Cold beer here
May 26 2006

MIL 24-23 237 5.04 275 344 470 20 10
PHI 24-22 225 4.89 261 338 437 24 11
MIL 413.2 251 5.34 410 173 327 4.94 1.41
PHI 412.2 230 5.00 451 154 313 4.47 1.47

The Phillies were on a tremendous roll when they went into Milwaukee last Tuesday for the first of a three game set with the Brewers.  They were 12-1 in May and coming off of a sweep of the hot Cincinnati Reds.  Something went dreadfully wrong as Milwaukee swept the series and the Phillies haven't gotten back on track since.

The something that went dreadfully wrong in Milwaukee was the Phillies bullpen.  The Phils lost each game by just one run with a bullpen pitcher taking the loss in each game.  In the first game Franklin threw the ball away at third.  In the second the pen gave up six hits, two walks and three runs in 3 1/3 innings and Geoff Jenkins finally won it with a walkoff single to the base of the wall off of Rhodes in the bottom of the ninth.  The Phillies led 4-1 late in the third game but Cole Hamels faltered in the seventh and Madson couldn't bail him out.

Milwaukee is in Philadelphia for three games starting tonight.  The Phillies could really use a rainout.  It would keep them from having to pitch Floyd on three days rest tomorrow and bring us closer to the return of the injured guys.  Except for Madson, the pen didn't get a ton of work in New York, but every extra day helps, especially with this string of 20 games in 20 days.

The Brewers have made some moves in the last week, mostly around their relief pitching.  Righty reliver Justin Lehr was designated for assignment and fellow righty Chris Demaria was sent down to Triple-A.  They brought up righties Carlos Villanueva from Double-A, whose time with the team is likely to be brief, and an early candidate for player with the best name of the year, Joe Winklesas.  Winklesas is 32 and had retired briefly 2004.  Villanueva is 22 and struck out 52 in 53 2/3 innings in his first eight starts at Double-A with a 3.55 ERA.  He'll reliever for the Brewers and has been in just one game so far.

JJ Hardy suffered an ankle injury in the first game of the series with the Phillies last week.  He'll be out about six weeks and it likely means more of Bill Hall in this series for the Phillies.  The Brewers called up Corey Hart from Triple-A but he's gotten just four at-bats since the callup. 

The Brewers have lost four of six since sweeping the Phillies, losing two of three to both the Twins and the Reds.  They continue to lead the NL in home runs with 67.  They hit just two in the last series against the Phillies, one of which was Chad Moeller's unlikely two-run shot off of Hamels.  They are second in the NL in doubles.

Milwaukee pitchers have the NL's second worst ERA at 4.94.  Opponents are hitting .280 against Phillies pitchers, which is also second worst in the league.

It looks as if some of the Milwaukee bats may be slowing down a little.  Geoff Jenkins absolutely killed the Phillies the last time they met but is just 1-for-his-last-13.  Carlos Lee had a huge start to the season, posting a 297/414/648 line in April but is at just 250/308/538 in 80 May at-bats.  Fielder (344/400/552 in April, 295/333/513 in May) and Hall (323/386/710 in April but 244/280/526 in May) have also cooled.

The Brewers are still having problems with their rotation.  Ben Sheets is still on the DL and three weeks seems to be the most optimistic possibility.  Tomo Ohka isn't likely to be back before June.  It makes for a lot of starts for guys like Dana Eveland and Ben Hendrickson (who the Brewers have sent down to Triple-A) and leaves Capuano, Davis and Bush to carry most of the load.

The Phillies, meanwhile, have oodles of problems of their own.  They come into the series having won just two of their last eight.  Their rotation is a mess with Hamels on the DL.  Madson will return for a start in the series -- the three guys starting against the Brewers for the Phillies have allowed opponents to hit .285 (Lidle), .292 (Floyd) and .341 (Madson) against them this season. 

