Results tagged ‘ Erik Kratz ’

The 2012 Phillies: A Season to Forget

The torture that was the 2012 Phillies season is finally over.  And sadly, it ended just as I predicted before the season even began; without a playoff bid.  I was hoping to be wrong about that.

Since the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, each year they have taken exactly one step backwards.  So this year, missing the playoffs seemed like their destiny.  They lost the World Series in 2009; lost the NL Championship Series in 2010; lost the NL Division Series in 2011; and now, the next logical step has arrived.  The Phillies will go home early without even a sniff at a post-season run.

Remember happy days like these?:

For now, they are gone :O(

The first casualties of the 2012 disaster are already accounted for.  Bench coach Pete Mackanin, hitting coach Greg Gross and first base coach Sam Perlozzo have all been given their walking papers.  More fallout is probably on the horizon, but it will probably involve players, not coaches.

So who else should stay and who should go?  Here are some thoughts, starting with the offense:

In 195 at-bats, Kevin Frandsen hit .338, which led the team.  And for an entire month, he played with a stress fracture in his leg, yet he still kept hitting.  I say put him at 3rd base and get a back-up in case of injuries.

If the Phillies do not re-sign Juan Pierre, they are insane.  He hit .307 in 394 at-bats, led the team in stolen bases with 37 and he is the best bunter you can find anywhere.

Bring Shane Victorino back!  After a depressing second half with the Dodgers, his price will go down, possibly to the point where the Phillies can afford to resign him.  John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown can platoon and then the Phils need another outfielder or two.

Needs to Go:  Nate Schierholtz, Ty Wigginton, Michael Martinez.  Martinez is good defensively, but hit only .174 in 115 at-bats.  They can find a better utility guy.  And we are stuck with Laynce Nix for one more year unless someone is willing to trade for him…not likely.

Back-up Catcher:  In – Erik Kratz; Out – Brian Schneider.

Relief Pitching:  Jonathan Papelbon stays and probably Antonio Bastardo.  I will also put in votes for Jeremy Horst and Phillipe Aumont.  The maybes are Jake Diekman and Justin DeFratus, although DeFratus needs to be 100% healthy, which I feel is still in question.  Michael Stutes may return, but no one is sure in what condition.

Please Go Away:  Josh Lindblom – trade him (if anyone wants him).  He has been awful.  This team needs some veteran help in the pen.

Please Come Back: Ryan Madson!

As for starters, unless someone’s arm falls off, stick with the usual 5: Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay (pray he gets healthy), Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick.

And of course, all the usual suspects, like Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, etc… will be back.  But will they be healthy?  That is the looming question.

To give an idea of how badly the injuries hurt the team this year, consider this: I may be missing some, but by looking at the team stats, at least 49 different players made an appearance for the Phillies this year, rotating in and out of the 25-man roster.  Also, only 2 players of those 49 reached 400 or more at-bats; Rollins (632) and Mayberry (441).  That is scary.

So the season is over and the healing (quite literally) shall begin.  Do you have any thoughts you would like to share about this season?  Feel free to leave comments below. 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Annihilate the Mets in Finale of 3-Game Sweep

On Thursday night, the Phillies gave the Mets a spanking and then some.  It was an outright stomping to the tune of 2 touchdowns and a safety.  If you are not a football fan, that is the baseball equivalent of 16 runs.

The 16-1 pummeling began with an 8-run 1st inning.  The Phillies went all the way through the line-up, batters 1-8, before a single out was recorded by the Mets.  The starting pitcher was lifted from the game 7 batters in and his final line read 7 earned runs and zero innings pitched…ouch.  The next pitcher who came in hit Erik Kratz with a pitch to force in another run.

This was the first time the Phillies had their first 8 batters reach base to start a game since 1975.  It was also the first time since 1912 that they scored at least 8 runs in the 1st inning while on the road.  Know what else happened in 1912?  The Titanic sank.

For the Mets, this was a game to forget, if they can.  For the Phillies, it was a nice opportunity to bump up their batting averages and stats.  Here are those than benefitted the most from the Mets’ ineptitude:

That is a lot of hitting.

With 2 outs in the 9th the night before, Ryan Howard hit a 2-run homer to win the game.  And with 2 outs in the 9th last night, Howard smashed a Grand Slam home run, adding insult to injury for the Mets.  The Phillies scored 7 runs in that final inning.

