Results tagged ‘ Shane Victorino ’

Another No Decision for Lee in Phillies Win

These are the kind of games that make me wonder why so much emphasis is put on pitcher wins and losses.  It is a flawed statistic.  Phillies starter Cliff Lee has a 2.82 ERA in 7 starts and NO wins through no fault of his own.  At least 5 of those he should definitely have won, but the offense did not help out.

Why is the win/loss stat still heavily relied upon when determining who should be an All-Star, an MVP or a Cy Young winner?  Lee is a prime example of why this should not be an influential factor in those decisions or in figuring who the top pitchers in baseball are.

You can then see why Lee is obviously frustrated as evidenced by an altercation in the dugout last night with Shane Victorino.  After two missed fly balls in the 4th inning, one by Victorino and one by Hunter Pence, the Cardinals took the lead in the game, leading to another no decision for Lee.

The two balls were lost in the twilight and probably not really anyone’s fault.  But the chain of events did emphasize a larger issue; this Phillies offense is wildly inconsistent and the starting pitchers are rightly annoyed.  In fact, assuming Lee spoke for everyone last night, I am glad they are annoyed.  It shows that they actually give a crap.  And maybe this little outburst will light a fire under the rest of the team.

Lee is frustrated more than most as he has received the least amount of run support.  And for a guy that has a reputation of being laid back and never getting rattled, seeing him tee-off on Victorino last night speaks volumes.  Clearly, he does care…a lot.

Victorino later made some great defensive plays to keep the Phillies within reach.  A solid relay throw to Freddy Galvis turned into an out at the plate in the 8th inning as Yadier Molina tried to bowl over Carlos Ruiz.  In his usual tough guy style, Ruiz held onto the ball despite the blow.

And Lee helped his own cause with 2 hits and huge run scored in the 7th where he went from first to home and looked good doing it.  After the play, Lee probably could have used some oxygen, but he was just fine.

That run tied the game, which went to extra innings.  And then Pence, who made the 2nd blunder in the outfield earlier, came out the hero with a 2-run homer in the 10th.  Jonathan Papelbon closed out the 5-3 win for the Phillies 3rd straight victory.

Game 3 with the Cardinals starts tonight at 7:15pm; Kyle Kendrick will start.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

A Wild One in St. Louis

This 4-game series in St. Louis looks like it is going to be a real adventure, especially after last night’s wild 10-9 Phillies victory over the Cardinals.  There was a lot of action in this one.

The Phillies got off to a hot start, scoring 6 runs in the first two innings, something they have been unable to do most of the year so far.  But the 6-0 lead was on shaky ground fast as pitcher Joe Blanton self-destructed for his second start in a row.

Blanton allowed hit after hit until the game was tied, 7-7 by the 5th inning.  Once again, manager Charlie Manuel left Blanton in too long and waited until he allowed the final 3 of those 7 runs that inning to pull him.  In his last 2 starts, Blanton has allowed 19 hits and 13 runs.  Ouch.  I guess it was too much to hope his hot streak would last very long :O(

The game ping-ponged back and forth after that, with the Phillies offense continuing to battle back.  Carlos Ruiz is still on fire and had 3 hits in the game.  Four players, including Ruiz, had 3-hit nights.  Both Shane Victorino and Freddy Galvis added 3 RBI each and even Mike Fontenot collected a pinch-hit RBI in a key situation.

And although the bullpen had some issues again, it was just that kind of night.  Both teams were hitting and the end result was going to depend on who pushed harder.  Ty Wigginton added the 10th run in the 8th inning with a solo homer, which turned out to be the game winner for the Phillies.

Game 2 starts tonight at 8:15pm.  Cliff Lee will pitch.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

An UnbeLEEvable Let Down

So this is what I get for being optimistic…a clunker from Cliff Lee.  Ugh.  The Phillies lost the 3-game series to the Red Sox today with a 5-1 loss.  Lee still does not have a win on the season, although the previous losses were not his fault.

