Results tagged ‘ Rockies ’

Sandberg Gets First Managerial Win

Well, it took a few days, but the Phillies finally squeaked out a win for interim manager Ryne Sandberg.  The 3-5 win over the Dodgers ended yet another long losing streak for the Phils who are now solidly in 4th place in the NL East, 2.5 games behind the Mets for 3rd place.

Getting this win against the hottest team in baseball was going to require a combination of things to occur.  Pitcher Cole Hamels had to be good, which he was.  Hamels went 7 innings, allowing just 2 runs.

 

The Phillies offense had to produce.  And although it was not at all pretty at times, 7 hits and 3 RBI did the trick.  Carlos Ruiz, who has struggled lately, went 4 for 4 and Darin Ruf smashed a solo homer in the game.

Defensively, the Phillies were coming off a game in which they committed 3 errors.  On Sunday, they managed to cut that down to 1 error.  Ah, progress!

And for once, the bullpen did not implode in late innings.  Both B.J. Rosenberg and Jonathan Papelbon pitched scoreless innings to maintain what was at that point a 2-2 tie game.

And in the bottom of the 9th, a little bit of luck was in order to seal the Phillies win.  Two errors by Dodgers shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, allowed the Phillies to walk off with the victory.  Michael Young got the game-winning RBI as Ramirez fumbled his grounder with the bases loaded.  Casper Wells scored on the error and Ryne Sandberg finally got a win!

Here is the full Photo Album from the game, which includes some fun shots of the Dodgers as well.  Fun stuff like this right here:

Is he pitching or trying some new form of karate?  I cannot decide.

The Rockies come to town for a 4-game series tonight.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Home, Sweet Home for the Phillies

After an abysmal road trip where the Phillies lost 7 out of 10 games, this team had to be relieved to be back in Philadelphia last night.  They took an absolute beating from the Brewers, Twins and the Rockies.  If you Google the meaning of “bad baseball,” this road trip should be used as an example.

But things looked a tad brighter after last night’s 5-4 walk-off win against the NationalsJohn Lannan returned to the rotation after a knee injury and pitched well; Ryan Howard finally broke out of his home run drought; and Domonic Brown seems to be getting hot again.  He even delivered the game-winning RBI single in the 9th.

Despite the win though, I simply cannot stop thinking about the awful road trip.  In particular, I am greatly disturbed by the events that have taken place at and around third base and home plate lately.  Most of these little disasters seem to revolve around veteran third-baseman Michael Young.

I hate to keep picking on Young, who seems like a very nice guy, and maybe some of this is not his fault at all.  Did you notice that Young got thrown out at home plate THREE times in the last 6 games of the road trip?  My question is, does he run home on his own or is Ryne Sandburg sending him?  I understand being aggressive, but Young is one of the older and slower players on this team.  This is not the guy you send on a close play.

I have begun leaning towards Sandburg’s lack of experience coaching third base as the issue, especially after last night.  Because it appears he got Howard into a similar jam.  He was sending Howard home and quickly changed his mind, signaling for Howard to stay at third.  But his momentum was already heading home and Howard got tagged out at third.  Sandburg is a Hall of Famer…I get that.  So he should know that you cannot stop a moving train.  Either make the decision quicker or take your chances that Howard will bowl over the catcher at home.

Then again, guys have been getting tossed out on the base paths all over the place all by themselves.  Young also got thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double last Tuesday.  He also had a bad fielding error and hit into 2 more double plays on this road trip.

None the new players Ruben Amaro Jr. brought in this year, including Michael Young, are holding up their end of the bargain.  Delmon Young is hitting only .231; Mike Adams has a 4.13 ERA and cannot seem to pitch a clean inning; Ben Revere has started out super slow, although he is improving.  And Revere is young so he has a lot to learn yet.  Lannan has been ok, but the injury was a huge setback.

As for the returning Phillies, too many of them are hurt or under producing.  I hate to be such a downer after a rare Phillies win, but this team is just so frustrating!  Who are they?  Are they going to get any better?  Will some of these guys ever be healthy?  Your guesses are all as good as mine.

Maybe another win tonight will improve my mood?  Hope so!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Playoff Hopes: Fool’s Gold or the Real Deal?

Out of the 9 Phillies Opening Day 2012 starters, 6 have landed either on the disabled list or with another team at some point during the year.  And that does not even include Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, who started the year on the DL.  So basically, 8 out of 9 regular starters missed a lot of time this year.  The only one who avoided either a trade or the DL was Jimmy Rollins.

