Tag: Evan Longoria

Bud Selig versus the tie game, round two

My money is on the tie game. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to lose home field advantage in the World Series in the bottom of the 15th in a game that otherwise doesn’t count.

This whole thing was just unusual. Still is. I would like to say I think the gravitas of the World Series can be restored with a simple change to the rules that ensures the league whose team wins game five of the World Series gets home field advantage for the All-Star game the next year. It’s simple, really, and at least some good can come out of this.

Game five of the World Series was an adventure, and it’s not over yet.

The Phils and Rays played the game through a cold, steady rain. The cold was to be expected — no doubt an environmental byproduct of hell freezing over as the Phils inched ever closer to winning the World Series. The rain was a problem, though, turning the field into a puddle-strewn, unplayable mess. They played for a while after it was unplayable.

A two-run single by Victorino put the Phillies up 2-0 in the bottom of the first. The Rays cut the lead to 2-1 with a run in the fourth when Carlos Pena doubled high off the wall and came in to score on a single by Evan Longoria. The field was a mess by the end of the fifth, with players, Phillies mostly, failing to catch popups, umpires not calling the infield fly-rule cause nothing was routine and pitchers struggling with the slush where the mound ought to be. I think I saw Feliz calling for a rescue-at-sea at one point. In the top of the sixth, BJ Upton reached on an infield single, stole second and came in to score on a Pena single to the opposite field to tie the game at 2-2. And then the game was suspended.

The big issue, of course, is what would have happened if the game had been suspended after five innings (or if the Rays hadn’t scored in the top of the sixth) with the Phillies leading by a run. Pretty clearly you can’t declare the Phillies the winner and say that the season is over. At the same time, though, if there was 100% agreement and clarity that if the game was suspended after five innings it would have still been finished, regardless of whether it was on the same day or not, I don’t think there’s any reason to allow them to play the top of the sixth inning in the conditions that they did.

The whole thing felt a bit like chaos. I was a little worried that Selig might declare that in accordance with rule 293.17.U everyone needed to head over to the Wachovia Center so the players could strap on their skates for the shootout or something.

That said, though, I don’t think the Phillies got screwed or are the victims of a conspiracy. If it’s easier to hit than pitch in conditions like that, they put men on first and second with nobody out in the bottom of the fifth and came away with nothing. Prior to the start of the sixth inning I can guarantee you that there were a huge number of Phillies fans hoping that the game would not be called because 1) the Phillies were 12 outs away from winning the World Series and 2) Cole Hamels was on the mound and whenever the game was suspended there was a good chance it meant that his season was over.

Sooner or later they are going to play again. When they do, the Phillies will play with an advantage. To win the game, they need to get nine outs and score at least one run more than the Rays. The Rays need to get 12 outs and score at least one run more than the Phillies.

The game is going to come down to the bullpens, and the suspension of the game gives Romero and Madson a day of rest after they had both pitched two days in a row. The Rays get an extra day of rest for Edwin Jackson and Dan Wheeler, each of who threw at least 22 pitches in game four. Whether they play tonight or Wednesday could be critical in terms of whether Hamels would be available to pitch game seven if it came to that — if they played Wednesday instead of tonight he almost surely would be.

If you want to worry about something I think the direction to go is clear, however: Pena and Longoria came into the game 0-for-29 and went 3-for-6 with both of the Tampa Bay RBI. The Phillies were doing a great job of keeping those guys down — hopefully they will whenever game five resumes as well.

The Phillies played 5 1/2 innings of a game last night before the game was suspended in the bottom of the sixth due to weather with the score tied at 2-2. The Phillies lead the Rays three games to one in the best-of-seven World Series.

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and is officially still in the game, although there is near zero chance he will pitch again if they resume tonight or tomorrow night. He allowed two runs on five hits and a walk over six innings. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out three.

He faced a Tampa Bay lineup that went (1) Akinori Iwamura (2B/L) (2) Carl Crawford (LF/L) (3) BJ Upton (CF/R) (4) Carlos Pena (1B/L) (5) Evan Longoria (3B/R) (5) (6) Dioner Navarro (C/S) (7) Rocco Baldelli (RF/R) (8) Jason Bartlett (SS/R). Crawford moves up to second in the order from fifth. Upton drops to third and Pena to fourth. Baldelli starts in right after Zobrist started game one against Hamels.

The Rays started the game with six players on their bench: Michael Hernandez (R), Ben Zobrist (S), Willy Aybar (S), Fernando Perez (S), Eric Hinske (L), Gabe Gross (L).

Iwamura led off the first and flew to left on a 1-2 pitch for the first out. Crawford lined the first pitch of his at-bat to short. It popped out of Rollins’ glove, but Rollins picked it up and threw to first to nip Crawford. Upton grounded an 0-1 pitch to short to set the Rays down.

Seven pitches in the inning for Hamels.

He started the second up 2-0. Pena led off and bunted the first pitch, but too hard. Howard took it at first and beat Pena too the bag for the first out. Longoria swung at the first pitch, too, and flew to center. Navarro was next and drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch, but Baldelli popped to second to leave him stranded. Ten pitches in the inning had Hamels at 17 for the game.

Bartlett started the third with a long at-bat that ended with him grounding to short. Hamels struck the pitcher Scott Kazmir out on three pitches for the second out, but Iwamura lined a single back through the middle for the first hit for the Rays. Crawford again swung at the first pitch and grounded to second. Sixteen pitches in the inning, 33 for the game.

Upton chopped a 1-1 pitch to deep short to start the fourth. Rollins made a strong throw to get Upton for the first out. Pena was next and he hit a ball high off the wall in right field that Werth nearly caught at the wall. Pena had a double and came in to score when Longoria followed with a single past a diving Rollins and into left-center. Pena’s run cut the Phillies’ lead to 2-1. Navarro got ahead 3-0, but grounded a 3-1 pitch to short and the Phils turned the double-play to end the frame. Hamels threw 13 pitches in the inning and had thrown 46 for the game.

Werth had a good chance to catch Pena’s ball at the wall. He jumped high enough to catch it, just missed it with his glove.

