Tag: Jim Thome

Who’s not on first very often?

In this post I pointed out there was a difference of 187 total walks between 2007, when the Phillies had the best walk rate in the NL, and 2012, when they had the 15th-best walk rate. The first base and left field positions combined walked 141 fewer times in 2012 than they had in 2007.

At first base, the Phillies drew 56 fewer walks in 2012 than they had in 2007. In 2007, the 113 walks they drew at the position was second in the league. In 2012, the 57 walks they drew at the position was tenth.

Here’s how the plate appearances at first base broke down for the Phillies in 2012 and the walk rates of the players who got chances at the position:

Player % of PA BB%
Howard 42.5 8.7
Wigginton 30.8 9.6
Mayberry 11.7 5.1
Others (4) 15.0 7.9
Total PHI 100 8.4
NL AVG 1B - 9.3

Of the four groups, only one, Wigginton, posted a walk rate about the league average of 9.3% while playing first base for the Phillies last year. He had some other issues, though, like being not real good offensively or defensively. And high walk rate or not, he ended the year having hit .235 and on-based .314.

All of the four players in the “Other” category were under the league average of 9.3% with the exception of Thome. He walked in 3 of his 13 plate appearances while playing first base for the Phillies in 2013, which is about 23.1%.

The walk rates for Thome and Wigginton aren’t likely to help the 2013 Phillies much. As much as we might want to see Mayberry or Ruf get some chances at first against lefties, Ryan Howard is likely to be the guy there just about every day he’s able to play. And his walk rate is never going back to where it was in 2006 and 2007.

Howard finished fourth in the NL in walks in both 2006 and 2007. In those two years combined, he got 1,352 plate appearances and walked in 215 (about 15.9%) of them.

Howard’s walk rate in those years benefited from an enormous rate of intentional walks. In 2012, he had 25 total walks in 292 plate appearances. In 2006 he was intentionally walked 37 times and in 2007 he was intentionally walked 35 times.

His 8.6% walk rate in 2012 was the worst it has been for any year in his career in which he got at least 50 plate appearances.

In this post from January I pointed out that Howard has been pretty miserable against left-handed pitching in four of the last five years. His walk rate against lefties has also taken a plunge.

Over the last seven years, his walk rate against right-handed pitching has stayed high. Not so against lefties, where his walk rate has dropped three straight years and wound up at a miserable 4.7% in 2012:

Year BB% vs L BB% vs R
2012 4.7 10.8
2011 6.5 13.7
2010 7.9 10.4
2009 9.9 11.1
2008 8.7 13.3
2007 13.0 18.7
2006 9.8 18.0

2010 is the year of the last five in which Howard has been non-awful against left-handed pitching. His success that year had a lot more to do with the combination of good power and an average in the .260s against lefties than the walks he drew. In 2010, Howard hit 264/333/492 against lefties with 12 homers in 216 plate appearances. 2008 was probably second best — that year he delivered similar power against lefties and walked at a slightly lower rate, but hit just .224 again left-handed pitching. In five of the last six seasons, Howard has hit .225 or worse against lefties.

In 2010, his BABIP against left-handed pitching was .320. In 2011, Howard hit .224 against lefties despite a BABIP of .313 against them. In 2012 he was down to .173 against southpaws with a BABIP of .229. Granted, not being able to run at all probably hurt him some in 2012, but it’s tough to feel like things are going in the right direction for Howard, especially against lefties.

Ruiz feels bad about his suspension and wants to bring a championship back to Philadelphia.

Halladay suggests he doesn’t see himself pitching anywhere other than Philadelphia in the coming years in this article.


Jay dismay

After scoring 26 runs while taking two of three in Minnesota, the Phillies came into their series with the Blue Jays in Toronto having raised hope they had finally turned their miserable skid around.

They hadn’t. The Blue Jays hammered the Phils in the set, winning all three. The Phillies didn’t score in the first game. Cliff Lee took a 5-2 lead into the eighth inning of game two and the Phils lost 6-5. Kyle Kendrick was terrible yesterday.

Over their last 28 games, Phillies starting pitchers have thrown to a 5.36 ERA with a 1.42 ratio. The Phillies are 10-18 in those games.

The Phillies are 31-37 on the year after losing to the Toronto Blue Jays 6-2 yesterday afternoon. The Blue Jays sweep the three-game series. The Phillies have lost three in a row and are 3-12 over their last 15 games. They are in last place in the NL East, nine games behind the first place Nationals.

Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went 6 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on eight hits and two walks. Only five of the runs were earned. Four of the hits went for extra-bases, three doubles and a home run.

The Phillies have lost the last three games he has started. In those outings, Kendrick has thrown to 9.00 ERA with a 1.81 ratio.

Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus doubled back-to-back to start the bottom of the first. Rasmus’s double scored Lawrie to put Toronto up 1-0. Kendrick got ahead of Jose Bautista 0-2, but walked him to put two men on. Ruiz picked Bautista off of first for the first out before Kendrick struck Encarnacion out for the second. Kelly Johnson was next, though, and he singled into center, scoring Rasmus to make it 2-0. Yunel Escobar flew to center for the third out.

The lead was cut to 2-1 when Kendrick set the Blue Jays down in order in the second.

It was 2-2 when he threw a 1-2-3 third.

