Results tagged ‘ Opening Day ’

The Phillies 2012 Roster is Announced

The Phillies have announced their Opening Day roster, which includes 12 pitchers, two catchers, six infielders and five outfielders:

Pitchers (starters in BOLD): Right-handers Joe Blanton, Roy Halladay, David Herndon, Kyle Kendrick, Jonathan Papelbon, Chad Qualls, Michael Stutes and Vance Worley, and left-handers Antonio Bastardo, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Joe Savery.

Catchers: Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider.

Infielders: Freddy Galvis, Pete Orr, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Jim Thome and Ty Wigginton.

Outfielders: John Mayberry Jr., Laynce Nix, Hunter Pence, Juan Pierre and Shane Victorino.

The only surprise here is probably Joe Savery.  The shock is not really that he made the team after a very sold spring, but that he made it to the majors at all after a rollercoaster minor league career.  Savery, a former first-round draft pick, looked like his pitching career was over before it started as his ERA ballooned to well over 4.00 in 2008 and went steadily downhill through 2010.

That offseason, Savery was converted to a hitter instead where he initially had amazing success.  Then after 9 months of not tossing a pitch, Savery was promoted to AA Reading and AAA Lehigh Valley where they decided he should become a relief pitcher.

No one knows how it happened or why, but suddenly, Savery could pitch again.  He finished 2011 in the minors with a 1.50 ERA in 25 games as a reliever.  And this spring, Savery pitched well enough to earn a roster spot.  The only question now is, how long will this run last once players start coming off the DL?  It appears that will up to Savery.  Best of luck to him!

 

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Phillies Historical 2011 Opening Weekend Sweep

Sitting among the second largest crowd in Citizen Bank Park’s history to witness another historical feat was amazing.  All in attendance saw the Phillies open a season at home 3-0 for the first time since 1970 and open a season at home with a three-game series sweep for the first time since 1899.  Yes, 1899.

The one-two-three punch of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt proved to be too much for the Houston Astros to handle.  Oswalt was great today, pitching six innings and allowing just two runs on five hits against his former ball club in the 7-3 win.

It was Oswalt’s first start against his old team in his first start of the season.  But there were many first’s in this game.  Ryan Howard hit his first homer of the season while collecting a team-high four RBI in the game.  Michael Martinez made his first major league start in place of Shane Victorino in center.  Martinez later collected his first major league hit and first RBI in the same at bat.

 

Ben Francisco also smacked his first home run of the season today and made a huge first impression as the starting right fielder this weekend.  With three hits in this game, all he had left to prove was that he could play hard in right.  Francisco accomplished that with an amazing catch in right where he crashed into the wall hard, knocking the “SD” out of the out of town scoreboard.

 

As Francisco gave up his body to make the play, the fans jumped to their feet and screamed his praises.  It was Francisco’s very own “Aaron Rowand moment.”  Remember back in 2006 when Rowand smashed face-first into the center field wall to make a game-saving catch?  He was a home town hero after that.

And while Francisco did not leave the field bloodied and battered, the effort was very much the same.  And just like that, Jayson Werth is a distant memory.

Victorino sat today to rest his sore calf, but was able to pinch-hit later in the sixth and then stayed in the game.  He saw exactly one pitch in his first at-bat and sent it to right for an RBI single.  Looks like the calf is just fine.

The Phillies are off on Monday and start a three game series with the Mets on Tuesday.  Cole Hamels will pitch and game time is 7:05pm.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

 

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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Cliff Lee Wins First Game After His Return To Philly

When the Phillies announced that they re-signed Cliff Lee this past December, it was hard to believe.  From the shocking trade after the 2009 season, to Lee’s return and now, his first start back in a Phils uniform, it has been quite an emotional roller coaster ride.

But when Lee took the mound tonight against the Astros, the reality truly set in.  Fans jumped to their feet and roared before Lee even threw a pitch.  The excitement was palpable.  Like a gift from heaven, Cliff Lee is home again.

 

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As expected, Lee dominated the Astros line-up for most of the game.  The only issue he ran into was his namesake, Carlos Lee who smashed a two-run homer.  Lee wound up going seven innings, allowing three runs on four hits while striking out 11 batter.

