There is a day in the future, most likely years away, where we’ll look back on games like this and know that they were worth it. We’ll look back at the outsized scores and spare a wincing laugh when we remember the pain and frustration. We’ll throw out names like Ty Kelly and Mark Leiter Jr. and say “Remember those guys?” the same way we do with Laynce Nix and Michael Young now. But more than anything, one day down the road we’ll know that enduring all of this was worth it because these losses birthed a better Phillies team. We’ll watch them win close games and tough games and come-from-behind games, we’ll watch them make ridiculous plays and turn in brilliant pitching performances and lock down saves like they were born to do it. That Phillies team is in our future, and though it sucks so, so hard right now, one day this will all be worth it.
That doesn’t change the fact that this game was absolutely awful. They lost to the Rangers 8-4, and it was abysmal and depressing. It was a fitting capper to this entire shit-sucking series.
This loss mostly falls on the shoulders of the pitching, Pivetta had an outing where he gave up zero runs while he was in the game (he left with one on base, but we’ll get to that later), but threw 107 pitches over 4.2 innings. He was one out short of qualifying for his first win, and even came back with a strikeout after walking the second batter of the inning, but Pete Mackanin took him out and put in Joely Rodriguez. And Rodriguez was just garbage. I want to find a way to sugarcoat it, but I can’t. He gave up five runs in the fifth, one of which belonged to Pivetta. And then he pitched into the sixth and gave up two more. He only pitched 2⁄3 of an inning.
And now I’m going to read Pete Mackanin and Bob McClure the riot act. Because what in the blue hell were they doing leaving Joely Rodriguez out there so long? He had given up five runs after he took over for Nick Pivetta with two outs in the fifth, and then they had him start the sixth. They didn’t have anyone warming in the bullpen until he was at least three batters into his second disastrous inning, so they had to leave him out there to give up three more runs.
There’s only so much that Mack and McClure can do when a pitcher is on the mound. The bullpen isn’t great, and has problems with home runs and two-strike hits. And they can’t control who’s in the bullpen. If Matt Klentak only gives them one lefty to work with, then that’s all they have. So when a game is happening, their job is to control everything happening around the relievers. They decide who goes in next, and who is warming up when. I’m not saying it’s easy, and it’s far from their only job during a game, but none of that explains why they’re so, so bad at it. Because they are. I can’t understand why they sent Joely back out, but if they had to do that, I’m not sure why they didn’t have someone warming up in the bullpen when the inning started.
Who knows why they didn’t pick up that bullpen phone earlier. Maybe someone was telling a funny joke. Maybe they were transfixed buy a floating piece of trash. Maybe a squirrel grew a mouth and started talking to them. But even if Christopher Lloyd flew in to tell them why they weren’t good enough to get help from the Angels in the Outfield, that wouldn’t be a good enough reason to fuck this up. There’s just no excuse.
Again: they don’t have a lot to work with in the bullpen. And they can tell the pitchers to do whatever they want, but they can’t control them on the mound. But this is something they can control. They can control when to take pitchers out and when to have others warming. But for some reason these guys can’t manage a bullpen without stepping on their own dicks. They should be better at this, and they’re not, and it’s so infuriating.
There were some good things in today’s game. Andres Blanco had a fantastic sliding catch in foul ground. Tommy Joseph hit a two-run home run in the ninth inning. Michael Saunders hit a triple in the second before he left the game with groin tightness. But the best news is that Maikel Franco hit the ball hard all day. He had a homer in the fifth, but scored Saunders in the second with a sac fly to the warning track, and sent one more out there before the game was over.
One day, the Phillies will be good again, and we’ll look back on 2017 and 2016 (and 2015 and 2014 and 2013) and feel solidarity with each other for having gone through it. We are the faithful die hards. When the Phillies are good again, I will hold no grudges against anyone who had better things to do with their time than watch games like this for four-plus years. I can’t blame them. For my part, I wish I was napping in a sunbeam this afternoon while periodically sipping on a mojito with my favorite podcasts playing in the background. But here I am, because I have a Phillies website to run and a game to recap.
When the team is like this, all we can do is live through it. It doesn’t matter how loudly we yell or how often we comment, we can control nothing about what’s happening with the Phillies. All we can do is take comfort in our fellow Phillies fans, live through it, and remember there’s another game tomorrow.
Phillies lose, 8-4. They have lost 15 of last 18 games.— Todd Zolecki (@ToddZolecki) May 18, 2017
The Phillies are 14-24, their worst 38-game start to a season since 2000.— Matt Gelb (@MattGelb) May 18, 2017
There’s another game tomorrow.