Tag: Joe Blanton

Joe who?

Blanton, apparently. I think I remember something about a guy with a name like that from the 2008 World Series. Not positive, though.

After solid performances with the Phillies in 2008 and 2009, Joe Blanton has been pretty awful since. In 2010 and 2011 combined, Blanton appeared in 40 games for the Phillies, throwing to an ugly 4.85 ERA with an ugly 1.43 ratio over 217 innings.

Last night he made his first start of 2012 and was very good, holding the Marlins to a run on three hits over seven innings. Backed by solo homers from Victorino and Wigginton, it was enough to get the Phils a win.

The Phillies are 3-3 on the year after beating the Miami Marlins 3-1 last night. The Phils take the series two games to one. Over the last two games of the series, the Phillies outscored Miami 10-2.

Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing a run on three hits and a walk. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, both doubles. He struck out three and dropped his ERA to 2.35 after two appearances.

Switch-hitter Jose Reyes was the first hitter of the game and grounded to second. Another switch-hitter, Emilio Bonifacio was next and he grounded to short. Righty Hanley Ramirez flew to Victorino for the third out.

Blanton got righty Giancarlo Stanton to ground to short to start the second. Lefty Logan Morrison was next and he flew to left for the second out. Blanton struck righty Gaby Sanchez out looking to set the Fish down.

Righty Omar Infante led off the top of the third and flew to center, but righty John Buck followed with a double to left. The pitcher Mark Buehrle was next and he hit a ball up the middle. Galvis made a fantastic play, diving to his right, fielding and throwing to first for the second out as Buck moved up to third. Reyes lined to right where the ball was caught by a sliding Pence to end the frame and leave Buck at third.

Two nice plays for the Phils in the inning. Galvis’s was a little more spectacular. He got a nice pick from Wigginton on a throw in the dirt as well.

Blanton had thrown 37 pitches through three innings.

He set the Marlins down in order in the fourth, getting Bonifacio, Ramirez and Stanton.

Blanton had a 2-0 lead when he started the fifth. He got the first two hitters before Infante doubled into left-center. Buck was next and he hit a ball into shallow right-center. Pence made a sliding effort, but didn’t come up with it. Infante scored from second to cut the lead to 2-1. Blanton struck Buehrle out to leave Buck at first.

Reyes started the sixth and hit a ball hard to second that Galvis couldn’t handle for an error. Bonifacio followed with a ball hit to short, where Rollins forced Reyes out at second but couldn’t get the relay to first in time to get Bonifacio. Blanton walked Ramirez on a 3-1 pitch, putting men on first and second for Stanton. Stanton hit a ball very hard, but Galvis made a great play to take it for the second out. Morrison grounded out softly to Blanton to leave both runners stranded.

Blanton set the Marlins down in order in the seventh, getting Sanchez and Infante on popups and striking Buck out swinging.

Qualls started the eighth with a 3-1 lead, making his third appearance of the year and pitching for the second straight day. Pitcher Steve Cishek was due to lead off, but lefty Greg Dobbs pinch-hit for him and Qualls set him down on a ground ball to first. Reyes followed and grounded out to third before Bonifacio reached on an infield single and Ramirez walked behind him. It put me on first and second for Stanton, but Qualls struck him out looking at a pitch that sure looked way out of the strike zone to me to leave both runners stranded.

Three outings for Qualls in which he has not been charged with a run. Two hits and a walk over three scoreless innings. He got a lot of help with the call on the 3-2 pitch to Stanton.

Papelbon started the ninth with the Phils up two runs. Morrison led off and lined a single to left. Sanchez popped out to Ruiz before Infante moved Morrison to second with a single into center. It brought Buck to the plate with the tying runs on base, but Papelbon got Buck to ground to Rollins and the Phils turned the double-play to end the game.

Second save of the year for Papelbon, who has allowed a run in three innings over three appearances.

Two scoreless innings for the pen. Qualls and Papelbon combine to allow three hits and a walk, but keep the Marlins off the board. Qualls threw 22 pitches in the game and Papelbon 12. Qualls has pitched two days in a row.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Mark Buehrle went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Rollins (4) Pence (5) Mayberry (6) Wigginton (7) Ruiz (8) Galvis. Wigginton plays first with Mayberry in left. Victorino moves up from five to hit leadoff against the lefty. Hitting second in the order is still too high for Polanco, but it makes more sense against a lefty than a righty. Either Victorino or Pence is the best hitter in the lineup against left-handed pitching. Not sure you want either of them leading off.

