Results tagged ‘ Cole Hamels ’

Walks and Errors Kill the Phils in Atlanta

The Phillies win streak has ended at 4 games after an awful 6-1 loss to the Braves in Atlanta last night.  After a lead-off single from Jimmy Rollins in the 1st inning, the Phillies scored their only run of the game.  It all went downhill from there.

Pitcher Cole Hamels had one of the worst starts of his career immediately after signing a huge $144 million contract.  He walked a career high 6 batters, 3 of which came in the 2nd inning and led to 2 runs for the Braves.

Of course, those 2 runs could have been avoided if Mike Fontenot had not made a gigantic error at 3rd base.  He missed a routine ground ball that would have ended the inning without a run scored.  Third base has been a total nightmare for the Phillies with Placido Polanco’s constant back issues over the past 2 seasons.  Polly is on the DL again and neither Fontenot nor Ty Wigginton are able to handle the hot corner.  20% off all Phillies errors this year have happened at 3rd base.

The Phillies have had many 3rd base troubles over the years since after Scott Rolen departed.  Think about this: David Bell, Pedro Feliz and Polanco.  What do they all have in common?  You guessed it…back problems.  And if next year the Phillies decide to try Freddy Galvis at 3rd, he and his back fracture will fit right in:

So the troubles at 3rd continue as do the trouble with playing error-free baseball, starting pitching woes and a sluggish offense.  The other problem the Phillies are facing?  How about Brian McCann.  This guy is a 1-man Phillies wrecking crew.

In 6 games against the Phillies just this year, McCann has hit a home run in EVERY single game, including 1 grand slam.  He has 16 RBI against the Phillies in 2012…so far.  So my question then is, why are the Phillies still pitching to this guy?  Walk him!  Hit him with a pitch!  Throw darts at him!  I don’t care…just please stop pitching to the guy!

Tune in tonight at 7:10pm to see if the McCann curse continues…ugh.

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Phillies photos by Jenn Zambri Photography; McCann photo courtesy of MLB.com

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

Phillies Stomped Upon by Giants

For two consecutive games, the Phillies have gotten totally crushed by the San Francisco Giants.  The 7-2 stomping on Friday and 6-5 10-inning loss on Saturday were just a few more blows to an already deflated team sitting at dead last in the NL East.

On Friday, Vance Worley was great for just over 4 innings…then he suddenly stunk, giving up a grand slam in the 6th.  For the Giants, Tim Lincecum magically returned to Cy Young form after a horrible season.  He had a 5.93 ERA entering this game; but apparently facing the Phillies is the cure for any pitcher in the midst of a 3-month slump.

The best news to come out of that game?  Lincecum embarrassed himself early in the game by walking off the mound with only 2 outs recorded.  He grinned once he realized the error to the great pleasure of all in attendance.  Hey Tim, thanks for the 2 seconds of joy which was followed by hours of agony…

The agony continued into Saturday as Cole Hamels gave up 5 runs to the Giants in 7.2 innings.  While he had some issues on the mound, he did hit his first career home run.  The joy of that moment was quickly tempered by the 3 homers he gave up, including one to the Giants pitcher, Matt Cain.

The Phillies bullpen issues have reached critical mass.  Manager Charlie Manuel does not trust then anymore so Hamels got left in the game too long for a career high 128 pitches.  Then instead of going to long-man Kyle Kendrick either in that inning or in the 10th, Jonathan Papelbon was forced to go 2 innings and gave up the winning run to the Giants with 5 fresh arms sitting in the pen.

What this amounts to is this: The Phillies 2012 season is a total bust.  Hamels may never pitch for the Phillies again.  With the salary situation nearing the luxury tax, the Phils may also start dumping player not named Hamels.  Ugh.

It is not a pretty picture, folks.  I will be at tomorrow’s game attempting to get prettier pictures ;o)  Wish me luck…

 

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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

Can the Phillies Save Themselves?

There is a lot of chatter and trade rumors creeping around the Phillies right now.  Who will stay and who will go?  And, do they even have any real choices here?

One of the predominant theories says that if the Phillies make a strong run in the 2nd half, they may be able to keep guys like Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino.  But to do so would mean winning a LOT of games.

Last night’s win over the Dodgers gave the Phillies a 3-game winning streak.  That is nice, but not exactly a season-saving run just yet.  Yet there were reasons to hope; Joe Blanton pitched extremely well, allowing just 2 runs in 8 innings, keeping the unreliable bullpen at bay.  Ryan Howard hit his first home run of the year.  And Victorino had 3 hits in the game.

But even if this short streak of better baseball continues, is it enough to keep the team together beyond the trade deadline?

