Watch Jeremy Hellickson Strike Out Joey Votto Three Times

By all accounts, Jeremy Hellickson had a great day this past Monday. Not only did he make his first ever Opening Day start, he pitched six innings without allowing an earned run in only 79 pitches. He walked no batters, struck out six, and only allowed three hits.

The most exciting development of the afternoon came during the three swinging strikeouts Hellickson earned against Joey Votto. Regardless of the Reds’ struggles this season, Votto remains one of the most patient and accomplished hitters in the majors, and to strike him out even once is an accomplishment.

What was the root cause of Hellickson’s success on Opening Day? There were a couple noticeable features of his outing. Brooks Baseball recorded no four-seam fastballs on the day; he relied exclusively on sinkers and used secondaries more frequently than during his time with the Diamondbacks.

Continue reading…

Phillies Score 13 Runs, Lose Anyway

Do not adjust your browser, this is not a duplicate game recap. Charlie Manuel mismanaged his bullpen and led the Phillies to lose what was otherwise a very winnable game. The Braves won in the eleventh inning on a Chipper Jones walk-off two-run home run to deep center field off of recent call-up Brian Sanchez, in his third inning of work. $50 million man Jonathan Papelbon sat in the bullpen, once again unused.

The game, as you can tell from the FanGraphs win probability chart on the right, was topsy-turvy. The Phillies chased Tommy Hanson out of the game in the fourth inning after taking a 6-0 lead, but Roy Halladay broke down in the fifth. Brian McCann had the key hit with a game-tying grand slam, resetting the game at six apiece. That should have ended Halladay’s night as he was ineffective and laboring heavily, sweating profusely. However, Manuel allowed Halladay to take the mound for a sixth inning. After a single and a double, Jayson Heyward drove both runners in with a line drive single to right field, putting the Braves ahead 8-6. Halladay left the game and Joe Savery entered, and the lefty finished the inning with no further damage.

The Phillies stormed right back in the top of the seventh against lefty Eric O’Flaherty. A Ty Wigginton walk and a John Mayberry single brought Carlos Ruiz to the plate with runners on first and second and no outs. After taking a first-pitch sinker for a ball, Ruiz turned around a slider and crushed a fly ball well beyond the left field fence for a three-run home run, putting the Phillies ahead 9-8. Antonio Bastardo got through the bottom of the seventh with no damage, thanks to two rather interesting plays on fly balls to left field by John Mayberry — neither of them graceful, but exciting nonetheless.

Ruiz put the team on his back once again in the top of the eighth. The Phillies managed to load the bases with two outs on two seeing-eye singles and a walk, bringing up their beloved catcher. Ruiz offered at a first-pitch Kris Medlen fastball and sent it down the right field line, clearing the bases and staking the Phillies to a 12-8 lead. Manuel called upon veteran Jose Contreras to start the eighth. The skeptical among us simply hoped Contreras could manage a clean inning to avoid any leverage-related misuse of relievers. Unfortunately, that was not the case tonight.

Dan Uggla led off with a single to right, bringing up switch-hitter Chipper Jones. Jones hit a ground ball up the middle, but within range of Jimmy Rollins for at least one out. Rollins, in a shocking turn of events, bobbled the ball and no outs were recorded, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Despite baseball orthodoxy, which states that you cannot use your closer on the road, this is when Jonathan Papelbon should have started warming up. The next batter, Matt Diaz, struck out and it looked like Contreras might have been able to see his way out of the inning. Unfortunately, the light-hitting Tyler Pastornicky smoked a line drive to center field, driving in Uggla and moving Jones to second base. If not after Jones’ at-bat, Papelbon should have been warming up after Pastornicky’s single. Contreras walked Jason Heyward to load the bases and was finally taken out of the game. And replaced by Michael Schwimer.

