BDD: The Mets Winning in 2010?

At Baseball Daily Digest, I explain why and how the New York Mets can contend with the Phillies for a division title in 2010.

2009 was not kind to the New York Mets. They lost 92 games, their highest total since ‘03. Fred Wilpon found himself involved in the Bernie Madoff ordeal. Eighteen Mets players spent time on the disabled list — so many that they became fodder for a Sporcle quiz. Daniel Murphy led the team with 12 home runs*; David Wright only had 10 a year after hitting 33.

* Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard hit more home runs than the Mets’ top four HR-hitters… combined (45 to 42).

Seven Mets will hit free agency, including Carlos Delgado and Gary Sheffield. If ever there was a time to be pessimistic about the Mets, it seems like it would be now, but this Phillies fan sees light at the end of the tunnel for the orange-and-blue from Queens.

The 2010 Bench

70% of the Phillies’ 2009 plate appearances were taken by the starting eight; only 14% were taken by bench players. With Matt Stairs and Eric Bruntlett gone, the Phillies now need to look for adequate bench players either from within or on the free agent market.

I’ve perused the list of free agents at MLB Trade Rumors, and I picked out a few I’d like to highlight as potential bench players for the Phillies in 2010. Join me, won’t you?

Gregg Zaun, C

He’ll be 39 in mid-April. Why would the Phillies sign a 39-year-old to squat behind home plate for 600 innings and take 250 plate appearances?

Because he’s productive, that’s why. According to FanGraphs, Zaun has been worth between 1.2 and 2.5 WAR since 2004. In terms of free agent dollars, he’s been worth $43 million over those six years yet was paid under $12 million. Last season alone, he was worth $8.2 million next to his $1.5 million salary.

Similar to Jamie Moyer in 2008, Zaun is still a reliable player even in his old age. He’s a switch hitter who has had a walk rate of at least 10% since he started getting regular at-bats in ’04, and he has some power as shown by his .156 ISO last season. Add a decent throwing arm into the equation as well: he has thrown out 24% of runners attempting to steal throughout his career.

Zaun is no Brian McCann, but for around $1.5 million, the Phillies can add some much-needed catching depth to their bench. This, of course, is not an indictment of Carlos Ruiz — he simply is not going to catch every single game.

By the way, Zaun has one of the best websites ever. “Bring Your Z-Game”? Will do.

Hank Blalock, 1B/3B

The two-time All-Star has had to deal with a lot of adversity throughout his career, mostly due to injuries. From 2003-05, he hit at least 25 HR and drove in at least 90 runs, but in 2007-08 only logged 513 plate appearances combined. He bounced back last season, sort of: he hit 25 HR but put up only a SLG-heavy .736 OPS.

Blalock has made over $20 million since ’06, but will surely see a pay cut in free agency. For the Phillies, he would fill the role vacated by Matt Stairs — power lefty off the bench. If Ryan Howard or the future third baseman need a day off, Blalock could get a spot start every now and then.

With all of the attention being paid to Adrian Beltre, Chone Figgins, Mark DeRosa, and Placido Polanco, Blalock could pass through unnoticed. If the Phillies can get him to accept a bench role for an incentive-laden contract, they would be considerably more versatile.

Troy Glaus, 3B

Thanks to shoulder surgery that sidelined him for just about all of the 2009 season, Glaus will be seeing a significant pay cut after earning $12 million. He’s had several injury-shortened seasons now, and that certainly will play a factor in what may be a long off-season for him.

Should the Phillies be lucky enough to add Glaus to their bench, they would be getting a power right-handed bat that hit at least 27 HR per season from 2005-08. When he’s playing the hot corner, he isn’t too shabby either — he posted a 5.0 UZR/150 for the Cardinals in ’08, the culmination of three years of defensive improvement.

As with Blalock, an incentive-laden contract with Glaus is a must and the total salary must not hamstring the Phillies from addressing other needs, such as adding another arm to the bullpen or re-signing Cliff Lee to a multi-year deal. At any rate, signing Glaus (or Blalock) would also allow the Phillies to better utilize Ben Francisco as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement.

Fixing the bench is not as pressing a need as finding a starting third baseman, but a year after having one of the best benches in the National League (.724 OPS), the Phillies had the 12th-best (.630 OPS) in 2009.

Rollins, Victorino Win Gold Gloves

Per Memories of Kevin Malone, a premature (and hopefully accurate) list of National League Gold Glove winners.

