Tagged: Ryan Howard

I Give My Thanks to Ben Francisco

If not for Ben Francisco’s leadoff homer in the top of the 12th, I would have been doing this today

BangingHeadAgainstKeyboardStreetSig.gif Banging Head on Computer Keyboard image by TheKen08

as I sat writing about Brad Lidge’s seventh blown save of the season.

The Nose Knows

Things had looked bleak back in the sixth, with the Phils down 2-0. I was already envisioning doing the head-banging thing, as Rich Harden had been perfect through 5 1/3. But then Carlos Ruiz walked with one out. J.A. Happ then made a pathetic attempt at a sacrifice bunt, popping out to Derrek Lee and failing to advance Ruiz. So with two outs, Jimmy Rollins comes to the plate, and my husband announced he could “smell” a two-run homer.

Sure enough, Jimmy came through to tie the game!

The Phils went up 3-2 in the eighth, when Ryan Howard walked with the bases loaded. Thank you Ryan, for not striking out!

But darn it, Brad Lidge came on in the bottom of the ninth. Unlike last year, he has been anything but “lights out” this year. As mentioned earlier, he allowed the Cubs to tie the score, for his seventh blown save. Ready…to…tear…hair…out! Guess it’s a good thing Charlie doesn’t have too much of his own hair left, because if he felt like I did, he’d have been yanking it out by the handful.

Fast forward to the top of the 12th, and Francisco’s homer puts the Phils ahead. Heading into the bottom of the 12th, I commented that thankfully Lidge couldn’t come in again to blow another save. Chad Durbin entered the game and did what Lidge could not, preserve a one-run lead to get the save.

Give Me An ‘O’!

Today’s Inquirer had a good write-up about prospect Domonic Brown, who was recently promoted to AA-Reading. According to the story, Brown remains a shy prospect despite the recent attention cast on him by various trade-deadline rumors, and only recently informed the Phillies that they have been spelling his name wrong ever since he was drafted.

So I looked in the 2009 Media Guide, and sure enough it was spelled “Dominic”. I also noted that he had been drafted in 2006! A mere three years ago. Better late than never, I guess.

This Sunday we’ll be heading to Reading for the game, so I hope to get a good look at (and some good photos of) Brown in action.

More Nuggets of Happiness and Fun

Phils Take 3 of 4 From Reds

After Monday’s offensive explosion resulted in a 22-1 demolition of the Reds, as I expected, the Phils sputtered and lost the next game, 4-3. But they bounced back and took the next two, by scores of 3-2 and 9-6. Last night’s victory even included an inside-the-park home run from Chase Utley. He scored standing up, no less! Not even a close play at the plate. Hooray for the Phils and for Chase!

Victorious Victorino

Shane Victorino will be going to the All-Star Game, having overtaken Pablo Sandoval on the final day of voting. Shane will join Raul Ibanez, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard as the Phillies’ representatives next Tuesday in St. Louis. Hooray for Shane!

I’m Going to the Game Tonight!

I get to go to my first Phillies game of the season. Hooray for me! They will be hosting the Pittsburgh Pirates, who are currently in the cellar of the NL Central. Hopefully that translates into a win tonight. Even if there are no offensive fireworks during the game, we will be staying for the fireworks after the game. Though I have to say, tickets for four of us (me, husband, two kids) cost a small fortune – I informed the kids that they’d better enjoy the game no matter what, and there was no way we were leaving early. I demand that I get my money’s worth!

What a Weiner!

And finally, a little tidbit I saw in yesterday’s newspaper, though I don’t think it’s breaking news. The head of the player’s union next year is going to be a real weiner.

hot_dog_2612.jpgActually, not that kind; his name is Michael Weiner, and judging by this article on ESPN.com, he sounds like a likeable, qualified guy. But you just know that name is going to lead to some really bad puns at some point.

Thoughts For Today

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:

readingfirstpitch.jpg

Shown here is Reading reliever Chance Chapman:

reading_chapman.jpg

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)

I Hate My Sinuses!

