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The return of the king
June 7 2006

Cole Hamels is a special player.  This has already been demonstrated in a lot of ways and here's another: Last last night with two outs and nobody on in the first inning, Jimmy Rollins made a nice play on a Conor Jackson ground ball, ranging to his left and making a strong throw to retire Jackson and end the inning.  I, like thousands of other Phillies fans I expect, had the same reaction -- nice play, J-Roll, you saved the no-hitter.  And that's a strange reaction in the first inning of a game when your pitcher is a guy who has thrown 12 1/3 inning in his career.

The Phillies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 10-1 last night to improve to 31-27 on the season.  They have won three straight. 

The Phillies activated Cole Hamels prior to last night's game, sending reliever Brian Sanches back to Triple-A.  Sanches appeared in two games with the Phillies, throwing three scoreless innings without allowing a hit.

Hamels got the start in last night's game and was very good.  He got his first career win, throwing 5 2/3 innings and allowing one run on three hits and two walks. 

In his third career start, Hamels was perfect through three innings.  In the top of the fourth, Eric Byrnes led off with a bloop to left that Pat Burrell ran a long way to catch for the out.  Burrell looked much better on that play than he has for most of the year, I don't remember him running that well.  Hopefully the problems he's having with his foot are getting better.  Chad Tracy followed Byrnes and hit a long drive to center field that Rowand chased down, making another fabulous play that we have seen so often from him.  Conor Jackson followed with a bloop single that was the first Diamondbacks hit of the day, but Hamels got Luis Gonzalez to end the inning. 

The Phillies were up 3-0 in the fifth and Hamels kept Arizona off the board again, giving up a two-out double.  Through five innings he had allowed two hits and both had come with two outs.

Up 6-0 in the sixth, Hamels finally got into some trouble.  He gave up a single and two walks to load the bases with nobody out before Jackson hit a sac fly to make the score 6-1.  Luis Gonzalez followed and grounded out to Hamels and the runners stayed at second and third with two outs.  With righty Damion Easley up, Manuel called on Geoff Geary who got Easley to foul out and end the inning.  This was a great time to take Hamels out against the righty.  Manuel got him out having thrown just 90 pitches.  Hamels has thrown just 17 innings on the season, but the next time a lefty gets a hit off of him will be the first -- righties are hitting .237 against him and lefties .000.

The pen shut the Diamondbacks down for the next three innings.

Geoff Geary pitched the seventh, allowing a single to Orlando Hudson but no runs.  He has allowed two earned runs in his last 17 2/3 innings.

Cormier pitched a perfect eighth to lower his ERA to 0.89.

Ryan Franklin pitched a perfect ninth.

Russ Ortiz was forced to start a day earlier than expected when Juan Cruz came up with a shoulder problem.  The Phillies lineup against the righty went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Rowand (7) Bell (8) Fasano.  Mike Lieberthal likely would not have played anyway, but left Monday's game with a hip problem.  An article on the Phillies web site makes it sound as if the hip strain might be significant -- it says Lieberthal couldn't swing a bat yesterday, which doesn't sound promising.

Ortiz struggled horribly in the first inning, throwing 41 pitches, but the Phillies couldn't knock him out of the game and wound up with only two runs.  With two outs and Utley on first, Burrell homered.  He has been in an awful slump and it was his first home run since May 26.  The Phillies loaded the bases after the home run, on a Howard double and two walks, but Fasano struck out to end the inning. 

Ortiz settled down after the very shaky first inning and went into the top of the fifth still down 2-0.  It's pretty hard to kill your team with your defense as a first baseman, but Conor Jackson sure has hurt the Diamondbacks in the first two games of this series.  In the fifth, with one out and Utley on first, Abreu hit a hard ground ball to Jackson, who made a bad throw to second and the Diamondbacks only got one out on the play.  Burrell and Howard followed with singles, which brought in Abreu to make the score 3-0. 

The Phillies extended their lead in the sixth.  With two outs, Hamels walked, Rollins singled and Utley reached on an error by Conor Jackson, which allowed Hamels to score and made the score 4-0.  The Phillies wound up with runners on second and third.  Bobby Abreu singled to bring them both in and it was 6-0 before Burrell struck out to end the inning.

Sal Fasano led off the eighth inning with his second homer of the year to make the score 7-1.  Fasano is on-basing .455 against lefties and an ugly .246 against righties.  Last night's homer came off of Kevin Jarvis and both this year have come against righties.

In the top of the ninth the Phillies got a leadoff double from Howard followed by a one-out single from Bell, which brought Howard in to make it 8-1.  With two outs and Bell still on first, Shane Victorino, who had entered the game in left field in the bottom of the eighth inning, hit a two-run homer to make it 10-1.  It was Victorino's first hit since May 26, which was the last day he played regularly with Rowand out.    He's just 1-for-8 since then.

