Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

Phillies Loose Another Wild One

Last night’s Phillies – Reds game looked like it might wind up being an exciting win for the Phils.  Instead, it was a loss, although it was still an interesting contest.

The Phillies took the lead in the game and then lost or tied it again 3 times.  Ryan Howard drove in a run in the 1st and that was all the scoring through the first 6 innings.  Cliff Lee was pitching well, but a slim 1 run lead seemed, as it has all season long, unlikely to hold up.

Sure enough, Lee got into trouble in the 7th and gave up 3 runs, although 1 was unearned due to a Howard error.  The defense behind Lee ranged from spectacular to awful, with the Howard error being of the “awful” variety.

But before that, Lee worked out of a 6th inning jam thanks to some amazing defense.  Kevin Fransden dove for a ball at third, flipped around on the ground and threw home from his knees to get a force out and save a run.  You have to see it to believe it.  It was an incredible effort.

Later in the game, Fransden shined again with another toss from his knees that bounced 3 times and still landed securely in Howard’s glove at 1st.  He also had 3 hits in the game with an RBI-triple in the 8th to once again tie the game for the Phillies.  If they had not lost, Fransden would have been the hero in this one for sure.

But Jonathan Papelbon tossed exactly 1 pitch in the 9th and gave up a solo homer and broke the tie in favor of the Reds.  The 5-4 score was the final.

So poor Cliff Lee gets yet another no-decision in what was a winnable game.  Lee was visibly upset and seen slamming his glove onto the bench in the dugout.  For a guy who normally shows little emotion, this was very telling.  Lee has had enough of this crazy season, as have we all.

And yet, time marches on…and so does this season whether we like it or not.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Where Has This Phillies Team Been All Year?

The Phillies put a brutal 12-5 beating on the Cincinnati Reds last night.  So where has this ball-pounding Phillies team been all year long?  Oh that’s right; they have been on the disabled list.  Sad.

In fact, let us take a look at the 2012 Phillies path to destruction:

That is a lot of injuries.  But with Placido Polanco returning yesterday, the Phillies now have most of their starters back, although some of them from the beginning of the season went to other teams in trades.  And guys like Domonic Brown and Juan Pierre are making this look like a real line-up once again.

Unfortunately, it is probably too little, too late.

Still, any victory is a happy one.  And the Phillies stomping all over the Reds last night was certainly fun to watch.  And everyone in the line-up contributed.  John Mayberry Jr. is suddenly on fire; he had 3 hits, including a 2-run homer.  Pierre also had 3 hits and 2 stolen bases.  Everyone in the starting line-up had at least one hit, which has been rare this year.

Roy Halladay did not get a hit, and he did not pitch very well either.  But it did not matter.  The 5 runs he allowed were easily swept under the proverbial rug since the offense kept on scoring.  They scored in every inning except the 2nd, so each run Halladay gave up did not seem like a big issue.

The Phillies will go at the Reds again tonight and they will have a new, interesting player on the staff for this one.  Remember that awful Cliff Lee trade a few years back…well, one of the fruits of that goof-up is now on the roster.  Phillippe Aumont will take Jeremy Horst’s place on the roster as Horst is now on paternity leave for 3 days.

Aumont has had issues.  His control is not great and he is an emotional guy, easily rattled at times.  He has posted a 4.26 ERA in Triple-A this year.  I guess this is the Phillies way of throwing him into the fire to see if he burns.  Best of luck to him!  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Phillies Bullpen Bombs Again

It is difficult to imagine what must be going through Cliff Lee’s head these days.  He has had his ups and downs, but certainly has pitched better than just the 2 wins on his record indicate.  Last night, he had a quality start against the Brewers, allowing 3 runs in 7 2/3 innings.

But that good start was quickly wiped away in the Phillies cursed 8th inning.  And once again, it was a bullpen guy doing the damage.  You can see the reasoning behind why Lee was pulled with Ryan Braun coming up; Braun had already tagged Lee for 2 homers in this game.  But with the bullpen performing like it has, maybe taking the chance on Lee was a better decision.

