Tag: Kelly Johnson

Johnson & Johnson & Johnson & Johnson

The Phillies had a lot of problems against the Diamondbacks this weekend, but four home runs by Kelly Johnson in three games needs to go near the top of the list. Johnson going all one-man home run derby on ‘em was far from the only issue, though. Hamels and Kendrick put together a pair of pretty miserable efforts in which they combined to allow 11 runs in 11 innings and give up six home runs.

The left side of the infield is battered by injury and the problem seems to be getting worse instead of better. Juan Castro is the latest guy to go down. Victorino and Polanco didn’t get on base at the top of the lineup — Polanco missed some time banged up and Victorino hasn’t been getting on base all year. And then there’s the bullpen. Yesterday they put a guy into a tie game in the bottom of the eighth who ended the day having allowed 18 hits in 7 2/3 innings for the year. They didn’t win.

The Phillies are 11-7 on the season after dropping two of three to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Cole Hamels was awful in the first game of the series, which the Phillies lost 7-4. A triple by Victorino put the Phils up 1-0 in the third. In the fourth, Werth hit a fly ball to deep right center. Chris Young was under the ball on the track. It went in his glove briefly and then dropped on the track. Werth raced around the bases with Young and right fielder Justin apparently thinking he had been called out. He hadn’t and the Phillies led 2-0. Hamels allowed five runs in the bottom of the fourth on three home runs. Kelly Johnson homered off of him in the fifth to put Arizona up 6-2. Polanco had an RBI ground out in the seventh, but Johnson homered again in the seventh, this time off of Romero, and Arizona was up 7-3. Victorino drove in Ibanez with a single in the top of the ninth, but the game ended 7-4.

Nelson Figueroa made his first start for the Phillies since 2001 in the second game. He pitched well and the Phillies won 3-2 with a lot of help from Werth. Werth put the Phils up 1-0 with a solo shot off of Ian Kennedy in the second. Johnson connected for another home for the Snakes in the fifth — a two-run shot off of Figueroa that put Arizona on top 2-1. Ibanez hit his first home run of the year in the seventh, tying the game at 2-2. Werth went deep again in the top of the ninth to put the Phils ahead 3-2. Madson closed it out in the bottom of the inning to earn his first save. Durbin and Contreras provided fantastic middle relief after Figueroa left after five. They combined to strike out six over three scoreless innings.

The Phillies lost yesterday’s game 8-6. Kendrick took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth, but gave up two big home runs in the inning that put Arizona on top 5-3. The Phils pulled ahead 6-5 with three runs in the top of the sixth, but the Diamondbacks tied the game with a run charged to Baez in the bottom of the seventh. Herndon pitched the eighth and didn’t have much success — he allowed a pair of runs on four hits, two of which went for extra-bases, and a walk. The Phillies started Gload, Dobbs and Valdez in the game, but they weren’t the problem so much as not getting anybody out. Gload, Dobbs and Valdez combined to go 5-for-14 in the game with a homer from Dobbs.

The pitching wasn’t good in the series. Overall the pitchers threw to a 6.12 ERA with a 1.76 ratio. Figueroa have a nice effort in game two of the series, but Hamels and Kendrick were both hit hard. Overall the starters went 16 innings, pitching to a 7.31 ERA and a 1.75 ratio. They allowed seven home runs in 16 innings.

Hamels went six innings in game one, allowing six runs on eight hits and a walk. He allowed four home runs in the game and struck out seven. He has a 5.11 ERA.

Figueroa went five innings in game two, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. One of the hits went for extra-bases, the two-run homer by Johnson. He struck out four. He’s been a fantastic pickup for the Phils so far, pitching to a 2.92 ERA and a 1.22 ratio over 12 1/3 innings in four appearances.

Kendrick started game three yesterday. He went five innings, allowing five runs on eight hits and four walks. Five of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles, a triple and two home runs. He struck out four and his ERA puffed to 7.71 after four starts. One of his starts has been great and the other three very much not.

