Results tagged ‘ Joe Blanton ’

Homers Hurt Hamels; Offense Cannot Bail Him Out

In two out of three games in this Braves series, the Phillies bats left their pitchers hanging.  They did not score at all for Cliff Lee on Friday.  On Sunday, they got some hits for Cole Hamels, but only two runs.

 

The 12 hits from the Phils offense was certainly better than two on Friday.  However, the hits were not timely and caused little damage.  Here is just one frustrating example.  Wilson Valdez smacked a two-out double in the second inning with no one on base.  Later in the sixth, with runners at the corners and one out, Valdez hit a weak ground ball for an inning-ending double play, leaving a runner stranded on third.

Hitting without clutch hitting is practically useless, especially in a close game.

And Hamels really could have used some clutch hitting.  He went seven innings, striking out nine batters, but allowed three runs on two homers.  Still, it was a quality start and one that he should expect to win.

 

The youngsters in the bullpen did not help the situation either, which is the opposite of what happened in Saturday’s win.  Michael Stutes entered the game not having surrendered a run in 6.1 innings this year.  But in 1/3 of an inning on Sunday, he walked two batters and allowed a two-run homer.

Stutes looked like he had never even heard of a strike zone.  He was that far off, throwing only two strikes to three batters.  This was also the first time the Phillies used him in back-to-back games.  You can be sure they will not do that again anytime soon.

 

As for Scott Mathieson, he took over for Stutes and gave up a hit, but exited the inning unscathed.  But then to start the ninth, Mathieson began to unravel.  After a hit, a sac bunt and two walks on five pitches each, Danys Baez was brought in to bail Mathieson out.

When your savior for the night is Danys Baez, you know you are having a very bad day.  Baez has been unreliable at best since last season, but on Sunday night he was able to coax an inning ending double play.

I will say this for Baez; he is always great with the fans and a very nice guy.  Last night, he was headed to the clubhouse after warm-ups and an elderly lady next to me over the dugout asked him to sign a ball.  Most players are in full-out game concentration mode at this point and do not stop.  But Baez smiled, had her toss the ball over the dugout and he signed it for her and even waved to everyone standing there.

So with no ninth inning rally in sight, the Phillies went on to lose the game by a score of 5-2 and lost the series 2-1.  Heading to Miami tonight, first place in the division is on the line for this series as the Marlins are only two games back now.

Joe Blanton is back on the roster and will pitch tonight at 7:10pm.  Carlos Ruiz was put on the DL yesterday, so no one had to be bumped to add Blanton back.  The DL move was backdated to 4/28, so Ruiz could return in about five days or so if his back is feeling better.

Also, Sunday was the Phillies annual Mother’s Day celebration where a players has his mother flown in for the weekend at the Phillies’ expense to spend time with their son and see him play.  A different player is chosen each year, although there were two in 2010.  I have attended these particular games every year since 2006 so here is a photo gallery of all six years with the player, mom and sometimes other family members as well.  The only person I cannot remember is who is in the 2006 photo.  I think it is Jon Lieber, but I am not sure.  If you know, please let me know :O)

 

And here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.

 

 

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!

Worley Wins While Howard Homers

After Joe Blanton was sent to the DL yesterday, Vance Worley was called up to fill in against the Mets.  Worley definitely proved that he has what it takes to pitch in the majors.

And the Phillies certainly challenged him in the first inning.  Both Placido Polanco and Jimmy Rollins committed rare errors in the first to extend the inning.  But Worley did not get rattled and eventually coaxed a double play ball to end the inning.

That inning increased Worley’s pitch count, but he still managed to go six innings while allowing only two hits.  Despite four walks, Worley shut-out the Mets and got his first major league win of the year.  Worley also singled in the game, which was his first major league hit.

However, most of the fireworks at the plate were provided by Ryan Howard who is now tied for 2nd with Del Ennis for Phillies all-time home runs.  Howard’s 259 home runs are second only to Mike Schmidt who ended his career with 548.

It took Howard two homers to match the record tonight.  The first shot went into the second deck in right field for 2-RBI.  The second was a grand slam in the sixth inning, which is the 10th slam of Howard’s career.

Howard Rollins fireworks.jpg

Howard came up again in the seventh with the bases loaded, but back-to-back slams were just not meant to be.  Sadly, he struck out.

But Ben Francisco helped out in the game as well with two hits and two RBI in the game.  And Rollins had another two-hit game, officially announcing his emergence from an early season slump.  Raul Ibanez, on the other hand, has not had a hit in 30 consecutive at-bats.

Another record was set tonight as well.  Polanco recorded his 39th hit in the month of April, setting a new Phillies team record.  Chase Utley held the previous record with 38 hits in April of 2008.  And Polly is not done yet…still one more game to go in April.

