Archive for April, 2008

Gamenight: Phillies (12-11) At Pirates (9-13)

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, April 25, 2008 04:46 PM Comments: 56

The Phillies received great relief pitching and timely hitting in a 3-1 win over the Brewers yesterday. pat Burrell continued his mammoth, machine-sized tear, while Tom Gordon defused a Brewers rally in the seventh.

Tonight the team meets Pittsburgh for a three-game set with the Pirates. The offense faces lefty Zach Duke. The Pirates will face Adam Eaton. Ryan Howard is not starting again, per manager’s orders. Instead, we have a crazy lineup: Brad Harman gets his first start, Chase Utley is at first base and Chris Coste is hitting fifth.

Phillies: Adam Eaton (0-0), 4.74 ERA
Pirates: Zach Duke (0-1), 4.37 ERA

Gametime: 7:05 p.m.
Weather: 75 degrees, stormy
Lineup: Taguchi/Werth/Utley/Burrell/Coste/Feliz/Bruntlett/Harman/Eaton

MLB Gameday Audio
MLB Gameday

Your gameday beer: With Howard out of the lineup, we need a hammer. Grab a Long Hammer IPA from Redhook Brewery. Not great, but certainly not terrible, it contains some citrus flavor and a light, almost minty kind of taste. Eat a chili dog with it — beef up, the Phils may need you to hit cleanup.

Go Phillies!


Should Dobbs Get More Playing Time?

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, April 25, 2008 01:38 PM Comments: 7

When the Phillies signed Pedro Feliz to a two-year contract, it seemed the third base situation — in their minds — was resolved. Feliz would play everyday — his standard pop and slick fielding made him the perfect man for the hot corner for the next few years.

Then the reality of Pedro Feliz sank in: .213 AVG, .280 OBP.

Against righties Feliz has a .608 OPS; against lefties it’s .758.

Meanwhile, Greg Dobbs has done this: .355 AVG, .412 OBP.

Against righties Dobbs has a .961 OPS; oddly enough, he has one hit in one appearance against lefties. As a starter, Dobbs has a sterling 1.008 OPS.

While Dobbs is knocking the ball around successfully, he’s getting more playing time against right-handed hitters. But Dobbs can get overmatched sometimes, especially against guys with good breaking pitches. He has struck out seven times in 31 at bats.

Feliz is likely to come around — April has historically been his worst month (.248 AVG, .284 OBP). While it doesn’t get much better than that, chances are Feliz will start hitting with a little more regularity. But with Dobbs hitting the way he has been, does it constitute the need for another platoon situation?

I would think, while Jimmy Rollins is still out, about starting Dobbs at third base and moving Feliz to shortstop. Feliz has the range to help Dobbs from short, and the Phils won’t lose Dobbs’ bat for Eric Bruntlett. Then bruntlett can move in as a defensive replacement late with the lead. When Rollins returns, the Phils can reassess Dobbs and if he’s capable of starting more at third base; until then, the Phils should take advantage of the production they’re getting from him.


Odds And Ends: Victorino, Benson, Rollins

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Fri, April 25, 2008 10:17 AM Comments: 11

Some injury notes as the Phillies hit Pittsburgh:

  • Shane Victorino has gone 2-for-5 in two games with the Clearwater Threshers. He also scored a run and was caught stealing. He should be coming off the DL Monday.
  • Kris Benson will throw in an extended Spring Training game Saturday in Clearwater.
  • Jimmy Rollins took batting practice yesterday in Clearwater. He’s expected to be back with the team May 5.

Burrell, Bullpen Boost Phils Over Brewers

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, April 24, 2008 07:59 PM Comments: 15

Pat Burrell hit a two-run double in the top of the eighth inning to grab the Phillies a 3-1 lead, and the bullpen held onto it for a win over the Brewers today.

Burrell’s Major League-leading 24th and 25th RBIs brought home Greg Dobbs and Chase Utley. The latter went 3-for-4 and scored a run, bringing his average to .385. Burrell is hitting .355. After Burrell’s double, a combination of JC Romero and Ryan Madson kept the Brewers at bay in the eighth, and Brad Lidge had a pretty simple save, his fifth of the year.

The high drama in the game, aside from Burrell’s double, came when Jamie Moyer surrendered a double and a single to lead off the home seventh. With no outs, Tom Gordon came in for Moyer. Strikeout. Walk. Strikeout. Groundout. Gordon was superb, capping a day where the Crew had many chances to put away Moyer and the Phils, but never taking advantage. Moyer went six innings, giving up a run on eight hits and three walks.

Jayson Werth added a solo homer in the sixth.

The Brewers had plenty of chances to strike Moyer early, but bad plays ended their threats; meanwhile, though the Phils couldn’t convert against Brewers starter Jeff Suppan, they made no mistakes and remained in the game until Werth’s homer tied it. At that point it became a battle of the bullpens, and the Phils’ brand shut the door on the Brewers. Give a big hand to Gordon (especially Gordon), Romero, Madson and Lidge. The back end was dynamite.


