Results tagged ‘ Jose Contreras ’
Realizing the season is not quite even halfway over, it is hard to say that the Phillies are done. But after losing 3 out of 4 games to the worst team in the league this weekend, it sure does feel that way. Murphy’s Law has ruled this team for about 2 months now where anything that can go wrong does. Massive injuries to star players, a serious and prolonged offensive slump, pitching and hitting never going well on the same day and now this; 3 loses to the Pirates.
The one win in this series came on an offensive explosion of 12 runs. But if the Phillies need to score 12 runs every time to win a game, then I guess their season really may be over.
5 runs on 9 hits today did not cut it. Dane Sardinha, the Phils 4th string catcher, getting two hits and a home run did not help. Greg Dobbs, who is in the worst hitting slump of his career, got a hit and an RBI; no matter though. It also did not help.
The big boys like Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins did absolutely nothing in this game. And besides the solo home run by Sardinha in the 7th, the Phillies offense gave up after the 3rd inning. And then there was the pitching…
While Joe Blanton looked solid through most of the game today, he began to fall apart quickly after 6 innings. He threw 3 pitches at the start of the 7th inning which ended up like this: home run, single, double. Blanton left with one out and Jose Contreras came in with two runners on base. Contreras picked up the disaster right where Blanton left off, allowing a double, a single and 3 more runs to give the Pirates a 6-5 lead. So the Phils entered the 7th with a 3-run lead and the pitching blew it.
It only got worse when Mike Zagurski came in for Contreras and allowed two more runs to score on a 2-out single. So Blanton’s final line was 5 runs over 6 1/3 innings. He was fine through 6 innings, but when Blanton starts to fall apart, he really goes down hard. Then the bullpen totally ruins the day by allowing a 3-run lead to turn into a 3-run deficit…against a last place team. Disgusting.
So the Phillies went on to lose by a score of 5-8. If the Braves win today, the Phillies will enter tomorrow’s 3-game series with the Braves down by 6 games. That means, even if they win the series, they will still be a minimum of 3 games back with only 4 to play before the All-Star break. Or worse, they will lose ground and dig a hole too deep to emerge from.
Does anyone out there think the Phils can sweep the Braves? After losing 3 of 4 to the Pirates, they do not stand a chance. I will be happy to eat those words if they do, but the odds are certainly not in their favor.
With all the recent injuries, many Phillies, like Placido Polanco, dropped off in the All-Star voting late. As a result, the only Phillie to make it in via fan vote was Chase Utley. Utley cannot play due to his recent surgery and will be replaced by Martin Prado of the Braves.
Two more Phillies were added to the roster; Roy Halladay won the player’s vote and Ryan Howard was added by manager Charlie Manuel. Both are very deserving. Halladay’s dominant performances plus the Perfect Game he pitched this year make him an obvious choice. Howard is one of the league leaders in RBI’s with 58 and was batting .296 coming into today’s game.
Earlier today, MLB.com posted the starting rosters for each league. Take a look at the list. Notice anything wrong? Either the writer just got used to typing the word “Yankees” over and over or Evan Longoria was just involved in some weird, mysterious trade. No need to panic Rays fans; Longoria is still in Tampa.
By the way, I hope everyone has a Happy 4th of July, despite the Phillies being a major bummer. This is one of my favorite photos that I have ever taken and it always makes me feel better:
Happy Independence Day!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schultz
The Phillies scored only 22 runs in the latter half of May, from the 18th to the 31st. But in the last 4 games, the Phillies have exploded to the tune of 31 runs. Today against the Twins, they scored 9 runs, had a 5-run lead in the 8th inning, and still lost the game.
The Phillies hit five home runs in the game. Here is a recap of the first four: The usual suspects, Ryan Howard and Werth, nailed two of those homers. Not as common was a blast from Raul Ibanez, who was on base three times. Even less common was a homer from Wilson Valdez, who had his only other big league homer in 2006. Yes, 4 years ago. If Valdez can smack a homer, then the stars must really be aligning for the Phillies, right? Maybe not…
Cole Hamels got off to a bad start in the first inning, giving up 3 runs. A passed ball by catcher Brian Schneider and a bad throw to second by Hamels added fuel to the fire. But the offense immediately picked Hamels back up by getting those 3 runs right back in the bottom of the inning. Chase Utley led the way with a 2-run triple and Jayson Werth hit a sac fly to score Utley.
