Tag: Charlie Manuel

Myers, Phils’ offense come up with an October surprise for Billingsley

The Phillies got an offensive explosion yesterday, which isn’t that surprising. What was surprising was the source. Rollins, Utley, Howard, Burrell and Werth combined to go 3-for-19 without an RBI, but the Phillies scored eight runs in the game. Shane Victorino and pitcher Brett Myers combined to go 5-for-8 with seven RBI.

After a memorable at-bat against CC Sabathia in game two of the NLDS, Myers again shined at the plate in game two of the NLCS. He was 3-for-3 with the bat in the game and drove in three runs. He has two RBI in the 2006, 2007 and 2008 regular seasons combined.

All three of Myers’ hits came on the first pitch of his at-bat. He saw three pitches in the contest.

The Phils were all over Dodgers’ started Chad Billingsley, who didn’t make it out of the third. The Phils started the fourth up 8-2. They should have cruised from there, but the problem was that Myers wasn’t pitching quite as well as he was hitting. He allowed a three-run homer to Manny in the fourth, which got the Dodgers back in the game. LA brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but the Phils’ pen was again up to the task. In the first two games of the series, neither pen has been charged with a run.

The Phillies beat the Dodgers in game two of the NLCS yesterday, winning 8-5. The Phillies lead the best-of-seven series two games to none.

Myers got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing five runs on six hits and four walks. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He struck out six.

The Dodger lineup against Myers went (1) Furcal (SS/S) (2) Martin (C/R) (3) Ramirez (LF/R) (4) Ethier (RF/L) (5) Loney (1B/L) (6) Kemp (CF/R) (7) DeWitt (2B/L) (8) Blake (3B/R). Ethier hits cleanup after hitting second against the lefty Hamels in game one. Martin moves to second in the order from fourth. Blake and DeWitt both stay in the lineup, but flip-flop the seven and eight spots in the order.

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

Furcal led off the first for the Dodgers and showed bunt at the first pitch but took strike one. He flew to left on the next pitch for the first out. Martin was next and Myers knocked him down with a 1-2 pitch that was up and in. Martin struck out swinging on the next pitch for the second out. Myers delivered a 1-0 pitch to Ramirez that was behind him. Ramirez went down swinging 3-2 to set the Dodgers down. Thirteen pitches in the first inning for Myers.

Ethier led off the second and hit a 1-2 pitch into right for a single. Myers quickly got two strikes on Loney, but didn’t get a close call 0-2. With the count even at 2-2, Loney drilled a ball to deep right and off the top of the wall. Loney had a double and Ethier went to third. Myers struck Kemp out swinging 1-2 for the first out. DeWitt grounded a 1-1 pitch slowly to first for the second out, but Ethier came in to score to put the Dodgers up 1-0 and Loney moved to third. Myers walked Blake intetionally to get to the pitcher Billingsley, putting men on first and third with two down. Billingsley flew to right to leave the runners stranded. Twenty-four pitches in the inning for Myers put him at 37 for the game.

Furcal bunted the first pitch of his at-bat back to the mound for the first out in the third with the Phillies up 4-1. Myers walked Martin on a 3-2 pitch before Ramirez popped to Utley for the second out. Ethier walked on five pitches, putting men on first and second for Myers. Loney was next and he hit a 1-1 pitch into center for a single, scoring Martin to cut the lead to 4-2 with Ethier going to second. Kemp was next and hit a ground ball to third that Dobbs didn’t handle, loading the bases with two outs for DeWitt. Myers struck DeWitt out swinging at a 2-2 curveball to leave the bases loaded.

Awful inning for Myers, who had to work around the error by Dobbs but walked two men to get himself into trouble. Twenty-seven pitches in the inning put him at 64.

Myers started the fourth up 8-2. Blake led off with a single into left. Kent was next, he had entered in the bottom of the third with McDonald to play second, and he hit a 1-2 pitch hard to short, but Rollins took it on one hop and started a double-play that cleared the bases. Furcal struck out swinging at an 0-2 pitch, but Ruiz failed to block the ball and it got away from him. Furcal took first and the inning continued. Martin followed with a single into left, moving Furcal to second. It brought Manny to the plate with a chance to get LA back in the game and he did just that, hitting a 1-1 pitch just out to left. Not a terrible pitch from Myers or an easy one to hit out, the ball was a little high and inside. Myers struck Ethier out swinging 1-2.

