Archive for September, 2010

Concerned NL teams starting to wonder if Jack the Giant Killer can field at all

Nobody scores against the Giants this month, so who is it exactly that’s pitching so well for San Francisco? Pretty much everyone.

Here’s what San Francisco pitchers have done overall for the month and their numbers at the start of September (nothing in this post includes the results from last night’s game, but the trend continued for San Francisco as Tim Lincecum and two relievers held the Snakes to a single run as the Giants won 3-1):

  G IP ERA Ratio R/IP
September 24 214.3 1.85 0.87 0.22
Before
September
133 1201.2 3.68 1.34 0.44

So coming into September, San Francisco pitchers had allowed .44 runs per innings pitched. They had given up 523 runs in 133 games or 3.93 runs per game, which is way better than the average for the league. In September they have cut that in half as the entire staff has thrown to a 1.85 ERA and an 0.87 ratio, allowing .22 runs per inning pitched and 2.0 runs per game.

Both the starters and the relievers have been better, but the relievers have improved more.

Here’s what the starters have done this month and before this month:

  G IP ERA Ratio R/IP
September 24 155.3 2.09 0.90 0.25
Before
September
133 820.7 3.79 1.30 0.45

Barry Zito hasn’t been fantastic. He’s 1-3 with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.19 ratio in September. He hasn’t exactly been lit up, either. Opponents are hitting .189 against him for the month. He kinda sticks out, though, cause the other four starters have been ridiculously good. Sanchez, Lincecum, Cain and Bumgarner have combined to make 19 starts for the month in which they have thrown to a 1.67 ERA and an 0.84 ratio while striking out 132 in 129 1/3 innings. Again, those numbers all don’t include Lincecum’s outing from last night when he held Arizona to a run over seven innings and struck out 11.

The relievers have been better than the starters. Here’s what the bullpen has done in a group this month compared to what they did the rest of the season:

  G IP ERA Ratio R/IP
September 24 59 1.22 0.80 0.15
Before
September
133 381 3.43 1.43 0.41

So the starters dropped their runs allowed per inning from .45 before September to .25 in September. They were allowing about 1.8 times as many runs per inning before this month. The bullpen was allowing .41 runs per inning before this month and has allowed .15 runs per inning this month. That’s about 2.73 times as many runs per inning allowed in the months before September.

There are nine pitchers who have appeared in relief for San Francisco this month. Ramon Ramirez, Sergio Romo and Dan Runzler have combined to make 23 appearances in which they’ve thrown 17 1/3 innings without being charged with a run.

The guys who have appeared the most in relief for the Giants this month are closer Brian Wilson and Santiago Casilla. They’ve combined to make 22 appearances in which they struck out 20 in 23 innings while throwing to a 1.17 ERA and an 0.83 ratio.

The other four relievers, Guillermo Mota, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt and Chris Ray, haven’t been quite as dominant. They’ve still been very good, though. That group has pitcher to a 2.41 ERA and a 1.07 ratio over 18 2/3 innings in 27 appearances.

The Phillies beat the Nationals 7-1 last night. Blanton held Washington to an unearned run on three singles and three walks over seven innings. Sweeney and Mayberry both homered for the Phils and Francisco hit two, going 3-for-4 with three RBI. Rollins led off and went 0-for-4, making him 1-for-7 since his return to the starting lineup.

The Phils are off today and finish the regular season this weekend in Atlanta.


I’m still not doing the Tomahawk Chop, though, I don’t care what anyone says

The Phils are going to the post-season and will have home field advantage throughout. Beyond that, we know that the Reds have won their division and are in while the Braves, Giants and Padres battle for the two remaining NL spots. As of this morning the Giants lead the Padres by two games in the West and the Braves are a game and a half ahead of San Diego for the Wild Card.

So who should we be rooting for to come out on top?

Here’s how many runs per game the five teams have scored this season compared to the average for the league (not including last night):

Team R/G NL AVG R/G  
CIN 4.90 4.36 1.124
PHI 4.71 4.36 1.080
ATL 4.57 4.36 1.048
SF 4.34 4.36 0.995
SD 4.17 4.36 0.956

So, for example, the Reds have scored 4.90 runs per game this season. The average for NL teams is 4.36 runs per game. 4.90 over 4.36 is 1.124, which also means that the Reds have scored about 112.4% of the runs per game that the average NL team has scored this season.

Of the five teams, the Reds, Phils and Braves have all been better than average at scoring runs. The Giants and Padres have been worse than the average NL teams at scoring runs.

