Results tagged ‘ NL East ’

Sandberg Gets First Managerial Win

Well, it took a few days, but the Phillies finally squeaked out a win for interim manager Ryne Sandberg.  The 3-5 win over the Dodgers ended yet another long losing streak for the Phils who are now solidly in 4th place in the NL East, 2.5 games behind the Mets for 3rd place.

Getting this win against the hottest team in baseball was going to require a combination of things to occur.  Pitcher Cole Hamels had to be good, which he was.  Hamels went 7 innings, allowing just 2 runs.

 

The Phillies offense had to produce.  And although it was not at all pretty at times, 7 hits and 3 RBI did the trick.  Carlos Ruiz, who has struggled lately, went 4 for 4 and Darin Ruf smashed a solo homer in the game.

Defensively, the Phillies were coming off a game in which they committed 3 errors.  On Sunday, they managed to cut that down to 1 error.  Ah, progress!

And for once, the bullpen did not implode in late innings.  Both B.J. Rosenberg and Jonathan Papelbon pitched scoreless innings to maintain what was at that point a 2-2 tie game.

And in the bottom of the 9th, a little bit of luck was in order to seal the Phillies win.  Two errors by Dodgers shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, allowed the Phillies to walk off with the victory.  Michael Young got the game-winning RBI as Ramirez fumbled his grounder with the bases loaded.  Casper Wells scored on the error and Ryne Sandberg finally got a win!

Here is the full Photo Album from the game, which includes some fun shots of the Dodgers as well.  Fun stuff like this right here:

Is he pitching or trying some new form of karate?  I cannot decide.

The Rockies come to town for a 4-game series tonight.  Game time is 7:05pm.

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Rumor Mill Begins to Turn…

The Phillies have done themselves no favors during the first half of the season.  Their mediocre play has left them in 3rd place in the NL East and 9.5 games out of first.  Losing 3 out of 4 against the Dodgers this past weekend did not help their case either.

And so the rumor mill begins to turn with names like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon in the mix.  If the team does not pick up their play significantly in the next few weeks, this could signal the end of an era.  It is hard to envision a Phillies team without Utley or Rollins, but that may soon be the reality.

The most persistent rumor recently has the Red Sox making a run at 3rd baseman Michael Young.  The Phillies signed Young as basically a 1-year rental, so his departure would not be surprising.  Utley is in the last year of his contract, so losing him is also a possibility, although not one that most people would be very happy about.

Utley may be the most beloved player in franchise history.  If the Phillies trade him, they run the risk of alienating a large portion of their fan base.  This is guy who blurted out the F-word on national television, not once, but twice, and people still say he can do no wrong.  That is a powerful show of affection, especially in a city like Philadelphia.

Rollins, on the other hand, may not be missed quite as much.  While he is the longest tenured active Phillie and a former MVP, Rollins still has that magical ability to piss people off.  He has made derogatory comments in the past about Philly Fans and he has been criticized for a lack of hustle.  More recently, Rollins said he was “not disappointed” with the team’s 1-3 performance in Los Angeles this past weekend.

While Rollins has a point, that being he believes the team will overcome, it still rubs some people the wrong way.  Personally, I like Jimmy.  He speaks his mind and I respect that.  So seeing him in another uniform would be quite a shock.  It would not, however, induce the same type of freak-out that losing Utley would.

On Tuesday night, the Phillies pulled out a 3-1 win over the best team in baseball right now, the Pirates.  That is still weird to say…  However, even that win may not help quite the trade rumors.  A sweep of the Bucos might be helpful, but even in a win, the Phillies still have some very obvious, glaring problems.

The bullpen, for example, is a huge mess.  It took 3 pitchers who combined to load the bases to get the Phillies through the 8th inning last night.  It did work out, but could have easily ended in disaster.  The offense is getting better, but they are still not hitting consistently with runners in scoring position.  And the defense is very shaky; Delmon Young dropped a routine fly ball last night which is a prime example of the issues on the field.

All we can do now is hold our collective breaths, wait and hope the Phillies can pull out a string of convincing wins before the All-Star break.

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

2013 Phillies: Déjà Vu or Déjà Voodoo?

Let us examine the latest Phillies performance last night in Cinncinatti:  The starting pitching was solid, the offense was mostly absent and the bullpen blew the game in the 8th inning, resulting in a loss.  Sound like a familiar scenario?  It should; that describes most of the 2012 season.  Ugh.

