Results tagged ‘ Padres ’

Lehigh Valley Train Keeps Rolling as Phillies Finally Win a Game

Falling behind fast in the NL East, the Phillies were more than due for a team shake up which began on Thursday.  Over the course of almost 3 days here is who is in and who is out:

COMING IN FROM LEHIGH VALLEY:

LHP Jake Diekman, 25 years old (no major league experience), LHP Raul Valdes, 34 years old (2 years in majors, 6 in minors), Third baseman Hector Luna, 32 years old (parts of 7 years in majors out of 11 years total), 2nd and 3rd baseman Mike Fontenot, 31 years old (6th season in majors out of 8).

OUTTA HERE:

LHP Joe Savery (to Lehigh Valley), RHP Michael Schwimer (to Lehigh Valley when Cliff Lee came off the DL), RHP Brian Sanches (to Lehigh Valley), Catcher Erik Kratz (to Lehigh Valley), Outfielder Laynce Nix (to the 15-day DL with a strained left calf), Oufielder Scott Podsednik (to the Boston Red Sox for cash).

Is your head spinning yet?  Here is an analogy for you: Remember years ago when people joked that McDonalds chicken McNuggets were “pieces parts?”  You had no idea if you ate one what exact part or grade of chicken you might be getting.  That is now the Philadelphia Phillies.  They are going to toss out onto the field some “pieces parts” and see what happens.  Just call them the “McPhillies.”

Last night’s version of the McPhillies actually tasted ok.  Thanks to 3-RBI nights and home runs from both Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry Jr., things worked out well and ended in a 7-3 win.  Freddy Galvis added an RBI as well with a double in the 6th inning.

It appears that Galvis is getting a little better at the plate everyday, which is great news.  And Mayberry has a 4-game hitting streak going, which means maybe he is out of the slump.  That would be huge for this team because Mayberry can add some real power if he keeps going well.

Vance Worley had a quality start with 3 runs allowed in 6 innings.  So the bullpen was going to have to hold the Padres to those 3 runs, which they have been unable to do in many games now.  But magically, both Antonio Bastardo and Chad Qualls decided they like their jobs and pitched pretty well.  I say magic, but perhaps it was the oncoming lights of the Lehigh Valley train that inspired them?

Whatever it was, it’s a win and we’ll take it.  Can the new McPhillies pull off 2 wins in a row?  We shall see…game time tonight is 7:05pm.

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Hitting Rock Bottom

You may have thought that the Phillies hit rock bottom days ago.  It was hard to imagine things getting much worse.  And yet, it did get worse.  After getting swept in 3 games by the Mets yesterday, I think we can officially say, here it is; rock bottom.

And it is not because they were swept by the Mets that this is rock bottom.  It is because of the manner in which they were beaten, or slaughtered, if you prefer a stronger term.  Murphy’s Law even entered the equation last night.  Anything that could go wrong did.

Through the first six innings, we saw a glimmer of hope.  The offense was hitting, Cliff Lee was pitching well in his first start off the DL; he even collected an RBI for himself.  But not wanting to push Lee too hard in his return, he was pulled after 6 innings.  From the time the 7th inning began, it was clear that the Phillies bullpen would pull out all the stops to LOSE the game.

Let me begin by saying I have never been impressed with Kyle Kendrick as a pitcher.  I am sure he is a fine human being, but his pitching usually leaves a lot to be desired.  He is inconsistent, he gets rattled easily and he wanders about with that awful, sad puppy look on his face.

And last night, he managed to impose the sad puppy face upon every Phillies fan watching the game.  With a 4-2 lead to start the inning, before he recorded a single out, Kendrick gave up a double, 2 walks and then hit the 4th batter to force in a run.  By the time the inning ended, the Mets had 3 more runs and a 5-4 lead.

But Kendrick was not done yet.  He gave up 2 more runs in the 8th without recording an out.  Jose Contreras helped him out and added a run of his own.  Then Brian Sanches gave up a solo homer in the ninth.  That is 8 runs out of the bullpen, 7 of them earned runs, which led to an embarrassing 10-6 loss.

