Results tagged ‘ JC Romero ’

Lee’s Dominance Results in Clean Sweep of the Marlins

The last time the Phillies won seven games in a row in the month of June was in 1982.  In 2011, they have done it again…finally.  And they also swept the Marlins in a four game series.

 Cliff Lee was on fire today, only in a good way, not in a call the fire department way.  He was no-hitting the Fish until Mike Stanton singled with 2 outs in the 5th.  Still, Lee wound up pitching a complete game shut-out in the 3-0 win.

In addition, Lee was hot at the plate as well.  He had two hits in the game, the second of which was an RBI-double off the right-center field wall.  He missed a home run by only a few feet.

And that one run, the first of the game, turned out to be all Lee needed to win the game.  But just for good measure, Ryan Howard added on with a solo homer in the 5th and Jimmy Rollins knocked in the third run in the 6th with a double.

The Phillies are now on their way to Seattle where they will begin a 3-game series with the Mariners Friday night at 10:10pm.  Roy Oswalt will pitch and Cole Hamels will start on Sunday.

Due to the doubleheader yesterday, the Phillies were in need of a spot starter for Saturday, which is going to be rookie Vance Worley.  That brings us to the sad news of the day…

To make room for Worley, the Phillies chose to designate J.C. Romero for assignment.  They have 10 days to trade him, release him or place him on waivers.  Romero could be offered a minor league deal if no one takes him, but the odds are slim that he would accept that deal.

While Romero has struggled since having elbow surgery before the 2010 season, the emergence of lefty Antonio Bastardo has also made it difficult for Romero to get innings.  Romero will always be remembered in Philadelphia for his contributions to the 2008 World Series championship plus a League Championship and two NL East titles.

On a personal note, I have had the privilege of being able to spend some time with J.C. and his family over the last 3+ years and I will miss them.  The Romero’s are generous, kind people who contributed much more than just baseball to the city of Philadelphia and other communities in need.  

I wish them the very best.

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Polanco’s Grand Slam & 100th Homer Help Halladay Win

Third baseman Placido Polanco smacked his 100th career homer in Friday night’s Phillies – Cubs game.  The grand slam not only marked a significant career achievement, it also helped the Phillies win the game.

Roy Halladay was his usual awesome self on the mound and it looked like he would not need much assistance.  Domonic Brown hit a two-run homer in the second inning to give the Phillies a 3-0 lead.  Then Polly’s slam made it a seven run lead in the seventh.

So after seven innings of no-run ball for Halladay, manager Charlie Manuel decided to give him a little rest and use the bullpen for the final two innings.  That almost wound up being a disaster.

Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero nearly blew the seven run lead, which was especially scary considering how hard it has been for the Phillies to score any runs lately.  Contreras walked two of the first four batters he faced, loaded the bases and had given up two runs by the time he was pulled after recording only one out.

Things got worse when Romero entered and proceeded to walk the first batter he faced on four pitches.  Then back-to-back singles scored three more runs for the Cubs.  Without having recorded an out, Romero was lifted from the game.  The seven run lead had turned into a 7-5 ballgame quickly.

Rookie Michael Stutes was called upon to stop the bleeding, which he did.  Stutes also started the ninth inning  where a strike-out, throw-out double play with a strong toss to second from catcher Carlos Ruiz retired two Cubs in one shot.  Antonio Bastardo then struck out lefty Carlos Pena to earn the save.

While the Phillies won the game 7-5, the performance from Contreras and Romero is raising eyebrows.  Contreras is still struggling with his command since coming off the DL.  Hopefully, time and getting some more work in will correct the issue.  Romero seems healthy, but he is still having serious issues throwing strikes.

The outlook for these bullpen pieces remains to be seen, but it does appear that the back-end of the pen is in the midst of a youth movement.  Both Stutes and Bastardo have outpitched the more experienced Contreras and Romero and will likely be transitioned into the later innings role for the foreseeable future.

