Results tagged ‘ Ryan Howard ’

Brown’s Bombs

Hitting five homers in his last four game, Domonic Brown is on fire…and it is about time.  The Phillies have been waiting for Brown to explode and reach his potential for years now.  It looks like he may be right on track now.

Fresh off his first Player of the Week honors, Brown may now be in the running for Player of the Month.  He has been the one bright spot in an otherwise drab Phillies season so far.  Brown’s efforts have helped the Phillies win the last 2 games against the Red Sox, but can the Phillies keep up the pace?

The team lost another player yesterday due to a family issue; Michael Young was placed on the bereavement/family emergency list and will be gone 3-7 days.  There was no clarification beyond that.  And Chase Utley is progressing slower than everyone had hoped after an oblique injury.  With many other Phils on the DL as well, it will not be easy for this team to keep their heads above water.

Brown’s recent performance has been a big boost.  Erik Kratz looks like he is finding his groove as well.  But clutch hitting on this team is still not happening much.  With 1 out and the bases loaded last night in the 7th, Ryan Howard struck out and John Mayberry Jr. then popped out.  With 1 out and 2 runners on in the 6th, Freddy Galvis ended the inning by hitting into a double play.  These examples are the exact opposite of clutch hitting and sadly, it happens more often than not.

Last night’s win was the result of good pitching and 4 solo home runs.  I stress the “solo” part because no one seems to want to hit with runners on base.  For example, the Phillies had 4 stolen bases in the game, but none of those runners scored.  The team left 8 men on base and went 0-6 with runners in scoring position.

Still, it was a win so we’ll take it.  But Brown’s bombs are not going to carry a team; he is going to need a tad more help.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Big Questions About the Big Piece

The Phillies have lost 3 of their last 4 games and there are still more questions about this team than there are answers.  Perhaps the biggest question right now is about the Big Piece, Ryan Howard.

Take a look at the timeline for Howard this past week and a half:

Howard had a cortisone injection on May 19th; he was back in the line-up May 21st and feeling better.  By May 23rd, he needed a break again.  He started the next 2 games and went 1-8.  On May 26th, he sat out, but pinch hit into a double play later in the game.  And last night against the Red Sox, Howard was visibly uncomfortable; he went 2-5 with a double play and a huge base running blunder where he got picked off at 2nd base.  He appeared to be having great difficulty running.

All of this is very bad news.  The MRI Howard had showed inflammation and changes in the meniscus, which basically means he has cartilage tears.  If the cortisone injection lasted only a few days before he felt discomfort again, the options for treatment during the season will be limited.  And he will be doing further damage to the cartilage as the season progresses and he continues to pound that knee.

And the plot thickens: According to manager Charlie Manual, “He has some arthritis. It comes and goes in his legs. He’s going to always be bothered by that.”  Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease which has no cure.  It can be caused by wear and tear as one gets older, or it can result from an injury.  In Howard’s case, it could be due to the extra stress on his knee after his Achilles surgery.

Whatever the cause, it is beginning to look like Howard’s 5-year, $125 million contract is going to be one of the biggest bust’s in baseball history.  With all the recent injuries, plus the arthritis, Howard will likely never be the same player again…at least, not the one they paid $125 million for.

And with the way this team is currently constructed, having neither Howard nor Chase Utley (currently on the DL with an oblique strain) healthy spells disaster.  There is no way, with the age and the injuries on this team, that the Phillies can contend.

Remember all of the criticism Spring Training that that this team was too old and too injury-prone to win?  Remember Howard’s response to that criticism?  He told the media, “Just don’t be surprised,” basically saying that they were going to prove all the critics wrong.

Well, it is May 28th; the Phillies are in third place and have lost 3 of their last 4 games in spectacularly bad fashion.  The following key players are all on the DL: Utley, Roy Halladay (will miss at least most of the year), Carlos Ruiz and John Lannan.  There are 2 rookies pitching in the rotation.  The bullpen is horrible.  The offense is non-existent.  The fielding errors and base running blunders are piling up.

As much as I hate to be a pessimist, stick a fork in them; I believe this team may be done.

Although, Howard is certainly welcome to prove me wrong…

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Spit-Gate, Injuries and Other Depressing Phillies News

The Phillies looked like a shell of a team last night against the Miami Marlins, who are possibly the worst team in all of baseball.  Leave it to the Phillies to make them look like All-Stars.  Ugh.

