Results tagged ‘ Twins ’
Chase Utley got angry tonight and the Minnesota Twins paid the price. After all the talk about Utley being injured after a comment made in an interview by first base coach, Davey Lopes, Utley came out tonight to prove everyone wrong. He swears he is not injured and based on his play tonight, who could argue? Trust me Twins, you won’t like him when he’s angry.
Utley nailed an RBI single in the first inning and smashed a 3-run homer in the second. He was a monster in the field as well. Utley dove for a hard hit ground ball in the 3rd inning that would have been out of the reach of any normal human. He snagged the ball while on the ground, got up and made the throw to first to end the inning.
Then in the 5th inning, Jason Kubel hit what looked like an inside-the-park home run. Utley took the relay throw from Shane Victorino and threw Kubel out at the plate with a little help from catcher Carlos Ruiz. Utley made a statement tonight. Do not make him angry. Or perhaps Lopes’ slip of the tongue was a huge favor; it lit a fire under Utley. Clue for the Phils: Next time Utley is slumping, piss him off.
Ryan Howard must have taken the rumor about Utley to heart as well; he went 4 for 5 with TWO home runs, a triple and 3 RBI. He and Utley went back-to-back with those homers. But they were not alone in their offensive outburst. The Phillies put 9 runs on the board all together with additional hits from Placido Polanco, Jayson Werth and others.
Joe Blanton bounced back after some very bad outings previous to tonight. He did well through 6 innings, allowing just one run. But the same mistake that has been made with Blanton all year long was made again; he was left in too long. In the top of the 7th, he gave up a single and then a 2-run homer before he was replaced by Chad Durbin. The shame of it is, Blanton could have left the game with only 1 run allowed, but the Phils continue to push him even when he looks tired. The Phils had a huge lead, but the confidence boost Blanton should have left with may have been erased.
Overall, the game tonight was very intense, but not all of it was a good thing. Both Werth and Victorino appeared to tweak a muscle running hard to first base. They each stayed in the game, so that is a good sign. Then in the 8th inning, Kubel shattered his bat which nailed Ruiz in the head and he lay motionless on the ground for a good amount of time. Ruiz was taken out of the game and did walk off on his own so, hopefully, he will be okay.
The other excitement in tonight’s game was seeing Scott Mathieson pitch in the majors for the first time since 2006. Two Tommy John surgeries later, and Mathieson was pumped up to make it back to the bigs. A little too pumped up, because he gave up hit after hit in the 9th inning until the bases were loaded with one out. After a wild pitch and two more runs scoring, Brad Lidge was brought in to finish the game which he did without issue. Phils win, 9-5.
While Mathieson hit 99mph on the radar gun, the control was not there. Lidge probably breathed a sigh of relief as his closing job is safe for now. But this may have been a case of nerves and we will probably see Mathieson again soon.
Cole Hamels will pitch tomorrow; game time is 4:10pm.
Scoring runs against the veteran pitcher Andy Pettitte of the Yankees is no small feat. The Phillies did a descent job hitting him tonight, although they let several opportunities pass by. A Ryan Howard single scored Shane Victorino in the 4th inning. Then in the 5th, Victorino hit a 2-run homer.
Things looked promising in the 7th inning as well while the Phils loaded the bases with only one out. But scoring runs has been the Achilles heel of this team for an entire month now. Placido Polanco grounded into a fielder’s choice which erased Carlos Ruiz on his way home. Then Howard struck out on another low and outside pitch, something he seem to make a habit of. All the offense could do was pray that this inning would not come back to haunt them.
Kyle Kendrick stepped up to the challenge of pitching against the veteran Pettitte and kept the team in the game. Through 7 innings, Kendrick allowed one run on 4 hits and 2 walks. Despite getting himself into a multitude of bad situations, Kendrick kept his composure and did not fold under the pressure. That, more than his pitching, was the most impressive part of his game.
