Tonight’s final game against the Braves was very important for the Phillies. A loss would bury them 6 games behind the Braves with only 4 games until the All-Star break and no chance to play the Braves again until September. In this situation, you would expect the game to be managed as if it was extremely important; a must-win. That did not happen.
While everyone respects what Jamie Moyer has been able to accomplish this year and over his entire career, this should not give him extra leeway in such an important game. The man is 47 years old and tonight, he had to pitch in 100 degree heat; kudos to Moyer for being able to do this. But the manager has to recognize when a pitcher is simply done for the day.
In the 6th inning, Moyer got an out and then proceeded to have all kinds of trouble. He gave up a home run and a single right away and was visibly exhausted. But does Charlie Manuel even get the bullpen up at this point? No. Moyer continued on, allowing a double, a walk and finally a 3-run double. Four runs had scored and still, Moyer is allowed to keep pitching as sweat poured down his face. Clearly, he could no longer locate his pitches.
The very next batter whacked a 2-run homer and just like that, the Braves were handed a 6-run inning. Danys Baez was finally called in to end the inning. So what should have been a nice, productive outing for Moyer was turned into a demoralizing slaughter because Manuel did not pull him when it was logical to do so.
Manuel is obviously lacking in confidence where the bullpen is concerned as evidenced by his bad habit of leaving starting pitchers in too long. And this lack of confidence is not without cause, however, the lack of work for the bullpen is adding to the rust among that group of pitchers, which also does not help. And tonight, this uncertainty cost Moyer and the entire team.
The offense showed some signs of life with Jimmy Rollins collecting a few hits, Ryan Howard homered for the first time in 10 games and Shane Victorino hit a home run as well. Wilson Valdez had a hit, but also grounded into his 14th double play of the year. This seems to be a daily event for Valdez. But that awful 6th inning put the Phillies into a hole that they could not climb out of. They scored a few more runs, but eventually went down by a score of 5-7.
And now the red-hot Reds come into town for a 4-game series to finish up the first half of the year. Already back 6 games in the division, this Reds series has the potential to bury the Phillies. Kyle Kendrick will pitch tomorrow night at 7:05pm. Cross your fingers, Phillies fans.
Photo by Jenn Zambri Photography