The Braves arrive in
Philadelphia tonight for the first game of a two-game series. The teams are
tied for second place in the NL East and last faced each other in a
three-game series April 10-13, which the Phillies won two games to one.
The Braves are sure to be some kind of shock to the Phillies collective system. The Phillies are coming off of a stretch where they played seven of their last 11 against the Pirates and Marlins. The Pirates are horrid and the Marlins look like they are going to have to be content with having won the World Series more in the past ten years than all of the other teams in the National League combined.
Offensively the Phillies and Braves have remarkably similar numbers for the year. The Phillies have scored one more run than the Braves in the same number of games. The bad news is that the Braves have had several injury problems already, most notably to Chipper Jones and Edgar Renteria, while the Phillies have been healthy. Chipper Jones was noticeable absent the first time the teams met. No such luck this time.
The pitching is a different story. The Phillies have allowed opponents .297 against them, the worst in the league. The 274 hits they have surrendered is also the worst in the league. The primary culprits here are starting pitchers that shouldn't appear in the Atlanta series, opponents are hitting .373 against Madson, .331 against Lieber and .314 against Floyd. All Philadelphia eyes remain on Triple-A phenom Cole Hamels, who improved to 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA yesterday, throwing a complete game two-hit shutout while striking out 12. I still think we're a ways away from seeing Hamels in Philadelphia. He also threw 114 pitches yesterday -- if you ever find yourself in a situation where someone is asking you how many pitches your 22-year old stud pitcher should throw in a May Triple-A game, "less than 114" is a solid answer.
Chipper (255/364/426), Andruw Jones (278/357/588) and Marcus Giles (230/343/345) continue to be the big bats in the Braves lineup, but the numbers on Giles and Chipper are not especially impressive in the early going. Giles has just seven extra base hits and just one home run. His average dipped into the .190's at the end of April. Andruw Jones has eight home runs and is tied for seventh in the NL with Pat Burrell and others. Andruw Jones is also tied for fourth with 25 RBI. Chipper has just four extra base hits after missing much of April with a twisted ankle and knee.
Renteria is also back in the lineup, sporting a 17-game hitting streak. He is batting .375. Francoeur (.210) and Laroche (.200) are still scuffling. Langerhans has solid numbers (289/365/461) but does not have an extra-base hit in his last 28 at-bats. McCann is at 324/359/521 and may be considered one of the best offensive catchers in baseball by the end of the season.
The pen is largely the same. Closer Chris Reitsma isn't instilling much fear in opponents, who are batting .326 against him. The team did activate 23 year old lefty Macay McBride from the DL on Sunday who may wind up with a significant role in the pen. McBride pitched 14 innings for the Braves in 2005, striking out 22.
Tonight's game features a fabulous matchup between Brett Myers (2-1, 3.23) and righty John Smoltz (1-2, 4.09). Smoltz last pitched on Friday, striking out 10 Mets in seven innings but taking the loss. He allowed three earned runs on eight hits and four walks. Myers had to be frustrated with the Phillies 3-1 loss at Pittsburgh on Friday. He gave up three runs on nine hits in seven innings but took his first loss of the year. He has given the Phillies at least five innings in every start and is yet to allow more than three runs.
The Phillies get another righty tomorrow night as Cory Lidle (2-3, 4.40) will face John Thomson (0-1, 1.32). Thomson pitched well on Saturday against the Mets and ended up taking the loss in a 1-0 game despite allowing just one earned run on three hits, including a solo homer to Paul LoDuca in the sixth that proved to be the game winner. He's allowed just two earned runs in his last 23 2/3 innings. Lidle has done a nice job of helping Myers stabilize that oh-so-unstable Phillies rotation. On Saturday he took the loss in Pittsburgh as the Phillies fell 3-2. His strikeout numbers, 33 in 30 2/3 innings, are still way up for the year compared to his career numbers.
Phillies beat Marlins with the ugly stick
May 3 2006
The Phillies came up with a win last night in a game that featured another
ugly start, another great performance from the pen, a big hit by Aaron
Rowand and oodles of generalized sucking from the Marlins.
The Phillies won the game 7-5 and improve to 12-14 on the season. They have
won three straight.
