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.