The Phillies needed three fantastic performances from their starting pitchers to get past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NLDS. After Hamels and Myers dazzled in games one and two, game four it was up to Blanton to pitch the Phillies into the NLCS and he delivered. Blanton took a 5-0 lead into the seventh inning before he gave up a solo home run to Prince Fielder this afternoon. It was the only extra-base hit he allowed. He didn’t walk a hitter and struck out seven.
Fielder’s home run was the only extra-base hit for the Brewers in the last two games of the series.
If Joe Blanton pitched the Phils into the NLCS, there’s little question who hit them into it. Pat Burrell sprung out of a mini-slump today, delivering a huge three-run homer in the top of the third inning that put the Phils up to stay at 4-0. He added a solo shot in the top of the eighth.
Burrell’s blasts were much-needed for a Phillies offense that largely had to get it done without Utley and Howard. The dynamic duo of lefties that makes up the three-four punch of the Phillies order combined to go just 4-for-26 in the series. Compounding the problem for the Phils, at the bottom of the order, Feliz and Ruiz combined to go 4-for-27. Between them, that’s half the lineup. The Phillies had to make do, and they did. Burrell had two big blasts in game four, Werth put together some timely contributions and Victorino gave them a grand slam in game two.
Thanks to Blanton and his cohorts in the rotation, that was enough.
The Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers this afternoon, winning 6-2. With the win they take the best-of-five series three games to one. They will play the Dodgers in the NLCS. Game one is Thursday.
Joe Blanton got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing a run on five hits. One of the hits he allowed went for extra-bases, a home run. He struck out seven and didn’t walk a batter.
He faced a Milwaukee lineup that went (1) Cameron (CF/R) (2) Durham (2B/S) (3) Braun (LF/R) (4) Fielder (1B/L) (5) Hardy (SS/R) (6) Hart (RF/R) (7) Counsell (3B/L) (8) Kendall (C/R). That is the same lineup that Milwaukee used against Myers in game two.
There were five position players on the bench for Milwaukee to start the game: Mike Rivera (R), Tony Gwynn, Jr (L), Brad Nelson (L), Alcides Escobar (R) and Bill Hall (R). Escobar is a 21-year-old infielder with four career at-bats who took Weeks’ spot on the roster after Weeks sprained his knee trying to beat out a base hit in game three.
Blanton started the first up 1-0. He struck Cameron out looking at 2-2 fastball at the knees. Durham popped to Dobbs at third on a 3-2 pitch for the second out. He got ahead of Braun 0-2, but Braun laced a 2-2 pitch into left field for a single. Fielder worked the count full before he hit a fly ball well to the opposite field, but Burrell took it a couple of steps in front of the warning track for the third out.
Long inning for Blanton. He threw 29 pitches, which would be the most he would throw in an inning on the day.
He threw a 1-2-3 second, getting Hardy to pop a 1-1 pitch to Dobbs, Hardy to ground his first pitch to short and Counsell to pop a 2-0 pitch up to short. Seven more pitches had him at 36.
He threw a 1-2-3 third with the Phils up 5-0. Kendall worked the count full and flew to right. Sabathia hit for the pitcher Suppan and went down swinging on three pitches. Cameron flew to center on an 0-1 pitch.
Nice, quick inning against the bottom of the order for Blanton after the Phils gave him a big lead. Eleven pitches. 47 for the game.
He got two strikeouts in a 1-2-3 fourth. Durham struck out swinging at a 1-2 pitch in the dirt. Braun struck of swinging 2-2. Fielder flew to right. Sixteen pitches had him at 63.
Hardy led off the fifth and lined a single into left on a 1-1 pitch. First base-runner that Blanton had allowed since Braun’s single in the first. Blanton struck out the next two, getting Hart swinging after Hart got ahead 0-2 and Counsell on four pitches. Kendall grounded a 2-2 pitch to short for the third out. Eighteen pitches. 81.
Lefty Tony Gwynn hit for pitcher Yovani Gallardo to start the sixth and hit a 2-2 pitch into right for a single. Again Blaton got the next three men he faced. Cameron popped to second. Durham flew to right. Braun stuck out looking at a low 1-2 fastball. Eighteen more pitches put him at 99 for the game.
