Results tagged ‘ Shane Victorino ’

Together Again, Phillies Sluggers Turn Back Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

The Doc Is In: The Phillies Win

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photoshop by Jenn Zambri Photography

Can the Phillies Save Themselves?

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

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

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

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

Sadly, I believe the answer is no.

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Showing Signs of Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Post All-Star Break Baseball Starts on a Sour Note

If anyone was really hoping that the second half of the season was going to be a positive turning point for the Phillies, all hopes were dashed quickly after a depressing 6-2 loss to the Rockies last night.  But it really only took 1 at-bat to see that things were still not going well, as lead-off hitter Jimmy Rollins popped out to start the game.

Did you know that Rollins is in 5th place in all of baseball in fly-outs (does not include line drive outs) with 115?  Shane Victorino is in 7th place with 112.  Hey, at least they are in the top 10 of something, right?

Here are some more not-so-fun stats: Chase Utley has played the field in 9 games this year and has committed 2 errors so far.  The error last night led to an unearned run for the Rockies.  He is also batting just .216.  Ryan Howard, also fresh off the DL, is batting .182.  These guys need more time to adjust to playing every day, but time is running out fast…

The rest of this team, however, is out of excuses.  They are not hitting, playing bad defense and the pitching…well, that has been a disaster.  The bullpen imploded again yesterday as rookie Michael Schwimer gave up 3 runs.

Are you as depressed about this season as I am?  Not sure?  Here, take this test:

We are all pretty much out of reasons for hope at this point.  Now all we can do it hold our breath and wait for the other shoe to drop.  That shoe may collectively include losing Victorino, Cole Hamels, and according to a recent report, maybe Placido Polanco too.

No one really knows what is in store for this team, but we can reasonable surmise, it will not be good.  Continue tuning in to see the train wreck progress!  Game 2 with the Rockies starts at 8:10pm tonight.

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Phillies Stumble Into All-Star Break With Little Hope to Save Their Season

The Phillies were swept by the Braves today in a depressing 4-3 loss.  There was not even a little comic relief, as in Saturday’s loss when Hunter Pence bowled over 3rd base coach Juan Samuel while rounding the bases towards home.  That bit had everyone except Samuel laughing to the point of tears.

The only laughs today came before the game started:

After that, absolutely nothing was funny.  Even the presentation of All-Star jersey’s to Carlos Ruiz, Jonathan Papelbon and Cole Hamels was somehow lacking in enthusiasm.

And then fans learned that Shane Victorino was pulled from the line-up at the last moment, prompting rumors of a possible trade or injury.  But what actually happened, according to Charlie Manuel, was that Shane was feeling “down” and had “a lot on his mind…”  And so, Charlie took him out in favor of Jason Pridie.

That turned out to be the only good move of the day.  Pridie hit a 2-run homer and a double, which accounted for all 3 Phillies runs in the game.

Vance Worley battled through 6 innings, allowing 3 runs, which was a nice improvement over his last start where he have up 6 runs in 4 innings.  But despite the quality start, not much was going the way of the Phillies.

There were some nice defensive plays:

But the offense was lackluster, despite having both Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in the line-up.  The top 4 in the line-up went 1-for-16 collectively, although Jimmy Rollins did go 3-for-3 in pop-fly outs.  I am not sure that is a stat to be proud of, but at least he is consistent (note my sarcasm, in case you missed it).

Ultimately, Raul Valdes gave up a solo homer to who else, but Brian McCann, giving the Braves a 1-run lead that the Phillies failed to overcome.

So the Braves had a nice visit to Philly, complete with attempts to steal young Phillies fans.  Here is ex-Phil Chad Durbin and Dan Uggla before the game playing nice with one of the kids chosen for the traditional Sunday Starting 9:

Actually, it was very sweet.  But Durbin was always that kind of guy; his presence is still missed on this ballclub.

