TTB

Blogging about the 5x NL East Champion Phillies

Monthly Archives: August 2009

Drabek Shut Down

Phillies top pitching prospect Kyle Drabek was placed on the inactive list yesterday. He isn’t hurt but reached his innings max, throwing 158 innings this year in Double A Reading and Single A Clearwater. He was also 12-3 with a 3.19 ERA for both teams combined. He is not scheduled to pitch in either the Arizona Fall League or the Florida Instructional League either.

This is smart because he is recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2007. They don’t want to risk hurting him. He will see his time next year with Reading and hopefully Lehigh. If he develops well enough, he may see time on the Phillies 40-man roster late next season.

Phillies Gain Ground

The Phightin’s came up with a huge series win on Atlanta tonight, expanding their division lead to eight games on both the Braves and Fish. This series showed how human Cliff Lee can be and how effective Pedro Martinez and Jamie Moyer are in the same game. This gives the Phillies more depth in the bull pen as the “two old goats” could see time there in the playoffs.

Friday – Phillies won 4-2: Ryan Howard had two homers and drove in all four runs. It was another rain delayed game so the Pedro-Moyer connections pitched 6.1 innings allowing a run on five hits and striking out six. Moyer earned the win and Brad Lidge notched his 26th save.

Saturday – Braves won 9-1: Lee came back down to earth as he got rocked by Atlanta for six runs on three long balls. He lasted five innings, striking out five. Chase Utley hit a homer in the first and that was it for the scoring.

Sunday – Phillies won 3-2: Big Joe Blanton got some run support in the seventh off of Carlos Ruiz’s two run double. Blanton tossed seven innings, allowing a run on three hits and four walks, striking out seven. Brad Lidge pitched a 1-2-3- ninth for his 27th save.

Series MVP’s:
Ryan Howard: 6-11, 2 R, 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI
Chase Utley: 5-12, 3 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI
Brad Lidge: 2 IP, 2 K, 2 Saves (this is impressive the way he’s played all year)

Next Series: San Francisco Giants (72-59, 28-38) @ Philadelphia Phillies (75-53, 34-30 at home)

Pitching Probables:
Tuesday: SF: Sanchez, J (6-10, 4.27), PHI: Hamels (7-8, 4.52)
Wednesday: SF: Lincecum (13-4, 2.33), PHI: Happ (10-3, 2.63)
Thursday: SF: Zito (9-11, 3.94), PHI: Martinez, P (2-0, 4.50)

Key Game: Wednesday’s game is going to feature NL Rookie of the Year candidate JA Happ versus last year’s NL Cy Young winner and candidate for this year, Tim Lincecum. Both pitchers have been tops on their teams and are in the top five in ERA in the NL. Lincecum pitched eight scoreless as the Giants shut out the Phillies on August 1. Happ hasn’t face San Fran this year.

The Giants lead the series 3-1 after dominance in their own park. Well the Giants aren’t that hot on the road and the Phillies have been good in their own park as of late. This should be a very interesting series as the Giants are in a heated Wild Card race with the Rockies.

The Giants are not an offensive powerhouse like the Phillies. They’re ninth in the NL in average and 13th in runs scored. They are also 16th in homers. The Phillies are first in runs scored and homers and 11th in average. Pitching is the other way around as the Giants are second in ERA while the Phillies are eighth.

The Phillies are very capable of winning this series as they only have to face Lincecum and not Matt Cain as well. If the bats can wake up a bit, they should be able to win this series to keep pace in the NL east. Phillies will take two this series.

Just Call Him the Rain Man

Jamie Moyer has found a new home in his long relief role. Yes Chan Ho Park is still the innings guy but Moyer as excelled this year in his two roles post-rain delay. Grampa Jamie is now officially “The Rain Man.”

In his two appearances since being demoted to the bull pen, Moyer has gone 10.1 innings and has allowed one run on six hits and no walks, striking out 1o. His first appearance came versus Arizona where he pitched six scoreless innings to complete the game and earning the win. His second came last night versus Atlanta where he again recorded the win. Both times were when Pedro Martinez started.

