Tag: Jair Jurrjens

The old man and the C-minus

Two games, two bad starts for the Phillies. Last night Kelly Johnson hit Jamie Moyer’s very first pitch of the season out to right. Things got better from there, they would have to, but not by a whole lot.

While Myers and Moyer didn’t impress in the first two games, it’s nothing compared to the struggles of the offense to put runs on the board. After scoring one run in the opener, the Phils were shutout last night. Manuel did make a change to the lineup, dropping Werth down to split up three big left-handed bats in a row. If nobody is going to hit, though, it doesn’t matter a lot where they do it.

The news isn’t all bad for the Phils. The bullpen has been absolutely outstanding in the first two games. In seven innings they haven’t allowed a hit or a walk. Jack Taschner has pitched three perfect frames. Clay Condrey, coming off a great spring, made his ’09 debut last night and looked fantastic.

The Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves last night, falling 4-0 to drop to 0-2 on the season.

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went five innings, allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and two home runs. He struck out two.

Kelly Johnson led off for Atlanta and hit Moyer’s first pitch of the game out to right to put Atlanta up 1-0. Moyer got Yunel Escobar to ground to short for the first out, but Chipper Jones was next and he doubled high off the wall in center. Brian McCann followed and hit a 1-2 pitch to second where it went under the glove of Utley for an error. Jones scored from second and it was 2-0. Garret Anderson moved McCann to second with a single to left, but Moyer got Jeff Francoeur to pop to Howard at first and Casey Kotchman on a ground ball to first to leave both men stranded.

Moyer walked Jordan Schafer to start the second and the pitcher Jair Jurrjens bunted him to second for the first out. Johnson fouled out to Feliz for the first out and Escobar flew to center for the third.

The Braves went in order in the third. Chipper went down swinging, McCann hit a hard ground ball to first that Howard handled and Anderson grounded to first less dramatically.

Francoeur led off the fourth with a bloop single to right. Kotchman was next and hit a 3-2 pitch back through the middle. The ball wasn’t hit especially hard and Rollins had a chance to field, but the ball went off Rollins’ glove. Francoeur went to third and Kotchman, who was given a hit, was safe at first. The hit call was right, but it’s a play that Rollins makes often. Moyer got Schafer to pop to short for the first out and struck Jurrjens out on three pitches for the second. Johnson was next and he hit a 2-1 pitch slowly to short. Rollins charged, fielded and threw to first but didn’t have a chance to get Johnson on a ball hit so slowly. Francoeur scored and Kotchman went to second with Atlanta up 3-0. Escobar slammed a 1-0 pitch into left field for a single. Kotchman came around second and tried to score, but Ibanez made a strong throw home that was online. Ruiz picked it on an in-between hop and put the tag on to end the inning. Nice throw by Ibanez and a nice catch and tag from Ruiz to record the out.

Chipper led off the fifth and blasted Moyer’s first pitch out to left. 4-0. McCann followed with a walk before Anderson popped to first for the first out. Francoeur was next and he his a soft fly ball to left. Ibanez charged and took it easily. Not a hard play and Ibanez made it look easy — Burrell probably would have gotten there, too, but it surely wouldn’t have looked easy. Kotchman flew to right to leave McCann stranded.

Second time in the game the Braves took Moyer deep on the first pitch of the at-bat.

Park, who won’t make his first start until Sunday against the Rockies, started the sixth inning with the Phils down four. He set the Braves down in order without much help from Feliz. Schafer hit a grounded to third that Feliz didn’t handle cleanly and then threw in the dirt. Howard made a nice scoop to record the first out. With two outs, Johnson popped a foul down the third base line that Feliz should have caught but didn’t as he shied away from the railing. Johnson flew to center to set Atlanta down.

Taschner pitched the seventh after throwing 17 pitches Sunday night and had an easy 1-2-3 inning, setting down Escobar, Jones and McCann on three ground balls.

He came back for the eighth, too, and again set Atlanta down in order. Francoeur hammered a ball out but foul and Utley made a nice sliding stop on a ground ball by Kotchman before throwing to first for the third out, but it was impressive nonetheless.

Condrey started the ninth, making his first appearance of the year coming off a very solid spring training. He struck Schafer out on four pitches for the first out. Greg Norton hit for the pitcher Rafael Soriano and Condrey struck him out as well. Johnson was next and hit a line drive to the left of Rollins. Rollins made a great play to knock the ball down and throw to first where Howard made another nice scoop to set Atlanta down.

