Baseball Books (Ads)
-Ted Williams at War (7/06)

-Mickey Mantle : Stories and Memorabilia from a Lifetime with The Mick (10/06)

-Babe Ruth : A Biography (Baseball's All-Time Greatest Hitters) (7/06)

-The Echoing Green : The Untold Story of Bobby Thomson, Ralph Branca and the Shot Heard Round the World (9/06)

-Baseball : A History of America's Favorite Game (8/06)


-Game of Shadows

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June 27 2006

The Phillies game with the Orioles scheduled for tonight has been rained out.  It will be played tomorrow at 1:35 as part of a day/night double-header.

The Phillies lineup for the game that wasn't had Burrell at DH and Victorino in left field against lefty Erik Bedard.  Thank goodness.  I was poised to flip out if Burrell was on the bench against the lefty.

Interesting mailbag on the Phillies web site from Monday. beat writer Ken Mandel answers a question from a reader about something I've thought was a Phillies mistake for a long time -- why isn't Franklin in the rotation?  I thought the response was interesting.  He makes it sound like the Phillies have no confidence in Franklin and Ryan is pretty unhappy about it.  I would be too given the performances of the guys they gave the jobs to.  I can't believe they would have more confidence in Madson at this point.  You can read the question and answer here.

June 27 2006

Brett Myers will take a leave of absence from the team through the All-Star break.  Nice move by everyone.  Read about it at

This makes it less likely he'll start on Thursday.  Ryan Madson would seem to be a candidate to take the hill in his place, but we'll have to wait and see.

June 27 2006

Do you remember the scene in Silence of the Lambs where Senator Martin looks at the heavily restrained Hannibal Lecter and says, seething, "Take this 'thing' back to Baltimore"? It kind of sums up nicely the way I feel about the Phillies at this point. 

The Phils need to start doing the big things right.  Did you see Bell's well-executed bunt in the top of the twelfth yesterday?  Nifty.  How 'bout Abreu leading off the bottom of the eleventh with a walk or Shane Victorino going first to third on Coste's seventh inning single?  All swell.  And the three-run homer in the tenth?  What?  Never happened?  Oh.  Oh yeah, I remember now.  I suggest the following game plan against the 35-42 Orioles:  everybody go out there and try to go 1-for-4 with three strikeouts and a three-run homer.  Let's see how that goes.

The Phillies finally managed to get some big hits at big times yesterday, coming off the bats of Rollins and Utley.  They scored seven runs and came up short anyway.  Pat Burrell has apparently become the poster-boy for the Phillies recent struggles.  Granted he has been awful of late, 0-for-his-last-15 with nine strikeouts in a lot of big spots, but to put the team's miserable stretch completely on his shoulders is absurd.  Yesterday the team went into the bottom of the twelfth with a one-run lead and Clay Condrey gave up two runs.  Earlier in the game Boston got six straight hits against Phillies pitching.  Chase Utley is hitting .221 in June, David Bell .209 and Aaron Rowand .217.  Ryan Howard is 2-for-his-last-18 with nine strikeouts.  Sal Fasano is 1-for-his-last-14.  After the Phillies did not start Burrell yesterday there are apparently thoughts of sitting him in Baltimore.  It would be a mistake, especially in a DH series.  Even with his horrible run he remains in the top 20 in the NL in home runs, RBI, slugging and OPS.

The Phillies limp into Baltimore tonight for the first of three against the Orioles.  The Phils are mired in futility, losers of five straight and looking hopeless at five games below .500.  They are in second place in the NL East and twelve games behind the New York Mets.  The Orioles are 35-42 and 5-5 in their last ten.  They come off a series against the Nationals at home where they took two of three.

The Phillies .253 batting average is worst in the NL.  They are tied for sixth in the NL in runs.  Baltimore leads the AL in stolen bases, thanks to Corey Patterson and Brian Roberts, and is ninth in the AL in runs. 

Baltimore has allowed the second most runs in the AL and the fourth most hits.  The 750 hits that Phillies pitchers have allowed is the second worst in the NL and they have allowed the fourth most runs. 

Miguel Tejada (312/366/513), catcher Ramon Hernandez (285/346/506) and Jay Gibbons (274/312/495) have been the big hitters for the Orioles this year.  Shortstop Tejada leads in the team in home runs (16) and RBI (54).  Catcher Hernandez is putting up another solid year after coming over from the Padres.  Gibbons has been out since mid-June with a knee issue, leaving the Orioles with some problems.  Corey Patterson (289/333/443), Nick Markakis (233/310/312) and Luis Matos (204/277/343) are getting a lot of time in the Baltimore outfield with some help from Brandon Fahey (265/312/342).  Patterson leads the group with a .333 on-base percentage.  Markakis has ten extra-base hits in 189 at-bats and Matos is on-basing .277.

