Archive for October, 2009

I mean, what the hell?

My favorite Charlie Manuel quote is, and will probably always be, “We need to be more focused or something.” A strong second, though, is “I mean, what the hell?” That one finds its way into print regularly, and with it Manuel usually manages to perfectly capture his combination of anger and frustration with his team, a player or a situation.

Yesterday Charlie Manuel used his game three starter and his game four starter in game two of the five-game series with the Rockies. Only one of them got hurt, but it still wasn’t the way things are traditionally done. The Phillies lost the game, so Manuel owns that one now as the Phils head to Colorado needing to win at least one of two if they want to keep their season alive.

The Phils lost game two the NLDS yesterday, falling 5-4. Carlos Gonzalez and his speed helped create a run for Colorado in the first and Yorvit Torrealba blasted a two-run homer off of Hamels in the fourth to make it 3-0. A single by Rockies pitcher Aaron Cook sparked another rally in the fifth as the lead was extended to 4-0. The Phils came back with three runs in the sixth to get within one, but a leadoff double by Ryan Spilborghs led to another Colorado run to make it 5-3. The Phils got a late solo blast from Werth to cut the lead to 5-4, but that was how it ended.

Yesterday will also be remembered because Phillies starter Cole Hamels’ wife Heidi went into labor during the game. This article suggests that Hamels did not receive that news until he was done pitching for the day.

The Phillies and Rockies are tied at one game apiece in their five-game NLDS. Game three is Saturday night in Colorado.

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.

He faced a Rockies lineup that went (1) Gonzalez (LF/L) (2) Fowler (CF/S) (3) Helton (1B/L) (4) Tulowitzki (SS/R) (5) Atkins (3B/R) (6) Torrealba (C/R) (7) Spilborghs (RF/L) (8) Barmes (2B/R). The righty Atkins stays in the lineup with the lefty Stewart on the bench. Gonzalez and Fowler switch places at the top of the order. The righty Spilborghs starts in right with the lefty Hawpe on the bench. Iannetta was on the bench again despite his 296/406/580 line against lefties on the season. Torrealba hit 220/288/322 against lefties for the year.

The Rockies had lefties Jason Giambi, Ian Stewart, Brad Hawpe and Seth Smith on the bench to start the game, along with righty and Chris Iannetta and switch-hitter Eric Young.

Gonzalez led off the game for the Rockies. Hamels didn’t get the call on a close 1-2 pitch that looked good to me. Gonzalez singled into right on a 3-2 pitch. Fowler was next and Hamels had Gonzalez picked off first as Gonzalez took off for second. Hamels threw to first and Howard had plenty of time, but double-clutched the throw and Gonzalez was safe at second. Fowler bunted an 0-1 pitch back to Hamels for the first out, moving Gonzalez to third. Helton hit a swinging bunt up the first base line on a 2-1 pitch. Hamels fielded and threw home, but Gonzalez was safe and Colorado led 1-0 with Helton safe at first. Hamels probably would have had Helton at first if he had gone there. Tulowitzki got behind 0-2 and then grounded into a double-play to end the inning, third to second to first.

More bad defense from Howard early in the game after he threw a ball away early in game one. Howard was fantastic defensively early in the season, but his fielding tailed off towards the end of the season. In game one he threw a ball away and yesterday the Phillies should have had Gonzalez at second, which would have saved them a run.

Sixteen pitches in the first inning for Hamels.

Atkins lined softly to Howard to start the second inning. Torrealba was next and he hit a ground ball in the hole between short and third. Rollins fielded, but Torrealba beat his throw to first for a single. Hamels struck Spilborghs out swinging 0-2 for the second out, and it brought Barmes to the plate with two outs and a man on first. Barmes struck out swinging 1-2 to end the frame.

Thirteen pitches in the inning for Hamels had him at 29 for the game.

Hamels struck Cook out on three pitches to start the top of the third. Gonzalez was next and he hit a 1-1 pitch past a diving Utley and into right field for his second single of the day. Fowler struck out looking 2-2 for the second out. With Hamels ahead of Helton 0-1, he again picked Gonzalez off as the runner took off for second. This time Howard delivered to second and Gonzalez was tagged out to set the Rockies down.

Thirteen pitches in the inning for Hamels. 42.

