Archive for May, 2008

The Hunter and the hunted

Last night’s game featured the last two MVPs of the league, a pair of fantastic pitching performances, a guy some people think has a shot to win the triple crown this season and a hill with a flag pole in it in the middle of center field. But Hunter Pence stole the show. The Astros’ young outfielder Pence pounded a pair of home runs, driving in two of the four runs the Astros would need to win the game. He added a brilliant, game-saving defensive play in right field with the Phillies threatening to tie the game with two outs in the ninth.

A lot of things made the difference in a one-run game for the Phils. Shane Victorino struck out with a man on third and one out in the eighth. Ryan Howard should have but didn’t make a defensive play at first in the seventh that would have prevented Houston to score their fourth run.

Utley and Howard combined to go 0-for-7 with a walk and left eight men on base.

The Phillies lost to the Houston Astros last night, falling 4-3 to drop to 27-23. The teams have split the first two games of the four-game set.

Adam Eaton got the start for the Phillies and was very good. He went seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and a walk. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and two home runs. He struck out two.

He threw a 1-2-3 first and a 1-2-3 second.

Ty Wigginton doubled to start the third, but Eaton got the next three hitters on ground balls to turn Houston away.

Miguel Tejada singled with one out in the fourth, but Eaton got Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee on fly balls to end the inning.

Pence homered down the line in right to start the fifth, tying the game at 1-1. Wigginton followed with a single before Eaton got JR Towles on a fly ball to left for the first out. The pitcher Brandon Backe was next and he put down a bunt between the mound and first base that nobody fielded. Backe had a single and Wigginton moved to second. Bourn hit a ball hard to second, which was about the only way the Phils were going to get a double-play given his speed. They turned it nicely to end the inning.

Eaton walked Berkman with one out in the sixth, but got Lee to fly to left to end the inning.

Eaton started the seventh with the game still tied at 1-1. Pence led off and Eaton got behind him 3-0 before Pence absolutely crushed a ball out to left field, putting Houston up 2-1. Towles singled with one out in the inning and Backe bunted him to second for the second out. Bourn hit the first pitch of his at-bat under the glove of Howard at first and into right field. Towles scored to make it 3-1 and Bourn went to second on the throw home. Howard should have made the play at first to end the inning. Kaz Matsui grounded to second for the third out.

Madson pitched the eighth after throwing one pitch the night before. With one out, Berkman tripled into the right field corner. Lee followed with a fly ball to right deep enough to score Berkman and put Houston up 4-1. Pence struck out for the third out.

Critical run allowed by Madson in the eighth. It proved to be the difference in the game.

Very nice start for Eaton against a good-hitting team in a good place to hit. Madson threw 13 pitches.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Brandon Backe went (1) Rolllins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Victorino in center against the righty and he probably will be for a while. Werth hit the DL with his strained oblique and the Phils called up TJ Bohn. Jenkins in right and Ruiz behind the plate. The plan had apparently been to give Burrell two days off in a row with the Phils seeing two righties to start the series — if that was the plan it was scrapped, either because of the pinch-hit home run for Burrell on Thursday night or the injury to Werth.

Victorino singled with one out in the first, but Utley hit a line drive to second and Victorino was doubled off first to end the frame.

With one out in the second, Burrell hit the first pitch of his at-bat out to left to put the Phils up 1-0. Feliz drew a walk with two outs, but Ruiz grounded to short for the third out.

With one out in the third, Rollins and Victorino singled back-to-back. It put men on first and second with one out for Utley and Utley grounded to second, moving the runners to second and third with two down for Howard. Howard struck out swinging at a 2-2 pitch.

More problems for the middle of the order as Utley and Howard can’t drive in a run after the Phils put men on first and second with one out.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the fourth, fifth and sixth.

With the game still tied at 1-1 in the seventh, Burrell led off and ripped a ball ticketed for the left-field corner. Wigginton made a nice play at third to take a hit away from him. Jenkins and Feliz struck out to end the inning.

Down 3-1 in the eighth, Dobbs hit for Eaton with one out and doubled to center. Rollins moved him to third with a single and righty Doug Brocail came in to pitch to Victorino. Rollins stole second, but just barely. He looked out to me. Not a fan of running there — it does put the tying run in scoring position, but the Astros would have had a tough time doubling up Rollins and Victorino. Victorino struck out, which was a huge second out for Houston. Brocail got behind Utley 2-0 before he walked him intentionally to load the bases for Howard. Howard grounded the first pitch of his at-bat to first to turn the Phils away.

Backe exited with one out in the eighth, having held the Phils to a run on six hits while striking out six.

Again the middle of the order had a chance for the Phils and were turned away. Victorino’s strikeout with one out and a man on third hurt a lot. He’s been hitting well, it will be interesting to see if the temporary loss of the possibility of losing his job to Werth will change that.