Jon Lieber was on the hill of the Phillies, looking for his first win in his
sixth start. He got it, despite allowing five runs, four of them earned, on
nine hits in six innings. Lieber again did not allow a walk, he's issued
just three for the season, but a ton of hits. He's allowed 51 in 36 2/3
innings as opponents have hit .331 against him.
The Phillies pinch hit for Lieber in the top of the seventh, scoring four in
that inning to take a 7-5 lead. Lieber was followed by Geary, Franklin and
Gordon who combined to go three innings and allow just one hit, an infield
single to Miguel Cabrera off of Geary. Geary extends his streak to 6 1/3
innings without being charged a run.
Franklin pitched the eighth with a two-run lead. This is a great
development -- the Phillies have been seemingly been intent on using Rhodes
and only Rhodes in the eighth. Rhodes threw 27 unimpressive pitches
yesterday, loading the bases on a hit and two walks before getting himself
out of the inning so he likely just needed a rest. Franklin has been
perfect in his last 2 1/3 innings over two appearances, striking out three.
Speaking of perfect, Gordon got his eighth save, striking out two in the
ninth. In his last six appearances he's thrown six innings without allowing
a hit, recorded four saves and struck out nine. Opponents are hitting .098
against him for the year.
The Phillies faced yet another lefty in the Marlins's Scott Olsen and threw
out another, better lineup. After struggling with their lineup against
lefties so far this year it looks like they're very close now, and what
they've got is pretty much the same as the lineup against righties:
Rollins, Utley, Abreu, Burrell, Rowand, Howard, Bell, catcher -- the same as
what they usually throw out against a righty but with Rowand and Howard
switched. I think before it's over they'll take Utley out of the two spot
against lefties and maybe move Bell up a slot or two or try Rowand in the
two-hole. Bell hasn't been killing lefties this year the way he did last,
though, he's actually been better against right-handed pitching
(276/311/431) than left (182/250/318) after being ridiculously better
against lefties last year. I like this lineup against a lefty a lot better
than the recent offerings.
Aaron Rowand had the big hit of the game. Down 5-3 in the seventh the
Marlins recorded two quick outs. Rollins hit a solo homer to make it 5-4
and then Utley singled and Abreu and Burrell walked to load the bases before
Rowand cleared the bases with a three-run triple to center. It put the
Phillies up to stay at 7-5.
Rollins was 1-for-5 and his average dips to .262 with a .308 on-base
Utley 2-for-4 with a walk. Phillies pitchers did not allow a walk all game
while the Marlins issued eight. Abreu was 0-for-2 with three walks, Burrell
0-for-3 but walked twice.
Howard had two singles in four at-bats. Bell and Fasano combined to go
0-for-8 and left five men on base.
Fasano's defense continues to hurt the Phillies. In the third, with two
outs and runners of first and third, Willingham at first stole second.
Fasano tried to fake a throw to second but lost the ball, throwing it into
the ground in front of home plate. Uggla at third raced home as the ball
got away from Fasano. In the bottom of the fifth, Howard was charged with
an error when the Phillies were unable to get a runner at the plate on a
ball that Fasano could not handle.
Elsewhere the Braves beat the Rockies and New York fell to the Nationals.
Braves and Phillies remain tied for second in the NL East, each are five
games behind the 17-9 Mets.
The Phillies, 5-10 at home and 7-4 on the road, host the Braves in a two-game set starting tonight. Tonight's game features a
tremendous pitching matchup between Brett Myers and John Smoltz.
Tejeda to start, Dellucci to get .84 at-bats
May 2 2006
Former Philly Robinson Tejeda joined the Rangers yesterday and will start
tonight in Tampa Bay. Tejeda appeared in 26 games for the Phillies in 2005,
getting 13 starts and going 4-3 with a 3.57 ERA. He went to the Rangers in
the April 1 deal that brought David Dellucci to the Phillies. Dellucci hit
29 home runs in 2005 but has had trouble making much of an impact in his 21
at-bats in '06.
Tejeda didn't exactly tear things up at Triple-A Oklahoma, posting a 5.33
ERA in five starts, but is coming off of a nice start on Thursday in which
allowed just four hits in seven shutout innings and struck out seven.
