Archive for April, 2008

Utley invites some friends to his latest run-the-bases event

Watching Chase Utley hit home runs might never get old if you’re a Phillies fan, but all those bombs do get a little less effective when they are solo shots. With the top of the order decimated by injury, Utley has been hitting blast after blast out to right field in recent days. He came into last night’s game with three home runs in three days, all of them solo shots. He added yet another solo home run in the first inning last night, but when he hit a towering drive out down the right field line in the fifth, something was different and it changed the game. Two runners were aboard.

Utley is simply on fire, doing his very best to carry the team with Rollins out and Howard struggling terribly. Not much he can do if all his home runs are solo. The Phils rode his bombs to a win last night, with the help of some good relief pitching and a brilliant play by Bruntlett to end the game. Pedro Feliz won it with a pinch-hit home run in the seventh, but if you’re going to overshadow what Utley has done for the Phils over the past few days it’s going to take a little more than a game-winning home run or a game-saving defensive play.

The Phillies beat the Mets last night, winning 5-4 to improve to 9-10 on the year. The Mets take the series two games to one, but it was a big win for the Phils. In addition to breaking the Mets four-game win streak against them, the win was the difference between being 8-11 or 9-10 after the first 19 games. 9-10 sure looks a lot better.

Adam Eaton got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing four runs on six hits and a walk. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a triple. He struck out four. He pitched very well early and it fell apart quickly for him in the sixth.

He struck out Jose Reyes swinging at a pretty 1-2 breaking pitch to start the first. Luis Castillo grounded back to the pitcher before David Wright drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Carlos Beltran grounded to second for the third out.

With two outs in the second, catcher Raul Casanova hit a ground ball deep in the hole between short and third. Bruntlett slid and knocked it down but Casanova had an infield single. Endy Chavez grounded to first for the third out.

Eaton threw a 1-2-3 third.

Wright led off the fourth and lined a single into right. Eaton struck Beltran out looking at a 1-2 pitch before Delgado moved Wright to second with a ground out to first. Ryan Church struck out looking to end the frame.

Eaton threw a 1-2-3 fifth.

He started the sixth with a 4-0 lead and it all fell apart for him. Reyes led off with a high fly ball hit well to right. Jenkins jumped for it at the wall but couldn’t get it and Reyes had a triple. Castillo lined a single to left and Reyes scored. 4-1. Wright followed with a double and Castillo went to third. Beltran lined a single into center and both runners scored. Howard cut off the throw from Werth, which looks like it would have a least had a chance to get Wright. 4-3. Four hits in a row was apparently enough for Manuel, and he brought in Chad Durbin to pitch to Carlos Delgado. Delgado drove a ball to left field that Burrell caught after a long run for the first out. Church was next and Beltran stole second before Church blooped a single into right. Jenkins threw home strong but off line and Beltran slid in safely to tie the game at 4-4. Not a good throw from Jenkins, but Beltran would probably have been safe if the throw was on target. Still the second questionable play from Jenkins in the inning after he looked odd trying to get the Reyes triple. Durbin walked Casanova to put men on first and second with one out for Endy Chavez. Chavez flew to center for the second out and Marlon Anderson hit for the pitcher Pelfrey. Durbin struck him out to set the Mets down.

Durbin was fantastic after pitching in Saturday’s game as well. He is a seemingly odd choice to come in to pitch to lefties Delgado and Church. He gave up the RBI single to Church but faced five batters, four lefties and the switch-hitter Casanova. That’s just a little too much to ask of Durbin, but he managed to pull it off. Manuel could have called on Romero, but with just one lefty in the pen it’s tough when you know that Delgado and Church are still looming late in the games and you need a lefty to try to get them out.

Romero faced the top of the Mets order in the seventh. He walked Wright with two outs and Wright stole second before Beltran struck out to end the frame.

He came back for the eighth and got the lefties Delgado and Church to start the inning before Casanova doubled to left. Switch-hitter Angel Pagan hit for the lefty Chavez and Romero got him on a pop to second to end the frame.

I think that Romero going two innings and, in particular, pitching the seventh, is telling. In this game the primary thing the Phils needed Romero to do was get out Delgado and Church when they came up late in the game, the seventh or eighth cause Lidge was going to pitch the ninth if it was close. They didn’t need Romero to pitch the seventh. Top of the Mets order was Reyes and Castillo, two switch-hitters that are better against lefties than righties, a Wright, a righty who kills lefties. I think that Manuel went with Romero in the seventh instead of Madson or Seanez tells you something about either his confidence level in those guys or their availability — Seanez especially, cause Madson threw 22 pitches on Saturday.

Lidge started the ninth with a 5-4 lead and walked pinch-hitter Damion Easley to start the inning. Reyes was next and reached on an infield single that went off of Lidge, moving Easley to second. Castillo tried to bunt and then struck out swinging for the first out. Lidge got Wright to pop to Howard in foul territory for the second out. Beltran was next and he smashed a ball back up the middle. Bruntlett made a fantastic play, diving to his left behind and a little to the left of second. He got to his feet and threw to first in the dirt, but Howard scooped it to beat Beltran and end the game. Very nice play by Bruntlett and by Howard. Castillo and Wright’s at-bats really hurt the Mets in the inning, especially Castillo being unable to move the runners up with nobody out.

Four shutout innings from the pen. Durbin against all those lefties and Romero for two innings were particularly impressive. Manuel is going to have to use his whole pen, and by that I mean Condrey and Seanez, or the other guys are going to get burned out before too long. He may not have a choice about using them tonight in Colorado.

