Archive for October, 2008

StairsMaster

Game four of the NLCS started with the fantastic Dodger bullpen having shut down the Phillies completely. It didn’t end that way. LA took a 5-3 lead into the eighth, but Cory Wade, after throwing 33 pitches a day before, surrendered a two-run homer to Victorino with one out in the inning. Three batters later it was Jonathan Broxton on the mound facing grizzled veteran Matt Stairs and Stairs blasted Broxton’s 3-1 fastball deep into to the night to put the Phillies on top to stay.

Two huge home runs from a Phillies team that not only offers up the standard we’re-going-to-fight-for-27-outs but has been playing that way for a long time now. The Stairs home run was something special, though, something that’s going to be hard to erase from one’s mind if one were inclined to try. The Dodgers get an off-day to think about it and I’m not sure that’s going to make it any easier. It’s not just that the ball Stairs hit went out, it’s who he hit it off of and how far out it went. It left with room to spare, a little more than was necessary to make the point. Definitive and a little mean. While Victorino’s looping liner to right just barely left the yard, nearly scraping the top of the right field fence as it cleared, the one Stairs hit seemed stuck in time and space a little longer than physics should allow. It went out leaving you to wonder if you were ever going to see anyone hit a baseball harder. It’s impossible to win a seven game series by winning three games, but I think you’d also have a hard time getting much closer than the Phillies did last night.

That’s not to say the Dodgers are done. But I do think they’re going to need something momentous of their own if they’re going to get back into the series, something bigger even than what the Phillies got last night. And while that’s not impossible, it’s hard to imagine what it might look like.

Going by ERA, the Phillies bullpen was just a little better than the LA pen this season. Phils’ relievers threw to an NL-best 3.19 ERA while the Dodgers’ bullpen ERA was 3.33, second-best in the league. They were a little better last night, too. Led by Lidge, Madson and a fabulously timed double-play that Romero got Andre Ethier to hit into in front of Manny Ramirez in the eighth, the Phillies bullpen outpitched their counterparts from Los Angeles. Along with two big swings from Victorino and Stairs, it was the difference in the game.

The Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers last night, winning 7-5. With the win the Phils lead the best-of-seven series three games to one.

Joe Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and four walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out four.

Blanton faced a Dodgers lineup that went (1) Furcal (SS/S) (2) Ethier (RF/L) (3) Ramirez (LF/R) (4) Martin (C/R) (5) Loney (1B/L) (6) DeWitt (2B/L) (7) Blake (3B/R) (8) Pierre (CF/L). Pierre gets his first start of the series with Kemp on the bench. Martin hits cleanup after hitting second against Myers in game two.

The Dodgers started the game with six hitters on their bench: Kent (R), Berroa (R), Ardoin (R), Ozuna (R), Garciaparra (R) and Kemp (R).

Blanton started the first with a 2-0 lead. Furcal led off with a bunt that sailed over the head of a drawn in Dobbs for a single. Ethier was next and he grounded a 1-2 pitch to second. Utley tried to tag Furcal as he went by, then looked to flip to second and then threw to first to get DeWitt for the first out with Furcal safe at second. Blanton walked Ramirez intentionally to put men on first and second before he struck Martin out swinging at a 1-2 pitch. He had Loney deep in a hole but Loney drilled an 0-2 pitch off the wall in center. Furcal scored from second to cut the lead to 2-1 with Manny holding third. DeWitt hit a 2-2 pitch hard on a line, but right at Howard who took it to end the inning.

Furcal has been looking to bunt towards Dobbs whenever he has a chance. I would have walked Ramirez, too.

Twenty-one pitches in the inning for Blanton.

Blanton faced Blake to start the second and Blanton bunted the first pitch of his at-bat foul. Blake struck out looking at a 1-2 breaking ball. Pierre was next and laced a single into center. Lowe bunted the first pitch of his at-bat foul. Pierre took off on the next pitch and Lowe swung through the pitch for strike two. Ruiz’s throw beat Pierre to second and Rollins tagged him out for the second out. Lowe blooped the next pitch to center field. Rollins went out and tried to make an over-the-shoulder catch, but the ball went off the heel of his glove for a single. Furcal flew to center for the third out.

Thirteen more pitches for Blanton had him at 34 for the game.

Ethier grounded to second to start the third. Ramirez followed with a walk. Martin was next and grounded to short, but not hard enough to get the double-play. Rollins threw to second for the second out with Martin safe at first. Loney singled past a diving Utley for his second hit of the game, this one a single that send Martin to third. DeWitt swung at the first pitch and hit a soft fly ball into left that Burrell appeared to lose for a moment, but found and caught to end the inning. Sixteen pitches for Blanton, 50 for the game.

Blake struck out swinging 2-2 to start the fourth. Pierre lined a 2-2 pitch to Dobbs for the second out. Lowe went down looking for the third. Seventeen pitches for Blanton. 67.

Furcal led off the fifth and walked on a 3-2 pitch. Ethier was next and he blooped a 2-2 pitch into left-center for a single that sent Furcal to second. Manny was next and he roped the first pitch he saw into left. Burrell threw home as Furcal ran through the stop sign at third and slid in just safe to tie the game at 2-2. Ethier went to third and Ramirez took second. Martin was next and Blanton got ahead of him 1-2, but Martin grounded to short and Ethier came in to score and make it 3-2 with one out and Ramirez on second. Blanton walked Loney intentionally and stayed in to face the lefty DeWitt. DeWitt hit into a double-play to second to end the inning. After throwing 24 pitches in the inning, Blanton had thrown 91 for the game.

Durbin started the sixth with the game tied at 3-3. Temporarily. Blake led off and hit a 1-2 pitch out to left to put LA up 4-3. Pierre was next and he doubled into left-center. Matt Kemp hit for the pitcher Joe Beimel and wanted to bunt, but Durbin walked him. Eyre came in to pitch to Furcal. Furcal bunted up the first base line. Howard fielded, looked to third and then threw to first but wildly. The ball went off of Utley’s glove and Furcal took second. Pierre scored to make it 5-3. With men on second and third and still nobody out, Ethier lined softly to first for the first out. Eyre walked Ramirez intentionally to load the bases with one down for Martin. Madson came in to pitch to Martin. Martin lined a 1-2 pitch to Utley, who caught the ball and dove to tag second, just beating Kemp to the bag to double him off and end the inning.

Madson came back for the seventh. He got ahead of Loney 0-2 before ball one was way up and in. Loney went down swinging on the next pitch. The lefty DeWitt got ahead 3-0 and then walked on a 3-2 pitch. Blake followed with a single into left that sent DeWitt to second. The pitcher Kuo hit for himself and put a bunt down in front of home plate. Howard fielded and this time his throw to first was good enough to get the second out as the runners moved to second and third. Kemp lined an 0-1 pitch to center for the third out.

Romero started the eighth with a 7-5 lead. Furcal walked on five pitches. Ethier swung at the first pitch and chopped a ball back up the middle where Rollins fielded, tagged second and threw to first to complete the enormous double-play with Manny coming to the plate. Lidge came in to pitch to Ramirez. Lidge threw a 1-1 fastball past Ramirez. The 1-2 pitch was very close, but called a ball, maybe low. Ball three wasn’t close. Ramirez drove the 3-2 pitch into center where it landed in front of the warning track. Ramirez had a double and it brought Martin to the plate as the tying run. Martin struck out swinging at an 0-2 pitch in the dirt that Ruiz didn’t block. The ball bounced way away from Ruiz and Martin took first and Ramirez went to third. Loney fouled off two 1-2 pitches before he flew to Bruntlett in left to leave both runners stranded.

Lidge set the Dodgers down in order in the ninth with a two-run lead. Garciaparra flew to center on an 0-1 pitch. Lidge struck Blake out swinging 0-2. Jeff Kent hit for the pitcher Broxton and got ahead 2-1 before he smashed a ball to third where it was caught by Feliz to end the game.

Four innings for the pen in which they allow two runs, both of which were charged to Durbin. Madson and Lidge were fantastic and Romero got the huge double-play from Ethier in front of Manny in the eighth. Durbin continues to struggle, giving up a home run, a double and a walk without getting anybody out. Lidge threw 24 pitches, Madson 20, Durbin 14, Eyre 14 and Romero six. Everyone should be ready on Wednesday.

The Phillies finally got to the LA pen, Dodgers relievers were charged with six runs in four innings. They gave up six hits, including two home runs, and three walks. Broxton needed 30 pitches to throw 1 1/3 innings, but you have to assume he will be ready for game five.

