Results tagged ‘ Cubs ’

Home Field Clinched Despite Another Loss

Even though they lost 4-3 to the Cardinals on Monday night, the Phillies still managed to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs thanks to the Braves losing to the Cubs.  This team is so good, it seems they can literally do nothing and succeed.

However, this series with the Cardinals also showed that the Phillies have some work to do on offense.  They clinched the NL East title against the Cards, but lost the other three games.  On Monday night, Roy Halladay did not have his best stuff and the Phillies bats did nothing to help him out.

Halladay wound up spotting the Cards two runs in the first inning as his pitch location was off.  He gave up two more runs for four total over eight innings.  Halladay also walked four batters, which is unusual for the potential Cy-Young candidate.

While it was not Roy’s day, it was not a good day for the bats either.  The Phillies only run through eight innings was basically handed to them after a Cardinals error.  They left the bases loaded with less than two outs…again.  In total, 10 men were left on base.

The Phillies attempted a rally in the 9th inning, which was nice to see, but they still fell short.  A double from Carlos Ruiz followed by a triple from Jimmy Rollins led to two more runs.  The triple was the 100th of Rollins’ career. 

But the rally ended after Hunter Pence grounded out with Chase Utley on first.  The fact that the team did not give up until the final out was refreshing, but there are still some lingering questions about this offense being unable to score with runners on base.

Ryan Howard is out of the line-up, probably for most of the week after getting a cortisone shot in his ankle.  Shutting him down now instead of in the playoffs is wise.  Hopefully, he come back rested and feeling better after dealing with bursitis in his foot and ankle all year.

Howard’s return should be a boost for the offense, but the Phillies really have nothing left to play for.  The division is wrapped up, home field is wrapped up and they have 10 games to go.  However, it would be nice to see them win 100 games and even better if they can break the franchise record of 101 wins in a season, set in 1976 & 1977.

The Phillies could reach 100 games today with wins over the Nationals in the doubleheader.  Game 1 begins at 1:05pm.

Worley Wows While Bats Come To Life in Win Over Cubs

The Phillies offensive was very slow to develop on Tuesday.  But on Wednesday, they got off to a quick start with two runs in the first inning.

In the second inning, the Phillies really made Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster work hard in the 110 degree heat on the field.  But with two outs, no one on base and pitcher Vance Worley coming to the plate, it looked like Dempster was going to get out of the inning.  And then Worley smashed a double in the gap between center and right field.

That double precipitated a big inning for the Phillies.  Jimmy Rollins followed with another double to score Worley.  Then Michael Martinez singled in Rollins and Chase Utley doubled in Martinez.  It was a 3-run chain reaction.

But the fun did not end there.  While Worley mowed down Cubs and did not allow a hit until the 5th inning, the offense kept adding on.  Rollins had a huge day with three hits and two homers, one from each side of the plate.  That has only happened four times in Phillies history and two of the four times, it was Rollins. 

Rollins was so pumped after the first homer, he high-fived a bunch of Phillies fans on his way back to the dugout.  After the second homer, other fans caught on and the high-fives came again, only to a bigger crowd.  After the game, Gary “Sarge” Matthews even interviewed a fan about the high-fives.  Needless to say, he was pretty psyched about travelling all the way to Chicago to get high-fives from Rollins.

Martinez also continued his hot streak with two hits, an RBI and two stolen bases.  Utley had two hits, both doubles, and two RBI.  The only starter without a hit was Shane Victorino who is still looking for his first hit since returning from the DL yesterday.

