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Archive for June, 2009

Utley’s Triple Rallies Phillies Past Toronto in Series Final

Monday, June 29th, 2009

       Jamie Moyer     Chase Utley    Brad Lidge

Toronto jumped out early on Phillies’ 46 year old veteran Jamie Moyer as 2nd baseman Aaron Hill hit first and third inning solo shots and leftfielder  Jose Bautista clubbed a 2 run shot in the second inning to stake 32 year old lefthander Brian Tallet to 3-0 and 4-1 leads through three innings.  But the Phils rallied for 4 runs to take the lead in the fourth inning led by 2nd baseman Chase Utley’s bases-clearing 2 run triple.  Once the Phils gained the lead, Moyer had no problem shuting down the Blue Jays in the fourth and fifth innings and the bullpen held on to the 1 run lead despite shaky eighth and ninth innings as Utley’s triple rallied the Phillies past Toronto by a 5-4 score and to a 2 of 3 game series victory in Sunday’s final.
 
The Phillies NL East division lead is back up to 2 1/2 games as the
Mets were beaten again and swept by the Yankees on Sunday. Florida lost again to their state rival Tampa Bay but are still breathing hot down the Mets’ necks at 3 games back in the division.

AP’s recap describes the game for Yahoo sports:

Moyer (6-6) allowed four runs and five hits in five innings to win consecutive starts for the first time since April 21 and 26. He won just one of his following nine starts before beating Tampa Bay last Tuesday.

“Probably the brightest side for me was go out in the fourth and put up a zero after we came back and scored some runs,” Moyer said.

Utley went 2 for 4 with a walk as the Phillies won a series for the first time since taking two of three from the New York Mets on June 9-11.  Philadelphia had lost four straight series and has won just four of its past 15 games.

Hill hit two solo homers, giving him his first career multihomer game, and Jose Bautista added a two-run shot for the Blue Jays, who finished interleague play at 7-11.

Hill has a career-high 19 home runs this season to break the Blue Jays record for homers by a second baseman that he shared with Roberto Alomar.  Alomar hit 17 in 1993 and Hill tied the mark in 2007.

Philadelphia took the lead with a four-run fourth against left-hander Brian Tallet (5-5).  Carlos Ruiz hit a bases-loaded fielder’s choice, Shane Victorino followed with a sacrifice fly and Utley capped it with a two-out triple to right-center.

Tallet allowed five runs, four earned, and eight hits in six innings. He struck out six but his six walks were a career high.

Following two perfect innings from Chan Ho Park, the Phillies gave the ball to Ryan Madson and survived a scare in the eighth. A single, an error and a two-out intentional walk loaded the bases for pinch-hitter Russ Adams, who popped out.

[Closer] Brad Lidge’s knee… faced a big test Sunday.

Activated off the disabled list last week after being out since June 9 with a sprained right knee, Lidge had to move quickly when Blue Jays catcher Raul Chavez bunted to begin the ninth, reaching safely when Lidge’s throw pulled Ryan Howard off first base.

“They probably know why I came off the DL and they tried to test it,” Lidge said. “Unfortunately he laid a perfect bunt down, too. I was able to get to it and grab the ball and throw it and no damage. I walked around the mound just to take inventory, make sure everything felt all right, and it did. That was huge for me.”

John McDonald ran for Chavez and Lidge walked Marco Scutaro. But he got Aaron Hill to pop out, then tested his knee again by spinning off the rubber and catching McDonald in a rundown between second and third.

“I kind of thought if there was something I would feel it on, it would be those (fielding plays),” Lidge said. “I didn’t and thank goodness.”

Two pitches later, Lidge got Vernon Wells to ground out, giving him his 14th save in 20 chances.

“At the end there, we were hanging on for dear life but it worked out,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.

Lidge said having full strength in his knee made him feel he had “control of the game.”

“Being able to use my back leg and drive off that really helped my fastball stay on line,” Lidge said. “That’s the biggest thing for me, being able to throw that pitch and being able to locate it better.”

Rightfielder Jayson Werth has now reached safely in 10 consecutive plate appearances having singled to leftfield in the fourth and been walked 4 times on Sunday.  He scored the 1st of the 2 runs which scored on Utley’s game-winning 2 run triple and was 4 for 4 with 2 homers and 3 RBIs on Saturday.

