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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