Results tagged ‘ Mets ’

Happy Cliff Lee Win Day!

Yes, it is the 4th of July.  But more importantly for the Phillies, it is Cliff Lee Win Day!  Appropriately, fireworks and celebration will be seen all over the land!

It only took 3+ months and 83 games, but Lee finally won a game.  Hey, you know what Lee’s favorite holiday is?  That’s right!  Independence / Cliff Lee Win Day!

Over 8 innings against the Mets, Lee allowed just 2 runs, one of which was a solo homer.  He struck out 9 batters and only walked 1.  THIS is the Cliff Lee we have all been missing.  Finally, he is back!

This day was also the first win for Chase Utley.   7 games ago, Utley played his first game of the year after a long rehab of his shoddy knee(s).  In that game, he hit a home run in his first at-bat and then Carlos Ruiz did the same right after.  Oddly enough, that combination set off a 6-game losing streak.

But tonight, Utley and Ruiz went back-to-back again, apparently spinning the universe back into the correct direction and producing a Phillies win.  The earth is back on its axis and gravity is once again in proper alignment.  Whew!

That home run combo gave the Phillies a 3-2 lead which they added onto in the final two innings.  Jimmy Rollins no-hit streak ended and he drove in 2 runs.  And Ty Wigginton added 2 more RBI with a home run in the 9th.

So both Utley and Lee get their first wins of the year with a 9-2 final score.  After the game, Lee had bear hugs for Chooch and was later greeted with a chilly Gatorade bath.

Could this be the big win the Phillies needed to get back on track?  We can only hope so.  Certainly, we can at least see that this team is still capable of winning.

Game 3 with the Mets starts tomorrow at 7:10pm.  Cole Hamels will have to face R.A. Dickey; the knuckleballer has been on fire this season.  But in the meantime, sit back, relax and enjoy the fireworks in honor of Cliff Lee Win Day!  Whoo hooo!

Oh, and Happy 4th of July, too! :O)

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Lee & fireworks photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Get Wrecked by the Mets for 6 Straight Loses

An 11-1 loss against the Mets tonight was a complete and utter disaster on all sides for the Phillies.  The pitching stunk, the offense was invisible and the defense phoned it in too.

Vance Worley had the worst start of his career, allowing 6 runs in only 4 innings.  When Raul Valdes took over, he left 2 runners on base in the 6th before being pulled with 2 outs recorded.  Why was he pulled?  Because apparently, he was not giving up enough home runs.  So the Phillies brought in Brian Sanches from our minor-league bullpen to take care of that.  David Wright thanks him for the 3 RBI.

Behind the pitchers, the defense was not great either.  John Mayberry Jr. missed a fly ball he should have caught.  Chase Utley made a mistake on what could have been a double play ball.  Instead, both runners were safe.  And Placido Polanco was charged with a throwing error.

But the offense was even worse.  The Phillies managed only 3 hits and went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position.  The only Phillies run in the game was a solo homer from Carlos Ruiz in the 2nd inning.

Folks, this is as bad as it could possibly get right now.  This game was the epitome of this horrible season, now more than halfway over.  We could all try chanting the insurance jingle, “Like a good agent, State Farm is there…with a 10-game winning streak!  Poof!”  But I have a very bad feeling that even that will not help.

Instead, you could go to blast some virtual home runs online at statefarm.com/gotobat for the chance to win two tickets to the World Series.  So even if the team doesn’t win, you can get back that feeling of good baseball, even if it is just a virtual version.

I mention that because the Go To Bat charity has offered me a video interview with Ryan Howard!  I will be posting that sometime next week during the All-Star break; Ryan will be in Kansas City promoting the charity and I have a few fun questions for him.

So there is a little bit of good news in the midst of a whole bunch of bad.

The Phillies will try once again to conjure a win tomorrow at 1:10pm.  Start praying for a 4th of July miracle!

