Results tagged ‘ Jim Thome ’

The Phillies Are Halfway to Nowhere

After being swept by the Marlins today, the Phillies are 10.5 games back in the division with a 36-45 record.  It is their worst effort through 81 games since 1997.

It is the halfway point of the season; time to count the bodies and see exactly how big the hole is that the Phillies are digging.  Let’s begin with Jim Thome.  He was traded to the Orioles in exchange for 2 prospects: Class A catcher Gabriel Lino and right-hander Kyle Simon, both of whom will report to Class A Lakewood.  So the Phillies did not even get a player who could help out right now.

If the Phillies were actually contending, Thome might still be here.  But it is the best move for Thome, who will actually get some playing time in the American League.  I wish him the best.

And how about Cliff Lee…when Phillies beat reporter Todd Zolecki asked pitching coach Rich Dubee about Lee’s struggles, Dubee basically pleaded the 5th.  The response given multiple times was, “I’m not going into it.”  Lee appears healthy, no mechanical issues were mentioned.  That leads one to believe that Lee, winless in 13 starts, has thrown in the towel.  I hope that is not the case, but Lee has not seemed right in a long time now.

And the bodies continue to mount.  Jimmy Rollins’ hot streak is over; he is hitless in his last 11 at-bats.  Placido Polanco is 2 for his last 15.  Antonio Bastardo has allowed 6 runs in his last 4 2/3 innings in relief.

The next head on the block might actually be Cole Hamels.  Just announced as an All-Star this year along with Carlos Ruiz and Jonathan Papelbon, it is rumored that the Phillies are shopping Hamels to other teams.  If team management feels Hamels will walk once he hits free agency and this 2012 team is down for the count, Hamels may be gone soon.

That would be a terrible shame, but if the Phillies do not pick themselves up and start winning, Hamels will not be the only casualty.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Thome Sets Another Record in Phillies Walk-Off Win

In their 1st visit back to Philadelphia since losing the 2008 World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays once again brought the rain with them.  Friday night’s Phillies – Rays game was rained out and will be played as part of a doubleheader on Sunday.  The originally scheduled 1:35pm game will start instead at 1:05pm and the make-up game will begin at 6:35pm.

For today’s game, Kyle Kendrick started as originally planned, with Cliff Lee being pushed back to Sunday.  After Lee had fully warmed up Friday night, they did not want to take any chances by having him go today.

Kendrick did not have a great day, getting speeches while on the mound from teammates Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins and then pitching coach Rich Dubee.  It seemed like a lot of work just to get Kendrick through what turned out to be only 4 innings.  He walked 3 and allowed 3 runs.

But the offense gave the pitching a boost with big home runs from Rollins and Juan Pierre.  For Pierre, it was his first homer since August of last year and his first 3-run homer since 2004.  Pierre is not typically a long-ball hitter and as a result, there were huge smiles all around the Phillies bench when he hit that one.  Pierre got to play Superman, if only for just one day.

For the bullpen, Raul Valdes did a commendable job picking up the slack for Kendrick.  Fresh back from the minors, Valdes pitched 2 very solid innings.  Antonio Bastardo had a little trouble in the 8th where he loaded the bases but did pitch out of it after allowing only one run.

The 6-4 lead carried the Phillies into the 9th with a save opportunity for Jonathan Papelbon.  It was not exactly smooth sailing.  In fact, he blew his first save of season, giving up 2 runs and really putting the Phillies in a very bad position with a doubleheader scheduled the next day.  This could not have been worse timing, except…

In the bottom of the 9th, a future Hall of Famer was lying in wait to bail Papelbon out.  Jim Thome stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 9th and absolutely crushed a ball to deep left field.  And just like that, BOOM!  The Phillies won it in walk-off style.

It was Thome’s 13th career walk-off homer, which is a major league record.  He is also the all-time leader in Interleague play home runs.  And Thome is now tied with Sammy Sosa for 7th place in career homers with 609.

On Sunday, Cole Hamels will pitch the first game and Lee will pitch the second one.  I will be at both games and shall return with photos.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Blue Jays Make Worm Meal out of Phillies in 3-Game Sweep

The Blue Jays pecked apart the Phillies in all aspects of the game throughout a 3-game sweep.  Today’s 6-2 loss was the bloodiest of the 3 as the Phillies seem to have laid down and accepted their fate.

Pitcher Kyle Kendrick started the game out by giving up back to back doubles to the Jays who took a 2-run lead in the 1st inning.  The massacre continued with Kendrick allowing 5 runs total over 6.1 innings.  Kendrick simply cannot repeat good pitches.  At one point, he had Jose Bautista down in an 0-2 count on two very sharp pitches.  But then he threw 4 straight balls and walked him.  There is no consistency and both Kendrick and the Phillies paid the price.