Regardless of what Tejeda does tonight, and there's a good chance he'll get
battered, the bigger problem for the Phillies is what they're doing with
Dellucci, who is on pace to get 136 at-bats this season. There doesn't look
like any reasonable way to get him into the lineup regularly without an
injury or an Abreu trade. In short, not much has changed since the Phillies
traded for him, so whatever the plan was before it's likely still in place.
Let's just hope there is a plan, and it's not to give him 136 at-bats.
Dellucci's career numbers against left-handed pitching make him look almost
unplayable against them. In 269 at-bats he's posted a 208/270/297 line. He
was much better in 2005, however, 242/342/364. This season he does not have
an at-bat against a lefty.
Compared to the rotation, of course, what to do with Dellucci isn't a big
problem. I don't think Ryan Madson is going to get too many more chances
and I don't know who is next. Franklin? Eude Brito? The only thing I know
for sure is it's not going to be Robinson Tejeda.
Phillies won a wild one in Florida last night, topping the Marlins 8-5 to
improve to 11-14 on the season.
You have to think that Ryan Madson can't be feeling too comfortable about
his spot in the rotation. Last night was his third bad start in a row and
the good starts (two) are now outnumbered by the bad (two) and the
absolutely horrific (one). Madson went 5 1/3, allowing five earned runs on
eight hits and three walks as his ERA puffed to 8.14. He's allowed 41 hits
in 24 1/3 innings and opponents are hitting .373 against him. He did strike
out five, which is a tiny bit encouraging. His strikeouts are way down this
year after striking out 79 in 87 innings in '05. Five is his high for a
start this season.
The Marlins got four against Madson in a big fourth inning that featured a
two-run home run from Dan Uggla. Madson left with one out in the sixth and
was replaced by Geoff Geary with the Phillies down 5-1. Geary finished the
sixth, turning in his fourth straight appearance in which he has not been
charged with a run.
The Phillies got four in the top of the seventh to tie the game at 5-5.
Clay Condrey started the bottom of the seventh and got the first out before
allowing a single to Josh Willingham. Cormier came in and got the only man
he faced, Mike Jacobs, to ground into an inning ending double-play. The
Phillies pulled ahead in the eighth and Cormier ended up getting the win
despite throwing just four pitches. Cormier keeps his ERA at 0.00 for the
year. Aaron Fultz has all but disappeared -- he hasn't been in a game since
April 25 while his fellow lefty Cormier pitched April 25, 27, 29 and May 1.
Arthur Rhodes pitched the eighth and got out of it without allowing a run,
but did not inspire confidence. He allowed a hit and walk walks and left
the bases loaded by getting Uggla to fly out to left with the bases loaded.
If Uggla had reached it would have brought the right-handed Cabrera to the
plate against the lefty Rhodes and it would have been interesting to see if
the Phillies would bring in Gordon in the eighth. So far they haven't, but
they should. Rhodes lowered his ERA to 5.19 with the scoreless inning.
Troubled waters ahead, I fear, for the Phillies in the eighth innings of
close games because Rhodes isn't pitching very well and the Phillies aren't
letting anyone else pitch.
Tom Gordon slammed the door shut in the ninth, striking out two and getting
his seventh save as his ERA fell to 0.77. Gordon's numbers are silly --
he's struck out 19 in 11 2/3 and has allowed just four hits.
Lefty Dontrelle Willis started for the Marlins and the Phillies continued
the long process of trying to settle on a lineup against left-handed
pitching by process of elimination. Last night's was another they can cross
of the list.
Shane Victorino and his .244 career on-base percentage hit second and played
right. Rowand batted third against a lefty for the third straight day.
Utley hit fifth. Alex Gonzalez hit seventh and, brace yourself, played
Gonzalez grounded into a double-play on a 3-1 pitch with the bases loaded to
lose the game on Saturday. He's started both games since. I like using the
bench and think it helps the team, but if we're planning to start Alex
Gonzalez every day until he redeems himself we're in for a long 137 games.
He was 1-for-4 with a bloop single to right and an RBI last night -- what
say we call it a moral victory and move on? He's also a really, really bad
guy to play at first base, given the career .303 OBP and the fact that he's
on-based .300 just once in the past five seasons. The only plus I can see
is that the Phillies gave Howard his off day against a tough lefty and not
on a Sunday against a right handed starter. The Phillies should try hard to
figure out a way to get Burrell at first and Victorino in left when they
give Howard a day off against a righty if there's any way Burrell can play
at first. Even Burrell at first and the left-handed Dellucci in left
against a lefty starter appeals more to me than Gonzalez at first.