With the bases loaded with one out and a three-run lead, you want a pitcher that misses bats — a strikeout guy. Sure, you can bring in a ground ball pitcher and hope for a double play, but ground balls become hits 23 percent of the time on average. Besides, with David Herndon on the disabled list and Chad Qualls theoretically unavailable, the Phillies didn’t have any such pitchers. Papelbon has posted a double-digit K/9 in each of the past five seasons and was averaging a strikeout per inning so far in 2012. Additionally, Papelbon has excellent control, averaging 2.4 walks per nine innings. Schwimer, on the other hand, has 16.2 Major League innings to his name with a 4.08 xFIP. While he has shown an ability to miss bats, he hasn’t been fooling hitters as he entered the game with a 5.40 ERA and a 4.3 BB/9. Schwimer was absolutely the wrong choice, but he was the only choice, per baseball orthodoxy.

Unsurprisingly, Schwimer walked Michael Bourn on four pitches, forcing in a run and bringing the Braves to within two runs at 12-10. Next, Martin Prado singled on a sharp line drive to right field to drive in two, tying the game at 12-all. Freddie Freeman put the cherry on top with a sacrifice fly to left field, ending the inning with his team having overcome a four-run deficit. Schwimer induced one swing-and-miss out of 15 pitches.

With their backs against the wall against All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel, the Phillies small-balled their way to a tie. Juan Pierre walked to lead off the inning, then stole second base. After Jimmy Rollins struck out on a very questionable called strike three, Pierre moved to third when Placido Polanco hit a slow grounder to shortstop for the second out. On his team’s last legs, Shane Victorino hit a sharp ground ball up the middle, gloved by the slick-fielding Jack Wilson. Victorino’s speed was too much, however, as he barely beat the throw. The Phillies were back at 13-13.

A tie game on the road in extra innings. We’ve been here before. Twice, actually: April 7 in Pittsburgh and April 18 in San Francisco. The Phillies lost both games and in both games Papelbon went unused. They also lost on April 8 in nine innings, but Papelbon should have been called upon in that game as well. There’s a connection here. Tie game on the road, adhere to baseball orthodoxy, lose the game as your inferior reliever surrenders predictable runs while your best reliever rots on his seat in the bullpen.

Brian Sanches was Charlie’s man for the tenth inning. Who is that, you ask? He was in the slop section of the Phillies’ bullpen back in 2006-07 and spent his last three seasons with the Florida Marlins. He hadn’t thrown an inning in the Majors until tonight, having spent all of his time with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. That’s not to say Sanches is bad; he is patently quite capable as a reliever. However, if you are in a tight game against a division rival on May 3, I will go with my $50 million reliever pitching in his third consecutive game than Triple-A filler who had yet to face a Major League hitter. What’s the point of paying a reliever $50 million if you are not going to use him in the most important spots, right?

Sanches beat the odds, though, holding the Braves scoreless not just in the bottom of the ninth, but the tenth as well. Shows what we know! The Phillies, meanwhile, could not scrape any more offense together, going into the bottom of the eleventh still knotted at 13-13. Sanches took the mound for his third inning of work. The Phillies still had Papelbon and Kyle Kendrick available, so Manuel must have thought this game was destined to reach the 19th inning, perhaps still gun-shy from last year’s debacle.

Dan Uggla swung at Sanches’ first pitch of the eleventh, an 89-MPH four-seam fastball, sending a ground ball past Polanco at third base and into left field for a single. 40-year-old Chipper Jones came to the plate, looking to go home before the clock struck midnight. He, too, swung at Sanches’ first pitch, this time an 88-MPH two-seam fastball. Jones took an obvious home run cut and missed wildly. Jones worked the count back to 2-2 before striking fear into the hearts of Phillies fans, striking a foul ball just to the right of the right-field foul pole. It was mere foreshadowing. Jones worked the count full, then sent an 88-MPH two-seam fastball deep into the center field seats for a walk-off two-run home run, pinning the Braves to a 15-13 victory.