The bullpen wasn’t much better than the starting pitching. They threw to a 4.00 ERA and a 1.78 ratio in nine innings. Contreras and Durbin pitched well and Madson got the save in game two, but Romero, Baez and especially Herndon got hit hard. They did keep the Snakes largely in the yard, holding them to one home run that Johnson hit off of Romero in the first game of the series.

Romero made his first appearance with the Phillies in game one. He entered in the seventh with the Phillies losing 6-3. He faced two batters. Kelly Johnson homered and Stephen Drew walked.

Bastardo entered the seventh inning of game three yesterday with one out and a man on second. He faced two hitters and got two ground outs to leave the runner stranded. He was pitching for the first time since April 15.

Durbin pitched the sixth and seventh innings of game two and was very good. He entered with the Phillies down 2-1 and struck out three in two scoreless innings. He has an 0.96 ERA and an 0.96 ratio after his first seven appearances for the year.

Contreras entered game one in the seventh with one out, a man on first and the Phillies down 7-3. He got Upton on a fly ball to center and then struck out Mark Reynols and Adam LaRoche. He also pitched in game two, entering in the eighth with the score tied at 2-2. He allowed a single and struck out the side, dropping his ERA for the year to 1.59.

Herndon pitched the bottom of the eighth in game one with the Phillies down 7-3. He gave up a leadoff single, but got Cole Gillespie to hit into a double-play. He walked the next batter and then got Gerrardo Parra to ground to Utley to end the inning. He also pitched yesterday in a key spot, entering to pitch the bottom of the eighth with the score tied at 6-6. It didn’t go well. Single, double, RBI-double made it 7-6 Arizona with a man on second and one out cause they threw a runner out at the plate. He walked Adam LaRoche to set up the double-play, but Young delivered an RBI single that made it 8-6 with men on first and second. Then he got Parra to hit into a double-play to end the inning. Herndon was probably the victim of a small strike zone in the inning. It looked like he had struck out Stephen Drew and Mark Reynolds both before they delivered big hits. He didn’t get the call. He’s made eight appearances for the Phils and has a 7.64 ERA and a 2.61 ratio.

Baez started the sixth inning of game three with a 6-5 lead. He allowed a leadoff walk and then a two-out single before getting Adam LaRoche on a fly ball to center with men on first and third to keep Arizona off the board. He came back to start the seventh and gave up a leadoff double to Chris Young. He got Gerardo Parra on a ground ball before John Hester delivered an RBI-double that tied the game at 6-6. Bastardo came into the game to pitch to switch-hitter Tony Abreu. He has a 6.43 ERA for the season after eight appearances.

Madson got the save in game two, entering in the bottom of the ninth to protect a 3-2 lead. He gave up a one-out single to Gerraro Parra, but struck out the next two batters to end the game.

Victorino didn’t play yesterday with Werth in center field. He was 2-for-9 with a triple in the series and is hitting 213/250/387 for the season. He has zero walks in his last 27 at-bats.

Polanco didn’t start yesterday with Dobbs at third. He was 1-for-10 in the series and is hitting 343/360/500 for the year. He’s walked once on the season, which puts him on pace to walk nine times this year. Victorino and Polanco combine to go 3-for-19 with no walks in the series.

Utley was 1-for-12 with a walk and five strikeouts in the series. 294/429/618.

Howard was 2-for-12 with two singles. 275/301/475 for the year. He’s has walked once in the last 13 games and is on pace to walk 27 times for the season.

Werth was 4-for-11 with two home runs in the series. 333/400/619 for the year.

Ibanez was out of the lineup against righty Kris Benson in game one with Francisco in left. 3-for-8 with a double and his first home run of the season in the series. 224/356/362 on the year. He’s on pace to walk 117 times this year.

Castro left game two of the series for a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning with a tight hamstring. He was 1-for-5 with a double in the series and is hitting 333/341/385 for the season.

