Tag: Placido Polanco

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.

Third time proves to be more alarming than charming

The Phils still can’t score, but it’s a lot more alarming that now they aren’t winning. Last night Cliff Lee battled the home plate umpire for most of the game and walked a career high six, but it was hard to ignore what the offense wasn’t doing. It wasn’t scoring runs and it hasn’t been for a while now. With a 3-1 loss last night the Phils have lost three games in a row for the first time this season.

The Phillies have now scored one run or no runs in four of the last five starts made by Lee.

After an 18-8 April, the Phillies are 7-7 in May. In April they allowed about 3.38 runs per game. The good news is that that’s gotten better — so far in May they’ve allowed 3.14 runs a game. The bad news, of course, is that they can’t score enough. After averaging 4.62 runs a game in April they have scored just 3.36 runs a game so far in May.

The Phillies are 25-15 on the year after losing to the St Louis Cardinals 3-1 last night. They have lost three in a row.

Lee got the start for the Phillies and went 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits and six walks. All six of the hits were singles and he struck out four. After nine starts he has a 3.84 ERA. He’s thrown to a 3.78 ERA over his last five outings, but the Phillies have gone 1-4.

He walked 18 batters in 212 1/3 innings in 2010. So far in 2011 he has walked 13 in 58 2/3 innings.

Ryan Theriot led off the bottom of the first with a single to center. Jon Jay bunted him to second with the first out before Albert Pujols flew to left for the second. Lee walked Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman back-to-back, loading the bases for Allen Craig. Craig flew to right to leave all three runners stranded.

Lee threw a 1-2-3 second with a 1-0 lead, striking Yadier Molina out swinging 1-2 for the first out, getting Nick Punto on a ball that Lee handled and threw to first for the second and striking the pitcher Jake Westbrook out swinging 0-2.

Lee walked Theriot to start the third, but got Jay to ground into a double-play behind him. Pujols grounded to short to end the inning.

Holliday and Berkman walked back-to-back again to start the fourth. Again Lee got Craig, striking him out for the first out, but Molina was next and reached on an infield single that loaded the bases. Punto was next and lined a single to right, moving everyone up a base and tying the game at 1-1. Lee struck the pitcher Westbrook out for the second out before Theriot singled to right. Berkman scored easily to make it 2-1, but Lee took the throw from right and threw Molina out at home to end the inning.

Lee set the Cards down in order in the fifth and the sixth.

Punto led off the seventh with a single and pitcher Kyle Lohse hit for the pitcher Westbrook and Lohse bunted Punto to second with the first out. Theriot walked, putting men on first and second for the Cardinals, and Jay followed that with a single to center. Punto scored to extend the lead to 3-1 with Theriot taking second. Stutes took over for Lee and got Pujols to hit into a double-play to end the inning.

That could have been worse. Again Lee gives up a walk in the inning, but the Cards don’t need it to help them score this time.

Romero started the eighth and got the leadoff hitter Holliday before hitting Berkman with a pitch. Craig flew to center for the second out before Molina dribbled a single between short and third and under the glove of Rollins. Punto flew to Mayberry to leave the runners at first and second.

Romero threw 20 pitches in the game. Stutes threw five.

The Phillies lineup against righty Jake Westbrook went (1) Rollins (2) Valdez (3) Ibanez (4) Howard (5) Mayberry (6) Francisco (7) Orr (8) Ruiz. Polanco gets the day off with a tight back. Valdez starts at third with Ibanez moved up to the three-spot in the order. Victorino on the bench with a hamstring. Mayberry in center with Francisco in right, which is a whole lot better than anything that involves Martinez starting in the outfield. The lefty Orr at second. There’s some ugly to spread around there with Polanco and Victorino out and no good option at second anyway, but Valdez shouldn’t ever be hitting second.

The Phils went in order in the first. Valdez tried to bunt, which is a good idea for several reasons including Pujols at third and being Valdez, but Westbrook handled it and threw it to first to get him for the second out.

