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At least they have to leave now
June 15 2006

This one at least looked like a baseball game, and I'm pretty much willing to take anything at this point. 

The Phillies fell again to the Mets this afternoon, losing their fourth straight as the Mets swept the three-game series.  The 5-4 loss drops the Phillies to .500 on the season at 33-33.  They are 9 1/2 games behind first-place New York.

Cory Lidle got the start for the Phillies.  He went six innings, allowing five earned runs on six hits and two walks.  Four of the six hits went for extra bases, including a three-run home run.

The Mets put up four runs in the first inning.  Jose Reyes led off with a single and two-hitter Endy Chavez doubled him home to make the score 1-0.  Delgado walked and David Wright hit a three-run homer with one out to make the score 4-0.

Lidle settled down after the first, holding the Mets to a hit and a walk in the next three innings.  In the fifth, Jose Reyes led off with a double and would come around to score on a Beltran sac fly to make it a 5-2 Mets lead. 

Lidle started the seventh inning for the Phils and Ramon Castro led off with a single and the Mets called on Jose Valentin to hit for Trachsel.  Valentin is a switch-hitter who has been better against lefties this year but much worse over his career.  The Phillies called on Cormier and he got them out of the inning.  Valentin bunted, moving Castro to second, but Cormier got Reyes and Chavez to both ground out and end the inning with the score still 5-4.

Arthur Rhodes pitched the eighth inning for the Phillies, appearing in his first game since June 10.  He allowed a one-out single to Delgado and a two-out walk to Chris Woodward before getting Marrero to fly out to left to end the inning. 

Geoff Geary came on to pitch the top of the ninth with the Phillies still trailing 5-4.  He got himself into a big jam but got out of it.  He got Castro to lead off the inning but Franco singled with one out.  Reyes lined out and Chavez walked to make it first and second with two away.  A passed ball sent the runners to second and third before Geary struck out Beltran to end the inning.

The Phillies lineup against righty Steve Trachsel went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Rowand (7) Nunez (8) Fasano.  Bell gets a day off after making his eleventh error of the season last night.  Only four players in the NL started the day with more errors.

The Phillies got a run in the second inning when Pat Burrell led off with his 17th homer of the year to make the score 4-1.  Howard followed with a single and, with two outs, Fasano got a big hit, driving in Howard with a double to make it 4-2. 

The Phillies got more in the fifth, rallying for two runs with two outs.  Rollins and Utley went down to start the inning, but Abreu followed with a single to get on for the bazillionth time and Burrell hit his second home run of the game to bring the Phillies within one at 5-4.

The Phillies three through five hitters went 4-for-10 with two walks.  Rollins, Utley, Rowand, Nunez and Fasano combined to go 1-for-20 with no walks. 

Rollins 3-for-11 in the series with three home runs.  Utley 3-for-13.  Abreu 4-for-11.  Burrell 3-for-8.  Howard 2-for-11.  Rowand 3-for-12.  Fasano 3-for-7 with two doubles.  Bell 2-for-7. 

Jose Reyes was 8-for-13.  Chavez 4-for-12.  Beltran 4-for-12 with four RBI.  Delgado 6-for-11 with four RBI.  Wright was 4-for-13 with six RBI and a tremendous play in game one to rob Burrell of a ninth inning double.

Cole Hamels faces James Shields tomorrow as the Devil Rays come to town.
 

Phillies not here to win no damn baseball game
June 15 2006

The Phillies manager showed some fire earlier this week when talking about the team and the post-season.  "I'm not here to win no damn wild card," Manuel is quoted as saying in Tuesday's Inquirer.  Rest easy, Charlie.  Apparently, neither is anyone else.

The Phillies are playing horrible baseball.  A team with problems in their rotation that nobody can deny has suddenly been abandoned by its defense.  It's gotten close to laugh-out-loud absurd -- at this point the positions where you have to hold your breath when the ball is hit in their direction are first, second and third base and right field.  That's a lot of fellows.  I feel pretty good about ground balls to short, but I wouldn't really want to buy stock in them.  Bobby Abreu is seemingly doing battle with unseen spirits in right.  The unseen spirits are winning, and it should have been called on the mercy rule a long time ago.  I'm not sure who we appeal to.

The good news is this:  a baseball season is really, really long.  Almost unbearably so.  The defense will get better.  The Phillies are going to win some games again soon.  A lot of games. 

Over the past five games, Phillies starters have allowed 23 earned runs in 21 2/3 innings.  Two of those games were started by the best pitcher on the staff.

The Phillies fell to the New York Mets last night, losing the game 9-3 to fall to 33-32 on the season.  They have lost three straight and five of their last six.

Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies and had his second straight awful outing, which pretty much leaves Cory Lidle as the glue holding the rotation together.  Coming off of a start in which he gave up six runs in three innings, Myers allowed five earned runs on nine hits in 2 2/3 innings last night. 

In the first, the Mets got a one-out double from LoDuca followed by a ground out that sent LoDuca to third with two down.  Delgado doubled, bringing in LoDuca.  Wright followed with a single that scored Delgado to make the score 2-0 before Myers got out of the frame.

Myers struck out the first two in the top of the second.  Orlando Hernandez and Reyes followed with back-to-back singles before David Wright hit a slow roller to third, which should have ended the inning.  My apologies to all Phillies fans, who realize at this point that "routine ground ball" may soon replace "military intelligence" as the textbook example of an oxymoron, and that the phrase, "which should end the inning" is something to be avoided altogether in the short term.  Bell booted it to load the bases and Beltran walked to force in a run and make the score 3-0.   Myers struck out Delgado to end the inning.  Myers has a reputation for blowing up when things don't go as hoped and he thought he had struck LoDuca out looking to end the inning.  I thought he had too.

Wright led off the top of the third with a home run to make it 4-0.  With one out, Endy Chavez smoked a ball to deep center and, as if you didn't need evidence that weird stuff is going on, even the glove of Rowand abandoned the Phillies.  Rowand made a long run and tried to make a spectacular over the shoulder catch.  The ball bounced off his glove for a triple.  It would have been a great play.  Milledge followed and singled to right.  Abreu was given an error on his throw home, which bounced away from Coste who was catching.  Abreu's throw was fine, but Milledge went to second so he got stuck with the error.  Shed no tears for Bobby, however, the Gold-Glover was really awful in right last night.  Myers struck out Hernandez for the second out of the inning, with the Mets up 5-0 and Milledge on second.  Reyes followed with a ball hit to right that went off of Abreu's glove for a triple and made the score 6-0.  It was the second triple of the inning that had gone off the glove of a Phillies outfielder.  Clay Condrey replaced Myers and got the final out of the inning.

With Condrey still pitching, Beltran led off the fourth with a double and Delgado singled him in to make the score 7-2.  Condrey also pitched a scoreless fifth.  He has allowed four earned runs on six hits in his last five innings.

Brian Sanches pitched a scoreless sixth and started the seventh with the Phillies trailing 7-3.  He gave up a one-out double to Valentin and got Endy Chavez to fly to left for the second out of the inning.  The Phillies then intentionally walked righty Lastings Milledge to get to the pitcher's spot.  They must have really, really wanted Darren Oliver out of the game cause I can't really help explain that one.  If that's the case it may be the first time anyone hasn't liked their chances against Oliver since 1999.  Anyway, the Phillies wound up facing righty Julio Franco instead of righty Lastings Milledge.  Franco doubled and Milledge was thrown out at home.  8-3 Mets.  Sanches gave up three hits, two walks and a run in two innings.

Fultz pitched the eighth and allowed a run on a single, a double and a sac fly to make the score 9-3.  He got a 1-2-3 ninth. 

The Phillies lineup against righty Orlando Hernandez went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Dellucci (7) Bell (8) Coste.  Burrell got the day off, moving Howard up to the cleanup spot and Rowand up to fifth. 

The Phillies went down 1-2-3 in the first.  In the second, Howard let off with a ground ball to first and got aboard when Delgado couldn't handle it for an error.  Rowand was hit by a pitch and Dellucci flew out to make it one-out and runners on first and second.   Bell hit it hard to right center but Beltran tracked it down for the out.  Howard couldn't decide whether to tag up or not.  He decided to try too late and was out in a rundown.  It was not an impressive display.  That's the second straight night with a horrible decision on the basepaths as well, last night Rollins was thrown out trying to steal in the eighth with the three and four hitters coming up as the tying run.  Or they would have come up if Rollins hadn't run them out of the inning.

The Phillies got a solo homer from Rollins in the third, his third in two games.  Utley followed with a double and Abreu singled him in for the Phillies second run.  They trailed 6-2.

Aaron Rowand led off the sixth with a double, went to third on Dellucci's fly to center and scored on Bell's sac fly to right to make the score 7-3.  It was as close as the Phillies would get. 

Rollins was 1-for-3 with the homer and a walk.  He's picked it up in June after a horrid May, he's hitting .283 for the month.

Utley 1-for-4 with a double.  He's just 3-for-his-last-17.

