Results tagged ‘ Joe Blanton ’

Career Day for Wigginton Leads to Phillies Win

After a rough day on Sunday with a loss to the Cardinals and Roy Halladay pulled early due to shoulder soreness, the Phillies needed a serious lift.  Seeing Carlos Ruiz scratched from today’s line-up with a sore hamstring was also not the good news this team was looking for.

But with Cole Hamels on the mound, you had to think the Phillies had a shot against the Mets.  Hamels delivered again with 4 runs allowed in 8 innings.  Technically Hamels’ worst outing of the season, this would have been a great day for most other pitchers.

Still, 4 runs has been no small challenge for this Phillies team and their up and down offense.  But one guy came through in the clutch; Ty Wigginton.  With a career high 6 RBI in the game, including a 3-run homer and a double, Wigginton put the team on his back and carried them to a victory.  Wiggy was also walked twice and went 3-for-3 overall, putting him on base in all 5 at-bats.

John Mayberry Jr. also had a multi-hit day with a single and a 2-run homer.  Wiggy and Mayberry combined for all 8 of the Phillies runs in the 8-4 win.

Going forward, the starting rotation still has some question marks.  Halladay will be examined when the team returns to Philly later this week.  And Vance Worley, although still on the DL, appears to be making progress.

Joe Blanton is another question mark as he has allowed 13 runs in his last 2 starts.  If he can bounce back Tuesday night against the Mets, that would be a big relief for everyone concerned about the starting pitching right now.  Game time is 7:10pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

A Wild One in St. Louis

This 4-game series in St. Louis looks like it is going to be a real adventure, especially after last night’s wild 10-9 Phillies victory over the Cardinals.  There was a lot of action in this one.

The Phillies got off to a hot start, scoring 6 runs in the first two innings, something they have been unable to do most of the year so far.  But the 6-0 lead was on shaky ground fast as pitcher Joe Blanton self-destructed for his second start in a row.

Blanton allowed hit after hit until the game was tied, 7-7 by the 5th inning.  Once again, manager Charlie Manuel left Blanton in too long and waited until he allowed the final 3 of those 7 runs that inning to pull him.  In his last 2 starts, Blanton has allowed 19 hits and 13 runs.  Ouch.  I guess it was too much to hope his hot streak would last very long :O(

The game ping-ponged back and forth after that, with the Phillies offense continuing to battle back.  Carlos Ruiz is still on fire and had 3 hits in the game.  Four players, including Ruiz, had 3-hit nights.  Both Shane Victorino and Freddy Galvis added 3 RBI each and even Mike Fontenot collected a pinch-hit RBI in a key situation.

And although the bullpen had some issues again, it was just that kind of night.  Both teams were hitting and the end result was going to depend on who pushed harder.  Ty Wigginton added the 10th run in the 8th inning with a solo homer, which turned out to be the game winner for the Phillies.

Game 2 starts tonight at 8:15pm.  Cliff Lee will pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Blanton Bombs Against Red Sox

Now that Phillies fans have all gotten used to seeing Joe Blanton in top form, I suppose he was due to throw a clunker.  Blanton had only given up 2 home runs all year, but last night, he gave up 4 in just one game against the Red Sox.

By the middle of the 4th inning, the score was 5-1 and Blanton had also already made two huge fielding errors in the game.  Clearly, this was not his night.  So when Pete Orr was on deck in the bottom of the 4th to hit for Blanton, I thought, great idea!  Let’s get some more runs and let the pen have a shot at shutting down the Sox.

Imagine my dismay when, after Freddy Galvis smacked a 2-run homer, Orr was called back to the dugout and Blanton went out to hit!  Really?  Those 2 runs meant Blanton would suddenly snap out of his funk?  I think not…

And sadly, I was correct.  I get that manager Charlie Manuel did want to rely on what has been an unreliable bullpen.  But if there was ever a time to give them a shot to redeem themselves, this was it.  Blanton looked awful out there and the insanity continued in the 5th inning.

Only after allowing 3 more hits, including a 2-run homer, was Blanton finally pulled from the game, having recorded only 1 out in the inning.  Buried in a 7-4 hole, the bullpen did actually get the job done after that, not allowing another run to score.  But by that time, the damage was done and the Phillies scored only one more run.

The offense had changes, but luck did not go their way.  Carlos Ruiz, the teams hottest hitter, was robbed of what should have been a 2-run double in the 7th by Ryan Sweeney, who suddenly grew wings, flew through the air and snagged Ruiz’s hit out of the air.  It was an amazing play.

In the 9th, Ruiz was robbed again as he smoked a ball…unfortunately, it went right to the shortstop and was caught.  The ball was hit so hard that Hunter Pence had no chance to get back to first and was doubled up.  Bad luck, indeed…

Later, Shane Victorino popped out on the first pitch he saw with the bases loaded in the 8th.  And that was the end of the threat as the Phillies went on to lose by a score of 7-5.

There were some bright spots, like Galvis’ homer, making it 2 games in a row with a bomb.  And John Mayberry Jr. reached base all 5 times he stepped to the plate for the first time in his career.  Hector Luna also had a great night with 3 hits and an RBI.

But mostly, the good news is that the Phillies never gave up, even when it looked like the game was out of reach.  This is something that we have all been waiting for this season…a little extra fight even when they are down.

They have another shot at the Sox today.  If they win, the Phils will take the series.  Cliff Lee is pitching and I will return with photos!  Game time is 1:35pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Polanco’s 2000th Hit Helps Phillies Win

The Phillies Monday night 5-1 win over the Astros was full of hopeful signs.  A little at a time, things are getting better for this team, which is currently still in last place in the NL East.

