Results tagged ‘ Wilson Valdez ’

No Utley, No Howard, No Rollins…No Problem

In their first of four games against the Brewers on Thursday night, the Phillies were without three of their star players, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley.  Howard got the night off, which is rare for him.  Rollins just came off the DL and the Phils will be working him back in slowly.  And Utley is back in Philly being examined after getting hit in the head with a fastball on Wednesday.

But even with the lack of star power, the Phillies were still able to handle the Brewers.  Early in the game, it did not look like it would be so easy as Brewers pitcher Chris Narveson no-hit the Phils through  four innings.  Through 5 2/3, the Phillies still had only one hit.

But with two outs in the 6th, the Phillies bats suddenly showed up.  Shane Victorino started the rally off with a double that missed going out of the park by about 1/2 inch as it hit near the top of the left field wall.  Wilson Valdez then continued his tear with runners on base by doubling to score Victorino.

Things snowballed from there.  The Phillies scored six runs in the inning, all with two outs.  Those hits included a triple from Hunter Pence, a John Mayberry Jr. single and Carlos Ruiz double.  Pence ended the night with three RBI.

And while Narveson self-destructed that inning, Cole Hamels continued to pitch well for the Phillies.  Hamels did not allow a run until the 5th when a solo homer put the Brewers on the board.  He allowed another solo shot in the 6th, but the Brewers did very little else against Hamels, who went the distance and picked up a complete game win.

The Phillies won the game by a score of 7-2.  Game two with the Brewers starts Friday night at 8:10pm.  Roy Halladay will face Shaun Marcum.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Rain-Soaked, Dreary Loss for the Phils in Florida

Tonight in Florida, it looked like the soggy north east weather had followed the Phillies south.  Downpours delayed the start of tonight’s game against the Marlins by about an hour and a half.  It was the third rain delay / postponement between the Phillies and Marlins in the course of just a week.

The game began with a light, but steady rain, still pouring down.  And while the rain chased away many of the few fans who were actually at the game, Cole Hamels stuck it out and pitched fairly well.

Although he had some control issues, Hamels got through seven innings allowing three runs on four hits and three walks.  All three runs for the Marlins were scored on home runs.

But Hamels made up for his pitching mistakes at the plate.  In the second inning, Wilson Valdez tripled to score two runs and then Hamels followed up with an RBI-single.  Hamels duplicated the feat in his next at-bat in the fourth.  So he ended the night with two hits and two RBI.  Not too shabby for a pitcher.

Unfortunately, the scoring ended with Hamels’ 4th inning RBI.  Even less fortunate than that was a bad pitching decision by manager Charlie Manuel.  He sent Antonio Bastardo out to pitch the eighth after Bastardo had just pitched almost three innings in the last two games.  While Bastardo has been superb, he has also been overused.  And that was obvious tonight when he walked the first two batters he faced.

Manuel pulled Bastardo after the walks and put in David Herndon.  And that move also proved to be costly.  Herndon has been much better lately, but he is almost always better when he starts an inning as opposed to taking on inherited runners.  And just like that, Herndon imploded.  He gave up three home runs for a total of five in the inning, giving the Marlins a huge 8-4 lead.

The way the Phillies offense had played all night, it was clear that a four run deficit might be nearly impossible to overcome.  When the only guys hitting are your pitcher and the 7 & 8-hole hitters, it is probably not going to be a great night offensively.

So although Hamels left the game with a lead, the bullpen handed the game to the Marlins.  The Phillies lost 8-4.  The only good news is that the Braves also lost tonight.

The Phillies still have a chance to win the series tomorrow afternoon at 1:10pm.  Roy Halladay will pitch.

 

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*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Phillies Breeze Through Four Game Sweep of Reds

With two days off before this series began due to Hurricane Irene, the Phillies did not skip a beat in their total dominance over the Reds this week.  This win made it only the third time in franchise history that the Phillies have been 41 games over .500. They did it twice in 1976.