When Domonic Brown smacked a home run in the second innings, it looked like the Phils might have carried over some momentum from Sunday’s dramatic walk-off win.  But that was the end of the momentum and the beginning of Spit-Gate.

Marlins pitcher Alex Sanabia entered Monday’s game with a dismal 5.00 ERA and a 2-6 record.  After the Brown homer, Sanabia apparently thought some cheating was in order.  He was caught on camera spitting on the ball and did not make any attempt to hide it.

First of all, this is just gross.  It is also against MLB rules.  But did it really affect the Phillies hitters?  Probably not too much…they have basically sucked all season long.  However, it did add insult to injury in this very unsettling loss.

Even Cole Hamels could not hide his emotions as he slammed his glove around on the Phillies bench after his outing.  And after the game, he did not speak to reporters.  I believe Hamels is feeling the same frustration we all are; specifically, WHY can’t this team score runs?!  Poor Hamels is now 1-7 on the season.  Last year, he had 6 losses for the entire season…already this year, not even half way through the season, he has that total beat.

Two runs allowed in 6 innings should get you a win…unless you are on the Phillies, apparently.  Making matters worse, this team is now riddled with injuries.  Carlos Ruiz came back after his suspension to play only 16 games before being put on the DL with a strained hamstring.  Mike Adams is on the DL with a bad back.  John Lannan is still on the DL with no expected return date being reported.  And now Ryan Howard has sat out 2 games in a row with a sore knee and possible a torn meniscus.

And at least half of the bullpen may as well be injured; they might actually pitch better.  Because our healthy pen cannot stop runs from scoring.  Phillippe Aumont gave up 2 more runs last night and has a 4.15 ERA, plus many inherited runners have scored on him.  Pretty much everyone in the pen is guilty of that too.  And check out some of the other ERA’s: Chad Durbin, 8.10; Jeremy Horst, 5.09; BJ Rosenberg, 20.25 (1 game).  Yikes!

As all the crap keeps piling up on this team, it is going to be harder and harder for them to dig their way out of the heap.  And I do not want to hear anyone else talk about how it is still early in the season.  As far as I am concerned, it is never too early to play winning baseball.  And thus far, this team has not shown they can do that.

Game time tonight is 7:10pm; Tyler Cloyd will pitch.

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Photo via NBC Sports

West Coast Winds of Change

In only a few short days, many things have changed for the Phillies. Roy Halladay was placed on the DL with what is still a mystery injury. The entire team appeared lifeless and ready to give up. Then a cross-country road trip suddenly gave the Phillies unexpected energy. They have taken the first 2 games of this series against the Giants who were the hottest team in baseball coming into this series.

So is this the team we have waited to see all year, blown in by the western winds of AT&T Park? Or is this another 2-game mirage? Let us examine the evidence:

Both games ended in a 6-2 score. Both Chase Utley and Michael Young have 4 hits each and at least 2 RBI in the series. Utley, Ryan Howard and Dom Brown each homered. The pitching was very good.

On the other side of the coin, the Phils still left 16 runners on base total between the 2 games. Jimmy Rollins only has 1 hit and a sac fly. Delmon Young is hitting .150. Yikes! The other Young still loves hitting into double plays; he leads the majors with 10.

So, mirage or the real deal? Sadly, there are still too many inconsistencies and guys not getting hits to go with “real deal” just yet. But finishing the series with a sweep today would certainly be a huge boost.

Jonathan Pettibone will pitch today at 3:45pm. In other news, Tyler Cloyd has been called up to temporarily take Halladay’s spot in the rotation. The Phillies are expected to make a corresponding roster move Thursday or Friday.

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Two Wins and Some Verbal Fireworks

After getting destroyed by the Indians earlier this week, the Phillies have won their first 2 games against the lowly Marlins.  Both Kyle Kendrick and rookie Jonathan Pettibone pitched well and the offense even managed to score some runs.  Ryan Howard and Domonic Brown hit home runs in each of the 2 games.

But keep in mind, all of this was against the smelly Fish, who did not have their best little fishy, Giancarlo Stanton, in the line-up.  With an 8-22 record, this team sucks.  So please excuse me for not being too impressed with these wins.  The Phillies beat bad teams in April as well, but they did not beat too many good ones.  So if they finish out this series strong and then give the San Francisco Giants a big-boy spanking, then I might be a little more excited.