The offense kept letting Lee down.  Today, it was Lee’s turn :O(  The first batter he faced smacked a home run to center, which was not a good omen.  Through 7 innings, Lee surrendered 5 runs, all of which came in the first 3 innings.  Lee found his groove after that, but it was too late.

The offense simply stunk again.  Lee created the most excitement at the plate with a double in the 3rd.  But while there was plenty of action at second base, the Phillies could not seem to find home plate.

Hunter Pence had two hits in the game and missed what may have been a third hit except that it was lined sharply to first.  I do not know why the Red Sox were belly aching about having less defense with David Ortiz at first base due to National League rules, because Big Papi snagged every ball that came his way.  He was quite annoying.

But Big Papi also had a little fun with rookie Freddy Galvis when they met at first base.  Galvis had one hit in the game and played amazing defense, like usual.  And now, he has been officially baptized in the majors as Ortiz appeared to razz him a bit.  Although the look on Galvis’ face in the photo to the far right below says about all you need to know about how this game went…

But do you want to know what the real problem with the Phillies offense is?  For starters, Jimmy Rollins has been quietly having an awful year.  He is batting .229.  Shane Victorino is not far off with a .253 average.  Essentially, all of the regular starters (meaning, those not on the DL) are underperforming while the “bench” guys or secondary starters are doing most of the damage.

Oh, and the other issue.  A photo is worth a thousand words (see photo to the right)…need I say more?

In the “good news” column, Jake Diekman appears to be back on track after one bad outing.  He was really sharp as he struck out the side in the 8th inning.

The Phillies squeaked out one run in the bottom of the 8th, but left the bases loaded…again.  They seem to be allergic to home plate.  Benadryl, anyone?  Ah-chooo!

And just in time, when the offense has begun to stink again, here come the Nationals…Game 1 is Monday night at 7:05pm.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Blanton Bombs Against Red Sox

Now that Phillies fans have all gotten used to seeing Joe Blanton in top form, I suppose he was due to throw a clunker.  Blanton had only given up 2 home runs all year, but last night, he gave up 4 in just one game against the Red Sox.

By the middle of the 4th inning, the score was 5-1 and Blanton had also already made two huge fielding errors in the game.  Clearly, this was not his night.  So when Pete Orr was on deck in the bottom of the 4th to hit for Blanton, I thought, great idea!  Let’s get some more runs and let the pen have a shot at shutting down the Sox.

Imagine my dismay when, after Freddy Galvis smacked a 2-run homer, Orr was called back to the dugout and Blanton went out to hit!  Really?  Those 2 runs meant Blanton would suddenly snap out of his funk?  I think not…

And sadly, I was correct.  I get that manager Charlie Manuel did want to rely on what has been an unreliable bullpen.  But if there was ever a time to give them a shot to redeem themselves, this was it.  Blanton looked awful out there and the insanity continued in the 5th inning.

Only after allowing 3 more hits, including a 2-run homer, was Blanton finally pulled from the game, having recorded only 1 out in the inning.  Buried in a 7-4 hole, the bullpen did actually get the job done after that, not allowing another run to score.  But by that time, the damage was done and the Phillies scored only one more run.

The offense had changes, but luck did not go their way.  Carlos Ruiz, the teams hottest hitter, was robbed of what should have been a 2-run double in the 7th by Ryan Sweeney, who suddenly grew wings, flew through the air and snagged Ruiz’s hit out of the air.  It was an amazing play.

In the 9th, Ruiz was robbed again as he smoked a ball…unfortunately, it went right to the shortstop and was caught.  The ball was hit so hard that Hunter Pence had no chance to get back to first and was doubled up.  Bad luck, indeed…

Later, Shane Victorino popped out on the first pitch he saw with the bases loaded in the 8th.  And that was the end of the threat as the Phillies went on to lose by a score of 7-5.

