Results tagged ‘ Diamondbacks ’
The big question going into tonight’s Phillies – Diamondbacks match-up was how spot-starter Nelson Figueroa was going to fare. Overall, he did a great job. Although he had quite a few base runners and ran some deep counts, Figueroa mostly did very well, allowing just 2 runs in 5 innings. Considering he was not very stretched out having been in the bullpen, Figueroa gave an excellent effort.
Another question mark lately has been the Phillies offense which went from red-hot during the first 10 games of the season to stone-cold this past week. In fact, the only two bats that showed up today were Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez. Werth hit two monster home runs to centerfield; one came in the 2nd inning and the other gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead in the 9th. Werth also made two great catches in the outfield and collected his first assist of the year, throwing a runner out at second.
Ibanez hit a home run in the 7th to tie the game up; it was his first home run of the year. Ibanez has been struggling so far this season but finally looks like he may break out of the slump. He also singled in the 9th, bringing his average up above the Mendoza line at .222.
Right after the Ibanez homer, Wilson Valdez stepped to the plate in place of Juan Castro and Phillies fans everywhere started to get that all too familiar twinge of panic. Castro has been outstanding in place of the injured Jimmy Rollins and there was no apparent reason to pull him out early. It was announced shortly after that Castro is suffering from mild left hamstring soreness.
This Phillies team is beginning to resemble a MASH unit instead of a ball club. The constant flow of injuries is alarming. They are already down 2 starting pitchers, 1 closer and a short stop. If Castro is really hurt and they are forced to go to the 3rd string short stop in Valdez, this could get ugly. Cross your fingers…
So, the bullpen had to keep the game close tonight as Figueroa was done in after the 5th inning. Chad Durbin was spectacular in 2 innings where he struck out 3 and allowed only 1 hit and no runs. Jose Contreras also struck out 3 in the 8th and the Ryan Madson came in for the 9th. Madson has not looked great as the team’s closer in place of the injured Brad Lidge, but tonight with a 1-run lead, he redeemed himself. He allowed 1 hit, no runs and struck out two for his 4th save of the year.
The 3-2 win tonight ties up the series in Arizona. The Phillies will send Kyle Kendrick to the mound tomorrow in search of his first win this year. Game time is 4:10pm. Go Phillies!
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Last night’s Hamels Arizona adventure included a 4th inning where he gave up 4 home runs for 5 runs scored total. The following inning, he gave up another homer, making it 5 homers on the night. Prior to that, he looked like the Hamels of old, striking out batters and confusing them with his change-up. Then all of a sudden, Hamels got the ball up in the zone and threw nearly everything right over the plate. He looked like he was pitching batting practice to a thankful D-Backs team.
Hamels even had a hand in scoring before the mysterious 4th inning disaster happened; he belted a double in the 3rd inning and Shane Victorino drove him home with a triple. A very strange play led to the Phillies 2nd run of the night; Jayson Werth hit a long fly ball in the 4th which center fielder Chris Young caught, for just a moment. Young let the ball dribble out the bottom of his glove before he made the exchange to his throwing hand and it was ruled a ball in play. Werth saw the ball drop and kept running until he crossed home plate.
The D-Backs manager A.J. Hinch, who played for the Phillies in 2004, argued that it was a catch but the ump ruled it was not a catch as the fielder did not have control and did not make the exchange to his other hand before dropping it. It was scored as a 4-base error. There’s one you won’t see every day.
So things were looking up for the Phillies until the bottom of that same inning when the bottom fell out for Hamels and batting practice took over. JC Romero made his season debut after coming off the DL but he looked very rusty. Romero fell behind both batters he faced, giving up a solo homer and walking the next batter.
Jose Contreras took over the 7th inning and escaped without further drama. Rookie David Herndon pitched the 8th and did a good job as well. The Phillies entered the 9th inning losing 3-7. Victorino managed a 2-out single and RBI, but the Phillies rally ended there and they lost 4-7 to a last place team.
The only proper response to a pounding by a last place team is to win the next two games. And the Phillies had better do just that if they are going to avoid total humiliation. Nelson Figueroa will pitch tonight in place of the injured JA Happ. I do not envy Figueroa; this poor guy has the weight of the world on his shoulders right now. Best of luck to him…game time is 8:10pm.