The Phils went in order in the first and again in the second. Mayberry and Rollins both struck out, Wigginton popped to first and Pence, Victorino and Polanco went down on ground balls.

Ruiz, Galvis and Blanton all went down on ground balls in the third.

Victorino led off the fourth and hit an 0-2 pitch well out to left, putting the Phils on top 1-0. Polanco was next and he hit the ball well to, but Stanton took it in deep right for the first out. Rollins followed that with a single to left. Pence was next and he doubled into the left field corner. The relay throw got away in the infield and Rollins tried to score from third, but Infante got to the ball and threw home in time to get Rollins for the second out. Mayberry followed with another hit, lining a single into left to score Pence and put the Phils up 2-0. Wigginton went down on a fly ball to left to leave Mayberry at first.

More aggressive play from Phils running the bases, but this time it costs a run as Rollins tries to score from third and is thrown out ahead of the single by Mayberry.

Ruiz, Galvis and Blanton went in order in the fifth with the lead cut to 2-1.

Victorino tried to bunt for a hit to start the sixth, but Ramirez threw him out for the first out. Polanco followed that with a single into center. Rollins popped to second before Pence moved Polanco up to second with a single to right. Mayberry popped to Reyes to end the inning.

Victorino hit 308/424/608 against left-handed pitching. I wouldn’t have him bunting against lefties when leading off the inning too much. It was also the third time in the game he had led off an inning with nobody on base against a lefty. He only hit a solo homer in one of those at-bats.

Wigginton led off the seventh and hit a 1-2 pitch out to left for his first home run of the year, putting the Phils on top 3-1. Ruiz grounded to short before Galvis bunted for a single, putting a man on for Blanton’s spot. With the lefty Buehrle still pitching for the Fish, Thome hit for Blanton. Lefty Randy Choate took over for Buehrle to pitch to Thome and struck him out looking for the second out. Righty Steve Chisek came in to pitch to Victorino and got Victorino on a fly ball to left, leaving Galvis stranded.

Thome still looking for his first hit of the season.

Righty Edward Mujica set the Phils down in the eighth, getting Polanco, Rollins and Pence and working around a Stanton error on a dropped foul ball.

Victorino was 1-for-4 with a home run in the game and 4-for-11 with a walk and a homer in the set. 333/417/476 in 25 plate appearances for the season.

Polanco was 1-for-4 in the game and 3-for-13 with three singles in the series. 5-for-22 (.227) with five singles so far.

Rollins 1-for-4 with a single last night and 5-for-13 with an RBI in the series. He’s hitting 280/280/280 through 26 plate appearances (7-for-25 with seven singles and no walks).

Pence was 2-for-4 with a double in the game and 6-for-12 with a double in the series. 391/440/691 in the early going.

Mayberry was 1-for-3 with an RBI in the game and 3-for-11 in the series. 5-for-19 with a double so far. Pierre didn’t appear in the game. He was 1-for-9 in the series and is 3-for-14 with three singles on the year.

Wigginton 1-for-3 with a homer in the game and 1-for-4 in the series. 2-for-12 with a walk and a home run so far.

Ruiz 0-for-3 in the game and 2-for-10 with a double and a home run in the series. 6-for-16 with a two walks, a double and a homer run for the season.

Galvis 1-for-3 with a bunt single. 3-for-10 with two doubles and four RBI in the series. 3-for-20 with two doubles for the season. He and Pence are tied for the team lead in RBI with four.

Cliff Lee (0-0, 1.50) faces righty RA Dickey (1-0, 3.00) tonight. Lee allowed just one run over six innings against the Pirates in his first start, but didn’t get a lot of help as the Phils fell to Pittsburgh. Dickey allowed two runs on five hits and four walks over six innings in his first start of the year, which came against the Braves.

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.

Underflyin’ Hawaiian?

The total number of bases stolen by the Phillies was down in 2011 compared to recent years. In my previous post, I suggested that a big part of the dropoff has to do with the number of bases that are being stolen by Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino.

In 2011, Rollins stole 30 bases for the Phils and Victorino stole 19. Based on their career numbers for stolen bases based on plate appearances and the number of times they have been on base, which of those numbers should come as a bigger surprise?

