Results tagged ‘ Jimmy Rollins ’

Phillies Playoff Hopes: Fool’s Gold or the Real Deal?

Out of the 9 Phillies Opening Day 2012 starters, 6 have landed either on the disabled list or with another team at some point during the year.  And that does not even include Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who started the year on the DL.  So basically, 8 out of 9 regular starters missed a lot of time this year.  The only one who avoided either a trade or the DL was Jimmy Rollins.

It is fitting then that a 2-run shot from J-Roll last night led the team to a 3-game sweep of the Miami MarlinsCliff Lee did his part as well, allowing just 1 run, which was unearned due to an error, over 7 innings.

The win has placed the Phillies only 3 games back in the Wild Card race, which is something not many people saw coming.  This team was beaten up so badly throughout most of the year and played so poorly that a possible playoff run, until now, seemed impossible.  Here is a look at the Wild Card standings:

But even after a 7-game win streak, is all this new playoff hope just fool’s gold or can the Phillies really sneak in the backdoor?  Consider this:  6 of those 7 games in the streak came against two of the worst teams in baseball, the Marlins and the Rockies.  Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies lost a series to the Mets, who are also pretty bad.

Then again, the momentum of a 7-game win streak could be enough to help elevate the Phillies performance and confidence to the point where they can start stomping on good teams as well.  But we are not going to know if that is possible for a while as the Houston Astros are next on the agenda.  With a record of 45-98, the Astros are by far the worst team in all of baseball.  Losing even 1 of the 4 games against the Astros would be a tragedy.

So maybe this series could be a descent barometer after all.  Because if the Phillies struggle against the Astros, I think the faint light of playoff hopes would be markedly dimmed.  But if they beat the crap out of the Astros, as they very well should, then go ahead and keep the light of hope burning.  Then we can all say, “Watch out National League!  Here come the Phillies…”

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The Chase’s Are Wild as Phillies Trump the Fish

The Wild Card chase is back on for the Phillies who have won 6 in a row.  They now sit only 4 games out of a potential playoff spot.  The other Chase, that being Chase Utley, is starting to look like the guy we all remember.  Despite a costly error in the game against the Marlins, Utley went 3-for-3 last night with 2 walks and an RBI.  He reached base in all 5 of his at-bats.

Juan Pierre also continues to produce; he also had 3 hits in the game, plus an RBI.  And Jimmy Rollins took advantage of a huge error by the Marlins catcher who dropped what appeared to be Jimmy’s 5,000th or so pop-up this year.  Ok, maybe I exaggerate…but J-Roll followed the dropped pop-up with a 2-run homer on the next pitch.  Rollins ended the night with 3 RBI on 2 hits.

But as the runs continued to pour in, Phillies pitchers continued to give them right back.  Roy Halladay did not look great again, allowing 5 runs in 6 ½ innings while walking 3 batters.  Just when it looks like Halladay is doing well again, he has a game like this.

But the bullpen was not much better.  Manager Charlie Manuel had to use 4 pitchers to get though the 7th inning as it seemed no one wanted to get the final out.  Halladay and the pen combined to allow 4 runs that inning.

In the bottom of the 7th, things got progressively weirder.  After Rollins collected his 3rd RBI of the night, the Marlins manager apparently suffered a momentary lapse of reason.  Ozzie Guillen, already considered one of the strangest men in baseball, made yet another move to solidify his crazy-man reputation.  He ordered an intentional walk of Kevin Frandsen to pitch to Utley instead.

To break it down, Guillen decided he wanted to pitch to a guy who already had 3 hits in the game instead of a guy with a stress fracture in his left leg.  Forget the left-handed, right-handed theory; a broken leg VS. 3-for-3…and broken leg won.  Wow.  Utley wound up walking as well and no damage was done, but that was a seriously weird chain of events.

The 9-7 put the Phillies back at the .500 mark for the season so far.  That is a small miracle considering how bad most of the season has gone.  Could a large miracle be in the works?  It is a long-shot, but if the Phillies keep winning, who knows?