Rookie pitcher Vance Worley is also knocking on the record books.  With a 10-1 record, the Phillies have won each of his last 13 starts.  That is the best streak since Steve Carlton pitched the Phillies to 15 consecutive wins in 1972.

 

In this game against the Reds, Worley was great through six innings, allowing just one run.  He ran into trouble in the seventh when he allowed a 3-run homer.  At that point, Worley was done.  But he walked away with the lead and even an RBI on a single in the 2nd inning.

The offense had already spotted Worley six runs by the time the bullpen took over.  Ryan Howard hit a solo homer for his 104th RBI of the year.  Filling in for Placido Polanco, Michael Martinez blasted a 2-run shot to right, which was his 3rd homer of the year.  Shane Victorino and Wilson Valdez had two hits in the game as well.

So September started with a bang for the Phillies.  They currently hold an 8-game lead in the division and will play 3 games in Miami next.  Game 1 against the Marlins is Friday night at 7:10pm with Roy Oswalt pitching.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Another UnbeLEEvable Month for Cliff Lee

In the month of August, Cliff Lee has been amazingLEE, wonderfuLEE and happiLEE spectacular on the mound.  Lee nearly duplicated his equally stunning month of June, where he went 5-0 with a 0.21 ERA.  He ended August tonight with the same record of 5-0 and a 0.45 ERA.

Against the Reds on Wednesday night, Lee was dominant, as usual.  Over 8.2 innings, Lee allowed only six hits plus one walk and a hit batter in the 9th.  In short, he was magical.
 

The Phillies offense was a bit sluggish against an old foe in Dontrelle Willis, who pitched for the Marlins during his better days.  Since then, Willis has struggled to find a solid place in the majors.  But the Reds gave him another shot and he appears to be trying to take advantage of that.  He allowed some runs, but was pretty good overall.

After Willis walked the first two batters he faced, the Phillies scored one run on a Ryan Howard force out in the 1st.  Later in the sixth, Hunter Pence took Willis deep for a 2-0 Phillies lead.  Shane Victorino scored in the seventh on another ground ball out, this time from Chase Utley.

So while the offense scored only three runs, that appeared to be all Lee needed.  The defense backed Lee as well, although some of the outs they recorded were rather unorthodox.

For example, in the 5th, Wilson Valdez started to turn what looked like a great double play.  He fed the ball to Utley, but Utley fired to first way over the head of Howard.  As the ball ricocheted off the wall beyond 1st, Carlos Ruiz snagged the ball and fired back to Utley, who tagged out the runner going to second on the overthrow.  Ruiz saved Utley from the error and turned a very odd double play.

In the 9th inning, Lee finally ran into trouble after a hit, a walk and then a hit batter.  The hit batter was questionable as Miguel Cairo clearly leaned into the pitch.  And unfortunately, that prevented Lee from recording his sixth shut-out of the year as he was pulled in favor of Ryan Madson.  But Madson took care of the Reds with only three pitches to end the game.

With the 3-0 win, Cliff Lee has now recorded two months without a loss and at least five wins with an ERA under 1.00.  That feat has only been accomplished two times before.

The win also guarantees another series win for the Phillies who have taken the first three games in this four game series.  Vance Worley will pitch in the finale tomorrow; game time is 12:35pm.

 

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Lee Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Hamels Sharp in 1st Game Off the DL

The Phillies began a stretch of 33 games in 31 days today in Cincinnati against the Reds.  With the schedule shuffling due to Hurricane Irene, the Phils lost their final off-day of the regular season and also have two doubleheaders in September.

Today was an especially important day for pitcher Cole Hamels.  It was his first start since coming off the DL with some shoulder soreness.  Hamels did not skip a beat as he began quickly mowing down Reds hitters.
 

Hamels was perfect through three innings when an outfield blunder ended the streak in the fourth.  Hunter Pence overran a routine fly ball, then slipped and fell trying to go back to make the catch.  The hit was recorded as a triple, which gave the Reds a 1-0 lead soon after.

