Results tagged ‘ Jose Contreras ’

The Back-Up Plan


rman4000l.jpgWith both the division and home field advantage wrapped up, the plan for the Phillies back-up players this week is simple: Make the post-season roster.  With the September call-ups plus the usual bench players, the Phillies have a lot of spare parts.  A few of those will make the roster; the rest will sit and watch.  After tonight against the Nationals, there are 4 games remaining to decide who will fill the roles.

A few position players who made a good case in tonight’s game were Domonic Brown in right field and Ben Francisco in center.  Francisco went 2 for 4 and should be a lock for the roster.  Brown had 1 hit, a stolen base and a walk; he will likely be competing with Greg Dobbs for a roster spot.  Dobbs did not help his case with an error at third base tonight, no hits and he also dribbled a ball in front of home plate for an easy force out with the bases loaded and only one out.

P8188476 Brown.jpg

Decisions in the bullpen will be a bit more complicated.  After a fairly awful year, Danys Baez pitched mostly okay in one inning tonight, although he did walk a batter.  David Herndon looked better with two easy outs in the 7th.  The two lefties JC Romero and Antonio Bastardo each pitched one scoreless inning.  Bastardo is going to have an electric arm if he learns to control it; but the problem with him and all the other bullpen pieces we saw tonight is a lack of consistency.

But under pressure against the Nats knowing he was competing for a roster spot, Bastardo turned up the heat and struck out the side.  If a decision had to be made tonight, I would take Bastardo over Baez, keeping the two lefties.

Roy Oswalt started the game and pitched 5 innings allowing only an unearned run after the Dobbs error.  Sadly, he did not get a win as he left the game with a 1-1 tie score after a Raul Ibanez home run.  So Oswalt, if he does not pitch again in the regular season, will end with a 13-13 record.  12 of those 13 loses came when he was with the Astros.

Jimmy Rollins finally started a game tonight for the first time since September 8th.  He moved well in the field and went 1 for 3 at the plate.  Rollins played 5 innings total and should see more playing time as the week goes on in order to prepare him for the playoffs.  The hamstring injury did not appear to be an issue tonight…fingers crossed!

While the Phillies had a few hits in the game, it was still a 1-1 tie in the 9th.  Jose Contreras pitched the final inning for the Phils and threw only 3 pitches.  Adam Dunn mashed a long home run off Contreras, giving the Nats a 2-1 walk-off win.  While the loss makes little difference at this point, the performance by Contreras was not a good thing.  However, Contreras has been fairly reliable most of the year.

The battle of the back-ups will continue tomorrow in DC; 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 My Team Rivals network*

 

Phillies Snack On Filet O’ Fish

The Phillies went to Florida today and filleted the Fish with 11 runs scored.  The dinner bell rang early as Jayson Werth smacked a solo homer in the 2nd inning to start the feast.  The offense continued to rack up runs in every inning from the 2nd to the 7th.

Utley filet o fish.jpgFour home runs tonight were a welcome sight; Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Greg Dobbs all followed in Werth’s footsteps after the first bomb in the 2nd.  Utley looked very hungry with his homer plus 2 walks.  And Ruiz snacked on the Marlins with 3 hits and 4 RBI.  Even starting pitcher, Joe Blanton, helped out with a hit and a run scored.

Blanton allowed just one run through 6 innings and had a fairly easy time knocking down Marlins batters.  With 8 strike outs recorded, the only real disappointment was that Blanton could not go 7 innings.  Blanton has struggled all year to get past 6 innings; he has pitched 7 innings or more only 8 times in 25 starts.

But with an 11-1 lead in the 7th, there was no need to push Blanton further.  The bullpen was fully rested after a Roy Oswalt complete game shut-out yesterday.  Jose Contreras pitched the 7th and did well.  In his last 2 outings, he allowed 2 runs each game and looked tired.  A clean outing tonight was probably a nice confidence boost for him.

On the other hand, David Herndon was brought in to get some work in the 8th and got beat up by the angry Fish.  He gave up 3 runs, including a 2-run homer.  But after he finally got out of the inning, the Phillies still led by a score of 11-4.

