2012 Game Recaps

Cover Your Eyes: Bullpen Strikes Again As Mets Sweep

Aside from pitching well, Cliff Lee also drove in a run in tonight's loss. (AP)

It must be Groundhog Day in Phillies land. We’ve seen this story before (the previous two days, as a matter of fact), but the Phillies were once again beaten by the Mets after watching the bullpen squander an early lead. Tonight, the Mets piled on, embarrassing the Phillies by a score of  10-6, but, somehow, it felt even worse than that.

Same stuff, different day:

– As our own Ian Riccaboni wrote earlier, this Phillies bullpen is bad. At this point, bad doesn’t even begin to cover it. This bullpen is putrid, porous, horrendous, pathetic, woeful, and, most of all, depressing. For the third consecutive game, a Phillies starter left the game with a lead, and for the third consecutive game, the bullpen found a way to give it back. Each night, a different pitcher is the culprit. Tonight, it was Kyle Kendrick’s turn. After allowing a run with no outs to start the seventh, Kendrick loaded the bases, and promptly plunked Lucas Duda to bring in the tying run. The Mets would have the lead for good one batter later, but that wouldn’t be the end of the damage.

– After allowing back-to-back doubles to start the eighth, Kendrick was replaced by Jose Contreras, who couldn’t stop the bleeding. After a bad fielding error by Hunter Pence, Contreras would allow a three-run home run to Ike Davis that hasn’t landed yet. So far this year, Contreras has been an enigma. In six of his nine appearances, he allowed no runs. In the other three, he’s allowed at least two runs. The Phillies were hoping Contreras would come in and stabilize the middle of the bullpen along with Qualls, but, so far, neither man has answered the bell.

– You thought April was painful with the offense not producing? This is far worse. Those games where the team wasn’t hitting were over from the start. These recent games could’ve been won by the Phillies, if only the ‘pen could hold a lead. The Phillies need to get some relievers healthy or bring in some new blood (in the form of Jake Diekman), and they need to do it fast. Pitching like this, the ‘pen could have them out of it by the summer. $50 million dollar closers who produce are nice and all, but they become irrelevant when you can’t even get the ball to them with a lead.

Clifton Phifer Lee returns:

Cliff Lee made his return from the DL, and looked very good on the mound and at the plate. Aside from driving in a run, Lee was able to throw all of his pitches, and work the strike zone. He allowed just two runs over his six innings, and, perhaps most encouraging of all, recorded six strikeouts and one walk. He also made a great play defensively in the third, dashing off the mound to field a Dillon Gee bunt, turning and firing to second to get the lead runner. To see such athleticism was a sign Lee is feeling himself.

Top of the lineup a no show:

– While I firmly believe this loss is on the shoulders of the bullpen, the ineptitude by the top of the lineup didn’t help things much. The Phillies one through four hitters went just 5-for-20, with one run and one RBI. On paper, that doesn’t look too bad, but consider that two of those hits, and both the run and RBI came in a meaningless ninth inning, and you see the true picture. Compare their effort to the bottom of the order,  which went 10-for-21. When you get that type of effort from light-hitting guys like Polanco, Mayberry, Schneider, and Galvis, you should be scoring more than five runs. But, as has been the theme with this team, they were once again unable to get everyone firing on all cylinders.

Reflections:

– Is this rock bottom? The further this team falls, the longer in the season they get without showing signs of putting it together, you have to begin to wonder when the turnaround is going to happen. Right now, I don’t even think they can see the light at the end of the tunnel. After going 11-12 through April, they’ve digressed to start the month of May, going 3-6 through their first nine games. It is still May, however–far too soon to throw in the towel. They’re just five games out of first place. This team has been in deeper holes, and faced more adversity than this. But as things go along like this, I find myself asking this question: At one point do you stop telling yourself ‘It’s still early?’

Game notes:

– The Phillies fall four games below .500 for the first time since May 9th, 2007.

– The sweep by the Mets was the first one at CBP since 2006.

– The second-inning run for New York ended a fourteen-inning scoreless streak for Cliff Lee, dating back to April 13th, a game in which he also pitched against the Mets.

– After a sorely needed off day tomorrow, the Phils will play host to the Padres over the weekend. Vance Worley will take on Clayton Richard in the first game of the series on Friday night.

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