Tag: Placido Polanco

Who’s right and who’s left

In early December, the Phillies signed lefty slugger Laynce Nix to a two-year, $2.5 million deal. Less than two weeks later, they traded right-handed corner outfielder Ben Francisco to the Blue Jays for a left-handed reliever that’s unlikely to have a significant impact with the team at the major league level. Francisco then avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal with Toronto worth about $1.5 million.

Nix’s role with the Phillies looks likely to be as the left-handed part of a platoon in left with John Mayberry — especially early in the season when Howard’s absence at first should open up some opportunities for Mayberry to play there.

Nix offers power against right-handed pitching, he’s pounded out 48 doubles and 35 home runs against righties in 817 plate appearances over the last three season, but it will come with a low average and not enough walks. And he can’t play at all against lefties. He comes into 2012 with just 216 plate appearances against lefties for his career and a 181/235/271 line against them. The bigger concern about Nix, though, is not what he does against his bad side (lefites), but that he has a career .296 on-base percentage on his good side (against righties).

Question for today is whether Ben Francisco or Laynce Nix is a better choice offensively against right-handed pitchers, given that there’s no question that the righty Francisco is better than the lefty Nix against lefties.

I think the answer for today is no. Nix is probably better against right-handed pitching offensively than Francisco. But it’s close and I think it’s close enough to make you wonder if Francisco’s huge advantages against left-handed pitching make him the more valuable offensive player overall.

Nix was clearly better than Francisco against righties in 2012. Here’s what each of them did for the year:

Nix 320 263 306 475 341
Francisco 167 243 345 393 322

Both Nix and Francisco walked 19 times against right-handed pitching in 2011. Francisco got his walks in 167 plate appearances while Nix got his in 320. Francisco walked nearly twice as often, drawing walks in about 11.4% of his plate appearances against righties while Nix walked in about 5.9% of his.

Nix was more likely to get a hit (24.4% of his PA vs righties compared to 20.4% for Francisco).

They hit doubles at almost the same rate. 4.2% of PA for Francisco and 4.1% for Nix. Nix was more than twice as likely to hit a home run, knocking out 16 in his 320 plate appearances (5.0%) while Francisco hit four in 167 (2.4%).

Almost inarguably, Nix was better against right-handed pitching in 2011.

2011 was the worst year of Francisco’s career, though. It’s a different story if you look at their career numbers against righties.

Nix 1584 253 296 451 320
Francisco 1034 259 326 433 333

Francisco still walks more if you look at their career numbers (7.4% to 5.6%) and is still more likely to double in a given plate appearance (6.4% to 5.6%).

The gap in how likely they each are to get a hit narrows, but Nix still comes out ahead. 23.5% for Nix and 23.1% for Francisco. Nix is still way more likely to hit the ball out of the yard, homering in about 3.9% of his plate appearances against righties compared to about 2.9% for Francisco.

Over their careers, Francisco has been at least as good against righties. But not over the last three seasons.

Nix’s career to this point can be looked at in three three-year blocks — three years with Texas where he was pretty bad, three years where he didn’t play much and the last three years, when he’s been a lot better offensively than he was early in his career.

From 2002-2005 he was pretty awful, hitting 247/285/426 over 835 plate appearances in those three years combined. He played his last game of the ’05 with the Rangers in July of that year and had shoulder surgery. From 2006 to 2008 he hardly played at all in the majors, getting just 95 plate appearances between the Brewers and Rangers combined. He spent 2009 and 2010 with the Reds, hitting 257/311/468 over 519 plate appearances in those two years combined, before hitting 250/299/451 over 351 plate appearances for the Nats last year.

Here’s the wOBA each of them has posted against righties for the past three seasons:

2011 2010 2009
Nix 341 335* 336
Francisco 322* 287* 349

Nix tops Francisco in two of the three years, but with Francisco posting the best mark against righties in 2009 at .349. I put asterisks next to the three seasons where the player got less than 170 plate appearances against righties for the season. In the non-asterisk seasons, Nix or Francisco got between 300 and 350 plate appearances against righties that year.

This article says that Amaro doesn’t expect Howard back for Opening Day and would be happy if he’s back in May, that Polanco should be close to 100% for Spring Training, that the Phils will be cautious with how they handle Utley and his knees during Spring Training and that Contreras should be ready near Opening Day.

The Phillies signed Juan Pierre to a minor league deal. The linked article suggests Pierre is an option for the Phils in left. That would be an exceptionally poor idea. Happily, in the same article, Amaro suggests the bulk of the time in left will go to Mayberry and Nix and mentions Brown as being in the mix as well.

The Phils have avoided arbitration with Hunter Pence as Pence has agreed to a one-year, $10.4 million deal.

Pat Burrell is retiring.

The list of guys who might hit fourth for the Phils while Howard is sidelined is apparently long.

Half and better half

The Phillies played 82 games from the start of the season to the end of June, going 51-31. In those 82 games, they were eighth in the NL in runs scored. After June, the Phils played 80 games, going 51-29. They led the league in runs scored in those 80 games.

Here’s a look back at what the offense did by position, breaking the season down into two halves — the 82 games through the end of June and the 80 games after the start of July.


Ruiz served as the primary catcher for the Phils in both the first and second half of the season. He was simply much better during the second half (after the end of June) than he was in the first.

April-June 221 3 16 243 348 333
July to End 251 3 24 317 391 425

Ruiz played a little more in the second half and showed more power, but mostly just got a lot more hits, hitting .317 in the second half after hitting .243 in the first. He actually walked a little less regularly in the second half, about 9.2% of his plate appearances compared to about 11.3% in the first half, but his on-base percentage was a whole lot better thanks to the much better batting average.

First base:

At first, Howard fared about as well after the end of June as he had in the first 82 games of the year:

April-June 353 17 64 254 354 488
July to End 291 16 52 252 337 488

Very similar numbers for Howard in both halves. He walked more regularly in the first half, but hit for nearly the same average with about the same power.

