Results tagged ‘ Mariners ’

A Tale of Two Away Games

The Phillies final two games in Seattle were a stark contrast to each other.  Saturday night’s 5-1 win was against 2010 Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez.  But on Sunday, the Phillies lost to Jason Vargas, an average pitcher who entered the game with a 4.13 ERA.

With Vance Worley starting Saturday, the Phillies managed to score some runs.  Worley held the Mariners to just one run over five innings and then Shane Victorino provided most of the offense.

Victorino ended the game just a single short of the cycle and had four RBI on three hits, including a 2-run homer.  Jimmy Rollins had three hits as well.  Both Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez added two hits apiece.

But Sunday, the Phillies seemingly could not hit their way out of a barn.  Howard had two hits, Ben Francisco had one and that was it for the offense.  Vargas tossed a complete game shut-out as the Phils sat and watched.

Cole Hamels pitched a great game, allowing only two runs on a few very cheap, bloop hits.  Hamels also collected his 1,000 career strike out in the fourth inning.

If he had won the game, Hamels would have been the first pitcher in the majors to 10 wins.  He and six other pitchers, including Roy Halladay, are stuck at nine wins.  But it was not meant to be.  Wasting such a great performance was a real shame.

But welcome to Interleague play with the Phillies.  Every year, it is a struggle for them.  After losing two out of three to the Mariners, the Phillies are off tomorrow as they travel to St. Louis for three games with the Cardinals starting on Tuesday.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Offense: Sleepless In Seattle

After a long plane ride and change of time zones, it is understandable how the Phillies might have been jet lagged in the Friday night 4-2 loss to the Mariners.  Hopefully, they have gotten some sleep and will be a bit more peppy for Saturday’s game.

Off rookie pitcher Michael Pineda, the Phils managed only one run.  Chase Utley hit an RBI-single in the sixth inning to score Jimmy RollinsShane Victorino broke up the no-hitter right before that with a single to right.

The Phillies had more chances in that inning after Ryan Howard walked to load the bases with two outs.  But Placido Polanco had a few odd strikes called on him and he eventually struck out.  Polly let the umpire, whose strike zone was all over the place, that he was not pleased.

But even the usually quiet Polly speaking up could not spark this sleepy offense.  Victorino hit a solo homer in the seventh, but that was it for the offense who had a total of only 6 hits in the game.

Roy Oswalt was off his game, as well.  In 6.1 innings, Oswalt gave up four runs on eight hits and two walks.  His record on the year is now 3-4 with a 3.38 ERA.

Things will not get any easier for the Phillies on Saturday night.  They will be facing an even tougher pitcher, the 2010 AL Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez.  And the Phils are putting rookie Vance Worley on the mound to face him.

The good news is that the Phillies left-handed heavy line-up is facing a right-handed pitcher.  The bad news?  Pretty much everything else.  Cross your fingers…game time is 10:10pm.  Guess we will all be a little sleepy after this one.

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Lee’s Dominance Results in Clean Sweep of the Marlins

The last time the Phillies won seven games in a row in the month of June was in 1982.  In 2011, they have done it again…finally.  And they also swept the Marlins in a four game series.

 Cliff Lee was on fire today, only in a good way, not in a call the fire department way.  He was no-hitting the Fish until Mike Stanton singled with 2 outs in the 5th.  Still, Lee wound up pitching a complete game shut-out in the 3-0 win.

In addition, Lee was hot at the plate as well.  He had two hits in the game, the second of which was an RBI-double off the right-center field wall.  He missed a home run by only a few feet.

And that one run, the first of the game, turned out to be all Lee needed to win the game.  But just for good measure, Ryan Howard added on with a solo homer in the 5th and Jimmy Rollins knocked in the third run in the 6th with a double.

The Phillies are now on their way to Seattle where they will begin a 3-game series with the Mariners Friday night at 10:10pm.  Roy Oswalt will pitch and Cole Hamels will start on Sunday.

Due to the doubleheader yesterday, the Phillies were in need of a spot starter for Saturday, which is going to be rookie Vance Worley.  That brings us to the sad news of the day…

To make room for Worley, the Phillies chose to designate J.C. Romero for assignment.  They have 10 days to trade him, release him or place him on waivers.  Romero could be offered a minor league deal if no one takes him, but the odds are slim that he would accept that deal.