      Before 2011       In 2011    
  SB PA TOB SB per PA SB per TOB PA Expected SB based on PA Expected SB based on TOB Actual SB
Rollins 343 6906 2257 .0497 .152 631 31.34 32.37 30
Victorino 143 3043 1034 .0470 .138 586 27.54 28.49 19

I think the answer is that based on his pre-2011 numbers, Rollins’s stolen base total of 30 given his plate appearances and times on base is a lot closer to expected than Victorino’s 19. The 30 stolen bases isn’t really even a surprise of Rollins, given his past history of stolen base totals relative to the number of plate appearances he gets and the number of times he gets on base. Rollins missed time with injuries in 2011, limiting his plate appearances to 631 for the season. His stolen base rate in 2011 was very similar to what it was in 2006. That year he got 758 plate appearances, was on base 253 times and stole 36 bases. Based on his ’11 rate, he would have stolen 36 bases over 758 plate appearances in 2011 as well.

While his 2006 and 2011 rates of stolen bases are similar, Rollins has slowed a bit in the stolen base department over the past three years. He stole a career high 47 bases in 2008 and in that year his rates for stolen bases per plate appearance and stolen bases per time on base were also the highest for his career. In the three years since, Rollins has gotten 1,750 plate appearances, been on base 553 times and stolen 78 bases. Had he stolen bases at the rate he had through the end of 2008 and gotten the same number of plate appearances and times on base, we would have expected between 85 (if you use times on base) and 89 (if you use plate appearances) stolen bases.

The other thing I think the table above illustrates is that whether you base it on his stolen bases per plate appearance or his stolen bases per times on base, Rollins has been more likely to steal a base over his career than Victorino.

Victorino saw a bigger drop in his stolen bases in 2011, having stolen 132 bags over his last four seasons, an average of 33 per year.

Victorino stole more than 40 bases in the minors in both 2001 and 2002. In 2003 he got just 86 plate appearances with the Padres, but still stole seven bases. He arrived with the Phils in 2006 and didn’t run at all, getting just four stolen bases in 462 plate appearances. He followed that up with four years with the Phils as an everyday player in which he stole an average of 33 bases a year, at least 25 in every season and at least 30 in three of the four, before stealing just 19 in 2011.

Victorino was effective in his stolen base attempts in 2011, he just made fewer of them. He was caught stealing just three times, giving him a safe rate of 86.4%, which was the second-best of his career after 2007 when he stole 37 bags and was caught just four times (90.2% safe). He also saw considerable time in the leadoff spot in the order, getting 237 plate appearances batting first in the order. While hitting first in the order he stole just nine bases — in 2010 he had gotten 386 plate appearances as a leadoff hitter and stole bases at a much higher rate, getting 22 for the season while batting first.

So why did Victorino run less last year? I don’t know. But I think it’s important to remember that even when you include stolen bases, 2011 was the most productive year of his career as an offensive player. He walked at the best rate of his career, hit a career-high 16 triples and, as a percentage of his plate appearances, delivered extra-base hits and home runs at the highest level of his career. Remember, as good as Victorino’s year was, he had even better numbers before slowing at the end of the season. After going 2-for-4 with a walk and a triple against the Fish on September 2, Victorino was hitting a monster 308/384/542 in 471 plate appearances for the season. His numbers tumbled after that as he hit 163/237/288 over his last 115 plate appearances.

Victorino will appear on the February 20 episode of Hawaii Five-O.

This article by Jayson Stark suggests the Phils may be trying to trade Joe Blanton and that doing so might enable them to try to bring back Oswalt.

Meet me in someplace other than St Louis

Looking at the four teams from yesterday’s post, here’s how those potential playoff teams in the NL have pitched against the Phils this season:

Team Record vs. PHI ERA Ratio K/9
STL 6-3 2.96 1.21 5.4
MIL 3-4 3.00 1.24 6.4
ATL 6-9 4.21 1.28 6.2
ARI 3-3 4.33 1.38 9.0

St Louis was one of two teams in baseball with a winning record against the Phils going into last night’s game, winning six of the nine games the teams played (including three of four in the series that ended on Monday). Seattle was the other team and they went 2-1. Washington is 9-8 against the Phils after beating them last night.

The 2.96 ERA that St Louis pitchers threw to against the Phils is the best mark for any NL team. The Cards took three of four from the Phils in the recent series and the Phils won two of three against the Cards in St Louis in mid-June. May 16 and 17 the Phils played a two-game set in St Louis and lost both games as St Louis starters Jamie Garcia and Jake Westbrook held the Phils to two runs (one unearned) over 15 innings.

