No escape from New York for the Phillies
May 23 2006

NYM 26-17 214 4.98 259 331 440 42 5
PHI 23-20 208 4.84 263 338 444 23 9
NYM 393.1 182 4.23 351 149 350 3.87 1.27
PHI 380.2 213 4.95 418 138 286 4.44 1.46

The Phillies start a three-game series in New York tonight.  The Mets lead the NL East with a 26-17 record, three games ahead of the second place Phillies. 

The Mets came out of the gate super-hot, going 16-8 in April to garner media attention in the city where the spotlight never sleeps.  They've gone just 10-9 in May and come off a stretch where they faced the best team in the National League, the Cardinals, and the Yankees, going 3-3 in their last six.

The Phillies and Mets met for three games earlier this month, May 9 through May 11 in Philadelphia.  The Phillies took two of three in a series that started with the focus on how good the Mets were playing and the comments from Billy Wagner about his time playing in Philadelphia.  The Phils won the first game of the series 5-4 on the play where Abreu hit a dribbler to Aaron Heilman who threw wildly to first in the bottom of the ninth inning.  Cory Lidle got bombed in the second game as the Mets won 13-4.  In the third game of the series, Aaron Rowand made the catch that sent him to the DL and Gavin Floyd threw five shutout innings as the Phillies won 2-0 in a rain-shortened game.

The Mets have made several moves since then, mostly trying to deal with their shattered rotation -- Victor Zambrano is out for the year and Brian Bannister is still on the DL with a hamstring problem.

On May 13, they sent reliever Heath Bell down to Triple-A.  Bell appeared in the middle game, the Mets blowout, against the Phillies.  They also called up Jeremi Gonzalez to add to the starting rotation.

On May 19, in a blow to NL East hopefuls, they designated Jose Lima for assignment.  On Saturday, May 20, they called up righty pitcher Anderson Garcia, who did not appear in a game before being sent back down to Triple-A yesterday.  Yesterday they also recalled Alay Soler from Double-A, who will start a game in the series against the Phillies.  They also activated Anderson Hernandez off the DL and sent him to Triple-A.  More Matsui for the rest of us.  Hernandez hits about a zillion at Triple-A, so he might be back up before long.

Beltran (252/385/588), Delgado (283/375/584) and Wright (313/394/521) continue to pace the Mets offense. Beltran has homered in two of the last four games, Delgado in each of his last two games.  He's tied for third in the NL with 15 home runs and tied for eighth with 33 RBI.  Beltran's 11 homers put him in a tie for ninth in the NL with the Phillies' Pat Burrell.  Wright is 5-for-his-last-13 and is going to be really good for a really long time. 

Jose Reyes is on-basing .316.  No truth to the rumor that the Phillies and the Mets will put together a joint symposium on how to build a lineup to ensure the guy that gets on-base the least gets the most at-bats.  He leads the NL with 17 stolen bases.  Matsui is 2-for-his-last-18 and hitting .238. 

Xavier Nady (279/335/517) has nine home runs about a quarter of the way through the season.  He entered the year with 25 career home runs in 775 at-bats, playing in a bigger stadium with San Diego.  His .335 on-base percentage is bad so he needs to keep slugging .517 or so to help the Mets.  He's hit one home run in the last ten days.  Cliff Floyd is hitting just .203 after going 3-for-his-last-16.  LoDuca (297/345/453) is 11-for-his-last-30.

Mets manager Willie Randolph brought in Wagner on Saturday with a four run lead, creating a stir the likes of which has not been seen in New York since Paris Hilton did whatever she did last night.  He gave up two hits and three walks as the Yankees tied the game and went on to win it in eleven innings.  Wagner's numbers for the year are good, he's struck out 30 in 21 innings and opponents are hitting .210 against him.  Heilman still has very good numbers, opponents are hitting .202 against him and he's walked just eight in 25 1/3 innings while giving up 19 hits and striking out 23.  The Mets keep him in the pen despite his desire to start and the alternative being somebody like Jose Lima.   Duaner Sanchez is no longer unhittable -- since the Phillies scored the first run of the year against him on May 9 he's allowed five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.  Four of those runs came in a single outing against the Brewers in which he allowed his only two home runs of the year.  Chad Bradford sure looks weird when he pitches, but opponents are hitting .300 against him.  Jorge Julio is still scuffling, he's allowed ten walks in 20 1/3 innings.

Lefties in the pen are still Darren Oliver and Pedro Feliciano.  Both have good numbers and have struck out nearly a batter an inning.  Batters are hitting .196 against Feliciano and .224 against Oliver.  Oliver's ERA was 6.44 last year and opponents hit .319 against him.  I'm just saying.

The Mets have two good starting pitchers, Glavine and Pedro, and the Phillies will miss both of them.  

