Archive for September 27th, 2008

It takes a village, but the villagers are going back to the playoffs

The Phillies won an amazing game with a long list of heroes this afternoon, topping the Nationals by a run to clinch the NL East.

Jimmy Rollins has to head-up the list — and he went 1-for-4 and didn’t score or drive in a run. He made two sparking defensive plays that changed the game. With one out in the eighth, the Phils up by a pair of runs and the Nats threatening with men on second and third, Rollins made a brilliant over-the-shoulder catch while crashing into Shane Victorino to turn a two-run single into the second out of the inning. With the Phils up a run with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth, Rollins started a game-ending double-play with a diving stab of Ryan Zimmerman’s ground ball up the middle.

Jamie Moyer again came up huge for the Phils in a huge game. He held Washington to a run over six innings. If you think about the biggest games that Moyer has started for the Phillies, I think you have to go with the last day of the regular season in 2007 (when he pitched the Phils into the playoffs) game three of the NLDS last year and the game today. In those three games combined, Moyer has allowed two earned runs in 17 1/3 innings (1.04 ERA).

With two outs and nobody on in the eighth, Victorino and Feliz combined to create an insurance run that would prove to be critical. About 15 minutes after lying on the field in pain after colliding with Rollins and looking like a leg injury might leave him unable to continue, Victorino beat out an infield single and raced around to score from first when Feliz followed and doubled into the gap in left-center.

Brad Lidge struggled to protect a two-run lead in the ninth. But he came out on top yet again as he saved his 41st game in 41 chances in a Phillies uniform.

The Phillies beat the Washington Nationals yesterday, winning 4-3 to improve to 91-70 on the season. They have won the NL East and will face either the Dodgers or the Brewers at home on Wednesday.

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing a run on six hits and a walk. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out one and will end the regular season with 16 wins and a 3.71 ERA.

He set the Nats down in order in the first.

He walked Aaron Boone with two outs in the second, but got Wil Nieves to fly to right for the third out.

Moyer get the first two again in the third before Anderson Hernandez showed bunt early in the count and then hit one past Feliz for a single. Cristian Guzman moved Hernandez to second with another single, but Moyer got Ryan Zimmerman to fly to center to leave both men stranded.

Two ground balls and a fly out in a 1-2-3 fourth.

Moyer started the fifth up 2-0. Roger Bernandina singled with one out and the pitcher John Lannan bunted him to second. Hernandez was next and drove a ball to right field, where it went off the tip of Werth’s glove for a double. Bernandina scored and it was 2-1. Guzman grounded to short for the third out.

Would have been a good play by Werth, but it would have been a nice one to have.

Zimmerman started the sixth and chopped a ball up the middle. Utley fielded it behind second, but couldn’t throw Zimmerman out. Lastings Milledge was next and bunted past Moyer for another single. It put men on first and second with nobody out, but Moyer got Elijah Dukes to fly to center for the first out and Boone to fly to center for the second. He struck out Nieves to set the Nats down with both runners stranded.

Durbin pitched the seventh. He walked Kory Casto, hitting for the pitcher, with one out but got Hernandez to hit into a double-play behind him. Nice play by Utley, who fielded Hernandez’s grounder, tagged Casto and threw to first to beat the speedy Hernandez.

Madson started the eighth with the Phillies up 3-1. Guzman led off with a single and went to third when Zimmerman followed with a double. The play of the game was next. Milledge blooped an 0-1 pitch into shallow center. Rollins and Victorino stormed towards it and Rollins made a sliding, over-the-shoulder catch as he crashed into Victorino’s shins. Guzman tagged and scored, making it 3-2 with Zimmerman holding second. Dukes was next and his bat exploded as he grounded to third. Feliz managed to field it anyway, with pieces of bat flying at him, and threw to first for the second out. Madson struck out Boone to end the frame.

Amazing play by Rollins.