Gameday: Phillies (11-11) At Brewers (13-8)

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, April 24, 2008 11:30 AM Comments: 80

The script was writing itself for the Phillies last night: Tough beginning, fight back to tie it, pitcher stunning once he got his bearings. Then Cole Hamels came back out for the eighth inning with over 115 pitches thrown and melted on a dime. Prince Fielder’s second home run of the night capped the win for the Brewers.

It’ll be tough winning today. Jamie Moyer is on the hill for the Phils, but the Brewers mash left-handed pitching (.888 OPS). Jeff Suppan, who pitches for the Brew Crew, has an ERA close to 7.00 in his last five starts against the Phillies.

This just in: Ryan Howard, hitting below .200 and struggling all season, is not in the starting lineup. Greg Dobbs will play first base.

Phillies: Jamie Moyer (1-1), 4.79 ERA
Brewers: Jeff Suppan (1-0), 4.13 ERA

Gametime: 1:05 p.m.
Weather: 65 degrees, windy
Lineup: Werth/Dobbs/Utley/Burrell/Jenkins/Feliz/Bruntlett/Ruiz/Moyer

MLB Gameday Audio
MLB Gameday

Your gameday beer: On what should be a rainy, windy day in Milwaukee, grab a Sam Adams Brown Ale. It’s nutty, dark, caramel-like and sip-worthy. Have a turkey sandwich with it and enjoy the warm weather.

Go Phillies!


Manuel On Keeping In Hamels: “I Liked Him”

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, April 24, 2008 11:07 AM Comments: 2

Charlie Manuel told reporters after the game why he went with Cole Hamels in the eighth inning last night. (Hamels gave up the winning home run to Prince Fielder in the Phils’ 5-4 loss.)

“When [Braun] hit the double, I definitely was going to leave him in there on Fielder. Fielder had a good at-bat. He fouled off some pitches, and he got him. But at the same time, I liked [Hamels], I still liked him in the game. I liked him there, and I wanted him to stay there.”

Because Manuel “liked” Hamels is kind of a bland excuse, although it’s likely true. Still, JC Romero was available, as was Tom Gordon, who likely would’ve faced the bottom of the Brewers’ order in the ninth. Hindisight is 20/20 in this situation — you can’t completely fault Manuel for sticking with his ace — his best pitcher — in a high-pressure situation, but Romero was re-signed to be the main defuser of high-pressure situations, especially against left-handed hitters. Getting Fielder out, then bringing in Chad Durbin to face the righties would’ve been fine.

It’s also important to note this is early in the season, probably too early to be shuttling your starters out deep into questionable situations. Hamels had his crack at Braun and he failed. As much as it’s nice to give Hamels confidence, it means more to win the game. The irony, of course, is that Tuesday night giving Brett Myers confidence to stay in against the Rockies was priority one, and he also blew up in his final inning. The difference there was the Phils weren’t in the lead then.

Bottom line: Eighth inning, one-run lead, starter has over 100 pitches. First hitter strikes an easy double with no outs. Time to go to your pen. If it’s August I may have something different to say.


Fielder’s Bombs Beat Hamels, Phils

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Thu, April 24, 2008 12:00 AM Comments: 26

121 pitches — a few too many.

Cole Hamels pitched fantastic between the second and seventh innings. He came into the eighth inning with over 110 pitches and quickly surrendered a sure double by Ryan Braun. Then Prince Fielder stepped up, and the guy who already hit a homer off Hamels nailed his second of the night, the game winner. The Phils lost 5-4.

Hamels shouldn’t have been out there in the eighth. JC Romero and Tom Gordon were both rested enough to go in the eighth and ninth, respectively. Hamels was spent and ended the seventh on a positive note. His ERA shot up to 2.75 despite striking out a season-high 11.

The Phils got offense again from Chase Utley and Pat Burrell; the bash brothers struck their 10th and 8th homers of the year, respectively. Greg Dobbs added his second blast of the year to round out the scoring, but it was Fielder who stole the show. The Brewers beefy first baseman is coming alive.

On the other side, however, the Phils’ beefy first baseman continues to downright stink. Ryan Howard went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. The Phils couldn’t take advantage of a few chances with runners on base; instead, they settled for more home runs. Jayson Werth really came up short — he was caught trying to steal third base with nobody out in the seventh; in the ninth he struck out with So Taguchi at third with one out. Poor, poor, poor.

Still, one wonders if the Phils would’ve won if Manuel pointed to his bullpen when he should have.


Gamenight: Phillies (11-10) At Brewers (12-8)

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, April 23, 2008 06:13 PM Comments: 54

Over .500 and loving it!

