July 18, 2012 |
LOS ANGELES – If the Phillies are going to make the kind of second-half run they insist is possible, they likely will need to utilize the same formula that Monday night led to a 3-2 win over the Dodgers. That means excellent starting pitching, near-flawless relief, and some timely hitting from their established stars. Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins both hit solo home runs, while Joe Blanton held the Dodgers to two runs over eight innings before turning things over to Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth as the Phillies won for the third time in four games since the All-Star break.
July 8, 2012 |
The only type of variety seen at Citizens Bank Park these days comes from the manner in which the Phillies will fall short. Other than that, Saturday's loss felt like the one before it, or the one before that, or any one of the nine losses the team has suffered through in its last 10 games. On Saturday, the team picked a poisonous mix of an early blown lead, poor pitching, and little mistakes that weighed heavy on the shoulders of a squad that just can't catch a break. The Phillies, who now sit 12 games below .500, dropped this one, 6-3, to the Braves.
June 27, 2012 |
The fans were bored because the Phillies were winning big, but boredom is preferable to apathy these days. So the wave started Monday in the seventh inning of an 8-3 rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the toxic atmosphere that has invaded a ballpark for much of this season eroded. It's a long way to relevancy for the Phillies. Nights like Monday made it look easier. Or, as Chase Utley - mere days away from returning - said beforehand, "All it takes is one good bounce our way and things can change.
June 23, 2012 |
In his last 22 2/3 innings of work, Joe Blanton has struck out 20 batters while walking just one, a ratio that is the definition of ideal for a major-league pitcher. Opponents are hitting just .227 against the Phillies righthander during that span. The problem? The pitches that make it into play are traveling a long way, prompting speculation that he is tipping his pitches. Thursday, Blanton said he doesn't think that is the case. "I feel like I wouldn't be getting strikeouts and not walking guys if I was tipping pitches," said the 31-year-old veteran, who entered Thursday night having allowed more home runs than any other pitcher in the National League.
June 21, 2012 |
The smallest announced crowd of the season watched baseball Wednesday at Citizens Bank Park, and by the time Hunter Pence laced a fastball to left in the ninth inning, many had left. So there was a noticeable hush as the ball hung in the hazy air. Once it thudded off the green wall, there was a little bit of magic again. Finally, the Phillies have a comeback victory. They did it in dramatic fashion, beating the Colorado Rockies, 7-6, while down to their final out in the ninth after Jonathan Papelbon turned a tie game into a sure defeat.
June 15, 2012 |
MINNEAPOLIS - For a few innings after Jim Thome clobbered the 607th home run of his Hall of Fame career, fans in right field searched for the ball. It flew so high into the Minnesota sky Thursday that when it landed, it plopped deep into a flower bed at Target Field and vanished. Eventually, once a Twins grounds crew member fetched the ball following a Phillies' 6-1 victory, it would belong to Thome. The slugger tries hard to recover all of his home run balls - he had procured his two previous ones in 2012 after fans threw them back onto the field - and they will forever serve as his souvenirs.
June 15, 2012
MINNEAPOLIS — They needed this. They needed this like a fish needs water or a mammal needs air or a Kardashian needs flashbulbs. Over the previous 24 games, the Phillies pitching staff had allowed 126 runs, a total that defies belief when you consider that their worst 24-game stretch of the 2011 season saw them surrender 92. On Thursday night, Joe Blanton surrendered one, shutting down the Twins for nine innings while leading the Phillies to...
June 9, 2012 |
BALTIMORE - Each player in the parade of happy Phillies streaming into the dugout Friday shook Charlie Manuel's right hand. The manager stood on the top step for the majority of a 9-6 victory over the first-place Baltimore Orioles that ended a six-game losing streak and must have wondered if his message had been received. A day earlier, he issued the ultimate slap to the face for a bunch of underachieving millionaires, saying they "scared nobody. " Asked Friday before the victory what affect that can have on a person, Manuel turned serious.
June 5, 2012 |
An hour after another listless Phillies loss Sunday, Chase Utley sat on the grass to the left of the third-base line at Citizens Bank Park. He held his 6-month-old son, playfully jiggling him up and down, and nothing else mattered. The pain in Utley's chronically injured knees had largely subsided for 10 days. The pain of not playing in a 5-1 loss to the Miami Marlins or the 54 games that preceded it is more complex. Being Dad for a few minutes helped. So will a Monday flight to Florida, where the next step in returning to Charlie Manuel's lineup happens.