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Rain, rain, don't go away
June 10 2006

Brett Myers has been The Man for the Phillies this season.  Time after time he was the glue that held together to rotation when Floyd, Madson and Lieber put up outings that made them look like Charlie Brown when Peppermint Patty's team comes to their neighborhood for a game.  As far as I know, none of the Phillies starters actually had their clothes knocked off on a line drive, but it was not pretty.  Last night, Myers got blown up for the first time this year.

The Phillies lost to the Nationals 9-8 in 12 innings.  The loss drops their record to 32-29 on the year.  It was a brutal game that saw the pen throw 8 1/3 innings and the Phillies mount yet another valiant comeback.  It was not to be, however, as the Nationals won their second straight against the Phils.  The Nats are 8-2 in the their last ten and are now tied with the Braves for third place in the NL East.

Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies and had his worst outing of the season. He went just three innings, allowing six earned runs on seven hits and a walk.  Two of the seven hits went for extra bases, both doubles, and the Phillies played some wretched defense behind him.

After getting the Nats 1-2-3 in the first, the trouble started for Myers in the second.  Nick Johnson led off with a double and Ryan Zimmerman followed with a ball hit to right that Abreu misplayed into a double.  He came in too far and the ball flew over his head, allowing Johnson to score.  The Phillies had scored two in the first so the score was 2-1.  Marlon Anderson and Brian Schneider each followed with singles, making it 2-2 with runners on first and third with nobody out.  Marlon Byrd followed with a double-play ball to Bell, who booted it and the Phillies got no outs as Anderson scored from third to make it 3-2.  Myers did a nice job to get out of the inning, Armas bunted to move the runners to second and third but Brett got the next two batters to keep the score 3-2.

The Phillies tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the third.  In the bottom of the third, the first three batters got on via a walk, a hit by pitch and a single to load the bases with nobody out.  Anderson followed with a sac fly to make it 4-3.  Schneider followed that with a single, making it 5-3 with one out and runners on first and third.  Byrd followed with the Nats second sac fly of the inning to make the score 6-3 before Myers got out of frame. 

The Phillies pinch hit for Myers in the top of the fourth.  The game was delayed by rain for an hour and forty-two minutes, which may have contributed to Myers's problems.

Fultz followed Myers, allowing a run on three singles to make the score 7-3 before getting out of the inning with a double-play.  Fultz came back and threw a scoreless fifth.  The run in the fourth was the first that Fultz had been charged with in his last 9 2/3 innings.

Geary pitched a scoreless sixth, allowing a single but getting a double-play. 

The Phillies got five in the top of the seventh to go up 8-7.  Cormier pitched the bottom of the inning, and the Nats tied the score at 8-8 on two singles and a fielder's choice that moved the runner into scoring position.

With the score tied 8-8, Rhodes pitched a scoreless eighth and Franklin kept the Nats off the board in the ninth and tenth.

Clay Condrey pitched a 1-2-3 eleventh before the Nats won the game in the bottom of the twelfth.  Marlon Byrd led off the twelfth with a double and scored on a one-out single from pinch-hitter Robert Fick, just beating Abreu's throw from right to end the game.

It was a brutal night for the pen, throwing 8 1/3 innings and allowing just two runs after Myers left after just three.  Carrying the biggest burden were Fultz (34 pitches), Franklin (26) and Condrey (25).  This is especially tough after sending down a pitcher, Brito, for a sixth outfielder yesterday.

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

The Phillies jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on a two-out single from Abreu and a Marlon Byrd assisted double by Burrell.  Aaron Rowand drove Burrell in with a single to make the score 2-0. 

A solo homer by Howard in the third tied the game at 3-3. 

The Nats went up 7-3 in the bottom of the fourth and, with Myers out, the game looked over.  The Phillies roared back to life in the top of the seventh, getting a three-run homer from Utley and a two-run shot from Burrell to pull ahead 8-7.

The Phillies then did not get a hit or a walk in the next five innings.  Lefty Bill Bray and Chad Cordero shut them down completely, with Bray going three scoreless and Cordero going two scoreless.  It was just the fourth appearance of Bray's career.

