New Lineup, Same Old Bullpen – Phillies Nation
2012 Game Recaps

New Lineup, Same Old Bullpen

Chase Utley with shades of Joe Dimaggio in 1949, homering in his first at-bat of the season following an injury. (AP)

Not even the return of Chase Utley could save the Phillies tonight, as the team fell to the Pirates 11-7 behind a hapless effort from the bullpen–a unit which has been the Achilles heel all season.


-Two out, nobody on, 2-2 count. Chase Utley stands in the box for his first at-bat of the 2012 season. Moments before, he came to the plate to a loud ovation. James McDonald stares in for the sign. The battery mates agree on a curve ball. McDonald unleashes the hook, and it loops towards the plate. Off his shoulder, Utley’s bat moves effortlessly through the zone with the swiftness of a mongoose. Like a pendulum on its upswing, the barrel of the bat strikes the quickly dropping curve, launching it deep into the Philadelphia night. The ball would land on the other side of the right field fence, and the crowd would erupt in exultation.  In one fell swoop, Utley had announced his return to the Phillies lineup. Screen writers dream of  plots with this much electricity.

– Utley finished up the night going 3-for-5. His three hits included the homer and an infield single. He also put a two good charges into balls, lining both deep to center for outs. These were all encouraging signs. Utley showed power and speed, which suggests his legs feel just fine. At least for now.


– Not to be outdone by the first inning heroics of his teammate playing second, Carlos Ruiz would follow up Utley’s home run with a bomb of his own to give the Phillies a 2-0 lead.  The solo shot was a good reminder to everyone of just what Ruiz has been doing all season long. The fact that he likely won’t start in the All Star game is a crime.

– Following the back-to-back home runs, the Bank was buzzing, and it briefly felt like the Phillies of the last five years could be on their way back. That feeling was fleeting.


-The euphoria of Utley and Ruiz’s back-to-back home runs was powerful, but short-lived. In desperate need for a shutdown inning to capitalize on a ton of momentum, Raul Valdes did just the opposite, allowing a go-ahead, three-run home run to Mike McKenry with two outs and the pitcher on deck. With a base open, there’s no way you want to make a mistake in that spot.  It would be downhill from there. As quickly as the Phils had taken the lead, the Pirates had taken it back, and the realization that the bullpen would likely make this game difficult to win set in.

– Here the breakdown:

– You look at those stats, and you can’t help but question just what Phillies management was thinking allowing the bullpen to take this game. This is a unit that came into the night with a 4.46 ERA. That’s 24th in baseball. They’ve been that bad, and they’ve thrown the second fewest innings  in baseball (189.2). They stink when they’re not even overworked. How can you justify trusting them with nine innings? The answer is simple: You can’t. The effort also magnified the Phillies’ need to add an arm out there if they’re going to compete.


Down 8-2 with a bullpen rapidly leaking oil, the Phillies looked cooked. Earlier in the season, when the Phillies got down in a game, they seemed certain to lose. But tonight took on a different feel. There has been discussion about the intangibles Utley brings to the lineup–the leadership and presence he exudes are qualities that are second to none. For the first time in a long time, the Phils had some fight in them. The offense seemed calm and collected as they slowly chipped away, getting the Pirates’ lead down to 8-7 with two on and nobody out in the seventh. Consecutive strikeouts by Pence, Victorino, and Thome would end the threat. The comeback fell short, but I found myself believing it was possible. That’s something that hasn’t happened much this season. It wouldn’t matter because Qualls gave up three runs in the eighth.


– Sure, the bullpen got roughed up, but the offense showed tenacity and moxie in Utley’s first game back. They showed fight for the first time this season. If the Phillies have a starting pitcher for this game, they probably win it and are looking at a potential sweep of the second place Pirates.


-The good news keeps rolling in for the Phillies as the team announced Ryan Howard will begin a rehab assignment in Lakewood tomorrow. He’ll DH.

-The Phils go for the series victory tomorrow when Kyle Kendrick takes the mound. Hey, at least it’s a starter.

