Results tagged ‘ Juan Pierre ’

Double Disaster as Phillies Lose Two Against the Rays

The Phillies managed to spend only one day out of the basement in the NL East after Saturday’s win.  But Sunday’s twin killing against the Rays propelled them right back to where they apparently belong; in last place.  When your two best starters are pitching and you still lose both games, things have clearly gone very, very wrong.

In the first game, Cole Hamels was practically unhittable.  He did not allow a run over 7 innings and gave up only 3 hits.

Leaving the game with a 1-0 lead, the bullpen was going to have to pitch 2 clean innings.  And as you probably already know, that did not happen.

I try not to say too much about how Charlie Manuel handles this team.  Because frankly, what he has been given to work with is on par with a minor league team.  But after Antonio Bastardo walked 2 batters in the 8th with just a 1-run lead, he should not have been allowed to continue.  Bastardo was awful the day before and clearly, he still has not found proper command of his pitches.  So why then is he left in to pitch to Carlos Pena?

Apparently, he was left in to clear the bases for the next pitcher as he gave up a 3-run homer to Pena.  I saw that coming, as did everyone in my section screaming, “Take him out!”  But Manuel puts blind faith in these guys even when it has become obvious to everyone else that the leash has gotten far too long.

Then again, look at the players Manuel has to choose from.  The pickings are slim.  This bullpen just sucks, so in that regard, it is still hard to blame the manager.  I still don’t agree with the decision to leave Bastardo in, but I am also glad I was not the one having to make that decision.

And then in the 8th with 2 outs and the bases loaded, Manuel left Michael Martinez in to bat instead of pinch hitting.  Martinez is hitting .133 and could not hit the broad side of a barn right now.  After the game, Manuel told the media that neither Juan Pierre nor Mike Fontenot were hitting lefties well, so he left Martinez in.  The issue with that is, Martinez is not hitting ANYONE right now.

Angry at the media for asking, Manuel suggested the reporters should tweet him with their in-game decisions saying, “You guys can float the information down there to me, being as I ain’t smart enough to get it.”  Oh my…

Here are a few other random shots from the 1st game, which the Phillies went on to lose, 3-2.

In game 2, Cliff Lee basically squashed any shot he may have had at his first win of the season by allowing 5 runs over 7 innings.  His last 3 starts have been awful.  Where did our ace go?

Perhaps the strain of not having a win has finally stolen whatever small amount of sanity he had left?   No one really knows what is going on here.

Placido Polanco tried to get this team going.  He went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI and a walk.  John Mayberry Jr. also had a big hit and an RBI.  And it was apparently “opposite day” for Hunter Pence who drew 3 walks in the game.

But the offense literally ended there.  The Phillies managed only 4 hits and left 6 men on base.

And just so Lee did not feel singled out in this one, some of the rookie pitchers decided to help out with 5 walks, a wild pitch and 2 more runs for the Rays in one inning.  It looks like B.J. Rosenberg’s major league career may be over before it began.  He was responsible for all that damage except 1 of the walks.

Adding insult to injury, catcher Brian Schneider was leveled at home plate by Sean Rodriguez coming in to score.  He left the game with a sprained ankle.  Later, Pence almost took out the Rays catcher in a weird semi-collision with Jose Molina’s outstretched leg.

Schneider is now on the DL and the Phillies went down for the count in a 7-3 loss.

Here are the Photo Albums from both games: Game 1: Hamels start, Game 2: Lee start.

The Pirates come to town next for a 4-game series starting tonight at 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Thome Sets Another Record in Phillies Walk-Off Win

In their 1st visit back to Philadelphia since losing the 2008 World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays once again brought the rain with them.  Friday night’s Phillies – Rays game was rained out and will be played as part of a doubleheader on Sunday.  The originally scheduled 1:35pm game will start instead at 1:05pm and the make-up game will begin at 6:35pm.

For today’s game, Kyle Kendrick started as originally planned, with Cliff Lee being pushed back to Sunday.  After Lee had fully warmed up Friday night, they did not want to take any chances by having him go today.

Kendrick did not have a great day, getting speeches while on the mound from teammates Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins and then pitching coach Rich Dubee.  It seemed like a lot of work just to get Kendrick through what turned out to be only 4 innings.  He walked 3 and allowed 3 runs.

But the offense gave the pitching a boost with big home runs from Rollins and Juan Pierre.  For Pierre, it was his first homer since August of last year and his first 3-run homer since 2004.  Pierre is not typically a long-ball hitter and as a result, there were huge smiles all around the Phillies bench when he hit that one.  Pierre got to play Superman, if only for just one day.

