Tag: Rafael Furcal

Maybe what they’ve been trying to say about Burrell is he’s good for 30 good swings a post-season

That would make a little more sense.

Pat Burrell may have a one-path swing, but the path apparently goes right through the playoffs. Burrell blasted his third home run in two games last night, a game-winner for the Phils. Over the last two games the Phillies have scored nine runs and Burrell has driven in five of them. After ending the regular season in a long slump, Burrell sure chose a splendid time to pick things up again. He’s 5-for-his-last-7 with a walk.

The Phillies won game one of the NLCS last night, a game that was similar to the first game of the Division Series against the Brewers. Again Cole Hamels pitched very well, again the Phils scored three runs with all of the runs coming in one inning and again the inning they scored in was aided by a defensive miscue by their opponent.

Derek Lowe and his sinker kept the Phils in check through five innings and Lowe started the sixth up 2-0. Victorino led off the sixth with a ground ball to short and his speed made Rafael Furcal hurry a little too much. Furcal’s throw to first was wild and Victorino wound up on second on the error. That opened the door for the Phils. Utley popped one out to right to tie the game. Two batters later Burrell homered to left to put them up to stay.

Hamels was fantastic for his second straight start of the playoffs, holding the Dodgers to a pair of runs over seven innings. One of the runs scored with the help of a check-swing double down the right-field line to start the fourth. Madson and Lidge again were both fantastic, protecting a one-run lead in the eighth and the ninth.

The Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers last night, winning game one of the best-of-seven NLCS 3-2. Game two is this afternoon.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, all doubles. He struck out eight.

The Dodger lineup against Hamels went (1) Furcal (SS/S) (2) Ethier (RF/L) (3) Ramirez (LF/R) (4) Martin (C/R) (5) Loney (1B/L) (6) Kemp (CF/R) (7) Blake (3B/R) (8) DeWitt (2B/L). Lefties Loney and DeWitt in the lineup with Garciaparra and Kent on the bench for the Dodgers. Ethier, hitting second, is likely to drop against righties.

The Dodgers started the game with six hitters on their bench: Kent (R), Berroa (R), Ardoin (R), Ozuna (R), Garciaparra (R) and Pierre (L).

Hamels got Furcal to ground a 1-1 pitch to short for the first out in the first. Ethier was next and he lined a 1-1 pitch into left-center. Burrell cut it off before it got to the track, but Ethier had a double. Manny tried to check his swing on a high fastball to start his at-bat, but couldn’t hold up. He hammered the next pitch to center. It hit high off the wall in center and missed going out by about a foot. Ramirez had a double with Ethier scoring easily to put LA up 1-0. Martin went down swinging at a high fastball for the second out before Hamels walked Loney on a 3-2 pitch low and away. The first pitch to Kemp was up and away and off of Ruiz’s glove for a passed ball that moved the runners to second and third with two down. Kemp flew to right on a 2-1 pitch to set the Dodgers down.

First chance for the Phils not to pitch to Manny with one out and a man on second. They pitch to him and it costs them. I would have pitched to him, too.

Twenty-three pitches in the first inning for Hamels.

He came back with a quick 1-2-3 second. He struck Blake out on three pitches, got DeWitt to fly to left on a 2-1 pitch and got Lowe looking at a 2-2 breaking ball. Twelve more pitches put Hamels at 35.

Furcal grounded to short to start the third. Ethier was next and hit a 1-1 pitch hard to first where Howard tried to backhand the ball but misplayed it. The ball went off of Howard’s body and Ethier had a single, his second hit of the game. Hamels got Ramirez to pop to short for the second out, but walked Martin on five pitches to put men on first and second with two down. Loney was next and got ahead 2-0, but Hamels came back with three straight strikes to get him swinging to leave both runners stranded. Twenty pitches in the inning for Hamels. 55.

Kemp led off the fourth and swung at the first pitch. He got jammed badly, popping a ball down the right field line. It landed just inside the line and bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. Blake grounded a 2-2 pitch to short for the first out with Kemp taking third. Kemp taking third on the ground out proved to be critical in the inning for LA, because DeWitt was next and flew to center deep enough to score him and put LA up 2-0. Lowe grounded to first to end the frame. Twelve more pitches for Hamels had him at 67 through four innings.

Great base-running by Kemp to go to third on the ground ball to short and it got the Dodgers a run. Unfortunate way to give up a run with the silly double by Kemp to start the inning.

