Saturday, April 19, 2008

Reyes, Wright Continue To Punish Phils

For the second straight night the Mets bats out did the Phillies both early and late to score the second win in the weekend series. The ageless Jamie Moyer took the mound at Citizen's Bank Park against Oliver Perez on Saturday night and got into trouble early. In the first inning Jose Reyes and David Wright continued to punish the Phils and managed to score two runs early.
The Phillies bats however were ineffective against Perez until the seventh inning, but by then they were down 4 runs off the two run shot by Reyes.

The Phils managed to get a run on the board in the bottom of the seventh off a solo home run by Chase Utley. In the eighth, in what seems to be plaguing the team early in the season, the Phillies managed to get bases loaded with one out and only score one run, after Aaron Heilman came in to strike out Geoff Jenkins and Jason Werth.

Ryan Howard continues to struggle going 0-5 and tacking on 3 more strikeouts to his total for the season as he leads the league with 26. Jimmy Rollins came into pinch hit for the fourth time in his 10 game absence from the starting lineup and the effects of him missing from the lead off spot are starting to show. The Phils will try to salvage a win in this series Sunday night before they head to Colorado for a rematch of last years Wild Card Playoff series.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Phils Rally Late But Fall Short

The most anticipated game of the season so far between the Mets and the Phillies featured quite possibly the two best left handed change-ups in the game. Johan Santana and Cole Hamels went head to head in the opener of the second series between the two teams. Santana had struggled in his last outing, while Hamels had pitched strong, but at times lacked the run support so far this season.

This Mets struck early against Hamels scoring a run in each the first and third innings off the Phillies ace. David Wright who usually struggles against the young lefty went 4 for 4 in the game, coming a home run shy of the cycle. The game turned into a pitchers duel, which displayed Santana's strike out capability. By the eighth inning, Santana had racked up 10 strikeouts while only allowing one run off a solo home run by Chase Utley in the 7th. Both Hamels and Santana got into trouble in the eighth as Hamels left the game with the bases loaded and 1 out, followed by JC Romero who allowed three runs to score.

In an interesting move, Charlie Manuel brought Chris Coste out to pinch hit in the eighth with two on to set up a favorable match up with Santana. Willie Randolph, however, replaced Santana with Aaron Heilman, and in turn Manuel used a second bench player and brought out Greg Dobbs to pinch hit. Dobbs hit his first pinch-hit home run of the season to make it a one run game. Heilman managed to settle down after the homer and got Jenkins to fly out to deep center, a ball that hit to any other part of the park would have tied the game, and got Jason Werth out to allow for Pedro Felliciano to come into the game to face Utley and Howard. Feliciano managed to get Utley to strike out, and kept hold of the one run lead.

In the ninth, Manuel brought in Brad Lidge to pitch having not gotten any work in the last few games, and after getting into trouble, Lidge allowed a run to score after an error by Howard allowed the Mets to load the bases. The bottom of the ninth featured former Phillies closer Billy Wagner, who although couldn't strike out and Phillies, secured the win for the Mets.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Long Ball Carries Offense Past Houston

The Phillies bats came alive Thursday afternoon in the final game with the Astros. The rubber match between the two teams featured Brett Myers and Brandon Backe. Backe was the one who struggled though giving up runs early and often to the Phils offense.

Backe allowed 3 runs in the first after allowing the first two batters to reach base and the Phillies offense never looked back. Howard, Utley, Burrell and Chris Coste all hit homer runs in the 10-2 route of the Astros. The team had 16 hits in all and if nothing else, the Phillies showed that their bench players can step in when needed and provide offense and solid defense. Both So Taguchi and Jason Werth went 2 for 5 in the game and scored three of the teams 10 runs in the game.

Myers pitched seven strong innings with 8 strikeouts and only allowing one run on a solo home run to Miguel Tejada in the 4th inning.

The Phils needed this win as they head into the weekend against the Mets and Johan Santana faces Cole Hamels in the first game of the series.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Phils Bats Don't Come Through For Kendrick

The Phils were looking for late inning heroics again on Wednesday night, but things fell short as the Astros managed to hold off the offense.

