Results tagged ‘ Nelson Figueroa ’

Disaster in the Desert


Hamels roller coaster.jpgWatching Cole Hamels pitch over the last year has been a roller coaster ride filled with ups and downs.  But the ride is making many people sick; please make it stop, we’d like to get off.

Last night’s Hamels Arizona adventure included a 4th inning where he gave up 4 home runs for 5 runs scored total.  The following inning, he gave up another homer, making it 5 homers on the night.  Prior to that, he looked like the Hamels of old, striking out batters and confusing them with his change-up.  Then all of a sudden, Hamels got the ball up in the zone and threw nearly everything right over the plate.  He looked like he was pitching batting practice to a thankful D-Backs team.

Hamels even had a hand in scoring before the mysterious 4th inning disaster happened; he belted a double in the 3rd inning and Shane Victorino drove him home with a triple.  A very strange play led to the Phillies 2nd run of the night; Jayson Werth hit a long fly ball in the 4th which center fielder Chris Young caught, for just a moment.  Young let the ball dribble out the bottom of his glove before he made the exchange to his throwing hand and it was ruled a ball in play.  Werth saw the ball drop and kept running until he crossed home plate.

The D-Backs manager A.J. Hinch, who played for the Phillies in 2004, argued that it was a catch but the ump ruled it was not a catch as the fielder did not have control and did not make the exchange to his other hand before dropping it.  It was scored as a 4-base error.  There’s one you won’t see every day.

So things were looking up for the Phillies until the bottom of that same inning when the bottom fell out for Hamels and batting practice took over.  JC Romero made his season debut after coming off the DL but he looked very rusty.  Romero fell behind both batters he faced, giving up a solo homer and walking the next batter.

Jose Contreras took over the 7th inning and escaped without further drama.  Rookie David Herndon pitched the 8th and did a good job as well.  The Phillies entered the 9th inning losing 3-7.  Victorino managed a 2-out single and RBI, but the Phillies rally ended there and they lost 4-7 to a last place team.

The only proper response to a pounding by a last place team is to win the next two games.  And the Phillies had better do just that if they are going to avoid total humiliation.  Nelson Figueroa will pitch tonight in place of the injured JA Happ.  I do not envy Figueroa; this poor guy has the weight of the world on his shoulders right now.  Best of luck to him…game time is 8:10pm.

 

Head shot by Jenn; cartoon by grinningplanet.com

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phillies Win Series In Atlanta

Two old dudes battled it out tonight in Atlanta; the Braves Derek Lowe, 36, and the Phillies Jamie Moyer, 47.  When I say I old, I am talking in baseball terms, of course.  Jamie Moyer2.jpgThe elder Moyer out-dueled Lowe allowing just 4 hits and no earned runs in 6 innings.  Lowe fell victim to the powerful Phillies offense which ran him out of the game after only 5 innings and racked up 5 runs.

Moyer continues to amaze and defy the laws of time with every victory.  And tonight, he did something I had never seen before; in the 2nd inning, he hit the Braves rookie Jason Heyward with a pitch.  That was not the fun part though.  As the ball left Moyer’s hand, you could hear him yell to Heyward, “Look out!” as the pitch ran too far inside.  Moyer is a true gentleman.  Of course, the ball was only travelling about 74 mph so I think Heyward will be okay ;o)

The defense behind Moyer was pretty good, although Chase Utley did have one adventurous inning.  Right after announcer Tom McCarthy commented on how much Utley has improved and that he has a shot at a Gold Glove one day, Utley’s ears must have been burning because he committed two errors in the 5th inning. 

While trying to turn a double play, Utley bobbled the feed from Juan Castro, dropped the ball twice and a run scored.  The very next play, he tried another double play but threw the ball wide to 1st, which flew past Ryan Howard and allowed another run to score.  So it is official; no one is allowed to talk about Gold Gloves in relation to Utley for the rest of the year.  Clearly, it was a jinx.

Utley’s offense has not been affected by a jinx though, as he has now reached base safely in every game so far this year.  He had one hit and 2 walks tonight.  Greg Dobbs did a great job filling in for Placido Polanco; he went 2 for 3.  Castro went 3 for 5 and had 1 RBI, making it 5 for 8 from the back-up starters.