The Phils did see a benefit at the position in the second half of the year thanks to John Mayberry. Mayberry started just ten games at first the whole year, but nine of those starts came after the end of June. Mayberry crushed the ball in 2011 while playing first for the Phillies — in his 45 plate appearances while playing first he put up a monster 409/422/682 line.


Second base was an offensive disaster for the Phils in the early part of the season. Chase Utley returned at the end of May and hit .222 in 27 May at-bats, but followed that up with a fantastic June in which he hit 297/387/470. He was even better in July as he hit 293/369/550. From August 1 to the end of the regular season he hit a meager 227/305/343. Here’s what his numbers first and second half look like:

April-June 140 3 16 280 381 449
July to End 314 8 28 250 328 414

Utley was simply not good after the end of June, hitting just .250 and on-basing .328. As uninspired as those numbers are, they still were a significant improvement for a team that struggled to find offense from the position while Utley was out.

Here’s the numbers of games started at second base for the Phils in the first and second halves of the year:

1st Half (April-June) 2nd half (July-end)
Utley 31 (37.8%) 69 (86.3%)
Valdez 31 (37.8%) 2 (2.5%)
Orr 16 (19.5%) 4 (7.5%)
Martinez 4 (4.9%) 3 (3.7%)

So Utley started about 38% of the games at second through the end of June and about 86% of the games after June. And even though he wasn’t hitting particularly Utley-like, that’s still important. Cause even a sluggish Utley is a whole lot better offensively than those other guys. Here’s what the four guys who started games for the Phillies at second did offensively while playing that position in 2011:

Utley 451 257 340 423
Valdez 126 246 289 307
Orr 82 213 280 240
Martinez 30 241 267 379

Even an Utley way off his game was way better than the rest of those guys, most notably out on-basing the second-best on-base percentage in the group (Valdez) by more than fifty points.

After Utley returned to the Phillies on May 23, the Phils led the NL in runs scored the rest of the way. That was despite the fact that the offense wasn’t good at all in June, though, as the Phils finished eleventh in the NL that month. Because the offense was so terrible in June (despite a monster 297/387/470 line for Utley for the month) it’s hard for me to see his return as the turnaround point for the offense. The offense was best in the NL after that date because 1) they were fantastic in July, better than any other NL team, and very strong in August and September and 2) in the nine games from May 23 to the end of May, the Phils played nine games and scored 51 runs or 5.67 runs per game.

Third base:

Polanco, you may have noticed, was atrocious in 2011. He didn’t start out that way, though. He hit nearly .400 in April, putting up a 398/447/524 line over 114 plate appearances. After that he hit 243/304/287 the rest of the way.

He played a lot less in the second half of the season, and without the huge April his numbers were a lot worse:

April-June 340 4 39 288 339 363
July to End 183 1 11 258 328 294

When he did play in the second half, Polanco’s walk rate rose a little (8.7% of plate appearances compared to 7.6% in the first half), but his average was way off and his power nearly gone altogether. He had four extra-base hits from July 1 to the end of the year.

Here’s who started at third for the Phils through the end of June and after the start of July:

1st Half (April-June) 2nd half (July-end)
Polanco 76 (92.7%) 39 (48.8%)
Valdez 6 (7.3%) 15 (18.7%)
Martinez 0 (0%) 24 (30.0%)
Orr 0 (0%) 2 (2.5%)

Polanco got more than 90% of the starts in the first 82 games of the year for the Phils. After the start of July, Valdez, Martinez and Orr combined to start more often at third than he did.

Here’s what the guys did offensively while playing third for the Phils this year:

Polanco 513 280 337 343
Martinez 104 231 304 352
Valdez 84 253 286 354
Orr 7 000 000 000

Unlike second base, there was not a huge improvement at the position when the Phils got their starter on the field. For the year, Valdez and Martinez both offered significantly more power from the position while getting on base a little less. Not to be forgotten is that Polanco hit 243/304/287 for the year after the end of April — both Martinez and Valdez gave the Phils more offense at third when they played than Polanco did after his strong April.


At shortstop, Jimmy Rollins was a much better offensive player in the second half of the year than he was in the first.

April-June 352 7 31 254 327 368
July to End 279 9 32 286 351 437

More hits and more power for Rollins in the second half of the season than the first. His walk rate was down, but just a tiny bit, and thanks to all the hits his on-base percentage was up to .351. From June 26 through August 20, Rollins hit 298/372/461 over 215 plate appearances.

He didn’t play nearly as much in the second half as he did the first. Valdez made 20 starts at short on the season and 15 of them came after the start of July. Valdez had solid numbers while playing short for the Phils in 2011, though, posting a 278/338/414 line over 81 plate appearances. That’s very similar to the 272/340/417 line that Rollins put up while playing short in 2011.

While playing short for the Phils in 2011, Valdez posted a 278/338/414 line over 81 plate appearances. He got 219 plate appearances as something other than a shortstop. In those plate appearances he hit 239/277/313.

Left field:

Ibanez didn’t play as much in left field in the second half of the season, but when he did he was a little better:

April-June 309 9 34 235 285 393
July to End 266 11 50 256 293 448

He was still terrible at getting on base, but Ibanez did show a bit more power in the second half of the year.

Ibanez started in left in 72 of the first 82 (87.8%) games of the season for the Phils. After the start of July the Phils played 80 games and he started just 59 (73.7%). The other 21 second-half starts were made by Mayberry (12) and Francisco (nine).

Both of those guys were fantastic in the second half. Here’s what the two did after the start of July (at all positions, not just left field):

Mayberry 179 301 358 607
Francisco 65 322 354 407

Mayberry was absolutely fantastic in the second half, hitting 12 home runs in 179 plate appearances while on-basing .358. That’s a lot of home runs — at that pace he would hit about 37 over a season of 550 plate appearances. For the season, he actually hit 15 over 296 plate appearances, which would have him at about 25 over 550 plate appearances.

