Tag: Andre Ethier

There’s no place like road

The Phils won for the tenth time in 11 games last night, scoring three early runs and holding on for a 5-3 win. The bullpen was a bit shaky in the eighth in relief of Halladay as Stutes and Lidge combined to allow a pair of runs that got the Dodgers within one. But Victorino homered in the top of the ninth to give the Phils a two-run cushion and Madson kept the Dodgers off the board in the bottom of the inning for his twentieth save.

Victorino had a big game for the Phils, pounding out a pair of doubles and a home run and scoring three of the five runs plated by the Phils.

It’s been a remarkable road trip that has seen the Phils go 7-1 with two games left to go. The Phils have outscored their opponents 37-18 so far on the trip and have allowed more than three runs just once in the eight games. The Phillies have also played for 18 straight days without an off-day, going 14-4 in those games.

The Phillies are 75-40 on the year after beating the LA Dodgers 5-3 last night. The Phils have won ten of their last eleven and lead the NL East by 8 1/2 games.

Halladay got the start for the Phillies and went 6 1/3 innings, allowing a run on nine hits and two walks. All nine of the hits were singles and he struck out four.

He started the bottom of the first with a 1-0 lead. Casey Blake and Andre Ethier singled back-to-back with one out, putting men on first and second for Matt Kemp. Halladay got Kemp to hit into a double-play to keep LA off the board.

James Loney singled to center with one out in the second and the Phils up 3-0. Halladay got Rod Barajas to pop to Utley for the second out and Jamey Carroll on a ground ball to short to end the inning.

Halladay walked Blake on five pitches with two outs in the third. Ethier followed with a single on a ball deflected by Howard, putting men on first and second with two down. Halladay got Kemp on a popup to Utley for the third out.

Second time in three innings Halladay comes up big against Kemp with men on base.

Halladay set LA down in order in the fourth.

Carroll and pitcher Hiroki Kuroda started the fifth with back-to-back singles, putting men on first and second. Tony Gwynn bunted the runners to second and third with the first out. Blake followed with a ground ball to short, with Rollins throwing to first for the second out and Carroll scoring from third to cut the Phillies lead to 3-1. Halladay struck Andre Ethier out swinging 3-2 to leave Kuroda at second.

Kemp and Miles singled back-to-back to start the sixth, putting men on first and second for Loney. Loney lined a ball to right, but Pence charged and made a diving catch for the first out with the runners holding. Barajas flew to left for the second out and Halladay struck Carroll out looking to leave both men stranded.

Halladay started the seventh up 4-1. Gwynn singled with one out and moved to second when Blake followed with a walk. It put men on first and second for the lefty Ethier. Halladay had thrown 111 pitches in the game. Manuel called on Bastardo to pitch to Ethier and Ethier got ahead 3-0 but grounded into a double-play on a 3-1 pitch to turn LA away.

Stutes started the eighth. Kemp led off with a single and stole second. Miles followed that with a single to left that scored Kemp and cut the Phillie lead to 4-2. Stutes threw the ball away trying to pick Miles off of first, allowing Miles to move up to second. Loney flew to center for the first out with Miles moving up to third. Lidge took over to face the righty Barajas and walked him on five pitches, putting men on first and third with one down. Righty Juan Rivera hit for the pitcher Matt Guerrier and Eugenio Velez ran for Barajas at first. Rivera singled to left, scoring Miles (4-3) and sending Velez to second. Dee Gordon was the next hitter and he hit a ball slowly to second. Utley charged and waited for it in the basepath, where Rivera plowed him over. Rivera was called out for the second out, Velez went back to second and Gordon was safe at first. Velez and Gordon moved up to second and third on a passed ball with Gwynn at the plate. Gwynn tried to bunt for a base hit and put down a nice bunt on the first base side. Lidge made a nice play to end the inning, though, getting to the ball, gloving and flipping with his glove hand to get Gwynn and end the inning.

Miserable inning for Stutes, who allowed two singles, a steal and made a throwing error while getting one out. After throwing to a 2.08 ERA over his first 23 appearances on the year, Stutes has now pitched to a 4.87 ERA over his last 18 appearances. Lidge fared a little better, allowing a walk, a single and a wild pitch while getting two outs. In his seven appearances for the year he has allowed just two hits in 5 1/3 innings, but walked five.

Madson pitched the ninth with a two-run lead. He gave up a leadoff single to Blake, but got Ethier on a foul ball to Martinez for the first out and struck Kemp out swinging 0-2 for the second. Miles chopped a ball out in front of the plate, but Ruiz jumped on it and threw to first in time to end the game.

Nice job by Madson setting down Ethier and Kemp without a peep as the tying runs. He has allowed one run in 11 2/3 innings over his last 12 appearances.

Lidge and Stutes have both pitched two days in a row. Lidge threw 14 pitches in the game and Stutes 12. Bastardo five and Madson 17.

The Phillies lineup against righty Hiroki Kuroda went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Pence (6) Ibanez (7) Ruiz (8) Martinez. Martinez starts again at third with Polanco getting MRIed in Philadelphia.

