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 Manny

    You’re right Don, I was hoping Romero would make a comeback but that’s not gonna happen… Happ would be more useful in the bullpen… he could even close a game or two.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I can’t see Escalona on the roster. And Walker will probably be on it.

    Happ will be JUST FINE in the pen.

    If Myers is healthy then he probably is on it and not Kendrick. But Kendrick, IF he pitches like he has been, might not be the worst of the bullpen worries (refer to closer issues, specifically Lidge, Brad and Madson, Ryan).

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    That’s all this is about… obviously they know that Happ carried them this season.. and that he and Blanton were their two steadiest pitchers.

    But its time for the TEAM now.. which is why Lidge is no longer the Closer, and why Happ will be in the bullpen

    Personal stats don’t mean anything now, its time to win every game.. and you can’t do that without a reliable LHP in the bullpen

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    Escalona has to be on the roster… I don’t see how you can go into the postseason with just Eyre and Happ as your lefthanded relievers. Eyre is coming off of injuries and Happ has to be ready to go in case Pedro implodes. You almost have to have a third lefthander, don’t you?

    The fact that the Phillies brass have been making it very clear that they don’t feel like Myers is ready leads me to believe that they’re posturing towards leaving him off the roster.

    4 Starters – Lee, Hamels, Blanton, Pedro
    5 RH Relievers – Madson, Lidge, Condrey, Durbin, Kendrick, Walker
    3 LH Relievers – Happ, Eyre, Escalona

    13 position players:
    Howard, Utley, Rollins, Feliz, Chooch, Raul, Vic, Werth, Ben Fran, Bako, Dobbs, Stairs, Bruntlett (punt)

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I’d put in Cairo over Bruntlett.

  • Posts: 0 Bruce

    Since there is speculation here about the playoff roster for the Phillies, here is one from Phila. Inquirer…

    “Philadelphia Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has a few more days before he sets his rotation for the National League Division Series but the early word in Philly is that Pedro Martinez(notes) won’t be on the list, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

    Martinez, brought in mid-season to give the Phils an extra boost toward the postseason, told reporters his last start, an unimpressive four-inning outing in which he allowed six hits and three runs, was a “tune-up” for the postseason. But it’s looking like Manuel may choose rookie J.A. Happ(notes) over Martinez in the first round if the opponent is the Colorado Rockies.

    Lefty Happ, who is in the running for Rookie of the Year, pitched well against the Rockies on Aug. 5, when he shut them out and struck out 10.

    It’s looking like the rotation in Philly will be Cliff Lee(notes), Cole Hamels(notes), Joe Blanton(notes), and Happ. But Martinez could make an appearance in the second round if the Phils get that far.”

    Source: Philadelphia Inquirer

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    and then they would switch that to Happ bullpen for the NLCS if they got there.

    Ruben Amaro was on the radio this morning hinting that Happ showed a great outing vs. the Rockies … Lee never started a postseason game before.. and Hamels has great postseason numbers

    so expect Hamels to be the #1 for the Playoffs

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    I agree that Hamels should be #1…for the fact that he has been good in the playoffs. And the fact that, not only has Lee not seen the playoffs, but also because of his RECENT stretch of bad outings. If Lee was pitching consistently like he did his first 5 outings then maybe it would make sense to make him #1. But Hamels has turned it on and I have confidence that he needs to lead this thing off.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    I hope that Happ gets the nod…

  • Posts: 0 Brian of CO

    FYI, Lee was charged with 3 ER’s not 4 ER’s.
    Philadelphia IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
    Lee, Cl (L, 14-13) 5.2 7 4 3 1 6 1 3.22

  • Posts: 0 Brian of CO

    I can see Hamels being #1 in the playoffs because he has Playoff experince and was wicked in the playoffs, but to say Lee shouldnt be because of his “RECENT stretch pf bad outings” I think partially contradicts some of the reason to have Hamels as #1, seeing how Hamels has had struggles the entire season. He has had some wicked starts, but hasnt necessarily not struggled. I think we all thought Hamels was back when he went for what 19 shutout innings? But following that he has had some struggles. If you want to use recent struggles as a barometer, Blanton or Happ would be #1, but I dont see that happening. I believe if you left it at Hamels #1 because of his post season experience, and quality in the post season, with Lee as #2 because of no post season experience, would be a dead on statement IMO.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Lee’s got an ERA of like 6 over his last 7 starts .. can’t start him game #1 off the playoffs

  • Posts: 0 Brian of CO

    In those last 7 starts, Lee has given up more then 4 runs on 3 of those starts. He hasnt been awesome or lights out since the first 4 starts, but looking at those 7 starts, Lee has had 3 BAD outings, the other 4 at least being workable. I am still happy to have him as the #2, for me based on no post season experience.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Blanton (has thrown 7 innings ONCE in the past month) and Happ haven’t been lights-out either over their last few starts..

