Results tagged ‘ NL East ’
If there is one team out there that pitcher Kyle Kendrick should be able to handle, you would probably pick the Nationals. However, in the first inning tonight it did not look good. Kendrick gave up a run and loaded the bases. But after chatting with pitching coach, Rich Dubee, Kendrick calmed down and got out of the jam.
Kendrick has been the big unknown all year long; as in, no one knows what he might do in any given start. He has given up no less than 4 runs in each of his last 4 starts while pitching no more than 6 innings in any of those game. But tonight, he handled the Nats and allowed only 2 runs over 6 inning.
The offense got Kendrick a descent lead with some homers and a few other timely hits. Both Raul Ibanez and Wilson Valdez had 3-hit nights and they each collected an RBI. Shane Victorino had 2 hits and a walk in the leadoff spot. Valdez, filling in for the still lame Jimmy Rollins, tripped going around the bases in the 3rd inning and looked like he was hurt. Luckily, he shook it off and kept playing. But with all the injuries this year, that was a scary moment.
Also in the 3rd, Ryan Howard broke some more Phillies records. With a 2-run homer, Howard became the first Phillie ever to record 5 straight 30 home run, 100 RBI seasons. Chuck Klein had done it 4 straight seasons. Howard’s 252nd career homer also put him into third place all-time for home runs by a Phillie. He passed Pat Burrell who had 251 homers.
In the 7th, there was a bit of a counting mix-up involving the Nats lead-off hitter, Danny Espinosa. After he watched 2 strikes go by and swung and missed at the 3rd pitch, Espinosa hung around, waiting for another pitch. From the Phillies dugout, Roy Oswalt held up 3 fingers for him, hoping he would get a clue. Instead, Espinosa stood there and proceeded to argue the strike count with the umpire. Poor kid; maybe he took counting lessons on Sesame Street with the Mets alumni? :
Later in the 8th, Ryan Madson came in to pitch with a 5-2 lead and got himself into big trouble. After a fly ball out, he walked the next 2 batters and gave up a single to load the bases with one out. A 3-run lead for the Phillies these days is not a sure thing by any means. But Madson found where he had hidden his fastball location and got the next two outs.
Brad Lidge came in for the 9th and recorded his 23rd save of the year and did so with only 8 pitches. Not to be outdone by Howard’s accomplishments, Lidge moved past Tug McGraw on the Phillies all-time saves list with 95.
Tomorrow afternoon at 1:35pm, the Phillies will try to sweep the Nats with Joe Blanton on the mound. I shall return with photos and hopefully, a win :O)
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Leading the NL East by 3 games, the Phillies started a very important home stand tonight. And while the Nationals are in last place, it seems that the Phillies, like the Braves last week, always struggle against this team. That was not the case tonight.
Roy Oswalt had a shaky start, allowing a run in the first inning. But after that, he got out his fly swatter and smacked the happy right out of the Nats. Over the next 5 innings, Oswalt did not allow another run. He struck out 7 and walked only one batter over 6 total innings.
Oswalt was even a threat with the bat tonight. In the bottom of the 1st, the Phillies went on a swatting spree, knocking Nats pitcher Jason Marquis all over the yard. Of 6 singles in the inning, one of them was from Oswalt who also collected his first RBI of the year on that hit. Later, Oswalt reached base again on a Nats error.
After 2 runs had scored in the first with one out, Wilson Valdez tried his best to hit into his 20th double play of the year. But his attempt was thwarted by the 2nd base umpire who got nicked with the ball, which then ricocheted away from the Nats fielder. One run scored before it was called a dead ball and the Phillies went on to score 6 runs in the inning. Who says umpires cannot be helpful?
Every starter in the game got a hit, except poor Chase Utley who had a hit stolen when first baseman Adam Dunn did a belly flop on a ball smacked up the 1st base line. It wasn’t pretty, but it was an out. It was also one of the few bright spots for the Nats who must have had sore backsides after getting swatted all night.
Although Valdez, with his stellar defense, prefers the head shot for a quick kill:
Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez led the offense with 2 hits and 2 RBI each; one of Werth’s hits was a solo homer. Carlos Ruiz also had 2 RBI on a home run in the 8th that extended the Phillies lead to 9-1. The bullpen held down the lead so the Phillies will remain 3 games in front of the Braves.
