August 20 2006

The Phillies sent a simple message to lovers of beautiful baseball this afternoon: Stay away.  There's nothing for you here.

The Phillies beat the Washington Nationals 12-10 this afternoon to improve to 61-62 on the year.  It was an ugly, ugly game in which the Phillies led 10-1 and wound up struggling to get a win on a day when the Nats made five errors. 

Randy Wolf got the start for the Phillies and was good through five but got bombed in the sixth.  He wound up going five innings, allowing six runs on nine hits and three walks.  He struck out eight.  Three of the hits went for extra-bases, two home runs and a double.

Felipe Lopez hit a one-out double for the Nats in the first, but was thrown out trying to steal third with two outs to end the inning.  Way to be fundamentally sound, Nats.  Maybe if you bunted more.

Wolf set Washington down 1-2-3 in the second, striking out the side.

Brandon Harper led off the top of the third with a home run, the first of his career, which cut the Phillies lead to 3-1.  Harper, a 30-year-old career minor leaguer playing in just his fourth game, has yet another heartwarming story if you like that kind of thing.  Wolf got the next batter, but the pitcher Astacio singled before he struck out Soriano for the second out of the inning.  Another single, this one off the bat of Felipe Lopez, made it first and second with two outs, but Zimmerman grounded out to third to end the inning.

Wolf struck out the side again in the top of the fourth, pitching with a 7-1 lead.  He had struck out seven through four innings.

In the fifth, Wolf got the leadoff man before allowing back-to-back singles and walking Soriano to load the bases.  With a 10-1 lead he walked Lopez to force in a run and make the score 10-2 Phils.  Zimmerman followed and smashed a line drive right at Nunez for the second out of the inning.  Wolf struck out Johnson for the third time in the game to end the inning.

Wolf started the sixth and didn't get an out.  He gave up back-to-back singles before Brandon Harper's story got a little more heartwarming and a lot more bothersome.  His three-run homer cut the Phillies lead to 10-5 with nobody out in the inning.  Wolf walked Bernie Castro and that was all anyone could stomach.  Manuel called in Rick White.  Marlon Anderson was the first man to face him and drove a double to right-center, scoring Castro to make the score 10-6.  Victorino hit the wall hard on the play but stayed in the game.  White struck out Soriano, but Lopez walked and Damian Jackson followed with another walk to load the bases.  Nick Johnson came to the plate as the tying run as the pen finally got up.  White walked Johnson, forcing in a run to make it 10-7.  Manuel pulled White for Madson with Austin Kearns at the plate.  Kearns hit a ground ball to third and the Phillies got one out as Lopez scored from third to make it 10-8 with two down and runners on first and third.  Madson struck out pinch-hitter Daryle Ward to end the inning.

Madson returned for the seventh and gave up a leadoff single before striking out Castro for the first out of the inning.  Anderson followed with a groundout for the second out of the inning, but Madson walked Soriano to make it first and second with one out and Lopez at the plate.  Lopez smashed a hot shot to short, but Rollins made a nice play to end the inning.

Madson started the eighth with an 11-8 lead and quickly made more trouble for himself.  With one out he loaded the bases on a single, a walk and a hit batter and Manuel brought in Fultz to pitch to the lefty Schneider.  Schneider singled, scoring two to make the score 11-10.  Roberson didn't throw the ball home, which kept Ryan Church at second, which would turn out to be important.  Castro followed with a ground ball to second that should have been a double-play, but Sandoval could only get one out.  Had Roberson thrown home and allowed Church to go to third he likely would have scored on the play and tied the game.  We need to keep Roberson far, far away from Aaron Rowand lest he be tempted to start throwing those kind of balls like twelve feet over the head of the cutoff man and catcher and into the third row.  Fultz struck out Anderson to end the inning.

With Gordon still out with shoulder problems, Rhodes came on in the ninth and nailed it down for his second save of the year.  He struck out the first two men before giving up a double to pinch-hitter Vidro.  Nick Johnson came up as the tying run but struck out for the fourth time on the day to end the game.

