Tag: Dodgers

Only the names, and the fact that the Dodgers are much, much better now, have changed

If it seems like you’ve seen the NLCS between the Phils and Dodgers before it’s because you have. A lot has changed over the past year, though, and the most important among them is that the Dodgers have gotten a lot better. After going 84-78 in 2008, the Dodgers posted the best record in the NL in 2009 at 95-67.

The wins aren’t the only thing that improved for LA this year. Here’s a look at the runs scored by the Dodgers and Phils for this year and 2008:


Team

Runs Scored

NL Rank

’09 LA

780
4

’09 PHI

820
1
     

’08 LA

700

13

’08 PHI

799
3

The Phillies hit in both years compared to the other teams in the National League. The Dodgers were third in runs scored this year, but thirteenth in 2008.

LA was fantastic at preventing runs in both ’08 and ’09. The Phillies allowed 29 more runs in ’09 than they did in ’08 and their rank in the NL dropped from third to sixth:


Team

Runs Allowed

NL Rank

’09 LA

611

T-1

’09 PHI

709
6
     

’08 LA

648
1

’08 PHI

680
3

In 2008 the Phillies scored 799 runs and allowed 680. So they scored 119 more runs than they allowed. In ’09 they scored 820 and allowed 709, which is the difference of a pretty similar 111.

The Dodgers, on the other hand, scored 700 and allowed 648 in 2008, for a difference of 52 runs. This year they scored 780 and allowed 611, which is the difference of a pretty dissimilar 169.

I don’t think there’s much of an argument to be made that the Phillies were better than the Dodgers in 2009. They weren’t. The Dodgers were better. What I’m not sure about is how much it matters. A big part of why the Dodgers were better for the year is that they went 35-17 in April and May. That’s pretty awesome, but it’s also a long time ago. The Phillies are World Champs and if you watched game four of the NLDS it’s a little hard to deny that their magic is alive and well.

At the same time, the Dodgers won more games than the Phillies this year. Their offense was a little worse than the Phillies, but still among the best in the league, while their pitching was much better. They come off an impressive sweep of the Cardinals. They went 4-3 against the Phillies this year without a single plate appearance from Manny Ramirez.

I do think the Phillies will win the series, but it is going to be a tight one.

Here’s a look back at the series from last year:

Hamels started game one last year against Derek Lowe. The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead into the sixth, but Victorino led off the bottom of the sixth and hit a ground ball to Furcal and Furcal threw it away. Utley followed with a home run to tie the game at 2-2 and Burrell hit a solo shot two batters later, putting the Phils on top to stay at 3-2.

Brett Myers and Chad Billingsley faced off in game two. Myers threw behind Manny in the first inning and a Loney double in the second helped put LA up 1-0. A Myers single helped the Phillies score four times in the bottom of the inning to go ahead 4-1. Loney had another big hit off of Myers in the third, an RBI-single that made it 4-2. The Phils extended their lead to 8-2 with four more runs in the bottom of the third, which featured Chan Ho Park striking out Rollins for the second out of the inning. That should have been it for the game, but LA got back into it in the top of the fourth. With two outs and nobody on, Furcal struck out for what should have been the third out of the inning. Ruiz didn’t block the ball, though, and Furcal was safe at first. Martin followed with a single before Manny hit a three-run homer to make it 8-5. The lead stood up for the Phils, thanks to Durbin, Romero, Lidge and Madson, who combined to throw four shutout innings.

Game three was the game the Phillies lost, falling 7-2 in LA. Moyer got the start and the Dodgers scored five times against him in the bottom of the first. Five of the first six Dodgers hitters to face Moyer reached base before he struck out Kemp for the second out of the inning with the bases loaded. He looked like he was going to get out of it down 2-0, but Blake DeWitt cleared the bases with a three-run triple that made it 5-0. A leadoff double by Howard helped the Phils cut the lead to 5-1 in the top of the second, but Moyer didn’t make it out of the bottom of the second. Furcal led off the bottom of the second with a homer that made it 6-1. Nomar Garciaparra extended the lead to 7-1 with an RBI-single off of Happ in the bottom of the fourth. Burrell drove in Utley with a single in the seventh for the Phillies other run.

Coming off of Myers throwing behind Ramirez in game one, LA starter Hiroki Kuroda threw a ball near the head of Shane Victorino in game three. It led to a bench-clearing incident after Victorino grounded out to end the inning.

Game four changed the series thanks to a late home run from Matt Stairs. Utley and Howard drove in runs off of Lowe in the top of the first, giving the Phils a 2-0 lead. Blake homered off of Blanton in the bottom of the first, cutting the lead to 2-1. Blanton protected the one-run lead until LA hit in the bottom of the fifth. Furcal led off with a walk and moved to second when Ethier followed with a bloop single. Ramirez followed with an RBI-single (2-2) and a ground out by Martin brought in Ethier to make it 3-2. Howard led off the sixth with a walk and came in to score on a wild pitch by Park to tie the game at 3-3. Blake led off the bottom of the sixth with a homer off of Durbin, though, making it 4-3, and a throwing error by Howard on a bunt by Furcal helped the Dodgers score another run to extend the lead to 5-3. That score held till the top of the eighth, when Howard led off with a single. Victorino followed two batters later and lined a ball out to right off of Corey Wade, tying the game at 5-5. Feliz flew out for the second out, but Ruiz delivered a two-out single off of Jonathan Broxton and Stairs followed and connected for a mammoth homer to put the Phils up 7-5. Romero and Lidge kept LA off the board in the eighth and the ninth.

It was hard to imagine LA coming back from Stairs dagger. They didn’t. Hamels outpitched Billingsley in game five with the Phillies winning 5-1. Rollins was the first batter of the game and he put the Phils up 1-0 with a home run to center. Howard and Burrell had RBI-singles in the third, making it 3-0. Furcal had an inning to forget in the fifth, making three errors as the Phils extended the lead to 5-0. Manny Ramirez homered off of Hamels with two outs in the sixth to get LA their only run of the game.

