Results tagged ‘ Nationals ’

Blanton Channels Halladay In Complete Game Shut-Out

Since Roy Halladay was unable to perform like Roy Halladay on Wednesday night, Joe Blanton decided to step in and give it a try.  Blanton did such a great Halladay impersonation that he managed to shut-out the Braves in a 3-hit complete game for a 4-0 Phillies win.

But maybe Blanton was not channeling the spirit of an ace pitcher at all; maybe this is just who Blanton is when he is actually healthy.  Either that, or maybe Blanton just needs to take every other year off and only play baseball during even-numbered years?

After a few tough years, Blanton has finally gone from an average Joe to an ace.  And after the previous night’s 11-inning 15-13 disaster that blew out both team’s bullpens, the Phillies pitchers really needed the boost from Blanton’s complete game.

The offense provide just enough offense to sneak out of Atlanta with a series win, 2 games to 1.  Shane Victorino and Laynce Nix both homered in the game and Hunter Pence added a sac fly.

The Phillies begin a 3-game series with the first place (gulp!) Nationals on Friday night.  Stephen Strasburg will pitch against Phillies fill-in extraordinaire, Kyle Kendrick (double gulp!).  Game time is 7:05pm…let the fun begin!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Phillies Hit The Road on a Positive Note

In the finale of a 4-game series with the Cubs, the Phillies got off to a hot start with 4 runs in the first inning.  Having already lost 2 games in this series, it was imperative for this team to get going quickly. But after those 4 runs, the offense went to sleep again.

Vance Worley pitched 7 strong innings while the offense napped.  He allowed only 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks.  The Phillies took the 4-1 lead into the 8th inning as the bullpen took over.

Sadly, no lead seems very safe with this team.  Such was the case as Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls combined to blow the 3-run lead.  Bastardo walked his second batter and Qualls gave up a single to score that run and then added a 2-run homer shortly after.

With the game then tied, the Phillies needed that sleeping offense to wake up.  But the way things have been going lately, it seemed unlikely.  It was going to take a small miracle…or at least a clutch hit.

When you find yourself cheering because the first batter of the inning, Juan Pierre, got hit by a pitch, you know things have not been going well.  And when you begin to hope that maybe the pitcher will hit the next 3 batters so you can score a run, things have gone from bad to worse.

But instead of getting hit, the Phillies actually got a few hits.  With 2 outs and Pierre on first, Jimmy Rollins singled to move Pierre to third.  And then the real hero stepped to the plate and proved he has still got the bat to go with his glove.  Placido Polanco smashed a double to left that scored both Pierre and Rollins.  It was the first time this year that the Phillies were able to take a lead in their final at-bat.

The Phillies went on to a 6-4 victory, thanks to Polly’s timely hit.  Even better, it does appear that Polanco is healthy again after 2 hernia issues the previous year.

Going back on the road against the Braves and Nationals, who are leading the division, it was important to start on a positive note.  With any luck, the Phillies may be able to start digging themselves out of this hole and April’s losing record.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Phillies Infield Grasping at Straws

After trading utility infielder Wilson Valdez for a minor league pitcher in January, things have gone steadily downhill since then.  In an interview on 97.5 The Fanatic earlier this month, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. finally admitted that the Valdez trade was “foolish.”  His exact quote was, “It was foolish to trade Wilson Valdez” and Amaro then admitted if he could go back in time, he would take Valdez back.

I knew that in January.  Why didn’t Amaro?  Obviously, he did not see the train coming before it ran him over this spring training.  You cannot predict injuries, but even I knew that Chase Utley would be a big question mark this year after last year’s chronic knee issues.  Sure enough, he is out and no one knows when he will return.

Adding to the disaster at second base,  Michael Martinez has a broken foot and will be out until at least May.  To begin with, I’d have taken Valdez over Martinez anyway.  But again, Valdez is gone.  And first base is going to be an adventure as well with Ryan Howard out until…???  No one knows.

Now the Phillies are stuck with a rookie short stop as their starting second baseman.  Don’t get me wrong, Freddy Galvis is a wonderful prospect, but can he handle this type of pressure so early in his career?  Switching positions makes this even harder on a very young player who may not be ready for the big leagues yet.