Pena and Longoria finally break through with a pair of hits, and it gets Tampa Bay a run.

Hamels started the fifth after being hit on the hand while trying to bunt in the bottom of the fourth. Baldelli led off and popped a 2-0 pitch high to short. Rollins parked under it, but the wind blew it and Rollins had to come in. The ball went off the heel of his glove for an error. Bartlett was next and hit a broken-bat ground ball to second. Utley made a great play. He charged and made a spinning tag on Baldelli as he went past for the first out, then threw to first to double-up Bartlett. Kazmir again struck out on three pitches to set the Rays down. Nine more pitches for Hamels, 55 for the game.

Iwamura struck out looking 2-2 for the first out in the sixth. Crawford chopped a 1-0 pitch to first for the second out. Upton hit a 2-2 pitch to the left of Rollins. Rollins moved to his left and got a glove on the ball, but Upton had an infield single. It brought up Pena with the field in miserable condition and cold rain continuing to fall. Upton stole second as Hamels delivered strike one to Pena. Pena hit a 2-2 pitch the opposite way, into left field for a single. Upton came around third and slid in safe just ahead of Burrell’s throw, which was on line but a little late. The game was tied at 2-2. Longoria was next and swung at a low 1-0 pitch that Ruiz failed to catch, allowing Pena to move to second. Longoria flew to center on the next pitch, leaving Pena stranded.

Even with the field in good condition, I think Upton’s ground ball to short may have been a hit. The weather was certainly a factor in the inning, but you have to wonder if Hamels’ hand may have been as well after he was hit on the hand trying to bunt in the fourth.

Hamels threw 21 pitches in the inning and had thrown 76 for the game.

And then the game was suspended.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Scott Kazmir went (1) Rollins (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz.

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

Rollins flew to left for the first out in the first. Werth was next and he walked on a 3-2 pitch that was outside. Kazmir’s first pitch to Utley hit Utley in the back. It put two men on for Howard, but Howard struck out swinging 1-2 for the second out. Burrell walked on a close 3-1 pitch, loading the bases for Victorino. Victorino lined a 2-1 pitch into left for a single, scoring Werth and Utley to put the Phils up 2-0 with men on first and second. Feliz was next and he went down and hit a low 0-1 pitch into left for another single. Everyone moved up a base and the Phils had the bases loaded again. Ruiz swung at the first pitch and flew to left.

Burrell had no chance to score on Feliz’s hit, which was right at Crawford. He may, however, have had a chance to go to third on Victorino’s single, which forced Crawford to move towards the left field corner. If he had gone to third on Victorino’s single he would have scored on Feliz’s.

Kazmir struck Hamels out on three pitches to start the second. Rollins flew to right on a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Werth followed with a single into left, but Utley popped to third to end the inning.

Howard struck out again, this time on three pitches, for the first out in the third. Burrell flew softly to right on a 1-1 pitch for the second out. Victorino struck out on three pitches for the third out.

Quick nine pitch inning for Kazmir, who had thrown 57 through three innings.

Feliz struck out swinging 0-2 to start the fourth. Ruiz was next and singled into left. Hamels came to the plate and showed bunt. Kazmir’s first pitch to him was inside and hit him on a finger of his left (pitching) hand as he held the top part of the bat. Hamels did bunt the next pitch, but too hard back to the mound. Kazmir took it and threw to second to force Ruiz. Kazmir walked Rollins on a 3-2 pitch to put men on second. Werth followed with another long at-bat, walking on the tenth pitch on a 3-2 offering that was low and outside. It loaded the bases for Utley. Utley got ahead 3-1 and took strike two on the inside corner before he grounded to second to leave the runners stranded.

Ninety pitches for Kazmir through four innings.

Howard led off the fifth and walked on four pitches. Burrell was next and he walked as well, getting two calls on pitches that were very close, including the 3-2 pitch. Grant Balfour came in to pitch to Victorino. Victorino bunted the first pitch foul, then swung away and popped to left for the first out. Feliz popped an 0-2 pitch to Pena for the second out. Ruiz popped up to Pena as well and both runners were left stranded.

No infield fly rule called on the pop-up by Feliz after Rollins was unable to field a pop-up on the infield in the top of the inning.

Nothing for the Phils after putting their first two runners on base.

Balfour has thrown nine pitches in the game.

Update: Game five has been scheduled to resume at 8:37 PM Wednesday night. That’s good news for the Phillies. Hopefully Cole Hamels doesn’t throw another pitch this season, but if they need him for a game seven you would assume he will be available (as long as they don’t cancel the travel day after a short finish Wednesday night).

Update again: They will try to play game five tonight (Wednesday). No off day tomorrow if the Phillies lose. Game six on Thursday, game seven on Friday and no Hamels on regular rest in game seven. Go Phils.

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Everybody, no, seriously, everybody, hits

Whoohoo.

The Phillies went 13-3 to end the regular season and now, after winning game four of the World Series in a blowout, have gone 10-3 on a memorable playoff run. If they can win one more game there isn’t going to be anyone left to beat. There are so many Phillies playing well it’s hard to keep track of all of them. I’ll give it a try.

Joe Blanton was outstanding last night. He held the Rays to a pair of runs on four hits over six innings and became the first pitcher since 1974 to hit a home run in the World Series. Ryan Howard looked a little lost coming into the World Series. He doesn’t anymore. Howard put the Phils up 5-1 with a three-run blast to the opposite field in the fourth inning and added a titanic shot out to right in the bottom of the eighth to put things out of reach at 10-2.

Lost in the heroics of Howard and Blanton will be the offensive production the Phillies are getting out of the top of the order. After coming into game three of the World Series without a hit, Rollins has gone 5-for-his-last-9. Over the last two days, Rollins and Werth have combined to go 8-for-15 with three walks. Last night they combined for three doubles and a home run.