It was nice to see Burrell hit the home run.  He was 2-for-6 with 3 RBI.

Rollins and Utley combined to got 3-for-12 with Utley's huge homer and two singles from Rollins.

Abreu 2-for-5.  Howard 1-for-4 with the homer.  Rowand, Bell and Fasano combined to go 2-for-15 with a single by Bell and an RBI-single from Rowand.  Shane Victorino had a big hit to get on to lead off the seventh. 

Lidle and Livan Hernandez this afternoon, but don't try to watch it on television.

Bye bye Brito
June 9 2006

The Phillies sent Eude Brito back to Triple-A on Friday and recalled outfielder Chris Roberson.  It looks like they will take advantage of the off day on Monday and go with a four-man rotation until they need to make another move to get someone in to start on June 17 against the Devil Rays.

The move gives them six outfielders, which is odd cause they already have two guys on their bench who aren't getting a lot of time as it is.  Victorino is already finishing most games for Burrell in left, but besides that doesn't get much time.  Hopefully the Phillies find a way to use Roberson, otherwise it seems it may have made more sense to bring back Sanches or even kept Brito up to pitch out of the pen.  I would have preferred either of those to the return of Roberson to not play.

It looks like Lieberthal may go on the DL, which would mean another move for the Phillies sometime soon.  If they aren't going to let Coste bat or field, they should send him elsewhere, too.  But it seems he's here to stay for a while at least.

Julio Santana is eligible to return from the DL when ready.  He pitched an inning for Clearwater on Tuesday and was scheduled to throw again today.

Phils bats nap against Nats
June 9 2006

After flying cross-country last night after yesterday's game with the Diamondbacks, a weary group of Phillies finally got some much needed rest.  Sadly it came during their game with the Nationals.  Alfonso Soriano, Eude Brito and the unexpected inability to score runs killed the Phillies last night as they fell to Washington, 5-2. 

The loss snaps the Phillies four-game win streak and drops their record to 32-28 on the year.  They have played sixty games, which is about 37 percent of the season.

Eude Brito got the start for the Phillies and was a little better than his first start but far from good.  He went 4 2/3 innings, allowing four earned runs on five hits and three walks.  Two of the five hits went for doubles.  The question now seems to be if Brito will get another start.  I would guess yes -- Franklin looked bad last night and I'm not sure what the other options would be. 

The Phillies did sign righty Adam Bernero yesterday, who will be 30 in November.  Bernero was released by the Kansas City Royals earlier this month, his contract stipulated that he could request his release if he was not with the big-league club by June 1.  He wasn't.  Bernero has major league experience with the Tigers, Rockies and Braves, but there are some good reasons not to get too excited.  First, his career ERA in 146 games and 361 innings is 5.61.  In 2003 he got 17 starts with the Tigers and Rockies and went a combined 1-14 with a 5.87 ERA.  He was terrible with the Braves last year, allowing 61 hits in 47 innings while posting a 6.51 ERA.  He also was in the Royals minor-league system and the Royals are 15-43 this year -- if Kansas City didn't think he could help them it's a little hard to understand why he would be able to help the Phillies.  The good news is he has been pitching well in the minors.  He started last night for Scranton Wilkes-Barre and allowed just four hits in eight innings while striking out one.  I'd be surprised if we saw him with the Phillies anytime soon.

Last night, Brito got off to another rough start in the first inning.  Soriano led off with a walk and the Nationals sent Clayton up to try to bunt.  He didn't have to as Brito got behind in the count and Soriano went to second on a hit-the-bull type wild pitch.  Clayton grounded out and Vidro followed with a single that made it first and third with one out.  Nick Johnson followed with a sac fly that scored Soriano from third to make it 1-0.  Bell cut off Rowand's throw and got Vidro trying to tag and go from first to second.  It looked like a really bad play by Vidro -- the chances of the Nationals getting more against Brito seemed strong.

