Tag: Tampa Bay Rays

Hamels hoping they send him to the Galaxy Series next after Earth people prove to be amusing but a bit weak and ineffectual

I guess there’s not much to do but wait to hear from the mother ship. The waiting is the hardest part.

It sure seems like if Cole Hamels pitched enough games in the post-season one of them would have to be bad. That’s probably the case, but it hasn’t happened yet. With another brilliant start last night, Hamels pitched the Phillies to an early lead in the World Series. He’s thrown to a 1.55 ERA while going 4-0 in four starts against some of baseball’s best teams this post-season.

The Phillies needed him to be just about perfect. Their offense failed time and time again build on the slim lead Chase Utley gave them with his first inning home run. Ryan Howard had a game at the plate that stuck out like a sore thumb, and that’s saying something given that Jimmy Rollins went 0-for-5 and left five men on base.

Hamels exited after seven strong innings with the Phils clinging to a one-run lead, but they handed that lead off to the steadiest of hands. If there’s anyone on the Phillies who have been as good as Hamels this post-season, it’s the late-inning combo of Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge. After two more perfect innings last night, the pair has now been charged with two earned runs in 18 1/3 innings (0.98 ERA) in the playoffs while striking out 19.

The Phillies beat the Tampa Bay Rays last night, winning 3-2. They lead the World Series one game to none.

Hamels got the start for the Phillies and went seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. Two of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and a home run. He struck out five.

He faced a Tampa Bay lineup that went (1) Akinori Iwamura (2B/L) (2) BJ Upton (CF/R) (3) Carlos Pena (1B/L) (4) Evan Longoria (3B/R) (5) Carl Crawford (LF/L) (6) Willy Aybar (DH/S) (7) Dioner Navarro (C/S) (8) Ben Zobrist (RF/S) (9) Jason Bartlett (SS/R). The Rays lineup pretty much stays the same one through five for righties and lefties, which means against left-handed starters they have three hitters in the first five that are weak against lefties plus Upton and Longoria. Bartlett is very good against lefties and hits ninth. Zobrist starts in right after appearing there in just two games in the regular season.

The Rays started the game with five players on their bench: Michael Hernandez (R), Rocco Baldelli (R), Fernando Perez (S), Cliff Floyd (L), Gabe Gross (L).

Hamels started the first with a 2-0 lead. Iwamura led off and hit a 3-2 pitch to first. Howard fielded it deep and Iwamura beat him to the bag for an infield single. Hamels was a little slow to cover first and Howard ran to the bag himself. Howard probably should have tossed the ball, but they may not have gotten Iwamura anyway. Upton was next and checked his swing 1-1 and hit a ground ball to second. Utley took and the Phils turned two easily to clear the bases. Pena grounded to Rollins to end the inning.

Eleven pitches in the first for Hamels.

Longoria struck out swinging 1-2 for the first out of the second. Crawford flew to center on a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Hamels struck out Aybar swinging 1-2 for the third. Fourteen pitches had Hamels at 25 for the game.

Navarro popped to first for the first out of the third. Zobrist was next and hit a 2-1 pitch past a diving Feliz for a single. Bartlett was next and he drew a five-pitch walk that put men on first and second. Iwamura singled into right on a 1-2 pitch to load the bases. Upton smashed a 1-2 pitch, but Feliz took it at third and started the double-play to end the inning. Nineteen pitches for Hamels, 44 for the game.

Very nice play by Feliz at a big time on a ball hit hard by Upton.

Second double-play in two at-bats for Upton.

Hamels started the fourth up 3-0. Pena swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and grounded to first. Longoria grounded an 0-2 pitch to third for the second out. Crawford was next and he jumped on Hamels first pitch to him, hitting it out to right to cut the lead to 3-1. Aybar flew to center for the third out. Nine pitches in the inning had Hamels at 53.