Encarnacion reached on an infield single to start the fourth, but Kendrick got Johnson to ground into a double-play behind him. Escobar singled into center and Yan Gomes was hit by a pitch, putting runners on first and second for Rajai Davis. Davis singled into center, scoring Escobar to make it 3-2. Kendrick got Jeff Mathis swinging to leave runners on first and second.

Kendrick walked Lawrie to start the fifth. Rasmus was next and he hit the first pitch from Kendrick out to center, extending the Toronto lead to 5-2. Kendrick got the next three.

A double, a home run and three RBI for the lefty Rasmus against Kendrick through the first five innings.

Kendrick set Toronto down in order in the sixth.

Mathis led off the seventh with a double to right. Lawrie flew to right for the first out. Diekman came in to pitch to the lefty Rasmus and Rasmus singled to right. Mathis might have held at third, but Pence didn’t handle the ball cleanly in right for another error. Mathis scored to make it 6-2 with one out and Rasmus on first. Diekman picked Rasmus off of first with Luna throwing to Rollins to apply the tag before Bautista flew to center for the third out.

Diekman has been charged with just one earned run over his last 8 2/3 innings, but he has a 1.85 ratio over those 11 appearances.

Papelbon pitched the eighth. He walked the leadoff man Encarnacion, but got the next three, striking out Escobar and Gomes for the second and third out.

Papelbon has a 1.23 ERA and an 0.82 ratio over 14 2/3 innings in his last 15 appearances.

The pen went 1 2/3 scoreless innings in the game, allowing a walk and a hit while striking out two. Papelbon threw 18 pitches and Diekman ten.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Brett Cecil went (1) Rollins (2) Polanco (3) Pence (4) Thome (5) Victorino (6) Ruiz (7) Luna (8) Mayberry (9) Martinez. Thome again at DH against a lefty. Polanco at third, Mayberry in left and Luna at first. Martinez plays second with the lefty Fontenot on the bench.

The Phillies went in order in the first.

Down 2-0, Thome homered to right center on a 3-2 pitch to start the second, cutting the lead to 2-1. The Phils went in order behind him.

Only hit in the set for Thome, who was 1-for-12 in the set.

Mayberry led off the third and homered to left, tying the game at 2-2. Martinez and Rollins went down before Polanco drew a walk. Pence singled to left on a ball deflected by Lawrie at third, moving Polanco up to third. Thome grounded to second to leave both runners stranded.

Victorino singled to start the fourth. Ruiz was next and lined to short on a nice play by Escobar for the first out. Victorino stole second before Luna hit a ball into shallow right-center that was caught by a charging Bautista. Bautista threw to second where Victorino was easily doubled-off to set the Phillies down.

Not good base-runner by Victorino. Bautista didn’t dive for the ball or seem to have much trouble tracking it down.

Mayberry singled to start the fifth with the Phillies down 3-2. Martinez flew to center for the first out and Rollins struck out for the second. Polanco was next and hit a ball that Escobar didn’t handle for an error, putting runners on first and second with two down. Pence flew to left to leave them stranded.

Victorino singled off of lefty Luis Perez with one out in the sixth and the Phillies down 5-2. Ruiz flew to center for the second out and Luna popped to second for the third.

Perez set the Phillies down in order in the seventh. He set them down in order in the eighth with Toronto up 6-2.

Luna reached on an infield single off of righty Jason Frasor with two outs in the ninth. Mayberry moved him to second with another single, putting two men on for Martinez. The lefty Fontenot hit for Martinez and grounded to short to end the game.

Rollins was 0-for-4 and struck out twice in the game. 3-for-13 with a walk and two doubles in the series. 255/303/365 for the year.

Polanco was 0-for-3 with a walk yesterday and 2-for-9 with a walk and a double in the series. 3-for-his-last-22 and hitting 278/307/359 for the season.

Pence 1-for-4 with a strikeout and 3-for-12 with a walk and two doubles in the series. 281/347/476 for the year.

Thome was 1-for-4 with a home run and 1-for-12 with a homer in the series. The nine-game stretch of DH games is over for the Phillies — Thome hit 333/415/722 over 41 plate appearances in those games as the Phils went 3-6. He’s hitting 250/344/500 for the year.

Victorino 2-for-4 with a stolen base and doubled off of second yesterday. 3-for-12 in the series. 6-for-his-last-33 (.182). 248/319/402 on the year.

Ruiz was 0-for-4 and struck out twice. 1-for-6 with a walk and three strikeouts in the series. 354/416/566.

Luna 1-for-4 yesterday and in the series. 302/362/488 in 47 plate appearances with the Phils this year.

Mayberry 3-for-4 with his fifth home run of the year yesterday. 4-for-9 with two home runs in the series. 235/269/383 for the year. He came into the series 4-for-30 in June (.135).

Martinez 0-for-3 in the game and 1-for-8 with two walks in the series. 5-for-25 with five singles and three walks for the year (200/286/200).

The Phillies don’t play today and will face the Rockies at home tomorrow night.


Blanton sics his better-pitching twin on Minnesota

After five straight terrible starts in a row in which he had thrown to a 9.91 ERA, Joe Blanton was fantastic last night, holding the Twins to a single run over nine innings as the Phils topped Minnesota 6-1.