Gavin Floyd (4-2, 5.71) pitches tonight against righty Steve Trachsel (2-4, 4.33).  These two matched up in the Aaron Rowand catch game that was called after five due to rain.  The Phillies hit Trachsel that day as he gave up six hits and two walks in just four innings but managed to hold them to two runs.  He's had one start since then, giving up just a run in seven innings to the Cardinals on Wednesday as he allowed just four hits and three walks.  Floyd had a string of three straight pretty good starts going into the game against Milwaukee last Wednesday and he got bombed.  He gave up five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, including his eighth home run of the year.  He's allowed eight homers and 23 walks in 41 innings.  He seems to have gotten the hits a bit under control, he's allowed just 15 in his last 16 1/3 innings. 

Cole Hamels (0-0, 3.18) will pitch tomorrow night against righty Alay Soler, who will be making his major league debut.  Soler defected from Cuba in 2003 and signed a three-year deal with the Mets for $2.8 million.  He's 26ish.  He started three games at Double-A for the Mets, striking out 22 in 19 2/3 innings with a 2.75 ERA.  He struck out 32 in 28 Single-A innings, posting a 0.64 ERA in five starts. If you believe his official listing, and I can think of no reason they'd make something like this up, he's fat: 6' 1", 240.  Cole Hamels makes start number three of his career.  He went 6 1/3 innings on Thursday in Milwaukee, shutting out the Brewers through five innings before allowing a run in the sixth and a big inning in the seventh.  He threw 106 pitches and it felt like Manuel left him in too long.  Ryan Madson has pitched badly in relief in each of Hamels' two starts -- let's see if they bring him in again.  Hamels has allowed six hits in 11 1/3 innings but walked nine.  He's looked virtually unhittable early in games.

Jon Lieber (3-5, 5.81) gets righty Jeremi Gonzalez (0-0, 10.13) on Thursday afternoon.  Gonzalez is 31 and has pitched with the Cubs, Devil Rays and Red Sox, posting a career 26-33 mark with a 4.92 ERA.  He has two starts for the Mets this year, most recently he gave up six runs on nine hits in three innings against the Brewers on Friday.  Jon Lieber also pitched Friday and got bombed by the Red Sox.  He allowed five earned runs in five innings on seven hits, three of which were home runs.  He's walked just five in 57 1/3 innings, but opponents are hitting .289 against him.

Chris Coste will likely make his major league debut at age 33 for the Phillies in the series.  He grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, didn't play baseball in high school and went to Division III Concordia College in Minnesota.  He was once told by the manager of the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks in the Northern League he wasn't good enough to make the team and was being kept around to drum up local interest.  He was awesome for the Phillies in spring training, hitting .463 but losing his chance for a roster spot when the Phillies traded Jake Blalock and Robinson Tejeda to Texas for David Dellucci.  According to an article in today's Delaware News Journal, which you can read here, Coste called his family in Fargo on Sunday where his wife Marcia was throwing a birthday party for their seven-year old daughter Casey -- when told the news Casey admitted it had been her birthday wish.

There's also an article on the MLB site and an interview with Coste from January of this year from that you can read here.

Stats of the month
May 22 2006

Here's a look at the April numbers for some key Phillies and what they've done so far in May:

    April May
Rollins 268 318 392 216 301 365
Utley 273 330 489 351 448 608
Abreu 300 444 550 275 479 471
Burrell 300 400 613 232 386 446
Howard 306 388 494 290 301 710
Bell 247 286 411 300 391 400
Rowand 304 354 446 324 361 706
Lieberthal 296 321 407   10 at-bats  

Jimmy Rollins' .216 May average may be the scariest number here.  In 2005, he had a horrid August, going 22-for-117 (.188) with a .238 on-base percentage right before he started to go nuts in September.  Here's hoping more of the same is on the way.

Pat Burrell came out of the gates real hot in April in both '05 and '06.  Last year, though, he carried it over till May, hitting .301 in May and .308 in April.  This year his hits and power are way down in April but his is still managing to draw walks.  Last year his worst month for OBP was June when he hit .266 and on-based .330.  This April he's hit just .232 but managed to on-base .386.  After 43 games in 2006, he's on a pace to walk 100 times and hit 40 home runs without leading the team in either category.  If it becomes a trend that he is able maintain an OBP near .380 in months when his average is way down he will go from being a very good player to being a superstar. 

Utley is on-basing .448 in May after a slowish start.  April was his worst month of the year last year and he was in a platoon for much of that time, getting to only bat against righties.  He broke down a little at the end of '05 as well, hitting .232 in August and .268 in September after hitting .300+ and on-basing at least .390 in May, June and July.  He's tried to prevent the breakdown at the end of the year this year by adding some weight -- it's something to keep an eye on.  His May has been very good.

Abreu has on-based over .440 in each month so far.  He went through a very rough July last season, posting a 214/319/316 line while getting just seven extra-base hits in 98 at-bats.  He had a great May in '05, his best month of the year, posting a 396/535/792 line in 96 at-bats. 

Ryan Howard has homered in each of his last two games and is slugging .710 for the month of May.  His April was very solid as well.  Last year he struggled in May, hitting .214 in just 28 at-bats.  He was back with the team in July, August and September and hit very well in all three of those months.  He's walked just once so far in May after drawing twelve walks in April.

