Results tagged ‘ Ryan Howard ’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Doubleheader, Double Wins as Phillies Sweep Rockies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Case for Kevin Frandsen

In a 3-2 win over the Mets on Thursday, the Phillies’ newest 3rd baseman Kevin Frandsen went 4-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored.  In 107 at-bats this season, he is hitting a very hot .355.  His defense has been solid and rumor has it that he is great in the clubhouse as well.  So, what is the problem?

News reports, staff interviews and sports talk shows all say the same thing:  Frandsen is old, he is not an everyday player and this run he is on is just a fluke.  Frankly, I don’t get it.  Why are all these people so down on Fransden?  I say, give a guy a chance.

First, let us examine this claim that Frandsen is “old.”  He just turned 30 in May.  30 is not old, not even in baseball years.  The only other Phillies infielder younger than Frandsen is Michael Martinez, who will be 30 in 2 weeks.  Everyone else, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, all have at least 2 years or more on Fransden.  In fact, the average age of the entire team, including all the rookies, is 30.

Conclusion: Frandsen may be middle-aged, but he is not old.

And what about this notion of Frandsen not being an “everyday player?”  Frandsen had exactly 1 year, out of the last 7 seasons, during which he almost played everyday.  In 2007 with the Giants he hit .269 in 109 games with 31 RBI.  He then missed all of 2008 with a ruptured Achillies.  Since then, he has not been given another shot at being an everyday guy, except in the minors, where he hit for an average of .292 from 2009-2011 combined.

Frandsen is finally playing everyday and it is paying off.  He is the hottest hitter on the team right now.  So my conclusion on this topic then is, keep watching.  If he keeps this pace up through September, there should be no question that Frandsen can be an everyday player.

As to the charge that this is just a fluke, Frandsen has over 100 at-bats now.  That is obviously not a huge amount, but it is enough to make an initial judgment and .355 is not too shabby.  My conclusion here is the same as before: if he keeps going strong over the next several weeks, I don’t see at all how this is a fluke.  It seems to me that he is finally getting a shot and taking full advantage of it.

All these people need to quit hating on Frandsen and give the guy a chance!  He just might be an option at 3rd base next year.  He would certainly save some salary for the team.  Also, you can be fairly certain that, unlike Rollins and his recent episode, he is going to hustle every time out.

So what do you think?  Feel free to leave comments below.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Rosenberg Gets Schooled Again / Cloyd Is Called Up

The Mets took Phillies rookie B.J. Rosenberg to school last night as they roughed him up for 4 runs in the 10th inning.  The Mets went on to win and Rosenberg went back to the clubhouse sporting a 12.66 ERA.

As he entered the clubhouse, Rosenberg must have been given a “Baseball for Dummies” book as a gift.  Because in his post-game comments, he told reporters, “Everything was up. It’s pretty simple, you make really bad pitches to good hitters and you’re going to get in trouble.”  So it has taken 5 years in the minors, 13 games and 15 earned runs allowed in the majors and a beating by the Mets to figure that out?  I really hope he reads the entire book…

Ok, I am picking on the poor kid, I know.  He is still learning.  But in the meantime, it is frustrating to see a kid with a 95mph fastball tossing it right over the middle of the plate when he knows better.

Vance Worley had a lot of trouble too, allowing 4 runs in only 4 1/3 innings.  Why is Worley still pitching?  He has bone chips in his elbow and needs surgery.  Why not shut him down and get him healthy for next year.  Because he is not helping the team right now.

Worley says the elbow is not the issue, but can that really be true?  Anyone who has ever had an injury of any kind knows that if you play through it, you will inevitably compensate for that injury in some way.  If my right knee hurts, I lean more on my left knee, even though I know in a week or so my left knee is going to hurt as a result.  The only other option is not walking, which is not really a realistic option.  But it is worse with pitchers because when they compensate, they develop bad habits which can lead to new injuries like shoulder soreness.

Logic then tells us, get Worley off the mound…now.  Of course, I am not the GM so all I can give is my opinion.  Maybe the Phillies need a new book too.  Has anyone yet written, “How Not to Destroy a MLB Pitcher for Next Season for Dummies?”

So despite the Phillies starting this game with a Grand Slam from Ryan Howard and later, a home run from Chase Utley, they lost it 9-5 in 10 innings.

Now who will be the Mets next victim?  That’s right…another rookie fresh out of Triple-A.  Because Cole Hamels has a tummy ache (officially a “gastrointestinal illness”), Tyler Cloyd will make his major league debut tonight at 7:05pm.