Helton was back at the dish to start the fourth and lined a 2-2 pitch into center. Tulowitzki popped a 1-2 pitch to Utley for the first out and Hamels struck out Atkins for the second. Torrealba was next, though, and he lined a 1-1 pitch out to left to put Colorado up 3-0. Spilborghs flew to left on an 0-2 pitch to end the inning.

Long inning for Hamels. Twenty-four pitches had him at 66 for the game.

Barmes flew to center to for the first out of the fifth, but Cook was next and he blooped a 1-2 pitch into right for a single. Gonzalez lined a double to right, sending Cook to third. It brought up Fowler with men on second and third and one down and Fowler hit a ball to the warning track in left. Ibanez took it for the second out, but it was deep enough for the runners to move up. 4-0 with two outs and Gonzalez on third. Helton popped to Rollins to leave Gonzalez stranded.

Seventeen pitches in the inning put Hamels at 83.

Blanton started the sixth after Dobbs hit for Hamels in the bottom of the fifth. He got Tulowitzki on a ground ball to third for the first out. Lefty Ian Stewart hit for the righty Atkins and Blanton struck him out swinging 2-2. Torrealba grounded to short for the third out.

Blanton was back to start the seventh, too, with the Phillies now down 4-3. Spilborghs was the first hitter to face him and he lofted a double to left that fell just in front of the sliding Ibanez. Barmes was next and he put down a bunt. Blanton fielded and tried to get Spilborghs at third, but Spilborghs was safe with Barmes safe at first. Lefty Seth Smith hit for the pitcher Jose Contreras and Happ came in to pitch to him. With the pitcher’s spot due to lead off the bottom of the inning, Cairo took over at third for Feliz as part of a double-switch. Happ wouldn’t be in the game long. Smith smashed a 2-1 pitch off his left leg, just below the knee. Spilborghs held third, but Barmes moved to second and Smith was safe at first with a single. Eyre came in to pitch to Gonzalez with the bases loaded and nobody out. He stuck out Gonzalez for the first out and stayed on to pitch to the switch-hitter Fowler. Fowler hit a fly ball to right deep enough to score Spilborghs and extend the Rockies lead to 5-3. Eyre then got Helton on a pop to shortstop to end the inning and leave two men stranded.

Fowler is much better against lefties, but Manuel leaves Eyre in to face him anyway and Fowler delivers the RBI that proves to be the game-winner. Lots of lefties left to face in the game, though, including Helton right behind Fowler. I think an interesting question is whether Manuel would have brought in a righty to pitch to Fowler if Happ had been able to stay in the game and got Gonzalez like Eyre did. He then could have brought Eyre in to face Helton. I think he probably wouldn’t have and kept Happ in to pitch to Fowler as well, given they still had more than two innings to play.

Second time in the game the Phillies pitcher tries to get an out at a base other than first and it doesn’t work. Hamels tried to get Gonzalez at home on Helton’s dribbler up the first base line and that didn’t work either.

Myers started the eighth with the Phils still down by two. He hit the leadoff man Tulowitzki and walked Stewart behind him. Torrealba bunted the runners to second and third for the first out before Myers walked Spilborghs intentionally to set up the double-play. Barmes hit an 0-1 pitch to third. It might have been a double-play, but Cairo had to come home and did. Tulowitzki was forced for the second out with the bases still loaded. Lefty Jason Giambi hit for the pitcher Matt Belisle. Bastardo came in to pitch to Giambi and struck him out swinging 1-2 to leave the bases loaded.

Huge out by Bastardo. Myers didn’t pitch well.

Madson came in to pitch the ninth with the Phils down 5-4. He got Gonzalez to pop to short and then struck out Fowler and Helton.

Madson looked fantastic, setting down two of the Rockies’ lefties.

The Phillies lineup against righty Aaron Cook 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 a five-man bench that included righties Francisco and Cairo and lefties Dobbs, Stairs and Bako.

Rollins led off the bottom of the first with the Phillies down 1-0. He grounded an 0-1 pitch to second for the first out. Victorino was next and he got behind 0-2 before he singled to left. Utley hit a 1-1 pitch to second and Colorado nearly turned two, but Utley just beat Tulowitzki’s relay to keep the inning alive. Howard struck out looking to end the inning.

