July 26 2006

Things aren't looking real good at the top of the Phillies rotation these days, but the bottom of the rotation has officially reached hide-your-eyes-bad status.  Over their last four starts, Hamels and Madson have combined to surrender 19 earned runs in 20 1/3 innings, allowing 27 hits and nine walks.  Never ones to rest on their collective laurels, the Phillies have added something to the mix recently, throwing in a catcher who's having lots of trouble catching.  Put it all together and what have you got -- one of the worst teams in the National League.

The Phillies could use another laurel or two or three to rest on.  They've been laurel-free for a while now.  Is there a kit you can buy or something?  There should be.  If not, somebody needs to get Al Gore on the phone and let him know there's something wrong with his Internet.

The Phillies lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks last night, falling 6-5 in eleven innings.  The loss, their third straight, drops them to 44-53 on the year.  They remain 13 1/2 behind the Mets, who have also lost three in a row.  Three teams in the National League have a worse record than the Phillies and only the Cubs and Pirates have won fewer games. 

Ryan Madson made another bad start for the Phils.  He went four innings, giving up two runs on five hits and five walks.  With a lot of help from Mike Lieberthal, he threw four wild pitches in the third inning.  Three of the five hits he allowed went for extra-bases, all doubles.  Aaron Fultz saved his line from being horrible, getting out of a bases loaded with nobody out jam Madson created in the fifth.

In the first inning, the first two Diamondbacks got aboard via a hit by pitch and a walk, but Madson got out of the frame by getting the next three.

He went into the top of the second with a 3-0 lead and walked the leadoff man.  He got the next batter, Carlos Quentin, to strike out, but Stephen Drew doubled to put runners on second and third with one out.  The pitcher Batista followed, and grounded out to first, scoring the runner from third and advancing Drew a base.  3-1 Phils with a runner on third and two outs.  Madson walked Byrnes but struck out Orlando Hudson to end the inning.

Madson started the third up 4-1.  Luis Gonzalez led off with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch, then scored on another wild pitch to make it 4-2.   Tracy singled and Johnny Estrada flied out for the first out of the inning before Tracy moved to second on another wild pitch.  Green flew out to left for the second out of the inning before Tracy went to third on another wild pitch.  With two outs and a runner on third, Quentin grounded out to third to end the inning.

The inning will show four wild pitches for Madson but it was Lieberthal who really struggled in the frame.  In Monday's game with Franklin on the hill and Lieberthal behind the plate, the Phillies had another rough inning, tallying a wild pitch and a passed ball.

With two outs and Miguel Batista on first in the fourth, Hudson doubled and Batista was thrown out at home in a rundown after he ran through the stop signal at third base.

Madson started the top of the fifth up 4-2 and loaded the bases on a walk, a single and a hit batter.  With lefty Shawn Green at the plate, Manuel replaced Madson with Fultz, who struck out Green for the first out of the inning.  Quentin followed and grounded back to the pitcher to start a double-play, which ended the inning.  It was a great job by Fultz, and it kept Madson's line from looking as bad as he pitched.

Fultz returned and threw a 1-2-3 sixth.  In his last four innings, Fultz hasn't allowed a run while giving up just one hit and one walk.

Cormier started the seventh with the Phillies up 4-2.  He gave up a one-out solo home run to Luis Gonzalez, which made the score 4-3.  With two outs, Estrada hit a fly ball to center that Burrell and Rowand somehow let drop, but Rowand threw Estrada out trying for second to end the inning.

Arthur Rhodes started the eighth with a 4-3 lead.  He got the first batter before walking Quentin and striking out Drew for the second out.  Gordon replaced Rhodes, and Carlos Quentin stole second.  Quentin was safe on the play, but clearly slid off the bag with Rollins tagging him.  He was called safe but the call was bad, and it would be important.  Pinch-hitter Jeff DaVanon followed with a triple that tied the game at 4-4.  Gordon walked the next two batters but got Gonzalez to ground out and end the inning.  It was a nice job by Manuel to bring his closer in for the eighth inning, which had been unwilling to do for much of the year, even though it didn't work. 

You would have to think the opportunities to trade Rhodes are pretty limited.  He has a 17.18 ERA in July.