He still had a 5-0 lead when he started the seventh. Fielder led off and worked the count full and then blasted a monster shot way, way out to right-center. 5-1. Hardy was next and he lined an 0-1 pitch into right for a single. That was it for Blanton after 107 pitches. Manuel called on Madson to pitch to Hart. Hart grounded a 1-1 pitch to second, but not hard enough for the Phils to get two. Hart was out at first for the first out with Hardy moving to second. Counsell was next and he chopped a 1-1 pitch between first and second. Howard made a diving play to stab the ball and threw to Madson covering first for the second out as Hardy went to third. Kendall flew to right on an 0-1 pitch for the third out.
Very surprised, and pleased, to see Manuel bring in Madson and not Durbin in the seventh. Both had pitched on Saturday, with Madson throwing 13 pitches to get four outs and Durbin throwing 20 pitches to get two. But under normal circumstances I think Manuel would tend to go to Durbin in that situation. Durbin has really struggled lately, so I was thrilled to see Manuel change things up and go with Madson for more than an inning. Worked great for the Phils.
Madson returned to start the eighth with the Phils now up 6-1 and got Bill Hall, who had entered in the top of the inning as part of a double-switch, to ground an 0-2 pitch to short for the first out. Cameron was next and he singled up the middle on the first pitch of his at-bat. Cameron took second on defensive indifference before Durham grounded a 1-2 pitch to second for the second out with Cameron going to third. Braun lined a 2-2 pitch into left field for another single and Cameron scored, cutting the Phillies lead to 6-2. It brought up Fielder with two outs and a man on first and Fielder crushed a 1-1 pitch, hitting a line drive that would have been a single into right except the shift had Utley playing in shallow right. Utley speared the ball to end the inning.
I do not understand at all why Romero did not come on to pitch to Fielder. Does not make any sense to me if he is healthy. Especially after Fielder had hit it to the moon an inning earlier. Fielder got a good pitch to hit (and hit it good), so if they were pitching around him to get to the righty Hardy they didn’t do a good job of it.
Lidge started the ninth up 6-2. Hardy led of and grounded to Feliz at third for the first out. Hart was next and hit a 2-2 pitch hard to third and under the glove of Feliz and into left for a single. Lefty Brad Nelson hit for the pitcher Guillermo Mota and Lidge struck the rookie out on a 2-2 slider away for the second out. Kendall grounded a 1-2 pitch to short and the series was over.
Very muted celebration for the Phils, which was nice to see. They have accomplished a lot, but they don’t look like they think they’re done.
Madson and Lidge combined to go three innings, allowing a run on three singles. Madson threw 24 pitches, Lidge 16. They have a long time to rest before Thursday. As a group, the Phillies pen threw ten innings in the series, allowing four runs, all of them earned (3.60 ERA), on 13 hits and three walks.
The Milwaukee pen had to throw six innings in the game and was charged with one run, the homer by Burrell off of Mota. As a group they allowed one run in 17 2/3 innings in the series, clearly outpitching the Phillies pen. Notably, the Brewers used several starting pitchers in relief in the set (Gallardo, Villanueva, McClung, Parra), while the Phils stuck to their relief corps.
The Phillies lineup against righty Jeff Suppan went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Werth (7) Dobbs (8) Ruiz. Dobbs gets his first playoff start against the righty with Feliz on the bench. Ruiz continues to catch, he started all four games of the series. Ruiz was behind the plate for about 66% of the hitters that Blanton faced while with the Phillies this season.
The hitters on the bench to start the game for the Phils were Taguchi (R), Coste (R), Bruntlett (R), Feliz (R), Jenkins (L) and Stairs (L).
Rollins got ahead 3-1 to start the first. He checked his swing 3-1 on a pitch that looked inside, but Suppan got the called strike to run the count full. Rollins hit a laser out to right on the next pitch to put the Phils up 1-0. Victorino popped to short for the first out before Utley drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch low. Howard hit the first pitch of his at-bat to short, where third baseman Counsell was playing thanks to the shift, and the Brewers turned the double-play to end the frame.
Burrell got behind 1-2 to start the second before he singled down the right field line. Werth had a long at-bat, but struck out swinging at a 3-2 pitch that was outside for the first out. Dobbs followed and hit an 0-1 pitch into right-center for a single, with Burrell going to third. Dobbs took second on a wild pitch before Ruiz went down looking at a 1-2 pitch on the outside corner. Blanton struck out swinging on three pitches to end the inning.
