Results tagged ‘ Mets ’

Bookend Homers Launch Phillies Over the Mets

On Wednesday night, the Phillies won the game over the Mets in 2 bookend innings, the 1st and the 9th.  In between, not much happened.

Jimmy Rollins led the game off with a solo home run.  That turned out to be the only hit for the Phillies until John Mayberry Jr. singled in the 8th.  It was also the only run of the game for the Phils until there were 2 outs in the 9th inning.

In between, Cole Hamels allowed 2 runs over 6 innings and hit the 200 strike-out mark for the season with 10 on the night.  But although he pitched well, the Phillies were not hitting….at all.

Suddenly, with the game on the line, Chase Utley drew a 2-out walk in the 9th.  Ryan Howard stepped to the plate for what appeared to be the probable end of the game.  Howard has looked like a blind man at the plate recently.

Even Howard’s body language has spoken volumes about his struggles.  Staring up at the sky in frustration is a familiar look for him after an out.  But what we have witnessed in the last several weeks is different.  Howard’s head droops down in defeat as he solemnly jogs to 1st base after a weak ground-out.  This is beyond frustration.

But Mets pitcher Josh Edgin had the cure for what has been ailing Howard.  It was an up-and-in fast ball, right in the Howard happy zone.  Edgin tossed him a cookie and Howard sent it screaming into the seats.  The 2-run last minute blast gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead, which Jonathan Papelbon nailed down in the bottom half of the 9th.

Whether or not that home run will break Howard’s sad spell at the plate remains to be seen.  But it certainly could not hurt.

The Phillies will try to sweep the Mets tonight in a make-up game that was previously rained out on Tuesday.  Game time is 7:10pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Lee’s Effort Returns Phillies To .500

After a disastrous weekend in Houston, the Phillies managed to crawl back to the .500 mark after a 3-1 win over the Mets on Monday night.  Cliff Lee pitched extremely well, allowing only 1 run over 8 innings.  His strong performance kept the Phillies in the game against tough knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey.

For the offense, Jimmy Rollins is on a serious hot streak.  It seems lately that even when he slips up, luck is on his side.  He struck out in the 1st inning last night to start the game, but wound up being safe at first base anyway on a passed ball.  He eventually scored on a Chase Utley sac fly.  Rollins ended the game with 2 runs scored, a home run and a walk.

The home run was interesting; the ball snuck over the right field wall but appeared for a moment to have dribbled off the glove of outfielder Scott Hairston.  Then without prompting, the umpires decided to review the play and correctly called it a home run.  That is the first time I have seen any MLB umpire voluntarily review a play without first being harassed by a manager.  It is about time.

Domonic Brown provided the other run with a solo shot in the 7th to give the Phillies a little more breathing room.  Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the save in the 9th.

This win was a nice lift for the Phillies who remain 3.5 games out of the Wild Card race with 15 games to play.  Realistically, the horrendous Houston weekend probably killed any shot they had at the postseason this year.  So while it is great to see this team playing well, as far as the playoffs, don’t hold your breath.

Game 2 with the Mets is tonight at 7:10pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Houston: The Phillies Have Problems

Just in case the Houston Astros were previously unaware, it should be clear today that both teams, especially the Phillies, have serious problems.  What problem could be bigger than being the Astros, the worst team in baseball, you say?  The answer is: Being beaten in 3 out of 4 games by the worst team in baseball.  And all that happened while the Phillies hopes for the postseason continue to quickly dwindle away.

I had said previously that it would take a miracle for the Phillies to make the playoffs this year.  I stand corrected.  It will actually take 3-4 large miracles, including the complete collapse of several other teams in the National League who are ahead of the Phils in the Wild Card race.  Quick, someone call a priest; Last Rights may be in order shortly.  The Phillies are on life support.

Bad plays, errors and walks plus a sporadic offense contributed to the embarrassing losses against the Astros.  Worse, 2 of the 3 losses came against starting pitchers who began each game with an ERA above 5.00, including yesterday’s shut-out loss and today’s 7-6 disaster.

Roy Halladay gave up 3 runs in 6 innings, but the Phillies still had the lead when he left the game.  And then, for what feels like the 1,000th time this year, the bullpen blew it again.  The 4-run 7th for the Astros included an error and 3 walks, one for each Phillies pitcher, although 1 was intentional.

The offense left runners stranded all over the place, 8 in all, while going only 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.  Jimmy Rollins had 3 hits and Ryan Howard picked up 2 RBI, but only after being humiliated by the Astros twice; they intentionally walked Chase Utley twice to get to Howard.

With 15 games remaining, the Phillies cannot afford more than a loss or two until the end of the season.  Plus, they need a lot of other teams to lose as well.  It does not look good, folks.

The Mets are up next.  Game time Monday night is 7:10pm.