The average NL team has allowed 4.38 runs per game. Here’s how the numbers at preventing runs compare for the five teams (again, does not include last night):

Team RA/G NL AVG
RA/G
 
SD 3.63 4.38 0.829
SF 3.65 4.38 0.833
ATL 3.83 4.38 0.874
PHI 3.97 4.38 0.906
CIN 4.29 4.38 0.979

The chart is turned upside down for these numbers. The Padres have been the best of the five teams at preventing runs for the season, allowing about 82.9% of the runs per game that the average team in the NL has allowed.

If you combine the rates at which they have scored and prevented runs compared to the rest of the league, here’s how the results look:

Team Scoring
Runs
Preventing
Runs
Total
PHI 0.080 0.094 0.1739
ATL 0.048 0.126 0.1737
SF -0.005 0.167 0.1621
CIN 0.124 0.021 0.1444
SD -0.044 0.171 0.1277

Two big things I think you can take from that. The first is how slim the margin is between the Braves and the Phils at the top of the list. The second is that the Padres are just a lot worse than the other four teams on the list. One of the teams you should be rooting for to get into the playoffs is the Padres.

Who’s the other, though? From the numbers above it sure looks like we should all be Giants fans. But surely the injury-ravaged Braves aren’t the same team now that they’ve lost Chipper and Medlen and Prado, right?

Here’s what the five teams have done in September:

Team Record RS/G RA/G
PHI 20-6 5.19 3.58
ATL 12-14 3.35 3.81
SF 16-8 3.75 1.85
CIN 11-14 4.20 4.04
SD 11-15 3.00 4.19
       
Total for
Group
70-57 3.898 3.543

A couple of things you should take from that. The first is that the Phillies are playing very well, especially offensively. The Reds may have been better than the Phils at scoring runs overall for the season, but since the start of September the Phillies have scored almost a run per game more than Cincinnati has scored.

The other thing that you don’t want to miss is that the Giants are doing an amazing job at preventing runs. They’ve allowed 48 runs in their past 24 games and the Rockies beat them 10-9 on Saturday. So in the other 23 games they have allowed 38 runs, or 1.65 runs per game.

Here’s how the teams stack up if you compare the number of runs each team has scored and allowed this month to the other teams in the group (not the whole league) and then combine the numbers:

Team Scored Allowed Total
SF -0.04 0.48 0.44
PHI 0.33 -0.01 0.32
CIN 0.08 -0.14 -0.06
ATL -0.14 -0.08 -0.22
SD -0.23 -0.18 -0.41

The Giants pitching has been more dominant than the Phillies hitting, so San Francisco comes out on top on that list. I think there are two important things to come to terms with about the way the Giants have been pitching of late. The first is that if San Francisco allows 1.85 runs per game the rest of the way they’re going to win the World Series. There won’t be much for anyone else to do but watch. The second, though, is that that isn’t going to happen. In August, for example, the Giants allowed about 4.93 runs per game.

It does leave us with the question of who we’d like to see joining the Phils, Reds and Padres in the playoffs. If the Braves were at full strength I think it’s pretty much a no-brainer that you would prefer them to be watching the post-season. The Braves aren’t at full strength, though, and they haven’t been for a long time. The combination of the injuries to Atlanta and the remarkable job San Francisco has done preventing runs of late makes it very close.

On the plus side, it doesn’t matter a whole lot who you’re hoping for — the playoff teams from the NL look likely to be the Phils, Reds, Braves and Giants.

The Nats beat the Phils 2-1 last night. Oswalt pitched well, allowing an unearned run over five innings. Nyjer Morgan walked in the bottom of the first, stole second, took third with the help of a Rollins error and scored on an Adam Dunn ground out to put Washington up 1-0. Ibanez tied the game at 1-1 with a homer off of Jason Marquis in the fourth. Dunn hit a long walkoff home run off of Contreras with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth.

Rollins returned to the starting lineup and went 1-for-3 with a solid single out of the leadoff spot. He also made a throwing error in the first. Bastardo and Baez both pitched a scoreless inning in relief, with Bastardo striking out all three men he faced in the bottom of the eighth in a tie game.


All your base are belong to us

Roy Halladay roared back to life last night and the Phils kept on rolling. After burying the Nationals, the Phillies are the champs of the NL East for the fourth time in four years.

Roy Halladay came into the game having slogged through his last six starts, but he went a long way towards answering any questions there might be about his ability to deal with his enormous workload and pitch in big games. He was simply fantastic, needing just 97 pitches to throw a complete game shutout. Werth homered and doubled in the game, driving in four runs, and the Phils turned a 4-0 lead into an 8-0 blowout when they scored four runs in the top of the ninth.

The Phillies are 94-63 on the year after beating the Washington Nationals 8-0 last night. They have won the NL East. The Reds appear to be a lock to win the NL Central and the Wild Card race is between the Braves and whoever winds up not winning the West between the Giants and the Padres. The Braves are a half game ahead of the Padres. The Giants lead San Diego by a game.

