Results tagged ‘ Jimmy Rollins ’

A New Staff Ace for the Phillies?

Is Jerome Williams for real?  After 3 starts with his third team of the year, Williams has 2 wins for the Phillies and a 1.77 ERA.  He has out-pitched everyone on the Phils starting staff, including Cole Hamels.  And on top of that, he even laid down a perfect safety squeeze in the 2nd inning, collecting only the 2nd RBI of his major league career.  Williams has officially resurrected his previously dead career.  And the Phillies went on to beat the Cardinals by a score of 7-4, taking 2 outs of 3 games in the series.
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Another bright spot in this otherwise miserable season has been Ben Revere.  All the Revere haters have now been silenced.  Despite his weak arm, Revere worked hard and has improved his defense and is also now batting .314.  He is in a 1st place tie for the best average in the National League with Justin Morneau.  Although he can be frustrating at times, I had faith in Revere because he is a positive guy who always hustles and gives his best effort.  The same cannot be said all of the Phillies outfielders.  Keep it up, Ben!  I am rooting for you!
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Speaking of the outfield, can anyone tell me WHY Domonic Brown is still starting?  Have we not yet seen enough?  Whether he feels he is or not, Brown appears lazy and distracted in left field.  His batting average is down to .226.  It is time to give someone else a shot…it has been time for a while now.   You have to wonder who is really calling the shots with the line-up; Ryne Sandberg or Ruben Amaro Jr.?  If it is Sandberg, I have to seriously question his judgment.  If it is Amaro, then Sandberg needs to stand up and explain to his GM that this is HIS team to run.  Because this is getting very old.

Aside from that annoyance, the Phillies offense finally put some runs on the board, which was a nice change for a Sunday afternoon.  Everyone except Ryan Howard had a hit and Jimmy Rollins smacked a 2-run homer.
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The Phillies start a 3-game series with the Nationals Monday night.  Maybe they can spoil the Nats 1st place fun?  In the meantime, here is the Photo Album from today’s win.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Braves Get Revenge with 4-Game Sweep of Phillies

Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies swept the Braves in a 3-game series in Atlanta.  This weekend, the Braves returned the favor and 1-up’d the Phillies with a 4-game sweep.  Ugh.  So for anyone holding out hope that the Phillies 5 game win streak on the road was a sign of life, you can wipe that thought from your mind.  No surprise…this team still sucks.

Rookie pitcher David Buchanan had an ok game, with 5 walks issued and 3 runs over 5 innings.  He has serious control issues.  A work in progress, I suppose…

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The entire game on Sunday was an exercise in futility.  The Phillies left 10 men on base and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.  There were many swings and misses and possibly the worst bunt ever in the history of baseball laid down by 4th string catcher, Koyie Hill.
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The real telling moment came in the 7th after Jimmy Rollins singled and Chase Utley singled for his 1,500th career hit (yeah!).  Ryan Howard stepped to the plate…weren’t we all thinking, here is the BIG 3!  Rollins, Utley and Howard…the former dream team.  If they cannot get it done, this team is doomed.  Howard then proceeded to hit into an inning ending double play.  And that, my Phillies friends, is this team in a nutshell.  They are toast.
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The defense was awful again, too.  Domonic Brown and Ben Revere both misplayed balls in the outfield, something that has become a regular and expected occurrence.  Justin DeFratus and Rollins both had errors in the game as well.
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The only bright spot was Marlon Byrd.  He hit 2 home runs, which were the Phillies only 2 runs of the game.  But really, all that means is his trade value just went way up.
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It is a bit depressing to be a Phillies fan right now, as stated by the semi-polite Braves fan sitting next to me.  All of the sun-baked babies in the stands concurred with their heat-exhausted whimpers as well.  Seriously…there were 3 babies in my section all under 6 months old literally baking in the sun as their moron parents paid no mind.  One kid had on nothing but a diaper…because apparently, sunscreen is invincible and protects against heat stroke too…magic!  Sorry I ran off on a tangent there…but please people, leave your infants at home in 88 degree temperatures!  That makes me insane…had to vent.

