Results tagged ‘ Cliff Lee ’

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.

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

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…

 

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

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!

“LIKE” us on Facebookfor more updates & photos!

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.

 

“LIKE” us on Facebookfor more updates & photos!

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…

“LIKE” us on Facebookfor more updates & photos!

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…

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photoshop by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Showing Signs of Life

The Phillies had not won a series since June 20th, the last time they faced the Rockies.  It is fitting then that almost a month later, their next series win also came against the Rockies.

On Saturday, Vance Worley led the team pitching 6.2 innings and allowing only 2 runs.  The game was almost a rout as the Phillies led 6-2 going into the 8th inning.  But the bullpen struck again, allowing 3 Rockies runs and cutting the lead to a very uncomfortable 6-5.  Jonathan Papelbon was forced into the game for a 5 out close attempt.  The Phillies gave him 2 more runs to play with in the 9th and they walked away with an 8-5 victory.

Then today, Cole Hamels led the charge, pitching 8 innings with only 1 run allowed.  For the first time in a long time, everything was clicking for the Phillies.  Even without Chase Utley or Ryan Howard in the line-up, as it had been pretty much all year, they still scraped out 5 runs.

Carlos Ruiz normally sits for Sunday day games, but he has been so hot, manager Charlie Manuel had to play him.  Chooch did not disappoint and went 2-for-4 with an RBI.  He is now hitting an unbelievable .353…in the middle of July.  Wow.

And Hunter Pence finally broke and 0-for-13 streak with a 3-run homer in the 5th inning.  That had to be a huge relief for him.

Speaking of relief, no one was more relieved to have a little success than Antonio Bastardo.  After allowing 5 runs in his last 2/3 of an inning pitched, Bastardo finally pitched a 1-2-3 inning using only 7 pitches, all strikes.  That 9th inning performance may be the injection of life Bastardo has been looking for all season.

Now I do not mean to be a Debbie Downer here, but keep in mind, the Phillies just beat the 2nd worst team in the National League.  The Dodgers are up next and that team is hanging right in there with the Giants for first place in the NL West.  This will be a much bigger test for the Phillies.

The pitchers schedule to go against the Dodgers are in this order: Joe Blanton, Roy Halladay (his 1st start off the DL!) and Cliff Lee.  This looks like a very solid opportunity for the Phillies if they can continue to build on this momentum.

Game time Monday night is 10:10pm (yikes!).  Bust out the caffeine…

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Happy Cliff Lee Win Day!

Yes, it is the 4th of July.  But more importantly for the Phillies, it is Cliff Lee Win Day!  Appropriately, fireworks and celebration will be seen all over the land!

It only took 3+ months and 83 games, but Lee finally won a game.  Hey, you know what Lee’s favorite holiday is?  That’s right!  Independence / Cliff Lee Win Day!

Over 8 innings against the Mets, Lee allowed just 2 runs, one of which was a solo homer.  He struck out 9 batters and only walked 1.  THIS is the Cliff Lee we have all been missing.  Finally, he is back!

This day was also the first win for Chase Utley.   7 games ago, Utley played his first game of the year after a long rehab of his shoddy knee(s).  In that game, he hit a home run in his first at-bat and then Carlos Ruiz did the same right after.  Oddly enough, that combination set off a 6-game losing streak.

But tonight, Utley and Ruiz went back-to-back again, apparently spinning the universe back into the correct direction and producing a Phillies win.  The earth is back on its axis and gravity is once again in proper alignment.  Whew!

That home run combo gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead which they added onto in the final two innings.  Jimmy Rollins no-hit streak ended and he drove in 2 runs.  And Ty Wigginton added 2 more RBI with a home run in the 9th.

So both Utley and Lee get their first wins of the year with a 9-2 final score.  After the game, Lee had bear hugs for Chooch and was later greeted with a chilly Gatorade bath.

