The Phillies got a tough break on a bad call last night, but it was their inability to do much offensively that cost them the game. The Phils have scored 12 runs in their last five games and lost three of them. In four of their last five they have scored two runs or less.
Blanton pitched very well in last night’s game and the Phils took a 2-1 lead into the eighth inning. With nobody out and a man on first, Michael Bourn put down a pretty bunt. He looked like he was either tagged out or ran out of the basepath trying to avoid Ryan Howard’s tag, but was called safe. After the Astros bunted the runners to second and third, Carlos Lee broke his bat lining a single into left that plated two runs and put Houston on top to stay at 3-2.
The return of Chase Utley and his fellow monster slugger Ryan Howard to the lineup is sure to spur the offense for the Phils if we wait long enough. It hasn’t so far, though. Utley is 5-for-22 since his return and Howard 2-for-12 with five strikeouts.
The Phillies are 70-54 on the season after losing 3-2 to the Houston Astros last night. They are in second place in the NL East and trail the first place Braves by 2 1/2 games. They are in the lead for the Wild Card, a game ahead of both the Cardinals and Giants.
Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing a run on six hits. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter. Over his last eight starts he has thrown to a 3.63 ERA and a 1.31 ratio, lowering his ERA for the season from 6.41 to 5.32.
Bourn led the game off with a single and stole second. He moved to third on a single by Angel Sanchez and came in to score on a sac fly by Hunter Pence, putting the Astros up 1-0. It brought Carlos Lee to the plate with one out and Sanchez on first. Lee doubled to the gap in right center and the ball rolled to the warning track. Utley took the relay from Victorino and threw home, just in time for Ruiz to tag Sanchez out as he slid into the plate. Chris Johnson flew to right for the third out.
Could have been worse. Sanchez thrown out at the plate was a gift. Would have been better for the Astros to have runners on second and third with one out.
Blanton struck out Humberto Quintero and Anderson Hernandez in a 1-2-3 second.
He threw a 1-2-3 third and started the fourth with a 2-1 lead. He struck out Pence and Johnson as he set Houston down in order.
Quintero singled with one out in the fifth, but Blanton got Hernandez and the pitcher Brett Myers to leave Quintero stranded.
Bourn singled to start the sixth and stole second. Blanton struck Sanchez out for the first out before a fly out by Pence moved Bourn to third. Lee flew to right for the third out.
Quintero bunted for a single with two outs in the seventh. Blanton struck Hernandez out behind him to end the frame.
Madson started the eighth with the Phils still leading 2-1. Jason Michaels led off with a single to right. Bourn was next and he put down a bunt between the mound and first base. Howard fielded the ball and lunged at Bourn as he ran for first. He was very close to tagging Bourn and maybe did. Bourn also looked like he went way out of the baseline in an effort to avoid the tag, but was called safe at first with a single that put men on first and second. Manuel was ejected for arguing. Sanchez bunted the runners to second and third for the first out and Madson struck out Pence for the second. Lee was next and he swung at the first pitch, breaking his bat as he softly lined a two-run single into left field to put Houston up 3-2. Madson got Johnson to ground to short for the third out.
Lidge pitched the ninth with the Phils down a run. Hernandez singled with two outs and stole second, but Lidge struck Michaels out looking for the third out.
I hear you can run on Lidge.
The Phillies lineup against righty Brett Myers went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Ibanez (7) Ruiz (8) Valdez. Valdez plays third against the righty with Polanco on the bench with a sore elbow.
Down 1-0, the Phillies went in order in the first.
Myers struck out Howard, Werth and Ibanez in the second.
Ruiz led off the third and hit a 2-0 pitch out to left, tying the game at 1-1. Valdez grounded out for the first out before Blanton singled into center. Rollins was next and singled into left. Lee bobbled the ball, allowing the runners to go to second and third. Victorino hit a ground ball to first. Brett Wallace fielded and threw home where Blanton was tagged out for the second out. Rollins went to third. With two outs and men on first and third, Utley singled into center, scoring Rollins to put the Phils up 2-1. Howard struck out swinging to leave the runners stranded on first and second and signal the end of the offense for the game for the Phillies.