Francisco hardly played at all after the start of July, but when he did he hit .322. That’s more than a hundred points higher than the .220 he hit in 228 plate appearances in the first 82 games of the season when he had a chance to cement his status as an everyday player. Just a tiny number of chances for Francisco in the second half, but I do think it’s curious that he seemingly forgot all about try to walk and hit .322. In the first 82 games of the season he walked in 12.7% of his plate appearances and in the last 80 he got just 65 plate appearances but walked in only 6.2% of them.

As bad as Francisco was with the Phils in 2011, he on-based .340 for the season, which was a career high. I think there’s a good chance that the Phils are going to regret having given him away.

Center Field:

Victorino played about as much in center the first and second halves of the season with about the same results.

April-June 288 9 31 289 359 504
July to End 298 8 30 270 351 479

More hits in the first half, more walks in the second with about the same power all season long. Victorino started 63 of the 82 first half games (76.8%) and 63 of the 80 second-half games (78.5%). He really only had one month of the season where he wasn’t an outstanding offensive player in 2011 and that was September. After going 2-for-4 with a walk against the Fish on September 2, Victorino was hitting a silly 308/384/542 for the season. He would hit 163/237/288 in 115 plate appearances the rest of the way. Curiously the Phils kept playing him and playing him down the stretch, even after they clinched and he continued to slump. Victorino got 125 plate appearances in September, which led the team and was also the most he had in any month in 2011.

There were 34 games for the Phils in 2011 when Victorino didn’t start at center. Mayberry started 26 of them and Martinez eight. Martinez was predictably terrible, going 5-for-39 with five singles and no walks (128/128/128).

Overall for the year, Mayberry didn’t get on base a whole lot in his 115 plate appearances as a center fielder, but he did show a ton of power. He posted a 236/296/472 line in center for the season.

In his 13 starts in center field in the first half of the year, Mayberry was wretched. In those 13 games he hit 191/255/277. In the second half he started 13 games as well, but with much different results, posting a 291/328/673. In 13 second-half starts in center, Mayberry went 16-for-55 with 12 of the 16 hits going for extra-bases — seven doubles, a triple and four home runs. Four home over 13 starts is impressive, but so is seven doubles. At that pace, over 162 starts you would tally about 50 home runs and 87 doubles.

Right field:

Hunter Pence was traded from the Astros in late July and played his first game with the Phils on July 30. He was great in August (340/413/600) and almost as great in September (317/385/550).

For the 2011 season, Pence hit 325/396/563 in 235 plate appearances as the right field fielder for the Phillies.

This is what the guys for the Phils other than Pence who played right field for the Phils did in 2011 while playing right field:

Francisco 208 232 335 367
Brown 205 240 332 391
Mayberry 26 318 423 727
Gload 10 300 300 300
Bowker 2 000 000 000
Moss 2 000 000 000

Mayberry had some nifty numbers in 26 plate appearances and Gload went 3-for-10, but those guys were bad overall. Most notably, Brown and Francisco combined to get 413 plate appearances in which they hit a meager 236/333/379 combined.

To summarize:

  • In right, Pence arrived at the end of July and was not just good but great, hitting 324/394/560 over 236 plate appearances with the Phils.
  • At second, the first half production was miserable. Utley returned on May 23 and gave the Phils an enormous boost, replacing at-bats by Valdez, Orr and Martinez with Utley at-bats. He didn’t have a Chase Utley-like performance after the start of July, hitting just 250/328/414 from the start July to the end of the season, but it was still enough to give the Phils a huge boost at the position.
  • At catcher, Ruiz was a better hitter after the start of July. Getting about the same playing time in both halves, Ruiz hit 243/348/333 before the start of July and 317/391/425 from the start of July to the end of the regular season.
  • At short, Rollins, like Ruiz, was just better at offensively during the second half, hitting 286/351/437 after the start of July having ended June with a 254/327/368 line.
  • In left, Ibanez was bad both halves, but did get better in the second half and showed more power. He also played less in the second half as Francisco and Mayberry combined to make 21 starts in left. Francisco was good in limited time in the second half and Mayberry was great, hitting 301/358/607.
  • In center, Victorino had similar numbers both halves with a little drop off after July. Mayberry started the same number of games in center in the first and second halves (13), but had much better numbers in his 13 starts in center after July than before it. In 13 starts in center before the end of June he hit 191/255/277. In his 13 starts in center after the start of July he hit 291/328/673.
  • At first base, Ryan Howard had similar numbers in both halves. The Phils got a small bump at the position from Mayberry at the second half when Mayberry started nine of the ten games he started at first for the season. For the year, Mayberry hit a silly 409/422/682 as a 1B.
  • At third, Polanco, awful with the bat in 2011, did see less time at third during the second half of the year, but his fantastic April plus the fact that the guys who replaced him at third when he didn’t play in the second half didn’t do much of anything to help the Phillies.

Again, the Phils got a huge boost from Mayberry in the last 80 games, helping out in left, center and at first base.

A big question about the second-half surge seems to be whether Utley’s return or Pence’s arrival was a bigger factor. My thinking is that Pence was a bigger factor from July to the end of the year, but Utley’s return was likely a bigger factor for the year. More on that soon.

The comments close two weeks after a post is published, which is why we could not continue the discussion from the previous about whether or not David Wright is coming to the Phils. He’s not. Or at least a lot of people are going to be real surprised if he is.

May and June bug

Overall in 2011, the Phillies finished a disappointing seventh in the NL in runs scored. Things picked up a lot towards the end of the year, though — from the start of July to the end of the regular season, the Phils led the NL in runs score.

When you think about how things went month-to-month for the Phils in 2011, it’s important to remember that the offense had two terrible months early in the year that dragged the numbers down for the season. After a solid start to the year in April, the offense dropped like a stone for the Phils in May as the team finished twelfth in the NL in runs scored for the month. They followed that up with a June in which they were eleventh in the NL in runs scored. After the first three full months of the season, the Phils were eighth in the league in runs scored. But things got better in a hurry.