The only remaining question for the Phillies was could they muster any offense.  The answer is yes.  After the amazing Opening Day ninth inning comeback rally on Friday, the Phils offense picked up today where they left off yesterday.

The Phillies got off to a quick start with two runs in the first inning.  Between the fourth and fifth innings, they scored five more runs.  The highlights were a Raul Ibanez double, a two-run Shane Victorino bloop single and a Ben Francisco double, just to name a few.

The real encouraging factor was not just the runs, but the way they scored the runs.  It was a combination of good base running, patience at the plate, small ball and timely hitting.  This is the Phillies offense everyone has been waiting to see.

Of course, we all loved the home run days and there will still be some of those.  But in the past, the Phillies offense really seemed to rely on the big hits with little to no focus on manufacturing runs.  With Chase Utley hurt and Jayson Werth gone, the big concern going into 2011 was the lack of power on a team that has issues playing small ball.

While we have only seen two games so far, it does look like the offense has finally figured out how to go one base at a time to score runs.  With the incredible pitching they have, if the offense can keep up this pace and be consistent, this will be a very scary team.

Of course, where there is good news, sometime bad news follows.  After a collision in center field with Francisco, Victorino left the game early.  Reports say that he has soreness in his left calf.  While his previous injury was to the left calf, there is still concern.  Hopefully, pulling him was just a precaution.  There is no word yet on how serious it may be.

The Phillies went on to win the game by a score of 9-4.  On Sunday, they will go for the series sweep with Roy Oswalt on the mound against his former team.  Former Phillie J.A. Happ was scheduled to pitch for the Astros but has been scratched due to an oblique issue.  Bud Norris will pitch instead.  Game time is 1:35pm and I will return with photos.

 

Lee photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Walk-Off Win For Phillies Opening Day

Happy Opening Day!  And what an unusual Opening Day it was for the Phillies.

 

 

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The Phillies sent Roy Halladay to the mound to face ex-Phillie Brett Myers of the Astros.  What initially looked like it might be a bad day despite great pitching, the Phillies pulled out a win in walk-off fashion to open the 2011 season.

 

 

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The first hit off Halladay came off the bat of Myers.  And from there, more drama ensued.  In fact, Myers wound up with two of the five hits Halladay allowed through six innings.  Myers allowed only three hits and one earned run through seven innings.

But for the Phillies offense, hits were few and far between making fans wonder if all the hard work assembling this amazing pitching staff was going to pay off.  If Halladay only allows one run but the offense cannot score any runs, wins will be hard to come by.

Only Ryan Howard and Wilson Valdez got any hits through the first six innings.  The Valdez hit was a double in the third inning, but they were unable to score him.  A bad call at first base where Halladay was called out did not help the situation.

 

 

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Also not a huge help were a strange variety of Phillies mistakes.  Ben Francisco missed a fly ball in right early in the game, prompting chants of, “Bring back Werth!” from the crowd.  Valdez let a ball slip right between his legs and Shane Victorino got caught stealing.  Later, poor Carlos Ruiz took a bouncing relay to the plate in what looks like an uncomfortable position:

 

 

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None of this was good news for the Phillies.  But in the seventh, Myers started to tire and the Phils finally manufactured a few runs.  By the ninth inning, down 4-2, the Phillies probably started to imagine the backlash if they were to lose on Opening Day after Halladay pitched a great game.  Suddenly, the hits started coming.

Jimmy Rollins started off the inning with a single to inspire the team.  Howard, Francisco and Ruiz followed suit.  The hit for Francisco was especially huge as it redeemed him from the previous error in the eyes of the crowd.

Valdez stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out.  Visions of the 20 double plays Valdez hit into last year began to haunt the crowd who held their collective breath.  But perhaps the DP curse is over, because Valdez nailed and RBI single to tie the game.

All the Phillies needed now was a hit or a sac fly from John Mayberry Jr.  With his father, former major leaguer John Mayberry Sr., and mother looking on, Mayberry Jr. smashed a 2-2 fastball to center field, over the head of former Phillie Michael Bourn.  Francisco scored and Mayberry had his first major league walk-off hit in his first game ever as an Opening Day roster player.

