Results tagged ‘ Hunter Pence ’

Phillies Stomp Rockies by a Toe Length

The Phillies won the second game of their series with the Rockies, not by a nose or even by the hair of their chins; they won by a toe.  It was Todd Helton’s toe, to be exact.

In the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs, the bases loaded and a tie game, Placido Polanco stepped to the plate.  He hit a bouncing grounder to short that looked like it might end the game.  It did end the game, just not in the way you might expect.

Polanco hustled down the line and, for some unknown reason, veteran Todd Helton suddenly forgot how to play first base.  He had the wrong foot back towards the bag and had to juggle his feet around.  As a result, his foot was not on the bag by about a toe length when Polanco crossed.  Polanco was safe, the runner on 3rd scored and the Phillies won in walk-off fashion.

I am so grateful to Helton’s toe that I decided to write a short poem about it:

Ode to the Toe
Oh, to the toe
Many thanks must go
Trying to save face
You danced around the base
Giving Polanco plenty of time
To get down the line
The winning run would score
As the crowd began to roar
So thank you little toe
We did so enjoy the show
-

The toe, however, was not the only star of the game.  The Phillies played with a lot of hustle and enthusiasm, which is something we have not seen too much of this season.

The 9th inning was especially nice to see because of the way the whole situation unfolded.  Back in the top of the inning, the Phillies were in a 5-5 tie game with Jonathan Papelbon on the mound.  As has been the case in non-save situations, Papelbon faltered and gave up a run.

Then down 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th, the first two Phillies batters went down fast.  With 2 outs, it looked like they were doomed.  And judging by the season so far, a comeback with 2 outs in the 9th almost seemed impossible.

But then something wonderful happened.  The Phillies fought back…finally.  This is the moment we have been waiting to witness all year long.

After Ty Wigginton singles, Hunter Pence came up with a clutch double; another rarity this year.  Even more impressive, Wigginton tore up the base paths, as if he had a psychic vision that he could go all the way.  Without hesitation, Wiggy actually scored from first base to tie the game, 6-6.

After Carlos Ruiz was walked intentionally, Shane Victorino found his happy place again and loaded the bases with a single.  Victorino beat out the throw from the short stop by about half of a second.  His hustle kept the inning alive.

And you know the rest; Polanco is safe by a toe!  Phillies win!

If the Phillies can keep the hustle going and sweep the Rockies tonight, there may be hope for this season yet…

Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

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Victorino photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Thome’s Hot Bat Helps Phillies to a Win

The Phillies finally won a game last night, although by the skin of their teeth. The 9-8 victory over the Twins broke up a 3 game losing streak in a month where wins have been hard to come by.

The return of Jim Thome from the DL seems to have sparked an offensive explosion. After hitting at a rate of .100 before he went on the DL, Thome now has 10 hits in his last 5 games serving as the DH against the American League. Thome has also hit 2 home runs in that span, the longest of which was a whopping 466 feet last night. The slugger has officially returned!

A bunch of Phillies had big offensive days as well. Juan Pierre, Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz all had 3 hist. And John Mayberry Jr. racked up 4 RBI on 2 hits, including a 3-run homer in the 1st inning.

That first inning was a bit unusual though. The Twins starter, P.J. Walters wound up leaving the game with 4 runs allowed without even recording a single out. It was later reported that he was experiencing shoulder pain.

So the Phillies caught a break and racked up 6 runs in one inning, adding 3 more later. But they still showed the same problems they have been dealing with all year. For example, they Phillies loaded the bases with NO outs in the 9th and once again, failed to score. They could not even muster a sac fly. That is just not going to win them ballgames.

And what has become another disturbing trend is the starting pitching. Cole Hamels, probably the Phillies’ best pitcher not on the DL right now, has really fallen apart lately. Against the Twins, with that huge 6-run lead after the top of the 1st inning, Hamels got knocked around, allowing 7 runs over 6+ innings. Antonio Bastardo allowed one more, all of which turned a 6-run lead into only a 1-run lead.

Luckily, Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the win, having to record 4 outs in order to do so. But I am sure he was just glad to be able to pitch in a save situation, which there have been very few of lately.

Despite all the drama, there were a few great defensive moments thanks to Michael Martinez who also just came off the DL after breaking his foot in spring training. He made the last out of the game by catching a pop-up that was over his head and about to drop in the middle of nowhere. And earlier in the game, he dove to snag a ball hit hard up the middle and in the same motion, made an amazing glove toss to Jimmy Rollins at second.