The Diamondbacks notable whiffed the Phils at a high rate, striking out 52 Phillie hitters in 52 innings. Ian Kennedy (14 strikeouts in 12 innings against the Phils over two starts) did a lot of the damage there. Joe Saunders struck out 11 Phillies in 11 2/3 innings in his two starts, despite allowing 11 runs in those 11 2/3 frames. Josh Collmenter struck out nine in 7 2/3 innings over two appearances and Daniel Hudson fanned six in six frames in his one start.

Last night the Phils lost 7-5 to the Washington Nationals to fall to 98-57 on the year. They have lost five in a row and six of seven.

It’s the first time this season the Phillies have lost five games in a row.

Worley gave up a two-run homer to Wil Ramos in the top of the second to put Washington up 2-0. They Phils came back in the bottom of the inning, scoring two runs on five singles to tie the game at 2-2. In the bottom of the third, Mayberry singled with two outs, stole second and took third on a throwing error by Ramos before scoring on single by Ibanez to put the Phils up 3-2. Danny Espinosa hit a two-run shot off of Worley in the sixth to put Washington back up at 4-3. Justin De Fratus started the eighth for the Phillies and hit the first batter he faced and walked the next one before Bastardo took over. Bastardo made a throwing error and allowed two singles before getting out of the frame. Washington plated three runs to extend their lead to 7-3. Mayberry followed a leadoff walk by Utley with a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth to make it 7-5.

Not a good start for Worley, who allowed four runs over six innings. He has thrown to a 4.23 ERA over his last eight starts. Like Hamels, Worley’s home run rate has skyrocketed late in the season. Over his first 12 appearances for the year, Worley threw 62 1/3 innings and allowed just two home runs (0.29 HR per nine). Over his last 11 appearances, he’s thrown 66 2/3 innings and allowed eight (1.08 per nine).

Blanton threw a scoreless inning in the game. In three relief appearances since returning he has allowed a run on three hits and no walks over three innings while striking out four.

Schwimer threw a scoreless inning as well, dropping his ERA on the year to 6.35.

Bastardo faced six hitters. One reached on an error, two singled and he got three outs. Over his last six appearances, he’s thrown 3 1/3 innings and allowed six runs on six hits and five walks (16.20 ERA with a 3.30 ratio and opponents have hit 400/524/667 against him).

Mayberry was 3-for-4 with a two-run homer in the game. He’s hitting 307/350/614 since the All-Star break. 302/366/543 at home for the season compared to 248/308/512 on the road.

Francisco was 3-for-4 with three singles. He has started seven games in September and hit 400/400/400 (10-for-25 with ten singles and no walks).

Ibanez had two singles, going 2-for-4 with an RBI. He came into the game 2-for-his-last-22.

At the top of the order, Rollins, Victorino, Polanco and Utley combined to go 0-for-16 with two walks.

Roy Oswalt (8-9, 3.66) faces righty Brad Peacock (1-0, 1.42) tonight.

Backwards night at the park not a big hit with the Phils

Everything was a little upside down last night in Houston. Former Astro Roy Oswalt pitched for the Phillies with former Astro Hunter Pence playing right field. Former Phil Brett Myers started for the Astros. Joe Blanton pitched in relief.

Oh, and the Phils looked awful. And lost. 5-1. They didn’t do much of anything with Myers, who dropped his ERA on the year to 4.52 by holding them to a run over eight innings. The Phils weren’t charged with an error in the game, but looked pretty bad in the field. During one three-batter stretch in the fourth, the Phils had a ball go off of Ibanez’s glove in left for a hit, Jimmy Rollins and Pete Orr knocked each other down trying to field a ground ball behind second and Oswalt couldn’t handle a relay from second on a would-be double-play. Again, no errors, but you want to make some of those plays if you’re only going to score one run.

Oswalt again didn’t pitch well for the Phils. In his last five starts he’s had two really good outings, but the other three times out he’s allowed 14 runs in 19 innings. Since the end of May, Oswalt has made 13 appearances with the Phils (12 starts) in which he has thrown to a 4.66 ERA and opponents have hit .314 against him.

The Phillies are 94-50 on the year after falling 5-1 to the Houston Astros last night. The Phils have lost two in a row, but won six of their last eight. Their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is one. They lead the NL East by 12 games over the second-place Braves. The Braves have 14 games left to play and lead the Cardinals by 4 1/2 games in the Wild Card hunt.