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Utley photo 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

 

Injuries and Questions Plaguing the Phillies

As I am sure many of you are already aware, Roy Halladay has been placed on the DL with a right latissimus dorsi strain.  His projected time for recovery is 6-8 weeks.  The good news is that the strain is a Grade ½ which means he just needs rest for the muscle to heal.  The bad news is he will be gone probably until August.  Yikes.

In regards to how long this has been going on, pitching coach Rich Dubee told the media, “I’ve thought since spring training that there was an issue.”  My question then is, why was nothing done about this sooner?  Why no MRI in spring training?

Of course, Halladay probably down-played the issue thinking it was nothing serious.  But if you are paying a guy $60 million dollars, isn’t it your obligation to do everything possible to ensure the health of that player?  In my opinion, this should have been handled in March.  Luckily, the muscle did not tear in the meantime, but damage to the team was certainly done by allowing this to drag on.

The overwhelming sentiment in the press has been, “It could be worse,” referring to a potential tear or rotator cuff injury.  But really, any injury with any player “could be worse.”  What they should be doing instead of telling us how great it is that this is not worse is asking some real questions.  Like, why was this not addressed earlier?

This also raises questions for me about the team management, from the top brass to the training staff.  Because the Halladay issue does not seem to be the only thing they missed.  What about Chase Utley?  Should they have done more in the offseason to ensure Utley was healthy, especially after the 2011 knee problem?

But it is also easy to see why the team was maybe playing the “ignore it and it may go away” game.  Imagine for a minute if they did check Halladay out in spring training.  Now imagine having Halladay, Utley and Ryan Howard on the DL to start the season.  How many fans do you think would have immediately written the team off with that kind of start?  I would assume the Phillies would have asked themselves the exact same question.

As it stands now, those 3 players make up 32% of the entire team $174.5 million payroll.  That is $55 million sitting on the DL.  Ouch.

So, you still want to look on the bright side?  Ok, think of it like this: Halladay is not really hurt.  He is simply having his bionic parts tuned-up.  As with most bionic men, this procedure can take some time.

Then when Halladay returns, he should be right back to his robot-self!  Awesome.

My next question is, could the Phillies be playing the same “ignore it and it may go away” game with Joe Blanton?  Missing most of last season with a sore elbow, Blanton was also seemingly left to his own devices all off-season and did not have surgery.

Blanton came back and appeared healthy and pitched very well in April.  But then May rolled around and it all went downhill.  In his last 3 starts, Blanton has not made it past the 5th inning and given up a total of 19 runs.  That is an ERA of 12.52 in 3 starts.  Last night against the Mets, he allowed 6 runs in 5 innings which lead to a 6-3 loss.  Am I really the only one who finds this pattern disturbing?

Ok, let’s examine the bright side once again…Cliff Lee pitches tonight!  Yes, it is Lee vs. Gee once again.  And Lee could actually pick up his first win of the year before May ends!  Cross your fingers…

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Career Day for Wigginton Leads to Phillies Win

After a rough day on Sunday with a loss to the Cardinals and Roy Halladay pulled early due to shoulder soreness, the Phillies needed a serious lift.  Seeing Carlos Ruiz scratched from today’s line-up with a sore hamstring was also not the good news this team was looking for.

But with Cole Hamels on the mound, you had to think the Phillies had a shot against the Mets.  Hamels delivered again with 4 runs allowed in 8 innings.  Technically Hamels’ worst outing of the season, this would have been a great day for most other pitchers.

Still, 4 runs has been no small challenge for this Phillies team and their up and down offense.  But one guy came through in the clutch; Ty Wigginton.  With a career high 6 RBI in the game, including a 3-run homer and a double, Wigginton put the team on his back and carried them to a victory.  Wiggy was also walked twice and went 3-for-3 overall, putting him on base in all 5 at-bats.

John Mayberry Jr. also had a multi-hit day with a single and a 2-run homer.  Wiggy and Mayberry combined for all 8 of the Phillies runs in the 8-4 win.