Tomorrow night at 7:05pm, the Phillies will try to repeat tonight’s performance with Kyle Kendrick on the mound.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
With a 3-game sweep of the Marlins completed tonight, the Phillies have increased their NL East lead to 3 games over the Braves. Roy Halladay picked up his 19th win of the year while allowing 3 runs over 6 innings. Halladay does appear to be tiring as we near the end of the regular season, but is still pitching effectively. If the Phils can add to their 3-game lead over the Braves, perhaps Halladay can get some much needed rest before the potential playoff run.
Another big event tonight besides #19 for Halladay involved Shane Victorino. He completed a quadruple double for the season; with a triple tonight, he now has double digits in steals (32), doubles (24), triples (10) and home runs (17). Victorino had 2 hits total tonight plus and RBI.
Other big contributors to the 10-5 win were Raul Ibanez and Wilson Valdez who each had 3 hits and 2 RBI. Ryan Howard reached base 3 times by drawing walks and Chase Utley hit a long homer to right field. After scoring only 2 runs last night, a 10-run explosion was fun to watch.
The Phillies have the day off tomorrow before starting a 9-game home stand; 3 games each with the Nationals, Braves and Mets. The Braves series will be pivotal in determining the 2010 Phillies fate. The Phils have shuffled their pitching rotation to have the big 3 go against the Braves; Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt. But the next game with be with the Nats on Friday at 7:05pm; Oswalt will pitch.
Since there is an off-day tomorrow, I have a special off-day blog planned. Yesterday, I spent time with former Phillies catcher, Darren Daulton, at the 97.5 FM The Fanatic studios during his radio show. I will tell you all about that and have photos to post from my tour of the station as well. Check back for that!
Also feel free to check out my new Facebook community page, “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney.” You can join the group and add your own thoughts and photos. Remember, real men hug. ;o)
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
How do the Phillies score 11 runs on a Monday and then look like they have never lifted a bat on a Tuesday? The short answer is, that’s baseball. However, the Phillies hitters have gone through very odd stretches of offensive offense this year. For example, when they go 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position like tonight, it is a real head scratcher.
More difficult to bear than the lack of production was watching Cole Hamels pitch another gem while wondering why this team cannot squeeze out some runs for him. Hamels was not incredibly sharp tonight, but he was still very effective. In 6 2/3 innings, Hamels allowed only one run while striking out 13 Marlins batters.
The two runs managed by the offense came from a Placido Polanco double in the first and a Jayson Werth ground out in the 5th that scored Shane Victorino. Overall, the Phillies had only 5 hits, left 12 men on base and grounded into double plays twice. Wilson Valdez hit in double play #19 on the year which, for under 300 at-bats, has to be some sort of record. Of course, Valdez has done an admirable job filling in for Jimmy Rollins this year and had one of the 5 hits tonight.
So with the offense stuttering, the Phillies bullpen would have to hold down a very slim 2-1 lead. Chad Durbin closed out the 7th and Ryan Madson handled the 8th, despite putting 2 runners on base. But all the bullpen drama this year is taking its toll on my health. Let me paint a picture for you with a quick quiz:
“Watching the Phillies bullpen pitch in a close, 1-run game makes me want to…”
A – Vomit
B – Consult a psychiatrist to determine why the bullpen is making me insane.
C – Crawl in a dark hole and bang my head against the wall until I pass out.
D – All of the above
If you guessed D, you are either a genius or a Phillies fan….or, perhaps both. ;o)
On that note, we move on to the 9th inning; it was Brad Lidge time. After swallowing a bottle of Tums and debating how many glasses of wine would make this inning easier for me to get through, I finally glued myself to the couch and prepared for the inevitable roller coaster ride.
And yet, the ride was more of a carousel than a roller coaster. Lidge plowed through the Fish, earning the save and give the Phillies the 2-1 win. Also, the Braves lost tonight which means the Phils are 2 games ahead of the Braves!
Roy Halladay will go for the sweep tomorrow night…game time is 7:10pm!
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The Phillies went to Florida today and filleted the Fish with 11 runs scored. The dinner bell rang early as Jayson Werth smacked a solo homer in the 2nd inning to start the feast. The offense continued to rack up runs in every inning from the 2nd to the 7th.
Four home runs tonight were a welcome sight; Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz and Greg Dobbs all followed in Werth’s footsteps after the first bomb in the 2nd. Utley looked very hungry with his homer plus 2 walks. And Ruiz snacked on the Marlins with 3 hits and 4 RBI. Even starting pitcher, Joe Blanton, helped out with a hit and a run scored.
Blanton allowed just one run through 6 innings and had a fairly easy time knocking down Marlins batters. With 8 strike outs recorded, the only real disappointment was that Blanton could not go 7 innings. Blanton has struggled all year to get past 6 innings; he has pitched 7 innings or more only 8 times in 25 starts.
