Archive for October 19th, 2009

Frenemies

Joe Blanton faces lefty Randy Wolf tonight in game four.

The 33-year-old Wolf was very good for LA this season, throwing to a 3.23 ERA and a 1.10 ratio over 34 starts. In 214 1/3 innings he allowed just 178 hits. He was tenth in the NL in innings pitched. Lefties were helpless against him this year, posting a 159/217/200 line for the season. They had four extra-base hits, two doubles, a triple and a home run, on the year.

Wolf was better away from Dodger Stadium than he was at it. 7-4 with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.06 ratio in 16 starts away from home and 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA and a 1.14 ratio in 18 starts at home.

He faced the Phils twice this season. He was good the first time but not the second. On May 13 he held the Phils to a run over six innings as the Dodgers rolled to a 9-2 win over Moyer and the Phillies in Philadelphia. On June 7 Ruiz and Victorino both hit homers off of him in LA as the Phils won 7-2. Wolf allowed six runs in 6 1/3 innings in that game, which was his only start on the year in which he allowed six or more runs.

Wolf started game one of the NLDS against the Cardinals and allowed two runs on six hits and five walks over 3 2/3 innings in the only post-season start of his career. He had not walked five batters in a game in any start in the regular season.

The Phillies took Wolf in the second round of the 1997 draft. He pitched for the Phils from 1999 through 2006. His won 16 games and went to the All-Star game in 2003, but his best year may have been 2002 when he went 11-9 with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.12 ratio over 31 starts. After the 2006 season he signed with the Dodgers and made 18 starts for LA in ’07. It looked like the Phillies were about to sign him as a free agent in December of 2007, but it didn’t happen. Gillick came up with this memorable quote about Wolf and the situation after it had become apparent that Wolf would sign with the Padres: “Maybe it was a blessing in disguise. We went after him a couple times, and it didn’t work out last year and this year. So, it’s pretty evident that he doesn’t want to play for our team. If someone doesn’t want to be part of the team, it’s better if he plays somewhere else.” Wolf made 21 starts for the Padres in 2008 before they traded him to the Astros. He made 12 starts for the Astros before signing with the Dodgers again for the 2009 season.

Feliz is the Phillie who has faced Wolf the most over his career. He’s 5-for-17 with three home runs against him. Ruiz 4-for-6 with two doubles and a homer. Howard 1-for-9 with a double and four strikeouts. Utley 1-for-8 with four strikeouts. Werth 1-for-9 with a home run and three walks. Victorino 3-for-9 with a double and a homer. Rollins 3-for-6 with a home run. Ibanez 3-for-11 with two doubles.

Blanton made 31 starts for the Phillies this season, going 12-8 with a 4.05 ERA and a 1.32 ratio over 195 1/3 innings. He allowed 30 home runs, which was a career high.

He made one start against the Dodgers this season. On June 6 he pitched well, holding LA to a run on five hits and a walk over six innings, but Kuroda was a little better and LA won 3-2 on a twelfth inning home run that Ethier hit off of Durbin. Ethier also homered off of Blanton in that game, giving LA the only run they would manage off of him.

Blanton has made two appearances in the post-season for the Phillies this year, both in the NLDS against the Rockies. In game two he threw a 1-2-3 sixth with the Phillies down 4-0 in relief of Hamels. He also pitched in game three. In that game he entered in the bottom of the fourth in relief of Happ and went 2 2/3 innings, allowing a run on three hits.

He was great in the 2008 post-season, making three starts in which he went 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.29 ratio. The worst of his three ’08 playoff starts came against the Dodgers. He started game four against Derek Lowe, which is the game where Victorino tied it with a late home run and Stairs homered off of Broxton. Blanton didn’t pitch very well in the game, allowing three runs on seven hits and four walks over five innings.

Fellow former American Leaguers Casey Blake and Manny Ramirez have both faced Blanton a ton over their careers. Blake is an ugly 1-for-21 with three walks against him and Manny an ugly in a different way 14-for-25 with a double and a home run (560/600/720). Ethier 5-for-11 with two home runs. Kemp 2-for-11 with a double. Loney 5-for-8 with a walk. Martin 2-for-7 with a double.


Third time’s the replica

Cliff Lee came into game three with the Dodgers having made two post-season starts for the year and for his career. In those starts he had thrown 16 1/3 innings with a 1.10 ERA and an 0.86 ratio. He improved on both of those impressive numbers last night, holding the Dodgers to three singles over eight innings as the Phils blew LA out 11-0.