Rollins was 1-for-6 and struck out three times.  In all of April, Rollins struck out seven times in 97 at-bats, in May, nine times in 115 at-bats, so far in June he's struck out eight times in 29 at-bats.

Utley was 0-for-3 with two walks.  Abreu 1-for-4 with a walk and two RBI.

Burrell was 2-for-5 with the home run but struck out three times.  Howard was 3-for-4 with a walk and two doubles.  Rowand was 0-for-4 with a walk, he's 5-for-his-last-23 (.217).

Bell was 1-for-4 with a walk.  Fasano 1-for-5 with the solo homer and three strikeouts.

The teams finish up the series this afternoon.  Ryan Madson goes for the Phillies.  The Diamondbacks put Juan Cruz on the DL and it looks like they will go with 25-year-old righty Justin Nippert this afternoon.  Nippert was 7-1 with a 3.47 ERA at Triple-A.  In 57 innings he allowed 54 hits but walked 25.  He went 1-0 in three starts for the Snakes last year, posting a 5.52 ERA while walking 13 in 14 2/3 innings.  Take.

The Phillies are on a roll.  The problem is, with their current rotation it's going to be really tough to string together a long series of wins.  The bullpen has been tremendous of late, but it's been pitching too much.  The Phillies need Madson to give them a break today, which is something he hasn't been able to do much this year.  Look for an odd Phillies lineup today -- I wouldn't be surprised to see Dellucci in left or even Coste behind the plate after the Phillies won the first two in the series.

How soon can you start?
June 6 2006

Well, if you're gonna take a high school pitcher in the first round it might as we be someone surrounded in mystery.

The Phillies selected right-handed pitcher Kyle Drabek with the 18th pick of the first round of today's First-Year Player Draft.  Drabek attended the Woodlands High School in Texas and is coming off of a no-hitter in the state playoffs.  According to an article you can read here, in his no-hitter Drabek struck out 19 batters and only two balls were hit in fair territory.  In 16 starts this season he struck out 155 in 77 innings with an 0.82 ERA.

It's pretty hard to find any mention of Drabek that doesn't explain that his makeup caused him to fall in the draft.  The people who know exactly what this means seem to be elusive and silent.  Quoting from an article from the Dallas Morning News, which you can read here, "Drabek has alienated some teams with what a National League scouting director called 'a strong sense of entitlement.'"  I can't wait to see Drabek and Hamels go head-to-head in a sense of entitlement showdown.

Kyle is the son of right-handed pitcher Doug Drabek.  Doug Drabeck went 155-134 with a 3.73 career ERA in 13 seasons.  He won the NL Cy Young award in 1990 with the Pirates, going 22-6 with a 2.76 ERA.

The Phillies slip through Brandon's web
June 6 2006

This was one for all of those who say the Phillies have no heart.  Down 3-0 in the third against one of the league's best pitchers, and with all hope having seemingly left the building, the Phillies hitters figured out a way to get it done.  After a rocky start, Cory Lidle and the surging pen battled to shutdown the Diamondbacks for the last six innings innings of the game.  Together it was enough to get a win.

The Phillies beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 last night to improve to 30-27 on the season. 

Cory Lidle got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing three earned runs on eight hits and a walk.  Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a triple.

Lidle kept Arizona scoreless in the bottom of the first with the help of two nice plays on ground balls, one by Rollins and one by Utley.  It was a tight game all the way and the infielders did a nice job of helping Lidle keep the Snakes off the board in the first.

Lidle couldn't keep them off the board in the second.  With one out he hit Conor Jackson with a pitch and Shawn Green hit a line drive that fell in between Rowand and Abreu for a triple that made it 1-0.  Estrada and Orlando Hudson followed with singles, making it 2-0 with runners on the corners and still just one out.  Lidle got Webb to strike out and Counsell to ground to first to end the inning.

Arizona increased their lead in the third.  With one out, Chad Tracy singled and Luis Gonzalez doubled to make it second and third with one out.  Conor Jackson hit a ball to short and the Phillies took the out at first as Tracy scored to make it 3-0.  I don't know if there was any thought to playing the infield in with Webb on the mound, but Lidle had given up five hits in 2 1/3 and been helped out by two nice defensive plays already so I'm guessing the Phillies were pleased to get an out at that point.  Lidle got Shawn Green to ground out to end the inning.

