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April 3 2007

A year ago the Phillies found themselves down 10-0 in the fourth inning on a cold and rainy opening day.  Yesterday at least it was sunny.

The Phillies lost their home opener to the Braves on Monday, falling 5-3 in ten innings.  They are 0-1 on the season.

Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies and pitched very well.  He went 7 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks.  Three of the hits went for extra-bases, a double and two home runs.  He struck out nine.

In the first Myers allowed a two-out walk to Chipper Jones before Andruw Jones popped to short to end the frame. 

Brian McCann led off the second with a double to center off the glove of Rowand, but Myers set down the next three Braves to end the inning.  It would have been a great catch by Rowand, but it's one we've seen him make before.

Myers set the Braves down 1-2-3 in the third.

Chipper Jones led off the fourth and walked on four pitches.  Andruw Jones was next and popped to third for the first out of the inning, but McCann followed and hit a two-run homer that put Atlanta up 2-0.  Myers got the next two to end the inning.

Myers struck out two in a 1-2-3 fifth.  He got Renteria to start the sixth but Chipper Jones followed with a single to center.  Andruw Jones followed with a fly ball to center and Chipper tagged and moved up to second.  McCann struck out to end the inning.

Myers struck out two more in a 1-2-3 seventh.  Through seven innings he had thrown 95 pitches and struck out eight while allowing two runs on just three hits.

He returned to start the eighth and got the first two before Renteria hit a solo home run that tied the game at 3-3.  With Chipper at the plate, Manuel called on Matt Smith who got Chipper to ground to short to end the inning.

Tom Gordon started the ninth in a tie game and got the first man before McCann delivered another hit, this time a single.  Gordon struck out Francoeur for the second out of the inning and lefty Scott Thorman followed with two down and a man on first.  Gordon stayed in the game -- the Phillies had already used Smith, who is their only lefty in the pen, and Gordon probably would have stayed in the game anyway -- and Thorman hit a soft grounder to first that Howard could not handle.  Howard was charged with an error, Thorman was safe at first and Orr, who ran for McCann, was safe at second.  Ryan Langerhans was next and hit a ball up the middle.  Utley made an all-out dive to keep the ball in the infield and save a run, but Langerhans was safe with an infield single and the bases were loaded with two
down.  Brayan Pena pinch-hit for the pitcher and Gordon struck him out to end the inning.  Utley saved a run and Gordon came up big.

Ryan Madson came in to pitch the top of the ninth and walked Kelly Johnson to lead off the inning.  Renteria tried to bunt unsuccessfully before swinging away with two strikes and hitting a two-run homer to put Atlanta up 5-3.  Madson retired the next three to end the inning.

You've got to feel for Madson after his great spring training coming off an awful '06 season. 

The Braves had seven hits on the day.  Renteria was 2-for-5 with three RBI and McCann was 3-for-4 with two RBI.

The Phillies lineup against righty John Smoltz went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Howard (4) Utley (5) Burrell (6) Helms (7) Rowand (8) Barajas (9) Myers.  The big news is Howard in the three hole as Utley drops to fourth.  Howard was hitting behind a guy with a career .326 on-base percentage in Victorino.  Manuel's lineup went switch-switch-left-left-right-right-right-right-pitcher.  Howard sure did seem to be hitting well in the cleanup spot last season.  The Phillies have a lot of real problems in the pen and on their bench.  The batting order wasn't one of them until they made it an issue.

In the first, Smoltz struck out Rollins and Victorino before Howard singled.  Utley grounded to second to end the inning.

In the second, Pat Burrell led off with a strikeout and Wes Helms followed with a pop out to second.  With two down and nobody on Rowand reached on an infield single, but Barajas flew out to right to end the inning.

The Phillies went 1-2-3 in the third.

Howard led off the fourth with a single and Utley followed and hit a ball in between first and second that hit Howard.  Howard was out for the first out of the inning with Utley at first -- watching it live it didn't look like the ball hit Howard, it was difficult to tell even on replay if the call was right or not.  Burrell was next and drew a walk to put runners at first and second with one out for Helms, who hit a dribbler to first for the second out of the inning as the runners moved to second and third.  Rowand lined out to short to end the inning with the Phils down 2-0.

