August 7 2006


ATL 51-59 574 5.22 271 336 453 42 27
PHI 53-57 564 5.13 262 339 445 68 19
ATL 981.0 564 5.13 1059 392 684 4.75 1.48
PHI 983.0 577 5.25 1075 370 735 4.83 1.47

One of my favorite things in all of baseball is the concept of the player to be named later.  I always picture that the team has decided which guy to trade and they're all standing around in a room staring at him until finally someone says, "Let's just call him Fred and be done with it."

The Phillies traded Ryan Franklin to the Cincinnati Reds today for a player to be named later.  No idea who the Phillies will get, but I'm guessing you could get good money that whoever he is he's headed to CJ Henry/Jesus Sanchez-land where those guys can all register for the draft, learn to drive and see their first R-rated movie together.

The Phillies will be in Atlanta tonight for the first of three.  I bet there's nothing the players like better than getting crushed 8-1 in an ESPN game that starts at 8:05 on Sunday night and having to fly down to Atlanta for the first of a three-game set the next night.  They should all be feeling chipper.  They come in at 53-57 and in second place in the NL East, 13 games behind the Mets.  The Braves are 51-59 and trail New York by 15 games.  The Braves are in a rut, winners of just three of their last ten.  Most recently they lost two of three to the Reds in Cincinnati, but salvaged yesterday's game with a 6-4 win.

The Phillies are ahead of the Braves in the standings despite having scored fewer runs and allowed more in the same number of games.  The Phils are fourth in the NL in runs scored, the Braves second.  Atlanta has allowed the seventh most runs, the Phillies have allowed the fourth most.

Chipper is still on the DL for the Braves and not eligible to return until Sunday.  Willy Aybar is getting most of the time at third base until he comes back.  Aybar was acquired in the July 28 deal that sent Wilson Betemit to the Dodgers and has gone 8-for-30 with eight singles since joining in the Braves. 

Joining Aybar in the infield are Adam LaRoche (272/338/555), Marcus Giles (267/359/397) and Edgar Renteria (311/384/458).  LaRoche has hit 23 home runs on the year, second on the team only to Andruw Jones.  Nineteen of them have come against righties and two of the four against lefties have come against Cole Hamels.  Renteria has bounced back nicely this year, having his best offensive season in the last three and the second best of his career.  In 2003 he was an All-Star, won a Gold Glove and was fourth in the NL in hits, stolen bases (34) and batting average (.330).  The numbers for Giles are down this year, he's curiously hitting just 244/324/378 against lefties (298/357/454 last year).

Andruw Jones (274/357/523) and Jeff Francoeur (255/279/448) man center and right.  Scott Thorman (241/283/460) has been playing a lot in left with help from Langerhans (244/339/384), who fills in all over.  Jones leads the team in home runs (26) and RBI (95), but he doesn't look likely to hit 51 bombs this season.  Francoeur is on-basing .261 against righties.

Brian McCann (343/399/556) catches.  He would be leading the league in batting average and tied for ninth in slugging if he had enough at-bats to qualify. 

Righty Bob Wickman closes, backed up by righties Danys Baez, Ken Ray, Chad Paronto, Oscar Villarreal, Tyler Yates and lefties Macay McBride and Wayne Franklin.  Wickman is still yet to allow a run since being traded to the Braves from Cleveland on July 20.  He's pitched six innings in six games, notching five saves and allowing just three hits.  Baez came over in the Betemit trade, he's thrown to a 4.02 ERA for th year.  Ray has been good, righties are hitting .216 against him.  Paronto has allowed just 33 hits in 35 1/3 innings while striking out 31.  Villarreal has been hit harder, allowing 60 hits, including ten home runs in 55 1/3 innings, but has kept his ERA (4.07) in check.  Former Mets prospect Yates is now 29 but has pitched pretty well, he's allowed just 22 hits in 26 2/3 innings but walked 17.  McBride has done a nice job against lefties, who are hitting .175 against him, but righties have hit him harder, .269.  32-year-old Wayne Franklin was called up from Triple-A on Sunday.

