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July 19 2006

The Phillies didn't have much of a chance coming into the second half of the season.  Whatever chance they did have is slipping away and may be gone for good after their upcoming four-game set with the unbelievably hot Braves.  It may be as simple as the Phillies just aren't good enough.  That their offense looks better on paper than on the field and they can't overcome the problems they have with their starting pitching.  I can take all of that.  What I can't take is blaming it on Ed Wade or the contracts the Phillies were burdened with coming into the 2006 season.  No.  Ed Wade didn't make them give 15 starts to Ryan Madson in which he threw to a 6.61 ERA.  Ed Wade didn't trade Vicente Padilla without getting a player back that contributed.  Those moves were risks and they didn't work.  I don't have a problem with risky moves, even ones that don't work --  I like them a lot better than doing nothing.  The Phillies are having a wretched season, but it's their own wretched season, not Ed Wade's.

The Phillies lost their second straight game last night, falling to the Padres 10-6.  The loss drops them to 42-50 on the year.  They fall into third place in the NL East 13 1/2 games behind the Mets and two full games behind the Braves.  If you haven't been following what the Braves have been doing of late, you should leave this site immediately and look it up.  The summary is this -- they've won seven straight, outscoring their opponents in the seven games 77-32.

Ryan Madson got the start for the Phillies and was awful.  He went 5 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs on ten hits and a walk.  Five of the hits went for extra-bases, three doubles and two home runs.

In the bottom of the first, Dave Roberts led off with a ground rule double and Mike Cameron followed with a two-run homer that put the Padres up 2-0. 

Madson kept the Padres off the board in the second and third and went into the bottom of the fourth tied 2-2.  Mike Piazza led off with a home run to put San Diego up 3-2. 

Madson started the bottom of the sixth with the Phillies still down a run, and things went badly.  Single, walk, RBI-double, sac fly made it 5-2 San Diego with a runner on third and one out and Geoff Blum at the plate.  Blum doubled, making it 6-2 and Franklin finally replaced Madson.  Josh Barfield greeted him with an RBI-triple and it was 7-2 San Diego.  Franklin did strike out Mark Bellhorn before getting Dave Roberts to ground out and end the inning, stranding Barfield at third.  It was kind of a small victory. 

Geary came in for the seventh with the Phillies down 7-5 and set the Padres down 1-2-3.  His ERA dropped to 3.31 on the year and he's allowed just two runs on eight hits over his last 9 2/3 innings. 

The Phillies added another in the top of the eighth to pull within 7-6 and Arthur Rhodes came in to start the bottom of the inning.  The Padres got a single, a double and an intentional walk to load the bases with one out and pinch-hitter Josh Bard at the plate.  Bard was hit by a pitch, driving in a run to make it 8-6.  Dave Roberts followed Bard with another ground-rule double, scoring two more to make it 10-6 with runners on second and third and one out.  Aaron Fultz came in to the game, intentionally walking Cameron to load the bases before getting Giles to pop out and Rob Bowen to ground out and end the inning.  I assume the Phillies are trying to trade Rhodes, one of the four lefties in the pen.  It might be tough, given his 6.07 ERA at this point.  After throwing to a 5.79 ERA in June his ERA in five July games is 18.00.  On the year he's allowed 38 hits in 29 2/3 innings.  Fabio Castro has pitched four innings since the Phillies traded for him on June 29 and hasn't appeared in the last eight games for the Phils.

The Phillies lineup against righty Clay Hensley went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Rowand (7) Bell (8) Lieberthal.

After going 1-2-3 in the first, Aaron Rowand got the Phillies on the board at 2-1 in the top of the second with a solo home run.   The homer was Rowand's ninth on the year and first in 92 at-bats.   Rowand made his spectacular catch against the Mets on May 11 and ended that day at 310/356/516 in 126 at-bats.  Since then he has hit 229/299/382 in 147 at-bats. 

In the third, Jimmy Rollins hit a solo home run, his tenth on the year, tying the game at 2-2.

In the fourth, Aaron Rowand got hit by a pitch for the third time in four days, but the Phillies did not score. 

In the fifth, Pat Burrell struck out with two outs and runners on second and third. 

Ryan Howard led off the sixth with a double but the Phillies didn't bring him around and went into the top of the seventh trailing 7-2.  Nunez led off the seventh with a single and Rollins followed him with a double, sending Nunez to third.  Utley singled, driving them both in, and Abreu followed Utley with a double that got the Phillies to within 7-5.  With nobody out and Abreu on second, the Padres brought in Cla Meredith who got Burrell, Howard and Rowand to end the inning.  Cla?

With the Phillies still trailing 7-5, David Bell led off the top of the eighth with a triple and scored on a pinch-hit ground out by Victorino to make the score 7-6.  Rollins came up with a two-out double in the inning, his third extra-base hit of the game, but the inning ended on an Utley fly out to left.

The Phillies went down 1-2-3 in the ninth against Brian Sweeney. 

Rollins was 3-for-5 with two doubles and a home run. 

Utley was 1-for-3 with two walks and two RBI. His hitting streak extends to 20 games.  He's at 439/468/684 in July.  Last year Utley  slumped at the end of the season, hitting just .251 in August and September.

Burrell was 0-for-5 with a big strikeout, leaving four men on base.

Howard was 1-for-5 with a double.  He's 8-for-his-last-21 (.381) after starting the month 9-for-29. 

Rowand 1-for-3 with a home run.  I hope he knocks it off with the hit by pitches soon, cause he's starting to look like Rudy Stein out there, to the degree that's possible.  Over his career he's been best in July in August, so let's hope he's heating up. 

Bell 1-for-3 with a triple and a walk.  He has been awesome in July.  After slugging, really, .241 in 79 June at-bats he's been the Phillies' best non-Utley hitter in July, posting a 360/400/600 line in 50 at-bats.  Despite having five doubles, two triples and a home run in those 50 at-bats, he's knocked in just five runs, so he's often lacking in ducks.

Lieberthal was 0-for-3 with a strikeout and left three men on base.  His average on the season drops to .222 in 99 at-bats and he's on-basing just .257 and slugging .303.  I expect Coste will catch Lieber this afternoon. 

The Phillies try to salvage a game this afternoon as Jon Lieber goes for the Phillies.  He will not face Chris Young, who has a problem with his foot, but 25-year-old right-hander Mike Thompson.  Thompson will be recalled from Triple-A Portland to make the start.  He's made nine starts for San Diego this year, going 3-2 with a 4.30 ERA.  Righties are hitting .287 against him and lefties .228.

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