The Day After; Phillies Lose Ground in Race for Top Spot

Posted by Jason Bintliff, Thu, October 01, 2009 10:39 PM | Comments: 104
2009 Recaps, Posts

Basking in the glow of their third straight East Division title, the Phillies couldn’t quite shake the champagne hangover as they fell to the Astros, giving them a split for the series and dropping them another half game out of the race for the top seed in the National League.

Cliff Lee looked shaky early, surrendering two first-inning runs courtesy of a Lance Berkman double. Lee settled in until the sixth inning when he surrendered a two-run home-run to Tejada. Lee finished the night giving up four earned runs, on seven hits. He struck out six on the evening in 5.2 innings of work.

Both Chase Utley and Shane Victorino received the night off, with Eric Brunlett and Ben Francisco starting in their places. Francisco was the offensive star of the night, going 3-4 with two doubles. Pedro Feliz led the team with two R.B.I.’s while going 2-5.

The team looked sluggish all evening, most likely due to the lingering effects of Bud Light and celebratory champagne, but woke up in the ninth-inning, putting together a two-out rally.

Pinch-hitter Matt Stairs led the inning off with a walk before Astros closer, Jose Valverde, retired both Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez. Jayson Werth followed with a single, which was backed by Feliz’s R.B.I. double, which plated two. The Phillies eventually got the winning run to the plate however Miguel Cairo flew out to end the ballgame.

After a roller-coaster month of baseball, the Phillies earned the opportunity to take a few breaths and rest. However, despite clinching the division, there is still meaningful baseball left to be played. Home-field advantage is still in play and we all know how important that can be, as the Phillies were undefeated at home in the 2008 playoffs en-route to their second World Series title in the team’s history.

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About Jason Bintliff

Jason Bintliff has written 55 articles on Phillies Nation.

Jason Bintliff is a Phillies season ticket holder and avid fan for 28 years. He was a former free lance writer and contributor to various baseball blogs. He is also the proud son of the owner of Lena Blackburns Baseball Rubbing Mud.

  • Posts: 0 karen

    It was definately a crappy game but honestly, after last night……they did better than I thought. I am unsure about Lee…I am hoping he was just not his best. I would love to see Cairo on the postseason roster…honestly, Bruntlett is just not good.

  • Posts: 0 Harry Kalas

    I just got back from the game a little while ago . Spur of the moment thing.. Got a great deal from a scalper. It didn’t feel or sound like a sell out much after pre-game. Cliff Lee was a little disapp. I thought five inn was enough… But of course that’s easy to say after the fact. I’ll keep it positive. I called for a three run hr from Bruntlett. And my “lady friend”and everyone around us called me a nut job. He did hit it hard though… I like that Ben Fran guy in the lineup and in the #1 spot too..Keep dreaming though…. Teams always say after they clinch that they’re still going to play hard. blah, blah, blah… We still want the #1 seed. blah, blah, blah…. I learned that “There’s no sex in the Champagne Room” in college. The Chris Rock video a coulple of yrs or so later only rubbed it in. Look at how the Cards played the first few games after they clinched… That’s why I think the LA Dodgers will rebound against the Rockies this weekend… Chalk this one up to the Champagne Phillies Nation and let it go…..

  • Posts: 0 Ed R.

    The Dodgers have owned the Rockies this year. We are one game up on the Cards but technically it is two because of the head to head tie breaker. Personally I would have started everyone tonight, if we won, I would bench some guys tomorrow and see what happened. If the Dodgers won I would then rest some more on Saturday(even though I will be there) and then play everyone in the season finale to keep them fresh. But for once, I am going to let Charlie do his thing and not second guess. He deserves that much.

  • Posts: 0 T Mac

    Charlie Manuel was definitely not playing to win tonight – sitting Victorino, Utley, and Ruiz. Worse than this was not pinch hitting for Bruntlett in the 8th with two on and two out – why not put in a real hitter there (maybe even Utley). Home field advantage is critical, but Charlie managed this game like it doesn’t matter.

  • Posts: 0 mikeB

    T Mac; yeah, I think so too. Resting his regulars is going to be his priority and getting home field advantage will be second to that. Kind of get the feeling that the Phils have no problem with having to play the first two games in LA, if they get to play the Dodgers, because of their good road record and warmer. dryer weather in LA as compared to Philly.

