August 24 2006

The Phillies were mauled today in Chicago, losing for the first time in their last six games as the Cubs topped them 11-2.  The loss drops the Phillies to 64-63 on the year.

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and got lit up.  He went two innings, giving up nine runs on nine hits.  Only five of the runs were earned.  Four of the nine hits he allowed went for extra-bases, a double, a triple and two home runs.  After striking out 16 in his last 14 innings he didn't strike out a batter.  

The Cubs had Hamels at hello but not so much in a good way as in a pounding the ball all around the yard way.  In the first they went single, single, triple to make it 2-1 Cubs with nobody out and Aramis Ramirez, who reached on a ball just out of reach of a diving Victorino, on third.  Phil Nevin fouled to Coste for the first out of the inning and Matt Murton followed with a ground ball to third.  Nunez made a tremendous play, bare-handing the ball and throwing home as the Phils nailed Ramirez at the plate.  Things looked good, but not for long. Michael Barrett followed with a two-run homer and the Phillies were down 4-1.  Hamels got Angel Pagan to fly to center to end the inning. 

Hamels gave up a two-out double to Pierre in the second.  Ryan Theriot followed with a single to left and non-outfielder Joe Thurston made a tremendous throw to get Pierre at home. 

The Cubs led off the third with back-to-back singles and the runners moved to second and third with nobody out on the second wild pitch of the day from Hamels.  Matt Murton followed with a two-run single, which put the Cubs up 6-1.  Michael Barrett followed with a fly ball to right that turned into a wind-blown error on Dellucci, which put runners on first and second.  Angel Pagan was next and hit a three-run homer.  9-1 Cubs.  That was it for Hamels, who was replaced by Brian Sanches.  Sanches set the next three Cubs down to end the inning.

Sanches returned for the bottom of the fourth.  With one out he gave up back-to-back homers to Ramirez and Nevin, which extended the Cubs lead to 11-1.  He then struck out Murton for the second out of the inning, but gave up a walk to Barrett and a single to Pagan before striking out Cedeno to end the inning.  It was the first appearance for Sanches since August 18 and he's now allowed four home runs in 18 1/3 innings while pitching to a 6.38 ERA.   

The not-major-league ready Fabio Castro came in to pitch the fifth and set down the not-really-major-league-ready-either-but-you-shouldn't-say-much-down-11-to-1-in-the-fifth-Cubs 1-2-3.  He returned for the sixth and allowed a one out-single to Phil Nevin but got the next two to end the inning.

Castro threw another 1-2-3 inning in the seventh.  He has now thrown 17 1/3 innings with the Phillies, allowing no runs on five hits and two walks.

Rick White came in for the eighth and retired the Cubs 1-2-3.

The Phillies lineup against righty Carlos Zambrano went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Dellucci (6) Coste (7) Thurston (8) Nunez.  The big surprise here is that the lefty Thurston gets a start in the outfield after his big hit last night and Manuel rests Burrell against the tough righty.  Thurston entered the game 6-for-8 in his brief career against lefties and 6-for-33 (.182) against righties.  Chris Roberson must have been thrilled with the decision, what with actually being an outfielder and all.  Joe Thurston is a really terrible choice for any team as a starting left fielder in any circumstance that doesn't involve at least two of your outfielders being eaten by wolves.

In the first, Victorino drew a one-out walk.  Utley followed with a ground out and the Cubs forced Victorino at second.  Utley would move to second on a wild pitch from Zambrano.  Howard drove in Utley with a single to put the Phillies up 1-0.  Dellucci followed with another single, putting runners on first and second, but Coste grounded out to end the inning.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the second.  Utley hit a two-out double in the third, but was stranded when Howard flew to center to end the inning.  Coste singled with one out in the fourth, but Thurston and Nunez went down to end the inning. 

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the fifth, down 11-1.  With two outs in the sixth Dellucci reached on an error by Zambrano but Coste flew to center to end the inning.