Ruiz was 3-for-6 with a double and a walk in the series, raising his line on the year to 304/439/370.

Valdez started Sunday’s game at short and took over for Castro in game two when Castro left with the hamstring problem. 2-for-6 with two singles. 2-for-9 with the Phils.

Schneider started Friday’s game and went 1-for-4 with a single and a strikeout. He’s 2-for-13 on the year.

Francisco started game one in left against a righty. 2-for-5 in the set. 3-for-13 with a double on the season.

Dobbs started at third base Sunday and hit a home run. 1-for-6 with a homer in the series. 222/300/500 for the year in 18 at-bats.

Gload got a start in right field in game three with Victorino on the bench and Werth pushed to center. 2-for-5 with two singles and 3-for-7 in the series. 5-for-15 with five singles on the year.

Halladay (4-0, 0.82) faces lefty Jonathan Sanchez (1-1, 1.86) tonight in San Francisco. Halladay has been silly good so far. Sanchez has allowed four hits and six walks over 15 innings in his last two starts, striking out 21. So he’s been pitching pretty well, too, if you’re in the mood to stay up late.

Not just that, but I don’t much care for the look in Anderson Hernandez’s eyes either

Earlier this week I mentioned the Marlins infield and the astonishing 29 home runs they got from four different infielders. Between all the hype given to Utley and Howard and Reyes and Wright, you might think the Mets or the Phillies have the best infield in the division. But, in 2008 at least, they didn’t. Arguably, the Marlins didn’t either.

If you look at the players from each team who got the most at-bats at each of the four infield positions in 2008, add up what they did and compare the total OPS for the five NL East teams, here’s how things look:

The Braves:











































The Marlins:













































The Mets:









































The Phillies:













































And the Nats:





































The Marlins gave a higher percentage of their defensive innings at the four infield positions to the players listed above than the Braves did. So if you compare what all players did while playing defensively at each of the infield positions (and not just the player who appeared their the most often), the Marlins wound up with a better OPS for the season:










All 1B








All 2B








All 3B








All SS

























All 1B








All 2B








All 3B








All SS














If you’re wondering how Kelly Johnson can hit 12 home runs and the Braves’ second basemen combine to hit 11, it’s because Johnson hit one as a pinch-hitter and all other players who played second base for Atlanta in ’08 combined to hit zero.

Eric Hinske recalls facing Brad Lidge with the World Series on the line in this article. The same article also suggests that Mike Zagurski could be ready to join a minor league team in mid-April and Scott Mathieson around mid-August.

Pat the Bat will take the bus to face the Phils on Saturday.

The Phils played their first spring training game yesterday and got bombed by the Pirates, 8-2. Joe Bisenius and Scott Nestor combined to pitch two innings and allow seven runs, three of which came on a three-run homer by Shelby Ford off of Bisenius with two outs in the fourth. Mike Koplove is a guy fans should be watching — he struck out two in a perfect eighth. I think Koplove is a long shot to make the team out of spring training, but one scenario where it would be possible is if Park won the fifth starter job and Koplove took Park’s spot in the pen.

Offensively, Jeremy Slayden went 2-for-2 with a double, which was the only extra-base hit of the game for the Phils. If he was right-handed people would be getting rightfully geeked up. He’s not. Ibanez 1-for-2 with an RBI. Marcus Giles 0-for-2 and struck out twice. Jenkins was 1-for-1 with a walk — if you’re looking for places the Phillies can get better in 2009, one is by getting more offense out of Jenkins.

The Phils play Toronto today. JA Happ and Carlos Carrasco are among the Phillies scheduled to pitch.

Jason Donald will play third in today’s game, according to Todd Zolecki’s blog. If Utley is healthy, I think the Phillies would have to believe Donald can play third base for him to have much of a chance to make the opening day roster.

Ad: TicketCity has Phillies tickets for spring training and regular season games.

