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Monday, April 23, 2007

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Good test tonight to find out whether they can shake whatever hangup they have against this team and win their first night game at home. It's another warm-weather night, so hopefully the players are loose and ready to to start hitting some balls into the seats.

When I was a kid growing up in Blackwood, 42 was my favorite number because I lived very close to the North-South Freeway (N.J. Route 42). So 20 years ago, an event like this would have freaked me out.

Let's hope the forty-twos inspire the Phillies to channel the play of Jackie Robinson and not Don Carman.

Hey, RSB -- let's hear it for South Jersey!! I grew up five minutes from 42 in Deptford (yes, home to a mall).

Anyway, I think a win tonight -- at home, against a team they've struggled with -- would help their confidence tremendously.

On MLB.com, the active rosters for the Phillies and Astros have been updated so that ever player is number 42. Nice touch.

Even though Utley and Howard swung the bat well yesterday, I just have a bad feeling that Sampson will shut down the Phils tonight.

Think Phils will need Eaton to give something a real solid outing (6+ innings and only 2-3 runs) for the Phils to have a shot to win.

Phils are going back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back tonight: Jimmy, Vic, Utz, Howard, and then Burrell with the cherry on top...screw the BoSox, we're making history!

YAY South NJ - Vineland born and raised

and lets noty forget helms finally getting a hr tongiht also

Lineups

Standard lineup this evening with Barajas catching.

Phils

1. J Rollins, SS
2. S Victorino, RF
3. C Utley, 2B
4. R Howard, 1B
5. P Burrell, LF
6. W Helms, 3B
7. A Rowand, CF
8. R Barajas, C
9. A Eaton, P

Astros
1. C Biggio, 2B
2. M Loretta, SS
3. L Berkman, 1B
4. C Lee, LF
5. L Scott, RF
6. M Lamb, 3B
7. C Burke, CF
8. B Ausmus, C
9. C Sampson, P

Billy Mac, Thanks very much for starting this tradition of posting the lineups. It's pretty handy. I remember it was something to look forward to on PhilliesPhans when I went there.

The Astros don't look very good this season.

First pitch, gone. Welcome home.

Let's see if anyone knows this: when was the last time the Phillies wore regular season uniforms without names on the back?

Here's my shallow observation of Eaton. A former first round pick who just signed a 24 million deal shouldn't look and act like Eaton. He looks tight. Get a shave, loose about 5-10 pounds and get yourself ready to earn your paycheck.

Rollins matches Biggio - game tied.

I know there only on a two game winning streak, but don't you get the feel that Phils are back, atleast on offense?

You had the feeling Rollins was going to do something special with that 42 on his back.

Eaton is always more hittable at the outset, so no surprise there. Hopefully he can keep the ball in the yard from here on in, but I wouldn't exactly bet the title to my car on it.

Very shallow observation indeed. What does the man's facial hair have to do with anything?

Good to see some early offense from the Phils... from the top through the middle of the order too. I hope they keep it up.

Moxie from the Phillies! Aggressive swing from Burrell with man on 3rd! Can you believe it?

What's wrong with a beard? And I bet we all could lose 5 to 10 lbs. But he does need to earn the paycheck.

He can only be as good a player as he truly is, he can't "earn" a 24 million dollar paycheck if he wasn't good enough to deserve it. He's an odd pitcher though, he gets a lot of swings and misses, even a lot of strikeouts at times, but gives up a ton of hits.

hey, Eaton looks pretty athletic for a guy who could lose 5-10 pounds...

well, on the other hand, maybe all that running around wore him out.

Vic's got a great arm though. if we played at RFK, or the Chavez Ravine, or Petco, he'd be a huge asset.

Not good. At least Vic helped out via the outfield assist.

man, first time I'm around for a game thread in days, and I'm the only one here?

Jimmy Rollins! Man, he is on fire! Hopefully Eaton is not winded!

Let's see Rollins go for the cycle tonight.

We're seeing some early resiliency out of the offense today... hopefully it lasts, if it becomes necessary, in the later innings.

This team is alive, finally. Rollins getting the cycle with #42 on his uniform would be one sweet story.

