Results tagged ‘ NLDS ’
Did you watch Game 1 of the NLCS yesterday?
I don’t blame you if you didn’t. I think most Phillies fans are still in shock the Cardinals beat the Phillies on Friday night. But if you watched the game you might have noticed quality at-bats from both teams. The Brewers and Cardinals worked their respective pitchers. They worked counts. Skip Schumaker‘s 10-pitch at-bat against Roy Halladay in the first inning in Game 5 on Friday is exactly the type of thing the Phillies didn’t do against the Cardinals, or against the Giants in last year’s NLCS. The Phillies have some holes to fill this offseason and it won’t be easy, but it would behoove them to find a hitter (or more) that can work a count and get on base.
Of the four teams in the NLDS, the Phillies ranked last in pitches per plate appearance, and it wasn’t even close:
- Diamondbacks: 3.97
- Cardinals: 3.67
- Brewers: 3.58
- Phillies: 3.48
That doesn’t seem like much of a difference, but consider the Diamondbacks saw 766 pitches in 193 plate appearances. If the Phillies would have had 193 plate appearancs they would have seen only 672 pitches. That’s 94 fewer pitches over the course of a five-game series.
That’s almost a game’s worth of pitches.
I know, small sample size, right? But the Phillies ranked eighth in the National League this season, averaging 3.80 PPA. That’s their lowest average since 2001, when it was 3.76. I don’t think it’s a complete coincidence the Phillies’ .323 on-base percentage was their worst since 1997, when it was .322. You can’t walk if you’re swinging early in the count nearly every time you step into the batter’s box. (And this isn’t a Ryan Howard problem, either. He averaged 4.13 PPA this season, which ranked fourth in the league.) Grind out a few at-bats against Chris Carpenter on Friday and maybe he tires a little. Maybe he slips up. Maybe he elevates a pitch in the strike zone. But that didn’t happen so we’ll never know.
It’s Game 5, so here’s a little Roy Halladay warm up music to get you in the mood.
It seems like the Phillies are pretty loose before Game 5, including Charlie Manuel, who held a news conference a few minutes ago.
Question: As someone who also grew up hunting squirrels, have you requested any squirrel proofing of the park for tomorrow, and are you afraid of a squirrel curse?
Answer: No, not at all. Like I’ve seen squirrels a lot in different ballparks besides St. Louis, of course, but at the same time the squirrel over there was a little bit different. There is a country western song about a squirrel, like getting in this church on a Sunday, and that’s kind of funny. I’m trying to think about ‑‑ (Ray) Stevens sings it, sure does. Same guy that sang The Streak and all those songs, yeah, gotcha.
Here’s that song, if you’re wondering what exactly he’s talking about.
This is why Roy Halladay is here.
Games like this.
Halladay will get to prove his worth Friday night in Game 5 of the NLDS at Citizens Bank Park. I’m sure everybody is wondering how things were in the clubhouse after the game. In short, not as bad I thought. I mean, it certainly could have been worse. But there wasn’t a funeral parlor feel to things, and I think going home and having Halladay on the mound is a big reason why.
Yes, their backs are against the wall. Yes, the offense has been stagnant the last three games. Yes, there will be a lot of pressure.
But they have Halladay.
Honestly, I think the players are probably more confident than the fans. Not that the fans won’t be confident, but I think they will be on edge. If things go bad early I’m sure you’ll be able to hear a pin drop in the ballpark. The offense can make sure that doesn’t happen by putting together some better at-bats. The difference between the Cardinals and the Phillies the past three games has been staggering. Just seems the Cardinals are putting together so many more quality at-bats. That’s got to change. If it does I think Halladay will take care of the rest.
Courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau, here are a couple more nuggets regarding Ben Francisco‘s pinch-hit three-run home run last night:
It is the first time in postseason history a pinch-hitter has had three or more RBIs, accounting for all of his team’s runs. Only one pinch-hitter had two RBIs, accounting for all of his team’s runs: Kansas City’s Dane Iorg against the Cardinals in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series. That’s otherwise known as the “Don Denkinger Game.”
Francisco hit because Cardinals manager Tony La Russa intentionally walked Carlos Ruiz to face him. Since 2000, there have been five lead-changing postseason home runs following an intentional walk.
La Russa has been victim of three of them:
- San Francisco’s Benito Santiago in Game 4 of the 2002 NLCS. He intentionally walked Barry Bonds.
- Houston’s Jeff Kent in Game 5 of the 2004 NLCS. He intentionally walked Lance Berkman.
- Francisco in Game 2 of the 2011 NLDS. He intentionally walked Ruiz.
Now, I’m not going to say it was crazy La Russa intentionally walked Ruiz to face Francisco. La Russa said Ruiz “terrorizes” them, which is a bit of an exaggeration. But Ruiz has hit the Cardinals well. He has hit .310 with eight doubles, two homers, 13 RBIs and an .818 OPS in 33 regular-season games against St. Louis, although he was hitless in the first two games of the NLDS. But his OPS is 68 points higher than his career average. And Francisco was 1-for-18 in his postseason career, 1-for-9 against Jamie Garcia and hadn’t homered since May 25.
But Francisco certainly remembered his last at-bat against Garcia on Sept.16 at Citizens Bank Park, when he crushed a sinker to the warning track in left field. He felt good stepping into the batter’s box against Garcia, and this time he had results to show for it.
Cardinals ace Chris Carpenter lasted just three innings in Game 2 of the National League Division Series.
It was his first time pitching on short rest. It showed.
Since the Phillies won their first of five consecutive National League East championships in 2007, Rich Dubee has been asked if he would bring back a pitcher on short rest. He got asked about Cole Hamels in 2007, when the Phillies fell behind the Colorado Rockies in the NLDS. He got asked about Cliff Lee in the 2009 World Series and Roy Halladay in the 2010 NLCS.
