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.
…as the Phillies completed a three-game sweep of the Braves last night! The Phils now have a six-game lead over the second-place Braves, and their magic number to clinch the division now stands at 4. 🙂
Hubby and I were fortunate enough to be at Monday night’s game, thanks to our friends Carrie and Ed, who had two extra tickets available. We met up with them by the third-base gate and headed into the ballpark. Upon entering, were greeted by the sight of 20 statues of the Phanatic, painted in various themes by local artists, and currently being auctioned off for charity.
Carrie and I posed with one painted to look like the Liberty Bell.
Just in time for Halloween, it’s “Phrankenstein’s Mascot”! This one is among the four currently up for bids. Bidding ends later today, and apparently there are a lot of people with way more money than they know what to do with! The current high bid for this one is just under $10,000, and another is over $15,000 (!).
Millerrrrr Light, anyone? This friendly (?) beer vendorrr was working the stands prior to the start of the game. Aaargh!
Poor rookies! Pitcher Vance Worley makes his way to the bullpen with his Fancy Nancy backpack.
My daughter would have had a field day in the Braves’ bullpen, with all these beauties to choose from!
Cole Hamels was in fine form, giving up just one run over eight innings of work.
Though he hit homers on Sunday and Tuesday, the “dirty hawt” Jayson Werth did not hit one this night.
Contrary to certain people’s opinions (I’m talkin’ to you, Patti), this is just not at attractive look.
Brandon Beachy, making his first major league start for the Braves, made several throws to first in an attempt to hold Shane Victorino close to the bag.
All was for naught, however, as Shane successfully stole second, and evaded the tag with this slide.
Wilson Valdez has been more than capable defensively while filling in for the injured Jimmy Rollins – he has a gun for an arm, and helped turn two double-plays for the Phillies. The Phils had a total of three DPs this night in support of Hamels.
Carlos Ruiz has been having a fine offensive year for the Phils, contributing an RBI double in this game.
Brad Lidge came on in the ninth to get the save. The rally towels were waving so furiously, all the little white lint particles flying around looked like snowflakes! Well, sort of. Anyway, Brad had a 1-2-3 inning, and the Phils won 3-1!
I was waving my towel with gusto as well, hence no photos of Brad. 😦
After three tight games (3-1, 5-3, 1-0), the Phillies are off tonight with a much-deserved break. They’d best be resting up for the Mets, who come into town Friday for the last regular-season home games. Let’s go Phillies!
(all photos by me) (well, not exactly, my husband took the one with me in it)
Looking skeevier than ever, Jayson Werth’s two-run walk-off blast capped off a dramatic ninth-inning comeback for the Phillies yesterday. Here he is getting a man-hug from Charlie Manuel:
There are apparently those women out there who actually find his look attractive, or, as a friend who shall remain nameless put it on Facebook, “dirty hawt”. I personally do not count myself among these women. I think he looks like he just spent 40 days amongst the wolves.
Nonetheless, today comes word that Werth has switched agents, leaving Jeff Borris for
the devil himself Scott Boras.
With free agency looming after this season, what tiny hope there may have been that the Phillies would be able to re-sign Werth seems to have just gone from infinitely small to totally non-existent. Raul Ibanez and Shane Victorino are both under contract for 2011, and Werth’s likely replacement, Domonic Brown, is also a Boras client. I can’t see Boras making much of an effort to deal with the Phillies, when he can probably get Werth a big payday elsewhere, and also get Brown a shot at the starting lineup next year.
To end on an upbeat note, I will be at the game tonight! The Phils open a 3-game series against the Braves, so the atmosphere at the ballpark should be playoff-like. Cole Hamels will be on the mound, so Phillies, remember…
RUN SUPPORT, PLEASE!
Before I get into my coverage of our final two games, you may recall me mentioning in my last entry that I thought Ed Smith Stadium looks like a motel. Well, I dug through my old photo albums, and found a photo from our visit in March 2000. At the time, it was the spring home of the Reds. Since then, the Reds have relocated to Arizona for Spring Training, and Ed Smith is now home to the Orioles. Here it is:
Unless it’s been refurbished in the past 10 years, this is what the exterior of the part behind home plate looks like. All those railings and doors look just like a motel to me.
