Results tagged ‘ Juan Castro ’

Doubleheader, Injuries and Sign Stealing Mania

After the Phillies – Rockies rain out on Tuesday, a day-night doubleheader was scheduled today and things did not go well for the Phils.  First, the Roy Halladay magic fizzled a bit in the 4-3 loss.  Second, the injuries are continuing to pile up.  The game going into extra innings did not help either.

Catcher Carlos Ruiz left the game in the 4th inning with a right knee injury.  Back-up Brian Schneider is already on the DL, which means the Phillies are now onto their 3rd string catcher, Paul Hoover.  Not only that, but now he will have to play both games of the double header.  The Phillies are also short one spot in the bullpen as Brad Lidge flew back to Philadelphia to see the team doctor about his eternally injured elbow.  This is more tragic news for a doubleheader during which the first game went long.


P4057301.jpgHalladay could not save the bullpen for the second game as he struggled to get through 6 1/3 innings.  10 hits and 3 runs later (2 earned), Halladay was pulled from the game.  The biggest nightmare for the Phillies was Rockies catcher Miguel Olivo.  This guy is a career .242 hitter, batting .240 coming into this game.  Can someone then explain to me HOW Olivo goes 5 for 5 with the game winning walk-off homer in the 10th inning?  Wow.

The defense did Halladay no favors by committing 3 errors in the field, although I think the scorekeeper only recorded two.  Give the scorekeeper an error too then; why should he miss out on the fun?  So, Chase Utley watched a ball roll right under his glove, which must have a hole in it.  Jayson Werth bobbled a ball in the outfield…twice in the same play.  And Ryan Howard bounced a ball to second, which should have been handled by Wilson Valdez but wasn’t.

Then again, Utley, Howard and Valdez made up almost the entire offense for the Phillies with 3,3 and 2 hits respectively.  Placido Polanco had 2 hits in the game and no errors, so I guess he gets two thumbs up for the day.

So the series is now tied 1-1 and game 3 will begin at 8:40pm.  The Phillies will rely on Jamie Moyer, who pitched a complete game shut-out in his last game.  They will need him to go long in order to preserve the weak bullpen.

Stealing Signs

There has been a big to-do today over the allegations that the Phillies are stealing signs from opposing catchers.  The Rockies complained about it after Monday’s loss, saying that bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer was using binoculars during the 2nd inning and Shane Victorino was on the bullpen phone.  MLB has issued a “warning,” stating that there was no conclusive evidence.


Sign Stealing.jpgAccording to Victorino, he called to tell Billmeyer to put the binoculars away after the Rockies complained and manager Charlie Manuel spoke to the umpire.  You can see this does match the sequence of the events on the game tape.  Billmeyer uses the binoculars to watch the action and check on his catchers.

So, answer me this.  HOW is Billmeyer supposed to relay the signs in a split second all the way from the bullpen to the batter?  It is impossible.  Think about how fast things go from giving a sign to throwing the pitch.  The batter doesn’t have time to look to the dugout for a sign once he is in the box.  Again, it is impossible.  Billmeyer was likely watching the opposition in order to scout the pitcher; the same thing he can do by watching the video after the game, only doing it during the game is a time saver.

Besides, are some baseball fans and the media really convinced that no one tries to steal signs?  If so, they are delusional.  I really don’t care who steals signs.  It is a competition and teams will take any advantage they can get.  Trying to figure out what the opposing team is going to do is part of the game. 

A guy standing on second can read the signs from the catcher and relay it to the batter.  No one complains about this.  Base coaches use stop watches to time pitchers in order to gain an advantage for stealing bases.  No one complains about this either.  A-Rod yells for a pop-up when he is running the bases, not fielding.  Ok, so people did complain about that one…

But if teams are so concerned about the sign stealing, then they need to do a better job preparing and coming up with signs that are difficult to figure out or that change frequently.  Or, do like the Phillies have done in the past and change signs or don’t use them at all.  This is a matter of better managing your team and ensuring your pitchers and catchers are all on the same page.