Game three with the Cubs is this afternoon at 4:10pm.  Cliff Lee will pitch.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Oswalt Loses at Citizens Bank Park for the First Time

It  looks like #13 was unlucky for Roy Oswalt.  In his 13th career start at Citizens Bank Park, Oswalt lost his first game in the ballpark thanks to a non-existent offense.  It was a 2-0 shut-out by the Rangers.

 

Let me rephrase:  The Phillies did have bats and some did swing them, but no runs ever crossed the plate.  In the last nine games, the Phillies are averaging FIVE hits a game.  Yes, five hits, not runs.  They hit over 5 runs only twice in that spam.

Sunday was no different.  Five hits, NO runs.  This has been a bad case of déjà vu for the starting pitchers, who have been the victims of the invisible run support.

Today, there were a lot of pop-ups, swings at bad pitches, no swings at good pitches, confused looks and ball hit right at fielders:

 

The déjà vu continued as catcher Dane Sardinha got on base in both the 3rd and 5th innings.  Both times, Oswalt bunted him to second.  And both times, with one out and a runner in scoring position, Jimmy Rollins popped out.

 

Oswalt continued to pitch well, despite the disappointing offense.  He went seven innings, allowing only one run.  And the Phillies had some nice defensive plays as well, including a pair of double plays and some acrobatics by Wilson Valdez.

 

And then there was this play, where Rollins tagged out Elvis Andrus, but the umpire missed the tag.  It did not matter anyway, as Oswalt got out of the inning.

 

The second Rangers run was charged to J.C. Romero.  But again, it did not really matter as the Phillies batters were hitting anything.

The good news is that Chase Utley is back!  Pete Orr was sent to the minors to make room and Utley will make his 2011 debut on Monday night against the Reds.  The Phillies are counting on Utley to light a fire under this offense.

Joe Blanton was placed on the DL as expected and Vance Worley will replace him, pitching on Tuesday night.

The Phils also signed veteran outfielder Scott Podsednik to a minor-league deal as a back-up plan after the Blue Jays released him.  Podsednik is a lifetime .279 hitter but he has had issues with plantar fasciitis in his foot, which is why the Jays let him go.  If he can take time to heal, he could be useful later in the season.

The Reds game starts at 7:05pm tomorrow night.  In the meantime, here is the full Photo Album from today’s massacre…I mean, game.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

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

 

Offense Still Missing; More Injuries

I will start with the good news.  Roy Oswalt looked good Tuesday night and had some speed on his fastball.  Through five innings, he allowed only one run, which could have been avoided if third-string catcher, Dane Sardinha knew how to tag anyone at the plate.

And now the bad news….the Phillies offense is still missing in action.  The Phillies collected only six hits, two of which were from rookie Michael MartinezRyan Howard struck out three times and left three men on base, which is unusual for him in his hometown of St. Louis.  Howard normally rakes when he is home.

All together, the Phils left 10 men on base and the only run they scored was unearned after Tyler Greene dropped a routine Jimmy Rollins pop-up.

And now for the ugly…Danys Baez came into a tie 1-1 game in the ninth and proceeded to load the bases before recording an out.  J.C. Romero was in next and he threw only one pitch.  That one pitch went deep center field, handing the game to the Cardinals for a two-game sweep.

And now for the “Oh crap!” moment of the game…rookie reliever Michael Stutes tossed three pitches in the sixth before signaling to the bench that he was hurt.  He left the game with a strained a right side muscle.  No word yet on how serious it is, but this is just one more disaster that the Phillies cannot afford.

The offense has been so bad for this team, I am finally out of words to describe it.  If the Phillies do not find a way out of this slump fast, they will find themselves plummeting down the ranks of the NL East.  The Marlins are only 1/2 game behind them and the Braves are 1.5 games back.  Ugh.

Friday the 13th Was Good Luck For The Phillies

Friday the 13th turned out to be a reversal of fortune for the Phillies, on a day that is traditionally known for bad luck.  It was also a day where some very young, unproven pitchers were tossed into the fire and emerged unscathed.

