Tag: Ben Francisco

Third time proves to be more alarming than charming

The Phils still can’t score, but it’s a lot more alarming that now they aren’t winning. Last night Cliff Lee battled the home plate umpire for most of the game and walked a career high six, but it was hard to ignore what the offense wasn’t doing. It wasn’t scoring runs and it hasn’t been for a while now. With a 3-1 loss last night the Phils have lost three games in a row for the first time this season.

The Phillies have now scored one run or no runs in four of the last five starts made by Lee.

After an 18-8 April, the Phillies are 7-7 in May. In April they allowed about 3.38 runs per game. The good news is that that’s gotten better — so far in May they’ve allowed 3.14 runs a game. The bad news, of course, is that they can’t score enough. After averaging 4.62 runs a game in April they have scored just 3.36 runs a game so far in May.

The Phillies are 25-15 on the year after losing to the St Louis Cardinals 3-1 last night. They have lost three in a row.

Lee got the start for the Phillies and went 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits and six walks. All six of the hits were singles and he struck out four. After nine starts he has a 3.84 ERA. He’s thrown to a 3.78 ERA over his last five outings, but the Phillies have gone 1-4.

He walked 18 batters in 212 1/3 innings in 2010. So far in 2011 he has walked 13 in 58 2/3 innings.

Ryan Theriot led off the bottom of the first with a single to center. Jon Jay bunted him to second with the first out before Albert Pujols flew to left for the second. Lee walked Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman back-to-back, loading the bases for Allen Craig. Craig flew to right to leave all three runners stranded.

Lee threw a 1-2-3 second with a 1-0 lead, striking Yadier Molina out swinging 1-2 for the first out, getting Nick Punto on a ball that Lee handled and threw to first for the second and striking the pitcher Jake Westbrook out swinging 0-2.

Lee walked Theriot to start the third, but got Jay to ground into a double-play behind him. Pujols grounded to short to end the inning.

Holliday and Berkman walked back-to-back again to start the fourth. Again Lee got Craig, striking him out for the first out, but Molina was next and reached on an infield single that loaded the bases. Punto was next and lined a single to right, moving everyone up a base and tying the game at 1-1. Lee struck the pitcher Westbrook out for the second out before Theriot singled to right. Berkman scored easily to make it 2-1, but Lee took the throw from right and threw Molina out at home to end the inning.

Lee set the Cards down in order in the fifth and the sixth.

Punto led off the seventh with a single and pitcher Kyle Lohse hit for the pitcher Westbrook and Lohse bunted Punto to second with the first out. Theriot walked, putting men on first and second for the Cardinals, and Jay followed that with a single to center. Punto scored to extend the lead to 3-1 with Theriot taking second. Stutes took over for Lee and got Pujols to hit into a double-play to end the inning.

That could have been worse. Again Lee gives up a walk in the inning, but the Cards don’t need it to help them score this time.

Romero started the eighth and got the leadoff hitter Holliday before hitting Berkman with a pitch. Craig flew to center for the second out before Molina dribbled a single between short and third and under the glove of Rollins. Punto flew to Mayberry to leave the runners at first and second.

Romero threw 20 pitches in the game. Stutes threw five.

The Phillies lineup against righty Jake Westbrook went (1) Rollins (2) Valdez (3) Ibanez (4) Howard (5) Mayberry (6) Francisco (7) Orr (8) Ruiz. Polanco gets the day off with a tight back. Valdez starts at third with Ibanez moved up to the three-spot in the order. Victorino on the bench with a hamstring. Mayberry in center with Francisco in right, which is a whole lot better than anything that involves Martinez starting in the outfield. The lefty Orr at second. There’s some ugly to spread around there with Polanco and Victorino out and no good option at second anyway, but Valdez shouldn’t ever be hitting second.

The Phils went in order in the first. Valdez tried to bunt, which is a good idea for several reasons including Pujols at third and being Valdez, but Westbrook handled it and threw it to first to get him for the second out.

Howard led off the top of the second with a walk. Mayberry was next and hit a ground ball to third with Pujols fielding and throwing to second for the first out. Mayberry stole second before Francisco singled to left, scoring Mayberry without a play at the plate to put the Phils up 1-0. Orr was next and hit a ball that Westbrook fielded. Westbrook threw to second to force Francisco for the second out with Orr safe at first. Just for a second, though, cause Westbrook picked Orr of first to set the Phillies down.

Rollins ripped a ball to right center with two outs in the first that fell and hopped over the wall for a ground-rule double. Valdez grounded to second on a nice play by Punto in shallow right to leave Rollins stranded.

Howard walked with one out in the fourth. Mayberry flew to left and Francisco flew to center to leave him stranded.

The Phils were down 2-1 when they hit in the fifth. Orr and Ruiz went down to start the inning before Lee singled into center. Rollins moved him to second with a single, but Valdez grounded to third to turn the Phils away.

Howard walked with one out in the sixth, but Mayberry hit into a double-play behind him.

The Phils went in order in the seventh, with Pujols making a nice play on a ball hit hard by Francisco for the first out.

With righty Eduardo Sanchez on the mound for the Cardinals and the Phils down 3-1, Gload hit for Stutes to start the eighth and singled to center. Rollins hit into a double-play behind him. Polanco hit for Valdez and struck out looking for the third out.

Ibanez, Howard and Mayberry went in order in the ninth.

Rollins was 2-for-4 with a double in the game, which was the only extra-base hit for the Phils. His batting average for balls in play is .301 for the season.

Valdez was 0-for-3 with three men left on base. He’s hitting 214/225/271 against right-handed pitching for the year. The Phillies have now given him 460 plate appearances since the start of 2010 in which he has hit 252/297/344. He’s really not the guy you want hitting second.

