-Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero

-Pro Football Prospectus 2006

-Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game

-Break Point!: An Insider's Look at the Pro Tennis Circuit

-Phil Gordon's Little Green Book: Lessons and Teachings in No Limit Texas Hold'em

-How I Play Golf (Tiger Woods)

-The Last Season



September 2 2006

You kind of get the feeling the Phillies didn't feel real comfortable leaving this one in the hands of the bullpen.  After losing two straight heartbreakers the Phillies came back strong tonight against the Braves, getting a blowout win on a night when their starting pitcher threw just six pitches.

The last two games have been devastating to the Phillies, but in both games you just saw them get beat.  We haven't seen this team quit in a long, long time.  The offense exploded tonight, but the pen did their job as well after being called on to throw nine innings.

The Phillies pounded Atlanta tonight, winning 16-4 to improve to 68-67 on the year.

Scott Mathieson got the start for the Phillies and didn't record an out.  His bizarre line has him charged with one run on no outs with a strikeout. 

In the first Braves leadoff man Pete Orr struck out on a wild pitch and was safe at first.  Mathieson threw one pitch to Renteria, a ball, and called for the trainer.  He was removed from the game.  His injury is being called a strained right elbow and he will have an MRI tomorrow.  Orr went to second on a wild pitch by Brito and then to third on a bunt by Renteria.  Chipper followed with a two-run homer to give the Braves an early 2-0 lead.  Brito got the next two men he faced to end the inning.

Brito threw a 1-2-3 second and was strong again in the third.  He gave up a two-out walk to Renteria but got Chipper to pop to Utley to end the inning.

Andruw Jones led off the fourth with a double and McCann followed with a single to score him and cut the Phillies lead to 7-3.  Francoeur followed with a single that sent McCann to second, but Brito got the next two to make it first and second with two down.  Pinch-hitter Willy Aybar walked to load the bases, but another pinch-hitter, Martin Prado, popped to first to get Brito out of the inning. 

Geoff Geary came in to pitch the fifth and set the Braves down 1-2-3.  He returned to pitch the sixth, allowing a two out single to Adam LaRoche but getting Matt Diaz to ground to Rollins to end the inning.

Castro entered in the seventh with a 16-3 lead.  He threw a 1-2-3 seventh and followed it up with a 1-2-3 eighth.  With the Phillies, Castro has now appeared in 12 games, throwing to an 0.44 ERA while allowing six hits in 20 1/3 innings.

Brito is the hero of the day in his first appearance of the year for the Phillies that wasn't bad.  Geary is hero-1A, his two scoreless innings drops his ERA to 3.04 on the year.

Rick White had a terrible ninth.  Three straight singles loaded the bases for the Braves before a Scott Thorman ground ball to short got the Phillies the first out of the inning as a run scored to cut the lead to 16-4.  White got out of the inning when Prado grounded into a double-play.  In his last two games White has allowed four runs on five hits while getting just three outs. 

The Phillies lineup against righty Kyle Davies went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Conine (7) Lieberthal (8) Hernandez.  In the second game of a double-header, Conine starts in right for the struggling and banged up Dellucci.  Jose Hernandez gets his first start, playing at third for Nunez.  The Phillies would be a better offensive team if they made Hernandez their everyday third baseman for the rest of the year.

Howard doubled in Victorino in the first to cut the Braves lead to 2-1.  With runners on first and third, Conine grounded out to second to end the inning.

The Phils got three in the second.  Rollins doubled in Lieberthal for the first run.  Victorino followed with an RBI-single.  Utley walked on a wild pitch and Rollins was able to score to put the Phillies up 4-2.  With one out and runners on first and second, Howard and Burrell struck out to end the inning.

Lieberthal hit a two-run home run in the third, putting the Phils up 6-2.  Jose Hernandez followed with a double and came around to score on a sac fly by Rollins.

The Phillies put up four in the bottom of the fourth on four singles, two sacrifice flies and an error from Chipper Jones.  Randall Simon had an RBI-single, making him 2-for-2 in his first day with the Phillies.

The Phillies got three more in the fifth to extend their lead to 14-3.  Utley led off the inning with a double and scored on an RBI-single by Conine.  Jose Hernandez hit a two-run single with the bases loaded.  With one out and a 14-3 lead, Geary hit for himself with one out and struck out before Rollins grounded to second to end the inning.  It would have been nice to get out of the game without having to throw Geary two innings -- he's thrown well and a lot this year.  I can't imagine he has much left.