It is fitting then that a 2-run shot from J-Roll last night led the team to a 3-game sweep of the Miami MarlinsCliff Lee did his part as well, allowing just 1 run, which was unearned due to an error, over 7 innings.

The win has placed the Phillies only 3 games back in the Wild Card race, which is something not many people saw coming.  This team was beaten up so badly throughout most of the year and played so poorly that a possible playoff run, until now, seemed impossible.  Here is a look at the Wild Card standings:

But even after a 7-game win streak, is all this new playoff hope just fool’s gold or can the Phillies really sneak in the backdoor?  Consider this:  6 of those 7 games in the streak came against two of the worst teams in baseball, the Marlins and the Rockies.  Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies lost a series to the Mets, who are also pretty bad.

Then again, the momentum of a 7-game win streak could be enough to help elevate the Phillies performance and confidence to the point where they can start stomping on good teams as well.  But we are not going to know if that is possible for a while as the Houston Astros are next on the agenda.  With a record of 45-98, the Astros are by far the worst team in all of baseball.  Losing even 1 of the 4 games against the Astros would be a tragedy.

So maybe this series could be a descent barometer after all.  Because if the Phillies struggle against the Astros, I think the faint light of playoff hopes would be markedly dimmed.  But if they beat the crap out of the Astros, as they very well should, then go ahead and keep the light of hope burning.  Then we can all say, “Watch out National League!  Here come the Phillies…”

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Doubleheader, Double Wins as Phillies Sweep Rockies

After a ridiculous 3 hour rain delay on Saturday, the Phillies finally settled on a Sunday doubleheader to finish off the Rockies series.  Cole Hamels started the Day Game and allowed only 2 runs in 7 innings.

Chase Utley had his hands in a number of plays, including a hit, a walk and a very entertaining run scored:

The defense was solid, but the highlight was watching Ryan Howard hold onto the ball for an out after getting bowled over at 1st base by a Rockies player.  He also had 2 key RBI in the game.

The bullpen did not allow a run, setting up a 2-2 tie game going into the bottom of the 9th.

With the bases loaded and 1 out, John Mayberry Jr. connected for a game-winning, walk-off single.

The excitement continued in the Night Game, which turned out to be a comedy of errors for the Rockies.  They fumbled, dropped and just plain missed a lot of balls hit their way.  5 errors helped keep the Phillies alive after rookie starter Tyler Cloyd gave up 4 runs in 4 inning.

With the early exit, the Phillies wound up using 7 pitchers, none of whom allowed a run except Cloyd:

As it turns out, all the Phillies needed for the win besides pitching was Carlos Ruiz.  Fresh off the DL, Chooch got  a standing ovation when he stepped in to pinch hit.  And he promptly added to the Phillies fever with a single in the 6th that led to 2 runs and a Phillies lead.

Chooch stayed in the game to catch.  Ruiz was 2-for-2 with an RBI in his return, coming in cold off the DL, not having played a single inning in over a month.  No rehab start…nothing.  Just pure Chooch.  This guy is incredible.  Chooooooooooooooch!!!

The Phillies went on to win by a score of 7-4 to complete a 3-game sweep of the Rockies.

I have photos of both Game 1 and Game 2; just click the links.  Yes, it was a long day, but worth it!

The Marlins are up next….and a run at the postseason???  Hmmmm…..

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

9th Inning Walk-Off Gives Phillies a Win Over the Rockies

The start of Friday night’s Phillies game against the Rockies was painful to watch.  Cliff Lee did not start off very well, allowing 2 runs on 3 hits in the 1st inning.  Michael Martinez made an error at 3rd base, which extended the inning.  In all, not a great beginning.

But Lee settled down after the 1st inning snafu.  However, the Phillies offense seemed content to keep blowing opportunities.  Ty Wigginton got a rare start at 1st base, but the rust from sitting on the bench was very apparent.  He struck out in all 3 at-bats, twice when there was 1 out and a runner on 3rd base.  Worse, Juan Pierre was on base both times and managed to steal 2 base the second time around.  Still, Wigginton could not get the runs home.

Clearly not his night, manager Charlie Manuel decided to pinch hit for Wigginton in the 7th.  That move proved to be a momentum changer as Laynce Nix smashed a 2-run double to tie the score.  Then 4 bullpen guys held the lead from the 7th to the 9th inning, giving the Phillies a chance to win.

In the bottom of the 9th, Jimmy Rollins worked out a lead-off walk and Pierre, already with 3 hits on the night, put down a sacrifice bunt to move the runner over.  The Rockies intentionally walked Chase Utley and Nate Schierholtz stepped to the plate as a pinch hitter.  A wild pitch moved Rollins to 3rd and Schierholtz then singled to right, scoring Rollins for the walk-off win.

