His glove. Always something.
There have been two big surprises for me in the early part of the season. The first is how well the bullpen has pitched overall and the second is how utterly miserable the infield has played defensively. With Rollins sidelined, Eric Bruntlett made his first start at short for the Phillies and it was memorable for all the wrong reasons. With one out in the third he had a routine double-play ball that should have ended the inning. He couldn’t make the play and would make another error on a harder play a few batters later. The Mets scored six runs in the inning and finally beat the Phils for the first time in ten tries.
The Phillies made four errors in a game for the second time this season. They’ve played nine games so far. In four of the games they’ve made two or more errors, and the defense in the outfield, led by Victorino and a couple of nice plays by Jenkins, has been unusually good.
Bruntlett is a good defensive player who had a bad game. Even if he wasn’t, the Phils have bigger worries than the backup shortstop. For example, the terrible defense behind him couldn’t disguise the fact that Kyle Kendrick struggled for his second straight outing, and that this start was worse than the first. Kendrick didn’t last long but walked six hitters in 2 1/3 innings while he was in. He continues to struggle badly against left-handed batters, who have posted a 1.101 OPS against him through two appearances.
The Phillies lost to the New York Mets last night, falling 8-2 to drop to 4-5 on the season.
Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went 2 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs on four hits and six walks. Only one of the runs was earned. He didn’t strike out anyone. His ERA is 6.14 after two outings, which doesn’t really reflect how badly he has pitched.
Kendrick walked Jose Reyes to start the first. Angel Pagan was next and he hit a ground ball right back to Kendrick, but Kendrick didn’t field it cleanly and had to throw to first. Should have been a double-play, but Reyes moved to second with one out. David Wright was next and hit a screaming ground ball to second. It went off of Utley’s glove and into right field Reyes scored to put the Mets up 1-0. It was a hit for Wright, but Utley, who has been very bad defensively early in the season for the Phils, should have made the play. Carlos Beltran was next and lined to Victorino for the second out. Kendrick walked Carlos Delgado on a 3-2 pitch to put men on first and second with two down for Ryan Church. Church walked and it loaded the bases for Damion Easley. Easley chopped one back up the middle and Bruntlett made a nice play, fielding in front of second base and throwing Easley out at first to end the inning.
Bad defense from the Phils in the inning and Kendrick can’t do anything with the lefties, walking both Delgado and Church. He walked the switch-hitter Reyes hitting left, too. The other switch Beltran hit it hard to center but Victorino tracked it down.
Kendrick walked the lefty Brian Schneider to start the second. The pitcher Mike Pelfrey was next and bunted Schneider to second. Reyes grounded to first for the second out, moving Schneider to third. Kendrick then walked Pagan and Wright back-to-back, loading the bases with two outs. Beltran grounded to second for the third out.
The third inning was a disaster. Delgado led off with a double and Church moved him to third with a single to center. Easley singled to left and Delgado scored, putting the Mets up 2-1 with men on first and second and nobody out. Schneider lined to first for the first out, bringing up Pelfrey. Pelfrey bunted and he and Ruiz nearly got tangled up as Ruiz fielded and threw to third. His throw was bad and went off the glove of Feliz. Ruiz got the error, but Feliz should have caught the ball. It loaded the bases with one out for Reyes, who hit a double-play ball to short. Bruntlett, probably in his hurry to start the double-play, mishandled then dropped the ball and everyone was safe. It should have ended the inning, but instead Church scored to make it 3-1 and the bases were still loaded. Pagan followed with a two-run double to left. 5-1 with men on second and third. Durbin relieved Kendrick to face the righty Wright. Wright hit a ground ball to deep short that Bruntlett tried to backhand. The ball went under his glove for another error. Reyes scored to make it 6-1 and there were runners on first and third. Not for long, though. A wild pitch from Durbin moved Wright to second and brought Pagan in to make the score 7-1 before Beltran walked to put men on first and second with one out. Durbin got Delgado on a line drive to right for the second out with the runners unable to advance and struck out Church to end the inning.
Just atrocious defense in the infield again for the Phils. Two errors by Bruntlett. The first should have ended the frame with one run having scored instead of six. Ruiz made a bad throw on the bunt, but Feliz, whose defense hasn’t been as advertised yet, should have handled it.
Durbin was fantastic after the third, setting the Mets down 1-2-3 in the fourth, fifth and sixth.