Game 3 with the Marlins starts early today at 4:05pm.  Let’s go for the sweep!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Doubleheader, Double Wins as Phillies Sweep Rockies

After a ridiculous 3 hour rain delay on Saturday, the Phillies finally settled on a Sunday doubleheader to finish off the Rockies series.  Cole Hamels started the Day Game and allowed only 2 runs in 7 innings.

Chase Utley had his hands in a number of plays, including a hit, a walk and a very entertaining run scored:

The defense was solid, but the highlight was watching Ryan Howard hold onto the ball for an out after getting bowled over at 1st base by a Rockies player.  He also had 2 key RBI in the game.

The bullpen did not allow a run, setting up a 2-2 tie game going into the bottom of the 9th.

With the bases loaded and 1 out, John Mayberry Jr. connected for a game-winning, walk-off single.

The excitement continued in the Night Game, which turned out to be a comedy of errors for the Rockies.  They fumbled, dropped and just plain missed a lot of balls hit their way.  5 errors helped keep the Phillies alive after rookie starter Tyler Cloyd gave up 4 runs in 4 inning.

With the early exit, the Phillies wound up using 7 pitchers, none of whom allowed a run except Cloyd:

As it turns out, all the Phillies needed for the win besides pitching was Carlos Ruiz.  Fresh off the DL, Chooch got  a standing ovation when he stepped in to pinch hit.  And he promptly added to the Phillies fever with a single in the 6th that led to 2 runs and a Phillies lead.

Chooch stayed in the game to catch.  Ruiz was 2-for-2 with an RBI in his return, coming in cold off the DL, not having played a single inning in over a month.  No rehab start…nothing.  Just pure Chooch.  This guy is incredible.  Chooooooooooooooch!!!

The Phillies went on to win by a score of 7-4 to complete a 3-game sweep of the Rockies.

I have photos of both Game 1 and Game 2; just click the links.  Yes, it was a long day, but worth it!

The Marlins are up next….and a run at the postseason???  Hmmmm…..

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

9th Inning Walk-Off Gives Phillies a Win Over the Rockies

The start of Friday night’s Phillies game against the Rockies was painful to watch.  Cliff Lee did not start off very well, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits in the 1st inning.  Michael Martinez made an error at 3rd base, which extended the inning.  In all, not a great beginning.

But Lee settled down after the 1st inning snafu.  However, the Phillies offense seemed content to keep blowing opportunities.  Ty Wigginton got a rare start at 1st base, but the rust from sitting on the bench was very apparent.  He struck out in all 3 at-bats, twice when there was 1 out and a runner on 3rd base.  Worse, Juan Pierre was on base both times and managed to steal 2 base the second time around.  Still, Wigginton could not get the runs home.

Clearly not his night, manager Charlie Manuel decided to pinch hit for Wigginton in the 7th.  That move proved to be a momentum changer as Laynce Nix smashed a 2-run double to tie the score.  Then 4 bullpen guys held the lead from the 7th to the 9th inning, giving the Phillies a chance to win.

In the bottom of the 9th, Jimmy Rollins worked out a lead-off walk and Pierre, already with 3 hits on the night, put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner over.  The Rockies intentionally walked Chase Utley and Nate Schierholtz stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter.  A wild pitch moved Rollins to 3rd and Schierholtz then singled to right, scoring Rollins for the walk-off win.

This has been a tough year for Schierholtz who got traded here from the Giants mid-season, giving him hope of more playing time and a chance to prove himself.  But a broken toe sidelined him in mid-August, just as he was getting comfortable in the line-up.  Schierholtz was activated off the DL on September 1st and had not had a hit since returning until last night.  That walk-off single had to be quite a relief for him.

