Tag: offense

Blame it on the wane

Everything was great early for the Phils last night. Jimmy Rollins returned to the starting lineup and blasted a three-run homer in the second and Kendrick went three shutout innings to start the game. Then it rained and when the game resumed, the Phillies did not.

Up 3-0 at the delay, the offense didn’t manage a run or an extra-base hit in the last 8 2/3 innings of the game. They had four singles. The Phils are now tenth in the NL in runs scored per game. They’re still ahead of the Pirates, but not by a whole lot (3.95 for the Phils and 3.90 for Pittsburgh). The Phils have lost six of their last nine and scored more than three runs in just one of those games.

Madson, scuffling of late and pitching for the fourth time in five days, entered the game in the ninth to protect a 3-2 lead and gave up a game-tying homer. He nearly gave up another homer to the next hitter, which would have given the Cubs the lead, but that call was reversed on a fan interference call and Tyler Colvin had to settle for a double. Herndon allowed an unearned run in the eleventh to put the Cubs ahead to stay at 4-3.

The defense was rather miserable for the Phils. Up 3-0 in the sixth, Starlin Castro lined a single to right and Darwin Barney stormed home trying to score from second. Brown’s throw from left was in time, but Sardinha didn’t handle it cleanly and the run scored. In the eleventh, Colvin led off with a single and moved to second on a passed ball, which allowed him to score on a throwing error by Polanco and put the Cubs ahead to stay.

The Phillies are 37-26 on the year after falling 4-3 to the Cubs last night.

Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went three shutout innings before being forced from the game by a long delay. He allowed two singles and two walks and struck out two.

He threw a 1-2-3 first. Kosuke Fukudome flew to center for the first out. Kendrick struck Darwin Barney out looking 2-2 for the second. Starlin Castro flew to center for the third.

Carlos Pena led off the second and grounded to first for the first out. Aramis Ramirez was next and singled to left, but was thrown out, Ibanez to Rollins to Utley, going for second. Blake DeWitt flew to left for the third out.

The Phils were up 3-0 when Kendrick started the third. Geovany Soto struck out looking for the first out and Tyler Colvin grounded to second for the second. Pitcher Randy Wells singled to right, but was left stranded when Fukudome grounded to second to end the frame.

A delay of about an hour and twenty minutes forced Kendrick from the game after the third. Baez started the fourth. He walked Castro with one out, but got Pena on a fly ball to left behind him for the second out. Castro stole second before Ramirez grounded to short for the third out.

Baez threw a 1-2-3 fifth.

He got the first two batters in the sixth before hitting Barney with a pitch. Barney stole second before Castro lined a single to left. Barney rounded third and Brown made a strong throw home that would have been in time to get Barney, but Sardinha didn’t handle the throw on the hop and Barney was safe. 3-1. Romero came in to pitch to Pena and Pena fouled out to Sardinha for the third out.

Nice throw by Brown — it would have been nice to get an out there.

Stutes started the seventh and got the first two before Soto doubled to left. Stutes walked Colvin on a 3-2 pitch, putting men on first and second with two down. Lefty Brad Snyder hit for pitcher James Russell and Manuel called on Bastardo to pitch to him. Righty Lou Montanez hit for Snyder and Bastardo got him to foul out to Polanco in foul territory to leave both runners stranded.

Bastardo got the lefty Fukudome to start the eighth and then Contreras came in to pitch to the righty Barney. Barney grounded to short for the second out, but Castro and Pena followed that with back-to-back doubles, with Pena’s plating Castro to cut the lead to 3-2. Ramirez grounded to short for the third out.

Contreras was not charged with a run in any of his first 12 appearances of the year, but has allowed a run in each of his last two.

Madson started the ninth and got DeWitt on a ground ball to second for the first out. Soto was next and he hit a 2-2 pitch out to left-center, tying the game at 3-3. Colvin was next and lined an 0-1 pitch out to right for what was originally ruled a home run. Umpires review the play and changed the call to a double, ruling that a fan had reached out and interfered with the ball. So Colvin was on second with one out and the game tied. Righty DJ LeMahieu hit for the pitcher John Grabow and struck out swinging 2-2. Madson walked the lefty Fukudome intentionally and then got Barney on a ground ball to short to leave both runners stranded.

Madson continues to scuffle. Last night he was pitching for the second day in a row and fourth time in five days. In his last nine appearances he’s thrown to a 6.00 ERA and allowed at least one run four times.

