The Phillies and Pirates combined to make six errors last night, but it was the Phillies who came out on top with an 8-3 win in the series opener. Pittsburgh wasn’t exactly at the top of their game, making three errors in the first inning and walking three straight hitters in the seventh with the third walk forcing in a run.
Joe Blanton hasn’t pitched well at all of late, but was better last night, allowing three runs, only two of which were earned, over seven innings. There’s a whole lot not going well for the Phillies these days, but one thing that is going well is that they are finding a way to win Blanton’s starts no matter how he pitches. They’ve won five of the last eight games he’s started — during those outings, Blanton has thrown to a 6.75 ERA and allowed 16 home runs in 49 1/3 innings. In three of the five wins, Blanton has allowed five or more runs in the game.
For the season, Blanton has allowed 3.25 times as many home runs to right-handed batters as he has allowed walks to right-handed batters (four walks and 13 home runs).
Jimmy Rollins continues to pound the ball at the top of the order for the Phillies. He was 2-for-5 with a double and a home run in last night’s game, providing the only extra-base hits the Phillies would get in the contest. He’s hitting 393/433/750 over his last 60 plate appearances (22-for-56 with eight doubles and four home runs).
The Phillies are 35-40 on the year after beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-3 last night. They are tied for fourth-place in the NL East with the Marlins, eight games behind the Nationals.
Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and a walk. Only two of the runs were earned. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He struck out eight. It was the second time in his last eight starts that he allowed less than five runs in a start.
Blanton has walked 13 batters on the year and allowed 18 home runs. His walk rate is about half of what it has been for his career and the results overall are atrocious. He needs to get his home run rate down really soon, even if it means a lot more walks.
Blanton got the first two in the top of the first before Andrew McCutchen hit a ball to short that Rollins didn’t handle for an error. Garrett Jones followed that with a walk that put two men on for Neil Walker, but Blanton got Walker to ground to second to turn the Pirates away.
Pedro Alvarez singled to center to start the top of the second with the Phils up 4-0. Righty Mike McKenry was next, hitting for Rod Barajas, and moved Alvarez up to second with a single to left. Blanton got Clint Barmes to hit into a double-play before striking pitcher Jeff Karstens out to set Pittsburgh down.
With one out in the third, Jose Tabata hit a 1-0 pitch out to right-center, cutting the lead to 4-1. Blanton got the next three.
Another home run for Blanton, who came into the game having allowed 15 home runs in 42 1/3 innings over his last seven starts.
The Phillies were up 5-1 when Blanton started the fourth. Walker led off and doubled to left, but Blanton struck the next two hitters out behind him. Barmes was next, though, and singled to center. Pence charged, fielded and threw home. The plate at the plate was close, but Pence’s throw was a little on the first base side of the plate and Walker slid in safe to make it 5-2. Barmes took second on the play at the plate, but Blanton struck Karstens out to leave him there.
Blanton got Alex Presley on a fly ball to right for the first out of the fifth with the Phils up 7-2. Tabata was next and hit a ball down the third base line. Polanco fielded, but his throw to first was way high for an error that allowed Tabata to take second. McCutchen followed with a single into center that scored Tabata. 7-3. Jones was the next hitter and grounded back to the mound. Blanton fielded and threw to second for the second out. Blanton struck Walker out swinging to leave Jones at first.
Blanton allowed a leadoff single to Alvarez to start the seventh, but got the next three. Righty Matt Hague hit for Karstens and flew to right for the third out.
Diekman started the eighth with the Phillies up 8-3. He walked the leadoff man Jones to start the frame, but got Walker to ground into a double-play behind him. Diekman struck Alvarez out for the third out.
Diekman dropped his ERA to 3.86 with his 16th appearance. He’s walking way too many hitters, having allowed ten walks in 14 innings.
Qualls started the ninth with a five-run lead. He allowed a leadoff single to McKenry, but got Barmes to hit into a double-play behind him. Pinch-hitter Casey McGehee grounded to third for the third out.
Qualls was pitching for the third straight day. The Phillies don’t have someone else who can pitch the ninth with a five-run lead? Savery has thrown two-thirds of an inning since June 12. Valdes has made one appearance since being recalled on June 20. Schwimer has thrown 1 2/3 innings since June 16. Qualls needs to pitch for the third day in a row and for the fifth time in six days? Assuming all three of Savery, Valdes and Schwimer are available, that’s a mistake, even against three righties in the ninth.
Qualls hasn’t been charged with a run over 8 1/3 innings in his last nine appearances. The Phillies do need another right-handed reliever in the pen. Papelbon is the closer, Qualls can’t ever pitch against lefties and Schwimer has had some problems getting people out.
