Monday, September 7, 2009

I am Genuinely Concerned

The Phillies' bullpen blew another one today, meaning that the Astros swept the series from the Phils. The Phillies should have taken two out of four from the 'Stros, and they have their bullpen to blame for the two losses.

J. A. Happ strained an oblique and was unable to go today, so Jamie Moyer got a start and gave the Phillies six quality innings, giving up only two runs on a homer by Hunter Pence. It was a quality start by true professional, who not only has been ready to go whenever called upon, but who has really pitched well since being bumped from the starting rotation in favor of Pedro Martinez.

The Phils scored three runs today. Ryan Howard drove in 2 of them, with a solo homer and an RBI single. Raul Ibanez, whose bat seems to be waking up after a hellacious slump, also had a solo homer, his 28th of the year, immediately after Howard's homer. Both Chase Utley and Shane Victorino played today despite being banged up, but Utley contributed nothing, going 0-4 with a strikeout, as his slump continues. Victorino went 1-5 and scored a run with a sore knee.

And then Chan Ho Park, who has been fairly reliable out of the pen, walked in the losing run in the 7th inning in a poor performance where he gave up 2 hits and 3 walks in just 1/3 of an inning, wasting Moyer's fine start and robbing the team of an opportunity to chalk up a win when it needed one. That's Park in the photo, reacting to his walking in the winning run. He should be disgusted with his awful performance today. Brett Myers pitched a shutout inning in a mop-up appearance.

I am genuinely concerned about two things: (a) the general lack of reliability emanating from the Phillies' bullpen and (b) the lack of meaningful offensive production. The combination of the bats going cold and the generally poor performances out of the 'pen mean that the relievers aren't holding the skinny leads they're being given, and then the offense sputters and cannot come from behind. It's cost the team at least three wins in the past seven days, and it's not acceptable.

I don't know what the solution is, but Ruben Amaro and Charlie Manuel need to figure it out much sooner than later. Not surprisingly, Charlie unloaded on his team after the game, and rightfully so. Let's hope that the message got through....

The Phils' lead has shrunk to 6 and the magic number remains stuck at 22. There are only 27 regular season games remaining for this team get itself straightened out and back on track.

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