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Archive for July, 2009

Giants Pound Lopez, Phillies in Series Opener

Friday, July 31st, 2009

1st baseman Ryan Howard’s 2 out first inning double off of Giants’ lefthander Jonathan Sanchez drove in 2nd baseman Chase Utley to give the Phillies an early 1-0 lead.  But the lead didn’t last long as Rodrigo Lopez suffered through his worst performance with the Phils whose defense suffered through it’s most horrid game in memory on Thursday.  The offense provided no production leaving 5 runners in scoring position stranded while San Francisco’s 3rd baseman Pablo Sandoval had a big game going 2 for 4 with a homer, a double and 4 RBIs as the Giants pounded Lopez and the Phillies by a 7-2 score in their series opener.

With the loss, the Phils’ 2nd straight, their lead in the NL East division over the 2nd place Florida Marlins dropped to 6 games, with Atlanta in 3rd place at 7 games back.  The 4th place Mets, who split a doubleheader with the  Colorado Rockies, are now 9 1/2 games back.

Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr provides the game recap:

Lopez allowed seven runs, three earned, in four innings.  In the first, the Phillies had a 1-0 lead, but the Giants went ahead 2-1 in the bottom half of the inning.  Jayson Werth misjudged a line drive, and that opened the gates.

In the fourth inning, [3rd baseman] Pedro Feliz made a throwing error which led to two runs.  At the last second, Feliz decided to go for the force out at second base instead of the easy play at first.  Assuming Feliz was throwing to first, Chase Utley was off the bag and the ball tipped his glove, scooting to right field.

Pablo Sandoval must have been very unhappy with Charlie Manuel’s All Star selections.  He showed Manuel what he missed.  He went 2-for-4 with a home run and four runs batted in.

The Phillies weren’t able to provide any offense other than Ryan Howard’s RBI double and Utley’s [sixth inning] solo homer. Sanchez threw a pitch that sailed over Utley’s head. Utely clearly had a problem with it and stared him down.  On the next pitch he called time before he homered down the right field line.

If there were any plusses in this game, one of them had to be the Phils’ bullpen where both relievers Kyle Kendrick, just called up from Triple A to the club roster, and Tyler Walker both threw 2 inning scoreless stints in relief of Lopez.

Centerfielder Shane Victorino, still hampered by swelling from a bruised left knee sustained in Wednesday’s loss, had the night off.  Outfielder Ben Francisco, acquired in the same deal as lefthander Cliff Lee, started in centerfield and went 1 for 4 as Victorino rested.

AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley reports on the Phillies’ sixth inning threat resulting in starter Sanchez’s removal:

Sanchez left to a roaring standing ovation when replaced by  Justin Miller following a two-out walk to Raul Ibanez in the sixth. Francisco followed with his first hit with the Phillies, a double. It was the first decision for Sanchez in six career career appearances against Philadelphia.

Losing pitcher Lopez’s line was four innings, 72 pitches, 7 runs (only 3 earned), 8 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts and Sandoval’s third inning homer.

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

As expected, lefthander Cliff Lee has bumped Joe Blanton as the starter for the Phillies on Friday against the Giants opposing 26 year old Ryan Sadowski in game 2 as the Phils hope to even the series at a game apiece.

Blanton’s start is pushed back to Saturday when he will oppose Giant ace  Tim Lincecum.

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

Phillies Shut Out in Arizona Final, Winning Streak Ends at 4 Games

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

Phillies young lefthander J.A. Happ (7-2, 2.97 ERA) made his case to stay in the rotation with a six inning 2 run quality outing on Wednesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Too bad that the offense was totally shut down by by Yusmeiro Petit (1-5, 6.75 ERA), who had been pounded in a number of previous starts.  The Phils offense never got untracked as a dominant Petit shut down the Phils through six innings retiring 13 straight at one point, 18 of the next 20 hitters he faced following shortstop Jimmy Rollins’ lead-off first inning single.  2 Phillies relievers gave up a run each following Happ while 3 D-back relievers maintained an Arizona 4-0 shutout of the Phillies salvaging the series final and ending the Phils latest winning streak at 4 games.

With the loss, the Phillies lead in the NL East division race over 2nd place  Florida dropped to 6 games as the Marlins topped 3rd place Atlanta, now 8 games back in the division.  The Mets, now 10 games back, picked up 1/2 game on the Phils even as their game with the Colorado Rockies was postponed due to rain.

Perhaps the Phils were due to be shut out after having won 19 of 26 games thus far in July.  Happ gave up a game-opening lead off single to shortstop Stephen Drew followed by a 1 out, 2 run homer to rightfielder  Justin Upton as the D-backs took a 2-0 first inning lead.  After the homer, Happ went on to retire the next 17 of 20 hitters he faced through the sixth inning to match Petit almost pitch-for-pitch.

Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr provides a recap on the game:

J.A Happ was tacked with his second straight loss, but it was due to a lack of run support. Happ made one mistake; it was to Justin Upton and it landed in the left field bleachers. Happ pitched six innings giving up two runs on three hits and two walks [striking out 5].

Scott Eyre and Tyler Walker each gave up a run out of the bullpen, but it did not matter since the Phillies’ bats were sound asleep. The Phillies left nine men on base, and were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.  Wednesday marked the third time the Phillies have been shutout this season, and the first time since May 6.

Shane Victorino made a fantastic diving catch, but appeared to suffer some sort of injury on the play. He later left the game with a knee contusion.

To date, there have been no subsequent reports as to Victorino’s knee.

The Phils offense mounted one serious challenge in the game but came away with nothing.  AP Sports Writer Andrew Bagnato describes the Phils’ seventh inning for Yahoo sports:

After Ryan Howard singled and [Raul] Ibanez doubled to open the seventh, Petit left to a standing ovation from the Chase Field crowd.

Juan Gutierrez came on and struck out Jayson Werth and  Greg Dobbs before walking Carlos Ruiz to load the bases. Gutierrez escaped the jam by retiring pinch-hitter Pedro Feliz on a fly to center.

“To come out of that unscathed is pretty much the story of the game in that one inning,” Arizona manager A.J. Hinch said.

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

The Phillies now head for San Francisco to open a 4 game series with the Giants on Thursday.  Rodrigo Lopez (3-0, 3.09 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound in Thursday’s opener against lefthander Jonathan Sanchez, who has been mostly pounded thus far, aside from his July 10th complete game, no-hit, 11 strikeout near-perfecto against San Diego.

There is talk of newly acquired former Cy Young Award winning lefthander Cliff Lee possibly being inserted as the starter for the Phillies on Friday against the Giants, but as of this post, Joe Blanton is still slated to oppose 26 year old Ryan Sadowski in game 2 of the series.

For all of Thursday’s games, click here.

Done Deal but for Physicals: Cliff Lee to Phillies for 4 Minor Leaguers

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

            Cliff Lee          Ben Francisco

The Phillies shifted gears away from Toronto’s Roy Halladay because the asking price, J.A. Happ and top minor league prospect Kyle Drabek, was too high.

Instead, sources cited in a number of places online report that the Phils traded with the Cleveland Indians acquiring 31 year old reigning AL Cy Young Award winner lefthander Cliff Lee and righthanded hitting outfielder  Ben Francisco in exchange for Triple A minor league prospects; pitcher  Carlos Carrasco, infielder Jason Donald, catcher Lou Marson and Single-A pitcher Jason Knapp.  Sources say that, pending results of physicals, this is a done-deal.

So the Phillies not only get key piece for their pitching rotation and up their World Series chances dramatically, they also get a big bench insurance policy in Francisco who has shown power and an ability to get on base, leaving the Phils free to send outfielder John Mayberry Jr., with his .189 BA in 35 games, back to Triple-A for more seasoning.  Francisco provides insurance should leftfielder Raul Ibanez go down again with injury and also adds additional potency to a bench where, unil now, only outfielder Matt Stairs and utilityman Greg Dobbs get it done in the clutch.

AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi reports on the Lee deal for Yahoo sports:

The deal is pending medical reviews. Those reviews could take a while because three of the players the Indians are getting from Philadelphia have dealt with recent injuries.

Lee turns 31 next month and his contract includes an $8 million club option for next season.

The left-hander is 7-9 with a 3.14 ERA in 22 starts this season after going 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA last year.

Nothing else has been reported yet as to the money side of the deal.

Phillies Nation’s Amanda Orr adds these comments on the deal:

Francisco is the right-handed bat that the Phillies have been looking for. Francisco is batting .250 with 10 homers and 33 RBIs…

OPINION: This is a great deal for the Phillies. They keep Kyle Drabek, J.A Happ, Michael Taylor and Dominic Brown, their top prospects. Knapp has a lot of potential, but Marson and Donald were being blocked anyway, and Carlos Carrasco has been falling off the radar. Not only do they get a former Cy Young winner, but a bat off the bench.

The deal gives the Phillies a potent, yet lefty-heavy starting rotation with optons down the stretch with lefthanders Cole Hamels, Lee, Happ, Jamie Moyer along with righthanders Joe Blanton and Pedro Martinez — when he becomes operational on the roster.