Anyway, here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The team is off on Monday and will go to Miami for a 3-game series starting on Tuesday night.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Jimmy Rollins: Phillies All-Time Hits Leader with 2,235

Congratulations to Jimmy Rollins who broke Mike Schmidt’s record to become the Phillies hits leader with 2,235 hits.  It is a well-deserved honor.  In celebration, here are some of my favorite J-Roll photos / moments from the last decade.  The top photo is a poster I made in 2007 that Jimmy signed for me.  And for those who regularly follow my blog, you know that J-Roll Smurf is the official blog mascot so he appears here as well.  When Jimmy met his mini-me, he told me that “back in the day” people called him “Papa Smurf.”  Just a fun fact for you.

Congrats, Jimmy!  Here’s to many more hits to come…

Jroll hits leader

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Offense Comes Alive Against the Reds

After a very long dry spell where the Phillies were shut-out in 4 out of 10 games, the Phillies offense finally woke up this weekend against the Reds.  On Saturday, they pounded the Reds by a score of 12-1 and Cole Hamels finally got win #100 of his career.  Then on Sunday, it was an 8-3 win that sent fans home happy.

Cliff Lee had an interesting outing, ultimately pitching 6.2 innings and allowing 2 runs.  After he walked the first batter of the game and gave up 2 runs in the 1st inning, it was obvious we were in for a battle.
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But immediately, the Phillies got those 2 runs back.  Jimmy Rollins and Will Nieves went deep with back-to-back homers to start the game in the Phillies half of the 1st.
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The game remained tied until the 5th inning when Lee took matters into his own hands offensively, leading off the inning with a single. Rollins moved him over the second after Todd Frazier bobbled the ball at third and failed to throw Lee out.  Then Nieves dropped a sac bunt to move them over and Chase Utley knocked in Lee with a ground out to first.
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And the hits kept coming.  Marlon Byrd hit a solo homer in the 6th and then Cody Asche smacked a 3-run homer in the 8th to give the Phillies ample breathing room with an 8-2 lead.  Byrd, Asche and Nieves each had 2 hits in the game and Rollins and Ryan Howard each walked twice.  It was a full team effort at the plate.
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It was also the Phanatic’s annual birthday bash on Sunday, which added to the festive vibe with the powered-up offense, 4 home runs and 2 wins in a row!  Add a bunch of silly mascots, the Zooperstars and some dude who paints with his hands, and it was a real party.
Phanatic Bday

The Phillies are off tomorrow for the Phillies Phestival.  After that, they travel to Miami for a short 3-game series and then back home again.

In the meantime, here is the full Photo Album from the game and birthday celebration.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Phillies Take 2 of 3 From the Nats

The Phillies just barely squeaked out a 1-0 win over the Nationals today thanks mostly to great pitching.  Cole Hamels was scheduled to start but was unable to go as he has the flu.  So Roberto Hernandez, who had not gotten out of the 6th inning yet this season, filled it.

Hernandez was outstanding, going 7 1/3 innings without allowing a run to score.  When he first started to pitch, it looked like he would not be able to throw a strike as he walked 2 batters in the first inning.  But he settled down and wound up with 3 walks and only 4 hits allowed.
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The lone Phillies run of the game came in the first inning.  After a Jimmy Rollins triple, Chase Utley singled to score Rollins.  Utley had a very strange day.  After that RBI, he sprinted around the bases on a Marlon Byrd pop fly and got doubled up.  Maybe he forgot there was only 1 out?  And then later he committed an error in the field when he totally missed the feed from Jayson Nix at third on what may have been a double play.

But those blunders did not come back to haunt the Phillies luckily.  And that is a very good thing especially considering the Phillies only managed 4 hits in the game, including a Ben Revere triple.  They also had some very nice plays in the field, which helped.
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The weather was very interesting as well.  It was cold, very windy and bits and pieces of wrappers, bags and dust were floating around everywhere.  Some of the shadows in the field were brutal by the time the relievers came in too.
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My eyes were so dry, at one point, I thought maybe I was seeing things.  See the first photo below to the left…there are 3 guys there, right.  Nope…check out the 2nd photo on the right.  I guess Nix is just so small he blended right in.
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Check out the full Photo Album from the game for more interesting stuff.  There are very nice photos of Domonic Brown with his mother and VERY pregnant girlfriend pre-game during the Mother’s Day celebration.  I also took some photos of our old friend, Kevin Frandsen.  Miss him….sigh!

