Results tagged ‘ Dodgers ’

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 Lose 5th Straight in Horror Movie Style

You know how when you are watching a scary movie you sometimes get really uncomfortable and have to cover your eyes?  Watching the 2012 Phillies has been a lot like that.  This is not your average B-movie either.  It is a full-fledged, $175 million dollar blockbuster horror show.

The terror continued last night in a dreadful 6-5 defeat against the Dodgers for the Phillies’ 5th straight loss.  This mostly powerless offense actually had 3 home runs in the game and they still lost anyway.  It does not get much more frightening than this.

Bloodcurdling screams could be heard from fans in the stands when Kyle Kendrick blew a 4-2 lead in the 6th inning.  Kendrick continued his Jekyll and Hyde routine, going 5.2 innings with 5 runs allowed.  When Kendrick steps on the mound, you never know if you might get good Kyle or evil Kyle.  And just when you think good Kyle might prevail, a masked man yielding a hatchet emerges from the darkness and…

Oh, sorry, I forgot I was watching a baseball game for a minute and not a “Friday the 13th” marathon.

Although, the horror show theme did keep creeping up rather consistently throughout the game.  In the 5th inning, we watching Freddy Galvis solemnly walk to the dugout in the middle of his at-bat.  He is now on the DL with a back strain, probably the result of an amazing, leaping and slightly backwards catch he made earlier in the game.

Then in the 6th, as Kendrick was blowing the lead, he added to the terror by walking a run home.

In the 8th, Hunter Pence grounded into a double play to end the inning.

The final horror came in the 9th as Jim Thome stood at home plate and watched strike 3 go by.  Then Brian Schneider popped out to end the game.

Charlie Manuel said it best during a post-game interview.  “Everything about our team is kind of whacked up,” Manuel said afterward.  No kidding.

The Phillies have one more shot against the Dodgers this afternoon to attempt to avoid total and utter humiliation.  Cole Hamels is pitching, but even that no longer inspires confidence.  The Phillies are now going to be on their 3rd string 2nd baseman and have half a minor league team playing in the majors.  The offense is terrible and the light at the end of tunnel is growing dimmer after each loss.

Come to think of it, maybe watching a horror movie instead is not such a bad idea at this point.  At least we know that is make-believe.  The Phillies are far too real right now.

Game time is 1:05pm today if you really feel the need to watch the disaster continue to unfold.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Lee Still Winless in 9 Starts

If April showers bring May flowers, then what does June bring?  The only thing I know for sure is that for Cliff Lee, June has not yet brought him a win.   That is 9 starts, a 2.92 ERA and a 0-3 record.  Yikes.

And it is not that Lee has not deserved a win; the Phillies offense has simply not scored for him.  In Lee’s 9 starts, the Phillies have scored a total of 16 runs while he was the pitcher of record.  In 5 of those 9 starts, the Phillies scored only 1 run or NO runs while Lee was pitching.

In last night’s 2-1 loss to the Dodgers, it started out looking like perhaps this was Lee’s night.  Jimmy Rollins led off with a double, Juan Pierre moved him to third with a sac fly and then Hunter Pence finally got a hit with a runner in scoring position.  This sort of start HAD to be sign, right?  Wrong.

After those first three batters and one run, that was it for the offense.  The bats went right back to sleep and never woke up.  In fact, after the 1st inning, only 1 Phillie even made it past first base for the rest of the game.

Lee is a great pitcher; but even he needs more than a 1 run cushion to get a win.  The lack of offense blew up in his face in the 8th inning.  With 2 outs and 2 men on base, Lee finally threw a bad pitch which turned into a 2-run double for the Dodgers who took the lead.  It was pitch #122.

Had the Phillies scored more than 1 run in this game, it is possible Lee would not even have been out there for the 8th as his pitch count was rising.  With the exception of that one pitch, Lee was fantastic all night long.  And as in most of his other starts, he should have gotten a win here.

Game 3 with the Dodgers starts at 7:05pm tonight; Kyle Kendrick will pitch.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Umpires Become the Story Once Again in Phillies Loss

It is a real shame when the focus of any baseball game becomes the umpires instead of the actual plays.  But this seems to be an ever increasing trend as MLB continues to sweep bad umpiring under the rug.

After a 4-3 loss to the Dodgers last night, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon got all bent out of shape about the performance of home plate umpire D.J. ReyburnPapelbon told reporters, “I thought he sucked. It’s that simple.”

Reyburn is a Triple-A umpire who was filling in.  When given this information, Papelbon said, “Doesn’t surprise me. He probably needs to go back to Triple-A.”  Papelbon also noted that Reyburn was bad throughout the game, for both teams, including Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw.

It is easy to understand Papelbon’s frustration.  Phillies starter Vance Worley had a hard time with the ball-strike calls in his first inning coming off the DL.  That certainly did not help his recovery.  Kershaw was equally frustrated and the both the Dodgers’ bench coach and manager were ejected by Reyburn as a result.

Then in the 9th inning, Papelbon had Dee Gordon struck out, but Reyburn missed the call.  Gordon went on to hit a triple and score the winning run for the Dodgers.

