Results tagged ‘ Cole Hamels ’

Hamels Gets 1st Win as Chooch Returns for Sweep of Mets

Perhaps it is fitting that Cole Hamels did not get his first win of the season until the day Carlos Ruiz returned from a 25-game suspension.  Throughout the weekend, the Phillies suddenly began to show signs of life.  Maybe a lot of that had to do with the anticipation of Chooch’s return.

After losing 3 of 4 to the Pirates, the Phils proceeded to storm New York and sweep the Mets in 3 games.  Kyle Kendrick shut them out on Friday and Jonathan Pettibone collected his first major league win on Saturday.  Then Sunday afternoon, Hamels held the Mets to 1 run to complete the sweep.

While Ruiz did not have a huge impact on the game, going 1 for 4, his mere presence did seem to have everyone in high spirits.  The game was tied 1-1 going into the 7th; in previous games, this lack of offense would have had the entire team tied up in knots, pressing at the plate.  But today, everyone was a little more relaxed.

That 7th inning was the key; Laynce Nix came through again as a pinch-hitter with a 2-out single and Jimmy Rollins followed with a single of his own.  Then Ryan Howard, who did not start the game, smacked a 2-run, pinch-hit double to put the Phillies on top.  Chase Utley singled to score Howard and add to the lead.

Even the bullpen finally looked normal.  Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon each pitched a scoreless inning to nail down the 5-1 win.  This is the team we have all been waiting to see.  The question is, can they keep the momentum going?

Monday is an off day and Tuesday, the Phillies will be in Cleveland to take on the Indians at 7:05pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Offense on Locke-Down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Phillies Offense Has Sprung a Leake

In 2012, the Phillies faced Reds pitcher Mike Leake twice and destroyed him to the tune of 13 runs.  He had an overall ERA against the Phils of 17.55.  Ouch.  But last night, this team sprung Leake from his Phillies prison, allowing him to mow them down one hitter after another.

Ah, sweet freedom for Mr. Leake.  He must be quite relieved this morning.

On the exact opposite side, the Phillies probably got little sleep due to nightmares.  Some people have nightmares about standing naked in a crowd.  The Phillies are probably having nightmares about standing at home plate without a bat.  They may as well have been standing there without one if they were never going to use it.

And that pretty much describes this entire 6-game road trip which went down in flames after getting swept in 3-games by the Reds.  They scored only 10 runs in all 6 games and came away with just 2 wins, both against the Marlins.

Granted, it is very, very early in the season.  The Phillies have time to make up ground, however, these are very serious issues.  At some point, one has to question whether or not this team is capable of more.  But we will not really know until we see the whole team together as it was meant to be; that means when Carlos Ruiz returns and we also finally see what Delmon Young has to offer.  Ruiz cannot return due to suspension until April 28th.  And Young is still on the DL, although he has been participating in extended Spring Training games.

To make matters worse, Domonic Brown left the game early with a sore back; he will have an MRI today.  And John Lannan, who got pounded for 6 runs in 1.2 innings last night, complained of a sore knee after the game.  His status is unknown.

Do not be surprised if manager Charlie Manual decides to shake up the line-up tonight against the Cardinals.  And say a prayer that Cole Hamels can get his first win of the season; although, he may need a little offense to get that done.  *Sigh.*

Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

One Comeback and One Almost Comeback

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hamels Hammered on Opening Day

The Phillies got crushed by the Braves on Monday night in a 5-7 Opening Day loss.  But let us begin with a bit of good news…Chase Utley was amazing.  Utley collected 3 RBI on a homer, single and a triple, coming just a double short of hitting for the cycle.  And that concludes the ‘good news’ portion of the program…

In the bad news category, Cole Hamels faltered once again in his first start of the season.  Hamels has now lost his first start of the season in 5 of his last 7 attempts.  This year was different as he finally got to start on Opening Day, so the expectations were high.  Allowing 5 runs in 5 innings, including 3 home runs, was not exactly what everyone had hoped for.

