Results tagged ‘ Nationals ’

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

Trading Places: Phillies Out; Nationals In

Watching the Phillies win a game against the Nationals last night and seeing the Nationals celebrate instead was like being in the Twilight Zone.  Not many teams get to pop the champagne after a loss.  But before the game even ended, the Nats were celebrating as the Braves lost, making Washington the new National League East Champs.

It was quite a role reversal for the Phillies who, prior to this disastrous year, won that title 5 years in a row.  Sadly, they have officially traded placed with the Nationals.

It was a somber win that will guarantee the Phillies a winning record to end the season.  But even that small accomplishment cannot make-up for the fact that the Phils have missed the playoffs and will go quietly into the off-season with many questions.

Perhaps less of a question now is Kyle Kendrick, who appears to finally have his act together.  He pitched 7 scoreless innings last night and should be a starter next season.

Kevin Frandsen continues to hit, with 2 singles last night, even with a stress fracture in his leg.  Still, he does not appear to be an option for 3rd base next year, despite his efforts.

Rookie Darin Ruf keeps slugging away and his triple last night scored the Phillies only 2 runs.  But his future is also uncertain, as are many futures of players on this team.  Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are hurt again; Roy Halladay had a bad year.

The Phillies still have many questions left to answer.  And they still have 2 games left to play.  Game time is 7:05pm tonight.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

2012 Home Schedule Ends on a Sour Note for Phillies

The Phillies closed out their 2012 home schedule on Thursday night with a loss; that was 2 straight losses to the Nationals.  Worse, they got smacked around by a teenager in both losses as 19-year old Bryce Harper hit a homer in each of those 2 games.

The losses caused the Phillies home record to dip below the .500 mark for the first time since 2000.  They finished with a record of 40-41 at home.  It is a very sad ending to a very sad season, which is not even over yet.  The Phillies still have 6 more games in Miami and Washington before they can slink off to into the off-season.

The Phillies overall record is now 78-78 so they can still finish with a winning record if they have a winning road trip.  But if this team continues to play as if they are already at home sitting on the couch, that may not happen.

Last night, the Phillies had Nats pitcher Gio Gonzalez on the ropes in what looked like it might be a total knock-out very early.  Gonzalez was wild, walking 3 in the 1st inning and allowing a 3-run, bases-clearing double to rookie Darin Ruf.  Still shaky in the 2nd inning, the Phils had a chance to pounce all over Gonzalez and failed.

Once they let him off the hook, Gonzalez found his stride and the Phillies did not score another run the rest of the game.  They had only 3 hits from the 3rd inning on.

Now, all fans can do is hope the Phillies muster just a little bit of pride and finish the season strong, giving everyone hope for the 2013 season.

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Phillies photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

A Ruf Day for the Nats in Philly

The fact that Nationals came into last night’s game with the best record in baseball was simply fuel for the Phillies fire who were determined to give their Division rival a tough time.  Nats pitching got Ruf’d up by the Phillies who homered 3 times in the game and won by a score of 6-3.

Carlos Ruiz smashed a 2-run shot in the 3rd and Domonic Brown added another homer in the 6th.  But the biggest bang of the evening came off the bat of rookie Darin Ruf in the 2nd inning.  His first major league hit wound up being a home run to left center field.  That was a fitting start to his major league career as Ruf had already hit 38 homers this year in Double-A ball.

But the best part of Ruf’s homer was watching him get the silent treatment in the dugout for the entire inning.  Not even the bat boy would acknowledge the rookie.  Ruf tried to give him a fist bump and was totally denied.  Finally, after a lot of muffled giggling and players attempting to maintain their composure, he was mobbed by his teammates.  That had to be some kind of record for blowing off a rookie after his first home run.

After the game, Ruf told reporters, “That was very loving of them…The longest silent treatment of all time, I guess.”  Welcome to the Bigs, kid.

Game 2 with the Nationals starts tonight at 7:05pm.