For the bullpen, Raul Valdes did a commendable job picking up the slack for Kendrick.  Fresh back from the minors, Valdes pitched 2 very solid innings.  Antonio Bastardo had a little trouble in the 8th where he loaded the bases but did pitch out of it after allowing only one run.

The 6-4 lead carried the Phillies into the 9th with a save opportunity for Jonathan Papelbon.  It was not exactly smooth sailing.  In fact, he blew his first save of season, giving up 2 runs and really putting the Phillies in a very bad position with a doubleheader scheduled the next day.  This could not have been worse timing, except…

In the bottom of the 9th, a future Hall of Famer was lying in wait to bail Papelbon out.  Jim Thome stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 9th and absolutely crushed a ball to deep left field.  And just like that, BOOM!  The Phillies won it in walk-off style.

It was Thome’s 13th career walk-off homer, which is a major league record.  He is also the all-time leader in Interleague play home runs.  And Thome is now tied with Sammy Sosa for 7th place in career homers with 609.

On Sunday, Cole Hamels will pitch the first game and Lee will pitch the second one.  I will be at both games and shall return with photos.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Thome’s Hot Bat Helps Phillies to a Win

The Phillies finally won a game last night, although by the skin of their teeth. The 9-8 victory over the Twins broke up a 3 game losing streak in a month where wins have been hard to come by.

The return of Jim Thome from the DL seems to have sparked an offensive explosion. After hitting at a rate of .100 before he went on the DL, Thome now has 10 hits in his last 5 games serving as the DH against the American League. Thome has also hit 2 home runs in that span, the longest of which was a whopping 466 feet last night. The slugger has officially returned!

A bunch of Phillies had big offensive days as well. Juan Pierre, Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz all had 3 hist. And John Mayberry Jr. racked up 4 RBI on 2 hits, including a 3-run homer in the 1st inning.

That first inning was a bit unusual though. The Twins starter, P.J. Walters wound up leaving the game with 4 runs allowed without even recording a single out. It was later reported that he was experiencing shoulder pain.

So the Phillies caught a break and racked up 6 runs in one inning, adding 3 more later. But they still showed the same problems they have been dealing with all year. For example, they Phillies loaded the bases with NO outs in the 9th and once again, failed to score. They could not even muster a sac fly. That is just not going to win them ballgames.

And what has become another disturbing trend is the starting pitching. Cole Hamels, probably the Phillies’ best pitcher not on the DL right now, has really fallen apart lately. Against the Twins, with that huge 6-run lead after the top of the 1st inning, Hamels got knocked around, allowing 7 runs over 6+ innings. Antonio Bastardo allowed one more, all of which turned a 6-run lead into only a 1-run lead.

Luckily, Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the win, having to record 4 outs in order to do so. But I am sure he was just glad to be able to pitch in a save situation, which there have been very few of lately.

Despite all the drama, there were a few great defensive moments thanks to Michael Martinez who also just came off the DL after breaking his foot in spring training. He made the last out of the game by catching a pop-up that was over his head and about to drop in the middle of nowhere. And earlier in the game, he dove to snag a ball hit hard up the middle and in the same motion, made an amazing glove toss to Jimmy Rollins at second.

The return of Martinez is a welcome site now that Freddy Galvis is on the DL with a back fracture (ouch!). Mikey-Mart is about the same offensively as Galvis and his defense, while not quite as spectacular, is still very solid. So welcome back, Mikey!

Although it may be a long shot, the Phillies ‘could’ – maybe – possibly – win this series with a victory tonight. Joe Blanton is pitching and he has given up a minimum of 5 runs in each of his last 5 games. Let us hope that trend ends tonight. Game time is 8:10pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Lee Still Winless in 9 Starts

If April showers bring May flowers, then what does June bring?  The only thing I know for sure is that for Cliff Lee, June has not yet brought him a win.   That is 9 starts, a 2.92 ERA and a 0-3 record.  Yikes.

And it is not that Lee has not deserved a win; the Phillies offense has simply not scored for him.  In Lee’s 9 starts, the Phillies have scored a total of 16 runs while he was the pitcher of record.  In 5 of those 9 starts, the Phillies scored only 1 run or NO runs while Lee was pitching.