The table below shows, for each month of the 2011 season, the Phillies rank in run scored for the league for that month, their rank in runs scored from the beginning of the season through the end of that month and their rank in runs scored in the league from the end of that month to the end of the regular season.

Month NL Rank RS for Month Rank RS start of season thru month Rank RS after month to end of season
April 4 4 6
May 12 8 4
June 11 8 1
July 1 6 4
August 3 6 6
Sept 6 7 -

So, for example, in May of 2011, the Phils were twelfth in the NL in runs scored. From the start of the season through the end of May, they were eighth in the NL in runs scored and from the end of May to the end of the regular season they were fourth.

Through end of June July to end of season May and June April, July, August and September
PHI NL Rank Runs Scored 8 1 12 2

Again, two bad months. Start of the season through June they were eighth in the NL in runs scored. Start of July to the end of the season they were first. In May and June combined they were twelfth. In all of the months except May and June combined they were second.

Here’s a look back at some of the monthly performances that helped contribute to the numbers above:

The offense was solid in April, fourth in the NL in runs scored.

Howard led the team in home runs (six) and RBI (27), hitting 291/351/560. Polanco was a monster, too, hitting 398/447/524 in the only month of the season in which he would put up an OPS of .700 or better. After going 2-for-3 with a double against the Mets on April 30, Polanco would hit 243/304/287 in 409 plate appearances for the rest of the season.

Ibanez was atrocious for the Phils in April, posting a 161/247/218 line over 97 plate appearances. Valdez started 19 games and hit 239/282/284.

It wouldn’t last, but Francisco put up solid numbers for April, hitting 266/347/447 for the month and starting 24 games. Things were already looking a little less than fabulous for Francisco, though. After hitting 308/386/513 over 44 plate appearances to start the season, Francisco hit 236/317/400 over the last 16 games of the month.

In May the offense tanked. Eleven NL teams scored more runs than the Phillies in May.

The good news for May was that Ibanez bounced back dramatically, hitting a team-high seven homers and also leading the team in RBI with 19 as he posted a 315/339/602 line.

The bad news was pretty much everything else. Howard hit .208. Rollins on-based .306. Polanco on-based .289 with three extra-base hits in 27 starts. Utley was back at the end of the month, but not helping much. He hit 222/364/370 in 33 May plate appearances.

Francisco couldn’t hit enough to keep the right field job and was out of the lineup regularly during the second half of the month after hitting .103 (really! .103) in his first 50 plate appearances in May (4-for-39 with four singles). It created some openings in the outfield. Mayberry couldn’t capitalize, hitting 194/275/319 in his 80 May plate appearances, but Brown looked a little better. Brown appeared in just ten games in May (seven starts), but hit 333/378/545 in limited action (37 PA).

June was almost as bad as May. The Phils were eleventh in runs scored in the league in June. The team hit .229 for the month and slugged .317 — both would be lows for the season.

Howard was solid enough, leading the team with five homers and 22 RBI. He walked 18 times, putting up a .397 on-base percentage despite hitting just .269. Victorino pounded the ball to the tune of 297/383/505. So did Utley, who would hit 295/378/511 from the start of June to the end of July over 218 plate appearances. In June he posted a 297/387/473 line.

There was more than enough bad news to make up for it, though. Brown became nearly an everyday player in June, starting 22 games and hitting a meager 165/258/354 for the month. Mayberry went 0-for-3 in his four plate appearances for the month. Rollins on-based .314. Ruiz hit .221 and Polanco .213 — that duo combined for five extra-base hits in 194 June plate appearances. Ibanez’s May magic was gone as he hit a paltry 211/258/311 in his second atrocious month with the bat on the year.

The Phillies had their best offense month of the year in July, plating an NL-best 138 runs.

Ibanez was back, hitting seven home runs and driving in 25 with a 284/320/558 line. The 25 RBI he would post in July was the most of any Phillie for any month in 2011 other than Howard’s 27 in April.

Rollins found his power stroke as well, socking six home runs of his own with a 312/375/523 line. Utley had his best month of the year: 293/369/545 with five bombs. Victorino missed a lot of the month with a thumb injury, but was awesome when he played to the tune of 364/462/600 in 66 plate appearances for the month.

Victorino’s injury opened up a lot of time for Mayberry in center and Mayberry delivered with the bat. He came into July having hit 231/316/365 in 117 plate appearances for the year, but blasted a pair of home runs against the Fish on July 6 and hit 300/327/640 for the month in 52 plate appearances. Brown, meanwhile, continued to get chances, starting 20 games. He bounced back from a miserable June in which he hit .165, hitting 296/398/366, but without a home run in 83 plate appearances. Pence would arrive at the end of the month, securing right field for the rest of the season as he hit and hit and hit.

Ruiz, who would hit 317/391/425 in 251 plate appearances from the start of July to the end of the year, started his tear with what would be his best month of the season, hitting 324/432/485 in July.

Howard didn’t join the July party for the Phils, hitting .250 with a .306 on-base percentage, walking just eight times, which was his lowest mark for any month of the season. Martinez started 17 games for the Phils in July, primarily at third, and put up what were by far his best numbers for any month with a 247/300/384 line in 81 plate appearances. Those numbers for Martinez don’t sound great, but it’s important to remember that the Phils primary third baseman, Polanco, on-based .335 and slugged just .339 for the season.

In August the Phils were still hitting, if off the July pace a little. They were third in the NL in runs scored in August.

It was Pence’s first full month with the Phils and he was hitting everything. He hit seven home runs in August, posting a 340/413/596 line over 109 plate appearances.

Victorino was back, playing regularly and still hitting. 316/393/600 in August. Between June 17 and September 2, Victorino got 233 plate appearances in which he posted a stupid 325/409/611 line.