Update: It’s official.

P – Adam Wainwright
C – Yadier Molina
1B – Adrian Gonzalez
2B – Orlando Hudson
3B – Ryan Zimmerman
SS – Jimmy Rollins
OF – Shane Victorino

OF – Matt Kemp
OF – Michael Bourn

The results, at least on the Phillies side of things, are funny to say the least. Rollins and Victorino were among the poorer fielders on the team (2.9 and -4.2 UZR/150 respectively) and neither was the best at his position:

  • NL SS best by UZR/150: Rafael Furcal, 8.5
  • Rollins UZR/150: 2.9
  • NL SS best by Dewan +/-: Brendan Ryan, +24
  • Rollins +/-: -3
  • NL CF best by UZR/150: Colby Rasmus, 13.4
  • Victorino UZR/150: -4.2
  • NL CF best by Dewan +/-: Tony Gwynn, +23
  • Victorino +/-: -14

The glaring omission is Chase Utley, who tied with Freddy Sanchez for the best UZR/150 by a NL second baseman and led the NL in +/- at +14. Orlando Hudson had a -3.7 UZR/150 and +8 in Dewan.

An argument could also have been made for Jayson Werth in right field, though because the Gold Glove only recognizes outfielders as outfielders and not as left, center, or right fielders, there were certainly more than enough candidates ahead of him that an omission here is not so glaring.

Potential free agent signees Adrian Beltre (21.0 UZR/150, +27 Dewan) and Chone Figgins (18.8, +40) ranked highly defensively in the AL but the award was given to a just-as-deserving Evan Longoria (19.2, +21).

NY Daily News Blogger Nine Innings

Jesse Spector, of the Touching Base blog on the NY Daily News website, sent me a few questions to answer for his Blogger Nine Innings segment. Click here to check it out.

An excerpt:

5. Who do you think should (not necessarily will) win the MVPs, Cy Youngs and Rookie of the Year awards?

[…] The picks are fairly standard except for Zobrist in the AL. The race, statistically, between Zob and Joe Mauer is very close. It ultimately comes down to a highly-subjective judgment of Mauer’s defense, and I don’t think we can justifiably claim that his defense is elite since he allowed the second-most wild pitches/passed balls in the AL and had the lowest range factor among qualified catchers.

Free Agency: Third Basemen

Per MLB Trade Rumors, here is the list of free agent third basemen:

Rich Aurilia (38)
Brian Barden (29)
Adrian Beltre (31) – Type B
Wilson Betemit (28)
Aaron Boone (37)
Craig Counsell (39)
Joe Crede (32)
Bobby Crosby (30)
Mark DeRosa (35) – Type B
Pedro Feliz (35) – $5MM club option with a $500K buyout
Chone Figgins (32) – Type B
Nomar Garciaparra (36)
Troy Glaus (33) – Type B
Adam Kennedy (34)
Mike Lamb (34)
Mark Loretta (38)
Melvin Mora (38) – Type B
Pablo Ozuna (35)
Robb Quinlan (33)
Miguel Tejada (36) – Type A
Juan Uribe (31)

Just out of logic, I’m going to pare that list down to Beltre, Crede, DeRosa, Figgins, and Tejada. If you recall prior to the 2009 season, the Phillies had interest in replacement-level players like Aurilia and Garciaparra, among others. That won’t be the case this time around, since the Phillies have Pedro Feliz’s option to fall back on.

The Phillies could also make a trade for a third baseman, like Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals. This analysis, however, will strictly look at those available via free agency.

First, let’s look at offense using weighted on-base average, or wOBA.

Strictly looking at offense, all five of the other candidates produce about as well as Pedro Feliz.

Joe Crede’s 2007 was injury-shortened. He would be a good buy-low candidate but lacks the upside of Beltre and Figgins.

Miguel Tejada shows up on free agent lists both as a shortstop and a third baseman even though he’s never played third base at the Major League level. However, he is coming up on the back end of his career and a shift to third base would cover up his declining defense.

Mark DeRosa and Chone Figgins are the most versatile, as they can play just about every position except catcher and pitcher. Figgins, considering his speed, is exceptionally versatile and would provide a boon to the Phillies’ lineup as Jimmy Rollins, whose on-base percentage is lackluster for a lead-off hitter, could be moved lower in the order. DeRosa could spell Howard occaisionally at first base when a tough left-handed starter takes the hill.

