Thursday, September 07, 2006

Phillies - Astros 9/6

Phillies lose to Houston by a score of 5-3. Failure to hit with men on base (or, more to the point, with bases completely full of men) and questionable strategy (keeping Madson in instead of using a lefty to turn Berkman around) did them in. Charlie Manuel will get ripped for going with Madson, but his biggest mistake of the night was intentionally walking Mike Lamb earlier in the fateful inning. All in all, I can't say I'm too angry at the loss as a whole; the part that burns me up is knowing the Phillies had plenty of chances to get to Andy Pettitte early and failed to capitalize. That burns. Berkman's bases clearing double? He hit a good pitch and inside-outed a ball that just barely stayed fair the other way. It happens. Jimmy Rollins, the potential tying run, getting thrown out at second in the ninth? Willy Taveras made a tremendous, one in a million kind of play to get him...just getting to that ball was impressive, but he topped that by making a 100% perfect throw to the bag at second. The Phillies and Astros played about even through seven innings...after that point, Houston just flat outplayed the Phils. It's no fun, but it happens. On to random game notes...
  • First complaint of the night: the lineup. Why wasn't Randy Wolf hitting in the eighth spot last night? This would have made sense on so many levels...the majority of which are based solely on making me laugh at Abe Nunez batting behind the pitcher. Another, more serious, point of interest to me: Why not give Jose Hernandez (.761 OPS vs. lefties this year, .823 OPS vs. lefties over the previous 3-year stretch) a start at third instead of Nunez? Hernandez wound up with a hit his only at bat of the night...Nunez finished the game without a hit in four at bats. In Abe's defense, he did make a beautiful diving stop on a ball down the line that had double written all over it. There is no telling if Hernandez would have made the play, but smart money says that ball gets by him. Does it even out? I don't think so. Is it the reason the Phillies lost? Nope, there were many other reasons that outrank Nunez' inclusion in the lineup.
  • One of the things I was looking forward to in this game was watching Randy Wolf work with rookie catcher Carlos Ruiz. Mike Lieberthal had been Wolf's personal catcher since both players have been back healthy. As far as I could tell, Wolf and Ruiz were a fine tandem...that's admittedly not a very in-depth analysis, but it's all I got.
  • As far as Wolf himself...he looked better. He is still clearly struggling with his location, but his velocity seems to be on the way back...he hit 91 on the gun here and there and he struck out Jason Lane on a "rising" 89 MPH fastball with two men on in the third.
  • As far as Ruiz himself...absolutely great to see him back in the lineup for the Phillies. He looked like he was much more comfortable at the plate than in his previous stint with the club...needless to say, I wasn't a fan of Charlie Manuel pinch hitting for him in the ninth.
  • Shane Victorino made a beautiful throw to almost catch Chris Burke wandering too far of first in the fifth inning...I love when outfielders throw behind the runner. An outfield of Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino, and David Dellucci/free agent lefty hitting specialist would look pretty nice in 2007...goodbye, Aaron Rowand.
  • Juan Samuel visited Chris Wheeler and Scott Graham in the booth last night...Wheels told him that watching Jose Reyes play reminded him of a young Samuel...Samuel told stories of one of his all-time favorite teammates, Julio Franco (pronounced 'Fronk-co', of course).
  • Wheels called the ball Ryan Howard hit to Andy Pettitte in the sixth a "power hitter's dribbler" because of all the crazy spin on it...seemed like a pretty dead-on description to me.
  • Also in that sixth inning, great back to back at bats by Shane Victorino and Chase Utley. The were throwing everything in, in, in to Victorino until Pettitte finally made a mistake and badly missed his spot (instead throwing a ball low and away) as Victorino drilled a line drive right back up the box for a leadoff single.
  • Lance Berkman = older, chubbier Pat Burrell...Berkman could be the older brother Burrell never had!
  • Underrated aspect of Jimmy Rollins' game - he has a plus, plus arm for a shortstop. Check out his throw to get Chris Burke in the eighth's a thing of beauty.
The fake enthusiasm and corny nicknames (Blummy, Scotty, Hoffy...are you kidding me?) in this San Diego-Colorado game currently on MLB.TV is embarassing to listen to...San Diego is a great city, one of my personal favorites, but they do not have a playoff quality baseball team. I'm not saying the Phillies are playoff quality (far from it), but the Padres are hardly a slam dunk even with the 2.5 game lead as I write this (Padres 0, Rockies 0 in the 11th out double by Todd Walker puts the winning run in scoring position for the Pads...).

Anyway, as I stay up late waiting for this game to finish, I'll throw out the probably pitching matchups in Florida:

Thursday: Jon Lieber v. Josh Johnson
Friday: Jamie Moyer v. Scott Olsen
Saturday: Brett Myers v. Brian Moehler
Sunday: Cole Hamels v. Dontrelle Willis

Phillies need to take three of four...I give them the distinct edge for the Saturday game, slight edge on Sunday (yeah, Hamels over Willis), the Marlins the clear edge on Friday, and the Marlins a slighter edge than it looks on Thursday (I'm a big believer in Lieber's second half self). Phils win Thursday, lose Friday, and then take the series with wins on Saturday and Sunday. Is that wishful thinking on my part?

And just as I am about to publish this post, Paul McAnulty hits a game winning homer for the Padres in the 11th. Phillies are now 3 games out as they head to Florida. Ouch.


Blogger Adam said...

The Padres are an average to slighty above average team in a bad division. Remember last year at this time. The NL West comes down to who has the hottest week leads the division. What do you think of the Marlins run? We've been back and forth on this before. The Marlins weren't supposed to be this good, this early. Their pitching is most defintely a bright spot in the future with/without Dontrelle. Johnson/Nolasco/Olsen and now Annibal Sanchez could become the next big three or four whatever you want to call it. I would trade Willis for a few needed players. Remember the rumor back in July, St. Louis/Fla. talking about an Anthony Reyes, Chris Duncan and another prospect for Willis. The end result was the Marlins were asking too much. A deal like that would be a good deal for both sides. Anyway I'm rambling. Didn't mean to get on the subject of trade partners for Dontrelle Willis. I'm ready for the offseason, I think the Braves have alot of questions that need to be addressed. I'll be posting about that later.

9:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading your game notes makes missing a game more bearable. Keep up the good work.

2:37 PM  

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