Lidle gave up two singles sandwiched around a double-play in the fourth and kept the score at 3-0.  The Diamondbacks went 1-2-3 in the fifth.  In the bottom of the sixth, after the Phillies had gotten two in the top of the inning to make the score 3-2, Webb came up with two outs and runners on second and third but Lidle struck him out to end the inning.

The Phillies pinch hit for Lidle in the top of the seventh and Aaron Fultz came in to pitch the bottom of the inning.  The Phillies had tied the game 3-3 in the top of the inning and Fultz got the Diamondbacks 1-2-3, striking out two of the batters he faced.  Some kind of investigation is in order around Fultz's strikeout numbers for the season.   He has struck out 36 in 31 1/3.  I still don't understand how the Phillies are using him, he seems to appear pretty much randomly, which I'm sure isn't the case but I don't understand how they view his role.  Lefties are hitting .256 against him so far, righties .344.  Last night he was brought in to face the top of the order, which went Counsell (lefty), Byrnes (righty), Tracy (lefty), so Manuel got him in with the chance to throw to two lefties of the three batters he faced.  Last year Fultz was great against righties, but that has not been the pattern over his career.

The Phillies scored a run in the top of the eighth to pull ahead 4-3 and brought in the guy whose role seems to be set in stone, Arthur Rhodes.  Rhodes gave up two singles and a walk and found himself in a bases loaded jam with two outs.  The Diamondbacks called on pinch hitter Tony Clark, who is hitting just .105 (and slugging .105) against lefties this year.  Rhodes struck him out to end the inning. 

The Phillies still led 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth and called on Flash Gordon.  Gordon went through the top of the Diamondbacks order 1-2-3 to earn his 18th save.  He is tied for the NL lead in saves and opponents are hitting .183 against him.  He's walked eight in 26 innings and has a ratio of 0.96.

The pen was outstanding again, which they have to be if the Phillies are going to beat anyone with this rotation.  Over the last five games, the Phillies pen has gone 17 1/3 innings and allowed four runs (2.08 ERA).

The Phillies went with what has become their standard lineup:  (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Rowand (7) Bell (8) Lieberthal.

The Phillies look poised to jump out early.  Rollins led off the game with a single and stole second and third with an Utley strikeout in between.  Abreu walked to make it first and third with one out but he left too early trying to steal off of Webb and was caught for the second out.  Burrell grounded out to end the inning. 

Nothing in the second but the third started out looking promising.  Lidle led off and hit a routine grounder to second, which Hudson threw to Conor Jackson at first and he didn't catch.  It was very odd looking.  It was a perfect throw, it just bounced off his glove.  Lidle wound up at second with nobody out but Webb struck out Rollins and Utley (for the second time) before, and stop me if you've heard this one before, walking Abreu and getting Burrell to ground out.

The Phillies didn't have a baserunner in the fourth or fifth and went into the sixth down 3-0.  Utley and Abreu led off the inning with singles, so it was first and third with nobody out when Burrell came up and grounded into a double-play.  It scored a run to make the score 3-1 but it had been a wretched day for Pat the Bat, who would get ejected the next inning after striking out.  Ryan Howard followed him hit a solo home run to make the score 3-2.

It was still 3-2 in the top of the seventh when, with two outs and the bases empty, Rollins doubled.  What followed was a tremendous play by Rollins and Utley as Rollins scored on Utley's hustle infield single to second base.  They nearly had Utley at first, but when Jackson looked away after catching the ball Rollins raced home to tie the game at 3-3.  In his defense, Jackson may have been in shock at catching the ball after dropping the routine throw from second in the third.  Rollins was superb on the bases -- in the first he had stolen two bases to get himself to third with one out but the Phillies couldn't bring him in.

The Phillies pulled ahead in the top of the eighth.  With two outs and Rowand on first, Lieberthal hit a double to center to score Rowand and put the Phillies up 4-3.  Lieberthal hurt his hip on the play and had to leave the game.

Rollins had a monster game, hopefully he's on his way out of his awful slump.  He was 2-for-5 and a terror on the bases.

Utley was also 2-for-5 with three strikeouts.  He's 5-for-his-last-10.

Abreu 1-for-2 with three walks and a single.  He's on-basing .545 in the first five games of June but has scored just two runs.  This says a lot about the awful struggles Pat Burrell has been having.  Last night he was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a big GIDP and left six men on base.  He's 1-for-his-last-19 and the one was a bloop fluke.  His average has dropped from .292 after the May 27 game against Milwaukee to .261 after last night's game.  I wouldn't be surprised if the Phillies do something different with their lineup soon to get Howard into the cleanup spot more regularly if Burrell keeps struggling.

Howard was 1-for-4 with the home run.  He's just 3-for-his-last-23 hisownself, two of the three hits were home runs.