Cole Hamels was to start the game, but before he took the mound, Ryan Howard blasted a three-run homer to give him a nice lead to work with.  And although Hamels gave a run back to the Braves in the first inning, it looked like he was on cruise control after that, at least until the fifth inning.

A single and two straight doubles by the Braves in the fifth tied the game at 3-3.  In the sixth, Hamels uncorked a wild pitch with a runner on third to give the Braves a 4-3 lead.  After six innings, Hamels had allowed four runs on eight hits while both Hamels and Placido Polanco committed errors in the game.

It was starting to look like a real Friday the 13th nightmare until Shane Victorino hit an RBI-single in the seventh to tie the game again.  But as quickly as things began to look up, they went downhill again fast.

Relief pitcher J.C. Romero started the bottom of the seventh and got into big trouble quickly.  Martin Prado doubled; it seemed like he could not fail to get on base after doing so four straight times in this game.  After a sac bunt that moved Prado to third, Romero walked the next two batters to load the bases.

With one out and the bases juiced, the rookie Michael Stutes took over, looking like fresh meat tossed into a pack of wolves.  Stutes was not rattled and he struck out Dan Uggla, making it look easy.  Antonio Bastardo was up next and before you could blink, the count was a scary 3-0.  But the young lefty refocused and came back to strike out a very frustrated Freddie Freeman, who began slamming equipment to the ground.

The Phillies were able to retake the lead in the eighth after Howard doubled and Raul Ibanez singled to score him.  With a very slim 5-4 lead, another rookie would be called upon to hold the Braves down.  Vance Worley took the mound and on one pitch, gave up a single.  Still not shaken, Worley got the next three outs, including Prado, who failed to reach base for the first time all night.

Ryan Madson closed out the game and is now 6-for-6 in save attempts.  But the best news of the night was seeing a very young group of bullpen pitchers pass the biggest test of their budding careers.  Stutes, Bastardo and Worley were outstanding and there can be no question now that they all have what it takes to pitch in the majors.

Game two with the Braves is at 1:10pm Saturday and Joe Blanton will pitch.

 

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

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

 

Worley Whips The Nats

Game two against the Nationals was a very good day for young pitcher Vance Worley.  Filling in for the injured starter, Joe Blanton, Worley made his second start of the year tonight and notched his second win. 

Through six innings, Worley allowed only one run on four hits with one hit batter.  He also smacked a single into left and later scored in the fifth inning.  Worley has been so good, some may be wishing that Blanton really takes his time coming back.

By the way, have you all seen the new Vance Worley fan club?  They call themselves “Worley’s Warriors.” So is it just me, or do they look less like warriors and more like a Mariachi Band? 

 

Anyway, the offense did their job tonight as well.  Raul Ibanez put the final touches on a newly busted slump, going 3 for 4 with a solo homer.  While his batting average will take some time to recover, currently at .194, the hitting funk is officially over.

Jimmy Rollins had a nice day as well, relishing his return to the lead-off spot with two hits, an RBI and a walk.  Also with two hits, Brian Schneider continues to fill in for the ailing Carlos Ruiz.  And Shane Victorino collected two RBI.

The best part of the offense tonight was watching the Phillies go around the diamond one base at a time in the sixth inning to score four runs.  The small ball is back and the Phillies are scoring again.

Another return tonight was that of J.C. Romero, fresh off a rehab assignment.  Romero pitched a clean seventh inning and appears to be in very good shape.  Upon being added to the roster, pitcher David Herndon, who has been struggling, was optioned to AAA.

The Phillies went on to win by a score of 7-4 after Danys Baez allowed a 3-run homer in the 9th.  Ugh.

FYI – Our old buddy Jayson Werth has had only one hit in the series so far. 

The final game of the series is Thursday night at 7:05pm.  Roy Halladay will pitch.

Side note: Matt Stairs, now with the Nationals, got his 100th career pinch hit tonight.  Congrats, Matt!