The return of Martinez is a welcome site now that Freddy Galvis is on the DL with a back fracture (ouch!). Mikey-Mart is about the same offensively as Galvis and his defense, while not quite as spectacular, is still very solid. So welcome back, Mikey!

Although it may be a long shot, the Phillies ‘could’ – maybe – possibly – win this series with a victory tonight. Joe Blanton is pitching and he has given up a minimum of 5 runs in each of his last 5 games. Let us hope that trend ends tonight. Game time is 8:10pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Pitching a Fit Over Phils Pitching

At the start of the season, everyone was worried about the Phillies offense being strong enough to carry a solid starting pitching staff to wins.  Now that the offense is slowly piecing runs together, the entire pitching staff has fallen apart.  Let us examine the grisly evidence:

Roy Halladay is on the DL.  Vance Worley is pitching will bone chips in his elbow.  Cliff Lee has no wins and is recently making a habit of blowing leads.  Cole Hamels has been hit or miss.  Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton keep see-sawing between okay and downright horrible.

As for the bullpen, 5 out of 7 pitchers have little big league experience.  4 of those are rookies in their first (3) year or second (1) year in the majors.  Chad Qualls, a veteran, has basically been a bust.  And their $50 million closer hardly ever pitches because the save situations are slim and they are afraid to use him in non-save situations.

Last night in a horrible 11-7 loss to the Twins, 3 of 4 bullpen guys who pitched combined to allow 5 runs.  Kendrick started the game allowing 6 runs in only 4 innings.  He was beyond awful.  Meanwhile, closer Jonathan Papelbon has not thrown a single pitch since 4 days and 3 games ago.

Making matters worse, Hunter Pence has officially lost his mind in right field.  He only has 3 official errors on the year, but if you add in the mental mistakes and plays that he clearly should have made despite not being an “official” error, he probably has at least 10 by now.

In fact, my favorite moment of last night’s game was a comment by announcer Tom McCarthy.  After Pence failed to field a routine hopper in the 5th inning, turning a single into a triple, McCarthy said, “I think it is safe to say he needs to stop doing that.”  He hit that nail on the head.

Right now, the Phillies are a very BAD team.  Now 9.5 games back of the Nationals in the NL East, they do not have time to wait for Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to return.  If they do not turn it around right now, this season is over.

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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

Another No Decision for Lee in Phillies Win

These are the kind of games that make me wonder why so much emphasis is put on pitcher wins and losses.  It is a flawed statistic.  Phillies starter Cliff Lee has a 2.82 ERA in 7 starts and NO wins through no fault of his own.  At least 5 of those he should definitely have won, but the offense did not help out.

Why is the win/loss stat still heavily relied upon when determining who should be an All-Star, an MVP or a Cy Young winner?  Lee is a prime example of why this should not be an influential factor in those decisions or in figuring who the top pitchers in baseball are.

You can then see why Lee is obviously frustrated as evidenced by an altercation in the dugout last night with Shane Victorino.  After two missed fly balls in the 4th inning, one by Victorino and one by Hunter Pence, the Cardinals took the lead in the game, leading to another no decision for Lee.

The two balls were lost in the twilight and probably not really anyone’s fault.  But the chain of events did emphasize a larger issue; this Phillies offense is wildly inconsistent and the starting pitchers are rightly annoyed.  In fact, assuming Lee spoke for everyone last night, I am glad they are annoyed.  It shows that they actually give a crap.  And maybe this little outburst will light a fire under the rest of the team.

Lee is frustrated more than most as he has received the least amount of run support.  And for a guy that has a reputation of being laid back and never getting rattled, seeing him tee-off on Victorino last night speaks volumes.  Clearly, he does care…a lot.

Victorino later made some great defensive plays to keep the Phillies within reach.  A solid relay throw to Freddy Galvis turned into an out at the plate in the 8th inning as Yadier Molina tried to bowl over Carlos Ruiz.  In his usual tough guy style, Ruiz held onto the ball despite the blow.

And Lee helped his own cause with 2 hits and huge run scored in the 7th where he went from first to home and looked good doing it.  After the play, Lee probably could have used some oxygen, but he was just fine.

That run tied the game, which went to extra innings.  And then Pence, who made the 2nd blunder in the outfield earlier, came out the hero with a 2-run homer in the 10th.  Jonathan Papelbon closed out the 5-3 win for the Phillies 3rd straight victory.

Game 3 with the Cardinals starts tonight at 7:15pm; Kyle Kendrick will start.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

The Base Path Ball and Chain

In recent days, the Phillies seem to keep finding new ways to lose.  After a 6-game winning streak, the offense went back to sleep and the team has lost 3 in a row.  A 2-1 loss to the Nationals Monday night was the worst of the bunch.