Romero is almost definitely out tonight in Colorado after 31 pitches. Durbin threw 22 and probably won’t/shouldn’t go three days in a row. Lidge threw 20 pitches.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Mike Pelfrey went (1) Werth (2) Dobbs (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Coste (8) Bruntlett. Rollins and Snelling went on the DL prior to the game and TJ Bohn and Brad Harman were called up. Bruntlett at short, Dobbs at third, Werth in center. That’s the eight best hitters that Manuel can put on the field at this point, he gives up defense at third and behind the plate to do so. I like Dobbs hitting second against a righty. I would still go Werth then Utley/Howard/Burrell given the players currently available, but I think this lineup is a lot better than some we’ve seen of late despite the three lefties in a row 2-3-4. I don’t think Coste in the second spot is a terrible idea, either, if Utley isn’t going to hit there.

Werth struck out to start the first. Dobbs was next and he hammered a 1-2 pitch deep to right. Church took it for the second out, but he had to jump to get it. Nicely timed by Church, Dobbs gave it a ride. Utley was next and he homered, of course, hitting a 2-0 pitch out to right-center to the same place he always does. If you’re looking to catch a Chase Utley home run ball I can make some suggestions about where you might want to sit.

Coste singled with one out in the second. Bruntlett followed and hit into an inning-ending double-play.

Eaton led off the third with a walk. Werth followed with a ground ball to second and Eaton was forced for the first out with Werth safe at first. Dobbs flew to right for the second out before Utley moved Werth to second with a walk. Howard flew to left to leave them both stranded.

Burrell started the fourth with a ball smashed into left and off the wall on a hop. He went for two and was thrown out easily at second. Jenkins followed and smashed a single back up the middle. Coste hit a ground ball to second and Jenkins was forced at second for the second out before Bruntlett moved Coste to second with a single. Eaton popped out to Delgado to end the inning.

Burrell getting thrown out at second killed the Phils in that inning. They can’t score on three hits.

The Phils continued to hit Pelfrey hard in the fifth and this time they got through. Werth led off and blooped a single into right. Dobbs followed with a single of his own and it put men on first and second for Utley. Utley got ahead 3-1 before he hit a monstrous towering drive down the right field line and off the foul pole for a three-run homer that put the Phils up 4-0. Howard and Burrell went down behind him before Jenkins singled off the first base bag, but Coste grounded to third to end the inning.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the sixth. Just called up TJ Bohn made his Phillies debut. He hit for Durbin and struck out for the second out.

Pedro Feliciano came on to pitch the seventh with lefties Dobbs, Utley and Howard due to hit. Feliz hit for Dobbs and got ahead 2-0 before he hit one out to the opposite field to put the Phils up 5-4. Utley followed with a single into right before Howard went down looking for the first out. Feliciano stayed in to pitch to Burrell and walked him, but Jenkins flew to left and Joe Smith came in and struck out Coste to end the inning. No way Feliciano faces Burrell without Jenkins hitting behind him. I didn’t know if Shoeneweis was available after throwing 21 pitches on Saturday or not, but even if both he and Wagner were both available I think the Mets have to save Shoeneweis in case he has to pitch to Utley and Howard in the eighth.

As it turns out, he didn’t. The Phils went 1-2-3 in the eighth. Ruiz hit for Romero and grounded to short for the second out.

Werth was 1-for-5 in the game. 1-for-14 with a single in the three-game series. 268/388/390 on the year. The Phils need him badly right now.

Dobbs was 1-for-3. 3-for-5 with a home run in the series. 320/346/480. It’s tough to get his bat in the lineup with Feliz and Jenkins on the team, but he’s been hitting well of late.

Utley was 3-for-3 with two home runs and four RBI. 6-for-11 with four home runs in the set. 351/432/797 (really!).

Howard was 1-for-4. 1-for-13 with a single, six strikeouts and no walks in the series. 186/318/386. Wish you were here.

Burrell was 1-for-3 with a walk. 2-for-11 with two singles and two walks in the series. 339/462/694.

Jenkins was 2-for-4 with two hard-hit singles. 2-for-6 in the series. 246/292/361.

Coste was 1-for-4 and left four men on base. 2-for-6 with a walk in the set. 385/467/731. Ruiz was 0-for-1 in the game and 2-for-5 in the series. 208/255/250 on the year with two extra-base hits, both doubles.

Bruntlett was 1-for-4 with a great defensive play to end the game. 2-for-9 with two walks in the series and 186/255/256 on the year with one extra-base hit, a home run, on the season. If the question is how much better is Bruntlett than Brad Harman at this point in Harman’s career, I’m afraid the answer is probably a lot.

Feliz homered in his only at-bat, his third on the year. 1-for-7 in the series and 1-for-his-last-11 overall. It may seem like he’s struggling, but he’s hitting 217/288/400 on the season and his career line is 251/288/432. So he is, just not as much as you might hope.

Kyle Kendrick (1-2, 4.40) faces lefty Mark Redman (2-1, 4.60) tonight as the Phils play the first of two against the Rockies. Redman has made three starts this season and had been pretty good, although he didn’t go six innings in any of them. Opponents are hitting .288 against him, but he’s kept them in the yard. He’s only allowed one home run on the season. He made two appearances against the Phils in 2007, including a start on May 1 when he was with the Braves. He threw five scoreless innings of relief against the Phils on September 12 when he was with the Rockies. Kendrick has been worse than his numbers on the year. Of his three starts, just one has been good. Lefties are hitting .367 against him. Kendrick started the second game of the NLDS in 2007 and got the early hook before Kaz Matsui hit a grand slam off of Kyle Lohse.

Brutal travel schedule for the Phils with the ESPN game starting late last night before they have to travel to Colorado.

Everyone seems to agree that the handling of Jimmy Rollins was a mistake. Me too.


Secret to beating the Mets all but four-gotten by the Phils

Jimmy Rollins hurt his ankle in New York on April 8, returning to second base on a pickoff play where the throw never came. The Phils beat the Mets that night, their ninth in a row against their rivals from New York. Rollins has mostly been sidelined since and, after losing again last night, the Phils have suddenly dropped four straight to the Mets.