Winning pitcher Moyer threw 82 pitches through five innings giving up 4 runs, on the 3 homers, on 5 hits while walking 2 and striking out 4. Losing pitcher Tallet, plagued by wildness, threw 110 pitches through 6 innings while giving up 5 runs on 8 hits while walking 6 and striking out 6.  Lidge’s save was his 14th in 20 opportunies.

In related news, Phillies young lefthander Antonio Bastardo will miss his next rotation turn with a strained shoulder and is scheduled for a doctor’s look-over on Monday.

Phillies Nation reports on coming Phillies roster additions or changes:

…The Phillies will call up young righthanded [thank goodness!] pitcher Carlos Carrasco to make his season debut on Thursday. Carrassco struggled early on this season in the minors but has gotten better as of late.

Earlier it was announced that Jimmy Rollins would be starting Tuesday and will be leading off. Rollins as well as the rest of the line up have a tough test Tuesday against Lowe and have not hit well against him. Also this week, the Phils hitters will have to face one of the games best pitchers in Johan Santana [9-5, 3.08 ERA]. On a brighter note the Phillies will be receiving an injection of life when Raul Ibanez returns in time for the weekend showdown.

3rd baseman Scott Rolen did no damage to the Phils in this one despite going 2 for 3 and extending his career-high hitting streak to 16 games. The other Phillies nemesis, catcher Rod Barajas is still nursing a sore hamstring and didn’t play.  He’ll take batting practice on Monday and try to run before the Blue Jays decide whether or not he goes on the DL.

For the scores of all of Sunday’s games, click here.
 
The Phillies have Monday off before ending June and beginning July with a 3 game series in
Atlanta.

We get a break from constant lefthanders on Tuesday as Joe Blanton takes the mound in the series opener.  He is opposed by 34 year old Japanese righthander Kenshin Kawakami who beat the Phils in their only previous encounter.  Blanton has a 1-1 mark against the Braves in 2009.

For all of Monday’s and Tuesday’s games, click here and here. 

Happ’s Shutout, Werth’s 2 HRs Power Phillies to Split With Toronto

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

                   J.A. Happ     Jayson Werth

Manager Charlie Manuel finally held a Phillies team meeting after another moribund offensive effort on Friday and after ace lefthander Cole Hamels was pounded for 4 runs over the fourth and fifth innings.  Hamels left with 2 out in the fifth while the Blue Jays’ Ricky Romero was 1 walk shy of pitching perfect ball through 6 innings enroute to a 6-1 Toronto win in the series opener.  Manuel’s team meeting apparently bore fruit as rightfielder  Jayson Werth’s 2 homers, 3 RBIs and 4 for 4 game led Saturday’s offensive barrage and young lefthander J.A. Happ’s masterful 5 hit complete game shutout on Saturday powered the Phillies to a split of the first 2 games with the Toronto with 10-0 win.

The Mets, who had come to within 1/2 game of the Phillies on Thursday, fell to 1 1/2 games back in the NL East division race after being pummelled by the Yankees on both Friday and Saturday and scoring but 1 run in 18 innings.  The Florida Marlins also fell to 2 games back losing Friday and Saturday games to their cross-state rival Tampa Bay Rays.  The Atlanta Braves dropped off of the challenge for 1st place dropping both Friday and Saturday’s games to the Boston Red Sox.

I guess that manager Manuel just couldn’t take it anymore after Friday’s game and it is good that he made the move to have a team meeting.  One can view the pitch-by-pitch on Friday’s debacle by clicking here.  Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr describes Friday’s latest offensive short-circuit: 

Ricky Romero no-hit the Phillies for six innings before Chase Utley broke up the no-hit bid with a single in the seventh. He pitched seven shutout innings allowing only two hits and one walk. He struck out seven.

Cole Hamels struggled and was ejected for arguing balls and strikes after he left the game in the fifth inning. In 4.2 innings, Hamels allowed four earned runs on eight hits and two walks.

The bullpen continues to have its woes. Chan Ho Park left the game with a knee contusion. Brad Lidge gave up two earned runs in 0.1 innings.