Is this Déjà vu or Déjà voodoo? Has someone or something cast a sleepy spell over this team for the second consecutive year?  It is like Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs in the bullpen passing the cursed apple around to the rest of the team.  If the drowsy Phils are waiting for Prince Charming to deliver true love’s kiss and wake them up, they may be waiting for quite a long time…

Because if Chase Utley’s 2 run bomb to tie the game up in the 8th inning wasn’t enough to light a fire under this team, I cannot imagine what would be enough.  Or how about Cliff Lee’s gutsy performance after a very weird 7th inning?  He wound up only allowing 2 runs in 7 innings, which is a pretty good day.

And then there was the amazing, stupendous, brain-warping, Superman catch that Ben Revere made earlier in the game.  Nearly everyone on the team starred in awe as Revere flew through the air backwards and nearly horizontal to snag this ball.  He even had the presence of mind to throw the ball in to double up the runner, even after smashing face first into the ground after the catch.

Still, this team could not rally late in the game.  They had only 5 hits total on the night.  Both Jeremy Horst and Mike Adams struggled in the 8th, allowing 2 more runs to the Reds who had also had difficulty finding hits early in the game.

Worse, the Reds came into this game on a 5-game losing streak.  The Phillies should have crushed them.  Instead, they went down in flames, losing by a score of 4-2.  Their offense has been on the Most Wanted list for 4 straight games now.  No one seems to know where it went.

Meanwhile, the Braves still only have 1 loss (to the Phils, oddly enough) and the Fightins’ are lurking near the bottom of the NL East in 4th place.  Ok, it is only April, I know…still, this team needs to WAKE UP!

Perhaps I am being a little rough on the team here.  But it is easier to be angry about a silly baseball game than have to think about what a sad day it was yesterday.  Although Monday was Jackie Robinson day, sadly, this was overshadowed by the tragedy in Boston earlier that day.  So while I am in the mood to rant, can I just say, what is with these freaking psychopaths bombing innocent people??  I am outraged, as are the rest of the sane to mostly-sane people of the world.

My heart goes out to all the people affected by this senseless act of evil.  I wish I had better words to convey my sympathies.  But all I can think is sad, sad, sad… :O(

Photo courtesy of ESPN.com

Phillies Stomped Upon by Giants

For two consecutive games, the Phillies have gotten totally crushed by the San Francisco Giants.  The 7-2 stomping on Friday and 6-5 10-inning loss on Saturday were just a few more blows to an already deflated team sitting at dead last in the NL East.

On Friday, Vance Worley was great for just over 4 innings…then he suddenly stunk, giving up a grand slam in the 6th.  For the Giants, Tim Lincecum magically returned to Cy Young form after a horrible season.  He had a 5.93 ERA entering this game; but apparently facing the Phillies is the cure for any pitcher in the midst of a 3-month slump.

The best news to come out of that game?  Lincecum embarrassed himself early in the game by walking off the mound with only 2 outs recorded.  He grinned once he realized the error to the great pleasure of all in attendance.  Hey Tim, thanks for the 2 seconds of joy which was followed by hours of agony…

The agony continued into Saturday as Cole Hamels gave up 5 runs to the Giants in 7.2 innings.  While he had some issues on the mound, he did hit his first career home run.  The joy of that moment was quickly tempered by the 3 homers he gave up, including one to the Giants pitcher, Matt Cain.

The Phillies bullpen issues have reached critical mass.  Manager Charlie Manuel does not trust then anymore so Hamels got left in the game too long for a career high 128 pitches.  Then instead of going to long-man Kyle Kendrick either in that inning or in the 10th, Jonathan Papelbon was forced to go 2 innings and gave up the winning run to the Giants with 5 fresh arms sitting in the pen.

What this amounts to is this: The Phillies 2012 season is a total bust.  Hamels may never pitch for the Phillies again.  With the salary situation nearing the luxury tax, the Phils may also start dumping player not named Hamels.  Ugh.

It is not a pretty picture, folks.  I will be at tomorrow’s game attempting to get prettier pictures ;o)  Wish me luck…

 

“LIKE” us on Facebookfor more updates & photos!

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Stumble Into All-Star Break With Little Hope to Save Their Season

The Phillies were swept by the Braves today in a depressing 4-3 loss.  There was not even a little comic relief, as in Saturday’s loss when Hunter Pence bowled over 3rd base coach Juan Samuel while rounding the bases towards home.  That bit had everyone except Samuel laughing to the point of tears.

The only laughs today came before the game started:

After that, absolutely nothing was funny.  Even the presentation of All-Star jersey’s to Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Papelbon and Cole Hamels was somehow lacking in enthusiasm.

And then fans learned that Shane Victorino was pulled from the line-up at the last moment, prompting rumors of a possible trade or injury.  But what actually happened, according to Charlie Manuel, was that Shane was feeling “down” and had “a lot on his mind…”  And so, Charlie took him out in favor of Jason Pridie.

