All of the sudden the Phillies can’t beat the Nationals or the Padres. Their bullpen failed spectacularly for the third straight game last night. To say it has been ugly is an understatement. Still, as bad as it’s been, watching them lose again last night it was hard to think about anything other than how good they’ve been in some ways for so long.
Brad Lidge blew a save last night for his first time as a Phillie. He’s been a Phillie for a while now. He saved 44 games, and that’s not including a brilliant playoff run. He was a reasonable candidate to be the team’s MVP for 2008 in a year the Phillies won the World Series. He’s been better than good.
So Lidge was due to lose one. He deserves some slack. A lot of it. Losing the game isn’t the problem. The problem is that while it was the first blown save of for Lidge as a Phillie, it wasn’t the first time he’s pitched badly this season and the season is only ten games old. The problem is that if Madson and Lidge, and Durbin for that matter, are going to pitch the way they have been so far in 2009 the Phils are going to need a new formula for how to win games. Cause as good as they were in 2008, they didn’t do much of anything without getting a lot of help from those guys.
The Phillies lost to the San Diego Padres last night, falling 8-5 to drop to 4-6 on the season. The Phillies have lost three games in a row and have allowed eight runs in a game for four games in a row.
Brett Myers got the start for the Phillies and went 6 2/3 innings, allowing three runs on six hits and four walks. Four of the hits went for extra-bases, three doubles and a home run. He struck out six. After three starts he has a 5.06 ERA for the season.
Myers got Jody Gerut to ground to second to start the game. David Eckstein was next and Myers walked him before getting Brian Giles to fly to right for the second out. Myers issued walks to Adrian Gonzalez and Chase Headley back-to-back, loading the bases with two down for Kevin Kouzmanoff. Kouzmanoff popped to Utley to leave the runners stranded.
Myers got Nick Hundley, Luis Rodriguez and pitcher Shawn Hill in a 1-2-3 second.
He started the third up 1-0. Gerut led off and swung and missed a 1-2 pitch that was in the dirt and not handled by Marson, allowing Gerut to take first. Eckstein followed with a single to left that moved Gerut to second. Giles was next and Myers got him to hit into a double-play, moving Gerut to third with two down. Myers got ahead of Gonzalez 0-2, but Gonzalez hit the next pitch out to center and the Padres led 2-1. Headley struck out for the third out.
Not handling the pitch Gerut struck out on costs the Phils a run.
Kouzmanoff led off the fourth and hit a ball well to right that Werth didn’t catch against the wall and may have had go off his glove. Myers kept the Padres off the board, though, striking out Hundley for the first out, getting Rodriguez on a ground ball that moved Kouzmanoff to third for the second out and Hill on a fly ball to right to end the frame.
Eckstein doubled down the left field line with one out in the fifth. Giles was next and he split the gap in left-center with another double, scoring Eckstein to make it 3-1 San Diego. With Gonzalez at the plate, Myers delivered a ball in the dirt that rolled away from Marson. Giles took off for third, but Marson picked it up and threw to third. Giles was safe, but arrived at third off-balance and left the bag, perhaps with the help of a nudge from Feliz, and was called out for the second out. The play was argued by the Padres, who may have had a case, but to no avail. Gonzalez went on to walk, but Myers struck out Headley to set the Padres down.
Myers threw a 1-2-3 sixth.
He started the seventh with the game tied at 3-3. Edgar Gonzalez pinch-hit for the pitcher to start the frame, and Myers struck him out for the first out. Gerut was next and hit a ground ball back up the middle. Rollins fielded behind and just to the right of second base, but had no chance to get Gerut at first. Eckstein was next and chopped a ball to short. Not a double-play ball cause it wasn’t hit hard enough, but the Phillies nearly turned it anyway. Eckstein just beat Utley’s relay to first. It brought up the lefty Giles with two down and a man on first and Manuel called on Eyre to pitch to Giles. Eyre struck Giles out swinging 3-2 to end the frame.
Madson started the eighth coming off a miserable outing the night before in which he threw 20 pitches. He struck Gonzalez out for the first out, but Headley drew a walk on a 3-2 pitch that was a little high. Kouzmanoff was next and he blooped a single into center on a 3-2 pitch. Headley wasn’t running on the pitch, but read the ball well and went to third. Hundley followed and lined a single into right that scored Headley and put San Diego up 4-3. With men on first and second and one out, Rodriguez went down swinging for the second out. Righty Scott Hairston hit for the pitcher and Madson struck him out on three pitches to leave both runners stranded.
Lidge started the ninth with a 5-4 lead having thrown 32 pitches the night before. Gerut led off and lined a ball into right-center. Victorino slid to stop the ball and didn’t handle it cleanly. Gerut wound up on second with a double. Eckstein hit a ground ball to second for the first out, moving Gerut to third. The Phillies played the infield back and Giles hit a ground ball to first. Howard flipped to Lidge covering first for the second out, but Gerut scored to tie the game at 5-5 and Brad Lidge had blown his first save as a Phillie. Lidge walked the lefty Gonzalez on four pitches. Headley followed and he walked on a 3-2 pitch that was inside. Kouzmanoff was next and he got ahead 2-0 and then hit the ball out to left for a three-run homer. 8-5. Durbin came in to pitch to Hundley and struck him out to set the Padres down.
