Results tagged ‘ Nationals ’

Phillies’ Sunday Doubleheader – A Tale of Two Teams

The first game of Sunday’s doubleheader against the Nationals featured a team that could not string together hits and guys who looked like little leaguers on the field, dropping balls and missing bases.  The second game showcased a group of young players having a good time playing baseball and smacking the ball all over the field.  It is too bad that most of the crowd left after the first game; they missed a pretty fun offensive explosion.

In the first game, pitcher Kevin Correia was the victim of the Phillies sloppy defense.  He gave up 3 runs in 5.1 innings, but only 1 of those runs was earned.  Two Phillies errors helped the Nats with the other runs.

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And the offense did little to help; the Phillies had only 5 hits in the game.  Both RBI’s were courtesy of Jeff Francour (who also had one of the errors in the game) who homered in the 2nd inning and singled a run home in the 6th.
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The Phillies could not recover from the 2-3 deficit, even though 4 bullpen players pitched the final 3.2 innings without allowing a run.
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The second game was a very different story.  Rookie pitcher Severino Gonzalez collected both his 3rd major league win and his first major league hit and RBI with a sacrifice in the 2nd and a single in the 4th.  He allowed 4 runs over 5.1 innings, which was not super, but still pretty good for a rookie pitching to a good offensive team.
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And after only 5 hits in the first game, the Phillies’ bats suddenly came to life. The team scored 4 runs in both the 2nd and 4th innings.  Cesar Hernandez had an amazing game with 4 hits and Maikel Franco collected 3 RBI on 2 hits.  Odubel Hererra had 3 hits and an RBI and both Cody Asche and Domonic Brown had 2 hits each.  It was almost as if the anemic crowd made them all less nervous.  They were finally able to relax and just swing away.
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And you could even see the change in their faces.  Players smiled and laughed running out to their positions and for once, actually appeared to be having a good time.  You have to wonder, was it the crowd, the departure of their manager finally sinking in or just the result of a group of guys playing with other guys they actually feel comfortable with?  I know this will cause controversy, but I think it is important to note that 6 of 9 starting players in game 2 were Hispanic (Game 1 had 3).  And with many of them being so young, perhaps they are simply more comfortable playing with guys who speak their language, literally and metaphorically?

I think this is great, especially for younger players who need to find ways to fit in.  And as they get older, they will adapt more easily and expand their friendships.  But right now, maybe the camaraderie is helping?  I could be wrong; this is just an observation of how players reacted to one another on the field.  It was obvious to me that, for whatever reason, they were more relaxed and comfortable in the second game.  Of course, maybe interim manager Pete Mackanin said something magical to them in between games?  Who knows; anything is possible.

Speaking of the interim manager, I would like to add my comments on Ryne Sandberg’s resignation last week.  As I stated in my last post, I felt Sandberg had lost the clubhouse and was not long for this position.  Apparently, he came to same conclusion.  And while I do think his departure is for the best, I do not agree with just quitting.  That is just my personal feeling; I think he should have stuck it out until he was fired.  If he couldn’t handle the pressure, he was clearly not the man for the job, which is unfortunate.  I cannot imagine Sandberg getting another job in the majors, especially as a manager, after bailing on his team.  So that is sad for him as well.

Here is the Photo Album from both games of the Doubleheader…enjoy!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Phillies Settle for Series Win Instead of Sweep

Despite their struggles, the Phillies actually had a good shot at sweeping the Nationals today to end the 3-game series.  But they apparently had one thing working against them: Ryan Howard.  I hate to be so blunt about it, but Howard absolutely stunk up the ballpark today.  He struck out to end an inning 4 times, all with runners on base; and 3 of those 4 times, he had runners in scoring position.  One would think after more than 10 years in the majors, he would learn to stop swinging at balls in the dirt; no such luck.  Howard is now batting .150 only 6 games into the season.

But on to more positive things… Sean O’Sullivan got the spot start today and rewarded the Phillies for their confidence in him.  O’Sullivan lasted 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 1 walk.  Overall, he looked good and kept the team in the game.
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Odubel Herrera, the rookie Rule 5 pick, continues to wow fans with his speed and hustle.  After hitting the walk-off winner in last night’s game for his first major league hit, Herrera collected 2 more hits today plus an RBI and a stolen base.
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Cody Asche also had another great game with 3 hits, an RBI and a walk, putting veterans like Howard to shame.  Asche is batting .429.  Eventually, Darren Ruf replaced Howard in the game and began with a home run in the 7th to put the Phillies in a 2-2 tie, just like the night before.
041215 Ruf

But unlike Saturday’s game, the Phillies could not come back in extra innings to win.  Although, they never stopped trying, which was nice to see.  Even after the bullpen allowed 2 runs in 10th, the Phillies scored in the bottom of the inning and then fell just short of the win, losing by a score of 3-4.