That turned out to be the only good move of the day.  Pridie hit a 2-run homer and a double, which accounted for all 3 Phillies runs in the game.

Vance Worley battled through 6 innings, allowing 3 runs, which was a nice improvement over his last start where he have up 6 runs in 4 innings.  But despite the quality start, not much was going the way of the Phillies.

There were some nice defensive plays:

But the offense was lackluster, despite having both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the line-up.  The top 4 in the line-up went 1-for-16 collectively, although Jimmy Rollins did go 3-for-3 in pop-fly outs.  I am not sure that is a stat to be proud of, but at least he is consistent (note my sarcasm, in case you missed it).

Ultimately, Raul Valdes gave up a solo homer to who else, but Brian McCann, giving the Braves a 1-run lead that the Phillies failed to overcome.

So the Braves had a nice visit to Philly, complete with attempts to steal young Phillies fans.  Here is ex-Phil Chad Durbin and Dan Uggla before the game playing nice with one of the kids chosen for the traditional Sunday Starting 9:

Actually, it was very sweet.  But Durbin was always that kind of guy; his presence is still missed on this ballclub.

So the Phillies go into the All-Star break in the midst of a complete disaster.  They have won only 1 of their last 12 games and sit in dead last in the NL East, 14 games out of first.  Get ready fans; I am afraid change is coming, and not the good kind.

For a pleasant distraction, check out my Photo Album from the game; just pretend they win and the photos look even better!

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Howard’s Return Spoiled in Loss to Braves

We all waited through 84 dreadful games to finally see the Phillies line-up back together again.  Chase Utley came back and now, Ryan Howard is back.  But game #85 with Howard, Utley and the old gang together was fun for about 2 or 3 innings.  And then, reality set in.

Howard started off his 2012 season with a monster double to center field.  Cheer rang out among fans excited to see the big man back again.  But by the 3rd inning, we all began to wonder why the offense was still not getting it done.

The Phillies sprinkled 5 hits here and there, two of which were from Howard.  The Braves did not have many hits either as Kyle Kendrick finally found his groove after his last regular start spot in the rotation was pushed back a few days.  Maybe getting skipped finally gave Kendrick the incentive he needed to step up his game.

And he did just that; Kendrick was great through 7 innings.  He allowed only 4 hits and did not give up a single run, even after getting into a tight spot in the 7th inning.  But he did not get any run support from his teammates and then was pulled in the 8th in favor of Antonio Bastardo.

Bastardo was awful; he had no command and walked 3 batters, even walking a run home with the bases loaded and 2 outs.  If I was managing this team, I’d have pulled him after the first 2 batters based on the season he has had so far and his obvious lack of control at that moment.  But you know Charlie Manuel; he is going to stick with “his guy” until he gives up 5 runs, including a grand slam to Brian McCann.

And this exactly what happened.  I am so tired of people going on about “roles” in the bullpen.  This is my 8th inning guy, this is my middle-relief guy, etc…  Because in the same breath, they will tell you that these guys are only human, not robots.  That is correct.  However, it totally contradicts the theory of bullpen roles.

If they are in fact human, then they are prone to having good days and bad days.  If a guy is having a bad day, like Bastardo, then you use someone else, regardless of their “role!”  Not to do so is counterproductive, detrimental to your team and gives the impression that the 8th inning guy (or whatever-inning guy) HAS to be a robot in order to succeed.  And yet you have just stated he is NOT a robot.  See my frustration with this?

Human beings are NOT made of metal; they are flexible.  And as such, they should be flexible in their “roles.”  Charlie also loves to talk about showing confidence in “his guys.”  Well how much confidence do you think Bastardo has now after that disastrous outing?

Sometimes, you need to step in and save someone from themselves.  Tell him, “Today is not your day.  You’ll get them the next time.”  That disappointment HAS to be better than the one that comes with allowing 5 runs in the 8th inning of a previously scoreless game, followed by getting chewed out on the bench by your pitching coach in front of everyone.

I have a lot of respect for Manuel and the way he manages.  When things are going good, his style works very, very well.  You can afford to let a guy go a little further.  But when times are bad, like they are now, you have to adapt.  And in my humble opinion, that is the part he is getting wrong right now.  And this team, 13 games back in the NL East, cannot afford ANY wrong moves.

I still love ya, Charlie.  But seriously, do “your guys” a favor and show some tough love.  This team needs a swift kick in the rear, on all sides of the ball.  And now we can only pray that it is not already too late.