Again the pen can’t get it done and again both Madson and Lidge pitch badly. Overall the pen went 2 1/3 innings and allowed five runs on four hits and three walks. Madson and Lidge would both be throwing for the third straight day if they pitched today. For each of them, if they pitched today they would be appearing for the third straight day for the second time this season in the eleventh game (they both pitched April 11, 12 and 13). I would guess that will not happen, but we’ll see. Three lefties in the pen creates a problem for the Phils cause it means just four righties — it creates a bigger problem if two of the lefties, Happ and Taschner, rarely pitch. I don’t think the Phillies need both Happ and Taschner in the pen, but if they’re going to have them in the pen they should use them.
Madson threw 30 pitches today, Lidge 26. Eyre and Durbin were both under ten pitches each.
The bullpen has allowed 13 runs in 7 1/3 innings over the past three games.
The Phillies lineup against righty Shawn Hill went (1) Rollins (2) Victorino (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Ibanez (6) Werth (7) Feliz (8) Marson. Ibanez moves up to fifth with Werth sixth because the Padres don’t have a lefty in their pen. Marson gets his second start of the season behind the plate.
1-2-3 in the first.
Ibanez homered to left with one out in the second, putting the Phillies up 1-0. Werth was next and hit a ground ball to Rodriguez at short. Rodriguez’s throw to first wasn’t great. Gonzalez tried to backhand it and had it go in and out of his glove for an error. Feliz and Marson went down to leave Werth stranded.
With one out in the third and the Phils down 2-1, Rollins blooped a double to left. Victorino was next and hit a ball to first. Gonzalez fielded and flipped to Hill covering, but the flip was over Hill’s head for another error on Gonzalez. Rollins went to third and it brought up Utley with men on the corners with one out. Utley flew to right for the second out and Rollins held third. Howard drew a walk to load the bases, but Hill struck Ibanez out on a 3-2 changeup to end the inning.
Phils get nothing out of men on first and third with one out. Utley can’t bring the man in from third with one down.
The Phillies went in order in the fourth.
Myers led off the fifth and hit a ball high off the wall in right field for a double. Rollins moved him to third with a fly ball well hit to center. Victorino was next and he hit a fly to center as well. It wasn’t quite as well hit as Rollins’, but Myers tagged and scored to cut the San Diego lead to 3-2. Utley struck out for the third out.
Righty Luke Gregerson started the sixth for the Padres and Howard greeted him with a home run to left that tied the game at 3-3. Ibanez and Werth both struck out. Feliz hit a ball well to third, but Kouzmanoff made a diving play and threw to first to end the inning.
Lou Marson led off the seventh against righty Edwin Moreno and hit the first pitch from Moreno back through the middle for a single. The righty Cairo hit for Eyre against the righty and tried to bunt, of course, and popped it up for the first out. Rollins struck out swinging and Victorino popped to third.
That is wretched. Even if letting Cairo hit for the pitcher and bunt is executed successfully, I would much rather have Dobbs hitting against the righty. Especially given that San Diego has to let a righty pitch to Dobbs (or Stairs).
Duaner Sanchez started the eighth for San Diego with the Phils down a run. Utley led off and hit a 1-2 pitch just out to right, tying the game at 4-4. Howard grounded hard to second base for the first out, but Ibanez followed and laced a single to right. The Padres brought in righty Cla Meredith to try to get Werth to hit a ground ball they could turn two on. Werth did hit a ground ball, but back through the middle and into center field for a single that moved Ibanez to third. Feliz drove a ball into right that Giles took on the warning track as he ran into the corner. Giles had no chance to get Ibanez, who tagged and scored easily to put the Phillies up 5-4. Dobbs hit for Marson and grounded to third to end the inning.
Ibanez going first to third on Werth’s single helps the Phillies score a run in the inning. Great job by Feliz to drive the ball to right — it took a nice play by Giles to get an out. Not a fan of Dobbs hits for Marson with two outs and a man on first, cause I’d rather have the better defensive player catching Lidge in the ninth. It does potentially allow the Phils to let Dobbs and Stairs both hit against a righty if Dobbs gets on. I’d rather have Marson behind the plate, though, especially given that the Phillies were already winning when Dobbs hit for Marson.
Heath Bell came on to pitch the bottom of the ninth with an 8-5 lead and set the Phils down in order. Stairs hit for Durbin to start the inning, but struck out. Rollins and Victorino went down behind him.
Rollins was 1-for-5 with a double.
Victorino 0-for-4 with an RBI.
Utley 1-for-4 with his third home run of the year.
Howard 1-for-3 with a walk and his second home run.
Ibanez 2-for-4 with his fourth home run.
Feliz 0-for-3 with an RBI.
Chan Ho Park (0-0, 10.38) faces righty Josh Geer (NR) in game three of the series. Park has made one start of the year and was hit hard by the Rockies, allowing five runs over 3 1/3 innings. He made five relief appearances against the Padres for LA in 2008, allowing a run on five hits without walking a batter in seven innings (1.29 ERA and an 0.71 ratio). Geer will made his first appearance of 2009. In 2008 he started five games for San Diego, going 2-1 with a 2.67 ERA and a 1.41 ratio. Righties hit him hard in 2008 and lefties did almost nothing. Righties hit 367/415/483 against him and lefties 146/212/250. He hasn’t faced any of the Phillies.