Phillies Win First Game of 2011 NLDS Rematch

The Phillies went back to St. Louis for the first time since last October, when they lost the National League Division Series in five games. Joe Blanton opposed ground ball savant Jake Westbrook; however, it was anything but a pitcher’s duel, reminiscent of Game One of the NLDS. The Phillies jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead after three trips to the plate, but the Cardinals fought back and tied the game at 7-7 after five innings. Neither team’s bullpen could stop the bleeding, the Cardinals allowing three runs and the Phillies allowing two, good enough for a 10-9 victory.

It was one of those wins that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. As the score indicates, the game was sloppy all the way around. The Cardinals’ four-run fourth inning can be credited to great hitting, but also due to poor fundamentals as Ty Wigginton was late getting into position to cut the throw off from center field on Carlos Beltran‘s line drive single that drove in the second run, and Shane Victorino overthrew the cut-off on Yadier Molina‘s single to center, which brought the Cardinals to within two at 6-4. Blanton was hit hard, allowing five line drives  on 18 balls in play. He also surrendered two home runs, both in the fifth inning to Matt Holliday and Molina.

On the offensive side, the Phillies were very fortunate on batted balls in the first two innings. Shane Victorino barely beat out what could have been an inning-ending double play, allowing the first run to score. Shortly thereafter, Ty Wigginton hit a ground ball up the middle that was just out of the range of shortstop Rafael Furcal, putting the Phillies up 2-0. Freddy Galvis followed up with a single past the diving Tyler Greene at second base, scoring runs three and four in the inning. In the second inning, Jimmy Rollins led off with a weak, looping “line drive” to right field, also barely out of the reach of Greene. With two outs and Hunter Pence on first base, Carlos Ruiz singled up the middle, again outranging Furcal. The two would subsequently be knocked in on a Victorino line drive to left-center. With normal batted ball luck, the Phillies might have had one or two runs rather than six.

Despite the impact of luck, it was good to see the Phillies pound out 18 hits in the game. Placido Polanco, Ruiz, Wigginton, and Galvis each had three hits. Polanco has quietly gotten back on track. Since April 25, he is hitting .326 with a .786 OPS. Ruiz continues to hit as his OPS crossed 1.000. Wigginton had been slumping badly, as he had a .410 OPS in the month of May entering the night, but he added two singles and an eventual game-winning solo home run in the eighth inning. Galvis, the team leader in doubles, added two singles and a double. Although he has a sub-.700 OPS, he is still exceeding expectations as many did not believe he would be able to have any success against Major League pitching at this point in his career.

Ruiz, who has essentially done everything a baseball player can do this year, ran the bases quite swiftly on the two-run double by Victorino in the second inning. Starting on first base, Ruiz motored around the bases and expertly slid in at home plate. If you’re keeping score at home, Ruiz this year has handled the pitching staff, called games, blocked balls in the dirt, thrown out base-stealers, hit for average, hit for power, and even provided value on the bases.

On the flip side, the Phillies’ bullpen continued to falter. The Phillies entered the night with the second-worst bullpen ERA in the league at 4.78. Chad Qualls surrendered a solo home run to David Freese in the seventh, bringing the Cardinals back to 9-8. Lefty Antonio Bastardo allowed a run in the eighth on a lead-off double followed by a single and a sacrifice fly, putting the score at 10-9. Fortunately, Jonathan Papelbon was able to work around a one-out single in the ninth to preserve the win for the Phillies.

The ten runs marks the most the Phillies have scored in a game since losing 15-13 to the Braves on May 2. They reached double-digit runs for only the second time on the season, and they had scored a total of eight runs over their previous four games. Still, the Phillies only drew three walks, continuing an ongoing problem. They entered the night with the second-lowest walk rate in the league at 6.7%, well below the average 8.3%. The Phillies have also struck out at the lowest rate (17.1%; NL average 20.1%). With a below-average ISO (.126 to .140), they are a very contact-oriented team and thus very prone to the outcome of balls in play. Against teams with high-strikeout starting pitchers and good defenses, the Phillies will struggle. For example, the Phillies are 2-4 against the Nationals, who lead the league in both strikeout rate (23.5%) and defensive efficiency (.732) and park-adjusted defensive efficiency (3.29).

Leave a Reply

*

22 comments

  1. euphronius

    May 25, 2012 07:06 AM

    Also Freddy Galvis had 3 hits and may not be a lost cause at the plate.