Herndon pitched the tenth. Pena and Ramirez singled back-to-back with one out, putting men on first and second for DeWitt. DeWitt grounded to Utley with Ramirez forced at second and runners safe on the corners. Herndon struck Soto out looking to leave both men stranded.

Colvin led off the eleventh with a single off of Herndon. Pitcher Ryan Dempster hit for pitcher Sean Marshall and Colvin took second on a passed ball by Ruiz, who had taken over Sardinha, before Dempster struck out fouling off a bunt attempt. Fukudome was next and Herndon struck him out, too. It brought Barney to the plate and he chopped a ground ball to third. Polanco fielded, but his throw to first was in the dirt and not handled cleanly by Howard. The ball went off of Howard’s body and right in front of him, but Colvin rounded third and stormed home to score and put the Cubs up 4-3. Polanco was charged with an error. Castro grounded to third for the third out.

Herndon’s having an ugly year, but you can’t blame that one on him. Cubs need the passed ball by Ruiz and the error by Polanco to score the go-ahead run.

The bullpen wasn’t awful at all, allowing four runs in eight innings, only three of which were earned. Herndon threw 43 pitches and Baez 41, so don’t expect them tonight. Madson 19, Contreras 12, Bastardo ten and Romero two.

Madson has pitched two days in a row.

The Phillies lineup against righty Randy Wells went (1) Rollins (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Victorino (6) Ibanez (7) Brown (8) Sardinha. Rollins returns to the lineup and the leadoff spot. Victorino hits fifth behind Howard, with back-to-back lefties in Ibanez and Brown behind him. Third start of the year for Victorino hitting third. Sardinha catches with Ruiz on the bench on a very hot night after another very hot night.

Polanco reached on an error by the pitcher Wells with one out in the bottom of the third and moved to second when Utley followed with a single to right. Howard and Victorino both flew to left to leave the runners stranded.

Ibanez started the bottom of the second with a single to center, but Brown fouled out to the second baseman Barney behind him. Sardinha walked and Kendrick struck out trying to bunt the runners up to second and third. It didn’t matter, though, cause Rollins was next and he hit a 3-2 pitch out to right, putting the Phils up 3-0. Polanco flew to right for the third out.

Utley flew to right for the first out in the third. With the count 3-0 on Howard, the game was delayed due to ominous winds and impending storms. Righty Rodrigo Lopez was on the hill for Chicago when the game resumed about an hour and twenty minutes later. Howard walked and moved to second on a single by Victorino before Ibanez flew to center for the second out. Brown drew a walk to load the bases for Sardinha. Sardinha hit a ground ball in the hole between short and third, but Ramirez made a diving play to field the ball and threw to first to end the inning.

Great play by Ramirez at a huge time for the Cubs.

Polanco singled on a ball deflected by Ramirez with two outs in the fourth. Utley grounded to second for the third out.

The Phils went in order in the fifth.

With the lead cut to 3-1, the went in order in the sixth. Martinez hit for Romero and flew to center for the third out.

Utley walked with two outs in the seventh. He took second on a balk before Howard walked. Victorino struck out swinging to leave both runners stranded.

Up 3-2, the Phils went in order in the eighth. Francisco hit for Sardinha against lefty John Grabow and flew to center for the third out.

The game was tied when they hit in the ninth. Ruiz, Rollins and Polanco went in order. Rollins absolutely smashed his ball, which was a line drive that pitcher Sean Marshall speared.

Utley and Howard struck out to start the tenth before Victorino walked. Ibanez moved Victorino to third with a single and Brown was walked intentionally to load the bases. Herndon was the last reliever, so with Gload and Valdez still available, he hit for himself and looked bad striking out to leave the bases loaded.

Romero faced one batter in the game. Bastardo two.

The Phils were losing 4-3 when they hit in the eleventh. Ruiz led off with a single. Rollins flew to right, Polanco flew to right and Utley flew to left.

I’m fine with not bunting with Rollins after the leadoff single. Manuel says he didn’t bunt because Herndon had already thrown 43 pitches as the last reliever available and he thought he needed to try to win, not tie, the game.

Rollins was 1-for-6 with a three-run homer. He’s on-basing .289 over his last 83 plate appearances.

Polanco 1-for-6 with a huge error. He’s slugging .280 in his 138 plate appearances since May 7.

Utley 1-for-5 with a walk. He only has 67 plate appearances for the year, but has walked in 13.4% of them, which is a career high. On the down side, he has gotten an extra-base hit in 4.5% of his early plate appearances, which is a low mark and way below the 10.1% rate for his career.