Today’s entry is going to be a short one, because right now I’m developing a wicked headache. I’m not sure if I’m getting a cold, or my allergies are acting up, but all I know is that my sinuses are doing something which is resulting in post nasal drip, which is causing me to sneeze and cough. The coughing is now unfortunately giving me a headache.

Anyway, a few quick thoughts from the holiday weekend.

Phils Take 2 of 3 From Yankees

Brett Myers pitched well on Friday to lead the Phillies to a 7-3 win, which I recounted in my last entry.

On Saturday, J.A. Happ went 6 innings and would have been in line to get the win, as the Phillies were up 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth. Then Brad Lidge entered the game and all hell broke loose. Johnny Damon walked to lead off the inning, and then with one out, A-Rod homered to tie it up. Robinson Cano then singled and subsequently stole second, so that Melky Cabrera’s bloop into short center allowed him to score the winning run. Yanks win, 5-4.

The way the Yankees reacted, you’d have thought they just won the World Series. Heck, even a come-from-behind-in-the-ninth win should be old news for them, as they lead the majors with 17 come-from-behind wins, with nine of those coming in the final at-bat.

Sunday, Cole Hamels allowed two runs in six innings of work. The Phillies had a slim 3-2 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, and once again, Brad Lidge blew the save. This time the game went into extra innings, with Carlos Ruiz knocking in the game-winning run in the top of the 11th, giving the Phillies a 4-3 victory.

John Mayberry, Jr. Makes His Debut

Mayberry made his major-league debut in Saturday’s game, and made a splash by hitting a 3-run homer for his first big-league hit. He also added a double, to go 2-for-3 on the day.

Why, just last Tuesday I saw John taking some big cuts at the Lehigh Valley IronPigs game:

mayberry.jpgCongratulations John!

What Is Up With Lidge?

Brad Lidge blew two consecutive save opportunities this weekend. Is his knee more of a factor than he and the Phillies are letting on? Is the pressure of living up to the expectations that resulted from last season’s perfection getting into his head? Is it something else entirely? Whether the issue is physical or mental, I hope the Phillies and Lidge soon figure out what is wrong, and please, please, please take steps to remedy the problem. We need a healthy and effective Lidge!

Monday of the Marlins

Other than Ryan Howard, the Phillies offense was lackluster yesterday in a 5-3 loss to the Marlins. Howard provided all the offense, with a two-run homer in the first, and a solo shot in the sixth. Jamie Moyer allowed 4 runs, with three of them coming on a home run by Wes Helms in the fourth, after Moyer walked the first two batters of the inning. Helms went 3-for-4 on the day with 4 RBIs.

Hey Wes, how come you never had games like that when you were a Phillie?

The Phillies and Marlins meet again tonight, with Joe Blanton facing off against Andrew Miller. Come on, guys, let’s get back on the winning track!

(photo by me)

Clean Sweep in D.C.

Weekend Roundup

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?

It rained.

At least they were able to get five innings in before the skies opened, making for an official, though rain-shortened, game.

Minor Matters

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?

Up Next

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.

Phils Swept by Mutts, er, Mets

As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog entry, my sister and I rooted for opposing teams during our formative years. I was, of course, phaithful to the Phillies, while she rooted for the Mets only because she had a crush on Lee Mazzilli. As sisters so often do, we made fun of each other’s choices – the best way for me to get on her nerves was to refer to the Mets as “Mutts.”

Well, judging from this photographic evidence, maybe I wasn’t so far off. Here’s last night’s starting pitcher, Mike Pelfrey, with a little tongue action going on:

tongue1.jpg

Not wanting to miss out on the fun, David Wright joins in on the tongue-wagging:

tongue2.jpg

Kind of like pound puppies, hoping to find a loving home. Well, keep looking, you’re not welcome in my house!

Anyway, the Phillies once again did not heed my advice and administer a butt-whippin’ to the Mets. They were swept in a short two-game set.

