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August 31 2007

Before this season even started, Jimmy Rollins created a stir by saying that the Phils were the team to beat in their division.  A lot of Phillies' fans and local media liked the move, liked the confidence, liked Rollins showing that kind of leadership.  I didn't.  It's not just that I disagreed that the Phils were the team to beat in the division, I found it hard to believe that Rollins believed it himself.  While I'm sure he had a lot well-deserved confidence about what he would do this year, after seven seasons with the Phillies I didn't know how he could.

One of the things that was fantastic about yesterday's win was that the Phillies didn't need it for anybody but themselves.  The fans and the media would have been more than happy with three out of four.  Jumped out to a 5-0 lead but Lohse had a tough start.  Just too bad, but they've been playing better lately.  Ahead again at 8-5, but they sure do have some holes in that bullpen.  What are you going to do?  Three out of four is solid.  It didn't happen.  Just the opposite did.  The Phils came out yesterday like they owned everything. The ball, the field, the win.  Like they believed they were the better team and if the Mets were going to do anything they were going to have to take it from them.  And if they did it was some kind of affront to the natural order.

So I'm glad that the Phillies have stopped saying that they're the team to beat.  But that doesn't matter much.  What does matter is that they've started to play like they believe it's true.

In the next few weeks we're going to see whether what happened yesterday was the high point for the Phillies this season or not.  I don't know if it is or not, but I know a couple of things for sure.  One is that the Phils aren't going 29-0 the rest of the way.  The other is that they can't play with the intensity the rest of the way that they showed in the four-game sweep of the Mets.  I just don't believe it's possible.  If you think about the Phillies you saw yesterday and the Phillies you saw a week ago they are two different teams, both of them were playing hard and one of them couldn't win.

But the Phillies are good. This group can't be kept down forever, they have too much talent and give too much effort.  It may be this year or it may not, but these guys are going to the next level.  And when they do they'll look a lot like they did yesterday.

The Phillies beat the New York Mets in dramatic fashion yesterday, winning 11-10 with two runs off of Billy Wagner in the bottom of the ninth.  With the win they improve to 71-62 on the year.  They are in second place in the NL East and trail the Mets by two games. The Snakes beat the Padres last night, so the Phils trail San Diego by two games for the Wild Card.  The Dodgers have won four games in a row and are just a game behind the Phils for the Wild Card.

Kyle Lohse got the start for the Phillies and exited early. He went 3 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks.  Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both doubles. He struck out two.

David Wright singled into center with two outs in the first and stole second with Beltran at the plate.  Beltran grounded to first to leave Wright stranded at second.

Carlos Delgado started the second with a ball off the glove of Rollins and into center for a single.  Lohse got Shawn Green and Ruben Gotay on popups and Ruiz picked Delgado off of first with Mike DeFilece at the plate to set the Mets down.

DeFilice started the third with a walk and the pitcher Orlando Hernandez bunted him to second.  Reyes moved him to third with a ground ball to third, but Endy Chavez struck out to end the frame.

Wright doubled to start he fourth but Beltran struck out behind him. Delgado was hit by a pitch, putting men on first and second for Shawn Green.  Green doubled to left, scoring Wright to cut the Phillies' lead to 5-1 and Delgado went to third.  Gotay grounded to first, Delgado scored and Green went to third.  5-2.  DeFilice drew a walk and Lastings Milledge pinch-hit for Hernandez.  Lastings singled to left, Green scored and it was 5-3 with men on first and second.  With Reyes at the plate, Geary came into the game and got Reyes on a ground ball to first.

Geary returned for the fifth and gave up a leadoff double to Chavez. Wright singled to right and Chavez went to Chavez (third).  Beltran hit a ball softly to Howard at first.  Howard missed Wright going by and then threw late to first. Beltran was safe and Chavez scored to make it 5-4.  Delgado flew to center and Wright went to third. With men on first and third and one out, Green flew to right.  Werth threw home but not quite in time to get Wright, who tagged and scored to make it 5-5.  Gotay flew to center for the third out.

Condrey started the sixth and got the first two, getting the second out on a nice leaping catch by Rowand center on a ball slugged by Jeff Conine, who had pinch-hit for Schoeneweis.  Reyes drew a two-out walk, but Chavez flew to left for the third out.

