Playoffs

Where’d everybody go?

San Francisco opened their 2010 season against the Astros and right-hander Roy Oswalt hisownself, plating three runs off of Oswalt in the third inning and going on to win 5-2. The day after that they faced Houston lefty Wandy Rodriguez and won that game 3-0 behind six shutout innings from Barry Zito.

Here were the lineups they used in the first two games of the season — one against the righty Oswalt and the other against the lefty Rodriguez:

Game one vs RHP Roy Oswalt Game two vs LHP Wandy Rodriguez
1 Rowand (CF/R) 1 Rowand (CF/R)
2 Renteria (SS/R) 2 Renteria (SS/R)
3 Sandoval (3B/S) 3 Sandoval (3B/S)
4 Huff (1B/L) 4 Huff (1B/L)
5 DeRosa (LF/R) 5 DeRosa (LF/R)
6 B Molina (C/R) 6 B Molina (C/R)
7 Bowker (RF/L) 7 Uribe (2B/R)
8 Uribe (2B/R) 8 Torres (RF/S)

Things have changed since then for San Francisco. Here are the lineups they used in their most recent game, game four of the NLDS in which Atlanta started righty Derek Lowe, and their 10/2 game in which the Padres started lefty Clayton Richard:

Game four NLDS vs RHP Lowe 10/2 vs SD LHP C Richard
1 A Torres (CF/S) 1 A Torres (CF/S)
2 F Sanchez (2B/R) 2 F Sanchez (2B/R)
3 A Huff (1B/L) 3 A Huff (1B/L)
4 B Posey (C/R) 4 B Posey (C/R)
5 P Burrell (LF/R) 5 P Burrell (LF/R)
6 J Uribe (SS/R) 6 J Guillen (RF/R)
7 M Fontenot (3B/L) 7 J Uribe (3B/R)
8 C Ross (RF/R) 8 E Renteria (SS/R)

It’s barely the same team. Six of the eight position players that started against a righty on opening day weren’t in the starting lineup when the Giants faced a righty in game four of the NLDS.

So what happened? Taking it from the top:

Aaron Rowand. Rowand was the opening day center fielder for the Giants, but hit just 230/281/378 for the season and lost his gig to switch-hitter Andres Torres. Rowand wound up starting 85 games in center with Torres starting 84, but Torres also started 38 games in right and 13 in left for the season.

Rowand hit well in the early going, but was drilled in the head by Vicente Padilla on April 16 and hit the DL with a 304/333/457 line through ten games of the season. He returned in early May and played regularly, but didn’t hit, posting a 194/228/370 line over his next 114 plate appearances. Torres was playing regularly for the Giants by mid-April and getting starts at all three positions.

Rowand did fare a bit better in the playing time he did see, hitting 273/344/436 over 61 plate appearances in June. Torres, meanwhile, was establishing himself as an everyday guy. In his 257 plate appearances between the time Rowand was hit by Padilla and the end of June, Torres saw regular playing time in all three outfield positions and put up a 282/375/459 line. Rowand tailed off offensively after June as Torres continued to roll. Rowand hit 213/278/328 over just 134 plate appearances and started just 26 of the last 85 games for San Francisco.

If it was ineffective play that lost Rowand time this year, for Renteria it was a ton of injuries. Renteria was the guy at short on opening day, but wound up starting just 62 games for the year. Juan Uribe led San Francisco in starts at short with 96.

Things went well for the 35-year-old Renteria in the early going. He missed a couple of games at the end of April with a problem with his left shoulder, but was hitting 320/366/400 in 83 plate appearances for the year after going 2-for-5 with two RBI against the Phils on April 28. He left the game on April 30 against the Rockies with tightness in his right groin. He missed several games and then started again on May 6, but aggravated the groin injury running to first in the third inning and was pulled from the game.

The Giants put him on the DL and activated him on May 22. On May 25 he injured his right hamstring and had to leave the game. He went on the DL again and returned in mid-June, but his bat went quiet after that. Renteria started the day on June 19 with a 326/372/395 line for the season, but hit just 244/321/341 over 137 plate appearances before he strained his left bicep on August 10.

He returned to start a game on September 4 and started seven games at short for the Giants between September 4 and September 17, hitting .290 without a walk but slugging .484. An elbow problem kept him out of the game on September 19 and he made just one more appearance in the regular season, starting on October 3 and going 0-for-3 with a strikeout.

Pablo Sandoval was the regular third baseman for the Giants, starting 136 games there for San Francisco. He started games one and two of the NLDS against the Braves with Mike Fontenot taking over for games three and four.

Sandoval has splits from beyond thunderdome for the season. He hit 330/382/520 at home and 208/266/299 away from home. That means he was a superstar when he was in San Francisco and unusable when he wasn’t.

He also didn’t hit left-handed pitching at all. He put up a 227/284/305 line against lefties and a 282/336/443 line against righties.

I’m not quite sure what part of the mind it is that requires me to immediate look up what he hit against lefties on the road when presented with that information, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the same part that’s tasked with charitable giving. Sandoval hit 147/221/206 against lefties on the road this year.

He started the season on fire and had a 368/433/575 line at the end of April. Since the end of April he has hit 250/303/378 and grounded into 20 double-plays. That’s a problem if you’re going to be a weak-fielding third baseman.

By September, the Giants were playing critical games down the stretch and Sandoval was often out of the lineup with Fontenot or Uribe taking over for him at third. He did have some hip issues early in the month, but they were just one factor that led to him being on the bench to start enormous games as San Francisco made their playoff push. He went 1-for-6 with a walk in an an error in the NLDS.

Mark DeRosa was in left field for the Giants when the season started. He didn’t stay for long. He played all of April and into early May and was simply terrible, hitting .194 with one home run and a .258 slugging percentage over 104 plate appearances.

He had undergone surgery on his left wrist in the off-season and was saying he felt like there was something wrong by early May. He was examined by a specialist and put on the DL. He underwent season-ending surgery at the end of June.

Pat Burrell was released by the Rays in May and picked up by the Giants. With Huff playing left field at the time and Buster Posey at first, it didn’t look like there would be much for Burrell to do but DH in interleague games. Burrell made 19 starts for the Giants in June, hitting 368/405/615 with five home runs, and San Francisco found a place for him in left field.

Bengie Molina started the year as the San Francisco catcher, but was traded to the Rangers for pitchers Chris Ray and Michael Main on July 1 after hitting 257/312/332 in 221 plate appearances for the Giants. Buster Posey was called up on May 29 and barely caught at all before July, mostly playing first base. He’s handled the catching duties since and has taken off offensively as well. Posey was hitting 289/314/381 at the end of the day on June 30, but posted a 311/370/544 line from the start of July to the end of the regular season.

John Bowker had a strong spring for the Giants and started in right field on opening day, but had hit just 207/256/354 in 90 plate appearances before the Giants sent him down to Triple-A in early June. He was traded to the Pirates at the end of July. Cody Ross was claimed off of waivers from the Marlins at the end of August and started all four games in right field for San Francisco in the NLDS — he hit 288/354/466 in 82 plate appearances for the Giants this season. Ross was the hero for the Giants in game four, going 2-for-3 with a solo home run and a pair of RBI. Jose Guillen, who was acquired in mid-August and hit 266/317/375 for the Giants in 139 plate appearances, was off the roster for the NLDS with a stiff neck. Lefty Nate Schierholtz seems like another option for the Giants in right in the series, but San Francisco seemed pretty comfortable with Ross in there against righties against the Braves and game four surely didn’t hurt his chances for playing time.

Charlie Manuel isn’t ready to say who is going to start game one of the NLCS for the Phillies yet. I am: Roy Halladay is going to start game one of the NLCS for the Phillies. Fingers crossed that Nelson Figueroa doesn’t feel slighted. Not being with the organization may help cushion the blow.