Overall the Phillies walked eight hitters in the game. They have walked 22 in the first four games of the series.

The Phillies lineup against righty Derek Lowe went (1) Rollins (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Dobbs (8) Ruiz. Dobbs starts at third with Feliz on the bench. Werth and the slumping Victorino flop in the order.

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

Rollins led off the first and singled into center. Lowe got behind Werth 3-0 before he got strike one over. With Rollins running, Werth singled into left on the 3-1 pitch. Rollins went all the way to third. Utley quickly got behind 0-2, but pulled the next pitch past a diving Loney and down the right field line for a double. Rollins scored to make it 1-0 with Werth going to third. Howard hit a slow ground ball to second with DeWitt playing in shallow right. DeWitt dropped the ball, but picked it up in time to throw out Howard. Werth scored to make it 2-0 and Rollins went to third. Burrell flailed and missed the first two pitches of his at-bat, but Lowe delivered four straight balls to walk him on a close 3-2 pitch that was just a tick outside. It put men on first an third with one down for Victorino. Victorino grounded into a double-play on an 0-1 pitch to set the Phillies down.

Dobbs led off the second with the Phils up 2-1 and plunked a double down the right field line. Ruiz was next and grounded an 0-2 pitch back to Lowe for the first out with Dobbs holding. Lowe struck Blanton out swinging on three pitches for the second out. Rollins swung at a 2-2 pitch that was way down and in before jack-knifing out of the way of strike three on the inside corner.

Werth chopped a ball to short for the first out of the third. Utley was next and singled into right on a 1-2 pitch. Howard lined a ball into center for the second out. Burrell hit a slow ground ball to third to leave Utley stranded.

Victorino flew to center on an 0-2 pitch to start the fourth. Dobbs flew to center on a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Ruiz hit a ball back up the middle that Furcal fielded but dropped behind second. Single for Ruiz, but Blanton struck out swinging on three pitches to leave him stranded.

Rollins grounded to second on the first pitch of the fifth inning. Werth grounded to second on a 3-2 pitch. Utley struck out looking 1-2.

Clayton Kershaw started the sixth with LA up 3-2. Howard walked on a low 3-2 pitch to start the inning. Burrell got ahead 3-0 and then hit a 3-2 pitch just under the glove of Furcal and into left for a single that moved Howard to second. Victorino bunted the runners to second and third with one down. Feliz hit for Dobbs and Chan Ho Park came in to pitch to him. Feliz popped a ball into short right field. DeWitt and Ethier nearly collided, but Ethier caught the ball for the second out and both runners had to hold. The first pitch to Ruiz was outside and in the dirt. Martin couldn’t block it and the ball bounced away, allowing Howard to come in and score, tying the game at 3-3. Burrell went to third on the play. Jenkins hit for Blanton and the lefty Beimel came in to pitch to him. Taguchi hit for Jenkins with two outs and men on first and third. Taguchi looped a ball into shallow right-center, but Ethier made a nice sliding catch to take it for the third out and leave both men stranded.

Hate bunting with Victorino, but if you wanted one run it worked. The Phillies have no good right-handed hitter on their bench, as evidenced by the at-bat by Taguchi.

Rollins led off the seventh with Hong-Chih Kuo pitching for LA. He shattered his bat grounding to short for the first out. Kuo did a little dance on the mound after he threw an 0-2 pitch past a swinging Werth for the second out. Utley struck out swinging at a high 0-2 fastball for the third out.

Howard led off the eighth and got ahead of Kuo 2-0 before he singled into center. Cory Wade came in to pitch to Burrell after throwing 33 pitches the night before. Burrell popped to Berroa, the new Dodger second baseman, for the first out. Victorino laced the first pitch of his at-bat out to right for a two-run homer that tied the game at 5-5. At least he didn’t bunt. Feliz hit it well, too, but flew to left for the second out. Ruiz was next and he singled into left. Stairs hit for Madson with the Dodgers out of lefties. Broxton came on to pitch to Stairs. He threw strike one down the middle past Stairs, but followed that up with three straight balls. The 3-1 pitch was right where strike one was, and Stairs absolutely crushed it way, way out to right. 7-5. Rollins was next and he walked on a 3-2 pitch. Rollins stole second as a called strike made the count 2-1 on Werth. Werth struck out swinging 2-2 to leave him stranded.

Broxton returned for the ninth and Utley led off with a single to right. Howard grounded to second, with Utley forced at second for the first out and Howard safe at first. Bruntlett was next after taking over for Burrell in left in the eighth, and he hit a ground ball to short. Howard was forced at second for the second out with Bruntlett safe at first. Victorino got behind and the Dodgers pitched out 0-2 as Bruntlett tried to steal second. Martin threw him out to set the Phillies down.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a walk. He’s 2-for-17 (.118) with two singles in the series. He has struck out seven times, which leads both teams.

Werth 1-for-5 and struck out twice. 3-for-17 (.176) in the series.

Utley 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI. 6-for-13 (.462) with five walks in the series. The Phillies have 13 walks in the series and Utley has five of them.

Howard 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. 3-for-16 (.188) with a double. Just two strikeouts

Burrell 1-for-3 with a walk. 5-for-14 (.357) with a home run in the series.

Victorino 1-for-3 with a two-run homer. 3-for-16 (.188) with a team-high six RBI in the series.

Dobbs 1-for-2 with a double in the game and 3-for-6 in the series. Feliz 0-for-2 in the game and 1-for-9 in the series.

Ruiz was 2-for-3 with a walk. Big hit in the eighth to extend the inning for Stairs. Ruiz is 5-for-12 (.417) in the series.

No game today.

Cole Hamels (14-10, 3.09) faces Chad Billingsley (16-10, 3.14) tomorrow night. Billingsley started game two against Myers and took the loss. The Phillies hit him hard, Billingsley was charged with eight runs in 2 1/3 innings. The Phils scored four times in the second inning after Billingsley set down the first two hitters in the inning. Ruiz had an RBI-double, Myers drove in a run with a single and Victorino delivered a two-run single. The Phillies scored four more times in the third, getting a two-run double down the right field line before Park relieved Billingsley and surrendered a two-run triple to Victorino.

Hamels started game one against Lowe and got the win. He allowed two runs on six hits over seven innings while striking out eight. Ethier and Ramirez hit back-to-back doubles in the first for the first run. The Dodgers scored again when Kemp led off the fourth with a check-swing double down the right field line.


Maybe it’s always sunny in Philadelphia, but we’re not in Philadelphia any more

Last night’s broadcast of game three of the NLCS in Los Angeles started out with Danny DeVito explaining that he was a Dodgers fan while he read the Phillies lineup. Things got stranger from there. Jamie Moyer got mauled, giving up five runs in the first inning. The Phils never bounced back and the Dodgers went on to win the game 7-2.

The game will most be remembered for a bench-clearing incident after the top of the third inning. After Brett Myers had come way up and in on Russell Martin and thrown a pitch behind Manny Ramirez in game two in Philadelphia, Martin was infuriated when Clay Condrey knocked him to the ground with another knockdown pitch last night in the bottom of the second. When Shane Victorino came to the plate with two outs in top of the third, Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda delivered a fastball just over the head of the center fielder. When Victorino grounded to first to end the frame, he and Kuroda exchanged words and the benches cleared for further discussion.

Pretty ugly game all around for the Phils. Not much offense — the Phillies have now been outscored 14-13 in the series. Moyer’s start, his second weak outing in two post-season appearances, certainly raises some questions about what the Phillies would do if the series went to a game seven in Philadelphia. The one thing they probably wouldn’t do is feel confident about sending Moyer to the mound.

As a bright spot, the bullpen shined again for the Phillies. JA Happ showed why he is on the roster, giving the Phils three innings and holding the Dodgers to a run. Romero and Durbin, core components of the pen that have been shaky or just plain absent recently, both pitched well in the blowout. The Phillies bullpen has allowed one run in 12 2/3 innings in the series.

The Phillies lost game three of the NLCS last night, falling 7-2. They lead the Dodgers two games to one in the best-of-seven series. The Phillies are 5-2 in the post-season after going 13-3 to end the regular season. The last time they lost a game that wasn’t started by Moyer was September 24.

Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went 1 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on six hits. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a triple and a home run. He struck out two and didn’t walk a batter. He’s been hit hard in both of his post-season starts this season, allowing eight runs in 5 1/3 innings.

