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Why Pete Mackanin did not screw up Opening Day

In his first official game as the team's full-time manager, a key decision by the Phils' skipper will be questioned.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

I know, I know. We all want someone to blame.

We all want someone to blame after a disastrous 6-2 Opening Day loss to the Reds in Cincinnati. I mean, the season is just 1/162nd of the way finished and it already feels like the end is nigh.

Folks, we tried to tell you. We tried to tell you it was going to be this way.

This bullpen is bad, and it could end up being historically bad by the time the season is over. That much was clear after David Hernandez, James Russell and Eugenio Suarez combined to blow a 2-1 lead and give up five runs in the bottom of the eighth, ruining a perfectly competent performance by starter Jeremy Hellickson.

Hellickson went six innings and gave up just three hits and one unearned run while striking out six and walking no one in his first official outing as a Phil.

Of course, after a loss like this, even at the beginning of a season that everyone knows is going to be long and sometimes painful, people get a little hot under the collar. It's understandable. And after Monday's game, ire turned towards manager Pete Mackanin, the man managing his first ever regular season game as the man.

Why? Because he removed Hellickson after 79 pitches.

Not the right time, Pete. Not the right time.

This was so obviously going to happen that our very own Wet Luzinski called it before the game even started.

Look folks, I get it. Hellickson isn't some young pup the team is planning to build around. He's a veteran here on a one-year deal. And I'm sure Mackanin knew that asking his bullpen to protect a one-run lead for three innings may have been pushing it. But it's a long season and they're going to need Hellickson a few more times this year before it's all said and done.

Not only that, Hellickson, like most pitchers, gets decidedly worse the more times through the lineup a team gets to see him.

And even if he did go another inning, Hernandez would have still entered the game in the eighth inning and done the same thing.

So, losing on Opening Day like this stinks, and it's likely to happen many more times this year. But in this case, Mackanin isn't to blame. A bullpen full of soft tossers who can't find the plate are to blame. Just ask 'em.

They would know.

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