Halladay got the start for the Phillies and threw a complete game shutout, allowing two singles and striking out six. He didn’t walk a batter.

He threw a 1-2-3 first.

He was up 1-0 when he started the second. He struck out Adam Dunn and Roger Bernadina as he set Washington down in order again.

Wilson Ramos singled to right to start the third, but Halladay got Alberto Gonzalez to hit into a double-play behind him. The pitcher John Lannan struck out swinging for the third out.

Halladay threw a 1-2-3 fourth and a 1-2-3 fifth.

He was up 4-0 when he started the sixth. He got Ramos and Gonzalez before Kevin Mench hit for the pitcher Craig Stammen. Mench grounded to first for the third out.

In the seventh, Halladay struck out Danny Espinosa, got Nyjer Morgan on a ground ball to second and Ian Desmond on a fly ball to right.

Adam Dunn singled to center to start the eighth. Mike Morse was next and ripped a ball down the third base line, but Polanco made a nice play to snare the ball as he went to the ground for the first out. Roger Bernadina popped to Polanco in foul territory for the second out and Ramos grounded to Utley for the third.

Big play by Polanco to stop the inning before it got started.

Halladay was up 8-0 when he started the ninth. He had thrown 87 pitches in the game. Gonzalez got behind 0-2 and lined to Polanco for the first out. Adam Kennedy hit for the pitcher Miguel Batista and flew to right for the second. Halladay got ahead of Espinosa 0-2 and struck him out swinging 1-2 to end the game.

The Phillies lineup against left John Lannan went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Ibanez (7) Ruiz (8) Valdez. Rollins was expected to return to the lineup to play short in the game, but that was rethought due to the wet field.

Polanco singled with one out in the first and took second on a wild pitch, but Utley struck out swinging and Howard flew to center to leave him stranded.

Werth started the second and hit a 1-1 pitch out to left, putting the Phils up 1-0. Ibanez hit a foul ball in the corner that Morse didn’t handle before Ibanez doubled off the wall in left. Ruiz grounded to third for the first out and Valdez grounded to second for the second with Ibanez taking third on Valdez’s out. Halladay grounded to short for the third out.

Polanco singled with one out in the second, but Utley hit into a double-play behind him.

The Phils went in order in the fourth.

Ruiz singled off the glove of the second baseman Epinosa to start the fifth, but Valdez hit into a double-play behind him. Halladay grounded to short for the third out.

That’s 20 GIDP on the year for Valdez.

Polanco walked with one out in the sixth and Utley was hit by a pitch behind him. Howard struck out for the second out, but Werth was next and lined a ball into the gap in right center that rolled all the way to the wall. Polanco and Utley both scored and the Phils were up 3-0. Ibanez was next and moved Werth to third on an infield single near the mound. Ruiz followed that and absolutely smashed a double to left, scoring Werth to make it 4-0 with Ibanez moving to third. Valdez was walked intentionally, loading the bases for Halladay. Halladay grounded to short to end the frame.

The Phils went in order in the seventh and again in the eighth.

Ruiz started the ninth with a double. Valdez was next and struck out swinging at a ball in the dirt that Ramos didn’t handle. Valdez took off for first and Ruiz for third, but Ramos pounced on the ball and threw Ruiz out at third for the first out with Valdez safe at first. Halladay was next and tried to bunt. The Nationals pitcher Joe Bisenius threw an 0-1 pitch at his head, but Halladay somehow managed to avoid being killed before striking out for the second out. Valdez stole second as Halladay struck out and took third before Victorino drew a walk. Polanco lined a single into center and Valdez scored, putting the Phils up 5-0 with two down and men on first and second. Utley hit a ball into left center. Morgan made a long run and a sliding effort, but the ball went off the heel of his glove for a double that cleared the bases and put the Phils up 7-0. Howard walked, putting men on first and second for Werth. Werth chopped a ball that dribbled down the first base line. Dunn fielded and swiped at Werth as he went past, but missed him and Werth was safe with a single and Utley scored all the way from second. 8-0 with men on first and second for Ibanez, who flew to center for the third out.

Great hustle by Utley to score from second on Werth’s hit. Great hustle by Werth to be safe on Werth’s hit. The inning was pretty much played in a downpour, so let’s hope Bisenius throwing the ball at Halladay’s head was because the ball slipped. Not a great day with the bat for Halladay, who was 0-for-4 and left five men on base.

Victorino was 0-for-4 with a walk in the game.

Polanco was 3-for-4 with a walk and an RBI.

Utley 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI.

Howard 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts.

Werth 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and four RBI.

Ibanez 2-for-5 with a double.

Ruiz 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI.

