Tag: Cardinals

And down the stretch they come

The Phillies still have forty games left to play, almost a quarter of the season, but it sure looks like they’re going to the playoffs again in 2009. A look at the standings shows there are eight teams in the National League within eight games of a spot in the playoffs. The Phils, Cardinals and Dodgers lead the three divisions. The Rockies would be the Wild Card team if the season ended today and Atlanta, Florida, Chicago and San Francisco are all less than eight games behind in the chase for the playoffs.

The table below shows what those eight teams did in the first half of the season. Their record, winning percentage, the number of runs they scored per game, the number of runs they allowed per game and the difference between the number of runs they scored per game and the number of runs they allowed per game.

Team W L PCT R/G RA/G RD/G
PHI 48 38 .558 5.35 4.79 0.56
ATL 43 45 .489 4.24 4.31 -0.07
FLA 46 44 .511 4.61 4.76 -0.14
             
STL 49 42 .538 4.43 4.12 0.31
CHI 43 43 .500 4.13 4.10 0.02
             
LAD 56 32 .636 5.03 3.84 1.19
COL 47 41 .534 5.02 4.60 0.42
SF 49 39 .557 4.18 3.68 0.50

The Dodgers were the best team in the NL in the first half of the season by a wide margin. Their pitching was almost as good as the Giants and their offense was better than any team except for the Phillies. They scored 1.19 runs more per game on average than they allowed. The Phillies were second-best in the NL in that differential and the Dodgers were more than twice as good as the Phillies.

Atlanta, Florida and Chicago all had weak first halves of the season compared to the rest of the group. The Giants had fantastic pitching, the best in the league, but a weak offense. The Cards were in the middle of the pack in both scoring and preventing runs while the Rockies put a lot of runs on the board but allowed more per game than any teams other than the Phils and Marlins. The Phils scored the most runs per game of the eight teams but also allowed the most.

Here’s what the eight teams have done since the All-Star break:

Team W L PCT R/G RA/G RD/G
PHI 24 12 .667 5.19 3.56 1.64
ATL 23 13 .639 5.28 3.44 1.83
FLA 19 15 .559 5.09 4.71 0.38
             
STL 23 12 .657 4.63 3.60 1.03
CHI 19 17 .528 4.94 4.47 0.47
             
LAD 18 19 .486 4.32 3.78 0.54
COL 24 13 .649 5.30 4.00 1.30
SF 18 19 .486 3.70 3.95 -0.24

The Cards, Phillies, Braves and Rockies have all been fantastic in the second half. Each of the four teams has played to a winning percentage of .639 or higher. Of the four teams, the Braves have a 23-13 record to give them the worst winning percentage of the group. By run differential per game, though, Atlanta has been the best of the eight teams since the break. They have been the best of the eight teams at preventing runs while only the Rockies have scored more. The Braves have played 36 games since the break and won 23, scoring 190 runs and allowing 124. Pythagoras has them expecting to have won more games — 25-11 rather than their actual 23-13.

While those four teams have taken off, the Dodgers and the Giants have tanked out West with each team under .500 in the second half. The Giants still can’t score runs, but their pitching is no longer outstanding compared to the rest of the group. After being the best team at preventing runs in the first half of the year, the Phils, Braves, Cards and Dodgers have all done a better job keeping teams from scoring in the second half.

The Dodgers were second-best of the eight in preventing runs in the first half, but have been passed by the Phils, Braves and Cards in the second. They have a monster offense in the first half of the year, scoring more runs per game than any team other than the Phillies. The hitting has been meager since the break and the 4.32 runs per game the Dodgers have scored is worse than every team in the group other than the Giants.

The Cubs are just two games over .500 for the year at 62-60. The Fish have played to a .559 winning percentage in the second half, but their ability to prevent runs was seventh-best in the first half of the year and last in the group in the second. Not sure they have enough offense to make up for that.

Here’s what the numbers for the eight teams look like when you combine the first and second halves of the year:

Team W L PCT R/G RA/G RD/G
PHI 72 50 .590 5.30 4.43 0.88
ATL 66 58 .532 4.54 4.06 0.48
FLA 65 59 .524 4.74 4.74 0.00
             
STL 72 54 .571 4.48 3.98 0.51
CHI 62 60 .508 4.37 4.21 0.16
             
LAD 74 51 .592 4.82 3.82 1.00
COL 71 54 .568 5.10 4.42 0.68
SF 67 58 .536 4.04 3.76 0.28

It’s hard to argue that anyone but the Dodgers have been the best team in the NL this season. Despite their struggles since the break, LA has the best winning percentage on the season and the best differential per game in the number of runs they’ve scored and allowed. The Phils are aren’t far behind, though.

