Results tagged ‘ Jose Mesa ’

A Night to Forget for Hamels

Terrible start last night for Cole Hamels.

He lasted just 2 2/3 innings in the 7-1 loss to the Mets. In 150 career starts, just five of his starts have been fewer than three innings. Two were related to rain delays. One happened because it was the last game of the season and the Phillies pulled him to keep him fresh for the playoffs.

So just twice in his career Hamels has been pulled before three innings for poor performance.

The first came Aug. 24, 2006, in an 11-2 loss to the Cubs at Wrigley Field. He allowed nine hits, nine runs, five earned runs and two home runs in two innings. But Hamels actually had a reason for his struggles: he had cut his left index finger before the start, making it difficult to grip and throw the ball.

Hamels offered no excuses last night. What was he going to say? He pitched poorly. And looking at the reasons for those other four starts, this could be called the worst start of his career.

Fans let him know. He was booed off the field.

Booed. Hamels. After one bad start. In April.

Really? Couldn’t have disagreed more with that. Hamels isn’t Adam Eaton. He actually cares. (Never saw more indifference from a pitcher in postgame interviews than Eaton.) He isn’t Freddy Garcia. He has a pretty significant history here. I know Philly fans are tough and they expect the best, but doesn’t a guy like Hamels get a mulligan in April? I know it was the Mets. I know it was an awful start. But Hamels isn’t Jose Mesa or Paul Abbott (remember him?). It’s not like it’s July and Hamels is carrying an Eaton-esque 6.50 ERA. The guy could throw a shutout Sunday against the Braves. He’s good.

A little bandwagon-y, if you ask me.

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Looking October Worthy

lee 0915.jpg“They have a lot pros over there. Lee and Pedro Martinez and Cole Hamels go deep in ballgames. That’s a good formula for winning.” — Nationals interim manager Jim Riggleman.

The past few nights at Citizens Bank Park have been impressive, and perhaps a glimpse into the future.

Cliff Lee shutout the Nationals tonight at Citizens Bank Park, 5-0, two nights after Pedro Martinez threw 130 pitches in eight shutout innings Sunday in a 1-0 victory over the Mets. Two nights before that, Cole Hamels allowed one run in 6 2/3 innings to improve to 2-1 with a 1.52 ERA in his previous four starts.

“Our one to five is as good as anybody’s,” Lee said of a rotation that also includes Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ. “I don’t think you necessarily have to have a 1-2 punch. I think we’ve got a 1-2-3-4-5 punch. That’s never ending.”

It is too early to say what the postseason rotation will look like, but I think the health of left-handers Scott Eyre and J.C. Romero could play a part in it. If they are not healthy, the Phillies could move Happ into the bullpen to give them a left-hander. If that happens, Martinez obviously makes the rotation.

(And, yes, I know the Mets and Nationals aren’t the Dodgers, Rockies or Cardinals, but the Philllies starters are doing what they should do against these offenses. Shut them down.)

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The last time the Phillies had shutouts in consecutive games was April 27-28, 2003, when Kevin Millwood threw a no-hitter in a 1-0 victory against the Giants at Veterans Stadium and Brett Myers, Dan Plesac and Jose Mesa combined for a 3-0 victory against the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

I remember Millwood’s no-hitter well. I had started the Phillies beat a couple weeks earlier for The Philadelphia Inquirer, but because the Phillies opened a series the next night in Los Angeles, I flew to California that afternoon. In other words, the very first game I missed as a Phillies beat writer Kevin Freakin’ Millwood throws a no-hitter. I remember getting into my rental car at LAX, turning on the radio and hearing Vin Scully say, “And Kevin Millwood has a no-hitter through eight innings!” I couldn’t believe it. In fact, I still can’t believe it.

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The last time the Phillies had consecutive shutouts in Philadelphia was Aug. 15-16, 2002, against the Brewers and Cardinals. Joe Roa, Mike Timlin and Carlos Silva combined for the shutout against the Brewers, and Randy Wolf shutout the Cardinals.