Valdez 0-for-3 with a walk.

The Phillies web site says that Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.80) will face righty Jason Marquis (2-9, 7.18) tonight and maybe he will. Oswalt is 7-1 with a 1.86 ERA with the Phils. Marquis has a 3.96 ERA over his last seven starts.

“All your base are belong to us” comes from an unfortunate translation in the video game Zero Wing.

Note: We still moving stuff around to get all of the old data moved. Some comments from yesterday were lost and some from today before noon. It might continue to be wiggy for the next few hours, but hopefully it’s okay after that.


Phils willing to go the extra mile so someone can celebrate something in Washington, DC

The Phils took the first game of their three-game set with the Mets, but lost the next two and will have to wait at least another day if they’re going to win the NL East. With the loss by the Padres yesterday, the Phillies are assured of at least winning the NL Wild Card.

Cole Hamels was ineffective for the first time since mid-August in yesterday’s game. He battled a tough strike zone, but the Mets were all over him as well. Hamels lasted just four innings, allowing five runs as Beltran and Wright both took him out of the yard. Utley hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to get the Phils back in the game, but Madson got tagged for a pair of runs in the ninth and the Phils lost 7-3.

The Phillies are 93-63 on the year after yesterday’s loss. They are in first place in the NL East with a six game lead over the Atlanta Braves and a magic number of one. The Padres are now the Wild Card leaders, a half game ahead of Atlanta.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went four innings, allowing five runs on nine hits and three walks. Four of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and two home runs. He struck out two. It was the first time he had allowed more than two runs in a start since August 19.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 first.

David Wright led off the second for the Mets and hit a 1-1 pitch out to left. 1-0. Joaquin Arias doubled to left with two outs and the Phillies walked Henry Blanco in the eight hole intentionally. It put men on first and second for the pitcher Pat Misch. Hamels struck him out swinging 2-2 to leave both men stranded.

Jose Reyes and Nick Evans singled back-to-back to start the third, putting men on first and second with no outs. With Carlos Beltran at the plate, Reyes was thrown out stealing third for the first out. Beltran moved Evans to second with a single, but Wright hit into a double-play to end the frame.

Hamels walked Angel Pagan to start the fourth. Ike Davis followed that with a single that moved Pagan to third. Arias was next and hit a dribbler down the third base line. Hamels got to the ball quickly and Pagan, presumably thinking he would be out at the plate, stopped between third and home. Pagan was tagged out after a rundown with Davis moving to third. With one out and men on first and third, Hamels walked Blanco and the bases were loaded. He struck out the pitcher Misch for the second out, but Reyes singled into center with everyone moving up a base and Davis scoring to extend the lead to 2-0. Evans followed that with a double into center. Arias and Blanco scored, but Victorino threw Reyes out at the plate to set New York down with a 4-0 lead.

Herndon started the fifth. Beltran led off and homered to left center. 5-0. Herndon got the next two before he walked Davis. Arias struck out to leave Davis at first.

Herndon was pitching for the second day in a row for the fourth time this season.

The lead was cut to 5-3 when Worley started the sixth. He walked pinch-hitter Chris Carter with one out, but got the next two hitters.

Worley hasn’t been charged with a run in three appearances as a reliever for the Phils this season.

Durbin pitched the seventh. Wright doubled with one out. Durbin struck Pagan out behind him for the second out and then walked the lefty Davis intentionally. Lefty Lucas Duda hit for Arias and popped to short to leave both men stranded.

Not a fan of the walk to Davis there. The Mets lose Arias, but wind up with a lefty against Durbin with two men on instead of a lefty against Durbin with one man on.

Durbin was pitching for the second straight day after allowing a run on two hits while getting two outs in Saturday’s game. He came into the game with a 7.27 ERA in September, having allowed seven runs in 8 2/3 innings.

Contreras got two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 eighth.

Contreras hasn’t been charged with a run in his last five appearances.

Madson started the ninth with the Phils down two. Evans singled and Beltran homered again. 7-3. Wright walked on five pitches and that was it for Madson. Baez took over and got a pair of strikeouts as he set down the next three hitters.

First time in 14 appearances that Madson was charged with a run.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Pat Misch went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Ibanez (7) Ruiz (8) Valdez.

Victorino was hit by a pitch to start the bottom of the first. He moved to second out a ground out by Polanco before Utley walked. Howard flew to left for the second out and Werth grounded to third to end the inning.

Down 1-0, the Phils went in order in the second.

Polanco singled to left with two outs in the third. Utley grounded to second to leave him stranded.

They were down 4-0 when they hit in the fourth. Werth and Ibanez singled back-to-back with one out. It put men on first and third for Ruiz, but Ruiz hit into a double-play to end the inning.