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The Phillies Are Optimists

The Phillies have definitely been playing better lately.  They are 3 games back in the race for the 2nd Wild Card spot with 17 games left to play.  And so early this morning, the Phillies decided to send out Postseason ticket invoices to all of their season ticket holders in the hopes of making a run.

I wonder how many fans will actually bite?  Will you or will you not shell out $400-$500 or more for 2-3 playoff tickets that the Phils may or may not play?  If they do not play, the Phillies will kindly keep your money, without accruing interest of course, and apply it towards next year’s season ticket bill.

Today, I am asking myself that very question.  Let us examine the recent evidence.  On Thursday, the Phillies dropped a depressing game to the worst team in baseball.  Many rookies were involved in the loss, making it slightly more understandable.

Then last night, the team put a whooping on the Astros and won by what was still too close a score for me, 12-6.  Jimmy Rollins led off the game with his 20th home run of the season.  He is now the Phillies season leader in homers, not typical for either a lead-off hitter or a shortstop.  In fact, only 11 other shortstops in baseball history have had 20 home run seasons 4 times or more, like Rollins.

Hits from Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and John Mayberry Jr. turned that 1st inning into 4 huge runs to start the game before Cole Hamels even stepped onto the mound.  Hamels was not super-sharp, but 3 earned runs over 7 innings was sufficient.

Mayberry continued to pound out hits and went 3-for-5 with 3 RBI.  Howard also had 3 RBI on 2 hits.  Another big blow came from Domonic Brown with a 2-run mega-long homer in the 7th.  He hit the ball so hard the Astros pitcher actually fell to his knees in a semi-Wayne’s World gesture of, “We’re not worthy!”  Ok, maybe not…he was probably just depressed.

Still, with all that offense, the Phillies committed 3 errors in the game which allowed 3 unearned runs to the Astros….again, the worst team in baseball.  That kind of sloppy play is what might keep them from making the postseason.

So will you be digging deep into your pockets for potential postseason tickets?  We have, according to my invoice, until 9/21/12 to decide.  That is 5 more games; 2 with the Astros and 3 with the Mets.  Decisions, decisions…

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Playoff Hopes: Fool’s Gold or the Real Deal?

Out of the 9 Phillies Opening Day 2012 starters, 6 have landed either on the disabled list or with another team at some point during the year.  And that does not even include Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who started the year on the DL.  So basically, 8 out of 9 regular starters missed a lot of time this year.  The only one who avoided either a trade or the DL was Jimmy Rollins.

It is fitting then that a 2-run shot from J-Roll last night led the team to a 3-game sweep of the Miami MarlinsCliff Lee did his part as well, allowing just 1 run, which was unearned due to an error, over 7 innings.

The win has placed the Phillies only 3 games back in the Wild Card race, which is something not many people saw coming.  This team was beaten up so badly throughout most of the year and played so poorly that a possible playoff run, until now, seemed impossible.  Here is a look at the Wild Card standings:

But even after a 7-game win streak, is all this new playoff hope just fool’s gold or can the Phillies really sneak in the backdoor?  Consider this:  6 of those 7 games in the streak came against two of the worst teams in baseball, the Marlins and the Rockies.  Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies lost a series to the Mets, who are also pretty bad.

Then again, the momentum of a 7-game win streak could be enough to help elevate the Phillies performance and confidence to the point where they can start stomping on good teams as well.  But we are not going to know if that is possible for a while as the Houston Astros are next on the agenda.  With a record of 45-98, the Astros are by far the worst team in all of baseball.  Losing even 1 of the 4 games against the Astros would be a tragedy.

So maybe this series could be a descent barometer after all.  Because if the Phillies struggle against the Astros, I think the faint light of playoff hopes would be markedly dimmed.  But if they beat the crap out of the Astros, as they very well should, then go ahead and keep the light of hope burning.  Then we can all say, “Watch out National League!  Here come the Phillies…”

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The Case for Kevin Frandsen

In a 3-2 win over the Mets on Thursday, the Phillies’ newest 3rd baseman Kevin Frandsen went 4-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored.  In 107 at-bats this season, he is hitting a very hot .355.  His defense has been solid and rumor has it that he is great in the clubhouse as well.  So, what is the problem?

News reports, staff interviews and sports talk shows all say the same thing:  Frandsen is old, he is not an everyday player and this run he is on is just a fluke.  Frankly, I don’t get it.  Why are all these people so down on Fransden?  I say, give a guy a chance.

First, let us examine this claim that Frandsen is “old.”  He just turned 30 in May.  30 is not old, not even in baseball years.  The only other Phillies infielder younger than Frandsen is Michael Martinez, who will be 30 in 2 weeks.  Everyone else, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, all have at least 2 years or more on Fransden.  In fact, the average age of the entire team, including all the rookies, is 30.

