That playoff victory was just making some unreasonable demands. Glad they got it worked out, though. It was a little tough to watch, but the ending was good.
The Phillies won their first playoff game in 15 years yesterday, but the way Cole Hamels threw makes you think they may not need to wait 15 days before he pitches them to another. Hamels looked exactly like one of the elite pitchers in baseball in the first game of the series against the Brewers, holding Milwaukee to a pair of singles and a walk over eight shutout innings as the Phils pulled out a 3-1 win.
Hamels was arguably the only Phillie that played well. The Phils had four hits in the game and managed to score in just one inning. They needed a whole lot of help from the Brewers to do that — three defensive misplays and three walks back-to-back-to-back helped the Phils put up the only three runs they would score in the contest in the bottom of the third.
Brad Lidge made the ninth inning memorable. Coming in to game with a three-run lead, Lidge struggled yet again and needed 35 pitches to get through a frame that turned out to be a lot more exciting than one might hope. Despite the struggles, he made it through to extend his streak to 42 saves in 42 tries for the Phils. Still, it’s a little worrisome to see him bend but not break so often these days after we didn’t see him even bend at all for most of the season.
The Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday, winning 3-1 in the first game of the best-of-five series.
Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went eight shutout innings, allowing two singles and a walk. He struck out nine.
He faced a Milwaukee lineup that went (1) Cameron (CF/R) (2) Hall (3B/R) (3) Braun (LF/R) (4) Fielder (1B/L) (5) Hardy (SS/R) (6) Hart (RF/R) (7) Weeks (2B/R) (8) Kendall (C/R).
There were five position players on the bench for Milwaukee to start the game: Mike Rivera (R), Tony Gwynn, Jr (L), Brad Nelson (L), Craig Counsell (L) and Ray Durham (Switch).
Cameron led off the first. Hamels didn’t get the call on a close 2-1 pitch, running the count to 3-1. Cameron watched strike two and then went down swinging 3-2 for the first out. Hall was next and popped up an 0-1 pitch into shallow center, where Rollins took it for the second out. Hamels struck Braun out swinging 1-2 to end the frame.
Fourteen pitches in the first inning for Hamels.
He struck Fielder out swinging 1-2 to start the second. Hardy hit a 2-1 pitch into right-center field that Victorino took for the second out. Hart hit an 0-1 pitch back up the middle, but Utley moved to his right, back-handed and threw to first to set the Brewers down.
Hamels had thrown 25 pitches through two innings.
Rickie Weeks went down swinging at a 2-2 pitch to start the third. Kendall started his at-bat and hit a long foul ball to left before hitting a lazy fly ball into right-center that Victorino took for the second out. Gallardo flew to Burrell on a 1-0 pitch for the third out. Gallardo hit the ball well and Burrell had to make a run towards to corner to get to it — he looked like he was running about the way that he usually does despite the back issue. Hamels had thrown 36 pitches through three.
Hamels started the fourth up 3-0. Cameron grounded to second on a 1-0 pitch for the first out. Hall got behind 1-2 and then grounded to Howard. Braun hit a lazy fly ball to left on an 0-1 pitch to end the frame.
Perfect through four, having thrown 44 pitches and struck out four.
Fielder struck out swinging 3-2 to start the fifth. Hardy grounded to short on a 2-2 pitch. Hart hit a foul ball hard 0-1 and then singled into right on an 0-2 pitch for the first Milwaukee base-runner of the game. Hamels struck Weeks out looking 1-2 to leave Hart stranded.
Kendall started the sixth and struck out swinging 3-2. Craig Counsell was next, he had entered with Carlos Villanueva as part of a double-switch. Counsell lined a 1-1 pitch into left for a single. Hamels got behind Cameron 3-0 before walking him 3-1. It put men on first and second with one down for Hall. Hamels struck Hall out swinging 2-2 for the second out. Braun swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and popped to short to leave both men stranded.
Twenty-one pitches in the sixth for Hamels, putting him at 85 for the game.
Fielder hit Hamels’ first pitch of the seventh down the first base line. Howard played it oddly — the ball wasn’t hit exceptionally hard, but Howard didn’t get in front of it and then made a backhand stab. It worked and Fielder was down for the first out. Hardy was next and hit a 1-1 pitch to third. Feliz did a weird half-dive thing, going to the ground too early, but recovered in time to make the play and throw Hardy out for the second out. Hart flew to center on the first pitch of his at-bat.
