Archive for April, 2008

Ready, set, Met

Despite what has been considered by virtually all Phillies fans a successful April, the Phils come into the last day of the first full month of the season at 15-12, percentage points behind the 14-11 Mets in the NL East. Andrew Vazzano from The ‘Ropolitans answered a few questions about the state of the Mets.

Think of it as really advanced scouting on a team the Phils don’t play again till July.

1) What do you see as the most significant developments for the Mets since the start of the season?

Well, most of the fans thought we were indestructible after we landed Johan Santana, so now that we’ve played a few games, we’ve seen that we’re just as good as everyone else and this is going to be a dogfight all season. I’m also very surprised by the back end of our bullpen (sans: Aaron Heilman). With Joe Smith, Duaner Sanchez and Billy Wagner closing out games, I’m very confident if the team has a lead late, they’ll hold it. (Obviously, since I said this, they’ll blow a few of the next bunch of games!)

2) There seems to be a loud, large contingent of fans that are unhappy with the direction of the team or at least some of the Mets’ players. Is this just frustration with the early results or does it go deeper than that? How do you expect the situation to play out?

It all stems from last season. As far in the past as it is, most fans are yet to get over the collapse. When guys like Carlos Delgado and Aaron Heilman got off to extremely rocky starts, fans regressed to last September, and the boo birds came out in full force. Obviously, we’re not even through a quarter of the season, so I think it’s still way too early to start driving a guy out of town. The players need to pick up the pace, but I think it will all even out in the long run. Only if the player continues to struggle do I see anything coming of this. Again, it’s all from last season, it haunts us.

3) How do you expect the situations in left field and at first base will be resolved? Right now it looks like Pagan may be seeing a lot of time in left — do you think he can make it through a whole season there? What are the other options for the Mets at first base if Delgado doesn’t come around?

Well, Moises Alou just had his ankle checked out, and he should rejoin he team in Arizona. Obviously, there is no way he’s going to make it through a whole season without getting injured again, so time will be split between Angel Pagan and Endy Chavez. There’s no way Pagan can last a whole season, as we’ve already seen him hit a cold snap. Chavez and Pagan are decent in left, a big upgrade defensively over Alou, but Alou can absolutely rake at the plate. On Delgado at first, I think the team needs to wait it out until he *really* starts to tank. The two home run day against the Braves was huge, and with or without a curtain call, it should be a big boost to his confidence. A lot of people have been calling for AA player Mike Carp to get called up. Through 4/29, Carp is batting .376 with 6 home runs, 20 RBI, and 16 runs scored. People seem to think he’s the first baseman of the future, and with Delgado taking a downturn at first, Carp might be called up sooner rather than later. I’d rather see Marlon Anderson or Damion Easley fill in at first, with the majority of the time still going to Delgado. Carp may be called up in September, but I don’t think it will happen before that.

4) What is your expectation about how the rotation is going to shape up behind Santana/Maine/Perez the rest of the way? Do you think it’s likely that most of the other starts will come from Pedro, El Duque, Pelfrey and Figueroa? Do you feel comfortable with that group at the bottom of the rotation? Is there anybody else in the mix?

Stick a fork in El Duque, he’s done. I don’t expect him to come back, ever. I see the rest of the season being split between Nelson Figueroa and Mike Pelfrey, with Pedro Martinez getting the bulk if/when he gets back and if he stays healthy. With Jorge Sosa struggling so far, when Figueroa or Pelfrey gets bumped by Martinez returning to the rotation, one of those two might find themselves as the long man out of the bullpen. Figueroa would probably be the best guy out of the pen, so I think that’s what might happen.

5) Is Willie Randolph the right person to manage the Mets? How safe is his job?

No. He’s good, but not for this team. These players need a leader and with David Wright being so young, and probably the most outspoken player on he team, he doesn’t really fit the bill. I think the Mets need someone like Jim Leyland who isn’t afraid to yell after a lazy loss or poor play. If the Mets don’t make the postseason this year, I doubt Willie returns.

Thanks a lot to Andrew. Remember to check out his blog, The ‘Ropolitans.