So a weird 2-game home and away series stars tomorrow with the Blue Jays; 2 games here and 2 in Toronto.  Game time Monday is 7:05pm and Kyle Kendrick will pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Lee & Burnett Leading the Way

The Phillies have taken the first 2 games in their series against the Dodgers in large part due to great starting pitching.  Both Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett have set an example for all Phillies pitchers and given them something to aspire to.  It has been a real treat to watch.

On Monday night, Lee went 8 innings, allowing no runs, 4 hits and striking out 10 baffled Dodgers batters.  Since his awful Opening Day start, Lee has been nearly unhittable.  And the intangibles he brings to the team are priceless.

This is a guy who never gets rattled.  His drama-free attitude and generosity towards fans has endeared him to all who observe how he goes about his business.  If you do not love Cliff Lee, go to the doctor and make sure your heart is still beating.
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And then there is one of the newest Phillies, A. J. Burnett.  Tuesday night he pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing only 2 runs on 6 hits and a walk.  He also had 3 hits in the game!  The week before that, he pitched 7 scoreless inning against the Braves.  And he did all of this while nursing a painful inguinal hernia.

The fact that Burnett is willing to play through the pain is admirable.  And as long as he keeps pitching well, I have no problem with this.  But he is not just tough, he is also quite the jokester, as witnessed after his first hit last night.  After Yasiel Puig attempted to throw him out at first all the way from right field, Burnett turned and motioned with his hands to Puig to settle down.  There is a great GIF of this on Philly.com.  You gotta love a man with a sense of humor.

The Phillies other ace pitcher, Cole Hamels, is set to come off the DL and pitch tonight.  Could the Phillies actually have 3 studs in a row once again?  And, although I hate to say this too loudly, this team appears to be mostly healthy…gasp!  Shhhhh!  Don’t tell the universe…too dangerous.

Have you also noticed the improvement on offense?  The big 3 there, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, are all hitting well.  And Ben Revere is heating up again, like he did last year before getting hurt.  The one thorn left in the Phillies side is the bullpen, which did actually hold up the last few games.  Keep your fingers crossed for that trend to continue.

If Lee, Burnett and Hamels can pitch like they are capable of, the bullpen will certainly benefit.  It starts with the starters.  Hamels gets his first shot in 2014 tonight at 10:10pm.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Rocky Mountain High and a Bunch of Lows

The Phillies just barely escaped Colorado last night with a win to avoid the 3-game sweep against the Rockies.  The first two games of the series were utterly pathetic as the Phils went down by scores of 1-2 and 1-3, respectively.  The Sunday night 10-9 win was a welcome sigh of relief.

The Phillies offense had been so bad going into this game, they officially recorded 131 at-bats in a row without an extra-base hit.  In baseball terms, that is an eternity.  And it was the worst mark for the franchise since 1968.

Not quite as awful as that, but still very bad, the Phils pitchers blew the lead in last night’s game 3 times.  And Roberto Hernandez still has yet to pitch a full 6 innings.  He was pulled from the game after only 75 pitches.  This is not promising.

Howard MountainsBut the better news is that Ryan Howard may have found his pre-ankle injury swing again.  He sort of, but not officially, hit for the cycle.  The last hit was not scored a double as many contend it should have been; it was marked as a single with a 1-base error.  The Phillies will appeal the call to MLB to see if they can get that double for Howard.  Honestly, I’d have loved it to be a cycle.  But I do not see MLB overturning the call…the outfielder should have gotten that ball.

Everyone else hit as well.  Jimmy Rollins had 3 hits and both Ben Revere and Marlon Byrd had 2 hits each.  Even more amazing, no one committed an error in the field.  Yippie!

Speaking of offense, remember way back on Opening Day when Cody Asche had 3 hits?  And the next day manager Ryne Sandberg sat him?  And then remember when I said what a bad idea that was, sending Asche the wrong message, killing his momentum, etc…?  Yeah well, guess who has had only 6 hits in his last 42 at-bats (the entire month of April)?  Yup, Cody Asche.  And he’s had only 2 hits in the very last 23 at-bats.  That is a .087 batting average.  Yikes.