Rowand was 1-for-4 with a strikeout.  Bell 1-for-4 and struck out twice.  Bell is 2-for-his-last-13.  Lieberthal 1-for-4 but with maybe his biggest hit of the season.  He's due for a day off even if his hip turns out okay.

A lot of hitters on the Phillies are slumping, most notably Burrell, but Howard, Rowand, Bell and Lieberthal haven't been hitting much of late either.  But the Phillies figured out a way to get it done, with help from another nice outing from the pen.  It was a good win against a very tough pitcher. 

Cory Lidle deserves credit for pitching as well as he did, especially after a start that made it look like it was going to be a long night.  Lidle is just 4-5 with a 4.83 ERA, but his contribution to the team has been much bigger than that.  Right now, he's the guy in the rotation other than Myers who would surprise you if he gave up seven runs in a start.  The fact is, if the organization had a guy that could come up and improve the rotation we would have seen him by now.  They don't.  The last bullets in the gun look to be Franklin and hope for a healthy Lieber, Hamels and Wolf.  Brito will be better than he was in his first start, but that isn't saying a lot. 

Cole Hamels swoops in tonight to start against Juan Cruz.

It's not the heat, it's that Damion Easley homers twice a game
June 5 2006

Team W-L R R/G AVG OBP SLG SB CS
ARI 34-22 304 5.43 277 344 441 30 10
PHI 29-27 277 4.95 258 336 436 30 12
                 
  IP RA RA/G H BB SO ERA Ratio
ARI 499.2 237 4.23 506 176 381 3.96 1.36
PHI 501.2 279 4.98 546 187 378 4.54 1.46

The Phils hop over to Arizona tonight for the first of three with the Diamondbacks.  After splitting four with the Dodgers the Phillies find themselves two games above .500 and in second place in the NL East.  The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, have extended their lead in the NL West to 2 1/2 games over the Dodgers with a four game sweep of the Atlanta Braves.

The Dodgers have arguably been the best offense in the league this far and the Diamondbacks are arguably the second best.  They are second in runs, second in batting average, third in slugging and fourth in on-base percentage.  Their pitchers, led by tonight's starter, Brandon Webb, have allowed the third fewest runs in the league.  The Phillies are sixth in the league in runs scored and just four teams have allowed more runs.  You would think that the teams that have allowed more runs would be all the Whoos in Suckville, but that's not really the case.  The Brewers, Astros, Braves and Cubs have all allowed more runs than the Phillies so far this season.

There isn't a whole lot changed in the 2006 Snakes compared to the '05 team, which went 77-85.  One big change has been the addition of Eric Byrnes, who has been tremendous for the Diamondbacks this year after posting a 226/294/371 line in 412 at-bats last season for the A's, O's and Rockies.  This season, in 170 at-bats he's posted a 318/376/588 line.  His ten home runs tie him for the team lead with Chad Tracy and he's eighth in the NL in slugging at .588.  Take a picture, it'll last longer.

Byrnes plays center field, with an occasional appearance by the better fielding Jeff Davanon, and is joined in the outfield by Luis Gonzalez (272/360/451) and Shawn Green (330/385/454).  Green's average and on-base percentage for the year are both up compared to his recent numbers, but his slugging percentage hasn't come along for the ride.  Gonzalez will be 39 in September and hasn't hit 57 home runs in a season since 2001.  He only hit 30 or more one other time in his career, in 2000 he hit 31.

The don't have an infield that inspires a lot of fear, but they have put up some nice numbers.  First baseman Conor Jackson (291/378/475) and third baseman Chad Tracy (291/344/505) are tied for second on the team in RBI, they each have 33.  The middle of the infield is less impressive, Craig Counsell (292/343/367) plays short and Orlando Hudson (242/312/348) second.  Hudson's numbers are the one guy in the starting eight that look bad at this point, and he's never hit below .268 in a season.  Damion Easley gets some time all over the infield and has been on a tear, he's 6-for-his-last-9 with four home runs and ten RBI.  I expect the Phillies will see him at least until he cools off.

Former Philly Johnny Estrada (307/355/467) does most of the catching. 

The pen is lefty-light.  Hopefully the Phillies can turn that into a big problem for the Diamondbacks.  Jose Valverde and recent Met Jorge Julio are the closers, and it looks like Julio is more likely to get the call these days.  Julio has been good since coming to the Snakes in the El Duque deal.  Valverde has pitched bad enough to lose his job to Julio, which might be a bad sign for the pen overall.  Righties out of the pen are Brandons Lyons and Medders, Luis Vizcaino and Jason Grimsley.  Both Lyons and Medders have ERAs in the mid-threes, but opponents have hit .306 against Medders and just .217 against Lyons.  Vizcaino has been good and Grimsley a little less so.  43-year-old Terry Mullholland is the lefty out of the pen.  He was just activated from the DL on Saturday and I double-doggie dare the Diamondbacks to use him.  Keep an eye on the big Phillies lefties versus the mostly right-handed pen late in games.