So who’s going to the playoffs in the NL this season? We’re going to have to wait and see. If I had to guess, though, the guess that things will stay the same seems like the best by a wide margin — the Phils, Cards and Dodgers win the divisions with the Rockies as the Wild Card team. I’m going to be real surprised if the Fish, Cubs or Giants make the playoffs. Neither are likely, but I think the other two scenarios that are more possible are 1) The Rockies win the West with the Dodgers as the Wild Card or, a lot less likely than that, 2) The Braves pass either the Rockies or the Dodgers to win the Wild Card.

This article makes it sound like we shouldn’t be expecting Condrey or Romero to return from the DL any day now.

Brett Myers threw a scoreless inning for Lakewood yesterday and says he is throwing 93-94 miles per hour in this article.


Victorino makes his case for the three-run homer

Shane Victorino has had some huge swings for the Phillies lately, but you might have to wait a while to see him come up with one bigger than last night’s. With the game tied at 2-2 in the eighth, Victorino delivered a three-run homer to right. The bullpen bent a little but didn’t break and the Phils held on for their seventh win in eight games.

A little hard to see through all the Victorino was the second straight excellent start from Brett Myers. Myers held the Cards to a pair of runs over six innings. In the three-game set the Phils rolled out the new top of their rotation. Blanton and Myers came up huge. Hamels, not so much.

Getting Hamels, Blanton and Myers all going would be a big boost for the Phillies. As good as the bullpen has been, it needs rest and Manuel continues to call on the same guys over and over. It’s hard not to remember back to 2007 when Romero, Geary, Myers and Gordon seemingly pitched every day down the stretch. For the ’07 Phils it turned out to be good enough to get them into the playoffs, but once they were there they didn’t win a game while their relief pitchers allowed seven earned runs in 9 1/3 innings. Arguably, the core of the Phillies’ pen isn’t what made the playoff numbers so bad for relievers last season — Kyle Lohse gave up a big home run in relief and Mesa got shelled. But Myers, Gordon and Romero didn’t pitch very well against the Rockies.

The Phillies beat the St Louis Cardinals last night, winning 5-4 to improve to 61-50 on the season. The Phils win the series two games to one.

Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing a run on four hits. He allowed two extra-base hits, both to Ryan Ludwick, a double and a home run. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three.

Myers threw a 1-2-3 first.

Ryan Ludwick led off the second with a double. Troy Glaus was next and singled into right. Ludwick scored to put the Cards up 1-0. Myers got the next three to leave Glaus stranded.

He need six pitches to set the Cards down in order in the third.

With one out in the fourth, Ludwick hit the first pitch of his at-bat out to left. It was his fourth home run of the series and put St Louis up 2-0. Myers got the next two to end the inning.

Myers threw a 1-2-3 fifth. He had thrown 55 pitches through five innings.

Skip Schumaker led off the sixth with a ground ball up the middle and off the glove of a sliding Rollins for a single. Mather hit into a double-play behind him and Pujols flew to center.

Durbin started the seventh with the Phils down 2-1, pitching for the fifth time in six days (in three of the five appearances he threw five pitches). He walked Ludwick on four pitches to start the inning. If I never see Ryan Ludwick again I really don’t have a problem with that. He struck out Glaus for the first out before Molina moved Ludwick to second with a single. Durbin got Miles to hit into a double-play to end the inning.

Durbin came back to start the eighth with the Phils up 5-2. Righty Brendan Ryan hit for the pitcher Russ Springer and singled. With lefty Adam Kennedy due to hit, Romero came in to pitch and switch-hitter Cesar Izturis hit for Kennedy. A balk by Romero moved Ryan to second before Izturis grounded to short with Ryan going to third. Righty Nick Stavinoha hit for the lefty Schumaker and hit a ball to first that Howard didn’t handle for an error. Ryan scored and it was 5-3. Romero hit Joe Mather to put men on first and second and Madson came in to pitch to Pujols. Pujols walked, loading the bases with one out. But the Phils finally got Ludwick out and it came at a big time — Madson got him to hit into a double-play to turn the Cards away.

Lidge started the ninth and Glaus led off with a home run that cut the Phillies’ lead to 5-4. He got Molina for the first out before Miles singled to left. Lefty Rick Ankiel hit for the pitcher Ryan Franklin and singled into right on a ball deflected by Howard. It put men on first and third with one down for Izturis. Izturis was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Lidge got a huge out, though, striking Stavinoha out swinging 1-2 with the tying run on third for the second out. He struck Mather out on three pitches to end the game.

Manuel continues to use Romero, Durbin and Lidge a ton. If you aren’t starting to see the problems associated with all that work you will soon. Nice to have a day off today, but Lidge and Durbin both didn’t pitch well last night. They both got huge outs, though, Durbin getting the double-play to end the seventh and Lidge getting back-to-back strikeouts with the bases loaded to end the game.

Overall the pen went three innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Todd Wellemeyer went (1) Rollins (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Dobbs (8) Coste. Werth in center against the righty. Jenkins and Dobbs both in the lineup against the righty. Coste catches.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the first.

Jenkins doubled to right with two outs in the second, but Dobbs flew to left for the third out.

The Phils went 1-2-3 again in the third.

