Tag: Hector Luna

Phils work their oft questioned keep-it-close-and-try-to-get-Luna-to-the-plate-late playbook to perfection

The Phillies scored six runs in the top of the ninth inning last night, blowing a close game open on their way to a 9-2 win over the Cubs.

Kyle Kendrick made a strong start in the game, holding the Cubs to two runs on three hits over six innings. Only one of the runs was earned, thanks to an error on a dropped fly ball by Pierre in front of an Alfonso Soriano home run.

The bullpen, still miserable, didn’t blink in a close game. Jose Contreras, who came into the game with a 9.00 ERA for the season, threw a scoreless seventh with the game tied at 2-2. Bastardo, who has allowed one hit in nine appearances so far in May, struck out two in a 1-2-3 eighth with the Phils up a run. Raul Valdes made his debut with the Phillies in the ninth, striking out two more in another perfect frame after a two-run single by Wigginton and a grand slam from Hector Luna had broken the game open in the top of the inning.

By ERA, the Phillies bullpen is no longer the worst in all of baseball. At 5.02 they have passed the Tigers and the Mets.

The Phillies are 19-19 on the year after beating the Chicago Cubs 9-2 last night. They have won five of their last six games and four in a row for the first time this season.

Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing two runs on three hits. Only one of the runs was earned. He struck out four and didn’t walk a batter, dropping his ERA to 5.94 with the outing.

Over his last three starts, Kendrick has thrown to a 2.12 ERA with a 1.06 ratio.

David DeJesus doubled to right to start the bottom of the first. Tony Campana bunted him to third with the first out. Kendrick struck Starlin Castro out swinging 0-2 for the second out and got lefty Bryan LaHair on a fly ball to left to end the inning.

Big strikeout of Castro for the second out with a runner on third helps Kendrick keep Chicago off the board.

Up 1-0, Kendrick set the Cubs down in order in the second.

Darwin Barney led off the third with a single and pitcher Matt Garza bunted him to second with the first out. DeJesus flew to left for the second out with Barney moving up to third. Kendrick struck Campana out to leave Barney stranded.

With one out in the fourth, LaHair hit a fly ball to left that Pierre dropped for an error that left LaHair on second. Alfonso Soriano was next and hit a 2-2 pitch out to left, putting the Cubs on top 2-1. Kendrick got Ian Stewart and Geovany Soto on a pair of ground balls to end the inning.

Would have been a nifty time to catch the really routine fly ball to left in front of Soriano’s homer.

With the score tied at 2-2, Kendrick set the Cubs down in order in the fifth.

He struck out Campana in a 1-2-3 sixth. Mayberry made a nice diving play at first to rob LaHair of a hit, flipping to Kendrick covering first to end the inning.

Contreras started the seventh with the game still tied and got Soriano, Stewart and Soto in order.

Seems nutty to me to put Contreras into a tie game, but it worked out well for the Phils. Contreras is not charged with a run in his appearance for the first time in three outings, dropping his ERA on the season to 8.00.

Bastardo started the eighth with a 3-2 lead. He struck Barney out swinging for the first out. Righty Jeff Baker hit for the pitcher Shawn Camp and Bastardo got him swinging for the second out. DeJesus grounded to short for the third out.

I like Bastardo pitching the eighth in a tight game a whole lot better than Contreras pitching the seventh. Bastardo hasn’t allowed a run in nine appearances in May, giving up just one hit and three walks in 8 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out nine. He has pitched three of the last four days, but got Tuesday off.

Raul Valdes pitched the ninth with a 9-2 lead, making his Phillies debut. He set the Cubs down in order, striking out pinch-hitter Joe Mather and LaHair.

Three shutdown innings from the pen in which they do not allow a hit or a walk while striking out five.

Bastardo threw 21 pitches in the game, Valdes 20 and Contreras 13. None of that group has pitched more than one day in a row, but Bastardo has thrown three of the last four days.