The Phillies should get Aaron Rowand back tomorrow, which will be a huge boost for the team.  It's not going to fix the pitching, though.  It should be interesting to see what the Phillies do with their lineup tonight, especially in the leadoff spot, against lefty Capuano.  People seem to be going a little ga-ga over Victorino in the leadoff spot, but I expect he'll be out of the lineup completely after tonight.  For the season he is 1-for-9 in the two games he hit leadoff with a .200 OBP.  For his career he's 2-for-31 with a .186 OBP while batting leadoff.  I'd like to see him there again tonight, but I think Rollins will get the job back starting on Saturday at the latest.  Charlie Manuel has made it pretty clear we're unlikely to see Abreu as the leadoff hitter -- I think that makes sense against righties where his power numbers are very good.  The Phillies should consider leading him off against lefties, however, where his power numbers take a big drop but he has gotten on-base reliably over his career.

Here's a look at the pitching matchups for the series:

Cory Lidle (4-4, 4.80) goes against lefty Chris Capuano (5-3, 2.78).  Capuano is tough.  His 2.78 ERA is sixth best in the National League and he's allowed just 57 hits in 60 innings while walking 16.  He still has the best numbers for any lefty starter in the league other than Glavine.  He pitched the first game of the series last week two and held the Phillies to two runs on six hits and a walk in seven innings.  He won 18 games last year with numbers worse than what he's put up so far this season -- he pitched to a 1.38 ratio in 2005, in 2006 his ratio is 1.07.  He's had one start since pitching against the Phils last Tuesday.  On Sunday he beat the Twinkies, allowing two earned runs in seven innings.  Tonight will be the first time the Phillies faced a lefty since DiNardo on Sunday.  Cory Lidle pitched Sunday's game against Boston and got the win, giving up three earned runs in six innings.  He gave up two home runs in that start for the first time this season.  Lidle has been really solid in his last two starts since getting bombed by the Mets on May 10.  He's allowed just ten hits in his last 12 innings while striking out ten.

Gavin Floyd (4-2, 6.07) and righty David Bush (3-5, 5.06) go tomorrow night.  The Phillies hit Bush pretty hard when the faced him last Wednesday, getting a two-run homer from Dellucci and putting up four runs in six innings.  Bush followed up that start by getting bombed in Cincinnati on Monday, giving up seven earned runs in four innings.  He allowed seven hits, two of which were homers, and three walks.  Curiously, a month earlier he had thrown a complete game, four-hit shutout against the same Reds team, which may saw something about what happens when teams see him twice.  I wouldn't be surprised if Dellucci got another start against Bush on Saturday night.  We should all be pretty worried about Floyd.  In his last two starts he's thrown 10 1/3 innings and allowed ten earned runs on 11 hits and five walks.  On the season he's allowed ten home runs and walked 26 in 46 innings.  It's getting close to time to fire up Plan B.  Or C or wherever the Phillies are at now.  This start may be extra-tough for him -- this team just saw him a week ago, pounding him for five runs in 5 1/3 innings last Wednesday, and he will be working on three days rest.  He pitched just five innings on Tuesday but needed 101 pitches to do it.  This is another of the reasons I would have brought somebody up from Triple-A, probably Brito, rather than returning Madson to the rotation when Hamels went on the DL.

Ryan Madson (4-3, 5.98) gets lefty Dana Eveland (0-1, 8.22) on Sunday afternoon.  This could be a long one.  Opponents are hitting .341 against Madson, .333 against Eveland.  Eveland's made just three starts on the season and allowed at least four earned runs in each of them without going more than 5 2/3 innings.  The Phillies managed seven hits and four walks against him last Thursday, although Eveland did strike out six.  He's had one start since then, he gave up four runs in  4 2/3 innings Tuesday against the Reds, taking the loss.  His numbers are really bad, 22 hits, nine walks and three home runs in 15 1/3 innings.  Madson is back in the rotation for the final game of the series.  So far this year opponents are hitting .371 against him as a starter and .237 as a reliever.  His last start came on May 6 against the Giants and he went six innings, allowing just one run but allowing eight hits and four walks.  He was tremendous in the 16 inning game with the Mets, holding New York scoreless for seven innings in relief before giving up a home run to Beltran to lead off the bottom of the sixteenth.

The matchups for the first two games are identical to the matchups from the previous series.  Last week game three featured Hamels versus Eveland, on Sunday it will be Madson against Eveland.