Conclusion: Frandsen may be middle-aged, but he is not old.

And what about this notion of Frandsen not being an “everyday player?”  Frandsen had exactly 1 year, out of the last 7 seasons, during which he almost played everyday.  In 2007 with the Giants he hit .269 in 109 games with 31 RBI.  He then missed all of 2008 with a ruptured Achillies.  Since then, he has not been given another shot at being an everyday guy, except in the minors, where he hit for an average of .292 from 2009-2011 combined.

Frandsen is finally playing everyday and it is paying off.  He is the hottest hitter on the team right now.  So my conclusion on this topic then is, keep watching.  If he keeps this pace up through September, there should be no question that Frandsen can be an everyday player.

As to the charge that this is just a fluke, Frandsen has over 100 at-bats now.  That is obviously not a huge amount, but it is enough to make an initial judgment and .355 is not too shabby.  My conclusion here is the same as before: if he keeps going strong over the next several weeks, I don’t see at all how this is a fluke.  It seems to me that he is finally getting a shot and taking full advantage of it.

All these people need to quit hating on Frandsen and give the guy a chance!  He just might be an option at 3rd base next year.  He would certainly save some salary for the team.  Also, you can be fairly certain that, unlike Rollins and his recent episode, he is going to hustle every time out.

So what do you think?  Feel free to leave comments below.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Cloyd’s Debut & Utley’s Big Idea

A very excited and nervous Tyler Cloyd took the mound for the Phillies last night.  His major league debut would eventually end in a 3-2 loss to the Mets, but the rookie was still happy just to be there.

With Vance Worley finally put on the DL and expected to have elbow surgery, Cloyd will get a few more shots at a win.  He told reporters, “It’s an awesome feeling that they’re going to let me stay up here and show what I can do.

Cloyd allowed 3 runs in his debut over 6 innings and walked 2 batters.  Much of his early struggle appeared to be nerves.  But once he settled down, Cloyd looked pretty good, despite his lower than average fastball.  His location was good and his breaking pitches had some nice, late movement on them.

The bad news is, the Phillies have now dropped 2 games in a row to the lowly Mets.  Depressing.

There was some other near earth-shattering news yesterday as well.  Chase Utley began taking ground balls at 3rd base and later told the media that he asked GM Ruben Amaro Jr. if he could give 3rd base a try.  Amaro figured, why not?

Utley is apparently trying to help the team solve the current 3rd base issue.  With Placido Polanco constantly having back issues and likely not returning next year, the Phillies need a 3rd baseman.  They seem to view Kevin Fransden as a utility guy, although he has played very well at the hot corner.

As for Utley, we all know his is Superman already (except for those bum knees, of course).  But he has not played 3rd base in 10 years, since his time in the minors.  He told reporters, “I figured I’d give it a try just to get back over there, get my feet wet, just get a feel for the position again.” 

This brings up many questions.  Would 3rd base be less taxing on Utley’s knees?  I doubt it.  Does he have the arm strength for the position?  Maybe, maybe not.  Couldn’t the Phillies try Freddy Galvis there?  He adjusted well going from short to 2nd, so maybe 3rd is not a huge leap.

It is nice to see Utley offering to take on something new for the better of the team.  Whether or not that is a realistic option remains to be seen.

In the meantime, the Phillies have to try not to get swept by the Mets this afternoon.  Game time is 1:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Rosenberg Gets Schooled Again / Cloyd Is Called Up

The Mets took Phillies rookie B.J. Rosenberg to school last night as they roughed him up for 4 runs in the 10th inning.  The Mets went on to win and Rosenberg went back to the clubhouse sporting a 12.66 ERA.

As he entered the clubhouse, Rosenberg must have been given a “Baseball for Dummies” book as a gift.  Because in his post-game comments, he told reporters, “Everything was up. It’s pretty simple, you make really bad pitches to good hitters and you’re going to get in trouble.”  So it has taken 5 years in the minors, 13 games and 15 earned runs allowed in the majors and a beating by the Mets to figure that out?  I really hope he reads the entire book…

Ok, I am picking on the poor kid, I know.  He is still learning.  But in the meantime, it is frustrating to see a kid with a 95mph fastball tossing it right over the middle of the plate when he knows better.

Vance Worley had a lot of trouble too, allowing 4 runs in only 4 1/3 innings.  Why is Worley still pitching?  He has bone chips in his elbow and needs surgery.  Why not shut him down and get him healthy for next year.  Because he is not helping the team right now.

Worley says the elbow is not the issue, but can that really be true?  Anyone who has ever had an injury of any kind knows that if you play through it, you will inevitably compensate for that injury in some way.  If my right knee hurts, I lean more on my left knee, even though I know in a week or so my left knee is going to hurt as a result.  The only other option is not walking, which is not really a realistic option.  But it is worse with pitchers because when they compensate, they develop bad habits which can lead to new injuries like shoulder soreness.

