Archive for October 24th, 2008

Phils counting on Philadelphia World Series crowd to perform coming off 5,483 days of rest

Although rain could give the crowd that much-needed 5,484th day, allowing them to go on their regular schedule. Could be critical.

Jamie Moyer (16-7, 3.71) faces righty Matt Garza (11-9, 3.70) in game three.

The 24-year-old Garza came to the Rays in a trade from the Twins in November of last year and has pitched very well for Tampa Bay this post-season, going 2-1 with a 3.32 ERA and a 1.32 ratio. He was the MVP of the ALCS, holding the Red Sox to a run on two hits and three walks over seven innings while striking out nine in game seven.

Opponents hit .245 against Garza this season, and he fared well against both righties (.245) and lefties (.244). Lefties walked at a slightly higher rate and slugged .410 against him compared to just .347 for righties. He didn’t strike out a huge number of hitters, just 128 in 184 2/3 innings, but yielded just 19 home runs on the season. He struck lefties out at a higher rate than righties, striking out about 15% of the righties he faced and about 19% of the lefties.

He was much better at home this season than away from it. In 15 starts at home he went 7-3 with a 2.89 ERA and a 1.18 ratio. In 15 starts away from home he was 4-6 with a 4.53 ERA and a 1.30 ratio.

Matt Stairs is the only Phillie to have faced Garza. He’s 1-for-10 with two walks against him.

Moyer comes off of miserable starts back-to-back in the post-season. After going just four innings and allowing a pair of runs against Milwaukee in the NLDS, Moyer got bombed by the Dodgers in game three of the NLCS. He was charged with six runs in 1 2/3 innings to puff his post-season ERA for the year to 13.50. The Phillies have lost three games in the post-season and Moyer has started two of them.

Moyer was far better away from Citizens Bank Park this year than he was at it. 4.61 ERA with a 1.47 ratio at home and 2.92 ERA and a 1.20 ratio away.

Some of the Rays have seen him a lot with good results. Pena 10-for-20 (500/545/950) with three doubles and two home runs. Crawford 9-for-19 (474/474/632) with a double and a triple. Upton 3-for-5 with three singles. Baldelli 1-for-10. In case you forget that Moyer’s old, Wade Boggs was 21-for-55 (382/414/527) with two doubles and two home runs against him. There’s a chance that Boggs won’t even be a factor in game three.

It’s not really what you’d call a dream matchup on paper for the Phils. Moyer had a fantastic year in 2008, though, and despite the miserable results in the post-season has come up huge for the Phillies in several big games over the last two years. In game three of the playoffs last year he was fantastic, holding the red-hot Rockies to a run on five hits over six innings. Twice in the last two seasons he’s come up with a huge start against the Nationals at the end of the regular season to pitch the Phillies into the playoffs — in those two starts he allowed one earned run in 11 1/3 innings.

Citizens Bank Park is going to be a tough place for the young Rays to hit (or pitch, think, throw or hear) in game three. You hear people say over and over that the key to hitting against Moyer is to be patient. For better or worse, the Rays have more than their share of hitters who love to be aggressive early in the count. Here’s a look at some of the key Tampa Bay hitters, how many plate appearances they’ve had this season that ended in one pitch, how many total plate appearances they had and the percentage of those plate appearances that ended in one pitch (some key Phillies are included below the Rays):

Player 1-pitch PA Total PA % 1-pitch
Iwamura 66 707 9.3
Upton 77 639 12.0
Pena 84 607 13.8
Longoria 44 508 8.7
Crawford 88 482 18.3
Navarro 43 470 9.1
Bartlett 74 494 15.0
Rollins 51 625 8.2
Werth 17 482 3.5
Utley 51 707 7.2
Howard 81 700 11.6
Burrell 70 645 10.9
Victorino 73 627 11.6
Feliz 88 463 19.0
Ruiz 33 373 8.8

Feliz is the king of the group at putting the ball into play on the first pitch, but Bartlett, Crawford, Pena and Upton all went after the first pitch aggressively this season.

And if it’s true that you have to be patient to get to Moyer, that’s a problem for Tampa Bay.

Sadly, though, there’s this: When opponents’ hitters had their plate appearance end on one pitch this year, they hit .293 and slugged .480 against Moyer. When they didn’t, they hit .257 and slugged .393. That trend has been even more dramatic if you look at his numbers over his entire career (or at least the part of his career for which Baseball Reference has splits on first pitch plate appearances) — on plate appearances that ended after one pitch, opponents have hit .331 and slugged .523 against Moyer.