Victorino doubled to center with one out in the first. Utley followed with a ground out to second that moved him up to third with one out. Howard was next and he squibbed a ball that went over the pitcher’s head and spun towards third. Blake threw to first, but not in time to get Howard. Howard had a single, Victorino scored and the Phils led 1-0. Pence moved Howard to second with a single, but Ibanez fouled out to Loney at first to leave both men stranded.

Ruiz led off the second with a single and moved to third when Martinez reached on a throwing error by Loney. Halladay bunted Martinez to second with the first out. Rollins was next and cleared the bases with a double to the gap in right-center, putting the Phils on top 3-0. Victorino moved Rollins to third with a ground out, but Utley flew to right to leave him there.

Pence singled with one out in the third, but Ibanez hit into a double-play behind him.

Martinez singled with one out in the fourth and Halladay bunted him to second with the second out. Rollins followed with a walk, but Victorino struck out looking to leave both men stranded.

Utley led off the fifth with a single and stole second, but Howard and Pence both struck out and Ibanez grounded to second.

The lead was cut to 3-0 when the Phils went in order in the sixth.

Victorino doubled to right with one out in the seventh. Lefty Scott Elbert took over for Kuroda and got Utley on a fly ball to center for the second out. Howard ripped a 3-2 pitch into right center and the ball rolled to the wall for a double. Victorino scored and the Phils led 4-1. The lefty Elbert walked Pence intentionally, putting men on first and second for Ibanez, but Elbert struck Ibanez out swinging 1-2 to leave the runners stranded.

The Phils went in order in the eighth. With two outs, nobody on and righty Matt Guerrier pitching for the Dodgers, Gload hit for Bastardo and lined to second.

Gload is 3-for-his-last-24.

The Phils were up 4-2 when they hit in the ninth. Rollins flew to left for the first out, but Victorino was next and he lined a 1-2 pitch out to right, putting the Phils up 5-2. Utley and Howard went down behind him.

For Victorino, it was his fifth home run of the year with two strikes. That ties him for the team lead with Rollins and Mayberry.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a double and two RBI in the game. 6-for-32 (.188) so far in August.

Victorino 3-for-5 with two doubles and a home run. 333/425/600 in 88 plate appearances since returning from the DL.

Utley 1-for-5. 343/418/614 over his last 79 plate appearances.

Howard 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI. He’s 3-for-his-last-17 with ten strikeouts. He did deliver a big double against the lefty Elbert in the seventh, helping him raise his line against lefties on the year to 246/303/358.

Pence 2-for-3 with a walk. 444/467/741 in 30 plate appearances over his last seven games.

Ibanez was 0-for-4 and left six men on base. He’s 0-for-his-last-12 and hitting 143/200/214 so far in August.

Ruiz 1-for-4. 3-for-his-last-8 and 3-for-his-last-14. 318/408/471 over his last 100 plate appearances.

Cliff Lee (11-7, 2.96) faces lefty Ted Lilly (7-1, 4.86) tonight. Righties are hitting 275/322/504 against Lilly for the year with 21 home runs. If you’re wondering if 21 is a lot of home runs to have allowed to right-handed batters at this point in the season, it really, really is. Lee threw a complete game shutout against the Giants in his last start. He faced the Dodgers on June 6 in Philadelphia and struck out ten in seven shutout innings.

Polanco has a sports hernia and may need surgery that could sideline him for a month. Of the 176 NL players with at least 150 plate appearances this season, Martinez’s .265 on-base percentage is 169th and Valdez’s .284 on-base percentage is 157th.

The article linked above says that Mathieson was sent back to Triple-A after clearing waivers.


Only the names, and the fact that the Dodgers are much, much better now, have changed

If it seems like you’ve seen the NLCS between the Phils and Dodgers before it’s because you have. A lot has changed over the past year, though, and the most important among them is that the Dodgers have gotten a lot better. After going 84-78 in 2008, the Dodgers posted the best record in the NL in 2009 at 95-67.

The wins aren’t the only thing that improved for LA this year. Here’s a look at the runs scored by the Dodgers and Phils for this year and 2008:


Team

Runs Scored

NL Rank

’09 LA

780
4

’09 PHI

820
1
     

’08 LA

700

13

’08 PHI

799
3

The Phillies hit in both years compared to the other teams in the National League. The Dodgers were third in runs scored this year, but thirteenth in 2008.

LA was fantastic at preventing runs in both ’08 and ’09. The Phillies allowed 29 more runs in ’09 than they did in ’08 and their rank in the NL dropped from third to sixth:


Team

Runs Allowed

NL Rank

’09 LA

611

T-1

’09 PHI

709
6
     

’08 LA

648
1

’08 PHI

680
3

In 2008 the Phillies scored 799 runs and allowed 680. So they scored 119 more runs than they allowed. In ’09 they scored 820 and allowed 709, which is the difference of a pretty similar 111.

The Dodgers, on the other hand, scored 700 and allowed 648 in 2008, for a difference of 52 runs. This year they scored 780 and allowed 611, which is the difference of a pretty dissimilar 169.

I don’t think there’s much of an argument to be made that the Phillies were better than the Dodgers in 2009. They weren’t. The Dodgers were better. What I’m not sure about is how much it matters. A big part of why the Dodgers were better for the year is that they went 35-17 in April and May. That’s pretty awesome, but it’s also a long time ago. The Phillies are World Champs and if you watched game four of the NLDS it’s a little hard to deny that their magic is alive and well.