Navarro led off the fifth and struck out trying to check his swing on a ball in the dirt. Zobrist grounded to third on a 3-2 pitch for the second out. Hamels then walked Bartlett for the second time in the game and Bartlett stole second as the count went 3-1 on a high fastball to Iwamura. Iwamura delivered a double into left-center that rolled to the wall, scoring Bartlett to make it 3-2. Upton was next and he popped a 1-2 pitch foul that Howard caught reaching into the stands to end the inning. I’m guessing you probably won’t see Carlos Pena reaching into the second row to catch the ball in any of the games in Philadelphia. Nice play by Howard, though. Thirty pitches in the inning for Hamels put him at 83 for the game.

Two RBI in the game for the Rays come from two left-handed hitters, Crawford and Iwamura, hitting off of the lefty Hamels. The Phillies handled the big righties in the Rays lineup as Longoria and Upton combined to go 0-for-8, strike out four times and hit into two double-plays.

Pena was again swinging at the first pitch to start the sixth. He hit a ground ball to first that Howard booted. He recovered and threw to Hamels covering, but not in time. Pena was safe and Howard was charged with an error. With Longoria at the plate, Pena took off for second but left too early. Hamels threw to first and Howard delivered a strong throw to second. Pena would have been safe at second, but Rollins put down a fantastic tag, sweeping Pena’s leg off the base for a big first out. Huge play in the game. Hamels’ move to first was very close to a balk (it was a balk, but the Phils got the call). Howard made a great throw to second, a play he’s had an awful time with this year. Great tag by Rollins got the Phils an out. Longoria struck out looking at a 2-2 pitch on the inside corner for the second out. Crawford grounded softly to second for the third out. Just eight pitches for Hamels in the inning. Ninety-one for the game.

Aybar popped to short on a 1-2 pitch to start the seventh. Navarro waived at a 2-2 pitch for the second out. Zobrist grounded back to the mound to end the inning. With 11 pitches in the inning, Hamels was at 102 for the game.

Madson started the eighth with the Phils still up 3-2. Bartlett was first and popped a 2-1 pitch up to Howard in foul territory for the first out. Madson got ahead of Iwamura 1-2 and then delivered two straight changeups in just about the same place outside. Iwamura fouled off a pitch and then flew softly to right for the second out. Madson threw an 0-1 fastball past a swinging Upton before striking him out 2-2. Upton is right on top of the plate and is going to have to be moved if he proves unwilling to continue to strike out and hit into double-plays.

Madson fantastic again.

Lidge started the ninth up a run. Pena struck out trying to check his swing 0-2. The Phillies got the call on the appeal to third. Longoria struck out trying to check his swing 1-2 for the second out. Lidge got ahead of Crawford 1-2, but delivered two balls to run the count full. Crawford fouled off two pitches before he hit a high foul ball down the third base line. Feliz chased and took it by the Phillies bullpen, nearly falling near the warm-up home plate, to end the game.

Lidge and Madson combine to go two perfect innings for the Phils, striking out three. Madson threw 18 pitches, Lidge 15.

The Tampa Bay pen threw three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and two walks while striking out five. Balfour threw 27 pitches and Howell 19. Wheeler and Miller were both under six.

Kazmir did well to stay in the game after being on the ropes time after time. The Phils did have a bunch of bloop hits against him, but threatened to chase him early several times and failed to do so. They still force the cream of the Rays’ pen to throw three innings in a game Tampa Bay was trailing.

The Phillies lineup against lefty Scott Kazmir went (1) Rollins (2) Werth (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Burrell (6) Victorino (7) Feliz (8) Coste (9) Ruiz. Burrell stays in left with Coste getting the nod at DH over Bruntlett or Taguchi. Victorino hits sixth with Werth in the two-hole. The switch-hitter Victorino breaks up what would have been five righties in a row for the Phils if Werth was hitting sixth.

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

Rollins took the first pitch of the game for a strike on the outside corner before lining the next offering to right for the first out. Werth got ahead 3-0, then took two called strikes before Kazmir delivered ball four. Utley was next with the Rays playing a huge shift that had nobody at third. Utley tried to bunt the first pitch of his at-bat and popped it up foul. He swung at strike two before Kazmir delivered two straight balls. Utley hit the 2-2 pitch just out to right, putting the Phils up 2-0. Howard grounded to second for the second out and Burrell went down looking at an 0-2 pitch on the inside part of the plate.