March 16 – Day 6
After yet another mouth-watering breakfast at the Inn at the Bay, we made our way to Bright House Field for today’s Phillies-Tigers game. If I haven’t already mentioned it, the Inn at the Bay serves the most awesome breakfasts. We’ve stayed there five times, and we’ve almost never had the same breakfast twice. They are so filling, most days we don’t even need lunch!
Once again, we arrived when the gates opened. New Tiger Johnny Damon signed some autographs (for Phillies fans!) during batting practice. I’m still not too happy with Johnny over that stolen-base-thing last October:
Cole Hamels was on the mound for the Phillies, going five innings with 2 hits, 1 run, and 4 stikeouts. He was looking pretty good this day:
Detroit’s Justin Verlander didn’t have such a great day, giving up home runs to Domonic Brown and Ryan Howard. Overall, he went 3 1/3 innings, with 4 runs on 3 hits:
Speaking of Howard’s homer (his first of the spring), it came on the swing immediately following this shot:
During a pitching change, Johnny Damon, Adam Everett, and Brandon Inge discuss the fly ball that got lost in the sun and just dropped into the Bermuda Triangle of turf between all three of them for a hit. They all appear to have sunglasses – guys, weren’t you using them?
Phil Coke came on in relief of Verlander, and proceeded to give up Domonic Brown’s second homer of the day, a two-run shot. Phil’s pants look like they have enough extra fabric at the bottom for a whole ‘nuther pair:
Domonic Brown had a great day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with two homers and an RBI single. As thanks, he got reassigned to the minor league camp after the game:
New Phillie Danys Baez came on to pitch a scoreless inning in relief:
Greg Dobbs, playing third in place of the injured Placido Polanco, makes contact. Dobbs went 1-for-3 and scored a run:
Jimmy Rollins stops to sign some autographs on his way to the clubhouse. This may have been a mistake, as he was stuck there for the next 10 minutes while fans continued to flock down the aisle. Jimmy is actually one of the most fan-friendly Phillies, so he didn’t seem to mind:
Something I hadn’t seen before was a post-game batting practice. After the final out, the cage was wheeled back on the field, and Raul Ibanez, Carlos Ruiz, and Shane Victorino took additional BP. Shane seemed to be working on his bunting. Afterwards, Raul Ibanez and his son walk to the clubhouse with Charlie Manuel:
On the way out, we stopped for a photo of me in front of the entrance to the ballpark. Since I’m always the one taking the pictures, we need visual proof I was actually on this vacation:
March 17 – Day 7
St. Patrick’s Day dawned rather gray and dreary. On our way to the ballpark, it even rained a little bit. This had me concerned, because our “seats” for today were on the berm, the grassy area beyond the outfield fence. I wasn’t looking forward to sitting on soggy sod.
Not to fear though. By gametime, the skies had cleared and it turned into a sunny, pleasant afternoon for our final day in Florida.
During Phillies BP, Charlie Manuel had a chance to check out the mini-sized Charlie Manuel bat that will be given out to kids on July 6:
Randy Winn and Brian Schneider are loitering behind the batting cage. Something has made Winn grin, though Schneider looks like he just ate a bug:
This trio of trouble is yukking it up at the expense of their fellow fielder, who just muffed a grounder during pre-game warmups:
Mark Texiera and Alex Rodriguez wait their turns in the batting cage. Just what is that huge wad hiding in A-Rod’s cheek? Gum? Sunflower seeds? Some chew? His ego?
Phillies broadcaster Chris Wheeler was on hand to sign copies of his book, “View From The Booth.” Yes, I bought one. There are some who don’t really like Wheels as a broadcaster, but I’ll be interested to read his take on things:
Just before the game started, I met up with Confession of a She-Fan‘s Jane Heller and got interviewed by her on the She-Fan Cam. Click here to read Jane’s coverage of the game, and see the video clip.
In between BP and game time, the Phillies changed from their usual red and white uniforms to their bright green St. Patty’s day jerseys. Joe Blanton took to the mound for the Phillies. Blanton had a Blanton-like outing, going 5 innings, scattering 7 hits and giving up 2 runs:
The last time my husband and I came to Spring Training, in 2007, we saw the Phillies host the Yankees on St. Patrick’s Day, and Andy Pettitte started for the Yankees. Three years later, we are seeing the Phillies host the Yankees on St. Patrick’s Day, and Andy Pettitte is starting for the Yankees. Deja vu!