At the same time, the Dodgers won more games than the Phillies this year. Their offense was a little worse than the Phillies, but still among the best in the league, while their pitching was much better. They come off an impressive sweep of the Cardinals. They went 4-3 against the Phillies this year without a single plate appearance from Manny Ramirez.

I do think the Phillies will win the series, but it is going to be a tight one.

Here’s a look back at the series from last year:

Hamels started game one last year against Derek Lowe. The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead into the sixth, but Victorino led off the bottom of the sixth and hit a ground ball to Furcal and Furcal threw it away. Utley followed with a home run to tie the game at 2-2 and Burrell hit a solo shot two batters later, putting the Phils on top to stay at 3-2.

Brett Myers and Chad Billingsley faced off in game two. Myers threw behind Manny in the first inning and a Loney double in the second helped put LA up 1-0. A Myers single helped the Phillies score four times in the bottom of the inning to go ahead 4-1. Loney had another big hit off of Myers in the third, an RBI-single that made it 4-2. The Phils extended their lead to 8-2 with four more runs in the bottom of the third, which featured Chan Ho Park striking out Rollins for the second out of the inning. That should have been it for the game, but LA got back into it in the top of the fourth. With two outs and nobody on, Furcal struck out for what should have been the third out of the inning. Ruiz didn’t block the ball, though, and Furcal was safe at first. Martin followed with a single before Manny hit a three-run homer to make it 8-5. The lead stood up for the Phils, thanks to Durbin, Romero, Lidge and Madson, who combined to throw four shutout innings.

Game three was the game the Phillies lost, falling 7-2 in LA. Moyer got the start and the Dodgers scored five times against him in the bottom of the first. Five of the first six Dodgers hitters to face Moyer reached base before he struck out Kemp for the second out of the inning with the bases loaded. He looked like he was going to get out of it down 2-0, but Blake DeWitt cleared the bases with a three-run triple that made it 5-0. A leadoff double by Howard helped the Phils cut the lead to 5-1 in the top of the second, but Moyer didn’t make it out of the bottom of the second. Furcal led off the bottom of the second with a homer that made it 6-1. Nomar Garciaparra extended the lead to 7-1 with an RBI-single off of Happ in the bottom of the fourth. Burrell drove in Utley with a single in the seventh for the Phillies other run.

Coming off of Myers throwing behind Ramirez in game one, LA starter Hiroki Kuroda threw a ball near the head of Shane Victorino in game three. It led to a bench-clearing incident after Victorino grounded out to end the inning.

Game four changed the series thanks to a late home run from Matt Stairs. Utley and Howard drove in runs off of Lowe in the top of the first, giving the Phils a 2-0 lead. Blake homered off of Blanton in the bottom of the first, cutting the lead to 2-1. Blanton protected the one-run lead until LA hit in the bottom of the fifth. Furcal led off with a walk and moved to second when Ethier followed with a bloop single. Ramirez followed with an RBI-single (2-2) and a ground out by Martin brought in Ethier to make it 3-2. Howard led off the sixth with a walk and came in to score on a wild pitch by Park to tie the game at 3-3. Blake led off the bottom of the sixth with a homer off of Durbin, though, making it 4-3, and a throwing error by Howard on a bunt by Furcal helped the Dodgers score another run to extend the lead to 5-3. That score held till the top of the eighth, when Howard led off with a single. Victorino followed two batters later and lined a ball out to right off of Corey Wade, tying the game at 5-5. Feliz flew out for the second out, but Ruiz delivered a two-out single off of Jonathan Broxton and Stairs followed and connected for a mammoth homer to put the Phils up 7-5. Romero and Lidge kept LA off the board in the eighth and the ninth.

It was hard to imagine LA coming back from Stairs dagger. They didn’t. Hamels outpitched Billingsley in game five with the Phillies winning 5-1. Rollins was the first batter of the game and he put the Phils up 1-0 with a home run to center. Howard and Burrell had RBI-singles in the third, making it 3-0. Furcal had an inning to forget in the fifth, making three errors as the Phils extended the lead to 5-0. Manny Ramirez homered off of Hamels with two outs in the sixth to get LA their only run of the game.

Kendrick and Myers are off the Phillies roster for the NLCS and have been replaced by Chan Ho Park and Eric Bruntlett. Bruntlett and Cairo are a lot of similar guys to have on your roster, especially since it means going with 11 pitchers. I think that’s a bad decision — I would rather have seen them carry 12 pitchers and just one of Bruntlett and Cairo given the bullpen struggles and the fact that I would be pretty worried about Park since he hasn’t pitched for the Phils since September 16.

On the other hand, if they weren’t comfortable with letting Kendrick pitch they shouldn’t have him on the roster. You should try to have 12 pitchers in your organization you feel okay about putting into a game, though. Cairo and Bruntlett both is a lot of Cairos and Bruntletts. Condrey and Walker sure must be wondering what is going on.