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Photo by Philly.com

Phillies Sweep the Nationals!

It was apparent today that Cliff Lee was determined to win a game at home, something he has not done all year long.  And for most of the 1st 5 innings, it was all Lee, all the time.  He pitched, he hit and he played defense.

The first score of the game came off the bat of Lee who doubled in a run in the 5th inning.  The rest of the team got on board fast, with a 2-run homer from Jimmy RollinsLaynce Nix added a solo homer in the 6th and Lee held the Nats to 1 run in 7 innings for the 4-1 win and a 3-game sweep!

The day before, Roy Halladay continued his journey to being Roy Halladay once again.  He went 7 innings allowing only 2 runs on 7 hits and a walk.

Halladay got our old buddy Jayson Werth to strike out twice and coaxed 2 grounds out from rookie star Bryce Harper.  Both were all smiles before the game, but not after.

The big bopper of the night was John Mayberry Jr. who had two hits, including a line-drive homer to left, and picked up 3 RBI in the game.  Chase Utley drove the other run in and Rollins set the table with 2 walks off another old Phillie, Gio GonzalezKevin Fransden also had a hit and did a lot of cheering for his teammates.

Then in the 8th, the old Antonio Bastardo came back for a visit.  Where has this guy been all year?  He struck out the side, handing a fairly easy save to Jonathan Papelbon in the 9th.

Some other awesome sights at the ballpark on Saturday were creatures from the Philly Zoo and a grinning Domonic Brown, despite having a sore knee:

Despite the sweep, the Phillies are still 9.5 games back in the Wild Card race, so don’t get your hopes up too much.  It is not impossible, however, they’d pretty much have to win every game from here to the end.  But the news is good for next year as the bullpen is improving and starters are getting healthier.

And of course, they just swept the dreaded Nationals.  I cannot think of a better reason to be happy right now.  Here is the full Photo Album from Saturday’s game.

The Phillies have a day off on Monday and the Mets come to town on Tuesday.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

New Phillies Fitting in Fast

The newest additions to the Phillies after a few call-ups and trades are fitting in well with this team.  In some ways, that is very good.  In other ways, not so much.

Here are a few 2012 Phillies bad habits exhibited in last night’s game against the Nationals that they will need to get out of quickly:

- Kevin Fransden, a call-up, commited an error at 3rd base, becoming the 4th different Phillies player to do so at the hot corner this year.  The 3rd base error total is now 13.

- Both Fransden and the newly acquired Nate Schierholtz left a runner stranded on 3rd base with less than 2 outs in the inning.

- Josh Lindblom, acquired from the Dodgers, gave up a hit to the 1st batter he faced.

- Domonic Brown, called-up from Triple-A, went 0-4 on the night.

But luckily, the bad habits did not break them.  In fact, each new player had at least one very nice moment as well:

- Fransden recovered after his error and played good defense.

- Schierholtz went back-to-back with Jimmy Rollins for his first home run as a Phillie.  Rollins had 2 homers in the game.

- Lindblom struck out the 2nd batter he faced.

- Despite going 0-4, Brown had a good day in the field.  He threw out a runner going home with a very strong toss.

Another guy who had a great day was Erik Kratz…again.  This guy is making a strong case to be the back-up next season.  Kratz took that toss from Brown and created a brick wall in front of home plate to save a run.  He also threw a runner out who was trying to steal second and caught a very tough foul pop-fly.  At the plate, Kratz recorded 1 hit and a walk.

And Vance Worley survived the 1st inning blunders and wound up having a great night.  He pitched 7 strong innings without allowing an earned run.  Looks like the Vanimal is back!

So the big question now is, can this new-look, last place Phillies team actually SWEEP the 1st place Nationals?  After the last 2 games, it looks like they actually have a shot.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

And in case you missed it, here is the full-page ad Shane Victorino took out in the daily news to thank Phillies fans:

No Shane, thank you!

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