Outhit, outpitch, outlast

Team W-L R R/G NL Rank R OPS (NL) SB CS
               
SD 10-16 84 3.23 16 620 (16) 7 0
PHI 14-12 124 4.77 T-3 781 (5) 10 5

Team W-L RA RA/G NL Rank RA Starter ERA Pen ERA
             
SD 10-16 121 4.65 11 3.68 (5) 4.52 (15)
PHI 14-12 114 4.38 8 4.37 (10) 2.60 (1)

The Phils topped the Padres in an unusual pitching duel last night, unusual because the Phils won it 7-4 after the teams combined to score seven runs in the eighth and ninth.

Hamels outdueled cerebral veteran Greg Maddux and while it’s not surprising to see Hamels outpitch anyone, the game added a head-to-head battle of mind and body between Hamels and Maddux and Hamels again came out on top. With the Phils up 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh and a much needed insurance run on first base, Hamels showed bunt early in the count before he laced Maddux’s 1-1 pitch into right field for a single that sent the runner to third. It was enough to send Maddux into a mini-tizzy, and he didn’t face another batter on the night.

The legend grows.

Hamels performance on the mound and at the plate was impressive, but the Phils blew to game open in the bottom of the eighth with some key two out hits. Two of the hits came from a pair of guys struggling badly at the bottom of the order, Feliz and Ruiz.

Before the Phils broke the game open in the bottom of the eighth, Tom Gordon orchestrated yet another magnificent escape act. Gordon entered the game with a 3-1 lead with the bases loaded and one out. He allowed a run to score on a ground out, but got the Phillies out of the inning with the lead. After allowing five runs in a third of an inning in his first appearance of the year, Gordon has allowed two runs on five hits and five walks while striking out 12 in ten innings since (that’s a 1.80 ERA with a 1.00 ratio).

The Phillies beat the San Diego Padres last night, winning 7-4 to improve to 15-12 on the season.

Hamels got the start for the Phils and went 7 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He walked two and struck out six.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 first.

He started the second with a 1-0 lead. Justin Huber drew a two out walk, but Hamels struck Scott Hairston out swinging to end the frame.

Three ground outs in a 1-2-3 third. Josh Bard hit the ball hard to start the inning, but right at Bruntlett who handled it for the out.

Up 2-0 in the fourth, Hamels set down the first two before Adrian Gonzalez lofted one into right that dropped a few feet to the left of the foul line. Jenkins was on it fast and made a strong throw to second that beat Gonzalez by a lot to set down San Diego. Nice job by Jenkins to get to the ball quickly and a strong and accurate throw. The play wasn’t close.

He got the first two in the fifth before Hairston came to the plate. Hairston fouled off the first pitch of the at-bat and then blasted one out to left-center, cutting the Phillies’ lead to 2-1. Bard grounded to third to end the frame.

Brian Giles singled with one out in the sixth. Former Phil Tad Iguchi was next and hit into a double-play back to the pitcher. Odd looking play — Utley had come in and toward second on the dribbler up the middle to Hamels and took Hamels’ throw to second base instead of Bruntlett, but turned the double-play anyway.

Hamels struck out Kevin Kouzmanoff and Gonzalez to start the seventh before Khalil Greene singled to left. Huber struck out to set the Padres down.

Hairston led off the eighth and hammered a double over the head of Werth and off the base of the wall in center. Bard was next and hit a dribbler between the mound and the first base line. Hamels moved over to field it and tried to backhand the ball, but it went off his glove. It bounded to Utley, who made a glove-hand flip to Howard and Bard was called out. Very nice play by Utley, but Bard was safe. Hariston went to third. Switch-hitter Tony Clark hit for the pitcher Cla Meredith and drew a walk. It put men on first and third with one out and the lefty Giles due to hit, and Manuel called on Romero to pitch. Hamels left the game having thrown 97 pitches. Romero walked Giles on an outside 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Gordon came into pitch to the righty Iguchi. Iguchi hit a slow ground ball to short. Bruntlett only had one play and threw to first for the second out as Hairston scored to cut the lead to 3-2. It put men on second and third with two outs for Kouzmanoff, but Flash got him on a ground ball to second to end the frame.

The lead got extended from one run to five in the bottom of the eighth, making Gordon’s appearance in the eighth seem less important, but that was an impressive job by Gordon again.