Big mistake by Ruiz helps cost the Phillies three runs. The home run from Ramirez made the game close again and meant the Phils would have to go to their pen for four innings after starting the fourth with a six run lead. Nineteen pitches for Myers in the inning, nine of which came after Furcal reached on his strikeout, had him at 83 for the game.

Loney flew to left for the first out of the fifth, but Kemp followed with a walk. The pitcher James McDonald hit for himself with one out and a man on first and the Dodgers down three. He hit a slow ground ball to short and Rollins tossed to Utley to get one but the ball was hit too slowly to get two. Blake flew to right for the third out, leaving McDonald stranded at first. Nineteen pitches again for Myers, putting him at 102.

Durbin started the sixth up 8-5. Kent led off and hit the first pitch of his at-bat hard again, but Werth took it in right for the first out. Furcal reached on an infield single, but Martin and Ramirez both flew to right to leave him stranded.

Great to see Durbin have a solid inning.

Romero started the seventh with lefties Ethier and Loney due to lead off. He got them both, getting Ethier on a ground ball to Feliz, who had just entered the game, for the first out and Loney swinging on three pitches for the second. The righty Kemp was next and Romero walked him on a 3-2 pitch. Righty Nomar Garciaparra hit for the pitcher McDonald and Manuel called on Madson to pitch to him. Garciaparra singled into right and Kemp took third, bringing Blake to the plate as the tying run. Blake got ahead 1-0 and then drove a ball deep to left-center. Victorino raced towards the ball, reaching out to feel for the wall then jumping up to make the catch and end the inning.

Great play by Victorino to get to the ball and time the jump.

Madson gave the Phillies another great inning in the eighth, setting the Dodgers down 1-2-3. He got Kent to ground to second and then struck out Furcal and Martin.

Lidge started the ninth up 8-5 and walked Ramirez on five pitches. He struck the lefty Ethier out swinging on three pitches for the first out, Ramirez took second on defensive indifference. Lidge got behind the lefty Loney 3-0 before Loney walked on a 3-2 pitch. It put men on first and second with one and brought Kemp to the plate as the tying run. Kemp struck out swinging 1-2 for the second out. Garciaparra was next and Lidge got him swinging at an 0-2 pitch way outside and low to end the game.

Four scoreless innings for the pen in the game. They allowed two hits, a single off of Durbin by Furcal and a single off of Madson by Garciaparra, and three walks. Everyone should be well-rested by Sunday with today’s off day.

The LA pen went 5 2/3 innings without allowing a run. They allowed three hits and five walks. McDonald was particularly impressive, throwing 3 1/3 innings and striking out five while allowing two hits and a walk. McDonald threw 60 pitches in the game, which may keep him off the field on Sunday. The LA starter Billingsley only threw 59. Kershaw threw 18 pitches in relief, suggesting that we may see Maddux rather than Kershaw starting game four.

Neither bullpen has been charged with a run in the series. They have combined to throw 14 2/3 innings.

The Phillies lineup against righty Chad Billingsley went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Werth (7) Dobbs (8) Ruiz. Dobbs at third, getting his second start of the post-season. Burrell gets the start in left on his 32nd birthday. Ruiz catches again. Coste was behind the plate for the Phillies most often when Myers started, he was catching for about 77% of the batters that Myers faced this year.

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

Rollins led off the first and went down swinging 2-2. Victorino lined the first pitch of his at-bat into right, where Ethier took it for the second out. Utley walked on five pitches, putting a man on first for Howard. Howard flailed at the first two pitches before Billingsley delivered ball one in the dirt. He struck out swinging at a 1-2 breaking ball to end the inning.

