Tonight was as 2012 Phillies of a loss as you’re going to get. There’s no other way to say it. A loss like this has happened far too often for this team this year, and ONLY this year. This miserable, shitty, awful year.
I was in attendance tonight, and let me just say that Miller Park surprised me. I expected a fairly nice ballpark, but what it ended up being was one of my favorite parks in baseball. The roof is very futuristic looking despite the park being over 10 years old now, and it was open to boot. It was a warm, clear night so there was no real reason to have it closed. I’ve always said that roofs ruin the experience at the ballpark, but it added to it here. The park was very clean and the food was good, except for the hot dogs. Avoid those if you’re ever there. I’ll likely do a ballpark rankings of all of the stadiums I’ve been to (by season’s end it will be 20 active, 24 stadiums overall) in the offseason and Miller Park should easily make my top 10.
Anyway, back to the game. Cliff Lee was on the hill tonight for the Phillies, and it did not look all that promising at the beginning. After Juan Pierre was caught stealing to end the 1st for the Phillies, Lee came out and got the first two outs fairly quickly, until Ryan Braun came up. On an 0-2 count, Braun poked a ball over the RF fence to give Milwaukee a 1-0 lead. Aramis Ramirez followed him up with a bomb of his own, which I’m pretty sure still hasn’t landed. The number of 2 strike, 2 out home runs Lee gives up is ridiculous. I’ve never seen a pitcher where an 0-2 count becomes an advantage to the hitter. He really needs to start learning how to waste pitches.
It was at this point I started to think “Cliff Lee at it again”, but he began to settle in a bit. The Phillies got a run back in the 3rd on a fielder’s choice/error that allowed Jimmy Rollins to score (and no, he didn’t run very hard to home). It would stay 2-1 until the 4th, when Ryan Braun yet again homered off Lee to take the run back. I called this home run before the at bat even occurred, which is unfortunately a skill (or curse, depending on how you look at it) that I’ve developed this season.
The fifth inning is where the game really got interesting. After Pierre and Utley made two quick outs, Ryan Howard snuck a single through the shift. Dom Brown followed him up with a walk and then Nix smacked a single to right. Kevin Frandsen came up and worked a full count. Frandsen then smacked a line drive into the gap and cleared the bases to give the Phils a 4-3 lead. The other Phillies fans in attendance were wide awake now.
After this, Lee took the lead and ran with it. He really settled in and ended up striking out 12 Brewers over 7 2/3 strong innings. The Phils looked to be in control, with Lee going 8 innings and eventually handing the ball off to Papelbon for the save and the win. Unfortunately, the 2012 Phillies reared their ugly heads rather quickly. It all started with a Rickie Weeks ground ball to Frandsen, who then made a low throw that Howard couldn’t scoop. Manuel then came out to get Cliff Lee and go to Pa….Lindblom!?!?!?!? So, you’re paying your closer the richest contract for a reliever in baseball history, and you can’t bring him in to get a 4 out save? It’s not like he’s never done it before. Papelbon is an excellent closer and hasn’t pitched in 3 days, so how does it hurt?
Lindblom came in and the bubble was slowing growing. He was clearly pitching around Ryan Braun, which is understandable and just ended up putting him on. But then, Lindblom walks Ramirez as well to bring Corey Hart to the plate with the bases loaded. Hart eventually works the count full, and then the bubble bursts…
Hart swings and lifts a fly ball to right field, Brown going back to the track, now to the wall, he LEAPS…and he can’t get it. It’s gone. Grand slam. Brewers lead 7-4. Game all but over. The Phillies kicked up a bit of a fuss in the 9th, loading the bases. It however did not matter as Erik Kratz grounded out to third to end the game and give the Brewers the win.
Yes, give the Brewers the win. This was another game that the Phillies just gave away. There’s many ways to go in terms of blame for this miserable (common?) loss. Frandsen, who made a poor throw to first. If he makes the throw, the inning is over. Manuel, who should have gone right to Papelbon instead of bringing in Lindblom, who has not been sharp at all since joining the Phillies. Also, Lindblom himself for showing zero poise or balls on the mound. He was so afraid to throw strikes that he backed himself into a corner, and when he finally had to give in he got burned in the biggest way. I can’t get on Frandsen, for two reasons. First, if Frandsen didn’t come up with that clutch 3 run double the score would have still been 3-1. Two, is it really too much to ask of the bullpen to come in and get ONE god damn out!?!? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. The 2012 Phillies, well, 2012 Phillies’d themselves out of another victory. You really have to wonder where this team would be if they even had won HALF of the games they had in their grasp.