Not sure exactly the nature of Charlie Manuel’s problem with Shane Victorino, but whatever it is it almost cost the Phillies a game last night. With both Victorino and Jayson Werth in the starting lineup, Manuel put Victorino in right and Werth in center. That’s just a terrible decision even if it doesn’t cost you. It almost did — with two outs in the ninth, Werth misplayed Brian McCann’s fly ball into a double and gave two Braves a chance to come to the plate as the go-ahead run. If Manuel has a message for Victorino he should deliver it, but if his message is that the team is better defensively with Werth in center it’s going to be a hard one for anybody to take seriously.
One guy not to blame is Werth, who is at least an adequate if not better defensive center fielder. There are a whole lot of guys in the league that can’t play defense like Victorino. Werth more than made up for his miscue in the field with his bat last night, driving in four of the five Phillies’ runs.
The Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves last night, winning 5-4 to improve to 22-18 on the season.
Kyle Kendrick got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing three runs on six hits and four walks. All six hits were singles and he struck out two. After allowing three runs on three hits in the first, Kendrick was very good. He put up five shutout innings in a row in which he allowed just three singles and three walks. Ruiz helped him get a huge out with two men on in the sixth by picking Kelly Johnson off of second base.
In his three starts at home this season, Kendrick has allowed just three extra-base hits. Opponents are slugging .315 against him at home.
Yunel Escobar started the first with a single and went to second on a passed ball before Mark Kotsay drew a walk. Chipper Jones singled to center and Escobar scored to put the Braves up 1-0. Kotsay went to second. Brian McCann grounded to first and the runners moved to second and third with one down. Kendrick got Greg Norton on a popup to shallow center for the second out, but Jeff Francoeur followed and singled into right. Both runners scored and Atlanta led 3-0. Kelly Johnson flew to right for the third out.
Kendrick walked Gregor Blanco to start the second. The pitcher Jo-Jo Reyes tried to bunt him to second but struck out for the first out. Escobar followed with a ground ball in the hole between short and third. Rollins couldn’t handle it and Escobar was safe on the error. The Phils weren’t going to get a double-play anyway, but the possibility may have made Rollins rush. Kotsay was next and hit another ball to Rollins’ right. This time Rollins made a nice diving play to take a hit away from Kotsay, forcing Escobar at second for the second out as Blanco went to third. Chipper was walked intentionally to load the bases, but Kendrick got McCann to pop to right-center to end the frame.
Francoeur singled with one out in the third. Johnson followed and grounded to short, Francoeur was forced at second for the second out. Blanco grounded back to Kendrick for the third out.
Kendrick threw a 1-2-3 fourth.
He started the fifth down 3-2. Chipper singled to start the inning, but McCann followed and hit into a double-play. Norton grounded to short to end the frame.
Johnson singled with one out in the sixth and Blanco followed with a walk. Reyes hit for himself and took the first pitch for a strike. Ruiz threw to second and Johnson was caught in a rundown and eventually tagged out for the second out. Blanco went to second in the ugly rundown for the Phils. Reyes shattered his bat grounding back to Kendrick to end the frame. Great job by Kendrick to field the comebacker as the barrel of the bat bounced right at him.
Huge play by Ruiz behind the plate to pick off Johnson with one out and two men on base.
Romero started the seventh up 4-3 and got the first two before Chipper singled and McCann followed with a walk. Romero struck out Norton to set the Braves down.
Gordon started the eighth up 5-3. Johnson singled with one out and Blanco followed with a ground ball to second. Johnson was forced at second for the second out. Switch-hitter Ruben Gotay hit for the pitcher Jorge Camillo and struck out for the third out.
Gordon’s ERA for the season is down to 3.63. He’s allowed two runs in his last 16 innings while striking out 16.