Now the Phils need to pick up a piece or 2 of bullpen protection to back up closer Brad Lidge.  Hopefully, the quicker-than-expected rehabbing Brett Myers could help out there.

White Sox’ Buehrle Sets Consecutive Hitter Perfection Record

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

                     Mark Buehrle

A week ago last Thursday, this blog posted on Chicago White Sox lefthander Mark Buehrle’s perfect game effort against the Tampa Bay Rays.  Well, Buehrle’s perfection didn’t end there as the lefthander made a serious bid to the feat on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins.

It was batter up, batter down as Buehrle retired the first 17 batters he faced through 5 2/3 innings to set an All-Time MLB record of 45 straight hitters retired.

MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports on the previous holders of Buehrle’s record:

White Sox closer Bobby Jenks had a share of the previous record, retiring 41 straight from July 17-Aug. 12, 2007, and matching Jim Barr’s 41 in a row for San Francisco from Aug. 23-29, 1972.

With 2 outs in the sixth and the White Sox up by 1-0, Buehrle issued a walk to end the consecutive streak and any chance of a repeat perfect game. A single and a double later and the Twins had tied the game.

An inning later, in the seventh, Buehrle was pounded for 4 runs on a couple of soft, seeing-eye RBI singles before leaving the game with 1 out.

AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski reports Buehrle’s reaction to the record and to the loss:

“It’s just frustrating after a loss,” Buehrle said… “It might mean more tomorrow or the next day once I cool off. But I’m not too happy right now.”

The White Sox managed to score 2 runs in the ninth on 3rd baseman  Gordon Beckham’s RBI single, but it was not enough as the Twins prevailed by a 5-3 margin.

Hamels, Victorino Lead Phillies in Edging Diamondbacks

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

             Cole Hamels     Shane Victorino

Phillies red-hot hitting  centerfielder Shane Victorino went 3 for 4 on Tuesday with a solo homer and an RBI double off of Arizona’s Dan Haren and ace lefthander Cole Hamels threw eight innings of dominant 1 run, 4 hit ball striking out 9.  The ninth inning got a bit sticky as closer Brad Lidge walked the lead-off hitter and gave up a 2 run homer before retiring the next 3 hitters as Hamels and Victorino led the Phillies in edging the Diamondbacks by a 4-3 score in game 2 of their series.

With the win, the Phils maintained a 7 game lead in the NL East division race on 2nd place Florida who edged 3rd place Atlanta who now trails by 8 games. The Mets won and remain 10 1/2 games out in fourth place.

The Phils got behind the 8-ball early against one of the absolute-top-tier NL pitchers in Dan Haren as D-backs’ 2nd baseman Ryan Roberts solved Hamels for a 1 out solo shot to to rightfield in the first inning.  The odd thing about Roberts’ blast off of Hamels; Roberts has but 3 career homers.

To give an idea of just how good Haren’s been, check this out: Prior to Tuesday — 13 earned runs against him in 65 innings over his last 9 starts for a weak hitting, weak defensive team.  Haren’s given up only 36 earned runs in 148 innings thus far this season, including the 2 in Tuesday’s five innings against the Phils.

But Hamels retired 7 of the first 8 hitters he faced before Haren singled with 1 out in the third inning — 1 of 2 hits he gave up in the inning and out of a total of 4 hits given up over his eight innings.  Hamels then retired the final 2 hitters of the third inning enroute to retiring the next 8 hitters in a row before an error and a single in the sixth inning.  After an error and a single in the sixth, Hamels retired the final 8 hitters he faced.  The third and sixth innings were the only times the D-backs managed to reach base on Hamels who walked none while striking out 9 in out-pitching Haren.

AP sports writer Andrew Bagnato comments on Hamels in his game recap for Yahoo sports:

On this night the story was Hamels. He looked as sharp as he did last autumn, when he was named MVP of the World Series and the NL championship series.

Phillies Nations’ Amanda Orr provides a recap on Tuesday’s game:

In the third inning, Shane Victorino said aloha to Haren’s fastball up in the zone. The homer tied the game at one, and Victorino was far from finished.

With one out in the fifth, Hamels doubled to start a rally.  Jimmy Rollins reached base on Stephen Drew’s error, and Hamels headed to third. The Phillies were in perfect position to take a lead. They did so on Victorino’s ground-rule double.  Victorino finished the night a triple shy of the cycle.

Rollins scored on a fielder’s choice and a throwing error.  Chase Utley grounded to first, and Rollins was a dead duck at the plate. However, Utley made a terrific move, running in the throwing lane, but without interference. It worked, because Chad Tracy airmailed the throw, and the Phillies took a 3-1 lead.

The Phillies were able to knock out Haren after five innings.

