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August 19 2007

It sure looks like, once again, it's all about the bullpen for the Phillies.

Over their last nine games the Phillies have gone 5-4.  After taking two of three from the Braves and then from the Nationals, the Phillies won Friday's opener in Pittsburgh to put them nine games over .500 for the first time this season.  They dropped the next two and end the nine game stretch at 65-58.

It doesn't sound like much.  5-4.  But given that the starting Phillies' pitchers combined to throw to a 5.54 ERA in the nine games, and that with Chase Utley on the DL, Ryan Howard went 4-for-33 (.121) with three singles and a three-run homer, it's tough to complain about 5-4.

The bullpen was at the center of things, helping the Phils go 4-2 against the Braves and Nats even though Phillies' hitters managed to plate just 24 runs in the six games.  Phillies' relievers were simply fantastic, allowing three earned runs in 17 2/3 innings (1.53 ERA).

As if on cue, the relievers collapsed in Pittsburgh, charged with 11 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings (11.88 ERA) as the Phils lost two of three.  The pen certainly can't be blamed for yesterday's loss, Moyer was shelled and surrendered eight runs, but they pitched miserably all the same.

The bullpen was the story at the end of last year and look like they may be again at the end of 2007.  The Phillies have two pitchers in their organization who seem capable of consistently going deep into games as a starting pitcher.  One is Brett Myers, who is in the bullpen.  The other is Cole Hamels, and given his age and history, I think it would be a mistake for the Phils to leave him out there too long too often.

Along with all the troubles they've had in the bullpen this season, the Phillies have gotten some unexpected and miraculous contributions from guys you simply wouldn't have expected.  If they're going to stay post-season hunt, it looks like they're going to need to come up with some more.

Last weekend the Phils took two of three from the Braves.

On Friday they won 5-4 to improve to 61-54 on the season

  • Hamels gave up four runs in the top of the first, but the Phils came back with four in the bottom of the inning on an RBI-double by Burrell, a sac fly by Howard and a two-run homer by Helms

  • A pinch-hit single by Dobbs in the seventh scored Werth to put the Phils up 5-4

  • Hamels throw six scoreless innings after the first and Romero, Alfonseca and Gordon combine to shut the Braves down in the eighth and ninth

Saturday they lost 7-5 to drop to 61-55.

  • Eaton got shelled, allowing six runs on eight hits in three innings

  • The pen was great after Eaton's early exit, allowing a single run over six innings

  • The Phils got back to 6-4 with a three-run fifth inning that featured a two-run double by Iguchi and an RBI single by Burrell, but couldn't get any closer

  • Rollins and Rowand both had solo home runs

Sunday, August 12, the Phils took the series with a 5-3.  It improved their mark on the year to 62-55.

  • Moyer held the Braves to three runs in 6 1/3 innings

  • Howard put the Phils up 4-2 with a three-run homer in the fifth

  • 2 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings from the pen.  In the series, the pen allowed just one earned run in 10 2/3 innings

On Tuesday, August 14, the Phils started a three-game set with the Nationals.  They also took that series two games to one.

They won Tuesday night's game 3-2 (63-55).

  • Kyle Lohse went 6 2/3 innings, holding the Nationals to two runs

  • The Phillies had one hit through seven innings and went into the frame down 2-0.  Werth reached on a two-base error and Ruiz singled him in.  Russell Branyan pinch-hit for Alfonseca, getting his first at-bat as a Phillie, and hit a two-run homer that put the Phillies up 3-2.

  • The Phillies got 2 1/3 more scoreless innings from their pen.  Alfonseca got the last out of the seventh, Gordon pitched the eighth and Myers struck out the side in the ninth to earn his tenth save

On Wednesday they lost 4-2 (63-56).

  • Kendrick allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings

  • The Phils were hurt by what looked like a missed call in the second inning when Austin Kerns was called safe on what should have been a double-play.  The Nats went on to score two runs in the inning

  • The Phils got just five hits in the game and only one extra-base hit, a solo home run by Werth

  • 2 1/3 more scoreless innings from the pen

Thursday they won 4-2 (64-56).

  • Hamels threw 6 2/3 shutout innings and the Phils took a 4-0 lead into the seventh

  • Gordon gave up two solo homers in the eighth -- the only runs allowed by the bullpen in the three game set.  For the series they give up two runs in seven innings (2.57 ERA)

  • Carlos Ruiz gave the Phils an early lead with a two-run homer in the second

On Friday they started a three-game set with the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

Friday they won 11-8, putting them nine games above .500 for the first time this season at 65-56.

  • Durbin made the start with Eaton on the DL and went six innings, allowing three runs.  Only two of the runs were earned.

  • Condrey, Mesa and Zagurski combined to allow five runs in three innings

  • Down 2-1 going into the fifth, the Phils scored four in the fifth and four again in the sixth

  • Rowand socked a three-run homer in the fifth and Burrell a two-run shot in the sixth as the Phils were able to outhit their suddenly shaky pen

Saturday they fell to 65-57 with an 11-6 loss.

  • Moyer was bombed, allowing eight runs in four innings

  • The Phils gave Moyer a 4-0 lead in the top of the first, but Moyer gave up four in the bottom of the inning.  The Phils jumped out again with two more in the top of the second, giving them a 6-4 lead, but didn't score again after the second inning

  • Werth hit a three-run homer in the first and Burrell homered for the second straight day, a two-run shot in the second

Today they lost 8-4 to drop to 65-58 on the year.

  • Lohse has a shutout and a 4-0 lead through six innings, but the Pirates scored seven runs in the seventh.  Four of the runs were charged to Lohse.

  • Romero, Alfonseca and Yoel Hernandez all pitch badly in relief.  The pen gives up four runs in 1 1/3 innings. 

  • Rollins led off the first with a solo home run

  • Branyan, who got his first start with the Phils, playing third, hit a three-run homer in the sixth to extend the lead to 4-0

On Wednesday, August 15, the Phils put Eaton on the DL with inflammation of the right shoulder and called Zagurski back up from Triple-A.  Zagurski injured his right hamstring trying to field a ground ball on Saturday night and was put on the DL before this afternoon's game.  Yoel Hernandez was called up from Triple-A.

Eaton played catch yesterday and reported no problems.  Same article says Barajas caught on Saturday at Lakewood and was expected to catch again today.

This article suggests Victorino may return late next week.

This article says Utley could be back a week from Monday.  Also says Scott Mathieson is rehabbing, looking good and could return in September.  Also says Freddy Garcia is rehabbing and not looking good.

This article, from August 8, suggested that Bourn "could be ready for a rehab assignment in two to three weeks."  Wednesday is two weeks from August 8, which is when the article was published.

No game tomorrow.  The Phils play their first of three with the Dodgers on Tuesday.

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