-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


Create custom T-shirts, mugs and more with your text/images in quantities as low as one at

September 28 2006

Phew.  The Phillies made a lot of mistakes last night for a team that has left no room for error.  The normally reliable Jimmy Rollins made two throwing errors.  The normally unreliable pen was unreliable once again.  Regular season games don't get much more tense or important, but the Phillies managed to find a way to pull this one out on a night the team looked surprisingly flat.  They found some new heroes along the way.

Clay Condrey deserves top billing for throwing two perfect innings for an imperfect pen that hasn't had its SOS heard in a long time.  Michael Bourn can apparently bunt the cover off the ball.  Chris Coste never said die and got on base time after time until his team finally figured out a way to turn it into the runs they needed to win.  They ought to write a book about that guy.  And Rollins came through on the mostly miserable night with the biggest hit of them all.

If they found some new heroes they also found some of the same old problems.  Manuel keeps putting the same guys in the pen in the same situations day after day.  Geoff Geary pitched in his fourth game in four days and it didn't go well again.  In those games he's allowed seven hits and a walk in three innings.  By the end of last night Manuel had to go the other guys in the pen -- it wasn't pretty, but they got him through. 

I need to inject a personal note at this point.  Here goes.  If tonight's game requires me to watch Geoff Geary pitch to lefty Brian Schneider with the game on the line and an armada of left-handed relievers in the pen for the Phils, it may be more than I can handle.  I know the Internet depersonalizes things, but I assure that, like yourselves, I too am made of flesh and bone.  There's just so much a person can take.  I know there's not a lot you can do, but thanks for listening.

The Phillies beat the Washington Nationals last night, winning 8-7 in fourteen innings.  The win improves their record on the season to 83-75.  The Padres lost and the Dodgers won.  With four games remaining in the season, the Phillies are one game behind the Dodgers for the Wild Card.  The Dodgers are one game behind the Padres in the NL  West.  

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies.  He went six innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and a walk.  Only three of the runs were earned.  Three of the hits went for extra-bases, a double, a triple and a home run. 
Hamels set the Nationals down 1-2-3 in the first. 
Ryan Zimmerman led off the second with a home run, which tied the game at 1-1.  Hamels got the next two, but Nook Logan singled, putting a runner on first with two down.  Ryan Church doubled to right, scoring Logan to put the Nats up 2-1.  Hamels struck out Astacio to end the inning.
Bernie Castro led off the third with a triple over the head of Victorino in center.  Felipe Lopez followed with a single up the middle that brought in Castro and put Washington up 3-1.  Hamels struck out Soriano for the first out of the inning, but Zimmerman was next and he bunted for a single, sending Lopez to second.  Jose Vidro was next and he hit a double-play ball to Nunez at third.  The Phils got the runner at second, but Utley's throw to first was way wide for an error that allowed Lopez to score and put Washington up 4-1.  Harper popped out to end the inning.
Logan led off the fourth with a single, but Church followed and flew out to left for the first out.  Astacio was next and bunted Logan to second.  Hamels struck out Castro to end the inning.
In the fifth, Hamels got the first two before walking Zimmerman.  He got Vidro to fly to center to end the inning.
He struck out the side in the sixth. 
Aaron Fultz came in to pitch the seventh after the Phillies had pinch-hit for Hamels in the top of the inning.  Fultz was protecting a 5-4 lead.  He got pinch-hitter Melvin Dorta to pop to second for the first out and retired Castro on a ground ball to short.  Fultz got up 0-2 on Lopez, but Lopez worked the count full and then ripped a double over Dellucci's head in left.  With the righty Soriano at the plate, Manuel called on Ryan Madson.  Soriano swung at the first pitch and lined the ball into center, but Victorino tracked it down to end the frame. 
Madson returned to start the eighth with the Phils still up by one.  Zimmerman led off with a ground ball to short and Rollins made a rare bad throw for an error.  The ball was high and Howard had to hop to catch it, he landed back on the bag about the same time as the runner and Zimmerman was called safe.  Vidro followed with a single up the middle, sending Zimmerman to second.  Pinch-hitter Henry Mateo bunted, moving the runners to second and third with one out.  The Phillies brought the infield in with Logan at the plate, but it didn't matter cause Madson struck him out on three pitches for the second out of the inning.  With lefty Ryan Church due to hit, Manuel called on Matt Smith with the game on the line.  Smith was up to the challenge, he got Church to fly to Bourn in right to end the inning.
Flash came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth.  Brian Schneider led off with a pinch-hit single into right, just over the glove of Utley.  Bernie Castro was trying to bunt, but Gordon walked him on a 3-2 pitch.  Lopez bunted to third and they would have had Schneider at third, but Nunez dropped the ball and had to take the out at first.  The runners moved up a base, putting runners on second and third with one down for Soriano.  The Phils walked him, loading the bases with one out for Zimmerman.  Gordon walked Zimmerman, tying the game at 5-5.  Gordon got Robert Fick to foul out to Rollins behind third for the second out.  Austin Kearns pinch-hit for the pitcher.  He worked the count full before popping to second to end the inning.