David Bell started 2006 with numbers in May that were as bad as his final numbers for the '05 season.  His slugging was higher, .411 in May, '06, after slugging just .361 in '05, but his .247 average and .286 on-base percentages were both awful.  He's been much better in May, hitting .300 with a .391 on-base percentage.  September was his best month last year, after a miserable first five months of the season he posted a 284/373/451 line in 102 September at-bats.

Aaron Rowand suffered a serious injury on May 11 that has kept him out of the lineup for most of the month.  His defense is missed by the Phillies but sometimes forgotten is how his hot bat helped contribute to the team's 9-1 start in May.  In the first ten days of the month he had hit two triples and three home runs.  He had a tough time at the end of last year, hitting just .245 in August and .235 in September.

Unlike Rowand and Utley, Lieberthal got hot at the end of the 2005 season, hitting .338 in August and .303 in September after hitting under .240 for each of the first three months of the season.

Phillies don't fear the sweeper or any other household appliance
May 21 2006

The Phillies avoided being swept for the second straight series by beating the Boston Red Sox today, 10-5.  The Phillies record is 23-20. 

In the day's biggest surprise, Alex Gonzalez decided to retire at age 33.  He was just 4-for-36 with the Phillies (.111) with four singles.  He really struggled this year and leaves the team with a bit of a problem in terms of backing up Rollins at shortstop. Nunez can, and will, I expect, play short when Rollins rests. He appeared there in 21 games for the Cardinals last year. I don't think he's going to make anyone feel real comfortable out there defensively, though.  He's also 2-for-18 in May and slugging .204 in 49 at-bats this year.

Phillies called up Chris Coste to take the newly available spot on the roster.  Ironically, Coste seemed to earn a spot on the team out of spring training but not the callup, hitting just 177/236/272 at Triple-A. Coste can catch as well as play first and third, which may give the Phillies a boost while they wait for the return of Lieberthal.  Coste had a monster spring training with the Phillies and was one of the last cuts after a trade brought David Dellucci to Philadelphia, posting a 463/500/805 line with three homers and five doubles in 41 at-bats.

Cory Lidle got the start for the Phillies, trying to put an end to a five game skid for the Phillies. He got a little boost from Francona, who rested David Ortiz after the Sox took the first two games of the series.  He got the win, going six innings and allowing three earned runs on five hits and two walks. 

Lidle was good through four. He allowed just two singles, one to Nixon and a two-out infield single to Wily Mo Pena. The Red Sox got a run in the third when Youkilis got a one-out walk, went to second on Loretta's groundout and came in on the Trot Nixon single, the first hit of the game for Boston.

He allowed a solo homer to Youkilis in the fifth and another to Lowell in the sixth.

Ryan Franklin pitched a perfect seventh inning, which dropped his ERA to 3.38 -- he had a really bad outing in Milwaukee on Tuesday where he gave up three hits and two walks in an inning but was not charged with an earned run.  He hasn't been charged with an earned run in his last five appearances, the other four of which have been pretty good.

Rhodes pitched the eighth inning, entering a game that was out of reach as the Phillies led 10-3.  He allowed two earned runs on four hits and has been bad in his last two outings.  Manuel stuck with Rhodes even with his giving up four hits in the inning.  This comes off Fultz coming in Saturday night after throwing 41 pitches on Friday night.   Cormier has thrown 41 pitches since May 6.  It's all very strange and I don't really understand it.  Fultz is the long man, for better or worse, and it's pretty likely for the worse as he's ill-suited for the role with righties hitting .328 against him for the year.  Rhodes is out there in the eighth, even if he gets hammered.  Cormier gets to pitch to one guy it seems.

Flash Gordon pitched the ninth in a non-save situation with the Phillies up 10-5.  It was his first appearance since May 14 -- he allowed two hits but kept the Red Sox off the board.

The Phillies lineup against the lefty DiNardo went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Victorino (7) Bell (8) Ruiz. Fasano may have started against the lefty DiNardo but took a couple of balls off his body last night. Manuel didn't rest anyone, Sunday afternoon game or not, with the Phillies needing to beat somebody.

After Boston went up 1-0 in the top of the third, the Phillies came back strong in the bottom of the inning. The Phillies got their first five men on in the inning, getting a walk, three singles and a two-run triple from Abreu. They could have had more -- with four runs in, nobody out and runners on first and second, Bell flew out and Ruiz grounded into a double-play.

Abreu was the offensive star for the Phillies, going 3-for-3 with two walks and five RBI.  He's 9-for-his-last-18 with three doubles, a triple, a home run and six walks.  He's on-basing .458.  Hopefully nobody tells the Yankees.

Howard homered for the second straight day, his fourteenth on the year.  He's on pace to hit 49 home runs.  He was 2-for-5 on the day and the tater came off of lefty Abe Alvarez.  Howard's line against lefties after speculation he couldn't hit them prior to the season is awesome:  327/345/577 after 52 at-bats.