What was sort of exciting this week was reading all the stories about the verbal spat between Phillies pitching coach and former-Phil’s closer turned baseball analyst, Mitch Williams.  Apparently, Rich Dubee yelled at Williams in Spring Training for trying to interfere with his pitchers.  Then this week, Mitchy-Poo went off via the WIP radio show on Dubee for not helping Phillies pitchers fix their mechanical issues.

There is nothing like a good dose of man-on-man hissy-fit drama early in the morning…yum!

But the best part was yet to come…When asked about Mitchy-Poo’s comments, Roy Halladay came to Dubee’s rescue like a knight on a white horse.  A normally reserved Halladay called Williams, “the mechanical wonder,” and said he was “completely out of line.”  Doc even demanded that Williams “make amends” for his criticism of Dubee.

And in his usual no-nonsense/smarty-pants style, Dubee suggested that Williams “submit a resume” if he wants to be a pitching coach.  Oh my.

I’ll say this about it, having spoken to both guys in the past on a variety of occasions.  Mitchy-Poo is a guy who, right or wrong, always speaks his mind.  I have a great deal of respect for him in that regard.  He speaks from his heart.  Dubee is very similar; he does not take crap from anyone and will always tell it like it is.

Once in the bullpen at a charity event, Dubee was showing me how to toss a fastball.  I quickly realized I had forgotten to take a ring off that I was wearing.  In order not to remove my glove and be quick about it, I pulled the ring off with my mouth, spit it into my palm and shoved in my pocket.  Dubee folded his arms, grinned and said, “What, you can’t toss a pitch with that rock on your finger?”  He then made a sarcastic comment about me trying to throw a spitball.  After that, I was videotaping him working in the pen with someone else, and he asked me if I was going to use that video against him later.

Dubee loves a good joke; he is a naturally funny guy, whether he is trying to be or not.  And he treats everyone the same, which I love about him.  I did not want to be babied in the bullpen just because I was a girl and I was not disappointed.

So maybe Williams should not be butting in with Phillies pitching, but then again, he is just doing his job as an analyst.  And Dubee is doing his job, protecting his players.  Both are good guys with good hearts.

In that case, who is right and who is wrong is sort of a mute point.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion.  However, I do think this little drama might inadvertently be a very good thing for the Phillies.  If Phillies pitchers want to defend the honor of their pitching coach, there is only one way to do that effectively…win!

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Head shot and photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hamels Gets 1st Win as Chooch Returns for Sweep of Mets

Perhaps it is fitting that Cole Hamels did not get his first win of the season until the day Carlos Ruiz returned from a 25-game suspension.  Throughout the weekend, the Phillies suddenly began to show signs of life.  Maybe a lot of that had to do with the anticipation of Chooch’s return.

After losing 3 of 4 to the Pirates, the Phils proceeded to storm New York and sweep the Mets in 3 games.  Kyle Kendrick shut them out on Friday and Jonathan Pettibone collected his first major league win on Saturday.  Then Sunday afternoon, Hamels held the Mets to 1 run to complete the sweep.

While Ruiz did not have a huge impact on the game, going 1 for 4, his mere presence did seem to have everyone in high spirits.  The game was tied 1-1 going into the 7th; in previous games, this lack of offense would have had the entire team tied up in knots, pressing at the plate.  But today, everyone was a little more relaxed.

That 7th inning was the key; Laynce Nix came through again as a pinch-hitter with a 2-out single and Jimmy Rollins followed with a single of his own.  Then Ryan Howard, who did not start the game, smacked a 2-run, pinch-hit double to put the Phillies on top.  Chase Utley singled to score Howard and add to the lead.

Even the bullpen finally looked normal.  Antonio Bastardo, Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon each pitched a scoreless inning to nail down the 5-1 win.  This is the team we have all been waiting to see.  The question is, can they keep the momentum going?

Monday is an off day and Tuesday, the Phillies will be in Cleveland to take on the Indians at 7:05pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Kendrick’s Complete Game Shut-Out Ends Losing Streak

It’s a bird!  It’s a plane!  No!  It’s Super-KK!  What a relief for the Phillies after dropping 3 straight games to the Pirates, to see Kyle Kendrick pitch a gem against the Mets.  The 4-0 win came just in the nick of time, before this team spiraled way out of control.