The defense added to the humiliation as Shane Victorino dove for a ball which wound up flying right by him.  And Hunter Pence dropped an easy fly ball that was right in his glove.

Manager Charlie Manuel was so disgusted after the game, he finally ripped into the team.  Manuel said they needed to play better and prepare better.  The preparation bit is what was alarming.  Are these guys just strolling into the ballpark without getting ready physically and mentally?  That sure is what it seems like.

That would also confirm my theory that this team is not focused and an overall sense of complacency has set in.  Complacency or apathy could be occurring for a variety of reason including past success, arrogance about one’s abilities, off-field distractions, making a ton of money and the fact that many of these guys have already won the big prize.

While I would hate to think that about this Phillies team, the reality is that all of those factors may be playing a part.  As an example, you know who is the opposite of complacent?  A guy like Freddy Galvis, who is working his behind off.  Galvis was a homer short of the cycle last night, plus his defense and intensity are off the charts.  Why?  Because he has something to prove.  He is trying to stick in the majors, make a good impression and someday, get his payday.

Look around this team.  Are there guys who look a bit less focused than others?  You know how they say hitting is contagious?  Well, so is complacency.

I would say a number of changes are coming this team’s way in the very near future.  They have already sent reliever Joe Savery back to the minors.  Michael Schwimer went as well.  Here is what I think they should do:  If someone is not doing their job, like the entire bullpen, for instance, then bring in someone who will get it done or at least give you a complete effort.

I do not care if they stock this team full of rookies.  Because if they are going to suck, I’d rather see players out there who are giving it 100% and living up to their potential.  This team has spent way too much money on talented players to be this bad.  They need a shake up…fast.

Thursday is an off-day, which many of the players will spend at a Chase Utley charity event this evening.  But on Friday, the Padres come to town and they need to be ready.  Cross your fingers…

 

 

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Player photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Help Wanted for Troubled Phillies

Watching the Phillies play these days is about as much fun as getting a root canal, and just as painful.  Sunday’s 2nd consecutive loss to the Padres was probably the ugliest game of the year so far with 3 Phillies errors and 2 more horrible plays that were not “official” errors.

Combine that with a lousy 8 hits and 1 run scored and the 6-1 defeat was basically a massacre.  I would call it a Comedy of Errors, but in truth, none of this is very funny.

I had a pretty good sense of humor about through the first 15 games.  But this 16th game has just about put me over the edge.  Sure, it is still early.  But the Phillies are perfectly well capable of burying themselves so far in the standings by the end of April that they may not recover.

The offense is so bad right now, it is difficult to see a way out of this disaster.  If I were the GM, I may actually consider pulling random strangers off the street to see if they can follow simple directions and swing at actual strikes.  Put a “Help Wanted” add in the paper.  I’ll be the first one in line.  I may take my cat with me too…surely he can hit better than some of these guys.  And all he requires to do so is some tuna fish.

Seriously, I am sure the Phillies players are just as upset about their performance as we are.  I feel for them.  They don’t like root canals either.

But those guys that are suffering through this are the only ones who can turn it around.  So as much as we would love to will them to get better or find a magic pill to feed them, there is no quick fix.  And we cannot place blame on any one or two individuals.  This is a catastrophe that everyone has had a hand in, from the GM all the way down to the bat boy.  Ok, maybe not the bat boy, but you get my point.

The good news is, this is not something they cannot still recover from.  But if they bomb again in the next 3 games against the Diamondbacks, this team will be in for a not-so-friendly homecoming on Friday.

Game 1 with the D-Backs starts at 9:40pm tonight with Kyle Kendrick pitching in place of the injured Cliff Lee.

 

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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.

 

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Manuel Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

The Vanimal Returns

After a shaky start to the season, Phillies pitcher Vance Worley was trying to locate his inner animal last night against the Padres.  In 7 innings of shut-out ball, the Vanimal has indeed returned.

