Results tagged ‘ Roy Halladay ’

Where Has This Phillies Team Been All Year?

The Phillies put a brutal 12-5 beating on the Cincinnati Reds last night.  So where has this ball-pounding Phillies team been all year long?  Oh that’s right; they have been on the disabled list.  Sad.

In fact, let us take a look at the 2012 Phillies path to destruction:

That is a lot of injuries.  But with Placido Polanco returning yesterday, the Phillies now have most of their starters back, although some of them from the beginning of the season went to other teams in trades.  And guys like Domonic Brown and Juan Pierre are making this look like a real line-up once again.

Unfortunately, it is probably too little, too late.

Still, any victory is a happy one.  And the Phillies stomping all over the Reds last night was certainly fun to watch.  And everyone in the line-up contributed.  John Mayberry Jr. is suddenly on fire; he had 3 hits, including a 2-run homer.  Pierre also had 3 hits and 2 stolen bases.  Everyone in the starting line-up had at least one hit, which has been rare this year.

Roy Halladay did not get a hit, and he did not pitch very well either.  But it did not matter.  The 5 runs he allowed were easily swept under the proverbial rug since the offense kept on scoring.  They scored in every inning except the 2nd, so each run Halladay gave up did not seem like a big issue.

The Phillies will go at the Reds again tonight and they will have a new, interesting player on the staff for this one.  Remember that awful Cliff Lee trade a few years back…well, one of the fruits of that goof-up is now on the roster.  Phillippe Aumont will take Jeremy Horst’s place on the roster as Horst is now on paternity leave for 3 days.

Aumont has had issues.  His control is not great and he is an emotional guy, easily rattled at times.  He has posted a 4.26 ERA in Triple-A this year.  I guess this is the Phillies way of throwing him into the fire to see if he burns.  Best of luck to him!  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Phillies Put it All Together in Win Over Brewers

A rare event this year for the Phillies has been having all aspects of their game working together at the same time.  In an 8-0 win over the Brewers, the pitching, offense and defense all performed very well.

On the mound, Kyle Kendrick took one more positive step towards earning a spot in next year’s rotation.  He went 8 innings, allowing only 3 hits, 1 walk and no runs.  It was his second shut-out start in row.  As I have said before, we all knew Kendrick could pitch.  It was just a matter of seeing some consistency from him; and now, Kendrick appears to finally be on a roll.

The offense did not disappoint either, although it came from a few odd sources.  Michael Martinez, who is hitting only .153, came up with a huge 2-run homer in the 2nd inning to get the Phillies an early lead.  Both Domonic Brown and Kevin Fransden each had 3-hit nights, with Brown collecting 4 RBI.  It was a monster night for Brown who is trying to prove he belongs in the Bigs.

Fransden is opening many eyes with both his offense and his play at 3rd base.  Fransden is really a middle-infielder, but he has adapted very well to the hot corner and has the arm to handle it.  If he continues to improve, the Phillies may have themselves either a very cheap 3rd base option for 2013 or a solid utility guy.

And finally, in the win last night, the Phillies actually got through a whole game without committing an error!  Hooray!  Michael Schwimer pitching in the 9th was as close to an error as they got.  Schwimer loaded the bases before finally recording all 3 outs and keeping the shut-out intact.

The Phillies return home to begin a series with the Reds tonight at 7:05pm.  Roy Halladay will pitch and try to notch 3 wins in a row for the Phils!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Puzzling Predicament of the Phillies 8th Inning

Why no one on the Phillies staff can seem to pitch well in the 8th inning is an on-going and unsolved mystery.   And in last night’s appalling 9-2 loss to the Marlins, this baffling problem was magnified once again.

No one pitched particularly well yesterday, not even Roy Halladay.  He was not bad, obviously, but while 3 runs in 7 innings is great for most guys, it is slightly sub-par for a guy of Halladay’s pedigree.  Still, the offense gave him no support except for 2 RBI from Ty Wigginton, one of which was a solo homer.

But as soon as the Phillies approached that irritating 8th inning, all heck broke loose.  B.J. Rosenburg walked the first batter and then allowed 2 straight singles.  He has been terrible and his 12.79 ERA is screaming, “Send me back to the minors!”  Raul Valdes got an out and then intentionally walked a guy as he was told to before being pulled.  That walk eventually counted against his, which really is not right.  He did his job.

