Results tagged ‘ Red Sox ’
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
The Phillies had a chance to sweep the Red Sox today in this 3-game series, but once Cole Hamels was pulled early, that opportunity passed by. In the fourth inning, a line-drive from Adrian Gonzalez knocked the glove off Hamels’ non-pitching hand. He exited the game to receive treatment.
The injury is being called a bruise but it is unclear if Hamels will make his next start. It will depend on whether or not he can grip his glove and bat.
So the game was handed over to a very young, inexperienced bullpen. David Herndon allowed three runs over two innings. Then Drew Carpenter gave up two more.
But the bullpen’s performance really made little difference as the Phillies mustered only four hits in the game and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The only scoring was a 2-run bomb from Ryan Howard in the ninth inning.
The lack of offense is gruesome as usual. And with pitchers dropping like flies, the Phillies may have to lean on their bats in the near future. So, someone better figure out where they hid those bats…fast.
This weekend, the Phillies face the Blue Jays for three games and I am here in Toronto to bring you all the torrid details. Kyle Kendrick pitches tomorrow but Saturday is a big one. It will be the first time Roy Halladay pitches against his old team in Toronto.
The people of Toronto are so excited to see Roy Halladay again, the local TV station is even running a promo about it detailing Halladay’s time in Toronto and how much he meant to the city. The ad encourages fans to come to the game and cheer for Halladay to welcome him back. It is a real class move by Toronto. However, I assume the cheering will stop once Halladay starts mowing down Jays.
Tomorrow is also Canada Day here, which celebrates the country’s independence from the United Kingdom. I find it odd, however, that their currency still bears the Queen’s image on their $20 bill. I would tell you who is on the $100 dollar bill, but sadly, I don’t have any of those ;o)
But I digress…anyway, check back for updates on the games and, of course, photos! Speaking of which, here is one I took of Niagara Falls before I headed over to Toronto:
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
The rookie Vance Worley faced a difficult task this evening against the Red Sox. Not only was he pitching against a great offense, Worley also had to follow an amazing performance from Cliff Lee the night before. Not to mention, Worley is a young, inexperienced pitcher who had yet to go more than six innings in a major league game.
Worley got the job done. He even pitched a full seven innings for the first time in the majors. The only run Worley allowed was knocked in by the opposing pitcher, John Lackey, who surprised everyone with an RBI-double.
But Worley maintained his composure throughout the game. His final line included only five hits, two walks and one run.
The offense did little to help Worley out, scoring only one run through the sixth inning on a Raul Ibanez RBI-single. With the score tied 1-1 in the seventh, Ibanez finally gave the Phillies the lead with a solo homer. This also put Worley in line for the win.
It would be up to a very young bullpen after that to hold down the slim lead. Fans got a sneak peak at what the near future holds for a pen with three closers on the DL. Michael Stutes served as the set-up man in the eighth inning and sent the Sox down in order.
After the Phillies were again unable to score in the eighth, Antonio Bastardo stepped onto the mound in the ninth as closer #4 on the year for the Phillies. He quickly disposed of the Sox batters to earn the save and award Worley with a win.
The Phillies have taken the first two games of this series, which is very good news. They play the final game tomorrow afternoon at 1:05pm with Cole Hamels on the mound.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Cliff Lee must be wishing that the month of June would never end. Because he has been insanely good in each of his five starts this month.
Today’s 5-0 win over the Red Sox marked Lee’s 32nd consecutive scoreless inning pitched. With only two hits allowed, this game was Lee’s third consecutive complete game shut-out. The last Phillie to accomplish that feat was Robin Roberts in 1950.
For the month, Lee went 5-0 and had only one run allowed in 42 innings. The man is simply amazing.
But Lee did not just pitch well, he also collected an RBI with a sac fly. And while Lee dealt on the mound and at the plate, the Phillies offense pounded Josh Beckett. A pair of two run homers, one from Domonic Brown and the other from Shane Victorino, highlighted the scoring. Brown also had a double on the night.
With this victory, the Phillies became the first team in the majors to reach 50 wins this season.
Vance Worley will pitch tomorrow. And after Lee’s performance tonight, he has very big shoes to fill. Game time is 7:05pm.