Phils unveil a whole new dimension to their problems at third base

A lot of things are going to have to go wrong a lot of days in a row to keep the Phillies out of the playoffs. That probably won’t happen, but Phillies fans would sure feel a lot better if a lot of things hadn’t gone wrong last night. With a loss to the Braves and wins by the Mets and Brewers, the Phils hold on a playoff spot is suddenly a little less secure than it was a day ago.

But much in the same way that the Phillies haven’t won anything yet, they certainly haven’t lost anything yet either. They have four games to play and lead their division by a game and a half. Despite a tough game and some mistakes last night, they’re playing fantastic baseball. They’ve won ten of their last 12.

Last night they made two big mistakes and didn’t hit well enough to overcome them. Both of the mistakes came at third base. In the third inning, Kelly Johnson left too early trying to steal third. Hamels would have had him easily, but threw the ball away and Johnson came in to score on the error. Burrell made a big base-running mistake in the sixth that probably cost the Phils a run. With the Phils down 3-2 and Burrell on second, Victorino hit a ground ball to short. Burrell took off for third with the ball in front of him and was tagged out after a short rundown.

Not to be lost in last night’s frustrations is that the Phillies pitched very well. Hamels was good and the bullpen was fantastic. The 24-year-old Hamels has now thrown 227 1/3 innings on the season and the one thing I can assure you of is that the Phillies are going to pay that bill sooner or later. Not last night, though. He was good, just like he’s been just about all of the second half. Chad Durbin, who is also critical to the Phils, also got four outs without allowing a base-runner.

The Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves last night, losing 3-2 to drop to 89-69 on the season. They are in first place in the NL East and lead the Mets by 1 1/2 games. The Mets lead the Brewers by one game for the Wild Card. The Phillies have four games left to play, the Mets and Brewers each have five.

Cole Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing three runs on eight 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 seven.

Opponents are now hitting .274 against him in September, which is somewhat alarming in the context of his numbers over his career (it’s higher, you see). Hamels has thrown to a 2.84 ERA in his five starts this month.

Martin Prado doubled with one out in the first. Kelly Johnson was next and blooped a 2-2 pitch into center for a single. Prado scored without a throw to put the Braves up 1-0. Johnson stole second before Hamels walked Brian McCann to put men on first and second. Omar Infante popped to first for the second out. Hamels struck out Jeff Francoeur to end the frame.

Casey Kotchman started the second with a single with the game tied at 1-1. Brent Lillibridge struck out for the first out before the pitcher Mike Hampton bunted Kotchman to second. Josh Anderson was next and dribbled a ball out in front of the plate for an infield single that sent Kotchman to third, but Hamels got Prado to fly to right for the third out.

Johnson started the third with an infield single that took a bad hop on Howard. McCann flew to center for the first out before Infante singled to center, moving Johnson to second. Kotchman was next and Hamels had Johnson when Johnson took off for third too early, but threw the ball away. Johnson scored to make it 2-1 and Infante went to third. Hamels struck out Kotchman to leave Infante stranded.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 fourth and a 1-2-3 fifth.

With two outs in the sixth, Kotchman pounded the first pitch of his at-bat out to right to put the Braves up 3-1. Lillibridge popped to second for the third out.

Ruben Gotay hit for Hampton to start the seventh and singled, but Hamels got the next three in order to leave him stranded. Rollins made a nice play for the first out of the inning — Anderson broke his bat and blooped a ball behind the mound, but Rollins made a nice play to get him at first and changed the inning.

Eyre started the eighth with the Phils down 3-2 and got McCann to ground to second for the first out. Durbin came in to pitch to the righty Infante and got him on a ground ball to third. Francoeur popped to short for the third out.

Durbin returned for the ninth and got the first two before switch-hitter Greg Norton hit for the pitcher Jeff Bennett. Romero came in to pitch to Norton and struck him out swinging to end the frame.

