Jamie Moyer and Tom Gordon are old. Really old. Someday soon they’re going to be too old to play or at least too old to help a major league team. It might even be today. I don’t know. But I do know it wasn’t yesterday.
Moyer gave the Phils his second strong start in his last two outings. Gordon came on in the seventh with runners on first and third and nobody out and worked a near miracle to keep the Brewers off the board. It kept the game close enough that Burrell’s latest heroics, a two-run double in the eighth, made the Phillies winners for the fourth time in their last five games.
It’s tempting to say that everything is going well for the Phils. But the impressive thing is that it isn’t. The team misses Jimmy Rollins. Ryan Howard looks terrible at the plate and the results are just as bad. Every day the Phils put a whole crew of hitters on the field that just can’t get on base. Somehow the Phils are fighting through, though, with a list of things that are going well that’s a lot shorter than the list of things going wrong. The pen, Utley and Burrell are just out of this world. In addition to what Utley is doing with the bat, after a start to the season where he struggled to make the routine plays at second base it now seems like not a day passes without a brilliant defensive contribution.
Jayson Werth also deserves mention on the short list of Phillies’ hitters that are playing well. Werth bounced back from a wretched game on Wednesday yesterday, hammering ball out to center for one of his two hits. He also made a fantastic play in center, backing up Burrell and helping the Phils throw out a runner trying to stretch a leadoff double into a triple.
The Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers yesterday, winning 3-1 to improve to 12-11 on the year. The teams split the two-game set.
Moyer got the start for the Phillies and went six innings, allowing a run on eight hits and three walks. Three of the hits went for extra-bases, all doubles. He struck out four. He’s allowed three runs over 12 innings over his last two starts and his ERA is down to 4.05.
Rickie Weeks led off the first and drew a walk, but Moyer picked him off and he was tagged out after a throw down to Bruntlett for the first out. Moyer struck out Gabe Kapler for the first out before Ryan Braun hit a long fly ball to left that went off the glove of Burrell for a double. Braun stole third, but Moyer got Prince Fielder to fly to center for the third out.
Bill Hall singled with one out in the second, but Moyer got the next two.
Weeks walked with one out in the third. Kapler followed with a ground out to third that moved Weeks to second and Braun followed and singled into center. Weeks scored to put the Brewers up 1-0. Fielder popped to third for the third out.
Corey Hart led off the fourth and ripped a double into left field. Burrell misplayed it and it rolled to the wall, but Werth backed it up brilliantly. Hart tried to go to third but was nailed for the first out of the inning. Bad idea by Hart and it cost the Brewers a run cause Hall followed with a single into center. Hall was picked off of first by Moyer with Dobbs again throwing to Bruntlett to apply the tag. Moyer had gotten 11 outs at this point, two on pickoffs and one on Hart trying to stretch a double into a triple. JJ Hardy walked with two outs, turning over the lineup, but Suppan struck out to end the inning.
Jason Kendall led off the fifth with a line drive snared by a diving Utley for the first out. Moyer got Weeks and Kapler behind him to end the inning.
Moyer started the sixth with the score tied at 1-1. Ryan Braun led off with a single. Fielder hit a high foul ball near the third base dugout and Feliz made a nice play leaning over the railing for the first out. Hart hit into a double-play to end the inning.
Hall started the seventh with a double and moved to third when Hardy followed with a single to left. It put men on first and third with nobody out for the pitcher’s spot and, with a short bench, it looked like the Brewers were going to let Suppan hit for himself. Gordon relieved Moyer and lefty Tony Gwynn Jr hit for Suppan. Gordon struck him out on three pitches for the first out. Kendall was next and he walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Weeks was caught looking at a 1-2 pitch for the second out. Kapler grounded to short to end the inning.
Just a fantastic job by Gordon to work out of first and third with nobody out.
JC Romero started the eighth with a 3-1 lead. He got Braun and Fielder to start the inning before Madson came in to pitch to the righty Hart. Hart has killed lefties this season, but I was still surprised to see Manuel make the change mid-inning with a two-run lead. All that said, I think it was a good move. Hart grounded to second to end the inning.
Lidge came on in the ninth to protect the two-run lead. He got Hall and Hardy on popups before lefty Craig Counsell hit for the pitcher’s spot and singled. It brought Kendall to the plate as the tying run. Kendall got ahead 2-0 before he flew to Bohn in shallow left to end the game.
Three more scoreless innings for the pen as they allow one hit and one walk. That makes it 15 innings in a row without being charged a run. Fifth save for Lidge, who keeps his ERA at 0.00.
Gordon and Lidge both threw 15 pitches. Romero eight and Madson six.