Cloyd, named the International League’s best pitcher of the year, had a 12-1 record with a 2.35 ERA in Triple-A this year and a 1.80 ERA in Double-A over 4 games.  Despite all the hype, many “experts” say Cloyd does not have major-league stuff.  Well, we will find out tonight I suppose…best of luck to the kid!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Loose Another Wild One

Last night’s Phillies – Reds game looked like it might wind up being an exciting win for the Phils.  Instead, it was a loss, although it was still an interesting contest.

The Phillies took the lead in the game and then lost or tied it again 3 times.  Ryan Howard drove in a run in the 1st and that was all the scoring through the first 6 innings.  Cliff Lee was pitching well, but a slim 1 run lead seemed, as it has all season long, unlikely to hold up.

Sure enough, Lee got into trouble in the 7th and gave up 3 runs, although 1 was unearned due to a Howard error.  The defense behind Lee ranged from spectacular to awful, with the Howard error being of the “awful” variety.

But before that, Lee worked out of a 6th inning jam thanks to some amazing defense.  Kevin Fransden dove for a ball at third, flipped around on the ground and threw home from his knees to get a force out and save a run.  You have to see it to believe it.  It was an incredible effort.

Later in the game, Fransden shined again with another toss from his knees that bounced 3 times and still landed securely in Howard’s glove at 1st.  He also had 3 hits in the game with an RBI-triple in the 8th to once again tie the game for the Phillies.  If they had not lost, Fransden would have been the hero in this one for sure.

But Jonathan Papelbon tossed exactly 1 pitch in the 9th and gave up a solo homer and broke the tie in favor of the Reds.  The 5-4 score was the final.

So poor Cliff Lee gets yet another no-decision in what was a winnable game.  Lee was visibly upset and seen slamming his glove onto the bench in the dugout.  For a guy who normally shows little emotion, this was very telling.  Lee has had enough of this crazy season, as have we all.

And yet, time marches on…and so does this season whether we like it or not.  Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hamels Halts Phillies Losing Skid

Not much has gone right for the Phillies this year.  But at least we know that when Cole Hamels takes the mound, they at least have a shot at a win.  After dropping 3 straight, the Phillies collected a win last night over the Brewers, thanks in large part to Hamels.

Hamels cruised through 7 2/3 innings allowing only 1 run until 1 bad pitch in the 8th ran him out of the game.  The Ryan Braun 2-run homer was 1 of 4 home runs Braun has hit in this series…so far.  I am sure Braun, who was said to be in a slump prior to this series, was thrilled to see the Phillies come to town.  And just think, he may not be done yet.

Despite that annoyance, Hamels had a very solid game.  The 4-3 win was nailed down by closer Jonathan Papelbon, who got 4 outs to seal the deal.  Manager Charlie Manuel was criticized for not using Papelbon in a similar situation on Thursday night.  On Saturday, he did not make the same mistake again.

The Brewers had a couple base running blunders, which helped the Phillies out.  One guy got caught in a rundown and another did something a bit unusual.  With 2 outs in the third, Braun again smashed what should have been a double to deep left field.  But Jonathan Lucroy, who was on first base, missed second base and then stood like a deer in headlights instead of stepping on the base and continuing to run.  By the time Braun reached second, all he could do was throw his hands in the air at Lucroy who was still there, looking dazed.  Braun was out; inning over.  Oops.

As for the Phillies offense, John Mayberry Jr. knocked a 2-run homer in the 2nd, followed by a solo shot from Erik KratzRyan Howard doubled in the 3rd to give the Phils the go-ahead run.

The Phils get one more shot at the Brewers this afternoon.  And they will also get another look at wannabe starter Kyle Kendrick.  Can he repeat his last performance of 7 shut-out innings against the Marlins last week?  Game time is 2:10pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Walk-Off In Extras Nails Series Win for Phillies

The Phillies annual Alumni Weekend came to an end today with a huge series win against the World Champion Cardinals.  The 11-inning, 8-7 walk-off win was the cherry on top of a great weekend at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Vance Worley took the mound again, despite needing elbow surgery for bone chips.  The injury appears to be taking a toll on the Vanimal who struggled again, going 5 1/3 innings with 4 runs allowed.

The Phillies offense started off strong with 3 runs in the 1st on a triple from Chase Utley.  In the 4th, Ryan Howard added a solo homer.  But each time the Phils scored, the Cardinals answered and they took a 4-4 tie into the 8th.

With 3 errors in the game, the Phillies still had some nice defensive plays, and others that fell short.  The play at the plate below where Matt Holiday is called safe was a real bummer:

More disappointment was to follow as Michael Schwimer turned a 4-4 game into a 7-4 deficit for the Phils in the 8th, allowing the 3 runs on 3 hits and a walk.