Down 4-1 in the ninth, Burrell led of and hit a ball in to left-center. Bourn took a nutty angle and turned it into a double as he let it get passed him. Burrell stayed in the game to run for himself with the Phils down three. Jenkins grounded to short and Burrell moved to third. Feliz was next. He got behind 1-2 and then smashed a ball back through the middle off the head of the Astros’ closer Jose Valverde. The ball bounced passed Tejada and into left field as Valverde lay face down on the field. I’ve seen the replay several times and it’s still not clear to me if the ball hit Valverde’s body before it hit his head or not. It looked exceedingly ugly either way, but Valverde was amazingly able to continue to pitch. With Feliz on first and the Phils down 4-2 with one out, Valverde’s first pitch since taking a line drive off his head was a 96 mile an hour fastball passed Ruiz. Ruiz got down 1-2 before he singled into center. It put men on first and second with one down and Bruntlett ran for Ruiz at first. Coste hit for Madson and struck out trying to check his swing for the second out. Rollins got down 0-2 before he smashed a ball into right for a double, but Pence made a brilliant play, racing to cut the ball off before it got to the wall. Bruntlett had to hold third, which was unfortunate because Berkman didn’t handle the throw from Pence cleanly. Outstanding play by Pence in right, but I think Bruntlett has to at least try score from first on a double with two outs. Victorino flew to center to end the game.

Valverde’s antics on the mound make him a tough guy to root for if he’s not on your team, but I was just astounded that he was willing and able to continue after Feliz crushed a ball off his head.

Rollins was 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI.

Victorino 2-for-5 with a strikeout and left four men on base.

Utley 0-for-3 with a walk and left three men on base.

Howard 0-for-4 with a strikeout and five men left on base. Another tough night for Howard and Utley.

Burrell was 2-for-4 with a double and a home run. He has hit the ball hard in the last two games after struggling most of the month.

Jenkins 0-for-4 and struck out twice. It will be interesting to see what the Phillies do in right field against a lefty with Werth out. My guess would be Taguchi or Bohn rather than Jenkins, but I’m hoping it’s Jenkins. We’ll see.

Feliz 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI.

Ruiz 1-for-4.

Brett Myers (2-5, 5.76) faces righty Brian Moehler (1-1, 4.76) tonight. Moehler has appeared in eight games for the Astros, three of which, his last three, have been starts. As a starter this year he’s 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA on the season but has yet to get an out in the sixth inning. He was exclusively a reliever in 2007, but in 2006 he appeared in 29 games, 21 of which were starts, and finished with a 6.57 ERA. Over his career the 36-year-old has made 192 starts, most of which came with the Tigers, and thrown to 4.81 ERA in those starts. Lefties are hitting .382 against him this season, righties .286. Myers allowed three runs in six innings his last time out, which was Monday against the Nats. The Phillies are 0-5 in the last five games he’s started. Righties are hitting .331 against him for the season, which is going to make it tough to be successful unless you pitch in an all-lefty league. He’s allowed 15 home run in 59 1/3 innings.


The middle rages

Team W-L R R/G NL Rank R OPS (NL) SB CS
               
HOU 27-21 234 4.88 3 747 (7) 54 13
PHI 26-22 232 4.83 4 776 (6) 30 6

Team W-L RA RA/G NL Rank RA Starter ERA Pen ERA
             
HOU 27-21 221 4.60 9 4.68 (13) 3.75 (8)
PHI 26-22 208 4.33 7 4.48 (8) 2.92 (1)

The middle of the Phillies order has been mostly missing in May as the 3-4-5 of Utley, Howard and Burrell have done just about zilch. Not last night, though. Ryan Howard banged the ball around the yard for the second straight game, but the biggest swing of the night came off the bat of Burrell. With the game tied at 5-5 in the eighth, Burrell bounced off the bench and bopped a ball just out to left to put the Phils on top to stay.

The Phils again got great work from their bullpen. The pen gave them four innings and were not charged with a run.

The bad news on the night was a weak start from Kyle Kendrick, whose ERA is over 5.00 for the season, and an injury to Jayson Werth. Werth hurt his right oblique and had to leave early. Losing Werth for a stretch of games would be a big blow to the Phils, forcing Jenkins to play against lefties or Taguchi, Bruntlett or Dobbs to see regular time as a corner outfielder.

The Phillies beat the Houston Astros last night in the first game of a four-game set. They won 7-5 to improve to 27-22 on the year and have won three in a row. Tonight they have a chance to go six games over .500 for the first time this season and win four in a row for the first time this season.

Kyle Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and a walk. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, all doubles. He struck out two. His ERA is up to 5.19.

Michael Bourn led off the first with a single. Kendrick got Kaz Matsui on a line out to second before Miguel Tejada hit a ground ball to short. Bourn was forced at second for the first out with Tejada safe at first. The red hot Lance Berkman was next and he smashed a ball just over Dobbs in left for a double. Tejada scored and Houston led 1-0. Carlos Lee crushed the first pitch of his at-bat, but Victorino took it to end the inning.

Kendrick started the second with the game tied at 1-1. Hunter Pence led off with a walk and moved to third when Ty Wigginton followed with a single. Brad Ausmus flew to right for the first out and Pence tagged and scored. Jenkins’ throw home was terrible, up the third base line, but Pence probably would have been safe even if it had been on line. The pitcher Roy Oswalt bunted Wigginton to second, but Kendrick struck out Bourn for the third out.