Asche has been losing playing time as a result.  Obviously, that Game 2 benching may or may be contributing to the massive slump, but it is still an interesting observation.  The question now is, can he bounce back?  I have not yet heard if he will be in the line-up tonight against the Dodgers, but this is one story line you may want to keep an eye on.

Game time is 10:10pm EST.  Yuck…West Coast swings make me sleepy.  Hopefully, the Phillies offense will keep me awake!

 

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Howard Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Field of Nightmares

These are the things that dreams nightmares are made of.  This Phillies – Brewers series has thus far been a horror show of epic proportions.  I awoke at 3am yelling, “How do you miss a routine ground ball?”  I thought, whew, just a bad dream.  And then I remembered, it wasn’t just a dream.

This does beg the question, how does a veteran major league player miss a routine ground ball?  Sure, no one is perfect, stuff happens, etc…  But this “stuff” is happening at an alarming rate.  The Phillies have 5 errors in 2 games and that doesn’t include the many, many other mistakes made that do not have a place to be recorded in the box score.
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For instance, a pitcher gets ahead of batter with a 0-2 count.  He then proceeds to walk the guy.  How does that happen?  Just ask Antonio Bastardo.  Even the Boogeyman, who spends weeks or months hiding under beds, has had better days.

Just as scary, both Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, two of the more veteran guys and biggest salaries on the team, both booted bouncing ground balls yesterday.  But how often does a ground ball take a weird hop?  Answer: All the time!  A major league player should be able to handle this.

As I write this, I realize it is very early in the season and all that.  Still, even this small handful of games is telling of a larger issue.  Even manager Ryne Sandberg admits, “We talk about some of the plays being routine, but we haven’t been making too many of the routine plays lately.”  So, why is that?

Sandberg preaches fundamentals and fielding practice.  All of that is nice, but a guy who has been a professional baseball player for many years knows fundamentals.  The issue is focus and execution.  Why have these veteran players lost their focus, which then leads to a lack of execution?  Are their pockets so heavy now that they lack incentive to concentrate?  I think that is a fair question.

There are exceptions, of course.  When Ben Revere smashed his face into the wall on Tuesday and dropped a fly ball, he did not show a lack of effort.  He looked towards the fence for a second and lost the ball.  I never see a lack of effort from Revere, as was witnessed during two diving attempts in Wednesday’s game, one of which was a spectacular, highlight reel catch.  He dropped the second one, but clearly put forth maximum effort and focus.

This doesn’t mean other guys aren’t trying.  They just do not try as hard and are not as invested in each individual play.  In short, they are a bit too laid back.  This is a big problem.

Think about your own job.  There are days you give full effort and other days where you do not feel like doing much.  If you work in an office, this probably doesn’t hurt anyone.  But if you have a job where other people depend on you, this is a recipe for disaster.  If I am a surgeon performing my fourth surgery of the day and I feel a bit tired and do just enough to get by with patient #4, bad things can happen.

Baseball is not brain surgery, obviously.  But one person’s actions can affect their teammates and the outcome of the game.  If someone wants to pay me millions of dollars to file papers in an office, you can be assured I am going to be the best, most organized filing machine that ever lived.  And it won’t even matter if anyone else is affected.  I would be singularly motivated by just the fact that someone was willing to pay me top dollar for my services.  I worry that not everyone on this Phillies team feels the same way.  And no amount of practice is going to cure that problem.

 

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Opening Day Slug Fest

The Phillies first game of the regular season began with a bang to the tune of 14 runs on 17 hits including 3 homers, one of which was a Grand Slam.  It was a record-setting day on many levels.

First, Phillies ace Cliff Lee allowed 8 earned runs and still got the win.  That is only the 8th time in MLB history that a pitcher gave up 8 runs in at least 5 innings and still won.  It is also only the 3rd time in history that happened on Opening Day.

Then in his first Opening Day start, Cody Asche ended the game just a triple short of the cycle.  With his parents looking on, Asche had a career day with 3 hits, 2 RBI including a solo homer, a walk and 4 runs scored.

But the biggest day record-wise was had by Jimmy Rollins who belted a Grand Slam in the 2nd inning, marking his 200th career homer.  That home run made him only the 19th player in baseball history to have 400 or more doubles, 100 or more triples and 200 or more home runs in a career.  He also tied a record with Cal Ripken Jr. for 14 consecutive Opening Day starts at shortstop with the same team.