Ruiz continued to hit, too, 329/365/429 in August.

Valdez started 15 games, filling in primarily for Rollins and Polanco, and put up an unexpected 278/322/481 line over 59 plate appearances.

Off were Utley, 245/315/347, and Ibanez, 225/254/323. Mayberry started to see some more time in left — he got just 59 plate appearances in August, but made them memorable by homering six times as he put up a 296/356/685 line. Howard blasted eight homers and drove in 22 runs, but hit just .225 while doing so.

The Phillies were sixth in the NL in runs scored in September.

Pence continued to pound the ball, hitting 317/385/548 and leading the team with 18 RBI for the month. Howard hit 290/417/522. Mayberry got 13 more starts and hit 305/382/508 for the month. In his last 177 plate appearances on the year, Mayberry had hit 302/356/611. Polanco was back and at least got on base, hitting 280/349/344 in September. He ended the season having slugged .287 over his last 477 plate appearances.

Victorino and Utley both ended the year on a downswing. Victorino hit 186/258/319 in 125 plate appearances in September. Utley hit just 205/295/337. Martinez started 13 games and hit .136. After on-basing .368 in July and August combined, Rollins on-based just .308 in September.

The Phillies signed righty Dave Bush and lefty David Purcey to minor league deals and invited them to spring training. Bush is still just 32 and had pretty good years with the Brewers as a starter in 2006 and again in 2008. The lefty Purcey was good for the Blue Jays in a relief role in 2010, throwing to a 3.71 ERA with a 1.21 ratio, before getting hit hard with three teams in 2011.

Rafael Furcal agreed to a deal with the Cardinals, meaning Jimmy Rollins is running out of teams other than the Phils to play for.

Update: The Phillies have traded Ben Francisco to the Blue Jays for left-handed pitcher Frank Gailey. Gailey turned 26 last month and has never appeared in the majors. In 304 1/3 innings in the minors he has thrown to a 2.45 ERA with a 1.03 ratio. He has never pitched above Double-A.

Phils best in the East, but looking second-best in their series with the Cards

The Phils clinched the NL East this weekend with a 9-2 win over the Cardinals on Saturday. Just about everything went right for the Phillies in that game — Oswalt looked great throwing seven shutout innings and Ibanez hit a grand slam in the bottom of the eighth as the Phils scored six times to blow the game open.

The rest of the series hasn’t gone quite as well, with the Cards taking the other two games. The most worrisome developments of the two losses were continued struggles by Bastardo and more home runs allowed by Cole Hamels. Yadier Molina homered off of Bastardo in the eighth inning of game one of the set, breaking a 1-1 tie. In last night’s game, Hamels went seven innings and allowed four runs, all four of which scored on a pair of two-run homers.

After his appearance on September 5, Bastardo was looking unstoppable. He had thrown to a 1.35 ERA for the year and struck out 66 in 53 1/3 innings while opponents had hit .110 against him for the season. Since then he has faced 15 batters over five appearances and nine of them have reached base on four hits and five walks.

Through the end of July, Hamels had allowed eight home runs in 152 innings over 22 starts (0.47 home runs per nine innings). In his last nine starts he has allowed nine home runs over 54 innings(1.47 home runs per nine).

On Friday, the Phils lost the opener of the series 4-2 in 11 innings. Worley started for the Phils and walked three in the top of the second, with a walk to Rafael Furcal with the bases loaded forcing in David Freese to put St Louis up 1-0. The Phils tied it up in the bottom of the inning on back-to-back doubles by Polanco and Mayberry. It stayed tied until the eighth, when Yadier Molina homered off of Bastardo with one out to put the Cards up 2-1. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Howard delivered a pinch-hit double and came in to score when Corey Patterson dropped Ruiz’s fly ball in the right field corner after a long run, tying the game at 2-2. Schwimer started the ninth for the Phils and allowed a leadoff double to Furcal. Furcal would come in to score on a single by Adron Chambers and Tyler Greene followed that with an RBI-double that put St Louis on top to stay at 4-2.

Saturday the Phils won 9-2 with the help of a strong outing from Oswalt and a grand slam from Ibanez to clinch the NL East. Oswalt threw seven shutout innings and Stutes took over in the top of the eighth with a 3-0 lead. Stutes got just two outs but was charged with two runs on four hits before Lidge come on to get Allen Craig to set the Cards down with men on first and second. With their lead cut to a single run, the Phils scored six runs in the bottom of the eighth, getting RBI-singles from Victorino and Pence and a slam from Ibanez, extending their lead to 9-2. Madson allowed a two-out single in the ninth, but got Furcal to ground to second and end the game.

The Phillies lost 5-0 last night.

The Phillies are 98-53 on the year losing 5-0 to the St Louis Cardinals last night. St Louis has won two of the first three games in the four-game set.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies last night and went seven innings, allowing four runs on seven hits. Four of the hits went for extra-bases, two doubles and two two-run home runs. He struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter.

Ryan Theriot was the first batter of the game and he lined to center for the first out. Allen Craig was next and he doubled to left, putting a man on second for Albert Pujols. Pujols hit the first pitch he saw from Hamels out to left, putting St Louis on top 2-0. David Freese and Lance Berkman both struck out swinging to set St Louis down.

Yadier Molina led off the second and grounded out to Utley. Rafael Furcal followed with a bunt single and Furcal stole second as Hamels struck Jon Jay out swinging for the second out. Chris Carpenter struck out swinging to leave Furcal at second.

Hamels threw a 1-2-3 third.

In the fourth, Berkman singled with one out. Hamels got Molina to ground into a double-play behind him.

Hamels struck out Furcal and Jay as he set St Louis down in order in the fifth.

Theriot doubled to start the sixth and Allen Craig hit an 0-2 pitch out to left-center behind him. 4-0. Hamels got the next three hitters in order.