The Phillies lineup against righty Matt Garza went (1) Rollins (2) Pierre (3) Victorino (4) Pence (5) Ruiz (6) Polanco (7) Mayberry (8) Galvis.

With one out in the top of the first, Pierre bunted down the first base line. Garza fielded, but made an awful throw to first for an error. Pierre stole second and Victorino bunted him to third with the second out. Pence grounded to third to leave Pierre stranded.

Really, really not a fan of bunting with your three-hitter in the top of the first inning even if it works.

Pierre was almost surely out at first on his bunt attempt, but got the call.

Ruiz started the second with a single into center. Polanco flew to center for the first out before Mayberry moved Ruiz up to second with a dribbler out in front of the plate for the second. Galvis was next and ripped a double down the first base line, scoring Ruiz to put the Phils up 1-0. Kendrick struck out looking to leave Galvis at second.

Rollins and Pierre singled back-to-back to start the third, putting runners on first and second for Victorino. Victorino popped to second for the first out before Pence walked to load the bases. Ruiz grounded into a double-play to end the frame.

Can’t believe they didn’t bunt with Victorino. Just kidding. No run for the Phils after putting runners on first and second with nobody out.

Pierre’s single was another bunt. Again Garza made an absurd throw to first. This time it was called a single instead of an error.

The Phils went in order in the fourth.

They started the fifth down 2-1. Kendrick led off with a single and moved to third on a one-out double by Pierre. Victorino was next and reached on an infield single on another close play at first. Kendrick scored to tie the game at 2-2 and Pierre moved up to third. Pence hit into a double-play to end the inning.

Garza walked off the mound remarking to the umpires that it was the second time they had missed the call at first. The first was on Pierre’s bunt in the first and this time Victorino looked out at first.

The Phils went in order in the sixth.

Galvis fouled out trying to bunt for a hit to start the seventh. With Garza still on the mound for Chicago, Fontenot hit for Kendrick and singled softly to right. Rollins lined to left for the second out. Lefty James Russell came in to pitch to Pierre. Wigginton hit for Pierre and walked, putting runners on first and second. Victorino struck out to leave them both there.

Glad to see Wigginton hit for Pierre against the lefty. Fontenot has one pinch-hit on the season. There are only two players on the team with more than one pinch-hit on the season. Mayberry has three and Pierre has two. 185/267/259 for the pinch-hitters this year for the Phils. They have struck out 24 times in 61 plate appearances.

Righty Shawn Camp got Pence on a fly ball to left for the first out in the eighth before Ruiz hit a 1-1 pitch out to left for his seventh homer of the year, putting the Phils up 3-2. Orr hit for Contreras and struck out for the second out. Mayberry struck out for the third.

Galvis doubled to left off of lefty Scott Maine to start the ninth. Fontenot was hit by a pitch behind him and Rollins walked, loading the bases with nobody out. Righty Michael Bowden came on to pitch to Wigginton and Wigginton singled into right. Galvis and Fontenot scored, putting the Phils up 5-2 with nobody out and runners on first and second. Victorino popped to short for the first out before Rollins and Wigginton pulled off a double-steal. Pence popped to second for the second out. With first base open, the righty Bowden walked the righty Ruiz, loading the bases for Bastardo’s slot. Luna hit for Bastardo and hit an 0-1 pitch out to left for a grand slam, putting the Phils on top 9-2. Mayberry struck out looking to end the frame.

Big swings for Luna and for Wigginton. Galvis is tied for fourth in the NL in doubles.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a walk in the game. The Phillies are tenth in the NL in on-base percentage in the #1 spot in the order at .303. Rollins has on-based .310 in 85 PA as the #1 hitter, Pierre .333 in 60 PA and Victorino .259 in 27 PA.

Pierre was 2-for-3 with a double. Twice he bunted and got on base, one of the attempts was called an error. He dropped a fly ball in left field that cost the Phils one of the two runs they allowed in the game.

