April 26, 2005

Phils top Nats

It wasn't perfect, but the Phils got exactly what they needed – a win – as they held off the Washington Nationals 5-4 Monday.

Yesterday's game calls for a bulleted recap in the tradition of baseball blog pioneer Aaron Gleeman.

* Cory Lidle is giving the Phils exactly what was expected from him this season – about five good innings each start. Like his previous outings, things became a little unraveled in the sixth, but so far, he hasn’t been badly burned. He gave up a lot of fly balls yesterday, posting a 4-11 ground ball to fly ball ratio. Word from Chris Wheeler is RFK is playing extremely deep in cold weather, so it’s possible Lidle was trying out different stuff. His sinker seemed to be hanging a little.

* The struggling offense didn’t look killer, but took advantage of enough mistakes in the field and from starter Zach Day. A costly throwing mistake by Jose Vidro led to a run instead of an inning-ending double play. Two batters later, Lidle singled to right-center and David Bell scored. In the sixth, Cristian Guzman’s fielding error eventually led to a bases-loaded two-out, two-run single by Placido Polanco to put the Phils up for good.

* Speaking of Polanco, he started in left field yesterday in place of Pat Burrell, who’s day-to-day. Poly saw a lot of action out there and didn’t goof up, earning player of the game honors from the broadcast crew. The lineup decision reveals manager Charlie Manuel doesn’t view Jose Offerman as a viable option for outfield.

* And speaking of Manuel, he’s trying like heck to get Tim Worrell reestablished as a setup man. I agree Worrell needs a comfortable role in the pen, but bringing him in right smack in the middle of the left-handed heart of the order – Vidro, Jose Guillen – was a little foolish and nearly cost them the lead. Vidro immediately tripled to lead off the inning, and Guillen brought him home with a deep sac fly to pull the score to 5-4. Termell Sledge then singled to center, and Vinny Castilla flied out to deep right. Billy Wagner was called in to finish the inning, allowing another deep fly ball from Gary Bennett. If the game was at CBP, that inning would have cost them.

* Wagner earned a rocky save in the ninth. His stuff was in the 95 mph range.

* Michael Berquist points out today on A Citizen’s Blog that David Bell is leading all NL third basemen in zone rating. This represents one of my favorite stats of the year because it breaks a lot of conventional wisdom about Bell’s defense, plus it make me happy since I’ve found myself in Bell’s corner this season. He's made some Gold Glove plays at the hot corner, including great work in the St. Louis series and a clutch grab and throw on a tweener in the first Hampton game.

Errors stick with fans – he’s had three of them – plus they see the batting average, the low power, the bad back and think he needs to sit on the bench. Starting pitchers, especially the ground ballers like Jon Lieber, can pitch with much more confidence knowing Bell is behind them. Aside from the occasional game off, Bell is the Phils best option for third base.


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