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April 19 2007

It's hard to imagine that after such an awful start the Phillies could win a game and not leave you feeling any better about the team, but that's what happened this afternoon.  The Phils topped the Nationals but we didn't learn anything we didn't already know.  The Phillies just can't get a big hit at a big time.  Charlie Manuel has no faith in his bullpen.  Charlie Manuel's bullpen is awful.

And Jamie Moyer is something special.

The Phillies beat the Nationals this afternoon, winning 4-2 to improve to 4-10 on the year. 

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phillies and was brilliant.  He threw a two-hit shutout through eight innings and yet the Nationals managed to bring the winning run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth.  He started the ninth and allowed back-to-back doubles -- for the day he went eight innings, allowing two runs on four hits and four walks.  Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both doubles in the ninth.  He struck out five.  He pitched better than his line and has now started half of the games the Phillies have won this season. 

In the first, Felipe Lopez led off and flew out to Victorino who made a long run to track the ball down.  Rafael Belliard was next and dribbled to third -- he was retired on a barehand play by Helms.  Ryan Zimmerman hit the ball hard to left but Burrell had room to make the play and end the inning with the Phils up 1-0.

Dmitri Young led off the second and singled to center.  Kearns popped to Dobbs at first for the first out, bringing up Ryan Church.  Church grounded to second and the Phils got the lead runner Young with Church safe at first.  Michael Restovich grounded to short to end the inning with the Phils up 2-0.

In the third, Jesus Flores led off and struck out.  John Patterson struck out for the second out before Lopez reached on an infield single that banged off the body of Moyer.  Moyer struck out Belliard to end the inning.

Moyer walked Zimmerman to start the fourth.  Young was next and hit it well to right, but Victorino tracked it down for the first out on a nice play.  Kearns followed with a walk that moved Zimmerman to second with one down.  Church grounded to second and Utley got the lead runner Kearns for the second out.  With two down and runners on first and third, Restovich popped to Victorino in right to end the inning.

Moyer walked Flores on four pitches to start the fifth with the Phils up 3-0.  The pitcher Speigner, who replaced Patterson in the top of the inning, bunted Flores to second.  Lopez fouled out to Dobbs on a running basket-catch for the second out.  Belliard flew to right to end the inning.  Through five shutout innings Moyer had thrown 79 pitches, allowing two singles and three walks.

Moyer started the bottom of the sixth up 4-0.  Zimmerman led off and flew to right.  Young drew a one-out walk but Kearns hit a double-play ball to Rollins to end the inning.

Moyer set the Nats down 1-2-3 in the seventh.  Through seven shutout innings, he had thrown 99 pitches and allowed two singles and four walks. 

In the eighth, Moyer got the first two hitters on ground outs before striking out Belliard to end the inning. 

Moyer started the ninth despite having thrown 106 pitches and didn't last long.  Ryan Zimmerman led off with a double to left, the first extra-base hit of the game for the Nats.  Young followed with another double to left, scoring Zimmerman to make the score 4-1.  With the righty Kearns at the plate, Manuel called on Gordon to close out the game.   Gordon hit Kearns, putting runners on first and second with nobody out and bringing Church to the plate as the tying run.  Church singled to left just inside the foul line in front of Bourn, loading the bases with nobody out.  Robert Fick pinch-hit for the pitcher Rivera and hit a fly ball to Bourn in left.  Young tagged and scored from third to make the score 4-2 with runners on first and second and one down.  Lefty Brian Schneider, who kills the Phillies, pinch-hit for Flores.  He hit a chopper to first.  Dobbs fielded and tossed to Gordon for the second out as the runners moved to second and third with two down for lefty Chris Snelling.  Gordon struck him out to end the game and record his third save on the year.

The Phillies lineup against righty John Patterson went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Burrell (5) Dobbs (6) Helms (7) Rowand (8) Ruiz.  With Howard sidelined with a problem with his left leg, Dobbs gets the start at first base against the righty.  Burrell moves up to the cleanup spot vacated by Howard.  The lefty Dobbs hits fifth with a .353 career slugging percentage coming off a big hit as a pinch-hitter the night before.  Ruiz catches Moyer, getting his eighth start in the Phillies' first 14 games.

