July 28 2006

The Phillies traded David Bell to the Brewers for 22-year-old right-handed pitcher Wilfrido Laureano.  Laureano appeared in 29 games this year for the Class-A West Virginia Power in the South Atlantic League, throwing to a 4.10 ERA.  In 63 2/3 innings he struck out 62 and allowed just 54 hits.  The Phillies will assign him to Class-A Lakewood, also in the South Atlantic League.

The move means Abraham Nunez is likely the third baseman till something better comes along, which is curious since he's also the starting shortstop till Rollins returns from his hamstring issue.  Nunez has started the last two games at short for the Phillies. 

July 28 2006

There was excellent starting pitching all-around tonight in Philadelphia and Chase Utley extended his hitting streak to 28, but the Phillies fell to the Marlins 4-1.  The loss drops them to 46-54 on the year. 

After 100 games the Phillies are in danger of starting tomorrow with the fewest wins in the NL East if the Nats beat the Dodgers tonight.

Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies and was very good.  He went eight innings, allowing a run on five hits and a walk.  He struck out eight.  Two of the five hits he allowed went for extra-bases, both doubles.

Myers didn't allow a baserunner for the first three innings.  In the fourth, the first two men singled before Cabrera grounded into a double-play.  The double-play sent Alfredo Amezaga to third, but Jacobs grounded a ball to first that Howard fielded and flipped to Myers, who did a nice job of covering first, to end the inning.

Myers threw a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth.  Through five he had struck out five and allowed two hits, both singles. 

Myers gave up a two-out walk to Amezaga in the sixth, but Uggla lined to third to end the inning.  The walk to Amezaga was the first issued by Phillies starting pitchers in the last 20 2/3 innings. 

Cabrera led off the seventh with a double for the Marlins and Mike Jacobs followed with another double to put the Marlins up 1-0.  Myers got the next three to strand Jacobs at second.

Myers returned for the top of the eighth, getting the first two before Amezaga singled and was caught stealing to end the inning.

Geary entered the game in the top of the ninth with the Phillies still down 1-0.  Uggla led off with a hot ground ball to second.  Utley got leather on the ball but it popped in the air and Chase couldn't find it.  Uggla was safe with an infield single.  Cabrera followed and hit a hard ground ball to short, Nunez got one at second but Utley's throw to first was wide for an error that let Cabrera go to second with one out.   Jacobs was up next and the Phillies walked him before Cody Ross flew out to center for the second out of the inning.  It made it two outs and runners on first and second for lefty Jeremy Hermida.  Aaron Fultz's role of the day was lefty specialist out of the pen, Manuel brought him in and Hermida singled to center, scoring Cabrera to put Florida up 2-0.  Ramirez followed with a walk, loading the bases for Olivo.  Olivo singled past Bell at third and the Marlins led 4-0.  Fultz got pinch-hitter Willingham to end the inning.

Rheal Cormier has been conspicuously absent of late.  He's appeared once since July 17.  Tonight was Fultz's fifth appearance since July 17.  If something is wrong with Cormier's health it would mean that the Phils have four lefties in the pen including one guy with questionable health, one guy with a six-plus ERA, one guy who the Phillies assistant GM just told us wasn't ready to pitch in the major leagues, and Aaron Fultz.  The inability to get the lefty Hermida out tonight was huge -- Howard's home run in the ninth would have tied the game at 1-1 if they had.

The Phillies lineup against the righty Nolasco went (1) Dellucci (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Bell (7) Lieberthal (8) Nunez.  Dellucci continues to play for Burrell in left with Nunez subbing for Rollins.  Rollins has a hamstring problem.

The Phillies didn't manage a hit against Nolasco through the first five innings.  They did have three walks, and Utley led off the fourth and was hit by a pitch, but the Marlins kept them off the board.  Utley was thrown out trying to steal in the fourth, the caught stealing was his fourth on the year. 

With his 27-game hitting streak on the line, Chase Utley drew a one-out walk in the bottom of the sixth.  Abreu followed with ground out to second and the Fish walked Howard to pitch to the righty Rowand with the bases loaded, two outs, and the Phillies still looking for their first hit.  Rowand grounded to third to end the inning and keep the score tied at 0-0.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Nunez hit a ball that bounced once high to the pitcher.  Nolasco jumped, perhaps unnecessarily, and tried to field it, but it bounced off his glove and Nunez was safe at first, breaking up the no-hitter.  Myers followed, hitting for himself, and grounded out to end the frame. 