In this case, there is no way the bullpen coach could have sent a sign fast enough to get to the batter.  Even if it was possible, whether it is a fast ball or a slider coming in, the batter still has to hit the ball.  Same as a runner trying to steal base; he still has to execute.  But it is not against the rules of baseball to steal signs by non-electronic means.  If people are unhappy about it, then the rules should be revised. 

So, should the Phillies now accuse the Rockies of stealing signs since they collected 10 hits off Roy Halladay?  Frankly, I do not care.  Kudos to the Rockies for hitting our ace and shame on them for whining about something that did not happen just because they were upset about losing the game.   This is a practice that has gone on for over a century amongst all MLB teams.  I think we all have better things to worry about; of course, that is just one gals humble opinion ;o)

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

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

 

9th Inning Rally In Colorado

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.


Thumbnail image for P2232834 Victorino.JPGBut 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

 

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

 

Kendrick: Zero To Hero


Kendrick hero.jpgIn tonight’s start against the Cardinals, Kyle Kendrick went from zero to hero.  Kendrick pitched well in Spring Training, but since the season began he has had just one good start.  After a clean 7 innings today with no runs, 6 hits and 2 walks, can this Superhero hold onto his cape?  Or will Kendrick morph into an evil villain for his next start?

Consistency is the key.  Right now, Kendrick is a one-hit wonder.  He is going to need to repeat this success next time out if the Phillies are going to buy into the Superhero façade.

The offense gave Kendrick some runs to work with, but they did not start churning them out until the 4th inning.  Placido Polanco smashed a 2-run homer and Shane Victorino hit a solo shot in the 6th.  Their 4th run came after Juan Castro singled and Greg Dobbs drove in Wilson Valdez, the pinch runner, with a long double.  The bad news is, Castro limped off the field and that is why Valdez was put in.  No word yet on how serious the injury may be, but it appears to be a hamstring strain.

After the 7th inning, the game was left to the Phillies bullpen.  The pen has not been good so far this year.  Danys Baez pitched a clean 8th and Jose Contreras was handed the 9th.  With his mother in the stands whom he had not seen since 2003, Contreras had some inspiration.  They had been separated since Contreras defected from Cuba and until this home stand, she had never seen her son play in person.

So it was a special night for Contreras, being able to close out the game, and he rose to the occasion.  He sent the Cards down in order to hand the 4-0 shut-out victory to the Phillies.  It was also Kendrick’s first win of the year.

It will be a quick turn-around for the Phillies as tomorrow’s 4-game finale starts at 1:05pm.  Roy Halladay will face ex-Phillie Kyle Loshe.  Halladay will be pitching for a series win and his 6th individual win of the season. 

 

Head shot by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

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

 

Hamels Is Back In Win Over Cards

Could the Cole Hamels of 2008 really be back?  In his start tonight against the Cardinals, it certainly looked like it.  Hamels pitched 8 innings of shut-out ball, even getting out of a bases-loaded jam against the amazing Albert Pujols. 
Hamels angel.jpg
Well, at least for today, Hamels has earned his wings back.  The real test will be his next start and whether or not he can show consistency and repeat an outstanding performance. 

Hamels had to be outstanding as the Cards pitcher was equally as impressive.  The Phillies managed to squeeze out one run against Adam Wainwright.  After a Raul Ibanez triple, Carlos Ruiz hit a long sac fly to score the only run of the game.  And Jayson Werth was able to extend his streak of reaching base safely in every game this year, which has not been done by a Phillie since 1920.

However, the 9th inning took an interesting turn.  Hamels was primed and ready to close out this ballgame himself when a fan did the unthinkable in such an important and tense situation.  Another idiot ran onto the field for the second day in a row to delay the start of the inning and it threw Hamels right off his game.  Hamels had to throw warm-up pitches while he waited for the moron to be dealt with.  By the time he got started with the real pitches, Hamels allowed two doubles in a row to tie up the game 1-1.

I hope the Philly police tasered this guy too.  And maybe later, the real fans can all get together and plan a proper tar and feathering for this bonehead.  This behavior is just shameful and gives the good fans a bad rap.