But with an 11-1 lead in the 7th, there was no need to push Blanton further. The bullpen was fully rested after a Roy Oswalt complete game shut-out yesterday. Jose Contreras pitched the 7th and did well. In his last 2 outings, he allowed 2 runs each game and looked tired. A clean outing tonight was probably a nice confidence boost for him.
On the other hand, David Herndon was brought in to get some work in the 8th and got beat up by the angry Fish. He gave up 3 runs, including a 2-run homer. But after he finally got out of the inning, the Phillies still led by a score of 11-4.
The Phillies were able to rest some of their regulars near the end of the game, giving bench players like Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. a chance to play. Wilson Valdez is still filling in for Jimmy Rollins who had an MRI on his hamstring today. The MRI showed a slight strain, but no tear. So Rollins should be back in action in a few days. Although, Valdez has been great in his absence; Valdez collected 2 hits tonight.
With the Phillies win plus a Braves win over the Nationals tonight, the Phils remain 1 game in first place. They have 2 more games with the Fish…game time tomorrow is 7:10pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
After yesterday’s disheartening 4-3 loss to the Mets, the Phillies were hoping for a different result today. The Braves won yesterday, which put the Phillies into a tie for first place in the NL East. But with Roy Oswalt starting the game today, taking 2 of 3 from the Mets looked likely.
However, the Phillies offense has begun to stutter again. They were unable to score until the 8th inning last night, which wound up being too little, too late. Today, Chase Utley drove a run in during the 1st inning; that seemed like a good start. Ryan Howard singled in another run in the 3rd, but after that, the offense went back to sleep.
Raul Ibanez finally woke up the Phillies for a short time in the 7th when he belted a solo homer to bolster the Phillies lead to 3-0. The Phillies then loaded the bases with no outs but failed to score again. Oswalt grounded out and Placido Polanco hit into a double play. They did not score in the 9th either so the game would rest on the pitching of Oswalt.
After yesterday’s bullpen disaster with 2 runs allowed in the 7th, manager Charlie Manuel was probably hoping he could give the pen a day off. Oswalt started today and was mowing down Mets hitters one by one. With just over 100 pitches going into the 9th inning, Oswalt had held the Mets scoreless.
Despite getting hit in the ankle with a ground ball in the 9th, Oswalt kept pitching and induced a double play for the first two outs. He struck out the next batter and gave the Phillies a 3-0 win. It was his 20th complete and 8th shut-out of his career.
The Phillies will now travel to Miami to face the Marlins for a 3-game series. Both the offense and the bullpen are still major concerns for the Phillies. Hopefully, the Florida sunshine will get the bats heated up again. Game time is 7:10pm.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Game 3 with the Marlins today turned into a Big Top Circus act. Both teams battled and drama ensued…
To start with, it was not an awful game for Joe Blanton tonight. But there was certainly some excitement. The 3rd inning in particular had a little bit of everything, much like a circus; a couple hits, an error, a minor injury, a deflected ball and a few runs. And Blanton was involved in all of it. He gave up the hits, committed the error, got nailed in the leg with a hit ball and later deflected a sure double play ball, ruining the opportunity for Chase Utley who could then only get one out. The only thing missing from this inning was a juggling clown.
But after Blanton survived the 3rd inning weirdness, he did fairly well. It was not pretty, but it kept the Phillies in the game. Blanton ended up with 6 1/3 innings pitched, 2 earned runs, 2 unearned runs, 2 walks and 5 strike outs.
The offense worked out some runs to help Blanton out as well. The middle of the line-up was productive with Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins getting 2 hits each; 1 RBI for Howard and 2 for Rollins. Raul Ibanez had a huge night with 3 hits and 3 RBI; Ibanez, Howard and Shane Victorino each hit solo home runs as well.
But all that offense was about to be erased by the Phillies bullpen. Oh yes, the circus has come back to town…and not in a good way. Antonio Bastardo allowed one of Blanton’s runners to score in the 7th. But the 8th inning was nearly the killer as the bullpen got into serious hot water…
Jose Contreras looked like he had never pitched in the majors before; he started off with a home run and a double. A Jayson Werth throwing error later allowed another run to score and Contreras wound up with 3 earned runs. With 2 outs, JC Romero came in and balked, moving the Marlins runner to 3rd base. He then walked Logan Morrison on 4 pitches.