Joining Tejada in the infield are Kevin Millar (236/342/366), Brian Roberts (309/376/395) and Melvin Mora (289/354/425).  Millar's .366 slugging percentage at first base isn't so impressive, but Roberts has been getting on-base again this year.  Roberts has yet to hit a home run this season.  Last year, after never hitting more than five in a year in his career, he hit 18. 

Javy Lopez (282/329/437) shares time with Hernandez at catcher and DH.  Hernandez was in an awful 0-for-23 slump, which he broke out of on Thursday with two home runs.  Ramon has five hits in his last eleven at-bats. 

There are plenty of developments around Tejada of late.  Most notably, according to an article in today's Washington Post, which you can read here, the Orioles are looking to trade him and his name has come up associated with the Jason Grimsely affair.

Righty Chris Ray is the Orioles closer.  He's posted 19 saves and a 3.38 ERA.  Opponents are hitting .198 against him and he's struck out 30 in 32 innings.  He has allowed five home runs, four of which have come against lefties.  He is joined in the pen by righties Latroy Hawkins, Todd Williams, Sendy Rleal, and Chris Britton.  Opponents are hitting .287 against Hawkins (lefties .309) and .339 against Williams and neither of the two are striking out many batters.  Rleal has allowed fewer hits, pitching to a 3.55 ERA, but has allowed six homers and 19 walks in 33 innings.  Chris Britton has been good, striking out 20 in 25 2/3 innings while allowing just 21 hits.  Lefty Bruce Chen was moved to the pen earlier this month.  Opponents are hitting .336 against him and he has a 6.75 ERA in 60 innings.  They also use lefty Kurt Birkins in relief, he has thrown to a 1.23 ERA in 22 innings.  He's allowed just 11 hits but walked 11 and has not allowed a home run.  Opponents are hitting .151 against him and lefties .111, so we may see him in the late innings against Utley, Abreu, Howard and Dellucci.

The series will be a showdown of teams with horrid starting pitching.  Each team comes in with an identical ERA for their starting pitchers:  5.53.  For the Phillies, the mark is worst in the NL.  For the Orioles, it's second worst.

Cole Hamels (1-3, 4.41) faces lefty Eric Bedard (7-6, 5.09) tonight in the series opener.  Bedard comes off of a start on Wednesday against the Marlins in which he was brilliant.  He got the win, going eight innings and holding the Fish to just two hits.  He struck out 12.  Righties have hit him this year, which is another reason it would be a mistake to sit Burrell tonight.  I would be really surprised if Manuel did.  Hamels comes off of a good start on Wednesday against the Yankees.  He went seven innings and held New York to two runs on six hits.    He lost when the Phillies managed to bang out three hits and got shut out, but let's stay positive.

Scott Mathieson (0-1, 4.22) gets career start number two against righty Kris Benson (8-5, 4.06) tomorrow night. Benson also comes off of a nice start against the Marlins.  On Thursday he went eight innings, allowing one run on six hits.  He's allowed 12 hits and two runs in his last 16 innings.  Curiously, righties are hitting .277 against him and lefties .233, which has not been the pattern over his career.  Mathieson went 4 2/3 innings of good relief when he was called on to rescue Ryan Madson from Madson's most recent wretched start on Friday.  He gave up just one run against the Red Sox on a seventh inning homer to Manny Ramirez.  He didn't have as much luck in his one other start, which came June 17 against the Devil Rays.  He did go six innings, but allowed four runs on eight hits.  He's pitched just 10 2/3 innings total on the year, but righties are hitting .357 against him.

Brett Myers (5-3, 3.86) faces righty Rodrigo Lopez (5-8, 6.45) on Thursday night.  Lopez is yet another Baltimore pitcher coming off of a solid start.  On Friday against the Nationals, he went seven innings, holding Washington to a run on seven hits.  Opponents are hitting .298 against him and lefties .324.  He's allowed an amazing 19 home runs, which ties him for the lead in all of baseball with three others.  It might not matter when it happens, but sooner or later the Phillies are going to explode and beat somebody like 17-6 or something.  When it happens it might be against a righty that gets hit hard by lefties and gives up a lot of long balls.  Brett Myers can expect the boos when he takes the mound Thursday.  He pitched on Saturday at Boston and went five innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and four walks.  He's walked to many of late, ten in his last 11 2/3 innings.  In his 16 starts he's allowed more than three runs just twice.  He's walking a ton of lefties, 5.66 per nine innings compared to 1.75 per nine innings for righties. 

Seekers of Orioles blog may want to check out Camden Chat.

June 26 2006

Terror this afternoon in downtown Boston as a vicious Philadelphia Phillies offense briefly (very briefly, don't-blink briefly) ran amuck, forcing the Red Sox to call on no less than seven relievers before finally putting the thought-to-be legendary beast down.  Calm has been restored to the area, but if you live nearby it couldn't hurt to buy some duct tape.

This is getting absurd.  It is entertaining, however, and whoever they hired as the scriptwriter has no equal.  That thing where Ryan Howard tries to bunt for a single in the eleventh with the go-ahead run on first?  Brilliant.

