Results tagged ‘ Ryan Howard ’

A Phillies Miracle – They Win on a Sunday

The Phillies were beginning to give new meaning to the phrase “Day of Rest” after losing their last 9 Sunday games.  It has been less rest, and more of a coma.  But today a miracle occurred and they won a Sunday game, beating the Diamondbacks by a score of 4-2.  Yippee!

Roberto Hernandez had a very good day, allowing only 2 runs over 7 innings.  I should qualify that by saying he had a good day pitching because, have you seen this guy swing a bat?  He looks like a 3 year old holding a 20 pound piece of lumber.  At one point, he actually swung at a pitch after the ball was already in the catcher’s glove and the catcher was reaching in to take the ball out.  Seriously.  But hey, nice job on the mound, Roberto!  And thanks for the extra entertainment.
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The offense was kicked into gear by Ryan Howard, who is out to prove something after being benched for 3 games earlier this week.  He smacked a 2-run homer in the 1st inning; it was his first homer in Philly since June 1st.
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Howard was also involved in a home plate controversy later in the game.  After not immediately hustling around the bases on a Marlon Byrd fly ball, Howard finally sped up when the ball was dropped.  While he should have been out at home (by a mile), the out call was overturned on replay as the D-Backs catcher was blocking the plate.  While I am happy the Phillies got the run, I have to say this home plate no-collision / no blocking rule is utterly ridiculous.  No way should Howard have been safe, but he got by on a technicality.  Can’t we just go back to bowling over the catchers and be done with this silliness?

So the Phillies did go on to score another, non-controversial run as Wil Nieves scored on a double by Ben Revere.  And yes, the Phillies managed to win a game with only 4 hits, thanks to several D-Backs errors.  The Phillies defense was solid and kept them in the game.
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There were some other great non-baseball moments today, including armed services members being honored, as the Phillies do every Sunday.  But this one almost brought everyone to tears as a little boy was reunited with his mother after a deployment and video of the boy crying hysterically were shown on the big screen.  Kudos to the Phillies for a very touching moment.
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Here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The Phillies start a series in New York tomorrow against the Mets.  And the trade deadline is almost here…who will stay and who will go?  We shall see…

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Braves Get Revenge with 4-Game Sweep of Phillies

Just a few weeks ago, the Phillies swept the Braves in a 3-game series in Atlanta.  This weekend, the Braves returned the favor and 1-up’d the Phillies with a 4-game sweep.  Ugh.  So for anyone holding out hope that the Phillies 5 game win streak on the road was a sign of life, you can wipe that thought from your mind.  No surprise…this team still sucks.

Rookie pitcher David Buchanan had an ok game, with 5 walks issued and 3 runs over 5 innings.  He has serious control issues.  A work in progress, I suppose…

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The entire game on Sunday was an exercise in futility.  The Phillies left 10 men on base and went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.  There were many swings and misses and possibly the worst bunt ever in the history of baseball laid down by 4th string catcher, Koyie Hill.
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The real telling moment came in the 7th after Jimmy Rollins singled and Chase Utley singled for his 1,500th career hit (yeah!).  Ryan Howard stepped to the plate…weren’t we all thinking, here is the BIG 3!  Rollins, Utley and Howard…the former dream team.  If they cannot get it done, this team is doomed.  Howard then proceeded to hit into an inning ending double play.  And that, my Phillies friends, is this team in a nutshell.  They are toast.
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The defense was awful again, too.  Domonic Brown and Ben Revere both misplayed balls in the outfield, something that has become a regular and expected occurrence.  Justin DeFratus and Rollins both had errors in the game as well.
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The only bright spot was Marlon Byrd.  He hit 2 home runs, which were the Phillies only 2 runs of the game.  But really, all that means is his trade value just went way up.
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It is a bit depressing to be a Phillies fan right now, as stated by the semi-polite Braves fan sitting next to me.  All of the sun-baked babies in the stands concurred with their heat-exhausted whimpers as well.  Seriously…there were 3 babies in my section all under 6 months old literally baking in the sun as their moron parents paid no mind.  One kid had on nothing but a diaper…because apparently, sunscreen is invincible and protects against heat stroke too…magic!  Sorry I ran off on a tangent there…but please people, leave your infants at home in 88 degree temperatures!  That makes me insane…had to vent.