Rollins may have had some extra inspiration yesterday as he is on baby-watch.  His wife Johari is expecting their second child any minute now.  Rollins stayed an extra day in Philly in case she went into labor and then joined the team in Texas on Sunday night, one day after the team arrived.

Records aside, many Phillies had big days in this game.  Both Chase Utley and Ben Revere had 3 hits, Marlon Byrd went 2-for-6 with a solo homer and Ryan Howard had 2 hits and a walk.  Maybe the biggest hit of the day, besides the grand slam, was a pinch hit 2-run double in the 5th inning by John Mayberry Jr.  In his first big move of the season, manager Ryne Sandberg had a gut feeling to switch Junior’s; Mayberry Jr. in place of Tony Gwynn Jr.  That double broke a 7-7 tie and propelled the Phillies to the win with some much needed momentum.

While I do not think the Phillies are going to score 14 runs again soon, this was an uplifting start the season.  Enjoy it!  Tonight, A.J. Burnett will make his Phillies debut; game time is 8:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

More J-Roll Drama at Phillies Camp

I am sure most of us have heard about the Jimmy Rollins – Ryne Sandberg drama at Spring Training this week. To recap very quickly, J-Roll was being J-Roll and let fly a “Who cares?” when asked about the team’s offense. And then Sandberg let fly a telling, “No comment” when asked about Jimmy bringing positive energy to the club. Rollins was benched for 3 straight days (Mon.-Wed.) without having spoken to Sandberg until Thursday.

Before I offer my thoughts on the situation, I will tell you a little story from Spring Training 2009. I make it a habit to arrive to all games, even Spring Training games, many hours early. That is when some of the most entertaining and interesting things happen. Before one 2009 spring game in Bradenton, FL against the Pirates, I witnessed some real J-Roll being J-Roll behavior.

As the team was stretching on the field, manager Charlie Manual was pacing about, looking annoyed. And one player was noticeably absent from the field: Jimmy Rollins. About 20 minutes into this, Rollins suddenly appeared jogging across the field. When the team noticed him, everyone, mid-stretch, stopped what they were doing and began clapping and cheering for Rollins as he approached. It was group sarcasm, although in good fun, to congratulate Rollins for finally showing up.

As I was right up against the fence where they were stretching, I saw and hear nearly everything that happened next. Manual sauntered over to Rollins with his irritated, head-tilted, almost twitchy swagger that we have seen many time over the years. Usually you saw this when Manual was about to confront an umpire.

As Manual berated Rollins, wagging finger and all, Rollins slouched over like a 5 year old getting yelled at for stealing a cookie. He even pouted. Rollins then made various hand gestures to explain how he got stuck in traffic and then got turned around, etc… A lot veteran players these days don’t like taking the team bus to spring away games, so it was not too unusual that Rollins drove himself. Still, everyone else was on-time.

022509a1Ryan Howard then wandered over and put his arm around Rollins to comfort him, again, like a 5 year old whimpering after being punished. Manual just kept talking. It was very clear that this was not the first time Rollins broke the rules. And as we all know, it would not be the last.

But under Manual, Rollins got used to being “scolded” and then simply going about his business after some comforting words from a few teammates. This has been a decade-long pattern. So does it really surprise anyone that in this most recent incident Sandberg decided to give Rollins the silent treatment? When you were a kid, what was worse? Getting yelled at or being ignored and having to wonder what you did wrong? The silent treatment doesn’t work on everyone; however, I am sure Sandberg felt like at the very least, he needed to try something different than what Manual had done.

I have heard a lot of criticism of Sandberg the last few days for not speaking to Rollins right away. Personally, I think giving Rollins days to stew over what was going on may have an effect going forward. Although Rollins did nearly hang himself in the media afterwards with comments like, “Well, everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. It doesn’t make it right, but he’s the manager so he gets to have the last say.” I am sure that did not endear him to Sandberg at all. But as the new manager, Sandberg is going to have to think outside the box when dealing with player issues, especially with those players who have become used to a very different style of management.

How will J-Roll react now that he and Sandberg have put the issue to rest? Time will tell.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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