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Phillies Through 12 Games: Starting Pitching Superb, Offense Flat

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Roy Halladay    Carlos Ruiz   Hunter Pence   Jon Papelbon
The Phillies sit in a now unfamiliar spot, the basement in the NL East, albeit let’s hope temporarily, with a record of 5 wins, 7 losses.  The 2012 team is a study in contrasts; their starting pitching has consistently gone deep into games and has given up 24 runs over the span of 82 1/3 innings for an even 2.0 runs per game over the first 12 games of the season.  Of the 34 total runs given up by the staff over the first 12 games, the bullpen was responsible for 10 runs in 26 1/3 relief innings.

Forget about ERA for a moment.  Phils pitching has given up 34 runs in 108 2/3 innings, an average of 0.314 runs per inning and 2.83 runs per game.  Regrettably, the offense has provided only 35 runs over the 12 game span, including 15 runs over 2 of the games, an average of 2.91 runs over the first 12 games.   “The Doc” Roy Halladay is undefeated at 3-0 (1.17 ERA) , while Cliff Lee is 0-1 in 3 starts (1.96 ERA) and both Cole Hamels (3.65 ERA) and Joe Blanton are 1-1 (4.16 ERA) in 2 starting outings.  Second year starter Vance Worley is 0-1 (3.75 ERA) in 2 starts.  And, oh yeah, newly acquired closer Jon Papelbon is fine so far, notching 3 saves while giving up 1 run in five innings of work over his 5 appearances.  That was RyanWho???

One can follow pitching stats through the season by clicking here.

That the Phils’ record is 5-7 over their first 12 games this season, while going 9-3 in their 12 in 2011, is primarily due to an offense soo flat that it could have been unleavened, 18 minute matzah.    When one looks at the Phils’ offensive leaders and productivity, the offensive short-circuits become clear.  They’ve hit but 5 homers in the 12 game span, 2 of them by rightfielder Hunter Pence who leads the club with a .326 BA, and with 7 RBIs.   In 2011, over the same 12 gams span, 1st baseman Ryan Howard (still on the DL) lead the club with 3 homers, 13 RBIs and a .308 BA.   When one gets past catcher  Carlos Ruiz who’s hitting .306 with a homer and 3 RBIs and centerfielder Shane Victorino hitting .277 with 5 stolen bases, the rest over the offense is abysmal.   When one sees things like shortstop Jimmy Rollins striking out 10 times in 12 games, outfielder John Mayberry Jr. with 9 K’s in 12 games, rookie infielder Freddie Galvis with a homer and 5 RBIs and a .237 BA and 3rd baseman Placido Polanco batting .179, it dawns on fans that the Phils badly need Howard and 2nd baseman Chase Utley back playing regularly and injury-free.

This blog previously reported on Halladay’s brilliant opening day shut-out.   Below are box scores and recaps of the Phils’ subsequent 11 games:

Pittsburgh 2, Phillies 1, 10 innings         Recap
 
Pittsburgh 5, Phillies 4                          Recap

Miami 6, Phillies 2                                 Recap
 
Phillies 7, Miami 1                                 Recap
 
Phillies 3, Miami 1                                 Recap
 
Mets 5, Phillies 2                                  Recap
 
Mets 1, Phillies 0                                  Recap

Phillies 8, Mets 2
                                  Recap

Phillies 5, San Francisco 2                     Recap
 
San Francisco 4, Phillies 2                     Recap
San Francisco 1, Phillies 0, 11 Innings    Recap
.
The Phils now head to San Diego for 4 games between Thursday through Sunday with the Padres followed by 3 Games in  Arizona with the Diamondbacks before returning home on the 27th of April to begin a 4 game series with those Chicago Cubs.

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Phillies Nip Pirates in Season Opener as ” Doc” Operates and Ruiz Drives in Winner

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Roy Halladay    Carlos Ruiz    Jon Papelbon
Catcher Carlos Ruiz, who carried a hot bat through the spring exhibition games, was a perfect 3-3 and drove in the Phillies’ only run with a 1 out seventh inning sacrifice fly to rightfield.    Ace of aces Roy Halladay threw 92 pitches through eight masterful innings, only giving up 2 first inning hits as the  Phillies nipped the Pittsburgh Pirates on  Opening Day by a 1-0 score.