Tip of the cap to Ricky Romero who pitched a terrific game by keeping the Phillies off-balanced, however, it is always embarrassing when a potent lineup like the Phillies is no-hit for six innings.

Another member of Phillies Nation’s growing staff of writers penned a piece on Cole Hamels’ continuing woes this season:

…Another disappointing Cole Hamels start. His effort Friday night was mediocre at best, allowing 4 runs on 8 hits in a loss to the Blue Jays. But the most disheartening aspect of Friday’s outing was his inability to take the team deep into the game. A string of foul balls and just-outside pitches forced his pitch count over 100 before Charlie Manuel took him out of the game in the fifth inning.

…Hamels (4-4, 4.44 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) …has nibbled around the strike zone far too often, seemingly eager to induce swing-and-miss strikeouts rather than simply get batters out. He consistently spots his fastball inches off the plate, begging hitters to take a hack at a pitch they cannot reach. And in return, they sit and watch as his pitch count rises. While his fastball desperately tries to paint the black, Hamels’ grade-A changeup becomes an afterthought. If batters don’t need to worry about his fastball, the changeup loses effect, instead becoming a tantalizing, but resistible, pitch.

…Hamels shouldn’t be so afraid to ask for help with a few groundballs. For Hamels to last deeper into ballgames he must begin to attack the strike zone with his fastball, getting ahead early in counts and inducing easy outs. J.A. Happ did this to perfection today against the same Blue Jays team, earning himself quick innings by going after hitters early. After 14 starts Hamels has gone 7 innings or more just three times. Whether due to injury or inability, he has gone 5 innings or less five times now.

Until Hamels is able to re-think his pitching strategy, he will continue to labor through long innings, and as the summer heat rolls in his starts will be cut shorter and shorter.

Losing pitcher Hamels threw 105 pitches while being rapped for 4 runs on 8 hits and walking 2 and striking out 4.   Romero went 7 shutout innings giving up only 2 hits while walking 1 and striking out 7 in winning his 5th game vs 3 losses.  

The Phils scored their only run in the ninth inning off of the Toronto bullpen as centerfielder Shane Victorino, still taking the benched Jimmy Rollins’ leadoff spot, walked with 1 out.  2nd baseman Chase Utley followed with single to centerfield with the Flyin’ Hawaiian taking 3rd base and Utley advancing to 2nd on the throw and attempted play on Victorino. With runners at 2nd and 3rd base, rightfielder Jayson Werth drove in the run with a sacrifice fly to rightfield.  However, 1st baseman Ryan Howard fanned to end the game.   It was Howard’s 91st strikeout thru 72 games as the Howard strikout watch circa 2009 begins in earnest.

But Saturday’s game reflected a seeming overnight transformation — let’s hope that it takes hold in the upcoming games.  AP provides the game recap for Yahoo sports:

J.A. Happ pitched a five-hitter…

In the first complete game of his career, Happ (5-0) struck out four and didn’t walk a batter to win for the first time in four starts.

“(Happ) stayed right with his game plan and they were swinging at him,” Manuel said. “He did a good job, a super job.”

Happ threw 100 pitches, 64 for strikes.

“I didn’t always get strike one but we were trying to focus on getting ahead in the count,” Happ said. “That’s something I’ve struggled with the last few games. It all kind of came together today.”

the Phillies used the long ball to jump ahead quickly, homering twice in the top of the first.

Werth hit a towering two-run drive into the upper deck, his 14th, and Pedro Feliz added a two-out homer to left.

Toronto left-hander Brad Mills (0-1) allowed eight runs on eight hits in four-plus innings, striking out seven in his second career start.

Werth’s upper deck blast was the 14th in the 20-year history of Rogers Centre, formerly SkyDome…

“When I hit it, I didn’t know if it was going to stay fair,” Werth said of his drive. “I watched it a little bit longer than I usually but. It stayed pretty straight. When I first hit it, I thought it was going to hook a little bit but it stayed straight just inside the fair pole.”

Happ said he lost track of Werth’s homer as it climbed toward the upper deck.