Joe Thurston led off the seventh with a double and moved to third on a Nunez ground out.  Jose Hernandez followed with a single that scored Thurston and cut the Cubs lead to 11-2.  The not-major-league ready Fabio Castro followed, hitting for himself, and grounded into a double-play. 

Victorino was hit by a pitch to lead off the eighth inning and was out at second on a ground out by Roberson.  Roberson went to second on a wild pitch but was stranded when Howard struck out and pinch-hitter Danny Sandoval grounded to first. 

Thurston had another hit in the ninth, a one-out single.  Nunez followed with a ground ball and the Cubs were able to get Thurston at second.  Hernandez followed with a double, sending Nunez to third.  Both runners were stranded when Lieberthal flew out to end the game.   

Rollins was 0-for-3.

Victorino was 0-for-2 with a walk and was hit by a pitch.

Utley was 1-for-3 with a double. 

Howard was 1-for-4 with his 114th RBI.

Dellucci 1-for-3.  Coste 1-for-4.  Thurston was 2-for-4 with a double and a great throw in left.  He's 3-for-5 with the Phils.

Nunez was 0-for-4. 

The Phillies will be in New York tomorrow night for the first of three with the Mets.

August 24 2006

Apparently there wasn't anything wrong with Brett Myers that couldn't be cured with a little work with Rich Dubee, plenty of fluids and throwing to a god-awful Cubs lineup on a night when the wind was blowing in at Wrigley.  For the first time this month Myers had a great start and pitched the Phillies to their fifth straight win. 

The Phillies beat the Cubs 2-1 last night to improve to 64-62 on the season.  It moves them to within 1 1/2 games of the Wild Card leader, Cincinnati.  They are in second place in the NL East, 13 1/2 behind the Mets. 

Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies, coming off of four August starts where he allowed 21 earned runs in 20 innings.  He was awesome.  He went eight innings, allowing a run on four hits and a walk.  Three of the four hits he allowed went for extra-bases, two doubles and a home run.  He struck out nine.

Juan Pierre led off the bottom of the first for the Cubs and walked on four pitches.  Myers looked completely out of sorts, but Pierre helped him out a ton by getting caught stealing.  In his defense it took a wicked throw from Lieberthal, but it was a big moment early in the game as Myers really got it together after that.  He set down the next three Cubs he faced to end the inning.  Both Lieberthal and Coste have looked good throwing the ball at times this season, and the throw that Lieberthal made last night to get Pierre was perfect.  Lieberthal has thrown out 16-of-42 base stealers this year (38%) and Coste six-of-19 (32%).

The Cubs went 1-2-3 in the second and Myers struck out the side in the third.  In the fourth he got the first two before allowing a one-out double to Aramis Ramirez, but struck out Jacque Jones to end the inning. 

He set Chicago down 1-2-3 in the fifth and again in the sixth. 

Freddie Bynum led off the seventh with a single and was picked off of first base.  Ramirez went down swinging for the first out of the inning.  At this point the Cubs were losing 1-0 and had had three baserunners in the game, two of which they had given away on the basepaths.  The pickoff proved to be critical when Jones followed with a double that would have scored the speedy Bynum had he not been on the bench trying to avoid eye contact with as many people as possible.  Michael Barrett flew out to end the inning.

With one out in the eighth, Matt Murton homered to right on a 2-0 pitch to tie the game at 1-1.  Myers set down the next two Cubs to end the inning.

With lefty Juan Pierre set to leadoff, Manuel had Rhodes start the inning and he got Pierre on a line drive to David Dellucci in left.  Dellucci moved to left when Chris Roberson came in to replace Burrell in the eighth, Roberson played right with Dellucci moving to left.  I'm tired of that move.  I would much rather have Burrell batting late in the game than Chris Roberson, even at the cost of defense, especially given how left-handed the Phillies lineup is these days.  That said, Dellucci made a nice play in left on Pierre's ball -- he had to run a long way to record a big out and I don't know that Burrell would have gotten there.   More interesting stuff followed.  The Cubs called on righty Phil Nevin to pinch-hit for the leftty Freddie Bynum with the lefty Rhodes on the hill.  Manuel did something he's seemed unwilling to do for much of this year and last, replacing his pitcher mid-inning, his makeshift closer no less, calling on Geoff Geary to face Nevin.  Geary got Nevin to pop up and Ramirez grounded to short to end the game.  It was the first career save for Geary.