Actually, the only other jinx I can see for this team is the bullpen, which has been fairly awful.  Roy Halladay avoided that jinx yesterday by pitching all 9 innings himself.  Moyer only went 6, which is about average from him so sadly, the pen had to be counted on.  Chad Durbin worked his way into a bases loaded jam with 1 out in the 7th and then ran a 3-0 count to the next batter.  Fans everywhere had to be saying, “Oh crap…here we go again…”

Durbin got a sac fly out of that one and thanks to the Braves generosity in swinging at balls, he escaped the inning having allowed just the one run.  But there was no one exhaling just yet.  The Phillies had an 8-3 lead, but still 2 more innings of scary bullpen work to get through.

This bullpen could totally blow a 5-run lead….I have seen it happen.  But tonight, Danys Baez rebounded from his last disastrous outing and got through the 8th inning with no damage.  In the 9th, rookie David Herndon pitched and things got hairy with a few base runners.  But Herdon worked through it and the Phillies won, 8-3.

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There was a bit of bad news today before the game began; pitcher JA Happ has been placed on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 16th.  The left forearm strain that was revealed after an MRI is apparently a bigger issue than the Phillies first anticipated.  Nelson Figueroa will take Happ’s place in the starting rotation for now and his spot in the bullpen will be taken over by JC Romero, who was removed from the DL today.  Welcome back, JC!  We missed you!

So it is a bit of good news with a bit of bad news.  As for 3rd baseman, Placido Polanco, he was left out of the line-up tonight after being hit by a pitch in the elbow yesterday.  Polanco told the media today that he should be ready to play again tomorrow night.  Assuming this is the case, that is very good news.  Losing another starter right now could be a small disaster.

And yes, it is already that time again…All Star Voting.  Why they start this so early in the season always puzzles me, but nonetheless, VOTING began yesterday.  Let’s get a head start; VOTE for your Phillies today!

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And Happy Earth Day everyone!  Remember to recycle and conserve energy…for Phillies fans, that might mean drinking a beer from a recycled can and lazing on the couch to conserve energy.  But hey, every little bit helps. :O)

 

Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Hamels Shines; Loses Game Anyway

On behalf of Cole Hamels, can I get a collective “Arrgghhhh!” please?  Thank you.  This poor guy pitched like a real ace today against the Marlins and has nothing to show for it.  His first two outings this year stunk, but the offense scored 8 and 7 runs for him, respectively.  Today, Hamels allowed just 2 runs over 8 innings, striking out 8 batters and did not issue any walks.  And this game, he loses by a score of 0-2.  Ugh.


P4189587.jpgThere were a few moments in the game where it looked like Hamels may revert to his 2009 ways and lose his cool.  The home run to Dan Uggla in the 2nd inning was one, but he just kept on pitching as if it did not happen.  The second instance was huge; with no outs in the 3rd, the inning began with a double to centerfield from the Marlins pitcher.  Allowing hits to the opposing pitcher, especially extra base hits, is usually the one thing you can count on to mess with a pitchers head.  But instead, Hamels struck out the next 2 batters and got the 3rd on a ground ball.  Bravo, Cole!  This is the guy we had all been missing.

But even after the huge effort put forth by Hamels, the offense came up with a great big ZERO.  The Phillies had opportunities, including 3 walks in the 2nd inning to Jayson Werth, Ben Francisco and Carlos Ruiz, but they still failed to score.  Incidentally, those same 3 players accounted for 3 of the 4 Phillies hits tonight.  The 4th was Placido Polanco.  So while Charlie Manuel apparently took my hint yesterday about player Francisco in place of Raul Ibanez, Francisco’s walk and double were wasted by those who batted after him.

Here are a few photos from the game:


041810b.jpgIn that same 2nd inning, Werth could have scored on the fly out by Juan Castro but did not.  He tagged up and started to run from third base, but for some reason he stopped and went back.  With Werth’s speed, he had a chance to make it.  Plus, there were 2 outs in the inning and the pitcher, Hamels, was due up next.  It was worth the risk.  And as luck would have it, the throw home sailed past the catcher, meaning Werth would have scored easily.  Another wasted opportunity.

For their final chance in the 9th, three pinch hitters were sent in; Ross Gload, Ibanez and Greg Dobbs all went down without a fight, faster than fans could run to the parking lot.  And there you have it; the Phillies first shut-out of the year and first lost series of the year.  They are now only ½ game in front of the Marlins for first place.