So Hamels was pulled without recording an out in the 9th and the Phillies would have to rely on Brad Lidge to maintain the 1-1 tie.  Lidge actually got the job done, putting to rest questions about how he would perform after a long stint on the DL.  On to the bottom of the 9th…

Ryan Howard walked, which is awesome.  But Werth struck out on a very bad pitch…not awesome.  Ibanez flew out to center and then Juan Castro stepped to the plate.  Castro was not good tonight at the plate; he was 0-3 at this point, having grounded into a double play and leaving 4 men on base.  Well, make it 0 for 4 as he grounded out to send the game into extra innings.


1 Pre-game.jpgBut just when things were looking dreary, thank goodness for CHOOOOCH!!!  Carlos Ruiz popped a wall-off homer to center to win it in the 10th!  Whooo Hooo!!!!  Shane Victorino and Greg Dobbs put the exclamation mark on the evening with double shaving cream pies to the face of Ruiz.  :O)

Game 3 with the Cardinals starts tomorrow night at 7:05pm.  Kyle Kendrick will be pitching for his Major League life.  If he has another horrible outing, the Phillies may be forced to look for another solution.  Cross your fingers!

Here is a quick injury update:  Ryan Madson and his self-inflicted broken toe will be out for a minimum of 2 months.  The break was so bad, the doctor had to operate and insert pins to stabilize the fracture.  For a bullpen that is already in bad shape, this is not good.  Starter JA Happ is also not expected back very soon; it will be the end of May at the earliest.  Same goes for Jimmy Rollins.  May should be another interesting month.

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

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

 

A Wild Win In The West

The Phillies started tonight’s game with the hope of winning and avoiding a 3-game sweep at the hands of the Giants.  More than once, it looked like the Phils were going down in flames.  And more than once, it looked like they might pull it out.  It is hard to believe how it all went down:  

The game stayed very close until the 6th inning when pitcher Cole Hamels fell apart.  Having pitched very well through 5 innings, striking out 10 batters and allowing just 1 run, seeing him self-destruct in the 6th was hugely disappointing.

Hamels had the bases loaded and 2 outs and walked a run home.  Any good pitcher in this situation, 2-outs, bases loaded and a full count, has to be able to throw a strike.  The walk gave the Giants 2-1 lead and all the momentum.  The next batter whacked a single to right, which scored 2 more runs and nearly sentenced the Phillies to a 3-game sweep.


Game 3 Aug 1 (28)a.jpgBecause the Phillies offense has been completely non-existent recently, you had to figure there was no way they could climb out of the 1-4 hole against back-to-back Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum.  In fact, if you skipped the next 2 innings, you did not miss anything.  Well, except maybe some additional humiliation imparted upon the Phils by Lincecum.

Ryan Howard hit him hard twice, once for a homer and once for a double. The only other hit for the Phillies off Lincecum was a blooper into right from Placido Polanco.  Do not even worry about men left on base for this one through 8 innings; they didn’t have anyone on base to leave there.

But after Lincecum walked a batter with 1 out in the 9th, the Giants put in their closer, Brian Wilson. 
A Pre-game warmups (6).jpg
This move helped out Chase Utley as he knocked a single for the 1,000 hit of his career.  Congrats to Chase! 

But Utley was not the only one to benefit from this bonehead move.  The Phillies loaded the bases with 2 outs and Wilson on the mound.  Jayson Werth stepped to the plate and smashed a 3-run double to right to tie the game up at 4-4!  Giants fans got real quiet, real fast.

But hey, no worries for the Giants, right?  Because the Phillies went ahead and countered that bonehead move with one of their own.  That’s right, we’ll see your Brian Wilson and raise you Ryan Madson.  In save situations, Madson has not been good…at all.  Despite that fact, Madson pitched the 10th inning after the Phillies had finally taken the lead by a score of 5-4 on a wild pitch.  And what does Madson do?  Well, I figure maybe he felt bad for Wilson blowing the save for the Giants so he went ahead and blew the save for the Phillies.  Nice of him to share the humiliation.

