Results tagged ‘ Rays ’

Phillies Sweep for Christmas in July

Instead of coal in their stockings, the Phillies received a 3-game sweep of the Marlins for their Christmas in July celebration today.  Considering they started the second half of the season as the worst team in baseball, this is nothing short of a miracle.  Please wake me if I am dreaming…

It looked like a sure win today early on as the Phils exploded for 5 runs in the second inning.  There was a lot of staring at home runs (Ryan Howard and Freddy Galvis) and celebrating.  Even Cole Hamels had a hit in the inning.
071915 offenseBut the warm fuzzies wore off quickly as Hamels bombed in the 3rd inning.  The fielders were awfully busy while Hamels struggled to get by. 071915 fielding

Ultimately, Hamels took the 3-run lead the Phillies spotted him and handed those runs right back to the Marlins.  By the end of the inning, Hamels had 76 pitches and would not return to the game.
071915 HamelsIn his defense, it was hotter than hell today.  The temperature was 93 degrees at game time and got hotter as the game went on.  It even looked for a minute like we may lose the home plate umpire, who needed assistance getting cool. 071915 umps

So it would take 5 bullpen arms to finish the game after Hamels’ early exit.  Both Elvis Araujo and Luis Garcia pitched perfect innings.
071915 pen

But then Ken Giles blew a save in the 8th inning, where the Marlins took a 7-6 lead.  Giles was all over the place which sent many of the few fans in attendance streaming towards the exits, myself included.  I was melting by then and not sure if I’d make it to the car if I stayed much longer anyway.

But luckily for the Phillies, Jeff Francour decided to play Santa Claus today and unwrap a 2-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the 9th inning to give the Phillies an 8-7 win.  I enjoyed the hit from the comfort of my air-conditioned car, which made finding the energy to celebrate a bit easier ;)

The Phillies take on the Rays tomorrow.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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

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How the Phillies Spell Relief: P-I-R-A-T-E-S

After a dreadful Sunday during which the Phillies lost two games to the Rays in spectacularly bad fashion, this team needed a break.  And that break came in the form of the Pittsburgh Pirates.  How do you spell relief?  P-I-R-A-T-E-S!

The 8-3 win was a welcome sight, even if it did come at the expense of what appeared to be a little league team.  Thankfully though, the Bucos took the pounding like men and no tears were shed.

The first inning set the tone as the Pirates fielders tossed the baseball all over the place, as if they were blindfolded at a child’s birthday party while trying to whack a piñata.  The ball bounced all around, smacking dirt, bases and the infield walls.  Still, no candy prizes fell from the sky.  Instead, the Pirates were given 3 errors in the inning, which lead to a 4-0 lead for the Phillies.

The party continued for the Phillies offense, which exploded for 4 more runs.  Jimmy Rollins nailed a home run to right that nearly made it to the second deck of seats.  Carlos Ruiz continued his All-Star campaign, going 3-for-5 and 3 other Phils had a multi-hit night.  This was apparently the precursor to the post-game fireworks that were planned.

On the downside, the Phillies are still struggling with runners in scoring position.  They loaded the bases with no outs in the 7th and only managed one run, which resulted from a walk to Ty Wigginton.  The next 3 batters all struck out.

Starting the game, Joe Blanton pitched pretty well.  He went 7 innings, allowing 3 runs, 2 of which were earned.  But still, in the 8th inning, after the offense failed to add on in the 7th, you could feel the doubt in the air as the bullpen took over.  Could a 5 run lead really not be sufficient here?

It was enough on this day.  But in the past, that has very often not been the case for this team.  And this fact still leaves Phillies fans anxious about what might happen in a similar situation the next time.

The Pirates are a bad team that the Phillies should really beat up on over the next 3 games.  If they can manage to do that, there may be hope for this team yet.

Speaking of hope, it looks like Chase Utley should be back with the team on Wednesday.  He is playing for Triple-A Lehigh Valley tonight.  I will temper my enthusiasm until I see it for myself…

In the meantime, game 2 with the Pirates begins tonight at 7:05pm.

