-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


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September 4 2006


HOU 67-70 624 4.55 254 332 406 68 29
PHI 69-68 733 5.35 267 344 446 81 21
HOU 1241.1 619 4.52 1234 392 979 4.22 1.31
PHI 1231.2 712 5.20 1339 438 947 4.77 1.44

Chase Utley had apparently seen enough of Ryan Howard highlights, so he made one of his own.  He came up huge with two outs in the bottom of the tenth today, launching a ball way out to give the Phillies a win against a team that had beaten them 12 times in a row.  Against the team that broke the hearts of Phillies fans about this time last year.  There may still be heartbreak ahead for the Phillies this season, but they finally got one against the Houston Astros.

And they needed it.  Phillies fans can't ask for more than what the team is giving them in terms of effort these days, the Phillies have played five games in three days with about as much intensity as you will see in a regular season game.  But they just keep coming up short in tight games they can't afford to lose. 

Overshadowed by what Ryan Howard has done of late has been the excellence of the Phillies starting pitching.  Excluding the start by Mathieson in which he threw just six pitches before leaving with an injury, Phillies starters went 21 1/3 innings in the four games with the Braves, allowing six runs on 17 hits and four walks (2.31 ERA).  The Phillies lost two of those three games.  Coming into today's game, Phillies starters have allowed three or fewer earned runs in seven straight games.  After today you can make it eight.

The Phillies beat the Houston Astros today, winning 3-2 in ten innings to improve to 70-68 on the season. 

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and was awesome.  He went eight innings, allowing two runs on three hits.  He struck out eight and didn't walk a batter.  Two of the three hits he allowed went for extra-bases.  Both were solo home runs.

Hamels was perfect through five innings.  Jason Lane looked like he lead off the fifth with a walk on a 3-2 pitch, but was called out by home plate umpire Joe West.

With two outs and nobody on in the sixth inning, someone named Charlton Jimerson crushed a ball way out to center field in his first major league at-bat.  Jimerson is a good defensive outfielder with some power who hit 247/287/445 (really!) in 470 at-bats at Triple-A this year.  He will turn 27 this month.  Hamels got Biggo to pop to Nunez and end the inning with the score tied at 1-1.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 seventh.  Aubrey Huff led off the eighth with a home run that tied the game at 2-2.  Eric Bruntlett followed with a single and Adam Everett bunted him to second, but Hamels got Ausmus and Ensberg to end the inning.

Madson started the ninth for the Phillies and got leadoff man Craig Biggo before Chris Burke singled to center.  After seeing Fabio Castro in a big situation in the first game yesterday (didn't go so well), Manuel called on lefty Matt Smith to pitch to none other than Lance Berkman.  Welcome back, Matt, time to call on those 14 innings of major-league experience and punch out one of the five best hitters in the National League.  Smith was awesome.  He picked Burke off of first, but Howard's throw to second was bad, on the third base side of the bag, and the Phillies couldn't get him.  It would have been a really nice time to have gotten an out.  Smith got Berkman to hit a ground ball to short, which would have been an inning-ending double-play, for the second out of the inning as Burke went to third with two outs.  Smith struck out Lamb to end the inning.  Who needs Bobby Abreu?

Rick White had his second straight good appearance in the top of the tenth.  Huff led off with a double and pinch-runner Willy Taveras was bunted to third for the first out.  White came up huge next, striking out Everett for the second out of the inning and getting Orlando Palmeiro to ground to first and end the inning. 

The Phillies lineup against righty Roger Clemens went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Conine (7) Coste (8) Nunez.  Conine starts for Dellucci in right again.  Dellucci came into the game 1-for-his-last-24.

After Clemens set down the first eight, Hamels singled to left with two outs in the third for the first Phillies hit.  Rollins struck out end the inning. 

In the fourth the Phillies loaded the bases with nobody out when Victorino walked, Utley was hit by a pitch and Howard walked.  Burrell struck out for the first out of the inning.  Conine was next and was hit by a pitch as well, forcing in Victorino from third and giving the Phillies a 1-0 lead with the bases still loaded and just one out.  Coste was next and he grounded into a double-play to end the inning.