There were some bright spots, like Galvis’ homer, making it 2 games in a row with a bomb.  And John Mayberry Jr. reached base all 5 times he stepped to the plate for the first time in his career.  Hector Luna also had a great night with 3 hits and an RBI.

But mostly, the good news is that the Phillies never gave up, even when it looked like the game was out of reach.  This is something that we have all been waiting for this season…a little extra fight even when they are down.

They have another shot at the Sox today.  If they win, the Phils will take the series.  Cliff Lee is pitching and I will return with photos!  Game time is 1:35pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

From the Minors to The Moon: Extras Help Phillies to a Win

In a 9-2 win over the Cubs Wednesday night, 6 of those 9 runs were produced by pinch hitters.  Many of the “extra” pieces the Phillies picked up over the last few weeks contributed to the win.

Even the starting pitcher sort of came “off the bench.”  With no warning, Kyle Kendrick was thrust into the starting role when Vance Worley unexpectedly went on the DL with elbow soreness.  Kendrick has had a rough year being pushed and pulled from the bullpen to the rotation and back again.  But on this night, he managed to pull a great performance seemingly out of the air.

Kendrick allowed only 1 earned run through 6 innings and did walk anyone.  He also had an unearned run on a routine fly ball that Juan Pierre dropped in left field.  Luckily, that was the only major blunder for the Phillies that night.

It did not look like Kendrick would get much run support as the Phillies took turns leaving men all over the base paths, especially on third base with less than 2 outs.  Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence were the worst offenders with 7 and 5 men left on base, respectively.  Victorino did manage 1 RBI though while Pence, again, went hitless.

Freddy Galvis and Carlos Ruiz picked up their teammates, both with 2 hits in the game.  Ruiz is making a strong bid for an All-Star spot with his team leading .343 average and many clutch hits.

With a 2-2 tie going into the 7th, the Phillies bench came into play in a big way.  In his first Phillies at-bat, Mike Fontenot singled and later in the game, scored a run.  Ty Wigginton came off the bench in the 9th and gave the Phillies some breathing room with a 2-run single.

But the big blast came from the Moon Man, Hector Luna, in his first Phillies at-bat.  “Luna” means “moon” in several languages, including Latin, Italian and Spanish.  And Luna went straight to the moon with his first career grand slam in the 9th, giving the Phillies a huge 7 run lead.

Yet another new Phillie entered into the 9th as well.  Raul Valdes pitched the bottom of the inning and nailed down the 9-2 win without any drama.  The night before, Jake Diekman made his major league debut and got 4 outs to end the game, also minus the usual bullpen drama.  These two guys are at opposite ends of the spectrum: one is a rookie and the other an experienced veteran.  But together, they may signal very good news for this weak Phillies pen.

And this win is also very good news as the Phillies finally reach the .500 mark at 19-19 for the first time in weeks.  They have not been over .500 since Opening Day.  Perhaps they can accomplish that task tonight in Game 2 with the Cubs?  Game time is 8:05pm.

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Photoshopping by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hamels Returns to Help Phillies Win Series

The 5-game suspension Cole Hamels received for smacking Nationals rookie Bryce Harper with a pitch last week turned out to be sort of a joke.  With the off day on Thursday, the Phillies were able to rearrange the rotation, pitching Roy Halladay yesterday and Hamels today.  So as it turns out, Hamels did not even miss a start.

And the Phillies are sure glad he did not.  Hamels was solid in the 3-2 win over the Padres, allowing just 1 run and 5 hits over 7 innings.

The offense was a little stale, as usual, but they managed 3 runs.  This time, that turned out to be enough.  Jimmy Rollins got it started in the 1st with a leadoff homer.  Brian Schneider gave Carlos Ruiz most of the day off and helped out with 2 hits and an RBI.  Juan Pierre collected 2 hits, 1 RBI and continues to be the Phillies best hitter with a .351 average.  I am not sure anyone saw that coming when he won a spot on the team out of spring training.  But we’ll take it.

