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Archive for March, 2010

Astros Beat Phillies, Kendrick Pulled After 2 Innings

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick was abruptly pulled on Tuesday after two innings and giving up a run on 2 hits while driving in a run himself against the Houston Astros.  He was told by manager Charlie Manuel that veteran 47 year old Jamie Moyer was to be the 5th starter in the rotation and that he (Kendrick) would start the season in a bullpen role.  Meanwhile, the Astros lit up high-priced reliever Jose Contreras for 3 runs on 3 hits with the reliever issuing 2 walks in the fifth inning and reliever David Herndon gave up a rare spring run in the seventh during 2 1/3 innings of work as the  Astros beat the Phillies by a 5-2 score when Kendrick was pulled After 2 innings.  

The Phillies are a very good team with a great shot to three-peat to the 2010 World Series, but I’ve gotta question management’s long-term thinking and sensitivity in pulling Kendrick’s plug early and how that’ll play on Kendrick’s psyche.   Don’t forget that 2 seasons ago, this is the guy who was “punked — traded for a Japanese hot dog eater.”

Outside of 2nd baseman Chase Utley’s 2 for 5, catcher Brian Schneider’s 2 for 4 and leftfielder Raul Ibanez’s RBI single — the Phillies offense, essentially 7 their season-opening starting 8, took the game off. 

Meanwhile, former Phil centerfielder Michael Bourn went 4 for 5 with a run scored and former Phillies 3rd baseman Pedro Feliz went 2 for 4.  However, the heavy damage was done by leftfielder Carlos Lee who went 2 for 3 with 2 doubles and 4 RBIs.

Jose Contreras has been banged around in spring exhibition games losing his 2nd and looks anything but like a reliever worth the $10 million that the Phils spent on him.

Astro starter and winning pitcher Bud Norris gave up 2 second inning runs while striking out 7 Phillies through five innings while giving up 6 hits and walking none.  Over the final 4 innings, 5 Phils reached — 3 on hits and 2 on walks as 4 Houston relievers struck out 8 Phillies.

MLB.com previews Wednesday’s exhibition game:

Wednesday will mark the return of Roy Halladay at 1:05 p.m. ET in Clearwater, Fla… This will be the first time Halladay has faced the Blue Jays since being dealt from Toronto in a blockbuster trade this offseason….   Ryan Madson and Chad Durbin are also slated to pitch.

Phillies Edged by Atlanta on Ninth Inning Homer

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Phillies lefthander J.A. Happ walked a spring high 5 batters and hit the 90 pitch plateau on Monday for the first time this spring while giving up 2 runs on 3 hits and striking out 4 in five innings.  With the Phils up over Atlanta 4-2 after six innings, reliever Chad Durbin gave up the tying runs on a 2 run homer in the seventh.  And Ryan Madson coughed up the game winner as the Phillies were edged by the Braves by a 5-4 score on a ninth inning homer by utility player Eric Hinske.

The AP recap for Yahoo sports got Phils’ pitching coach Rich Dubee’s reaction to the homer and to Phillies pitching through the game:

“He tried to take something off, he slowed his whole body up and pretty much telegraphed it,” pitching coach Rich Dubee said.

“He tried to throw a (batting practice) fastball, something he hasn’t done since 2002”…

After a walk, Madson rebounded to strike out three batters to end the inning.

“He was dead today, just a little dead,” Dubee said of Madson’s effort.

Hinske singled in the seventh off Chad Durbin and Brooks Conrad hit a tying home run.

Happ’s next appearance will come in an exhibition game in Philadelphia on Saturday against Pittsburgh.  He has a 3.06 ERA in six starts.

“I made some good pitches, but they were ahead in the count and laying off them,” Happ said. “They didn’t have to swing the bat for a while, especially in the fourth inning. I have to be a little bit more aggressive I guess. It’s such a fine line between being aggressive in the strike zone and missing.”

Happ finished strong. He retired the last three hitters he faced, including strikeouts of Troy Glaus and Martin Prado in the fifth inning.

Philadelphia LHP J.C. Romero appeared in his first game of the spring, a minor league intrasquad game. He faced four batters, striking out two of them without allowing a runner. Romero, who had left elbow surgery in October, has set the home opener (April 12) as a goal to join the team.  Joe Blanton allowed 11 runs and 11 hits in five innings of the same intrasquad minor league game Romero pitched.

On Tuesday, the Phillies travel to Houston’s camp to play the Astros as 5th starter contender Kyle Kendrick makes his final bid to win the spot.  If veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer holds on and wins the spot, Kendrick will see duty in the bullpen.  Relievers Jose Contreras and David Herndon are also scheduled to see action.