The Phillies were able to rest some of their regulars near the end of the game, giving bench players like Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. a chance to play.  Wilson Valdez is still filling in for Jimmy Rollins who had an MRI on his hamstring today.  The MRI showed a slight strain, but no tear.  So Rollins should be back in action in a few days.  Although, Valdez has been great in his absence; Valdez collected 2 hits tonight.

With the Phillies win plus a Braves win over the Nationals tonight, the Phils remain 1 game in first place.  They have 2 more games with the Fish…game time tomorrow is 7:10pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Circus Act Puts Phillies In First Place

Game 3 with the Marlins today turned into a Big Top Circus act.  Both teams battled and drama ensued…


Phillies circus.jpgTo start with, it was not an awful game for Joe Blanton tonight.  But there was certainly some excitement.  The 3rd inning in particular had a little bit of everything, much like a circus; a couple hits, an error, a minor injury, a deflected ball and a few runs.  And Blanton was involved in all of it.  He gave up the hits, committed the error, got nailed in the leg with a hit ball and later deflected a sure double play ball, ruining the opportunity for Chase Utley who could then only get one out.  The only thing missing from this inning was a juggling clown.

But after Blanton survived the 3rd inning weirdness, he did fairly well.  It was not pretty, but it kept the Phillies in the game.  Blanton ended up with 6 1/3 innings pitched, 2 earned runs, 2 unearned runs, 2 walks and 5 strike outs.

The offense worked out some runs to help Blanton out as well.  The middle of the line-up was productive with Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins getting 2 hits each; 1 RBI for Howard and 2 for Rollins.  Raul Ibanez had a huge night with 3 hits and 3 RBI; Ibanez, Howard and Shane Victorino each hit solo home runs as well.

But all that offense was about to be erased by the Phillies bullpen.  Oh yes, the circus has come back to town…and not in a good way.  Antonio Bastardo allowed one of Blanton’s runners to score in the 7th.  But the 8th inning was nearly the killer as the bullpen got into serious hot water…


Hot water.jpgJose Contreras
looked like he had never pitched in the majors before; he started off with a home run and a double.  A Jayson Werth throwing error later allowed another run to score and Contreras wound up with 3 earned runs.  With 2 outs, JC Romero came in and balked, moving the Marlins runner to 3rd base.  He then walked Logan Morrison on 4 pitches.

However, it was not over yet…Ryan Madson came in and tossed a wild pitch, which probably should have been handled my Carlos Ruiz.  Instead, the runner on 3rd scored to tie the game.  So the Phillies bullpen took a 7-4 lead and blew it.  And 2 of those 3 runs scored with 2 outs in the inning.  Disgusting.

With a 7-7 tie in the bottom of the 8th, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco put the “T” in team; Victorino singled and stole second.  Then Polly singled to score Victorino.  And that all happened with 2 outs; what a way to pick-up your teammates!

In the 9th, it would be in the hands of Madson to save this see-saw game.  He got 2 outs quickly and then walked a batter.  Then facing ex-Phillie Wes Helms with a runner on, Madson struck out his old teammate.  This 8-7 win, plus a Braves loss tonight = FIRST PLACE!  The Phillies also became the first team in the National League to reach 80 wins.  Again, it wasn’t pretty…but we’ll take it.  You may now exhale…whew!

 

Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

More Good Pitching; Another Win

Very little happened in today’s Phillies – Padres match-up until the 5th inning.  Both pitchers were dealing and hits were few and far between.  Then Padres starter Jon Garland started the 5th off by hitting Jayson Werth with a pitch.  Raul Ibanez moved him over with a grounder and a single from Shane Victorino allowed Werth to score.

With a run finally on the board, Phillies starter Joe Blanton got into trouble later that same inning.  A walk and a couple of singles allowed tied the game.  But Victorino showed his defensive skills, throwing Nick Hundley out at the plate trying to score.

The Flyin’ Hawaiian was all over this game; Victorino smacked a triple in the 7th to score Werth again, who had walked earlier.  Then after an intentional walk to Carlos Ruiz, Mike Sweeney was put in to pinch hit for Blanton.  Sweeney hit a ground ball that was almost a double play.  Instead, he legged it out and Ruiz barreled into 2nd with a take-out slide; Sweeney was safe and Victorino scored. 