Randy Winn scores for the Yankees, as the throw to Carlos Ruiz is late:
Ryan Howard tosses the ball to first to get the out:
The Flyin’ Hawaiian can’t fly quite far enough, as this ball got past Shane Victorino for an extra-base hit:
The Phillie O’Phanatic get a bit, um, friendly with the third-base umpire. The mind shudders to imagine the offspring that would result from such an unholy union:
The luck of the Irish was with Jayson Werth as he lauched a three-run homer, which sealed the outcome of the game in favor of the Phillies:
Final score: Phillies 6, Yankees 2
Later that evening, we met up for dinner with Jane and her husband Michael, as it turned out that they were staying just three blocks away from us in St. Petersburg. We all enjoyed a delicious meal, and great conversation. The time flew by, and since we all had flights home the next day, finally had to bid each other good night.
Our flight home was much better than the first – no turbulence, and my husband and I actually got to sit next to each other this time.
(all photos by me, except the one of me, which was taken by my husband)
March 14 – Day 4
The Phillies had a road game today against the Orioles in Sarasota. We opted not to make the drive to Ed Smith Stadium, having been there once a number of years ago. It is not a picturesque ballpark. In fact, the exterior somewhat resembles a motel. I’ll have to dig out a photo from those pre-digital days, and scan it in for tomorrow.
Instead, we decided to take in a Blue Jays – Braves game in Dunedin, with a stop by the Phillies’ Carpenter Complex beforehand to check out some of the minor-league training camp action.
Brandon Duckworth, last with the Phillies in 2003, has returned to the organization on a minor-league contract after stints with Houston and Kansas City. As noted in Larry Shenk’s Phillies Insider blog, and evident in this photo, all the minor-leaguers wear their socks knee-high. No baggy “pajama” pants for these guys!
Two minor-league shortstops work on fielding drills on one of the four practice fields in the complex:
Minor-league pitchers wait between the batting cages to take their turn at a bunting drill:
Prospect Anthony Hewitt, the Phils’ top pick in 2008, awaits his turn in the batting cage (is it just me, or do his feet look really big?):
After checking out the workouts for about an hour, we made the approximately 10 minute drive to Dunedin, spring home of the Blue Jays. Sometimes going to a game in which I have no rooting interest is a nice break – I can relax and enjoy the game action without getting worked up about the outcome.
Brandon Morrow was on the hill for Toronto. Not a great day for him – he gave up six hits and four earned runs in three innings of work:
Braves top prospect Jason Heyward makes contact early in the game. He had a good day, going 2 for 4 and scoring a run:
Kris Medlen started the game for the Braves, pitching two shutout innings:
The Blue Jays watch from the dugout as Aaron Hill makes contact:
The Jays’ Jose Bautista was nearly caught in a rundown, but somehow managed to elude the tag of Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman to make it back safely to first:
Some people will do just about anything to get a foul ball. Even the umpire seems to be watching the kid, and not the game:
Blue Jays outfielder Chris Lubanski is out at second. Lubanski is a non-roster invitee to the Jays camp, having been signed to a minor-league deal after spending the past 6 seasons in the Royals organization. I’ve always kind of followed his progress, as he is a local guy from my area. Having signed right out of high school, he’s still pretty young, only 24:
The Jays ended up dropping this game to the Braves, 8-5. After the game we enjoyed a refreshing postgame brew at the Dunedin Brewery, before enjoying Mexican food for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants when we are in Florida, Casa Tina.
March 15 – Day 5
From St. Petersburg, Bradenton is an easy drive of 40 minutes or so south over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The Pirates were hosting the Phillies today, so we made the drive and got there just before the gates opened.
I parked myself in a prime spot right by the end of the Phillies dugout near the backstop. My husband is left to wander around the ballpark carrying my extra stuff while I’m clicking away at all the activity on the field.