Conine and Lieberthal had RBI-singles in the sixth to put the Phillies up 16-3.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the seventh.  Joe Thurston led off the eighth with a single but was stranded when Roberson, Ruiz and Conine went in order.

Rollins was 1-for-3 with a double and three RBI.

Victorino was 2-for-6 with two RBI.  He's got to be getting tired.  How 'bout some Roberson in center sometime soon?  Tonight seems like it would have been a good time.

Utley 2-for-4 with a double and a walk.

Howard was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.

Burrell was 1-for-3 with two walks and scored three runs.

Conine was 3-for-5 with three singles and two RBI.

Lieberthal was huge today.  3-for-3 with his seventh home run and four RBI. 

Hernandez was 4-for-5 with a double and two RBI.

Chris Coste appeared at first base for the first time, coming in defensively in the seventh inning.

The Phillies will play another double-header tomorrow.  Brett Myers and Jamie Moyer will go for the Phillies.  It looks like Hudson may pitch against Moyer in the first game with Lance Cormier facing Myers in the second.

September 2 2006

The pen blew its third save in its last three innings as the Phils fell in the first game of a double-header this afternoon, losing 4-3 to the Atlanta Braves.  The loss drops the Phillies to 67-67 on the year. 

The pen has imploded in the last two games and right now it's the difference between the Phillies being 69-66 and where they are right now, which is at .500.  Arthur Rhodes got blown up again, he's been the primary culprit in the last two losses, and the Phillies continued to demonstrate their need for a return of a healthy Tom Gordon in the worst of ways.

Jon Lieber got the start for the Phillies and pitched very well.  He went eight innings, allowing two runs on eight hits.  Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a triple.

Lieber threw a 1-2-3 first and got the first two men in the second before Francoeur tripled to right.  Adam LaRoche was next and Lieber got him to ground to short to end the inning. 

Ryan Langerhans led off the third with a ground ball to second that went through Utley's legs for an error.  Villarreal bunted Langerhans to second.  Pete Orr was next and hit a ground ball to short.  Langerhans drifted off of second and the Phillies got him in a long rundown that let Orr go to second with two outs.  Lieber got Renteria to end the inning.

Lieber struck out both Andruw and Chipper Jones in a 1-2-3 fourth.

LaRoche singled with one out in the fifth, but Lieber got Langerhans and Villarreal to end the inning. 

Lieber kept the Braves off the board in the sixth, allowing a one-out single to Renteria.  He went into the seventh with a 3-0 lead and got the first two men before giving up a single to LaRoche and a double to Langerhans, which put runners on second and third with two outs.  Darlye Ward was the pinch hitter, and he singled to center, bringing in both runners to make the score 3-2 Phils.  Lieber struck out Pete Orr to end the inning.

Lieber started the eighth inning with Fabio Castro, who must have been struck with shell-shock at the prospect of entering a tight game, warming in the pen.  Lieber got the first out of the inning, but Chipper and Andruw Jones each singled, putting runners on first and second for Brian McCann.   Manuel didn't go to Castro, leaving Lieber in to face McCann.  McCann hit a line drive to center, which Victorino made a diving catch on and easily doubled Chipper off of second.

Ryan Madson came on in the ninth for the Phillies for a pen that had blown two saves in the last two innings it had pitched.  Jeff Francoeur was the batter and he hit a ground ball to the right of Rollins.  Jimmy ranged towards third to field the ball deep in the hole, but his throw wasn't close and Francoeur was safe with a single.  With LaRoche due up, Manuel called on lefty Arthur Rhodes.  LaRoche hit a two-run home run that was way out to right and put the Braves up 4-3.  Rhodes stayed in the game and retired the next two Braves to end the inning.   

The Phillies lineup against righty Oscar Villarreal went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Dellucci (7) Coste (8) Nunez.  Nothing new here except Burrell goes back to hitting fifth and Dellucci sixth since the Braves can call on a lefty out of their pen.