With the offensive support, Worley was able to pitch without pressure and as a result, he went eight innings, the longest outing of his short career.  Worley allowed only one run on four hits and two walks.  Fans are also getting excited about Worley these days as evidenced by the new tee-shirt being sold by Zoo With Roy.  I assume it is a take-off on the shirt to the right, but why is his name spelled wrong?  Just curious…

 

The 9-1 win capped off a series victory against the Cubs.  Thursday is an off-day while the Phillies prepare for a big 10-game home stand with the Padres, Giants and Pirates.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Come From Behind Win After Slow Start For Phillies Offense

The Cubs pitcher, Matt Garza, had a no-hitter going against the Phillies into the 5th inning tonight.  The only Phillie to get a hit through two outs in the 7th inning was Domonic Brown, who hit Garza twice with a double and a single.

In all, Garza only allowed four hits and one run, with the help of his bullpen who allowed the run to score after he was pulled.  It was yet another disgusting, impatient and painful performance from the Phils offense.

In the meantime, Cliff Lee had a rough start to the game, allowing a 2-run homer in the first.  But after the first few innings, Lee settled down and was his usual, amazing self.  But for the second straight Lee start in a row, his biggest problem was the Phillies offense.

In two starts, all Phillies players combined, except for Lee, did not score a single run while Lee was on the mound.  The only run in the last game was a home run, which Lee hit himself.

Only after Lee was pulled for a pinch hitter and Michael Stutes pitched the 7th, did the offense decide to score.  In the 8th, Jimmy Rollins and Michael Martinez singled, then Chase Utley drove them in with a double.  Utley later got thrown out at the plate and the game was left in a 2-2 tie.

This anemic offense is frustrating to watch, especially when you know the potential of the hitters who are simply not living up to expectations.   With that in mind, here is a short list of annoying things that I would rather be doing instead of watching the Phillies offense suck:

- Play the movie “The Sound of Music” over and over and over.

- Ride the “It’s a Small World” ride at Disney World with the demonic puppets that sing like nails going down a chalk board.

- Clean the litter box.

- Watch Jose Reyes of the Mets do the home run trot while signaling “#1″ with his finger.

- Eat peas.

- Spel thungs rong on porpuse.

That last one was painful, much like watching the Phillies offense.

Back to the game…Stutes wound up pitching both the 7th and 8th innings and kept the score tied.  But while the pitching hung in there, what would the offense do?

Lucky for me, they finally decided to stop sucking, thereby saving me from having to perform one of the annoying tasks on my list.

With two outs in the 9th, Ben Francisco and Rollins hit back-to-back singles.  And then, saving the day once again, Martinez doubled to score both runners for a 4-2 lead.  And although he was thrown out going to third, Martinez is still the hero.

Antonio Bastardo served as the closer again, as the Phillies are still taking it slow with Ryan Madson since coming off the DL.  And again, Bastardo was lights-out for his 7th save of the year.

With the win today, the Phillies have a chance to win the series now.  Game three with the Cubs is Wednesday afternoon at 2:20pm; Vance Worley will pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Phillies Win Mets Series After 8th Inning Adventure

After getting spanked by the Mets on Saturday in an 11-2 loss, the Phillies needed a win today.  Kyle Kendrick, sometimes a starter, sometimes a reliever, came through for the team and pitched very well.

Over seven innings, Kendrick allowed only one run on six hits and three walks.  He did not strike anyone out, but got ground balls when he needed to, keeping the Phillies in line for a win.

Kendrick was also one of four Phillies who had a multi-hit game today.  Kendrick’s two singles matched two hits from Brian Schneider and Raul Ibanez with Jimmy Rollins adding three hits of his own.

But the big bang came off the bat of rookie Michael Martinez who hit his first major league home run against Mets pitcher Mike Pelfry with two men on base.  He added a fourth RBI later with a sac fly, so it was a big day for Martinez.

The emergence of Martinez has been great timing for the Phillies.  They will need to lean on him a lot in the coming weeks as Placido Polanco is still having back issues and no one is sure when he will return.  The more Martinez plays, the more he hits, which may force Charlie Manuel to keep putting him out there.

The Phillies kept adding on until they had an 8-1 lead after the top of the eighth.  But in the bottom of the eighth, things got a little hairy for the Phils.