More fantastic work from a Phillies bullpen that has not allowed a hit or a walk in seven innings to start the season. In this game they combined to throw four perfect innings. Taschner threw 26 pitches and Park 21, so we likely won’t see either of them this afternoon. Just 11 pitches for Condrey.

The Phillies lineup against righty Jair Jurrjens went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Ibanez (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Manuel splits up the lefties for game two, dropping Werth to the five-hold and moving Victorino up to hit second. That’s the way to go with those players in the lineup. Feliz starts against a righty for the second straight day, so if you were holding out hope that this was the year Dobbs and Feliz platoon, so far no good.

Utley and Howard singled back-to-back with two outs in the first, but Werth grounded to second to leave the runners stranded at first and third.

Ibanez led off the second and drove a ball into the gap in left-center. Anderson went after it and got to it, but the ball went off his glove. Ibanez was given a double. Didn’t help the Phils any, though. Feliz flew to right for the first out. Ruiz was next and he hit a ground ball to short. Escobar fielded and threw to third, where Ibanez was tagged out for the second out. Sounds like bad base-running by Ibanez, but it wasn’t. The ball was to his left, Escobar made an odd choice to go to third but it worked out for Atlanta. Moyer drew a walk to put men on first and second, but Rollins grounded back to the mound for the third out.

Phillies can’t score after the leadoff double.

Victorino and Utley struck out to start the third. Howard delivered a two-out single, but was left stranded when Werth flew to left. Werth looked like he had hit the ball very well, but Anderson took it in front of the track.

Down 3-0, the Phils went in order in the fourth.

Miguel Cairo hit for Moyer to start the fifth with the Phillies losing by four runs and hit a ball to second that Johnson didn’t handle for an error. Rollins flew to right for the first out before Victorino drew a walk. It put men on first and second with one down for Utley. Utley flew to center for the second out. Howard was next and hit the ball hard back up the middle, but that’s right where the Braves were playing him with the shift. Escobar took the ball behind second base and threw to second to force Victorino and end the inning.

Werth and Ibanez flew out to start the sixth before Feliz drew a walk. Righty Jeff Bennett came in to pitch to Ruiz and Ruiz smoked a single into left that sent Feliz to second. Stairs hit for Park and Atlanta called on lefty Eric O’Flaherty to pitch to him. He worked the count full and drove a ball into left-center, but Schafer tracked it down to leave both men stranded.

Utley singled to left-center with two down in the seventh, but O’Flaherty got Howard on another ground ball to Escobar for the third out.

Righty Rafael Soriano came in to pitch the eighth with Werth due to lead off. Werth struck out swinging for the first out. Ibanez was next and got to hit against the righty with the Phils down four. He hit a ball hard back to the mound and off of Soriano’s glove, but the pitcher was on it quickly and tossed to first to get Ibanez for the second out. Feliz drew a walk on four pitches, putting a man on for Ruiz. Ruiz hit it hard to left, but Anderson took it at the warning track to end the inning.

Lefty Mike Gonzalez started the ninth for Atlanta. Bruntlett hit for Condrey and lined to left for the first out. Rollins flew to Anderson on the warning track for the second out and Victorino flew to left-center to end the game.

Bruntlett as the best right-handed pinch-hitting option isn’t good. He really isn’t the guy you want as either your backup corner outfielder or your best right-handed pinch-hitter.

The second, when Ibanez led off with a double, and the fifth, when Cairo led off and reached on an error, were the best chances for the Phils to score. Maybe today.

Rollins was 0-for-5 and left three men on base.

Victorino 0-for-4 with a walk. Still looking for his first hit after a bad spring training.

Utley 2-for-4 with two singles and an error.

Howard 2-for-4. Made several nice plays at first base, digging out throws in the dirt from Rollins and Feliz.

Werth 0-for-4.

Ibanez 1-for-4 with a double.

Feliz 0-for-2 with two walks. Two walks in a game may seem like a big deal for Feliz, but it’s not unheard of. He did it three times just last year.

Ruiz 1-for-4.

Joe Blanton faces righty Javier Vazquez this afternoon. Blanton had a great spring and made one start against the Braves last year. On July 27 he went just two innings before being forced out of the game by a long rain delay. Anderson and Kotchman have both seen him a lot from their days in the AL. Anderson 314/368/371 against him in 35 at-bats. Kotchman 300/333/500 in 20 at-bats. Vazquez pitched for the White Sox in 2008 and didn’t face the Phillies. Jimmy Rollins has faced him a ton from Vazquez’s time with the Expos and Diamondbacks. 186/222/349 in 43 at-bats. Ibanez 5-for-14 (.357). Stairs 2-for-24 (.083). Amaro 0-for-1 with a strikeout (on June 6, 1998).


