Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kennedy blanks Phils, spoils Lee's 12 K's

The bats remained quiet last night as the Phils dropped the opener in Arizona, 4-0.

Arizona starter Ian Kennedy improved to 3-1 with a three-hit, complete game shutout. He struck out ten and didn't walk a batter. It was Kennedy's first career complete game. He's 13-15 with a 4.29 ERA during this career. Not exactly the type of pitcher the Phillies want to dominate them.

Cliff Lee was impressive in defeat, allowing four runs on five hits over seven innings, with twelve strikeouts. He made few mistakes, but when he did, the D-Backs pounced. Chris Young hit a two-run bomb in the third to straight away center on a fastball right down the middle. Geraldo Parra hit a solo shot in the fifth, just barely clearing the left field fence for his first dinger of the year.

Kennedy was on cruise control all night, only having to pitch out of trouble when Placido Polanco doubled with one out in the first. Polanco had two of the Phillies' three hits, while Jimmy Rollins collected the other on an infield single.

Polanco has been the only consistent contributor in the Phils' lineup, as his .372 average would indicate. Many of the regulars are struggling, including Rollins (.256), Ben Francisco (.253), Raul Ibanez (.179), Carlos Ruiz (.230) and Wilson Valdez (.254)

Roy Oswalt (3-0 1.88) will look to build upon his strong start tonight, opposing a struggling Daniel Hudson (0-4 5.92) whom the Phillies will look to get back on track against.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Halladay fans 14 to secure sweep

The Phillies continued to own the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park this weekend, as they completed a four-game sweep yesterday with another brilliant performance from Doc.

Roy Halladay struck out a career high 14 batters in 8.2 innings, improving to 3-1. He was clinging to a 3-0 lead in the ninth, but was pulled after allowing a run. Antonio Bastardo needed just one pitch to pick up his first save of the year.

Shane Victorino hit an inside the park home run in the ballgame, on a weird play as the ball bounced out of the glove of a diving Will Venable and shot past Cameron Maybin into unoccupied territory in center field.

The Phillies offense is still struggling, but the team received excellent pitching in San Diego. Roy Oswalt kicked off the series with a 2-0 victory, and Cole Hamels followed with a 3-0 win on Friday. Joe Blanton was solid in a 4-2 extra inning victory on Saturday in which Ryan Howard picked up the game winning hit after he'd struck out in every prior at bat.

The Phils have not scored more than four runs in 13 consecutive games.

Jose Contreras hit the 15 day DL with a strained right flexor pronator tendon, which is located in the elbow. Ryan Madson will close in his absence but Bastardo could also get the call again.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Phils summon long ball to rally

The Phillies appeared to be going quietly yesterday, trailing 3-0 entering the sixth with only one hit.

Cliff Lee didn't have his best stuff yesterday, much like Roy Halladay didn't the night before, but Lee battled and kept the Phillies in the game. In six innings, Lee allowed three runs, two earned, on eight hits, one walk and one home run. He struck out only one.

But the Phillies started a potential rally in the sixth and capped it with something that's long eluded this club, the three run homer.

Wilson Valdez worked a lead-off walk. With one-out and a 3-2 count to Shane Victorino, Charlie Manuel sent Valdez. Rickie Weeks ran to cover second, and Victorino hit a little spinner that bled through the infield and into right for a base hit. Vic blasted a solo shot that cleared the right-center field stands and entered the Phillies' bullpen, narrowly missing the catcher's head while he warmed Jose Contreras up.

Contreras shut the door in the ninth, allowing a hit and striking out two to seal the win and a much needed victory to avoid a sweep.

The Phils are on the west coast to face the San Diego Padres for a four game set. Roy Oswalt (2-0 2.50) will make the start after leaving his last game with discomfort in his back. He'll be opposed by Mat Latos (0-2 5.84).

Then, Mr. Clutch, Placido Polanco ripped a three-run bomb to left to tie the score and take Lee off the hook.

Kyle Kendrick and Ryan Madson each pitched a scoreless inning before Victorino led-off the eighth and hit the opposite of his bleeder in the sixth. Vic blasted a solo shot over the right-center field fence and into the Phillies' bullpen, narrowly missing the head of the catcher warming up Jose Contreras.

Contreras shut the door in the ninth, allowing one hit and striking out two to seal the win and a much needed victory to avoid the sweep.

The Phils are on the west coast for the four game set with the San Diego Padres. Roy Oswalt (2-0 2.50) will start tonight after leaving his last game with discomfort in his back. He'll be opposed by Mat Latos (0-2 5.84).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wolf outduels Halladay 9-0

The Brewers handed the Phillies their first series loss last night in an ugly 9-0 blowout.