Could this be the big win the Phillies needed to get back on track?  We can only hope so.  Certainly, we can at least see that this team is still capable of winning.

Game 3 with the Mets starts tomorrow at 7:10pm.  Cole Hamels will have to face R.A. Dickey; the knuckleballer has been on fire this season.  But in the meantime, sit back, relax and enjoy the fireworks in honor of Cliff Lee Win Day!  Whoo hooo!

Oh, and Happy 4th of July, too! :O)

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Lee & fireworks photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Phillies Are Halfway to Nowhere

After being swept by the Marlins today, the Phillies are 10.5 games back in the division with a 36-45 record.  It is their worst effort through 81 games since 1997.

It is the halfway point of the season; time to count the bodies and see exactly how big the hole is that the Phillies are digging.  Let’s begin with Jim Thome.  He was traded to the Orioles in exchange for 2 prospects: Class A catcher Gabriel Lino and right-hander Kyle Simon, both of whom will report to Class A Lakewood.  So the Phillies did not even get a player who could help out right now.

If the Phillies were actually contending, Thome might still be here.  But it is the best move for Thome, who will actually get some playing time in the American League.  I wish him the best.

And how about Cliff Lee…when Phillies beat reporter Todd Zolecki asked pitching coach Rich Dubee about Lee’s struggles, Dubee basically pleaded the 5th.  The response given multiple times was, “I’m not going into it.”  Lee appears healthy, no mechanical issues were mentioned.  That leads one to believe that Lee, winless in 13 starts, has thrown in the towel.  I hope that is not the case, but Lee has not seemed right in a long time now.

And the bodies continue to mount.  Jimmy Rollins’ hot streak is over; he is hitless in his last 11 at-bats.  Placido Polanco is 2 for his last 15.  Antonio Bastardo has allowed 6 runs in his last 4 2/3 innings in relief.

The next head on the block might actually be Cole Hamels.  Just announced as an All-Star this year along with Carlos Ruiz and Jonathan Papelbon, it is rumored that the Phillies are shopping Hamels to other teams.  If team management feels Hamels will walk once he hits free agency and this 2012 team is down for the count, Hamels may be gone soon.

That would be a terrible shame, but if the Phillies do not pick themselves up and start winning, Hamels will not be the only casualty.

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

What’s Happened to Cliff Lee?

What in the world is going on with Cliff Lee?  Has he been abducted by aliens and replaced with a look-alike?  Maybe the aliens are trying to clone him for their big MLB invasion plan.  But this guy they left behind is not fooling anyone.  This is not the Cliff Lee we have come to know.

Lee has allowed 20 earned runs in his last four games, including 6 tonight against the Miami Marlins.  He only made it through 4 2/3 innings before getting the hook.  Lee looked so bad, that manager Charlie Manuel actually pulled him when the next batter scheduled to hit was the opposing pitcher.  Ouch.

And it has not just been the last 4 games.  Lee has been up and down all year, with a trip to the DL for a sore oblique thrown in the middle.  So what exactly has happened to this 3-time All-Star and Cy Young award winner?

It seems clear that the only person who can answer that question is Cliff Lee.  And right now, he does not seem to have a clue either.

This is now 13 starts for Lee in 2012 without recording a single win.  It appears someone has stolen his mojo.  Anyone have a self-help book we can toss at him?

But Lee’s season has paralleled the Phillies season as a whole.  It has been a real head-scratcher all around, laden with injuries and disappointment.

The Phillies went on to lose their 3rd straight game tonight, which was a combination of Lee’s performance and a non-existent offense.  The only Phillies run of the game through 8 innings was a solo homer by Hunter Pence.

To recap, Chase Utley is back and the Phillies have not won a game since.  Ryan Howard is on a rehab assignment and will be back soon.  But if the pitching continues along this dreadful path, none of it will matter.

So please, little green men, we are begging you!  Return the real Cliff Lee to us before it is too late!

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Lee Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 475 other followers