Saturday, April 12, 2008

Phils Rolling Minus Rollins

Cole Hamels took the mound Saturday night looking to build off his first outing of the year and hoping to get the run support needed to put it away. Likewise, the Phillies were trying to get themselves back to .500, and attempting to win their first series of the year. Hamels came out strong and managed to allow only one hit through seven strong innings while striking out 5.

The Phils offense came out strong as well striking early in the second with a 2 run home run by Pedro Feliz. The Phillies tacked on 3 more in the 5th including a two run shot by Ryan Howard for his third of the year.

It wasn't until Ryan Madson came on in the 8th, that the Cubs managed to strike for a run, but their efforts were quickly diminished only managed that sole run in the game.

It looks as though the Phils are faring well without their MVP shortstop who remains day-to-day on the Phillies roster with a sprained ankle. Despite an abismal first game with the club, Eric Bruntlett is proving to be a solid defensive back up shortstop. Although he doesn't appear to be getting the job done at the plate, his defensive skills are keeping the Phillies where they need to be until Rollins can rejoin the team.

The Phils send Jamie Moyer to the mound on Sunday in hopes of their first sweep of the season against Jason Marque. Hopefully the back to back change up pitchers doesn't give the Cubs an edge and the Phils can put this series away and look towards the Astros to continue their solid homestand.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Finally On All Cylinders.

Friday night the Phils opened a weekend series with the Chicago Cubs, pitting Brett Myers against the fiery Carlos Zambrano. Myers along with the rest of the Phillies were aiming to right the ship as both the teams and Myers last two outings have been less than favorable.

The game started off with a bang as both Derrick Lee and Aramis Ramirez hit bombs off Myers in the first putting the Phils behind early. Myers though managed to gain his composure and keep the Cubs under control allowing for the offense to catch up off a fourth inning 2 run homer run from Pat Burrell.

In the bottom of the 5th Gregg Dobbs smacked a double to left-center that was subsequently dropped by Kosuke Fukudome after a collision with left fielder Alfonso Soriano, allowing Shane Victorino to score and the Phillie to take the lead. In the top of the sixth, Soriano blasted a homer run to left field tying the game back up, but only for a short time as the Phils got two more in the bottom of the sixth take the lead for the duration.

Brett Myers had his first solid outing of the season, going 8 innings, giving up 3 ER with 5 Ks. Brad Lidge came on in the ninth and despite a poorly defensed play by Tso Taguchi, Lidge got the save to secure the win at the start of their 9 game homestand.

This was the first "complete" game by the Phillies this season and hopefully will be a solid building block for the remainder of the season. Tomorrow night the Phils send Cole Hamels to the mound against Ted Lilly with the hopes of getting back to .500 for the season.

Extra Innings Game Sets Tone For the Year.

Thursday nights game between the Phils and the Mets proved to be a long drawn out battle between the two top contenders for the NL East that ended in favor the of the Mets 4-3 in the 12th.

After another strong outting by Adam Eaton, going 6 innings with 3 ER and 5 Ks, the Phils managed to tie the game in the eigth with the help of Pedro Feliz hitting his first homerun in the seventh and then tieing it in the eighth with an RBI out.

The Phils bullpen pitched strong into the 12th, but with the offense unable to put any additonal runs on the board, despite having 1st and 2nd with no outs in the 12th, they began to run short on pitchers. Tom Gordon took the mound in the 12th in which Jose Reyes bombed a double off the Centerfield wall and was brought home by a ground ball hit to Jason Werth in center and was called safe on a close play at the plate.

A tough loss for the Phils after taking the opener to the series and letting it slip away. But if anything this game was a close insight to what fans should expect for the remainder of the year from these two teams.

They will now look towards the series with the Cubs for their first series win and once again try to climb back up to a .500 record.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Phils Miss Allstar Shortstop

Wednesday the Phils had all the momentum heading into their first night game in the last 4. Sending Kyle Kendrick out to the mound who was looking for a more solid outing than his first of the year, the Phillies hoped to take game 2 from the Mets and win their first series of the season. With the injury to Jimmy Rollins from the night before, Charlie Manuel was forced to replace him with Eric Bruntlett in the lineup. An acquisition from Houston in the offseason to try to fill in some holes on the bench in the infield.