Head shot by Jenn; cartoon by grinningplanet.com
The Phillies have had a very productive month so far this spring and will go into their day off tomorrow with a record of 9 wins, 4 loses and a tie. Spring Training results are not a great indicator of how a team will perform in the regular season, but based on years past, it seems like every player came to camp more prepared and more determined this year and it shows. The bats are jumping and most guys have stayed fairly healthy.
Placido Polanco’s right knee strain is minor and he will be back in action probably by Friday. Chase Utley has also sat out a few games with a respiratory illness but again, he seems to be on the road to recovery. Even pitchers like JC Romero and Brad Lidge who had off-season surgeries are getting closer and closer to game-shape. Romero threw to live batters this morning and is feeling good; both he and Lidge should be ready to go by early April.
Luck Of The Irish?
Cole Hamels was feeling lucky this week; he threw 5 innings in a win over the Tigers on Tuesday without allowing an earned run; he gave up just 2 hits and struck out 4. Joe Blanton was not quite as solid against the Yankees today in the St. Patty’s Day showdown, but still not bad. Blanton did allow 2 runs on 7 hits over 5 innings, but maybe he is just allergic to the shamrock green uniforms?
The two young lefty bullpen hopefuls also pitched in the last two games and showed some progress. Antonio Bastardo showed off some serious heat, striking out 2 batters and not allowing a base runner in his inning against the Tigers. Sergio Escalona also pitched a scoreless inning against the Yanks, although he is still struggling with his control and walked two batters. Regardless, it does appear that both players are anxious to crack the Opening Day roster.
As for the bats, Ryan Howard hit his first home run of Spring yesterday and is batting a very solid .344 so far. Not to be outdone, Jayson Werth smashed a 3-run homer today that looked like a rocket as it travelled in nearly a straight line over the left field fence faster than you could blink. It was his 2nd home run this spring.
No, not at the Phillies; or at least we think not anymore…however, he is having an interesting spring so far with the Mariners. On Monday in a game against the D-Backs, Lee was actually ejected from a Spring Training game for the first time in his career. For what? He was tossed for intentionally throwing at a batter’s head. The intended victim was D-Backs catcher Chris Snyder; teammate Mark Reynolds stood up for Snyder after the game, calling Lee’s actions “bush league.”
But did Lee really do it on purpose? Reynolds purports, “I’ve faced Cliff Lee plenty of times to know he’s got amazing control.” Check out the video and judge for yourself.
UPDATE: The league has now suspended Lee for 5 games at the start of the season for what they are calling an “intentional” act.
Tosh.0 Redeems A Philly Fan
Remember the adorable little girl who was all over TV last year for tossing her Daddy’s prized foul ball catch back onto the field? Well, the father-daughter team are back and Daniel Tosh of Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0” gave little Emily a chance at redemption. Check it out:
I am not sure what is more adorable; Emily tossing the Mardi Gras beads or her proclamation that tea parties are better than baseball. Funny stuff!
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Photos by Jenn
The Phillies completed a 3-game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks with a 12-3 win tonight behind the big bats and big arms of the team. Ryan Howard hit a 3-run homer for the second night in row; Jayson Werth has also gone back to back games with home runs, hitting one tonight and 2 last night. Even Carlos Ruiz brought the big stick with a solo shot in the 6th. Hang onto your hats; it’s an earthquake at Citizens Bank Park!
And then do not forget about the huge bats of Phillies pitchers: Joe Blanton had 2 hits plus a sac fly for an RBI in the game. Cliff Lee had 2 hits in his start last night, starting the streak of hot pitcher’s bats. All that, and they both pitched well too! Tonight, Blanton went 8 innings allowing 3 runs on 10 hits; one of those runs came after Ben Francisco missed an easy fly ball, so maybe that one should not have happened. But Francisco had 2 RBI in the game as well, so all is forgiven.