The Phillies came into the contest having allowed at least five runs in each of their last seven games and an average of 7.14 runs per game over those seven.

Jim Thome delivered another enormous hit for the Phillies in the game, a three-run homer in the top of the third off of lefty starter Scott Diamond. Last night’s game was the sixth-straight DH game the Phillies have played. In those six, Thome has gone 11-for-24 with three homers and 13 RBI, putting up a 458/536/917 line and driving in a third of the 39 runs the Phillies have scored.

The Phillies are 31-34 on the year after beating the Minnesota Twins 6-1 last night. The Phillies take the series two games to one. They are in last place in the NL East, nine games behind the Nationals.

On the season, the Phillies have scored one more run than they have allowed (scored 283 and allowed 282). The Mets have also scored one more run than they have allowed (291 to 290), but the Mets are 35-29 and in second place in the NL East. The Marlins, a game over .500 and two games ahead of the Phils in the standings, have allowed 34 more runs than they have scored.

Blanton got the start for the Phillies and threw a complete game, allowing a run over nine innings on seven hits. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter.

Ben Revere singled with one out in the bottom of the first and stole second before Blanton struck out Joe Mauer for the second out.

The Phillies led 1-0 when Blanton started the second. He got Justin Morneau for the first out before Trevor Plouffe hit an 0-2 pitch out to left, tying the game at 1-1. Blanton struck Chris Parmelee out swinging for the second out before Alexi Casilla doubled to right. Jamey Carroll lined softly to second to leave Casilla at first.

Plouffe was 5-for-13 with a double and three home runs in the series. Blanton made a terrible pitch to him way ahead in the count.

Up 4-1, Blanton set the Twins down in order in the third.

Morneau singled to center with one out in the fourth, but Blanton got the next two hitters behind him.

He threw a 1-2-3 fifth.

Joe Mauer singled to right with one out in the sixth, but Blanton got Willingham on a fly ball to left and Morneau on a fly ball to center to leave him at first.

Casilla singled to right with two outs in the seventh. Carroll flew to center for the third out.

Blanton started the eighth up 5-1. Mauer reached on an infield single with two outs and took second on a wild pitch, but Blanton struck Willingham out looking 3-2 to leave him at second.

Up 6-1, Blanton set the Twins down in order in the ninth. Parmelee flew to center on Blanton’s 111th pitch of the game for the final out.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Scott Diamond went (1) Rollins (2) Polanco (3) Pence (4) Thome (5) Victorino (6) Ruiz (7) Wigginton (8) Mayberry (9) Martinez. Mayberry in left with Pierre on the bench against the lefty. Thome continues to DH against the lefty. Wigginton at first and Martinez at second.

Pence singled with two outs in the first and Thome walked behind him, putting two men on for Victorino. Victorino popped to Plouffe in foul territory for the third out.

With one out in the second, Wigginton hit an 0-1 pitch out to left, putting the Phils up 1-0. Mayberry and Martinez went down behind him.

The game was tied at 1-1 when Rollins doubled to left to start the third. He moved up to third when Polanco grounded to second for the first out. Minnesota brought the infield in, but Pence drew a walk, putting runners on the corners for Thome. Thome hit a 2-0 pitch out to right-center, putting the Phils up 4-1. Victorino grounded out for the second out before Ruiz was hit by a pitch. Wigginton grounded to second for the third out.

Thome crushed the ball for another home run, this time against a lefty. First home run for Thome for the year against a lefty. He’s just 2-for-9 against them for the season.

Casilla made a great play in the inning to take a hit away from Victorino. Victorino hit the ball back up the middle. It was deflected and slowed by Diamond, but Casilla jumped on it and made a strong throw to first to nip Victorino.

Rollins singled with two outs in the fourth, but Polanco grounded to third to leave him there.

The Phils went in order in the fifth and again in the sixth.

Righty Lester Oliveros set Martinez, Rollins and Polanco down in order in the seventh.

Oliveros walked Victorino with two outs in the eighth. Ruiz was next and doubled to left, scoring Victorino to put the Phils up 5-1. Righty Alex Burnett took over for Oliveros and struck out Wigginton to end the frame.

Mayberry led off the ninth and righty Jeff Gray walked him in an 11-pitch at-bat. Martinez hit into a double-play behind him. Rollins reached on an infield single and stole second before Polanco singled into center, scoring Rollins to make it 6-1. Pence flew to center for the third out.

Rollins was 3-for-5 with a double in the game and 8-for-15 with three doubles in the series. 257/304/364 on the year. He has two walks in his last 97 plate appearances.

Polanco 1-for-5 with an RBI last night and 1-for-10 in the series. 280/306/360 for the season.

Pence was 1-for-4 with a walk. 4-for-13 with two walks in the series. 282/349/478. His isolated power of his last 51 plate appearances is zero — 15-for-47 (.319) with 15 singles.

Thome 1-for-3 with a walk, a home run and three RBI in the game. He was 5-for-11 with two walks, three home runs and nine RBI in the series. 295/392/545 for the year. On June 7 he was 2-for-20 on the year after going 0-for-1 against the Dodgers. Since then he’s gone 11-for-24 with two doubles and three home runs.