Sadly, I believe the answer is no.

The Phillies bullpen needs serious help and a guy like Victorino is exactly what many teams will want in exchange for a solid pitcher or two.  Even a player like Juan Pierre could help out a team ready to make a run at the playoffs.  With Domonic Brown healthy again in Triple-A, the possibility of trading an outfielder greatly increases.  Plus, both Pierre and Victorino have contracts that expire after this season.

And then there is the sad tale of Cole Hamels.  The Phillies failed to get a long-term contract done last year, leaving Hamels close enough to free-agency for him to get a really big whiff of the huge piles of money waiting for him.  If they cannot come to terms, Hamels will be traded before the deadline.

The Phillies really have little choice.  If they know that Hamels will test free agency, the odds of retaining him are slim to none.  Other teams who are not on the brink of the luxury tax and whose teams did not suck this year will be gunning for Hamels.  And if you are going to lose him, you might as well get something for him in exchange.

I am not happy about this and I am sure many of you feel the same way.  But the cold, hard truth is that a very large, steaming pile of poo is about to hit the fan.  I hope I am wrong, but brace yourselves, just in case I am not.

The good news is that Roy Halladay returns to the mound tonight!  In his first start off the DL, Halladay will face the Dodgers at 10:10pm.

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Photo 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…

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Post All-Star Break Baseball Starts on a Sour Note

If anyone was really hoping that the second half of the season was going to be a positive turning point for the Phillies, all hopes were dashed quickly after a depressing 6-2 loss to the Rockies last night.  But it really only took 1 at-bat to see that things were still not going well, as lead-off hitter Jimmy Rollins popped out to start the game.

Did you know that Rollins is in 5th place in all of baseball in fly-outs (does not include line drive outs) with 115?  Shane Victorino is in 7th place with 112.  Hey, at least they are in the top 10 of something, right?

Here are some more not-so-fun stats: Chase Utley has played the field in 9 games this year and has committed 2 errors so far.  The error last night led to an unearned run for the Rockies.  He is also batting just .216.  Ryan Howard, also fresh off the DL, is batting .182.  These guys need more time to adjust to playing every day, but time is running out fast…

The rest of this team, however, is out of excuses.  They are not hitting, playing bad defense and the pitching…well, that has been a disaster.  The bullpen imploded again yesterday as rookie Michael Schwimer gave up 3 runs.

Are you as depressed about this season as I am?  Not sure?  Here, take this test:

We are all pretty much out of reasons for hope at this point.  Now all we can do it hold our breath and wait for the other shoe to drop.  That shoe may collectively include losing Victorino, Cole Hamels, and according to a recent report, maybe Placido Polanco too.

No one really knows what is in store for this team, but we can reasonable surmise, it will not be good.  Continue tuning in to see the train wreck progress!  Game 2 with the Rockies starts at 8:10pm tonight.

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Phillies All-Stars Contribute to NL Shut-Out Win Over the AL

In an 8-0 win over the American League, 3 Phillies All-Stars made big contributions for the National LeagueCole Hamels pitched a perfect 7th inning, probably driving up his free agent value a little bit more.  Carlos Ruiz caught the final 4 innings and had one at-bat, a fly-out to left field.  And Jonathan Papelbon recorded the final out of the game, sealing the NL victory.

Here are a few MLB photos from the game:

And this next set of MLB photos show Ruiz holding his glove and then the glove R.A. Dickey gave him to use in order to catch his crazy knuckle balls.  That glove is almost as big as Chooch!  There is also a nice shot of Papelbon and then more adorable Chooch getting a hug from the Nationals teenage rookie, Bryce Harper:

Melky Cabrera of the Cardinals got the MVP award for the game.  He had 2 hits, including a homer, and 2 RBI.  Some rare events occurred during the game, including 3 triples, 5 rookies playing in the game, and the first shut-out during an All-Star game since 1996, when the game was played in Philadelphia.

The biggest blunder of the game came from 19-year old Harper who lost a routine fly ball in the outfield, which eventually landed behind him.  He also got caught leaning too far off base in a fielder’s choice and was tagged out.

So now we wait until the Phillies return on Friday to see if they have any gas left to rescue their dreadful season.  Roy Halladay will make a rehab start tomorrow so, hopefully, that means he will be back very soon.

