Results tagged ‘ Tony Gwynn Jr. ’

Phillies Win Series Amidst More Home Plate Rules Controversy

The Phillies took 3 of 4 games from the Dodgers this week, ending with last night’s 7-3 win.  The only game they lost was in Cole Hamels’ return from the DL.  Hamels pitched well, but once again, the bullpen blew the lead.  Ugh.

Yesterday’s win was much more pleasant, although nerve-wracking at times.  Kyle Kendrick pitched pretty well considering he allowed 10 hits and a walk and only 2 runs scored.  He would have gotten the win, except Mike Adams immediately gave up the lead in the 7th with a home run ball to Adrian Gonzalez.  Adams pitched 2 innings for which he earned BOTH a blown save AND the win.  Go figure.  This is a perfect example of why I hate the win/loss rules for pitchers.

Speaking of rules I hate, let’s talk about home plate.  This no blocking the plate, anti-collision thing is officially on my last nerve.  Tony LaRussa, the former manager who fought for this rule, can take his big ideas and stick ‘em where the sun don’t shine.

Yet another play at the plate was challenged last night when the Dodgers purported that Carlos Ruiz did not give Hanley Ramirez a lane to the plate.  I guess they thought the edge of the nail of his little pinky toe was touching the imaginary parallel line from his foot to where the plate meets the dirt?  I am exaggerating, but how utterly ridiculous is all of this?

Ramirez was still called out after review, but this brings up a bigger issue.  Why would anyone NOT challenge an out call at home plate with this rule in place?  Seriously.  There is a very high probability, as we have seen in previous Phillies games, that they runner will called safe.  Because it seems that if even a small part of the catcher is in front of the plate before the ball arrives, he has been a bad boy and thus unworthy of an out call.  This means EVERY out call should be challenged.

Complicating matters, no one is exactly sure what the rule really is.  On April 13th, the Phillies lost a run due to a replay review at home and Tony Gwynn Jr. was called out.  The next day, MLB called to apologize for getting the call wrong.  If the people in charge do not even know the rule, how is anyone else supposed to?
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Besides that, the rule is insane to begin with.  I understand they want to limit injuries and all that, but it seems to me this is likely to create MORE injuries.  If the catcher cannot be in front of the plate until he gets the ball, this forces the catcher to move very quickly and awkwardly from the point where he catches the ball (away from the plate) to the point he makes the tag (in front of the plate usually).

This “sweep” tag is fine when the catcher is not overly concerned with where the end of his foot might be.  But this rule will force guys to be even further away from the plate to make sure that little toe is not considered an obstruction, turning a “sweep” into an outright dive to make the tag.  Not allowing the catcher to properly set himself means any type of collision will be made worse as he won’t be braced for it.

The runner is not allowed to charge or go out of the way to hit the catcher, but in making a tag, avoiding a collision of some kind is nearly impossible.  So please, please just go back to the old rules and add a clause that runners cannot charge or take cheap shots.  Or here’s an idea…forget the tag altogether.  The runner and catcher can just meet at home plate and thumb wrestle to determine the winner.  Much safer.  Or rock, paper, scissors anyone?  Food for thought.

It has already been reported that MLB is going to make “adjustments” to the rule, but no word yet on specifics.  I will assume thumb wrestling is probably not an option.  They are no fun.  But let us hope they do not screw this up further.

The Phillies begin a series tonight in Arizona against the Diamondbacks.  Game time is 9:40pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Feast or Famine: Phillies Sweep the Marlins

After losing 3 straight games to the Brewers, the Phillies bounced back with 3 straight wins over the Marlins.  This all-or-nothing week ended with big offensive performances from 3 players today.

Chase Utley, Tony Gwynn Jr. and Will Nieves all had a 3 hit day.  Nieves knocked in two runs in the 5th to tie the game at 3-3.  And then Utley had the big bang in the 8th with a go-ahead home run, making it a final 4-3 Phillies win.
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Kyle Kendrick pitched mostly well, although he was up and down.  His game started a bit shaky thanks to another Ryan Howard error on the very first batter of the game.  So Kendrick started in a hole right away, but he hung in there.
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Other than the one error, the fielding was fairly clean.  There was one base running blunder as Gwynn Jr. stumbled around third base and went home anyway where he was thrown out.
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But the bullpen came into the late innings and actually held the lead.  In fact, all 3 guys, B.J. Rosenberg, Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon, retired each of the 3 batters they faced.  Finally!
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Speaking of the bullpen, Justin DeFratus has been sent back to the minors after some rather disastrous outings recently.  Luis Garcia has taken his place.

And just one fun note about today’s game, it was Kid’s Opening Day.  As part of that, some children were apparently commissioned to render their best images of Phillies players which were shown during each players first at bat.  Some of the drawings are hysterical.  Check out my Photo Album from the game to see those and more game shots.

The Braves come to town tomorrow.  Game time is 7:05pm.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

Opening Day Slug Fest

The Phillies first game of the regular season began with a bang to the tune of 14 runs on 17 hits including 3 homers, one of which was a Grand Slam.  It was a record-setting day on many levels.

