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August 9 2007

The Phillies have acquired 31-year-old Russell Branyan from the Cleveland Indians for cash.  He's a low average guy with legendary power and just as legendary strikeout numbers.  He takes a lot of walks and can't field. 

Branyan, who bats left-handed, hit 197/322/426 in 122 at-bats for the Padres this season.  He hit seven home runs.  He played 24 games at third base and 12 in left field.

The Padres released him in July and the Indians signed him on Tuesday and sent him to Triple-A. 

In 2006, Branyan appeared in 54 games in right field for the Devil Rays.  Assuming the Phillies believe he can play right field, they would have the option to platoon Branyan and Werth in right until the return of Victorino.  They could have done the same thing with Werth and Dobbs (or Helms and Dobbs), too, but chose not to.  Branyan has not been significantly better against righties than lefties over his career, he has hit 220/302/481 (783 OPS) against lefties and 231/331/479 (810 OPS) against righties. 

The linked announcement suggests Branyan will be put on the 25-man roster for tonight's game, which means somebody is headed elsewhere.  The Phillies currently have 13 pitchers on their roster, including relievers Myers, Mesa, Alfonseca, Gordon, Durbin, Romero, Condrey and Geary.

Chris Roberson's hold on his roster spot can't be too secure, but I expect the Phils will keep him on the roster till Victorino or Bourn returns.

Love this move.  That said, he really can't play defense and he really strikes out a lot.  In 2,119 career plate appearances, Branyan has struck out 734 times.  That's about 34.6 percent of his plate appearances.  Pat Burrell, by comparison, has struck out 1,094 times in his 4,540 plate appearances, about 24 percent.  Howard has struck out 427 times in his 1,526 career plate appearances, or 28 percent of the time.  Howard leads the NL in strikeouts this season, having whiffed 133 times in 432 plate appearances, or 30.8 percent.

After spending much of the year hitting at Petco, Branyan must be excited by the possibilities of the cozy confines of Citizens Bank Park.  He's pretty much one dimensional.  But it's a nice dimension. 

August 9 2007

There is fun to be had with that h.

Kyle Lohse got his first win as a Phillie last night.  He got a lot of help from the bullpen -- Alfonseca, Gordon and Myers combined to allow just one hit over 2 2/3 innings while striking out four.  Aaron Rowand gave the Phils a three-run lead with a two-run homer in the sixth.

All of the sudden the Phillies' bullpen is lights out.  The blast that Gordon gave up to Fielder in Milwaukee on Saturday cost the Phils the game, but since then the pen has gone 12 1/3 scoreless innings over three games.  Every member of the Phillies' eight man pen has pitched during that three-game stretch.

The Phillies beat the Florida Marlins last night, winning 6-4 to improve to 60-53 on the season.  A win tonight would put them eight games over .500 for the first time this season.  They are in second place in the NL East, four games behind the Mets and a half game ahead of the Braves.  In the Wild Card hunt, they trail just one team, the Padres.  The Phils are a game behind San Diego for the Wild Card and have won three in a row.

Lohse got the start for the Phillies and went 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits.  Four of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and two home runs.  He walked three and struck out three. 

Hanley Ramirez started the first with an infield single to short.  Rollins made a nice play moving towards third, but the speedy Ramirez beat his throw to first.  Ramirez was caught by Ruiz trying to steal second and Dan Uggla and Miguel Cabrera both popped out behind him.

Lohse threw a 1-2-3 second.

Alejandro De Aza hit a ground-rule double to left with one out in the third.  Pitcher Dontrelle Willils was next and he laced a 1-1 pitch from Lohse over the wall in right, putting the Marlins up 2-1.  Ramirez and Uggla went down behind him.

Cabrera started the fourth with a towering home run to center that cut the Phillies' lead to 4-3.  Todd Linden drew a one-out walk and stole second on the pitch that Jeremy Hermida struck out on for the second out.  Matt Treanor grounded to third to leave Linden stranded.

Ramirez walked with two outs in the fifth, but Lohse made a nice play on a ball back to the mound hit by Uggla to end the frame.

Lohse walked Cabrera to start the sixth, but got Mike Jacobs on a fly ball to right field for the first out.  Linden hit into a double-play to end the inning.

With one out in the seventh, Treanor lined a ball into left field.  Burrell made a dive-like offering in the direction of the ball, missed, and the ball skipped past him.  Treanor was given a double, but it was a bad play by Burrell, especially with the Phils up three runs.  De Aza moved Treanor to third with a single, putting men on first and third with one out for the pitcher's slot.  Righty Jason Wood hit for Justin Miller and Manuel brought in Alfonseca to pitch to him.  Wood hit a ground ball in between short and third.  Rollins made a fantastic diving stop and threw to second in time to force the speedy De Aza.  Great play by Rollins to get an out on that ball to help control the mini-rally by Florida.  Treanor scored from third to make the score 6-4.  Ramirez was next and he hit a fly ball to short left that Burrell caught after a long run.

Gordon pitched the eighth against the heart of the Florida order with the Phils up 6-4.  I was certain at the time this wasn't going to work, but Gordon shut down the Marlins with a sparkling 1-2-3 inning.  He got Uggla and Cabrera on ground balls to third and struck out Jacobs to end the frame.