Victorino 0-for-3 to drop his average to .248. 2-for-13 with a walk and a double in the series. 230/305/400 over his last 224 plate appearances. 248/319/409 for the year.

Ruiz 1-for-3 with a double and hit by a pitch. 6-for-10 with three walks and four doubles in the series. 361/420/579 for the year.

Wigginton 1-for-4 with his seventh home run of the year. 1-for-9 in the series. 254/322/409 on the year.

Mayberry was 0-for-3 with a walk last night and 2-for-10 with a walk, a double and a home run in the series. 222/259/340 for the year. Last night’s walk was his only walk in his last 42 plate appearances.

Martinez 0-for-4 last night. 3-for-12 with a walk in the series. 4-for-17 with four singles for the season (.235).

Worley (3-2, 3.00) faces righty Drew Hutchison (5-3, 4.66) tonight in Toronto. The Phillies have lost three of the last four games that Worley has started. In those starts he’s allowed 14 runs in 22 innings with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.55 ratio. The 21-year-old Hutchinson came into his last outing having allowed just one run in 14 innings in his two previous starts, but gave up five runs in 6 1/3 against the Braves. Through ten starts, he has nearly identical numbers against righties and lefties. Righties have hit 259/328/435 against him and lefties 258/328/433. That’s weird.


Results mixed, but really hard to watch, as Phils transition from a team built around starting pitching to a team built around nothing

The bad news is that the Phillies are going to need to excel at both scoring and preventing runs if they are going to make themselves a factor in the NL this year. The good news is they look like they might be halfway there — the offense pounded out nine runs last night, one more than their pitching allowed as the Phils topped the Twins 9-8.

The Phils aren’t spreading a whole lot of joy with their play these days, even when they win. Last night they scratched out a one-run win despite leads of 7-1 in the third inning and 9-3 in the fourth with Cole Hamels on the mound.

Over the last five games, the Phillies have scored 33 runs (6.60 runs per game). Over the last seven, they’ve scored 5.86 runs per game. The bad news is they’ve gone 2-5 over their last seven and that’s because the pitching is absolutely terrible. The Phillies have allowed 50 runs in their last seven games (7.14 per game) and at least five in all seven.

In the first two games of the series, the weak-hitting Twins have scored 19 runs against the Phillies.

Last night it was Hamels who couldn’t keep runs off the board. He has a 6.08 ERA over his last four starts and has allowed at least four runs in each of the four. His ERA has risen from 2.17 to 3.34 for the year over those four appearances.

The Phillies are 30-34 on the year after beating the Minnesota Twins 9-8 last night. The teams have split the first two games of the series. They are in fifth place in the NL East and 9 1/2 games out of first place. 2-9 in their last 11 games.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing seven runs on eight hits and two walks. Only six of the runs were earned. Four of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and two home runs. He struck out six.

He started the bottom of the first with a 6-0 lead. Denard Span led off and singled into center. Ben Revere was next and grounded to second with Span forced at second for the first out. Hamels struck out Joe Mauer for the second out and got Josh Willingham on a ground ball to third to end the inning.

He got Justin Morneau on a fly ball to right for the first out in the second. Ryan Doumit struck out looking for the second out, but Trevor Plouffe followed and hit a 1-2 pitch out to left, cutting the lead to 6-1. Brain Dozier flew to Victorino to set Minnesota down.

Jamey Carroll singled to right to start the third with the Phillies up 7-1. Span flew to center before Carroll stole second. Revere singled into right on a ball deflected by Martinez, putting runners on the corners with one out for Mauer. Mauer hit a ground ball to short. Rollins fielded and threw to Martinez at second for the second out, but Martinez’s relay to first was way offline on the right field side for an error. Carroll scored from third on the play (7-2), Revere went to third and Mauer wound up at second on the error. Willingham was the next batter and he grounded to third for the second out. Revere came in to score and cut the lead to 7-3. Hamels walked Morneau, putting runners on second and third, but struck Doumit out swinging 0-2 to leave them there.

Up 9-3, Hamels struck out Plouffe and Dozier while setting the Twins down in order in the fourth.

Span singled to start the fifth, but Hamels got Revere to hit into a double-play behind him. Mauer grounded to short for the third out.

Willingham led off the sixth and hit an 0-1 pitch out to center, cutting the lead to 9-4. Hamels got the next three.

Second home run in six innings for Hamels. Fortunately for the Phils they were both solo shots. Over his last six starts, he has allowed eight home runs in 41 2/3 innings. Over his first seven starts, he allowed three home runs in 47 1/3 innings. His ERA has risen from 2.28 to 3.34 over his last six.

Dozier doubled to start the seventh and Hamels walked Carroll behind him. Span was next and he slapped a ball the other way, down the third base line for a double that scored Dozier (9-5) and moved Carroll to third. Bastardo came in to pitch to the lefty Revere with two down and men on second and third. Revere singled into left, scoring Carroll (9-6) and moving Span to third. Mauer followed that with a single into right. Span scored (9-7) and Revere moved up to second. A wild pitch by Bastardo moved the runners up to second and third. Bastardo got the righty Willingham swinging 3-2 for the first out. Morneau was next and hit a ground ball to second. Martinez threw him out at first, but Revere scored (9-8) and the Twins had a man on third with two outs for the switch-hitter Doumit. Bastardo struck him out swinging 1-2 to end the inning.

