If I Could Turn Back Time…

Not too far back, just to June 25th or so. And I promise I won’t try to sing like Cher. πŸ™‚

On June 25th, the hubby and I made it to our second Phillies game of the year (second for me, that is; he’s been to three now). And this time, the kids and dog were happily off at Camp Grandma, and the sun was shining. So, no complaints from anyone about being ready to go home in the third inning; no worries about what the dog might be destroying while we’re out; no big, cold raindrops to keep my camera away. It was a good day.

Would have been better if the Phillies had been able to muster some offense, but I guess I can’t have everything, hmm?

Though the Phils dropped this interleague game to the A’s, 4-1, they did end up taking 2 of 3 from the visitors. And that’s been the story since then, as the Phils have won 2 of 3 from each subsequent series against the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Marlins, and Braves. This is especially good to see against the AL teams, as the Phils traditionally have dreadful results in interleague games round about this time of year.

Without further ado, some photos from the game:

With no short attention spans to worry about, we got to the ballpark early enough to catch some of the Phillies' batting practice. Here, Jimmy Rollins shoots one into the outfield.

 

The players shagging flies during BP are seemingly unconcerned about all the litter they are creating on the playing field. Ben Francisco, Ross Gload, and a yet-to-be-identified Phillie have quite a collection of debris in front of them.

 

"Hey, you stepped in something!"...."No, you stepped in something"

 

Cole Hamels on the mound for the Phils. Though he gave up just two runs in eight innings, I wouldn't describe his outing as particularly sharp - along with two walks, he committed a balk, hit a batter, and surrendered a home run to Adam Rosales, who is currently hitting a lofty .121 on the season.

 

Maybe Cole was distracted by the debut of his giant facial bandage. My first thought was that he had had some kind of shaving accident, but given the amount of stubble present, I doubt he'd shaved recently. Supposedly there was some kind of "infection" under there - it must have been a doozy, as he was still sporting the bandage over a week later.

 

Though the A's had been wearing relatively tame green jerseys for BP, they changed into these ugly yellow numbers for the game. Note the similarity in color to those worn by the CBP vending corps.

 

The ghastly yellow must have been distracting to the Phillies hitters. Though starter Trevor Cahill looks slightly less than calm and cool, the Phils were able to muster only four hits in this game.

 

One of those four hits came from the bat of Carlos Ruiz, who drove in the lone Phillies run in the second inning.

 

Placido Polanco seems to be auditioning for a part in "The Adjustment Bureau". I guess things just weren't feeling quite right for Polly this night.

 

Polanco seemed to be having "issues" in the field as well. He's since revealed that he is suffering from a bulging disk in his back, so maybe that had something to do with it.

 

When things aren't going well on the field, a glance at the scoreboard is needed to distract me from my displeasure. The moniker "LaLaLand" (or I gues that should be "LaaLaLand") is especially fitting when the Dodgers are hosting the Angels.

 

So now we come to the All-Star break.

The Phillies offense has underperformed more often than I would like, two-fifths of the season’s starting rotation, as well as key members of the bullpen, are on the DL, yet they still sit atop the NL East and own the best record in the majors. πŸ™‚Β Β  Bring on the second half!

(all photos by me)

Meltdowns Can Be Fun!

When they occur to somebody else, that is.

Last night, I didn’t get a chance to sit down and watch the Phillies face the Cardinals until seven innings had been played. I knew the Phils had been trailing 1-0 earlier in the evening, and after seven they were still down, 2-1. But it turns out I was just in time for all the fun.

Fun for the Phillies. Not so fun for the Cards.

Call it what you want – meltdown, implosion, epic fail – the Cardinals’ bullpen had one of the ugliest half-innings I have ever witnessed.

It lasted almost 45 minutes.

There were two hit batsmen (one with the bases loaded); four walks (two with the bases loaded); and four RBI singles. Nine runs scored – eight of them after there were two outs.

They needed five pitchers to get through it.

Two of those pitchers did not record any outs.

Trever Miller started the inning in relief of Kyle McClellan, who had held the Phils to one run thus far. After retiring the first batter, he allowed a single and a walk to put two men on base.

Curiously, Jason Motte, a hard-throwing righty, was brought in to replace lefty Miller and face Ryan Howard. Motte proceeded to hit Howard to load the bases, then hit Placido Polanco to force in the tying run.

Brian Tallet entered next, and got Raul Ibanez to strike out. After giving up an RBI single to Ben Francisco, he was replaced by Miguel Batista. Batista apparently needed a map to find the strike zone – he promptly walked two batters to force in two more runs, and followed that by allowing an RBI single to Jimmy Rollins.

Maikel Cleto was next in the parade of pitchers. He walked Shane Victorino to reload the bases, gave up two RBI singles to Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and then mercifully for the Cards, retired Wilson Valdez to finally end their inning from hell with the Phils now leading 10-2.

Lost in all this were two fine performances by the starting pitchers, Roy Halladay and Kyle McClellan, who each surrendered one run, only to be rewarded with no-decisions for their efforts.