Abreu 2-for-4 with two strikeouts.  In the last three games he's gone 4-for-11 with two walks and scored one run, which came when he drove himself in with a homer.

In the cleanup spot, Howard was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and left three men on base. 

The good news is pretty limited, but Rowand may be coming around.  He's 3-for-his-last-8 with a homer and a double.  He's still on-basing .294 in his last 47 at-bats.

Dellucci 0-for-4 with a strikeout and four men left on base.  Bell was 0-for-3 with a strikeout and three men left on base. 

Coste 0-for-4 and left two men on base.  He's still looking for his first major league hit.  He did make a great throw in the sixth, throwing from his knees to catch Jose Reyes stealing second.  If only they had given him seven runs for it.

Cory Lidle and Steve Trachsel this afternoon.

Scott Mathieson will come up from Double-A to start on Saturday for the Phillies at home against Tampa Bay.

Reliever Julio Santana will have Tommy John surgery and is out for the year.

Note:

I have added a log of starts by Phillies pitchers.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the rotation
June 14 2006

There are no must-win games in June, which is fortunate for the Phillies who looked like they would have had trouble beating anybody last night.  The Phillies got a start from Ryan Madson that was bad even as far as Ryan Madson starts go.  They also put together a defensive inning in the top of the sixth that persons under 17 should have been prevented from seeing without the consent of their parent or legal guardian.  They lost the game 9-7.

The loss drops the Phillies record on the year to 33-31.  They have lost four of their last five.  It feels like the Phillies should be about to go on a tear, but it didn't start last night.

Ryan Madson got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing six earned runs on eight hits and a walk. Five of the eight hits went for extra-bases, three home runs and two doubles.  The guys the Phillies have used in the starting rotation have made it tough to win for a lot of the year and last night was more of the same.  Madson has been really good as a reliever and awful as a starter -- I'm not sure why this is but it seems like the time to pontificate on the subject might be when it's not costing you games.  I'm up for trying pretty much anything at this point, as long as it's something different.  Ryan Franklin hasn't looked real good, but last season, in the worst year of his career, he posted a 5.10 ERA.  If he had posted the same nasty 5.10 ERA in 2006 while starting for the Phillies he still would have been an improvement over the 21 starts they have now given to Floyd and Madson.  It would have been better than Lieber's 5.79 ERA as well, but obviously Lieber belongs in the rotation.  The Phillies made a gutsy decision out of spring training, putting both Floyd and Madson into the rotation after trading away Padilla.  It was a disaster.  Hopefully the experience that Floyd and Madson have gotten in the rotation puts them in position to contribute later, but besides that there aren't a lot of positives to take from their starts.

The Mets jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the top of the first.  Reyes led off with a bunt single.  The fact that Howard is a really bad defensive player isn't going to stay a secret for long -- I would be bunting near first a lot if I was playing the Phillies and sending speedy players to hit left-handed to the plate.  Reyes stole second on a pitchout.  LoDuca singled, which scored Reyes to make it 1-0.  Beltran was up next and hit it hard, but right to Utley for the first out of the game.  Madson seemed to get it together, getting up on Delgado 0-2 before hitting him with a pitch then getting the next two Mets to end the inning.

The Phillies tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the first and Madson got a 1-2-3 second.

The Phillies were up 2-1 going into the top of the third.  Reyes led off with a double and scored on a two-run homer by Beltran to make it 3-2.  Delgado followed Beltran with another ball smoked out to right to make it 4-2.

Madson got through the fourth and fifth without allowing a run.  In the fourth, Milledge led off with a single before Fasano and Rollins combined to make a nice play to get two outs.  Glavine bunted right in front of home plate, Fasano pounced on it and made a strong throw to second and Rollins made a nice turn to get the double-play.

The top of the sixth inning was like one of those progressive stories you might have been part of at summer camp, where one person makes up part of the story and the next person makes up the next part until the whole thing is so ridiculous everyone just agrees to put an end to it.  Whoever came up with the part where Utley throws it away and Howard and Fasano do a Keystone Cops thing where they fall all over each other, that's a kid to watch -- he may be the next Stephen King. 