The Phillies pen did it again after the brilliant outing by Myers.  Another very solid job.  They still terrify me.  I really don't feel very comfortable they can keep it up.  Their pen has thrown the most innings in the NL this season (420 2/3) and they're only using five guys at this point:  Fultz, Geary, Rhodes, Madson and White.  Fultz is on a pace to throw 77 innings, which would be a career high.  Geary is on a pace to throw 91 innings, also a career high.  Madson's already thrown the most innings of his short career.  Even if they do bring up Mathieson to pitch out of the pen in a few days you have to wonder if they'll have much more confidence in him than they have in Sanches or Castro. 

The Phillies lineup against righty Angel Guzman went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Dellucci (7) Lieberthal (8) Nunez.   Utley returns, which is nice to see.  With Dellucci and Victorino both in the lineup, Dellucci drops to sixth against the righty rather than second.

Rollins led off the first with a walk and Victorino followed with a single that put runners on first and second.  Utley and Howard both went down without advancing the runners, but Burrell drew a two-out walk to load the bases.  Dellucci struck out to end the inning.

Guzman settled down after that, setting the Phils down 1-2-3 in the second and striking out the side in the third.  Dellucci hit a two-out single in the fourth, but Lieberthal popped to second to end the inning.

In the fifth, Rollins walked with two outs and Victorino followed and hit a ground ball to short that he beat out for a single.  Cedeno stayed back on the ball a bit, but Victorino is just really fast.  It was one of those little things in a game that turn out not to matter at all.  With two outs and runners on first and third, Utley struck out to end the inning. 

Ryan Howard led off the sixth with his 44th homer of the year, putting the Phillies up 1-0.  The next three Phillies went in order.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the seventh.  In the eighth, Utley was hit by a pitch with one out but was left stranded when Howard struck out and Burrell flew out to center.

The Cubs got a run in the bottom of the eighth and the Phillies went into the ninth in a 1-1 tie.  Things looked bleak when the first two Phils went in order, but Nunez drew a walk and pinch-hitter Joe Thurston blooped a single into right field, sending Nunez to second.  Rollins put the Phillies ahead 2-1 with a ball ripped into right-center, scoring Nunez while Thurston was thrown out at the plate.

Rollins was 1-for-3 with two walks and won the game with his ninth-inning double.  In 98 at-bats in August he's posted a 357/430/653 line.  For the year he's on-basing .343 and slugging a career-high .474.  He's on pace to score 129 runs, which is what Pujols scored last year to lead the NL.  It might not be a coincidence that he and the Phillies started rolling at about the same time.

Victorino was 2-for-4. 

Utley was 0-for-3 and struck out twice.  He left four men on base.

Howard was 1-for-4 with #44.  He's on pace to hit 56.

Burrell was 0-for-3 with a walk.  He's slugging .448 in August, which is his lowest mark for any month.

Dellucci was 1-for-4 with a single.  I would keep an eye on both him and Utley coming off of minor injuries.  Dellucci is 2-for-his-last-12.

Lieberthal 0-for-4 and 0-for-his-last-8.

Nunez was 0-for-3 but drew the two-out walk and scored the run that won the game. 

Thurston's pinch hit to keep the inning alive for Rollins was huge.

The Phillies had Jose Hernandez active for the game, giving him Michael Bourn's roster spot.  The trade for Hernandez apparently occurred while Bourn was on the plane and the Phillies sent him back to join the US Olympic team headed for Cuba.  I bet he laughed and laughed.

The Phillies finally face a Cubs pitcher with a Q Score above .00004 this afternoon when Carlos Zambrano takes the hill against Cole Hamels.

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