Tag Archives: Jimmy Rollins

Lee-thal

18 Sep

Cliff Lee was not ready for his Phillies to be out of the Wild Card chase quite yet so he put the team on his back as they beat the Mets and tough knuckleballer R.A. Dickey 3-1.

Lee allowed seven hits, one run and struck out 10 in eight innings, including his 1500th career strikeout when he got Jason Bay in the second inning.

Lee has been pitching more like last year’s version lately.  He is 4-0 with a 1.63 ERA in his last seven starts.  He has allowed 45 hits, nine earned runs, four walks and struck out 54 in his last 49 2/3 innings.

Jimmy Rollins is another Phillie who seems to have saved his best for last.  He has hit safely in 14 of 16 games this month.  Last night, Rollins scored two of the Phillies three runs including a home run that was initially ruled a triple but after review became Jimmy’s team-leading 21st homer of the year.

While it’s certainly great to see Jimmy being Jimmy and Lee reverting to form, it still may be too late for this season.

The Phillies are now 3 1/2 games back for the second Wild Card spot but four back in the loss column. What does that mean?  Basically, the Phils must win almost all of their remaining games (14) and hope that a lot of other teams do a lot of losing.

So, yes, the odds are long but at least last night, the Phillies took one step back from the edge of the “cliff.”  (sorry)

Not Done Yet

15 Sep

By the time Cole Hamels took the mound last night, the Phillies had already staked the lefty to a 4-0 lead.  Hmmm, 4-0 lead over the last place Astros in a critical game.  Now that’s a familiar story.

But this story had a happier ending, at least for the Phillies.  After last night’s late inning loss, when the Phils scored four runs early and then put their bats away, they weren’t about to let this one get away.  The Phillies scored early and often.  They had 16 hits and scored runs in five different innings in their 12-6 win over the Houston  Astros.

Yes, John Mayberry had 3 hits and 3 RBI’s, Ryan Howard had 2 hits and 3 RBI’s, Chase Utley had 2 hits and 2 RBI’s but the guy who got things “Roll”-ing was the first man to the plate.  Jimmy Rollins has taken his share of criticism this season but when his team needs a spark, a catalyst, a game-changer, the little guy always seems to get the big hit.

Jimmy Rollins’ leadoff home run last night slammed the door on a tough loss the night before and set the tone for the game, a must-win for the  Phillies.

And they had the right guy on the mound, too.  Cole Hamels has been the Phillies most consistent pitcher this year especially when they need a pick-me-up.  He is 9-3 following a Phillies’ loss this season and though he wasn’t at his sharpest, he kept the Astros in check on the way to his 15th win, matching his career-high in victories.

After losses by most of the other contenders for the second Wild Card (except for the Dodgers who beat the Cardinals, thank you very much) the Phils are three games back again, now tied with the Pirates.

So let the scoreboard watching continue!

And buckle your seat belts.  The next couple of weeks should be quite a ride.

It’s On!

13 Sep

Is this meant to be?

Just thank Jimmy and Cliff Lee

Cause now it is 

PAP SAYS IT ALL!

But Not Last Night

12 Sep

It was the kind of game that the Phillies would have lost a couple of months ago.

The kind of game which had you reaching for the Tums and the Tylenol PM.

The kind of game that made you realize for the umpteenth time that this just wasn’t going to be their year.

 But not last night.

 A couple of months age, Jimmy Rollins’ foul popup would have been caught by Miami Marlins catcher Rob Brantly and that would have been that.

 But not last night.

“I usually make an out right after that,” Rollins said. “I’ve definitely had some popups dropped. It usually ends up with a broken-bat ground ball to the shortstop or second baseman.”

But not last night.

J-Roll made the most of his second chance crushing Chris Hatcher’s next pitch over the wall for a two-run home run giving the Phillies an 8-3 lead.  But the Marlins slowly but surely chipped away and after closing the gap to 8-7 in the seventh, you just knew in your gut what was coming.  And it wasn’t good.

But not last night.

With Roy Halladay not at his best and a bullpen looking like the very hittable pen of old, you just knew that somehow this team was going to do something they’ve done far too often this year, find a way to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.

But not last night.

And when Jonathan Papelbon took the mound in the ninth, don’t tell me you weren’t watching with your hands over your eyes, just waiting for disaster to strike.

