Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Utley, Polanco to DL

Just when the team appeared to be back on all cylinders, there is more bad news.

Chase Utley and Placido Polanco have been placed on the 15-day DL. Utley sprained his right thumb last night when he was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double, while Polanco has been battling elbow inflammation.

The Phillies recalled Greg Dobbs and Brian Bocock to replace them on the roster. Dobbs, who was sent to Triple-A on June 23 was just 2-for-27 with one RBI for the IronPigs. Bocock hit .179 with one home run and 12 RBI in 65 games with Lehigh Valley this season.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Are the Phils "back"?

Phillies fans have been looking for signs that the team is coming out of their slump since mid-May. They may just be back.

It started with Jamie Moyer against the Yankees. After Roy Halladay was roughed up by the Yanks in the series opener, Moyer was outstanding in an unlikely 6-3 victory. Kyle Kendrick followed with a brilliant performance the following day as the Phillies took the series from the Yankees on the road.

The bats stayed hot upon returning to Philadelphia in a 9-5 victory over the Twins. The following day's 13-10 extra inning loss was the most difficult of the season. On one hand, the offense was still hot. On the other, the Phils led 8-3 after the third inning, and blew a 9-4 lead in the ninth inning. Phillies fans , in a classy gesture, actually cheered Jim Thome's ninth inning homer because the Phils still led by three. Joe Mauer's home run off Brad Lidge tied the game and the Phillies were dealt a tough loss in a game that featured nine home runs.

The offense didn't show up against Carl Pavano the next day, who out-dueled Roy Halladay in a 4-1 loss for the Phillies.

Give the team credit though. Bolstered by the return of Jimmy Rollins, the Phillies swept the Cleveland Indians by a combined score of 21-10. Rollins' impact showed in just his second game back when he hit a walk-off two-run home run and the Phils followed with a 12-3 blowout the following day.

Last night, the Phillies and Roy Halladay dominated his former team in a 9-0 victory over Toronto.

The Phils have climbed to 2.5 games behind Atlanta. Do we need to take these games with a grain of salt though? Cleveland and Toronto are certainly teams the Phillies should be able to beat. But, during their slump, it seemed as though they couldn't do anything right. Jayson Werth and Chase Utley looked completely lost at the plate, but have both been stroking the ball as of late. The offense looks great again while the rotation and bullpen are coming together. It may just be safe to say, "the Phillies are back."

Friday, June 18, 2010

Phils exact revenge from Yankees, take series

In a rematch of the 2009 World Series, the Phillies took two of three from the Bronx Bombers in Yankee Stadium. This was a huge series for the Phils.

Both teams were headed in opposite directions, while the Phillies struggles have been well documented, the Yankees were rolling.

After dropping the series opener, with Roy Halladay on the mound, the Phillies looked primed to be swept.

But two unlikely arms silenced the hot Yankee bats as Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick looked spectacular on the mound in 6-3 and 7-1 victories respectively.

The Phillies roughed up A.J. Burnett on Tuesday, much like they did in Game 5 of the World Series. He lasted just 3.1 innings, allowing six earned runs. Moyer bounced back from his debacle against the Red Sox to pitch eight solid innings.

Last night, Kyle Kendrick and Andy Pettite pitched seven strong innings. But the Phillies extended their 3-1 lead against Joba Chamberlain, who allowed three runs without recording an out.

There were a ton of positives to take from this series. The Phillies won an Interleague series on the round from the defending World Champs, the bullpen was excellent, two starters delivered brilliant performances, they won two games in a row and the offense 13 runs over those two games among other things.

The Phillies look to keep the momentum rolling against the Twins this weekend.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Help is Coming

Help may be on the way. J.A. Happ will make a rehab start for Double-A Reading today. The young lefty has made just two starts this season, not allowing an earned run in his ten innings of work. With the struggles of the rotation lately, especially Joe Blanton, Happ would be a welcomed addition to the roster.

Jimmy Rollins, who's played in just 12 games this year, begins another rehab on Tuesday. They've been 12 great games. He's hitting .341 with a .462 OBP. He's clearly a big bat missing from the lineup and his return could only help at this point.

