Like maybe a gerbil running on a wheel? Shouldn’t be discounted, especially if it they can find a gerbil that can catch at all.
Phillies’ fans have been waiting for Ryan Howard to go on a tear just about all season long. Looks like it may finally be here. After knocking in half of the Phillies’ runs in Wednesday’s game Howard knocked in three of four last night. The Phils took the series with their second straight win.
If Howard wants to continue his trend he’s going to need to drive in 87.5% of the Phillies runs tonight. That would be seven of eight.
Howard has hit 368/486/793 in 107 career plate appearances against the Cardinals.
As a group, the Phillies still aren’t tearing the cover off the ball. They have scored four or fewer runs in seven of their last eight games. Utley, Rollins and the catching tandem of Ruiz and Coste lead the list of struggling Phillies’ hitters.
Lost to many in Howard’s emergence is the fantastic performance by the Phillies’ pitchers. Jamie Moyer was brilliant last night, giving the Phils their fifth quality start in their last six games. Over the last 12 games Phillies’ starters have allowed 30 earned runs in 72 2/3 innings (3.72 ERA) — that includes a start by Eaton on July 7 in which he allowed six runs in 2 2/3 innings.
The Phillies beat the St Louis Cardinals last night, winning 4-1 to improve to 50-43 on the season. The Phils take the series two games to one. St Louis scored five runs in the series.
Jamie Moyer got the start and went seven innings, allowing a run on seven hits and two walks. Only one of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out four. Moyer hasn’t been charged with more than three runs in any of his last seven starts and has his ERA down to 3.95 for the season.
With one out in the first Ryan Ludwick walked and moved to second on a single by Albert Pujols. Moyer struck out Glaus for the second out. Lefty Rick Ankiel was next and he hit the first pitch he saw hard back through the middle and off the foot of Moyer. The ball rolled towards second where Utley charged, fielded and made a glove-hand flip to Howard to nip Ankiel and end the frame. Great play by Utley (but Ankiel looked safe to me).
Chris Duncan singled to right with one out in the second with the Phils up 2-0, but pitcher Braden Looper, hitting eighth of course, was next and hit into a double-play.
Brendan Ryan singled to start the third. Adam Kennedy hit into a double-play behind him. Ludwick flew to center for the third out.
Glaus doubled to center with one out in the fourth. Ankiel popped to short for the second out before Yadier Molina singled passed a diving Utley and into center field. Victorino charged and would have had a play at the plate if he had fielded the ball cleanly. He didn’t. Glaus scored to cut the Phillies’ lead to 3-1. Moyer struck Duncan out swinging for the third out.
Looper started the fifth with a single but got another double-play, this one from Ryan, behind him. Kennedy grounded to first for the third out.
Pujols singled to left with one out in the sixth. Moyer got Glaus on a fly ball to right and struck out Ankiel.
Duncan walked with one out in the seventh. Righty Joe Mather hit for Looper and grounded to second. Would have been a double-play, but Duncan went into second very hard and high after Rollins. Looked like he may have been out of the base paths too. Duncan was forced at second with Mather safe at first. Ryan was next and hit a ball to short. Rollins made a nice play to field the ball, but Howard didn’t handle his throw and Rollins was charged with an error. Mather went to third on the play. Kennedy was next and hit another ball to short. Rollins took this one moving to his right and made a strong throw to first to end the frame with both runners stranded.
Madson pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. He returned to start the ninth against lefty Rick Ankiel with the Phillies up 4-1 and Ankiel led off the inning with a single. Madson got Molina to fly to center before Ankiel stole second. Madson stayed in the game to face another lefty, Duncan, and walked him. It put men on first and second with one out and switch-hitter Aaron Miles hit for the pitcher Chris Perez. Miles has actually been a little better against lefties than righties this season, but Manuel brought in Romero in what was now a save situation. Romero got Miles to fly to center for the second out and Ryan on a popup to second to end the game and earn his first save of the season.
That was a miserable ninth inning for Manuel with Lidge presumably unavailable off of 29 pitches the night before. Madson faces three batters in the inning, two of which are lefties and both reach base before Manuel uses Romero anyway.
Madson dropped his ERA to 2.83 on the season. He’s been charged with three runs in the last 23 innings he’s pitched.
Two scoreless innings for the pen in which they allow one hit and one walk. Madson threw 23 pitches, Romero 10.