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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.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Thome Sets Another Record in Phillies Walk-Off Win

In their 1st visit back to Philadelphia since losing the 2008 World Series, the Tampa Bay Rays once again brought the rain with them.  Friday night’s Phillies – Rays game was rained out and will be played as part of a doubleheader on Sunday.  The originally scheduled 1:35pm game will start instead at 1:05pm and the make-up game will begin at 6:35pm.

For today’s game, Kyle Kendrick started as originally planned, with Cliff Lee being pushed back to Sunday.  After Lee had fully warmed up Friday night, they did not want to take any chances by having him go today.

Kendrick did not have a great day, getting speeches while on the mound from teammates Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins and then pitching coach Rich Dubee.  It seemed like a lot of work just to get Kendrick through what turned out to be only 4 innings.  He walked 3 and allowed 3 runs.

But the offense gave the pitching a boost with big home runs from Rollins and Juan Pierre.  For Pierre, it was his first homer since August of last year and his first 3-run homer since 2004.  Pierre is not typically a long-ball hitter and as a result, there were huge smiles all around the Phillies bench when he hit that one.  Pierre got to play Superman, if only for just one day.

For the bullpen, Raul Valdes did a commendable job picking up the slack for Kendrick.  Fresh back from the minors, Valdes pitched 2 very solid innings.  Antonio Bastardo had a little trouble in the 8th where he loaded the bases but did pitch out of it after allowing only one run.

The 6-4 lead carried the Phillies into the 9th with a save opportunity for Jonathan Papelbon.  It was not exactly smooth sailing.  In fact, he blew his first save of season, giving up 2 runs and really putting the Phillies in a very bad position with a doubleheader scheduled the next day.  This could not have been worse timing, except…

In the bottom of the 9th, a future Hall of Famer was lying in wait to bail Papelbon out.  Jim Thome stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 9th and absolutely crushed a ball to deep left field.  And just like that, BOOM!  The Phillies won it in walk-off style.

It was Thome’s 13th career walk-off homer, which is a major league record.  He is also the all-time leader in Interleague play home runs.  And Thome is now tied with Sammy Sosa for 7th place in career homers with 609.

On Sunday, Cole Hamels will pitch the first game and Lee will pitch the second one.  I will be at both games and shall return with photos.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Dear Phillies, Please Stop Toying With Our Emotions

After two big wins over the Rockies on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Phillies failed to sweep the series with a loss on Thursday.  And the Rockies are a team they very well should have swept.

The first two victories gave fans hope that this struggling team might finally be getting their act together.  They played well and showed a winning attitude.  But last night’s disaster saw those hopes dashed and frustration set it once again.

It is not that they lost the game.  This is baseball; losses happen.  The issue is how they lost the game.

Let us begin by looking at the opposing pitcher, Jeff Francis.  This guy had a minor league deal with the Reds this year, who finally released him.  The Rockies picked him up and Francis had a 12.46 ERA in 2 starts for them coming into this game.  This is a guy that the Phillies should have absolutely pounded.

Instead, they left 7 men on base and went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.  Worse than that, the Phillies continue to fail to score runners from 3rd with less than 2 outs.  In the 2nd inning, Jimmy Rollins, who homered to start the game, popped out with 1 out and a man on third.  J-Roll had 2 pop-outs and a ground ball double play to go with his solo homer in this game.

Then in the 8th, the Phillies squandered a lead-off double by Ty WiggintonHunter Pence struck out swinging at a crap pitch…again.  Carlos Ruiz flied out and Shane Victorino popped out to end the inning.  Both Pence and Victorino walked back to the dugout to a chorus of boo’s from the frustrated fans who are tired of watching the same mistakes over and over and over…

As for the pitching, Vance Worley and his bone-chip plagued elbow were a bit shaky.  But he kept the team in the game and walked off the mound to a 2-1 score with the Phillies trailing.  Still, he did all he could.

But the bullpen failed once again.  Chad Qualls had a bad inning but escaped without allowing a run thanks to a good defensive play by Ruiz at home plate.  Still, Qualls heard the boo’s too as his season has been much worse than you would expect from a veteran bullpen guy.