Be sure to shove that wad in your mouth before going to pitch, Eaton.

Just sayin'.

Pitchers pitch. Adam Eaton throws.

Eaton. You're in my crosshairs, softy.

Eaton needs to get the damn ball down. That would be a start.

Eaton's incredibly disappointing as a pitcher. but it is nice to have a 9-hitter who's comfortable with the bat (other than Wolf).

I'm so glad we signed a fly ball pitcher for this ball park... I can hardly wait for July and August... Nice one, Pat...

Hopefully the Phils can outslug the Stros tonight!

Is anyone else really uncomfortable with this Bill Cash interview? It just seems like he's the kind of person you'd rather listen to sitting around after a dinner, not during a baseball game. It seems to be lulling our team to sleep.

Chris, you're right. It becomes awkward when they try having these interviews in the booth while the game is going on. "Excuse me, Bill - that ball's outta here."

I'm sorry guys, but I just started watching this game, so the Phils will probably start losing. But, I can't stay away from watchin the Phightins

woohooo slugfest!

I mean it's one thing to have these types of interviews when you have announcers that actually carry some charisma. If you've ever watched NESN (I go to school in Boston), Jerry Remy actually has enough of a personality and knowledge about old baseball players for the interview to make sense.

"Do you still follow baseball" is not a riveting question.

Does Patty Cakes wear those contact lenses hes supposed to wear?

Rowand has been pretty damn good this year, I still don't think we should of traded him for the bullpen help.

Good news - I was totally wrong about Sampson's performance tonight.

Bad news - Eaton with another dog performance. I am confident that Eaton will post better numbers as a 5th starter this year than Floyd/Mathieson did last year. That said, an ERA under 6.00 would technically be an improvement.

Hate to say it, that was a great play and relay by Burke out there in center. Loretta already had the ball ready for a throw home by the time Wes "Blazing Speed" Helms got to third.

I think Rowand needs to switch with Helms, at least until the David Bell Syndrome wears offf.

Less worried about Eaton this year as a 5th starter vs. next year when he will likely become the 3rd-4th starter (figuring that Garcia and Lieber aren't back for sure and 50/50 on Moyer).

No team with Eaton as a 2nd or 3rd starter is a serious player contender.

Rowand needs to be hitting second, pronto. Anyway.

Barajas must be a supremely unconfident hitter right now to not have gone after a single pitch in that AB, let alone a very close one on the 3-2 count. I'd have taken my chances with his patented Padilla-lunge than with Eaton.

Looks like no one's going to guess at my trivia question. 1974 was the last year in which the Phillies did not wear names on the backs of their uniforms. Too bad, the prize for a correct answer was a Luis Aguayo rookie card.

"Victorino is just a good outfielder. He turns, runs to the spot the ball is going to be, and catches it." Thanks Gary, what else would he have done if he were a bad outfielder? Crawled into the stands?

not to get bogged down in a lineup order question, but I think you need to keep Rowand in the second half of the lineup, at least until Helms starts hitting for *some* power. otherwise, hello Black Hole Mk II (or is it III?).

Did Sarge just have trouble remembering what the components of the "cycle" are? (shakes head)

@ae

Except, if you're working with that logic, it actually might help then more if he's dropped to batting 8th since he technically could act as a bottom of the order leadoff hitter to get someone on base for when Jimmy Rollins rolls around.

my point is that Rowand is hitting for power now, so it's better to have him behind Burrell and Howard, who are getting on base a ton. (instead of Helms, who's not hitting at all, or Victorino, who's as straight single hitter.)

Honestly I like the idea of J-Roll getting dropped down to 5th and putting Rowand in the leadoff slot. I know it's still early, but Rowand's OBP is .446 while Rollins' is .372. I'm sure those are going to gradually even out or switch as the season progresses but as of right now, Rowand is getting on base more.

Burrell = SO UNCLUTCH, NEEDS GLASSES

Too bad Ruiz isn't getting his hacks tonight...

I wonder how many of these up-the-middle hits would have been outs with Everett at short.

GREAT inning.

RSB's got to be loving this smart base-running tonight. this is the kind of small ball I can get behind.