That did turn out to be the case as the game was blown wide open for the Brewers thanks to reliever Josh Lindblom, who was acquired from the Dodgers in the Shane Victorino trade.  Lindblom walked the bases loaded and then gave up a grand slam to wipe away the Phillies 4-3 lead and turn it into a 7-4 loss.

And with that turn of events, I think Lindblom has earned himself a new nickname: How do you feel about LindBUM?  Or even better, LindBOMB.  There you go.  LindBOMB has a nice ring to it…and bomb, he did.  In a big way.  Since coming to the Phillies, LindBOMB is 0-1 with a 10.80 ERA.  Ouch.

Nothing personal against the guy; after all, most of the bullpen has sucked all year long.  His name just happens to more easily lend itself to a little joke ;o)  And we could all use a little humor right about now.

The real shame of it was that after being down 3-1, the Phillies battled back and score 3 runs in the 5th on a bases-clearing double from Kevin Fransden.  Oddly enough, it was Fransden’s throwing error in the 8th that caused Lee to be pulled from the game.

So the downtrodden Phils will again try to beat the Brewers this evening at 8:10pm.  Vance Worley will pitch.  Hopefully, he can pick this team up…they need a lift in a big way.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Doc Operates on the Red Birds

It seems like a very long time since we have seen a really good Phillies game.  But with Roy Halladay on the mound last night looking like the ace that he is, it felt like old times again.

After a year of struggles and injury, Halladay appears to be at 100% finally.  Against the World Champion Cardinals Friday night, he pitched 8 innings and allowed only 2 hits, one of which was a solo homer.  That would be the only run of the night for the Cards.

The Phillies are in the process of finding out exactly what they have for next year.  Halladay’s performance was a huge boost in that regard.  They also tooled around in the outfield, moving guys here and there like a roulette wheel to see which one might hit the jackpot.

As a result, Nate Schierholtz played center field for the first time in his MLB career.  Domonic Brown started in right and then both guys got shuffled around later in the game.  Even with all the changes, everyone held their own pretty well.

Brown knocked in the first run for the Phillies with a single in the second that scored Ryan Howard.  The other 2 runs scored on an 8th inning 2-run homer from Chase Utley.  He hit the ball so hard it went into the upper deck of the bullpen in center field.  It looks like Utley has also found his groove again.

The pitching was excellent for both teams, but the Utley homer won the game for the Phillies who walked away with a 3-1 victory.  Game 2 starts tonight at 7:05pm.  Cliff Lee will pitch and try to keep pace with the Doc’s amazing performance.

And a quick congratulations to former catcher Mike Lieberthal who was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame last night!  Lieby looked both humbled and honored as he accepted the award and thanked the fans for their support.  Congrats to him…a well deserved honor!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Howard Turns Boos to Cheers in Walk-Off Win

Since returning after spending half the season on the DL, Ryan Howard has not had much luck getting his bat going.  He struck out 3 times in today’s Phillies - Diamondbacks game and each time, the boos got louder.  But in the 9th, Howard would redeem himself with a walk-off single to hand the Phillies a 5-4 victory and the series win.

Prior to that, Howard was not the only one hearing the boo birds.  Cliff Lee had a rough 2nd inning where he gave up back-to back homers to guys at the bottom of the D-Backs line-up.  His battery mate, Erik Kratz, tried to help him out with 2 hits and an RBI in the game, but Lee is becoming notorious for these odd ups and downs.

In case you missed it, catcher Carlos Ruiz is on the DL with a partial tear due to plantar fasciitis in his left foot.  So we will be seeing a lot of Kratz in the next 4-6 weeks.

The rest of the team sprinkled some offense here and there.  Chase Utley smashed a solo homer in the 5th.  And Domonic Brown went 2-for-4, which is a very good sign.