The Phillies have the day off tomorrow to collect themselves, but more bad news may be on the horizon.  JA Happ is suffering from a sore forearm and his scheduled Wednesday start is uncertain as a result.  They are already missing Joe Blanton from the rotation; if Happ is forced to the DL as well, the Phillies may be in big trouble.  Nelson Figueroa can probably fill in as a starter, but the pitching is starting to look awfully thin.  Please think Happ-Y thoughts this week and perhaps we can all will him to health :O)  It is worth a shot…

So, here is the full Photo Album from today’s game, which includes the always entertaining Phanatic Birthday celebration.  Check out the stuffed Clam, Clammy Sosa, eating and then spitting out an umpire…classic.

 

Photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Kendrick Bombs; Offense Pulls Out The Win

The second game in the series against the Nationals tonight did not start out well.  It was Kyle Kendrick’s second start this year; both starts have been against these Nats.  In his first start, he got beat up pretty good.  Tonight, the Nats completely destroyed him.

Kendrick gave up 3 runs right away in the 1st inning but in the bottom of that same inning, the Phillies bats bailed him out with 4 runs to take the lead.  So what does Kendrick do in the 2nd inning?  He gave up 3 more runs and handed the lead right back.  Kendrick was pulled after only 1 2/3 innings and his ERA soared to a shocking 17.47. 

kyle on fire.jpgThe most disturbing part of Kendrick’s start to the season is that both outings were against the Nationals, probably the worst team in the league.  So I have to ask, where is the Kendrick from February and March who gave up only 2 runs in all of spring training?  You may have an easier time finding that pesky Waldo then finding the Kendrick of spring.  Oh wait, I see him…he is being charcoaled on the grill…

But the Nationals could not keep this team down; the Phils took that 2nd inning lead right back from the Nats in their half of the inning, scoring 3 more runs to make it a 7-6 game.  Nelson Figueroa did a great job filling in as the long man, allowing just 1 run in his 3 1/3 innings.  The Phillies bats scored a bunch more runs for him too, lining Figueroa up to be the winning pitcher.  Figueroa went 2 for 2 at the plate as well, with a single and a double.  Chad Durbin pitched 2 scoreless innings after that and Antonio Bastardo took over in the 8th.  David Herndon finished off the 9th; in all, the pen allowed just the one run.

A few of the offensive highlight tonight included 4 hits and 5 RBI from Shane Victorino, who had been struggling at the plate until tonight.  His 7th inning bases clearing, 3-run triple was just what everyone had been waiting to see.  Victorino is batting lead-off now that Jimmy Rollins is on the DL with a calf strain.  J-Roll’s recovery time may be anywhere from 2-4 weeks.

While J-Roll will be sorely missed, the offense did not skip a beat without him tonight.  Wilson Valdez was called up to fill the bench spot.   Juan Castro should do a fine job filling in at shortstop in the meantime, even if his bat is not very impressive; he went 0-4 tonight at the plate.

But the rest of the team is hitting, so all is well.  Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard had 2 hits each and Chase Utley hit 2 home runs in the game; one was a 3-run homer in the 2nd to give the lead back to the Phils and the other was a solo shot into the second deck of right field.  Utley looked more like he was wielding a sledgehammer than a bat.

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So the Phillies walk away with a 14-7 win and still have only had one game this year where they scored fewer than 5 runs in a game.  Tomorrow at 3:05pm, JA Happ will start.  Roy Halladay’s first home start has been moved up to Friday to keep him on his normal rest schedule after Tuesday’s day off.  Jamie Moyer will pitch on Saturday.

Photos by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Phils Let The Sweep Slip Away

Kendrick happy place.jpg

Kyle Kendrick is going to need to find his happy place after today’s outing against the Nationals.  Having done well in Spring Training, Kendrick’s first official start of 2010 was a big disappointment.  Lasting only 4 innings, Kendrick allowed 5 runs on 9 hits against a team that sometimes resembles a minor league team.  But in the first inning, the Nats looked like they were taking batting practice off the young pitcher.

A sinker ball pitcher, Kendrick left way too many pitches up in the zone and lacked control.  He had a great opportunity here with the injury to Joe Blanton to show he could start in the majors again, but after today, it does not look good.  Granted, it is only one start, but first impressions can be lasting ones.

