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Archive for May, 2010

Phillies Shut Out Again in Loss to Florida

Monday, May 31st, 2010

Phillies ancient veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer pitched his best game since his May 7th complete game shutout of Atlanta.  But the Phils offense continued in a moribund state on Sunday making Anibal Sanchez and the  Marlins bullpen look like world-beaters.  For the 5th time in 8 games, the  Phillies were shut out again in a 1-0 loss to Florida in their series finale.

With the loss, the 2nd place Atlanta Braves crept to within 1/2 game of the NL East division leading Phillies with their win over Pittsburgh. The 2 teams are slated to meet in an early-season 3 game confrontation beginning Monday in Atlanta with the division lead on the line.  The Mets picked up a game on the Phils by beating Milwaukee and now trail by 3 games.  Washington and the Marlins are now tied 4 games off the pace.

Unfortunately, the Phillies offense is still moribund.   Even after Halladay’s perfecto, the Phils let 47 year old lefthander Jamie Moyer’s 2nd best outing of the season go for naught for lack of any offense.  This is not a power-shortage, its a power outage.  The Phils have hit for a paltry .186 average since May 22 and have gone 54 innings through Sunday’s game without a homer.  Check these stats out:  The Phils 3 Big Boppers, aside from leftfielder Raul Ibanez who is in a season-long slump, 1st baseman Ryan Howard (1 HR, 2 RBIs in last 10 games, 4 homers, 10 RBIs for May with 52 strikeouts in 215 plate appearances for the season - 49 games), 2nd baseman Chase Utley (1 HR, 2 RBIs in last 10 games, 4 homers, 9 RBIs for May), rightfielder Jayson Werth (1 HR, 2 RBIs in last 10 games, 49 strikeouts in 192 plate appearances over 49 games — a strikeout ratio worse than even Howard’s).

For his part, Moyer retired 14 of the first 16 hitters he faced, while getting the first 2 outs in the fifth inning before hitting a batsman and surrendering a single to opposing pitcher Sanchez.

AP sports writer Tim Reynolds recaps the game and Phillies offensive woes for Yahoo:

In the sixth, …Florida finally got to Moyer.

The Marlins had runners on first and second with none out, before Jorge Cantu lined into a double play. But two batters later, [Ronny] Paulino’s grounder found a hole and bounced into right field, giving [Hanley] Ramirez—who had stolen second after Moyer threw over to first repeatedly in an ultimately failed effort to keep him close — plenty of time to come around.

During the three-game series, the Phillies outscored the Marlins 4-3, Florida getting its other two runs of the weekend on a throwing error Friday night. According to STATS LLC, it was the first time since April 2009 that teams combined to score seven or fewer runs in a three-game set; the Giants and  Diamondbacks played three straight 2-0 games, San Francisco winning two, last April 17 - 19.

Jamie Moyer (5-5) gave up one run and four hits in six innings, failing in a bid to join Phil Niekro and Jack Quinn as the only pitchers to win 100 games after turning 40.

He was good. The way the Phillies are flailing at the plate, perfect might not have been enough.

Moyer threw 96 pitches in six innings while giving up the run on 4 hits and walking 2 while striking out a pair in suffering the loss.  Reliever David Herndon threw 2 fine innings giving up a hit in each inning. 

Winning pitcher Sanchez (5-2) threw 104 pitches in 6 2/3 innings holding the Phils to 3 hits while walking 3 and striking out 7.  The Florida bullpen held the Phils to 2 baserunners the rest of the way.

To view the scores of all of Sunday’s MLB games, click here.

The Phils now head for Atlanta for a 3 game series with the Braves, with the NL East division lead on the line, to end the 9 game road trip.   Joe Blanton goes in Monday’s opener opposed by Tommy Hanson for the Braves.

The Phils have Thursday off before heading home for a 7 game stand at Citizen’s Bank Park.

To view all of Monday’s games, click here.

Phillies’ Halladay Goes Perfect on Florida Marlins

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

             Roy Halladay       Roy Halladay

Am I dreaming, or did Phillies ace Roy Halladay throw a perfect game at  Florida?  Marlins starter Josh Johnson threw a brilliant seven inning 1 run, 7 hitter at the Phils on Saturday, but 2nd baseman Chase Utley reached in the third inning on centerfielder Cameron Maybin’s fielding error as shortstop Wilson Valdez scored from 1st base giving The Doc the only run he needed in an 11 strikeout, 115 pitch masterpiece as the Phillies’ Halladay goes perfect in a 1-0 win over the Florida Marlins.