Brett Myers (7-5, 3.38) faces lefty Horacio Ramirez (5-4, 4.35) tonight.  Another lefty.  Spiffy.  The Phillies faces Ramirez on July 23 and got the win, holding them to one run on ten hits and a walk.  Only one of the hits went for extra-bases, a double by Utley.  On the year he's allowed 84 hits in 71 1/3 innings but just five home runs.  He last pitched on Wednesday against the Pirates, holding them to two runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings.  Myers last went on Wednesday as well.  He got the win against the Cardinals but didn't pitch especially well.  He allowed six runs on nine hits over six innings.  It was his first start over his last six in which he allowed more than three earned runs.  Over his last six starts he's struck out 46 in 40 2/3 innings.

Cole Hamels (4-5, 5.27) faces righty Tim Hudson (8-10, 5.22) tomorrow night.  Hudson faced the Phillies on July 24 and got the win.  He went 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits and five walks.  Only two of the runs were earned.  He last pitched on Thursday in Pittsburgh, allowing three runs over six innings.  Hamels started for the Phillies in the July 24 game against Hudson and got shelled.  He gave up seven runs in 5 1/3 innings on six hits, including three home runs.  He's had two good starts since then, allowing four runs in 14 1/3 innings.  Over his last three starts Hamels has struck out 31 in 19 2/3 innings.  Really he has.  And here's one for those of you in the there's more to life than strikeouts camp -- over those three starts his ERA has gone from 5.36 to 5.27.

Randy Wolf (0-0, 6.48) faces lefty Chuck James (4-3, 5.07) on Wednesday afternoon.  After going 4-0 in his first four starts, James has lost three straight, allowing 13 earned runs over his last 13 1/3 innings.  Lefties are hitting .368 against him and he's allowed 12 home runs in 49 2/3 innings on the year.  He last pitched on Wednesday against the Reds and allowed four runs on just two hits over 5 1/3 innings.  Wolf has had two starts since his return, allowing 18 hits plus walks in 8 1/3 innings.  In very limited time he's yet to allow a hit to a lefty, but righties have hit him hard (.333).  He can't go deep into games these days so he'll probably need a big assist from the pen whenever he gets his first win.  He last pitched on Friday against the Mets and allowed three runs on seven hits in four innings. 

August 7 2006

Some losses are bigger than others and the one on Saturday afternoon struck me as bigger than most.  The Phillies had been playing so well and it all fell apart after the terrible defensive inning and the confrontation between Burrell and Wagner in the ninth.   You could feel the team deflate.  I was interested to see how the Phillies would respond last night in a nationally televised game with two good young pitchers on the mound. 

It wasn't interesting for very long.  One of the good young pitchers pitched very well, but it wasn't the one I would have hoped.  Mathieson was the first to blink and the blinking came early and often.  The Phillies got mauled by a Mets team that is clearly just plain better.

The Phillies lost to the New York Mets 8-1 last night.  The loss drops them to 53-57 on the year.  They trail the Mets by 13 games and are 3 1/2 out in the Wild Card hunt, chasing four teams.

Scott Mathieson got the start for the Phillies and got blasted.  He went 3 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs on six hits and two walks.  Only two of the seven runs were earned but he allowed four extra-base hits, three doubles and a home run.

Mathieson didn't have much a problem through three innings, allowing just one hit, a two-out double to Valentin in the second.  Jose was stranded when Endy Chavez grounded out to end the inning and Mathieson went into the bottom of the fourth in a scoreless tie.

