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.
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.
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).