The Phillies have two more games with the Rockies; Cole Hamels will pitch tonight and then Tyler Cloyd on Sunday.  I will be attending both games and hope to return with some photos if the weather cooperates.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Rollins Reaches Milestone, Phillies Fall to Reds

In the 5th inning of Tuesday’s Phillies – Reds matchup, Jimmy Rollins doubled for what on any other day would have been just another hit.  But this particular hit marked the 2,000th of Rollins’ career making him only the 4th player in team history to reach the milestone.  The other 3 players were Mike Schmidt (2,234), Richie Ashburn (2,217) and Ed Delahanty (2,207).

Rollins’ wife Johari and his infant daughter were on hand to witness the event.  It was a special moment for Rollins, who will likely be considered the greatest shortstop in Phillies history by the time his career ends.  But for now, Rollins says, “It’s great, but 3,000 is better.”

Unfortunately, the moment was slightly marred by a very strange Phillies 2-1 loss in which the umpires once again played a huge role.  In the 4th inning, the Phillies had loaded the bases with one out and scored a run on a walk, much to the dismay of Reds pitcher Mat Latos.  Latos looked horribly rattled and frustrated, setting up what should have been a huge inning for the Phillies.  But just then, horrendous umpiring struck again.

Nate Schierholtz smacked what should have been an RBI-single to center; it was instead called an out even though it was clear to the naked eye, at full speed, that the ball hit the ground before entering the fielder’s glove.  A 3-year old could have made the correct call, but not MLB umpires.

The base runners all froze in the confusion and the hit turned into an inning-ending double play instead.  The “catch” was one out and the runner caught off 2nd base was the other.  Not only did this gigantic blunder cost the Phillies that one run, it probably cost them the game.  Because Latos was clearly falling apart and that RBI-single probably would have sent him off the deep end, translating into a big inning for the Phillies.

But that did not even have a chance to play out, thanks to the morons umpiring the game.  The Phillies did have other chances to score and failed, but this screw-up really killed their momentum.  Those idiots still get their paychecks and go on with their lives as MLB never holds any umpire accountable for blown calls.  You know, the usual crap we all have to watch and live with.  It is shameful.

The Phillies have one more shot at the Reds early this afternoon.  Game time is 12:35pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Youth Tops Reds

The Phillies topped the Reds on Monday afternoon by a score of 4-2 using a combination of rookies and just a dash of experience.  In his second major league start, Tyler Cloyd walked away with the victory.  Catcher Steven Lerud collected his first major league win behind the plate in his second appearance.  And Phillippe Aumont, in his 4th major league game, got his first major league save.

The three youngsters received support from another rookie making his first game appearance in 2012, Justin De Fratus.  De Fratus was expected to make the team out of spring training, but instead spent most of the year on the disabled list with a strained right flexor pronator tendon.  In Monday’s win, De Fratus pitched a scoreless 8th inning.

The other main contributor in the game had a little more experience.  Jimmy Rollins smashed a 3-run homer in the 5th inning, providing the rookies with much of the offense.  John Mayberry Jr. added the fourth run with a solo shot in the 6th.

This turn of events left me wondering…how do the Reds feel about basically being beaten by a minor league team?  Rollins helped, so I added him into “Our Gang” here as well (L-R Cloyd, Rollins, Lerud, Aumont):

If you don’t remember the above referenced TV show, clearly you are younger than I am so, congratulations on that ;o)

Besides watching the Phillies win with a bunch of rookies, the best part of this game was Cloyd’s grandmother, who was shown on camera numerous times, hands in the air, doing her grandma happy dance.  It was off-the-charts adorable.  You go, grandma!

Game 2 with the Reds starts at 7:10pm tonight.  Kyle Kendrick will be looking for his 5th consecutive win.

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Aumont, Lerud & Rollins head shots by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Case for Kevin Frandsen

In a 3-2 win over the Mets on Thursday, the Phillies’ newest 3rd baseman Kevin Frandsen went 4-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored.  In 107 at-bats this season, he is hitting a very hot .355.  His defense has been solid and rumor has it that he is great in the clubhouse as well.  So, what is the problem?