Burrell with wheels! Thank god Wes "Blazing Speed" Helms made sure they would attempt to run him down with his superior baserunning ability.

This is of course terrible sarcasm.

ae, good point, they're really finding the holes. This looks like night and day compared to the last time they were home.

Regarding Rowand, I also see your point about the power, but Helms is eventually going to hit for power and I just don't like all those slow RH hitters bunched at the tail end of the lineup. Not that it's hurting tonight.

Phillies hitting well with runners in scoring position w/ 2 out.

Now, is this because d they are more focused, dedicated, etc?

Or, is it because the Astros are playing Loretta at short? I think Everett gets to either Burrell or Helms ball.

Just a quick example of how luck (or stategy, or the skills of the oponents) plays a big role in what we like to call "clutch situations.*

Whatever the reason, it sure is a lot of fun!

13 hits/7 runs in 4 innings...wow.

Didn't see your post ae, but not surprising we agree.

kdon, it's an interesting question whether these hits are just accidents, or if guys like Helms are actually trying to drive it up the middle. almost impossible to say for sure...in any case, it's working so far.

Eaton's looked a lot smoother these last two frames. be nice if he could make it through 7, despite those early troubles.

I did read that Howard is no longer attempting to pull the ball and is just trying for contact. If that's a philosophy that Cholly is pushing for all of the struggling folks, it's very possible that these middle hits aren't flukes.

Chris, Aaron Rowand has a career .338 OBP. Sample size, sample size, sample size.

J-Roll is actually only at .330 career, but his speed more than makes up for that difference. J-Roll himself said it would be "weird" to hit low in the order. He is fantastic right now in the leadoff spot. I don't want to mess with that.

5 starters hitting over .300, & none is named Utley or Howard

@kdon:

That's why I said it would most likely even out, since as you're pointing out, their career OBPs are virtually the same. However, since we were talking about power as well, it just seems like sometimes J-Roll wants to be Willie Mays Hayes from Major League and be the speedy guy who hits bombs.

I also think he was faster with the dreadlocks.

Well, Burrell's hit clearly was an "accident." He got jammned and hit a spinner. Helms hit the ball well, but that ball is an easy grounder as often as an RBI single.

The ball Helms hit was on the outside half; a ball a good hitter would drive the other way. Helms tried to pull it instead and managed to get good wood on it. I seriously doubt he was "trying" to hit it up the middle.

kdon, either way, Helms and Rowand hit the ball on the nose. That's all you can ask in a situation with RISP. It's bad luck if the fielder gets to it. It's nothing to do with luck if they go after a bad pitch and pop it up. I'll keep beleaguering this point until you acknowledge it.

Wow, Barajas rides one of his patented 0-2 counts for a single!

"I also think he was faster with the dreadlocks."

See, that's where you're just wrong. Clearly the bald pate allows for less wind resistance. I'm sure there are sabermatricians working on the question right now.

I agree RSB, but the Phils hit balls early this year that were "on the nose" and got caught. The response: they were pressing, choking, etc.

I'll beleaguer this point. Getting hits = a team looks focused. Not the other way around.

"That's all you can ask (hitting the ball hard) in a situation with RISP. "

Yes, exactly. The problem is that we don't keep stats of "balls hit hard." We keep stats of "hits" w/ RISP. Every person on this board can tell you Burrel hit .232 w/ RISP in 2006, but how many can tell you how often he hit the ball hard.

kdon, that isn't my recollection. They were leaving runner on and looking bad doing it. I don't think it was a matter of hitt8ing screaming liners to infielders or getting robbed by great catches. They just were mostly having poor at-bats. And this mini-resurgence isn't just about 'getting hits'. It's about playing the game alertly and correctly, not making mistakes and beating yourself.

Kdon, there was an article in Sports Illustrated a couple years ago about a sports writer who was so into fantasy baseball he hired a NASA engineer friend to help him crunch sabermetrics. He then lobbied in the 04 season for the Pirates to trade for Dough Mientkiewicz because it was discovered he was 40% better than the average first baseman playing outdoors on the type of dirt at PNC park. If you can crunch numbers like this, I will never doubt you again.

kdon, that isn't my recollection. They were leaving runner on and looking bad doing it. I don't think it was a matter of hitting screaming liners to infielders or getting robbed by great catches. They just were mostly having poor at-bats. And how many times does anyone recall Burrell hitting balls hard with RISP in '06? I remember a ton of called thirds and foul outs. I agree - they don't keep stats of 'balls hit hard'. That's why you watch the game and make observations based on what you see - not always based on what the stat sheet says.