The Phillies get two lefties in the series, which is tough on a team that has three of its four best hitters batting left-handed.  Rowand should be back in time to help against the second.

Who are you and what have you done with our manager?
May 25 2006

Timothy Leary said it best, "You're only as old as the last time you changed your mind."  They might kick Charlie Manuel right out of the crotchety old men club for guys afraid of change.  He changed the way the Phillies do business not once but twice today, coming up huge as he moved Jimmy Rollins out of the leadoff spot and brought in his closer in the eighth inning.

The Phillies beat the Mets 5-3 to improve their record to 24-22 on the season. 

Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies.  He went seven innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks.  Three hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and a three-run homer.  It was the first of his five May starts in which he allowed more than two earned runs.  He allowed just one hit and no runs in his last four innings of work.   

Myers worked around a leadoff double by Reyes in the first.  The Phillies got off to an early 3-0 lead, but the Mets tied up the game in the second.  Floyd led off with a double, Nady singled and Floyd went to third.  Matsui struck out and the pitcher Gonzalez bunted, advancing Nady to second.  Jose Reyes followed with a three-run homer that tied the game 3-3.  Myers kept the Mets off the board in the third and fourth innings

Myers got help from Shane Victorino who made a terrific catch to rob Beltran of a hit to leadoff the bottom of the fifth.  It helped, because Delgado followed and walked but Myers struck out Wright and Floyd to escape damage.  He started the sixth inning having thrown 101 pitches and needed just six pitches to retire the bottom third of the Mets order.  The Mets were apparently returning the favor after the Phillies forced Jeremi Gonzalez to throw just six pitches in the top of the inning.  That is awful. 

Myers got the Mets 1-2-3 in the seventh.  The Phillies pinch hit for him in the top of the eighth and Arthur Rhodes came in to pitch the bottom of the inning.  Rhodes got the first two and walked Floyd and then, with righty Kaz Matsui at the plate, Manuel changed his MO and brought in Tom Gordon.

Gordon, no doubt stunned, walked Nady on four pitches.  Kaz Matsui followed and grounded out to Gordon.

In the ninth Flash gave up a leadoff walk to Endy Chavez before Reyes hit a ground ball that forced Chavez at second.  Reyes went to second on a wild pitch before LoDuca grounded out, moving Reyes to third.  Gordon then struck out Carlos Beltran to end the game, earning his 14th save.  It was just the second game he had been in since May 14.

Against the righty Jeremi Gonzalez the Phillies lineup went (1) Victorino (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Rollins (7) Bell (8) Ruiz.  In 2005, Rollins got eight at-bats anywhere other than the leadoff spot.  So far in 2006 he has six.

The Phillies jumped all over Gonzalez in the first inning, getting a two-run home run from Abreu and a solo shot from Howard.  In his first appearance of the year in the six-hole, Rollins swung at the first pitch and flew out to left-center.  The Phillies scored at least two runs in the first inning in each of the three games of the series. 

Then the Phillies settled in for their customary post first-inning nap.

In the third inning the Phillies got their first two men, Victorino and Utley, on with singles before Abreu smashed a line drive to second base. Victorino was doubled off of second came away empty in the inning. 

The Phillies got their first two men on in the fifth as well.  Utley singled and Abreu walked.  Burrell fouled out to third, Howard grounded out to first and Rollins flied out to Reyes in short left.

The wake-up call came in the seventh.  Victorino led off with a walk and Utley followed with a double that scored Victorino to put the Phillies up 4-3.  Utley went to third on the throw home.  The double came off of lefty Pedro Feliciano -- for Utley it was just his second extra-base hit against a lefty on the season.  With Utley on third and one out, Abreu struck out.  Righty Heath Bell came in to face Burrell, who had homered off of Feliciano the night before.  Burrell walked.  Howard followed with a single that scored Utley and sent Burrell to third and made it 5-3.  Rollins followed Howard and grounded into a double-play.

Victorino did a nice job in the leadoff spot, getting on base twice, after going 0-for-5 with two strikeouts in his only other appearance there this season.  He was 1-for-4 with a walk.