Jimmy Rollins had two hits and a walk and had a hit taken away from him by a nice play by Nixon in right in the first inning.  Hopefully he's coming out of his awful slump, he's hitting .216 in 74 May at-bats.  He's 4-for-his-last-12.

Utley was 3-for-5 and is 5-for-his-last-13.  He's on-basing .448 in May.

Burrell 1-for-4 with a single.  He's 2-for-his-last-10 and hitting .232 in May. 

Two more hits for Victorino, who was 2-for-5 and has done a tremendous job offensively filling in for Rowand.  Bell 0-for-3 with two walks.  He's 18-for-60 in May (.300) without a home run after hitting three in April.

Ruiz was 0-for-4 with a walk but left five men on base.

Dellucci had one at-bat, a pinch hit triple.  In his 16 at-bats in May his line is 375/450/938.  He still does not have an at-bat against a lefty on the season.

Yesterday the Red Sox beat the Phillies 8-4. Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies, going 6 1/3 innings and allowing six runs, only two of which were earned, on eight hits and a walk. Just two of the hits went for extra-bases, a triple to Youkilis and a two-run homer to pitcher Josh Beckett.

Myers was wicked good through five, shutting the tough Boston lineup out while allowing just one hit, a third inning single to Wily Mo Pena. With the Phillies up 1-0 he started the sixth and things fell apart.

Pena led off and Myers struck him out. Alex Gonzalez followed at reached on a Jimmy Rollins error, his third of the season, going to second on the bad throw. Beckett followed with single that brought in Gonzalez. Youkilis and Loretta followed with singles, Youkilis on a ball hit to third that was called a hit, to load the bases with one out. Ortiz hit a sac fly to bring in the second run of the inning. Ramirez walked and the bases were loaded again. Trot Nixon followed with a two-run single to make it 4-1. A Varitek single loaded the bases before Pena popped out to end the inning.

After holding the Red Sox to a single hit through five innings, Myers allowed five in the top of the sixth. Myers has a reputation for blowing up when things go bad -- he wasn't able to pitch around the Rollins error to lead off the inning in this case.

Myers started the seventh, getting the first batter before giving up a home run to Beckett and a triple to Youkilis and being taken out of the game for Madson.

Loretta hit a sac fly to score Youkilis and Ortiz doubled before Madson got Ramirez to end the inning. Red Sox led 6-1.

Phillies pinch hit for Madson in the bottom of the seventh and Fultz came on after throwing 41 pitches the night before. !!!. He got the first two before allowing a single to Pena and a two-run homer to Alex Gonzalez and getting Beckett to end the inning. Beckett and Gonzalez are unusual people to allow the game's two homers to.

The Phillies scored three in the bottom of the eighth to make it 8-4. Geary pitched the ninth, allowing a single to JT Snow but keeping the Red Sox off the board.  Geary's ERA in May is 0.90.

Against tough righty Josh Beckett, the Phillies lineup went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Bell (8) Ruiz. Just the second time of the year Howard has hit fourth, the other was May 17 against the Brewers. Anyone remember who hit cleanup opening day? Chase Utley.

All the Phillies runs came off home runs. Chase Utley hit a solo shot in the third and a three-run homer by Howard in eighth. The two home runs were the only extra-base hits for the Phillies.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a walk. He's in a horrible funk but did a nice job in the first. After drawing a leadoff walk he went to second on a routine fly ball to left field, catching Ramirez napping a bit. In the top of the third he swung at the first pitch, however, flying out to right.

Utley and Howard were each 1-for-4 with a homer. Abreu 0-for-4 with a walk.

Burrell 1-for-4. Victorino 1-for-4. Ruiz 1-for-3. Bell 2-for-4. All singles.

Alex Gonzalez had a big at-bat in what may have been the last appearance of his career. After the Howard homer it was 8-4. With one out and runners on first and second, Manuel hit Dellucci for Carlos Ruiz. Dellucci flied out. Gonzalez followed Dellucci, hitting for Fultz, and grounded out.

No game tomorrow.  The Phillies start a three-game series against the Mets on Tuesday night in New York.

Phillies mojo spotted working in a carwash in Gary, Indiana
May 19 2006

During the first fifteen days of May the Phillies played baseball so beautiful it was hard to believe, going 12-1 and spending four days basking in the glow created by the sacrifice of Aaron Rowand.  Then they went to Milwaukee and, since then, not so much.  I don't know where the magic has gone, but a good place to start looking would seem to be the four hundred miles between Cincinnati and Milwaukee.

The Phillies lost tonight for the fourth straight time, falling to the Boston Red Sox 5-3.  The loss puts their record at 22-19 for the season.

Jon Lieber got the start for the Phillies.  He went five innings, allowing five earned runs on seven hits.   Three of the seven Boston hits went for extra-bases -- all three were home runs.

The Phillies pinch hit for Lieber in the bottom of the fifth.  Aaron Fultz pitched the sixth and seventh innings, holding Boston scoreless.  He didn't give up a hit but allowed three walks.