Hunter Pence, on the other hand, continues to struggle.  Pence looks lost at the plate.  He is still swinging at bad pitches, although he showed a little more patience today.  But he is pulling off balls; his body goes one way and the bat goes another way…it is very awkward.  And it is more awkward than his usual approach, which is almost hard to believe.

The bullpen finally held a lead in this one, although Jose Contreras did give up a run in the 8th making the situation very tenuous.  But Antonio Bastardo got him out of the inning without further damage.  And Jonathan Papelbon finally got to pitch for a save; it was his first save attempt since May 1st.

Before the game, the Phillies celebrated Mother’s Day.  Pierre’s mom, wife and son were greeted on the field and Pierre coddled and played with the infant, which was adorable.

And luckily, the warm fuzzies before the game translated into a win as the Phillies took 2 of 3 from the Padres.

The schedule for the remainder of May gets a little weird now.  The Phils will play 2 against the Astros then fly to Chicago for 2 games with the Cubs and return home again to face the Red Sox and Nationals before hitting the road again.  Game 1 with the Astros starts at 7:05pm Monday night.

Here is the full Photo Album from today’s game and pre-game warm-up’s and ceremonies.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Offense Squanders Another Solid Halladay Start

Against the Padres Saturday night, Roy Halladay put forth another great effort.  Through 7 innings, he allowed only 2 runs while working in and out of trouble.  This was the Halladay we are all used to seeing.

Unfortunately, the Phillies offense was also the one we are all used to seeing recently.  John Mayberry Jr. and Freddy Galvis teamed up in the 2nd to score the Phillies only run.  Shane Victorino had 3 hits and a walk, but little to show for it as he kept getting stranded on base.

The Phillies loaded the bases a number of times in this game and got nothing out of it.  Hunter Pence was one of the worst offenders; he struck out once and popped up when there was only 1 out in the inning and a sac fly would have scored a run.  Ty Wigginton was just as bad.  He came up to bat twice with the bases loaded; he flew out once and grounded out once.

Pence, who hit .314 last year, has been awful in 2012.  When asked about it, Charlie Manuel told reporters, “Now, what we do about it, I don’t know. You wouldn’t call him a disciplined hitter. He’s unorthodox. He’s the kind of guy who, if he sees it and thinks he can hit it, he swings at it. Right now you’ve got to kind of accept that and hope he gets good balls to hit.”

Really?  The answer is to accept that he swings at crap pitches and pray he stops getting crap pitches?  At this point, pitchers do not ever have to throw Pence a strike…ever.  He will swing at anything.  If someone tossed a pitch to the top of City Hall, he’d probably swing at that too.

Tonight, the Padres even walked Victorino to load the bases with one out and face Pence instead.  Pence did not disappoint the Padres as he popped up the first crap pitch he saw.

If Manuel is looking for answers. here is one: bench him.  I like Pence; he seems like a quality guy.  But if he is hurting the team, he needs to sit until he learns some discipline.  Put Juan Pierre and Mayberry at the corners and give Pence time to think about it.

So it came down to a 2-1 deficit in the 9th, which for this team, has seemed to be almost impossible to overcome, especially late in games.  Could the Phillies pull off a come from behind win in the 9th against one of the worst teams in baseball?

Imagine asking that question just last year.  No problem, right?  This year, not so much.  So as expected, the Phillies went down in the 9th and took the 2-1 loss.  And you will never guess who struck out for the last out with a man on 3rd…Hunter Pence.

Game 3 with the Padres will be at 1:35pm Sunday and I will return with photos.  I’d also like to wish all the Mom’s out there a Happy Mother’s Day!  I am hoping the Phillies can make our day with a win!  If not, I suppose flowers will have to do ;o)

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Pence photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Hitting Rock Bottom

You may have thought that the Phillies hit rock bottom days ago.  It was hard to imagine things getting much worse.  And yet, it did get worse.  After getting swept in 3 games by the Mets yesterday, I think we can officially say, here it is; rock bottom.