The Phillies’ lineup against righty Braden Looper went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Feliz (8) Coste. Jenkins back in the lineup in right against the righty. Coste catches.
Victorino singled with one out in the first. Utley was next and hit a ground ball to short. Victorino was forced for the second out with Utley safe at first. Howard was next and hit a 3-2 pitch just out to left-center. 2-0. Burrell flew to left for the third out.
The Phils went 1-2-3 in the second.
Rollins doubled with one out in the third and moved to third when Victorino followed with a ground out to first. Utley was next and hit a 2-2 pitch into the right field corner for a double. Rollins scored and it was 3-0. Howard grounded to first to end the inning.
With one out in the fourth Jenkins and Feliz singled back-to-back. It put men on first and second for Coste and Coste hit a 3-2 pitch hit behind second that Kennedy turned into an adventure but took for the second out. Moyer dribbled back to the pitcher for the third out.
The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fifth.
Howard led off the sixth and hit the first pitch of his at-bat out to left to put the Phillies up 4-1. Burrell struck out and Jenkins grounded back to the pitcher behind him before Feliz drew a walk. Coste flew to center for the third out.
Dobbs hit for Moyer to start the seventh and singled. Rollins popped to short for the first out before Victorino singled and Dobbs went to second. Lefty Ron Villone came in to pitch to Utley and Utley grounded to first. Victorino was forced at second for the second out with Dobbs moving to third. Howard struck out swinging for the third out.
Burrell walked to start the eighth and Bruntlett ran for him at first. Jenkins singled to right and Bruntlett moved to second. Feliz flew to left and Bruntlett tagged and went to third. With one out and men on first and third, Coste hit into a double-play to end the inning.
Rollins was 1-for-4 with a double in the game. 2-for-12 with a double and a triple in the three-game set. He’s hitting 268/330/436 for the season. In 2005 he slugged .431 for the season — with that exception his average, on-base and slugging are all three worse than they have been at the end of any year since 2003.
Victorino was 2-for-4 in the game and 2-for-10 with two walks in the series. He’s hitting 268/341/369 for the season. His slugging percentage is miserable, down from .423 last season, but it’s a whole lot easier to take now that he’s a center fielder instead of a right fielder.
Utley was 1-for-4 with a double and left three men on base. 3-for-11 in the series. 294/377/593 for the year. He’s another guy that’s due to get hot soon. He’s hitting 268/318/463 in July after hitting .266 in June.
Howard was 2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBI. 5-for-10 with three home runs in the series. 234/325/510 for the year. 375/444/900 in July. Be careful out there.
Burrell 0-for-3 with a walk. 3-for-9 with a double and three walks in the set. 279/412/581 on the season.
Jenkins 2-for-4 with two singles in the game in his only action of the set. 241/290/386 on the season, which is terrible. I think the Phils need to play him a little more despite the miserable year — he’s been better of late and they will need him before the season’s over. Werth was 1-for-8 in the series and is hitting 271/361/488. The Phils need to be careful about assuming he’s going to give them the same great production as an everyday player.
Feliz was 1-for-3 with a walk. 3-for-9 with a home run and two walks in the series. He’s hitting 266/314/435 for the year and 314/342/543 in July.
Coste is slumping. 0-for-4 in the game with five men left on base. 0-for-5 in the series and 0-for-his-last-17. 283/339/491 for the year. Ruiz was 1-for-5 with a walk in the series. 206/299/275. Coste and Ruiz are a combined 4-for-38 (.105) in July.
Kyle Kendrick (8-3, 4.39) faces lefty Doug Davis (3-4, 3.74) tonight. Davis hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his last five starts. Lefties haven’t hit a home run against him in his 11 starts this season, but they are hitting .297 against him compared to .256 for righties. Taguchi, Rollins and Feliz have all faced him a lot. Rollins is 2-for-19 (.105) against him, Feliz 3-for-25 (.120) and Taguchi 7-for-23 (.304) with four walks. Kendrick has put together three solid starts in a row since he got bombed by the Red Sox on June 18. Lefties are hitting 311/383/498 against him for the season.
After Wednesday night’s game the Phillies, who won’t need a fifth starter till July 23 sent JA Happ back to Triple-A and called up Mike Cervenak. Cervenak is a right-handed hitter who has played first, third and right field at Triple-A this season. He has hit 310/331/439 at Lehigh Valley this year. Nine walks in 355 at-bats. His role on the Phils will almost surely be right-handed pinch-hitter. He turns 32 in August.