Thank you, Cardinals bullpen, for handing us that win on a silver platter. I hope you’ll understand if the Phillies do not reciprocate tonight.

A Novel Experience

Last week, I was counting the days with anticipation until I would finally get to my first Actual Phillies game this season. We’d managed to get four tickets, so the whole family could go. The seats were really good, so I was looking forward to taking lots of amazing game action photos (well, in my mind they’re amazing; in reality, not always so much). And it was the 4 pm FOX game, so I wouldn’t have to worry about the kids getting tired and cranky.

There was just one problem.

Mother Nature did not cooperate.

On our way to the game, the skies were looking very threatening, so I decided not to take the camera after all. Rain and expensive photo equipment don’t really get along with each other very well. As a result, I have precious little visual proof of being there to share with you, other than a few shots from my cell phone.

On the other hand, this would afford me the opportunity to actually see the whole field with both eyes! I can’t remember the last time I actually did that. Usually I end up missing at least a few great plays, because I’m looking through the camera and happen to be focused on the wrong player – unfortunately, an unavoidable aspect of sports photography. If you wait to see where the play develops, you will inevitably miss the play by the time you aim your camera at it. So, many times it is pure luck that you happen to be aimed at the right player.

We settled into our seats to await the start of the game. There were quite a few rather overdressed people on the field in front of us, wielding a variety of stringed instruments. It’s not every day that you see people in formal wear on the ball field, so I took a quick picture with the aforementioned cell phone:

It turned out to be the Council Rock South high school orchestra, who were preparing to perform the national anthem.

Note the gray skies, and the tarp still visible in the background.

Said tarp was rolled up just a few minutes before the scheduled 4:10 pm starting time. The players took the field, the leadoff batter for the Cubs (Starlin Castro) was announced, and…

the clouds opened up and it started to rain. Not just rain – it poured. Big, fat, cold raindrops. We attempted to make our way as quickly as possible to the covered concourse, along with hundreds of other people who were between us and the shelter. This would have to be the only possible negative to sitting close to the field – it takes a lot longer to get out of the rain! Nonetheless, I’ll put up with getting a little wetter in order to be better able to see the action.

Once under cover, my daughter announced that she wanted to go home right now. You know that wasn’t happening. My son, the voice of doom, wanted to know why we should wait around when the game would end up getting cancelled. Hah!Β  Thankfully, the delay ended up being relatively short, only about half an hour.

The rest of the afternoon was dry (though my clothes were not), and I actually got to see (with both eyes!) some great defensive plays by both first basemen (Ryan Howard and Carlos Pena), a not-so-great defensive play by Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney (who dropped a soft liner off the bat of Jimmy Rollins for an error), a dominating performance from Cliff Lee, and Chase Utley’s two-run double AND two-run homer! The Phils won 7-1, in relatively stress-free fashion.

Afterwards, we browsed in the Clubhouse Store. I was slightly amused to see this DVD still on display:

After all, the Phillies fired Milt Thompson as hitting coach in the middle of last season, replacing him with Greg Gross. Presumably, he was not doing a good enough job of making hitting easy for the Phils’ offense.

I’ll get a second crack at shooting the Phillies (photographically speaking) in less than two weeks, when the hubby and I go sans kids to see the Phillies host the A’s in an interleague matchup. No rain, please!

Belated Pharm Report

On May 22, I finally made it to my first live baseball game of the season. Wait, let me be more specific: my first live baseball game that was not played by 11 and 12-year-olds.

Hard to believe that just less than three weeks ago, we actually had to wear sweatshirts to a Sunday afternoon Reading Phillies game, and even with the extra layer were still a bit chilly. Today, I’m hiding out in my air-conditioned house until I absolutely have to venture outside.

Anyway, back to the R-Phils, who were hosting the Richmond Flying Squirrels. πŸ™‚Β Β  Gotta love that team name. J.C. Ramirez, who was acquired from Seattle as part of the Cliff Lee deal, was on the mound for the R-Phils. Ramirez gave up two runs in the second, but then settled down for the next five innings.

Taking the hill for the opposition was Clayton Tanner, who hails from the Land Down Under. Tanner, looking for his first win of the season, was perfect through six innings (by this point, I was actually kind of rooting against the home team, as it would have been really cool to see a perfect game). With two outs in the seventh, the R-Phils broke through with a single from Matt Rizzotti, followed by a two-run homer from Cody Overbeck to tie things up.

The score unknotted itself in the top of the very next inning, on a solo home run by Richmond outfielder Justin Christian. Richmond would hold on for the 3-2 victory.

Random game photos

R-Phils starter J.C. Ramirez delivers.

Shortstop Freddy Galvis attempts to field a grounder, but unfortunately he will not make the play.

This R-Phils pitcher throws caution to the wind, and does not heed all those childhood warnings about leaning back on a folding chair.

Upon closer inspection of the previous photo, it can be seen that Phillippe Aumont was apparently feeling contrasty that day, and decided to wear blue shoelaces with his red cleats.

The throw to first baseman Matt Rizzotti is not in time to pick off the runner.

Only in the minors – “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” is sung by the Singing Usher, who is wheeled around the warning track by a giant carrot.