The game was still tied 4-4 going into the ninth.  Gordon started the inning and quickly loaded the bases on a walk and two singles.  With no outs, Quentin grounded to third and Bell tried to come home but slipped on the throw.  The ball was up the line towards third and Chad Tracy scored, putting Arizona up 5-4.  With the bases still loaded and nobody out, Gordon managed to get out of the inning without any more damage.  Drew grounded to the pitched and they forced the runner at home.  DaVanon struck out and Conor Jackson grounded out to end the inning.

Over his last 3 1/3 innings over three games, Gordon has allowed four earned runs on six hits and four walks.

The Phillies tied the game in the bottom of the ninth and Rick White pitched the tenth, keeping the Diamondbacks off the board.  He walked two men and curiously hit Estrada, the second time in the game Estrada had been hit, in a spot where it looked like the Phillies would either pitch around their former catcher or intentionally walk the switch-hitter.  White hasn't been charged with a run in his last six appearances over 5 1/3 innings.

Ryan Franklin pitched the eleventh.  Quentin led off with a home run, which put the Diamondbacks up 6-5 before Franklin got the next three batters.  Franklin has allowed six earned runs in his last 2 2/3 innings over four games.

The Phillies lineup against righty Miguel Batista went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Rowand (7) Bell (8) Lieberthal.  Not much new here except Lieberthal catches again.  Look for Coste tonight when Lieber starts. 

The Phillies were all over Batista in the first, getting three hits, two walks and a hit by pitch.  Utley hit a two-run homer after Rollins led off with a single and David Bell hit an RBI-single with two outs to drive in Burrell and put the Phils up 3-0.

Rollins doubled to lead off the second, but Utley and Abreu both went down to make it two outs with a runner on second.  Burrell drove Rollins in with a single, which made the score 4-1 Phillies. 

The Phillies napped innings three, four and five, and didn't have a baserunner again till the sixth.  Up 4-2 they got a one-out walk from Bell, who went to second on a Lieberthal single.  They both moved up on a wild pitch, making it second and third with one out.  No runs for the Phillies, however, as pinch-hitter David Dellucci struck out and Rollins lined to right to end the inning.  We don't usually see Manuel use Dellucci, his best bat on the bench, that early, but I thought it was a fine time to call on him.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the seventh and started the bottom of the eighth in a 4-4 tie.  Howard led off with a walk and Rowand tried to bunt him to second and popped out.  Rowand would no doubt be hitting like .320 if it weren't for all the pop out bunt attempts.  Bell walked, but Lieberthal popped out and defensive replacement Shane Victorino grounded out to end the inning.  Victorino had entered in the top of the eighth for Burrell when the Phillies had a one-run lead.  Burrell's foot and mobility seem much better now.  If you're trying to get at-bats for Victorino it's fine with me.  If you're trying to win the game I'd leave Burrell in.  People complain a lot about what Burrell does when the game is on the line -- a lot of the time when the game is on the line he's on the bench.

The Phillies trailed 5-4 going into the bottom of the ninth, but a one-out home run from Utley tied the game at 5-5.  Abreu followed Utley with a double, but the winning run was stranded at second when pinch-hitter Coste struck out and Rowand lined to right to end the inning.

Still at 5-5 in the tenth, the Phillies got a two-out double from Victorino followed by a walk from Rollins.  Utley flew out to end the inning.

Arizona went up 6-5 in the top of the eleventh and the Phillies went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning.  Abraham Nunez was the second out and he's having a miserable season, hitting just 147/177/220.  Having Nunez on the bench cause you need a backup infielder is another reason to leave Burrell in the game -- obviously there's no way to know it would have worked out this way but I would have much rather have Victorino pinch-hitting there than Nunez.

Rollins was 2-for-5 with a walk.  He seems to be gaining momentum, he's at 293/356/500 in 82 at-bats in July.

Utley was 2-for-6 with two home runs and three RBI.

Abreu was 1-for-5 with a walk.

Burrell was 1-for-4 with an RBI.  He's 4-for-his-last-23 with four singles. 

Howard was 0-for-4 with two walks and three strikeouts.  Adam Dunn is the only player in either league with more strikeouts than Howard. 

Rowand was 0-for-4 with a strikeout. 

Bell was 1-for-3 with an RBI and two walks.  Lieberthal was 1-for-4 with a walk.  Lieberthal has one extra-base hit in his last 49 at-bats and had a horrible defensive game. 

Jon Lieber faces Brandon Webb tonight.

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