Hamels faces three hitters in the inning, allowing two doubles and a walk. Bastardo faces five hitters in the frame, allowing singles to the first two before getting the next three. Hamels allows one run before he leaves with nobody out and men on second and third, and Bastardo allows the hits that plate those runners with the runs charged to Hamels (not that he has a lot to complain about with Bastardo entering the game with nobody out and men on second and third).

Bastardo is charged with run on two hits in the inning, raising his ERA to 2.53. Over his last five appearances, he has allowed a run in 5 2/3 innings while striking out 13. He got a huge strikeout of the righty Willingham for the first out with men on second and third and nobody out.

Qualls started the eighth with the Phillies still up a run. He struck Plouffe and Dozier both out swinging for the first two outs. The next hitter was Carroll and Qualls struck him out swinging too, but on a wild pitch that allowed Carroll to take first. Papelbon took over for Qualls and got the lefty Span on a fly ball to left to end the inning.

Super double hooray for Manuel, who lets Qualls face three righties in a close game and Qualls strikes all three of them out. He then doesn’t let Qualls pitch to the lefty Span, instead bringing Papelbon in to get the final out of the eighth inning.

Qualls goes two thirds of an inning in the game, dropping his ERA on the year to 4.56. He’s made eight appearances so far in June and allowed runs in just one of them, but allowed four runs in a third of an inning the time he did. He has pitched for two days in a row.

Papelbon was back to pitch the ninth and got the Twins in order, getting Revere on a ground ball to second, Mauer swinging and Willingham on a pop to Martinez on a nice play tracking the ball down in shallow center with Victorino playing deep.

Papelbon goes 1 1/3 perfect innings in the game, dropping his ERA to 2.10. He’s allowed two runs in 13 2/3 innings over his last 14 appearances (1.32 ERA and 0.80 ratio).

Overall the pen goes three innings, allowing a run on two hits and no walks while striking out six. Bastardo allows hits that create runs charged to Hamels. Bastardo threw 23 pitches. Qualls has thrown two days in a row and threw 12 pitches in the game. Papelbon threw 11 pitches.

The Phillies lineup against righty PJ Walters went (1) Rollins (2) Pierre (3) Pence (4) Thome (5) Victorino (6) Ruiz (7) Polanco (8) Mayberry (9) Martinez. Polanco returns to third base, hitting eighth. Thome at DH against the righty and Pierre in left. Mayberry plays first with Wigginton on the bench, coming into the game hitting 198/258/233 against righties for the year. Martinez at second with the lefty Fontenot on the bench.

Walters clearly wasn’t right to start the game. Rollins, Pierre and Pence all reached on singles before Thome hammered a single to right, scoring Rollins and Pierre to put the Phils up 2-0 with men on first and second. Righty Jeff Manship took over for Walters and got Victorino on a fly ball to center for the first out, but Ruiz was next and blooped a single into right. Pence scored (3-0) and Thome moved up to second. Polanco flew to left for the second out. It brought Mayberry to the plate with men on first and second. Mayberry quickly got behind in the count, but hammered a 1-2 pitch well out to left for a three-run homer, putting the Phils up 6-0. Martinez grounded to first for the third out.

Big swing for Mayberry, who hits hit first home run of the year off a right-handed pitcher and third overall.

Pence singled with two outs in the second and Thome walked behind him. Victorino grounded to second to end the frame.

It was 6-1 when the Phillies hit in the third. Ruiz led off with a double to center. Polanco grounded out behind him for the first out, but Mayberry was next and doubled down the third base line, scoring Ruiz to make it 7-1. Martinez flew to left for the second out and Rollins struck out for the third.

Four RBI for Mayberry in the first three innings on an RBI-double and a three-run homer, both off of righties.

Righty Anthony Swarzak started the fourth for Minnesota with the lead cut to 7-3. Pence singled with one out. Thome was next and he blasted a 2-1 pitch way out to center, putting the Phils up 9-3. Victorino grounded out behind Thome for the second out before Ruiz walked. Polanco grounded to second to end the inning.

Martinez walked with one out in the fifth, but Rollins hit into a double-play behind him.

Pierre singled to start the sixth, but Pence flew to right for the first out and Thome hit onto a double-play behind Pence.

Ruiz doubled off of Swarzak with one out in the seventh and the lead cut to 9-4. Polanco was next and hit a ball to short. Dozier handled it and threw to third where Ruiz was tagged out for the second out. Mayberry grounded to short for the third out.

Polanco hit the ball pretty hard, but right at Dozier. Dozier had an easy throw to third, where Ruiz was tagged out on a play that wasn’t very close. That’s one of those things you want to avoid when possible.

It was 9-8 when the Phils hit in the eighth. Righty Jeff Gray got Martinez and Rollins for the first two outs before Pierre singled to center. He took second on a balk before Pence grounded to short for the third out.

Lefty Glenn Perkins started the ninth. Thome led off and reached on an error by the pitcher. Fontenot ran for him at first and moved to third when Victorino doubled to left. Perkins walked the righty Ruiz intentionally to load the bases. Polanco grounded to third, with Plouffe fielding and throwing home to force Fontenot for the first out. Mayberry struck out swinging for the second and Martinez struck out swinging for the third.

