The D-minus train
July 29 2006
Ladies and gentlemen, in tonight's performance the role of Everyday Third Baseman will be played by Abraham Nunez. Yeah, we know he's hitting .157 and his career-high in home runs is five at age 30, but if it makes you feel any better the other third basemen in the division are David Wright, Miguel Cabrera, Chipper Jones and Ryan Zimmerman.
I'm pretty sure there's no chance Nunez at third base is going to work. The question seems to be how long it will take before that becomes clear and what the Phillies do once it does.
The Phillies pounded Dontrelle Willis and the Marlins tonight, knocking Willis out after just 2 1/3 en route to a 12-3 win. The win improves their record on the year to 47-54. It was a great time for the Phillies to knock out Willis early. It forced the Marlins' pen to throw 5 2/3 innings tonight before tomorrow's double-header.
Before the game the Phillies called up right-handed shortstop Danny Sandoval from Triple-A to take Bell's spot on the roster. There's little reason to expect much of a contribution from Sandoval, the 27-year-old was hitting 256/289/328 in over 300 at-bats at Scranton Wilkes-Barre. He was up with the Phillies last year and went hitless in two at-bats.
Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and pitched very well, giving the Phillies their third straight good performance from a starting pitcher. He went eight innings, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks. He struck out seven. Two of the five hits he allowed went for extra-bases, a double and a home run.
Hamels kept the Fish off the board in the first two innings, allowing just one hit. He went into the top of the third with a 1-0 lead. Olivo led off the third with a single and went to second on a sacrifice by Willis. Hanley Ramirez followed with a single that made it first and third with one out. Uggla was up and hit a sac fly to right to tie the game at 1-1. Ramirez stole second and the Phillies intentionally walked Cabrera before Cody Ross flew out to end the inning.
Hamels struck out the side in the fourth and threw a 1-2-3 fifth. He went into the top of the sixth up 9-1 but allowed a two-run home run to Josh Willingham with two outs to make the score 9-3.
Hamels shut the Marlins down 1-2-3 in the seventh and started the eighth with a 12-3 lead. Ramirez led off the eighth and was safe on a throwing error by Nunez. Hamels then walked Uggla and struck out Amezaga, making it first and second with one out and Joe Borchard at the plate. Borchard smoked a ball up the middle, which bounced once and slammed off of what looked to be Hamels' knee. Hamels crumpled and the ball rolled to Howard. Howard let it roll while he looked at Hamels and the ball bounced off first base and away from Howard. Borchard was safe and Howard was charged with an error. Hamels had to be helped off the field and Ryan Franklin came in to pitch for the Phils. He got Willingham to ground into an inning-ending double-play.
X-rays of Hamels knee would come back negative and his injury was deemed to be a contusion below the left knee.
Fabio Castro, of all people, came in to pitch the top of the ninth with a 12-3 lead. He was appearing in his first game since July 6. He walked Wes Helms to start the inning, but got a pop-up and a double-play to end the game.
The Phillies lineup against lefty Dontrelle Willis went (1) Victorino (2) Rowand (3) Utley (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Coste (7) Nunez (8) Sandoval. A lot of new stuff here in the post-Bell era. With Rollins still out with his hamstring, Sandoval starts at short and Victorino, playing right for Abreu, leads off. I would guess Abreu sitting had more to do with Willis on the mound than anything to do with trades or the trade deadline. Rowand moves up to second against the lefty despite his huge struggles against lefties on the season. Utley moves down to third with Abreu out of the lineup. Burrell starts against the lefty after Dellucci made three straight starts versus righties. Coste catches Hamels after Lieberthal got the call for Hamels' last start. There's no precedent for Coste, Nunez and Sandoval all in the lineup, but Manuel used the switch-hitter to break up the two righties.
After going 1-2-3 in the first, Burrell led off the second with a home run to put the Phillies up 1-0.
The Phils went into the bottom of the third with the game tied at 1-1 and put up seven runs. Sandoval led off with a walk and Hamels followed and bunted, but Cabrera threw Sandoval out at second. Victorino followed and was hit by a pitch, making it first and second with one out and Rowand at the plate. Rowand hit a check swing grounded back to Willis. Willis threw the ball into center field, allowing Hamels to score and putting runners on second and third with one out and the Phils up 2-1. Utley followed with a two-run single, putting the Phillies up 4-1. Burrell walked and Howard hit a three-run homer. 7-1 Phillies. Coste walked and Nunez and Sandoval followed with singles to load the bases with one out. Sandoval's single was the first hit of his career, and it brought Hamels to the plate. A sac fly from Hamels put the Phils up 8-1 before Victorino popped out to second to end the inning.
Utley hit a solo home run in the fourth to put the Phillies up 9-1.
The Phils started the bottom of the sixth up 9-3. Rowand hit a solo home run with one out to put the Phillies up 10-3. With two outs and Burrell and Howard on second and third (both walked), Coste hit a two-run double to put the Phillies up 12-3.
Victorino was 0-for-4 as his average fell to .259. He's 4-for-his-last-32.
Rowand was 2-for-5 with his tenth home run. He came into the game on-basing .318 for the season, so the first two guys in Manuel's lineup were on-basing .333 and .318.
Utley was 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI. He extended his hitting streak to 29 games.
Burrell was 1-for-2 with a home run and three walks. He scored three runs. He is having another year in which he has been awesome against lefties -- before tonight's game and the home run off of Willis his line was 318/463/682 against lefties.
Howard 1-for-3 with a home run and three RBI. And his 13th error -- no other first baseman in either league started the day with more than seven.
Coste was 2-for-4 with two RBI. He's hitting .339 in 62 at-bats. We're going to get a chance to see how sure the Phillies are Coste can't play third soon. I hope they give him a chance.
Nunez was 1-for-5 and left four men on base.
Sandoval was 1-for-2 with two walks. His first career hit came against Dontrelle Willis.
It'll be a long day of baseball tomorrow with the day/night double-header. The Phillies web site seems to indicate that Wolf will start the afternoon game against Anibal Sanchez.