Kendrick and Myers are off the Phillies roster for the NLCS and have been replaced by Chan Ho Park and Eric Bruntlett. Bruntlett and Cairo are a lot of similar guys to have on your roster, especially since it means going with 11 pitchers. I think that’s a bad decision — I would rather have seen them carry 12 pitchers and just one of Bruntlett and Cairo given the bullpen struggles and the fact that I would be pretty worried about Park since he hasn’t pitched for the Phils since September 16.

On the other hand, if they weren’t comfortable with letting Kendrick pitch they shouldn’t have him on the roster. You should try to have 12 pitchers in your organization you feel okay about putting into a game, though. Cairo and Bruntlett both is a lot of Cairos and Bruntletts. Condrey and Walker sure must be wondering what is going on.

My guess is that the thinking here may be to try to put another right-handed bat on the bench out of fear of the lefties in the bullpen for the Dodgers, Kuo and Sherrill. Those guys are scary, but if that’s the reasoning I think the Phils may have overthought this one. If it is about putting another righty on the bench, I wonder if they considered Mayberry instead of Bruntlett. It sure seems like he would provoke a bit more worry in the Dodgers since he can hit the ball out of the yard.

This article suggests Pedro Martinez may start game two. I am hoping for Blanton and Pedro in game four. Blanton was 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.29 ratio in three post-season starts in the post-season in 2008. Manuel’s seeming reluctance to start him is curious to me. It no doubt has a lot to do with fear of his bullpen, but I’d just let him start.

There have been many technical problems with Philliesflow over the past few days. If the site goes down again for a long period of time, I may post at philliesflow.wordpress.com and would let people know where to find the site via the Philliesflow Twitter page.


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.


And if someone can just tell Fonzie we’re keeping the Liberty Bell, too, I think we can call that a wrap

Henry Winkler, best known from his years on Happy Days, read the Dodgers lineup on FOX to kick off game five of the NLCS. The diehard Dodger fan ended his reading by suggesting that Philadelphia could keep the Liberty Bell, but LA was taking the game. The Fonz is a pretty cool cat, but there was nobody in the stadium cooler than Cole Hamels last night. Hamels gave the Phils his third fantastic start of the post-season, holding LA to a run over seven innings. All Police Officer Kirk could manage off of him was a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth. And Kirk never could play short.

After the heart-breaking blast that Matt Stairs delivered the Dodgers in the eighth-inning of game three, there were a lot of people who saw the Phillies finishing off the series as a formality. Jimmy Rollins got it going pretty quickly, leading off the game, like he did when the Phillies won game four of the NLDS to beat the Brewers, with a home run. The Phillies scored two more in the third and another pair of runs in a fifth inning that featured three errors by Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal.

Five runs was more than Hamels would need. And when he departed after seven strong innings, Madson and Lidge looked just as fantastic as they have all post-season. After two shutdown frames last night, they’ve combined to throw 16 1/3 playoff innings in which they allowed two earned runs (1.10 ERA) on twelve hits and four walks (0.98 ratio) while striking out 16.

The Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers last night, winning 5-1 to take the NLCS four games to one. The Phils will play either the Red Sox or the Devil Rays in the World Series, which starts on Wednesday.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing a run on five hits and three walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a solo home run by Ramirez. Hamels struck out five.

Hamels has made three playoff starts for the Phillies in 2008, going 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA and an 0.82 ratio. In 22 innings he has struck out 22.

The Dodger lineup against Hamels went (1) Furcal (SS/S) (2) Ethier (RF/L) (3) Ramirez (LF/R) (4) Martin (C/R) (5) Loney (1B/L) (6) Blake (3B/R) (7) Kemp (CF/R) (8) DeWitt (2B/L). That’s the same lineup that faced Hamels in game one with Blake and Kemp switched in the six and seven holes.

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

Hamels started the first with a 1-0 lead and got Furcal to ground a 1-1 pitch to short for the first out. Ethier popped a fly ball into right for the second out before Ramirez walked on a 3-1 pitch outside. Martin grounded to third on a 2-2 pitch for the third out.

Fifteen pitches for Hamels in the first.

Loney singled into center on a 1-2 pitch to start the second. Blake flew to right for the first out before Kemp moved Loney to second with a single to right. DeWitt swung at the first pitch and hit into a double-play ball to second to end the inning. Ten pitches in the inning had Hamels at 25.

Pablo Ozuna hit for pitcher Chan Ho Park and tried to bunt for a hit, but Hamels took the ball and threw to first for the first out with the Phils up 3-0. Furcal popped to second and Ethier struck out swinging. Ten more pitches for Hamels. Thirty-five for the game.

Manny struck out the first pitch in the fourth and grounded to third. Martin grounded back to Hamels for the second out. Hamels struck Loney out on three pitches to end the inning. Just eight pitches in the inning for Hamels. 43.

Blake started the fifth with a single into center and moved to second when Kemp hit a 2-2 pitch into left field for another single. DeWitt was next and hit a 2-1 pitch hard, but right at Utley at second. Utley and Rollins turned the double-play, leaving Blake at third with two down. Kent hit for Greg Maddux and struck out swinging 0-2 to end the inning. Fifteen pitches in the inning and 58 for the game for Hamels.

Second time in the game Hamels got out of a jam by getting DeWitt to hit into a big double-play.

Furcal grounded to second for the first out of the sixth. Ethier was next and drove a 2-2 pitch to left field, but Burrell made a nice running catch near the corner for the second out. It left the bases empty for Manny and saved the Phils a run, cause Ramirez hit a 1-2 pitch out to right to cut the lead to 5-1. Martin was infuriated when he went down looking at a 3-2 pitch that may have been low. Twenty pitches for Hamels in the inning. 78.

Ramirez was 8-for-15 (533/682/1.067) in the series with two doubles, two home runs and seven walks.

Loney led off the seventh and hit an 0-1 pitch into center that Victorino took for the first out. Blake drove a ball into right center that Victorino caught just before he bumped into the wall. Hamels got ahead of Kemp 0-2, but walked him on a 3-2 pitch way low and outside. Nomar Garciaparra hit for the pitcher James McDonald and Hamels again got ahead of him 0-2 and couldn’t put him away, walking him on a high 3-2 pitch. Manuel came out to talk to Hamels and left him in the game to pitch to the righty Kent with the pitcher’s spot due to lead off the eighth for the Phils. Kent struck out looking at a 2-2 pitch on the outside corner. Twenty-six pitches in the inning for Hamels, 104 for he game.