Up 4-2 in the third, Kendrick gave up a two out single to Berkman. Lee flew to right for the third out.

With one out in the fourth, Wigginton dumped a ball into right-center. Victorino got to it quickly, but his throw to second was off target and Wigginton was safe with a double. Ausmus hit a slow ground ball to short for the second out and Wigginton moved to third. Oswalt grounded out to end the inning.

With the Phils up 5-2 in the fifth, Bourn led off with a single and stole second after Matsui flew to left for the first out. Tejada fouled out to Ruiz and Berkman popped to short. Kendrick had thrown 79 pitches through five innings.

Kendrick hit Lee with a pitch to start the sixth. Pence followed with a single that moved him to second. Wigginton was next and he ripped the first pitch of his at-bat into the left field corner. Both runners scored and the Phils’ lead was cut to 5-4. With the righty Ausmus at the plate, Madson came in to pitch and Ausmus bunted Wigginton to third for the first out. Geoff Blum hit for Oswalt and Romero came in to pitch to the switch-hitter Blum. Blum didn’t have a hit against lefties on the season (0-for-10). He singled into left, of course, and Wigginton scored to tie the game at 5-5. Romero struck out Bourn for the second out and got Matsui to ground to short for the third out.

Durbin started the seventh with the score tied at 5-5. Berkman doubled with one out, but Durbin got Lee to ground to third and Pence to pop to Ruiz in foul territory to leave him stranded.

Gordon threw a 1-2-3 eighth with a 7-5 lead. He has a 1.86 ERA in May after throwing to a 1.80 ERA in April. In his one appearance in March he allowed five runs in a third of an inning (135.00 ERA).

Lidge pitched the ninth with a two run lead. He gave up a two out single to Tejada, which brought up Berkman as the tying run. Berkman flew to left on the first pitch of his at-bat to end the game.

It will be over-shadowed by Burrell’s big swing and Howard’s night, but the bullpen was fantastic for the Phillies again last night. After Kendrick left in the sixth, the pen went four innings without being charged a run. They allowed three hits and didn’t walk a batter. Romero gave up the single to Blum with the run charged to Kendrick, but otherwise they kept the Astros in check for four frames.

Durbin was used in the seventh inning, which is later than we have generally seen him this year.

Manuel has backed off on his use of Romero significantly in April and that’s a very good sign. After making 13 appearances in April, Romero has made just eight in May and they haven’t been particularly good. In 6 1/3 innings he’s thrown to a 4.26 ERA with a 1.89 ERA. Romero was fantastic but overused in the early part of the season. Maybe that’s something that can be remedied with less use and maybe it isn’t. We’ll see. Four days in a row April 29 through May 2 was a poor idea.

Despite having to throw four innings, the only guy to throw more than ten pitches out of the Phillies’ pen last night was Lidge. He threw 13.

Berkman was 3-for-5 with two doubles against the Phils last night. He’s hitting 506/573/935 with eight home runs in 74 at-bats in May. How badly he hurts the Phils is going to be critical in the three remaining games of the set.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Roy Oswalt went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Feliz (6) Jenkins (7) Dobbs (8) Ruiz. The slumping Burrell gets the night off against the tough righty. Dobbs plays left. Jenkins in right, giving the Phils four lefties in five hitters three through seven in the order. Victorino again in center with Werth on the bench. Ruiz catches.

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

Down 1-0 in the second, the Phils loaded the bases with nobody out on singles by Howard and Feliz and a walk to Jenkins. Dobbs popped to second for the first out. Ruiz followed with a single into right and everyone moved up a base with Howard scoring to tie the game at 1-1. Kendrick grounded to short and Tejada threw home to force Feliz for the second out. Rollins grounded to third to end the frame.

One run out of bases loaded and nobody out.

Victorino started the third with an infield single and move to second when Utley followed with a walk. Howard doubled into left. Victorino scored to tie the game at 2-2 and Utley went to third. Feliz laced the first pitch of his at-bat back through the middle for a single. Utley scored to make it 3-2 and Howard held third with nobody out. Jenkins hit a fly ball to center. Not very deep, but Howard tagged anyway and Bourn’s throw was ridiculously bad. Howard scored easily and Feliz went to second with the Phils up 4-2. Dobbs and Ruiz both grounded out to leave Feliz stranded.

Rollins doubled to center with one out in the fourth. Victorino and Utley went down behind him.

Howard led off the fifth with a long home run to left that put the Phils up 5-2. Jenkins singled with one out, but Dobbs and Ruiz went down behind him.

Kendrick started the sixth with a single, but Rollins followed and hit into a double-play. Victorino singled before Utley flew to Bourn on the warning track to end the frame.

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

With lefty Wesley Wright on the mound, Burrell hit for Dobbs to start the eighth. He hit a 3-2 pitch just out to left, putting the Phils up 6-5. Ruiz followed with a walk. Werth was next and grounded to short. Ruiz was forced at second for the first out. Werth clearly had something wrong with his side or lower back, but stayed in the game. A single by Rollins moved Werth to second, where he was replaced by pinch-runner Eric Bruntlett. Victorino popped to short for the second out, but Utley followed and singled into right. Bruntlett scored to put the Phils up 7-5 and Rollins went to third. Howard struck out to end the frame.