Anyway, here is the Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The team is off on Monday and will go to Miami for a 3-game series starting on Tuesday night.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Finally, A Win!

Yes, miracles never cease.  The Phillies won a game last night!  About an hour and a half before game time, however, it did not look like a game would be played.  In Delaware just before Wilmington, the river overflowed and started to flood I-95.  Then it took me ½ hour just to pass through Wilmington as I-495 to Philly is closed, and will be possibly for a year (gasp!) due to a bridge problem.  Finally, I thought I was home free…then the heavy rain and floods came.

While contemplating building an ark, I inched down I-95 at about 15mph and struggled to see through my windshield.  There were accidents all over the place.  But the time I passed the airport in south Philly, I seriously thought I might not make it to the stadium as the water was so high on the road I might have floated away.  After I finally parked, I had to trek through water 6 inches deep, well above my ankles, just to get into the stadium, which was equally flooded.  But there was no way I was not getting my free Chase Utley bobblehead!

So I guess three miracles occurred last night.  I made it to the game without having to build an ark, the sun came out 20 minutes before game time and then the Phillies actually won.  Amazing!  A.J. Burnett had a relatively easy job though.  Only 1 batter in the Padres starting line-up was batting over .250.  And some were batting under .200.  This is a very bad team.
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Then again, so are the Phillies.  But the offense actually did score some runs, mostly thanks to Marlon Byrd who had 4 RBI on the night with a 3-run bomb in the 4th and a sac fly in the 6th inning.  Utley, Ryan Howard and Ben Revere each had 2 hits each and Utley picked up another RBI.  It looks like he intends to swing his way into the All-Star game again this year.  Utley is batting .318 with 31 RBI and 4 homers so far.
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But what is a Phillies game without an error?  Howard let an easy ground ball sneak right between his legs in the 1st inning.  Amazing.  The rest of the fielding was pretty good though.  Both Revere and Domonic Brown had impressive, diving grabs in the outfield, which was nice to see.
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And then Jonathan Papelbon earned his 300th career save, but he did not exactly do it convincingly.  Papelbon gave up 2 hits and then hit a batter to load the bases before finally recording 3 outs.

Also, before the game the Phillies signed their first round draft pick, Aaron Nola.  And rookie reliever Ken Giles, who was called up on Sunday, still has not gotten into a game.  And so we wait…

Here is the Photo Album from the game.  The Phillies play the Padresagain tonight at 7:05pm and Cole Hamels will pitch.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

It’s Official – This Team Sucks

I hate to state the obvious, but this Phillies team just plain sucks.  This fact has been made plainly evident after the Phils lost 4 of 5 games to the Mets in spectacularly bad fashion.  The secret is out.  When I was at the game on Sunday, the only reason I did not hear crickets in the stands was because of all the Mets fans there.

I cannot think of a single strength on this team.  The pitching is impossible to predict, the defense is awful, base running seems like a mystery to these guys and the offense is practically non-existent.  Even the attitudes suck.  Just in the last week, we have witnessed veteran players making mental mistakes, lazy play, especially in the outfield, and a lot of “that’s baseball” comments after games.  This team seems to have accepted that they suck and that is exactly how they are playing; like a defeated group with no hope of recovery.

I do not think the Phillies stand a chance this year.  Still, they need to make some moves to, at the very least, appease what fans they have left.  First, send Domonic Brown to the minors and bring back Darin Ruf to play left field.  Brown has been lazing about in left and needs a reality check.  Ruf deserves a shot.  It doesn’t matter that his defense is not great because, really, where is this team going anyway?  Nowhere.  So give this guy some playing time.

Please send Phillippe Aumont back to the minors.  Or better yet, give him away to another team for free.  He does nothing but walk guys and give up home runs; last night’s grand slam was the final straw for me.

There are many other moves I would like to see, but some are just not possible.  I still hear chants of “trade Ryan Howard.”  To those people I say, good luck with that.  No team would want him with his salary.  I’d like to see the Phillies play a centerfielder better than Ben Revere, but who exactly would that be?

