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.
In my continuing effort to get caught up on blogging about my baseball doings, I’m finally getting around to what I did last weekend (Labor Day weekend). On Saturday, I attended a photography workshop held at Coca-Cola Park, home of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and on Sunday my husband and I headed to Washington, D.C. to take in a game at Nationals Park.
First off, a big shout-out goes to Jenn, of Phillies Phollowers, who gave me the heads-up on the photo workshop. She was in attendance as well, so we had plenty of photographic “phun”. The workshop started off with a classroom session on action photography, appropriate camera settings for freezing action, night games, etc. Then we were set loose in the ballpark for about an hour before the gates opened to the public.
The IronPigs had already finished their batting practice, so the Buffalo Bisons (Mets triple-A affiliate) were on the field. Baseball players must develop a certain obliviousness to people with cameras, as the majority of them didn’t even seem to notice we were there. However, this trio of Bisons decided to strike a pose when they saw several women with lenses trained on them:
We were also able to stake out a spot right next to the IronPigs dugout, affording close-up opportunities. Here are John Mayberry, Jr.,
and Kyle Kendrick,
all looking very serious. C’mon guys, would it hurt to crack a smile? I promise your face won’t break!
Watching all the field preparations from such a close vantage point, I noticed things I hadn’t really seen before. For example, who knew that they actually spray-paint home plate before the game to get it so nice and white?
During the game itself, we had an opportunity to try some really nice lenses, thanks to Dan’s Camera City, the sponsor of the workshop. A good lens makes all the difference, as even my husband could distinguish between pictures taken with my current lens, and those taken with the better lens. It made me realize that the major roadblock standing between me and really great pictures is the lack of a bottomless wallet, as I suffered major sticker shock when I checked out prices on some of the top-quality Canon lenses. If anyone out there knows the location of a money tree, please send me a seed! 🙂
In our ongoing quest to visit all the major league ballparks, for number 21 we made a visit to Nationals Park to see the Nats host the Marlins. We decided to root for the Nationals that day, since they were the home team, and the Marlins are closer behind the Phillies in the NL East race.
This picture was not taken from our seats, as our actual seats were up a level and much further down the left field line. Since that location didn’t lend itself to taking pictures of the game, I got up and walked around for an inning or two in the middle of the game. For a team that plays poorly and doesn’t draw very big crowds, the ticket prices are pretty steep.
We did have a little excitement in our section, though, when Screech ran down the aisle right next to me to deliver personal-size pizzas during a between-innings promotion.
The other thing I wanted to make sure I saw was the Presidents Race. Similar to Milwaukee’s Sausage race, large caricatures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abe Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt burst out of the center field wall and race around the warning track to the finish line near the Nats’ dugout along the first base line.
Since the race began in 2006, Teddy has never won a race. There’s even a website devoted to this fact, Let Teddy Win! Would this be the day Teddy finally won? He came out strong, and was in the lead as they rounded the right field corner.
Unfortunately, George had a sudden burst of speed to win the race, and Teddy ultimately came in last. Here you can see the standings as of last Sunday, 9/6:
Poor Teddy! I felt bad for him, so I bought his bobble-head likeness in the gift shop. After looking through my photos from the day, I think I see why Teddy loses all the time:
His glasses are broken! How can he run fast if he can’t see where he is going? Somebody get that president a new set of specs!
As for the game itself, it was a pretty good one. The score was tied 2-2 after eight, but then the Marlins scored two in the top of the ninth to go up 4-2. Down but not yet out, Willie Harris led off the bottom of the ninth with a solo homer to make it 4-3, and then with one man on base, Ryan Zimmerman hit a walk-off two-run shot to give the Nats a 5-4 victory.
All in all, I liked Nationals Park. The only negative is that everything is rather expensive. The one bright point is the option to park for free at RFK stadium, and then take a free shuttle bus to the ballpark (which we did).
Only nine more stadiums to go! The rest of the quest will have to wait till next year.