The Phillies lost again.  This time it was 8-7 in twelve innings after they came back from 6-0 to go up 7-6 in the top of the twelfth.  It's the fifth straight loss for the Phillies and the second straight walkaway whatever from David Ortiz.  The loss drops the Phillies to 35-40 on the year. 

Cory Lidle got the start and pitched better than his line.  He went 5 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on five hits and three walks.  Two of the five hits went for extra-bases, both doubles.

Lidle got a 1-2-3 first and did a great job in the second.  After giving up a leadoff double to Manny Ramirez he got Nixon to fly to right for the first out.  Mike Lowell followed and hit a ball to right-center, Rowand and Abreu ran into each other and the ball was knocked loose from Rowand.  Lowell was safe at second, Ramirez went to third and Rowand was charged with an error.  Lidle got out of it, though, getting Crisp to pop out to the infield and striking out Mirabelli.

Lidle had another good inning in the third, getting the first two and walking #2 hitter Alex Cora on a 3-2 pitch that sure looked like a strike.  Ortiz followed and Lidle struck him out to end the inning.  He followed it up with a 1-2-3 fourth that kept the game a 0-0 tie.

In the fifth he got the first two before Alex Gonzalez singled to left on a ball trapped by Victorino for a single.  Youkilis followed with a walk, but Lidle got Cora to ground out and end the inning.

In the sixth, Ortiz led off with a walk and went to second on a Ramirez single.  Nixon hit it hard, but flew out to right, bringing Phillies-killer Mike Lowell to the plate with one out and runners on first and second.  Lowell singled, scoring Ortiz from second and putting Boston up 1-0.  Coco Crisp followed with a ground rule double, scoring Ramirez and sending Lowell to third with one out and the score 2-0 Boston.  With righty Doug Mirabelli up, Manuel went to his pen, calling on Geoff Geary.  Mirabelli singled, scoring the runner on third and making the score 3-0.  Alex Gonzalez followed with another single, the fourth straight hit for Boston, which made the score 4-0 with runners on first and second and one out.  Youkilis doubled, making it 5-0 with runners on second and third and Cora at the plate.  Manuel went to the pen for the second time in the inning, bringing on Fultz.  Boston called on pinch-hitter Mark Loretta against the lefty Fultz.  Loretta reached on an infield single for the sixth straight Boston hit, loading the bases for David Ortiz with one out.  The Phillies finally broke the string as Ortiz grounded out to first, scoring the runner from third extend the lead to 6-0.  Fultz intentionally walked Manny Ramirez to load the bases for Trot Nixon.  Nixon popped out to Rollins and end the inning.

After getting two hits through the first five innings, the Red Sox put up six runs on seven hits in the sixth.

Geary faced three batters, all of who got hits, a double and two singles.  He's allowed six hits in his last 1 2/3 innings and has been charged with three runs.

Ryan Franklin came in to pitch the bottom of the seventh after the Phillies put up five in the top of the inning to make the score 6-5. He kept Boston off the board with the help of a terrific throw from Chris Coste who nailed Coco Crisp trailing to swipe second.   Franklin returned and threw a 1-2-3 eighth.

Cormier came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth in a 6-6 game and got lefty Ortiz to lead off the inning.  The Phillies left him in to pitch to the righty Ramirez, which I was sure was a mistake.  It worked as Cormier got Ramirez to ground to short for the second out.  Righty Gabe Kapler hit for lefty Trot Nixon and flew out to left to end the inning.

In a move that defies reason, Cormier, who had gotten more than three outs in a game once this season, came back to pitch the bottom of the tenth.  He walked Mike Lowell to lead off the inning on four pitches.  Crisp bunted him to second.  Varitek pinch hit for Mirabelli and was intentionally walked.  With one out and Lowell at second, Gordon came on to pitch to Alex Gonzalez.  Flash got a double-play on a lineout to Utley at second when
Lowell was caught too far off the bag.  Manuel got away with one there.

Gordon pitched the bottom of the eleventh and Boston loaded the bases with one out on a double and two walks.  Flash got out of it, though, getting a ground ball to short with the infield in that Rollins made a nice play on to get the runner at home.  Gordon then got Lowell to ground out and end the inning.

Clay Condrey came in for the twelfth with the Phillies up 7-6.  He gave up a leadoff double to Crisp before getting the next two batters and putting the Phillies perilously close to victory.  No worries, though.  Youkilis singled to left and I honestly believe Victorino was going to throw Crisp out at the dish, but Shane bobbled the ball then threw it home hopelessly late.  It was the wrong place to throw it.  Second base would have been a nice place to throw it.  Bell couldn't cut it off and Youkilis did a nice job getting to second.  Condrey walked Loretta, and Youkilis scored on an Ortiz single to give Boston an 8-7 win.