There are a few guys in the minors that may help at some point (Ken Giles, Maikel Franko), but why bring them up before they are ready?  The team will still suck either way.  And you then risk exposing them to what appears to be a negative clubhouse environment where older players are setting very bad examples for younger ones.  Do you really want Franco to learn how to play with a total lack of urgency and swing at every pitch regardless of circumstance or location?  How about teaching him to get thrown out on the base paths?   If this is what you want him to learn, bring him up!

The last thing I’d like to see…fire Ruben Amaro Jr., his staff and all the scouts and START OVER.  This team needs a serious reboot with a NEW approach to the draft and scouting.  The same old, outdated approach has run this team into the ground.  They need to start pouring sabermetrics on top of their traditional scouting cereal for breakfast and get with the times.  I am not discounting traditional scouting nor touting sabermetrics as the savior, but a nice combination could maybe get things going in the right direction.  And frankly, what do the Phillies have to lose?

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3rd Day of Extra Innings Ends Badly for Phillies

On Friday and Saturday, the Phillies and Mets played 14 innings each day.  When the Phillies did not score on Sunday in the bottom of the 9th, groans could be heard all over the ballpark.  Three days in a row of extra baseball from two teams that are battling it out for last place…what could be more exciting?  A lot of things, apparently.

The tone was different before the game started.  It was a total love-fest, despite 2 days and 28 innings already played.
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And with Cole Hamels pitching, there had to be hope for the Phillies.
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Ryan Howard hit a two-run homer in the 4th inning to give the Phillies a 2-1 lead.  But it was all downhill from there.  The Phillies played sloppy ball in every way possible.  There were a few nice plays in the field, but also some missed opportunities.
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And the offense barely made Mets pitcher Jonathan Niese even break a sweat.  It took him only 13 pitches to go through the first 2 innings as the Phillies were swinging at everything and either popping it up or dropping weak ground balls.
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The worst play was in the 7th when, after a huge single to put a runner on 3rd base with 1 out, Domonic Brown got himself thrown out trying to reach second base.  Ben Revere then grounded out, leaving the winning run on 3rd base.

The bullpen was holding steady at least.  The Phillies made a bunch of moves before the game to find fresh arms as all these extra-long games had depleted the pen.  Jeff Manship went on the DL after hurting his quad in Saturday’s marathon game.   Phillippe Aumont and Cesar Jimenez were called up while Darin Ruf went back down to Triple-A to make room.  Jimenez pitched a scoreless 8th inning while Jonathan Papelbon did the same in the 9th.
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But when they finally got to the 11th and put in Aumont, that was pretty much the end of the game as he gave up a walk and then a 2-run homer to the Mets.  Aumont has been a head case from Day 1; he has been up and down to the majors a few times in the past 2 years and staff have complained that he does not take direction well.  In addition, he cannot throw strikes and this year, had walked nearly a batter every inning in Triple-A.  If this is the best guy the Phillies had in the minors to bring up, this organization is in deep trouble.

The Phillies will now lose this series to the Mets even with 1 game remaining and they are 6 games below .500, the worst mark of the season.  Things are not looking very good, to put it mildly.

Here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.  The final game with the Mets starts at 7:05pm on Monday.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Offense Comes Alive Against the Reds

After a very long dry spell where the Phillies were shut-out in 4 out of 10 games, the Phillies offense finally woke up this weekend against the Reds.  On Saturday, they pounded the Reds by a score of 12-1 and Cole Hamels finally got win #100 of his career.  Then on Sunday, it was an 8-3 win that sent fans home happy.

Cliff Lee had an interesting outing, ultimately pitching 6.2 innings and allowing 2 runs.  After he walked the first batter of the game and gave up 2 runs in the 1st inning, it was obvious we were in for a battle.
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But immediately, the Phillies got those 2 runs back.  Jimmy Rollins and Will Nieves went deep with back-to-back homers to start the game in the Phillies half of the 1st.
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The game remained tied until the 5th inning when Lee took matters into his own hands offensively, leading off the inning with a single. Rollins moved him over the second after Todd Frazier bobbled the ball at third and failed to throw Lee out.  Then Nieves dropped a sac bunt to move them over and Chase Utley knocked in Lee with a ground out to first.
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And the hits kept coming.  Marlon Byrd hit a solo homer in the 6th and then Cody Asche smacked a 3-run homer in the 8th to give the Phillies ample breathing room with an 8-2 lead.  Byrd, Asche and Nieves each had 2 hits in the game and Rollins and Ryan Howard each walked twice.  It was a full team effort at the plate.
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It was also the Phanatic’s annual birthday bash on Sunday, which added to the festive vibe with the powered-up offense, 4 home runs and 2 wins in a row!  Add a bunch of silly mascots, the Zooperstars and some dude who paints with his hands, and it was a real party.
Phanatic Bday

The Phillies are off tomorrow for the Phillies Phestival.  After that, they travel to Miami for a short 3-game series and then back home again.