Take two

Jamie Moyer faces righty Jair Jurrjens tonight as the Phils play the second game of their season.

Moyer comes off a weak spring training in which he threw to an 8.27 ERA with a 1.94 ratio. He made two starts against the Braves in 2008, throwing to a 6.55 ERA with a 1.64 ratio. He pitched well against Atlanta on June 6 of last season, allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings. The Phils scored a run in the top of the ninth to tie the game with the help of a dropped popup by Kelly Johnson and won 4-3 in ten innings. On September 16 Moyer was hit hard by the Braves. He was charged with six runs over 5 2/3 innings. The Phils went into the seventh down 7-4, but scored four runs off the Atlanta pen to come away with an 8-7 win.

Garrett Anderson has 104 career at-bats against Moyer. He’s hit 317/327/567 (two walks in 104 at-bats). Chipper 5-for-13 (.385), McCann 8-for-18 (.444) with two homers. Kotchman 5-for-9 (.555) with five singles.

The 23-year-old Jurrjens comes off a nice 2008 season in which he went 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA and a 1.37 ratio. He allowed just 11 home runs in 188 1/3 innings last year and fared well against both righties (260/320/367) and lefties (261/333/399).

He made four ’08 starts against the Phillies, throwing to a 3.38 ERA and a 1.07 ratio. July 3, July 25, September 17 and September 22. The July 25 start was the best. In that game Jurrjens went eight shutout innings and allowed three hits and a walk.

Feliz is 3-for-7 with a home against Jurrjens in his career. Ruiz 1-for-10. Utley 2-for-10 with a home run and four strikeouts. Howard 2-for-11 with a homer.

Jurrjens threw 29 1/3 innings in spring training, pitching to a 2.76 ERA and a 1.40 ratio.

Apparently it’s your interest that allows the Phillies to pay Ibanez $11.5 million in 2011 and Geoff Jenkins $8 million not to play at all. Way to go.


JA leads the wa

It wasn’t the ’27 Yankees. Actually, with Chipper Jones and Brian McCann on the bench to start the game, it wasn’t even the ’08 Braves, either. But JA Happ did it again last night. For the second time in two starts, the 25-year-old pitched well enough to help the Phils get a big win in the heat of a tight race for a division title.

Happ kept the game close and the Phils broke open a 2-2 tie with four runs in the eighth. After Greg Golson helped the Phillies create a run with his speed, Pat Burrell hit a ball out to left for a three-run homer that broke the game open.

The list of Phillies playing well these days is pretty long — long enough for some of the stars of September to be overlooked. Pitching for the third straight day, Ryan Madson made his eleventh appearance of the month last night. He hasn’t been charged with a run since August 28. With three more hits last night, Shane Victorino is 18-for-his-last-33.

The Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves last night, winning 6-2 to improve to 89-68 on the season. They have won three in a row and are 21 games above .500 for the first time since 1993. They lead the Mets in the NL East by 2 1/2 games. The Mets are a game ahead of the Brewers for the Wild Card.

Happ got the start for the Phillies and went 6 2/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a two-run homer. He struck out five.

Happ threw a 1-2-3 first.

He started the second up 1-0. Omar Infante led off with a single and went to second on a passed ball. Jeff Francoeur was next and grounded to short with Infante going to third with one down. Casey Kotchman lined to short for the second out. Clint Sammons was swinging 3-0 and popped up to Howard in foul territory to end the frame.

Up 2-0, he set the Braves down in order in the third.

He struck out two in a 1-2-3 fourth.

Sammons walked with two outs in the fifth. Brent Lillibridge was next and moved Hammonds to second with a single. The pitcher Jair Jurrjens popped to Howard to set the Braves down.

Martin Prado singled with one out in the sixth. Kelly Johnson was next and the lefty hit an 0-1 pitch out to right, tying the game at 2-2. Happ struck out Infante before Francoeur singled into center, but Kotchman flew to Werth in right for the third out.

Happ started the seventh having thrown 84 pitches. He got Sammons to pop to Howard for the first out, but Lillibridge hit the first pitch of his at-bat into left for a single. Jurrjens hit for himself and bunted Lillibridge to second for the second out. Righty Yunel Escobar hit for the righty Josh Anderson and Manuel called on Seanez to pitch to Escobar. Greg Norton hit for Escobar and the Phillies put him on. With men on first and second and two down, Seanez got Prado to ground to third to set the Braves down.