Just about everything sets up perfectly for the Phillies in game five. The Rays are struggling in so many different areas and the Phils are coming in waves now. Cole Hamels, just about perfect in the playoffs, takes to the mound tonight with a chance to put an end to the season. The Tampa Bay bullpen had a long night in game four. But if there’s any team that should know it’s not over till it’s over, it’s the Phillies. The Rays didn’t win 97 games and the AL East because Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria never get a hit and their bullpen gives up five runs in four innings. In part because everything sets up so well for the Phils, the momentum shift for Tampa Bay if they can find a way to win game five and send the series back to Florida would be huge. So here’s hoping that Hamels and the bats can come up with one more big night. And then they can finally rest.

The Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays last night, winning 10-2 to take a three games to one lead in the World Series.

Joe Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing two runs on four hits and two walks. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both home runs. He struck out seven.

Blanton faced a Tampa Bay lineup that went (1) Akinori Iwamura (2B/L) (2) BJ Upton (CF/R) (3) Carlos Pena (1B/L) (4) Evan Longoria (3B/R) (5) Carl Crawford (LF/L) (6) Dioner Navarro (C/S) (7) Ben Zobrist (RF/S) (8) Jason Bartlett (SS/R). Zobrist plays right after Baldelli started in right in game two against Myers.

The Rays started the game with six players on their bench: Michael Hernandez (R), Fernando Perez (S), Willy Aybar (S), Gabe Gross (L), Eric Hinske (L) and Rocco Baldelli (R). Cliff Floyd was removed from the roster with a shoulder problem and the lefty Hinske added prior to the game.

Iwamura led off the game and blasted a 3-2 pitch to left, but Burrell took it at the wall for the first out. Not exactly inspiring, but it got better from there. Upton struck out looking at a 1-2 fastball on the outside corner. Pena swung at the first pitch and popped to Ruiz in foul territory to set the Rays down.

Blanton threw 13 pitches in the first inning.

He struck Longoria out swinging 1-2 to start the second with the Phillies up 1-0. Crawford was next and Blanton got him swinging 1-2 as well. Navarro bunted an 0-1 pitch foul before he singled into right with the count full. Zobrist swung at the first pitch and flew to Victorino in shallow center to end the frame. Blanton threw 15 pitches in the second to put him at 28 for the game.

Bartlett struck out swinging for the first out in the third. Sonnanstine was next and he lined a 2-1 pitch into left for a single. Iwamura chopped a ball to short, but hit it too slowly for the Phils to turn two. Rollins took it and threw to second to get Sonnanstine for the second out. Upton grounded to short for the third out. Blanton threw 14 pitches in the inning to put him at 42 for the game.

He started the fourth up 2-0. Pena led up and struck out swinging 2-2 for the first out. Longoria hit a 1-0 pitch in the hole between short and third. Rollins fielded and made a strong throw to nip him for the second out. Nice play by Rollins. Blanton got ahead of Crawford, but Crawford popped a 1-2 pitch just out to right to cut the Phillies lead to 2-1. Navarro swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and grounded to Rollins, who fielded behind second and threw to first for the third out. Twelve pitches in the inning had Blanton at 54.

Blanton had a 5-1 lead when he started the fifth. Zobrist got ahead 2-0, but Blanton pumped two strikes over before Zobrist flew to center on a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Bartlett was next and hit a 1-1 pitch back up the middle. The ball went off of Blanton’s leg and rolled toward third. Feliz made a fantastic play, barehanding the ball and throwing to first to get Bartlett. Great play by Feliz and it saved the Phillies a run, cause Hinske hit for the pitcher Andy Sonnanstine and blasted a 2-1 pitch way out to center. Hinske’s solo shot cut the lead to 5-2. Iwamura grounded back to the pitcher for the third out. After 15 pitches in the inning, Blanton was at 69 for the game.

He started the sixth up 6-2, thanks to his own fifth-inning home run off of Edwin Jackson. Upton got ahead 2-0, but flew to right on a 2-2 pitch for the first out. Blanton walked Pena on a 3-2 pitch, but struck Longoria out looking at a 1-2 pitch on the outside corner for the second out. Crawford was next and Blanton hit him in the foot with an 0-1 pitch, putting men on first and second for Navarro. Blanton got behind 1-0, but then got the call on a pitch that looked outside for strike one. With the count 2-1, Blanton got another call with Navarro again looking at a ball that may have been outside. Navarro swung out swinging at a high 2-2 pitch to leave both runners stranded.

Long inning for Blanton — 24 pitches had him at 93 for the game.

He came back to start the seventh still up 6-2 and walked Zobrist on a 3-2 pitch to start the inning. Durbin came in to pitch to Bartlett and got him to fly to center on a 1-1 pitch for the first out. Willy Aybar hit for the pitcher Edwin Jackson and singled to right, moving Zobrist to second. Eyre came in to pitch to the lefty Iwamura. He almost lost him, getting behind 3-1 before Iwamura lined to Bruntlett, now the left fielder, for the second out. Madson came in to pitch to the righty Upton. Upton got ahead 3-1, but fouled off the next pitch and swung and missed at a 3-2 changeup to end the frame with both runners stranded.

Huge out for Madson to get Upton — otherwise he likely would have been facing the lefty Pena as the tying run. Romero was the other choice, but I don’t think Manuel would take Madson out of the game still needing to get seven outs to win. Eyre getting Iwamura was a big out as well.

Madson came back to start the eighth. Pena went down swinging hard at a 2-2 fastball for the first out. Longoria blasted the first pitch he saw from Madson way out but foul. Madson struck him out swinging two pitches later. Crawford grounded an 0-1 pitch softly to second for the third out.

Nice job by Madson against the 3-4-5 hitters of the Rays, which looked more important before the Phils blew the game open in the bottom of the eighth.

Romero started the ninth with the Phils up 10-2. Navarro led off and grounded a ball back to the mound. Romero fielded, but his throw to first was in the dirt and Howard couldn’t handle it. Navarro was safe and Romero was charged with an error. Zobrist was next and he hit a ground ball to Utley. Utley threw to Rollins to force Navarro for the first out without a relay to first to try to get Zobrist. Bartlett was next and struck out looking at a 2-2 fastball on the inside corner. Baldelli hit for the pitcher Trever Miller with two outs and a man on first. Romero struck him out with a high 2-2 fastball to end the game.

