Archive for July, 2008

Philadelphia movers vie for the chance to haul Blanton’s ERA cross country

The Phillies acquired 27-year-old right-handed pitcher Joe Blanton from the A’s for Josh Outman, Matthew Spencer and Adrian Cardenas. This article suggests that Blanton could take Eaton’s spot in the rotation with Eaton going to the pen.

Blanton has had a weak season pitching in a great pitcher’s park so far in 2008. He’s thrown to a 4.96 ERA with a 1.47 ratio. Righties are pounding him this year, on-basing .382 against him with a .496 slugging percentage. He has curiously shut down lefties, they’re on-basing .285 with a .384 slugging percentage.

Blanton has pitched for Oakland his entire career and has a 4.78 ERA with 1.43 ratio in the 60 games he has appeared in away from home.

On the plus side, Blanton is a highly-touted former first round pick that the A’s took with the 26th pick of the 2002 draft. He won’t turn 28 until December and has already put up two outstanding seasons, one in 2005 and one in 2007, in which he threw to an ERA under four with a 1.22 ratio. In 2005, at age 24, he threw 201 1/3 innings and was arguably the best starter in an Oakland rotation that saw Rich Harden, Barry Zito (the old Barry Zito) and Dan Haren all get at least 19 starts. Harden was better than him, but Blanton made 14 more starts and threw 73 more innings.

Back on the stuff to worry about front, here’s what right-handed batters have done against him over the past four seasons, remembering that 2005 and 2007 were the seasons he was really good:


Year

AVG

OBP

SLG
2005 246 316 437
2006 304 353 453
2007 248 275 372
2008 328 382 496

I don’t understand why those numbers would fluctuate so badly. Where they are right now is just bad, and moving to Citizens Bank Park doesn’t seem likely to be the cure. Blanton has been solid against lefties for a while now — they hit 291/328/386 against him in ’07 and 247/285/384 against him so far this season.

Overall, if forced to vote thumbs up or thumbs down on the deal for the Phils I would go thumbs up, simply because of the outstanding seasons from Blanton in the past, the Phillies’ current needs and the chance to keep him through 2010. I’m all for the Phillies trying to win right now and this is a right now move. I don’t have a problem with the Phillies trading Outman and Cardenas for the best pitcher they can get, but I’m a little surprised that the best pitcher they could get was a guy with a five ERA in Oakland. I think Oakland more clearly made a good deal than the Phillies did — I see it as riskier for the Phils but a risk worth taking if you are trying to win right now.

It does ensure that there is more Brett Myers to the pen talk coming. Hopefully the Phillies squash it quickly.

Finally, it’s hard not to consider this deal in the context of Kyle Lohse. If the Phillies had an opportunity to sign Lohse at $4.25 million this season and did not do it and instead had to trade away Outman and Cardenas to get Blanton they made a mistake. I don’t think there’s any argument that right now you’d rather have Lohse, Cardenas, Outman and Spencer instead of Blanton for the next two and a half seasons even given that you would have to pay Lohse more than you’ll have to pay Blanton in 2008.

The Phils are back in action tonight, tied with the Mets for first place in the NL East. Jamie Moyer (8-6, 3.95) faces righty Ricky Nolasco (10-4, 3.70) in Florida. Nolasco has allowed two or fewer runs in four consecutive starts, throwing to a 1.86 ERA his last four times out. The Marlins have won seven straight games that he has started. Over his last seven starts he hasn’t walked more than one hitter in any appearance. Right-handed batters have hit two home runs against him this season. Moyer hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his last seven starts, but the Phils are just 1-4 in his last five times out. Righties are hitting .308 against him for the year compared to just .208 for lefties. In his nine starts away from Citizens Bank Park he has thrown to a 3.13 ERA.


Men on fire

In case you missed it, the Mets are playing well these days under new skipper Jerry Manuel. Manuel has been at the helm for the last 26 games and the Mets have gone 17-9 in those games.

Whatever it is that’s going on with the Mets it didn’t start in June. In the 13 games that Manuel managed the Mets in June they went 6-7. Compared to their averages for the season, they scored fewer runs per game and allowed more.