The walk-off win was the first on Opening Day since May 6, 1974, when Mike Schmidt hit a two-run home run against Tug McGraw to beat the Mets at Veterans Stadium.  But with the high expectations for this 2011 team, this walk-off victory will go down as one of the most memorable in Phillies history.

The stunned Astros team will probably have nightmare’s tonight knowing they face Cliff Lee on Saturday.  Game time is 7:05pm.

Here is the full Photo Album from Opening Day.

 

 

Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

The Final Decisions Before Opening Day

After a few additions and subtractions, the Phillies Opening Day roster is set.

#

Pitchers

#

Infielders

55

Danys Baez

6

Ryan Howard

58

Antonio Bastardo

19

Michael Martinez

56

Joe Blanton

60

Pete Orr

52

Jose Contreras

27

Placido Polanco

34

Roy Halladay

11

Jimmy Rollins

35

Cole Hamels

21

Wilson Valdez

57

David Herndon

#

Outfielders

38

Kyle Kendrick

10

Ben Francisco

33

Cliff Lee

7

Ross Gload

46

Ryan Madson

29

Raul Ibanez

44

Roy Oswalt

15

John Mayberry

16

J.C. Romero

8

Shane Victorino

#

Catchers

#

Catchers

51

Carlos Ruiz

23

Brian Schneider

 

Most notable, Luis Castillo was released yesterday.  After showing up two days late for a very short try-out, the odds of him making the team seemed slim.  And although he did get on base quite a bit, the players already in camp were just as good and much better defensively.

So Wilson Valdez will start at second base in place of Chase Utley with Michael Martinez (photo), who also made the roster, helping out.  Pete Orr, who smashed a triple and showed off his speed on the base path yesterday, also made the roster.  Delwyn Young was sent to the minors.

As for the bullpen, the injury to Brad Lidge’s shoulder left a spot open which will be filled by David Herndon who beat out Michael Stutes for the last roster spot.  Jose Contreras will close for Lidge, who may be out until May or June.

Yesterday’s final exhibition game was a tad sleepy, but having players wandering around the ballpark was neat.  Here is hoping the Phillies make this a new, year-round tradition for the On-Deck series in the future.

Here is the PHOTO ALBUM from the 3/30/11 On-Deck game with the Pirates.

Chase Utley Speaks…Sort Of

A man of little words, Chase Utley has always preferred to do his talking with a bat.  But this season, the bat will remain silent as Utley attempts to recover from a potentially long-term injury.

Utley’s chronic knee pain has been found to be the result of patellar tendinitis, bone inflammation and chondromalacia.  And that does not just sound scary, it is scary.

Hesitant to speak about the issue, Utley has dodged reporters all through spring training.  Luckily, he did not need to depend on the knee to do the dodging.

But when he did finally speak, very little was made any clearer.  Utley referred to making “some progress” but still has no time table for a return.  And when asked which doctors he had seen, Utley’s response was, “ If I tell you I have to kill you.”

While that dry sense of humor is charming, it brings him no closer to a solution.  Surgery seems to risky and may actually do more harm than good.  Odds are that Utley will return at some point and likely struggle through the season in some pain.


Mystery Utley.jpgAnd so Utley remains a bit mysterious.  Incidentally, the word “mysterious” is defined as “Difficult or impossible to understand, explain, or identify; Having an atmosphere of strangeness or secrecy.”  Yup, that about sums it up.

As for the rest of the team, they are on their way back to Philly to play two exhibition games Tuesday and Wednesday before Opening Day on Friday.  Questions still linger about the Phillies.  Will Luis Castillo make the team?  Who will be in the bullpen?  And will Jenn absolutely freak out when the full reality of Utley’s absence hits her on Friday?  Stay tuned…

 

Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

Meet The Newbie’s

So another Opening Day has passed and the Phillies are on their way to global dominance…or, something like it anyway ;o)  If you missed my photos from the event, check out the PHOTO ALBUM which includes Opening Day ceremonies, President Obama’s first pitch and game action.