Two perfect innings for the pen. It was especially nice to see Durbin pitch well. He dropped his ERA for the month to 7.94 with a scoreless 1 1/3 innings. Durbin threw 12 pitches in the game, Eyre and Romero were both under five. The pen needed just 20 pitches to throw two perfect innings.

With the day off tomorrow, Manuel may have everyone in his pen available for tonight’s game.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Mike Hampton went (1) Rollins (2) Utley (3) Werth (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Feliz at third against the lefty. Ruiz catches.

Utley singled with one out in the first and the Phils down 1-0. Werth hit into a double-play behind him.

Howard started the second with a single and Burrell walked behind him. Victorino was next and he hit into a double-play with Howard moving to third with two down. Feliz was next and lined a 1-0 pitch into right to score Howard and tie the game at 1-1. Ruiz grounded to second for the third out.

Utley doubled with two outs in the third. Werth was next and hit a ball to second that Johnson didn’t handle for an error that moved Utley to third. Howard walked to load the bases, but Burrell popped to third to leave the bases loaded.

Ruiz walked with two outs in the fourth. Hamels struck out to end the inning.

1-2-3 in the fifth.

Down 3-1 in the sixth, Howard led off and tripled into the right field corner. Burrell was next and blasted a double off the wall in center. Howard scored and it was 3-2. Victorino was next and hit a ground ball to short. Miserable base-running by Burrell got him caught as he took off for third and tagged out for the second out. Victorino was caught stealing for the second out before Feliz grounded to third to end the inning.

Yuck. The Phils gave away two outs on the bases in the inning.

The Phils went 1-2-3 in the seventh. Coste hit for Hamels and flew to right for the second out.

Howard walked with two outs in the eighth. Burrell grounded to third to end the inning.

Feliz walked with one out in the ninth. Golson ran for him at first. With the lefty Mike Gonzalez on the mound, Ruiz hit for himself and hit into a double-play to end the game.

It’s tough to watch Ruiz hit in that situation. Righties on the bench for the Phils were Bruntlett, Cevernak, Iguchi, Taguchi and Marson. My initial reaction was that the Phils should have hit Iguchi and let Marson catch the tenth if it happened. I would have done it, just because I think Iguchi is a good hitter and Ruiz is a bad hitter, but the numbers don’t really support that. Iguchi is hitting a miserable 169/256/221 against lefties this season. Ruiz 215/354/338.

It does illustrate a flaw in the Phillies roster — they need to have a better right-handed hitter available to them late in the game. Especially in games when Coste starts behind the plate.

Rollins was 0-for-4.

Utley 2-for-4 with a double. He’s 4-for-his-last-10 with two doubles and a homer.

Werth 0-for-4 with a strikeout. 2-for-his-last-22 with two singles. The Phillies are going to have to do something about Werth, but probably not tonight with a lefty on the mound.

Howard was 2-for-2 with a triple and two walks.

Burrell 1-for-3 with a double, a walk and four men left on base. Big mistake on the bases.

Victorino 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a caught stealing.

Feliz 1-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Big two-out hit in the second.

Ruiz 0-for-3 with a walk.

Brett Myers (10-12, 4.46) faces lefty Jo-Jo Reyes (3-11, 5.74) tonight. Over his last two starts, Reyes has gone 5 1/3 innings and allowed nine runs on 12 hits (including four homers) and two walks. He has a 9.00 ERA since the All-Star break. Righties are hitting .315 against him for the season. Myers got bombed on Friday against the Marlins, allowing ten run in four innings in just about his only bad start in an otherwise excellent second half of the season. He has a 2.77 ERA with a 1.09 ratio in 13 starts at home this season. In his 16 starts away from Citizens Bank Park he’s thrown to a 6.21 ERA with a 1.61 ratio.

Big game tonight for the Phils. A loss would make things interesting in a way you’re not really looking for.

Phillies doing everything they can to bring excitement back to the popup

Two games, two times a popup did its best to steal the show.