The inning started with the game tied at 4-4 and the Phillies having just blown a huge opportunity.  With bases loaded and one out, Rowand popped out and Bell grounded out to keep the game tied.  As if the Phillies might not have been sure they had left one get away and needed to be reminded, David Wright led off the top of the sixth with a solo homer to make the score 5-4.  Jose Valentin doubled.  Endy Chavez bunted and Howard let his awful fielding skills go to work.  He was charged as an error when he couldn't field the ball cleanly and Chavez was safe at first, Valentin at third, still with nobody out.  Madson hit Milledge to load the bases.  Brian Sanches came in to pitch for Madson, facing Julio Franco who was hitting for Chad Bradford.  Franco hit a hot shot to Utley for an out, but Utley threw to first to try to double Milledge off and the ball was out of Howard's reach.  Howard and Fasano chased after it, Chavez scored from third and the Mets had runners at second and third with one out.  The Phillies intentionally walked Reyes to load the bases with the score 6-4.  Paul LoDuca followed with a ball hit to third.  Bell ranged to his left and it bounced off his glove.  The Phillies didn't record an out and another run scored to make it 7-4.  LoDuca was given a single, but it was the third bad defensive play of the inning for the Phillies.  Had he fielded the ball Bell may have been able to start an inning-ending double-play.  Aaron Fultz replaced Sanches to pitch to Beltran and got Carlos to hit a ground ball to third, which Bell bobbled and then threw home.  His throw was bad, allowing two runs to come in and make the score 9-4.  Fultz gave up a single to Delgado to load the bases again, still with just one out, but then did a nice job to get out of the inning, getting Wright to pop out and Valentin to strike out. 

The Phillies relievers did a really nice job in the inning.  Sanches came in a tough situation, bases loaded with nobody out, and got what could have easily been a line out into a double-play and a double-play ground ball to Bell.  Fultz did a great job to clean up the mess that had been made by Utley, Howard and Bell and give the Phillies a chance.

Franklin followed and two scoreless innings without looking especially good.  He allowed two hits and two walks, including a leadoff double to Endy Chavez, but dropped his ERA to 4.46 on the year.  The Phillies still need a starter for Saturday's game against the Devil Dogs.  Apparently the primary candidates are Franklin or a return of Gavin Floyd with Scott Mathieson as a dark horse candidate.  I hope it's Franklin, but the Phillies may be forced to pitch him out of the pen before he gets a chance to start. 

Geoff Geary pitched the ninth, loading the bases on a double, an intentional walk and a hit by pitch, but got out of the inning without allowing a run.  He hasn't been charged with a run in his last 10 2/3 innings. 

After Madson's awful start the pen did a really nice job, they were charged with a run in four innings.  Sanches got stuck with it after he intentionally walked Reyes to load the bases in the sixth -- Jose would come around to score with an assist to wretched fielders everywhere.

Against lefty Tom Glavine, the Phillies lineup went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Rowand (7) Bell (8) Fasano.

The Phillies got a solo homer from Rollins to lead off the first and a solo homer from Rowand to lead off the second.  Abreu hit a solo homer with one-out in the third to bring the Phillies within a run at 4-3. 

Rollins led off the bottom of the fifth with his second homer of the day, tying the game at 4-4.  The Phillies would lose a huge opportunity in the fifth, loading the bases with one out before Rowand popped out and Bell grounded out to end the inning.

Fasano led off the sixth with a single and Victorino pinch hit for Fultz.  It was another example of Manuel using Victorino earlier in the game with Roberson available to backup Burrell in left in the late innings.  Victorino hit into a fielder's choice for the first out and Rollins hit into an inning-ending double-play.

Nothing for the Phillies in the seventh, but the bottom of the order got it done in the eighth.  Bell hit a one-out single and Fasano followed with a double that sent him to third before Dellucci followed with a three-run homer.  There are two things I can't believe about Dellucci -- (1) That the Phillies are really just going to let him get about 200 at-bats for the year and (2) that no other team wants him.

After the Dellucci homer in the eighth, Rollins followed with a one-out walk.  Utley struck out and, in a 9-7 game in the bottom of the eighth inning, Rollins was caught stealing.  Words fail me, but here's the best I can do:  That's the worst decision of the game.  His job was to stand on first base and see if Abreu or Burrell can hit a two-run homer to tie the game.  If the Phillies don't have a don't-even-think-about-stealing sign they need to get one today.

The Mets brought in Billy Wagner with one out in the bottom of the eighth, he struck out Utley and got Rollins on the caught stealing to end the inning.

In the bottom of the ninth, Abreu led off with a walk and Burrell scorched the ball down the line at third.  David Wright made a tremendous play, fielding the ball and starting a double-play to kill the Phillies rally off of old pal Wagner.  Howard followed with a single but Rowand struck out to end the game.

The Mets called on Wagner to get five outs.  He didn't look real impressive, but he did the job.  He got five outs, one came on the Rollins caught stealing and two came on the shot Burrell hit to third.

Cliff Floyd tested out his sprained left ankle and was apparently still not ready to go.  He still may appear in the series.

Brett Myers and Orlando Hernandez tonight.

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