Howard singled with two outs in the fourth. Burrell grounded to short behind him.

Dobbs doubled to left with one out in the fifth. Coste moved him to third with a fly ball well-hit to center for the second out. Myers, who came into the game 4-for-101 (.040) with four singles over the last three seasons, hit a dribbler to third and was thrown out to end the frame.

Myers hit .159 (32-for-201) with seven extra-base hits from 2002 to 2005, hitting at least .130 every season.

Rollins and Werth went down to start the sixth before Utley lined a 1-0 pitch just out to right, cutting the St Louis’ lead in half at 2-1. Howard struck out swinging at a 2-2 pitch for the third out.

Burrell walked to start the seventh. Lefty Ron Villone came on to pitch to Jenkins with the Phils down 2-1. With Werth already in the game, Victorino hit for Jenkins and flew to center for the first out. Dobbs drew a walk against the lefty, moving Burrell to second. Righty Kyle McClellan came in to pitch and struck out Coste for the second out. Taguchi hit for Myers and grounded to short to leave both men stranded.

Werth singled to right with one out in the eighth. Lefty Jaime Garcia came in to pitch and got Utley on a ground ball to first and Werth was forced at second for the first out. Howard singled to right and Utley moved to second. Righty Russ Springer came in to pitch to Burrell and Burrell singled into left field. Utley scored to tie the game at 2-2 with Howard going to second. Victorino was next and he got ahead 3-1 before he slung one out down the right field line for a three-run homer that put the Phils up 5-2. Dobbs grounded to first for the third out.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the ninth.

Rollins was 0-for-5 with a strikeout in the game and 0-for-11 in the series. 263/330/431 for the year.

Werth was 1-for-4 in the game and 1-for-8 in the series. He’s hitting 266/351/480 for the year. Victorino was 1-for-2 with a three-run homer in the game. 2-for-11 with a double and a home run in the series. 286/351/444 for the year.

Utley was 1-for-4 with a homer. 3-for-11 with two doubles and a home run in the series. 292/372/575.

Howard was 2-for-4. 3-for-8 with a home run and four walks in the series. 242/330/502. He was hitting 219/312/472 a month ago.

Burrell was 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. 2-for-10 with a home run in the set. 277/400/576 for the year.

Jenkins was 1-for-2. 2-for-5 with two doubles in the series. 245/299/405.

Dobbs 1-for-3 with a walk. 2-for-7 with a double and a home run. 305/344/454. Needs to play third with a righty on the mound more than he has been. Bruntlett was 0-for-1 in the game and 0-for-4 with two walks in the series. 226/312/310.

Coste was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. 1-for-8 with four strikeouts in the series. 278/325/474 for the year. Ruiz was 0-for-3 in the series and is hitting 214/307/277 for the year. One extra-base hit since June 13.

No game today.


Howard’s at-bats against Braden seem to be running on a Looper

Ryan Howard has hit four home runs in five career at-bats against Braden Looper. The most recent of them came with two outs in the fourth inning last night in St Louis. Howard’s solo shot was one of two runs the Phillies scored in the game — they won in large part because Joe Blanton gave them the kind of start they were hoping for when they traded for him last month.

Blanton went seven innings, allowing a run on four hits and two walks. Romero, Durbin and Lidge shut the Cards down in the eighth and the ninth.

The Phillies beat the St Louis Cardinals last night, winning 2-1 to improve to 60-50 on the season. The teams have split the first two games of the three-game series. The Phils are in first place in the NL East — with a late-inning collapse in Houston last night the Mets are in third place, two games behind the Phils. The Phillies lead the Marlins by a game and a half.

Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing a run on four hits and two walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a home run. He struck out five.

He walked Albert Pujols with two outs in the first, but struck Ryan Ludwick out behind him.

He threw a 1-2-3 second.

He started the third up 1-0. Aaron Miles drew a walk with one out before Schumaker moved Miles to second with a single. Blanton struck Joe Mather out looking and then struck out Pujols looking at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

Up 2-0 in the fourth, he set the Cards down 1-2-3.

Adam Kennedy led off the fifth with a single and pitcher Braden Looper bunted him to second for the first out. Miles was next and lined a ball to Utley at second. Utley threw to second to double Kennedy off and end the inning.

He had another 1-2-3 inning in the sixth.

Ludwick led off the seventh and pounded a 1-1 pitch out to left, cutting the Phillies’ lead to 2-1. Third home run in two games for Ludwick. Blanton got Troy Glaus to ground to short before Yadier Molina singled into center. Kennedy flew to right and righty Nick Stavinoha hit for the pitcher Looper and popped to Rollins.

Romero started the eighth with a one run lead and gave up a leadoff single to Miles. Switch-hitter Cesar Izturis hit for lefty Skip Schumaker and Romero struck him out for the first out. Righty Joe Mather was next and Manuel called on Durbin to come on and pitch to him. Durbin got behind Mather 2-0 but got him to hit a 2-2 pitch into a double-play to end the inning.