Manuel almost never comes out to the mound without taking out the pitcher.

Madson started the eighth up 5-1. Furcal led off and shattered his bat hitting a soft liner that Utley made a diving catch on for the first out. Ethier popped a 1-0 pitch into right for the second out. Ramirez again hit with the bases empty. Madson threw a 1-0 fastball past a swinging Ramirez and then a high 1-1 fastball that Ramirez swung under. Ramirez hit a 2-2 pitch on the ground to the left of Rollins. The ball went off of Rollins’ glove and into center field for a single. Ramirez took second on defensive indifference as the count went 1-1 on Martin. Martin hit a slow check-swing roller to first. Howard took it to the bag to end the inning.

Fantastic inning for Madson, who was throwing unusually hard. Fox’s radar gun had him at 97 several times, which is way high for a guy usually topping out in the low 90′s.

Lidge started the ninth with a 5-1 lead. He got ahead of Loney 0-2 before Loney blooped a 2-2 pitch into center for a single. Blake flailed at a 1-1 slider and then flew to center on a 2-2 pitch for the first out. Kemp crushed a 2-0 pitch to straight away center, but Victorino took it just in front of the wall for the second out. Loney took second as Lidge delivered ball one to Garciaparra. Garciaparra popped a 3-2 pitch up foul down the third base line where Ruiz took it to send the Phillies to the World Series.

Two more scoreless innings for the Phillies pen. Both Madson and Lidge have a long time to rest.

Fantastic series for Phillies relievers as they allow three runs in 18 2/3 innings. One of the runs was unearned — two earned runs in 18 2/3 innings is an 0.96 ERA. They struck out 17.

Lidge and Madson carried the bulk of the weight. Madson threw five scoreless innings and Lidge didn’t allow a run in 4 1/3. Both of them looked just fantastic doing it, too. Romero, Eyre and Condrey combined to throw 4 1/3 scoreless innings as well. Romero made three appearances in which he didn’t allow a hit but walked three. Eyre made two appearances without allowing a hit but walking one while Condrey allowed a walk in 2/3 of an inning in the only game he pitched in. Happ pitched three innings in relief of Moyer in game three and allowed a run on four hits and two walks. Durbin was the guy who was hit hard. He made three appearances, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits and two walks over two innings.

The Dodger pen pitched well again last night, holding the Phils to two unearned runs over 6 1/3 innings. They were fantastic in the series with the notable exception of game four.

The Phillies lineup against righty Chad Billingsley went (1) Rollins (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Feliz gets the start at third with Dobbs on the bench this time, and Victorino hits sixth with Werth hitting second. Otherwise it’s the same lineup the Phillies used against Billingsley in game two.

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

Rollins led off the game and quickly got behind 0-2. Billingsley couldn’t put him away, though, and on the eighth pitch of the at-bat Rollins drove a 3-2 offering out to right-center to put the Phillies up 1-0. Werth followed with a walk on a 3-2 pitch that was high and outside, but Utley was next and hit a ground ball to first. Loney took it and tagged first, then threw to second. Werth went into Furcal hard, but Furcal tagged him out to complete the double-play. Furcal limped around after Werth’s slide, apparently with an injured left ankle, but stayed in the game. Howard grounded to first for the third out.

Burrell waived at an inside 1-2 pitch to start the second. Victorino followed with a strikeout of his own before Feliz lined a 2-1 pitch into left for a single. Ruiz flew to center to leave him stranded.

Hamels struck out swinging for the first out of the third. Rollins was next and he drew a walk on five pitches. Rollins stole second, just barely sliding in safely, as the count went 1-2 on Werth. Werth struck out swinging at a ball in the dirt for the second out. Utley walked on an inside 3-2 pitch to put men on first and second for Howard. Billingsley blew a 1-1 fastball past a swinging Howard, but delivered a 2-2 curveball that Howard drilled past Loney and into right field. Rollins scored from second to put the Phils up 2-0 with Utley going to third. Burrell followed and singled into right-center. Utley scored and Howard went to third with the Phils up 3-0. Billingsley’s 1-0 pitch to Victorino was in the dirt and under Martin’s glove. Howard held third and Burrell went to second. With first base now open and Victorino ahead 2-0, LA walked Victorino intentionally to load the bases for Feliz. Chan Ho Park came in to pitch to Feliz. Park got Feliz to ground to third to end the frame.

Greg Maddux started the fourth. Ruiz flew to right for the first out. Hamels struck out looking at a 2-2 pitch. Rollins struck out looking 2-2 as well to set the Phillies down.

Werth singled to left to start the fifth. Utley was next and he hit a ground ball to Loney at first. Loney would have had the double-play, but had trouble getting the ball out of his glove and his throw to second was a little slow. Werth was out at second, but Utley beat the relay and was safe at first. Howard moved Utley to second with a single to right and brought up Burrell with two men on and one out. Burrell hit a 1-2 pitch to short, where Furcal tried to backhand the ball but didn’t field it cleanly. It dropped out of his glove and onto his shoe and rolled away. Utley scored from second to make it 4-0. Furcal tracked the ball down and threw home, but his throw to the plate was wild. Two errors on the play by Furcal. Howard wound up on third and Burrell on second. Victorino was again walked intentionally, loading the bases for Feliz with one out. Feliz struck out swinging at a high 1-2 fastball for the second out. Ruiz hit a routine ground ball to short. This time Furcal fielded it fine but his throw to first was terrible, in the dirt for another error. Howard scored and it was 5-0. Just for giggles, Loney picked the ball up and threw it wildly in the direction of, well, I don’t know. It was sort of like he was torn between throwing it wildly to home and wildly into the Dodgers’ dugout and went with a tweener. Burrell had turned back to third thinking the play was over. Hamels grounded to first for the third out.

Two is too many times in a game to walk Victorino intentionally. Feliz had left six men stranded through five innings. Not a good inning for Furcal.

James McDonald started the sixth for the Dodgers. Rollins led off and tried to bunt for a hit and was thrown out by the pitcher. Werth grounded out to second for the second out. Utley struck out swinging 2-2 to end the frame.