Interesting contrast between Manuel’s handling of Hamels in this start and his previous start. Last Wednesday in Milwaukee, Manuel left Hamels in to pitch to lefty Prince Fielder in the eighth despite a huge pitch count. Fielder homered for the second time in the game and the Phils went on to lose. This time Manuel takes Hamels out of the game even with the lefty Brian Giles at the plate. How Manuel handles Hamels throughout the season is likely going to depend a lot on the availability of Romero in the pen and where the big lefties are in the opposing team’s lineup — with Romero as the only southpaw Manuel has I think you can expect that he’ll be less likely to take Hamels (or Moyer) out of a game with big lefties looming when Romero isn’t available or when he expects to see the big lefties hit two more times in the game. Another lefty in the pen would be very nice, but until one arrives I hope we see him err on the side of less pitches for Hamels, even if it means some righty relievers throwing to lefties. I don’t think there’s any chance the Phillies are going to go through the season with Romero as the only lefty in the pen.

The Phils were up 3-2 with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and scored four runs. Lidge was getting ready to enter the game, but Manuel was able to get Madson up in time to get him in to pitch the bottom of the ninth with the score 7-2. Great job by Manuel to keep Lidge out of the game, even though Madson pitched badly.

Victorino also entered the game defensively in the ninth after pinch-hitting in the bottom of the eighth. Even with some talk from Manuel about letting Werth play some more center despite Victorino’s return, and the fact that Werth started the game in center with Victorino available, Werth moved to right and Victorino played center. It’s just a no-brainer that Victorino is a significantly better center fielder than Werth, even though Werth has looked pretty capable out there.

Victorino’s return does create a difficult situation for the Phils. There seems to be some evidence that Victorino isn’t a favorite of Manuel. Werth needs to play just about every day, whether it’s in right or in center. Victorino doesn’t belong in right field. In my mind it comes down to Jenkins versus Victorino — if Jenkins is in the game I hope just about all of the time it means Werth is in center. Victorino hasn’t done much with the bat, but neither has Jenkins. Victorino is at least an elite defensive player. Not sure why Victorino would be the guy to lose his time because he’s not hitting with Jenkins not hitting as well. Jenkins certainly has more upside as a hitter, but he is slugging .329 so far this season.

Madson started the ninth and Gonzalez led off with a ball off the wall in left. Taguchi played it well to hold him to a single. Madson got the next two on a fly ball and a strikeout before Hairston hit a 2-1 pitch out down the line in left. Second home run in the game for Hairston, and it made the score 7-4. Lidge had to get up and start to throw again, but Madson struck out Bard to end the game.

Great job by Manuel to keep Lidge out of the game with a five-run lead despite all the late runs in the bottom of the eighth.

Six pitches for Romero, seven for Gordon and 19 for Madson. The Phillies didn’t play on Monday so the pen should be in good shape.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Greg Maddux went (1) Werth (2) Bruntett (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Victorino was activated before the game, and Bohn sent down, but Victorino starts the game on the bench with Werth in center. Bruntlett moves up to the second spot in the order, which is too high for him. Jenkins plays right with the righty on the mound. Ruiz keeps getting the call behind the plate.

Bruntlett drew a one out walk in the first and stole second. Utley lined out to first for the second out, but Howard singled to left and Bruntlett scored to put the Phils up 1-0. Burrell grounded out for the third out. Interesting to see Howard go to left field with the monster shift the Padres are playing against him.

Jenkins led off the second and ripped a single into right. Feliz hit into a double-play and Ruiz grounded to third.

With one out in the third, Werth smashed a ball off the wall in right. It rolled away from Giles and Werth had a triple. Bruntlett followed with a single into right, Werth scored and the Phils were up 2-0. Two runs in 2 1/3 innings for the Phils and Bruntlett a big part of both of them. Utley flew to right for the second out. Howard was next and hammered a ball, but was robbed of extra-bases by a fantastic diving catch by Hairston on the warning track.

Feliz doubled to left with two outs in the fourth, but Ruiz flew to center for the third out.

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

Utley singled to start the sixth. Howard followed with a ground ball to first and Utley was forced at second for the first out. Burrell popped out and Jenkins grounded to first to end the inning.