The Phillies lineup against righty Tim Wakefield went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Howard (5) Rowand (6) Dellucci (7) Victorino (8) Bell (9) Coste.  It was the same lineup that Manuel tried to use yesterday in the game that was rained out.  Burrell rests with Dellucci at DH and Victorino in left field.  Howard hits in the cleanup spot for the seventh time this
year, going into the game he was 4-for-24 in the #4 hole.  Bell drops down to #8 in the lineup, where he was 1-for-6 this year going into the game.  Coste gets a start for Fasano, who must be weary.  Fasano is on a pace to appear in 100 games this year, coming into the season his career high was 74 in 1998.

Wakefield came in to the game having been much more effective against lefties than righties.  Righties were 261/333/451 against him and lefties 190/253/275 and the Phillies switch-hitters in the lineup responded by hitting righty against him rather than lefty.  It's a nice move, but given that was the approach it makes it a little more surprising the Phillies had the best righty on the team start the game on the bench.  Granted, given Burrell's recent struggles the Phillies best hitter may have been on the bench considering a career in professional softball, but still.

The Phillies got five hits and a walk off of Wakefield in the first four innings.  In the first, Howard flew out with two outs and Abreu on third.  In the second, Bell grounded into an inning-ending double-play with runners on first and second.  In the third, Rollins made it to second with one out before Utley flew out and Abreu struck out to end the inning.  And in the fourth, Rowand and Dellucci had back-to-back singles to make it first and third with one out before Victorino struck out and Bell popped out.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the fifth and the sixth.

In the seventh they loaded the bases against Wakefield.  Dellucci reached on an error by Loretta that was later called a hit, Victorino was hit by a pitch and Bell walked to start the inning.  The Red Sox brought in Rudy Seanez to pitch to Coste who got the first hit of the inning, a single, which brought in Dellucci and made it 6-1 with the bases still loaded and nobody out.  A three-run triple by Rollins made it 6-4 with nobody out and a runner on third with Utley up and the Red Sox brought in lefty Javier Lopez.  Utley walked.  Abreu followed with a ground out to second that scored Rollins and moved Utley to second with one out and Howard at the plate and the Phillies down 6-5.  Howard struck out for the
second out of the inning.  The Red Sox walked the righty Rowand to bring up the lefty Dellucci with two outs and runners on first and second.  Manuel called on Burrell to pinch-hit and Francona called on righty Mike Timlin.  Timlin struck him out to end the inning.

The Phillies scored five runs in the inning, getting just two hits -- a single from Coste and the triple from Rollins.

The Phillies got a two-out double from Coste in the eighth, the first extra-base hit of his career.  Boston brought in the unhittable Papelbon and Jimmy Rollins didn't hit him, grounding to first to end the inning.

You know who did hit him, though?  Chase Utley, who led off the top of the ninth with a solo home run to tie the game at 6-6.  And Abreu didn't hit him but he walked him, getting a pass to first with nobody out.  Howard struck out for the first out of the inning.  Rowand followed with a ground ball to second that wasn't hit hard enough for a double-play.  Papelbon struck out Burrell to end the inning.

Utley's home run off of Papelbon was the first the pitcher had allowed in 35 games this year.

Chris Coste got another two-out hit in the tenth, giving the Phillies a chance to go ahead in that inning against Julian Tavarez.  Rollins followed with a walk and Utley got a chance to put the Phillies ahead with two on and two out.  Utley grounded out to first

In the eleventh, Bobby Abreu led off with a walk and Ryan Howard tried, really, to bunt for a base hit against the shift before striking out.  I didn't make that up.  I wouldn't do that to you and I'm not that creative.  Abreu stole second before Rowand and Burrell were retired to end the inning.  Burrell didn't strike out this time, though, grounding to third so he's on a mini hot streak heading to Baltimore. 

Tied 6-6 in the top of the twelfth, Victorino led off with a single and went to second on a Bell sacrifice bunt.  Coste grounded out, moving Victorino to third before Rollins got his second huge hit of the day, a double that put the Phillies up 7-6.  Utley popped out to end the inning.

Rollins had a great day, going 3-for-6 with a walk and four RBI.  He was 7-for-15 in the series.

Utley had the huge home run off of Papelbon.  He was 1-for-6 on the day.  In the series he was 3-for-15.

Abreu 1-for-4 with two walks and 4-for-12 with two doubles in the series.

Howard 0-for-6 with three strikeouts.  2-for-14 with seven strikeouts in the series.

Pat Burrell was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and four men left on base.  0-for-12 with seven strikeouts in the series and 0-for-his-last-15 with nine strikeouts.  Dellucci was 2-for-2 today and 4-for-7 in the series.  Dellucci's line for the season is an impressive 296/348/543 in an unimpressive 81 at-bats.

Rowand was 1-for-5 today and 2-for-12 in the series. 

Victorino was 2-for-5 on the day but his unfortunate bobble in the bottom of the twelfth was huge.  He's at 317/378/480 on the year.

David Bell was 0-for-4 today and 1-for-10 in the series. 