Former Phil Randy Wolf silenced a Phillies lineup that has been scuffling of late, while Roy Halladay struggled for the first time this season.

Halladay uncharacteristically struggled with his command all night, throwing 73 strikes on 112 pitches. He only walked two, but worked into deep counts during his 6.2 innings. Halladay surrendered six runs on ten hits. David Herndon relieved Halladay in the sixth and immediately allowed a three-run bomb to Casey McGehee.

Meanwhile, the Phillies managed just two hits against Wolf, who struck out five and walked three in his six strong innings. Wolf managed to pitch a great game despite the lack of the Wolf Pack supporting him from the right field upper deck.

The Phillies will look to salvage a game in the series with Cliff Lee on the hill this afternoon and avoid their first sweep of the season.

Monday, April 18, 2011

3-2 Victory gives Phils split with Fish

The Phillies earned their division leading tenth victory of the season on Sunday, behind another strong outing from Cole Hamels and a clutch at bat from Chooch.

Hamels got the tough luck no decision, pitching a very strong game but falling on some bad luck in the sixth when he allowed two runs on a few bleeders off the end of the Marlins' bats.

The Phillies looked like they were going to score plenty of runs against Marlins starter Anibal Sanchez after getting to him for two runs in the first. Placido Polanco hit his first home run of the year, and Raul Ibanez came up with a clutch, two-out single to drive in Jimmy Rollins from third. Rollins had executed a well timed delayed steal, and advance to third on an error as the ball sailed into center field. After Ryan Howard walked, Ben Francisco popped up with runners at the corners and one out, putting the Phils at risk to waste a prime opportunity. But for the second straight game, Rauuuul came through with a man in scoring position and two outs.

Hamels was cruising with the 2-0 lead, as the Phillies struggled to get any more rallies started against Sanchez, getting themselves out on some bad pitches early in the count. After seven strong innings, Hamels exited the game deadlocked in a 2-2 tie.

Carlos Ruiz got a chance to put the Phils in front in the bottom of the eighth and he did just that, working the count and driving a breaking ball to center field for a sacrifice fly, scoring Howard from third to give them a 3-2 lead they would not relinquish.

Jose Contreras did not have his best stuff, but with runners at second and third and two outs in the ninth, he induced a game ending ground-out from Omar Infante to seal the victory.

The Marlins entered the game one game behind the Phils; so the win allowed the Phillies to maintain their division lead.

The Phillies have the second most wins in the National League, behind only Colorado (12-3).

They've yet to lose a series this season, after splitting the Marlins series due to the rain out on Saturday.

The Phillies open a set with Milwaukee tonight, with Joe Blanton (0-1 10.45) on the hill against Shaun Marcum (2-1 2.55).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Round One to Werth

Jayson Werth got the best of his old teammates last night as the Washington Nationals handed the Phillies their third loss of the season, 7-4.

Werth went 2-for-3 with a home run, a double, two runs scored and a walk.

Blanton was a little better than his first start, but still struggled, allowing five runs on seven hits, one walk and one home run over six innings. He struck out four.

Livan Hernandez pitched very well, allowing just one run, a solo homer to Ryan Howard in the second, on seven hits, no walks and six strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work.

The Phillies have several wasted opportunities at the plate, most notably a John Mayberry pinch-hit strike out with one out and the bases loaded in the 7th.

Tonight, the Phillies will really look to show Werth that he made a mistake in leaving when he has to face Roy Halladay.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Series Preview vs. Nats

Phillies fans have had this date on the calendar circled for months. So has Jayson Werth.

The Phillies will visit the Washington Nationals tonight and get their first look at Werth in a Nats' jersey. There are sure to be tons of Phillies fans invading the stadium; and he's likely to get mostly cheers from fans of both teams.

Werth is off to a slow start this season, hitting just .200 with one homer, one RBI, three doubles, seven walks and seven strikeouts. He's certain to have extra incentive at the plate these next few days. Here's a look at the match-ups:

Tonight- Joe Blanton (0-0 14.54 ERA) vs Livan Hernandez (0-1 4.76 ERA)
Blanton was cruising in his first start of the season against the Mets last Wednesday with a 7-0 lead in the fifth. The wheels quickly fell off the track as Blanton failed to make it through the fifth, allowing seven runs on ten hits, two walks and one home run in 4.1 innings. Big Joe is typically a slower starter, but needs a big bounce back start tonight.

Hernandez was on the mound for Washington on Opening Day in a loss to Atlanta. He pitched 6.1 innings, allowing two runs on four hits with three strikeouts and no walks. He was the tough luck loser in that game. In his other start against the Marlins on the sixth, he lasted five innings, surrendering four runs on six hits and five walks with one strikeout. Hernandez was fortunate to receive a no decision and is also looking to rebound tonight.