And it is not because they were swept by the Mets that this is rock bottom.  It is because of the manner in which they were beaten, or slaughtered, if you prefer a stronger term.  Murphy’s Law even entered the equation last night.  Anything that could go wrong did.

Through the first six innings, we saw a glimmer of hope.  The offense was hitting, Cliff Lee was pitching well in his first start off the DL; he even collected an RBI for himself.  But not wanting to push Lee too hard in his return, he was pulled after 6 innings.  From the time the 7th inning began, it was clear that the Phillies bullpen would pull out all the stops to LOSE the game.

Let me begin by saying I have never been impressed with Kyle Kendrick as a pitcher.  I am sure he is a fine human being, but his pitching usually leaves a lot to be desired.  He is inconsistent, he gets rattled easily and he wanders about with that awful, sad puppy look on his face.

And last night, he managed to impose the sad puppy face upon every Phillies fan watching the game.  With a 4-2 lead to start the inning, before he recorded a single out, Kendrick gave up a double, 2 walks and then hit the 4th batter to force in a run.  By the time the inning ended, the Mets had 3 more runs and a 5-4 lead.

But Kendrick was not done yet.  He gave up 2 more runs in the 8th without recording an out.  Jose Contreras helped him out and added a run of his own.  Then Brian Sanches gave up a solo homer in the ninth.  That is 8 runs out of the bullpen, 7 of them earned runs, which led to an embarrassing 10-6 loss.

The defense added to the humiliation as Shane Victorino dove for a ball which wound up flying right by him.  And Hunter Pence dropped an easy fly ball that was right in his glove.

Manager Charlie Manuel was so disgusted after the game, he finally ripped into the team.  Manuel said they needed to play better and prepare better.  The preparation bit is what was alarming.  Are these guys just strolling into the ballpark without getting ready physically and mentally?  That sure is what it seems like.

That would also confirm my theory that this team is not focused and an overall sense of complacency has set in.  Complacency or apathy could be occurring for a variety of reason including past success, arrogance about one’s abilities, off-field distractions, making a ton of money and the fact that many of these guys have already won the big prize.

While I would hate to think that about this Phillies team, the reality is that all of those factors may be playing a part.  As an example, you know who is the opposite of complacent?  A guy like Freddy Galvis, who is working his behind off.  Galvis was a homer short of the cycle last night, plus his defense and intensity are off the charts.  Why?  Because he has something to prove.  He is trying to stick in the majors, make a good impression and someday, get his payday.

Look around this team.  Are there guys who look a bit less focused than others?  You know how they say hitting is contagious?  Well, so is complacency.

I would say a number of changes are coming this team’s way in the very near future.  They have already sent reliever Joe Savery back to the minors.  Michael Schwimer went as well.  Here is what I think they should do:  If someone is not doing their job, like the entire bullpen, for instance, then bring in someone who will get it done or at least give you a complete effort.

I do not care if they stock this team full of rookies.  Because if they are going to suck, I’d rather see players out there who are giving it 100% and living up to their potential.  This team has spent way too much money on talented players to be this bad.  They need a shake up…fast.

Thursday is an off-day, which many of the players will spend at a Chase Utley charity event this evening.  But on Friday, the Padres come to town and they need to be ready.  Cross your fingers…

 

 

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Player photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

Umpires Rob Phillies of a Run Who Lose In 11 Innings

When the umpires become the big story of a game, something is very wrong.  But that is what happened in tonight’s Phillies – Nationals game starting immediately in the first inning of an eventual 4-3 Phils loss.

With the Nats 19-year old newbie at the plate in the 1st, the home plate ump gave him a walk on a check swing that was not a check swing.  Even without replay, you could see that Bryce Harper’s bat did cross the plate.