Lidge started the ninth up 4-2. Switch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio hit for Nieves and quickly got ahead. Lidge delivered two straight strikes to even the count, the second of which was clearly inside. Bonifacio struck out swinging on the next pitch for the first out. Lefty Ryan Langerhans hit for the pitcher Garrett Mock. Lidge got ahead of him 1-2 before he delivered three straight balls to walk him, forcing Bonifacio to second. With one out and men on first and second, Hernandez blooped a ball over Utley’s head and into right-center for a single. Bonifacio scored from second, making the score 4-3, but Langerhans tripped going around second and had to hold there even when Werth picked up the ball and threw home. Guzman was next and he lined a 2-2 pitch into center, just out of the reach of a diving Rollins. Langerhans stated towards third, then went back towards second and finally saw it go through and went to third. The bases were loaded with one out for Zimmerman. Zimmerman hit a 1-1 pitch back up the middle, to the left of second base. Rollins dove for the ball to field it, flipped to Utley and Utley made a strong relay to double-up Zimmerman and end the game.

Very nice play by Rollins, but not as spectacular as his play in the eighth.

Two issues with Langerhans on the bases. He slipped on the single by Hernandez going around second, perhaps preventing him from going to third, and waited a long time to watch Guzman’s single go through, likely preventing him from scoring from second. His run, and the fact that he didn’t score, was critical. It seems entirely possible that Langerhans is a lot faster than I think he is. Given that I think he’s as fast as I do, though, I have to wonder how it would have changed the game if the Nationals had pinch-run Willie Harris or Pete Orr for him.

Not a pretty day for the pen, but they got it done. They allowed two runs on five hits and two walks over three innings. All three of Lidge, Madson and Durbin should be well-rested by Wednesday.

The Phillies lineup against lefty John Lannan went (1) Rollins (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Werth stays in the two-hole with the lefty on the mound. Feliz at third with Dobbs on the bench. Ruiz catches.

Werth and Utley struck out in a 1-2-3 first.

Burrell walked with one out in the second and moved to second when Victorino followed with a single to left. Feliz was next and hit a bloop into shallow center. Guzman made a very nice over the shoulder catch for the second out and easily doubled Burrell off to end the inning.

Rollins lined a double into the right-field corner with two outs in the third. Werth struck out swinging at a 2-2 pitch to leave him stranded.

Utley and Howard started the fourth with back-to-back singles. It put men on first and third for Burrell and Burrell hit a fly ball to right that Dukes caught just in foul territory up against the stands. Utley tagged and scored to put the Phils up 1-0. I think you have to catch the ball there and not take a chance and try to let it drop foul. Victorino against singled to left and Howard went to second. A walk to Feliz loaded the bases. Ruiz was next and hit a ball to right-center that Dukes took right in front of the warning track for the second out. Howard scored to make it 2-0 and Victorino took third. Lannan walked Moyer on four pitches to load the bases once again. Rollins got ahead 2-0 before Lannan threw him a strike to make the count 2-1. Rollins hit the next pitch hard to third, but Zimmerman took it and threw to second to force Moyer and end the inning.

Werth led off the fifth and hit a 1-2 pitch out to right, putting the Phillies up 3-1. Burrell singled with two outs, but Victorino flew to left to end the inning.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the sixth. Stairs hit for Moyer with two outs and popped to short.

They went 1-2-3 in the seventh.

They started the eighth up 3-2. Victorino reached on an infield single with two outs. Feliz was next and hit for himself against righty Garrett Mock, no doubt because Manuel wanted to keep his glove in the one-run game, and Feliz split the gap in left-center with a double. Victorino, a half-inning after his collision with Rollins had left his writhing in pain on the ground, roared around to score from first and put the Phils up 4-2. Ruiz grounded to short for the third out.

Huge hit for Feliz.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a double.

Werth 1-for-4 with his 24th home run.

Utley 1-for-4.

Howard 1-for-4.

Burrell 1-for-1 with a walk and an RBI.

Feliz 1-for-3 with a huge double and an RBI.

Ruiz 0-for-3 with an RBI.

