Results tagged ‘ Michael Martinez ’

Unproductive Phillies Offense Leads to Series Loss

The month of June did not start off as the Phillies may have hoped.  After a win on Monday, the Phils went on to lose two straight to the lowly, last place Washington Nationals by a score of 2-1.

Domonic Brown was almost the hero as he blasted a shot to left center that should have scored the three runners on base at the time.  But the Nats left fielder, Laynce Nix, ripped the Superman cape right off Brown’s back, put it on himself and literally flew through the air to snatch the ball out of no-man’s land.  Nix won the tug-o-war battle.

That catch will be on highlight reels all week.  Nix also hit the go-ahead home run off pitcher Roy Oswalt.  He was a one-man wrecking crew.

Oswalt had a descent game, allowing just the two runs.  He was pulled early after five innings in order to send Brown in with the bases loaded, after which Brown was robbed of that big hit.

The real disappointment, however, was watching the Phillies offense revert back to old habits.  They had only five hits in the game, went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left 9 men on base.  Ryan Howard had two of the five hits.  No one collected an RBI as the lone run scored after a Nats error.

Chase Utley is another concern.  He is hitting only .194 since coming off the DL.  And although he appears healthy, his swing is simply not there.  That is especially concerning when you remember that the only thing Utley was able to do the entire time he was injured was hit.

The Phillies have a day off tomorrow to lick their wounds, but things do not get much better on Friday.  They are headed to Pittsburgh and recent history shows the Phillies have a rough time there.  Despite the Pirates fielding fairly awful teams over the years, the Phillies simply play badly in Pittsburgh.  They better hope that changes.

Shane Victorino should be back for the series, which will hopefully be a nice boost for the offense.  However, who will be sent down to make room?

My feeling is that John Mayberry Jr. has to stay, as he is the only suitable center field back-up who can match Victorino’s defense.  Brown should be here to stay.  Michael Martinez is a Rule-5 and the Phils do not want to lose him.  But Ross Gload is injured.  He can hit, but cannot run or play the field.  If it were up to me, he’d be going on the DL to make room.

Another option is pitcher Mike Zagurski, but it seems like the Phillies want an extra pitcher around.  However, Zagurski still has not shown he is a major leaguer.

It is a tough decision.  Glad I do not have to make it :O)

 

Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Cliff Lee Helps Himself to a Win

Just a short 12 hours after a stunning 19-inning victory, the Phillies won again, making it two wins in one day.  The 10-4 victory today gave the Phils a 3-1 series win over the Reds.

 The Phillies hoped that starting pitcher Cliff Lee could go deep into the game as nearly the entire bullpen was worked hard in the previous game.  Lee did not disappoint, going eight innings.  He did allow four runs on 10 hits and a walk, but he kept his team in the game in more ways than one.

Lee himself accounted for two of the Phillies 13 hits and he drove in three runs, two on a double and one more later on a single.  There have been a number of role reversals in the past two days.  Lee was the big slugger today and infielder Wilson Valdez was the winning pitcher in the game before.

Not so backwards was a three-run homer by Raul Ibanez in the third inning.  Chase Utley also hit his first home run of the year today.  Utley has now doubled and homered since coming off the DL on Monday and all is right with the world again.

Utley did appear to twist his right ankle / leg on a play today, which was a bit scary.  However, he kept playing and it looks like we all have to wait until tomorrow to see if Utley bounces back okay.

As for the rest of the offense, some of the younger players are starting to hit, which is a good sign.  The Reds starter Homer Bailey only lasted five innings and then rookie Daryl Thompson took over, making his major league debut.  However, Domonic Brown and Michael Martinez each had a hit off Bailey, so it was not like they were just abusing the rookie.  They hit a solid, veteran pitcher as well.

If the younger guys can keep stringing hits together like this, things may soon look-up for the Phillies offense.

And if injured players keep returning, like Jose Contreras did today, that is another big positive.  Contreras pitched a scoreless ninth inning today and looks like he is ready to pick up where he left off, although Ryan Madson will remain the closer.  And David Herndon was sent back to Triple-A to make room on the roster.