In the meantime, here is the full Photo Album from the game and birthday celebration.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Hamels the Humanitarian

Cole Hamels is a true humanitarian.  He has adopted a child from Africa and created a foundation to fund programs both there and in Philadelphia.  And now, apparently, he has also adopted the New York Mets.

Hamels gifted the Mets with 6 runs and a win in Tuesday night’s game that ended in a 1-6 loss for the Phillies.  He especially loves Mets pitcher Jonathan Niese, whom he walked in the 4th inning with the bases loaded to score another Mets run.  You know how pitchers just have that little extra warm feeling  for other pitchers?  Well Cole was man enough to wear his heart on his sleeve.  Touching, really.

Many Mets were beneficiaries of Hamels’ generosity.  Daniel Murphy, Ruben Tejada and Chris Young all raised their batting averages by at least 20 points!  It was like Christmas for the Mets.  They probably sent him a very nice fruit basket after the game.
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Joking aside, in only his second start this season, Hamels crashed and burned.  It was ugly.  Afterwards, Hamels told the press he was “embarrassed” by his performance.  I guess we can give him brownie points for that.

The only offense for the Phillies was a Marlon Byrd home run.  Ryan Howard had 2 hits as well but was left stranded on base both times.

The Phillies are supposed to play the Mets again tonight, but with the forecast looking grim, it is hard to say if that will actually happen.  Tuesday’s game was delayed by an hour and a half and that rain was much lighter than predicted for tonight.  If they do play, Kyle Kendrick is scheduled to pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Lee & Burnett Leading the Way

The Phillies have taken the first 2 games in their series against the Dodgers in large part due to great starting pitching.  Both Cliff Lee and A.J. Burnett have set an example for all Phillies pitchers and given them something to aspire to.  It has been a real treat to watch.

On Monday night, Lee went 8 innings, allowing no runs, 4 hits and striking out 10 baffled Dodgers batters.  Since his awful Opening Day start, Lee has been nearly unhittable.  And the intangibles he brings to the team are priceless.

This is a guy who never gets rattled.  His drama-free attitude and generosity towards fans has endeared him to all who observe how he goes about his business.  If you do not love Cliff Lee, go to the doctor and make sure your heart is still beating.
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And then there is one of the newest Phillies, A. J. Burnett.  Tuesday night he pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing only 2 runs on 6 hits and a walk.  He also had 3 hits in the game!  The week before that, he pitched 7 scoreless inning against the Braves.  And he did all of this while nursing a painful inguinal hernia.

The fact that Burnett is willing to play through the pain is admirable.  And as long as he keeps pitching well, I have no problem with this.  But he is not just tough, he is also quite the jokester, as witnessed after his first hit last night.  After Yasiel Puig attempted to throw him out at first all the way from right field, Burnett turned and motioned with his hands to Puig to settle down.  There is a great GIF of this on Philly.com.  You gotta love a man with a sense of humor.

The Phillies other ace pitcher, Cole Hamels, is set to come off the DL and pitch tonight.  Could the Phillies actually have 3 studs in a row once again?  And, although I hate to say this too loudly, this team appears to be mostly healthy…gasp!  Shhhhh!  Don’t tell the universe…too dangerous.

Have you also noticed the improvement on offense?  The big 3 there, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins, are all hitting well.  And Ben Revere is heating up again, like he did last year before getting hurt.  The one thorn left in the Phillies side is the bullpen, which did actually hold up the last few games.  Keep your fingers crossed for that trend to continue.