In the first game, Chan Ho Park took the mound for the Phillies, looking for a decent start after being pretty dismal so far this year. As Johan Santana was pitching for the Mets that night, all logic seemed to indicate that this game was a lost cause.

Miraculously, Park matched Santana through six innings, before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in a scoreless game. Six innings, one hit, 2 walks, and 5 stikeouts! Way to go, Chan Ho! Who’d of thunk it? Unfortunately for Park, his ERA is still a less than stellar 6.67.

The Mets plated an unearned run in the bottom of the seventh, as Carlos Delgado was able to score all the way from first, on a bad throw by Pedro Feliz that sailed past Ryan Howard and into the outfield. Jayson Werth may have had a play at the plate, but he hesitated before throwing.

Need I remind these guys what happens when you hesitate?

That lone run would be enough, as the Mets won, 1-0.

In the second game, Jamie Moyer pitched like you would expect from a relic 46-year-old, giving up 7 runs in 2 1/3 innings. Props go again to the bullpen, for pitching 5 2/3 scoreless innings and giving the Phils a chance to stay in the game.

And they did try their darndest to come back once again. Ryan Howard launched a bomb to the deepest part of the field; too bad there was no one on base. Jayson Werth hit a 2-run shot to left. After being down 7-1, the Phils managed to get as close as 7-5, but there would be no miracle.

Oh well.

The Phillies are back home now for a weekend set against the Braves. Despite the two losses, they still hold a slim 1/2 game lead over both the Mets and Marlins. Let’s not let it slip away!

(both photos Julie Jacobsen/AP)

 

Feeling Grand

Last night, the Phillies took on the NL Central-leading Cardinals in St. Louis, and emerged victorious. Joe Blanton held the Cards to just one run over six innings, and managed to wiggle out of a one-out, bases loaded jam in the bottom of the sixth.

After getting a groundout to start the inning, Blanton walked Ryan Ludwick and hit Rick Ankiel to put runners on first and second. The next batter hit a grounder to Pedro Feliz, who proceeded to have a brain cramp, and apparently couldn’t decide whether to tag the lead runner coming towards him, or throw the ball to second.

He hesitated, and we all know what they say about he who hesitates.

“He who hesitates loads the bases.” No, wait, that’s not it. “He who hesitates incurs the wrath of the Phans.” Oh, that’s not it either. Actually it’s “He who hesitates is lost,” but that just doesn’t sound as interesting.

Anyway, the next two batters struck out and grounded into a fielders choice, respectively, to end the inning. The bullpen once again pitched three scoreless relief innings, and Blanton got the win as the Phillies came out on top, 6-1.

Happy Howard

happyhoward.jpgRyan Howard had reason to be smiling after this game, as he hit his second grand slam of the season in the fifth inning. This was Howard’s seventh career slam, tying him with Mike Schmidt for the franchise record. I’m sure this is a record that will be broken, as Howard still has plenty of seasons ahead of him.

Scary Moment of the Game

In the top of the eighth, St. Louis centerfielder Rick Ankiel ran face-first into the outfield wall after catching a fly ball off the bat of Feliz. The ball rolled away from his hand as he fell to the ground, and it was not immediately clear if Feliz was out or not (he was).

ankiel_wall.jpgAnkiel was taken to the hospital after being carted off the field. X-rays and scans were negative, but he was kept overnight for observation. Thankfully, it seems that he will be OK, and he has since been released from the hospital.

I will admit that I am not a fan of Ankiel, but I would never want to see an opposing player seriously hurt during a game. What’s really unbelievable to me is some of the comments that I have seen posted to coverage of the incident – derogatory comments directed to Ankiel, or people only wanting him to be OK because he is on their fantasy team. What is wrong with these people?!

Up Next

Anyway, tonight is the conclusion of this quick two-game series, and then it’s on to New York for two games at Citi Field. Two more chances to kick some Met butt for me, guys! I know you can do it!

(Howard photo by me; other photo by Jeff Roberson/AP)