The Phillies will embark on a 9-game road trip next.  They play the Mets in New York Friday night at 7:10pm; Roy Oswalt will pitch.

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Offense Still Missing; More Injuries

I will start with the good news.  Roy Oswalt looked good Tuesday night and had some speed on his fastball.  Through five innings, he allowed only one run, which could have been avoided if third-string catcher, Dane Sardinha knew how to tag anyone at the plate.

And now the bad news….the Phillies offense is still missing in action.  The Phillies collected only six hits, two of which were from rookie Michael MartinezRyan Howard struck out three times and left three men on base, which is unusual for him in his hometown of St. Louis.  Howard normally rakes when he is home.

All together, the Phils left 10 men on base and the only run they scored was unearned after Tyler Greene dropped a routine Jimmy Rollins pop-up.

And now for the ugly…Danys Baez came into a tie 1-1 game in the ninth and proceeded to load the bases before recording an out.  J.C. Romero was in next and he threw only one pitch.  That one pitch went deep center field, handing the game to the Cardinals for a two-game sweep.

And now for the “Oh crap!” moment of the game…rookie reliever Michael Stutes tossed three pitches in the sixth before signaling to the bench that he was hurt.  He left the game with a strained a right side muscle.  No word yet on how serious it is, but this is just one more disaster that the Phillies cannot afford.

The offense has been so bad for this team, I am finally out of words to describe it.  If the Phillies do not find a way out of this slump fast, they will find themselves plummeting down the ranks of the NL East.  The Marlins are only 1/2 game behind them and the Braves are 1.5 games back.  Ugh.

Halladay Loses With a Complete Game

Here is something that should never, ever happen.  Roy Halladay pitched a three-run, complete game against the Braves today and took a loss.  With the rate at which Halladay and other Phillies pitchers, like Cliff Lee, are being hung out to dry by this offense, it may be time to take more drastic measures.

The Phillies were the only team in the majors to not have a starting pitcher lose two games in a row.  That streak ended today as Halladay got his second consecutive taste of how bad this Phillies offense sucks right now.

Just because it is Superman himself, Roy Halladay, on the mound, does not mean that he will toss a shut-out every time out.  The movie Superman managed to turn back time by rotating the earth backwards on its axis, but do not think he will accomplish this feat whenever he feels like it, even in the movies.  There needs to be some basis in reality to keep our attention.

The Phillies batters, however, seem to be hanging around, just waiting for another Halladay or Lee miracle.  Tim Hudson pitched for the Braves today and was almost pulled from the game in the fourth inning with a sore hip, but he managed to go seven innings anyway.  This means that the Phillies managed only four hits off a Grandpa (in baseball years) with a bad hip!

The only reason that Grandpa lasted seven innings was because the Phillies got themselves out.  They swung at bad pitches and were not patient when Hudson began flinging balls all over the place, two feet over their heads or straight into the dirt.

Three of the four hits in the game were from the bench players, Pete Orr, Michael Martinez and John Mayberry Jr. who accounted for the only score with a two-run homer.  Mayberry played center in place of the ailing Shane Victorino.  Both he and Orr each stole a base as well.

So while the bench guys keep trying to resuscitate this team, where are the starters?  Where are the bats of Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez?  Come out, come out, wherever you are!  This game of hide and seek is getting old.

The 3-2 loss gave the Braves the series win, 2-1.  The Braves are now only 3.5 games behind the Phillies in the NL East and the Marlins are two games back.

The Phillies will travel to St. Louis for a short, two-games series next.  Cliff Lee pitches tomorrow, unless he decides to go on strike.  Game time is 7:05pm.

Role Reversal; Blanton Is Hot, The Offense Is Not

Like they did in their last two games, the Phillies jumped out to an early lead Monday night with a run in the first inning against the Brewers.  But also like the previous two games, after scoring in the first, the Phillies offense went to sleep.  So the question is, who put the Ambien in the Gatorade?

