Results tagged ‘ Michael Schwimer ’

Phillies Beat Nats in Opener; Schwimer in Trouble Again

The Phillies beat the 1st place Nationals Friday night by a score of 4-2.  It was a very satisfying win considering that these teams have essentially switched places this year, with the Phillies going from 1st to worst for most of the season.

It was probably also very satisfying for Kyle Kendrick who pitched very well for his 3rd start in a row.  Kendrick has received a lot of well deserved criticism for his mostly inconsistent play.  But he does seem to have finally turned things around and fixed whatever issues he was having.  Sadly though, his 21-inning scoreless streak was snapped last night when he gave up a 2-run bomb in the 7th.

Kendrick still pitched a very good game, allowing only 4 hits and 2 walks in 6 2/3 innings.  And the offense helped him out with a couple runs sprinkled here and there.  They did, however, leave a number  men on base again, which seems to be a recurring theme.

But the 4 runs and seven pitchers (yes, 7) were enough to get the win.  Manager Charlie Manuel played bullpen roulette in the 8th inning, going through one pitcher after another to get to Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th.

Luckily, the moves paid off and the Phillies grabbed Game 1 from the Nats.

Before the game, there were whispers of some drama going on behind the scenes regarding relief pitcher Michael Schwimer, who was demoted to Triple-A on Thursday.  Schwimer pitched on Sunday, but now claims to be injured with a sore bicep.  Upset about the demotion, Schwimer is apparently saying he should be on the DL, not in Triple-A.  However, the reasoning behind this complaint may be because, if he is put on the DL, he keeps his major league paycheck and time clock in the bigs running.

So is he really hurt or is he just pissed and wants his money?  The Phillies seem to think he is just fine.  All pitchers have soreness throughout the year; that does not necessarily constitute an injury.  But Schwimer intends to fight the demotion; he did not report to Triple-A and is instead seeking another medical opinion.

Remember back in May when Schwimer got into trouble with the Phillies for this Tweet:

He announced moves that had not been released to the public yet, prompting a strict talking to from GM Ruben Amaro Jr.  On top of that, his performances on the field  since then have ranged from good to awful.  The lack of consistent play, and perhaps his attitude, may be the most likely culprits behind the demotion.

If that is the case, Schwimer is making a huge mess of what was previously a good opportunity for him.  If he is in fact hurt, fine, he has every right to complain.  But if not, with this being the 2nd time he has pissed off Phillies management, Schwimer may be in very hot water…scalding, actually.  I hope for his sake that this ends well.

On to tonight’s game!  Game time is 7:05pm and I will return sometime on Sunday with photos…see you there!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

11th Inning Walk-Off Gives Phillies a Series Split with the Reds

It took a torrential downpour to start the game, 4 runs, 11 innings and 4 ½ hours, but the Phillies finally pulled off a win against the Reds for a series split.  The win also vaulted them into 3rd place in the division.  Imagine being happy about 3rd place back in April…this has been a crazy year.

One person who was not happy about the rain to start the game was Cole Hamels.  He stated after the game, “We have these things called radar detectors and if you can’t read them correctly I don’t know what’s going on.”  After getting into trouble and allowing a run in the 1st while it poured, Hamels was probably having bad flashbacks to Game 5 of the 2008 World Series.  Officials did not call that game until after Hamels relinquished 2 runs to tie the game due in part to the sloppy field conditions.

But that game turned out pretty well, although not until several days later.  The start of Thursday’s game was not delayed as it should have been, so his frustration is easy to understand.  But the extra-inning affair also worked out in the end.  Hamels went 6 innings and allowed 3 runs.

The offense had some issues as well.  It looked like no one could hit Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto until the 6th inning when the Phils finally scored 2 runs.  But once they got the game tied up at 3-3, things got every stranger.

The Phillies started getting on base, but there appear to be a brick wall at 3rd base that no one could pass.  In both the 8th and 9th innings, the Phillies had the bases loaded with only 1 out and did not score.  In the 9th Domonic Brown hit into a double play to end the inning, adding to the frustration.  They left 2 men on base with 1 out in the 10th as well. In all, the Phillies stranded 16 runners and went only 4-14 with runners in scoring position.

Throughout those many irritating innings though, the bullpen did an excellent job of holding the Reds at bay.  5 pitchers went 5 scoreless innings, including Phillippe Aumont who made his major league debut.  He tossed a scoreless 8th inning.

