Results tagged ‘ Diamondbacks ’

Pitching Brings Phillies back to Earth

Today, with the bases loaded, 2 outs and Ryan “Steroids” Braun at the plate, friggin’ Aaron “I hang ‘em, you bang ‘em” Harang gave up a grand slam home run.  The Brewers were them up 0-6 by the 5th inning.  And this is a perfect example of how bad Phillies pitching has been.

Sure, the Phillies had the best record in baseball coming out of the All-Star break up until about a week ago.  Well, they have now returned to earth, mostly thanks to crapping pitching.  After sweeping the Padres last weekend, the Phillies lost 2 of 3 to the Diamondbacks and will now get swept by the Brewers (they are losing 0-6 in the 7th as of the time I post this).  Aaron Harang is a large part of the problem, with a 7.75 ERA in his last 7 games prior to today’s game.

But he is not the only one.  Jerome Williams, although better his last few starts, still has a 6.00 ERA in his last 15 games.  David Buchanan was finally sent down to the minors with a 9.00 ERA, also in his last 15 games.  After allowing 25 earned runs in 3 games, I am not even sure he belongs in the minors; perhaps bagging groceries is in his future?  Rounding out the starting pitching nightmare are Aaron Nola and Adam Morgan, who have been okay, as far as rookies go.
P4261085TA few guys in the bullpen look awful as well.  Justin DeFratus is pitching himself back to the minors with an 8.68 ERA in 7 games.  Adam Loewen has a 15.43 ERA in his first two appearances for the Phillies, prior to today.  Luckily, the rest of the pen has been ok, but with all the starters leaving games early, that may change due to exhaustion. And while the offense is still racking up hits, they are suddenly having trouble scoring those runners.  The bad starting pitching has put more stress on the hitters and they are shrinking under the pressure, which is not unusual for a young team. P4261235AP

But what really has me stressed out is the impending departure of my favorite player, Chase Utley.  Nothing is certain yet, but it does look like a lot of teams are bidding on him since he cleared waivers.  Since coming off the disabled list, Utley is batting .500 with 5 doubles, a homer and 5 RBI in 26 at-bats, proving he is healthy again and upping his trade value.  Sure, trading him is the right thing to do so he will have a shot at another championship, but it doesn’t make it suck any less.  I have been admiring Utley for 13 years; this team will not be the same without him.  But for now, he is still here…stayed tuned!

The Phillies are off on Monday and then play two games against the Blue Jays starting on Tuesday.  Game time is 7:05pm.

Five Wins in a Row!

It’s a miracle!  The Phillies have won 5 consecutive games!  So I learned many things at today’s Phillies game.  First, this team can actually win games.  Next, Jonathan Papelbon has a tramp stamp and Odubel Herrera can fly.
2015.05.17 Papelbon-Herrera

P5172014AVAnd finally, getting hit in the face with a ball hurts.  Sean O’Sullivan does not recommend it.  Perhaps next time, catcher Cameron Rupp will wait to toss the ball until someone is actually paying attention?  Just a thought.

Aside from that little once every several decades incident, O’Sullivan had a great day.  He pitched 6 scoreless innings and earned his first major league win since the 2011 season.  And he was finally healthy; until, of course, Rupp whacked him in the face.  But he seemed to be okay afterwards.
2015.05.17 OSul

Ben Revere led the offense with 3 hits, a walk and an RBI; he is starting to look like the guy who almost won a batting title last year.  And Maikel Franco has certainly added some excitement the Phillies line-up.  In addition to a triple, he hit his first major league home run today.  Darin Ruf also homered and had 2 hits.  And even Ryan Howard helped out with a pinch-hit single in the 7th.
2015.05.17 Offense

Obviously, this team needed a spark and maybe Franco is that guy.  Although, I still think Cody Asche got a raw deal being sent to the minors to “learn” left field.  He could have done that just as easily here.  That brings us to the most awkward part of the day; the Asche whiffle ball and bat set that was handed out to kids entering the gates today.  Too bad Cody had to miss it.

And now for the O-M-G moment of the day: After the game, Chad Billingsley was put on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder.  So after two elbow surgeries and only 3 starts with the Phillies, Billingsley could well be done.  Hector Neris has been recalled to take his place on the roster.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

A Phillies Miracle – They Win on a Sunday

The Phillies were beginning to give new meaning to the phrase “Day of Rest” after losing their last 9 Sunday games.  It has been less rest, and more of a coma.  But today a miracle occurred and they won a Sunday game, beating the Diamondbacks by a score of 4-2.  Yippee!