Ibanez was 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his first action of the year hitting third. He’s 0-for-his-last-10.

Howard 0-for-1 with three walks. 0-for-his-last-9 with three walks.

Francisco 1-for-3 with an RBI. 108/327/108 over his last 50 plate appearances. He slugged .455 through April 27 and has slugged .146 in 55 plate appearances since.

Orr was 0-for-3. He’s slugging .298 for the year. Phillies second baseman have combined to hit 228/281/279 for the season, for a .560 OPS that’s the worst in the NL. The Fish were behind them last night before Omar Infante went 3-for-4.

Ruiz was 0-for-3. He’s 1-for-his-last-30 and hitting 033/211/033 over his last 38 plate appearances.

Roy Oswalt (3-1, 3.33) faces lefty Jaime Garcia (5-0, 1.89) tonight. Garcia finished third for NL Rookie of the Year last season and has allowed one run in 16 innings over his last two starts. He faced the Phillies twice in 2010 (May 3 and July 21, going 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA and a 1.00 ratio. Oswalt has made five starts on the year, going six innings in each of the first four and allowing two runs or less each time before allowing five runs in three innings against the Diamondbacks before hitting the DL after his April 26 start.

This says that Utley will not return this week, but that it’s likely he’ll be back in the majors before May 30.


Offense ensures the latest efforts by Halladay are a complete waste

Roy Halladay threw his second complete game in two starts yesterday, but for the second straight start it wasn’t enough to get the Phillies a win. After plating just two runs in a 3-2 loss yesterday, the Phils have now scored three runs in his last two starts.

With yesterday’s loss the Phils dropped the series with Atlanta two games to one.

The Phils won the opener of the series 5-4. Ryan Howard gave the Phils an early 3-0 lead in the top of the first, but Atlanta got a run in the bottom of the first and tied it up with two more off of Hamels in the bottom of the fifth. A single, a double and a wild pitch by Hamels got Atlanta a run and a 4-3 lead in the sixth. A two-out double by Rollins in the seventh was followed by an RBI-single by Victorino, tying the game at 4-4. Howard led off the eighth with a double and came in to score on a one-out single by Ibanez. Five Phillie relievers combined to go three shutout innings after six innings from Hamels and Madson worked the ninth to earn his sixth save of the year.

Blanton only went five innings in game two and Kendrick and Romero followed that up by combining to allow three runs in the sixth. It left the Phils down 5-1 after six innings. They managed a pair of runs in an eighth inning that included an RBI-double by Valdez, but didn’t get anything more and lost 5-3.

Yesterday Halladay threw a complete game, but the Phils managed just four hits and fell 3-2. Mayberry drove in both the Phillie runs with a two-run homer in the sixth, but the slumping Dan Uggla went nuts for the Braves, going 2-for-3 with a walk, a home run and scoring all three Atlanta runs.

The Phillies are 25-14 on the year after losing to the Atlanta Braves 3-2 yesterday afternoon. The Braves take the series two games to one. The Phils are in first place in the NL East, two games ahead of the second-place Marlins

Halladay got the start for the Phillies in yesterday’s game and went eight innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a solo homer. He struck out seven.

Martin Prado led off the bottom of the first with a single. Nate McLouth bunted, but popped the bunt up to Howard for the first out. Brian McCann popped to third for the second out and Halladay struck Dan Uggla out swinging 1-2 to end the inning.

You probably don’t bunt with your two-hitter in the first inning if you think you’re going to score a lot of runs in the game.

Eric Hinske flew to center for the first out of the second. Alex Gonzalez popped to Rollins for the second and Halladay struck Freddie Freeman out swinging 2-2 for the third.

Brooks Conrad fouled out to Polanco for the first out of the third, but the pitcher Tim Hudson followed with a single into center. Prado followed with a ground ball that Rollins handled, forcing Hudson at second for the second out. McLouth hit a ball ticketed for right. Orr made a nice sliding play on the outfield grass, but didn’t have a play on McLouth at second. McLouth had an infield single and Prado moved up to second. McCann flew to center to leave both runners stranded.

Uggla and Hinske singled back-to-back to start the fourth, putting men on the corners with nobody out. Halladay struck Gonzalez out swinging 0-2 for the first out. Freeman was next and hit a ball up the middle that Rollins likely would have fielded and turned into an inning-ending double-play, but the ball was deflected by Halladay and rolled towards short. Rollins didn’t have a chance to get an out, Freeman had an infield single and Uggla scored to put Atlanta up 1-0 with one out and men on first and second. Conrad popped to Rollins in short left for the second out and Hudson popped to Orr to leave both men stranded.

The Braves use some good fortune to grab the lead. Both of the hits by Uggla and Hinske were of the bloop variety and the deflection by Halladay gets Freeman an RBI-single.

Halladay had thrown 62 pitches through five innings.

He started the sixth with a 2-1 lead and walked Uggla on five pitches. Hinske moved Uggla to third with a single before Halladay struck out Gonzalez for the first out. Freeman was next and flew to left for the second out, deep enough for Uggla to tag and score, tying the game at 2-2. Conrad flew to right on a nice running catch by Mayberry for the third out.

Walking the leadoff hitter doesn’t usually work out for the best. Second time in three innings that Halladay struck out Gonzalez with nobody out and a man on third.

Halladay got righty Diory Hernandez, hitting for the pitcher Hudson, on a ground ball to first for the first out of the seventh. Prado walked behind him and McLouth followed that with a ground ball to first. Howard looked like the thought about going to second, but took the ball to first for the second out with Prado taking second. McCann grounded to first to end the inning.

If Howard doesn’t feel comfortable about throwing to second base, there’s good reason for that.

Uggla led off the eighth and hit a 3-2 pitch just barely out to left center, putting Atlanta ahead 3-2. Halladay got the next three hitters behind him.