The Phillies lineup against righty Pedro Astacio went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Rowand (7) Lieberthal (8) Nunez.  Victorino gets the start in right against the righty as Dellucci's problems with his quad continue.

In the bottom of the first, Rollins led off with a walk and moved to second on a bunt from Victorino.  Utley flew out for the second out of the inning and the Nationals intentionally walked lefty Howard to pitch to righty Burrell.  Burrell blooped a single off the glove of a diving Escobar in center, scoring Rollins and putting the Phils up 1-0.  Rowand grounded out to end the inning.

Lieberthal led off the second with a home run, his fifth on the year, putting the Phillies up 2-0.  Nunez went down for the first out of the inning, but Wolf walked and Rollins reached when Nick Johnson threw his grounder to first into left field trying to force Wolf at second.  The error put runners on second and third with one out for Victorino, who grounded out, scoring Wolf and sending Rollins to third with the Phils up 3-0 and two down.  Utley went down to end the inning.

Howard led off the third with a walk and scored on a double from Burrell to put the Phillies up 4-1.  A single from Rowand sent Burrell to thid.  Lieberthal followed with another single, scoring Burrell to put the Phils up 5-1 with the Phils ending up with runners on second and third on a throwing error by Soriano.  Nunez singled, scoring Rowand and sending Lieberthal to third.  6-1 Phils.  Wolf hit a long fly ball to left.  How long was it?  Well, long enough to score Lieberthal from third and put the Phillies up 7-1, so it was long (just in front of the warning track).  Rollins followed with a single, sending Nunez to third, but Victorino popped out for the second out and Utley flew to right to end the inning.

The Phillies got three more in the fourth to go up 10-1.  Burrell drew a one-out walk and Rowand followed with a single.  Lieberthal flew to left for the second out of the inning, but Nunez followed with a three-run homer.  The Phillies played ignore Nunez on the bench after the homer, which seemed funny at the time but somewhat less so two innings later when the Nats brought the tying run to the dish.

The Phillies went down 1-2-3 in the fifth.

With one out in the sixth, Burrell reached on an error by Damian Jackson and Rowand followed with a single to right to send Burrell to second.  Lieberthal followed with a bloop to center, which Marlon Anderson made a nice sliding catch on and doubled Burrell off of second to end the inning.

The Phils loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh on a leadoff double by Nunez, a bunt by Madson on which the Nats didn't get an out, and a walk by Rollins.  Victorino hit a ball hard to first, but Washington forced Nunez at home for the first out of the inning.  Sandoval followed with a sac fly to put the Phils up 11-8.  The Nationals walked Howard to get to Burrell who flew out to end the inning.  It was the second time on the day they had intentionally walked Howard to get to a righty against Burrell, this time it worked but I think it's a pretty bad idea (in the first Burrell blooped an RBI-single into center).

The Phillies got another in the bottom of the eighth.  Rowand led off with a single and Lieberthal was safe on an error by Jackson at third.  Nunez was safe on more bad defense from the Nationals when they failed to force Rowand going for third on a fielder's choice to load the bases with nobody out.  Dellucci pinch hit for Fultz and struck out, which looked big and bad at the time, but Rollins followed with a sac fly that brought in a run and made it 12-10 Phils before Victorino flew out to end the inning.

On the day the Phillies 1-through-4 hitters went 1-for-14 with three RBI and their 5-through-8 hitters went 11-for-18 with eight RBI.

Rollins was 1-for-3 with two walks.  He was 4-for-12 in the series and is at 354/419/622 in his first 82 August at-bats.

Victorino was 0-for-5 with an RBI and left eight men on base.  3-for-11 in the series. 

Utley 0-for-4 on the day and 0-for-9 in the series.  Don't forget Utley's problems at the end of the season last year.  I'm just saying.