Billingsley struck out Burrell and then Werth to start the second. Dobbs was next and he hit a weird flair that dropped right behind second base and went for a single. Ruiz was next and he ripped a 2-1 pitch into the gap in left-center. The ball rolled all the way to the wall for a double, allowing Dobbs to score from first and tie the game at 1-1. Myers was swinging at the first pitch of his at-bat and singled into center, plating Ruiz to put the Phils up 2-1. Rollins was next and he singled into center. Myers rounded second and headed for third, where he would have been out by a lot, by Kemp bobbled the ball in center and Myers was safe at third and Rollins able to move up to second. Kemp was charged with an error on the play and it was a big one, cause Victorino was next and he singled into center, scoring both runners and putting the Phillies up 4-1. Utley walked to put men on first and second, but Howard left them stranded. He struck out looking 1-2 to end the inning.

Huge bobble in center by Kemp, who probably would have thrown Myers out at third and ended the inning without the bobble. With two outs, Dobbs gets it started and the Phils go single, double, single, single, single, walk, strikeout.

Burrell singled to start the third with the Phils up 4-2. He went to third when Werth doubled into the corner in left. Dobbs was walked intentionally to load the bases for Ruiz. Ruiz hit a ground ball to first and Loney came home to force Burrell for the first out. Myers was next and again hit the first pitch of his at-bat, lining a ball between a diving Loney and the first base line. Werth and Dobbs scored, putting the Phils up 6-2, and Ruiz took third. Chan Ho Park took over for Billingsley and struck out Rollins for the second out. Victorino was next and he lined a 2-2 pitch into right, where Ethier took a bizarre angle on the ball and it got passed the right fielder. Victorino stormed around the bases for a triple. Two more runs scored and the Phils led 8-2. Lefty Joe Beimel came in to pitch, and walked both Utley and Howard. It loaded the bases for Burrell and righty James McDonald came in to pitch to him. Burrell struck out looking at a 1-2 pitch.

Great inning for the Phils, but both Ruiz and Rollins were unable to bring a runner in from third with less than two outs. Beimel did not do well with his first chance of the series against the Phillies lefties.

McDonald struck out Werth to start the fourth before Dobbs singled. Ruiz grounded to short for the second out with Dobbs forced at second. For the third time in the game, Myers swung at the first pitch and got a hit. This one was a dribbler down the third base line that moved Ruiz to second. Rollins struck out swinging at a 3-2 pitch to end the inning.

With the lead cut to 8-5, Victorino flew to right for the first out of the fifth before Utley walked on four pitches. Howard grounded to first for the second out with Utley moving to second. McDonald got Burrell swinging again to set the Phils down.

McDonald threw a 1-2-3 sixth, getting Werth on a fly ball to center, Dobbs swinging and Ruiz on a ground ball to second.

Clayton Kershaw threw a 1-2-3 seventh. He got Feliz to fly to right, Rollins on a strikeout swinging with Martin throwing to first to record the out and Victorino on a popup to short.

Kershaw returned to start the eighth to pitch to Utley and Howard. He got them both, getting Utley on a fly ball to center and Howard on a fly ball to left. Bruntlett, who had entered in the top of the inning to play left, drew a walk. Cory Wade came in to pitch to Werth and lined to third on an 0-2 pitch.

The LA pen has thrown 8 2/3 innings in the series. Wade and Broxton have combined to get one out. It’s worked out great for them, but I’m surprised they didn’t use those guys more with the off day today.

Rollins was 1-for-5, struck out four times and left four men on base. 1-for-9 with seven men left on base in the series.

Victorino 2-for-5 with a triple and four RBI. 2-for-9 in the series.

Utley 0-for-1 with four walks in the game. 2-for-5 with a home run in the series.

Howard 0-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts and four men left on base. 0-for-8 in the first two games.

Burrell 1-for-4 with three strikeouts and four men left on base. 3-for-7.

Werth 1-for-5 with a double and two strikeouts. 1-for-8.

Dobbs 2-for-3 in the game and in the set. Feliz 0-for-1 in the game and 0-for-3 with a walk in the series.

Ruiz 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI. 3-for-7 in the series.

No game today. Jamie Moyer (16-7, 3.71) faces righty Hiroki Kuroda (9-10, 3.73) in game three on Sunday night. The 33-year-old Kuroda pitched well for the Dodgers this season and was especailly effective down the stretch. In 11 starts in August and September, Kuroda went 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.04 ratio. In 14 starts after the All-Star break to end the regular season, Kuroda allowed just three home runs in 78 1/3 innings.