Aumont had been called up to replace Jeremy Horst who was on paternity leave.  But Horst returned, and also pitched, last night.  Aumont stayed and instead, Michael Schwimer was very quietly sent back to Triple-A.  So it appears the Phillies will get a longer look at Aumont to see what he can do.

With the bullpen’s solid effort, the table was set yet again for the Phillies in the 11th inning.  Finally, someone got a hit with the bases loaded.  John Mayberry Jr. singled to left to score Chase Utley for the walk-off victory.  After the game, Charlie Manuel expressed his frustration about all the previously stranded runners by saying, “I feel drained. Really. I kept waiting for somebody to come home.”   Everyone laughed, which is certainly a lot easier when you have won the game.

And now the 1st place Nationals come to town.  There is just something very wrong about that previous sentence…sigh.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Phillies Put it All Together in Win Over Brewers

A rare event this year for the Phillies has been having all aspects of their game working together at the same time.  In an 8-0 win over the Brewers, the pitching, offense and defense all performed very well.

On the mound, Kyle Kendrick took one more positive step towards earning a spot in next year’s rotation.  He went 8 innings, allowing only 3 hits, 1 walk and no runs.  It was his second shut-out start in row.  As I have said before, we all knew Kendrick could pitch.  It was just a matter of seeing some consistency from him; and now, Kendrick appears to finally be on a roll.

The offense did not disappoint either, although it came from a few odd sources.  Michael Martinez, who is hitting only .153, came up with a huge 2-run homer in the 2nd inning to get the Phillies an early lead.  Both Domonic Brown and Kevin Fransden each had 3-hit nights, with Brown collecting 4 RBI.  It was a monster night for Brown who is trying to prove he belongs in the Bigs.

Fransden is opening many eyes with both his offense and his play at 3rd base.  Fransden is really a middle-infielder, but he has adapted very well to the hot corner and has the arm to handle it.  If he continues to improve, the Phillies may have themselves either a very cheap 3rd base option for 2013 or a solid utility guy.

And finally, in the win last night, the Phillies actually got through a whole game without committing an error!  Hooray!  Michael Schwimer pitching in the 9th was as close to an error as they got.  Schwimer loaded the bases before finally recording all 3 outs and keeping the shut-out intact.

The Phillies return home to begin a series with the Reds tonight at 7:05pm.  Roy Halladay will pitch and try to notch 3 wins in a row for the Phils!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Puzzling Predicament of the Phillies 8th Inning

Why no one on the Phillies staff can seem to pitch well in the 8th inning is an on-going and unsolved mystery.   And in last night’s appalling 9-2 loss to the Marlins, this baffling problem was magnified once again.

No one pitched particularly well yesterday, not even Roy Halladay.  He was not bad, obviously, but while 3 runs in 7 innings is great for most guys, it is slightly sub-par for a guy of Halladay’s pedigree.  Still, the offense gave him no support except for 2 RBI from Ty Wigginton, one of which was a solo homer.

But as soon as the Phillies approached that irritating 8th inning, all heck broke loose.  B.J. Rosenburg walked the first batter and then allowed 2 straight singles.  He has been terrible and his 12.79 ERA is screaming, “Send me back to the minors!”  Raul Valdes got an out and then intentionally walked a guy as he was told to before being pulled.  That walk eventually counted against his, which really is not right.  He did his job.

And then the real fun began when Michael Schwimer took over and balls started flying all over the ballpark.  By the time it was finally over, the Marlins had scored 6 runs in one inning.

So what is the deal with the 8th inning and this team?  Look at the chart to the right; the Phillies have a 5.38 ERA in the dreaded 8th inning.  By far, this is where the poorest pitching occurs.  The only thing worse is when they go into extra innings.

This is a clear indication that the Phillies bullpen needs a complete overhaul, but we already knew that.  The frustrating part is that it does not seem to matter who they put in there in the 8th.  It is some weird curse now; pitch in the 8th, get knocked around, end of story.

And while this issue is on-going, something even worse happened in this game.  Jimmy Rollins was clearly not interested in playing last night, and I am apparently not the only one who noticed.  His lack of hustle was blatant and obvious in several situations.  A fan who called him out on Twitter asking him to run out the play because, “youngsters are watching you.”  Rollins responded with, “well u make sure u tell them what to do.”  Oh my.

Clearly, this Phillies season has been fun for no one.  But as fans, we still expect a level of professionalism and effort regardless of the standings.  No one wants to pay to see a bunch of guys making millions of dollars taking their good fortune for granted.  And this is not the 1st time we have seen this attitude from Rollins, which only magnifies the situation.