A day after Jimmy Rollins took an early seat after not running his popup out, the Phils were down to their last out in the ninth last night when Chris Coste popped a ball into shallow right. Atlanta second baseman Kelly Johnson lined it up but simply failed to catch it. The Phillies tied the game and won it in the tenth.

The dropped popup might have given the Phillies another chance to win the game, but it was Shane Victorino who capitalized on it. Victorino drove in a run in the top of the tenth with his second triple of the game to put the Phillies up. With the Phillies up 4-2 with outs in the bottom of the tenth, Yunel Escobar lined a single into center and Victorino made an amazing throw to the plate to nail the trail runner and end the game.

The Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves last night, winning 4-3 in ten innings to improve to 37-26 on the season. They are 11 games over .500 for the first time this year.

Jamie Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, a double, a triple and a home run. He struck out four.

Over the last four games, Phillies’ starters have allowed four earned runs in 28 1/3 innings (1.27 ERA).

Chipper Jones singled to right to start the first with the Phils up 1-0, but Moyer struck Teixeira out to end the inning. Teixeira didn’t like the call, but the pitch looked pretty good to me.

Brian McCann walked with one out in the second. Omar Infante was next and hit a ground ball to second. Probably would have been a double-play, but Utley bobbled briefly and the Phils had to settle for forcing McCann at second. Gregor Blanco grounded to short for the third out.

Kelly Johnson walked with two outs in the third and Jones followed with a ground-rule double down the right field line. Moyer walked Teixeira to load the bases, but Jeff Francoeur hit a 2-2 pitch into center that Victorino took for the third out.

Moyer hit McCann to start the fourth but got the next three behind him.

He threw a 1-2-3 fifth.

Teixeira started the sixth with a ball hit hard and off the glove of Rollins for a single Francoeur tried to bunt and then popped to Rollins in shallow left-center for the first out. McCann was next he hit a 3-2 pitch out to right, putting the Braves up 3-2. Infante was next and hit a ball that landed on the track in left for a triple. With the lefty Blanco at the plate, Manuel brought Durbin in to pitch to him. Blanco got ahead 2-0 and the Braves put the squeeze on. The pitch was outside, but Blanco got his bat on it. The ball died right in front of the plate and Coste chased Infante back to third and tossed to Feliz who tagged him out. The pitcher Hudson hit for himself and flew to center for the third out.

Manuel must have been pretty sure Moyer was done to bring in the righty Durbin to pitch to the lefty Blanco. Worked.

Durbin returned to start the seventh and walked Yunel Escobar to start the inning. Romero came in to pitch to the lefty Kelly Johnson and Johnson bunted Escobar to second. Chipper was walked intentionally and Teixeira hit by a pitch, loading the bases for Francoeur. Francoeur hit a 1-2 pitch that Burrell took in shallow left. Escobar tried to score, but Burrell threw him out by a lot for the third out.

Madson started the eighth. Blanco singled with two outs and pitcher Will Ohman hit for himself and drew a walk. The 0-1 pitch to Escobar got away from Coste and the runners tried to move up, but Coste picked up the ball and threw Ohman out at second for the third out.

The Braves obviously wanted the lefty Ohman to pitch to Howard, but letting him hit there is just a gift to the Phillies. Madson walked him. That’s terrible.

Gordon started the ninth with the game tied at 2-2. Johnson ripped a double into the right field corner with one out and Gordon walked Chipper intentionally. Teixeira struck out swinging for the second out. Francoeur got ahead 3-1 but popped to first for the third out.

Lidge started the tenth with the Phils up 4-2. Josh Anderson singled with one out and Blanco followed and bunted for a single with Anderson moving to third. Blanco stole second, putting the winning run on second, before Lidge struck Greg Norton out on three pitches for the second out. Escobar lined an 0-1 pitch into center that Victorino charged. Anderson scored, but Victorino’s throw to the plate was a strike in the air. Coste applied the sweep tag just as Blanco arrived. Blanco was out and the game was over. Just an amazing throw by Victorino. Strong and accurate.