Werth led off the second and got ahead 3-0 before he flew to left for the first out. Ibanez dumped a 2-2 pitch into center in front of Fowler for a single, putting a man aboard for Feliz. Feliz struck out looking 0-2 for the second out. Cook struck Ruiz out swinging 1-2 to end the inning.

Hamels drew a five-pitch walk to start the third. Rollins hit an 0-1 pitch to first. Helton tagged the bag and threw to second where Hamels was tagged out to complete the double-play. Victorino was next and he reached on a single back up the middle off the glove of Barmes. Utley struck out looking 1-2 to leave Victorino stranded.

Cook had thrown 45 pitches through three innings.

Howard led off the fourth and singled to center on a 3-1 pitch to lead things off. Werth followed and hit into a double-play. Ibanez grounded softly to second for the third out. Down 4-0, Feliz grounded to short to start the fifth. Ruiz followed and drew a five-pitch walk and Dobbs hit for Hamels. Dobbs flew to right on a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Rollins lined to short on the first pitch of his at-bat to end the inning.

Victorino led off the sixth and hit a ground ball back up the middle. Barmes got to it and fielded, but his throw to first was off the glove of Helton and Victorino took second on the throwing error by Barmes. Utley was next and lined a single to right, sending Victorino to third. Howard was next and he lined a 1-1 pitch into the right field corner. The ball rolled to the wall, scoring Victorino to make it 4-1 and moving Utley to third. Righty Jose Contreras came on to pitch to Werth. With the infield back for the Rockies, Werth couldn’t put the ball in play and struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out. Colorado left the righty Contreras in to pitch to Ibanez and Ibanez smashed the first pitch he saw from Contreras into center for a two-run single. 4-3. Feliz got behind 0-2 and then blooped a ball behind second base that dropped for a hit, moving Ibanez to second. Ruiz again swung at the first pitch and grounded into a double-play to end the inning.

Ruiz has had terrible results swinging at the first pitch in the series.

Righty Matt Belisle came in to protect the 5-3 Colorado lead in the seventh and set the Phils down in order. Cairo hit the ball well, but it was taken by Fowler for the first out. Rollins struck out swinging 1-2 and Victorino grounded to second.

Righty Rafael Betancourt started the eighth for Colorado. He got Utley and Howard on a pair of ground balls, but Werth connected on an 0-1 pitch and blasted it out to right-center to get the Phillies within one at 5-4. Lefty Franklin Morales came in to pitch to Ibanez. Ibanez hit his 1-1 pitch hard, but on the ground to Barmes to end the inning.

Betancourt gets through the lefties Utley and Howard and then gets hurt by the righty. Joe Beimel was presumably available after throwing just two pitches in game one, but doesn’t appear in the game for Colorado.

The lefty Morales was still on the mound to start the ninth, so Manuel announced the righty Francisco as his pinch-hitter. The Rockies called on their closer, righty Huston Street to pitch to Francisco. Francisco went down on a ground ball to third for the first out. Stairs hit for Ruiz next and drew a walk. Cliff Lee ran for him at first. Cairo came to the plate as the winning run, but flew to right for the second out. Rollins was next and he laced a 1-2 pitch into right for a single that moved Lee to second. Street got Victorino to line a 2-2 pitch to second to end the game.

Rollins was 1-for-5 in the game with a huge single in the ninth. 2-for-9 with two singles in the series.

Victorino was 3-for-5 in the game and is 4-for-9 with a double in the series.

Utley was 1-for-4 with a single in the game. 2-for-8 in the set.

Howard was 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. 4-for-8 with two doubles in the first two games.

Werth 1-for-4 with a homer. 3-for-7 with a triple and a homer so far.

Ibanez was 2-for-4 with two RBI. 4-for-8 with a double and four RBI.

Feliz 1-for-3 in the game and 3-for-7 in the series. Cairo was 0-for-2 in the game.

Ruiz was 0-for-2 with a walk. He hit into a critical double-play in the sixth. I implore him to stop swinging at the first pitch. He’s 1-for-5 with two walks in the series.

Stairs had a huge at-bat in the ninth and drew a walk to put the tying run on base.

Dobbs was 0-for-1 in the game.

Carlos Gonzalez is the guy who has done the most for the Rockies offensively. He’s 5-for-9 with a double in the series. Torrealba had a big home run in game two, he’s 3-for-6 with a double and a home run. Tulowitzki is the only other Rockie with more than one hit — he’s 2-for-7 with a double.