Probably mortified my the mistake, Pence looked for redemption early with a single to start the fifth.  Carlos Ruiz then singled and Wilson Valdez drove Pence home with a very timely double.

Hamels was able to shake off the earlier mistake and with a 1-1 tie game, he continued pitching very well.  Through six innings, Hamels allowed just the one run on two hits and struck out seven.

The pitchers battle continued as the Reds’ Homer Bailey kept confusing Phillies hitters.  Valdez seemed to be the only one able to hit Bailey and he started the eighth off with a single.

Michael Martinez was then sent up to bunt, which was a minor disaster.  I sincerely hope this is the last time Martinez will be counted on to lay down a bunt, because he looked like he had no clue what he was doing.  He bunted two balls straight up into the air; the first was foul and the second was caught for a very ugly out.

Lucky for Martinez, Shane Victorino stepped up to the plate and finally saw a pitch he liked.  One hanging curve ball  later and Victorino had himself a 2-run homer.  The Phillies then had a 3-1 lead.

That lead dwindled a little in the bottom half of the inning as the struggles of Michael Stutes continued.  He gave up one run on three hits, cutting the lead to 3-2.

In that inning, Placido Polanco missed a hard hit ball and made a throwing error.  Polanco also struck out three times at the plate, which is very out of character for him.  Normally a contact hitter, Polanco did not look like himself today both at the plate and in the field.  This leave one wondering just how badly he is being bothered by the sore hip and back.

After that odd inning, the Phillies were unable to score again.  That meant the game was in the hands of Ryan Madson with a miniscule 1-run lead.  Coming into this game, Madson was 23 for 25 in save opportunities.

Unlike Polanco tonight, Madson was on top of his game.  After allowing a lead-off single, he buckled down and recorded the final three outs of the game.

Tuesday night, Roy Halladay will finally take the mound after getting pushed back with all the crazy weather and game cancellations earlier this week.  Game time is 7:10pm.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Jimmy Rollins Headed to the DL

In last night’s Phillies loss to the Nationals, shortstop Jimmy Rollins was lifted from the game early after an injury.  I tweeted a photo collage of J-Roll from the 2nd inning where he did a 360 move from catch to throw on a grounder, after which he was seen grimacing in pain.

It turns out the initial injury occurred as he ran to first base in the 1st inning.  Rollins tweeted me back with this information:

 

And then shortly after, he received the results of his MRI which led to these tweets:

 

So Rollins is on the DL with a grade 2 groin strain.  This is sad news :O(  Rollins has been having a very good year so to see him shut-down now is disappointing.

Placido Polanco is expected to come off the DL today, so the two players will most likely be swapping spots with no additional roster moves.

This also means continued playing time for both Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez, who have done a fantastic job filling in at third base.

I wish J-Roll all the best in his recovery; hopefully, he will be back very soon!

 

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*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Phillies Rebound Against the Nats Behind Oswalt & Mayberry

If there were any questions about Roy Oswalt not pitching after the rain delay on Friday, those questions were answered tonight.  With a fresh start and no interruption in his routine, Oswalt was very sharp.

Oswalt tossed eight innings of shut-out baseball against the Nationals, allowing eight hits and a walk.  He began to look tired near the end of the eighth, but manager Charlie Manuel stuck with his man after a quick conversation on the mound.  Oswalt looked fantastic and best of all, the back issues do not seem to be bothering him anymore.

Another guy who had an outstanding night was John Mayberry Jr.  He had two hits and a walk tonight plus a huge play in the field.  In the fourth inning, Ryan Zimmerman tried to go 2nd to home on a Jayson Werth single.  Mayberry fielded the ball and fired.  It was a perfect, one-hop throw to catcher Carlos Ruiz that nailed Zimmerman at the plate.

 

Mayberry’s play recently is prompting questions about whether Raul Ibanez should even be in the starting line-up.  At the very least, this has already turned into a platoon with Mayberry starting against lefties.  But as Mayberry continues to out-perform Ibanez, how long will Manuel keep his loyalty to Ibanez?  That remains to be seen.