But not last night.

No, last night the Phillies held on to get a 9-7 win.  It was their sixth win in a row and they are now 14-4 since Aug. 22, which is the best record in baseball during that span.

That’s what happened last night!

Rollins finished the night 2-for-3 with one walk, one home run, three RBIs and three runs scored.  Juan Pierre and Chase Utley each had three hits.  And young reliever Phillippe Aumont got some huge outs in the eighth when after putting two runners on base he struck out Justin Ruggiano and Jose Reyes to end the threat and the inning.

That’s what happened last night!

The Phillies finally reached that elusive .500 mark improving their record to 71-71, the first time they have been at .500 since June 4.

“Being .500 has never made so much noise around here,” Rollins said. “I’m glad that it can.”

Well, get used to it Jimmy because with the Cardinals losing again their lead over the Phillies for that second Wild Card spot is down to four, and if we’re lucky, it’s likely to get a lot noisier!

Back In the Saddle

4 Sep

Call me crazy but I thought yesterday’s 4-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds was one of the Phillies best wins of the year.

Not because rookie pitcher Tyler Cloyd won his first game, giving up only one run on four hits. He didn’t walk a batter and had nine strikeouts, more than he had in any of his 26 minor league starts.

Although that was impressive.

Not because they beat baseball’s winningest team;  the Reds are tied with the Nationals for the most wins in baseball.

Although that, too, was nice.

Not even because the Phillies had to face Reds ace and Cy Young favorite Johnny Cueto in a day game.  He is tied for the most wins in the Major Leagues with 17.  And when it comes to those matinee games, he is virtually unbeatable.  He was 11-0 with a 1.61 ERA heading into yesterday’s contest.

And though that’s really incredible, that’s not it either.

 Nope, it wasn’t Jimmy Rollins hitting his team-high 17th home run in the fifth, his 1999 hit, to give his team a lead they would never relinquish.

Not it, even though that was exciting and makes Jimmy’s next at-bats must see tv, as he shoots for his 2000th hit.

And finally it wasn’t even the fact that the Phils beat the second-best team in baseball with a bunch of guys who were in the minor leagues about a week ago.  After Cloyd’s seven innings strong, Justin De Fratus came in to handle the eighth and Phillippe Aumont, though he gave up one run, pitched out of a jam in the ninth to earn his first save.

So what the heck made it the best win of the year?

For me, it was the fact that after as crushing a loss as the Phillies have suffered all season (in a year filled with crushing losses;)  after that walk-off win by the Braves in a game that the Phils had all but won;  after a loss that prevented a sweep of those Braves and continued momentum for a Phillies team still fighting for relevance; after all that, this team didn’t cry uncle.

Add to that, an incredibly short turnaround, Sunday’s game didn’t end until nearly 8:30 p.m. and by the time the  Phillies showered, flew to Cincinnati and got to their hotel it was around midnight before they had to head to the ball park bright and early the same day for the 1:10 Labor Day start time.

After all of that, it would have been easy, almost expected, for a team to fold up their tents and go home.  Who could blame them? After all, there’s always next year, right?  Isn’t that what we baseball fans always say?

But  this team was having none of that.

What made yesterday’s win one of the best wins of the year for me was that the Phillies, playing on nothing but fumes and pride, beat those first place Cincinnati Reds in their home ball park.

What made yesterday’s win one of the best wins of the year for me was that in a season that has been filled with more downs than ups, on a rainy Labor Day in Cincinnati, this team, our team, still found a way to make us proud.

Hot Dogs, Baseball, Bratwurst and Granita?

2 Sep

Last night my sister, brother-in law and mom were over for dinner to visit with my filmmaker daughter home from New York for a couple of days.  We enjoyed the beautiful night, ate hot dogs and hamburgers and, of course, talked about the Phillies.

After all, my sister is as crazy a fan as I am. (They’re the ones with the dog named Thome, who is a bit depressed these days but hanging in there.)  And my brother-in-law, well he is my Phillies guru.  He knows everything there is to know about the game and is the first person I go to for anything Phillies.

So there we were, finishing off our meal with a very strong espresso granita (it’s like fancy water ice) with home made whipped cream and shaved bittersweet chocolate.  Bittersweet might also be the word to describe our Phillies conversation.