1-warm ups (38).jpgAnd now it is time to start the season off right and introduce yourselves to the newest members of the 2010 Phillies.  The first one is easy…if you do not know who Roy Halladay is, you are clearly not a Phillies fan.  No worries though…only one game has passed; you have time to catch up .  Here is Mr. Halladay on the right with his very, very serious pre-game face on.  This former Cy Young winner goes by the nickname “Doc” and he is pretty amazing.  Enough said.

The few players you may not know well include pitchers Danys Baez, Jose Contreras and David Herndon; outfielder Ross Gload, infielder Juan Castro and catcher Brian Schneider, pictured here in that order from left to right, top to bottom:


newbies.jpgBoth Baez and Contreras are Cuban defectors; Baez is in his 9th major league season, pitched last for the Orioles and has a name that defies normal spelling rules.  Contreras, not as hard to spell, is in his 7th season and helped the Yankees coin the term “Evil Empire” when they signed him over the Red Sox back in 2002.  In other words, the Sox were pissed….end of story.

Herndon was in the Angels minor leagues last year and this will be his first shot at the bigs.  Ladies, he is single and plays the guitar…go get him!  I kid…

As for Gload, this is his 9th season in the majors and his 6th team.  He is a lifetime .283 hitter and should be a solid bench player for the Phillies.  Castro is another veteran going into his 16th season; he will be 38 in June and may start taking the same youth-inducing vitamins Jamie Moyer does ;o)  He is not a power hitter, but will be a good defensive back-up for the infield.  Schneider, formerly of the Mets and Nationals, is very familiar with the Phillies.  And as a former Phillies-killer, we are glad to have him on our side now.  His 11th season will be served as back-up to Carlos Ruiz.

And as a bonus, here are a few guys who are not really new, but you may not know them.  Pitchers Antonio Bastardo and Drew Carpenter are still rookies who spent a very short time with the Phillies last year.  They spent most of 2009 in the Phillies minors.

And then there is Placido Polanco, who returns to the Phillies after almost a 5 year absence; he was traded in 2005 to the Tigers.  But after his record-setting performance of 6 RBI in one game yesterday, the most by any Phillie on Opening Day, I am confident you now know who he is.  Welcome back, Polly!


AB DC PP.jpgLeft to right: Bastardo, Carpenter, Polanco   

Cole Hamels will take the mound against the Nationals in game 2 tomorrow at 7:05pm…Go Phillies!

 

Photos by Jenn

 

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

 

Opening Day Starts With A Bang For The Phillies

The Phillies began 2010 with a huge spanking to the Washington Nationals, winning by a score of 11-1.  And as far as drama goes, this game had all that and more.  The Phillies fans outnumbered the Nat fans by a wide margin and if you were inside the stadium, it felt like a home game for the Phils.  Screams from excited fans may even have stunned the players a bit.  During the Phillies introductions, hitting coach Milt Thompson turned around, looked at the crowd, eyes wide open, and his mouth moved in the shape of what appeared to be “Wow!”

Yes, Phillies fans were ready for the season to start.  More than 5,000 of them boarded buses from Philly together and travelled to the game, taking up most of the right-center field seats.  And that was just one group.

Fans who travelled to DC were not disappointed; the day began with President Obama tossing the first pitch, as sharp shooters climbed the rooftops and Secret Service swarmed around the field.  The President grinned at the reception he was given, pleasantly surprised by the excited crowd.


Obama 040510.jpgSoon after the Presidential excitement, Roy Halladay made his Phillies debut and was as advertised.  He allowed one run over 7 innings and even scored his second career RBI on a swinging bunt single in the 4th inning.  In short, he was fantastic!


Halladay 040510.jpgAdd 11 runs to the pitching performance and we all bore witness to a small massacre.  Ryan Howard wasted no time with his bat, blasting a 2-run homer in the 4th inning and he ended with 2 hits on the day.  Placido Polanco then put any doubts to rest about his return to Phillies; Polly whacked a Grand Slam in the 7th, one of his 3 hits of the day and 6 RBI total.  Both Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz walked 3 times each in the game and each had one hit as well.  Jimmy Rollins led off the game with a single and later tripled.  Overall, it was an amazing offensive effort.