The only offense for the Phillies was 2 solo homers; one from Jim Thome and one from John Mayberry Jr.  Thome hit 4 homers during this road trip and Mayberry smashed 3.  Still, the rest of the team did little to help.  Of 8 hits today, 3 were Mayberry’s.  And Shane Victorino had 2 hits.  The excitement ends there.

Right now, the Phillies are a team with no answers.  They cannot hit; they cannot pitch; and with 11 errors on this 3-6 road trip, they cannot play defense either.  Yes, 11 errors in 9 games; you are not crazy, you read that right.

This has been about as much fun to watch as a 20-car pile-up on the freeway.  The Phillies have crashed and burned…repeatedly.

Monday is an off-day when, perhaps, some of these players can relax and clear their heads.  Tuesday they begin a 3-game series against the Rockies who are one of the few teams doing worse than the Phillies right now.  So that may be a small glimmer of hope…very, very small considering how things are going.  Cross your fingers…

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Kendrick photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Blanton’s Complete Game Gives Phillies Series Win

After allowing a minimum of 5 runs in each of his last 5 starts, no one expected a stand-out performance from Joe Blanton last night against the Twins.  But the oddities this Phillies season seemingly never cease.

Going the whole 9 innings, Blanton allowed only 1 run on a solo homer, 7 hits and struck out 7.  Blanton’s season has gone from great to awful and now, back to great again.  Of the 3 complete games for Phillies pitchers this year, Blanton has 2 and Kyle Kendrick, who has been terrible lately, has the other.  And this is on a staff of pitchers that includes Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.  Go figure.

Continuing to terrorize American League pitching, Jim Thome added 3 more RBI to his stats last night with yet another bomb.  The best part was watching fans dig through the flower beds in the outfield trying to recover the home run ball.  That went on for several innings until security put a stop to it for fear of someone bending over too far and falling onto the field.

The mysterious, disappearing ball was never found.  I guess those plants were really hungry.  Either that or the ball was hit so hard, it ricocheted off into space and is currently in orbit.

While the mystery ball remains at large, the Phillies are moving right along.  In fact, they are leaving the country.  It is off to Toronto for 3 games with the Blue Jays next.

Perhaps these 2 wins will be the boost they needed to get their season back on track?  Let us hope so.  Game time tonight is 7:07pm.

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Blanton 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

The Straw That May Break the Phillies’ Back

The Phillies rallied on Friday night for 9 runs and a win that broke their 6-game losing streak.  Then Saturday afternoon, they went right back to losing with a 6-4 defeat to the Orioles in 12 innings.

The combination of losing, errors, injuries and bad play may be the straw that breaks the Phillies’ collective backs.  Speaking of broken backs, Freddy Galvis has one of those…literally.  The acrobatic rookie second baseman was diagnosed with a pars fracture in his back.

This injury is an insult to an already depleted team now on their 3rd string 2nd baseman, Mike Fontenot, who committed 2 official errors in today’s loss and 1 that did not show up in the box score.  Those errors cost the Phillies a few runs and probably the game. By the way, it was Fontenot’s 32nd birthday…what a way to celebrate.

Galvis will get a second opinion, but the outlook is bleak.  A back fracture means a minimum of 6 weeks in a brace and then a very slow rehab process.  Galvis was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dim season for the Phillies.  And now, that small bit of joy is gone too.

Adding to the depressing vibe, the Phils sent lefty Raul Valdes to the minors and called up rookie B.J. Rosenberg.  Valdes was actually doing a good job, but with too many lefties in the pen, he was the odd man out.  Rosenberg had one very good inning in his big league debut but then got thrown to the wolves, forced to pitch a second inning in his very first game.  Rosenberg gave up a walk-off 2-run homer, handing the O’s the win.

The only good news today was Jim Thome getting back into the swing of things with 5 hits and a homer over the past 2 games.  And Chad Qualls pitched 2 scoreless innings, which based on his recent performance, was a small miracle.  Qualls also provided comic relief as he slipped on the mound for no apparent reason and landed flat on his backside.

But that was the end of the smiles for the day as the Phillies lost yet another winnable game.  They will try again tomorrow; game time is 1:35pm.  The still winless Cliff Lee will go for it yet again…wish him luck!

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Photo 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

 

Cain vs. Unable: A Total Waste of Lee’s Performance

The Phillies awful offense was unable to scratch out a single run for their pitcher who battled through 10 innings of work against the GiantsCliff Lee became the first pitcher to go 10 shutout innings in a losing game since Brett Saberhagen of the Mets lost to San Diego in 1994.  I am pretty sure this is not a record he was interested in setting.