Chris Coste did a great job today.  He went 3-for-6.  Fasano was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in the series and is 2-for-his-last-18. 

During the three games in Boston, Utley, Burrell, Rowand, Howard and Bell combined to go 8-for-63 (.127).

Phillies play the Baltimore Orioles tomorrow night in Baltimore.

June 26 2006

Time is not running out on the Phillies.  Just the opposite is true.  Time is on their side.  It's June.

What's not on their side apparently is their starting pitching, which has been horrible.  The whole team has been horrible of late, in fact, looking like they have about as much of a chance to make the playoffs as they do of winning the Super Bowl.  The thing to worry about, though, isn't the date or even the Phillies record -- it's that the Phillies have had the same problem all season long and haven't found the answer yet.

The good news is that's there is still time to fix it.  The Phillies have a very good offense and are going to score runs (possible exception:  the last three games, in which they've scored five).  Madson, Floyd, Mathieson and Brito aren't going to take them to the next level this year, however.  Maybe in 2009.

In each of the past three years a team in the National League that has finished June with a record of .500 or below has made the playoffs.  Houston did it last year, finishing June six games under and went to the World Series.  Atlanta was three games under in 2004.  Florida was at .500 in 2003 and went on to win the World Series. 

Over the past three years, 25% of the teams that have made the playoffs in the National League ended June with a record that was .500 or worse.  Two of them went to the World Series.

Year Team 6/30 Record Final Record
2005 Houston 35-41 89-73
2004 Atlanta 37-40 96-66
2003 Florida 42-42 91-71

June 25 2006

This afternoon's game between the Phillies and Red Sox has been postponed due to rain.  It will be played tomorrow at 1:05 before the Phils head to Baltimore for a game Tuesday night.

The Phillies lineup that would-have-been against righty Tim Wakefield had Victorino in left and Dellucci at DH.  Chris Coste was to catch Cory Lidle.  No objection to trying to get Burrell or Fasano a rest.  Burrell is 0-for-his-last-12 with seven strikeouts and Fasano is 1-for-his-last-14 with six strikeouts.  Of course the team is averaging under two runs a game in their last three games, so it's not like a lot of guys are really tearing it up at this point.

Lieberthal will catch Lieber in a rehab start on Tuesday and the Phillies are apparently targeting the Pittsburgh series July 7-9 for a possible Lieber return.  Lieber is among my favorite hurlers in recent memory with a 5.79 ERA.

June 24 2006

The Phillies sure aren't making it easy on their fans these days.  They're in a terrible rut, 2-8 in their last ten games and 3-12 in their last fifteen.  The good news for the Phillies is that the sun will come up tomorrow.  The bad news is that when it does they'll still be four games under .500 and looking about as lost as a team can look.

Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies today, appearing in a tempest of his own creation that developed when he was arrested in Boston just a day before.  The Phillies seem to be content, at least publicly, to ignore the situation.  Their fans deserve better.

The Phillies fell today for the fourth straight game, losing to Boston 5-3 in ten innings.  The loss drops their record on the season to 35-39.  The Phillies have the talent to turn this season around, but they're digging themselves a bigger and bigger hole each day.

Myers went five innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and four walks.  Just one of the hits, a Mike Lowell home run, went for extra-bases.  Myers has pitched to a 7.13 ERA in five June starts, allowing 36 hits and an ugly 15 walks in 24 innings.

Myers started the bottom of the first with a 2-0 lead.  He got the leadoff man before allowing back-to-back singles to make it first and third with one out.  Ramirez followed with a sac fly that brought a run in from third and made the score 2-1.  Myers walked the next batter before getting Varitek to ground out and end the inning.

With the Phillies still up 2-1, Mike Lowell led off the bottom of the second with a home run to tie the game at 2-2.  Myers struck out Coco Crisp for the first out of the inning before Alex Gonzalez followed with a single.  Youkliss followed with a ground ball to third and the Phillies forced Gonzalez at second for the second out of the inning.  Youkilis stole second and scored on a Loretta single to put Boston up 3-2 before Myers intentionally walked Ortiz and got Ramirez to end the inning.

Myers kept the Red Sox off the board in the third, fourth and fifth.  He got 1-2-3 innings in the third and fourth.  In the fifth he gave up two singles and a walk but emerged unscathed with the help of a double-play ball from Ortiz.

Geoff Geary started the sixth for the Phillies after Myers had thrown 115 pitches through five.  Geary got a 1-2-3 sixth and the Phillies took a 3-2 lead in the top of the seventh.  Geary started the seventh and got Youkilis to for the first out of the inning.  With lefty Alex Cora up, Manuel brought in Cormier who got Cora and Ortiz to end the inning.  Cora had come in to play second base in the top of the seventh after righty Loretta left with a mild neck strain, which put the Red Sox in a situation with back-to-back lefties in their #2 and #3 spots and made it a nice move for Manuel to call on Cormier when he did.