Feliz walked to start the ninth. Taguchi grounded to short behind him and Feliz was forced at second. Coste hit for Gordon and singled, putting men on first and second for Ruiz. Ruiz flew to center for the second out and Bruntlett popped to short to leave the runners stranded.

Rollins was 2-for-5 with a double.

Victorino 2-for-5. He’s 5-for-his-last-10.

Utley 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI.

Howard 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and two RBI.

Feliz 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. He’s 7-for-his-last-13.

Jenkins 1-for-2 with a walk and an RBI.

Dobbs 0-for-3 and left five men on base.

Ruiz 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI.

Adam Eaton (0-2, 5.59) faces righty Brandon Backe (3-5, 4.58) tonight. Righties are hitting just .240 against Backe, lefties .309. In 55 innings he’s walked 29, which is a lot. He’s also given up ten home runs. He’s been better in his four starts at home, 2-1 with a 3.42 ERA and a 1.48 ratio, than he has away (1-4 with a 5.46 ERA and a 1.66 ratio in six starts). He faced the Phillies once this season, on April 7, and it was his worst outing of the year. The Phils scored six runs on ten hits over just three innings. Eaton hasn’t gotten an out in the sixth inning in any of his last three starts. Over his last three outings he’s allowed 12 runs in 14 innings while walking ten. His walk rate is actually up compared to last season. He faced the Astros once this season and pitched well. On April 15 he held Houston to three runs over six innings.


Phils bats leave Nats looking for cover and a league with a ten-run rule

The Phillies haven’t fired on all cylinders yet this season, and one of the ways you can tell is that it’s shocking to see them put 12 runs on the board. The bullpen is pretty much the only area where the team has really excelled in 2008, but the bats are starting to rumble and you have to believe the offense is coming soon.

Last night everybody hit and the Phils topped the Nats in a blowout. Ryan Howard popped two long balls, one way, way out to right center. Howard continues to puzzle. He has hit five home runs in his last 30 at-bats, but he’s hitting .227 in May after hitting .165 in April. Twelve of his 34 hits on the year have been home runs.

The Phillies offense feels like it’s poised to explode, but they are going to need consistent production from Howard if that’s going to happen. So far it hasn’t. Last night’s offensive explosion came off a pair of games in which the Phillies put up a total of one run.

Jamie Moyer tossed just about the ugliest six shutout innings you’ll ever see. In the three-game set, Phillies’ starting pitchers combined to allow three earned runs in 19 innings (1.42 ERA).

The Phillies beat the Washington Nationals 12-2 last night. They are 26-22 on the season after taking two of three in the set.

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went six innings. He wasn’t charged with a run and allowed seven hits and a walk. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both doubles, and he struck out three. Moyer’s ERA for the year is down to 4.37.

Ryan Zimmerman singled with two outs in the first, but Moyer got Dmitri Young to ground to third to preserve the Phils 1-0 lead.

Lastings Milledge and Jesus Flores singled back-to-back to start the second with the Phils up 2-0. Milledge stole third without a throw before Wily Mo Pena flew to center for the first out. Moyer struck out Elijah Dukes and the pitcher Matt Chico to end the inning.

Big strikeout of Dukes for Moyer with one out and a man on third. Nats can’t score after putting a runner on third with nobody out.

Felipe Lopez doubled to start the third, but Moyer got Cristian Guzman and Zimmerman on ground balls and Lopez had to hold first. Young walked, but Milledge flew to center for the third out.

Flores led off the fourth with a double into the corner in left that took a bizarre bounce over the head of Burrell. Would have been a double without the way it came off the wall, but it was odd-looking. Pena hit a ball in the hole between third and short under the glove of a diving Rollins. Not an error or anything close, it was a ball you usually see Rollins field or at least knock down. He didn’t this time and Flores went to third. With nobody out and men on first and third, Moyer struck out Dukes again for the first out. Chico bunted Pena to second for the second out, but Lopez grounded to second to end the inning.

Second time in three innings Moyer struck out Dukes with a man on third and less than two outs.

Moyer finally got a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth. He had thrown 84 pitches through five.

Milledge started the sixth with a single, but Flores followed and hit into a double-play. Pena lined to third for the third out.

Condrey started the seventh with a 12-0 lead and gave up a leadoff single to Dukes. Rob Mackowiak grounded to second and Dukes was forced at second for the first out. Lopez doubled to left and Mackowiack went to third. Willie Harris hit for the pitcher and flew to left for the second out with both runners holding. Zimmerman hit a ball back up the middle that was deflected by Condrey but went for an infield single. Mackowiak scored and it was 12-1 with men on first and third. Young followed with a real single and Lopez scored. 12-2. Milledge struck out for the third out.