So the Phillies go into the All-Star break in the midst of a complete disaster.  They have won only 1 of their last 12 games and sit in dead last in the NL East, 14 games out of first.  Get ready fans; I am afraid change is coming, and not the good kind.

For a pleasant distraction, check out my Photo Album from the game; just pretend they win and the photos look even better!

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Dear Phillies, Please Stop Toying With Our Emotions

After two big wins over the Rockies on Tuesday and Wednesday, the Phillies failed to sweep the series with a loss on Thursday.  And the Rockies are a team they very well should have swept.

The first two victories gave fans hope that this struggling team might finally be getting their act together.  They played well and showed a winning attitude.  But last night’s disaster saw those hopes dashed and frustration set it once again.

It is not that they lost the game.  This is baseball; losses happen.  The issue is how they lost the game.

Let us begin by looking at the opposing pitcher, Jeff Francis.  This guy had a minor league deal with the Reds this year, who finally released him.  The Rockies picked him up and Francis had a 12.46 ERA in 2 starts for them coming into this game.  This is a guy that the Phillies should have absolutely pounded.

Instead, they left 7 men on base and went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.  Worse than that, the Phillies continue to fail to score runners from 3rd with less than 2 outs.  In the 2nd inning, Jimmy Rollins, who homered to start the game, popped out with 1 out and a man on third.  J-Roll had 2 pop-outs and a ground ball double play to go with his solo homer in this game.

Then in the 8th, the Phillies squandered a lead-off double by Ty WiggintonHunter Pence struck out swinging at a crap pitch…again.  Carlos Ruiz flied out and Shane Victorino popped out to end the inning.  Both Pence and Victorino walked back to the dugout to a chorus of boo’s from the frustrated fans who are tired of watching the same mistakes over and over and over…

As for the pitching, Vance Worley and his bone-chip plagued elbow were a bit shaky.  But he kept the team in the game and walked off the mound to a 2-1 score with the Phillies trailing.  Still, he did all he could.

But the bullpen failed once again.  Chad Qualls had a bad inning but escaped without allowing a run thanks to a good defensive play by Ruiz at home plate.  Still, Qualls heard the boo’s too as his season has been much worse than you would expect from a veteran bullpen guy.

The problem there is that the rest of the pen is mostly rookies who are clearly not ready for the bigs.  Between Jake Diekman and Michael Schwimer, the Rockies padded their lead to a 4-1 score.

Down by 3 runs in the 9th, there would be no comeback on this day as the Phillies went down in order.  Yes, right back to the old 2012 ways we have become so accustomed to this season.

A 3-game series with the Rays begins tonight and fans can only pray for a miracle.  Cliff Lee will try, once again, to get his first win of the season.  Game time is 7:05pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Phillies Stomp Rockies by a Toe Length

The Phillies won the second game of their series with the Rockies, not by a nose or even by the hair of their chins; they won by a toe.  It was Todd Helton’s toe, to be exact.

In the bottom of the 9th with 2 outs, the bases loaded and a tie game, Placido Polanco stepped to the plate.  He hit a bouncing grounder to short that looked like it might end the game.  It did end the game, just not in the way you might expect.

Polanco hustled down the line and, for some unknown reason, veteran Todd Helton suddenly forgot how to play first base.  He had the wrong foot back towards the bag and had to juggle his feet around.  As a result, his foot was not on the bag by about a toe length when Polanco crossed.  Polanco was safe, the runner on 3rd scored and the Phillies won in walk-off fashion.

I am so grateful to Helton’s toe that I decided to write a short poem about it:

Ode to the Toe
Oh, to the toe
Many thanks must go
Trying to save face
You danced around the base
Giving Polanco plenty of time
To get down the line
The winning run would score
As the crowd began to roar
So thank you little toe
We did so enjoy the show
-

The toe, however, was not the only star of the game.  The Phillies played with a lot of hustle and enthusiasm, which is something we have not seen too much of this season.

