Results tagged ‘ Jose Contreras ’

Chase Utley Begins To Settle In

After coming off the DL on Monday, Chase Utley is now beginning to get into a rhythm at the plate.  He helped the Phillies to a 5-2 win over the Mets on Saturday night using his bat, his legs and his defense.

Utley had two hits, one RBI, a walk, two runs scored and a stolen base in the game.  He did a little bit of everything, even making some great plays on defense.  The bum right knee was really put to the test and it passed with flying colors.

This was especially great news for Cole Hamels who has suffered, along with the other starters, from a lack of run support.  When he exited the game after pitching seven innings, Hamels and the Phillies were down by a 2-1 score.  But Utley and Jimmy Rollins led a comeback in the eighth inning where three runs scored.  Rollins singled, stole a base and Utley drove him in.  Then Ryan Howard smacked a two-run double, putting the Phillies ahead 4-2.

The lead gave Hamels the opportunity to collect a win.  And although Hamels struggled early, allowing a career-high five stolen bases, he settled down and allowed only two runs. The Phillies then had to depend on the bullpen to preserve the win.

Jose Contreras tossed a scoreless eighth inning in his second appearance since returning from the DL.  And Ryan Madson took the ninth.  This year, he has been a closing machine.   Madson collected his 11th save in 11 opportunities to send the Phillies to bed with a 5-2 win.

The Phillies have taken the first two games in the series and will go for the sweep Sunday afternoon at 1:10pm.  Vance Worley will get his fourth start of the year.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Cliff Lee Helps Himself to a Win

Just a short 12 hours after a stunning 19-inning victory, the Phillies won again, making it two wins in one day.  The 10-4 victory today gave the Phils a 3-1 series win over the Reds.

 The Phillies hoped that starting pitcher Cliff Lee could go deep into the game as nearly the entire bullpen was worked hard in the previous game.  Lee did not disappoint, going eight innings.  He did allow four runs on 10 hits and a walk, but he kept his team in the game in more ways than one.

Lee himself accounted for two of the Phillies 13 hits and he drove in three runs, two on a double and one more later on a single.  There have been a number of role reversals in the past two days.  Lee was the big slugger today and infielder Wilson Valdez was the winning pitcher in the game before.

Not so backwards was a three-run homer by Raul Ibanez in the third inning.  Chase Utley also hit his first home run of the year today.  Utley has now doubled and homered since coming off the DL on Monday and all is right with the world again.

Utley did appear to twist his right ankle / leg on a play today, which was a bit scary.  However, he kept playing and it looks like we all have to wait until tomorrow to see if Utley bounces back okay.

As for the rest of the offense, some of the younger players are starting to hit, which is a good sign.  The Reds starter Homer Bailey only lasted five innings and then rookie Daryl Thompson took over, making his major league debut.  However, Domonic Brown and Michael Martinez each had a hit off Bailey, so it was not like they were just abusing the rookie.  They hit a solid, veteran pitcher as well.

If the younger guys can keep stringing hits together like this, things may soon look-up for the Phillies offense.

And if injured players keep returning, like Jose Contreras did today, that is another big positive.  Contreras pitched a scoreless ninth inning today and looks like he is ready to pick up where he left off, although Ryan Madson will remain the closer.  And David Herndon was sent back to Triple-A to make room on the roster.

The Phillies will embark on a 9-game road trip next.  They play the Mets in New York Friday night at 7:10pm; Roy Oswalt will pitch.

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Valdez & Baez Lead Phillies to 19-Inning Victory

As far as headlines go, the one above is not what Phillies fans generally expect to see.  But it was a back-up player and a much maligned bullpen pitcher who saved the day for the Phillies on Wednesday night against the Reds.

It took more than six hours and nine pitchers, but the Phillies finally pulled out a 5-4, 19-inning win.  Both offenses struggled to score runs and for the Phils, this has been problematic all season.

I have two words rattling around my brain in regards to the Phillies offense: frustrating and painful.  This team has been painful to watch most of the season so far.  And they keep repeating the same mistakes over and over, which is incredibly frustrating.

For example, Raul Ibanez led off the sixth inning with a triple.  So with NO outs and a man on third, what should happen just doesn’t.  Carlos Ruiz swung at the first pitch and popped out.  John Mayberry Jr. watched a called-strike three go by.  And then Wilson Valdez is walked intentionally to get to the pitcher.  Result: NO run, when all they needed was a sac fly or some form of contact with the ball that did not turn into a pop-up.