This is indeed a sad state of affairs all around.  It is really unfortunate as well that these problems have now overshadowed the fact that the Phillies have won 2 series in a row, despite yesterday’s ugly loss.

The Brewers are up next: Game time tonight is 8:10pm.

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Walk-Off In Extras Nails Series Win for Phillies

The Phillies annual Alumni Weekend came to an end today with a huge series win against the World Champion Cardinals.  The 11-inning, 8-7 walk-off win was the cherry on top of a great weekend at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Vance Worley took the mound again, despite needing elbow surgery for bone chips.  The injury appears to be taking a toll on the Vanimal who struggled again, going 5 1/3 innings with 4 runs allowed.

The Phillies offense started off strong with 3 runs in the 1st on a triple from Chase Utley.  In the 4th, Ryan Howard added a solo homer.  But each time the Phils scored, the Cardinals answered and they took a 4-4 tie into the 8th.

With 3 errors in the game, the Phillies still had some nice defensive plays, and others that fell short.  The play at the plate below where Matt Holiday is called safe was a real bummer:

More disappointment was to follow as Michael Schwimer turned a 4-4 game into a 7-4 deficit for the Phils in the 8th, allowing the 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk.

But just when it looked like the game was over, Erik Kratz got up to his new-old tricks again.  With 2 runners on and 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th, he smashed a home run to left to tie the game up again.

But Kratz was not done yet…  In the 11th, he started off the inning with a double.  Sadly, the double was erased when Jimmy Rollins, who had the day off prior pinch hitting in the 8th, hit into a fielder’s choice.  J-Roll later redeemed himself by stealing 3rd, which turned out to be the key to winning the game.  Juan Pierre hustled down the 1st base line to beat out an infield single which scored Rollins for the walk-off win!

Pierre has been one of the few bright spots for the Phillies this year.  It is hard to imagine not resigning him in the offseason, but that drama will play out later…

As for the Alumni in attendance, they had a lot of fun, especially Mike Schmidt who shot hot dogs into the crowd.  You will have to see it to believe it:

There were many other appearances as well, including John Kruk announcing the line-ups,  Dick Allen and Tony Taylor changing bases, and eight former Phillies, including Larry Andersen, Gary Matthews, Ricky Jordan, Ricky Botallico and Von Hayes singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on the field during the seventh-inning stretch.

Botallico, always an amazing sport, even wore the Phanatic’s jersey to entertain the crowd.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Post All-Star Break Baseball Starts on a Sour Note

If anyone was really hoping that the second half of the season was going to be a positive turning point for the Phillies, all hopes were dashed quickly after a depressing 6-2 loss to the Rockies last night.  But it really only took 1 at-bat to see that things were still not going well, as lead-off hitter Jimmy Rollins popped out to start the game.

Did you know that Rollins is in 5th place in all of baseball in fly-outs (does not include line drive outs) with 115?  Shane Victorino is in 7th place with 112.  Hey, at least they are in the top 10 of something, right?

Here are some more not-so-fun stats: Chase Utley has played the field in 9 games this year and has committed 2 errors so far.  The error last night led to an unearned run for the Rockies.  He is also batting just .216.  Ryan Howard, also fresh off the DL, is batting .182.  These guys need more time to adjust to playing every day, but time is running out fast…

The rest of this team, however, is out of excuses.  They are not hitting, playing bad defense and the pitching…well, that has been a disaster.  The bullpen imploded again yesterday as rookie Michael Schwimer gave up 3 runs.

Are you as depressed about this season as I am?  Not sure?  Here, take this test:

We are all pretty much out of reasons for hope at this point.  Now all we can do it hold our breath and wait for the other shoe to drop.  That shoe may collectively include losing Victorino, Cole Hamels, and according to a recent report, maybe Placido Polanco too.

No one really knows what is in store for this team, but we can reasonable surmise, it will not be good.  Continue tuning in to see the train wreck progress!  Game 2 with the Rockies starts at 8:10pm tonight.

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No Doubt, Chase Utley Has Returned!

Chase Utley is back!  Even better, he is healthy and looks like the All-Star player we have known him to be.  Utley announced his return in his first at-bat of the year with a huge bang.  His fairy tale comeback began with a monster home run to center on a 2-2 count amidst 45,000 fans cheering wildly.

The ballpark exploded with joy from the upper levels down to the dugout where teammates showered Utley with man-hugs, high fives and ear-to-ear grins.  It appears the Chutley magic has returned!