The Phillies placed closer Ryan Madson on the DL before today’s game. After getting whacked in the hand with hit ball back in May, Madson has had issues off and on and finally needed a cortisone shot to reduce the chronic swelling.
This means that the Phillies are now on their fourth closer of the season, which will likely be Antonio Bastardo. Each of the first three closers, Brad Lidge, Jose Contreras and Madson, are all on the DL now. Drew Carpenter was brought up from Triple-A to fill the roster spot.
Of the seven pitchers left in the bullpen, only two have not been in the minors this year and only Danys Baez has more than 71 innings pitched in the majors. Scary.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Before Sunday’s Phillies – Athletics match-up, the Phillies honored former major leaguer Bobby Shantz. The 1952 American League MVP played for the Philadelphia A’s from 1949-1954 and for the Phillies in 1964. He was joined on the field by Connie Mack’s 97-year-old daughter Ruth Mack Clark:
Once the game began, Roy Halladay was on point as usual. He went the distance yet again, saving a depleted Phillies bullpen. After nine innings, eight hits, one run and no walks, Halladay finally earned his 10th win of the year.
The offense was not spectacular again, but they got the job done. Jimmy Rollins led the way, going 4-for-4 and scoring twice. Shane Victorino and Ben Francisco each sent J-Roll home once. The third run scored with no outs in the first while Ryan Howard grounded into a double play. But he knocked in a run, so he is forgiven.
There were some odd plays on defense as well. The A’s struggled to hit Halladay and as a result, they managed a bunch of weak fly balls that landed in the middle of nowhere. Wilson Valdez had a real adventure at second base playing in place of Chase Utley for the day. A few balls hit in no-man’s land seemed catchable, but ultimately they eluded Valdez.
The Phillies collected a 3-1 win over the A’s and won the series by two games to one. They have a day off today before starting a 3-game series with the Red Sox on Tuesday.
Here is the full Photo Album from the game. Enjoy!
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
December 15th is a historical date. In 1794, the United States Bill of Rights became law. In 1933, the 21st Amendment went into effect, legalizing alcohol. Russians landed on Venus in 1970. And now, in the year 2010, Cliff Lee re-signed with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The signing will obviously not impact our society in such way as the Bill of Rights or the 21st Amendment once did. And it is doubtful that December 15th will be named a national holiday. However, this is still a historic occasion for the City of Philadelphia.
The following is a list of five ways in which the Cliff Lee deal has made a positive impact on the team, the city and the fans.
Four Aces Are Better Than Three
The entire Phillies team just got a whole lot better. Adding Cliff Lee to the already dominant rotation of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels has the potential to make the opposition weep like children.
All together, that makes 3 Cy Young awards, 13 All-Star appearances plus an NLCS and a World Series MVP title. Combining all four starter’s 2010 ERA’s comes out to an average ERA of 2.86. If they stay healthy, this rotation will be frightening.
Statistics aside, these are four very competitive pitchers who will push each other to do better. This type of healthy dynamic should inspire the entire team to work harder and expect more from themselves and their teammates.
Having solid starting pitching also takes a great deal of pressure off the offense. Players who can relax at the plate will be more productive. After a down year in 2010, this Phillies offense should be ready to explode.
The City of Philadelphia Finally Gets Some Respect
The City of Philadelphia and their sports fans constantly get a bad rap in the media. Focusing only on the negative, national press makes Philadelphia look like a war zone.
Yes, some horrible human being threw up on a little girl at a Phillies game. The Eagles snowballs and Santa disaster begs the question, will the media ever get over it? That was in 1968. It is officially time to let it go.
There are idiots everywhere, not just in Philly. Look at the Cubs fan who threw beer on Shane Victorino during a play in the outfield. Ask the family of the poor teenager who was killed after a San Francisco Giants game in 2008. But these are isolated incidents and by no means do they reflect the attitudes or actions of an entire fan base.
About Philadelphia fans, Cliff Lee told the press, “They get excited. They’re passionate fans. They understand what’s going on. They don’t need a teleprompter to tell them to get up and cheer, to do that.” Lee also stated, ” Yeah, you know, the feeling of playing on the field feels different than anywhere else. I don’t know how to explain it other than you can feel the volume that’s created by the fans and their intensity.”
