The struggling Phillies rotation didn’t make a quality start in the last 12 games of the regular season, but it only took Cliff Lee 113 pitches in the first game of the irregular season to show just how little that matters. Making the first playoff start of his career, Lee threw a complete game as he led the Phillies to a 5-1 win in their NLDS opener against the Colorado Rockies.
Lee and Rockie starter Ubaldo Jimenez both put up zeroes for the first four innings of the game. In the best early scoring chance, Yorvit Torrealba led off the second with a double, but Werth gunned him down trying for third to end the inning and the threat after Clint Barmes flew to right for the second out. The Phillies finally got to Jimenez in the fifth. Werth started the inning with a walk that was followed by an Ibanez double as the Phils score twice in the inning. They followed it up with three more in the sixth as Utley, Howard, Werth and Ibanez blasted away and Jimenez was chased from the game. The Rockies scored a run against Lee in the ninth on a bloop single, a wild pitch and a ball laced to the gap in right-center by Tulowitzki.
The Phils were far from flawless in the game. They threw the ball away early and didn’t catch it early. They didn’t run the bases well, either, getting caught stealing, doubled off of third, and caught in rundowns. They wound up on third when they should have been home. They hit well enough, though, and Lee pitched well enough, to get them a win in the opener.
The Phillies lead the Rockies one game to none in the best-of-five series. Game two is this afternoon.
Cliff Lee got the start for the Phillies and threw a complete game, allowing a run on six hits. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, all doubles. He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.
He faced a Rockies lineup that went (1) Fowler (CF/S) (2) Gonzalez (LF/L) (3) Helton (1B/L) (4) Tulowitzki (SS/R) (5) Atkins (3B/R) (6) Torrealba (C/R) (7) Hawpe (RF/L) (8) Barmes (2B/R). Lefties Hawpe and Gonzalez play the corner outfield positions. Righty Garrett Atkins starts at third with the lefty Stewart on the bench for the Rocks.
In addition to Stewart, the Rockies had lefties Jason Giambi and Seth Smith on the bench to start the game, along with righties Ryan Spilborghs and Chris Iannetta and switch-hitter Eric Young. Phils get a break from Phillie-killer Spilborghs and lefty-killer Iannetta.
Lee faced Fowler to start the first and Fowler swung at the first pitch of the game and popped it into right. The wind took the ball, but Werth took it for the first out. Gonzalez was next and he lined a 1-2 pitch from Lee into left for a single. Helton was next and Lee got ahead of him 1-2 as well before Helton hit a ground ball to first. Howard stepped on first for the second out and threw to second. Rollins couldn’t handle his throw to second, but it was backed up by Ibanez in left and Gonzalez held second. It brought up monster righty Troy Tulowitzki with first base open. Tulowitzki dribbled a 2-1 pitch past the mound for a single. Utley fielded and didn’t have a play at first, but threw to third where he might have had Gonzalez except that Feliz dropped the ball. Atkins was next and got ahead 2-0 before lofting a fly ball to shallow center. The wind took it and pushed it back, turning it into an adventure for Victorino, but the center fielder took it to end the inning and leave both men stranded.
Two misplays in the inning for the Phils without an error. Howard’s throw to second and Feliz dropping Utley’s throw. Also two balls hit in the air that were badly blown by the wind.
Seventeen pitches in the first for Lee.
Torrealba led off the second and ripped a 1-1 pitch down the line in left for a double off the glove of Feliz. Hawpe was next and Lee got ahead of him 0-2 before Hawpe flew to center on a 1-2 pitch for the first out. Barmes followed and lofted a fly ball to right. Werth took it for the second out. With the pitcher due to hit next, Torrealba tagged and tried to go to third, but Werth threw him out on a close play to end the inning. Torrealba was safe and the Phillies just got the call, but it was a strong throw from Werth who caught the ball with awkward footing.
No run for the Rockies after the leadoff double.
Eight pitches for Lee had him at 25 through two innings.
