Phils' bullpen implodes again in loss to Brewers
MILWAUKEE – If nothing else, Phillies officials have gotten a look at some 2013 bullpen candidates the last couple of days.
It hasn’t been pretty.
One day after allowing six eighth-inning runs to turn a close game into a rout on Sunday, the Phillies’ bullpen imploded again in a 7-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers on Thursday night (see Instant Replay)
Despite allowing three solo homers, Cliff Lee pitched well and went to the showers with a 4-3 lead with two outs and a man on second in the bottom of the eighth inning. The runner reached base on a throwing error by third baseman Kevin Frandsen. With NL home run leader Ryan Braun due up in a one-run game, manager Charlie Manuel removed Lee from the game.
“We’re going with the righthander,” he told Lee at the mound.
Lee couldn’t argue with the move. Braun had already taken him deep twice in the game to improve to 8 for 16 (three homers) lifetime against Lee.
“It made sense,” Lee said of the move.
If the Phils were in a pennant race, Manuel might have gone to Jonathan Papelbon for a four-out save attempt. But there’s no pennant race this August. The Phillies have holes to fill for 2013 and they’re trying to evaluate potential solutions. That’s why Manuel brought in Josh Lindblom, who was acquired from the Dodgers at the trade deadline for Shane Victorino.
Lindblom has struggled since joining his new club. His problems reached a painful crescendo on Thursday night. He fell behind Braun and eventually had to walk him intentionally. He walked Aramis Ramirez on four pitches to load the bases. That brought up Corey Hart, three times a strikeout victim against Lee.
Lindblom actually got ahead of Hart with two strikes, but couldn’t put him away. Hart got a 2-2 fastball out over the plate and lofted it over the right-field wall just out of the reach of Domonic Brown.
Another good effort from Lee – no walks, 12 Ks, but three solo homers – wasted.
Another flunked test by a bullpen hopeful.
“That whole inning, I wasn’t aggressive,” said Lindblom, who has allowed six earned runs in five innings since joining the Phils. “I haven’t made pitches. I haven’t executed pitches. No excuses. I haven’t done that since I came here.”
Relievers Lindblom, Michael Schwimer, B.J. Rosenberg and Raul Valdes have allowed nine runs in the eighth inning the last two games.
“The last couple of days, we haven’t gotten it done,” Manuel said. “That’s also growing pains.”
Manuel will keep sending Lindblom out there. Rosenberg and Schwimer, too. It’s time to find out who can handle a bullpen job next season and who can’t.
“When we got him, we wanted him to pitch in the seventh and eighth,” Manuel said of Lindblom. “We like his arm. He’s got talent. We have to give him a chance to pitch.”
Three earned runs were charged to Lindblom in the inning. The runs will go down as unearned against the team because of Frandsen’s error.
Frandsen, also up from the minors on a late-season audition, visited both ends of the spectrum on this night. His three-run double in the fifth gave the Phils a 4-3 lead which Lee protected nicely. His error opened the door for everything to unravel.
Manuel said he went to his bullpen because he wanted Lee to leave on a good note. Home runs happen, especially against strike throwers like Lee. At least the three that he allowed were solo shots.
Regardless, Lee wasn’t happy about giving up the longballs. He’s allowed seven in two starts against Milwaukee.
“It was one of those games,” Lee said. “We had twice as many hits as they did (12-6), but their pitchers were able to keep the ball in the park and we weren’t. Braun hit two homers off me. We’ve got to do a better job keeping the ball in the park.”
E-mail Jim Salisbury at firstname.lastname@example.org