Utley singled with one-out in the eighth to extend his streak to 28, but the Phillies couldn't score when Abreu grounded out, with the Marlins getting Utley at second on the fielder's choice, and was picked off of first. 

Ryan Howard led off the ninth with a long home run on a 3-2 pitch, but Rowand, Bell and pinch-hitter Shane Victorino went in order to end the game.

The Phillies had just three hits on the night.  Utley and Nunez singled and Ryan Howard hit a solo home run.

Dellucci was 0-for-4.  Utley 1-for-2 with a walk.  Abreu 0-for-3 with a walk.  Howard 1-for-2 with two walks and the home run.

Rowand, Bell and Lieberthal combined to go 0-for-11.  Nunez was 1-for-2 with a walk.

Cole Hamels faces Dontrelle Willis tomorrow night.

July 28 2006


FLA 46-53 457 4.62 261 331 427 71 35
PHI 45-53 486 4.96 260 336 437 59 18
FLA 875.0 467 4.72 897 365 655 4.29 1.44
PHI 877.0 519 5.30 982 335 645 4.93 1.50

(Note:  does not include yesterday's games)

The Phils and Fish are separated by a half game in the standings and about $73 million in payroll.  The Marlins are doing a tremendous job this season, which shouldn't come as much of a shock.  Over the past ten years their organization has won the World Series more often than all of the other teams in the National League combined.

There's nothing wrong with this miserable season and the mid-summer blahs that a five-game series with the Florida Marlins can't fix, is there?  Five?  They would have made it six but the Phillies would have had to post suicide-prevention professionals at the snack concessions around the stadium, which can get expensive.   

I do come bearing some good news and it is this -- the Phillies won't finish behind the Florida Marlins in the NL East this season.  It's a sure enough thing that you can cue John Cusack to find a ride cross-country with lust in his heart -- although somebody might want to warn him that it's the Phillies up by like two games on the Marlins and not Nicollette Sheridan he'll find when he gets here.  He may decide his time can be better spent.  Like maybe rethinking all of the decisions that preceded his involvement with Must Love Dogs.

The Florida Marlins will be in Philadelphia tonight to play the first of a five-game series.  The Marlins are 47-53, a half a game ahead of the Phillies in the NL East.  They've won seven of their last ten and come off of a series in Atlanta where they took two of three.  The Phillies have won two straight to put their record at 46-53 on the year.

The teams last met for a two-game series in Florida the first two days of May.  The Phillies won both of those games, winning the opener 8-5 in game where they scored seven runs in the seventh and eighth after trailing 5-1 after six.  The Phils won the second game 7-5 on the strength of a four-run seventh, which featured a three-run triple from Aaron Rowand.  The combined attendance for the two games in Florida was under 13,000.

Florida pitching has been outstanding, but the Marlins have lots of problems scoring runs, which is fortunate since the Phillies pitchers have problems preventing them.  The Phillies have scored the seventh most runs in the NL.  The Marlins are 14th, having been outscored by everyone but the Astros and the Cubs.  Only the Brewers, Nationals and Pirates have allowed more runs than the Phillies.  Only two NL teams have allowed fewer runs than the Marlins.

Miguel Cabrera (325/423/538) has been the best Marlins hitter this season, to the surprise of none.  He leads the team with 63 RBI and his 15 home runs tie him for the team lead with Dan Uggla (300/356/510).  Before the season you could have gotten extremely good odds against Uggla posting those types of numbers this year.  First baseman Mike Jacobs (285/348/515) is suddenly having a good year -- after struggling through April and May he posted a 361/397/639 June and has hit 325/325/610 in 77 July at-bats.

Josh Willingham (254/333/434) and Hanley Ramirez (262/333/418) have both cooled after hot starts.  Willingham is in a terrible slump, just 214/296/371 in 70 July at-bats.  Ramirez had a terrible June (190/250/260) but has picked it up a little of late, hitting six home runs in July.  Both of those guys are struggling against righties, Ramirez is on-basing .303 for the year and Willingham .313 against right-handed pitching. 