In 2008, after Moyer got ahead 0-1 opposing hitters hit .214 with a .321 slugging percentage.

What I think Moyer’s career numbers suggest is that what you can’t do against the wily veteran is not swing at the first pitch but take strike one. So hopefully nobody tells the Rays hitters that what they need to do is go up there and be impatient.

No matter what they do, though, Jamie Moyer didn’t win 246 games because he doesn’t know how to pitch. Whether the Rays go after him early in the count or not, there’s a Moyer that carves up hitters regardless of their approach. Despite his recent absence, Phillies fans have seen a lot of him in big situations over the past two seasons. Just because he’s shown up more often than not when the Phillies have needed him so far, I think there’s a good chance he’s in the building whenever game three gets played.

Matt Garza ended the 2008 regular season with 19 career wins. If he wins 15 games a season forevermore, he would pass Jamie Moyer in career wins in 2024 (assuming Moyer does not get any more wins).

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Hitters make a strong case for putting someone else in charge of making sure everyone gets on the plane back to Philly

They’re having a problem with bringing people home, you see.

The Phillies season began this year with an unresolved argument about whether strikeouts matter. There’s a long way to go in the World Series, but if the Phils keep hitting like they did in game two it’s going to end with a compelling argument that they do. Last night they failed to score in the second, third and fourth innings and struck out with one out and a man on third in each frame. They lost by two runs.

Brett Myers struggled early for the Phils, allowing three runs in the first two innings, but was strong after that. He pitched well enough to win if the Phillies could only come up with the big hit they needed to break through against Rays starter James Shields. They couldn’t.

They couldn’t despite a long march of base runners. Four different Phillies left at least four men stranded in the game (Rollins, Utley, Dobbs and Feliz) after four Phillies left at least four men stranded in game one (Rollins, Howard, Victorino and Coste).

The Phillies lost to the Tampa Bay Rays last night, falling 4-2. The teams have split the first two games of the World Series and head for Philadelphia for game three on Saturday. The Phillies are 8-3 in the playoffs after finishing the regular season 13-3.

Myers got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and three walks. Only three of the runs were earned. All seven hits were singles. He struck out two.

Myers faced a Tampa Bay lineup that went (1) Akinori Iwamura (2B/L) (2) BJ Upton (CF/R) (3) Carlos Pena (1B/L) (4) Evan Longoria (3B/R) (5) Carl Crawford (LF/L) (6) Cliff Floyd (DH/L) (7) Dioner Navarro (C/S) (8) Rocco Baldelli (RF/R) (9) Jason Bartlett (SS/R). The righty Baldelli starts in right with the slumping Gross on the bench.

The Rays started the game with five players on their bench: Michael Hernandez (R), Fernando Perez (S), Willy Aybar (S), Ben Zobrist (S) and Gabe Gross (L).

Myers threw strike one to Iwamura before delivering four straight balls. Upton bunted for a hit 0-1 but the ball went foul. He ripped the next pitch into right for a single. Iwamura would have gone to third anyway, but Werth charged and the ball went off his glove for an error that allowed Upton to go to second. Pena grounded a 3-1 pitch to second, where Rollins was playing with the shift on. Rollins threw out Pena for the first out as Iwamura scored to make it 1-0. Upton took third on the ground ball. Longoria followed with a ground ball to short for the second out. Upton came in to make it 2-0. Crawford swung at the first pitch and grounded to first to end the inning. Seventeen pitches for Myers.

The Werth error in right cost the Phils a run.

Floyd led off the second with a ground ball back up the middle that Rollins took behind second and threw to first for the first out. Nice play by Rollins. Navarro was next and hit a ball past a diving Utley for a single. Baldelli checked his swing on a 3-2 pitch, but looked clearly to have gone around. Kerwin Danley, the home plate umpire, raised his arm in what looked like a strike three gesture, but may have been interpreted by the first base umpire as a request for help. The first base ump ruled no swing, ball four, and Baldelli was given first base. Very odd play, but Baldelli took first with a walk that put men on first and second with one out. Bartlett swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and dribbled a ball down the third base line. Feliz tried to barehand but didn’t field the ball cleanly and Bartlett had an infield single to load the bases. Iwamura popped a 1-2 pitch into shallow center, where Rollins took it after a short run. The runners had to hold. Upton was swinging first pitch and lined a single into right. Navarro scored to make it 3-0 and Baldelli tried to score from second. Werth’s throw was on target, though, and Ruiz did a nice job to block the plate and hold the ball as Baldelli ran him over to end the inning. Fifteen more pitches for Myers had him at 32.