The 11 strikeouts Worley recorded were a career high and left many Padres shaking their heads.  Worley did walk 3 batters, but only allowed 4 hits, fewer than Cliff Lee allowed the night before.  If Worley can maintain this pace, it will be a huge boost for the team going forward.

And they could use a boost because the Phillies batters have still not found their inner animal.  Right now they are playing at the level of a timid lamb instead of a proud lion, like Worley.  This zoo needs a serious upgrade.

After getting only 4 hits against the Giants in the previous game, against the Padres, the Phils posted only 6 hits.  It looked like they may get going when they scored a run in the first on a Jimmy Rollins sac fly.  But then with a man on third and only one out, the Phillies could not add on.

They scored only 2 total bookend runs, one in the 1st and one in the 9th on a wild pitch.  Thanks to the pitching from Worley, Chad Qualls and Jonathan Papelbon, 2 runs wound up being enough for the win.

Game 2 with the Padres starts at 10pm tonight…TGIF!

 

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Pence Debuts & Howard Reaches Another Milestone in Win Over Pirates

The Phillies newest, shiny toy arrived at the ballpark today.  Right fielder Hunter Pence pumped his fists as he entered the tunnel under the stadium, looking excited to explore his new home.

The excitement is understandable; Pence just got traded from a team with 35 wins to a team with 66 wins and the best record in baseball.  The fans shared his exuberance as they cheered him during batting practice and gave Pence a standing ovation when he arrived in right field to start the game against the Pirates.  Pence waived to the fans cheerfully in appreciation.

Even his first at-bat was exciting; Pence ran out what should have been an infield hit but was called out by the umpire.  The replay showed he was clearly safe as fans watched manager Charlie Manuel argue with the ump in defense of his newest player.

It took Pence until the eighth inning to finally get a hit in the game.  Regardless, he had to be relieved with the RBI-single he finally put in the books.  Now that his first Phillies hit is on record, it should be business as usual for Pence.

As for Ryan Howard, the business was not so usual, but certainly good.  Having Pence in the five-hole behind him had to be a welcome sight.  Hitting without any real protection all year, Howard finally has a solid hitter to back him up.  Taking full advantage, Howard went just a triple short of the cycle and had three RBI on four hits.

 

Most notably, Howard’s second hit of the game, an RBI-single in the fourth inning, was his 1,000th career hit.  Congratulations to Ryan!

As for the pitching, Cliff Lee started the game hoping he could bounce back from an awful outing on Monday against the Padres.  In that game, Lee lasted only four innings after allowing five runs.

Tonight, Lee did well through seven innings where he gave up only two runs.  But Lee was left in the game too long and he ran into trouble in the eighth.  The hits kept coming for the Pirates and two more runs crossed the plate, bringing the Bucos closer to a comeback with a 6-4 score.

Reliever Antonio Bastardo was brought in with two runners on base and two outs.  In his usual form, Bastardo shut down the Pirates by striking out Pedro Alvarez to end the inning.

The run added by Pence in the eighth gave the Phillies a little more cushion with a 7-4 lead.  That was plenty for Ryan Madson who closed out the game for another Phillies victory.

Game three with the Pirates is Sunday at 1:35pm; Vance Worley will pitch.  In Worley’s last start, he pitched a complete game against the Giants.  It will be interesting to see how he responds after tossing 114 pitches in that start.

Check back Sunday night for game photos…see you there!

Roster Move Update:

Domonic Brown and Andrew Carpenter were sent to Triple-A to make room for Pence and Placido Polanco, who came off the DL today.  Brown will begin to work at left field, which is where the Phillies project he will be next season.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Lee Pulled Early In Tough Loss Against the Padres

Monday afternoon’s Phillies – Padres match-up brought about a disappointing end to a five-game Phils win-streak.  A very un-Lee like performance from pitcher Cliff Lee put the Phillies into an early hole from which they could not escape.