The Dodger lineup against Moyer went (1) Furcal (SS/S) (2) Ethier (RF/L) (3) Ramirez (LF/R) (4) Martin (C/R) (5) Garciaparra (1B/R) (6) Blake (3B/R) (7) Kemp (CF/R) (8) DeWitt (2B/L). Garciaparra starts at first after Loney played first against the lefty Hamels in game one. Blake moves up to sixth and Kemp down to seventh after Blake hit sixth and Kemp seventh in game one. Nomar came into the game 15-for-36 (417/432/722) against Moyer in his career.

The Dodgers started the game with six hitters on their bench: Kent (R), Berroa (R), Ardoin (R), Ozuna (R), Loney (L) and Pierre (L).

Furcal started the first with a single into left. Ethier singled past a diving Utley and into right, moving Furcal to second. Manny ripped the first pitch of his at-bat into left for a single. Burrell had no chance to get Furcal, but threw home. Furcal was safe, the ball bounced before the plate and over Ruiz’s head where it was backed up nicely by Moyer. The throw home allowed Manny to wind up at second with Ethier at third. Burrell also threw to the wrong base in game three of the NLDS. Moyer hit Martin in the knee with a 1-2 pitch, loading the bases with nobody out. Garciaparra struck out for the first out, looking at a 2-2 pitch on the outside corner. Moyer got ahead of Blake, but Blake hit a soft liner into right on an 0-2 pitch for another single. Everyone moved up a base and it was 2-0 with the bases still loaded and one out for Kemp. Kemp got ahead 3-0 but went down looking at a 3-2 pitch on the inside of the plate. Moyer got ahead of DeWitt 2-0 before DeWitt hit a 2-2 pitch into the right field corner for a triple that cleared the bases and put the Dodgers up 5-0. Kuroda chopped to third to end the inning.

Moyer threw 35 pitches in the first inning.

He started the second down 5-1. Furcal swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and hit the ball out to left-center, putting LA up 6-1. Ethier swung at the first pitch as well, popping it into shallow center for the first out. Manny was next and Clay Condrey came in to pitch to him. Condrey walked Ramirez on a 3-2 pitch, putting him on first for Martin with one out. Condrey’s first pitch to Martin was up and in, knocking him to the ground. Martin was not pleased, glaring out at the mound. He swung really hard at the next pitch and grounded it to short. Rollins took it there and started the double-play to end the inning.

Happ started the third after a bench-clearing incident between the top and bottom of the inning. Nomar hit his first pitch into center for a single. Blake also swung at the first pitch and flew into shallow center for the first out. Kemp got ahead 2-0 and singled into right field past a diving Utley, moving Nomar to second. Happ struck the lefty DeWitt out swinging 2-2 for the second out. The pitcher Kuroda went down swinging for the third out.

Furcal popped a 2-2 pitch to second for the first out of the fourth. Ethier flew to center on a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Ramirez walked on four pitches and Martin walked on four pitches behind him. Nomar lined an 0-1 pitch into left for a single. Burrell threw home, but Feliz wisely cut his throw and the Phils got Martin in-between second and third to end the inning. Ramirez scored before Rollins tagged out Martin, extending the lead to 7-1.

Happ walked two righties and gave up a hit to another and it cost him a run. He had thrown 37 pitches in the game.

Blake grounded to third for the first out in the fifth. Kemp was next and he singled into center. With DeWitt at the plate and the count 1-1, Kemp took off for second but left too early. Happ threw to first and Howard made an accurate throw to second where Rollins tagged Kemp out for the second out (he looked safe to me). DeWitt grounded to short for the third out.

The Phils hit for Happ in the top of the sixth. Happ allowed four hits and two walks in three innings in the game, with all of the damage done by righties. Two hits for Kemp, two for Garciaparra and walks to Ramirez and Martin. Nice job to pitch well enough to give the pen a break, though.

Eyre started the sixth. He got the pitcher Kuroda to ground to second for the first out. Furcal hit a ball between short and third and Feliz made a nice play, moving to his left to glove the ball and making a strong throw to first to get Furcal for the second out. Ethier flew to left for the third out.

Durbin started the seventh with the Phillies down 7-2. He got Ramirez to fly to right before he hit Martin with a first pitch breaking ball that didn’t break enough. The lefty Loney hit for the righty Garciaparra and struck out swinging on three pitches for the second out. Martin stole second with Blake at the plate, Coste made a miserable throw from his knees that nearly hit Durbin in the head before bouncing feet in front of second base. Blake walked to put men on first and second with two down, but Condrey got Kemp looking at a 1-2 pitch to leave both men stranded.

Romero pitched the eighth. Berroa, who replaced DeWitt at second in the top of the inning, led off and grounded to third for the first out. Jeff Kent hit for the pitcher Cory Wade and struck out swinging. Furcal walked on four pitches before Romero got the lefty Ethier looking at an 0-2 pitch to end the inning.

Nice to see both Durbin and Romero have nice outings. The Phils are going to need both of them.

The Phillies pen went 6 2/3 innings in the game, allowing a run on four hits and five walks. Happ allowed all four of the hits in his three innings, and two of the walks. Happ threw 44 pitches and is surely unavailable tonight. Durbin threw 21, Romero 16, Eyre 9 and Condrey eight.

Overall, the Phils have allowed 14 runs in the first three games of the series, six of which were allowed my Moyer. They have walked way too many over the past two games, though. After walking seven in game two they walked five last night.

The LA pen went two more scoreless innings. Wade needed 33 pitches to throw two innings, which is good news for the Phillies. Dodgers’ relievers have not been charged with a run in the series — they have thrown 11 1/3 innings.

The Phillies lineup against righty Hiroki Kuroda went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Werth (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Feliz back at third after Dobbs started against Billingsley and made an error in game two. Ruiz continues to catch with Victorino hitting second and Werth sixth. Ruiz caught about 60% of the batters that Moyer faced this season, with Coste catching for the other 40%.

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

Rollins got behind 0-2 and then grounded to second for the first out. Victorino popped to short on an 0-1 pitch for the second out. Kuroda got ahead of Utley 1-0 before he finally delivered his first ball of the game. The 1-1 pitch was way high. Not close to hitting Utley, but up near his head and perhaps not an accident after Myers threw way up and in on Martin and then behind Ramirez in the first inning of game two. Utley took two more ball and drew a walk. Howard got behind 1-2 and Utley took off for second as Kuroda threw ball three. Martin’s throw to second bounced before it got to the bag, but Furcal made a nice play to pick it and block Utley’s slide with his left foot as he tagged Utley out to end the frame.

I’d try hard not to get caught stealing with Howard at the plate.

Down 5-0, Howard led off the second and doubled into right field. Burrell was next and hit a 3-1 pitch well to left, but Ramirez took it at the warning track for the first out. Werth flew to center on a 1-1 pitch for the second out, with Howard moving up to third. Feliz was next and he lined a 1-1 pitch into left for a single. Howard scored to get the Phillies on the board at 5-1. Ruiz swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and flew to center.

Jenkins hit for Condrey to start the third and grounded a 3-1 pitch to short for the first out. Rollins went down looking at a 1-2 pitch on the inside corner. Kuroda threw the first pitch to Victorino behind his head, drawing an angry reaction from Victorino, who gestured at his head and then his body. Victorino grounded a 1-1 pitch to first for the third out. Garciaparra took the ball to the base himself, but Kuroda had come over towards the bag in case he needed to cover. Victorino again gestured to Kuroda and the benches cleared. No punches or ejections. Manny looked pretty enthusiastic, but was restrained.

Utley ripped the first pitch of the fourth to first, where it was picked by Garciaparra who took it to first for the first out. Howard grounded a 2-0 pitch to second for the second out. Burrell struck out swinging 2-2 to set the Phillies down.

Werth struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out of the fifth. Feliz grounded to short for the second. Ruiz flew to right on a 2-2 pitch for the third out.

Through five innings, Kuroda had allowed a run on two hits and a walk and thrown 67 pitches.

Iguchi hit for Happ to start the sixth and grounded to short. Rollins flew to center on a 1-0 pitch for the second out. Victorino grounded a 2-2 pitch to second for the second out.