He had a quick third, getting Pena to pop to short, Longoria to pop to second and Crawford flying softly to left on the first pitch of his at-bat. Just six pitches in the inning for Myers. Thirty-eight for the game.

Floyd started the fourth with a single to left. Navarro was next and he hit an 0-1 pitch into center for another single, moving Floyd to second. Baldelli was next and hit a ground ball to third. Feliz went to second for the first out, but the Phils couldn’t turn two as Baldelli just beat Utley’s relay. It brought up Bartlett with one out and men on first and third. He bunted the first pitch of his at-bat foul before getting the bunt down the first base line on the second pitch. Myers threw him out for the second out, but Floyd stormed home to put the Rays up 4-0 on the safety squeeze. Iwamura grounded to second to end the inning. Twelve pitches in the inning put Myers at 50.

Upton flew to left to start the fifth. Pena followed with a walk. After Myers delivered ball one to Longoria to even the count at 1-1, Ruiz made a snap throw to first that was bad, into the body of Pena. Howard didn’t catch it, the ball went into right for an error on Ruiz that moved Pena to second. Myers struck Longoria out swinging for the second out. Crawford grounded to second to leave Pena stranded. 13. 63.

Floyd grounded to second to start the sixth. Navarro fouled out to Feliz on a popup near the Phillies dugout for the second out. Myers struck Baldelli out swinging 1-2 to end the inning. Just eight pitches for Myers in the frame had him at 71 for the game.

Bartlett singled to center to start the seventh. Myers got Iwamura to fly to left for the first out. Bartlett was running with the 3-2 pitch as Upton hit a ground ball to short. Rollins flipped to second where Bartlett was out by a hair. Utley’s relay to first beat Upton by a ton, who wasn’t real close to first base as Howard caught the ball to end the inning. There are a lot of people looking pretty closely at how hard Upton has been running out of the box in the World Series and a lot of them are not real impressed. Fourteen pitches in the inning for Myers, nine of them to Upton, had him at 85 for the game.

Romero looked great in the eighth. He struck Pena out on four pitches for the first out. Longoria popped a 1-2 pitch to Utley for the second out. Crawford swung at the first pitch and flew to right.

Crawford is one of several Rays, including Pena, that have been swinging at the first pitch so far in the series. It will be interesting to see if Tampa Bay is able to change their approach for Moyer in game three.

One perfect inning for the pen in which Romero struck out one and threw nine pitches. So far in the series, Phillies relievers have gone three innings without allowing a run.

The Tampa Bay pen went 3 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on two hits and a walk. Both runs were charged to Price and one of them was unearned due to a tough error on Longoria. Price threw 42 pitches. Tampa Bay relievers have been charged with two runs in 6 1/3 innings in the first two games.

The Phillies lineup against righty James Shields went (1) Rollins (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Dobbs (8) Feliz (9) Ruiz. Dobbs at DH against the righty with Feliz at third.

The Phils started the game with five players on their bench: Bruntlett (R), Taguchi (R), Coste (R), Stairs (L) and Jenkins (L).

Rollins popped to second on a 3-2 pitch for the first out of the game. Werth was next and he ripped a 3-2 pitch to third. The ball went off of Longoria’s body, but he threw to first in the dirt and Pena scoped it to get the out. Utley flew to center for the third out.

Howard led off the second and hit a ball over Upton’s head in center for a double. Burrell walked in a seven-pitch at-bat to put men on first and second. Victorino was swinging at the first pitch and fouled out to Longoria. Shields delivered an 0-2 pitch to Dobbs in the dirt that Navarro couldn’t handle. The wild pitch put men on second and third with one down, but Dobbs struck out swinging on the next pitch for the second out. Feliz grounded to third to leave both men stranded.

Awful. Victorino can’t move the runners up with the first out, then the Phils get a huge break with the wild pitch but Dobbs strikes out with one out and a man on third.

Shields had thrown 39 pitches through two innings.

Ruiz led off the third and ripped a double down the third base line. Rollins moved him to third with a ground out to second. Werth struck out swinging 2-2 for the second out. Utley grounded to second for the third out.

Again Phils don’t bring the runner in from third with one out. Werth strikes out this time.

