Results tagged ‘ offense ’

Week One A Good One

It’s only one week, but …

– The Phillies are second in the National League in scoring with 43 runs. The Reds lead with 45. Third place? The Mets with 31.

– The Phillies lead the league in batting (.353) and on-base percentage (.407).

– They are second in slugging percentage (.498).

– Ryan Howard, Placido Polanco, Scott Rolen and Neil Walker are tied for the league lead with eight RBIs.

– Howard (.480) is second, Polanco (.440) is fourth, Wilson Valdez (.429) is sixth and Jimmy Rollins (.375) is 12th in batting.

Is this a sign of things to come or just a hot week? We’ll find out, but I think Phillies fans would agree this is better than the alternative (the Cardinals have scored just 15 runs in their first six games).

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Roy Halladay looks like he’s in midseason form … Should be a good test for the Phillies this weekend in Atlanta … More from Atlanta later …

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Hit the Ball Hard, Good Things Will Happen

Ben Francisco hit a rocket to left field in the first inning last night at Citizens Bank Park.

Caught.

Francisco spiked his bat into the ground and tossed his helmet to the side.

“Seriously?” he had to be thinking. “Really?”

He had hit three bullets to left field in three consecutive at-bats, and all three had been caught. Strong winds killed two balls that would have been home runs in his final two at-bats in Tuesday’s 7-1 loss to the Mets. But Francisco finally caught a break last night, when he crushed another ball to left field for a solo home run — the final run — in the Phillies’ 10-7 victory. Francisco is hitting .333 (7 for 21) with one double, two home runs and five RBIs in his first five games.

Ryan Howard continues to swing a hot bat. He went 4 for 4 with two doubles, one home run, two RBIs and one walk. He is hitting .524 (11 for 21) with three doubles, two homers and eight RBIs. Much of the rest of the lineup is hitting well, too: Raul Ibanez (.300), Placido Polanco (.450), Jimmy Rollins (.368) and Wilson Valdez (.294). The only guys really struggling are Carlos Ruiz (.154) and Shane Victorino (.222), although Victorino had a couple big hits last night.

It’s just five games, but it’s encouraging for Charlie Manuel nonetheless. If the Phillies can win today’s series finale against the Mets, they will be 5-1 entering a weekend series against Atlanta. That will be a great early test for them.

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A Few Offseason Questions

Thumbnail image for werth 1012.jpgI’ve been away for a few days, so I haven’t blogged since last week. My apologies.

I’ve gotten plenty of questions about the Phillies’ offseason since their season ended. I’ll try to answer some of those questions the best I can.

Question: Are the Phillies going to resign Jayson Werth?
Answer: No, I don’t think they will. Somebody is going to give Werth a big contract. I don’t think he’ll get the seven-year, $120 million contract Matt Holliday got from the Cardinals, but he’ll get paid. The only way I see Werth returning is if the market simply isn’t there for him and he surpisingly accepts salary arbitration from the Phillies (Kevin Millwood surprised the Phillies when he accepted salary arbitration in 2003) or the Phillies get him at a team-friendly price. I don’t see either scenario happening.

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Can the Phillies Hit This Guy?

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Lots of nervous Phillies fans out there.

Lots of people wondering why the Phillies would not start Roy Halladay over Joe Blanton in Game 4. Honestly, I don’t have a problem with it. Not even a little bit. Because if the Phillies can’t hit Madison Bumgarner tonight to even the series, does it really matter who they pitch? I’d rather take my chances with Blanton, assume a dormant Phillies offense hits a rookie left-hander and have Halladay ready to go on normal rest in Game 5.

If the Phillies win tonight, I like the idea of having Halladay, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels on normal rest the rest of the series. If the Phillis lose tonight, I’d much rather have Halladay on normal rest with something to prove (don’t think his Game 1 performance isn’t a motivator) than Oswalt on short rest in an elimination game.

But they’ve got to hit. Simple as that.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Offense Shows A Flash

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The Phillies showed they still have some life in their bats last night in Game 2 of a doubleheader against the Marlins.

They have averaged 4.59 runs per game this season, which surprisingly ranks fifth in the National League. They led the league in runs per game in 2009, averaging 5.06. They ranked second in 2008, averaging 4.93. They ranked first in 2007 (5.51) and 2006 (5.34) and second in 2005 (4.98). You have to go back to 2002 to find a Phillies offense that averaged fewer runs than the 2010 Phillies. The 2002 Phillies ranked seventh in the league, averaging 4.41 runs per game.