He doesn’t give up the walk. Hasn’t walked more than two batters in a game in any of his last 18 starts.

He started game three of the NLDS in LA, which the Dodgers won 3-1, and held the Cubs to six hits and two walks over 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

The Phillies faced him twice this season and Kuroda handled them both times, holding them to two earned runs over 13 innings (1.38 ERA) while allowing just four hits and two walks (0.46 ratio) and striking out 12. The Phillies hit .095 against him. On August 14 he got the win in LA, holding the Phils to a run on two hits, doubles by Werth and Utley, over seven innings as the Dodgers won the game 3-1. On August 24, Feliz hit a three-run homer off of Jason Johnson in the bottom of the eleventh to win the game, but again Kuroda pitched well. He went six innings, allowing two singles and two walks.

Rollins, Howard and Burrell combined to go 0-for-16 against him this season. Ruiz was 1-for-2 with a double and Werth 1-for-4 with a double. Utley 2-for-6 with a double.

After fantastic performances in critical games for the Phils in 2007 and 2008, Moyer finally had a bad start in game three of the NLDS. He lasted just four innings before the Phils hit for him in the top of the fifth in Milwaukee, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks. He pitched a little worse than his line, needing 90 pitches to get through four frames.

Moyer was dramatically better away from home this season. He threw to a 4.61 ERA with a 1.47 ratio in 16 starts away from Citizens Bank Park with going 10-3 with a 2.92 ERA and a 1.20 ratio in 17 starts away.

Moyer didn’t face the Dodgers this season. Ramirez has seen him a lot over his career, though, and the numbers are ugly: 18-for-53 with ten homers (340/417/962). Blake 2-for-17 (.118). Ethier, Kemp, Loney and Martin all have less than five at-bats against him.


Data on Phillies’ fans as front-runners questioned due to really tiny sample size

The Phillies have gone 3-6 over their last nine games. They won two of three against the Pirates, were swept by the Dodgers in a four-game set and have split the first two against the Padres.

Their miserable run has cost them the lead in the NL East. They start the day at 65-58, two games behind the Mets in the division. They’ve scored 30 runs in their last nine games, three or less in five of the nine. Three or less in the last three. They’ve lost five of six and the game they won they needed seven shutout innings from their starter and scored one run.

The Phils split the first two games in the set with Pittsburgh despite getting two excellent starts. Blanton allowed one hit and two walks over seven scoreless innings in the first game. Walrond was hit hard in the top of the 12th and the Pirates scored two runs to break up the scoreless tie. Pittsburgh won the game 2-0. Myers held Pittsburgh to a single run in the second game and pitched into the eighth. Rollins went 4-for-4 with a stolen base and Victorino was 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI to pace the offense as the Phils won 4-2. Down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh in game three, the Phils scored four unanswered runs to come out with a 6-3 win. Utley’s two-run shot in the seventh put the Phils up to stay. Scott Eyre made his Phillies’ debut as the pen went three scoreless innings in relief of Moyer.

And then the Phils dropped four in a row to the Dodgers. Kendrick got lit up in the first game, unable to get out of the fourth inning. The fourth ended with the Phils down 7-1. They outscored the Dodgers 5-1 the rest of the way but still came up on the short end of an 8-6 score. Howard took an 0-for-5 on the day but drove in two runs to give him 100 on the season.

The Phils jumped out to an early 3-1 lead behind Hamels in game two, but Durbin gave up a run in the eighth on a hit, a walk, a hit batter and a sac fly to tie the game at 3-3. Romero pitched the ninth hit Russell Martin to start the inning. Martin scored two batters later on a single by Andre Ethier to give the Dodgers a 4-3 win.

The Phils led 6-1 in the third in game three, but Blanton couldn’t make it hold up. He left charged with four runs on nine hits and three walks. With the game tied at 6-6 in the bottom of the ninth it was Condrey who gave it up for good this time — Nomar hit a 2-1 pitch out to left to give LA a 7-6 win.