Galvis may be just fine.  But this is certainly not the kind of uncertainty the Phillies wanted to start the season with.

Pete Orr may wind up being the back-up for Galvis, although the roster will not be set in stone until probably Sunday night.  We do know outfielder Juan Pierre has made the team, but the rest of the roster is still in limbo.

You can see the Phillies are very worried though…today they signed a Nationals reject, just in case.  Andres Blanco, a 27-year-old utility infielder who hit .224 with the Rangers last season, was given a minor-league deal.  This is the Phillies idea of a back-up plan.  Yikes.

A few other bonehead moves by Amaro this offseason include signing outfielder Laynce Nix to a 2-year deal.  This guy has hit above .255 only ONE time in a nine-year career.  And this spring, he is hitting .200.  And how about first baseman Ty Wiggington?  His career has been on a steady decline the last two seasons, hitting .248 and .242 respectively.  This spring, Wiggington has hit .190.

The good news is, both guys were cheap and Wiggington was given just a one-year deal.  But in case anyone is wondering, Valdez is hitting .318 in 44 at-bats this spring with the Reds.  Just saying…

Ok, so maybe all these new guys will surprise us all and get some big hits?  But I do not see any of them volunteering to pitch the 19th inning and risk making a total idiot out of themselves for the team.  That guy is gone….Wilson!  Miss you already…

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Valdez Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

More Off-Season Moves for the Phillies

Over the past several weeks, the Phillies have made a number of off-season moves.  Some of them make sense, some of them make a bit less sense.  The following is a breakdown of the various Phillies events, the reasoning behind it and my opinion as to the real reason for the move.

Event: The Phillies send Wilson Valdez to the Reds in exchange for a minor league pitcher.

Reason: One can only assume that the Phillies wanted to add pitching depth.

The Real Reason: Having a great back-up for Jimmy Rollins is unnecessary since J-Roll is superman and cannot possibly get injured again, right?  Also, Ryan Madson needed the company of an old teammate for his transition to the Reds.

Event: Brad Lidge, left unsigned by the Phillies, goes to the Nationals on a one-year, $1 million deal.

Reason: Lidge was told he was not in the Phillies’ future plans and that was the extent of the explanation he received.

The Real Reason: Lidge has lost the speed on his fastball and is almost guaranteed to get hurt multiple times based on his past track record.  Also, after the awful 2011 season Jayson Werth had with the Nationals, Lidge can now provide him with moral support.  The Phillies like to take care of their former players ;o)

Event: Hunter Pence received a $10.4 million, one-year deal for 2012.

Reason: To avoid arbitration.  Pence is the final arbitration-eligible player therefore, no hearings for the Phils this year.

The Real Reason: Had the Phillies allowed this to go to arbitration, they would have gotten spanked by Pence and probably would have been forced to pay him more.  But the real reason for the contract is simple; a happy Pence means more “Let’s Go Eat!” T-Shirt money for the Phils.

Event: The Phillies have torn out the grass on the field and are putting down brand new sod.

Reason: The Winter Classic torn up the field pretty bad.

The Real Reason: While the stated reason is valid, there is another underlying reason as well.  Having raised ticket prices yet again, the Phillies now have more money than God and they need to justify that by spending a boat load of cash.  Last year it was a new Phantavision screen; this year is a new field.  Maybe next year they can hire more employees so the concession lines will be less than an hour wait time?  Nah…dream on people.

Event: The Phillies sign former Padre, Chad Qualls to a one-year, $1.15 million contract.  Qualls is a 33-year old right-handed reliever who posted a 6-8 record with a 3.51 ERA in 2011.

Reason: Ruben Amaro Jr.’s favorite saying – Low-risk, high reward.  In other words, if he sucks, they did not pay much for him.

The Real Reason: Because we really miss Chad Durbin and this was the best right-handed Chad they could find.

Event: Pat Burrell has decided to retire.  Amaro is “considering” a 1-day contract so he can retire as a Phillie.

Reason: Burrell retired due to a nagging foot injury.  Amaro is “considering” the 1-day contract because Burrell deserves a proper send-off.

The Real Reason: The foot injury may have played a role, but really, no one was going to sign Burrell.  He has passed his expiration date.  And the only reason Amaro hesitates to make a decision here is because he is afraid that Burrell’s dog Elvis will pee on his brand new field.