With the score still 3-3, Rhodes pitched a scoreless eighth.  He gave up a leadoff walk but got Nixon to hit into a double-play and Varitek to ground out and end the inning. 

Ryan Franklin, not Gordon, pitched the bottom of the ninth in a still tied game.  He had a 1-2-3 inning facing the bottom three men in the Red Sox order.

Gordon did come in the bottom of the tenth to face the top of the order and things didn't go well.  He got Youkilis to start the inning, but Cora followed with a single and Ortiz won it with a two-run homer.

The Phillies lineup against righty Curt Schilling was the same as yesterday's:  (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Rowand (7) Dellucci (8) Bell (9) Fasano.

The Phils jumped out to a rare lead in the top of the first.  Rollins led off with a bunt single and Utley blooped one into center before Abreu followed with a two-run double.  They stranded Abreu on second on two strikeouts and a ground out.

Down 3-2 in the seventh, the Phillies loaded the bases with nobody out and Sal Fasano due to hit.  Manuel went to his bench, calling on Shane Victorino to hit.  Victorino hit the ball hard, but right at shortstop Alex Gonzalez for the first out of the inning.  Jimmy Rollins followed with a single to right, moving everybody up a base and tying the game at 3-3.  The Phillies needed more but didn't get it.  Utley followed and grounded into a double-play to end the inning.

The Phillies offense has disappeared.  In the last three games they have scored five runs.

Jonathan Papelbon came in with two outs in the eighth and shut them down for 2 1/3 innings, striking out Dellucci in the eighth with two outs and runners on first and second and Burrell in the ninth with two outs and the bases loaded.  The Phillies struck out 15 times today and have struck out 36 times in their last three games.

Rollins was 3-for-5.  Utley 1-for-5 and grounded into the double-play in the seventh.  Chase left five men on base.

Abreu was 2-for-4 with a walk and the big first-inning double.  Burrell was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and left five men on base.

Howard was 2-for-5 with two doubles.  Rowand 1-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts.

Dellucci was 2-for-5 and left three men on base.  Bell 0-for-3 with a walk and Fasano 0-for-2.  In the first two games of the series, the last four hitters in the Phillies lineup, Rowand, Dellucci, Bell and Fasano combined to go 4-for-25 with 11 strikeouts.

The Phillies sent Chris Roberson back to Triple-A to make room for reliever Rick White.  I'd be surprised if Rick White is the answer but at least Roberson gets to go somewhere and play.  He got three at-bats since coming up on June 9 and the Phillies don't need six outfielders when one of the guys on the bench (Victorino) can play all three positions well.

The Phillies will try to salvage a game tomorrow as Cory Lidle faces Tim Wakefield.

June 23 2006

How bad does Ryan Madson have to be to lose his spot in the Phillies rotation?  The world may never know.

The Phillies lost to the Boston Red Sox tonight 10-2 to drop to 35-38 on the year.  The Mets beat Toronto so the Phillies fall a full 11 games behind the New York in the NL East.

Ryan Madson got the start for the Phillies and was terrible.  He went 1 2/3 innings, giving up six runs on six hits and two walks.  Three of the six hits went for extra-bases.  His ERA is 6.40 overall and 6.90 as a starter after 12 starts.

The Red Sox jumped out to an early lead.  Madson got Youkilis to start the first, but Loretta followed and doubled to right, Ortiz walked and Manny followed with a three-run homer that put Boston up 3-0.

In the second, the Red Sox loaded the bases with no outs on a walk and two singles before Youkilis drove in two with a single up the middle to make it 5-0.  Madson got the next two before a Ramirez double scored another to put Boston up 6-0 with runners on second and third.  Manuel went to the pen, calling on Scott Mathieson with two down and runners on second and third.  Mathieson got Nixon to fly out to end the inning.

Scott Mathieson was the story of the game for the Phillies.  He was excellent, keeping Boston off the board in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth.  He started the bottom of the seventh and got hit pretty hard, giving up a leadoff home run to Manny to put the Sox up 7-2.  Trot Nixon followed that with a hard hit double to right.  Mathieson got Varitek and left the game after throwing a 1-2 pitch to Lowell that looked really odd.  The pitch was way out of the strike zone and it looked like he may have landed wrong.  With the count 2-2 on Lowell, Manuel took Mathieson out and called on Ryan Franklin.  Franklin quickly got Lowell and Crisp to end the inning.

In the bottom of the eighth, with Franklin still pitching, Gonzalez singled and Ortiz walked before Gabe Kapler, who had entered in the eighth to play left, hit a three run homer to make the score 10-2 Boston.

The Phillies lineup against righty Josh Beckett went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Abreu (4) Burrell (5) Howard (6) Rowand (7) Dellucci (8) Bell (9) Fasano.  Pat Burrell was at DH with Dellucci playing left and hitting seventh.

Beckett was perfect through five.  In the sixth Bell got the first hit for the Phillies, a solid single up the middle on a 3-2 pitch.  Fasano followed Bell with a double-play.