 

***Important Blog FYI:  The entire MLBlogs community is going to be switched to a WordPress format beginning on Friday, May 6.  The transition may last through Monday night, May 9.  All MLBlogs writers will be unable to post and you will be unable to access any MLBlogs during this transition.  So do not panic if this and other blogs suddenly disappear during that weekend…we will be back :O)***

 

Go Phillies!

Phillies Starter Joe Blanton is the Latest Injury Bug Victim

Players are dropping like flies in Philadelphia.  Joe Blanton is the latest victim of this injury virus which seems to be spreading quicker than both the Swine and Bird Flu combined.

The diagnosis is medial impingement of the right elbow, which is Blanton’s throwing arm.  Treatment for this injury can vary from rest and medication to surgery.  There is no word yet on how Blanton’s treatment will play out.

Blanton now joins fellow teammates on the DL, including shortstop Chase Utley, closer Brad Lidge, back-up closer Jose Contreras, relief pitcher JC Romero and outfielder Domonic Brown.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz is also going to be inactive for several days while he recovers from a back issue.  For now, he will not be placed on the DL and Brian Schneider will fill in.


122A.jpgVance Worley
has been called up from the AAA Iron Pigs to start tomorrow’s game against the Mets in place of Blanton.  In four starts this year, Worley is 2-2 with a 2.78 ERA and 9.9 K/9.  In 13 innings last year with the major league club, Worley was impressive with a 1.38 ERA and 12 strikeouts.

While this is a great opportunity for a young prospect, the news for Blanton is surprising.  Blanton is coming off two straight quality starts after having a rough start to the season.  He showed no signs of elbow issues Saturday against the Padres.  Just when things were looking up for Blanton, the crap has suddenly hit the fan.

What was once a very experienced pitching staff for the Phillies has just gotten a whole lot younger very quickly.  Having to depend on younger arms both in the starting staff and in the bullpen is a little nerve racking.

How a younger pitcher will respond to a stressful situation is the great unknown.  Although in Worley’s case, he showed very good poise last year in his short time with the big club.  That is a plus.

But this is a new year with new pressures, including having to keep pace with four of the best starters in the game in Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.  If Worley can stick to competing with himself, instead of the rest of this veteran staff, he should be just fine.

For Phillies fans, the way to look at all this carnage is simple.  Perhaps the team is getting all the injuries out of the way early so everyone will be healthy late in the season.  Or, is that too optimistic?  Time will tell.

In the interim, just keep sending out that positive, happy energy and hope for the best.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Phillies Bats Eaten Up By Wolf

In a week full of opposites, Roy Halladay had a bad game against the Brewers.  The night before Joe Blanton had a good game and in both games, the offense did not show up.  The Phillies are currently in some sort of cruel and unusual time warp where nothing is as it should be.


Wolf bat.jpgAdding to the horror was Brewer’s pitcher and former Phillie, Randy Wolf, who literally chewed up and spit out Phillies batters.  Wolf allowed only two hits over six innings.

To their credit, the Brewers defense stole a few hits from the Phillies with running grabs in the outfield.  Those balls looked like they were far out of reach, but the Brewers ran them down.

The Phillies did not look like themselves at all.  Carlos Ruiz threw away a ground ball that should have been an out; Ryan Howard missed a grounder at first; and then the bullpen handed the Brewers a bunch of runs in a game that was already out of control.

As Halladay was pulled in a 4-0 game, David Herndon threw two pitches and gave up a 3-run homer.  Mike Zagurski, recalled from AAA to take JC Romero’s spot on the roster, also did some damage.  He walked the first batter he saw and then allowed a 2-run single.  Both run were charged to Herndon and all that happened with two outs in the inning.  The score was 9-0 after that seventh inning.

As a side note, Zagurski has been recalled from AAA a number of times over the years in both 2007 and 2010, after multiple injuries and surgeries.  His lifetime ERA in the Bigs through 2010 is 6.99.  In other words, he does well in the minors and implodes in the majors.  It has happened every time and Tuesday night was no different.  Although, the runs he allowed will not be charged to him, he still failed to hold the score down and give the Phils a chance to come back.