McDonald walked Howard to start the seventh. Burrell swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and popped to third. Victorino singled into right and Howard moved to second. Just two men on for Feliz this time and he struck out. Martin threw to first after the strikeout and the ball hit Victorino in the ribs as the dove back to the base. Ruiz chopped to third to end the frame.

Eight men left on base for Feliz.

James McDonald threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Phils in the series, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out seven.

Lefty Joe Beimel started the eighth. Taguchi hit for Hamels and grounded to Blake, now playing second, for the first out. Cory Wade came in to pitch to Rollins. Rollins grounded to second as well. Werth grounded to third for the third out.

The Phillies do not have a good option when it comes to a right-handed pinch-hitter off the bench, as evidenced by Taguchi leading off the eighth.

Lefty Hong-Chih Kuo started the ninth for LA. Utley struck out trying to check his swing on a 2-2 pitch that was very high. Howard singled into right on a 3-1 pitch. Bruntlett was next, having entered in the seventh to play left, and hit into a double-play to end the frame.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a walk, a stolen base and a home run. The home run was the only extra-base hit in the game for the Phillies. 3-for-21 (.143) with a home run, two walks and eight strikeouts in the series. He on-based .217 at the top of the Phillies lineup.

Werth was 1-for-4 last night. 4-for-21 (190/227/238) with a double and a walk in the series. Struck out seven times.

Utley 0-for-4 with a walk. 6-for-17 (353/522/647) with two doubles, a home run and six walks in the series.

Howard 3-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. 6-for-20 (300/391/350) with a double and three walks in the series. Struck out just twice.

Burrell 1-for-4 with an RBI and a ground ball to Furcal in the game. 6-for-18 (333/368/500) with a home run, one walk and seven strikeouts in the series.

Victorino was 1-for-2 with two walks last night. 4-for-18 (222/300/500) with a triple, a home run and a team-high six RBI.

Feliz was 1-for-4 in the game and left eight men on base. 2-for-13 (154/214/154) with two singles in the series. He went 2-for-10 with San Francisco in the post-seasons of 2002 and 2003 and now has a career post-season line of 194/216/278 in 36 at-bats. Dobbs did not play last night but was 3-for-6 (500/571/667) with a double in the series.

Ruiz was 0-for-4 last night. 5-for-16 (313/353/375) with a double in the series. Coste was 1-for-1 in the series.

No game today. Game one of the World Series will be away for the Phillies, either in Boston or Florida.


StairsMaster

Game four of the NLCS started with the fantastic Dodger bullpen having shut down the Phillies completely. It didn’t end that way. LA took a 5-3 lead into the eighth, but Cory Wade, after throwing 33 pitches a day before, surrendered a two-run homer to Victorino with one out in the inning. Three batters later it was Jonathan Broxton on the mound facing grizzled veteran Matt Stairs and Stairs blasted Broxton’s 3-1 fastball deep into to the night to put the Phillies on top to stay.

Two huge home runs from a Phillies team that not only offers up the standard we’re-going-to-fight-for-27-outs but has been playing that way for a long time now. The Stairs home run was something special, though, something that’s going to be hard to erase from one’s mind if one were inclined to try. The Dodgers get an off-day to think about it and I’m not sure that’s going to make it any easier. It’s not just that the ball Stairs hit went out, it’s who he hit it off of and how far out it went. It left with room to spare, a little more than was necessary to make the point. Definitive and a little mean. While Victorino’s looping liner to right just barely left the yard, nearly scraping the top of the right field fence as it cleared, the one Stairs hit seemed stuck in time and space a little longer than physics should allow. It went out leaving you to wonder if you were ever going to see anyone hit a baseball harder. It’s impossible to win a seven game series by winning three games, but I think you’d also have a hard time getting much closer than the Phillies did last night.

That’s not to say the Dodgers are done. But I do think they’re going to need something momentous of their own if they’re going to get back into the series, something bigger even than what the Phillies got last night. And while that’s not impossible, it’s hard to imagine what it might look like.

Going by ERA, the Phillies bullpen was just a little better than the LA pen this season. Phils’ relievers threw to an NL-best 3.19 ERA while the Dodgers’ bullpen ERA was 3.33, second-best in the league. They were a little better last night, too. Led by Lidge, Madson and a fabulously timed double-play that Romero got Andre Ethier to hit into in front of Manny Ramirez in the eighth, the Phillies bullpen outpitched their counterparts from Los Angeles. Along with two big swings from Victorino and Stairs, it was the difference in the game.

The Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers last night, winning 7-5. With the win the Phils lead the best-of-seven series three games to one.

Joe Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and four walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out four.

Blanton faced a Dodgers lineup that went (1) Furcal (SS/S) (2) Ethier (RF/L) (3) Ramirez (LF/R) (4) Martin (C/R) (5) Loney (1B/L) (6) DeWitt (2B/L) (7) Blake (3B/R) (8) Pierre (CF/L). Pierre gets his first start of the series with Kemp on the bench. Martin hits cleanup after hitting second against Myers in game two.

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

Blanton started the first with a 2-0 lead. Furcal led off with a bunt that sailed over the head of a drawn in Dobbs for a single. Ethier was next and he grounded a 1-2 pitch to second. Utley tried to tag Furcal as he went by, then looked to flip to second and then threw to first to get DeWitt for the first out with Furcal safe at second. Blanton walked Ramirez intentionally to put men on first and second before he struck Martin out swinging at a 1-2 pitch. He had Loney deep in a hole but Loney drilled an 0-2 pitch off the wall in center. Furcal scored from second to cut the lead to 2-1 with Manny holding third. DeWitt hit a 2-2 pitch hard on a line, but right at Howard who took it to end the inning.

Furcal has been looking to bunt towards Dobbs whenever he has a chance. I would have walked Ramirez, too.

Twenty-one pitches in the inning for Blanton.

Blanton faced Blake to start the second and Blanton bunted the first pitch of his at-bat foul. Blake struck out looking at a 1-2 breaking ball. Pierre was next and laced a single into center. Lowe bunted the first pitch of his at-bat foul. Pierre took off on the next pitch and Lowe swung through the pitch for strike two. Ruiz’s throw beat Pierre to second and Rollins tagged him out for the second out. Lowe blooped the next pitch to center field. Rollins went out and tried to make an over-the-shoulder catch, but the ball went off the heel of his glove for a single. Furcal flew to center for the third out.