Also, this mini-resurgence isn't just about 'getting hits'. It's about playing the game alertly and correctly, not making mistakes and beating yourself.

tip for you fantasy leaguers - philip hughes is going to start thursday for the hated yankees. if you're interested pick him up now.

(oops.)

Say this about Eaton, is you take out his first game, he has pitched very well so far.

Perfect timing Chase! If that play happens three days ago, it's another instance of playing "unfocused." However, because the 'Stros have a stiff on the mound and Loretta has the range of my Aunt Barbara, we won't care.

Chris, if I ever recommend picking up Doug Alphabet, you should *always* doubt me.

with this and Eaton's last outing, you wonder if the Phillies PTB weren't on to something with the whole "Eaton needs a few innings to get established" theory. I'm not a radar watcher, so I don't know how his fastball's doing, but in both of the last two games, he gives up 4 runs in the first 3 innings, then settles down.

Phillies Announcing Crew:

"Biggio is 54 Hits Away from 3,000"
"Boy That's a lot of hits."

I feel like I'm getting dumber.

MG -- When you say you're "(l)ess worried about Eaton this year as a 5th starter vs. next year when he will likely become the 3rd-4th starter" -- of course you're talking about a $7,208,333 "5th starter" -- this year alone -- leaving aside Eaton's multi-year contract.

When is Gillick going to be properly nailed for this disasterous signing?

Okay, kdon. The meeting they had made absolutely no difference, we can all safely ignore what Rowand and Howard said in the paper this morning. What do they know, they're just on the team. Any fool can see this team is playing the exact same baseball it did in the last home game against the Mets. The only difference is that then, the Phillies were robbed on all 27 outs by a series of unforgettable Web Gems.

i don't like taking burrell out this early.

wow davthom - it's april of the first year of a three year deal.

think you're a litle premature with "disasterous"?

another rousing success for the pull Burrell strategy.

The meeting made no difference. Or maybe it did. We don't know. All I know is before any meeting, I said they had been very unlucky and would start winning/getting "clutch" hits. Things (almost) always average out, unless you're the 2006 Cleveland Indians. Now about Pat I agree, I wish this scheduled pinch-running would stop.

Well his name is Pat the Bat, not Pat the Amazingly Fast Baseball Player.

Sorry for the negativity, but ...

Perfect pitch sequence from Weird Beard retired Howard easily. Too easily. Any concern here? Pitchers have been getting him out pretty consistently on the inside.

If I recall correctly, the reason Howard wasn't brought up earlier was because in AAA he had a huge gaping hole on the inside part of the plate. He had tried to compensate by taking a step back but then lost the outside corners. If this problem is back, we could have an issue with our MVP.

Howard has definitely taken a step backward today.

any body worried that Houston will tie this game and no hit bourne will come up with men on base and strike out. No way Burrell should be taken out in the 6th inning

tim; i agree. please keep burrell in a game after the 6th inning!

Naw, the new Philly pen is lights out...

"The only difference is that then, the Phillies were robbed on all 27 outs by a series of unforgettable Web Gems."

I'm sensing some hyperbole, no?

Anyway, those quotes this morning happened to come after winning two games in a row against a team that was playing like crap. If you think Chatlie Manuel's team meating causes Cole Hamles to strike out 15, fine. I can't diabuse you of this notion.

I would suggest, however, that you look up the definition of the words "cause" and "corelation." Team make all sorts of moves throughout a season.

Maybe the reason they looked better against the Reds than against the Mets is because the Mets are a better team?

also worth noting that even the new "clutchy" Phils have left 8 on base tonight. makes you wonder if straight LOB numbers aren't the best way to judge how well an offense is doing...

kdon, really. Is that the whole story? Is there that big a difference between the Mets and Reds/Astros?

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