While Romero has struggled since having elbow surgery before the 2010 season, the emergence of lefty Antonio Bastardo has also made it difficult for Romero to get innings.  Romero will always be remembered in Philadelphia for his contributions to the 2008 World Series championship plus a League Championship and two NL East titles.

On a personal note, I have had the privilege of being able to spend some time with J.C. and his family over the last 3+ years and I will miss them.  The Romero’s are generous, kind people who contributed much more than just baseball to the city of Philadelphia and other communities in need.  

I wish them the very best.

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Prospect Gillies Arrested for Cocaine Possession

Is it just me, or does the Phillies off-season Cliff Lee trade look worse and worse every day?  The cherry on the crap sundae came today when Tyson Gillies, one of the 3 players sent to Philly in the Lee trade, was arrested for cocaine possession, according to Philly.com. 
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The incident allegedly took place this past June in Pinellas County, Florida.

I am guessing the Reading Phillies commercial starring Mr. Gillies will be pulled.  Check it out before it is gone forever…Gillies is asked by a kid if he is “fast” and Gillies brags about his base stealing speed.  Yeah, he is fast alright.  Cocaine will do that.

The incident took place in Clearwater while Gillies was participating in a rehab assignment for a hamstring injury that has bothered him most of the year.  He was batting only .238 in 26 games for Double-A Reading.

Another player from the Cliff Lee trade, Phillippe Aumont, has severely underperformed since coming to the Phillies organization.  He pitched at a 7.43 ERA in Reading and was then demoted to Clearwater in June.  Aumont has publically stated that he is feeling the immense “pressure” on him, having been traded for Lee.  He seemed quite worried about living up to expectations.  So, we started with a head case and now we have a coke head among the group.

The third player in the trade was righty JC Ramirez whose ERA is 5.18 in 12 games for Reading.  While it is still early to tell how he or Aumont ultimately will perform, right now, things do not look promising.

And are we to believe the Mariners had no knowledge of these issues before they shipped these players over to Philly?  I think they knew full well what they were doing.  As a result, the Phillies have been punk’d.  I will be curious to see what, if anything, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has to say about the recent events.  What a mess.

 

Photo by MLB.com

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

 

Phillies Acquire Mike Sweeney

With Ryan Howard on the DL, the Phillies look to bolster their line-up by adding first baseman Mike Sweeney, 37.  He comes to Philly from the Mariners for either cash or a player to be named later.  While Sweeney has not gotten a lot of work this year in Seattle, he is batting .263 with six home runs and 18 RBI in 30 games, including three starts at first base.

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Sweeney is a 5-time All-Star, having been selected each year from 2000-2005 while playing for the Royals, who drafted him in 1991.  Sweeney set a Royals record for RBIs in a season with 144 in 2000.  He is a lifetime .298 hitter with 901 RBI’s and 213 homers.

Some more interesting notes about Sweeney: His wife, Shara, is the daughter of Jim Nettles and her uncle is Graig Nettles, both former major leaguers and brothers.  There is also a Philadelphia connection; Sweeney’s first major league home run in 1996 was off of Phillies pitcher, Jamie Moyer.

While Sweeney is in the latter years of his career and has had some back issues, he appears healthy now and should be a nice addition at first base for the Phillies while Howard is out.  On his Sweeney Family Foundation web site, Sweeney’s wife lists one of his life goals as “learning to put the toilet seat down.”  He will need that sense of humor to play in Philadelphia…I wish him luck :O)

 

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

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

 

Don’t Mess With Texas; Cliff Lee Will Be There

Phillies fan everywhere can breathe a huge sigh of relief as it was announced today that Cliff Lee has been traded to the Texas Rangers.  The relief comes for many reasons.  #1 – He did not go the Mets or anywhere in the Phillies division.  #2 – He did not land with their World Series rivals, the Yankees. #3 – He is in the American League.  Whoo Hoo!


P8195298 Lee2.jpgWhy so excited?  Because Lee was LOVED in Philly and losing him this off-season in a very bad trade stung enough.  To have seen him go to a local or rival team would have been rubbing salt in the wound.  Of course, Philly would have loved to have him back, but did anyone really think that was going to happen?  Not likely.  To acquire Lee again would have meant Ruben Amaro Jr. would be admitting he made a mistake trading him in the first place.  Plus, the Phillies farm system has very little left to offer in any trade.

