It almost seemed like the Phillies had stabilized their late inning situation. There had been signs that even though middle relief was a continuing issue, maybe, just maybe, the late innings weren’t going to be quite so precarious anymore.
So much for that.
Mike Adams got his first opportunity of the season to pitch in the eighth inning with a lead. It took him only two batters to lose it as Denard Span doubled, stole a base, and then scored on Anthony Rendon‘s single.
Jake Diekman came in to try to settle things down, and the book on Diekman is that he’s probably best suited only facing left-handed hitters. Sure enough, he gave up an RBI double to righty Ian Desmond, but that came after also giving up an RBI single to lefty Ian LaRoche.
In an effort that can be fairly described as “too little, too late,” Diekman rebounded to strike out the next three hitters. But the Nats were off to a 5-3 lead by that point.
The night started out on a positive note. Marlon Byrd‘s three-run homer off of Stephen Strasburg gave the Phillies a three-run lead. With Cliff Lee on the mound, that seemed like an adequate amount of offense. But Lee gave one of the runs back on a solo homer by Tyler Moore, and the Nats scored another in the fifth thanks in part to an error by Chase Utley.
The game was briefly interrupted in the fifth as a slight disagreement between Cliff Lee and Denard Span caused the dugouts to empty. But ultimately, nothing came of it except a bunch of guys milling around exchanging dirty looks.
Meanwhile, after that first inning homer, the Phillies did little against Strasburg and the Nationals’ bullpen. They had a great opportunity in the eighth inning when their first two batters got aboard. But a Ryan Howard pop up, and strikeouts by Marlon Byrd and Domonic Brown quickly squashed that rally.
So the Phillies once again lost a winnable game because their bullpen couldn’t hold a lead. And yes, I am getting very tired of writing variations on that sentence.