Results tagged ‘ Jonathan Papelbon ’

Feast or Famine: Phillies Sweep the Marlins

After losing 3 straight games to the Brewers, the Phillies bounced back with 3 straight wins over the Marlins.  This all-or-nothing week ended with big offensive performances from 3 players today.

Chase Utley, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Will Nieves all had a 3 hit day.  Nieves knocked in two runs in the 5th to tie the game at 3-3.  And then Utley had the big bang in the 8th with a go-ahead home run, making it a final 4-3 Phillies win.
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Kyle Kendrick pitched mostly well, although he was up and down.  His game started a bit shaky thanks to another Ryan Howard error on the very first batter of the game.  So Kendrick started in a hole right away, but he hung in there.
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Other than the one error, the fielding was fairly clean.  There was one base running blunder as Gwynn Jr. stumbled around third base and went home anyway where he was thrown out.
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But the bullpen came into the late innings and actually held the lead.  In fact, all 3 guys, B.J. Rosenberg, Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon, retired each of the 3 batters they faced.  Finally!
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Speaking of the bullpen, Justin DeFratus has been sent back to the minors after some rather disastrous outings recently.  Luis Garcia has taken his place.

And just one fun note about today’s game, it was Kid’s Opening Day.  As part of that, some children were apparently commissioned to render their best images of Phillies players which were shown during each players first at bat.  Some of the drawings are hysterical.  Check out my Photo Album from the game to see those and more game shots.

The Braves come to town tomorrow.  Game time is 7:05pm.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Take First Two in Chicago

After a devastating loss on Wednesday, the Phillies have bounced back in the next series, winning their first 2 games against the Cubs.  Friday’s game was a 7-2 score and today they won 2-0 as Cliff Lee stunned the Cubbies.

Lee was able to lower his horrible 14.40 Opening Day ERA to only 6.00 with this 7 inning effort.  So all is well again with the Phillies ace…yeah!

And the offense is not too shabby to start the season.  Chase Utley is absolutely on fire after a very slow Spring Training.  In the last 2 games, Utley has 5 hits and 4 RBI including 2 home runs.  He also hit his 300th career double today and ended the game just a triple shy of the cycle.

Domonic Brown has also come to life with 4 hits, 2 walks and 3 RBI in these 2 games, plus ZERO strikeouts.  Nada.  That alone tells me he is in the zone.

P7073923Another interesting note is that we are learning some things about the Phillies manager, Ryne Sandberg, early in the season.  First, he is totally in love with Jake Diekman.  Diekman has pitched in 4 out of 5 games so far this season while fellow reliever Brad Lincoln has yet to throw a pitch.  Justin DeFratus has pitched 1 inning and Jeff Manship has thrown exactly 2 pitches total.

Sandberg says he is trying to establish who fits in which spots in the bullpen.  By the way, is that not what Spring Training was for?  Just saying.  And if he is looking for good fits, does this mean those 3 pitchers that have not been or barely been used do not “fit” anywhere?  Hmmmm…

We have also learned that Sandberg is not totally sold on Roberto Hernandez.  In Friday’s game, Hernandez appeared to be cruising in the 6th inning when, after one out was recorded, Sandberg pulled him and put in Diekman.  Hernandez had given up 2 runs in the first 5 innings, but his pitch count was low (73).  That was a weird move.

One last thing I like to mention about today’s game…Jonathan Papelbon saved a game!  Miracles never cease!  Yes, that comment is dripping with sarcasm.  When he saves 3 or 4 in a row with minimal drama, I will curb my smart remarks.  Until then, congrats Pap!  You live to fight another day!

Can the Phillies sweep this series?  Hope so!  Game 3 is Sunday at 2:20pm and A.J. Burnett will pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Perplexing Papelbon Problem

Wednesday night’s Phillies 3-4 loss to the Rangers was the kind that makes you want to scream.  It was a game they had well in hand; very winnable.  Enter the $50 million dollar man, Jonathan Papelbon:

Through 7 innings, starter Kyle Kendrick was great, allowing only 1 run.  Rookie reliver Mario Hollands totally redeemed himself from a very rough outing the previous day by pitching a scoreless, hitless 8th inning.  Papelbon entered the 9th inning with a 3-1 lead that any closer making $50 million dollars, the largest payday ever for a reliever, should be able to preserve.  That did not happen.