While Kyle Kendrick started out shaky, filling in for the injured Vance Worley, he did settle in and keep the Phillies in the game.  Kendrick allowed only 2 runs over 7 innings, which is more than was probably expected of him.

But again, the offense let Kendrick down and did so in every way they could have imagined.  At the start of the year, no one was hitting.  Now, they are hitting but not scoring.  It actually appears as if Phillies hitters get on base and then are somehow magically chained down to the base path via an evil, invisible force.  Because they just cannot seem to get as far as home plate.

Last night, they left 10 men on base and went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position.  All by himself, Hunter Pence left 7 men on base, including a ground out with the bases loaded and 2 outs in the 3rd.

Even Carlos Ruiz, who has been the hottest hitter this year, left 5 men on base.  But the hitting alone was not the only issue.  The Phillies managed to make several base running blunders to add to the chaos.

In the 6th, with no out and runners on 2nd and third, the Phillies again failed to score.  Placido Polanco froze at third on a fly ball to center and did not tag up.  Then in the 9th, John Mayberry Jr. also got chained to 3rd base and failed to score twice, once on what should have been a sac fly and then again on a wild pitch.  He did finally score on a sac fly after that, but then Mike Fontenot found himself super-glued to second and did not advance to 3rd on the play.

With the base path ball and chain in place, the Phillies were “bound” to lose.  Bound, tied and chained; in the world’s oldest profession, that may sound like fun to some of you.  But in the world of baseball, it is not fun at all.  And even worse, we are not getting paid to watch this crap!

Random Updates

- Pitcher Vance Worley has sought out a second opinion on his sore elbow, which appears to have a bone fragment floating around in it.  No word yet on whether he will opt to have surgery.

- Congratulations to Jimmy and Johari Rollins!  Johari gave birth to a baby girl on Sunday night.  She is their first child :O)

- And if you can stomach it, Game 2 with the Nationals starts at 7:05pm tonight.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

An UnbeLEEvable Let Down

So this is what I get for being optimistic…a clunker from Cliff Lee.  Ugh.  The Phillies lost the 3-game series to the Red Sox today with a 5-1 loss.  Lee still does not have a win on the season, although the previous losses were not his fault.

The offense kept letting Lee down.  Today, it was Lee’s turn :O(  The first batter he faced smacked a home run to center, which was not a good omen.  Through 7 innings, Lee surrendered 5 runs, all of which came in the first 3 innings.  Lee found his groove after that, but it was too late.

The offense simply stunk again.  Lee created the most excitement at the plate with a double in the 3rd.  But while there was plenty of action at second base, the Phillies could not seem to find home plate.

Hunter Pence had two hits in the game and missed what may have been a third hit except that it was lined sharply to first.  I do not know why the Red Sox were belly aching about having less defense with David Ortiz at first base due to National League rules, because Big Papi snagged every ball that came his way.  He was quite annoying.

But Big Papi also had a little fun with rookie Freddy Galvis when they met at first base.  Galvis had one hit in the game and played amazing defense, like usual.  And now, he has been officially baptized in the majors as Ortiz appeared to razz him a bit.  Although the look on Galvis’ face in the photo to the far right below says about all you need to know about how this game went…

But do you want to know what the real problem with the Phillies offense is?  For starters, Jimmy Rollins has been quietly having an awful year.  He is batting .229.  Shane Victorino is not far off with a .253 average.  Essentially, all of the regular starters (meaning, those not on the DL) are underperforming while the “bench” guys or secondary starters are doing most of the damage.

Oh, and the other issue.  A photo is worth a thousand words (see photo to the right)…need I say more?

In the “good news” column, Jake Diekman appears to be back on track after one bad outing.  He was really sharp as he struck out the side in the 8th inning.

The Phillies squeaked out one run in the bottom of the 8th, but left the bases loaded…again.  They seem to be allergic to home plate.  Benadryl, anyone?  Ah-chooo!

And just in time, when the offense has begun to stink again, here come the Nationals…Game 1 is Monday night at 7:05pm.

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

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Blanton Bombs Against Red Sox

Now that Phillies fans have all gotten used to seeing Joe Blanton in top form, I suppose he was due to throw a clunker.  Blanton had only given up 2 home runs all year, but last night, he gave up 4 in just one game against the Red Sox.

By the middle of the 4th inning, the score was 5-1 and Blanton had also already made two huge fielding errors in the game.  Clearly, this was not his night.  So when Pete Orr was on deck in the bottom of the 4th to hit for Blanton, I thought, great idea!  Let’s get some more runs and let the pen have a shot at shutting down the Sox.