The wives of Chad Durbin and JC Romero have ties to Louisiana and Alabama and have organized a charity auction to raise funds and awareness for the National Audubon Society in the aftermath of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Autographed bats are being auctioned by MAB Celebrity Services and sold on eBay under the seller name NationalAudubonSociety.


California, here you come

The series between the Braves and the Giants is over and the Phils will face San Francisco in game one of the NLCS on Saturday.

It looks like the ten offensive players for the Giants who will have the biggest impact in the NLCS are righties Buster Posey, Freddy Sanchez, Juan Uribe, Pat Burrell and Cody Ross, lefties Aubrey Huff, Mike Fontenot and Nate Schierholtz and switch-hitters Pablo Sandoval and Andres Torres.

For the 18 players (eight for the Phils and ten for the Giants), here’s the percentage of plate appearances in which they have walked and singled this season (the numbers for Ross and Fontenot are their total numbers for the season — for everyone else it’s just their numbers with the Phils or Giants):

% BB % 1B
Pat Burrell
Carlos Ruiz
Jayson Werth
Aubrey Huff
Chase Utley
Raul Ibanez
Jimmy Rollins
Andres Torres
Ryan Howard
Shane Victorino
Nate Schierholtz
Juan Uribe
Pablo Sandoval
Buster Posey
Freddy Sanchez
Cody Ross
Mike Fontenot
Placido Polanco
13.78%
12.70%
12.58%
12.43%
12.33%
10.69%
10.15%
9.82%
9.52%
8.18%
7.94%
7.83%
7.63%
6.77%
6.68%
6.50%
5.75%
5.32%
Placido Polanco
Freddy Sanchez
Mike Fontenot
Buster Posey
Carlos Ruiz
Cody Ross
Pablo Sandoval
Chase Utley
Shane Victorino
Raul Ibanez
Ryan Howard
Aubrey Huff
Jimmy Rollins
Nate Schierholtz
Juan Uribe
Jayson Werth
Pat Burrell
Andres Torres
21.59%
20.04%
19.54%
18.28%
17.32%
16.87%
16.40%
15.46%
15.12%
15.09%
15.00%
14.82%
14.72%
14.29%
13.74%
13.65%
12.61%
12.11%

Pat the Bat is the new king of the walks group. He doesn’t have a lot of company from his fellow Giants, though, as San Francisco players occupy seven of the bottom eight slots.

Freddy Sanchez gives Polanco a run for his money as a singles hitter, but it’s going take more than his .292 with no power to catch Polanco (about six more points of batting average, I would guess). Polanco and Sanchez have been very similar offensive players this season. Sanchez was a little more likely to walk or homer, but they hit doubles and triples at a nearly identical rate while Polanco was a little more likely to single in a given plate appearance.

Here’s the plate appearances that ended in a single or a walk and the percentages of plate appearances with a double or triple:

% BB or 1B % 2B or 3B
Carlos Ruiz
Chase Utley
Aubrey Huff
Placido Polanco
Freddy Sanchez
Pat Burrell
Jayson Werth
Raul Ibanez
Mike Fontenot
Buster Posey
Jimmy Rollins
Ryan Howard
Pablo Sandoval
Cody Ross
Shane Victorino
Nate Schierholtz
Andres Torres
Juan Uribe
30.02%
27.79%
27.25%
26.91%
26.72%
26.39%
26.23%
25.79%
25.29%
25.06%
24.87%
24.52%
24.03%
23.37%
23.30%
22.22%
21.93%
21.57%
Andres Torres
Jayson Werth
Carlos Ruiz
Raul Ibanez
Nate Schierholtz
Mike Fontenot
Pablo Sandoval
Aubrey Huff
Buster Posey
Shane Victorino
Cody Ross
Jimmy Rollins
Placido Polanco
Freddy Sanchez
Pat Burrell
Juan Uribe
Ryan Howard
Chase Utley
8.95%
7.36%
6.70%
6.60%
6.35%
6.13%
6.01%
5.99%
5.64%
5.56%
5.45%
4.82%
4.82%
4.80%
4.69%
4.52%
4.52%
4.31%

Ruiz is the still the most likely member of the group to get aboard via a walk or a single. He’s widened the gap a bit from the series with the Reds in which Votto was nipping at his heels, having walked or singled in 29.78% of his plate appearances.

Perhaps the most surprising thing to me on any of the six lists is that Andres Torres was more likely to deliver a double or a triple than Werth. Torres had 82 fewer plate appearances than Werth during the regular season, but delivered six more triples and just three fewer doubles. Werth led the league with 46 doubles. Torres was fourth with 43 and seventh in the league in triples. Even forgetting the triples, Torres doubled at a higher rate than Werth (7.54% for Torres and 7.06% for Werth).

Important also to note about the doubles and triples chart is who is at the bottom. Utley and Howard was less likely to deliver a double or a triple than any of the other 16 players — five of who slugged under .400 (Rollins, Polanco, Sanchez, Schierholtz and Fontenot).

Here are the rates for home runs and strikeouts:

% HR % SO
Pat Burrell
Ryan Howard
Juan Uribe
Jayson Werth
Buster Posey
Aubrey Huff
Chase Utley
Andres Torres
Shane Victorino
Raul Ibanez
Cody Ross
Pablo Sandoval
Jimmy Rollins
Carlos Ruiz
Freddy Sanchez
Nate Schierholtz
Placido Polanco
Mike Fontenot
5.28%
5.00%
4.17%
4.14%
4.06%
3.89%
3.13%
2.81%
2.78%
2.52%
2.46%
2.11%
2.03%
1.85%
1.46%
1.19%
1.00%
0.38%
Ryan Howard
Pat Burrell
Jayson Werth
Andres Torres
Cody Ross
Raul Ibanez
Juan Uribe
Mike Fontenot
Nate Schierholtz
Freddy Sanchez
Aubrey Huff
Pablo Sandoval
Carlos Ruiz
Buster Posey
Chase Utley
Shane Victorino
Jimmy Rollins
Placido Polanco
25.32%
22.58%
22.55%
22.46%
21.27%
16.98%
16.00%
15.71%
15.08%
14.20%
13.62%
13.15%
12.47%
12.42%
12.33%
12.19%
8.12%
7.81%

Burrell with the Giants this year was both more likely to homer than Howard and less likely to strike out. He was also more likely to walk or double or triple, but Howard still hit a lot more singles.

Burrell pretty clearly outperformed his replacement Ibanez this year, at least offensively and in his time with the Giants. In 341 plate appearances with San Francisco, Burrell hit 266/364/509 with 18 home runs. Ibanez hit 16 home runs in 636 plate appearances while posting a 275/349/444 line with the Phils. Ibanez was more likely to get a hit, but Burrell walked a whole lot more and was more than twice as likely to homer in a given plate appearance.

Overall, the Phils were the better offensive team on the season by a wide margin, finishing second in the league in runs scored while the Giants finished ninth. That gap widened in the second half as the Phils led the NL with 362 runs scored and the Giants were tenth with 306. The teams went 3-3 in the six games they played in the regular season, with the Phils outscoring San Francisco 29-27.


Madson and Lidge cross their fingers the Phils don’t decide to go with 22 hitters for the NLCS

Cole Hamels was fantastic last night, throwing a complete game shutout as the Phils topped the Reds 2-0 in Cincinnati to finish off the sweep in the NLDS.

The Phils plated a run in the top of the first with the help of yet another Cincinnati error. With two outs and men on first and third, Werth hit a ground ball to short. Orlando Cabrera fielded, but his throw pulled Joey Votto off of first base and Polanco came in to score to put the Phils up 1-0. Utley hit a fifth inning home run to end the scoring for the game.

The Phils scored just 13 runs in the three game series, but thanks to the no-hitter by Halladay in game one, the shutout by Hamels in game three and four scoreless frames from the bullpen in game two, it was enough.

