Tag Archives: Atlanta Braves

Game 81: Phillies Drowning Themselves at the Halfway Point of the Season

29 Jun

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

 

Phillies Manager Ryne Sandberg feels his team has to improve in every aspect the game.

Phillies Manager Ryne Sandberg feels his team has to improve in every aspect the game.

PHILADELPHIA—At about this time last week when the Phillies went 5-2 on their last road trip, including a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

All of sudden there was some optimism for a hot minute in the City of Brotherly Love, especially since the Phillies are within striking distance of the leaders in the National League East even looking up from last place.

Unfortunately for the Phillies, this current homestand brought us back to a stark reality that they are still going nowhere fast. It reminds me of the two Japanese groundskeepers in the movie, “Major League,” who kept saying their team was “still sh—ty.”

Since winning five straight last week, the Phillies have lost seven of their last nine games including today’s double-header sweep at the hands of the Atlanta Brave at the Citizen’s Bank Park Saturday afternoon and evening.

The Phillies lost the first game 10-3 and the second game 5-1 to sink themselves further down in the National League East race. They haven’t been able to score more than three runs in the first three games of this series. They were 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position in the second game of the double-header.

“It is disappointing we came with momentum, a winning streak,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. “We could have won another game against the Marlins, but these last three games. … It was a tough for sure. It was a lot of things a lack of offense, a big inning there on the pitching side of things and not so good play on defense.”

The Phillies are nine games below .500 at the true halfway point of the season-game No. 81. It’s the same old problems for the Phillies—lack of hitting, poor defense and pitching, though that aspect of their game has improved significantly. Uniting the three kingdoms of offense, pitching and defense on a consistent basis has been a monumental struggle for the Phillies (36-45).

“We have to do things differently,” Sandberg said. “We definitely have to have more opportunities to score runs and then we have to actually score runs. We have to be more consistent in putting the pitching and the defense together.”

In the Phillies last nine games, they are hitting just .139 with runners in scoring position. Sandberg said he still believes his team is good enough to contend, but they have to play fundamental baseball, something they don’t do on a regular basis.

“We can definitely sharpen up on just playing clean baseball and execute in situational things,” Sandberg said. “The starting pitching has to be consistent, but we have to play good defense behind that pitching.”

In the first game of the twin-bill, first baseman Ryan Howard committed two errors that led to a pair of unearned runs that got the Braves back into the game after the Phillies had taken a 2-0 lead. The bullpen gave up five runs in the eighth.

Centerfielder Ben Revere said despite the Phillies current run of misfortune, the team is still capable of putting together a solid run to get back in the race. At the rate they are losing and the way they are playing, it just doesn’t seem to be possible that the Phillies can turn it around.

“We can go on a roll at any time, win a couple series and sweep a couple of good teams and we’re right back in it,” Revere said. “We have to keep battling. We’re at the halfway point, but it’s a long season and we have the team to do that.”

They better to do it quick because the season is not far from being on life support, if it’s not there already.

 

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Revere’s RBI Single Lifts Phillies to Win over the Braves

17 Apr

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Ben Revere's RBI single was the difference in the Phillies win over the Braves.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

Ben Revere’s RBI single was the difference in the Phillies win over the Braves. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—The walk-up song for Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere is the catchy Pharell Williams hit song, “Happy.”

And that’s the feeling the Phillies will take with them on a 10-game road trip through Colorado, Los Angeles and Arizona starting Friday.

Revere’s two-out RBI single driving home Domonic Brown in the bottom of the eighth was difference for the Phillies in a 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves in front of 25,750 fans on a crisp Thursday afternoon at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Though hitting for power is not Revere strong suit, hitting it where they ain’t and getting the ball into the outfield is and he was effective when he needed to be. For the game, he was 3-for-4.

“Sometimes, I try to hit homeruns,” Revere said jokingly. “I was waiting for it; I was just kind of patiently waiting to see something happen. I wasn’t trying nothing too big, I was just to put the bat on the ball and find a good pitch. Luckily, it found some outfield grass to score Dom.”

