I’m really hoping the Phils sign a prince or two, cause if we can’t work our way up to Royal Flush soon I’m worried that the poker headlines might start to get unbearable. It doesn’t have to be a prince. I’d take like Keyser Söze or a Gurkhan or something.
The Phillies got some rather outstanding starting pitching as they swept their opening series with the Astros. Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt combined to go 19 innings in the three games, throwing to a 2.84 ERA and an 0.79 ratio while striking out 23 times as many batters as they walked. That’s not going to come as a huge surprise to many fans. What is a surprise is that the offense arrived cranking out runs. They Phils put 21 on the board in the series and delivered hit after hit with runners in scoring position.
Yesterday they got a solid start from Oswalt and a monster day from Howard as they topped the Astros 7-3 to improve to 3-0 on the year.
Oswalt started the game for the Phils and went six innings, allowing two runs on five hits and a walk. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and a home run. He struck out six.
Michael Bourn led off the game and grounded to Polanco at second for the first out. Angel Sanchez flew to right for the second before Hunter Pence singled into left. Carlos Lee fouled out to Howard at first to leave Pence at first.
He was up 4-0 when he started the second. He struck Bill Hall and Brett Wallace out back-to-back to start the inning. Chris Johnson was next and doubled to left, but Oswalt struck Humberto Quintero out swinging to leave Johnson at second.
He set the Astros down in order in the third, getting pitcher Bud Norris on a ball hit back to the mound, Bourn trying to bunt for a hit and Sanchez on a ground ball to short. Rollins made a nice play to end the frame on a ball hit up the middle by Sanchez, fielding on the grass in shallow center, spinning around and making a strong throw to nail Sanchez.
He was up 5-0 when he started the fourth. Pence led off and hit a 3-1 pitch out to right. 5-1. Oswalt hit Lee with his next pitch and it brought Hall to the plate with nobody out and a man on first. Hall drove a pitch to deep right that Francisco took as he crashed up against the wall, but Francisco held on for the first out. Oswalt struck the lefty Wallace out again for the second out and then got Johnson on a ground ball to third to end the frame.
Quintero flew to left to start the fifth and lefty Joe Inglett hit for the pitcher Bud Norris with the Astros still down four runs. Oswalt struck Inglett out swinging 1-2 for the second, but walked Bourn on a 3-2 pitch to put a man on for Sanchez. Sanchez grounded to second for the third out.
Oswalt’s walk to Bourn was the only walk given up by the starters for the Phillies in the series. In 19 innings, they struck out 23.
Pence singled into center to start the sixth. Lee was next and hit a ground ball to short, with Pence forced at second for the first out and Lee safe at first. Hall was next and he doubled into left, moving Lee to third. Wallace followed and hit a ground ball to first that moved both runners up a base. Lee scored and the lead was cut to 5-2. Oswalt struck Johnson out swinging 0-2 to leave Hall at third.
The Phillies hit for Oswalt in the bottom of the sixth and Herndon started the seventh with a 7-2 lead, coming off of a rough outing on opening day in which he was charged with a pair of runs and gave up a big triple to Bourn. He threw a 1-2-3 seventh, getting Quintero on a fly ball to center for the first out, pinch-hitter Jason Bourgeois on a ground ball to second for the second and Bourn on a fly ball to center for the third.
Herndon came back for the eighth. He allowed a two-out single to Lee, but got Hall to ground to short behind him for the third out.
Kendrick started the ninth with the Phils still up by five. He walked the lefty Wallace to start the inning and Johnson moved Wallace to third with a single. Quintero was next and Kendrick got him to ground into a double-play with Wallace scoring to make it 7-3. Jason Michaels flew to right to end the game.
Walking the leadoff man with a five-run lead isn’t the way to do. Lefties hit 312/367/535 against Kendrick in 2011, which is the kind of thing that makes it tough to be a starting pitcher. In his defense, it’s pretty hard for anyone who you have Halladay, Oswalt, Lee and Hamels on your team.
Herndon threw 29 pitches in the game and Kendrick 17. They should both be available against the Mets with the off-day today.
Not a great start to the year for the pen. They went eight innings in the three games, throwing to a 4.50 ERA and a 1.50 ratio.
The Phillies lineup against righty Bud Norris went (1) Martinez (2) Polanco (3) Rollins (4) Howard (5) Ibanez (6) Francisco (7) Ruiz (8) Valdez. Martinez starts in center with Victorino sidelined after hurting his calf while colliding with Francisco in game two of the series. Hitting Martinez, who has a career on-base percentage of .315 in the minors and was making the first start of his career, in the leadoff spot is rather awful. Manuel did it so as not to disturb the rest of the order. Francisco moves back to sixth in the order after hitting fifth to break up lefties Howard and Ibanez against lefty Wandy Rodriguez in game two of the series.
