A look at Games 1 and 2 of the Padres series and other issues in Phillies land.
Saturday: Phillies 2, Padres 0 – All the Phils needed was a Chase Utley homer in the fourth to beat the struggling Padres yesterday at Citizen’s Bank Park, 2-0.
Utley’s 14th homer of the season was his second game-winner in as many games. Since the All-Star break, Utley has carried the offense on his back and continues to deliver big hits.
Aside from Utley, the story yesterday was a Padres offense that rolled over and died. Entering the series, their bats were ice cold, having been swept by the Mets at Shea the previous series. Yesterday, they couldn’t capitalize on five Robinson Tejeda walks (2-2). Otherwise, the surprising rookie pitched six strong innings, and also tripled for his first major league hit. Ryan Madson, Rheal Cormier and Billy Wagner chipped in to preserve the shutout in relief.
It must have been a surreal game for the Pads, who had a busy day off the field. They acquired third baseman Joe Randa from Cincinnati for two minor league pitchers. They also optioned third baseman Sean Burroughs to Triple-A Portland.
The team has also reached an agreement with the Orioles on a deal that would send long-time first baseman Phil Nevin to Baltimore for pitcher Sidney Ponson, but Nevin would need to lift his no-trade clause for the deal to go through.
For whatever reason, the Pads didn’t show up yesterday.
I listened to much of the game on WEEU in Reading. Scott Graham of the Phillies Radio Network was pared with Tom McCarthy, Harry Kalas and Chris Wheeler were together for at least part of it, and Larry Andersen was on the Fox television broadcast with Kenny Albert.
I’m not sure whether Graham flew solo on radio. I find him to be quite seamless when he works alone. Between pitches, he reminds listeners of the score frequently, paints a picture of where defenders are positioned, and describes the weather and crowd often. A listener that just tunes in can be caught up quickly on the action.
I watched the second half on television. It doesn't matter what company he keeps, the former pitcher can’t escape jabs at his poor hitting.
Friday: Phillies 8, Padres 6 – Utley was wearing a tough 0-5 collar before one big swing turned the night into one of the best games of his career.
The team’s most valuable player hit a two-out, two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Phils over the Padres 8-6.
The ball was flying all over the place in this one, a soupy, uncomfortable night down at the Bank. Ryan Howard added his sixth of the season, and Brian Giles, Mark Loretta and Geoff Blum each homered for the Pads.
Vicente Padilla was brilliant through the first four, but became unglued in the fifth. It was still his third solid start in a row, going six innings, with six strikeouts and three earned runs.
Rheal Cormier and Ryan Madson were roughed up in relief, combining for three earned runs in the seventh.
Aaron Fultz pitched two scoreless innings for the win. Ex-Phillie Paul Quantrill took the loss.
Bell and the bases loaded
The Phils had a chance to end the game with the bases loaded, no outs in the 10th, but David Bell went after the first pitch and grounded into a double play to squelch that fire. It was completely unacceptable. After that, Mike Lieberthal predictably ended the threat on a grounder.
L’il Endy Chavez delievered a big two-run single in the sixth inning. Chavez is a small player playing a small part on this team and I’ve never had an issue with the trade that brought him here. Interestingly, Chavez was almost pegged by two pitches that would have probably hit Marlon Byrd in his ever-expanding rear end.
Bloggers in the house
The game was attended by the Beerleaguer, Tom Goodman of Swing and a Miss, Tom Goyne of Balls, Sticks & Stuff and Tom Durso of Shallow Center in the unofficial first meeting of the Phlogger roundtable. Brian Peoples of Philling Station was said to be in attendance. We were also joined briefly by columnist Jim Salisbury of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Be sure to check out those and other great Phillies blogs in the sidebar on the right. Check out Salisbury’s trade rumor article here.
George S on Matt Kata
Much of our blog discussion centered on my favorite reader, George S., who posts thoughtful Phillies comments from his home in southeast Asia. In an e-mail to Goodman of Swing and a Miss, George S. had this to say about the Matt Kata deal:
"One thing about the Kata pickup: it frees the Phillies to move Chavez to NY if they can get anything for him (a used fungo and a bucket of balls would do). Kata can apparently play CF."
That's certainly a possibility. Another viable replacement for Chavez would be Rule 5 pick Shane Victorino, a defensive specialist who's having a nice season in Scranton, especially with the bat. Victorino lost a battle to Byrd for the final outfield spot this spring. Victorino blasted the go-ahead two-run homer for the Barons last night. For the season, he has 15 homers and is batting .278.
I got a number of e-mails thanking me for my useful post on Scranton catcher Carlos Ruiz and decided to follow-up with an e-mail to Chad Jennings of the Scranton Times-Tribune on pitcher Eude Brito. Brito has been mentioned as a possible call-up. Here's what Jennings said:
My first thought on Brito is that I can't overstate how good he's been since he joined the rotation. He was horrible at the beginning of the year out of the bullpen, but he's been lights out ever since the switch. One or two shaky starts, but otherwise very consistent and very good. Probably the best in the rotation lately.
From what I hear, the Phillies think he will eventually go back to the bullpen because he's a lefty with a 92 to 93 mph fastball. He just profiles better as a reliever. But his time in the rotation has certainly brought his confidence up. He's been using a two-seam fastball a lot, mixing it with a live changeup and a slider. Like I said, he's been terrific.
In my opinion, Brito, Condrey and Liriano are all guys to watch as possible call ups. Condrey is up right now, but probably won't be for long. My guess is that whenever the Phillies need another arm, they'll go with whichever of those three is ready to pitch.
I question why the Phillies would pin Brito down as a reliever when he’s done so well as a starter. It reminds me of Carlos Silva, how they said he’d pitch better as a reliever, when in fact his low walk totals and control were perfect to keep him as a starter. Just ask the Twins.
Is Madson getting restless?
Ryan Madson hasn’t been as crisp this season and I wonder if it’s partially due to restlessness as a reliever. He’s been teased with joining the rotation if Padilla faltered, but Vinny Pads turned it around lately and his job appears secure. Madson was an excellent starter in the minors, and given the choice, I’m sure he’d love to be starting games again.