Several other players had multi-hit night’s as well including Ruiz and Jimmy Rollins.  And once again, Wilson Valdez was right in the middle things with a huge triple that scored the Phillies first two runs in the fourth inning.  And in the sixth, Hunter Pence hit his 14th of the year and fourth as a Phillie.

Michael Stutes took over for the Phillies in the ninth inning and had a nice outing.  His last appearance was not great, so this had to be a relief for Stutes to get in a clean inning.  The Phillies went on to win by a 5-0 score.

The finale of this 3-game series is scheduled for Sunday at 1:35pm with Roy Halladay pitching.  Sadly, it appears more rain is also on the schedule.  So cross your fingers & toes; with any luck, I will return from D.C. with photos.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Down Four Starters, the Phillies Rise Above Both the DBacks & the Rain

The Phillies began the game against the Diamondbacks last night without four of their starting players.  After pleading his three game suspension down to two games, Shane Victorino began that suspension last night.  And then Ryan Howard sat out with a sore hand and Carlos Ruiz was benched with a sore groin.  And of course, Placido Polanco is on the DL.

But the lack of star power in the line-up had little effect on this Phillies team, which is strong from top to bottom.  Rookie Vance Worley started the game and pitched three very solid innings before the rain began.  He did not allow a run and gave up only one hit.

The offense gave Worley support early, scoring one run on a Wilson Valdez double in the 2nd.  Then in the 3rd, John Mayberry Jr. came up big again with a monster 2-run homer.  It was Mayberry’s 10th homer of the year, which in limited at-bats, is very impressive.

Then suddenly the skies opened up and flooded the stadium as the grounds crew rushed to cover the field.  What appeared might be a short, 30 minute rain delay turned into two and a half hours.

By that time, Worley could not go back out and pitch so David Herndon took over.  Herndon has been given a lot of grief from the fans this year after he got off to a rocky start.  But in his last 22 games going back to May, Herndon is pitching at a 2.00 ERA.  He figured out why he was having issues in April and made the adjustment.

In this game against the D-Backs, Herndon pitched three scoreless innings, allowing only one hit.  In the 5th inning, he struck out the side.  Herndon has really improved his game.  Michael Stutes, on the other hand, is watching the scales slowly tip downward and out of his favor.

 

Stutes gets all the praise because he got off to a very good start, unlike Herndon.  Plus it does not hurt that he is adorable, right ladies?  So Stutes has gotten a pass in situations that Herndon has not.

But last night Stutes was visibly upset after allowing a home run in the 8th inning to the first batter.  Charlie Manuel was seen in the dugout consoling Stutes, patting him on the back as he held his head in his hands in defeat.

Why is Stutes so upset after a solo homer?  Because he too recognizes that things are beginning to go downhill for him.  In his last 12 games, Stutes is pitching at an ERA of 5.17.  His ERA has risen every month since ending May with a 2.38 ERA.  His total ERA is now up to 3.40.

Stutes, like a lot of rookies in the same position, is starting to struggle.  It could be a combination of many factors like a lack of experience, teams knowing better what to expect from him and being slightly overworked.  Stutes has pitched a lot and, especially for a rookie, this can take its toll.

Hopefully for Stutes, he can make an adjustment and work his way back, like Herndon has done.  But in the meantime, he may spend a lot of time being frustrated until he figures it out.

The one run Stutes allowed was the only run of the night for the D-Backs and the Phillies went on to win by a 4-1 score.  The Phillies, still holding the best record in baseball, became the first team to reach 80 wins on the season.

And the reason why the Phillies continue to have success is simple.  Like I mentioned earlier, they are solid in every aspect of the game.  More importantly, role players like Mayberry, Valdez and Herndon, continue to come through in big situations.  So even with four starters out and a rookie pitcher, they continue to win.

It is a good time to be a Phillies fan.