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

The Astros tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the sixth.  In the bottom of the inning, Victorino and Utley went down before Howard clobbered a ball way out to right for his 53rd home run of the year.  It put the Phillies up 2-1.  Burrell grounded out to end the inning.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the seventh.  In the eighth, Rollins singled with one out.  Victorino was next and he scalded a ball down the third-base line.  Ensberg was guarding the line and caught the line drive for the out.  Rollins stole second, but Utley struck out to end the inning.

The Phillies went into the bottom of the ninth with the score tied at 2-2.  Ryan Howard led off the inning and the Astros walked him intentionally.  Unbelievable.  Poor idea but they got away with it.  Burrell was next and against the righty Chad Qualls, Manuel pinch hit for him with lefty Joe Thurston.  I hate that play.  What if it works?  Is Howard going to score from second on a single?  Maybe.  He didn't score from first on the double that came later in this inning.  Other teams are going to pitch around Howard until the Phillies can show the guys hitting behind him can get the job done.  Late in the game these days most of the time the guy hitting behind Ryan Howard is Chris Roberson, and if other teams think he can't get the job done after 36 at-bats in the majors I agree with them.  I was thrilled to see Burrell stay in the game tonight long enough to have a chance in the ninth inning after we saw Roberson strike out in a 1-1 game in his slot yesterday.  And when it's his turn to hit you pinch-hit for him with a guy with 15 career hits?  Are we on Candid Camera?  Burrell was second in the league in RBI last year.  He was seventh in the voting for league MVP.  He came into today's game on-basing .385 and slugging .503.  It's a terrible play even if it works.  It didn't.  Thurston got down 0-2 and popped a bunt up to third with Howard staying at first with one out.  Conine was next and doubled, sending Howard to third.  The Astros walked Chris Coste to load the bases with one down, and Dellucci pinch hit for Nunez.  He struck out for the second out of the inning.  Jose Hernandez pinch-hit for Matt Smith, and he popped to first to end the inning. 

In the tenth, Rollins led off the inning and flew to left on a great sliding catch by Burke.  Victorino flew to right for the second out, but Utley was next and he crushed the ball way out to the upper-deck in right.

Rollins was 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.  He's 5-for-his-last-20.

Victorino was 0-for-4 with a walk.  His offensive numbers for the season are looking very respectable at 296/356/439.

Utley was 1-for-4 and won the game with his 25th home run of the year.  He's 1-for-his-last-12.

Howard was 1-for-2 with a home run and two walks.  After hitting a nearly incomprehensible 348/464/750 in August, he's at 588/696/1.353 after 17 at-bats in September in which he's gone 10-for-17 with a double and four homers.

Burrell had a terrible game.  He was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, one of which came with the bases loaded and nobody out in a 0-0 game in the fourth.  The Phillies hurt their chances of winning by pinch-hitting for him today.  Charlie Manuel gets a lot of criticism he doesn't deserve, but he made a bad decision today and he's going to get away with it because Utley and Rick White bailed him out.

Conine was 1-for-3 with a big double and an RBI on the hit by pitch.  He's 1-for-his-last-12.  Dellucci's struggles continue with the terrible at-bat with the bases loaded and out out and the game on the line.

Coste was 0-for-3 with a walk.  He's 3-for-his-last-16 with three singles.

Nunez was 0-for-3.  3-for-his-last-17 with three singles. 

Randy Wolf faces lefty Andy Pettitte tomorrow night.

September 4 2006

The Phillies continue to fight for every inch but go into battle with a pen that can't get the job done.  After a split in yesterday's double-header with the Braves, their second in two days, the Phillies find themselves at 69-68 and 1 1/2 games off of the Wild Card pace.

Ryan Howard had another magical performance in the first game yesterday, going 4-for-4 with three home runs.  His amazing individual achievements this year threaten to eclipse anything the team has done or will do.

The Phillies got some more help in their bullpen yesterday, activating Tom Gordon and calling righties Clay Condrey and Brian Sanches back up to the team.  Gordon was unavailable to pitch yesterday after pitching on Saturday. 

The Phillies won the first game 8-7.

Jamie Moyer started the first game for the Phillies and pitched well.  He went 7 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks.  He had a problem with the long ball in his home debut for the Phillies.  After not allowing a home run in his first two start he gave up two, the only two extra-base hits he allowed.