Here are the gritty details of the trade:  The Mariners get first baseman Justin Smoak and minor leaguers Blake Beavan, Josh Lueke and Matt Lawson.  The Rangers get Lee plus reliever Mark Lowe.  They will call up Chris Davis to play first since Smoak was moved.

Best of luck to Cliff Lee in Texas (unless he is playing the Phils, of course)!  He will always hold a special place in the hearts of all Phillies fans.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Bad Luck Or Bad Baseball?

Is it bad luck or bad baseball?  It looked like luck may have been in the Phillies favor when Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was sent to the DL minutes before the game started today.  Dice-K beat up the Phillies in their last meeting, so this must be good news.  Scott Atchison, a career minor leaguer who also played in Japan, made his first career major league start in place of Dice-K.  Again, this seemed like good news, right?

Wrong.  Because absolutely nothing has gone well for the Phillies lately, and this game would be no different.  Joe Blanton has been as bad as he could be since coming off the DL in early May.  By the 2nd inning of this game, Blanton had given up 34 runs, 11 homers and 11 walks in 45 innings pitched this year. 
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And the damage did not end there…Blanton allowed 9 runs total, matching Jamie Moyer yesterday, on 13 hits and a walk by the time he was done, after 4 pathetic innings. His ERA is now 7.28.

Blanton loaded the bases in the 2nd inning, right after the offense scored two runs for him.  He then threw ONE pitch to rookie, Daniel Nava, who in his first major league at-bat, hit a grand slam!  Unbelievable.  It looked like the Phillies had morphed into a black cat with a #13 tattoo, under a black cloud standing on top of a broken mirror, sprinkled with spilled salt.  But was that bad luck or just Joe Blah-anton?

Blanton needs to go.  Obviously, no one will want him with his gigantic 7.28 ERA and gigantic salary, so what are the options?  Put him back on the DL or send him to the minors.  Brett Myers did this voluntarily back in 2008 and came back to help them win the World Series.  The Phillies can bring back Nelson Figueroa or someone else from the minors.  I would rather see a rookie get raked for 9 runs than a veteran who is not living up to his end of the deal.  How about Nate Bump?  He has some experience and was recently clocked at 103mph.  Go get him!

The Phillies have made a lot of mistakes this year and last, many of which have been overshadowed by the acquisition of Roy Halladay.  Letting Myers go was clearly an error in judgment.  I said it before, but because most people have a personal dislike of Myers, most were happy to see him go.  For the Astros this year, Myers has not allowed more than 4 runs in any game, has not pitched fewer than 6 innings in any game and his ERA is a very respectable 3.18.

And do not even get me started on Cliff Lee.  Because the Mariners are not doing well, Lee will likely be traded before the deadline and it looks like he may wind up in the NL East.  Imagine this: Lee goes to Mets or the Braves who make the playoffs, leaving the Phillies in the dust.  You want to throw up right now, don’t you?

And remember signing a 36 year-old Raul Ibanez, now 38, to a 3-year contract?  It looked like a good idea for ½ a year in 2009; now, not so much.  Raul, we still love ya, but things are not going well.  Ibanez is hitting .247 and is getting slower in the outfield.

The Phillies also extended Blanton’s contract this off-season, giving him 3 more years and $24 million dollars.  They noted his “consistency,” which I have never agreed with, and his ability to pitch many innings as reasons for the extension.  Well, all those innings have taken their toll as evidenced by Blanton’s current ERA plus the pre-season injury and DL stint.

By the way, the Phillies offense died after Blanton dug a huge hole for them.  The managed only 7 hits and 3 of those came from back-up catcher Brian Schneider.  The Phillies went on to lose the game by a score of 2-10.


panic.jpgI could go on, but I think that is enough for one day.  The Phillies have now slid from 1st place to 3rd place in the NL East and if the Marlins keep winning, they will be in 4th place shortly.  I mentioned holding off on hitting the panic button last week; well, it is now time.  Let the panic begin.  This past month may be a foretelling of the horror to come.