With the win, the Phils held on to their 1 1/2 game lead over 2nd place Atlanta in the NL East division as the Braves kept pace by defeating Pittsburgh.  The  Mets and Washington both lost and fell to 4 games back.  The Marlins are now 5 games back in last place in the division.

Halladay’s el-perfecto was the 20th in MLB history and the 2nd this month.   Oakland’s Dallas Braden went perfect on the Tampa Bay Rays on May 9th.  It was the first time in modern MLB history that there were 2 perfect games in the same season and the first perfect game by a Phils hurler since Jim Bunning’s 1964 Father’s Day gem against the Mets. 

AP sports writer Tim Reynolds recaps the game and Halladay’s landmark performance for Yahoo:

At 9:23 p.m., when he got pinch-hitter Ronny Paulino to hit a grounder to third for the 27th out, only then could Halladay bask in his moment—breaking into a big smile and wrapping his arms around catcher Carlos Ruiz before disappearing in a joyous, jumping gray-and-red mob of teammates.

“It’s never something that you think is possible,” Halladay said. “Really, once I got the two outs, I felt like I had a chance. You’re always aware of it. It’s not something that you expect.”

Halladay struck out 11, and was cheered by a crowd of 25,086 throughout much of the night. Another fan called later—Vice President Joe Biden dialed up the Phillies’ clubhouse to offer his congratulations when it was over.

“Early in my bullpen I was hitting spots more than I have been. I felt like I just carried that out there,” Halladay said.

While there were a couple of good plays behind him—shortstop Wilson Valdez went deep into the hole for a grounder, backup third baseman Juan Castro went to his knees for another, second baseman Chase Utley ranged well to his left for another fine play—Halladay didn’t need any great defensive work in this gem.

“I think everybody knows you have to have those kind of plays to do something like that,” Halladay said.

Yes, but on this night, the 33-year-old righty known as Doc was a veritable one-man show.

“You’ve got to take your hat off to Doc,” Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “That’s why he is who he is. That’s what they got him for.”

Steely-eyed, standing tall and always working swiftly, Halladay (7-3) broke into a big smile as his teammates rushed in to congratulate him.

The Marlins said they would give Halladay the pitching rubber as a souvenir…  Working in the dark, four men went to work on the mound, digging up the slab where Halladay made history.

“Look who’s pitching,” Marlins outfielder Cody Ross said. “It’s Roy Halladay, the best pitcher in baseball. It’s not embarrassing.”

Halladay faced three Marlins pinch-hitters in the ninth.  Mike Lamb led off with a long fly ball, but Shane Victorino had plenty of time to backtrack in the super-spacious outfield at Sun Life Stadium and squeeze it for the first out.

Another pinch-hitter, Wes Helms, struck out, and the crowd… simply began to roar.

From there, it was all up to Paulino, who fouled the first pitch into the seats along the first-base side, took ball one, swung and missed for strike two, and then stabbed at Halladay’s 115th and final offering. Castro ranged to his left to get it and threw across to first baseman Ryan Howard, who caught the ball and jumped in the air.

…Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “We gave him one run. He made it stand up. That was good. Super for him.”

Halladay credited catcher Carlos Ruiz for a smooth ride.

“We felt like we got in a groove early and about the fifth or the sixth I was just following Chooch,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the job he did today. Mixed pitches. For me it was really a no-brainer.”

The NL East leaders’ lone run off Josh Johnson (5-2) came in the third, and fittingly in this battle of aces, it was unearned. Valdez singled, then scored when Chase Utley’s fly to center skipped off Cameron Maybin’s glove for a three-base error.

“It’s one of those things where everything has to go right and it did,” Maybin said. “J.J. did a great job of competing. Unfortunately, one play … that was the ballgame.”

Valdez scored easily. And Halladay had all the support he needed.

Phillies 3B Placido Polanco (bruised left elbow) was sidelined again, Castro getting the call to start for the second straight night. Polanco is expected to undergo an MRI exam on Sunday to see if the problem is more serious than originally thought.

To view the scores of all of Saturday’s MLB games, click here.

The Phils go for a sweep in the series final as ancient veteran lefthander  Jamie Moyer is opposed by Anibal Sanchez for the Marlins.

The Phils head for Atlanta following Sunday’s game for a 3 game series with the Braves to end the 9 game road trip.

To view all of Sunday’s games, click here.