And then came July and the Mets couldn’t lose. 11-2. In 13 games in July the Mets have scored more runs (81) than any other team in either league and allowed fewer runs (35) than any other team in either league.

Here’s the runs the Mets have scored and allowed in the games that Manuel has managed in 2008 (and the runs scored and allowed per game):


Month

Games

RS

RA
June 13 48 (3.69) 64 (4.92)
July 13 81 (6.23) 35 (2.69)
       
Total 26 129 (4.96) 99 (3.81)

And here’s what they did in the 69 games that Manuel did not manage:


Games

RS

RA
69 331 (4.80) 322 (4.67)

Despite the unremarkable June, thanks to an unbelievable July the Mets are overall scoring more runs and allowing fewer per game under Manuel than they were before him.

Overall, the difference between the Manuel and non-Manuel pitching numbers is far more dramatic than the difference between the Manuel and non-Manuel hitting numbers. The Mets are scoring about 4.96 runs per game since he took over compared to about 4.80 per game before he took over, but the difference between the pitching numbers is much larger. After allowing about 4.67 runs per game before Manuel took over, the Mets have allowed about 3.81 runs per game since.

That, because of the weak offensive output in the games Manuel managed in June, hides a little that the Mets are crushing the ball in July. As mentioned above, no team in either league has scored more runs. That means they should have some hitters that are seeing the ball well and they do: Tatis, Delgado, Reyes and Wright have all posted an OPS of at least .940 during July.

But they’ve also allowed just 35 runs in 13 games. That means that there’s a big group of players pitching well also. Here’s what the guys that have gotten the 13 starts for the Mets in July have done:


Player

GS

IP

ER

ERA
Pelfrey 3 22.0 1 0.41
Martinez 3 14.1 7 4.40
Santana 2 13 2 1.38
Perez 2 13 1 0.69
Maine 2 10.1 6 5.23
Armas 1 8.1 7 7.56
         
TOTAL 13 81 24 2.67

If Johan Santana is going to be the third-best starter in the Mets’ rotation the Phillies are going to lose. Sorry. In seven July starts, Pelfrey, Perez and Santana have combined to throw 48 innings and allow four earned runs. That’s an 0.75 ERA and there’s nobody on the planet you can trade Lou Marson for that makes you better than the Mets if they keep pitching like that.

The good news is that no matter what kind of mad genius Dan Warthen is, they’re 100% guaranteed to get worse.

Finally, it would be great news for Phillies’ fans if it proved to be the case that part of the Mets’ success under Manuel is because he’s blowing out the bullpen. But he’s not. Mets’ starters are throwing about 5.88 innings per game under Manuel compared to about 5.82 innings per game before he arrived. The Mets remain in the middle of the pack (8th in the NL) in terms of innings pitched by relievers. That said, the bullpen has also been fantastic for New York in July. In 38 1/3 innings they’ve allowed 10 earned runs (2.35 ERA).

The AL beat the NL in the All-Star game last night, winning 4-3 in 15 innings. Utley was 1-for-3 with a single and a strikeout. Lidge started the bottom of the 15th with the score tied at 3-3. He allowed two singles and a walk before Michael Young hit a fly ball to right that scored Justin Morneau to give the AL the win. Lidge got two outs and threw 19 pitches.


Phils have the right Manuel for the job

Charlie Manuel has managed five full seasons and in each of those seasons his team has played over .500 in the second half. In four of the five his team has played to a better winning percentage after the All-Star break than they did before the All-Star break. It’s enough to make you wonder if pinch-running for Pat Burrell in the sixth, 322 at-bats for Abraham Nunez and turning Brett Myers into a DL-bound reliever is the way to go.