Howard led off the top of the second with a walk. Mayberry was next and hit a ground ball to third with Pujols fielding and throwing to second for the first out. Mayberry stole second before Francisco singled to left, scoring Mayberry without a play at the plate to put the Phils up 1-0. Orr was next and hit a ball that Westbrook fielded. Westbrook threw to second to force Francisco for the second out with Orr safe at first. Just for a second, though, cause Westbrook picked Orr of first to set the Phillies down.

Rollins ripped a ball to right center with two outs in the first that fell and hopped over the wall for a ground-rule double. Valdez grounded to second on a nice play by Punto in shallow right to leave Rollins stranded.

Howard walked with one out in the fourth. Mayberry flew to left and Francisco flew to center to leave him stranded.

The Phils were down 2-1 when they hit in the fifth. Orr and Ruiz went down to start the inning before Lee singled into center. Rollins moved him to second with a single, but Valdez grounded to third to turn the Phils away.

Howard walked with one out in the sixth, but Mayberry hit into a double-play behind him.

The Phils went in order in the seventh, with Pujols making a nice play on a ball hit hard by Francisco for the first out.

With righty Eduardo Sanchez on the mound for the Cardinals and the Phils down 3-1, Gload hit for Stutes to start the eighth and singled to center. Rollins hit into a double-play behind him. Polanco hit for Valdez and struck out looking for the third out.

Ibanez, Howard and Mayberry went in order in the ninth.

Rollins was 2-for-4 with a double in the game, which was the only extra-base hit for the Phils. His batting average for balls in play is .301 for the season.

Valdez was 0-for-3 with three men left on base. He’s hitting 214/225/271 against right-handed pitching for the year. The Phillies have now given him 460 plate appearances since the start of 2010 in which he has hit 252/297/344. He’s really not the guy you want hitting second.

Ibanez was 0-for-4 with a strikeout in his first action of the year hitting third. He’s 0-for-his-last-10.

Howard 0-for-1 with three walks. 0-for-his-last-9 with three walks.

Francisco 1-for-3 with an RBI. 108/327/108 over his last 50 plate appearances. He slugged .455 through April 27 and has slugged .146 in 55 plate appearances since.

Orr was 0-for-3. He’s slugging .298 for the year. Phillies second baseman have combined to hit 228/281/279 for the season, for a .560 OPS that’s the worst in the NL. The Fish were behind them last night before Omar Infante went 3-for-4.

Ruiz was 0-for-3. He’s 1-for-his-last-30 and hitting 033/211/033 over his last 38 plate appearances.

Roy Oswalt (3-1, 3.33) faces lefty Jaime Garcia (5-0, 1.89) tonight. Garcia finished third for NL Rookie of the Year last season and has allowed one run in 16 innings over his last two starts. He faced the Phillies twice in 2010 (May 3 and July 21, going 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA and a 1.00 ratio. Oswalt has made five starts on the year, going six innings in each of the first four and allowing two runs or less each time before allowing five runs in three innings against the Diamondbacks before hitting the DL after his April 26 start.

This says that Utley will not return this week, but that it’s likely he’ll be back in the majors before May 30.

Middle in absentia

The Phils managed to win one of three against the Braves this weekend, which was something of a remarkable feat given that they scored just five runs in the three games. The resurgent Ibanez went back into hiding, going 2-for-10 with a pair of singles in the three-game set. Howard, Francisco and Ibanez combined to go 4-for-29 in the series in the middle of the order for the Phils.

Cliff Lee struck out 16 in the first game, but the Phils lost 5-0 because Derek Lowe was even better. Lowe took a no-hitter into the seventh, where the Phils managed their only hits of the game, a single by Victorino and a double by Polanco. That put men on second and third for the Phils with nobody out, but Howard, Francisco and Ibanez all struck out in a row to keep the Phils off the board and down 3-0. Baez allowed a pair of runs in the top of the ninth as Atlanta extended their lead to 5-0.

Kendrick made his first start of the year in game two of the series and pitched well, going five shutout innings as the Phils won 3-0. Kendrick was backed up by four scoreless innings for the pen and Howard connected for a long home run in the fourth inning.