Lee loves Philadelphia, the team and their fans so much that he took fewer contract years and less money to play here. Much to the dismay of the national media, Cliff Lee has finally given Philadelphia the respect it deserves.
Philadelphia Just Landed On Every Player’s Wish List
Along with the respect that Cliff Lee’s words and actions have delivered, this signing has also put the Phillies on the wish list of all major league players who are interested in winning.
The days of JD Drew, who was drafted by the Phillies in 1997 but refused to sign, are long gone. No more grumblings from the likes of Scott Rolen either, claiming the Phillies have no desire to win.
The Phillies were already on the minds of many players before the Cliff Lee signing. Roy Halladay made an exception to his no-trade clause last year to come to Philadelphia. Later in July of 2010, Roy Oswalt did the same.
But the Cliff Lee deal puts the Phillies in a whole new echelon. They are now able to compete with the likes of the Red Sox and Yankees. The Yankees lost out on Lee despite offering more money and additional years. So while the Yankees payroll still far outweighs the Phillies, in terms of status, they are now nearly equals.
Jayson Who? Losing Werth Is Not So Bad
There was a lot of groaning among Phillies fans when All-Star right fielder Jayson Werth signed a gigantic contract with the Washington Nationals. Fans having flashbacks to Werth’s monster home runs, a steal of home plate, his rocket arm nailing runners at the plate and the 2008 World Series win, were disappointed that the Phillies did not try harder to sign him.
The facts now show that had the Phillies re-signed Werth, Cliff Lee would not be on the team. They simply would not have had the money or resources to bring Lee back.
Pitching wins ballgames. The impact Lee will have on this Phillies team in the long run far outweighs anything that Werth may have delivered.
Werth went where the money was and no one can fault him for that. But that move further illuminates the magnitude of Lee’s decision to sign with the Phillies for less money. Lee will be appreciated by Phillies fans everywhere. Werth will simply fade away into a distant memory.
Ruben Amaro Jr. Is Now A Phillies Legend
A Philadelphia native, Ruben Amaro Jr. started out as a Phillies bat boy in 1980. His father, Ruben Amaro Sr., was the first base coach at that time. Prior to that, Amaro Sr. played short stop for the Phillies from 1960-1965. Amaro Jr. also played for the Phillies from 1992 to 1993 and 1996 to 1998 in the outfield. He became the Assistant GM right after his playing career ended. Currently the Phillies General Manager, this man has literally spent almost his entire adult life, and part of his teenage years, with the Phillies.
Many were unsure of how Amaro would fare in the GM spotlight, having taken over the job right after the 2008 World Series. Amaro was doing a pretty average job but did not score big until wrapping up Roy Halladay last offseason. Most were thrilled with the Halladay signing. However, the happiness quickly turned to shock when it was announced that Cliff Lee was traded in order to replenish the farm system.
The short half year that Lee spent with the Phillies in 2009 was enough to enamor him to the entire fan base. His easy-going and unwavering demeanor on the mound combined with his ability to mow down opposing batters made Lee a fan favorite. He was also the only Phillies pitcher to record a win in that year’s World Series, which they ultimately lost to the Yankees.
To say that trading Lee was a stunning blow to the fans is an understatement. Even months later and well into the 2010 season, people questioned the move. Some even went so far as to proclaim it the dumbest move Amaro would ever make.
And while those people may be correct, Amaro created an extreme reversal of fortune by re-signing Lee on December 15, 2010. The five-year, $120 million dollar dear with a sixth year option completely redeemed Amaro.
Amaro jumped though a number a very large hoops to make this deal happen. The biggest of those had to be convincing team ownership, who have been notoriously stingy in the past, to cough up the dough. This will be the highest payroll carried in Phillies team history.
Respect is not easy to come by in this business, but Amaro has now earned it. He is a formidable opponent in the eyes of other ball clubs and to his own staff and players, he is a true leader. More than that, Amaro has earned the trust of this organization. They know he wants to win both now and in the future.
The Cliff Lee deal has cemented Amaro’s place in Phillies history. All he is missing now is his very own World Series Championship.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
The five teams in the NL East, the Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Mets and Nationals, have all had busy off-seasons trying to improve their clubs. Some have been more successful than others. And some, like the Phillies and Mets, are moving very slowly through the free agent and trade possibilities.