Howard was 0-for-2 with three walks.  2-for-11 with a home run in the series. 

Burrell was 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBI.  He was 4-for-10 with four walks in the series.

Rowand was 4-for-5 with four singles.  7-for-13 in the series with seven singles.  He has just one extra-base hit in his last 58 at-bats.

Lieberthal was 2-for-4 with a home run.  In the series he was 5-for-8 with two home runs, a double and five RBI in the series.  He's hitting 366/435/659 in 41 at-bats this month.

Nunez had a huge day, 3-for-5 with four RBI.  He was 3-for-13 in the series. 

Jon Lieber faces Rich Hill tomorrow night in Chicago.

August 20 2006

And now for something completely different:  The Phillies acquired left-handed pitcher Jamie Moyer and cash from the Seattle Mariners last night in exchange for two right-handed pitchers, Andrews Baldwin and Barb.

A few things are new here -- the first is that it makes it hard for one to believe that Pat Gillick thinks the Phillies aren't going to contend this year or in 2007.  The second is that Moyer apparently wanted to come to Philadelphia.

The Phils gave up very little to acquire Moyer.  Baldwin's a starter and Barb a reliever, but both are long shots to help a major league team in the near future, if ever.  What they did give up was a chance to give Moyer's starts to young guys like Mathieson.  It's fine with me -- I wish they had gone for it this year all along.  I think the only criticism on the move you can make is the timing, cause if they were going to make a push this year they gave way too many starts to Floyd, Madson and Mathieson to give themselves much of a chance.

Moyer is 43, but his 4.39 ERA in the DH-loving American League stacks up well with the Phillies starters, who have been the worst in the NL this season.   Here is the complete list of Phillies entering the day who have started a game this year and have thrown to an ERA as good as Moyer's:  Randy Wolf (four starts and a 4.35 ERA) and Aaron Fultz (one terrible start but an overall ERA of 4.11 on the year).

Moyer was an All-Star in 2003 when he went 21-7 with a 3.27 ERA for the Mariners.  2003 was one of the three years in his career in which he was in the top ten in the AL in the Cy Young voting and one of five seasons in which he was in the top ten in his league in ERA.  It was one of two seasons he won 20 games, he was 20-6 with the Mariners in 2001 with a 3.43 ERA.  He has pitched in the NL before for the Cubs and the Cardinals.

He's made 25 starts for the Mariners this season, going 6-12 with a 4.39 ERA.  Over his career he's been curiously much better against righties than lefties, but that has not been the case this season.  This year righties are hitting .294 against him (lefties .258) and have banged out 22 of the 25 home runs he's surrendered.  Oh yeah.  The home runs.  That's kinda the thing.  Moyer is the active leader in baseball in home runs allowed.  He allowed a world-leading 44 in 2004 but cut that down to 23 in about the same number of innings last year.  His ratio is queerly at 1.39 for the year, which is identical to his mark in 2005 and 2004.

Nobody feels real comfortable trading for a guy who is 43-years-old, but if you're going to do it it might as well be for someone who throws as slow as Moyer.  It's not like he has a lot of velocity to lose.  It's a risk, but I think the risk is mostly losing the starts that you could have given to someone younger who needed the experience that will help in the future.  That said, it's a good deal and I'm excited to see the Phillies looking to do something this year -- I only wish they had started just a little sooner.

It looks as if Moyer will start on Tuesday against the Cubs.  I'd love to see the Phillies give Mathieson a chance to throw out of the pen, but he looks likely to be headed back to the minors.

August 20 2006

The Phillies have gone 5-4 in their last nine, improving their record to 60-62 with 40 games left to play.  They are in second place in the NL East, 14 games behind the Mets.  In the Wild Card hunt they are 2 1/2 back and trail three teams.  Over their last nine games the Phils are 0-4 in games that Mathieson or Myers started and 5-0 in games started by anyone else.  On the year the Phillies have gone 1-6 in the games started by Mathieson.