In his last two appearances, Gordon has allowed three runs on three hits and three walks in two innings.    
Geoff Geary came in to pitch the bottom of the tenth with the Phillies up 6-5, pitching for the fourth consecutive day.  Logan led off with a bunt single back to Geary.  Church grounded to first and Howard beat Church to the bag, with Logan moving to second.  For the second straight game Manuel left Geary in to pitch to the lefty Brian Schneider in a critical spot and for the second straight game it went about as well as you could expect given that lefties had hit .348 against Geary this season coming into tonight's game.  Schneider singled to right, scoring Logan to make the score 6-6.  Geary struck out Castro for the second out of the inning.  Felipe Lopez hit a ground ball to short.  Rollins juggled it and then tossed to second.  There was nobody at second, Utley had vacated thinking that Rollins was going to first.  Error on Rollins, inning continues for Soriano with runners on first and second and two down.  Geary struck out Soriano to end the inning. 
Rick White came on for the eleventh and walked Zimmerman to led off the inning.  Fick flew out to center for the first out of the inning.  Washington pitcher Jason Bergmann hit for himself and bunted Zimmerman to second.  White got Logan to ground to third to end the inning.  Congrats to those of you who had Rick White in the Phillies-relief-pitcher-to-throw-a-scoreless-inning office pool.
Clay Condrey pitched the twelfth and mowed the Nationals down 1-2-3.
Condrey returned for the thirteenth to pitch to the best hitters in the Nationals lineup.  He got Lopez to strike out, Soriano to pop to short and Zimmerman to fly to shallow center to end the inning.
And then there was 21-year-old, "not major league ready" Fabio Castro, who came in to pitch the bottom of the fourteenth with the Phillies up 8-6.  He was making his first appearance since September 6.  Fick led off and hit a fly ball into left that fell in front of a diving Conine for a single.  Pitcher Beltran Perez pinch-hit for Jason Bergmann and laced a single to right, moving Fick to second.  Logan was next and he bunted back to the pitcher, Castro threw low to Utley covering first and Utley couldn't handle it.  Everybody safe, loading the bases for Ryan Church with nobody out. Church hit a fly ball to center, which brought Fick in to make the score 8-7.  Victorino did a nice job, throwing to third to keep Perez at second.  With one out and runners on first and second, Schneider was at the plate.  Schneider smoked the ball on the ground to second, but Utley made a nice play and started the double-play that ended the game.
The Phillies lineup against righty Pedro Astacio on "Let a local sports writer write your lineup" night went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Conine (6) Coste (7) Dellucci (8) Nunez.  Dellucci plays left with Burrell on the bench.  Coste catches Hamels and moves up from the seventh spot to hit sixth, with Dellucci moving down.  Burrell came into the game 10-for-26 (.385) with two home runs against Astacio for his career, 3-for-4 with two doubles against him this season. 
Jimmy Rollins flew out to center for the first out of the inning, but Victorino followed with a walk.  Utley was next and he smoked a double into right.  Victorino scored from first to put the Phillies up 1-0.  Utley made a terrible play on the bases, trying for third on the throw home.  He would have been out by about ten feet, but Zimmerman dropped the throw from Schneider and Utley was safe at third.  Howard had a bad at-bat, striking out for the second out and keeping Utley at third.  Conine fouled out to first to end the inning.
The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the second and again in the third. 
Utley led off the fourth with a home run, which made the score 4-2 Nats.  The next three Phillies went in order.
Dellucci flew out to start the fifth, but Nunez was next and he reached on an error by Castro.  Hamels bunted Nunez to second and with two down Rollins hit a wacky looping double into left, scoring Nunez and getting the Phils within one at 4-3.  Victorino struck out to end the inning.
Utley singled to lead off the sixth, but Howard and Conine struck out and Coste grounded to short to end the inning.