The Phillies came into the game averaging fewer than 3.5 runs per game, yet lost a game (started by Roy Halladay no less) in which their offense managed 13 runs. It, like the three aforementioned April games, were salvageable with better bullpen management. Unfortunately, the Phillies do not have such a tactician at the helm and have paid for it with four preventable losses in 25 games.

Game graph courtesy FanGraphs.

A Closer Look at Lee’s Masterpiece

Last night’s 10 innings of wonder were just the latest installments to a Phillies season that
has seen some great things on the rubber. Lee collected a bunch of trivia footnotes in going
10 scoreless innings, ultimately yielding after 102 pitches and no run support. His was the
best outing by a Phillies pitcher since Roy Halladay’s NLDS no-no (in this writer’s opinion), with the only thing missing being a win.

We could harp on managerial strategy and lament the missed chance at a win, but I’ll choose instead to delve a bit deeper into Lee’s work and see just what made him so successful in San Francisco Wednesday.

  • Up, Up and Away (Literally)

Lee only faced seven lefties in last night’s start, but he seemed to favor an unusual approach when confronting them: throwing up and out of the zone.

Of the 20 pitches he threw to lefty batters Nate Schierholtz and Brandon Crawford – an average under three pitches per PA – Lee threw 12 out of the zone, inducing seven total swings and three whiffs. Schierholtz and Crawford went 0-for-7 against Lee, swinging at pitches out of their comfort zones. Crawford, for his career, his a bit more of a tendency to chase pitches in that area, but neither he nor Schierholtz could really be considered free swingers when it comes to that particular zone.

  •  A Perfect Curve
Lee’s curveball was excellent Wednesday, and that might be putting it mildly. Only 16 of the 102 pitches were of the curved variety, but each one was perplexing to Giants hitters.
Throwing it mostly to righties, Lee arced his curve just right often enough to catch the lower outside edge of the plate. He didn’t register any Ks against a RHB with the pitch (he did have one against Schierholtz in the 2nd). but he kept them off-balance enough to keep working ahead in the count.
  • Man at Work
As mentioned above, Lee did a lot of pitching in favorable counts, but even when he fell behind, he didn’t stay that way for long. Lee threw 25 first-pitch strikes to 34 batters, meaning he started 1-0 on just nine hitters. Bearing that in mind, consider how impressive this next figure is: Lee needed to throw just 12 total pitches in hitters’ counts (1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, 3-1) Wednesday, and 11 of those were thrown for strikes. Lee did not have a single three-ball count, which will also typically work heavily in a pitcher’s favor.
Lee’s outing was a special performance that deserved a better fate, but should still be remembered as likely the season’s finest effort by a Philly pitcher to date and one that will be hard to top by season’s end.

Cliff Lee Historically Great, Phillies Still Somehow Lose

In this millennium, only three pitchers have completed the tenth inning of a game they started: Aaron Harang, Roy Halladay (twice), and Mark Mulder. That is how rare it was to see Cliff Lee toe the slab in the tenth inning of tonight’s game in San Francisco. Given the complete lack of offense, it was a necessity.

Lee looked the best he has ever looked as a Phillie, as his curve ball was sharp as a knife and his change-up was on par with that of teammate Cole Hamels. The Giants couldn’t touch him — it took until the seventh inning to see more than 12 pitches in a single inning. Matt Cain matched him pitch-for-pitch through nine regulation innings, inducing his usual weak contact. Cain left the game for a pinch-hitter having allowed only two hits and one walk.

Because of his low pitch count — 89 pitches through nine innings — Lee came back out for the tenth inning. Buster Posey led off with a single, but was quickly erased in a ground ball double play off the bat of Brett Pill. Lee wrapped up the inning with a ground ball to second baseman Freddy Galvis, who raced to first base for the unassisted putout in spectacular fashion.