The Phillies came out to stretch while the Pirates were finishing up their portion of batting practice. One anonymous Phillie decided to stick out from the crowd during this drill:
As the players were walking in and out of the dugout, they were mere feet away from me (and everyone else). Most of them seemed to try to not even look up and make eye contact. New Phillie Brian Schneider did come over and sign some autographs for the fans, as did coach Davey Lopes and manager Charlie Manuel – thanks guys! Jayson Werth signed one or two autographs, no more, but I did manage to catch a glimpse of his stylin’ shades:
ESPN’s Dick Vitale and the Schwab were on hand. Dick seemed to be getting a lesson on gloves from Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins. Dick then came over to the dugout and signed autographs for anybody who wanted one:
Zach Duke was on the mound for the Pirates. Duke gave up one run and two hits in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out four, but also walked three:
Roy Halladay pitched for the Phils. He gave up three hits and one run (his first of the spring) in five innings. He struck out six, and walked two:
John Mayberry, Jr., making a start in center field, connects on this pitch to drive in a run with a sacrifice fly:
Ryan Howard “admires” (not) his mile-high pop-up:
Placido Polanco is helped off the field after injuring his knee. He stumbled near the mound while tracking down a wind-blown pop-up. Thankfully, the injury was not serious, as Polanco is now back in action after a few days of rest:
Lastings Milledge is forced out at second, as Jimmy Rollins throws to first to try for the double play (the throw was not in time):
The Pirate Parrot appears to be using a Phillies fan as a footrest. Yo, Parrot, what’s up with that?
Chase Utley chases down a fly ball in the infield on a very windy day. He made the catch, though it wasn’t particularly graceful:
The Phils came out on top in this game, winning 5-1. Another Phillies victory on another sunny, though windy, day!
On our way out of McKechnie Field, we stopped for a quick photo op at the large AT&T advertisement with a cutout where Zach Duke’s head would be. How do I look?
Afterwards, we took a scenic detour to check out the beaches on Anna Maria Island before heading back to St. Pete. We even stopped to stick our feet into the sparkling Gulf waters, but that water is not very warm in March! That explained why we didn’t see anybody actually swimming.
Next up, the third (and final) installment, covering our last two games in Clearwater before we reluctantly had to head home.
(all photos by me)
I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and sort through the many (and I mean MANY) photos that I took during last week’s Florida trip. To make writing about it a less daunting task, I think I will break it apart into at least two, maybe even three, entries.
March 11 – Day 1
Since I’d neglected to go online and print out our boarding passes until very late the previous night, my husband and I were near the back of the line for boarding our Southwest flight from Philadelphia to Tampa. While waiting to board our plane, we realized that the Philadelphia Union soccer team was on our flight with us. Whereas MLB teams have their own charter flights, MLS teams (at least this one) fly on Southwest.
By the time hubby and I got on board, there were no seats left next to each other. So I ended up two rows ahead of him, in the middle seat between two of said soccer players. While soccer players are not exactly behemoths, they are by no means small people. The two I was sandwiched between were both over six feet tall.
OK, so this was going to be a bit cozy.
As there was a very large storm system apparently covering the entire eastern seaboard, we had the bumpiest flight I’ve ever experienced. I am not a fan of flying, especially during turbulence, and most especially when my husband is not next to me so I can squeeze the bejeesus out of his knee. Our approach to Tampa was particularly rough, and since I decided it would be inappropriate to grab the knees of total strangers, I made do with clutching the back of the seat in front of me. After we’d landed, we found out there had actually been tornado warnings in the Tampa Bay area just prior to our arrival. Yikes!
We picked up our rental car and proceeded without incident to our lodging for the week, the Inn at the Bay Bed & Breakfast in St. Petersburg. If you’re ever staying in the Tampa/St. Pete area, I highly recommend it. After checking in, we went for a walk around downtown St. Pete, checking out the empty Al Lang Field, former spring home of the Tampa Bay Rays. It must still be used for something, as the field was nice and green and obviously still being maintained. We made it back to the Inn just in time, as it then started to rain. Later on, we enjoyed an ice cream dinner at Cold Stone Creamery (we’d had a really late lunch and weren’t very hungry).
March 12 – Day 2
The Phillies had split squad games today, one in Lakeland against the Tigers and one in Port Charlotte against the Rays. We toyed with the idea of driving to Port Charlotte, but the weather forecast was not very promising. Eventually, we decided not to risk driving an hour and a half, paying for parking and tickets, and getting rained out.