And this is exactly the sort of thing that is plaguing the Phillies offense.  They faced a Reds pitcher who was off his game and they did not take advantage.  Instead, they got themselves out by being impatient and swinging at bad pitches.

So just like Tuesday night, with a 3-1 lead, the Phillies watched the Reds come back to tie the game, 3-3 by the seventh inning.  They got hurt, again, by Jay Bruce with two outs and the bases loaded.  He hit a two-run single off Roy Halladay, who had a few issues tonight.  However, the defense behind him did little to help.

But once the game entered the wee hours of the morning, many forgot that Halladay had even started the game.  The bullpen took over for a total of 12 innings.

Danys Baez, who has taken a lot of abuse from Phillies fans for his lack of consistency, was one of the hero’s in this game.  He pitched a career-high five innings and 73 pitches to carry the Phils through the 18th inning.  He allowed only one hit, one walk and zero runs.

Last year, Baez was so bad that many hoped he would be cut.  And this year has been up and down for him.  But rest assured that after an effort like this, Baez is keeping his job.

After Baez exited, the unexpected happened.  Wilson Valdez stepped onto the pitcher’s mound.  And he was tasked with facing the heart of the Reds line-up in Joey Votto, Scott Rolen and Jay Bruce, who had absolutely been killing the Phils all series long.

But Valdez gave a valiant performance, even clocking over 90mph on the radar gun.  He got Votto to fly out to deep center, hit Rolen with a pitch and then two more fly-outs to end the inning.  As he exited the field, the crowd went crazy cheering for him.

Valdez is the first player to start in the field and move on to pitching since Babe Ruth.  Seriously.  He is also the first Phillies position player to pitch since Tomas Perez did it in 2002.  The game win went to Valdez and afterwards he told Comcast Sportsnet, “I like to win,” in response to why he agreed to pitch.  He also joked that he could have gone three or four more innings.

Raul Ibanez hit a sac fly to score Jimmy Rollins for the win in the 19th inning.  In a game where an infielder pitched, a catcher (Carlos Ruiz) played third base and the team left 16 men on base, this win has to be a huge boost for the Phillies.

The last game with the Reds comes quick after this one; Thursday afternoon at 1:05pm.  Cliff Lee will pitch.

Injury Updates

Ross Gload is not playing right now due to a slight muscle tear in his hip.  This is same sort of injury that Chase Utley played through in 2008, which eventually required surgery.  Gload is expected to play through it as well.

Jose Contreras should return to the team sometime this week.  Odds are good that David Herndon will be sent down to make room.

Chase Utley got a day off today, except for a pinch-hitting appearance, in what appears to be an effort to err on the side of caution by not pushing him too hard, too soon.  He should play again Thursday.

 

Photo 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*

 

Offense Shows Signs Of Life In Final Game of Road Trip

The Phillies were finally able to salvage a win out of the 3-game series with the Diamondbacks today.  Cole Hamels allowed three runs on four hits and a walk in the 8-4 victory.

But the real news was the offense, which finally showed signs of life after scoring only 17 runs in the first six games of this road trip.

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Not surprisingly, Placido Polanco continued his hot streak, going 4-for-4 in the game today and scoring three times.  Polly has been the only player unaffected by this hitting slump.

Jimmy Rollins had his first multi-hit game since April 12th with an RBI-double and a 2-run homer.  Shane Victorino also had two hits and both he and Ryan Howard homered in the game as well.

But while most starters were productive, Wilson Valdez still looks like he has no clue at all at the plate, swinging at anything within nearly a 10-mile radius.  Raul Ibanez did not start and was 0-1 in a pinch hitting appearance.  In his place, John Mayberry Jr. had one hit and two walks.

The Phils got off to a fast start, putting up three runs in the first inning.  But then catcher Carlos Ruiz suddenly disappeared and Brian Schneider was brought in to catch in the bottom half of the first inning.  Later, it was reported that Ruiz had lower back discomfort.