Here is a countdown of the top 10 moves so far within the division and a breakdown of potential future moves for each team.
#10 - Three Relief Pitchers to the Marlins
In mid-November, the Red Sox swapped lefty relievers with the Marlins. Dustin Richardson went to the Marlins and Andrew Miller landed with the Red Sox. Miller, previously a highly-touted prospect, was a disappointment in Florida. He struggled with control and lacked consistency.
The addition of Richardson is a good move for the Marlins. At only 26-years of age, Richardson posted a 4.15 in 26 relief appearances in the bigs, although most of his time has been spent in the minors. This lefty has great potential. The Marlins hope they can mould him into a solid reliever.
The very next day, the Marlins also acquired two right-handers, Ryan Webb and Edward Mujica. The Marlins sent Cameron Maybin to the Padres in exchange. Webb has averaged a 3.19 ERA in two major league seasons while Mujica is going into his 6th season having posted a 3.62 ERA last year.
These three pitchers combined should make a major impact on the Marlins 2011 bullpen.
#9 – Dennys Reyes to the Phillies
The Phillies have agreed to terms with veteran left-hander, Dennys Reyes. The 33-year-old reliever posted a 3.55 ERA in 59 relief appearances last season for the St. Louis Cardinals. The Phillies chose not to re-sign JC Romero after Romero struggled with control and left elbow surgery last offseason seemed to alter his mechanics. Reyes will be counted on to take over for Romero.
The only other lefty who has had much success with the Phillies in the few past years is Antonio Bastardo. The Phillies will likely go into the 2011 season with these two left-handed relievers in the bullpen.
#8 – Javier Vazquez to the Marlins
Right-handed starter Javier Vazquez struggled last year with the Yankees, ending the season with a 10-10 record and a 5.32 ERA. However, Vazquez pitched for the Braves in 2009 and ended with a 2.87 ERA. A return to the NL East may be exactly what Vazquez needs to get back on track.
The Marlins also like the idea that Vazquez can eat innings for them, which is something they have been lacking. This 13-year veteran is sure to bring some stability to the Marlins rotation.
#7 – Eric Hinske re-signs with the Braves
The Braves liked Eric Hinske in left field last year, where he made only 1 error in 360 innings. At the plate, Hinske hit .256 with 11 homers and a .793 OPS. In 2011, Hinske is likely to serve as a left-handed pinch-hitter who may fill in for Martin Prado from time to time.
#6 – John Buck to the Marlins
Catcher John Buck will enter his 8th major league season with a 3-contract from the Florida Marlins. Buck had a breakout year in 2010 with the Blue Jays and made the All-Star team for the first time in his career.
Buck set career highs in batting average (.281), on-base percentage (.314), homers (20) and RBIs (66) with the Jays and also threw out 28% of runners attempting to steal. The Marlins may have hit a home run with this signing.
Jose Contreras spent most of his career as a starter until last year with the Phillies where he made a nice transition into a full-time reliever. Contreras was one of the most dependable relievers in the Phillies bullpen and as such, the Phillies rewarded him with a new 2-year deal, including an option for a third year.
Contreras went 6-4 with four saves and a 3.34 ERA in 67 games in 2010. He is able to pitch multiple innings when necessary and can also fill in as a closer. This gives the Phillies some much needed stability in the bullpen.
#4 – Scott Linebrink to the Braves
There was one more pitching swap this offseason as the Braves sent Kyle Cofield to the White Sox in exchange for another righty, Scott Linebrink. At 23 years of age, Cofield was moved in favor of experience. Linebrink is a 12-year veteran who has had a fairly consistent career. He went 3-2 with a 4.40 ERA as a reliever for the White Sox last year and will be a solid piece in the Braves bullpen.
#3 – George Sherrill to the Braves
Continuing to add pitching, the Braves signed lefty reliever George Sherrill, who will be entering his 8th season in the majors. The one-year deal is a smart one for the Braves as it is fairly low-risk. Sherrill performed well in 2008 and 2009, but last year, he ran into trouble. Posting a 6.69 ERA with the Dodgers in 65 games, Sherrill got destroyed facing right-handed hitters who batted .427 off him.