So it was on to the 11th inning with a 5-5 tie.  Raul Ibanez started the inning off with a single and moved up to 2nd on a sac bunt.  Our back-up, back-up short stop, Wilson Valdez, doubled to score him on a ball that bounced off the outfield wall just over the head of left fielder Eugenio Velez.  And the adventure for Velez did not end there.  Shane Victorino hit a routine fly ball to him, but Velez one-handed the catch and the ball bounced off his glove, allowing an insurance run to score for the Phils.  Can you say “embarrassing?”  Ouch.

Now the Phillies have a 7-5 lead and send sometimes bullpen guy, sometimes starter, Nelson Figueroa to the mound.  He can now add sometimes closer to his resume…although the save did not come easy.  Juan Uribe wound up with a single on a hit ball that ricocheted off Figueroa’s leg, allowing a runner to advance to 3rd.  That runner then scored when the next batter doubled.  The lead was down to one run with 1 out in the inning and runners on 2nd and 3rd.

Velez, still not done with his extra innings adventure, hit into a fielder’s choice which Ryan Howard fielded and threw home to get Uribe out at the plate.  Catcher Brian Schneider did an amazing job blocking the plate with his glove and Uribe basically tagged himself out.  The next batter grounded out to end the game and Figueroa picks up the first save of his career.  Unbelievable.

This win gave the Phillies 4 wins and 5 losses on this road trip; certainly not great, but it could have been worse.  The Phillies have the day off tomorrow to prepare for the 3-game home series against the Mets.  And now, I need a Valium…whew!

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Missing: Phillies Bats


missing bats.jpgLast seen on April 16, 2010 in Philadelphia, PA, the Phillies bats have mysteriously gone missing.  Weighing around 33 ounces and measuring about 40 inches in length, these large wooden sticks may be seen in either a tan or black color with the “Phillies” name engraved in them.  If you happen to see these missing bats, please notify authorities at 1-888-WECANTHIT.

The Phillies have gone from the best offense in the league during the first 10 days of the season to one of the worst.  Where, oh where, have those little bats gone?  Even a very hittable pitcher with an 8.16 ERA like the Giants Todd Wellemeyer could not cure the slump.  The Phils managed only 2 runs in the game and went only 1 for 5 with runners in scoring position.

Ryan Howard had two hits in the game, but one was spoiled as he did not hustle on his way to second, did not slide and got tagged out in an embarrassing play. For the rest of the starters only Chase Utley and Jayson Werth had a hit with Raul Ibanez picking up an RBI on a sacrifice. The rest of the evening was more of the same: nothing.

There was one spectacular defensive play in the game; Juan Castro and Utley turned a double play like you have probably never seen before.  Castro dove for a ball that was ready to scoot past him up the middle, but he snagged it and in the same motion, while lying on the ground, he tossed the ball with his glove up to Utley.  Utley barehanded the ball and threw to first in time for the second out.  Amazing.

But sadly, that was the end of the “amazing” for the day.  Jamie Moyer did what we normally expect of him and allowed 4 runs on 10 hits over 6 innings.  Chad Durbin gave the Giants two more insurance runs in the 7th inning on a walk and 2 hits.  Last time out, Durbin was great.  We just never know what to expect from this bullpen.  Although, JC Romero did come back strong from his last outing and pitched a scoreless, hitless 8th inning.

But the pitching did not really matter; with no offense, they cannot be expected to win.  And having to face Tim Lincecum this afternoon is not going to help bust the slump either.  The Phillies dropped out of first place for the first time this year with no signs of improvement on the horizon.  Look for a sweep by the Giants in San Francisco today…bust out your sense of humor.  You will need it.

 

Photoshopping by Jenn

 

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

 

 

The See-Saw Ride From Hell

Have you ever noticed how a player on your favorite team seems like an Angel in the right uniform?  
Rodrigo Lopez.jpg
But when he goes to another team, he becomes the Devil.  Such is the case with Rodrigo Lopez who pitched for the Phillies last year and went to the Diamondbacks for 2010.  Lopez started the game against the Phillies today and pitched 6 innings, allowing 6 runs.  So, while we thank him for the 6 runs, sadly, he would only have earned his wings back if he gave us about 15 runs.