Flores started the eighth with a popup to third that baffled Feliz. It was wind blown, but Feliz shoulda-but-didn’t catch it. Flores was given a single, no doubt because the official scorer concluded that Flores could probably use the hit and he or she estimated the viewing audience at less than 20. Condrey must have thought it was particularly funny. No doubt remorseful, the Nats let pitcher Joel Hanrahan hit for himself and he grounded out. With nobody on third, a baffled Dukes apparently saw no reason to strike out and went with hitting into a double-play to end the inning.

Condrey threw a 1-2-3 ninth.

Nice job by Condrey to pitch well enough to go three innings and save the bullpen in the blowout. He threw 37 pitches so you somebody else might have to carry the mop-up duty weight till Saturday or so.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Matt Chico went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Werth (7) Feliz (8) Coste. Werth in right and Victorino in center this time. No idea. Maybe Manuel has a coin he flips? Victorino in center and Werth in right seems clearly the better option for the Phils. Jenkins on the bench against the lefty. Coste catches.

Victorino doubled to left with one out in the first. Utley lined softly to second for the second out before Howard doubled to the gap in left-center. Victorino scored to put the Phils up 1-0. Werth flew to right for the third out.

Feliz led off the second and hit a high 2-1 pitch out to left, putting the Phils up 2-0. Rollins doubled with two outs, but Victorino grounded to third to end the frame.

Utley singled to start the third. After Howard flew to left, Utley stole second without a throw. Burrell flew to deep center for the second out and Utley went to third, but Werth lined to left for the third out.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fourth. Guzman made a nice diving play to take a hit away from Coste for the second out.

With one out in the fifth Victorino homered down the left field line. 3-0. Utley struck out for the second out but then Howard crushed one way out to center to extend the lead to 4-0. Burrell struck out for the third out.

With one out in the sixth, Feliz and Coste singled back-to-back. It put men on first and second for Moyer. Moyer tried to bunt, but a wild pitch from Jesus Colome moved the runners to second and third for him. Colome walked Moyer to load the bases. Rollins lined a ball into right and Dukes played it on a hop. Feliz scored to put the Phils up 5-0. Victorino followed with another single into right. Dukes threw home and Young tried to cut it off, but it glanced off his glove and rolled into the dugout. Coste, Moyer and Rollins all were allowed to score when the ball went out of play, putting the Phils up 8-0 with Victorino on third. Utley followed with a double over the head of Dukes. Victorino scored and it was 9-0. With no lefty in their pen, righty Chris Schroeder came in to pitch to Howard and Howard hit the first pitch of his at-bat out to right-center. 11-0. Burrell flew to right for the second out before Werth walked. Feliz singled and Werth went to second. Coste singled just inside the first base line. Werth scored to make it 12-0 and Feliz went to third. Moyer, the thirteenth batter of the inning for the Phils, hit for himself and struck out to end the frame.

With one out in the seventh, Victorino walked, Bruntlett hit for Utley and walked and Howard walked to load the bases. Burrell struck out and Werth grounded to short.

Taguchi walked with two outs in the eighth, but Rollins grounded to short for the third out.

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

Rollins was 2-for-6 with a double and an RBI in the game. 2-for-13 in the series. He’s hitting 315/364/522 on the season.

Victorino had his best offensive day of the season. He was 3-for-5 with a walk, a double and a home run. He was 6-for-13 with two doubles and a home run in the series and is hitting 258/321/375 for the year.

Utley was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. 5-for-12 with two doubles in the series. 314/390/632 for the season. His .632 slugging percentage is fifth in the NL.

Howard was 3-for-5 with a walk, a double, two home runs and four RBI. 3-for-12 in the series with five strikeouts. 195/300/443.

Burrell was 0-for-4 with a walk. 0-for-11 with four strikeouts in the set. 271/413/542 on the year.

Werth was 0-for-4 with a walk and left six men on base. 0-for-5 in the series. 262/340/523.

Feliz was 3-for-5 with his seventh home run. 5-for-13 with a double and a home run in the series. 245/286/434.

Coste was 2-for-5 with an RBI in his only action in the series. He’s hitting 329/400/539 on the year.

Dobbs was 1-for-2 in the series with a game-winning hit in game two. 356/391/508 on the season.

Jenkins was 4-for-7 with two doubles in the series. 282/318/379.

Ruiz was 2-for-7 in the series. 238/304/305. Before the start of May, Ruiz had 64 at-bats on the year and Coste 40. In May, Ruiz has 37 at-bats and Coste 36.

The last four times the Phillies have faced a left-handed starting pitcher (Chico, Purcey, James and Glavine) Coste has gotten the start behind the plate. The issue is complicated by a stomach flu by Ruiz that made him unavailable for at least one of those games even if Manuel had wanted to start him.

Kyle Kendrick (3-2, 4.76) faces righty Roy Oswalt (4-4, 5.43) tonight in Houston. Oswalt was hit hard his last time out. Against the Rangers on Saturday Oswalt allowed six runs on 11 hits over six innings. Lefties are hitting .351 against him on the season. In just 63 innings he’s allowed 14 home runs, which is one less than Eaton, Kendrick and Hamels have allowed combined. Kendrick made just 12 pitches in his start on Sunday before rain chased him out of the game. Prior to that he had been pitching very well, allowing three or fewer earned runs in four straight starts while going at least six innings in each outing.