Moyer allowed a solo home run to Renteria in the first.  He settled in after that, getting double-plays in the second and third to help keep the Braves off the board.

Moyer allowed just a walk in the fourth and threw a 1-2-3 fifth and followed that up with a 1-2-3 sixth and another 1-2-3 inning in the seventh.

He started the eighth with a 6-1 lead.  Matt Diaz led off with a single and Todd Pratt followed with a two-run home run that cut the Phillies lead to 6-3.  Moyer got pinch-hitter Brayan Pena, but when he allowed a single to Martin Prado, Manuel called on Ryan Madson.  Madson got Renteria to ground into an inning-ending double-play.

Madson started the ninth with a 6-3 lead and gave up three straight singles to load the bases.  With the lefty Adam LaRoche at the plate, Fabio Castro finally got a chance in a big situation as he came on to pitch in a tight spot with Fultz unavailable with shoulder soreness.  He got LaRoche to ground to first for the first out of the inning, with the runner scoring from third to cut the lead to 6-4.  Manuel left Castro in to pitch to the righty Diaz, who hit a three-run home run to put the Braves up 7-6.  Castro walked Pratt and that was it for him, Manuel called on Geoff Geary who got the next two to end the inning.

The Phillies lineup against righty Tim Hudson went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Conine (6) Dellucci (7) Coste (8) Nunez.  Conine was in right and Dellucci in left with Burrell on the bench.

Ryan Howard led off the second with a solo home run that tied the game at 1-1.

The Phillies put up four in the third to go up 5-1.  Nunez led off with a walk and came around to score on a triple by Rollins.  Victorino singled Rollins in and came around to score when Howard hit his second home run of the day, a two-run shot.

Howard led off the sixth with his third home run of the day, which put the Phillies up 6-1.

The pen put the Phillies in a 7-6 hole headed into the bottom of the ninth.  Coste singled and Nunez bunted pinch-runner Thurston to second.  Randall Simon drew a walk and Jimmy Rollins hit an RBI-single that tied the game at 7-7 with the runners going to second and third on the throw.  With the infield in with just one out, Victorino singled to right to give the Phillies an 8-7 win. 

Rollins was 2-for-4 with a triple, a walk and two-RBI.

Victorino's single won the game.  He was 2-for-5 with two RBI.

Utley was 0-for-4.

Howard hit three home runs, giving him 52 on the year to go with his 133 RBI.  4-for-4 with four-RBI.

Conine 0-for-4.  Dellucci 0-for-3.

Coste was 2-for-4 with two singles.

Nunez was 0-for-2 with a walk.

The Phillies lost the second game 3-1 in eleven innings.

Brett Myers got the start and was excellent.  He went eight innings, allowing just one run on three hits and two walks while striking out ten.  All three hits he allowed went for singles.

Myers allowed his only run in the third.  He walked Langerhans with one out.  Langerhans was bunted to second and scored on a two-out single by Pete Orr.

Rick White came on in the ninth in a 1-1 game and was tremendous.  He went two innings, retiring all six men he faced.

Geary pitched the eleventh and wound up the loser.  Scott Thorman led off with a double, the only extra-base hit of the day for the Braves.  Pete Orr was next and bunted.  Ruiz tried to get the runner at third, but threw the ball into left, allowing the run to score and put Atlanta up 2-1 with Orr going to second.  Orr would go to third on a ground out and score the run that put the Braves up 3-1 on a wild pitch from Geary. 

The Phillies lineup against righty Lance Cormier went  (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Conine (7) Lieberthal (8) Hernandez.  Conine starts again instead of the struggling Dellucci against the righty and Hernandez plays third for Nunez.

The Phillies scored their run in the fourth.  Utley walked and went to third on Howard's single, then scored on a sac fly from Burrell.

Rollins was 1-for-3 with two walks.

Victorino 1-for-5.

Utley 0-for-4 with a walk.

Howard 2-for-4 with a walk.

Burrell was 0-for-1 with a walk and an RBI.

Conine was 0-for-5. 

Lieberthal was 1-for-1 and left the game with back spasms in the second inning.

Hernandez 0-for-3.

Cole Hamels faces Roger Clemens this afternoon.

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