Click to comment


  1. grismundo

    June 27, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Qualls is a worthless P.O.S. The biggest goat of them all.


    June 27, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Q!ualls has no balls He stinks.

  3. Lefty

    June 27, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Joe Savery has been optioned, corresponding move?

  4. Andrew from Waldorf

    June 27, 2012 at 11:23 pm

    Really a new line up? LOL

    Utley may yet be salvagable. Although I see some serious hard times coming up.
    I dont get Manuel.
    In 25 years if he is still managing the Phillies and Utley is playing he hits 3rd?
    No matter if he hasnt had a hit in 12 years.
    He hit .159 in the minors and then he hits 3rd in the majors a day later?

    I know tonight it worked out as far as Utley goes. But its the whole mentality.
    Charlie cant have “guys” anymore. He needs to manage to win games by any means necessary and with any available player.

    The dysfunction is orginazational.
    I bet Chase would like to ease back in the line up but he wont be able to.

    It wont be Howards fault when he comes back. And cant even run at all. Hypotheticly he could hit .159 in his rehab stint and be penciled in 4th. His contrat also is 0% his fault. Its the orginazations.

    Its not Halladays fault Charlie will throw his arm out when he comes back from his injury.

    The orginazation needs to change.

    I do still think there is a chance this year.
    Do need the changes.
    But you need to win games like tonights if they were ever going to mount some type of run.
    But he wont be able to. And Howard can hit .

    • Ryan Dinger

      June 28, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Not only was this the first time in 2012 that the Phillies used this particular lineup, it was the first time in the history of the franchise they used this particular lineup. That’s pretty much the textbook definition of the word “new.”

  5. Lefty

    June 27, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    Bullpen guys not available tomorrow: Better pray for a CG from KK
    Not available-
    Valdes – 43 pitches tonight
    Savery – 53 pitches tonight – optioned
    Qualls – 35 pitches tonight

    Doubtful, but maybe be available tomorrow:
    Diekman – 13 pitches tonight, pitched in 3 out of last 4 games.
    Schwimer 26 pitches tonight and 5 pitches Tues., 31 pitches last 2 games.
    Bastardo – 10 pitches Tues., 14 tonight, 24 last 2 games

    Available tomorrow:
    Papelbon – 20 pitches Tues.

    • Ryne Duren

      June 27, 2012 at 11:34 pm

      the good news lefty is KK pitching tomorrow! he’ll get 45 pitches before he’s toast! then it’s back to the pen. ruin the rest of them for the next series! i can’t believe they didn’t try cloyd! their reasoning was from what i read was he pitced on sat or sun and would be on short rest! duhhhh! i would have tried him and told HIM gimme 4-5 innings or 60 pitches then go to the pen! valdez is a decent pitcher but not more than an inning or two. they could have used him for an inning then bastardo, diekman then pap. but nooo we get savory, schwimmer and qualls. whew

  6. Andrew from Waldorf

    June 27, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Also no Utley tomorrow.

    Maybe the old man should have saved his debut.
    When the adrenaline would be pumping for a winnable game?

    Paplebomb can go 2 or 3 innings.
    Sutter and Fingers and Goaasage did it all the time.

  7. bacardipr

    June 28, 2012 at 12:04 am

    I dont think Papelbon will go 3 innings Andrew. Im not sure what they will do with the bullpen. Maybe one will emerge but these are the growing pains of putting up minor leaguers in the MLB. Most will suck some will suck but be a work in progress and eventually make the adjustments need to pitch to a MLB hitters. Defratus was probably one of those guys but unfortunately he is still trying to rehab. Ramirez has been mediocre in the minors.

  8. Andrew from Waldorf

    June 28, 2012 at 12:14 am

    I know he wont go 3. I hope to god ( Donald M. Wheeler) the old man wont put him in more than 1 inning.
    No matter what.
    If anyone would ever use a closer 3 innnings in 2012 it would be Charlie though.

    They need to win games. Regardless of what it takes and regardless of a top 3 MVP standing in the middle of the last decade.