Cincinnati couldn’t score, but they couldn’t field either. The Reds made seven errors in three games and only seven of the 13 runs that the Phillies scored in the series were earned.

The Phillies have won their best-of-five series with the Cincinnati Reds, taking game three 2-0 to complete a three-game sweep. They will play either the Giants or the Braves in the NLCS, which starts on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and threw a complete game shutout, allowing four singles and a double. He struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter. That might not even be the best post-season start of his career — in game one of the 2008 NLDS, Hamels held the Brewers to two singles and a walk over eight shutout innings and struck out nine as the Phils won 3-1.

He faced a Cincinnati lineup that went (1) Drew Stubbs (CF/R) (2) Brandon Phillips (2B/R) (3) Joey Votto (1B/L) (4) Scott Rolen (3B/R) (5) Jonny Gomes (LF/R) (6) Ramon Hernandez (C/R) (7) Jay Bruce (RF/L) (8) Orlando Cabrera (SS/R). That’s the same eight players the Reds started in game one against the righty Halladay, but in a different order. Stubbs moves into the leadoff spot with Philips hitting second. Cabrera, who left game two with a side injury, starts but hits eighth. Hernandez moves up to sixth in the order with Bruce dropped from sixth to seventh.

Cincinnati started the game with six players on their bench, lefties Juan Francisco and Laynce Nix and righties Ryan Hanigan, Paul Janish, Chris Heisey and Miguel Cairo.

Stubbs led off the bottom of the first with the Phils up 1-0 and hit a ball in the hole between third and short. Rollins fielded and made a long, strong throw to firs that was in the first. Howard scooped it, but Stubbs beat it out for an infield single. Phillips was next and he smoked a 1-0 pitch into left center. Victorino got a great jump on the ball and caught it on a full run for the first out. Stubbs was running on the 3-2 pitch that Votto hit back to the mound. Hamels turned and looked at second, but there was no play there. He took the out at first and Rolen came to the plate with two down and Stubbs on second. Hamels struck Rolen out looking at a 96 miles per hour fastball on the inside corner for the third out.

Huge play by Victorino on the ball hit by Phillips. That sure looked like a double. The 3-4-5 hitters in the Reds lineup were 1-for-21 with a Votto single in the series at that point.

Hamels threw 15 pitches in the inning.

Gomes chopped an 0-2 pitch to third for the first out of the second inning. Hernandez was next and flew to Werth in shallow right. Votto followed him and hit a 1-1 pitch hard between first and second. Utley made a diving effort, but the ball went off his glove and Bruce had a single. Hamels struck Cabrera out swinging 3-2 to end the inning.

Two hits through two innings for Hamels, both on plays that should have been made defensively by the Phils. Hamels had thrown 31 pitches in the game after a 16-pitch second.

Hamels through quick third. The pitcher Cueto led off and bunted an 0-1 pitch, popping it up in foul territory. Ruiz took it for the first out. Stubbs flew to left on an 0-1 pitch and Phillips flew to right on an 0-1 pitch.

Just six pitches in the inning for Hamels, who was at 37 for the game.

Votto grounded hard to Utley on a 2-2 pitch to start the fourth. Rolen was next and bounced a 1-1 pitch up the middle and into center for a single Gomes got ahead 2-0 and Hamels delivered a pitch that looked high to me but was called a strike. Hamels struck him out swinging at a low changeup 3-2 for the second out. Hernandez swung at the first pitch and grounded to Utley to end the inning.

When Hamels got behind Gomes 2-0 it was the only time I had been even a little worried about him all night. He was fortunate to get the 2-0 call on a ball out of the zone, but the at-bat ended nicely at Hamels got him with a pretty pitch. He had thrown 52 pitches in the game after a 15-pitch inning.

The Phils were up 2-0 when he started the fifth. Bruce fouled out to Ruiz on a 1-0 pitch for the first out. Cabrera grounded to first for the second. That brought up the pitcher’s spot, and righty Miguel Cairo hit for Cueto. Hamels struck him out swinging 0-2 for the third out.

Nine pitches in the inning had Hamels at 61.

He struck Stubbs out swinging 3-2 for the first out of the sixth. Phillips grounded to short on a 1-1 pitch for the second out. He got ahead of Votto 0-2, then struck him out swinging at a 3-2 changeup to end the inning.

Fifteen pitches in the inning for Hamels had him at 76. He had set down eight in a row.

He struck Rolen out swinging 1-2 for the first out of the seventh. Gomes was next and Hamels threw him a 2-2 changeup that was up and over the plate. Gomes hit it hard, but not hard enough. Ibanez took it on the warning track for the second out. Hernandez was next and he ripped a 1-0 pitch into left for a double. Arroyo ran for him at second, but Hamels got Bruce to line to Werth 1-1 to end the inning.

Gomes, Hernandez and Bruce all hit the ball hard right in a row, but Hamels got away with it. He was up to 95 pitches after 19 in the frame.

Cabrera swung at the first pitch of the eighth and flew to left. Ryan Hanigan was next, he had been double-switched into the game in the top of the inning with the new pitcher Bailey moving into Hernandez’s spot. Hanigan popped a 2-0 pitch up between third and the plate in foul territory. Polanco and Ruiz couldn’t figure out who was going to catch it. Eventually Polanco tried and dropped the ball and was charged with an error. Hamels got him to ground to second for the second out and then struck Stubbs out swinging at a high fastball.

106 pitches in the game for Hamels after throwing 11 in the inning.

Phillips started the ninth and quickly got ahead 2-0. Hamels evened the count at 2-2 and then ripped a ball past a diving Polanco and into left field for a single. He threw strike one and then strike two past Votto and then got MVP to hit a 1-2 pitch to Utley and the Phils turned and easy-looking double-play. Golly. It brought Rolen to the plate as the last hope for the Reds and Hamels struck him out swinging to end the series.

The Reds scored four runs in the three-game series.

Gomes, Cairo, Hanigan, Nix, Heisey, Francisco and Janish combined to go 0-for-20.

Votto was 1-for-10 with a single and no walks.

Bruce 2-for-8 with a home run and two walks. He and Phillips were the only two Cincinnati players who on-based at least .300 in the series. Phillips was 4-for-12 with a home run and no walks.

Stubbs 1-for-9, Rolen 1-for-11. Cabrera 1-for-8 and Hernandez 1-for-7 with a double.

The Phillies lineup against righty Johnny Cueto went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Rollins (7) Ibanez (8) Ruiz. That’s the same lineup they used against Arroyo in game two. Rollins still shouldn’t be hitting ahead of Ibanez and Ibanez shouldn’t be hitting seventh.

The Phillies bench had seven offensive players to start the game, lefties Brian Schneider, Ross Gload, Domonic Brown and Greg Dobbs and righties Ben Francisco, Mike Sweeney and Wilson Valdez.

Victorino started the game and flew to right on a 1-1 pitch for the first out. Polanco followed him and lined an 0-1 pitch into left for a single. Utley hit an 0-1 pitch well, but Stubbs took it on the warning track for the second out. Howard got ahead 3-0 and flared a 3-2 pitch into left. Gomes was playing extremely deep, nearly on the warning track, and the ball fell in front of him near the foul line for a single that sent Polanco to third. Werth reached out and tapped a 3-2 pitch to short. Cabrera fielded the ball, but his throw to first was bad, on the home plate side of first, and Votto had to come off the bag to get it. Werth was safe on the error and Polanco scored to put the Phils up 1-0. Rollins swung at the first pitch and flew to center to leave the runners at first and second.

More bad defense from the Reds gives the Phils an early 1-0 lead. Cueto threw 21 pitches in the inning.

Ibanez started the second and hit a 2-0 pitch well to right, but Bruce took it for the first out. Ruiz bounced a single up the middle and Hamels bunted him to second with the second out. Victorino got ahead 2-0 and then lined a 2-1 pitch to Cabrera at short for the third out.