Brito got a 1-2-3 second inning.  In the third the score was tied 1-1 when with one out he hit Soriano, who went to second on a balk.  Clayton followed with an RBI-double that put Washington up 2-1.  Brito did a nice job to get out of the inning without allowing Clayton to score.  He got Vidro to fly out, then walked Nick Johnson before getting Zimmerman to end the inning.

The Phillies tied the game 2-2 in the top of the fourth and Brito got another 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the inning  In the bottom of the fifth, he got the first out before the top of the Nationals order got him again.  Soriano walked, stole second, and scored on Clayton's second double of the game to make the score 3-2 with one out.  Brito got Vidro to fly out for the second out, but then Clayton went to third on Brito's second wild pitch of the game.  It didn't matter much, cause Nick Johnson followed with a double, going to third when Burrell had problems fielding the ball.  With two outs, Johnson on third, the score 4-2, and Ryan Zimmerman at the plate, Manuel brought in Clay Condrey who got Zimmerman to end the inning. 

Condrey came back and pitched the sixth, keeping Washington off the board but allowing two hits.

Ryan Franklin pitched the seventh for the Phillies, starting the inning with the Phillies down 4-2.  He did not look good.  Soriano led off with a home run and with one out Vidro singled to center.  He got out of the inning with a double-play, but the score was 5-2.  In his last four innings, he's allowed four earned runs on six hits, including three home runs.

Aaron Fultz pitched the bottom of the eighth, getting the Nats 1-2-3 and striking out another batter. 

Mike O'Connor was the first lefty starter the Phillies had seen since facing the same O'Connor on May 29.  The Phillies lineup against him was their standard (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Rowand (7) Bell (8) Fasano.  Gone, apparently, are the days of switching things around against lefties.  This seems to be related to the injury to Rowand, although I'm not sure why.  Righty Steve Trachsel got the start for the Mets on May 11, the day Rowand smashed his face in center field.  On May 10, the day before, the Phillies lineup against lefty Tom Glavine went like this:  (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Rowand (4) Abreu (5) Burrell (6) Howard (7) Bell (8) Ruiz.  I like last night's lineup much better, but I'm not sure if the change is because Manuel likes last night's lineup better or because he's waiting for Rowand to get hot again before switching things around against lefties.

The Phillies have been scoring a ton of runs, 17 in their last two games in Arizona, but struggled against a lefty again last night.  O'Connor went six innings and gave up just three hits to the Phillies. 

After going 1-2-3 in each of the first two innings, the Phillies got a two-out single form Rollins who went to second when Damian Jackson dropped the ball in center field in the top of the third.  It was another nice base running play by Rollins, who probably stole a run for the Phillies when he came around to score on Utley's double to tie the game at 1-1.  Utley's ball was smashed off the wall in right on a line, so even the speedy Rollins wouldn't have been likely to score from first with two outs.  Abreu's fly to right ended the inning.

The Phillies were down 2-1 going into the top of the fourth.  Burrell led off with a walk and went to third on Ryan Howard's single.  It's been a while since we've seen Burrell look that good on the bases, as he's been hobbled by foot problems.  There have been a couple of plays in recent days, going first to third last night and making a long run in Tuesday's game to make a catch, that offer some hope his mobility may be increasing.  Going first to third on the single was the second nice play on the paths that led to a run -- Burrell scored on Rowand's sac fly to tie the game at 2-2 before Bell and Fasano both popped out to end the inning.

The Phillies got just two hits after the fourth inning and could not score another run.  Abreu had a one-out single in the eighth, but Burrell followed with an inning ending double-play.

O'Connor has looked really good against the Phillies in his two starts.  He came way up and in to Howard in the fourth inning, which we may see more of if Howard keeps diving into the ball and hitting 13 homers or so a month.

Rollins was 1-for-4.  After posting a 235/307/383 line in May, he's hitting .263 and on-basing .300 in the first eight games in June.  His brother in hide-your-eyes-recent-futility Pat Burrell went 0-for-3 and is 3-for-22 in June with a .269 on-base percentage and a .273 slugging percentage.  It's odd that Burrell looks to be moving better but is in this awful slump.  His batting average for the year against righties is down to .244.