Hamels looked like one of the league’s finest tonight, returning to his old form. He wiggled out of a couple jams, but overall was brilliant. He pitched eight innings, allowing one run on four hits…. It’s been a while since Hamels has been able to tally up the strikeouts, but he did today against the Diamondbacks.

Jayson Werth’s RBI ground out in the seventh gave the Phillies a 4-1 lead, and they needed every bit of it with Brad Lidge coming in for the save. Lidge gave up a two-run home run to Mark Reynolds, but sweat through the save.

Hamels threw 112 pitches through eight innings for his 7th win against 5 losses this season.  Losing pitcher Haren (10-6) threw 117 pitches through five innings giving up a total of 3 runs on 4 hits while walking 3 and striking out 5.  With the score at 3-1 in the seventh inning, lefthanded reliever
Scott Schoeneweis, who blew many a game against the Phils while with the Mets, was charged with the decisive winning run.

Lidge, who suffered through a dicey ninth inning by walking the lead-off hitter and then being tagged for Reynolds’ homer, retired the next 3 hitters to earn his 20th save in 26 opportunities.

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

In Wednesday’s series final, young lefthander J.A. Happ (7-1, 2.97 ERA), still being mentioned in prospective trade talks regarding Roy Halladay, etc., is scheduled to oppose Yusmeiro Petit (0-5, 7.68) as the Phils think possible sweep of the series.

For all of Wednesday’s games, click here.

Moyer, Howard Lead Phillies Past D-backs

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

       Ryan Howard    Jamie Moyer    Raul Ibanez

Phillies ageless veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer threw 6 2/3 shutout innings on Monday and 1st baseman Ryan Howard solved Arizona’s Jon Garland for a fourth inning 1 out, 2 run homer.  Shortstop Jimmy Rollins’ fifth inning double drove in another and the Phils scored 3 sixth inning runs, the last 2 on fielder’s choice groundouts. Relievers Chan Ho Park,  Ryan Madson and closer Brad Lidge took care of the rest as Moyer and Howard led Phillies past the D-backs by a 6-2 score in their series opener.

With the win, the Phils picked up 1/2 game to lead both Atlanta and  Florida by 7 games in the NL East division race.  The Braves and Marlins had the day off.  The Mets won on Monday and remain 10 1/2 games off of the pace in fourth place.

Moyer worked himself into and out of jams through the first three innings, including 3 straight no-out second inning singles rubbed out by a strikeout and ground doubleplay, and a single and a walk to open the third before retiring 14 of the next 15 D-backs hitters he faced through 2/3rds of the seventh inning.

Meanwhile, Howard solved Garland for a 2 run shot in the fourth inning staking Moyer to a 2-0 lead which the Phils built on with Rollins’ 2 out RBI double in the fifth.  Leftfielder Raul Ibanez followed a lead-off walk and a fielding error at 2nd base with an RBI single off of Garland in the sixth inning.  Rightfielder Jayson Werth was hit by a pitch to load the bases — all of this with none out.  Ibanez was 2 for 4 for the game with an RBI and a run scored. The Phillies scored their final 2 runs of the 3 run sixth inning on fielder’s choice grounders enroute to improving their MLB-best road record to 30-15.

After getting the first 2 outs in the seventh, Moyer gave up a single and a walk. Chan Ho Park relieved Moyer and recorded the final out getting a fielder’s choice grounder on 4 pitches.

Winning pitcher Moyer (10-7, 5.32 ERA) threw 104 pitches through 6 2/3 innings while giving up 6 hits, walking 4 and striking out 5.  The D-backs stranded 11 runners in the game.

Garland, who lost his 10th game of the season, threw 106 pitches through six innings giving up 6 runs on 5 hits while suffering by 2 Arizona errors.  He walked 2, struck out 2 and hit a batsman.

AP Sports Writer Andrew Bagnato notes Arizona’s defensive woes in thegame recap for Yahoo sports:

The Diamondbacks have 83 errors, second-most in the NL. That’s more than twice as many as the Phillies, whose 40 errors are the fewest in the league.

“In order to be a good team, you’ve got to catch the ball,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said.

Reliever Ryan Madson was touched for Arizona’s 2 eighth inning runs on 3rd baseman Mark Reynolds’ 27th homer.  Madson gave up 3 hits and a walk as things got sticky in the inning before he struck out shortstop  Stephen Drew to end the inning.  Lidge came on in the ninth and went clean on the Damondbacks on 14 pitches end the game.  

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

In Tuesday’s game 2, ace lefthander Cole Hamels (6-5, 4.66 ERA) opposes Dan Haren (10-5, 2.14 ERA).

For all of Tuesday’s games, click here.