  • Posts: 0 Harry Kalas

    I respectfully disagree… I had more confidence with this lineup then I would’ve had with the regulars… Shane has been struggling big time…Charlie has been clawing for the chance to get him some time off to clear his head…And to hopefully re-light that fire… Chase, not really an exp needed here….He’s a tough guy that never complains….But the locker room knows that this guy is hurting bad…. And remember Ruiz just got back…no need to over due it…see Brett Myers…Bruntlett is going to be on the roster…he needs abs….thus the 2nd in the lineup…. Lee pitching to go along w/ Ryan, Jimmy, RAUUUULL, Werth, Benfran and Dobbs…should’ve been enough to beat this Astro ball club… Champagne always wins….. Chuck’s mistake is that he didn’t give his bench guys more abs/playing time during the season…See game 2 of the DH against the Marlins…

  • Posts: 0 Harry Kalas

    I meant Feliz, Dobbs PH later in the game…Bako has been hitting well lately…

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    If players need rest, esp. Ut who is a poster child for overtraining, then what makes anyone think they will be any better if they grind out another game? And Cairo and Francisco are good…Francisco fielding aint pretty but it gets the job done. Is the knock on Cairo his fielding? I don’t know if he’s a liability in field or not. Anyone know. Giving Brunlett the Jeltz is lame. He’s either a] not good enough to even be considered or b] doesn’t have enough playing time to have any measure of credibility. Blaming a sub par bench player who hardly plays is the definition of a scapegoat.
    Sound more like alot of people scared not to call it like they see it: this was the staff ace’s time to reassure us that he has what it takes….we’re not talking a blip on the radar screen but several consecutive bad outings. With our Band-Aid Pen he needed to show that he can go at least 7 with a minimum of 3 ER. That’ why i thought madson save tuesday night was so important…a glimmer of hope that BP had an anchor that could hold the line when we really need it. Other than the middle of their line-up posing a legit threat, I find it distressing that he couldn’t handle the Astro’s for more innings and kept them to at least 3 earned runs. He left the game after a 5 and 2/3rds innings, gave up 4 runs, 3 earned and left the game with men on base. Tonight’s performance was in of itself not bad but in the context of several bad starts for a post-season team with a troubled BP, it was nothing short of horrid.

  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    I get a little upset by hearing media and fans saying rest, rest, rest. We are fighting for a world series again. They will have rest. Sunday is there last game. They will have 3 days off. Thats alot. Right now you have the top record right there. Thats huge. I heard someone say well Utley needs a day off. He is tired. I am not a baseball player. I do not make the kind of money these guys make. I work a full time job. 50 hours a week. I also work a part time job teaching cooking classes to make extra money. I work close to 70 hours a week. There are days I come home and cant move. I wish I can take a day off but I have to support my family. I would mind sitting on a field making a handful of plays and earning 30 million. I am sure they can get through it. Sorry to complain just tired of hearing that word. REST.

  • Posts: 0 Keith

    get some rest Jeff ;)

    go Phillies!

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    i saw some clips of Chan Ho pitching on the news…i miss his two seamer. Also it was important for the staff ace to take the game over so the position regulars could rest, that is we wouldn’t need ask the offense for a bail out with guys who have sat so long on the bench that the wood has been contoured in the shape of their asses.

  • Posts: 0 JeffR

    If there’s a silver lining it’s that hopefully that will be the last time we ever have to watch Eric Bruntlett bat in a Phillies uniform. Cairo smoked two balls and I don’t see any drop-off in the field. I don’t get the ‘needing rest’ thing either for position players other than catcher. They bat 4 times a game and basically stand around in the field for about an hour a day.

  • Posts: 0 mikeB

    Yeah, Lee or Werth would have been a more reasonable pick for the Jeltz. The Phillies would be smart in picking Cairo over Bruntlett for the post season roster. I have nothing against Bruntlett and I feel sorry for the guy but his abilities have gone downhill since last season. I know that he has not had much playing time this year and has not had that many at bats but at this stage of the game I think that Cairo would be more prepared going into the post season because of his getting more at bats playing regularly at the AAA Iron Pigs and has prior MLB experience too.