Jay singled to right with two outs in the seventh, but Hamels got Carpenter on a fly ball to right for the third out.

Blanton started the eighth and got Theriot on a ground ball before Craig homered again, hitting a 1-2 pitch out to center to make it 5-0. Blanton struck out Pujols and Freese behind Craig.

Second outing for Blanton since his return — he’s allowed a run over two innings and struck out three.

Righty Justin De Fratus made his debut for the Phillies in the ninth. He got Berkman on a fly ball to center for the first out and Molina on a pop to short for the second. He walked Furcal on five pitches, but got Jay to ground to third to end the frame.

Blanton threw 19 pitches in the game and De Fratus 13.

The Phillies lineup against righty Chris Carpenter went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Pence (5) Ibanez (6) Polanco (7) Gload (8) Schneider. Howard and Ruiz rest to start the game, with lefties Gload and Schneider starting against the righty Carpenter.

The Phils were down 2-0 when they hit in the bottom of the first. Victorino and Utley singled back-to-back with one out, putting runners on first and second for Pence. Pence grounded into a double-play to end the inning.

Polanco singled with one out in the second, but Gload grounded into a double-play behind him.

Schneider and Hamels both struck out to start the third before Rollins singled to left. Victorino grounded to first to end the inning.

Utley and Pence singled back-to-back to start the fourth, putting men on first and second with nobody out. Ibanez hit into a double-play and Polanco grounded to third, leaving Utley at third.

Hamels singled to right with two outs in the fifth, but Rollins flew to center to leave him stranded.

Victorino and Utley went down to start the sixth with the Phils down 4-0. Pence hit a ball to short that Furcal fielded, but his throw to first was bad for an error. Ibanez grounded to second to leave Pence stranded.

Polanco walked to start the seventh, but Gload and Schneider went down behind him. With two outs, Polanco still on first and Carpenter still pitching for the Cardinals, Bowker hit for Hamels and struck out swinging for the third out.

Bowker 0-for-8 with six strikeouts since joining the Phillies.

Down 5-0, Utley singled with two outs in the eighth. Pence struck out swinging to leave him at first.

Gload walked with two outs in the eighth, but Schneider struck out swinging behind him.

The Phillies didn’t have an extra-base hit in the game.

Rollins was 1-for-4 in the game. 5-for-14 in the first three games of the four-game set.

Victorino 1-for-4 in the game. 3-for-10 with a homer so far in the series.

Utley 3-for-4 in the game. 3-for-13 so far in the series. 5-for-his-last-29 coming into last night’s game.

Pence 1-for-4. 3-for-12 with two walks and a double in the series so far.

Ibanez 0-for-4 and left three men on base. 1-for-10 with a grand slam in the series.

Polanco 1-for-3 with a walk. 4-for-11 with a double and three walks in the series. 306/389/387 so far in September.

Gload 0-for-3 with a walk. 5-for-17 in September with five singles.

Schneider 0-for-4 and struck out three times. He’s hitting .171 for the year and on-basing .234.

Halladay (18-5, 2.34) faces righty Kyle Lohse (13-8, 3.82) tonight.

Ryan Howard will have a cortisone shot in his left ankle.

The doctor is in (the playoffs)

Roy Halladay pitched the Phils into the post-season with a magnificent outing yesterday afternoon, throwing a complete-game shutout as he led the Phils to a 1-0 win over Houston. With the victory, the Phils salvage a game in a three-game set in which they scored a total of four runs and failed to score more than two in any game against the lowly Astros.

Victorino and Polanco started yesterday’s game with back-to-back hits, but the Phils would get just two more hits the rest of the way, singles by Halladay and Pence in the sixth. They wouldn’t score after the first inning, notably loading the bases with one out in the sixth before being turned away on a Howard strikeout and Ibanez’s fly out to center. Howard was 0-for-11 in the series and is 3-for-his-last-23 with ten strikeouts.

The Phillies are 95-51 on the year after beating the Houston Astros 1-0 yesterday. The Astros take the series two games to one. The Phils have clinched a spot in the post-season and lead the second-place Braves by 11 games in the division.

Halladay got the start for the Phillies and threw a complete-game shutout, allowing six hits and a walk. All six of the hits were singles and he struck out seven.

He was up 1-0 when he pitched the bottom of the first. Jordan Schafer lined softly to third for the first out. Clint Barmes was next and he struck out swinging 0-2 for the second. JD Martinez grounded to short to end the inning.

Carlos Lee led off the second and hit a ball to third that Polanco didn’t handle for an error. It brought Brian Bogusevic to the plate with a man on first and Bogusevic moved Lee to second with a single to left. Jimmy Paredes bunted for a hit and the bases were loaded for Jose Altuve. Altuve hit a ground ball to third and Polanco came home, forcing Lee for the first out. Halladay got Humberto Quintero to hit into a double-play to keep Houston off the board.

No run for Houston after loading the bases with nobody out.

Halladay got pitcher Bud Norris to pop to Howard for the first out of the third. Schafer reached on an infield single and stole second before Barmes popped to Martinez for the first out. Martinez hit a ball hard, but Polanco took it at third and threw to first to end the inning.

Halladay set Houston down in order in the fourth.

Altuve led off the fifth and singled to center. Quintero flew to center for the first out. Norris tried to bunt Altuve up to second, but struck out fouling off a two-strike pitch. Altuve stole second, but was left there when Schafer grounded to third.

Halladay walked Martinez with one out in the sixth, but got Lee and Bogusevic behind him.

Paredes singled to right to start the seventh and Altuve bunted him to second with the first out. Quintero grounded to third for the second out with Paredes moving up to third. Righty Matt Downs hit for the pitcher Norris and Halladay struck him out swinging 0-2 to leave Paredes at third.

Halladay struck out Schafer and Barmes to start the eighth before Martinez singled to left. Jason Bogusevic ran for Martinez at first, but was left there when Lee flew to left.