No game today. Game three is tomorrow night in Colorado and starts at 9:37. Game four is Sunday night and doesn’t start till 10:07. Fantastic.

One of Happ, Blanton or Martinez will start game three. Blanton threw 19 pitches in game two and Happ four. Happ says his leg will be okay. I think there’s close to no chance it’s Happ in game three.

In the article linked above, Manuel says that he used both Blanton and Happ in the game because he was trying to win. It didn’t happen, though, and it hurt the Phillies chances to win the series. I think it was a bad idea. I know he said he might do it for days before it happened. I didn’t believe him. I also don’t think there’s any chance that not knowing who is pitching game three is going to help Blanton or Martinez.

Happ had X-rays on his leg and says he’s okay. Probably a little less okay than he would have been if Seth Smith hadn’t smashed a line drive off his body, though, but I’m just guessing.

I think the Phillies should start Pedro tomorrow and Blanton in game four. My guess is they will, too, but I’m far from sure.

Martinez says he could throw 90 to 100 pitches in a start if he goes in game three. He threw 130 pitches against the Mets on September 13, really he did, and then threw 56 and 83 in his last two starts of the season.

This article considers the possibility that game three will be postponed due to weather.

Todd Zolecki’s Twitter page says that Heidi Hamels gave birth to a baby boy this morning at 9 AM.


Lee saves the best for first

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.

Feliz 1-for-4.

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.


First time, long time

Lot of stuff you can pick to worry about today as the Phils open the post-season against the Rockies. I’m going to go with how many innings Cliff Lee has thrown this year as he makes the first playoff start of his career. Here’s a look at some of the guys on the Phillies and Rockies who are in the top 40 in MLB for innings pitched this year:


MLB leaders, Innings pitched
Rank Player Team IP
5 C Lee CLE/PHI 231 2/3
13 U Jimenez COL 218
15 J Marquis COL 216
40 J Blanton PHI 195 1/3

On the plus side, thirteenth on the list with 218 innings might not be where you want your 25-year-old stud to be either.

Looking just at the NL now, here’s pitchers in the top forty for either team in innings pitched as a reliever:


NL Leaders, Innings pitched as reliever
Rank Player Team IP
4 R Madson PHI 77 1/3
19 C Durbin PHI 69 2/3
37 H Street COL 61 2/3

And here’s NL appearances as a reliever:


NL Leaders, appearances as reliever
Rank Player Team G
4 R Madson PHI 79
22 J Beimel COL 71
37 B Lidge PHI 67

While we’re worrying about stuff, it’s a good time to remember that Madson has thrown a ton over the past two seasons. He was fourth in the NL in both innings pitched as a reliever and appearances as a reliever in ’09 after being fifth in the league in innings pitched in relief and tied for ninth in appearances in 2008.

Lefty Cliff Lee faces righty Ubaldo Jimenez this afternoon in game one of the NLDS.

Jimenez made 33 starts with the Rockies this season, going 15-12 with a 3.47 ERA and a 1.23 ratio over 218 innings. He was tough on righties, who hit just 206/276/309 against him. He doesn’t give up home runs to much of anyone, he allowed just 13 on the season, but will walk lefties. He faced 482 lefties and 432 righties on the season and walked 56 lefties and 29 righties. He comes into the series with a 2.70 ERA and a 1.15 ratio over his last three starts. In those three outings he struck out 25 in 20 innings.

He started game three of the 2007 NLDS and was brilliant as the Phillies were eliminated. He allowed a run on three hits and four walks over 6 1/3 innings. Shane Victorino homered off of him in the seventh for the Phillies only run of the game. He didn’t face the Phillies this year.

Feliz is 3-for-4 with a double and a home run against Jimenez in the regular season for his career. Victorino 3-for-5. Howard 2-for-5 with a homer.

31-year-old lefty Cliff Lee will be making the first post-season start of his career. He went 14-13 with a 3.22 ERA and a 1.24 ratio in 34 starts for the Indians and Phillies in 2009. Lee doesn’t walk anyone, almost literally when it comes to lefties. He walked six left-handed batters all season. Lefties hit just 241/263/320 against Lee with eleven extra-base hits for the season. Righties had a lot more luck, hitting 283/321/414.