It was a five-pitch inning for Hamels. He had thrown 90 through seven.
Hamels hit for himself to start the seventh and returned for the eighth still up 3-0. Lefty Tony Gwynn hit for the pitcher Carlos Villanueva and put down a beautiful bunt on the first pitch he saw. The ball made it passed the mound on the first base side, but Utley made a fantastic play, charging, gloving and making a glove-hand flip to first to beat Gwynn for the first out. Hamels struck Kendall out swinging 3-2 for the second out. Counsell grounded an 0-1 pitch to third to set the Brewers down.
Eleven pitches in the inning, seven of which Hamels threw to strike out Kendall, put him at 101 for the day.
Lidge started the ninth with a three-run lead. He got ahead of Cameron 0-2, but had trouble putting him away. He finally threw a 3-2 slider past him. Cameron must have been looking for something else, cause it hung right where you wouldn’t want it to hang. Switch-hitter Ray Durham hit for the righty Hall. Lidge got ahead of him as well, but Durham lined a 1-2 pitch into right for a single. Braun was next and Lidge got up on him 1-2 as well, but couldn’t put him away. Braun lined a high 3-2 pitch down the right-field line and into the corner for a double. Utley went out to catch the relay and slipped, failing to catch the ball, which allowed Durham to score from first and cut the lead to 3-1 with Braun on second and one out. Utley was charged with an error. Fielder was next and Lidge got ahead of him 1-2, too. Fielder worked the count full before Lidge got him with a fastball outside of the zone for a huge second out. Fielder swung at ball four. Hardy walked on five pitches, bringing Hart and a terrible slump to the plate as the go-ahead run with two down. Lidge looked comfortable against him, throwing a 2-2 fastball past him to end the game.
Fielder was the big at-bat of the inning, and he helped Lidge by swinging at ball four.
Tough inning for Lidge, who needed 35 pitches to get through. Interesting decision by Manuel not to bring Hamels back for the ninth. Righties Cameron and Hall scheduled to start the inning may have contributed to the decision. I would have brought him in, too. It’s pretty hard to feel real good about Lidge right now despite the 42-for-42.
I think the approach to using relievers and pitch counts needs to be dramatically altered in the post-season, moving away from what’s in the best long-term interests of the team and the player to how do we win this game today. So if the Phils think Brad Lidge gives them the best chance to win tonight’s game, they should use him. I’d be surprised, though, if they don’t think someone else (like Madson) can help them more a day after Lidge threw 35 pitches.
While the Phillies pen largely got another day off, Milwaukee’s was called on to throw four innings, which they did without allowing a run. They allowed just one hit and one walk, both of which were surrendered by Parra. Villanueva threw 25 pitches, Parra 15, Stetter 12 and Mota 7.
The Phillies lineup against righty Yovani Gallardo went (1) Rollins (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Werth moves up to second in the order with Utley dropped to third. Burrell in the lineup after having problems with his back the day before. The righty Feliz plays third with the lefty Dobbs on the bench against the righty Gallardo. Coste on the bench with Ruiz catching. Ruiz was behind the plate for 722 of the 914 batters that Hamels faced this season, about 79%.
The hitters on the bench to start the game for the Phils were Taguchi (R), Coste (R), Bruntlett (R), Dobbs (L), Jenkins (L) and Stairs (L).
Rollins led off the first and hit a 2-2 pitch well to second, but Weeks made a nifty play to backhand the ball and throw to first for the first out. Gallardo struck Werth out swinging at a 1-2 fastball for the second. Like Rollins, Utley hit the ball hard as well, but his line drive was caught by Fielder at first to end the inning.
The Phillies started to hit in the second in a light rain with the wind blowing wildly. Howard drew a five-pitch walk to start the inning. Burrell hit the first pitch of his at-bat to short, where Hardy took it, stepped on second and threw to first to complete the double-play. Gallardo threw four straight balls to Victorino, putting him on first with two down for Feliz. Feliz hit a 2-1 pitch hard to short, but it was taken on one hop and Feliz was thrown out to leave Victorino stranded.