So there have been several encouraging signs to start the season, even though overall, this team is probably not going far with the youth they have and the dried up veterans.  But it was a good game with some energy, which the Phillies have been missing the last several years.

Also, I just want to give kudos to pitcher Jerome Williams.  Going back to last year, Williams is always out engaging with the fans and signing autographs, unlike most of the players.  Today, he even scooped up what appeared to be a 3 or 4 year old fan out of the stands and played catch with him.  He then literally picked the kid up and handed him back to his parents.  It is a rarity to see a major league player truly appreciate his position and give back to the fans to consistently.  The Phillies are lucky to have him!
041215 Williams

So the team is off to New York for an early game tomorrow against the MetsCole Hamels will pitch and the game starts at 1:10pm.

And here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

A New Staff Ace for the Phillies?

Is Jerome Williams for real?  After 3 starts with his third team of the year, Williams has 2 wins for the Phillies and a 1.77 ERA.  He has out-pitched everyone on the Phils starting staff, including Cole Hamels.  And on top of that, he even laid down a perfect safety squeeze in the 2nd inning, collecting only the 2nd RBI of his major league career.  Williams has officially resurrected his previously dead career.  And the Phillies went on to beat the Cardinals by a score of 7-4, taking 2 outs of 3 games in the series.
082414 Williams

Another bright spot in this otherwise miserable season has been Ben Revere.  All the Revere haters have now been silenced.  Despite his weak arm, Revere worked hard and has improved his defense and is also now batting .314.  He is in a 1st place tie for the best average in the National League with Justin Morneau.  Although he can be frustrating at times, I had faith in Revere because he is a positive guy who always hustles and gives his best effort.  The same cannot be said all of the Phillies outfielders.  Keep it up, Ben!  I am rooting for you!
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Speaking of the outfield, can anyone tell me WHY Domonic Brown is still starting?  Have we not yet seen enough?  Whether he feels he is or not, Brown appears lazy and distracted in left field.  His batting average is down to .226.  It is time to give someone else a shot…it has been time for a while now.   You have to wonder who is really calling the shots with the line-up; Ryne Sandberg or Ruben Amaro Jr.?  If it is Sandberg, I have to seriously question his judgment.  If it is Amaro, then Sandberg needs to stand up and explain to his GM that this is HIS team to run.  Because this is getting very old.

Aside from that annoyance, the Phillies offense finally put some runs on the board, which was a nice change for a Sunday afternoon.  Everyone except Ryan Howard had a hit and Jimmy Rollins smacked a 2-run homer.
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The Phillies start a 3-game series with the Nationals Monday night.  Maybe they can spoil the Nats 1st place fun?  In the meantime, here is the Photo Album from today’s win.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Back to Reality as Nats Pound the Phillies

P7131631WDid you get your hopes up after that 5-game winning streak?  And the 5-game winning streak last month?  Well, today was a statement game for the Phillies in their last outing before the All-Star break.  And the statement, summed up in the nice photo to the right of Marlon Byrd getting hit by a pitch with nothing to show for it, was this: “We suck; let the trading begin.”

So just how bad was today’s game?  Let us count the ways…for starters, Kyle Kendrick apparently cannot get out of any 1st inning without allowing at least 3 runs.  And today he did that against the Nationals without recording a single out.  So we were treated to this lovely home run and tongue lashing by our old pal, Jayson Werth.
071314 Kendrick Werth

Later in the game, Kendrick was pulled after 88 pitches which, even though I have obvious reservations about KK, I felt was a big mistake in that spot. Kendrick had already struck out Bryce Harper twice in the game.  So why when Harper came up again was Kendrick pulled in favor of Mario Hollands?  Hollands proceeded to give up a single to him.  Harper scored later that inning and we got yet another Nationals treat, Harper’s hair rounding the bases.  Thanks, Mario!
071314 Hollands Harper

And then there was the Phillies offense, or lack thereof.  Most of the offense consisted of players looking straight up into the air to admire their pop-ups or looking down at foul balls.  It was not pretty.  In the end, they squeezed out 3 runs, but it was far too little, too late as the Nats scored 10 runs.
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Pretty much the only entertainment in this game was watching Byrd chug some mystery red substance before the game (5-Hour Energy, perhaps?  If so, it didn’t work well.) and watching Chase Utley dig dirt out of his cleats.
071314 Byrd Utley

Here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The Phillies will return from the All-Star break on 7/18/14 with yet another likely depressing series against the Braves.  Despite showing signs of life here and there, this team is going nowhere.  Now we must all brace ourselves for big changes…they are coming soon.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Take 2 of 3 From the Nats

The Phillies just barely squeaked out a 1-0 win over the Nationals today thanks mostly to great pitching.  Cole Hamels was scheduled to start but was unable to go as he has the flu.  So Roberto Hernandez, who had not gotten out of the 6th inning yet this season, filled it.