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Double Disaster as Phillies Lose Two Against the Rays

The Phillies managed to spend only one day out of the basement in the NL East after Saturday’s win.  But Sunday’s twin killing against the Rays propelled them right back to where they apparently belong; in last place.  When your two best starters are pitching and you still lose both games, things have clearly gone very, very wrong.

In the first game, Cole Hamels was practically unhittable.  He did not allow a run over 7 innings and gave up only 3 hits.

Leaving the game with a 1-0 lead, the bullpen was going to have to pitch 2 clean innings.  And as you probably already know, that did not happen.

I try not to say too much about how Charlie Manuel handles this team.  Because frankly, what he has been given to work with is on par with a minor league team.  But after Antonio Bastardo walked 2 batters in the 8th with just a 1-run lead, he should not have been allowed to continue.  Bastardo was awful the day before and clearly, he still has not found proper command of his pitches.  So why then is he left in to pitch to Carlos Pena?

Apparently, he was left in to clear the bases for the next pitcher as he gave up a 3-run homer to Pena.  I saw that coming, as did everyone in my section screaming, “Take him out!”  But Manuel puts blind faith in these guys even when it has become obvious to everyone else that the leash has gotten far too long.

Then again, look at the players Manuel has to choose from.  The pickings are slim.  This bullpen just sucks, so in that regard, it is still hard to blame the manager.  I still don’t agree with the decision to leave Bastardo in, but I am also glad I was not the one having to make that decision.

And then in the 8th with 2 outs and the bases loaded, Manuel left Michael Martinez in to bat instead of pinch hitting.  Martinez is hitting .133 and could not hit the broad side of a barn right now.  After the game, Manuel told the media that neither Juan Pierre nor Mike Fontenot were hitting lefties well, so he left Martinez in.  The issue with that is, Martinez is not hitting ANYONE right now.

Angry at the media for asking, Manuel suggested the reporters should tweet him with their in-game decisions saying, “You guys can float the information down there to me, being as I ain’t smart enough to get it.”  Oh my…

Here are a few other random shots from the 1st game, which the Phillies went on to lose, 3-2.

In game 2, Cliff Lee basically squashed any shot he may have had at his first win of the season by allowing 5 runs over 7 innings.  His last 3 starts have been awful.  Where did our ace go?

Perhaps the strain of not having a win has finally stolen whatever small amount of sanity he had left?   No one really knows what is going on here.

Placido Polanco tried to get this team going.  He went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI and a walk.  John Mayberry Jr. also had a big hit and an RBI.  And it was apparently “opposite day” for Hunter Pence who drew 3 walks in the game.

But the offense literally ended there.  The Phillies managed only 4 hits and left 6 men on base.

And just so Lee did not feel singled out in this one, some of the rookie pitchers decided to help out with 5 walks, a wild pitch and 2 more runs for the Rays in one inning.  It looks like B.J. Rosenberg’s major league career may be over before it began.  He was responsible for all that damage except 1 of the walks.

Adding insult to injury, catcher Brian Schneider was leveled at home plate by Sean Rodriguez coming in to score.  He left the game with a sprained ankle.  Later, Pence almost took out the Rays catcher in a weird semi-collision with Jose Molina’s outstretched leg.

Schneider is now on the DL and the Phillies went down for the count in a 7-3 loss.

Here are the Photo Albums from both games: Game 1: Hamels start, Game 2: Lee start.

The Pirates come to town next for a 4-game series starting tonight at 7:05pm.

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Pitching a Fit Over Phils Pitching

At the start of the season, everyone was worried about the Phillies offense being strong enough to carry a solid starting pitching staff to wins.  Now that the offense is slowly piecing runs together, the entire pitching staff has fallen apart.  Let us examine the grisly evidence:

Roy Halladay is on the DL.  Vance Worley is pitching will bone chips in his elbow.  Cliff Lee has no wins and is recently making a habit of blowing leads.  Cole Hamels has been hit or miss.  Kyle Kendrick and Joe Blanton keep see-sawing between okay and downright horrible.

As for the bullpen, 5 out of 7 pitchers have little big league experience.  4 of those are rookies in their first (3) year or second (1) year in the majors.  Chad Qualls, a veteran, has basically been a bust.  And their $50 million closer hardly ever pitches because the save situations are slim and they are afraid to use him in non-save situations.

Last night in a horrible 11-7 loss to the Twins, 3 of 4 bullpen guys who pitched combined to allow 5 runs.  Kendrick started the game allowing 6 runs in only 4 innings.  He was beyond awful.  Meanwhile, closer Jonathan Papelbon has not thrown a single pitch since 4 days and 3 games ago.