In the meantime, here is a fun blast from the All-Star past.  These are a few of my favorite All-Star photos from 2008.  The top one will never get old…it is Dan Uggla goosing Chase Utley to the surprise of many around them, as you can see by my marker edits.  Below that is Utley and Brad Lidge, who appear to be trying to club David Wright. And then there is Mike Schmidt standing up in a moving vehicle (next to Utley) during the All-Star parade to point me out and say hello.  I was one Phillies jersey in a sea of Yankees jersey’s so I was easy to spot and he was clearly excited to see a Phillies fan!  Utley yelled out to me right after that as well.  And yes, that was one of the highlights of my simple existence ;o)

By the way, I am hoping to have my video interview with Ryan Howard posted in the next few days, so stay tuned for that!

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2012 photos by MLB; 2008 photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Stumble Into All-Star Break With Little Hope to Save Their Season

The Phillies were swept by the Braves today in a depressing 4-3 loss.  There was not even a little comic relief, as in Saturday’s loss when Hunter Pence bowled over 3rd base coach Juan Samuel while rounding the bases towards home.  That bit had everyone except Samuel laughing to the point of tears.

The only laughs today came before the game started:

After that, absolutely nothing was funny.  Even the presentation of All-Star jersey’s to Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Papelbon and Cole Hamels was somehow lacking in enthusiasm.

And then fans learned that Shane Victorino was pulled from the line-up at the last moment, prompting rumors of a possible trade or injury.  But what actually happened, according to Charlie Manuel, was that Shane was feeling “down” and had “a lot on his mind…”  And so, Charlie took him out in favor of Jason Pridie.

That turned out to be the only good move of the day.  Pridie hit a 2-run homer and a double, which accounted for all 3 Phillies runs in the game.

Vance Worley battled through 6 innings, allowing 3 runs, which was a nice improvement over his last start where he have up 6 runs in 4 innings.  But despite the quality start, not much was going the way of the Phillies.

There were some nice defensive plays:

But the offense was lackluster, despite having both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the line-up.  The top 4 in the line-up went 1-for-16 collectively, although Jimmy Rollins did go 3-for-3 in pop-fly outs.  I am not sure that is a stat to be proud of, but at least he is consistent (note my sarcasm, in case you missed it).

Ultimately, Raul Valdes gave up a solo homer to who else, but Brian McCann, giving the Braves a 1-run lead that the Phillies failed to overcome.

So the Braves had a nice visit to Philly, complete with attempts to steal young Phillies fans.  Here is ex-Phil Chad Durbin and Dan Uggla before the game playing nice with one of the kids chosen for the traditional Sunday Starting 9:

Actually, it was very sweet.  But Durbin was always that kind of guy; his presence is still missed on this ballclub.

So the Phillies go into the All-Star break in the midst of a complete disaster.  They have won only 1 of their last 12 games and sit in dead last in the NL East, 14 games out of first.  Get ready fans; I am afraid change is coming, and not the good kind.

For a pleasant distraction, check out my Photo Album from the game; just pretend they win and the photos look even better!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Another Nail in the Coffin of the Phillies 2012 Season

The Phillies have lost 47 games so far this season.  Some of them have been very ugly, some of them have been sleep-inducing and some have been downright aggravating.  But last night’s 6-5 loss to the Mets may have been the worst loss for a number of reasons.

For starters, the Phillies were actually able to score 5 runs off one of the best pitchers in baseball right now, R.A. Dickey.  And they should have scored even more.  The Phillies left 9 men on base and went 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position.  They had opportunities and missed out.

Cole Hamels was not spectacular, but he kept the team within a run of the Mets.  Over 7 innings, Hamels allowed 4 runs and walked one batter.  But he was by no means awful.

Then Antonio Bastardo came out in the 8th and actually pitched a 1-2-3 inning.  Based on the rest of his season so far, that was pretty amazing.

The Phillies fought to hang on to that one run lead only to see Jonathan Papelbon, their $50 million closer, blow it in the 9th.  And that is what really makes this one sting more than the other 46 loses.  They stayed in it, they battled and came up short anyway as Papelbon gave up a lead-off double, walked a batter and hit a batter before finally surrendering the winning runs.  It was ugly.

And the timing could not be worse.  This loss puts the Phillies at 13 games out of first place with 78 games left to play.  It is another series lost and one more nail in the coffin of this 2012 season.

Do the math.  The Phillies need to win at least 50 of their last 78 games, based on the current pace of teams in the NL East, to even have a shot at a Wild Card spot with 87 wins.  That means they have to win ALL 22 of the 3-game series’ left and at least split the 3 remaining 4-game series’.  Yes, win or split EVERY remaining series this year.  ALL OF THEM.

Based on the Phillies performance so far this season, anyone out there think that is possible?

It saddens me to say this, but I believe this is the game that signals the end of the 2012 season for the Phillies.  When you look back later for a turning point, this is it.  I hope I am wrong, but things are not looking good right now.

 

 

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