Utley led off the seventh and hit a 2-1 pitch down the left field line for a double. Howard lined the first pitch of his at-bat into right for a single that fell at the feet of Ethier. Burrell was next and he dumped a 1-1 pitch into center field for a single that scored Utley and moved Howard to second with the Phils down 7-2. Cory Wade came in to pitch to Werth and quickly got ahead 0-2. Werth tried to check his swing at a 1-2 pitch outside and in the dirt. Looked like he checked to me, but he didn’t get the call and was down on strikes for the first out. Feliz hit for himself with the righty Wade on the mound and flew to center on a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Howard tagged and took third, sliding in safely ahead of a strong throw from Kemp. Dobbs hit for Ruiz and Wade stayed in to face him with two outs and men on first and third. Dobbs hit it back up the middle, but Furcal took it just to the left of second and threw Dobbs out at first to set the Phils down.

Coste was on deck to hit for the pitcher Eyre. Phillies could have hit Stairs for Feliz (or Dobbs for Feliz and Stairs for Ruiz), but didn’t. Don’t know why if they weren’t going to hit Stairs for the pitcher’s spot.

Coste led off the eighth with a single into left with Wade still on the mound for LA. First career post-season hit for Coste. Rollins struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out. Victorino popped to third on a 1-0 pitch. Utley grounded to short to leave Coste stranded.

Jonathan Broxton pitched the ninth for LA with a 7-2 lead. Howard grounded to first for the first out. Burrell struck out swinging on three pitches for the second. Werth got ahead 2-1 and singled to right, but was left at first when Feliz popped to second to end the game.

Rollins was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the game. He’s 1-for-13 with six strikeouts in the series.

Victorino 0-for-4 in the game and 2-for-13 with a triple and four RBI in the series.

Utley 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in the game. 3-for-8 with a double, a home run and five walks in the series.

Howard 2-for-4 with a double. 2-for-12 with a walk in the series.

Burrell 1-for-4 with an RBI. 4-for-11 with a home run and six strikeouts in the series.

Werth 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. 2-for-12 with a double in the series.

Feliz 1-for-4 with an RBI. 1-for-7 in the series.

Ruiz 0-for-2 in the game and 3-for-9 with a double in the series.

Joe Blanton (9-12, 4.69) faces Derek Lowe (14-11, 3.24) tonight in game four. Lowe started game one for the Dodgers and took a 2-0 shutout into the sixth inning before giving up three runs on homers to Utley and Burrell. He’ll be pitching on three days rest. He made one start on three days rest this season, on May 18 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and allowed seven runs on ten hits and a walk over five innings (12.60 ERA).

The Phillies have won the last five games that Blanton started, most notably game four of the NLDS. Blanton allowed three hit and took a shutout into the seventh before Fielder hit a monster home run to start the seventh and Hardy followed him with a single. Blanton ended the day with the win, having allowed a run on five hits and no walks over six while striking out seven.

Righties hit Blanton better than lefties this season. They hit .286 against him with a 1.56 ratio, lefties .256 with a 1.25 ratio.

Blanton made two starts against the Dodgers this season, throwing to a 4.09 ERA but a 1.91 ratio (he allowed 15 hits and six walks in 11 innings). On August 13 the Phillies gave him a 6-1 lead in the second, but allowed four runs on nine hits and three walks over five innings and the Dodgers came back to win 7-6. Blanton was much better on August 24. He held LA to a run on six hits and three walks over six innings and the Phils won the game on a game-winning three-run homer by Feliz in the eleventh.

Ramirez is an amazing 14-for-25 against Blanton in his career (560/600/720). Another former ALer, Casey Blake, is just 1-for-21. Berroa is the only other player on the roster who has more than ten at-bats against Blanton, he’s 3-for-11.


Myers, Phils’ offense come up with an October surprise for Billingsley

The Phillies got an offensive explosion yesterday, which isn’t that surprising. What was surprising was the source. Rollins, Utley, Howard, Burrell and Werth combined to go 3-for-19 without an RBI, but the Phillies scored eight runs in the game. Shane Victorino and pitcher Brett Myers combined to go 5-for-8 with seven RBI.

After a memorable at-bat against CC Sabathia in game two of the NLDS, Myers again shined at the plate in game two of the NLCS. He was 3-for-3 with the bat in the game and drove in three runs. He has two RBI in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 regular seasons combined.

All three of Myers’ hits came on the first pitch of his at-bat. He saw three pitches in the contest.

The Phils were all over Dodgers’ started Chad Billingsley, who didn’t make it out of the third. The Phils started the fourth up 8-2. They should have cruised from there, but the problem was that Myers wasn’t pitching quite as well as he was hitting. He allowed a three-run homer to Manny in the fourth, which got the Dodgers back in the game. LA brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but the Phils’ pen was again up to the task. In the first two games of the series, neither pen has been charged with a run.

The Phillies beat the Dodgers in game two of the NLCS yesterday, winning 8-5. The Phillies lead the best-of-seven series two games to none.

Myers got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing five runs on six hits and four walks. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He struck out six.

The Dodger lineup against Myers went (1) Furcal (SS/S) (2) Martin (C/R) (3) Ramirez (LF/R) (4) Ethier (RF/L) (5) Loney (1B/L) (6) Kemp (CF/R) (7) DeWitt (2B/L) (8) Blake (3B/R). Ethier hits cleanup after hitting second against the lefty Hamels in game one. Martin moves to second in the order from fourth. Blake and DeWitt both stay in the lineup, but flip-flop the seven and eight spots in the order.

The Dodgers started the game with six hitters on their bench: Kent (R), Berroa (R), Ardoin (R), Ozuna (R), Garciaparra (R) and Pierre (L).

Furcal led off the first for the Dodgers and showed bunt at the first pitch but took strike one. He flew to left on the next pitch for the first out. Martin was next and Myers knocked him down with a 1-2 pitch that was up and in. Martin struck out swinging on the next pitch for the second out. Myers delivered a 1-0 pitch to Ramirez that was behind him. Ramirez went down swinging 3-2 to set the Dodgers down. Thirteen pitches in the first inning for Myers.

Ethier led off the second and hit a 1-2 pitch into right for a single. Myers quickly got two strikes on Loney, but didn’t get a close call 0-2. With the count even at 2-2, Loney drilled a ball to deep right and off the top of the wall. Loney had a double and Ethier went to third. Myers struck Kemp out swinging 1-2 for the first out. DeWitt grounded a 1-1 pitch slowly to first for the second out, but Ethier came in to score to put the Dodgers up 1-0 and Loney moved to third. Myers walked Blake intetionally to get to the pitcher Billingsley, putting men on first and third with two down. Billingsley flew to right to leave the runners stranded. Twenty-four pitches in the inning for Myers put him at 37 for the game.

Furcal bunted the first pitch of his at-bat back to the mound for the first out in the third with the Phillies up 4-1. Myers walked Martin on a 3-2 pitch before Ramirez popped to Utley for the second out. Ethier walked on five pitches, putting men on first and second for Myers. Loney was next and he hit a 1-1 pitch into center for a single, scoring Martin to cut the lead to 4-2 with Ethier going to second. Kemp was next and hit a ground ball to third that Dobbs didn’t handle, loading the bases with two outs for DeWitt. Myers struck DeWitt out swinging at a 2-2 curveball to leave the bases loaded.

Awful inning for Myers, who had to work around the error by Dobbs but walked two men to get himself into trouble. Twenty-seven pitches in the inning put him at 64.

Myers started the fourth up 8-2. Blake led off with a single into left. Kent was next, he had entered in the bottom of the third with McDonald to play second, and he hit a 1-2 pitch hard to short, but Rollins took it on one hop and started a double-play that cleared the bases. Furcal struck out swinging at an 0-2 pitch, but Ruiz failed to block the ball and it got away from him. Furcal took first and the inning continued. Martin followed with a single into left, moving Furcal to second. It brought Manny to the plate with a chance to get LA back in the game and he did just that, hitting a 1-1 pitch just out to left. Not a terrible pitch from Myers or an easy one to hit out, the ball was a little high and inside. Myers struck Ethier out swinging 1-2.

Big mistake by Ruiz helps cost the Phillies three runs. The home run from Ramirez made the game close again and meant the Phils would have to go to their pen for four innings after starting the fourth with a six run lead. Nineteen pitches for Myers in the inning, nine of which came after Furcal reached on his strikeout, had him at 83 for the game.

Loney flew to left for the first out of the fifth, but Kemp followed with a walk. The pitcher James McDonald hit for himself with one out and a man on first and the Dodgers down three. He hit a slow ground ball to short and Rollins tossed to Utley to get one but the ball was hit too slowly to get two. Blake flew to right for the third out, leaving McDonald stranded at first. Nineteen pitches again for Myers, putting him at 102.