Wednesday- Roy Halladay (1-0 0.69) vs. John Lannan (1-0 3.60)

Halladay picked up right where he left off during his Cy Young award winning season in 2010. He cruised through seven scoreless innings in an 11-0 victory over the Mets in his last start. He's allowed just one run through 13 innings.

Lannan has seen plenty of the Phillies during his young career, and that's been a good thing for the Fightins'. Lannan is 0-8 in his career against Philadelphia with a 6.09 ERA. Lannan has been decent so far in 2011. He beat the Braves on the 2nd, allowing one run and five hits in five innings pitched. He also lasted just five innings against the Marlins, allowing three runs on seven hits in a no decision. He's aiming to beat the Phils for the first time in his career.

Thursday- Cliff Lee (1-1 7.84) vs. Jordan Zimmerman (1-1 3.18)

Lee delighted Phillies fans in his second debut with the Phils, striking out eleven Astros over seven strong innings. He allowed three runs on four hits, with no walks. His last start against the Braves was terrible; he lasted just 3.1 innings, allowing six runs on ten hits, one walk and three strikeouts. Lee will be the second Phillies' pitcher in this series seeking redemption.

Zimmerman has pitched well for the Nats this season. He took the loss on April 3rd against the Braves, giving up just three runs (two earned) on four hits through six strong innings. He beat the Mets on the 8th, allowing two runs on six hits through 5.1 innings.

The Phillies will look to continue an important trend they've started early in 2011: winning the series. They have two series victories over division opponents, and a sweep against one of the cellar dwellers in the National League. Another inner-division road series victory would be a nice way to return home to face the Marlins this weekend.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Hamels dominates Braves for series victory

The Phillies are off to a great start, and stand at 7-2 after taking the series from the Braves in Atlanta.

Cole Hamels was dominant in yesterday's affair against Derek Lowe. After a rough outing, or really a rough inning, against the Mets in his first start, Hamels got the bounce back he needed.

Just like last year, Hamels was pitching in a close, low scoring tilt in which his offense was struggling to support him. He didn't need much though.

The run the Phils scratched across the plate in the fourth was plenty for Hamels, who cruised through seven shutout innings. He allowed four hits and one walk while fanning eight. Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras slammed the door on the Braves in a 3-0 victory.

Shane Victorino hit his first home run of the year in the sixth, a solo blast on a rare pitch left up from Lowe.

The Phillies got to Braves' closer Craig Kimbrel for a run in the ninth. Jimmy Rollins led off with a double and advanced to third on a fielding error by Jason Heyward. Ryan Howard's ground-out drove Rollins home.

After Cliff Lee got touched up a bit, taking the loss in the opener, the Phils' bats supported Roy Oswalt on Saturday. The 10-2 victory was highlighted by Carlos Ruiz's pinch hit grand slam. Brian Schneider also went deep for the first time this season in the win.

The Phillies are doing exactly what good teams need to do. They've won each series against a division rival, and swept a bad team. They stand two games ahead of Florida in the standings.

Through nine games, the Phillies are third in MLB in runs with 59, trailing Cincinnati and the Chicago White Sox. They lead MLB in hits (107) and average (.334). They're second in OPS (.865) and OBP (.380).

The Phils will get their first look at Jayson Werth in a Nationals uniform tomorrow in Washington.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Phils, Doc cruise to 11-0 victory over NY, ATL next

The Phillies are off to a tremendous start, wrapping up the opening homestand 5-1 with a 11-0 victory over the Mets yesterday.

To the surprise of many, it's the Phillies' bats that have done most of the talking this season. After dropping the opener on a dreary night on Tuesday, the Phillies jumped on Mets' starter Mike Pelfrey on Wednesday, taking an early 7-0 lead. But Joe Blanton really struggled in the fifth, allowing New York to come back and tie the game.

But like good teams do, the Phillies jumped right back on the board in the fifth and sixth innings, taking and securing a wild 10-7 victory.

With Roy Halladay on the mound for the rubber match yesterday, the Phillies gave him plenty of run support. After taking a 6-0 lead in the fourth, everyone got the sense that with Doc on the mound, six runs would be plenty. They were, but just for good measure, the Phillies rocked Mets' pitching for eleven runs. Raul Ibanez hit the game's only homer, his first of the year in the seventh inning. Placido Polanco drove in four runs, and Wilson Valdez knocked in three.

Meanwhile, Ryan Howard is off to quite possibly the best start of his career. He's among the league leaders in just about every offensive category with his .480 average, two home runs, eight RBI, three doubles, .500 OBP and .840 slugging percentage.