In last night’s 2-1 loss to the Dodgers, it started out looking like perhaps this was Lee’s night.  Jimmy Rollins led off with a double, Juan Pierre moved him to third with a sac fly and then Hunter Pence finally got a hit with a runner in scoring position.  This sort of start HAD to be sign, right?  Wrong.

After those first three batters and one run, that was it for the offense.  The bats went right back to sleep and never woke up.  In fact, after the 1st inning, only 1 Phillie even made it past first base for the rest of the game.

Lee is a great pitcher; but even he needs more than a 1 run cushion to get a win.  The lack of offense blew up in his face in the 8th inning.  With 2 outs and 2 men on base, Lee finally threw a bad pitch which turned into a 2-run double for the Dodgers who took the lead.  It was pitch #122.

Had the Phillies scored more than 1 run in this game, it is possible Lee would not even have been out there for the 8th as his pitch count was rising.  With the exception of that one pitch, Lee was fantastic all night long.  And as in most of his other starts, he should have gotten a win here.

Game 3 with the Dodgers starts at 7:05pm tonight; Kyle Kendrick will pitch.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Fish Drown Phillies in Series Loss

The Phillies dropped two out of three games against the Marlins this weekend, with the ugliest of the 3 games coming in a 5-1 loss today.  Joe Blanton pitched 6 innings, giving up 5 runs, including two home runs, one of which came off the bat of the opposing pitcher.  Blanton has now allowed 24 runs in his last 4 games.

For the Marlins, Carlos Zambrano had a good day, including a bunt base-hit and a home run.  The Phillies offense did a great job helping him out with only 6 hits in the game and 8 runners left on base.  3 of those 6 hits belonged to Juan Pierre.  Zambrano has certainly improved since leaving the Cubs, but the Phillies made him look like All-Star material.

Offensively, this game was so boring, a 20-something year old guy sitting next to me fell asleep in the 4th inning.  I am not kidding.  His friends were laughing about it and poking him but even that did not wake him.  He finally woke when it started to rain.

So since I have nothing much nice to say today after a very disappointing loss, I have decided instead to hand out some awards.  The winner of the “I Plastered Myself Against The Outfield Wall, But It Was A Home Run Anyway” award goes to Juan Pierre:

And Placido Polanco wins the award for the “Silliest Face Of The Day” on a play at third:

The “Oops, I Did It Again” award was a tie between Blanton (for 5 runs or more in his last 4 games) and  Hector Luna:

The “At Least The Bullpen Didn’t Totally Suck Award” goes to the bullpen:

The “I Came All This Way And Did Not Even Get To See My Son Play” award goes to former Major Leaguer, John Mayberry Sr. and Mrs. Mayberry:

And finally, the “Nothing Wrong With A Little Man-Love” award goes to Jimmy Rollins and Greg Dobbs:

The Phillies begin a 4-game series with the Dodgers tomorrow and hopefully, Vance Worley will be off the DL and pitching.

By the way, my condolences to Jose Contreras who is done for the year with a complete tear of the flexor pronator tendon in his right elbow…again.  At 40 years of age, it looks like this may be the end of his career :O(  That had to be devastating news for him, poor guy.  I wish him the best of luck.

And in other news, Chase Utley is finally headed to Clearwater to push forward with his recovery.  No clue when he will be back, but do not hold your breath.

Instead, enjoy my Photo Album from the game today.  Unlike the game, the album does not suck.  ;o)

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Support Group: Get Cliff Lee a Win!

The Phillies beat the Mets on Wednesday night by a score of 10-6.  And while the offense finally produced some big runs, the hit parade did not actually arrive until after pitcher Cliff Lee exited the game.  You know what that means…still no wins for Cliff Lee.

It has been 8 starts and 2 months and poor Lee has been shut-out of the win column.  Carlos Ruiz tried to bust him out of winless jail by smacking a pinch hit 2-run homer in the 7th, but that merely tied the game.  The lead finally arrived in the 8th when Shane Victorino hit a sac fly to score Juan Pierre.  Sadly though, Lee was no longer the pitcher of record at that point.

And all those runs they pounded out in the 9th inning, including a Jimmy Rollins homer, also did Lee little good.  We can all agree…wins are good!  But how about sharing the cookies with a starving man?  Geez.

With that in mind, I have decided to start a support group for Cliff Lee.  As you can see, his teammates appear to be on board:

So let’s get to it, Phillies!  Get Cliff a freakin’ win already!

Thank you in advance.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

5 in a Row!