Seanez returned for the eighth. Johnson led off and lined a ball into right-center. Werth made a nice effort, diving for the ball but having it go off his glove. Victorino was backing up nicely, but kicked the ball, then threw to Utley and Utley dropped the relay. Johnson wound up on third and Victorino was charged with an error. Infante lined to first for the first out. Francoeur was next, and with the infield in, hit a high chop to short with Johnson running on contact. Rollins jumped up to field it, landed and threw a strike to the plate where Ruiz tagged out the sliding Johnson for the second out. Great play by Rollins and by Ruiz — Ruiz did a fantastic job of blocking the plate and denying Johnson a part of the plate to slid into. Johnson was going to have to run Ruiz over and that’s gotta be a tough sell when you’re 19 games out of first place. Eyre came in to pitch to the lefty Kotchman and got him to fly to center for the third out.

Madson started the ninth with a 6-2 lead. Lidge wasn’t going to pitch, Madson was up when the Phils went up 3-2. Switch-hitter Ruben Gotay hit for the righty Sammons and flew to right for the first out. Switchy Chipper Jones hit for righty Brent Lillibridge and singled to left. Lefty Brian McCann hit for the pitcher Julian Tavarez and drove a ball the opposite way down the left field line. The ball hit off the line at the top of the wall and over. McCann was given, correctly, a double. With one out and men on second and third, Gregor Blanco flew to left for the second out. Prado was next and hit the ball hard but right at Utley. Utley took it and threw to first to end the game.

Great job by Manuel not to use Lidge for the third straight day given how many pitches he has thrown. Seanez, Eyre and Madson combined to go 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits and a walk. Seanez threw 22 pitches, Eyre three and Madson 13. Madson is the only guy of that group that rest should be a factor for. Madson was pitching for his third straight day, although he has thrown less than 15 pitches in each of the last two days after throwing 25 on Saturday.

The massive contribution of Madson this month has somehow escaped the attention it deserves. Madson has made 11 appearances this month and thrown 12 1/3 innings without being charged with a run. Nine hits and one walk while striking out 15.

The Phillies lineup against righty Jair Jurrjens went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Werth (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Feliz plays third against the righty after the big home run on Sunday. Ruiz catches. Slumpers Burrell and Werth stay in the lineup.

Rollins led off the first with a double. Utley was next and he hit an 0-1 pitch into the right field corner for another double. Rollins scored and the Phils led 1-0. Utley was left stranded at second, though. Werth grounded to short, Howard flew to left and Burrell flew to left.

Victorino led off the second with a single and went to second when Feliz followed with a ground ball to short. He went to third on a wild pitch and the Braves brought the infield in with Ruiz at the plate. With Victorino running on contact, Ruiz hit a ground ball to short and Johnson had to take the out at first as Victorino scored to put the Phils up 2-0. Happ grounded to second for the third out.

Utley walked with one out in the third, but Werth and Howard went down behind him.

Victorino singled with one out in the fourth. Feliz hit into a double-play behind him.

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

The game was tied at 2-2 when they hit in the sixth. Werth singled to center with one out and stole second as Howard struck out for the second out. Burrell flew to center for the third out.

They went 1-2-3 in the seventh.

Dobbs hit for Eyre to start the eighth and singled into center. Golson ran for Dobbs at first. Jeff Bennett tried to pick Golson off of first, but threw the ball away and Golson went all the way to third. Rollins grounded to second for the first out and Utley was walked intentionally. Werth hit a ground ball to third and Golson took off on contact. Prado made a strong throw home, but Golson slid in safely. Sammons didn’t do nearly as good a job of blocking the plate as Ruiz had done in the top of the inning, but Prado’s throw wasn’t as perfect as Rollins had been. Howard flew to center for the second out before Burrell got ahead 3-0 and then hit a 3-1 pitch out to left, putting the Phils up 6-2. Victorino was next and lined a triple into right-center. Feliz flew to left for the third out.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a double. He played a better game than that, though, getting the Phillies started in the first and making a big defensive play to throw Johnson out in the eighth.

Utley 1-for-2 with a double, two walks and an RBI. He has at least one hit in 14 of his last 15 games.

Werth 1-for-4 with an RBI. 2-for-his-last-18 with two singles.

Howard 0-for-4 and left five men on base.

Burrell 1-for-4 with a three-run homer. The home run was his 33rd on the year. He hit 37 in 2002, which was his career high.