If Sherrill can rebound to his 2009 form, the Braves move will pay major dividends. If not, they only spent $1.2 million dollars to sign him. This looks like a winner for the Braves.
#2 – Dan Uggla to the Braves
His name is Dan Uggla and yes, he is now a Brave. This All-Star second baseman has been tearing up the NL East for five years now. The Marlins refused to meet Uggla’s demand of a five-year contract and decided to trade him. They received Omar Infante and left-handed reliever Michael Dunn in exchange.
The winner of this trade may be a tough call. Uggla, with 33 homers last year, gives the Braves a right-handed power bat. However, Infante is a more versatile and solid defender. Plus, Infante batted over .300 each of the past two seasons. And with good left-handed relievers hard to come by, Dunn’s 1.89 ERA in 25 games last year looks pretty good. However, Dunn is a rookie with little experience so the Marlins cannot be sure what they will get out of him.
The worst news about this trade for the NL East is that Uggla remains in the NL East. The Marlins may have just shot themselves, plus three other teams, directly in the foot.
If anything is certain about this signing, it is that no one saw it coming. The 7-year, $126 million dollar deal handed to right fielder Jayson Werth is the biggest move made in the NL East so far this offseason. It may even wind up being one of the top five deals in all of baseball by the time 2011 gets started.
The Phillies could not afford to meet Werth’s demand, who made his first All-Star appearance with them in 2009. Batting .296 with 27 homers and 85 RBI last year, this five-tool player is a great addition to any team. However, at 31 years of age, Werth’s 7-year deal may look foolish a few seasons down the road.
Potential Future Moves: The Phillies
A name you are likely to hear a lot in the coming weeks is Zack Greinke. In fact, the only NL East team who has not been linked to Greinke is the Mets. The Royals have made it known that they are willing to part with this right-handed starter for the right price. Once Cliff Lee signs somewhere, the market for Greinke will certainly heat up.
While Greinke is on the Phillies wish list, they may also be looking at right fielder Delwyn Young. Having spent the last two years with the Pirates, Young has not exactly been lighting up the batter’s box, hitting only .236 last year. But the Phillies are still deciding how to replace Jayson Werth. Young is a possibility, but look for the Phils to fill the spot internally.
Potential Future Moves: The Braves
Aside from Zack Greinke, the Braves are also rumored to be in talks with lefty reliever Ron Mahay. While with the Braves the last few months of 2007, Mahay posted a 2.25 ERA in 30 appearances and has since expressed interest in returning to the Braves.
Mahay had surgery near the end of the 2010 season for a torn rotator cuff. but with left-handers in short supply, the Braves may take a look at re-signing Mahay.
Despite signing a few lefties already, the Marlins are still looking for depth in this area. Ron Mahay, whom the Braves are looking into, is also a possibility here. A few other lefties the Marlins may consider are Joe Beimel and JC Romero. Beimel posted a 3.40 ERA in 45 innings last year and Romero had a 3.68 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.
The Marlins have also been tossing around the idea of signing right fielder Delwyn Young, whom the Phillies expressed interest in as well.
Potential Future Moves: The Mets
The Mets have not made many moves this offseason aside from a few smaller players like catcher Ronnie Paulino and righty DJ Carrasco. The biggest potential move for the Mets may be simply retaining outfielder Carlos Beltran. Already signed through 2011, several teams including the Red Sox, have expressed interest in a trade for Beltran.
With budget concerns, the Mets have little room to squeak out any significant deals. Therefore, the most important move they make may just be retaining players like Beltran, David Wright and Jose Reyes. The Mets will need to resist the urge to dump payroll if they are to have a chance to compete in 2011.
Potential Future Moves: The Nationals
While the Nationals severely overpaid for right fielder Jayson Werth, they may not be done just yet. It seems, that like a lot of teams, star pitcher Cliff Lee is on their radar. And similar to the Werth deal, no one would ever see it coming. But the Nats appear to have money to burn so Lee may not be out of the question.