It was the kind of day that things were going well for the Phillies. They even won the replay challenge. In the fifth inning, Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons tried to steal second and slid off the bag and was tagged by shortstop Jimmy Rollins. But second-base umpire Bill Welke’s safe called was overturned by the replay officials.

Revere’s game-winning single was the exclamation point for a brilliant pitching performance turned in by A.J. Burnett, who was coming off a small inguinal hernia injury. Though he did not get the win, Burnett was the reason why the Phillies walked away with a victory.

In seven innings, Burnett allowed no runs on just three hits with five strikeouts and just two walks. He threw 101 pitches. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said Burnett made things look easy with his approach on the mound.

“I thought Burnett was much better with his 101 pitches with just two walks. He had better command and he talked about having a shorter stride since his hernia. He looked a little more effortless out there and he didn’t fight himself,” Sandberg said. “He was a little bit more in the strike zone and he did a nice job.”

Burnett said the hernia injury did not bother him. He didn’t feel any pain and wasn’t uncomfortable on the mound. He will have surgery at the end of the season, but will live with the pain which comes off the push off (left) foot.

“It’s there, but the pain level is not there,” said the 37-year-old Burnett. “It’s something that I know is going to be there. I’m going to have to manage it the best way I can. Hopefully, I can do that every time I come out.”

It was the second straight game a Phillies starting pitcher when beyond the sixth inning. Burnett said that’s something the starters are expected to do to take the pressure off the relievers, especially early in the season.

“Your starters need to do it in the first couple of months,” Burnett said. “That’s what we’re supposed to do. We’re supposed to go deep into games, so those guys are fresh at the end of the year. You want to go deep in those games. The first couple of months we’re supposed to take the haul.”

Meanwhile, a well-rested back end of the Phillies bullpen kept the Braves scoreless for the final two innings. Set-up man Antonio Bastardo got the win in relief, allowing no runs on just one hit.

Closer Jonathan Papelbon got his fourth save of the season. He’s 4-for-4 in save opportunities since blowing his first save opportunity in the Phillies road loss to the Texas Rangers.

“I’ve been able to make adjustments and that’s what this game’s about,” Papelbon said. “Hopefully, I will continue to do that. Texas was one of those things that happen with a closer. You have to put it behind you and keep going.”

 

 

 

Lee Pitches Well, but Phillies Can’t Score in Loss to Braves

17 Apr

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee strikes out 13 Atlanta Braves, but is on the short end of a 1-0 shut out. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee strikes out 13 Atlanta Braves, but is on the short end of a 1-0 shut out. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—On a night when Cliff Lee was mowing down Atlanta Braves hitters, the Phillies offense was about as cold as the night time temperature.

That’s because the Phils couldn’t figure out the riddle that was Braves starting pitcher Julio Teheran (2-1). In nine innings, the Phillies could only manage just three hits—all singles by Ryan Howard, Carlos Ruiz and Jimmy Rollins.

In what was an old-fashioned pitcher’s duel, the Braves came away with a 1-0 win over the Phillies in front of 23, 382 fans at Citizen’s Bank Park who saw Lee come up with 13 strikeouts while his offense struggled.

The only mistake Lee made in 128 pitches was giving up a home run on an 0-2 pitch to Braves catcher Evan Gattis, who was ripping up Phillies pitching the way his predecessor Brian McCann used to when he was the Atlanta catcher. It was Gattis’s third home run of the series. He had four hits in the game.

“On the pitch to Gattis, I tried to elevate a fast ball, it wasn’t a bad spot, but it wasn’t the spot I was trying to hit. It was down and in,” Lee said. “The pitch I made today was a bad pitch. I missed the spot I was going for and it ended up in a decent spot, he just put a decent swing on it. You gotta give him credit. I’ve got to be better than that. I should have thrown a different pitch or a different location.”

Pitching all nine innings, Lee definitely did his part to help the Phillies win this game. He scattered 11 hits and did a masterful job of pitching himself out of jams when the Braves had men on base. The effort Lee put out tonight was nothing short of amazing.