Moyer has seemed to have embraced his new role after he was publicly displeased with the Phillies decision to put him in the pen. He isn’t acting like Jon Lieber, who would pitch like crap about five years ago when he was dumped to the pen. Moyer is a professional and loves the game and sees any opportunity to pitch and help this team as a blessing.

Before Moyer’s demotion and Martinez’s call up, I figured the Phillies could get 7-8 effective innings if they combined the two pitchers. It doesn’t have to be in a rain delay situation. As Martinez starts to fatigue, you can warm up Moyer. If you add in Martinez’s stats to Moyer’s two appearances, you get these Cliff Lee-like numbers: 15.1 IP, 2 R/ER, 9 H, 1 BB, 14 K in two starts. That’s an ERA below 2.00 and a WHIP at around 0.67

Pedro-Moyer is shutting down opponents because of their two different styles of pitching. Martinez throws in the mid to high 80′s and uses a slider in the low 80′s and a change up that hits around 75. Moyer throws around 81 with a change up around the same speed as Martinez’s. This makes their fast balls and Pedro’s slider more effective. It also prevents them from wearing down as much, especially because Martinez is 37 and Moyer is 47.
“You never know what you’ll get when you put two old goats out there,” Martinez said following a 5-1 victory over the D’Backs on August 18. “It’s a scary combination. You’re not going to see that very often. You might as well enjoy it. I enjoyed it.”

Plundered By Pirates

After exploding versus the Mets, the offense basically died down minus a few spurts versus Pittsburgh. Another problem that needs to be corrected before the season ends is the bull pen. Brad Lidge blew another save in the first game and Ryan Madson even followed that up with one the next game, erasing a great start by Cole Hamels.

Tuesday – Pirates won 6-4: After being down 3-2, the Phillies offense exploded to take a 4-3 lead. All Lidge has to do is get three outs, right? Should be an easy task. Not for him as he gave up a hit, an error by Jayson Werth that allowed the tying run to score and then a two-run walk off home run by Andrew McCutchen to end it.

Wednesday – Phillies won 4-1: Hamels went eight shut out innings, allowing seven hits and a pair of walks, striking out seven. Madson came in for the save and gave up a home run. Ryan Howard saved the game with a three run blast. Chase Utley had a homer in the first.

Thursday – Pirates won 3-2: JA Happ pitched a rare complete game loss as he went eight innings. He had the lead all the way until the eighth when he surrendered a two run homer to Garret Jones. He still pitched well, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks. He also struck out four. Paul Bako hit his second homer of the year.

Next Series: Atlanta Braves (67-60, 32-30 on road) @ Philadelphia Phillies (73-52, 33-29 at home)

Braves lead the series 8-4. The Braves are still seven games back from the Phillies and they know they need to sweep to get back in this. The Phillies are streaky and want to avoid that scenario as much as possible. They will have Cliff Lee on the mound during the series and he has shown no signs of being beatable yet.

On the offensive side, the Braves have a tendency to get guys on base but not get them home. They are third in the NL in batting average but only seventh in runs scored. The Phillies have the opposite problem as they lead the league in scoring. Atlanta is fourth in pitching ERA while the Phillies are improving, moving up to sixth.

The match ups at pitcher favor the Phillies despite the first game. Pedro Martinez has shown some bright spots but he isn’t much of a difference than Jamie Moyer. Both teams need to win this series but the Braves need a sweep more, a much more difficult task. Phillies will bounce back to win the series.

Pitching Probables:
Friday: ATL: Hanson (9-2, 3.12), PHI: Martinez, P (2-0, 5.14)
Saturday: ATL: Lowe, D (12-8, 4.48), PHI: Lee, Cl (12-9, 2.63)
Sunday: ATL: Jurrjens (10-8, 2.91), PHI: Blanton (8-6, 3.88)

What To Do With Lidge

If you think Cole Hamels is pitching like crap, just look deep in the bull pen and you will see another 2008 monster leaving you scratching your head. We know what Hamels’ problems are and it’s the fact that he is lazy and hasn’t had to be challenged all year. He’ll be fine in October.