Durbin started the sixth up 8-5. Kent led off and hit the first pitch of his at-bat hard again, but Werth took it in right for the first out. Furcal reached on an infield single, but Martin and Ramirez both flew to right to leave him stranded.

Great to see Durbin have a solid inning.

Romero started the seventh with lefties Ethier and Loney due to lead off. He got them both, getting Ethier on a ground ball to Feliz, who had just entered the game, for the first out and Loney swinging on three pitches for the second. The righty Kemp was next and Romero walked him on a 3-2 pitch. Righty Nomar Garciaparra hit for the pitcher McDonald and Manuel called on Madson to pitch to him. Garciaparra singled into right and Kemp took third, bringing Blake to the plate as the tying run. Blake got ahead 1-0 and then drove a ball deep to left-center. Victorino raced towards the ball, reaching out to feel for the wall then jumping up to make the catch and end the inning.

Great play by Victorino to get to the ball and time the jump.

Madson gave the Phillies another great inning in the eighth, setting the Dodgers down 1-2-3. He got Kent to ground to second and then struck out Furcal and Martin.

Lidge started the ninth up 8-5 and walked Ramirez on five pitches. He struck the lefty Ethier out swinging on three pitches for the first out, Ramirez took second on defensive indifference. Lidge got behind the lefty Loney 3-0 before Loney walked on a 3-2 pitch. It put men on first and second with one and brought Kemp to the plate as the tying run. Kemp struck out swinging 1-2 for the second out. Garciaparra was next and Lidge got him swinging at an 0-2 pitch way outside and low to end the game.

Four scoreless innings for the pen in the game. They allowed two hits, a single off of Durbin by Furcal and a single off of Madson by Garciaparra, and three walks. Everyone should be well-rested by Sunday with today’s off day.

The LA pen went 5 2/3 innings without allowing a run. They allowed three hits and five walks. McDonald was particularly impressive, throwing 3 1/3 innings and striking out five while allowing two hits and a walk. McDonald threw 60 pitches in the game, which may keep him off the field on Sunday. The LA starter Billingsley only threw 59. Kershaw threw 18 pitches in relief, suggesting that we may see Maddux rather than Kershaw starting game four.

Neither bullpen has been charged with a run in the series. They have combined to throw 14 2/3 innings.

The Phillies lineup against righty Chad Billingsley went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Werth (7) Dobbs (8) Ruiz. Dobbs at third, getting his second start of the post-season. Burrell gets the start in left on his 32nd birthday. Ruiz catches again. Coste was behind the plate for the Phillies most often when Myers started, he was catching for about 77% of the batters that Myers faced this year.

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

Rollins led off the first and went down swinging 2-2. Victorino lined the first pitch of his at-bat into right, where Ethier took it for the second out. Utley walked on five pitches, putting a man on first for Howard. Howard flailed at the first two pitches before Billingsley delivered ball one in the dirt. He struck out swinging at a 1-2 breaking ball to end the inning.

Billingsley struck out Burrell and then Werth to start the second. Dobbs was next and he hit a weird flair that dropped right behind second base and went for a single. Ruiz was next and he ripped a 2-1 pitch into the gap in left-center. The ball rolled all the way to the wall for a double, allowing Dobbs to score from first and tie the game at 1-1. Myers was swinging at the first pitch of his at-bat and singled into center, plating Ruiz to put the Phils up 2-1. Rollins was next and he singled into center. Myers rounded second and headed for third, where he would have been out by a lot, by Kemp bobbled the ball in center and Myers was safe at third and Rollins able to move up to second. Kemp was charged with an error on the play and it was a big one, cause Victorino was next and he singled into center, scoring both runners and putting the Phillies up 4-1. Utley walked to put men on first and second, but Howard left them stranded. He struck out looking 1-2 to end the inning.

Huge bobble in center by Kemp, who probably would have thrown Myers out at third and ended the inning without the bobble. With two outs, Dobbs gets it started and the Phils go single, double, single, single, single, walk, strikeout.

Burrell singled to start the third with the Phils up 4-2. He went to third when Werth doubled into the corner in left. Dobbs was walked intentionally to load the bases for Ruiz. Ruiz hit a ground ball to first and Loney came home to force Burrell for the first out. Myers was next and again hit the first pitch of his at-bat, lining a ball between a diving Loney and the first base line. Werth and Dobbs scored, putting the Phils up 6-2, and Ruiz took third. Chan Ho Park took over for Billingsley and struck out Rollins for the second out. Victorino was next and he lined a 2-2 pitch into right, where Ethier took a bizarre angle on the ball and it got passed the right fielder. Victorino stormed around the bases for a triple. Two more runs scored and the Phils led 8-2. Lefty Joe Beimel came in to pitch, and walked both Utley and Howard. It loaded the bases for Burrell and righty James McDonald came in to pitch to him. Burrell struck out looking at a 1-2 pitch.

Great inning for the Phils, but both Ruiz and Rollins were unable to bring a runner in from third with less than two outs. Beimel did not do well with his first chance of the series against the Phillies lefties.

McDonald struck out Werth to start the fourth before Dobbs singled. Ruiz grounded to short for the second out with Dobbs forced at second. For the third time in the game, Myers swung at the first pitch and got a hit. This one was a dribbler down the third base line that moved Ruiz to second. Rollins struck out swinging at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

With the lead cut to 8-5, Victorino flew to right for the first out of the fifth before Utley walked on four pitches. Howard grounded to first for the second out with Utley moving to second. McDonald got Burrell swinging again to set the Phils down.

McDonald threw a 1-2-3 sixth, getting Werth on a fly ball to center, Dobbs swinging and Ruiz on a ground ball to second.

Clayton Kershaw threw a 1-2-3 seventh. He got Feliz to fly to right, Rollins on a strikeout swinging with Martin throwing to first to record the out and Victorino on a popup to short.

Kershaw returned to start the eighth to pitch to Utley and Howard. He got them both, getting Utley on a fly ball to center and Howard on a fly ball to left. Bruntlett, who had entered in the top of the inning to play left, drew a walk. Cory Wade came in to pitch to Werth and lined to third on an 0-2 pitch.

The LA pen has thrown 8 2/3 innings in the series. Wade and Broxton have combined to get one out. It’s worked out great for them, but I’m surprised they didn’t use those guys more with the off day today.

Rollins was 1-for-5, struck out four times and left four men on base. 1-for-9 with seven men left on base in the series.

Victorino 2-for-5 with a triple and four RBI. 2-for-9 in the series.

Utley 0-for-1 with four walks in the game. 2-for-5 with a home run in the series.

Howard 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts and four men left on base. 0-for-8 in the first two games.

Burrell 1-for-4 with three strikeouts and four men left on base. 3-for-7.

Werth 1-for-5 with a double and two strikeouts. 1-for-8.

Dobbs 2-for-3 in the game and in the set. Feliz 0-for-1 in the game and 0-for-3 with a walk in the series.

Ruiz 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI. 3-for-7 in the series.

No game today. Jamie Moyer (16-7, 3.71) faces righty Hiroki Kuroda (9-10, 3.73) in game three on Sunday night. The 33-year-old Kuroda pitched well for the Dodgers this season and was especailly effective down the stretch. In 11 starts in August and September, Kuroda went 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.04 ratio. In 14 starts after the All-Star break to end the regular season, Kuroda allowed just three home runs in 78 1/3 innings.

He doesn’t give up the walk. Hasn’t walked more than two batters in a game in any of his last 18 starts.

He started game three of the NLDS in LA, which the Dodgers won 3-1, and held the Cubs to six hits and two walks over 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

The Phillies faced him twice this season and Kuroda handled them both times, holding them to two earned runs over 13 innings (1.38 ERA) while allowing just four hits and two walks (0.46 ratio) and striking out 12. The Phillies hit .095 against him. On August 14 he got the win in LA, holding the Phils to a run on two hits, doubles by Werth and Utley, over seven innings as the Dodgers won the game 3-1. On August 24, Feliz hit a three-run homer off of Jason Johnson in the bottom of the eleventh to win the game, but again Kuroda pitched well. He went six innings, allowing two singles and two walks.

Rollins, Howard and Burrell combined to go 0-for-16 against him this season. Ruiz was 1-for-2 with a double and Werth 1-for-4 with a double. Utley 2-for-6 with a double.