Condrey came back to throw a 1-2-3 seventh.

Romero started the eighth, pitching for the fourth-straight day.  I have no idea (okay, after I saw the guys who followed him I had some idea).  Fifth time in six days.  Romero got the lefty Green for the first out, but walked Gotay.  Alou pinch-hit for DiFelice and Manuel mercifully called on Alfonseca to pitch to Alou.  Alou walked, putting men on first and second. Marlon Anderson pinch-hit for Pedro Feliciano and lined a double into right field. Gotay scored and Alou went to third with the score 8-6.  Reyes, who was 1-for-15 in the series, was walked intentionally to load the bases.  Hate that play even if it works.  In addition to putting the go-ahead run on base it also means a walk forces in a run, and Alfonseca can walk a fella or two.  Chavez singled into center.  Alou and Anderson scored to tie the game at 8-8 as Reyes went to second.  With Wright at the plate, Reyes took off for third and Chavez for second.  Ruiz had no chance to get Reyes at third but threw anyway and Nunez didn't handle the throw.  Reyes scored to make it 9-8 and Ruiz was charged with the error.  Wright walked to put men on first and second for Beltran.  Mesa relieved Alfonseca and walked Beltran to load the bases.  Delgado was next and hit a slow chopper to short, Rollins got Delgado at first for the second out, but Chavez scored to make it 10-8.  Green flew to right to finally end the frame.

Gordon came in to pitch the ninth with the Phils down 10-9. 1-2-3.

Gordon's inning is mostly forgotten with so many heroes yesterday, but it was big.

If you want to worry about something I'd go with Lohse, who was hit pretty hard. He's been really good with the Phils, but he was also knocked around in the first inning of his debut against the Cubs. If Lohse getting hit hard was a surprise, it was less of a shock that Alfonseca was a disaster.  He hasn't gotten an out in his last two appearances, but his numbers aren't quite as bad as he's seemed on the field -- he's been charged with runs in just two of his last 13 times out.  On the other hand, he's thrown to a 9.00 ERA this month, so his numbers aren't great, either.  He's gotten more than one out in a game just once in his last seven times out.

Of the seven guys in the Phillies' pen, four (Geary, Condrey, Mesa and Gordon) have an ERA over five with the Phils this season.  Alfonseca's is now up to 4.87.

It's also too much Romero.   The reward for pitching well out of the pen can't be that you get overused.  The Phils need a solution out there and I don't know what it is.

The Phillies' lineup against righty Orlando Hernandez went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Burrell (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Dobbs (7) Werth (8) Ruiz.  Utley returns to the lineup after the night off against the lefty Perez.  Werth stays in right, even against the righty, with Dobbs at third.  Ruiz catches the day game after getting the start in the night game the night before.

Rollins started the first with a double to right.  Utley was next and he flew to right for the first out and Burrell fouled out to the catcher for the second.  Howard followed with a home run to center that scored Rollins and put the Phils up 2-0. Rowand popped to short to end the inning.

Werth singled with one out in the second, but Ruiz and Lohse went down behind him.

Utley singled with one out in the third and Burrell followed with a home run to left that made the score 4-0.  Howard struck out before Rowand made it 5-0 with another homer to left. Dobbs walked, but Werth struck out to end the inning.

With two outs in the fourth, Rollins singled and Utley followed with a walk, but Burrell grounded to short for the third out.

Howard led off the fifth with a single with the game tied at 5-5.  Rowand followed with a ground ball to third, Howard was forced at second with Rowand safe at first. Dobbs flew to center for the second out, but Werth walked to put men on first and second with two down.  Ruiz singled off the top of Gotay's glove and Rowand scored to make it 6-5.  Werth went to third. Victorino hit for Geary and he singled to center. Werth scored and Ruiz went to third with the score 7-5. Rollins singled to center. Ruiz scored and Victorino went to third. 8-5.  Utley struck out to end the inning.

Howard singled with one out in the sixth, but Rowand flew to right and Dobbs struck out to end the inning.

Ruiz tripled with one out in the seventh and Nunez hit for Condrey.  Nunez grounded to third and Ruiz had to hold. Rollins popped to second for the third out.  No run for the Phils after they put a runner on third with one out.