Rookie pitcher Tyler Cloyd quietly had a great game in between all the offensive fireworks.  Cloyd gave up only 1 run on 3 hits over 8 innings.  He was the only starter in the game who did not get a hit for the Phillies, but since he pitched well, he is forgiven ;o)

Despite the sweep of the Mets though, the Phillies are still 4 games out of the Wild Card race as the Cardinals keep winning.  They are running out of games quickly.

Of the 12 remaining games, the next 3 are at home against the Braves.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

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Halladay Strong in Phillies Win Over the Reds

This has not been an ideal year for anyone in the Phillies organization, especially Roy Halladay.  After landing on the disabled list earlier in the year, Halladay struggled to regain his usual form.

In a 6-2 win over the Reds, Halladay finally looks like he is healthy again and back on his usual game.  Over 7 1/3 innings, Halladay allowed just 1 earned run and struck out 5 batters.  The offense provided him with some runs to seal the deal.

The two big blasts of the day came from Erik Kratz and Chase Utley.  Kratz smashed a 3-run homer in the 2nd inning and Utley added 2 more runs with another bomb in the 3rd inning.  Kratz now has 9 homers in only 38 games with a slugging percentage of .611.  How this guy was stuck in the minor leagues for so long is a mystery.

Another mystery, at least to certain sports talk show hosts, is John Mayberry Jr.  With another multi-hit game against the Reds, Mayberry continues to hit at a torrid pace.  Critics are always on him, saying he is not an everyday player.  But he is showing us right now, as he did at the end of last season as well, that he is an everyday guy.  Why?  Because when he starts every game, like he does now, he hits.

In contrast, when the Phillies used Mayberry as a platoon guy, like they did at the start of last year and this year, he struggles.  When he plays regularly, he hits.  Mayberry hit .271 in July and .290 in August because, after the Shane Victorino trade, he has become a regular in the line-up.  Now this is just my 2-cents, but I say let the guy play center next year.  He has earned it.

And there is my rant for your Phillies off-day.  Play resumes tomorrow at 7:05pm when the Rockies come to town.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Kratz & Mayberry Propel Phillies to Win

Friday night’s Phillies – Braves game was a little uncomfortable to watch through the first 5 innings as ace pitcher Roy Halladay struggled.  Sweaty and red in the face, Halladay looked like he might pass out more than a few times.  He gave up 4 runs on 2 homers and 4 walks before being pulled after 4 2/3 innings.

Catcher Erik Kratz did everything humanly possible to help the ailing Halladay, including taking what looked like a heavy-weight title knock-out shot at the plate from Chipper Jones in the 4th inning:

John Mayberry Jr. made a great, on-target throw and, amazingly, Kratz held onto the ball.  It was an unbelievable play…but neither Kratz nor Mayberry were done impressing everyone yet.

Down 4-5 going into the 9th inning, the Phillies were going to need a small miracle to get to Braves star closer Craig Kimbrel.  But Kratz was again up to the challenge as he took Kimbrel’s fastball deep to left to tie up the game.

That home run sent the game into extra innings where Mayberry stepped in once more to help the Phillies win.  Kevin Fransden provided the first spark, staring the 10th off with a single.  Later that inning, Mayberry saw one pitch and sent in into the seats for a 3-run homer, handing the Phillies an 8-5 lead.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the save, which was the 250th save of his career and 31st this season.  The Phillies now sit 8 games out of the Wild Card race.  Not that the playoffs are a real possibility at this point, but just thought I would mention it.  At the very least, they should aim to make life more difficult for the Braves.  Game time today is 4:05pm.

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Hamels Halts Phillies Losing Skid

Not much has gone right for the Phillies this year.  But at least we know that when Cole Hamels takes the mound, they at least have a shot at a win.  After dropping 3 straight, the Phillies collected a win last night over the Brewers, thanks in large part to Hamels.

Hamels cruised through 7 2/3 innings allowing only 1 run until 1 bad pitch in the 8th ran him out of the game.  The Ryan Braun 2-run homer was 1 of 4 home runs Braun has hit in this series…so far.  I am sure Braun, who was said to be in a slump prior to this series, was thrilled to see the Phillies come to town.  And just think, he may not be done yet.