Now back to the problem. Brad Lidge has been absolutely terrible. He was Mr. Perfect. He went 41/41 in the season and 7/7 in the playoffs. This year, Lidge has looked more like Billy Wagner of 2008. In 53 appearances and 46.2 innings, Lidge has blown nine saves and boasts an ERA of 7.33 and a WHIP of 1.80.

Last night was just another example of his wheels falling off his bus. After the Phillies fought back to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the ninth, Lidge surrenders a hit and an error allows the tying run to score. Then he gets rattled so bad that he gave up a two-run walk-off homer to a rookie who doesn’t hit for power.

So what do we do with Lidge? Before you think it, you can not put him in the minors unless he is injured. There is a waivers system and he can get picked up. Now he does have knee problems but he is unwilling to admit that he is hurt.

You also have guys in your system as options. Ryan Madson tried his hand at closing earlier this year and failed at it, blowing a pair of saves and took a while to shake the nerves when Lidge came back. You also have Chan Ho Park, who has been their best reliever but you don’t want to move him from his comfortable role as long reliever. Newly demoted Jamie Moyer? Not if you want to see 81 MPH fastballs leave the yard. A healthy Romero? See Park.

So what does that leave us with then? Well with a hungry Brett Myers rehabbing in the minors, he looks to be ready by mid-September. He will most likely bolster the bull pen and I can really see him closing games in the playoffs.

Here is why:
He’s in his contract year and if teams see him come back with fire in his belly, they will show interest in him. He could also try to impress the Phillies as with his return next year, they could have the best rotation in baseball. Imagine Cliff Lee, Hamels, Joe Blanton, JA Happ, and Myers in a 5-man rotation.

Another reason why Myers could close is how well he pitched in 2007 as a closer. He went 5-5 with a 2.87 ERA. He saved 21/24 games including the game where the Phillies clinched their first division title and playoff appearance in 14 years.

Myers has the mentality to be an effective closer. He also has the stuff. His fastball is hitting the low-mid 90′s and he has a really good curveball, more effective than Lidge’s current slider. Move Lidge to a different spot in the pen or DL him for the season while Myers takes the reigns and helps this team repeat. Lidge will only hinder this team in the long run. We love you Lidgey-poo but not this year.

Werth Player of Week

Jayson Werth was recently named the NL Player of the Week for his outstanding play.

Werth led the Majors with five home runs and 29 total bases. He hit .440 (11-for-25) and led the NL with a 1.160 slugging percentage. He also tied for the league lead with nine RBIs while scoring seven runs and collecting three doubles to go along with a .481 on-base percentage.

He will be getting a well deserved day off tonight as the Phillies take on the Pirates. Matt Stairs will play in his place and bat seventh.

New York Invasion

The Phillies and their fans invaded Queens this past weekend, including the Phillies Nation bus trip on Saturday where a fight was shown in their section by Comcast. After dropping the first game thanks to some poor pitching by Cole Hamels, the Phillies bats exploded as they handled the Mets to win three of four games during the series.

Thankfully Hamels has been the worst pitcher of the four who will make up the playoff rotation. He will pick his game back up when he’s needed in the clutch. He hasn’t been pressured all year due to a lack of competition in the division so I am confident he will be fine come October.

This series saw some great pitching, a lot of errors, a lot of pop from the Phillies line up, and even an unassisted triple play to end Sunday’s game by Eric Bruntlett. Pedro Martinez earned a win in his home coming to New York and even tallied a hit.

Friday - Mets won 4-2: Hamels lasted five innings and got the loss as he surrendered four runs on 10 hits. He allowed a home run to Jeff Francoeur, who had a pretty good series versus the Phillies. Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, and Ryan Howard had two hits apiece for the Phillies.

Saturday – Phillies won 4-1: After Tim Redding dominated the Phillies, he was pulled due to a pitch count. Chase Utley capitalized with a two-run homer that gave the Phillies the lead for good. Brad Lidge earned his 24th save.

Sunday – Phillies won 9-7: This was one crazy game. After the Phillies jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first thanks to three homers by Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz, the Mets answered back. Martinez pitched six solid innings as the Mets stayed in it the whole game. In the bottom of the ninth with a 9-7 score and no outs, Francoeur hit a line drive with runners on first and second to Bruntlett who caught the ball, stepped on second, and tagged out Daniel Murphy for the game ending unassisted triple play. Lidge earned his 25th save.