Dellucci struck out to start the seventh.  Nunez was next and hit a fly ball to left that Soriano played into a double.  Randall Simon pinch-hit for Hamels and drew a walk, putting runners on first and second with one down for Rollins.  Rollins dribbled a single through the hold between first and second, scoring Nunez to tie the game at 4-4.  Roberson, who had pinch run for Simon, went to third on the play.  With one down and runners on the corners, Victorino hit a ground ball to short and just beat the relay to first to avoid the double-play.  Roberson came in to score and the Phils were up 5-4.  Utley worked the count full but struck out swinging.
Howard led off the eighth with a double into the gap in left-center.  Conine followed with a ball straight back to the pitcher Rivera, who turned and caught Howard in a rundown.  Howard was tagged out with Conine safe at first.  Coste followed with a single to left, which put runners on first and second with one down for Dellucci.  Dellucci popped up into shallow left field for the second out of the inning.  With a mostly full bench that included Burrell, Manuel let Nunez hit for himself and Nunez struck out to end the inning. 
Burrell pinch-hit to lead off the ninth and struck out.  Rollins was next and he dribbled a ball down the third base line.  Zimmerman made a great play to get Rollins for the second out.  Victorino ripped a triple into right-center, so the play by Zimmerman turned out to save a run.  Utley drew a walk, putting runners on first and third for Howard.  The Nationals walked Howard intentionally to load the bases.  Conine grounded to short to end the inning.
Coste led off the tenth with a walk.  Yet another good at-bat by Coste late in the year.  Michael Bourn was next, of course,  and he bunted Coste to second.  Nunez ripped a double into right-center, scoring Coste and putting the Phillies up 6-5.  Somebody no doubt had to wake up Joe Thurston, who pinch-hit for Gordon.  Thurston got ahead in the count 3-0 but flew out to left on a 3-1 pitch for the second out of the inning.  Rollins flew to left for the third out.
Victorino and Utley both flew out to center to start the eleventh.  The Nats intentionally walked Howard, putting a runner on first with two outs and Conine at the plate.  He didn't come alone, though, he brought his 0-for-5 with six men left on base with him.  Conine grounded to short to end the frame.
Coste led off the twelfth and he did it again, lining a single into left.  Bourn again bunted him to second.  Nunez grounded to second, moving Coste to third with two down.  Carlos Ruiz pinch-hit for Rick White and popped out to short to end the inning.
Rollins grounded to second to lead off the thirteenth, but Victorino followed with a single up the middle.  Utley got ahead 3-0 but popped to second on a 3-2 pitch for the second out of the inning.  The Nationals intentionally walked Ryan Howard again, moving the go-ahead run into scoring position for Conine.  Conine struck out looking to end the inning. 
Unbelievably, Chris Coste led off the fourteenth with a double to right center.  Bourn bunted yet again, this time a beautiful number down the third base line.  Zimmerman made a throw, late and high, and everyone was safe.  With runners on first and third with one down, Nunez came to the plate and hit a ground ball to short with the infield in.  Lopez held Coste at third and got Nunez at first, with Bourn moving up to second.  Jose Hernandez pinch-hit for Clay Condrey.  Hernandez hit another ground ball to short.  Lopez came home and Coste was out at the plate.  Bourn went to third on the play, and with two down and runners on first and third, Rollins came through, lining a triple into the corner in right field.  Two runs scored and the Phillies were up 8-6.  Victorino bunted and was called out on a very close play at first for the third out of the inning.

Rollins was 3-for-8 with four RBI.

Victorino was 2-for-7 with a walk and an RBI.

Utley was 3-for-6 with his 32nd home run and drove in two.

Howard was 1-for-4 and was walked three times, all intentionally.

Conine was 0-for-7 with two strikeouts and left nine men on base.

Coste was 3-for-6 with a walk.

Dellucci 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. 

Nunez was 2-for-7 and left five men on base.

Michael Bourn was very good at the plate, getting down two bunts and beating out the third for the first hit of his career.

Jon Lieber faces Michael O'Connor tonight. 

Click here to continue viewing posts in chronological order