Friday, June 22, 2012

Phils take 2 of 3 from Rox but look bad in doing so

The Phillies took 2-of-3 from the lowly Colorado Rockies to open their home-stand, but found a way to continue to make the same mistakes in the process.

Tuesday's 7-2 victory was a much needed boost for the team. Cole Hamels pitched eight outstanding innings and John Mayberry Jr. and Carlos Ruiz each homered.

Wednesday's 7-6 win was just the Phillies' second walk-off victory of the season. But, there were several negatives in the game. Joe Blanton struggled, serving up three home runs over seven innings. Jonathan Papelbon once again struggled in a non-save situation, entering a tie game in the ninth and allowing Colorado to take a 6-5 lead. But the Phils rallied in the bottom of the ninth, capped by a walk-off error on a grounder from Placido Polanco that Todd Helton failed to keep his foot on the bag.

Last night's 4-1 defeat was a particularly embarrassing performance. Jimmy Rollins hit a lead-off home run against struggling Colorado pitcher Jeff Francis. That'd be it for the bats, which failed to support a great outing from Vance Worley. After his home run, Rollins returned to Mr. Pop-up. With runners at the corners and one out in the second inning, Rollins popped a 2-0 pitch to first base. In the bottom of the fifth, Rollins lead-off the inning with a pop-up to second base. Then, Rollins ended his night by grounding into a double-play to end the seventh. Ouch.

Worley worked with a 1-0 lead until the seventh, when Chris Nelson's fifth home run of the year, a two-run shot, put the Rox up 2-1. Michael Schwimer entered in the ninth and predictably allowed a two-run home run of his own.

The result doesn't quite feel as positive and it should. They won the series, but the way they played hte final two games has to leave a sour taste in the fans' mouths.

The Phils remain nine games behind Washington, just one game behind the slumping Marlins. They welcome Tampa Bay to town tonight, who at 38-31 are third in the AL East, 3.5 games behind the first place Yankees.

Cliff Lee ( 0-3, 3.48) will once again be in search of his first victory of the season. It'll be no easy task, as James Shields (7-4, 3.72) takes the mound for the Rays. Lee is 6-5 with a 2.87 ERA in his career against Tampa. Shields is 1-0 in just six career innings against the Phils with a 4.50 ERA and six strikeouts. Sheilds had a terrific April, going 4-0 with a 3.31 ERA. He was just 2-3 with a 4.54 ERA in May, but struck out 46 batters in just 37.2 innings. In June thus far, Shields is 1-1 with a 2.84 ERA in three starts.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Phils swept in Toronto. Things are Bad.

What more can be said at this point?

Are the Phillies really this bad?

It appers so.

The Phillies return home tomorrow after a dreadful road-trip in which they went 3-6, finishing with a sweep in Toronto.

They're sloppy. They're making errors. They're throwing the ball away. They're blowing leads. They're just playing horrible baseball. There is no excuse for how bad veterans like Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence have been.

It was great to see the big man, Jim Thome have a great road-trip with the opportunity to finally start as a DH. He hit his 100th home run as a Phillie yesterday in what could have been his last start with the Phils and possibly of his career.

Thome may have given himself some trade value over those nine games. He's one bright spot on this team, where there aren't many. But the Phillies owe it to him to trade him to a contender in the AL where he can contribute as a DH and try to win his first ring. Ruben Amaro Jr. could also find some much needed bullpen help in moving big Jim's bat. Personally, I'd hate to see him go but it'd be the best thing for him and for the team.

Fortunetly, they didn't lose ground in the NL East because the Yankees swept Washington. But, that was a golden opportunity to gain some ground, yet they still remain nine games back. They're six games under .500.

Things are bad, and they don't appear close to getting better.

Amazingly, Cliff Lee, in his 11th start of the season was once again denied his first victory, despite the bats putting five runs on the board for him. Dating back to Game Two of last year's NLDS against St. Louis, Lee hasn't been able to hold a lead.

Cole Hamels (9-3, 3.34 ERA) takes the mound tomorrow against Colorado. He's just 1-1 with a 5.09 ERA in his career against the Rockies.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Panic time after Phils drop 8 of 9

This just keeps getting worse.

The Phils have lost eight of their last nine games. They're now eight games behind Washington, and three games behind 4th place Miami.

It's not just the bats costing them lately. Shoddy defense, especially from Ty Wigginton at third and Mike Fontenot at second in the absence of Placido Polanco and Freddy Galvis respectively. Those two players mostly cost the Phillies the last two games in Baltimore, turning what could have been a series sweep into dropping two of three. Wigginton of course allowed the winning run to reach yesterday on his ninth error of the year. He made several other misplays the day before, and Fontenot made a very costly error on Saturday along with two other blunders.

The pitching isn't holding up either. Cliff Lee remains win-less after blowing a 4-1 lead yesterday. Cole Hamels is in the midst of a two-game losing streak. Joe Blanton is in a horrendous slump since his complete game shut-out in the beginning of May.

And of course, clutch hitting remains non-existent. Yesterday alone, the Phils left 20 men on base. 20! That's no typo. Carlos Ruiz left eight runners on in his first three at bats alone. They could have blown the game wide open, but let Baltimore hang around and once again, scored early and then the offense shuts down.

They've reached the point of no return. If they don't turn it around, starting tomorrow when they open a series in Minnesota, this season is going to be a lost one. No one knows when Chase Utley and Ryan Howard will return, and even when they do, how effective they'll be. But those two players, coming off injuries, are not going to help them eclipse a 15 game deficit in the standings.
We kept saying, it's not time to push the panic button. It's still early. It's not early anymore, and the panic button has been pressed. It's do or die time. Let's see what these guys are made of.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Phils drop series to Fish, set for LA, Kershaw

This is certainly the most frustrating Phillies team to watch since the dark days. It's hard to pinpoint their identity. Just when it seems they're coming together, they go into another slump.

The Phils wrapped up May with a nice road trip, taking three of four in St. Louis and two of three against the Mets. After a 6-4 victory against the Marlins upon returning home, they lost two extremely frustrating games.

Most would imagine a 3-0 lead for Cole Hamels on Saturday would have been enough to win, but Hanley Ramirez got the best of him with two home runs and the Phillies blew late opportunities to tie the game. They had runners at second and third with no outs in the eighth and managed only one run, and had a runner at second with one out in the ninth but failed to bring him home in a 5-4 loss.

Yesterday, Joe Blanton struggled again and Carlos Zambrano completely shut down the Phils' bats in a 5-1 loss. Miami moved into a first place tie with Washington in the division, while New York is a 1/2 game back, the slumping Braves are two games back and the Phils are 3 1/2 out.

Things won't get any easier tonight, with Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers. Kershaw is coming off back-to-back losses, and is not having as dominant a season as he did during his Cy Young season last year. Still, he's one of the premier pitchers in the league and will be a tough challenge for the Phils. Kershaw is 0-4 with a 5.18 ERA in his career against the Phils, but that was before he developed into the pitcher he is now.

Worley returns from the disabled list to make his first start since May 11 against San Diego.

Los Angeles has the best league of all of MLB, and this could be a tough four-game set for the Phils. But, it's time to start stringing some wins together. When the calendar hits June, it's a little difficult to say, "it's still early."