Lidge started the ninth. Pujols led off and hit a rocket to short that Rollins took and threw to first for the first out. Lidge struck out Ludwick on a 2-2 slider in the dirt for the second out, with Ruiz throwing to first to retire the batter. Glaus was next and Lidge walked him on a high 3-2 fastball. Brendan Ryan ran for Glaus as the tying run. Lefty Rick Ankiel, who had been left out of the lineup with an abdominal strain, hit for Yadier Molina and Lidge’s first pitch to him was wild and moved Ryan to second. After that Lidge threw three straight strikes, getting Ankiel swinging to end the game.

Two scoreless innings for the pen in which they allow a single and a walk. Lidge threw 16 pitches, Romero ten and Durbin six. None of the three had pitched on Friday.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Braden Looper went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Werth (7) Dobbs (8) Coste. Werth in right despite the righty with Dobbs playing third. I think you may have to conclude that Manuel does not want to put both Jenkins and Dobbs in the lineup against a righty cause he wants to have a lefty on the bench to call on to pinch-hit. I think I’d put them both in the lineup. Coste catches.

The Phils went 1-2-3 on three popups in the first.

Howard led off the second with a walk, but Burrell struck out and Werth hit into a double-play. Howard came into the game 3-for-4 in his career against Looper with three home runs.

Dobbs led off the third and hit the first pitch he saw out to right. It put the Phils up 1-0. The Phils went in order behind him.

With two outs in the fourth, Howard hit a 3-2 pitch out to right-center. 2-0. Burrell flew to center for the third out.

Coste singled with two outs in the fifth, but Blanton struck out behind him.

1-2-3 in the sixth.

Howard led off the seventh with a walk. Burrell hit into a double-play and Werth grounded to short.

With two outs in the eighth, Bruntlett hit for Blanton and walked. The catcher Molina picked him off first with Rollins at the plate to end the inning. Second time in two days Bruntlett has been picked off. Yesterday it was the pitcher.

Utley doubled with two outs in the ninth. Howard was walked intentionally to put men on first and second for Burrell, but Burrell flew to center for the third out.

Rollins 0-for-4.

Victorino 0-for-4.

Utley 1-for-4 with a double.

Howard 1-for-1 with his 31st home run and three walks.

Burrell 0-for-4 and left four men on base.

Werth 0-for-3.

Dobbs 1-for-3 with his fourth home run.

Coste 1-for-3.

Brett Myers (4-9, 5.46) faces righty Todd Wellemeyer (8-4, 4.13) tonight. The Phillies pounded Wellemeyer on June 13 — Wellemeyer was charged with eight runs in 3 1/3 innings in that game. Wellemeyer has been pretty good in his last two starts, allowing just two runs in each game but going just 11 innings combined. He has a 4.96 ERA with a 1.52 ratio in 11 starts at home this year and a 3.28 ERA with a 1.09 ratio in ten starts away. Myers was great on Tuesday against the Nats, holding Washington to an unearned run in seven innings. He hasn’t allowed a home run in his last two starts, which is critical for him since he’s allowed 24 in 113 2/3 innings this year. Righties are also hitting .316 against him compared to .226 for lefties. Righties hit for a higher average against Myers in 2007, 2004 and 2003 as well, but not as dramatically as they have this season.


Lohse’s advisers apparently still think getting people out is the way to go

Kyle Lohse could have been a Phillie this season, but what he is is an underpaid starter for the Cards. Lohse shut down the Phils for five innings last night and the Cards beat the Phils with the help of a three-run bomb by Joe Mather and a pair of home runs from Ryan Ludwick.

Not having Lohse is unfortunate for the Phils, but they apparently have bigger and more immediate problems. Cole Hamels doesn’t have a broken arm, but he does have two bad starts in a row now. And a lot of people have a bad feeling that all the innings the 24-year-old has thrown this season might have caught up to him. Hamels is second in the NL in innings pitched and third in pitches thrown.

The Phillies fell to the St Louis Cardinals last night, losing 6-3 to drop to 59-50 on the season.

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phils and went six innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and a walk. Only four of the runs were earned. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both home runs. He struck out five.

Over his last two starts Hamels has allowed 14 runs in 9 2/3 innings.

Joe Mather singled to left with one out in the first. Albert Pujols flew to center before Ryan Ludwick moved Mather to second with a single. Troy Glaus flew to left for the third out.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 second.

Skip Schumaker started the third with a single and Cesar Izturis followed with a four-pitch walk. Walking Cesar Izturis on four pitches doesn’t usually bode well and it didn’t in this case. Mather was next and blasted a 2-1 pitch out to left to put St Louis up 3-0. Pujols was next and he hit a rocket to third, but Bruntlett made a nice diving play and threw him out at first for the first out. Ludwick was next and hit a slow ground ball to third. Bruntlett charged and fielded but threw in the dirt and Howard didn’t handle it. The ball got by Howard for an error on Bruntlett that let Ludwick go to second. Glaus singled on a ball back up the middle that Rollins knocked down. Ludwick moved to third. Yadier Molina hit a fly ball to left for the second out, deep enough to score Ludwick and put the Cards up 4-0. Aaron Miles grounded to second for the third out.