Utley was 1-for-4 with the RBI-double.  He's just 1-for-his-last-11.

Abreu was 1-for-2 with two walks on the night.  He's hit in every June game, is on-basing .528 in the last eight games but has scored just four runs. 

Howard was 1-for-3 with a walk. 

Rowand was 0-for-3 and looked like he had gotten a huge hit in the top of the ninth inning last night.  With Howard on first and nobody out, Rowand smashed a ball to center field, where non-traditional-outfielder Damian Jackson made an absurd catch, twisting the wrong way and sticking his glove up behind his head at the last minute, to rob him and kill a Phillies ninth-inning rally. Rowand is hitting .192 and on-basing .241 over the last eight games.

Bell was 1-for-4.  He has two extra-base hits, both doubles, in his last 49 at-bats.  The .281 average for Fasano to start the game is looking like it may be a high mark for the season.  He was 0-for-3.

Brett Myers and Tony Armas tonight.

If it's Thursday, this must be Washington
June 8 2006

Team W-L R R/G AVG OBP SLG SB CS
WAS 27-33 270 4.50 256 327 418 32 26
PHI 32-27 298 5.05 258 337 440 33 13
                 
  IP RA RA/G H BB SO ERA Ratio
WAS 531.1 281 4.68 510 232 367 4.32 1.40
PHI 528.2 286 4.85 569 191 395 4.43 1.44

The Phillies eleven-game road trip ends in Washington, where the Phils will face the Nationals in a four-game set starting tonight.

The Phillies get their second straight team in some turmoil.  I don't think we'll know for a couple of days what was going on in the Diamondbacks clubhouse during the Phillies three-game sweep with the Jason Grimsley situation, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't good.  The Nationals have just brought in Davey Johnson to assist General Manager Jim Bowden.  Also weighing on people's minds is the presence of Alfonso Soriano in the Nationals outfield -- Soriano is unlikely to be with the Nationals after this year and the New York Yankees' outfield is looking a little too much like the Peanuts gang to make many people feel comfortable in New York. 

The Phillies come in in second place in the NL East, having won four straight.  They are 3 1/2 games behind the Mets.  The Nationals have won four of their last five, sweeping the Brewers before going to Atlanta to take two of three from the Braves.  The Phillies are up to fifth in the National League in runs scored, they have three players (Howard, Abreu, Burrell) in the top ten in RBI and four players in the top 20 in OPS (Utley, Abreu, Burrell, Howard) in the NL.  The Nationals pitching, with an assist to their yard, has been better than the Phillies -- the 569 hits the Phillies pitchers have allowed is third worst in the NL.  It's still saying something that the Nationals pitching has been better, Patterson, Drese and Astacio have all missed time with injury, forcing the Nats to go deep into the organization to find people who can start.  Phillies pitchers have allowed 59 more hits than Nationals pitchers (Washington has played one more game).

These teams just played a three-game set May 29-31, with the Phillies taking two of three in Philadelphia.  The Phillies pounded the Nats pen in game one, winning 11-2 when Clay Condrey pitched four strong innings of relief on the day Lieber was injured.  Brett Myers held Washington to three hits and two runs over eight innings and the Phillies got a three-run shot from Abreu to win the middle game 4-2.  Livan beat them in game three, 3-2, holding the Phillies to five hits over seven innings. 

Since the last series the Nats put Joey Eischen and Santiago Ramirez on the DL and called up infielder Brendan Harris and left-handed reliever Bill Bray.  Bray is 23 and a former first-round pick.  He's allowed one hit and no runs in 2 1/3 innings since his callup.  Harris is a 25-year-old righty and has played shortstop, second and third since coming up, going 3-for-16 at the plate.