Here’s what Manuel’s teams have done in the five years he’s managed before and after the All-Star break:


Year

Team

Before AS

After AS

TOTAL
2000 CLE 44-42 (.512) 46-30 (.605) 90-72 (.556)
2001 CLE 49-36 (.576) 42-35 (.545) 91-71 (.562)
2005 PHI 45-44 (.455) 43-30 (.589) 88-74 (.543)
2006 PHI 40-47 (.460) 45-30 (.600) 85-77 (.525)
2007 PHI 44-44 (.500) 45-29 (.608) 89-73 (.549)
         
TOTAL CLE/PHI 222-213 (.510) 221-154 (.589) 443-367 (.547)

The record after the All-Star break with the Phillies is particularly impressive. In his three full seasons with the team the Phillies are 133-89 after the break (.600).

The Mets’ Jerry Manuel has also had success after the break. Jerry Manuel has managed six full seasons, all with the White Sox. In four of those his team played to a better winning percentage after the break.


Year

Team

Before AS

After AS

TOTAL
1998 CWS 35-51 (.407) 45-31 (.592) 80-82 (.494)
1999 CWS 42-43 (.494) 33-43 (.463) 75-86 (.466)
2000 CWS 55-32 (.632) 40-35 (.533) 95-67 (.586)
2001 CWS 41-44 (.482) 42-35 (.545) 83-79 (.512)
2002 CWS 42-46 (.477) 39-35 (.527) 81-81 (.500)
2003 CWS 45-49 (.478) 41-27 (.603) 86-76 (.531)
         
TOTAL CWS 260-265 (.495) 240-206 (.538) 500-471 (.515)

The 1999 White Sox are the most curious thing there, going a miserable 33-43 after the break after playing a game under .500 in the first half. In Jerry Manuel’s defense, it’s tough to win when you give 55 starts to guys that end the season with an ERA over 6.00 (Jamie Navarro (27), John Snyder (25) and Aaron Myette (3)).

In other news, there’s nothing wrong with the Mets/Phillies rivalry that Chase Utley muttering an expletive in the general direction of booing fans in New York can’t fix. The phrase he chose, to borrow from Dave Barry, rhymes with “duck shoe.” Good news for Jimmy Rollins, at least, who could use the break.


Phils head into break curious to see how many games the Mets can win before Thursday

The Phillies started July 6 with a 3 1/2 game lead in the NL East. With a dramatic win yesterday they go into the All-Star break with a half game lead despite winning four of their last five games. The hard-charging Mets have won nine in a row and trail the Phils by just half a game.

Yesterday’s game featured a fantastic pitching matchup between Cole Hamels and Brandon Webb. Both pitched well and the Phillies hit in the bottom of the eighth with the game knotted at 2-2 before non-All-Star Pat Burrell punched a three-run homer out to left to put the Phils on top to stay.

The Phillies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday, winning 6-3. The take the series two games to one and go into the All-Star break at 52-44.

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing two runs on 11 hits and a walk. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He struck out eight.

He set Arizona down 1-2-3 in the first. Had to throw some extra pitches thanks to Howard, who dropped a foul popup for his 11th error of the season.

With one out in the second, Chad Tracy hit a 1-2 pitch out to right to put the Diamondbacks up 1-0. Chris Burke singled with two outs, but Hamels got Robby Hammock swinging to end the frame.

Conor Jackson doubled with two outs in the third. Orlando Hudson flew to center for the third out.

With two outs in the fourth, Chris Young and Burke singled back-to-back. It put men on first and second for Hammock and Hammock blooped a single in front of Burrell. Young scored despite a nice throw home from Burrell and it was 2-0. The pitcher Brandon Webb struck out to set Arizona down.

Stephen Drew led off the fifth with a single. Conor Jackson was next and smashed a line drive to third that Feliz caught. He threw high to first but Howard made a nice play to catch the ball and come down on the bag to double-off Drew. Nice plays by Feliz and Howard. Hudson flew to left for the third out.

Mark Reynolds led off the sixth with a walk and Tracy moved him to second with a single. Hamels struck out Young and Burke before he got Hammock to fly to right for the third out.

Webb led off the seventh with a single. Drew was next and hit a ground ball in-between first and second. Howard came off the bag and deflected it out of the reach of Utley. Drew had an infield single and Webb went to second. Jackson bunted but way too hard — Feliz tagged the bag and threw to first nearly in time to get Jackson. With men on first and second and one down, Hudson drove a ball to right that Jenkins missed up against the wall. Jenkins threw to Utley who threw to Coste, but there was no runner coming home. Hudson had gone too far towards second and was eventually tagged out there because Jackson was already at second with Drew holding third. Hamels struck out Reynolds to leave both men stranded.