In the complete game shut-out, Kendrick allowed only 3 hits and a walk.  He kept his cool, even after the home plate umpire suddenly ran off the field in the first inning.  Umpire Brian O’Nora apparently took ill and Kendrick was left standing around on the mound around 9-10 minutes waiting for Adrian Johnson to get his home plate gear on.

The delay did not deter the mighty Kendrick.  And by some small miracle, the offense actually scored some runs for him.  The Phillies had been leaving runners all over the base paths lately.  But tonight, they finally came through in the clutch.

In the 6th inning, Michael Young took a break from hitting into double plays for a change and actually singled to score Jimmy Rollins.  Then Ryan Howard did what we have been waiting for him to do for weeks and broke the game open with a 3-run bomb to center.  Whew!

With Kendrick firing bullets at the Mets, those 4 runs held up.  But can the winning continue with a rookie on the mound tomorrow?  Jonathan Pettibone takes the mound at 1:05pm tomorrow for his second major league start.  Good luck!

 

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Drama Ensues in Phillies Win Over the Cards

A 7-3 win for the Phillies over the Cardinals on Sunday night ended the series with each team taking 2 out of 4 games.  It was a very long game, on a very cold night with a virtual buffet of interesting and weird happenings.

It all began with the Phanatic’s birthday bash/movie premiere (Time Traveling Phanatic DVD) which was highlighted by faux Hollywood stars and actors from the movie.  I am sure all the parent who brought, or were going to bring, their kids to this fun event were less than thrilled about ESPN moving the game from 1:35pm to 8:05pm on a school night.  The fun went on, but there were not too many people there to see it.

Then Kyle Kendrick took the mound and, once again, he struggled early.  But Kendrick seems to have this routine down now; he tosses a boat-load of pitches early, gets in and out of trouble and eventually comes out with a quality start.  In this case, he allowed only 2 runs in 6 innings.  The extra drama does seem to motivate him lately.

The Phillies looked like they might get their bats going again in the first inning.  Starting with a Jimmy Rollins triple, they scored two runs.  But that inning also launched a very strange night for Chase Utley.  Apparently forgetting there was only one out, Utley ran from second to home on a fly ball by Michael Young and was doubled up before he even realized the blunder.

The Utley Sunday night adventure did not end there.  He later ran past second base on a ground-rule double, thinking it was a home run when it actually just bounced over the outfield wall.  And then Utley threw away a fairly routine ground ball in the 7th which sailed past Ryan Howard.   That same runner later scored, giving the Cardinals a 3-2 lead.

Utley did have 2 hits on the night, but where his head was all night long is a mystery.  Perhaps he was just getting it all out of his system and will now be error-free the rest of the year?  One can only hope…

The crowd was restless most of the night.  The game was dragging (3 ½ hours long!), it was getting colder and later, the defense was not great and the offense died again after that run in the first inning.  Both Young and Ben Revere hit into double plays to kill rallies.  People were shouting not-so-nice things at players all night long.  It was a bit depressing.  This team has not given fans a lot to cheer about lately.

But the Phillies finally found redemption in the bottom of the 8th inning; the biggest redemption was for Revere.  With 1 out and runners on the corners, Revere singled to center to put the Phils ahead.  Catcher Erik Kratz, who was batting a paltry .192 coming into the game, then smashed a 3-run homer to give the Phillies a 7-3 lead which led to the win.  Whew!

In other weird news, the Phillies have called up 22-year old Jonathan Pettibone to make a spot start tonight since John Lannan is on the DL.  This is weird because, in 2 starts this season in Triple-A, Pettibone has a 9.64 ERA.  I guess there was no one else available?  It should be an interesting night; either he will get destroyed very early by the Pirates or he will totally surprise everyone.  Good luck to him!

And here is the full Photo Album from Sunday’s game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Halladay Finds His Mojo Against the Cards

The Roy Halladay we have all been waiting to see returned last night in an 8-2 win over the Cardinals.  It began with his last start against the Marlins and then Friday night, he continued to improve in an impressive 7-inning effort.

The game was called due to rain after the 7th, so this will go in the books as a complete game for Halladay.  He allowed only 2 runs, both solo homers.

