In the offseason, the Phillies paid Jonathan Papelbon $50 million to close out baseball games for the franchise. And in a bullpen that is more flammable than a box of oily rags sitting next to a stack of old newspapers, Papelbon has been the lone arm that manager Charlie Manuel can fully trust.
Which Manuel did last night, asking his closer to secure a five-out save in the Phils’ much-need 8-5 win in Colorado.
Manuel has been criticized a lot this year for his use of Papelbon. Or, to be more accurate, his lack of use of Papelbon. Charlie has resisted using him for more than just a three-out save, instead trying to make through the 7th and 8th innings with Chad Qualls, Antonio Bastardo, and last night, Jake Diekman and Brian Sanches.
Last night, the rookie left-hander Diekman entered the 8th with a comfortable 6-2 lead. But after a hit batter and a walk with one out, Manuel called for right-hander Sanches to face the Rockies’ rookie catcher, Wilin Rosario.
It didn’t work out. Rosario hit a bomb to left-center field, closing the gap to 6-5.
Finally, Charlie had seen enough.
Papelbon came on, shut the door, and for just the second time in 13 games, the Phillies had themselves a victory.
Phils’ starter Vance Worley was very good once again, and for one night at least, the Phils offense delivered in the clutch, thanks to a three-run, first inning homer by Carlos Ruiz that gave the Phils an early 4-0 lead. The Phils also got a huge two-out, two-run double from Worley, and two big tack-on runs in the ninth inning that gave Papelbon some cushion to close out the game.
But it was Papelbon’s five-out save that really saved the Phillies on Saturday night.
Perhaps that’s why they call it a “save.”