One run for the Phils in game four as they fell 3-1. The Phils had two hits in the game, doubles by Utley and Werth, as the three runs the Dodgers scored charged to Myers proved to be enough.

On Friday, Jamie Moyer was fantastic. He held the Padres to three hits and two walks over seven shutout innings. Pat Burrell gave the Phils the only run they needed with a solo shot off of San Diego starter Greg Maddux in the seventh. Lidge pitched for the first time in a week and nailed down the save as the Phils won 1-0.

Last night Kendrick got blasted again. He allowed six runs on six hits and five walks over 3 2/3 innings and the Phillies never recovered. They have five singles and a double in the game and lost 8-3. Over his last two starts Kendrick has gone seven innings, allowing 13 runs on 15 hits and eight walks. His ERA for the year is at 5.01.

Seemingly minor injuries to Dobbs, Victorino and Lidge would be the rest of the recent story had it not been for Jimmy Rollins’ comments on Philadelphia fans. Whether you agree with him or not, Phillies’ fans don’t have a whole lot of experience as front-runners. Maybe he was talking about the four days they had a share of the division-lead in 2007. Either way, Jimmy Rollins has to know he can’t beat the fans. He’s outnumbered. And if he’s going to tell fans that he has given the same effort in 2008 as he did in 2007 and 2006 I’m willing to believe him given what he’s done for the Phillies in recent years. But he needs to understand that that sure isn’t the way it has looked.

Charlie Manuel may be the guy with the biggest problem. Cause if he can’t get the most out of his players he’s just a guy who pinch-runs for Burrell in the seventh, blows out his bullpen and lets Abraham Nunez on the field. This year there’s been more than one guy on his team whose actions seem to suggest he’s a little baffled that everyone isn’t more overjoyed the Phils got swept out of the playoffs by Colorado last season. Sadly for Manuel, he seems like the ringleader of the group of Phillies that understand they haven’t won anything yet. Haven’t won anything for a long time.

At this point, I think most of us would settle for a game.

Update 8/18/08: Well, it took another fantastic pitching performance, but the Phils won last night. They beat the Padres 2-1 to take the series two games to one.

They scored three runs in the two games they won and six in the set. With the win they are 66-58 on the season.

Hamels went eight strong innings for the Phils. He allowed a run on seven hits, all of which were singles. He struck out three and didn’t walk a batter.

Jimmy Rollins created a run for the Phils in the first when he singled, stole second and went to third on a throwing error by the catcher. He came in to score on a sac fly by Werth. Burrell put the Phils up 2-0 with a home run in the sixth. San Diego scored one in the bottom of the sixth but couldn’t get any more. After Hamels went eight, Lidge nailed down his 30th save of the year in the ninth.

No game today. The Phils play the Nats on Tuesday.


Phils have the right Manuel for the job

Charlie Manuel has managed five full seasons and in each of those seasons his team has played over .500 in the second half. In four of the five his team has played to a better winning percentage after the All-Star break than they did before the All-Star break. It’s enough to make you wonder if pinch-running for Pat Burrell in the sixth, 322 at-bats for Abraham Nunez and turning Brett Myers into a DL-bound reliever is the way to go.

Here’s what Manuel’s teams have done in the five years he’s managed before and after the All-Star break:


Year

Team

Before AS

After AS

TOTAL
2000 CLE 44-42 (.512) 46-30 (.605) 90-72 (.556)
2001 CLE 49-36 (.576) 42-35 (.545) 91-71 (.562)
2005 PHI 45-44 (.455) 43-30 (.589) 88-74 (.543)
2006 PHI 40-47 (.460) 45-30 (.600) 85-77 (.525)
2007 PHI 44-44 (.500) 45-29 (.608) 89-73 (.549)
         
TOTAL CLE/PHI 222-213 (.510) 221-154 (.589) 443-367 (.547)

The record after the All-Star break with the Phillies is particularly impressive. In his three full seasons with the team the Phillies are 133-89 after the break (.600).

The Mets’ Jerry Manuel has also had success after the break. Jerry Manuel has managed six full seasons, all with the White Sox. In four of those his team played to a better winning percentage after the break.