Big home run for Utley in his first World Series at-bat — Kazmir had allowed just seven extra-base hits (and just one home run) to lefties during the regular season.

Victorino started the second and hit a 2-1 pitch back through the middle. Iwamura got a glove on it behind second base, but didn’t field it cleanly and wouldn’t have gotten Victorino if he had. Feliz walked on five pitches, putting men on first and second with nobody out for Coste. Victorino was nearly picked off second on a very close play before Kazmir delivered his first pitch to Coste. Coste flew softly to right and the runners held. A walk to Ruiz loaded the bases with one out. Rollins was next and he hit a fly ball into shallow center. Upton caught it and Victorino tagged and came home. Upton’s throw was good, it reached home plate on one hop a little up the third base line. Navarro tagged out a sliding Victorino to complete the double-play.

No problem with sending Victorino there, it took a strong throw from Upton and a nice tag from Navarro to get him. Coste being unable to move the runners up with nobody out hurt the inning. Kazmir had thrown 40 pitches through two innings.

Werth led off the third and dumped a ball over Pena’s head and down the right field line for a double. Utley moved Werth to third with a ground out to second. He was stranded there, though. Howard struck out trying to check his swing 1-2 for the second out. Burrell struck out swinging 1-2.

Howard can’t bring the man in from third with one out. After failing to score with men on first and second with nobody out in the second, no run for the Phils in the third after putting a man on third with one out.

Victorino started the fourth and blooped a single into center. Upton charged but failed to glove the ball, but he was backed up nicely by Zobrist. Feliz swung at an awful 1-2 pitch before he singled into center, sending Victorino to second. Coste tried to bunt but fouled the pitch off. Victorino was running as Coste hit a slow grounder to first. Both runners moved up and the Phils had men on second and third with one out for Ruiz. Ruiz grounded a 1-1 pitch to short. Victorino scored to put the Phils up 3-0 as Feliz held second with two down. Kazmir struck Rollins out on three pitches to end the frame.

Coste did move the runners up that time and it helped the Phillies score a run. Good no-strikeout by Ruiz.

Another long inning for Kazmir, who was up to 71 for the game.

Werth flew to center to start the fifth. Utley popped a 1-2 pitch to short for the second out. Howard was next and drew a walk in a nine-pitch at-bat. Burrell was next and he had a long at-bat of his own, dribbling a 3-2 pitch towards first base. Kazmir hopped off the mound to field it with Burrell storming down the inside part of the first base line. Kazmir tossed to first, but the ball went off the heel of Pena’s glove for an error on the first baseman that put men on first and second with two outs. Victorino swung at the first pitch of his at-bat and grounded to second to leave both men stranded.

Feliz started the sixth with another bloop hit, this one into right-center. Coste popped up a 2-2 pitch to second for the first out. Five men left on base for Coste through 5 1/3 innings. Ruiz flew softly to left on a 1-0 pitch for the second out. Rollins got ahead 2-1 and lined to center, giving him five men left stranded as well.

Lefty JP Howell started the seventh for Tampa Bay and struck Werth out on four pitches for the first out with the Phils up 3-2. Utley singled back through the middle and stole second. Howell’s 1-2 delivery to Howard was wild, allowing Utley to go to third. Howell struck Howard out swinging 3-2 for the second out. The lefty Howell stayed in to pitch to the righty Burrell with two outs and a man on third. Burrell drew a walk, looking at a 3-2 pitch that was just outside. Bruntlett ran for Burrell at first. Righty Grant Balfour came in to pitch to Victorino and overpowered him, striking him out swinging 2-2.

More offensive misery from the Phils as Howard can’t bring the runner in from third with less than two outs. Fortunately for him, strikeouts don’t matter.

Running for Burrell as the run that puts you up 5-2 in the seventh is awful. Howell is great against righties, but I still think it’s a mistake to let Howell pitch to Burrell. Especially if you’re bringing a righty for the next batter anyway.

Balfour returned for the eighth and set the Phils down in order. Feliz flew to right. Coste shattered his bat grounding back to the mound. Ruiz lined an 0-2 pitch to right, but Zobrist took it there to set the Phillies down.

