Entering the eighth inning, Roy Halladay had baffled the Cubs hitters and Dominic Brown teamed up with Placido Polanco to provide enough offensive fireworks to stake the Phillies to a 7-0 lead. Common wisdom would dictate that this lead could give Charlie the opportunity to send Doc to the showers early (seven innings is an early night by Doc’s ridiculous standards) and let the bullpen get the last six outs.
Based on the bullpen’s performance thus far, one would believe that this type of lead would in no way be in jeopardy. Jose Contrares and J.C. Romero allowed five runs collectively and turned a blowout into a save situation. Charlie Manual is often criticized for his bullpen management, but when the pitchers you throw out there can’t get outs, it does not matter what arm they throw with. This type of thing is not an epidemic (last night’s game was the first blown save of the season for the Phils and their first loss of the year when leading after seven innings), but it sure does make the end of the game exciting. By “exciting” I mean diarrhea inducing.
Roy Halladay is really good at baseball. He lowered his ERA to 2.39 with his seven shut out innings and made Carlos Zambrano’s assertion that the Cubs look like AAA players look frighteningly accurate. Up until this game, the Cubs were one of three teams that Doc had not reduced to quivering piles of defeated flesh. There are now two teams that Roy Halladay has not conquered.
Speaking of major league players that resemble their AAA counterparts, Zambrano allowed seven hits, five walks and seven runs in his six and 1/3 innings of work. Cub’s manager leaned heavily on the big right hander as his bullpen was taxed in yesterday’s victory. On his 128th pitch, Placido Polanco offered a souvenir to a lucky fan sitting in the left field bleachers with a grand slam. Zambrano recently made headlines by the aforementioned evaluation of the Cubs performance and by calling out closer Carlos Marmol after he allowed a home run to Albert Pujols thus costing Zambrano a victory. Makes you wonder what Marmol had to say to the other Carlos after this one.
While some of the veteran members of the bullpen are struggling, two of the kids are excelling. Michael Stutes was called upon to bail J.C. Romero out of trouble in the eighth and responded with a strikeout and a pop out to preserve the lead. He also got the first two outs in the ninth before giving way to fellow youngster Antonio Bastardo. Bastardo earned his second save of the season by striking out Carlos Pena to earn a 7-5 victory.
Cliff Lee looks to start a winning streak as he takes on former Tampa Bay Ray Matt Garza.