Jenkins injured his left elbow on the play near the wall — he left the game in the top of the eighth.

Madson pitched the eighth. He gave up a two-out single to Burke but struck out Hammock for the third out.

Lidge pitched the ninth with the Phils up 6-2 but not scheduled to play again till Friday. Pinch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio led off with a single and took second as Drew struck out for the first out. Jackson grounded to short for the second out and the runner went to third. Hudson singled into right and Bonifacio scored to make it 6-3, but Lidge struck Reynolds out swinging to end the game.

Two innings for the pen. They allow a run on three hits and no walks.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Brandon Webb went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Feliz (8) Coste. Jenkins in right against the righty. Coste catches Hamels, which is unusual. Coming into yesterday’s game Ruiz had started 17 of Hamels’ 19 starts.

Rollins led off the first with a single and stole second. Victorino and Utley both struck out before Rollins went to third on a wild pitch. Howard grounded to first for the third out.

Feliz singled with two outs in the second. Coste grounded to third for the third out.

Victorino doubled with two outs in the third. Utley grounded back to Webb for the third out.

1-2-3 fourth.

The Phils started the fifth down 2-0. Feliz led off with a single and Coste struck out behind him. Hamels was next and he got the Phillies on the board, slamming an 0-1 pitch into right-center for a double. Feliz scored to cut the lead to 2-1. Rollins was hit by a pitch but Victorino and Utley went down behind him.

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

Coste singled to right with one out in the seventh. With Webb still on the mound, Dobbs hit for Hamels and hit a ball in the hole between first and second. Hudson made a nice play to nip Dobbs at first with Coste moving to second. Ruiz ran for Coste at second and Rollins ripped an 0-1 pitch into the right field corner. Ruiz scored from second to tie the game at 2-2. Rollins stole third before Victorino flew to center.

With the game still tied at 2-2 in the eighth, righty Chad Qualls entered the game with Utley and Howard were due to lead off the inning. Utley and Howard both singled, putting men on first and second. Burrell was next and he hit a 2-2 pitch out to left-center. 5-2. Werth, who had entered in the top of the inning when Jenkins left with an injured elbow, grounded to short before Feliz homered to left to make it 6-2. Ruiz struck out for the second out. Bruntlett hit for Madson and popped to first.

Rollins was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI in the game. 5-for-12 with two walks in the series. 274/340/438 for the season.

Victorino 1-for-4 with a double. 7-for-13 with two doubles, a triple and two home runs in the series. He’s hitting 279/350/408 for the year.

Utley was 1-for-4 and left four men on base. 2-for-10 in the series. 291/372/582.

Howard 1-for-4. 3-for-13 with a home run in the series. 234/324/508.

Burrell 1-for-4 with a three-run homer. 2-for-12 in the set. 275/404/575 for the season.

Jenkins 0-for-3 in the game and 0-for-4 in the series. 237/289/379 for the year. Werth was 0-for-1 in the game and 3-for-11 in the series. 271/357/477 for the year.

Feliz was 3-for-4 with his 12th home run of the year. 4-for-11 with a home run and two walks in the series. 270/320/442. He’s never ended a season with an on-base percentage as high as his current .320.

Coste was 1-for-3 with a single. 1-for-6 in the series. 279/333/479 for the year. Ruiz was 0-for-1 in the game and 0-for-4 in the series. 202/303/269 for the season. He doesn’t have an extra-base hit since June 13 and is slugging .095 in 21 at-bats in July.

On Saturday the Phillies lost to the Diamondbacks 10-4 to drop to 51-44 on the season.

Eaton got the start for the Phillies and went 3 2/3 innings, allowing eight runs on seven hits and three walks. Just two of the hits went for extra-bases, both doubles. He struck out four.