Jimmy Rollins led off the first with a ball slapped softly to left that he turned into a hustle double.  Victorino showed bunt early in the count but swung away after getting ahead and laced a single into right, scoring Rollins to put the Phils up 1-0.  Victorino stole second with Utley at the plate, a play that appeals more without Howard in the lineup.  Utley flew to right, sending Victorino to third with one out for Burrell.  Burrell walked, putting runners on first and third for Dobbs.  Dobbs popped out to the shortstop behind third base for the second out.  Helms grounded to third, stranding two.  Dobbs had the bad at-bat in the frame, unable to score Victorino from third with one out.

Aaron Rowand led off the second with a home run down the line in left, putting the Phillies up 2-0.  He just missed one last night.  Ruiz was next and grounded to third for the first out.  Moyer popped out to short.  Rollins struck out to end the inning.

Victorino led off the third and flew out to center.  Utley followed with a ball hit to first that should have been fielded by Young but was not.  Utley was safe at second and the play was scored a double.  Burrell popped to Lopez in shallow left for the second out.  Dobbs followed with a walk, putting runners on first and second with two down for Helms.  Helms got up 3-0 before grounding to short on a 3-1 pitch to set the Phillies down.

Rowand grounded to short to start the fourth.  Ruiz followed with a ball very well hit and nearly out off the top of the fence in left.  Moyer was next and singled to center, sending Ruiz to third.  With runners at first and third and one down, Rollins hit the ball hard to Young at first.  Young stepped on the bag and threw home to get Ruiz and end the inning.  It was third time in four innings that the Phillies couldn't get a big hit with runners on base.

In the fifth, Victorino led off with a double to right and went to third on a wild pitch off the glove of the catcher Flores with Utley at the dish.  Utley and Burrell walked back-to-back, loading the bases for Greg Dobbs with nobody out.  Dobbs popped to short for the first out.  Unbelievable.  Through 4 1/3 innings Dobbs was 0-for-2 with a walk and five men left on base.  Helms flew out to center, allowing Victorino to score and put the Phils up 3-0.  Utley went to third.  Rowand flew out to the gap in right-center.  Phillies leave two more.  Fourth time in five innings the Phils can't get a big hit with runners aboard.

Ruiz led off the sixth with a double to left.  Moyer was next and popped his bunt into the air towards first.  Young didn't catch it, but Ruiz thought he might and had to hold second as Moyer was out at first.  Rollins singled up the middle, scoring Ruiz to put the Phils up 4-0.  Young mishandled the throw from Church, which allowed Rollins to go to second.  Victorino grounded to first for the second out, moving Rollins to third.  Utley grounded out to the pitcher for the third out.

Burrell led off the seventh with a walk and Michael Bourn pinch ran for him.  Goodness.  Even with a short bench, assuming that Howard was totally unavailable.  Yuck.  He didn't think the Nationals could score four runs in their last three times at bat?  I did.  Have you seen our pen?  Dobbs hit a ball back to the pitcher who could not field it cleanly and had to take the out at first as Bourn moved to second.  Helms grounded to short and was retired on a nice play by Lopez, who had to make a long throw.  Rowand grounded to third to end the frame.

Ruiz struck out to start the eighth.  Moyer hit for himself having thrown 99 pitches and grounded to short for the second out.  Rollins grounded to second to end the frame.

Victorino led off the ninth with a bloop single to left.  Utley followed with a ball hit right back to the pitcher who threw to second to get Victorino with Utley called safe at first.  Bourn flew out to left and Dobbs grounded to third to end the inning.

Rollins was 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI. 

Not to be outdone, Victorino was 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI.  He stole his fourth base of the season.  He's on pace to steal 46.  Seems unlikely. 

Utley was 1-for-4 with a walk to improve his batting average to .224.  He's 1-for-his-last-12.  For the year he's on-basing .310 against righties.

Burrell was 0-for-1 and walked three times.  He has nine walks and zero extra-base hits over his last ten games.

Dobbs was 0-for-4 with a walk and left seven men on base. 

Helms was 0-for-3 with an RBI and left five men on base.  He's slugging .295 for the season after slugging a nutty .575 last year. 

Rowand was 1-for-4 with a home run.  He's hit in seven straight games.  11-for-his-last-26 with five walks. 

Ruiz was 2-for-4 with two doubles.  He's .474 slugging percentage is second-highest on the team behind Rollins.

Bleak as things may seem, the Phillies are 2-2 in the their last four games.