Hamels allowed three runs on a pair of home runs through seven innings last night before a pinch-hit home run by Eric Hinske off of Stutes extended the Atlanta lead to 5-1 in the eighth. Stutes and Mathieson were miserable in the game — they combined to allow two runs on three hits and four walks. The whole thing could have been a whole lot worse, but Baez bailed Mathieson out by getting a big double-play to end the eighth. The Phils managed a run in the bottom of the eighth, but lost the game 5-2.

The Phillies are 22-11 on the year after losing two of three to the Atlanta Braves this weekend.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk. Two of the five hits he allowed went for extra-bases, both home runs. He struck out nine. All three of the runs he allowed in the game came on home runs — after not allowing a home run in his first four starts of the year, he has allowed four in his last four starts.

Martin Prado led off the game with a single to right, but Sardinha threw him out trying to steal second as Jason Heyward struck out swinging to clear the bases. Chipper Jones grounded to third for the third out.

Hamels struck out Brian McCann for the first out of the second and got Dan Uggla on a ball hit to Victorino for the second. Freddie Freeman singled to right and then Alex Gonzalez hit a 2-1 pitch out to left to put Atlanta on top 2-0. Hamels struck Nate McLouth out for the third out.

He struck out pitcher Jair Jurrjens to start the third and got Prado and Heyward on ground balls behind him.

The lead was cut to 2-1 when he set the Braves down in order in the fourth, striking out Chipper and McCann before getting Uggla to pop to Rollins.

Hamels had thrown 53 pitches and struck out six through four innings.

Freeman led off the fifth with a home run to right that put Atlanta up 3-1. Hamels got Gonzalez on a ground out before McLouth reached on an infield single. Jurrjens tried to bunt him to second, but Hamels fielded the bunt and threw to second to start the double-play that set Atlanta down.

Hamels walked Prado to start the sixth, but struck out Heyward and Chipper behind him. McCann popped to Rollins for the third out.

He set Atlanta down in order in the seventh, striking out Uggla for the first out.

Stutes started the eighth and walked McLouth to start the inning. Lefty Eric Hinske hit for the pitcher Eric O’Flaherty and hit a 2-0 pitch out to right, putting Atlanta on top 5-1. Stutes got Prado for the first out, but then walked Heyward. Righty Scott Mathieson, called up when Oswalt hit the DL, came on to pitch to Chipper. Chipper hit a ground ball to third with Heyward forced at second for the second out. McCann moved Jones to second with a single, but Mathieson got Uggla to ground to third to end the frame.

Mathieson was back to start the ninth with the Phils down 5-2. Freeman led off with a single to left and Diory Hernandez bunted him to second with the first out. Mathieson walked McLouth behind him and switch-hitter Brooks Conrad hit for the pitcher Jonny Venters. Mathieson walked him, too, and the bases were loaded. Baez took over for Mathieson and got Prado to hit into a double-play to turn Atlanta away.

Mathieson was terrible in the game and not charged with a run. He allowed two hits and two walks in an inning and was bailed out when Baez induced the double-play. Mathieson threw 24 pitches in the game, Stutes 15 and Baez six.

The Phillies lineup against righty Jair Jurrjens went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Polanco (4) Howard (5) Francisco (6) Ibanez (7) Valdez (8) Sardinha. Valdez starts at second with the lefty Orr on the bench. Sardinha catches with the lefty Schneider on the bench.

Victorino doubled with one out in the first. Polanco was next and flew to center for the second out with Victorino tagging and moving up to third. Howard grounded to first to leave Victorino at third.

Down 2-0, Valdez doubled to left with two outs in the second, but Sardinha grounded to short behind him.

Rollins singled to right with one out in the third and moved to second when Victorino grounded out behind him. Polanco delivered a two-out hit, singling into center. Rollins scored to cut the lead to 2-1. Howard followed with a walk, but Francisco flew to center to leave both runners stranded.