The Phillies batters got him off the hook for the loss when they tied the game up in the 6th on a Jimmy Rollins sac fly.  But in the 7th, the Nats took the lead again as a result of Nelson Figueroa walking the first batter of the inning who eventually scored.  In his first appearance back with the Phillies, Figueroa did fairly well, but the 3 walks he gave up created problems.

Chase Utley led off the 9th with a double and Jayson Werth sacrificed him over to third, giving the Phillies hope.  But then Raul Ibanez, who is hitting a meager .091 so far this year, hit a short pop-up to make the second out.  It was not nearly far enough to score Utley.  Shane Victorino followed suit with a short pop-up of his own to end the game, with the Phillies losing 5-6.

The story of the game was men left on base; the Phils left 11 of them stranded.  The at-bats were not as patient as the first two games and the concentration seemed lacking.  It was a bad flashback to last year where this teams’ biggest issue was the inability to play small ball and manufacture runs.

The shame of it is that great offensive performances were overshadowed by the lack of timely hitting.  Werth hit 3 doubles in the game and the top 5 batters in the order had at least 2 hits each.  The bottom of the line-up did not perform and many of the hits came at the wrong times.

But starting the year off with 2 out of 3 is not so bad.  So Phillies fans, just for tonight, go find your happy place and hang there until we get to Houston tomorrow night.

 

Kendrick photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

Hamels Gets His First Win In DC

In his much anticipated start to 2010, Cole Hamels had a fairly good day in an 8-4 win over the Nationals.  He only managed to get through 5 innings with 2 earned runs and one unearned, but for his first start of the year, it was not bad.  When he led off the game by walking the first batter on 4 pitches, fans cringed for a moment.  But Hamels bounced back and did not have trouble again until the 3rd inning; he walked 2 more batters with 2 outs then allowed an RBI single.  2 runs scored that inning and his pitch count began to rise.P6216377 Hamels.jpg

It did appear that the home plate umpire was squeezing the pitchers on both sides, which did not help matters.  So with 103 pitches thrown by the end of the 5th, Hamels was done for the day.  His arm speed looked good today, but his control still needs some work.  Overall, it was a good first effort and hopefully the next start for Hamels will be even more productive.

Ryan Howard extended the 4th inning for Hamels a bit with an error on a ball to first that probably should have ended the inning.  But Howard made up for the blunder by smashing a 2-run homer in the 5th.  That is 2 games and 2 home runs for Howard; and for good measure, he hit an RBI double as well.  Chase Utley had 2 hits, a walk and an RBI, in typical Utley style.  Even Hamels joined the RBI party with a single to score Shane Victorino in the 4th.

 After Hamels left the game, Chad Durbin did an outstanding job and went 2 scoreless innings.  Danys Baez did not fare as well in the 8th, allowing 2 hits and a run in 1/3 of an inning.  Antonio Bastardo came in to get the 2nd out and Ryan Madson struck out Ian Desmond for the 3rd out.  Madson got the ball for the 9th as well and closed out the game for his first save of the year.

In these 1st two games of 2010, the Nationals pitchers have walked 17 Phillies batters.  As our fearless TV announcer Gary “Sarge” Matthews said, “You don’t want to walk batters.”  That is our Sarge; King of the Obvious.  If the Nats can keep up this streak tomorrow, the Phils may just sweep this first 3-game series.

Roster Moves and Injury Updates

The Phillies also made a pitching move today, picking up Nelson Figueroa off waivers after the Mets let him go.  He went 3-8 with a 4.09 ERA in 16 games last year for the Mets.  Figueroa pitched for the Phils in 2001 and according to GM Ruben Amaro Jr., he will join the club tomorrow and a roster move will be made to make room.  Look for Andrew Carpenter to be sent to AAA; Figueroa will take the long-man role in the pen.

In injury news, JC Romero is going to make a rehab appearance Thursday in Clearwater.  Brad Lidge is not as far along, but he will toss a bullpen session tomorrow.  Joe Blanton threw 60 pitches today from flat ground, which went well, but his recovery time is still projected to be about 3-6 weeks.

So tomorrow the Phillies will finish up in DC at 4:35pm with Kyle Kendrick starting in place of the injured Blanton.  Then they are off to Houston for 3 games.  There is no official word yet on who will start the Phillies Home Opener on the 12th, but if they follow the regular rotation, it looks like it will be Hamels.

 

Photo by Jenn

 

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the My Team Rivals network*

 

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