040510a.jpgThe players were in good spirits and happy to be back to work.  Before the game, Raul Ibanez walked out with the pitching staff for pre-game warm-ups.  The position players were not out yet.  On his way back to the dugout, I asked him, “Hey Raul, are you pitching today?”  He responded with a huge belly laugh and gestured yes to me.  Later, a friend playfully told Greg Dobbs I was his biggest fan and Greg then tossed me his warm-up ball. Thanks, Greg…you are awesome!

Today was a good day to be a Phillies fan.  Having broken their 4 year Opening Day loss streak, it also looks like 2010 I going to be another great year to be a Phillies fan.  Action resumes on Wednesday in DC.  

Here is the PHOTO ALBUM from the game and all preceeding ceremonies….enjoy! 

Photos by Jenn

 

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

 

Moyer Plays Superman; Hamels Still Working On It

While nothing official has been announced yet, it looks like the 5th starters spot will go to Jamie Moyer.  Against the Yankees on Friday, Moyer solidified his bid for the job by pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed only 1 hit. 
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His overall ERA for spring is now 2.61, if your count all the “B” games he pitched also.  Is it possible that this 47-year old man, coming off 3 surgeries in the off-season, is simply just indestructible?  Either he is taking Fountain of Youth pills or secretly, he is Superman with the red, white and blue uniform being perfect camouflage for his super hero suit.

So Kyle Kendrick will probably start the year in the bullpen and just wait around for someone to toss a huge ball of Kryptonite at Moyer.  Either way, Kendrick should be content just to make the team after a young but up and down career so far.

Leaving his super hero costume at home, Cole Hamels is still a work in progress.  He got beat up on Saturday against the Twins, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks in 6 1/3 innings.  While Hamels was pleased that he was able to reach the 90-pitch mark in a game, he still has some big control issues to work out.  After the game, Hamels told the press that he is “starting to really feel game-oriented.”  With only 8 days left until Opening Day, let us hope that his “game-oriented” compass is pointing towards the strike zone.

Another point of concern this spring is Raul Ibanez, who is barely swinging the bat with a paltry .098 average.  That is only 4 hits in 41 at bats.  Ibanez struggle the 2nd half of 2009 with a hernia that was operated on this off-season.  While he recovered well from the operation, he still has not looked at all like the “RAUUUUUL” of old.  To make matters worse, he got hit in the right elbow with a pitch on Friday.  It may not be a serious injury, but it may be enough that he does not get much more hitting practice before Opening Day.

When the Phillies signed Ibanez to replace Pat Burrell last year, many people, myself included, questioned why they signed a player who was 4-years older than Burrell to a 3-year contract.  Ibanez will turn 38 in June and it does appear that he is not wearing the same Superman cape that Jamie Moyer is using.  Moyer is a freak of nature.  Ibanez, however, appears to be a mere mortal.  While everyone was thrilled with his performance in the first half of 2009, things went downhill from there and show no signs of improving.  Cross your fingers; this could get interesting.

The good news is, if one of the outfielders should go down, John Mayberry Jr. is waiting in the wings.  Mayberry was sent to minor league camp today, but he had a great spring and would likely be first in line to be brought up if anything goes wrong.   Mayberry had 6 RBI, a homer, 3 doubles and hit for an average of .289 in camp.

Two more players were reassigned today also; catcher Dane Sardinha and infielder Ozzie Chavez.  This means the bench for the Phillies should consist of catcher Brian Schneider, infielders Juan Castro and Greg Dobbs and outfielder Ross Gload.  With the 12 pitchers and other regulars, that should complete the 25-man roster.