Hamels Pounded as Twins Beat Phillies

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Phillies lefthander Cole Hamels suffered through another disappointing outing on Saturday — 5 runs, 7 hits, 2 walks and 2 strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings which adds up to 11 earned runs in his past two starts while his ERA rose to 5.57.   Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer rang up Hamels for 2 hits and a pair of RBIs and DH Jim Thome belted a ninth inning 2 run homer off of reliever Jose Contreras as the Phils’ 2nd stringers showed offense, but not enough.  Hamels was pounded as Twins handed the Philies an 8-4 loss.

The AP recap for Yahoo sports notes:

Cole Hamels got his first look at the Minnesota Twins’ $184 million man on Saturday, and it didn’t take him long to get Joe Mauer all figured out.

“When I do have to face him, I now know how to pitch him, I think,” Hamels said after facing the AL MVP three times in an exhibition on Saturday. “Don’t throw anything near the plate.”

Mauer, who signed an eight-year contract extension earlier this month that will kick in after this season at $23 million per year, is hitting .448 this spring. He had a single in the fourth inning and a two-run double in the fifth.

Wow. Joe Mauer,” Hamels said of the three-time batting champion. “He hit the ball hard.”

Michael Cuddyer added a two-run double in the fourth and Jim Thome hit a two-run homer to the opposite field off Jose Contreras for the Twins. Cuddyer started the day leading the majors in batting average (.513) and on-base percentage (.568) this spring.

“It’s a very, very talented lineup really from top to bottom,” Thome said.

He was rolling right through the spring with a 1.69 ERA in three starts until the Yankees scored seven runs—six earned—on nine hits in four innings on Monday. Hamels said after that start that he wasn’t concerned because he was working primarily on his fastball. He used all of his pitches on Saturday, including a curveball that he has added this offseason.

Despite giving up 11 earned runs in his past two starts and seeing his ERA rise to 5.57, Hamels said he feels great and is ready for the regular season to start. He’ll come right after ace Roy Halladay(notes) in the rotation for the Phillies, who are looking for their third straight NL pennant.

“I’m healthy,” said Hamels, who won the NLCS and World Series MVP awards in 2008 but struggled last season. “That’s the biggest thing. That’s something I’ve worked on so hard. I feel strong. And being able to go out there and having the confidence the way my body is going to respond, that’s everything. That’s the way you want to be in spring.”

Frankly, I find Hamels’ explanations regarding why he’s getting hit, about his health and how he’s got things figured out, i.e. against All Star catcher Mauer, are wearing a bit thin after 2009.  But we will see.  I hope that he straightens out for real, but I think that both Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick should be in the rotation off of their strong spring performances and that  perhaps Hamels ought to be shelved off of his recent performances.

The AP recap also notes:

Greg Dobbs had a homer and a double for the Phillies.

Twins starter Nick Blackburn gave up two runs on six hits in four innings against a bunch of Phillies backups.

“I’m really glad I’m not facing our lineup,” Blackburn said. “There are no breaks at all.”

Relievers Danys Baez and David Herndon gave up 1 hit between them in 2/3 of an inning and 1/3 of an inning respectively.

The Phillies host the Pirates on Sunday in Clearwater as starter Joe Blanton gets the ball with Ryan Madson and Antonio Bastardo are also scheduled to pitch.

Phillies’ Moyer, 2 Relievers Shut Out Yankees

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

The Phillies are having a whole lot of fun at the expense of the Yankees, their 2009 World Series opponents.   This time, it was ageless veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer who threw a 6 2/3 inning 1 hit shutout on Friday while striking out 6 and walking none as his mound opponent starter Phil Hughes was lucky to get through 3 innings giving up only 1 run.  He gave up only 2 hits while walking 4. Hughes struck out 5.  The Phils scored 2 eighth inning insurance runs against a training camp reliever invitee as  Phillies’ Moyer and 2 relievers shut out the Yankees by a 3-0 score.

Moyer’s spring performances thus far, and his statement performance against the Yanks on Friday are having a strong impact on management decision-making by Charlie Manual and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. regarding the 5th starter spot, despite Kyle Kendrick’s 1.37 ERA in 19 2/3 innings over five games.

The AP recap of the game for Yahoo sports notes:

“Pretty good,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. “Threw good quality strikes down. Even when he missed, he was close. Got a little yo-yo on it every now and then. Back door. Up and down.”

Moyer underwent two major offseason surgeries. He had a sports hernia operation in October and underwent another procedure on his left knee in January.

“I really didn’t know what to expect because I haven’t been through his kind of thing in the past,” Moyer said. “So, go wing it and see what happens. Being in this clubhouse with this group of guys, it’s a winning environment, it’s a winning situation. It’s really hard to walk away from.”

The lone hit off Moyer was a one-out single by Marcus Thames in the first….  Yankees star Alex Rodriguez went 0 for 3.