Papelbon has lost 3-5mph off his fastball since the signing and has yet to make an adjustment for his lost velocity.  He just keeps flinging the ball up there figuring he’ll get all the swings and misses of days past.  He was severely up in the zone all inning and the Rangers put a beating on him with 4 hits and 2 walks.

The 2nd walk was literally a walk-off win for the Rangers.  The 4th ball of the at-bat was not even anywhere near the strike zone.  How does a veteran pitcher walk home the winning run?  I almost looked like he just said “screw it, I want to go home now” and just threw the ball without even thinking.  This is a big problem.

After the game, here was Papelbon’s take on the loss:

“Obviously, this is a disappointment,” Papelbon said. “I thought Kendrick pitched well enough to deserve that win, and unfortunately the bullpen wasn’t able to preserve it for him. But it’s a long season. I think that’s one of the stronger points of my game is being able to bounce back and not have any memory of the previous game good or bad.”

So he is saying “the bullpen” couldn’t hold the lead?  Try again…the ONLY guy who gave up a run after Kendrick left the game was Papelbon.  The least he could have done was owned it.

And one of the strongest points of his game is a lack of memory?  I guess he likes to take full advantage of this “strong points” by blowing games so he can then utilize his terrible memory to the fullest.

But maybe a bad memory is not so helpful.  Frankly, I think Papelbon needs to remember what he did wrong and try not to do it again.  I know he was speaking more to the mental aspect of the game, but perhaps those words have a deeper meaning than he realizes.  If we do not remember, how can we learn from our mistakes?

Or is that a moot point and Papelbon’s career is to suffer a very expensive and painful end?   Not expensive for him, of course.  But the Phillies have him under contract for at least 2 more seasons, with an automatic vesting option for 2016 if he finishes 15 games in 2015.  That is a scary thought.

Yes, it is only 3 games into the season.  But this issue goes all the way back to last season and Papelbon has still not adjusted his pitching style.  Is he capable of doing so?  Sure, I think so.  But will he?  That is the real question.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Sweep Braves Behind Hamels and Ruf

An odd thing happened today.  The Phillies actually showed signs of life as they swept the division leading Braves in a 3-game series.  Inspired baseball is not something we have seen a lot of this year, so this game was a real treat.

On top of his game again, Cole Hamels pitched 8 innings, allowing only 2 solo homers, both of which were absolutely murdered off the bat of Evan Gattis.  The official word is that the 1st homer went 486 feet, which is a MLB record for the season.  Yikes!

But aside from Gattis, Hamels had few problems.

The Phillies scored two runs in the first inning, but could not seem to kick start a rally after that despite some base runners.

Actually, base running was a bit of an adventure on this day.  Jimmy Rollins stole a base, which was a plus.  But rookie centerfielder Cesar Hernandez got picked off right before that and then was thrown out later in the game because he hesitated going around second base.  He received a bit of coaching from Chase Utley in between innings (see photo):

The defense was solid and fans were oohing and ahhing again over Cody Asche, who made a few more spectacular plays.

With the game still tied in the 8th inning, the Phillies needed a spark.  Darin Ruf provided the juice, and the lead, with a solo home run, his 13th of the year.

The Phils went into the 9th with a 3-2 lead and, luckily, passed on Jonathan Papelbon who had blown a save the night before.  Papelbon also pitched 3 out of the last 4 days.  So instead, B.J. Rosenberg pitched a clean 9th inning for his first career save.

Here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game, including a bunch of pre-game photos.

