It was bound to happen sooner or later, probably sooner, and now it has. After a fantastic start, the bullpen finally came up empty yesterday and with an exclamation point. The starting pitching has been a problem for the Phils. Roy Halladay has been magnificent early, but pretty much everyone else in the rotation has either been not good enough or not long enough or both. Yesterday their starter couldn’t go six innings yet again and the Phils took a 4-1 lead into the seventh inning. The pen surrendered six runs in the last three innings.
The problem is that impressive as the 7-1 start was for the Phillies, their formula for winning was flawed. It was mediocre starting pitching, strong work from the bullpen and scoring about eight runs a game. The issue with that is their starting pitching is better than mediocre, their bullpen is weak and as good as their offense is they aren’t going to score eight runs a game. They also aren’t going to play the Nationals and Astros every game.
So while that may have worked to start the season, and may work for short sprints, they’re going to need to come up with something else. I feel pretty good about their chances.
The Phillies are 7-2 on the season after losing to the Washington Nationals 7-5 yesterday.
Happ got the start for the Phillies and went 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run on three hits and six walks. The run was unearned. One of the hits went for extra-bases, a double. He walked six and didn’t strike out anyone. He keeps his 0.00 ERA for the season, but with a 1.65 ratio in just 10 1/3 innings pitched over two starts. The Phillies need him to pitch deeper into games, starting really soon.
He walked Nyjer Morgan on five pitches to start the game. Ian Desmond was next and he hit a ball slowly to Utley. Utley made a great play, flipping to Castro to start the double-play that cleared the bases. Just for a minute, though, cause Cristian Guzman followed and he walked, too. Adam Dunn hammered the ball, but Howard picked it nicely and beat Dunn to the bag to end the frame.
Happ was up 1-0 when he started the second. Josh Willingham led off and flew to right for the first out. Rodriguez was next and he doubled to left. Justin Maxwell followed and walked on five pitches, putting men on first and second with one out. Alberto Gonzalez grounded to Howard for the second out, moving the runners up a base. It brought up the pitcher Scott Olsen with two outs and men on second and third. Happ got him on a popup to third to leave the runners stranded.
Happ walked Morgan again to start the third. He picked him off, too, with the throw going to Howard, but Howard threw the ball away for an error. Desmond bunted Morgan to third with the first out. Guzman brought Morgan home from third with a ground out to short, tying the game at 1-1. Dunn singled to left before Happ got Willingham to pop to second for the third out.
This gig probably involves a lot more backing up throws to second base than Ibanez had anticipated. Howard is really awful at throwing the ball to second. Anywhere else, too, probably, but you don’t get to see that quite as often. Four walks in three innings for Happ, two to lead off an inning.
Happ walked Maxwell with one out in the fourth, but got Gonzalez and the pitcher behind him to leave him stranded at first.
Morgan led off the fifth with a single to center, but Desmond popped to second for the first out and Guzman hit into a double-play.
At least he didn’t walk that time.
Dunn led off the sixth and Polanco made a fantastic catch near the stands with his back to home plate for the first out. Willingham was next and Happ walked him. Happ had thrown 97 pitches in the game and Manuel called on Contreras to pitch to the righty Rodriguez with one out and a man on first. Willingham stole second as the count went 0-2 on Rodriguez. Contreras struck out Rodriguez and Maxwell behind him to leave Willingham stranded.
Golly. Contreras has had an amazing start to the season. One hit in 3 2/3 innings while striking out six.
That was pretty much the end of the good day for the pen, though.
Bastardo started the seventh with a 4-1 lead. Gonzalez led off with a single and moved to second on a ground out by Harris. Morgan flew to left for the second out, but Desmond followed with a single that scored Gonzalez. 4-2. Guzman flew to left for the third out.
Bastardo was pitching having thrown 19 pitches the day before. On April 7 he threw one pitch and came back the next day to throw eight, which was the first time in his career he had thrown on back-to-back days.
On the other hand, Baez has thrown back-to-back days and it didn’t help him any. Dunn started the seventh with a homer. 4-3. Baez struck out Willingham, but then walked Rodriguez. Righty Ryan Zimmerman hit for the pitcher Tyler Clippard and homered to right. 5-4 Nats. Baez struck out Gonzalez for the second out and walked Harris. Harris stole second before Morgan grounded to second.
Madson pitched the ninth. Desmond led off with a single and stole second. Guzman struck out for the first out and Dunn moved Desmond to third with a ground out for the second. Willingham walked and Willy Tavares ran for him and stole second. Rodriguez hit a two-run single that put Washington up 7-4 before Madson struck out Capps to end the frame.
Baez threw 31 pitches and Madson 26. Bastardo 17 after 19 the day before and Contreras nine. Plus a long day in long relief for Figueroa in Wednesday’s game in which he threw 54 pitches.
Thank goodness for Roy Halladay. But while you can count on him to be very, very good, we shouldn’t be counting on him to be perfect every time.