With two outs in the fourth, Sardinha hit a ball well to left that landed on the track and hit the wall on a hop. Prado played it well to hold Sardinha to a long single. Hamels struck out on three pitches to leave him at first.

Two-out hit by Sardinha keeps Hamels from leading off the fifth. Jurrjens was at 61 pitches through four innings.

Down 3-1, the Phils went in order in the fifth.

Howard started the sixth with a single and Francisco bunted him to second. Ibanez lined a single into center, which moved Howard to third. Valdez hit into a double-play to end the inning.

The sacrifice by Francisco not enough for Howard to score from second on a single after it works.

Schneider hit for Sardinha to start the seventh and flew to right. Orr hit for Hamels and singled to left, but Eric O’Flaherty got Rollins to hit into a double-play behind Orr to end the inning.

The Phils were down 5-1 when they hit in the eighth. Victorino led off with a triple and came into score when Polanco followed with a single that was deflected by the pitcher Venters. 5-2 with nobody out and Polanco on first. Howard grounded to Uggla with Polanco forced at second for the first out. Francisco flew to center for the second before Ibanez moved Howard to second with a single. It brought Valdez to the plate as the tying run and with the lefty Venters on the mound, Mayberry hit for Valdez. Mayberry flew to center to leave the runners stranded.

Gload hit for Baez and singled with one out in the ninth. Rollins moved him to second with a walk, which brought Victorino to the plate as the tying run. Victorino struck out looking 1-2 for the second out. Polanco flew to center to end the game.

Rollins was 1-for-4 with a walk in the game and 2-for-10 with three walks in the series. He’s hitting 285/380/362 on the season. 333/455/444 on the year.

Victorino was 2-for-5 with a double and a triple yesterday. 4-for-13 with a double and two triples in the series. He has three walks in his last 66 plate appearances, but is hitting 293/356/511 for the year. His .511 slugging percentage leads the team.

Polanco was 2-for-5 with two RBI last night. 3-for-11 with a walk, a double and two RBI in the series. 366/411/473.

Howard was 1-for-3 with a walk in the game and 2-for-11 with a walk and a home run in the set. 5-for-his-last-31 with a home run, four singles, four walks and ten strikeouts. 268/338/504 for the season.

Francisco went 0-for-3 to drop his average on the year to .232. 0-for-8 with two walks in the series. 1-for-his-last-20 with seven walks. 232/341/384.

Ibanez was 2-for-4 last night and 2-for-10 with three strikeouts in the series. 212/276/336. Mayberry was 0-for-1 last night and 0-for-2 in the set.

Valdez was 1-for-3 with a double and hit into a double-play last night. 1-for-5 with a double in the series. 159/196/182 in his last 47 plate appearances. 247/282/296 for the year.

Orr was 1-for-1 last night, 1-for-5 with an RBI in the series and hitting 268/333/293 on the year.

Sardinha was 1-for-2 in the game and in the series. He’s 2-for-9 with the Phillies. Schneider 0-for-2 in the game and 1-for-8 in the series. He’s hitting 174/224/326 in 41 plate appearances for the season.

Joe Blanton (0-1, 5.92) faces righty Javier Vazquez (2-2, 6.39) tonight. Vazquez has allowed ten runs in 11 2/3 innings over his last two starts and hasn’t gotten an out in the seventh inning in six starts this year. He faced the Phils on April 15 and allowed three runs in five innings. Blanton allowed four runs in 14 innings in his two starts before hitting the DL.

Everybody sits, woo hoo

Placido Polanco is the latest Phillie to be sidelined. Polanco hyperextended his left elbow during yesterday’s game and is uncertain when he will return to spring action.

The Phils won the game, beating the Blue Jays 13-7.

Blanton got the start for the Phils and went four innings, allowing two runs on seven hits. He didn’t walk anyone and has now thrown to a 3.45 ERA with a 1.28 ratio in four starts.

