Thoughts on the Phillies’ 14-10 Opening Day Victory

After an off-season that lasted for what seemed like an eternity, baseball returned to us this afternoon as the Phillies battled the Rangers in Texas. Cliff Lee opposed Tanner Scheppers, filling in for the injured Yu Darvish. The two teams combined for 24 runs, 31 hits, and 10 walks. With 14 of those runs, the Phillies set a franchise record in the live ball era for runs scored on Opening Day. While it was nice to see the Phillies’ offense come alive after ending the spring with three consecutive shut-outs, there weren’t many moments of comfort during the game.

Source: FanGraphs

Let’s start with Lee. He allowed eight runs on eleven hits (including a third-inning three-run home run to Alex Rios) and a walk while striking out one in five innings, and got the win! The lack of strikeouts is the most surprising part of his outing. Lee didn’t get his first swinging strike until the third inning, when he struck out Mitch Moreland (the 15th hitter he faced) for the second out of the inning. He finished with two swinging strikes in 101 pitches (two percent, obviously). For comparison, his whiff rate last season was 20.6 percent. The eight runs represented a first for Lee, as it was the first time he allowed that many in a Phillies uniform and only the fourth time it has happened in his career spanning 312 starts.

Scheppers was nearly as bad, and his problems had less to do with missing bats and more to do with a simple inability to find the strike zone. The Phillies tied for the fourth-lowest walk rate in baseball at 6.9 percent, but set up a big inning in the second inning when they drew three — yes, count ’em, three — walks. In total, the Phillies scored six runs in the second on a Cody Asche RBI double, a Ben Revere RBI single, and a Jimmy Rollins grand slam. The home run was the 200th of Rollins’ career, making him only the third player in baseball history with 400 doubles, 100 triples, 200 home runs, and 400 stolen bases (via @BRefPlayIndex). It was also the fourth grand slam of his career, and his first since October 1, 2010 against the Braves. Rollins finished 1-for-6 but the homer was refreshing considering how little of hit he displayed last season.

Overall, Scheppers allowed seven runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out two in four innings of work. The Rangers’ bullpen wasn’t much better, as the combination of Pedro Figueroa, Alexi Ogando, Shawn Tolleson, and Seth Rosin were collectively on the hook for seven more runs on nine hits and three walks with five strikeouts in five innings.

Marlon Byrd, who shocked the baseball world with 24 home runs last season, hit his first home run of the season off of Figueroa in the top of the sixth. Jake Diekman had a solid bottom half of the sixth inning, but ran into trouble in the seventh (why he started a second inning of relief against two right-handed hitters is questionable decision-making by manager Ryne Sandberg), allowing the first two batters he faced to reach on a walk and a single. Sandberg brought in B.J. Rosenberg to put out the fire, but he allowed both of his inherited runners to score to make it 13-10. Antonio Bastardo came in to get the final out of the inning.

Cody Asche got a run back in the top of the eighth with a solo home run. Bastardo stayed in and tossed a scoreless bottom of the eighth. Rosin held the Phillies scoreless in the top of the ninth, then Jonathan Papelbon closed the door in the bottom of the ninth in a non-save situation to ensure the 14-10 victory.

Overall, the Phillies got a hit out of every spot in the lineup. Ben Revere, Chase Utley, and Asche finished with three hits apiece; Ryan Howard and Byrd had two. Revere and Domonic Brown each stole a base as well.

Revere also made this nifty grab in the third inning in support of Lee:

Box scores from FanGraphs:

1 Ben Revere – CF 6 3 0 2 3 0 1 .500 1.05 0.17
2 Jimmy Rollins – SS 6 1 1 1 4 0 1 .433 0.95 0.11
3 Chase Utley – 2B 6 3 0 0 1 0 0 .581 0.5 0.09
4 Ryan Howard – 1B 6 2 0 1 0 1 3 .458 0.7 0.11
5 Marlon Byrd – RF 6 2 1 1 1 0 1 .599 0.93 0.08
6 Domonic Brown – DH 5 1 0 1 0 0 1 .200 0.74 -0.07
7 Carlos Ruiz – C 5 1 0 3 0 2 0 .499 0.88 -0.03
8 Cody Asche – 3B 5 3 1 4 2 1 0 1.166 1.2 0.26
9 John Mayberry – PH-LF 3 1 0 0 2 1 0 .745 1.16 0.24
9 Tony Gwynn – LF 2 0 0 1 0 1 1 .374 1.5 -0.02
Total 50 17 3 14 13 6 8 .555 0.91 0.94


Cliff Lee (W) 5.0 27 11 1 8 1 1 5.44 1.21 -0.47
Antonio Bastardo 1.1 5 0 0 0 1 0 4.89 1.34 0.07
Jake Diekman 1.0 5 1 0 2 1 2 1.64 0.40 -0.03
Jonathan Papelbon 1.0 3 0 0 0 0 1 -0.36 0.30 0.01
B.J. Rosenberg 0.2 4 2 0 0 1 0 7.14 1.36 -0.03
Total 9.0 44 14 1 10 4 4 4.53 1.08 -0.44

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  1. Bob

    March 31, 2014 06:42 PM

    When I see so many hits, walks, and runs, I usually think that the umpire had an abnormally tiny strike zone making the pitchers throw the ball right down the middle in order to get a strike call. I didn’t watch the game, but did anyone notice if the K zone was small?

    • Chuck

      March 31, 2014 07:48 PM

      from franzke and la’s commentary it sounded not so much small as high. the at bat app was messed up today, but it did seem like joyce was not calling low strikes.

    • fanboi

      March 31, 2014 11:12 PM

      if anything it was a generous strike zone today. ump was 6 inches off the 3rd base side of the plate consistently. This is both based on the eye test and the pitch f/x on the Rangers telecast.

      I will say that all the pitchers had command issues and left a lot of balls up, by-in-large.

    • JG

      March 31, 2014 11:41 PM

      He was definitely squeezing the corners a bit but I wouldn’t really consider it small.

      Cliff’s problem had more to do with his fastball rarely hitting 90 (mostly hanging around 88-89) and him leaving too many pitches over the plate. He pretty much abandoned the fastball after the third inning and struggled to locate his offspeed stuff.

      • fanboi

        April 01, 2014 03:11 PM

        per JRollins, Cliff’s cutter was not working and he was throwing all fastballs, by-in-large.

  2. Aaron H

    March 31, 2014 10:35 PM

    @Jeff P-Ditto! Keep up with the FanGraph box scores! Hopefully it’ll stir a groundswell of popular support from this website to incorporate advanced metrics-based box scores across the nation (and Toronto).

  3. Bob

    March 31, 2014 11:41 PM

    It’s crazy that BJ Rosenberg was in the highest leverage situation in the game. I would not have had him there when Bastardo appears to have still been on the bench.

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