The 9th inning was especially nice to see because of the way the whole situation unfolded.  Back in the top of the inning, the Phillies were in a 5-5 tie game with Jonathan Papelbon on the mound.  As has been the case in non-save situations, Papelbon faltered and gave up a run.

Then down 6-5 in the bottom of the 9th, the first two Phillies batters went down fast.  With 2 outs, it looked like they were doomed.  And judging by the season so far, a comeback with 2 outs in the 9th almost seemed impossible.

But then something wonderful happened.  The Phillies fought back…finally.  This is the moment we have been waiting to witness all year long.

After Ty Wigginton singles, Hunter Pence came up with a clutch double; another rarity this year.  Even more impressive, Wigginton tore up the base paths, as if he had a psychic vision that he could go all the way.  Without hesitation, Wiggy actually scored from first base to tie the game, 6-6.

After Carlos Ruiz was walked intentionally, Shane Victorino found his happy place again and loaded the bases with a single.  Victorino beat out the throw from the short stop by about half of a second.  His hustle kept the inning alive.

And you know the rest; Polanco is safe by a toe!  Phillies win!

If the Phillies can keep the hustle going and sweep the Rockies tonight, there may be hope for this season yet…

Game time tonight is 7:05pm.

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Victorino photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Blue Jays Make Worm Meal out of Phillies in 3-Game Sweep

The Blue Jays pecked apart the Phillies in all aspects of the game throughout a 3-game sweep.  Today’s 6-2 loss was the bloodiest of the 3 as the Phillies seem to have laid down and accepted their fate.

Pitcher Kyle Kendrick started the game out by giving up back to back doubles to the Jays who took a 2-run lead in the 1st inning.  The massacre continued with Kendrick allowing 5 runs total over 6.1 innings.  Kendrick simply cannot repeat good pitches.  At one point, he had Jose Bautista down in an 0-2 count on two very sharp pitches.  But then he threw 4 straight balls and walked him.  There is no consistency and both Kendrick and the Phillies paid the price.

The only offense for the Phillies was 2 solo homers; one from Jim Thome and one from John Mayberry Jr.  Thome hit 4 homers during this road trip and Mayberry smashed 3.  Still, the rest of the team did little to help.  Of 8 hits today, 3 were Mayberry’s.  And Shane Victorino had 2 hits.  The excitement ends there.

Right now, the Phillies are a team with no answers.  They cannot hit; they cannot pitch; and with 11 errors on this 3-6 road trip, they cannot play defense either.  Yes, 11 errors in 9 games; you are not crazy, you read that right.

This has been about as much fun to watch as a 20-car pile-up on the freeway.  The Phillies have crashed and burned…repeatedly.

Monday is an off-day when, perhaps, some of these players can relax and clear their heads.  Tuesday they begin a 3-game series against the Rockies who are one of the few teams doing worse than the Phillies right now.  So that may be a small glimmer of hope…very, very small considering how things are going.  Cross your fingers…

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Kendrick photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Support Group: Get Cliff Lee a Win!

The Phillies beat the Mets on Wednesday night by a score of 10-6.  And while the offense finally produced some big runs, the hit parade did not actually arrive until after pitcher Cliff Lee exited the game.  You know what that means…still no wins for Cliff Lee.

It has been 8 starts and 2 months and poor Lee has been shut-out of the win column.  Carlos Ruiz tried to bust him out of winless jail by smacking a pinch hit 2-run homer in the 7th, but that merely tied the game.  The lead finally arrived in the 8th when Shane Victorino hit a sac fly to score Juan Pierre.  Sadly though, Lee was no longer the pitcher of record at that point.

And all those runs they pounded out in the 9th inning, including a Jimmy Rollins homer, also did Lee little good.  We can all agree…wins are good!  But how about sharing the cookies with a starving man?  Geez.

With that in mind, I have decided to start a support group for Cliff Lee.  As you can see, his teammates appear to be on board:

So let’s get to it, Phillies!  Get Cliff a freakin’ win already!

Thank you in advance.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

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