Howard 0-for-3 with two walks. He’s 1-for-his-last-11.

Victorino 1-for-4 with a walk. 185/333/259 in 33 plate appearances since returning from the DL.

Ibanez 2-for-5. 233/273/300 in June through eight games.

Brown 0-for-3 with two walks and a strikeout. 0-for-his-last-10 and 4-for-his-last-27.

Sardinha 0-for-2 with a walk. Ramirez made a great play to take what would have been a huge hit away from him with the bases loaded in the third. He’s on-basing .436 for the season, but hitting just .241 and slugging just .276 through 39 plate appearances.

Halladay (8-3, 2.56) faces righty Carlos Zambrano (5-2, 3.98) tonight. Zambrano has made three good starts in a row, throwing to a 1.29 ERA in his last three outings with a 1.05 ratio. Halladay has thrown at least 101 pitches in each of his 13 starts on the season. He leads the NL in pitches thrown and nobody besides Lincecum is close. Opponents hit .220 against him in his first eight starts, but have hit .287 against him over his last five.

And not just that but I think they have a problem in their bullpen

You may have noticed already, but the Phillies aren’t playing that well these days. Compared to anyone. They particularly aren’t playing well compared to some of the other National League teams they could face in the playoffs. Here’s a look at the records for five potential playoff teams in September as well as their runs scored and allowed per game for games this month and the difference between the two:

  W L Runs per
per game
PHI 15 13 4.39 4.18 0.21
STL 13 11 4.63 3.63 1.00
LAD 15 10 5.24 3.80 1.44
COL 16 9 4.68 4.28 0.40
ATL 17 8 4.88 3.48 1.40

Not to be forgotten is that the Phillies had a magnificent run in September between September 8 to September 22 that gave them the lead that’s now shrinking. In that stretch they played 14 games and went 11-3. They scored 5.57 runs per game in that stretch and allowed 3.57 runs per game. In the 14 games in September that weren’t in the 9/8 to 9/22 run they have been miserable, scoring 3.21 runs per game while allowing 4.57.

This says that Carlos Ruiz could be back in the lineup tonight.

Pedro may start on Thursday.

In the article linked above, Rich Dubee mentions Happ, Blanton and Pedro among the guys who could finish a game for the Phillies. Sounds good to me. Jamie Moyer has a 2.08 ERA and an 0.69 ratio in 17 1/3 innings in relief this season.

Order reform

Not counting last night’s game, the Phillies were on pace to score 890 runs this season a year after being tied for second in the NL with 799 runs scored. The Phillies have had the best offense in the league so far this season — they are second in the NL in runs scored but trail only the Dodgers who have played four more games than they have.

Not only has the rate at which the team scores runs been changing, but the positions in the batting order that are scoring the runs is also changing. Here’s how many runs each of the positions in the batting order have scored this season, the pace that each of the spots in the order is on pace to score this season, the percent of the team’s runs that accounts for and the runs scored and percentages for last year:

  2009 2009 on
% of runs 2008
% of runs
1 33 97 10.9 106 13.3
2 43 127 14.2 119 14.9
3 46 135 15.2 108 13.5
4 37 109 12.3 106 13.3
5 46 135 15.2 93 11.6
6 30 88 9.9 78 9.8
7 25 74 8.3 67 8.4
8 18 53 6.0 75 9.4
9 24 71 7.9 47 5.9
Total 302 890 100 799 100

The Phillies are on pace to score 91 more runs than they did in 2008. Of the nine positions in the batting order, five are accounting for a lesser percentage of the runs that the scored last season. Just four spots, three, five, six and nine, are accounting for a higher percentage.

The sixth spot in the order is up, but just by a tiny bit. The consistency in the percentage of the team’s runs scored by that position has been surprising. In 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009, the number six hitters in the Phillies lineup have scored either 9.8% or 9.9% of the Phillies runs every season.

Surprising to me was that the nine hitters are scoring a higher percentage of the runs this season. That may have more to do with what the non-pitchers are doing in the nine-hole than the pitchers. Not including last night’s games, the non-pitchers hitting in the nine-hole had gone 25-for-87 (.287) with five home runs and 17 RBI on the year. In 2008, non-pitchers hitting in the nine-hole went 58-for-233 (.222) with six home runs and 36 RBI for the season.