Myers struck out Linden for the first out in the ninth before Hermida singled to right.  He struck out pinch-hitter Miguel Olivo and De Aza to end the game.

Great job by Alfonseca, Gordon and Myers.  They went 2 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit, a single, and striking out four. 

The Phillies' lineup against lefty Dontrelle Willis went (1) Rollins (2) Taguchi (3) Burrell (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Werth (7) Ruiz (8) Nunez.  Helms has pretty much become a non-factor -- I think you need to play him against lefties at least.  Ruiz continues to start behind the plate, I'm still hoping for Coste to see more playing time.

With one out in the first, Iguchi dribbled a ball towards Willis.  Willis threw wildly to first, Taguchi had a single and took second on the error.  Burrell and Howard both walked, loading the bases with one out for Rowand, who struck out.  Werth grounded to short to end the inning.  Big strikeout for Rowand as the Phils get nothing out of bases loaded with one out.

Nunez singled with one out in the second and Lohse bunted back the pitcher.  Again Willis threw wildly to first.  Lohse was safe at first on Willis' second error in two innings and Nunez went to third.  Rollins hit a long fly ball to center field for the second out.  Nunez scored easily to put the Phils up 1-0.  Iguchi moved Lohse to second with a single, but Burrell followed and grounded to short to end the inning.

Rowand blooped a double down the right field line with one out in the third and moved to third on a single by Werth.  Ruiz hit a soft ground ball to third for the second out.  It allowed Rowand to score and tie the game at 2-2.  Willis uncorked a wild pitch while trying to walk Nunez intentionally, allowing Werth, who had gone to second on Ruiz's ball, to go to third.  Nunez walked intentionally, putting men on first and third with two outs for Lohse.  Lohse lined a single over second.  Werth scored and Nunez went to second.  3-2.  Rollins singled to center, Nunez scored and Lohse went to second.  4-2.  Iguchi grounded out to the pitcher for the third out.

Burrell started the fourth with a ground ball to short that got past the weak effort of Ramirez for a single.  The next two went down for the Phils before Werth was hit by a pitch.  Ruiz grounded to short for the third out.

Nunez was hit by a pitch to start the fifth and Lohse bunted him to second.  Great job with the bat by Lohse, who twice got the sac down and lined an RBI single into right in the third.  Rollins and Iguchi went down to leave Nunez stranded at second.

With one out in the sixth, Howard hit a ball down the left field line he apparently thought was going foul.  Stayed fair and Howard had to hold first when he should have had two.  Didn't matter, though.  Justin Miller relieved Willis and Rowand lined his first pitch out to right-center to put the Phils up 6-3.  Werth struck out for the second out before Ruiz hit a blast off the top of the wall in right for a triple.  The Marlins again walked Nunez intentionally, putting men on first and third for Lohse.  Manuel let Lohse hit for himself.  Lohse struck out swinging.  Manuel's fear of his pen shows itself again, I think you need to hit for Lohse there.  Lohse had thrown 92 pitches on a hot night and would get one more out in the game.  Also, any team that intentionally walks career 244/314/317 hitter Abraham Nunez twice in one game deserves to lose. 

Rollins singled to start the seventh and went to second on a ground out by Iguchi.  Burrell walked and Roberson pinch-ran for him.  It put men on first and second with one out for Howard.  Howard struck out and Rowand popped to first.

Werth started the eighth with a triple to center.  Ruiz was next and he hit a fly ball to shallow right.  Hermida made the catch in right but went to the ground to do so.  Werth tried to score from third but Hermida got up and threw him out on a close play.  Unfortunate, but I think they made the right choice in trying to score Werth after Hermida left his feet.  Nunez lined to second to end the inning.

Rollins was 2-for-4 with two RBI.  Great defensive play in the seventh.

Iguchi was 2-for-5 and left four men on base.

Burrell was 1-for-3 with two walks, but I fear the magic may be gone or at least slowed.  Last night's single had some help from Ramirez and he's striking out more than he did in his torrid July.  He's 1-for-his-last-8 with three strikeouts.

Howard was 1-for-4 with a walk.

Rowand was 2-for-5 with a double and a home run.  He struck out twice and left six men on base.  He has six hits in August, four of which went for extra-bases (a double and three home runs).

Werth was 2-for-4 with a triple.

Ruiz was 1-for-5 with a triple.

Nunez was 1-for-2 with two walks.  He's 2-for-5 with a double and three walks in his last two games.

Kyle Kendrick (5-2, 3.88) faces righty Sergio Mitre (5-5, 3.67) tonight as the Phils go for the sweep.  Kendrick will be making his first start against the Marlins.  In ten starts for the Phillies this season he has allowed three or fewer runs eight times and has yet to allow more than five.  Lefites are still the problem for him, they're hitting .333 with a 1.82 ratio.  Righties are hitting .211 with an 0.87 ratio.  He's been better at home so far, throwing to a 3.29 ERA in his six starts at Citizens Bank Park.  Mitre started against the Phillies on April 6, the fourth game of the season, and allowed five runs in five innings.  Only one of the runs was earned.  Jimmy Rollins hit a home run against him in that game.  He was very strong early in the season, but has 3-3 with a 5.19 ERA over his last 11 starts.  On the season, righties are hitting .312 against him, lefties .243.  He has been good at preventing the long ball, allowing just seven in 117 2/3 innings.

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