LoDuca doubled to lead off the fourth before Mathieson got Beltran to fly to right for the first out of the inning.  Delgado walked, putting runners on first and second with one out.  A double by Wright put the Mets up 1-0 with runners on second and third.  Valentin followed and hit a ground ball back to Mathieson, which should have been the second out of the inning with the runners unable to advance.  It wasn't.  Mathieson's throw was high and off Howard's glove.  Delgado scored from third and the Mets had runners on first and third with one out and a 2-0 lead.  It was the second straight day the Phillies had given the Mets an extra out on an error by the pitcher throwing to first base.  Mathieson and Lieber need to take most of the blame on those plays, but Howard needs to catch the ball, last night's especially.  The throws are going to get harder and the throwing errors even more frequent if nobody has any confidence in Howard's ability to make the play.  There isn't much reason for confidence at this point.  The error made it second and third with one out and Mathieson walked Endy Chavez to load the bases.  Milledge followed with a single, scoring another run to make it 3-0 with one out and the bases still full.  Mathieson struck out the pitcher Maine for the second out of the frame, but Reyes followed with a grand slam to put New York up 7-0.  LoDuca followed Reyes with a single and Manuel brought in Rick White to pitch to Beltran.  White got Beltran to fly to left and end the inning.

Brian Sanches came in to pitch the bottom of the fifth with the Phillies still down 7-0.  He got the first two Mets but gave up a two-run homer to Valentin, which extended the Mets lead to 8-0.  Chavez followed and Sanches struck him out to end the inning.

Sanches returned for the sixth and set the Mets down 1-2-3.   In 11 2/3 innings on the season Sanches has allowed just nine hits but also surrendered nine walks.  Opponents are hitting just .214 against him but his ERA is 6.94.

Fabio Castro started the bottom of the seventh down 8-1.  He gave up a leadoff single to LoDuca but retired the next three.  He returned for the eighth and threw a perfect inning. 

Striking a blow for players not major-league ready players everywhere, Castro has now thrown 10 1/3 shutout innings for the Phillies, allowing just three hits.  I find this fascinating.  Maybe we should bring Hector Made up and see if he hits .360 or something.  Maybe Jesus Sanchez is ready to contend for the Triple-Crown.

The Phillies lineup against righty John Maine went (1) Rollins (2) Dellucci (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Rowand (7) Lieberthal (8) Nunez.  Not much new here against the righty.  Nunez seems stuck in the eight-hole unless Sandoval is playing and he usually isn't.  The Phillies should try something new at third base.  I promise I'm not picky, just something different.  We're simple folk, really.

The Phillies managed just three hits and three walks off of Mets starter John Maine through six shutout innings.

The Phillies put runners on first and third with one out in the top of the first thanks to a double by Dellucci and an Utley single.  Howard struck out and Burrell popped to shallow left to end the inning.  Across both leagues, only Adam Dunn has struck out more this year than Howard. 

The Phillies didn't have a man on base in the second, third or fourth.  In the fifth they got one-out walks from Lieberthal and Nunez and Chris Roberson pinch-hit for Rick White.  Roberson grounded to second and Rollins flew to right to end the inning.

In the sixth, Utley singled with one out and Howard followed with a walk, but Burrell and Rowand struck out to end the inning.

Lieberthal led off the top of the seventh with a long home run to left, which got the Phillies on the board with the score 8-1.  Later in the frame Rollins and Dellucci both singled with two outs, but Utley struck out to end the inning.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the eighth and again in the ninth.

Rollins was 1-for-4 in the game and 2-for-11 with two singles in the series. 

Dellucci was 2-for-4.  4-for-9 with a double and a home run in the three games.  Victorino did not get an at-bat last night and was 3-for-9 with two doubles in the series.

Utley was 2-for-4 and 3-for-10 with three singles in the series.

Howard was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.  5-for-11 with a double, two walks, five RBI and two home runs in the series. 

Burrell was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and left four men on base.  1-for-8 with a walk.

Rowand was 0-for-4 and struck out twice.  He was 1-for-11 with a double and six strikeouts in the series. 

Lieberthal was 1-for-3 with his third home run of the year.  1-for-6 in the series.  Coste did not get an at-bat last night but was 0-for-4 in the series.

Nunez was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.  2-for-10 with two singles in the series.

Brett Myers faces Horacio Ramirez tonight.

The Phillies designated Ryan Franklin for assignment on July 30, so if something is going to happen with him it will need to happen soon.

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