Adrian Beltre is a good candidate for the Phillies as he plays defense about as well as Feliz and hits at a higher level, even though his wOBA has been on decline. A move from the spacious Safeco Field to the cozy Citizens Bank Park would create a nice bump in his power numbers. His right-handedness would help deter opposing teams from immediately bringing in LOOGYs to face Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Raul Ibanez.

Let’s move on to base running. Since FanGraphs factors in stolen bases, we don’t want to double-count that in our analysis, so we’ll take Base Running Runs (BRR) and subtract Stolen Base Runs (SBR). Both of the metrics, by the way, can be found at Baseball Prospectus.

No surprises here: Figgins is a really good runner; Feliz is not. Upgrading from Feliz to Figgins would add about 12 runs to the Phillies’ offense, or about 1.2 wins. That’s just with base running and not even factoring in stolen bases. In fact, replacing Feliz with anybody will provide a nice facelift. The Phillies haven’t really had a third baseman who could run the bases since Scott Rolen.

Before we tie this all together, we need to look at defense. Of course, we’ll be using UZR/150.

Feliz doesn’t look so bad here, but he’s been in steady decline likely due to his age and back problems. Beltre and Figgins, on the other hand, have been improving. Crede’s 2008, while not a bad defensive season, appears flukish as he commited as many errors as he did in 2005 and ’06 combined. DeRosa’s UZR/150 numbers look good in ’07 and ’08 but they come in a small sample of just over 400 defensive innings. In ’09, he logged 874 innings at third base. Using Tejada at third base should be viewed as a last-ditch effort.

All right, let’s wrap it up. Using FanGraphs and adding in base running runs from Baseball Prospectus, we’ll simply take a look at the total value of each player.

That’s right, in 2009, Figgins was worth about as much as Mark DeRosa, Miguel Tejada, and Adrian Beltre combined. Figgins, more than any other third baseman, should be in the Phillies’ crosshairs. Of course, they have other fish to fry, like adding depth to the starting rotation and getting a reliable arm in the back of the bullpen.

By the way, another decent under-the-radar candidate is Felipe Lopez. He had a .356 wOBA in 2009, though he hasn’t played much third base and when he has, it hasn’t been at a high level. Thankfully, he’s minimally ineffective on the bases (-0.3 BRR-SBR). He was worth about four and a half wins to the Milwaukee Brewers and Arizona Diamondbacks in 2009. That may not be his true talent level, but he’s right up there with Beltre and Tejada.

What can we gather from this? The Phillies can make a huge improvement by getting Chone Figgins, and they can slightly improve by signing anyone else mentioned in this analysis. Picking up Feliz’s $5.5 million option is safe and easy, as it only binds them for one more year and it doesn’t cost them too much money.

Spending, say, $10 million on a third baseman who provides 2.5 WAR would be a better idea than spending $5.5 million on Feliz and $4.5 million or so on a reliever who won’t provide at least 1.5 WAR. For comparison’s sake, Chan Ho Park provided exactly 1.5 WAR for the Phillies in ’09. Only 22 of 145 (15%) qualified relievers, including closers, provided at least 1.5 WAR. 15 of the 22 (68%) were closers.

The Phillies should jump through hoops to sign Figgins. Otherwise, Beltre — for his defense (considering there will be at least three left-handed pitchers in the starting rotation) and his right-handedness — should be #2 on the list. Among Crede, DeRosa, and Tejada, the Phillies should go for whoever comes the cheapest. Feliz’s option should only be picked up if the Phillies can’t find the financial flexibility to mend other areas (back of the rotation, back of the bullpen) while fixing third base as well.

BDD: Cause and Effect

At Baseball Daily Digest, I argue that the Yankees’ unlimited amount of money isn’t the cause of baseball’s financial inequalities; it is an effect.

Any fan would love to have George Steinbrenner as the owner of his or her favorite team. Steinbrenner clearly has a personal –  not to be confused with financial — stake in the success of his team and would sail to the edge of the Earth to put his team in a great position to succeed. Conversely, we would all hate to have Pohlad as an owner because his actions bespoke viewing the players as dollar signs. Star free agents gave Pohlad nightmares of money being thrown out of a Rolls-Royce convertible on a windy day in the Hamptons.

Share Your Favorite Moments of 2009

With the 2009 season in the books, there’s nothing left to do — for a little while — except look back and reflect. I’d like to share my favorite Phillies moment of 2009 and then I’ll open up the dialogue for anyone else who wants to chime in.