The Phillies got on the board in the seventh.  Rollins led off the inning with a double and Utley followed with a two-run homer to make the score 6-2.

After getting three hits in their last game, the Phillies banged out four today.

Rolllins 1-for-4 with a double.

Utley 1-for-4 with his 12th homer and first since June 9. 

Abreu was 1-for-4.  Burrell 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.  Howard 0-for-3 and struck out three times.  Rowand was 0-for-3 and struck out twice.

Dellucci 0-for-3.  Bell 1-for-3 and Fasano 0-for-2.

Also today the Phillies claimed right-handed pitcher Rick White off of waivers and will make a move to add him to their roster before tomorrow's game.  White pitched 27 1/3 innings for the Reds this season before being designated for assignment on June 19.  He was terrible with the Reds, allowing 34 hits and posting a 6.26 ERA.  White threw 75 innings for the Pirates last season, going 4-7 with a 3.72 ERA while allowing just three home runs all year.  This year he's allowed five already.

June 23 2006

Brett Myers was arrested early this morning in Boston and charged with assaulting his wife. 

Read the article at

June 23 2006

BOS 42-28 382 5.46 286 369 451 21 9
PHI 35-37 353 4.90 254 332 432 42 17
BOS 616 344 4.91 633 212 468 4.70 1.37
PHI 646 369 5.13 714 243 486 4.70 1.48

You can pretty much sum up how things are going for the Phillies by looking at the likely pitching matchup in game one of their upcoming series:  Ryan Madson faces Josh Beckett.  Oh dear.

The Phillies travel to Boston for the start of a three-game series with the Red Sox.  The Phillies come in at 35-37, in second place in the NL East and ten games behind the Mets.  The Red Sox are 42-28, leading the AL East and two games ahead of the New York Yankees. 

Phillies starters have pitched to a NL-worst 5.46 ERA and the pen is now third best in the NL with a 3.46 ERA.  Sadly for the Phillies they just went through the Yankees series, throwing their three best pitchers and lost two of three.  The day off Thursday will help them, however, as it looks like they will skip Mathieson and bring Myers back for game two of the series on Saturday.  Boston starters have thrown to an AL-seventh best 4.89 ERA, their relievers to a 4.34 (8th in AL).

Both the Phillies and Red Sox are sixth in their respective leagues in runs.  The Phillies are tied for last in the NL in batting average.  The Red Sox are second in the AL in on-base percentage. 

The race between the Yankees and the Red Sox in the AL East is going to be fun for a long time.  This year, as a team the Red Sox have posted a 286/369/451 line, the Yankees 286/370/452.

The Phillies come in on a miserable run, winners of only two of their last ten.  The Red Sox have won six straight, sweeping the Braves and the Nationals in back-to-back three game series.

The two teams met May 19-21 in Philadelphia and Boston took two of three.  The Phillies got down 5-1 in the fifth in the first game of the series and never got back into it, losing 5-3 as the Red Sox hit three home runs off of Lieber.  The Red Sox were up 8-1 in a matchup of Beckett and Brett Myers in the second game before the Phils got three in the bottom of the eighth to make the score look closer than the game was, 8-4.  Beckett and Alex Gonzalez combined to go 3-for-8 with two homers and four RBI for the Red Sox in that game.  The Phillies hit Lenny DiNardo and Abe Alvarez hard in game three to win it 10-5 with the help of five RBI from Abreu.

The Red Sox have been busy since the Phillies saw them last.  Matt Clement, Keith Foukle and Wily Mo Pena were all sent to the DL.  JT Snow was designated for assignment.  Earlier this week they got Jason Johnson from the Indians for cash.  They traded David Riske to the White Sox for lefty reliever Javier Lopez.  Coco Crisp is healthy now and playing center field.  They called up reserve outfielder Gabe Kapler and righty relievers Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen.  22-year-old lefty John Lester is up and has made three starts, two of which were good.  He's struck out 19 in his first 16 1/3 innings.

David Ortiz (267/371/553) leads the teams in home runs (21) and RBI (64).  Youkilis (319/433/510), Loretta (308/348/381) and Lowell (307/362/500) are all good hitters in the infield.  I'm guessing the Marlins are surprised about what Lowell's doing this season, after hitting a miserable .236 last year while slugging .360.  Thank goodness they didn't get more for him or maybe they would have won ten in a row.  Alex Gonzalez (255/306/351) should be the lone guy you feel good about at short, but even he's gone 6-for-his-last-11 and has his average up to .255 after being at just .219 on June 5.

Trot Nixon (333/436/500), Crisp (280/323/400) and Manny Ramirez (288/423/568) do much of the work in the outfield.  I'm not sure what's up with the Nationals pitching, but Nixon is 6-for-his-last-9 with four doubles, Crisp 5-for-his-last-13 and Ramirez 5-for-his-last-12 with two doubles and a home run.