And then the real fun began when Michael Schwimer took over and balls started flying all over the ballpark.  By the time it was finally over, the Marlins had scored 6 runs in one inning.

So what is the deal with the 8th inning and this team?  Look at the chart to the right; the Phillies have a 5.38 ERA in the dreaded 8th inning.  By far, this is where the poorest pitching occurs.  The only thing worse is when they go into extra innings.

This is a clear indication that the Phillies bullpen needs a complete overhaul, but we already knew that.  The frustrating part is that it does not seem to matter who they put in there in the 8th.  It is some weird curse now; pitch in the 8th, get knocked around, end of story.

And while this issue is on-going, something even worse happened in this game.  Jimmy Rollins was clearly not interested in playing last night, and I am apparently not the only one who noticed.  His lack of hustle was blatant and obvious in several situations.  A fan who called him out on Twitter asking him to run out the play because, “youngsters are watching you.”  Rollins responded with, “well u make sure u tell them what to do.”  Oh my.

Clearly, this Phillies season has been fun for no one.  But as fans, we still expect a level of professionalism and effort regardless of the standings.  No one wants to pay to see a bunch of guys making millions of dollars taking their good fortune for granted.  And this is not the 1st time we have seen this attitude from Rollins, which only magnifies the situation.

This is indeed a sad state of affairs all around.  It is really unfortunate as well that these problems have now overshadowed the fact that the Phillies have won 2 series in a row, despite yesterday’s ugly loss.

The Brewers are up next: Game time tonight is 8:10pm.

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The Doc Operates on the Red Birds

It seems like a very long time since we have seen a really good Phillies game.  But with Roy Halladay on the mound last night looking like the ace that he is, it felt like old times again.

After a year of struggles and injury, Halladay appears to be at 100% finally.  Against the World Champion Cardinals Friday night, he pitched 8 innings and allowed only 2 hits, one of which was a solo homer.  That would be the only run of the night for the Cards.

The Phillies are in the process of finding out exactly what they have for next year.  Halladay’s performance was a huge boost in that regard.  They also tooled around in the outfield, moving guys here and there like a roulette wheel to see which one might hit the jackpot.

As a result, Nate Schierholtz played center field for the first time in his MLB career.  Domonic Brown started in right and then both guys got shuffled around later in the game.  Even with all the changes, everyone held their own pretty well.

Brown knocked in the first run for the Phillies with a single in the second that scored Ryan Howard.  The other 2 runs scored on an 8th inning 2-run homer from Chase Utley.  He hit the ball so hard it went into the upper deck of the bullpen in center field.  It looks like Utley has also found his groove again.

The pitching was excellent for both teams, but the Utley homer won the game for the Phillies who walked away with a 3-1 victory.  Game 2 starts tonight at 7:05pm.  Cliff Lee will pitch and try to keep pace with the Doc’s amazing performance.

And a quick congratulations to former catcher Mike Lieberthal who was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame last night!  Lieby looked both humbled and honored as he accepted the award and thanked the fans for their support.  Congrats to him…a well deserved honor!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Streaking & Signing: Things Are Looking Up for the Phillies

It is officially a streak – the Phillies have won 4 games in a row and all 4 came during their final at-bat.  In the 3-game sweep of the Brewers, every game also ended in the exact same score, 7-6.

Tuesday’s improbable win included a 6-run rally in the 8th inning which was started by a 2-run homer from 2nd back-up catcher, Erik Kratz.  To that point, Kratz had exactly 3 major league hits and all 3 were home runs.

Then today, Kratz doubled his major league hit total even while abandoning the long ball.  He recorded 3 hits including an RBI and a double in extra innings to once again set the Phillies up for a late-game win.   Chase Utley also had 3 hits today plus 3 RBI.   Jimmy Rollins got the game-winning hit today and also in Sunday’s walk-off win.

As for the pitching, Cliff Lee was not great on Tuesday, giving up 6 runs.  But the Phillies offense got all 6 back for him in that 8th inning.  Then today Vance Worley had an ok outing, allowing 3 runs in 5.1 innings.  Kyle Kendrick kept him from further damage with 1.2 scoreless innings.