Every starter in the game, including Hamels, had at least one hit today. On the mound, Hamels later allowed a solo home run to Justin Morneau and ended the day with 4 runs allowed over 7 innings. If you forget about the first inning mishap, Hamels had a great day.
But, as has been a common story line this year, the Phillies bullpen blew a FIVE run lead. In the 9th inning, former-Phil, Jim Thome hit a 2-run homer off Jose Contreras. As it was then a save situation, Brad Lidge was brought into the game. And Lidge proceeded to blow the save and the remaining 3-run lead. He gave up an RBI-single and a 2-run homer to Twins catcher, Joe Mauer.
With a 9-9 tied game in the bottom of the 9th, the Phils got 2 hits but still failed to score and win the game. Howard and Werth both struck out. Chad Durbin came in for the 10th inning and as soon as I saw him on the mound, I thought, “Oh crap, he is going to give up a homer to the first batter.” Why do I think this? Because he has done it many times in the exact same situation. How many times, I do not know except to say that I have nightmares about it. Sure enough, 1st batter: homer.
The inning ended with a tag out at the plate, which normally would have been very exciting. But at that point, who cares? The Phillies are losing 9-10 with the bottom of the batting order coming up. Do you think Valdez can hit his 3rd homer in 4 years to win the game? No? Neither do I…
Valdez did not get a chance. Greg Dobbs popped out, Schneider grounded out and Ross Gload pinch hit for Valdez. Now, Gload did a homer with 2 outs to tie the game again. But again, no need to get excited because Danys Baez was going to pitch the 11th inning. Baez has been awful and today did not change that. He gave up THREE runs in the 11th just to make sure the Phillies had NO chance at a win.
The Phillies went down in the 11th. It was a pathetic end to a pathetic loss. The final score was 10-13 and the Phils now have one game left against the Twins. If Roy Halladay can get back on his game after allowing 6 runs in his last outing, the Phils could maybe salvage a series win. Game time is 1:35pm and I will return with photos.
In other news, Carlos Ruiz will get a few days off after being nailed in the head with a broken bat while behind the plate yesterday. He will not need a trip to the DL, which is great news. Scott Mathieson was designated for assignment to make room for catcher Dane Sardinha who will back-up Schneider until Ruiz is healthy.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
On the verge of being swept in Boston, the Phillies would rely today on the arm of Cole Hamels. Much improved since last season, Hamels did not let his team down. Hamels pitched 7 strong innings against the Red Sox allowing just one run on 5 hits and 2 walks. Normally, Hamels fastball clocks in around 88-92mph but today, he was topping out at 96mph. The extra kick helped and he left the mound with his team in a good position to win the game.
But the Phillies offense would have to face knuckleballer Tim Wakefield again, who beat them up badly in Philly last month. Wakefield is an otherwise mediocre pitcher, but he certainly has the Phillies number. In the first inning, the Phils offensive woes continued as they loaded the bases with no outs but did not score. Ryan Howard hit a fly ball but Shane Victorino decided it was too close to tag and stayed at third. Then Jayson Werth hit into a double play to end the threat. Werth would later drop a fly ball in the outfield, adding to his woes.
In the 4th inning though, it looked like the Phils may have figured Wakefield out. They scored 4 runs on 2 doubles, 2 singles and a Raul Ibanez homer. But again, another double play, this time from Carlos Ruiz, ended the inning. The Phillies have certainly figured out how to shoot themselves in the foot recently.
Lucky for them, Hamels was spectacular and they went into the 8th inning with a 4-1 lead. Jose Contreras held the Sox down in the 8th, despite allowing 2 singles. In the 9th, Werth redeemed himself by walking and then stealing 2 bases. A sac fly from Ben Francisco scored Werth and gave the Phils a 5-1 lead.
