It would be all about the Benjamins if Francisco’s first name was actually Benjamin. Mostly at least. It would also be some about Cole Hamels, too. And a little about a great job by Ryan Madson to get out of a huge jam in the bottom of the eighth.
The Phils got an outstanding pitching performance from Cole Hamels last night and one big swing of the bat from Ben Francisco as they topped the Cards 3-2 in game three of the NLDS.
Hamels and St Louis lefty Jaime Garcia locked up in a pitcher’s duel that saw the Phillies come to bat in the seventh with the game scoreless. With two outs, Victorino on first and Ruiz set to hit in front of Hamels, who was clearly going to be removed for a pinch-hitter having thrown 117 pitches in the game, the lefty Garcia walked Ruiz intentionally. Francisco hit for Hamels and blasted a three-run homer to left, putting the Phils on top 3-0. The bullpen struggled for the Phillies after Hamels left. Worley allowed a run on two singles and a walk in the bottom of the seventh, cutting the lead to 3-1. In the eighth, another single off of Worley and two off of Lidge loaded the bases for St Louis with one out. Madson came in to try to lock down a long save and got out of the eighth on a double-play ball smashed to second by Allen Craig. Madson was charged with a run in the bottom of the ninth when Albert Pujols led off with a double and scored on a two-out single by Yadier Molina, cutting the lead to 3-2. Ryan Theriot came to the plate 4-for-4 on the day as the winning run with two outs and a man on first, but Madson got him to ground to Utley at second to end the game.
The decision to walk Ruiz, 1-for-11 in the series, ahead of the pitcher’s spot with two outs in the seventh was baffling. It put another runner on base for the righty Francisco to hit against the lefty Garcia. After he homered, the St Louis comeback fell a run short. The foundation may have been Francisco’s 1-for-9 against Garcia for his career, but that was a bad idea and it hurt St Louis.
For Francisco it was a shining moment in a down season. He started for the Phillies in right field on opening day, but disappointed offensively, hitting an ugly 197/324/309 in 184 plate appearances between April 13 and June 30.
His home run last night was a much-needed lift for an offense that has seen its starters knock in zero runs in the last 16 innings.
The St Louis pen continues to befuddle the Phillies. After two scoreless innings in game three, they have thrown eight scoreless frames since being hit hard in game one.
The Phillies pen, on the other handled, struggled like they did in game one. The pen was great in game two, throwing three scoreless innings in relief of Lee. In games one and three they have allowed five runs on 11 hits and two walks over four innings. Eleven hits is more than you want to allow in four innings.
The Phils have won both of the games in which their pen has pitched badly and won the one where it didn’t.
The Phillies lead the NLDS with the St Louis Cardinals two games to one after winning game three 3-2 last night.
Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went six shutout innings, allowing five hits and three walks. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both doubles to Albert Pujols. He struck out eight. He has allowed two earned runs over 21 innings in his last three post-season starts.
He faced a St Louis lineup that went (1) Rafael Furcal (SS/S) (2) Allen Craig (RF/R) (3) Albert Pujols (1B/R) (4) Lance Berkman (LF/S) (5) David Freese (3B/R) (6) Yadier Molina (C/R) (7) Ryan Theriot (2B/R) (8) Jon Jay (CF/L).
St Louis had six hitters on the bench to start the game, righties Matt Holliday and Gerald Laird, lefties Adron Chambers, Skip Schumaker and Daniel Descalso and switch-hitter Nick Punto.
Hamels got Furcal on a ground ball to second for the first out of the bottom of the first. Craig popped to Rollins on a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Pujols was next and doubled to center on a 2-2 pitch before Hamels hit Berkman 1-0 to put men on first and second. Berkman and Pujols pulled off a double-steal, but Hamels struck Freese out swinging 0-2 to leave them at second and third.
Molina hit a 2-2 pitch way out but foul before flying to Pence for the first out of the second. Theriot singled to right, but Hamels struck Jay out looking 3-2 for the second out and pitcher Jaime Garcia out swinging to leave Theriot at first.
Furcal went down swinging 1-2 to start the third before Craig walked on a 3-2 pitch up and away. Pujols flew to center on a 2-1 pitch for the second out and Berkman grounded to Utley to end the frame.
Don’t want to walk guys ahead of Pujols and Berkman, but it worked out okay for Hamels there.
Hamels struck Freese out trying to check his swing for the first out in the fourth. Molina grounded to short for the second. Theriot was next and he dribbled an 0-2 pitch down the third base line that stayed fair for a single. Theriot stole second as the count went 2-0 on Jay, so Hamels put Jay on intentionally to pitch to Garcia with men on first and second. Garcia grounded to short to leave both runners stranded.
