Results tagged ‘ Nationals ’

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

Lannan and Revere Pound the Nationals

Visions of pitcher John Lannan must have haunted the National’s dream last night after he held them scoreless for 8 innings in a Phillies 3-2 win.  It was Lannan’s best outing of the year and the first time since 2009 that he made it through 8 innings.  Lannan completely dominated his former team, which had to be the cherry on the sundae for him.

Lannan had some help last night as well.  Ben Revere had 3 hits and scored twice, while showing off his acrobatic moves.  After sliding hard into home plate in the 6th inning, Revere lost his balance and flipped over onto to his head.  He turned the handstand into a full gymnastics flip, which announcer Gary “Sarge” Matthews termed an “upsie-do,” thus coining yet another Sarge-ism.

I said before the season began that Revere was going to surprise everyone, countering the naysayers about the trade.  I had hoped the surprise would come sooner than it did, but here we are and Revere has been outstanding for the past 2 months.  He is batting .300, stealing bases, getting extra base hits and scoring…a lot.

Not to mention that little Ben is cute as a button.  He is like an adorable, yet slightly spastic, little puppy dog, bouncing around to win your attention.  I seriously want to pat him on his head and feed him a milk bone.

Puppy’s aside, this team is not out of the woods yet.  The bullpen remains a serious issue.  Even Jonathan Papelbon nearly blew a 3-run lead last night.  His outings are beginning to conjure memories of past Phillies closers who, aside from Brad Lidge in 2008, were frustrating fans with every pitch.  Let us hope the Phillies do not need to use him for at least a game or two.

Cole Hamels will pitch tonight; game time is 7:05pm.

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Photo – Courier Post Online: Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

Pettibone, Umpires Frustrate Braves in Loss to Phillies

The Atlanta Braves did not think it was very sunny in Philadelphia after losing to the Phillies by a score of 7-3.  Even in blinding sunshine and near 100 degree temperatures, it was a dark day for the Braves.

Rookie pitcher Jonathan Pettibone was outstanding against a heavy-hitting Braves line-up.  Freddie Freeman was so frustrated after striking out at one point that he smashed his bat into the ground, picked it up and then smashed it again.  And B.J. Upton was thrown out of the game after mouthing off to the umpire about calling him out on strikes in the 5th inning.

Pettibone went only 5.1 innings, likely due to the excessive heat.  It was obvious he was getting tired.  But he did manage to leave with only 1 run allowed.

Both the Phillies offense and defense were solid.  Domonic Brown had 2 hits, including his 23rd homer of the year.  Darren Ruf, starting for Ryan Howard who is now on the DL, had a hit, a walk and scored twice.  Carlos Ruiz added 2 hits as well.

The only defensive snafu was when Michael Young, who has been not great at third base lately, nearly ran over Jimmy Rollins going after a pop-up:

And for the most part, the Phillies bullpen held steady.  J.C. Ramirez allowed 2 runs in the 6th; those were his first runs allowed since being called up.  Aside from that, things were mostly quiet from the 6th inning on.

The Phillies took 2 of 3 from the Braves with this win today.  Still, with Howard’s future uncertain and a very young and inexperienced bullpen, this team is going to have to annihilate the Nationals this week to keep GM Ruben Amaro Jr. from breaking up the team.

Here is the Photo Album from today’s game, including shots of Roy Halladay actually throwing pitches before the game!  The Doc may not be done just yet…

Game time Monday night is 7:05pm.  John Lannan will pitch.

Home, Sweet Home for the Phillies

After an abysmal road trip where the Phillies lost 7 out of 10 games, this team had to be relieved to be back in Philadelphia last night.  They took an absolute beating from the Brewers, Twins and the Rockies.  If you Google the meaning of “bad baseball,” this road trip should be used as an example.

But things looked a tad brighter after last night’s 5-4 walk-off win against the NationalsJohn Lannan returned to the rotation after a knee injury and pitched well; Ryan Howard finally broke out of his home run drought; and Domonic Brown seems to be getting hot again.  He even delivered the game-winning RBI single in the 9th.

Despite the win though, I simply cannot stop thinking about the awful road trip.  In particular, I am greatly disturbed by the events that have taken place at and around third base and home plate lately.  Most of these little disasters seem to revolve around veteran third-baseman Michael Young.

I hate to keep picking on Young, who seems like a very nice guy, and maybe some of this is not his fault at all.  Did you notice that Young got thrown out at home plate THREE times in the last 6 games of the road trip?  My question is, does he run home on his own or is Ryne Sandburg sending him?  I understand being aggressive, but Young is one of the older and slower players on this team.  This is not the guy you send on a close play.