This is what the Phillies offense is — it’s the first week of September, not the first week of June — so nights when they score one or two runs should no longer be a surprise. In the past the offense carried the Phillies into the postseason. But unless something dramatic happens the final month of the season, pitching is going to have to carry them into the postseason this year. 

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Charlie Manuel dropped Jimmy Rollins to fifth in the lineup in Game 2. Rollins has been struggling lately, and for much of the season. According to Fangraphs.com, Rollins has hit line drives only 16.8 percent of the time this season, the lowest level of his career. He has hit infield pop flys 10.5 percent of the time. That is lower than 2008 (11.8 percent) and 2009 (13.7 percent), but higher than his 2007 MVP season (7.5 percent).

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Vance Worley pitched OK in Game 1, but did he pitch good enough to bump Kyle Kendrick from the rotation? Manuel and Rich Dubee are down on Kendrick after the way he pitched Prince Fielder on Sunday, so it will be very interesting to see what they do.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Chew on This

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A few things to ponder following last night’s 12-11 victory over the Rockies at Coors Field:

  • The Phillies are 28-12 (.700) since a July 21 loss to the Cardinals. That’s the best record in baseball. 
  • The Braves are 23-17 (.575), which is the eighth-best record in baseball. That’s why the Phillies have made up only five games in the National League East standings. If anything, we’ve learned the Braves are not the 2010 version of the ’07 and ’08 Mets. The Phillies will need to keep playing well to catch Atlanta.
  • Chase Utley and Ryan Howard seem to be emerging from their slumps. Utley has hit .538 (7 for 13) with three doubles, one home run, eight RBIs and one stolen base in the last three games. Howard has hit .250 (3 for 12) with a double, two home runs, five RBIs, two walks and three strikeouts in the last three games.
  • The Phillies went 6-1 (.857) on their seven-game road trip through San Diego, Los Angeles and Colorado. According to the Phillies’ media guide it ties for the fourth-best road trip in franchise history. They had a 7-0 trip against the Pirates and Mets in 1968, a 6-0 trip against the Boston Braves and Giants in 1915 and a 7-1 trip against the Expos, Cardinals and Cubs in 1983.
  • The Phillies have a 3.01 ERA since July 21, which is tied with the Astros for the best ERA in baseball.
  • The offense has averaged 4.86 runs per game, which ranks 10th in baseball and sixth in the National League.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. My Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

The Slump Is Over

werth triple.jpgSomebody asked Charlie Manuel yesterday if the Phillies’ slump is over.

Yes, it is.

The Phillies have scored 75 runs in 11 games since they lost to the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on June 15. Only the Rangers have scored more runs (77) in that span. The Phillies and Red Sox lead the Majors with 18 home runs in that time. The Phillies rank eighth in hitting (.274), sixth in on-base percentage (.342), third in slugging percentage (.483) and third in OPS (.825). All those numbers mean the Phillies have been the hottest offense in the National League for nearly two weeks.

They just need to keep it going. They’re 2 1/2 games behind the Braves in the NL East. They play the NL Central-leading Reds beginning tonight in Cincinnati. (On a side note: I’m staying at a Courtyard across the river in Covington, Kentucky. There is a hot tub three feet from my bed. I would like to meet the architect who thought that was a good idea.) The Phillies play the lowly Pirates in a four-game series this weekend in Pittsburgh.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

The Funk

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Some thoughts about the Phillies’ funk:

I understand why the Phillies have made, “That’s baseball,” their motto as they’ve tried to explain their unexplainable slump: there is no reason other than everybody has gotten cold at the same time and they miss Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco. And I understand why they have said, “We’ve been through slumps like this before.” Because they have been through team-wide hitting slumps. And in the end, talent always won and the Phillies always started hitting again.

But I also understand why fans are concerned. This isn’t just another slump.

Manuel loves to tell the story about how the Phillies scored 20 runs against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on June 13, 2008. He said reporters asked him afterward if they could score 1,000 runs that season, despite the fact they were on pace to score 875. Manuel then said the Phillies went in a slump to kill such talk.

The Phillies scored 31 runs in a 2-9 stretch following that 20-run effort against the Cardinals in 2008 — such a brutal slump that Manuel always, always, always brings it up whenever the Phillies hit a lull.