Victorino was 1-for-5 with an RBI on his infield single on a very close play at first (and by that I mean he was out). He left seven men on base. He’s 2-for-his-last-14. 235/278/390 over his last 144 plate appearances. For the year, Phillies hitting out of the #3 spot in the order have put up a .601 OPS, which is 15th-best of the 16 NL teams. Victorino has been bad (254/293/394 in 75 PA) and Rollins worse (216/253/243 in 80 PA).

Pence 0-for-4 with a walk and left five men on base. The Phillies score nine runs in the game and their three and four hitters combine to go 1-for-9 with an infield single and 12 men left on base.

Ruiz 2-for-4 with a walk and a home run. He’s on pace to hit 30 home runs, which would be more than his career high of nine. He’s 8-for-his-last-17 with two walks and two homers. He’s tied for eleventh in the NL in RBI with 24.

Polanco 0-for-3. He came into the game hitting .362 over his last 74 plate appearances.

Mayberry was 0-for-5 and struck out three times. He’s 3-for-his-last-16. The Phillies need to try someone else at first base against right-handed pitching and I’m guessing they will — Mayberry is hitting 207/246/241 for the year against right-handed pitching. Ty Wigginton obviously isn’t the ideal guy at first against righties, but he may be a better choice than Mayberry in the short term with Thome, Nix and Howard out. Wigginton was 1-for-1 with a walk and two RBI last night. He’s 3-for-his-last-26 overall and hitting 262/324/311 against righties for the year.

Galvis 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. He’s 5-for-his-last-11 with a walk and two doubles. Hitting 298/340/489 in 50 plate appearances so far in May.

Halladay (3-3, 3.20) faces righty Chris Volstad (0-5, 6.92) tonight. Halladay has had two starts of his seven on the season in which he has allowed more than two runs. One of them, May 2 against the Braves, blew up his numbers for the season badly as he allowed eight runs over 5 1/3 innings and was unable to hold a 6-0 lead. Since that start he’s had two outings in which he has allowed four runs over 14 innings (2.57 ERA, 1.00 ratio while striking out 17). Volstad has allowed four or more runs in five straight starts, one of which came against the Phillies. On April 30, he allowed four runs over six innings against the Phils. The Phillies rallied late to win that game 6-4. The righty Volstad has been better against lefties than righties so far this season. Righties have hit 307/354/466 against him and lefties 261/311/391.


News bittersweet as Phils win, but pleas to extend Spring Training by like 120 games or so fall on deaf ears

Phils topped the Pirates 7-2 last night in their final game before opening the regular season on Thursday. They end their official Spring Training games with a 14-16-4 mark.

Hamels started the game for the Phillies and was fantastic, throwing four shutout innings in which he allowed three hits, no walks and struck out five. In seven Spring Training starts, Hamels threw to a 2.93 ERA with a 1.19 ratio.

Bastardo started the fifth, throwing on back-to-back days. He faced three batters, got two of them and allowed a single to the other. Herndon took over with two outs and a man on first and allowed a double and a single to the first two men he faced before getting a strikeout to end the inning.

Bastardo ends Spring Training with an 0.81 ratio, but a 4.15 ERA. I feel pretty sure that if he keeps throwing to an 0.81 ratio, his ERA is going to be a whole lot better than 4.15. Last year, for example, his ratio was 0.93 and his ERA 2.64.

Herndon finishes with a 3.31 ERA and a 1.29 ratio. Opponents hit .288 against him, but in 16 1/3 innings he struck out 14 and walked just two.

Valdes threw a 1-2-3 seventh. Qualls threw a 1-2-3 eighth. Papelbon threw a 1-2-3 ninth.

Valdes will not make the team despite a 1.32 ERA and an 0.88 ratio and 14 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings.

Qualls 4.22 ERA and 1.03 ratio. Opponents hit just .179 against him, but he walked four in 10 2/3 innings.

Papelbon finishes with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.29 ratio. He held opponents to a .229 average, but walked five in 11 2/3 innings.