Speaking of food, my daughter must have had food on her mind that day, as she thought they were saying “taco” when they announced Paco Figueroa, and mis-heard Rizzotti as “wasabi”. πŸ™‚

 

As for the major-league Phils, just a few more days until I finally get to a game. Yay! The fam and I will be at Saturday’s game against the Cubs. The forecast at the moment looks a little iffy – keep your fingers crossed for me!

 

[all photos by me]

Programming Note

Yes, I know, it’s been waaay too long since my last post. However, I’m perturbed by the fact that many of the images in my prior posts seem to have gotten lost somewhere in the transition from the old mlblogs platform to the new WordPress platform. I’m not happy about this. I’m a visual person; I need my images!

Speaking of images, I do have some photos from a recent R-Phils game to share, but it’s gonna have to wait until tomorrow. And coming up this weekend, I finally – finally! – get to an actual Phillies game this season. We’ll be taking the kids (wish me luck with that), and have really good seats, so you know I’ll be taking the camera! I plan on have lots of visuals for you next week.

Until then, Go Phils!

Hey Joe

Yes, I’m talking to you, Joe Blanton.

I was kind of hoping that in your second start of the season, against the Nationals, you might bounce back a bit from that less than stellar game against the Mets last week.

Silly me.

Instead, you gave up 5 earned runs in 6 innings, and after two starts, your ERA is an unattractive 10.45. Yes, I know it’s still early in the season, so there’s plenty of time to turn it around. I suggest you start rectifying this situation during your next start, on Sunday afternoon.

I’ll be watching.

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In what is becoming a curious trend, the Phillies dropped the first game of their series against Washington, and then came back to win the next two.

This time, it was Joe Blanton who was not sharp in game one (see above). Additionally, he gave up a home run to ex-Phillie Jayson Werth, resulting in my breakfast the next morning being disturbed by the sight of Werth on the front page of the newspaper. Echh.

Roy Halladay took the mound for game two, and had the Nationals shut out through eight innings (yay!). He flirted with disaster in the ninth, giving up two runs, but managed to escape intact for the complete game victory, as the Phils prevailed 3-2.

Also in this game, Washington starter John Lannan faced Ryan Howard with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth, and proceeded to hit Howard on the wrist, driving in a run. Lannan, if you recall, was the pitcher who hit Chase Utley a few years ago, giving him a broken hand.

Yo, John Lannan, stop hitting my Phillies!

For his career, Lannan has faced the Phillies 12 times, going 0-9 with a 5.80 ERA. The Nationals have lost 11 of those 12 games. So bring him on some more! Just let me wrap the players in bubble wrap first. πŸ™‚

Not to be outdone, Cliff Lee finished off a complete game of his own the next night, as the Phils won 4-0.

I think I could get used to this whole “Four Aces” thing. πŸ™‚

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I often find myself wondering about some of the photos MLB chooses to use in the slideshows for each game. For example, why use this one?

my wallet is this big.jpgThe caption states that “The Nationals’ Jayson Werth gestures to teammates on the field during the ninth inning.”

Gesturing about what? Trying to cue the musical accompaniment for a dramatic ninth inning rally? The size of the proverbial “one that got away”? Or maybe the size of his wallet now that the Nationals have grossly overpaid for his services?

I’m sure you readers can come up with something good! Leave a comment if you have an inspired caption to share.

Two Out of Three (x 2) Ain’t Bad

No, taking two out of three from both the Mets and the Braves ain’t bad at all; in fact, I’d say it’s very good.

(and darn it, now there’s another song stuck in my head! Last week, it was AC/DC, now it’s Meat Loaf)

In both series, the Phillies dropped the first game when one of the four aces wasn’t very ace-like. Cole Hamels stunk it up against the Mets last Tuesday (Note to Cole: Giving up two hits to the opposing pitcher in the same inning is never a good idea) as the Phillies lost 7-1. Cliff Lee obviously did not have his best stuff in a 6-3 loss to the Braves.

Cole was able to redeem himself yesterday, going seven strong innings against the Braves as the Phillies won, 3-0.

In the second game against the Mets, Joe Blanton very nearly managed to lose the game after blowing a seven-run lead (Note to Joe: Please don’t do that again. Ever.). Joe was saved from a loss by four scoreless innings from the bullpen, and some timely hitting from the offense for a 10-7 win.

Both series also featured the stress-relieving blowout, courtesy of the Roys. Well, stress-relieving for me, not fans of the opposition. Roy Halladay pitched the Phils to a 11-0 rout of the Mets, and Roy Oswalt got his first-ever regular season win over Atlanta in a 10-2 butt-whuppin’.

Let’s hope the Phils can maintain that momentum, as they head to Washington following today’s off-day.

Funny Photo of the Week

Brad Emaus looks like he’s trying to do a little dance last Thursday (Note to Brad: don’t try out for Riverdance anytime soon).

do a little dance copy.jpg

(photo credit: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Don’t know if he made a little love and got down that night.

Aack! More 70’s music is getting stuck in my head! Must…make it…stop!