Kyle Kendrick took the mound and pitched in what appeared to be his first solid outing of the season. Kendrick gave up two runs early in the game, both which were scored by Michael Bourne who appeared to have the pitchers number. Kendrick pitched 7 strong innings, only giving up 2 earned runs and striking out 5 hitters giving the offense plenty of chance to take the second game in the series.

Unfortunately though the offense never got going. The Phils only managed a single run in the first inning off Houston's Roy Oswalt. Not surprising, Houstons manager elected to bring in Doug Brocail to close the game as opposed to allowing the Phils another hack at Jose Valverde who blew the save on Tuesday.

The only bright spot of the game had to be Jimmy Rollins pinch hit in the 9th off Brocail. Hopefully Jimmy will be returning to the lineup soon.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Phils Bats Come Alive Late

Adam Eaton took the mound in the opening game of the Phillies series against the Houston Astros. Eaton had another strong outing but pitched 6 innings to another no decision, giving up three runs striking out three. The Phillies bats remained silent though as they struggled to get runners in scoring position all night. The Phillies bullpen continue to amaze as they held the game to three to nothing through the ninth in hopes of giving their offense a chance.

In the bottom of the ninth the game changed in the Phillies favor. After Shawn Chacon pitched 8 strong innings, keeping the Phillies offense in check, Houston brought in their closer Jose Valverde. Unfortunately for Valverde the Phils woke up in the ninth. Chris Snelling came up swung at the first pitch and hit a home run to right field bringing the Phils withing two. Valverde then hit Chase Utley with a pitch and then struck out Ryan Howard for the first out of the inning. Pat Burrell came to the plate and remarkably, hit a home run to the opposite field to tie the game at 3. Geoff Jenkins struck out swinging, but due to Brad Ausmus not being able to hang on, the passed ball allowed Jenkins to reach first. That brought up Pedro Feliz who stroked a ball to the left field corner and Jenkins went from first to home to win the game.

This game showed that the Phils offense can not be counted out and that the Phils bullpen might not be as bad as critics thought going into this season. Only time will tell. The Phils send Kyle Kendrick to the mound on Wednesday against Roy Oswalt.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Charlie Gets Tossed, Phils Drop Late Inning Game.

Sunday's rubber match between the Phillies and the Cubs featured Jamie Moyer against Jason Marquis and represented the Phillies first chance to bring their record above .500 for the first time this season. Moyer struggled in his third start of the season and ended up being taken out after 5.

The momentum of the game shifted from the Cubs to the Phils in the top of the 6th inning when Mark Derosa hit a fly ball to left field and in a poorly called play by the third base umpire the ball was called a home run when it was clearly a foul by the replay. The stadium erupted as Pat Burrell raced in from left to argue the call claiming that the ball was obviously foul. After a quick meeting of the umpires the ball was ruled a home run and the fireworks began.

Charlie Manuel stormed out for the dugout to argue and in a game in which the Phils were down 3-1 already, the only option was to back his left fielder and got tossed over the call. Manuel was eventually tossed from the game and stormed off the field to a parade of cheers from the fans. Moyer was pulled from the game and replaced by Chad Durbin who continued to be a strong bullpen presence, pitching 2 strong scoreless innings.

With the Phillies up 5-4 in the 8th, the Cubs managed to chip away at Tom Gordon and JC Romero for a run and tied the game up. Unable to score a run in the 9th despite having 1st and 2nd with one out, the game entered extra innings.

In the top of the 10th, Rudy Seanez walked Roddy Cedeno to start the inning, Ryan Theriot bunted him over and Geovany Soto walked. In a surprising move, Carlos Zambrano pinch hit for Kerry Wood and after hitting a ground ball to Eric Brunlett, Chase Utley forced the throw to Ryan Howard and the ball ended up in the bullpen allowing Cedeno to score what would be the winning run.

If the Phils had managed to win this game, Charlie would have managed to win his first managerial game of the year, by firing up the team when they were down and backing up his players. Unfortunately though, the team couldn't pull off the win.

In an interesting footnote, for the first time in remembrance, the Phils successfully executed a double-switch.... it just so happen the Charlie Manuel had already been tossed..