Valdez started the fifth with a single with the Phils down 5-0. Mayberry hit for Hamels and reached on an infield single that moved Valdez to second. Victorino flew to right for the first out, with Valdez tagging and taking third. Polanco struck out for the second out, but Utley hit a 3-1 pitch just out to right for a three-run homer that got the Phils back in the game at 5-3. Howard followed that with a double, but Werth struck out swinging to leave him there.

No RBI for Polanco with one out and a man on third.

Ibanez started the bottom of the sixth with a double and moved to third when Ruiz followed and grounded out. Valdez grounded back to the pitcher for the second out. With righty Manny Acosta on the mound for New York, Gload hit for Worley and flew to center for the third out.

Again no RBI for the Phils with less than two outs and a man on third. This time Valdez grounds to the pitcher.

Polanco walked with one out in the seventh, but Utley and Howard went down behind him.

Werth started the eighth with a walk. A ground out by Ibanez moved him to second before Ruiz flew to center. With righty Elmer Dessens on the mound for New York, Rollins hit for Valdez and grounded to first.

First at-bat for Rollins since September 8. He stayed in the game to play short in the ninth.

The Phils were down 7-3 when they hit in the ninth. Victorino singled to right with one out, but Polanco and Utley both flew to center and the game was over.

Victorino was 1-for-4. 3-for-11 with a double, a home run and a walk in the series. He’s hitting 262/330/436 for the year.

Polanco 1-for-4 with a walk. 3-for-12 with a walk and three singles in the series. 265/321/312 in 238 plate appearances since the start of August.

Utley 1-for-4 with a walk and a three-run homer. 3-for-11 with two walks and a home run in the series. He has at least one hit in eight games in a row and is at 279/391/454 for the season.

Howard 1-for-4 with a double. 3-for-11 with a walk, a double and a home run in the series. 278/353/515 on the year.

Werth 1-for-3 with a walk. 2-for-10 with two walks in the series. 292/385/518 on the year.

Ibanez 2-for-4 with a double. 3-for-12 with a double in the series. 273/350/442 for the year. 391/440/667 over his last 75 plate appearances.

Ruiz 0-for-4 and left four men on base. 1-for-11 in the set. 293/392/434 on the year.

Valdez 1-for-3. 3-for-8 with a double and a walk in the series. 259/302/361 for the year. 339/403/429 over 63 plate appearances in his last 16 games.

Roy Halladay (20-10, 2.53) faces lefty John Lannan (8-7, 4.58) tonight. Halladay has allowed at least three earned runs in each of his last six starts, pitching to a 4.32 ERA and a 1.27 ratio. After going 2-5 with a 5.76 ERA in the first half of the season, Lannan has gone 6-2 with a 3.16 ERA in his ten starts since the break.


The wizard of 0′s

The Phils came up with a 1-0 win last night, beating Atlanta to complete the three-game sweep and tighten their grip on the division.

The Braves didn’t come up with many big hits in the series and the Phillies did. The Braves didn’t catch or throw the ball very well and the Phillies did. The biggest difference between the teams, though, is that Atlanta started Tommy Hanson and two guys that may be really good someday while the Phillies started three guys that are great already. Atlanta’s starters in the series have combined for 24 career wins. The starting pitchers the Phillies sent to the mound have 378 career wins, 11 All-Star appearances, a Cy Young and have been the MVP of the NLCS and World Series.

Last night it was Oswalt who shined. He held the Braves to a double and a walk over seven shutout innings. The game was locked in a scoreless tie until Ibanez delivered a two-out RBI-double in the bottom of the eighth. Once again, Madson and Lidge held at the back of the bullpen. Since the start of August, that duo has combined to strike out 61 in 52 2/3 innings while throwing to an 0.68 ERA and an 0.82 ratio.

The Phils have three huge hits in the last two games and Ibanez has two of them. In each of the last two games he has delivered a double against a lefty that put the Phils ahead to stay. He has driven in all the runs the team has scored that didn’t come on Werth’s third inning homer off of Mike Minor.

The Phillies are 92-61 on the year after beating the Atlanta Braves 1-0 last night. The Phils sweep the three-game series and extend their lead in the division to six games. They have won ten in a row. The Braves are a half game ahead of the Giants for the Wild Card.

Oswalt got the start for the Phillies and allowed one hit, a double by Martin Prado in the fourth, over seven shutout innings. He walked one and struck out eight.

He got two ground outs and a line out in a 1-2-3 first.

He struck out Brian McCann and Derrek Lee as he set Atlanta down in order in the second.

He struck out Alex Gonzalez and Rick Ankiel in a 1-2-3 third.

He got the first two in the fourth before Prado doubled to the gap in right center. Oswalt got McCann on a ground ball to first to leave Prado at second.