But in their usual fashion, the Phillies made the 9th inning an adventure in a game they desperately needed to win. JC Romero gave up a double and later, Ruiz let a pitch sail past him to score a run for the Sox. Now in a save situation, Brad Lidge was brought in to finish the job. Lidge gave everyone a heart attack when he allowed another run, but did finally get out of the jam and save the game. The Phillies win, 5-3.
While the win today is a huge relief for the fast falling Phils, what ails them is clearly not past. The offense still sputtered in many situations where they should have scored and the bullpen began to look shaky again. Monday will be an off-day while the Phillies try to screw their heads on right before a 3-game series with their World Series rivals, the New York Yankees. Otherwise, the Yanks are going to feast on the failing Phils. Cross your fingers…
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Today’s Phillies – Marlins match-up was surrouned by all sorts of rookie news. The highly anticipated debut of the National’s Stephen Strasburg took place just up the road in DC. The right-handed pitcher signed a record $15.1 million contract last August and has been the most hyped prospect in decades. He lived up to the hype, pitching 7 innings, allowing 2 runs and striking out 14 batters, a club record. Very impressive, although he did pitch against the Pirates. The Nats will know more when he faces a tougher team, but even so, this kid looks like the real deal.
And for the Marlins, their big prospect, Mike Stanton, made his debut against the Phils. Stanton had a 3-hit night and scored twice. Needless to say, another sparkling debut for a team in the NL East.
Kyle Kendrick started for the Phils; watching him pitch this year in place of the still injured JA Happ has been an exercise in patience. Sometimes he looks good, like last week in Atlanta, and sometimes he is terrible. Today’s outing against the Marlins fell under the “terrible” category. Kendrick pitched only 5 innings and allowed 5 runs, plus he committed a throwing error which led to more runs for the Fish. Ryan Howard also committed an error in the game which put a runner on first. The next batter homered to drive that run in.
But bad pitching and sloppy defense was paired tonight with some actual hitting. Why the Phillies cannot seem to do all three of these things well all at the same time remains a mystery. Amidst Kendrick’s awful effort and 2 more runs allowed by the Phillies bullpen, the offense woke up and started to hit.
Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino both homered, Chase Utley got 2 hits in consecutive at-bats and Raul Ibanez had 4 hits and 2 RBI on the night. 4 hits? Where has this guy been all year? It’s about time…
Jayson Werth was benched to give him a chance to recover from an awful 10 at-bat hitless streak. Ben Francisco filled in and did not do much better early on. After many sloppy adventures in the outfield and grounding into 2 double plays, one of which cost them a run, Francisco made up for it all with a 2 RBI single in the 9th to give the Phillies a 9-8 lead. Wilson Valdez followed up with a single tricked up the 3rd base line to score another run.
Brad Lidge had another chance at a save with the 10-8 lead. With two outs, Lidge found himself in hot water as the loaded the bases after a close call at second base did not go the Phillies way. But no worries, he popped up the next batter and notched save #3 on the year.
By the way, this is the 3rd time this year that Kendrick has started a game and Jose Contreras got the win. Even after giving up the go-ahead run, Contreras still came out on top; Kyle must be wondering why Jose keeps stealing his thunder.
Tomorrow will be a rematch of the Roy Halladay perfect game on May 29th in Miami. Same team, same two pitchers; Halladay faces Josh Johnson again. Hopefully, same result ;o) Game time is 7:05pm.
By the way, is it just me, or does Cody Ross of the Marlins look a bit like Chucky? Creepy…
Francisco head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography
While it was far from perfection from Roy Halladay last night in his first start since pitching the Perfect Game, he was effective. Halladay allowed just 2 runs on 10 hits over 7 innings. He worked in and out of several jams with multiple base runners against a very good Padres team to keep the Phillies in the game.