Year

Team

Before AS

After AS

TOTAL
1998 CWS 35-51 (.407) 45-31 (.592) 80-82 (.494)
1999 CWS 42-43 (.494) 33-43 (.463) 75-86 (.466)
2000 CWS 55-32 (.632) 40-35 (.533) 95-67 (.586)
2001 CWS 41-44 (.482) 42-35 (.545) 83-79 (.512)
2002 CWS 42-46 (.477) 39-35 (.527) 81-81 (.500)
2003 CWS 45-49 (.478) 41-27 (.603) 86-76 (.531)
         
TOTAL CWS 260-265 (.495) 240-206 (.538) 500-471 (.515)

The 1999 White Sox are the most curious thing there, going a miserable 33-43 after the break after playing a game under .500 in the first half. In Jerry Manuel’s defense, it’s tough to win when you give 55 starts to guys that end the season with an ERA over 6.00 (Jamie Navarro (27), John Snyder (25) and Aaron Myette (3)).

In other news, there’s nothing wrong with the Mets/Phillies rivalry that Chase Utley muttering an expletive in the general direction of booing fans in New York can’t fix. The phrase he chose, to borrow from Dave Barry, rhymes with “duck shoe.” Good news for Jimmy Rollins, at least, who could use the break.


The Phils suddenly can’t hit, but Hamels takes no offense

If nothing else, at least now we know how the Phils are going to have to pitch if they’re going to win games while they’re hitting like this. Last night it took a shutout. Cole Hamels gave the Phillies his second straight brilliant outing, striking out 11 and allowing four hits in seven innings. Gordon and Lidge combined to contribute a pair of scoreless frames.

One run for the Phils, who have now scored nine times in their last four games. Of the three players that hit 3-4-5 just about every day for the Phils, using OPS as the measure Ryan Howard is having the best May. He’s hitting 200/278/471 this month (Utley 229/321/414 and Burrell 203/368/373).

If you’re looking for the offensive silver lining from last night, it’s that one of the biggest hits for the Phils came off the bat of the scuffling Pedro Feliz. Feliz ripped a double into left to start the ninth. Bruntlett ran for him and scored what would be the only run of the game when pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs muscled a single into center field two batters later.

The Phillies beat the Washington Nationals last night, winning 1-0 to improve to 25-22 on the year. With the win they snap their three-game losing streak.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and two walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out 11, which ties his high for the season.

Over his last two starts Hamels has allowed eight hits and four walks in 16 scoreless innings while striking out 17.

Cristian Guzman singled with one out in the first. Ryan Zimmerman was next and flew to the warning track in left for the second out. With Dmitri Young at the plate, Guzman tried to steal second but took off too early. Hamels threw to first, but Howard’s throw to second was terrible, on the shortstop side of second base. Rollins, backing up, caught the ball and saved Howard the error, but it was a miserable throw. Young grounded out on a nice play by Feliz deep at third to end the inning.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 second.

He struck out Elijah Dukes and the pitcher Jason Bergmann to start the third before Felipe Lopez walked. Guzman grounded to third for the third out.

Zimmerman and Young started the fourth with back-to-back singles. It put men on first and second for Milledge. Milledge flew to right for the second out and Zimmerman moved to third. Hamels struck out Jesus Flores for the second out and Wily Mo Pena flew to center to end the inning.

Big strikeout of Flores for Hamels with one out and a man on third.

Hamels struck out Dukes, Bergmann and Lopez in a 1-2-3 fifth.

He threw a 1-2-3 sixth.

Pena doubled to left with two outs in the seventh and Dukes followed with a walk. Righty Aaron Boone hit for Bergmann and Hamels struck him out swinging at a 1-2 pitch to end the inning.

Gordon started the eighth. Guzman singled with one out. Zimmerman followed with a ground ball back to the pitcher and Guzman was forced at second for the second out. Young walked to put men on first and second, but Milledge grounded to third for the third out.