My guess is that the thinking here may be to try to put another right-handed bat on the bench out of fear of the lefties in the bullpen for the Dodgers, Kuo and Sherrill. Those guys are scary, but if that’s the reasoning I think the Phils may have overthought this one. If it is about putting another righty on the bench, I wonder if they considered Mayberry instead of Bruntlett. It sure seems like he would provoke a bit more worry in the Dodgers since he can hit the ball out of the yard.

This article suggests Pedro Martinez may start game two. I am hoping for Blanton and Pedro in game four. Blanton was 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.29 ratio in three post-season starts in the post-season in 2008. Manuel’s seeming reluctance to start him is curious to me. It no doubt has a lot to do with fear of his bullpen, but I’d just let him start.

There have been many technical problems with Philliesflow over the past few days. If the site goes down again for a long period of time, I may post at philliesflow.wordpress.com and would let people know where to find the site via the Philliesflow Twitter page.


California, here we come

Here’s the runs scored and allowed per game and the difference between the two for the Phillies and Dodgers this season:


Regular Season
  G R/G RA/G DIFF
PHI 162 5.06 4.38 0.69
LA 162 4.81 3.77 1.04

LA won 95 games this year while the Phils won 93.

The Phillies had the better offense, but LA was a lot better at preventing runs. Overall, the difference between the average number of runs scored and allowed per game is a lot bigger for the Dodgers.

Here’s what they did after the All-Star break:


Second Half
  G R/G RA/G DIFF
PHI 76 4.74 3.91 0.83
LA 74 4.55 3.69 0.86

The Phillies were 45-31 (.592) in the second-half while LA went 39-35 (.527), coming off of a brilliant first half when they were 56-32 (.636). The Dodgers had a seven game lead in the NL West going into the break. The Phils still scored more runs in the second half, but also closed the gap between the teams in terms of average difference between runs scored and allowed by improving their pitching significantly.

The Phillies offense was down a little in September, and their pitching got a little worse. The Dodgers widened the gap:


September
  G R/G RA/G DIFF
PHI 30 4.67 4.13 0.53
LA 27 4.89 3.81 1.07

Here’s what they’ve done over the past ten games, including games in the post-season:


Last ten games (including post-season)
  G R/G RA/G DIFF
PHI 10 5.20 4.40 0.80
LA 10 3.30 3.80 -0.50

The LA offense has been slowed a little, perhaps in part by the Cardinals pitching staff. They went just 2-5 in their seven games before they swept the Cards, scoring just 20 runs in those seven games. Despite outscoring the Cards 13-6 in the NLDS, LA has allowed 38 runs over their last ten games and scored just 33.

The Phils and Dodgers played seven games against each other this year:


Vs opponent in 2009
  G R/G RA/G DIFF
PHI 7 3.57 3.71 -0.14
LA 7 3.71 3.57 0.14

The Phils and Dodgers played seven games this year during the regular season. The Dodgers won four, outscoring the Phils 26-25.

Ruiz, Ibanez and Stairs were the only three Phillies that had an OPS for the year against the Dodgers that was better than .750.

Ruiz was 8-for-14 with three doubles, seven walks and a homer (571/714/1.000).

Ibanez 8-for-26, also with three doubles and a home run (308/400/538).

Stairs was 2-for-3 with two singles.

At the less good end of the pool, Victorino was 3-for-24 without a walk (125/125/250). Howard 3-for-28 with a double and a home run (107/156/250). Rollins 5-for-28 with a double and a home run (179/207/321).

Loney, Ethier and Blake all hit the Phillies well this season. Loney 11-for-28 with two home runs (393/433/607), Ethier 8-for-29 with three doubles and two home runs (276/323/586) and Blake 8-for-24 with two doubles and a home run (333/308/542). Curious about that to me is that two of those guys (Loney and Ethier) are lefties and one of them, Ethier, was absolutely atrocious against left-handed pitching this year. By absolutely atrocious I mean 194/283/345 over 187 plate appearances in this case. So maybe the lefty-heavy rotation will have more luck with them in the NLCS.

Lefty-killer Kemp was pretty good against the Phils, but not as good as Loney, Ethier and Blake by OPS. He was 9-for-27 with a double and a triple against the Phils (333/379/444).

Not to be forgotten when you consider what the Phillies did against the Dodgers this season is that Manny Ramirez did not have a single plate appearance against them this season. Seemingly less important is that Belliard didn’t as a Dodger, either, although Ron did slug .714 against the Phils as a Nat in ’09, going 4-for-14 with a double, a triple and a home run (286/286/714).

Furcal (222/250/407) and Martin (227/346/273) both hit under .230 against the Phils in ’09.


West obsessed

Still a few games left to play, but it looks almost just about sure the Phillies will be playing the Rockies of the Dodgers in the first round of the playoffs. Here’s how the offenses for the three teams compare for the year, since the All-Star break and for the month that just ended:


Season
Team G R R/G
COL 158 788 4.99
LA 159 767 4.82
PHI 158 805 5.09
       

Second Half
COL 70 346 4.94
LA 71 324 4.56
PHI 72 345 4.79
       

September
COL 27 134 4.96
LA 27 132 4.89
PHI 30 140 4.67

The Rockies have been a little better than the Dodgers offensively.

