Maybe the Phillies have a bitter taste left in their mouth from getting swept out of the playoffs last season by the Rockies and maybe they don’t. Either way, they came to Colorado to play and twice in two games went hard all nine innings and twice got a dramatic win. On Monday they scored five runs in the last two innings after starting the eighth down 5-4. Last night they started the eighth down 6-4, added a run in the top of the eighth and got three more in the top of the ninth on a three-run double from Pat Burrell.
The bats of Burrell, Utley and suddenly Werth are carrying the Phils these days as the muddle by without Rollins or Victorino at the top of the order. They have won three in a row for the first time this season. Feliz added three hits yesterday, if the Phils could get his bat going it would be a huge help. But even with the torrid pace of Utley and Burrell, none of it would be possible without the contribution of the bullpen, who gave the Phils six shutout innings in the two-game sweep of the Rockies.
Charlie Manuel’s contribution can’t be ignored either. In addition to keeping his team playing at a high level through a ton of early adversity, Manuel rolled the dice and came up lucky last night. In the eighth inning he used the lefties on his bench to try to break through with a righty on the mound, pinch-hitting for his starting catcher and his starting shortstop in a close game. Not especially noteworthy except for the fact that he doesn’t have a backup shortstop. And it worked.
The Phillies beat the Colorado Rockies last night, winning 8-6 to improve to 11-10 on the season. The Phils sweep the two-game set and have won three in a row. They are finally above .500 for the first time on the season.
Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing six runs on 11 hits and two walks. Six of the hits went for extra-bases, three doubles, a triple and a home run. His ERA is at 4.78 after five starts.
Clint Barmes singled with one out in the first, but Myers got Todd Helton and Matt Holliday to ground out behind him to end the inning. Utley made another good defensive play on the ball that Helton hit, diving to his right to snare the hard hit ground ball.
Garrett Atkins started the second with a single. Brad Hawpe flew to left for the first out before Jeff Baker hit a ground ball to short. Atkins was forced at second for the second out with Baker safe at first. Yorvit Torrealba moved Baker to second with a single before the pitcher Jeff Francis grounded to second for the third out.
Myers started the third up 2-0 and got the first two before Helton came to the plate. Helton smashed his first pitch into right-center for a double. Holliday followed and hit a ball that landed on the warning track in right for another double. Helton scored to cut the lead to 2-1. Atkins flew to center for the third out.
Hawpe led off the fourth with the Phils up 3-1 and lined a ball into left. Burrell dove for it and missed. He was in the right place to dive and almost made the catch, but mistimed the dive. Hawpe had a triple. I don’t think Burrell made a bad decision to dive, but the execution of the dive left some room for improvement. Baker was next and singled up the middle. Utley knocked it down before it got to the outfield, but Hawpe scored easily to make the score 3-2. Torrealba struck out looking for the first out before Francis bunted Baker to second. Willy Tavares split the gap with a drive to left-center and Baker scored easily to tie the game at 3-3. With two outs Baker probably would have scored from first without the bunt. Barmes flew to right for the third out.
Holliday homered to center with one out in the fifth to put Colorado up 4-3. Myers got Atkins on a popup to second for the second out before he walked the lefty Hawpe on four pitches. The righty Baker behind him moved Hawpe to second with a single. Torrealba popped up near the mound to end the inning.
Myers threw a 1-2-3 sixth.
With the game tied at 4-4 in the seventh, Myers got the leadoff man before Holliday drew a one out walk. Atkins followed with a home run to left that put Colorado up 6-4. Hawpe and Tulowitski went down behind Atkins to end the inning. Utley, whose defense is suddenly sparkling after a miserable start to the year, snared a hard hit line drive by Hawpe for the second out.
Ryan Madson started the eighth with the Phils trailing 6-5 and Pedro Feliz playing shortstop. Torrealba led off the inning with a single, but Coste, who had just entered after pinch-hitting for Myers in the top of the inning, threw him out on a close play. Scott Podsednik hit for the pitcher and flew to left for the second out. Taveras grounded to second to end the inning.