Furcal tried to bunt early in the count to start the fifth before he grounded to short for the third time in the game for the first out. Hamels got Ethier for the first time next, striking him out swinging at a pretty 2-2 changeup. Manny followed with a single into center, but Hamels left him stranded by getting Martin looking 1-2 for the third out. Seventeen pitches for Hamel in the inning and 84 for the game.

Loney led off the sixth and lined a 2-1 pitch into left for a single. Kemp was next and grounded an 0-1 pitch to short, where Rollins started a double-play to clear the bases. Blake grounded an 0-1 pitch to short for the third out. Just eight pitches in the sixth for Hamels. He was at 92 for the game.

Hamels started the seventh with a 3-2 lead. He got behind DeWitt 3-1, but came back to strike him out swinging. Jeff Kent hit for the pitcher Chan Ho Park and swung out swinging at a 1-2 fastball for the second out. Furcal was next and hit a ground ball back up the middle that went off of Hamels but right to Rollins. Rollins threw Furcal out for the third out. Thirteen pitches for Hamels in the inning had Hamels at 105.

Madson started the eighth with a one-run lead. Ethier led off and Madson struck him out swinging at a 1-2 changeup that was low and away. Manny lined the first pitch of his at-bat to third for the second out. Martin smashed a 1-0 pitch down the third base line, under the glove of Feliz and off his toe. Burrell, who was probably only in the game because he was due to hit fourth in the bottom of the inning, got to it quickly, holding Martin to a single. It brought up the lefty Loney and Madson stayed in to pitch to him with lefties Eyre and Romero in the pen. Loney chopped a grounder to second to set the Dodgers down.

Worked out great for the Phillies, but I think you need to bring a lefty in to pitch to Loney as the go-ahead run there. After being a critical component of the pen all season, Romero has thrown one pitch in the post-season and Eyre was the Phillie lefty warming late in the game.

Huge inning for Madson against the heart of the order with a one-run lead.

Lidge started the ninth for the Phils. Kemp drove a ball into right-center, but Victorino took it in front of the warning track for the first out. Lidge bounced a 2-2 pitch to Blake in front of the plate. Blake fouled off a 3-2 pitch before he flew to Victorino in center at the track for the second out. The lefty DeWitt was next and took ball one before he flailed at two sliders. The 1-2 pitch was in the dirt. DeWitt swung and missed and the ball got away from Ruiz, but Ruiz pounced on it and threw DeWitt out at first to end the game.

Lidge has looked fantastic since game one of the NLDS and looked to be in complete control again last night.

Two scoreless innings for the Phillies pen. They allowed one hit, the single by Martin off of Madson, and struck out two. Lidge threw 13 pitches and Madson threw ten.

The LA pen went 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing one hit, the infield single by Ruiz off of Maddux. They didn’t strike anyone out or walk anyone. None of Kuo, Maddux or Park threw more than ten pitches.

The Phillies lineup against righty Derek Lowe went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Werth (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Werth (7) Feliz (8) Ruiz. Feliz at third with the lefty Dobbs on the bench — Dobbs would help a Phillies offense struggling to put up runs. Ruiz behind the plate — the Phillies have now played eight playoff games in the past two years and Ruiz has started all eight of them. Ruiz caught Hamels most of the time during the regular season, he was behind the plate for about 79% of the batters he faced.

The Phils started the game with six players on their bench: Coste (R), Taguchi (R), Bruntlett (R), Dobbs (L), Stairs (L) and Jenkins (L).

Rollins led off the first and took strike one before he popped to first. Victorino took strike one before he grounded a 1-1 pitch to second. Utley took strike one before he singled into center. It brought up Howard with a man on first and the Phils down 1-0. Howard got ahead 2-0 and then hit a 3-2 pitch hard on the ground towards right field, but DeWitt made a nice sliding play to field the ball and threw Howard out to end the inning.

Burrell led off the second and fouled off two 3-2 pitches before he singled into left. Ramirez made a nice play to cut the ball off before it got to the wall, but he would have had to fall down to allow Burrell to go to second. Werth got ahead 3-0, but took strike one and then grounded a double-play ball to second that cleared the bases. Feliz walked looking at a 3-2 pitch low and away to put a man on for Ruiz with two outs, but Ruiz grounded to short for the third out.

Tough result for Werth after getting ahead 3-0. The double-play killed the inning.

Lowe got three ground balls in a 1-2-3 third. Hamels grounded to first, Rollins grounded to second for the first two outs. Victorino hit a ground ball to first and Loney tossed to Lowe covering the ball — Victorino and Lowe both went down in a mini-collision, but both got up looking okay.