Phillies Rally to Edge Florida, Halt Losing Streak

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

     Kyle Kendrick      Ryan Howard     Jose Contreras

It took 31 innings but, down 2-0 on Friday, the Phillies finally dented homeplate scoring single runs in the fourth, fifth and seventh innings off of Florida starter Chris Volstad.  Meanwhile, Kyle Kendrick coasted through the 1st two innings and retired the first 2 hitters he faced in the third before giving up 2 singles and letting the 2 runs score on his own errant throw to 1st base on a comebacker by shortstop Hanley Ramirez.  After a seventh inning double-steal of 2nd and 3rd base, 2nd baseman Chase Utley drove in centerfielder Shane Victorino with the go-ahead run as the Phillies rallied to edge Florida by a 3-2 score, halting their losing streak at 5 games and their scoreless string at 31 innings.

With the win, the Phils remained 1 1/2 games ahead of Atlanta in the NL East as the Braves beat Pittsburgh.  The Mets, with their loss to Milwaukee, dropped into a 3rd place tie with Washington who beat San Diego.  Florida dropped to 4 games off of the pace and 1 game under .500 ball.

Once again, the Phillies were way short of what they are capable of in the offense department, but Kendrick held them in the game and the bullpen did a great job holding the lead once the Phils rallied.  Reliever Jose Contreras survived two 1 out singles and struck out 2 while earning his 3rd save in 3 opportunities. AP sports writer Tim Reynolds recaps the game for Yahoo:

Thanks to their leadoff hitter, and a goof by Kendrick, the Marlins opened the scoring with two runs in the third.

With two outs, [Chris] Coghlan fouled off seven straight offerings in what became a 12-pitch at-bat, eventually hitting a sharp single to left. After another single, Kendrick nearly escaped when Hanley Ramirez hit a comebacker and started a slow jog to first.

But Kendrick rushed the throw, the ball sailing out of Howard’s reach, and Coghlan and [Gabi] Sanchez scored for a 2-0 lead.

“Kind of slipped on the way out and just babied it or whatever,” Kendrick said. “Just a bad throw. Totally my fault. We came back, though.”

Ryan Howard hadn’t had that much fun sprinting 270 feet in a long time.

Howard came around from first base to score Philadelphia’s first run in 31 innings on a triple by Raul Ibanez.

“Sometimes all it takes is just one, and just one big moment to kind of get things going,” Howard said. “I think you could kind of say it was an exhale when we got that run across.”

Howard led off the fourth with a single off Chris Volstad (3-6), and Ibanez — hitting fifth for the first time all season, thanks to Jayson Werth getting the night off—connected on a hard line drive to center field. The ball skipped past Cameron Maybin, rolling toward the wall and turning into a triple that gave Howard plenty of time to score from first base.

It was the break the Phillies had been waiting, oh, about a week for.

The Phillies used heady baserunning to set up both the tying and go-ahead runs—Utley decided on his own to swipe second in the fifth inning, which allowed him to score on Howard’s single, while Victorino led a double steal and scored what was the game-winner on Utley’s grounder in the seventh.

Volstad gave up seven hits and three runs in 6 1-3 innings.

Kendrick recorded his 3rd win of the season going six full innings giving up the 2 runs on 5 hits while walking none and striking out 1.

To view the scores of all of Friday’s MLB games, click here.

On Saturday, Roy Halladay hopes to regain his groove after 2 straight losses.  The Doc is opposed by Josh Johnson who has given up but 7 runs in his past 35 innings over his last 6 starts, winning 4 of them.  

In Sunday’s series final, ancient veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer is opposed by Anibal Sanchez for the Marlins.

To view all of Saturday’s and Sunday’s games, click here and here.

Phillies Swept on 3rd Straight Shutout by Mets

Friday, May 28th, 2010

Lefthander Cole Hamels looked again like vintage 2008 on Thursday but the moribund Phillies offense continued in shut-down mode despite 5 walks by  Mets starter Mike Pelfrey. Shortstop and leadoff hitter Jose Reyes went 3 for 4 including a seventh inning 2 run double and leftfielder Jason Bay followed Reyes’ first inning leadoff single with a 1 out RBI double as the Phillies suffered through a 3-0 loss, a humiliating 0 for 27 straight inning shutout sweep by the Mets.

With the Phils’ 5th straight loss, 4 by shutout, the 2nd place Atlanta Braves crept to within 1 1/2 games of the NL East division leaders by beating Florida.  The Mets crept into 3rd place, 2 games back, with the win.  The Marlins dropped into a 4th place tie with Washington at 3 games back.  The Nationals lost their game to San Francisco.

The Phillies losing streak is now at 5 games, 4 of those losses being shutouts as the previously potent offense has gone comatose.  The sweep marked the first time since 1983 that Philadelphia was blanked three days in a row.  Centerfielder an leadoff hitter Shane Victorino went 3 for 4 with leftfielder Raul Ibanez collecting the only other hit off of Pelfrey, who was not exactly a pillar of control issuing 5 walks.  The Phils were wiped out 3 times on doubleplays, but still left 5 runners stranded and didn’t come through with 9 runners on base in another humiliating display of offensive underproduction and ineptness.