Ruiz singled with one out in the seventh. Hamels was next and bunted the first pitch foul. He took ball one to even the count and then swung away and ripped a singled into right. Ruiz went to third. Werth hit a ball to center for the second out, deep enough to easily score Ruiz and extend the lead to 3-1. Bruntlett grounded to third for the third out. Fantastic at-bat by Hamels and a nice job by Werth to bring the runner in from third with one out.

Utley doubled to start the eighth. Howard followed and struck out and the lefty Glendon Rusch walked Burrell intentionally to put men on first and second with one out. Victorino hit for Jenkins against the lefty. Righty Kevin Cameron came in to pitch to Victorino. Victorino flew to shallow left-center for the second out. Feliz bailed him out, though, with a single into right. Utley scored to make it 4-2 with the runners winding up at second and third after the throw went home. Ruiz smashed a double off the wall in right-center and they both scored. 6-2. Dobbs hit for Gordon and he doubled into center, scoring Ruiz. 7-2. Werth flew to center for the third out. Weak at-bats for Howard and Victorino in the inning, but Feliz, Ruiz and Dobbs bail them out to give the Phils a big inning.

Werth was 1-for-4 with a triple and a sac fly.

Bruntlett was 1-for-3 with a walk, a stolen base and an RBI. He’s 8-for-his-last-25 and has his average up to .222. Still not the guy you want to see hitting second.

Utley was 2-for-4 with a double.

Howard was 1-for-4 with an RBI.

Burrell 0-for-3 with a walk.

Jenkins 1-for-3 with a nice play in right field.

Feliz 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.

Ruiz 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI.

Jamie Moyer (1-1, 4.05) faces righty Chris Young (1-2, 3.77) tonight. Young has made five starts on the season and in four of them allowed two or fewer runs. He allowed seven runs against the Dodgers in LA on April 12, but has made two starts since in which he’s allowed three earned runs on just five hits in 13 innings (3.46 ERA). Opponents are hitting just .208 against him on the year, but he has walked 18 in 28 2/3 innings. He faced the Phillies once last season, on July 19, and held the Phillies to two hits in seven scoreless innings. Moyer has allowed three runs in 12 innings over his last two starts. Opponents are hitting .333 against him on the season, righties .349. After allowing 30 home runs in 2007, he has allowed just two so far in ’08 and none in his last two appearances. He made two starts against San Diego last season. He got bombed for eight runs in 4 2/3 innings on August 24 after allowing four runs over 6 2/3 on July 21.


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? From a year ago? Um, thou art worse. Less temperate.

On the plus side, I do think there’s at least a chance that temperate wasn’t even that high on the list of collective goals.

Using OPS as the measure, Utley’s second base and Burrell’s left field are the only two positions where the Phils are getting more offense in 2008 than they got in 2007. That leaves six positions where they are getting less offense, the most dramatic of which are shortstop and first base. For each of the positions, here’s what all Phillies’ hitters who played that position in 2007 did compared to what they’re doing so far in 08 (the six positions doing worse are on top, left and second base below):


POS

08 OPS (NL Rank)

07 OPS (NL Rank)

07 OPS – 08 OPS
1B 658 (13) 930 (3) 272
SS 644 (9) 875 (2) 231
RF 643 (14) 791 (8) 148
CF 771 (5) 884 (1) 113
3B 590 (13) 688 (16) 98
C 690 (12) 725 (3) 35
       

POS

08 OPS (NL Rank)

07 OPS (NL Rank)

08 OPS – 07 OPS
2B 1.214 (1) 935 (1) 279
LF 1.177 (1) 904 (3) 273

Right field has been a disaster for the Phils so far this season, as Jenkins and Taguchi both struggle. The numbers overall presumably will get better as Werth starts to see more time in right with the return of Victorino. It’s also reasonable to expect that both Jenkins and Taguchi will hit much better the rest of the way.

Werth’s monster numbers help the Phils out at center, but it’s not likely the team is going to be able to keep pace with what Rowand did out there in ’07. Victorino was struggling badly with the bat when he went on the DL, if he doesn’t start to hit soon I think Werth may continue to get significant time out there.

At third the Phils are 13th in the NL after being 16th last year, but sadly that just means there’s a whole lot of NL third baseman out there that aren’t hitting at all. Led by Nunez, Phils third baseman in ’07 produced more offense than they have so far in ’08.