Good thing, too, as both games did end up getting rained out. In fact, it rained just about the entire day.
We opted instead to drive to Bright House Field to do our shopping in the team store on a non-game day, to avoid waiting in the long line that usually forms at games. We also stopped for lunch at the renowned Lenny’s, and left very full.
March 13 – Day 3
Our first game action! Yay! The Phillies were hosting the Twins today at Bright House Field. We arrived nice and early to be there when the gates opened. Here are some of the better pictures from the day.
Former Phillie Clay Condrey stops by to say “hi” during batting practice:
J.C. Romero peeks out of the clubhouse to check things out during the Twins’ BP. Looks like he’s still eating his dessert:
After March, Bright House Field is home to the Phillies single-A affiliate, the Clearwater Threshers. Thresher mascot Phinley was on hand pre-game:
Catching the ceremonial first pitch from former Phillie, and current announcer, Larry Andersen, was another former Phil, Desi Relaford. It was bubble-blowing time:
Prior to the game, Shane Victorino tips his cap to the crowd:
J.A. Happ was on the mound for the Phillies. He pitched four shutout innings, allowing only one hit, and needed just 49 pitches to do so:
The Twins countered with Carl Pavano, who threw three shutout innings without allowing a hit:
There’s just a wee bit of a height difference between Jimmy Rollins and Justin Morneau:
The Phils’ resident caveman, oops, I mean Jayson Werth, makes contact:
Jose Contreras pitched a shutout inning in relief. How does he stretch his fingers apart like that?
Gotta keep this ball away from me! Twins reliever Pat Neshek has one of the oddest looking pitching motions around:
Final score: Phillies 5, Twins 4
And finally, what better way to cap off a Phils win on a beautiful day at the ballpark, than with a beautiful sunset
That’s it for tonight – Part 2 coming soon!
(all photos by me except for Inn at the Bay)
…to keep the Phillies out of the NLCS! After a very stressful pair of games (for me, anyway) against the Rockies at tundra-like Coors Field, the Phillies have a repeat engagement with the Dodgers for the National League Championship.
I will admit to missing the end of Game 3. I just could not keep my eyes open, and around 1:30 or so, turned the TV off in the middle of the eighth inning with the score still tied. Sacrilege, I know. My husband was already snoring by this time, and I was not feeling terribly optimistic and did not want to stay up even later if they were going to lose.
Then, I dreamed that they had won the game. Imagine my delight to wake up the next morning and find out they really had!
Game 4 thankfully came on earlier, so I didn’t have to worry about nodding off. The Phils took a 2-1 lead into the eighth inning, but it looked like things were about to implode after the Rockies scored 3 runs in the bottom of the eighth. I couldn’t bear to watch, so I again turned it off and proceeded to get the kids to bed.
Before settling down (glumly) to watch The Big Bang Theory – which is a really funny show, if you haven’t seen it yet – I had a few extra minutes and decided to check to see if the game was over, and to my shock saw Ryan Howard driving in the tying runs!
Me (to husband who is coming down the steps): Oh my God, Ryan Howard just hit a two-run double to tie the game!
Him: You’re kidding!
Me: No, I turned it on just in time to see it!
So of course we watched the rest of the ninth, saw Jayson Werth drive in the winning run and Brad Lidge get the final out, and went to bed happy that night.
The First Key to Victory
After many years of watching the Phillies, I’ve come to the realization that quite a few of their winning rallies coincide with my (or my husband’s) act of turning the TV off. Maybe there is a connection! While it results in our missing a lot of the excitement, I’ll try to stick with that plan for the NLCS.
The Second Key to Victory
L.A., meet my lucky shirt…
I realized that I was wearing this very shirt during all three Phillies victories (or at least the parts of them I was awake for), but not during the dreadful Cole Hamels debacle of Game 2. Where was it then, you ask? Well, it was (gasp!) in the laundry. I will not make that mistake again! I will only wash it on off days during the NLCS, which by the way, there are too many of, but that will lead me into a whole new rant.
Game 1 is tomorrow, so I better get started on that laundry!
[blogging note: You may have noticed a lack of entries from me since last week. That’s because when I am very tense about the games, I have a tendency to think not very nice things about the other team. So as everybody’s mom always said, “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all.” Hence my silence.]