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!!
A postseason virgin, Roy “Doc” Halladay pitched with surgical precision last night on his way to no-hitting the Reds in his playoff debut.
All I can say is, “Wow!”
After Doc mowed down the Reds in the first few innings, I began to think “Wouldn’t it be cool if he threw a perfect game?” Of course, I think this every time a Phillies pitcher retires the side in order for three innings or so. Perfect it would not be, though, as a walk erased that thought. But the no-hitter was still intact!
Due to the rather inconvenient starting time of 5:07 (who comes up with these things, anyway?), I missed portions of the game while picking up the kids from CCD. We also needed to eat dinner, but I left the TV on so we could at least hear it while eating. I was thankfully able to sit down and properly watch the final two innings, as history unfolded across my screen.
Game 1 to the Phils! Hooray! No game tonight; Roy Oswalt will take the mound tomorrow in Game 2.
Random Thoughts on the NLDS so far:
– Just like last year, the lousy sound on TBS is going to drive me crazy! Would someone please get them some better microphones? The crowd always sounds muted and tinny, like it’s at the end of a long metal tunnel. It would have been nice to get a sense of the excitement in the ballpark over the broadcast, instead of having to take the announcer’s word for it.
– There are no former Reds on the Phillies’ roster, though the Reds have three former Phillies on theirs: Arthur Rhodes, Miguel Cairo, and Scott Rolen. No deep meaning, just an observation.
– Speaking of Scott Rolen, does that man ever smile? It’s one thing to be intensely focused on the game (i.e., Roy Halladay), but Rolen looks like he’s either constipated or plotting mass murder.
OK, so that photo is from last season, but that’s pretty much the way he looks whenever the camera happens to show him. Yo, Scott, there are millions of men who would love to trade places with you to play the game they love for a living, so could you at least look like you’re having a little bit of fun??
Doc Halladay must have known I needed something to get me excited about the playoffs, so he went out tonight and no-hit the Reds, allowing only one baserunner on a walk. Wow, talk about making a splash in your postseason debut!
So I have now officially caught the playoff Phever!
And I am now officially over Cliff Lee. I can scrap my cloning plans from last year – with H2O, it’s better living through chemistry!
[longer post tomorrow, when I have more time]
…she says sarcastically.
Popped over to the Zo Zone earlier today, and saw that Sports Illustrated has seen fit to
curse honor Roy Halladay on the cover of the Baseball Preview issue.
Need I remind you all of Cole Hamels’ season last year, after his cover appearance in February 2009?
I know, I know, there’s no such thing as curses. Despite Hamels’ subpar 2009, the Phils did still make it to the WS. Nonetheless, couldn’t they have put, oh, Hanley Ramirez on the cover, or Johan Santana, or the Atlanta Braves team? I’d rather play it safe with this curse thing, you know?
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)
Alright, so it’s not technically winter yet, but it will be in just a few days, so it’s close enough.
And what is the source of my discontent? Why, the fact that the Phillies traded Cliff Lee to the Mariners. I’m irked by the way this whole Halladay-for-prospects and prospects-for-Lee trade triangle between the Phillies, Blue Jays, and Mariners keeps getting labelled as a three-team trade (four, if you count the fact that the Jays then sent Michael Taylor to the A’s in another trade). Maybe if the Mariner’s prospects had gone to the Blue Jays it would be. But they didn’t. This was two separate trades, not one three-way trade!
So while I’m happy to have Roy Halladay, I’m perturbed that we had to give up Cliff Lee AND Kyle Drabek, Micheal Taylor, and Travis D’Arnaud.
In fact, Cliff Lee doesn’t sound so thrilled either. From phillies.com:
“At first I didn’t believe it,” Lee said. “I thought we were working out an extension with the Phillies. I thought I would spend the rest of my career there.”
In my opinion, this trade was not about restocking the farm system, and not about getting something for Lee before he becomes a free agent and goes looking for a Sabathia-like contract. No, it was about not wanting to spend an extra $9 million next season.
Even if Lee was only here for one more year, wouldn’t it have been great to have a rotation with Halladay, Lee, and Hamels at the top?
Last time I checked, it was still pitching that wins ballgames, not prospects.
Note to Ruben Amaro: I am not happy!!
Wait, let me say it louder:
I AM NOT HAPPY!!
I AM NOT HAPPY!!
I AM NOT HAPPY!!
Can you hear me now, Ruben?
Q: What do the Mariners, Blue Jays, and Phillies all have in common?
A: At one time or another, Pat Gillick was the GM. Coincidence, or something more? You be the judge.
If You Can’t Clone Them, Create Them
If only I’d perfected that plan to clone Cliff. We could have traded one, but kept a few others. *sigh*
But I have a new plan. According to an ad in my Sunday newspaper, I can create my own kids, for free!
I just need to figure out which combination of ice cream and mix-in would create a child with the ideal qualities – a combination of Halladay’s dominance, Lee’s work ethic, Hamels’ change-up, Victorino’s speed, Howard’s power (but without the tendency to strike out), and Utley’s postseason heroics. I’d need to get nine of them to fill out the lineup. But since it’s only valid for children 12 and under, I’d have to wait about 10 years or so for my plan to come to fruition. And if they’re made out of ice cream, they may be more suited to playing ice hockey than baseball.
Oh well, back to the drawing board.
Holiday, er, “Halliday” Shopping Update
I stopped in my local Modell’s this morning to look for a Christmas gift for one of my nephews. My timing turned out to be fortuitous – they were just opening up boxes of brand new Halladay t-shirts, so I snatched one. Hopefully my nephew doesn’t read this blog, or now he knows what he’s getting for Christmas :-).
But if any of you are bargain-hunting, the prices on the Cliff Lee t-shirts were slashed from $17.99 to a mere $10, due to the aforementioned trade.