Howard started the fourth with a single into right. Burrell was next and hit a soft ground ball to third for the first out, moving Howard to second. Victorino was next and hit a ball to first that went off the glove of Pena and was stopped by a diving Iwamura. Howard went to third on the infield single. Again Dobbs struck out, this time swinging 1-2. Feliz grounded to third for the third out.

Dobbs doesn’t bring the runner in from third with one out.

Shields had thrown 66 pitches through four innings.

The Phillies started the fifth down 4-0. Ruiz led off and got behind 1-2 but worked a walk. Rollins swung at the first pitch and chopped it to first. Pena threw to second to force Ruiz. Werth got behind 0-2 and looking sure to strike out again, but lined a 1-2 pitch into center for a single that moved Rollins to second. Utley looped a 1-1 pitch into right. Baldelli charged, caught the ball and threw behind Werth to double him off and end the frame.

At least they didn’t leave anyone stranded at third this inning. Doubled-off of first isn’t the way to go in front of Howard.

Howard grounded to second to start the sixth. Burrell struck out swinging 2-2 for the second out. Victorino was next and singled into right on a 1-1 pitch. Dobbs followed and got behind 0-2, but blooped a 1-2 pitch just in front of a diving Upton for a single that sent Victorino to third. Righty Dan Wheeler came in to pitch to Feliz and Feliz stayed in the game. Feliz grounded to third for the third out.

Ruiz led off the seventh and again got behind 1-2 and came back to walk. Ruiz was stealing as Rollins struck out swinging 3-2 for the first out. Ruiz slid into second just safe. Werth struck out looking 1-2 for the second out. Lefty David Price relieved Wheeler and walked Utley on four pitches. It put men on first and second with two down for Howard. Howard struck out looking 2-2 to leave both men stranded.

Price returned to start the eighth with a four-run lead. Burrell fouled out to Longoria for the first out. Victorino got ahead 3-0 before he grounded a 3-2 pitch to Longoria for the second out. Bruntlett hit for Dobbs and hit the first pitch from Price out to left to cut the lead to 4-1. Feliz grounded to short for the third out.

Price pitched the ninth, too. Ruiz got behind 0-2 but hit a 3-2 pitch down the third base line again for another double. Rollins was next and the 0-1 pitch to him was an inside fastball. Rollins got out of the way and told the home plate umpire Danley he had been hit by the pitch. Replays showed the ball had hit his uniform, but Danley said no. It was the second time in the game the wrong call from Danley hurt the Phils, cause Rollins swung at a terrible 2-1 pitch and then popped a 3-2 offering to Bartlett in short left field for the first out. Werth was next and hammered a ball to third that went off the glove of Longoria, high into the air and then into left field. Ruiz scored from first to cut the lead to 4-2 with Werth safe at first. Tough error for Longoria as the ball was scorched. It brought Utley to the plate as the tying run, but Price struck him out on three pitches and got Howard to ground to Iwamura in shallow right field to end the game.

Rollins was 0-for-5 with four men left on base in the game. He’s 0-for-10 in the series.

Werth was 1-for-5 with two strikeouts. Made an error in right and was doubled-off of first on a fly ball. Struck out with a man on third and one out in the third. 3-for-9 with two doubles and a walk.

Utley 0-for-4 with a walk. 2-for-8 with a home run and two RBI in the series.

Howard 2-for-5 with a double. 2-for-9 in the series.

Burrell 0-for-3 with a walk. 0-for-6 with two walks in the series.

Victorino 2-for-4 in the game and 4-for-8 in the series.

Dobbs 1-for-3 with two big strikeouts. DHs Coste and Dobbs combined to go 1-for-7 with nine men left on base in the first two games of the series.

Feliz was 0-for-4 and left six men on base. Flew to left with men on second and third and two outs in the second (2). Grounded to third with two outs and men on first and third in the fourth (4). Grounded to third with two outs and men on first and third in the sixth (6). 2-for-7 with a walk in the series.

Ruiz was very good. 2-for-2 with two doubles and two walks. Made a nice play early to tag Baldelli out at the plate. 2-for-5 with three walks in the series.

No game today. Game three is Saturday night in Philadelphia.

I created a Start Log for the Phillies post-season games in 2007 and 2008. It reminds that the Phillies have scored four runs in three post-season starts for Moyer over the last two years and just 16 in five starts by Hamels.

The Phillies need Moyer to pitch well in game three. I think he will. Even if he doesn’t, I’d be surprised if the hitters don’t snap out of it in Philadelphia.

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