Hamels struck out the pitcher Kyle Lohse and Schumaker in a 1-2-3 fourth.

He got the first two in the fifth before Ludwick hit the first pitch of hit at-bat out to left to put St Louis up 5-0. Hamels struck out Glaus to end the inning.

With the Phils down 5-3, Hamels gave up a single to Miles with one out, but got pinch-hitter Brendan Ryan and Schumaker to leave him stranded.

Madson threw a 1-2-3 seventh.

He returned for the eighth and Ludwick led off with another home run that put St Louis up 6-3. Molina followed with a single, but Miles hit into a double-play behind him. Pitcher Jason Isringhausen hit for himself and grounded to Utley.

Madson threw 28 pitches, allowing a run in two innings. Over his last five appearances he has allowed runs four times, surrendering seven runs in 5 2/3 innings.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Kyle Lohse went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Bruntlett (8) Ruiz. Bruntlett again plays third against a righty, which is a pretty bad idea. Jenkins in right against the righty. Ruiz catches.

Rollins led off the first with a walk and stole second as Victorino struck out for the first out. Utley popped to second before Howard walked, but Burrell went down swinging to end the frame.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the second.

Rollins walked again with one out in the third. Victorino and Utley both went down on fly balls to leave him stranded.

1-2-3 in the fourth.

With two outs in the fifth, Hamels singled to left on an inside-out swing for the Phillies’ first hit. Rollins smashed a line drive back up the middle that Lohse snared to set the Phils down.

Victorino started the sixth with a double to left-center. Utley was next and he sliced a ball into left field off the chalk and into the stands on a bounce. Victorino scored to cut the St Louis’ lead to 5-1. Howard struck out looking and Burrell got behind 0-2 before he hit a 2-2 pitch out to left to make it 5-3. Jenkins followed with a double to right, but Bruntlett struck out and Ruiz grounded to short for the third out.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the seventh. Taguchi hit for Hamels and popped to short for the first out.

Utley was hit by a pitch to start the eighth. Howard smashed a ball but right at Pujols, who caught it and stepped on first to double-off Utley. Burrell walked to put a man on first for Jenkins with lefty Jaime Garcia on the mound for St Louis. Werth hit for Jenkins and the Cards brought in righty Jason Isringhausen, who struck Werth out to end the inning with Burrell stranded and the Phils down 6-3.

Bruntlett led off the ninth with a walk. Coste hit for Ruiz and struck out for the first out. Dobbs hit for Madson and flew to center for the second out before Rollins walked on a pitch that got passed Molina and allowed Bruntlett to go to third. It brought Victorino up as the tying run. He grounded to second to end the game.

Rollins was 0-for-2 and walked three times. He had as many walks last night as he did in his previous 57 at-bats combined.

Victorino was 1-for-5 with a double and left four men on base.

Utley 1-for-3 with an RBI.

Howard 0-for-3 with a walk.

Burrell 1-for-3 with a walk and a two-run homer.

Jenkins 1-for-3 with a double. He hit 256/333/458 in July, which isn’t great but it’s just about all the Phillies need him to do.

Bruntlett was 0-for-3 with a walk, struck out three times and made an error (and one really good play) at third. He’s 1-for-his-last-12. Dobbs should be playing third against righties with Feliz out.

Ruiz was 0-for-3.

Joe Blanton (5-12, 5.13) faces righty Braden Looper (10-8, 4.38) tonight. Opponents have hit .291 against Looper this season, lefties .290 and righties .292. Jenkins is 8-for-19 against him in his career (.421). Howard has faced him four times and gone 3-for-4 with three home runs. Blanton has a 7.88 ERA in his two starts with the Phillies and has allowed seven runs in eight innings. Overall on the season he’s been hit hard by righties. Right-handed batters are hitting .328 with a 1.76 ratio against him.


Howard-powered Phils’ offense looking for some energy alternatives

Like maybe a gerbil running on a wheel? Shouldn’t be discounted, especially if it they can find a gerbil that can catch at all.

Phillies’ fans have been waiting for Ryan Howard to go on a tear just about all season long. Looks like it may finally be here. After knocking in half of the Phillies’ runs in Wednesday’s game Howard knocked in three of four last night. The Phils took the series with their second straight win.

If Howard wants to continue his trend he’s going to need to drive in 87.5% of the Phillies runs tonight. That would be seven of eight.

Howard has hit 368/486/793 in 107 career plate appearances against the Cardinals.

As a group, the Phillies still aren’t tearing the cover off the ball. They have scored four or fewer runs in seven of their last eight games. Utley, Rollins and the catching tandem of Ruiz and Coste lead the list of struggling Phillies’ hitters.