Utley had a big game, going 4-for-5 with an RBI.  He's 11-for-his-last-20 and hitting .328.

Abreu was 1-for-3 with two walks and a big two-run homer in the first.  Burrell was 0-for-3 and walked twice. 

Howard was 2-for-4 with his fifteenth homer and the RBI-single in the seventh. 

Rollins was 0-for-4 and left four men on-base.  We'll have to wait and see what the Phillies do with their leadoff man.  I expect Jimmy will be back up there soon -- Victorino won't be in the lineup after Rowand returns this weekend.

Bell 0-for-2 with two walks and Ruiz had a single in three at-bats to raise his average to .156.

The Phillies start a three game series with the Brewers tomorrow in Philadelphia.

It's like 10,000 spoons when all you need is someone to get a hit with ducks aboard every now and then
May 25 2006

The miserable stretch for the Phillies continued last night as they dropped their second straight one-run game to the Mets.

The last two days have seen a flurry of activity.

Yesterday the Mets traded reliever Jorge Julio for forty-something right-handed starting pitcher Orlando Hernandez.  El Duque had gotten nine starts for the Arizona Diamondbacks, going 2-4 with a 6.11 ERA.  Opponents are hitting .292 against him and he's walked 20 in 58 2/3 inninngs.  He left his May 16 start in San Diego with a strained back but didn't seem to have any problems on Monday as he held the Pirates to one run in seven innings while striking out nine.  He was with the White Sox in 2005, going 9-9 with a 5.12 ERA.  He was solid with the Yankees in 2004, going 8-2 with a 3.30 ERA.

He does bring tremendous post-season experience, having thrown 106 post-season innings with a 2.55 ERA.  He's allowed just 77 hits and struck out 107.  In an irony Alanis Morisette would no doubt find compelling, the Mets aren't going to get to the post-season and utilize his experience unless they get someone else to take his spot in the rotation.  It's like rain on your wedding day.  Kinda.  It seems like a mistake that the Mets haven't let Heilman join the rotation, instead choosing to go with Jose Lima, Jeremi Gonzalez and the like.  I'd be surprised if Hernandez turns out to be the answer and I expect they'll have to put Heilman in the rotation eventually -- when they do they may wish they had Julio back.

The Phillies, meanwhile, put Cole Hamels on the 15-day DL with a shoulder strain.  He will be eligible to return on June 3.  Hamels made two starts for the Phillies, throwing 92 and 106 pitches.  I wish they had taken him out a little earlier in his second start but neither pitch count seems excessive.  He did throw 114 pitches in one start at Triple-A.  They could have brought him up as a reliever rather than a starter but that hasn't been the way the organization has done it for a while.

The Phillies will give Madson the vacant spot in the rotation, which seems for all the world to be a really bad idea given that he just lost his spot due to an inability to get people out.  It also means more long outings for Aaron Fultz as Madson is a perfect long man out of the pen and Fultz isn't. It looks like Madson's next start will come on Sunday against the Brewers.  Hopefully Madson can build on his tremendous performance from Tuesday night's game.  As a starter he had a 6.82 ERA.  Gavin Floyd's hold on his rotation spot seems like it at least should be tenuous, if Madson can put together some solid starts he may have a chance to stick around.  I would have left Madson in the pen and called up Eude Brito, who is 4-2 with a 3.26 ERA at Triple-A.  Brito did have a bad outing on Sunday, giving up five earned runs in just four innings, including a three-run homer to Pawtucket first baseman and likely soon to be again major leaguer Hee-Seop Choi.

The Phillies recalled Clay Condrey from Triple-A.  Condrey has allowed just 11 hits in 24 2/3 innings at Triple-A while posting a 1.09 ERA.  He was up with the Phillies earlier this season, at the end of April and start of May.  He appeared in three games, allowing one run on four hits in two innings with a 4.50 ERA.

Last night the Phillies lost to the Mets 5-4.  The loss drops their record to 23-22.  It was their seventh loss in eight games and they are 0-4 in their last four one run games.