Thirteen more pitches for Blanton had him at 34 for the game.

Ethier grounded to second to start the third. Ramirez followed with a walk. Martin was next and grounded to short, but not hard enough to get the double-play. Rollins threw to second for the second out with Martin safe at first. Loney singled past a diving Utley for his second hit of the game, this one a single that send Martin to third. DeWitt swung at the first pitch and hit a soft fly ball into left that Burrell appeared to lose for a moment, but found and caught to end the inning. Sixteen pitches for Blanton, 50 for the game.

Blake struck out swinging 2-2 to start the fourth. Pierre lined a 2-2 pitch to Dobbs for the second out. Lowe went down looking for the third. Seventeen pitches for Blanton. 67.

Furcal led off the fifth and walked on a 3-2 pitch. Ethier was next and he blooped a 2-2 pitch into left-center for a single that sent Furcal to second. Manny was next and he roped the first pitch he saw into left. Burrell threw home as Furcal ran through the stop sign at third and slid in just safe to tie the game at 2-2. Ethier went to third and Ramirez took second. Martin was next and Blanton got ahead of him 1-2, but Martin grounded to short and Ethier came in to score and make it 3-2 with one out and Ramirez on second. Blanton walked Loney intentionally and stayed in to face the lefty DeWitt. DeWitt hit into a double-play to second to end the inning. After throwing 24 pitches in the inning, Blanton had thrown 91 for the game.

Durbin started the sixth with the game tied at 3-3. Temporarily. Blake led off and hit a 1-2 pitch out to left to put LA up 4-3. Pierre was next and he doubled into left-center. Matt Kemp hit for the pitcher Joe Beimel and wanted to bunt, but Durbin walked him. Eyre came in to pitch to Furcal. Furcal bunted up the first base line. Howard fielded, looked to third and then threw to first but wildly. The ball went off of Utley’s glove and Furcal took second. Pierre scored to make it 5-3. With men on second and third and still nobody out, Ethier lined softly to first for the first out. Eyre walked Ramirez intentionally to load the bases with one down for Martin. Madson came in to pitch to Martin. Martin lined a 1-2 pitch to Utley, who caught the ball and dove to tag second, just beating Kemp to the bag to double him off and end the inning.

Madson came back for the seventh. He got ahead of Loney 0-2 before ball one was way up and in. Loney went down swinging on the next pitch. The lefty DeWitt got ahead 3-0 and then walked on a 3-2 pitch. Blake followed with a single into left that sent DeWitt to second. The pitcher Kuo hit for himself and put a bunt down in front of home plate. Howard fielded and this time his throw to first was good enough to get the second out as the runners moved to second and third. Kemp lined an 0-1 pitch to center for the third out.

Romero started the eighth with a 7-5 lead. Furcal walked on five pitches. Ethier swung at the first pitch and chopped a ball back up the middle where Rollins fielded, tagged second and threw to first to complete the enormous double-play with Manny coming to the plate. Lidge came in to pitch to Ramirez. Lidge threw a 1-1 fastball past Ramirez. The 1-2 pitch was very close, but called a ball, maybe low. Ball three wasn’t close. Ramirez drove the 3-2 pitch into center where it landed in front of the warning track. Ramirez had a double and it brought Martin to the plate as the tying run. Martin struck out swinging at an 0-2 pitch in the dirt that Ruiz didn’t block. The ball bounced way away from Ruiz and Martin took first and Ramirez went to third. Loney fouled off two 1-2 pitches before he flew to Bruntlett in left to leave both runners stranded.

Lidge set the Dodgers down in order in the ninth with a two-run lead. Garciaparra flew to center on an 0-1 pitch. Lidge struck Blake out swinging 0-2. Jeff Kent hit for the pitcher Broxton and got ahead 2-1 before he smashed a ball to third where it was caught by Feliz to end the game.

Four innings for the pen in which they allow two runs, both of which were charged to Durbin. Madson and Lidge were fantastic and Romero got the huge double-play from Ethier in front of Manny in the eighth. Durbin continues to struggle, giving up a home run, a double and a walk without getting anybody out. Lidge threw 24 pitches, Madson 20, Durbin 14, Eyre 14 and Romero six. Everyone should be ready on Wednesday.

The Phillies finally got to the LA pen, Dodgers relievers were charged with six runs in four innings. They gave up six hits, including two home runs, and three walks. Broxton needed 30 pitches to throw 1 1/3 innings, but you have to assume he will be ready for game five.

Overall the Phillies walked eight hitters in the game. They have walked 22 in the first four games of the series.

The Phillies lineup against righty Derek Lowe went (1) Rollins (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Dobbs (8) Ruiz. Dobbs starts at third with Feliz on the bench. Werth and the slumping Victorino flop in the order.

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 singled into center. Lowe got behind Werth 3-0 before he got strike one over. With Rollins running, Werth singled into left on the 3-1 pitch. Rollins went all the way to third. Utley quickly got behind 0-2, but pulled the next pitch past a diving Loney and down the right field line for a double. Rollins scored to make it 1-0 with Werth going to third. Howard hit a slow ground ball to second with DeWitt playing in shallow right. DeWitt dropped the ball, but picked it up in time to throw out Howard. Werth scored to make it 2-0 and Rollins went to third. Burrell flailed and missed the first two pitches of his at-bat, but Lowe delivered four straight balls to walk him on a close 3-2 pitch that was just a tick outside. It put men on first an third with one down for Victorino. Victorino grounded into a double-play on an 0-1 pitch to set the Phillies down.

Dobbs led off the second with the Phils up 2-1 and plunked a double down the right field line. Ruiz was next and grounded an 0-2 pitch back to Lowe for the first out with Dobbs holding. Lowe struck Blanton out swinging on three pitches for the second out. Rollins swung at a 2-2 pitch that was way down and in before jack-knifing out of the way of strike three on the inside corner.

Werth chopped a ball to short for the first out of the third. Utley was next and singled into right on a 1-2 pitch. Howard lined a ball into center for the second out. Burrell hit a slow ground ball to third to leave Utley stranded.

