We Didn’t Come Here For This
Aug 1, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Jonathan Papelbon (58) wipes his face after giving up two runs in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at Citizens Bank Park. The Giants defeated the Phillies 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
If there ever was a game that summed up the 2013 Phillies, last night’s 2-1 loss to the Giants at Citizens Bank Park was it.
For eight innings, Cole Hamels was brilliant, holding San Francisco scoreless on seven hits, with just one walk and five strikeouts. But at 113 pitches, Charlie Manuel decided to take his left-hander out of the game and replaced him with the struggling Jonathan Papelbon to try and close out a 1-0 game in the top of the ninth.
Things then went about as you’d expect.
Papelbon, who has seen his velocity drop this year and his strikeout percentage take a nose-dive, allowed five baserunners in a two-run ninth that saw the Giants grab a 2-1 lead. In his first save opportunity since July 11 (that’s 21 days ago, kids), Papelbon recorded his sixth blown save of the year, the second-most in all of baseball. This coming on the heels of comments he made last week about not wanting to be in Philadelphia if the team was going to keep losing and that the organization needed changes “from top to bottom.”
Yeah, that’s called bad timing.
Papelbon, though, continued to keep it real after the game.
"“Whether I blow a game or whether I save a game, whatever is happening within the organization, I feel like I’m honest and forthcoming and I’m the same way after games like tonight.“I feel like that’s the best way to go about a day’s work is to just be honest with yourself and be honest with the position you’re in and not try to sugarcoat anything or trying to see something for what it’s not. That’s the way I’ve always been. I go by facts and I stand by what I say. I don’t feel like I said anything that wasn’t true.” – quotes per CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury"
Papelbon also said he didn’t think his stuff was all that diminished.
"“I think my ball has life at the plate, which is all I care about it,” Papelbon said. “If I’m getting hit all over the ballpark with hard hit balls, I have to reassess. After a night like tonight, you just kind of chalk it up to that’s that. I felt all of my pitches were working. I felt good. I felt strong. It was just one of those nights.”"
But what about the severe dip in your velocity, Jonathan?
"“I’m not going out there and trying to blow anybody away. I’m trying to get outs. That’s basically what it boils down to.”"
Ah. So, we’re no longer going for strikeouts. I see. Yeah, this is gonna work out.
Back in June, I wrote about how many of Papelbon’s blown saves appeared to be him getting a bit unlucky. And while it is true that Papelbon suffered from a bit of bad luck last night in giving up those four straight singles to open the ninth, he’s also not generating the swings and misses that helped him avoid the BAbip hell that he experienced last night.
Of course, like any true stand-up guy, Papelbon seemed to blame Manuel and Rich Dubee for having the audacity to use him in some non-save situations, like some pathetic “non-closer.” The nerve.
"“I think for me this year it’s been a constant adjustment on how to figure out how to go without pitching or pitching in tie ballgames a lot,” Papelbon said. “I think for me more than anything there have been some situations that have come up that have been fairly new for me. I think for me I just try to go out there one day at a time to see how I can get better each day and not necessarily worry about struggling and whatnot.”"
Twitter, as you might expect, as apoplectic.
Cole Hamels can’t buy a break in 2013. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
As if Papelbon’s epic fail wasn’t enough, the offense decided to extend the hell even more in the bottom of the inning. The Phils actually mounted a rally and appeared ready to at least tie the game or even take the lead when they loaded the bases with nobody out.
You know what happened next.
Laynce Nix and Carlos Ruiz hit shallow fly balls to the outfield and Erik Kratz grounded out to end the game. No runs scored.
That followed an inning earlier when Jimmy Rollins led off the 8th with a triple, only to be thrown out at home when Michael Young hit a grounder right into a drawn-in infield. And Michael Martinez was cut down at the plate in the 7th trying to score from second on a John Mayberry single. Manager Charlie Manuel send Martinez got a bad jump off of second.
It was the kind of game where, if an emotional person was running things, people would have been fired immediately afterwards.
So you had a beautiful outing by Cole Hamels wasted, an offensive performance that was outright pathetic, base-running mistakes resulting in two players being thrown out at home plate, a blown save from a failing closer, and a complete and utter inability to play fundamental baseball in the bottom of the ninth.
If that’s not the Phillies’ 2013 season in one three-hour baseball game, I dare you to find another one better.
OK, maybe this one.
The good news is the Phils now host the Braves for three games at Citizens Bank Park, a golden opportunity for the team to cut into that 13 1/2 game deficit in the National League East.
Yes, I’m being sarcastic.
Oh, and by the way, the Phils’ run differential is now up to -82. That’s just 10 runs away from Miami’s -92.
Just thought you’d like to know.