While the fans may be at least a little sympathetic about the Phillies’ struggles without Rollins, the standings most certainly won’t. After a better start this year, the Phils are in danger of ending the month with a miserable record similar to what the fans remember from the past couple of Aprils.

The Phils need Rollins back for a lot of reasons, one of which is to get the bat of struggling Eric Bruntlett out of the lineup. Bruntlett is 1-for-his-last-13 with a single and on-basing .256 for the season (update: Phils can need Rollins back all they want, but they put Rollins and Snelling on the DL today and called up Brad Harman and TJ Bohn. That there is a non-trivial problem).

The Phillies lost to the Mets on Saturday, falling 4-2 to drop to 8-10 on the season.

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both doubles. He struck out one and lowered his ERA to 4.79 on the year.

Jose Reyes hit Moyer’s first pitch of the game down the left field line for a double. Ryan Church was next and singled on a line drive off the glove of Taguchi in right, but Reyes held second. Reyes stole third with David Wright at the plate before Wright split the gap in right-center with a double that scored both runners and put the Mets up 2-0. Carlos Beltran popped to Utley for the first out before Carlos Delgado moved Wright to third with a ground out to first base. Angel Pagan grounded to third to end the frame.

Brian Schneider started the second with a single, but Luis Castillo followed and hit into a double-play. Pitcher Oliver Perez singled to left before Reyes flew to left for the third out.

Wright singled with one out in the third. With Beltran batting, Moyer picked Wright off and Howard threw to Bruntlett who applied the tag. Beltran grounded back to the pitcher to set the Mets down.

Moyer threw a 1-2-3 fourth.

He walked Perez on four pitches with one out in the fifth. Reyes flew to center for the second out before Church moved Perez to second with a single. Wright looped a ball into center. Werth was playing really deep, but charged and made a diving catch to end the inning. Werth is playing really deep in center field — that’s a longer run for him than you would expect on a ball hit like that.

Moyer threw a 1-2-3 sixth.

Madson started the seventh with the Phils down 2-0. He got Brian Schneider to ground to first for the first out before Luis Castillo drew a walk. Lefty Endy Chavez hit for the pitcher and grounded to first for the second out, with Reyes moving to second. Reyes homered to right-center to put the Mets up 4-0 before Church grounded to second to end the frame.

Madson returned to throw a 1-2-3 eighth.

Durbin started the ninth with the Phils down 4-2. He walked Schneider with one out and Castillo moved him to second with a single. Lefty Marlon Anderson hit for the pitcher and hit into a double-play to set the Mets down. Durbin’s ERA dropped to 0.69 with the scoreless inning.

Madson threw 22 pitches and Durbin 17.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Oliver Perez went (1) Taguchi (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Feliz (7) Coste (8) Bruntlett. Coste catches Bruntlett. Taguchi plays right against the lefty. Werth in center. I’d rather see Werth leading off that Taguchi.

Down 2-0 in the first, the Phils went 1-2-3.

Howard and Burrell struck out to start the second before Feliz walked. Coste moved Feliz to second with a single to left, but Bruntlett popped to first for the third out.

Taguchi singled with one out in the third, but Werth followed and flew to right for the second out. Utley walked, moving Taguchi to second, but Howard struck out to end the inning.

Coste walked with two outs in the fourth. Bruntlett was next and hit a ball hard in between third and short. Wright dove to his right to spear the ball and threw to second to force Coste to end the inning.

Taguchi singled with one out in the fifth. Werth struck out before Utley singled into center, putting men on first and third for Howard with two outs. Howard flew to left.

Feliz walked with one out in the sixth. Coste hit a ground ball to short and the Mets forced Feliz at second, but did not get the double-play. Coste went to second on a wild pitch before Bruntlett walked, putting men on first and second with two down for the pitcher’s spot. Rollins hit for Moyer and grounded to first to end the inning.

Utley homered to right with two outs in the seventh, his third home run in three days. It made the score 4-1. Howard struck out for the third out.

The Phils finally got their chance in the eighth. Burrell led off with a walk and Feliz followed with a ball hit slowly to third. Wright threw to first for the first out with Burrell moving to second. With righty Joe Smith on the mound, Dobbs hit for Coste. The Mets brought in lefty Pedro Feliciano, but Dobbs stayed in the game and blooped a single into center. Burrell went to third, but when Bruntlett followed with a walk it loaded the bases with one out for the pitcher’s spot. Ruiz hit for Madson and the Mets pulled Feliciano for righty Aaron Heilman. Ruiz stayed in the game and blooped one into left. It looked like Pagan started late and the ball fell in front of him. Everyone moved up a base with Burrell scoring to make it 4-2. Jenkins hit for Taguchi against the righty Heilman and struck out swinging 3-2. Werth struck out swinging 2-2 to end the inning.

Jenkins strikeout hurt the most with bases loaded and one out. The Phils had a chance there and just didn’t get it done. Dobbs hitting for Coste in the inning strikes me a little odd — I’d rather have Coste against the righty with Dobbs still available than Dobbs against the lefty. Probably doesn’t matter if you can’t hit for Bruntlett because there’s nobody else to play short. If there is someone else on the team that can play short I think you have to hit for Bruntlett there. Even if you have to leave Bruntlett in the game, and I think you do, I still think you have to let Coste hit for himself. Manuel also could have hit Jenkins for Ruiz after Heilman left the game and let Taguchi hit for himself instead of having Jenkins hit for him. Manuel got guys up with a chance to put the Phils ahead and they just couldn’t do it, but partly they got the opportunity they did cause Dobbs got a hit off a lefty and Ruiz got a hit off a righty.

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

Taguchi was 2-for-4.

Werth was 0-for-5, struck out three times and left five men on base.

Utley was 2-for-4 with a walk and a home run.