Going forward, the starting rotation still has some question marks.  Halladay will be examined when the team returns to Philly later this week.  And Vance Worley, although still on the DL, appears to be making progress.

Joe Blanton is another question mark as he has allowed 13 runs in his last 2 starts.  If he can bounce back Tuesday night against the Mets, that would be a big relief for everyone concerned about the starting pitching right now.  Game time is 7:10pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

From Extreme Highs to Extreme Lows

This has been an up and down year so far for the Phillies; feast or famine.  And we never know which one is coming and when.  They win 6 in a row, lose 4 in a row and then win 4 in row.  Up, down, up down…repeat…

Someone needs to stop the roller coaster and  let me catch a break.  This has been exhausting.

On Saturday, another extreme high occurred when Kyle Kendrick pitched his first career complete game shut-out for a 4-0 win over the Cardinals.  Kendrick’s season has mirrored the team as a whole; some ups and some downs.

But after winning that 4th straight game, Sunday brought on another extreme low.  Roy Halladay got blown up in the first inning against the Cards with a grand slam, putting the Phillies in a quick 4-0 hole.  But worse than that, after just 2 innings of work, Pete Orr suddenly appeared in the on-deck circle to bat for Halladay. This left many scratching their collective heads…

As it turns out, Halladay was pulled for having “right shoulder soreness.”  There has been no word yet on what exactly this means or how serious it may be.  However, one can surmise based on Halladay’s last several outings, that this is not a new issue.  Halladay has not looked right for some time now.

After a 1.95 ERA in the month of May, Halladay pitched to the tune of a 6.11 ERA in May.  Obviously, something is going on.  But with the cloak and dagger routine the Phillies brass has employed this year in regards to injured players, like Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, we may never know the full truth.

And as if that was not enough drama for one day, Utley got hit with a foul ball while sitting in the dugout during the 7th inning.  It appears to have hit his hand and then knocked his sunglasses off his face.  No one looked terribly concerned afterwards, so we shall assume for now that he is fine….aside from 2 bum knees, of course.

The Phillies walked away with an 8-3 loss today, although they did win the series 3 games to 1, which is the good news.  But as has been the case all season long, what lies ahead next is anyone’s guess.

A 3-game series with the Mets begins tomorrow in New York.  The Memorial Day game time is 1:10pm; Cole Hamels will pitch.

 

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Photoshopping and head shots by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Hitting Rock Bottom

You may have thought that the Phillies hit rock bottom days ago.  It was hard to imagine things getting much worse.  And yet, it did get worse.  After getting swept in 3 games by the Mets yesterday, I think we can officially say, here it is; rock bottom.

And it is not because they were swept by the Mets that this is rock bottom.  It is because of the manner in which they were beaten, or slaughtered, if you prefer a stronger term.  Murphy’s Law even entered the equation last night.  Anything that could go wrong did.

Through the first six innings, we saw a glimmer of hope.  The offense was hitting, Cliff Lee was pitching well in his first start off the DL; he even collected an RBI for himself.  But not wanting to push Lee too hard in his return, he was pulled after 6 innings.  From the time the 7th inning began, it was clear that the Phillies bullpen would pull out all the stops to LOSE the game.

Let me begin by saying I have never been impressed with Kyle Kendrick as a pitcher.  I am sure he is a fine human being, but his pitching usually leaves a lot to be desired.  He is inconsistent, he gets rattled easily and he wanders about with that awful, sad puppy look on his face.

And last night, he managed to impose the sad puppy face upon every Phillies fan watching the game.  With a 4-2 lead to start the inning, before he recorded a single out, Kendrick gave up a double, 2 walks and then hit the 4th batter to force in a run.  By the time the inning ended, the Mets had 3 more runs and a 5-4 lead.