    Lee has been REALLY bad a few times recently.. but you place guys in a postseason rotation based on a few things..

    Some guys never handle big games situations real well (CC Sabathia..) but Hamels has proven before that he can .. which is enough to give him the nod over Lee, especially considering that Lee hasn’t pitched that great lately

    Its not a slap in the face.. its going on numerous factors..

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Doesn’t matter if Hamels “has had struggles the entire season.” It’s what he has done LATELY that really matters….and coupled with Lee’s bad outings it makes sense to have Hamels #1. AND he has playoff experience….REALLY GOOD playoff experience.

    If Cliff Lee was 10-1 instead of 7-4 and his ERA was well under 2, then maybe there’s an argument.

  • Posts: 0 Brian of CO

    Again Don M, I agree having Hamels #1 based on his post season experience. But some others are acting like Lee sucks, and Hamels is lord and savior and has been awesome this season. Hamels has the post season experience. Thats it, and agree with having him as #1 based on that. To me he has been a disappointment over all this season. Look at the last 10 starts. Hamels 26 ER, Lee 28 ER. Not to mention to say Hamels hasnt struggled “recently” is a bit of a stretch. In the last 3 starts, Lee and Hamels have given up the same amount of Earned Runs. Hamels was 6, 4 and 1 (most reason on) Lee has been 3, 7 and 1. They have both struggled. Thats my point. My point is NOT that Hamels should not be #1, or that Lee has NOT struggled. As I said Lee has struggled, Hamels should be #1, but to say Hamels hasnt struggled, is giving him a free pass. Thats my point.

  • Posts: 0 Justin

    God, Walker better not be there. Pedro would make more sense in the pen, given the brevity of his outings, and Bruntlett should just be given the wrong time about when the bus is leaving.

  • Posts: 0 Brian of CO

    “It’s what he has done LATELY that really matters”

    Hamels has given only 2 less runs in the last 10 starts, and has given up the same amount of runs in the last 3 starts. Is that recent enough Chuck? Hamels should be #1 based on Playoff Experience. I am not certain how you can argue that Hamels has been great “LATELY” and Lee has had “bad outings” if you look at the last 3, or maybe even 7 starts. They BOTH have had good outings, and both have had “bad outings” “LATELY” thats a fact. Based on those “facts” hamels should be #1 based on post season experience.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    After settling down last night, Lee retired 13 of 16 batters before giving up the homerun to Miguel Tejada…

    Prior to that:
    - He pitched a dud in MIL (mulligan)
    - Was really good in 4 innings against ATL before being removed due to a rain delay
    - Threw a complete game shutout against the Natinals

    So he has been mildly inconsistent but I see no reason to think that he’s going to flounder in the playoffs. Lee versus Billingsley or Jimenez… we would have the upper hand in either of those match ups.

  • Posts: 0 Brian of CO

  • Posts: 0 U Gotta Believe

    Home field is important, but these players could really give a ______ about the rest of the season…They know they can win against anyone, anywhere. They are more concerned about getting rest, playing time for the bench, and setting up there rotation. Plus I love how after every loss everyone on this site goes crazy and tries to figure out what went wrong and how to blame Charlie or put the blame on one player. It is baseball, every team is going to win (1/3) of the their games (yes even the nationals) , and lose a (1/3) but it is what you do with the other (1/3) that counts. I promise you it is going to be the Phils against the Yanks in the world series, in which the Phils win it in 6.

  • Posts: 0 Stuart

    i want to win in 5 so its at home.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Justin, …

    Walker has been one of the most consistent pitchers in the second half this year out of the bullpen .. so if he makes the postseason roster.. they felt he earned it

    Bruntlett is your only option for a legit middle-infield replacement.. He looked fine turning double-plays last night, and obviously if there was ever a need for him to play, we would need his defense much more than we would worry (or care) about his bat