Despite that annoyance, Hamels had a very solid game.  The 4-3 win was nailed down by closer Jonathan Papelbon, who got 4 outs to seal the deal.  Manager Charlie Manuel was criticized for not using Papelbon in a similar situation on Thursday night.  On Saturday, he did not make the same mistake again.

The Brewers had a couple base running blunders, which helped the Phillies out.  One guy got caught in a rundown and another did something a bit unusual.  With 2 outs in the third, Braun again smashed what should have been a double to deep left field.  But Jonathan Lucroy, who was on first base, missed second base and then stood like a deer in headlights instead of stepping on the base and continuing to run.  By the time Braun reached second, all he could do was throw his hands in the air at Lucroy who was still there, looking dazed.  Braun was out; inning over.  Oops.

As for the Phillies offense, John Mayberry Jr. knocked a 2-run homer in the 2nd, followed by a solo shot from Erik KratzRyan Howard doubled in the 3rd to give the Phils the go-ahead run.

The Phils get one more shot at the Brewers this afternoon.  And they will also get another look at wannabe starter Kyle Kendrick.  Can he repeat his last performance of 7 shut-out innings against the Marlins last week?  Game time is 2:10pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Two-Straight Complete Game Shut-Outs for Hamels

After a couple of shaky starts after signing a huge contract, Cole Hamels is in the zone again.  Last night marked the second straight complete game shut-out for the lefty with a 4-0 win over the Miami Marlins.

Hamels tossed 113 pitches, 85 of them for strikes.  He allowed 7 hits and 1 walk, but no Marlin even crossed home plate.  While playoff hopes for the Phillies are all but dashed, Hamels could still be in line for another big prize if he continues to pitch at this pace: the Cy Young award.

This ace already has a World Series ring, a World Series and a NLCS MVP award plus 3 All-Star nods.  All Hamels has left to accomplish is the Cy Young…and of course, one more World Series ring.

Supporting their teammate, the Phillies offense produced 4 runs, which was plenty considering how Hamels was pitching.  Juan Pierre had another 3-hit night, including a triple and an RBI.  Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr. and Kevin Fransden had 2 hits each while Chase Utley and Erik Kratz both knocked in one run each.

As for the bullpen…there was no bullpen as Hamels went all 9 innings.  This could be the best bullpen performance all year long!  Way to sit on the bench guys; nicely done.  With the way this year has gone, I am sure the relievers were as relieved with this turn of events as anyone.

The Phillies have another shot at the Fish tonight.  Kyle Kendrick, despite being awful lately, will get yet another chance at being a real starter.  This is beginning to feel like Pinocchio trying to be a real boy…it’s never going to happen.  I could be wrong; what do you think?  Will Kendrick ever be consistent enough to be a starter?  Feel free to leave comments below.

Game time is 7:10pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Walk-Off In Extras Nails Series Win for Phillies

The Phillies annual Alumni Weekend came to an end today with a huge series win against the World Champion Cardinals.  The 11-inning, 8-7 walk-off win was the cherry on top of a great weekend at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Vance Worley took the mound again, despite needing elbow surgery for bone chips.  The injury appears to be taking a toll on the Vanimal who struggled again, going 5 1/3 innings with 4 runs allowed.

The Phillies offense started off strong with 3 runs in the 1st on a triple from Chase Utley.  In the 4th, Ryan Howard added a solo homer.  But each time the Phils scored, the Cardinals answered and they took a 4-4 tie into the 8th.

With 3 errors in the game, the Phillies still had some nice defensive plays, and others that fell short.  The play at the plate below where Matt Holiday is called safe was a real bummer:

More disappointment was to follow as Michael Schwimer turned a 4-4 game into a 7-4 deficit for the Phils in the 8th, allowing the 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk.

But just when it looked like the game was over, Erik Kratz got up to his new-old tricks again.  With 2 runners on and 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th, he smashed a home run to left to tie the game up again.

But Kratz was not done yet…  In the 11th, he started off the inning with a double.  Sadly, the double was erased when Jimmy Rollins, who had the day off prior pinch hitting in the 8th, hit into a fielder’s choice.  J-Roll later redeemed himself by stealing 3rd, which turned out to be the key to winning the game.  Juan Pierre hustled down the 1st base line to beat out an infield single which scored Rollins for the walk-off win!