Hernandez was outstanding, going 7 1/3 innings without allowing a run to score.  When he first started to pitch, it looked like he would not be able to throw a strike as he walked 2 batters in the first inning.  But he settled down and wound up with 3 walks and only 4 hits allowed.
050414 Hernandez

The lone Phillies run of the game came in the first inning.  After a Jimmy Rollins triple, Chase Utley singled to score Rollins.  Utley had a very strange day.  After that RBI, he sprinted around the bases on a Marlon Byrd pop fly and got doubled up.  Maybe he forgot there was only 1 out?  And then later he committed an error in the field when he totally missed the feed from Jayson Nix at third on what may have been a double play.

But those blunders did not come back to haunt the Phillies luckily.  And that is a very good thing especially considering the Phillies only managed 4 hits in the game, including a Ben Revere triple.  They also had some very nice plays in the field, which helped.
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The weather was very interesting as well.  It was cold, very windy and bits and pieces of wrappers, bags and dust were floating around everywhere.  Some of the shadows in the field were brutal by the time the relievers came in too.
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My eyes were so dry, at one point, I thought maybe I was seeing things.  See the first photo below to the left…there are 3 guys there, right.  Nope…check out the 2nd photo on the right.  I guess Nix is just so small he blended right in.
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Check out the full Photo Album from the game for more interesting stuff.  There are very nice photos of Domonic Brown with his mother and VERY pregnant girlfriend pre-game during the Mother’s Day celebration.  I also took some photos of our old friend, Kevin Frandsen.  Miss him….sigh!

So a weird 2-game home and away series stars tomorrow with the Blue Jays; 2 games here and 2 in Toronto.  Game time Monday is 7:05pm and Kyle Kendrick will pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Phillies Week In Weird

This has certainly been an interesting week for the Phillies.  Let us review the many weird happenings:

– First, manager Charlie Manual got the axe last Friday and Ryne Sandberg took over.

– People cried, complained and gave Charlie lots of hugs.

Manual admitted to CSN Philly’s Leslie Gudel that he knew he could not win this year or last year with the team assembled as it was.  Shocker.  Not really…

– On Monday, David Murphy of Philly.com posted an article about how the front office was to blame for the Phillies failures.  Also not a shocker…

– The Phillies Triple-A Iron Pigs gave away a free funeral valued at $10,000 as part of a promotion.  Seriously.

– After 2 losses, Sandberg got his first win as manager on Sunday.

– Sandberg got that win, despite starting Michael Martinez at short stop.  Martinez was boo’ed throughout the game, I assume because starting him or just the fact that he is on this team at all, is emblematic of a very troubled 2013 Phillies season.

– On Tuesday, Roy Halladay made a rehab start in Lakewood.  He appear to be near-MLB ready.

– After Tuesday’s game, Roy Halladay spoke out on the firing of Manual.

In his comments, he added that he thought things were being “overlooked” and said, “I mean guys being at places on time, being on the field on time, taking ground balls and taking extra bp and all those little thing that nobody thinks make a difference.”

As those word emanated from Roy’s mouth, the Phillies experienced something like a meteor/asteroid shower as their happy little universe slowly imploded.  All Halladay really said was what we have all been thinking/wondering about for years.  This team lacks discipline and focus.

But the media took those comments to a whole new level, posting headlines that seemed to indicate that Halladay endorsed Manual’s firing, to which he took great offense.

– Also on Tuesday, the Phillies hosted their 6th annual Jewish Heritage Celebration.  I think we can all agree that releasing Delmon Young prior to this event was a good idea.  Because, man, that would have been AWKWARD.

– On Wednesday, Halladay “clarified” his comments and reiterated his love for Charlie, saying he did not endorse anyone being fired.

– Also on Wednesday, the Phillies took out the Washington Nationals’s trash by signing Roger Bernadina, who was cut by the Nats on Monday.  Bernadina is hitting .176 this season and has not had a hit in over a month.  He will fit right in.