  2. Anon

    May 25, 2012 07:20 AM

    Can’t wait to see Bastardo start putting up the numbers like he did last season. Another great BlueClaw to go shore to show just like Freddy Galvis.

  3. yo

    May 25, 2012 08:22 AM

    I know it’s kind of the nature of the beast, but can’t “we” sometimes just enjoy a wild, high-scoring baseball game? One of the most memorable games of my (our?) youth occurred on 4/17/1976, when Schmidt hit four dongs and the Phils beat the Cubs 18-16 (and I recall several other wild Phils-Cubs games around that time, as well). While reveling in Schmidt’s 4 homers and the 24 hits banged out by the Phils, I don’t imagine anyone brooded over the fact that they only walked 3 times. Maybe that’s a good thing….

  4. Richard

    May 25, 2012 08:45 AM

    I agree the Phillies played somewhat sloppily in the Cardinals 4-run inning, but I didn’t think that sloppiness actually led to runs (assuming, of course, that the inning played out the same way, which is obviously not a good assumption).

    Also, I think saying the bullpen “continued to falter” is misleading, recalling yesterday’s observation that it has largely corrected its course since the Mets series. The run Bastardo gave up last night was his first run of the month; he’s been dominant otherwise. It’s Qualls who’s “continued to falter”.

    I wasn’t too worried about just three walks (plus a HBP, on a pitch that would have made it 3-2 on Ruiz). They were working counts marvelously, for the most part, making the pitcher work. Can’t complain about that. And their walk rate has been, as a group, steadily increasing, also since the Mets series.

  5. Original Evan

    May 25, 2012 09:05 AM

    All Chooch does is everything.

  6. KH

    May 25, 2012 09:31 AM

    Bill sometimes I think you get way too obssessed with luck. For one thing quite a few games are decided by luck. Another thing quite a few hits in general are basically luck or hitting them where they ain’t. I would go as far as to say that most hits are not the classic definition of a line drive although I admit do not have the statistics so maybe Im wrong and its tough to parse out stuff like that one person’s ine drive is not another person’s line drive.

  7. Frank Reynolds

    May 25, 2012 09:46 AM

    Chooch was charged with an error. Is it just me or was that questionable scoring?

  8. Jeff T

    May 25, 2012 09:50 AM

    Great analysis.

  9. Richard

    May 25, 2012 09:51 AM

    I thought it was kind of gratuitous scoring, Frank. Victorino’s throw comes in, ill-advisedly, and, yes, Ruiz dropped it. But the scoring is the runner advanced to second on the error? Um, no, he advanced on the throw, which was, besides being a bad idea, terrible.

  10. Frank Reynolds

    May 25, 2012 10:04 AM

    Richard you explained that better than I did. I was also thinking by charging an error to Ruiz it might make Yadi better. Because as we all know Yadi has to be the best catcher in baseball.

  11. paulma2zak

    May 25, 2012 10:05 AM

    Out of curiousity, does anyone know who leads the league in “reached base on error”? JMJ had another one last night, and it just feels like he’s had quite a few of them this year. Wanted to see if the numbers backed this. Meaningless stat, more so just interested to see.

    Also, does reached base on an error have a value > 0 when determining wOBA?

  12. paulma2zak

    May 25, 2012 10:31 AM

    Bill and Richard – thanks for the information and links.

  13. yo

    May 25, 2012 10:41 AM

    I follow all of on Twitter! However, my comment relates to the depth of certain parts of the analysis (e.g., pointing out that they only walked three times in a game in which they had 18 hits as support for a continuing problem re: lack of plate discipline).

  14. Bill Baer

    May 25, 2012 11:13 AM

    Well, you can have a successful night and still have made plenty of mistakes. I guess I’m a bit more pessimistic about the plate discipline than most of you.

  15. jauer

    May 25, 2012 11:43 AM

    I did not see when the runner decided to advance to second, but if he did not decide to advance until the ball rolled away from Ruiz, then it is certainly Ruiz’s error.

  16. Noah

    May 25, 2012 12:44 PM

    I’m pretty sure it’s impossible for Ruiz to commit an error.

  17. pedro3131

    May 25, 2012 01:34 PM

    I don’t think happening on plate discipline is a bad idea. More runners on base = more chances for runs. Giving guys free passes sure has hurt our bullpen, so it would be nice to have some of that on our side.

  18. LTG

    May 25, 2012 04:30 PM

    Sergio, you rascal. Sweet talking me like that.

Next ArticleCrash Bag, Vol. 3: Niners vs. Logicians