Asked if there would be any reason to pitch a starter on short rest this postseason, Dubee said, “I don’t think so. I’ve got confidence with every guy we’ve got out there.”
Not that Dubee will never do it, but he’s not a fan of it.
“Most real good players at this level get accustomed to a routine,” Dubee said. “Apparently that was Carpenter’s first whack at it. That’s a strange beast right there. You’re going from your normal side day. Then you’re third day generally you can kick back and relax mentally. The fourth day you get ready to pitch. Now all of a sudden you probably didn’t have a side day and you have shorter rest and shorter preparation time.”
It would not be wrong to say it is as challenging mentally as it is physically.
“I think it turns into a physical thing, but I think it’s more mental to begin with,” Dubee said. “I think all of a sudden, more often than not guys convince themselves they’re not 100 percent, that way they do different stuff.”
A few notes from tonight’s 11-6 victory over the Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLDS:
- Roy Halladay is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four postseason starts. He retired 21 consecutive batters to finish the game.
- Ryan Howard and Shane Victorino could make a friendly postseason wager. Howard passed Victorino as the franchise’s all-time postseason RBI leader with 31. Victorino has 30. Howard had no homers and no RBIs in last year’s postseason, so it’s good for him to put those questions behind him.
- Raul Ibanez had big homer in the sixth. He hit .245 with 20 homers and 84 RBIs this season. Let’s pose this question: Would you bring back Ibanez on a one-year deal next season? Or are you comfortable enough with Domonic Brown and John Mayberry Jr. in left field in 2012? Something to think about.
- The Phillies are 15-7 in Game 1s.
- The Phillies tied a postseason record with 14 hits. They had 14 in the Game 2 of the 1980 NLCS, Game 3 of the 1980 World Series and Game 4 of the 1993 World Series.
- Mike Stutes was frustrated with his effort tonight. He said he wasn’t as aggressive as he normally is. He expects that to change the next time he pitches.
- Carlos Ruiz wrote “10 mas” on the dry erase board in the center of the Phillies clubhouse. Of course, “10 mas” translates to 10 more. I’m sure you can figure out what that means.
The Cardinals haven’t announced anything, but the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports this is how the Cardinals’ rotation sets up for the NLDS:
- Game 1 at 5:07 p.m. Saturday: Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.39 ERA) vs. Roy Halladay (19-6, 2.35 ERA)
- Game 2 at 8:07 p.m. Sunday: Edwin Jackson (5-2, 3.58 ERA) vs. Cliff Lee (17-8, 2.40 ERA)
- Game 3 at TBA Tuesday: Cole Hamels (14-9, 2.79 ERA) vs. Chris Carpenter (11-9, 3.45 ERA)
- Game 4 at TBA Wednesday (if necessary): Roy Oswalt (9-10, 3.69 ERA) vs. Jamie Garcia (13-7, 3.56 ERA)
- Game 5 at TBA Friday (if necessary): TBA vs. Halladay
You’ve got to like the pitching matchups in the first two games for the Phillies. Halladay and Lee have been two of the best pitchers in the National League this year. Unless they were facing Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander they would be favored. Not that the Cardinals don’t pose challenges. Lohse is 2-0 with a 1.37 ERA in four September starts, and has a better ERA on the road (3.13) than at home (3.67) this season. He also is 1-1 with a 1.76 ERA in two starts against the Phillies. Jackson was 3-0 with a 3.02 ERA in his last seven starts, and he allowed more than two earned runs in only one of them. But since he joined the Cardinals in July, Jackson has a higher ERA on the road (4.40) than at home (3.10).
Of course, as Charlie Manuel would say, “You got to hit, son.”
Charlie Manuel isn’t ready to officially announce his Game 1 starter in the National League Division Series, but why should he?
It’s obvious, isn’t it?
It’s going to be Roy Halladay on Saturday at Citizens Bank Park with Cliff Lee pitching in Game 2 Sunday.
“I think if you’re good baseball people you should be able to see how we’re setting it up,” Manuel said. “I shouldn’t have to answer that.”
It is no surprise. Halladay is 19-6 with a 2.35 ERA this season. Lee is 17-8 with a 2.40 ERA. Cole Hamels (14-9, 2.75 ERA) is a good bet to start Game 3 with Roy Oswalt (8-10, 3.86 ERA) likely to start Game 4.
The Phillies said today they’re probably going to carry 11 pitchers on their postseason roster.
They’ve informed Domonic Brown, right-hander Justin De Fratus and left-hander Joe Savery they will be in instructional league during the postseason to stay sharp in case they are needed. Right-hander Michael Schwimer and outfielder Brandon Moss will head home after the season’s finale Wednesday. Catcher Erik Kratz could travel with the team, but that has not been decided.
Here’s a look at my projected 25-man NLDS roster:
- Catchers (2): Carlos Ruiz and Brian Schneider.
- Infielders (7): Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, Jimmy Rollins, Ross Gload, Wilson Valdez and Michael Martinez.
- Outfielders (5): Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence, John Mayberry Jr. and Ben Francisco.
- Starters (4): Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt.
- Relievers: (7): Ryan Madson, Brad Lidge, Antonio Bastardo, Mike Stutes, Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick with David Herndon or Joe Blanton taking up the final spot.
No surprises here among the 14 position players. Blanton has worked his way into the conversation to earn a bullpen spot. If he pitches well this week in Atlanta that could make the decision a little more difficult for the Phillies as Herndon has a 1.99 ERA in 33 appearances since April.
Pete Orr and John Bowker would have a shot to make the roster if the Phillies carried 10 pitchers, but it doesn’t sound like it’s going to happen.