Eude Brito (0-1, 13.50) faces lefty Mike O'Connor (2-3, 3.25) tonight.  O'Connor faced the Phillies in the first game of the last series in Philly.  He threw five innings and was charged with three earned runs, but he pitched better than his line, striking out five and not walking a batter.  He hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in any of his eight starts and opponents are hitting just .201 against him.  The Phillies haven't faced a lefty this month, O'Connor's last start against them was the last time they did.  This was fortunate for the Phils as their big right-handed bat in the lineup, Burrell, has been struggling mightily and Rowand hasn't been hitting much either. Brito was really awful on Saturday against the Dodgers, giving up six earned runs on nine hits in four innings in his only start of the season.  The defense let him down a little that day, but he was still not impressive. 

In today's Inquirer, Todd Zolecki seems to suggest that if Brito's struggles continue Franklin may be an option very soon.  Madson was awesome yesterday, but I'm still hoping they send him back to the pen and replace him with Franklin and let Brito pitch till Lieber comes back.  Speaking of Todd Zolecki, if his Q&A forum at Philly.com isn't the best resource for Phillies information on the web it definitely makes the photo.  I was surprised at something that he wrote yesterday, however, speculating on a Willis deal he suggested that if Willis were available it might look something like Mathieson, Ruiz and Floyd for Willis.  He didn't suggest it was anything more than speculation, but if it ever came down to that I would do that faster than you can say Ryan-Madson-is-our-third-starter-right-now.  I think the Marlins can, and will, get more than that for Willis if they move him.  It can only help the Phillies, however, if Floyd can come up with a few more great starts in the minors.

Brett Myers (4-2, 2.90) gets righty Tony Armas (6-3, 3.34) tomorrow night.  Armas pitched the second game of the series last time around, and the Phillies got to him for four runs in 6 1/3, with three of the runs coming on a three-run blast by Abreu.  He's had one start since then, holding the Brewers to an unearned run on two hits in six innings on Sunday.  Myers started that game against Armas and got the win, giving up two runs on three hits in eight innings.  Myers started Sunday in Los Angeles and gave up seven hits and three walks over 6 2/3.  I think Myers is going to have to break down a little bit at some point -- he has really carried the Phillies so far this year.

Cory Lidle (4-5, 4.83) faces righty Livan Hernandez (5-5, 5.16) on Saturday afternoon.  This is a rematch of the final game of the previous series, in which Hernandez pretty much stymied the Phillies, giving up just two runs on five hits over seven innings.  The Phillies did get two home runs, one from Rowand and one from Dellucci.   Hernandez started Monday against the Braves in Atlanta and gave up four runs in six innings.  Opponents are hitting .283 against him and lefties .305.  Lidle gave up three runs in 6 1/3 in the last matchup between the two, getting burned on a two-run homer to Alfonso Soriano.  On Monday in Arizona he went six innings and gave up three runs to the Diamondbacks.  Lefties are hitting .342 against Lidle and righties .253, which is a little odd when you look at his splits from the last few seasons.  In '05, lefties and righties both hit .289 against him, in '04, lefties .278 and righties .269.

Cole Hamels (1-0, 2.65) faces righty Shawn Hill (0-1, 2.77) on Sunday afternoon. Hill is 25 and missed last year following Tommy John surgery.  He's had two starts this year, most recently on Tuesday against the Braves, allowing three earned runs in six innings.  He's struck out just five in 13 1/3 innings.  Cole Hamels has looked awesome in three starts so far, on Tuesday he held the Diamondbacks to a run on three hits in 5 2/3 innings.   Opponents are hitting .158 against him, but he has allowed a lot of walks, 11 in 17 innings.  Last start he held the Snakes to just two walks after allowing five and four in his first two, so maybe he's got them under control.  It sure seems like he's got everything else under control.

Man bites snake
June 7 2006

So long, Chase Field.  We hardly knew you.  So long, strip of dirt between the mound and home plate.  You always harken me back to a simpler time, a time when all the stadiums had a strip of dirt between the mound and home plate.  And a pool in right field.

The Phillies beat the Diamondbacks 7-3 today for their fourth straight win.  They improve to 32-27 on the year.