Victorino 3-for-4 with a triple. He’s hitting 351/390/532 this month, but without the impact you would expect. He’s hitting behind the slumping Burrell and, often, ahead of Feliz.

Feliz 0-for-4 and left three men on base. 2-for-his-last-21.

Ruiz 0-for-3 with an RBI. Fantastic job to block the plate in the eighth.

Cole Hamels (14-9, 3.10) faces lefty Mike Hampton (2-3, 5.05) or, less likely, lefty Jo-Jo Reyes (3-11, 5.74) tonight. The Braves and Phillies web sites both list Reyes as the starting pitcher, but he started on Friday against the Mets. Hampton faced the Phils on Thursday and allowed four runs over seven innings. Only two of the runs were earned. Over his last two starts, Reyes has gone 5 1/3 innings and allowed nine runs on 12 hits (including four homers) and two walks. He has a 9.00 ERA since the All-Star break. Righties are hitting .315 against him for the season. Hamels started Thursday’s game against the Braves in Atlanta and allowed two runs over six innings. Opponents are hitting .271 against him in September — that’s higher than any month of his career with the exception of June, 2006, when they hit .295 against him.


JA saves the da

Sooner or later, and probably sooner, JA Happ is going to struggle. Opposing hitters are going to adjust and hit him hard, really hard, and his numbers will explode. Sometime in the next two or three years someone is sure to say that he just doesn’t have the mental makeup to succeed at this level. But if you watched last night, that’s going to be a tough one to swallow. In last night’s game in Atlanta, with 11 games left to play in the season and the Phils clinging to the slimmest of leads in the NL East, Happ tossed six shutout innings to beat the Braves and earn the first win of his career.

The Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves last night, winning 6-1 to improve to 85-67 on the season. They are 18 games over .500 for the first time this year and have won six games in a row for the first time this year. They remain a half game ahead of the Mets in the NL East.

JA Happ got the start for the Phillies and went six shutout innings, allowing three hits and a walk. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double, and he struck out three.

Casey Kotchman’s double against Happ in the fifth last night is the only extra-base hit that Phillies pitchers have allowed in the first two games of the series.

He started the first up 4-0. Chipper Jones singled with two outs. Brian McCann flew to right for the third out.

Jeff Francoeur singled with two outs in the second. Happ struck out Josh Anderson for the third out.

Happ set the Braves down in order in the third and again in the fourth.

Casey Kotchman started the fifth with a double. Francoeur was next and he hit a high foul ball behind third that Burrell made a nice play on after a long run, backhanding the ball and fighting off a fan. Anderson flew to center for the second out and Yunel Escobar hit for the pitcher Jair Jurrjens and drew a walk. Happ got Martin Prado to ground to short to leave both runners stranded.

He threw a 1-2-3 sixth.

Durbin pitched the seventh with the Phils up 4-0. He allowed a one-out single to Kotchman, but struck out Francoeur for the second out and got Anderson to ground out to first for the third.

He came back for the eighth with the Phils up 5-0. He got the first two before Kelly Johnson singled to center. Chipper was next and Durbin walked him. Romero came in to pitch to the lefty McCann and got McCann to pop to the mound to end the inning.

I don’t think I would have brought Durbin back for a second inning with a five-run lead. Romero has turned into a one-out guy — he hasn’t gotten more than one out in any of his last four appearances.

Condrey started the ninth with the Phils up 6-0. Francoeur singled with two outs and took second on defensive indifference. Greg Norton hit for the pitcher Blaine Boyer and singled into center. Francoeur scored and it was 6-1. Blanco flew to left for the third out.

The pen went three innings, allowing a run on four hits and a walk. Durbin pitched for the second straight day and threw 34 pitches. That seems unnecessary. Condrey threw 16 pitches, Romero two.

The Phillies lineup against righty Jair Jurrjens went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Werth (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Big surprise to me to see Burrell in the lineup against the righty with the Phils expecting to see Hampton (it looks now like they will see another lefty, Jo-Jo Reyes) today. Werth third again with Victorino sixth. Feliz plays third and Ruiz catches.

Rollins grounded to first to start the game, but Utley and Werth followed with back-to-back walks before Howard laced a single into right. Utley scored to put the Phils up 1-0 with Werth holding at second. With Burrell at the plate, Werth stole third and McCann’s throw hit him and went into left field, allowing Werth to score and put the Phils up 2-0. Howard moved to second on the play and held second as Burrell flew to right for the second out. Victorino singled, moving Howard to third, and then stole second without a throw. Ruiz got behind 0-2 but hit a 2-2 pitch back through the middle for a two-run single. 4-0. Happ struck out for the third out.