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The Padres paid little attention to Sweeney on first as he is not known for speed.  As a result, with a little prodding from first base coach Davey Lopes, Sweeney swiped his first bag in 4 years.  Sweeney’s enthusiasm and hustle are just what this team needs.  He fits in very well with the Phillies club.

Blanton ended his outing with just one run allowed in 6 innings; it was a great effort from Blanton.  After Blanton was pulled in the 7th, the 3-1 game was turned over to the Phillies bullpen.  Jose Contreras pitched a perfect 7th and Ryan Madson followed suit in the 8th.  You know what that means, right?  You guessed it….Brad Lidge time. (Gulp!)

After a horrible outing yesterday where Lidge balked in the tying run with 2 outs in the 9th, tonight was a different story.  With a strike-out, a pop-up and a fly ball, Lidge closed the game successfully, handing the Phillies a 3-1 win.

Game 3 with the Padres begins at 4:05pm tomorrow afternoon.  Cole Hamels will pitch and hopefully, put a 3-game sweep of the Padres in the bag.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phillies Overcome 7 Run Deficit To Beat The Dodgers

Before today’s game against the Dodgers, Shane Victorino was activated off the DL and lefty Antonio Bastardo was sent to AAA to make room.  Victorino did not start the game as Charlie Manuel had already told Ben Francisco he would start tonight.  Victorino did pinch hit in the 8th and drew a walk.  Francisco had a much more interesting game…more on that shortly.


P7260632 Blanton2.jpgPitcher Joe Blanton started the game and sadly, had another Blah-anton-type outing.  He allowed 3 runs right off the bat in the first inning.  After 5 2/3 innings, Blanton had walked 4 batters, allowed 8 hits and 4 runs total.  The hole was dug deeper by relief pitcher Chad Durbin who did not provide any relief.  Durbin allowed a 2-run homer in the 7th to put the Phillies down 6-2.

But the damage did not end there.  JC Romero pitched the 8th inning and while Romero has had trouble of late, this time it was the defense that let him down.  Mike Sweeney missed a ground ball at first to start the inning.  Carlos Ruiz had an error as well and two unearned runs scored.   Jose Contreras came in to relieve Romero and gave up another run.

Down 9-2 going into the bottom of the 8th, it looked like this game was over.  Then suddenly, the hits started coming.  It began with 4 straight hits: singles from Placido Polanco, Sweeney, Jayson Werth and a double from Francisco.  Wilson Valdez got another hit for the 4th run of the inning.  The 9-6 score seemed a tad more manageable.


4 Pre-Game (13).jpgThe Dodgers sent their closer in for the 9th, Jonathan Broxton.  The same 4 players that ignited the 8th inning rally started another one in the 9th.  Polanco was hit by a pitch; Sweeney and Werth both walked.  Francisco got on base after an error and 2 runs scored.  Just like that, the bases were loaded with no outs for Carlos Ruiz with a 9-8 score.  Ruiz smashed a walk-off double to win the game!

The Phillies came back from a 7 run deficit to win the game and take 2 of 3 games in the series.  When asked how he felt after the game, Ruiz told Gary Matthews, “I’m happy, I’m so happy.”  Well Chooch, we are SO happy too!  Werth then ran up behind him and dumped a bucket of Gatorade over Ruiz’s head.  I supposed shaving cream pies are out of fashion now.

Next up: the Mets in New York for the weekend.  Game time tomorrow is 7:10pm.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Dodgers Feast On Phillies Pitching

The Dodgers came to town today and the in-flight food service must have been seriously lacking on their way to Philly.  Because they were really hungry by the time the game started.  They snacked on Phillies pitchers like they had been starved for weeks.

The tastiest morsel was Kyle Kendrick; he allowed 5 earned runs on 8 hits and 2 walks.  A 6th run was unearned on the first of Jimmy Rollins’ two errors tonight.  When things start to go bad, things really go bad.  For instance, Rollins tripped over second base and fell over during what should have been a sure out.  Dodgers say, “Yum, yum! Me love scoring runs!”