Ruiz has been miserable behind the plate, but Coste’s big numbers help the Phils out overall.

Utley is on pace to hit 62 home runs. Burrell is on pace to drive in 156 runs on the year, and that’s with the hitters on the team that aren’t Burrell and Utley combining to on-base .301 for the season. The fact that Burrell and Utley have combined to drive in 46 runs with just about nobody getting on base around them is impressive. Burrell at least gets to hit behind Utley, so 21 for Utley may be as impressive as 25 for Burrell.

This says Victorino is expected to be activated for tonight’s game with Bohn being sent down.

Mike Lieberthal will retire as a Phillie on June 1.

Cole Hamels (2-3, 2.75) faces righty Greg Maddux (2-1, 3.66) tonight in Philadelphia as the Phils play the first of three against the Padres. Four of Maddux’s five starts on the year have been very good. In his fourth start, on April 18 in Arizona, he allowed nine earned runs in seven innings against the Diamondbacks. His next start was last Wednesday and he shut the Giants out on four hits without a walk over seven innings. He’s walked just six in 32 innings on the year. Righties are hitting .301 against him, lefties .120. He made one start against the Phils last year, which came on August 24. That was the game Ruiz brought an unconventional approach to his slide into Marcus Giles at second base. Hamels threw 121 pitches and took the loss his last time out, a combination you would be looking to avoid. Threw 121 pitches and got the win would be better, but just a little bit. Over his last two starts he’s allowed nine earned runs in 14 innings (5.79 ERA) while throwing to a 1.50 ratio. Opponents are still hitting just .201 against him. He’s walked 12 in 36 innings, with 11 of the walks coming to righties. Hamels faced the Padres on July 19 last year and held San Diego to a run on two hits over seven innings. The Phils lost 1-0, shut out by Chris Young.


Burrell and Utley getting by with a little less help from their friends than you might hope

Just how bad have the Phillies hitters other than Chase Utley and Pat Burrell been so far this season? Very. Here’s what the Phillies have done as a group so far for ’08, what Burrell and Utley have done, and what the Phillies’ hitters other than Burrell and Utley have done:

 
AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
Total ’08 900 .256 .334 .447 .781
Burrell ’08 86 .349 .467 .721 1.188
Utley ’08 103 .359 .433 .757 1.191
           
Total w/o Burrell and Utley 711 .229 .301 .368 .669

As a group, non-Utley/Burrell hitters on the team have been miserable. They are on-basing .301. The list of culprits is long and includes just about everyone on the team with a few exceptions. Werth is the only other hitter with more than 40 at-bats who hasn’t been miserable, he’s hitting 292/386/569 in 72 at-bats on the season. In lesser time, Coste (361/452/639 in 36 at-bats) and Dobbs (324/395/529 in 34 at-bats) have also been good.

The list of hitters with an OPS for the season lower than .669 (the OPS for the team if you take out Burrell and Utley’s numbers) includes Howard, Feliz, Jenkins, Victorino, Bruntlett and Taguchi. All of those players have at least 40 at-bats expect for Taguchi, who has 38.

And here’s how the numbers from 2007 look:

 
AB

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
Total ’07 5688 .274 .354 .458 .812
Burrell ’07 472 .256 .400 .502 .902
Utley ’07 530 .332 .410 .566 .976
           
Total w/o Burrell and Utley 4686 .269 .342 .441 .783

It’s not going to be a surprise to many people, but even when you take Utley and Burrell out of the equation, the Phillies hitters are faring far worse than they did overall in 2007. I don’t think you have to look far for an explanation. The primary causes surely include replacing Rollins at short with Bruntlett for much of the season and the struggles of Howard.

In 2007, Phillies first baseman hit 268/383/547 as a group (.930 OPS). So far in ’08 they have hit 168/310/347 (.658). Phillies shortstops in ’08 have hit 243/284/359 (.644) compared to 297/345/530 (.875) in 2007.