The first 2 Bucs up in the first inning singled off of Halladay before the All Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner retired the next 21 of 23 hitters he faced in a masterful performance on Opening Day.  After the first, the only runners to reach on “The Doc” were centerfielder Andrew McCutchen with 1 out in the fourth and shortstop Clint Barmes with 2 out in the eighth, both of the hit batsmen.

Old former Phillies’ catcher and nemesis Rod Barajas took an 0-3 collar and was one of Halladay’s 5 strikeout victims.

Pirates’ Opening Day starter lefthander Eric Bedard lived up to the Bucs’ hopes for potential matching Halladay’s 0’s through six innings while giving up 4 hits and walking 1.   But, in the seventh, rightfielder Hunter Pence, batting in the clean-up spot with 1st baseman Ryan Howard still on the DL, led off by lining out to shallow centerfield.  Ty Wigginton, playing 1st base, touched Bedard for a single to centerfield.

Leftfielder John Mayberry Jr. followed by doubling to rightfield, with Wigginton taking 3rd base.   Ruiz, perfect in 3 of his 4 plate appearances, hit a sacrifice fly to shallow right plating Wigginton and making Bedard the losing pitcher.   2nd baseman Freddie Galvis, batting eighth in the order and subbing for DL 2nd baseman Chase Utley, ended the inning by grounding out to shortstop.

“The Doc” was not only masterful on the mound, but singled to open the eighth, but was stranded along with 3rd baseman Placido Polanco who was walked with 1 out.

Closer Jon Papelbon came on in the ninth and did what closers are supposed to do: go clean on the Pirates on 10 pitches, 9 of them for strikes while striking out 1 for his first save as a Phil.

For all of Thursday’s scores in both leagues, click here.

The Phils play the 2nd and 3rd games of their season opening 3 game series in Pittsburgh on Saturday and Sunday as  All Star lefthander Cliff Lee is opposed by Jeff Karstens on Saturday.   

On Sunday, the 2011 rookie of the year candidate and 2nd year hurler Vance Worley and James McDonald are scheduled to oppose each other in the rubber game of the series.

Please Note:
  a wrap-up of the Phillies’ spring exhibition games will follow shortly and we will discuss the 25 man Season Opening roster, Ryan Madson’s going down with a “Tommy John” elbow injury in Cincinnati and more.

For all of Saturday’s and Sunday’s action in both leagues, click here and here.

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Phillies at Halfway Mark in Exhibition Games

Monday, March 19th, 2012

Vance Worley     Jimmy Rollins    Kyle Kendrick

As the Phillies approach the halfway mark in the exhibition schedule, Vance Worley has been impressive in the spring of his sophmore season in MLB giving up but 2 runs in ten innings of work over a 3 game span.   He’s been particularly brilliant over the last eight innings striking out 11 while giving up 4 hits.  Reliever Antonio Bastardo has also been impressive in four innings of relief over 4 games, giving up just 1 hit and no runs.  Kyle Kendrick has been great as well, giving up 4 hits over 8 1/3 innings while striking out 9 and holding opponents scoreless in 2 relief efforts and 1 start.   Closer Jon Papelbon has given up 6 hits, but only 1 run thus far this spring, while walking 2 and striking out 4 in five innings of work.

Ace starters Roy Halladay and lefthander Cliff Lee have been dinged a few times in the exhibition season while working to iron out some rough edges.  Neither Halladay nor Lee seem concerned, although some reporters have expressed alarm. The other ace, lefthander Cole Hamels also may be struggling a bit this spring, although he’s only been scored on twice in 10 2/3 innings over 3 games.  He’s given up 11 hits over that span while striking out 7.  Hamels has only walked 1 this spring, while Halladay has issued 1 free pass and Lee 2.  Joe Blanton, competing with Kendrick and Worley for either the 4th or fifth starter spot, tossed scoreless ball in his first 2 starts before giving up a 3 runs, including a homer in five innings in his most recent start which the Phils utlimately won over Atlanta last Thursday by a 6-4 score.