Baez followed Blanton and allowed a run on a single and two walks to raise his spring ERA to 1.23. Madson allowed two runs in the sixth on two doubles and a pair of walks. He’s now allowed two runs in six innings while striking out 11. Romero allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in the seventh — those are also the first runs he has allowed this spring as well as the first walk. Contreras and Juan Perez each threw scoreless innings. Juan Perez now has a 1.69 ERA and 1.13 ratio in his 5 1/3 innings. He’s allowed just two hits but walked four.

Ibanez and Francisco both homered for the Phils. It was the second for Ibanez and third for Francisco. Francisco’s line is at 368/429/737 through 38 at-bats. He leads all Phillies with at least 10 plate appearances with an OPS of 1.165.

Michael Martinez was 2-for-2 with a double and three RBI. He still hasn’t drawn a walk yet, but he’s at 306/306/444 in 36 at-bats. Valdez drove in three runs as well, going 1-for-4 with a double. 455/514/636.

Barfield 0-for-3 to drop him to 417/429/583 in 24 at-bats. Mayberry played first and went 0-for-2. Young 0-for-2 and at 318/362/432 with a team-high 44 at-bats. Ruiz is hitting .143 after going 1-for-3 with a single.

No game today. Cliff Lee starts against the Blue Jays on Thursday.

This article from the Phillies web site suggests we bet on Utley to start the year on the DL. I think it would be tough to find someone who will take the other side of that bet. It also suggests that Pete Orr, Delwyn Young, Josh Barfield and Michael Martinez are competing for two bench slots. Still hoping for Young and Barfield, but Young and Martinez looks like the better guess at this point. Orr seems like a long shot compared to the rest of the group, although he has hit 296/296/593 in 27 at-bats. He can also play third, which might be attractive to the Phils if Polanco is going to miss significant time.

Martinez seems to have a huge advantage in that competition after being taken by the Phils in the Rule V draft.

K replay

Over the last three seasons, the Phillies have dramatically lowered the rate at which they strike out. Here’s the team’s rank in the National League for total strikeouts by their hitters over the past four seasons (where “16″ means the team whose batters struck out the most times that year and “1″ means the team whose batters struck out the least):

Year NL Rank Strikeouts
2007 14
2008 9
2009 8
2010 3

In 2007, only two teams, the Marlins and the Padres, struck out more than the Phillies. By 2010, only two teams struck out less (St Louis and Houston).

In 2007, NL hitters struck out in about 17.31% of their plate appearances. In 2010, it was about 19.31%. Here’s the list of Phillies in 2007 and 2010 that got at least 150 plate appearances and the percentage of the plate appearances in which they struck out.

’10 Player PA % SO % SO/%SO for league ’07 Player PA % SO % SO/%SO for league
Ryan Howard 620 25.3 1.31 Ryan Howard 648 30.7 1.77
Jayson Werth 652 22.5 1.17 Jayson Werth 304 24.0 1.39
Greg Dobbs 176 22.2 1.15 Wes Helms 308 20.1 1.16
Pat Burrell 598 20.1 1.16
Ben Francisco 197 17.8 0.92 Greg Dobbs 358 18.7 1.08
Raul Ibanez 636 17.0 0.88 Aaron Rowand 684 17.4 1.01
Carlos Ruiz 433 12.5 0.65
Chase Utley 511 12.3 0.64 Abraham Nunez 287 16.7 0.97
Shane Victorino 648 12.2 0.63 Tad Iguchi 156 14.7 0.85
Wilson Valdez 363 11.8 0.61 Chase Utley 613 14.5 0.84
Jimmy Rollins 394 8.1 0.42 Shane Victorino 510 12.2 0.70
Placido Polanco 602 7.8 0.40 Carlos Ruiz 429 11.4 0.66
Jimmy Rollins 778 10.9 0.63

So, in 2010, NL players overall struck out in a higher percentage of their plate appearances (19.31% to 17.31%). The overall strikeout rates for ’07 and ’10 regulars Howard, Werth, Utley and Rollins were all down in 2010 compared to 2007. The rate for Ruiz was up, but in both years he struck out less than an average NL hitter. For Victorino it was about the same and stayed low.