The Phillies pen went three scoreless innings in the game, allowing one hit, the single by Aybar off of Durbin in the seventh. They struck out five and didn’t walk a batter. They have been charged with one run in 8 2/3 innings in the series. Romero threw 19 pitches, Madson 16. All four of the relievers that the Phillies used in game four were also used in game three, so all four of them would be pitching for the third straight game if they pitch tonight. Romero and Madson both threw 15 pitches in game three while Eyre and Durbin both threw six.

The Tampa Bay pen went four innings in the game and allowed five runs. In the set they have now allowed eight runs in 12 1/3 innings. Jackson threw 32 pitches, Wheeler 22 and Miller 10.

After combining to go 0-for-7 in game four, Longoria and Pena have now combined to go 0-for-29 with 15 strikeouts in the series.

The Phillies lineup against righty Andy Sonnanstine went (1) Rollins (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz.

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

Rollins led off the first and pulled a 3-1 pitch past a diving Pena and into right field for a double. Werth followed and hit a 3-1 pitch to right deep enough for Rollins to tag and go to third. Utley walked on four pitches, putting men on first and third for Howard. Howard hit a ground ball back to the mound. Sonnanstine probably would have had an inning-ending double-play if he had gone to second, but he had Rollins caught off third and ran at him. Sonnanstine chased Rollins back to third but threw late and Rollins was called safe sliding into the bag. Replays showed that Longoria tagged him and he should have been out, but the Phils had the bases loaded with one out. Burrell was next and drew a walk on a 3-1 pitch outside, forcing in Rollins to put the Phils up 1-0. Victorino dribbled an 0-1 pitch out in front of the mound. Sonnanstine made a nice play, charging, fielding and making a glove-hand flip home to force Utley for the second out. Feliz flew softly to center to leave the bases loaded.

Just one run for the Phils after loading the bases with one out.

Ruiz flew to right for the first out in the second. Blanton struck out swinging 1-2 for the second out. Rollins lined a 2-2 pitch into right center for another hit, this one a single. Rollins was 4-for-his-last-6. Werth popped a 1-1 pitch into shallow right for the third out.

Utley led off the third with a ground ball that Iwamura booted, having the ball go off the heel of his glove, for an error. Howard was next and ripped an 0-1 pitch into right for a single, sending Utley to third. Burrell got ahead 3-1 and watched a hugely hittable breaking pitch over the heart of the plate for strike two. He popped the 3-2 pitch to Bartlett in shallow left-center for the first out. Victorino popped a 1-2 pitch up to Bartlett as well, this time closer to third base, for the second out. Victorino had left five men on base through 2 2/3 innings. Feliz picked both of them up, though, lining a 1-1 pitch into left for a single. Utley scored to put the Phils up 2-0. Ruiz chopped a ball back through the middle, but Iwamura moved to his right and fielded it behind second base. Iwamura didn’t make a throw, but kept the ball in the infield and kept Utley from scoring. With the bases loaded and two outs, Blanton fouled out to Pena to end the inning.

Burrell still hitless as he fails to bring Utley in from third with nobody out. Victorino can’t bring the runner in from third with less than two outs for the second time in the game.

Sonnanstine had thrown 69 pitches through three innings and had just one strikeout — Blanton in the second.

Rollins led off the fourth with a ground ball under the glove of Iwamura and into right. Rollins was given a hit initially, but the call was changed and Iwamura given an error (either way, Iwamura should have made the play). Werth followed and walked on four pitches, putting men on first and second for Utley. Utley struck out on three pitches, swinging at an 0-2 slider inside for the first out. Howard got ahead 2-1 and blasted a pitch out to left for a three-run homer that put the Phils up 5-1. Howard finally hits the ball to the opposite field and he knew it was gone, watching the ball for a little longer than he usually does. Burrell fouled out to the catcher for the second out. Victorino popped to third to end the inning.

Righty Edwin Jackson started the fifth with the Phillies leading 5-2. Feliz swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and fouled out to Navarro. Ruiz grounded to third for the second out. Blanton was next and laced a 2-1 fastball out to left to make it 6-2. Rollins grounded to second for the third out.

First career extra-base hit for Blanton. First time since 1974 that a pitcher has homered in the World Series. In game four of the 1974 World Series, Oakland’s Ken Holtzman homered off of the Dodgers’ Andy Messersmith to put the A’s up 1-0 in the third. Oakland won the game 5-2 and won the series four games to one.

Blanton was 2-for-26 with two singles in his career coming into the game. 0-for-5 in the post-season and 0-for-2 in this game. That’s 2-for-33 (.061).

Werth led off the sixth with Jackson still on the mound and doubled off the wall in left. Jackson struck Utley out looking at an inside fastball 2-2 for the first out. Howard was walked intentionally, putting men on first and second for Burrell. Burrell hit a slow ground ball to short. Bartlett charged, fielded and threw back to second. The relay got Burrell to complete the inning-ending double-play.

No run for the Phils after the leadoff double.

Righty Dan Wheeler started the seventh for Tampa Bay. Victorino led off and blooped a ball into right. Zobrist charged and made a sliding catch for the first out. Feliz hit a ground ball to third that was stopped by a diving Longoria, but the ball came out of his glove and Feliz had an infield single. Ruiz was next and lined to second on a nice catch by Iwamura, picking the ball near the ground. Iwamura threw to first and Pena made a fantastic catch as his body tangled up with Feliz as Feliz scurried back to the bag.

With Wheeler still on the mound, Stairs hit for Madson to start the eighth and struck out swinging at a 2-2 fastball. Rollins jumped on Wheeler’s first pitch and blasted it high off the wall in right, missing a home run by less than a foot. He settled for a double. Werth was next, and with the count full he lined a ball out to left field for a two-run homer, putting the Phils up 8-2. Trever Miller came in to pitch to Utley and walked him. Howard was next and crushed a 1-0 pitch way out to right. 10-2. Bruntlett grounded to short for the second out. Miller got Victorino to fly to left-center for the third out.

Rollins was 3-for-5 with two doubles. He’s 5-for-19 (.263) in the series.