The Phils are off tomorrow and will face the Padres on Tuesday at 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Sandberg Gets First Managerial Win

Well, it took a few days, but the Phillies finally squeaked out a win for interim manager Ryne Sandberg.  The 3-5 win over the Dodgers ended yet another long losing streak for the Phils who are now solidly in 4th place in the NL East, 2.5 games behind the Mets for 3rd place.

Getting this win against the hottest team in baseball was going to require a combination of things to occur.  Pitcher Cole Hamels had to be good, which he was.  Hamels went 7 innings, allowing just 2 runs.

 

The Phillies offense had to produce.  And although it was not at all pretty at times, 7 hits and 3 RBI did the trick.  Carlos Ruiz, who has struggled lately, went 4 for 4 and Darin Ruf smashed a solo homer in the game.

Defensively, the Phillies were coming off a game in which they committed 3 errors.  On Sunday, they managed to cut that down to 1 error.  Ah, progress!

And for once, the bullpen did not implode in late innings.  Both B.J. Rosenberg and Jonathan Papelbon pitched scoreless innings to maintain what was at that point a 2-2 tie game.

And in the bottom of the 9th, a little bit of luck was in order to seal the Phillies win.  Two errors by Dodgers shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, allowed the Phillies to walk off with the victory.  Michael Young got the game-winning RBI as Ramirez fumbled his grounder with the bases loaded.  Casper Wells scored on the error and Ryne Sandberg finally got a win!

Here is the full Photo Album from the game, which includes some fun shots of the Dodgers as well.  Fun stuff like this right here:

Is he pitching or trying some new form of karate?  I cannot decide.

The Rockies come to town for a 4-game series tonight.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Inning From Hell

The 6th inning of Sunday’s Phillies Tigers game was officially the worst baseball I have ever seen in my life.  In fact, there is no point in even discussing the rest of the game that resulted in a 4-12 Phillies loss.  This team has fallen far into the deepest recesses of hell…

That one hellish inning included 3 Phillies errors, 8 runs scored by the Tigers, all of which were unearned, a Tigers grand slam and 2 runs scored on walks.  Rookie Steve Susdorf committed one of the three errors in his first major league start; this was a day he’d probably like to forget, along with the rest of us.

Veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins described it best after the game, telling reporters, “That was embarrassing. … If there’s a bottom, this has to be it. I can’t imagine things getting worse than they have this past week, culminating the way they did today.”

And although the trade deadline is just days away, I cannot imagine the Phillies will get much of a return on anyone they plan to dump.  Jonathan Papelbon has done his best to ruin any chances of the Phils getting a good return for him in a trade.  His salary is ridiculous, his attitude is deplorable and he has blown 5 saves in the last month and a half.  He is worth nothing in a trade at this point, unless a team is desperate.

And frankly, nearly everyone else on this team has rendered themselves useless in a trade after this horrific 8-game losing streak.

So what do the Phillies do in the midst of watching this franchise ship sink?  They spend $48 million on an unproven Cuban defector.  The Phillies signed right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez to a six-year deal with incentives that could push the total salary to nearly $60 million.

I liken this move to what someone with a gambling addiction does…keep betting higher, despite a long, ugly string of losses (ie: Ryan Howard’s extension, Chad Qualls, releasing Jason Grilli, trading Cliff Lee, Papelbon, etc…). Ruben Amaro Jr. is still gambling away this team’s future and it is hard to watch.  I hope I am wrong.  Maybe this guy is worth every penny of that $48 million. But with a track record of contract busts, the odds are not in favor of the Phillies.

Welcome to Hell, Phillies fans.

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Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Head to All-Star Break at .500

It was a very weird weekend for the Phillies heading into the All-Star break today.  Sunday’s game commenced a 3-game series with the White Sox that included a postponed game turned into a doubleheader, during which another rain delay occurred.  All 3 games went extra-innings, with the teams playing 24 innings total in one day; each game on Saturday lasted exactly 3 hours, 53 minutes, excluding the 41 minute rain delay.  In the midst of all that, Ben Revere broke his foot by fouling a ball off it; he will be out for about 6-8 weeks.  Very sad news for the Phillies :O(

Sunday’s game went 10 innings, 3 hours and 26 minutes.  Jonathan Papelbon blew his 5th save of the year in this one, denying Cole Hamels yet another win.  But Hamels pitched very well, allowing just 2 runs over 8 innings, which is what kept the Phillies in line for the win.