Pierre has been one of the few bright spots for the Phillies this year.  It is hard to imagine not resigning him in the offseason, but that drama will play out later…

As for the Alumni in attendance, they had a lot of fun, especially Mike Schmidt who shot hot dogs into the crowd.  You will have to see it to believe it:

There were many other appearances as well, including John Kruk announcing the line-ups,  Dick Allen and Tony Taylor changing bases, and eight former Phillies, including Larry Andersen, Gary Matthews, Ricky Jordan, Ricky Botallico and Von Hayes singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on the field during the seventh-inning stretch.

Botallico, always an amazing sport, even wore the Phanatic’s jersey to entertain the crowd.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hamels Ends Losing Streak Against Braves

It appears that Cole Hamels has found his groove again, and just in time to end a long Phillies losing streak against the division rival Braves.  Prior to Tuesday night, the Braves had won 7 straight against the struggling Phils.

But once Hamels snapped out of his pitching slump, he made easy work out of Atlanta’s line-up.  He pitched a 5-hit, complete game shut-out with 6 strike outs and no walks allowed.  Yes, Super-Hamels has returned to his $144 million dollar form.

Ryan Howard also channeled his younger, healthier self with a 2-run bomb in the 1st inning.  The Big Piece is indeed still in there somewhere, which is a very good sign for next season.  Once his Achilles is fully healed, Howard should be getting right back to making opposing pitchers cry.

And Domonic Brown continues to show he belongs in the majors, along with a few flashes of why it has taken so long.  Brown hit a double in the first, right before the Howard homer, and he also worked a walk later in the game.  Brown played solid defense, but also made some base running errors.  The double was really a single that he stretched out, but he would have been thrown out if the fielder had not dropped the ball.  Brown also failed to tag on a long fly ball to center in that same inning.  So there are still some growing pains, but overall, things are looking up for Brown.

And of course, Erik Kratz continues on his torrid pace at the plate.  With 2 hits again last night, Kratz is now hitting .406 in 32 at-bats so far.

So while 2012 is a wash, the future may potentially be looking a bit brighter.  Game 3 with the Braves starts tonight at 7:05pm and Kyle Kendrick will pitch.

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Photo 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

New Phillies Fitting in Fast

The newest additions to the Phillies after a few call-ups and trades are fitting in well with this team.  In some ways, that is very good.  In other ways, not so much.

Here are a few 2012 Phillies bad habits exhibited in last night’s game against the Nationals that they will need to get out of quickly:

- Kevin Fransden, a call-up, commited an error at 3rd base, becoming the 4th different Phillies player to do so at the hot corner this year.  The 3rd base error total is now 13.

- Both Fransden and the newly acquired Nate Schierholtz left a runner stranded on 3rd base with less than 2 outs in the inning.

- Josh Lindblom, acquired from the Dodgers, gave up a hit to the 1st batter he faced.

- Domonic Brown, called-up from Triple-A, went 0-4 on the night.

But luckily, the bad habits did not break them.  In fact, each new player had at least one very nice moment as well:

- Fransden recovered after his error and played good defense.

- Schierholtz went back-to-back with Jimmy Rollins for his first home run as a Phillie.  Rollins had 2 homers in the game.

- Lindblom struck out the 2nd batter he faced.

- Despite going 0-4, Brown had a good day in the field.  He threw out a runner going home with a very strong toss.

Another guy who had a great day was Erik Kratz…again.  This guy is making a strong case to be the back-up next season.  Kratz took that toss from Brown and created a brick wall in front of home plate to save a run.  He also threw a runner out who was trying to steal second and caught a very tough foul pop-fly.  At the plate, Kratz recorded 1 hit and a walk.

And Vance Worley survived the 1st inning blunders and wound up having a great night.  He pitched 7 strong innings without allowing an earned run.  Looks like the Vanimal is back!

So the big question now is, can this new-look, last place Phillies team actually SWEEP the 1st place Nationals?  After the last 2 games, it looks like they actually have a shot.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

And in case you missed it, here is the full-page ad Shane Victorino took out in the daily news to thank Phillies fans:

No Shane, thank you!

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