He got three fly balls in a 1-2-3 fifth.

He struck out Ankiel and the pitcher Tommy Hanson as the Braves went in order in the sixth.

He walked Brian McCann on five pitches with two outs in the seventh. Lee struck out swinging 3-2 to leave McCann at first.

Madson threw a 1-2-3 eighth with the game still scoreless. He was pitching for the second straight day and threw 11 pitches in the game. He has made 31 appearances for the Phillies since the start of August and allowed two earned runs.

I don’t think there is any question that Madson has been overused. The Phils have clearly benefited from the way he has been used in the short term. The thing that’s left to see is if it’s going to cost them if they make the post-season.

Lidge started the ninth with a 1-0 lead. Lefty Freddie Freeman hit for the pitcher Jonny Venters and flew to right for the first out. Lidge got Omar Infante to fly to center for the second before he walked Jason Heyward on five pitches. Heyward stole second, putting the tying run in scoring position for Prado, but Prado flew to Werth in right to end the game.

Lidge was also throwing for the second straight day. He threw 19 pitches in the game. That’s 23 appearances for him since the start of August with an 0.83 ERA.

The Phillies lineup against righty Tommy Hanson went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Ibanez (7) Ruiz (8) Valdez. Nothing new there with Valdez playing short for the sidelined Rollins, Ruiz seventh and Victorino in the leadoff spot.

The Phils went in order in the first.

Werth walked with one out in the second. Ibanez flew to center for the second out. With Ruiz at the plate, Werth stole second and took third when McCann threw the ball into center field for an error. Ruiz flew softly to right field for the third out.

Second time in the series that McCann made an awful throw. This time it didn’t cost Atlanta like it did when Prado didn’t handle the throw on Utley’s steal in game one.

The Phils went in order in the third.

Hanson hit Utley with a pitch with one out in the fourth. Howard flew to left and Werth struck out to leave him stranded.

Ibanez grounded to second to start the fifth. Ruiz was next and hit a ball into the gap in left center. McLouth made a floundering slide of an effort and didn’t come up with the ball. Ruiz had a double. Valdez followed that with a walk and Oswalt bunted the runners to second and third with the second out. Victorino quickly got behind 0-2 and struck out looking 2-2 to leave both men stranded.

Big at-bat for Victorino after going 0-for-5 and leaving seven men on base the day before.

Utley singled to right with one out in the sixth and stole second as Howard struck out for the second out. Werth walked, putting two men on for Ibanez, but Ibanez grounded to second to end the inning.

Ruiz started the seventh with a single and Valdez bunted him to second. With the righty Peter Moylan on the mound for the Braves, Dobbs hit for Oswalt. Righty Craig Kimbrel took over for Moylan and struck Dobbs out looking 2-2 for the second out. With Victorino at the plate, Kimbrel delivered a pitch in the dirt that went through McCann’s legs. Ruiz took off for third, but the ball bounced off the backstop and right back to McCann. McCann threw to third and Ruiz would have been out, but Prado dropped the ball. Victorino went on to walk, putting men on first and third with two down for Polanco. Polanco got ahead 2-0 and lofted a high foul ball down the first base line. Infante made a long run and a sliding effort, catching the ball against the fence of the stands for the third out.

The Braves played miserable defense in the series, but that was a huge play by Infante at a huge time. The Braves need to do what they can to take McCann-throws-to-Prado out of their playbook.

Venters started the eighth and hit Utley with a pitch, but Howard hit into a double-play behind Utley. Werth drew a walk and it brought Ibanez to the plate. Ibanez lofted a 2-0 pitch down the left field line that landed (maybe) on the chalk in the corner. McLouth fielded it cleanly and quickly, but his throw was a lollipop over the head of his cutoff man Gonzalez. Prado had to take the throw and relayed home, but it was too late. Werth slid in ahead of the tag and the Phils were up 1-0. Ruiz was hit by a pitch before Valdez grounded to third to end the inning.

There’s that miserable defense from the Braves again. Ibanez again does it and again against a lefty. This double off of Venters last night after he ripped a double into the right field corner off of Mike Dunn to put the Phils ahead to stay in game two. Ibanez had also doubled off of the lefty Minor earlier in game two. He’s hitting 360/407/640 against lefties in September in 25 at-bats.

Second time in the game that Utley was hit by a pitch.

Victorino was 0-for-3 with a walk last night. 1-for-12 with a walk in the series. 262/328/432. He was due to slow down, it’s just a question of how much and for how long.

Polanco 0-for-4 in the game. 2-for-11 with two walks in the series. 293/337/388 for the year. No extra-base hits in his last seven games. He’s hitting 219/286/272 over his last 127 plate appearances.