Jon Lieber got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing four earned runs on seven hits and an unlikely four walks.  He gave up three extra-base hits, two home runs and a triple to Jose Reyes that looked catchable in right field but eluded Abreu.  Lieber threw 113 pitches, his high for the season.

The Phillies jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first but the Mets got one back in the bottom of the inning on, and stop me if you've heard this one before, a solo home run by Carlos Beltran. 

In the bottom of the third, with the Phillies still up 3-1, Lieber struck out the first two batters before, and stop me if you've heard this one before, David Wright hit a solo homer.  The Mets then singled and walked to make it first and second with two outs before Chris Woodard singled in the run that tied the game at 3-3.  After giving up three home runs in his last start to Boston, Lieber has allowed five in his last two starts. 

In the first two games of the series, Beltran and Wright have combined to go 10-for-22 with four home runs and six RBI.

The Mets pulled ahead 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth.  With one out Jose Reyes hit a ball to right field that looked like it could have been caught by Abreu but went for a triple.  The range of the Phillies corner outfielders, particularly Burrell, is not good.  Victorino seems solid in center but the team is really missing the defense of Rowand, who is better than solid.  Reyes came in on a sac fly from Jose Valentin.

The Phillies tied the game at 4-4 in the seventh and Cormier came in for Lieber to start the bottom of the inning.  Things did not go well.  After getting the first man, Cormier allowed three straight singles, to Beltran, Delgado and Wright.  Wright's single scored Beltran and made it 5-4.  Cormier got lefty Cliff Floyd to fly out and it was first and second with two outs.  Kudos to Manuel, who brought in a reliever in the middle of the inning when he so often does not do so.  Franklin came in to face righty Ramon Castro and hit him with a pitch to load the bases but struck out Julio Franco to end the inning and keep the score 5-4. 

Cormier seems pretty much uninterested in talking about the cortisone shot he got on Monday that kept him out of Tuesday's sixteen inning marathon.  After not being charged with a run in his first fifteen appearances, Cormier has been charged with runs in two of his last three outings, giving up five hits and a walk in 2 1/3 innings.

Fultz pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two.  He has logged the most innings in the Phillies pen due to the insistence to use him in long relief when he's really just a guy who can get out lefties.  He's on pace to throw 94 innings this year, his career high is 72 1/3.  He might be able to be a long relief guy if he could get both righties and lefties like he did last year -- this year righties are hitting him hard as they have throughout most of his career.  Madson is much better suited for the role -- it looked like he took it over but now he's back in the rotation, meaning more 61 pitch outings for Fultz may be in the works.

The Phillies lineup against righty Alay Soler went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Victorino (7) Bell and (8) Fasano.  Same as the previous game against the righty Trachsel.  Fasano started at catcher after playing fourteen innings the night before.

Soler had huge problems early in his debut.  He walked the first three batters before Burrell singled to make it 1-0 with the bases loaded and nobody out.  Ryan Howard hit a double-play ball to Chris Woodward at second that went through his legs.  Two runs scored and it was first and second with nobody out and the Phillies up 3-0.  And that was just about it for the Phillies offense on the night.   Victorino struck out, Bell flew out and Fasano struck out and the Phillies were pretty much done. 

The Mets tried to go through the Phillies four good hitters in the seventh with a single lefty, Pedro Feliciano, and it didn't work.  He struck out Utley and Abreu but Burrell homered off of him before he got Abreu to line out.  Utley's power numbers against lefties are still awful, one extra-base hit, a double, in 55 at-bats.  He's slugging .273 against them.

Burrell's homer was his 12th of the year.  He was 2-for-4 on the day and drove in all of the Phillies runs that didn't score on the Woodward error.  All four of the Phillies big four hitters are in the top 20 in the NL in OPS and Burrell leads the group at .974, seventh best in the NL.  The Phillies offense is ninth in the NL in runs.

Howard was 1-for-4 with an RBI on his double-play ground ball that wasn't.  He's on-basing .298 in May and is 5-for-his-last-24. 

Rollins went 1-for-4 with a walk.  He looks absolutely terrible but has hit in five straight and drawn at least one walk in each of his last three games.  Take a look at Utley's numbers to see how things have gone for Rollins lately --  Utley is 7-for-his-last-15 with 0 RBI.

