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June 20 2007

Geoff Geary shaved his goatee, but what the Phillies really need to do is shave some runs off their bullpen ERA, which at 4.95 is now the worst in the league. 

The Phils have been really good in June, going 11-7 in 18 games.  They've also been outscored 108 to 88, which means they've been really lucky, too.  There are only two possibilities for the Phillies:  either the pitchers are going to pitch better or those numbers are going to come around.  Don't know which one it's going to be, but it's going to happen soon and the Phillies haven't been able to fix their bullpen since it became a glaring problem at the end of last season.

Remember the miserable June of last season in which the Phils went 9-18?  The numbers aren't so much better this year, particularly when it comes to pitching:

 

  R RA R/G RA/G Record
June, 2007 88 108 4.89 6.00 11-7
June, 2006 120 165 4.44 6.11 9-18

In June, 2006, it was the starting pitchers who were getting battered.  This season it's the pen.

Here's what the pen has done over the last seven games:

 

Date Result IP R ER
6/12 W7-3 1 1 1
6/13 W8-4 3 1 1
6/15 L12-8 4 5 4
6/16 W6-3 2 1 1
6/17 L7-4 2 2/3 3 3
6/18 L10-1 3 4 4
6/19 W9-6 3 3 3
         
Total 4-3 18 2/3 18 17

8.20 ERA for the pen over those seven games.  

The Phils' pen is obviously not deep.  If you're surprised that Hernandez (6.00 ERA in June), Zagurski (5.68 ERA in June) or Rosario (12.60) have been hit hard this month you're one of the few.  The problem is that the small, small group of guys you would expect to be the stabilizers haven't been getting it done either.  Madson has thrown to a 5.79 ERA in 9 1/3 innings in June and Geary to an 11.12 ERA this month.

That leaves Alfonseca, who has been pitching well (2.35 ERA in June) and Mesa, who hasn't but has posted a 3.86 ERA in 4 2/3 innings. 

Brian Sanches has thrown just three innings since being called up from Triple-A, but there's not much about his 5.40 ERA at Ottawa that suggests he might be the savior, either.


June 20 2007

For the second time in two starts, Kyle Kendrick gave the Phillies more than you can ask of a 22-year-old up from Double-A.  For six innings against a hard-hitting Cleveland team, Kendrick pitched well enough to keep the Phils in the game.  Utley and Howard did the rest, driving in six runs.  But we already knew they were great.

The Phils beat the Cleveland Indians last night, winning 9-6 to improve to 37-34 on the season.  After splitting the first two games, the Phils will try to take the series tonight.  The Phillies are in third place in the NL East, a half game behind the Braves and two games behind the Mets.

Kendrick got the start for the Phillies.  He went six innings, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk.  One of the hits went for extra-bases, a solo home run in the second.  He struck out one.

With a 3-0 lead in the first, Kendrick gave up a leadoff single to right to Grady Sizemore. Josh Barfield followed with a ground ball to short.  Sizemore was forced at second for the first out with Barfield safe at first.  Victor Martinez grounded to second and Barfield was forced at second with Martinez safe at first.  Travis Hafner hit a ground ball to short that Rollins bobbled for an error, putting men on first and second with two down for Jhonny Peralta.  Peralta flew to center to end the inning.

Ryan Garko homered to left with one out in the second, cutting the Phils' lead to 3-1.  First home run allowed by Kendrick in his two starts this year.  David Dellucci grounded to second and Mike Rouse flew to right to end the inning.

Kendrick got three ground balls in a 1-2-3 third.

He walked Hafner to start the fourth with a 4-1 lead.  Peralta followed and singled to right, moving Hafner to second.   Trot Nixon grounded to Howard who flipped to Kendrick for the first out as the runners moved to second and third.  Garko followed with a single into center, scoring Hafner to make it 4-2 and moving Peralta to third.  Dellucci was next and he hit a ground ball to first base.  Howard threw to second for the first out and and Dellucci hurt his leg on his way to first.  He was hobbling by the time he got to the bag and dove in as Rollins' relay from short arrived and was dropped by Kendrick.  Dellucci was injured but safe, a big play because it kept the inning alive and it meant that Peralta's run from third counted.  4-3.  Dellucci was holding the back of his left knee and had to be helped off the field.  Jason Michaels ran for Dellucci at first and went to second on a single by Mike Rouse before Sizemore struck out to end the inning.

Kendrick threw a 1-2-3 fifth and a 1-2-3 sixth. 

Ryan Madson started the seventh and gave up a leadoff single to Michaels but got the next three. 

Madson came back for the eighth against tough hitters for Cleveland.  He got Martinez on ball smashed to Howard at first and Hafner on a ground ball to short. Peralta was next and he singled into right under the glove of a sliding Utley.  A balk moved Peralta to second.  Madson got ahead of Nixon 1-2 but walked him, putting men on first and second for Garko.  Nixon was the second lefty Madson had faced in the inning (Hafner was the other and Martinez is a switch-hitter who has been about the same against righties and lefties).  He's not a lefty.  Really he's not.  Madson got ahead of Garko 0-2 before Garko singled into center.  Peralta held third so the bases were loaded for Michaels.  Michaels looped a single into left, two runs scored to cut the lead to 6-5 with men on first and third.  Casey Blake hit for Rouse and Mesa came into pitch to him.  Mesa got ahead of Blake 0-2 before Blake hit a one-hopper to Utley at second.  Utley looked like he wasn't sure he had the ball, so the play was closer than you would expect, but he got Blake at first to end the inning.