So are the Phillies playing some weird, made-up game?  We can call it Pass The Problem.  Roy Oswalt maybe passed on his back pain to Ruiz?  And maybe Brad Lidge passed on his arm/shoulder/elbow pain to Jose Contreras?  Whatever it is, it need to stop!

As for Oswalt, he left the team today to head home to Mississippi where a tornado landed close to his home.  Last year, Oswalt’s parents had their home destroyed by a tornado.  So now, he is understandably concerned about his wife and kids who are near the disaster zone.  Hopefully, his family is fine.  There is no additional word yet on the situation.

There has also not been any news about whether Ruiz is seriously hurt or not.  I will keep you posted.

As for the rest of the team, they have a day off tomorrow before beginning the home stand against the Mets on Friday night at 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*

 

Sweeps And Strikeout’s Cannot Hide the Stench Of Phillies Offensive Offense

It has been an interesting few days for the Phillies.  On Sunday, they finished off a four-game sweep of the Padres, scoring only 12 runs total in all of those games.  An inside-the-park homer by Shane Victorino helped seal Sunday’s sweep.

That same day, closer Jose Contreras was sent to the DL with a strained right flexor pronator tendon in his elbow.  As a result, Michael Stutes joined the club to fill the roster spot and made his major league debut on Monday.

Also on Monday night, the Phillies five-game win streak ended with a 0-4 shut-out loss to the D-Backs.  Cliff Lee pitched an odd game where he struck out 12 batters but still allowed four runs in seven innings.  However, Lee’s performance was basically rendered obsolete as the Phils offense did absolutely nothing to help out.

The three-hit shutout by the Diamondbacks Ian Kennedy where he struck out 10 batters and did not issue a walk, matched a team record.  Only two other pitchers in team history tossed a shutout while allowing three or fewer hits with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks.  One was Curt Schilling on April 10, 2001 against the Dodgers (2 hits allowed, 10 SO) and the other, Randy Johnson, when he pitched a perfect game on May 18, 2004 at Atlanta (13 SO).

While that feat by Kennedy is very impressive, the Phillies offense certainly made it a little easier on him by swinging at bad pitches and watching good ones fly by.

The Phils offensive offense has not scored more than four runs in 14 consecutive games this season.  They currently rank 28th in baseball for runs scored since April 9th.

The worst offender amongst the starters has been Raul Ibanez, who is hitting just .179.  He should be benched in favor of John Mayberry Jr. until he figures things out.  Maybe at almost 39-year old, Ibanez needs to be in a platoon with Mayberry to get him more rest.

Team leader Jimmy Rollins is also not producing.  He got off to a hot start and has seriously cooled off.  Rollins has not had a multi-hit game since April12th.  He has batted .182 since that time.

 

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But a few players are not to blame.  The entire team is just not hitting, as if they all caught the same virus at once.  If the disease continues to spread, who will be the fall guy?  Last year it was hitting coach Milt Thompson.  Frankly, the players themselves need to be held accountable.  Play the bench guys until the starters find their swings.

While the bench is solid, it is not the long-term solution.  However, maybe benching a few guys will light a fire under them.  Because the Phillies have few other options.

Their payroll is maxed out.  The Phillies will never be a team that decides to pay the luxury tax along with the Yankees.  So as far as getting new blood into the line-up, they are out of options.  Besides, it is only April and no teams are ready to trade anyone yet.

Then again, it is only April.  The team is still winning, despite the offense, thanks to a solid starting staff.  But even the pitchers are going to get weary of the lack of support very soon.

So choose your most relaxing yoga pose and just keep telling yourself, “It’s only April.  Its only April…”

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Phillies Pitching Wins First Two Games In San Diego

On Thursday night, the Phillies snuck away with a 3-0 win against the Padres even though their offense is still anemic.  Home runs by Ben Francisco and Brian Schneider paved the way for Roy Oswalt to collect his third win of the year.

While Oswalt appeared to have no ill effects from last week’s back issue, he did wind up having to toss a lot of pitches to get through six innings.  It was 106 pitches, to be exact.  The bullpen held the lead despite each reliever allowing one hit and one walk each.


P4178660BO.jpgFriday night, Cole Hamels took the mound and looked great in front of his hometown crowd.  Usually comfy in San Diego, Hamels seemed to be relaxed and in control.  He was even one of the best batters of the night with two hits, although he had a brain freeze and got picked off first base once.