I blame the facial hair.  Hamels had a full beard and mustache through most of Spring Training.  On Friday afternoon, the hair was still there.  But by Friday evening into Saturday, the beard disappeared.  Finally, by Monday at game time the fuzz was history.

I think all the furry drama threw his game off.  It was truly a hairy situation.

Facial hair aside, not much went right for the Phillies last night.  The offense, mostly Utley, kept trying to bail Hamels out, but the Braves just kept the runs coming.  And then Chad Durbin wound up allowing 2 more runs in relief without recording an out.

The main thing to focus on now is that this is just one game.  It was certainly a hugely disappointing game, but still a drop in the bucket.

The Phillies are off today; the next game with the Braves is Wednesday at 7:10pm.  This will be an interesting one as Roy Halladay makes his first start of the season.  Facing a potent Braves line-up will be a good test of whether Halladay is really ready to go or not.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Add More Pitching & Hamels Gets an Unpleasant Surprise

The Phillies have added three right handed pitchers;  Juan Cruz, Aaron Cook and Rodrigo Lopez.  They have each been asked to attend Spring Training as non-roster invitees on minor league contracts.

You may remember Lopez (photo to the right); he started 5 games for the Phillies in 2009.  He spent the last 2 years with the Cubs and in the minors.  Lopez, 37, has a career 4.82 ERA in the majors and compiled a 5.28 ERA in the minors last year over 18 games.

Cook and Cruz are both 34 years old.  Cook posted a 5.65 ERA in 18 starts with the Red Sox last year and will get $1.625 million if he makes the roster.  Cruz was with the Pirates in 2012 and went 1-1 with a 2.78 ERA in 43 games.

The combined age of all three pitchers is 105.  Clearly, these signings were not meant to help the team get any younger.  These are just more spare parts in case Cole Hamels breaks a finger nail or Roy Halladay’s arm falls off.

Hamels is already having a rough off-season.  In October, the star pitcher apparently had a sore shoulder, which the Phillies have since downplayed as being nothing serious.

And more recently, Hamels found out that the Philadelphia school system flat out lied to him in regards to donations he and his wife made to 3 Philly schools that are now slated for closure.  They were assured these schools would remain open.  The Hamels Foundation is now trying to save those schools so that the playgrounds and library they helped build do not get torn down and turned into apartment complexes or the like.

At least Spring Training is almost here…26 days to go!

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Photo 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.

-

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.

-

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.

-

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!”

-

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.

-

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

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

Bookend Homers Launch Phillies Over the Mets

On Wednesday night, the Phillies won the game over the Mets in 2 bookend innings, the 1st and the 9th.  In between, not much happened.

Jimmy Rollins led the game off with a solo home run.  That turned out to be the only hit for the Phillies until John Mayberry Jr. singled in the 8th.  It was also the only run of the game for the Phils until there were 2 outs in the 9th inning.

In between, Cole Hamels allowed 2 runs over 6 innings and hit the 200 strike-out mark for the season with 10 on the night.  But although he pitched well, the Phillies were not hitting….at all.

Suddenly, with the game on the line, Chase Utley drew a 2-out walk in the 9th.  Ryan Howard stepped to the plate for what appeared to be the probable end of the game.  Howard has looked like a blind man at the plate recently.

Even Howard’s body language has spoken volumes about his struggles.  Staring up at the sky in frustration is a familiar look for him after an out.  But what we have witnessed in the last several weeks is different.  Howard’s head droops down in defeat as he solemnly jogs to 1st base after a weak ground-out.  This is beyond frustration.

But Mets pitcher Josh Edgin had the cure for what has been ailing Howard.  It was an up-and-in fast ball, right in the Howard happy zone.  Edgin tossed him a cookie and Howard sent it screaming into the seats.  The 2-run last minute blast gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead, which Jonathan Papelbon nailed down in the bottom half of the 9th.

Whether or not that home run will break Howard’s sad spell at the plate remains to be seen.  But it certainly could not hurt.

The Phillies will try to sweep the Mets tonight in a make-up game that was previously rained out on Tuesday.  Game time is 7:10pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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