Lefty Juan Perez loaded the bases with Mets on three straight walks without recording an out.  Ryan Madson was called in to clean up the mess.  Madson got two outs, although two runs did score as he gave up a few hits and a walk.  The Phillies wound up bringing Antonio Bastardo in to get the final out and also to pitch the ninth.

Bastardo got out of a wild eighth inning, but wound up allowing a run in the ninth.  It was the first run he allowed since May 25th.  And although the lead was cut down to 8-5, Bastardo finished the game, earning the save.

The Phillies will travel to Chicago next to play three games against the Cubs.  The first is Monday night at 8:05pm with Roy Halladay pitching.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Phillies Win 3 Straight Against Cubs

The Phillies won three of their last four games against the Cubs thanks in part to the big bats of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley.  The fourth game in the series today ended with a 4-3 victory.

Roy Oswalt got off to a rough start, allowing three runs in the first inning.  But after he calmed down, Oswalt wound up going seven innings and did allow another run after the first.

However, Oswalt was involved in a little controversy after being called out on strikes in the sixth.  The pitch looked like ball four and Charlie Manuel shouted from the dugout at the home plate umpire.  He was quickly ejected which led to a few fireworks:

Manuel had reason to be upset.  Prior to this incident, he watched his ball club load the bases twice with one out and score only one run each time.  The bases were even loaded with the exact same players in both the first and third innings; Utley, Howard and Ben Francisco.  Francisco drew a walk each time.

Coming away with only one run in the exact same situation twice had to be frustrating.  It was just another reminder of how the Phillies offense has struggled to score runs.

But the memory was just that….a memory.  Because in the seventh inning, Utley and Howard combined to set things straight.  Utley doubled and then a single from Howard drove in two runs.  Howard had three hits and three RBI in the game.  Utley ended with two hits, a walk and two runs scored.

Utley also made what was probably a game-saving catching to end the game in the ninth inning.  Ryan Madson allowed a single with two outs.  Then Geovany Soto, who hit the game tying homer against Madson on Thursday, hit a fly ball into no-man’s land.  Somehow, Utley got to the ball and the game was over.  Whew!

By the way, today was the annual Father’s Day celebration and catcher Brian Schneider brought his mom and dad.  Dad tossed out the first pitch.

The Phillies are off tomorrow, although they will all be at the Phillies Phestival which starts at 5pm Monday night.  Hope to see you there!

And here is the full Photo Album from the game today.  Enjoy!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Seven Runs Again, But No Bullpen Follies This Time

It seems that Charlie Manuel has found a line-up that works.  Two games in a row, the Phillies offense has scored seven runs.  Friday night, the bullpen gave five runs back.  But tonight, Cliff Lee was in control for eight innings, keeping the pen mostly out of the equation.

Lee was sharp tonight against the Cubs.  He allowed only four hits, two walks and one run.  And just to continue being the well-round player he is, Lee had a hit in the game as well.

And there was more good news tonight.  Chase Utley finally had a Chase Utley-like game for the first time since coming off the DL.  He went 2-for-5 with four RBI, including a two-run homer.  It was only Utley’s third multi-hit game since his return on May 23.

Shane Victorino also has his legs back; he went 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI.  Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez picked up RBI’s as well.

The offense still has work to do though.  Even after scoring seven runs, they still ended up leaving nine men on base and went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position.  But two games with a high run count is a good sign that the Phils could be ready to snap out of this offensive funk.

Antonio Bastardo pitched the ninth inning.  It was his second game appearance in a row in the ninth and he shut the Cubs down again.  The Phillies walked away with a 7-1 win and Lee’s sixth of the year.

There was a short 32-minute rain delay before the game as rain surprised everyone seconds before the first pitch.  Sunday’s forecast is not sunny either.  But with a little cooperation from Mother Nature, game time should be at 1:35pm.