There’s still time to submit a caption for the photo from my last post. Only two of you have come up with a suggestion so far. Put your thinking caps on!
(all photos by me)
Today’s entry is a somewhat meandering collection of thoughts with no real connection to each other.
Thank God For The Nationals
The Phillies swept the Nationals in a 3-game series over the weekend, to put their record against the Nats at 10-2. Considering that the Phillies’ record currently stands at 29-20, that means almost a third of their wins have come at the expense of the Nationals. Unfortunately for the Phillies, but maybe fortunately for the Nationals, the two teams do not meet again until September.
My Husband, Good Luck Charm?
On Saturday, my husband and some neighbors went to the game. That makes two games for him so far, none for me. Coincidentally, both of those games featured Ryan Howard grand slams. Maybe I should send him to more games this summer!
West Coast Road Trips
The Phillies are currently on a 10-game road trip, with the first seven of those games in San Diego and Los Angeles. I’m not a big fan of these West Coast swings – 10:05 game times mean that I start nodding off around the fourth or fifth inning. As the games end too late for the results to make into the next morning’s paper, I have to turn on the computer or click on ESPN to see who won. Unfortunately patience has never been one of my virtues.
Fun With The Reading Phillies
In what I’m assuming is an effort to attract more fans, the Reading Phillies have made their Kids Club membership free this year. One of the benefits is free tickets to five different Kids Club games during the season. Of course, the parents have to buy their own tickets. Nonetheless, the four of us can attend the game for $20 – not a bad deal!
This past Sunday was the first of the Kids Club games, featuring a pre-game autograph session for the Kids Club members. Here is my daughter getting her t-shirt signed by R-Phils catcher Tuffy Gosewisch (my son is behind her, also in white):
Game time was a beautiful, sunny 75 degrees. Perfect baseball weather! Here’s a shot of the first pitch, showing some of the surrounding hills, and pretty full stands for a minor-league game:
Shown here is Reading reliever Chance Chapman:
For whatever reason, those alliterative names just seem so appropriate for baseball players.
Although the R-Phils lost to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, 7-4, the kids got to run the bases after the game, and had an overall great time. They are looking forward to the next Kids Club game, on July 5.
And Finally on a Sad Note
I will most likely not be posting any entries for the remainder of the week. Yesterday morning, my husband’s mother passed away after a lengthy battle with emphysema. We will be busy the next few days with helping his dad prepare for the funeral services, and hosting out-of-town relatives. Once things settle back down, I will be back.
(photos by me)
The Phillies somehow managed to sweep the Nationals in four games over the weekend, despite more shaky starting pitching.
On Friday, Joe Blanton gave up 4 earned runs in 5 innings, and did not get a decision. However, the Phillies won, 10-6, in extra innings, thanks to a four-run top of the 12th.
In the first game of Saturday’s day-night double-header, Brett Myers turned in the only quality start of the weekend, giving up 2 earned runs in 7 innings to get the win. Incidentally, both runs were the result of solo home runs – only one other hit was recorded off Myers. The bullpen gave up 3 runs in the 8th to make the game a little closer, but Brad Lidge finally had a solid outing to nail down the 8-5 victory.
In the rain-shortened second game, Andrew Carpenter made his major-league debut and proceeded to give up 5 earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, but amazingly earned the win anyway. Carpenter was the lucky beneficiary of a relatively new and little-known rule which allows the win to go to a pitcher who has pitched less than 5 innings if the game itself is shortened to 5. He was also the beneficiary of a two-run Ryan Howard homer and a three-run Raul Ibanez blast, propelling the Phillies to a 7-5 win.
And lastly, Chan Ho Park gave up 5 earned runs in a mere 1 1/3 innings on Sunday. Thanks to the bullpen, the Phillies were able to record a 8-6 victory.
So How About Those Starters?
In my last entry, I took a look at the ERAs of the starting pitchers. So how did the four-game sweep of the Nationals affect their stats? Incredibly, two of the three regular starters made their ERAs worse!