Polanco was 1-for-3 in the game and hit a three-run homer in the fifth. He ends Spring Training at 429/478/571.

Galvis had another extra-base hit, doubling in his only at-bat. 280/295/476 in 82 at-bats. He led the team with 14 RBI.

Nix also doubled in what was an awful spring for him. He was 1-for-4 with a double in the game and winds up at 208/300/264.

Ruiz was 1-for-2 with a double. 479/500/771 in 48 at-bats. .771? Yup. 23-for-48 with eight doubles and two home runs.

Mayberry ends his ugly spring with a good day, going 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. 203/259/304. He gets a big do-over starting on Thursday — he and the Phils could both use it, cause they’re going to need him to not hit .203 with no power.

We’ll probably be seeing a lot of Wigginton in the early going, too. He was 0-for-1 last night to drop his line to 185/260/246.

Roy Halladay faces lefty Erik Bedard on Thursday.

Joe Savery made the team and so did Pete Orr. Podsednik (309/377/455) and Luna (302/351/528) did not. Neither did Raul Valdes.

Valdes was significantly better than his fellow lefty Savery this Spring Training. Valdes threw 13 2/3 innings with a 1.32 ERA and an 0.88 ratio while striking out 14. Savery threw to a 3.48 ERA with a 1.45 ratio and struck out nine in 10 1/3 innings.

Pierre winds up outhitting Podsednik. 377/433/426 in 61 at-bats for Pierre and 309/377/455 in 55 at-bats for Podsednik.

This says Stutes and Herndon will start the year with the Phils.

That makes 25.

Hitters (13): Ruiz, Schneider, Thome, Mayberry, Wigginton, Galvis, Orr, Rollins, Polanco, Nix, Pierre, Victorino, Pence.

Pitchers (12): Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Blanton, Worley, Kendrick, Papelbon, Savery, Bastardo, Qualls, Stutes, Herndon.


And then there were Juan

This article suggests that Juan Pierre will start the year with the Phillies, Lou Montanez definitely will not and Scott Podsednik very likely will not.

Pierre had two hits yesterday, raising his line to 313/377/333 in 48 at-bats, as the Phils topped the Rays 2-1.

Hamels started the game for the Phillies and was very good, holding the Rays to a run over 5 2/3 innings on three hits and two walks while striking out seven. Evan Longoria homered off of him in the fourth. Hamels dropped his ERA to 3.42 with the effort.

Chad Qualls struck out Carlos Pena to end the sixth. Savery followed Qualls and threw two shutout innings in which he faced just seven batters, allowing a leadoff double to Elliot Johnson but getting the next three Rays to keep them from scoring. Savery has made six official Spring Training appearances and thrown to a 3.24 ERA with a 1.20 ratio and struck out nine in 8 1/3 innings.

Papelbon threw a scoreless ninth, dropping his ERA to 0.90.

Brian Schneider had quite a day, going 2-for-4 with a double and a home run. His solo shot in the fifth got the Phils their first run. He doubled with one out in the ninth and Tuffy Gosewisch ran for him. Gosewisch would score the game-winning run on Hector Luna’s single to right three batters later.

It was Luna’s only at-bat of the day and the hit raised his line to 302/362/558.

Pierre was 2-for-2 in the game with two singles and a stolen base. Podsednik 0-for-1 with a strikeout — he’s hitting .347.

Orr started at shortstop and went 0-for-4. 294/351/431. Orr has appeared in 393 games in his career and made nine appearances at shortstop. Eight of the nine came with Washington in 2008.

Nix was 0-for-3 to drop his average to .186. Mayberry is hitting .188 after going 0-for-1.

The Phillies play the Yankees tonight with Bastardo expected to pitch.

Michael Stutes was scheduled to pitch in that game, but this article explains that he has stiffness in his right shoulder and it’s unclear if he will be ready for Opening Day.