Halladay even helped himself out at the plate, knocking a 1 out single in the 3rd that led to Shane Victorino’s 2-run homer. With the Phillies offense still struggling, those two hits turned out to be a big key in winning the game. Jayson Werth collected the 3rd RBI in the 3-2 win by walking with the bases loaded in the 5th inning. Of course, the Phillies offense also left the bases loaded twice and as a team, left 9 men on base.
The lack of scoring was again highlighted in the 8th inning when Jose Contreras hit a batter and then issued a walk. JC Romero was brought in to stop the bleeding and began by walking the next batter to load the bases with 1 out. But it was JC’s birthday, and his present to himself was getting a ground ball double play to end the inning. Happy Birthday, JC!
The real highlight of the evening, however, was Brad Lidge. In his first save opportunity since coming off the DL for the second time this year, Lidge looked like Mr. Perfect from 2008. Lidge mowed down the Padres in order with a nasty slider and good movement on his fastball. His speed clocked in at 94mph on a few pitches. Is this a sign that all is now well with Lidge? Cross your fingers…
Game 2 against the Padres is tonight at 7:05pm. Jamie Moyer will pitch against Jon Garland.
By the way, have you seen the new player-designed apparel at the Phillies MLB Shop? If you have not, be sure to check it out. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Cole Hamels and Raul Ibanez all designed jerseys, tee-shirts and hats for the new collection. Here is a sample of what they designed:
Other teams got into the action as well, so if you are a fan of another team (although I find that hard to imagine ;o), check out their MLB Shop site too. I believe the Mets, Yankees and Twins also participated. Hey, if it is cool looking, maybe I’ll pick up a Mets jersey….or, not. ;o)
And do not forget to keep VOTING for your Phillies All-Stars! Vote up to 25 times per day, per email address.
Lidge photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; apparel by MLB.com
Spiraling deeper into one of the worst slumps in recent history, the Phillies capped of a horrible road trip today by getting swept by the Braves in a 3-game series.
They were also swept by the Mets in this same road trip, which ended with a record of 2 wins and 7 losses. The Phillies look so bad, it appears they are standing in quick sand; the harder they struggle, the deeper they become buried in the abyss.
When I saw Chase Utley ground into a double play today with 1 out and the bases loaded, I knew this may be a sign of the apocalypse. Utley normally waits until he sees a strike to swing, but in this instance, he swung at ball 2 and murdered a potential game winning inning. Utley is not the type of player who does this, but in his last 7 games and 26 at-bats, he has only 3 hits.
Basically the same thing can be said for the entire team; but how does an entire team go into a slump all at once? I had once thought this was impossible; someone must be hitting, right? Nope. They have scored only 14 runs in their last 11 games after leading the entire league in runs scored.
Plus, good pitching has gone to waste, like today with Kyle Kendrick who did an outstanding job. Maybe Jose Contreras does not like Kendrick, because the only two games he has lost all year have been started by Kendrick. With a 1-1 tie, Contreras gave up a run and the game. And all that after poor Kyle pitched 7 innings of 1 run ball.
The Phillies have a day off tomorrow to try and figure out what ails them. If they come back on Friday and score a bunch of runs, ok fine. But if they flop again, I do believe it will officially be time to panic. Here are just a few suggestions to the Phillies for their off-day in order to relax and loosen things up a bit:
1 – Go to the zoo and pet something furry; just make sure it is not Jayson Werth before you do. If you are Jayson Werth, what can I say…feel free.
2 – Find Howard Eskin and punch him in the face; you know you want to.
3 – See how many marshmallows you can fit in your mouth at one time.
4 – Pick up a Sports Illustrated and draw devil horns on players of other teams.
5 – Stand in front of the ballpark and then ask people for directions to the ballpark.
6 – Call Larry Bowa and ask him to cuss you out. That always makes me giggle so it is worth a try.
7 – Dance naked in my front yard…call me for directions. Remember, I am always here for you guys ;o)
8 – Skip numbers 1-6 and go straight to #7. I promise, you will feel better.
There you go; a recipe for success. Now go win some freaking games already! Thank you.