Big two-out hit for Ruiz.

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

Howard walked to start the third. Burrell was next and lined a ball to second that Johnson caught. Johnson threw to second and doubled Howard off. Victorino flew to left for the third out.

Ruiz walked with one out in the fourth and Happ bunted him to second. Rollins reached on an infield single that moved Ruiz to third and stole second, but Utley struck out swinging to leave the runners stranded at second and third.

Werth started the fifth with a single, but Howard hit into a double-play behind him. Burrell flew to right for the third out.

Victorino started the sixth with an infield single. Feliz lined to short for the first out and Ruiz hit into a double-play to end the frame.

Utley walked with two outs in the seventh, but Werth struck out to leave him stranded.

Burrell singled with one out in the eighth and Bruntlett ran for him at first. Victorino followed with a single that moved Bruntlett to third. Feliz was next and he hit a double-play ball to second, but Johnson thought there were two outs and threw to first. Bruntlett scored from third to put the Phillies up 5-0. Ruiz flew to right for the third out.

Stairs hit for Romero with righty Blaine Boyer on the mound and hit a 1-0 pitch out to right to put the Phils up 6-0. Werth doubled after Rollins and Utley went down and Howard was walked intentionally. With two outs and men on first and second, Bruntlett struck out to end the frame.

Rollins was 1-for-5 with his 43rd stolen base.

Utley 0-for-3 with two walks.

Werth 2-for-4 with a double and a walk. 5-for-8 with two walks in the first two games of the set.

Howard 1-for-3 with two walks and an RBI. Also 5-for-8 with two walks in the first two games of the set.

Burrell 1-for-4.

Victorino 3-for-4. He’s 10-for-his-last-13. Really he is.

Feliz 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. 0-for-his-last-11, but surely in the lineup tonight against the lefty Reyes.

Ruiz was 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBI. He has more RBI in the last two games than he did in all of July and August combined.

Cole Hamels (13-9, 3.11) faces lefty Jo-Jo Reyes (3-11, 5.50) tonight. Righties are hitting 307/387/498 against Reyes. He has an 8.48 ERA and a 2.13 ratio since the All-Star break. In 16 2/3 innings against the Phils this season he’s thrown to a 7.56 ERA and a 1.68 ratio. Coste is 2-for-2 with a homer against him, Burrell 4-for-8 with two doubles and a home run. Hamels pitched on Saturday and held the Brewers to two runs in 6 1/3 innings, both of which scored on a fly ball that Burrell misplayed into a double.


Lidge spares the Phils the misery of another close loss

The list of tasks on the Phils to-do list is short but daunting: get the hitters hitting and the bullpen getting some people out. Right now they’re not real close on either front.

The Phils scored three runs of fewer for the third straight game last night and the fourth time in five games. Given how badly the bullpen is pitching they’re going to need a lot more than three runs if they want to win a game. Brad Lidge got lit up so dramatically last night it was hard to come away from the game with much besides that on your mind.

Kyle Kendrick and Jair Jurrjens battled in a splendid pitcher’s duel through eight innings. Lidge started the ninth inning down 1-0 and the Braves put up seven runs in the frame, the big blast coming on a Brian McCann grand slam.

The Phillies have now lost five of their last six and each of the five losses has featured a blowup by a different guy in the pen — Seanez, Condrey, Madson, Romero and now Lidge. Durbin is the only guy in the pen to remain unscathed unless you count Eaton as a reliever. Eaton apparently has settled into a new role as team mascot in the roster spot where you’d be looking for a seventh reliever (he has thrown 6 1/3 innings since July 2).

The Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves last night, falling 8-2 to drop to 54-49 on the season. They have lost three in a row.

Kyle Kendrick got the start and gave the Phils their second straight great start. He went six innings, allowing a run on seven hits and two walks. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He struck out two.

He threw a 1-2-3 first.

Mark Kotsay singled with one out in the second. Jeff Francoeur followed with a ground ball to third and Kotsay was forced at second for the second out. Kendrick walked Kelly Johnson on four pitches to put men on first and second. Omar Infante was next and hit a rocket of a line drive back up the middle and off Kendrick. It knocked Kendrick’s glove off and Kendrick picked the glove up and looked in it, but the ball had rolled behind him. It loaded the bases for pitcher Jair Jurrjens and Kendrick got him on a ground ball to second to end the frame.

Kendrick set the Braves down in order in the third.