The Phillies sweep the series despite having their one and two hitters combine to go 3-for-23 (.130) with three singles and three walks.

Utley was 1-for-2 and was twice hit by a pitch. 4-for-11 in the series with four singles. 279/392/452 on the year. 346/460/543 over his last 22 games and 100 plate appearances. 311/425/500 at home for the season and 245/354/399 on the road. He has better numbers at home than on the road for his career, but not that much better.

Howard was 0-for-4, struck out twice and hit into a double-play after Utley was hit by a pitch in the eighth. He didn’t draw a walk in the game for the first time since September 12. September 12 was a long time ago. He was 2-for-10 with a double and three walks in the series. 278/353/512 on the year. 228/343/456 over 134 plate appearances since returning from the DL. .228?

Werth 0-for-1 with three walks. 3-for-8 with a home run and five walks in the series. 293/386/524 for the year. 12-for-his-last-33 with five home runs and seven walks.

Ibanez 1-for-4 with a double. 3-for-12 with three doubles in the series. 274/352/445 for the season.

Ruiz 2-for-3 with a double. 3-for-10 with a walk and two doubles in the set. 299/400/444 for the year. Among the 22 NL players who have at least 200 plate appearances as a catcher, Ruiz has the best on-base percentage and third-best OPS.

Valdez was 0-for-2 with a walk. 2-for-8 with three walks in the series. He’s hitting 302/362/362 over his last 128 plate appearances.

The Phils are off today and play the Mets tomorrow night.

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Twenty, no questions

Do you spend a lot of time thinking about which of the three outstanding starting pitchers might get the call for the team in game one of a critical series? I don’t. If all three are healthy and on normal rest and the Phillies give the ball to anyone other than Roy Halladay, I will be stunned.

Last night, Halladay became the first right-handed pitcher to win twenty games for the Phillies since Robin Roberts did it in 1955. Halladay wasn’t great, but he went seven innings and held Atlanta to three runs. The Phils squandered a ton of opportunities and left an army on base, but they got two big swings in the game, the back of the bullpen held and they came out with a 5-3 win. Werth put them up 3-0 with a three-run shot in the third and Ibanez delivered a two-out, two-run double into the right field corner in the sixth. Halladay, Madson and Lidge did the rest.

The Phillies are 91-61 on the season after beating the Atlanta Braves 5-3 last night. They have won nine in a row and lead the NL East by five games. The second-place Braves are a game ahead of the Padres for the Wild Card.

Halladay got the start for the Phils and went seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and a home run. He struck out three. It’s his sixth start in a row in which he has allowed three earned runs or more. Over those starts he’s thrown to a 4.32 ERA and allowed ten home runs in 41 2/3 innings. Opponents have hit .294 against him

He threw a 1-2-3 first.

Derrek Lee singled to right with one out in the second, but Halladay struck Nate McLouth out swinging for the second out and got Alex Gonzalez to ground to short.

Rick Ankiel started the third with a single, but the pitcher Mike Minor hit into a double-play behind him with Valdez taking the feed from Utley and 360-ing before throwing to first. Omar Infante lined an 0-2 pitch into right for a single before Jason Heyward flew to right for the third out.

The Phils were up 3-0 when Halladay started the fourth. Martin Prado led off with a walk, but Halladay got the next three batters to keep Atlanta off the board.

Gonzalez lofted a ball near the right field foul line that Werth couldn’t reach to start the fifth. The ball got away from Werth and Utley had to track it down and Gonzalez had a double. Ankiel was next and he moved Gonzalez to third with a single to right. Lefty Eric Hinkse hit for the pitcher and he hit a ground ball near second. Utley fielded and flipped with the glove hand to second for the first out as Ankiel slid hard into Valdez. Valdez’s throw to first hit Ankiel in the left hand, so the Phils only got one out. Gonzalez scored on the play to cut the lead to 3-1 and Infante came to the plate with one out and Hinske on first. Halladay got Infante to fly to right for the second out and struck Heyward out looking to end the frame.

The Phils thought Ankiel went too far out of the base path to slide into Valdez. Looked okay to me.

Prado led off the sixth with a single and came around to score when Brian McCann followed with a double to center. 3-2. Lee hit a fly ball to center for the first out. McCann tried to tag and go to third, but Victorino made a nice throw that beat him easily for the second out. McLouth grounded to Halladay for the third out.

Halladay started the seventh up 5-2. He got the first two before lefty Freddie Freeman hit for the pitcher Peter Moylan. Freeman absolutely crushed the first pitch he saw from Halladay out to right center, cutting the lead to 5-3. Halladay struck Infante out to end the frame.

I think chances are good you’ll be seeing that Freeman guy again at some point. That’s career home run number one, but there are a lot more coming.

