Archive for April 10th, 2009

Ace of clubbed

The Phillies starting pitchers haven’t set the bar real high so far this year, but Cole Hamels’ 2009 debut was enough to get you nostalgic for Myers’ opening day effort. Or pretty much anyone else’s effort on any other day for that matter. Myers, Moyer and Blanton combined to allow 15 earned runs in 15 innings to start the season, but Hamels showed ‘em all today with a miserable start in which he allowed seven runs and didn’t make it out of the fourth inning.

Curiously, Myers started the year with a weak start in which he allowed four runs over six innings and the starts have gotten progressively worse since then. Moyer was a little worse than Myers and Blanton a little worse than Moyer. It makes you wonder a little what might happen tomorrow.

There wasn’t a whole lot of good news in the game for the Phils, but there was some. Werth had a monster 4-for-4 day with a pair of doubles and a solo homer. Happ and Condrey were both solid out of the pen.

The Phillies lost to the Colorado Rockies this afternoon, falling 10-3. They are 1-3 on the season.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went 3 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs on 11 hits and a walk. Six of the hits went for extra-bases, four doubles, a triple and a home run. He struck out one.

He started the bottom of the first with the game scoreless. Dexter Fowler led off and singled past Rollins and into left field. Righty Ryan Spilborghs was next and Fowler stole second as Spilborghs took ball one. Spilborghs hit a ground ball that went through Fowler’s legs to Rollins at short. Rollins threw to third and Feliz tagged Fowler out on a close play, bringing up Todd Helton with Spilborghs at first and one down. Spilborghs tried to steal second but left too early. Hamels went to first and Howard made a good throw to second where Rollins tagged him out for the second out. Helton grounded to short for the third out.

Two base-running mistakes in the inning lead to two outs for the Rockies.

First time this season the Phillies’ starting pitcher had not allowed two runs in the first inning.

Garrett Atkins led off the second with the Phils up 1-0 and flew to Werth in right. Braw Hawpe lined to center for the second out. Troy Tulowitski was next and drew a walk on a high 3-1 fastball. It brought Chris Ianetta to the plate and Ianetta went down swinging at a 2-2 changeup to end the inning.

Clint Barmes doubled to left to start the third and scored when the pitcher Jason Marquis fouled off two bunt attempts and then swung away and singled to left. The game was tied at 1-1. Fowler was next and he got a bunt down. He would have been safe at first, but was called out on interference for being out of the baseline for the first out of the inning. Spilborghs was next and doubled to right, sending Marquis to third. Helton followed and grounded back to Hamels, with Hamels taking the second out at first as Marquis scored to make it 2-1 with Spilborghs going to second. Atkins hit a 1-1 pitch out to left for a two-run homer and the Rockies led 4-1. Hawpe jumped on the first pitch he saw and doubled to right-center. Tulowitski was aggressive early in the count as well. He got ahead 1-0 and then tripled to left, scoring Hawpe and making it 5-1. Ianetta fouled out to Ruiz to end the inning.

The Phils cut the lead to 5-2 in the top of the fourth. Barmes led off the bottom of the fourth with a single and Marquis bunted him to second. A ground out to short by Fowler pushed him to third with two down for Spilborghs. Spilborghs doubled again, scoring Barmes and making it 6-2. Helton singled to right and Spilborghs scored. 7-2. Atkins followed Helton with another single, and that was finally it for Hamels. Happ came on to pitch to Hawpe and Hawpe grounded to first for the third out.

Happ threw a 1-2-3 fifth.

He came back for the sixth with the Phils still down 7-2. He gave up a leadoff double to Marquis. Fowler bunted Marquis to third for the first out, but Happ got out of it by striking out Spilborghs and getting Helton on a fly ball to left.

Nice job by Happ to keep Colorado off the board after the leadoff double.

Condrey threw a 1-2-3 seventh.

Durbin started the eighth and struck out Ianetta to start the inning before he hit Barmes with a pitch. Lefty Seth Smith hit for the pitcher Alan Embree and drew a walk. Fowler followed with a single into center and scored Barmes, putting the Rockies up 8-2. Spilborghs singled to right and Smith scored. 9-2 with men on first and third with one out. Helton flew to center and Fowler tagged and scored from third. 10-2. Atkins flew to right to end the inning.

Another awful outing by Durbin. He went one inning and allowed three runs on two hits, a walk and a hit batter.

Condrey and Happ both pitched very well. Overall the pen went 4 1/3 innings and was charged with three runs on three hits and a walk. Happ threw 35 pitches and Durbin 24, so both are unlikely to pitch tomorrow. Condrey threw just 11.

Even with all the early days off it’s still a lot of innings to ask the pen to pitch. Hamels went 3 2/3 today after Blanton went four on Wednesday.

The Phillies lineup against righty Jason Marquis went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Ibanez (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Feliz at third yet again. The Phils have played four games and have faced a right-handed starting pitcher in all four. Dobbs has been on the bench to start all of them. Ruiz catches.

Rollins led off the game with a single into center. Victorino was next and chopped a ball to second. Barmes took it and flipped to first for the first out, but Rollins went to second. Utley followed with a walk and it put men on first and second for Howard. Howard grounded into a double play, second to short to first, to turn the Phillies away.