Utley went down swinging 2-2 for the first out in the fourth with the Phils down 2-0. Howard was next and he hit a 2-2 pitch slowly to second. DeWitt was playing deep on the shift and had to come way in, barehand the ball and throw to first to get Howard for the second out. Second time DeWitt had made a nice play at second to keep Howard off base. Burrell struck out swinging 2-2 to end the inning.

Werth hit a ball down the third base line to start the fifth, but Blake fielded and made the long throw across the infield for the first out. Feliz grounded an 0-1 pitch to short for the second out. Ruiz got behind 0-2, but hit a 1-2 pitch into right for a single. Hamels was next with two outs and a man on first, and he lined a single into right-center. Ruiz went to second and it brought up Rollins with two outs and two men on. Lowe seemed bothered by Ruiz on second and worried about Ruiz relaying signals to the batter. Rollins got ahead 2-1, but hit a 3-2 pitch into left that Manny took in front of the warning track to leave both runners stranded.

Lowe had thrown 75 pitches through five innings.

Victorino led off the sixth with a ground ball to short. Furcal hurried his throw to try and beat the speedy Victorino, but his throw was high and off the glove of Loney for an error. Victorino took second. Utley hit the first pitch of his at-bat just out to right, tying the game at 2-2. Howard grounded to first for the first out. Burrell took three straight balls before Lowe got one over. The 3-1 pitch had way too much of the plate and Burrell hammered it out to left, putting the Phillies up 3-2. For Burrell it was his third home run (and fifth hit) in his last seven at-bats. That was the end of the night for Lowe and the righty Chan Ho Park came in to pitch to Werth. Park got Werth to pop a 1-2 pitch into center for the second out. Feliz was next and chopped a 2-1 pitch to third. Blake made a fantastic play, bare-handing the ball and throwing him out to set the Phils down.

After the runner on second was clearly a factor for Lowe in the fifth, you have you wonder if Victorino on second was in Lowe’s head when he served up the home run to Utley.

Greg Maddux started the seventh for LA. Ruiz led off and hit a 2-2 pitch in the hole between short and third. Furcal fielded and threw to first, but Ruiz hustled down the line and beat it out for a single. Dobbs was in the on-deck circle, but after Ruiz got on Taguchi hit for Hamels. He bunted at the first pitch and popped it up to Loney for the first out. Rollins was next and hit a ball back up the middle and under the glove of Maddux. DeWitt made another nice play at second, fielding the ball with his momentum taking him to the shortstop side of second, then tagging the base and throwing to first to double-up Rollins and end the inning. Rollins was safe, but it’s was a nice play by DeWitt anyway.

Terrible decision by Manuel to play for one run and hit Taguchi for Hamels with nobody out and a man on first if it worked. It didn’t. Three good left-handed hitters on the bench for the Phils in Dobbs, Stairs and Jenkins. Yuck.

Lefty Hong-Chih Kuo started the eighth for the Dodgers. Victorino led off and looped a soft liner to DeWitt at second for the first out. Utley grounded a 2-0 pitch to first for the second out. Howard flew to center on a 2-1 pitch for the third out.

Kuo gets the job done in round one of the LA pen against Utley and Howard. Interesting that he was the first choice for the duty ahead of Beimel.

Rollins was 0-for-4, hit into a double-play and left three men on base.

Victorino was 0-for-4, but his ground ball to short in the sixth and the Furcal error sparked a Phillies rally.

Utley was 2-for-4 with a two-run homer.

Howard 0-for-4, a victim of some nice defense by DeWitt.

Burrell was 2-for-3 with a home run.

Werth 0-for-3.

Feliz 0-for-2 with a walk.

Ruiz 2-for-3.

Brett Myers (10-13, 4.55) faces righty Chad Billingsley (16-10, 3.14) this afternoon. Billingsley was seventh in the NL in ERA this season and fifth in strikeouts. He allowed just 14 home runs in 200 2/3 innings on the season. The 24-year-old was much better against righties than lefties, though. Righties hit 225/283/338 against him while lefties hit 274/369/391. He gave up 80 walks this season, which was eighth in the NL. Fifty of the walks were issued to left-handed hitters, only Ubaldo Jimenez and Ian Snell walked more lefties in the NL this season.

He started game two of the NLDS against the Cubs in Chicago and pitched very well, allowing a run on five hits over 6 2/3 while striking out seven. The Dodgers have won six of the last seven games that he has started.

Billingsley faced the Phils once this season, on August 25, and allowed three runs over six innings. Rollins was 3-for-3 with a double and a triple against him in that game as the Phils rolled to a 5-0 win behind Myers. Billingsley walked five in the game, which tied his season-high.