Howard was 0-for-5 and struck out three times.

Burrell was 0-for-4 with a walk and struck out three times.

Feliz 0-for-2 and walked twice.

Coste 1-for-2 with a walk.

Bruntlett was 0-for-2 and walked twice.

Adam Eaton (0-0, 4.12) faces righty Mike Pelfrey (2-0, 1.50) tonight. Pelfrey has made two starts on the season, both of them good, and one against the Phillies. He faced the Phils on April 9 and allowed two runs over five innings.


Trumped

The Phillies tried to go over .500 for the fifth time since opening day last night. Again, no luck. This time they at least had a good reason as Johan Santana, perhaps baseball’s best pitcher, shut them down.

Santana’s line doesn’t look fantastic for the game. He allowed the first two runners to reach base in the eighth before Dobbs hit a three-run shot off of Heilman, with two of the runs charged to Santana. But Santana was better than his line, striking out ten without walking a batter and out-dueling Phillies’ ace Cole Hamels in what will no doubt be the first of many between the two.

The Phillies lost to the New York Mets last night, 6-4. They are 8-9 on the season.

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and three walks. Only four of the runs were earned and three of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and a triple. He struck out four.

Ryan Church walked with one out in the first and went to second on a passed ball by Ruiz. David Wright brought Church in with a double to center, putting the Mets up 1-0. Carlos Beltran hit a line drive to short and Bruntlett doubled Wright off of second to end the frame.

Brian Schneider singled with two outs in the second, but Hamels got Luis Castillo on a fly ball to left for the third out.

With one out in the third, Hamels walked Jose Reyes on four pitches. Reyes stole second, but was hit in the head by Chase Utley’s knee as he slid into second base. He stayed in the game. Ryan Church flew to center for the second out before Wright lined a ball into center. Werth made a bad play, diving for the ball and missing. It skipped past him for a triple. Reyes scored to put the Mets up 2-0. Beltran flew to left to set the Mets down.

Schneider singled with two outs in the fourth, but Castillo grounded to third to end the frame.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 fifth.

Wright started the sixth with a single. Carlos Beltran was next and hit a ground ball deep in the hole between short and third. Bruntlett made a nice play to field and throw to second in time to force Wright. Carlos Delgado popped to second for the second out before Angel Pagan singled to left, moving Beltran to second. Hamels got Schneider on a fly ball to left to end the frame.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 seventh.

He started the eighth down 2-1 having thrown 93 pitches. Church started the inning with a single and moved to third when Wright followed with a double. Hamels walked Beltran intentionally to load the bases with nobody out and JC Romero came in to pitch to the lefty Delgado. Delgado grounded out to first for the first out. The runners moved to second and third and Church scored to make it 3-1. Pagan doubled into right center, scoring Wright and putting Beltran on third with the score 4-1. Schneider singled to left, scoring Beltran and moving Pagan to third, making the score 5-1. Castillo grouded to third for the second out with Pagan having to hold third. Romero struck out Santana for the third out.

Two hits in the inning against Romero, including a double, but the runs are charged to Hamels who left with the bases loaded and nobody out.

Lidge started the ninth with the Phillies down 5-4. With one out, Church singled and Wright followed with a walk. Beltran smashed a ball to first base off the heel of Howard’s glove for an error that loaded the bases. Delgado flew to left, deep enough to score Church and make it 6-4. A wild pitch by Lidge moved the runners to second and third before Pagan flew to left to end the frame.

Romero threw 17 pitches and Lidge just 12. Neither pitched well, but both kept their ERA of 0.00 for the year.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Johan Santana went (1) Taguchi (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Feliz (7) Ruiz (8) Bruntlett. With Rollins still unavailable, Bruntlett plays short. Taguchi plays right with Jenkins on the bench against the lefty. Werth in center. Again with both Werth and Taguchi in the lineup Manuel puts Werth in center and Taguchi not in center. Coste on the bench after getting four hits on Thursday.

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

Burrell singled with one out in the second, but Feliz and Ruiz went down behind him.

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

In the fourth, Utley reached on an error by Delgado with one out. Howard struck out behind him and Burrell flew to left.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fifth and again in the sixth.

Utley led off the seventh and hit an 0-1 pitch out to right-center, cutting the Mets’ lead to 2-1. Howard, Burrell and Feliz went down behind him.

Ruiz and Bruntlett singled back-to-back to start the eighth, putting men on first and second for the pitcher’s spot. Coste hit for Romero and the Mets called on the righty Heilman. Dobbs hit for Coste and he hit an 0-1 pitch out to right-center for a three-run homer that made the score 5-4 in favor of the Mets. Jenkins hit for Taguchi against the righty and hit one nearly out to the warning track in center. Werth grounded to second behind him. The lefty Pedro Feliciano came in and got Utley swinging to end the inning.

Huge hit for Dobbs and Jenkins nearly tied the game right behind him.

Wagner came in to pitch the ninth and set Howard, Burrell and Feliz down 1-2-3.

Taguchi was 0-for-3 and struck out twice. He’s hitting .235.

Werth was 0-for-4.

Utley was 1-for-4 with his fifth home run.

Howard 0-for-4 and struck out twice to drop his average to .197.

Burrell 1-for-4.

Feliz 0-for-4.

Ruiz 1-for-3.

Bruntlett 1-for-3.

Jamie Moyer (1-0, 5.52) faces lefty Oliver Perez (1-0, 3.38) today. These pitchers faced each other on April 8 and both pitched well. The Phils won the game 5-2.


Bench-clearing maul

Brett Myers is the latest Phil to give the team a fantastic start. Including his outing yesterday afternoon, the rotation has provided eight quality starts in the last ten games. Over those ten games, their starting pitchers have thrown 61 1/3 innings and been charged with 20 earned runs while allowing 49 hits and 21 walks. That’s a 2.93 ERA and a 1.14 ratio. The Phils went 6-4 in those ten games — their record would have been much better if they had been able to put some runs on the board.