No run for the Phillies after loading the bases with nobody out in the ninth inning of a one-run game. Polanco at least makes contact, grounding to third for the first out before Mayberry strikes out for the second. Mayberry strikes out against the lefty with one down and the bases loaded after two big swings against righties earlier in the game.

Thome hits for himself against the lefty to start the ninth after a big game with the bat. Wigginton was not available to hit, but the righty Luna presumably was.

Rollins was 1-for-5 with two strikeouts in the game. He’s 6-for-his-last-25 (.240). He has two walks and a .304 on-base percentage over his last 92 plate appearances.

Pierre was 3-for-5 to raise his average to .326. 7-for-his-last-17 with seven singles.

Pence was 3-for-5 with three singles. 14-for-his-last-35 (.400) with 14 singles.

Thome 2-for-4 with four RBI. 10-for-21 with two walks, two doubles, two home runs and ten RBI in the five-game stretch of DH games for the Phillies. 0-for-10 with seven strikeouts as a pinch-hitter. 12-for-31 (.387) when not a pinch-hitter for the year. The last five games for the Phils have been DH games. They have scored 33 runs, ten of which have been driven in by Thome. We don’t want to go too nuts about the offensive resurgence if it’s foundation has Thome driving in two runs a game and Thome won’t be on the field hardly at all a week or so from now.

Victorino 1-for-5 with a double and left four men on base. He’s 3-for-his-last-18.

Ruiz 3-for-3 with two doubles and two walks. 5-for-his-last-7 with three walks and three doubles.

He did it in front of Polanco, who went 0-for-5 and left eight men on base in his first plate appearances since June 5.

Mayberry 2-for-5 with a double, a home run and four RBI. He came into the game 2-for-22 in June.

Martinez 0-for-4 with a walk and an error. 4-for-13 on the season.

Blanton (5-6, 5.40) faces lefty Scott Diamond (5-1, 1.61) tonight. Blanton has a 9.91 ERA over his last five starts. In those outings he has allowed 11 home runs in 26 1/3 innings and opponents have hit .361 against him. His walk rate is the best it has been for his career — he’s walked just 12 hitters in 75 innings. He might want to try more walks and less throwing the ball over plate, cause what he’s doing right now isn’t working so well. Diamond hasn’t allowed an earned run in 13 innings over his last two starts. He’s made seven starts on the year and walked just four batters in 44 2/3 innings. He hasn’t walked a left-handed hitter this season.


Nervousness grows as some fans wonder if the Phils can find a way to bunt themselves to a better bullpen

The Phils lost the last two games of the three-game set with Pittsbugh on a pair of walkoffs, losing game two 2-1 when their offense came up small. Yesterday the offense put up four runs, but the bullpen couldn’t hold a 4-1 lead, allowing four runs over 2 2/3 innings as the Phils fell 5-4.

The starting pitching has been fantastic for the Phils over the first three games. Vance Worley allowed a run over six innings in yesterday’s game. Over three starts, Halladay, Lee and Worley have combined to allow two runs in 20 innings.

With the exception of Hunter Pence, just about everything else has been pretty miserable. The Phils scored one run in the first game and one in the second, before getting four in an odd third game made memorable when righty James McDonald walked Pence intentionally to get to the lefty Jim Thome and struck Thome out to end the top of the sixth.

Most fans expected the offense to struggle in the early going. Fewer thought we were going to see them bunt and bunt and bunt the way they have in the early going.

Yesterday’s late game breakdown had a lot to do with the bullpen, but also a big defensive misplay when an error by Wigginton on a would-be strikeout led to a pair of unearned runs. It’s the kind of thing you want to avoid if you have an offense built around bunting with your three-hitter.

The Phillies are 1-2 on the year after losing 5-4 to the Pittsburgh Pirates yesterday afternoon. The Pirates take the series two games to one.

Worley started the game for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing a run on five hits and a walk. Two of the hits went for extra-base hits, a double and a home run. He struck out five.

He started the bottom of the first up 1-0. Jose Tabata singled to right with one out and stole second. Worley walked Andrew McCutchen, putting men on first and second for switch-hitter Neil Walker. Walker hit the ball hard to third, but Wigginton took it for the second out. Garrett Jones grounded to Galvis to leave the runners stranded.

Michael McKendry singled with two outs in the second, but Worley struck the pitcher James McDonald out looking behind him for the third out.

Worley set the Pirates down in order in the third.

Walker led off the fourth and lined a single into center, but Jones was next and hit a ball to first. Thome fielded, threw nicely to second and took the relay from Rollins to complete the double-play and clear the bases. Clint Barmes grounded to third for the third out.

If Thome really wants us to forget Howard at first, he needs to figure out a way to throw that ball into left field.

The Phils were up 2-0 when Worley started the fifth. Lefty Pedro Alvarez led off Pittsburgh and hit a 2-1 pitch out to left, cutting the lead to 2-1. Worley retired the next three Pirates behind Alvarez.

McCutchen doubled to center with one out in the sixth. Walker was next and this time he lined to Rollins for the second out. Worley got ahead of Jones 0-2 and struck him out swinging 1-2 to leave McCutchen at second.