August 11:  Beat the Reds 6-5 in fourteen innings to improve to 56-58 on the year.

  • Jon Lieber got the start and was good, going seven innings and allowing three runs, just two of which were earned, over seven innings

  • The Phillies got a three-run bottom of the eighth to go up 4-3 before Gordon gave up a two-run homer in the ninth that put the Phils behind 5-4

  • The Phillies tied it in the bottom of the ninth and won in the bottom of the 14th on a one-out single from Aaron Rowand with the bases loaded

August 12:  Lost to the Reds 9-7 to drop to 56-59 on the season.

  • Mathieson got bombed for six runs in 3 1/3 innings, but Geary kept the Phillies in the game with three innings of scoreless relief

  • Rollins had two home runs after hitting one the night before and drove in four runs

  • Howard tied the game at 6-6 with a solo homer in the bottom of the eighth, his 40th of the year

  • Gordon gets hammered again -- he's takes the loss and is charged with three runs and hasn't pitched since with a sore shoulder

August 13:  Lost to the Reds 7-5 in 11 innings to fall to 56-60.

  • Myers strikes out nine in 5 2/3, but allows five runs on nine hits including back-to-back-to-back homers to Griffey, Dunn and Aurillia in the sixth

  • Rollins goes 4-for-6 to make him 8-for-17 with three homers on the series

  • Howard homers again, his 41st on the year, a two-run shot in the sixth

  • The Phillies tie the game at 5-5 with two in the bottom of the ninth, but lose when Madson allows two runs on three hits and a walk in the eleventh

August 14:  Beat the Mets 13-0 to go to 57-60 on the year.

  • The Phillies pound Pedro and his injured calf for six runs in just an inning

  • Cole Hamels allows just four hits in eight shutout innings while striking out nine

  • Jimmy Rollins continues his tear with three more hits, including his fourth homer in four days

August 15:  Beat the Mets 11-4 to improve to 58-60 on the season.

  • Wolf pitches well and deep into a game for the first time in four starts, holding the Mets to two runs over seven innings

  • Jose Reyes hits three home runs, including two off of Wolf, driving in all four Mets runs

  • Rollins has two more hits, which would end his hot streak but put him at 13-for-his-last-24

  • Dellucci had a home run and three RBI, his 12th on the year and his third in his last 12 at-bats

August 16:  Win 3-0 over the Mets to get within one game of .500 at 59-60.

  • Lieber was tremendous, throwing a complete game shutout while allowing just five hits and not walking a batter -- the start dropped his ERA in August to 1.13 in three starts

  • Coste was 3-for-3 with a double and a two-run homer, pushing his average to .359 on the year

August 17:  Lost to the Mets 7-2 to fall to 59-61.

  • Mathieson gets pounded again, giving up six runs in four innings as his ERA puffs to 7.23

  • John Maine stifles the Phillies again, allowing just two runs in six innings coming off of an August 6 start where he threw six shutout innings against them

  • The Phils get all of their runs on a two-run homer from Howard, his 42nd on the season

August 18:  Lost to the Nationals 6-4 to drop to 59-62.

  • Brett Myers gets bombed again, giving up six runs on nine hits and four walks in just 3 1/3 innings

  • Lieberthal goes 3-for-4 with a double and his fourth home run of the year, raising his average on the year to .263 -- after ending the August 9 game in Atlanta with a 234/283/355 line he ends the day at a much more respectable 263/308/406

August 19:  Beat the Nationals 11-2 to improve to 60-62 on the season.

  • Hamels goes six strong innings, allowing two runs on five hits while striking out seven

  • Nats starter Ramon Ortiz is ejected in the second inning after hitting Utley and Rowand

  • Howard is 2-for-5 with his 43rd home run

  • Victorino has three hits, including a double, and drives in three

  • Fabio Castro throws a scoreless ninth to extend his streak of scoreless innings with the Phillies to 14 1/3

Randy Wolf faces Pedro Astacio this afternoon.

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