The Phillies lineup against lefty Scott Olsen went (1) Victorino (2) Polanco (3) Utley (4) Howard (5) Werth (6) Ibanez (7) Castro (8) Ruiz. Werth returns to the lineup after missing a game with his hip.
Victorino pounded a ball to left to start the bottom of the first, but Willingham took it on the track for the first out. Polanco grounded to third for the second, but Utley was next and delivered yet another home run to put the Phils up 1-0. Howard grounded to Guzman at second to end the inning.
The Phillies went in order in the second on ground outs by Werth and Ibanez and a strikeout by Castro.
The game was tied at 1-1 when the Phillies hit in the third. Ruiz led off and ripped a double to left. Happ was next and bunted the ball to first. Dunn fielded and threw to third where Ruiz was tagged out for the first out. Victorino flew to left and Polanco grounded to short.
Phils can’t execute the sacrifice and it means they don’t score after the leadoff double.
Werth walked with two outs in the fourth, but Ibanez struck out behind him.
Castro started the bottom of the fifth with a single. Ruiz struck out behind him. Happ bunted successfully this time, moving Castro to second with two down, but Victorino flew to right to end the inning.
Polanco singled to start the sixth. Utley struck out for the first out. Howard flew out to Morgan in left center field for the second out. Werth walked, putting men on first and second for Ibanez. Ibanez walked too and the bases were loaded for Castro. Castro delivered a single into right, scoring Polanco and Werth to put the Phillies up 3-1. Castro took second when the ball dribbled away from Rodriguez, giving the Phillies men on second and third. Righty Tyler Clippard took over for Olsen and walked Ruiz intentionally. Dobbs hit for Contreras and walked, forcing in Ibanez. 4-1. Victorino grounded to second to end the inning.
I was surprised to see Olsen stay in to pitch to the righty Castro. Surprised to see Castro stay in to hit after he did, too.
Howard doubled with two outs in the seventh and the Phils up 4-2. Werth struck out swinging to leave him at second.
The Phillies were down 5-4 when they hit in the eighth. Lefty Sean Burnett got Ibanez to ground out for the first out. Righty Matt Capps came in to pitch to the righty Castro and Castro popped up a ball that landed right behind Guzman and in front of Willie Harris for a single. Ruiz grounded to third for the second out, with Castro moving to second. Wilson Valdez ran for Castro at second as the tying run. Gload hit for Baez and flew to right to leave Valdez stranded.
Victorino led off the ninth with a homer off of Capps that cut the Washington lead to 7-5. Polanco followed with a single. Utley struck out, Howard flew softly to left and Werth flew softly to center to end the game.
If you’re going to have three chances to tie the game you can’t do much better than Utley and Howard against a righty with Werth behind them.
Victorino was 1-for-5 with a home run in the game and left five men on base. 5-for-14 with a triple and a home run in the series. 244/279/512 for the season after nine games.
Polanco was 2-for-5 yesterday and 6-for-13 with a double in the series. 475/477/650.
Utley 1-for-5 with his fifth home run of the year yesterday. 4-for-12 with four home runs and seven RBI in the series. 343/477/829 on the year. He’s on pace to hit 90 home runs and drive in 198 runs.
Howard was 1-for-5 yesterday. 5-for-14 with two doubles in the series. 357/386/738. His strikeouts are way down so far this year and so are his walks. After nine games he’s on pace to walk 36 times and strike out 90. Not likely. If he’s going to hit 357/386/738 it will be just peachy if he never walks. He’s not, though.
Werth was 0-for-3 yesterday. 1-for-6 with three walks in the set. 323/421/452 on the year.
Ibanez was 0-for-3 yesterday and 1-for-10 with two walks in the series. 206/310/294 for the year. He had a 3-for-4 day on April 9 against the Astros. Eliminating that game he’s 4-for-30 (.133) with a double on the year.
Castro was 3-for-4 with huge hit and two RBI yesterday. He’s 4-for-12 with a double on the season.
Ruiz 1-for-4 with a double yesterday and 2-for-8 with a double and four more walks in the series. 273/467/318 on the season with one extra-base hit, yesterday’s double. He’s on pace to walk 144 times this year. Only one player on the team has more walks than his eight — Utley has walked nine times but has gotten 14 more plate appearances than Ruiz.
Dobbs was 1-for-3 with a double and a walk in the series. 1-for-6 with two walks so far.
Francisco was 0-for-3 in the series and is 0-for-4 on the year.
Roy Halladay (2-0, 0.56) faces righty Anibal Sanchez (0-0, 6.00) tonight as the Phils play the first of three against the Fish at home. Halladay has been fantastic to start the year. Sanchez gave up four runs in six innings against the Dodgers in his only start of the season.
The Start Log is updated. Phils still looking for a quality start from someone other than Halladay. Also, each of the five pitchers who have started a game for the Phillies have gotten an average of at least 6.5 runs scored per game from the Phillie offense in their starts. The Phillies are on pace to score 1,242 runs this season. That might not even happen.
Next update to Philliesflow will be next week.