The subjects ranged far and wide from what’s wrong with the team’s farm system to the perils of having an aging ball club.  But in the end, it all came back to this season, and the odds of the Phillies nabbing one of those two Wild Card spots.

Everybody had a different opinion; some opted for the burgers, some grabbed a hot dog and some even went for the chef’s special, bratwurst with sauerkraut.  Oh, you want to know our opinions on the Phillies.  Well, those were equally varied.

Now Jimmy Rollins, no he wasn’t at our dinner,  he was too busy beating the Braves, but he thinks they’re still in it.

“It isn’t going to be easy, but we know we can do it.  I know we can. This team is back to what it should be and it knows how to win. Baseball needs a summer story.  Why not us?”

Yeah, why not?  My sister, my Mom and I really want to believe J-Roll, if only because it makes the remaining games more fun to watch.  My daughter, who wears her Chase Utley t-shirt proudly even in enemy territory, said that as long as they’re not mathematically eliminated, they’re still in it.   (See why I love that kid???)

My brother-in-law and husband, however, were a bit more pragmatic.  They want to believe but the numbers are almost as bracing as that espresso granita!

According to various experts, the math looks something like this: The Phillies must win approximately 20 more games in September and then win their final series of the year, which is against the Washington Nationals (October 1-3)  That sounds doable, right?  Not so fast.  That’s the easy part!

THEN, the Braves, or Cardinals, along with the Pittsburgh Pirates (who were only 0.5 games, now 1.5, behind the Wild Card leaders,) the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have to play at .500, or slightly below .500, from here on out.

Got it?  Not even that espresso jolt can help me figure that one out.

But you know what?  It doesn’t really matter.  I think we all agreed in the end (which tends to come early when you visit my house) that it’s  just fun to be watching exciting baseball again and to think even way, way in the back of your mind, that there could be a chance, even if it’s a slight one, of something really magical happening.

OK, so that last part might have been the frozen margaritas talking!

Enjoy your Labor Day week-end.  And don’t forget the Phils play at 5:05 today with Cole Hamels healthy and on the hill.

You Can’t Script This Stuff

1 Sep

I wasn’t sure exactly how to put last night’s game into words.  There were so many moments that seemed to come straight out of a B movie,  the ones where you’re sure it’s all going to end badly but somehow things always seem to work out in the end.  So lacking words of my own, I decided to turn to the movies for guidance.  (Extra credit for anyone who can tell me where these famous movie lines come from.  And Mom, I mean you!)

“I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”                                                                                                

That pretty much sums up how I’ve felt through most of this Phillies season.  When I turned off my tv in disgust after yet another crushing loss, I vowed not to spend one more night watching this debacle of a season. (Thanks go out to Hal for that one.)

But…

“Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

Then a game comes along like last night ‘s and I’m back grabbing for the standings and studying tonight’s pitching match-up.  (It’s Cliff Lee vs. Tim Hudson, by the way, at 4:05!)

“Go ahead, make my day.”

Couldn’t you just hear Erik Kratz whispering that in Chipper Jones’ ear last night right before  Jones body-slammed Kratz to the ground in a bone-chilling collision at the plate.  The impact actually came a fraction of a second before John Mayberry’s strong throw reached Kratz’s mitt.  But while I was struggling to remember who was the Phils’ back-up to the back-up catcher, Kratz jumped right back up, showed the ump that he had caught the ball and headed for the dugout.  All in a day’s work for this guy.

And speaking of Erik Kratz:

I’m the king of the world.”

Yes, he is.  After spending more than 10 years in the minors, Kratz is certainly making the most of his opportunity with the Phillies.  In 34 games, he is hitting .290 with 8 home runs and 18 RBIs. Last night’s game-tying ninth inning homer against Braves’ ace closer Craig Kimbrel, came on an 0-2 count.  Kimbrel has struck out 34 of the 39 batters he faced this season when he had them down 0-2.  But not this time.  “King” Kratz is sure making a strong case to be the Phillies back-up catcher next season.

“Run, Forrest!  Run!”

Just replace the name Forrest with Jimmy and you’ll get the idea.  After another incident of non-hustle, manger Charlie Manuel benched his on-again, off- again all-star shortstop Thursday, but after fessing up to Manuel, Jimmy was back in the lineup Friday.  Charlie, however, made his expectations loud and clear:  “I want Jimmy to want to run. I want Jimmy to want to run because you’re supposed to run and you should run.”   Forrest would agree:

“From that day on, if I was going somewhere, I was running!”  

And Jimmy would be wise to follow his example.

“I coulda been a contender”

At the start of this season, the prevailing wisdom was that the Phillies would not only be contenders but they were the favorites to win the NL East and maybe even the World Series. As we all know by now, that is not the way things have turned out.  But, after last night’s dramatic win against the Braves, the Phillies are only 8 games out of the second Wild Card spot.  Hmmm, if they sweep the Braves, they’ll only be 6 games out and if they….

OK, I know I’m getting ahead of myself here but remember a team called the St. Louis Cardinals?  They were 8.5 games out of the wild card at this same time last season.  I’m just saying.  But you don’t have to listen to me.  Let’s give the final word to Momma.

“My momma always said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” 

Right on, Momma.

And the same can be said about this crazy game of baseball.

A Winning Weekend

27 Aug

Now that’s what I call a good weekend of baseball.  And it wasn’t just the winning.  OK, it was mostly the winning but these games had a little bit of everything.  So here are my Favorite  Moments from the Phillies sweep (I love that word) of the first place (but I still hate that one) Washington Nationals.

 Final-Lee Money at the ‘Bank’

For the first time in 356 days, pitcher Cliff Lee won a game at Citizens Bank Park.  No, that is not a misprint, Lee threw seven innings of one-run ball and won his first game at CBP since Sept. 5 2011.  And this time he left nothing to chance.  When the Phils offense was off to a slow start, Lee got things started with a big hit of his own, a go-ahead RBI double in the fifth.  Lee allowed seven hits, struck out five and din’t allow a walk.  He’s walked just one batter in his last 42 1/3 innings.  So click your cleats together and  repeat after me:  “There’s no place like home.”

Relief Is In Sight

The Phillies bullpen was on fire during this weekend series bringing to mind visions of what might have been.  Phils relievers combined to pitch 6 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and one walk while striking out 13 batters during the three game sweep. That’s the best this group has looked all year.  Special kudos to lefty Antonio Bastardo, who has struggled mightily this season trying to ‘get his groove back.’  Well he found it this weekend striking out all 4 batters he faced including striking out the side in the critical eighth inning on Saturday to help preserve the win.  Overall the Phillies relievers have put together a string of 11 1/3 scoreless innings during the Phils current four-game winning streak.

And congrats also go out to Josh Lindblom who has struggled with his control and just about everything else since joining the Phillies as part of the Shane Victorino trade.  Entering this weekend series, he was 0-1 with a 7.88 ERA, having allowed seven earned runs, eight walks and three homers in only 9 2/3 innings.  But on  Sunday Lindblom only needed 13 pitches to get the final five outs and earn his first save of the season.  In fact, he is the first pitcher not named Jonathan Papelbon (who was unavailable having pitched 3 straight nights) to earn a save for the Phils this season.

What A Steal!

All season I’ve been singing the praises of Juan Pierre, the crafty veteran who always seems to find a way to get on base and never fails to handle himself with dignity whether on the bench or in the field.  On Sunday, Pierre reached a well-deserved milestone.  He tied legendary speedster Maury Wills, that’s MAURY WILLS!, for 19th  on the all-time stolen-base list.  Pierre, who leads the Phillies with 32 steals, is also baseball’s active leader in the category with 586.  You might say, ‘he’s on a run.’  (Sorry.)

“Chase Utley, You Are the Man”

I couldn’t let this weekend series go by without mention of the quintessential Chase Utley moment we witnessed on Saturday.  You’ve heard the All State Insurance slogan “You’re in good hands,” right?  Well in the eighth inning of a one-run game, Chase decided that the Phils needed some insurance so he followed All State’s lead and took matters into his own hands or should we say feet?  First, he reached base after being hit by a pitch, vintage Utley.  He stole second base, then third and scored on a sacrifice fly from John Mayberry.  This from the man with bad knees???

Let’s Hear It For the Bats

It has been nice to see some Phillies both old and new swinging the bat well lately.  As always it all starts with J-Roll who after Sunday’s home run leads all current Phillies with 15 homers this season.  He has six hits in his last 12 at-bats.  In the weekend sweep, Rollins went 5-for-10 with a home run, two walks, three runs scored, and five RBIs.  Now that’s more like it.  And Ryan Howard continues to work his way back into form.  He’s hitting .350 (14-40) over his last 10 games, including four doubles, one home run and seven RBIs.  Even newbie Kevin Frandsen was in on the weekend action hitting 375 (3-for-8) while John Mayberry, Jr. went 4-for-11 (.364) with a home run, two runs scored, and three RBIs.

For What It’s Werth

On the other hand, former Phillie Jayson Werth was unable to put his money where his mouth was or at least his bat.  After vowing that he would do everything in his power to prevent the Phils from another walk down Broad Street, Werth was a dismal 2 for 12 in the series against his former team with 7 strikeouts, no homers and no RBI’s.  Of course his current team still sits in first place, 16 1/2 games ahead of the Phils, but we must take our solace where we can get it.

So there you have it.  A wonderful winning weekend, perhaps the best of the season.  The Phillies are now winners of seven of nine, and six games under .500 for the first time since June 28.  After entering the All-Star break with 50 losses in 87 games, the Phils are 24-17 since. And even more surprising, they have gone 16-10 since July 31, when they traded Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, 2/3 of their starting outfield.  But that’s baseball, and that’s all I have for today.

I know that’s enough!  Yes, it is a long post but just think, it’ll give you some reading material for a rainy Monday!

Short and Sweet

15 Aug

J-Roll led the way

And the Phils won yesterday

Thanks to Crazy K

 

NOT SO CRAZY K

One More Time!

26 Jul

For the fourth straight day, the Phillies won a game in their last at-bat.

The last three were won with the same score, 7-6.

Jimmy Rollins had the winning walk-off hit in two of them.

The Phillies swept their first three-game series of the season and have won eight of their last 11 games.

If I didn’t know better I’d think we’d found a time wharp back to 2008!  Hey, isn’t that Pat Burrell over there?  (Actually it was.  Pat was here as a scout for the San Francisco Giants, checking out Phillies players for that anticipated fire sale at the Trade Deadline.)  Sorry Pat, not so fast.

Seriously, the Phillies recent resurgence does make Ruben Amaro’s Trade Deadline strategy a bit more complicated.  Even though it has been a wonderful week, the team is still in last place in the National League East, 14 games behind the Nationals and 9 1/2 games behind the NL Wild Card leaders.

But that’s a problem for another day.  Today, we celebrate what has been an amazing four-game run.  And it is no coincidence that it has all happened since the return of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard to the lineup.

Yesterday, Chase went 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs.

And although Howard is still slowly regaining his form, just having him  in the cleanup spot has helped everyone hitting around him.

Of course, there’s J-Roll, who since the birth of his baby, has finally been earning that new contract.

And what more can be said about Chooch, who came in yesterday as a pinch hitter to drive in the tying run with a sacrifice fly.

 But as is always the case when a team starts winning, there are those unexpected contributors as well.

Guys like Eric Kratz,the 32-year-old minor-league lifer, playing for his hometown team after spending 10 years in the minors. And he’s not just playing; Kratz has been in the thick of the action.

On Monday Kratz belly-flopped home with the winning run after entering the game as a pinch runner.

Tuesday night he came off the bench and smacked a two-run pinch homer to spark the rally that brought the Phils all the way back from five runs down to win.

And on Wednesday, starting at catcher to give Carlos Ruiz a break, Kratz went 3 for 5 with a pair of doubles and an RBI single.  His biggest hit was the one-out double in the 10th that set up the Phillies’ fourth straight victory.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention oft-maligned Phillies starter turned reliever Kyle Kendrick.

Krazy K has pitched 20 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen, quickly becoming Charlie’s most reliable option.  

He has not given up an earned run in the month of July.  (Not so crazy, huh.) 

So, all in all, It has been quite a week.  I can tell things have improved since for the first time all year, I wish the Phillies did not have a day off today.

By the way, I should mention that the Phillies also signed Cole Hamels.  Just in case you really were living in 2008 which is the only way you could have missed it.

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