Earlier on Tuesday, Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon admitted he doesn’t read. You could have knocked everyone in the Phils’ organization over with a feather with that admission.
On the other side of the coin, there’s Justin De Fratus, another member of the much-maligned Phillies bullpen, that managed to hold off the team with the best record in baseball last night, leading the Phils to a 3-1 win over the Pirates.
But it wasn’t easy. Charlie Manuel used six bullpen arms, De Fratus, Jake Diekman, Phillippe Aumont, J.C. Ramirez, Antonio Bastardo and Papelbon, to record the last 10 outs of the game. As CSN Philly’s Ruben Frank noted, Diekman, Aumont, Ramirez and Bastardo allowed a combined six of 11 batters to reach base, but kept the Pirates off the scoreboard, allowing the Phils to get through the perilous late innings on Tuesday night in relief of starter Jonathan Pettibone.
Such is life with a bullpen comprised almost entirely of youngsters.
And afterwards, in stark contrast to Papelbon’s dumb jock persona, De Fratus was rather cerebral about the ‘pen’s efforts.
“You hear it said,” said De Fratus, “”Experience is the cruelest of teachers.’”
Or, to translate for Papelbon, “Sometimes your screw-ups can teach you some stuff.”
And De Fratus should know. He picked up the loss on in the first three Phils losses on this road trip, allowing 11 of 15 batters he faced to reach base. But last night, he was part of a very young bullpen crew that is being tested at a crucial juncture of the season.
Offensively, Ryan Howard broke an 0 for 22 slump with a huge RBI single in a three-run sixth for the Phils. Domonic Brown added a sacrifice fly, and Delmon Young knocked in Howard from first on a double to account for the Phils’ scoring.
The Phils also broke Pittsburgh’s nine-game winning streak and are now 40-44, still 9 1/2 games behind the Braves in the NL East, and 8 games behind Cincinnati for the second wild card.
Where It All Went Right
When De Fratus struck out Jordy Nelson… er… Mercer, on a 95 mph fastball with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth. That is precisely the situation in which the Phillies have lost numerous games over the last couple of years. For one night at least, the ‘pen closed the door.
The bullpen, who through smoke and mirrors, managed to keep the Pirates off the scoreboard for the last 3 1/3 innings of the game.
PNC Park, a house of horrors for the Phillies. Sure, it’s a nice enough park with pretty bridges just outside the stadium and everything, but an 11-15 record since 2005 in that building, with just one series win during that time, makes winning these next two games a daunting task.
Yeah if we stitch our bullpen together we get like one good pitcher
— Justin Klugh (@TBOHblog) July 3, 2013