Oswalt got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing five runs on 11 hits and two walks. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and a home run. He struck out five.

He set the Astros down in order in the bottom of the first, getting Jordan Schafer on a fly ball to left, Angel Sanchez on a fly ball to center and striking JD Martinez out swinging.

Carlos Lee singled to left to start the second with the Phils up 1-0, but Oswalt got Brian Bogusevic to ground into a double-play behind him. Jimmy Paredes popped to Rollins for the third out.

Oswalt got Jose Altuve on a fly ball to center for the first out of the third. Humberto Quintero grounded to short for the second before pitcher Brett Myers singled to right. Schafer followed that with a walk, but Oswalt got Sanchez on a fly ball to right to leave both runners stranded.

Martinez doubled to right to start the fourth. Lee grounded to third for the first out with Martinez holding second. Bogusevic was next and he hit a ball to left that went off of Ibanez’s glove for a single that moved Martinez up to third. With men on first and third, Paredes hit a ground ball up the middle that Rollins and Orr both tried to field at the same time just to the right of second base. They ran into each other and both fell to the ground. Paredes was safe with a single, Martinez scored to tie the game at 1-1 and Bogusevic took second. Altuve was next and hit a ball to first. Howard went to second to force Paredes for the second out. Oswalt covered first but the relay from Rollins went off of Oswalt’s glove and Altuve was safe. Bogusevic moved up to third on the play. Quintero was the next batter, with two men down and men on first and third, and he doubled into the right field corner. Bogusevic scored to put Houston up 2-1 and Altuve took third. Myers grounded to second for the third out.

Oswalt got the first two to start the fifth before Martinez singled to right. Lee was next and he hammered an 0-2 pitch out to left for a two-run homer that put the Astros on top 4-1. Oswalt struck out Bogusevic for the third out.

Quintero and Myers singled back-to-back with two outs in the sixth, putting men on first and second for Schafer. Schafer lined to short for the third out.

Martinez singled yet again with one out in the seventh. Lee was next and Oswalt hit him on the hand with a pitch. Martinez moved up to third on a wild pitch before Bogusevic hit a ground ball to second. Lee was forced at second for the second out and Martinez scored from third to make it 5-1. Paredes followed with a walk, putting men on first and second, but Oswalt got Altuve on a fly ball to center to leave both runners stranded.

Martinez made a great play for the first out of the seventh. Sanchez chopped a ball to third and Martinez leaped high to snare it and made a strong throw to first in time for the first out.

Blanton, Joe Blanton, pitched the eighth, making his first appearance for the Phils since May 14. Quintero led off with a single to left. Righty Jason Michaels hit for Myers and popped to third for the first out. Blanton struck Schafer out swinging for the second out and got Sanchez to ground to Rollins for the third.

Blanton dropped his ERA on the year to 5.35 with the scoreless inning.

The Phillies lineup against righty Brett Myers went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Pence (4) Howard (5) Ibanez (6) Ruiz (7) Orr (8) Martinez. Rollins returns to the starting lineup for the Phils with Polanco on the bench and Martinez at third. Orr plays second with Utley still sidelined.

Pence doubled to right with two outs in the first, but Howard struck out swinging 3-2 to leave him at second.

Ibanez doubled to left to start the second. Ruiz grounded to short for the first out before Orr singled into center, scoring Ibanez to put the Phils up 1-0. Orr stole second and moved up to third when Martinez grounded to first for the second out. Oswalt grounded to first as well, leaving Orr at third.

Pence singled with two outs in the third and stole second, but Howard flew to left to leave him stranded.

Ruiz singled to right with one out in the fourth. Orr flew to center for the second out and Martinez grounded back to the mound.

Down 2-1, the Phils went in order in the fifth.

They were down 4-1 when they hit in the sixth. Ibanez walked with two outs, but Ruiz flew to center behind him.

They went in order again in the seventh.

Down 5-1, Rollins singled to start the eighth. Victorino flew to left for the first out, Pence grounded to second with Rollins moving up to second for the second. Howard grounded out to Altuve to end the frame.

Righty Mark Melancon took over for Myers in the ninth. Ibanez led off with a walk. Ruiz flew to right for the first out and Orr flew to center for the second. Polanco hit for Martinez and walked, putting men on first and second. Gload hit for Blanton and grounded to second.