Werth started the second with a double that split the gap and rolled to the wall in right-center. Ibanez was next and chopped a ball over the head of the pitcher Marquis that was mishandled by Tulowitski for an error. Ibanez was safe at first with Werth moving to third with nobody out. Feliz sent a ball into center field deep enough to score Werth and put the Phils up 1-0. Ruiz flew to left for the second out. Hamels struck out on three pitches to set the Phillies down.

Victorino walked with one out in the third and went to second on a wild pitch, but was left stranded when Utley struck out and Howard flew to left.

The Phils started the fourth down 5-1. Werth led off with a double, moved to third on a ground out by Ibanez and scored on a ground out to short from Feliz. 5-2. Ruiz grounded to third to end the frame.

1-2-3 in the fifth.

Utley led off the sixth with a single, but Howard followed and hit into a double-play. Werth singled into center before Ibanez flew to left.

1-2-3 in the seventh.

Victorino walked with one out in the eighth and the Phils down 7-2. Utley moved him to second with a single, but Howard grounded into his third double-play of the day to set the Phillies down.

Werth led off the ninth with a home run to left, cutting the lead to 10-3, but the Phils went in order behind him.

Rollins was 1-for-4.

Victorino 0-for-2 with two walks.

Utley 2-for-3 with a walk.

Howard 0-for-4 and grounded into three double-plays. He left six men on base. It was all worth it, though, cause when Hamels picked Spilborghs off of first in the bottom of the first Howard didn’t throw the ball into left field. I’m kidding about it all being worth it, but just a little.

Werth was the only Phillie with an extra-base hit. He was 4-for-4 with two doubles and a home run.

Ibanez 0-for-4.

Feliz 0-for-1 with two RBI.

Ruiz 0-for-2. He strained his right oblique catching Ianetta’s foul ball in the third inning and is day-to-day. Coste came on in the seventh and went 0-for-2.

Brett Myers (0-1, 6.00) will face lefty Jorge De La Rosa in game two of the series. Myers didn’t have a great outing in the Phils’ opener, allowing four runs over six innings. He gave up home runs to righty Jeff Francoeur and lefties Jordan Schafer and Brian McCann in the game. He pitched well after allowing four runs in the first two innings, though, shutting Atlanta down for the next four frames. De La Rosa is the first lefty that will start against the Phils this season. He started against the Phils on May 26 of last year and was hit hard, allowing seven runs over 3 1/3 innings. The Phillies were seeing the ball well at the end of May last year. They scored 20 runs in that game, a day after they had scored 15 against the Astros. Raul Ibanez is the only Phillie with more than five at-bats against De La Rosa. Ibanez is 2-for-6 against him with a double.

Cole in the cold

Cole Hamels makes his first start of 2009 this afternoon. He faces righty Jason Marquis in Colorado as the 2-1 Rockies play their home opener.

Hamels comes off a worrisome spring training in which he struggled with elbow issues. Hamels pitched 7 2/3 official spring innings, throwing to a 9.39 ERA with a 1.17 ratio. He struck out 10 and walked just one. He was hit pretty hard on Saturday against the Rays in the final tune-up for the ’09 season, allowing six runs over five innings. This report had his fastball topping out at 86 miles per hour.

Hamels didn’t face the Rockies in 2008 and has never faced them in a regular season game. He did pitch against them in game one of the NLDS in 2007. He pitched well in that game, but allowed three runs in the second inning. Three was too many that day as Jeff Francis was fantastic for the Rockies.

The Phillies will likely be careful about Hamels’ pitch count early in the season this year. In 2008 he threw at least 110 pitches in a start four times before the end of May.

Marquis appeared in 29 games for the Cubs last year, making 28 starts and one relief appearance. He’s been pretty good against lefties over his career, they’ve hit just .263 against him compared to .271 for righties. He walks too many lefties, though, in 2008 he walked 45 in 76 2/3 innings (5.28 walks per nine innings) and just 25 righties in 90 1/3 innings (2.49 per nine).

Marquis made one start against the Phils in ’08. On April 13 he went five innings for the Cubs and allowed two runs. He walked five that day. The Cubs won that game 6-5 in ten innings with the help of a big late error from Utley, who struggled defensively early in 2008.

Rollins is 3-for-31 (.097) against Marquis in his career. Feliz 2-for-14 (.142). Utley 7-for-16 with a double. Coste 4-for-8 with an RBI while Ruiz has never faced him.

The Phillies signed 32-year-old right-handed reliever Tyler Walker to a minor league contract. Walker made 65 appearances for the Giants in 2008, throwing to a 4.56 ERA and a 1.28 ratio in 53 1/3 innings. He was in the mix to be the Mariners’ closer this year, a job that was won by Brandon Morrow. Seattle released him at the end of March.

Walker is ill-suited to be anyone’s closer. Lefties have hit 290/361/477 against him over his career. What he can do is get righties out. Righties hit just 186/274/287 in 147 plate appearances against Walker in 2008, while lefties blasted him to the tune of 319/372/597.

Here’s how the numbers that right-handed hitters put up against Walker compare to what righties did against other right-handed relievers for the Phils in 2008:


Even with the great year that Durbin had in 2008, Walker was still a little better against righties. Lefties hit Durbin hard last year, too, posting a 311/401/394 line. The averages and the on-base percentages that left-handed hitters put up were similar for Walker and Durbin in ’08, but lefties slugged .394 against Durbin and .597 against Walker.

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