The Phillies scored two in the bottom of the seventh to make the score 5-3.  Geary pitched the eighth.  He gave up singles to the first two batters before getting a double-play and getting Gonzalez to fly out to right.

The Phillies used their standard lineup against righty Matt Clement with Victorino batting sixth and playing center field for the injured Aaron Rowand.

Clement pretty much shut down the Phillies through the first six innings.  Victorino (1-for-4) hit a home run in the bottom of the fourth, his second of the season.

In the seventh, Clement got the first two Phillies before pinch hitter Alex Gonzalez started a rally with a single.  Rollins (1-for-4) followed with a single that sent Gonzalez to third.  Foukle came in to pitch to Utley (1-for-4), who doubled two runs in before Foukle struck out Abreu.  Tough spot for the Red Sox without much in the way of lefties in the pen, having to bring in Foulke to pitch to back-to-back lefties.  Nice to see Gonzalez get a hit after the way he's been struggling. 

Burrell was 0-for-2 with two walks.  Abreu 2-for-3 with a double and a walk.  Burrell and Abreu were the only Phillies to draw a walk on the night. 

Howard was 0-for-3.  Fasano 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.  Nunez hit for Lieber to lead off the bottom of the fifth and struck out as his average fell to .188.  Bell was 0-for-4 with a strikeout. 

The Phillies loaded the bases in the first inning on a two-out double, a walk and a hit by pitch but Victorino flew out to center.  In the bottom of the sixth the Phillies got their first two men aboard but Howard grounded into a double-play and Victorino popped out.

Great matchup tomorrow night as Brett Myers faces Josh Beckett.

Drew Barrymore and that guy from SNL likely all-aflutter as Red Sox come to Philly
May 19 2006

BOS 23-15 204 5.37 274 365 440 12 5
PHI 22-18 191 4.78 263 336 440 21 9
BOS 333.2 179 4.71 330 109 247 4.48 1.32
PHI 353.2 195 4.88 386 131 266 4.43 1.46

The Boston Red Sox come to Philadelphia tonight for the first of a three-game set with the Phillies.

About a quarter of the way through the season, the Phillies are 22-18, in second place in the NL East and two games behind the Mets.  The Red Sox are in first place in the AL East, leading the Yankees by half a game.

Boston's 204 runs are seventh best in the American League, while the Phillies remain eleventh in the NL in runs despite having what would seem to be one of the league's best offensive teams.  The Red Sox are tied for third in on-base percentage in the NL while the Phillies on-base percentage as a team has dropped to .336. 

The Braves lead the National League in runs scored with 221 and are coming off of a four game sweep of the Marlins.  That's a great job by Atlanta to take their wins against the weak teams in the division.  If I had a chance for a do-over a quarter of the way through the season I would still pick the NL East finish the way I did at the start of the season:  Braves, Phillies, Mets.

In 2005 the Phillies led the NL in walks (639) and on-base percentage (.348).  Their .336 on-base percentage as a team is eighth best in the league in '06.  They are ninth in the league in walks at this point, despite the fact that Abreu leads the league with 40 walks and Burrell is twelfth with 24.  Of the 138 walks the team has drawn, 64 (46%) have gone to those two players-- Nunez, Victorino and Lieberthal have combined to draw just four walks in their 167 combined at-bats.  Victorino is on-basing .426 and has been a great offensive player in limited time despite just having two walks.  He's not going to end the season with an on-base percentage anywhere near .426, though.

David Ortiz (268/364/591) and Manny Ramirez (302/445/512) are the elite bats in the Red Sox lineup.  Ortiz, who normally is the Red Sox designated hitter, will play first base.  He's a god-awful defensive player and probably hasn't gotten any better recently as he hasn't appeared at first base this season.  Ortiz is third in the AL with 13 home runs and tied for third with 35 RBI.  Left fielder Ramirez is another bad defensive player, his .445 on-base percentage is third in the AL. 

Center fielder Coco Crisp has been out with a broken finger and should start a minor league rehab next week.  He won't be back in time to play against the Phillies.  In addition to Manny, the Red Sox fill out their outfield with slugger Wily Mo Pena (322/375/522) and Trot Nixon (317/438/471) with the occasional appearance by Willie Harris or Dustin Mohr.  Harris has been terrible, hitting just .136 and Mohr has just four at-bats in May after missing time for the birth of a child.

The other Alex Gonzalez (206/285/290) plays short and Mark Loretta plays second (294/339/375).  Gonzalez is 0-for-his-last-10, not to mention a really bad offensive player.  I assume the Red Sox will be trading for a shortstop before they get to the playoffs.  Loretta is a good offensive player and is 7-for-his-last-14.

Mike Lowell (317/373/561) has been tremendous at third after coming to Boston in the Beckett trade after a heinous '05 season.  He leads the AL with 20 doubles.  We'll have to see how Francona works in Kevin Youkliss (309/424/453), the regular first baseman.