Yesterday the Phillies cleared off their bench and finally got some hitting to go with the pitching. Taguchi, Dobbs and Coste all got starts and combined to go 8-for-15, score four runs and drive in three.

The Phils jumped out early and were up 6-1 by the end of the fourth inning. They cruised to a win behind seven strong innings from Brett Myers.

Each of the last two games the Phils have won they have gotten a contribution from their bench. On Tuesday Chris Snelling started the ninth with a pinch-hit home run before the Phils added three more in the inning to get a 4-3 win.

The Phillies beat the Houston Astros yesterday, winning 10-2 to improve to 8-8 on the season. The Phils win the three-game set two games to one. It’s the second straight series win for the Phillies after taking two of three from the Cubs earlier this week.

Brett Myers got the start for the Phils and went seven innings, allowing a run on five hits and a walk. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He struck out eight, which is the most he has struck out in a start since opening day last year against the Braves.

Myers threw a 1-2-3 first.

In the second, Carlos Lee and Miguel Tejada started the inning with back-to-back singles. It put men on first and second for Geoff Blum and Blum lined a ball to short. Bruntlett made a nice play to get the first out. Myers struck out Darrin Erstad for the second out before Humberto Quintero singled to right. Jenkins was on the ball quickly and threw home. Not a great throw, and up the first base line a little, but Lee was out easily trying to score to end the inning.

Michael Bourn walked with one out in the third. Myers struck out Mark Loretta for the second out before Bourn stole second. Myers got Lance Berkman swinging at a 2-2 pitch to set the Astros down.

Tejada homered to right with one out in the fourth, cutting the Phillies’ lead to 4-1. Myers struck out Blum and got Erstad to fly to left to end the frame. Myers had six strikeouts through four innings.

Quintero doubled to start the fifth, but Myers got the next three to set the Astros down.

Myers threw a 1-2-3 sixth and a 1-2-3 seventh. Nine in a row.

Gordon came in to pitch the eighth, replacing Myers, who had thrown 112 pitches. Tomas Perez led off the inning with a pinch-hit single, but Gordon got the next three to end the frame.

Condrey started the ninth with the Phils up 10-1, seeing his first action since Saturday. Lee led off and got ahead 2-1 before he homered to center. 10-2. Tejada followed with a single to left. Condrey struck out Blum and got Erstad on a ground ball back to the mound. With two outs and Tejada on first, Quintero grounded to short to end the game.

Condrey threw 17 pitches, Gordon 13. Both came into the game well-rested and should be able to go today if it comes to that.

The Phillies lineup against righty Brandon Backe went (1) Taguchi (2) Dobbs (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Coste (8) Bruntlett. The Phils clear the bench, putting Taguchi in center, Dobbs at third and Coste behind the plate. Bruntlett plays short with Rollins out with the ankle problem (he was actually unavailable for this game after the death of his uncle).

Taguchi and Dobbs singled back-to-back to start the first. Utley struck out for the first out before Howard singled to right. Taguchi scored to put the Phils up 1-0 and Dobbs went to third. Burrell was next and hit a ground ball to deep short. Tejada fielded and threw to first, but wide. Dobbs scored to make it 2-0 and Burrell had his second infield single in two days as Howard went to second. Jenkins followed with a double to center. Howard scored to make it 3-0, but Tejada’s relay from center nailed Burrell for at the plate for the second out of the inning. Coste hit it hard to third and Blum couldn’t handle it. Coste was safe on the error and Jenkins went to third. Bruntlett lined to first to leave them both stranded.

Myers walked on four pitches to start the second and Taguchi moved him to second with a single. Dobbs was next and he hammered Backe’s first pitch out but foul before flying out to left for the first out. Utley pounded a ball off the wall in right and Myers did a terrible job of reading it. Myers had to stay at third and Utley had a long single to load the bases. Howard hit into a double-play to end the inning.

Awful base-running by Myers on the ball that Utley hit costs the Phils a run.

Burrell walked to start the third and Jenkins followed and hit a ground ball to third. Blum fielded and threw to second, but his throw was bad for his second error of the game and everybody was safe. Coste was next and doubled off the wall in left. Burrell scored and Jenkins moved to third with the Phils up 4-0. Bruntlett struck out with nobody out and men on second and third. Myers followed and grounded softly to second. The runners had to hold. Taguchi grounded to third. Blum made another bad throw, but Berkman dug it out to end the inning.

Phils score a run but can’t get more after putting men on second and third with nobody out. Bruntlett’s strikeout hurt.

Dobbs started the fourth with a single and Utley followed and homered to right-center field. It put the Phillies up 6-1. Righty Dave Borowski came in to pitch for Houston and walked Howard. Burrell was next and hit a double-play ball to third, but Blum bobbled and had to throw to first to get an out. Howard was safe at second. Fourth bad play by Blum through 3 1/3 innings. Borowski walked the lefty Jenkins intentionally to set up the double-play, but Coste blooped a single into right to load the bases for Bruntlett. Bruntlett struck out swinging at an 0-2 pitch for the second out. Hamels has allowed two earned runs in 22 innings in his three starts.

Second really bad at-bat in two innings for Bruntlett, who was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and seven men left on base through four innings.

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

Howard started the sixth with a home run to right that put the Phils up 7-1. Burrell was next and he hit one just barely out to left. 8-1. Jenkins went down on strikes before Coste singled to left, but Bruntlett and Myers went down behind Coste to end the inning.

Former Phil Geoff Geary set the Phils down 1-2-3 in the seventh to drop his ERA on the season to 2.84.

Jenkins doubled to left with two outs in the eighth. Coste followed with a two-run blast to center to put the Phils up 10-1. Bruntlett grounded to third to end the inning.