Madson pitched the eighth. Heyward walked to start the inning, but Madson struck out Prado and got McCann to hit into a double-play to end the inning.

Madson hasn’t been charged with a run in 10 2/3 innings over his last 11 appearances. Since July 29 he has thrown 31 innings with an 0.58 ERA and an 0.87 ratio and 41 strikeouts. Going back to April 24 he has a 1.49 ERA and has allowed one home run to the 170 batters he has faced.

Lidge pitched the ninth and allowed a leadoff single to Lee. It brought McLouth to the plate as the tying run. Lidge struck out McLouth and got Gonzalez on a fly ball to center. Ankiel popped to short to end the game.

Lidge has an 0.87 ERA and an 0.73 ratio since the start of August. In 20 2/3 innings he has struck out 22. He was throwing for the second day in a row and threw 17 pitches in the game. Madson threw 12 on two days rest.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Mike Minor went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Ibanez (7) Ruiz (8) Valdez. That’s the same lineup they used in game one of the series.

Utley and Howard singled back-to-back with two outs in the first, putting men on first and second for Werth. Werth popped to third to leave both men stranded.

Valdez and Halladay singled back-to-back with two outs in the second, putting men on first and second. Valdez stole third before Victorino grounded to short for the third out.

Polanco led off the third with a walk and moved to second when Utley followed with a single to right. Howard flew to right for the first out before Werth blasted a 2-1 pitch out to left center, putting the Phils up 3-0. Ibanez followed with a double and the righty Christhian Martinez walked Ruiz intentionally. Valdez hit a ball to third that Prado didn’t handle, loading the bases with one down. Halladay struck out on three pitches and Victorino struck out swinging 1-2 to leave the runners stranded.

Second error in two games for Prado after he failed to handle the ball at second base on Utley’s steal in game one.

Polanco started the fourth with a single. Utley and Howard went down behind him before Werth moved him to second with a walk. Ibanez grounded to second for the third out.

It was 3-1 when the Phils hit in the fifth. Ruiz flew to center for the first out before Valdez hit a ball that the pitcher Kyle Farnsworth fielded. Farnsworth’s throw was bad, though, and Valdez was safe on an error for the second time in two at-bats. Halladay struck out and Victorino grounded to second to end the inning.

Howard walked with two outs in the sixth and the lead cut to 3-2. He moved to third when Werth singled off the wall in left. Ibanez hit a 2-2 pitch into the right field corner and both runners scored, putting the Phils up 5-2. Ruiz grounded to second to leave Ruiz stranded.

Huge two out hit for Ibanez. Howard continues to walk and walk.

Valdez singled to start the seventh with the lead cut to 5-3. With righty Craig Kimbrel on the mound for the Braves, Gload hit for Halladay. Valdez took second on a passed ball before Gload struck out swinging for the first out. Victorino was next and lined a ball to second. Valdez was caught off base and doubled-up to end the inning.

Polanco singled to start the eighth. Utley and Howard struck out behind him before Werth grounded to second.

Victorino was 0-for-5 and left seven men on base. He’s 1-for-13 without a walk in his last three games. Rut roh.

Polanco 2-for-4 with a walk. 4-for-his-last-11 with two walks. He is slugging .331 over his last 264 plate appearances with 13 extra-base hits (12 doubles and a triple).

Utley 2-for-5 with two strikeouts.

Howard 1-for-4 with a walk. He has at least one walk in eight straight games. In four of those games he walked more than once and on-based .541.

Werth was 2-for-4 with a walk and a three-run homer. Over his last eight games he’s 12-for-36 with five home runs and four walks. Get it? The thing where Howard always walks before Werth homers is good for everyone. You get more points that way.

Ibanez 2-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI. His two-out double in the sixth was huge. 434/492/755 over his last 59 plate appearances has raised his line on the year from 256/337/409 at the end of the first game of the September 1 double-header to 274/352/444. He hit 213/267/350 against lefties in the first half of the season and has hit 264/319/443 against them so far in the second. In September he’s 8-for-24 against them with three doubles and a home run (333/385/583).

Ruiz 0-for-3 with a walk. 359/479/590 over his last 12 games.

Valdez 2-for-4 with a nifty little twirly thing in the third and a less nifty throw-it-off-of-Rick-Ankiel’s-arm-and-into-the-dugout thing in the fifth. 348/400/485 over his last 50 plate appearances.

Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.90) faces righty Tommy Hanson (10-11, 3.62) tonight. The Phillies have won nine games that Oswalt has started in a row. In those outings he’s gone 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA and opponents have hit .187 against him. Hanson has made two starts against the Phils this season, but both came early in the year. On April 20 he allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings and on May 31 he allowed a run on three hits over 6 2/3.

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