We could talk about the feat of the Met’s pitching staff holding the powerful Phillies off of the scoreboard for 3 straight games — a knuckle-baller, an odd delivery and Pelfrey’s sinker — that they mercifully missed facing Johan Santana. We could even talk about the perils of a long rain delay, which seemed not to bother either Pelfrey or Hamels.

The bottom-line, come what may after Charlie’s Wednesday team close-door, seems to be that when the offense is on a roll, on all cylinders — in a zone, they are torrid.  When they are not, it seems that they are horrid and there seems to be little in-between in that area called “consistency.”  They need shortstop, leadoff man and table-setter Jimmy Rollins back — badly.   They need to cut down their strikeouts which are again mounting; 2nd baseman  Chase Utley with 28 in 44 games, 1st baseman Ryan Howard with 49 in 46 games and rightfielder Jayson Werth with 43 in 46 games and they need to make consistent, solid contact with the ball.  It’s as simple as that.

Click here for AP sports writer Ben Walker’s game recap for Yahoo, I haven’t got the stomach to continue on this one — this losing string is indeed ugly.

To view the scores of all of Thursday’s MLB games, click here.

It’s on to Florida where the Phils play a 3 game weekend set with the Marlins.   Kyle Kendrick goes for the Phils in Friday’s series opener against Chris Volstad for the Marlins.  On Saturday, ace Roy Halladay hopes to regain his groove after 2 straight losses.  The Doc is opposed by Josh Johnson who has given up but 7 runs in his past 35 innings spanning over his last 6 starts, winning 4 of them.

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

Mets Shut Out Phillies Again; Time for Meeting With Charlie?

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Japanese lefthander Hisanori Takahashi picked up where R.A. Dickey, a knuckleballer, left off for the Mets on Wednesday and catcher Rod Barajas continued his plague on the Phillies with a sacrifice RBI and a 2 run double.  The Phils offense continued in a moribund state in losing their 4th straight game as the Mets shut out the Phillies again — by a 5-0 score.  Is it time for a meeting with Charlie?

With the Phillies loss, the NL East bunched up even more.  2nd place Atlanta picked up a game on the Phils and are 2 1/2 games off the pace after beating Florida.  The Marlins, Mets and Washington are now all tied at 3 games back. The Nationals dealt Cy Young winning lefthander Tim Lincecum his first loss of 2010 in beating the San Francisco Giants.

Obviously Phils manager Charlie Manuel’s thinking was in synch with this blog, for AP sports writer Howie Rumberg noted in his recap for Yahoo:

Manager Charlie Manuel closed the clubhouse for 15 minutes afterward.

“A lot of times when you’re not scoring runs, you look dead. You look like you have no energy,” Manuel said. “I’d like for us to pick it up a little bit, a little more intensity a little more fire.”

Shane Victorino, in a 3 for 26 slump (.115), said the meeting was about “losing the right way.”

“There was no yelling. There was no screaming. You know Charlie, he’s not going to get deep,” Victorino said. “He just wanted to make a few points and he did.”

The Phillies mustered only seven hits in their fourth straight loss. The defending NL champs are hitting .199 (51 for 256) in their last eight games and have been outscored 37-15. …Facing the awkward hesitation motion of Takahashi did not help.

Hisanori Takahashi is making a habit out of fooling some of baseball’s best hitters with his double-pump leg-kick motion and deceptive changeup.

In his second big league start—both against last year’s World Series opponents—Takahashi threw another six scoreless innings…

Rod Barajas had a two-run double and a sacrifice fly off Joe Blanton and Jose Reyes had his fourth straight multihit game, with his first homer of the season for New York.

The Phillies were shut out in consecutive games for the first time since August 2008, and they were blanked for the third time in four games.

Luis Castillo had two of the Mets’ four stolen bases in their fourth straight win.

Takahashi (4-1) gave up five hits without walking a batter and striking out six.  The 35-year-old left-hander, in the rotation because of injuries to Jonathon Niese and John Maine, and  Oliver Perez’s inability to throw strikes, pitched five-hit ball for six innings Friday against the Yankees in his big league debut as a starter.

Philadelphia did not advance a runner to third until there was one out in the sixth, and then Takahashi fooled the No. 4 and 5 hitters into easy outs.  Ryan Howard flailed helplessly at an 82 mph changeup for strike three and Jayson Werth hit a lazy fly to right.