Cookie Kendrick.jpg

The snack turned into a 7-course meal when David Herndon gave up 4 runs in the 6th after the Phillies offense had finally scored 3 runs the prior inning.  Herndon pitched a perfect 5th inning, but lost his command in the 6th.  Prior to that, Antonio Bastardo allowed a run of his own.  The lefty Bastardo was just added to the roster after outfielder John Mayberry was sent back to AAA.


The count.jpgAfter the 7-course meal in the 6th, the Dodgers were still hungry in the 7th when Danys Baez came in to pitch.  They ate him up to the tune of 2 more runs.  I suppose that was desert.  With a 13-5 lead, the Dodgers were bordering on pure gluttony.  Even The Count was tired of counting runs at that point.

Former Phillie Vincente Padilla handled the Phillies offense well until he met Ross Gload.  He was the one Phillies player who tried to join in on the feast.  Going 3 for 5 in the game, Gload hit not one, but two 2-run homers.  He was a one man wrecking crew. 

Rookie Domonic Brown had 4 RBI on a sac fly and then his very first major league home run.  He got the final 2 RBI in the 9th on a double.  The homer was not as exciting as it should have been considering the 13 runs on the board for the Dodgers.  Also, Brown has not played well in the outfield and needs a LOT of work on his fielding and hitting the cut-off man.

But back to the Dodgers; 13 runs would just not suffice.  JC Romero came in to pitch the 9th inning and the Dodgers began to salivate again.  Romero hit the first batter and gave up a 2-run homer to the 3rd batter.  With one huge 2-run chunk already taken out of his back side, Romero let the Dodgers have another nibble.  He walked the pitcher, George Sherrill.  It was Sherrill’s very first at-bat in his career.  Not that is embarrassing.  Wow.

Out of 7 Phillies pitchers tonight, only Jose Contreras and Chad Durbin did not allow a run.  The final score of this vomit-inducing nausea-fest was 15-9.  Good news?  9 runs.  Bad news?  Phillies pitching.

Roy Oswalt will pitch tomorrow night.  Hopefully, in his first outing at home in a Phillies uniform, Oswalt can tame the ravenous Dodgers.  Game time is 7:05pm.

 

Kendrick photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Sesame Street characters by Jim Henson

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

A Difficult Sweep In Miami

Part two of the Roy Oswalt – Philadelphia experience tonight went a tad better than the first part.  After allowing 4 earned runs in his Phillies debut, Oswalt handled the Marlins pretty well.  533px-Roy_Oswalt_2010_crop.jpgHe struggled with his control at times, which elevated his pitch count, but the end result was positive.  Oswalt went 6 1/3 innings allowing 3 hits, 4 walks and 2 runs.

The 2 runs however, scored after JC Romero came in to relieve Oswalt in the 7th.  Romero allowed an RBI double and then walked the 2nd run home on 4 straight balls.  Those runs were both charged to Oswalt.  Now, I love JC for his spirit and for the person that he is.  But the manager has to know that he gets wild in these situations sometimes.  Two runners on and one out is not a good situation for Romero.  Then again, with the Phillies bullpen as up and down as it has been, who to bring in and when remains a head-scratcher.

Jose Contreras was up next in the 7th and did not fare much better.  He immediately allowed a 2-run single.  Those two runs were charged to Romero.  So the cycle of crap rolling down hill continued as the Phillies lost a 2-0 lead and turned it into a 4-2 deficit in 1 inning.

As for the offense, Oswalt did not get much run support in Houston and so far with the Phillies it has not been too different.  With the bases loaded in the first and one out, Jayson Werth hit a weak pop fly to strand the runners.  Domonic Brown struck out next, but putting that pressure on the rookie is just unfair.  Werth should have been able to hit a sacrifice with only 1 out.

More opportunities came in the 3rd inning, but again, Werth stranded 2 more runners and grounded out to end the inning.  Carlos Ruiz finally came up with a big 2-out hit in the 6th to score Brown and Raul Ibanez, but no one else stepped up after that, even after Oswalt drew a walk to load the bases.