The  offense was off to a very good start early in the season.  But suddenly, the bats have vanished.  Pitcher Joe Blanton had the opposite start to the season; he was awful in his first two starts.

Now, the roles are reversed.  Blanton finally looked sharp tonight, throwing 7 solid innings where he allowed just two runs on seven hits and a walk.  The Phillies could not have asked for more from him.


sleepy Phillies ambien.jpgBut Blanton should have put in a request for some offense.  Because the red-hot bats have gone stone cold.  The one run they did score came off a Brewers error which allowed Jimmy Rollins to reach base on what should have been an inning-ending double play ball.  Ryan Howard knocked Rollins in with a single and then, it was nap time.

Both Howard and Placido Polanco had two hits each, but no one else really looked conscious.  In the seventh, they squeaked out one more unearned run after another Brewers error.  That tied the game at 2-2.  A freak double play ended the inning as Polanco hit a low line drive that no human being should have been able to catch.  The ball ricocheted off the pitcher’s back, flew up into the air and somehow, Yuniesky Betancourt snagged it, doubling Michael Martinez off second.

But then Ryan Madson finally had a bad game and gave up the first run of his season.  The Brewers jumped ahead 3-2 in the eighth inning.  Could this sleepy Phillies offense bail him out?

The short answer is no.  Although Pete Orr smacked a game-tying RBI-double in the ninth, pitcher Kyle Kendrick killed any chance at a win.  The game went extra innings and in the 12th, Kendrick had a Murphy’s Law inning.  Anything that could go wrong did.

Kendrick walked the first batter on four pitches and then proceeded to screw up in every conceivable way.  He made an errant throw, a wild pitch, hit a batter and walked two more intentionally.  The only thing he did not do was break down and cry like a little girl, although he probably wanted to.

Three runs later, the Brewers sealed the win at 6-3 as the offense still refused to wake up.  It was a sad loss.

 

Injury Updates

On Sunday afternoon, Chase Utley was running the bases during batting practice.  Today, he was doing sprinting drills.  The fact that he followed a day of running with a day of sprints means he suffered no ill effects from the running.  That is very good news.

Utley has been able to take batting practice and do some infield drills as well throughout the rehab process.  If he can run full speed without pain, he may be on the field soon that expected.

As for Domonic Brown, his broken hand is healing well and he went 2-for-3 in an extended spring game today. 

Roy Oswalt says he feels fine after some back spasms on Friday which caused him to leave the game against the Marlins early.  While no official decision has been made, it appears he will make his next start on Thursday.

J.C. Romero left the game in the ninth after getting the first two outs.  As he lunged for a ground ball, he began hopping and limping.  He has a strained right calf and will likely go on the DL.  And MRI is scheduled for Tuesday.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Hamels Finds His Groove In Win Over Braves


0819 Hamelsb.jpgAfter a nightmarish start to his season, Cole Hamels was hoping to shrink his enormous 20.25 ERA today against the Braves.  In the final game of this three-game series, Hamels came out firing bullets.

For the Phillies offense, scratching out a few runs against the Braves starter Derek Lowe was not going to be an easy task.  So Hamels knew he had to be sharp.  As expected, a pitcher’s duel broken out in Atlanta.

Hamels was on a mission.  Through seven strong innings, he allowed only four hits, no runs and struck out eight batters.  Even better, Hamels looked relaxed and in control, able to work out of what little trouble he got into.

The offense did manage to post a few runs for Hamels, mostly due to a spectacular game from Shane Victorino.  Going 3-for-4 at the plate, Victorino hit two singles and a home run.  The other run scored when Jimmy Rollins hit into a double play with no outs, allowing Victorino to score in the fourth.

Carlos Ruiz also continued his hot streak with two hits.  Then in the ninth inning, Rollins got his first hit of the game, a double that landed him on third base after a Braves error.  Ryan Howard was able to get Rollins home on a ground ball out, giving the Phillies an insurance run and a 3-0 lead.

Jose Contreras entered in the ninth to save the game in what would be a very good test of his skills as a closer.  With rookie second baseman Michael Martinez making a few nice defensive plays plus good pitching, Contreras got the job done.