Ibanez and Victorino both hit the ball well in the inning, The other out that Cueto got the Phillies gave him. He was at 32 pitches for the game after throwing 11 in the inning.

Polanco grounded to second to start the third. Utley struck out swinging 3-2 for the second out. Howard chopped a 2-2 pitch to where you might expect the third baseman to be, but the big shift had Rolen near short. He fielded the ball after a long run and threw to first, but Howard beat it out and was 2-for-2. Werth got behind 0-2 and struck out swinging 2-2 to leave Howard at first.

Cueto had thrown 54 pitches.

Rollins had a nice at-bat to start the fourth, working a walk on a 3-2 pitch. Ibanez flew to center 1-2 for the first out. Ruiz was next and hit a 1-0 pitch to third. Rolen made an odd play, moving backwards and then throwing awkwardly to second to force Rollins for the second out. Hamels flew to shallow center to leave Ruiz at first.

Cueto’s pitch count was up to 69.

Victorino grounded to first on a 2-2 pitch to start the fifth. Polanco was next and flew to Bruce near the foul line in right for the second out. Utley followed and Cueto hung an 0-1 slider in the middle of the plate, which Utley hammered over the wall in right-center just out of the reach of Stubbs to put the Phils up 2-0. Howard swung at the first pitch and grounded to Phillips, who was playing second in shallow right field.

First home run of the series for the Phils. Cueto had thrown 83 pitches through five innings.

Righty Homer Bailey was on the mound for the Reds to start the sixth after Cincy hit for Cueto in the bottom of the fifth. He struck Werth out looking 0-2 for the first out. Rollins was next and singled into right on a 3-1 pitch. Ruiz struck out swinging at a high fastball 1-2 for the second out. Ruiz hit a 1-1 pitch between third and short. Rolen slid fielding the ball, then popped up and dropped the ball trying to get it out of his glove. It put men on first and second for Hamels and he flew to shallow right on an 0-2 pitch to leave both men stranded.

Second error in the series for Rolen plus a bad throw to second in game one in which he wasn’t charged with an error. Rollins was 1-for-10 in the series and had been on base in each of his last two times to the plate.

Bailey was back for the seventh. Victorino led off with a single to left. Polanco was next and grounded into a double-play on a 1-2 pitch. Utley hit a 1-0 pitch well to left, but Gomes took it right in front of the warning track for the third out.

Lefty Bill Bray started the eighth to pitch to Howard and got him with a high 3-2 fastball for the first out. Righty Nick Masset took over to pitch to Werth and Werth struck out swinging at a 2-2 breaking ball that was outside. Masset got Rollins to fly to center for the third out.

Lefty Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth for the Reds. Ibanez lined a 3-2 pitch hard to right to start the inning, but Bruce handled it for the first out. Ruiz quickly got behind in the count but lined an 0-2 pitch down the right field line for a double. Hamels hit for himself and drove a ball to left-center, but Stubbs tracked it down for the second out. Victorino flew to center to leave Ruiz stranded at second.

Great job by Hamels not to get injured facing Chapman. He also crushed the ball.

Victorino was 1-for-5 in the game. He also made a very nice play on the ball Phillips hit hard to left center in the first. 3-for-13 with a double and a walk in the series.

Polanco 1-for-4. 1-for-9 with no walks in the set. Going back to the regular season, he has one extra-base hit, a double, in his last 78 plate appearances.

Utley 1-for-4 with a homer. 3-for-11 with a home run in the series.

Howard 2-for-4 with a pair of strange singles. 3-for-11 with three singles and two walks.

Werth 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. 2-for-12 with five strikeouts.

Rollins 1-for-3 with a walk. 1-for-11 with two walks.

Ibanez 0-for-4 with a strikeout, but hit the ball better than that. 3-for-12 with a double and a walk.

Ruiz 2-for-4. 2-for-8 with three walks in the set.

Valdez 1-for-3. Brown 0-for-1. Sweeney 0-for-1.

Utley would be the offensive MVP in the series for the Phils if you had to pick one. He didn’t play especially well offensively.

Rollins, Polanco and Werth combined to go 4-for-32 with four singles and three walks in the series.

The Phils scored less than 4 1/2 runs per game in the set with the Reds making an average of more than two runs per game.


Reds buckle down trying figure out what not to do next after the game two no-fielder

Game one of the NLDS was a thing of beauty we’re all going to remember for a long time, but it might take just as long to purge game two from our minds. The Phils won an ugly one, topping the Reds 7-4 as the teams combined to make six errors.

Oswalt didn’t have it from the start. Brandon Phillips hit his fourth pitch of the game out to left to put Cincinnati up 1-0. Utley made a pair of errors in the top of the second that helped the Reds score another run and go up 2-0. Bruce hit a long homer off of Oswalt in the fourth. 3-0. Phillips started the fifth with a double and came in to score on a ground out, so it was 4-0 when the Phils got to work offensively. They scored two runs in the fifth with the help of errors from Phillips and Rolen. 4-2. Cincinnati relievers hit two batters in the sixth and they scored again. 4-3. The game turned on a misplay in the seventh in which the Reds made two errors on the same play. With one out and men on first and second, Rollins hit a sinking liner to right that Bruce just missed. Drew Stubbs backed the play up well, but Phillips dropped his relay throw and both runners scored, putting the Phils ahead 5-4. The Phils would score again in the inning and once more in the eighth when the Reds walked two batters intentionally.

The Phillies scored seven runs in the game without an extra-base hit. The Reds made four errors, hit three batters, had a runner picked off of first base and walked two intentionally.

Oswalt may have struggled in the game, but there was good news for the pitching staff as well as Romero, Durbin, Contreras, Madson and Lidge combined to allow one hit and two walks over four shutout innings.

The Phillies lead the best-of-five NLDS with the Reds two games to one after beating Cincinnati 7-4 last night.

Oswalt got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk. Only three of the runs were earned. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and two home runs. He struck out five.

He faced a Cincinnati lineup that went (1) Brandon Phillips (2B/R) (2) Orlando Cabrera (SS/R) (3) Joey Votto (1B/L) (4) Scott Rolen (3B/R) (5) Laynce Nix (LF/L) (6) Jay Bruce (RF/L) (7) Drew Stubbs (CF/R) (8) Ryan Hanigan (C/R). Two changes from the game one lineup — Nix plays left instead of Gomes and Hanigan catches Arroyo with Hernandez on the bench. Three lefties in four spots in the order for the Reds at 3, 5 and 6 in the lineup.

Cincinnati started the game with six players on their bench, lefty Juan Francisco and righties Ramon Hernandez, Jonny Gomes, Paul Janish, Chris Heisey and Miguel Cairo.

Phillips took ball one and ball two to start the game. Oswalt walked around the mound a little before he delivered strike one. The next pitch was out over the plate and Phillips crushed it out to left, putting the Reds up 1-0. Cabrera popped to short on a 1-2 pitch for the first out. Oswalt didn’t get the call on a close 2-2 pitch that must have been inside, but Votto swung through the 3-2 offering for the second out. Rolen swung at the first pitch and popped to Utley.

Oswalt threw 17 pitches in the first inning.

Nix got ahead 2-0 to start the second and then hit a 3-2 pitch hard towards right field. Utley made a nice play to get to the ball, but his throw pulled Howard off of first and Nix was safe on the error. Bruce flew to left on an 0-1 pitch for the first out. Oswalt’s first pitch to Stubbs bounced before the plate and went off of Ruiz’s chest for a wild pitch, allowing Nix to take second. Stubbs walked on a 3-2 pitch outside, putting men on first and second for Hanigan. Hanigan fisted a double-play ball to short on a 2-2 pitch. Rollins tossed to Utley for the second out, but Utley’s relay to first was up the right field line and Howard couldn’t reach it. Utley had his second error in the inning, Nix scored to make it 2-0 and Hanigan took second. Oswalt struck the pitcher Arroyo out looking 0-2 to end the frame.

