Aug 17, 2012, 1:54 AM EST
In reality, this wasn’t any more or less deflating than Wednesday afternoon, or essentially every other occasion over the course of the 2012 season for that matter. Yet somehow, each time the bullpen crumbles when the game is on the line still seems to sting the same as the last. That’s saying something considering how long the Phillies have been out of the playoff picture, and how accusomted we’ve become these performances.
Groundhog Day continued on Thursday, this time with the Fightins ahead, clinging to a one-run lead. Cliff Lee got touched for a few dingers early on, including a pair by reigning NL MVP Ryan Braun, but he was in front after 7.2 innings. A Kevin Frandsen throwing error kept him from going eight. With Braun walking to the plate, and Lee at 111 pitches, Charlie Manuel made the call to the bullpen.
Three batters later, Josh Lindblom served up a grand slam to Corey Hart, along with it a 7-4 Brewers victory.
Acquired in the deal that sent Shane Victorino to Los Angeles, Lindblom entered the game and promptly walked Braun and Aramis Ramirez — who also homered — on nine total pitches. His caution was understandable given the lumber at the plate, but the fish weren’t biting. Lindblom then went up 0-2 on Hart, and again couldn’t get the batter to chase before he finally grooved the 2-2. Dom Brown nearly managed to bring it back, but he mistimed his jump ever so slightly, the impact from his mid-air collision with the wall apparently breaking his concentration.
While it’s easy to explain why Charlie wouldn’t want his laboring starter to go another round with Braun, despite the fact that Lee struck him out last time around, the decision to go to the pen will surely be scrutinized. Maybe more so, choosing not to turn to Jonathan Papelbon when the situation continued heading south will surely be second guessed.
Lee was on the hook for three earned off of five hits to go with a stellar zero walks and 12 K’s. Lindblom earned his first lost in a Phillies uniform, and falls to 2-3 on the year. Since joining the club, he’s surrendered six earned runs in five innings over seven appearances for a 10.80 ERA.
The Phils trailed 3-1 until the top of the fifth when Frandsen unloaded with a two-out, bases-loaded double to pull in front. Frandsen was 3-for-5 and raised his batting average to .333, though his throwing error loomed large on an otherwise nice evening. Rickie Weeks slapped a sharp ground ball to third which Frandsen dug out nicely, but he had to hurry and the throw was off line, which allowed the runner to advance to second.
Ryan Howard also had three hits, as well as an RBI in the third. In a Jimmy Rollins update, Howard’s RBI was set up by the beleaguered shortstop, who was hustling all the way from what I could tell. He stole second and third, and Piece drove him home.
In the end, all of it doesn’t amount to much one way or the other, but it certainly leaves a bad taste in your mouth to see them lose the same ways for the same reasons night after night. Then again, that’s basically the story of 2012.
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