It started as a good day, when we were all alerted to some breaking news:
RHP Jeanmar Gómez and OF Michael Saunders have been designated for assignment.— Phillies (@Phillies) June 20, 2017
The team had decided to move on from some moves that simply did not work out, beginning the slow journey towards fully embracing the #TrustTheProspects mantra. Coming into the game, one might be excused for thinking that perhaps the team could finally begin to turn things around now that some dead weight had been cast off.
And things looked halfway decent. Though his hanging curveball to Jedd Gyorko could have been hit out by pretty much anyone in the stadium, Jeremy Hellickson actually pitched really well, going seven strong innings, scattering six hits, the aforementioned home run included, walking two and striking out four.
The only problem is that Mike Leake was probably better, going six innings himself, surrendering three hits, one run, two walks and five strikeouts. The clash of pitching titans meant that the game would be left to the bullpens, where hope abounded for the Phillies since Gomez was no longer an option to come in and create a horrendous mess.
Things worked, too. Joaquin Benoit, Hector Neris, and Pat Neshek threw three no hit, no run innings, registering a strike out each. The Cardinals’ pitchers were equal to the task, giving up two hits in four shutout innings, which meant that the game was 1-1 going into the eleventh inning.
Then the soft underbelly of the bullpen was exposed.
Edubray Ramos came in and promptly walked two batters on nine pitches. Pete Mackanin had seen enough and
strangely called for Casey Fien. Here is how the rest of the eleventh went:
Double, two runs scored
Home run, two runs scored
Safe on error
Home run, two runs scored
Double, one run scored (pitching change, Luis Garcia in, Fien out)
By the time the carnage had been assessed, the Cardinals were up, 8-1. Sure, the Phillies made a little noise in the bottom half of the inning, but this game was over after the first two walks Ramos gave up. Tommy Joseph lost his 14-game hitting streak as well, going 0 for 5.
Yet again, people could look at that eleventh inning and wonder about Mackanin’s thinking. Prior to tonight’s game, Ramos had been pretty bad in his last ten innings, giving up five runs, ten hits and six walks in those appearances. His last outing, against Arizona, was another where he was unable to register an out, being charged with three runs when his line was closed. Knowing his struggles, perhaps Ramos is the last guy Mackanin would want to bring in, but there he was, starting an inning in a game that was still winnable. Were there better options? Perhaps Garcia should have been brought in sooner. Perhaps that was the time to let Hoby Milner make his MLB debut. It’s 20-20 hindsight, no doubt, but it’s another piece of ammunition for those who continually question the manager’s ability to handle a bullpen.
I just wish he’d stop giving us so much to work with.