Interesting non-use of Bowker there against the righty. Manuel must have felt Polanco was the better bet to get on base, or maybe he’d be better off waiting to use Bowker if the Phils got men on base. Polanco is on-basing .313 against righties for the season.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a single in his return.

Victorino 0-for-4. 176/256/311 over his last 82 plate appearances. Really looks like a good candidate for a day off.

Pence 2-for-4 with a double. He’s hitting .408 (13-for-32 with four doubles, a triple and a home run) over his last eight games.

Howard 0-for-4 and struck out twice. He’s 3-for-his-last-16 with eight strikeouts.

Ibanez 1-for-2 with a double and two walks. 360/418/600 in his last 55 plate appearances.

Ruiz 1-for-4. 389/457/472 over his last 82 plate appearances.

Martinez was 0-for-3. He’s 2-for-his-last-19 with four walks. He has started nine of the 12 games the Phils have played in September, going 5-for-29 with a double and a home run (172/314/310).

Hamels (14-7, 2.60) faces lefty JA Happ (5-15, 5.77) tonight. Happ is having a miserable year — righties (273/362/473) and lefties (295/356/457) are both hitting him hard. Hamels been very good against righties this season, holding them to a 196/244/298 line for the season, but has allowed more home runs in his recent outings. From May 13 to July 27, Hamels made 15 starts in which he faced 411 batters and hit four home runs. Over his last two starts he has allowed four home runs to the 60 batters he has faced.

Curiosity grows about where Lee is getting the month-to-month lease on unhittable

Wherever it is, here’s hoping he renews for another couple of months.

The Phils got more outstanding starting pitching last night as Cliff Lee threw 8 2/3 shutout innings and the Phils topped the Reds 3-0. For Lee it ends an August in which he allowed two runs in 39 2/3 innings over five starts.

In June, Lee allowed a run over 42 innings in five starts. In June and August combined, Lee threw to an 0.33 ERA with an 0.73 ratio and struck out 68 in 81 2/3 innings. In the months of the season other than June or August, Lee has thrown to a 4.22 ERA with a 1.28 ratio and struck out 130 in 113 innings.

In the first three games of the four-game set, the Phils have now outscored the Reds 15-2. The starting pitchers for the Phils have thrown 21 2/3 scoreless innings in the set, allowing ten hits and three walks while striking out 23. By runs scored per game, the Reds have the second-best offense in the NL behind St Louis.

The Phillies are 86-46 on the year after beating the Cincinnati Reds 3-0 last night. They are 40 games over .500 for the first time since 1977 and in first place in the NL East, 7 1/2 games ahead of the Braves.

Lee started the game for the Phillies and went 8 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing six hits and a walk. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He struck out seven.

Up 1-0, he set the Reds down in order in the bottom of the first. He got Brandon Phillips on a line drive to right, Dave Sappelt on a line drive to left and Joey Votto on a ground ball to second.

Both Phillips and Sappelt hit the ball well against Lee in the first, but both into outs.

In the second he got Jay Bruce to ground to first, Miguel Cairo swinging and Drew Stubbs swinging.

Ramon Hernandez stated the third with a single to right. Paul Janish struck out swinging for the first out before the pitcher Dontrelle Willis bunted Hernandez to second with the second. Phillips grounded to short for the third out.

Sappelt reached on an infield single to start the fourth, but was thrown out trying to steal second as Lee struck out Votto. Bruce singled to right before Cairo flew to right to end the inning.

Stubbs reached on an infield single to start the fifth. Hernandez was next and hit a ball to the right of Valdez at short. Valdez made a nice play, fielding in the hole and throwing to second to force Stubbs. Utley sailed his throw to first to try to double-up Hernandez, but it was backed up nicely by Ruiz. Ruiz threw to second and Hernandez was tagged out to complete the double-play. Janish flew to left for the third out.

Up 2-0, Lee set the Reds down in order in the sixth.

He started the seventh up 3-0 and struck out Bruce and Cairo as he set the Reds down in order.

Stubbs singled to left to start the eighth, but Lee got Hernandez on a fly ball to center for the first out and Janish on a fly ball to right for the second. Righty Todd Frazier hit for the pitcher Jose Arredondo and Lee struck him out looking 2-2 to end the inning.