Varitek (262/351/426) catches and went 4-for-8 with two doubles in two games against the Nats.

Five of the nine regular players for the Red Sox, Ortiz, Ramirez, Youkilis, Nixon and Lowell have been outstanding.  Varitek and Loretta have been good.  Crisp will likely pick things up a little and Gonzalez is the only one likely not to do much offensively all year.

The Phillies will need a DH in the series and look likely to go with Pat Burrell, putting Dellucci and Victorino in left.  Victorino is clearly the better defensive player but I would guess we'll see more of Dellucci given the three righties that Boston is throwing.  Dellucci has 71 at-bats on the year and two of them have come against lefties. 

The Boston pen continues to be led by righty Jonathan Papelbon, who has 23 saves and an 0.25 ERA.  He's pitched 35 2/3 innings on the year and allowed a run.  Righties are hitting .091 against him and he's struck out 35.  It's tough to spin this in a positive light for a Red Sox opponent.  Maybe this is the weekend they give Julian Tavarez a shot?  Papelbon is joined in the pen by righties Tavarez, Mike Timlin, Rudy Seanez, Craig Hansen and Manny Delcarmen.  Timlin has been very good, throwing to a 1.96 ERA.  Tavarez and Delcarman have both been hit hard, both have plus five ERAs and opponents are hitting .316 against Delcarmen and .302 against Tavarez.  Tavarez has allowed five homers in 33 1/3.  Seanez has been better, he has a 4.50 ERA but has also given up five home runs and thrown just 30 innings.  Hansen was just called back up on Tuesday but has given up five hits in 2 2/3 innings.  New acquisition Javier Lopez arrived earlier this month and gives Boston a lefty out of the pen.  He's thrown just 2 1/3 innings since coming to Boston.

Ryan Madson (7-4, 5.79) faces Josh Beckett (8-3, 5.09) tonight.  Beckett has had several horrid starts on the year, with a lot of good ones mixed in.  He pitched last on Saturday against the Braves in Atlanta got the win, allowing just two runs on three hits over six innings.  The Phillies faced him on May 20 and scored four runs off of him, three of them earned, in seven innings.  Utley and Howard homered off of him in that game.  On May 30 and June 5 he had back-to-back horrible starts against the Blue Jays and the Yankees, giving up 14 earned runs in six innings.  Not to be forgotten is the spring home run that Ryan Howard hit off of Beckett earlier this year and the bench-clearing incident that ensued.  I'm pretty sure Beckett and Howard won't have forgotten.  Howard was 1-for-4 off of Beckett with a three-run homer when they Met on May 20.  Madson has been terrible as a starter this season but comes off of a decent start on Sunday against the Devil Rays.  The Phillies got a rare win as he threw 6 2/3 innings, allowing four runs, only two of which were earned, on five hits and two walks.  Two of the hits were home runs and he's allowed five over his last two starts.  Righties are hitting .350 against him.  Really.  Last year they hit .233 against him and the year before that they hit .227.  If you're looking for an explanation you'll have to look elsewhere.  I do know for sure that the why is less important that the fact he keeps getting shelled and that the Phillies have given him way too many starts given how terrible he's been.

Brett Myers (5-3, 3.77) and righty Curt Schilling (9-2, 3.55) throw on Saturday.  The Phillies look like they will take advantage of Thursday's off-day and skip Scott Mathieson.  They may bring Mathieson back on Tuesday against Baltimore.  Schilling is tied for second in the AL in wins and sixth in strikeouts.  His eleven quality starts puts him in a tie for second in the league with several other pitchers.  Over his last two starts he's allowed three runs in 14 innings on 14 hits and three walks.  He last pitched on Sunday against the Braves, going six innings and allowing two runs on eight hits.  He has had some games where he's given up too many home runs, in three different starts he allowed three home runs in a game.  None of those starts came at home, however.  The Phillies need Brett Myers in a huge way, and he finally bounced back in his last start against the Yankees after back-to-back awful outings.  On Monday against the Yankees he went 6 2/3, allowing two runs on six hits and an unlikely six walks.  He struck out 11.  This came off of two starts where he went a total of 5 2/3 innings, allowing 11 earned runs on 16 hits.  He's walking a ton of lefties.  Righties are hitting .257 against him and lefties .279, but lefties are on-basing .372 while righties on-base .290.

Cory Lidle (4-6, 5.00) goes against righty Tim Wakefield (5-8, 3.82) on Sunday.  Wakefield last pitched Tuesday against the Nationals, going six innings and allowing just one run on four hits and a walk.  Opponents are hitting just .232 against him and lefties just .185.  Lidle pitched Tuesday against the Yankees, allowing four runs in 5 1/3 innings.  Over his last two starts Lidle has allowed nine runs in 11 1/3 innings on 14 hits.  Lefties are hitting .344 against him.

Seekers of Red Sox blog may want to check out the always entertaining Joy of Sox and Over the Monster.

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