For Howard, especially, it’s important to note that while the strikeout rate for the league was going up, his was going down. So in 2007, when he struck out in about 30.7% of his plate appearances, that was almost 1.8 times as often as the league average. His rate was down to 25.3% in 2010, which was only about 1.3 times as often as the league average of 19.31%.

That leaves left field and third base.

In left field, the Phillies replaced Burrell, whose ’07 strikeout rate was above league average, with Ibanez. In 2010, Ibanez’s strikeout rate was below league average.

In 2007, Wes Helms, Greg Dobbs and Abraham Nunez all played at least 400 innings at third base for the Phillies. Dobbs and Helms both struck out more than the average for the league while Nunez was just below league average. In 2010, Polanco played about 75% of the innings at third for the Phils. There were two NL players who got 150 plate appearances in 2010 and struck out in a lower percentage of them than Polanco. Jeff Keppinger struck out in 6.3% of his 575 plate appearances and David Eckstein struck out in 7.1% of his 492.

Finally, Rollins struck out in about 8.1% of his plate appearances last year. There were only three NL players in 2010 that got 150 plate appearances and struck out less often than he did — Polanco, Eckstein and Keppinger.

This article suggests that Durbin could return to the Phils on a minor league contract. That would be great for the Phillies if it happened, but I sure would be surprised.

The article linked above also mentions that Bastardo continues to have problems with his arm and a stomach illness and will not throw in any of the first five Grapefruit League games.

Elbow gloom

Placido Polanco started 2010 on a roll. He went 3-for-5 with a home run and six RBI on opening day and was hitting 397/403/586 for the year at the start of the day on April 21 . He didn’t make it through that game, though. He was drilled on the elbow by a Tim Hudson pitch and suffered an injury that would impact the rest of his season.

Polanco was able to stay on the field through most of the year and contributed several key hits in the post-season before off-season surgery at the end of last month. He wasn’t hitting .397 or slugging .586 anymore by the time the year came to an end, though. The Phils put him on the DL on June 26 and he returned on July 17. From July 21 to the end of the season, Polanco hit 280/331/345 over 321 plate appearances. Things seemed to get worse as the season progressed and any power he had was all but drained. From August 18 to the end of the regular season, Polanco got 181 plate appearances in which he hit 241/306/290.

That’s all about the injury, though, and we should expect him back pounding the ball again in 2011. Right?

Maybe so. But my problem with that is this: Polanco’s numbers from 2010 and his numbers from 2009 look awfully similar:

’09 DET 675 285 331 396 727
’10 PHI 602 298 339 386 726

Tim Hudson might have ruined his 2010 season by hitting him with a pitch, but it’s harder to see how that ruined his 2009 season. Polanco walked at nearly identical rates in ’09 and ’10 — 5.33% in ’09 and 5.32% in ’10. He hit more singles in 2010 than in 2009, but delivered fewer extra-base hits and the ones he did deliver went for fewer bases. The 2010 season continued a downward trend for Polanco in terms of how regularly he’s delivered extra-base hits and how good they are when they come:

Year PA per XBH TB per XBH
2007 13.4 2.44
2008 14.0 2.42
2009 15.0 2.53
2010 17.2 2.40

Polanco hit ten home runs for the Tigers in 2009, which is the most he has hit since hitting 17 in 2004. That helped him shoot his total bases per extra-base hit up in 2009. Everything else on that list is bad, though, as the extra-base hits are definitely getting less and less frequent.

This suggests that Werth could be looking for seven years, $120 million. I don’t think he’s going to get that, but I’m close to 100% sure he’s not going to get it from the Phillies.

This article suggests the Phils, Nationals, Angels, Tigers and Red Sox may be the teams most interested in trying to land Werth. The Nationals? That would be surprising to me.

Jamie Moyer hurt his elbow again and talks about his time with the Phillies in the past tense. Moyer is a free agent and hoped to pitch in 2011.

John Mayberry strained his calf after just one game in the AFL. The same article says that Domonic Brown and David Herndon will report for winter ball next week.

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