  • Posts: 0 Harry Kalas

    jreed… 1. Your no carpenter dude. I don’t care what you say. 2. Comment on Lee is exactly correct. Tonite’s game was all about Lee. And he pretty much bombed… That 2 run shot he gave up to MT after we cut the their lead to 2-1 deflated the stadium…. We actually left after the 7th…. The Astors were 5-13 in their last 18 games coming into this series. And like the Brew Crew, they threw out the “perfect rotation” for us to kill them with. But the O was up and down, and streaky like always…..No way Vic would’ve had a better line than what Ben Fran did tonite… I’m sorry Jeff, but I disagree on Utley. This guy is batting about .200 for the month….We gotta have this guy rested and ready for the playoffs. Anything can happen, but I’m not high on the likely hood that we go back to back. We won it all in 08, and we avoided disaster by not pulling an 2007 Mets. I don’t know what to make of our pitching situation… I really don’t… But at least we’re not the only NL ps team w/closer starting problems…Maybe that and the exp will help fill in the gaps. A Hail Mary? I know…..

  • Posts: 0 Harry Kalas

    Cairo is making a good case from himself. Is there anyone else on this roster than can play SS besides Beard?

  • Posts: 0 j reed

    Jeff – there are different type of fatigue. I’ve put in those type of hours as carpenter and would go to welding class after spending all day baking in the sun all day only to to put on my welding leathers, thick ass heavy gloves, welding shield and stare at a puddle of molten metal for four hours. No air condtioning in that little concrete prctice booth.
    But do you like errors, lots of strike outs, bad decision making, a team that looks flat…well these are symptoms of central nervous system fatigue. Baseball is a techincal/speed sport and both technical and speed workouts stress the CNS more than other workouts/athletic attributes i.e. strength, endurance (aerobic and anaerobic), flexiblity. Concentration, perception of fast moving stimuli and maximum recuirtment of fast twitch muscle fibers’ motor neurons needed to sprint, react to a fast moving stimulus like a pitched ball or line drive, swing a bat all require alot from the CNS and CNS needs neurotransmitters (adrenaline) to do this. The demands of the season eventually take its toll and it gets harder for unrested players to rebuild the body’s neurochemistry which results in prolonged slumps, errors, bad decision making, etc. If it gets depleted enough you will see players drag ass…just like they put in a full forty hours of manual labor…their dopamine levels are on empty….at that point its like your on thorazine. As it is MLB is ass backwards in regards to sports science so whether or not managers understand and employ these ideas i don’t know. But it’s reasonable to assume they eventually see the players dragging tail or by process of elimination of trying different things to fix poor performance eventually rest their players. Unfortunately they are professional athletes and were not. Just remember that quite a few of them but certainly not all of them aren’t exactly the sharpest knives in the drawer and outside of sports are as useless as t*ts on a nun. If you want them to repeat though, they need rest.

  • [...] The Phillies Nation blog recaps the Phillies rally in the ninth: The team looked sluggish all evening, most likely due to the lingering effects of Bud Light and celebratory champagne, but woke up in the ninth-inning, putting together a two-out rally. [...]

  • Posts: 0 george55

    pretty sad that the NL’s most prolific offense (on paper) can’t muster more than 3 runs against a 3-11 opposing pitcher. 16 LOB. 16 LOB. 16 LOB. 16 LOB. That says it all. Houston only had 6. And Lee now seems VERY hittable……great tune-up, guy. What, are you experimenting with different pitches? Little late if you are.
    Still in a funk…..that’s a great way to be going into the playoffs. There is still home field advantage to play for!! Guess they don’t mind playing the first games in other teams ballparks. I see an early playoff exit…that’s an easy one to call.Just someone else’s turn for the ring. Baseball gods are fickled that way.

  • Posts: 0 Jeff Y.

    Let the reserves get some at bats. We’ll need them in the playoffs.

  • Posts: 0 Ed R.

    Supposedly Romero had soreness in his arm while throwing Friday and Park also cut a rehab appearance short due to discomfort in his hammy. This all according to CSN Philly.

  • Posts: 0 Ed R.

    scratch that, it was discomfort in his forearm. Not his hammy.