At least now we know what’s worse than walking Uggla to lead off the inning.

The Phillies lineup against righty Tim Hudson went (1) Rollins (2) Martinez (3) Polanco (4) Howard (5) Ibanez (6) Mayberry (7) Orr (8) Ruiz. Victorino on the bench after hurting his hamstring trying to beat out a hit in game two of the series. This suggests Victorino could miss the next two games and try to return Wednesday at home. We’ll see. Martinez starts for him in center, making his second start there for the season. The other time he started was on April 3 — Victorino was banged up that day as well, having collided with Francisco the game before. Martinez was an odd choice for a roster spot to start the season and hasn’t done a whole lot since being given one. Mayberry in right with Francisco on the bench. Orr at second against the righty with Valdez on the bench.

The Phils went in order in the first.

Mayberry walked with two outs in the second, but was left stranded when Orr grounded to short behind him.

Ruiz led off the third with a single, but Halladay struck out trying to bunt him to second behind him. Rollins flew to right for the second out before Martinez sent Ruiz to third with a single. Polanco grounded to short for the first out.

Halladay isn’t a good hitter, but he’s been especially bad this year. He came into the game 1-for-19 for the season with 11 strikeouts and 0-for-his-last-8 with six strikeouts.

Mayberry walked with two outs and stole second. He was nearly picked off of second base by Hudson, but Gonzalez dropped the ball as he tried to apply the tag and Mayberry was safe. Orr walked, putting men on first and second for Ruiz, but Ruiz grounded to short to turn the Phils away.

Mayberry got pretty lucky not to be picked off.

The Phils trailed 1-0 when they hit in the fifth. Halladay, Rollins and Martinez went in order.

Polanco walked to start the sixth. Howard flew to center behind him for the first out and Ibanez popped to short for the second. That brought Mayberry to the plate and he hit a 2-0 pitch out to left, putting the Phils up 2-1. Orr followed with a single to right and stole second. Ruiz was walked intentionally to put two on base for Halladay. Halladay lined to second to leave both men stranded.

Rollins, Martinez and Polanco went in order in the seventh.

Lefty Jonny Venters set Howard, Ibanez and Mayberry down in order in the eighth.

Francisco hit for Orr to start the ninth and the righty Craig Kimbrel took over for Venters on the mound. Francisco drew a walk before Ruiz flew to Jason Heyward in right for the first out. Gload hit for Halladay and struck out missing an 0-2 slider by a whole lot for the second out. Rollins got behind and a 1-2 pitch in the dirt got away from McCann, allowing Francisco to move up to second. Rollins flew to left 2-2 to end the game.

Nice job by Francisco to get on base against the righty to start the inning, but the Phils can’t do anything with Kimbrel after that.

Rollins was 0-for-5 in the game and 2-for-14 with two doubles in the series. 270/352/365 for the year.

Martinez was 1-for-4 in the game and 2-for-5 in the series. 5-for-25 with five singles on the year. Victorino was 2-for-8 in the series and is hitting 284/343/503 for the season.

Polanco 0-for-3 with a walk yesterday and 2-for-10 with two singles and two walks in the series. 340/386/438 for the year and 220/263/260 in May.

Howard was 0-for-4 with a strikeout in the game. 2-for-12 with a double and a home run in the game. 260/329/513 for the year. 185/267/389 with 19 strikeouts over his last 60 plate appearances.

Ibanez was 0-for-4 yesterday and 2-for-10 with two singles, a walk and an RBI in the series. 230/288/348 for the year.

Mayberry 1-for-2 with two walks and a two-run homer, which was the only extra-base hit in yesterday’s game for the Phils. 1-for-4 in the series. 295/415/500 for the year. Francisco walked in his only plate appearance yesterday and was 1-for-8 with a walk in the set to drop his line on the year to 222/336/357. He’s 3-for-32 (.091) with three singles and eight walks in May. His numbers for the year are bad all over, but he’s hitting 206/289/265 (7-for-32 with two walks and two doubles) against lefties for the season.

Orr was 1-for-2 with a walk. 1-for-5 with a walk in the series. 259/333/315 in 54 at-bats for the year. Valdez didn’t play yesterday but was 1-for-4 with a double in the series. He’s hitting 239/272/295 on the year.

Ruiz 1-for-3 with a walk yesterday. 1-for-6 with two walks in the series in his first action since returning from the DL. Both of the walks were intentional. He’s hitting 221/325/353 for the year. Sardinha started game two and went 0-for-2. He’s 3-for-15 on the year.

Cliff Lee (2-3, 3.78) faces righty Jake Westbrook (2-3, 6.92) tonight in St Louis. Westbrook hasn’t allowed a ton of home runs this year, just three in 39 innings, but way too many hits (51) and too many walks (20). He had put together three nice starts in a row, but got blasted his last time out, allowing five runs in 2 1/3 innings against the Cubs. Lee has allowed three runs or less in six of his eight starts and struck out 64 in 52 1/3 innings.

This says that Contreras could begin a rehab assignment by the middle of the week and that Lidge thinks he might be able to join the pen by the end of June.

Utley was 0-for-4 with Clearwater on Sunday and is 4-for-14 with a double and a home run with them so far.


Phils put a double-play whammy on Fish in Blanton’s return to the rotation

The Phils turned four double-plays in the first five innings last night in support of Joe Blanton’s return to the rotation. With the help of a nice game offensively and some weak defense from the Marlins, the Phils topped Florida 6-4 in the opener of a three-game set.

The top six hitters in the Phillies order combined for ten hits in the game. Ross Gload made his second start of the year in the outfield with a slumping Francisco on the bench and went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI.