Hamels cruised through eight innings without allowing a run.  The Padres managed only four hits and three walks, one of which was intentional. 

As for the Phillies offense, there has been very little of that lately.  Two walks in the third inning led to a 2-RBI triple by Ryan Howard which accounted for the Phillies only two runs of the game.  Lucky for them, Hamels brought his A-game and kept the Padres off the scoreboard.

The ninth inning was handed to Ryan Madson.  Jose Contreras got a day off since he has pitched a lot lately.  Madson has struggled in the closer role in the past, but tonight he had no issues.  The Phillies went on to win by a score of 2-0.

There are two more games in the series.  Saturday’s game time is 8:35pm and Joe Blanton will pitch.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Phillies Salvage A Game Against The Brewers

The Phillies avoided a sweep at the hands of the Brewers this afternoon with a 4-3 win.  The 2-1 series loss was the first series loss of their season.


P4178730CC.jpgThe Phils offense went 17 straight innings in this series without scoring a run.  John Mayberry Jr. got the first hit of the game, but that did not happen until the 5th inning.  Then finally in the sixth, Wilson Valdez (photo) drew a walk and Shane Victorino singled.  Placido Polanco then smacked his second homer of the week to tie the game up at 3-3.

Cliff Lee had a slightly off day, although he kept the team in the game.  Through six innings, Lee allowed two earned runs on eight hits and a walk.  The third run was the result of a Valdez error.

Valdez made up for the error in the ninth, after a Victorino homer gave the Phillies the lead the inning before.  Valdez ran backwards after a fly ball that was over his head, reached out and snagged the ball.  That play saved closer Jose Contreras from a very difficult inning.  Contreras then struck out Ryan Braun to end the game.

The Phillies now travel to the West coast for a 4-game series with the Padres.  Thursday’s game starts at 10:05pm and Roy Oswalt, feeling better since having back issues, will pitch.  Phillies fans, prepare for some late nights in the coming week.

 

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.

 

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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*

 

Hamels Finds His Groove In Win Over Braves


0819 Hamelsb.jpgAfter a nightmarish start to his season, Cole Hamels was hoping to shrink his enormous 20.25 ERA today against the Braves.  In the final game of this three-game series, Hamels came out firing bullets.

For the Phillies offense, scratching out a few runs against the Braves starter Derek Lowe was not going to be an easy task.  So Hamels knew he had to be sharp.  As expected, a pitcher’s duel broken out in Atlanta.

Hamels was on a mission.  Through seven strong innings, he allowed only four hits, no runs and struck out eight batters.  Even better, Hamels looked relaxed and in control, able to work out of what little trouble he got into.

The offense did manage to post a few runs for Hamels, mostly due to a spectacular game from Shane Victorino.  Going 3-for-4 at the plate, Victorino hit two singles and a home run.  The other run scored when Jimmy Rollins hit into a double play with no outs, allowing Victorino to score in the fourth.

Carlos Ruiz also continued his hot streak with two hits.  Then in the ninth inning, Rollins got his first hit of the game, a double that landed him on third base after a Braves error.  Ryan Howard was able to get Rollins home on a ground ball out, giving the Phillies an insurance run and a 3-0 lead.

Jose Contreras entered in the ninth to save the game in what would be a very good test of his skills as a closer.  With rookie second baseman Michael Martinez making a few nice defensive plays plus good pitching, Contreras got the job done.

The Phillies won the series with the Braves two games to one.  After a day off on Monday, the Phillies will take on the Nationals in D.C. on Tuesday.

You Be The Judge

Totally off topic, have you seen the new MLB campaignAlways Epic“?  Released on March 31, 2011, Giants closer Brian Wilson stars in a video series that covers various adventures inside Wilson’s beard. 
Feb 2011 collage beard.jpg
The
video with the tiny ninja’s is especially interesting.  Follow the link to watch it.

Back on February 22, 2011, I posted that exact idea on this MLBlogs site, except I used the beard of Raul Ibanez.  I was making a joke about the magical powers of the Ibanez beard and decided tiny ninja’s would be funny.  Apparently, MLB liked it as well:

So, coincidence or did MLB totally rip off my idea?  You be the judge.

Perhaps it is simply that great minds think alike.  In which case, I expect a job offer from MLB any day now.

 

Photo 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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