JA Happ (1-0, 3.90) faces lefty Odalis Perez (7-11, 4.27) tomorrow afternoon. Perez has a 5.02 ERA since the All-Star break. Righties are hitting .303 against him for the season, lefties .214. In 13 starts away from home this year he’s 4-5 with a 6.38 ERA. Happ’s last two starts have been enormous and the Phils won both games as Happ allowed two runs over 12 1/3 innings. Lefties are hitting just .179 against him in his 30 innings this season.

Balester can’t deter Phils

Coming off back-to-back losses, Phillies fans were hoping to see the team come out strong last night. They got their wish. The Phils jumped all over Collin Balester as Utley and Howard combined to drive in seven runs in the first two innings. Joe Blanton pitched well and the pen was even better as the Phils rolled to an 8-4 win.

With the Marlins beating the Mets last night, the Phils lead the division by two games with two games left to play.

The Phillies beat the Washington Nationals last night, winning 8-4 to improve to 90-70 on the season. They will clinch the division today if they beat the Nats or the Mets lose.

Joe Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk. He got some terrible defense behind him, hurt most by plays by Ruiz and Howard, and only one of the runs was earned. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and a home run. He struck out two.

He threw a 1-2-3 first.

He started the second with a 3-0 lead. Elijah Dukes led off and Blanton walked him. Willie Harris flew to center for the first out. With Kory Castro at the plate, Dukes went to second on a passed ball. Ruiz just didn’t catch the ball, which wasn’t even in the dirt. It cost the Phils a run, cause Castro grounded to second for the second out with Dukes going to third and Luke Montz singled into left to bring Dukes in and cut the lead to 3-1. Orr grounded to Utley to end the frame.

The Phils probably would have had a double-play on the ball that Casto hit if Dukes had been on first instead of second.

Blanton started the third up 7-1. Emilio Bonifacio doubled with one out, but Blanton got the next two to leave him stranded.

He got three ground balls in a 1-2-3 fourth.

With one out in the fifth, Orr hit a ground ball to Howard that Howard booted for his 19th error of the season. Robert Bernandina hit for the pitcher Jason Bergmann and doubled to left, moving Orr to third. Bonifacio was next and he hit a fly ball to center for the second out. It was deep enough to score Orr and cut the lead to 7-2. Cristian Guzman was next and he singled into right, scoring Bernandina to make it 7-3. Lastings Milledge flew to center for the third out.

More bad defense costs the Phillies runs.

With two outs in the sixth, Casto hit a 1-0 pitch to deep right. A fan reached over the fence and tried to catch the ball but dropped it. Casto was given a home run and the play was reviewed. The play stood. 7-4. Looked like the right call to me. Blanton struck out Montz for the third out.

Eyre started the seventh after the Phils hit for Blanton in the bottom of the sixth. Righty Alberto Gonzalez hit for the lefty Pete Orr and Eyre struck him out for the first out. Switch-hitter Anderson Hernandez hit for the pitcher hit for the pitcher Garrett Mock and Eyre struck him out too. Bonifacio was next and he hit a ball slowly to short. Rollins charged, bare-handed and made a strong throw to first to nip Bonifacio.

Nice inning for Eyre and a great play by Rollins.

Madson started the eighth up 8-4. Cristian Guzman led off with a single to right. Madson struck out Milledge and got Dukes on a pop to third before Romero came in to pitch to the lefty Harris. Righty Aaron Boone hit for Harris and grounded to Rollins on a 3-2 pitch to end the frame.

Lidge started the ninth up 8-4. Casto swung at a 1-2 pitch and the home plate umpire called him out, but Casto argued that he had fouled the pitch off. The home plate ump checked with the third base ump who said Casto had fouled the ball off. Manuel came out to argue and was ejected. I don’t think that Casto actually fouled the ball off. Lidge struck him out swinging on the next pitch for the first out. Montz was next and Lidge struck him out swinging 1-2. Gonzalez was next and grounded to short to end the game.

I was surprised that nobody on the Phillies’ bench came out to get Manuel before he finally walked away. He was about as mad as Phillies fans have seen him.

The bullpen goes three scoreless innings for the Phils, allowing one base-runner on Guzman’s single off of Madson. They struck out five. Nobody threw more than 13 pitches. After the off-day on Thursday, everyone likely seems available for this afternoon’s game as the Phillies try to clinch the division.