Philadelphia Phillies Fans 2012 New Year Resolutions

Having baseball withdrawal yet?  Me too.  But it is never too soon to begin thinking about the upcoming baseball season.  Anytime a new season is on the horizon, the chance to start over and hopes of success in the coming year breed anticipation.

It is this time of year that Phillies fans should sit down and make a practical list of important New Year Resolutions.  Here are a few to get you started:

1. Be thankful that you are not a Mets fan.  If you run into one, give them a hug.  They really need it.

2. When at a game, be mindful of your children.  If I wanted slimy, saliva-tainted cotton candy goo in my hair, I would have put it there myself.

3. Please refrain from cussing out loud at the game.  There are children all around with sensitive ears.  However, if their nasty, cotton-candy goo-infested hands land on you, this rule no longer applies.

4. We can all stop booing Jayson Werth now for moving to D.C..  His .232 batting average last season is punishment enough.

5. Start a petition to award Roy Halladay with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his bravery in saving a man in the Amazon after an anaconda attack.  Could this guy be any more awesome?  I think not.  I have been up close and personal with such large snakes and can tell you, for Halladay to put himself in danger to save this guy was no small feat.  And yes, that is really me in the photo.

6. On Dollar Dog Night, limit yourself to a five dog maximum.  Take the other $15 dollars you saved and donate it to Phillies Charities.  Your stomach will thank you.

7. I pledge to spend more of my offseason time supporting the Philadelphia Flyers and the 76ers.  They have young, exciting teams and also deserve our support.  (Do not talk to me about the Eagles though…ugh).

8. Do not yell at the umpires for being blind.  The Americans With Disabilities Act says that blindness is a handicap and therefore, it is politically incorrect to poke fun at blind people.

9. For God’s sake, stop spilling your beer at games!  The puddles created from the morons behind you flow downward and under your seat, soaking whatever bags you laid there.  If you cannot avoid spilling your drinks, please go back to Kindergarten and relearn this skill.

10. Be kind to people, even if they suck or are cheering for an opposing team.  You will eventually get back what you give.

I wish you all a safe and happy New Year!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Ibanez Gets Nixed & Utley Procreates

Considering it is the offseason, this has been a busy week for the Phillies.  In an unusual roster move, the Phillies have potentially signed left fielder Laynce Nix, 31, to a two-year deal, pending a physical.  I say this is unusual because in a 9-year career, Nix is a .244 hitter and from 2006-2008, he spent most of his time in the minors.

Last year with the Nationals, Nix hit .250 with 16 home runs.  Similarly, Raul Ibanez hit .245 with 20 homers.  And this signing pretty much signals the end of Ibanez’s career with the Phillies.  So they are replacing him with a guy who is similar and only a little bit younger in baseball years.  The big difference here is that Ibanez had a solid career.  Nix has not.

So yes, this move is just one more head scratcher this offseason for the Phillies who seem to be going back to their roots of taking out the trash and hoping it turns into treasure.  Sometimes that works out; most of the time, it does not.  As for Ibanez, it certainly looks like he has been “Nixed.”

In happier news, Chase Utley and his wife Jen welcomed their first child on December 2.  His name is Benjamin Cooper Utley; FYI – Cooper is mom’s maiden name.  There was a photo posted on Crossing Broad but the Utley’s had them remove it.

So you can either use your imagination…or, use my imagination ;o)

By the way, the market for short stops just heated up.  The Miami Marlins have signed Jose Reyes for 6 years at $106 million.  He is not a Met anymore, but the NL East is still not rid of the annoying, showboating Reyes.

And his price tag also means that Jimmy Rollins may expect more money than the Phillies are able to give.  As a back-up plan, rumors have been flying about interest in Aramis Ramirez.  However, Ramirez plays third base.  Where does that leave Placido Polanco and who will play short stop?

So many questions, so few answers…  I will tell you this though, the 2012 Phillies are starting to look a whole lot different than the 2011 Phillies, although it is more of a lateral-type movement so far.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

666 – 6 Runs Allowed in 6th Straight Loss with 6 Games To Go

For the first time in 2 seasons, the Phillies have dropped 6 consecutive games.  The 6-1 loss to the Nationals on Thursday completed a 4-game sweep, making the Phillies the final MLB team to suffer a 4-game sweep that had not previously done so this year.