Thanks to the out at third ending the top of the second, Lee got to face the pitcher Jimenez to start the third. Lee struck him out on four pitches for the first out. Fowler followed and worked the count full before lofting a ball down the third base line. Rollins took it after a long run for the second out. Gonzalez grounded an 0-1 pitch to Utley for the third out.
Fourteen pitches in the inning for Lee. Thirty-nine for the game.
Helton led off the fourth and grounded an 0-1 pitch to Utley for the first out. Tulo was swinging first pitch and skied a ball to center. Victorino had to dance around a little with the wind blowing hard, but took it for the second out. Lee struck Atkins out looking 3-2 to end the inning.
Eight in a row for Lee, who had thrown 48 pitches through four innings after a nine-pitch fourth.
Torrealba lined the first pitch of the fifth to center for the first out of the inning. Hawpe struck out trying to check his swing on a 1-2 curveball. Two down. Barmes flew softly to left to set the Rockies down.
Eleven in a row for Lee. Ten pitches in the inning and 58 for the game.
Lee started the sixth with a 2-0 lead and again set the Rockies down in order. Jimenez struck out, Fowler grounded an 0-2 pitch to short and Gonzalez flew softly to left on another 0-2 pitch.
Fourteen in a row. Eleven pitches in the inning and 69 in the game.
Lee led 5-0 when he started the seventh. Helton got ahead 3-0 to start the inning, but popped out to Rollins in foul territory on a 3-1 pitch for the first out. Tulowitzki popped to Howard in foul territory on a 2-1 pitch. Atkins got ahead in the count, too, but instead of fouling out he doubled the opposite way to break up Lee’s string of 16 set down in a row. Torrealba broke his bat grounding softly to second to set the Rockies down.
Big inning for Lee against the heart of the Colorado order.
Sixteen pitches in the inning for Lee. 85.
Hawpe grounded softly to the mound for the first out of the eighth. Barmes was next and grounded an 0-1 pitch softly to short for the second out. The righty Spilborghs hit for the pitcher Franklin Morales. He hit a 2-1 pitch down the third base line, but Feliz took it and made the long throw across the infield to end the frame.
Eleven pitches had Lee at 96 for the day.
Fowler flew to right on Lee’s first pitch of the ninth. Gonzalez was next and he fisted an 0-1 pitch into left for a single. Helton got behind 0-2 and then flew to left for the second out. With Tulowitzki at the plate, Gonzalez took second on a wild pitch by Lee. Tulowitzki lined a 3-2 pitch into right-center. Werth didn’t see the ball until late, but Gonzalez would have scored anyway. His run made it 5-1 with two outs and Tulowitzki on second. Lee struck Atkins out swinging 1-2 to end the game.
The Phillies lineup against righty Ubaldo Jimenez went (1) Rollins (SS/S) (2) Victorino (CF/S) (3) Utley (2B/L) (4) Howard (1B/L) (5) Werth (RF/R) (6) Ibanez (LF/L) (7) Feliz (3B/R) (8) Ruiz (C/R). Werth hits fifth to break up the lefties Utley, Howard and Ibanez.
The Phillies started the game with a five-man bench that included righties Francisco and Cairo and lefties Dobbs, Stairs and Bako.
Rollins led off the first for the Phils and grounded a 1-0 pitch to Barmes at second for the first out. Victorino followed and flew to right on a 1-1 pitch for the second. Utley looked at a 2-2 pitch at the knees to set the Phillies down.
Howard started the second with the game still scoreless and went down looking at an 0-2 pitch for the first out. Werth was next and he became the Phillies first base-runner of the game, lining a single to left. Ibanez followed with the first post-season at-bat of his career, grounding a 1-2 pitch from Jimenez into a double-play.
Jimenez had thrown 20 pitches through two innings.
Feliz led off the bottom of the third and grounded a 2-1 pitch to third for the first out. Ruiz was swinging first pitch and grounded to short for the second out. Lee followed and hit a 1-1 pitch back up the middle for a single. With the count 0-2 on Rollins, Lee stole second as Jimenez delivered ball one. The Rockies picked Lee off of second then, but the Phillies got another call and gave Rollins one more chance. He struck out swinging at the next pitch.