Blanton was credited with the win, but it wasn’t just the defense that helped him out. Worley gave the Phils three solid innings in relief and Madson nailed down his fourth save in a quiet ninth.

The Phillies are 23-11 on the year after beating the Florida Marlins 6-4 last night.

Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out two and has a 5.83 ERA after five starts this season.

He started the bottom of the first with a 1-0 lead. Chris Coghlan led off with a single and moved to second when Emilio Bonifacio grounded out on a ball hit out in front of the plate that Blanton handled and went to first on. Hanley Ramirez moved Coghlan to third with a single before Gaby Sanchez cleared the bases with a double, putting Florida up 2-1. Blanton walked Mike Stanton behind Sanchez, but got Greg Dobbs to hit into a double-play, with Howard fielding, throwing to second and Blanton taking the throw from Rollins at first, to end the inning.

Blanton struck John Buck out swinging to start the second before Omar Infante singled to left. Pitcher Javier Vazquez bunted Infante to second with the second out before Coghlan singled into left, scoring Infante to make it 3-1. Coghlan stole second before Bonifacio lined to center to leave him there.

He started the third with a 4-3 lead. Ramirez led off with a single, but Sanchez hit into a double-play behind him. Stanton singled to left before Dobbs flew to Victorino for the third out.

Buck started the fourth with a walk and Infante hit into a double-play behind him. Vazquez grounded to third for the third out.

Third double-play turned by the Phillies in three innings.

Coghlan reached on an infield single to start the fifth with the Phils up 6-3. Blanton struck out Bonifacio for the first out and got Ramirez to hit into a double-play behind him.

Worley started the sixth. Sanchez led off with a single to right and moved to second when Stanton grounded to Polanco for the first out. Dobbs hit a ball that Worley handled Sanchez was hung up, Worley threw to Rollins and Rollins threw to Polanco who tagged Sanchez out for the second out. Worley walked Buck in a nine-pitch at-bat, putting men on first and second for Infante. Infante flew to left to end the inning.

Worley walked Coghlan with one out in the seventh, but got the next two hitters behind him.

Worley got ahead of Sanchez to start the eighth, but Sanchez hit an 0-2 pitch out to left to cut the Phillie lead to 6-4. Worley struck out Stanton behind him, got Dobbs to pop to Valdez and struck out Buck looking for the third out.

Madson started the ninth with a two-run lead. Lefty Scott Cousins hit for the pitcher Randy Choate and reached on an infield single. Bryan Petersen followed with a ground ball to short. Cousins was forced at second for the first out with Petersen safe at first. Madson struck Coghlan out swinging 2-2 for the second out and got Bonifacio on a ground ball to second to end the game and earn his fourth save.

Four innings for the pen in which they allow one run on three hits and two walks. Worley threw 61 pitches (Blanton only threw 66), so don’t look for him anytime soon. Madson threw 13.

The Phillies lineup against righty Javier Vazquez went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Polanco (4) Howard (5) Ibanez (6) Gload (7) Orr (8) Schneider. The lefty Gload in right with Francisco, 1-for-his-last-20, on the bench. Ibanez hits fifth. The lefties Orr and Schneider in the lineup with righties Valdez and Sardinha on the bench.

Rollins led off the game and homered to center on a 3-1 pitch, putting the Phils up 1-0. Victorino and Polanco went down behind him before Howard doubled to right. Ibanez was next and lined a single into left, but Howard tried to score and was thrown out at home plate by a wide margin to set the Phils down.

Not a close play at the plate as the ball arrived well before Howard, who was tagged standing up.

Down 2-1, the Phils went in order in the second.

Blanton and Rollins singled back-to-back to start the third, putting men on first and second for Victorino. Victorino flew to center before Polanco singled to load the bases. Howard lined a single to right, moving everyone up a base and scoring Blanton to cut the lead to 3-2. Ibanez popped near the catcher on the infield fly rule for the second out. Gload was next and he singled between second and third. Rollins scored easily to put tie the game at 3-3 and Polanco held up about half way between third and home. Bonifacio in left threw the ball home and way over the head of the catcher Buck. Polanco took off for home, the ball bounced back to Buck and he tossed to Vazquez covering home plate. Polanco would have been out, but Vazquez dropped the ball, Polanco was safe and the Phils led 4-3. Orr grounded to second to leave the runners stranded.

Two misplays allow Polanco to score — first the throw goes over Buck’s head and than Vazquez drops the ball. Gload’s single should have been a routine ground ball to second, but Ramirez was playing close to second base on a weird shift. Rollins again is in the middle of the scoring for the Phils.

The Phils went in order in the fourth.

Victorino led off the fifth with a triple and came in to score when Polanco followed and flew to center, extending the lead to 5-3. Howard followed that with a walk and moved to third on a single by Ibanez. Gload was next and he singled to left, scoring Howard (6-3) and moving Ibanez to second. Orr struck out swinging for the second out and Schneider grounded to second.

The Phils went in order in the sixth. Martinez hit for Blanton and flew to center for the first out of the inning.

Polanco, Howard and Ibanez went in order in the seventh.

Mayberry, who had taken over for Gload in right in the bottom of the seventh, led off the eighth with a single to center. Orr struck out swinging for the first out before Mayberry stole second. He took third on a ground out to first by Schneider, but was left there when Worley hit for himself and struck out swinging.

Worley hits for himself with two outs, a man on third and the Phils up 6-3. He had thrown 49 pitches in the game.

Victorino walked with one out in the ninth and the Phils up 6-4. Polanco flew to right for the second out on a ball that Stanton caught, then mishandled for an error that allowed Victorino to take third. Lefty Randy Choate took over for righty Brian Sanches and Choate struck out Howard to leave Mayberry at third.

Rollins was 2-for-5 with his second home run of the year.