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Polanco’s Grand Slam & 100th Homer Help Halladay Win

Third baseman Placido Polanco smacked his 100th career homer in Friday night’s Phillies – Cubs game.  The grand slam not only marked a significant career achievement, it also helped the Phillies win the game.

Roy Halladay was his usual awesome self on the mound and it looked like he would not need much assistance.  Domonic Brown hit a two-run homer in the second inning to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead.  Then Polly’s slam made it a seven run lead in the seventh.

So after seven innings of no-run ball for Halladay, manager Charlie Manuel decided to give him a little rest and use the bullpen for the final two innings.  That almost wound up being a disaster.

Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero nearly blew the seven run lead, which was especially scary considering how hard it has been for the Phillies to score any runs lately.  Contreras walked two of the first four batters he faced, loaded the bases and had given up two runs by the time he was pulled after recording only one out.

Things got worse when Romero entered and proceeded to walk the first batter he faced on four pitches.  Then back-to-back singles scored three more runs for the Cubs.  Without having recorded an out, Romero was lifted from the game.  The seven run lead had turned into a 7-5 ballgame quickly.

Rookie Michael Stutes was called upon to stop the bleeding, which he did.  Stutes also started the ninth inning  where a strike-out, throw-out double play with a strong toss to second from catcher Carlos Ruiz retired two Cubs in one shot.  Antonio Bastardo then struck out lefty Carlos Pena to earn the save.

While the Phillies won the game 7-5, the performance from Contreras and Romero is raising eyebrows.  Contreras is still struggling with his command since coming off the DL.  Hopefully, time and getting some more work in will correct the issue.  Romero seems healthy, but he is still having serious issues throwing strikes.

The outlook for these bullpen pieces remains to be seen, but it does appear that the back-end of the pen is in the midst of a youth movement.  Both Stutes and Bastardo have outpitched the more experienced Contreras and Romero and will likely be transitioned into the later innings role for the foreseeable future.

Game three with the Cubs is this afternoon at 4:10pm.  Cliff Lee will pitch.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Rain, Errors, Blown Save, Stagnant Offense = Messy Loss

Game one between the Phillies and Cubs had a little bit of everything, although not all of it was good.  Here are just a few of the key events:

  • Jimmy Rollins was back in the line-up and hit a 3-run homer.
  • Kyle Kendrick pitched 3 scoreless innings & his outing was cut short because of….
  • A 1 hour 17 minute rain delay
  • In his 15th attempt, Ryan Madson finally blew a save.
  • Instant replay was used as the Cubs appeared to hit back-to-back homers.  It was ruled a double as a fan interfered.
  • Extra innings due to a 3-3 tie
  • With the bases loaded and two outs in the 10th, Charlie Manuel allowed a pitcher to hit…more on that soon.
  • Placido Polanco allowed the Cubs go-ahead run to score in the 11th on a rare throwing error.

As for the bases loaded decision, Wilson Valdez was available to hit instead of pitcher David Herndon but the Phillies would have been out of pitchers.  Manuel let Herndon hit and he left the bases loaded.

However, Valdez is the team’s lead hitter with runners in scoring position.  And while that statistic says a lot about this anemic offense, it also begs for a different decision in this spot.

If Valdez gets a hit, the Phils win.  If not, he winds up having to pitch for the second time this year.  The first time, Valdez, an infielder, got the job done.  Could it have happened twice?  Probably not, but I think this is a chance you have to take with the bases loaded in this situation.  If he does not get a hit, no one can blame Valdez for giving up a run in the 11th as the pitcher.

The Phillies have had so few offensive chances due to a lack of hitting, I think you have to hit Valdez here, despite the possible consequences.  Most managers would have done the same as Charlie, but thinking outside the box can be a good thing.