The bullpen has, with one exception, found it’s groove in  these last 4 games.  Only Antonio Bastardo faltered with a 2-run homer to Ryan Braun today that almost cost them the game.  But the late-inning magic bailed him out, even despite another Ty Wigginton error at third base.

But the HUGE bang for the Phillies came earlier today when the Phillies announced they finally signed ace pitcher Cole Hamels to a long-term deal.  A collective sigh of relief was heard around the city.

Hamels got 6 years for $144 million, which is the second biggest contract ever behind only CC Sabathia of the Yankees who got $161 for 7 years back in 2008.  It is the largest contract ever for a Phillie.

It appears then that the Phillies have not given up just yet.  The Hamels signing should be a big relief for guys like Lee, Rollins and Roy Halladay who chose to come to or stay in Philly with the promise from the front office that they would continue to try to win in the long-term.  And these last 4 wins which happened in the most unlikely ways should also light a fire under the entire team.

The Phillies are off tomorrow for the annual Phestival and they will then fly to Atlanta for 3 games with the Braves.  Those 3 games will be very telling as to whether this team can stage an improbable comeback and make a run at a Wild Card spot.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Together Again, Phillies Sluggers Turn Back Time

After a very unusual start to the 1st inning in last night’s Phillies and Brewers match-up, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard reunited in a way that appeared to turn time back to better days.  They went back-to-back with solo home runs and just that quickly, it was like old times again.  Ah, together again…

In fact most of this previously lame Phillies squad is back off the DL and as a result, they are starting to turn things around.  Last night’s walk-off win was the second in row for the Phillies and also their first comeback win when trailing after 8 innings this season.  Prior to this, they were 0-42 when losing after 8 innings.

This game began in a very odd way though.  Roy Halladay was not his normal, studley self.  He gave up 2 runs in the first inning before Howard and Utley countered with their solo blasts.

Even stranger was what happened to Shane Victorino before those home runs.  Ex-Phillies pitcher Randy Wolf hit Victorino in the funny bone with a pitch; because he turned his shoulder to in an attempt to get out of the way, the 1st base umpire apparently got confused and called him out on strikes.  Replay showed that Victorino came nowhere near to swinging at the pitch.

Both Victorino, in obvious pain, and manager Charlie Manuel argued his case to no avail.  Once again, an idiot umpire would cost the Phillies a base runner and, after the homers, it cost them an extra run.  Even worse, Victorino’s hand went numb after the hit to the elbow and he had to be removed from the game.  He says he is fine now and should be able to play tonight; the ball just struck a nerve in the wrong place.

The umpire idiocy did not end there either.  Howard’s obvious solo shot was initially ruled a double after the ball bounced back onto the field out of the left field flower beds.  They had to go to replay to get the call overturned.  But it was quite apparent to the naked eye that the ball left the yard.  I guess the umpire went temporarily blind; an affliction which seems to be contagious.  And all that happened in the first inning.

By the 4th inning, things were getting out of hand as Halladay continued to self-destruct and allowed 4 more runs for a 6-2 Phillies deficit.  But for the second day in a row, the bullpen came through and held the score there.  And that set up the Phillies 1st comeback win after 8 innings all season long.

With 1 out in the 9th, the Phillies were still 4 runs behind and down to their final 2 outs when suddenly, the clock turned backwards again.  The Phillies offense began channeling their 2008 selves.  Jimmy Rollins drew a walk followed by a Juan Pierre single.  Utley walked; Howard singled in 2 runs; Carlos Ruiz singled in another and Hunter Pence followed with another walk.

With still only 1 out in the inning and a man on third, all the Phillies needed was a sac fly.  Most of the year, the Phillies have been unable to accomplish this seemingly routine task.  But on this throwback night, Ty Wigginton summoned his inner super-Wigginess and sent a line drive to left which scored pinch-runner Erik Kratz.

And just like that, the Phillies have found themselves on the comeback trail.  Like J-Roll said after Sunday’s win, it is time to start streaking…

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Doc Is In: The Phillies Win

After landing on the DL in late May, Roy Halladay has finally returned to the Phillies.  And his comeback was just what the Doc ordered.