On April 27, 2009, the Phillies welcomed in the Washington Nationals for the first game of a three-game series. The Nats to that point were 4-13, so it should have been an easy victory, being WFC’s and all. However, someone must have notified the Nationals that it was Home Run Derby and not an actual game, as they would hit five home runs in the game: three off of starter Joe Blanton and two off of reliever Scott Eyre.

Heading into the bottom of the fifth, the Phillies had only managed two runs off of a very hittable pitcher in Shairon Martis. Reliever Jack Taschner led off the inning and made an out, but saw six pitches from Martis, setting up the rest of the inning. Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, and Chase Utley each would hit singles to load up the bases for Ryan Howard.

Howard quickly fell behind in the count 0-2, but on the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Howard decided to tie the game in one swing. He smoked a grand slam to center field, accounting for one of his 45 home runs and four of his 141 RBI on the season.

The score was knotted at six apiece, but that was not the end of the offense. Neither bullpen did its job at limiting damage, as six of the ten total relievers used in the game would allow at least one run inherited or otherwise. Going into the seventh inning, the score was tied at 7-7 and Charlie Manuel elected to bring in Scott Eyre to pitch to the Nationals’ dangerous left-handed hitters in Nick Johnson and Adam Dunn. Eyre faced five hitters and retired none of them, allowing three walks and two home runs (to Johnson and Dunn).

That Phillies offense would roar back. Garrett Mock was sent in to hold the 11-7 lead for the Nationals in the eighth inning, but he quickly sent two runs back the Phillies’ way on two singles, a double, and a sacrifice fly. With two outs, then-closer Joel Hanrahan was sent in to stop the bleeding. Instead, he created a gash.

His first offering to Ryan Howard was a ball in the dirt that allowed Chase Utley, who had hit an RBI single, to advance to second base. Hanrahan couldn’t find the strike zone after evening the count at 1-1, so the Phillies had runners on first and second for Jayson Werth. Again, Hanrahan couldn’t buy a strike, falling behind 3-0 and walking Werth on five pitches to load the bases.

That brought in the new guy, Pat Burrell’s replacement, Raul Ibanez. He had already made an impact in his first four weeks in Philadelphia, hitting five home runs and driving in 12 runs in his first 17 games.

At that point in the game, down 11-9 with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the eighth, the Phillies were just hoping for a base hit. Despite Hanrahan’s lack of control, Ibanez stepped to the plate looking to swing, likely thinking that the struggling closer would want to get ahead in the count. He was right — he got a belt-high inside fastball that he quickly turned on and sent down the line into the seats in right field for a grand slam, the Phillies’ second of the game.

J.A. Happ got the win, pitching a scoreless eighth inning, and Ryan Madson got the save, pitching a perfect ninth. Aside from that, it was an ugly game for pitchers. The two teams’ staffs combined to allow 26 hits, 16 walks, and 24 earned runs in 17 combined innings (12.71 ERA, 2.47 WHIP).

The Ibanez grand slam was one of my favorite moments of 2009. What were yours?

Exeunt Phillies

Congratulations to the 2009 World Series champion New York Yankees. It was a great, hard-fought series and they deserve their success, no matter how much money they spent on C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixiera, and A.J. Burnett. In the end, it was money well spent.

Congratulations to the 2009 National League champion Philadelphia Phillies, who were two World Series victories away from being the first National League team to win back-to-back World Series since the Big Red Machine in 1975-76. It was a hell of a run, and while the dream has poofed for 2009, 2010 is not out of the question.

Game Six was not a thriller. It was hardly dramatic. The Phillies were 3-to-1 underdogs after Hideki Matsui’s two-run home run in the second inning. They were 5-to-1 underdogs when Matsui got his third and fourth RBI’s on a single in the third inning. Matsui made it 49-to-1 on a two-run double in the fifth. Ryan Howard’s two-run home run in the sixth only bumped the Phillies from 3% to win to 7%.

Andy Pettitte, as in Game 3, was not sharp. He had spotty control, walking five while pitching five and two-thirds innings, but induced two gut-punching double plays off of the bats of Chase Utley in the first and Jimmy Rollins in the fifth.

Pedro Martinez, meanwhile, did not have his stuff at all. Contrary to what the FOX broadcasters were saying, his fastball velocity was similar to that on October 29 in Game Two. The difference was that his fastball in Game Two was getting nearly two more inches of horizontal break and more than a half-inch more of vertical break. Simply put, his fastballs tonight were flat(ter).