Offensively, the Phils have neither looked impressive nor consistent having scored 84 runs over 17 games through Saturday for about an even 5.0 average per game.  But then again, they are without two of their biggest cogs in 1st baseman Ryan Howard and 2nd baseman Chase Utley, and their other horses;  shortstop Jimmy Rollins, rightfielder Hunter Pence and centerfielder Shane Victorino have yet to find offensive consistency.   3rd baseman Placido Polanco seemed to be finding his hitting eye before reportedly going down with a sprained finger.     Utley might make it for opening day, but don’t look for Howard before May.   Therefore, the Phils hope for consistency from Rollins, Pence, Victorino, and hopefully Polanco while trying to patch together some offensive punch until they are back at full strength.

Reports note that Utley should debut in exhibition games next week.  Dontrelle Willis’ attempt at being a lefthanded arm in the bullpen failed, despite his clean inning Thursday vs the Braves, as the Phils released him on Friday.

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Phillies’ First 10 Exhibition Games: Some Positives and Negatives

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

  Joe Blanton    Wilson Valdez    Hunter Pence   Jon Papelbon

Through the first 11 Grapefruit League exhibition games, the Phillies sport a 5-5 record with 1 tie.On the positive side, 2 of the 3 pitchers engaged in the battle for the 4th and 5th starter jobs in the rotation — Joe Blanton and Kyle Kendrick — have yet to be scored upon in five innings of pitching each.   “The Doc” Roy Halladay has been banged up a little in the early exhibition going giving up a single run and 3 runs (on a 2 homers to the same guy) in his first 2 starts spanning five innings while lefthander Cliff Lee threw two innings of shutout ball in his opening start while giving up 2 runs, including a homer in his 2nd start over three innings.   Lefthander Cole Hamels gave up a run over two innings in his first start while tossing three shutout innings in his most recent start.
  Vance Worley
The 3rd man in the 3 man competition for the fourth and fifth starter spots, Vance Worley, who was 11-3 with a 3.01 ERA as a rookie and was in the competition for Rookie of the Year in 2011, was touched for 2 runs in two innings in his first outing, but came back on Monday with a perfect four inning,  8 srikeout effort.Two of the names to watch out of the bullpen: closer Jon Papelbon and lefthanded set-up man Antonio Bastardo have shown well in their early exhibition stints.  Papelbon has given up a run in three innings of work while Bastardo has given up only 1 hit in three innings.

Offensively, the Phils have scored 57 runs in 11 games (5.18 run average per game) while hitting 10 homers without the presence of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, both rehabbing after surgery, in the lineup.  Rightfielder Hunter Pence leads the team with 2 homers having hit one in each of the first 2 games of exhibition while picking up 6 hits in 21 at-bats in his 9 exhibition appearances.   3rd baseman Placido Polanco got into 2 games getting a hit in each of them in a total of 5 at-bats.    Shortstop Jimmy Rollins (5 for 17 with a homer in 8 games) and centerfielder Shane Victorino (5 for 21 with a homer) are collectively hitting below .250 BA.

These notes are only bits and pieces as it is too early to see indications of team performance or how the opening day roster will shake out at several positions.

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Phillies Begin 2012 Quest for Success

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

Welcome back subscribers to Blogging Baseball as the 2012 Spring Training exhibition games begin, and as the Phillies begin their quest for success — hopes for a sixth straight NL East championship, which would be their third NL pennant in six seasons, and for their second World Championship in six seasons.

Blogging Baseball went into a early 2011 post-season hiatus after the Phils loss of their divisional series in 5 games to the World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.   As 1st baseman Ryan Howard tore his achilles tendon on the final out of the decisive 5th game, this author was in the midst of dealing with personal issues.

Ryan Howard
This season, blog posts will be less frequent, but hopefully more concise and even more informative.

