Results tagged ‘ Hunter Pence ’

Phillies Hit The Road on a Positive Note

In the finale of a 4-game series with the Cubs, the Phillies got off to a hot start with 4 runs in the first inning.  Having already lost 2 games in this series, it was imperative for this team to get going quickly. But after those 4 runs, the offense went to sleep again.

Vance Worley pitched 7 strong innings while the offense napped.  He allowed only 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks.  The Phillies took the 4-1 lead into the 8th inning as the bullpen took over.

Sadly, no lead seems very safe with this team.  Such was the case as Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls combined to blow the 3-run lead.  Bastardo walked his second batter and Qualls gave up a single to score that run and then added a 2-run homer shortly after.

With the game then tied, the Phillies needed that sleeping offense to wake up.  But the way things have been going lately, it seemed unlikely.  It was going to take a small miracle…or at least a clutch hit.

When you find yourself cheering because the first batter of the inning, Juan Pierre, got hit by a pitch, you know things have not been going well.  And when you begin to hope that maybe the pitcher will hit the next 3 batters so you can score a run, things have gone from bad to worse.

But instead of getting hit, the Phillies actually got a few hits.  With 2 outs and Pierre on first, Jimmy Rollins singled to move Pierre to third.  And then the real hero stepped to the plate and proved he has still got the bat to go with his glove.  Placido Polanco smashed a double to left that scored both Pierre and Rollins.  It was the first time this year that the Phillies were able to take a lead in their final at-bat.

The Phillies went on to a 6-4 victory, thanks to Polly’s timely hit.  Even better, it does appear that Polanco is healthy again after 2 hernia issues the previous year.

Going back on the road against the Braves and Nationals, who are leading the division, it was important to start on a positive note.  With any luck, the Phillies may be able to start digging themselves out of this hole and April’s losing record.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

The Phillies Team-Wide Recession

The nicest thing I can say about today’s Phillies – Cubs game is that the weather was beautiful.  Unfortunately, that is where the joy ends.

Even the Phillie Phanatic’s birthday celebration was toned down from previous years.  There were fewer mascots, no Zooperstars except a generic monkey and the cake was less than half the size it usually is.  See for yourself…it appears the recession has finally reached the Phanatic birthday bash:

In fact, maybe the entire organization is suffering from a recession.  They accidentally give away runs to other teams for free and cannot score any of their own.  That is a recipe for going broke fast.

Today’s match-up featured Kyle Kendrick vs. Matt Garza.  Guess who won?

Garza sucked what little life was left in the Phillies offense and spat them out like garbage.  The only action the Phillies bats saw was a parade of foul balls:

Jimmy Rollins got a hit to start the game and that was it for the whole team until the 9th inning when Hunter Pence added a bookend hit.  The only run they scored was also in the 9th and came from a bases-loaded walk.

The defense was just as awful.  Here is Laynce Nix impersonating a really bad first baseman:

I say impersonating because he is an outfielder who played a total of 9 games at first base in a 9-year career before joining the Phillies.

And Pence added to the mayhem by overrunning another ball in right field which led to a run for the Cubs.  That is 3 straight games that Pence has made the same mistake.  I am confused by this…how about you?

And here is a play at the play where, according to my photo, it appears Brian Schneider tags the runner about a foot before the plate.  I did not see the TV replay, so maybe the photo is deceptive, but who knows:

Either way, it was just one more crappy moment in another crappy Phillies game.  This was officially one of the worst Phillies games I have ever seen in person.  The 5-1 loss also guarantees the Phils a losing record in April after dropping 2 out of 3 games so far to the second WORST team in the entire national league.  Depressed yet?

No worries…there is always tomorrow (please note my sarcasm here).  Feel free to add your own sarcastic comments as well.  At least we can all vent together ;O)

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.  I assure you, my photos are more entertaining than this team is right now.  You’re welcome.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Chooch Gets The Phillies Train Chugging Again

Carlos Ruiz has very quietly been one of the best catchers in baseball over the past several years.  Calling games for guys like Roy Halladay, catching no hitter’s and backing his team with key hits, Chooch never seems to get the credit he deserves.

But Phillies fans know that Chooch is the man.  Last night Ruiz helped pitcher Joe Blanton get through 7 1/3 innings, allowing just two runs and striking out 8 batters.  Blanton looked really sharp and Ruiz was his usual, awesome self.

Leading the team with 3 RBI in the 5-2 victory over the Cubs, Ruiz also showed his toughness.  After getting nailed in the knee with a foul ball in the 6th inning and writhing in pain, only minutes later, Ruiz smashed a home run to left to add an insurance run for the Phillies.  There is nothing this guy would not do for his team.