Roberto Hernandez had a very good day, allowing only 2 runs over 7 innings.  I should qualify that by saying he had a good day pitching because, have you seen this guy swing a bat?  He looks like a 3 year old holding a 20 pound piece of lumber.  At one point, he actually swung at a pitch after the ball was already in the catcher’s glove and the catcher was reaching in to take the ball out.  Seriously.  But hey, nice job on the mound, Roberto!  And thanks for the extra entertainment.
072714 Hernandez

The offense was kicked into gear by Ryan Howard, who is out to prove something after being benched for 3 games earlier this week.  He smacked a 2-run homer in the 1st inning; it was his first homer in Philly since June 1st.
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Howard was also involved in a home plate controversy later in the game.  After not immediately hustling around the bases on a Marlon Byrd fly ball, Howard finally sped up when the ball was dropped.  While he should have been out at home (by a mile), the out call was overturned on replay as the D-Backs catcher was blocking the plate.  While I am happy the Phillies got the run, I have to say this home plate no-collision / no blocking rule is utterly ridiculous.  No way should Howard have been safe, but he got by on a technicality.  Can’t we just go back to bowling over the catchers and be done with this silliness?

So the Phillies did go on to score another, non-controversial run as Wil Nieves scored on a double by Ben Revere.  And yes, the Phillies managed to win a game with only 4 hits, thanks to several D-Backs errors.  The Phillies defense was solid and kept them in the game.
072714 O and D

There were some other great non-baseball moments today, including armed services members being honored, as the Phillies do every Sunday.  But this one almost brought everyone to tears as a little boy was reunited with his mother after a deployment and video of the boy crying hysterically were shown on the big screen.  Kudos to the Phillies for a very touching moment.
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Here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The Phillies start a series in New York tomorrow against the Mets.  And the trade deadline is almost here…who will stay and who will go?  We shall see…

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Halladay Shows Signs of Life In Return After Surgery

After missing 3 months of the season due to right shoulder surgery, Roy Halladay finally returned to the mound for the Phillies yesterday.  The stars aligned in favor of Sunday ticket holders when the Phillies used up originally scheduled starter Tyler Cloyd in Saturday night’s 18 inning, 7-hour marathon loss to the Diamondbacks.  Halladay was supposed to make a rehab start in Reading on Sunday, but was instead called back to the bigs.  Sorry, Reading fans.

Reading’s loss was Philly’s gain.  Halladay looked a little rusty at first, but eventually found his groove.  Over 6 innings, he allowed only 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks.

Halladay may have given up more if not for the magic glove of Roger Bernadina.  In the 3rd inning, Bernadina made a spectacular jump at the centerfield wall to steal a home run away from Matt Davidson.  Then in the 7th, he made an amazing diving grab on a hit ball that appeared to have no chance of being caught.


On offense, Bernadina ended a 0-19 streak on Saturday with 2 hits in that game.  Then in addition to his fun fielding on Sunday, Bernadina collected 2 RBI on double in the 6th inning.  Maybe some regular playing time will get his bat going.  So far, so good.

It was a good day for offense overall.  Darin Ruf sparked the Phils in the 1st inning with an RBI single. Cody Asche had 2 hits and 2 RBI, Chase Utley went 1-1 as a pinch hitter and John Mayberry Jr. smacked a 2-run homer and also had a walk.

Both Asche and Ruf have been impressive both in the field and at the plate.  They are probably close to cementing their places in the line-up next year.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game, including a lot more of Mr. Halladay.

So they might not be making the playoffs, but at least Phillies baseball is a bit more fun to watch now!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Howard Turns Boos to Cheers in Walk-Off Win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Offense Finally on a Roll…

In the last two games, the Phillies have scored a total of 15 runs.  Since the start of the season, it did not look like that sort of run production was ever going to happen.  But Wednesday’s 7-2 win over the Diamondbacks may actually signal the awakening of this offense.

Cole Hamels certainly helped the situation with another great start, putting the Phillies in position to win.  Through 8 strong innings, Hamels allowed only 2 runs on 4 hits and struck out 7 batters.  He also lit things up at the plate with a 2-run single in the 6th inning.

This game was a real team effort, with everyone in the line-up contributing, even if it was just a sacrifice to move runners.  The biggest stand-out though was Placido Polanco who looked like the player of old.  He was on base after every at bat with 3 hits, 2 walks and an RBI.

Carlos Ruiz also had a 3-hit game and Hunter Pence collected 2 hits.  Now if the Phillies can just get Jimmy Rollins going, this might actually be a descent line-up again.

Thursday is an off-day with a 4-game home series beginning with the Cubs on Friday.  You know what the cure for a suffering offense is?  That’s right…the Cubs.  Cross your fingers…

Injury Updates:

As you may have heard, relief pitcher Mike Stutes is on the DL.  He has not looked the like the vibrant pitcher he was since about the final month of last season.  While this is concerning, his replacement, Michael Schwimer looked very sharp in Wednesday’s win.

As for Ryan Howard, he is still taking it easy.  But his wound is finally healing which means he may be able to start real baseball activity within the next week.