Overall, the difference between the ’07 and ’08 OPS at the shortstop position (.875-.644 = .231) is smaller than the difference between the ’07 and ’08 OPS for the first base position (.930 – .658 = .272). This seems to suggest that first base has been the bigger problem overall if you’re comparing ’08 production at the position to ’07 production at the position using OPS as the measure. However, you have to remember that Rollins got 35 at-bats as a shortstop before hitting the DL and hit 314/351/543 before giving way to Bruntlett. In his 67 at-bats as a shortstop, Bruntlett has hit 209/254/269, so I think it’s safe to say that while the numbers overall make it look like first base is the bigger problem, the Phils have struggled more replacing Rollins with Bruntlett than they have replacing ’07 Howard with ’08 Howard.


Phils refuse to hit until someone explains the pronunciation of Maholm

Might be a while.

Pirates’ lefty Paul Maholm shut down the Phillies’ bat this afternoon and the Phils fell for just the second time in their last eight games. They end their road trip through Colorado, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh at 5-2.

The Phils couldn’t do anything against Malhom, managing just two hits, a double by Burrell and a single by Bruntlett, on the afternoon.

Their bats will no doubt be back soon. Of a little more concern is opening day starter Brett Myers, who was hit hard again today and now has an ERA over five for the season and has allowed ten home runs in five April starts. Myers is struggling to find his velocity and pitched much of today’s game in the mid to upper 80′s.

The Phillies lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates this afternoon, falling 5-1 to drop to 14-12 on the year. The Phils take the series two games to one.

Myers got the start for the Phils and went five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and a walk. Just two of the hits went for extra-bases, both home runs by Nate McLouth. Myers struck out five. His ERA is up to 5.11 on the season.

The Pirates hit him hard in the first but only came away with one run. McLouth led off with a home run on Myers’ second pitch of the game, putting the Pirates up 1-0. Freddy Sanchez and Jason Bay both grounded out on balls hit hard before Ryan Doumit singled to right. Xavier Nady smashed a ball to left, but Burrell took it for the third out.

Myers struck out Adam LaRoche and Jose Bautista to start the second before Luis Rivas singled. Pitcher Paul Maholm struck out to end the inning.

Myers got two more strikeouts in a 1-2-3 third. He struck McLouth out on four pitches for the first out of the frame, which was pretty much the highlight when it came to Myers/McLouth confrontations on the day.

Adam LaRoche singled with two outs in the fourth and moved to second on a wild pitch. Bautista singled into center on a 3-1 pitch and LaRoche scored to make the Pittsburgh lead 2-0. Bautista stole second with Rivas at the plate before Rivas singled into center. Werth made a strong throw home and Ruiz did a nice job as Bautista was nailed at the plate to end the inning.

Myers started the fifth down 2-1 and walked the pitcher to start the inning. McLouth followed with his second home run of the day. 4-1. Bay singled with one out, but Myers got two ground balls behind him. You can never go wrong with not walking the pitcher to start the inning.

Seanez started the sixth after the Phils hit for Myers in the top of the inning. Seanez started the inning having thrown ten pitches on Saturday night. LaRoche and Bautista singled back-to-back to start the inning, putting men on first and third with nobody out for Rivas. Rivas hit into a double-play, but LaRoche scored to make it 5-1. Seanez walked the pitcher Maholm, but McLouth grounded out behind him. First earned run allowed in nine appearances on the year for Seanez.

Madson started the seventh. With one out Bay singled and moved to second when Doumit followed with a walk. Bay stole third as Nady struck out for the second out. Madson struck LaRoche out swinging at a 2-2 changeup for the third out.

Condrey started the eighth, pitching for the first time since Monday, and gave up a leadoff double to Bautista. Rivas moved him to third with a ground out before Maholm grounded to short. Bautista held third as Bruntlett threw to first for the second out. Condrey walked McLouth intentionally and then got ahead of Sanchez 1-2 before hitting him with a 2-2 pitch. Bay flew to right for the third out.

Seanez threw 21 pitches, Madson 24 and Condrey 23, but with no game Monday they all may be available on Tuesday.

The Phillies’ lineup against lefty Paul Maholm went (1) Taguchi (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Feliz (7) Bruntlett (8) Ruiz. Taguchi in right. Howard stays in the lineup against the lefty. Ruiz catches Myers.

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

Burrell walked with one out in the second, but Feliz hit into a double-play behind him.