Meanwhile, Teheran wasn’t necessarily coming up with strikeouts, but he was getting the Phillies out and thanks to the wind blowing in from center field a few hard hit balls that might have gone out of the park on a hot summer day, stayed inside the stadium.

Atlanta's Julio Teheran allowed just four hits in a complete game shutout of Philadelphia. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Atlanta’s Julio Teheran allowed just four hits in a complete game shutout of Philadelphia. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Teheran had four strikeouts and no walks in 115 pitches. He kept the Phillies offense off balance by mixing his pitches effectively. Centerfielder Ben Revere said it was frustrating for his team to not be able to put runs on the board back up

“(Teheran) was hitting his spots and everything, but that’s the way baseball goes,” said Philliescenterfielder Ben Revere. “The guys hit the ball on the money, but it was right at their guys. It’s frustrating but we just got to keep our heads and come back out (Thursday).

“(Lee) pitched one heckuva game. It was phenomenal. Everybody in here is frustrating because your pitcher does so well and gets the loss.”

Teheran was perfect through his four innings before giving up an infield single to Howard. He gave up a pair of two-out singles, but the Phillies could not push across.

This loss to the Braves is just the kind of stuff that happens to average teams. They get a solid outing from their starting pitcher, but they can’t hit. Sometimes, the reverse happens. The Phillies score a lot of runs and then the bullpen or the starting pitching breaks down.
The Phillies have to figure out away to play every aspect of their game well—whether it’s getting clutch hitting, good starting and relief pitching. Phils manager Ryne Sandberg said the Phillies have do a better job of providing Lee with run support.

“That’s a trend that we don’t want to have because we know that he gives us a chance to win,” Sandberg said. “Things didn’t go our way on the offensive side with some hard-hit balls tonight.”

 

Bad Bullpen Theatre: Phils Relievers Stink up the Joint in Loss to Atlanta

15 Apr

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Jake Diekman gave up a grand-slam home-run in the Phillies heartbreaking loss to the Braves Monday night.

Jake Diekman gave up a grand-slam home-run in the Phillies heartbreaking loss to the Braves Monday night.

PHILADELPHIA—Maybe it’s too early in the season for the Phillies (6-7) to start measuring themselves by a four-game series in April. After sweeping the Florida Marlins over the weekend and bringing their record up to .500, there’s certainly a reason to feel good about themselves.

But for a Phillies team that hasn’t come anywhere near the playoffs since 2011, it is the first of many tests to see how they stack up like teams like the first-place Atlanta Braves (9-4), the defending National League East champions.

“It’s a series in our division and it’s against a team that’s had success,” said Phils manager Ryne Sandberg. “Play well in this series and to do well early on in the season there’s some importance to that as with every game. We need to play well against teams in our division. It’s a measuring stick within our division to see where we’re at.”

Where the Phillies are right now is that they have a bullpen that is simply awful and if they don’t do something to fix the problem, they won’t be able to hang with the Braves or anybody else in the division.

Phils relievers gave up seven runs in the final two innings-including a grand-slam in the top of the ninth as the Braves came away with a 9-6 victory over the Phillies in front of 25, 516 fans, most of whom were already the parking lot by the bottom of the ninth.

Dan Uggla’s ninth-inning grand-slam home run off Jake Diekman was the big blow after the Phillies scoredfive in the bottom of the eighth to take a 6-5 lead. With regular closer Jonathan Papelbon unavailable after appearing in three straight games over the weekend, Diekman walked B.J. Upton, who moved to two second after first baseman Freddie Freeman reached on a fielder’s choice.

A walk to Justin Upton loaded the bases. After Diekman struck out catcher Evan Gattis, Uggla took an 0-1 pitch and parked it into the left field stands for a home run that put the Braves ahead for good.

“I wasn’t throwing strikes and attacking the zone. You can’t walk people like that,” Diekman said after the game. “You can’t start hitters 2-0 every time.”

Diekman wasn’t the only Phillies reliever to have a bad night. B.J. Rosenberg came into the Atlanta half of the eighth inning with the Phillies trailing 2-1 and then promptly gave up three straight solo home runs to Gattis, who also homered in the sixth, Uggla, and shortstop Andrelton Simmonds.
“Rosenburg struggled. He pitched behind in the count and was up with his breaking pitch,” Sandberg said. “He was throwing the ball, 94, 95 (miles per hour). He was behind in the count with the fast balls and his breaking ball seemed to be up in the zone.”