Ignoring the Phillies offense thinking only about which offense the Phils’ pitchers would fare best against, I still like the Phillies chances against the Rockies a little better than the Dodgers given the Phils seem sure to start lefties Lee and Hamels in the first two games of a short set.

Here’s what the Rockies and Dodgers have done against lefties this season — their average, on-base percentage and slugging against them as a team as well as their rate of getting hits, walks, doubles and triples and hitting home runs per 100 plate appearances:


AVG

OBP

SLG

H/100

BB/100

(2B+3B)/100

HR/100

COL

254

334

436

22.0

9.9

5.7

3.2

LA

271

358

427

23.1

10.5

5.2

2.5

The Rockies did hit for a little more power against lefties this season, but the Dodgers got hits and walks at a higher rate. LA’s .358 on-base percentage against lefties is particularly impressive.

Here are the Rockies hitters that have at least 50 plate appearances this year with an OPS of .850 or better against lefties:


Player

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
Iannetta 299 407 597 1.004
Tulowitzki 268 379 530 .909
Fowler 326 379 492 .872
Smith 259 368 500 .868
Gonzalez 294 356 510 .866

Iannetta hasn’t played nearly as much as Torrealba recently. Smith is a left-handed batter who has only had about 18% of his plate appearances against lefties this season. Fowler and Gonzalez can’t both play center field at the same time — Fowler has appeared only as a center fielder this season while Gonzalez has appeared at all three outfield positions, but mostly center and left.

Tulowitzki is just great.

Lefty Brad Hawpe plays right field just about all the time and has hit 252/348/453 against left-handed pitching this year.

Here’s how the list for the Dodgers looks:


Player

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS
Kemp 365 431 620 1.052
Blake 317 441 564 1.005
Ramirez 274 384 521 .904
Hudson 295 363 496 .859

Kemp, Blake and Ramirez are all terrors against lefties. Blake has been out with a sore hamstring, but he should be back this weekend.

Furcal and Pierre have both also been good against lefties this season, but don’t quite have their OPS against them up to .850. Furcal is hitting 298/363/454 against them and Pierre 316/412/398.

Loney and Martin both did a great job of getting on base against lefties this year, but with little power. Loney on-based .373 against them and Martin .411.

On the plus side, Andre Ethier had a fantastic year in which he hit 31 home runs and drove in 105 but was terrible against lefties. In 186 plate appearances against left-handed pitching this season he hit 189/280/341.

Jamie Moyer is out for the season. That is very disappointing — both because it would have been nice to see him help the team in the post-season and because there was a very good chance he was going to be able to given how well he had been pitching. Moyer looking up from his knees, badly injured, to see if Victorino had caught the ball in center wasn’t really the last memory of his season I was hoping for. It is, however, a good reminder of what he has given this team. After a terrible first two months this year he had thrown to a 4.06 ERA with a 1.22 ratio over his last 108 2/3 innings.

This article says that Myers was available last night, that Park will be back “very quickly” and seems to suggest that Myers may be on the post-season roster.


Left doubt

Off the Mets now and on to the lineup and whether or not it’s a big deal that the Phils hit Utley and Howard back-to-back as well as the general problem with the lack of right-handed hitters on the team. Three related points coming in this and upcoming posts: 1) (today!) Utley and Howard get a higher percentage of their plate appearances against left-handed pitching than many of the other elite left-handed hitters in baseball 2) this is a bigger deal for Howard than it is for Utley and 3) whether it’s because they hit back-to-back or not, in 2008 Utley and Howard both had numbers against relief pitchers that were a) bad and b) worse than they had been in recent years.

Pretty much I’m thinking that a lineup that goes Utley-Howard-Ibanez 3-4-5 isn’t the way to go (or the way the Phillies will go).

Today’s point is that Utley and Howard get more of their plate appearances against left-handed hitting than many of the other best left-handed hitters in baseball.

In 2008, Howard and Utley each got about 38% of their plate appearances against left-handed pitching. By OPS, Utley was the best left-handed hitter (.915) in the NL in ’08 and Howard was fifth best (.881). If you compare the percentage of their plate appearances that came against lefties for 2008 to the percentage of plate appearances that came against lefties for the four other top hitters in the NL, Utley and Howard faced lefties more often.

The chart below presents, for the six left-handed NL hitters with at least 500 plate appearances in 2008 who posted the best OPS, the percentage of their plate appearances that have come against left-handed pitchers in 2008 and in ’06 and ’07:

nlvleft.jpg

In 2006, Adam Dunn got 32.8% of his plate appearances against lefties while Howard got 32.0% of his plate appearances against lefties. Since then, though, none of the rest of the group has gotten as high a percentage of their plate appearances against lefties. That adds up to a lot of plate appearances. Brian McCann, for example, has had 1,617 total plate appearances over the past three years and 480 (29.7%) have come against lefties. Utley has had 2,059 total plate appearances and 752 of them, 36.5%, of them have come against lefties. So Utley has had 442 more total plate appearances, but 272 of them have come against left-handed pitching.