Ruiz walked with one out in the third. Myers tried to bunt and hit it back to the mound. Maholm started the double-play that ended the inning.

Taguchi led off the fourth with a line drive to left and was robbed of extra-bases by a fantastic diving catch by Nady deep in right near the line. Werth and Utley went down behind him.

The Phils exploded for one in the fifth. Burrell doubled to left with one out. Feliz grounded to third for the second out, but Bruntlett followed and singled into center. Burrell scored from second to cut the Pittsburgh lead to 2-1. Bruntlett was picked off first and thrown out at second to end the frame.

Brad Harman hit for Myers with one out in the sixth, despite just 80 pitches on the day. The fact that the Phillies didn’t have a game on Monday may have been a factor, with the extra day of rest Manuel may have been more willing to go to his pen so early. Harman walked, but Taguchi and Werth went down behind him.

Howard walked with one out in the seventh, but Burrell and Feliz went down behind him.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the eighth. Coste hit for Madson and struck out for the third out.

They went 1-2-3 in the ninth. Taguchi again hammered a ball, but this time was robbed when Bautista speared his line drive at third.

Taguchi was 0-for-4 in the game. 1-for-9 in the series. He’s hitting 211/250/263 on the year.

Werth was 0-for-4 with a strikeout. 3-for-12 with a double and a home run in the series. 292/386/569.

Utley was 0-for-4. 2-for-12 with two singles and two walks in the set. 359/433/757.

Howard was 0-for-2 with a walk. 1-for-7 with a home run and two walks in the series. 174/300/359.

Burrell was 1-for-2 with a double and a walk. 3-for-10 with two doubles and three walks. 349/467/721.

Feliz was 0-for-3 and left three men on base. 1-for-9 with a double in the series. 202/264/357.

Bruntlett was 1-for-3 with an RBI. 3-for-11 in the set. 217/260/275.

Ruiz was 0-for-2 with a walk in his only action in the series. 188/246/234 on the year. Coste was 0-for-1 today and 3-for-9 with a double in the series. 361/452/639 on the year.

Jenkins did not play in the game and was 2-for-5 with an RBI in the series. He’s hitting 237/284/329 on the year.

Dobbs was 0-for-3 with a walk in the series. 324/395/529.

Five of the eight position players the Phillies started in the game ended the day hitting .217 or lower.

The Phils are off tomorrow and play their first of three against the Padres on Tuesday.


Phils deep-six the Pirates

The Phillies jumped out to a 6-0 lead early last night in Pittsburgh for the second time in two days. After leading 6-0 in the fourth on Friday, the Phils were up 6-0 in the second on Saturday. Unlike Eaton on Friday, Kyle Kendrick found himself on the mound, although briefly, in the eighth inning and the Phils rolled to an 8-4 win.

The game also saw the return of Ryan Howard to the starting lineup after two days starting the game on the bench. Howard stroked a two-run homer in the first, but ended the day 1-for-4 with a walk and two more strikeouts.

The Phillies beat the Pittsburgh Pirates last night, winning 8-4 to improve to 14-11. It’s the third win in a row for the Phils who are three games over .500 for the first time on the year.

Kendrick got the start for the Phils and went seven innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. Only three of the runs were earned. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and a home run. He struck out two and didn’t walk a batter.

Kendrick got two ground balls and a strikeout in the first, pitching with a 5-0 lead.

Up 6-0 in the second, he set the Pirates down 1-2-3.

Kendrick hit Brian Bixler with one out in the third, giving the Pirates their first base runner. Pitcher Phil Dumatrait bunted Bixler to second for the second out down six runs. Nate McLouth followed with a single into center and the Pirates were on the board at 6-1 as Bixler scored. Freddy Sanchez followed with a double into right. Jenkins had no chance to throw out McLouth, who scored on the play to make it 6-2, but missed the cutoff man completely. It didn’t matter, though, cause Jason Bay grounded to third to end the inning.

Xavier Nady ripped a double into left with one out in the fourth. Doug Mientkiewicz flew to center for the second out before Ronny Paulino smashed a ground ball to short, but Bruntlett made a nice play to end the inning.

Kendrick threw a 1-2-3 fifth and a 1-2-3 sixth.