The middle of the order is where the Phillies are seeing the biggest increases in terms of their runs scored. Despite the fact that the team overall is on a pace to score nearly a hundred more runs than they did last year, the top two hitters are on pace to score fewer runs than they did in ’08. In 2008 the top two hitters in the lineup scored 225 runs — through the first 55 games they are on pace to score 224 in ’09.

The fifth spot in the order is the place where the Phillies have seen the most dramatic increase in the number of runs scored. They are on a pace to have their five-hitters score 42 more runs than they did in ’08. Werth and Ibanez have both been good hitting fifth for the Phils this year, but a big factor in the increase in the runs scored also has to be the improvements with the bats by Feliz and Ruiz. Feliz and Ruiz have combined to drive in 42 runs in 331 plate appearances this season. In ’08 they combined to drive in 89 in 836 plate appearances. At the rate they are driving in runs in ’09 they would knock in 106 if they got 836 plate appearances.

The MLB Network’s The Pen, a reality show featuring members of the Phillies bullpen, will debut on Sunday.

Raul Ibanez insists he did not use steroids. And you know what? I believe him. I’m pretty sure a whole lot of people do. I’m also sure that the culture of guilty-until-proven-innocent must be nearly impossible for players who haven’t used performance enhancing drugs to deal with these days. He goes to the parent’s basement card a little early, though. He definitely solved all the problems one can solve by calling the person you have an issue with a coward and an idiot. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t any blogger in any basement anywhere that created the culture of suspicion that he and everyone else in baseball has to live with now — it was so many baseball players using steroids and lying about it to so many people under so many different circumstances.

Better late than ever

With all these Phils hitting relief pitching so well, you would probably guess that the team overall has impressive numbers in the late innings. And they do.

Here’s what the Phillies did last year in the seventh inning or earlier and after the eighth inning:

Innings 1 thru
4924 .259 .332 .446 .778
8th inning and
1349 .243 .334 .408 .742
Total 6273 .255 .332 .438 .770

Their offensive numbers from the eighth inning on are pretty similar to their numbers in innings one through seven.

Here’s what they look like for this season, not including last night’s game:

Innings 1 thru
1137 .250 .337 .426 .764
8th inning and
331 .295 .374 .530 .904
Total 1468 .260 .346 .450 .795

Not very similar. The Phils have been fantastic in the late innings, and it has helped them win games early in the season. While it’s great they’ve been pounding the ball late, the problem is that at the end of the season their OPS after the seventh inning is going to be a lot closer to .764 than it is to .904. There’s a good chance the whole team won’t slug .530 after the seventh inning all season long. So let’s hope the Phils have a solution to their starting pitching woes, because while all the late lumber is pretty fun to watch it’s not exactly an ideal formula for long-term success.

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Look! Closer!

Still on the theme of differences between the 2007 and 2008 teams. One of the differences is that the combination of scoring many fewer runs while hugely improving the bullpen meant that, based on the average number of runs they scored and allowed in wins and losses, the Phils were playing in closer games in 2008 than they were the year before.

Here’s the number of runs that each of the teams scored in the games that they won and the games that they lost:

Runs scored in wins
Year W R R/G
2007 89 645 7.24
2008 92 587 6.38
Runs scored in losses
Year L R R/G
2007 73 247 3.38
2008 70 212 3.03

And here’s the differences in the runs they allowed in games they won and lost:

Runs allowed in wins
Year W RA RA/G
2007 89 304 3.42
2008 92 274 2.98
Runs allowed in losses
Year L RA RA/G
2007 73 517 7.08
2008 70 406 5.80

In 2008, the won 92 games and in those games they scored 587 runs and allowed 274 runs. In the 89 games they won in 2007, they scored 58 more runs but allowed 30 more as well.

Not only did the Phillies improvements at preventing runs help them to win more games with fewer runs, it also meant that, going by the average number of runs they scored and allowed, they played in closer games in 2008 than in 2007. Comparing the average number of runs they scored and allowed in wins and losses, when they lost they lost by less by almost a full run:

In losses

Year AVG Runs
AVG Runs
2007 3.38 7.08 3.70
2008 3.03 5.80 2.77

And when the won in 2007, going by the average number of runs, they won by more:

In wins

Year AVG Runs
AVG Runs
2007 7.24 3.42 3.82
2008 6.38 2.98 3.40

Todd Zolecki, now writing for MLB.com, reviews the Phillies options as they search for a right-handed hitter now that Ty Wigginton has signed with Baltimore. Options two and three are pretty bad — the Phils could really use a right-handed hitter.

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