While the ultimate outcome of the game cannot be blamed on Reyburn, he did certainly affect it.  Still, the Phillies had their chances and blew it.  But Papelbon makes a good point.  And he did so knowing fully that there would be repercussions to his statements, likely to include a hefty fine.  But it was really nice to see a guy willing to take a stand; I now have a new respect for Papelbon.

But the Phillies are really not doing a lot to help themselves here.  They had only 8 hits in the game and left 6 runners on base in situations where the opportunity to score was high.  The Phils wasted a Jimmy Rollins triple in the 5th by having him run on contact from third during Placido Polanco’s at-bat.  Rollins was a dead duck at home plate when Polanco hit a hard grounder to short.

Then in the 7th, the Phillies hit 3 singles to load the bases, but Freddy Galvis was held at third by coach Juan Samuel on a ball bobbled by the Dodgers.  He should have scored there.  Hunter Pence came up and grounded out to end the inning.  Pence has been awful with runners in scoring position, having successful in only 2 of his last 33 chances.

This loss puts the Phillies back at .500 baseball and 4 games out of first, dead last in the division.  The Dodgers are a great team; if the Phillies do not pick it up in the next 3 games, they are going to find themselves in buried even further in the standings.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

No ROY, No Cy, No Surprise

As I had predicted, none of the Phillies got any of the top awards this off-season, but many came close.  The Cy Young voting was at least interesting; 3 Phillies made the top 5 in voting with Roy Halladay coming in 2nd, Cliff Lee 3rd and Cole Hamels 5th.  Not surprisingly, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw took home the award.

Kershaw was very deserving, although Halladay was a close runner-up.  But having 3 Phillies in the top 5 is also quite an impressive feat.

Another Phillies pitcher came close to taking home some hardware as well.  Vance Worley landed in 3rd place for Rookie of the Year behind two Braves, closer Craig Kimbrel and first baseman Freddie Freeman.  I thought Freeman would be the winner, but 2nd place is not too shabby.

And of course, neither is 3rd place.  Worley should be proud that on a staff with 4 ace starters, he not only held his own, he also got plenty of attention for a spectacular rookie season.

Manue and umplAlso as I predicted, Charlie Manuel was overlooked for Manager of the Year…again.  Yes, despite a Major League leading 102 wins, 5 straight division titles and a World Series, Manuel came in 4th place.  The D-Backs skipper, Kirk Gibson, took first place.

Even crazier, Joe Maddon of the Rays won for the American league, making it TWO Manager of the Year awards in 4 years.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Maddon.  He is actually from the Philly area.  And certainly, he deserves the honor.  But it does seem like a real shame that Manuel cannot get any respect in the National League like Maddon does in the AL.  Manuel beat Maddon in the 2008 World Series and has accomplished more overall.

But as is usually the case, Manuel just keeps getting shunned.

In other news, Brian Schneider will be the back-up back-stop once again in 2012.  The one-year deal is worth $800,000.  There is still no word on a deal for Jimmy Rollins.  Stay tuned…

 

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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 Overcome 6-Run Deficit To Sweep Dodgers

Before today’s game against the Dodgers, the Phillies rookie pitcher Vance Worley was hearing his name tossed around in the same sentence as “Rookie of the Year.”  But after allowing five runs in the first inning, Worley looked more like a regular rookie than an award-winning one.  The Vanimal lost a bit of his bite today.

Still, Worley picked himself up after the disastrous 1st inning and went back to pitching like usual.  He surrendered one more run in the 3rd, but for the most part, he settled down.  Being able to bounce back in the face of adversity  is a very good sign from a very young pitcher.

In the 3rd inning, Worley helped his own cause with an RBI-single.  The Phillies cut the 6-0 lead in half that inning, scoring three runs with the Worley hit and a Hunter Pence 2-run homer.

After four innings, the bullpen took over and so did the Phillies offense.  The Phils kept tacking on runs and the Dodgers scored one more off Kyle Kendrick.

But in the 6th, Chase Utley came through big to tie the game with a 2-RBI single.  The next batter, Ryan Howard, put an exclamation point on the inning with a 2-run homer to give the Phillies a 9-7 lead.

The Phillies took the lead into the 9th inning where, for the second night in a row, Ryan Madson tried to give us all heart failure.  After the first batter got on base, a run scored on a force out.  With two outs and one on, Madson, for the second night in a row again, struck out ex-Phillie Rod Barajas to end the game.

This 3-game sweep of the Dodgers gives the Phillies a 9-1 record on the 10-game road trip.  It is the first ever 9-1 road trip for the franchise.

This has been an amazing run for the Phillies and especially for Hunter Pence.  In 12 days and 12 games with his new team, Pence has lost only one game and that was also the only game he did not have a hit in.

The energy Pence has brought with him is a huge boost for an already outstanding Phillies team.  And while it is unrealistic, this run gives the Phillies a feel of being almost unstoppable.