Veteran outfielder Randy Winn has also been rumored to be generating interest in Washington. Also add first baseman Adam LaRoche to their wish list and right-handed reliever Kevin Gregg. Gregg spent two years in the NL East with the Marlins from 2007 to 2008. He pitched in 63 games for the Blue Jays last year and posted a 3.51 ERA. Several teams, including the Nationals, have been courting the reliever.
Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography
In a shocking move, Jayson Werth has signed a 7-year deal with the last place Washington Nationals, snubbing higher-profile teams like the Red Sox. After losing Adam Dunn to the White Sox and star rookie pitcher Stephen Strasburg to Tommy John surgery, the Nats needed a seat-filler. Attendance in DC has been pathetic over the years due to a lack of success for the team and very high ticket prices.
In the last two years, the Nats ranked 24th and 23rd place for attendance out of 30 teams. The acquisition of Werth should produce a spike in season ticket plans, not to mention a spike in team batting average and runs scored. The exact terms of the contract have not yet been disclosed, but it is in the area of $126 million dollars.
The real shock is that Werth chose to sign with a last-place team. The Nats are trying to build a winner, but realistically, this will not happen overnight. In fact, their biggest obstacle may be the Phillies who have won the division 4-straight years now. But Werth has his ring already so maybe winning is now lower on his list than money and stability.
As for the Phillies, they now have a huge, gaping hole in right field to be filled. With Domonic Brown leaving Winter Ball early today due to being “tired and sluggish,” big questions remain as to his ability to fill the spot. Worst case scenario is that the left-handed Brown will have to platoon with righty Ben Francisco.
Another right-hander who may be able to platoon with Francisco or even Ross Gload is John Mayberry Jr. In 11 games with the big club in 2010, Mayberry batted .333 with 2 home runs and 6 RBI. He has been working on his stroke in AAA and, if Brown is not ready, Mayberry might be a better option.
There is a list of free agents as well that may also be able to fill the hole. The top choice for Charlie Manuel is probably Matt Diaz. The two men live in the same neighborhood and spend time together in the offseason. Diaz is a lifetime .301 hitter who got little playing time with the Braves last season. However, Diaz did find time to tackle a rouge Phillies fan on the field back in September. He is almost a folk-hero in Philly already after that feat.
A few other options include Jeff Francoeur, Carlos Quentin or Scott Hairston. With a little more creativity, the Phillies may wish to consider former Phillie Aaron Rowand. The Giants have indicated that Rowand is not in their plans going forward and may be willing to eat his huge salary just to get rid of him. Rowand struggled last year at AT&T Park. Perhaps the smaller, friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park can revive his bat?
A few other long-shot free-agents might be Willie Bloomquist, Joe Inglett or Jose Guillen. Whichever way the Phillies decide to go, it is clear that Werth has left very big shoes to fill. He will be missed.
On the verge of being swept in Boston, the Phillies would rely today on the arm of Cole Hamels. Much improved since last season, Hamels did not let his team down. Hamels pitched 7 strong innings against the Red Sox allowing just one run on 5 hits and 2 walks. Normally, Hamels fastball clocks in around 88-92mph but today, he was topping out at 96mph. The extra kick helped and he left the mound with his team in a good position to win the game.
But the Phillies offense would have to face knuckleballer Tim Wakefield again, who beat them up badly in Philly last month. Wakefield is an otherwise mediocre pitcher, but he certainly has the Phillies number. In the first inning, the Phils offensive woes continued as they loaded the bases with no outs but did not score. Ryan Howard hit a fly ball but Shane Victorino decided it was too close to tag and stayed at third. Then Jayson Werth hit into a double play to end the threat. Werth would later drop a fly ball in the outfield, adding to his woes.
In the 4th inning though, it looked like the Phils may have figured Wakefield out. They scored 4 runs on 2 doubles, 2 singles and a Raul Ibanez homer. But again, another double play, this time from Carlos Ruiz, ended the inning. The Phillies have certainly figured out how to shoot themselves in the foot recently.
Lucky for them, Hamels was spectacular and they went into the 8th inning with a 4-1 lead. Jose Contreras held the Sox down in the 8th, despite allowing 2 singles. In the 9th, Werth redeemed himself by walking and then stealing 2 bases. A sac fly from Ben Francisco scored Werth and gave the Phils a 5-1 lead.