Brown also took flight on his way to 2nd base for a double.  It is not a bird or a plane, it is Super-Dom:

The Phillies also took advantage of D-Backs errors while managing to avoid most of their own recent blunders.

A run scored in the 8th to tie the game, which was the result of a D-Backs throwing error.  That set up the walk-off from Howard in the 9th.  Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

Tomorrow the Braves come to town, and although the Phillies have little to play for right now, a little revenge from the sweep last week may be in order.  Vance Worley will pitch; game time is 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Fire Sale Still Burning

In an unexpected move today, the Phillies traded Joe Blanton to the Dodgers after he cleared waivers.  The Phils will get either cash or a “player to be named later,” which is usually a low-level minor leaguer.  Blanton will join Shane Victorino along with many other players to join the Dodgers just this week.  At least he will have company.

While the Dodgers are trying to buy a winner, the Phillies are trying dump a losing season.  This last trade of Blanton clears about $3 million more in salary this year, which must be an attempt to avoid paying the luxury tax.

Blanton was as surprised as the rest of us by the move.  He was slated to start tonight’s game against the D-Backs and instead, wound up packing his bags just hours before first pitch.

It also looks like the Dodgers tried to claim Cliff Lee off waivers today, but Ruben Amaro Jr. says they will pull him back.  However, with the rate the Dodgers are throwing money around, do not be surprised if Amaro is maybe planning a trade instead to squeeze a little more out of L.A.  Just a thought…a very scary one.

So is the fire sale over?  Amaro had better be careful to avoid burning this team straight down to the ground…

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

A New Era of Phillies Baseball Begins

Now that the dust has settled on baseball’s trade deadline, there is a lot of information to absorb and process.  And for the Phillies and their fans, there are a lot of emotions involved as well.  I think Ryan Howard summed it up best when he told beat writer Todd Zolecki, “Shane’s been here for a long time. Like I said, (he) was a very big part of this club. It is weird not seeing his face. It’s weird not seeing Hunter. But that’s how baseball works sometimes.”

“Weird” is an excellent description.  Everyone expected major change because of this backwards Phillies season, but it is still strange to see a guy like Shane Victorino in another uniform after being such an integral part of this team for so long.  He was indeed the “personality” of the team as well during their better days; loose, fun and fiery.

Shane was also open, honest and easily approachable, something many fans really appreciated.  I had the great pleasure of spending time with him and his wife Melissa on several Phillies Cruise’s and can tell you they are wonderful, generous people.  I wish Shane and his family all the best; they will be missed.

As for Hunter Pence, his energy will be missed.  But honestly, I won’t miss his free-swinging and awkward plate approach; it totally stressed me out!  But I am sure he will be a big help to the Giants; best of luck to him!

So what did the Phillies really get in return for all these moves?  Well first, they dumped some salary which will help keep them under the luxury tax this year.  They also got 5 new players; 2 major leaguers and 3 prospects.

The 2 major leaguers who will join the Phillies today are right-handed relief pitcher Josh Lindblom and outfielder Nate Schierholtz.  Lindblom has a 3.02 ERA in 48 games this year and should be able to help out the bullpen right away.  Schierholtz is a platoon player and lifetime .270 hitter.  He will be a huge defensive upgrade over Pence, but an offensive downgrade.

The 3 prospects are right-handed relief pitcher Ethan Martin, catcher Tommy Joseph and right-hander Seth Rosin.  Martin was the #7 prospect in the Dodgers top 20 and a former 1st round pick.  He is probably a few years away from the majors.

Joseph is an interesting prospect; he was #5 in the Giants top 20 and a 2012 Futures Gamer.  He is highly touted as a power-hitting run producer with a strong arm.  He will likely either take over for Carlos Ruiz after the 2013 season or be used as trade bait in the off-season.  Ruben Amaro Jr. has already gotten calls from other teams about him.

And finally, Rosin was #19 in the Giants top 20 with a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90’s.  He has a 4.31 ERA so far this season.