Second horrid outing in a row for Eaton. Over his last two outings he’s gone 6 1/3 innings and allowed 16 runs on 17 hits.

Drew and Jackson led off the first with singles to put men on first and third before Hudson struck out for the first out. Tracy followed with a single to right and Drew scored to put Arizona up 1-0 with Jackson moving to second. Reynolds was next and hit a ground ball to third. Feliz went to second for the second out but Reynolds beat the relay to avoid the double-play. Jackson scored to make it 2-0. Eaton struck out Young for the third out.

Eaton threw a 1-2-3 second.

Hudson singled with two outs in the third, but Eaton got Tracy to fly to right for the third out.

Eaton started the fourth with the game tied at 2-2. The Snakes scored eight times. Eaton got the first two in the inning before Romero singled and Robby Hammock drew a walk. The pitcher Randy Johnson was next and belted a 3-2 pitch into the left field corner. Both runners scored and it was 4-2. Drew walked to put men on first and second. Jackson doubled into the left field corner and Johnson scored (5-2) with Drew holding third. Switch-hitter Orlando Hudson was walked intentionally and Swindle came in to pitch to the lefty Tracy with the bases loaded. Tracy blooped a single into center and Drew and Jackson both scored. 7-2 with men on first and third. Swindle got ahead of the righty Reynolds before Reynolds hit a 1-2 pitch out to left center. 10-2. Young singled to center before Romero flew to center for the third out.

Miserable inning for both Eaton and Swindle and they’re the only two guys who pitched. After getting the first two men in the inning, six hitters in a row reach against Eaton. The double that Johnson hit was huge. After giving up a hit to the only man he faced the night before, a lefty, Swindle again can’t get the lefty. Tracy’s hit was weak, but Swindle faced four batters — he got one out and allowed two singles and a three-run homer.

Swindle came back to throw a 1-2-3 fifth.

He came back for the sixth, too, and walked Jackson to start the inning. He got Hudson on a fly ball to center for the first out before Tracy moved Jackson to second with a single. Seanez came in to pitch to Reynolds and struck him out for the second out. Young popped to third to end the frame.

Seanez threw a 1-2-3 seventh.

He returned for the eighth. Drew led off with a single, but Jackson struck out and Hudson hit into a double-play.

Condrey threw the ninth. He hit Reynolds with one out but got the next two.

The pen goes another 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk. Swindle was terrible, everyone else good. Two days in a row for Swindle, who threw 40 pitches. Seanez 30, Condrey 10.

The Phillies’ lineup against lefty Randy Johnson went (1) Victorino (2) Werth (3) Rollins (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Feliz (7) Bruntlett (8) Ruiz. Utley on the bench with Bruntlett at second. After the big night on Friday Victorino hits leadoff against the lefty. Ruiz catches. I would never, ever hit Rollins third because he’s a really bad hitter when he does.

Victorino led off the first with a single and was picked off. Werth struck out before Rollins singled to right. Howard struck out to end the inning.

1-2-3 in the second.

Ruiz led off the third with a walk. Eaton bunted him to second before Victorino popped an 0-1 pitch out to left, tying the game at 2-2. Werth and Rollins went down behind him.

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

Bruntlett led off the fifth with a double. Ruiz moved him to third with a ground ball. Swindle, who had already thrown 1 1/3 innings for a weary pen, hit for himself with the Phils down 10-2 and grounded to second. Bruntlett scored to make it 10-3. Victorino was next and hit a 2-2 pitch out to left again. 10-4. Werth grounded out for the third out.

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

Victorino walked with one out in the eighth. With righty Micah Owings on the mound for Arizona, Dobbs hit for Seanez and grounded to first. Rollins flew to center for the third out.

Howard, Burrell and Feliz went in order in the ninth.

Victorino 3-for-3 with two home runs and a walk. He drove in three of the four Phillies’ runs.

Werth 0-for-3.

Rollins 1-for-4.

Howard 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Burrell 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Feliz 0-for-4.

Bruntlett 1-for-3 with a double.

Ruiz 0-for-2 with a walk.

The Phillies next game is Friday.

This says that the injury to Jenkins’ left elbow is not serious.