He's not the only bat off to a tremendous start. Ben Francisco is hitting .320 with two homers, Polanco is hitting .440, Jimmy Rollins is hitting .375 with two stolen bases, Ibanez is hitting .304, Valdez is hitting .429 and some backups like John Mayberry and Pete Orr are batting .600.

The Phils are set to open a big series with the Atlanta Braves, who just lost three out of four in Milwaukee after starting the season 3-1.

Cliff Lee gets the call tonight against Tim Hudson in Atlanta's home opener. Roy Oswalt will oppose Brandon Beachy tomorrow and Cole Hamels will look to get back on track against Derek Lowe in the finale.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hamels struggles in first loss of season

On a frigid, windy night in Philadelphia, Cole Hamels became the first ace to falter.

Taking on the hated New York Mets, Hamels didn't make it out of the third inning; allowing six runs on seven hits, two walks and three strikeouts in a 7-1 loss.

Hamels got into a jam in the first inning, but worked out of it impressively and appeared to be back on track. Jose Reyes led off with a hit, and Hamels hit Angel Pagan with a pitch. After a double steal, New York had runners at second and third with no outs. Hamels then struck out David Wright, forced Carlos Beltran to pop out to second, and struck out Scott Hairston to end the inning and strand the runners in scoring position.

After a one-two-three top of the second, Hamels entered the third in a scoreless tie. The Mets put six on the board without an extra base hit. Opposing pitcher Chris Young led off the inning with a single, and later hit an RBI single in the same inning. Young's second hit ended Hamels' night.

It's hard to put much stock in this game. Yes, everyone wanted to see Hamels come out strong after an inconsistent spring; but the weather conditions at Citizen's Bank Park were brutal. It was freezing and extremely windy. At least fifty or sixty fans were crammed into the elevator lobby in the upper level at any particular time, looking for relief. The longest concession line: hot chocolate.

Last night was not baseball weather and hopefully it was just a fluke of a game. But while the Mets produced seven runs on thirteen hits, the Phillies struggled at the plate as well.

Shane Victorino was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts at the top of the order. Placido Polanco drove in the Phillies' only run on an RBI double in the sixth.

Joe Blanton takes the ball for the first time this season tonight, opposing Mets' Opening Day starter Mike Pelfrey. Pelfrey allowed five runs in just 4.1 innings against the Marlins.

Monday, April 4, 2011

How Sweep It Is

What a great way to start!

The Phillies are 3-0 after sweeping the Houston Astros at Citizen's Bank Park this weekend. The pitching was excellent as expected, and the bats have been hot since the 7th inning of the first game.

Cliff Lee picked up the first win for a starter this season while exhilarating the fans during his seven inning, eleven strikeout performance. He allowed three runs.

Roy Halladay allowed just one run over his six strong innings in the opener, and was taken off the hook for the loss by the dramatic ninth inning comeback.

Roy Oswalt faced his former team for the first time yesterday, allowing just two runs over six solid innings. The starters combined for 23 strikeouts and just one walk.

Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are encouragingly off to outstanding starts. Rollins is 6-for-12 (.500) with a stolen base and four runs scored. Howard is 7-for-13 (.538) with a homer, six RBI, one double and three runs scored.

They aren't the only ones slugging. Ben Francisco is hitting .462 with a home run and made a tremendous catch in right yesterday while crashing into the wall and dislodging the San Diego panel on the out of town scoreboard. Placido Polanco is hitting .417, and Wilson Valdez is hitting .364.

It was a great weekend in every way as the Phillies played all around good baseball. They'll enjoy a day off today before opening a set with the Mets tomorrow with Cole Hamels on the hill.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Phils win thrilling opener, Lee tonight

What a way to start the season!

The offense struggled early, picking up where it left off last year. As everyone knows, the bats woke up late; capped by a ninth inning rally and a walk-off victory on John Mayberry's RBI single.

Roy Halladay and Brett Myers traded zeros early, but Doc left the game after six strong innings, trailing 1-0. Myers went seven strong, allowing just one run.

Trailing 4-0 in the seventh, the Phillies rallied for two in the bottom of the inning, and three in the ninth for the victory.

Tonight, Cliff Lee makes his second Phillies debut against Wandy Rodriguez. Charlie Manuel tweaked his lineup a bit with the southpaw on the mound for Houston:

1. Shane Victorino, CF
2. Placido Polanco, 3B
3. Jimmy Rollins, SS
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Ben Francisco, RF
6. Raul Ibanez, LF
7. Carlos Ruiz, C
8. Wilson Valdez, 2B
9. Lee, P

This is a good opportunity for Francisco to show Charlie that he can protect Howard in the lineup and bat fifth in the order against lefties.