After Saturday night’s authoritative 11-6 thumping of the Cardinals (which really should have been 11-3 but for three meaningless runs scored in the top of the 9th), I had high hopes for Game 2 of the NLDS on Sunday.
The Phils jumped on Chris Carpenter for four early runs, and I was liking the chances of going up 2 games to none on the Cards. But then the unthinkable happened – Cliff Lee blew a four run lead. Granted, he didn’t seem to be at his sharpest last night – he allowed a leadoff triple in the first, and a leadoff double in the second, but managed to wiggle out of those jams. Things would start to unravel in the fourth, when the Cards pulled to within one run, and go further downhill from there.
In the meantime, Carpenter was yanked after three innings, and the parade of relievers must have lulled the Phillies into one of their all-too-frequent offensive stupors.
The Cardinal bullpen yielded only one hit the rest of the way, a single by Jimmy Rollins, which was quickly nullified when Rollins got picked off to end the seventh.
I should have known better than to get too optimistic. After all, the Cardinals are the only NL team to have a winning record against the Phils this year, so I certainly shouldn’t expect this series to be a cakewalk. Also, I’m a Phillies fan – a member of a group of people known for their pessimistic tendencies. I’m pretty sure it must be a chemical they put in our water ;-).
Today is an off day, so let’s hope the Phillies snap out of it, and get back to hitting (and winning) tomorrow in St. Louis. Especially you, Carlos Ruiz, and you, Placido Polanco, both hitless thus far! Let’s get to work!
You might think that now that my kids have been back in school for almost two weeks, that I might have found some time to finally post pictures from my latest trip to the ballpark, way back on August 26th. Sadly, you would be mistaken. Inevitably, each day managed to have something else crop up.
Except for today.
So, finally, here is my photographic coverage of that game against the Marlins. The Phillies lost, 6-5, so I won’t go into a whole game recap. That sort of thing is available elsewhere, if you’re so inclined to read it.
So the Phillies have now clinched a postseason berth, and could very well clinch the division before my next foray to South Philly on Monday night. Let’s hope I can get those photos posted in a more timely fashion. 🙂
(all photos by me)
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! 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!
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.
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. 🙂
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. 🙂
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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?
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.
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).
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!
OK, so I borrowed that little cliche from the Philadelphia Inquirer, who informed us this morning that the Phils’ sweep of the Astros marked the first time since 1970 that the team has begun a season with three home wins.
What a great way to start off a highly anticipated season of Phillies baseball!
Last Friday, though, I was feeling more apprehension than anticipation. First, it was April Fool’s Day, which just doesn’t strike me as a good day to begin the baseball season. Second, upon awakening that morning, I was greeted not with warmth and sunshine, but with the sight of snowflakes falling outside. Not just any snowflakes – giant, mutant snowflakes that began sticking to things. Third, the Phillies were facing the Astros, who are – get this! – the only NL team with a winning record against the Phils since 2004, and owners of a gaudy 16-7 record at Citizens Bank Park during that span (!). OK, so now it’s 16-10, but still…
But we had Roy Halladay on the mound, while they countered with Brett Myers. This seemed like a good thing. Roy is the reigning NL Cy Young winner, and Brett Myers is, well, Brett Myers.
Halladay breezed through the first eight Astros batters, but then Brett Myers – Brett Myers! – singled for the first Astros hit of the game. Myers would get another hit in the fifth, so of the five hits Halladay surrendered, two of them were to the opposing pitcher.
As if that weren’t painful enough for me to stomach, Myers was the one who looked more ace-like, needing only 85 pitches though 7 innings, while Halladay threw 101 in 6. Still, Halladay had given up only one run.
Then the bullpen got into the game, and promptly gave up three more runs. With the Astros up 4-0 in the seventh, some of those watching at home may have given in to the urge to turn off the TV, thus saving themselves from further distress.
O ye of little faith.
Make that me. Yes, it pains me to admit that I turned it off. I couldn’t bear to watch anymore! I later found out that the Phillies cut the lead in half in the bottom of the seventh, and then staged a ninth inning comeback with a barrage of singles to end up winning 5-4.
Thankfully, the next two games of the series were much less stressful to watch. 🙂 Cliff Lee struck out 11 as the Phils won, 9-4; Roy Oswalt was victorious over his old team in a 7-3 win for the Phils.
Today is an off day, and tomorrow the Mets come to town, facing fourth ace Cole Hamels to start off a three-game set. C’mon, Cole, let’s keep that momentum going!!
The Phils kicked off Spring Training 2011 today with a news conference to show off their much-ballyhooed-before-they’ve-even-thrown-a-pitch-together rotation. I’m not sure what the whole point was, really, as no new ground was covered. The questions were predictable, as were the responses.
All five starters were present.
Yes, five. Of course, the way the media have been hyping the “Four Aces”, one could be forgiven for forgetting that there is, in fact, a fifth starter. You know, the Other Guy, Joe Blanton.
At one point, one of the media members led off a question to Cole Hamels by stating that he was the “only one with a ring”. Uh, hellooo? Joe Blanton was on the ’08 staff too. Said reporter quickly corrected himself. I guess he’s been listening to all that hype a bit too much.
The pitchers themselves seem to be trying to downplay the whole “Four Aces” thing. When asked which of the nicknames for the rotation they liked best, Cliff Lee asked what they were. Someone out of range of the microphone rattled off a few. Kudos to Cliff for pointing out that all he heard in those nicknames were references to four guys, but there were five guys up on the podium.
Even after the conference had ended, Comcast’s Michael Barkann referred to the “Mount Rushmore” of rotations in his wrap-up.
Hmm, not a bad image. But look! There’s a bit of space there to squeeze in a fifth head.
OK, so it’s a wee bit smaller than the others. Let’s just hope that the starting five can live up to the “monumental” expectations already being thrown their way.