Brian McCann led off the fourth and blasted a 1-0 pitch out to center to put Atlanta up 1-0. Kotsay grounded to first and Jenkins made a nice diving play coming in on a soft liner by Francoeur for the second out. Johnson singled again before Infante grounded to short.

Gregor Blanco doubled to right with one out in the fifth. Yunel Escobar was next and Kendrick hit him with a 1-2 pitch to put men on first and second. Mark Teixeira hit a ground ball to first and Howard fed Kendrick covering for the second out and the runners moved to second and third. Kendrick walked the lefty McCann to load the bases and got the lefty Kotsay to fly to left to end the frame.

McCann is really good, but I hate putting another man on base for a lefty given how hard they hit Kendrick.

Francoeur singled to start the sixth. Kendrick got Johnson and Infante on fly balls before Jurrjens singled to right, moving Francoeur to second. Blanco flew to Burrell on a nice play in foul territory to leave both men stranded.

Romero started the seventh down 1-0 coming off a rough outing against the Mets on Thursday. He struck out Escobar and Teixeira before McCann walked and stole second. Kotsay grounded to first for the third out.

Durbin threw a 1-2-3 eighth to drop his ERA to 1.75.

Lidge started the ninth down 1-0. Switch-hitter Greg Norton hit for Jurrjens to lead off the inning and blasted a double to the base of the wall in right-center. Blanco was next and bunted to third but beat out Dobbs’ throw for a single. With men on first and third the Phils brought the infield in, but Lidge walked Escobar to load the bases. Teixeira was next and he singled into left. Escobar scored and it was 2-0 with the bases still loaded. McCann hit a 1-2 pitch out to right for a grand slam. 6-0. Condrey entered the game and got Kotsay on a pop to Rollins in shallow left field before Kotsay doubled past Burrell in left. Johnson hit one off the wall in center for a double. Francoeur scored and it was 7-0. Infante singled into left and Johnson went to third. Norton grounded to first for the second out and Johnson scored to make it 8-0 with Infante at second. Condrey walked Blanco before Escobar grounded to second for the third out.

The pen went three innings, allowing seven runs on seven hits and two walks. Lidge and Condrey were both terrible. Romero threw 23 pitches appearing for the second straight day. Lidge 18, Condrey 16.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Jair Jurrjens went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Dobbs (8) Ruiz. Feliz was scratched from the lineup with tightness in the lower back, so Dobbs starts against the righty. Jenkins in right against the righty. Ruiz catches.

Victorino walked with one out in the first. With Utley at the plate he took off for second and McCann’s throw hit him and bounced away, allowing Victorino to go to third. Utley struck out and Howard flew to center.

No joy for Utley with a man on third and one out. Victorino stole second and wound up on third as the count went 1-1.

Dobbs singled with two outs in the second. Ruiz struck out behind him.

1-2-3 third and a 1-2-3 fourth.

With the Phils down 1-0, Jenkins led off the fifth with a single. Dobbs was next and hit into a double-play. Ruiz grounded to third.

Kendrick was due to lead off the sixth having thrown 94 pitches and down 1-0. Taguchi hit for him and struck out. Rollins grounded to third before Victorino singled and stole second. Utley struck out again.

Golly.

They went 1-2-3 in the seventh.

Dobbs lined to third on a nice play by Infante for the first out in the eighth. Ruiz hit it hard, too, but Teixeira caught his ball for the second out. Werth hit for Durbin with the righty Jurrjens still on the mound and smashed a 3-1 pitch back through the middle and off the pitcher’s body. Jurrjens jumped on it quickly and threw to first to get Werth to end the inning. Nice play.

Down 8-0 in the ninth, Utley singled with two outs and Howard followed with a home run to left. 8-2. Burrell flew to right to end the game.

Rollins was 0-for-4.

Victorino 1-for-3 with a walk and two stolen bases.

Utley 1-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Howard 1-for-4 with his 30th home run.

Burrell 0-for-4 with a strikeout.

Jenkins 1-for-3.

Dobbs 1-for-3.

Ruiz 0-for-3.

Cole Hamels (9-6, 3.11) faces lefty Jo-Jo Reyes (3-9, 4.95) this afternoon. Reyes allowed six runs in just 2 1/3 innings his last time out, Sunday against the Nationals. He hasn’t allowed a home run in his last four starts, but opponents are hitting .287 against him for the year. He has a 7.14 ERA in nine starts in Atlanta and a 2.72 ERA in six starts away from Atlanta. Hamels has allowed two runs or fewer in each of his last four starts. The Phils have scored 12 runs in those games combined.