The Phillies got a run in the fourth on Utley's RBI single. Utley was
1-for-4 on the day and is 3-for-his-last-17.
They went into the top of the seventh down 5-1 and things got crazy. With
the score 5-2 and the bases loaded with two outs, Victorino was up. He hit
a bloop to shallow right just out of the reach of Uggla. Two runs scored to
make it 5-4 and Rollins went from first to third. When Uggla spit in
disgust and then tossed to ball underhand to Dontrelle Willis, Rollins raced
home to tie the game 5-5.
Burrell hit a home run in the eighth to put the Phillies up 6-5. He was
1-for-3 with a walk and is hitting .301. He's eighth in the NL in OPS at
1.043, tied for seventh in home runs and eighth in RBI.
The Phillies added two more in the eighth on singles by Rollins and
Gonzalez. Rollins was 1-for-5 on the day as his average fell to .265.
Gonzalez raised his average to .091 with his single but left five men on
Bell was 2-for-3. Lieberthal 1-for-4 with an RBI. Rowand went 0-for-5 and
3-for-14 in his three day stint as the #3 hitter.
The game featured a made for television scene of Chalie Manuel screaming at
the Phillies between the third and fourth innings. It was followed up
nicely with a chance for him to show his fire as he was tossed when Shane
Victorino was called out at second on a force play in the fourth. Victorino
Elsewhere, the Mets beat the Nationals 2-1 to improve to 17-8. The Braves
also won and are tied with the Phillies for second place in the NL East, six
games behind the Mets. Nationals and Marlins are 14-35 combined.
Jon Lieber and Scott Olsen tonight as the Phillies face yet another lefty
and go for three in a row.
Phillies travel to Florida to start a two-game set with the Marlins
tonight. They enter the series at 10-14, tied for second place in the NL
East with the Braves. The Marlins are 6-16 and have lost three straight,
coming off a sweep at the hands of the Rockies.
The Phillies last saw the Marlins April 21-23 in Philadelphia. The three
game series was shortened to two as the middle game was rained out and
rescheduled for July 30. The teams split the series.
Right fielder Jeremy Hermida is still out for the Fish and likely won't come
back in time to contribute against the Phils. Chris Aguila (208/296/333)
and Matt Cepicky (118/167/118) have been getting most of the time in right
in his absence. Abercrombie is still the primary guy in center despite
hitting just .175. Left fielder Josh Willingham (299/391/597) remains the
outfield's token good hitter. He leads the team, Cabrera included, with 20
RBI and five home runs.
Miguel Cabrera (321/448/590) and Hanley Ramirez (304/379/489) are still
putting up nice numbers on the left side of the infield. Cabrera's .448 OBP
is seventh best in the NL (Abreu is eighth at .444). Ramirez has seven
stolen bases, which is fourth in the NL. Uggla (253/319/410) and Jacobs
(192/310/370) still man second and first. Uggla is 0-for-his-last-9 with
six strikeouts. Jacobs is 3-for-his-last-22 with one extra-base hit.
Olivo (273/281/545) still handles most of the catching. His .545 slugging
looks a bit out of place, given that he's Miguel Olivo. He had a nice game
against the Phillies on April 23, hitting a home run off of Brett Myers and
The Phillies have played two more games than the Marlins but have allowed 74
more hits. That is staggering. The .298 opponents are hitting against the
Phillies is top in the NL. Florida has allowed a lot more walks than the
Phils, the 102 they have allowed is third most in the NL (much of this can
be blamed on Jason Vargas, who has issued 20 walks in his 23 2/3 innings).
The Fish have also kept the ball in their rather large yard -- the 21 home
runs they have allowed is best in the NL.
The Florida pen is still all right-handed. Hopefully Abreu, Howard and
Utley can do some damage in a big spot. Joe Borowski has settled into
the closer's role and has earned a save in three of the team's six wins.
Matt Herges often pitches near the end of the game and has allowed 15 hits
in 11 2/3 innings while walking seven. He's somehow managed to keep his ERA
at 5.40. Franklyn German, Randy Nolasco and Josh Johnson have decent
numbers so far. Randy Messenger hasn't allowed a run in just four innings.