Halladay threw a 1-2-3 ninth, getting Bogusevic on a fly ball to center, Paredes on a ground out to short and striking out Altuve to end the game.

The Phillies lineup against righty Bud Norris went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Pence (4) Howard (5) Ibanez (6) Ruiz (7) Orr (8) Martinez. Rollins on the bench with Martinez at short. Orr at second with Utley sidelined. Victorino back after not starting game two — still hope the Phils get him more rest soon.

Victorino led off the game with a double to center. Polanco was next and he singled into center. Victorino scored from second as the throw from Schafer came in high and Polanco took second with the Phils up 1-0. Pence grounded to the pitcher for the first out with Polanco holding second. Howard went down on a ground ball fielded by Altuve for the second with Polanco moving up to third. Ibanez grounded to first with Norris covering to leave Polanco at third.

And here ends the offense for the Phils. They are held to one after putting a man on second with nobody out.

They didn’t have another base-runner until the sixth inning, when Halladay led off with a single to right. Victorino walked behind him. Polanco was next and bunted, but Norris made a fantastic play, pouncing on the ball, whirling and somehow making an accurate throw to third to force Victorino for the first out. Pence followed with a single into left and the bases were loaded. Howard struck out swinging 0-2 for the second out. Ibanez flew to center to leave the bases loaded.

No run for the Phils after putting the first two men on and then loading the bases with one out. Big strikeout for Howard, who can’t put the ball in play with one out and the bases loaded.

The Phils went in order in the seventh.

And again in the eighth. Halladay hit for himself and struck out for the first out.

Pence, Howard and Ibanez all struck out as the Phils went in order in the ninth.

Victorino 1-for-3 with a walk and a double in the game. His double was the only extra-base hit for the Phils. 1-for-9 with a double and a walk in the three-game series. 291/367/511 for the year. He’s hitting .190 in September. Still think he needs to rest.

Polanco 1-for-4 with an RBI. 1-for-7 with two walks in the series. 276/332/340 for the season.

Pence 1-for-4 with a strikeout. 4-for-11 with a walk, a double and a home run against his former team. 312/368/497 for the year. He’s hitting .385 over his last ten starts.

Howard 0-for-4 and struck out twice, including a big strikeout in the sixth with one out and the bases loaded. 0-for-11 with a walk and four strikeouts in the series. 249/343/491 for the year.

Ibanez 0-for-4 with a strikeout and four men left on base. 1-for-6 with two walks and a double in the set. 246/294/424 for the year. 268/308/474 over his last 416 plate appearances since May 3. Everything’s great in the last 416 except he still isn’t walking. He walked just 24 times in those 416 plate appearances, which is about 5.8%. That’s lower than his career mark of walking in about 8.6% of his plate appearances. Coming into 2011 he had walked in more than 9% of his plate appearances for three straight seasons.

Ruiz 0-for-3. 2-for-10 with a walk and a home run in the series. 283/375/389 for the year. His power is down this year and especially down against left-handed pitching. This year his is hitting .261 against lefties and slugging .337. For his career he has hit .261 against lefties but slugged .414.

Orr 0-for-3 in the game and 1-for-8 in the series. 241/300/277 in 90 plate appearances for the season.

Martinez 0-for-3 with a strikeout. 0-for-9 with a strikeout in the series. 2-for-his-last-25 and hitting 200/253/290 for the year. The Phillies have given him 222 plate appearances.

The Phils play a double-header with the Fish today. Kyle Kendrick (7-6, 3.29) faces righty Anibal Sanchez (8-7, 3.64) in the day game and Cliff Lee (16-7, 2.44) faces righty Alex Sanabia in the night game. Sanabia will be making his second appearance of the season and his first start.

Worleywind tour comes to an end in Milwaukee

The Phils completed their series with the Brewers this weekend, taking two of the final three games to take three of four in the series. The series concludes a stretch of seven games against two of the National League’s best teams in which the Phils went 6-1.

On Friday the Phils won game two of the series 5-3. Howard hit a three-run homer in the top of the first to put the Phils up 3-0, which is how it stayed until the seventh. In the seventh, RBI-singles by Ibanez and Ruiz extended the lead to 5-0. Howard didn’t allow a run until the bottom of the seventh, when a leadoff double by Casey McGehee led to a run on a sac fly by Yuniesky Betancourt, cutting the lead to 5-1. Bastardo started the ninth and allowed the only two batters he faced to reach on single and a walk. Both came in to score after Madson took over for Bastardo, but the Phils held on for the win.

Over his last three appearances, Bastardo has now faced eight batters. Six of them have reached base on two hits and four walks.

Saturday the Phils won 3-2 in ten innings. Pence put the Phils up 1-0 with a home run in the top of the first, but the Brewers tied it up in the bottom of the second on an RBI-single by Betancourt. Lee gave up a second run in the fourth when Ryan Braun led off with a single, Prince Fielder followed with a double and Braun came in on a ground out by Casey McGehee to put the Brewers up 2-1. Polanco tied things up at 2-2 with a two-out homer to center in the fifth. Ibanez led off the tenth with a double and Ruiz tried to bunt him to third, but LaTroy Hawkins threw the ball away and Ibanez scored to put the Phils up to stay at 3-2. Lidge, Stutes and Madson combined to throw three scoreless innings in the game after Lee held the Brewers to two runs over seven innings.

The Phils lost yesterday’s game 3-2, dropping a game started by Worley for the first time in 15 outings.

The Phillies are 94-49 on the year after falling to the Milwaukee Brewers 3-2 yesterday afternoon. The Phils take two of the last three games in the series and three of four in the set overall. After a win on Saturday the Phillies were 46 games over .500 for the first time in the history of the organization. They are in first place in the NL East, 12 games ahead of the second-place Braves.

Worley got the start for the Phillies and went 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on eight hits and a walk. Four of the hits went for extra-bases, all doubles. He struck out seven.

