won their third straight last night, beating the Rockies 10-8 in
Colorado to improve to 4-6 on the season.
got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings. He
allowed four runs, three of them earned, on 11 hits and two
walks. He got the win and his record stands at 1-0 with a
2.77 ERA after two starts.
after seven with the Phillies seemingly in charge, up 10-4.
Julio Santana pitched the eighth and got the Rockies without a
whimper. Santana started the ninth and hit the first
batter, walked the next and then allowed a single and a double
before being removed for Arthur Rhodes. Rhodes
struck out Brad Hawpe, the only batter he faced.
Closer Tom Gordon then entered the game, looking for his third
straight save. Holliday was on second, his three-run
double had made it 10-7, and there was one out.
Luis Gonzalez to ground out and walked pinch hitter Jason Smith.
Holliday went to third on the ground out, so it was first and
third with two outs. Miguel Ojeda was the pinch hitter and
he singled to left but Smith was thrown out at third by
Victorino in left, violating the baseball maxim stating you
should never lose the game for your team trying to go to third
when it's absolutely meaningless whether you're on third or
were seeing the ball well against Rockies pitching.
Sun-Woo Kim had his best outing of the year. He come on in
the third to relieve rocked Rockies starter Zach Day and went 3
1/3 innings, allowing five earned runs to lower his ERA to
was 3-for-5 with two home runs and five RBI. In the last
two days he is 5-for-9 with four home runs and nine RBI.
Since moving to the fifth spot in the batting order he's gone
5-for-18 (.277) after a slow start.
3-for-4 with a home run, a walk and a hit by pitch. The
walk was Rowand's first while hitting in the two hole in the
lineup, which he's done for most of the season. For the
season, including games where he's out of the two-hole, he's
walked as many times as he's been hit by pitches (2).
Lieberthal was 3-for-3 with a double. Ryan Madson was
3-for-3 on the day and got his first Major League hit.
went 0-for-6, striking out twice and leaving five men on base.
Since his first inning home run off of Kyle Davis yesterday he's
gone 1-for-10. His average sits at .341.
#1 and #2 hitters went 3-for-10 with a walk and a hit by pitch.
For the season they're 27-for-81 (.333) with three walks, two
hit by pitch and one sac fly (.368 OBP).
The Mets won
for the seventh straight game, beating the Brewers 4-3.
They are 8-1 and lead the Phillies by 4 1/2 games. Braves
beat the Padres 5-4 and are in second place, a half game up on
the Phillies at 5-6. The Fish beat the Nats.
The Phils visit
Colorado tonight as they kick off a three game series with the
Rockies. The Rockies are in first place in the NL West with a
6-3 record and coming off of a three-game set with Arizona in
which Colorado took two of three. They have won five of
their last six.
The Rockies come into the series fifth in the league in scoring,
having put up 57 runs in their nine games and are batting .298.
The Phillies have scored 38 runs in their nine games and are
hitting .260. After opening at home against Arizona and going
1-2, the Rockies went to San Diego where they banged out 32 runs
in three games in spacious Petco Park while sweeping the
Padres. They then went to Arizona and won two of three.
Last year the Rockies finished at 67-95 and in last place in the
NL West. They were fifth in the National League in scoring
despite having no player hit more than 20 home runs.
Their '05 offense was led by first baseman Todd Helton and left
fielder Matt Holliday. Both are back this year. Helton has
posted a 379/581/690 line in the early going and has walked 13
times in 29 at-bats. Holliday is 9-for-34 (.265) in the early
going with no walks.
Right fielder Brad Hawpe is hitting .382 with four home runs so
far this season. Center fielder Cory Sullivan is also back from
last year and hitting .350 so far. The infield features several
of the same faces from last year, Garrett Atkins back at third
and Clint Barmes at short, both coming off of lackluster seasons
in '05. The other Luis Gonzalez was expected to play a lot at
second base this year but has missed some time early in the
season with a wrist problem. Former Tiger Jason Smith has
gotten a lot of playing time early in the year and is hitting
.450 with three home runs in 20 at-bats. Smith will be 29 in
June and entered the season a career .234 hitter.
Rockies have allowed 43 runs, eighth best in the league.