After throwing 25 pitches in the inning, Oswalt had thrown 42 for the game.

Phillips led off the third and singled to center on a 1-0 pitch. Cabrera was next and hit the first pitch he saw hard between third and short and into left for a single that sent Phillips to second. Votto flew to left on a 2-2 pitch for the first out and Oswalt struck out Rolen and Nix, getting Rolen swinging on 1-2 change up and Nix swinging 2-2, to leave both runners stranded.

Eighteen pitches in the inning for Oswalt. Sixty for the game.

Bruce started the fourth and blasted an 0-1 pitch way out to right. 3-0. Stubbs struck out swinging at a 2-2 pitch that was outside for the first out. Hanigan ripped a 1-1 pitch just foul down the right field line before hitting a 1-2 pitch to short. Rollins fielded on the outfield grass and dropped the ball, but picked it up and made a strong throw to first to get Hanigan for the second out. Arroyo swung at the first pitch and lined to left.

Oswalt was at 71 for the game after an 11-pitch fourth.

Phillips started the fifth with a double down the left field line. Righty Paul Janish hit for Cabrera, who was injured turning a double-play to end the fourth. Janish put down a nice bunt on the first pitch he saw, moving Phillips to third with one out. Votto blasted an 0-1 pitch to left, but Ibanez took it at the wall for the second out with Phillips tagging and scoring easily to make it 4-0. Rolen swung at the first pitch and hit a ball that Oswalt fielded and threw to first for the third out.

Votto crushed his ball. Just five pitches for Oswalt, who would be pinch-hit for in the bottom of the fifth. He threw 76 pitches in the game.

Romero started the sixth with the Cincinnati lead cut to 4-2. Nix grounded to Romero for the first out and Bruce lined softly to third for the second. Durbin came on to pitch to the righty Stubbs. Durbin got behind 3-0 and walked Stubbs on a 3-2 pitch that was low. Durbin picked Stubbs off of first before offering to Hanigan, ending the frame.

Nifty start to the post-season for Romero. Nice move by Durbin.

Contreras pitched the seventh with the Phils within a run at 4-3. Hanigan led off and grounded to second on a 1-2 pitch. Heisey, who had been double-switched into the game for Nix in the bottom of the sixth, was next and Contreras struck him out swinging 1-2. Phillips swung at the first pitch and popped to Utley for the third out.

Madson started the eighth with a 6-4 lead. Janish swung at the first pitch and lined a ball to short that Rollins short-hopped. Rollins threw to first for the first out. Votto was next and lined a 1-1 pitch to right for a single. Madson struck Rolen out swinging 2-2 at a high fastball for the second out. Ramon Hernandez, who had double-switched into the game with Nick Masset in the bottom of the seventh, was next. Madson’s first pitch to him was outside and in the dirt for a wild pitch that allowed Votto to move to second. Hernandez flew to center on a 1-2 pitch to leave Votto at second.

Rolen was 0-for-7 in the series with five strikeouts.

Lidge started the ninth with a 7-4 lead and walked Bruce on a 3-2 pitch. Stubbs flew to center for the first out, though, and Miguel Cairo hit for the pitcher Nick Masset and flew to center as well. Heisey was next with two outs and a man on first. He hit a 1-0 pitch hard to third, but Polanco made a nice play to field the ball and threw to first to end the game.

Four shutdown innings for the pen in relief of Oswalt. Madson threw 16 pitches, Lidge 13, Contreras 11. Durbin and Romero each threw six pitches. You’d have to guess everyone will be available for game three with the off-day Saturday.

The Phillies lineup against righty Bronson Arroyo went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Rollins (7) Ibanez (8) Ruiz. Polanco returns to the starting lineup after missing game one with a back problem. I didn’t expect that Manuel would drop Rollins out of the leadoff spot in the order, but he sure did. It makes it easier to mock the Reds for hitting Phillips leadoff when the Phils don’t put Victorino and his 18 homers in the leadoff spot. Ibanez should hit in front of Rollins — I don’t know why you would hit him seventh and Rollins sixth against anyone, but especially not against a righty. Rollins hit 218/297/360 against righties this year and Ibanez 277/366/455 I heard Matt Gelb explain on the pre-game show say that Manuel did that to prevent a lefty (like Rhodes or Chapman) from going 3-4-5-6 with just one right-handed batter in Werth. That’s over thought, though, and Ibanez should be hitting sixth.

The Phillies bench had seven offensive players to start the game, lefties Brian Schneider, Ross Gload, Domonic Brown and Greg Dobbs and righties Ben Francisco, Mike Sweeney and Wilson Valdez.

The Phils started the first down 1-0. Victorino popped a 1-0 pitch up to Votto, who took it in foul territory near the Phillies dugout. Polanco took strike one and then took strike two before popping to Cabrera in short center field. Utley hit a 2-1 pitch hard to right, but Bruce took it after a short run to end the inning.

Arroyo threw nine pitches in the inning.

They were losing 2-0 when they hit in the second. Howard led off and singled into center. Werth flew to center on a 2-1 pitch for the first out. Rollins flew to left 1-1 for the second. Ibanez grounded softly to Cabrera with the count 2-2 to end the inning.

Arroyo threw 14 pitches in the inning and had thrown 23 for the game.

Ruiz took a 3-2 pitch low to start the third. Oswalt tried to bunt him to second, but popped the first pitch he saw up to Votto for the first out. Victorino hammered a 2-2 pitch on the inside part of the plate to right, but Bruce took it on the warning track for the second out. Polanco lined to left 1-1 to end the inning and leave Ruiz stranded.

Arroyo was up to 43 pitches for the game after throwing 20 in the inning.

Utley led off the fourth and struck out looking 1-2 for the first out. Howard walked on a 3-2 pitch and moved to second when Werth singled to right on a 2-2 pitch. Rollins swung at the first pitch and grounded hard to second. The Reds turned the double-play to end the inning.

Cabrera landed awkwardly taking the feed from Phillips and would leave the game in the bottom of the inning.

Sixteen pitches in the inning and 59 in the game for Arroyo.

The Cincinnati lead had been extended to 4-0 when the Phils hit in the fifth. Janish had taken over for Cabrera at short. Ibanez led off with a great 11-pitch at-bat, fouling off six pitches before singling into right with the count full. Ruiz flew to right on a 1-1 pitch for the first out and Brown hit for Oswalt. Brown took strike one, took strike two and then chopped a 1-2 pitch between third and short. Janish made a nice play, moving to his right, fielding and throwing to second for force Ibanez for the second out. Victorino hit a ball to second. Phillips slid on the ground trying to field it, but didn’t handle it cleanly. Victorino was safe on the error and Brown took second. Polanco hit an 0-1 pitch to Rolen and Rolen didn’t handle that one, either. He picked the ball up and threw to first, but Polanco beat it and the Phils had the bases loaded for Utley on the second error in two batters. Utley got ahead 2-0 and took a slow curve for a strike to make it 2-1. The next pitch was a changeup that Utley laced into right field for a single. Brown and Victorino both scored, cutting the lead to 4-2, with men on first and third for Howard. Howard struck out swinging 1-2 to leave both men stranded.

Two errors for the Reds in the frame, but that’s still a big hit for Utley. All the errors made Arroyo work overtime. He threw 30 pitches in the inning and was at 89 for the game. Fantastic at-bat by Ibanez to get things started.