The Phillies hit for Worley in the top of the seventh and Stutes, pitching for the second straight day, started the bottom of the inning. Things started well enough. Stutes struck Barmes out for the first out. Alvarez was next and Stutes struck him out too, swinging at a 1-2 pitch that Schneider didn’t handle. Wigginton had taken over at first for Thome and couldn’t handle the throw from Schneider. Alvarez wound up on second with one out and Wigginton charged with an error. Stutes got McKendry to fly to right for the second out, but righty Casey McGehee was next and he doubled to center, scoring Alvarez to cut the lead to 4-2. Lefty Alex Presley was next and he lined a single to right. McGehee scored from second. 4-3. Presley stole second before Tabata flew to center to leave him there.

Would have been a great time to get an out on the Alvarez strikeout. Wigginton just didn’t catch the ball and it went off his glove. The righty Stutes stays in to pitch to the lefty Presley with two lefties available in the pen for the Phils and Presley drives in a run. Not saying a have a whole lot of confidence in Savery, either, but I’m just saying.

Stutes threw 27 pitches in the game.

Kendrick started the eighth, also pitching for the second straight day. McCutchen led off and singled to left. The switch-hitter Walker was next and he flew to left for the first out. Lefty Nate McLouth hit for the pitcher Evan Meek and Bastardo, also pitching for the second straight day, came in to pitch to him. Righty Yamaico Navarro hit for McLouth and McCutchen stole second before Bastardo walked Navarro on a 3-2 pitch. It put men on first and second for Barmes and Bastardo struck him out swinging 0-2 for the second out. Righty Matt Hague hit for the lefty Alvarez and singled into left, scoring McCutchen to tie the game at 4-4 and moving Navarro up to second. Bastardo struck McKendry out swinging 2-2 to leave the runners at first and second.

Both Kendrick and Bastardo had thrown a small number of pitches in game two of the series, 13 for Kendrick and six for Bastardo, but still Manuel lets Kendrick start the eighth inning against a righty when many assumed the eighth would belong to Bastardo. Kendrick also stays in to face the switchy Walker after McCutchen singled, despite the fact that Walker has been better against righties for his career (282/342/437 vs right and 274/327/388 against lefties).

Herndon started the ninth, making his first appearance of the year. McGehee led off with a double to left and Josh Harrison ran for him at second. Presley bunted Harrison to third with the first out. Herndon struck Tabata out swinging 3-2, which looked huge at the time, but McCutchen followed Tabata and hit a ball over Victorino’s head in center, bringing home Harrison and ending the game.

Herndon got ahead of McCutchen 0-2, but couldn’t put him away. With a runner on third and two down, Herndon had a base open and space to pitch around McCutchen and allow the Phils to try and get Walker. Didn’t happen.

Not a great start to the year for Herndon, who faced four men and allowed two hits, both which would have been for extra-bases if the second hadn’t ended the game. The strikeout of Tabata was big, but the other out he got was given to the Phils by Pittsburgh.

Bastardo, Stutes and Kendrick have all pitched two days in a row. Bastardo threw 20 pitches in the game and Stutes 27. Kendrick eight and Herndon 20.

Overall the pen went 2 2/3 innings in the game, allowing four runs on six hits and a walk. Only two of the runs were earned.

Qualls was not available to pitch in the game because of a problem with his right heel.

The Phillies lineup against righty James McDonald went (1) Pierre (2) Victorino (3) Rollins (4) Pence (5) Thome (6) Wigginton (7) Galvis (8) Schneider. Pierre in left, Thome at first and Schneider catching, all making their first starts of the season. Wigginton starts at third, although he’s not a great hitter against righties and can’t offer the defense that Polanco does. Victorino drops to second in the order with Pierre leading off. Galvis hits ahead of Schneider, which seems odd to me given that Galvis doesn’t seem to have much chance to get on base.

Victorino singled with one out in the top of the first and moved to second on a ground out by Rollins. Pence was next and he doubled into the left field corner, scoring Victorino easily to put the Phils up 1-0. Thome flew to left to leave Pence at second.

Just the second extra-base hit of the year for the Phils.

Galvis walked with one out in the second, but Schneider hit into a double-play behind him.

The Phils went in order in the third.

With one out in the fourth, Pence hit a 2-1 pitch out to left-center, putting the Phillies on top 2-0. Thome and Wigginton both grounded out behind him.

Third extra-base hit of the year for the Phils and the first home run.

The Phils went in order in the fifth.

The lead had been cut to 2-1 when they hit in the sixth. Pierre led off with a bunt single and took second on a throwing error by Alvarez. Victorino bunted him to third with the first out. Rollins struck out swinging for the second out. The righty McDonald walked the righty Pence intentionally, putting men on first and third with two down. McDonald then struck Thome out looking 2-2 to leave both runners stranded.

Wow. Pence was 2-for-2 in the game with a double, a home run and seemingly the only hitter in the game with a pulse for the Phils, but still that was rather gutsy. It worked out pretty well for the Pirates, though.

Please, please, please it’s enough with bunting with the good hitters. The number of hitters in the lineup who can hit a double, much less a home run, is pretty limited. If you want to bunt all the time, what say you do it with Galvis, Polanco and Pierre and not Rollins, Victorino and Nix.

With a runner in scoring position and nobody out, Victorino bunts the runner to third. Then the Phillies fail to score with one out and a man on third. Rollins strikes out and Thome strikes out with a nutty IBB in-between.