 

Photoshopping by Jenn

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

 

Hitting The Skids…Again

The first inning of today’s Phillies – Padres match-up was a microcosm of the issues that have been plaguing the Phils since the middle of May.  The offense started off with two hits, then they loaded the bases with one out and Jayson Werth hit a weak grounder into a double play to end the inning.  sad_bunny.jpgTwo batters before that, Chase Utley had popped out with 2 men on base. 

Werth and Utley, previously two of the teams’ best hitters, are quickly becoming the poster-children for killing rallies.  Phillies fans everywhere are losing patience waiting for the two sluggers to find their swings again.  Fans used to look forward to seeing them bat.  Now, all you can do is cringe when they step to the plate and begin counting the different ways they might kill an inning; will it be a double play?  A pop-up?  A strike-out?  Or maybe the bat will spontaneously combust due to lack of use, rendering him helpless at the plate…the possibilities are endless.

Once again, the real victim of this disgusting and seemingly unending offensive slump is the starting pitcher. 
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Cole Hamels had a no-hitter working through 6 innings.  He finally surrendered back-to-back homers in the 7th to end the streak, but with just those two runs allowed, Hamels more than did his job.  It is just one more outstanding pitching performance gone to waste by the Phils offensive offense.

Eight full innings and just 3 hits later, Hamels found himself still without any assistance from his teammates.  The pinch hitters failed again in the bottom of the 8th with both Greg Dobbs and Ross Gload going down in flames.  Danys Baez pitched the 9th and put the Phillies in a deeper hole by giving up a homer to Adrian Gonzalez, his second of the night.

The Phillies tried to battle back in the bottom of the 9th; Placido Polanco singled, followed by another Utley out.  Ryan Howard drove Polanco in but then Werth stepped to the plate and, as has been the trend, he struck out. The Phillies lose 1-3, but I suppose the good news is that at least it was not another shut-out.

Besides the huge disappointment today in the Phillies majors, the minor leagues reported one more bit if depressing news.  The “big” prospect the Phillies got in the Cliff Lee trade, pitcher Phillipe Aumont, was demoted to single-A ball after sporting a 10.61 ERA in AA-ball.  Remember back in Spring Training when the same guy gave up 5 runs in 2/3 of an inning in an exhibition game against a college team in his first Phillies action?  And afterwards, he blamed it on the pressure of being traded for Cliff Lee?  Oh yeah, that guy. 

So, we get our first peek at how beneficial that trade really was.  If Aumont cannot handle pressure, what good is he?  And do you really think the Mariners were unaware of this when they sent him packing?  I doubt it.  Talent and potential are great, but I am pretty sure in the life-game of rock, paper, scissors, that mental toughness trumps both.  But hey, Lee will be available again at the trade deadline this year; think the Mariners will take Aumont back?  Ha, ha…I crack myself up ;o)

The draft took place tonight and the Phillies have selected a local; Jesse Biddle, a left-handed pitcher, from Philly.  Best of luck to the young pitcher!

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Happy Bunny by Jim Benton

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

 

Solid Spring So Far For The Phillies

The Phillies have had a very productive month so far this spring and will go into their day off tomorrow with a record of 9 wins, 4 loses and a tie.  Spring Training results are not a great indicator of how a team will perform in the regular season, but based on years past, it seems like every player came to camp more prepared and more determined this year and it shows.  The bats are jumping and most guys have stayed fairly healthy.

Placido Polanco’s right knee strain is minor and he will be back in action probably by Friday.  Chase Utley has also sat out a few games with a respiratory illness but again, he seems to be on the road to recovery.  Even pitchers like JC Romero and Brad Lidge who had off-season surgeries are getting closer and closer to game-shape.  Romero threw to live batters this morning and is feeling good; both he and Lidge should be ready to go by early April.

Luck Of The Irish?

199a Hamels.jpgCole Hamels was feeling lucky this week; he threw 5 innings in a win over the Tigers on Tuesday without allowing an earned run; he gave up just 2 hits and struck out 4.  Joe Blanton was not quite as solid against the Yankees today in the St. Patty’s Day showdown, but still not bad.  Blanton did allow 2 runs on 7 hits over 5 innings, but maybe he is just allergic to the shamrock green uniforms?