So enjoy the off-day tomorrow!  The Nats come to town on Friday; game time is 7:05pm and Cole Hamels 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*

Lee Does It All in Win Over Dodgers

The new Phillies definition for “multi-tasking” is “Cliff Lee.”  The man does it all.  He pitches, he hits, he fields the ball, he bunts and he covers first base like a blanket.  Cliff Lee is amazing.

 

Through eight innings, Lee shut-out the Dodgers, allowing only four hits and two walks while striking out 10 batters.  As if that were not enough, Lee was spectacular in every other baseball aspect as well.

Several times, Lee had to cover first base as Ryan Howard fielded bunts or short-hop hits, racing to the bag to beat out even the Dodgers fastest runner, Dee Gordon.  On one play, Lee caught Howard’s ball toss with his bare hand while twisting sideways and still running for the base.

Then in the seventh inning with a tight score of 1-0, Lee decided a little more offense was in order.  So he went ahead and did what no other Phillies hitter seemed to be able to do against Dodger’s pitcher Ted Lilly; he hit a home run.  That bomb was his second of the year and second of his career.

Lee handed the game over to Ryan Madson in the 9th with that 2-0 lead he helped build.  Madson tried to give us all a small heart attack when he allowed a run on two hits.  But Madson worked out of the jam, striking out Andre Ethier to end the game with a 2-1 victory.

The Phillies have won two straight over the Dodgers and will play the final game Wednesday afternoon at 3:10pm.  Vance Worley will pitch and help the Phillies attempt to get a sweep in L.A.

 

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Head shot and photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Victorino Was Key in Phillies Win Over Dodgers

After being suspended for three games, Shane Victorino was still able to play tonight against the Dodgers as he appealed the ruling.  And that turned out to be a very good thing for the Phillies.

Going 3-for-5 in the game, Victorino scored three times and hit a key home run in the 8th inning to give the Phillies a 2-run lead late in the game.

The energy Victorino brought to the game was crucial on a night where both starter Roy Halladay and the Phillies bullpen encountered some issues.  While Halladay allowed only one run, he struggled to get through 6 1/3 innings and had a lot of baserunners.

The bullpen took over with a 4-1 lead that quickly dwindled down to just a 4-3 lead by the end of the eighth inning.  Michael Stutes allowed two runs and also committed a throwing error before Brad Lidge was brought in to take over.  Lidge was shaky as well, walking one batter and giving up a hit.  But he redeemed himself by fielding a tough bunt and making a glove toss to first to end the inning.

In that same inning, the Dodgers were called for interference as Juan Rivera ran Chase Utley over who was trying to field a ground ball.  They may have had a double play, but it did not matter once Lidge made the final out.

After the Victorino homer, the Phillies were leading by a score of 5-3 in the ninth.  Ryan Madson was brought in for the save, but Madson had not pitched since 8/1 as he left the team to see the birth of his fourth child.  Madson was a bit rusty, but he nailed the save.

Game two with the Dodgers is another late one; 10:10pm Tuesday night with Cliff Lee on the mound.

FYI – Placido Polanco had an MRI today and was diagnosed with a mild sports hernia.  He will receive and injection, but may still require surgery.  I will have more on that as the news comes.

 

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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*

Oswalt a Little Rusty in Return from DL

Pitcher Roy Oswalt made his first start back from the DL today in the series finale against the Giants.  Looking a little rusty, Oswalt allowed three runs, although it could have been worse.  Over six innings, Oswalt gave up 12 hits, but still stranded 10 runners.

For the Giants, Tim Lincecum was his usual, amazing self, limiting the Phillies to just one run on seven hits.  However, someone should inform the baby-faced Lincecum that he does not need to attempt to grow the world’s smallest goatee in order to be intimidating.  Although, it is awfully cute.

Watching the Phillies score only one run was not so cute.  Chase Utley had the lone RBI.  And for the first time as a Phillie, Hunter Pence did not have a hit in the game.  So both Pence’s hit streak and win streak ended on the same day.

The Phillies win streak as a team ended at nine; with Pence, they won eight straight.  And as it turns out, Pence does not hit, the Phillies do not win.  Pence must feel like he has entered the Twilight Zone, finally losing  a game with his new team.

There were a few interesting moments in the game, aside from the lack of offense.  Carlos Ruiz made two great plays, giving up his body to get outs.  In the 4th, Ruiz dove to tag out Aubrey Huff by smashing him right in the face with the baseball (see photo).  And then in the 5th, Ruiz ran down Jeff Keppinger who wandered too far of third and jumped on top of him right before he reached third to get the out.

Later in the 8th, Utley was clearly distracted by Lincecum’s adorable baby facial hair as he fouled off a ball and his bat went flying to the mound, hitting Lincecum in the knee.  Utley went to check on little Timmy to make sure he was ok and Timmy handed him the bat back, indicating he was fine.  It was a nice display of sportsmanship by both players.

The 3-1 loss leaves the Phillies still with a wide margin in the NL East, leading the Braves by 8.5 games.  Plus, taking 3 of 4 games from the Giants is very big for their momentum and confidence as the leaders in the league.

Monday night, the Phillies begin a 3-game series with the DodgersRoy Halladay will pitch and game time is 10:10pm.

 

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Photos from Getty Images

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

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