After fantastic performances in critical games for the Phils in 2007 and 2008, Moyer finally had a bad start in game three of the NLDS. He lasted just four innings before the Phils hit for him in the top of the fifth in Milwaukee, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks. He pitched a little worse than his line, needing 90 pitches to get through four frames.

Moyer was dramatically better away from home this season. He threw to a 4.61 ERA with a 1.47 ratio in 16 starts away from Citizens Bank Park with going 10-3 with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.20 ratio in 17 starts away.

Moyer didn’t face the Dodgers this season. Ramirez has seen him a lot over his career, though, and the numbers are ugly: 18-for-53 with ten homers (340/417/962). Blake 2-for-17 (.118). Ethier, Kemp, Loney and Martin all have less than five at-bats against him.


Maybe what they’ve been trying to say about Burrell is he’s good for 30 good swings a post-season

That would make a little more sense.

Pat Burrell may have a one-path swing, but the path apparently goes right through the playoffs. Burrell blasted his third home run in two games last night, a game-winner for the Phils. Over the last two games the Phillies have scored nine runs and Burrell has driven in five of them. After ending the regular season in a long slump, Burrell sure chose a splendid time to pick things up again. He’s 5-for-his-last-7 with a walk.

The Phillies won game one of the NLCS last night, a game that was similar to the first game of the Division Series against the Brewers. Again Cole Hamels pitched very well, again the Phils scored three runs with all of the runs coming in one inning and again the inning they scored in was aided by a defensive miscue by their opponent.

Derek Lowe and his sinker kept the Phils in check through five innings and Lowe started the sixth up 2-0. Victorino led off the sixth with a ground ball to short and his speed made Rafael Furcal hurry a little too much. Furcal’s throw to first was wild and Victorino wound up on second on the error. That opened the door for the Phils. Utley popped one out to right to tie the game. Two batters later Burrell homered to left to put them up to stay.

Hamels was fantastic for his second straight start of the playoffs, holding the Dodgers to a pair of runs over seven innings. One of the runs scored with the help of a check-swing double down the right-field line to start the fourth. Madson and Lidge again were both fantastic, protecting a one-run lead in the eighth and the ninth.

The Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers last night, winning game one of the best-of-seven NLCS 3-2. Game two is this afternoon.

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

The Dodger lineup against Hamels went (1) Furcal (SS/S) (2) Ethier (RF/L) (3) Ramirez (LF/R) (4) Martin (C/R) (5) Loney (1B/L) (6) Kemp (CF/R) (7) Blake (3B/R) (8) DeWitt (2B/L). Lefties Loney and DeWitt in the lineup with Garciaparra and Kent on the bench for the Dodgers. Ethier, hitting second, is likely to drop against righties.

The Dodgers started the game with six hitters on their bench: Kent (R), Berroa (R), Ardoin (R), Ozuna (R), Garciaparra (R) and Pierre (L).

Hamels got Furcal to ground a 1-1 pitch to short for the first out in the first. Ethier was next and he lined a 1-1 pitch into left-center. Burrell cut it off before it got to the track, but Ethier had a double. Manny tried to check his swing on a high fastball to start his at-bat, but couldn’t hold up. He hammered the next pitch to center. It hit high off the wall in center and missed going out by about a foot. Ramirez had a double with Ethier scoring easily to put LA up 1-0. Martin went down swinging at a high fastball for the second out before Hamels walked Loney on a 3-2 pitch low and away. The first pitch to Kemp was up and away and off of Ruiz’s glove for a passed ball that moved the runners to second and third with two down. Kemp flew to right on a 2-1 pitch to set the Dodgers down.

First chance for the Phils not to pitch to Manny with one out and a man on second. They pitch to him and it costs them. I would have pitched to him, too.

Twenty-three pitches in the first inning for Hamels.

He came back with a quick 1-2-3 second. He struck Blake out on three pitches, got DeWitt to fly to left on a 2-1 pitch and got Lowe looking at a 2-2 breaking ball. Twelve more pitches put Hamels at 35.

Furcal grounded to short to start the third. Ethier was next and hit a 1-1 pitch hard to first where Howard tried to backhand the ball but misplayed it. The ball went off of Howard’s body and Ethier had a single, his second hit of the game. Hamels got Ramirez to pop to short for the second out, but walked Martin on five pitches to put men on first and second with two down. Loney was next and got ahead 2-0, but Hamels came back with three straight strikes to get him swinging to leave both runners stranded. Twenty pitches in the inning for Hamels. 55.

Kemp led off the fourth and swung at the first pitch. He got jammed badly, popping a ball down the right field line. It landed just inside the line and bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. Blake grounded a 2-2 pitch to short for the first out with Kemp taking third. Kemp taking third on the ground out proved to be critical in the inning for LA, because DeWitt was next and flew to center deep enough to score him and put LA up 2-0. Lowe grounded to first to end the frame. Twelve more pitches for Hamels had him at 67 through four innings.

Great base-running by Kemp to go to third on the ground ball to short and it got the Dodgers a run. Unfortunate way to give up a run with the silly double by Kemp to start the inning.

Furcal tried to bunt early in the count to start the fifth before he grounded to short for the third time in the game for the first out. Hamels got Ethier for the first time next, striking him out swinging at a pretty 2-2 changeup. Manny followed with a single into center, but Hamels left him stranded by getting Martin looking 1-2 for the third out. Seventeen pitches for Hamel in the inning and 84 for the game.

Loney led off the sixth and lined a 2-1 pitch into left for a single. Kemp was next and grounded an 0-1 pitch to short, where Rollins started a double-play to clear the bases. Blake grounded an 0-1 pitch to short for the third out. Just eight pitches in the sixth for Hamels. He was at 92 for the game.

Hamels started the seventh with a 3-2 lead. He got behind DeWitt 3-1, but came back to strike him out swinging. Jeff Kent hit for the pitcher Chan Ho Park and swung out swinging at a 1-2 fastball for the second out. Furcal was next and hit a ground ball back up the middle that went off of Hamels but right to Rollins. Rollins threw Furcal out for the third out. Thirteen pitches for Hamels in the inning had Hamels at 105.

Madson started the eighth with a one-run lead. Ethier led off and Madson struck him out swinging at a 1-2 changeup that was low and away. Manny lined the first pitch of his at-bat to third for the second out. Martin smashed a 1-0 pitch down the third base line, under the glove of Feliz and off his toe. Burrell, who was probably only in the game because he was due to hit fourth in the bottom of the inning, got to it quickly, holding Martin to a single. It brought up the lefty Loney and Madson stayed in to pitch to him with lefties Eyre and Romero in the pen. Loney chopped a grounder to second to set the Dodgers down.

Worked out great for the Phillies, but I think you need to bring a lefty in to pitch to Loney as the go-ahead run there. After being a critical component of the pen all season, Romero has thrown one pitch in the post-season and Eyre was the Phillie lefty warming late in the game.

Huge inning for Madson against the heart of the order with a one-run lead.

Lidge started the ninth for the Phils. Kemp drove a ball into right-center, but Victorino took it in front of the warning track for the first out. Lidge bounced a 2-2 pitch to Blake in front of the plate. Blake fouled off a 3-2 pitch before he flew to Victorino in center at the track for the second out. The lefty DeWitt was next and took ball one before he flailed at two sliders. The 1-2 pitch was in the dirt. DeWitt swung and missed and the ball got away from Ruiz, but Ruiz pounced on it and threw DeWitt out at first to end the game.

Lidge has looked fantastic since game one of the NLDS and looked to be in complete control again last night.

Two scoreless innings for the Phillies pen. They allowed one hit, the single by Martin off of Madson, and struck out two. Lidge threw 13 pitches and Madson threw ten.

The LA pen went 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit, the infield single by Ruiz off of Maddux. They didn’t strike anyone out or walk anyone. None of Kuo, Maddux or Park threw more than ten pitches.

The Phillies lineup against righty Derek Lowe went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Werth (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Werth (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Feliz at third with the lefty Dobbs on the bench — Dobbs would help a Phillies offense struggling to put up runs. Ruiz behind the plate — the Phillies have now played eight playoff games in the past two years and Ruiz has started all eight of them. Ruiz caught Hamels most of the time during the regular season, he was behind the plate for about 79% of the batters he faced.