Furcal popped to Utley to start the fifth and Craig flew to center behind him. Pujols ripped an 0-1 pitch into the gap in right center where the ball rolled all the way to the wall for a double. Berkman grounded to Howard to end the inning.
Hamels got Freese looking 2-2 to start the sixth. Molina got ahead of Hamels 3-0, but Hamels came back and struck him out swinging for the second out. Theriot was next and he singled to left, bringing Jay to the plate with two outs and a man on first. Hamels walked Jay on a 3-2 pitch that was low and his 111th of the game. Hamels struck Garcia out swinging 1-2 with his 117th pitch of the game to leave both runners stranded.
Theriot was 3-for-3 in the game at that point and Freese 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.
Worley started the seventh with the Phils on top 3-0. Furcal grounded to first for the first out, but Worley walked Craig on a 3-2 pitch behind him. Pujols was next and he blooped a ball into right that fell between Utley and Pence, putting men on first and second for Berkman. Berkman swung at the first pitch and hit a ground ball to second, with Utley going to Rollins at second to force Pujols for the second out with Craig moving up to third. Freese was also swinging at the first pitch and singled into center, scoring Craig to make it 3-1 and moving Berkman to second. Molina flew to right on a 1-0 pitch to end the inning.
I’m pretty sure it’s enough with walking Craig ahead of the great hitters.
Worley was back to start the eighth and got ahead of Theriot 0-2 before Worley looped a single that dropped right in front of Pence. Fourth hit of the game for Theriot. Bastardo took over to pitch to the lefty Jay and Punto hit for Jay. Punto flew to center on a 2-1 pitch for the first out. Righty Matt Holliday hit for the pitcher Fernando Salas and Lidge came in to pitch to him. Lidge threw strike one to Holliday before Holliday singled into left, moving Theriot up to second. Adron Chambers ran for Holliday at first. Furcal was next and singled to left on a 1-2 pitch, loading the bases for the Cards. Manuel called on Madson to pitch to Craig and Craig hit an 0-1 pitch hard but right at Utley. Utley ran to second then made a strong throw to first to complete the double-play and end the inning.
Just a huge pitch for Madson to get the double-play and get the Phillies out of the inning. Madson also gets out of the frame with just two pitches — important since he was coming back for the ninth. Getting a double-play also meant the guy behind Craig, Pujols, didn’t get to hit with a bunch of men on bases.
Fantastic decision by Manuel to bring in his best relief option with one out in the eighth inning.
It was good Pujols didn’t get to hit with the bases loaded cause he doubled to left to start the ninth. Madson got Berkman to fly to center on a 1-2 pitch for the first out. Madson got ahead of Freese and threw an 0-2 pitch that Freese took that looked real good to me. Might have been a little high. Freese took if for ball one then grounded to second 2-2 for the second out with Pujols moving up to third. Molina was next and he lined a single into center, scoring Pujols and cutting the lead to 3-2. Pitcher Kyle Lohse ran for Molina at first and Theriot came to the plate with a 4-for-4 for the game and hitting .750 in the series. Madson got Theriot to hit a one-hopper to Utley on a 2-2 pitch with Utley going to Howard in plenty of time to end the game.
Either team could have won the game on every pitch of Theriot’s at-bat, but Madson gets the job done for his second career post-season save. The other came in game five of the 2009 World Series. Madson has pitched in every game in the series, including the one that the Phillies won by five runs. Anyone remember Juan Uribe last year or Madson pitching with five-run leads? Just saying. That just saying aside, I thought it was great Manuel brought Madson in with one out in the eighth yesterday. Less fantastic he brought him into the ninth inning of game one, which the Phils won by five runs (the Phils were actually up seven runs, 11-4, with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth when Madson entered game one).
Three ugly innings for the bullpen in which they allow two runs on seven hits and a walk. Madson threw 20 pitches in the game and Worley 18. Bastardo and Lidge were both under ten.
Pujols and Theriot both went 4-for-5 in game three. Theriot had four singles and Pujols three doubles and a single. Pujols is 7-for-13 in the series and Theriot 6-for-9.
Furcal 1-for-5 in the game and 4-for-14 in the series.
Craig 0-for-3 with two walks. He’s 1-for-10 in the series but has walked four times. The Phillies should really try to stop walking him ahead of Pujols and Berkman.
Freese 1-for-5 with three strikeouts. 2-for-12 with six strikeouts in the series.
Molina 1-for-5 in the game and 3-for-12 in the series.
Jay 0-for-1 and walked twice. 2-for-8 with three walks in the series.