Victorino flew to center on an 0-2 pitch to start the fourth. Dobbs flew to center on a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Ruiz hit a ball back up the middle that Furcal fielded but dropped behind second. Single for Ruiz, but Blanton struck out swinging on three pitches to leave him stranded.

Rollins grounded to second on the first pitch of the fifth inning. Werth grounded to second on a 3-2 pitch. Utley struck out looking 1-2.

Clayton Kershaw started the sixth with LA up 3-2. Howard walked on a low 3-2 pitch to start the inning. Burrell got ahead 3-0 and then hit a 3-2 pitch just under the glove of Furcal and into left for a single that moved Howard to second. Victorino bunted the runners to second and third with one down. Feliz hit for Dobbs and Chan Ho Park came in to pitch to him. Feliz popped a ball into short right field. DeWitt and Ethier nearly collided, but Ethier caught the ball for the second out and both runners had to hold. The first pitch to Ruiz was outside and in the dirt. Martin couldn’t block it and the ball bounced away, allowing Howard to come in and score, tying the game at 3-3. Burrell went to third on the play. Jenkins hit for Blanton and the lefty Beimel came in to pitch to him. Taguchi hit for Jenkins with two outs and men on first and third. Taguchi looped a ball into shallow right-center, but Ethier made a nice sliding catch to take it for the third out and leave both men stranded.

Hate bunting with Victorino, but if you wanted one run it worked. The Phillies have no good right-handed hitter on their bench, as evidenced by the at-bat by Taguchi.

Rollins led off the seventh with Hong-Chih Kuo pitching for LA. He shattered his bat grounding to short for the first out. Kuo did a little dance on the mound after he threw an 0-2 pitch past a swinging Werth for the second out. Utley struck out swinging at a high 0-2 fastball for the third out.

Howard led off the eighth and got ahead of Kuo 2-0 before he singled into center. Cory Wade came in to pitch to Burrell after throwing 33 pitches the night before. Burrell popped to Berroa, the new Dodger second baseman, for the first out. Victorino laced the first pitch of his at-bat out to right for a two-run homer that tied the game at 5-5. At least he didn’t bunt. Feliz hit it well, too, but flew to left for the second out. Ruiz was next and he singled into left. Stairs hit for Madson with the Dodgers out of lefties. Broxton came on to pitch to Stairs. He threw strike one down the middle past Stairs, but followed that up with three straight balls. The 3-1 pitch was right where strike one was, and Stairs absolutely crushed it way, way out to right. 7-5. Rollins was next and he walked on a 3-2 pitch. Rollins stole second as a called strike made the count 2-1 on Werth. Werth struck out swinging 2-2 to leave him stranded.

Broxton returned for the ninth and Utley led off with a single to right. Howard grounded to second, with Utley forced at second for the first out and Howard safe at first. Bruntlett was next after taking over for Burrell in left in the eighth, and he hit a ground ball to short. Howard was forced at second for the second out with Bruntlett safe at first. Victorino got behind and the Dodgers pitched out 0-2 as Bruntlett tried to steal second. Martin threw him out to set the Phillies down.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a walk. He’s 2-for-17 (.118) with two singles in the series. He has struck out seven times, which leads both teams.

Werth 1-for-5 and struck out twice. 3-for-17 (.176) in the series.

Utley 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI. 6-for-13 (.462) with five walks in the series. The Phillies have 13 walks in the series and Utley has five of them.

Howard 1-for-4 with a walk and an RBI. 3-for-16 (.188) with a double. Just two strikeouts

Burrell 1-for-3 with a walk. 5-for-14 (.357) with a home run in the series.

Victorino 1-for-3 with a two-run homer. 3-for-16 (.188) with a team-high six RBI in the series.

Dobbs 1-for-2 with a double in the game and 3-for-6 in the series. Feliz 0-for-2 in the game and 1-for-9 in the series.

Ruiz was 2-for-3 with a walk. Big hit in the eighth to extend the inning for Stairs. Ruiz is 5-for-12 (.417) in the series.

No game today.

Cole Hamels (14-10, 3.09) faces Chad Billingsley (16-10, 3.14) tomorrow night. Billingsley started game two against Myers and took the loss. The Phillies hit him hard, Billingsley was charged with eight runs in 2 1/3 innings. The Phils scored four times in the second inning after Billingsley set down the first two hitters in the inning. Ruiz had an RBI-double, Myers drove in a run with a single and Victorino delivered a two-run single. The Phillies scored four more times in the third, getting a two-run double down the right field line before Park relieved Billingsley and surrendered a two-run triple to Victorino.

Hamels started game one against Lowe and got the win. He allowed two runs on six hits over seven innings while striking out eight. Ethier and Ramirez hit back-to-back doubles in the first for the first run. The Dodgers scored again when Kemp led off the fourth with a check-swing double down the right field line.


Maybe it’s always sunny in Philadelphia, but we’re not in Philadelphia any more

Last night’s broadcast of game three of the NLCS in Los Angeles started out with Danny DeVito explaining that he was a Dodgers fan while he read the Phillies lineup. Things got stranger from there. Jamie Moyer got mauled, giving up five runs in the first inning. The Phils never bounced back and the Dodgers went on to win the game 7-2.

The game will most be remembered for a bench-clearing incident after the top of the third inning. After Brett Myers had come way up and in on Russell Martin and thrown a pitch behind Manny Ramirez in game two in Philadelphia, Martin was infuriated when Clay Condrey knocked him to the ground with another knockdown pitch last night in the bottom of the second. When Shane Victorino came to the plate with two outs in top of the third, Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda delivered a fastball just over the head of the center fielder. When Victorino grounded to first to end the frame, he and Kuroda exchanged words and the benches cleared for further discussion.

Pretty ugly game all around for the Phils. Not much offense — the Phillies have now been outscored 14-13 in the series. Moyer’s start, his second weak outing in two post-season appearances, certainly raises some questions about what the Phillies would do if the series went to a game seven in Philadelphia. The one thing they probably wouldn’t do is feel confident about sending Moyer to the mound.