As if that moment were not amazing enough, Carlos Ruiz made it even more special with another home run right after Utley’s and while the crowd was still celebrating the first one.  This had to be sign of better things to come for the Phillies.  For one inning, it felt as if the world was right again.

In honor of Utley’s amazing comeback, here is a montage of some of my favorite photos I have taken of him over the years:

Three cheers for Chase!  And 3 hits as well; Utley went 3-for-5 in his first game of the season.

But the elation of the moment was soon squashed by the Phillies dreadful bullpen, which ruined the day.  Short a starter because of the rain-out last weekend, the Phils were stuck with a bullpen game.  Raul Valdes started and, in the 1st inning, things looked promising.  But by the 2nd, things began to unravel quickly.

Valdes allowed a 3 run homer with 2 outs and the pitcher on deck.  Joe Savery took over in the 3rd and managed one clean inning before things got much worse.  He ended up with 5 runs allowed, two of which scored after Michael Schwimer took over with 2 outs in the 5th.  Savery was sent back to the minors after the game.

But the drama did not end there.  The Phillies actually mounted a comeback and cut the 8-2 deficit to 8-7 by the 7th inning.  It looked like they might actually still have a shot to win, which along with Utley’s return, would have been a massive boost for this team.

But the bullpen even managed to ruin that possibility.  That’s right…Chad Qualls strikes again.  Only he hardly threw any strikes.  Once he walked the first batter, it was clear that a large load of crap was about to hit the fan…again.  Sure enough, Qualls gave up 3 runs, including a 2-run homer.  That handed the Pirates an 11-7 win.

So we are left with three cheers for Chase and about three-hundred boo’s for the bullpen.  If this pen sucked any worse, it would be a little league pen.  Folks, this is BAD.  If the Phillies do not find some better arms soon, it won’t matter how many 3-for-5 games Utley has.  And I am pretty sure that Brian Sanches, called up in place of Savery, is not the answer.

Ryan Howard is starting a rehab assignment today, which should have him back with the team at least after the All-Star break.  But again, the Phillies still need a more solidified bullpen if he is going to be able to make an impact.

The final game of this series begins early, at 1:05pm.  Kyle Kendrick, who has been basically dreadful of late, is starting.  Cross all your fingers and toes that he snaps out of whatever funk he is in so the Phillies can win this 4-game series!

UPDATE: Chad Qualls is outta here!  The Phillies cut him today (“designated for assignment”) after many disasterous pitching efforts.  Excuse me for a moment while I do the happy dance…  Ok, I am back.  Filling his spot will be lefty Jeremy Horst, a rookie aquired in the Wilson Valdez trade.  I do not know much about him except he posted a 2.11 ERA in 26 games in Triple-A and he has to be better than Qualls.  We shall see…

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Chooch Leads Phillies to a Big Win

If someone had told me that by the end of June this season, Carlos Ruiz would be leading all of baseball in batting average, I may have checked to see if that person was running a fever.  Chooch has always been a good player; but he has never been .361 with 10 home runs-good.  The 10 homers, including one in last night’s 5-4 win over the Pirates, is a career high.  And it is only June…

So yes, Chooch leads everyone in batting average with .361.  That is better than past MVP’s Joey Votto and Josh Hamilton.  Ruiz has also outhit fellow catchers and All-Star voting leaders Yadier Molina and Brian McCann. Soooooo….VOTE FOR CHOOCH!  We have until Thursday to get him to the All-Star game!

But even if that fails, manager Charlie Manuel told reporters yesterday that he plans on calling Tony La Russa, the NL All-Star team manager, to plead the case for Chooch.  Manuel always sticks up for his players, but especially in this case, Ruiz really deserves the honor.

Chooch put his stamp all over last night’s win.  He went 3-for-4 with a homer and 2 RBI.  And while catching, Ruiz saved two runs from scoring by blocking the plate and tagging out the runners.

The biggest of those plays came in the 7th inning after starter Vance Worley got into a real jam.  With no outs, 2 runners on base and 1 run already across, Worley was removed and rookie Michael Schwimer took over.  Schwimer coaxed a ground out and then a short fly ball to left.  One the fly ball, John Mayberry Jr. made a great throw home, which Ruiz caught and tagged the runner for an inning-ending double play.

That play kept the Phillies lead intact and Chooch’s subsequent homer added to that lead.  The home run he hit in the 8th turned out to be a game saver as closer Jonathan Papelbon struggled in the 9th, allowing a solo homer.  But the Ruiz blast made the difference in the 5-4 win.