It was at this point that Charlie Manuel got his greasy manager hands on the game and caused it to slip out of the Phillies’ grasp. Carlos Ruiz led off the top of the eleventh inning with a double. Galvis, hitting left-handed, laid down a successful sacrifice bunt rather than swinging at the ball and trying to hit a ground ball to the right side. Jim Thome pinch-hit for Lee, forcing Giants manager Bruce Bochy to bring in left-handed reliever Javier Lopez. In that situation, with a runner on third base and one out, the attribute you want most in a hitter is a high contact rate. Last year, Placido Polanco swung and missed at fewer than ten percent of pitches while Thome swung and missed at 30 percent, per ESPN Stats & Information. As bad as Polanco has looked to start the year, you still have to go with the guy with a good chance of putting the ball in play.

Thome struck out, as was the most likely scenario. With two outs and a runner on third base, Manuel chose to pinch-hit John Mayberry for Juan Pierre, replacing a high-contact ground ball hitter with a low-contact fly ball hitter. Manuel wanted the right-on-left advantage (despite no platoon split for Pierre), but Bochy brought on right-hander Clay Hensley and induced a weak ground out to shortstop to end the inning.

The bad managing continued when baseball orthodoxy dictated Manuel use his non-closers, as opposed to $50 million man Jonathan Papelbon. Lefty Antonio Bastardo was selected to start the 11th inning against the left-handed Brandon Crawford. Bastardo struck him out relatively easily, bringing up left-hander Brandon Belt. Belt singled to center, which should have signaled the end of Bastardo’s night and the start of Papelbon’s, with switch-hitters Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera due up. Papelbon stayed in the bullpen. Pagan hit a ground ball to third baseman Ty Wigginton, who muffed the grab, allowing Belt to advance to second and Pagan to first safely. (Don’t forget, Gold Glover Polanco could have been in the game at third base if he had been used to pinch-hit, or at the very least put in the game as a defensive replacement.) The game ended when Cabrera pushed a single to shallow right-center for the walk-off 1-0 Giants victory.

Due to an impotent offense and terrible decision-making by their manager, the Phillies squandered ten brilliant scoreless innings from Cliff Lee. Since 2000, only 12 pitchers have thrown at least nine scoreless innings with a game score of at least 85 and taken a no-decision. Lee joins the list at #13. The Phillies drop to 5-7 and own sole possession of last place in the NL East.

Game graph courtesy FanGraphs.

What We Know: 10 Games In

There are no midseason awards at the 1/16th pole. No 10-game all-star lists or MVP and Cy Young Award frontrunners. No postseason locks or clear title favorites. In truth, 10 games can’t tell you most of what you want to know about any team, but just like every painting needs its first brush strokes, so too do the beginnings of a season’s art work take shape after the first decuple. Now, whether that final work is a flawless Mona Lisa – or a disheveled, chaotic Guernica – remains to be seen for all parties, but some trends, patterns and tendencies for the Phillies certainly seem to be emerging. Here’s a bit of what we know after 10 games.

Hamels has a good case for being the star of the show after two starts, with all due apologies afforded to Roy Halladay for simply being himself in the meantime. Cole’s 19 strikeouts are tied for the league lead (as of this writing) with the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez and the Padres’ Aaron Harang; plus, he’s got nine fewer innings pitched than King Felix. Pair that with the lone walk he’s allowed, and Hamels has the best strikeout-to-walk ratio of any pitcher with a calculable figure. To say he’s off to a hot start might be putting it lightly.


The key ingredient, as it’s always been, is that one-of-a-kind changeup. He’s generated 21 swings-and-misses on changeups alone so far, another league-leading total through games on Sunday. We’ll see more of this through the year – although I doubt he’ll nearly double the K/BB ratio record, but who am I to doubt? – and some may claim Hamels’s contract status as a motivator. Me? I’m just seeing more of the same.
  • The offense is the offense
I long for the days of yore, when dingers filled the air and the team posted a collective walk rate that wasn’t analogous to Jeff Francoeur. But this is how it is now. The Phillies are drawing walks at a five-year low rate, as Bill points out in the preceding post. Their aggression has awarded them a high team average, but a collective OBP and SLG (better ingredients for run scoring, as we know) that leaves the offense in the bottom tier. We all sort of figured it was going to be like this, but the figures still don’t fail to stun: a .258/.296/.343 team line, fewer homers than Matt Kemp and negligible production from four spots in the lineup.