The Phillies actually have a lefty in their pen.  Zagurski has gotten two outs since June 11.  They should use him or give his roster spot to somebody else.  Madson threw 32 pitches on the night and it just wasn't necessary, especially when the last four men he faced reached base.  Nixon is a .214 career hitter against lefties (.290 against righties) and should have been facing a lefty, especially after Madson had thrown the seventh and faced Martinez, Hafner and Peralta in the eighth. 

I'm not sure what it would take to get me to participate in the Mesa love-in.  A lot.  More than getting Casey Blake out on a ground ball smashed to second to lower his ERA to 9.92.

Alfonseca started the ninth with the Phils up 9-5.  Sizemore led off and singled to right.  Barfield was next and he grounded to short.  The Phils forced Sizemore at second but couldn't get the double-play.  Martinez hit it hard and off the glove of Howard for a single.  Wuold have been a nice one to have.  Barfield went to second.  Hafner flew to right for the second out as the runners held their bases.  Peralta was next and he laced a double down the line in left, scoring Barfield and moving Martinez to third.  9-6.  Nixon came up as the tying run.  Alfonseca got ahead of Nixon 0-2 and thought he struck him out on his 1-2 pitch but didn't get the call.  Close.  Nixon hit the 2-2 pitch well into right, but Victorino ran it down to end the game.

The Phillies' lineup against lefty Jason Stanford went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Burrell (7) Werth (8) Helms (9) Ruiz.  Very nice.  Burrell at DH, Werth in left and Helms at third.  Glad to see Helms at third against the lefty -- Manuel must have been tempted to put Nunez in for his glove with Kendrick on the mound.

Rollilns led off with a bunt and reached on a bad throw by Stanford.  Scored a hit.  After Victorino popped to second, Utley was hit by a pitch, putting men on first and second with one down for Howard.  Howard hit it off the glove of Garko at first and into right.  Rollins scored to put the Phils up 1-0 and Utley went to third.  Rowand followed and popped to second.  Burrell was next and got behind 0-2 before he hit a ball of the base of the wall in right center, clearing the bases.  3-0.  Werth followed and hit a ball to third that went off the chest of Rouse for an error as Burrell went to third.  Helms was next and he one well into right-center but Sizemore tracked it down at the warning track.

Ruiz started the second with a single but Rollins flew to right and Victorino hit into a double-play to set the Phils down. 

Howard homered with one out in the third to put the Phils up 4-1.  Rowand popped to first and Burrell struck out to end the frame.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fourth, fifth and sixth.

Werth walked to start the seventh, but Helms struck out behind him and Ruiz flew to left.  Rollins hit a ground ball to third.  Rouse made a diving stop but his throw to first was in the dirt and pulled Garko off the bag.  Rollins was safe with a single as Werth moved to second.  Victorino was hit by a pitch and wasn't happy about it.  Second time in two games for Victorino and the second Phil hit in the game after the Indians hit three on Monday.  With the bases loaded and two down, Utley delivered a two-run single into center to extend the lead to 6-3.  Victorino stopped at second.  Howard grounded to first to end the frame.

Werth and Helms walked back-to-back in the eighth, but Ruiz flew out to the warning track in left for the third out. 

With one out in the ninth, Victorino singled and stole second.  Utley walked and Howard ripped a double into right that scored both Victorino and Utley and put the Phils up 8-5.  Rowand hit it well into left-center, but Sizemore made a nice running play for the second out as Howard held second.  With the righty Roberto Hernandez on the mound, Dobbs hit for Burrell and doubled into left, of course, scoring Howard to extend the lead to 9-5.  Werth walked and Bourn ran for him at first.  Nunez, who entered the game in the eighth as a pinch-runner for Helms and stayed in to play third, was next.  He grounded to third for the third out.

Rollins was 2-for-5.

Victorino 1-for-4 with his 22nd stolen base of the season.

Utley 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBI.

Howard was 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and four RBI.

Rowand 0-for-5.

Burrell 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI.  Struck out twice.

Werth was 1-for-3 with two walks. 

Helms 0-for-3 with a walk. 

Ruiz 1-for-4.

Jon Lieber (3-5, 4.21) faces lefty CC Sabathia (9-2, 3.19) tonight.  Lieber has had four bad starts in his last five outings, the exception being his complete game shutout in Kansas City on June 11.  In the other four starts he's allowed 20 earned runs on 39 hits and eight walks in 21 2/3 innings (8.31 ERA with a 2.17 ratio).  He has a 5.26 ERA at home and 2.97 ERA on the road.  Opponents are hitting .331 against him at Citizens Bank Park and .217 on the road.  Sabathia is the third lefty the Phils will face in the series and has been tremendous of late.  In his last three starts he's gone 26 1/3 innings and been charged with four earned runs (1.37 ERA).  On June 5 he threw a complete game shutout to beat the Royals 1-0.  On June 10 he threw nine scoreless frames against the Reds in a game the Indians lost in 12 innings.  He's walked just 16 in 107 1/3 innings this year and only one left-handed batter on the season.  Barajas is 5-for-12 with two home runs against him in his career, Rowand 10-for-36 (.278) with 13 strikeouts. 

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