But I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.
And I’m hoping that our boys in the red pin stripes will make it three years in a row in the fall classic, once they get some help in the relief staff. And, it sounds like that Ruben has just signed someone to do just staff. Guess we’ll know for sure next week.
Anyway, once again, Merry Christmas
The Phillies regain first place from the Marlins, as their very potent offense crushes the fish in the first game of a three games weekend series between the two rivals, 12-3. The Marlins would score first though, when, in the first inning, Phils’ starter Brett Myers would give up a RBI single to Jorge Cantu, scoring Hanley Ramirez, who has earlier singled, to give the Marlins a quick 1-0 lead. Three batters later, with the bases loaded and one out, Luis Gonzalez would hit a RBI single, knocking in Jeremy Hermida, who has earlier walked, and Cantu, giving the Marlins a 3-0 lead. But that would be it for the Marlins, as Myers would finally get out of the innings, and he would then pitch a 1-2-3 second. In the Phillies half of the inning, the Phillies would pound Marlins’ starter Mark Hendrickson. Ryan Howard would start the inning off with a walk. Pat Burrell would then ground out, pitcher to first, moving Howard to second base. After Pedro Feliz singles Howard over to third, Chris Coste would tie the game by hitting his fifth home run of the year, making it a 3-3 ballgame. Three batters later, with two men on base and two outs, Shane Victorino would hit a two-run double, scoring So Taguchi, who has earlier singled, and Brett Myers, who had just walked, to give the Phils a 5-3 lead. Chase Utley would then follow with his major league leading eighteenth home run of the year, a two-run shot, making it 7-3 Phillies. The Phillies would add four more runs in the fourth. Jimmy Rollins would single in Taguchi, who has earlier walked, to make it 8-3 Phillies. Two batters later, with runners on first and third, and two outs, Howard would hit a three-run home run, his fifteenth home run of the season, off of Burke Badenhop, who was pitching in relief of the knocked around Hendrickson, scoring Victorino, who was safe on a force out, and Chase Utley, who has earlier singled, giving the Phillies a 11-3 lead. Meanwhile, something seems to have clicked with Myers, as he seems to have returned to his earlier form, as he would give up only three more hits to the Marlins after the first inning, while stirking out eleven. The Phillies would score just one more run, in the seventh inning, as Howard, who has gotten on base earlier with a walk, would score with the base loaded, as Taguchi is walked by Taylor Tankersley, making it 12-3 Phils. Clay Condrey would then take over in the ninth for Myers, putting down the shocked Marlins for a 1-2-3 inning.
Brett Myers is the winning pitcher, winning his first ballgame since April 17, when he defeated the Astros. He did it by going eight innings, giving up only three earned runs, all in the first inning, on six hits, while striking one eleven Marlins. His record is now 3-6 with an ERA of 5.52. Clay Condrey would pitch one shut out inning in relief, giving up no runs on no hits, while striking out two. Mark Hendrickson would suffer the lost as he gets pounded by the Phillies’ bats in three and a third innings of work, giving up ten earned runs on seven hits, while walking three. His record is now 7-3 as his ERA rises to 5.26. Burke Badenhop would pitch an inning and a third in relief, giving up an earned run on one hit. Taylor Tankersley would also pitch an inning and a third, also giving up an earned run on no hits. Justin Miller would pitch two-thirds of an inning, giving up no runs on one hit. Joe Nelson would go an inning in relief, giving up no runs on no hits.
With the win, the Phillies regain first place, as they ride on their first five games winning streak of the season. The Phillies are also a season best eight games over .500. During their winning streak, the Phils have scored sixty runs, averaging twelve runs per game. During that span, they have also gotten sixty-one hits, of which 26 has been extra-base hits (15 (2B), 1 (3B) , 10 (HR)). In their last nine games, starting with the last game of their three games series with the Nationals, the Phillies have scored eighty-five runs, averaging about 9.45 runs a game, while getting 108 total hits, of which forty-five were extra-base hits (26 (2B), 1 (3B) and 18 (HR)). It is indeed hitting season. At the same time, Phillies’ starting pitching, during the five game winning streak, has given up only sixteen runs, which average out to 3.2 runs a game, while the relief staff has allowed only three runs, which average out to 0.60 runs a game. In their last nine games, the starters have given up twenty-eight total runs, for an average of 3.11 runs per game, while the relief core have given up only six runs, which average out to 0.67 runs per ballgame. As the offense is racking up the runs and hits, the pitching staff is giving up to their opponents very few runs in return. During those nine games, the defense has been almost flawless, committing only three errors, all occurring during the Rockies’ series, against seven for their opponents. It would appear that all aspects of the Phillies game are starting to come together at the same time, which might be a cause of alarm for the rest of the National League East.
The three games series between the now first place Phillies (32-24) and the second place Marlins (20-23) will continue tonight from Citizens Bank Park. The game will start at 7:05 pm Eastern. The Phillies’ starter will be their ace, Cole Hamels (5-3, 3.18), who is coming off a no-decision, as he pitched poorly in his last start against the Astros on May 25, where he would only pitch four innings, giving up six earned runs on seven hits, in the Phils’ 15-6 crushing of Houston. Hamels has won three of his last six starts, with the other three being no-decisions, all won by the Phils, as he has gone a total of forty and a thirds innings, giving up only sixteen earned runs, which includes a period when he would give up no runs for nineteen and two-thirds innings, on thirty-three hits. His career numbers against the Marlins is 2-2 with a 4.13 ERA in four starts. He will be trying to get his first win in three starts, while trying to increase the Phillies’ lead in the National League East. The Marlins will be opposing him with Ricky Nolasco (4-3, 4.70), who is coming off a win, his second in a row, and third in his last four starts, against the Mets on May 26. He would go five innings in that game, giving up only three earned runs on nine hits, in the Marlins’ 7-3 win. He will be trying to stop the Phillies’ hitting juggernaut and put the Marlins back into first place.