The problem there is that the rest of the pen is mostly rookies who are clearly not ready for the bigs.  Between Jake Diekman and Michael Schwimer, the Rockies padded their lead to a 4-1 score.

Down by 3 runs in the 9th, there would be no comeback on this day as the Phillies went down in order.  Yes, right back to the old 2012 ways we have become so accustomed to this season.

A 3-game series with the Rays begins tonight and fans can only pray for a miracle.  Cliff Lee will try, once again, to get his first win of the season.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

No ROY, No Cy, No Surprise

As I had predicted, none of the Phillies got any of the top awards this off-season, but many came close.  The Cy Young voting was at least interesting; 3 Phillies made the top 5 in voting with Roy Halladay coming in 2nd, Cliff Lee 3rd and Cole Hamels 5th.  Not surprisingly, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw took home the award.

Kershaw was very deserving, although Halladay was a close runner-up.  But having 3 Phillies in the top 5 is also quite an impressive feat.

Another Phillies pitcher came close to taking home some hardware as well.  Vance Worley landed in 3rd place for Rookie of the Year behind two Braves, closer Craig Kimbrel and first baseman Freddie Freeman.  I thought Freeman would be the winner, but 2nd place is not too shabby.

And of course, neither is 3rd place.  Worley should be proud that on a staff with 4 ace starters, he not only held his own, he also got plenty of attention for a spectacular rookie season.

Manue and umplAlso as I predicted, Charlie Manuel was overlooked for Manager of the Year…again.  Yes, despite a Major League leading 102 wins, 5 straight division titles and a World Series, Manuel came in 4th place.  The D-Backs skipper, Kirk Gibson, took first place.

Even crazier, Joe Maddon of the Rays won for the American league, making it TWO Manager of the Year awards in 4 years.  Don’t get me wrong, I like Maddon.  He is actually from the Philly area.  And certainly, he deserves the honor.  But it does seem like a real shame that Manuel cannot get any respect in the National League like Maddon does in the AL.  Manuel beat Maddon in the 2008 World Series and has accomplished more overall.

But as is usually the case, Manuel just keeps getting shunned.

In other news, Brian Schneider will be the back-up back-stop once again in 2012.  The one-year deal is worth $800,000.  There is still no word on a deal for Jimmy Rollins.  Stay tuned…

 

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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*

Phillies Make History With 102 Wins

The Phillies ended the 2011 regular season with 102 wins after a 13 inning  4-3 victory over the Braves.  The 3-game sweep knocked the Braves out of the playoffs and also set a new record for the Phillies.  The franchise mark of 101 wins in a season has been surpassed, making this 2011 team statistically the best in Phillies history.

It also made Charlie Manuel the best manager in Phillies history.  His 646th win with the team surpassed the previous record of 656 held by Gene Mauch.

And as usual, the Phillies fought for their manager until the very end.  The game lasted 4 1/2 hours and 13 innings with 17 total pitchers used between the two teams.  The pitching was very good all around for both and hits were hard to come by; 11 for the Phils and 10 for the Braves.

In the 13th, Hunter Pence finally broke up the stalemate, knocking in the winning run with an RBI-single.  He had two hits in the game, as did Chase Utley, Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard.

By beating the Braves, the Phillies basically chose their own opponent.  The win handed the Wild Card spot to the Cardinals.  The Phillies struggled against the Cards in the regular season, winning only 3 games out of 9.  But coming off the momentum of this 3-game sweep and making Phillies history, the team should be ready to face the Cards again.

In the American League, the Red Sox are out, having lost what was previously and 8.5 game lead in the Wild Card race.  As they crashed and burned against the lowly Orioles again, the Tampa Bay Rays climbed out of a 7-0 hole to beat the Yankees and take the Wild Card spot.

So here is how the NLDS and ALDS line-up:

  • Phillies vs. Cardinals
  • Brewers vs. Diamondbacks
  • Yankees vs. Tigers
  • Rangers vs. Rays

The first game for the Phillies is this Saturday; no time has been announced yet.