Logic then tells us, get Worley off the mound…now.  Of course, I am not the GM so all I can give is my opinion.  Maybe the Phillies need a new book too.  Has anyone yet written, “How Not to Destroy a MLB Pitcher for Next Season for Dummies?”

So despite the Phillies starting this game with a Grand Slam from Ryan Howard and later, a home run from Chase Utley, they lost it 9-5 in 10 innings.

Now who will be the Mets next victim?  That’s right…another rookie fresh out of Triple-A.  Because Cole Hamels has a tummy ache (officially a “gastrointestinal illness”), Tyler Cloyd will make his major league debut tonight at 7:05pm.

Cloyd, named the International League’s best pitcher of the year, had a 12-1 record with a 2.35 ERA in Triple-A this year and a 1.80 ERA in Double-A over 4 games.  Despite all the hype, many “experts” say Cloyd does not have major-league stuff.  Well, we will find out tonight I suppose…best of luck to the kid!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Sweep the Nationals!

It was apparent today that Cliff Lee was determined to win a game at home, something he has not done all year long.  And for most of the 1st 5 innings, it was all Lee, all the time.  He pitched, he hit and he played defense.

The first score of the game came off the bat of Lee who doubled in a run in the 5th inning.  The rest of the team got on board fast, with a 2-run homer from Jimmy RollinsLaynce Nix added a solo homer in the 6th and Lee held the Nats to 1 run in 7 innings for the 4-1 win and a 3-game sweep!

The day before, Roy Halladay continued his journey to being Roy Halladay once again.  He went 7 innings allowing only 2 runs on 7 hits and a walk.

Halladay got our old buddy Jayson Werth to strike out twice and coaxed 2 grounds out from rookie star Bryce Harper.  Both were all smiles before the game, but not after.

The big bopper of the night was John Mayberry Jr. who had two hits, including a line-drive homer to left, and picked up 3 RBI in the game.  Chase Utley drove the other run in and Rollins set the table with 2 walks off another old Phillie, Gio GonzalezKevin Fransden also had a hit and did a lot of cheering for his teammates.

Then in the 8th, the old Antonio Bastardo came back for a visit.  Where has this guy been all year?  He struck out the side, handing a fairly easy save to Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th.

Some other awesome sights at the ballpark on Saturday were creatures from the Philly Zoo and a grinning Domonic Brown, despite having a sore knee:

Despite the sweep, the Phillies are still 9.5 games back in the Wild Card race, so don’t get your hopes up too much.  It is not impossible, however, they’d pretty much have to win every game from here to the end.  But the news is good for next year as the bullpen is improving and starters are getting healthier.

And of course, they just swept the dreaded Nationals.  I cannot think of a better reason to be happy right now.  Here is the full Photo Album from Saturday’s game.

The Phillies have a day off on Monday and the Mets come to town on Tuesday.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Another Nail in the Coffin of the Phillies 2012 Season

The Phillies have lost 47 games so far this season.  Some of them have been very ugly, some of them have been sleep-inducing and some have been downright aggravating.  But last night’s 6-5 loss to the Mets may have been the worst loss for a number of reasons.

For starters, the Phillies were actually able to score 5 runs off one of the best pitchers in baseball right now, R.A. Dickey.  And they should have scored even more.  The Phillies left 9 men on base and went 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position.  They had opportunities and missed out.

Cole Hamels was not spectacular, but he kept the team within a run of the Mets.  Over 7 innings, Hamels allowed 4 runs and walked one batter.  But he was by no means awful.

Then Antonio Bastardo came out in the 8th and actually pitched a 1-2-3 inning.  Based on the rest of his season so far, that was pretty amazing.

The Phillies fought to hang on to that one run lead only to see Jonathan Papelbon, their $50 million closer, blow it in the 9th.  And that is what really makes this one sting more than the other 46 loses.  They stayed in it, they battled and came up short anyway as Papelbon gave up a lead-off double, walked a batter and hit a batter before finally surrendering the winning runs.  It was ugly.

And the timing could not be worse.  This loss puts the Phillies at 13 games out of first place with 78 games left to play.  It is another series lost and one more nail in the coffin of this 2012 season.

Do the math.  The Phillies need to win at least 50 of their last 78 games, based on the current pace of teams in the NL East, to even have a shot at a Wild Card spot with 87 wins.  That means they have to win ALL 22 of the 3-game series’ left and at least split the 3 remaining 4-game series’.  Yes, win or split EVERY remaining series this year.  ALL OF THEM.

Based on the Phillies performance so far this season, anyone out there think that is possible?

It saddens me to say this, but I believe this is the game that signals the end of the 2012 season for the Phillies.  When you look back later for a turning point, this is it.  I hope I am wrong, but things are not looking good right now.

 

 

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