Lost to many in Howard’s emergence is the fantastic performance by the Phillies’ pitchers. Jamie Moyer was brilliant last night, giving the Phils their fifth quality start in their last six games. Over the last 12 games Phillies’ starters have allowed 30 earned runs in 72 2/3 innings (3.72 ERA) — that includes a start by Eaton on July 7 in which he allowed six runs in 2 2/3 innings.

The Phillies beat the St Louis Cardinals last night, winning 4-1 to improve to 50-43 on the season. The Phils take the series two games to one. St Louis scored five runs in the series.

Jamie Moyer got the start and went seven innings, allowing a run on seven hits and two walks. Only one of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out four. Moyer hasn’t been charged with more than three runs in any of his last seven starts and has his ERA down to 3.95 for the season.

With one out in the first Ryan Ludwick walked and moved to second on a single by Albert Pujols. Moyer struck out Glaus for the second out. Lefty Rick Ankiel was next and he hit the first pitch he saw hard back through the middle and off the foot of Moyer. The ball rolled towards second where Utley charged, fielded and made a glove-hand flip to Howard to nip Ankiel and end the frame. Great play by Utley (but Ankiel looked safe to me).

Chris Duncan singled to right with one out in the second with the Phils up 2-0, but pitcher Braden Looper, hitting eighth of course, was next and hit into a double-play.

Brendan Ryan singled to start the third. Adam Kennedy hit into a double-play behind him. Ludwick flew to center for the third out.

Glaus doubled to center with one out in the fourth. Ankiel popped to short for the second out before Yadier Molina singled passed a diving Utley and into center field. Victorino charged and would have had a play at the plate if he had fielded the ball cleanly. He didn’t. Glaus scored to cut the Phillies’ lead to 3-1. Moyer struck Duncan out swinging for the third out.

Looper started the fifth with a single but got another double-play, this one from Ryan, behind him. Kennedy grounded to first for the third out.

Pujols singled to left with one out in the sixth. Moyer got Glaus on a fly ball to right and struck out Ankiel.

Duncan walked with one out in the seventh. Righty Joe Mather hit for Looper and grounded to second. Would have been a double-play, but Duncan went into second very hard and high after Rollins. Looked like he may have been out of the base paths too. Duncan was forced at second with Mather safe at first. Ryan was next and hit a ball to short. Rollins made a nice play to field the ball, but Howard didn’t handle his throw and Rollins was charged with an error. Mather went to third on the play. Kennedy was next and hit another ball to short. Rollins took this one moving to his right and made a strong throw to first to end the frame with both runners stranded.

Madson pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. He returned to start the ninth against lefty Rick Ankiel with the Phillies up 4-1 and Ankiel led off the inning with a single. Madson got Molina to fly to center before Ankiel stole second. Madson stayed in the game to face another lefty, Duncan, and walked him. It put men on first and second with one out and switch-hitter Aaron Miles hit for the pitcher Chris Perez. Miles has actually been a little better against lefties than righties this season, but Manuel brought in Romero in what was now a save situation. Romero got Miles to fly to center for the second out and Ryan on a popup to second to end the game and earn his first save of the season.

That was a miserable ninth inning for Manuel with Lidge presumably unavailable off of 29 pitches the night before. Madson faces three batters in the inning, two of which are lefties and both reach base before Manuel uses Romero anyway.

Madson dropped his ERA to 2.83 on the season. He’s been charged with three runs in the last 23 innings he’s pitched.

Two scoreless innings for the pen in which they allow one hit and one walk. Madson threw 23 pitches, Romero 10.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Braden Looper went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Feliz (8) Coste. Jenkins back in the lineup in right against the righty. Coste catches.

Victorino singled with one out in the first. Utley was next and hit a ground ball to short. Victorino was forced for the second out with Utley safe at first. Howard was next and hit a 3-2 pitch just out to left-center. 2-0. Burrell flew to left for the third out.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the second.

Rollins doubled with one out in the third and moved to third when Victorino followed with a ground out to first. Utley was next and hit a 2-2 pitch into the right field corner for a double. Rollins scored and it was 3-0. Howard grounded to first to end the inning.

With one out in the fourth Jenkins and Feliz singled back-to-back. It put men on first and second for Coste and Coste hit a 3-2 pitch hit behind second that Kennedy turned into an adventure but took for the second out. Moyer dribbled back to the pitcher for the third out.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fifth.

Howard led off the sixth and hit the first pitch of his at-bat out to left to put the Phillies up 4-1. Burrell struck out and Jenkins grounded back to the pitcher behind him before Feliz drew a walk. Coste flew to center for the third out.

Dobbs hit for Moyer to start the seventh and singled. Rollins popped to short for the first out before Victorino singled and Dobbs went to second. Lefty Ron Villone came in to pitch to Utley and Utley grounded to first. Victorino was forced at second for the second out with Dobbs moving to third. Howard struck out swinging for the third out.