“You watch him in batting practice and he puts on a show,” Happ said. “He’s got impressive pop in that bat.”

Werth singled in the third, doubled and scored in the fifth and hit a solo homer off reliever B.J. Ryan in the sixth. Needing a triple to complete the cycle, Werth walked in his final plate appearance. he has eight career homers against Toronto.

“We’ll kind of be glad to see the last of him,” Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. “He’s hit us well over the last couple of years.”

Carlos Ruiz hit an RBI double in the fourth before the Phillies pulled away with a four-run fifth.  Shawn Camp replaced Mills after Ryan Howard’s single, then allowed an RBI single to  Chris Coste, Eric Bruntlett’s sacrifice fly and an run-scoring single by Ruiz, making it 9-0.

Rollins, stuck in an 0 for 19 slump, sat out for the third straight game. Manuel said Rollins likely won’t play again until Tuesday, the opener of a three-game series in Atlanta.

Thankfully, the Phils have not had to face catcher Rod Barajas who pounded them recently in Philadelphia.  Barajas is nursing a strained right hamstring. 3rd baseman Scott Rolens, who also killed the Phils last time, hit a 2nd inning double on Friday to increase his hitting streak to a career high 14 games.   He’s apparently being platooned at 3rd base and did not see action on Saturday.

For the scores of all of Friday’s and Saturday’s games, click here and here.
 
Sunday’s decisive series final is another of the recent all-too-frequent lefthanders’ battles as 46 year old veteran
Jamie Moyer is opposed by nearly 32 year old Brian Tallet and the Phillies hope for a series win on the road after having lost 11 of their last 14 games, including 3 of 4 on this current road trip.

The Phillies have Monday off before ending June and beginning July with a 3 game series in Atlanta before coming home for a 9 game stand beginning with a 3 game weekend series with the Mets.

For all of Sunday’s games, click here.

Tampa Bay Pounds Phillies to Take 2 of 3 Games

Friday, June 26th, 2009

The Phillies jumped on Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine to stake young lefthander Antonio Bastardo to a 4 run first inning lead.  Bastardo, however, was shelled for 6 runs (including 2 homers) in the first 2 innings and the bullpen was shellacked for 4 more. Only 6 Phillies reached after the first, 3 of them on a walk, a hit batsman and an error, in another woeful offensive display as Tampa Bay pounded the Phillies by a 10-4 score on Thursday to take 2 of 3 games in their first post-World Series matchup.

Meanwhile, while the Phillies have lost 10 of their last 12 games, the NL East division race has tightened with the Phillies now clinging to a mere 1/2 game lead over the Mets who again beat St. Louis.  Rising fast and breathing down both the Phils’ and Mets’ necks are those Florida Marlins who pummelled the Baltimore Orioles by an 11-3 count extending their winning streak to 5 while winning 7 of their last 10 games.

The Phillies have the look of a team in trouble — Big trouble.  They were woeful on all cylinders on Thursday.  The offense died after scoring 4 in the first inning.  Bastardo couldn’t hold on to prosperity as the Rays battered him from pillar to post.  With a run already in in the first inning, 2nd baseman Ben Zobrist belted a 2 run shot out to leftfield off of Bastardo to cut the score to 4-3.  3rd baseman Willie Aybar led off the second frame homering to leftfield to tie the game. The Rays went on to score 2 more runs in the inning.

The depleted bullpen was inept showing once again that guys such as  Tyler Walker and Jack Taschner just don’t cut the mustard and that lefthander Scott Eyre and Clay Condrey are sorely missed.  The AP game recap for Yahoo sports notes that closer  Brad Lidge rejoined the active roster but was not used. 

Offnsively, there is no question that leftfielder Raul Ibanez’s big bat is sorely missed.  But Ibanez on the DL is only psrt of the problem.  The other guys on the top of the lineup are not hitting consistently and not coming through in the clutch.  One can click here to view the pitch-by-pitch on this latest ugly fiasco.

One can see things coming, that the learning curve on a pitching staff with 4 lefthanders of 5 starters has got to be short.  I frankly can’t understand what Charlie Manuel and the front-office are thinking regarding the 4 man lefthanded starting tandum.  Bastardo ought to be back in Triple A getting more seasoning.