The offense started strong, but sputtered again later in the game, which has become a pattern with this team.  Still, they managed enough runs to get by.  Hamels, in addition to pitching well, led the team in hits with two; he also had a fabulous sacrifice bunt and a crucial RBI in the 4th inning.

The defense was a bit better on Sunday, although Chase Utley still had a blunder.  Luckily, no damage was done.

The only real damage was Papelbon’s blown save.  However, his teammates got him off the hook.  Utley redeemed his previous fielding error by leading off the 10th inning with a double.  And John Mayberry Jr., getting playing time since Revere is on the DL, singled the winning run in for a 4-3 victory.

Prior to the game, the Phillies All-Star’s, Cliff Lee and Domonic Brown, got their jerseys:

This win was a nice way to send them off to New York and finally put the Phillies at the .500 mark.

The Phils are now 6.5 games out of 1st place and a half-game behind the 2nd place Nationals.  But whether or not they can make a run at the playoffs still seems like a long shot after watching their struggles against a last place White Sox team this weekend.

In 3 games, they left 25 men on base and went 6-for-28 with runners in scoring position.  In Saturday’s 1st game loss, the Sox practically handed the game to them.  But with runners on 2nd and 3rd and no outs in the 9th, they failed to score.  That just cannot happen.  Similar situations played out in the 10th and 11th innings with the same result.  It was gut-wrenching; very difficult to watch.

Now with Revere gone and the bullpen situation still tenuous, there is no way to know how the 2nd half will play out, but the odds are certainly stacked against the Phillies.

While we all wait and see, here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  Enjoy!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Squeak Out Series Win Over Nationals

With a 3-1 win on Thursday night, the Phillies managed to just barely squeak out their 3rd win in the 4-game series with the Nationals…and it was not without drama, as usual.  Even with 4 errors in the game, somehow, this team found a way to win.

Of those 4 errors, 3 belonged to Chase Utley.  He was so off-kilter in the field, one may have wondered whether or not someone spiked his Gatorade.  But he did have a hit in the game and also ran the bases well, scoring a crucial run in bottom of the 8th inning.

The real heroes of the night however, were Darin Ruf and Kevin Frandsen…again.  Ruf started off the 7th inning with a double off the Nat’s lone All-Star, Jordan ZimmermanCarlos Ruiz bunted him to third and then, Mr. Clutch, Kevin Frandsen stepped to the plate.  Frandsen smacked a double into no-man’s land in right-centerfield to score Ruf and give the Phillies their first lead of the night.

In the midst of all that, Kyle Kendrick managed to pitch a very solid 7 innings, despite all the fielding errors and the lack of run support.  And then both Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon broke recent routine and pitched one drama-free inning a piece to nail down the win.  It was as if the stars had finally aligned….

But even after taking 3 of 4 from the Nats, and 2 of 3 from the Braves, the Phillies still have a lot of work to do.

Slightly off topic here, did anyone else see the interview with Darin Ruf that aired a few days ago on CSN Phillly?  He was asked why his offense has improved since being called up.  While I cannot find a video of this anywhere (and there may be a reason for that), he said basically that he was taking advantage of the “detailed scouting reports” that were available in the majors, but not in the minors.

Here is my question – do they seriously not have scouting reports in Triple-A?  Or perhaps they have generic, inferior reports?  Either way, am I the only one who thinks this is a major problem?  You cannot tell me this organization cannot afford to pay someone to produce minor league scouting reports.  Heck, I’ll do it for a very modest paycheck and some free baseball!

Just sayin’…  Thoughts anyone?