Phillies have allowed 51, eleventh best.
The Colorado rotation features Jason Jennings, Aaron Cook, Jeff
Francis, Zach Day and Josh Fogg. Byung-Hyun Kim is also in the
mix but is out so far this season with a hamstrung problem.
He remains on the DL.
Righty Zach Day goes tonight against Madson. Day is coming off
of an awful year in '05 when he went 1-3 in 18 games with a 6.85
ERA. He pitched well in his one start of the season so far --
on Saturday he got the win against the Padres. He went seven
innings and allowed three runs on four hits and four walks.
Lieber faces Jason Jennings tomorrow night. Jennings is 1-0
with a 2.77 ERA after two starts this season. He will be 28 in
July and has pitched his entire career in Colorado, posting a
49-43 mark and a 5.02 ERA. Jennings season was cut short in
July of last year when he broke a finger. He started on opening
day for the Rockies and held the Snakes to just one run in seven
innings in Colorado but got no decision.
Brett Myers gets righty Aaron Cook on Sunday afternoon. Cook
was a top-prospect for the Rockies but has had major health
problems, the most serious of which involved life-threatening
blood clots in his lungs and sidelined him for much of last
year. He's 1-1 in two starts so far this year and has a career
mark of 20-14 in 52 starts with a 4.80 ERA.
The Rockies pen features lefty closer Brian Fuentes who saved 31
games for Colorado last season, posting a 2.91 ERA and striking
out 91 in 74 1/3 innings. He's joined by righties Jose Mesa,
Dave Cortes and Sun-Woo Kim and lefties Tom Martin and Ray
King. Righty Mike DeJean is on the DL with a shoulder strain.
Mesa and Cortes have combined to throw 8 1/3 scoreless innings
in the early going. Martin and King have been solid. Sun-Woo
Kim has a 32.40 ERA in two appearances after allowing five runs
to the Diamondbacks in 1/3 of an inning last Thursday.
You just got
lesson number one: don't think; it can only hurt the ball club.
Here's a sure sign your starting rotation isn't making you feel
all warm and fuzzy yet: When your team scores five runs in the
top of the first before making an out your only reaction is,
"Well, it's gonna come down to the bullpen."
The Phillies came out swinging last night and before you could
say "man-Kyle-Davies-sure-is-throwing-the-ball-straight" they
were up 5-0 and still hadn't made an out. About two and half
hours later Phillies fans were on the edge of their seats as Tom
Gordon took the hill in a 7-6 game trying to nail down his
second save in as many days. He did. The Phillies won to
improve their season mark to 3-6.
Gavin Floyd got the ball for the Phillies coming off a horrid
first start. We've all read a ton about Floyd and how good he
can be. Tonight was the fifteenth game he appeared in as a
Philly, but, for the first time, I'm ready to believe.
His numbers are certainly wretched and weren't fabulous last
night either. He went six innings and allowed three earned runs
on five hits and two walks. He's 1-1 for the season with a 6.23
ERA and has a career ERA is 6.57. He's walked 38 and allowed 66
hits in just 63 innings in The Show. He had a 6.16 ERA in 23
starts in Triple-A last year.
He has these moments, though. Last night he struck out the
first Braves batter, Marcus Giles, on three pitches. Edgar
Renteria hit the dirt on a curve ball that missed spinning into
the strike zone by a whisker.
Part of the problem I have is I've had Floyd and Cole Hamels in
the same compartment in my mind so long it's hard to get even
their personalities separated. But Floyd's not the same
personality as Hamels, not the guy who broke his hand in a bar
fight. So far, at least, he doesn't look fearless. There's a
great quote from Floyd on the team web site today, "I don't
think about thinking" he said. I don't believe him.
Floyd left in the sixth with the Phillies up 6-3. Fultz pitched
a perfect seventh as the Phillies extended their lead to 7-3.
Ryan Franklin entered in the eighth and things got interesting
in a hurry.
Renteria crushed the ball to left, but defensive replacement
Shane Victorino, in for Burrell in a double switch, recorded the
out. Langerhaus tripled. Andruw Jones grounded out and
Langerhaus scored to make it 7-4. LaRoche walked. Francoeur
homered and it was 7-6. I could hardly believe they were
leaving Franklin in to pitch to the lefty McCann, but they did.
I assume both Cormier and Rhodes were available -- both appeared
Wednesday but threw less than ten pitches. The Phillies went
with Franklin and it worked, he struck McCann out to end the
inning. The Braves got the tying and winning runs on base in
the bottom of the ninth, but Gordon held on for the save and the
Ryan Langerhaus was 2-for-3 with a double, a triple and two
walks for the Braves. His line sits at 414/500/793 after 29
at-bats. Atlanta's Jeff Francoeur and our own Chase Utley both
sprang to life on the same night after starting the season in a
funk. Francoeur was 3-for-4 with two home runs.
Chase Utley, again hitting fifth with Burrell in the cleanup
spot, led the Phillies offense. He went 2-for-4 with two home
runs, both off of Davies, and four RBI. Bell went 2-for-4.
Burrell 2-for-4. Abreu homered and walked in four at-bats.
Sal Fasano got the start at catcher and he is definitely
bringing something to the team. When plays there's no hiding
two things: he wants to win a lot and he's having fun. I'm
sure at least one of those things is true about every member of
the Phillies squad -- they all want to win. But watching them
over the past few years, if they're all having fun out there it
doesn't always come across. He started at catcher the other
game Floyd started as well, and if he's going to do some
Zen/Crash Davis-thing that takes Gavin Floyd from where he is
now to where the Phillies want him to be we can eat 0-for-4 with
a strikeout and five men left on base. At least a few times.
In games we win. In April.
The problem with Fasano is that he's not going to hit or field
or throw very well. In a one run game, Betemit led off the
ninth for the Braves and struck out but the ball got away from
Fasano. Gordon was charged with a wild pitch but it looked like
Fasano should have made the play. Gordon eventually pitched out
of it, but that would have been a good time to have gotten an
The Phillies had another bad defensive play early in the game
that did cost them. In the first inning, with Renteria on first
and one out, Langerhaus hit a ball to Howard that should have
been at least one out but went for a double and eventually led
to an early run for the Braves.
Phillies in the #1 and #2 spots in the order went 3-for-10 with
no walks. For the season they are 24-for-71 (.338) with two
walks, one hit by pitch and one sac fly (.360 on-base
Phillies start a three game series with the Rockies tonight as
Ryan Madson takes the mound against Zach Day.
The Phillies won their second game of the season last night,
beating the Atlanta Braves 7-5. The win improves their record
to 2-6 on the year and shoots them into third place in the NL
East, four and a half games behind the first place Mets.
Cory Lidle got the start and the win for the Phillies. He went
six innings and allowed three earned runs on ten hits. He did
not allow a walk and struck out seven. He did an especially
nice job in the third inning. With the Phillies up 4-1, Lidle
struck out Braves pitcher Jorge Sosa to start the inning.
Marcus Giles singled and Renteria hit a ball to Utley that
should have been at least one out. The Phillies got none and
Renteria was given a hit as Giles went to third. Lidle managed
to pitch out of it, getting Langerhaus to strike out and Andruw
Jones to pop out to third to end the inning.
Lidle left up 4-3 after six and the Phillies extended their lead
to 7-3 with two runs in the seventh. Franklin pitched a
scoreless seventh, lowering his ERA to 1.50. Geary started the
eighth but went just 1/3 of an inning, allowing two hits and
eventually being charged with two earned runs. Cormier, Rhodes
and Gordon finished out the eighth and ninth allowing just one
hit between them -- a Wilson Betemit double off Cormier that
scored the two runners Geary had allowed. Gordon pitched a
perfect ninth to earn his first save as a Philly.
There were two big hits on the night. The first was a two out
double by Mike Lieberthal in the second that scored two runs,
which was a big hit at a big moment for a team that's been
struggling with runners in scoring position. Lieberthal ended
the day just 1-for-4 but hit the ball hard in two other at-bats,
lining out to center and third before popping up in his
fourth and final at-bat. He also threw out his first base
runner of season, catching Renteria as he tried to steal second
in the first inning (he's now thrown out 1-of-5).
The other big hit came from Aaron Rowand in the seventh. With
the Phillies ahead 4-3, with one out and Rollins on second, Rowand hit his first home run as a Philly to put the Phillies up
Howard went 2-for-4. Abreu 0-for-4. Utley 0-for-3 with a walk
as his early season average dropped to .200. Both Abreu and
Utley went 0-fer the first game as well and are hitless in the
first two games of the series.
Utley was dropped to fifth in the lineup against righty Jorge
Sosa. Burrell hit cleanup and was 1-for-4 with his team-leading
third home run.
David Bell went 1-for-4 with a single and his average sits at
.190. In the second inning he came up with runners on first and
third and one out and popped out to first.
Wilson Betemit is killing the Phillies and Jeff Francoeur is
killing the Braves. Betemit, hitting out of the eighth spot in
the order and playing for the injured Chipper Jones, went
3-for-4 with three doubles and two RBI last night and is 5-for-8
in the series so far. The Phillies aren't having that much luck
with pitchers early in the season, but I would start to think
about pitching around him if he stays in the eight hole.
Francoeur went 1-for-4 last night with two strikeouts. It was
just his third hit of the season and his average sits at .081.
He's also looked bad in right field, making an error in the
first game of the series and allowing Lieberthal's double to skip by him last night as well (he was not charged with an
error). I am a little surprised to see Betemit consistently
hitting eighth and that seems like one to watch over the next
few weeks for the Braves. If Francoeur continues to flail they
may need to take him out of the lineup or at least drop him
down. I also expect we'll see Renteria batting lower than
second before the end of the season.
Phillies #1 and #2 hitters were 3-for-10 with no walks last
night. For the year they are 21-for-61 (.344) with two walks,
one hit by pitch and a sac fly (.361 on-base percentage).
Rowand has just one walk on the season, which came on opening
day when he was not batting second.
The Fish lost to the Padres 7-2 as Chris Young held them to one
hit through six innings. Pedro shut down the Nats as the Mets
Gavin Floyd and Kyle Davies tonight. Floyd is coming off of a
worrisome first start in which he allowed six hits and four
walks in 2 2/3 innings on Friday against the Dodgers. Hopefully
he'll settle down and the ESPN presence won't compound the
problems he's had in recent non-spring training starts as the
Phillies try to win their first series of the season.
the playoffs and a Chia Pet in every home
The Mets have jumped out to a 5-1 record and an early lead in
the NL East. They've done a great job of starting strong and
beating up on what look to be the two teams in the division that
will struggle all year -- the schedule-makers had them playing
their first nine games against the Nats and the Marlins.
In the NL East in 2006, beating up on the Nats and the Marlins
is the key to the universe one might find in the
engine of an old parked car. The Marlins payroll is down 73%
from last year to $15 million, which is $20 million less than
the next lowest team in baseball and about $30 million less than
what you'd spend if not-being-absolutely-abysmal were on your
to-do list. The next lowest payroll in the National League is
the Rockies, who are spending about $41 million on payroll this
season. The Rockies sit atop the NL West at 5-2, but I expect
an informal poll of Rockies players would yield results
indicating they believe their chances to make the playoffs are
about the same as us seeing a widespread resurgence of the Chia
Pet. Cleveland, on the other hand, has a legitimate shot to go
far this season with a payroll around $56 million.
The Nationals are much better, throwing out a lineup on a daily
basis that includes Jose Vidro, Nick Johnson, Jose Guillen,
Alfonso Soriano and Ryan Zimmerman. The bad news for the Nats
is it also includes Royce Clayton, and, with a regularity that
forces traffic to the team web site in droves to see which of
the team's starters is out for six to eight weeks with a broken
whatever, Brandon Watson. After on-basing .250 in 40 at-bats
last season, Watson has opened 2006 going 4-for-24 (.174) with a
.208 on-base percentage. There's certainly something to be said
for a great defensive player with speed, but while he's young
and struggling with an OBP in the .200's and you're thinking of
playing him every day it better be: "Jones crushes the ball to
deep left center . . . Watson is back . . . He climbs the wall
. . . He's over the wall! He catches the ball in the fourth
row! Smith is tagging from third and here's the throw from
Watson . . . Watson's throw is perfect! It knocks Schneider
over, but he manages to recover in time to tag Smith out by two
steps. Wow! That Watson really can play some defense! That's
his 23rd assist on the season and his fourth from outside the
playing area. If only he could hit."
The Nationals rotation starts out nicely with Livan Hernandez
and John Patterson but things get out of hand after that pretty
quickly. Pedro Astacio is on the DL, leaving Ramon Ortiz, Tony
Armas, Jr, and Ryan Drese at the back end. Ortiz is coming off
of a 9-11 year where he posted a 5.36 ERA while Drese went 7-12
with a 5.78 ERA in '06.
So far the Phillies are a half game behind both teams. Florida
is 1-5 while the Nationals are 2-6.
The Mets, on the other hand, have gotten the job done and sit at
5-1 and 4 1/2 games ahead of the Phils. Surprise addition to
the rotation Brian Bannister has allowed just five hits in 13
innings in his two starts. Glavine had two nice starts and
Steve Trachsel is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA. Five of their regulars
are hitting over .300 (Wright, Reyes, Nady, LoDuca and
Delgado). As a team they're hitting .314, which leads the NL.
David Wright is tied for second in the league with ten RBI.
Our heros, meanwhile, are muddled in the dog days of April. But
sooner or later they're going to hit. And pitch. And field.
And throw people out trying to steal (actually, they may never
throw people out stealing in bunches). And stop doing that
thing where Rowand tries to bunt Rollins to third in the early
innings after Jimmy rips a double to start the frame. For now,
though, they're looking up at both the Nats and the Fish as well
as the teams that make the most of their chances against them.
I Don't Know
Whether To Kill Myself Or Go Bowling (Thom Sharpe)
The Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves last night as their
record fell to 1-6. They've dropped a full game below the
Marlins in the standings and four games behind the first place
Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies. He went five
innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and a walk. He
struck out six. Myers looked great until there were two outs --
six of the seven hits he allowed, and the walk and all three
runs, came with two outs. Here's a little trip down memory
lane, if you can bear it:
First inning: Two outs, nobody on, walked Langerhaus before
getting an Andruw Jones ground out to end the inning.
Second inning: Braves down 1-2-3.
Third inning: Two outs, runner on first. Renteria singles,
Langerhaus singles. Andruw Jones ground out.
Fourth inning: Two outs, nobody on. McCann singles, Betemit
singles, Thomson hits a double. Giles grounds out (2 runs).
Fifth inning: Two outs, nobody on. Andruw Jones home run.
Laroche strikeout (1 run).
Thomson's double in the fourth and Giles solo homer in the
seventh were the big blows of the game. Thomson entered the
season as a .191 hitter with a .212 slugging percentage in 288
The pen, which has been good so far, let the Phillies down a
bit. Rheal Cormier pitched the sixth and did not allow a run.
Ryan Franklin allowed a solo home run to Marcus Giles in the
seventh to put the Braves ahead 4-3 and Rhodes allowed another
run in the eighth to extend the Atlanta lead to 5-3.
Marcus Giles estimates he is playing at about 70% with his quad
injury. Chipper Jones is headed to the DL.
As a team, the Phillies are on-basing .312 so far this season,
which puts them at fifteenth among NL teams ahead of just the
Padres. The big culprits there have been Chase Utley, who has
started the season cold going 6-for-27 (.222) with just one walk
and Bell who has walked twice but gone just 3-for-17. Nunez is
3-for-13 (.231) without a walk.
Their hitters in the #1 and #2 slot went 6-for-9 yesterday with
a walk. Jimmy Rollins looks absolutely locked in -- he had a
double, two singles and a walk and is hitting .393 and on-basing
.419. Rowand also had three hits to push his early season
average to .304. The #1 and #2 hitters combined in the Phillies
lineup are 18-for-51 (.353) with a .382 on-base percentage.
Rollins's 15 total bases leads the Phillies but is just good
enough for tied for 22nd in the National League, which is a good
sign the Phillies have been going rather meekly thus far. The
Braves, for example, have played one more game than the Phillies
but have four players with more than 15 total bases, Renteria
(20), Andruw Jones (20), Langerhaus (18) and Laroche (17).
Chris Shelton leads all of baseball with 37. As a team, the
Phillies have 95 total bases in seven games while the Braves
have 145 in eight.
Apparently the plan is to bunt with Rollins on second and Rowand
up with no outs. They tried it again last night after Rollins
led off the third inning with a double. Rowand popped the bunt
up. I don't like this play even when it works. Not clear
whether this is Rowand's plan or Manuel's plan but hopefully
whoever the man-with-the-plan is talks to the
Lieberthal had a tough day, going 0-for-3 and leaving four men
on base. He struck out in the second with runners on first and
second and grounded out to the pitcher in the second with two
The Phillies are idle today, which will make it unnecessary for
them to break into Turner Field and turn on the sprinkler system
in the hopes of a rain out.
Lidle faces Jorge Sosa on Wednesday. Sosa was bombed in his
only start of the season -- last Thursday he went 2 1/3 innings
against the Giants and allowed six earned runs on seven hits and
three walks. Lidle also started last Thursday, the day the
Rollins hit streak ended, and cruised through four innings
before allowing four runs in the Cardinals Bell-error-aided
wishes he was someone just a little more able to put his full
weight on his leg
The Phillies roll into Atlanta tonight, hoping a change of
scenery is just what the doctor ordered.
baseman Chipper Jones suffered an awful-looking injury yesterday
afternoon in the eighth inning of the Braves loss to the San
Francisco Giants. Both the right knee and ankle were
twisted and the injury to the ankle is thought to be more serious than the
injury to the knee.
Chipper won't play tonight and looks unlikely for Wednesday's game as well.
Marcus Giles also may not play tonight after leaving yesterday's
game with a sore right quad. The series has an off-day
tomorrow, which may help him out if he can't go tonight.
Giles is on-basing .515 early this season, he's 6-for-22 (.273)
with 11 walks.
The injuries to Chipper and Marcus Giles make it more likely
we'll be seeing some of backup infielders Wilson Betemit and
Pete Orr this series.
The Braves come into their home opener at 3-4, in second place
behind the Mets in the NL East. They are coming off of a
four-game series with the Giants in which they dropped three of
Jeff Francoeur is off to a slow start, just 2-for-29 (.069) with
two singles. New shortstop Edgar Renteria is hitting well,
12-for-31 (.387) with four doubles and a home run. I wrote
about the acquisition of Renteria and the loss of Furcal in a
March 22 post called "Brave New World" that you can read
The Braves, who
have played seven games to the Phillies six, have scored 53
runs, which leads the NL. The Phillies have scored 21,
which ties them for fourteenth with the lowly Marlins.
Atlanta has been having a rough time with their pitching.
Closer Chris Reitsma is struggling again -- the Braves entered
the ninth inning yesterday with a 5-4 lead over the Giants but
San Francisco tied it on a Lance Niekro solo home run and won it
6-5 on Randy Winn's single. Reitsma took the loss and the blown
save to drop to 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA.
The pitching staff overall has struggled early, allowing 74 hits
and 35 walks in just 59 1/3 innings. As a team their ERA
is 7.58, which is last in the NL so far this season.
Reliever Chuck James has allowed just one hit in six innings.
Righties Kenny Ray and Oscar Villareal have also been good out
of the pen in the early going.
Tonight's starter, righty John Thomson, was pushed into the
starting rotation due to an injury to Horacio Ramirez. Ramirez
is on the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring. Thompson is
32 and entered the season with a career ERA of 4.69 and a 60-77
record. Thomson may be a little better than his numbers
indicate as he's pitched more than half of his career in either
Colorado or Texas. His best year was 2004 with the Braves -- he
went 14-8 with a 3.72 ERA. He was scratched
from a scheduled start on March 28 with elbow tenderness and
there was speculation he may start the season on the DL. He has
also been the subject of numerous trade rumors, but a trade may
be less likely with the injury to Ramirez.
Thomson starts tonight against Brett Myers. Lidle against Jorge
Sosa on Wednesday night and Gavin Floyd and Kyle Davies on
Thursday. Then the Phillies go to Colorado.
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