Head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography
Odds were good that the Phillies would have to bust out of this major slump at some point. Today against the Marlins, they finally scored for the first time since the 9th inning against the Red Sox on Sunday…5 days ago. In the 4th inning against the Fish, a Ryan Howard single followed by a Raul Ibanez triple ended the drought. Whew!
Of course, 3 strike-outs followed the Ibanez RBI, leaving him stranded on 3rd, making fans wonder if the one run was a fluke. But the offense kept creeping back to life, scoring one run each in the 5th and 7th innings. Chase Utley manufactured a run by walking, then stealing 2nd base, allowing him to score on another Howard single. Utley later grounded out to score a runner from 3rd base.
Manager Charlie Manuel moved the line-up around a bit, giving Jayson Werth and Placido Polanco the day off. Ross Gload and Greg Dobbs filled in; Gload went 1 for 4 and Dobbs was hitless. Polanco is still having elbow issues after being hit with a pitch at the start of the season. Hopefully, a little rest will get him back into the lineup.
As for starter Kyle Kendrick, he pitched very well. His fielding, however, was not great and cost him the only 2 runs he allowed. With 2 outs and 2 men on in the 3rd, Hanley Ramirez hit an easy ground ball to Kendrick who drilled the ball into the ground trying to throw to first. Just as it looked like he was out of the inning, 2 runs crossed the plate on the error.
Both runs were unearned and Kendrick wound up going 6 innings without additional incident. Overall, it was a quality start. Chad Durbin and Danys Baez got through the next two innings fairly easily. Jose Contreras came in for the 9th and got into trouble, allowing back-to-back singles with one out. He struck out Cody Ross next and then Ronnie Paulino popped up to end the game.
So, with a little help, Kendrick beats the Fish and Contreras collected the save. And the Phillies finally put an end to the 5-game losing streak. Can I get one more big SIGH of relief….whew! Game 2 in Miami is tomorrow at 7:10pm with Roy Halladay on the mound.
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
After the sluggish bats the last few games, seeing the Phillies score 5 runs today was a huge relief. And seeing Jimmy Rollins, still fresh off the DL, smack a huge 3-run homer was an even bigger relief. It is good to have J-Roll back!
Joe Blanton looked very good through 6 innings, although he started to get beat up in the 7th inning where he loaded the bases and allowed 2 runs. Blanton allowed a total of 3 runs on 5 hits and a walk. Overall, he did a very good job.
But Blanton still did not get the win as the Cubs tied the game up when Antonio Bastardo gave up a homer in the 8th to Kosuke Fukudome. The 4-4 tie was broken up by Raul Ibanez in the bottom of the 8th. Chase Utley used his speed to score from 2nd on the Ibanez single.
Jose Contreras earned the save, although it was an interesting 9th inning for him. After throwing 10 pitches to Alfonso Soriano who kept fouling them off, Contreras finally hit him with pitch #11. The next batter singled, putting Contreras in a 1st and 3rd no out jam. But he struck out the next two batters and popped up the third to seal the 5-4 win for the Phillies.
So now the real fun begins: Interleague play. And while the 3-game series with the Red Sox is really just a short interlude to the full interleague schedule that will go full force on June 11th for the Phils, this weekend will still be very interesting. The Sox have struggled this year and are lingering down in 4th place in the AL East. And the Phillies have been very, very bad in Interleague play over the last several years. So will the curse of Phillies Interleague play endure or are the struggling Sox the spell breaker? Game 1 starts tomorrow at 7:05pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
An explosion of hitting broke out in Milwaukee this weekend. The Phillies beat the Brewers both Friday and Saturday by wide margins with a lot of help from the offense. In these last 2 games, Phillies hitters pounded out 28 hits and 19 runs, including 4 home runs. The biggest bang came from Shane Victorino who collected 6 hits and 7 RBI in the two games combined. And today, Paul Hoover, the 3rd string catcher, showed what he can do with 3 hits and 2 RBI to back pitcher Joe Blanton.
The pitching was not as stellar as the hitting, but both Jamie Moyer and Blanton hung in there.