Mayberry Ransom.jpgMike Sweeney
saw his first action as a Phillie in the 8th as a pinch-hitter and drew a walk.  Nice job!  Cody Ransom was designated for assignment earlier today to make room for him instead of sending John Mayberry Jr. back down.  Ransom did not play very well, batting only .190 since being called up from AAA.

So the Phillies entered the 9th down by two runs.  And then the offense started to show signs of life again.  Placido Polanco reached on a error which was followed by a Ross Gload single and an RBI-double from the super-hot Ibanez.  Werth stepped to the plate again in a good hitting situation and finally came through.  A single tied the game at 4-4. 

But then, just to totally ruin his shining moment, Werth wandered too far off second base and got picked off!  A few pitches later, Brown followed in Werth’s not so nimble footsteps and got caught stealing!  He was probably trying to make up for Werth’s bone-head move.  What a mess…inning over.

Ryan Madson held the tie down.  Then in the 10th, Ruiz played the hero again and smashed his 2nd homer of the season to give the Phils a 5-4 lead.  But no sooner could Phillies fans rejoice than we saw Brad Lidge step to the mound with only a 1-run lead.  Oh crap….not again.  But by some act of God, Lidge got the job done…whew!  A SWEEP in Miami!  Nice.

The Phillies head back home now to play the Mets tomorrow at 7:35pm.  Joe Blanton will pitch.  Good night all!

 

Mayberry and Ransom photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Oswalt photo by Wikimedia Commons

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Cubs Slaughter The Phillies…Twice

In the first game of the Phillies – Cubs series last night, it started well for the Phils with a two-run homer from Ryan Howard in the first inning.  But right away, pitcher Jamie Moyer gave those runs back.  By the end of 3 innings, Moyer gave up 6 runs on 5 hits and had to be pulled from the game.

The Phillies wound up using 7 different pitchers in the game.  The worst of those were Jose Contreras, allowing 5 more runs and Danys Baez adding one more to the thumping.  The offense did nothing after the Howard homer until the 9th inning. 
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By that time, the Phils were down 12-2 so the 4 runs they scored in the 9th made little difference.  Although, Howard hit bookend homers in the game; the 2-run shot in the 1st and another 2-run shot in the 9th.

Coming into today’s game having lost the first, Howard tried again to spark his team.  After Shane Victorino homered in the 4th, Howard hit another 2-run bomb in the 6th, giving the Phils a 3-1 lead.  But as was the case the day before, the starting pitcher gave those 2 runs right back again.

Joe Blanton looked like he might have a good outing until in the 5th, with the bases loaded, he walked the opposing pitcher.  And then in the 6th after the Howard homer, Blanton gave up a 2-run homer to former Phillie Marlon Byrd to tie the game.  And to make matters worse, all 3 of those runs scored with 2 outs in the inning.

Ryan Madson ran into the same 2-out trouble in the 8th inning.  Aramis Ramirez hit a solo homer, giving the Cubs a 4-3 lead.  The Phillies did nothing to help themselves in the 9th.  Jayson Werth struck out looking for the 3rd time in one game and he has no hits in the series so far.  Ben Francisco also struck out looking 3 times.  As a team, the Phillies struck out fourteen times!  Disgusting.

The Phillies offense, except for Howard, looks pathetic right now and the pitching has not been good.  While we are only 2 games out of the All-Star break, this is very concerning.  The good news is, Cole Hamels pitches tomorrow and Roy Halladay on Sunday.  But as far as the good news goes, that is it.

So let us have a little fun for a moment.  Is it just me, or did anyone else think that the Cubs catching gear looks a bit like R2D2?


R2D2 catcher.jpgMaybe this is Cubs secret pitching weapon?  It sure would explain a lot about the last 2 games.  *SIGH*

Hamels Shines As Phillies Sweep Reds

The Phillies beat the Reds today to complete a 4-game sweep and head into the All-Star break.  And for the first time this week, they did not need extra innings or a walk-off hit to beat them.  And although the 1-0 victory was a very tight game, it felt more like the Phillies were in the driver’s seat the whole game.