The Lee single at least makes Jimenez throw some pitches after he needed just five pitches to get the first two outs of the inning.
Victorino lined an 0-1 pitch to right for the first out in the bottom of the fourth. Utley was next and he struck out looking 3-2 for the second out. Howard followed and lined a 1-1 pitch into left for a single. Werth got behind in the count and Howard was caught trying to steal second to end the inning.
Jimenez had thrown 46 pitches through four innings.
Werth led off the fifth and walked on a 3-2 pitch. Ibanez got ahead 2-0 before he ripped a 3-1 pitch into the right field corner for a double. Werth scored from first and the Phils led 1-0. Feliz was next and he also got ahead 2-0 before chopping a soft ground ball to second. Barmes took it for the first out, but Ibanez went to third. Ruiz worked the count full and then dumped a ball into right field for a single. The ball got passed Hawpe, allowing Ruiz to take second on the error. Ibanez scored from third to make it 2-0. Lee was next and he didn’t bunt. Instead he hit a ball back to the mound and Jimenez caught Ruiz off of second, throwing first to Tulowitzki who threw to Atkins who tagged out Ruiz. It cost the Phils, cause Rollins followed with a single to right that moved Lee to second. Victorino got ahead 3-1 before flying to left to end the inning.
I would have liked to see Feliz do more with his at-bat. His out did move the runner to third, but the Phils had Jimenez on the ropes. Awful job by Ruiz on the bases and it cost the Phillies a run.
Long inning for Jimenez. Thirty-five pitches put him at 81 for the game.
Utley lined a single to right to start the sixth. Howard followed and blasted a 1-0 pitch to left. Gonzalez had a long run and probably should have made the play, but got turned around the wrong way and the ball went off his glove on the warning track as Gonzalez crashed into the wall. It went as a double and scored Utley to make it 3-0. Werth followed and blasted a 3-1 pitch high off the wall in left-center. It’s a home run on just about any other day, but this one went high off the wall and rolled a long way towards right field. Werth should have had an inside-the-park home run, but wasn’t running out of the box and had to settle for an RBI-triple. Howard scored and it was 4-0 with nobody out and a man on third. That was it for Jimenez, and lefty Joe Beimel came in to try to get the lefty Ibanez. Ibanez hit a 1-0 pitch into right for a single, driving in his second run in two at-bats as Werth scored from third. 5-0. Righty Matt Daley came in to pitch to Feliz and got Feliz on a fly ball to left for the first out of the inning. Ibanez moved to second on a wild pitch as the count went 1-2 on Ruiz. Ruiz came back to work a walk, putting men on first and second with one down for Lee. Lee was bunting this time, and he got down a good one on the first offering from Daley. It put men on second and third with two outs for Rollins. Rollins got ahead 2-0 and then hit a grounded to second. Barmes didn’t handle it cleanly, but recovered in time to get Rollins on a close play at first and end the inning with both runners stranded.
Tough decision to bring Jimenez back to start the top of the sixth against two lefties after he struggled badly in a long bottom of the fifth. Jimenez also led off the top of the sixth for Colorado. First round of the Ibanez, Utley and Howard against the lefties in the Colorado pen goes to the Phils.
Daley was back to start the seventh for the Rockies. Victorino led off and doubled to left. The other lefty in the Colorado pen, Franklin Morales, came in to pitch to Utley. Morales got Utley on a 2-2 popup that Atkins took in foul territory while fighting with the railing for the first out. Victorino stole third as Howard swung through strike one. Howard held up his check swing at 1-2 and then hammered the next pitch, but right at Helton. Helton caught it for the second out and threw to first where Victorino was doubled-off to end the inning.
There’s some more bad base-running for the Phils. Howard crushed the ball, but Victorino still can’t get doubled-off and needs to be close to the base since he’ll score without a problem if the ball makes it to the outfield.