But just when it looked like the game was over, Erik Kratz got up to his new-old tricks again.  With 2 runners on and 2 outs in the bottom of the 8th, he smashed a home run to left to tie the game up again.

But Kratz was not done yet…  In the 11th, he started off the inning with a double.  Sadly, the double was erased when Jimmy Rollins, who had the day off prior pinch hitting in the 8th, hit into a fielder’s choice.  J-Roll later redeemed himself by stealing 3rd, which turned out to be the key to winning the game.  Juan Pierre hustled down the 1st base line to beat out an infield single which scored Rollins for the walk-off win!

Pierre has been one of the few bright spots for the Phillies this year.  It is hard to imagine not resigning him in the offseason, but that drama will play out later…

As for the Alumni in attendance, they had a lot of fun, especially Mike Schmidt who shot hot dogs into the crowd.  You will have to see it to believe it:

There were many other appearances as well, including John Kruk announcing the line-ups,  Dick Allen and Tony Taylor changing bases, and eight former Phillies, including Larry Andersen, Gary Matthews, Ricky Jordan, Ricky Botallico and Von Hayes singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on the field during the seventh-inning stretch.

Botallico, always an amazing sport, even wore the Phanatic’s jersey to entertain the crowd.

Here is the full Photo Album from the game.

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

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

Phillies Pitching Frustrating Once Again

The Phillies lost in spectacularly bad fashion by a score of 12-6 against the Braves last night, losing the 3 game series.  Kyle Kendrick went only 3 1/3 innings while giving up 6 runs on 7 hits and 3 walks.  Kendrick looked like he was sleepwalking through the game.  He was awful.

The only thing worse than Kyle Kendrick’s pitching was his post-game interview.  Nearly all of Kendrick’s stammerings after games give off an uncalled for air of righteous indignation, which is infuriating.  Last night, he dropped this gem on the press: “I guess that’s how it is with me. It’s been, ‘What have you done for me lately?’.”

Aww, poor baby.  Are those mean people picking on you, Kyle?  Seriously?  His reaction to totally sucking is to point out that people are unhappy when he sucks?  Please excuse me while I vomit…

The most irritating part about Kendrick is that we all know he can pitch.  We have seen him do it.  But when he goes bad, he goes really bad and it almost seems as if he could care less.  And so continues our ongoing frustration with Kendrick.

But even after those 6 runs, the Phillies battled back.  Jimmy Rollins led the game off with a homer.  Kevin Fransden had 2 hits and some nice plays at 3rd base.  And Ryan Howard mashed a 3-run homer in the 5th to tie the game up.

However, mega frustration #2 showed up again after that: Antonio Bastardo.  This kid should NOT be pitching in the 8th inning anymore.  He clearly has lost whatever mojo he had last season.  Bastardo gave up 3 more runs and then Josh Lindblom, newly acquired from the Dodgers, tacked on 3 more.  Disgusting.  Especially after the offense battled back like that, this was a serious kick in the gut.

The Phillies will have the day off today to wallow in this sickening loss before having to face the World Champion Cardinals on Friday.  We can only hope that series will be better than this one.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hamels Ends Losing Streak Against Braves

It appears that Cole Hamels has found his groove again, and just in time to end a long Phillies losing streak against the division rival Braves.  Prior to Tuesday night, the Braves had won 7 straight against the struggling Phils.

But once Hamels snapped out of his pitching slump, he made easy work out of Atlanta’s line-up.  He pitched a 5-hit, complete game shut-out with 6 strike outs and no walks allowed.  Yes, Super-Hamels has returned to his $144 million dollar form.

Ryan Howard also channeled his younger, healthier self with a 2-run bomb in the 1st inning.  The Big Piece is indeed still in there somewhere, which is a very good sign for next season.  Once his Achilles is fully healed, Howard should be getting right back to making opposing pitchers cry.

And Domonic Brown continues to show he belongs in the majors, along with a few flashes of why it has taken so long.  Brown hit a double in the first, right before the Howard homer, and he also worked a walk later in the game.  Brown played solid defense, but also made some base running errors.  The double was really a single that he stretched out, but he would have been thrown out if the fielder had not dropped the ball.  Brown also failed to tag on a long fly ball to center in that same inning.  So there are still some growing pains, but overall, things are looking up for Brown.

And of course, Erik Kratz continues on his torrid pace at the plate.  With 2 hits again last night, Kratz is now hitting .406 in 32 at-bats so far.

So while 2012 is a wash, the future may potentially be looking a bit brighter.  Game 3 with the Braves starts tonight at 7:05pm and Kyle Kendrick will pitch.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

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