If Lee, Burnett and Hamels can pitch like they are capable of, the bullpen will certainly benefit.  It starts with the starters.  Hamels gets his first shot in 2014 tonight at 10:10pm.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Rocky Mountain High and a Bunch of Lows

The Phillies just barely escaped Colorado last night with a win to avoid the 3-game sweep against the Rockies.  The first two games of the series were utterly pathetic as the Phils went down by scores of 1-2 and 1-3, respectively.  The Sunday night 10-9 win was a welcome sigh of relief.

The Phillies offense had been so bad going into this game, they officially recorded 131 at-bats in a row without an extra-base hit.  In baseball terms, that is an eternity.  And it was the worst mark for the franchise since 1968.

Not quite as awful as that, but still very bad, the Phils pitchers blew the lead in last night’s game 3 times.  And Roberto Hernandez still has yet to pitch a full 6 innings.  He was pulled from the game after only 75 pitches.  This is not promising.

Howard MountainsBut the better news is that Ryan Howard may have found his pre-ankle injury swing again.  He sort of, but not officially, hit for the cycle.  The last hit was not scored a double as many contend it should have been; it was marked as a single with a 1-base error.  The Phillies will appeal the call to MLB to see if they can get that double for Howard.  Honestly, I’d have loved it to be a cycle.  But I do not see MLB overturning the call…the outfielder should have gotten that ball.

Everyone else hit as well.  Jimmy Rollins had 3 hits and both Ben Revere and Marlon Byrd had 2 hits each.  Even more amazing, no one committed an error in the field.  Yippie!

Speaking of offense, remember way back on Opening Day when Cody Asche had 3 hits?  And the next day manager Ryne Sandberg sat him?  And then remember when I said what a bad idea that was, sending Asche the wrong message, killing his momentum, etc…?  Yeah well, guess who has had only 6 hits in his last 42 at-bats (the entire month of April)?  Yup, Cody Asche.  And he’s had only 2 hits in the very last 23 at-bats.  That is a .087 batting average.  Yikes.

Asche has been losing playing time as a result.  Obviously, that Game 2 benching may or may be contributing to the massive slump, but it is still an interesting observation.  The question now is, can he bounce back?  I have not yet heard if he will be in the line-up tonight against the Dodgers, but this is one story line you may want to keep an eye on.

Game time is 10:10pm EST.  Yuck…West Coast swings make me sleepy.  Hopefully, the Phillies offense will keep me awake!

 

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Howard Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Weird Week

The Phillies finally squeaked out a win against the Braves yesterday.  Whew!  But that 1-0 win was not the only oddity of the week.

For starters, the Phillies lost by the exact same score the night before.  Cliff Lee pitched a gem and the Phils could not bother to score a single run.  Ugh.  Here are a few other weird notes from the week:

-          A.J. Burnett, Thursday’s winning pitcher, claims that his newly formed hernia is helping him pitch better.  Maybe the offense should start straining themselves to achieve a similar injury and then they can score more than 1 run per game?  Genius!

papelbon gas-          Speaking of genius, Jonathan Papelbon does not see pitch velocity as an issue.  Granted, he has been much better of late.  But really?  Can I pitch then?  I can probably hit around 60mph on the gun and since speed does not matter, I should do just fine against major league hitters.  Put me in, coach!

-          In other Pap news, Crossing Broad had reported that the Phillies closer not only went off verbally on the media about his velocity, but that he actually aimed a fart in their direction.  Monty Python, Holy Grail fans are loving this (”I fart in your general direction!”)  If you have never seen this move, I highly recommend it.

-          In the same article, Crossing Broad also claims that Cliff Lee belched at the media.  It seems there is a lot of hot air in the Phillies locker room.

-          It looks like whoever yells the loudest really does win.  Because after Brewers manager Ron Roenicke complained that Logan Schafer’s 8th inning at-bat on 4/9/14 was not scored a hit, MLB overturned the error originally given to Ryan Howard.  Wow.

-          And while this is not Phillies news, I am sure all Phillies fans will enjoy it.  The new book, Yes, It’s Hot in Here: Adventures in the Weird, Woolly World of Sports Mascots, reveals that the Secret Service actually threatened to kill Mr. Met, the Mets bulbous-headed mascot.  Seriously.  That may be the best story ever in the history of baseball.  You will have to read the excerpt to believe it.

The Phillies start a 10 game West Coast road trip tonight against the Rockies.  Game time is 8:40pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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