In better news, Hunter Pence, Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino are off to nice starts, while Carlos Ruiz continues to stay inexplicably mired in the lower third of the order with an occasional appearance at six. Look, I get it, he’s not a great runner, but this team needs runs and needs ducks on the pond ahead of the guys who are actually producing. Batting Victorino lead-off is wasteful of his production, and batting Polanco second continues to be a waste of Pence and Jimmy Rollins’s production. Unless something changes big-time with Polanco (there’s little to believe something will), the lineup needs a legitimate shake-up, not just a flip-flopping of Jimmy Rollins between one and three.
Perhaps it’s too early to say that the John Mayberry Jr. honeymoon is over, as no 10-game sample is conclusive. In truth, my feeling that Brown will be back in the Bigs before June is old (or perhaps even born) is based less on Mayberry and more on a prediction of general necessity. I’m not about to suggest Brown will be named the LF starter immediately upon his recall, because I’m not about to dole out that much credit. He’s likely to either be a bench bat or a platoon player, barring injury. That’s just how it’s going to be when he’s up; we’ve got the precedent for that. But while Brown’s defense continues to draw (deserved) ire, the bat he possesses will simply look too appetizing to pass up when this team’s offensive struggles persist. And they will persist.


What’s more, John Mayberry Jr. isn’t off to a great start, and we all know how damning it can be to be slow out of the gate as an “unproven” player on this club. What’s interesting about Mayberry is that his approach has deteriorated a bit from 2011. Last year, Mayberry chased 28.1 percent of pitches he saw out of the strike zone (give or take a couple percentage points for Pitch f/x variation), but through the first 10 games and 111 pitches seen, Mayberry’s chased 44.4 percent of those OOZ pitches. Pitchers seem to be playing off his tendency to look for pitches over the outer half, but keeping it far enough away to not be a competitive pitch.

Phillies Lose Another Head-Scratcher

The Phillies’ offense made its first appearance of the season, but it was still not enough as the Pirates walked off with a victory for the second game in a row, defeating the Phillies 5-4. Andrew McCutchen was the hero, smashing a double to deep center field, driving in pinch-runner Josh Harrison.

Hunter Pence and Juan Pierre accounted for the Phillies’ offense, driving in two runs apiece. Pence hit the Phillies’ first home run of the year, and had a double to go along with it. Apart from those two, the rest of the lineup had one hit in 23 at-bats and left 11 runners on base.

Charlie Manuel‘s in-game strategy reared its ugly head again, calling for several more bunts and opting to pinch hit Laynce Nix for an otherwise effective Vance Worley in the top of the seventh inning. To that point, the only damage against Worley was a Pedro Alvarez solo home run; Vanimal had struck out five and walked one in his six innings. Nix grounded out, but Pierre salvaged the inning with a two-run single to right field. Michael Stutes replaced Worley and promptly gave the two runs back to the Pirates.

Kyle Kendrick, rather than David Herndon or Antonio Bastardo, came on to pitch the eighth inning. He quickly surrendered a lead-off single to Andrew McCutchen before retiring Neil Walker and exiting the game. Bastardo came in to face the left-handed Nate McLouth, but McLouth was replaced by right-hander Yamaico Navarro, who promptly drew a walk. It looked like Bastardo would end the threat, striking out Clint Barmes, but Matt Hagues hit a game-tying, two-out single to left. Bastardo struck out Michael McKenry to end the inning.