Abreu 0-for-4 with a walk. 

Victorino was 1-for-4 but had a big at-bat in the first when he was called out on strikes for the first out by the struggling Soler.  Bell was 0-for-3 after the big day yesterday.

Fasano was 1-for-3 and really looks like he needs a break.  The Phillies need Mike Lieberthal back -- it won't be till this weekend at the earliest but I'm worried it could be even longer than that.  Ruiz hasn't looked formidable at the plate but he seems sure to be out there today in a day game after a night game.  Fasano has one extra-base hit in his last 43 at-bats

Elsewhere, the Braves beat the Padres 10-6 and are now tied with the Phillies for second place in the NL East after going 7-3 in their last ten games.  The Marlins have won three straight and the Nationals two in a row.  The Nationals lead the Marlins by three games and are six behind the Phils and Atlanta.

Brett Myers and Jeremi Gonzalez this afternoon.

Sweet sixteen and never scored a run in like four and a half hours
May 24 2006

That game was so ugly that when it was born the doctor slapped its mother.  The Phillies are really struggling, having lost six of their last seven games and falling to just two games above .500.  A lot of the recent games have been hard to watch, but usually it doesn't take five and a half hours.

The Phillies lost to the Mets 9-8 in sixteen innings last night.  The loss drops their record on the season to 23-21.

Gavin Floyd started for the Phillies and did not have good outing.  He allowed five earned runs in five innings on seven hits and three walks.  Four of the seven hits he allowed went for extra-bases -- two doubles and two home runs.  When he left the game, it looked like it might be good enough to get the win.  Ha.

The Mets got a run in the second on a solo home run by David Wright and another solo shot in the fourth from Cliff Floyd to make the score 2-2.  The Phillies scored four times in the top of the fifth to pull ahead 6-2 and things looked just fine.

In the bottom of the fifth, the first batter singled and Floyd walked the next man.  He then got the next two and it was first and third with two outs.  Beltran hit a ball to first, which Howard did not play well.  The runner from third scored to make it 6-3.  The next batter walked to load the bases but then Floyd came up big, striking out David Wright to end the inning.

Floyd started the sixth and gave up back-to-back doubles, which made the score 6-4.  Aaron Fultz came in and got Endy Chavez on a tremendous play by Sal Fasano, diving to catch a bunt attempt in foul territory, before giving up a double to pinch hitter Julio Franco, which brought the score to 6-5.  Fultz got Reyes on a ground out and was replaced by Geary.  Geary got the only man he faced to end the inning.

Here's what Floyd has done in his last two sixth innings:  Last night -- double, double, out for reliever.  May 17 against the Brewers he started the sixth with a 4-1 lead:  double, single, double, walk, ground out, out for reliever.

The Phillies scored two in the top of the seventh and pulled ahead 8-5.  Rhodes pitched a perfect seventh for the Phillies in violation of the here before thought to be written in stone rule that the thou-shalt-not-pitch-Rhodes-except in the eighth inning.  He did face the heart of the Mets order, Beltran, Delgado and Wright, which may tell us something about how comfortable Manuel feels with Ryan Franklin.

The Mets scored three against Franklin in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game.  Franklin got the first two but the Phillies failed to get Endy Chavez on another poor play from Ryan Howard at first, which kept the inning alive.  Chris Woodward followed with a double that scored Chavez and Jose Reyes hit a two-run homer to tie the game at 8-8.

Ryan Madson came in and was brilliant.  He pitched seven scoreless innings, giving the Phillies chance after chance to pull ahead but they couldn't do it.  In the bottom of the sixteenth he gave up a leadoff home run to Carlos Beltran, which won the game for the Mets 9-8.  Madson went seven innings, allowing one run on four hits and four walks while striking out six.  His outing was tremendous -- in his six starts with the Phillies he threw seven innings just once.