Balfour was back at it to start the ninth and struck out Rollins on three pitches, with Rollins going down swinging at a very high fastball. Werth was next and looked sure to strike out as well, getting behind 1-2 but then lining a 3-2 pitch into right. The ball landed near the line and bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double. The righty Balfour stayed in to walk the lefty Utley intentionally with lefty Trever Miller warming in the pen. Miller came in to pitch to Howard with one down and men on first and second. Howard saw four pitches, trying to check his swing on first offering but failing and then looking at a ball followed by a pair of strikes. Dan Wheeler came in to pitch to Bruntlett. Wheeler got ahead 0-2 and delivered a ball in the dirt as Utley and Werth pulled off a double-steal. Bruntlett popped to second for the third out.

It’s almost indefensible not to pinch-hit Dobbs or Stairs for Bruntlett against Wheeler. Don’t know what you’re saving them for. Taguchi can play left in the ninth or Jenkins can play right with Werth moving to left. Bruntlett is a career 221/286/310 hitter against righties and you’re winning by one run with a runner in scoring position. The only argument for keeping him in the game is that he is vastly superior to the other options in left, which I don’t believe is the case.

Curious that it was Miller and not lefty wunderkind David Price to pitch to Howard.

Rollins was 0-for-5, struck out twice and left five men on base. The tag he put on Pena in the sixth after Pena got picked off was a big defensive play for the Phils.

Werth was 2-for-4 with two doubles to the opposite field and a walk.

Utley 2-for-4 with a two-run homer and a walk. Stole two bases.

Howard was terrible. 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and four men left on base, failing multiple times to bring a runner in from third with less than two outs. Made an error in the field, but also made two nice defensive plays. He reached into the stands to get the Upton foul ball and made a nice throw to second after Hamels’ non-balk picked off Pena.

Burrell was 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. Looked worse than that against the lefty starter.

Victorino was 2-for-4 and left four men on base.

Feliz 2-for-3 with a walk. First World Series hits for Feliz, who went 0-for-5 in the ’02 series when his Giants played the Angels.

Coste 0-for-4 with five men left on base. Coste looked awful, but was given a tough task after getting just one at-bat this month coming into the game. Hopefully he can find his swing and give the Phils the right-handed bat off the bench they need.

Ruiz 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI. Nice job to make contact and bring in Victorino with a ground ball in the fourth.

The Phillies drew nine walks in the game. Four in the six innings that Kazmir pitched and five in the three innings thrown by the pen.

Brett Myers (10-13, 4.55) faces righty James Shields (14-8, 3.56) tonight in game two.

Shields doesn’t walk many hitters, surrendering just 40 walks in 215 innings on the season. Righties and lefties hit about the same against him, .253 for righties and .255 for lefties. He allowed 24 home runs on the year, 12 that were hit by righties and 12 that were hit by lefties. He both struck out and walked lefties at a slightly higher rate than righties in 2008.

His strikeout rate shrunk as the season progressed. He struck out about 7.2 batters per nine innings through June and about 6.1 batters per nine innings in his starts in July, August and September.

He has made three post-season starts for the Rays and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of them. In 19 1/3 innings he’s thrown to a 3.72 ERA with a 1.40 ratio. His most recent start was the worst of the three. In game six of the ALCS he allowed four runs, only three of them earned, on nine hits and three walks over 5 2/3 innings. The Red Sox hit a pair of doubles and a pair of home runs off of him.

Matt Stairs has faced Shields a lot without good results. Stairs is 3-for-20 with a home run and two walks against him. Nobody else on the Phillies has more than three at-bats against Shields.

Myers has made two starts in the post-season, pitching well against the Brewers but getting hit hard by the Dodgers. Overall he’s thrown to a 5.25 ERA with a 1.25 ratio. He’s walked seven in 12 innings.

Righties hit him hard than lefties this season. Lefties hit just 235/317/423 against Myers, righties 293/341/494. Despite the fact that righties hit him harder than lefties, Myers walked lefties at a higher rate than righties. Myers walked about 10% of the left-handed batters he faced and about 6% of the right-handed batters he faced.