Barajas led off the fifth with a ground out and Myers went down swinging for the second out before Rollins got the Phils on the board with a solo homer to right.  It cut the Braves lead to 2-1.  Victorino grounded to second to end the inning.

Utley and Howard went down to start the sixth but Burrell singled with two outs.  Helms was next and hit a ball into deep center that Andruw Jones dove for but couldn't get.  Helms was safe at second with a double and the dive from Jones allowed the slothlike Burrell to score and tie the game at 2-2.  Rowand was next and he hit a pop-up behind second that Kelly Johnson dropped for a single in a play that was apparently scored by one of Rowand's blood relatives.  That shouldn't be allowed.  With two outs, Helms was able to score and put the Phils up 3-2 before Barajas flew to right to end the inning.

After a strong top of the seventh, Myers led off the bottom of the inning having thrown 95 pitches and walked on four pitches.  Rollins followed with a double into left that sent Myers to third.  An awful at-bat for Victorino followed in which he struck out for the second time of the day.  It was the first out of the inning and left runners on second and third with one out.  Howard was next and he struck out.  Utley followed and grounded to short for the third out of the inning.  The Phillies were turned away empty after putting runners on second and third with nobody out and their two-three-four hitters coming to the plate.

Burrell and Helms went down to start the eighth but Rowand drew a two-out walk.  Barajas hit for himself against the righty Soriano and grounded to third.  Four righties in a row for the Phillies and the Braves call on their tough righty to set them down.  Manuel doesn't
call on either of his lefties on the bench, Bourn or Dobbs.  I'm missing Dellucci already.

Gordon was due to lead off the bottom of the ninth against righty Bob Wickman and Manuel called on lefty Greg Dobbs to pinch-hit.  Dobbs grounded out to second on the first pitch.  Rollins struck out for the second out of the inning, but Victorino followed and doubled to left.  The Braves walked Howard intentionally to pitch to Utley with runners on first and second with two down.  Utley popped to Chipper in foul territory to end the inning.

Burrell led off the bottom of the tenth and struck out.  Helms flew to center for the second out and Rowand grounded to third to end the game.

For the Phillies the biggest moments of the game with the bat were the seventh inning when they got nada after second and third with nobody out and Utley's at-bat after the Braves walked Howard in the ninth.

Manuel put Gordon into the game in a tie game at home.

The Phillies bullpen needs another lefty, they didn't have one in the pen after Smith left the game after getting one out in the eighth.

Manuel didn't replace Burrell in left with Bourn late in the game for defensive purposes.

I think the Phils are going to need to find a way to break up those four righties in a row with Burrell, Helms, Rowand and Barajas hitting fifth through eighth or else they're going to see a tough righty shut them down late in a game like they did in this one.  I like Greg Dobbs as much as the next guy, really I do, but he shouldn't be the best left-handed hitter on your bench.

Rollins was 2-for-5 with a double, a homer and three strikeouts.

Victorino was 1-for-5 with a double and two strikeouts.  Awful at-bat in the seventh when he struck out with nobody out and runners on second and third.

Howard was 2-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts.  He made an error at first base for which I hold Tom Goodman personally responsible.  He's on pace for 162.

As the cleanup hitter, Utley went 1-for-5 with a single and left five men on base.  Utley also hit cleanup on opening day last season but wound up batting fourth in just five other games.

Burrell was 1-for-4 with a walk and two strikeouts.

Helms was 1-for-5 with a double and an RBI.

Barajas was 0-for-4 and left three men on base.

No game today.  Cole Hamels faces Tim Hudson tomorrow night.

The Phillies added righty Joe Bisenius as the 25th man on their roster.

Chris Coste is sounding kinda down in the dumps.

Q&A from Delco Times with Charlie Manuel here.  Discussion of Charlie Manuel's job status abounds.

This article says that Garcia will pitch in a minor league game on Thursday and again on Saturday and could start for the Phillies around April 15.  Lieber's time table seems a little less clear.

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