The Phillies won the series with the Braves two games to one.  After a day off on Monday, the Phillies will take on the Nationals in D.C. on Tuesday.

You Be The Judge

Totally off topic, have you seen the new MLB campaignAlways Epic“?  Released on March 31, 2011, Giants closer Brian Wilson stars in a video series that covers various adventures inside Wilson’s beard. 
Feb 2011 collage beard.jpg
The
video with the tiny ninja’s is especially interesting.  Follow the link to watch it.

Back on February 22, 2011, I posted that exact idea on this MLBlogs site, except I used the beard of Raul Ibanez.  I was making a joke about the magical powers of the Ibanez beard and decided tiny ninja’s would be funny.  Apparently, MLB liked it as well:

So, coincidence or did MLB totally rip off my idea?  You be the judge.

Perhaps it is simply that great minds think alike.  In which case, I expect a job offer from MLB any day now.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Hamels Blows First Start of Season


P8198649 Hamels egg.jpgIt seems that Easter came early for the Phillies tonight as Cole Hamels laid an egg on the field.  To be fair, the Phillies offense did no better.  Hold your breath; this one is stinky.

Hamels got into trouble right away, but the first two innings, he worked out of it.  Then came a disastrous third inning which began with a hit from the opposing pitcher.  Oddly enough, Hamels’ outing ended the exact same way in the exact same inning.

The Mets batted around, scoring six earned runs on seven hits and two walks.  With two outs and the pitcher coming up, again, it looked like Hamels might get out of the inning.  But once again, pitcher Chris Young singled, this time for an RBI.

Young was not done yet either.  Hamels was pulled after 2.2 innings and a frightening 20.25 ERA in his first start of 2011.  But at least Kyle Kendrick tried to make Hamels feel better; he too, gave up a hit to Young.

As for the Phillies offense, the best that can be said is at least they did not get shut-out.  That was thanks to a Wilson Valdez single followed by a Michael Martinez walk and a Placido Polanco RBI-double.

But everything that could go wrong did.  Ryan Howard grounded out with two outs and the bases loaded.  Valdez ended the sixth inning with an old habit that no one missed, hitting into a double play.

And so the Phillies went on to lose the first of this three game series with the Mets by a score of 7-1.  Joe Blanton will pitch tomorrow and try to avoid laying an egg.  Game time is 7:05pm.

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Phillies Historical 2011 Opening Weekend Sweep

Sitting among the second largest crowd in Citizen Bank Park’s history to witness another historical feat was amazing.  All in attendance saw the Phillies open a season at home 3-0 for the first time since 1970 and open a season at home with a three-game series sweep for the first time since 1899.  Yes, 1899.

The one-two-three punch of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt proved to be too much for the Houston Astros to handle.  Oswalt was great today, pitching six innings and allowing just two runs on five hits against his former ball club in the 7-3 win.

It was Oswalt’s first start against his old team in his first start of the season.  But there were many first’s in this game.  Ryan Howard hit his first homer of the season while collecting a team-high four RBI in the game.  Michael Martinez made his first major league start in place of Shane Victorino in center.  Martinez later collected his first major league hit and first RBI in the same at bat.

 

Ben Francisco also smacked his first home run of the season today and made a huge first impression as the starting right fielder this weekend.  With three hits in this game, all he had left to prove was that he could play hard in right.  Francisco accomplished that with an amazing catch in right where he crashed into the wall hard, knocking the “SD” out of the out of town scoreboard.

 

As Francisco gave up his body to make the play, the fans jumped to their feet and screamed his praises.  It was Francisco’s very own “Aaron Rowand moment.”  Remember back in 2006 when Rowand smashed face-first into the center field wall to make a game-saving catch?  He was a home town hero after that.

And while Francisco did not leave the field bloodied and battered, the effort was very much the same.  And just like that, Jayson Werth is a distant memory.

Victorino sat today to rest his sore calf, but was able to pinch-hit later in the sixth and then stayed in the game.  He saw exactly one pitch in his first at-bat and sent it to right for an RBI single.  Looks like the calf is just fine.