Wagner came in to pitch the eighth and struck out Utley for the first out. Burrell homered to left to make it 10-9.  Howard struck out and Rowand drew a walk.  Helms hit for Mesa, who had been switched out so Nunez could play third, and flew to right for the third out. Whether it worked or not I thought it was a good move by Randolph to bring his closer in to pitch the eighth against a) the Phillies' best hitters and b) the Phillies left-handed hitters in Utley and Howard.

Wagner came back for the ninth and Werth led off with a single.  Ruiz bunted the first pitch foul but then swung away and flew to center. Iguchi hit for Nunez and Werth stole second without a throw on the pitch that put Iguchi behind in the count 0-2.  Dobbs, Helms and Nunez were out of the game, which meant it was probably Iguchi at third. Werth stole third without a throw and the infield came in. Iguchi singled to left, Werth scored and it was 10-10. With Rollins at the plate, Iguchi stole second. Rollins was walked intentionally to put men on first and second for Utley with one out. Utley singled to right, Iguchi scored and it was over.

The stolen bases by Werth were huge and nearly conceded by Wagner.  It turned a single into a man on third with one out.

I think the Phils were in some trouble if the came went to extra-innings, cause I think Iguchi would have some problems at third if he had to go out there.  We'll have to wait and see if he ever gets any time there.  Coste was still available and has played third in the minors. Would have been interesting.

Rollins was 3-for-5 with a double and a walk. 9-for-19 with a double and two home runs in the series. 293/343/525 on the year.

Utley was 2-for-5 and won the game with a single in the ninth. 6-for-15 with a double and a home run in the series, coming off not playing in month. 338/415/585 on the year. .585?

Burrell was 2-for-5 with two home runs yesterday. 5-for-15 with four home runs and seven RBI in the series. 270/409/515.

Howard was 3-for-5 with his 36th homer and two RBI. 9-for-18 with two doubles and two home runs in the series. 274/391/580.

Rowand was 1-for-4 with a home run and a walk. 3-for-16 in the series.  310/379/515.

Dobbs was 0-for-3 with a walk. 2-for-6 with an RBI in the series.  279/325/466.  The Phils need him on base more if he's going to play third every day against righties.  Helms was 0-for-1 yesterday and 2-for-5 in the series.  249/299/372, just a miserable year for Helms.  Nunez was 0-for-1 yesterday and 0-for-6 in the series. He couldn't handle Ruiz's throw yesterday, costing Ruiz an error, but Nunez was fantastic defensively in the series.

Werth was 2-for-4 with a walk and two stolen bases that changed the game. He also made a great catch in right. 315/411/476 on the year and 398/490/602 in 83 at-bats in August. Victorino was 1-for-1 with a big hit yesterday.  3-for-3 in the series and his speed changed the game where the Phils scored on the Rowand dribbler.  288/355/433.

Ruiz was 2-for-5 with a triple and an RBI. 2-for-7 in the series. 260/331/402. Coste was 1-for-9 with a double in the series and is hitting 313/340/465 on the year.

Iguchi was 1-for-1 with a huge single yesterday and 3-for-6 with a home run and a walk in the series.  311/368/454. 

Kyle Kendrick (7-3, 3.89) faces righty Sergio Mitre (5-7, 4.30) tonight in Florida as the Phils start a three-game set with the Marlins. Kendrick was great his last time out, holding the Padres to a run over six innings on Sunday. The 23-year-old has thrown way too many innings this season, but he keeps plugging away. Lefties still hit him hard (.325 compared to .225 for righties). He's made one start against the Marlins this season, on August 9 he allowed just two runs over seven innings but took the loss. Josh Willingham homered off of him in that game. Mitre started the year strong but has thrown to a 6.09 ERA over his last 11 starts and has been charged with at least five runs each of his last three times out. An extreme ground ball pitcher, Mitre doesn't allow many home runs, just nine in 140 1/3 innings this season. In two starts against the Phils this season he's 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA. He started against them on April 6 and August 9. In the April 6 start he allowed five runs, only one of which was earned.

Freddy Garcia's season is over after shoulder surgery.

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