The two young lefty bullpen hopefuls also pitched in the last two games and showed some progress.  Antonio Bastardo showed off some serious heat, striking out 2 batters and not allowing a base runner in his inning against the Tigers.  Sergio Escalona also pitched a scoreless inning against the Yanks, although he is still struggling with his control and walked two batters.  Regardless, it does appear that both players are anxious to crack the Opening Day roster.

As for the bats, Ryan Howard hit his first home run of Spring yesterday and is batting a very solid .344 so far.  Not to be outdone, Jayson Werth smashed a 3-run homer today that looked like a rocket as it travelled in nearly a straight line over the left field fence faster than you could blink.  It was his 2nd home run this spring.

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Cliff Lee Is Angry

No, not at the Phillies; or at least we think not anymore…however, he is having an interesting spring so far with the Mariners.  On Monday in a game against the D-Backs, Lee was actually ejected from a Spring Training game for the first time in his career.  For what?  He was tossed for intentionally throwing at a batter’s head.   The intended victim was D-Backs catcher Chris Snyder; teammate Mark Reynolds stood up for Snyder after the game, calling Lee’s actions “bush league.”

But did Lee really do it on purpose?  Reynolds purports, “I’ve faced Cliff Lee plenty of times to know he’s got amazing control.”  Check out the video and judge for yourself.

UPDATE: The league has now suspended Lee for 5 games at the start of the season for what they are calling an “intentional” act.

Tosh.0 Redeems A Philly Fan

Remember the adorable little girl who was all over TV last year for tossing her Daddy’s prized foul ball catch back onto the field?  Well, the father-daughter team are back and Daniel Tosh of Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0″ gave little Emily a chance at redemption.  Check it out:

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I am not sure what is more adorable; Emily tossing the Mardi Gras beads or her proclamation that tea parties are better than baseball.  Funny stuff!

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Photos by Jenn

 

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

 

Halladay Is The Talk Of The Town

Roy Halladay mania is in full swing already at the start of Spring Training.  Reports that he has been working out in Clearwater since mid-December and that he arrives at the ballpark by 5:45am every day are impressing the fans, his teammates and his coaches.  Manager Charlie Manuel compared his work ethic to that of Chase Utley although he noted, “He (Halladay) smiles more than Chase.”

While the Utley comparisons are fun, the biggest comparisons this year are bound to be about Halladay and Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.  Many Phillies fans are still in denial over the departure of Lee and that trade will be questioned all year long and perhaps even for years to come.  foot.jpgIf Hamels does not return to form and Lee does well with the Mariners, expect some strong reaction from the fan base.  However, Lee did just have surgery on his foot to remove some bone fragments which will put him about a week behind schedule; this should give Halladay and Hamels a “toe” up in the race to see who comes out of the chute fastest.

Pitching coach Rich Dubee made it clear last week when speaking to the media that he believes Hamels’ issues last year revolved more around his mental game than his physical game.  Dubee told Todd Zolecki of The Zo Zone, “The biggest problem with Cole last year? In my opinion he pitched with a lot of anger. With himself mostly. He’s such a perfectionist. You don’t pitch with anger. He really wasn’t nearly as focused as he was the two previous years. He expects a lot out of himself, but your expectations of what you want and the way you approach it are very, very important. And his approach wasn’t very good last year.”

So while Hamels has some personal reflecting to do, other pitchers in camp like Jamie Moyer, need only overcome their physical issues.  Moyer’s recovery after 3 surgeries this off-season is precarious.  He did throw off the mound on the first day of camp, so that is good news. 
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But with younger pitchers like Kyle Kendrick waiting in the wings to take the 5th starter spot from Moyer, this should be a very intense spring.  Rumor has it that Kendrick, who was previously mentored mostly by Moyer, has latched onto Roy Halladay this spring like a baby bird looking for his next meal.  Kendrick has been showing up early to work with Halladay who has apparently been hand-feeding Kendrick information.

So the competition will continue to heat up over the coming weeks.  And if the temperatures here in the northeast could start heating up as well, that would be awesome.  Still in the 40’s here but I am hopeful that Spring will be here soon!

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Halladay photo: ESPN.com; Kendrick photo by Jenn

 

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

 

 

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