Halladay was on a pitch count to play it safe last night against the Dodgers.  And while it took him a few innings to settle in, he looked pretty good after that.  Doc pitched 5 innings allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and did not walk anyone. 

Early in the game though, it looked like the Phillies offense was not going to do much to help Doc out.  Against a rookie pitcher making his major league debut, they managed only 1 run through 6 innings.  The one run scored in the first as Chase Utley grounded out with a man on third.

Once the Phillies bullpen took over in the 6th inning, it was hard to imagine them keeping the 2-1 score close, based on recent past experience.  But the Phils needed a late inning comeback in a bad way, which is something they have been unable to do all season.  A lot of that had to do with the bullpen underperforming.

But on a Tuesday night in Hollywood, the script was flipped…finally.  Five Phillies bullpen pitchers held the Dodgers to those 2 runs as if they had been doing it all year long.  And that laid the groundwork for a Phillies comeback.

It was nothing too fancy, but with 2 outs in the 8th inning, the Phils took advantage of a walk and then 2 guys getting hit by pitches to load the bases.  Hunter Pence came through in the clutch situation with a single up the middle to score 2 runs.  The Phillies took a 3-2 lead and did not give it back.

That is 4 wins in a row for the Phillies!  It seems like a LONG time since that has happened…  But can they get 5?  Cliff Lee will give it his best shot this afternoon in the finale; 1st pitch is scheduled for 3:10pm.

By the way, Halladay had some comments after the game in regards to the trade rumors surrounding Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino.  He told Todd Zolecki, “It’s an organization that has been committed to winning and you want to see that continue and obviously there are points where they may have to reconsider how they’re going to go about that, but I hope that’s long after I’m gone to be honest with you.”

In other words, trade Hamels and Doc (and most of the rest of the team) is going to be real unhappy.  How much weight does that carry with team management?  That remains to be seen…

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Photoshop by Jenn Zambri Photography

Can the Phillies Save Themselves?

There is a lot of chatter and trade rumors creeping around the Phillies right now.  Who will stay and who will go?  And, do they even have any real choices here?

One of the predominant theories says that if the Phillies make a strong run in the 2nd half, they may be able to keep guys like Cole Hamels and Shane Victorino.  But to do so would mean winning a LOT of games.

Last night’s win over the Dodgers gave the Phillies a 3-game winning streak.  That is nice, but not exactly a season-saving run just yet.  Yet there were reasons to hope; Joe Blanton pitched extremely well, allowing just 2 runs in 8 innings, keeping the unreliable bullpen at bay.  Ryan Howard hit his first home run of the year.  And Victorino had 3 hits in the game.

But even if this short streak of better baseball continues, is it enough to keep the team together beyond the trade deadline?

Sadly, I believe the answer is no.

The Phillies bullpen needs serious help and a guy like Victorino is exactly what many teams will want in exchange for a solid pitcher or two.  Even a player like Juan Pierre could help out a team ready to make a run at the playoffs.  With Domonic Brown healthy again in Triple-A, the possibility of trading an outfielder greatly increases.  Plus, both Pierre and Victorino have contracts that expire after this season.

And then there is the sad tale of Cole Hamels.  The Phillies failed to get a long-term contract done last year, leaving Hamels close enough to free-agency for him to get a really big whiff of the huge piles of money waiting for him.  If they cannot come to terms, Hamels will be traded before the deadline.

The Phillies really have little choice.  If they know that Hamels will test free agency, the odds of retaining him are slim to none.  Other teams who are not on the brink of the luxury tax and whose teams did not suck this year will be gunning for Hamels.  And if you are going to lose him, you might as well get something for him in exchange.

I am not happy about this and I am sure many of you feel the same way.  But the cold, hard truth is that a very large, steaming pile of poo is about to hit the fan.  I hope I am wrong, but brace yourselves, just in case I am not.

The good news is that Roy Halladay returns to the mound tonight!  In his first start off the DL, Halladay will face the Dodgers at 10:10pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Showing Signs of Life

The Phillies had not won a series since June 20th, the last time they faced the Rockies.  It is fitting then that almost a month later, their next series win also came against the Rockies.