Jason Varitek (231/328/389) catches and his numbers are down so far this year compared to what he's done over his career.

It's a really good offensive team.  Gonzalez is the only bad hitter in the lineup.  Some of these guys, like Pena, Nixon and Lowell should see their numbers drop over the rest of the season, but they sure look scary now.

As a team, the Red Sox have made 12 errors.  The Phillies have made 27.

Righty Jonathan Papelbon closes for the Red Sox and has allowed one earned run in 21 innings.  He's struck out 19 and opponents are hitting .151 against him.  The bullpen is heavy right-handed, which may be an edge for the Phillies who can seemingly only hit righties these days.   Papelbon is backed up by righties Keith Foukle, 40-year old Mike Timlin, Julian Tavarez, Rudy Seanez and lefty Mike Holtz.  Holtz joined the team from Triple-A on May 9 and will likely go back down when David Riske comes off the DL with a back problem, which may be very soon.  Riske is a righty, so if he came up and Boston sent Holtz down the Red Sox would become even more right-handed in the pen.  Foukle and Timlin both have good numbers for the season for Boston, Foukle hasn't been charged with a run in his last five appearances and Timlin has a 1.06 ERA.  Opponents are hitting .296 against Tavarez and .278 against Seanez, who has a 7.68 ERA.  Holtz has only thrown 1 2/3 innings.

Jon Lieber (3-4, 5.50) faces righty Matt Clement (3-3, 5.58) tonight.  Clement started against Texas on Friday and gave up four earned runs in five innings, taking the loss.  He's walked 21 in 40 1/3 innings.  His numbers are bad right now, but likely to get better soon, hopefully not tonight.  Lieber is 3-0 in his last three starts and was absolutely awesome in his most recent appearance, allowing just two hits in 8 2/3 innings against the Reds on Saturday.

Brett Myers (2-1, 2.73) gets righty Josh Beckett (5-1, 4.24).  If you saw the 2003 World Series you pretty much know all you need to know about Beckett.  He was a former #1 draft pick and second pick overall of the Marlins in the '99 amateur draft.  He had a horrid start on April 27 against Cleveland when he allowed eight earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, which accounts for his highish ERA, but has otherwise been awesome.  His last start was Monday against the Orioles and he went seven innings, allowing one earned run on two hits and no walks.  Opponents are hitting .214 against him.  If the Phillies are going to face an elite pitcher, however, I feel much better about their ability to get to a righty than a lefty.  Brett Myers has been excellent, allowing just 14 hits in his last 22 innings.  His 2.73 ERA is sixth best in the National League.  He's allowed just five runs in his last three starts without getting a win. 

Cory Lidle (3-4, 4.84) faces lefty Lenny DiNardo (1-1, 6.17) on Sunday afternoon.  DiNardo came out of the pen and joined the rotation to replace the injured David Wells.  DiNardo has gotten four starts, the best of which was his last, which came May 7 against the Orioles.  He got the win, allowing just one earned run on two hits through five innings.  He did walk five and has issued ten walks in just 23 1/3 innings.  Opponents are hitting .344 against him.  The Phillies haven't had much luck with lefties of late, hopefully they turn it around on Sunday.  Lidle pitched very well in Milwaukee on Tuesday, allowing just two earned runs on five hits through six innings.  He's still striking out nearly a batter an inning, 42 in 44 2/3 innings, but has given up way too many hits (52).

I thought Manuel did a nice job of getting some starters, Burrell, Bell and Rollins, some rest in Milwaukee.  Burrell and Bell both came back strong yesterday after a day off, Burrell had a two-run homer in his first at-bat and Bell went 3-for-3.  Hopefully Rollins can get back on track at home -- the Phillies need him on base at the top desperately.

It's good to be king, but it would be even better if someone in the pen could get out Geoff Jenkins
May 18 2006

After bailing out the starters early in the season the Phillies pen had three horrid days in Milwaukee, which hardly seems possible in the city that brought us Heather Graham and the Violent Femmes.  If they want to have a horrid day tomorrow it will have to be in Philadelphia, and we all know how hard that would be.

The Phillies lost to the Brewers today for the third straight game.  The Brewers sweep the series as the Phils fall to 22-18.

Young King Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went 6 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on five hits and four walks.

Hamels cruised through five innings, shutting out the Brewers and allowing just two hits and three walks while throwing 80 pitches.  He got into trouble in the second inning, getting the first two batters then allowing a hit and two walks to load the bases before getting pitcher Dana Eveland to ground out and end the inning.  In the fifth, the first two batters got aboard before Corey Hart hit into a double-play and Weeks grounded out to end the inning.

Pitching with a 4-0 lead, Hamels gave up a run in the bottom of the sixth.  Jeff Cirillo hit a leadoff double, went to third on a Jenkins ground out and scored on a sac fly by Carlos Lee.  Shaggy threw 90 pitches through six innings and started the seventh, getting the first batter before Brady Clark singled and Chad Moehler hit one out to make it 4-3.  Gabe Gross pinch hit for the Milwaukee pitcher, Justin Lehr, and Manuel left Hamels in to face the lefty.  Gross walked.