Burrell walked to start the eighth and Bruntlett ran for him at first. Jenkins singled to right and Bruntlett moved to second. Feliz flew to left and Bruntlett tagged and went to third. With one out and men on first and third, Coste hit into a double-play to end the inning.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a double in the game. 2-for-12 with a double and a triple in the three-game set. He’s hitting 268/330/436 for the season. In 2005 he slugged .431 for the season — with that exception his average, on-base and slugging are all three worse than they have been at the end of any year since 2003.

Victorino was 2-for-4 in the game and 2-for-10 with two walks in the series. He’s hitting 268/341/369 for the season. His slugging percentage is miserable, down from .423 last season, but it’s a whole lot easier to take now that he’s a center fielder instead of a right fielder.

Utley was 1-for-4 with a double and left three men on base. 3-for-11 in the series. 294/377/593 for the year. He’s another guy that’s due to get hot soon. He’s hitting 268/318/463 in July after hitting .266 in June.

Howard was 2-for-3 with two home runs and three RBI. 5-for-10 with three home runs in the series. 234/325/510 for the year. 375/444/900 in July. Be careful out there.

Burrell 0-for-3 with a walk. 3-for-9 with a double and three walks in the set. 279/412/581 on the season.

Jenkins 2-for-4 with two singles in the game in his only action of the set. 241/290/386 on the season, which is terrible. I think the Phils need to play him a little more despite the miserable year — he’s been better of late and they will need him before the season’s over. Werth was 1-for-8 in the series and is hitting 271/361/488. The Phils need to be careful about assuming he’s going to give them the same great production as an everyday player.

Feliz was 1-for-3 with a walk. 3-for-9 with a home run and two walks in the series. He’s hitting 266/314/435 for the year and 314/342/543 in July.

Coste is slumping. 0-for-4 in the game with five men left on base. 0-for-5 in the series and 0-for-his-last-17. 283/339/491 for the year. Ruiz was 1-for-5 with a walk in the series. 206/299/275. Coste and Ruiz are a combined 4-for-38 (.105) in July.

Kyle Kendrick (8-3, 4.39) faces lefty Doug Davis (3-4, 3.74) tonight. Davis hasn’t allowed more than three runs in any of his last five starts. Lefties haven’t hit a home run against him in his 11 starts this season, but they are hitting .297 against him compared to .256 for righties. Taguchi, Rollins and Feliz have all faced him a lot. Rollins is 2-for-19 (.105) against him, Feliz 3-for-25 (.120) and Taguchi 7-for-23 (.304) with four walks. Kendrick has put together three solid starts in a row since he got bombed by the Red Sox on June 18. Lefties are hitting 311/383/498 against him for the season.

After Wednesday night’s game the Phillies, who won’t need a fifth starter till July 23 sent JA Happ back to Triple-A and called up Mike Cervenak. Cervenak is a right-handed hitter who has played first, third and right field at Triple-A this season. He has hit 310/331/439 at Lehigh Valley this year. Nine walks in 355 at-bats. His role on the Phils will almost surely be right-handed pinch-hitter. He turns 32 in August.


Happ more

JA Happ took a shutout into the seventh inning last night. He didn’t come out with his first career win, but with the help of big hits from Ryan Howard the Phils did snap their four-game losing streak.

Howard drove in two of the four Phillies’ runs, both times tallying the RBI while hitting with two strikes. His home run in the bottom of the eighth put the Phillies up to stay.

The Phillies beat the St Louis Cardinals last night. With the 4-2 win they are 49-43 on the season.

JA Happ got the start for the Phillies and went 6 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and four walks. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both doubles. He struck out five.

He walked Skip Schumaker on four pitches to start the first but struck Ryan Ludwick out behind him for the first out. Albert Pujols was next and absolutely smashed a line drive to third that Feliz caught for the second out. Troy Glaus followed with a walk that moved Schumaker to second, but Happ got Rick Ankiel on a fly ball to center to end the frame.

With one out in the second, Jason LaRue singled and the pitcher Brad Thompson bunted him to second. Cesar Izturis grounded to first for the third out.

Pujols singled to left with two outs in the third. Glaus flew to left for the third out.

LaRue doubled to left with two outs in the fourth. Thompson grounded to third to set St Louis down.

Izturis walked to start the fifth and moved to second when Schumaker followed with a ground out to first. Happ made a nice play covering first to take the toss from Howard and tagging Schumaker for the out. Happ struck Ludwick out again, bringing up Pujols with two outs and a man on second. Pujols was walked intentionally and Glaus flew to right for the third out.

Happ started the sixth up 2-0 and set the Cards down 1-2-3 on nine pitches.