The Phils suddenly can’t hit, but Hamels takes no offense

If nothing else, at least now we know how the Phils are going to have to pitch if they’re going to win games while they’re hitting like this. Last night it took a shutout. Cole Hamels gave the Phillies his second straight brilliant outing, striking out 11 and allowing four hits in seven innings. Gordon and Lidge combined to contribute a pair of scoreless frames.

One run for the Phils, who have now scored nine times in their last four games. Of the three players that hit 3-4-5 just about every day for the Phils, using OPS as the measure Ryan Howard is having the best May. He’s hitting 200/278/471 this month (Utley 229/321/414 and Burrell 203/368/373).

If you’re looking for the offensive silver lining from last night, it’s that one of the biggest hits for the Phils came off the bat of the scuffling Pedro Feliz. Feliz ripped a double into left to start the ninth. Bruntlett ran for him and scored what would be the only run of the game when pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs muscled a single into center field two batters later.

The Phillies beat the Washington Nationals last night, winning 1-0 to improve to 25-22 on the year. With the win they snap their three-game losing streak.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and two walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out 11, which ties his high for the season.

Over his last two starts Hamels has allowed eight hits and four walks in 16 scoreless innings while striking out 17.

Cristian Guzman singled with one out in the first. Ryan Zimmerman was next and flew to the warning track in left for the second out. With Dmitri Young at the plate, Guzman tried to steal second but took off too early. Hamels threw to first, but Howard’s throw to second was terrible, on the shortstop side of second base. Rollins, backing up, caught the ball and saved Howard the error, but it was a miserable throw. Young grounded out on a nice play by Feliz deep at third to end the inning.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 second.

He struck out Elijah Dukes and the pitcher Jason Bergmann to start the third before Felipe Lopez walked. Guzman grounded to third for the third out.

Zimmerman and Young started the fourth with back-to-back singles. It put men on first and second for Milledge. Milledge flew to right for the second out and Zimmerman moved to third. Hamels struck out Jesus Flores for the second out and Wily Mo Pena flew to center to end the inning.

Big strikeout of Flores for Hamels with one out and a man on third.

Hamels struck out Dukes, Bergmann and Lopez in a 1-2-3 fifth.

He threw a 1-2-3 sixth.

Pena doubled to left with two outs in the seventh and Dukes followed with a walk. Righty Aaron Boone hit for Bergmann and Hamels struck him out swinging at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

Gordon started the eighth. Guzman singled with one out. Zimmerman followed with a ground ball back to the pitcher and Guzman was forced at second for the second out. Young walked to put men on first and second, but Milledge grounded to third for the third out.

Lidge started the ninth with a 1-0 lead. He struck Flores out swinging and Pena out swinging. Dukes was next and Lidge walked him on a 3-2 pitch in the dirt. Dukes stole second on a 1-2 pitch to Mackowiak, putting the trying run in scoring position. Dukes took third on the 2-2 pitch that was high before Lidge walked Mackowiak. Willie Harris ran for Mackowiak at first with Lopez at the plate. Lopez hit the first pitch of his at-bat to second. Utley juggled but threw to first in time to get Lopez and end the game. Lopez didn’t run hard out of the box, but probably would have been out even if he had — when Utley bobbled the ball went up in the air and he caught it right away.

After Bruntlett ran for Feliz in the top of the ninth and Dobbs pinch-hit for Gordon, Bruntlett and not Dobbs played third in the bottom of the ninth. Haven’t seen much of Bruntlett at third, but I’m guessing that was a nice call by Manuel. Also nice to see Hamels leave before the eighth despite the great outing — not sure exactly when the bill is going to come due for all the work Hamels has gotten, but I am sure it’s going to be before the end of the season. Hamels threw 110 pitches last night after throwing 120 his previous start.

Gordon and Lidge combined to throw two scoreless innings, but allowed a hit and three walks. Twenty pitches for Gordon and 22 for Lidge, so there’s a chance the Phils may try to stay away from Gordon tonight if they can.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Jason Bergmann went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Jenkins in right against the righty with Victorino in center and Werth on the bench. Feliz stays at third. Ruiz catches.

Utley doubled with two outs in the first. Howard followed with a walk, but Burrell fouled out to the catcher to leave them both stranded.

Jenkins started the second with a bloop single into center. Feliz flew out to center for the first out. Ruiz struck out and Hamels grounded to first.

Victorino walked with one out in the third and stole second (but just barely on a close play). Utley and Howard both struck out to end the frame.

Jenkins singled with one out in the fourth. Feliz popped out and Ruiz flew to right.

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

With one out in the seventh, Feliz and Ruiz singled back-to-back. It put men on first and second for Hamels. Hamels hit for himself having thrown 90 pitches and put down a pretty bunt that moved the runners to second and third with two down. Rollins was walked intentionally to load the bases, but Victorino lined to center to end the frame.