Lee got the first two to start the ninth before Votto doubled to center. Bruce was next and Lee walked him on a 3-2 pitch, bringing the righty Cairo to the plate as the tying run. Lee hit Cairo with an 0-2 pitch that Cairo didn’t try real hard to get out of the way of, loading the bases for the Reds. Madson took over for Lee and lefty Yonder Alonso hit for the righty Stubbs. Madson got Alonso to pop to Polanco in foul territory on a 1-1 pitch to end the game.

After getting Alonso to end last night’s game, lefties are hitting 213/289/267 against Madson for the year, which is worse than the 255/303/324 line for righties.

Madson threw three pitches in the game. Nobody in the pen has thrown more than one day in a row.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Dontrelle Willis went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Pence (6) Mayberry (7) Ruiz (8) Valdez. Mayberry starts in left with the lefty on the mound. Ibanez on the bench after going 3-for-5 with a two-run homer the night before. Valdez at short with Rollins on the DL.

Victorino and Polanco walked back-to-back to start the game. Utley hit a ground ball to second with Polanco forced at second for the first out and Victorino moving up to third. Howard hit a ball that Votto handled at first, throwing to second where Utley was forced for the second out as Victorino scored to put the Phils up 1-0. Pence flew to center to leave Howard at first.

Good no strikeout for Howard to bring Victorino home from third with one out.

Ruiz and Valdez singled back-to-back with one out in the second, putting runners on first and second for Lee. Lee bunted, Willis fielded and threw to third, where Ruiz was out but called safe. Victorino popped to Phillips near the first base line for the second out. Polanco grounded back to the pitcher.

No run for the Phils after getting an extra out and loading the bases with one out.

Pence and Mayberry walked back-to-back with two outs in the third. Ruiz flew to right to leave both runners stranded.

The Phils went in order in the fourth.

Lee grounded to second for the second out and didn’t run it out. He took a couple of steps towards first and waved his hand at the ball as Phillips fielded and threw to first.

Willis struck out Polanco, Utley and Howard in the fifth.

Pence led off the sixth and hit a 2-1 pitch out to center, putting the Phils up 2-0. Mayberry struck out behind him before Ruiz singled into center. Valdez grounded to third with Ruiz forced at second for the second out and took second on a wild

Victorino started the seventh with a walk and moved to third when Polanco followed with a single to center. Utley was next and hit a ground ball to short with Polanco forced at second for the first out and Victorino scoring to put the Phils up 3-0. Utley was running when Howard his a soft ground ball to short. Janish had moved to cover second and made a nice play, coming back to get the ball and then throwing to first to get Howard for the second out. It brought Pence to the plate with Utley at second and two. Righty Jose Arredondo came in to pitch to Pence and got him on a fly ball to left to set the Phillies down.

Mayberry and Ruiz singled back-to-back to start the eighth, putting men on first and second for Valdez. Valdez hit into a double-play, which left Mayberry at third with two down. Lee grounded to short for the third out.

Polanco singled with one out in the ninth, but Utley and Howard both flew out behind him.

Victorino was 0-for-3 with two walks in the game. He’s 3-for-his-last-21.

Polanco 2-for-4. He’s 2-for-his-last-13.

Utley 0-for-5 with an RBI and four men left on base. 7-for-his-last-35.

Howard 0-for-5 with an RBI. 5-for-his-last-34 with 14 strikeouts.

Pence 1-for-3 with a walk and a home run. He has homered in two straight games and seven times in his last 95 plate appearances. He’s slugging .573 in his 119 plate appearances with the Phils. He hit 340/413/596 in August.

Mayberry was 1-for-3 with a walk. He goes 2-for-15 to end the month, but hit 296/356/685 in 59 plate appearances in August.

Ruiz was 3-for-4. 304/383/412 in his last 232 plate appearances.

Valdez 1-for-4. Since August 22, when Rollins went on the DL, Valdez has hit 316/333/579 in 21 plate appearances (6-for-19 with a walk, two doubles and a home run).

Worley (9-1, 2.65) faces righty Mike Leake (11-8, 4.04) this afternoon. Leake threw to a 5.70 ERA in his first nine appearances of the year, which included three relief outings. Since then he’s made 17 starts in which he’s thrown to a 3.49 ERA with a 1.18 ratio. The Phillies have gone 14-2 in the games that Worley has started this season — if that’s not the biggest surprise of the year it makes the photo. The Phils have won 12 straight games that Worley has started. Worley has been charged with more than one run in just four of those 12 and more than two runs in two of the 12.

Joe Blanton is expected to pitch for Lakewood on Friday.

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