Everybody knew coming into the season that the Phils were going to win with dominating starting pitching. And they have. They’ve gotten some outstanding performances from their rotation so far. There’s been a tweak to the formula, though, and it’s an alarming one. The way the Phils are winning over their last handful of games requires them not only to excel at preventing runs, but for the other team not to catch the ball. The Phils have gone 4-2 over their last six games but scored just 20 runs. Scoring 3.33 runs per game isn’t the formula for long-term success, but it’s even worse than that. Thanks to seven errors by their opponents, six of the 20 runs the Phils have plated have been unearned.
Yesterday the trend continued. With the game locked at 2-2, Ryan Howard led off the bottom of the eighth with a fly ball lofted to left that eluded Florida’s Logan Morrison for the second Fish error of the game. Howard came around to score on a sac fly and the Phils got out with a 3-2 win.
With the win the Phils and Marlins split the series at a game apiece. Saturday’s game was postponed due to weather and will be played as part of a double-header on June 15.
The Phils lost the opener of the series 4-3. Oswalt pitched very well and the Phils got three early runs, but the Fish plated a run it the top of the sixth to cut the Phillie lead to 3-2. Oswalt came out to start the seventh, but had to leave the game with a back problem that started when pitching in the fifth and may have been made worse running to first after bunting in the sixth. Romero and Baez combined to be terrible in the seventh after he left, getting one out and allowing two runs on three hits and a walk as Florida pulled ahead 4-3. The Marlins bullpen, on the other hand, was fantastic. They allowed a hit and a walk over four scoreless innings and the Marlins held on to win by a run. Ibanez had a big game with the bat, going 2-for-4 and driving in two of the three runs for the Phils. They game was also notable because Ross Gload started in right against righty Javier Vazquez without major incident, making a nice play on a foul ball up against the wall.
Hamels was very good for the second straight start yesterday. The Phils gave him a 2-0 lead in the first thanks to a home run by Polanco, some nifty base-running by Rollins and a couple of hits from Francisco and Ibanez. Florida tied things up at 2-2 with a pair of runs in the top of the sixth on a double, two singles and a sac fly. Howard started the eighth with a fly ball lofted to left that a sliding Morrison couldn’t handle. He moved to second on a single by Francisco, to third on a ground out by Ibanez and came home on a sac fly by Ruiz to give the Phils a 3-2 lead. Contreras held on for a shaky save in the ninth.
The Phillies have scored three runs in three of the last four games they have won. Their numbers overall still look great for the year for runs scored — they’re averaging about 5.43 runs scored per game. They scored 56 runs in their first eight games of the season (7.0 runs per game) and 3.33 per game over their last six.
The Phillies are 10-4 on the season after beating the Florida Marlins 3-2 yesterday.
Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and two walks. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both doubles. He struck out seven and dropped his ERA for the year to 4.32.
He struck Chris Coghlan out swinging 1-2 for the first out of the game. Omar Infante was next and grounded to first on the first pitch of his at-bat. That brought Hanley Ramirez to the plate and Hamels walked him on a 3-1 pitch that was outside, bringing Mike Stanton to the plate with two outs and a man on first. Stanton struck out swinging 1-2 to leave Ramirez stranded.
Hamels started the second up 2-0 and struck Gaby Sanchez out swinging 3-2 for the first out. Logan Morrison followed and lined a single into right, but Hamels struck John Buck out looking 0-2 for the second out. Wes Helms hit a dribbler out in front of the plate and Ruiz threw him out at first for the third out.
Pitcher Anibal Sanchez started the third for Florida and struck out looking 1-2. Coghlan struck out swinging 3-2 for the second out. Infante bunted a ball that Howard took for the third out.
Ramirez started the fourth with a double to left. Stanton flew to left for the first out and Sanchez grounded to short with Ramirez holding second for the second. Morrison drew a walk, putting runners on first and second for Buck. Ramirez took third on a wild pitch and Morrison stole second before Hamels got Buck on a ground ball to third to leave them both stranded.
Helms led off the fifth and hit a ball to left off the glove of Ibanez for an error. The pitcher Sanchez bunted, but Ruiz hopped on it and threw Helms out at second for the first out and Coghlan grounded into a double-play behind him.
Huge defensive play for Ruiz. Throwing the runner out at second keeps the double-play in order.
Infante doubled to left to start the sixth and moved to third on a ground out by Ramirez. Stanton followed with a single into left that scored Infante and cut the Phillie lead to 2-1. Stanton moved to third on a single by Sanchez, putting men on the corners with one out for Morrison. Morrison delivered a fly ball to right deep enough for Stanton to tag and score, tying the game at 2-2. Buck grounded to short for the third out.
Hamels struck out Helms to start the seventh and switch-hitter Emilio Bonifacio hit for the pitcher Sanchez. Bonifacio bunted for a single, stole second and moved to third on an infield single by Coghlan. It put men on first and third for Infante, but Hamels got him to hit into a double-play to turn Florida away, with Polanco going to Valdez to Howard.
Madson pitched the eighth. He got Ramirez on a fly ball to left and struck out Stanton looking before Sanchez lined a ball into left that fell in front of Ibanez. Madson struck Morrison out swinging 1-2.
Contreras started the ninth with a 3-2 lead and walked Buck on a 3-1 pitch that was outside. Scott Cousins ran for Buck at first and Helms bunted him to second with the first out. Lefty Greg Dobbs hit for the pitcher Ryan Webb and grounded to short for the second out with Cousins moving to third. Contreras walked Coghlan on five pitches, bringing Infante to the plate with men on first and third. Infante hammered an 0-1 pitch down the third base line but just foul before grounding a 3-2 pitch that was probably ball foul to third to end the game.
Madson looked very good. Contreras didn’t. Contreras threw 22 pitches in the game, Madson 16. The pen is well-rested after Saturday’s rain (as well as the complete games from Halladay and Lee last week).
The Phillies lineup against righty Anibal Sanchez went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Rollins (4) Howard (5) Francisco (6) Ibanez (7) Ruiz (8) Valdez. The Phils return to their normal lineup after starting Gload and Orr against the righty Vazquez in game one.
Victorino led off the bottom of the first chopped a ground ball to short that Ramirez handled for the first out. Polanco was next and hit a 1-0 pitch to right center that got a ton of help from the wind and went out to put the Phils up 1-0. Rollins followed with a walk on a 3-2 pitch. He went on a delayed steal as Howard took strike two to run the count to 2-2. With the extreme shift on for Howard, the third baseman Helms was covering second and had the throw from Buck go off the end of his glove, allowing Rollins to take third. Howard walked, putting men on first and third for Francisco with one down and Francisco popped to Ramirez in shallow left with both runners holding. Ibanez picked him up, though, singling up the middle on the first pitch of his at-bat. Rollins scored to make it 2-0 with Howard moving to second. Ruiz struck out swinging 2-2 to leave both men stranded.
Another big hit in the series for Ibanez. Francisco can’t bring the runner home with one out and a man on third. Rollins would have been safe on the throw that went off of Helms’s glove even if it had been handled cleanly.
Valdez started the second and drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Hamels tried to bunt, go behind 0-2, then swung away 2-2 and hit into a double-play to clear the bases for Victorino. Victorino grounded back to the mound for the third out.
Don’t mind Hamels swinging away once it got to 2-2, but it would have been better if he’d gotten the bunt down instead of getting behind 0-2.
Howard and Francisco singled back-to-back with two outs in the third. Ibanez struck out swinging 1-2 to leave the runners stranded at first and second.
Valdez and Hamels both struck out as the Phils went in order in the fourth.
Victorino started the fifth with a single, but was picked off of first for the first out before Polanco singled to right. Rollins and Howard both struck out to leave Polanco at first.
Francisco walked to start the sixth with the game tied at 2-2. Ibanez was next and grounded to second with Francisco forced at second for the first out. Ruiz and Valdez both struck out to leave Ibanez at first.
Third straight inning for the Phils where they had two strikeouts in a row to end the inning with at least one man on base. In five of six innings to this point, the last out of the inning for the Phils came when they struck out.
Hamels was due to lead off the seventh, having thrown 101 pitches in the game. With righty Ryan Webb on the mound for the Marlins, Gload hit for Hamels and grounded to short for the first out. Victorino grounded short for the second out before Polanco singled up the middle. Rollins grounded to second to end the inning.
Howard started the eighth and lofted a fly ball to left towards the foul line. Morrison made a long run, then a sliding effort, and had the ball go off of his glove for an error. Francisco was next and chopped a ball on the left side of the infield that got through between short and third for a single that moved Howard up to second. Ibanez hit a ball on the ground to third, but not very hard. Helms fielded and threw to second to forced Francisco for the first out, but Ibanez was safe at first and Howard moved to third. Ruiz hit a ball into center deep enough for Howard to tag and score without a play at the plate, putting the Phils up 3-2. Valdez grounded to second for the third out.
Lot of good fortune for the Phils there, but they’ll take it. Morrison should have made the play on the ball hit by Howard. Francisco’s hit had eyes, chopped through the left side of the infield. Ibanez’s ball was just not hit quite hard enough to be a double-play, although it was nice hustle by Ibanez to run through first and make sure that didn’t happen.
Victorino was 1-for-4 in the game and 1-for-7 with two walks in the two-game set. 327/373/491 on the year. He’s 3-for-his-last-19.
Polanco is a monster. 3-for-4 with a home run yesterday, which was the only extra-base hit for the Phillies in the game. 4-for-9 in the series. 9-for-his-last-21 and hitting 373/413/492 on the year.
Rollins 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored yesterday. 1-for-7 with a walk and a double in the series. 298/355/368 so far. He’s 3-for-his-last-15.
Howard 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. 1-for-6 with a walk and three strikeouts in the series. 288/344/538. 3-for-his-last-27. Six strikeouts in his last 16 at-bats.
Francisco was 2-for-3 with a walk yesterday and 2-for-4 with a walk in the series. Gload started the first game of the series in right. Francisco is hitting 275/351/431 for the year.
Ibanez 1-for-4 with an RBI and five men left on base. 3-for-8 with three RBI in the series, raising his line on the year to 236/300/327. He doesn’t have a walk or an extra-base hit in 24 at-bats over his last six games.
Ruiz was 0-for-3 with a game-winning sac fly and two strikeouts. 1-for-7 with a double and three strikeouts in the series. 318/367/523.
Valdez was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. Orr started at first in the first game of the set. Valdez is at 325/372/400 for the year.
Joe Blanton (0-1, 10.45) faces righty Shawn Marcum (2-1, 2.55) tonight when the Phils play the Brewers. Marcum has made three starts on the year. He didn’t fare well his first time out, allowing four runs in 4 2/3 innings to the Reds, but has allowed just two runs in 13 innings over his last two starts. Blanton has made two starts on the year and both of them have been awful. Opponents are hitting .378 against him so far. The Phils could have skipped him with the rainout on Saturday, but chose not to, which I think is the right decision.