  9. bacardipr

    June 28, 2012 at 12:31 am

    AFW you know what will follow the next game after a good offensive game…The bats usually get cold…Hoping thats not the case, but for the past 2-3 years it seems thats usually the case..

  10. Andrew from Waldorf

    June 28, 2012 at 12:54 am

    Bottom line they need to start winning some games.
    Dig up Babe Ruth or Mike Schmidt or Ryan howard.
    What does it matter?

    Good teams win games.
    Bad teams lose them.

    Now reading Smchenk and Pat and Donald say how great it is?


    • Don M

      June 28, 2012 at 10:29 am

      reading us say how great what is?

  11. psujoe

    June 28, 2012 at 1:41 am

    Too many to go over all the personnel mistakes. However, 4 BP arms down Contreras, Stutes, Herndon and Defratus you have to get help if you expect to win, period.

    I love the bench signings if they were on the bench. Pierre, Fontenot, .. However, trading Valdez for a BP arm you don’t use when 4 guys are out for the season is absolutely stupid. Martinez can’t hit, we know it, RAJ knows it and ever Manager in MLB knows it

    WTF. One of the worst BPs in the majors who cn’t close out 2 innings are expected to pitch 9? Fire whoever made that decision, they’re incompetant.

    Quales blows. I know it, you know it and every major league manager knows it. However, so does the rest of the BP.

    How do the Phillies let Dave Duncan go to the Nats. Doobs is good, but Duncan is a master,

    Not giving up, but starting Valdez indicates to me that RAJ/Mnuel did.

  12. artemis

    June 28, 2012 at 4:57 am

    OK I take back what I posted earlier here. The first person they should sell or trade is not Blanton but Qualls !

  13. Bob Myers

    June 28, 2012 at 6:54 am

    It almost seems like they decided winning this game was not a priority when they went with this trainwreck of a bullpen. They should have brought someone up to pitch. Now our bull pen, in addition to not being good when rested will really be tattered and torn for the next several days, unless Kyle comes up with a complete game shut out.

    I think there’s still hope in the wild card chase, but I’d like to see a little urgency from Charlie in who gets to pitch, and in not going to Qualls in tight situations, or sending Qualls down for anyone. If we had Wilson Valdez, I’d prefer starting him than what we had last night!

    • George

      June 28, 2012 at 7:46 am

      I’ve mentioned before that I think Manuel is extremely limited in pitching choices. Qualls almost has to pitch because there’s nobody else, particularly last night, when nearly the entire pen had already been used. Also, some of the pitching choices are influenced by Dubee, who really doesn’t have any choices, either.

      As far as who starts, the only other options were in the minors, and the only real options there would have been pitching on short rest. Last night’s game was clearly out of Manuel’s hands; he’s not the one in charge of who pitched the past few days at Lehigh Valley.

      It will be interesting to see who replaces Savery. With the tired bullpen, maybe today will be the day Cloyd gets his shot, with Kendrick as a reliever. Cloyd would be on normal rest.

      It’s probably not going to happen, though. I expect some disaster like Rosenberg.

  14. Jeff

    June 28, 2012 at 7:12 am

    Andrew your an a s s hole. You really are. Thank god I stopped with
    This site and the phillies. Let’s bat the aweful pence third.
    No maybe mike f. No the terrible Vic. Shut up you loser.

  15. Brooks

    June 28, 2012 at 7:40 am

    It was everything you could hope for when Utley came to bat for the first time, the crowd was frenzied and it could not have been scripted better (OK, Pierre not getting thrown out would have helped). Choochie following up with his solo shot seemed to send a message that was quickly drowned out by the starting pitcher. The next messages were a pleasant and welcome surprise as the Phils scored 2 in the bottom of the 6th and 3 in the bottom of the 7th – taking the bat out of Diekmans hands was necessary even though he tossed one of the few 1-2-3 innings vs the Bucs – a come back! Holy moly an honest to goodness bunch of runs after the 5th inning that made it a ballgame! Men on 2nd and 1rst with nobody out, 3 runs already in and the middle of the lineup coming to bat only to go 1-2-3 after that.. meh – the point is there was some juice in the crowd while the Phils were behind and they looked serious. Short lived, not even enough time to enjoy the lead as no-balls Qualls giving up 3 in the top of the 8th – that is when we left.