These are obviously not mind-blowing pick-ups, but Amaro seems to have gotten as much as would be expected by these moves.  So now we get to see if Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. have what it takes to be everyday players.  How these 2 guys play will determine many off-season moves for the Phillies.

In the meantime, this team still will keep on playing.  Oddly enough, yesterday’s moves seem to have given the Phillies a little spark as they routed the 1st place Nationals 8-0.  Now that the pressure is off and they are not expected to climb out of this huge hole, we may see some better baseball.

Mayberry looked like a new man last night with 2 hits and a walk.  New Phillie Kevin Fransden played amazing defense at 3rd base and whacked a 2-run homer.  And Juan Pierre had 3 hits, although that is not unusual for him.

But the most exciting play of the game was a 2-run inside-the-park homer from Jimmy Rollins.  He sped around the bases so fast, he scored standing.

All of a sudden, the Phillies had everything working.  Even the pitching was going well as Cliff Lee finally notched his 2nd win of the year with 7 scoreless innings.  Now that is the Lee we have been missing lately.

So here are the new Phillies…for now.  Wouldn’t it be nice if, just for spite, they could sweep the Nationals?  Ok, maybe I am dreaming…but still hoping for better baseball ahead!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Streaking & Signing: Things Are Looking Up for the Phillies

It is officially a streak – the Phillies have won 4 games in a row and all 4 came during their final at-bat.  In the 3-game sweep of the Brewers, every game also ended in the exact same score, 7-6.

Tuesday’s improbable win included a 6-run rally in the 8th inning which was started by a 2-run homer from 2nd back-up catcher, Erik Kratz.  To that point, Kratz had exactly 3 major league hits and all 3 were home runs.

Then today, Kratz doubled his major league hit total even while abandoning the long ball.  He recorded 3 hits including an RBI and a double in extra innings to once again set the Phillies up for a late-game win.   Chase Utley also had 3 hits today plus 3 RBI.   Jimmy Rollins got the game-winning hit today and also in Sunday’s walk-off win.

As for the pitching, Cliff Lee was not great on Tuesday, giving up 6 runs.  But the Phillies offense got all 6 back for him in that 8th inning.  Then today Vance Worley had an ok outing, allowing 3 runs in 5.1 innings.  Kyle Kendrick kept him from further damage with 1.2 scoreless innings.

The bullpen has, with one exception, found it’s groove in  these last 4 games.  Only Antonio Bastardo faltered with a 2-run homer to Ryan Braun today that almost cost them the game.  But the late-inning magic bailed him out, even despite another Ty Wigginton error at third base.

But the HUGE bang for the Phillies came earlier today when the Phillies announced they finally signed ace pitcher Cole Hamels to a long-term deal.  A collective sigh of relief was heard around the city.

Hamels got 6 years for $144 million, which is the second biggest contract ever behind only CC Sabathia of the Yankees who got $161 for 7 years back in 2008.  It is the largest contract ever for a Phillie.

It appears then that the Phillies have not given up just yet.  The Hamels signing should be a big relief for guys like Lee, Rollins and Roy Halladay who chose to come to or stay in Philly with the promise from the front office that they would continue to try to win in the long-term.  And these last 4 wins which happened in the most unlikely ways should also light a fire under the entire team.

The Phillies are off tomorrow for the annual Phestival and they will then fly to Atlanta for 3 games with the Braves.  Those 3 games will be very telling as to whether this team can stage an improbable comeback and make a run at a Wild Card spot.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Blown Save Spoils Another Cliff Lee Start

My mother had a saying: “If not for bad luck, you would not have any luck at all.”  I am sorry to say that I now need to pass that sentiment down to Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee.  Can this poor guy get a break already?

Lee’s misfortunes have certainly not all been out of his own control.  But it does seem like whenever he is on top of his game, the rest of the team lets him down.  Did he spill the salt?  Break a mirror?  Walk under a ladder?  Or did a black cat cross his path?