Madson replaced Hamels with one out and Gross on first and the Phillies up 4-3.  He stuck out Weeks before a Cirillo single sent Gross to third.  Manuel stayed with Madson against the lefty Jenkins, who killed the Phillies in the first two games of the series, going 5-for-7.  Jenkins hit a two-run double to make the score 5-4.  It would have been a nice time to bring in a lefty to pitch to Jenkins.  All three of the guys in the pen threw last night -- Rhodes, who the Phillies would never have brought in in the seventh anyway, threw 20 pitches, Cormier 14 and Fultz 9.  Mason got Lee to fly out and end the inning.

Franklin pitched the eighth, allowing a single to Brady Clark but no runs.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Dana Eveland featured a new face, Shane Victorino, in the leadoff spot as the slumping Jimmy Rollins got a day off.  (1) Victorino (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Bell (7) Gonzalez (8) Ruiz.

The Phillies scored three in the first on an RBI-double by Abreu and a two-run homer by Burrell who was coming off of day of rest.  Burrell was 1-for-3 on the day with a walk and continues to kill left-handed pitching (317/481/732).   Abreu was 2-for-4 with a walk and has his average up to .273.

The Phillies scored their other run on an RBI-single by Bell in the fifth.  He was 3-for-3 on the day and is hitting .279.  The Phillies did not have an extra-base hit after the first inning, when Abreu doubled and Burrell homered.

Victorino was 0-for-5 in the leadoff spot, striking out twice.  Howard was 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and left four men on base.  Ruiz 1-for-3.

Manuel continues to give Gonzalez chances but he's really struggling.  He was 0-for-3 with a strikeout.  He grounded into a double-play and left six men on base.

The Phillies missed opportunities to score in the third and seventh.  In the third, Abreu singled and stole second.  Burrell walked, so it was first and second, no outs.  Howard grounded out and the runners moved to second and third.  Bell walked to load the bases and Gonzalez grounded into an inning-ending double-play.  In the seventh, Utley led off with a single and stole second before Abreu struck out, Burrell fouled out and Howard struck out.

The eighth inning was a tactical disaster for the Phillies.  Righty Dan Kolb took over for Justin Lehr to start the inning and Bell led off with a single.  Alex Gonzalez was up and they pinch hit for him with Jimmy Rollins -- great decision to pinch hit for him but they picked the wrong guy.  Dellucci is the guy on the bench with the most sock and you want him to hit against a righty like Kolb.  You need to use him in the eighth inning because you're at number seven in the order and next inning you'll be at the top and won't want to pinch hit for Victorino, Utley, Abreu or any of those guys in the top half.  If you hit him then, the Brewers may take out Kolb and bring in Shouse early, which is still okay.  Rollins fouled out.  Ruiz was up and the Phillies pinch hit again.  Again, great to pinch hit but they picked the wrong guy, calling on Nunez who grounded into a fielder's choice that sent Bell to second.  With two outs they finally brought up Dellucci, and the Brewers brought in lefty Brian Shouse.  The Phillies hit Fasano for Dellucci and Shouse got him to end the inning.  Dellucci never got to hit.

The Phillies face the Boston Red Sox tomorrow night in Philadelphia.

Phillies call on LT Bonham to track and kill Abreu's moustache
May 18 2006

The Phillies lost to the Brewers last night in a game that featured a sixth inning blowup by a young pitcher and a heroic comeback, but none of that matters.  What matters is this:  the 70's porn stache that Bobby Abreu has foisted upon us all is more than any Phillies fan should be forced to bear.  This is the kind of thing that happens when you release a guy's best friend.  Somebody needs to get the Devil Dogs on the phone and see if Tomas Perez can talk Bobby down from the ledge.  If it means he has to come back and start four games at first base it's a burden we'll all just have to live with.

The .512 OPS Tomas has posted with Tampa Bay dwarfs the OPS for current Phillies backup first baseman Alex Gonzalez, who is at .248. 

The Phillies lost to Milwaukee last night for the second straight game, falling 8-7 on a Geoff Jenkins single in the bottom of the ninth.  The Phillies fall to 22-17 on the year.

Gavin Floyd got the start for the Phillies and gave up five runs in 5 1/3 innings on four hits and two walks.  Three of the four hits, two doubles and a home run, went for extra bases.  The Brewers helped Floyd out in the first when Rickie Weeks was thrown out by Fasano trying to steal second just a batter before Geoff Jenkins homered.  It cost them a run.

Things were just ducky through five innings.  The Phillies started the bottom of the sixth up 4-1 with Floyd still on the hill.  To start the sixth the Brewers went double, single, double, walk, which left it 4-2 with the bases loaded and Carlos Lee up.  In perhaps the most dramatic example of optimism in the face of data since the last time Charlie Brown tried to kick the football, the Phillies left Floyd in to pitch to the righty Lee and it somehow turned out sort of okay.  Lee hit a ground ball to third that scored a run but Floyd got his only out of the inning.  He left down 4-3 with runners on second and third and one out. 