Cory Lidle (4-5, 4.86) starts tonight against righty Brandon Webb (8-0, 2.01).  About a quarter of the Diamondbacks' pitching staff is named Brandon, so if that's what you're looking for in a team look no further. The Phillies got Derek Lowe on Thursday and Webb is another extreme ground ball pitcher.  He leads all of baseball in ground outs.  He's also tied for first in the National League with eight wins.  Compared to the other elite starters in the NL, Webb allows many more hits, opponents have hit .255 against him for the season.  He last allowed a run on May 15.  In his last three starts he's thrown 25 scoreless innings, allowing 15 hits and three walks.  Lidle last pitched against the Nationals on Wednesday, taking the loss as he allowed seven hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings.  It's tempting to say that the Phillies have no chance tonight, but I really don't believe that's the case against almost any righty in the league as long as they can put Utley, Howard and Abreu in the lineup.  Let's go with slim.

Cole Hamels (0-0, 3.18) is back tomorrow night and faces righty Juan Cruz (3-3, 4.05).  Cruz has made seven starts on the year and opponents are hitting just .204 against him.  He hasn't allowed a run in his last 13 innings, going 2-0 in his last two starts.  He gave up nine runs in 2/3 of an inning against the Padres on May 17 but otherwise has been very good.  He does walk a lot of batters, 24 in 46 2/3 innings so far this year.  The return of Hamels brings a measure of hope to the rotation.  As in, hopefully he can stay healthy.  He has two starts for the Phillies, both of which were very good in the early innings.  The most recent start, May 18 in Milwaukee, he got hit around a little in the later innings and wound up being charged with four earned runs in 6 1/3 innings.

Ryan Madson (5-3, 6.04) gets righty Russ Ortiz (0-3, 6.91) on Wednesday afternoon.  Ortiz will come off the DL to make the start, he has been out with a strained calf.  He has been awful in four starts this season, giving up 16 hits and 13 walks in 14 1/3 innings.  It's hard to have any confidence in Madson as a starter, he comes off of another bad outing on Friday where he was only able to go five innings and was charged with five runs.  He has eight starts on the year and in them opponents are hitting .351 against him.  The Phillies rotation is weak, and there's an opportunity for him right now to pitch his way into it with good starts while Lieber in on the DL.  Even when Lieber is back, it looks likely that Brito will lose his spot in the rotation unless he can come up with some good performances.  I expect the Phillies will go to Franklin in Madson's spot soon if Ryan can't start putting together some nice outings as a starter.  I don't think he can, which may be okay cause he has been tremendous out of the pen. 

Diamondback blog seekers may want to check out the AZ Snake Pit.

Kemp homerless as Martin, LA, can't dodge Utley and the Phils
June 4 2006

At this point, Phillies fans are pretty familiar with the script when it comes to starting pitching:  try and survive until Myers' turn comes around.  Cory Lidle has been solid enough, but the rest of the rotation just hasn't kept up.  The Phillies are 5-5 in their last ten and not gaining much ground on the suddenly less impressive Mets.  Lieber needs to get healthy.  Hamels needs to come back.  The Phillies need to see if Wolf is going to help them this season.  All of those things will take time.  The other big problem is that it puts an almost unbearable pressure on Myers to come up big in every start.  So far, however, Myers has answered the call.  He did it again today.

The Phillies beat the Dodgers today 6-4 to earn a split in the four game set.  The Phillies record improves to 29-27.

Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies and went 6 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on seven hits and three walks.    Myers allowed just one extra-base hit, a double.  It was his first start in his last seven where he did not allow a home run.

Myers got a lift from the Dodgers, who rested Nomar and Furcal after winning two of the first three games in the series.  He shut the Dodgers down through four innings and went into the bottom of the fifth with a 2-0 lead.

In the fifth, Myers got JD Drew to lead off the inning before Olmedo Saenz doubled to center.  Willy Aybar followed with a single to second base, a soft ball to Utley that looked playable.  Utley was not charged with an error on the play, but had been in the first.  Kenny Lofton led off with a ground ball that Utley threw nowhere near Howard.  Saenz went to third on the Aybar single, so it was first and third with one out.  Joel Guzman followed with a single that made it first and second with one out and runners on first and second.  Myers got Martin on a ground ball that couldn't bring in Aybar and struck out the pitcher Sele to end the inning with the Phillies still up 2-1. 