But Kendrick was not done yet.  He gave up 2 more runs in the 8th without recording an out.  Jose Contreras helped him out and added a run of his own.  Then Brian Sanches gave up a solo homer in the ninth.  That is 8 runs out of the bullpen, 7 of them earned runs, which led to an embarrassing 10-6 loss.

The defense added to the humiliation as Shane Victorino dove for a ball which wound up flying right by him.  And Hunter Pence dropped an easy fly ball that was right in his glove.

Manager Charlie Manuel was so disgusted after the game, he finally ripped into the team.  Manuel said they needed to play better and prepare better.  The preparation bit is what was alarming.  Are these guys just strolling into the ballpark without getting ready physically and mentally?  That sure is what it seems like.

That would also confirm my theory that this team is not focused and an overall sense of complacency has set in.  Complacency or apathy could be occurring for a variety of reason including past success, arrogance about one’s abilities, off-field distractions, making a ton of money and the fact that many of these guys have already won the big prize.

While I would hate to think that about this Phillies team, the reality is that all of those factors may be playing a part.  As an example, you know who is the opposite of complacent?  A guy like Freddy Galvis, who is working his behind off.  Galvis was a homer short of the cycle last night, plus his defense and intensity are off the charts.  Why?  Because he has something to prove.  He is trying to stick in the majors, make a good impression and someday, get his payday.

Look around this team.  Are there guys who look a bit less focused than others?  You know how they say hitting is contagious?  Well, so is complacency.

I would say a number of changes are coming this team’s way in the very near future.  They have already sent reliever Joe Savery back to the minors.  Michael Schwimer went as well.  Here is what I think they should do:  If someone is not doing their job, like the entire bullpen, for instance, then bring in someone who will get it done or at least give you a complete effort.

I do not care if they stock this team full of rookies.  Because if they are going to suck, I’d rather see players out there who are giving it 100% and living up to their potential.  This team has spent way too much money on talented players to be this bad.  They need a shake up…fast.

Thursday is an off-day, which many of the players will spend at a Chase Utley charity event this evening.  But on Friday, the Padres come to town and they need to be ready.  Cross your fingers…

 

 

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Player photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Dead Last

I am not sure which word in my article title is more disturbing; “dead” or “last.”  If you haven’t looked at the NL East standings lately, take a moment to prepare yourself for the worst.  The Phillies are dead last and the only team in the division that is playing under .500 baseball.

At the start of the year, we all figured they might snap out of it but that is just not happening.  They just plain suck.  And that fact was no more evident than last night against the Mets in a 7-4 loss after leading by 4 runs at the start of the game.

Here is what we have learned about this Phillies team recently:  They cannot hold a lead.  The bullpen stinks.  The offense is schizophrenic; you never know what might happen next.  Wikipedia defines schizophrenia as “…disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social or occupational dysfunction.”  That about sums it up.

The Phillies took a quick 4-run lead in this game, thanks in part to a Hunter Pence 2-run homer.  John Mayberry Jr. had 2 hits and is starting to find his swing.  But that is where the good new ends.

Joe Blanton left the game with 2 outs in the 7th inning and 2 runners on base.  Then Chad Qualls punched him in the gut by allowing both runs to score.  Adding to the disaster, Pete Orr botched a play at second base, which led to the Mets to taking a 5-4 lead.

Late in games, a one run deficit seems almost impossible to overcome for this team.  So as if that were not bad enough, reliever Michael Schwimer added 2 more Mets runs in the 8th.  That was the nail in the coffin.

You could not even change channels last night for some relief. The Flyers lost and were ousted from the playoffs.  The Sixers lost and have to play again on Thursday.  There was no escape…it was a very bad day for Philly sports.