Bastardo, charged with his 3rd loss besides 2 wins, threw 78 pitches in 3 1/3 innings giving up 6 runs on 7 hits, including the 2 homers, while walking 3 and striking out 4.  Sonnanstine recovered from the shakey first inning to go 5 1/3 inning to get the win.  From the second inning until his leaving the game with 1 out in the sixth, Sonnanstine retired 13 of the 16 Phillies he faced in an impressive display.  He threw 97 pitches giving up 4 runs on 6 hits, only 1 hit after the first, while walking 1 and striking out 7. The Tampa Bay bullpen totally closed down the Phillies over the final 3 2/3 innings.

Shortstop Jimmy Rollins was bench-bound on Thursday replaced by Eric Bruntlett, presumably because of his (Rollins’) mental lapse on Wednesday along with a terrible hitting funk.  But, along with the Phillies hitting woes, Rollins is not the only culprit when it comes to mental errors.

With 1 out in the sixth inning, leftfielder Matt Stairs was hit by a pitch ending Sonnanstine’s outing.  With Sonnanstine out and reliever Grant Balfour in, 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz grounded into a fielder’s choice to shortstop with Stairs advancing to 3rd on a throwing error.  Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr describes this game’s situational mental lapse:

Trailing 6-4 with one out and runners at the corners, the Phillies had a chance to rally in the sixth inning.  Eric Bruntlett hit a fly ball to center, deep enough to score the run. Stairs tug up, but Feliz lost track of the outs and was doubled off at first before Stairs crossed the plate.

For the scores of all of Thursday’s games, click here.
 
The Phils head to
Toronto on Friday for 3 weekend games as the team has got to take things in hand and recover the season before it “fades away like an old soldier” amidst a torrent of losses.  Both Friday’s opener and Saturday’s game 2 are contests pitting lefties against each other as J.A. Happ is opposed by Ricky Romero on Friday.  On Saturday, ace Cole Hamels is matched up against Brad Mills.

For all of Friday’s and Saturday’s games, click here and here.

Tampa Bay Tops Phillies on Burrell Homer, Late Bullpen Meltdown

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

For seven innings on Wednesday, Phillies starter Joe Blanton and Tampa Bay’s Matt Garza were locked in a tight pitchers duel, marred only DH hitter Pat Burrell’s second inning homer off of his old team and rightfielder Jayson Werth’s seventh inning solo shot.  Held to 3 hits by Garza in another ugly offensive short-circuit, the Phils remained in the game until the eighth when lefthanded reliever J.C. Romero got into a none out, runners-at-the-corners jam.  But thanks in large part to a 2 out fielding lapse on a fielder’s choice grounder by shortstop Jimmy Rollins,  Tampa Bay topped the Phillies by a 7-1 score on Burrell’s homer and a late-inning bullpen meltdown to even their series at 1 game apiece.
 
As a result of Wednesday’s loss, and the
Mets’ 11-0 pounding of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Mets now only trail the Phils by 1 1/2 games in the NL East division with the Florida Marlins now breathing down both of their necks at 2 games back in 3rd place after beating the Baltimore Orioles.

Blanton had a fine outing, as he has in 5 of his last 6 starts, again going deep into the game and only being pulled after centerfielder B.J. Upton’s eighth inning leadoff double.  But the Phillies wasted the effort thanks to a feast-a-little, starve-a-lot offense.  And while catcher Carlos Ruiz took an 0-3 collar at bat, he nailed rightfielder Gabe Gross at 2nd base on a 2 out second inning attempted steal and blocked the plate well as leftfielder  Matt Stairs nailed Upton at home on a fly out/doubleplay in the eighth inning which would have kept the Phils in the game but for Rollins’ miscue.

After a second inning leadoff single, Blanton got the 1st out recording the 1st of his 10 strikeouts.  But Burrell nailed an 0-1 pitch and drilled it to leftfield to give the Rays a 2-0 lead. 