Burrell has ten at-bats against him for his career, he’s 3-for-10 (.300) with two doubles. Feliz is 4-for-12 (.333). Rollins had been 0-for-6 against him before three hits in the game in August.

Myers came of miserable starts back-to-back to throw a gem in game two of the NLDS against the Brewers. After a rocky first inning in which he walked in a run, Myers was awesome. He ended the game having allowed two runs on a pair of hits and three walks over seven innings.

He faced the Dodgers in the August 25 game, getting the start against Billingsley and earning the win by throwing seven shutout innings in which he struck out eight. He also faced LA on August 14, allowing three runs over seven but striking out eight as the Phillies fell 3-1. Matt Kemp homered off of him in that game.

Furcal, Kent and Pierre have all seen Myers a lot over their careers. Furcal is 6-for-28 (.214) with a double. Pierre 13-for-40 with a double (.325). Kent has hit him the hardest, 7-for-19 (.368) with a double, a triple and a home run. Manny is 3-for-19 (.158) with two doubles and a home run — Ramirez hit a grand slam off of Myers on June 26, 2005.

Update: No matter what the Phillies do this afternoon, the worst news of the day is that Chalie Manuel’s mother died this morning.

Who says nobody walks in LA?

Here’s a look at eight key Dodgers hitters, what they did in the NLDS and what they did at the end of the regular season:

Player NLDS 9/15/08 to
end of regular season
Manny Ramirez 5-for-10 (.500) 4 BB, 2 HR 17-for-39 (436/551/769)
1.320 OPS 3 HR, 2 2B, 10 BB
Russell Martin 4-for-13 (.308) 3 2B, 1 HR 5
12-for-34 (353/511/500)
1.011 OPS 2 2B, 1 HR, 11 BB
Matt Kemp 2-for-13 (.154) 2 2B, 5 K 17-for-49 (347/396/531) 
.927 OPS 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 4 BB
Blake DeWitt 3-for-11 (.273) 2 2B 11-for-40 (275/415/425) .840
OPS 2 HR, 10 BB
Andre Ethier 1-for-10 (.100) 4 BB 14-for-41 (341/451/390) .841
OPS 2 2B, 9 BB
Rafael Furcal 4-for-12 (.333) 3 BB 2-for-9 (222/300/222) .522
Casey Blake 3-for-11 (.273) 2 RBI 9-for-41 (220/304/390) .694
OPS 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR
James Loney 3-for-14 (.214) 1 2B, 1 HR,
9-for-47  (191/220/277) 
.497 OPS

I think there are two big things to remember when you consider the LA offense these days. Neither are real encouraging for the Phillies.

The first bad news for the Phillies is that the players who have hurt the LA offense this season, generally speaking, aren’t playing any more. Berroa and Pierre were both on the bench for the NLDS and both had one at-bat. Andruw Jones is on the DL. Kent wasn’t nearly as bad as the rest of that group, but he also had just one at-bat against the Cubs.

The other bad news is maybe even a little worse: all of the sudden the Dodgers are walking at a tremendous rate. LA led both leagues in walks in September. They drew 124 in 25 games, about 4.96 per game. In their first 137 games through the end of August, they drew 419 walks in 137 games, about 3.06 walks per game. Looking at the numbers from September 15 to the end of the regular season, Ethier, Ramirez, DeWitt and Martin all drew at least nine walks.

I feel pretty comfortable saying that if the Phillies walk five batters per game in the series they are going to lose.

Looking at the eight position players for the Dodgers, Ramirez and Martin both came into the series with the Cubs hot and stayed hot. Blake and Loney came in cold. Loney had just two hits in the series but drove in six runs. Blake managed three singles in 11 at-bats. Ethier and Kemp both came into the series playing well but cooled down against Chicago, combining to go 3-for-23. Furcal is 6-for-21 since coming off the DL. DeWitt was hitting well coming into the series and went 3-for-11 with a pair of doubles.