So the Phillies lost 4-3, and that stinks.  But Roy Halladay will pitch tonight and hopefully, turn that frown upside-down ;o)

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

5 Big Positives From The Phillies Signing Cliff Lee

December 15th is a historical date.  In 1794, the United States Bill of Rights became law.  In 1933, the 21st Amendment went into effect, legalizing alcohol.  Russians landed on Venus in 1970. And now, in the year 2010, Cliff Lee re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The signing will obviously not impact our society in such way as the Bill of Rights or the 21st Amendment once did.  And it is doubtful that December 15th will be named a national holiday.  However, this is still a historic occasion for the City of Philadelphia.

The following is a list of five ways in which the Cliff Lee deal has made a positive impact on the team, the city and the fans.

Four Aces Are Better Than Three


4 starters.jpgThe entire Phillies team just got a whole lot better.  Adding Cliff Lee to the already dominant rotation of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels has the potential to make the opposition weep like children.

All together, that makes 3 Cy Young awards, 13 All-Star appearances plus an NLCS and a World Series MVP title.  Combining all four starter’s 2010 ERA’s comes out to an average ERA of 2.86.  If they stay healthy, this rotation will be frightening.

Statistics aside, these are four very competitive pitchers who will push each other to do better.  This type of healthy dynamic should inspire the entire team to work harder and expect more from themselves and their teammates. 

Having solid starting pitching also takes a great deal of pressure off the offense.  Players who can relax at the plate will be more productive.  After a down year in 2010, this Phillies offense should be ready to explode.

The City of Philadelphia Finally Gets Some Respect

The City of Philadelphia and their sports fans constantly get a bad rap in the media.  Focusing only on the negative, national press makes Philadelphia look like a war zone. 


240A.jpgYes, some horrible human being threw up on a little girl at a Phillies game.  The Eagles snowballs and Santa disaster begs the question, will the media ever get over it?  That was in 1968.  It is officially time to let it go.

There are idiots everywhere, not just in Philly.  Look at the Cubs fan who threw beer on Shane Victorino during a play in the outfield.  Ask the family of the poor teenager who was killed after a San Francisco Giants game in 2008.  But these are isolated incidents and by no means do they reflect the attitudes or actions of an entire fan base.

About Philadelphia fans, Cliff Lee told the press, “They get excited. They’re passionate fans. They understand what’s going on. They don’t need a teleprompter to tell them to get up and cheer, to do that.”  Lee also stated, ” Yeah, you know, the feeling of playing on the field feels different than anywhere else. I don’t know how to explain it other than you can feel the volume that’s created by the fans and their intensity.”

Lee loves Philadelphia, the team and their fans so much that he took fewer contract years and less money to play here.  Much to the dismay of the national media, Cliff Lee has finally given Philadelphia the respect it deserves.

Philadelphia Just Landed On Every Player’s Wish List

Along with the respect that Cliff Lee’s words and actions have delivered, this signing has also put the Phillies on the wish list of all major league players who are interested in winning. 

The days of JD Drew, who was drafted by the Phillies in 1997 but refused to sign, are long gone.  No more grumblings from the likes of Scott Rolen either, claiming the Phillies have no desire to win.

The Phillies were already on the minds of many players before the Cliff Lee signing.  Roy Halladay made an exception to his no-trade clause last year to come to Philadelphia.  Later in July of 2010, Roy Oswalt did the same.

But the Cliff Lee deal puts the Phillies in a whole new echelon.  They are now able to compete with the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees.  The Yankees lost out on Lee despite offering more money and additional years.  So while the Yankees payroll still far outweighs the Phillies, in terms of status, they are now nearly equals.

Jayson Who?  Losing Werth Is Not So Bad

There was a lot of groaning among Phillies fans when All-Star right fielder Jayson Werth signed a gigantic contract with the Washington Nationals.  Fans having flashbacks to Werth’s monster home runs, a steal of home plate, his rocket arm nailing runners at the plate and the 2008 World Series win, were disappointed that the Phillies did not try harder to sign him.

The facts now show that had the Phillies re-signed Werth, Cliff Lee would not be on the team.  They simply would not have had the money or resources to bring Lee back.