If we’re guessing, my guess is he won’t.

So let’s review who might be on the pitching staff when the season starts. I think we can count on these guys: Halladay, Lee, Hamels, Blanton, Worley, Kendrick, Papelbon, Bastardo, Qualls. That’s nine.

My guess is that Contreras and Stutes won’t be on the active roster for Opening Day. The Phillies need at least two and maybe three more pitchers. Herndon seems like a very good bet to be one and I still think Raul Valdes with be a second. That makes 11, including two lefties in Valdes and Bastardo. Savery would be my guess for the 12th if the Phils start the year with 13 hitters.

On the hitters side, I think we should now be counting on these guys: Ruiz, Schneider, Mayberry, Wigginton, Galvis, Rollins, Polanco, Nix, Victorino, Pence, Thome, Pierre. That’s 12, leaving one or two openings. My guess is Orr is one of them and Luna would be my second guess if the Phils carry 14 hitters.

So I think there are nine pitching near locks and 12 hitting near locks. Herndon seems like just about a certainty. Valdes and Orr seem highly likely. That’s 24 and I think it leaves one slot for Savery or Luna, assuming that Contreras and Stutes are both not on the active roster to start the season.


Doing less with more

In the past several posts I have pointed out that the Phillies starting pitchers, and Halladay, Hamels and Lee in particular, were exceptional at preventing walks in 2011.

As you know, their exceptionalness made for some nice walk numbers for the Phillie starting pitchers last year. In 2011, Phillie starting pitchers faced more batters than any other National League team. They also walked fewer batters than any NL team.

Team Batters Faced Walks % BB
PHI 
ARI 
STL 
WSN 
MIL 
FLA 
NYM 
CIN 
LAD 
SDP 
ATL 
PIT 
HOU 
CHC 
SFG 
COL 
TOT
4318
4214
4242
3948
4160
4033
4215
4139
4119
4034
4043
4019
4174
4098
4172
4082
66010
221
276
278
266
301
292
315
312
314
311
312
315
355
353
362
373
4956
5.1%
6.5%
6.6%
6.7%
7.2%
7.2%
7.5%
7.5%
7.6%
7.7%
7.7%
7.8%
8.5%
8.6%
8.7%
9.1%
7.5%

After the Phillies, the Cardinals were the team whose starting pitchers faced the next highest number of hitters. They faced 266 fewer hitters than the starting pitchers for the Phillies. The Nats were the team whose starters threw the second-fewest number of walks — they walked 45 more than the Phils.

The average NL team saw their starters walk about 7.5% of the batters they faced. Phillies started walked about 5.1% of them. By percentage of batters faced that walked, the Diamondbacks were the second-best rotation at preventing walks — Arizona started faced 104 fewer batters in 2011 and walked 55 more.

The Astros hammered the Phillies 10-3 yesterday, dropping the Phils to 2-3 in Spring Training.

Worley started for the Phils and allowed two runs in two innings on five hits and a walk. Pat Misch was next. He threw a scoreless third before allowing four runs in the fourth, three of which were unearned because of a two-out throwing error by Frandsen at third. Papelbon allowed a triple and a walk in the fifth, but kept the Astros off the board. Willis was next and he got hit hard for his second time in two tries, charged with four runs on three hits and two walks while getting just two outs. Rosenberg, Qualls and Stutes finished it out, combining to throw 3 1/3 shutout innings.

Nice to see Qualls and Stutes both put up some zeroes after each were hit hard in their first official Spring Training appearance.

Willis says he’s sore and tired in this article. Rich Dubee also says the Phils won’t carry two left-handed relievers for the sake of having more than one lefty in the pen. In two outings so far, Willis has allowed five runs in 1 2/3 innings on five hits and three walks (that’s a 27.00 ERA and a 4.80 ratio — opponents have hit .500 against him).