The Phillies’ lineup against righty Jeff Suppan went (1) Werth (2) Dobbs (3) Utley (4) Burrell (5) Jenkins (6) Feliz (7) Bruntlett (8) Ruiz. Howard on the bench after 0-for-his-last-8 is the story here. Dobbs plays first with Feliz at third. Werth plays center and leads off while Bruntlett moves ahead of Ruiz and into the seven spot. Coste still can’t get into the game. Burrell moves into the cleanup spot with Howard out of the game. This says that Howard won’t be in the lineup tonight against lefty Zach Duke in Pittsburgh.
Werth singled to start the first, but Dobbs grounded into a double-play behind him. Utley flew to right for the third out.
Burrell walked to start the second. Jenkins struck out behind him before Feliz hit into a double-play.
Bruntlett led off the third and singled into center. Ruiz followed and hit into a double-play, the third the Phils had hit into in 2 2/3 innings. Moyer struck out looking for the third out.
Dobbs walked with one out in the fourth and Utley moved him to second with an infield single with an assist to Weeks. Burrell flew to right and Jenkins grounded to second.
The Phils went 1-2-3 in the fifth.
Werth hit an 0-1 pitch out to center with one out in the sixth, tying the game at 1-1. Dobbs grounded to second for the second out before Utley singled. Burrell moved Utley to second with a walk, but Jenkins flew to left to end the frame with both runners stranded. Four men left on base in three innings for Jenkins.
The Phils went 1-2-3 in the seventh.
Howard hit for Gordon to start the eighth with righty David Riske on the mound. Howard struck out and Werth followed with another strikeout before Dobbs drew a walk. Utley was next and he singled to left, moving Dobbs to second. Burrell followed and doubled to left, both runners scored to put the Phils up 3-1. It gave Burrell 24 RBI in April, which is a new team record. Bohn ran for Burrell at second. Jenkins grounded to second for the third out with lefty Brian Shouse on the mound for Milwaukee. The Brewers let lefties Dobbs and Utley hit against the righty Riske and they hurt him. They did bring in Shouse to pitch to Jenkins, but it was a little late. Interesting that they left him in with Burrell hitting fourth — if Howard had been in the four hole they almost certainly would have brought Shouse in earlier with three lefties in a row.
Bruntlett singled with one out in the ninth. Ruiz followed and was hit by a pitch, putting men on first and second for Howard. Howard had a miserable at-bat, striking out again, this time on four pitches. Werth grounded to third for the third out.
Werth was 2-for-5 with his fourth home run yesterday. 3-for-10 with a double in the series and 8-for-his-last-24 with two doubles and three home runs. 300/391/567 on the year.
Dobbs was 0-for-2 and walked twice after coming into the game without a walk on the season. 2-for-5 with a home run in the series. He has raised his average from .200 to .355 by going 8-for-his-last-16. 355/412/581.
Utley was 3-for-4. 5-for-7 with a home run in the series. 385/453/835 on the year.
Burrell was 1-for-2 with two walks and a double. 2-for-6 with a home run in the series. 355/474/750 on the year.
Jenkins was 0-for-4 with a strikeout and left six men on base. 0-for-7 in the series and 225/276/324 on the year. He could really give the Phils a boost with Rollins out, but he’s been struggling. 1-for-his-last-10 with a single and four strikeouts.
Ditto Feliz, who was 0-for-4 yesterday. 0-for-6 in the series. 213/280/373.
Bruntlett was 2-for-4 yesterday. 3-for-8 in the set and 207/258/276 for the season.
Ruiz was 0-for-3 yesterday and 1-for-7 in the series. 194/242/242 on the year. Coste did not get an at-bat in the series and is hitting 370/469/704 on the year.
Howard was 0-for-2 and struck out twice. 0-for-6 with four strikeouts in the series. 176/297/341.
Taguchi walked in his only plate appearance of the series and is hitting 241/290/310 for the year.
Five Phillies regulars are on-basing under .300 for the season: Jenkins, Howard, Bruntlett, Ruiz and Feliz. So is Taguchi.
Given the large numbers of Phillies struggling to hit, I think they need to find a way to keep Dobbs’ bat in the lineup despite the weak defense. I don’t think giving Howard another night off tonight against the lefty is a bad idea. Howard is sure to get hot and when he does he isn’t going to carry the team for a few days, he can carry it for a month. But right now he looks awful. I’m surprised how much time Coste is spending on the bench with so few Phils hitting.
Adam Eaton (0-0, 4.74) faces lefty Zach Duke (0-1, 4.37) tonight in Pittsburgh. Duke was hit hard by the Cubs in his last outing, which came in Chicago on Sunday. In that start he allowed five runs on eight hits over four innings. Opponents are hitting .347 against him, although he hasn’t walked many, just six in 22 2/3 innings. He has struck out only seven batters on the year but hasn’t allowed a home run. He didn’t face the Phils last year. Eaton has been really good this season coming off a miserable 2007. Opponents are hitting just .267 against him after hitting .301 last season. In ’07 he good killed by the long ball, giving up 30 in 161 2/3 innings — he comes into tonight’s start having allowed just one in his first 24 2/3 innings. Eaton didn’t face the Pirates last year.