Todd Wellemeyer has given up eight hits and four walks in 7 1/3 innings.
Nolasco, Messenger, Borowski, German and Wellemeyer have combined to allow
zero home runs in 36 1/3 innings.
Ryan Madson (2-1, 8.05) starts against lefty Dontrelle Willis (1-1, 3.13)
tonight. Dontrelle is always fun to watch and you have to admire his
attitude with the Marlins in shambles. He's been solid this year, most
recently taking the loss in Chicago on Tuesday as he allowed three earned
runs in seven innings as the Fish fell 3-1. He has yet to allow more than
four runs or go less than five innings in a start, tonight will be his sixth
of the season. It was nice to see Madson bounce back a little on Wednesday
against the Rockies after being shelled by the Nationals on April 20 when he
gave up nine earned runs without making it out of the second inning. His
numbers on the season are still horrid, 33 hits in just 19 innings. His
strikeouts are way down, just eight for the year after striking out 79 in 87
innings last season (3.79 K/9 in '06, 8.17 in '05).
Jon Lieber (0-4, 7.04) and another lefty, Scott Olsen (1-1, 2.12), go
tomorrow night. Olsen beat the Phillies on April 21, allowing just one
earned run in 6 2/3 inning on eight hits and two walks. He started on
Wednesday against the Cubs in Chicago and came away with a no decision
despite holding the Cubs to just one hit through five innings. He did walk
three and the one hit was a solo homer to Aramis Ramirez. Lieber goes into
his sixth start still looking for his first win. He's been bombed in two of
his five starts and opponents are hitting .328 against him. Thursday
against Colorado he gave up three earned runs in seven innings on nine hits
and a walk. He most definitely is not being bothered by the walk, he's only
given up three in 30 2/3 innings. The hits (42), on the other hand, are
bothering pretty much everyone.
The Phillies get two more games against lefty starters. Hopefully we'll see
them continue to tinker with their lineups against left-handed pitching. I
would like to see Rowand out the #3 spot and moved to #2, #5 or #6, assuming
Burrell's foot is really okay.
Elsewhere, the Braves, tied with the Phillies for second place in the NL
East, host the Rockies. The Nationals are in New York to face the Mets, who
lead the division at 16-8 after taking two of three from the Braves this
weekend. The Phillies and Braves trail New York by six games.
You should know that most of this post is plagiarized from the 1998 novel, The Acne Incident. Incident is the story of identical twins, Ashley and Hadley, who are orphaned, separated at birth and sent to live on opposite sides of the country only to be reunited after a bizarre sequence of coincidences, the first of which is developing nearly identical pimples on their sixteenth birthdays. Hope you like it.
The Phillies lost two of three against Pittsburgh this weekend. It was the first series of the season the Pirates have won. The Phillies end April at 10-14 for the second straight year despite endless discussion of how going 10-14 in April doesn't help your playoff chances.
The weekend was mostly miserable. For a change of pace, though, the starting pitching was very good and the offense didn't do much.
Gavin Floyd was on the hill today and had his best start of the year. He went 6 2/3 innings allowing one run on six hits and five walks. Of his five starts, the two best have come in his two starts on the road. His other was in Atlanta on April 13 and between that game and today he is 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA away from Philadelphia (0-2, 10.50 in his three home starts).
Floyd shut the Pirates out through six innings before allowing a solo home run to Jack Wilson in the seventh to make the score 5-1. With two outs and nobody on, Jason Bay reached on an error by Alex Gonzalez at third and the Phillies took Floyd out. Floyd gave up way too many walks (5) but was aided by two double plays. Only one of the six hits he allowed went for extra-bases.
Ryan Franklin relieved Floyd, getting out of the seventh and pitching a perfect eighth to drop his ERA to 3.95.
Gordon pitched the ninth, allowing just one walk as he nailed down the win and dropped his ERA to 0.84 I am pretty much befuddled why they would have Gordon pitch up 5-1 given that none of Rhodes, Fultz or Condrey appeared today or in either of the last two games. Maybe they just thought they had to get a win today? But if that was the case I don't understand why they started who they did.
Which brings us to the lineup. The Phillies seem set with what they're going to do against righties and it looks good despite scoring just four runs in the last two games started by an opponent's righty. What they're doing against lefties doesn't make much sense to me, however.