Werth walked on a 3-2 pitch that wasn’t close to start the sixth. Rollins took a 1-1 pitch just low. The 2-1 pitch looked high, but Arroyo got the call. Rollins popped the 2-2 pitch to Phillips for the first out. The Reds called on lefty Arthur Rhodes to pitch to Ibanez. Ibanez fouled two balls off before striking out at an unhittable pitch on the outside corner for the second out. Ruiz got behind 1-2 and Werth stole second as the count went 2-2. It was a close play at second, but Phillips dropped the throw from Hanigan. Rhodes drilled Ruiz in the knee with a 2-2 fastball, putting men on first and second for Durbin’s spot. Francisco hit for Durbin and Cincinnati double-switched, bringing right Logan Ondrusek in to pitch to Francisco and sending Chris Heisey to left for Nix. Francisco stayed in to hit against the right-hander and the 1-1 pitch hit him in the bill of his helmet, loading the bases for Victorino. Victorino drew a walk on a 3-1 pitch that was high and outside, scoring Werth to make it 4-3. Polanco got behind 0-2 and hit a slow roller to third. Rolen handled it and threw to first to end the inning.

Francisco stays in to face the righty with Gload and Dobbs (and Schneider, who wasn’t going to hit) as lefties on the bench. I don’t think it was the right decision, but it didn’t cost the Phils. The Phillies score a run without a hit, getting two walks and two hit batters. Ondrusek had thrown 22 pitches in game one on Wednesday, two days earlier.

Lefty Aroldis Chapman started the bottom of the seventh for the Reds. Utley took a hundred miles per hour fastball for strike one and quickly got behind 0-2 before Chapman hit him on the hand with a ball way up and in. Howard was next. Swing and a miss a 100-mph fastball. Strike one. Swing and a miss at a 99-mph fastball. Strike two. Swing and a miss at a 101-mph fastball. Strike three. One out. Werth chopped a 2-2 pitch to third. Rolen had to move in to play it. He fielded and threw to second. It was a close play, but Utley was called safe. Rollins was next and he lined the first pitch he saw from Chapman to right. The ball was hit close to Bruce, but he lost it and just missed the ball. Stubbs backed the play up nicely, but Phillips dropped his relay and both Utley and Werth were able to score, putting the Phils up 5-4. It sure looked like Utley missed third base, but if he did the Reds didn’t notice. Rollins wound up on second for Ibanez. Ibanez lined an 0-1 pitch into right for a single, moving Rollins to third. Ruiz got behind 0-2 and hit a ball to short. Janish had to move to his right before fielding it — he threw to second for one out, but there was no relay to first. Rollins scored from third and the Phils were up 6-4. Sweeney hit for Contreras, making his post-season debut, and dropped a single into shallow left-center. It put men on first and second for Victorino and righty Nick Masset came in to pitch to him. Victorino swung at the first pitch and grounded to second to end the inning.

Whole lot of almosts in the inning for Utley. The pitch from Chapman almost didn’t hit him, just getting his hand. A few inches in the wrong direction and it could have ended his season. He was almost out at second on the ball hit to Rolen (he probably was). He almost missed third (he did). The game changed on the ball that Rollins hit and the errors by Bruce and Phillips on the play.

Masset was back to start the eighth and got Polanco to fly to right for the first out. Utley was next and lined a single to right. He was running when Masset delivered the first pitch to Howard, which was at Howard’s legs. Utley was safe at second and Howard walked intentionally, putting men on first and second for Werth. Werth singled into left, scoring Utley to make it 7-4 with Howard moving to second. Rollins chopped a ball high back to the mound. Masset fielded and turned towards second, then whirled and threw to first in time to get Rollins as the runners moved to second and third. The righty Masset walked the lefty Ibanez intentionally, loading the bases for Ruiz. Ruiz grounded to short on a 1-0 pitch for the third out.

Not quite sure how Rollins wasn’t safe at first on the slow-developing play on his high chopper. Two is a lot of intentional walks for an inning. The Reds had used lefties Rhodes and Chapman already in the game. The lefty Wood was presumably not available after a long outing in game one, but Bill Bray had thrown just 15 pitches in the series opener.

The bullpen for the Reds went 2 2/3 innings in the game, allowing four runs, only one of which was earned. Masset threw 29 pitches in the game, Chapman 21, Ondrusek 11 and Rhodes eight. Ondrusek has pitched in each of the first two games in the series.

The Phillies scored seven runs in the game without an extra-base hit.

Victorino was 0-for-4 in the game with an RBI and a run scored. 2-for-8 in the series with a double.

Polanco was 0-for-5 and left four men on base. He went 0-for-17 for the Tigers in the 2006 World Series in his most recent playoff action.

Utley was 2-for-4 with two runs, two RBI and two throwing errors. 2-for-7 in the series.

Howard 1-for-3 with two walks and two strikeouts. 1-for-7 with four strikeouts in the set.

Werth 2-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. He looked a whole lot better than he did in a miserable game one. He’s 2-for-8.

Rollins 0-for-5 with four men left on base. The game changed on the line drive he hit to Bruce in the seventh. He’s 0-for-8 in the series.

Ibanez 2-for-4 with a walk. 3-for-8.

Ruiz 0-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and five men left on base. 0-for-4 with three walks in the series.

Cole Hamels (12-11, 3.06) faces righty Johnny Cueto (12-7, 3.64) in game three on Sunday. Cueto was hammered by the Brewers on September 22, charged with eight runs in 1 1/3 innings. That’s the only time in his last seven starts he’s allowed more than three earned runs in a game. He faced the Phils twice this year and was good both times, holding them to two earned runs in 15 innings (1.20 ERA and an 0.93 ratio). He has similar numbers against righties and lefties for the year and was a little better a home than on the road, going 6-3 with a 3.20 ERA and a 1.22 ratio at home and 6-4 with a 4.10 ERA and a 1.33 ratio on the road. Hamels allowed five runs to the Mets in five innings on September 25, which is the only time in his last eight starts he’s allowed more than two runs in an outing. After throwing to a 5.28 ERA in his first five starts of the season, he has gone 10-9 with a 2.68 ERA and a 1.12 ratio over his last 28 appearances.

Cabrera says he may play in game three.


Phils prepare for game two, hoping against hope the series doesn’t come down to weird hair in the starting rotation

It’s too soon to know for sure, but I think it’s a good sign that Volquez’s Alien-vs-Predator look didn’t do much for Cincinnati in game one.

Roy Oswalt (13-13, 2.76) faces righty Bronson Arroyo (17-10, 3.88) tonight in game two of the NLDS.

The 33-year-old Arroyo posted career highs in wins (17) and ratio (1.15) this year. He struggled some early in the season, finishing May with a 4.92 and a 1.36 ratio, but pitched to a 3.37 ERA and a 1.04 ratio in 22 starts since the beginning of June.

There might have been a bit of luck thrown in there. His batting average for balls in play is .227 over his last 22 starts.

Arroyo did cut down his walk rate a little this season compared to his career numbers, but his rate of allowing hits fell even more dramatically in 2010. Coming into the season he had walked about 2.8 batters per nine innings and allowed 9.2 hits per nine innings. In 2010 he walked 2.5 batters per nine, but his hits per nine innings dropped to 7.8. He had a 1.33 ratio for his career coming into the season and threw to a 1.15 ratio in 2010.

He absolutely dominated right-handed hitters this season. They put up a 185/248/328 line against him. By comparison, righties hit 231/260/349 against Halladay. Arroyo’s ratio for the year against righties was 0.91, which was the best mark in either league among the 144 pitchers who threw at least 60 innings against right-handed batters.

His batting average for balls in play against righties this year? .192. I’m just saying. He also struck right-handed batters out at a lower rate than he had over the rest of his career. Coming into this season, Arroyo had struck out about 20.3% of the righties he had faced. This season he fanned about 16.9% of them. He also allowed home runs to righties at a worse rate in 2010 than he has over the rest of his career. About 3.1% of the righties he faced this year homered and about 2.5% of the righties he had faced for his career coming into the season had homered. His walk rate against righties was nearly identical to his career rate.

Arroyo has always been good against righties. Just not quite that good. They have posted a career line against him of 239/298/386. Lefties have fared much better, blasting away to the tune of 286/347/472. He did better than that in 2010, but still not good. Left-handed hitters hit 285/333/453 against him this year.