As a bright spot, the bullpen shined again for the Phillies. JA Happ showed why he is on the roster, giving the Phils three innings and holding the Dodgers to a run. Romero and Durbin, core components of the pen that have been shaky or just plain absent recently, both pitched well in the blowout. The Phillies bullpen has allowed one run in 12 2/3 innings in the series.

The Phillies lost game three of the NLCS last night, falling 7-2. They lead the Dodgers two games to one in the best-of-seven series. The Phillies are 5-2 in the post-season after going 13-3 to end the regular season. The last time they lost a game that wasn’t started by Moyer was September 24.

Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went 1 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on six hits. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a triple and a home run. He struck out two and didn’t walk a batter. He’s been hit hard in both of his post-season starts this season, allowing eight runs in 5 1/3 innings.

The Dodger lineup against Moyer went (1) Furcal (SS/S) (2) Ethier (RF/L) (3) Ramirez (LF/R) (4) Martin (C/R) (5) Garciaparra (1B/R) (6) Blake (3B/R) (7) Kemp (CF/R) (8) DeWitt (2B/L). Garciaparra starts at first after Loney played first against the lefty Hamels in game one. Blake moves up to sixth and Kemp down to seventh after Blake hit sixth and Kemp seventh in game one. Nomar came into the game 15-for-36 (417/432/722) against Moyer in his career.

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

Furcal started the first with a single into left. Ethier singled past a diving Utley and into right, moving Furcal to second. Manny ripped the first pitch of his at-bat into left for a single. Burrell had no chance to get Furcal, but threw home. Furcal was safe, the ball bounced before the plate and over Ruiz’s head where it was backed up nicely by Moyer. The throw home allowed Manny to wind up at second with Ethier at third. Burrell also threw to the wrong base in game three of the NLDS. Moyer hit Martin in the knee with a 1-2 pitch, loading the bases with nobody out. Garciaparra struck out for the first out, looking at a 2-2 pitch on the outside corner. Moyer got ahead of Blake, but Blake hit a soft liner into right on an 0-2 pitch for another single. Everyone moved up a base and it was 2-0 with the bases still loaded and one out for Kemp. Kemp got ahead 3-0 but went down looking at a 3-2 pitch on the inside of the plate. Moyer got ahead of DeWitt 2-0 before DeWitt hit a 2-2 pitch into the right field corner for a triple that cleared the bases and put the Dodgers up 5-0. Kuroda chopped to third to end the inning.

Moyer threw 35 pitches in the first inning.

He started the second down 5-1. Furcal swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and hit the ball out to left-center, putting LA up 6-1. Ethier swung at the first pitch as well, popping it into shallow center for the first out. Manny was next and Clay Condrey came in to pitch to him. Condrey walked Ramirez on a 3-2 pitch, putting him on first for Martin with one out. Condrey’s first pitch to Martin was up and in, knocking him to the ground. Martin was not pleased, glaring out at the mound. He swung really hard at the next pitch and grounded it to short. Rollins took it there and started the double-play to end the inning.

Happ started the third after a bench-clearing incident between the top and bottom of the inning. Nomar hit his first pitch into center for a single. Blake also swung at the first pitch and flew into shallow center for the first out. Kemp got ahead 2-0 and singled into right field past a diving Utley, moving Nomar to second. Happ struck the lefty DeWitt out swinging 2-2 for the second out. The pitcher Kuroda went down swinging for the third out.

Furcal popped a 2-2 pitch to second for the first out of the fourth. Ethier flew to center on a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Ramirez walked on four pitches and Martin walked on four pitches behind him. Nomar lined an 0-1 pitch into left for a single. Burrell threw home, but Feliz wisely cut his throw and the Phils got Martin in-between second and third to end the inning. Ramirez scored before Rollins tagged out Martin, extending the lead to 7-1.

Happ walked two righties and gave up a hit to another and it cost him a run. He had thrown 37 pitches in the game.

Blake grounded to third for the first out in the fifth. Kemp was next and he singled into center. With DeWitt at the plate and the count 1-1, Kemp took off for second but left too early. Happ threw to first and Howard made an accurate throw to second where Rollins tagged Kemp out for the second out (he looked safe to me). DeWitt grounded to short for the third out.

The Phils hit for Happ in the top of the sixth. Happ allowed four hits and two walks in three innings in the game, with all of the damage done by righties. Two hits for Kemp, two for Garciaparra and walks to Ramirez and Martin. Nice job to pitch well enough to give the pen a break, though.

Eyre started the sixth. He got the pitcher Kuroda to ground to second for the first out. Furcal hit a ball between short and third and Feliz made a nice play, moving to his left to glove the ball and making a strong throw to first to get Furcal for the second out. Ethier flew to left for the third out.

Durbin started the seventh with the Phillies down 7-2. He got Ramirez to fly to right before he hit Martin with a first pitch breaking ball that didn’t break enough. The lefty Loney hit for the righty Garciaparra and struck out swinging on three pitches for the second out. Martin stole second with Blake at the plate, Coste made a miserable throw from his knees that nearly hit Durbin in the head before bouncing feet in front of second base. Blake walked to put men on first and second with two down, but Condrey got Kemp looking at a 1-2 pitch to leave both men stranded.

Romero pitched the eighth. Berroa, who replaced DeWitt at second in the top of the inning, led off and grounded to third for the first out. Jeff Kent hit for the pitcher Cory Wade and struck out swinging. Furcal walked on four pitches before Romero got the lefty Ethier looking at an 0-2 pitch to end the inning.

Nice to see both Durbin and Romero have nice outings. The Phils are going to need both of them.

The Phillies pen went 6 2/3 innings in the game, allowing a run on four hits and five walks. Happ allowed all four of the hits in his three innings, and two of the walks. Happ threw 44 pitches and is surely unavailable tonight. Durbin threw 21, Romero 16, Eyre 9 and Condrey eight.

Overall, the Phils have allowed 14 runs in the first three games of the series, six of which were allowed my Moyer. They have walked way too many over the past two games, though. After walking seven in game two they walked five last night.

The LA pen went two more scoreless innings. Wade needed 33 pitches to throw two innings, which is good news for the Phillies. Dodgers’ relievers have not been charged with a run in the series — they have thrown 11 1/3 innings.