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Carlos Ruiz is hitting .429 (18-for-42) with one homer and nine RBIs in his past 17 games.

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Lidge Blows His Ninth, Still the Closer


lidge 0418.jpgYou’re probably asking yourself the question every other Phillies fan is asking today, “How long is this going to continue?”

Brad Lidge needed just five pitches to blow his Major-League leading ninth save of the season last night in a 6-4 loss to the Pirates at PNC Park. He is 0-6 with a 7.33 ERA. That not only is the highest ERA of any relief pitcher in baseball, it is 0.81 earned runs higher than Indians right-hander Jose Veras, whose 6.52 ERA is the second-highest in baseball.

“He’s got to stay with it,” Charlie Manuel said. “He’s got to keep going. I mean, what the hell? That’s all we can do. … That’s where we’re at. That’s our closer. I’ve said that all along. That’s the guy we give the ball to in the ninth inning.”

Lidge has been frustrated previously, but never as visibly upset as he looked last night. He looked beaten. He allowed a leadoff single to Luis Cruz, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. Brandon Moss laced a single to right. Jayson Werth bobbled the ball and slipped as he tried to throw the ball into the infield, which allowed Cruz enough time to race around third base to score the tying run and Moss to advance to second. Andrew McCutchen then crushed a 94 mph fastball for a two-run home run to win the game.

“It’s frustrating,” Lidge said. “Obviously, I’ll take the ball 10 days in a row. I want to get out there and compete and get those guys out. Unfortunatey today it just didn’t happen. I didn’t have enough in the tank, I guess.

“I didn’t have anything on the ball tonight. The fourth day in a row for me historically has been pretty bad. I wasn’t able to make an adjustment today and I just didn’t have anything on the ball. I need to be able to make an adjustment if I throw four days in a row.”

Lidge pitched the final three games of the Mets series at Citi Field, but Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee felt that because Lidge threw 11 pitches Saturday, nine Sunday and 15 Monday — Lidge also warmed up Friday — that he could get through the Pirates lineup last night.

Lidge had pitched four consecutive days six previous times in his career: He was 2-1 with a 5.40 ERA (three earned runs in five innings), two saves and two blown saves in those appearances. In Lidge’s four most recent appearances – twice this season, once last season and once in 2007 – he went 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA (zero earned runs in 3 2/3 innings) and two saves. The other two appearances, which came in 2005 and 2006, he allowed five hits and three earned runs in 1 1/3 innings. He went 1-1 with two blown saves.

Manuel supported his closer in his postgame interview, which is not a surprise. This team badly needs Lidge to straighten out before the playoffs, and questioning him publicly is the worst thing he could do. But is there a tipping point in this? If Lidge is still struggling with a week to go in the season, do they go into the postseason with him as their closer? He saved seven of their 11 wins in the 2008 playoffs, but Lidge’s continued struggles would jeopardize their chances at a second World Series championship. But I think there is a good chance they stick with Lidge.

Manuel has said a few times before: show me my options. But maybe he says that because Brett Myers is not back yet. If he returns from the DL and throws the ball well — I think Myers has to be dominant upon his return — he could put pressure on the Phillies to make a change. But Myers won’t rejoin the team until Sept. 1 at the earliest. Will he have enough time to convince the Phillies he is a better, more reliable option than Lidge? (Fans looking for Manuel to name Myers the closer upon his arrival should take a step back. That won’t happen.)

So I think two things would need to happen for Lidge to get bumped at this point: 1) something even more catastrophic than what has happened: a string of blowns saves that pulls the Phillies into a first-place tie with Florida or Altanta. 2) Lidge’s continued struggles with Myers looking dominant at the same time.

Until then I think Lidge is the closer.

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Lidge’s nine blown saves are tied with Steve Bedrosian (1986), Jose Mesa (2002), Ron Reed (1976) and Mitch Williams (1991) for the third most in Phillies history. Mark Leiter holds the franchise record with 12 blown saves in 1998. Dick Selma is second with 11 blown saves in 1970.

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