Imagine my dismay when, after Freddy Galvis smacked a 2-run homer, Orr was called back to the dugout and Blanton went out to hit!  Really?  Those 2 runs meant Blanton would suddenly snap out of his funk?  I think not…

And sadly, I was correct.  I get that manager Charlie Manuel did want to rely on what has been an unreliable bullpen.  But if there was ever a time to give them a shot to redeem themselves, this was it.  Blanton looked awful out there and the insanity continued in the 5th inning.

Only after allowing 3 more hits, including a 2-run homer, was Blanton finally pulled from the game, having recorded only 1 out in the inning.  Buried in a 7-4 hole, the bullpen did actually get the job done after that, not allowing another run to score.  But by that time, the damage was done and the Phillies scored only one more run.

The offense had changes, but luck did not go their way.  Carlos Ruiz, the teams hottest hitter, was robbed of what should have been a 2-run double in the 7th by Ryan Sweeney, who suddenly grew wings, flew through the air and snagged Ruiz’s hit out of the air.  It was an amazing play.

In the 9th, Ruiz was robbed again as he smoked a ball…unfortunately, it went right to the shortstop and was caught.  The ball was hit so hard that Hunter Pence had no chance to get back to first and was doubled up.  Bad luck, indeed…

Later, Shane Victorino popped out on the first pitch he saw with the bases loaded in the 8th.  And that was the end of the threat as the Phillies went on to lose by a score of 7-5.

There were some bright spots, like Galvis’ homer, making it 2 games in a row with a bomb.  And John Mayberry Jr. reached base all 5 times he stepped to the plate for the first time in his career.  Hector Luna also had a great night with 3 hits and an RBI.

But mostly, the good news is that the Phillies never gave up, even when it looked like the game was out of reach.  This is something that we have all been waiting for this season…a little extra fight even when they are down.

They have another shot at the Sox today.  If they win, the Phils will take the series.  Cliff Lee is pitching and I will return with photos!  Game time is 1:35pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Friday Night Smackdown: Philadelphia 2, Boston 0

Both the Red Sox and the Celtics were in town Friday night, which is something that does not happen very often.  Also a rare occurrence, both home teams came out on top…the Phillies beat the Sox, 6-4 and the 76ers took down the Celtics, 92-83 in playoff action.  The stars aligned in Philly for what was a special night.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel had a great view of the game from the Hall of Fame club section as he served his one day suspension for a heated argument with umpire Bob Davidson on Tuesday.  Davidson was also suspended one game, even though he is the one who instigated the entire incident.  I felt like he should have gotten more…but hey, MLB suspending an umpire publically?  That is also something you do not see every day so we’ll take it.

An even bigger story last night was closer Jonathan Papelbon, who was looking forward to facing his old team.  He had many reason to be fired up, including the fact that after last season, the Red Sox did not even bother to offer him a contract.  But whether or not Papelbon was going to get a shot at revenge would depend on the rest of the team…

Cole Hamels did his part, winning 6 straight starts in games in which he earned a decision for the first time in his career.  He allowed 3 runs over 7 innings last night while striking out 9 batters.

Meanwhile, the Carlos Ruiz ridiculous hit parade continued with 2 more hits, 2 more RBI, another stolen base and a run scored in the game.  Hunter Pence is reaping the rewards of Chooch’s success; batting in front of Ruiz, Pence is getting better pitches to hit.  Pence homered in the game and had 2 hits total.  Freddy Galvis and John Mayberry Jr. each also had a hit and an RBI.

Chad Qualls came out of the pen for the 8th and right away cut the Phillies lead to 5-4 as he gave up a homer.  Luckily, the Galvis home run in the bottom of the inning gave Papelbon some breathing room in the 9th.

Then, as if it was scripted, Papelbon got his wish; a 2-run lead and a save situation in the 9th against his former team.  And just like a storybook ending, Papelbon got the save.  But as he noted after the game, he will got gloat until the Phillies win the 3-game series.

Game 2 starts a little late tonight at 7:15pm as Pat Burrell will retire before the game on a 1-day contract with the Phillies.  If you had not heard, a group of comedians (www.birdtext.com) recently made a video spoof which pokes fun at Burrell’s reputation with the ladies.  According to the model who stars in the video, Burrell saw the video and liked it so much, he invited them all to tonight’s game and even requested the tee-shirts they are selling to promote the video.  You can hear her interview on the Preston and Steve show here or at www.birdtext.com .

You have to see this….it is hysterical:

So remember, don’t let your mom, wife, sister, girlfriend or whoever get “Burrelled” tonight ;o)

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

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