The Phillies went down in order in the top of the ninth, so Manuel sent Herndon to the mound in the bottom of the ninth with the score 4-4. While that is somewhat defensible, Jonathan Papelbon still should have been warming up throughout the inning. He never did. Herndon allowed a lead-off double to Casey McGehee, who promptly moved to third base on a sacrifice bunt by Alex Presley. Herndon managed to strike Jose Tabata out, bringing up McCutchen.

There was no reason to pitch to McCutchen. He is easily the Pirates’ best hitter and Walker was behind him in the #4 spot. Despite his batting order position, Walker is a significantly weaker hitter, finishing 38 points behind McCutchen in wOBA last year. Manuel chose not to put up his four fingers for the intentional walk, and Herndon went to work going after McCutchen. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, McCutchen smoked a sinker to deep center field to win the game 5-4.

The Phillies’ struggles in Pittsburgh continue, now having won only four of 13 games dating back to 2009, and eight of 14 since 2006. They will put their early-season adversity behind them and look forward to tomorrow afternoon’s home opener against the Florida Marlins, a meeting of two 1-2 teams. Cole Hamels will oppose Anibal Sanchez.

(Game graph courtesy FanGraphs.)

Phillies Drop Game Two to the Pirates in Ten

The Phillies’ offense continued to sputter in their second game of the 2012 season, mustering one run for the second game in a row. The Pirates eked out a 2-1 victory in ten innings thanks to a walk-off infield single by Alex Presley. The ten innings were filled with one part offensive ineptitude and one part managerial ineptitude.

Cliff Lee didn’t have his best stuff, but held the Pirates to one run in six innings. The Phillies staked him to an early 1-0 lead when Hunter Pence drove in Shane Victorino with an infield single up the middle. Lee struggled with his fastball command, missing high and outside often. The Pirates were able to push across their first run in the bottom of the sixth when Lee threw a curve ball in the dirt that Carlos Ruiz — well-regarded for his ability to block pitches in the dirt — couldn’t corral. Ruiz chased after it and made a wild throw to Lee. Had the throw been on the mark, Lee could have tagged runner Yamaico Navarro out. Instead, the throw ran up the third base line, hitting Navarro and caroming back towards Lee.

There were several questionable decisions made throughout the game. The first was Jimmy Rollins laying down a bunt with runners on first and second with nobody out in the first inning. Using 2011 data from Baseball Prospectus, the expected runs from that specific situation is 1.43 runs; with runners on second and third with one out, 1.29 runs score. Small difference in the scope of one game, but it is made even more indefensible by the fact that it was the #3 hitter bunting, and in the first inning of a scoreless game.

The next head-scratcher came in the top of the eighth. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle sent right-hander Jason Grilli to the mound, replacing left-hander Tony Watson — their only left-handed reliever from an 11-man pitching staff. It would have been the perfect spot to use Jim Thome as a pinch-hitter, but instead, Juan Pierre took his spot in the batter’s box. Pierre worked the count, but eventually struck out chasing several 3-2 pitches out of the strike zone.

Hunter Pence led off the top of the ninth with a walk, putting the Phillies in a threatening position. However, Manuel ordered Laynce Nix — he of four career sacrifice bunts in 1,800 career plate appearances — to lay down a bunt to move Pence to second base. Nix followed instructions, but bunted terribly and popped the pitch up to catcher Rod Barajas. Thome then pinch-hit for John Mayberry, Jr., a terribly-inefficient move since, they would be losing Mayberry’s above-average defense in left field as Nix would replace him, with Ty Wigginton coming in at first base. Pence stole second base during Thome’s at-bat, which makes one wonder, “If Manuel is fine with Pence stealing second base with a lefty at the dish, why not do it during Nix’s at-bat?” Thome struck out looking for the second out. Freddy Galvis soon followed suit, finishing the night 0-for-4.

Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo combined to finish out a scoreless ninth, which signaled for even more insanity from the Phillies’ dugout. Joe Blanton jogged to the bullpen to start warming up for the tenth inning. As Blanton is the fifth starter and the Phillies have an off-day after their home opener against the Florida Marlins, they could afford to do that. However, the Phillies just as easily could have brought Antonio Bastardo back after just one-third of an inning (six pitches), gone with David Herndon or, god forbid, Jonathan Papelbon.

Blanton got into trouble quickly, surrendering a lead-off double in the tenth to Rod Barajas, a fly ball that missed clearing the fence in left-center by inches. Clint Barmes bunted pinch-runner Michael McKenry over to third. Blanton inadvertently set up an inning-ending double play situation by hitting Josh Harrison with a pitch (turns out Harrison wasn’t actually hit by the ball, but nevertheless…). Jose Tabata did the next-best thing, popping up to Galvis at second base.

This would have been a great spot to bring in Papelbon — anytime after the Barajas double would have, actually:

  • Rod Barajas (double): 2.20 leverage index (LI)
  • Clint Barmes (sacrifice bunt): 2.67 LI
  • Josh Harrison (hit by pitch): 4.90 LI
  • Jose Tabata (pop-up to second): 5.49 LI
  • Alex Presley (RBI infield single): 4.87 LI

Note: 1.00 leverage index is average. 10% of all real game situations have a LI greater than 2, while 60% have a LI less than 1.

Alex Presley, however, ended the game, beating out a 2-2 grounder placed perfectly between third base and shortstop. Rollins backhanded the ball and made a strong throw to first, but Presley was safe by a half-step.

Overall, the Phillies mustered seven hits — none of the extra-base variety — and three walks in ten innings, amounting to all of one run, their second consecutive game with one run. Two games don’t a season make, but the early prognostications of offensive woes appear to be on the money so far.

The Phillies will close out the series in Pittsburgh tomorrow afternoon at 1:35 PM as Vance Worley opposes James McDonald. With the right-handed starter on the hill for the Pirates, it will be interesting to see if Manuel chooses to start Thome for the first time, and if Pierre will get the start over Mayberry in left field. We will certainly see Worley’s personal catcher Brian Schneider tomorrow, giving Ruiz the day off after a night game.

(Game graph courtesy FanGraphs)

(Updated with context from David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News)

Phillies Successful Again on Opening Day

When you send Roy Halladay to the hill on Opening Day, your chances are already pretty good. The Phillies are now 3-0 in Halladay’s three Opening Day starts in red pinstripes, his 2012 outing arguably his best showing yet. After allowing two consecutive hits to start the first inning, Halladay went into cruise control, holding the next 25 Pirates he faced hitless and keeping 24 of them off of the bases. He finished the day with eight scoreless innings, five strikeouts, and zero walks. Jonathan Papelbon made his Phillies debut in the ninth, earning the save with a cool ten pitches.

There wasn’t much offense to speak about, whether in Pittsburgh or anywhere else across baseball. The New York Mets were the first team to score a run among any this afternoon — in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves. The Phillies eventually broke through in the top of the seventh when Carlos Ruiz hit a line drive to right fielder Jose Tabata, allowing Ty Wigginton to tag up and score from third base. Ruiz finished the day 3-for-3, continuing his torrid pace that began in spring training (.479 average).

John Mayberry made two athletic catches in left field, although his routes were certainly not optimal. His height and natural talent allowed him to make up for a couple bad reads that would have otherwise led to Pirates runs. Mayberry also went 2-for-4 at the dish, including a double that eventually led to the only run of the game.

Freddy Galvis hit into two double plays in his first two Major League plate appearances, killing a threat in the second inning and another one in the fifth. He finished the day 0-for-4, but did look quite capable with the glove at second base.

The Phillies, previously known for their slow April starts, have won three consecutive Opening Day games after losing four consecutively from 2006-09.

Hero of the Game: Roy Halladay, +.572 WPA on the mound

Goat of the Game: Freddy Galvis, -.209 WPA at the plate

(Game graph courtesy FanGraphs.)