  • Posts: 0 Brian of CO

    IMO, playing time for the bench is more important than trying to win. I agree that this team can beat any team, any where. It would be nice to have home field yes, but if Charlie can give his bench some playing time, it would help them to work on mechanics, and things like that. To me, the bench only serves to get better whether at the plate, or in the field with more playing time. IMO, Bako is proof of that. His AVG has risen from .190 to about .230. He even has at least 1 hit in 8 of his last 10 starts, and at 1 run is 5 of those 10 starts. He is not considered the normal starter still, Ruiz is. If other players can get better at the plate the way he has granted in the limited time we have left (4 games including last nights loss) it serves better to have starters and bench players hitting away for 1 extra game in the NLDS, then it does to have only the starters hitting well at home.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    I think that your #1 pitcher should also be someone that is willing and able to pitch on short rest… you should feel comfortable bringing this pitcher in for game 4 on short rest, if need be. That being said, I would be more comfortable with Lee… just my opinion. I would be happy with Hamels, too… he’s definitely a big game pitcher… but he’s not very durable. #1 or #2 doesn’t really matter, does it? I mean, either pitcher can be ready to pitch game 5…

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    U Gotta… who is talking about the rest of the season? I don’t care where we play or who we play…

  • Posts: 0 Brian of CO

    Up to the All Star break the Phillies biggest problem was pitching. And yet now going into the Post season, Starting Pitching is another problem. (hear me out and read the rest before you post). This time the problem is, do you have Hamels the NLCS/WS MVP from ’08 with proven post season starts (and at times struggles during the regular season of 08 as well) or Lee, the 08 AL Cy Young Winner as the #1 vs #2. Now do you have Happ, a clear case for the Rookie of the Year, true coming off an injury, but still the rest of the season, has been really good as the #3, or do you have Blanton who may not be great, but been somewhat consistent, only giving up more than 3 runs on 2 occasions in the last 10 starts, or granted he makes the post season roster, Martinez a former multiple Cy Young Winner, who has been a very pleasant surprise. Pedro is somewhat consistent it seems to give up 3 runs. Sometimes he will give up 3 runs in the first few innings, then lights out, or lights out early, and give up 3 runs, but usually pretty consistent, which for a #4 is a nice quality start. All in all this is a good arguement to have. The question is which team will show up? The team that win 13 in a ron after the all start break, or the team who got swept by Pit and Houston?

  • Posts: 0 SandChicken

    Lee did not give up 4 earned runs. He gave up 3 earned runs. Bako’s catcher interference error with one out in the 1st inning allowed Tejada to reach, and led to the 2 runs in that inning. After that Lee cruised through the next 4 innings, until he had some control problems in the 6th.

    His pitch count wasn’t very high at that point either, and he probably could have gone 7-8 innings if his next start were not going to be a playoff game.

    Runs only on one home run, and one inning prolonged by an error. Overall I don’t think his start was bad.

  • Posts: 0 Amazinsux

    You could give Bruntlett 500 at bats and he’s still a .200 hitter. In his case, it has nothing to do with at bats. He just can’t hit. Period.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Good thing Bruntlett’s on our team as a Utility Player, not a pinch-hitter then..

  • Posts: 0 Mark B

    Sorry if this was addressed earlier and I missed it – I was wondering, do we want the Rockies to sweep the Dodgers this weekend and win the NL West – would that be optimal for the Phils, assuming we do well against the Marlins.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I think you look at a team like the Dodgers.. they have been on top all year, have this pressure to win .. and they’ll choke

    Rockies are playing with house money, and are the hottest team right now … but do they really have the Starting Pitching to win in the playoffs?

    Cardinals are on a slide.. and will feel the pressure knowing that Holliday is gone after this year.. and they need to win right now

    Phillies won’t be nervous since they’ve been through this before.. and they have players that have stepped up on the big stage before.. I honestly think we’re the favorite to go to the World Series, regardless of who we play..

    Of the AL teams… I’m routing for the Angels, since I think we can both OutHit, AND OutPitch them … Yankees can outhit us… RedSox are almost our clone .. and the Tigers have FILTHY starting pitching, if they’re healthy

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    People called me crazy when I said the other day that Martinez would probably be left off the playoff roster and that Kendrick would stay….

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    I want Hamels to start Game 1… but they’re gonna have to do something about the schedule because if he pitches on Saturday he’ll only have 3 days rest for the Oct. 7th game…

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    If Kendrick makes it over Pedro.. its only for the NLDS .. and because you don’t need 4 starters for it

  • Posts: 0 cas

    Does it even really matter if we have home field advantage? This team plays just fine on the road. But, I still don’t see us going past the first series. Too many injuries in the bullpen, too much inconsistency in the starting rotation, too many strikeouts and not a single .300 hitter in the lineup anymore. We’re slumping at the wrong time. This time last year, we were clicking on all cylinders and seemed invincible.