“I know he’s one of the biggest hitters in the game, and (Rod) Barajas had a good plan to get him out,” Takashi said of Howard. “I stuck to the plan.”

Relievers Jenrry Mejia, Ryota Igarashi and Fernando Nieve each worked an inning to complete the shutout.

Ike Davis led off the second by doubling off the wall in center, just to the right of the 408 foot sign. He went to third on Angel Pagan’s single to right and scored on Barajas’ sacrifice fly off Blanton (1-3).

Reyes led off the third with a homer.

In the sixth, Barajas hit a two-run double off Blanton and Reyes greeted reliever Chad Durbin with an RBI single to make it 5-0.

Blanton gave up five runs and six hits. He walked four, one intentional.

Look, I love Shane Victorino — a lot of hustle, fine centerfielder, often comes through with big clutch hits.  But the “Flyin’ Hawaiian” is no leadoff hitter.  The Phils badly need shortstop Jimmy Rollins back and at the top of this lineup.  He sets the offensive table for a multitude of threats.

Relievers Antonio Bastardo and Nelson Figueroa each went clean on the Mets in the eighth and ninth innings respectively.

To view the scores of all of Wednesday’s MLB games, click here.

The Phils hope to avoid an embarrassing sweep in the series finale as lefthander Cole Hamels is opposed by Mike Pelfrey for the Mets.  Then its on to Florida where the Phils play a 3 game weekend set with the Marlins.

To view all of Thursday’s games, click here.

Knuckleballer Dickey Stymies Phillies in Mets Rout

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Veteran lefthander Jamie Moyer and 2 Phillies relievers were pounded on Tuesday as another knuckleballer, R.A. Dickey, a veteran 35 year old righthander who was called up by the Mets from Triple-A Buffalo a week ago, tossed a six inning shutout.  Despite a 3 for 5 effort by 3rd baseman Placido Polanco, the Phils left 13 runners stranded while their hitters failed to come through with 24 runners on base as knuckleballer Rickey stymied the Phillies in a Mets 8-0 rout.

With the loss, the 2nd place Florida Marlins moved to within 3 games of the NL East leading Phillies with Atlanta at 3 1/2 games back.  Washington dropped to 4 games back losing to San Francisco. The Mets, winners of Tuesday’s game have edged closer to the Phils tying with the Nationals at 4 games back.

In probably the Phillies ugliest game thus far in 2010, shortstop Jose Reyes got the ball rolling against Moyer in the first inning with a leadoff single to leftfield, advancing to 2nd base on a sacrifice bunt, stealing 3rd and scoring on leftfielder Jason Bay’s grounder to shortstop. 

The Phils opened the second inning with 3 straight hits off of Rickey but came away empty.  1st baseman Ryan Howard singled hitting Rickey on on his non-pitching elbow.  Rightfielder Jayson Werth followed slamming a single to right centerfield with Howard only making 2nd base.  Leftfielder Raul Ibanez singled to leftfield with Howard only making 3rd — loading the bases.  But catcher Carlos Ruiz hit an easy grounder that catcher Rod Barajas gobbled up throwing to 1st base to get Ruiz and applying a tag on the slow-footed Howard on the relay for a doubleplay.  Shortstop Juan Castro walked to load the bases again with 2 out.  But Rickey struck out Moyer to end the inning and the threat.

The rest of the game continued the same way offensively for the Phils who had men on in every inning but the fourth as the collected 9 hits received 5 walks, 3 by Rickey and 2 more by lefthanded reliever Raul Valdez in his three inning stint to knotch his 1st save.

Meanwhile, the Mets knotched their 2nd run in the second inning on rightfielder Jeff Francoeur’s 1 out RBI single and their 3rd run on Francoeur’s 1 out fourth inning sacrifice fly to left centerfield.  Bay drove in the 4th run on Moyer in the fifth, his final inning of work.

Then pinch hitter Chris Carter singled in a run in the sixth inning off of reliever David Herndon — 1 of 2 hits Herndon allowed in his two innings of work.

With the score 5-0, the Mets peppered their former teammate Nelson Figueroa piling on 3 more runs on 4 hits in the eighth inning.

Moyer, who has 5 wins, lost his 4th game of the season but pitched another Moyer-type game keeping the Phillies in it.  But once again, as with the 2 losses to the Boston Red Sox, the Phils didn’t deliver and thus plated no runs while leaving a ton of runners stranded.  Rickey notched his 1st win of the season.

To view the scores of all of Monday’s and Tuesday’s MLB games, click here and here.

In game 2, Joe Blanton faces Japanese lefthander Hisanori Takahashi.

To view all of Wednesday’s games, click here.