Lee was brilliant in July and August, making 11 starts between the Indians and Phils in which he threw to a 2.06 ERA with an 0.98 ratio. Opponents posted a .590 OPS against him over those 11 starts. Things have been ugly since the end of August. In his last six starts of the season Lee had a 5.45 ERA and a 1.38 ratio. Opponents hit .317 against him.

He made one start against the Rockies this year and pitched well. On August 6 in Philadelphia he allowed one run over seven innings on six hits and a walk while striking out nine. The Phillies won the game 3-1. The Rockies had righties Atkins, Spilborghs, Iannetta and Barmes in their lineup against Lee that day and they combined to go 1-for-15 with a single by Spilborghs.

Jason Giambi is the Rockie who has seen Lee the most over his career from their time in the American League. Giambi is 3-for-10 with a home run against Lee.

Here’s the Phillies NLDS roster. And the Rockies. Just two lefties on the roster for Colorado, so we may be seeing a lot of Joe Beimel and Franklin Morales against Utley, Howard and Ibanez in the short series.

Not a huge fan of the Phillies post-season roster. The relief pitchers on the team who would make me real nervous in a close game include Bastardo, Durbin, Kendrick, Lidge and Myers. That’s a lot. Madson in the ninth, too. I’d feel great about Madson in the eighth, but I don’t think that’s when we’re going to be seeing him pitch. I hope the Phils don’t wind up missing Condrey and Walker too much.

Still, overall I think there’s a lot of reasons to like the Phillies in the series. They won more games in the regular season. They scored more runs than the Rockies. They allowed fewer. They have home field advantage. They won four of the six games the teams played in the regular season. The Rockies weren’t very good on the road this season, especially offensively. The Phils have Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels starting games one and two.

Not much of that is going to matter much if they don’t come out and play well in a few hours, though.


Home field advantager

You’ve gotta be worried about the back of the pen and whether Rollins can get the offense rolling, but if you had a chance to pick a pair of Phillies you would like to play well against the Rockies I think you have to go with Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels.

The Rockies aren’t fantastic when they’re facing lefties or playing on the road. They’ll be doing both in games one and two.

They sure can hit at Coors Fields, though. The Rockies hit 287/367/482 at home this season. They posted an .850 OPS for the year at home, which was the best mark in the National League. The Phillies were second in home OPS, but they were way back at .796. Colorado’s .850 home OPS was better than the OPS posted at home by every American League team except for the Yankees and Red Sox. If you’re not familiar with the American League, it’s like baseball but instead of Wandy Rodriguez grounding back to the mound they have Adam Lind hit a three-run homer.

Colorado scored 464 runs in their 81 games at home, which is more than any team in either league except for the Red Sox. Again, 14 of the teams play in the AL.

And they don’t just score runs at home, they win. Colorado went 51-30 at home this year. Only one other NL team had 51 or more wins at home. The Giants went 52-29.

They are, however, a whole lot worse on the road. 41-40 this season. Here’s how the runs the Phils and Rockies scored per game at home and on the road and the differences between the two compare for the season:

  Runs
scored per game
Runs
allowed per game
Diff
COL at Home 5.73 4.68 1.05
COL Away 4.20 4.15 .05
       
PHI at Home 5.03 4.53 .50
PHI Away 5.09 4.22 .87

The Rockies just weren’t very good on the road, scoring about the same number of runs per game that they allowed. At home their offense was silly good. Also notable is that the average number of runs they allowed at home per game was not up nearly as sharply as the number of runs they scored at home.

The Phillies, of course, unlike the Rockies, are very good on the road. The 48 games that the Phils won on the road was the most in the NL. No team in either league won more games on the road than the Phils. The Angels had an identical 48-33 record in road games for the season. Still, I don’t think the Phillies want to be heading to Colorado with their backs to the wall.

Cliff Lee will start game one for the Phillies.

Update: Here’s the roster for the NLDS. No Condrey, Walker or Bruntlett. Cairo, Bastardo, Myers and Kendrick are all on the team. I would rather have Condrey or Walker than Bastardo. I’m also going to be surprised if Myers is able to contribute.