The Phils scored three times in the top of the ninth and Lidge came on in the bottom of the inning with an 8-6 lead. Lidge was pitching for the third day in a row after throwing on Monday in a non-save situation. If it was a problem for him the symptoms are hard to find. He struck out Barmes and Helton and got Holliday on a ground ball to second to end the game and keep his ERA at 0.00 for the season.
Two more shutout innings for the amazing pen. By contrast, the Rockies pen went two innings and allowed four runs on five hits and a walk. In the series the Phils’ pen went six shutout innings, allowing two singles and a walk. Phillies’ starters went 12 innings, allowing 11 earned runs on 19 hits and four walks. Lidge is almost certainly unavailable tonight after going three days in a row — if he’s not he should be. The appearance with a four-run lead in the first game against Colorado still wasn’t fantastic. Madson threw 17 pitches and I would guess he’s available tonight.
The Phillies’ lineup against lefty Jeff Francis went (1) Taguchi (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Feliz (7) Ruiz (8) Bruntlett. Taguchi in right against the lefty, Werth in center. Counting Myers in the nine spot, spots four through nine in the order the Phils come into the game with one player, Burrell, hitting above .212 on the season.
Werth singled with one out in the first, but Utley and Howard went down behind him.
The Phils went 1-2-3 in the second.
Bruntlett led off the third and lined a double down the line in left. Myers tried to bunt and fouled two off before grounding to short for the first out with Bruntlett holding. Taguchi flew to center and Bruntlett moved to third with two down. Werth walked, putting men on first and third for Utley. Utley hammered a double into left-center, scoring both runners and putting the Phils up 2-0. Howard struck out to end the frame. Nice to see Bruntlett get things going with the double after so many struggles at the plate. Myers almost hurt the Phils with the problems getting the bunt down, but Utley bailed him out.
Burrell walked to start the fourth and moved to second when Feliz dribbled a single up the middle and through. Ruiz hit a ground ball to short, which would have been a double-play but the umpire ruled that Baker did not touch the bag at second base. He didn’t, but they never do. Odd call. It put men on second and third with one out for Bruntlett. Bruntlett hit it hard, but right at Helton for the second out. Myers walked to load the bases. Taguchi was taking 2-2 and took a close pitch that was called a ball. Francis’ next pitch was way up and away and Taguchi had a walk, forcing in Burrell to put the Phils up 3-1. Werth grounded out to second for the third out. You can’t walk Myers there, that’s pretty bad. Nice to see Bruntlett hit the ball hard again, even though it was right at Helton.
Utley, Howard and Burrell went 1-2-3 in the fifth with the scored tied at 3-3.
Feliz started the sixth with a single with the Phils down 4-3. Ruiz fouled out to the catcher for the first out before Bruntlett hit a ground ball to third. Atkins threw to second to force Feliz for the first out, but Baker’s relay to first was way high and Bruntlett went to second on the error. Second time in two innings that Baker had trouble at second with a shoulda-been double-play. Myers hit for himself and struck out swinging to leave Bruntlett stranded at second.
With one out in the seventh, Werth hit a monster shot way out to left, tying the game at 4-4. Utley and Howard grounded out behind him.
The Phils found themselves down again in the eighth after two runs from the Rockies in the bottom of the seventh made the score 6-4. Feliz doubled with one out and, with the righty Matt Herges on the mound, Jenkins hit for Ruiz and struck out for the second out. Dobbs hit for Bruntlett and singled into right. Feliz scored and it was 6-5. Coste hit for Myers and grounded to third to end the frame.
Quite an inning for Manuel, who pulls his starting catcher and his starting shortstop to give the two lefties on his bench a chance against the righty. He takes Bruntlett out of the game and puts Feliz to shortstop in the bottom of the eighth in a one-run game. Wow. He would have been absolutely obliterated if Feliz had booted a ball in a close game in the eighth or ninth and the move didn’t work. It did. Dobbs got a clutch two-out hit and Feliz didn’t have to do much in the two innings he played short, his action primarily consisted of taking the throw from Coste to nail Torrealba stealing. I like the moves by Manuel even if they hadn’t worked, but whether you do or not you have to admit it was gutsy.