With two outs in the eighth, Burrell walked and Werth ran for him at first. Jenkins popped to second for the third out.

Feliz led off the ninth and ripped a double down the line in left. Bruntlett ran for him at second. Ruiz bunted Bruntlett to third. With righty Jon Rauch on the mound, Dobbs hit for Gordon and blooped a single into center. Bruntlett scored to put the Phillies up 1-0. Rollins flew to left for the second out before Victorino hit a ball in the gap to left-center. Milledge got to the ball after a long run and relayed to Guzman as Dobbs rounded third and tried to score. Guzman’s throw was perfect on a bounce and the ball arrived as Dobbs slid into home. Very close play, but Dobbs was out because Flores blocked the plate beautifully.

Rollins was 0-for-4.

Victorino 1-for-4 with a double and stole a base.

Utley 1-for-4 with a double.

Howard was 0-for-3 with a walk and struck out three times. He’s on pace to strike out 234 times this season.

Burrell 0-for-3 with a walk. Howard and Burrell are a combined 0-for-14 with six strikeouts in the first two games of the set.

Jenkins was 2-for-4. He’s 6-for-his-last-11 and hitting 317/341/439 in May.

Feliz was 2-for-4 with a huge double in the ninth.

Ruiz 1-for-3.

Jamie Moyer (3-3, 4.89) faces lefty Matt Chico (0-5, 6.07) tonight. Chico has made ten appearances for the Nationals this season, seven of which have been starts. The last three times he has pitched has been in relief. In those three relief appearances he’s been good, charged with just one run in 6 1/3 innings. In his seven starts he’s thrown to a 6.87 ERA. He’s allowed four or more runs in five of his seven starts. Overall on the season opponents are hitting .324 against him and he’s allowed seven home runs in 43 innings. He started against the Phils on March 31, opening day for the Phils, and allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings. Moyer has two wins in his last three starts. In the two games he won he gave the Phils his longest outings of the season — he went seven against the Snakes on May 5 and 6 2/3 against the Blue Jays Friday night. Righties are hitting .348 against him on the season and he’s allowed seven home runs overall on the year in 49 2/3 innings. His home run rate is down from 2007 but one of the big keys to his success this season is still going to be keeping the ball in the yard. He started against the Nats on April 3 of this year and allowed six runs, only three of which were earned, on nine hits over 3 2/3 innings.


Are you Redding for some shutout?

Team W-L R R/G NL Rank R OPS (NL) SB CS
               
WAS 19-26 177 3.93 14 665 (15) 10 9
PHI 24-21 219 4.87 T-4 773 (6) 28 6

Team W-L RA RA/G NL Rank RA Starter ERA Pen ERA
             
WAS 19-26 218 4.84 T-12 4.71 (10) 4.19 (11)
PHI 24-21 202 4.49 7 4.71 (9) 2.87 (1)

After grumbling about their luck in seeing five lefties in a row, the Phillies finally got a string of righties and celebrated with their first three game losing streak of the season. Last night it was Tim Redding they couldn’t figure out. In two starts against the Phils this season, Redding is 2-0 and has allowed eight hits and five walks in 13 1/3 shutout innings.

The Phils have scored eight runs in their last three games.

There’s something about waiting for Pedro Feliz to turn into a great hitter that reminds me a little of Linus sitting in the pumpkin patch he believes to be most sincere while he waits for the Great Pumpkin. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Last night Jenkins led off the second with a double and Feliz was unable to move him to third. Just because the world is a funny place, Jenkins led off the fourth with a double as well and again failed to score with an assist to Feliz’s inability to move the runner along. Among the 25 players in either league with at least 100 plate appearances while playing third base, Feliz’s .629 OPS is 24th best.

Feliz is far from the Phillies’ only problem. Just like the fourth inning was something of a hide-your-eyes-do-over of the second, in both the first and third innings last night Victorino and Utley were on first and second with one out. Both times Howard and Burrell failed to bring either of them home.

The Phillies lost to the Washington Nationals last night, falling 4-0. They are 24-22 on the season and have lost three games in a row for the first time this year.

Myers got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and three walks. Five of the hits went for extra-bases, all doubles. He struck out two.

The Phillies have played 46 games this year. Using Game Score as the measure, in 28 of them their opponents’ starting pitcher pitched better than the Phillies’ starting pitcher.

With one out in the first, Christian Guzman reached on an infield single and went to third when Zimmerman hit a ball into left that bounced once and went off the wall for a double. Dmitri Young hit a fly ball to center for the second out. It was deep enough for Guzman to tag and score, putting the Nats up 1-0. Lastings Milledge flew to center to end the inning.

Jesus Flores doubled to left with one out in the second and moved to third when Willie Harris grounded to second. The pitcher Tim Redding grounded back to Myers to leave Flores stranded at third.

Felipe Lopez doubled to left-center to start the third. Guzman followed with a single to right and Lopez went to third. Zimmerman followed with a walk to load the bases, but Myers struck out Young for the first out. Milledge blooped a ball in front of Jenkins in right. Guzman and Lopez both scored to put Washington up 3-0. Rob Mackowiak lined to third for the second out and Flores grounded to short to end the inning.