Because it looked like the Phillies were going to need 15 runs to win this one.  Kyle Kendrick started out pitching really well, but that only lasted 4 innings.  By the 5th, Kendrick had returned to his old ways, leaving balls way up in the hitter’s happy-zones and before you knew it, 5 runs had crossed the plate.  Kendrick was pulled after 5 innings and his outing turned into a huge disappointment.

The offense tried to keep pace and by the top of the 6th, they had gone ahead of the D-Backs by a score of 6-5.  Greg Dobbs hit a 2-run homer in the first, Ross Gload had 2 hits and an RBI and Carlos Ruiz gave them the lead with a 2-out, 2-run single. 

The line-up tonight was a bit odd, with Gload and Dobbs in the 1 & 2 spots and Wilson Valdez at short stop.   Juan Castro is still nursing a sore hamstring;  Shane Victorino sat in order to re-group as he has not been hitting lately; and Dobbs took 3rd base for Placido Polanco.  Polly has not looked the same since getting hit in the elbow with a pitch.

So if the Phillies were going to pull out a series win, they were going to have to depend on the back-up players and also hope that the pitching would hold up.  The back-ups did their job; the pitchers did not.

After Kendrick’s disastrous 5th inning, Danys Baez could not hold the lead.  He gave up 1 run in the 7th to tie the game at 6-6.  David Herdon got into trouble in the 8th; with no outs, Raul Ibanez threw a runner out going home and Ruiz held onto the ball for the out.  Herndon got a second chance, but he blew it.  A 1-out double scored the go-ahead run and then the hits kept coming.  By the end of the inning, the Phillies were down by a score of 6-8 and only 1 inning left to get back in it.

And as expected with this suddenly unpredictable offense, the Phillies fell short in the 9th and went down 6-8.  Having lost this series 1 game to 2, the Phillies have a lot of issues to address, not the least of which is starting pitching.  One man does not a rotation make and Roy Halladay can only win 1 game every five days.   Kendrick and Cole Hamels need to get their act together…fast.  Joe Blanton and JA Happ had better get well soon and Jamie Moyer is holding his own in the 5th spot.

see-saw ride.jpgAn even bigger issue is the bullpen; their performance has varied from inconsistent to just plain awful.  A lot of the pen pitchers, like Baez, seem to have a one game on, one game off thing going on.  It is like the see-saw ride from hell.  You just never know which end is going to be up or down and when.

And now the Phillies are heading to San Francisco to face the Giants red-hot pitching staff.  With all the injuries and inconsistent performances, the Phillies may be headed into big, big trouble.  And Trouble is called Jonathan Sanchez and Tim “I have 2 Cy Youngs” Lincecum.  The first game of the series starts tomorrow at 10:15pm.  Bust out the bottle of Tums; this is going to be interesting.

 

Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography except Lopez as a D-Back; MLB.com

 

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

 

A Werth-Y Win

The big question going into tonight’s Phillies – Diamondbacks match-up was how spot-starter Nelson Figueroa was going to fare.  Overall, he did a great job.  Although he had quite a few base runners and ran some deep counts, Figueroa mostly did very well, allowing just 2 runs in 5 innings.  Considering he was not very stretched out having been in the bullpen, Figueroa gave an excellent effort.

Another question mark lately has been the Phillies offense which went from red-hot during the first 10 games of the season to stone-cold this past week.  In fact, the only two bats that showed up today were Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez.  Werth hit two monster home runs to centerfield; one came in the 2nd inning and the other gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead in the 9th.  Werth also made two great catches in the outfield and collected his first assist of the year, throwing a runner out at second.

Ibanez hit a home run in the 7th to tie the game up; it was his first home run of the year.  Ibanez has been struggling so far this season but finally looks like he may break out of the slump.  He also singled in the 9th, bringing his average up above the Mendoza line at .222.