But the really encouraging part was seeing Halladay get angry.  Not the fiery red-faced, frustrated sort of anger; this was his old competitive fire, finally burning once again.  He got mad in situations that most would just shrug off; for example, Ben Revere made another amazing catch in center field, but Halladay was visibly annoyed that the batter was able to hit the ball that hard, even though it turned into an out.

Halladay also had no issues trying to intimidate first-year major league umpire, Alan Porter, by staring him down or barking at him when he didn’t get the call he wanted.  Porter had blown a fair/foul call the day before that put the Phillies in a hole, so no one was sad to see Roy giving him a hard time.

Seeing Halladay back to his old, grouchy self is a very positive sign.  For some pitchers, this might mean the guy is getting frazzled; but for Halladay, being grouchy means he is on his game, ready to compete.  When good is not good enough for the Doc, you know he is feeling confident.

Just as exciting as seeing Halladay find his mojo again was seeing the Phillies offense finally get some hits.  The Phils busted out for 5 runs in the first inning, which was triggered by Chase Utley drawing a 2-out walk.  And thank goodness someone walked, because I was getting beyond tired of hearing every single sports reporter whine about the lack of walks.  Now they can all get back to whining about Ryan Howard

Howard did not play last night due to a sore groin and he is day-to-day.  Kevin Frandsen filled in at 1st base and drew the 2nd walk of the game for the Phillies and scored twice.  Freddy Galvis started his second consecutive game in left field and made one of the weirdest diving catches you will ever see.  His hand actually did a 360-degree turn on the ground, with the ball in the mitt.  Of course, I cannot find a video of it anywhere…but it does look like we may have another outfielder.  This guy looks like he can play anywhere…amazing.

So the real question tonight is will the Phillies offense come to play two days in a row?  Cliff Lee hopes so; he takes the mound at 7:05pm tonight.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

A Tale of Two Pitchers

While Cliff Lee is pitching like a man at the peak of his career, Roy Halladay seems to be in a free fall.  With an 8-3 pounding of the Mets last night, Lee has started the season off with a 2-0 record.  Halladay, on the other hand, has begun with 2 awful losses.

Even the offense seemed pumped to perform for Lee.  The Phillies even hit 3 home runs in 1 inning to support their ace on the mound.  Ryan Howard, Michael Young and John Mayberry Jr. all went yard for the first time this year.

Lee gave up only 2 earned runs and nearly pitched a complete game, coming just one out shy.  Manager Charlie Manual decided his pitch count was high enough at 106 and had Mike Adams finish off the game.

On the exact opposite side of things, Halladay looks like a little lost boy out on the mound searching for home.   His 2-7 loss to the Mets on Monday was especially difficult to watch.  Halladay allowed 7 runs in only 4 innings before being chased out of the game.  The Mets looked like they were taking batting practice off him.

Obviously, there are a lot of problems here.  But I would like to point out one issue that I have not heard anyone else mention.  Keep in mind, I am not a doctor and this is just an observation on my part; I have no inside knowledge here.  The Doc looks like he needs a doc.

The temperature at game time on Monday was 72 degrees, which dropped into the mid-60’s by the 2nd inning.  And yet, Halladay was sweating so profusely that it looked like rain coming off the brim of his cap.  His face was not just red; it was almost purple.  And this is not a new observation.  Halladay has been exhibiting the fire-faced sweats since Spring Training.

During the spring, they blamed it on the flu or some kind of virus.  I think it is safe to assume he no longer has this virus.  Still, in 65 degree weather, at night, Halladay looked like he might pass out on the mound.  This is a problem that I think might go beyond age or mechanics.  I am seriously beginning to think he may be ill.

I could be totally off base here, but I am worried about the guy.  I cannot help but wonder if the medical staff has done any blood tests or if a proud man like Halladay would even submit to such testing?

This very well could just be Father Time catching up to a man who dominated the pitching world for so long.  Maybe he is just out of bullets.  Maybe the fire-faced sweats are just a combination of the usual work that goes into pitching and a boat-load of stress.  And maybe he will figure out how to locate his pitches again and all will be well with the world.  I hope that is the case.

Perhaps I am just grasping at straws here for an answer.  And I am sure no one wants Roy Halladay to figure out what the issue is more than Roy Halladay.  In the meantime, all we can do is watch and hope for the best.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

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