The Phillies had five hits in the game. Podsednik doubled in his only at-bat of the day, his third double already, and is 4-for-8 so far. Lou Montanez was 1-for-2 with a double. Hector Luna homered yet again — 3-for-7 with a double and a home run in official action with another homer in unofficial action against FSU.

Frandsen started at third and went 0-for-4 with an error. 1-for-12 with nightmareish defense so far. Nix is still looking for his first hit — he’s 0-for-9 after going 0-for-3 yesterday.

The Phillies play the Pirates this afternoon with Hamels and Bush expected to pitch.

Harold Garcia, he of the 40-man roster, had surgery on his right knee and will miss four to six months.

Thome will play first base in a minor league game on Monday. The same article says that Laynce Nix had “been bothered with a sore muscle near his left groin.”


Not walking men

Remember this from about a year ago? In 2010, Phillies pitchers overall combined to walk 416 batters for the year. That was the fewest number of walks issued by an NL team since the 1995 Mets walked 401.

We can now add 2011 to the list and again the Phillies have walked the fewest hitters of any NL team. Here’s the NL team that has issued the fewest walks overall since 1995 (the last time any NL team walked fewer hitters than the Phillies did in 2010 or 2011):

Year Team Walks
2011 PHI 404
2010 PHI 416
2009 STL 460
2008 ARI 451
2007 SD 474
2006 CIN 464
2005 HOU 440
2004 SD 422
2003 MON 463
2002 ARI 421
2001 NYM 438
2000 ATL 484
1999 HOU 478
1998 HOU 465
1997 ATL 450
1996 ATL 451
1995 NYM 401

I have mixed feelings about the Phils cutting down their walk rate even further, cause if they knock or four more walks in 2012 I’m probably going to have to look more stuff up.

It was pretty much a three-man show for the Phils in terms of preventing walks in 2011. As I mentioned in a recent post, Halladay, Lee and Hamels all pitched a ton of innings and excelled at preventing walks. Here’s a look at the walks per nine innings rate for Halladay, Lee and Hamels as a group compared to the rest of the team for 2011:

Innings Walks BB per 9
Halladay, Lee and Hamels 682 1/3 121 1.60
Rest of the team 794 2/3 283 3.21

So that trio walked less than half the hitters per nine innings that the rest of the team did. They also threw a tremendous number of innings, 46.2% of the total innings thrown by the team.

Hamels had the worst walk rate of the group of Halladay, Lee and Hamels at 1.83 walks per nine. No pitcher on the team in 2011 when threw at least 45 innings had a walk rate under two — Blanton threw 41 1/3 innings with a walk rate of 1.96 per nine frames and Joe Savery and Wilson Valdez combined not to walk a hitter over 3 1/3 innings. Among the guys who had at least 50 innings pitched in 2011, Oswalt was the pitcher other than the big three with the best walk rate — he allowed 2.14 walks per nine.

The Phils beat the Yankees 9-3 yesterday and are 1-2 in official action so far in Spring Training.

Blanton got the start and allowed two singles in two scoreless innings. Scott Elarton followed Blanton and went two frames as well, setting down all six men he faced. Austin Hyatt was charged with two runs over two innings. Brian Sanches pitched the seventh and was charged with a run on four singles before Herndon went two scoreless frames.

Domonic Brown continued his reign of butchery in the outfield, misplaying then diving at and missing a ball hit by Brett Gardner in the sixth inning that was called a triple. Kevin Frandsen threw the relay away on the same play for an error, allowing Gardner to score.

Still real early, but Brown has already looked terrible in the outfield.

Martinez hit a two-run homer for the Phils in his only at-bat. Rollins was 2-for-2 and stole two bases. Hector Luna was 1-for-2 with a three-run double, which comes after a home run in the game against Florida State. He seems like a tough guy for the Phillies to carry if he can’t play short. Polanco started at third and went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles.

The Phils play the Blue Jays this afternoon. Cliff Lee and Kyle Kendrick are expected to pitch.

Charlie Manuel suggests it’s going to be a while before Utley plays in this article.


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