–  On Thursday, Philly.com reported on the secret pornography stash at Veteran’s Stadium, presumably, because they had nothing better to report on.

And yes, all of that and more happened in just under a week.  Is this a great time to be a bored Phillies fan, or what?

Maybe don’t answer that question.  Please feel free to go on with your life as originally planned.  Thank you!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Baseball Blues

Hey Phillies fans…anyone else out there suffering from a severe case of the baseball blues?  It is hard not to be down in the dumps after watching this Phillies team continue to suck, game after game.  Getting swept in a 3-game series by the Nationals this weekend had to be the pinnacle of shame and embarrassment in an already dreadful season.

Even dumping Delmon Young could not cheer me up.  Young, who they never should have signed in the first place, was designated for assignment on Friday and replaced by White Sox reject, Casper Wells.  Nothing on Wells’ stat sheet gives me any reason to hope either.  This is the 5th team for Wells this year; that alone is telling.

Just three days earlier, the Phillies also nixed Laynce Nix.  I guess his .180 batting average was just not getting it done (*note sarcasm here).

Know which other Phillies are also just not getting it done?  You guessed right…ALL of them!  So perhaps the entire team will soon be designated for assignment and subsequently be replaced by little league-trained robots.  That would at least sell some tickets.

Oh, Jayson Werth, where have you gone?  That’s right…to the Nationals, where with 7 hits, 4 RBI and a homer he nearly single-handedly beat the Phillies in all 3 games this weekend.  He did look a lot better in red pinstripes….sigh.

The Phillies were outscored 23 to 7 runs this weekend and outhit 36 to 16.  I could count the Phillies runs and hits on my fingers, but had to bust out the calculator to find the totals for the Nats.  That alone was depressing.

So what reason do we all have to keep watching this season?  Here are a few:

– It is like a train wreck; one cannot help but wonder what form this ongoing disaster will take next.

– With 45 games left, can the Phillies still prevent Charlie Manual from getting his 1,000th career as a manager?  He has 999 right now and #1,000 is looking tenuous.

– Can a guy with a .151 batting average this year who is named after a ghost bring this team back from the dead?  C’mon Casper, you’ve got to at least try!

– Will the Phillies single-handedly put Papa John’s pizza out of business with their “50% Off After Phillies Win and score 5 or more runs” deal?

– Every time the Phillies bullpen gives up a run, I get to drink another Mai Tai! (Insert your own drinking game here)

That’s all I’ve got.  Oh, and the Braves are up next…what could be more fun than watching the division leader beat the Phillies to a pulp?  Game time is 7:10pm.  Whoo…hoo.

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Werth Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Bad Weekend Series Leaves Phillies in Limbo

Remember back on Friday night when the Phillies pounded the Mets to the tune of 13 runs?  Remember all those hits and homers?  Ah, memories…

Now back to reality…and reality has hit the Phillies hard this weekend as they dropped 2 games out of 3 to the Mets.  Saturday’s game was winnable, but Cole Hamels floundered again and the offense blew many opportunities.  Sunday’s game was an utter disaster that marked the Phillies 9th time being shut-out this year.

Pitcher Cliff Lee was, once again, killed by the long ball.  The 5 Mets’ runs came off 2 homers and both were hit with 2 outs in the inning.  With All-Star game starter Matt Harvey on the mound for the Mets, Lee did not stand a chance unless he controlled the long ball, which he did not.

The Phillies offense was just as awful; they managed only 3 hits off Harvey and piled up 12 strikeouts.  Domonic Brown got the Golden Sombrero with 4 K’s in the game.  Was it not just 2 days ago this team scored 13 runs?  After their performance on Sunday, you would never imagine this was the same group of guys.

Granted, Harvey is one of the best pitchers in the game right now.  But the 12 K’s tells you that the Phillies could not even manage to make contact with the ball.  Zero walks then equals zero patience at the plate as well.  It was just plain ugly.

And now the Phillies are once again in limbo as management decides whether or not they have any shot at all at making the playoffs.  Personally, I do not see it happening.  This team has lacked consistency all season long; they have too many injuries and no sense of urgency.  But since both the Braves and the Nationals went cold this weekend as well, the Phillies did not lose or gain any ground in the division.  And that will make the decision to buy or sell before the trade deadline even more difficult.

Then again, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. may already have made up his mind after this weekend’s performance.  And certainly no one can blame him if he goes into sell-mode.  This team has not given anyone any real reason to hope, especially after their 2 best pitchers bombed on back-to-back nights.