However, it was not over yet…Ryan Madson came in and tossed a wild pitch, which probably should have been handled my Carlos Ruiz. Instead, the runner on 3rd scored to tie the game. So the Phillies bullpen took a 7-4 lead and blew it. And 2 of those 3 runs scored with 2 outs in the inning. Disgusting.
With a 7-7 tie in the bottom of the 8th, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco put the “T” in team; Victorino singled and stole second. Then Polly singled to score Victorino. And that all happened with 2 outs; what a way to pick-up your teammates!
In the 9th, it would be in the hands of Madson to save this see-saw game. He got 2 outs quickly and then walked a batter. Then facing ex-Phillie Wes Helms with a runner on, Madson struck out his old teammate. This 8-7 win, plus a Braves loss tonight = FIRST PLACE! The Phillies also became the first team in the National League to reach 80 wins. Again, it wasn’t pretty…but we’ll take it. You may now exhale…whew!
Player photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Win some, lose some…the Phillies could not have done so today in a more upside down fashion. Two games; two very different results:
Vance Worley made his first start in the majors today against the Marlins and did a pretty good job. Certainly it was good enough to de-throne Kyle Kendrick from the 5th starters spot. Kendrick has been awful and the Phillies pitching coach, Rich Dubee, was really upset about his performance yesterday. Worley went 5 innings and allowed 2 runs; he was only pulled after 5 because the offense was sleeping and Charlie Manuel put in a pinch hitter. Worley did his job; the offense did not.
The Phils offense had just 1 hit through 8 innings and that was a Brian Schneider single in the 2nd. They were facing another pitcher making his starting debut, Adalberto Mendez. Rather than beat up on the rookie, the Phillies swung at junk and popped up balls that were right down the middle. They made a first-timer look like a Cy Young winner.
Just as disgusting as the offense was sloppy play in the field. Raul Ibanez made two very bad throws in the 1st inning. Later in the game, Placido Polanco watched a Dan Uggla double sail past him down the 3rd base line. That was just a good hit. But later, with Uggla at the plate again, Polanco was playing off the line…again. Result? Same thing; a double down the line. Why was Polanco playing off the line when he had just gotten burned there in Uggla’s last at bat? Ugh.
A lot about this game was inexplicable, much like the Phillies magical vanishing offense all year long. When you see this team play like this, it makes you wonder how they have stayed in the NL East race all year.
There were some other revelations in the last few days as well. Clearly, Mike Zagurski is not going to make it in the Bigs. This kid has been up, down, multiple injuries, up and down again and today, with yet another chance to show what he has, he failed miserably. 3 runs allowed on 2 hits and a walk…it was bad. Scott Mathieson did the same thing yesterday when he walked 2 batters and showed a serious lack of control. I feel for these guys, but maybe the Phillies need to move on?
Ok, so let’s see if they are still asleep for game two…
Oh, here are the bats! Game 2 was the polar opposite of Game 1. Much like a mental patient suffering from multiple personality disorder, the Phillies played two totally different games today. The Game 2 persona is certainly the one Phillies fans would like to see more of.
A five run 2nd inning got this game off to a good start. Jimmy Rollins, batting from the 5-hole, led off the inning with a single. Raul Ibanez followed his lead and then Domonic Brown walked. With the bases loaded, Carlos Ruiz worked out a walk for an easy RBI. Later that same inning with 2 outs, Placido Polanco hit a 2-run double and then Chase Utley singled to score Polanco.
It was a very upside down kind of day for Utley. He did not have a hit in the first game, but for Game 2, Utley racked up 2 hits, 2 RBI and he was also hit by a pitch. Brown got a rare start as Jayson Werth was rested and he managed to work out 2 walks. But having sat on the bench for a while, Brown looks rusty. Hopefully, this start will get him back into the “swing” of things.
Starting the game was pitcher Roy Oswalt who had some issues with the long ball. He allowed 3 homers for 4 runs in the first 5 innings. This seems to be a “Roy” issue this week; Roy Halladay gave up 4 runs on 4 homers on Saturday against the Brewers. Luckily, the Phillies bats were heating up tonight to bail Oswalt out of trouble, as they also did on Saturday for Halladay.
With a 7-4 lead, Ryan Madson took care of the 8th inning after JC Romero walked the first batter. Brad Lidge pitched the 9th and recorded the save! Lidge has been super lately…keep it up, Brad!
Tomorrow night at 7:05pm, Joe Blanton will pitch in game 3 of this series with the Fish. The Braves lost today so with one win and one loss today, the Phillies are 1/2 game behind them in the NL East.