The 2 hits by Ruiz were key in the game, as the Phillies had only 4 other hits for a total of 6 in the game.  3 of the remaining 4 hits were doubles, including a 2-run shot by Jimmy Rollins.  After an awful start to the season, we can only hope that hit gets J-Roll rolling again.

Manager Charlie Manuel shuffled the line-up last night with Rollins in the lead-off spot.  But aside from the 1 hit, the change of scenery did not help much and Juan Pierre is doing very well in that spot.  Pierre will likely return to the top of the line-up today.  But do expect several more line-up shake-ups as Manuel tinkers to find something that works for this offense.

Also of note last night was Jim Thome leaving the game early with back soreness.  Batting only .111 in 18 at-bats so far, this is going to raise more questions about whether or not Thome can still be a productive player this late in his career.  Currently, Thome is listed as day-to-day.

Game 3 with the Cubs starts this afternoon at 1:35pm.  See you at the game!

 

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Ruiz Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Back to Bad

It looks like the run explosion from the Phillies offense in Arizona was really just a desert mirage after all.  Because against the Cubs tonight, they went right back to their losing ways.

The game started out promising with runners on first and third with no outs.  But that short, 5 minute elation was squashed quickly by two straight pop-ups from Jimmy Rollins and Hunter Pence plus a ground out from Shane Victorino.  Those three hitters, the core of the Phillies current line-up, combined to go 0-for-12 on the night.

And that first inning set the tone.  The only run the Phillies scored was a solo homer from Ty Wigginton.  If you had told me at the start of the season that Wigginton would be the Phillies best hitter, I would have said that this team was in really big trouble.  Wigginton was acquired to be a bench guy.  But because he is the only one hitting, he is now a starter, batting .327 with a 12-game hitting streak.

And that is where the good news ends.

Roy Halladay had a little trouble tonight, but he still only allowed 3 runs over 7 innings.  It was certainly enough for a win.

By the ninth inning, down 3-1, the Phillies defense added to the disaster as well.  Pence over ran a ball, allowing a Cubs run to score.  Then Rollins followed suit, missing a ground ball and another run scored.  Knowing this offense was already dead in the water, those plays sealed the deal and the Phils lost by a 5-1 score.

This is such a disheartening loss that I cannot imagine what to say at this point.  So, I will go with….Go Flyers!  Yeah, it is that bad.  I have resorted to hockey.  *Sigh*

Game 2 with the Cubs: 7:05pm Saturday.

 

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Happy Bunny by Jim Benton

 

Phillies Offense Finally on a Roll…

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

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

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

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

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

Injury Updates:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So be optimistic; but be cautiously optimistic.

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Phillies Find Runs in Arizona

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Injuries & Bad Offense Sinking the Phillies

A little help here, please?  Anybody?  It may still be early in the season, but the Phillies ship is sinking fast.  Is 15 games into the season a bit too early to begin yelling, “Mayday! “?  Maybe not…

With a 7-8 record, the Phillies are barely staying afloat in the NL East where they are tied for last place with the Marlins.  Last nights’ awful 5-1 loss to the Padres combined with star pitcher Cliff Lee being sent to the DL is making a lot of fans sea sick, and with good reason.

Lee’s injury occurred in the 10th inning of Wednesday’s game against the Giants where he apparently strained his left oblique.  The injury may have nothing to do with Lee going 10 innings, as he only threw 102 pitches.  However, had the Phillies offense given him any support at all, Lee probably would not have been on the mound for the 10th.

This Phillies offense seriously needs to batten down the hatches and figure out how to score or be sent to walk the plank.  Too many guy are simply not toeing the line.

There were only 3 hits in the game from the Phillies, and one of those came off the bat of pitcher Roy Halladay.  The only run scored came with 2 outs in the ninth on a Ty Wiggington double.  In the 4th inning, the Phillies had 2 men on and no one out.  But the extremely undisciplined hitting killed the rally; Hunter Pence struck out while swinging at pitches way out of the zone; Shane Victorino flied out and after Wiggington walked, Freddy Galvis flew out.

Halladay had walked three batters in a row for the first time ever, but he still battled back and gave up only 2 runs.  He made the adjustment.  The offense did not.  And so once again, the Phillies waste a strong pitching performance.  Here is a silly thought…Maybe Lee really did not hurt his oblique pitching on Wednesday; maybe the offense simply made him so nauseous that he threw-up one too many times after the game?  This entire pitching staff is probably feeling sea sick along with the rest of us.

So, what is the answer?  No one really knows, but I do wish everyone would stop whining about Ryan Howard and Chase Utley being out.  Because they are not the answer either.  When you have most of your lineup regularly swinging at bad pitches and watching good ones fly by, it makes no difference what Howard and Utley might do.