Only Brett Myers improved, lowering his ERA from 4.81 to 4.50. Joe Blanton’s went up ever so slightly, from 6.82 to 6.86. And Chan Ho Park, after two recent good outings, again stunk it up, with the resulting jump in ERA from 6.00 to 7.08.
Even Andrew Carpenter’s performance, despite getting the win, gave him a less-than-stellar 10.38.
Cole Hamels and Jamie Moyer did not pitch in this series, so their ERAs remain unchanged (5.04 and 8.15, respectively).
Again, infer what you want from this information.
Jackie Robinson, Rain Maker?
The Phillies and Nationals were originally scheduled to honor Jackie Robinson on April 15, along with the rest of MLB. But that game was rained out.
So as part of the rescheduled game, the players all donned the number 42 for Saturday’s second game. Guess what happened?
At least they were able to get five innings in before the skies opened, making for an official, though rain-shortened, game.
Tomorrow, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs have an unusually early day game, scheduled to start at 10:35 in the morning. The weather forecast is calling for a very pleasant day, and since the kids will be in school, my husband is playing hooky from work and the two of us will be enjoying a day at the ballpark.
Although, even though we will be without our own kids, we will likely be surrounded by other people’s kids, as it is Education Day at Lehigh Valley, hence the unusual start time. I’m guessing the park will be full of school groups, though I’m not sure how taking kids to a baseball game instead of school is educational. Maybe there will be statistics lessons between innings?
The Phillies are off today. They open a six-game road trip tomorrow night in Cincinnati, and then travel to New York for three interleague games against the Yankees.
In last night’s 13-11 victory over the Nationals, the Phillies hit not one, but two – count ’em – two grand slams. It’s only the fourth time in team history that two Phillies have hit slams in the same game.
Ryan Howard deposited the first one in the ivy in center field in the fifth inning, to tie the score at 6-6. Each team scored once in the seventh, but in the top of the eighth, Scott Eyre came in and absolutely stunk it up. Eyre gave up four runs without recording a single out – his ERA is now a dismal 10.80. Nats are now up, 11-7.
But did the Phillies give up? No! They recorded 6 runs of their own, capped off by Raul Ibanez’s own slam to put the Phillies up 13-11. Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless ninth to get the save.
– If nothing else, we’ve learned never to count the Phillies out, even when they’re down late in the game. Other than Sunday’s comfortable win, all their victories have been of the come-from-behind variety.
– Jimmy Rollins is on record in this morning’s paper as stating that “I’m ready to hit .400 for the next month.” Is that a prediction, Jimmy? His powers of prognostication seem pretty good, having accurately called the Phils the team to beat in the NL East in 2007, and calling for 100 wins in 2008 (103 including the postseason). The Inquirer also managed to unearth one from 2005, when Jimmy stated he would hit .400 for the month of September, and then went out and hit .402 for the month with a 36-game hitting streak. Hmm. Maybe I should have Jimmy pick a few lottery numbers for me. 🙂
Not so happy stuff
– Brad Lidge is experiencing swelling in his right knee, and was unavailable last night. Is this why Lidge has looked a bit shaky so far this season? Let’s hope it clears up soon, and Lidge returns to his 2008 form.
– Pity the poor Nationals. They hit five home runs last night, scored 11 runs, and still lost the game.
In case you were wondering
The other three grand slam combos in Phillies history are:
1921 – Ralph Miller and Lee Meadows (never heard of either of them)
1997 – Billy McMillon and Mike Lieberthal (Lieby! I remember him)
2003 – Tomas Perez and Jason Michaels (Tomas’ only career grand slam!)
Photo fun: something fishy going on
Yesterday’s photo of Cody Ross examining/admiring his hands is only part of the unusual tableau I captured during pre-game warmups a few years ago at Shea Stadium. Here it is in its full glory:
Do we really want to know exactly what’s going on here? I’m sure there’s a funny caption lurking here, too. Share your best efforts in the comments!
There’s also a second strange photo from this same game, which I’ll include tomorrow. Gotta keep ya coming back, after all!
(photo by me)