Feliz had played 23 games at shortstop over his career coming into last night’s game, including 14 starts there for the Giants in 2004.
Righty Manny Corpas came on to throw the ninth for Colorado with the Rockies up 6-5. Taguchi had to hit for himself after Manuel used the lefties on the bench in the eighth, and led off with a single. Werth struck out for the first out before Utley singled to center. Taguchi went to third and so did the throw from Tavares in center, which allowed Utley to go to second. The righty Corpas walked the lefty Howard, which is a no-brainer cause of lefty-righty and setting up the double-play, and it brought up Burrell with one out and the bases loaded. Burrell got behind 0-2 before he laced a 2-2 pitch into left-center, just out of the reach of a diving Tavares. It cleared the bases and put the Phils up 8-6 with one out. Burrell went to third on the throw home. Howard, who was right on the heels of Utley, slid in just safely. Feliz grounded back to the pitcher for the second out before Brad Harman made his major league debut, pinch-hitting for Ryan Madson. He got ahead 3-1 but popped up to Tulowitski at short to end the frame.
Harman did not play short in the bottom of the ninth — I think you have to interpret that as meaning that Manuel thinks Feliz is a better defensive shortstop than Harman. I don’t know if it means we’ll never see Harman at short or not — he was just about exclusively a second baseman in the minors in 2007 and so far in 2008.
Taguchi was 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI in the game. 1-for-8 in the two-game series. 241/267/310 on the season. Less lefties in Milwaukee is going to mean less Taguchi and more Jenkins in right for the Phils.
Werth was 2-for-4 with a walk and a long home run. 4-for-9 with a double and two home runs in the series. It’s going to be over-shadowed by what Utley and Burrell have been doing, but Werth surged to life against Colorado and the Phils really needed his bat. 300/407/540.
Utley was 2-for-5 with a double and two RBI. 4-for-9 with two doubles and a home run in the set. Preposterously, 357/429/810 on the year. His glove is suddenly back as well, after a weak start to the season.
Howard was 0-for-4 with a walk. 2-for-9 with two singles in the series. 190/316/367. He’s 3-for-his-last-22 with three singles and nine strikeouts. Utley, Burrell, Werth and the bullpen deserve tremendous credit that the Phils are keeping their heads above water with Rollins and Victorino out and Howard struggling so badly.
Burrell was 1-for-4 with a walk and a three-run double. 4-for-8 with a double and a home run in the series. 357/471/729 on the year.
Feliz 3-for-5 with a double. 3-for-9 with a double in the series. 232/303/406.
Ruiz was 0-for-3. 1-for-7 with a double in the set. 200/241/255 on the year. Coste was 0-for-1 and 0-for-1 with a hit by pitch in the series. 370/469/704. How much better defensively does the guy hitting 200/241/255 have to be than the guy hitting 370/469/704?
Bruntlett 1-for-3 with a double. 1-for-7 with a double in the series. 180/241/260.
Jenkins mostly sat this one out against the lefties. 0-for-1 with a strikeout yesterday and 1-for-3 in the series. 250/294/359.
Cole Hamels (2-2, 1.86) faces righty Dave Bush (0-3, 7.02) tonight in Milwaukee. Bush has made three starts this season and opponents are hitting .290 against him. None of his starts have been especially good. The best was him most recent. Last Tuesday he held the Cardinals to three runs over six innings. His control hasn’t been good this season, he’s walked ten in 16 2/3 innings. Lefties are hitting .385 against him so far, but he’s been much tougher on right-handed hitters, holding them to a .222 average. He faced the Phils twice in 2007, those starts came on May 14 and August 4. Hamels allowed more than one earned run in a start his last time out, he was charged with four runs against the Mets over seven innings on Friday. Opponents are hitting just .181 against him on the season and he’s allowed just one run in 29 innings. He made two starts against the Brewers last season, which came on May 16 and August 4. In the May 16 start he took a perfect game into the seventh inning before he walked Rickie Weeks and JJ Hardy followed with a two-run home run.
The Start Log has been modified to include the number of pitches by the starting pitcher, his high for the season, total pitches and average number of pitches per start.