Results tagged ‘ Ryan Howard ’

Jimmy Rollins Goes West

J-Roll says hi crIt took the departure of Jimmy Rollins to wake me from my offseason slumber.  And it was indeed a rude awakening.  The trade of Rollins to the Dodgers signals the end of a Phillies era, which is sad.  It also seems that more big changes are on the way.

I do think the trade was the right move, but that does not make it any less depressing.  During his 15 years with the team, Rollins provided fans with exciting moments, frustrating moments and everything in between.  He became the team’s all-time hits leader, won an MVP and helped bring Philadelphia a World Series.  If you follow this team closely as I have done over the years, watching J-Roll head to the west coast is akin to a family member moving away.  Love him or hate him, life will never be the same without Rollins.

The Phillies Phollowers official mascot, J-Roll Smurf, was hit the hardest.  He immediately took to the phone to call his agent and make sure he was not also being shipped out.  A blue uniform would totally clash with his blue skin.  It is not a good look.  J-Roll Smurf then drown his sorrows in sugar by raiding the cookie jar.  I have assured him he will always have a home here, as will the real Rollins.

Smurfs

It has not yet been announced what the Phillies will get in return for J-Roll, but it is assumed to be two minor league pitchers.  The Phillies acquired another new pitcher yesterday when they traded Antonio Bastardo to the Pirates for another lefty, Joely Rodriguez.  Rodriguez went 6-11 with a 4.84 ERA in 30 games this past year with Double-A Altoona and is considered to be one of their top prospects.

The question now is who will the ax fall on next?  Many hope it will be Ryan Howard, but who wants him, really?  His contract is too large and his production too little.  Cole Hamels may be next, but the Phillies have to hit a grand slam with that trade if it happens or risk losing the fan base.  And I do not even want to mention Chase Utley…I cannot imagine a Phillies team without him.

We now wait and see what will happen next.  In the meantime, I wish Jimmy the best and hope the move works out for him.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri

Papelbon Implodes in Shocking Phillies Loss

The day started out so well.  It was sunny outside, people seemed happy…even Chase Utley was smiling on the field during warm-ups.  Anyone who follows this team knows what a rare moment that is.  It just seemed like a good day where a sweep of the Marlins was totally possible.  Heck, there was even breakdancing during the game!  It was all going well until the 9th inning…
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Before that frightening 9th inning, starting pitcher, David Buchanan pitched very well, allowing only 1 run on a solo homer through 6 1/3 innings.  Although, he did almost have his head taken off while attempting to bunt, which was a bit scary.
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But baseball carried on and the Phillies racked up hits, stolen bases and Ryan Howard even showed patience at the plate, drawing a walk in the 4th inning.
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I finally got to see Maikel Franco play in person.  He had an interesting day that included a broken bat RBI single where he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.  He also had this play at third where he bobbled the ball, recovered and still got the out:
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By the 9th inning, the Phillies had a 4-1 lead.  But then Jonathan Papelbon came into the game.  Granted, he has been mostly good all season.  And anyone can blow a save…it happens (unless it is 2008 and you are Brad Lidge).  When one blows a save however, that person should expect to get boo’ed.  In fact, that person should boo themselves for sucking on that occasion.  Instead, Papelbon decided to look into the crowd as he walked to the dugout and grab his crotch demonstratively in reply to the boo’s.  After the game, he said he was “adjusting” himself.  Really?  And he could not wait 10 more steps to do so?  I am not buying it.

His attitude just sucks.  And his response was way out of line.  After ejecting Papelbon for the gesture, umpire Joe West grabbed Papelbon by the shirt and shoved him.  I cannot wait to see the blow back from that…stay tuned.

So the Phillies will ride this smelly, stinky 4-5 loss all the way across the country to San Diego where they start a 4 game series with the Padres tomorrow.  For now, here is the Photo Album from today’s game which includes the happier moments.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

A New Staff Ace for the Phillies?