And my favorite topic of discussion, Chase Utley: Reportedly, Utley is feeling no knee pain while batting and some pain while fielding.  He took batting practice in Arizona with the team and many were encouraged by his swing.  However, here is a word of caution about all the optimism…

As a person with chronic knee issues, worse that what Utley has, I can tell you this; I also feel no pain while swinging a bat…ok, in my knees at least ;o)  The joint rotation does not bother me.  However, running and anything involving impact, like chasing ground balls, is a whole other story.

I have not been able to play serious baseball since I was 16 years old after blowing out both my knees.  But it was not because I could not still hit; it was because I could not run.  All these years later, I can still hit, but I still cannot run and never will.  Are you following my thought process here?

Granted, I have worse issues that Utley.  But my point is, yes, he looks good hitting.  But the real test will be impact movements, like running.  The fact that Utley still has some pain while fielding is not a good sign.  Running is generally more strenuous than fielding due to the repetition of the impact on the knees.  So if it is hard to field, running will only make that worse.

I am a huge Chase Utley fan and I would love nothing more than to see him get better and back to his old self.  However, all of this makes me very nervous.  If he comes back too early, he can do more damage to his knees.  But we all want him to come back sooner than later and I am sure he does as well.

So be optimistic; but be cautiously optimistic.



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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography


Phillies Find Runs in Arizona

After 3 straight ugly losses, the Phillies finally found some runs in the Arizona desert against the Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.  Like a dying man searching for water, each player drug his tired body to the plate and kept trying until they succeeded.

The offensive outburst included 8 runs with 3 home runs, a double and a triple.  That is a far cry from the pitiful one-run or no run games the Phillies have been producing lately.  But the question now is, was this run explosion the real deal or just a desert mirage?

A quick look at the stats show the Phillies are not out of trouble just yet.  For example, Jimmy Rollins went hitless…again.  And half of the Phillies hits and 5 of 8 RBI’s were collected by bench players.  Laynce Nix had a huge night with 2 hits and 3 RBI, including a home run; and Pete Orr went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI.

But some of the regulars stepped up as well.  Hunter Pence missed the last game with a sore shoulder.  But on Tuesday night, he smashed a 2-run homer.  Maybe he should hurt his shoulder more often?  Ok, maybe not…

As for the pitching, Vance Worley was spectacular again.  He went 6 innings allowing only 1 run.  The bullpen, on the other hand, had some issues.  Jose Contreras bombed in the 7th, allowing 3 runs right after the Phillies had a 3-run inning.  That is the equivalent of a mortal sin in bullpen terms.

Then in the 8th, Chad Qualls committed the same sin, allowing one run after the Phillies had just scored one in the top of the inning.  It was the first run Qualls has allowed so far this year, so he is forgiven ;o)

Regardless, a win is a win and this one was HUGE for a struggling team that is trying to dig themselves out of a hole early in the season.  Game 3 with the D-Backs is early today; 3:40pm.  Cole Hamels will pitch.


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Help Wanted for Troubled Phillies

Watching the Phillies play these days is about as much fun as getting a root canal, and just as painful.  Sunday’s 2nd consecutive loss to the Padres was probably the ugliest game of the year so far with 3 Phillies errors and 2 more horrible plays that were not “official” errors.

Combine that with a lousy 8 hits and 1 run scored and the 6-1 defeat was basically a massacre.  I would call it a Comedy of Errors, but in truth, none of this is very funny.

I had a pretty good sense of humor about through the first 15 games.  But this 16th game has just about put me over the edge.  Sure, it is still early.  But the Phillies are perfectly well capable of burying themselves so far in the standings by the end of April that they may not recover.

The offense is so bad right now, it is difficult to see a way out of this disaster.  If I were the GM, I may actually consider pulling random strangers off the street to see if they can follow simple directions and swing at actual strikes.  Put a “Help Wanted” add in the paper.  I’ll be the first one in line.  I may take my cat with me too…surely he can hit better than some of these guys.  And all he requires to do so is some tuna fish.

Seriously, I am sure the Phillies players are just as upset about their performance as we are.  I feel for them.  They don’t like root canals either.

But those guys that are suffering through this are the only ones who can turn it around.  So as much as we would love to will them to get better or find a magic pill to feed them, there is no quick fix.  And we cannot place blame on any one or two individuals.  This is a catastrophe that everyone has had a hand in, from the GM all the way down to the bat boy.  Ok, maybe not the bat boy, but you get my point.

The good news is, this is not something they cannot still recover from.  But if they bomb again in the next 3 games against the Diamondbacks, this team will be in for a not-so-friendly homecoming on Friday.

Game 1 with the D-Backs starts at 9:40pm tonight with Kyle Kendrick pitching in place of the injured Cliff Lee.