Lidge started the ninth with a 1-0 lead. He struck Flores out swinging and Pena out swinging. Dukes was next and Lidge walked him on a 3-2 pitch in the dirt. Dukes stole second on a 1-2 pitch to Mackowiak, putting the trying run in scoring position. Dukes took third on the 2-2 pitch that was high before Lidge walked Mackowiak. Willie Harris ran for Mackowiak at first with Lopez at the plate. Lopez hit the first pitch of his at-bat to second. Utley juggled but threw to first in time to get Lopez and end the game. Lopez didn’t run hard out of the box, but probably would have been out even if he had — when Utley bobbled the ball went up in the air and he caught it right away.

After Bruntlett ran for Feliz in the top of the ninth and Dobbs pinch-hit for Gordon, Bruntlett and not Dobbs played third in the bottom of the ninth. Haven’t seen much of Bruntlett at third, but I’m guessing that was a nice call by Manuel. Also nice to see Hamels leave before the eighth despite the great outing — not sure exactly when the bill is going to come due for all the work Hamels has gotten, but I am sure it’s going to be before the end of the season. Hamels threw 110 pitches last night after throwing 120 his previous start.

Gordon and Lidge combined to throw two scoreless innings, but allowed a hit and three walks. Twenty pitches for Gordon and 22 for Lidge, so there’s a chance the Phils may try to stay away from Gordon tonight if they can.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Jason Bergmann went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Jenkins in right against the righty with Victorino in center and Werth on the bench. Feliz stays at third. Ruiz catches.

Utley doubled with two outs in the first. Howard followed with a walk, but Burrell fouled out to the catcher to leave them both stranded.

Jenkins started the second with a bloop single into center. Feliz flew out to center for the first out. Ruiz struck out and Hamels grounded to first.

Victorino walked with one out in the third and stole second (but just barely on a close play). Utley and Howard both struck out to end the frame.

Jenkins singled with one out in the fourth. Feliz popped out and Ruiz flew to right.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the fifth and again in the sixth.

With one out in the seventh, Feliz and Ruiz singled back-to-back. It put men on first and second for Hamels. Hamels hit for himself having thrown 90 pitches and put down a pretty bunt that moved the runners to second and third with two down. Rollins was walked intentionally to load the bases, but Victorino lined to center to end the frame.

With two outs in the eighth, Burrell walked and Werth ran for him at first. Jenkins popped to second for the third out.

Feliz led off the ninth and ripped a double down the line in left. Bruntlett ran for him at second. Ruiz bunted Bruntlett to third. With righty Jon Rauch on the mound, Dobbs hit for Gordon and blooped a single into center. Bruntlett scored to put the Phillies up 1-0. Rollins flew to left for the second out before Victorino hit a ball in the gap to left-center. Milledge got to the ball after a long run and relayed to Guzman as Dobbs rounded third and tried to score. Guzman’s throw was perfect on a bounce and the ball arrived as Dobbs slid into home. Very close play, but Dobbs was out because Flores blocked the plate beautifully.

Rollins was 0-for-4.

Victorino 1-for-4 with a double and stole a base.

Utley 1-for-4 with a double.

Howard was 0-for-3 with a walk and struck out three times. He’s on pace to strike out 234 times this season.

Burrell 0-for-3 with a walk. Howard and Burrell are a combined 0-for-14 with six strikeouts in the first two games of the set.

Jenkins was 2-for-4. He’s 6-for-his-last-11 and hitting 317/341/439 in May.

Feliz was 2-for-4 with a huge double in the ninth.

Ruiz 1-for-3.

Jamie Moyer (3-3, 4.89) faces lefty Matt Chico (0-5, 6.07) tonight. Chico has made ten appearances for the Nationals this season, seven of which have been starts. The last three times he has pitched has been in relief. In those three relief appearances he’s been good, charged with just one run in 6 1/3 innings. In his seven starts he’s thrown to a 6.87 ERA. He’s allowed four or more runs in five of his seven starts. Overall on the season opponents are hitting .324 against him and he’s allowed seven home runs in 43 innings. He started against the Phils on March 31, opening day for the Phils, and allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings. Moyer has two wins in his last three starts. In the two games he won he gave the Phils his longest outings of the season — he went seven against the Snakes on May 5 and 6 2/3 against the Blue Jays Friday night. Righties are hitting .348 against him on the season and he’s allowed seven home runs overall on the year in 49 2/3 innings. His home run rate is down from 2007 but one of the big keys to his success this season is still going to be keeping the ball in the yard. He started against the Nats on April 3 of this year and allowed six runs, only three of which were earned, on nine hits over 3 2/3 innings.