Utley and Howard are also getting a higher percentage of their plate appearances against lefties than the top left-handed hitters in the American League. By OPS, here are the top six left-handed hitters in the AL from 2008 and the percentage of their plate appearances that have come against lefties over the past three years:

alvleft.jpg

The highest mark for that group for the last three years is the 35.5% of Justin Morneau’s plate appearances that came against left-handed pitchers in 2008. Utley and Howard have both faced a higher percentage of lefties in each of the last two seasons.

It should also be noted that, like Utley and Howard, in 2008 Morneau hit almost exclusively behind another very good left-handed hitter. The Twins lineup regularly featured Joe Mauer hitting third and Morneau in the cleanup slot.

Interesting Q&A with Pat Gillick here in which he suggests the Phillies might have been willing to bring Burrell back but the length of the contract that Burrell was looking for was a problem. I also find it fascinating given how regularly Gillick wins the World Series that when asked why he pushed for the Ibanez signing the first thing he mentions is that Ibanez will be a positive influence in the clubhouse. Gillick also suggests that Ibanez may hit for more power at Citizens Bank Park and that he hits left-handed pitching well.

In this article, Charlie Manuel says that Ibanez has hit lefties well for the last few years. Ibanez smoked lefties to the tune of 305/368/497 in 2008, but hit 256/294/356 against them in 2007 and 243/301/362 against them in ’06.

This article says that Feliz hasn’t swung a bat since his surgery in November. Also says that Feliz expects to be ready for the start of the season.


Maybe it’s always sunny in Philadelphia, but we’re not in Philadelphia any more

Last night’s broadcast of game three of the NLCS in Los Angeles started out with Danny DeVito explaining that he was a Dodgers fan while he read the Phillies lineup. Things got stranger from there. Jamie Moyer got mauled, giving up five runs in the first inning. The Phils never bounced back and the Dodgers went on to win the game 7-2.

The game will most be remembered for a bench-clearing incident after the top of the third inning. After Brett Myers had come way up and in on Russell Martin and thrown a pitch behind Manny Ramirez in game two in Philadelphia, Martin was infuriated when Clay Condrey knocked him to the ground with another knockdown pitch last night in the bottom of the second. When Shane Victorino came to the plate with two outs in top of the third, Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda delivered a fastball just over the head of the center fielder. When Victorino grounded to first to end the frame, he and Kuroda exchanged words and the benches cleared for further discussion.

Pretty ugly game all around for the Phils. Not much offense — the Phillies have now been outscored 14-13 in the series. Moyer’s start, his second weak outing in two post-season appearances, certainly raises some questions about what the Phillies would do if the series went to a game seven in Philadelphia. The one thing they probably wouldn’t do is feel confident about sending Moyer to the mound.

As a bright spot, the bullpen shined again for the Phillies. JA Happ showed why he is on the roster, giving the Phils three innings and holding the Dodgers to a run. Romero and Durbin, core components of the pen that have been shaky or just plain absent recently, both pitched well in the blowout. The Phillies bullpen has allowed one run in 12 2/3 innings in the series.

The Phillies lost game three of the NLCS last night, falling 7-2. They lead the Dodgers two games to one in the best-of-seven series. The Phillies are 5-2 in the post-season after going 13-3 to end the regular season. The last time they lost a game that wasn’t started by Moyer was September 24.

Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went 1 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on six hits. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a triple and a home run. He struck out two and didn’t walk a batter. He’s been hit hard in both of his post-season starts this season, allowing eight runs in 5 1/3 innings.

The Dodger lineup against Moyer went (1) Furcal (SS/S) (2) Ethier (RF/L) (3) Ramirez (LF/R) (4) Martin (C/R) (5) Garciaparra (1B/R) (6) Blake (3B/R) (7) Kemp (CF/R) (8) DeWitt (2B/L). Garciaparra starts at first after Loney played first against the lefty Hamels in game one. Blake moves up to sixth and Kemp down to seventh after Blake hit sixth and Kemp seventh in game one. Nomar came into the game 15-for-36 (417/432/722) against Moyer in his career.

The Dodgers started the game with six hitters on their bench: Kent (R), Berroa (R), Ardoin (R), Ozuna (R), Loney (L) and Pierre (L).

Furcal started the first with a single into left. Ethier singled past a diving Utley and into right, moving Furcal to second. Manny ripped the first pitch of his at-bat into left for a single. Burrell had no chance to get Furcal, but threw home. Furcal was safe, the ball bounced before the plate and over Ruiz’s head where it was backed up nicely by Moyer. The throw home allowed Manny to wind up at second with Ethier at third. Burrell also threw to the wrong base in game three of the NLDS. Moyer hit Martin in the knee with a 1-2 pitch, loading the bases with nobody out. Garciaparra struck out for the first out, looking at a 2-2 pitch on the outside corner. Moyer got ahead of Blake, but Blake hit a soft liner into right on an 0-2 pitch for another single. Everyone moved up a base and it was 2-0 with the bases still loaded and one out for Kemp. Kemp got ahead 3-0 but went down looking at a 3-2 pitch on the inside of the plate. Moyer got ahead of DeWitt 2-0 before DeWitt hit a 2-2 pitch into the right field corner for a triple that cleared the bases and put the Dodgers up 5-0. Kuroda chopped to third to end the inning.