So good

Team W-L R R/G NL Rank R OPS (NL) SB CS
               
ARI 46-46 402 4.37 11 728 (12) 29 16
PHI 50-43 465 5.00 2 774 (2) 78 9

Team W-L RA RA/G NL Rank RA Starter ERA Pen ERA
             
ARI 46-46 400 4.35 5 3.96 (2) 3.73 (5)
PHI 50-43 385 4.14 3 4.40 (10) 2.71 (1)

So Taguchi made sure his first hit since June 13 was a big one. With the Phils and Snakes knotted at 5-5 last night, Taguchi led off the twelfth with a single into left and stormed around to score the winning run on a single by Werth three batters later.

Second hit for Taguchi since May 30.

The Phillies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks last night, winning 6-5 in 12 innings to improve to 51-43 on the season.

Kyle Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, all doubles. He struck out four and didn’t walk a batter.

Orlando Hudson and Conor Jackson singled back-to-back with two outs in the first. Kendrick got Chad Tracy to fly to center for the third out.

1-2-3 second.

Stephen Drew singled with two down in the third. Hudson grounded to second for the third out.

Kendrick threw a 1-2-3 fourth.

Miguel Montero started the fifth with a double. Alex Romero flew to right for the first out before the pitcher Doug Davis moved Montero to third with a ground ball to second for the second out. Kendrick struck Augie Ojeda out to leave Montero stranded.

Hudson singled with one out in the sixth and stole second. Jackson hit a 3-1 pitch out in front of the plate and Ruiz threw him out at first with Hudson going to third with two down. Tracy was next and he dumped a 1-0 pitch just inside the left field line for a single that scored Hudson and tied the game at 1-1. Chris Young flew to right for the third out.

Kendrick started the seventh with a 3-1 lead having thrown just 76 pitches. Montero led off with a single and moved to third when Romero followed with a double that moved Montero to third. Switch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio hit for the pitcher Davis and slapped a 1-0 pitch down the third base line and passed Feliz. Burrell was on it quick but Romero slid in just ahead of the high relay from Feliz, tying the game at 3-3. Bonifacio went to second on the play at the plate. Ojeda bunted Bonifacio to third for the first out of the inning. Swindle came in to pitch to the lefty Drew. Swindle got ahead of him 0-2 before Drew singled into right. Bonifacio scored and it was 4-3. Durbin came in to pitch and struck out Hudson and got Jackson to pop to Coste for the third out.

Things fell apart quickly for Kendrick, despite how few pitches he had thrown coming into the inning. He faced four batters in the inning, allowing two doubles and a single. He got one out that the Snakes gave him on a bunt.

Montero singled with two outs in the eighth with Durbin still on the mound. Romero was next and drove a ball to center. Victorino raced to the wall and raised his glove over the wall. He didn’t catch it — it went off the heel of his glove and back onto the field. Montero scored to make it 5-3, but the relay from Rollins got Romero at third to set the Diamondbacks down.

Lidge started the ninth with the game tied at 5-5. Pinch-hitter Chris Burke led off with a walk. Lidge got the next two with Burke moving to second on a ground ball for the second out. With Hudson at the plate a wild pitch moved Burke to third, but Lidge got Hudson swinging at a 3-2 pitch to leave Burke stranded.

Condrey started the tenth. Tracy doubled with one out and went to third when Young followed with a ground ball back to the pitcher. Romero came in to pitch to the lefty Montero and got him to ground to first for the third out.

Romero pitched the eleventh. With one out he struck Mark Reynolds out swinging at a ball in the dirt that went off Coste’s shin guard and got away from the catcher. Reynolds was safe at first. Ojeda flew to center for the second out before Reynolds stole second. Romero struck Drew out to set Arizona down.

Seanez threw a 1-2-3 twelfth.

The pen went 5 2/3 innings, allowing a run on four hits and a walk while striking out seven. Swindle allowed a run that was charged to Kendrick. Lidge threw 24 pitches, Durbin 22 and Romero 15. Everybody else was ten or less. Second day in a row for Romero. Lidge has thrown a ton of pitches this month — 135 through 11 days. Even with the All-Star break it looks he will throw more pitches in July than he has in any other month so far this season.