    Exciting game, great time but still, a loss.

  16. Bob in Bucks

    June 28, 2012 at 8:30 am

    I was at the game and the crowd was juices. But unless Howard and Utley pitch it will not save the season.. injuries to BP plus bad signing of Qualls are not managers decision.

  17. Dave

    June 28, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Here’s Charlie’s comments following last night’s loss. “We felt like going in with what we have starting for us in the minor leagues, this might give us more flexibility, if that makes sense, in what we wanted to achieve,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “It kind of backfired. We got lit up.”

    Now we have Kendrick losing tonight’s game and we’re back to the same deficit. Pathetic!

    • "Big Ed" Delahanty

      June 28, 2012 at 11:54 am

      I know this season has been injury city, but this is the kind of thinking that has helped us to a pitiful start. Fix the bullpen Rube! Bring up Cloyd, and give him a chance as a starter, or long reliever, until Doc Halladay returns. God, I’m still fired up from last night’s poor planning that killed a Phil’s win, Chase’s awesome return, and our first real old school rally.

      • Manny

        June 28, 2012 at 12:25 pm

        That is so true. Poor planning hurt us last night… hopefully the new-found momentum is still there.

  18. George

    June 28, 2012 at 10:45 am

    The Phils have called up Sanches. Even though I expected Rosenberg, it’s pretty much as I figured: another terrible arm for the bullpen. It’s about time for a bullpen upgrade, instead of a bullpen upchuck.

    Amaro needs to do something immediately, instead of waiting to make a trade. Even some of the pitchers recently released by other teams would probably be better than what the Phils have now.

  19. Stevie M

    June 28, 2012 at 11:56 am

    You have an experienced MLB starter like Elarton in Lehigh Valley, why dont you bring up and see if he can give you some quality innings, the bullpen by committee last night was ridiculous.

  20. schmenkman

    June 28, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Phillies Designate Chad Qualls for Assignment, Promote LHP Jeremy Horst from Triple-A

    • Chuck A.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:18 pm

      Here’s hoping that Horst can prove RAJ right by making that trade for Wilson Valdez.

      • Manny

        June 28, 2012 at 12:36 pm

        Not holding my breath.. his WHIP is a whopping 1.59, 4.23 BB/9… and even though his ERA is 2.11, his FIP is 4.11…

        The one guy I really wanna see at some point this season is De Fratus.. now THAT would help our pen.

    • Lefty

      June 28, 2012 at 12:55 pm

      Qualls DFA’d?

      There is a god.

      • artemis

        June 29, 2012 at 1:03 am

        I thought the same thing when I read the news. The baseball gods must have read my earlier post to get rid of Qualls asap! I’m not sure of what to plead the gods next, take out Blanton or Kendrick or Bastardo…

  21. GM

    June 28, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    The major issue with promoting a starter from the minors for last night’s game is the 40 man roster. It seems like a lot of posters don’t understand how it works, but to put it simply, if a pitcher wasn’t on the 40 man roster, they would need to expose someone to waivers (or possibly 60 day DL). Had they made the decision to DFA Qualls a day earlier, this may have been a realistic possibility, but they probably won’t drop any of the young arms so quickly.

    • Manny

      June 28, 2012 at 12:49 pm

      They could still get creative… for example, moving Stutes or Herndon to the 60 day DL or something. Expose Martinez to waivers… honestly, who’s gonna grab him? And if they do, so what?

      • Lefty

        June 28, 2012 at 1:00 pm

        Agreed, and once they knew that Friday’s game was rained out, rescheduled for Sunday, they should have made sure Elarton and/or Cloyd skipped their starts and threw BP’s instead. Very poor planning, I’m disappointed in the F.O. and Charlie about this.

  22. Dave

    June 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Agreed Lefty. There’s never only ONE option.

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    July 5, 2012 at 6:40 am

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