Most of that had to do with the performance, and confidence, of pitcher Cole Hamels.  He finally looked like the 2008 World Series MVP again.  Not only was Hamels making his pitches, but he looked determined on the mound.  More importantly, he was never rattled by bad calls or bad plays; and there were plenty of those to go around.

For instance, Ryan Howard dropped a pop-up.  In his defense, it was a tough play.  Also the first base umpire called a runner safe when replay showed he was out by a good amount.  And then there was the home plate umpire who had a strike zone most of the day that was about the size of a pea.  As the weather got hotter though, it looked like he expanded it a little.  See here as a pitch to Carlos Ruiz is called a strike; note that the ball crosses the plate at his elbow.  And here is the Howard play as well:

071110a.jpg 

But despite the miscues, Hamels kept right on pitching with fervor.  After Howard dropped the ball and the ump blew the call at first, in both cases Hamels got a double play to erase the mistakes.  You cannot ask for more than that from your pitcher; well done.  Here are a few more photos:

071110b.jpg

Not so well done was the following: TWO fan interference calls which necessitated TWO booth reviews on balls that looked like home runs.  Ruiz hit the first one, but on replay it was a double and the fan really did not affect it too much. 

The next one was a hit by Jayson Werth where the fan reached over the wall and snagged the ball.  While it also was not a homer, had the ball been left alone, it would have bounced off the wall.  Centerfielder Drew Stubbs was jumping up for the ball, which then would have bounced far away from him, possibly enabling Werth to go to third base or even score an inside-the-park homer.  But because of the fan, it was a ground rule double and we will never know what could have been.

Ok people, I am officially putting Stupid Fans ON NOTICE.  Not all Phils fans; just the STUPID ones (you know who you are).  One day soon, if this trend continues, like the fan who took a pop-up away from Werth on Thursday, a fan is going to cost this team a game.  Mark my words: it will happen.  Today it did not; Thursday it did not; but it is coming.  If you are lucky enough to have a seat in the front row of a section and simple cannot or will not pay full attention to the game and its rules, give your seat to someone who will. 

And the Phillies need to start cracking down on this behavior.  Anyone who leans into the field of play or interfere’s with a player should be ejected and fined.  The Phils “say” they will do this, but more times than not, I see the same idiot fan still in his seat, waiting to ruin another play.  Let’s put it this way, follow the rules and respect the game otherwise, I will suggest to the Phillies that they have Jayson Werth run around the stadium and cuss out the entire front row.  You know he will do it ;o)

And no, I do not condone Werth’s language during the incident on Thursday.  It did make me sad for that poor kid.  But he did have a point.  If you are a fan of the game, act like one.  PAY ATTENTION.  Thank you.

And now back to the game :O)  Sorry for the rant interlude…

The Phillies offense had only 4 hits and 1 run as both pitchers were doing well.  Jimmy Rollins had 2 of the 4 hits plus the lone RBI; the other two hits were the fan-interference doubles.  Hamels wound up pitching 7 2/3 innings without allowing a run.  Jose Contreras ended the 8th and JC Romero got the first out of the 9th.

Romero looked like he was on fire as he mowed down his one hitter.  So when Charlie Manuel came out of the dugout to bring in Brad Lidge for the save, most of the crowd began hollering and boo’ing.  Not only did Romero look great, but Lidge has been anything but great this year.  With only 5 save in 8 attempts, Lidge makes people nervous.  But Manuel is determined Lidge will get better and today, he did.  Two quick outs and the save was intact, plus a win for Hamels.  Whew!

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

Closing out the first half of 2010 with a 4-game sweep was a much needed boost to this Phillies team that has struggled most of the year with injuries, slumps and sloppy play.  This series could be the engine that propels them into a great second half.