The Nationals are up next; game time tonight is 7:05pm with Roy Oswalt pitching.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Close Game Turns Into a Blow-Out in Phillies Win Over D-Backs

In their second game against the Diamondbacks, the Phillies spent seven innings embroiled in another tight pitching battle.  Cliff Lee was outstanding through seven, allowing only three hits, although one was a two-run homer.  After the home run though, the D-Backs could not get to Lee at all.

The game was tied 2-2 after a Jimmy Rollins lead-off homer and a John Mayberry Jr. RBI single.  But in the bottom of the seventh, the Phillies suddenly began smacking around the D-Backs pitching staff.

The Phils scored three runs in that half inning, with the big hit coming from third baseman Wilson Valdez.  With two men on base, Valdez hit a long, 2-run double that went all the way to the centerfield wall, giving the Phillies a two-run lead.

Valdez has not gotten much playing time lately.  Michael Martinez was on a good streak for a while and did most of the filling-in for the injured Placido Polanco at third.  So in case you have forgotten who Valdez is, here is a quick breakdown by the various types of “Wilson’s” you may know:

 

Valdez was once asked by a reporter why he did not have gloves with his name on them like the other players.  He said he did not need to get any specially made because his name was already on the glove; yes, his name is “Wilson.”

After Valdez put the team ahead, the runs kept on coming.  Rollins ended the day with two hits, two RBI and a walk.  Hunter Pence went 2-for-2 with two walks.  And Mayberry, another player who has not gotten a lot of playing time, had an outstanding day at the ballpark.  He led the team with three hits and an RBI.

Lee was pulled for a pinch hitter in the seventh so the bullpen finally got some work.  Antonio Bastardo and Ryan Madson pitched the eighth and ninth, respectively.  By the time Madson pitched, he had a 9-2 lead to work with.  The game was over quickly at that point.

Before the game today, Polanco was put on the DL with a groin strain, retroactive to August 7th.  RHP Michael Schwimer was called up to take his roster spot.  Schwimer has been amazing in Triple-A action, posting a 9-1 record with 10 saves and a 1.88 ERA.  He did not get into the game today, but with any luck, we may get a look at him soon.

Carlos Ruiz sat out today as well after getting hit with a ball in the groin yesterday.  The official report says he has a “Left Testicular Contusion.”  Ouch!  Poor Chooch…he is day to day.

Game 3 with the D-Backs is Thursday night at 7:05pm; Vance Worley and his fabulous red spectacles will be pitching.

 

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Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

Philadelphia Phillies 2011 First Half Report Card

Having ended the first half of the season with a 57-34 record, the best in baseball, the Philadelphia Phillies have much to look forward to in the second half.  And although many injuries and questions still loom in the background, the first half of play was very successful for this team.

What makes the first half even more remarkable is that the Phillies were able to win despite injuries and missed time from a bucket-full of All-Star caliber players including Chase Utley, Roy Oswalt, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco.

In the bullpen, the Phillies are currently on their fourth closer of the year as the first three all went on the DL.  First Brad Lidge, then Jose Contreras and finally, Ryan Madson.

The rest of the pen has been run primarily by rookies and inexperienced players over the last several month.  But these players have stepped up and are keeping hope alive.

The following  is a look at the Phillies 2011 First Half Report Card.

Starting Pitching:  A+

The Phillies ended the first half with the best ERA in baseball at 3.02, the fewest earned runs allowed with 279 plus 11 complete games and 13 shut-outs, both of which are also the most in baseball.

Both Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels have earned 11 wins each and their ERA’s are 2.45 and 2.32, respectively.  Those numbers have prompted talk of a Cy Young award for one of the two pitchers.  Cliff Lee has been outstanding as well with a 2.82 ERA and nine wins.

The starters have suffered some major injuries, including Roy Oswalt and Joe Blanton, both of whom are on the DL.  But the rookie Vance Worley has filled in admirably with an occasional spot start from Kyle Kendrick.

Bullpen:   B+

The Phillies bullpen has had some real challenges this year, including a plethora of injuries.  But thanks to some very young, very solid talent, the pen has endured.

What was thought to be a major team weakness at the start of the year has turned into a strength in many ways.