Victorino 1-for-4 with a walk and a triple. He’s on pace to hit 20 triples.

Polanco was 1-for-4 with an RBI. He has hit 250/270/281 in 32 at-bats in May so far.

Howard was 2-for-4 with a walk, a double and an RBI. He’s 4-for-his-last-11 with a double and a home run.

Ibanez was 2-for-4 with two singles to raise his average on the year to .222.

Gload was 2-for-3 with two RBI. He’s hitting 364/364/364 on the year — 8-for-22 with eight singles and no walks.

Orr was 0-for-4, struck out twice and left five men on base.

Schneider was 0-for-4 and left three men on base. He’s hitting .160 after 50 at-bats for the year.

Halladay (5-1, 2.19) faces righty Josh Johnson (3-1, 1.68) tonight. Johnson has allowed 26 hits in 48 1/3 innings on the season so far this year. He’s allowed more than one earned run in just two of his seven starts. He’s coming off his only bad outing of the year — he allowed five runs in 7 1/3 innings against the Cardinals in his most recent start. Halladay has only had one start on the season in which he allowed more than two runs, earned or unearned. He’s allowed four runs in 24 2/3 innings over his last three starts, throwing to a 1.46 ERA and an 0.81 ratio while striking out 32.

This suggests that Oswalt could rejoin the rotation on May 17.

The linked article also says that the off-day this Thursday will allow the Phils to skip their fifth starter on Friday and that Utley went 1-for-7 in extended spring training action on Monday.


Middle in absentia

The Phils managed to win one of three against the Braves this weekend, which was something of a remarkable feat given that they scored just five runs in the three games. The resurgent Ibanez went back into hiding, going 2-for-10 with a pair of singles in the three-game set. Howard, Francisco and Ibanez combined to go 4-for-29 in the series in the middle of the order for the Phils.

Cliff Lee struck out 16 in the first game, but the Phils lost 5-0 because Derek Lowe was even better. Lowe took a no-hitter into the seventh, where the Phils managed their only hits of the game, a single by Victorino and a double by Polanco. That put men on second and third for the Phils with nobody out, but Howard, Francisco and Ibanez all struck out in a row to keep the Phils off the board and down 3-0. Baez allowed a pair of runs in the top of the ninth as Atlanta extended their lead to 5-0.

Kendrick made his first start of the year in game two of the series and pitched well, going five shutout innings as the Phils won 3-0. Kendrick was backed up by four scoreless innings for the pen and Howard connected for a long home run in the fourth inning.

Hamels allowed three runs on a pair of home runs through seven innings last night before a pinch-hit home run by Eric Hinske off of Stutes extended the Atlanta lead to 5-1 in the eighth. Stutes and Mathieson were miserable in the game — they combined to allow two runs on three hits and four walks. The whole thing could have been a whole lot worse, but Baez bailed Mathieson out by getting a big double-play to end the eighth. The Phils managed a run in the bottom of the eighth, but lost the game 5-2.

The Phillies are 22-11 on the year after losing two of three to the Atlanta Braves this weekend.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk. Two of the five hits he allowed went for extra-bases, both home runs. He struck out nine. All three of the runs he allowed in the game came on home runs — after not allowing a home run in his first four starts of the year, he has allowed four in his last four starts.

Martin Prado led off the game with a single to right, but Sardinha threw him out trying to steal second as Jason Heyward struck out swinging to clear the bases. Chipper Jones grounded to third for the third out.

Hamels struck out Brian McCann for the first out of the second and got Dan Uggla on a ball hit to Victorino for the second. Freddie Freeman singled to right and then Alex Gonzalez hit a 2-1 pitch out to left to put Atlanta on top 2-0. Hamels struck Nate McLouth out for the third out.

He struck out pitcher Jair Jurrjens to start the third and got Prado and Heyward on ground balls behind him.

The lead was cut to 2-1 when he set the Braves down in order in the fourth, striking out Chipper and McCann before getting Uggla to pop to Rollins.

Hamels had thrown 53 pitches and struck out six through four innings.

Freeman led off the fifth with a home run to right that put Atlanta up 3-1. Hamels got Gonzalez on a ground out before McLouth reached on an infield single. Jurrjens tried to bunt him to second, but Hamels fielded the bunt and threw to second to start the double-play that set Atlanta down.

Hamels walked Prado to start the sixth, but struck out Heyward and Chipper behind him. McCann popped to Rollins for the third out.

He set Atlanta down in order in the seventh, striking out Uggla for the first out.

Stutes started the eighth and walked McLouth to start the inning. Lefty Eric Hinske hit for the pitcher Eric O’Flaherty and hit a 2-0 pitch out to right, putting Atlanta on top 5-1. Stutes got Prado for the first out, but then walked Heyward. Righty Scott Mathieson, called up when Oswalt hit the DL, came on to pitch to Chipper. Chipper hit a ground ball to third with Heyward forced at second for the second out. McCann moved Jones to second with a single, but Mathieson got Uggla to ground to third to end the frame.

Mathieson was back to start the ninth with the Phils down 5-2. Freeman led off with a single to left and Diory Hernandez bunted him to second with the first out. Mathieson walked McLouth behind him and switch-hitter Brooks Conrad hit for the pitcher Jonny Venters. Mathieson walked him, too, and the bases were loaded. Baez took over for Mathieson and got Prado to hit into a double-play to turn Atlanta away.

Mathieson was terrible in the game and not charged with a run. He allowed two hits and two walks in an inning and was bailed out when Baez induced the double-play. Mathieson threw 24 pitches in the game, Stutes 15 and Baez six.

The Phillies lineup against righty Jair Jurrjens went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Polanco (4) Howard (5) Francisco (6) Ibanez (7) Valdez (8) Sardinha. Valdez starts at second with the lefty Orr on the bench. Sardinha catches with the lefty Schneider on the bench.