With one out in the first Victorino was safe with a single on a ground ball back to the pitcher.  Utley followed with a two-run homer, putting the Phillies up 2-0.  Howard walked and Burrell followed with a single that sent Howard to second, but Dellucci and Coste both flew out to left to end the inning. 

In the second, Lieber singled with one out but Rollins followed and flew to center for the second out of the inning.  Victorino was next and singled to right, sending Lieber to second with two outs, but Utley struck out to end the inning.

Howard singled to lead off the third but Burrell followed and grounded into a double-play.  Dellucci grounded out to end the inning. 

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the fourth.

Utley hit his second home run of the day with two outs in the fifth, putting the Phillies ahead 3-0.

Dellucci drew a one-out walk in the sixth and went to second on a balk.  Coste struck out and the Braves walked Nunez intentionally.  Lieber stayed in the game and struck out to end the inning. 

Victorino hit a one-out double in the seventh and went to third on a ground out by Utley.  Howard and Burrell both walked and Roberson ran for Burrell at first with two outs and the bases loaded.  I hate that play.  We need to lose Burrell's bat so that Roberson can score the run that's going to put us up 6-2 and play two innings of defense?  It's a little better now that Conine is around, but Burrell is a much better hitter than Conine.  Dellucci grounded out to second to end the inning.

In the bottom of the eighth, Nunez singled with one out.  Randall Simon followed, making his Phillies debut, and singled to left, sending Nunez to second.  Rollins struck out for the second out of the inning and Victorino was next.  He hit a slow ground ball to first and beat the pitcher Yates to the bag for a single to load the bases for Utley with two down.  Utley stuck out to end the inning. 

In the ninth, Wickman struck out Howard to lead off the inning.  Roberson was next, but Manuel called on Jeff Conine to pinch hit.  Conine hit it hard to left, but Langerhans made the play on the edge of the warning track.  Dellucci struck out to end the game.

Rollins was 0-for-5 with a strikeout. 

Victorino was 4-for-5 with a double.

Utley was 2-for-5 with two home runs, driving in all three Phillies runs.

Howard was 1-for-3 with two walks. 

Burrell was 1-for-3 with a walk and out of the game in the bottom of the ninth when his spot came up in a one-run game.

Dellucci was 0-for-4 and left five men on base.

Coste was 0-for-4.  Nunez was 1-for-3 with a walk. 

Scott Mathieson faces Kyle Davies tonight in the second game of the double-header.  I still would go with Moyer here.  There's a chance you would still have to pitch Mathieson if there's a double-header tomorrow, but I'd wait and see.   The Phillies, apparently, wouldn't.

September 2 2006

The Phillies have added yet another bat to their bench, acquiring Randall Simon from the Texas Rangers in exchange for cash.  The left-handed Simon last appeared in the majors in 2004 and is a poor defensive first-baseman.  As a left-handed bat off the bench, however, he's a significant upgrade over Joe Thurston.

Simon turned 31-years-old in May and has appeared in 514 games in his career, posting a 283/320/424 line in 1,588 at-bats.  His best year was 2002 with Detroit in which he hit 19 home runs and drove in 82 while posting a 301/320/459 line.  He makes good contact -- in 2002 with Detroit he struck out just 30 times in 482 at-bats.  With the Rangers this season he was with Triple-A Oklahoma in the PCL, hitting 317/389/444 in 63 at-bats.  The Rangers picked him up last month after he hit .348 with 18 home runs and 69 RBI in 63 games in the Mexican League. 

On July 9, 2003, while with the Pirates, Simon caused a stir at Miller Park in Milwaukee when he leaned out and lightly struck Sausage Race participant Mandy Block with a bat.  Simon would later explain that he thought the race participants were trying to interact with the players and he swung the bat lightly and in fun.  Block suffered a scraped knee.  People flipped out and Simon, who was handcuffed and taken to jail, handled the incident with tremendous class.

Simon has playoff experience.  In 2003 with the Cubs he played in ten playoff games for the Cubs, going 8-for-24 with a home run and three doubles.  He would not be eligible for the Phillies playoff roster.

In other news, last night's rainout gives the Phillies a chance to skip Mathieson in the rotation.  In appears they will not do so, throwing Lieber and Mathieson in today's soggy double-header and Moyer tomorrow.  That seems like a mistake to me with the Phillies in a playoff race and 1-6 in Mathieson's starts this season. 

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