Blast from the Pat

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.


Turns out if you play for one run what you often get is Nunez grounding out to end the game a few innings later

The Phils couldn’t have won a one-run game last year if they had read a book about why not to pinch-run for Pat Burrell in the sixth inning. How bad was it? Pretty bad. Here’s the overall record, record in one-run games, non one-run games and the difference in winning percentage in non-one run games and one-run games for the teams in the NL East in 2007:

Team Overall 1-run Not
1-run
Diff
PHI 89-73 (.549) 14-23 (.378) 75-50 (.600) .222
NYM 88-74 (.543) 22-15 (.595) 66-59 (.528) -.067
ATL 84-78 (.519) 18-25 (.419) 66-53 (.555) .136
WAS 73-89 (.451) 27-24 (.529) 46-65 (.414) -.115
FLA 71-91 (.438) 22-24 (.478) 49-67 (.422) -.056

Overall, the Mets and Marlins were pretty close to the same in one-run games and games decided by more than one run. The Nats had a much better winning percentage in one-run games. The Phils were awful and the Braves were bad too, just not as bad as the Phillies.

Along with the Mets, the Phils played the fewest one-run games in the division last season (37). The Nationals played the most with 51. This also means the Phils played the most non-run games in the division along with the Mets. In non one-run games, the Phils dominated the division, playing to a .600 winning percentage.

If I were to guess about the primary problems for the Phils in one-run games my top two would be the terrible bullpen and the insistence on replacing good players with bad ones that were better defensively late in games. The Phils’ pen was certainly miserable, but looking at the teams in the NL East, the Braves also struggled in one run games and their bullpen was far better (second best in the NL by ERA). The Marlins bullpen was weak and they fared better in one-run games than they did overall. By ERA, the Reds had the worst bullpen ERA in the league last season and they went 26-24 in their one-run games, a .520 winning percentage that was far better than their .444 winning percentage overall for the season. So while the bullpen is surely a factor, it’s not the only one.

Whatever the answer, it’s something the Phils are going to need to fix in 2008. By a wide margin, using winning percentage as the measure they were the worst team in the NL in one-run games in 2007. The Braves were second worst with their .419. The Pirates, who went 16-22 for a .421 winning percentage, were third worst. One of the reasons it would be a nice thing to figure out is that the Mets are just so effective in one-run games. Over the past two seasons they Phils have gone 36-46 in one-run games while the Mets have gone 53-31.

Yesterday the Phils got seven strong innings from Brett Myers and beat the Reds 6-2 to improve to 6-12 in spring training. Myers allowed two runs on five singles and didn’t walk a batter. Madson followed Myers and allowed a single in a scoreless eighth. Blackley pitched the ninth and walked one but didn’t allow a hit or a run. With his nice outing, Blackley has his ERA down to 8.22 as he continues his bid for the opening day roster.

Dobbs had the only extra-base hit for the Phils, a double. He was 1-for-3 on the day. Snelling was 1-for-1 with a walk and two RBI. His numbers are suddenly up to 292/393/417 for the spring. Helms was 1-for-2 to raise his average to .300. Rollins’ slow spring continued as he went 0-for-3 with a strikeout to drop his average to .158. Jenkins was also 0-for-3 with a strikeout and is hitting .136.

The Phils play Cleveland this afternoon.

Looks like there may be something going on with Shane Victorino, who is hitting 231/250/333 this spring, and Charlie Manuel. In this article Manuel says that the Phillies miss Aaron Rowand’s leadership and that some guys can’t police themselves. This after Manuel said that just because you’re a regular player doesn’t mean you always will be.

This reminds that the Phils almost took Rocco Baldelli over Chase Utley in the 2000 draft.

Lots of Phils’ players are unfazed by their miserable spring. Manuel seems a little more fazed.


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