But the drama continues tonight as the Phillies will attempt to salvage one lousy game from the lousy Mets.  Ugh.  Cliff Lee will come off the DL and pitch starting at 7:05pm…he is our only hope for a win :O(

 

 

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The Downhill Trend

Things have been headed steadily downhill for the Phillies this season.  A loss to the Mets last night by a 5-2 score simply added emphasis to that fact.  Roy Halladay had a solid start, allowing just 2 runs in 7 innings.  But the offense left 10 men on base and went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

In a tie game in the 9th, closer Jonathan Papelbon gave up a 3-run homer to a rookie, Mike Nickeas.  It was his first major league hit.  You cannot pin the loss on Papelbon, however, I am tired of the excuses for closers in a non-save situation.

I understand the mental part of the game, the lack of adrenaline in a non-save situation, yada, yada, yada… Whatever.  But for the amount of money these guys get paid, I personally feel I could overcome any mental obstacle thrown my way.  These guys want an adrenaline boost?  Tell them to look in their checkbooks before taking the mound.  That would certainly fire me up.

Before the game, Cole Hamels was suspended 5 games for hitting Nationals rookie Bryce Harper with a pitch and then admitting he did it on purpose.  Let me get this out of the way: Hamels was honest, but it was the wrong thing to do for his team.  Entertaining maybe, but still wrong.

However, as wrong as he was, many others added to the pile of wrong-doing afterwards as well.  Nationals GM Mike Rizzo blasted Hamels saying, “I’ve never seen a more classless, gutless chicken [bleep] act in my 30 years in baseball.”  Really?  Isn’t publically calling someone a classless, gutless chicken via the media just as classless and gutless?  Be a man and tell it Hamels’ face.  Rizzo is just as “fake tough” as he proposed Hamels is.

And how about the retaliation when pitcher Jordan Zimmermann hit Hamels with a pitch?  Was that not also childish, classless and gutless?  Zimmermann refused to admit he did it on purpose, so he did not get suspended.  But everyone involved knows the truth.

These guys are like children in a sandbox.  And all of them are wrong.  Their mama’s must have missed out on teaching them some important lessons.

So just for fun, here is the conversation I imagine between Hamels & Rizzo, spoken solely in “old school” parental clichés:

Hamels:  If you keep frowning, your face will get stuck like that!

Rizzo:  This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you.

Hamels:  If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Rizzo:  You bit off more than you can chew.

Hamels:  No use crying over spilt milk. 

Rizzo:  One bad apple spoils the bunch.

Hamels:  You are full of piss and vinegar.

Rizzo:  Revenge is a meal best served cold.

Hamels:  Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Rizzo:  What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Hamels:  Absence makes the heart grow fonder.  Goodbye.

 

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Cain vs. Unable: A Total Waste of Lee’s Performance

The Phillies awful offense was unable to scratch out a single run for their pitcher who battled through 10 innings of work against the GiantsCliff Lee became the first pitcher to go 10 shutout innings in a losing game since Brett Saberhagen of the Mets lost to San Diego in 1994.  I am pretty sure this is not a record he was interested in setting.

But against Giant’s pitcher Matt Cain, the Phillies offense seemed uninterested in hitting.  They managed just 4 hits.  They had a shot to score in the 10th after Carlos Ruiz doubled and was sent to third with a sacrifice bunt by Freddy Galvis.   But Jim Thome struck out and John Mayberry Jr. grounded out.

Lee was finally pulled after 10 innings and Antonio Bastardo took over in the 11th.  After Bastardo coaxed what should have been a double play ball out of Brandon Belt, Ty Wiggington at 3rd fumbled and everyone was safe.  Then Melky Cabrera did what the Phillies could not all series long; take advantage of a mistake.  His single scored the only run in the game for a Giants win.

You cannot blame Wiggington for the loss, although he did not help.  But why was Placido Polanco not put in for defense this late in a game where the starting pitcher put in such an amazing effort?  And where were the bats?  Lee deserved a better effort than this.

The Phillies have now lost 2 straight series and continue to dig themselves a huge hole early in the season.  As for the National League East, the Phils are dead last.  Looks like it is going to be a long season…

 

 

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