Martinez struck out to start the bottom of the first, but Polanco drew a walk and Rollins moved him to second with a single to right. It brought Howard to the plate and Howard blasted a 3-0 pitch out to center, putting the Phils up 3-0. Ibanez struck out swinging for the second out before Francisco hit an 0-2 pitch out to left. 4-0. Ruiz grounded out to the pitcher for the third out.
Howard crushed his call for his first home run of the year. Great to see Francisco hit one out on an 0-2 pitch. Almost equally glad to see Polanco draw a walk.
The Phils went in order in the second.
Polanco started the third and lined a double to center. Rollins followed him with another single that sent Polanco to third. Howard was next and again crushed a 3-0 pitch, but this one went off the top of the wall in right for a double. Polanco scored to make it 5-0 with Rollins moving to third. Ibanez was next and grounded to first for the first out. Francisco struck out swinging 2-2 for the second out and Ruiz struck out swinging 3-2 to leave the runners stranded at second and third.
Again Howard hammers a 3-0 pitch. Again Polanco and Rollins both get on base. That’s it for the good in that inning, though. Not sure how Rollins didn’t score from first on the ball that Howard smashed off the top of the wall. After that the Phils can’t score again with nobody out and men on second and third. Ibanez at least hit the ball on the right side, but Francisco can’t put the ball in play with one out and a man on third.
The lead was cut to 5-1 when the Phils went in order in the fourth.
Howard singled with two outs in the fifth, but Ibanez grounded out behind him.
It was 5-2 when the Phils hit in the sixth. Francisco led off with a single to left and moved to second when Ruiz followed with a walk. Valdez bunted the runners to second and third with the first out and Victorino hit for Oswalt with righty Aneury Rodriguez pitching for the Astros. Houston brought in righty Enerio Del Rosario to pitch for Victorino and Victorino hit his first pitch into right for a single that scored Francisco (6-2) and moved Ruiz to third. Martinez was next and he hit an 0-1 pitch under the glove of Johnson and down the left field line. Ruiz scored to make it 7-2 and Victorino moved to second. Polanco followed with a ground out that moved Victorino to third before Rollins walked to load the bases for Howard with two outs. Howard lined to second on an 0-1 pitch to leave the bases loaded.
Manuel hardly ever bunts with a position player. Nice to see Rollins draw a walk, especially when it gives Howard a chance to hit with the bases loaded.
Francisco singled with one out in the seventh. Ruiz flew to right for the second out before Valdez moved Francisco up to second with a single into right. Victorino, who had stayed in the game to play center, was next and grounded to first to leave both men stranded.
With righty Jeff Fulchino on the mound for Houston, Gload hit for Herndon to start the eighth and grounded to short. Polanco followed and doubled again, this time to left. Rollins walked and again there were two men aboard for Howard. Howard hit a ball that dropped in left, but Polanco was forced at third base and the Phils had men on first and second for Ibanez. Ibanez walked to load the bases, but Francisco struck out to leave them loaded.
Martinez was 1-for-4 with an RBI in the game and in the series. Victorino 1-for-2 with an RBI in the game and 2-for-8 with a walk and three RBI in the series.
Polanco was 2-for-4 with two doubles yesterday and 5-for-12 with two doubles and two walks in the series. He leads the team with five runs scored.
Rollins 2-for-3 with two walks in the game and 6-for-12 with six singles in the series.
Howard had a monster game, going 3-for-5 with a double, a home run and four RBI. 7-for-13 in the series.
Ibanez was 0-for-4 with a walk in the game and 2-for-11 with a double and three walks in the series.
Francisco 3-for-5 with a homer yesterday. 6-for-13 with a walk, a double and home run in the set.
Ruiz 0-for-3 with a walk in the game and 2-for-10 with a walk and a double so far.
Valdez 1-for-3 yesterday and 4-for-11 with a double on the season.
The Phillies went 15-for-36 with runners in scoring position in the set.
No game today. Cole Hamels faces righty Chris Young tomorrow when the Phils face the Mets. One thing to remember about Chris Young is that you can run on him. Really, really a lot. Like more than you can imagine. Between 2006 and 2007, opponents stole 85 bases off of him and were caught four times. You can look it up.
The Start Log for 2011 is ready to go. It has been modified to track bullpen performance based on the starting pitcher. You can access it by clicking on the START LOG link in the upper right-hand corner of the page.