Martinez’s pitch selection in Game Six was similar to Game Two:

The difference, however, was that in Two, the Yankees got their hits (three singles, a double, and two home runs) on four curve balls and two change-ups. In Six, the Yankees got their three hits (two singles and a home run) all on fastballs.

Martinez wasn’t locating his breaking pitches effectively. Here’s a look at where his change-ups ended up:

  • 35 total change-ups
  • 16 taken for balls (46%)
  • 8 fouled off (23%)
  • 7 taken for called strikes (20%)
  • 2 hit for outs (6%)
  • 2 swung at and missed (6%)

And the sliders:

  • 12 total sliders
  • 4 taken for balls (33%)
  • 3 swung at and missed (25%)
  • 2 hit for outs (17%)
  • 2 taken for strikes (17%)
  • 1 fouled off (8%)

As you can see in the above charts, very rarely did Pedro throw his off-speed pitches below the knees and when he did, the Yankees rarely offered at them. In fact, of the ten change-ups thrown below the knees, only once was it swung at; and none of Pedro’s sliders were southbound. Most of the breaking pitches the Yankees offered at were belt-high or higher, where those pitches are least efficient.

Taking advantage of Pedro Martinez, as he did in Game Two, was Hideki Matsui. In his two plate appearances against the future Hall of Famer, Matsui drove in four runs on a home run and a single. Matsui would add two more RBI — making it six total — against Chad Durbin, tying Bobby Richardson’s single-game World Series record for RBI, set in 1960.

In the World Series, Matsui had 8 hits in 13 at-bats (.615), including three home runs and a double. He led his team in HR and RBI and tied for the lead in hits — a no-brainer choice for World Series MVP even though he only started three games and never took the field.

On the other side of record-breaking, Ryan Howard broke the all-time record for strikeouts in the World Series when he struck out for the 13th time against Damaso Marte in the eighth inning. Chase Utley, a candidate for World Series MVP until Matsui broke out, remained tied with Reggie Jackson for most home runs in the World Series with five.

Mariano Rivera, he of 39 career post-season saves (13 of which have come in the World Series), entered with one out in the eighth inning and recorded the remaining five outs to clinch the championship for the Yankees, their 27th championship in franchise history.

The Phillies have no reason to hang their heads, as they put together the most impressive two-year run in the franchise’s long history, and they are still primed for another run next year. Pedro Martinez, Scott Eyre, Matt Stairs, Chan Ho Park and Brett Myers are all free agents. Martinez, Eyre, and Stairs may hang up their spikes. There are three significant arbitration cases to be dealt with (Joe Blanton, Shane Victorino, and Carlos Ruiz) as well, so the upcoming off-season will be another critical test for GM Ruben Amaro, who is going into his second year handling the business end of things for the Phillies.

For the Yankee-fan view of things, head over to It’s About the Money.

Game graph above courtesy FanGraphs.

A Harrowing Escape

Remember the position James Bond was in in Goldfinger, when he was tied up with the laser ready to — what do lasers do again? slice? buzz? — him into two pieces?

“You expect me to talk?”

“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”

The Phillies didn’t talk; they walked, both literally (in the baseball sense) and figuratively.

After yet another first inning run was given to the Yankees — the third in two games — Chase Utley gave the Phillies the spark they needed to force a Game 6 in New York. Jimmy Rollins led off the bottom of the first with a line drive single up the middle, and A.J. Burnett proceeded to hit Shane Victorino in the hand with a two-seam fastball that didn’t tail back into the strike zone.

Utley, to that point, had done the majority of his damage against C.C. Sabathia. Burnett, however, served up a first-pitch fastball down the middle that simply couldn’t be passed up. Chase took his usual perfect, effortless, mechanically-flawless swing of his and gave the fans in the right field seats a souvenir and the Phillies a 3-1 lead. The home run was Utley’s fourth of the World Series, tying Lenny Dykstra, Barry Bonds, and Duke Snider for the National League record.

In the third inning, the Phillies stayed patient against A.J. Burnett who, unlike his Game 2 self, simply could not find the strike zone. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard both walked to start the inning. Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez would follow with RBI singles to center field and right field respectively. It was at that point manager Joe Girardi opted to remove Burnett from the game — without having recorded an out in the third inning. Burnett’s replacement, David Robertson, would allow the sixth run on a Carlos Ruiz RBI groundout.