Lidge started the ninth up 5-3. He struck out Escobar to start the inning before he walked Kotsay on four straight fastballs. It brought up Chipper as the tying run. Kotsay took second on defensive indifference before Chipper hit a 2-1 pitch deep to left. Bruntlett, seeing his first action in the outfield this season after pinch-running for Burrell in the seventh and staying in to play left, took it on the warning track for the second out. McCann was next and he hit a fly ball to center field that should have ended the game. It didn’t. Werth froze, then came in before realizing the ball was over his head. It landed behind him for a double. Kotsay scored and it was 5-4 with a man on second and two outs for Norton. Norton walked to put men on first and second for Francoeur. Lidge got ahead of him 0-2 before Francoeur hit a 1-2 pitch into right-center that Victorino took to end the game.
With an assist to the Werth misplay, Lidge had to throw 26 pitches on the night. Romero 18 and Gordon 15 coming off an off-day on Monday.
The Phillies’ lineup against lefty Jo-Jo Reyes went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Werth (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Werth started in center with Victorino in right for the Phils. To have both Victorino and Werth in your outfield and put Victorino in right and Werth in center is a poor idea. Ruiz catches. We’re going to see a lot of Werth in the series with the Braves scheduled to throw three lefties.
Victorino doubled with one out in the first and the Phils down 3-0, but Utley grounded to second and Howard struck out to end the inning.
The Phils went 1-2-3 in the second.
Rollins reached on an error by Escobar with two outs in the third, but Victorino flew to left to end the inning.
Utley singled to start the fourth and Howard followed with a blast over the head of Kotsay in center and off the base of the wall for a double that moved Utley to third. Burrell struck out looking for the first out, but Werth laced a single back through the middle and both runners scored to cut the Atlanta lead to 3-2. Feliz moved Werth to second with a single, but Ruiz grounded to second and Kendrick struck out to leave both men stranded.
With one out in the fifth, Victorino singled and stole second. Utley grounded to second for the second out and Victorino went to third. Howard singled into right and Victorino scored to tie the game at 3-3. Burrell moved Howard to second with a single before Werth singled into left. Howard scored to put the Phils up 4-3 and Burrell went to second. Feliz popped to third to end the inning.
Ruiz singled to start the sixth but the Phils went in order behind him. Taguchi hit for Kendrick and bunted into an out for the first out of the frame.
Burrell doubled to right with two outs in the seventh and Bruntlett ran for him at second. Werth blooped a single in front of a diving Blanco and Bruntlett scored to put the Phils up 5-3. Burrell might not have scored on the play even with two outs, but I would have rather seen him stay in the game anyway. Feliz grounded to second for the third out.
Rollins doubled with two outs in the eighth. Victorino grounded to second behind him.
Rollins was 1-for-5 with a double. He’s 1-for-his-last-14.
Victorino 2-for-5 with a double and stole his sixth base of the season. 3-for-his-last-18.
Utley was 1-for-4.
Howard 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI.
Burrell 2-for-4 with a double.
Werth was 3-for-4 with four RBI.
Brett Myers (2-3, 5.56) faces lefty Tom Glavine (0-1, 4.03) tonight. Glavine has made six starts on the year and allowed two runs or fewer in five of them. The Reds hit him hard on May 4 and he was charged with six runs in 4 2/3 innings. In his other five starts on the season he’s thrown to a 2.59 ERA. Lefties are hitting .360 against him on the season and have hit two of the three home runs he’s allowed — lefties have actually hit him better over his career, but not at a .360 clip (lefties have hit .263 against him in his career). The former Met made five starts against the Phils in 2007 and went 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA and a 1.25 ratio. April 12, April 17, June 5, August 28 and September 14. Myers has allowed 19 runs in 24 innings over his past four starts. Twelve home runs in his last 44 innings. Righties are hitting .325 against him. He’s not pitching well. He went 1-0 with a 4.30 ERA, a 1.30 ratio and four saves in eight appearances against Atlanta last season.
Manuel talks about starting Werth in center last night here.