Is Jerome Williams for real?  After 3 starts with his third team of the year, Williams has 2 wins for the Phillies and a 1.77 ERA.  He has out-pitched everyone on the Phils starting staff, including Cole Hamels.  And on top of that, he even laid down a perfect safety squeeze in the 2nd inning, collecting only the 2nd RBI of his major league career.  Williams has officially resurrected his previously dead career.  And the Phillies went on to beat the Cardinals by a score of 7-4, taking 2 outs of 3 games in the series.
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Another bright spot in this otherwise miserable season has been Ben Revere.  All the Revere haters have now been silenced.  Despite his weak arm, Revere worked hard and has improved his defense and is also now batting .314.  He is in a 1st place tie for the best average in the National League with Justin Morneau.  Although he can be frustrating at times, I had faith in Revere because he is a positive guy who always hustles and gives his best effort.  The same cannot be said all of the Phillies outfielders.  Keep it up, Ben!  I am rooting for you!
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Speaking of the outfield, can anyone tell me WHY Domonic Brown is still starting?  Have we not yet seen enough?  Whether he feels he is or not, Brown appears lazy and distracted in left field.  His batting average is down to .226.  It is time to give someone else a shot…it has been time for a while now.   You have to wonder who is really calling the shots with the line-up; Ryne Sandberg or Ruben Amaro Jr.?  If it is Sandberg, I have to seriously question his judgment.  If it is Amaro, then Sandberg needs to stand up and explain to his GM that this is HIS team to run.  Because this is getting very old.

Aside from that annoyance, the Phillies offense finally put some runs on the board, which was a nice change for a Sunday afternoon.  Everyone except Ryan Howard had a hit and Jimmy Rollins smacked a 2-run homer.
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The Phillies start a 3-game series with the Nationals Monday night.  Maybe they can spoil the Nats 1st place fun?  In the meantime, here is the Photo Album from today’s win.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Where Did All the Fun Go?

After watching Cliff Lee walk off the mound last night in pain with another elbow injury, I was pretty depressed.  I was depressed earlier in the day after the Phillies did absolutely nothing at the trade deadline.  But this was a whole new level of sadness.  Because at that moment, I realized something; watching Phillies baseball just isn’t fun anymore.

Phillies TombstoneBaseball is supposed to be fun.  Remember when Roy Halladay said, “It’s only gonna get funner”?  Ah, memories…  Because where did all the fun go?  Even when the Phillies sucked back in the early 1990’ and early 2000’s, it was still fun to watch.  And on those teams, the players had fun playing, even when they were awful.  Remember in 2003 when a bunch of players dyed their hair bleach blonde?  They sucked…but it was fun!  I still had a good time going to those games.  But now, it feels like going to a funeral.  So why is it so different now?

I have come up with two reasons: 1) There was hope back then.  2) The 2008 World Series changed the landscape of Phillies baseball.

Phillies fans have lost hope.  Why?  Because the current incarnation of this team and their management have made the same mistakes over and over and over.  They refuse to make big changes and when they do make changes, the results are bad.  Go back to the Cliff Lee trade.  You know what the Phillies got for him…nothing.  Ok, count Phillippe Aumont if you must, but he is a head case who is going nowhere.  They traded Hunter Pence and got nothing.  Here are a few other not-so-fun names to remember…Freddie Garcia, Adam Eaton, the contracts of Ryan Howard, Jonathan Papelbon and others, no trade clauses, etc. And the list goes on…

When you do the same thing repeatedly, how can you expect different results?  You can’t.  And therein lays the total lack of hope.  As long as the same people are in charge and the same scouts are making bad decisions, nothing will change.  And that is truly depressing.

And about that 2008 World Series…the Phillies have been on a steady decline since they lost the series in 2009.  Phillies fans got a short taste of success and now, we expect it.  Maybe that is not fair, but such is life.

Frankly, the way they Phillies have raised ticket prices every year and cancelled events (like the Phan Fest at Spring Training), giving us less access to players, is also a sore spot for fans.  If you are going to take away some of my season ticket holder benefits, charge me more and give me less, then I EXPECT a superior product.  And in that way, I feel fans are justified in their rage.  Now that the team is awful, do you think ticket prices will go down?  No way…because they have to PAY for all of their mistakes and ridiculous contracts.  Or should I say, we the fans will pay?  Or we will just stop coming to games as many have done already.

Because why should I have to pay to attend a funeral?  Why should I pay to see players who are just as depressed as I am?  And there you have it…NO FUN.

If the Phillies want to bring back the fun, they need to fire everyone in the front office and all of the scouts and start over.  Give us something to look forward to.  Give us a little hope.  It is either that, or prepare to play to an empty stadium.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

 

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