Phillies Pen Strikes Again
The Phillies did everything wrong in this game: bad defense, no offense to speak of, the starter ruined an otherwise good performance by walking the bases loaded with no outs before they pulled him and the bullpen blew the lead again. End result: Phillies lose to the Cubs again, 3-2. Home plate umpire, Bill Welke had a bad game as well. His strike zone was consistently inconsistent. The rest of the crew blew several calls in the field too, including calling Ryan Howard out in the 7th when he was safe and it cost the Phillies a run. I am not sure what kind of benefits these umpires get, but I hope the League will invest in a comprehensive vision plan…these guys all need glasses!
Umpiring aside, it is going to be very difficult to win games when you are only managing to get 6 hits in a game, and 2 of those were from Pat Burrell, who has been struggling. Every Phillies player who stepped to the plate today looked like they were swinging at a single grain of rice. They just couldn’t find the ball. The offense as a whole struck out 9 times and left 10 men on base. Maybe the team should join Bill Welke and his umpiring crew on their way to the Eye Doctor; they can all get matching glasses.
Add to this, the bullpen blew ANOTHER lead! Right about now, I am really missing Tom Gordon. He had his issues, but last year in late August and September, he stepped it up and took care of business. Clay Condrey should never be put into close games like this; he just hasn’t been able to avoid the long ball and today, Alfonso Soriano took him deep to give the Cubs the lead. Scott Eyre came in earlier in the 6th to take over after Joe Blanton walked the bases loaded with no outs and I was expecting better out of him. He walked the first batter he faced, walking a run in and tying up the game. Eyre had a great chance to show up his former team and he failed miserably. Blanton was solid through the previous 5 innings, giving up only 1 run, but the 3 walks in the 6th really put the Phillies in an awful jam, and Eyre could not get out of it.
Charlie Manuel spoke on the radio before today’s game and said essentially that he does not feel like he has anyone who can pitch the 8th inning. He talked about how the 8th is so much different than the 6th or 7th innings. I’m sorry, what exactly is the BIG difference? If your job is to get 3 outs, it should not matter what inning it is; just get the outs. What this tells me is that we have a bullpen full of guys who cannot handle pressure. Because that is the only real difference with the 8th inning: pressure. And that goes back to a point I made several days ago – these coaches have to stop babying these pitchers! Let them develop a backbone because if they can’t deal with pressure, they can’t pitch in the major leagues. And as for Charlie’s 8th inning dilemma, just hand it over to JC Romero and be done with it. If he knows ahead of time that he is the 8th inning guy, he will perform. He is the one guy in that pen that can definitely handle the stress. The only time you see Romero get really frustrated is when he gets put in for one batter and knows he won’t be allowed to finish the inning. This guy wants to prove himself and he wants to pitch – let him have the 8th!
Best we can hope for now is a split with the Cubs, but even that seems like a very tall mountain to climb with the way this team is going. Here’s hoping…
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