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Phillies Make History With 102 Wins

The Phillies ended the 2011 regular season with 102 wins after a 13 inning  4-3 victory over the Braves.  The 3-game sweep knocked the Braves out of the playoffs and also set a new record for the Phillies.  The franchise mark of 101 wins in a season has been surpassed, making this 2011 team statistically the best in Phillies history.

It also made Charlie Manuel the best manager in Phillies history.  His 646th win with the team surpassed the previous record of 656 held by Gene Mauch.

And as usual, the Phillies fought for their manager until the very end.  The game lasted 4 1/2 hours and 13 innings with 17 total pitchers used between the two teams.  The pitching was very good all around for both and hits were hard to come by; 11 for the Phils and 10 for the Braves.

In the 13th, Hunter Pence finally broke up the stalemate, knocking in the winning run with an RBI-single.  He had two hits in the game, as did Chase Utley, Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard.

By beating the Braves, the Phillies basically chose their own opponent.  The win handed the Wild Card spot to the Cardinals.  The Phillies struggled against the Cards in the regular season, winning only 3 games out of 9.  But coming off the momentum of this 3-game sweep and making Phillies history, the team should be ready to face the Cards again.

In the American League, the Red Sox are out, having lost what was previously and 8.5 game lead in the Wild Card race.  As they crashed and burned against the lowly Orioles again, the Tampa Bay Rays climbed out of a 7-0 hole to beat the Yankees and take the Wild Card spot.

So here is how the NLDS and ALDS line-up:

  • Phillies vs. Cardinals
  • Brewers vs. Diamondbacks
  • Yankees vs. Tigers
  • Rangers vs. Rays

The first game for the Phillies is this Saturday; no time has been announced yet.


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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*

Down Four Starters, the Phillies Rise Above Both the DBacks & the Rain

The Phillies began the game against the Diamondbacks last night without four of their starting players.  After pleading his three game suspension down to two games, Shane Victorino began that suspension last night.  And then Ryan Howard sat out with a sore hand and Carlos Ruiz was benched with a sore groin.  And of course, Placido Polanco is on the DL.

But the lack of star power in the line-up had little effect on this Phillies team, which is strong from top to bottom.  Rookie Vance Worley started the game and pitched three very solid innings before the rain began.  He did not allow a run and gave up only one hit.

The offense gave Worley support early, scoring one run on a Wilson Valdez double in the 2nd.  Then in the 3rd, John Mayberry Jr. came up big again with a monster 2-run homer.  It was Mayberry’s 10th homer of the year, which in limited at-bats, is very impressive.

Then suddenly the skies opened up and flooded the stadium as the grounds crew rushed to cover the field.  What appeared might be a short, 30 minute rain delay turned into two and a half hours.

By that time, Worley could not go back out and pitch so David Herndon took over.  Herndon has been given a lot of grief from the fans this year after he got off to a rocky start.  But in his last 22 games going back to May, Herndon is pitching at a 2.00 ERA.  He figured out why he was having issues in April and made the adjustment.

In this game against the D-Backs, Herndon pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.  In the 5th inning, he struck out the side.  Herndon has really improved his game.  Michael Stutes, on the other hand, is watching the scales slowly tip downward and out of his favor.


Stutes gets all the praise because he got off to a very good start, unlike Herndon.  Plus it does not hurt that he is adorable, right ladies?  So Stutes has gotten a pass in situations that Herndon has not.

But last night Stutes was visibly upset after allowing a home run in the 8th inning to the first batter.  Charlie Manuel was seen in the dugout consoling Stutes, patting him on the back as he held his head in his hands in defeat.

Why is Stutes so upset after a solo homer?  Because he too recognizes that things are beginning to go downhill for him.  In his last 12 games, Stutes is pitching at an ERA of 5.17.  His ERA has risen every month since ending May with a 2.38 ERA.  His total ERA is now up to 3.40.

Stutes, like a lot of rookies in the same position, is starting to struggle.  It could be a combination of many factors like a lack of experience, teams knowing better what to expect from him and being slightly overworked.  Stutes has pitched a lot and, especially for a rookie, this can take its toll.

Hopefully for Stutes, he can make an adjustment and work his way back, like Herndon has done.  But in the meantime, he may spend a lot of time being frustrated until he figures it out.

The one run Stutes allowed was the only run of the night for the D-Backs and the Phillies went on to win by a 4-1 score.  The Phillies, still holding the best record in baseball, became the first team to reach 80 wins on the season.

And the reason why the Phillies continue to have success is simple.  Like I mentioned earlier, they are solid in every aspect of the game.  More importantly, role players like Mayberry, Valdez and Herndon, continue to come through in big situations.  So even with four starters out and a rookie pitcher, they continue to win.

It is a good time to be a Phillies fan.

The Nationals are up next; game time tonight is 7:05pm with Roy Oswalt 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*


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