The Phillies lineup against righty Jeff Karstens went (1) Rollins (2) Pierre (3) Pence (4) Ruiz (5) Victorino (6) Polanco (7) Wigginton (8) Fontenot. Pierre in left and Fontenot at second against the righty. Wigginton plays first against the righty with Mayberry on the bench.
Rollins led off the bottom of the first with a double to right and Pierre bunted him to third with the first out. Pence followed with a single to right that scored Rollins and put the Phils up 1-0. Ruiz was next and singled to right. Tabata fielded and threw to third, not in time to get Pence. Ruiz headed for second when the throw went to third. Alvarez took Tabata’s throw and threw to second, throwing the ball into right field for the first error of the play. Tabata got to the ball and threw home as Pence tried to score, but his throw was not handled at the plate for another error, allowing Pence to score and make it 2-0 with Ruiz on third. Victorino was next and singled into center, scoring Ruiz to make it 3-0. Polanco was next and singled to right. Victorino headed to third and Tabata threw there. Again his throw was on line and again it was not handled for another error. This one allowed Victorino to score and extend the lead to 4-0 with Polanco on second. Wigginton and Fontenot both struck out swinging to leave Polanco on second.
Wild play on the Ruiz single. Tabata’s throw from right after the Alvarez error should have been handled at the plate, but they still wouldn’t have gotten Pence. Three errors in the frame for the Pirates. Tabata should be wary of throwing the ball anywhere.
The Phillies went in order in the second.
It was 4-1 when they hit in the third. Ruiz singled with one out, stole second and went to third on a ground out by Victorino. Polanco was next and singled into center, scoring Ruiz to make it 5-1. Wigginton grounded to third for the third out.
It was 5-2 when the Phillies hit in the fourth. Fontenot led off with a single. Blanton tried to bunt him to second, but popped up to Alvarez for the first out. Fontenot stole second before Rollins hit a 3-0 pitch out to right, putting the Phils up 7-2. Pierre flew to center for the second out before Pence reached on an infield single. Ruiz struck out swinging for the third out.
Rollins swinging 3-0 and hits the ball out of the yard. It’s his sixth home run in June. Through May 12, Rollins had 147 plate appearances for the season in which he hit 230/276/267 with five doubles and no home runs. Since May 12 he has gotten 180 plate appearances in which he has hit 299/350/539 with 12 doubles and eight home runs.
It was 7-3 when the Phillies hit in the fifth. With two outs and nobody on, Wigginton hit a ball to short that Barmes didn’t handle for the fourth Pirates error of the game. Fontenot moved Wigginton to third with a single, but Blanton grounded to short to leave the runners stranded.
Lefty Doug Slaten set the Phillies down in order in the sixth.
A single by Ruiz and walks to Victorino and Polanco, all issued by Slaten, loaded the bases for Wigginton to start the seventh. He got to hit against the lefty, too, and walked as well to force in Ruiz and extend the lead to 8-3 with the bases still loaded. Fontenot struck out swinging for the first out. Luna hit for Blanton and struck out for the second. Rollins struck out for the third.
Just one run for the Phils in the inning after their first four hitters reach on a single and three walks. After the first run, they can’t get any more with nobody out and the bases loaded as Fontenot and Luna both strike out with less than two outs.
Righty Jared Hughes set the Phils down in order in the eighth.
Rollins was 2-for-5 in the game with a double and a home run.
Pierre was 0-for-3. He’s 5-for-his-last-21 (.238).
Pence 2-for-5 with an RBI. 8-for-his-last-37 (.216).
Ruiz 3-for-5 with three singles. .313 in April, .418 in May and .319 in June.
Victorino 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. 3-for-his-last-14 (.214).
Polanco 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. He’s 4-for-his-last-6 with two walks and two doubles. He has walked six times in his last 31 plate appearances and six times in his first 190 plate appearances for the season.
Wigginton 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. 8-for-his-last-49 (.163). 207/274/350 over his last 157 plate appearances.
Fontenot was 2-for-4 and struck out twice, including once with the bases loaded and nobody out. He’s hitting .345 for the year.
Worley (3-4, 2.78) faces lefty Eric Bedard (4-7, 4.13) tonight. Worley has thrown to a 1.35 ERA over his last three games and the Phillies have lost all three. Bedard threw to a 2.57 ERA in his first seven starts on the year. Over his last seven appearances he has thrown to a 5.59 ERA and allowed 18 walks in 37 innings.