Ryne Sandberg Says Ryan Howard’s Knee Injury Still Limiting Defense

In the top of the eighth inning on Wednesday, first baseman Ryan Howard misplayed a Logan Schafer ground ball that allowed a run to score to break a 4-4 tie. Schafer would come around to score on Ryan Braun‘s triple later in the inning as well, meaning the error was a costly one. After the game, manager Ryne Sandberg said that Howard’s knee injury — he tore his meniscus in early July last season — is still bothering him. Via CSN Philly’s Reuben Frank:

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Roberto Hernandez’s Bat-Missing Game Was on Point

Roberto Hernandez allowed four runs (three earned) over five innings in last night’s start against the Brewers. Not a great start, not a bad start. Considering last night’s bullpen implosion in the eighth and ninth innings, Hernandez’s performance was about the ninth- or tenth-most interesting thing about the game. But broadcaster Tom McCarthy pointed out something after Hernandez had exited the game that made me go back and listen to make sure I heard it right:

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Patience Required with Phillies’ Young Bullpen

The Phillies’ bullpen was yet again a major factor in a loss. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Through eight games, it’s a sentence that is already getting tiresome to write out, particularly since the Phillies are coming off of a season in which they finished with the second-worst bullpen in the National League with a 4.19 ERA. Following last night’s five-run firebombing that put the game under lock and key for the Brewers, the bullpen ERA stands at 4.94.

A quick recap of the performances:

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Ryan Braun Continues to Kill the Phillies

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun entered yesterday’s game with absurd career numbers against the Phillies. His 1.120 OPS against them in in 186 plate appearances was his highest against any team against which he has accrued at least 30 PA. The whole line: .386/.430/.690, 66 H, 8 2B, 1 3B, 14 HR, 30 RBI, 6 SB, 14 BB, 30 K.

Against yesterday’s starter, Kyle Kendrick, Braun entered with a career .944 OPS in 18 trips to the plate. I wonder what happened.

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Cole Hamels Could Return Sooner Than Anticipated

Good news, everyone! CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury reports that Cole Hamels “feels great” and could need only two more rehab starts before returning to the team. The Inquirer’s Matt Gelb says Hamels is shooting for April 22 against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Hamels has been rehabbing after missing spring training with tendonitis in his left shoulder.

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Phillies Could Call on Jonathan Pettibone to Start Saturday

Throughout the spring, we were subjected to the competition between David Buchanan and Jeff Manship for the fifth spot in the Phillies’ rotation – organizational depth against, well, a guy with a career 6.29 ERA. To their credit, both pitched well in a small sample size. Buchanan finished with a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings, while Manship posted a 1.80 ERA in 20 innings.

The Phillies initially expected to need a fifth starter on Sunday, April 13. Based on the way the off-days were situated, the Phillies could have skated through the first two weeks with a four-man rotation. However, because Monday’s home opener was postponed and rescheduled to Tuesday, the Phillies will need a fifth starter six days earlier than expected.

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Derek Jeter Pulled A Jimmy Rollins on Monday

The year-long Derek Jeter farewell tour is under way. Yankees fans got to see him at home for the first time during the 2014 regular season yesterday against the Orioles. Jeter almost gave them a storybook day, lining a Ubaldo Jimenez offering down the left field line. Everyone — the fans, the YES Network broadcasters, and even Jeter himself — thought he had a home run, but the ball caromed off of the top of the wall and Jeter dove head-first into second base for a double.

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