Righty Jared Hughes started the seventh for Pittsburgh and walked Wigginton to start the inning. Galvis bunted. Hughes fielded and threw to first, where Walker, covering first, didn’t come up with the ball for an error. Wigginton wound up at third and Galvis at second with nobody out. Schneider lined hard to first for the first out. Nix hit for Worley and grounded to second for the second out with the runners holding. Pierre was next, though, and he lined a two-run single to right, putting the Phils on top 4-1. Victorino walked and the Phils pulled off a double-steal before Rollins struck out to leave the runners stranded at second and third.

That’s a bunt I can get behind — not because it worked out so great, but because Galvis isn’t Shane Victorino. Or Jimmy Rollins or Laynce Nix.

Speaking of Nix, that’s the second time in two games Nix came up empty in a big situation with a runner on third and less than two outs. In the top of the first in Saturday’s game, the Phils put men on first and third with one out for Nix and Nix struck out swinging for the second out before Mayberry flew to center to set the Phillies down.

Huge hit for Pierre, who had a fantastic game in his first start of the year.

Righty Evan Meek set Pence, Polanco and Wigginton down in order in the eighth with the lead cut to 4-3.

Righty Joel Hanrahan struck out Mayberry and Schneider in a 1-2-3 ninth.

Pierre was great in his first start of the year. 2-for-4 with a stolen base and two RBI. 2-for-5 in the three-game set. Mayberry was 0-for-1 with a strikeout in the game. 2-for-8 with a double and three strikeouts in the set.

Victorino was 1-for-2 with a walk and a stolen base in the game. 3-for-10 with two walks and two stolen bases in the series.

Rollins was miserable. 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and four men left on base. Huge strikeout in the sixth with one out and Pierre on third. 2-for-12 with two strikeouts in the set. Needs to stop bunting out of the three-hole really, really soon.

Pence 2-for-3 with a walk, a double and a home run. 3-for-11 with two walks in the series.

Thome 0-for-3 with a strikeout and three men left on base. Pence was memorably walked intentionally in front of him in the game. 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in the series. Started a nice double-play defensively in the fourth. Nix was 0-for-2 with a strikeout in the game and 0-for-4 with a walk in the set.

Wigginton 0-for-3 with a walk. Playing him at third against a lefty makes a lot more sense to me than playing him at third against a righty, just cause he’s gotta have a big offensive advantage over Polanco to make up for Polanco’s defense. He made a big error in the seventh on Alvarez’s strikeout that led to two unearned runs the Phillies couldn’t afford to allow. 1-for-8 with a walk in the series. Polanco 0-for-1 in the game and 2-for-9 in the series.

Galvis 0-for-2 with a walk in the game. 0-for-10 with a walk in the series.

Schneider was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and left three men on base. He also hit into a double-play in the second. Big at-bat in the seventh with nobody out and men on second and third, but Schneider lined to first. Ruiz was 4-for-6 with a walk in the series.

Cole Hamels faces righty Anibal Sanchez today in the home opener.


A bloop and a fast

Juan Pierre was at it again last night, going 1-for-2 with a double and a stolen base to lead the Phils to a 4-3 win over the Pirates. Pierre led off the bottom of the first with a bloop double off the glove of the left fielder and came around to score the first run of the game with the help of a pair of fly ball outs. In the third he was hit by a pitch, stolen second and came in to score on a double by Rollins.

Pierre is now hitting 373/431/424 in official Spring Training action and appears to have solidified a spot in the lineup for himself, at least against right-handed pitching.

Joe Blanton started the game for the Phils and allowed a pair of runs over 4 2/3 innings on two singles and a double. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three. After five starts, Blanton has a 4.58 ERA and 1.07 ratio. In 19 2/3 innings he has walked just one batter while striking out 16.

Bastardo followed Blanton, facing one batter in the bottom of the fifth with the bases empty and striking him out to end the frame. Pat Misch went three innings after that, allowing a run on a solo homer to Andrew McCutchen in the sixth. Kyle Kendrick set McCutchen, Neil Walker and Garrett Jones down in order in the ninth with a one-run lead to get the save.

Kendrick dropped his ERA to a 1.54 with the outing. He and Valdes are the pitchers on the team who have pitched the most innings this spring without allowing a home run. They have combined to throw 24 1/3 innings without giving up a long ball (12 2/3 for Valdes and 11 2/3 for Kendrick). By a wide margin, Halladay is the pitcher on the team who has had the most trouble with allowing home runs in Spring Training. He has allowed seven in 22 innings — that rate of allowing home runs would have him giving about 64 over 200 innings. That might not even happen.

Victorino was 1-for-3 with a triple in the game and Galvis 2-for-3 with a seventh-inning triple that put the Phils on top to stay. Galvis is at 272/287/457 for the spring over 81 at-bats. Rollins was 1-for-2 with a double and two RBI out of the three-hole. He’s hitting 250/338/367.

The teams play again tonight with Hamels expected to pitch for the Phils.

In this article, Manuel suggests that Mayberry will still get a lot of chances despite the emergence of Pierre.

This article says Manuel won’t use Thome in the field a whole lot and suggests 20 games might be a realistic guess.


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