News reports, staff interviews and sports talk shows all say the same thing:  Frandsen is old, he is not an everyday player and this run he is on is just a fluke.  Frankly, I don’t get it.  Why are all these people so down on Fransden?  I say, give a guy a chance.

First, let us examine this claim that Frandsen is “old.”  He just turned 30 in May.  30 is not old, not even in baseball years.  The only other Phillies infielder younger than Frandsen is Michael Martinez, who will be 30 in 2 weeks.  Everyone else, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, all have at least 2 years or more on Fransden.  In fact, the average age of the entire team, including all the rookies, is 30.

Conclusion: Frandsen may be middle-aged, but he is not old.

And what about this notion of Frandsen not being an “everyday player?”  Frandsen had exactly 1 year, out of the last 7 seasons, during which he almost played everyday.  In 2007 with the Giants he hit .269 in 109 games with 31 RBI.  He then missed all of 2008 with a ruptured Achillies.  Since then, he has not been given another shot at being an everyday guy, except in the minors, where he hit for an average of .292 from 2009-2011 combined.

Frandsen is finally playing everyday and it is paying off.  He is the hottest hitter on the team right now.  So my conclusion on this topic then is, keep watching.  If he keeps this pace up through September, there should be no question that Frandsen can be an everyday player.

As to the charge that this is just a fluke, Frandsen has over 100 at-bats now.  That is obviously not a huge amount, but it is enough to make an initial judgment and .355 is not too shabby.  My conclusion here is the same as before: if he keeps going strong over the next several weeks, I don’t see at all how this is a fluke.  It seems to me that he is finally getting a shot and taking full advantage of it.

All these people need to quit hating on Frandsen and give the guy a chance!  He just might be an option at 3rd base next year.  He would certainly save some salary for the team.  Also, you can be fairly certain that, unlike Rollins and his recent episode, he is going to hustle every time out.

So what do you think?  Feel free to leave comments below.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Sweep the Nationals!

It was apparent today that Cliff Lee was determined to win a game at home, something he has not done all year long.  And for most of the 1st 5 innings, it was all Lee, all the time.  He pitched, he hit and he played defense.

The first score of the game came off the bat of Lee who doubled in a run in the 5th inning.  The rest of the team got on board fast, with a 2-run homer from Jimmy RollinsLaynce Nix added a solo homer in the 6th and Lee held the Nats to 1 run in 7 innings for the 4-1 win and a 3-game sweep!

The day before, Roy Halladay continued his journey to being Roy Halladay once again.  He went 7 innings allowing only 2 runs on 7 hits and a walk.

Halladay got our old buddy Jayson Werth to strike out twice and coaxed 2 grounds out from rookie star Bryce Harper.  Both were all smiles before the game, but not after.

The big bopper of the night was John Mayberry Jr. who had two hits, including a line-drive homer to left, and picked up 3 RBI in the game.  Chase Utley drove the other run in and Rollins set the table with 2 walks off another old Phillie, Gio GonzalezKevin Fransden also had a hit and did a lot of cheering for his teammates.

Then in the 8th, the old Antonio Bastardo came back for a visit.  Where has this guy been all year?  He struck out the side, handing a fairly easy save to Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th.

Some other awesome sights at the ballpark on Saturday were creatures from the Philly Zoo and a grinning Domonic Brown, despite having a sore knee:

Despite the sweep, the Phillies are still 9.5 games back in the Wild Card race, so don’t get your hopes up too much.  It is not impossible, however, they’d pretty much have to win every game from here to the end.  But the news is good for next year as the bullpen is improving and starters are getting healthier.

And of course, they just swept the dreaded Nationals.  I cannot think of a better reason to be happy right now.  Here is the full Photo Album from Saturday’s game.