Lefty Antonio Bastardo has been outstanding and probably should have earned an All-Star nod.  In 33 innings, Bastardo has allowed only three earned runs and has a microscopic ERA of 0.82.  He has also gone 5-for-5 in save attempts since the Phillies sent their first three closer to the DL.

Michael Stutes and Juan Perez have also been very nice surprises.  If Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson can come back healthy in the second half, the bullpen will only be that much stronger.

Offense:  C-

The Phillies offense for the first half ranks 20th in all of baseball and 10th in the National League with a .250 team batting average.  Statistically, this puts them below average.

But their 377 RBI moves them up the list a little, ranking 11th among all teams and 10th in on-base percentage with .323.

The first couple months were rough without Chase Utley, who is hitting .280 since his return.  But other top team hitters like Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco have missed time with injuries as well, making it difficult for manager Charlie Manuel to post any sort of consistent line-up on a regular basis.

Ryan Howard is tied for the league lead in RBI with 72, which has helped carry this weakened offense.  But with so many rookies in the line-up because of injuries, the other veteran players will need to step up in the second half.

Defense:  A-

Statistically, the Phillies have the best defense in the National League and are around fourth best in all of baseball with 45 errors and a .987 fielding percentage.  Many teams have similar numbers, but looking at the major categories, I would put them in about fourth place.

Among position players, Carlos Ruiz and Ryan Howard have the highest fielding percentages on the team with .996 and .995, respectively.  Howard has improved his defense greatly over the past couple of years.

This team has a very solid defense.  There were a few games this year where sloppy play brought that into question, but they are humans, not robots.  Overall, it was a very good first half for the defense.

Attendance:  A+

The Phillies ended the first half on Sunday with their 172nd consecutive home sellout.  They are also first in total attendance for all of baseball with 2,228,630 fans so far this year, according to ESPN.  The Yankees were second with 2,173,619 fans.

The Phillies keep winning, and the fans keep the party going. 

1st Half MVP:  Roy Halladay

Because their numbers are very similar, I was tempted to go with Cole Hamels on this one.  But with six complete games and the most innings pitched in the National League, I am giving the first half MVP to Roy Halladay.

This man is a beast.  In Tuesday night’s All-Star game, Brian Wilson of the Giants called Halladay a “Cyborg.”  That seems fitting.

There is nothing Halladay won’t do to help his team win.  With 11 wins, a 2.45 ERA and team-leading 138 strike-outs, Halladay is the MVP.

Most Memorable 1st Half Moment:  Tie, Wilson Valdez & Cliff Lee

This one had to be a draw, because both players provided Phillies fans with some amazing memories this year so far.

First, watching Wilson Valdez tow the rubber in the May 25th 5-4 win in 19 innings over the Reds was simply unforgettable.  The Phillies ran out of pitchers and Valdez volunteered.  He pitched one perfect inning and the Phillies won the game in the bottom of the 19th as a result of his effort.

Before this win by Valdez, the last player to start a game in the field and get the win as a pitcher was Babe Ruth in 1921.  But the best part was hearing Valdez joke after the game that he could have gone three or four more innings if needed.

And then this past Saturday, pitcher Cliff Lee provided another memorable moment.  In the third inning, after a 10-pitch at-bat and six foul balls, Lee smashed his 1st career home run off the Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson, who watched in disbelief.

Lee spent most of his career in the American League, with few chances to hit.  But Lee has remarked on many occasions that he prefers the National League because he loves to hit.  And that joy was all over his face as he rounded the bases in front of thousands of screaming fans who gave him a standing ovation.

Watching a man who truly loves the game of baseball be rewarded in a way that is rarely seen was a real treat.  Pitchers do not hit many home runs and it is even less common among pitchers of Lee’s caliber. 

That was a moment that both Lee and all of the Philadelphia fans watching will not soon forget.

 

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Photos by Jenn Zambri Photography

*Read more about the Phillies at my other home page, Phightin’ Phils Phorum in the MTR Media network*

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