Taguchi was 2-for-5 in the game and 2-for-5 in the series. He’s hitting 286/286/429 on the season.

Dobbs was 2-for-5 and just missed a home run. 2-for-7 in the series. 250/286/300 on the year.

Utley was 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI. 3-for-12 with a double and a home run in the series. 317/400/651.

Howard was 2-for-4 with a home run and a walk. 3-for-10 with three walks in the series. 211/361/456 on the year.

Burrell was 2-for-4 with a walk and a home run. 5-for-12 with two home runs in the series, including a two-run shot in the ninth on Tuesday to tie the game. 373/492/804.

Jenkins was 2-for-4 with two doubles and a walk. Hopefully that breaks him out of the mini-slump. 2-for-12 in the set. 236/288/364.

Coste was 4-for-5 with a double, a home run and three RBI in his only action in the series. 400/478/850.

Bruntlett was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts and eight men left on base yesterday. It was forgotten by the huge offensive output, but that was just a miserable game for him. He did make a nice play on the line drive in the second to help out Myers. 1-for-10 in the series. 176/222/265 on the year.

Feliz was 3-for-8 in the series with a ninth-inning double that won the first game. 226/281/377.

Ruiz was 1-for-5 with a walk in the series. A hide-your-eyes 186/239/233 on the year.

Werth was 2-for-8 in the series and is hitting 370/514/556 for the year.

Cole Hamels (2-1, 0.82) faces lefty Johan Santana (1-2, 3.05) tonight as the Phils play the first of three with the Mets. Santana has made three starts for the Mets and comes into the game with an 0.97 ratio. Opponents are hitting .211 against him and he’s walked just four in 20 2/3 innings. He has allowed four home runs, all of which have been hit by righties. Hamels has been fantastic. Opponents are hitting .143 against him and he’s walked just seven. He made three starts against the Mets in ’07, going 0-1 with a 4.00 ERA and 1.67 ratio. He faced them on April 9, June 7 and June 29.


Bourn yesterday

The Phillies tried to go over .500 on the year for the fourth time this season and the second time in four days last night. Didn’t take. A day after Shawn Chacon shut them down for eight innings, the Phils managed just one run off Roy Oswalt in seven innings.

Former Phil Michael Bourn killed the Phils last night, scoring the only two runs the Astros needed to win the game. In the first he singled and stole second before coming around to score on a single. In the fifth he hit a solo home run off the foul pole in right.

The Phils have played three one-run games in their last three times out, going 1-2. In those three games the bullpen was tremendous, throwing ten innings in which they allowed one run on five hits and seven walks. All five of the hits were singles. The offense, missing the guys at the top of the order, Rollins and Victorino, is the culprit. Cause while the pitching overall has been about as good as you can ask for, holding opponents to 11 runs over three games, the offense has scored ten.

If the Phils are going to snap out of it in the short term it looks like they’re going to have to figure out how to do it without Rollins or Victorino. Victorino won’t be back till the end of the month at the earliest. The way Rollins hobbled off the field after his pinch-hit appearance made it look like it’s going to be a while before we see him at a hundred percent, either.

It’s making for some strange looking batting orders for the Phils. And with Feliz, Howard, Jenkins, Ruiz and Bruntlett all in the lineup just about every day and all hitting under .230, the strange looking batting orders aren’t getting a whole lot done.

The Phillies lost to the Houston Astros last night, falling 2-1 to drop to 7-8 on the season.

Kyle Kendrick got the start and had his best outing of 2008. He went seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He struck out five.

Michael Bourn led off the first for the Astros and reached on an infield single with the help of a less than excellent throw from Utley. Mark Loretta flew to right for the first out before Bourn stole second. Kendrick struck out Lance Berkman for the second out, but Carlos Lee doubled off the wall in left and Bourn scored to put Houston up 1-0. Miguel Tejada struck out to end the frame.

Kendrick threw a 1-2-3 second with the scored tied at 1-1.

Loretta walked with two outs in the third. Berkman was next and dribbled a ball to third that went for a single. Lee grounded to Utley for the third out.

Kendrick set the Astros down 1-2-3 in the fourth.

He got the first two in the fifth and got ahead of Bourn 0-1 before Bourn homered off the foul pole in right. It put the Astros up 2-1. Loretta went down on a ball hit hard back to the pitcher for the third out.

The Astros went 1-2-3 in the sixth and again in the seventh.

Romero came in to pitch the eighth after the Phils hit for Kendrick in the bottom of the seventh. He struck out pinch-hitter Jose Cruz Jr and Bourn before Loretta drew a walk. Romero got Berkman to ground to short to end the frame.

Madson started the ninth with the Phils still down 2-1. He got the Astros 1-2-3, getting the second out on a line drive that Tejada smashed but right at Feliz. Nice inning for Madson, who has settled down after a rough start. Over his last four appearances he’s been charged with one run on three hits over five innings.

Romero threw 22 pitches and Madson just eight. Everyone in the pen should be available this afternoon, but Romero might be a little less available than others. Manuel doesn’t seem to mind using him two days in a row, though, and Romero has been well-rested lately.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Roy Oswalt went (1) Werth (2) Feliz (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Ruiz (8) Bruntlett. Rollins still on the bench, and that messes up just about everything. Feliz, who came into the game 12-for-25 in his career against Oswalt, makes an appearance in the two-hole.

Werth singled to start the first. Feliz grounded to third for the first out and Werth moved to second. Utley flew to deep center and Werth went to third. Howard singled into center to score Werth and tie the game at 1-1. Burrell reached on an infield single to deep short, moving Howard to second, but Jenkins grounded to second to leave both runners stranded.

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

Utley doubled with two outs in the third and Howard followed with a walk. It put men on first and second for Burrell, who struck out swinging at an 0-2 pitch.