This has been a tough year for Schierholtz who got traded here from the Giants mid-season, giving him hope of more playing time and a chance to prove himself.  But a broken toe sidelined him in mid-August, just as he was getting comfortable in the line-up.  Schierholtz was activated off the DL on September 1st and had not had a hit since returning until last night.  That walk-off single had to be quite a relief for him.

The Phillies have two more games with the Rockies; Cole Hamels will pitch tonight and then Tyler Cloyd on Sunday.  I will be attending both games and hope to return with some photos if the weather cooperates.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Halladay Strong in Phillies Win Over the Reds

This has not been an ideal year for anyone in the Phillies organization, especially Roy Halladay.  After landing on the disabled list earlier in the year, Halladay struggled to regain his usual form.

In a 6-2 win over the Reds, Halladay finally looks like he is healthy again and back on his usual game.  Over 7 1/3 innings, Halladay allowed just 1 earned run and struck out 5 batters.  The offense provided him with some runs to seal the deal.

The two big blasts of the day came from Erik Kratz and Chase Utley.  Kratz smashed a 3-run homer in the 2nd inning and Utley added 2 more runs with another bomb in the 3rd inning.  Kratz now has 9 homers in only 38 games with a slugging percentage of .611.  How this guy was stuck in the minor leagues for so long is a mystery.

Another mystery, at least to certain sports talk show hosts, is John Mayberry Jr.  With another multi-hit game against the Reds, Mayberry continues to hit at a torrid pace.  Critics are always on him, saying he is not an everyday player.  But he is showing us right now, as he did at the end of last season as well, that he is an everyday guy.  Why?  Because when he starts every game, like he does now, he hits.

In contrast, when the Phillies used Mayberry as a platoon guy, like they did at the start of last year and this year, he struggles.  When he plays regularly, he hits.  Mayberry hit .271 in July and .290 in August because, after the Shane Victorino trade, he has become a regular in the line-up.  Now this is just my 2-cents, but I say let the guy play center next year.  He has earned it.

And there is my rant for your Phillies off-day.  Play resumes tomorrow at 7:05pm when the Rockies come to town.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Post All-Star Break Baseball Starts on a Sour Note

If anyone was really hoping that the second half of the season was going to be a positive turning point for the Phillies, all hopes were dashed quickly after a depressing 6-2 loss to the Rockies last night.  But it really only took 1 at-bat to see that things were still not going well, as lead-off hitter Jimmy Rollins popped out to start the game.

Did you know that Rollins is in 5th place in all of baseball in fly-outs (does not include line drive outs) with 115?  Shane Victorino is in 7th place with 112.  Hey, at least they are in the top 10 of something, right?

Here are some more not-so-fun stats: Chase Utley has played the field in 9 games this year and has committed 2 errors so far.  The error last night led to an unearned run for the Rockies.  He is also batting just .216.  Ryan Howard, also fresh off the DL, is batting .182.  These guys need more time to adjust to playing every day, but time is running out fast…

The rest of this team, however, is out of excuses.  They are not hitting, playing bad defense and the pitching…well, that has been a disaster.  The bullpen imploded again yesterday as rookie Michael Schwimer gave up 3 runs.

Are you as depressed about this season as I am?  Not sure?  Here, take this test:

We are all pretty much out of reasons for hope at this point.  Now all we can do it hold our breath and wait for the other shoe to drop.  That shoe may collectively include losing Victorino, Cole Hamels, and according to a recent report, maybe Placido Polanco too.

No one really knows what is in store for this team, but we can reasonable surmise, it will not be good.  Continue tuning in to see the train wreck progress!  Game 2 with the Rockies starts at 8:10pm tonight.

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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

Phillies Stomp Rockies by a Toe Length

The Phillies won the second game of their series with the Rockies, not by a nose or even by the hair of their chins; they won by a toe.  It was Todd Helton’s toe, to be exact.

In the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs, the bases loaded and a tie game, Placido Polanco stepped to the plate.  He hit a bouncing grounder to short that looked like it might end the game.  It did end the game, just not in the way you might expect.

Polanco hustled down the line and, for some unknown reason, veteran Todd Helton suddenly forgot how to play first base.  He had the wrong foot back towards the bag and had to juggle his feet around.  As a result, his foot was not on the bag by about a toe length when Polanco crossed.  Polanco was safe, the runner on 3rd scored and the Phillies won in walk-off fashion.