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Moyer head shot by Jenn

 

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

 

Opening Day Arrives in Philly

After yesterday’s 4-1 loss to the Braves, the Phillies have now lost 4 straight Opening Day games, three of which have been behind Brett Myers.  The good news is, they lost last year too and still won the World Series.  The slightly bad news is, it appears our left-handed heavy line-up may need some shaking up.  Get to that in a moment; first, some pictures from the Opening Day pomp and circumstance which include the pre-game line-up; cake in the Diamond Club; Mitch Williams joking around with Shane Victorino; Ryan Howard doing an interview; Chase Utley warming up:

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More pre-game excitement:  The entire Phillies team actually entered the stadium from OUTSIDE the ballpark, walking in behind a high school marching band.  They wandered through Ashburn Alley above the centerfield seats, walked through the outfield seating section and down a set of very scary looking metal steps while high-fiving the fans they passed by; they were then greeted by more fans on the field, draped along a red carpet leading to mid-field.  The photos below show the Army opening up the American flag; the decent to the outfield stairs; the raising of the World Series flag; the red carpet of fans; Matt Stairs poking himself in the belly and laughing (I guess he thinks he is the Pillsbury DoughBoy?); and finally, Army paratroopers entering the stadium with the game ball.  Fun note – the first parachute guy missed the stadium and landed somewhere in the parking lot – oops!

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Before the game, I spoke with our friend Todd Zolecki from The Zo Zone, who was happy to be back in Philly and getting on with the season, as we all are. 
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I also spoke to Larry Shenk from Phillies Insider who was equally excited to get the season started.  To the right is a photo of me with Todd; I also took a picture with Larry, which I cropped myself out of and Photo-shopped him next to me and Todd.  Larry looks great, but I had a really dumb look on my face; besides, we don’t need any more pictures of me ;O)

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Anyway, the game did get off to a somewhat ominous start when, after the raising of the World Series flag, manager Charlie Manuel began walking down the aisle towards the outfield steps to make his way onto the field behind the players.  But in a strange turn of events, just as Manuel neared the wobbly looking metal stair case, the CBP employees pulled the steps up from the field!  Yes, they took the stairs right out from under him, leaving him stranded amongst hundreds of excited fans.  Poor Charlie had to hike it back up the aisle and figure out another way onto the field.  A bad omen for the day, perhaps?

The game began with Brett Myers giving up 3 home runs in the first 2 innings for 4 runs total.  Myers has become notorious for his early inning struggles, but after those 2 innings, he settled in and pitched 4 more scoreless innings.  However, Derek Lowe for the Braves was lights out all night, with the Phillies getting only 2 hits off him.  Lowe had a shut-out going into the 9th inning, but much to everyone’s surprise, he was not sent out to finish the game. 

Instead, lefty Mike Gonzalez took over in the 9th and quickly got into trouble against our few right-handed bats.  With 1 out, pinch-hitter Eric Bruntlett lined a ball down the left field line for a double and then Jayson Werth sent him home with a single.  And here come the lefties:  Utley managed to draw a walk, but then Ryan Howard got caught looking at strike 3 and newcomer, Raul Ibanez went down swinging; game over.  The left handed bats killed the rally, which is the nightmare Philly fans have been envisioning all off-season.  But again, it is only one game; no need to panic or even be slightly bummed out about it.  Lowe pitched an amazing game and sometimes when that happens, there is not much anyone can do. 

So, Phillies fans are left with the following questions to ponder:  Will this mostly left-handed line-up figure out how to get it done?  Is Ibanez going to have a rough time endearing himself to the fans after starting out 0-4 on Opening Day?  Will Myers solve the early innings puzzle?  Well, we have 161 more games to figure that all out.  Just chill…  :O)

In the meantime, more photos!  Below, you will see Myers pitching; Ibanez catching a fly ball; Utley in mid-air after a quick throw to first; the Phanatic and friend as a cheer squad; and a close-up of the fancy gold-trimmed Opening Day jerseys which you can buy at the park for a who*pping $240 (excuse the * edit as this program thinks it is a bad word)!!

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I have put together a photo album with these and many more shots from Opening Day which you can see HERE.  Hope you like them :O)  One more for you though; This is my Photo of the Day.  It is Jayson Werth, apparently, kissing a tree frog; taken from the Phillies Phanavision. :O)P4058289 Werth.jpg

The Phillies have the day off today to recuperate from another disappointing Opening Day and then it is back at it with the Braves on Tuesday night; game time is 7:05pm.

(Photos by Jenn)

 

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