But for now, All-Star fever is upon us.  Before today’s game, the coaching staff and players were given their All-Star jerseys.  Even the Phanatic got one; he was very excited.  And All-Star Mickey Mouse made an appearance at the stadium as well:

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Here is the All-Star schedule of events:

July 11: Taco Bell All-Star Sunday at Angel Stadium featuring: XM All-Star Futures Game & Taco Bell All-Star Legends & Celebrity Softball Game; All-Star Game Charity 5K & Fun Run

July 12: Gatorade All-Star Workout Day at Angel Stadium featuring: State Farm Home Run Derby

July 13: 11:30 a.m. – Red Carpet Show presented by Chevrolet (Parade Route: along Convention Way and Harbor Blvd. ending in Disney Way)

8:00pm – 81st MLB All-Star Game at Angel Stadium

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Bad Bullpen + No Offense = Loss

It is simple math, right?  Well tonight’s Phillies – Braves match-up boiled down to that very simple math.

 
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Pitcher’s Cole Hamels and Jair Jurrjens battled fairly evenly, each allowing just 3 runs.  Hamels went 7 innings and Jurrjens was pulled after 6 plus.  Hamels did a nice job, but would the offense come through for him?

The Phillies managed only 2 hits of Jurrjens, one of which was a 2-run homer from Raul Ibanez in the 1st inning.  The other hit came in the 7th when Ryan Howard tied the game up 3-3 with a triple to score Ibanez, who had drawn a walk.  But with no outs and Howard on third, they failed to score again. 

Jayson Werth stood at the plate and watched strike three go by.  All he had to do was make contact and he just stood there like a deer in headlights.  Then Ben Francisco hit what could have been a sac fly, but either Howard, the third base coach or both decided not to tag up as it was a shallow hit ball.

Here is my issue with this: they had to know Wilson Valdez was coming up with 2 outs.  Did they expect him to be the hero and get a 2-out hit?  I know I certainly did not.  While Howard is no speed demon, he has one advantage: size.  He should have tagged and if the ball beat him, why not go old-school and knock the catcher over?  I would have taken that risk over expecting a 2-out hit from Valdez.

That decision looked like it might come back to haunt them when the bullpen took over in the 8th.  Jose Contreras quickly got into trouble with men on first and third and no outs.  But Chipper Jones got jammed in between third and home and Dane Sardinha made a great toss to trap and tag him out.  Eventually, with help from JC Romero, they escaped the inning unscathed.

With no scoring in the 8th for the Phils, Brad Lidge came into a tie game in the 9th.  It was his first game since last week when he blew a save against the Reds.  Lidge sent the Braves down in order, but with no scoring from the Phils in the bottom of the 9th, this would be a battle of the bullpens.

Sadly, in a battle of the bullpens, the Phillies were likely to come out on the losing end.  David Herndon did a great job in the 10th, but finally surrendered the lead in the 11th after a single and a double.  With the offense totally stalled, the 3-4 deficit looked insurmountable.  In fact, for many months now, the lack of hitting has made these very small deficits look like impossible obstacles to overcome.

But Mike Zagurski came into the game and made things even worse.  He looked great striking out the first two hitters, but made one very big, very costly mistake.  Eric Hinske took that mistake and tossed it over the right field wall for a 2-run homer.  The Phillies entered the bottom of the 11th down 3-6.

Watching these self-destructive games are very sad, especially in light of the talent this team possesses.  They just cannot seem to conjure it up at the most crucial moments.  The main players, like Jimmy Rollins and Werth, went hitless as they have many, many times this week.  The bottom of the lineup did absolutely nothing.  You cannot expect to win games with only three hits. 

Add to that the fact that the bullpen cannot hold a tie game down.  It is all a recipe for disaster.  And so it was; a 3-6 disastrous loss.  Jamie Moyer will try to win one tomorrow, but without any offense, how will he fare?  Not well is my guess.

Injury News

Pitcher JA Happ came off the DL today but instead of going to the majors, he was optioned back to AAA.  The Phillies are not happy with how he has pitched in his rehab, but they are hoping he will bounce back after some time in the minors.

As for catcher Carlos Ruiz, he will begin a rehab assignment this week, which is good news.  The concussion has healed to the point where he can start playing again.  Get well soon, Carlos!

By the way, we have now entered Day 8 of my Chase Utley withdrawal.  I am not doing too bad so far.  I have no fingernails left and I am stuttering a little, but all in all, it has been a mostly sanity-intact week.  Of course, we have about 7 weeks left to go so do say a short prayer for me.  Thanks…you guys rock.

 

Zagurski photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

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