 

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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*

Kendrick VS. Worley, Amaro’s Contract & Utley’s Knee

The Phillies played two games today in split squad action.  Kyle Kendrick started against the Rays in Clearwater and Vance Worley took the mound against the Pirates in Bradenton.

Worley did well and allowed just one run over 3.1 innings on two hits and two walks while striking out five batters. 
Thumbnail image for KendrickKK.jpg
Kendrick, on the other hand, looked good for two innings but was then slammed with three homers from lefties in his final two innings.  The five runs Kendrick surrendered contributed to a 6-2 Phillies loss.

While it is only spring training, the question of whether or not Kendrick can get left-handed batters out still remains.  In four seasons with the Phillies, Kendrick has been consistently inconsistent.  The issues with lefties, a sinker ball that does not always sink and Kendrick’s tendency to become frustrated on the mound are concerning.

With all the experience he had gained over the years, the time for Kendrick to get it together into one complete package may be now or never.

Worley, 23, is younger and has less experience.  But in the long run, he may turn out to be the better pitcher between the two.  In 13 innings with the big club last year, Worley posted a 1.38 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP.  His minor league lifetime WHIP is 1.280.

In addition, Worley has a variety of pitches including both a two-seam and four-seam fastball, slider, curve and cut fastball.

It is possible that Worley will have outpitched Kendrick by the end of spring.  If so, do the Phillies go with Worley or stick with experience in Kendrick?

There is a different possibility as well.  If another bullpen pitcher bombs, like Danys Baez for example, there could be room for both players.  This also gives the Phillies additional options in the case that a starting pitcher gets injured.  Although, having two long-men in the bullpen seems unlikely as Worley could easily be recalled from the minors if needed.

With only a few weeks left this spring, both pitchers will need to bring their A-games.

Amaro’s Contract Extension

Earlier today, Ruben Amaro Jr. signed a four-year contract extension with the Phillies.  Amaro has been with the Phillies organization for a very long time and it appears that will not end anytime soon.

Amaro played for the Phillies from 1992 to 1993 and again from 1996 to 1998.  Right after that, he moved to the Phillies front office, serving as Assistant GM until being promoted to GM at the end of the 2008 season.  Amaro grew up in Philadelphia and his father, Ruben Amaro Sr., also played for the Phillies for six seasons.

Chase Utley’s Knee

The Phillies have issued a statement that Chase Utley has made “a small improvement” in his rehab after suffering patellar tendinitis, chondromalacia and bone inflammation this spring.

The news is underwhelming.

However, a newspaper cartoonist had another take on the subject:

 

Utley cartoon 007.jpg

It seems he feels like Utley is comparable to Humpty Dumpty.  Quick, get the Super Glue!

 

Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Cartoon from The Dover Post

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

 

Brown To Have Surgery On Broken Hand

While hitting a foul ball in Saturday’s spring training game against the Pirates, Domonic Brown fractured the hamate bone in his right hand.  Oddly enough, his very next swing after breaking the bone resulted in his only hit in spring action through 16 at-bats.


Hamate Bone.jpgSeveral baseball players have had this very same bone removed in the past.  Some of those include former Phillie, Jim Thome and Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia.  Apparently, the hand is just fine without this bone, although recovery from the surgery could take four to six weeks.

This may be a blessing in disguise for Brown who was struggling badly to adjust his swing and make the Phillies roster before the end of camp.  Time off to reflect on his issues may be a good thing.

In the meantime, the job in right almost certainly will go to Ben Francisco, although the Phillies will not dub anyone the winner just yet.

Thus far, the injury bug has bitten twice for the Phillies in spring training; first Chase Utley and his bum knee, then Brown.  Utley is still recovering from a cortisone injection and it will be several more days before any more is known about his knee.

On the bright side, the Phillies pitching staff looks fantastic!  Cliff Lee appeared to be almost in mid-season form against the Rays today over four innings.  And on Saturday Roy Halladay threw three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.