Making matters worse, Hunter Pence has officially lost his mind in right field.  He only has 3 official errors on the year, but if you add in the mental mistakes and plays that he clearly should have made despite not being an “official” error, he probably has at least 10 by now.

In fact, my favorite moment of last night’s game was a comment by announcer Tom McCarthy.  After Pence failed to field a routine hopper in the 5th inning, turning a single into a triple, McCarthy said, “I think it is safe to say he needs to stop doing that.”  He hit that nail on the head.

Right now, the Phillies are a very BAD team.  Now 9.5 games back of the Nationals in the NL East, they do not have time to wait for Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to return.  If they do not turn it around right now, this season is over.

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Disaster Continues as Phillies Drop Series to the O’s

Losing their second straight game to the Orioles, the Phillies leave town today 8 games behind in the NL East and in last place.  But today’s loss was special.  It sucked more than most.

The Phillies had the bases loaded 3 times with Carlos Ruiz as the batter and scored only 1 run on a wild pitch.  When your best player cannot get a hit 3 consecutive times with the bases loaded, you know it is going to be a very bad day.

But worse than that, Cliff Lee still does not have a win, even after 10 starts.  Although today, it was actually his own doing.  Lee blew a 3 run lead by giving up a 3-run homer in the 4th inning.  As a result, Lee’s ERA finally floated above 3.00; he is currently at 3.18.

So not only did the offense and pitching suck, the defense was bad again too.  After 9 errors this season, including a big one today, Ty Wigginton should not be playing 3rd base…ever.  His huge error in the 10th cost the Phillies the game.

However, with Placido Polanco sidelined with a bad wrist, Wiggy keeps getting the nod. They could put Michael Martinez at 3rd, but then you are stuck with Mike Fontenot at 2nd and his defense has been worse than anyone expected.  We are talking little league level here…bad.

The pickings are slim and so therefore are the Phillies chances at recovering from this disaster.  It may be too early to give up just yet, but it is a tempting thought.  Why not bring up some more Triple-A guys and see who rises to the challenge?  I am sure Domonic Brown would agree.

Here is a small piece of good news:  Michael Schwimer found his groove in 3 innings of scoreless relief today.  Sorry though, that is all I have on the good news side.

Monday is an off-day as the battered Phils fly to Minnesota to take on the Twins for 3-games.  Oh wait, that might be good news…the Twins suck about as bad as the Phillies do.  See, it is the little things that make us happy.  Or, not…

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

Injuries & Bad Offense Sinking the Phillies

A little help here, please?  Anybody?  It may still be early in the season, but the Phillies ship is sinking fast.  Is 15 games into the season a bit too early to begin yelling, “Mayday! “?  Maybe not…

With a 7-8 record, the Phillies are barely staying afloat in the NL East where they are tied for last place with the Marlins.  Last nights’ awful 5-1 loss to the Padres combined with star pitcher Cliff Lee being sent to the DL is making a lot of fans sea sick, and with good reason.

Lee’s injury occurred in the 10th inning of Wednesday’s game against the Giants where he apparently strained his left oblique.  The injury may have nothing to do with Lee going 10 innings, as he only threw 102 pitches.  However, had the Phillies offense given him any support at all, Lee probably would not have been on the mound for the 10th.

This Phillies offense seriously needs to batten down the hatches and figure out how to score or be sent to walk the plank.  Too many guy are simply not toeing the line.

There were only 3 hits in the game from the Phillies, and one of those came off the bat of pitcher Roy Halladay.  The only run scored came with 2 outs in the ninth on a Ty Wiggington double.  In the 4th inning, the Phillies had 2 men on and no one out.  But the extremely undisciplined hitting killed the rally; Hunter Pence struck out while swinging at pitches way out of the zone; Shane Victorino flied out and after Wiggington walked, Freddy Galvis flew out.

Halladay had walked three batters in a row for the first time ever, but he still battled back and gave up only 2 runs.  He made the adjustment.  The offense did not.  And so once again, the Phillies waste a strong pitching performance.  Here is a silly thought…Maybe Lee really did not hurt his oblique pitching on Wednesday; maybe the offense simply made him so nauseous that he threw-up one too many times after the game?  This entire pitching staff is probably feeling sea sick along with the rest of us.

So, what is the answer?  No one really knows, but I do wish everyone would stop whining about Ryan Howard and Chase Utley being out.  Because they are not the answer either.  When you have most of your lineup regularly swinging at bad pitches and watching good ones fly by, it makes no difference what Howard and Utley might do.

All I know for sure is that if this team does not figure it out soon, they are going to sink like the Titanic.

 

“LIKE” us on Facebook for more updates & photos!

 

Manuel Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 475 other followers