Victorino doubled with one out in the first. Polanco was next and flew to center for the second out with Victorino tagging and moving up to third. Howard grounded to first to leave Victorino at third.

Down 2-0, Valdez doubled to left with two outs in the second, but Sardinha grounded to short behind him.

Rollins singled to right with one out in the third and moved to second when Victorino grounded out behind him. Polanco delivered a two-out hit, singling into center. Rollins scored to cut the lead to 2-1. Howard followed with a walk, but Francisco flew to center to leave both runners stranded.

With two outs in the fourth, Sardinha hit a ball well to left that landed on the track and hit the wall on a hop. Prado played it well to hold Sardinha to a long single. Hamels struck out on three pitches to leave him at first.

Two-out hit by Sardinha keeps Hamels from leading off the fifth. Jurrjens was at 61 pitches through four innings.

Down 3-1, the Phils went in order in the fifth.

Howard started the sixth with a single and Francisco bunted him to second. Ibanez lined a single into center, which moved Howard to third. Valdez hit into a double-play to end the inning.

The sacrifice by Francisco not enough for Howard to score from second on a single after it works.

Schneider hit for Sardinha to start the seventh and flew to right. Orr hit for Hamels and singled to left, but Eric O’Flaherty got Rollins to hit into a double-play behind Orr to end the inning.

The Phils were down 5-1 when they hit in the eighth. Victorino led off with a triple and came into score when Polanco followed with a single that was deflected by the pitcher Venters. 5-2 with nobody out and Polanco on first. Howard grounded to Uggla with Polanco forced at second for the first out. Francisco flew to center for the second before Ibanez moved Howard to second with a single. It brought Valdez to the plate as the tying run and with the lefty Venters on the mound, Mayberry hit for Valdez. Mayberry flew to center to leave the runners stranded.

Gload hit for Baez and singled with one out in the ninth. Rollins moved him to second with a walk, which brought Victorino to the plate as the tying run. Victorino struck out looking 1-2 for the second out. Polanco flew to center to end the game.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a walk in the game and 2-for-10 with three walks in the series. He’s hitting 285/380/362 on the season. 333/455/444 on the year.

Victorino was 2-for-5 with a double and a triple yesterday. 4-for-13 with a double and two triples in the series. He has three walks in his last 66 plate appearances, but is hitting 293/356/511 for the year. His .511 slugging percentage leads the team.

Polanco was 2-for-5 with two RBI last night. 3-for-11 with a walk, a double and two RBI in the series. 366/411/473.

Howard was 1-for-3 with a walk in the game and 2-for-11 with a walk and a home run in the set. 5-for-his-last-31 with a home run, four singles, four walks and ten strikeouts. 268/338/504 for the season.

Francisco went 0-for-3 to drop his average on the year to .232. 0-for-8 with two walks in the series. 1-for-his-last-20 with seven walks. 232/341/384.

Ibanez was 2-for-4 last night and 2-for-10 with three strikeouts in the series. 212/276/336. Mayberry was 0-for-1 last night and 0-for-2 in the set.

Valdez was 1-for-3 with a double and hit into a double-play last night. 1-for-5 with a double in the series. 159/196/182 in his last 47 plate appearances. 247/282/296 for the year.

Orr was 1-for-1 last night, 1-for-5 with an RBI in the series and hitting 268/333/293 on the year.

Sardinha was 1-for-2 in the game and in the series. He’s 2-for-9 with the Phillies. Schneider 0-for-2 in the game and 1-for-8 in the series. He’s hitting 174/224/326 in 41 plate appearances for the season.

Joe Blanton (0-1, 5.92) faces righty Javier Vazquez (2-2, 6.39) tonight. Vazquez has allowed ten runs in 11 2/3 innings over his last two starts and hasn’t gotten an out in the seventh inning in six starts this year. He faced the Phils on April 15 and allowed three runs in five innings. Blanton allowed four runs in 14 innings in his two starts before hitting the DL.


For openers

For most of the game, opening day looked like it was going to be about what the Phillies used to be. Used to be able to score. Used to be Chase Utley. Used to be Brett Myers. Used to be Michael Bourn.

Then, all of the sudden, the Phils made sure it wasn’t about anything except what they are right now. Down 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth, the offense that had been painfully silent all day roared to life. They pounded out six hits in the inning to plate three runs, winning 5-4 when pinch-hitter John Mayberry drove a ball over the Houston center fielder’s head with one out, the bases loaded and the score tied.

The rally will do a world of good for fans who worry the Phils are a team with great starting pitching, but big questions in the lineup, bullpen and on their bench. Cause even if they looked like exactly that for most of the opener, they looked like something better before it was over.

The Phillies are 1-0 on the year after beating the Houston Astros 5-4 this afternoon.

Halladay got the start for the Phils and went six innings, allowing a run on five hits. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out six.

He threw a 1-2-3 first, getting Michael Bourn on a fly ball to center, striking Angel Sanchez out looking and Hunter Pence swinging.

Halladay struck Carlos Lee out swinging 1-2 for the first out in the second. Bill Hall hit an 0-1 pitch towards short, but Rollins took it moving to his left and threw to first for the second out. Chris Johnson struck out swinging 1-2 to set Houston down.

Four strikeouts for Halladay through two innings. He had thrown 25 pitches.

Brett Wallace chopped a ball between short and third that Polanco handled for the first out of the third. Humberto Quintero was next and got ahead 3-0, but Halladay came back and struck him out swinging for the second out. Pitcher Brett Myers was next and delivered a solid single up the middle for the first base runner of the game for Houston. Bourn followed and hit a ball hard, but Howard snared it at first for the third out.