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

Rollins led off the first and took strike one before he popped to first. Victorino took strike one before he grounded a 1-1 pitch to second. Utley took strike one before he singled into center. It brought up Howard with a man on first and the Phils down 1-0. Howard got ahead 2-0 and then hit a 3-2 pitch hard on the ground towards right field, but DeWitt made a nice sliding play to field the ball and threw Howard out to end the inning.

Burrell led off the second and fouled off two 3-2 pitches before he singled into left. Ramirez made a nice play to cut the ball off before it got to the wall, but he would have had to fall down to allow Burrell to go to second. Werth got ahead 3-0, but took strike one and then grounded a double-play ball to second that cleared the bases. Feliz walked looking at a 3-2 pitch low and away to put a man on for Ruiz with two outs, but Ruiz grounded to short for the third out.

Tough result for Werth after getting ahead 3-0. The double-play killed the inning.

Lowe got three ground balls in a 1-2-3 third. Hamels grounded to first, Rollins grounded to second for the first two outs. Victorino hit a ground ball to first and Loney tossed to Lowe covering the ball — Victorino and Lowe both went down in a mini-collision, but both got up looking okay.

Utley went down swinging 2-2 for the first out in the fourth with the Phils down 2-0. Howard was next and he hit a 2-2 pitch slowly to second. DeWitt was playing deep on the shift and had to come way in, barehand the ball and throw to first to get Howard for the second out. Second time DeWitt had made a nice play at second to keep Howard off base. Burrell struck out swinging 2-2 to end the inning.

Werth hit a ball down the third base line to start the fifth, but Blake fielded and made the long throw across the infield for the first out. Feliz grounded an 0-1 pitch to short for the second out. Ruiz got behind 0-2, but hit a 1-2 pitch into right for a single. Hamels was next with two outs and a man on first, and he lined a single into right-center. Ruiz went to second and it brought up Rollins with two outs and two men on. Lowe seemed bothered by Ruiz on second and worried about Ruiz relaying signals to the batter. Rollins got ahead 2-1, but hit a 3-2 pitch into left that Manny took in front of the warning track to leave both runners stranded.

Lowe had thrown 75 pitches through five innings.

Victorino led off the sixth with a ground ball to short. Furcal hurried his throw to try and beat the speedy Victorino, but his throw was high and off the glove of Loney for an error. Victorino took second. Utley hit the first pitch of his at-bat just out to right, tying the game at 2-2. Howard grounded to first for the first out. Burrell took three straight balls before Lowe got one over. The 3-1 pitch had way too much of the plate and Burrell hammered it out to left, putting the Phillies up 3-2. For Burrell it was his third home run (and fifth hit) in his last seven at-bats. That was the end of the night for Lowe and the righty Chan Ho Park came in to pitch to Werth. Park got Werth to pop a 1-2 pitch into center for the second out. Feliz was next and chopped a 2-1 pitch to third. Blake made a fantastic play, bare-handing the ball and throwing him out to set the Phils down.

After the runner on second was clearly a factor for Lowe in the fifth, you have you wonder if Victorino on second was in Lowe’s head when he served up the home run to Utley.

Greg Maddux started the seventh for LA. Ruiz led off and hit a 2-2 pitch in the hole between short and third. Furcal fielded and threw to first, but Ruiz hustled down the line and beat it out for a single. Dobbs was in the on-deck circle, but after Ruiz got on Taguchi hit for Hamels. He bunted at the first pitch and popped it up to Loney for the first out. Rollins was next and hit a ball back up the middle and under the glove of Maddux. DeWitt made another nice play at second, fielding the ball with his momentum taking him to the shortstop side of second, then tagging the base and throwing to first to double-up Rollins and end the inning. Rollins was safe, but it’s was a nice play by DeWitt anyway.

Terrible decision by Manuel to play for one run and hit Taguchi for Hamels with nobody out and a man on first if it worked. It didn’t. Three good left-handed hitters on the bench for the Phils in Dobbs, Stairs and Jenkins. Yuck.

Lefty Hong-Chih Kuo started the eighth for the Dodgers. Victorino led off and looped a soft liner to DeWitt at second for the first out. Utley grounded a 2-0 pitch to first for the second out. Howard flew to center on a 2-1 pitch for the third out.

Kuo gets the job done in round one of the LA pen against Utley and Howard. Interesting that he was the first choice for the duty ahead of Beimel.

Rollins was 0-for-4, hit into a double-play and left three men on base.

Victorino was 0-for-4, but his ground ball to short in the sixth and the Furcal error sparked a Phillies rally.

Utley was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer.

Howard 0-for-4, a victim of some nice defense by DeWitt.

Burrell was 2-for-3 with a home run.

Werth 0-for-3.

Feliz 0-for-2 with a walk.

Ruiz 2-for-3.

Brett Myers (10-13, 4.55) faces righty Chad Billingsley (16-10, 3.14) this afternoon. Billingsley was seventh in the NL in ERA this season and fifth in strikeouts. He allowed just 14 home runs in 200 2/3 innings on the season. The 24-year-old was much better against righties than lefties, though. Righties hit 225/283/338 against him while lefties hit 274/369/391. He gave up 80 walks this season, which was eighth in the NL. Fifty of the walks were issued to left-handed hitters, only Ubaldo Jimenez and Ian Snell walked more lefties in the NL this season.

He started game two of the NLDS against the Cubs in Chicago and pitched very well, allowing a run on five hits over 6 2/3 while striking out seven. The Dodgers have won six of the last seven games that he has started.

Billingsley faced the Phils once this season, on August 25, and allowed three runs over six innings. Rollins was 3-for-3 with a double and a triple against him in that game as the Phils rolled to a 5-0 win behind Myers. Billingsley walked five in the game, which tied his season-high.

Burrell has ten at-bats against him for his career, he’s 3-for-10 (.300) with two doubles. Feliz is 4-for-12 (.333). Rollins had been 0-for-6 against him before three hits in the game in August.

Myers came of miserable starts back-to-back to throw a gem in game two of the NLDS against the Brewers. After a rocky first inning in which he walked in a run, Myers was awesome. He ended the game having allowed two runs on a pair of hits and three walks over seven innings.

He faced the Dodgers in the August 25 game, getting the start against Billingsley and earning the win by throwing seven shutout innings in which he struck out eight. He also faced LA on August 14, allowing three runs over seven but striking out eight as the Phillies fell 3-1. Matt Kemp homered off of him in that game.

Furcal, Kent and Pierre have all seen Myers a lot over their careers. Furcal is 6-for-28 (.214) with a double. Pierre 13-for-40 with a double (.325). Kent has hit him the hardest, 7-for-19 (.368) with a double, a triple and a home run. Manny is 3-for-19 (.158) with two doubles and a home run — Ramirez hit a grand slam off of Myers on June 26, 2005.

Update: No matter what the Phillies do this afternoon, the worst news of the day is that Chalie Manuel’s mother died this morning.


Relief in brief

Here’s a look at some of the guys we could be seeing out of the Dodgers bullpen in the NLCS, what they did this season and in September:

   
2008

September, 2008

Player
L/R IP ERA Ratio K IP ERA Ratio K
Jonathan Broxton R 69.0 3.13 1.17 88 11.1 0.79 1.24 13
Takashi Saito R 47.0 2.49 1.19 60 5.2 4.76 1.76 7
Cory Wade R 71.1 2.27 0.93 51 16.2 1.08 0.54 13
James McDonald R 6.0 0.00 1.00 2 6.0 0.00 1.00 2
Greg Maddux R 194.0 4.22 1.21 98 29.2 4.25 0.94 14
Chan Ho Park R 95.1 3.40 1.40 79 9.2 6.52 1.55 11
Joe Beimel L 49.0 2.02 1.45 32 10.0 0.90 0.90 8
Hong-Chih Kuo L 80.0 2.14 1.01 96 3.2 2.45 1.91 5

In the NLDS, the LA pen threw eight innings. Wade threw 3 2/3 of them and allowed one run. Broxton threw 3 1/3 scoreless frames without allowing a hit (he walked two). Maddux threw one scoreless frame. Saito started the ninth inning of game two with a 10-1 lead and allowed two runs on three hits without getting an out.

I think it’s safe to say that Broxton and Wade are the guys they want to lean on in the NLCS as well.

Against the Phillies, the Dodgers look likely to start righties Lowe, Billingsley and Kuroda. If they go with a fourth starter, lefty Clayton Kershaw looks likely to get the call with another option being veteran righty Greg Maddux.