Taking stock of the Rox

My hot-or-not opinion on the eight Rockies who have the most plate appearances over the past 14 days:

 

Season

 

HOT

AVG

OBP

SLG
 

Helton

325

416

489
Fantastic year
for Helton all-around.  If you’re looking for a flaw, he slugged just .372 against lefties, but hit
.311 against them with a .369 on-base percentage.  He hit .300 or
better every month and on-based at least .400 in each of the last four
months of the season.  He was on a huge tear to end the season, going
14-for-30 (467/529/667).  Bright spot number two may be that he has just one home run in his last 119 plate appearances.
         

Tulowitzki

296

377

551
Hit 342/421/619
in the second half, so he’s got to be playing pretty well. 
411/488/781 over his last 84 plate appearances.
         

Torrealba

290

351

379
Hit .322 with a
.379 on-base percentage in the second half after hitting .225 with a .309
on-base percentage in the first half.  Just two home runs on the
season, but has hit 321/372/389 since the start of August and is
8-for-his-last-22 (364/360/545).
         
Hawpe 285 384 519 The
lefty Hawpe struggled against left-handed pitching this season, hitting
.243 with a .337 on-base percentage (he hit .303 with a .403 on-base
percentage against righties).  He smoked 42 doubles on the year,
which tied him for fifth in the NL.  After a 320/396/577 first half,
though, he hit 240/370/442 in the second half.  He hit just .208 in
September in October, but managed a monster .394 on-base percentage in
those months by drawing 21 walks in 94 plate appearances.  He
finished strong, going 8-for-his-last-24 with three home runs.  He
was ice cold before that, though.  Going into those last 24 at-bats
he was 7-for-47 (.146).
         
Gonzalez 284 353 525 The
23-year-old lefty fared well against left-handed pitching this season,
hitting 276/343/466 against them.  Like Fowler his numbers at home
were a lot better than his numbers at home.  He hit 305/361/582 at
home and 263/344/467 on the road.  Most of the action he saw on the
year came in the second half — after hitting 202/280/333 in 94 plate
appearances before the break he hit 320/384/608 in 223 plate appearances
after the break.  He went 9-for-28 (333/357/593) to end the regular
season.
         
  Season  
NOT
AVG

OBP

SLG
 

Stewart

228

322

464
Stewart hit .178
against lefties on the season.  Twenty of his 25 homers on the year
came against right-handed pitching.  He’s 3-for-his-last-20 with
three singles.
         

Barmes

245

294

440
Career highs for
Barmes in home runs (23) and RBI (76).  Hit 279/323/478 before the
break but trailed off after, hitting just 205/259/394.  He was
atrocious away from home, hitting 207/251/380 for the year.  He went
5-for-28 to end the season (.179).
         
Fowler 266 363 406 The
switch-hitter Fowler didn’t do much against righties this year, hitting
240/357/372 against them compared to 321/377/482 against lefties.  He
also hit just 236/331/387 away from home.  He comes into the series a
chilly 4-for-his-last-25 (160/222/280).

Assuming the Phillies start Lee and Hamels in games one and two, I would guess there’s about zero chance you see those eight players on the field for Colorado in both of the first two games.

Here are some of the other players that could be a factor for Colorado and what they’ve done recently:

Righty Ryan Spilborghs always kills the Phils, he has a career line of 420/464/660 against the Phillies in 56 plate appearances. He didn’t hit either righties or lefties well this year, though, and managed just a 241/310/395 line for the season. 3-for-23 to end the year.

Righty Chris Iannetta hit just 228/344/460 this season, but his 296/406/580 line against lefties should scare you. He’s another Rockies player that was much better at home than away from it, hitting 295/389/576 at home and 167/302/353 away. He went 5-for-16 (.313) to end the season.

Garrett Atkins is yet another of the Colorado righties. He hit an ugly 226/308/342 on the year, but 268/363/428 against lefties. He hit .200 with a .298 on-base percentage away from home. He was also 5-for-16 to end the season.

Lefty Seth Smith put up nice numbers against both lefties and righties on the season, hitting 293/378/510 overall. He didn’t see much time against lefties, though, getting just 69 of his 387 plate appearances on the year against them. He comes into the post-season 5-for-24 (.208) over the last 14 days.

Lefty Jason Giambi had a terrible year overall, hitting 201/343/382 between the A’s and Rockies. He smoked the ball in limited time with the Rockies, though, hitting 292/452/583 over 31 plate appearances. 1-for-9 with five strikeouts in the last two weeks of the season.