The Phillies offense is now officially a major problem.  They went through these super-slumps all last year, which eventually resulted in the firing of hitting coach Milt Thompson.  Like a bad case of deja vu, here we go again.

In fact, the Phillies lead hitter with runners in scoring position is currently Wilson Valdez.  Not Ryan Howard, not Jimmy Rollins or even Raul IbanezWilson Valdez, going into today’s game was batting .556 with RISP.  Howard is at .286, Rollins is .188…you get the picture.  No offense to Valdez who is a very solid player, but if he is the team leader in hits with RISP, there is a serious problem.

The Phillies have one shot left at a win over the Brew Crew tomorrow afternoon at 1:05pm.  Cliff Lee will pitch and hopefully, the offense will show up for him.

Oswalt Gets Hurt; Baez Blows The Lead

The Phillies bullpen returned from their 2-day vacation tonight.  Due to some amazing starting pitching, the pen had not been used since Tuesday.  Many are wishing that the vacation had never ended.

Roy Oswalt was lights-out for four innings and finally gave up a hit in the fifth, a solo homer.  He then allowed one more run after back-to-back doubles by the Marlins in the sixth.

After a bunt in the bottom of the sixth inning, Oswalt grabbed his left side as he crossed first base.  Uh-oh.  While he walked to the mound to start the seventh, Charlie Manuel and the Phillies trainer quickly ran out after him and removed him before he threw a pitch.  The diagnosis was a lower back strain.

Oswalt has a history of back issues, while was one of the main concerns when he was traded to the Phils last year.  How serious this particular issue is has yet to be determined.

With the injury to Oswalt, the bullpen’s vacation was officially over.  JC Romero came in for one batter and on a hopping ground ball, he could not resist the urge to attempt to field it as it bounced over his head.  The ball glanced off his glove and spun away from Pete Orr at second base giving Logan Morrison an infield single.


Baez trust0415.jpgBad luck for Romero turned into a disaster for Danys Baez.  He quickly issued a walk and a single to load the bases.  Then instead of bringing in lefty Antonio Bastardo to face ex-Phillie Greg Dobbs, Manuel left Baez in.  Big mistake.  Dobbs greeted the undeserved boos from the crowd with a 2-run single.  The boos came before the hit.

Dobbs was an amazing pinch hitter for the Phils in 2008 when he helped them win the World Championship.  He had a bad year last year, but that was certainly not deserving of such a reception.  In addition, Dobbs is one of the nicest players I have ever met.  Genuinely nice, not just putting on a show.  He always had time to chat, time for autographs and did some great charity work with disabled children in the Philly area.  Those who booed him should be ashamed.

But I digress…those two runs Dobbs knocked in gave the Marlins a 4-3 lead.  But what it also did was give Phillies fan one more reason to dislike Baez.  He looked better than last year early in the year and in the spring, but clearly, he cannot be trusted in a close game.

While the rest of bullpen held, the offense could not come though.  Orr swung at the first pitch in the ninth inning and flew out.  John Mayberry Jr. drew a walk, but both Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco flew out as well.

This was a depressing game to lose, but the Phillies have made a habit early this year of losing the first game of a series and then winning the next two.  Let’s hope that trend continues.

In the meantime, here is a little comic relief.  It is a make-believe conversation between Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth.  Warning: If cuss words offend you or small children are around, do not play the video.  Otherwise, enjoy ;o)

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Great Home Stand Ends With Series Win Over Mets

The Phillies beat the Mets today by a score of 11-0 to win the series two games to one.  Roy Halladay was his usual, spectacular self as he shut down the opposition.  Halladay went seven innings without allowing a run on six hits and his first walk issued for the season.

The offense went back to work, pounding Mets pitching mercilessly.  Every Phillies starter had a hit, including Halladay.  Wilson Valdez led the team with four hits and three RBI.  Placido Polanco had three RBI on two hits and Raul Ibanez smacked his first homer of the year, a two-run shot in the seventh.