The Phillies’ lineup against lefty Doug Davis went (1) Rollins (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Feliz (7) Victorino (8) Ruiz. Victorino again drops down in the lineup against the lefty. Werth in right and in the second hole. More Ruiz.

1-2-3 in the first.

Howard led off the second and hit the first pitch of his at-bat out to left-center to put the Phillies up 1-0. Burrell popped to first for the first out before Feliz walked. Victorino popped out behind him before Ruiz drew a walk. Kendrick loaded the bases with a single, but Rollins flew to right to leave everybody stranded.

1-2-3 in the third and the fourth.

Rollins and Werth singled back-to-back with two outs in the fifth. Utley fouled out to third to end the inning.

Feliz walked with two outs in the sixth. Victorino was next and he doubled into right, sending Feliz to third. With Ruiz at the plate Davis delivered a wild pitch that moved the runners up a base. Feliz scored to put the Phils up 2-1 with Victorino moving to third. Davis walked Ruiz intentionally, which is a pretty bad idea what with the .205 batting average and whatnot, to pitch to Kendrick. With the count 1-1 on Kendrick, Ruiz took off for second. Montero threw through to second and Victorino stormed home. The throw to second was high and Victorino was safe without a throw, putting the Phils up 3-1 as Ruiz was tagged out to end the inning.

Rollins and Werth singled back-to-back with one out in the seventh and the Phils down 4-3. Utley was next and he hit a shot back through the middle. Hudson made a great play to field the ball and throw to second. Drew made a strong relay to first to complete a spectacular double-play.

The Phils started the eighth down 5-3. Howard led off with a walk and Burrell moved him to second with a single. Bruntlett ran for Burrell at first and Feliz bunted the runners to second and third. Victorino was next and he got ahead 3-1 and then tried to bunt, presumably for a hit. He popped it up foul. That’s a terrible play, but it didn’t cost the Phillies anything. He ripped the next pitch inside the first base line and into the right field corner for a triple that scored both runners and tied the game at 5-5. Dobbs hit for Durbin and was walked intentionally to set up the double-play. It brought up Coste with men on first and third and one out. Coste popped up a 2-2 pitch that Ojeda took in foul territory for the second out. Rollins grounded to first for the third out.

Nothing for the Phils out of a man on third and one out. Unfortunate at-bat for Coste.

Utley singled with one out in the ninth. Howard flew to left for the second out. With righty Leo Rosales on the mound, Jenkins hit for Bruntlett and Utley stole second and moved to third on a wild pitch before Jenkins walked. Jenkins took second before Feliz popped to second to leave both runners stranded.

Victorino singled to start the tenth and Taguchi, who had entered in a double-switch in the top of the inning, bunted him to second. Coste hit the ball hard but lined to center for the second out. Rollins was walked intentionally to put men on first and second, but Werth popped out to end the inning.

Howard singled with one out in the eleventh. Mike Cervenek hit for Romero against righty Connor Robertson and lined an 0-1 pitch to left for an out. Feliz moved Howard to second with a single, but Victorino grounded to second for the third out.

Taguchi led off the twelfth with a single and Coste bunted him to second. Roberston got behind Rollins 2-0 and walked him intentionally. It brought Werth up with men on first and second and one out. Werth hit a 2-2 pitch into right-center for a single. Romero had to move to his right to field the ball and Taguchi scored easily to give the Phils a 6-5 win.

Rollins was 2-for-5 with two walks.

Werth 3-for-7 with an RBI.

Utley 1-for-6.

Howard 2-for-5 with his 28th home run and fourth in the last three games.

Burrell 1-for-4.

Feliz 1-for-3 with two walks.

Victorino 3-for-6 with a double, a triple and two RBI.

Ruiz 0-for-1 with two walks.

Adam Eaton (3-7, 5.20) faces lefty Randy Johnson (5-7, 5.18) this afternoon.


Howard-powered Phils’ offense looking for some energy alternatives

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.


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