They faced lefty Oliver Perez today in the second straight game the Pirates had thrown a southpaw. In both games, Aaron Rowand hit third and Burrell fifth. I just don't understand this. Burrell is clearly the better hitter of the two and even if you're committed to going right-left-right I would still go Burrell, Abreu, Rowand, Howard in slots three through six. Rowand second against lefites makes much more sense -- I think it's a mistake to put him third and expect we won't see him there much longer.
Elsewhere today, Gonzalez started at third, Nunez at second and Fasano at catcher. I hate to see Bell sitting against a lefty, but at third for Bell is better than putting Gonzalez at first for Howard if you're committed to getting him a start. What about waiting for a righty and giving Bell his day off?
The Phillies scored five runs today after putting up just three in the first two games of the series.
Rollins hit his second home run of the year, so if fly outs to right is a category in your rotisserie league it may be a good time to trade for him. He was 1-for-3 with two walks on the day.
Nunez had three singles, going 3-for-5. He doesn't belong hitting second when he plays. How bout Rowand against a lefty?
Rowand was 2-for-5 hitting third after a big home run last night.
Burrell was 2-for-4 with a double and his seventh home run. He's been tremendous so far and he improves his OPS to 1.013.
Abreu 0-for-3 with two walks. He was 2-for-9 with two doubles and four walks for the series.
Howard 0-for-3 today and 2-for-11 in the series. Fasano 0-for-3 and is 0-for-his-last-6 with four strikeouts. Gonzalez 0-for-3 with a walk as his average drops to .056. Gonzalez followed up last night's tough outing with an error in the field as well.
The Phillies lost yesterday's game, the second of the series, 3-2. It was pretty much unbearable.
Cory Lidle pitched well. He went six innings giving up three runs, two of which were earned, on four hits. He allowed an unearned run in the third, which was aided by a David Bell throwing error. Burnitz hit a two-run homer off of him in the fourth and he left down 3-1.
Cormier pitched the seventh and kept his 0.00 ERA. Geary pitched the ninth and was perfect.
The Phillies got a run on Burrell's fourth inning RBI single. They brought the score to 3-2 on #3 hitter Aaron Rowand's solo homer in the eighth.
The ninth inning was heartbreaking. The Phillies loaded the bases on three walks. With one out the Phillies called on pinch-hitter Alex Gonzalez who grounded into a game ending double play on a 3-1 pitch from Roberto Hernandez.
Phillies lost the series opener on Friday night, again getting a nice outing from their starting pitcher.
Myers allowed three or fewer runs for his fifth straight start. He went seven innings, allowing three earned runs on nine hits and three walks. He struck out eight. The nine hits he allowed were the most for the season. He also threw 120 pitches, his most for the season. That's too many -- Myers allowed two of the three runs he gave up in the seventh and the Phils stayed with him a long time in that inning. After getting the first two hitters he allowed double, single, double, intentional walk before getting out of frame.
Geary pitched the eighth and kept Pittsburgh off the board, giving up just one hit.
The Phillies scored their lone run in the seventh. Howard and Rowand reached on a single and an error, which brought Bell up with nobody out and runners on first and second. The Phillies were down 1-0 and bunted with Bell. The bunt was successful in the sense that Howard went to third and Rowand to second. With one out, Lieberthal grounded out to score Howard from third and tie the game 1-1. With two outs and Rowand on third, the Phillies let Myers bat and he grounded out to the pitcher.
Yuck. Two things here, bunting with Bell and letting Myers hit for himself. The Bell bunt worked in that they got a run. You know the saying though, if you play for one run you get one run. I don't mind the Myers hitting for himself -- he had thrown just 86 through six innings but wound up throwing 34 in the seventh to wind up at 120.
The worst was yet to come. In the eighth, with one out and Abreu up, the Phillies down 3-1, Rollins got thrown out stealing second base. That is horrid. It's the kind of play you need if you're going to lose two of three to the Pirates.
For the three games, Phillies batters in the #1 and #2 spots were 7-for-24 with two walks. For the season they are 61-for-196 (.311) with 13 walks, two hit by pitch and two sac flies (.357 OBP).
Phillies play the Marlins in Florida tomorrow.