Phils get nothing out of second and third with one out. Bad at-bat for Ruiz, who swung at bad 1-1 pitch low and away before going down looking.
Rollins flew to right on a 1-2 pitch to start the third. Victorino was next and hit a flair down the left field line that dropped. Victorino had a double. Utley grounded to second on a 1-1 pitch for the second out and Victorino went to third. Howard was walked intentionally, bringing up Burrell with two down and men on first and third. The first four pitches of Burrell’s at-bat went ball-strike-ball-strike, evening the count at 2-2. Both of the strikes were called, low and on the outside part of the plate. Burrell simply cannot hit that pitch. Don’t know if it was the single down the right field line in the first that got in his head or it was just a mistake, but Suppan threw a 2-2 pitch on the inside part of the plate and Burrell just hammered it out to left. Terrible idea (or just missed his spot) for Suppan. Burrell’s three-run shot put the Phils up 4-0. Werth was next and he hit a 1-1 pitch out to left-center. 5-0. Dobbs flew to center for the third out.
Burrell came into the game 9-for-21 (429/571/952) with three home runs in his career against Suppan. I think you have to question the intentional walk to Howard. Second time in the series that the intentional walk to Howard hurt Milwaukee. In game one it was followed by back-to-back walks that forced in a run.
Yovani Gallardo came in to pitch the fourth and set the Phils down in order. Ruiz grounded to third, Blanton struck out and Rollins grounded to second.
Gallardo threw a 1-2-3 fifth as well. Victorino grounded to first, Utley grounded to second and Howard flew to left.
Burrell flew to right on an 0-2 pitch to start the sixth. Werth was next and hit a towering popup to left on a 3-2 pitch. The ball hit a cable at the top of the stadium and was redirected back to the infield, where Counsell made an amazing diving play to record the second out. Dobbs blooped a single down the left-field line before Ruiz popped to third to set the Phillies down.
Blanton hit for himself to start the seventh with the Phillies up 5-0. He had thrown 99 pitches. He struck out swinging 2-2 for the first out. Rollins followed with a single to left, but Victorino followed and swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and hit into a double-play to end the frame.
Lefty Manny Parra struck out Utley and Howard to start the eighth. Guillermo Mota came in to pitch to Burrell with the Phils up 5-1. Mota hung an 0-2 slider to Burrell and Burrell popped that one out to left too, putting the Phils up 6-1. Werth followed and chopped an 0-2 pitch back up the middle, Hardy’s throw just nipped him at first (looked safe to me).
Feliz, who had entered to play third in the sixth, led off the ninth with a hundred-hopper into right for a single. Ruiz tried to bunt and popped it up to Fielder for the first out. Stairs hit for Madson and grounded into a double-play on a 2-1 pitch to end the frame. Again Manuel chooses Stairs over Jenkins in a hitting situation where it looks like he’s only going to get to use one of them in the game.
Rollins was 2-for-4 with a home run in the game. 6-for-16 (.375) with two doubles, a home run and a walk in the series.
Victorino was 1-for-4 with a double in the game. 5-for-14 (.357) with three doubles, three walks and a grand slam in the series. Led the team with five RBI. He also stole three bases.
Utley 0-for-3 with a walk in the game. 2-for-15 (.133) with a double, two walks and two RBI in the series.
Howard 0-for-3 with a walk in the game. 2-for-11 (.182) with a double and five walks in the series. Utley and Howard combine to go 4-for-26 (.154) with two doubles.
Burrell 3-for-4 with two home runs and four RBI in the game. 3-for-12 (.250) with two walks in the series. Was having a miserable series before today’s game, but made up for it in a big way. He struck out just once in the series.
Werth was 1-for-4 with a home run today. 5-for-16 (.313) with three doubles, a triple and a home run in the series. Didn’t draw a walk and struck out six times, which led the team.
Dobbs 2-for-3 in the game and 3-for-5 (.600) in the series. I would guess we might see him get some more starts against righties in the NLCS. Feliz was 1-for-1 today and 3-for-13 (.231) with a double and an RBI in the set.
Ruiz was 0-for-4 and left four men on base. 1-for-14 (.071) in the series. Coste did not play in the series.
Stairs was 0-for-1 today and 0-for-2 in the series. Jenkins 0-for-1 in the series. Bruntlett 1-for-1 with a single.