Pulled for a pinch hitter after only four innings, Lee had allowed five runs on 10 hits as the Padres pounded him.  Not only did Lee not have his good stuff on the mound, he looked slightly disoriented as well.  In the second inning, he lackadaisically lobbed a ball to first base, allowing a runner at third to steal home.

While Lee did not have his head screwed on quite right today, the offense tried to battle back for him.  But mistakes held them back.  After a Shane Victorino double in the first that scored one run, Ryan Howard was sent home to try for two.  But going first to home with a slow runner like Howard is usually a very bad idea.  Howard was out at home to end the inning.

Victorino had three hits on the day and Raul Ibanez had two with an RBI.  But the Phillies squandered many opportunities, like when John Mayberry Jr. singled to start the bottom of the seventh.  Jimmy Rollins bounced into a fielder’s choice and then got picked off stealing second.  Michael Martinez then flied out to end the inning.

The real bummer with this loss is that it ended a nice win-streak and good momentum for the Phillies right as the World Champion Giants come to town.  This will be a tough 3-game stretch for the Phils who do not have their top two aces in line to pitch.

Tomorrow, the rookie Vance Worley will have to compete with Giants ace and 2-time Cy Young winner, Tim Lincecum.  It could go either way, but if the Phillies cannot offer Worley some run support, it will be a long night.

Game time is 7:05pm; I will return with photos :O)

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Halladay Beats The Heat & The Padres

After his last start was shortened due to heat exhaustion, Roy Halladay looked determined to go deep into today’s game against the Padres.  And this game was not much cooler than his last; game time temperature was 94 degrees with a heat index around 105.  But after giving up one run in the first inning, Halladay settled in and looked pretty good.

Then things got a bit hairy in the fourth inning when a fielding error by Ryan Howard gave the Padres two base runners with only one out.  The Padres scored twice in the inning.  But after that, Halladay allowed only one more hit all the way through the eighth inning.  He was visibly more relaxed as witnessed by the photo below where he joked around with an umpire while standing at second base.

 

The Phillies got Halladay runs early, scoring twice in the first and three times in the third inning.  Howard made up for his fielding error with two hits in the game and he also scored twice.

 

Raul Ibanez also seemed more lively today; he drove in two runs on two hits and played well in the outfield.

 

Later,  in the seventh inning, Ibanez hit what should have been a two-run homer.  Instead, back-up center fielder Chris Denorfia robbed Ibanez, leaping up and making the grab as the ball started to fly over the fence.  It was such an impressive catch that even some Phillies fans  gave Denorfia a round of applause.  Denorfia was in the game only because Cameron Maybin was pulled after an injury in the fourth inning.

There was very little offense after the Phillies scored in the third.  Luckily, five runs were enough.  Chase Utley was clearly frustrated after he flied out in the sixth and ended the day without a hit.  If only he had glanced over at Michael Martinez on base later in the game, it may have cheered him up a bit.  What is up with this kids hair anyway?

 

So the Phillies are on a roll now with five straight wins and another series win.  The final of four games with the Padres is tomorrow at 1:05pm and the Phillies have a chance to sweep with Cliff Lee on the mound.  They have won 10 straight games against the Padres, dating back to the 2010 season.  Gotta love San Diego ;o)

Here is the full Photo Album from the game which includes some pre-game shots of some members of the Italian World Cup Soccer Team exchanging jerseys with Ryan Howard.  Ladies, the first two guys (left to right) are mighty fine.  Italian guy #3 – not so much.  But do enjoy the 1st two ;o)

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

See-Saw Battle Ends in Phillies Win

This team is never dull, although sometimes, I wish they were.  The Phillies see-saw battle with the Padres today was a real tummy-turner with lots of ups and downs.