  • Posts: 0 Dhall

    Does anyone know what’s wrong with Lee? He was lights out when he first came over, and since then he’s been pitching like crap. I don’t need lights out again, just something in between. I was at the game last night, but I couldn’t tell if it was location or bad pitch selection or both. Heck, maybe the problem is Bako…I don’t know.

  • Posts: 0 teejvee

    The problem is that he leaves way too many pitches in the middle of th eplat.

  • Posts: 0 joedad

    Lee’s problem is location. In his first few games he was painting the corners up down, inside outside. Now he is getting hittable pitches over the heart of the plate and hitters are teeing off. My guess is that he is tired because he had similar problems last September. I hope the adreneline from the crowd and from his first postseason will be what he needs to get over the hump.

  • Posts: 0 Phan in TN

    i need j reed to explain plate techtonics to me now since he teeters on the precipice of omniscience.

    What stupefies me is that this blog site is chock full of geniuses who are experts on almost everything about the Phillies and Charlie Manuel is not using this brain trust.

    go figure

  • Posts: 0 joedad

    Phan, are your lips getting tired reading j reed’s post? Lots of big words there.

  • Posts: 0 george55

    To Dhall: he forgot to get a re-fill on his roid pills, dude.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    It’s ok… we should, however, let all the regulars play tonight and win this one. Rest, play, rest, play.. you don’t want your big bats to forget how to swing!

  • Posts: 0 joedad

    Dodgers magic number for home field throughout is 2. Phils magic number for the 2 spot in the NL is 2.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    Chase Utley said that he was going to try to convince Charlie to give him a day off tonight… you know that all of those guys would have died for the day off. Weds night was probably a wild night for our Phightins… I’m not worried about Lee. I’m sure that he was a little bit unfocused out of the gate; this will be his first trip to the postseason so he has a right to celebrate. Plus, he knew he was working with a hung over group of misfits and was likely not very confident at the onset that he would get the win (when you’re not confident, bad things happen). He was good once he settled in and made one mistake (the HR he gave up to Miguel Tejada, who might as well be nicknamed Dave Montgomery because he owns the Phils… a career .434 hitter against the Phils to go along with a career average of .424 at the Bank).

    Not good to hear that Romero and Park are likely heading to the shelf…

    The Phils are going to take 12 pitchers into the postseason. Here’s how I see it:

    Hamels, Lee, Blanton, Martinez
    RH Relievers:
    Condrey, Durbin, Kendrick, Lidge, Walker
    LH Relievers:
    Happ, Eyre, Escalona

    It stinks because I would rather see Happ start but if Romero’s done, there’s not way that we can go into the playoffs with Eyre and Escalona as our only lefthanders in the pen…

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    Utley was going to try to convince Charlie to give him the day off LAST NIGHT… which he did, obviously.

  • Posts: 0 LH

    I wonder if Eric Bruntlett took extra batting practice during this week in anticipation of playing. He swung at ball three and ball four pitches multiple times last night, while being guilty of absorbing half of the team’s LOB, ugh. But Chase needs his rest and we all wish Andy Tracy played other than first or third. We won’t have Bruntlett to kick around any more after this year, (no solid source just assuming), and luckily overall we haven’t seen him that much. When you have the best in Chase the rest looks paltry. Tonight’s Fact: The fans, I, and Eric will be there, the Fanatic will be there, Harry will be there, and probably Bruntlett will there too.

    The Dodgers are a heart beat away in the standings but I don’t see how we can catch up to them unless we have a few good pitched games. And Charlie will be inserting a number of relief pitchers to solidify his post season pitching roster, while keeping his starter’s innings short. But who knows with a few good pitches, some good swings, and Dodger loses the NL leader results may be different. The Phillies crowds are a sight to behold especially in the post season. It’s a factor which can cause flustering mental mistakes like the Brewers and Dodgers incurred last year. But the Phils away record gives one to pause. I guess I’m being greedy and want more home games with a greater chance of a winning a series at home plate.

  • Posts: 0 LH

    ‘The fans, I, and Eric will be there’ – my son has the same first name as our infamous utility player

  • Posts: 0 joedad

    Chuck, you left Madson off your list. I don’t think Walker makes the roster.

  • Posts: 0 Rich

    Does anyone have confidence in any member of the Phillies bullpen right now except maybe Madson and Eyre? Condom, Walker, Myers, Durbin, Lidge, Kendrick, Escalona…these names don’t exactly exude confidence nor instill fear in the opposition. Quite the opposite…it’s like ringing the dinner bell!