In the sixth, the first three batters singled to load the bases before Myers got JD Drew to ground into a double-play.  It scored a run to tie the game at 2-2, but Myers got Saenz to fly out to end the inning.  Through six innings Myers had gotten four double-play ground balls.  Two came from Ramon Martinez, playing for Furcal.  Lofton got on to leadoff the first and fourth innings but was followed by a double-play ball by Martinez each time.

The Phillies scored in the top of the seventh to pull ahead 3-2.  Myers started the bottom of the seventh and got the two men before giving up back-to-back walks to make it first and second with two outs and Kenny Lofton up.  Manuel called on Cormier to pitch to Lofton, and Kenny singled to center.  Rowand skied his throw home and was given an error that allowed Lofton to go to second and make it second and third with two outs and the score tied at 3-3.  Cormier walked Ramon Martinez to load the bases and the Phils brought in Geoff Geary.  Geary did a nice job again, retiring Matt Kemp to keep the Phillies out of more trouble on a dribbler he fielded just before it went foul and tagged out Kemp.

The Phillies scored three in the top of the eighth to pull ahead 6-3.  Rhodes pitched the bottom of the eighth, throwing a perfect inning. 

With the score still 6-3, the Phillies called on Flash Gordon in the bottom of the ninth.  He got the first batter before allowing a home run to catcher Russell Martin to make the score 6-4.  Pinch hitter Furcal followed and hit a line drive to right that Abreu made a nice play on to turn into an out.  It was a big play -- if Furcal got on they would have brought the tying run to the plate and they still had Nomar on the bench.  Gordon got Lofton to end the game.

Kemp and Martin combined to hit five home runs in four games against Phillies pitching.

The Phillies gave struggling Pat Burrell the day off against righty Aaron Sele.  The lineup went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Dellucci (7) Bell (8) Lieberthal.  That's a lot of lefties all in a row at 2,3,4, but they smoked a lefty in the eighth inning, which proved to be the biggest of the game for the Phillies.

Jimmy Rollins led off the first with a double and scored when Utley followed with a single to right that JD Drew bobbled, allowing Rollins to score.

In the third, Utley homered to make it 2-0.

In the top of the seventh, Rowand and Dellucci led of the inning with back-to-back doubles, which put the Phillies up 3-2. 

The big inning for the Phillies was the eighth, which started with the score tied 3-3.  Lefty Joe Biemel was on the hill and Rollins led off with a double.  Burrell was on the bench so the next three hitters were lefties.  Utley followed with a bloop double to left, which scored Rollins and made it 4-3.  A single by Abreu made it first and third with nobody out.  The play of the game was coming next:  Howard hit a ground ball to first, which Saenz threw home and Utley absolutely killed Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, plowing him over and scoring to make it 5-3.  A lot of people no doubt think Chase is a little soft, what with being born in Pasadena and the Andrew McCarthy hairdo and whatnot.  I'm guessing Russell Martin isn't one of them.  Rowand bunted, which sent the runners to second and third.  Righty Kuo, just called back up, relieved Biemal and hit pinch-hitter Victorino to load the bases.  Bell followed and hit a groundball up the middle that went of Kuo's glove for a single and brought in a run to make it 6-3.  Lieberthal followed and grounded into a double-play to end the inning.

I hate bunting with Rowand.  It was too bad not to get Burrell an at-bat with all those runners aboard, too, but all's well that ends well.  It's certainly not like he's immune to grounding into double-plays.

If Craig Biggio wins the All-Star voting at second base in the NL, Phillies fans should take to the streets.

Rollins had a really nice game.  2-for-5 with two doubles and two runs.  Utley was a huge 3-for-5 and was 8-for-18 for the series despite an ugly 0-for-5 yesterday.

Abreu 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.  6-for-15 in the series.  Howard 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.  He was just 2-for-15 in the series.

Rowand was 1-for-3 with a big double in the seventh.  Just 4-for-15 in the series.  Dellucci was 1-for-3 with a double.

Bell was 1-for-4 with an RBI but 3-for-13 in the series. 

Lieberthal was 0-for-4 and left another five men on base.  He really struggled in the three games he played in, going just 1-for-13 and leaving 11 men on base.

Elsewhere, the Mets got the first career home run from Lastings Milledge with two outs in the bottom of the tenth to tie the game again, this time at 6-6, but lost 7-6 in 12 innings.  The Braves lost to the Diamondbacks and have dropped four straight.  The Phils are back in second place, 4 1/2 games behind the Mets and 1 1/2 ahead of the Braves. 

The Phililes start a three-game series in Arizona tomorrow night.