Here’s what the Phillies likely to see the most time on the field in the NLCS did against the Brewers and at the end of the regular season:


9/15/08 to end of regular season

Shane Victorino
5-for-14 (.357)
3 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 3 SB
(422/435/689) 1.124 OPS 3 2B, 1 HR, 5 RBI 3 SB

Greg Dobbs
3-for-5 (.600)
(429/467/857) 1.324 OPS 3 2B, 1 HR

Jayson Werth
5-for-16 (.313)
3 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 6 K
(250/280/417) .697 OPS 2 2B, 2 HR, 15 K

Jimmy Rollins
6-for-16 (.375)
2 2B, 1 HR
(250/365/364) .729 OPS 5 2B, 7 BB
3-for-12 (.250)
2 BB, 2 HR
(216/333/459) .792 OPS 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 BB

Ryan Howard
2-for-11 (.182)
1 2B, 5 BB
(350/429/775) 1.204 OPS 1 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR

Chase Utley
2-for-15 (.133)
1 2B
(310/400/548) .948 OPS 4 2B, 2 HR

Carlos Ruiz
1-for-14 (.071) 4-for-28
(143/306/286) .592 OPS 1 2B, 1 HR

Pedro Feliz
3-for-13 (.231)
1 2B
(186/313/333) .646 OPS 1 2B, 1 HR

Howard and Utley, curiously, both didn’t do much after coming into the NLDS hitting well. Dobbs seems likely to see more time at third base as Feliz continues to struggle. Ruiz is a mess at the plate. Burrell came into the series with the Brewers in a slump that continued until he had three hits and four RBI in game four. Rollins and Werth both scuffled their way into the NLDS, but hit well in it. Werth struck out six times, though, and has stuck out 21 times since September 15. Strikeout king Ryan Howard, by comparison, has struck out 13 times since September 15.

One Manny gang

Here’s a look at some of the season numbers for the Dodgers and the Phils:

Runs scored
(NL rank)
799 (T-2) 700 (13)
Runs allowed 680 (3) 648 (1)
Starter ERA 4.23 (7) 3.87 (3)
Pen ERA 3.19 (1) 3.33 (2)

The Phillies had a fantastic offense, but were also among the best teams in the league at preventing runs. Their starters were in the middle of the pack, but, using ERA as the measure, nobody had a better bullpen. Los Angeles, on the other hand, was the best team in the league at preventing runs. The Dodgers starters and relievers both were tremendous. The team just couldn’t hit.

And then came Manny.

Manny Ramirez played his first game for the Dodgers on August 1 and hit an amazing 396/489/743 in 187 at-bats for LA. He hit 415/508/736 in August and 370/465/753 in September.

Here’s what the Dodgers did in their games this year before Ramirez arrived and after he arrived:




Pre-Manny (before 8/1/08)




Post-Manny (8/1/08 and after)




So they were better after Manny. A lot better. Still not scoring runs at the rate of the Phillies, but a lot better. The Phillies scored 799 runs in 162 games this season, about 4.93 a game, which is better than the 4.63 runs per game that the Dodgers scored in September, their best offensive month with Ramirez.

Manny was arguably better in August than in September (although he was amazing both months). Here’s what the Dodgers’ offense did in those two months and how it compared to the other teams in the NL

  Games R NL Rank R R/G
August 29 115 T-10 3.97
September 25 135 3 5.40

Remembering that Manny was a monster in August, hitting 415/508/736 in 106 at-bats, the Dodgers were still a bad offensive team. They scored 3.97 runs per game in August, worse than the 4.17 runs per game they scored in the 108 games before Ramirez arrived.

The point is this: The Dodgers had some miserable hitters this season. And if you put enough struggling hitters out there every day you can put yourself in a position where Manny is not enough. Loney, Kent, DeWitt and Pierre all got at least 350 at-bats and put up an OPS+ of under 100 for the Dodgers this season. The Phillies had one (Feliz). Angel Berroa got 226 at-bats for the Dodgers and hit a miserable 230/304/310. Andruw Jones hit 158/256/249 and got 209 at-bats before he was lost for the season in September.

Manny Ramirez can’t make up for all those guys.

In September, the Dodgers’ offense was a lot better. As if to illustrate the point, though, it wasn’t all Ramirez. Despite Ramirez’s 370/465/753 line, Andre Ethier was arguably even better. Ethier hit 462/557/692 in 78 at-bats in September.

Among NL players that had at least 75 plate appearances in September, Ethier’s 1.249 OPS was second best and Ramirez’s 1.218 was third. Ryan Howard led the NL with a 1.274.

But if the good news for the Phillies is that the LA offense isn’t all about Manny, the bad news is that the non-Manny component has recently received a tremendous upgrade. The Dodgers got Rafael Furcal back from the DL on September 24, taking the position back from the weak-hitting Berroa. Furcal got just 142 at-bats this season, but hit a remarkable 359/442/577 — his 1.019 OPS for the season was, by a wide margin, the best mark for any player that got at least 150 plate appearances as a shortstop in either league.

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