The Phils were all over Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda, who would only get four outs in the game. A two-run triple by Howard put the Phils up 2-0 after they had sent four batters to the plate. Werth followed with a two-run homer and it was 4-0. Ruiz started the second with a double as the Phils scored two more to make it 6-0. Chad Billingsley took over for Kuroda in the second and kept the Phils quiet until the fifth, when a two-out walk by Ibanez was followed by a triple by Feliz and another hit from Ruiz, this one a single that put the Phils up 8-0. Lee was masterful all the while, throwing eight shutout innings and allowing just two singles to Manny Ramirez and another to Ronnie Belliard while striking out ten. The Phils took an eight-run lead into the bottom of the eighth when Victorino pounded a three-run homer out to right to make it 11-0. Durbin finished off the Dodgers with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Over the last two games, Phillies starting pitchers have thrown 15 innings, allowing five singles without walking a batter. The last extra-base hit of the series for the Dodgers was the double that Ethier hit off of Bastardo to start the seventh inning of game one.

The Phillies won game three of the NLCS last night, topping the Dodgers 11-0. They lead the best-of-seven series two games to one.

Lee faced a lineup that went (1) Furcal (SS/S) (2) Belliard (2B/R) (3) Ethier (RF/L) (4) Ramirez (LF/R) (5) Kemp (CF/R) (6) Loney (1B/L) (7) Blake (3B/R) (8) Martin (C/R). That was a change from the lineup Hamels faced in game one. Belliard is up to second in the lineup with everyone else moving down a spot. Loney and Blake are switched in the order after Blake hit fifth in game one. Blake came into the series 1-for-8 with a single.

The Dodgers had six players on the bench to start the game, lefties Jim Thome and Juan Pierre, righties Mark Loretta, Juan Castro and Brad Ausmus and switch-hitter Orlando Hudson.

Furcal led off the game for the Dodgers and got behind 0-2 before flying to left. Belliard was next and he lined a 2-1 pitch to left where a sliding Ibanez took it for the second out. Ethier struck out swinging 2-2 for the third out.

Lee threw 13 pitches in the inning.

He started the second with a 4-0 lead. Manny led off and singled into center on a 3-2 pitch. Kemp was next and he lined softly to Utley for the first out. Loney grounded a 2-2 pitch to Howard and the Phillies turned the double-play nicely, with Howard going to Rollins and then back to Howard to set the Dodgers down.

Sixteen pitches had Lee at 29.

The Phils were up 6-0 when Lee started the third. He struck Blake out swinging 2-2 for the first out. Martin hit a ground ball back to the mound for the second. The pitcher Chad Billingsley was next and he swung out swinging 1-2.

Thanks to the double-play, Lee had faced the minimum through three innings. After throwing 14 pitches in the inning he had thrown 43 in the game.

Furcal started the fourth and worked the count full, then fouled off three pitches in a row before striking out looking for the first out. Belliard grounded to Howard and Howard tossed to Lee covering for the second out. Ethier hit a ground ball to Utley on a 2-2 pitch and Utley made another bad throw to first, but Howard dug it out to set the Dodgers down.

Lee threw 18 pitches in the inning and was up to 61 for the game.

Manny led off the fifth and swung at the first pitch, hitting a ball to right that dropped in front of Werth for a single. Lee struck Kemp out swinging 1-2 for the first out. Loney hit a 1-1 pitch to second. Utley fielded and made a nice throw to Rollins to force Ramirez for the second out with Loney safe at first. Blake grounded to short for the third out.

Just 11 pitches in the inning for Lee, who was up to 72.

Lee was up 8-0 when he started the sixth. Martin got ahead 2-0 but popped to Werth in short right for the first out. Orlando Hudson hit for Billingsley and he got ahead 2-0, too, but also flew to right. Werth took that one just in front of the track for the second out. Furcal struck out swinging 0-2 for the third out.

12 and 84.

Belliard started the seventh and singled to right on a 1-0 pitch. Ethier got behind 1-2 and hit a ground ball to second. Utley fielded and threw to first for the first out with Belliard safe at second. Manny struck out swinging 3-2. Kemp struck out swinging 3-2.

Nineteen pitches in the inning for Lee had him at 103 for the game.

He threw a 1-2-3 eighth. Loney struck out looking. Blake flew to right on an 0-1 pitch. Martin struck out swinging 1-2.

114 pitches in the game for Lee.

Durbin started the ninth with an 11-0 lead and set the Dodgers down in order. Mark Loretta lined to left for the first out. Furcal grounded to second for the second. Belliard fouled out to Ruiz to end the game.

The Phillies lineup against righty Hiroki Kuroda 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).

The Phillies started the game with six players on the bench, lefties Dobbs, Stairs and Bako and righties Francisco, Bruntlett and Cairo.