Ruiz walked with one out in the fourth, but Bruntlett and Kendrick went down behind him.

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

In the sixth Burrell singled with one out and Jenkins moved him to second with a soft ground out to first. Ruiz flew to right to end the inning.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the seventh. Snelling hit for Kendrick and grounded back to the pitcher for the second out.

Lefty Wesley Wright came on to pitch for the Astros in the eighth and struck out Feliz and Utley to start the inning. He got Howard looking at a 3-2 pitch that looked inside.

Righty Doug Brocail came in to protect the 2-1 Astros lead after Jose Valverde got lit up the night before. He blew Burrell away swinging at an 0-2 pitch before Jenkins grounded softly to second. Rollins hit for Ruiz and lined a single into right-center. Taguchi ran for Rollins, who hobbled a little getting off the field, and Dobbs hit for Bruntlett. Interesting question who plays short in the top of the tenth if Dobbs had doubled Taguchi in, but we’ll never know. Dobbs struck out swinging at a 1-2 pitch to end the game (I’m thinking it would probably be Feliz with Dobbs at third).

Werth was 1-for-4.

Feliz was 0-for-4.

Utley was 1-for-4 with a double, the only extra-base hit of the game for the Phils.

Howard was 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout, but he got a tough call on the strikeout in the eighth.

Burrell was 2-for-4 and struck out twice.

Jenkins was 0-for-4 and left three men on base. He’s 2-for-his-last-19 and his average is down to .216.

Ruiz was 0-for-2 with a walk.

Bruntlett 0-for-3.

The offense is miserable. The Phils need to give a bunch of the guys on the bench, Coste, Dobbs, Snelling and Taguchi, some starts. And I think they will, maybe as soon as this afternoon. Dobbs has had terrible at-bats lately, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see either or both of him and Snelling starting against the righty today.

This afternoon Brett Myers (1-1, 5.00) faces righty Brandon Backe (1-1, 2.25) in the final game of the three-game set. After missing most of 2007 after Tommy John surgery, Backe has allowed just four runs over 16 innings in his three starts this season. Opponents are hitting just .254 against him, but he’s walked 11 in his 16 innings. He’s been much better against lefties early, they are hitting just .174 against him. Myers made the best of his three starts his last time out, holding the Cubs to three runs on five hits over eight innings on Friday. He has been hurt badly by the long ball so far, allowing five in just 18 innings. His home run rate is just to go down — so far he’s allowed 2.5 home runs per nine innings. Coming into the season he allowed home runs at his highest rate in 2004, when he allowed 31 in 176, or about 1.6 home runs per nine innings. Backe did not face the Phillies last season. Myers only got three starts on the year in 2007, but one of them came against Houston on April 13. He got bombed, charged with seven runs in 3 1/3 innings. Carlos Lee hit two home runs off of him in two at-bats in that game.


Investigation underway to determine who dropped the ball in allowing Pat Burrell to bat in the ninth inning

Team W-L R R/G NL Rank R OPS (NL) SB CS
               
HOU 5-8 53 4.08 10 728 (9) 12 3
PHI 6-7 59 4.54 T-6 786 (4) 7 3

Team W-L RA RA/G NL Rank RA Starter ERA Pen ERA
             
HOU 5-8 55 4.23 9 4.26 (11) 4.50 (11)
PHI 6-7 62 4.77 11 3.81 (8) 3.53 (5)

Do the rules even permit that? If the Astros want to protest the game on those grounds, or even the grounds that the Phils scored the winning run on a play where their base-runner was completely and totally out, I have no problem with that whatsoever. Who knew what and when did they know it?

Shawn Chacon dominated the Phillies last night, tossing eight shutout innings. Turned out it wasn’t enough. The Phils started the bottom of the ninth down 3-0 and Chris Snelling hit Jose Valverde’s first pitch out to right. Chase Utley was hit by a pitch and two batters later Burrell tied it up at 3-3 with an opposite field blast. Jenkins got on base and stormed around to score the winning run on a double into the left field corner by Pedro Feliz.

Brilliant comeback by the Phils to get a win after their hitters looked dead for the first eight innings of the game. Not to be lost in the excitement of the ninth is that their pitching kept them in the game. Adam Eaton gave the Phils a quality start for the third time in three tries. Durbin and Seanez combined to throw three shutout innings out of a bullpen that has been fantastic in the early going.

The Phillies beat the Houston Astros last night, winning 4-3 to improve to 7-7 on the season.

Eaton got the start for the Phils and went six innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks. All seven of the hits were singles and he struck out three.

Eaton got the first two in the first before Lance Berkman drew a walk. Carlos Lee singled into center, moving Berkman to third, and Miguel Tejada followed with another single. Berkman scored to put the Astros up 1-0. Geoff Blum popped to first to end the frame with two runners stranded.

With two outs in the second, pitcher Shawn Chacon singled back through the middle. It brought up former Phil Michael Bourn, and Bourn grounded to Utley to set Houston down.

Eaton threw a 1-2-3 third, getting Berkman and Lee, the guys who hurt him in the first, on a couple of ground balls.

Tejada walked to start the fourth, but Eaton got the next three to leave him stranded at first.

Bourn singled with one out in the fifth. Mark Loretta was next and hit a ground ball to short. Bruntlett did a nice job with a quick throw to second to start the double-play that ended the frame.

Berkman started the sixth with a single. Lee was next and he singled into center. Werth dropped the ball for an error, allowing Berkman to go to third. The Phils came into the game having made 15 errors on the season, but just one by an outfielder (Taguchi). Tejada flew to left for the first out. Blum was next and singled past Howard and into right. Berkman scored to put Houston up 2-0 and Lee went to third. Hunter Pence followed hit a fly ball to deep center. Werth tracked it down, but Lee scored to make it 3-0 with two down and Berkman on first. Brad Ausmus popped to short for the third out.

