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September 18 2007


Team W-L R R/G NL Rank R OPS (NL Rank) SB CS
STL 70-78 658 4.45 13 742 (9) 48 27
PHI 80-69 820 5.50 1 814 (1) 127 18

Team W-L RA RA/G NL Rank RA Starter ERA Pen ERA
STL 70-78 743 5.02 11 5.18 (15) 3.73 (4)
PHI 80-69 768 5.15 14 4.99 (13) 4.59  (13)

The part of the season when the Phillies could have significantly improved their bullpen is over.  Larry Bird ain't walking through that door.  Robert Parrish ain't walking through that door.  And if they do they're going to be gray and old.  And basketball players.  The Phillies' bullpen is what it is.  And it's not good.

What is good are the Phillies' hitters.  They bailed the pen out last night and there's no doubt they'll have to do it again.  Last night the hitters battered the ball around the yard and the Phils took an 11-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth.  The pen gave it nearly all back.  Not quite all of it, though.  The Phils held on for a 13-11 win.

The performance of the Phillies' bullpen last night was one of the most amazing things you've seen this year if you've followed the team all season.  It was somehow both hard to believe and exactly what was expected at the same time.  The big news, though, is that the Phils won.  On a night when their bullpen allowed eight runs in three innings, they still figured out a way to get it done and keep themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt.

The Phillies beat the St Louis Cardinals last night, winning 13-11 to improve to 81-69 on the season.  The Phils are 12 games over .500 for the first time this year after winning five in a row.  They are 2 1/2 games behind the Mets in the NL East.  In the Wild Card hunt they trail the Padres by 1 1/2 games.  The Padres are just one game behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West.

Kyle Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits.  Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run.  He walked one and struck out one. 

He got three ground balls in a 1-2-3 first.

Rick Ankiel reached on an infield single with one out in the second, but Scott Spiezio followed and hit into a double-play to end the inning.

Kendrick threw a 1-2-3 third.

Aaron Miles started the fourth with a ball that hit went off of Kendrick's leg for a single.  Miles stole second before Skip Schumaker grounded back to Kendrick for the second out.  Miles held second.  Albert Pujols flew to center and Miles went to third.  Kendrick walked the Edmonds to put men on first and third, but got Ankiel to pop to third to end the inning.

Two hits for the Cards through four innings, both infield singles.

Kelly Stinnett singled with one out in the fifth.  Brian Barden pinch-hit for Randy Flores and sent Stinnett to second with a single.  Brendan Ryan followed and hit into a double-play to end the inning.

Schumaker doubled with one out in the sixth and scored when Pujols followed with a single that cut the lead to 11-1.  Ryan Ludwick followed with a two-run homer to left.  11-3.  Kendrick got the next two to end the inning.

Condrey started the seventh up 12-3.  Stinnett singled and Barden hit a ball to short that Rollins didn't handle for an error.  First and second with nobody out.  Russell Branyan hit for Tyler Johnson and loaded the bases with a single.  Miles singled to center and two runs scored.  12-5 with first and third and nobody out.  Schumaker singled to load the bases.  Mesa came in to pitch to Pujols and Pujols doubled.  Two runs scored and it was 12-7 with men on second and third and nobody out.  Ludwick grounded to second and Schumaker scored.  12-8.  Ankiel flew to center and and Pujols scored.  12-9.  Spiezio grounded to first to end the inning.

Condrey charged with five runs without getting an out.  He threw ten pitches in the game.

Alfonseca started the eighth and gave up a one out single to Barden.  Branyan walked to put men on first and second and Davis came in to pitch to the switch-hitter Miles.  Miles flew to right for the second out and Barden went to third.  With Schumaker at the plate, Barden scored on a passed ball to make it 12-10.  Branyan went to second.  Davis walked Pujols, bringing the go-ahead run to the plate.  Ludwick hit a ball to the warning track in center, Rowand stumbled and fell to the ground as he made the catch but held on.

Castro started the ninth with the Phillies up 13-11.  He struck out the lefty Ankiel and Rosario came in to pitch to the righty So Taguchi.  Rosario walked Taguchi and Miguel Cairo pinch-hit for Stinnett and singled to left.  With men on first and second and one out, Barden popped to Howard at first for the second out.  It brought up lefty Russell Branyan.  Rosario got ahead of him 0-2, didn't get the call on a close 2-2 pitch and caught him looking at a 3-2 fastball at the knees to end the game.

If you're looking for a bright spot I think it's this:  Pitching in a spot they never should have been in, Francisco Rosario and 22-year-old Fabio Castro came up huge.  Those guys just don't belong in a game trying to nail down the save with a two-run lead in a pennant race.  Rosario doesn't belong pitching to a lefty as the winning run with the game on the line.