The Phillies bullpen must be wondering when they will ever be used again. 8 innings tonight from Blanton, a complete game yesterday from Cliff Lee and the day before that, Pedro Martinez and Jamie Moyer pitched all 9 together. And then how about the day before that? It was an off-day. So that is 4 straight days of total boredom for the pen, except for Chad Durbin who pitched the 9th inning tonight. And I am still not counting Moyer as a pen guy since he pitched 6 innings in his relief effort; it was just about the same as a start for him.
So the Phillies will load the bus tonight and travel to New York to begin a long 4-game series with the Mets at Citi Field. Game time tomorrow is 7:10pm with Cole Hamels on the mound. Speaking of Cole, is it just me or….
Photos by Jenn
After four amazing starts for his new team, all of Philadelphia is in love with Cliff Lee. At this point, the man can do no wrong. Lee could start smacking babies and rather than be outraged, the parents would thank him for keeping their kid in line. He is that popular. Having seen in person three of those first four starts, I can see why.
Last night, Lee did it all…again. He pitched a complete game and did not give up an earned run. The only run of the game was unearned due to a Pedro Feliz error. Into the 6th inning, Lee was working a no-hitter when a D-Back finally got lucky and shot one up the middle. But by the end of the game, Lee had given away only 2 hits, no walks and struck out 11 batters. UnbeLEEvable!
And as if that were not enough, Lee went 2 for 4 at the plate and even scored a run. He is now hitting .278. The first hit was a solid shot up the middle and second was a swinging bunt that rolled up the third base line and stayed fair as it hit the bag. The only feat he failed to execute was a stolen base; instead, he executed D-Back hitters all night long.
But Lee was not the only story of the night; the Phillies offense beat up All-Star pitcher Dan Haren to the tune of 9 hits and 6 earned runs in only 5 innings. D-Backs relief pitchers allowed 2 more runs for a final score of 8-1. Chase Utley stared the charge by knocking a 2-run homer in the 3rd inning. Incidentally, Utley hits a home run nearly every time I am at a game…coincidence? Hmmmmm….
Utley’s blast seemed to rattle Haren and after that, the real fun began. In the 5th inning, Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth went back to back; Howard knocked in 3 runs with his homer and Werth then took the first pitch he saw deep for a 420-foot homer. Werth is on fire right now; he hit another solo shot later in the game and ended up with 3 hits, 2 RBI and 2 runs scored.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game last night, including batting practice shots. Tonight, the Phillies will go for the sweep of the Diamondbacks at 7:05pm.
Photos by Jenn
To all the critics who said my 5 ½ man rotation idea with Jamie Moyer and Pedro Martinez sharing the 5th starters spot would not work, it is my pleasure to report that in fact, it did work. The Phillies did not enter into the situation purposely as Mother Nature intervened with a long rain delay, but maybe that was a sign from a higher power? Even former pitcher Ricky Botallico said after the game, “These two guys maybe should be our 5th starter together.”
Pedro Martinez pitched 3 very good innings allowing only a lead-off home run; after that, the rain came. Enter Jamie Moyer: True to his word to be ready when the team needed him, Moyer pitched the final 6 innings brilliantly. Without allowing a run, Moyer gave up only 2 hits and at one point, he retired 11 batter in a row. The bullpen was given a much needed rest and the Phillies won the game against the D-Backs 5-1. Anyone care to tell me how that is a bad thing?
After the game, Martinez commented on the situation by saying, “You never know what you’ll get when you put two old goats out there… See what you get? Two for the price of one.” If these two “old goats” can combine for a 1 run, 4-hit game every time, why would you not do that? Even if it means having to use an extra pinch hitter, it is worth it. Will it happen again? That remains to be seen, but Martinez and Moyer are now on the exact same schedule – coincidence or fate? You be the judge.
As for the offense, despite leaving the bases loaded twice, once with no outs and a second time with 1 out, they still got the job done. Jayson Werth hit his career high 25th home run of the year and also had a double that scored another run. Carlos Ruiz was on fire as well, going 3 for 3 with 2 RBI and a solo homer. And the other offensive star? Jamie Moyer. Putting many other Phillies to shame, Moyer went 2 for 3 in the game. Maybe Moyer should have batted with the bases loaded instead of Ryan Howard, who struck out twice in the situation? Ok, maybe not ;O)
Tonight should also be an epic day for pitching as Cliff Lee will face the D-Backs ace, Dan Haren. I will be at the game and report back with photos as usual. Go Phillies!