The bullpen, including newcomer Michael Stutes, held down most of the Phillies huge lead and they went on to win by a score of 10-3.  Game two is Saturday at 1:10pm and Roy Halladay will pitch.

***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!

 

Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

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 Win Third In A Row Against Padres In Extras

After not allowing a single run to the Padres in two straight games, the Phillies finally yielded on Saturday night in the first inning.  Joe Blanton got roughed up quickly.  On his first three pitches of the game, he allowed a single and an RBI triple to break the Padres scoreless streak.

But after getting out of the early jam, Blanton settled down and actually pitched very well.  In seven innings, he allowed just two runs on eight hits and two walks.  Blanton finally lowered his ERA below six; it sits at 5.92 right now and hopefully, will get better as the season progresses.

Placido Polanco got the day off at third base, which seemed like an odd choice considering he is the only Phillie really hitting right now.  Wilson Valdez took third and Pete Orr filled in at second.  Both players had one hit each, but overall, the offense suffered again.

Jimmy Rollins and Ben Francisco accounted for the Phillies two runs.  After Rollins walked in the fourth, Francisco tripled to score him.  Then in the sixth, Rollins singled to score Orr who had doubled before him.


Orrs Oars.jpgJust a quick side note, I noticed last week that Orr already has a fan club, Orr’s Oars.  A group of fans have been wielding boat oars in the outfield in Orr’s honor.  Also interesting to note, Orr’s cousin, Nick Boynton, plays for the Flyers.

And yes, that is how sad the offense was in this game.  I was so bored, I made a hockey reference.

Here are just a few examples of the Phillies offensive woes:  Raul Ibanez has not had a hit in 17 at-bats.  Frankly, I think John Mayberry Jr. should get some playing time until Ibanez figures it out.  And Rollins is batting .120 in his last seven games.

The Padres have similar issues and as such, neither team looked good on offense.  That led to extra innings after both teams were unable to score again in a 2-2 tie game.  This would become a battle of the bullpens.

As it turned out, the Phillies bullpen came out on top thanks to an RBI-single by Howard in the 11th.  That hit was huge for Howard as he had struck out in each of his previous four at-bats.  The two runs that scored gave the Phillies a 4-2 lead which Ryan Madson held down for his second save in a row.

The Phillies are up 3-0 in the series with the final game today at 4:05pm.

 

*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.

Role Reversal; Blanton Is Hot, The Offense Is Not

Like they did in their last two games, the Phillies jumped out to an early lead Monday night with a run in the first inning against the Brewers.  But also like the previous two games, after scoring in the first, the Phillies offense went to sleep.  So the question is, who put the Ambien in the Gatorade?

The  offense was off to a very good start early in the season.  But suddenly, the bats have vanished.  Pitcher Joe Blanton had the opposite start to the season; he was awful in his first two starts.

Now, the roles are reversed.  Blanton finally looked sharp tonight, throwing 7 solid innings where he allowed just two runs on seven hits and a walk.  The Phillies could not have asked for more from him.


sleepy Phillies ambien.jpgBut Blanton should have put in a request for some offense.  Because the red-hot bats have gone stone cold.  The one run they did score came off a Brewers error which allowed Jimmy Rollins to reach base on what should have been an inning-ending double play ball.  Ryan Howard knocked Rollins in with a single and then, it was nap time.

Both Howard and Placido Polanco had two hits each, but no one else really looked conscious.  In the seventh, they squeaked out one more unearned run after another Brewers error.  That tied the game at 2-2.  A freak double play ended the inning as Polanco hit a low line drive that no human being should have been able to catch.  The ball ricocheted off the pitcher’s back, flew up into the air and somehow, Yuniesky Betancourt snagged it, doubling Michael Martinez off second.

But then Ryan Madson finally had a bad game and gave up the first run of his season.  The Brewers jumped ahead 3-2 in the eighth inning.  Could this sleepy Phillies offense bail him out?

The short answer is no.  Although Pete Orr smacked a game-tying RBI-double in the ninth, pitcher Kyle Kendrick killed any chance at a win.  The game went extra innings and in the 12th, Kendrick had a Murphy’s Law inning.  Anything that could go wrong did.

Kendrick walked the first batter on four pitches and then proceeded to screw up in every conceivable way.  He made an errant throw, a wild pitch, hit a batter and walked two more intentionally.  The only thing he did not do was break down and cry like a little girl, although he probably wanted to.

Three runs later, the Brewers sealed the win at 6-3 as the offense still refused to wake up.  It was a sad loss.

 

Injury Updates

On Sunday afternoon, Chase Utley was running the bases during batting practice.  Today, he was doing sprinting drills.  The fact that he followed a day of running with a day of sprints means he suffered no ill effects from the running.  That is very good news.