Chase Utley hit his second home run of the game and fifth home run of the post-season in the seventh inning off of Phil Coke. Utley’s five is tied with Reggie Jackson for most in a World Series all-time. He still has at least one more game left to lay sole claim to the record. Ibanez also added a solo home run in the seventh off of Coke after Ryan Howard struck out, tying Willie Wilson’s post-season record with 12 strikeouts.

The early offense, a five-run cushion, was more than enough for Phillies savior and starter Clifton Phifer Lee. The Phillies put ten runners on base on five hits, four walks, and the hit-by-pitch in the first three innings alone. Lee wasn’t as sharp as he had been in his prior four post-season starts, but was good enough to keep the Yankee offense at bay.

Charlie Manuel — who has rarely pushed the right buttons in the World Series — let Lee come back out for the eighth inning despite owning a six-run lead and many available arms in the bullpen. He allowed a single to Johnny Damon and two doubles to Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez to start the inning. A-Rod’s drove in two runs with the double and would score on a sacrifice fly by Robinson Cano, making the score 8-5.

Lee’s final line: 7 IP, 5 ER, 3 K, 3 BB. It looks much worse than his start really was. His line was 7 IP, 2 ER, 3 K, 3 BB prior to Manuel’s illogical decision to allow him to take the bump to start the eighth. Chan Ho Park, however, limited the damage in relief of Lee, and Ryan Madson induced Derek Jeter to hit into a run-scoring ground ball double-play, and struck out Mark Teixeira in the ninth to seal an 8-6 victory.

The Phillies will pack up their bags and head to New York for Game 6, which will likely see a match-up between starters Andy Pettitte (on short rest) and Pedro Martinez.

One down, two to go.

Game graph above courtesy FanGraphs.

Curtains

Game Four was a microcosm of the Phillies’ 2009 season. Starter not named Cliff Lee gives up too many runs in too few innings, middle relief does a decent job of keeping the game close, the Phillies catch up, Brad Lidge wraps the game up with a nice bow tie for the opposition.

Eleven blown saves. At least one run allowed in 30 of his 67 appearances during the regular season.

The fear that came along with Charlie Manuel’s continuing to rely on Lidge was that their 2008 untouchable superstar would come in in a critical spot in the playoffs and — well, you know the rest. That fear came to fruition tonight, even after Lidge rather handily retired the first two Yankees in the top of the ninth inning.

Johnny Damon had what is known as a “professional at-bat” when he fouled off five Brad Lidge offerings to work the count to 3-2 after eight pitches. On the ninth, he hit a line drive that dropped in front of left fielder Raul Ibanez for the single. What would unfold next is atypical, but given Lidge’s season, perhaps not surprising.

With the right-hander on the mound, Mark Teixeira came up to the plate in the left-handed batter’s box. Due to that, the Phillies shifted their infield towards the right side, leaving Pedro Feliz at shortstop and covering second base on a stolen base attempt. Damon attempted and succeeded to steal the base, and because Lidge failed to cover third base with the shifted infield, Damon dashed past Feliz for the free extra base.

Still, a runner on third base with two outs is not terrible news — it just means that Carlos Ruiz has to be sharp on Lidge’s slider in the dirt. And that is perhaps why Lidge was victimized, as he hit Teixeira to put runners on the corners for Alex Rodriguez. He then threw a first-pitch low-and-inside fastball to get ahead of A-Rod.

Perhaps Rodriguez was looking for another fastball because he knew that the slider was less of an option with the runner on third base. Nonetheless, Lidge threw another fastball and it was laced past Ibanez in left field for a go-ahead RBI double.

The Yankees would tack on two more runs when Lidge threw four fastballs out of five pitches to Jorge Posada. The fourth fastball was lined into the left-center field gap, scoring Teixeira and Rodriguez to up the score to 7-4. Posada was thrown out trying to advance to second base.

It is a devastating loss for the Phillies as they once again showed their resilience when Pedro Feliz hit a game-tying solo home run in the bottom of the eighth off of Joba Chamberlain. That hit would have been added to Ryan Howard’s go-ahead double in Colorado and Jimmy Rollins’ walk off against the Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton, but it went for naught. Chase Utley’s dominance against C.C. Sabathia is also lost as a result of Lidge’s ninth inning collapse.

The Phillies now find themselves down three games to one with three games left to play, all of which they must win if they want to repeat as World Series champions.

Game graph above courtesy FanGraphs.