The Phillies have now won 2 of the first 4 games against the Pirates, which is great news; because tonight’s 7:05pm game is going to be started and finished by the Phillies bullpen.  The rainout on Friday forced a juggling of the pitching staff, leaving them 1 starter short this week.  So Raul Valdes will start the game and likely pitch 3 innings, passing the ball on to the rest of the pen after that.

And while you are watching the game, do not forget to VOTE FOR CHOOCH!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Dear Phillies, Please Stop Toying With Our Emotions

After two big wins over the Rockies on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Phillies failed to sweep the series with a loss on Thursday.  And the Rockies are a team they very well should have swept.

The first two victories gave fans hope that this struggling team might finally be getting their act together.  They played well and showed a winning attitude.  But last night’s disaster saw those hopes dashed and frustration set it once again.

It is not that they lost the game.  This is baseball; losses happen.  The issue is how they lost the game.

Let us begin by looking at the opposing pitcher, Jeff Francis.  This guy had a minor league deal with the Reds this year, who finally released him.  The Rockies picked him up and Francis had a 12.46 ERA in 2 starts for them coming into this game.  This is a guy that the Phillies should have absolutely pounded.

Instead, they left 7 men on base and went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.  Worse than that, the Phillies continue to fail to score runners from 3rd with less than 2 outs.  In the 2nd inning, Jimmy Rollins, who homered to start the game, popped out with 1 out and a man on third.  J-Roll had 2 pop-outs and a ground ball double play to go with his solo homer in this game.

Then in the 8th, the Phillies squandered a lead-off double by Ty WiggintonHunter Pence struck out swinging at a crap pitch…again.  Carlos Ruiz flied out and Shane Victorino popped out to end the inning.  Both Pence and Victorino walked back to the dugout to a chorus of boo’s from the frustrated fans who are tired of watching the same mistakes over and over and over…

As for the pitching, Vance Worley and his bone-chip plagued elbow were a bit shaky.  But he kept the team in the game and walked off the mound to a 2-1 score with the Phillies trailing.  Still, he did all he could.

But the bullpen failed once again.  Chad Qualls had a bad inning but escaped without allowing a run thanks to a good defensive play by Ruiz at home plate.  Still, Qualls heard the boo’s too as his season has been much worse than you would expect from a veteran bullpen guy.

The problem there is that the rest of the pen is mostly rookies who are clearly not ready for the bigs.  Between Jake Diekman and Michael Schwimer, the Rockies padded their lead to a 4-1 score.

Down by 3 runs in the 9th, there would be no comeback on this day as the Phillies went down in order.  Yes, right back to the old 2012 ways we have become so accustomed to this season.

A 3-game series with the Rays begins tonight and fans can only pray for a miracle.  Cliff Lee will try, once again, to get his first win of the season.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Disaster Continues as Phillies Drop Series to the O’s

Losing their second straight game to the Orioles, the Phillies leave town today 8 games behind in the NL East and in last place.  But today’s loss was special.  It sucked more than most.

The Phillies had the bases loaded 3 times with Carlos Ruiz as the batter and scored only 1 run on a wild pitch.  When your best player cannot get a hit 3 consecutive times with the bases loaded, you know it is going to be a very bad day.

But worse than that, Cliff Lee still does not have a win, even after 10 starts.  Although today, it was actually his own doing.  Lee blew a 3 run lead by giving up a 3-run homer in the 4th inning.  As a result, Lee’s ERA finally floated above 3.00; he is currently at 3.18.

So not only did the offense and pitching suck, the defense was bad again too.  After 9 errors this season, including a big one today, Ty Wigginton should not be playing 3rd base…ever.  His huge error in the 10th cost the Phillies the game.

However, with Placido Polanco sidelined with a bad wrist, Wiggy keeps getting the nod. They could put Michael Martinez at 3rd, but then you are stuck with Mike Fontenot at 2nd and his defense has been worse than anyone expected.  We are talking little league level here…bad.

The pickings are slim and so therefore are the Phillies chances at recovering from this disaster.  It may be too early to give up just yet, but it is a tempting thought.  Why not bring up some more Triple-A guys and see who rises to the challenge?  I am sure Domonic Brown would agree.

Here is a small piece of good news:  Michael Schwimer found his groove in 3 innings of scoreless relief today.  Sorry though, that is all I have on the good news side.

Monday is an off-day as the battered Phils fly to Minnesota to take on the Twins for 3-games.  Oh wait, that might be good news…the Twins suck about as bad as the Phillies do.  See, it is the little things that make us happy.  Or, not…

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