Phillies may hire Brito's former teacher to work as scout
June 3 2006

The Phillies fell again to the Dodgers this afternoon, losing for the second time in three games.  The Phillies, and stop me if you've heard this one before, got a wretched performance from a starting pitcher and had to call on their pen to carry a big load.  They also got just two hits on the day, which would make it tough to win no matter who your starting pitcher was.

The Dodgers won today's game 8-2.  The loss drops the Phillies to 28-27.

In the three games in the series, Phillies starters have thrown 13 innings and allowed 18 earned runs (12.46 ERA) while the pen has allowed three earned runs in 12 innings (2.25).  Things are not good with the Phillies rotation but we can all take some solace from one simple fact:  at least there's nobody on our team that does that crazy Nomar Garciaparra batting gloves crap between every pitch.  It has only been three games and it's all I can take.  And yes, I know there's a Mia Hamm joke there just waiting to be loosed on the world, but I'm going to lay up for the betterment of all.  I'm doing my part to bring a little common human decency to this operation.  Let's show some respect out there, people.

Eude Brito got absolutely hammered.  In his defense, the defense was also terrible, but he allowed nine hits and two walks in four innings without striking out anyone. 

In the first, the first three batters singled to load the bases.  With nobody out, JD Drew hit a two-run double.  The cursed Matt Kemp lined out to third.  And that's when the defense took a break.  With one out and runners on second and third, Willy Aybar hit a ground ball to Howard at first.  The ball bounced off his glove to Utley, who managed to toss to Brito for an out.  It was a bad play by Howard, who was spared his ninth error as the Phillies got an out on the play.  Had he fielded the ball cleanly he would likely have been able to prevent Nomar from scoring from third.  But it wasn't over yet.  With two outs and a runner now on third, Joel Guzman hit a popup to second, which Utley did not catch.  It looked like he lost it in the tough sun, but Drew scored from third to make the score 4-0.  Birto then got Martin to ground out to end the inning.

Brito got through the second and third innings without allowing a run.  He gave up two hits in the second but got the Dodgers 1-2-3 in the third.  In the fourth, with the Dodgers still up 4-0, he had two outs with a runner on second when he got into more trouble.  Jose Cruz, Jr, and Nomar hit back-to-back doubles, bring in two more runs to make the score 6-0.  Nomar is 6-for-14 in the series.

The Phillies pinch hit for Brito in the top of the fifth and Clay Condrey came in to pitch the bottom of the inning.  He got the Dodgers without a whimper in the fifth and returned in the sixth and threw another shutout inning.  He came back for a third inning and JD Drew led off with a double and Matt Kemp followed with a two-run homer that made the score 8-0.  He allowed a single and a walk before getting the first two outs of the inning on a double-play.  He then got pitcher Tim Hamulack to end the inning.  At least for the time being it looks as if Condrey has taken over the long relief role from Fultz with Madson back in the rotation.  Sounds like a good idea to me, Fultz is clearly not suited for the role.  Fultz has not appeared in the last three games despite the Phillies having to call on their pen to throw 12 innings. 

Matt Kemp has homered in three straight games against the Phillies.  The first, on Thursday, was the first of his career.  He won't be 22 until September.  This all requires some superlatives, but I'm still kinda in shock.  Wow?

Brian Sanches pitched the eighth for the Phillies, allowing a walk but no runs. 

The Phillies lineup against righty Brad Penny went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Rowand (7) Bell (8) Fasano.  Nothing new there.  We'll have to watch and see if Fasano catches all of Brito's games.  At the start of the season he was catching all the games for Lieber and Floyd, with Lieberthal catching the rest.  Lieber is on the DL and Floyd is now at Triple-A, so we'll see if he gets the call for all of starts by the guys who replaced them, Hamels and Brito.

The Phillies managed just one hit against Penny in six innings.  It was a two-out double in the fourth by Rowand.  Burrell had walked just before, so it was second and third with two outs, but Bell popped out to end the inning.

Down 8-0 in the eighth the Phillies put up two runs.  With one out and runners on second and third via two walks, a balk and a fielder's choice, Coste scored from third on a wild pitch to make it 8-1.  Utley struck out to make it two outs and a runner on third and Abreu brought in the run with a double to make it 8-2.  It was the Phillies second and final hit of the day.

None of the Phillies hitters had a good day.  Utley was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts.  Howard was 0-for-3 and struck out three times.

Abreu had the RBI-double and was 1-for-3 on the day with a walk.  He's quietly 5-for-his-last-11.  Rollins and Burrell each walked twice.  Jimmy's on-base percentage is at .309, he's just 2-for-his-last-17.  Burrell doesn't have an extra-base hit in his last 26 at-bats (3-for-26 with three singles).