The now first place Phillies lead the Marlins by half a game after their victory over the fish. They are leading the Braves by two and a half games, as the Braves lost their game with the Reds in extra-innings. The Phils are leading the Mets by four and a half games as the Mets lost their game to the Dodgers. The Phils will be trying to increase their respective leads over the other teams in their division, as they try to win their sixth game in a row and their ninth in their last eleven games.
The Phils (18-14) are right now leading the National League East by .5 games over both the New York Mets and the Florida Marlins, as they prepare to meet the Arizona Diamondbacks (21-10), the team with the best record in baseball for a four games series in Phoenix, Arizona.
Let look at the numbers:
Having a winning April for the first time in several seasons is one of the main reasons why the Phils are leading the National League Eastern division.
Vs. Opponents :
New York: 2-4
Chicago (NL): 2-1
San Diego: 2-1
San Francisco: 2-1
At the moment, the Phils have so far lost only three series against their opponents, as one of the things required to have a good season is to win most, if not all, series played against your opponent. They are 1-2 against the Nationals and 2-4 against the Mets, losing both series against the New Yorkers. They have spilt season series with two teams, the Reds and the Brewers. They are leading season series with six other teams, with their best record, so far, being against the 2007 National League Champions Colorado Rockies, 2-0. This means that series wise, the Phils are 6-3-2.
The Phils are 10-8 at home, and 8-6 on the road, which means that they can win games both at home and on the road.
Batting wise, the Phils are leading the National League in home runs with 48, fourth in the league in total bases with 482, fifth in RBIs with 144, at-bats with 1097 and slugging percentage with .439, tied for sixth in walks with 119, seventh in runs scored with 150 and on base percentage with .328. The starting eight should become even more dangerous once the silent bats begin to walk up.
With pitching, the team is overall ranked fifth best in the league in ERA with 3.76, tied for fifth in saves with 8, third in innings pitched with 290.0, tied for sixth best in least runs given up with 137, sixth for least earned runs given up with 121 and least walks given up with 110, tied for eighth for least hits given up with 285, and tied for fourth for least batters hit by a pitch with 7. Their one major problem category is that they have given up too many home runs thus far, giving up 32 total, making them the sixth worst team in that category. The main reason for the success that they have had so far this year has been because of the bullpen. The Phils’ relief corps so far has the second best ERA in the league at 2.66, second best in least hits given up at 79, in least earned runs with 29, and in strike outs with 71, the league best at least runs given up at 32, and is tied for first for least home runs given up with 5 and hit batters with 2. If the bullpen can continue what it is doing now and if the starters can improve during the season, the Phillies will be tough to beat, pitching wise.
The Phillies have played 23 games so far this season. Of those 23 games, the starters have had 12 quality starts. For those who don’t know what a quality start is, it means that a starter has gone at least six full innings, and has given up three runs or less during those innings. Ten of those quality starts had occurred before the Phils second series against the Mets.
The important of quailty starts is mainly this: the deeper that the starters can go into games that they are starting, the longer they can keep the bullpen out of the game until they are needed for the late innings. This gives the manager a large numbers of options on how to use his relief staff than he would if the starters were constantly getting knocked out early in the game, and forcing him to bring in those relievers that make up his middle relief corps.
With that said, the Phillies present relief corps, believe it or not, is leading the National League with a 2.60 ERA. That’s right, the Phils relievers are leading the league. Well, surprise, surprise, surprise. I was expecting them to be more towards the middle of the pack, not the ones leading it. Well, guess we’ll see how long that’ll last, won’t we? Now if the pitching staff, as a whole, can get their ERA down from the present 3.68, fifth best in the National League, the Phillies might really go somewhere.
With that said, Adam Eaton, tonight’s starter, have so far pitched four games during the season, of which three has actaually been quailty starts. That’s right. Three quality starts. He has pitched at least six innings and gave up at least three EARNED runs. (Sadly, that has been the numbers of runs that he have given up in each of those games, all earned, and in at least two he was the losing pitcher of record before the Phils rally late to get him off the hook.) In his last start he only pitched five innings and gave up four earned runs, but all of the runs came in the sixth when both he and Chad Durbin were together unable to keep the Mets off of the scoreboard before Durbin was finally able to put the fire out. That seems to be Eaton’s luck so far this year. He pitched good enough to win his first start, but he couldn’t keep the Reds from scoring the tying run late in the game, which led to a lost in the 9th; the Phils got him off the hook by coming back from behind against the Mets on April 10 before finally losing; he was the pitcher of record against Houston on the 15th before the Phils came from behind in the ninth to win that game; and I’d already mentioned what happened during his last outing against the Mets. Now, he’s going to be the starter against the Pirates tonight. Hopefully the Phils will score some runs early and often against the Bucos to get him the victory, as Adam deserves a victory in the worst possible way.