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Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

Posted By Bill Baer On October 8, 2009 @ 6:35 pm In 2009 Playoffs,MLB,Philadelphia Phillies | No Comments

For the first time since the 2007 NLDS, the Phillies have lost a post-season game in Philadelphia. After five innings, the Phillies trailed 4-0 against Aaron Cook, thanks to a lackluster start from last year’s nearly unhittable NLCS and World Series MVP Cole Hamels. The Phillies did make it close in the sixth and eighth innings, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, as they say.

Cook’s sinker was so effective that he notched 12 of his first 13 outs via ground ball or strikeout. The two line drives that ended the fifth, hit by Greg Dobbs and Jimmy Rollins, perhaps foreshadowed the struggles he would experience in the sixth. In that sixth inning, the Phillies scored three runs and Cook abandoned his sinker entirely, as the following chart illustrates.

As for Hamels, he got hurt mostly by right-handers on pitches in the middle of the plate or inside:

As was the case yesterday, Carlos Gonzalez was the only left-handed hitter who had any success against the Phillies’ left-handed starter. He had two hits against Cliff Lee yesterday, and three hits in three at-bats against Hamels today. Overall, Rockies left-handers went 2-for-11 yesterday and and 5-for-13 today.

The Phillies, meanwhile, have been unable to get any momentum going in the first three innings. In two games, the Phillies have only hit four singles in the first three innings and only Cliff Lee, following a stolen base, has been in scoring position in the first one-third of the game.

The Rockies’ fifth and winning run was scored when Dexter Fowler hit a two-strike fastball to deep right field, scoring Ryan Spilborghs from third base. Spilborghs reached when he doubled to left field off of Joe Blanton. He was allowed to advance when Joe Blanton made a poor decision to throw to third base, instead of first, on a sacrifice bunt attempt, the second such poor decision in the game.

Tension mounted in the eighth when Brett Myers, in typical Brett Myers fashion, allowed the first two runners to reach base without the dignity of a hit. Troy Tulowitzki hit Brett Myers’ first pitch well beyond the left field fence, but it was slightly foul. Myers, perhaps intentionally, hit Tulowitzki on the elbow with a fastball. Ian Stewart followed up with an eight-pitch at-bat that resulted in a walk. Myers was bailed out on a smart defensive decision by Miguel Cairo and a key lefty-on-lefty strikeout of Jason Giambi by Antonio Bastardo.

This outing by Myers may have punched his ticket out of Philadelphia. He’s a free agent after the season and he rarely has a clean inning when he has come in as a reliever. Considering his wild boy demeanor and proneness to off-the-field incidents, get a good look at Myers while you can — it’s unlikely he’ll be back in Philly next season unless he’s willing to take a pay cut (he’s making $12 million this season, the last leg of a three-year, $25.75 million contract).

Although Blanton surrendered a run in relief, the Phillies’ bullpen performed well today. The Spilborghs double was not well-hit, just well-placed. Myers did not inspire confidence but Scott Eyre and Ryan Madson looked unhittable and Antonio Bastardo made Jason Giambi look ridiculous on a couple off-speed pitches. J.A. Happ initially came in relief but had to leave when Seth Smith hit him on the leg with a line drive. X-rays came up negative, fortunately.

So the Phillies head to Colorado with the Division Series tied 1-1. They will be facing Jason Hammel in Game 3. As of this writing, no pitcher is listed on the Phillies’ website to oppose him. However, since Blanton pitched in relief today and J.A. Happ had to leave with an injury, Pedro Martinez seems to be the only legitimate option to make a start. In his career, Martinez has a 3.40 career ERA in the post-season and 2.84 in the division series.

Game graph above courtesy FanGraphs.


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