Werth 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and a home. 6-for-15 (.400) with three doubles, a home run and four walks.

Utley was 0-for-2 with two walks. 3-for-15 (.200) with two home runs in the series.

Howard was 3-for-5 with two home runs, a walk and five RBI. 6-for-17 (.353) in the series. Three home runs in the last two games.

Burrell 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. 0-for-12 with five strikeouts in the series. Phils could use him tonight against Kazmir.

Victorino 0-for-5 and left five men on base. 4-for-16 ( .250) with four singles in the series.

Feliz was 2-for-4 with an RBI. Big two-out hit in the third inning after it looked like the Phils were going to fail to bring a runner in from third yet again. Big defensive play ahead of the Hinske homer saved the Phils a run. 4-for-14 (.286) in the series.

Ruiz 1-for-4 in the game and 5-for-12 (.417) in the series.

Cole Hamels (14-10, 3.09) faces lefty Scott Kazmir (12-8, 3.49) tonight in game five. These pitches met in game one of the series in Tampa Bay and the Phillies won the game 3-2. Hamels was fantastic, holding the Rays to two runs over seven innings while improving to a perfect 4-0 in the post-season. Kazmir struggled badly early, but kept the Phillies from breaking the game open.

Utley hit a two-run shot off of Kazmir in the first inning of game one. Crawford homered off of Hamels in the fourth to cut the Philadelphia lead to 3-1.

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Hamels hoping they send him to the Galaxy Series next after Earth people prove to be amusing but a bit weak and ineffectual

I guess there’s not much to do but wait to hear from the mother ship. The waiting is the hardest part.

It sure seems like if Cole Hamels pitched enough games in the post-season one of them would have to be bad. That’s probably the case, but it hasn’t happened yet. With another brilliant start last night, Hamels pitched the Phillies to an early lead in the World Series. He’s thrown to a 1.55 ERA while going 4-0 in four starts against some of baseball’s best teams this post-season.

The Phillies needed him to be just about perfect. Their offense failed time and time again build on the slim lead Chase Utley gave them with his first inning home run. Ryan Howard had a game at the plate that stuck out like a sore thumb, and that’s saying something given that Jimmy Rollins went 0-for-5 and left five men on base.

Hamels exited after seven strong innings with the Phils clinging to a one-run lead, but they handed that lead off to the steadiest of hands. If there’s anyone on the Phillies who have been as good as Hamels this post-season, it’s the late-inning combo of Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge. After two more perfect innings last night, the pair has now been charged with two earned runs in 18 1/3 innings (0.98 ERA) in the playoffs while striking out 19.

The Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays last night, winning 3-2. They lead the World Series one game to none.

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

He faced a Tampa Bay lineup that went (1) Akinori Iwamura (2B/L) (2) BJ Upton (CF/R) (3) Carlos Pena (1B/L) (4) Evan Longoria (3B/R) (5) Carl Crawford (LF/L) (6) Willy Aybar (DH/S) (7) Dioner Navarro (C/S) (8) Ben Zobrist (RF/S) (9) Jason Bartlett (SS/R). The Rays lineup pretty much stays the same one through five for righties and lefties, which means against left-handed starters they have three hitters in the first five that are weak against lefties plus Upton and Longoria. Bartlett is very good against lefties and hits ninth. Zobrist starts in right after appearing there in just two games in the regular season.

The Rays started the game with five players on their bench: Michael Hernandez (R), Rocco Baldelli (R), Fernando Perez (S), Cliff Floyd (L), Gabe Gross (L).

Hamels started the first with a 2-0 lead. Iwamura led off and hit a 3-2 pitch to first. Howard fielded it deep and Iwamura beat him to the bag for an infield single. Hamels was a little slow to cover first and Howard ran to the bag himself. Howard probably should have tossed the ball, but they may not have gotten Iwamura anyway. Upton was next and checked his swing 1-1 and hit a ground ball to second. Utley took and the Phils turned two easily to clear the bases. Pena grounded to Rollins to end the inning.

Eleven pitches in the first for Hamels.

Longoria struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out of the second. Crawford flew to center on a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Hamels struck out Aybar swinging 1-2 for the third. Fourteen pitches had Hamels at 25 for the game.

Navarro popped to first for the first out of the third. Zobrist was next and hit a 2-1 pitch past a diving Feliz for a single. Bartlett was next and he drew a five-pitch walk that put men on first and second. Iwamura singled into right on a 1-2 pitch to load the bases. Upton smashed a 1-2 pitch, but Feliz took it at third and started the double-play to end the inning. Nineteen pitches for Hamels, 44 for the game.

Very nice play by Feliz at a big time on a ball hit hard by Upton.

Second double-play in two at-bats for Upton.

Hamels started the fourth up 3-0. Pena swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and grounded to first. Longoria grounded an 0-2 pitch to third for the second out. Crawford was next and he jumped on Hamels first pitch to him, hitting it out to right to cut the lead to 3-1. Aybar flew to center for the third out. Nine pitches in the inning had Hamels at 53.

Navarro led off the fifth and struck out trying to check his swing on a ball in the dirt. Zobrist grounded to third on a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Hamels then walked Bartlett for the second time in the game and Bartlett stole second as the count went 3-1 on a high fastball to Iwamura. Iwamura delivered a double into left-center that rolled to the wall, scoring Bartlett to make it 3-2. Upton was next and he popped a 1-2 pitch foul that Howard caught reaching into the stands to end the inning. I’m guessing you probably won’t see Carlos Pena reaching into the second row to catch the ball in any of the games in Philadelphia. Nice play by Howard, though. Thirty pitches in the inning for Hamels put him at 83 for the game.

Two RBI in the game for the Rays come from two left-handed hitters, Crawford and Iwamura, hitting off of the lefty Hamels. The Phillies handled the big righties in the Rays lineup as Longoria and Upton combined to go 0-for-8, strike out four times and hit into two double-plays.