Chad Durbin started the seventh. He got the first two before Loretta and Berkman singled back-to-back. It put men on first and second for Lee, but Lee grounded to third to end the frame.

Durbin came back to throw a 1-2-3 eighth, dropping his ERA on the season to 0.75.

Seanez started the ninth. He got the first two before he walked Bourn. Bourn stole second and Seanez walked Loretta on a high 3-2 pitch. Berkman smashed a 1-1 pitch that looked ticketed for right, but Howard made a nice play on one hop to end the frame. The pick by Howard on Berkman’s ball looked like a nice play in a game the Phillies had lost at the time. After the bottom of the ninth it looks bigger.

Another fantastic appearance for Durbin. He has allowed eight hits over his first 12 innings with the Phils, all of them singles. He threw 30 pitches, so we won’t see him tonight. Seanez threw 22 pitches, so he’s a little more likely but my guess is the Phils would try to stay away from him if they can.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Shawn Chacon went (1) Werth (2) Ruiz (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Feliz (8) Bruntlett. Wow is that ugly. The big surprise is Rollins is still not able to play after the off-day Monday. Many were expecting him to return for this game, but he remains on the bench. Werth plays center, Jenkins right and Bruntlett short. I was joking the other day when I suggested to look for Feliz hitting leadoff soon, but Ruiz hitting second isn’t a whole lot better. He came into the game with a .250 on-base percentage for the year. Werth does seem to make sense in the leadoff spot, given the options.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the first and again in the second.

Feliz led off the third with a single. Bruntlett was next and got ahead 3-1. He swung at the 3-1 pitch and hit a double-play ball to third. Eaton grounded to third to end the inning. Swinging 3-1 didn’t work out for Bruntlett. On the plus side he at least had a good pitch to hit, he just didn’t hit it well.

Werth led off the fourth with a single, but Ruiz followed and hit into a double-play. Utley flew to right for the third out. Second inning in a row the Phils got a single from their leadoff man and hit into a double-play behind him.

Howard and Jenkins struck out in a 1-2-3 fifth.

Down 3-0, Feliz and Bruntlett started the sixth with back-to-back singles. It put men on first and second with nobody out for the pitcher’s spot, and Dobbs hit for Eaton and struck out swinging at a 2-2 pitch. Werth popped to second for the second out. Ruiz hit a ball in the hole between short and third, but Tejada made a nice play and a strong throw to end the inning. The strikeout by Dobbs is pretty bad, cause even a productive out can move a runner to third with one out. They wouldn’t have scored on Werth’s popup anyway, but not striking out might have been the way to go if they got to pick.

Howard walked with one out in the seventh, but Burrell struck out behind him and Jenkins flew to Bourn at the track in center.

Bruntlett walked with one out in the eighth and Rollins hit for Chad Durbin. Bruntlett stole second before Rollins grounded to third. The stolen base probably prevented a double-play that would have ended the inning, but it didn’t matter much when Werth followed and flew to right.

With righty Jose Valverde on to protect a 3-0 lead, Chris Snelling hit for Ruiz to start the ninth and hit the first pitch he saw just out to right. 3-1. Valverde hit Utley with his first pitch to him, bringing up Howard as the tying run. Howard got behind 0-2 looking at two pitches and then struck out swinging. Burrell got behind 0-1 before he hit a ball well out to the opposite field, tying the game at 3-3. Jenkins got behind 0-2 looking but battled all the way. The eleventh pitch of the at-bat was a fastball way inside. Jenkins swung and missed, but the ball went off of Ausmus’s glove and Jenkins took first with one out. Feliz was next and he hit a ball hard down the third base line and into the corner. Lee got to it and made a weak throw to Tejada, but Tejada made a strong throw to the plate. The ball beat Jenkins to home plate, but the throw was slightly on the first base side of the plate. Jenkins slid in and was called safe. Phils win. All fantastic. 1) Blum should have made the play at third 2) the relay from Lee to Tejada was terrible 3) Tejada’s throw to the plate was great 4) Jenkins should have, and may have, been held at third 5) fantastic hustle by Jenkins, who also showed more speed than I knew he had and 6) Jenkins was really out.

Werth was 1-for-4 to drop his average to .391.

Ruiz was 0-for-3 and left three men on base. His slugging percentage on the year is down to .244. He has two extra-base hits on the season, both doubles.

Utley was 0-for-3.

Howard was 0-for-3 with a walk and struck out twice. 1-for-his-last-9 with five walks and four strikeouts.

Burrell was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and his fifth home run.

Jenkins was 0-for-4 and struck out twice but won the game with his ninth inning sprint around the bases. 2-for-his-last-15 with two singles.

Feliz was 3-for-4 with a game-winning double in the ninth.

Bruntlett was 1-for-2 with a walk.

Kyle Kendrick (1-1, 6.14) faces right Roy Oswalt (0-3, 9.00) tonight. Oswalt has been bombed in his first three starts. Opponents are hitting .400 against him and he’s allowed 30 hits in 16 innings, including five home runs. He curiously isn’t walking anyone, having allowed just two walks over his first three starts. He comes off of a nightmare start against the Marlins on Friday in which he went just four innings and was charged with eight earned runs. He made two starts against the Phils last season and was hit hard, charged with ten earned runs in 12 innings (7.50 ERA). He faced the Phils on April 13 and July 3. Kendrick gets an extra day of rest after Eaton skips ahead of him in the rotation to pitch last night’s game. Kendrick has made two stars on the season, neither of them good. His 6.14 ERA isn’t impressive, but it also doesn’t reflect how badly he’s struggled early. He has allowed 11 runs in his first 7 1/3 innings, only five of which have been earned. Lefties are hitting .381 against him. In his last start he walked six in 2 1/3 innings. He has never faced the Astros.


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