The Phillies have a day off on Monday and the Mets come to town on Tuesday.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Puzzling Predicament of the Phillies 8th Inning

Why no one on the Phillies staff can seem to pitch well in the 8th inning is an on-going and unsolved mystery.   And in last night’s appalling 9-2 loss to the Marlins, this baffling problem was magnified once again.

No one pitched particularly well yesterday, not even Roy Halladay.  He was not bad, obviously, but while 3 runs in 7 innings is great for most guys, it is slightly sub-par for a guy of Halladay’s pedigree.  Still, the offense gave him no support except for 2 RBI from Ty Wigginton, one of which was a solo homer.

But as soon as the Phillies approached that irritating 8th inning, all heck broke loose.  B.J. Rosenburg walked the first batter and then allowed 2 straight singles.  He has been terrible and his 12.79 ERA is screaming, “Send me back to the minors!”  Raul Valdes got an out and then intentionally walked a guy as he was told to before being pulled.  That walk eventually counted against his, which really is not right.  He did his job.

And then the real fun began when Michael Schwimer took over and balls started flying all over the ballpark.  By the time it was finally over, the Marlins had scored 6 runs in one inning.

So what is the deal with the 8th inning and this team?  Look at the chart to the right; the Phillies have a 5.38 ERA in the dreaded 8th inning.  By far, this is where the poorest pitching occurs.  The only thing worse is when they go into extra innings.

This is a clear indication that the Phillies bullpen needs a complete overhaul, but we already knew that.  The frustrating part is that it does not seem to matter who they put in there in the 8th.  It is some weird curse now; pitch in the 8th, get knocked around, end of story.

And while this issue is on-going, something even worse happened in this game.  Jimmy Rollins was clearly not interested in playing last night, and I am apparently not the only one who noticed.  His lack of hustle was blatant and obvious in several situations.  A fan who called him out on Twitter asking him to run out the play because, “youngsters are watching you.”  Rollins responded with, “well u make sure u tell them what to do.”  Oh my.

Clearly, this Phillies season has been fun for no one.  But as fans, we still expect a level of professionalism and effort regardless of the standings.  No one wants to pay to see a bunch of guys making millions of dollars taking their good fortune for granted.  And this is not the 1st time we have seen this attitude from Rollins, which only magnifies the situation.

This is indeed a sad state of affairs all around.  It is really unfortunate as well that these problems have now overshadowed the fact that the Phillies have won 2 series in a row, despite yesterday’s ugly loss.

The Brewers are up next: Game time tonight is 8:10pm.

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Record-Setting Night Highlighted by Solid Pitching

There was an awful lot going on in last night’s 1-0 Phillies win over the Marlins.  And it all began with just the second pitch of the game which Jimmy Rollins sent screaming over the right field wall for the 41st lead-off homer of his career.

That turned out to be the only run of the game, which was also a record-setting game for Rollins.  He picked up his 1,731st game at shortstop, making him the leader in games played at that position for the Phillies.  J-Roll passed friend and former manager Larry Bowa to snag the record.

It was also a record setting night for manager Charlie Manuel.  With the victory, he notched his 700th win as the Phillies skipper.  And that win was punctuated by the decision he made to give Kyle Kendrick one more shot at a starting role.  Everyone, including Manuel, has been frustrated by the way Kendrick has pitched lately, so this moved seemed chancy.

The gamble paid off though.  Manuel had a heart-to-heart with Kendrick before the game that seems to have motivated him.  We all know Kendrick can pitch; the problem is he is never consistent.  One day he is great, the next start, he is awful.  But as is Manuel’s style, he sticks with his players.

Kendrick rewarded Manuel’s loyalty with 7 strong, scoreless innings against the Fish.  He gave up only 5 hits and did not walk anyone.  The real question now is, can he repeat this in his next start.  We shall see…

So the Phillies went on to win with only the Rollins solo homer supporting them.  This win ensures another series victory for the Phils who are slowly rounding back into non-last place form.

They could sweep the series with another win today in Miami.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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