Jeremy Hermida (300/380/438) came off the DL with a hip problem at the end of May and pounded the ball in June (345/406/529) and has carried it over into July, he's 8-for-his-last-21.  Reggie Abercrombie (215/279/341) joins Willingham and Hermida in the outfield.  One would hope he's really, really good defensively.  

Miguel Olivo (288/312/475) still does most of the catching and the .312 on-base percentage looks pretty bad.  He doesn't have a walk against lefties in 75 at-bats.  Last year he drew one walk against lefties in 74 at-bats.  And if you're not pumped for the 2007 season I can't think of a better reason to come on back than to see how Olivo is going to manage to draw -1 walks against lefties in 76 at-bats. 

Righty Joe Borowski is the primary closer for the Fish, backed up by righties Logan Kensing, Matt Herges, Chris Resop, Randy Messenger and lefties Jason Vargas and Taylor Tankersley.  Borowski has been solid, throwing to a 3.51 ERA, but righties are hitting .281 against him and lefties just .177, which bodes well for the Phils.  Kensing has been hit hard of late, giving up four runs in his last 4 2/3 innings.  Herges has given up 56 hits in 46 innings but has pitched well in June and July.  His infant son was in a coma for much of May.  Resop came up from Triple-A on July 16 and has thrown just ten innings.  Messenger has been pretty good but hit hard by lefties, who are hitting .300 against him while righties hit .222.  Vargas has a 7.09 ERA in 39 1/3 innings.  Tankersley was a first round pick in 2004 and has struck out 20 in 15 2/3 innings. 

Brett Myers (6-4, 3.74) faces righty Ricky Nolasco (8-6, 4.27) tonight.  Righties are hitting just .235 against Nolasco, but lefties are hitting .338 against him including seven of the 12 home runs he's surrendered.  He's been great in his last two starts, allowing one earned run on nine hits over 14 1/3 innings.  He last pitched Saturday against the Pirates and held them to four hits in 7 1/3 shutout innings.  In the May 2 game against the Phillies he pitched in relief and the Phils hammered him for four runs in 2/3 of an inning.  Jimmy Rollins homered off of him that day.  Myers has been good of late, not allowing more than three runs in any of his last four starts.

Cole Hamels (2-5, 5.98) faces lefty Dontrelle Willis (6-7, 3.97) tomorrow.  Willis last pitched on Sunday, against the Pirates, and gave up eight hits and three runs in six innings.  He hasn't lost in his last six starts but his walks are up this year.  Last season he walked 55 in 236 1/3 innings and this year he's already walked 47 in 143 innings.  Hamels comes off a twelve strikeout performance that was sadly also a seven runs in 5 1/3 innings performance.  In his last five starts he's allowed 21 earned runs in 23 innings without going six innings in any start.

Ryan Madson (8-7, 6.18) faces righty Anibal Sanchez (4-0, 3.00) in one of the games of Sunday's double-header.  In his last three starts Sanchez is 3-0 and has allowed one earned run in 21 innings (that there is your basic 0.42 ERA).  In Madson's last three starts he's gone 14 1/3 innings and allowed 14 runs (8.79).

Randy Wolf (NR) make his season debut in the other game of Sunday's double-header, facing righty Brian Moehler (5-7, 6.84).  Moehler will come off the DL to make the start, he's been out since June with a sprained foot.  He's allowed 108 hits in 77 2/3 innings in 15 starts this year.  Lefties are hitting .353 against him and righties .318.  Wolf will be making his first appearance with the Phillies in over a year and is coming off of Tommy John surgery. 

Jon Lieber (4-7, 5.52) faces righty Josh Johnson (8-5, 2.60) on Monday.  Josh Johnson leads the National League in ERA.  Righties are hitting .202 against him but everything else except for his strikeouts (92) looks a little less fabulous.  Amazingly, he has walked 51 in 103 2/3 innings. He last pitched on Wednesday and allowed three runs in six innings to the Braves.  Lieber also pitched on Wednesday and got the win against the Diamondbacks.  He allowed 11 hits and four runs over seven innings.

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