The Phillies lineup against lefty Jaime Garcia went (1) Rollins (SS/S) (2) Utley (2B/L) (3) Pence (RF/R) (4) Howard (1B/L) (5) Victorino (CF/S) (6) Mayberry (LF/R) (7) Polanco (3B/R) (8) Ruiz (C/R). Mayberry starts in left against the lefty with Ibanez on the bench. That seems like the right decision, although Ibanez went 3-for-8 with a home run and four RBI in the first two games of the series.
The Phils started the game with six players on their bench, righties Wilson Valdez and Ben Francisco, lefties Brian Schneider, Raul Ibanez and Ross Gload and switch-hitter Michael Martinez.
Rollins was the first batter of the game and fouled out to Pujols. Utley grounded to first for the second out. Pence lined to Furcal at short for the third out.
Howard struck out swinging 1-2 to start the second. Victorino flew to center for the second out and Mayberry struck out swinging 0-2 for the third.
Polanco grounded to short for the first out of the third before Ruiz chopped a ball over Freese’s head and into left for a single. Hamels tried to bunt but popped the first pitch from Garcia up to Molina in foul territory for the second out. Rollins was next and he hit a ball into center that Jay may have had trouble seeing in the sun, but it would have fallen anyway. Rollins had a single and Ruiz moved up to second. Utley grounded to Pujols to leave both runners stranded.
Pence flew to Berkman on the edge of the track in right for the first out of the fourth. Howard struck out looking 2-2 for the second. Victorino grounded to third to end the frame.
Mayberry started the fifth with a ground out to short. Polanco grounded to third for the second. Ruiz smashed a 3-2 pitch to Furcal’s right, but Furcal made a nice play to pick the ball and a strong throw to first to get Ruiz and set the Phillies down.
Hamels hammered a 1-0 pitch to left to start the sixth, but Craig took it after a long run for the first out. Rollins was next and flew to left for the second out. Utley was next and singled into center. He took second when Garcia delivered a 1-1 pitch to Pence that looked like it could have been blocked by Molina but wasn’t. With Utley on second, Pence was walked intentionally to put men on first and second. Howard grounded to first 0-2 for the third out to leave both men stranded.
Victorino got ahead 3-0 to start the seventh and singled into center on a 3-2 pitch. The first pitch to Mayberry was a low fastball that Molina again couldn’t block, allowing Victorino to move up to second. Mayberry flew to right for the first out and Berkman nearly picked Victorino off of second, with Victorino scurrying back just ahead of the tag. Polanco was next and grounded to third for the second out with Victorino holding second. For reasons that completely escape me, Garcia walked Ruiz intentionally to put men on first and second. Francisco hit for Hamels and hit a 1-0 pitch out to left for a three-run homer that put the Phils on top 3-0. Rollins doubled over Jay’s head and stole third, but was left there when Utley grounded to second.
Walking Ruiz intentionally is kinda baffling.
Righty Fernando Salas started the eighth with the Phillies up 3-1 and got Pence on a fly ball to right for the first out. Howard was next and he grounded to second for the second out. Victorino grounded to second to set the Phillies down.
Righy Jason Motte was on for the Cards to start the ninth. Skip Schumaker was in center for St Louis, where he had played 13 innings in 2011. Mayberry led off and hit a ball into center that Furcal tracked down with an over-the-shoulder catch for the first out. Polanco was next and broke his 0-for-11 with a single to right. Ruiz hit a ball into center that Schumaker made a diving effort at. It was originally ruled a non-catch with Ruiz safe at first with a single, but the umpires huddled and called it a catch (it was). Polanco went back to first with two down. Madson hit for himself and Motte struck him out swinging 0-2 to leave Polanco at first.
Dotel, Motte, Rhodes and Salas have combined to throw eight scoreless innings so far in the series in which they have allowed one hit (Polanco’s game three single off of Motte) and no walks.
Rollins was 2-for-4 with a double in the game. He’s 7-for-12 with a walk and three doubles in the series.
Utley 1-for-4. 4-for-10 with two walks and two doubles.
Pence 0-for-3 with a walk and 3-for-11 with two walks in the series.
Howard 0-for-4 and struck out twice. 2-for-11 with a home run and six RBI in the series. 1-for-8 in the last two games.
Victorino 1-for-4 yesterday and 4-for-12 with four singles in the series.
Mayberry 0-for-4 with a strikeout in the game and in the set.
Polanco 1-for-4 with a single. 1-for-12 in the series. He’s now hitting 254/321/287 in 140 career post-season plate appearances. 7-for-41 (.171) with the Phillies in the playoffs since the start of the 2010 post-season.
Ruiz was 1-for-3 with a memorable intentional walk. He’s 1-for-11 in the set.
Polanco and Ruiz are a combined 2-for-23 at the bottom of the order for the Phils. Rollins and Utley are a combined 11-for-22 so far at the top.
Roy Oswalt faces righty Edwin Jackson in game four.