…Now say that five times fast ;O) JA Happ and Ryan Howard combined for a 1-2 punch last night that sent the Braves away with a 6-game deficit in the NL East as the Phillies took home the 4-1 win. Early on, it looked like rain might put a damper on the evening, but after a 1 hour and 37 minute delay, the game finally got underway.
Happ collected his 9th win of the season as he pitched 7 2/3 innings and allowed just 3 hits and 1 solo home run. His command was off and on all game and he did wind up walking 6 batters, but got outs when he needed to. Never rattled by tight situations, Happ continues to be a consistent starter that the Phillies can count on.
Add to that consistency a little Howard power and the result is a win. Howard has struggled in the second half, but these last few days, he looks like he is hitting balls into another solar system. Howard has 4 home runs in his last 4 games, with 2 of them rocketing out of the park last night for the 20th multi-home run game of his career. In fact, Howard did everything last night to win the game, except steal a base. His defense was stellar and he turned two very impressive double plays; at the plate, he notched the two home runs plus a single and a walk. All four Phillies runs in the game were credited to Howard.
In relief, Ryan Madson and Scott Eyre combined to record 3 of the last four outs in the game. Eyre almost had his first save since 2005, but after he walked a batter, Charlie Manuel decided to go to Brad Lidge, perhaps thinking that a one out save might boost his confidence. Lidge did record the save on three pitches, but after a horrible season so far, most still have their doubts about Lidge. It would seem to be time for the Phillies to find a back-up plan, but Manuel still insists Brad is his man. However, the Phillies cannot expect to thrive in the post-season while carrying the worst closer in all of major league baseball; his 8 blown saves and 7.21 ERA are officially the bottom of the barrel for all closers.
Today the Phillies will have a much needed day of rest and I will need to find something else besides baseball to occupy my evening. Suggestions are welcome :O)
And then Tuesday night, Philadelphia will get their first look up close and in person with Pedro Martinez. After a road win against the Cubs last week, the home crowd is anxious to see his progress. Game time is 7:05pm against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Go Phillies!
Howard photo by Jenn
No more worries about Roy Halladay, trade deadlines and who is going where…the Phillies sealed the deal today with Cy Young award winning pitcher, Cliff Lee. Lee comes to the Phillies from the Indians sporting a 7-9 record and a 3.14 ERA; his record is tainted though due to lack of run support from a struggling Indians team. And last year, Lee won the AL Cy Young. Without giving away either JA Happ or Kyle Drabek, the Phillies made the trade and also received outfielder Ben Francisco who will likely take John Mayberry’s spot on the bench and help to relieve Raul Ibanez. Off to the Indians are pitcher Carlos Carrasco, catcher Lou Marson, infielder Jason Donald and pitcher Jason Knapp.
While I am thrilled with this deal, and even more thrilled that we did not lose Happ or Drabek, I will miss Marson and Donald. I had the opportunity to chat with them both over the last few years and they are really nice, down to earth guys. Not to mention, they are both adorable :O) Ok, so I guess I will get over it. ;o)
A few more reason this is a GREAT trade; Lee will cost considerably less than Halladay next year; his option is 9 million, where Halladay’s is 15.75 million. In addition to keeping Happ and Drabek, the Phillies also retained top prospects Dominick Brown and Michael Taylor. Essentially, the farm system will not suffer.
And a few more odd reasons this is a good trade:
– Lee’s name is easy to spell.
– Cole Hamels will get less attention from the media, thus, we do not have to hear as many weird things come out of his mouth.
– Our bullpen will have someone new to play with :O) Not sure who that will be yet…
– Lee looks good in red.
– Lee is from Arkansas! Actually, I am not sure why that is good, but maybe he knows President Clinton? Just a thought…
The final game of the D-Backs series is about to begin…Go Phillies!