Ibanez singled with one out in the fourth. Ruiz was next and hit a ground ball to short. Ibanez was forced at second with Ruiz safe at first and two down. Valdez moved Ruiz to second with a single into center, but Blanton struck out to leave both men stranded.
The Phils went in order in the fifth.
Bourn doubled to center with one out in the sixth. Ibanez struck out swinging behind him for the second out. Ruiz was next and the Astros walked him intentionally to pitch to Myers. Myers delivered ball four and Werth walked slowly back towards second base with his head down. Quintero took ball four and threw to second. Werth was tagged out to end the inning.
Miserable job by Werth. He’s still on pace to hit 55 doubles.
With one out in the seventh and Myers still pitching for Houston, Brown hit for Blanton and singled to right. Rollins moved Brown to second with a single, but Victorino hit into a double-play to end the inning with the Phils still up 2-1.
They were down 3-2 when they hit in the eighth. Werth singled to left with two outs, but Ibanez flew to center to leave him stranded.
Ruiz drew a walk against righty Brandon Lyon to start the ninth and Francisco ran for him. Valdez was next and tried to bunt Ruiz to second, but popped the bunt up to Wallace at first for the first out. Polanco hit for Lidge and flew to center. With Rollins at the place, Francisco stole second. Rollins lined to left for the third out.
Gutsy and important stolen base for Francisco, who was just safe. Huge no sacrifice for Valdez in the inning when he popped the bunt up for the second out. The Phils sure seemed to miss recently designated Greg Dobbs in the game, starting Valdez at third against the righty, letting Valdez hit for himself against a righty in the ninth. They also hit Polanco against a righty in the ninth, but they probably would have done that anyway even if Dobbs was on the team. Brown and Schneider are the only two lefties on the bench for the Phils these days, and you shouldn’t be looking for Schneider to pinch-hit pretty much ever as long as there are two catchers on the roster.
Rollins was 2-for-5 with two singles in the game. 284/356/395 over his last 90 plate appearances. He slugged .634 through May 21 and then hit the DL. Since returning from the DL at the end of June he has slugged .335 in 247 plate appearances.
Victorino was 0-for-4 in the game. He’s 2-for-his-last-15 and on-basing .312 for the season.
Utley 1-for-4 with an RBI. He’s 5-for-22 with a double (227/320/273) since coming off the DL.
Howard 0-for-4 and struck out three times. He’s 2-for-his-last-25 with 13 strikeouts. He did get Bourn, though, if that makes you feel any better.
Werth 2-for-4 with a double and two strikeouts. He also got picked off of second in a play that was hard to believe. He’s hitting 301/393/522 for the season. It might not seem like he’s having the best offensive year of his career, but he is. Look it up.
Ibanez 1-for-4 and struck out twice. He’s 6-for-his-last-43 with a .196 on-base percentage, which has dropped his line on the year from
4-5-6 in the order for the Phils were 3-for-12 with seven strikeouts and a picked off of second base on an intentional walk.
Ruiz was 1-for-2 with his sixth home run of the year and two walks. He’s hitting 297/389/443 for the season. 11-for-his-last-30 with five walks and four extra-base hits.
Valdez was 1-for-4. If he gets 13 more plate appearances for the Phillies this season he will have twice as many this year as he has had in any other season. 2-for-his-last-17.
Cole Hamels (7-10, 3.51) faces righty Bud Norris (6-7, 5.23) tonight. Hamels allowed five runs in five innings against the Giants in his last start. Three of his last five starts have been bad, but the other two were very good. Norris threw 123 pitches against the Mets in his last start, holding them to a pair of runs over seven innings. In the start before that he struck out 14 Pirates while holding them to two runs over seven innings. He had a 6.84 ERA for the season at the end of June and has gone 4-2 with a 3.88 ERA and a 1.14 ratio over eight starts since the start of July.