The Phillies finish their first home stand of the year with a 5-1 record, scoring 43 runs in the process.  Overall, the start of 2011 has been a great success for the Phillies.  Here are some of the most encouraging signs:

The Offense: Those 43 runs in six games are a very big deal for a team whose offensive potential looked grim to some in the absence of both Chase Utley and Jayson Werth, who is now with the Nationals.

The runs have not been the only good news.  The way they scored those runs is also impressive.  Normally known as a home-run led offense, the Phillies have learned how to run the bases and play small ball, going station to station with a more patient approach at the plate.

The homers are still there, but have not played as prominent a role as they have in years past.  In other words, the Phillies can score runs without the big bangs.


P40380030403.jpgRyan Howard and Jimmy Rollins Off To A Good Start
: Normally a slow-starter in April, Ryan Howard’s big bat has made an early entrance in 2011.

Over all six games, Howard has collected 12 hits, including three doubles, two home runs and eight RBI.  On Wednesday night against the Mets, Howard went four for four at the plate.  He is now batting .480.

If the All-Star first baseman can keep up this pace, he is going to strike fear into the hearts of opposing pitchers all year long.

As for Rollins, he had a very rough 2010 that was plagued with injuries.  But he is off to a good start in 2011, which is also a contract year for him.

Batting .375 in the three-hole so far, Rollins may be back to the J-Roll of old.


P40379440403.jpgWilson Valdez Is Up To The Task
: When Chase Utley reported major knee injuries this spring training, the fan base let out a collective sigh of disappointment.  The perennial All-Star is one of leaders on this team and probably their best overall hitter.

But Wilson Valdez, coming off a season where he got a lot of playing time due to injuries, is ready to fill the void.

Hitting .429 through six games and five starts, Valdez tried to imitate Ryan Howard on Thursday afternoon, going four for four with three RBI.  With nine hits and five RBI in his five starts, Valdez has more than adequately filled the Utley void.

And his defense is probably a slight upgrade over Utley.  Valdez has a cannon for an arm and now, his bat is on fire too.

Starting Pitching:  Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt all gave solid performances this week, as expected.  Halladay has pitched twice and was even better in his second start.

As for Cole Hamels and Joe Blanton, their first starts did not go quite as well.  But three out of five is not bad.

However, no one should panic about either Hamels or Blanton.  Hamels is a notoriously slow starter.  Clearly, the California kid does not like chilly weather.  His lifetime ERA in April is 4.45.  In 2010, Hamels posted a 5.28 ERA in April.

Blanton has similar issues.  So both pitchers should get better as the season progresses. 

But these five guys are going to be something very special.

The Bullpen:  Once thought to be the Achilles heel of this Phillies team, the bullpen has really stepped up their game this year.

Danys Baez has been great after being a total nightmare in 2010.  Youngster Antonio Bastardo has matured and also looks very sharp.  And J.C. Romero appears to have made the necessary adjustments to his game that were needed after he had issues in 2010 following elbow surgery.

With Brad Lidge gone and probably not returning until after the All-Star break, there are concerns about the back end of the pen, too.  But both Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras are on the ball so far.  Contreras collected his first save on Wednesday night and neither pitcher has allowed a run yet.

The pen is ready for the season!

Werth Who? : Ben Francisco is quickly making Phillies fans forget all about Jayson Werth and his exorbitant $129 million pay check with the Nationals.

Batting .320, Francisco has eight hits, five RBI and two home runs so far.  He might have a few more bombs if not for the cold, windy conditions in Philly right now.  Francisco has hit the ball very, very hard in nearly every at-bat.

His defense has been good as well.  Giving himself up for the team, Francisco smashed into the right field wall, back first on Sunday to catch a very long fly ball.  He hit it so hard, part of the out of town scoreboard was knocked loose.

Francisco’s effort and right-handed power are exactly what the Phillies need in their starting right fielder.

The Phillies are off on their first road trip of the season.  They take on the Braves in Atlanta tomorrow with Cliff Lee pitching.  Game time is 7:35pm.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

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