Ready, set, Brave

The Atlanta Braves start May at 12-15. Colin from Braves Blast took the time to answer some questions about what’s going on with the Braves these days.

What do you see as the most significant developments for the Braves since the start of the season?

There are several significant developments since the start of the season. First, Bobby Cox and Frank Wren look like magicians trading Edgar Renteria away. Both Jair Jurrjens, whom the Braves got in return for Renteria, and Yunel Escobar, who replaced Renteria at short, are playing like regulars. Jurrjens may be the most stable arm on the pitching staff right now, and Escobar is batting .297 with 11 RBIs and is showing great plate discipline for a youngster with 14 walks. Second, we’ve seen our starting rotation show its age a LOT faster than we thought it would. Smoltz is on the DL for the second time, Glavine just got activated from the DL, and Hampton is being… well… Hampton. This has proven Jair Jurrjens to be even more valuable. If you haven’t seen him pitch yet, you don’t want to face him – his two or four seam fastball gets up to 96, his slider is good, and his changeup as absolutely devastating.

Even with all the injuries, the Braves are among the top teams in the NL in runs scored. They have also been among the best teams in the NL overall at preventing runs. Still, their record is probably not the start the many fans were expecting or hoping for. Any thoughts on why a team that seems to be able to both score and prevent runs so effectively is having trouble getting wins?

Our offense is very, very potent. There’s no doubt about that. And we can prevent runs too (sometimes, if the bullpen is on) – but the killer is our offense is either very hot or very cold. As a result, we’ve lost a LOT of one-run games. We’re 0-9 this season in one-run games. It’s quite frustrating that we haven’t been able to pull one of those out yet. Even if just under half of those go our way, we’d be tied for first in the division. The top of the order really is a catalyst for the offense, and Kelly Johnson at leadoff is a very streaky hitter. Mark Teixeira is just warming up for the season with his right-handed swing still not being as hot as his left-handed swing. Once he gets going, the offense will be even better.

Are the Braves going to be able to overcome the loss of Peter Moylan in the bullpen? How will they adjust to his absence?

The loss of Moylan is a blow – we labeled him as one of the main five keys to the Braves bullpen being strong this season. That said, it’s not something we can’t recover from. Jorge Campillo has been strong in middle relief for the Braves since we brought him up from AAA Richmond. Manny Acosta is also working out well and picking up some innings. The bigger key is getting back Rafael Soriano from the DL – he’s had elbow tendinitis issues, and we need a strong, healthy closer. If Smoltz can’t return to the starting rotation, he’s said he’d go close for us – and we all know he’s not someone anyone wants to face in the ninth.

Is Mark Kotsay going to play well enough to keep his job in center field for the whole season? Are there any position players in danger of losing regular playing time?

Kotsay is not in any danger of losing his starting job – though he did have some back issues (uh oh) that kept him out of the lineup last week a couple times. Not good to see. That said, Matt Diaz was benched a few games in a row last week and Gregor Blanco got the start in left field. He’s since rebounded and is batting .295. I don’t think anyone else is in danger of losing their starting spot.

With Glavine and Hampton returning from injuries it looks like the rotation for the time being is Smoltz/Hudson/Glavine/Jurrjens/Hampton with Chuck James as the sixth guy who will come up from the minors if one of them goes down. Is that how you see the rotation? Is there anyone else in the mix?

The lineup no longer has Smoltz at the front, at least not for 15 days. He has tendinitis in his biceps and an inflamed rotator cuff. So now it’s Hudson/Glavine/Jurrjens/James/Jeff Bennett. If (big if – nobody counts on him anymore) Hampton comes back from his rehab starts in one piece, he’ll bump Bennett back to the ‘pen. The other arms we have that can start include Buddy Carlyle and Jo-Jo Reyes. Jo-Jo has great stuff in the minors but he can’t make the transition from pitching down there to pitching in Atlanta. We’ve got to get Smoltzie healthy and keep Glavine healthy. Hudson hasn’t been lights out recently either, which isn’t good. I know I’ve said it before, but watch this Jurrjens kid. He’s only 22, but he pitches like he’s been in the big leagues for much longer. Nobody has anything but good stuff to stay about him.

Thanks a lot to Colin. If you don’t read it regularly, be sure to check out Braves Blast, where today they are discussing the possibility that Smoltz returns to the team as a reliever.

Colin also wrote this morning to point out that since he wrote his answers yesterday Hampton has re-strained his pectoral muscle in a rehab start. Always something.

I also answered some questions from Colin about the Phils here.


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