Ryan Madson got the start for the Phillies and pitched very well.  He went 7 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits without walking a batter.  He pitched better than his line, retiring the first eleven men he faced.  The next time the Phillies face the Diamondbacks I expect Arizona's first eleven men won't even bother to show up after what Hamels and Madson did to them over the past two days.  It was Madson's best start of the year, he went seven innings in a start just one other time this season, against the Rockies in Colorado on April 14.

Madson started the bottom of the fourth up 6-0.  He allowed his first hit of the day, a two-out single to Luis Gonzalez, before getting Conor Jackson to end the inning.

In the bottom of the fifth Arizona got on the board.  With one out, three straight singles made it 6-1 with runners on first and second.  Chad Tracy hit for the Arizona starter Nippert, but Madson got him and Counsell to end the inning without further damage.

Madson had a 1-2-3 sixth inning and started the seventh with a 7-1 lead.  He gave up a leadoff single to Shawn Green but retired the next three to keep Arizona off the board. 

Madson hit for himself in the top of the eighth and started the bottom of the inning.  Andy Green led off the inning with a double, the only extra-base hit Madson gave up, and moved to third when Counsell grounded out for the first out of the frame.  Madson gave up back-to-back singles to Jeff DaVanon and Luis Gonzalez to make the score 7-2 with runners on first and second.  Manuel left Madson in to pitch to the righty Conor Jackson, and Madson got him to fly out to Abreu in right for the second out of the inning.  With lefty Shawn Green up, Manuel brought in Cormier, who gave up a single that made it 7-3 with runners on first and third with one out.    Switch-hitter Johnny Estrada was up and things were getting a little too close for comfort.  Cormier stayed in to pitch to him and Estrada smashed a line drive up the middle, which Cormier caught, making a nice play to end the inning.

The Phlillies brought in Gordon in the bottom of the ninth in a non-save situation to close out the game.  He had a 1-2-3 inning, striking out two.  It seemed a bit odd to bring in Gordon with so many arms available in the pen, especially to face the 7-8-9 hitters in the lineup.  Condrey hadn't pitched in three days, Fultz has thrown one inning in the last seven games.  Granted, with Brito on the hill tomorrow there's a good chance Gordon won't be needed, but I still don't know why Manuel didn't go with someone else.

The Phillies lineup against righty Dustin Nippert went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Howard (5) Dellucci (6) Victorino (7) Nunez (8) Fasano.  Manuel gave all of his righties in the lineup except Fasano a day off and went with a lineup that would give him the first seven guys in the lineup hitting lefty against Nippert to start the game.  Burrell, Rowand and Bell all started the game on the bench. 

The Phillies hit Nippert pretty hard, getting seven hits and four walks off of him in just five innings.  They jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first.  Utley walked with one out and Abreu followed, swinging at the first pitch and hitting a double that scored Utley.  Abreu stole a base and was on third with one out, but the Phillies couldn't score him when Howard struck out and Dellucci followed with a fly out to center.

In the third, Abreu drew a two-out walk and Ryan Howard followed with a two-run home run. 

Up 3-0 in the fourth, Nunez led off with a walk and Fasano singled to start the inning.   Madson bunted and they moved to second and third and Rollins followed with a three-run homer. 

Sal Fasano hit a solo homer to lead off the sixth and extend the lead to 7-1.  Fasano's homer was his second in two days.  He was 4-for-4 this afternoon, with the homer and a double.  He's hitting .281.

Rollins was 2-for-5 with the big three-run homer.  Utley 0-for-4 with a walk and struck out twice.  Utley's 0-for-his-last-7.

Abreu keeps getting on base.  He was 1-for-4 with the first inning double.  It was a big surprise to see him swing at the first pitch in the first, but it worked out well.  He's one of six Phillies slugging over .500 (Howard, Abreu, Burrell, Dellucci, Utley and Victorino, with Rowand at .497).

Howard 1-for-4 with his 21st homer.  He's on pace to hit 58.  Dellucci was 0-for-3.

Victorino was 1-for-4.  Nunez played well at third after looking less so at other times this season.  He was 0-for-3 with a walk.

Phillies start a four game series in Washington with the Nationals tomorrow night.

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