The Phillies are off today before starting a 3-game series with the Cardinals on Tuesday.  The Cards have the best record in the majors…and that is not good news for the Phillies.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Head to All-Star Break at .500

It was a very weird weekend for the Phillies heading into the All-Star break today.  Sunday’s game commenced a 3-game series with the White Sox that included a postponed game turned into a doubleheader, during which another rain delay occurred.  All 3 games went extra-innings, with the teams playing 24 innings total in one day; each game on Saturday lasted exactly 3 hours, 53 minutes, excluding the 41 minute rain delay.  In the midst of all that, Ben Revere broke his foot by fouling a ball off it; he will be out for about 6-8 weeks.  Very sad news for the Phillies :O(

Sunday’s game went 10 innings, 3 hours and 26 minutes.  Jonathan Papelbon blew his 5th save of the year in this one, denying Cole Hamels yet another win.  But Hamels pitched very well, allowing just 2 runs over 8 innings, which is what kept the Phillies in line for the win.

The offense started strong, but sputtered again later in the game, which has become a pattern with this team.  Still, they managed enough runs to get by.  Hamels, in addition to pitching well, led the team in hits with two; he also had a fabulous sacrifice bunt and a crucial RBI in the 4th inning.

The defense was a bit better on Sunday, although Chase Utley still had a blunder.  Luckily, no damage was done.

The only real damage was Papelbon’s blown save.  However, his teammates got him off the hook.  Utley redeemed his previous fielding error by leading off the 10th inning with a double.  And John Mayberry Jr., getting playing time since Revere is on the DL, singled the winning run in for a 4-3 victory.

Prior to the game, the Phillies All-Star’s, Cliff Lee and Domonic Brown, got their jerseys:

This win was a nice way to send them off to New York and finally put the Phillies at the .500 mark.

The Phils are now 6.5 games out of 1st place and a half-game behind the 2nd place Nationals.  But whether or not they can make a run at the playoffs still seems like a long shot after watching their struggles against a last place White Sox team this weekend.

In 3 games, they left 25 men on base and went 6-for-28 with runners in scoring position.  In Saturday’s 1st game loss, the Sox practically handed the game to them.  But with runners on 2nd and 3rd and no outs in the 9th, they failed to score.  That just cannot happen.  Similar situations played out in the 10th and 11th innings with the same result.  It was gut-wrenching; very difficult to watch.

Now with Revere gone and the bullpen situation still tenuous, there is no way to know how the 2nd half will play out, but the odds are certainly stacked against the Phillies.

While we all wait and see, here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  Enjoy!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Squeak Out Series Win Over Nationals

With a 3-1 win on Thursday night, the Phillies managed to just barely squeak out their 3rd win in the 4-game series with the Nationals…and it was not without drama, as usual.  Even with 4 errors in the game, somehow, this team found a way to win.

Of those 4 errors, 3 belonged to Chase Utley.  He was so off-kilter in the field, one may have wondered whether or not someone spiked his Gatorade.  But he did have a hit in the game and also ran the bases well, scoring a crucial run in bottom of the 8th inning.

The real heroes of the night however, were Darin Ruf and Kevin Frandsen…again.  Ruf started off the 7th inning with a double off the Nat’s lone All-Star, Jordan ZimmermanCarlos Ruiz bunted him to third and then, Mr. Clutch, Kevin Frandsen stepped to the plate.  Frandsen smacked a double into no-man’s land in right-centerfield to score Ruf and give the Phillies their first lead of the night.

In the midst of all that, Kyle Kendrick managed to pitch a very solid 7 innings, despite all the fielding errors and the lack of run support.  And then both Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon broke recent routine and pitched one drama-free inning a piece to nail down the win.  It was as if the stars had finally aligned….

But even after taking 3 of 4 from the Nats, and 2 of 3 from the Braves, the Phillies still have a lot of work to do.

Slightly off topic here, did anyone else see the interview with Darin Ruf that aired a few days ago on CSN Phillly?  He was asked why his offense has improved since being called up.  While I cannot find a video of this anywhere (and there may be a reason for that), he said basically that he was taking advantage of the “detailed scouting reports” that were available in the majors, but not in the minors.

Here is my question – do they seriously not have scouting reports in Triple-A?  Or perhaps they have generic, inferior reports?  Either way, am I the only one who thinks this is a major problem?  You cannot tell me this organization cannot afford to pay someone to produce minor league scouting reports.  Heck, I’ll do it for a very modest paycheck and some free baseball!

Just sayin’…  Thoughts anyone?

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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