Right after the Ibanez homer, Wilson Valdez stepped to the plate in place of Juan Castro and Phillies fans everywhere started to get that all too familiar twinge of panic.  Castro has been outstanding in place of the injured Jimmy Rollins and there was no apparent reason to pull him out early.  It was announced shortly after that Castro is suffering from mild left hamstring soreness.


Phillies MASH.jpgThis Phillies team is beginning to resemble a MASH unit instead of a ball club.  The constant flow of injuries is alarming.  They are already down 2 starting pitchers, 1 closer and a short stop.  If Castro is really hurt and they are forced to go to the 3rd string short stop in Valdez, this could get ugly.  Cross your fingers…

So, the bullpen had to keep the game close tonight as Figueroa was done in after the 5th inning.  Chad Durbin was spectacular in 2 innings where he struck out 3 and allowed only 1 hit and no runs.  Jose Contreras also struck out 3 in the 8th and the Ryan Madson came in for the 9th.  Madson has not looked great as the team’s closer in place of the injured Brad Lidge, but tonight with a 1-run lead, he redeemed himself.  He allowed 1 hit, no runs and struck out two for his 4th save of the year.

The 3-2 win tonight ties up the series in Arizona.  The Phillies will send Kyle Kendrick to the mound tomorrow in search of his first win this year.  Game time is 4:10pm.  Go Phillies!

 

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*

 

Phillies Win Series In Atlanta

Two old dudes battled it out tonight in Atlanta; the Braves Derek Lowe, 36, and the Phillies Jamie Moyer, 47.  When I say I old, I am talking in baseball terms, of course.  Jamie Moyer2.jpgThe elder Moyer out-dueled Lowe allowing just 4 hits and no earned runs in 6 innings.  Lowe fell victim to the powerful Phillies offense which ran him out of the game after only 5 innings and racked up 5 runs.

Moyer continues to amaze and defy the laws of time with every victory.  And tonight, he did something I had never seen before; in the 2nd inning, he hit the Braves rookie Jason Heyward with a pitch.  That was not the fun part though.  As the ball left Moyer’s hand, you could hear him yell to Heyward, “Look out!” as the pitch ran too far inside.  Moyer is a true gentleman.  Of course, the ball was only travelling about 74 mph so I think Heyward will be okay ;o)

The defense behind Moyer was pretty good, although Chase Utley did have one adventurous inning.  Right after announcer Tom McCarthy commented on how much Utley has improved and that he has a shot at a Gold Glove one day, Utley’s ears must have been burning because he committed two errors in the 5th inning. 

While trying to turn a double play, Utley bobbled the feed from Juan Castro, dropped the ball twice and a run scored.  The very next play, he tried another double play but threw the ball wide to 1st, which flew past Ryan Howard and allowed another run to score.  So it is official; no one is allowed to talk about Gold Gloves in relation to Utley for the rest of the year.  Clearly, it was a jinx.

Utley’s offense has not been affected by a jinx though, as he has now reached base safely in every game so far this year.  He had one hit and 2 walks tonight.  Greg Dobbs did a great job filling in for Placido Polanco; he went 2 for 3.  Castro went 3 for 5 and had 1 RBI, making it 5 for 8 from the back-up starters.

Actually, the only other jinx I can see for this team is the bullpen, which has been fairly awful.  Roy Halladay avoided that jinx yesterday by pitching all 9 innings himself.  Moyer only went 6, which is about average from him so sadly, the pen had to be counted on.  Chad Durbin worked his way into a bases loaded jam with 1 out in the 7th and then ran a 3-0 count to the next batter.  Fans everywhere had to be saying, “Oh crap…here we go again…”

Durbin got a sac fly out of that one and thanks to the Braves generosity in swinging at balls, he escaped the inning having allowed just the one run.  But there was no one exhaling just yet.  The Phillies had an 8-3 lead, but still 2 more innings of scary bullpen work to get through.

This bullpen could totally blow a 5-run lead….I have seen it happen.  But tonight, Danys Baez rebounded from his last disastrous outing and got through the 8th inning with no damage.  In the 9th, rookie David Herndon pitched and things got hairy with a few base runners.  But Herdon worked through it and the Phillies won, 8-3.