Tough to see Burrell hitting into a double-play first pitch when Gallardo couldn’t throw a strike.
Ruiz started the third and hit a 2-1 pitch back up the middle for a single, the first hit of the game. Hamels bunted the first pitch of his at-bat to third. Hall fielded, looked to second where he would have had Ruiz, but bobbled the ball, picked it up and threw to Weeks covering first. Weeks dropped the ball for an error. Ruiz moved to second with Hamels safe at first. Rollins swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and flew to shallow left for the first out. Werth was next and swung at a bad pitch to start his at-bat, then took two balls before taking strike two and finally going down swinging at a bad pitch for his second strikeout of the game. Bad at-bat for Werth. Utley and Cameron picked him up, though. After a loud foul ball, Utley lined a 2-2 pitch into center that Cameron misplayed. He came in on the ball, then had to go back and finally had the ball go off his glove. Utley had a bases-clearing double and the Phils were up 2-0. The righty Gallardo intentionally walked Howard, putting men on first and second with two down for Burrell. Second time in less than three innings that Gallardo appeared to want no part of Howard. Gallardo walked Burrell on a low 3-2 curveball, loading the bases for Victorino. Victorino took two balls before Gallardo got strike one over. He checked his swing at a 2-1 pitch in the dirt and got the call on the appeal at third. Close. Ball four was close, but ball four nonetheless. Utley came in to score and it was 3-0. Feliz hit a 1-1 pitch to center for the third out, leaving the bases loaded.
Three bad defensive plays in the frame by the Brewers, including the error by Weeks and Cameron’s misplay of Utley’s double. Hall would have had Ruiz at second without the bobble. The intentional walk to Howard with Gallardo struggling to find Dana DeMuth’s strike zone hurt as well when Burrell and Victorino followed with walks.
Gallardo had thrown 57 pitches through three innings.
Ruiz tried to bunt for a hit to start the fourth. He popped a 1-0 pitch back to Gallardo for the first out. Hamels struck out swinging 1-2 for the second out. Rollins lined a 3-2 pitch into right for a single. Werth was next, bringing his 0-for-2 with two strikeouts with him to the plate. He hit a high popout that Fielder took in foul territory to end the inning.
Lefty Mitch Stetter started the fifth with Utley and Howard due to hit and the Phils up 3-0. Utley grounded a 2-2 pitch to third for the first out. Howard struck out swinging at a 3-2 breaking pitch that was low and away for the second out. Round one of Utley and Howard versus the Brewer’s lefties goes to the Brewers. Villanueva came in to pitch to Burrell. Burrell flew to left on a 1-1 pitch for the third out.
Villanueva came back for the sixth. Victorino led off and tried to bunt, but missed, before flying to right on an 0-2 pitch. Feliz flew to center before Ruiz swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and grounded to third. Eight pitch inning for Villanueva.
Villanueva came back for the seventh and struck out Hamels, Rollins and Werth in order.
Lefty Manny Parra came in to pitch the eighth. Utley grounded a 3-2 pitch to second for the first out before Howard walked on five pitches. Bruntlett was next, having entered defensively for Burrell in the top of the inning. Bruntlett hit the first pitch he saw from Parra back up the middle. Hardy made a diving stop to keep it in the infield, but Howard was safe at second. Victorino grounded an 0-1 pitch to second and Bruntlett was forced at second for the second out, but the ball was hit too slowly for Victorino to be doubled-up. It brought up Feliz with one out and men on first and third and Guillermo Mota came in to pitch to him. Manuel did not to hit Dobbs for Feliz, choosing to keep Feliz’s glove in the game with a three-run lead. Victorino stole second without a throw before Feliz popped a 2-2 pitch into shallow right-center field. Counsell made a nice play to catch the ball, chasing it and making an inning-ending catch with glove extended to set the Phils down.
Don’t quite understand why the lefty Parra stayed in to face both Bruntlett and Victorino. Bruntlett probably doesn’t scare you, but Victorino was better against lefties this year and the Phils did have a man on base with just one out.
Feliz was not involved in a play defensively in the top of the ninth.
Rollins was 1-for-4. Weeks robbed him of a hit in the first.
Werth had a terrible game. 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and three men left on base.