With a lefty, Fielder, up, and another, Koskie, on deck, the Phillies brought in Rheal Cormier and his 0.00 ERA into the game.  He gave up back-to-back doubles, the first one bringing in two runs, Koskie's another, which made it a five-run inning for the Brewers and the Phillies trailed 6-4.

Geary pitched the seventh for the Phillies, allowing a run on three hits before getting Lee to hit into a double-play to escape further damage.  Milwaukee led 7-4.

Fultz pitched the eighth and had the only good outing of the day for a Phillies pen that hasn't gotten the job done in the last two days.  He threw a perfect inning, pitching in his first game since throwing three innings against the Mets last Wednesday.

The Phillies rallied to tie the game at 7-7 in the top of the ninth and brought in Arthur Rhodes.   Rhodes walked the leadoff man, Jeff Cirillo,  on four pitches.  The Brewers bunted him to second and the Phillies walked righty Hall intentionally to pitch to Geoff Jenkins.  Jenkins crushed the ball over Victorino's head to bring in the winning run.  I don't object to anything the Phillies did strategy-wise in the inning.  It was bad to give up a leadoff walk to Cirillo, but Hall doesn't matter at all so if you would rather pitch to Jenkins the intentional walk doesn't hurt you. The dropoff defensively from Rowand to Victorino in center has been noticeable, but you can't fault Shane on the play that ended the game.  The ball hit the very base of the wall and he has to be shallow enough to throw Cirillo out at home on a single.

The Phillies lineup against righty David Bush went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Howard (5) Victorino (6) Dellucci (7) Nunez and (8) Fasano.  I like the lineup, given the circumstances, especially the decision to rest Burrell who has been struggling.  Victorino looks funny in the five-hole but you've got to split up those lefties.  I wonder if we might see Victorino leading off today if Rollins gets a rest.

The Phillies pulled ahead 2-1 in the second on Dellucci's first home run as a Philly.  He was 1-for-3 on the day and has his average up to .242 after early struggles.  He's 4-for-his-last-7 with a double, a huge triple against the Mets on May 9, and a home run.

Doubles by Abreu and Howard brought in two more in the fifth.  Abreu was 2-for-4 with two big hits, the double and a ninth inning single to sustain the rally, and a walk.  Howard was 2-for-5 -- he also had an RBI-double and singled as part of a big top of the ninth.

The Phillies came into the ninth down 7-4 but scored three runs to tie the game.  Bell lead off with a walk, calling but not getting time out on a 2-2 pitch that looked good but was called a ball as he stepped out of the box.  That's the second time this month he's stepped out of the box while calling for a time out he didn't get.  He should stop doing that.   Roberson pinch hit and flied out.  Rollins singled.  Utley struck out to make it first and second with two outs.  Abreu, Howard and Victorino followed with three straight singles, which tied the game at 7-7 and brought Alex Gonzalez to the plate against righty Jose Cappellan.  Gonzalez had pinch-hit for Dellucci in the top of the eighth and played, brace yourself, left field in the bottom of the inning.  For reasons beyond me, the Phillies did not hit Burrell, a good hitter, for Gonzalez, a bad hitter, with the chance to go ahead.  Gonzalez grounded out and was replaced defensively in the bottom of the inning.  Burrell didn't appear in the game.  Here's hoping that was just a bad decision and not a sign of a health problem.

Rollins was 1-for-5 on the day.  He hit the ball hard in the first inning, a line out to first base.  His single in the ninth was a big hit at a big time to help start a rally.  I expect he may be due for a day off this afternoon.

Utley was 1-for-3 with two walks.  Victorino 2-for-5 with the big single in the ninth.  Gonzalez 0-for-2 and Nunez 0-for-4.  Nunez is 0-for-his-last-10 and tried that thing where he gets on via dribbler to third in the eighth, but was foiled by Koskie.

Fasano 2-for-3 with more good defense, throwing out Weeks in the first to save a run when Jenkins followed shortly thereafter with a homer.  He does pass Rollins in on-base percentage, meaning Rollins is last on the team among the seven regulars plus Fasano and Lieberthal. 

Floyd was 0-for-3 at the plate, popping up a bunt in the second.  He's 2-for-37 for his career. 

The Phillies blew some opportunities.  In the third they got back-to-back walks to start the inning before Bush struck out Howard, Victorino and Dellucci to turn the Phillies away empty.

Elsewhere, the Mets fell to the Cardinals 1-0 and the Braves beat the Marlins on a walkoff homer by Chipper in the bottom of the eleventh.    Atlanta is most definitely not going away -- one way you can tell is that the Phillies are 12-3 in May and the Braves have a better record over the last ten games (the Braves are 8-2, the Phillies 7-3).  The Phillies are two behind the Mets and 2 1/2 ahead of the Braves.  Marlins and Nats are 24-54 combined. 

Cole Hamels and lefty Dana Eveland this afternoon.

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