Bullpen Blows Chance for Phillies’ Sweep

admin Last updated on: February 17, 2024

A night after the Phillies’ least experienced reliever, 25 year old Mario Hollands, gave up a walk off single to Adrian Beltre, the Phillies’ most experienced reliever, 33 year old Jonathan Papelbon, gave up three runs in the ninth inning capped off by a walk-off, bases-loaded walk to earn the Phillies their second straight loss.

What could have easily been a season-opening sweep for the Phills ended up a series defeat to start off the 2014 campaign.

Despite the Phillies’ front office publicly stating their high expectations for this year’s club, many covering the sport professed a different take.  According to many major publications (Sports Illustrated, USA Today, ESPN) the Phillies should fall somewhere between 4th or 5th place finish in the NL East.  If you listened to sports radio in Philly this past week, the buzz was not on opening day, but DeSean Jackson.

The Phillies had a chance to make a little noise and steal some headlines from the Jackson-saga if they could manage a sweep of the Texas Rangers, and with the Rangers extremely suspect pitching rotation, a sweep was not out of the question.

Things started off well.

Cliff Lee’s rough outing in his return to Arlington didn’t matter because the surprising Phillies’ offense picked up the slack with a where-did-this-come-from 17 hit and 14 run performance (this coming off three scoreless outings to finish up the preseason).

Game two got off to a great start as AJ Burnett threw well and left the game with a 2-1 lead.  That’s when the trouble started for the Phillies bullpen.  Starting the 7th inning out of the bullpen was the young fire-balling, southpaw, Jake Diekman, who immediately relinquished the lead.  Then, in a surprising move by Phillies’ skipper Ryne Sandberg, the team trotted out rookie Mario Hollands in the tied ball game to hold the middle of the Rangers lineup in the 9th inning.  Both young lefties fell victim to the veteran stalwart Adrian Beltre and the Phillies walked away on the wrong side of a 3-2 score.

Wednesday night was a spark of redemption for Hollands who had a solid perfomance, retiring the side in the 8th.  Hollands pitched in relief of Kyle Kendrick who was in line for the win allowing one run over seven innings and scattering 5 hits.  Despite Hollands improvement, the night was not one of redemption for the entire bullpen.

Enter Phillies’ closer Jonathan Papelbon. Papelbon got into trouble immediately allowed four hits, two walks, 3 earned runs and ended the evening with the extremely embarrassing walk-off walk.  Rangers win, 4-3.

So instead of applauding the Phillies’ big bats for coming to play, Phillies fans are left blaming a young (and in Papelbon’s case- just disappointing) bullpen for blowing the chances for a 3-0 Phillies’ start to 2014.

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