In the bullpen, JC Romero pitched today and looked very, very sharp.  After going 3-0 on the first batter, he came back to strike the guy out and then mowed down the next two batters in order.

Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras also seem to be moving along well.  Neither has surrendered a run yet.

Other roster hopefuls are not having much success though.  Eddie Bonine has allowed seven runs in four innings of work.  J.C. Ramirez has allowed four runs in five innings.  However, most of these guys were not expected to make the team anyway.

Spring action continues tomorrow when the Phillies see the Yankees again.  Game time is 1:05pm.

 

Illustration by Wikipedia

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

 

Division Series Schedule

As you may know already, the Phillies will be playing the Reds in the NLDS.  The Phillies won 5 out of 7 games against the Reds this year in the regular season; 3 of those in July all went to extra innings and ended in spectacular walk-off fashion for the Phillies.  So while the Phils have a slight edge, it is sure to be a well played series.

With the 8 playoff teams finally decided, TBS and MLB announced some of the start times for both the AL and NL Division series.  Here is the schedule so far:

Series

Teams

Day/Date

Time ET

ALDS Game 1

Rangers @ Rays

Wed. Oct. 6

1:30 p.m.

NLDS Game 1

Reds @ Phillies

Wed. Oct. 6

5 p.m.

ALDS Game 1

Yankees @ Twins

Wed. Oct. 6

8:30 p.m.

ALDS Game 2

Rangers @ Rays

Thurs. Oct. 7

2:30 p.m.

ALDS Game 2

Yankees @ Twins

Thurs. Oct. 7

6 p.m.

NLDS Game 1

Braves @ Giants

Thurs. Oct. 7

9:30 p.m.

NLDS Game 2

Reds @ Phillies

Fri. Oct. 8

6 p.m.

NLDS Game 2

Braves @ Giants

Fri. Oct. 8

9:30 p.m.

ALDS Game 3

Rays @ Rangers

Sat. Oct. 9

5 p.m.

ALDS Game 3

Twins @ Yankees

Sat. Oct. 9

8:30 p.m.

NLDS Game 3

Phillies @ Reds

Sun. Oct. 10

TBD

NLDS Game 3

Giants @ Braves

Sun. Oct. 10

TBD

*ALDS Game 4

Rays @ Rangers

Sun. Oct. 10

TBD

*ALDS Game 4

Twins @ Yankees

Sun. Oct. 10

TBD

*NLDS Game 4

Phillies @ Reds

Mon. Oct. 11

TBD

*NLDS Game 4

Giants @ Braves

Mon. Oct. 11

TBD

*ALDS Game 5

Rangers @ Rays

Tues. Oct. 12

TBD

*ALDS Game 5

Yankees @ Twins

Tues. Oct. 12

TBD

*NLDS Game 5

Reds @ Phillies

Wed. Oct. 13

TBD

*NLDS Game 5

Braves @ Giants

Wed. Oct. 13

TBD

 

As I expected, the Phillies, despite have the BEST record in baseball, still got screwed out of the Prime Time slot in favor of the Yankees…again.  So for the 3rd year in a row, I will have to take a day off work to go to get to the stadium in time to find parking and see the pre-game festivities.

Now I realize there are 22 other teams out there whose fans would love to have this problem so it is hard to complain.  But when is a team, other than the Yankees, going to get some much deserved respect?  The Phillies have certainly earned it.   

To the TV people it is all about ratings, and I suppose it is their prerogative.  But guess which team brings in more fans based on stadium capacity?  The Phillies – 103.5%.  It is over 100% due to standing room only tickets that are sold to accommodate more fans.  The Phillies sold out EVERY game this season.  Where do the Yankees rank?  They are 7th in baseball with 88.9%.  If the Phillies had a bigger stadium like the Yankees do, they would no doubt have sold all those seats as well.  Just sayin’…

Not to mention that the TBS coverage of the games, in general, is horrible.  The announcers have NO clue about the teams they are watching and tend to be biased towards particular teams.  The coverage has been historically so bad that there is even a section on Wikipedia dedicated to how bad they suck.  The TBS slogan is “very funny” but we are not laughing.

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