Oh yes, all sorts of records were set last night, and not all of them were good.  The Phillies also became the 1st 98-win team to drop 6 straight since the 1904 Giants.  That’s right, more than a century ago.  They also became the first team EVER to lose 6 straight after clinching their division.  What this means is that the Phillies have delivered bad, sucky baseball in historic proportions ;o)

So it was no surprise that the Phillies final regular season home game ended with a chorus of boo’s.  Fans did not pay their hard earned money to watch the Phillies basically lay an egg on the field.  For “Fan Appreciation Night,” it was more like Fan Un-appreciation Night.  Like I always tell my kids, it is okay to fail as long as you go down putting up a fight.  And that, more than the losses, is what bothers me about these 6 games.  Not that the Phillies are trying to suck, but their hearts do not seem to be in it right now.

The one good sign to come out of the game was Roy Oswalt finally getting some life back on his fastball.  He hit 95mph on the gun and stayed in the low to mid nineties most of the night.  The 6 runs he allowed could have been avoided had certain defensive plays been made.

The Nats first run of the game scored when Chase Utley and John Bowker nearly collided in right field chasing after a pop-up.  The miscommunication resulted in a dropped ball, which literally rolled off Utley’s mid-section:

Bowker also made an awful throw to 2nd later in the game and went 0-2 at the plate.  To recap, since coming to Philly, Bowker is 0-11, he nearly killed Utley and has contributed little more than a bad throw.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, here is one GOOD play by Pete Orr:
 

Utley and others did not have a good series either.  Joining him in the debacle were Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino.  All three Phillies stars combined at the plate to go 0-36 in the 4-game series with no RBI’s, not even a sac fly.  As a team, the Phillies scored only 9 runs over all 4 games.  The offense was simply non-existent, except Carlos Ruiz with 3 hits.  Those who always complain about Ryan Howard striking out a lot should stop and take a look at how the Phillies play without their #1 RBI machine.

Last night’s game was so horrid, that even Phillies Elvis was more entertaining:
 

And even more exciting than that, the Phillies pre-game ceremonies, which included Cliff Lee getting his pitcher of the month award and then addressing the crowd.  Shane and Melissa Victorino also shared a cute moment as they celebrated the re-opening of the Victorino Foundation funded Nicetown Boys & Girls Club.  And PA Announcer Dan Baker was greeted on field by his family to celebrate 40 years with the Phillies.

 

Another record-breaking moment came when the final season attendance was posted.  With 45,064 at the game last night, the Phillies total attendance for the year wound up at 3,680,718, a new ballpark record.  The game also marked the 204th straight regular season sell-out.

With 6 games to go, the Phillies travel to New York to play the Mets starting at 7:10pm tonight.  Let us all hope they snap out of this funk and get hot going into the playoffs!

Here is the full Photo Album from Thursday’ game, including pre-game ceremonies and more Elvis.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Offense Still on Vacation

Going into tonight’s game, the Phillies have lost four straight games, including both games of a doubleheader against the Nationals on Tuesday.  With both the division and home field advantage wrapped up for the postseason, the bats have gone into hibernation.

During the offensive coma yesterday, both Carlos Ruiz and Hunter Pence came out hobbling.  Ruiz felt a “pop” in his ankle, but kept playing and Pence was limping after running to 1st in the 1st inning of the 1st game.  Another 1st, Pence finally missed an inning since coming to Philly when he was pulled from the game in the 6th.

Pence apparently has patellar tendinitis and will be rested for a few games to allow it to calm down.  Pence says he has had this knee issue for a long time and he will be fine.  While he is not happy about not playing, resting him before the playoffs is a no-brainer to avoid anything more serious.

The Phillies are playing the Nationals again as I write this and have mustered a little offense.  Tomorrow is the final regular season home game and also “Fan Appreciation Day.”  Here is an idea for the Phillies: How about showing some appreciation by winning the game?  Just a thought.

I will be there and hopefully, return with photos.  I also hope to return with an appreciative win and some runs scored for the Phillies!

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Home Field Clinched Despite Another Loss

Even though they lost 4-3 to the Cardinals on Monday night, the Phillies still managed to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs thanks to the Braves losing to the Cubs.  This team is so good, it seems they can literally do nothing and succeed.