Condrey started the seventh down 7-2 and walked Easley to start the inning. Schneider moved Easley to second with a single before pinch-hitter Marlon Anderson drove a ball to left-center that Victorino tracked down for the first out. Easley went to third on the long fly ball. Reyes was next and hit a ground ball to second. Utley fielded and chased Schneider back towards first, then flipped to Howard who tagged first and then tagged out Schneider to end the inning. Reyes came home from third on the play and scored before Schneider was tagged, so the run counted and the Mets’ lead was 8-2.
Seanez pitched the eighth and gave up a leadoff walk to Easley, but set the next three Mets down in order. He’s allowed one walk in three innings so far this season.
Durbin was great for the Phils, getting eleven outs in relief without allowing a hit. He threw 46 pitches, though, so it may be a while before we see him again. Condrey is presumably available tonight after throwing 18 pitches. Seanez threw 16 pitches in his first action since Friday, so he can probably go as well. Durbin’s outing helps save the pen despite the Kendrick not getting out of the third inning.
Still no Madson for the Phils, who last pitched on Friday and has a sore right shoulder.
The Phillies’ lineup against righty Mike Pelfrey went (1) Victorino (2) Bruntlett (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Rollins out of the lineup after hurting his ankle on Tuesday night going back into the second base bag on a pick-off play where there was no throw from the pitcher. Bruntlett plays short. Victorino leads off, but second is too high for Bruntlett to be hitting in the order. Jenkins plays right against the righty and Ruiz catches Kendrick. Top two in the Phillies batting order hitting ahead of Utley, Howard and Burrell have career on-base percentages of .333 and .324.
The Phils went 1-2-3 in the first.
Burrell and Jenkins singled back-to-back with one out in the second. Feliz hit a double-play ball to short. Reyes fielded and lost the handle on the flip to second and everyone was safe on the error. Ruiz followed with a single into right and everyone moved up a base. Burrell scored and the game was tied at 1-1. Kendrick grounded to first and Delgado came home for the force for the second out. Victorino grounded out to third to end the frame.
Howard singled with two outs in the third, but Burrell popped out to end the frame.
Feliz walked with one out in the fourth, but Ruiz followed and hit into a double-play.
Bruntlett drew a two-out walk in the fifth and Utley followed and drove him in with a double to cut the Mets’ lead to 7-2. Howard grounded to first for the third out.
The Phils went 1-2-3 in the sixth and again in the seventh. Dobbs hit for Durbin with one out in the seventh and struck out.
Bruntlett started the eighth with a single before Utley and Howard went down behind him. Burrell moved him to second with a single. With a lefty on the mound, Werth hit for Jenkins and drew a walk to load the bases. Feliz popped to second for the third out.
With one out in the ninth, Coste hit for Seanez and doubled. Victorino and Bruntlett went down behind him.
Victorino was 0-for-5 and left four men on base.
Bruntlett was 1-for-4 with a walk.
Utley 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Howard 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.
Burrell 2-for-4, he’s hitting .400.
Feliz was 0-for-3 with a walk and left three men on base.
Ruiz 1-for-4 with an RBI.
Adam Eaton (0-0, 3.52) faces righty John Maine (0-1, 9.00) tonight in the final game of the three-game set. Maine was hit hard his first time out in ’08. On Saturday against the Braves he went just four innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and three walks. He’s coming off of a strong 2007 in which he went 15-10 with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.27 ratio in 32 starts for the Mets. He was fantastic in three starts against the Phils last year, going 1-0 with a 2.29 ERA and a 1.07 ratio. The Phils hit just .211 against him. He faced the Phillies on April 9, June 7 and June 29. Some ugly career numbers for the Phils against Maine. Burrell 3-for-18, Howard 3-for-16, Rollins 3-for-18. Utley has been better, 6-for-15 with two doubles and a home run. Eaton pitched very well his first time out in Cincinnati this season but didn’t get the win when Corey Patterson tied the game at 3-3 with a solo home run with two outs in the eighth inning. He has been good against the Mets while with the Phillies, in 2007 he made four starts against them and went 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.29 ratio. Last year he faced the Mets on April 11, June 6, August 28 (Aaron Rowand dribbler game) and September 16.
I’ve added The Fantasy Baseball Generals to the blogroll. All your fantasy baseball blogging needs filled and access to Editor-in-Chief Patrick DiCaprio’s weekly Fantasy Baseball Gurus show. If Sunday’s game wasn’t enough for you, they’ll also let you know why your team needs Edinson Volquez.