Starting pitcher Joe Blanton had another great outing, making us all wonder where this guy has been all these years.  He has transformed from Average Joe to “I have an ERA under 3.00” Joe.  Over 7 innings, Blanton allowed only 1 run on 6 hits and a walk.

Things got shaky in the top of the 8th when he allowed that one run via a solo homer and then gave up a single.  Manager Charlie Manuel, not wanting to ruin and otherwise great start, pulled Blanton and let the pen take over.  Blanton was visibly surprised at the move, but ultimately, it was for the best.              

In the meantime, the Phillies offense showed signs of life.  Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry Jr. remain hot at the plate, each collecting 2 hits on the night.  Rookie Freddy Galvis is finally catching on and had 3 hits plus 2 RBI.

But the best moment of the night came in the bottom of the 8th when Placido Polanco added his 2000th career hit in grand fashion.  The 2-run homer was probably the best situation he could have imagined for this milestone.  Congrats to Polly on this historic accomplishment!

And perhaps the back end of the Phillies bullpen is also getting into the swing of things.  Antonio Bastardo, Chad Qualls and Jonathan Papelbon combined to close out the 8th and 9th innings and secure the win.  Bastardo even provided his team with some comic relief as he hopped off the mound with enthusiasm thinking the inning was over when there were actually only 2 outs.  Bastardo grinned as his teammates poked fun at him while he sauntered back to the mound.

It is nice to see this team finally having some fun out there.  Winning certainly helps, but if they can keep their spirits up as well, that may go a long way towards digging their season out of the basement.

Game 2 with the Astros starts early today at 1:05pm.

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Dead Last

I am not sure which word in my article title is more disturbing; “dead” or “last.”  If you haven’t looked at the NL East standings lately, take a moment to prepare yourself for the worst.  The Phillies are dead last and the only team in the division that is playing under .500 baseball.

At the start of the year, we all figured they might snap out of it but that is just not happening.  They just plain suck.  And that fact was no more evident than last night against the Mets in a 7-4 loss after leading by 4 runs at the start of the game.

Here is what we have learned about this Phillies team recently:  They cannot hold a lead.  The bullpen stinks.  The offense is schizophrenic; you never know what might happen next.  Wikipedia defines schizophrenia as “…disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction.”  That about sums it up.

The Phillies took a quick 4-run lead in this game, thanks in part to a Hunter Pence 2-run homer.  John Mayberry Jr. had 2 hits and is starting to find his swing.  But that is where the good new ends.

Joe Blanton left the game with 2 outs in the 7th inning and 2 runners on base.  Then Chad Qualls punched him in the gut by allowing both runs to score.  Adding to the disaster, Pete Orr botched a play at second base, which led to the Mets to taking a 5-4 lead.

Late in games, a one run deficit seems almost impossible to overcome for this team.  So as if that were not bad enough, reliever Michael Schwimer added 2 more Mets runs in the 8th.  That was the nail in the coffin.

You could not even change channels last night for some relief. The Flyers lost and were ousted from the playoffs.  The Sixers lost and have to play again on Thursday.  There was no escape…it was a very bad day for Philly sports.

But the drama continues tonight as the Phillies will attempt to salvage one lousy game from the lousy Mets.  Ugh.  Cliff Lee will come off the DL and pitch starting at 7:05pm…he is our only hope for a win :O(

 

 

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Blanton Channels Halladay In Complete Game Shut-Out

Since Roy Halladay was unable to perform like Roy Halladay on Wednesday night, Joe Blanton decided to step in and give it a try.  Blanton did such a great Halladay impersonation that he managed to shut-out the Braves in a 3-hit complete game for a 4-0 Phillies win.

But maybe Blanton was not channeling the spirit of an ace pitcher at all; maybe this is just who Blanton is when he is actually healthy.  Either that, or maybe Blanton just needs to take every other year off and only play baseball during even-numbered years?

After a few tough years, Blanton has finally gone from an average Joe to an ace.  And after the previous night’s 11-inning 15-13 disaster that blew out both team’s bullpens, the Phillies pitchers really needed the boost from Blanton’s complete game.

The offense provide just enough offense to sneak out of Atlanta with a series win, 2 games to 1.  Shane Victorino and Laynce Nix both homered in the game and Hunter Pence added a sac fly.

The Phillies begin a 3-game series with the first place (gulp!) Nationals on Friday night.  Stephen Strasburg will pitch against Phillies fill-in extraordinaire, Kyle Kendrick (double gulp!).  Game time is 7:05pm…let the fun begin!

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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

 

The First Inning Is Killing the Phillies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ideas anyone?

 

 

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Halladay Tames the Giants

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Blanton’s Hillbilly Handfishin’ Snares Marlins

A player’s entrance music selection says a lot about their personality.  Joe Blanton’s choice is “Hillbilly Deluxe” by Brooks & Dunn.  Tonight against the Marlins, Blanton used his Hillbilly-style to reel in the Fish.

Having nearly a year off with a sore elbow, the rest seems to have done Blanton some good.  He has zip on his fastball and is throwing it wherever and whenever he wants like there is not a care in the world.  If he can stay healthy, Blanton could be a huge boost for the Phillies this year.

The one run he gave up kept the team in position to win.  He was helped out by solo home runs from Shane Victorino and Ty Wiggington.  And a single from John Mayberry Jr. knocked in Hunter Pence who had another multi-hit game tonight.

Rookie Freddy Galvis looks sharper at second base every day and tonight, he was very good.  Despite an error in the 6th inning, Galvis made a lot of other really tough plays.  It is hard to believe he never played second base before this spring.  Galvis also had a bunt single in the 7th.

The 3-1 win tonight gave the Phillies a series win over the Marlins, 2 games to 1.  And this weekend, the Mets come to town.  Friday night’s game time is 7:05pm.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

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