But against Giant’s pitcher Matt Cain, the Phillies offense seemed uninterested in hitting.  They managed just 4 hits.  They had a shot to score in the 10th after Carlos Ruiz doubled and was sent to third with a sacrifice bunt by Freddy Galvis.   But Jim Thome struck out and John Mayberry Jr. grounded out.

Lee was finally pulled after 10 innings and Antonio Bastardo took over in the 11th.  After Bastardo coaxed what should have been a double play ball out of Brandon Belt, Ty Wiggington at 3rd fumbled and everyone was safe.  Then Melky Cabrera did what the Phillies could not all series long; take advantage of a mistake.  His single scored the only run in the game for a Giants win.

You cannot blame Wiggington for the loss, although he did not help.  But why was Placido Polanco not put in for defense this late in a game where the starting pitcher put in such an amazing effort?  And where were the bats?  Lee deserved a better effort than this.

The Phillies have now lost 2 straight series and continue to dig themselves a huge hole early in the season.  As for the National League East, the Phils are dead last.  Looks like it is going to be a long season…

 

 

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Friday the 13th Phillies Nightmare

When one of your ace pitchers gives up 3 runs in the first inning, you know it is going to be a bad day.  Add to that having the Mets in town, the 3rd anniversary of Harry Kalas’ death and the fact that it is Friday the 13th and things look pretty grimm.

Not that Cliff Lee pitched too badly.  He made a few mistakes and the Mets lowered the ax.  Making matters worse, the Phillies knuckleballing nemesis R.A. Dickey was pitching for the Mets.  Although, the Phillies did collect 11 hits; they just failed to score.

The one happy moment in the game came when rookie Freddy Galvis smashed his first major league home run.  Grinning in the dugout afterwards as the team gave him the silent treatment, Freddy did not have to wait too long for some congratulations.  Jim Thome strained to keep a straight face and was eventually the first to give Galvis a bear hug.

But after that, the nightmare continued for the Phillies.  On his 29th birthday, Hunter Pence received the gift of going 0-for-4.  And although Jimmy Rollins had 3 hits, he made a huge defensive blunder in the 9th inning, bobbling an easy double-play ball.  Rollins did not recover and both runners were safe.  That mistake led to another run for the Mets.

The Mets had their share of goofs as well.  Daniel Murphy collected a fielding error and catcher Josh Thole did something I have never seen before.  In the 2nd inning after hitting a single, Thole ran to 2nd on a Dickey sacrifice bunt.  Then unexpectedly, Thole, who was safe at 2nd, began trotting back to 1st base as if the bunt never happened!

Before Thole realized his stupidity, the Phillies tagged him out on his way back to 1st.  This will be a classic for the MLB blooper reel.  Maybe Thole was trying to make the record books with an unprecedented “reverse steal?”  Whatever the reason, he does win the award for dumbest baseball play ever.

But even that bit of entertainment cannot soften the blow of a sad 5-2 loss to the lowly Mets.  Oh well, tomorrow is another day.  Better than that, tomorrow is NOT Friday the 13th.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Phillies Offense: Here We Go Again…??

The Phillies anorexic offense has gotten off to a seriously slim start during the first two games of 2012.  After a 1-0 win in the opener against the Pirates, the Phillies again scored only one run in Game #2 through 10 innings.

The only run starter Cliff Lee allowed was on a rare wild pitch in the 6th inning.  Lee looked a little uncomfortable most of the game, however, he managed to hold his ground.

But while Lee clawed his way through the Pirates line-up, the Phillies offense was mostly absent.  Hunter Pence collected the lone RBI with a single in the first inning to score Shane Victorino.

Throughout the game though, you could not help but expect to see that “magic” moment occur to get the Phils over the hump.  Freddy Galvis is still waiting for his first major league hit; wouldn’t it be great if that happened at a key moment to put the Phillies ahead?  And Jim Thome stepped in as a pinch hitter late in the game; you thought, surely our old friend can conjure something special in his 1st official at-bat as a Phillie again.

But sadly, the magic never appeared.  And so on to extra innings they went…

Joe Blanton, who started Monday’s exhibition game, was called on in the 10th and immediately got into trouble.  He gave up a double to Phillie-killer Rod Barajas that missed going over the outfield wall by about an inch.  And just a few batters later, a single knocked in the winning run.

While it is only two games into the season, these two games are still cause for concern.  Not panic…just worrisome.  Because this is essentially a carry-over from last year where the Phillies offense regularly stunk up the ballpark.

In addition, having 3 ace pitchers will do them no good if they need those 3 guys to toss a shut-out every time.  That whole pitching staff has to thinking already, “Oh no, here we go again…”  And many fans are thinking the exact same thing right now.

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