Meanwhile, Garza retired 9 of the first 10 Phillies he faced, including striking out the side in the second inning.  But in the fourth, he walked centerfielder Shane Victorino, 2nd baseman Chase Utley and 1st baseman  Ryan Howard to load the bases with none out.  But Werth bit on Garza’s 1st pitch and ground into a doubleplay, with Victorino out at home, to take the starch out of a possible inning.  He followed by fanning Matt Stairs to end the inning.

Blanton retired 9 of 10 Rays hitters between the third and fifth innings before leftfielder Carlos Crawford and 3rd baseman Evan Longeria opened the sixth inning with doubles.  Fortunately, Crawford was out after testing Jayson Werth in rightfield by trying to stretch a double to a triple.  Werth’s throw surely saved a run.  Blanton avoided damage finishing the sixth with a strikeout and groundout sandwiching a walk.
 
Werth homered on Garza’s full-count pitch in the sevwenth after Howard grounded out.  Stairs followed with a single to center, only the 3rd hit off of Garza in the game.  But the Rays’ starter retired the next 2 Phillies on a flyout and a fielder’s choice grounder to end the inning.

Blanton followed in the seventh by striking out the Tampa Bay side for the second time in the game.

After Garza went clean on the Phillies in the eighth, Upton opened the Ray’s eighth with a double to rightfield which ended Blanton’s outing.
Blanton’s line in a losing cause was 7 innings pitched, 121 pitches, 2 runs, 6 hits, 2 walks and 10 strikeouts.

Romero followed Blanton and was greeted by Crawford’s leftfield single putting Upton at 3rd base.  But Romero appeared to be weathering the threat as late game replacement at 3rd baseman Willy Aybar flied out to left with Ruiz applying the tag on the speedy Upton who was nailed leftfielder Stairs.  

Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr describes what happened next in the eighth;

Pat Burrell hit an soft grounder to Jimmy Rollins.  Rollins nonchalantly tossed the ball to Chase Utley covering second, only for Ben Zobrist to be safe and a run to score.  Rollins made a huge mistake by not throwing to first, especially with a slow runner in Burrell.

From there, AP sports writer Fred Goodall’s game recap for Yahoo sports describes the resultant damage;

Jason Bartlett followed with a two-run single off Chan Ho Park to extend his career-best hitting streak to 18 games, tying  Quinton McCracken for the franchise record. Gabe Gross finished the Phillies off with a two-run double.

One has to wonder about Jimmy Rollins at this point.  He’s not hitting, and over the past 2 seasons, there have been times when it appears that he has not hustled, just as was the case a couple of seasons ago with the Mets shortstop Jose Reyes.  The case cited above is, for sure, a lack of hustle or alertness.  A toss to 1st base to get the slow-footed Burrell would have ended the inning with Romero escaping with the score still 2-1 and with the Phils with a real shot in the ninth inning.

The Phils made things a little dicey for reliever Randy Choate in the ninth inning when, with 2 outs, Werth singled to center and pinch hitter John Mayberry Jr. walked.  But Choate got pinch hitter Chris Coste to ground an 0-1 pitch into a fielder’s choice to shortstop with Mayberry being forced at 2nd to end the game.

In related news, the Phils expect to reactivate closer Brad Lidge, who had been out with a sprained right knee, from the 15 day DL on Thursday.  

For all of scores of Wednesday’s games, click here.

In Thursday’s series final, young lefthander Antonio Bastardo faces 26 year old Andy Sonnanstine as the Phillies need to take 2 of 3 in this series.. 
The Phils next head to
Toronto for 3 weekend games.

For all of Thursday’s games, click here.

Phillies Maul Tampa Bay in Series Opener, Snap Losing Streak

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

    John Mayberry Jr.    Jamie Moyer    Chase Utley

Phillies veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer pitched a six inning quality performance and the offense lit into Tampa Bay’s 24 year old lefthander  David Price for 6 first inning runs.  3 of the runs scored before before Price registered the 1st out.  Price was pounded for 4 more runs in the fourth inning on Tuesday as the Phillies mauled the Rays in their series opener by a 10-1 score to snap their 6 game losing streak.

With the win, coupled with a Mets shutout loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, the Phils increased their lead in the NL East division to 2 1/2 games.  The Mets, meanwhile, have the 3rd place Florida Marlins breathing hot down their necks 1/2 game behind in 3rd place.  The Phils upped the MLB-leading road record to 24-9.