The Phils stole that one. One run in 4 2/3 innings for the bullpen. Gordon threw 23 pitches and Madson 22. Romero, Seanez, Durbin and Lidge all threw 13 or fewer.

The Phillies’ lineup against righty Tim Hudson went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Jenkins (7) Feliz (8) Coste. Jenkins in right against the righty. Coste continues to see his time against right-handed pitchers expand. Rollins back in the lineup after taking an early seat on Thursday.

Victorino tripled with one out in the first. The Braves played the infield back and Utley grounded out to second. Victorino scored to put the Phils up 1-0. Howard flew to center for the third out.

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

Coste singled to start the third and Moyer bunted him to second. Moyer has been great at getting his bunts down lately. Rollins walked to put men on first and second, but Victorino lined to first and Utley grounded to first for the third out.

Howard started the fourth with a single but Burrell struck out and Jenkins hit into a double-play.

Second straight inning the Phils had their leadoff man on base but couldn’t score.

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

Victorino walked with one out in the sixth. Utley flew out for the second out. Victorino took off for second on the first pitch of Howard’s at-bat, but the Braves pitched out and McCann threw him out on close play at second. Victorino didn’t like the call, but he looked out to me.

Burrell singled with one out in the seventh. Jenkins followed and he hit a ball the opposite way down the left field line for a double. Burrell went to third. Feliz was walked to load the bases, but Coste hit into a double play.

Victorino walked with two outs in the eighth, but lefty Will Ohman came in and got Utley to ground to second for the third out.

Ohman struck Howard out swinging to start the ninth. Righty Blaine Boyer got Burrell on a ground ball to short and stayed in to pitch to Jenkins and walked him on four pitches. Bruntlett ran for Jenkins at first and stole second without a throw as the count went 1-1 on Feliz. Feliz got a great pitch to hit 3-2 but fouled it off before he drew a walk. It brought up Coste with men on first and second. Coste hit a high popup behind first base. Johnson had it lined up, but the ball went off the heel of his glove for an error. Bruntlett scored to tie the game at 2-2 and Feliz tried to score too, but was thrown out at the plate for the third out.

Just a miserable error by Johnson. Jenkins gets on base and Bruntlett scores the tying run because the Braves pitch around Jenkins rather than bring a lefty in to pitch to him. The Braves presumably were trying to avoid using lefty Royce Ring because he had thrown two straight days.

Snelling hit for Gordon to start the tenth and doubled to right-center. Taguchi ran for Snelling at second and Rollins bunted him to third. Victorino hit a ball over the head of Francoeur in right and Taguchi scored to put the Phils up 3-2. Royce Ring did come in to the game at that point, but Utley hammered a 1-2 pitch into the right field corner and Victorino scored. 4-2. Howard flew to left for the second out and righty Buddy Carlyle came in and walked Burrell intentionally. Bruntlett popped to first for the third out.

Rollins was 0-for-3 with a walk.

Victorino 2-for-3 with two triples, two walks and an RBI.

Utley 1-for-5 with a double and two RBI.

Howard 1-for-5.

Burrell 1-for-4 with a walk.

Jenkins 1-for-3 with a double and a walk.

Feliz 0-for-2 with two walks.

Coste 1-for-4.

Kyle Kendrick (5-2, 5.00) faces lefty Jo-Jo Reyes (2-3, 4.78) tonight. Reyes has made seven starts for the Braves and struck out 34 in 37 2/3 innings. He’s allowed just four home runs on the year, but opponents are hitting .279 against him. He started against the Phils on May 13 and was hit hard, allowing five runs on 11 hits over 6 2/3 innings after the Braves put him up 3-0 in the top of the first. The Phils have won eight of the last nine games that Kendrick has started. He gave up two home runs in his last start, which was against the Reds on Monday, but they are the only two he has allowed in his last 24 2/3 innings. He started against Reyes in the May 13 game.

Ready, set, Brave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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