There goes the no-no. Halladay was up to 42 pitches after three frames.

Sanchez started the second and bounced a ball back up the middle and over second base for a single. Sanchez was running with the pitch as Pence grounded to short. Rollins took it, thought about going to second, but threw to first for the first out. Lee was next with one down and a man on first and flew to center for the second out with Sanchez holding second. Hall hit a ball well to left, but Ibanez tracked it down near the wall after a long run to keep Houston off the board.

Sanchez running keeps the Astros out of the double-play. Nice play by Ibanez to end the inning with a man in scoring position.

Halladay struck out Johnson again to start the fifth. Wallace popped to Valdez at second for the second out. Quintero was next and hit a ball to right that Francisco should have handled, but muffed for a two-base error. Myers was next and singled again, this time to right with Quintero moving to third. Bourn flew to right to leave both runners stranded.

Three hits in the game for Houston, two of which came from the pitcher Myers. You want to avoid the two-base error in scoreless games whenever you can.

Sanchez started the sixth and hit a ball off of Halladay that went to Valdez. Valdez just missed it and Sanchez was safe at first with an infield single. Pence was next and doubled off the wall in right. Sanchez was going to try to score, but the Phils got a strong relay from Valdez and Sanchez held third. Halladay got Lee to pop to second for the first out and Hall came to the plate with one out and men on second and third. Halladay got ahead of Hall 0-2, but Hall grounded a 1-2 pitch to second for the second out with Sanchez scoring from third to put Houston up 1-0 and Pence moving to third. Johnson flew to left for the third out.

Nice throw by Valdez on the Pence double, but the run winds up scoring anyway. The Phils could have kept the run off the board if they had made the play on the ball that Sanchez hit. Halladay had thrown 101 pitches through six innings and wouldn’t return for the seventh after Pete Orr hit for him in the bottom of the sixth.

Romero started the seventh with the Phils still down a run. The lefty Wallace led off with a single to right and that was it for Romero. Manuel brought righty Herndon to pitch to the righty Quintero. Quintero lined a ball that dropped in front of Francisco in right. Wallace didn’t know what it was going to do and Francisco nearly threw him out at second. But not quite. Myers, 2-for-2 on the day and having thrown just 58 pitches through six innings, hit for himself and bunted to first. Howard might have had the lead runner, but double-clutched and had to take the out at first. It brought the lefty Bourn to the play with one outs and men on second and third. Bourn smoked a ball into the gap in right-center that took a hop and hit the wall for a bases-clearing triple. 3-0 Houston. Sanchez hit a ball to right that Francisco took for the second out. Bourn tagged and Francisco made a strong throw, but Bourn was safe to put Houston up 4-0. Ruiz didn’t handle the ball cleanly, but it wouldn’t have mattered. Pence popped to first to set Houston down.

Herndon gets a chance against the lefty Bourn and Bourn changes the game with a triple that leads to three Houston runs.

Madson started the eighth with Houston’s lead cut to 4-2. He set the Astros down in order, getting Lee on a ground ball to short and striking out Hall and Johnson.

Baez started the ninth and got Wallace on a fly ball to left for the first out. Quintero grounded to second for the second. Jason Bourgeois hit a ball back up the middle that Rollins took near the bag at second. Bourgeois beat Rollins’s throw to first on a close play for an infield single. Bourgeois stole second easily as the count went 2-0 on the lefty Bourn. The righty Baez walked the lefty Bourn intentionally, bringing the righty Sanchez to the plate. Sanchez grounded to the mound to leave both men stranded.

Nice day for Madson and a pretty good day for Baez after Herndon gives up the huge triple to the lefty Bourn. The Phils didn’t use their second lefty in the pen, Bastardo, in the game. Romero faced one lefty and gave up a hit. Overall the pen went three innings on the day and allowed three runs on four hits and walk.

Baez threw 20 pitches in the game. Herndon 14, Madson 12, Romero three.

The Phillies lineup against righty Brett Myers went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Rollins (4) Howard (5) Ibanez (6) Francisco (7) Ruiz (8) Valdez. Rollins had a great day, but hasn’t done anything in a long time that justifies hitting him third for a team that’s trying to win the World Series. Ruiz hits ahead of Valdez. I expect that the Phillies will try to break up Howard and Ibanez with Francisco at some point, but apparently not against a righty on opening day.

Victorino led off the bottom of the first for the Phils and flew to the warning track in right on an 0-1 pitch for the first out. Polanco got ahead 2-0 before he grounded to second for the second out. Rollins swung at the first pitch he saw and grounded to second as well.

Howard led off the second with a single into left. Ibanez was next and hit a ball hard to second and into a double-play. Francisco popped up a 1-1 pitch and Hall took it near the right field foul line to end the inning.

Ruiz started the third and bounced to third for the first out. Valdez was next and hit a ball down the line that landed in the left field corner for a double. Halladay hit a ball up the middle. Sanchez knocked it down and threw to first, just getting Halladay on a close call with Valdez taking third. Halladay was probably safe. Victorino got ahead 2-1, but flew to Bourn in center on a 3-1 pitch to end the inning.

Nice hustle by Valdez on the ball he hit to get two bases. Good no bunt by the Phils with Halladay, who should have been called safe at first, which would have changed the inning.

Polanco flew to right to start the fourth. Rollins was next and Johnson made a nice play at third, moving to his left to field his grounder and throwing to first for the second out. Howard swung at the first pitch and grounded to first for the third out.

Myers had thrown just 36 pitches through four innings, compared to 57 for Halladay. Myers hadn’t struck anyone out, while Halladay had five.

The Phils went in order in the fifth, with Ibanez grounding to second, Francisco lining hard to third and Ruiz flying to center.