  • Posts: 0 Phan in TN

    i have alot of confidence in Condom.

  • Posts: 0 Phan in TN

    I believe the bullpen should be ribbed for our pleasure.

  • Posts: 0 Bob Kahn

    Gosh, a lot of you guys really blow with the wind. If the Phillies win a game we are invincible and if we lose we are trash!
    If the other team hits we have bad pitchers, if we hit we have great hitters. If the other team doesn’t hit we have great pitchers and if we don’t hit we have bad hitters.
    Fact is there is another team out there – they have professional players and sometimes they have a good pitcher or good hitter. The Astros have higher BA than the Phillies. Without HRs the Phillies will lose against the Astros. No HRs we lose, its simple.

    Just chill, we won the division, we probably won’t win the WS – not because we have a bad team but because there will be 8 good teams going for it. Doesn’t mean we can’t have fun along the way.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I have lots of confidence in Happ in the bullpen ..

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    Thanks, joedad… I thought that list seemed a little off. I guess that it comes down to Durbin or Walker and that’s not an easy decision. Walker has been really shaky lately but Durbin hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire, either. Our bullpen is a group of misfits right now. Our bullpen was our strength in 2008 and now it is clearly our biggest problem… go figure.

  • Posts: 0 bob

    Starters-Lee, Hamels, Blanton, Martinez
    Bullpen-Condrey, Durbin, Kendrick, Lidge, Madson, Eyre, Happ, Escalona (?)

    This is assuming the injuries will shelf Romero, Park and Myers for a while.

    Just my opinion, I wonder if I am missing anyone?

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I’d take Walker over Durbin… And if Pedro is going to start in the playoffs, let him get the final start of the season and see if he’s sharp… cause if not, Happ should start in the playoffs instead of him… the guy has a 2.85 ERA for the SEASON for god’s sake!

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I doubt they’ll give nods to Escalona or Kendrick over Brett Myers

    I think if Happ goes to the bullpen, Escalona is the odd man out.. with Brett Myers getting in

    Happ, Kendrick, Condrey, Lidge, Myers, Madson, Eyre, Durbin

  • Posts: 0 bob

    Just gotta hope that we get the quality (and playoff quality for this group is 7+ innings) starts from Lee, Hamels, Blanton and Pedro. It seems that with the injuries Happ needs to be our lefty out of the bullpen.

    This team will hit and they will pitch. Hopefully Charlie can get the good matchups out of the pen when the time comes.

    I have faith in this group, despite the injuries and question marks. This can do this and are not the only team with problems. Even the mighty Yankees have questions in their rotation.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    And Escalona??? The guy has barely pitched for us lately, I don’t think Charlie even wanted him to pitch in close regular season games… so I do not see him making the playoff roster. With Happ and Eyre we are set for lefties… Eyre the situational one, and Happ the “Romero” one that can pitch to both lefties and righties…

    Myers > Durbin > Escalona.. that’s how I see it.

  • Posts: 0 bob

    For the record I think that Happ should start but with a lack of lefties and Happ being more than capable of throwing out of the pen, it may be Pedro as the #4.

  • Posts: 0 bob


    I am assuming that Myers is down right now. If healthy he certainly would be in there over Escalona

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    The 12 probably are:

    Hamels, Lee, Blanton, Martinez, Happ, Madson, Lidge, Eyre, Myers, Condrey…

    …and 2 of the following 3: Kendrick, Durbin, Walker. (I’d leave out Durbin, cause Walker can do the same job and probably better… and we need KK for long relief).

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Manny… I agree with everyone that thinks Happ DESERVES to be in the rotation..

    But Romero is hurt… Eyre has thrown to a total of 4 batters in the past 2 months.. and Escalona ain’t the guy I trust in a pressure situation

    Considering Happ would be the #4 starter anyway.. (Maybe two total starts in the entire postseason??) .. Both Happ AND the Team would be best served with him in the bullpen for late-game, pressure situations.. because he can handle them

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I agree, bob.. based on his performance, Happ should start no questions asked… that’s why I think it’s important to give Pedro one more shot starting and see how he performs..

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