Not as impressive is the still struggling Chase Utley, who went hitless. Yesterday, Utley resorted to voodoo magic to try to jump-start his swing. He laid out a pattern on the clubhouse floor using bats, Red Bull and a variety of fruits. Then today, batting coach Milt Thompson reportedly built a shrine to Jobu, the voodoo doll used in the movie Major League. Can you say, “desperation”? Oh my.
I have also been known to practice baseball voodoo from time to time. However, I am not a major leaguer so if my readers think my noodle has slipped, no one really cares, least of all me. Normally, I reserve the voodoo J-Roll Smurf magic for the National League East. But with the Phillies recent struggles against everyone, and in light of Utley’s acceptance of such practices, I made an exception before today’s game. I think it may have helped:
The voodoo did seem to work. The Phillies scored again in the 9th inning after a Ruiz double and a Wilson Valdez single. Then they loaded the bases and scored two more runs on sac flies by Polanco and Howard. Then Raul Ibanez smelled the burning Jobu / Smurf incense, woke up and hit an RBI single with two outs. Ibanez did run into some bad luck after that, getting nicked in the foot with a hit ball. Apparently, the umpires did not see it, as nothing was called until the Yanks complained. So they called him out anyway to end the inning.
The defense got a spark earlier as well. Polanco helped Kendrick get out of a rough inning by diving on top of the rolled up tarp and catching a foul ball that was inches into the stands. And Jose Contreras snagged a bullet off the bat of Curtis Granderson in the 8th inning to save a hit. The Phils entered the bottom of the 9th inning with a 7-1 lead.
Contreras stayed in the game for one more batter; then with one out in the 9th, JC Romero was called in to end the game. Romero ended it quickly and the Phils won both the game and the series, 2 games to 1.
The Phillies will head home now for a weekend series with the Twins. They are without lefty Antonio Bastardo who is now on the DL with left elbow ulnar neuritis. Scott Mathieson was called up to take his spot on the roster. Mathieson looked like his career might be over after two Tommy John surgeries in 2006 and 2008 but his recovery has been remarkable. Look forward to seeing him pitch very soon!
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A-Rod photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; Voodoo bats by Getty Images/CSN Philly
While it was far from perfection from Roy Halladay last night in his first start since pitching the Perfect Game, he was effective. Halladay allowed just 2 runs on 10 hits over 7 innings. He worked in and out of several jams with multiple base runners against a very good Padres team to keep the Phillies in the game.
Halladay even helped himself out at the plate, knocking a 1 out single in the 3rd that led to Shane Victorino’s 2-run homer. With the Phillies offense still struggling, those two hits turned out to be a big key in winning the game. Jayson Werth collected the 3rd RBI in the 3-2 win by walking with the bases loaded in the 5th inning. Of course, the Phillies offense also left the bases loaded twice and as a team, left 9 men on base.
The lack of scoring was again highlighted in the 8th inning when Jose Contreras hit a batter and then issued a walk. JC Romero was brought in to stop the bleeding and began by walking the next batter to load the bases with 1 out. But it was JC’s birthday, and his present to himself was getting a ground ball double play to end the inning. Happy Birthday, JC!
The real highlight of the evening, however, was Brad Lidge. In his first save opportunity since coming off the DL for the second time this year, Lidge looked like Mr. Perfect from 2008. Lidge mowed down the Padres in order with a nasty slider and good movement on his fastball. His speed clocked in at 94mph on a few pitches. Is this a sign that all is now well with Lidge? Cross your fingers…
Game 2 against the Padres is tonight at 7:05pm. Jamie Moyer will pitch against Jon Garland.
By the way, have you seen the new player-designed apparel at the Phillies MLB Shop? If you have not, be sure to check it out. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth, Cole Hamels and Raul Ibanez all designed jerseys, tee-shirts and hats for the new collection. Here is a sample of what they designed:
Other teams got into the action as well, so if you are a fan of another team (although I find that hard to imagine ;o), check out their MLB Shop site too. I believe the Mets, Yankees and Twins also participated. Hey, if it is cool looking, maybe I’ll pick up a Mets jersey….or, not. ;o)
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Lidge photo by Jenn Zambri Photography; apparel by MLB.com
While nothing official has been announced yet, it looks like the 5th starters spot will go to Jamie Moyer. Against the Yankees on Friday, Moyer solidified his bid for the job by pitching 6 2/3 scoreless innings and allowed only 1 hit.