But in their usual fashion, the Phillies made the 9th inning an adventure in a game they desperately needed to win. JC Romero gave up a double and later, Ruiz let a pitch sail past him to score a run for the Sox. Now in a save situation, Brad Lidge was brought in to finish the job. Lidge gave everyone a heart attack when he allowed another run, but did finally get out of the jam and save the game. The Phillies win, 5-3.
While the win today is a huge relief for the fast falling Phils, what ails them is clearly not past. The offense still sputtered in many situations where they should have scored and the bullpen began to look shaky again. Monday will be an off-day while the Phillies try to screw their heads on right before a 3-game series with their World Series rivals, the New York Yankees. Otherwise, the Yanks are going to feast on the failing Phils. Cross your fingers…
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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography
Is it bad luck or bad baseball? It looked like luck may have been in the Phillies favor when Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was sent to the DL minutes before the game started today. Dice-K beat up the Phillies in their last meeting, so this must be good news. Scott Atchison, a career minor leaguer who also played in Japan, made his first career major league start in place of Dice-K. Again, this seemed like good news, right?
Wrong. Because absolutely nothing has gone well for the Phillies lately, and this game would be no different. Joe Blanton has been as bad as he could be since coming off the DL in early May. By the 2nd inning of this game, Blanton had given up 34 runs, 11 homers and 11 walks in 45 innings pitched this year.
And the damage did not end there…Blanton allowed 9 runs total, matching Jamie Moyer yesterday, on 13 hits and a walk by the time he was done, after 4 pathetic innings. His ERA is now 7.28.
Blanton loaded the bases in the 2nd inning, right after the offense scored two runs for him. He then threw ONE pitch to rookie, Daniel Nava, who in his first major league at-bat, hit a grand slam! Unbelievable. It looked like the Phillies had morphed into a black cat with a #13 tattoo, under a black cloud standing on top of a broken mirror, sprinkled with spilled salt. But was that bad luck or just Joe Blah-anton?
Blanton needs to go. Obviously, no one will want him with his gigantic 7.28 ERA and gigantic salary, so what are the options? Put him back on the DL or send him to the minors. Brett Myers did this voluntarily back in 2008 and came back to help them win the World Series. The Phillies can bring back Nelson Figueroa or someone else from the minors. I would rather see a rookie get raked for 9 runs than a veteran who is not living up to his end of the deal. How about Nate Bump? He has some experience and was recently clocked at 103mph. Go get him!
The Phillies have made a lot of mistakes this year and last, many of which have been overshadowed by the acquisition of Roy Halladay. Letting Myers go was clearly an error in judgment. I said it before, but because most people have a personal dislike of Myers, most were happy to see him go. For the Astros this year, Myers has not allowed more than 4 runs in any game, has not pitched fewer than 6 innings in any game and his ERA is a very respectable 3.18.
And do not even get me started on Cliff Lee. Because the Mariners are not doing well, Lee will likely be traded before the deadline and it looks like he may wind up in the NL East. Imagine this: Lee goes to Mets or the Braves who make the playoffs, leaving the Phillies in the dust. You want to throw up right now, don’t you?
And remember signing a 36 year-old Raul Ibanez, now 38, to a 3-year contract? It looked like a good idea for ½ a year in 2009; now, not so much. Raul, we still love ya, but things are not going well. Ibanez is hitting .247 and is getting slower in the outfield.
The Phillies also extended Blanton’s contract this off-season, giving him 3 more years and $24 million dollars. They noted his “consistency,” which I have never agreed with, and his ability to pitch many innings as reasons for the extension. Well, all those innings have taken their toll as evidenced by Blanton’s current ERA plus the pre-season injury and DL stint.
By the way, the Phillies offense died after Blanton dug a huge hole for them. The managed only 7 hits and 3 of those came from back-up catcher Brian Schneider. The Phillies went on to lose the game by a score of 2-10.
I could go on, but I think that is enough for one day. The Phillies have now slid from 1st place to 3rd place in the NL East and if the Marlins keep winning, they will be in 4th place shortly. I mentioned holding off on hitting the panic button last week; well, it is now time. Let the panic begin. This past month may be a foretelling of the horror to come.
Photoshopping by Jenn