Rollins led off the bottom of the first and flew to right on a 2-1 pitch for the first out. Victorino was next and singled to right 1-0. He stole second as the count went 2-1 on Utley. Utley singled into right on a 3-1 pitch, sending Victorino to third. It brought up Howard with two men on and Howard lined a 3-1 pitch into right field for a bases clearing triple that put the Phils up 2-0. Werth was next and blasted a 2-1 pitch out to center. 4-0 with Chad Billingsley warming in the LA pen. Ibanez got ahead 3-0 but struck out swinging. Feliz grounded to third to end the inning.

Kuroda threw 29 pitches in the inning.

Ruiz started the second and hammered a 1-1 pitch from Kuroda into the gap in left-center for a double. Lee bunted him to third for the first out. Rollins was next and he grounded a 3-1 pitch past a diving Loney and down the first base line for a double. Ruiz scored and it was 5-0. That was it for Kuroda and lefty Scott Elbert came in to pitch to Victorino. Victorino walked on five pitches, putting men on first and second for Utley. Elbert’s 1-0 offering to Utley was in the dirt and Martin couldn’t handle it, allowing the runners to move to second and third. Utley went on to walk on a 3-1 pitch, loading the bases for Howard. Howard swung at the first pitch and hit a dribbler to first. Loney took it and tagged Howard out for the second out as Rollins scored to make it 6-0. Righty Chad Billingsley came in to pitch to Werth and struck Werth out swinging 0-2 to leave both men stranded.

Billingsley was back to pitch the third and set the Phillies down in order. Ibanez got ahead 2-0 and hit a ball hard, but on the ground to Belliard at second for the first out. Feliz grounded softly to short and Ruiz flew to right.

Lee flew to center to start the fourth. Rollins was next and he did the same, making it six in a row for Billingsley. Victorino was next and broke the string, walking on a 3-1 pitch that was outside. Utley laced a ball down the right field line but just foul before he grounded softly to second to end the inning.

Billingsley had thrown 30 pitches in the game.

Howard flew to right for the first out of the fifth. Werth got ahead 2-0 but went down swinging for the second out. Ibanez drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch and Feliz followed with the first hit off of Billingsley for the Phils as he blasted a triple off of the right field scoreboard for a triple. Ibanez scored to put the Phils up 7-0. Ruiz was next and he hit a 2-1 pitch into right-center for a single. Feliz scored and it was 8-0. Lee struck out for the third out.

Righty Ramon Troncoso pitched the sixth for LA. He struck Rollins out looking 2-2 and then Victorino swinging 1-2. Utley crushed a 1-0 pitch to center, but Kemp took it at the wall to set the Phillies down.

Troncoso was back for the seventh. He walked Howard on four pitches. Werth was next and he draw a walk as well. Ibanez struck out swinging 3-2, though, and Feliz chopped a double-play ball to third to end the inning.

Righty Ronald Belisario started the eighth for LA with the Phils up 8-0. Ruiz led off with a walk and moved to second when Lee followed with a single to center. Rollins grounded out to first for the first out, moving the runners to second and third. Victorino was next and he hit a 1-1 pitch from Belisario way out to right, putting the Phils up 11-0. Utley followed with a single and went to second on a passed ball with Howard at the plate. Howard grounded to first for the second out, with Utley moving to third. Werth grounded out to third to end the inning.

Thanks to some nice work by Billingsley, the Dodgers pen didn’t suffer too terribly from Kuroda getting just four outs. Billingsley threw 57 pitches in the game, Troncoso 36 and Belisario 28. Billingsley seems sure not to pitch tonight, but that could help the Phils out if we see Troncoso or Belisario in game four.

Rollins was 1-for-5 with a double and an RBI in the game. 2-for-14 in the series.

Victorino 2-for-3 with two walks and a three-run homer. 4-for-12 with two walks in the series.

Utley 2-for-4 with a walk and no throwing errors. 3-for-12 with two walks so far.

Howard 1-for-4 with a walk, a triple and three RBI. 4-for-10 with a double, a triple, a home run, three walks and six RBI in the series.

Werth 1-for-4 with a walk and a two-run homer. 1-for-10 with two walks and five strikeouts.

Ibanez 0-for-3 with a walk in the game and 2-for-10 with a big home run in the series.

Feliz was 1-for-4 with a triple and an RBI last night and is 1-for-10 with a walk in the series.

Ruiz 2-for-3 with a double, a walk and an RBI. 5-for-8 with a double, a home run and three walks in the series to put his line at 625/727/1.125. Howard’s amazing post-season may be blocking out what Ruiz has been doing with the bat, but Ruiz has been outstanding as well.

Rollins, Utley, Feliz and Werth are a combined 7-for-46 (.152) in the series with four RBI. Victorino, Howard, Ibanez and Ruiz are a combined 15-for-40 (.375) with 16 RBI.

Game four is tonight with Joe Blanton facing Randy Wolf.


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