Unfortunately for the Phils, Bruntlett is no Rollins, and it seemed as though not having the allstar at short made way for some sloppy fielding as the the Phils committed 4 errors in the game. Kendrick only managed to pitch 2 1/3, throwing 71 pitches and giving up 7 runs, only 1 earned due to the poor infield play behind him.

The only bright spot in this 8-2 loss to the teams rival, is the solid pitching outting by Chad Durbin. Durbing managed to stop the bleeding by going 3 2/3 innings, giving up no more runs and striking out 4.

Hopefully the Phils can come out strong on Thursday, Eaton is coming of a solid start to the year, and with any luck, J-Roll will be back in the lineup.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

PHILS Spoil Mets Opener

The Phillies played part in the final home opener at Shea Stadium on Tuesday, sending Jamie Moyer out to the mound in search of his first win of the season. Moyer managed to hold back the Mets lineup and only allow 2 runs to score in 6 innings, 1 coming off a 2nd inning home run by Carlos Delgado. Heading into the seventh inning it appeared that the Phils offense was stuck on a bus coming from Cincinnati, but they managed to get into the head of Oliver Perez and with the help of a throwing error by Delgado, busted through for 3 runs and the lead. Managing to tack on an additonal 2 runs in the 8th, Tom Gordon was able to come in and shut down the Mets for an impressive save and a solid opening statement by the defending National League East Champs.

Unfortunately a dark spot on today was the early exit of Jimmy Rollins, for an apparent twisted ankle. Hopefully J-Roll is back in the lineup soon.

Interesting points of the day, Chase Utley reached after being hit three times in Tuesday's game.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Phils vs. Reds, 4/7

To close out the 4 game series with the Reds, the fighting Phils send Cole Hamels to the mound in hopes of grasping his first win of the season. With the bullpen taking the load of the first week of the season, it was imperative that Hamels goes deep and gives some of the other pitchers a rest. Monday's game started with a bang as J'Roll blasted a homer to start the game and give the Phils shot in the arm, and three more long balls would be all the Phils needed to tie the series with the Reds as they head to Shea. Hamels had a strong outing lasting 7 innings striking out 4, giving him his first win of the season, and Brad Lidge had a Mitch Williamsesqe save in which he loaded the bases with the help of an error from Tso Taguchi, and allowed a run. All in all a solid outing from the Phils and a good start to the week as they head into a tough next six games with three against the Mets and then home for the Cubs.

Opening Weekend in Cincinnati

After a poor opening series with the Nationals, Charlie has only managed to lose 1 game for us. Hey, one out of three isn't that bad is it? At this rate, he'll only lose 60 games for us, that leaves about 20 or so for the players to lose for themselves.. So lets jump in to the weekend and see what uncle Charlie has in store for us.

Friday Night, Kyle Kendrick's season start was just as anticipated as Brett Myers. Unfortunately for Kyle, his first game ended much like Brett's. 5 innings, 4 earned runs, 2 walks and 1 K. But there was a glimmer of hope in this game. For the second straight game, the bullpen was solid. Going the remaining 4 innings without giving up a run. Fueled by Utley's two homers, the Phils managed their second win of the season, pulling to .500 at 2-2.

Then came Saturday. I have to say that thank God this game was on in the middle of the afternoon and not at night. Hopefully not to many people saw it, or we might have had a mob on our hands. Saturday started as a loss. Every Phillies fan expects a loss every 5 games at the hands of Adam Eaton. So as I sat down on Saturday to watch the first lose of many from the overpaid starter, I was disheartened even more when the game started with a run for the Reds in each of the first two innings. It looked like it was to be a long afternoon. But amazingly something happened, Eaton settled in. This Phils managed to get on back in the third, and another in the sixth, and going into the 8th inning, Eaton was going strong and the game was tied. In the top of the eighth, the mighty giant that is Ryan Howard crushed a bomb that is still going to center field to catapult the Phils to a 3-2 lead. Eaton had done it, he managed to hang on to allow the offense to take over. Brad Lidge, our much anticipated free-agent acquisition was available and it was time for the set up man, Gordon, and the closer to do their work.

Here's where Uncle Charlie decided to wake up from his nap. Bottom of the eighth inning comes and who is trotting out to the mound? ADAM EATON!! What? This can't be! He's pitched a great game, he has the lead in the eighth. Charlie, don't ruin a good thing.... But in his infinite wisdom Charlie allows Eaton to pitch, and to boot doesn't pull Eaton after the home run, but instead waits until the following double, to yank him and bring in your setup man. Way to go Charlie. But wait, he's not done yet.