Jon Lieber faces righty Kyle Lohse in Cincinnati tomorrow night.

April 19 2007


Team W-L R R/G NL Rank R OPS (NL Rank) SB CS
WAS 4-10 40 2.86 15 651 (15) 1 2
PHI 3-9 54 4.50 T-9 779 (3) 6 2


Team W-L RA RA/G NL Rank RA Starter ERA Pen ERA
WAS 4-10 73 5.21 16 4.70 (14) 4.76 (15)
PHI 3-9 72 6.00 15 5.93 (16) 4.42 (14)

With the news of Brett Myers' move to the pen I couldn't help but think of the story of the little Dutch boy who put his finger in the dam and saved the city.  A nice gesture that acknowledges the situation is desperate, but not exactly a model for city planning.

The Phillies pen gave the offense six scoreless innings last night and it wasn't enough.  The Nationals finally got through in the thirteenth to send the Phils to their tenth loss in 13 games.

If the Myers plan was creative and perhaps even necessary the question now is what's next.  The Phillies need something else and they need it soon.  Their pen is awful when it isn't dog-tired.  Ryan Howard is hurting.  They have the worst record in baseball.  They play again in about three hours and nobody seems to have an answer other than to keep on keeping on.

The Phils lost to the Nationals last night, falling 5-4 in 13 innings.  They are 3-10.

Adam Eaton got the start for the Phillies and everything would have been fine if it hadn't been for the three-run homer he gave up to Brian Schneider.  Eaton went six innings, allowing four runs on four hits and a walk.  Only one of the hits went for extra-bases, the home run by Schneider.  He struck out four.

He threw ten pitches in a 1-2-3 first, striking out Felipe Lopez and Ronnie Belliard before Ryan Zimmerman flew out to center.

Dmitri Young was hit by a pitch to start the second.  Austin Kearns was next and smashed a ball back up the middle that hit Eaton's pitching hand.  Kearns was safe with a single as Young moved to second.  Eaton took some practice tosses and was able to stay in the game.  Ryan Church was next and hit hit a ball to left that Burrell made a nice running catch on for the first out of the inning.  Brian Schneider followed and he hit the tenth pitch of the at-bat out to right to put Washington up 3-1.  Chris Snelling grounded to second for the second out and Eaton struck out Bergmann to end the inning.

Lopez singled to start the third and stole second.  He was called safe on a close play -- Barajas' throw was strong and it looked like the tag from Rollins, though high, got Lopez.  It cost the Phillies a run.  Belliard walked, putting runners on first and second with nobody out.  Zimmerman hit a fly ball to right for the first out, moving Lopez to third.   Young was next and he hit a ball to deep center for the second out, allowing Lopez to tag from third and put Washington up 4-1.  Eaton struck out Kearns to end the inning.

Eaton set the Nats down 1-2-3 in the fourth.

Bergmann singled to center to start the fifth and Lopez bunted him to second.  Belliard hit a ball softly towards short and Rollins made a nice play to throw him out at first as Bergmann moved to third.  Zimmerman was next and hit a ball up the middle -- Rollins made another nice play, fielding and spinning to throw Zimmerman out by a half step to save a run and end the inning.

Young led off the sixth and flew out to shallow left.  Another long run for Burrell who made the play and avoided collision with Rollins.  Kearns grounded softly to third and Church hit the ball well to right, but Victorino put it away to end the inning with the score still 4-1 Nationals.

Matt Smith started the seventh with the Philes down 4-3 after throwing 23 pitches the night before.  The lefty Schneider greeted him with a single past a diving Rollins and into center.  With another lefty, Snelling at the plate, a pickoff attempt from Smith surprised Howard and got away from him, moving Schneider to second.  Snelling wanted to bunt the runner to third, but Smith couldn't throw the ball anywhere near the plate.  A wild pitch moved Schneider to third before Smith walked Snelling on four pitches.  That was it for Smith.  Geoff Geary, who also pitched the night before, entered the game with pinch-hitter Robert Fick at the plate.  Geary walked Fick to load the bases with nobody out.  Lopez flew to left for the first out with the runners holding.  Belliard was next and hit a double-play ball to second to end the inning. 

The Phillies are going to have trouble with the bottom three in the Nationals lineup, lefties Church, Schneider and Snelling given that they have just one lefty in their pen. 