Valdez led off the sixth with the Phils trailing 1-0 and flew to left. The lefty Orr hit for Halladay and hit a hard line drive that was taken by Wallace at first for the second out. Victorino drew a walk on a close 3-1 pitch, bringing Polanco to the plate with two down and a man on first. Victorino was running on the 1-0 pitch to Polanco and Quintero threw him out from his knees to end the inning.

Really strong and accurate throw by Quintero to get Victorino. Glad to see Victorino running.

The Phils trailed 4-0 when they hit in the seventh. Polanco led off with a walk on a high 3-1 pitch. Rollins followed that with a single into right that moved Polanco to second. Howard got behind 0-2 and Myers delivered a 1-2 pitch that was way outside and off the glove of Quintero, allowing Polanco and Rollins to move to second and third. Quintero was charged with a passed ball. Howard drove a 2-2 pitch into left-center that Bourn took on the warning track for the first out. Polanco scored (4-1) and Rollins took third with one out. Ibanez delivered a ground ball to first that allowed Rollins to score, cutting the lead to 4-2. Francisco fouled off a 2-0 pitch that Wallace should have handled but didn’t, giving Francisco another chance. Francisco walked on a high 3-2 pitch. Ruiz flew to center to end the inning.

Phils finally get through against Myers, who threw 27 pitches in the inning but was still at just 85 for the game.

Righty Wilton Lopez started the eighth for the Astros. Valdez led off and grounded to second. Gload hit for Madson and singled into left. Victorino got behind 0-2 and hit a slower roller to second on a 1-2 pitch. Hall had no chance for two and took the out at second. It brought Polanco to the plate with two outs and Victorino on first. Polanco hit a ball down the line that Bourgeois, who had taken over for Lee in left, took for the third out.

Nice decision by Manual to use Gload against the righty in the eighth. He surely didn’t want to, as Gload is his best hitter on the bench and didn’t have a chance to tie the game. But it didn’t look at the time like there was going to be anyone else to hit for the rest of the game.

Righty Brandon Lyon started the ninth for Houston and gave up a broken-bat single to right to the leadoff man Rollins. Howard came to the plate as the tying run and singled up the middle on a 3-2 pitch, moving Rollins to second. Ibanez popped a 1-2 pitch up in the infield, which Hall took for the first out. It brought Francisco to the plate and Rollins stole third as the count went 2-1 on Francisco with Howard holding first. Francisco singled into center, scoring Rollins to make it 4-3 and moving Howard to second with Ruiz at the plate. Ruiz drove an 0-1 pitch to left and off the wall but foul and then lined a single into left that loaded the bases for Valdez with one out. Valdez singled to left on the first pitch of his at-bats, moving everyone up a base and tying the game at 4-4. The righty Mayberry hit for Baez with a righty on the mound and drove a 2-2 pitch over the head of Bourn, scoring Francisco to give the Phils a 5-4 win.

That’s quite a rally with Rollins, Francisco, Valdez and Mayberry all pitching in.

Would have been a really atrocious time for Rollins to get caught going for third. Manuel calls on Mayberry and not the lefty Schneider to hit against the righty Lyons with one out and the bases loaded. Worked out pretty well.

Victorino was 0-for-3 with a walk and a caught stealing.

Polanco 0-for-3 with a walk.

Rollins 2-for-4 with two singles and a stolen base.

Howard 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Ibanez 0-for-4 with an RBI.

Francisco 1-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and a two-base error in right.

Ruiz 1-for-4, but picked a real good time for his hit.

Valdez 2-for-4 with a double and a huge hit and an RBI in the ninth. He had the only extra-base hit of the game for the Phils.

Mayberry was 1-for-1 with a single that won the game.

Cliff Lee faces lefty Wandy Rodriguez Saturday night.

The next update to Philliesflow won’t be until next week. Monday probably.


All about the Benjamin

Ben Francisco put an exclamation point on his fantastic spring training yesterday, hitting a three-run homer as the Phils topped the Astros 7-6 to end their Grapefruit League schedule. Francisco came into camp looking to show he could be the everyday guy in right field for the Phils this season and pounded the ball, posting a 385/467/677 line over 65 at-bats. His 1.144 OPS was the best among Phillies that got at least 10 plate appearances.

Ben Francisco’s full name is Louis Ben Francisco. So, when you get right down to it, it’s really not all about the Benjamin (unless it’s all about someone else).

Nate Bump got the start for the Phillies in the game and allowed a run on eight hits and a walk over five innings. Baez walked one in a scoreless sixth and Contreras got one out in the seventh before Derrick Loop (really!) took over for him. Loop, Michael Sisco and Ebelin Lugo finished out the game for the Phils. They combined to allow five runs in 2 2/3 innings, with Lugo and Loop both charged with runs and Cisco throwing a scoreless frame.

Contreras threw just one pitch in the game because the mound was wet due to heavy rain.

Victorino 2-for-3 and drove in a pair of runs.

Castillo was 1-for-2 with a double and a walk. 4-for-19 (.211) with four walks with the Phils, Martinez 0-for-1. Young 0-for-1. Mayberry 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Gload was the DH in his continuing effort to demonstrate he’s not a right fielder.

The Phils went 20-13 in official spring games and will play the Pirates tonight and Wednesday in Citizens Bank Park. Oswalt is expected to start. Hamels will start on Wednesday with Blanton likely to throw a few innings in relief.

Utley says his goal is to be back by the All-Star break. Amaro says he won’t go on the 60-day DL.

The article linked above says that Michael Stutes will be with the team for the two games with the Pirates, but isn’t likely to start the year with the Phils.

This says the Phillies have signed Kevin Frandsen to a minor league deal. The righty Frandsen has played every position in the majors except catcher and center field, posting a 243/302/335 career line over 626 plate appearances. He turns 29 in May.


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