Moyer threw 35 pitches in the first inning.

He started the second down 5-1. Furcal swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and hit the ball out to left-center, putting LA up 6-1. Ethier swung at the first pitch as well, popping it into shallow center for the first out. Manny was next and Clay Condrey came in to pitch to him. Condrey walked Ramirez on a 3-2 pitch, putting him on first for Martin with one out. Condrey’s first pitch to Martin was up and in, knocking him to the ground. Martin was not pleased, glaring out at the mound. He swung really hard at the next pitch and grounded it to short. Rollins took it there and started the double-play to end the inning.

Happ started the third after a bench-clearing incident between the top and bottom of the inning. Nomar hit his first pitch into center for a single. Blake also swung at the first pitch and flew into shallow center for the first out. Kemp got ahead 2-0 and singled into right field past a diving Utley, moving Nomar to second. Happ struck the lefty DeWitt out swinging 2-2 for the second out. The pitcher Kuroda went down swinging for the third out.

Furcal popped a 2-2 pitch to second for the first out of the fourth. Ethier flew to center on a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Ramirez walked on four pitches and Martin walked on four pitches behind him. Nomar lined an 0-1 pitch into left for a single. Burrell threw home, but Feliz wisely cut his throw and the Phils got Martin in-between second and third to end the inning. Ramirez scored before Rollins tagged out Martin, extending the lead to 7-1.

Happ walked two righties and gave up a hit to another and it cost him a run. He had thrown 37 pitches in the game.

Blake grounded to third for the first out in the fifth. Kemp was next and he singled into center. With DeWitt at the plate and the count 1-1, Kemp took off for second but left too early. Happ threw to first and Howard made an accurate throw to second where Rollins tagged Kemp out for the second out (he looked safe to me). DeWitt grounded to short for the third out.

The Phils hit for Happ in the top of the sixth. Happ allowed four hits and two walks in three innings in the game, with all of the damage done by righties. Two hits for Kemp, two for Garciaparra and walks to Ramirez and Martin. Nice job to pitch well enough to give the pen a break, though.

Eyre started the sixth. He got the pitcher Kuroda to ground to second for the first out. Furcal hit a ball between short and third and Feliz made a nice play, moving to his left to glove the ball and making a strong throw to first to get Furcal for the second out. Ethier flew to left for the third out.

Durbin started the seventh with the Phillies down 7-2. He got Ramirez to fly to right before he hit Martin with a first pitch breaking ball that didn’t break enough. The lefty Loney hit for the righty Garciaparra and struck out swinging on three pitches for the second out. Martin stole second with Blake at the plate, Coste made a miserable throw from his knees that nearly hit Durbin in the head before bouncing feet in front of second base. Blake walked to put men on first and second with two down, but Condrey got Kemp looking at a 1-2 pitch to leave both men stranded.

Romero pitched the eighth. Berroa, who replaced DeWitt at second in the top of the inning, led off and grounded to third for the first out. Jeff Kent hit for the pitcher Cory Wade and struck out swinging. Furcal walked on four pitches before Romero got the lefty Ethier looking at an 0-2 pitch to end the inning.

Nice to see both Durbin and Romero have nice outings. The Phils are going to need both of them.

The Phillies pen went 6 2/3 innings in the game, allowing a run on four hits and five walks. Happ allowed all four of the hits in his three innings, and two of the walks. Happ threw 44 pitches and is surely unavailable tonight. Durbin threw 21, Romero 16, Eyre 9 and Condrey eight.

Overall, the Phils have allowed 14 runs in the first three games of the series, six of which were allowed my Moyer. They have walked way too many over the past two games, though. After walking seven in game two they walked five last night.

The LA pen went two more scoreless innings. Wade needed 33 pitches to throw two innings, which is good news for the Phillies. Dodgers’ relievers have not been charged with a run in the series — they have thrown 11 1/3 innings.

The Phillies lineup against righty Hiroki Kuroda went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Werth (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Feliz back at third after Dobbs started against Billingsley and made an error in game two. Ruiz continues to catch with Victorino hitting second and Werth sixth. Ruiz caught about 60% of the batters that Moyer faced this season, with Coste catching for the other 40%.

The Phils started the game with six players on their bench: Coste (R), Taguchi (R), Bruntlett (R), Dobbs (L), Stairs (L) and Jenkins (L).

Rollins got behind 0-2 and then grounded to second for the first out. Victorino popped to short on an 0-1 pitch for the second out. Kuroda got ahead of Utley 1-0 before he finally delivered his first ball of the game. The 1-1 pitch was way high. Not close to hitting Utley, but up near his head and perhaps not an accident after Myers threw way up and in on Martin and then behind Ramirez in the first inning of game two. Utley took two more ball and drew a walk. Howard got behind 1-2 and Utley took off for second as Kuroda threw ball three. Martin’s throw to second bounced before it got to the bag, but Furcal made a nice play to pick it and block Utley’s slide with his left foot as he tagged Utley out to end the frame.

I’d try hard not to get caught stealing with Howard at the plate.