Cole Hamels returned to MVP form last night against the Diamondbacks in a 4-3 win. Everyone was a little nervous in the 1st inning when Hamels allowed a solo home run, but after that, he settled in and did not allow another run. Even better than that, Hamels pitched all the way through 8 full innings, allowed only 4 hits and struck out nine batters. Welcome back, Cole! We missed you.
Shane Victorino led the offensive attack with 3 hits, 2 RBI and 2 runs scored. The D-Backs helped out the Phillies offense as well with 2 key errors in the game, much like they did on Monday night. But those errors and the extra run the Phillies scored because of the errors turned out to be the difference in the game.
Going into the 9th with a 4-1 lead, the Phillies sent Brad Lidge to the mound and he immediately got into big trouble. Lidge walked the leadoff batter and then gave up a 2-run homer to the next batter to cut their lead to 1 run. By what must have been some act of God, Lidge managed to get the 3 outs and end the game without blowing the save.
But fans everywhere are now officially worried about Brad Lidge. No one expected perfection like last season, but a record of 0-4, 6 blown saves, 24 walks in 38 innings and an ERA of 7.11 was not expected either. The Phillies will not go far in the playoffs with a closer posting these numbers. Either Lidge needs to get his act together, or could Brett Myers return to the closer role in August, which is when he may return after hip surgery? Does this seem farfetched? Maybe. But Lidge cannot continue to hurt the team. Last night, he got lucky. Going forward, it will not always be the case.
And is this some sort of weird Phillies curse? You get a great season out of a guy, like Lidge in 2008; you sign him to a huge contract and mayhem ensues. Remember Pat Burrell? Burrell had a breakout season in 2002; then in 2003, the Phillies gave him a monster contact of 6 years, $50 million dollars and guess what happened next? Burrell struggled for years and did not fulfill his true potential until he led the Phillies to the playoffs in 2007 and then to the World Series in 2008. But from 2003-2006, it was not always pretty. Is Lidge suffering from the post-contract blues? Whatever the case, with 3 years invested in Lidge, the Phillies need to get him back on track and fast.
The Phillies have one more game against the D-Backs tonight at 9:40pm with JA Happ on the mound. I am in San Francisco right now awaiting their arrival on Thursday for a 4-game series against the Giants. And while I am very excited to see Giants pitchers like Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito, disappointment set in this morning when it was announced that Randy Johnson has a torn rotator cuff and will be out for at least 3 weeks. Johnson is a future Hall of Famer, so I was hoping to see him pitch. I even tried to see his 300th win in DC back in June, but the game was rained out and I could not go the next day. And such is my luck…oh well! I still get to see my Phillies and hang out in California for a week, so it’s all good :O)
Off topic, I would like to send out my condolences to the family and friends of former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator, Jim Johnson. Johnson lost his battle with cancer yesterday at the age of 68. May he rest in peace.
Photo by Jenn
Last night, the Phillies took game 1 against the D-Backs in Arizona with Jamie Moyer pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings. They were not easy innings; Moyer worked his way in and out of trouble again and again. But Moyer has been doing this a long time and knows how to make adjustments when he needs to.
The offense took a while to wake up after the long haul out to the West Coast, but finally in the 4th, Ryan Howard got things rolling with a 2-run home. Raul Ibanez had 2 hits and 1 RBI in the game as well.
Ryan Madson did allow 2 runs in the 8th, but the Phillies still went on to win 6-2. With the 6 hits and 4 walks allowed by Moyer, the D-Backs left 11 runners on base and committed 2 errors in the field. You have to wonder if ace pitcher Dan Haren was looking on and wondering what it might be like to play in Philadelphia? Haren is one of 3 pitchers that the Phillies are rumored to be interested in adding to the club and he will face Cole Hamels tonight in the 2nd game of the series at 9:40pm.
However, the most likely names on the horizon as the trade deadline approaches are Roy Halladay of the Jays and Cliff Lee of the Indians. The Jays reportedly rejected an offer from the Phillies which included JA Happ, Michael Taylor, Carlos Carrasco and Jason Donald so, it is looking less and less like a deal for Halladay may be realistic. But, stranger things have happened.
The countdown to July 31st continues! Go Phillies!
Photos by Jenn