The Phils begin the new season minus a few familiar faces are missing and some new faces have been added:

Who’s Gone:
GM Reuben Amaro Jr. let last season’s standout closer, and a fixture in the Phils’ bullpen for years, Ryan Madson go in free agency, just when it looked like a deal was about to be signed and sealed keeping Madson in Phils’ red pinstripes.  Madson, and his agent found the free agency closer market tough this off-season and Madson ultimately signed with the Cincinnati Reds for far less than he and his agent had hoped for, and far less than Amaro paid to sign Jon Papelbon away from the  Boston Red Sox.
Wilson Valdez
Popular utility infielder, and nineteenth inning pitcher Wilson Valdez was released by team in the off-season and signed by Cincinnati.Leftfielder Raul Ibanez, a fixture in leftfield since 2009, was released by the team after another slumping season in 2011.  He signed with the Yankees and opened the exhibition season going 1 for 3 with and RBI double as the Yankees beat the Phils in their Saturday game by an 8-5 score.

Starting pitcher Roy Oswalt, thought to be the fourth of the four aces rotation and who suffered through an injury-ridden 2011, still shows up on Yahoo sports as connected with the Phillies although his name does not show up on the Phils’ spring training roster.

Outfielder Ben Francisco, whose seventh inning winning pinch-hit 3-run homer made a winner out of starter Cole Hamels and gave the Phils a temporary 2 games to 1 lead over the Cards, was released by the club in the post-season.

Closer Brad Lidge, the hero of the 2008 Championship season and who successfully closed 48 games without a blown save as the Phils won every game where they had a lead in the eighth inning, was released by the club after having sub-par subsequent seasons and suffering with leg and back injury issues.  Lidge was picked up by the Washington Nationals.

Who’s New:
 
With Howard’s projected return to the active roster unknown, the Phils went looking in the off-season for stop-gaps to fill the hole left, as well as to bolster their utility corps and pinch-hitting.  They acquired former 1st baseman and possessor of over 600 career homers — Jim Thome from the Cleveland Indians, as well as Ty Wigginton, who can play both 3rd base and 1st base as well as the outfield corners and hit for some power,  and Laynce Nix who can also play 1st base as well as all 3 outfield positions.

The Phils also went for bolstering their bullpen with acquisitions of closer Papelbon, reliever Chad Qualls, as well as former  Marlins’ phenom Dontrelle Willis, who could give additional lefthanded relief flexibility should lefthanded reliever Antonio Bastardo get shelled as ocurred in the final games of the 2011 regular season.  Papelbon had a perfect fifth inning in the opener with the Yanks.

The 2012 Phils look to rev-up their offense, which at times during the 2011 season went flat putting additional pressure on their rotation of aces and the bullpen.   They need more productivity out of leadoff hitter and shortstop Jimmy Rollins, and returns to form by 2nd baseman Chase Utley and 3rd baseman Placido Polanco — both oft-injured in 2011.  2/3rds of the outfield look solid with the ‘Flyin’ Hawaiian’ Shane Victorino in centerfield and Hunter Pence in right.  The real question in the outfield is:  Will 2012 be the season that Domonic Brown proves ready for major league prime time and lock down the leftfield spot vacated with the release of Ibanez, or will he be platooned with John Mayberry Jr.?  Mayberry Jr. could also see time at 1st base, along with Thome, Wigginton and Nix — on spelling Howard until he returns.   Imagine a lineup of Rollins, Polanco, Wigginton with Utley batting clean-up and Pence batting 5th.

With the first 3 spots in the rotation solid locks with aces in Roy Halladay and lefthanders Cliff Lee and Hamels, there will be a heck of battle for the 4th and 5th starter spots between Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick and rookie sensation Vance Worley.   If there is any pitching questions, they focus on the bullpen.  Will David Herndon and Michael Stutes deliver as in 2011.   Will Antonio Bastardo repeat the lights-out performances of 3/4 of the 2011 season or flame-out early.   And will Dontrelle Willis come out of the bullpen to spell Bastardo in the lefty relief spot?  Will young relievers Joe Savery and Michael Schwimer rise to major league levels and give the bullpen a lift?   Will Jose Contreras return to the form his showed in 2011 before going down with his injury. Will Papelbon be a lights-out closer with the Phillies, as he was through his seasons with the Red Sox?   Will his performance in 2012 approach or exceed Madson’s level of 2011?How the offense and relief pitching perform seem key to the Phillies’ fortunes in the 2012 season. By the way, the Phils and Yankees played their exhibition openers on Saturday with the Phils on the short end of the score.  The two teams play again on Sunday, this time in the Yankees’ Florida venue.   