Cliff Floyd has seen him a ton, going 12-for-33 (364/400/697) with two doubles and three home runs. Willy Aybar is 2-for-6 against him.

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They say you gotta stay hungry, hey baby, I’m just about starving tonight

(Bruce Springsteen).

Cole Hamels (14-10, 3.09) faces lefty Scott Kazmir (12-8, 3.49) tonight in Tampa Bay in game one of the World Series.

Kazmir struggled at the end of the regular season. He took a 3.04 ERA and a 1.17 ratio into the All-Star break, but went 5-3 with a 4.02 ERA and a 1.38 ratio in 13 starts in the second half. September was his worst month of the year, he threw to a 5.19 ERA and a 1.46 ratio in five starts. He missed about a month of the season with an elbow problem before making his first start of the year on May 4.

Opponents hit just .220 against Kazmir on the year, righties .227 and lefties .198. Righties walked at a much hitter rate, posting a .329 on-base percentage compared to .239 for lefties. He walked 63 of the 501 right-handed batters he faced this year (about 12.6%) and just seven of the 140 left-handed batters (5%). Righties slugged .461 against him, hitting 22 of the 23 home runs he allowed. Kazmir threw just 152 1/3 innings on the year, but only one American League pitcher allowed more home runs to right-handed batters than him (Glen Perkins allowed 23 for the Twins). The flip side of that is that lefties slugged just .275 against him, with just seven extra-bases hits (five doubles) all season.

Kazmir’s vulnerability to righties accentuates the Phillies flaw that has them going into the World Series without a big right-handed bat on the bench. That problem suddenly gets an upgrade to no right-handed DH. Pat Burrell was born to DH, but the options for right-handed corner outfielder are miserable as well and Manuel was curiously unwilling to DH Burrell during inter-league games in the regular season. Coste, Taguchi or Bruntlett are the extra bat the Phils will likely be choosing from in game one. Hope it’s Coste with Burrell in left, but it could be Taguchi or Bruntlett, which would be just about the worst bat you could imagine adding to your lineup in a DH game. If it is Taguchi or Bruntlett, though, I think they should be in left with Burrell as the DH. Seems like a no-brainer, but that may not be the way that Manuel goes. The options improve with the righty Shields on the mound in game two and the chance to put Stairs or Dobbs (or, less likely, Jenkins) in the lineup.

Kazmir has made three starts in the post-season, going 1-0 with a 4.02 ERA and a 1.53 ratio while striking out 13 in 15 2/3 innings. His best outing of the three was his most recent. In game five of the ALCS he held the Red Sox to a pair of singles over six shutout innings and took a 7-0 lead into the seventh. He was much worse in his first two post-season starts, throwing to a 6.52 ERA and a 1.97 ratio and not going six innings in either outing.

The Phillies and the Rays did not play each other this season. He made one start against the Phils in 2006 and allowed two runs over five innings. Sal Fasano and Abraham Nunez homered off of him in that game. No current Phillie has more than four career at-bats against him.

Cole Hamels, MVP of the NLCS, has been brilliant for the Phillies in the post-season. In three post-season starts he’s 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA and an 0.86 ratio. He has struck out 22 in 22 innings.

The long layoff and all the innings for Hamels this year are the things to worry about for the Phils. The 24-year-old Hamels was second in the NL in innings pitched this season with 227 1/3. He last started on October 15, a week ago today.

He doesn’t give up a lot of walks and doesn’t surrender walks in bunches. Including three starts in the post-season he has not walked more than three batters in a game all year. He did give up 28 home runs this season, which tied him for tenth in the NL. He gave up his share of homers to both lefties and righties. Lefties curiously slugged .471 against him, hitting 12 home runs in 228 plate appearances. Hamels was simply better overall this season against righties than against lefties — righties hit .215 against him compared to .262 for lefties. They walked and struck out at a similar rate with lefties hitting for more power.

No current Ray has ever faced him, which could be a huge advantage if Hamels and his wicked changeup are on against Tampa Bay’s young hitters.

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