Utley has been able to take batting practice and do some infield drills as well throughout the rehab process.  If he can run full speed without pain, he may be on the field soon that expected.

As for Domonic Brown, his broken hand is healing well and he went 2-for-3 in an extended spring game today. 

Roy Oswalt says he feels fine after some back spasms on Friday which caused him to leave the game against the Marlins early.  While no official decision has been made, it appears he will make his next start on Thursday.

J.C. Romero left the game in the ninth after getting the first two outs.  As he lunged for a ground ball, he began hopping and limping.  He has a strained right calf and will likely go on the DL.  And MRI is scheduled for Tuesday.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Phils Win A Close One Over The Fish

The Phillies celebrated the Phanatic’s birthday today.  Afterwards, they got to celebrate a win as well.  In a very close 3-2 victory over the Marlins, the Phillies saw their season record improve to 10-4 in front of the second largest regular season crowd since Citizens Bank Park opened in 2004.

All 45,716 people were treated to a birthday party for the Phanatic before the game began.  Local Philly mascots and some mascots from other MLB teams joined the party too.  The ZOOperstars also attended and yes, there was a cake made entirely of Tastycakes:

 

041711 Phanatic.jpg

As for the game, Placido Polanco got the Phillies off to fast start with a solo homer off Marlins pitcher Anibal Sanchez in the first inning.  A single by Raul Ibanez later knocked Jimmy Rollins in for a 2-0 lead.

 

041711 misc.jpg

And that is how the score would remain for five innings as Cole Hamels looked very sharp.  He finally bent in the sixth, allowing two runs, but finished seven full innings without giving up a big inning.


041711 Hamels.jpgHamels’ performance was what kept the Phillies in the game as the hits were not coming easily.  Polanco would up with three hits and Ben Francisco had two.  That accounted for five of the Phillies eight hits total.

There were some odd and sloppy plays throughout the game by both teams.  Ibanez made a spectacular running catch in the fourth inning (see photo below).  But the next inning, he missed basically the exact same ball.  And Shane Victorino stumbled while on first base and got picked off in the fifth:


041711 errors.jpgThe third run for the Phillies was courtesy of a Marlins goof in the eighth.  Ryan Howard hit a fly ball to left and Logan Morrison somehow missed it as the sun appeared to interfere with his vision.  Francisco took advantage and singled and then Ibanez moved Howard to third on a ground out.  Carlos Ruiz put the RBI on the board with a sac fly, giving the Phils the 3-2 lead.

In the ninth, Jose Contreras did his best Brad Lidge imitation and scared the crap out of everyone in attendance with a circus-like save.  He walked the first batter and a few ground balls moved the runner to third.

As if this were not frightening enough, Contreras then walked Chris Coghlan, who then stole second base.  But Omar Infante then grounded out for the third out and Contreras got his third save of the year, although it was not pretty.

The Phillies split the 2 games with the Marlins as Saturday’s game has been rescheduled for 6/15.  On Monday night, they begin a 3-game series with the Brewers.  Game time is 7:05pm and Joe Blanton will pitch.

The full Photo Album from today’s game, including batting practice and the birthday bash, will be posted tomorrow afternoon.  Check back for that.

 

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Late Rally Comes Up Short For Phillies

The big story before today’s Phillies – Nationals match-up was the reunion with Jayson Werth who left for a larger payday this past offseason.  While Werth heard some boos from the Phillies fans who generally overrun Nationals Stadium, he also got the last laugh…for today, anyway.

Werth had two hits, including a double and a home run.  He also walked once and scored twice.  The boos either did not bother him or he found it to be motivating.


Thumbnail image for P7260632 JoeBlanton.jpgAs for starter Joe Blanton, in his second attempt of the year, he faltered again.  Blanton allowed five runs over seven innings to an anemic Nationals team.  His 10.45 ERA is disturbing, although, it is still early in the season.  Regardless, losing to the lowly Nationals is never fun.

And the Phillies offense did little to help Blanton.  They seemed puzzled against veteran Livan Hernandez.  Ryan Howard touched him up for a homer in the second inning, but hits after that were hard to come by and certainly were not timely.

In the seventh, after three straight singles and only one out, both John Mayberry Jr. and Shane Victorino struck out to end the threat.  In the bottom of the inning, Antonio Bastardo walked a run home to make the score 6-1.

The Phillies tried again to rally against the Nats bullpen in the eighth.  But although they got some runners on base and two runs scored, one on a ground ball and another on a wild pitch, it was not enough.  The Phils went on to lose by a final score of 7-4.

Roy Halladay will take the mound tomorrow and try to hold down Werth and the Nats. Game time is 7:05pm. 

 

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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