However, this series with the Cardinals also showed that the Phillies have some work to do on offense.  They clinched the NL East title against the Cards, but lost the other three games.  On Monday night, Roy Halladay did not have his best stuff and the Phillies bats did nothing to help him out.

Halladay wound up spotting the Cards two runs in the first inning as his pitch location was off.  He gave up two more runs for four total over eight innings.  Halladay also walked four batters, which is unusual for the potential Cy-Young candidate.

While it was not Roy’s day, it was not a good day for the bats either.  The Phillies only run through eight innings was basically handed to them after a Cardinals error.  They left the bases loaded with less than two outs…again.  In total, 10 men were left on base.

The Phillies attempted a rally in the 9th inning, which was nice to see, but they still fell short.  A double from Carlos Ruiz followed by a triple from Jimmy Rollins led to two more runs.  The triple was the 100th of Rollins’ career. 

But the rally ended after Hunter Pence grounded out with Chase Utley on first.  The fact that the team did not give up until the final out was refreshing, but there are still some lingering questions about this offense being unable to score with runners on base.

Ryan Howard is out of the line-up, probably for most of the week after getting a cortisone shot in his ankle.  Shutting him down now instead of in the playoffs is wise.  Hopefully, he come back rested and feeling better after dealing with bursitis in his foot and ankle all year.

Howard’s return should be a boost for the offense, but the Phillies really have nothing left to play for.  The division is wrapped up, home field is wrapped up and they have 10 games to go.  However, it would be nice to see them win 100 games and even better if they can break the franchise record of 101 wins in a season, set in 1976 & 1977.

The Phillies could reach 100 games today with wins over the Nationals in the doubleheader.  Game 1 begins at 1:05pm.

Cliff Lee is Effortless in Rout of Mets

After losing two of three to the Nationals and enduring three rain delays in four games, seeing the Mets come to town had to be a relief for the Phillies.  And they wasted no time taking out their frustrations on this fourth place team.

Pitcher Cliff Lee continued his incredible month of August by tossing seven innings of shut-out ball.  The Mets managed only three hits off the lefty and struck out seven times.  Those K’s put Lee well above his career high 185 strike-outs in a season; he now has 191 with 36 games to go, which is about seven more starts.

Lee also had some fun at the plate.  He singled in the second inning and hit two other balls very hard that missed going out of the park by only a few feet.  Lee was having so much fun with the bat, that manager Charlie Manuel actually let him hit in the bottom of the seventh instead of a pinch hitter, knowing he was not going back out to pitch the next inning.  There is something you do not see every day.

Of course, having a 10-0 lead made giving Lee another at-bat an easy decision.  Because prior to the seventh inning, the Phillies offense smacked around Mets pitching like they were a minor league team.

Both John Mayberry Jr. and Hunter Pence hit two-run homers in the game.  Mayberry led the team with three RBI.  Carlos Ruiz and Shane Victorino had two RBI apiece as well.  And in his first game back off the DL without making a single rehab start, Placido Polanco had two hits and a walk.  The only starter without a hit was Chase Utley, who was taken out of the game before the seventh along with Ryan Howard to give them some extra rest.

The Phillies held onto the 10-0 lead with David Herndon pitching the final two innings. And the Mets tread wearily back to the clubhouse, knowing there were still two games to go in this series.

Injury Update

Rollins and Polanco swapped spots on the DL Monday night.  Also, Mayberry played left field on Monday because Raul Ibanez had a sore groin.  This prompts the question, what exactly is going on with all the groin injuries?

Rollins is out with a right groin strain.  Polanco had a sports hernia, also related to the groin area.  Now Ibanez has a sore groin too?  And let us not forget poor Carlos Ruiz who sat out several games after getting hit with a foul ball in the groin.

This is a disturbing trend.  Perhaps an investment in some iron underwear would help?  Or maybe the Phillies need to call a witch doctor to exorcise the demon that has seemingly cursed the Phillies’ groins.

Ok, so it is likely just a weird coincidence and groin strains are a common sports injury.  It is just odd to see them all happen in the span of only two weeks.  With any luck, Rollins and Ibanez will be feeling better very soon.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

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