JC & Happ.jpg
There was a bit of bad news today before the game began; pitcher JA Happ has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 16th.  The left forearm strain that was revealed after an MRI is apparently a bigger issue than the Phillies first anticipated.  Nelson Figueroa will take Happ’s place in the starting rotation for now and his spot in the bullpen will be taken over by JC Romero, who was removed from the DL today.  Welcome back, JC!  We missed you!

So it is a bit of good news with a bit of bad news.  As for 3rd baseman, Placido Polanco, he was left out of the line-up tonight after being hit by a pitch in the elbow yesterday.  Polanco told the media today that he should be ready to play again tomorrow night.  Assuming this is the case, that is very good news.  Losing another starter right now could be a small disaster.

And yes, it is already that time again…All Star Voting.  Why they start this so early in the season always puzzles me, but nonetheless, VOTING began yesterday.  Let’s get a head start; VOTE for your Phillies today!

homer earth day.jpg
And Happy Earth Day everyone!  Remember to recycle and conserve energy…for Phillies fans, that might mean drinking a beer from a recycled can and lazing on the couch to conserve energy.  But hey, every little bit helps. :O)

 

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*

 

Complete Game Shut-Out; Amazing Defense

After last nights’ total disaster in Atlanta, the Phillies brought their ace, Roy Halladay, to the mound looking for his 4th win of the year.  Fans everywhere began praying for a complete game after the Phillies bullpen blew a 3-run lead in the 9th yesterday.

Up to around the 6th inning, Halladay was averaging only 11 pitches an inning, so the potential to go deep into the game was there.  He made it to the 9th without allowing a run and started that inning having tossed 101 pitches already. 

The first hit ball of the inning nearly went into a hole by first base, but Ryan Howard belly flopped, scooped it up and made a great toss to Halladay for the out.  The second ball was shot straight to Howard as well; he gobbled that one up too for the 2nd out.  Wilson Valdez collected the 3rd on a slow roller to third; he charged it and made the throw.  It was a 2-0 complete game shut-out for Halladay; his record is now 4-0.

DSCF6263.JPGThere was a lot more spectacular defense in this game from the Phillies as well.  In the 2nd inning, Shane Victorino robbed Troy Glaus of a home run by leaping at the centerfield wall and snagging the ball just before it went over.  Then in the 5th, Juan Castro snagged a ball that was going up the middle and looked like a base hit.  But Castro moved fast, side-armed the throw to first and Ryan Howard did a full split (ouch!) to keep his foot on the bag and catch the ball, getting the out.

In the bottom of the 7th, Halladay got into a bases loaded, 1-out jam, walking his first batter in 25 straight innings.  Yunel Escobar hit a grounder up the middle, which Chase Utley dove for and snagged it.  Then, from the ground, while struggling to get the ball out of his glove, he flipped the ball to Castro who kicked 2nd base and gunned the ball to first to turn an amazing double play.  Halladay pumped his fists in gratitude as he headed for the dugout.

The offense was not exactly jumping with Atlanta’s Tim Hudson on the mound, but they did squeak out a few runs.  Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez both hit doubles in the game and collected one RBI a piece.  Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley also doubled.  Overall, the offense was patient again, saw a lot of pitches and drove Hudson out early after 6 innings.

There was one very concerning moment in the game when Placido Polanco, the Phillies best statistical  hitter right now, got nailed in the elbow with a pitch in the 1st inning.  It looked like he shook it off, but his next two at-bats were not good and he had issues extending that sore arm.  Polanco was finally pulled out of the game in the 7th and Wilson Valdez took over at third.

Early reports indicate a minor left elbow contusion; how serious it really is not known right now.  If it turns out to be serious, that will be one more major knock to a team that is already missing Jimmy Rollins plus a boatload of injured pitchers, including Joe Blanton, Brad Lidge, JC Romero and maybe JA Happ.

For now, the Phillies will focus on tomorrow night’s game and a series win against the Braves.  Jamie Moyer will pitch; game time is 7:10pm.

 

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

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