Mientkiewicz singled into center with one out in the seventh. Paulino was next and hit a dribbler between the mound and the third base line. Kendrick got on it fast, but threw wildly to first. Paulino went to second on the error and the Pirates had runners on second and third with one out. Bixler grounded out to second and Mientkiewicz scored to make it 8-3. Jose Bautista hit for the pitcher and grounded out to second to end the inning.

Nate McLouth hit Kendrick’s first pitch of the eighth out for a home run that cut the Phillies’ lead to 8-4. Sanchez followed with a single and Seanez relieved Kendrick. Bay hit a ground ball to short and Sanchez was forced at second for the first out. LaRoche singled into right, moving Bay to third.

Madson threw a quick 1-2-3 ninth.

Seanez threw just ten pitches, Madson six. The single by LaRoche is the only hit Seanez has allowed on the season in eight innings, although he has walked seven.

The Phillies lineup against righty Matt Morris went (1) Werth (2) Dobbs (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Coste (8) Bruntlett. Howard returns to the lineup after two days starting the game on the bench. Utley goes back to second after playing first the night before. Dobbs gets another start at third against a righty and Coste gets to catch again after a big game with the bat on Friday night.

Utley singled to right with two outs in the first. Howard was next and hit a 1-2 pitch out to center field, putting the Phils up 2-0. Jenkins followed and hit a ball hard to right and off the glove of Nady for a two-base error. Burrell scored and it put the Phils up 3-0. Coste was hit by a pitch, putting men on first and second for Bruntlett. Bruntlett came through with a single into center. Jenkins scored to make it 4-0 and Coste went to second. Kendrick hit a ground ball to short that Bixler booted for the Pirates second error of the inning. Coste scored to make it 5-0 with Bruntlett moving to second. Werth flew to right for the third out.

With one out in the second, Utley singled and Howard moved him to second with a walk. Burrell popped out for the second out, but Jenkins singled into left and Utley scored to make it 6-0. Howard went to second. Lefty Phil Dumatrait relieved Morris and got Coste on a popup to short to end the frame.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the third. Dumatrait struck out Utley and Howard in a 1-2-3 fourth.

They didn’t figure out Dumatrait in the fifth, either, as Burrell, Jenkins and Coste went down in order. Ten in a row for Dumatrait.

Bruntlett started the sixth with a routine ground ball to short that Bixler booted again for his second error of the night. Kendrick tried to bunt him to second but couldn’t, striking out for the first out. Werth followed with a double down the line in left and Bruntlett was waived home. Close play at the plate and Bruntlett may have been out if Paulino hadn’t dropped the ball. A little too aggressive for me with one out, but it made the score 7-2. Feliz was next and he split the gap in right center with another double. Werth scored and it was 8-2. The righties Werth and Feliz finally get through against the lefty Doumatrait. Utley followed with a walk that put men on first and second, but Howard struck out for the second out. Righty Franquelis Osoria came in to pitch to Burrell and got a ground ball to third to end the frame.

Jenkins singled to start the seventh, but Coste followed and hit into a double-play. Bruntlett grounded to first for the third out.

Kendrick hit for himself to lead off the eighth having thrown 93 pitches and the Phils up 8-3. He drew a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch before Werth walked, putting men on first and second with nobody out. Feliz lined to second and Kendrick was doubled off of second. Utley struck out to end the frame.

Burrell and Jenkins struck out in a 1-2-3 ninth.

Werth was 1-for-4 with a double and a walk.

Dobbs was 0-for-3.

Utley 2-for-4 with a walk He’s hitting .374.

Howard 1-for-4 with a home run and a walk and struck out twice.

Burrell 1-for-5 and left four men on base.

Jenkins 2-for-5 with an RBI.

Coste 0-for-3.

Bruntlett 1-for-4 with an RBI.

Brett Myers (2-1, 4.78) faces lefty Paul Maholm (1-2, 4.22) this afternoon. Righties are hitting .328 against righties on the year, lefties .238. He’s walked just six in his 21 1/3 innings and hasn’t gotten an out in the seventh inning this year. He faced the Phils once last season and allowed six runs over seven innings. In his last four starts, Myers has allowed eight home runs in 27 innings. Lefties are hitting .180 against him and righties .325.


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