Harris walked to start the fourth and Redding bunted him to second. Myers got the next two to leave him stranded.

Milledge doubled with two outs in the fifth and Mackowiak followed and hit a ball of the leg of Myers for a single that moved Milledge to third. Myers struck out Flores to leave both runners stranded.

Myers walked Redding with one out in the sixth. Lopez followed with a ground ball to second and Redding was forced at second for the second out. Lopez tried to steal second and Ruiz threw him out to end the inning.

Madson started the seventh and gave up a leadoff double to Guzman. Zimmerman singled to right and Guzman went to third. Young hit into a double-play, but Guzman scored from third to put the Nationals up 4-0. Milledge grounded back to the pitcher for the third out.

Madson returned and threw a 1-2-3 eighth.

For Madson it was the third time in six days that he had gone more than an inning for the Phils. He threw 27 pitches last night to put him at 87 pitches over those three appearances, including 37 against the Braves on Wednesday.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Tim Redding went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Werth on the bench with Jenkins in right against the righty and Victorino back in center. Ruiz catches.

With one out in the first, Victorino and Utley singled back-to-back. It put men on first and second for Howard, but Howard struck out swinging for the second out. Burrell hit a ground ball down the third base line, but Zimmerman made a nice play and threw him out to end the frame.

Jenkins led off the second with a double high off the wall in right-center field. Feliz was next and couldn’t move Jenkins along. He grounded to third for the first out. Jenkins moved to third when Ruiz followed with a ground out to short, but Myers grounded to second to leave him stranded.

Bad at-bat for Feliz helps keep the Phils off the board.

Victorino and Utley singled back-to-back with one out in the third. It again put men on first and second for Howard. Howard flew to the warning track in left. Burrell flew to left not quite as deep for the third out.

Jenkins doubled again to start the fourth. Feliz again couldn’t move him over, but at least he hit it to the right side of the infield this time. He popped to first. Ruiz grounded out and moved Jenkins to third for the second out. Myers grounded to short.

Very odd first four innings. Pretty much the same thing happened in the second and fourth — Jenkins doubled and Feliz didn’t move him to third and the Phils didn’t score. In the first and third Victorino and Utley were on first and second with one out and Howard and Burrell couldn’t bring them home, although Howard did crush the ball in the third and Zimmerman made a nice play on Burrell’s ball in the first.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fifth. Zimmerman made another nice play for the second out, barehanding Victorino’s slow ground ball and making a strong throw to first.

Jenkins walked with two outs in the sixth, but Feliz grounded out behind him.

Down 3-0 in the seventh, Ruiz singled to start the inning. Dobbs hit for Myers and popped to third for the first out. Rollins walked to put men on first and second for Victorino and righty Saul Rivera came in to pitch to Victorino. Victorino hit a ground ball to first for the second out and the runners moved to second and third. Utley flew to left for the third out.

Howard, Burrell and Jenkins went 1-2-3 in the eighth.

Feliz and Ruiz went down to start the ninth. Werth hit for Madson and struck out to end the game.

Rollins was 0-for-3 with a walk, ending a streak of five games in which he had at least two hits.

Victorino 2-for-4.

Utley 2-for-4. He is just 15-for-66 in May (.227).

Howard 0-for-4 and left four men on base. He just missed a three-run homer in the third.

Burrell 0-for-4 and left four men on base. He is 12-for-56 (.214) in May.

Jenkins was 2-for-3 with two doubles, the only extra-base hits in the game for the Phils, and a walk. He’s 5-for-his-last-10.

Feliz 0-for-4 and left three men on base.

Ruiz 1-for-4.

Cole Hamels (5-3, 2.89) faces righty Jason Bergmann (1-1, 7.45) tonight. Bergmann got hammered his first three starts of the season, throwing to an 11.68 ERA and earning himself a trip to the minor leagues. After a successful stint in the minors, Bergmann returned to the Nats and has made one start since. On Thursday he shut the Mets out on three hits over seven innings while striking out nine. He made five starts against the Phils in 2007, going 0-1 with a 4.18 ERA and a 1.10 ratio. Hamels has been fantastic, but comes off a 120-pitch complete game shutout against the Braves. Opponents are hitting .204 against him this season and he has allowed just one home run in his last 24 innings.


How to score with chicks with an abnormally in-depth interest in Game Score

Leave early.

If any of you are following the Game Scores for starting pitchers through the Start Log (or anywhere else), one of the problems you may have noticed is that the stat is pretty useless when a pitcher leaves a start early due to rain or an injury. Here, for example, is a comparison of Kendrick’s Game Score from yesterday and from his April 26 start against the Pirates in Pittsburgh:


Date

Opp

IP

H

R

ER

BB

K

GS
5/18/08 TOR 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 53
4/26/08 PIT 7.0 7 4 3 0 2 51

Kendrick rather clearly pitched better on April 26, but has a better Game Score for yesterday’s game.

Using Game Score as the measure, yesterday’s outing was Kendrick’s second best start of the year.


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