Brett Myers started the eighth, making the second relief appearance of his career and his first since 2004.  After he got Zimmerman for the first out of the inning, Young singled into center.  Kearns followed with another single, this one into right, moving Young to second.  Myers struck out Church for the second out of the inning and got Schneider to ground to second to end the inning.

Alfonseca came on to throw the ninth after the Phillies tied the game at 4-4 with a run in the top of the inning.  He cruised through a 1-2-3 inning, getting Snelling to ground to second, a diving play by Howard at first on a hard hit ball from D'Angelo Jimenez and a ground ball to short from Lopez.

The Phils were unable to score in the top of the tenth so Alfonseca returned to pitch the bottom of the inning.  Belliard led off and looped a single to right just over the glove of Howard.  Zimmerman was next and he singled to left.  Young was next and he hit the ball pretty well to left, which Bourn handled for the first out.  Belliard held, which was fortunate for him as Bourn made a strong and accurate throw to third.  Kearns followed with a ground ball to deep short.  Rollins forced Zimmerman at second for the second out, bringing up Church with runners at first and third.  Church drove the ball into left-center where Bourn made a running catch.  If Burrell is in left the game is over.  The same is true of most of the other left fielders in baseball.

Ryan Madson came in to pitch the eleventh, having thrown 28 pitches the night before.  The guy who didn't come in in the tie game was Tom Gordon, who last pitched April 14.  Madson got the lefties Schneider and Snelling on ground balls before Michael Restovich singled past a diving Rollins into center.  Lopez was next and he dribbled a ball to third for an infield single, sending Restovich to second.  Belliard followed with a chopper out in front of the plate.  Ruiz pounced and got him at first to end the inning.

Madson returned to pitch the twelfth.  Zimmerman hit first and grounded to short.  Rollins made a bad throw that pulled Howard off the bag, but Zimmerman was called out.  Young grounded to Rollins for the second out.  Kearns was next and singled to left on a 3-2 pitch.  Josh Wilson pinch-hit for Ryan Wagner and Madson looked to have struck him out with a wicked 1-2 pitch.  He didn't get the call and Wilson smoked his next offering back up the middle for a single that sent Kearns to second.  It gave Phillie-killer Brian Schneider a chance, but Madson struck him out to end the inning. 

Francisco Rosario started the thirteenth after throwing 21 pitches yesterday.  Snelling led off with a bloop into shallow center.  Rollins couldn't make an over the shoulder catch and Snelling was safe with a single.  Restovich was next and he smoked a double to left.  With nobody out and runners on second and third Lopez came to the plate and hit a fly ball fairly deep to left.  Bourn's throw wasn't close as Snelling scored the run that gave the Nats a 5-4 win.

Awful night for Smith and Rosario who don't inspire any confidence.  Overall, however, the pen did their job last night.  If Geary, Madson, Rosario or Smith pitch today they will be doing so for their third straight day.

The Phillies lineup against right Jason Bergmann went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Helms (7) Rowand (8) Barajas.  Nice to see Helms stay in there against the righty.  Barajas catches Eaton.

After Rollins flew to right for the first out in the first, Victorino singled and stole second.  Utley flew to second and Howard walked, putting runners on first and second for Burrell.  Burrell struck out. 

Barajas looped a single into left with two outs in the second.  Eaton was next and drove the ball over Snelling in left.  It bounced off the wall and high over Snelling's head, allowing Barajas to score and put the Phils up 1-0.  Rollins grounded out to second to end the inning.

The Philles went 1-2-3 in the third and again in the fourth.  And in the fifth.  And the sixth on three ground balls to second base.  Thirteen in a row set down by Bergmann.

Pat Burrell led off the seventh and singled up the middle on a 1-2 pitch.  Helms was next and swung at the first pitch, popping out to short.  Rowand was next and doubled down the third base line, sending Burrell to third.  That was it for Bergmann, who was replaced with righty Saul Rivera.  Greg Dobbs pinch-hit for Barajas and came up with a big hit, a single into right that scored Rowand and Burrell and cut the Washington lead to 4-3.  Werth pinch-hit for Eaton and lined a single into left that sent Dobbs to second.  Rollins hit into a double-play to end the inning.

Victorino, Utley and Howard went 1-2-3 in the eighth.