Arroyo didn’t face the Phils this season. Polanco is the guy who has seen him the most for his career. He’s 6-for-17 (.353) with a double against him. Rollins 4-for-12 with a double and a home run. Utley 4-for-9 with a home run. Howard 2-for-6 with two doubles and four strikeouts. Ibanez 1-for-3. Victorino 2-for-6. Ruiz 0-for-2. Werth has never faced him.

The Phillies went 10-1 in the last 11 games that Oswalt started in the regular season. Oswalt went 7-0 with a 1.31 ERA and an 0.83 ratio in those games, striking out 68 in 75 2/3 innings.

He made two starts against the Reds earlier this season when he was still with the Astros. On April 29 he allowed three runs over seven innings. He went into the top of the seventh down 1-0 and Votto hit a two-run homer off of him to extend the lead to 3-0. Cincinnati held on to win 4-2.

Things went worse in his start on July 24. Oswalt was charged with six runs in the first three innings and was chased after just five innings. Votto and Ramon Hernandez both homered off of him in that game. Laynce Nix started for the Reds and went 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles and a walk before Oswalt departed.

Oswalt pitched against the Reds a ton when he played in the NL Central. Rolen is the player who has seen him the most, putting up a 214/244/333 line in 48 at-bats. Phillips has fared better, hitting 316/350/447 over 38 at-bats. Votto is 10-for-30 (.333) with a pair of home runs. Bruce 7-for-29 (241/267/310). Hernandez 5-for-11 with a home run. Cabrera 3-for-12. Stubbs 2-for-6. Gomes faced him once and walked. Nix is going to start in left for Cincinnati — he’s 9-for-17 against Oswalt for his career with three doubles, a triple and two home runs (a 1.732 OPS).

That Oswalt has handled Bruce is the best news there. Votto and Nix? Not so much.


Halladay cleverly walks one so nobody will suspect he’s figured out how to see through the Matrix and everything looks like 3-D black and green graph paper to him now

After a perfect game and a season worthy of a Cy Young, it was hard to imagine that even Roy Halladay had anything left that could shock the baseball world in 2010. Turns out it took making history. Last night Halladay had an outing for the ages, throwing the second no-hitter in 106 years of post-season play.

It was a performance to savor and Phillies fans won’t be the only ones who remember it for a long time. Halladay was nearly perfect, holding the NL’s best offense to a single walk over nine innings as the Phils topped the Reds 4-0. He didn’t need a ton of help from his defense to become the first pitcher since 1956 to throw a no-hitter in the post-season. Rollins made two nice plays in the game, one in the third base hole and one moving to his left, and Werth made a sliding catch in the fourth inning on a ball hit by pitcher Travis Wood. Halladay did the rest, striking out eight. He threw 104 pitches in the game, 79 for strikes.

The Phils got to Cincy’s starter early, chasing Edinson Volquez in the second inning. Victorino created a run almost on his own in the first, doubling the opposite way with one out, stealing third and coming home on a sac fly to put the Phils up 1-0. They added three more in the second. The first two hitters went down without a peep, but Ruiz drew a walk and moved to second on an infield single by Valdez. Halladay lined an RBI-single to left, scoring Ruiz and it was 2-0. A walk to Rollins loaded the bases for Victorino and Victorino delivered again, singling into center to plate two more runs as the Phils extended the lead to 4-0.

That was all the scoring the Phils would get in the game. Thanks to Halladay, it was all they would need. Halladay walked Jay Bruce in the fifth inning to allow the Reds their only base-runner.

After Volquez left the game, the Phillies offense went to sleep. Ibanez smoked a double off of Travis Wood in the third, but that was literally just about it. The Phillies had one base-runner after the third inning and he reached on an error. They had five hits in the game: an infield single by Valdez where a play could have been made, a single to left by Halladay where a play could have been made, Ibanez’s double and two hits from Victorino, both of which were critical in the game, but neither of which were exactly hammered. Rollins, Utley, Howard and Werth combined to go 0-for-14 in the game. It’s probably nothing, but for a team that has inexplicably disappeared offensively for long stretches at a time this season, it may be enough to make you nervous.

I think it’s also important to note how well the Cincinnati pen performed after Volquez’s early exit. Wood, Logan Ondrusek and Bill Bray all looked very good and combined to allow just a hit and a walk over 6 1/3 innings. Happily for Phillies fans, Wood threw 47 pitches in the game, which means we’re almost surely not going to see him in game two. Sounds good to me.

The Reds didn’t play well defensively in the game and the Phillies did. Three plays stick out in the game and two of them came in the second inning when the Phils scored three of their four runs. Cabrera couldn’t get an out on a ball he handled behind second base hit by Valdez with two outs. It would have taken a nice play to get an out, but the Reds didn’t get it. Later in the inning, still with two outs, Halladay lined a ball to left. Gomes couldn’t come up with it and it dropped for an RBI-single. It would have taken a very nice play to get an out there, but Gomes looked bad not making it. Later in the game, Ondrusek air-mailed a throw to first base for the game’s only error.

Two plays in the third, neither of them awful for the Reds, but neither of them made. If you think that Cincinnati’s defense is going to give them a boost in the series, it didn’t in game one.

Even if it had, there wasn’t much of anything that was going to defend them against Halladay. At least not last night. That guy knows there is no spoon.

The Phillies lead the best-of-five NLDS with the Reds one game to none after winning game one 4-0 last night.

Halladay got the start for the Phils and went nine innings, allowing a fifth-inning walk. He struck out eight. He threw a complete-game shutout of the Nationals in his final start in the regular season. Over his last two outings he has gone 18 innings, allowing two singles and a walk while striking out 14.

He faced a Cincinnati lineup that went (1) Brandon Phillips (2B/R) (2) Orlando Cabrera (SS/R) (3) Joey Votto (1B/L) (4) Rolen (3B/R) (5) Gomes (LF/R) (6) Bruce (RF/L) (7) Stubbs (CF/R) (8) Hernandez (C/R). The Reds did lead the league in runs this season, so there’s a good chance they know what they’re doing with their order. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to hit Cabrera, an awful offensive player who on-based .303 this year, ahead of Votto and second in the order. Phillips hit 18 home runs that seem like they might be better off moved down in the order, too.

Cincinnati started the game with six players on their bench, lefties Juan Francisco and Laynce Nix and righties Ryan Hanigan, Paul Janish, Chris Heisey and Miguel Cairo.

Phillips swung at the first pitch of the game and grounded to short. Cabrera fouled off a 3-2 pitch before he flew to Victorino for the second out. Votto grounded to Utley on an 0-1 pitch to set the Reds down. Votto hit the ball hard, but Utley took it on one hop for the out.

Ten pitches in the inning for Halladay.

He had a 1-0 lead when he started the second. He struck Rolen out looking 1-2 for the first out. Gomes grounded to Valdez at third for the second. He hit the ball hard, but Valdez handled it nicely. Bruce grounded to second on an 0-1 pitch to end the frame.

Twelve pitches in the inning, 22 for the game.

It was 4-0 when he started the third. He got ahead of Stubbs 0-2 and Stubbs popped up to Howard near the mound. He got ahead of Hernandez 0-2 and Hernandez hit a dribbler out in front of the plate. Ruiz pounced on it and threw him out for the second out. Pitcher Travis Wood was next and hit a 1-1 pitch hard to right, but Werth made a nice sliding catch for the third out.

Nine pitches in the inning had Halladay at 31 for the game. Of the 31 pitches, six had been balls. Three in the first (all to Cabrera), two in the second (one to Rolen and one to Gomes) and one in the third (to Wood).

Phillips struck out looking 2-2 for the first out of the fourth. Cabrera struck out swinging 0-2 for the second. Votto got behind and hit an 0-2 pitch in the hole between short and third. Rollins backhanded and made a strong throw to retire the side.