24-year-old switch-hitter Eric Young didn’t do much with the bat this season, hitting just 246/295/316 in 61 plate appearances. He was 1-for-10 in the last two weeks of the season. Really fast, though.

Finally, the Rockies were just a miserable offensive team on the road this season. Overall they hit 235/319/399 on the road and 287/367/482 at Coors Field. Iannetta (.656), Spilborghs (.644), Atkins (.624) and Barmes (.631) all had an OPS for the season that was under .700 away from Coors.


That’s not hot

Not a whole lot of Phillies hitting the ball especially well as the regular season comes to a close. Here’s a look at the eight regulars, what they did in the regular season and in their last handful of at-bats:

 

Season

 

HOT

AVG

OBP

SLG
 

Rollins

250

296

423
Miserable year
for Rollins, but it ends with a six-game hitting streak; He’s
10-for-his-last-25 (400/464/725)
         

Howard

279

360

571
Another monster
year for Howard, who has driven in more than 140 runs for the third time
in four seasons.  He comes into the post-season on a tear, hitting
365/437/762 over his last 71 plate appearances and 7-for-his-last-17 with
two home runs. 
         

Ruiz

255

355

425
Ruiz blasted
left-handed pitching this season to the tune of 293/370/524.  After
hitting just 235/335/367 in the first half of the season, he hit
276/375/487 in the second half.  He missed about a week in late
September with a problem with his left wrist, but came back in time to go
3-for-10 with a pair of walks to end the season.
         
  Season  

NOT

AVG

OBP

SLG
 

Feliz

266

308

386
Feliz’s .386
slugging percentage for the year is the worst for his career in any season
where he had 250 at-bats.  He hit just 12 home runs on the season,
the fewest he has hit since 2002 when he got 146 at-bats.  He was
terrible in the second-half, hitting 236/274/351.  5-for-his-last-22. 
Hasn’t drawn a walk in his last 58 plate appearances.
         

Werth

268

373

506
In his first
season with more than 420 plate appearances, Werth had a fantastic year
and set career-highs in home runs (36), RBI (99) and slugging percentage
(.506).  He’s still way better against lefties than righties
(302/436/644 vs lefties this year and 256/348/457 against righties), but
he didn’t break down in the second half, putting up a .873 OPS in the
second-half after posting an .884 OPS in the first half.  He’s
5-for-his-last-20 but hit 189/343/302 in his last 67 plate appearances to
end the regular season.
         

Ibanez

272

347

552
A .552 slugging
percentage was a career high for Ibanez.  He hit 34 home runs, which
is also a career high.  309/367/649 in the first half and 232/326/448
in the second half.  Hit lefties better than righties, posting a
285/359/639 line against lefties and 267/342/517 against righties. 
Hit a miserable 196/277/327 in 119 plate appearances from August 1 to
September 7.  He picked it up some after that, hitting 259/358/543 in
his last 95 plate appearances to end the season.  Comes in the
playoffs 3-for-his-last-18.
         

Victorino

295

358

445
His .358
on-base percentage is a career-high, but Victorino has struggled badly
after July.   He hit 245/309/394 since the end of July and comes
into the post-season 7-for-his-last-35, hitting 200/243/371 in his last 38
plate appearances.
         

Utley

282

397

508
Utley hit
313/430/573 with 20 home runs in the first half and 246/358/432 with 11
homers in the second.  He enters the post-season 0-for-his-last-15. 
He hit two home runs in 108 at-bats in September.

Rollins, Howard and Ruiz finished strong. Hopefully the rest of the guys pick things up with the help of some extra time off.

Among other players who may see time in the post-season for the Phillies, Miguel Cairo finished well. He went 5-for-13 with a triple and a home run to end the season.

Cairo’s fellow backup infielder Eric Bruntlett had a hide-your-eyes ugly season, but was 2-for-9 to end the year with two singles. That might not sound like much, but he hit 171/224/238 on the year.

Dobbs 1-for-his-last-11.

Stairs 0-for-his-last-4 with three strikeouts. He hasn’t singled since the end of June — he’s 4-for-his-last-49 (.082) with two doubles and two homers.

Ben Francisco seems like the guy on the bench likely to see the most time. He finished the year by going 5-for-12 with two doubles and two walks.

Bako was 2-for-9 with a pair of singles to end the season.


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