The Phils, playing their first rematches against their 2008 World Series opponent, benefited out of the box as leadoff hitter shortstop Jimmy Rollins found himself at 2nd base on a 2 base fielding error by Rays 3rd baseman Evan Longoria.  After centerfielder Shane Victorino walked, 2nd baseman Chase Utley pounded Price’s 0-2 pitch for a 2 run double to left centerfield.  Then 1st baseman Ryan Howard, back in the lineup although  still recovering from flu symptoms diagnosed with acute sinusitis and acting as the designated hitter, followed Utley by ripping Price’s 2-2 offering to near the same spot in left centerfield to drive in the 3rd Phillies run.  Still noone out.   Rightfielder Jayson Werth slammed a 1-2 pitch to leftfield for a single moving Howard to 3rd base. 

After Price finally registered the 1st out fanning 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz, leftfielder John Mayberry Jr. slammed Price’s 1 strike pitch out to leftfield giving the Phils their 6-0 1st inning lead.  The next 2 hitters grounded out as the Phils sent 9 hitters to the plate while staking Moyer to a quick 6-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Moyer retired 6 of the first 7 hitters he faced and benefited from 1st inning doubleplay after a walk.  Price retired the next 6 Phillie hitters before an error got the Phillies started again in the fourth inning.

Moyer worked out of a 2nd and 3rd base, 1 out jam in the third getting a fly out and foul out to evade trouble.  In the fourth, after Mayberry reached on a fielding error, Chris Coste, playing 1st base with Howard in the DH slot, singled to centerfield and both runners advance a base on an error in the outfield.  Catcher Carlos Ruiz grounded out to shortstop as Mayberry scored the 7th run.  Rollins grounded outto 2nd base for the second out.  Victorino singled to rightfield scoring Coste.  Chase Utley followed, capping the Phillies scoring by blasting a 2 ball pitch from Price, still in the game, out to rightfield for the 9th and 10th runs.

Shortstop Jason Bartlett knocked in Tampa Bay’s only run in the fourth with a 2 out single to leftfield.  But with 2 runners on and 2 out, Moyer walked rightfielder Gabe Kapler to load the bases.  But Moyer evaded further trouble by getting a groundout to 3rd base to end the inning.

After centerfielder B.J. Upton led off the fifth with a double to center, Moyer retired the final 6 hitters he faced.   Moyer pitched a solid quality game throwing 101 pitches while allowing 1 run on 5 hits while walking 3, striking out 4 and keeping the ball in the park to earn his 5th win against 6 losses.

Losing pitcher Price was shower-bound after walking Jayson Werth and after Pedro Feliz flied out to rightfield to begin the fifth inning.  He threw 88 pitches giving up 10 runs, only 5 earned due to 3 Rays’ errors.  Price walked 2 and struck out 2 while giving up both Phillies homers.

Reliever Tyler Walker gave up 3 hits in 2 innings pitched but emerged unscathed.   Lefthanded reliever Sergio Escalona, added to the roster when the Phils put Clay Condrey on the DL with left oblique strain, put down the Rays in order in the ninth to end it.

Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr notes:

Utley’s homer was the Phillies 100th as a team in 68 games.  With the home run, the Phillies became the fastest team in franchise history to hit 100 home runs.

The Phillies took advantage of the Rays’ three errors. They capitalized when they needed and were 5-for-10 with runners in scoring position. They only left four runners on base, a much smaller number than previous games.

In other news, Phillies nation cites David Murphy (via Twitter):

 Brad Lidge threw a scoreless inning in Class A Clearwater.  He did not allow a hit and walked one batter.  Of the twelve pitches he threw, seven were strikes.

The Phillies will wait until tomorrow to determine if Lidge needs another rehab appearance, but they were encouraged by his performance.

For all of the scores of Monday’s and Tuesday’s games, click here and  here. 

Wednesday’s game 2 pitchers are Joe Blanton opposing Matt Garza as the Phils look to string together victories.

For all of Wednesday’s games, click here.