His overall ERA for spring is now 2.61, if your count all the “B” games he pitched also. Is it possible that this 47-year old man, coming off 3 surgeries in the off-season, is simply just indestructible? Either he is taking Fountain of Youth pills or secretly, he is Superman with the red, white and blue uniform being perfect camouflage for his super hero suit.
So Kyle Kendrick will probably start the year in the bullpen and just wait around for someone to toss a huge ball of Kryptonite at Moyer. Either way, Kendrick should be content just to make the team after a young but up and down career so far.
Leaving his super hero costume at home, Cole Hamels is still a work in progress. He got beat up on Saturday against the Twins, allowing 5 runs on 7 hits and 2 walks in 6 1/3 innings. While Hamels was pleased that he was able to reach the 90-pitch mark in a game, he still has some big control issues to work out. After the game, Hamels told the press that he is “starting to really feel game-oriented.” With only 8 days left until Opening Day, let us hope that his “game-oriented” compass is pointing towards the strike zone.
Another point of concern this spring is Raul Ibanez, who is barely swinging the bat with a paltry .098 average. That is only 4 hits in 41 at bats. Ibanez struggle the 2nd half of 2009 with a hernia that was operated on this off-season. While he recovered well from the operation, he still has not looked at all like the “RAUUUUUL” of old. To make matters worse, he got hit in the right elbow with a pitch on Friday. It may not be a serious injury, but it may be enough that he does not get much more hitting practice before Opening Day.
When the Phillies signed Ibanez to replace Pat Burrell last year, many people, myself included, questioned why they signed a player who was 4-years older than Burrell to a 3-year contract. Ibanez will turn 38 in June and it does appear that he is not wearing the same Superman cape that Jamie Moyer is using. Moyer is a freak of nature. Ibanez, however, appears to be a mere mortal. While everyone was thrilled with his performance in the first half of 2009, things went downhill from there and show no signs of improving. Cross your fingers; this could get interesting.
The good news is, if one of the outfielders should go down, John Mayberry Jr. is waiting in the wings. Mayberry was sent to minor league camp today, but he had a great spring and would likely be first in line to be brought up if anything goes wrong. Mayberry had 6 RBI, a homer, 3 doubles and hit for an average of .289 in camp.
Two more players were reassigned today also; catcher Dane Sardinha and infielder Ozzie Chavez. This means the bench for the Phillies should consist of catcher Brian Schneider, infielders Juan Castro and Greg Dobbs and outfielder Ross Gload. With the 12 pitchers and other regulars, that should complete the 25-man roster.
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Moyer head shot by Jenn
The Phillies are 1 win away from advancing to the NLCS against the Dodgers after beating the Rockies last night 5-4. They hold a 2-1 advantage in the series and also have the chance today to win 2 post-season games on the same day; last night’s game ended at 2:15am this morning and tonight will be a 6:07pm start time. The Phillies finally got a prime time slot, since everyone else is done with their NLDS series. Gee thanks, MLB, she says as she holds her eyes open with toothpicks…
This win was a true team effort with contributions up and down the line-up. Chase Utley hit a solo homer in the 1st inning and the Rockies answered with 2 runs later that inning. The Phillies took the lead again in the 4th with 3 runs. It may have been more, but Pedro Feliz hit into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and no outs. But Carlos Ruiz picked his teammate up and knocked an RBI single to give the Phillies the lead again.
The two teams traded runs again in the 6th and 7th innings, but the Phillies took the lead for good in the 9th with some small ball. Jimmy Rollins led off with a hit and Shane Victorino bunted him over. Chase Utley hit a dribbler for a single and moved Jimmy to third; Ryan Howard knocked him in with a sac fly. So the Phillies gave the ball to Brad Lidge who, despite making us all bite our fingernails again, got the save.