Who is going to get Utley and Howard out is always an issue for a team facing the Phils. Here’s what the guys who may be primarily tasked with that responsibility in the NLCS have done against lefties this season:

Player L/R PA AVG OBP SLG K
Beimel L 100 278 330 311 17
Kuo L 98 202 216 340 44

The strikeout numbers for Kuo are particularly impressive. Beimel has allowed just three extra-base hits to lefties this season, all doubles.

Kuo was not on the roster for LA in the NLDS. He last pitched on September 14 before being shut down with a sore elbow. He may be be added to the roster for the NLCS, which could cost McDonald his spot of the roster.

Righties Saito and Wade were both really good against lefties as well in ’08:

Player L/R PA AVG OBP SLG K
Saito R 94 244 298 314 24
Wade R 116 211 243 312 25

I don’t think we’ll see much of Saito against lefties given how bad he’s been of late. He allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings in his appearances after coming off the DL in mid-September before one miserable appearance in the NLDS. Wade is fantastic, though.

Broxton will probably close, but along with Park, his numbers against lefties this year are bad:

Player L/R PA AVG OBP SLG K
Broxton R 126 270 400 400 28
Park R 180 301 399 464 33

One thing I think is interesting is the notion that Kershaw may be the game four starter primarily to counter the lefties Utley and Howard. Despite the fact that he’s right-handed, Maddux seems like he may be better suited to handle lefties:

Player L/R PA AVG OBP SLG K
Kershaw L 92 250 337 475 30
Maddux R 371 272 310 391 42

Finally, the 23-year-old rookie James McDonald has faced just 18 left-handed hitters in his career, but he’s been good against them. They are 2-for-17 with two singles and a walk (118/167/118).

Update: Saito is off the LA roster for the NLCS. Kuo has taken his spot. The Phillies roster for the NLCS remains the same, with Happ active and Seanez inactive. Here is the Dodgers roster for the NLCS.

Cole Hamels (14-10, 3.09) faces righty Derek Lowe (14-11, 3.24) tonight in game one of the NLCS. Lowe was ninth in the NL in ERA this season. His 1.13 ratio was fourth-best in the league. He allowed just 14 home runs in 211 innings. Opponents hit 246/285/352 against him and righties and lefties put up very similar numbers.

He started game one on the NLDS in Chicago and held the Cubs to two runs over six innings. He hasn’t been charged with more than two runs in a start in any of his last ten outings.

He has been better at home than he has away. In 17 starts at Dodger Stadium this season he went 9-5 with a 2.30 ERA and an 0.93 ERA. In 17 starts away from LA he went 5-6 with a 4.42 ERA and a 1.39 ratio.

He started against the Phillies on August 11 and allowed three runs over 6 1/3 innings. Utley hit a pair of doubles against him in that game.

Burrell has hit him well over his career, 6-for-19 (.313) with two doubles. Feliz has seen him a lot without much success, 5-for-23 (.217) with two home runs. Dobbs is 0-for-9. Howard 2-for-16 (.125), Utley 5-for-14 (.357) with three doubles.

Hamels was fantastic in game one of the NLDS, holding the Brewers to two singles and a walk over eight shutout innings while striking out nine. He showed no sign of being worn down by the 227 1/3 innings he threw in 2008, second-most in the NL.

Hamels made two starts against the Dodgers this season, throwing to a 2.57 ERA with an 0.86 ratio. He pitched well against them on August 12, leaving with a 3-2 lead after seven innings, but the Dodgers scored one in the eighth off of Durbin and one in the ninth off of Romero to win 4-3. He got the win on August 23, holding LA to two runs over seven innings while the Phils scored nine times. Russell Martin hit a two-run homer off of him in that game to account for both of the runs he allowed.

None of the current Dodgers have ten career at-bats against him. Ramirez 2-for-8 (.250), Martin 1-for-6 (.167), Blake 2-for-8 (.250), Loney 1-for-6 (.167), Ethier 0-for-4.


Who says nobody walks in LA?

Here’s a look at eight key Dodgers hitters, what they did in the NLDS and what they did at the end of the regular season:

Player NLDS 9/15/08 to
end of regular season
   
Manny Ramirez 5-for-10 (.500) 4 BB, 2 HR 17-for-39 (436/551/769)
1.320 OPS 3 HR, 2 2B, 10 BB
Russell Martin 4-for-13 (.308) 3 2B, 1 HR 5
RBI
12-for-34 (353/511/500)
1.011 OPS 2 2B, 1 HR, 11 BB
     
   
Matt Kemp 2-for-13 (.154) 2 2B, 5 K 17-for-49 (347/396/531) 
.927 OPS 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 BB
Blake DeWitt 3-for-11 (.273) 2 2B 11-for-40 (275/415/425) .840
OPS 2 HR, 10 BB
Andre Ethier 1-for-10 (.100) 4 BB 14-for-41 (341/451/390) .841
OPS 2 2B, 9 BB
Rafael Furcal 4-for-12 (.333) 3 BB 2-for-9 (222/300/222) .522
OPS
     
   
Casey Blake 3-for-11 (.273) 2 RBI 9-for-41 (220/304/390) .694
OPS 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR
James Loney 3-for-14 (.214) 1 2B, 1 HR,
6 RBI
9-for-47  (191/220/277) 
.497 OPS

I think there are two big things to remember when you consider the LA offense these days. Neither are real encouraging for the Phillies.

The first bad news for the Phillies is that the players who have hurt the LA offense this season, generally speaking, aren’t playing any more. Berroa and Pierre were both on the bench for the NLDS and both had one at-bat. Andruw Jones is on the DL. Kent wasn’t nearly as bad as the rest of that group, but he also had just one at-bat against the Cubs.

The other bad news is maybe even a little worse: all of the sudden the Dodgers are walking at a tremendous rate. LA led both leagues in walks in September. They drew 124 in 25 games, about 4.96 per game. In their first 137 games through the end of August, they drew 419 walks in 137 games, about 3.06 walks per game. Looking at the numbers from September 15 to the end of the regular season, Ethier, Ramirez, DeWitt and Martin all drew at least nine walks.

I feel pretty comfortable saying that if the Phillies walk five batters per game in the series they are going to lose.

Looking at the eight position players for the Dodgers, Ramirez and Martin both came into the series with the Cubs hot and stayed hot. Blake and Loney came in cold. Loney had just two hits in the series but drove in six runs. Blake managed three singles in 11 at-bats. Ethier and Kemp both came into the series playing well but cooled down against Chicago, combining to go 3-for-23. Furcal is 6-for-21 since coming off the DL. DeWitt was hitting well coming into the series and went 3-for-11 with a pair of doubles.

Here’s what the Phillies likely to see the most time on the field in the NLCS did against the Brewers and at the end of the regular season:


NLDS

9/15/08 to end of regular season

Shane Victorino
5-for-14 (.357)
3 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 SB
19-for-45
(422/435/689) 1.124 OPS 3 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI 3 SB

Greg Dobbs
3-for-5 (.600)
6-for-14
(429/467/857) 1.324 OPS 3 2B, 1 HR

Jayson Werth
5-for-16 (.313)
3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 K
12-for-48
(250/280/417) .697 OPS 2 2B, 2 HR, 15 K

Jimmy Rollins
6-for-16 (.375)
2 2B, 1 HR
11-for-44
(250/365/364) .729 OPS 5 2B, 7 BB
Pat
Burrell
3-for-12 (.250)
2 BB, 2 HR
8-for-37
(216/333/459) .792 OPS 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 BB

Ryan Howard
2-for-11 (.182)
1 2B, 5 BB
14-for-40
(350/429/775) 1.204 OPS 1 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR

Chase Utley
2-for-15 (.133)
1 2B
13-for-42
(310/400/548) .948 OPS 4 2B, 2 HR

Carlos Ruiz
1-for-14 (.071) 4-for-28
(143/306/286) .592 OPS 1 2B, 1 HR

Pedro Feliz
3-for-13 (.231)
1 2B
5-for-27
(186/313/333) .646 OPS 1 2B, 1 HR

Howard and Utley, curiously, both didn’t do much after coming into the NLDS hitting well. Dobbs seems likely to see more time at third base as Feliz continues to struggle. Ruiz is a mess at the plate. Burrell came into the series with the Brewers in a slump that continued until he had three hits and four RBI in game four. Rollins and Werth both scuffled their way into the NLDS, but hit well in it. Werth struck out six times, though, and has stuck out 21 times since September 15. Strikeout king Ryan Howard, by comparison, has struck out 13 times since September 15.


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