Orioles Edge Phillies for Sweep, No Offensive Support for Hamels

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

The Phillies moribund offense wasted an eight inning, 2 run, 10 strikeout performance on Sunday by ace lefthander Cole Hamels. This time, it was Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie who stymied clueless Phils hitters as the Orioles edged the Phillies by a 2-1 score for another sweep as Hamels got no offensive support and the Phils dropped their sixth straight game.

Lucky for the Phils that the Mets lost again to the Tampa Bay Rays enabling the Phils to maintain their 2 game lead in the NL East division race.

With 1st baseman Ryan Howard returning to the hospital as a result of lingering flu symptoms thus missing the game, and leftfielder Raul Ibanez on the DL, the Phils once again snoozed on offense.  AP sports writer Dan Gelston reports on both the slugging 1st baseman’s condition and the state of the team after it’s 1-8 homestand for Yahoo sports:

Howard had a CT scan and needed antibiotics. He might have a sinus infection, Phillies trainer Scott Sheridan said.

[Jimmy] Rollins went 0 for 4 to drop his average to .217 and heard boos after his at-bats as his slow start has morphed into the worst season of his career.

Manuel insisted he won’t drop Rollins from the leadoff spot again.

The Phillies have lost three games by one run and another in extra innings during their losing streak. With Howard ill, Monday’s off day comes at an opportune time.

“I think the key is we’re in first place,” Hamels said. “We’re fortunate everyone in the NL East is playing really bad.”

Phillies closer Brad Lidge expects to be activated from the disabled list this week now that his right knee is close to full strength. Lidge said he’d make at least one more rehab appearance, on Tuesday for Class-A Clearwater, then either be activated Wednesday, or if a third rehab appearance is needed, on Friday in Toronto.

One can follow the pitch-by-pitch of Sunday’s game by clicking here.  Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr offers a fine recap on another in a string of ugly Phillies offense underachieving losses:

Cole Hamels was outstanding. In eight innings, he allowed two earned runs on nine hits. He did not walk a batter and struck out ten. However, he was tacked with the loss as the Phillies could not provide run support.

Greg Dobbs put the Phillies on the board in the second inning with a solo shot, but that was all the Phillies managed to get off of Jeremy Guthrie. In seven innings, Guthrie limited the Phillies to only three hits including Dobbs’ home run.

The Orioles scored their only two runs on a bloop single by [centerfielder] Adam Jones and an eighth inning RBI double off the bat of [2nd baseman] Brian Roberts.

In the bottom of the eighth, Charlie Manuel was ejected after arguing a call. Jimmy Rollins avoided a tag, however was called out. It proved to hurt the Phillies because[centerfielder] Shane Victorino followed with a double that Rollins would have scored on…

The Phillies finished their homestand a pathetic 1-8, finding a different way to lose each game. After an off-day Monday, the Phillies will look to redeem themselves on the road, where they are a Major League best 23-9.

Aside from the eighth inning scoring opportunity missed on an apparent blown call on a possible missed tag on Rollins, the only other Phils scoring opportunity was in the first inning where they had runners on 1st and 3rd base with 2 outs.  But rightfielder Jayson Werth flied out to centerfield to end the threat.

Hamels, at one point in the game between the third and sixth innings, retired 10 straight Orioles.  He gave up 9 hits but managed to keep the Phils in the game through his eight innings.  He threw 110 pitches walking noone in another game where the Phils starter didn’t deserve to lose.  Reliever Chan Ho Park pitched the ninth going clean — 3 up, 3 down.

Winning pitcher Guthrie went seven innings throwing 108 pitches and only giving up Dobbs’ 2nd inning homer and giving up only 3 hits while walking 2 and striking out 4.  Oriole closer George Sherrill recorded his 15th save, his 2nd in the series.

For all of the scores of Sunday’s games, click here.

After Sunday’s game, the Phils have a much-needed Monday off to recover from flu and assorted other woes before taking their MLB-leading road record out for 9 games, 3 in Tampa Bay, 3 in Toronto before finishing off June and beginning July in Atlanta.

Tuesday’s Tampa Bay series opener will be a battle of lefthanders as  pitchers will be veteran Jamie Moyer is opposed by 24 year old David Price.

For all of Monday’s and Tuesday’s games, click here and here.