Utley was 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI. The double was well-hit, but Cameron should have made the play. He made two very nice defensive plays in the game, one on a ground ball up the middle and one on a drag bunt past the mound.
Howard was 0-for-1 with three walks. The Brewers seemed happy to pitch around him with the righty Burrell and his bad back behind Howard.
Burrell 0-for-2 with a walk. It’s possible that today could be the last day we see him in a Phillies uniform at home.
Victorino 0-for-2 with a stolen base and two walks.
Feliz 0-for-4 and left six men on base. That hardly seems possible given the Phils had four hits in the game. Here goes: grounded to short to end the second with Victorino on first (one), flew to center with the bases loaded to end the third (three more, four total), popped out to Counsell with men on second and third and two down in the eighth (six).
Ruiz 1-for-3. The way Lidge was pitching, I felt a lot more comfortable with him behind the plate in the ninth than I would have with Coste back there. Would be nice to get Coste’s bat in, but I think we may see a lot of Ruiz in the post-season.
Brett Myers (10-13, 4.55) faces lefty CC Sabathia (17-10, 2.70) tonight. The Brewers acquired the 28-year-old Sabathia from Cleveland on July 7. The 2007 AL Cy Young winner had made 18 starts for the Indians and thrown to a 3.83 ERA with a 1.23 ratio. He made 17 starts for the Brewers since — 11-2 with a 1.65 ERA and a 1.00 ratio. Lefties have hit just .205 against him this season. Righties .247. He’s allowed just 19 home runs in 253 innings. Sabathia led all of baseball in innings pitched this season — there were only three players in either league who threw more than 230. The 35 starts he made are also the high for either league. His last three starts have all come on three days rest and he’s been brilliant — in those three starts he went 21 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs (0.84 ERA) on 15 hits and four walks without giving up a home run.
Sabathia has pitched in the post-season for the Indians in 2001 and 2007. In four post-season starts he’s 1-2 with a 7.17 ERA and a 2.13 ratio.
He’s made two career starts against the Phillies. On June 10, 2002, he pitched into the seventh inning and held the Phils to three runs over seven innings. Terry Adams was a little better and the Phils won 3-1. On June 20, 2007, he allowed four runs over six innings in Cleveland, but the Indians scored eight runs in the sixth inning and rolled to a 10-6 win. The Phillies hitters don’t have a lot of at-bats against him. Rollins is 3-for-7 with a double and a triple. Utley and Howard a combined 1-for-6 with a double by Howard. You would think Stairs would have faced him in the AL, but he hasn’t, no doubt cause of lefty-lefty. Stairs is 0-for-1 against him. Victorino, Jenkins and Feliz are all 0-for-3 against him. The Phils may be able to get some info out of Tad Iguchi — Iguchi isn’t on the roster but has 29 career at-bats against Sabathia (7-for-29 (.241) with a double and a home run).
Myers had an absolutely miserable first half of the season, going 3-9 with a 5.84 ERA and a 1.56 ratio in his first 17 starts. Opponents hit .284 against him and he allowed 24 homers in 101 2/3 innings. Baffled, the Phils sent him to the minors and he came back a new pitcher. In his first 11 starts after returning, Myers went 7-2 with a 1.80 ERA and a 1.00 ratio. And then, at the end of the year, in his last two starts it all few apart for him again. He comes into game two of the NLDS off of a pair of miserable starts in which he didn’t go five innings either outing and allowed 16 runs over 8 1/3 innings. The Fish blasted him for ten runs in four innings on September 19 and the Braves scored six runs against him in 4 1/3 on September 24.
In the 11 game stretch (from July 23 through his start on September 14) after his return from the minors, Myers allowed four home runs in 80 innings. Opponents hit 216/268/308 against him. In his 19 other starts he allowed 24 home runs in 110 innings.
Myers made one start against the Brewers this season. It came in the window where he was pitching great and he pitched great. On September 14, pitching on three days rest, Myers dominated the Brewers. He held them to a run on two hits and needed just 95 pitches to throw a complete game. Maybe throwing a complete game on three days rest hurt him and maybe it didn’t, but he’s been awful in his two starts since.
Fielder 1-for-5 with a home run against him in his career. Braun 0-for-3. Hardy 0-for-10, Hart 1-for-5, Kendall 1-for-6. Cameron 3-for-13 with two home runs.