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Actually, if you gave Bruntlett 500 at-bats he’d be a .201 hitter…at least….

    Seriously….back to Lee vs. Hamels….Hamels SHOULD get the nod over Lee because of his playoff experience. BUT….the fact that he has pitched A LOT BETTER in the past month certainly helps his case.

    If Hamels had sucked the past month in addition to his poor 2009 up to that point….then I’m not sure if he’s a #1….playoff experience or not.

  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I’ll take a team with .270 hitters with 35 HRs everyday … makes us the most dangerous offensive team in the playoffs.. either us or the Yankees depending on who you ask

  • Posts: 0 beta sigma shag

    I really do not know what game some of these people were watching, Lee had a bad first inning but only gave up 2 runs, then domianted for four innings, only throwing one bad pitch in the 6th. He will be fine. Saying that Cole will pitch in game one of the playoffs. He may pitch two or three innings on Saturday or not at all, I think Blanton will pitch the second game, Lee the 3rd, and depending on the if you need game 4 or not, if the Phillies are up 2-1 then probably Pedro in game 4, with Happ ready to come in from the pen. Game 4 will also depend on who they are playing, if it is a left handed dominant team you will JA I think.
    Not sure if it is a good thing that Cole will have over a week off before his start, but I really do not see Cole not on the mound for game one.

    From how I see it, the Phillies are 2 games up on the Cards because they have the head to head won so for the cards to jump us in records they have to win 2 more games if the phillies do not win any, and don’t the also have head to head advatage over LA, I know i should know that, but i do not. It would be nice to win 2 games over this weekend, but I feel it is more importent to have everything lined up for Wednesday.

    Oh and by the way I will be making the trip from Vermont for Sunday’s game against the Fish, and the first home game of wild card round of playoffs, so if it is Wednesday, that means driving to VT Sunday night, and then turning around and driving back Tuesday night after work for game on Wednesday, But I love it.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    People called you crazy because you said that Kendrick should be considered as a starter. Kendrick won’t be a starter; not a chance.

    I did a spreadsheet because I’m a spreadsheet nerd… I scored each team in the NL on a scale of 1-5 in eight categories (1-5 hitting, 6-8 hitting, 1-2 starting pitching, 3-4 SP, bullpen, bench, fielding, base running, management/experience and home adv… I gave each category a weighting and multiplied each score times each weighting to get a total score out of 5 to figure out which teams were best. In order, Philadelphia, LA, Colorado and St Louis… there you have it, see you in the World Series.

  • Posts: 0 Manny

    hahahah!!!! I NEVER said that!! Kendrick as a starter???? No way!! C’mon, you seriously thought I said that?

    Originally, I said: Kendrick will be in the roster instead of Martinez, but HAPP would be the 4th starter in that case (KK in the pen for long relief)…

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    “Does it even really matter if we have home field advantage?”

    Well, cas… the Rockies are 51-30 at home, the Dodgers are 48-30 at home and those are the two teams we’re looking at for our first round match up. It’s not about us being comfortable as much as it is about them being uncomfortable. Most teams play better at home…

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    I must have misinterpreted that, Manny…

  • Posts: 0 Chuck

    Original Chuck P….you have WAY too much time on your hands, dude…

    ……hope your spreadheet is right.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    It’s Friday… I’m actually very busy. Job, three kids (including 2 year old twins), coach (HS b-ball), very active in the community… but I’m very thorough and when I start thinking about something I do crazy things.

  • Posts: 0 bob

    Who gives a crap who pitches game 1? It’s most likely gonna be Cliff Lee on normal rest.

    Lee and Hamels are both capable of getting the job done. You are gonna need the other pitcher in an important game 2 regardless of game 1′s outcome.

    Both are big time pitchers and I am happy to have them for this run.

  • Posts: 0 shag beta sigma delta

    Hey bob as the game being very mental, especially in the playoff, game one starter does make a difference. Look at the winners of five game series’s winner of game on wins the series about 85% of the time.

  • Posts: 0 The Original Chuck P

    I misreported the results of my spreadsheet… St Louis was third on my spreadsheet… we were first by with a total of 4.16 pts, LAD – 4.05, STL – 4.01 and COL with 3.72.

    If Hamels starts tomorrow, he’ll be our #2…

  • Posts: 0 joedad

    If Lee pitches on Wednesday, it would be on one additional day rest. Friday through Tuesday is 5 days rest rather than the traditional 4. He only threw 89 pitches yesterday on 5 days rest so he should be somewhat well rested.

  • Posts: 0 Ed R.

    CSN just reported, Romero is done for the year.

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