After Friday's 12-2 loss and Saturday's 10-2 defeat, the Phillies are 1-4 in Interleague Play.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Moyer roughed up in 12-2 blowout

Another Interleague game, another embarrassing loss. Last night's 12-2 debacle has the Phillies at 1-3 in Interleague Play this year, all against Boston.

Jamie Moyer, who's been solid this year, was horrendous. He allowed nine runs on nine hits in just one inning pitched. He allowed six doubles and one home run in his one inning of work.

The Phillies offense was terrible again, not that it mattered after the BoSox put an immediate nine spot on the board. The Phils were 1-10 with runners in scoring position. Jayson Werth hopes his 3-4 night will get him turned around. The Phillies need to turn themselves around in a hurry.

They are reaching a point where this isn't just a slump anymore. They are not a good team gone cold, they have just been flat out a bad team. The transition they've undergone is amazing, but this "slump" is nearly a month long now.

Now in third place, the Phillies five straight series against AL opponents: Boston, New York, Minnesota, Cleveland and Toronto. They will be in worse shape than third when that stretch ends if they don't figure something out quickly.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Strange play costs Phils in the 10th

The Phillies dropped a tough game to San Diego in the 10th inning yesterday, 6-5. They had a chance to secure their first series victory since last weekend's showdown with the Marlins.

The big story on Friday's victory was Brad Lidge, who looked dominant in a one-two-three bottom of the ninth to secure a 3-2 victory. His slider hasn't looked that devastating since he threw it to Eric Hinske to end the 2008 World Series.

Saturday was all about Jamie Moyer who went the distance in a 6-2 victory that took just over two hours. He's been remarkable this season and he improved to 6-5 while lowering his ERA to 3.98. The offense scored more than three runs for the first time since the day before their slump started when they beat the Red Sox 5-1 on May 21.

Yesterday, the offense took Joe Blanton off the hook early, rallying from a 3-0 first inning deficit to take a 5-3 lead in the second inning. Blanton struggled through his five innings, allowing 11 hits and five runs. His ERA is up to 6.07.

San Diego's bullpen was tremendous against the Phillies as the game stayed tied at five into in the 10th. After Danys Baez allowed a run in the 10th, the Phillies had an opportunity to rally against closer Heath Bell if not for a strange play.

With one out and Placido Polanco on first base, Chase Utley flaired a single to center. Polanco, running hard all the way, tried to advance to third on a play that looked as if he'd make it easily. Tony Gwynn fielded the ball in center and made a tremendous off balance throw right on the bag to nail Polanco at third. That's a play that if you go, you'd better make it. It took a perfect throw to get him, and Gwynn made a perfect throw. Utley also failed to advance to second base on the play. If he's running hard out of the box, there is no reason for him to not reach second base then the throw goes to third. Both miscues cost the Phillies as Ryan Howard singled with two outs before Jayson Werth's strikeout ended the game.

Cole Hamels looks to build off of his recent success tonight and take the four-game set over the Padres before the Phils host the Marlins.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Time for some Changes?

It may be time for a shakeup. At first, this was just a strange slump in the midst of a long and draining 162 game season. But the Phillies have lost 11 of their last 15 and the offense remains non-existent.

Before yesterday's loss, capping off a sweep at the hands of Atlanta, Charlie Manuel took exception with his team. He walked into the clubhouse and found the guys watching movies. He commented to the media that it bothered him, and that they should have been getting ready for the game. You think?

These guys have been awful. They need to find a way out of this before it's too late. You'd think a guy like Chase Utley, who may be hitting the ball worse than anyone right now, would shake up the team with his work ethic. His average has dropped to .270. Nothing is working right now.

The road ahead is no easier. The Phillies open a series with San Diego tomorrow before facing the Florida Marlins, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.

Manuel needs to change a few things. Greg Dobbs and Ross Gload have been horrible off the bench. Dobbs was terrible last year as well and his time in Philadelphia should be over. Maybe they could promote Domonic Brown to play the outfield for a few games. If he plays well, a few of the regulars might get motivated to keep their job security.

At this point, something needs to happen. They need to promote someone or acquire a player who can make a contribution to this team. The window is small for teams to maintain a high level of success year after year. If this slump doesn't end soon, this could turn into a very dissapointing season.