The Phillies lineup against righty Hiroki Kuroda went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Werth (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Feliz back at third after Dobbs started against Billingsley and made an error in game two. Ruiz continues to catch with Victorino hitting second and Werth sixth. Ruiz caught about 60% of the batters that Moyer faced this season, with Coste catching for the other 40%.

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

Rollins got behind 0-2 and then grounded to second for the first out. Victorino popped to short on an 0-1 pitch for the second out. Kuroda got ahead of Utley 1-0 before he finally delivered his first ball of the game. The 1-1 pitch was way high. Not close to hitting Utley, but up near his head and perhaps not an accident after Myers threw way up and in on Martin and then behind Ramirez in the first inning of game two. Utley took two more ball and drew a walk. Howard got behind 1-2 and Utley took off for second as Kuroda threw ball three. Martin’s throw to second bounced before it got to the bag, but Furcal made a nice play to pick it and block Utley’s slide with his left foot as he tagged Utley out to end the frame.

I’d try hard not to get caught stealing with Howard at the plate.

Down 5-0, Howard led off the second and doubled into right field. Burrell was next and hit a 3-1 pitch well to left, but Ramirez took it at the warning track for the first out. Werth flew to center on a 1-1 pitch for the second out, with Howard moving up to third. Feliz was next and he lined a 1-1 pitch into left for a single. Howard scored to get the Phillies on the board at 5-1. Ruiz swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and flew to center.

Jenkins hit for Condrey to start the third and grounded a 3-1 pitch to short for the first out. Rollins went down looking at a 1-2 pitch on the inside corner. Kuroda threw the first pitch to Victorino behind his head, drawing an angry reaction from Victorino, who gestured at his head and then his body. Victorino grounded a 1-1 pitch to first for the third out. Garciaparra took the ball to the base himself, but Kuroda had come over towards the bag in case he needed to cover. Victorino again gestured to Kuroda and the benches cleared. No punches or ejections. Manny looked pretty enthusiastic, but was restrained.

Utley ripped the first pitch of the fourth to first, where it was picked by Garciaparra who took it to first for the first out. Howard grounded a 2-0 pitch to second for the second out. Burrell struck out swinging 2-2 to set the Phillies down.

Werth struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out of the fifth. Feliz grounded to short for the second. Ruiz flew to right on a 2-2 pitch for the third out.

Through five innings, Kuroda had allowed a run on two hits and a walk and thrown 67 pitches.

Iguchi hit for Happ to start the sixth and grounded to short. Rollins flew to center on a 1-0 pitch for the second out. Victorino grounded a 2-2 pitch to second for the second out.

Utley led off the seventh and hit a 2-1 pitch down the left field line for a double. Howard lined the first pitch of his at-bat into right for a single that fell at the feet of Ethier. Burrell was next and he dumped a 1-1 pitch into center field for a single that scored Utley and moved Howard to second with the Phils down 7-2. Cory Wade came in to pitch to Werth and quickly got ahead 0-2. Werth tried to check his swing at a 1-2 pitch outside and in the dirt. Looked like he checked to me, but he didn’t get the call and was down on strikes for the first out. Feliz hit for himself with the righty Wade on the mound and flew to center on a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Howard tagged and took third, sliding in safely ahead of a strong throw from Kemp. Dobbs hit for Ruiz and Wade stayed in to face him with two outs and men on first and third. Dobbs hit it back up the middle, but Furcal took it just to the left of second and threw Dobbs out at first to set the Phils down.

Coste was on deck to hit for the pitcher Eyre. Phillies could have hit Stairs for Feliz (or Dobbs for Feliz and Stairs for Ruiz), but didn’t. Don’t know why if they weren’t going to hit Stairs for the pitcher’s spot.

Coste led off the eighth with a single into left with Wade still on the mound for LA. First career post-season hit for Coste. Rollins struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out. Victorino popped to third on a 1-0 pitch. Utley grounded to short to leave Coste stranded.

Jonathan Broxton pitched the ninth for LA with a 7-2 lead. Howard grounded to first for the first out. Burrell struck out swinging on three pitches for the second. Werth got ahead 2-1 and singled to right, but was left at first when Feliz popped to second to end the game.

Rollins was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the game. He’s 1-for-13 with six strikeouts in the series.

Victorino 0-for-4 in the game and 2-for-13 with a triple and four RBI in the series.

Utley 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in the game. 3-for-8 with a double, a home run and five walks in the series.

Howard 2-for-4 with a double. 2-for-12 with a walk in the series.

Burrell 1-for-4 with an RBI. 4-for-11 with a home run and six strikeouts in the series.

Werth 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. 2-for-12 with a double in the series.

Feliz 1-for-4 with an RBI. 1-for-7 in the series.

Ruiz 0-for-2 in the game and 3-for-9 with a double in the series.

Joe Blanton (9-12, 4.69) faces Derek Lowe (14-11, 3.24) tonight in game four. Lowe started game one for the Dodgers and took a 2-0 shutout into the sixth inning before giving up three runs on homers to Utley and Burrell. He’ll be pitching on three days rest. He made one start on three days rest this season, on May 18 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and allowed seven runs on ten hits and a walk over five innings (12.60 ERA).

The Phillies have won the last five games that Blanton started, most notably game four of the NLDS. Blanton allowed three hit and took a shutout into the seventh before Fielder hit a monster home run to start the seventh and Hardy followed him with a single. Blanton ended the day with the win, having allowed a run on five hits and no walks over six while striking out seven.

Righties hit Blanton better than lefties this season. They hit .286 against him with a 1.56 ratio, lefties .256 with a 1.25 ratio.

Blanton made two starts against the Dodgers this season, throwing to a 4.09 ERA but a 1.91 ratio (he allowed 15 hits and six walks in 11 innings). On August 13 the Phillies gave him a 6-1 lead in the second, but allowed four runs on nine hits and three walks over five innings and the Dodgers came back to win 7-6. Blanton was much better on August 24. He held LA to a run on six hits and three walks over six innings and the Phils won the game on a game-winning three-run homer by Feliz in the eleventh.

Ramirez is an amazing 14-for-25 against Blanton in his career (560/600/720). Another former ALer, Casey Blake, is just 1-for-21. Berroa is the only other player on the roster who has more than ten at-bats against Blanton, he’s 3-for-11.


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.


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