Twelve pitches in inning and 43 for the game.

Rolen struck out looking 2-2 for the first out of the fifth. He didn’t like the call, probably because the ball was off the plate. Gomes struck out swinging 0-2 for the second out. Bruce was next and swung and missed at the first pitch from Halladay. Halladay threw two balls before Bruce swung and missed again to even the count at 2-2. The 2-2 pitch was close, but called ball three and Halladay delivered ball four inside to give the Reds their only base-runner of the game. Stubbs was next and grounded to Rollins on a 1-2 pitch, with Rollins going to Utley at second for the third out.

After 18 pitches in the frame, Halladay was at 61. Great to see Halladay contain Votto and Bruce in the game, but Stubbs also came into the series super-hot and didn’t do anything with the bat.

Hernandez flew to right on an 0-1 pitch to start the sixth. Lefty Juan Francisco hit for Wood and hit a 1-1 pitch back up the middle. The mound slowed the ball down and Rollins tracked it down behind second, then threw to first to beat Francisco. Phillips flew to Werth in shallow right on a 1-1 pitch for the third out.

8 and 69. I still don’t know exactly what happened on the ball that Francisco hit to slow it down. Sure looked like it was going to be a hit to me.

Cabrera grounded to Utley on a 3-2 pitch for the first out of the seventh. Votto grounded to third 1-2 for the second out. Rolen struck out swinging 2-2 for the third out.

Another long at-bat for Cabrera, working a 3-2 count for the second time in the game. Seven pitches in his at-bat before he flew to center. In the seventh he grounded to Utley on the eighth pitch.

Eighteen pitches for the game had Halladay at 87.

Halladay struck Gomes out swinging 0-2 for the first out of the eighth. Bruce chopped the first pitch of his at-bat back to the mound. Halladay fielded and threw to first for the second out. Stubbs struck out looking 0-2 for the third out.

Just seven pitches in the inning, all of which were strikes. 94 for the game.

Even as well as Halladay was pitching, I didn’t think there was much of a chance we were going to see a no-hitter until the eighth. That inning was silly. It went swingandamiss-foul-swingandamiss. One out. Soft ground ball to the mound. Two outs. Called strike, swingandamiss, called strike. Three outs.

Hernandez popped to Utley on an 0-1 pitch to start the ninth. The righty Cairo hit for the pitcher Bill Bray and fouled out to Valdez in foul territory on a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Phillips got behind 0-2 and dribbled a ball out in front of the plate. He dropped his bat at he tore down the first base line and Ruiz jumped out to field the ball. The ball rolled into the bat that Phillips had dropped. Ruiz had to reach back to pick it up and went to his knees. He threw high to first base, but in time to get Phillips and end the game.

Great play by Ruiz as he tangled with the bat on the ground. Ten pitches in the inning for the Halladay. 104 for the game.

Not a very good day for much of anyone offensively for the Reds. A little worse for some than others. Rolen was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts in the game and Gomes 0-for-3 and whiffed twice.

The Phillies lineup against righty Edinson Volquez went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Ibanez (7) Ruiz (8) Valdez. Polanco is out of the lineup, unable to play with a sore back. Rollins moves into the leadoff spot with Victorino hitting second and Valdez eighth. Dobbs, the left-handed choice to play third, stays on the bench with Valdez in the lineup. Presumably that’s cause fielding isn’t his thing so much.

The Phillies bench had seven offensive players to start the game, lefties Brian Schneider, Ross Gload, Domonic Brown and Greg Dobbs and righties Ben Francisco, Mike Sweeney and Placido Polanco.

Rollins flew to center on a 1-0 pitch to start the bottom of the first. Victorino was next and sliced a 1-2 pitch the opposite way down the left field line for a double. Victorino stole third as the count went 2-0 on Utley. Hernandez threw from his knees on the steal and his throw was off line. Rolen made a nice play to pick it on a hop and keep the ball from going into left field. Utley flew to right on a 3-1 pitch for the second out. Victorino tagged and it shouldn’t have been close at the plate, but Bruce uncorked a strong and accurate throw and Victorino slid in just safe to put the Phils up 1-0. Howard flew to left on a 2-1 pitch for the third out.

Victorino did just about everything with a little help from Utley to put the Phils on top early. The stolen base allows him to score on the sac fly. Most guys wouldn’t have been able to score on the ball that Utley hit given the throw from Bruce in right.

Volquez threw 17 pitches in the inning.

Volquez got ahead of Werth 1-2 to start the second, but couldn’t put him away. Werth fouled off four of the next five pitches before hitting the ball hard to third. Rolen made another nice play, moving a step to his left and fielding before he threw to first for the first out. Ibanez flew to right on a 3-1 pitch for the second out. Ruiz walked on four pitches. Valdez was next and hit a 1-1 pitch back up the middle. Cabrera gloved the ball behind the second and tried to flip to Phillips as his momentum carried him towards right field. The flip was terrible, Valdez had an infield single and the Phils had men on first and second with two down. Halladay swung at the first pitch and lined a ball into left in front of a sliding Gomes for a single. Ruiz scored to make it 2-0 and Valdez moved to third. Rollins walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases for Victorino. Victorino was next and swung at ball four with the count full, but then dumped a single in front of Stubbs, scoring Valdez and Halladay to put the Phils ahead 4-0. Lefty Travis Wood took over for Volquez and got Utley to ground to second to end the inning.

Huge hit for Victorino. Big walk by Rollins give him a chance. It would have taken a nice play from Gomes to make the play on the line drive by Halladay.

Wood was back to pitch the third. He struck out Howard on three pitches for the first out. Werth struck out looking 0-2 for the second. Ibanez hit a 2-1 pitch over Bruce’s head in right. The ball landed on the warning track for a double. Valdez flew to Stubbs in right center on a 1-0 pitch for the third out.

Wood set the Phils down in order in the fourth. Halladay flew to right for the first out. Rollins hit the ball hard, but Stubbs took it right in front of the wall for the second out. Victorino flew to center for the third out.

Wood threw a 1-2-3 fifth, getting Utley on a fly ball to right, Howard on a fly ball to left and striking Werth out looking 1-2.

Second time in three innings that Wood had struck Werth out looking. It took eight pitches total.

Righty Logan Ondrusek started the sixth for the Reds. Ibanez led off and hit a ball that Ondrusek fielded, but his throw to first was way too high for an error that allowed Ibanez to take second. Ruiz grounded to third on a 1-1 pitch for the first out with Ibanez holding second. Valdez moved Ibanez to third with a ground out to short, but Ibanez was left there when Halladay grounded back to Ondrusek for the third out.

Ruiz can’t move the runner up to third with the first out after Ondrusek air mails the Phils a gift on Ibanez’s ball.

Ondrusek got Rollins to line softly to short for the first out. Victorino was next and he popped to Votto for the second out. Lefty Bill Bray came in to pitch to Utley. Utley hit the ball well, but Bray handled it flipped to first for the third out.

Bray was back to set the Phillies down in order in the eighth. Howard struck out looking, Werth flew to right and Ibanez popped to Cabrera in shallow center.

Wood threw 47 pitches in the game, so you won’t be seeing him tomorrow, which works for me. Ondrusek 22 and Bray 15.

Rollins was 0-for-3 with a walk in the game. He hit the ball well in the fourth, but Stubbs took it at the wall.

Victorino was 2-for-4 with a double, a run and two RBI. He made a run virtually by himself in the first and followed that up with a big single in the second.

Utley 0-for-3 with an RBI.

Howard 0-for-4 and struck out twice.

Werth 0-for-4 and struck out twice.

Ibanez 1-for-4 with a double.

Ruiz 0-for-1 with a pair of walks. Halladay can’t stop talking about what an amazing guy he is to pitch to. I’m starting to believe him.

Valdez was 1-for-3 with a single.

Game two is tomorrow night.

This suggests that Polanco expects to be able to play.


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