The Phillies offense came to life in the bottom of the eighth inning and scored five runs to take the lead. The Phils got a two-run, bases loaded single from right fielder Marlon Byrd and a three-run home run by Domonic Brown. It was his first since Aug. 14 2013.

“It’s tough for us to come up on the losing end,” Byrd said. “That was a helluva game. That’s what fans come for to see that excitement of going back and forth like that with nobody giving in. You gotta tip your cap. Uggla had an amazing night and did an amazing job tonight.”

The bullpen’s woes overshadowed another good outing by young Phillies righthander Roberto Hernandez., who allowed two runs on four hits with three strikeouts and one walk while throwing 118 pitches in six innings on the mound. He kept the Braves scoreless for five innings and had a 1-0 lead thanks to a solo homerun by Ryan Howard. In the sixth, he gave up a two-run homer Gattis to give the Braves a 2-1 lead.

“I thought Hernandez battled with men on base with his 118 pitches,” Sandberg said. “He had some long counts, but hung in there and did a nice job with men on base.”

Braves starting pitcher Ervin Santana allowed just one  run on four hits with 11 strikeouts and two walks.

 

Braves beat down Phillies in a 13-4 Rout

7 Jul

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Kyle Kendrick had a rough night against the Braves, giving up six runs on 12 hits including two home runs. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Kyle Kendrick had a rough night against the Braves, giving up six runs on 12 hits including two home runs. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—If there was a bright spot on this Saturday evening for the Phillies, it was getting the news that leftfielder Domonic Brown and pitcher Cliff Lee made the National League All-Star team.

The rest of the night went down hill from there.

First, the Phillies placed first baseman Ryan Howard on the 15-day disabled list for his sore left knee. He is expected to have an MRI by Sunday or Monday to see if the knee needs surgery or just needs a rest.

“That’s a big blow,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “It’s different with him not in there. His presence means something to us. He’s still a threat he’s got (43) RBI. We need Ryan in our lineup. At the same time, we’ve got to keep playing. We’ve got guys that can definitely perform better and help us win some games.”

As for the game itself, the competitive portion of Saturday’s nationally-televised game was over by the fifth inning as the Atlanta Braves gave the Phillies a good old-fashioned butt whuppin’ in a 13-4 rout on a sweltering hot night at Citizen’s Bank Park.

It was a game in which all the Phillies shortcomings came out in a big way, whether it was pitching, lack of hitting and poor play defensively.   The Phillies were definitely guilty of it.

Starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick (7-6) had a terrible outing. He gave up six runs on 12 hits in five innings on the mound.  He also gave up two home runs in his first two innings—a leadoff home run to shortstop Andrelton Simmons in the first inning and a two-run blast to second baseman Dan Uggla in the second.

It definitely wasn’t Kendrick’s night on the mound. He gave up three more in the fourth and fifth before his night ended.

“They were being aggressive and I wasn’t making quality pitches,” Kendrick said. “That’s what happens. They hit some balls that were down that found some holes. It their night with the score and the hits.”

Of course, the Phillies bullpen hand another lousy night by allowing seven more runs on seven hits that turned the game into a laugher for the Braves.  Phillies relievers-Joe Savery, Phillipe Aumont, and Jake Diekman- could not contain Braves hitters.  Atlanta scored in seven of the nine innings and finished the game with 19 hits.

“They put it on us,” Manuel said. “Our bullpen, of course, got some experience and they got hit pretty good and the Braves blew the game out.”

By the time the Phillies offense woke up in the late innings, they were already down 11-1. That’s because they couldn’t solve Tim Hudson (5-7). The veteran righthander allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings. He struck out four and didn’t allow a walk.

“(Hudson) was definitely tough, man,” Brown said. “He was mixing it in and out. When you have (catcher) Brian McCann back there, he’s not going to let you sit in one spot. (Hudson) was mixing it up great.”