Cormier and Gordon never pitched for the Phillies.  Cormier was not available after receiving a shoulder injection.  It was a mistake not to use Gordon.  The Phillies twice let Madson hit for himself with bench players available, one of who, Coste, never got into the game.  The Phillies let Madson lead off the fifteenth with bench players available and Gordon in the pen.  It was a bad play regardless of what happened -- Madson struck out and the batter behind him singled.

The Phillies pitching is in a lot of trouble.  Last night started a string of twenty games in twenty days and it started with a sixteen inning game.  Hamels is a scratch today, which isn't what you're looking for from your 22-year old stud pitching prospect.  I expect the Phillies will not take any chances with Hamels and either put him on the DL or send him down -- either way I'd be surprised if he's pitching anytime soon.  If Hamels is off the active roster I think the choices for the Phillies are to either put Madson or Franklin into the rotation or call up Eude Brito from Triple-A.  I would call up Brito. 

The Phillies lineup against righty Steve Trachsel went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Victorino (7) Bell (8) Fasano.  The previous time the Phillies faced a righty, Josh Beckett on Saturday, Howard hit cleanup and Burrell hit fifth.  This continues to fluctuate in recent games after looking stable while Rowand was healthy.

The Phillies got two runs in the top of the first on a Burrell RBI-single and a sac fly from Howard.  Burrell was 2-for-3 with two walks on the day but missed a lot of the game when he was removed for pinch runner Chris Roberson in the top of the ninth after Burrell led off with a single.  Burrell really can't move very well and he was the go-ahead run but it hurt a lot to have his bat out of the lineup.  Roberson was 0-for-3 after coming on in the ninth and is just 1-for-12 on the year.  It sounds as if Rowand may come back sooner than Lieberthal, maybe as early as Saturday when he is eligible to return from the DL, which will mean another roster move for the Phillies.  I think it would make sense to send Roberson down and keep Coste up -- I don't think they need six outfielders.  But if they're going to continue to let pitchers lead off an inning in extra-innings in a tie game rather than use Coste they better get him off the team really, really fast. 

Howard had a bad game.  He was 0-for-4 with two walks, striking out four times.  His defense was terrible.  In his first 500 at-bats in the major leagues he looks like he may turn out to be an elite hitter but he has really hurt the team with his glove several times.  His worst moment at the plate came early in the game.  In the third inning the Phillies loaded the bases with nobody out.  Howard got ahead 1-0 and swung at three straight pitches out of the zone, striking out.  The Phillies were kept off the board when Victorino followed and dribbled out to Trachsel and Bell flied to center.

The Phillies got a four-run fifth, which made it seem like they had the game in hand at 6-2.  With two outs, Burrell walked, Howard walked, Victorino hit an RBI-single and Bell followed with a three-run homer.  Bell had another huge hit in the seventh, a two-run double that scored  Howard and Victorino and put the Phillies up 8-5.  Bell ended the game 2-for-5 with five RBI.  He left six men on base.

Rollins was 1-for-7 with a walk.  He's really struggling in May, hitting .210 and on-basing .297, but came into the game looking ready to bust out of it, 4-for-his-last-12.

Utley 3-for-6 with a walk.  Abreu 1-for-7 with a walk.  Victorino was 2-for-6 with a walk.

Fasano went 1-for-7 but made several very good defensive plays.  He made an amazing diving catch to get Chavez on a foul ball bunt attempt.  In the third he did a great job backing up first, saving a base when Bell's throw from third went wild.  In the bottom of the eleventh he made a strong throw to second on a Beltran steal and the Phillies got the out when Beltran slid past the bag.  David Wright followed with a single that would have ended the game if Beltran had been safe.

Elsewhere, the Braves fell to San Diego 2-1 as Padres rookie Mike Thompson held them to four hits over seven innings.  The Braves are 23-23, in third place in the NL East and one game behind the Phillies.  The Nationals and the Marlins are 30-60 combined. 

Jon Lieber and Alay Soler tonight.

And you thought the worst thing that happened last night was that miserable game
May 24 2006

Cole Hamels will not start tonight against the Mets after experiencing shoulder pain while playing catch on Tuesday.  Jon Lieber will start for the Phillies in his place and Brett Myers will start on Thursday. 

Read all about it.

Click here to continue viewing posts in chronological order