Burrell led off the ninth with a single and Bourn pinch-ran for him, representing the tying run.  And that right there represents the best use of Michael Bourn pinch-running in the history of organized sport.  Somebody document that, please.  Helms was next and he singled to right, sending Bourn to second.  Rowand was next and bunted, moving the runners to second and third.  Not a fan of that one with Ruiz and pinch-hitter Nunez coming up behind him just because Rowand is the best hitter the Phillies are going to send up of the next three and a single still ties the game.  But the Phillies played for one run and got one run.  Ruiz hit a ground ball to second that scored Bourn to tie the game at 4-4.  Nunez struck out to end the inning.

Rollins led off the tenth and grounded to second for the first out.  Victorino was next and walked and Utley moved him to second with another walk, putting men on first and second with one out for Howard.  Despite the fact that Utley walked on four pitches and Colome, the Nationals' pitcher, had walked two in a row, Howard swung at the first pitch and hit a ground ball to second.  A hard slide into second from Utley kept the Phillies out of a double-play and Howard appeared to injure his leg or knee when he landed awkwardly on first.  He stayed in the game.  With two down and runners on first and third, Bourn hit the ball well to left but Snelling made a nice running catch to end the inning.

Helms flew to center to start the eleventh.  Rowand followed and hit a ball that hit high off the wall in left, missing a home run by about four feet.  He wound up safe at second with a double.  Ruiz grounded to third for the second out with Rowand holding second.  With no position players left, Cole Hamels hit for Alfonseca.  Colome walked him, putting runners on first and second with two down.  Ryan Wagner relieved Colome and Rollins swung at the first pitch, grounding out to second to end the frame.

Victorino led off the twelfth with a single and Utley followed with a fly ball to center.  The ball was hit deep and Victorino should have tagged and gone to second.  He didn't.  Howard grounded into a double-play, struggling to get down the line on his injured leg, to set the Phillies down.

Bourn grounded to second to start the thirteenth.  Helms was next and hit it very well to center, but not enough to get out of the yard.  Rowand popped to shallow right for the third out.

Rollins was 0-for-6 with a strikeout and left five men on base.

Victorino was 2-for-5 with a walk.

Utley was 0-for-5 with a walk.

Howard was 0-for-5 with a walk.  Utley and Howard go 0-for-10 combined with two strikeouts and leave five men on base. 

Burrell was 2-for-4 and struck out twice.

Rowand was 2-for-5 with two doubles.  His doubles were the only extra-base hits for the Phillies in the game other than Eaton's RBI-double in the second.

Barajas 1-for-2 with a single.  Ruiz 0-for-2 with an RBI but a big at-bat in the tenth to get the run in. 

Jamie Moyer (1-1, 3.55) faces righty John Patterson (0-2, 7.07) this afternoon.  The Phillies need Moyer in a big way today and he amazingly seems to come through every time they do.  He's made two starts this season and both have been solid.  On Thursday he allowed three runs in six innings against the Mets.  On his first start, which came April 6 against the Marlins, he went 6 2/3 innings and held the Fish to two runs on seven hits and two walks.  Patterson has made three starts and has yet to go six innings, although he has been pretty good in his last two outings after giving up six runs in 3 2/3 innings against the Marlins on April 2.  Expect bad things from both teams pens after the long game last night that saw the teams combine to use 15 pitchers.

Lots of talk about the Myers move to the pen.  I expect it is a temporary thing and will help the Phils deal with the disaster in the pen in the short term.  The fear has to be that it lasts more than a couple of weeks -- if it costs Myers more than a couple of starts I think it's a mistake.  It gives them a chance to showcase Lieber as a starter, who they need to trade for relief help.  That would be hard to do if they weren't willing to start Lieber themselves.  It may be hard anyway.  I think you also have to worry about Gordon at the back of the Phillies pen -- the Phils are certainly handling him very gently so far.  They need somebody to throw innings that they can count on.

The Phillies get to keep Clay Condrey and JD Durbin.  Both cleared waivers and were sent to Triple-A.  I would guess Condrey will be back soon.  The Phillies have to be thinking about Brito, Sanches and Castro as well.  And anyone else in the organization who can throw the ball 60 feet and six inches.

The article linked above about Howard's injury suggests the Phils may call in Chris Coste from Ottawa in case Howard has to go on the DL.  Coste has hit 240/367/320 in his first 25 at-bats at Triple-A.  Two extra-base hits, both doubles. 

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