The bullpen is still a big mess for the Phils.  It would be great if Hamels could go deep into the game tonight, but that's probably just isn't going to happen after a month of not pitching.  My guess would be that Durbin may have to go a couple of innings tonight after an early exit by Hamels.  On the other hand, if you liked watching the relievers you saw last night, only David threw more than 15 pitches in last night's game (he threw 18).  I'd love to see the Phils be able to give Romero and Myers another day of rest, but unless the Phils lost big tonight I don't think that's likely to happen. 

Gordon's back still doesn't sound great to me. 

The Phillies' lineup against righty Brad Thompson went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Burrell (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Dobbs (7) Werth (8) Ruiz.  Dobbs plays third against the righty.  Ruiz catches.  No sign of Victorino as Werth plays right against the righty.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the first.

Howard started the second with a home run to left that put the Phils up 1-0.  Rowand followed with a single but Dobbs grounded into a double-play.  Werth grounded to second for the third out.

Rollins walked with two outs in the third and was off running on the pitch that Utley drove into right-center.  Rollins would have scored easily, but Utley's ball bounced once and cleared the fence.  Rollins had to hold third and it cost the Phils a run.  Burrell popped to first to end the frame. 

Howard walked to start the fourth and Rowand followed with a long home run to center.  3-0.  Dobbs struck out for the first out before Werth walked.  Righty Andy Cavasos relieved Thompson.  Ruiz hit a shot to short and Brendan Ryan couldn't handle it.  Werth went to third and Ruiz was safe at first on the error.  Kendrick bunted Ruiz to second for the second out.  Rollins was next and he hit a bomb to right center.  6-0.  Utley smashed the ball to center, but Edmonds made a nice play while running into the wall to set the Phillies down.

Burrell started the fifth with a walk.  Howard flew out and Rowand struck out before Dobbs moved Burrell to second with a single.  Werth was next and he singled up the middle.  Edmonds threw home but Pujols cut the throw off and threw to third.  Dobbs was in between second and third.  Burrell scored before Dobbs was tagged out to end the frame and the Phils led 7-0.

Kendrick walked with one out in the sixth and Rollins moved him to second with a single.  Utley hit it well to center again, but Edmonds took it for the second out and Kendrick went to third.  Burrell walked to load the bases and Howard hit one just out to left for a grand slam.  11-0.  Rowand struck out for the third out.

Werth walked with one out in the seventh and went to third when Ruiz followed with a double.  Victorino hit for Kendrick and flew to left.  Werth scored to put the Phils up 12-3.  Rollins lined to left to end the frame.

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

Rowand started the ninth with a home run to left that put the Phils up 13-11.  The next three Phillies went down behind him.

Rollins was 2-for-4 with a walk, a home run and three RBI.

Utley was 1-for-5 with a double.

Burrell was 0-for-2 with two walks.

Howard was 2-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI.

Rowand was 3-for-5 with two home runs and three RBI.

Rowand and Howard combine to go 5-for-9 with four home runs and eight RBI.

Dobbs was 1-for-4.

Werth was 1-for-3 with an RBI and two walks.

Ruiz was 1-for-5 with a double.

Cole Hamels (14-5, 3.50) faces righty Todd Wellemeyer (3-3, 5.16) tonight.  Hamels will be making his first start since August 16 after missing about a month with a strained left elbow.  Hamels has allowed 25 home runs in 167 1/3 innings this season but opponents are hitting just .238 against him and he's struck out 156.  He's made two starts against the Cardinals this year, on June 24 and July 14.  Wellemeyer has appeared in 17 games for the Cardinals and will be making his ninth start.  He's been good for the Cardinals since St Louis claimed him off of waivers from the Royals in May.  In 50 2/3 innings with St Louis, Wellemeyer has thrown to a 3.55 ERA with a 1.42 ratio.  On the season, righties are hitting .229 against him and lefties .323.  In 66 1/3 innings he's allowed 11 home runs and 36 walks.  He hasn't made a start since July and missed much of the last two months with a sprained elbow.  He last threw more than 36 pitches in a game on July 8. 

Somebody needs to make sure Charlie Manuel knows that he hasn't lost yet.  He continues to lay down his the-bullpen-was-awful-and-it-wasn't-my-fault defense.  "I don't want to knock our pitching."  Really?  It sure sounds like you do.  Manuel had to use the guys in the bullpen that he did last night because he chose to use his overused other relievers to protect a four-run in New York on Sunday.  Only one of them, the 39-year-old pitching for his third straight day, got hurt.  His choice, and he won that game and the next one.  But he doesn't need to shred his own players to defend himself -- the number of people who care but don't know that the Phillies' pen is awful is very small.

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