Hughes started on three days’ rest with New York lining up its rotation for the regular season. He worked out of a base-loaded, two-out jam in the second by striking out Jimmy Rollins.

“He didn’t throw a ton of pitches (in Monday’s outing),” manager Joe Girardi said.

Moyer picked up the win and Hughes was tagged with the loss a Phillies relievers Chad Durbin (1 1/3 innings) and Ryan Madson (1 inning) finished up the shutout with Madson credited with a save.

The MLB.com report on the game adds this on Moyer’s performance:

Moyer threw 74 pitches on Friday and wanted to go longer. And why not? He was in the process of silencing one of the league’s best offenses.

“I’ve proven to myself that I’m healthy,” he said. “That’s really the only thing. Do I have the arm strength?  Do I have the health to do what they ask me to do?  Beyond that, it’s out of my control.”

He will start at home in five days against the Blue Jays, one day after Kendrick’s next outing. At that point the Phillies will have to make their choice.

Moyer is simply trying to make it an easy one.

3rd baseman Placido Polanco and centerfielder Shane Victorino each garnered 2 hits with the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” picking up 2 RBIs.

On Saturday, lefthander Cole Hamels is slated to start as the Phils take the long bus ride down to Fort Myers to play the Minnesota Twins minus all eight of their regulars.  Also slated for relief pitching chores are Danys Baez, Jose Contreras and David Herndon.

Kendrick Sharp as Phillies Edge Astros

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick added another feather to his cap in competing for the 5th starter role.  He put in a solid performance on Thursday giving up 2 runs, 1 of them unearned, on 5 hits while walking 2 and striking out 1 in 5 2/3 innings in dueling with Houston starter and former teammate  Brett Myers.  With the Phillies holding a 6-4 lead into the eighth inning, reliever Antonio Bastardo was pounded for 3 eighth inning runs on a 3 run homer by 1st baseman Chris Shelton before pinch hitter Greg Dobbs’ two-out ninth inning single to leftfield drove in John Mayberry, Jr. with the winning run.  Kendrick looked sharp as Phillies edged Astros by an 8-7 score.

Centerfielder Shane Victorino led a 15 hit attack going 3 for 3 with an RBI, while 2nd baseman Chase Utley, shortstop Juan Castro and catcher Brian Schneider all had 2 hits apiece.

Reliever Jose Contreras also gave up 2 runs on no hits while issuing 2 walks in 1 1/3 innings in relief of Kendrick.  Two training camp invitees ended up as winner and loser respectively.

The AP recap for Yahoo sports notes:

Myers, who spent eight seasons with the Phillies, was replaced… after facing one batter in the sixth inning. Myers was hurt while covering first base when Philadelphia first baseman Ross Gload grounded out to open the sixth.

Philadelphia RHP Roy Halladay pitched seven sharp innings in a minor league game against the Yankees’ farm team in Tampa on Thursday. Halladay allowed two runs on seven hits while striking out seven and walking one. Halladay, who threw 99 pitches.

Veteran ageless lefthander Jamie Moyer, the other contestant for the 5th rotation spot, is scheduled to start Friday night as the Phillies travel to Tampa to take on the New York Yankees.

Happ Pounded as Braves Blank Phillies

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Phillies Lefthander J.A. Happ suffered through his first bad outing of the spring on Wednesday, getting tagged by the Atlanta Braves and giving up 4 runs, 6 hits, while walking 3, striking out 3 and coughing 3 homers in his five innings. The Phillies offense took the day off getting shut out for the 3rd game in their last 6, this held to 3 hits while collecting 6 walks.  Happ was pounded as Braves blanked the Phillies by an 8-0 score.

2 of the 3 Phillies hits were collected by 3rd baseman Placido Polanco, including a double. Shortstop Jimmy Rollins, who is having a fine spring, collected the other single.

Braves starter Tim Hudson was in impressive in his six inning effort giving up all 3 Phillies hits, while walking 2 and striking out 4.  Catcher Brian McCann had a big game going 3 for 4, with 2 of the hits being homers, and driving in 4 runs.

David Herndon escaped unscathed from trouble in the sixth inning giving up a hit and walking 2.  It was Herndon’s eighth scoreless relief inning of the spring.  Relievers Danys Baez and Ryan Madson both took poundings.  Baez couldn’t get through the seventh inning with a camp invitee registering the final out of the inning.  By the time Madson was pounded in the ninth though, it was garbage time as the Phillies offense was moribund.

The Phils play the Houston Astros on Thursday as Kyle Kendrick gets the start opposing former teammate Brett Myers as Kendrick’s bid for the final rotation spot continues.  Myers, when not re-signed by the Phils and picked up by the Astros, promised to “stick it” to the Phillies every time he faced them.

MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports:

Right-hander Roy Halladay is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League Spring Training game at the Carpenter Complex.