On Friday in a 9-5 win, Moyer went 6 1/3 innings allowing 4 earned runs and 1 unearned following last week’s historical complete game shut-out. It was 70’s night at the park and the 47-year old Moyer looked quite at home in the old powder blue & magenta retro uniform.
Blanton escaped the embarrassing powder blue spotlight by pitching today in the regular greys, but it did not help his performance at all. He did well through 6 innings, allowing just 2 solo homers, but by the end of the 6th, he looked tired. Blanton has just 3 starts so far as he was on the DL the first month of the season. With that in mind, maybe the Phillies needed to break him in a tad slower? Because when they sent him out for the 7th, he gave up 3 more runs.
The bullpen held the Brewers down on Friday and had a fairly easy time closing the game out. That did not happen today. David Herndon allowed 3 hits and a run in just 1/3 of the 9th inning. With 2 men on base, Jose Contreras came in and loaded the bases, bringing the tying run to the plate. But that’s ok, he struck out the next 2 batters for the first save of career and the Phillies won, 10-6. Whew!
The Phillies have one more game with the Brewers tomorrow night at 8:05pm and are hoping for a sweep. Cole Hamels will pitch.
And in case you had not heard, Pat Burrell was released by the Tampa Bay Rays today. Burrell did not fare well as a designated hitter, batting only .218 since he left the Phillies after the 2008 season. Do not look for the Phillies to do him any favors by taking him back; he cannot play the field effectively anymore and our current bench players are performing well. Maybe in September they can bring him back to retire as a Phillie? In the meantime, I wish him luck in finding a job. Burrell will always be remembered in Philly for helping to bring us a World Championship :O)
UPDATE: This just in…Brad Lidge has been put on the DL with elbow inflammation (can I say now I told you so?). Lefty Antonio Bastardo will be brought back up to take his place on the roster.
Moyer photo by ESPN; Explosion: USDOE
The first game of this Phillies – Rockies series got off to a good start thanks to some heavy hitting in the 9th. The game remained close for the first 8 innings, with Kyle Kendrick allowing 4 runs on 8 hits and 2 walks through 6 of those. Kendrick struggled to get that far and has still not been able to show any consistency in his starting role after a very good game his last time out.
But Shane Victorino and Carlos Ruiz were not going to allow those 4 runs to ruin the day. Victorino did an amazing job in the lead-off spot, reaching base 5 out of 6 at-bats with 2 triples and 3 walks. Ruiz went 4 for 5 in the game with 2 RBI, one of which was a solo homer to give the Phillies a lead.
JC Romero pitched 1/3 of the 7th inning and tied the game up again by allowing 1 run on 2 hits and a walk. David Herndon finished the inning, getting some help from Chase Utley who turned an amazing double play. Utley dove for the ball and tossed it to Wilson Valdez from the ground using only his glove. Valdez relayed to 1st and ended the inning.
Speaking of Valdez, this kid is really struggling at the plate. As the back-up to the back-up at short-stop, he has hit into a double play in each of the last 4 games, killing rallies everywhere he goes. In this game, he went 0-4 and is now batting .152. So, where is Juan Castro? He has been out nursing a minor calf injury and last played on May 5th, until he came in last night for defense in the 9th. I guess being put in for 1 inning last night is a good sign, but he had better be backing in hitting shape soon because Valdez is not getting it done.
So the 9th inning for the Phillies turned into a big rally to help cap off the win. Ryan Howard got hit with a pitch to start it off and the Rockies later intentionally walked Raul Ibanez. The super-hot Ruiz stepped up and whacked a single to break the 5-5 tie as Howard scored. Then to put the exclamation mark on the evening, Ross Gload nailed a pinch-hit 3-run homer to give the Phillies the 9-5 win.
Jose Contreras closed the game in the bottom of the 9th. Brad Lidge was unavailable due to soreness in his elbow…again. He just came off the DL and is already having issues in the same elbow that was surgically repaired in the off-season. This is not a good sign. Could it be a foretelling of things to come? Let us hope not.
The Phillies will send Roy Halladay to the mound tonight in game 2 of the series. Game time is 8:40pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography