June 20, 2014 |
ATLANTA - The situation demanded emotion, Justin De Fratus decided. It was not that Chris Johnson whiffed at a De Fratus slider in Monday's 10th inning to strand the potential winning run at third base; this represented more to the 26-year-old Phillies righthander. De Fratus pumped his right arm, twisted on the mound, and screamed. "It just felt like everybody in the stadium, everybody in Philly, they're so used to that spot ending in a loss," De Fratus said. "I was like, 'Not this time.' It very easily could have gone the other way. . . . It was a sign of hope.
June 19, 2014 |
ATLANTA - There was enough progress for Cliff Lee to stand on a hill Tuesday to throw a baseball, an otherwise trivial act, except that 30 days had passed between mound sessions. Lee fired 20 fastballs at what he deemed "max effort. " The test, he said, will be how his strained left elbow feels Wednesday. That could determine whether Lee can make a return to the Phillies before the all-star break, which starts July 14. "Potentially," Lee said. "It's tough to sit here and say anything right now. " Lee called his bullpen session "a pretty big step.
June 6, 2014 |
ETHAN MARTIN'S floppy blond locks haven't grown back in the last 10 weeks. At the end of spring training, the Phillies righthander, along with catching prospect Tommy Joseph, shaved his head in support of the Pediatric Cancer Foundation's "Cut for a Cure" campaign. Although his hair has been slow to return, Martin's right arm has come a long way back in the 2 1/2 months since he was last with the Phillies in Clearwater, Fla. Martin made his first appearance of the 2014 season on Tuesday night, posting two shutout innings against the Washington Nationals, with one walk and one strikeout.
June 4, 2014 |
Before Monday's game against the New York Mets, Phillies relievers Justin De Fratus and Jake Diekman sat beside each other at their lockers. Diekman stared intently at his laptop while De Fratus listened to music. The pair had to cherish the time to relax; the bullpen hadn't had much time do that over the last four days. The team's bullpen racked up 25 innings in the series, the result of three extra-inning games. The relievers surrendered nine runs in those innings but just three before they allowed six in Monday's 11-2 loss.
May 13, 2014 |
NEW YORK - Cole Hamels had thrown more pitches yesterday afternoon than he had in any of the 248 big-league games that preceded it. He struggled with command, but he combatted a rising pitch count with sheer talent and perseverance. He put six straight zeroes onto the scoreboard after allowing a single run in the first inning and, when his work was over following 133 pitches, the most any major league pitcher has thrown this season, Hamels retired to the clubhouse for his poststart workout.
May 5, 2014 |
CLIFF LEE was better than Stephen Strasburg, and Marlon Byrd hit a three-run home run. On most nights, that should be enough to steer a team to victory when two aces do battle. When said game also involves an appearance by the Phillies bullpen, however, all bets are off. Buoyed by Byrd's home run, Lee left after seven innings with a one-run lead. But when Lee handed the ball over to the relief corps, they gave up the lead - and then some - before recording an out. The lefty-righty relief combo of Mike Adams and Jake Diekman provided little last night, giving up five straight hits to begin the eighth inning as the Phillies bullpen blew up in a 5-3 defeat to the Washington Nationals.
May 4, 2014 |
The Phillies bullpen continues to be a source of concern. Entering Friday with the worst bullpen ERA in the National League (4.84), the relievers couldn't match the performance of starter Cliff Lee. Mike Adams allowed three eighth-inning runs without recording an out, as the Phillies lost to the Washington Nationals, 5-3, in the opening of a weekend series at Citizens Bank Park. It was the sixth blown save for the Phillies. "I have to do a better job of holding the lead," Adams said.
April 28, 2014 |
PHOENIX - The three-year hunt for an effective bullpen continues, and it has uncovered Shawn Camp, a 38-year-old righthander who became the 11th reliever used by the Phillies in less than a month. He has joined Jeff Manship, another nonroster invitee in spring training, to form half of the righthanded relief options for manager Ryne Sandberg. The Phillies entered the weekend with the National League's worst bullpen ERA. They have tried 31 relievers since the start of the 2012 season, and no combination has yielded success.
April 25, 2014 |
GIVEN THE NATURE of his job, and the geography of his habitat, a major league reliever can sometimes feel as if he is on an island. If he is a Phillies reliever, he often can feel as if that island is 3 miles long, on the outskirts of Harrisburg. After the latest Level 7 meltdown, this one in a 5-2 loss to the Dodgers last night, the club's bullpen ranks next-to-last in the majors in ERA, and, quite possibly, last in ability to complete the necessary repair work. When we say the Phillies have no options, we mean it figuratively only in the sense that their minor league rosters do contain human bodies that possess an ability to throw a baseball overhand, and thus are technically eligible for a promotion in accordance with major league rules.
April 15, 2014 |
THE REAL STORY of this Phillies weekend was not Jimmy's Saturday night walkoff, or Chase's game-winning blast yesterday or even the 6-3 victory Friday. The real story was that Jake Diekman won a game as a middle-inning reliever, and looked comfortable in that spot. And that B.J. Rosenberg pitched perfect innings in two straight games, striking out Giancarlo Stanton in the middle of a statement seventh inning yesterday, then walking off the mound as if, well, he does this for a living.