I have begun leaning towards Sandburg’s lack of experience coaching third base as the issue, especially after last night.  Because it appears he got Howard into a similar jam.  He was sending Howard home and quickly changed his mind, signaling for Howard to stay at third.  But his momentum was already heading home and Howard got tagged out at third.  Sandburg is a Hall of Famer…I get that.  So he should know that you cannot stop a moving train.  Either make the decision quicker or take your chances that Howard will bowl over the catcher at home.

Then again, guys have been getting tossed out on the base paths all over the place all by themselves.  Young also got thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double last Tuesday.  He also had a bad fielding error and hit into 2 more double plays on this road trip.

None the new players Ruben Amaro Jr. brought in this year, including Michael Young, are holding up their end of the bargain.  Delmon Young is hitting only .231; Mike Adams has a 4.13 ERA and cannot seem to pitch a clean inning; Ben Revere has started out super slow, although he is improving.  And Revere is young so he has a lot to learn yet.  Lannan has been ok, but the injury was a huge setback.

As for the returning Phillies, too many of them are hurt or under producing.  I hate to be such a downer after a rare Phillies win, but this team is just so frustrating!  Who are they?  Are they going to get any better?  Will some of these guys ever be healthy?  Your guesses are all as good as mine.

Maybe another win tonight will improve my mood?  Hope so!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Lee Pitches Another Gem

In a year full of drama for the Phillies, Cliff Lee stepping on the mound is a sight for sore eyes.  The same can be said when he steps to the plate as well.  In a complete game shut-out of the Marlins last night, Lee also collected 2 hits, giving him a team-leading .316 batting average.  And his .350 on-base percentage is second only to Michael Young (.378) among active Phillies.

Simply put, Cliff Lee is amazing.

Yet those offensive numbers are a bit disturbing in another respect.  When your ace pitcher is leading the team in average and OBP, there are some serious problems.  Granted, Lee only plays once every 5 games, but it is still a somewhat revealing statistic on a team that has struggled to score runs.

There was some offense last night though, and some signs of life all around.  Although they only scored 3 runs, most guys hit the ball well and as team, they collected 12 hits, which is way better than their usual production this year.  On Tuesday night with Tyler Cloyd pitching, the Phillies racked up 7 runs on 15 hits in the win.

But again, this has been a pattern; the Phillies have 1 or 2 games with solid offense and then they go right back to not being able to hit the broad side of a barn.  And with the injuries mounting, can they get any kind of consistency?

The latest injury to Chase Utley is extremely worrisome.  Utley was finally having a good year, after missing time in both of the previous 2 seasons with knee issues.  Now, it appears he has an oblique strain of some sort; he will have an MRI today and will likely be put on the DL along with Roy Halladay, Mike Adams, John Lannan and Carlos Ruiz.  Stay tuned…

Today is an off day as the team travels to Washington to take on the Nationals.  News on Utley should be coming very soon…cross your fingers!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Sign Pitchers Lannan and Adams

I am guessing that John Lannan and Chase Utley will never be BFF’s, but Lannan signing with the Phillies may at least prompt a truce.  In 2007, Lannan threw the pitch that broke Utley’s hand, essentially ending his run for the MVP award that year.

In 5 plus years in the majors with the Nationals, Lannan has hit Phillies’ batter’s 11 times; 3 of those were directed at Utley.  I would venture an educated guess that these two guys do not like each other.

Regardless, Lannan is on-board for 1 year and $2.5 million to take the place of Vance Worley, who was traded to the Twins earlier this month.  It sounds like a low-risk, high reward situation, as long as Lannan can stop himself from whacking his new teammates with the ball.  The temptation may linger until he gets used to his new location.

As for Mike Adams, this sounded like a good signing until I heard the terms.  We will get to that in a moment.  Adams is a very solid relief pitcher who has a lifetime 2.28 ERA over 8 seasons.  However, he is 34 years old and coming off a surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, a condition in which a rib bone presses against a nerve, causing pain and numbness in the arm.

Does this sound like a guy you would sign to TWO years and $12 million?  Not so much.  And yet, that is what the Phillies are giving him.  While this is not fully in the range of a Freddy Garcia-type disaster (whom the Phillies gave $10 million to in 2007 to do basically nothing), the potential is similar.  If Adams does not recover from surgery or comes back as a lesser pitcher, this deal is a huge bust.

But the Phillies are once again rolling the dice and praying for the best case scenario.  Let us hope they come out on the winning end this time.

By the way, if you missed my 2012 Phillies Photo Tribute slideshow, here it is again for your entertainment.  Enjoy!

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Lannan photo by Nick Wass (AP)

Slideshow photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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