Whatever is causing the bad mojo seriously needs to stop.  Lee went 8 innings against the Dodgers allowing only 2 hits and 1 run on a solo homer that probably should have been caught.  And he would have kept pitching if his team had scored more than 1 run for him.  But he had to be pulled for a pinch hitter.

In a game that wound up going 12 innings, the Phillies basically lost it in that first inning when John Mayberry Jr. failed to utilize his 6’6” frame to reach up and catch that home run ball which barely made it over the fence.  Because the way Lee was pitching, he would have easily pitched all 9 innings and had a 1-0 win.  Instead, the game went to extra innings.

And although it took them until the 10th inning, the offense finally scored some runs.  The Dodgers walked the bases loaded and then Hunter Pence came through with a clutch hit for the 2nd day in a row.  That singled scored 2 runs and gave the Phillies a 3-1 lead with their closer ready to come in for the bottom of the 10th.

But pitching for his 3rd consecutive day for the 1st time all year, Jonathan Papelbon could not get the job done.  He gave up 2 runs allowing the Dodgers to tie the game again.  This was a huge blow to the team, especially coming from a guy getting paid $50 million.  This was Papelbon’s 3rd blown save of the year; all 3 occurred in the last 7 games that he had save opportunities.

Having depleted their bullpen to get this far in the game, the Phillies were left with few options.  By the time the 12th rolled around, rookie Jake Diekman was forced into a second inning of work and he finally gave up a 2-run homer to hand the game to the Dodgers.  Diekman is not to blame though; it was unfortunate he had to be put into that situation.

So another great performance from Lee was wasted in this 5-3 loss.  The good news is that, despite this loss, the Phillies have won 2 series in a row.  They have an off-day today and will return Friday to face the Giants at home.

This next home stand will probably be the determining factor on who stays and who goes before the trade deadline.  The Phillies have to win both series to even have a chance.  Cross your fingers…

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Doc Is In: The Phillies Win

After landing on the DL in late May, Roy Halladay has finally returned to the Phillies.  And his comeback was just what the Doc ordered.

Halladay was on a pitch count to play it safe last night against the Dodgers.  And while it took him a few innings to settle in, he looked pretty good after that.  Doc pitched 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and did not walk anyone. 

Early in the game though, it looked like the Phillies offense was not going to do much to help Doc out.  Against a rookie pitcher making his major league debut, they managed only 1 run through 6 innings.  The one run scored in the first as Chase Utley grounded out with a man on third.

Once the Phillies bullpen took over in the 6th inning, it was hard to imagine them keeping the 2-1 score close, based on recent past experience.  But the Phils needed a late inning comeback in a bad way, which is something they have been unable to do all season.  A lot of that had to do with the bullpen underperforming.

But on a Tuesday night in Hollywood, the script was flipped…finally.  Five Phillies bullpen pitchers held the Dodgers to those 2 runs as if they had been doing it all year long.  And that laid the groundwork for a Phillies comeback.

It was nothing too fancy, but with 2 outs in the 8th inning, the Phils took advantage of a walk and then 2 guys getting hit by pitches to load the bases.  Hunter Pence came through in the clutch situation with a single up the middle to score 2 runs.  The Phillies took a 3-2 lead and did not give it back.

That is 4 wins in a row for the Phillies!  It seems like a LONG time since that has happened…  But can they get 5?  Cliff Lee will give it his best shot this afternoon in the finale; 1st pitch is scheduled for 3:10pm.

By the way, Halladay had some comments after the game in regards to the trade rumors surrounding Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino.  He told Todd Zolecki, “It’s an organization that has been committed to winning and you want to see that continue and obviously there are points where they may have to reconsider how they’re going to go about that, but I hope that’s long after I’m gone to be honest with you.”

In other words, trade Hamels and Doc (and most of the rest of the team) is going to be real unhappy.  How much weight does that carry with team management?  That remains to be seen…

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Photoshop by Jenn Zambri Photography

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