The Phillies lineup against righty Collin Balester went (1) Rollins (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Dobbs (8) Ruiz. The slumping Werth stays in the lineup and moves up to second in the order with Utley dropped to third. Dobbs plays third against the righty with Feliz on the bench. Ruiz catches.

Werth lined a single into center with one out in the first and went to third when Utley followed and singled into right. Howard was next and blasted an 0-1 pitch out to right-center to put the Phils up 3-0. Burrell and Victorino both popped out to end the inning.

Dobbs started the second with an opposite field double with the Phils up 3-1. Ruiz flew to right and Blanton struck out, but Rollins drew a walk to put men on first and second. Werth reached on an infield single to third that loaded the bases. It brought Utley up and he hit a 3-1 pitch off the top of the wall in left. It cleared the bases and put the Phils up 6-1. Howard followed with a double of his own. 7-1. Burrell grounded to third for the third out.

Rollins, Werth, Utley and Howard all get aboard with two outs and it gets the Phils four runs.

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

With one out in the fourth, Rollins blooped a 1-0 pitch in between second and center. It dropped in and good hustle by Rollins got him to second. Werth flew to left and Utley flew to center to leave Rollins stranded.

The Phils started the fifth up 7-3. Victorino doubled with two outs and stole third, but Dobbs grounded to second to leave him stranded.

They were leading 7-4 when they started the sixth. Ruiz flew to center for the first out. With the righty Garrett Mock on the mound, Jenkins hit for Blanton and popped to short. Rollins drew a walk, but Werth struck out for the third out.

If you hadn’t already, I think you have to conclude that Manuel has more confidence in Stairs than Jenkins as a left-handed hitter off the bench. In that case he chose to save Stairs for later in the game.

Utley started the seventh with a single. Howard struck out before Utley stole second. Burrell drew a walk and Bruntlett ran for him at first. Victorino was next and hit a ground ball to short. Bruntlett was forced at second for the second out. With two outs and men on first and third, Feliz hit for Dobbs with lefty Mike Hinckley on the mound. Jesus Colome came in to pitch for Feliz. Victorino stole second before a passed ball brought in Utley and moved Victorino to third with the Phils up 8-4. Feliz flew to center for the third out.

Wouldn’t have run for Burrell there.

Ruiz led off the eighth with a walk. Stairs hit for Romero and Ruiz was caught stealing as the count went 2-2 on Stairs. The Phils ran all over the Washington catcher Montz, who was making his fifth career start, but that’s a terrible time to run with Stairs hitting towering foul balls off of the righty Jesus Colome. Ruiz was safe and didn’t get the call, but it’s terrible anyway. Stairs struck out for the second out. Rollins drew a walk, his third of the game, and stole second. Werth struck out looking at a 2-2 pitch.

Rollins was 1-for-2 with a double, three walks and his 47th stolen base.

Werth was 2-for-5. Nice to see him have a good game.

Utley 3-for-4 with a double and three RBI.

Howard 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and four RBI.

Burrell 0-for-3 with a walk.

Victorino was 1-for-4 with a double.

Dobbs 1-for-3 with a double.

Ruiz 0-for-3 with a walk and a bad miscue on the passed ball. Shouldn’t have been allowed to be caught stealing in the eighth.

Jamie Moyer (15-7, 3.78) faces lefty John Lannan (9-14, 3.86) this afternoon. Lannan has faced the Phillies twice this season, allowing ten runs in 11 2/3 innings. The Phillies’ lefties have hit him pretty well over their careers. Howard is 3-for-8 with a double and a home run. Utley 4-for-8 with a walk in the plate appearances where Lannan didn’t break his hand. Moyer has been just fantastic for the Phils in big starts over the past two years. Here comes one now. The Phillies have won six games in a row that Moyer has started. He’s 2-0 with a 2.82 ERA in four starts against the Nats this season.

If you care about the music that players use for their at-bats, you might find this thing kinda cool.

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