With an ailing bullpen and struggling closer, the Phillies needed Cliff Lee to go deep into Monday’s opener against San Diego. Lee went eight plus innings, but the Phillies imploded once again, blowing a three run lead in the ninth before allowing the Padres to walk off with the 4-3 win in the tenth.
Jonathan Papelbon blew his fourth save in his last five chances, and the Phillies offense failed again to get the key hit, going 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position including 0-for-2 with the go-ahead run on third in the tenth.
It’s just the way this whole season has been going.
Another blown save for Papelbon
He was not exactly set up for success. Papelbon, who had blown three saves during the homestand, entered with nobody out and two men on base, after having only one outing this year with an inherited runner to deal with. Lee was partially to blame, and Manuel and maybe Ruiz too, but Papelbon still could not get the job done. He allowed a two-run single to Kyle Blanks, and eventually allowed the tying run to come across when Ruiz could not handle a low pitch that skipped to the back stop.
This one might not have been all Papelbon’s fault, but it was ugly just the same, and he has really been struggling.
What can you do with this bullpen?
At this point, there might not be a single pitcher in the bullpen that can be trusted to get outs. Injuries and underperformance from relievers have cost the Phillies countless games this year, and it just keeps continuing. The same guys keep trotting out and the same guys keep giving up runs. This was just a bad, bad loss.
Lee’s line doesn’t tell the whole story
Lee did allow two runs and received a no decision, but the left-hander pitched brilliantly for eight innings before allowing two basrunners in the ninth, who both eventually scored. He did not allow a hit until the fourth inning, and he scattered six hits from then until the ninth. Lee struck out seven batters for the eighth time this year, and walked one or fewer for the tenth time.
Even with the two earned runs in eight innings, Lee’s earned run average continues to drop, as he now sits at 2.51, which is good for ninth in the league.
Tomorrow, Kyle Kendrick (6-4, 3.56 ERA) will try to stop the three-game losing streak for the Phillies as he gets the ball in game two of this three game series. His counterpart will be veteran right-hander Jason Marquis (9-2, 3.59 ERA). First pitch is at 10:10 ET.