Pena was again swinging at the first pitch to start the sixth. He hit a ground ball to first that Howard booted. He recovered and threw to Hamels covering, but not in time. Pena was safe and Howard was charged with an error. With Longoria at the plate, Pena took off for second but left too early. Hamels threw to first and Howard delivered a strong throw to second. Pena would have been safe at second, but Rollins put down a fantastic tag, sweeping Pena’s leg off the base for a big first out. Huge play in the game. Hamels’ move to first was very close to a balk (it was a balk, but the Phils got the call). Howard made a great throw to second, a play he’s had an awful time with this year. Great tag by Rollins got the Phils an out. Longoria struck out looking at a 2-2 pitch on the inside corner for the second out. Crawford grounded softly to second for the third out. Just eight pitches for Hamels in the inning. Ninety-one for the game.

Aybar popped to short on a 1-2 pitch to start the seventh. Navarro waived at a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Zobrist grounded back to the mound to end the inning. With 11 pitches in the inning, Hamels was at 102 for the game.

Madson started the eighth with the Phils still up 3-2. Bartlett was first and popped a 2-1 pitch up to Howard in foul territory for the first out. Madson got ahead of Iwamura 1-2 and then delivered two straight changeups in just about the same place outside. Iwamura fouled off a pitch and then flew softly to right for the second out. Madson threw an 0-1 fastball past a swinging Upton before striking him out 2-2. Upton is right on top of the plate and is going to have to be moved if he proves unwilling to continue to strike out and hit into double-plays.

Madson fantastic again.

Lidge started the ninth up a run. Pena struck out trying to check his swing 0-2. The Phillies got the call on the appeal to third. Longoria struck out trying to check his swing 1-2 for the second out. Lidge got ahead of Crawford 1-2, but delivered two balls to run the count full. Crawford fouled off two pitches before he hit a high foul ball down the third base line. Feliz chased and took it by the Phillies bullpen, nearly falling near the warm-up home plate, to end the game.

Lidge and Madson combine to go two perfect innings for the Phils, striking out three. Madson threw 18 pitches, Lidge 15.

The Tampa Bay pen threw three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out five. Balfour threw 27 pitches and Howell 19. Wheeler and Miller were both under six.

Kazmir did well to stay in the game after being on the ropes time after time. The Phils did have a bunch of bloop hits against him, but threatened to chase him early several times and failed to do so. They still force the cream of the Rays’ pen to throw three innings in a game Tampa Bay was trailing.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Scott Kazmir went (1) Rollins (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Coste (9) Ruiz. Burrell stays in left with Coste getting the nod at DH over Bruntlett or Taguchi. Victorino hits sixth with Werth in the two-hole. The switch-hitter Victorino breaks up what would have been five righties in a row for the Phils if Werth was hitting sixth.

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

Rollins took the first pitch of the game for a strike on the outside corner before lining the next offering to right for the first out. Werth got ahead 3-0, then took two called strikes before Kazmir delivered ball four. Utley was next with the Rays playing a huge shift that had nobody at third. Utley tried to bunt the first pitch of his at-bat and popped it up foul. He swung at strike two before Kazmir delivered two straight balls. Utley hit the 2-2 pitch just out to right, putting the Phils up 2-0. Howard grounded to second for the second out and Burrell went down looking at an 0-2 pitch on the inside part of the plate.

Big home run for Utley in his first World Series at-bat — Kazmir had allowed just seven extra-base hits (and just one home run) to lefties during the regular season.

Victorino started the second and hit a 2-1 pitch back through the middle. Iwamura got a glove on it behind second base, but didn’t field it cleanly and wouldn’t have gotten Victorino if he had. Feliz walked on five pitches, putting men on first and second with nobody out for Coste. Victorino was nearly picked off second on a very close play before Kazmir delivered his first pitch to Coste. Coste flew softly to right and the runners held. A walk to Ruiz loaded the bases with one out. Rollins was next and he hit a fly ball into shallow center. Upton caught it and Victorino tagged and came home. Upton’s throw was good, it reached home plate on one hop a little up the third base line. Navarro tagged out a sliding Victorino to complete the double-play.

No problem with sending Victorino there, it took a strong throw from Upton and a nice tag from Navarro to get him. Coste being unable to move the runners up with nobody out hurt the inning. Kazmir had thrown 40 pitches through two innings.

Werth led off the third and dumped a ball over Pena’s head and down the right field line for a double. Utley moved Werth to third with a ground out to second. He was stranded there, though. Howard struck out trying to check his swing 1-2 for the second out. Burrell struck out swinging 1-2.

Howard can’t bring the man in from third with one out. After failing to score with men on first and second with nobody out in the second, no run for the Phils in the third after putting a man on third with one out.

Victorino started the fourth and blooped a single into center. Upton charged but failed to glove the ball, but he was backed up nicely by Zobrist. Feliz swung at an awful 1-2 pitch before he singled into center, sending Victorino to second. Coste tried to bunt but fouled the pitch off. Victorino was running as Coste hit a slow grounder to first. Both runners moved up and the Phils had men on second and third with one out for Ruiz. Ruiz grounded a 1-1 pitch to short. Victorino scored to put the Phils up 3-0 as Feliz held second with two down. Kazmir struck Rollins out on three pitches to end the frame.

Coste did move the runners up that time and it helped the Phillies score a run. Good no-strikeout by Ruiz.

Another long inning for Kazmir, who was up to 71 for the game.

Werth flew to center to start the fifth. Utley popped a 1-2 pitch to short for the second out. Howard was next and drew a walk in a nine-pitch at-bat. Burrell was next and he had a long at-bat of his own, dribbling a 3-2 pitch towards first base. Kazmir hopped off the mound to field it with Burrell storming down the inside part of the first base line. Kazmir tossed to first, but the ball went off the heel of Pena’s glove for an error on the first baseman that put men on first and second with two outs. Victorino swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and grounded to second to leave both men stranded.

Feliz started the sixth with another bloop hit, this one into right-center. Coste popped up a 2-2 pitch to second for the first out. Five men left on base for Coste through 5 1/3 innings. Ruiz flew softly to left on a 1-0 pitch for the second out. Rollins got ahead 2-1 and lined to center, giving him five men left stranded as well.