The Phillies got over the hump yesterday with a three-run ninth inning, thanks to Pat Burrell and his golden stick. Now it’s Cole Hamels’ turn to keep the wheels running as the Phils open a two-game set with the Brewers at Miller Park. They’ll face Dave Bush, who is the emergency starter since Ben Sheets went down with an injury. (What else is new?)

Geoff Jenkins returns to Milwaukee for the first time since leaving the only team he played for his entire career.

Phillies: Cole Hamels (2-1), 1.86 ERA
Brewers: Dave Bush (0-3), 7.02 ERA

Gametime: 8:05 p.m.
Weather: 58 degrees, sunny
Lineup: Werth/Dobbs/Utley/Howard/Burrell/Jenkins/Ruiz/Bruntlett/Hamels

MLB Gameday Audio
MLB Gameday

Your gamenight beer: Yetserday we recommended Miller Lite, and since tonight the Phils are in Milwaukee, we have to go with Miller High Life. Don’t ever mess with the champagne of beers, it’s a quality macro. Brewed in Milwaukee, you know what it works with: a nice, hot brat.

Go Phillies!


Bash Brothers, Part Two

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, April 23, 2008 01:42 PM Comments: 16

Because everyone else is talking about them, here are some quick statistics for you on this gorgeous Wednesday:

On Base Percentage + Slugging Percentage
Major Leagues
1. Chase Utley, PHI – 1.238
2. Pat Burrell, PHI – 1.200
3. Chipper Jones, ATL – 1.175

Slugging Percentage
Major Leagues
1. Chase Utley, PHI – .810
2. Pat Burrell, PHI – .729
3. Chipper Jones, ATL – .709

On Base Percentage
Major Leagues
1. Albert Pujols, STL – .495
4. Pat Burrell, PHI – .471

Total Bases
Major Leagues
1. Chase Utley, PHI – 68
2. Derrek Lee, CHC – 57
3. Chipper Jones, ATL – 56
7. Pat Burrell, PHI – 51

Home Runs
Major Leagues
1. Chase Utley, PHI – 9
T2. Pat Burrell, PHI – 7
T2. Derrek Lee, CHC – 7

Runs Batted In
Major Leagues
1. Pat Burrell, PHI – 22
T2. Chase Utley, PHI – 20
T2. Manny Ramirez, BOS – 20
T2. Josh Hamilton, TEX – 20

1. Ryan Howard, PHI – 30
2. Bill Hall, MIL – 25

Oops, didn’t mean to write that one in.


Sweep Revenge! Phightin’ Phils Over .500

Posted by Tim Malcolm, Wed, April 23, 2008 12:23 AM Comments: 15

Pat Burrell’s bases-clearing double off Colorado closer Manny Corpas swung the game completely around in the top of the ninth, giving the Phillies an 8-6 lead, which Brad Lidge nailed down. With yet another awesome comeback, the Phils have swept the Rockies and are now above .500 for the first time in 2008, at 11-10.

In 2007, the Phillies didn’t get over .500 until May 26.

Burrell’s three-run double capped a wild evening where the offenses kept punching back at each other. Chase Utley, while ending his home run streak, blasted a two-run double in the third inning. The Rockies came right back with doubles and a Matt Holliday homer. Down one, Jayson Werth hit his second homer in as many days. The Rockies grabbed two more thanks to a Garrett Atkins homer. Down two, Greg Dobbs singled home Pedro Feliz. That set up the ninth-inning drama.

So Taguchi led off the ninth with a single. Utley singled to center field, and with Taguchi heading to third base, Willy Taveras thoughtlessly threw the ball to third, allowing Utley to reach second. Ryan Howard was intentionally walked with first base open, loading the bases for Burrell. If I’m Rockies manager Clint Hurdle there, I pitch to Howard — why even give Burrell the chance with less than two outs when Howard isn’t even striking balls deep? Poor move.

Charlie Manuel made his own controversial move, leaving ace Brett Myers in the game for the seventh inning after a quick sixth. Garrett Atkins made Manuel pay for his decision. At the time I wasn’t very happy with the decision, but you have to give Myers confidence to go seven, even with mediocre stuff. That he was facing the meat of the Rockies lineup at Coors Field is just a tough factor that led to his six earned runs. His ERA is now at 4.78.

Ryan Madson toughed through the eighth and earned the win. Lidge looked phenomenal, working fast and striking out Clint Barmes en route to his fourth save.

Also, give credit to Jayson Werth, whose .300 average and fine power has been a fine substitute — heck, improvement — for Shane Victorino … and Greg Dobbs, who continues to come up with clutch pinch hit after clutch pinch hit. If there’s one thing we can say about Manuel, it’s that he knows how to use his bench.

All in all another great win for the Phils, who will travel to Milwaukee with Cole Hamels ready to go.

Associated Press photo

Here are some photos from the game:

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