And a few reminders: Do not forget to check out my new Facebook community page, “I Want A Hug From Mike Sweeney.” And when you are done there, hop over to the Phillies #1 fan contest and VOTE for me! You can vote up to 25 times a day :O) Thank you to all for your support!
Worley photo by CBSsports.com; Utley photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Of course, I am not referring to an actual wolf…this wolf was Brewers pitcher and former Phillie, Randy Wolf. Although, had it been an actual wolf that devoured the Phillies, that would have been way more interesting.
But as it stands, Randy Wolf pitched 6 2/3 strong innings against his former team, allowing just 2 runs. For the Phillies, Kyle Kendrick basically stunk up the place. Kendrick started the game with a 3-run homer to Prince Fielder. He threw one pitch, missed his spot and Fielder gobbled up the cookie tossed his way. By the end of 4, Kendrick allowed 5 runs on 7 hits and a walk.
The worst part is that the Phillies have a doubleheader with the Marlins tomorrow so pitching was already at a premium. With Kendrick not able to get past 4 innings, many bullpen pitchers had to be used which means less pitching and/or tired pitching for tomorrow. Kendrick has been on a serious downhill slide since early August and seems to be getting worse instead of better as each start goes by.
Add in the fact that the Phillies offense is still struggling to score runs and this is another really disappointing loss. The only two runs scored by the Phils today came on a Carlos Ruiz double in the 2nd inning. After that, the offense had only 2 hits; one from Chase Utley and one from Jimmy Rollins. Of 7 hits on the day, 2 were from Utley.
As for some of the young Phillies arms, Scott Mathieson and Antonio Bastardo are back up from AAA and each pitched an inning. Bastardo looked sharp; Mathieson still lacks control and walked 2 batters. He did work out of the jam, but the big question mark still looms above Mathieson’s head. He can throw 97mph, but that is only helpful if he can throw strikes. So far, it is not looking that way.
The Braves lost their game today as well, so the Phillies missed out on the opportunity to put themselves in a tie for first. They still stand 1 game behind the Braves.
In the doubleheader tomorrow, Vance Worley will be called up to start the day game, probably with Nate Robertson in tow as a back-up/bullpen piece. Roy Oswalt will start the night game. The Marlins are on a role playing spoiler as they took 2 of 3 from the Braves this week so this will not be an easy series. The Phillies had better find their bats!
Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game. Enjoy.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
Against the Brewers tonight, the Phillies came away with another win in another very close game. But early on, it was not looking like a Happy Halladay weekend for Roy Halladay. For the first time in his career, Halladay gave up 4 home runs in one game. The good news is that they were all solo shots. Halladay appeared to struggle with his command all night long and seemed visibly annoyed by many calls from the home plate umpire.
In Halladay’s last three starts combined, he has allowed 10 runs in 21 innings; that calculates to an ERA of 4.29. Granted, this is not terrible by any means, but it is also not typical Halladay. This brings a few questions to mind; has Halladay been overused and are the number of innings pitched catching up with him? With 7 innings pitched tonight, he is up to 221 innings for the year so far. That is more innings than any pitcher in all of baseball. The 33-year old reached a career high in 2003 with 266 innings pitched and is on pace to pass that record.
Although Halladay’s arm is unlikely to fall off anytime soon, the workload is very heavy for a pitcher at his age and with as much mileage as he has on that arm. Everyone keeps referring to Halladay as a “workhorse.” I hate that reference. Because when a horse goes lame, we all know what happens next. While no one is going to put a pitcher out of his misery, the Phillies need to watch Halladay carefully and be sure he stays healthy.
However, Halladay’s rough outing tonight was backed up by some great defense and even a little offense. Both Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth hit solo homers in the 2nd inning and Chase Utley drove in a run in the 3rd. Utley tried to destroy 2nd base after that during a steal attempt. But both the base and the Brewers won the battle as he was tagged out.
Down 4-3 going into the 7th, the Phillies took the lead with a few unusual runs. Wilson Valdez worked out a walk to load the bases and then made a great base running play. Carlos Ruiz scored on a sac fly and Valdez, reading the play quickly, saw the ball sail past home plate and he slid in behind Ruiz safely in a very close play. The aggressive move gave the Phils a 5-4 lead.
The Phillies bullpen, including Ryan Madson, JC Romero and Brad Lidge, held down the lead. Halladay got the win despite getting roughed up a bit and Lidge earned another save. The Braves won today, so the Phils are still just one game behind them.
The final game of the series is tomorrow afternoon at 1:35pm. Kyle Kendrick will face former Phillie Randy Wolf. I will return with photos!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography