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The sun came out today!  We're born again, there's new grass, and a team with a combined payroll around what we pay Bobbby Abreu, on the field
April 23 2006

The Phillies got two home runs from Ryan Howard and an nice performance from the only pitcher in their starting rotation with an ERA under five today.  It was enough to beat the Marlins, 4-2.  The win improves them to 7-10 on the season.

Brett Myers took the hill for the Phillies and pitched well.  He went six innings and gave up two earned runs on six hits and three walks.  He earned the win, improving his mark for the season to 2-0 with a 3.04 ERA.

Myers did a nice job working through a first inning jam after struggling with what looked to be a postage stamp-sized strike zone.   After a leadoff double to Hanley Ramirez, Myers got the next two but then walked Willingham and Jacobs back-to-back.  Myers, who has looked like someone who's been his own worst enemy in situations like this in the past, got through it with the help of a nicely timed visit to the mound from pitching coach Rich Dubee, getting Cepiky to ground out for the final out of the inning. 

Myers started the seventh and allowed a leadoff single to pinch hitter Alfredo Almezaga.   He was removed for Ryan Franklin who set the Fish down 1-2-3 with a stolen base by Almezaga mixed in.  It was the third straight outing for Franklin without allowing a run as he lowered his ERA to 3.27.  He's allowed seven hits and four walks in 11 innings for the season.  I'll be interested to watch what develops with Madson's slot in the rotation if he has a couple more bad outings -- Manuel has been very clear Floyd is in the rotation to stay even if he gets shelled, but I don't remember the same kind of speech about Madson. 

Rhodes pitched the eighth, striking out two and allowing just one hit, a freak double that blooped down the first base line, to Chris Aguila.  In the eighth, with two outs and Aguila on second, the Phillies left Rhodes in to pitch to Miguel Olivo who had already homered and doubled on the day, knocking in both Marlins runs.  This drives me nuts -- I wish they would have brought in Gordon an out early or even Geary or Santana.  They didn't.  Their way worked as Rhodes struck out Olivo.  It befuddles me how they believe in righty-lefty matchups enough to intentionally walk Royce Clayton but not enough to bring in another pitcher mid-inning or Gordon an out earler.

Flash Gordon came in and shut down the Marlins in the ninth, striking out the side.  Gordon has excelled in the early going, striking out 13 in 7 2/3 while recording five saves.  His ERA is 1.17.

Phillies fielded a wacky lineup against the righty Mitre. Dellucci started in left and hit second. Rowand batted sixth.  Nunez started at third and hit seventh. For his career, lefties have hit .342 against Mitre while he has held righties to .255. Manuel's lineup started off with five batters in a row who would be hitting lefty (Rollins, Dellucci, Abreu, Utley, Howard).  This left Victorino the only lefty on the bench to pinch hit against a Marlins team without a lefty in the pen, but it didn't turn out to be a factor.

Sadly, the master plan didn't survive contact with first base umpire Dan Iassogna. With two outs in the first and Rollins on third, Utley smoked a ball up the middle.  Fish shortstop Ramirez made a great play and Utley was called out at first.  Replays seemed to show Utley was safe on the play.  Utley and Charlie Manuel were both ejected, Nunez moved to second and Bell came in to play third.

Ryan Howard was awesome for the Phillies, hitting two home runs and driving in three of the four Phillies runs.  He hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second that he absolutely crushed -- it was measured at 496 feet.  He added a two-run homer in the third and finished the day 2-for-2 with two walks.  He's 6-for-his-last-13 with three home runs, a double and four walks.

David Bell, who did not start but entered the game when Utley was ejected, had a huge hit as well.  In the third, with two outs and Rollins on third, he singled to make the score 2-0.  He also kept the inning alive for Howard who hit a two-run shot, his second of the day.  Bell was 1-for-3 on the day.

Rollins was back at short after a day off on Friday.  He went 1-for-3 with a walk.  On April 13 Rollins homered in his first at bat against the Braves in the game the Phillies lit up Kyle Davies.  He followed up that homer with a 5-for-32 skid, so here's hoping the day off signaled the end of the mini-slump.

Abreu 0-for-3.  Dellucci 0-for-3.  Lieberthal 0-for-3 today and 0-for-his-last-8.

The Phillies stole four bases (Rollins 2, Abreu, Rowand) without getting caught.

Phillies batters in the #1 and #2 slots went 1-for-6 with two walks.  For the season they are 43-139 (.309) with nine walks, two hit by pitch and a sac fly (.358 OBP).

Yesterday's game between the Marlins and the Phillies was cancelled due to rain.  It will be made up on July 30.

The Nationals and Braves were also rained out, leaving the Mets as the NL East team in action on Saturday.  Pedro struck out 11 Padres in seven innings and the Mets won 8-1. Martinez allowed just two hits and two walks as he improved to 4-0 with a 3.04 ERA.

The Philies started Sunday at in fourth place in the NL East at 6-10, 5 1/2 games behind the Mets who are the only team at or above .500 in the division.

Fish foil Phils
April 22 2006

The Phillies lost to the Florida Marlins last night, 4-3, falling to 6-10 on the season.  They are 2-8 at home and 1-3 against the Marlins and Nationals. 

Jon Lieber got the start and retired the first 13 Marlins without allowing a baserunner.  He allowed two earned runs in the fifth and another two in the sixth.  He held the Marlins to six hits and struck out eight without walking a batter.  He falls to 0-4 with a 7.99 ERA.

Ryan Franklin pitched the eighth and ninth, holding Florida scoreless and allowing just one walk.  In the ninth he picked pinch runner Eric Reed off first.  Reed was looking like a good bet to try and steal a base in a one-run game.

Alex Gonzalez started at shortstop for the Phillies against lefty Scott Olsen.  Rowand slid up to the leadoff spot.  Bell hit sixth against the lefty for the second straight game with Howard batting seventh.  Fasano caught and hit eighth.

Rowand had two singles in five at-bats and stole a base.  In the third inning, he led off with a single and was thrown out trying to steal second with a 2-0 count.  Gonzalez went on to walk on four pitches and the Phillies came up empty in the frame. 

Down 4-0 in the seventh, the Phillies scored two on a Bell (2-for-4) single, a Howard double (2-for-4), a Fasano groundout (2-for-3) and an error by Miguel Cabrera on Aaron Rowand's dribbler.

The Phillies scored their other run the next inning, making the score 4-3, on a Chase Utley groundout after Abreu led off the inning with a double.  Utley was 0-for-4 on the day as his average fell to .242.

Burrell went 0-for-4 and left four men on base. 

Fasano hurt the Phillies defensively in his last start -- he was charged with an error when he was unable to come up with a foul ball.  Last night, with one out and Cabrera on first and Uggla on third and Willingham up, Willingham struck out for the second out.  Cabrera stole and Fasano threw to second.  The throw was nowhere close and Uggla stole home on the play.

Phillies hitters in the #1 and #2 spots in the order were 3-for-8 with a walk.  For the season, they are 42-132 (.318) with seven walks, two hit by pitch and a sac fly (.359 OBP).

Elsewhere, the Padres beat the Mets 2-1 in fourteen innings.  The Nationals got three home runs from Soriano and beat the Braves 7-3.  The Phillies fall to fourth place in the NL East, behind the 7-10 Nationals.

Brett Myers faces Sergio Mitre tonight.  Jason Vargas, not Brian Moehler, apparently will start on Sunday.  The lefty Vargas is 1-1 in three starts with a 7.20.  He started on Tuesday against the Reds but went just four innings, allowing five earned runs on seven hits, including three home runs, and five walks.

You know that saying that you learn more from defeats than victories? Then we're going to become Einsteins. We're going to be rocket scientists. We're going to find a cure for cancer. (John Boles, Manager, Florida Marlins, 1999-2001)
April 21 2006
































































The Florida Marlins come into town tonight sporting a 4-10 record.  Amazingly, they haven't really under performed in the early going, they're just that bad. 

The Phillies have been pretty bad theirownselves.  They enter the series 6-9 with a team OBP of .324, which is the lowest in the NL.  David Bell in on-basing .255, Utley .323 and Rollins .338.  The guys on the bench aren't getting on base either -- Nunez, Fasano, Dellucci, Gonzalez and Victorino have combined for 68 at-bats and Shane Victorino is leading the group with a .273 OBP.

Phillies pitchers, not to be outdone, have allowed opponents to hit .315 against them, which is the worst in all of baseball (ie, including the DH-loving American League).  Phillies are coming off a three game series in which they allowed 26 runs to the Nationals, the team that scored the fewest runs in the NL last year.  By comparison, the Nats scored 12 runs in their three game series against the Marlins before coming to Philadelphia and six in their three games against the Mets in their series before that.  Opponents are batting .400 against Geary, .365 against Lieber, .348 against Madson, .333 against Lidle and Fultz.  Just four of 12 Phillies pitchers are holding opponents below a .279 average.

For the Marlins, Mike Jacobs gets most of the playing time at first, Dan Uggla at second, Miguel Cabrera at third and Hanley Ramirez at short.

Jacobs is off to a slow start, hitting just .188 and on-basing .291.  Uggla struggled early but is up to 280/357/500 and has hit three home runs.  Hanley Ramirez (367/424/633) and Cabrera (346/443/635) are crushing the ball early.  Cabrera is likely to put up great numbers all season but Ramirez seems sure to cool off, hopefully this weekend.

Miguel Olivo will do most of the catching.  I expect we'll mostly see Josh Willingham, who can catch, stay in left with Matt Treanor as Olivo's backup.  Olivo is slugging .553, having hit two home runs and five doubles in his first 38 at-bats but hitting .263 and on-basing just .282.

Willingham will likely see most of the time in left.  He's got a big bat and is at 327/379/635 with three homers and seven doubles in his first 52 at-bats.  After Willingham, the outfield is a mess.  Jeremy Hermida is on the DL with a hip flexor, which means that Reggie Abercrombie, Eric Reed and Chris Aguila should do most of the work manning the other two spots.  Abercrombie leads the trio with a .558 OPS so far this season.  Matt Cepicky was called up from Triple-A early this week and has gone 2-for-5 so far.  Infielder Wes Helms is on the team -- if I were the Marlins I would be tempted to give him a try out in right with Hermida out.

Scott Olsen starts for the Marlins in tonight's game, facing Jon Lieber.  Olsen has had just one start this season, going 5 1/3 innings against the Nationals on Saturday.  He allowed two runs, just one of them earned, but gave up four hits and walked six.  He had four starts for the Marlins in '05, going 1-1 with a 3.98 ERA, but allowed five home runs in just 20 1/3 innings.  Lieber has had bad outings in two of his three starts this year.

Sergio Mitre and Brett Myers look likely to go tomorrow.  Mitre is 1-1 with a 4.08 ERA after three starts.  He pitched great his first start of the year, April 4 against the Astros, holding them to three hits and a walk while shutting them out for six innings.   He's been less effective in his last two starts.  Still just 25, the righty was with the Cubs from '03-'05, throwing 120 1/3 innings in those seasons combined with a 6.12 ERA.  Myers is coming off the best of his three starts, 7 2/3 scoreless innings in Colorado on Sunday as the Phillies won 1-0.

Sunday afternoon it's Brian Moehler and Cory Lidle.  The righty Moehler has been shelled early this season -- he is 0-3 with an ERA of 13.14.  In his three starts he has yet to pitch six innings or allow fewer than five earned runs.  He's given up five home runs in 12 1/3 innings.  Lidle is 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA.  He's allowed 25 hits in just 18 innings.  He has been striking out some hitters (17) and not giving up many walks, just one so far this year.

The Marlins pen does not include a lefty, which may make for some interesting matchups against Abreu, Utley and Howard.  Joe Borowski and Matt Herges share the closing duties and are backed up by Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco, Randy Messanger (called up from Triple-A last week), Todd Wellemeyer (who the Fish got from the Cubs in late March) and Franklyn German (claimed off of waivers from Detroit earlier this month).

Herges and Borowski have combined for one save so far.  Borowski has a 7.20 ERA and opponents are hitting .370 against Herges.  Josh Johnson has a 1.04 ERA and has held opponents to a .170 batting average, but has allowed eight walks in 8 2/3 innings.  Messenger and German have yet to allow a run in very limited action.  Ricky Nolasco has pitched to a 4.50 ERA in six innings -- speculation abounds that Nolasco or Josh Johnson may join the rotation if Moehler continues to struggle.

For the Phillies, yesterday's game was ugly.  But they've still gone 5-3 in their last eight and have a real opportunity to put up some wins against this Marlins team.  Hopefully they take advantage. 

In any case, the series should afford Phillies fans who catch the action on television an estimated 65 opportunities to view the McDonald's ad featuring the woman and her boss/best friend talking about flirting with John.  I would like to take a moment to make a direct appeal to our captors, I hope they're out there listening:  What are your terms?  Who do we surrender to?  If we all promise to go to McDonald's twice a day would you make it stop?  I think I speak for all of us when I say we are familiar with your product at this point.  Some of us even thought your ad was cute the first time we saw it.  Sadly, that was ten days and 240 viewings ago.  Sara, I need to provide you with some free market research for a minute -- your ad leaves me just two choices at this point, change the channel or flee the room in horror. 

Nick Johnson hits-it-on-the-Rooftop-Thursday
April 21 2006

It was enough to make you want to puke into your Jimmy Rollins knit beanie. 

The Phillies wasted the third best start of Ryan Madson's career last night, falling to the Washington Nationals 10-4.  The Phils starter got absolutely bombed and was charged with nine earned runs in just one inning. It was Madson's fourth career start, third and worst of 2006 after two solid outings to begin the season.  In June, 2004, he started against the White Sox and allowed six runs, including three home runs, without getting out of the first inning.

Madson left down 7-0 in the second with runners on first and second with nobody out.  Aaron Fultz came in allowed a walk to load the bases, a sac fly and an RBI ground out before getting out of the inning.  Fultz went two more innings, holding the Nationals scoreless in the third and fourth.  Fultz has thrown four innings and 78 pitches in the last two days without having a run charged against him, which has dropped his ERA from 6.23 to 4.26, but has allowed all four of the runners he inherited to score.

Geoff Geary followed Madson, going three innings and holding the Nationals to just one run on Nick Johnson's second monstrous homer of the night, which came in the fifth and extended the Washington lead to 10-4.  Johnson was 7-for-13 with two homers and two doubles for the series.  Geary pitched better than in recent appearances, but still allowed at least one earned run for his fourth consecutive appearance. 

Cormier pitched the eighth and Santana the ninth, each keeping the Nats scoreless.  It was Santana's second straight good appearance after getting lit up in Colorado for four runs in an inning on Friday.  Cormier kept his ERA at 0.00 in six appearances and has allowed just four hits in 4 2/3 innings without giving up a walk.

It looks like Fultz (56 pitches) and Geary (38) will be unavailable for tonight's game.

Offensively, the big story of the day was the lineup, which featured Ryan Howard hitting seventh against lefty slopball specialist Billy Traber.   Bell, who demolished left-handed pitching last year, hit sixth.   Last night they combined to go 0-for-7 with a walk.  Bell entered last night 1-for-4 against lefties this year with a home run, while Howard had gone 3-for-9 against southpaws.  Phillies face another lefty tonight when Scott Olsen takes the hill for the Marlins. 

Burrell had an opposite field double in the bottom of the first that scored two runs before the game got completely out of hand.  He was 1-for-3 with a walk on the day.  Burrell has six homers in the early going, five of which have come off of righties.  This may be a good sign given that last year he killed lefties but wasn't nearly as good against right-handed pitchers.

Rollins and Rowand combined to go 0-for-8.  Jimmy's average dropped to .292 and he's 2-for-his-last-17.

Lieberthal 0-for-4.  Abreu was 0-for-3 with a walk.

Phillies batters in the #1 and #2 spot were 0-for-8 with a walk combined.  For the season they are 39-for-124 (.315) with six walks, two hit by pitch and one sac fly (.348 OBP).

The Phillies fall to 6-9.   The Mets got a six-run eighth and beat the Padres 7-2.  They lead the NL East with an 11-4 record.  The Braves had an off day and stay in second place at 8-8.  The Nationals improve to 6-10 with the win, 1/2 game behind the Phils.  The Marlins come into town tonight at 4-10.

Lieber, who has allowed less then seven earned runs in just one of his three starts this season, gets the start tonight for the Phils.  He will be facing 22-year old Scott Olsen.

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