Corey Hart led off the bottom of the first with a single and Nyjer Morgan bunted him to second with the first out. Braun grounded to second for the second out with Hart moving up to third. Worley struck Fielder out looking 3-2 to leave Hart at third.

Worley walked Rickie Weeks to start the second, but struck Taylor Green out behind him for the first out. Betancourt moved Weeks to second with a single to left and a wild pitch by Worley allowed the runners to take second and third. Jonathan Lucroy grounded to second, with Orr going to Howard for the second out as Weeks scored (1-0) and Betancourt moved up to third. The pitcher Yovani Gallardo grounded to short to end the inning.

Morgan doubled to right with one out in the third and moved up to third on a ground out by Braun. Fielder popped to Martinez at short for the third out.

Worley hit Weeks with his first pitch in the bottom of the fourth, but got Green, Betancourt and Lucroy in order behind Weeks.

Gallardo doubled to right on a ball that Pence either didn’t see well or didn’t play well. Worley struck out Hart before Gallardo took third on a balk. Morgan flew to right with Gallardo holding for the second out and Braun flew to Pence deep in right for the third out.

Worley started the sixth up 2-1. He allowed a leadoff single to Fielder, but got the next three hitters in order.

Hart doubled to left with two outs in the seventh. Morgan followed that with a double to right, plating Hart and tying the game at 2-2. Braun was next and singled into right. Morgan scored and Milwaukee led 3-2. Schwimer took over for Worley and struck Fielder out swinging 2-2 to leave Braun at first.

Just the second of five appearances for Schwimer on the year in which he isn’t charged with at least one run.

Herndon pitched the eighth. He walked Craig Counsell with one out, but got the next two hitters behind him.

First appearance for Herndon since his 69-pitch outing on September 4.

Herndon threw 19 pitches and Schwimer five. Nobody in the pen has pitched more than one day in a row.

The Phillies lineup against righty Yovani Gallardo went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Pence (4) Howard (5) Ibanez (6) Orr (7) Schneider (8) Martinez. Orr at second and Martinez at short with Rollins active but on the bench and Valdez sidelined after hurting his left hamstring stealing a base on Saturday. Schneider catches the day game with Ruiz on the bench.

The Phils went in order in the first.

Howard led off the second with a single, but Ibanez, Orr and Schneider all struck out behind him.

Down 1-0, Worley walked with one out in the third. Victorino was next and he grounded to second with Worley forced at second for the second out. Victorino stole second before Polanco grounded to short to set the Phils down.

Howard and Ibanez struck out as the Phils went in order in the fourth.

Orr struck out swinging on a wild pitch to start the fifth and made it safely to first. Orr stole second as Schneider struck out again for the first out. Martinez moved Orr to third with a ground out, but Worley struck out to leave Orr at third.

Phils waste the leadoff strikeout by Orr.

Victorino led off the sixth and homered to right center to tie the game at 1-1. Polanco and Pence went down behind him before Howard hit a 3-2 pitch out to right-center to put the Phils up 2-1. Ibanez struck out for the third out.

The Phillies went in order in the seventh.

Down 3-2 and with righty Francisco Rodriguez pitching for Milwaukee, Gload hit for Schwimer to start the inning and singled to right. Mayberry ran for Gload at first and Victorino flew to right for the first out. Polanco grounded to third with Mayberry forced at second for the second out. Pence moved Polanco to third with a single, but Howard grounded to second to end the frame.

Gload still has to be replaced by a pinch-runner with his hip after reaching base to start the inning. That costs the Phils a bench player and a good one in this case in Mayberry. The Phils used two pinch-hitters in the ninth and they went 0-for-2. If Rollins can hit they surely would have used him, but I’m not sure they wouldn’t have used Mayberry even against the righty Axford instead of Bowker if Mayberry had been available. He wasn’t.

Righty John Axford started the ninth for Milwaukee with a one-run lead. He struck Ibanez out for the first out before Orr singled to center. Rollins hit for Schneider and struck out swinging for the second out. Martinez was next and drew a walk, pushing Orr to second as the tying run. Bowker hit for Herndon and popped to third to end the game.

Victorino was 1-for-4 with a home run in the game. 3-for-19 in the four-game set with a double and a home run. He’s hitting 295/371/516 for the year but just 204/278/327 so far in September.

Polanco 0-for-4 yesterday. 5-for-18 with a home run in the series. 278/332/343 for the year. His home run in Saturday’s game was his first since June 10.

Pence 1-for-4 with a strikeout yesterday. 7-for-17 in the series with two walks, a double, a triple and a home run. 320/393/551 in 147 at-bats with the Phillies.

Howard 2-for-4 with his 33rd home run of the year. 3-for-8 with two walks and two home runs in the series. 254/348/501 for the year. He has hit seven home runs in his last 59 plate appearances.

Ibanez 0-for-4 and struck out four times. 3-for-11 with a double in the series. 247/293/425 for the year. He’s hitting 201/250/312 away from home this season.

Orr was 1-for-4 and struck out three times. 4-for-9 with a walk in the series. 253/317/293 in 75 at-bats with the Phils for the year.

Schneider was 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his only action in the series. He’s hitting 167/235/259 in 108 plate appearances for the season.

Martinez 0-for-3 with a walk. 2-for-9 with two walks in the series. 209/264/304 on the year.

Oswalt (7-8, 3.72) faces righty Brett Myers (4-13, 4.66) tonight in Houston. Myers saw his ERA shoot up to 4.95 after allowing seven runs to the Rockies in five innings on August 22, but has made three appearances since in which he has allowed just three runs in 16 2/3 innings (one of the appearances was a two-inning relief outing). He has allowed 31 home runs in 189 1/3 innings for the year. Oswalt faced his former team in his first start of the season, holding the Astros to two runs over six innings on April 3. In keeping with the guys-playing-on-the-wrong-team theme, Pence homered off of Oswalt in that game. It’s like an Esher drawing.

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