Jason Marquis started the ninth inning for the Rockies. He got Werth and Ibanez on a pair of ground outs to start the inning before Feliz reached on an infield single. Ruiz again swung at the first pitch and grounded to second.
Rollins was 1-for-4.
Victorino 1-for-4 with a double.
Utley 1-for-4 and struck out twice.
Howard 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Werth had a great game. 2-for-3 with a triple that should have been a home run, a big walk to start a rally and an RBI.
Ibanez was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Ruiz 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. In both of his plate appearances that he made outs he swung at the first pitch. In his other two he saw eight pitches in each — he walked and singled.
Lefty Cole Hamels faces righty Aaron Cook this afternoon in game two.
The 30-year-old Cook made 27 starts for the Rockies this season, throwing to a 4.16 ERA and a 1.41 ratio over 158 innings. He doesn’t walk righties, he walked just seven of them all season long. He does give up a lot of hits, though, 175 in 158 innings on the season. Opponents hit .284 against him and lefties and righties hit for about the same average — .285 for righties and .282 for lefties.
He comes into the post-season off of two good starts in which he combined to allow one run over 13 innings on eight hits and a walk (that’s an 0.69 ERA and an 0.69 ratio).
He made two starts against the Phils this year. On April 12 the Rockies gave him a four-run lead in the bottom of the first inning, but the Phillies came back to win the game 7-5 thanks to four late runs. Cook went six innings in the game, allowing three runs on seven hits and a walk. He also faced the Phils on August 6 in Philadelphia. This time he allowed three runs over five innings and the Phils won 3-1. Paul Bako hit a solo home run off of Cook in that game.
He has faced the Phillies a ton over his career. Feliz 7-for-30 (233/258/267), Howard 6-for-17 with a home run (353/389/706), Utley 8-for-21 (381/391/619), Rollins 11-for-29 (379/379/517). The Phils have generally hit him hard over his career, posting a 333/363/490 line against him. He’s appeared against them nine times, making eight starts. 5.85 ERA and a 1.59 ratio over 47 2/3 innings.
Hamels went 10-11 with a 4.32 ERA and a 1.29 ratio over 32 starts in 2009. He went into the All-Star break with an ugly 4.87 ERA, but threw to a 3.76 ERA and a 1.19 ratio in 15 starts after the break. He was also much better at home this year than away from Citizens Bank Park. 3.76 ERA and a 1.12 ratio at home and a 4.99 ERA and a 1.48 ratio away. Over his career he’s been way better at night than during the day. In ’09 he was 0-6 with a 5.44 ERA and a 1.56 ratio in nine day starts and 10-5 with a 3.95 ERA and a 1.19 ratio in his 23 night starts. For his career he has a 3.27 ERA and 1.09 ratio at night and a 4.66 ERA and a 1.39 ratio during the day.
Hamels started game one of the 2007 NLDS against the Rockies, which the Phillies lost 4-2. We’ll have to keep an eye on his shirt this time. The 25-year-old Hamels already has an outstanding post-season resume. In six playoff starts he’s 4-1 with a 2.16 ERA and an 0.94 ratio. He’s allowed 26 hits in 41 2/3 innings.
He faced the Rockies on April 10 of this year and got hammered. He was charged with seven runs on 11 hits and a walk and lasted just 3 2/3 innings. Garrett Atkins connected for a two-run homer off of him in the game. The April 10 start was the only time in his career he’s faced the Rockies in the regular season.
He comes into the post-season not pitching well. Over his last three starts he’s gone 16 2/3 innings with a 7.02 ERA and a 1.51 ratio. All three of the starts have been bad.
Phillies win today. Hamels pitches well and the Phils hit Cook. Let’s hope I’m right, though, cause if they don’t it’s a big problem. The Rockies will have the momentum headed to Coors, where they are tough to beat.
The playoff start log is up to date. The Phillies have made quality starts in seven straight post-season games. All six of the starts that Hamels has made in the post-season for his career have been quality starts.
This suggests that Pedro, Happ and Blanton are all available to pitch today. I would be pretty surprised to see Blanton pitch, however.