First, Phillies ace Cliff Lee allowed 8 earned runs and still got the win.  That is only the 8th time in MLB history that a pitcher gave up 8 runs in at least 5 innings and still won.  It is also only the 3rd time in history that happened on Opening Day.

Then in his first Opening Day start, Cody Asche ended the game just a triple short of the cycle.  With his parents looking on, Asche had a career day with 3 hits, 2 RBI including a solo homer, a walk and 4 runs scored.

But the biggest day record-wise was had by Jimmy Rollins who belted a Grand Slam in the 2nd inning, marking his 200th career homer.  That home run made him only the 19th player in baseball history to have 400 or more doubles, 100 or more triples and 200 or more home runs in a career.  He also tied a record with Cal Ripken Jr. for 14 consecutive Opening Day starts at shortstop with the same team.

Rollins may have had some extra inspiration yesterday as he is on baby-watch.  His wife Johari is expecting their second child any minute now.  Rollins stayed an extra day in Philly in case she went into labor and then joined the team in Texas on Sunday night, one day after the team arrived.

Records aside, many Phillies had big days in this game.  Both Chase Utley and Ben Revere had 3 hits, Marlon Byrd went 2-for-6 with a solo homer and Ryan Howard had 2 hits and a walk.  Maybe the biggest hit of the day, besides the grand slam, was a pinch hit 2-run double in the 5th inning by John Mayberry Jr.  In his first big move of the season, manager Ryne Sandberg had a gut feeling to switch Junior’s; Mayberry Jr. in place of Tony Gwynn Jr.  That double broke a 7-7 tie and propelled the Phillies to the win with some much needed momentum.

While I do not think the Phillies are going to score 14 runs again soon, this was an uplifting start the season.  Enjoy it!  Tonight, A.J. Burnett will make his Phillies debut; game time is 8:05pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Decisions Loom for Phillies

As Spring Training nears its end, the Phillies have a number of decisions to make. Some will be made a little easier with injuries and illnesses playing a role. Darren Ruf is out 4-6 weeks with a strained oblique and utility infielder Freddy Galvis is sidelined indefinitely with a nasty MRSA infection. MRSA is a drug-resistant staph infection that is very difficult to treat. Hopefully, Galvis will pull through soon.

With just those two injuries, it looked like there would be room after all for both outfielders Tony Gwynn Jr. and Bobby Abreu. But then Abreu sat out yesterday with shoulder soreness. There is no word on how serious it is, but this certainly may affect his chances of making the team. The Phillies have until tomorrow to decide.

They will also have to decide on whether to keep Ronnie Cedeno today as a utlility infielder. With Galvis now out of the picture, his odds are better. But the Phillies also have to consider Cesar Hernandez and Reid Brignac for that spot.

But the real shocker this week so far has been the Phillies decision to outright Kevin Frandsen. He now has to decide whether to go to Triple-A or become a free agent. Frandsen has brought a lot of much needed energy to this team the last several seasons, which were otherwise dull and depressing. He was also the best pinch hitter in the majors last year with 14 pinch hits. It would be a real shame to see him go. But I do not know if many teams are knocking on his door, so free agency may not be a good option for him (or wishful thinking on my part). If he takes the Triple-A option, he could still make the team at some point.

In other news, Cole Hamels says he feels “great.” Is it just me, or have we heard this before? Don’t hold your breath…it will be at least a month before he is ready to go, barring anymore “not great” feelings.

And as an interesting side note, the Phillies have announced new food items for the 2014 season at the ballpark. Hold onto your arteries before you decide to try the new hotdog topped with bacon and melted cheese or the burger with fried egg. My heart aged 10 years just thinking about eating that.

6 days until Opening Day…

UPDATE: Frandsen just opted for free agency.  I am sad :(  He will be sorely missed…best of luck to him!

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

Abreu or Gwynn?

Blast from the past Bobby Abreu was asked to Phillies camp this year to compete for a back-up outfield spot. Then again, so was Tony Gwynn Jr., son of the late Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. Gwynn Jr. is 9 years younger than Abreu and has been showing off his skills in Spring Training. He is younger, faster and hitting better than Abreu.

BobbyBut wouldn’t it be nice to see Abreu back with the team? I have to root for a guy in his 40’s who still thinks he has some left in the tank. I admire his spirit. Plus he does take a lot of pitches and gets on base often.

I cannot imagine the Phillies will have room for both on the roster so it appears there will have to be a decision at some point. Here are a few short comparisons to help us decide:

- Gwynn could reduce the average age of the team; Abreu could be a granddaddy.

- Gwynn is likely to pull the ball; Abreu is likely to pull a muscle.

- Gwynn has a famous father; Abreu has a famous sweet tooth (nickname: El Comaduce, The Candy Man).

- Abreu has nostalgia on his side; Gwynn has a .307 spring batting average on his side.

When I put it like that, although in good fun, I have to admit Gwynn has the edge. But it isn’t over just yet…come on Bobby! I am still rooting for you!

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Photo by USA Today

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