Here’s hoping for an NL pennant and World Championship in 2012.  Let’s go Phillies!!

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Carpenter Bests Halladay, Cardinals Get By Lifeless Phillies Offense to NLCS

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

If an EKG were taken on the Phillies offense, the reading would be lifeless, flatter than Israeli lafa on Yom Kippur.   The first 2 St. Louis hitters tripled and doubled off of ace Roy Halladay on Friday to drive in the only run of the game.  Then Halladay retired the next 10 Cardinals, but the single run held up as Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter gave up 3 hits, 2 of them to centerfielder Shane Victorino and the other to 2nd baseman Chase Utley, while hitting Utley and getting 19 infield outs enroute to pitching a complete game shutout.   Halladay was brilliant giving up only 6 hits while walking 1 and striking out 7 while tossing 126 pitches in eight innings.  But the offense was nowhere to be found.   The Phils went down meekly in the ninth as 1st baseman Ryan Howard grounded out to 2nd base to end the game, while injuring his  left Achilles’ heel in the process.   We wait to hear on the severity of Howard’s injury as Carpenter bests Halladay and the Cardinals get By the lifeless Phillies offense 1-0 to advance to the NLCS.

In Friday’s other NLDS deciding game, the Milwaukee Brewers will face the Cardinals in the NLCS after edging the Arizona Diamondbacks by 3-2 in ten innings on centerfielder Nyjer Morgan’s 1 out walkoff RBI single.

Shortstop Rafael Furcal led off against Halladay with a triple and Skip Schumaker followed him with a double and the Cards were quickly on the board.  Regrettably, that 1 run stood up as the Phils offense was off-again and thus dispatched to join the Yankees on the golf circuit.

The Phils offense, beside Victorino, Utley and shortstop Jimmy Rollins were beyond horrible.  After game one’s breakout, they took early 4-0 and 2-0 nothing leads in games 2 and 4 before lapsing into comas.  And only outfielder Ben Francisco’s pinch 3 run homer in game 3’s win gave the Phils a temporary 2 games to 1 lead, but in retrospect, kept the Phils from falling even earlier.

AP’s game recap for Yahoo sports provides more on Friday’s season-ending fiasco.

AP sports writer Rob Maaddi writes a follow-up on the end of the Phillies’ season noting:

The Philadelphia Phillies found out that pitching doesn’t win championships. It takes clutch hitting, too.

Only Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Shane Victorino did anything offensively. The overall hitting woes shouldn’t be a surprise, however.

Several players have been on the decline for the past few seasons.

A lineup that features seven regulars who’ve been All-Stars was downright awful against the Cardinals. Five players hit below .211.

Howard and Placido Polanco each went 2 for 19.  Hunter Pence was 4 for 19.  Raul Ibanez was 3 for 15.  Carlos Ruiz had one hit in 17 at-bats.

An AP report on Sunday reports:

…Ryan Howard might miss the start of spring training and possibly part of the regular season after tearing an Achilles tendon.

“He cannot have surgery until the swelling resolves, and it has not been determined who will perform the surgery,” the Phillies said in a statement. “Recovery time won’t be known until after the surgery is complete, and there is no guarantee he will be ready for spring training.”

Injuries of that type usually require at least six months of recuperation. When soccer star David Beckham tore his Achilles tendon on March 14 last year, he was sidelined until Sept. 11.

What a way for Howard to begin his 5 year, $125 million contract extension.

This will mark the final 2011 game result post, although we will keep tabs on the LCS games in both leagues as well as the World Series and off-season events, trades, etc.

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