He started the seventh having thrown 98 pitches. Izturis singled with one out and Glaus followed and slammed the first pitch of his at-bat into right center. Izturis would have scored easily, but the ball got stuck under the padding and Izturis had to hold third on the ground-rule double. Durbin came in to pitch to the righty Ludwick and walked him on four pitches to load the bases for Pujols. Pujols swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and flew to left, deep enough to score Izturis and cut the Phillies lead to 2-1. Durbin got ahead of Glaus 1-2 before Glaus reached out and dumped a single into center. Schumaker came in from second to score — he probably would have been out if Victorino’s throw had been on target, but it was well up the third base line. Schumaker’s run tied the game at 2-2. Durbin intentionally walked the lefty Ankiel, loading the bases for pitcher Jason Isringhausen. Righty Joe Mather hit for Isringhausen and Durbin struck him out to end the frame.

Huge out for Durbin. St Louis had two lefties on the bench in Chris Duncan and Adam Kennedy. I think you have to conclude LaRussa liked Mather against Durbin better than Duncan against Romero. Think I would have rather had Ducan/Romero if I was him. Either way, Durbin scraped through a shaky inning. Getting Pujols on the fly ball to left was huge.

With game tied at 2-2, Condrey pitched the eighth and struck out the side.

Condrey lowered his ERA to 3.82 on the year, appearing in one of the bigger spots we’ve seen him in in his time with the Phils. He has walked two hitters since April 27 (in 29 innings pitched).

Lidge started the ninth with a 4-2 lead and walked Schumaker in a ten-pitch at-bat. It brought Ludwick up as the tying run and Ludwick struck out for the third time in the game. Lidge’s nemesis, Pujols, was next. Pujols got ahead 2-0 and then popped one up to right for the second out. Glaus walked to put men on first and second. With the tying run on base, Lidge struck the lefty Ankiel out on three pitches to end the game.

The pen went 2 2/3 innings, allowing a hit and four walks. Durbin allowed two runs that were charged to Happ but came into the game in a tough situation with men on second and third with one out. Condrey had a strong inning against a weak part of the order, but it’s nice to see him pitch to well and get to throw in big spots. Lidge threw 29 pitches throwing for the second straight day. 24 for Durbin, 14 for Condrey.

The Phillies’ lineup against lefty Mark Mulder went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Werth (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Werth in right against the lefty. Ruiz sure gets a lot of chances.

Victorino walked with one out in the first and stole second before Utley drew a walk. Mulder had to leave the game and righty Brad Thompson came in to pitch for the Cards. Howard hit into double-play to end the inning.

Burrell walked to start the second, but the Phils went in order behind him.

Happ struck out for the first out in the third. Rollins was next and hit a high fly ball into left that sliced towards the line. Schumaker made a nice play, catching the ball as he slid into the wall for the second out. Victorino drew a two-out walk but was caught stealing to end the inning.

With one out in the fourth, Howard walked and Burrell moved him to second with a single. Werth lined to short and Feliz grounded to third to leave both runners stranded.

Ruiz led off the fifth with a single and Happ tried to bunt him to second but struck out. Rollins was next and he split the gap in right-center with a triple that scored Ruiz to put the Phils up 1-0. Victorino chopped a 2-2 pitch to short. Rollins came home but Izturis fielded and made a solid throw to the plate. Rollins was out for the second out. Utley was next and he singled to right, sending Victorino to second. Howard followed and lined a 3-2 pitch into right. Victorino scored from second to make it 2-0 and Utley went to third. Righty Russ Springer came in and struck out Burrell to end the inning.

Ruiz walked with two outs in the sixth. Happ hit for himself and grounded to second for the third out.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the seventh.

They started the bottom of the eighth with the score tied at 2-2. With lefty-killers Burrell and Werth behind Howard the Cards left righty Kyle McClellan in to pitch to Howard. Howard got behind 0-2 and then blasted a ball out to right to put the Phils up 3-2. Second time in the game Howard drove in runs while hitting with two strikes. Closer-to-be righty Chris Perez came in and struck out Burrell and Werth before Feliz lined a 1-2 pitch out to left for his 11th home run of the year. 4-2 Phils. Ruiz flew to right for the third out.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a triple and an RBI. He has three triples so far in July.

Victorino was 0-for-2 with two walks.

Utley 1-for-3 with walk.

Howard was 2-for-3 with a home run, a walk and two RBI. He’s hitting 361/439/778 in July. Sometime this season he’s going to have an absurd month where he just hits day after day. There aren’t that many months left.

Burrell was 1-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts.

Werth 0-for-4 and struck out twice. Werth has been great in July, hitting 320/414/440 so far. He hasn’t been good in the last two days, going 1-for-8 with three strikeouts. He’s played nine days in a row and it’s hard not to wonder if he’s tired.

Feliz was 1-for-4 with a home run.

Ruiz 1-for-3 with a walk.

Jamie Moyer (7-6, 4.12) faces righty Bradon Looper (9-6, 4.15) this afternoon. Looper has allowed three or fewer earned runs in eight of his last ten starts. In his five starts during the day he has thrown to a 6.75 ERA. In 13 night starts he’s thrown to a 3.39 ERA. The Phillies have lost the last four games that Moyer has started, but Moyer has pitched pretty well. Righties are hitting .306 against him on the season, lefties just .215. Pujols is 0-for-7 against him in his career.


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