.

If the Phillies do not re-sign Juan Pierre, they are insane.  He hit .307 in 394 at-bats, led the team in stolen bases with 37 and he is the best bunter you can find anywhere.

Bring Shane Victorino back!  After a depressing second half with the Dodgers, his price will go down, possibly to the point where the Phillies can afford to resign him.  John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown can platoon and then the Phils need another outfielder or two.

Needs to Go:  Nate Schierholtz, Ty Wigginton, Michael Martinez.  Martinez is good defensively, but hit only .174 in 115 at-bats.  They can find a better utility guy.  And we are stuck with Laynce Nix for one more year unless someone is willing to trade for him…not likely.

Back-up Catcher:  In – Erik Kratz; Out – Brian Schneider.

Relief Pitching:  Jonathan Papelbon stays and probably Antonio Bastardo.  I will also put in votes for Jeremy Horst and Phillipe Aumont.  The maybes are Jake Diekman and Justin DeFratus, although DeFratus needs to be 100% healthy, which I feel is still in question.  Michael Stutes may return, but no one is sure in what condition.

Please Go Away:  Josh Lindblom – trade him (if anyone wants him).  He has been awful.  This team needs some veteran help in the pen.

Please Come Back: Ryan Madson!

As for starters, unless someone’s arm falls off, stick with the usual 5: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay (pray he gets healthy), Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick.

And of course, all the usual suspects, like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, etc… will be back.  But will they be healthy?  That is the looming question.

To give an idea of how badly the injuries hurt the team this year, consider this: I may be missing some, but by looking at the team stats, at least 49 different players made an appearance for the Phillies this year, rotating in and out of the 25-man roster.  Also, only 2 players of those 49 reached 400 or more at-bats; Rollins (632) and Mayberry (441).  That is scary.

So the season is over and the healing (quite literally) shall begin.  Do you have any thoughts you would like to share about this season?  Feel free to leave comments below. 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Lee’s Effort Returns Phillies To .500

After a disastrous weekend in Houston, the Phillies managed to crawl back to the .500 mark after a 3-1 win over the Mets on Monday night.  Cliff Lee pitched extremely well, allowing only 1 run over 8 innings.  His strong performance kept the Phillies in the game against tough knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey.

For the offense, Jimmy Rollins is on a serious hot streak.  It seems lately that even when he slips up, luck is on his side.  He struck out in the 1st inning last night to start the game, but wound up being safe at first base anyway on a passed ball.  He eventually scored on a Chase Utley sac fly.  Rollins ended the game with 2 runs scored, a home run and a walk.

The home run was interesting; the ball snuck over the right field wall but appeared for a moment to have dribbled off the glove of outfielder Scott Hairston.  Then without prompting, the umpires decided to review the play and correctly called it a home run.  That is the first time I have seen any MLB umpire voluntarily review a play without first being harassed by a manager.  It is about time.

Domonic Brown provided the other run with a solo shot in the 7th to give the Phillies a little more breathing room.  Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the save in the 9th.

This win was a nice lift for the Phillies who remain 3.5 games out of the Wild Card race with 15 games to play.  Realistically, the horrendous Houston weekend probably killed any shot they had at the postseason this year.  So while it is great to see this team playing well, as far as the playoffs, don’t hold your breath.

Game 2 with the Mets is tonight at 7:10pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Playoff Hopes: Fool’s Gold or the Real Deal?

Out of the 9 Phillies Opening Day 2012 starters, 6 have landed either on the disabled list or with another team at some point during the year.  And that does not even include Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who started the year on the DL.  So basically, 8 out of 9 regular starters missed a lot of time this year.  The only one who avoided either a trade or the DL was Jimmy Rollins.

It is fitting then that a 2-run shot from J-Roll last night led the team to a 3-game sweep of the Miami MarlinsCliff Lee did his part as well, allowing just 1 run, which was unearned due to an error, over 7 innings.

The win has placed the Phillies only 3 games back in the Wild Card race, which is something not many people saw coming.  This team was beaten up so badly throughout most of the year and played so poorly that a possible playoff run, until now, seemed impossible.  Here is a look at the Wild Card standings:

But even after a 7-game win streak, is all this new playoff hope just fool’s gold or can the Phillies really sneak in the backdoor?  Consider this:  6 of those 7 games in the streak came against two of the worst teams in baseball, the Marlins and the Rockies.  Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies lost a series to the Mets, who are also pretty bad.

Then again, the momentum of a 7-game win streak could be enough to help elevate the Phillies performance and confidence to the point where they can start stomping on good teams as well.  But we are not going to know if that is possible for a while as the Houston Astros are next on the agenda.  With a record of 45-98, the Astros are by far the worst team in all of baseball.  Losing even 1 of the 4 games against the Astros would be a tragedy.

So maybe this series could be a descent barometer after all.  Because if the Phillies struggle against the Astros, I think the faint light of playoff hopes would be markedly dimmed.  But if they beat the crap out of the Astros, as they very well should, then go ahead and keep the light of hope burning.  Then we can all say, “Watch out National League!  Here come the Phillies…”

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9th Inning Walk-Off Gives Phillies a Win Over the Rockies

The start of Friday night’s Phillies game against the Rockies was painful to watch.  Cliff Lee did not start off very well, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits in the 1st inning.  Michael Martinez made an error at 3rd base, which extended the inning.  In all, not a great beginning.

But Lee settled down after the 1st inning snafu.  However, the Phillies offense seemed content to keep blowing opportunities.  Ty Wigginton got a rare start at 1st base, but the rust from sitting on the bench was very apparent.  He struck out in all 3 at-bats, twice when there was 1 out and a runner on 3rd base.  Worse, Juan Pierre was on base both times and managed to steal 2 base the second time around.  Still, Wigginton could not get the runs home.

Clearly not his night, manager Charlie Manuel decided to pinch hit for Wigginton in the 7th.  That move proved to be a momentum changer as Laynce Nix smashed a 2-run double to tie the score.  Then 4 bullpen guys held the lead from the 7th to the 9th inning, giving the Phillies a chance to win.

In the bottom of the 9th, Jimmy Rollins worked out a lead-off walk and Pierre, already with 3 hits on the night, put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner over.  The Rockies intentionally walked Chase Utley and Nate Schierholtz stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter.  A wild pitch moved Rollins to 3rd and Schierholtz then singled to right, scoring Rollins for the walk-off win.

This has been a tough year for Schierholtz who got traded here from the Giants mid-season, giving him hope of more playing time and a chance to prove himself.  But a broken toe sidelined him in mid-August, just as he was getting comfortable in the line-up.  Schierholtz was activated off the DL on September 1st and had not had a hit since returning until last night.  That walk-off single had to be quite a relief for him.

The Phillies have two more games with the Rockies; Cole Hamels will pitch tonight and then Tyler Cloyd on Sunday.  I will be attending both games and hope to return with some photos if the weather cooperates.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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