Winning 5 games in a row seemed an impossible task for the Phillies until now.  Their longest win streak of the season previous to this one was only 2 games.  They have also gone above the .500 mark for the first time since the first game of the year.

Even having Roy Halladay on the mound has been no guarantee of a win this year as the offense has underperformed.  Against the Cubs on Thursday night, Halladay finally got some run support and had a good game himself as well.

Over 8 innings, Halladay allowed 3 runs, 2 of which were solo homers.  But he was even hotter at the plate, going 2 for 4 with 2 runs scored.  Only 3 other Phillies had multi-hit nights,

One of those guys was Halladay’s battery mate, Carlos Ruiz.  To say Ruiz is on fire right now is an understatement.  He is scorching every pitch that comes his way.  In this game, Ruiz went 4 for 5 with 3 RBI and he is now hitting .363.  He even stole a base.  Wow.

Juan Pierre continues to nip at Ruiz’s heels with a .343 average and 2 more hits in last night’s game.  Pierre also made several outstanding grabs in left field.

But while the offense was cooking and it looked like this game might be a laugher, the all too familiar bullpen monster reared its ugly head again.  With an 8-3 lead in the 9th, we saw the other side of rookie Jake Diekman.  Two games ago, he was spectacular in his major league debut.  But last night, he was the exact opposite…awful.

Diekman walked 2 batters, hit a third batter and then gave up a bases-clearing double.  The score narrowed to 8-6 with 2 outs and Jonathan Papelbon had to be brought in to close the game.  He allowed an RBI single to the first batter he faced, making the total line for Diekman 4 runs in 2/3 of an inning.  Yikes!

Papelbon did finally get the job done, but the final score was a frighteningly close 8-7.  And the “other” side of Diekman was not something we would ever like to see again.

So the Phillies are heading home for a 3-game interleague series with the Red Sox.  Game 1 starts at 7:05pm tonight.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

From the Minors to The Moon: Extras Help Phillies to a Win

In a 9-2 win over the Cubs Wednesday night, 6 of those 9 runs were produced by pinch hitters.  Many of the “extra” pieces the Phillies picked up over the last few weeks contributed to the win.

Even the starting pitcher sort of came “off the bench.”  With no warning, Kyle Kendrick was thrust into the starting role when Vance Worley unexpectedly went on the DL with elbow soreness.  Kendrick has had a rough year being pushed and pulled from the bullpen to the rotation and back again.  But on this night, he managed to pull a great performance seemingly out of the air.

Kendrick allowed only 1 earned run through 6 innings and did walk anyone.  He also had an unearned run on a routine fly ball that Juan Pierre dropped in left field.  Luckily, that was the only major blunder for the Phillies that night.

It did not look like Kendrick would get much run support as the Phillies took turns leaving men all over the base paths, especially on third base with less than 2 outs.  Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence were the worst offenders with 7 and 5 men left on base, respectively.  Victorino did manage 1 RBI though while Pence, again, went hitless.

Freddy Galvis and Carlos Ruiz picked up their teammates, both with 2 hits in the game.  Ruiz is making a strong bid for an All-Star spot with his team leading .343 average and many clutch hits.

With a 2-2 tie going into the 7th, the Phillies bench came into play in a big way.  In his first Phillies at-bat, Mike Fontenot singled and later in the game, scored a run.  Ty Wigginton came off the bench in the 9th and gave the Phillies some breathing room with a 2-run single.

But the big blast came from the Moon Man, Hector Luna, in his first Phillies at-bat.  “Luna” means “moon” in several languages, including Latin, Italian and Spanish.  And Luna went straight to the moon with his first career grand slam in the 9th, giving the Phillies a huge 7 run lead.

Yet another new Phillie entered into the 9th as well.  Raul Valdes pitched the bottom of the inning and nailed down the 9-2 win without any drama.  The night before, Jake Diekman made his major league debut and got 4 outs to end the game, also minus the usual bullpen drama.  These two guys are at opposite ends of the spectrum: one is a rookie and the other an experienced veteran.  But together, they may signal very good news for this weak Phillies pen.

And this win is also very good news as the Phillies finally reach the .500 mark at 19-19 for the first time in weeks.  They have not been over .500 since Opening Day.  Perhaps they can accomplish that task tonight in Game 2 with the Cubs?  Game time is 8:05pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hamels Returns to Help Phillies Win Series

The 5-game suspension Cole Hamels received for smacking Nationals rookie Bryce Harper with a pitch last week turned out to be sort of a joke.  With the off day on Thursday, the Phillies were able to rearrange the rotation, pitching Roy Halladay yesterday and Hamels today.  So as it turns out, Hamels did not even miss a start.