Lidge seems to have his confidence back, which is great news. If the Phillies are going to win, they need him. The pitching overall on both sides was shaky, but bad umpiring did not help either. JA Happ got squeezed at the plate for his short 3 innings of work where he allowed 3 runs and was prematurely pinch hit for in the 4th when the potential to add on runs arose. Happ throws pitches that move a lot in a diagonal pattern across the plate. The ball passes over the plate and ends up in the catcher’s mitt towards the back corner of the plate. The ump last night was watching where the ball ended up instead of where it crossed the plate and missed tons of calls.
But the ump did that on both sides and both starters were forced out of the game in under 4 innings. Blown calls have been the story of this entire NLDS, not just the Phillies and the Rockies. It even started with the Twins-Tigers 1 game playoff where a batter was clearly hit with a pitch but no one called it. And it continued last night with the ball-strike calls and even the “dribbler” Utley hit in the ninth. If you watch the replay, the ball hit Utley in the leg and therefore should have been foul. Instead, it was a hit. But both the Phillies and Rockies were victims of bad calls, so I guess in the end it evened out.
It does make you wonder though, how are these umpires continually allowed to affect the outcome of such important games? Did you write your letters to Bug Selig last night as I suggested? If so, it was a VERY big pile. Anyone else out there tired of the bad calls and no accountability here? Feel free to vent in the comments.
But the Phillies won the game and that is what really matters. And they did it in the most awful conditions; game time temperature was 35 degrees, which ties for the coldest post-season game on record. The game also took 4 hours and 6 minutes. Yikes! No sleep for me, but at least I am not grouchy ;O)
In other news, Scott Eyre was hurt in the game; he twisted his ankle coming off the mound. No word yet on his condition, but we hope he is ok!
Cliff Lee gets the ball tonight and hopefully, he can repeat the amazing performance he had in Game 1. Go Phillies!
Photo by Jenn
Kyle Kendrick got the start today against the Twins in Spring action and surprisingly, did not do half bad. While a decent performance today will not likely put him back in the running for the 5th starters spot, it at least shows that he is still capable of getting the job done, like he did in 2007 and the 1st half of 2008. Kendrick lasted 5 full innings and gave up 5 hits, 1 walk and 2 earned runs. Clay Condrey, Scott Eyre and Brad Lidge also pitched in the game, none of the 3 surrendering a run; Lidge looked solid, had a wicked slider and appears to be in good health.
Today’s game was aired on Comcast Sportsnet, giving the baseball starved locals something to watch on a lazy Saturday afternoon. Sadly though, the offensive production on both sides of the diamond was lacking with the only scoring occurring in the 1st and 9th innings. The game ended in a 2-1 Phillies loss and that one run came off the bat of Eric Bruntlett in the 9th, who shot a ball over the left field fence. Beyond that, broadcasters tried to make the game interesting by showing sample of the Phillies’ upcoming game giveaways which included a World Champions t-shirt, a Jayson Werth blanket for the ladies, a bucket cap and various other items. The item which seemed to interest everyone the most was the Charlie Manuel bobblehead doll. Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins had their reactions to the new doll taped; Rollins, always the comedian, went so far as to make the doll “talk” about his infamous benching last year by Manuel. You cannot make this stuff up; see for yourself:
So, what do you think? Will Rollins behave this year or, will he get benched again and toss the bobblehead across the room? The jury is out…
And since the game was a tad on the boring side today, I spent my free time in between batters setting up an ER for the wounded Phillies players. Yes, more reports came in today about Greg Dobbs being scratched from the starting line-up due to some sort of muscle “tweak”; Jason Donald did not play either as he has a mystery ankle ailment; Cole Hamels’ progress after the sore elbow has been down-played. Looks like these guys just need a stand-by, 24-hour emergency room.
We wish them all a pleasant and speedy recovery :O)
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