Monday – Phillies won 6-2: There was no drama in this game but plenty of errors. The Phillies and Mets combined for five errors in the game. Cliff Lee pitched very well despite giving up two runs, none earned. He went seven innings and allowed six hits and struck out five.

Series MVP’s:
Ryan Howard: 5-19, 4 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI
Chase Utley: 5-12, 4 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI
Eric Bruntlett: 4-9, R, unassisted triple play

Next Series: Philadelphia Phillies (72-50, 40-21 on road) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (51-71, 33-28 at home)

Phillies lead series 3-0. This series is almost as predictable as the last. The Pirates will be seeing a Phillies offense that has just caught fire again. If they keep up this tear, this can be a very easy three wins as the Phillies look to expand on their seven and eight game leads on Atlanta and Florida respectively.

The Pirates offense is at a low as it is 12th in average and 13th in runs scored in the NL. The Phillies are 11th in average but climbing while they sit on top of the NL in scoring. As far as pitching, the Phillies ERA has dropped some more as they now sit sixth in the NL while the Pirates are 13th.

This should be another easy series for the Phillies as they find themselves in a race with Los Angeles for the top seed in the NL. Sports Illustrated still thinks the Dodgers are the best team in baseball and the way they Phillies are playing, they are proving them otherwise. I expect a sweep of the Pirates as the Phillies get set to come home versus Atlanta.

Pitching Probables:
Tuesday: PHI: Blanton (8-6, 3.86), PIT: Ohlendorf (11-8, 4.15)
Wednesday: PHI: Hamels (7-8, 4.78), PIT: Maholm (7-7, 4.74)
Thursday: PHI: Happ (10-2, 2.59), PIT: Morton (3-6, 5.21)

News 8/24

Dobbs on DL: article

The Phillies had placed Greg Dobbs on the 15-day DL yesterday with a right calf injury. He will be replaced by Miguel Cairo. Cairo is back on the Phillies since being optioned back in May.

I was going to post this yesterday but was busy all day.

Myers to Rehab Today: article

Brett Myers will make his first rehab start today with Lakewood. He was originally scheduled to pitch yesterday but the game was rained out. He made one appearance with Clearwater, striking out the side and allowing two hits.

Turning Three

Eric Bruntlett’s unassisted triple play was something to witness. After being robbed of a base hit in the eighth by Jeff Francoeur, Bruntlett returned the favor, snaring Francoeur’s no-out line drive up the middle, stepping on second, and tagging Daniel Murphy for the unassisted triple play to win the game for the Phillies.

It has been that kind of year for the Mets as that was the third time this year they lost on the last play. The other two times were a throwing error that allowed a run to score early in the season and a dropped pop-up by Louis Castillo versus the Yankees that allowed the tying and winning run to cross the plate.

How special was Bruntlett’s turn? It is just the 14th unassisted triple play in the regular season in baseball history. It is just the second unassisted triple play to end a game as the only other time happened in 1927. The last Phillie to repeat such a feat was Micky Morandini in 1992.

From Todd Zolecki’s article on MLB.com:

“It’s hard to know how to react to it,” Bruntlett said. “I was almost laughing. That doesn’t happen. What do you do there? Game is over. High fives.”

Thank God For Pitch Counts

The Mets thankfully had Tim Redding on a pitch count or else the Phillies probably would have never had that sixth inning. The Mets took Redding out after five innings of one-hit shut out ball. They bring in Pat Misch who give walked Shane Victorino and then gave up a homer to Chase Utley. That right field short-porch in Citi Field has become Utley’s Alley as he has killed the Mets there all year.

The Phillies tacked on another run in that inning with back-to-back doubles by Raul Ibanez and Pedro Feliz and then got another off of Carlos Ruiz’s RBI single in the eighth to make a final score of 4-1.

JA Happ earned the win, going seven innings and allowing one run on eight hits and two walks. He got himself in and out of trouble as game as he stranded seven runners. Brad Lidge pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with two strike outs to earn his 24th save.

Oh the wedding was nice by the way but I wound up watching the entire game inside where it was air conditioned.

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