So then consider the Phillies have scored just 14 runs in their current 2-9 stretch, 17 fewer runs than the slump that is burned in Manuel’s memory like Black Friday or Joe Carter in Game 6. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it is just the third time in franchise history the Phillies have scored 14 or fewer runs in 11 games. They scored 14 runs in a 0-11 stretch from Aug. 5-14, 1961, and 14 runs in a 2-9 stretch from July 22-Aug. 4, 1902. The 1902 Phillies finished 56-81 (.409), which was seventh in the eight-team National League. The ’61 Phillies finished 47-107 (.305), which was the worst record in baseball.

No Phillies team has been worse since the ’61 squad.

I understand why the Phillies are trying to remain calm and confident, even though they most certainly are pressing at the plate. They don’t care how many runs they’ve scored in the last 11 games. That’s in the past. But I also understand why we’re making an issue out of it: These aren’t the ’61 Phillies. These are the two-time defending National League champions, and they’re going through one of the worst offensive slumps in franchise history.

But after saying all of that, I think everybody should relax. It’s been a long two weeks, but it’s just two weeks.

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Nelson Figueroa cleared waivers yesterday and accepted his assignment to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. … I went to Rollins’ Basebowl Tournament yesterday afternoon at Lucky Strikes. Phillies ball girls Lindsay and Perrin wondered why I haven’t shown their blog any love. So check ’em out.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

Drought Talk

Not sure what else can be said about the Phillies’ offense at this point.

They’ve scored nine runs in 10 games, which is why they’ve fallen from first place in the National League East for the first time since May 1. The Phillies had a season-high five-game lead in the NL East following a 12-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 17. They had the second-best offense in baseball at the time, averaging 5.73 runs per game. Only the New York Yankees (5.76) had averaged more.

But entering tonight’s game against the Braves, the Phillies rank 12th in baseball, averaging 4.69 runs per game.

Quite a fall.

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The Phillies have gone 63 innings without a home run. It’s their longest home run drought since a 73-inning streak in 1999.

Who breaks the streak?

When?

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Dan Levy talks to Tom McCarthy and Scott Franzke about calling Roy Halladay‘s perfect game.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

000 000 000 – This Is Not Binary Code

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around what I’ve watched the last five games. I’m sure you are, too.

The Phillies lost last night to the Mets, 3-0. It was their third consecutive shutout loss and the fourth time they have been shut out in five games. It is the first time they have been shut out in three consecutive games since May 20-24, 1983, making the 2010 Phillies the 87th team since 1920 to be shutout in three consecutive games. (The ’83 Phillies are the last team to be shutout in three consecutive games to make the postseason. The 14 teams since the ’83 Phillies have not played in October.) It is the first time the Phillies have been shut out four times in five games since Aug. 23-27, 1974.

Thank Ramon Ramirez for allowing three runs in the ninth inning Sunday at Citizens Bank Park, otherwise the Phillies would have been shut out five consecutive games.

Five.

The MLB record since 1920 is four, which has been accomplished eight times. The last team to suffer that feat? The 1992 Chicago Cubs.

What you have watched has been remarkable. The Phillies have not scored a run in 27 consecutive innings, and have not scored a run in 46 of their last 47 innings. And while the Phillies say this is just baseball – every team goes through slumps – offenses as good as the Phillies don’t struggle quite like this.

The Phillies ranked fourth in baseball and second in the National League in runs (224) through last Friday, when they beat the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park, 5-1. Only the Yankees (239), Diamondbacks (226) and Rays (226) had scored more. And the Phillies had played two or fewer games than the Yankees, Diamondbacks and Rays, meaning their 5.46 runs per game ranked second in baseball. Yes, the Phillies were the second best offense in baseball through last Friday. But these past five games have been a killer. They have since dropped to 10th in baseball and fifth in the National League in runs (227), and ninth in baseball in runs per game (4.93).

Only six runs separate the Phillies from ranking tied for eighth in the league in runs.

It’s got to turn around eventually. The Phillies are going to score a run again. But I thought it would happen last night. And before that I thought it would happen Wednesday night. And before that I thought it would happen Tuesday night.

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The Zo Zone is on Facebook and Twitter. His Phillies book “The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly” is available online, and at Delaware Valley bookstores!

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