I am so grateful to Helton’s toe that I decided to write a short poem about it:

Ode to the Toe
Oh, to the toe
Many thanks must go
Trying to save face
You danced around the base
Giving Polanco plenty of time
To get down the line
The winning run would score
As the crowd began to roar
So thank you little toe
We did so enjoy the show
-

The toe, however, was not the only star of the game.  The Phillies played with a lot of hustle and enthusiasm, which is something we have not seen too much of this season.

The 9th inning was especially nice to see because of the way the whole situation unfolded.  Back in the top of the inning, the Phillies were in a 5-5 tie game with Jonathan Papelbon on the mound.  As has been the case in non-save situations, Papelbon faltered and gave up a run.

Then down 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th, the first two Phillies batters went down fast.  With 2 outs, it looked like they were doomed.  And judging by the season so far, a comeback with 2 outs in the 9th almost seemed impossible.

But then something wonderful happened.  The Phillies fought back…finally.  This is the moment we have been waiting to witness all year long.

After Ty Wigginton singles, Hunter Pence came up with a clutch double; another rarity this year.  Even more impressive, Wigginton tore up the base paths, as if he had a psychic vision that he could go all the way.  Without hesitation, Wiggy actually scored from first base to tie the game, 6-6.

After Carlos Ruiz was walked intentionally, Shane Victorino found his happy place again and loaded the bases with a single.  Victorino beat out the throw from the short stop by about half of a second.  His hustle kept the inning alive.

And you know the rest; Polanco is safe by a toe!  Phillies win!

If the Phillies can keep the hustle going and sweep the Rockies tonight, there may be hope for this season yet…

Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

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Victorino photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Steroid Drama Overshadows Philles Victory

There were many positives for the Phillies in last night’s 7-2 win over the RockiesCole Hamels returned to form and pitched extremely well.  John Mayberry Jr. continued his hot streak with 2 extra base hits, including a homer.  And Carlos Ruiz had 3 RBI and 2 hits, also including a homer.  Even better, the Phillies finally got through a game without committing an error.

But all those positives were overshadowed by some overwhelming negatives.  First, the lost of injuries for the Phillies keeps getting scarier.  Laynce Nix had a setback in his recovery, possibly reinjuring the same leg.  David Herndon underwent Tommy John surgery and is out for the year.

However, the biggest bomb dropped when it was announced before the game that rookie infielder Freddy Galvis would be suspended 50-games for violating the MLB drug policy.  He apparently tested positive for a trace amount of clostebol, an anabolic steroid.

Between this year and last, the Phillies have gone from first to worst.  They have seen their All-Star players and important role players decimated by injuries.  This is simply not what this team needed to hear right now.

To say this is disappointing is an extreme understatement.  Galvis was the one bright light in an otherwise dreary season for this team and now, that has been taken away as well.  I suppose the good news is that he can serve the suspension now, while he is in a back brace on the DL.  He probably would have missed at least 50 games anyway.

I do not pretend to know whether Galvis is innocent or guilty.  Although, you would think if he was juicing he would have hit a lot better than .226 with 15 doubles, 1 triple, 3 home runs and 24 RBIs.  We will probably never know for sure.

There are several reports in reputable medical journals that say this steroid can show up in urine in trace amounts after ingesting contaminated meat or after having “relations” with a woman who was using a particular cream for a “female condition” that contains clostebol.  In other countries, cattle are injected with this drug to “beef” them up, literally.

Even chicken are sometimes injected with steroids.  Studies in that area produced similar results, showing trace levels of the drug in those who consumed the meat.

So I suppose you have to be a vegetarian, Catholic priest with some mad baseball skills in order to avoid a false-positive test result?

And this is why I say we will never know for sure.  There are too many variables as we have seen in previous cases where athletes tested positive after taking a tainted substance.  Former Phillie J.C. Romero is a good example.  He won a law suit against the company who made supplements that were laced with a banned substance which was not on the label.  But even though MLB now acknowledges this issue, Romero still had to serve the suspension and will forever be judged unfairly in public opinion.

This by no means exonerates Galvis, but it does, once again, call into question the legitimacy of MLB’s drug policy.  A more recent example is Ryan Braun of the Brewers, who got off on a technicality involving the “transport” of his sample.

Now that MLB has made announcement about Galvis, we know that either there was no appeal or he already lost the appeal.  It is MLB policy to wait until that process is done before making the official announcement.

Regardless of what did or did not actually occur here, Galvis’ reputation is now mud.  And that is a real shame for a kid with so much potential.  And it is especially a shame for a fan base that has been desperately searching for a small glimmer of hope for this stumbling, last place team.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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