UPChase Utley smashed a 3-run homer in the first inning.  The Phillies held onto the 3-run lead through 5-innings as Kyle Kendrick looked pretty good on the mound.  But as with all good things, they must soon end…

DOWN – Kendrick lost his mojo in the 6th inning, giving up two home runs for three RBI total.  With the game tied 3-3, Michael Stutes took over on the mound for the next four outs.  Despite getting into trouble in the 7th, it looked like Stutes was about to get out of the mess when a Cameron Maybin single put the Padres ahead, 4-3.

UP – As the Phillies bats had laid dormant for five straight innings, a comeback seemed like a remote possibility.  Enter, Ryan Howard.  Given the day off to try and work on his hitting, Howard was called upon to pinch hit in the bottom of the 7th.  It took just one pitch and Howard homered to re-tie the game, 4-4.

 

The homer was followed by a pinch hit double from Ross Gload and a Jimmy Rollins walk.  Then the improbable happened again; rookie Michael Martinez hit his second career homer to add on three more runs.  Utley homered again later the same inning to make it an 8-4 Phillies lead.

DOWN –  Antonio Bastardo had his first really bad day of the year as he loaded the bases with two outs in the 8th inning.  Then things got really wild as Bastardo literally began throwing the ball anywhere but over the plate.  After two straight wild pitches, the Padres finally scored again.

In another improbable and frankly, unbelievable move, the Phillies sent David Herndon to the mound to clean up the mess.  Herndon has been less than reliable all year so this was a shocker.  Not shocking was watching Herndon walk a run home.  But he did manage to escape the inning with the Phillies still leading, 8-6.

UPRyan Madson closed the game out in the 9th where he allowed one hit, but struck out two batters for the save.  And despite allowing a run, Stutes got the win.

UP x2 – The Phillies have won four straight and go for five tomorrow with Roy Halladay on the mound.  The Braves lost today, extending the Phillies lead to five game in the NL East.

Game time on Sunday is 1:35pm; I will return with photos.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Hamels Returns to Dominance on 80’s Retro Night

After a horrible start in New York where he gave up seven runs in 4.1 inning, Cole Hamels needed a bounce-back game.  And there was no better time to bounce-back than in a throw-back, 1980’s retro night game.

Wearing the maroon pinstripe uniform from 1984, Hamels found his old-self against the Padres.  Through eight innings, Hamels gave up only one run on three hits while striking out 10 batters.  It was 120 degrees on the field at game time, but the Padres biggest issue was the heat on Hamels’ fastball, not the heat on the field.

Some of the 1980’s player intro’s also added to game intensity:

 

Chase Utley was hot on the scoreboard and hot at the plate with two hits tonight.  Carlos Ruiz and John Mayberry Jr. added an RBI-double each which, along with one unearned run, was plenty for Hamels to work with.

To close the game, Ryan Madson came out in the 9th for his first save attempt since returning from the DL.  He sent the Padres down in order to record the 3-1 victory.  It was Madson’s 16th save and Hamels’ team-leading 12th win of the year.

Earlier today, the Phillies activated pitcher Brad Lidge from the DL; he is expected to be broken in slowly in non-crucial situations until he gets settled in after missing the entire first half.  A roster move had to be made and that wound up being Danys Baez.  If Baez is not picked up by another team, he will likely play for Triple-A.

Many fans celebrated the move, as Baez has been inconsistent and mostly ineffective both this year and last.  His 6.25 ERA over 36 innings was not helping his case.

But while this was clearly the best business decision for the team, Baez was well-liked in the clubhouse and is an all-around nice guy.  He is the only player I have never seen ignore a fan or refuse an autograph.  Baez had a smile and for everyone, despite what must have been a really tough year for him.  In that respect, it is a bit sad.

Charlie Manuel also had a difficult time with the decision as he has know Baez for a long time.  He said in an interview on SportsNite that Baez came to his office a week ago to talk about his situation and Baez all but offered himself up.  He told Charlie he would understand if he needed to make a move for the betterment of the ballclub.  So while his pitching was not great, I am impressed with the way he has handled himself and wish him all the best.

 

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Photos from Comcast SportsNet Broadcast

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

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