Understandably, Charlie Manuel was upset.  Because not only was the strike obvious, but there was NO umpire at third to call it due to Joe West being ill.  As a result, the remaining 3 umpires were on the defensive right away.  Manuel had barely yelled a few words from the dugout when the home plate umpire tossed him from the game without hesitation.

So the Phillies lost their manager in the 1st inning and the umpire disgrace rolled further downhill after that.  With Shane Victorino on 2nd base in the 7th, Carlos Ruiz smashed a ball right over the 3rd base bag that should have been an RBI double.  But again, with NO umpire at third, it was ruled a foul ball.  Seconds later, Victorino stole 3rd base and was called out even though he was never tagged.  Remember, there was NO umpire to see this so I guess they just tossed a coin.

Ruiz singled right after that, but no run scored because Victorino had been called out erroneously.  Essentially, the umpires robbed the Phillies of the same run twice!

With 3 huge blown calls, the manager ejected and an RBI taken away from the Phillies, the umpires were not done yet.  Because during the next 1/2 inning, the idiot who called Victorino out was seen vehemently defending himself to Victorino as he ran out to center field.  He actually appeared to be yelling at Victorino as he waved his hands around for emphasis.  Seriously?  YOU blow a bunch of calls and have the nerve to yell at the player?  Disgusting.

Calls started going against the Nationals too, although not game-changing.  With the exact same situation as the 1st inning and Harper at bat again, he was called out on a check swing in the 7th.  This time, he actually did not swing.

My question is this:  WHY can MLB not afford an extra umpire for when this happens again?  If someone gets sick, you have a replacement.  If not, he can sit in the booth and HELP by watching replays on close calls.  Give the umpires earpieces or radios and have the 5th ump call down with the correct call.

Because isn’t the most important thing to get the call right?  Or does MLB think catering to umpire egos is more important?  And if they don’t like the 5th umpire idea, then you HAVE to allow replay.  Blown calls should NOT be affecting the outcome of a game in the modern era.  Was no one paying attention when Jim Joyce cost a kid a perfect game with a blown call?

I hope these idiot umpires go back and watch film of this game and see everything they screwed up.  But I guarantee you this; none of them will feel anywhere near as badly as Joyce did after his blown call.  That man at least had the class and humanity to admit his mistake.  But aside from Joyce, when no one is held accountable for their actions, this will never change.

Granted, you cannot put all the blame for this loss on the umpires.  The Phillies offense squandered chances.  But they should have had a 4-3 lead going into the 8th inning.  Instead, they took a 3-3 ballgame 11 innings, blew out their bullpen and lost the game once reliever Michael Schwimer had gone 3 innings and his arm was ready to fall off.

There is always tomorrow, of course.  But that does not make this one suck any less.

Game 2 – Saturday, 1:05pm.

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Blanton Channels Halladay In Complete Game Shut-Out

Since Roy Halladay was unable to perform like Roy Halladay on Wednesday night, Joe Blanton decided to step in and give it a try.  Blanton did such a great Halladay impersonation that he managed to shut-out the Braves in a 3-hit complete game for a 4-0 Phillies win.

But maybe Blanton was not channeling the spirit of an ace pitcher at all; maybe this is just who Blanton is when he is actually healthy.  Either that, or maybe Blanton just needs to take every other year off and only play baseball during even-numbered years?

After a few tough years, Blanton has finally gone from an average Joe to an ace.  And after the previous night’s 11-inning 15-13 disaster that blew out both team’s bullpens, the Phillies pitchers really needed the boost from Blanton’s complete game.

The offense provide just enough offense to sneak out of Atlanta with a series win, 2 games to 1.  Shane Victorino and Laynce Nix both homered in the game and Hunter Pence added a sac fly.

The Phillies begin a 3-game series with the first place (gulp!) Nationals on Friday night.  Stephen Strasburg will pitch against Phillies fill-in extraordinaire, Kyle Kendrick (double gulp!).  Game time is 7:05pm…let the fun begin!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

 

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