On Saturday, Vance Worley led the team pitching 6.2 innings and allowing only 2 runs.  The game was almost a rout as the Phillies led 6-2 going into the 8th inning.  But the bullpen struck again, allowing 3 Rockies runs and cutting the lead to a very uncomfortable 6-5.  Jonathan Papelbon was forced into the game for a 5 out close attempt.  The Phillies gave him 2 more runs to play with in the 9th and they walked away with an 8-5 victory.

Then today, Cole Hamels led the charge, pitching 8 innings with only 1 run allowed.  For the first time in a long time, everything was clicking for the Phillies.  Even without Chase Utley or Ryan Howard in the line-up, as it had been pretty much all year, they still scraped out 5 runs.

Carlos Ruiz normally sits for Sunday day games, but he has been so hot, manager Charlie Manuel had to play him.  Chooch did not disappoint and went 2-for-4 with an RBI.  He is now hitting an unbelievable .353…in the middle of July.  Wow.

And Hunter Pence finally broke and 0-for-13 streak with a 3-run homer in the 5th inning.  That had to be a huge relief for him.

Speaking of relief, no one was more relieved to have a little success than Antonio Bastardo.  After allowing 5 runs in his last 2/3 of an inning pitched, Bastardo finally pitched a 1-2-3 inning using only 7 pitches, all strikes.  That 9th inning performance may be the injection of life Bastardo has been looking for all season.

Now I do not mean to be a Debbie Downer here, but keep in mind, the Phillies just beat the 2nd worst team in the National League.  The Dodgers are up next and that team is hanging right in there with the Giants for first place in the NL West.  This will be a much bigger test for the Phillies.

The pitchers schedule to go against the Dodgers are in this order: Joe Blanton, Roy Halladay (his 1st start off the DL!) and Cliff Lee.  This looks like a very solid opportunity for the Phillies if they can continue to build on this momentum.

Game time Monday night is 10:10pm (yikes!).  Bust out the caffeine…

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies All-Stars Contribute to NL Shut-Out Win Over the AL

In an 8-0 win over the American League, 3 Phillies All-Stars made big contributions for the National LeagueCole Hamels pitched a perfect 7th inning, probably driving up his free agent value a little bit more.  Carlos Ruiz caught the final 4 innings and had one at-bat, a fly-out to left field.  And Jonathan Papelbon recorded the final out of the game, sealing the NL victory.

Here are a few MLB photos from the game:

And this next set of MLB photos show Ruiz holding his glove and then the glove R.A. Dickey gave him to use in order to catch his crazy knuckle balls.  That glove is almost as big as Chooch!  There is also a nice shot of Papelbon and then more adorable Chooch getting a hug from the Nationals teenage rookie, Bryce Harper:

Melky Cabrera of the Cardinals got the MVP award for the game.  He had 2 hits, including a homer, and 2 RBI.  Some rare events occurred during the game, including 3 triples, 5 rookies playing in the game, and the first shut-out during an All-Star game since 1996, when the game was played in Philadelphia.

The biggest blunder of the game came from 19-year old Harper who lost a routine fly ball in the outfield, which eventually landed behind him.  He also got caught leaning too far off base in a fielder’s choice and was tagged out.

So now we wait until the Phillies return on Friday to see if they have any gas left to rescue their dreadful season.  Roy Halladay will make a rehab start tomorrow so, hopefully, that means he will be back very soon.

In the meantime, here is a fun blast from the All-Star past.  These are a few of my favorite All-Star photos from 2008.  The top one will never get old…it is Dan Uggla goosing Chase Utley to the surprise of many around them, as you can see by my marker edits.  Below that is Utley and Brad Lidge, who appear to be trying to club David Wright. And then there is Mike Schmidt standing up in a moving vehicle (next to Utley) during the All-Star parade to point me out and say hello.  I was one Phillies jersey in a sea of Yankees jersey’s so I was easy to spot and he was clearly excited to see a Phillies fan!  Utley yelled out to me right after that as well.  And yes, that was one of the highlights of my simple existence ;o)

By the way, I am hoping to have my video interview with Ryan Howard posted in the next few days, so stay tuned for that!

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2012 photos by MLB; 2008 photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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