Down 5-0, Howard led off the second and doubled into right field. Burrell was next and hit a 3-1 pitch well to left, but Ramirez took it at the warning track for the first out. Werth flew to center on a 1-1 pitch for the second out, with Howard moving up to third. Feliz was next and he lined a 1-1 pitch into left for a single. Howard scored to get the Phillies on the board at 5-1. Ruiz swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and flew to center.

Jenkins hit for Condrey to start the third and grounded a 3-1 pitch to short for the first out. Rollins went down looking at a 1-2 pitch on the inside corner. Kuroda threw the first pitch to Victorino behind his head, drawing an angry reaction from Victorino, who gestured at his head and then his body. Victorino grounded a 1-1 pitch to first for the third out. Garciaparra took the ball to the base himself, but Kuroda had come over towards the bag in case he needed to cover. Victorino again gestured to Kuroda and the benches cleared. No punches or ejections. Manny looked pretty enthusiastic, but was restrained.

Utley ripped the first pitch of the fourth to first, where it was picked by Garciaparra who took it to first for the first out. Howard grounded a 2-0 pitch to second for the second out. Burrell struck out swinging 2-2 to set the Phillies down.

Werth struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out of the fifth. Feliz grounded to short for the second. Ruiz flew to right on a 2-2 pitch for the third out.

Through five innings, Kuroda had allowed a run on two hits and a walk and thrown 67 pitches.

Iguchi hit for Happ to start the sixth and grounded to short. Rollins flew to center on a 1-0 pitch for the second out. Victorino grounded a 2-2 pitch to second for the second out.

Utley led off the seventh and hit a 2-1 pitch down the left field line for a double. Howard lined the first pitch of his at-bat into right for a single that fell at the feet of Ethier. Burrell was next and he dumped a 1-1 pitch into center field for a single that scored Utley and moved Howard to second with the Phils down 7-2. Cory Wade came in to pitch to Werth and quickly got ahead 0-2. Werth tried to check his swing at a 1-2 pitch outside and in the dirt. Looked like he checked to me, but he didn’t get the call and was down on strikes for the first out. Feliz hit for himself with the righty Wade on the mound and flew to center on a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Howard tagged and took third, sliding in safely ahead of a strong throw from Kemp. Dobbs hit for Ruiz and Wade stayed in to face him with two outs and men on first and third. Dobbs hit it back up the middle, but Furcal took it just to the left of second and threw Dobbs out at first to set the Phils down.

Coste was on deck to hit for the pitcher Eyre. Phillies could have hit Stairs for Feliz (or Dobbs for Feliz and Stairs for Ruiz), but didn’t. Don’t know why if they weren’t going to hit Stairs for the pitcher’s spot.

Coste led off the eighth with a single into left with Wade still on the mound for LA. First career post-season hit for Coste. Rollins struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out. Victorino popped to third on a 1-0 pitch. Utley grounded to short to leave Coste stranded.

Jonathan Broxton pitched the ninth for LA with a 7-2 lead. Howard grounded to first for the first out. Burrell struck out swinging on three pitches for the second. Werth got ahead 2-1 and singled to right, but was left at first when Feliz popped to second to end the game.

Rollins was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the game. He’s 1-for-13 with six strikeouts in the series.

Victorino 0-for-4 in the game and 2-for-13 with a triple and four RBI in the series.

Utley 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in the game. 3-for-8 with a double, a home run and five walks in the series.

Howard 2-for-4 with a double. 2-for-12 with a walk in the series.

Burrell 1-for-4 with an RBI. 4-for-11 with a home run and six strikeouts in the series.

Werth 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. 2-for-12 with a double in the series.

Feliz 1-for-4 with an RBI. 1-for-7 in the series.

Ruiz 0-for-2 in the game and 3-for-9 with a double in the series.

Joe Blanton (9-12, 4.69) faces Derek Lowe (14-11, 3.24) tonight in game four. Lowe started game one for the Dodgers and took a 2-0 shutout into the sixth inning before giving up three runs on homers to Utley and Burrell. He’ll be pitching on three days rest. He made one start on three days rest this season, on May 18 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and allowed seven runs on ten hits and a walk over five innings (12.60 ERA).

The Phillies have won the last five games that Blanton started, most notably game four of the NLDS. Blanton allowed three hit and took a shutout into the seventh before Fielder hit a monster home run to start the seventh and Hardy followed him with a single. Blanton ended the day with the win, having allowed a run on five hits and no walks over six while striking out seven.

Righties hit Blanton better than lefties this season. They hit .286 against him with a 1.56 ratio, lefties .256 with a 1.25 ratio.

Blanton made two starts against the Dodgers this season, throwing to a 4.09 ERA but a 1.91 ratio (he allowed 15 hits and six walks in 11 innings). On August 13 the Phillies gave him a 6-1 lead in the second, but allowed four runs on nine hits and three walks over five innings and the Dodgers came back to win 7-6. Blanton was much better on August 24. He held LA to a run on six hits and three walks over six innings and the Phils won the game on a game-winning three-run homer by Feliz in the eleventh.

Ramirez is an amazing 14-for-25 against Blanton in his career (560/600/720). Another former ALer, Casey Blake, is just 1-for-21. Berroa is the only other player on the roster who has more than ten at-bats against Blanton, he’s 3-for-11.


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