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Lannan and Revere Pound the Nationals

Visions of pitcher John Lannan must have haunted the National’s dream last night after he held them scoreless for 8 innings in a Phillies 3-2 win.  It was Lannan’s best outing of the year and the first time since 2009 that he made it through 8 innings.  Lannan completely dominated his former team, which had to be the cherry on the sundae for him.

Lannan had some help last night as well.  Ben Revere had 3 hits and scored twice, while showing off his acrobatic moves.  After sliding hard into home plate in the 6th inning, Revere lost his balance and flipped over onto to his head.  He turned the handstand into a full gymnastics flip, which announcer Gary “Sarge” Matthews termed an “upsie-do,” thus coining yet another Sarge-ism.

I said before the season began that Revere was going to surprise everyone, countering the naysayers about the trade.  I had hoped the surprise would come sooner than it did, but here we are and Revere has been outstanding for the past 2 months.  He is batting .300, stealing bases, getting extra base hits and scoring…a lot.

Not to mention that little Ben is cute as a button.  He is like an adorable, yet slightly spastic, little puppy dog, bouncing around to win your attention.  I seriously want to pat him on his head and feed him a milk bone.

Puppy’s aside, this team is not out of the woods yet.  The bullpen remains a serious issue.  Even Jonathan Papelbon nearly blew a 3-run lead last night.  His outings are beginning to conjure memories of past Phillies closers who, aside from Brad Lidge in 2008, were frustrating fans with every pitch.  Let us hope the Phillies do not need to use him for at least a game or two.

Cole Hamels will pitch tonight; game time is 7:05pm.

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Photo – Courier Post Online: Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

The Rumor Mill Begins to Turn…

The Phillies have done themselves no favors during the first half of the season.  Their mediocre play has left them in 3rd place in the NL East and 9.5 games out of first.  Losing 3 out of 4 against the Dodgers this past weekend did not help their case either.

And so the rumor mill begins to turn with names like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon in the mix.  If the team does not pick up their play significantly in the next few weeks, this could signal the end of an era.  It is hard to envision a Phillies team without Utley or Rollins, but that may soon be the reality.

The most persistent rumor recently has the Red Sox making a run at 3rd baseman Michael Young.  The Phillies signed Young as basically a 1-year rental, so his departure would not be surprising.  Utley is in the last year of his contract, so losing him is also a possibility, although not one that most people would be very happy about.

Utley may be the most beloved player in franchise history.  If the Phillies trade him, they run the risk of alienating a large portion of their fan base.  This is guy who blurted out the F-word on national television, not once, but twice, and people still say he can do no wrong.  That is a powerful show of affection, especially in a city like Philadelphia.

Rollins, on the other hand, may not be missed quite as much.  While he is the longest tenured active Phillie and a former MVP, Rollins still has that magical ability to piss people off.  He has made derogatory comments in the past about Philly Fans and he has been criticized for a lack of hustle.  More recently, Rollins said he was “not disappointed” with the team’s 1-3 performance in Los Angeles this past weekend.

While Rollins has a point, that being he believes the team will overcome, it still rubs some people the wrong way.  Personally, I like Jimmy.  He speaks his mind and I respect that.  So seeing him in another uniform would be quite a shock.  It would not, however, induce the same type of freak-out that losing Utley would.

On Tuesday night, the Phillies pulled out a 3-1 win over the best team in baseball right now, the Pirates.  That is still weird to say…  However, even that win may not help quite the trade rumors.  A sweep of the Bucos might be helpful, but even in a win, the Phillies still have some very obvious, glaring problems.

The bullpen, for example, is a huge mess.  It took 3 pitchers who combined to load the bases to get the Phillies through the 8th inning last night.  It did work out, but could have easily ended in disaster.  The offense is getting better, but they are still not hitting consistently with runners in scoring position.  And the defense is very shaky; Delmon Young dropped a routine fly ball last night which is a prime example of the issues on the field.

All we can do now is hold our collective breaths, wait and hope the Phillies can pull out a string of convincing wins before the All-Star break.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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