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August 28 2006

It was an interesting setup for the Phillies this afternoon in New York as they sent the Jamie Moyer to the hill against a young pitcher they just can't seem to beat, righty John Maine.  Riding a stretch where they had gone 9-4 and put themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt, the Phils had a chance to win their fourth straight series and move within half a game of the Wild Card leading Cincinnati Reds. Things went badly as Maine got just his fourth win of the year -- three of them have come against the Phillies. 

The Phillies lost to the New York Mets this afternoon, falling 8-3 to drop to 65-65 on the year.  Over their last 14 games the Phils are 0-2 in games started by John Maine and 9-3 in games started by anyone else.

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phillies.  He went six innings, allowing seven runs on nine hits.  Only five of the runs were earned and he struck out four.   Three of the nine hits he allowed, two doubles and a triple, went for extra-bases.  He didn't pitch particularly well, but was killed by some wretched Phillies defense and a wacky third inning in which the Mets scored six times.  

The Mets hit two balls hard in the first inning but went down 1-2-3.  Delgado led off the second with a double but the next three Mets went down in order to leave him stranded. 

The Phillies defense was miserable in the third.  Chavez led off with a single and Maine, the pitcher, followed with a bunt.  Coste tried to get the super-fast Chavez at second, but didn't and was charged with an error.  Not such a good decision.  Reyes was next and he bunted as well -- again the Phillies did not record an out as the Mets loaded the bases with nobody out.  Paul LoDuca was next and ripped a single under the glove of Howard, who may have had his vision blocked by Reyes, to put the Mets up 1-0.  The Phillies got the first out of the inning when Beltran hit a ground ball to third and Nunez came home for the putout.  Delgado followed with a ball off the glove of Utley for another hit, scoring two to put the Mets up 3-0 with one out and runners on first and third.  A crazy play followed -- Wright followed with a ball down the third base line that was originally called foul and then changed to fair.  Manuel was ejected and the Mets lead was 4-0 with one down and runners now on first and second.  Shawn Green followed with a double, scoring Delgado and sending Wright to third as the Mets extended their lead to 5-0.  Chris Woodward was next and hit a fly ball to Victorino, scoring Wright and it was 6-0 Mets.  Endy Chavez finally grounded out to end the inning.

Reyes tripled with one out in the fourth and scored when LoDuca followed with a single to make the score 7-2.  Moyer struck out Beltran and Delgado to end the inning. 

Moyer set the Mets down 1-2-3 in the fifth and again in the sixth. 

Fabio Castro replaced Moyer to start the seventh inning.  He got the first batter he faced before Beltran doubled to left.  Beltran stole third before Delgado walked and Wright delivered a sac fly to left, scoring Beltran to put the Mets up 8-2.  Castro got Green to fly to Victorino in center to end the inning.  For Castro it was the first run he has allowed with the Phillies -- he came into the game having thrown 17 1/3 scoreless innings. 

Matt Smith came in to pitch the bottom of the eighth with the Phillies down 8-3.  He gave up a one-out single to Endy Chavez but got the next two, extending his streak of scoreless innings on the season to 14.

The Phillies lineup against the unbeatable righty John Maine went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Dellucci (7) Coste (8) Nunez.  Dellucci is back in right against the righty and Coste catches Moyer this time after Lieberthal caught him in his first start.

Jimmy Rollins led off the first with a double.  Victorino followed and hit a ball to second, but the Mets got Victorino at first and Rollins was unable to advance.  Utley walked to put runners on first and second but Howard flew out to center and Burrell grounded to Reyes.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the second.  In the third they got a two-out single from Victorino but Utley popped to Wright in foul territory to end the inning. 

Trailing 6-0 in the top of the fourth, Ryan Howard led off with a single and Burrell followed with a two-run homer.  The next three Phillies went in order to end the inning. 

Jamie Moyer hit for himself with the Phillies down 7-2 to lead off the fifth.  The Phillies went 1-2-3.  They went 1-2-3 again in the sixth.

In the seventh, Coste doubled with one out.  Nunez walked and Joe Thurston, pinch hitting for Moyer, flew out to center for the second out of the inning.  Rollins grounded out to end the inning.  

In the eighth inning, Ryan Howard hit his 47th home run of the year with two outs and nobody on, making the score 8-3.  Burrell struck out to end the inning. 

Billy Wagner struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth.

Rollins was 1-for-4 on the day and 2-for-14 in the series. 

Victorino was also 1-for-4 on the day.  In the series he was 5-for-12 with a triple. 

Utley was 0-for-3 with a walk.  He was 2-for-9 with two walks in the series.  He's slugging .343 in 99 August at-bats -- he has five extra-base hits, four doubles and a home run, after slugging a stupid .755 in 106 July at-bats. 

Ryan Howard was 2-for-4 with a home run on the day.  In the series he was 4-for-10 with three home runs and eight RBI.  He homered in each game.  He's at 330/431/699 in 103 August at-bats.

Burrell was 1-for-4 with a home run, his first since August 9.  1-for-7 with three strikeouts in the series. 

Dellucci was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.  He was 0-for-6 with two strikeouts.   He was on fire early in the month but has just one extra-base hit in his last 25 at-bats. 

Coste had a terrible game behind the plate.  In addition to the trouble with the bunts in the third inning he seemed to have a lot of difficulty getting together with Moyer around pitches and location.  He was 1-for-4 with a double on the game.  2-for-7 with two doubles in the series.

Nunez was 0-for-3 with a walk.  In the series he was 0-for-11 and he's 0-for-his-last-18. 

Brett Myers faces Tony Armas tomorrow night in Washington.


August 28 2006

After letting their young players dig them an enormous hole, the Phillies are calling on the town elders to try and dig them out.  Over the last ten days the Phillies have traded for three players, two right-handed bats and a starting pitcher, to help them make their push for a Wild Card birth.  The average age of the three is forty. 

The latest of the three is Jeff Conine, who the Phillies acquired yesterday from the Orioles along with cash in exchange for a player to be named later.   

According to an article by Randy Miller in the Bucks County Courier Times, which you can read here, the cash was about $500,000 and the player to be named later may be Brian Saches, Angel Chavez or Eude Brito.  The Phillies may send Danny Sandoval back to Triple-A to make room for Conine on the roster.

Conine turned 40 in June.  In 389 at-bats with the Orioles this season the righty posted a 265/325/401 line.  As you would expect, he's been much better against lefties than righties over his career (304/376/491 against lefties and 280/338/431 against righties).  This year he's at 267/348/431 against lefties and 264/314/388 against righties.  With the Orioles this season he played mostly left field and first base.  Over his career he has appeared at third base in 67 games, but it's not likely he'll play there with the Phillies.  He last saw any significant time at third during the 2000 season.

With any luck the addition of Conine means an end to the days of Thurston and Jose Hernandez in the Phillies outfield.  Conine can platoon in right with Dellucci, starting against lefties.  Third base seems a little more complicated.  Hopefully Hernandez and Nunez go into a platoon as well, with Hernandez playing against lefties.  If Hernandez can be at all successful with the bat I think the Phillies may consider giving him a shot as their everyday third baseman before the end of the year.

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