Lefty JP Howell started the seventh for Tampa Bay and struck Werth out on four pitches for the first out with the Phils up 3-2. Utley singled back through the middle and stole second. Howell’s 1-2 delivery to Howard was wild, allowing Utley to go to third. Howell struck Howard out swinging 3-2 for the second out. The lefty Howell stayed in to pitch to the righty Burrell with two outs and a man on third. Burrell drew a walk, looking at a 3-2 pitch that was just outside. Bruntlett ran for Burrell at first. Righty Grant Balfour came in to pitch to Victorino and overpowered him, striking him out swinging 2-2.

More offensive misery from the Phils as Howard can’t bring the runner in from third with less than two outs. Fortunately for him, strikeouts don’t matter.

Running for Burrell as the run that puts you up 5-2 in the seventh is awful. Howell is great against righties, but I still think it’s a mistake to let Howell pitch to Burrell. Especially if you’re bringing a righty for the next batter anyway.

Balfour returned for the eighth and set the Phils down in order. Feliz flew to right. Coste shattered his bat grounding back to the mound. Ruiz lined an 0-2 pitch to right, but Zobrist took it there to set the Phillies down.

Balfour was back at it to start the ninth and struck out Rollins on three pitches, with Rollins going down swinging at a very high fastball. Werth was next and looked sure to strike out as well, getting behind 1-2 but then lining a 3-2 pitch into right. The ball landed near the line and bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. The righty Balfour stayed in to walk the lefty Utley intentionally with lefty Trever Miller warming in the pen. Miller came in to pitch to Howard with one down and men on first and second. Howard saw four pitches, trying to check his swing on first offering but failing and then looking at a ball followed by a pair of strikes. Dan Wheeler came in to pitch to Bruntlett. Wheeler got ahead 0-2 and delivered a ball in the dirt as Utley and Werth pulled off a double-steal. Bruntlett popped to second for the third out.

It’s almost indefensible not to pinch-hit Dobbs or Stairs for Bruntlett against Wheeler. Don’t know what you’re saving them for. Taguchi can play left in the ninth or Jenkins can play right with Werth moving to left. Bruntlett is a career 221/286/310 hitter against righties and you’re winning by one run with a runner in scoring position. The only argument for keeping him in the game is that he is vastly superior to the other options in left, which I don’t believe is the case.

Curious that it was Miller and not lefty wunderkind David Price to pitch to Howard.

Rollins was 0-for-5, struck out twice and left five men on base. The tag he put on Pena in the sixth after Pena got picked off was a big defensive play for the Phils.

Werth was 2-for-4 with two doubles to the opposite field and a walk.

Utley 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and a walk. Stole two bases.

Howard was terrible. 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and four men left on base, failing multiple times to bring a runner in from third with less than two outs. Made an error in the field, but also made two nice defensive plays. He reached into the stands to get the Upton foul ball and made a nice throw to second after Hamels’ non-balk picked off Pena.

Burrell was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. Looked worse than that against the lefty starter.

Victorino was 2-for-4 and left four men on base.

Feliz 2-for-3 with a walk. First World Series hits for Feliz, who went 0-for-5 in the ’02 series when his Giants played the Angels.

Coste 0-for-4 with five men left on base. Coste looked awful, but was given a tough task after getting just one at-bat this month coming into the game. Hopefully he can find his swing and give the Phils the right-handed bat off the bench they need.

Ruiz 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Nice job to make contact and bring in Victorino with a ground ball in the fourth.

The Phillies drew nine walks in the game. Four in the six innings that Kazmir pitched and five in the three innings thrown by the pen.

Brett Myers (10-13, 4.55) faces righty James Shields (14-8, 3.56) tonight in game two.

Shields doesn’t walk many hitters, surrendering just 40 walks in 215 innings on the season. Righties and lefties hit about the same against him, .253 for righties and .255 for lefties. He allowed 24 home runs on the year, 12 that were hit by righties and 12 that were hit by lefties. He both struck out and walked lefties at a slightly higher rate than righties in 2008.

His strikeout rate shrunk as the season progressed. He struck out about 7.2 batters per nine innings through June and about 6.1 batters per nine innings in his starts in July, August and September.

He has made three post-season starts for the Rays and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of them. In 19 1/3 innings he’s thrown to a 3.72 ERA with a 1.40 ratio. His most recent start was the worst of the three. In game six of the ALCS he allowed four runs, only three of them earned, on nine hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings. The Red Sox hit a pair of doubles and a pair of home runs off of him.

Matt Stairs has faced Shields a lot without good results. Stairs is 3-for-20 with a home run and two walks against him. Nobody else on the Phillies has more than three at-bats against Shields.

Myers has made two starts in the post-season, pitching well against the Brewers but getting hit hard by the Dodgers. Overall he’s thrown to a 5.25 ERA with a 1.25 ratio. He’s walked seven in 12 innings.

Righties hit him hard than lefties this season. Lefties hit just 235/317/423 against Myers, righties 293/341/494. Despite the fact that righties hit him harder than lefties, Myers walked lefties at a higher rate than righties. Myers walked about 10% of the left-handed batters he faced and about 6% of the right-handed batters he faced.

Cliff Floyd has seen him a ton, going 12-for-33 (364/400/697) with two doubles and three home runs. Willy Aybar is 2-for-6 against him.

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Hello, my name is subject to change

After beating the Red Sox 3-1 in game seven of the ALCS, it’s the Tampa Bay don’t-call-me-Devil Rays that will face the Phillies in the 2008 World Series.

I kinda miss the flying manta ray, although it did seem a little random.

Here’s a look at the offense that Tampa Bay has gotten by position this year in comparison to other teams in the AL and in MLB and at some of the players we should expect to see in the World Series:

POS OPS AL Rank MLB Rank
C .729 5 12

Switch-hitter Dioner Navarro seems likely to see most of the time behind the plate for the Rays in the World Series. Navarro hit 295/349/407 for Tampa Bay in the regular season. He is 11-for-41 (268/318/341) in the post-season, with three doubles and a pair of triples.

He was a better hitter against righties than lefties in the regular season, hitting 312/365/412 against righties and 257/314/413 against lefties.