The ninth inning rolls around and its time to once again put a pitcher in the ninth with the game tied. As if he had thrown a dart at a board, out trots...Chad Durbin. The only one more stunned at this move than the fans, was Chad himself. Apparently Brad Lidge was taking a leak at the time, because Durbin, the guy who's happy with no role on the team, is going to stave off the Reds in the ninth.... yeah...

So when Chad gives up a lead off walk to Dunn, and another to Encarnacion, we are still left scratching our heads. As Norris Hopper successfully bunts over the two runners to give them 2nd and 3rd with 1 out. Paul Bako comes to the plate.

My 11 year-old son could have realized that Bako needed to be walked to set up the double-play. Otherwise it would require a miracle play to get a runner out at home, or a strike out and Chad was having a bit of trouble finding the plate. Bako hits a weak grounder to short, Jimmy looks at the runner going home and out of instinct throws to first..... I guess he didn't want to get charged with an error... Run scores, Phils lose. Uncle Charlie strikes again. Phils 2-3 Charlie 0-2.

Sunday's Game, Unfortunately things are not looking well for Brett. Who once again went 5 innings, giving up 4 earned runs, 3 walks and 4 strikeouts. Followed up by a stellar performance by Clay Condrey who allowed another 4 runs in 2 innings. The only plus out of this game was Lidge got some throwing time, and looked solid, although that probably means he won't be available for Monday's game... good thinking...

1st Series vs. Washington Nat's, 2008 Season.

In hopes of giving Charlie Manuel a chance to make a fresh start with his young talented offense, and his questionable, but somewhat hopeful bullpen, we started out of the gate and fell flat on our faces. In Monday's much anticipated home opener, many questions would be quickly answered. Was Brett Myers ready to start again? Would Feliz and Jenkins fill the necessary holes? Was the bullpen stable enough to compete? Can Utley win the third straight MVP for the Phils? And how many games is our bumbling, stumbling manager going to put in the lose column for us?

So questions one was answered soon enough as Brett Myers struggled to find a rythym only managing 5 innings giving up 3 earned runs with 2 walks and 2 Ks. Claiming he just couldn't get comfortable, the hope was that he would build off this poor start. Unfortunately for Brett, he followed one poor start up with another on Sunday only pitching 5 innings again, this time giving up 4 earned runs, walking 3, striking out 4, but gave up 2 long balls. Hopefully Brett can get his act together.

On the upside, Pedro Feliz and Jeff Jenkins seem to at least be a step in the right direction at this point. Although Feliz hasn't posted any star numbers at the plate so far, he seems to be our best weapon at third and with the inevitable departure of the high touted Wes Helms, it looks like the Phils are making the commitment to Feliz. Jeff Jenkins has had a bit of a better first week at the plate. Posting a .333 batting average, but currently leads the team in strikeouts with 8. Hopefully he can be a bit more patient at the plate.

I want to skip ahead to Utley, so as to not get distracted. Chase is storming out of the gate this year, posting a .519 batting average in the first week. Blasting 3 homeruns already, with 6 RBIs and no strikeouts, it looks like he is well on his way to a MVP canidate year.

The bullpen.....UGH... Whoever decided that Clay Condrey, Chad Durbin, and Tom "Dim Fading Light" Gordon would be solid parts of our bullpen, was smoking some fun stuff.... Eh hem.... Pat Gillick...

This bullpen, spearheaded by great-uncle Charlie, has been nothing short of abismal to start this season.

Game 1, Charlie makes the brilliant move of pulling JC Romero after throwing 12 pitches and strking out two in the 8th inning, to bring in Tom Gordon in a non-save situation. Big no-no. In 1/3 innings pitched, "Flash" gave up 5 hits, 5 earned runs and a walk to blow the game out of the water. Thank you uncle Charlie for losing our first game for us.

Game 2, Debuted our real number one starter Cole Hamels, who pitched a complete gem of a game, minus one long ball to Ryan Zimmerman. Unfortunately, the offense just didn't come to Wednesday's game.

Game 3, The third game featured another poor outing by a starter with the aged Jamie Moyer going 3 1/3 giving up 6 runs, 3 earned on 9 hits. This game has been the highlight of the bullpen so far who managed to go the rest of the game only giving up 1 run in the remaining 6 2/3 innings. This game ended with a gift walk-in run after a stunning bunt in which Rollins managed to go from first to third.