And the Phillies are sure glad he did not.  Hamels was solid in the 3-2 win over the Padres, allowing just 1 run and 5 hits over 7 innings.

The offense was a little stale, as usual, but they managed 3 runs.  This time, that turned out to be enough.  Jimmy Rollins got it started in the 1st with a leadoff homer.  Brian Schneider gave Carlos Ruiz most of the day off and helped out with 2 hits and an RBI.  Juan Pierre collected 2 hits, 1 RBI and continues to be the Phillies best hitter with a .351 average.  I am not sure anyone saw that coming when he won a spot on the team out of spring training.  But we’ll take it.

Hunter Pence, on the other hand, continues to struggle.  Pence looks lost at the plate.  He is still swinging at bad pitches, although he showed a little more patience today.  But he is pulling off balls; his body goes one way and the bat goes another way…it is very awkward.  And it is more awkward than his usual approach, which is almost hard to believe.

The bullpen finally held a lead in this one, although Jose Contreras did give up a run in the 8th making the situation very tenuous.  But Antonio Bastardo got him out of the inning without further damage.  And Jonathan Papelbon finally got to pitch for a save; it was his first save attempt since May 1st.

Before the game, the Phillies celebrated Mother’s Day.  Pierre’s mom, wife and son were greeted on the field and Pierre coddled and played with the infant, which was adorable.

And luckily, the warm fuzzies before the game translated into a win as the Phillies took 2 of 3 from the Padres.

The schedule for the remainder of May gets a little weird now.  The Phils will play 2 against the Astros then fly to Chicago for 2 games with the Cubs and return home again to face the Red Sox and Nationals before hitting the road again.  Game 1 with the Astros starts at 7:05pm Monday night.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game and pre-game warm-up’s and ceremonies.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Offense Squanders Another Solid Halladay Start

Against the Padres Saturday night, Roy Halladay put forth another great effort.  Through 7 innings, he allowed only 2 runs while working in and out of trouble.  This was the Halladay we are all used to seeing.

Unfortunately, the Phillies offense was also the one we are all used to seeing recently.  John Mayberry Jr. and Freddy Galvis teamed up in the 2nd to score the Phillies only run.  Shane Victorino had 3 hits and a walk, but little to show for it as he kept getting stranded on base.

The Phillies loaded the bases a number of times in this game and got nothing out of it.  Hunter Pence was one of the worst offenders; he struck out once and popped up when there was only 1 out in the inning and a sac fly would have scored a run.  Ty Wigginton was just as bad.  He came up to bat twice with the bases loaded; he flew out once and grounded out once.

Pence, who hit .314 last year, has been awful in 2012.  When asked about it, Charlie Manuel told reporters, “Now, what we do about it, I don’t know. You wouldn’t call him a disciplined hitter. He’s unorthodox. He’s the kind of guy who, if he sees it and thinks he can hit it, he swings at it. Right now you’ve got to kind of accept that and hope he gets good balls to hit.”

Really?  The answer is to accept that he swings at crap pitches and pray he stops getting crap pitches?  At this point, pitchers do not ever have to throw Pence a strike…ever.  He will swing at anything.  If someone tossed a pitch to the top of City Hall, he’d probably swing at that too.

Tonight, the Padres even walked Victorino to load the bases with one out and face Pence instead.  Pence did not disappoint the Padres as he popped up the first crap pitch he saw.

If Manuel is looking for answers. here is one: bench him.  I like Pence; he seems like a quality guy.  But if he is hurting the team, he needs to sit until he learns some discipline.  Put Juan Pierre and Mayberry at the corners and give Pence time to think about it.

So it came down to a 2-1 deficit in the 9th, which for this team, has seemed to be almost impossible to overcome, especially late in games.  Could the Phillies pull off a come from behind win in the 9th against one of the worst teams in baseball?

Imagine asking that question just last year.  No problem, right?  This year, not so much.  So as expected, the Phillies went down in the 9th and took the 2-1 loss.  And you will never guess who struck out for the last out with a man on 3rd…Hunter Pence.

Game 3 with the Padres will be at 1:35pm Sunday and I will return with photos.  I’d also like to wish all the Mom’s out there a Happy Mother’s Day!  I am hoping the Phillies can make our day with a win!  If not, I suppose flowers will have to do ;o)

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Pence photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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