Brett Myers faces Aaron Sele tomorrow as the Phillies try to salvage a split. 

Phillies eighty-six Floyd, 8-6 Dodgers
June 3 2006

The Phillies got another rough outing by a starting pitcher last night, but the pen and the bats came through as they beat the Dodgers 8-6 to improve to 28-26 on the year.

Before the game the Phillies sent Gavin Floyd to Triple-A.  It looks like Eude Brito is in the rotation until Lieber returns from the DL, with Hamels taking Floyd's spot.

Ryan Madson got the start for the Phillies.  He went just five innings, allowing five earned runs on five hits and five walks.  Two of the hits, a double and Matt Kemp's second homer in two days against the Phillies, went for extra-bases.  Madson struck out just one.  His outing put a burden on the pen -- after throwing four innings in the series opener they had to throw another four last night.  In the first two games of the series, Phillies starters have gone nine innings and their relievers have thrown eight.

Madson kept the Dodgers off the board in the first three innings.  With one out in the fourth and a 3-0 lead, Madson gave up back-to-back walks before Aybar doubled, bringing in two runs to make the score 3-2.  Madson got the next two to end the inning.

The Phillies still led 3-2 going into the bottom of the fifth.  Matt Kemp hit a one out homer to tie the game at 3-3.  With the bases empty, Furcal walked and Lofton flied to center.  Furcal stole second and came home on a Nomar hit, a single that scored Furcal with Garciaparra going to second on the throw.  The Dodgers led 4-3.  Joel Guzman, called up yesterday when Kent went on the DL, singled to make the score 5-3 before Madson was able to get Ethier to ground out to end the inning.

Geoff Geary came on to pitch the sixth for the Phillies and kept the game at 5-3.  After pitching to a 1.20 ERA in May, it was his first appearance in June.  In May he allowed 16 hits and just one walk in 15 innings.  He would get his second win of the season when the Phillies put up five in the seventh.

Cormier pitched a perfect seventh inning, lowering his ERA to 0.93 on the season.

Arthur Rhodes pitched the eighth for the Phillies.  He started the inning with an 8-5 lead and got the first two batters but then allowed back-to-back doubles to Saenz and Alomar to make the score 8-6.  He got out of the inning by getting the cursed Matt Kemp to ground out to short with Alomar on second.

Flash came on to pitch the ninth, getting his 16th save of the year after the Dodgers got the tying runs aboard.  With one out he gave up back-to-back singles to Lofton and Garciaparra before getting Joel Guzman to ground into a double-play to end the game.

The Phillies lineup against righty Jae Seo went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Rowand (7) Bell (8) Lieberthal.

The Phillies got a solo home run from Utley in the first to go up 1-0. 

With two outs in the third, Utley got his second hit of the day, a single, and Abreu followed with a double that brought him in and make the score 2-0.

Ryan Howard led off the fourth with his 19th homer to make the score 3-0.  He is tied with Soriano for second in the NL in homers.  Pujols has 25.

Things looked bleak in the seventh with the Phillies down 5-3, but the bats came to life.  Danys Baez kept pitching and pitching and couldn't retire a single batter.  Rollins led off with a single, Utley walked and Abreu singled to load the bases.  Pat Burrell followed with a bloop single, which scored two runs to tie the game at 5-5.  Howard walked to load the bases again and the Dodgers finally took out Baez.  Aaron Rowand greeted the new pitcher, Saito, with a two-run double that made if 7-5 and Bell followed with a sac fly that scored Howard.  It was 8-6 with one out and a runner on third, but Lieberthal flew out and pinch hitter Dellucci struck out to end the inning.

Rollins was 1-for-5 with two strikeouts.  He's 3-for-his-last-18.  His single to start the seventh inning rally was huge, however.

Utley was 4-for-4 with a home run to increase his average to .327.  Abreu 2-for-4.  Burrell 1-for-5 and he's 1-for-his-last-13.  Howard 1-for-4 with a walk.

Rowand had a huge double in the seventh.  He was 2-for-4 on the day with two RBI.  Bell was 0-for-2 but walked twice.

Lieberthal was 0-for-5 and left five men on base.  His average falls to .263.

Nunez was 0-for-1 in a pinch hitting appearance.  He is 1-for-his-last-24.

Eude Brito takes the hill today for the first time this year.  He will pitch against another righty, Brad Penny.  Brito had one of my favorite quotes of the year in 2005:  "I wanted to sing--that's all I did. And then I started playing baseball and found my new thing. When I was in school, a teacher was asking the class what we wanted to be. I said I wanted to be a baseball player and everyone laughed. The teacher told me I was too small, too skinny. I'm making sure he never forgets who I am now."

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