Pitching wins ballgames.  The impact Lee will have on this Phillies team in the long run far outweighs anything that Werth may have delivered.

Werth went where the money was and no one can fault him for that.  But that move further illuminates the magnitude of Lee’s decision to sign with the Phillies for less money.  Lee will be appreciated by Phillies fans everywhere.  Werth will simply fade away into a distant memory.

Ruben Amaro Jr. Is Now A Phillies Legend


P5140472 Amaro2.jpgA Philadelphia native, Ruben Amaro Jr. started out as a Phillies bat boy in 1980.  His father, Ruben Amaro Sr., was the first base coach at that time.  Prior to that, Amaro Sr. played short stop for the Phillies from 1960-1965.  Amaro Jr. also played for the Phillies from 1992 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998 in the outfield.  He became the Assistant GM right after his playing career ended.  Currently the Phillies General Manager, this man has literally spent almost his entire adult life, and part of his teenage years, with the Phillies.

Many were unsure of how Amaro would fare in the GM spotlight, having taken over the job right after the 2008 World Series.  Amaro was doing a pretty average job but did not score big until wrapping up Roy Halladay last offseason.  Most were thrilled with the Halladay signing.  However, the happiness quickly turned to shock when it was announced that Cliff Lee was traded in order to replenish the farm system.

The short half year that Lee spent with the Phillies in 2009 was enough to enamor him to the entire fan base.  His easy-going and unwavering demeanor on the mound combined with his ability to mow down opposing batters made Lee a fan favorite.  He was also the only Phillies pitcher to record a win in that year’s World Series, which they ultimately lost to the Yankees.

To say that trading Lee was a stunning blow to the fans is an understatement.  Even months later and well into the 2010 season, people questioned the move.  Some even went so far as to proclaim it the dumbest move Amaro would ever make.

And while those people may be correct, Amaro created an extreme reversal of fortune by re-signing Lee on December 15, 2010.  The five-year, $120 million dollar dear with a sixth year option completely redeemed Amaro. 

Amaro jumped though a number a very large hoops to make this deal happen.  The biggest of those had to be convincing team ownership, who have been notoriously stingy in the past, to cough up the dough.  This will be the highest payroll carried in Phillies team history.

Respect is not easy to come by in this business, but Amaro has now earned it.  He is a formidable opponent in the eyes of other ball clubs and to his own staff and players, he is a true leader.  More than that, Amaro has earned the trust of this organization.  They know he wants to win both now and in the future.

The Cliff Lee deal has cemented Amaro’s place in Phillies history.  All he is missing now is his very own World Series Championship. 

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Contreras and Sandberg On Board


140a.jpgThe Phillies worked out a 2-year, $5.5 million dollar contract on Monday with bullpen pitcher Jose Contreras.  In 2010, Contreras served a variety of roles on the bullpen, including filling in for Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson when they were injured.  Contreras appeared in 64 games and ended the season with a 3.34 ERA.

The only real concern with this signing might be Contreras’ age; he is 38 now and will be 40 by the end of his contract.  But the Phillies have had some good luck dipping into the senior player pool in the past (Jamie Moyer, for one) so it may be a non-issue.

The Phillies also added Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg to the organization; he will manage the AAA Iron Pigs team.  Sandberg was originally drafted by the Phillies in 1978 but played only 13 games for the Phils in 1981 before they traded him in the off-season to the Cubs in what remains one of the worst trades in baseball history.  Sandberg went on to have an amazing 15-year career with the Cubs, landing him in the Hall of Fame.

Almost 29 years later, Sandberg is back where he belongs.  After the Cubs declined to give him the job as team manager since Lou Piniella retired, Sandberg made his way back to Philly.  The Cubs may have made a huge mistake.  While that does not really make up for the disastrous trade back in 1982, their loss will still be our gain.  And when Charlie Manuel retires, who knows?  It could be Sandberg at the helm.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

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