All I know for sure is that if this team does not figure it out soon, they are going to sink like the Titanic.

 

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Manuel Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

The Vanimal Returns

After a shaky start to the season, Phillies pitcher Vance Worley was trying to locate his inner animal last night against the Padres.  In 7 innings of shut-out ball, the Vanimal has indeed returned.

The 11 strikeouts Worley recorded were a career high and left many Padres shaking their heads.  Worley did walk 3 batters, but only allowed 4 hits, fewer than Cliff Lee allowed the night before.  If Worley can maintain this pace, it will be a huge boost for the team going forward.

And they could use a boost because the Phillies batters have still not found their inner animal.  Right now they are playing at the level of a timid lamb instead of a proud lion, like Worley.  This zoo needs a serious upgrade.

After getting only 4 hits against the Giants in the previous game, against the Padres, the Phils posted only 6 hits.  It looked like they may get going when they scored a run in the first on a Jimmy Rollins sac fly.  But then with a man on third and only one out, the Phillies could not add on.

They scored only 2 total bookend runs, one in the 1st and one in the 9th on a wild pitch.  Thanks to the pitching from Worley, Chad Qualls and Jonathan Papelbon, 2 runs wound up being enough for the win.

Game 2 with the Padres starts at 10pm tonight…TGIF!

 

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

The First Inning Is Killing the Phillies

Through 11 regular season games so far, the Phillies have a 5-6 record.  Perhaps not coincidentally, their number of loses corresponds with the number of games that Phillies pitchers have allowed 1st inning runs.  They may not have lost those exact same 6 games, but the statistic that the Phils get themselves into an early hole 54% of the time is significant.

In fact, the last 5 consecutive games were part of the 6 game get-behind-early disaster.  That means that every pitcher in the Phillies starting rotation has had a hand in this.

When an offense is struggling like this Phillies team is, you simply cannot afford to dig a hole before the game is barely 10 minutes old.

Likewise, not taking advantage of the other team’s errors early in the game is also a very bad idea.  That is what sunk the Phillies offense against the Giants on Tuesday night.  Two Giants errors put 2 men on base for the Phillies in the 1st inning with nobody out.  But Jimmy Rollins then grounded into a double play and Hunter Pence swung at the first pitch he saw and popped out.  Potential rally? – DOA.

The Giants screwed up and the Phillies did not make them pay for it.  Then Joe Blanton spotted the Giants 2 runs in the second half of the 1st.  Right there, the game was basically over…before the 1st inning had ended no less.

Of course, they had 8 innings to come back, but the way this team is going, that was unlikely to happen.  And sure enough, that is exactly how it turned out.

So what is the 1st inning slump-fest all about?  It is not like these guys rolled out of bed and landed on the field.  They practice, warm-up and all that good stuff.  So why do they tend to bomb in the 1st inning?  Believe me, if I had the answer, I’d be shouting it from the rooftops.

Ideas anyone?

 

 

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Halladay Tames the Giants

In the recent past, Roy Halladay has not had a lot of luck against the Giants.  And with 2 Cy-Young winners facing off, Monday night’s game was set-up to be a real battle.  It was also a nice opportunity for me to repost one of my favorite photoshop experiments.  Meet Darth Vader (Lincecum) & Luke Skywalker (Halladay).  Can you guess who the evil emperor is?

Back to the game…the battle ended really before it began as a struggling Tim Lincecum got torched by the Phils in the first inning to the tune of 4 runs.  You can usually assume a 4-run lead is safe with Halladay on the mound.  Actually, I do not believe Halladay has ever lost a game when his team scores 4 in the first.

This would be no different.  Halladay had what has become a traditional hiccup in the 1st inning, allowing a run on 2 hits, 2 walks and a sac fly.  But after that, he was mostly on point.

And seeing his offense get him some early runs had to help.  Placido Polanco started off the game with a double to right.  Jimmy Rollins walked and then 3 consecutive hits, including another double from Laynce Nix rocked the Giants early.

Freddy Galvis hit a double in the 4th as well, giving the Phillies 3 extra base hits in the game, which have been very hard to come by so far this year.  And of course, not only was Halladay brilliant on the mound, he also collected his first RBI of the season in that same inning with a single to score Galvis.

Tonight Joe Blanton will pitch against Madison Bumgarner and his brand-spanking new five-year, $35 million contract extension.  Bumgarner is only 22 years old.  And yes, only the Giants would sign a 22-year old to that sort of deal.  That is a lot of pressure for a young kid to live up to.  I wish him luck, except when he faces the Phillies, of course ;o)   Game time is 10:15pm.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

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