POS OPS AL Rank MLB Rank
1B .855 5 10

Lefty Carlos Pena played just over 80% of the innings at first base for Tampa Bay in 2008. Willy Aybar played the position about 11% of the time.

Pena hit 247/377/494 in the regular season. He is 12-for-36 (333/442/611) with a double, two home runs and seven walks in the post-season.

He struggles badly against left-handed pitching. He hit 280/418/576 against righties this year and just 190/302/352 against lefties.

POS OPS AL Rank MLB Rank
2B .741 7 16

Akinori Iwamura is a fixture at second base for Tampa Bay. He played about 92% of the innings there this season. The lefty hit 274/349/380 in 627 at-bats for the season. Among the 83 AL players with at least 450 plate appearances, his .380 slugging percentage was 73rd.

He is 13-for-47 (277/358/447) in the post-season with three doubles, a triple, a home run and six walks.

The lefty Iwamura is much better against righties than lefties. In 2008 he hit 280/356/400 against righties and 260/335/333 against lefties.

POS OPS AL Rank MLB Rank
3B .863 2 5

Evan Longoria gives the Rays tremendous offense out of the third base position. Aybar has also seen some time at third this year, but the position belongs to Longoria.

Longoria is a right-handed hitter who hit 272/343/531 this season. The 22-year-old rookie pumped out 27 home runs in just 448 at-bats. He has kept his power stroke up through the post-season, going 11-for-42 (262/340/762) with three doubles and six home runs.

He hit righties better than lefties this season. 284/350/540 against righties and 242/321/508 against left-handed pitching.

POS OPS AL Rank MLB Rank
SS .712 6 16

Jason Bartlett and Ben Zobrist have shared time at short this season, with Bartlett getting the vast majority of the playing time (75% of the innings for Bartlett, 20% for Zobrist). Bartlett will almost surely get just about all the time in the World Series.

Bartlett hit 286/329/361 in 454 at-bats this season. Among the 83 AL players with at least 450 plate appearances, his .361 slugging percentage is 77th.

In the post-season he is 9-for-32 (243/317/405).

Bartlett is a right-handed hitter who is awful (248/296/301) against right-handed pitching. He fared much better against lefties, hitting 379/411/508. The switch-hitter Zobrist had just 198 at-bats for the season and hit just .239 against righties, but while batting left against right-handed pitching had 15 extra-base hits (including nine home runs) in just 134 plate appearances. He slugged .538 against righties as a left-handed hitter.

POS OPS AL Rank MLB Rank
LF .719 11 24

Carl Crawford will see just about all the time in left for Tampa Bay. Crawford had his worst offensive year since 2003, hitting 273/319/400 in 443 at-bats. Eric Hinske, who also saw time in the Rays outfield and in left, was not on the roster for the ALCS.

Crawford is 13-for-43 (302/348/395) with two doubles, a triple and six stolen bases in the post-season.

A left-handed batter, Crawford was much better this season against righties than lefties. He hit 285/330/424 against righties and just 248/293/348 against lefties. Among 62 AL players with at least 150 plate appearances against lefties, Crawford’s .641 OPS was 59th.

POS OPS AL Rank MLB Rank
CF .748 7 16

Red hot BJ Upton will be in center field for the Rays. Upton hit just 273/383/401 with nine home runs in 531 regular season at-bats, but has gone 14-for-46 (304/365/826) with a double, a triple, a walk and seven home runs in the post-season.

Upton and Longoria are a combined 25-for-88 (.284) with 13 home runs since the end of the regular season. At that rate they would hit about 74 home runs over 500 at-bats.

Upton is a right-handed hitter who hit about the same against lefties and righties this year. 275/369/400 against righties and 271/418/406 against lefties. He got on base a lot more against lefties, but hit to about the same average and slugging percentage.

25-year-old rookie Fernando Perez also saw some time in the outfield and in center in September for Tampa. Perez got just 60 at-bats on the year, hitting 250/348/433. The switch-hitter is 1-for-9 with a single in the post-season (111/111/111). If we see him in the World Series it’s a lot more likely it will be in right than in center.

POS OPS AL Rank MLB Rank
RF .771 10 18

Gabe Gross got about 52% of the innings in right for Tampa Bay this season, with Hinske and Jonny Gomes there also factors for the Rays. Hinske and Gomes probably won’t be a factor in the series, but Rocco Baldelli started in right in game seven of the ALCS and Perez is a possibility.

Gross is a left-handed hitter who can’t hit lefties and has been terrible in the post-season. He hit 238/336/414 in 345 at-bats between Milwaukee and Tampa Bay this year. He’s just 1-for-16 (063/211/063) with a single and three walks in the post-season.

He’s miserable against lefties, just 191/247/338 on the year. Much better against right-handed pitching, 249/356/433.

Baldelli could be the answer for Tampa Bay in right against lefties. Baldelli is a right-handed hitter who missed most of ’08 and hit 263/344/475 in 80 at-bats.

Baldelli is 3-for-14 (214/313/429) with a home run in the post-season. Over his career he’s hit 296/347/494 against lefties and 276/316/427 against righties.

Zobrist also made an appearance in right in the ALCS despite playing just seven innings there during the regular season.

POS OPS AL Rank MLB Rank
DH .760 8 13

Lefty Cliff Floyd likely will be getting the call when the Rays need a DH in the series. Floyd is a left-handed hitter that doesn’t do well against lefties, so Aybar or Baldelli may see time in the DH games that are started by Hamels or Moyer.

Floyd hit 268/349/455 this season. He’s 3-for-15 with a double and a home run (200/200/467) in the post-season.

He doesn’t even get a chance to hit against lefties — he had just 12 plate appearances against them this season.

Aybar is a switch-hitter who appeared most often at third for Tampa Bay this season, but also saw time at first, second and made two appearances at shortstop. He has gotten a ton of at-bats in the post-season, going 11-for-30 (367/355/633) with two doubles and two home runs (and no walks).

Aybar was better against lefties this season, hitting 266/350/444 against them and an unimpressive 245/312/390 against righties.

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