The Phillies are off on Monday and start a three game series with the Mets on Tuesday.  Cole Hamels will pitch and game time is 7:05pm.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

 

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

The Final Decisions Before Opening Day

After a few additions and subtractions, the Phillies Opening Day roster is set.

#

Pitchers

#

Infielders

55

Danys Baez

6

Ryan Howard

58

Antonio Bastardo

19

Michael Martinez

56

Joe Blanton

60

Pete Orr

52

Jose Contreras

27

Placido Polanco

34

Roy Halladay

11

Jimmy Rollins

35

Cole Hamels

21

Wilson Valdez

57

David Herndon

#

Outfielders

38

Kyle Kendrick

10

Ben Francisco

33

Cliff Lee

7

Ross Gload

46

Ryan Madson

29

Raul Ibanez

44

Roy Oswalt

15

John Mayberry

16

J.C. Romero

8

Shane Victorino

#

Catchers

#

Catchers

51

Carlos Ruiz

23

Brian Schneider

 

Most notable, Luis Castillo was released yesterday.  After showing up two days late for a very short try-out, the odds of him making the team seemed slim.  And although he did get on base quite a bit, the players already in camp were just as good and much better defensively.

So Wilson Valdez will start at second base in place of Chase Utley with Michael Martinez (photo), who also made the roster, helping out.  Pete Orr, who smashed a triple and showed off his speed on the base path yesterday, also made the roster.  Delwyn Young was sent to the minors.

As for the bullpen, the injury to Brad Lidge’s shoulder left a spot open which will be filled by David Herndon who beat out Michael Stutes for the last roster spot.  Jose Contreras will close for Lidge, who may be out until May or June.

Yesterday’s final exhibition game was a tad sleepy, but having players wandering around the ballpark was neat.  Here is hoping the Phillies make this a new, year-round tradition for the On-Deck series in the future.

Here is the PHOTO ALBUM from the 3/30/11 On-Deck game with the Pirates.

Phillies Sign Luis Castillo As Concern About Utley Grows

Those who were hoping for an Opening Day miracle in the form of a healthy Chase Utley are going to be sorely disappointed.  The signing of veteran second baseman, Luis Castillo, to a minor league deal means that Utley may be down for a long time.


Castillo.jpgThis move seems like the Phillies are taking out the Mets trash in the hope of turning it into treasure.  But Castillo was just released from the Mets for poor performance and a poor attitude.  The move cost the Mets $6 million to eat Castillo’s contract.  With that in mind, they must have wanted him gone very badly.

Once upon a time, Castillo was a very good player.  But this 35-year old is coming off a season where he hit only .235 with 17 RBI and played just 86 games due to injuries.

And guess what body part gives Castillo the most issues?  His legs, more specifically knees, ankles and feet, have been trouble for Castillo for many years now.  So the Phillies are trying to replace a second baseman with a bad knee with another second baseman with a bad knee?

There are at least four guys already in camp with the Phillies who can replace Utley temporarily.  This includes Wilson Valdez, Michael Martinez, Josh Barfield and Pete Orr.  All have hit well, especially Valdez who is batting .419 in 43 at-bats.

But the Castillo contract is low-risk as the Phillies have to pay him less only $414,000 if he makes the 25-man roster.  However, can they accurately assess Castillo’s play with only nine games to go?

This move stinks of desperation from a team that has maxed out its payroll.  And it also does not bode well for the present or future of Utley.

Clearly, the knee issue is much worse than anticipated.  And the fact that surgery has not been done yet is an even bigger red flag.  If the Phillies are so worried that surgery could make matters worse, then Utley’s future, even beyond 2011, is a huge question mark too.

Hang on, Phillies fans.  This is going to be a very long and very strange trip through the 2011 season.

____________________________________________________________

By the way, I have started a new Twitter page dedicated to Chase Utley’s KneeFollow the misadventures of baseball’s most infamous body part, Chase Utley’s Knee.

 

Photo by Eric Kilby, Wikimedia Commons

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

 

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