Bullpen. Bullpen. Bullpen.
With apologies to the popular real estate maxim, it isn't just about location; it's about the quality of the product and as everyone has been saying since day one, when it comes to relief pitching the Phillies have a terrible product.
Of course location does matter when one of your relievers hits a batter, but let's not quibble. That one mistake by Brian Sanches pales when compared to the ongoing horror that is Geoff Geary, who has now allowed eight of the last fifteen runners he's inherited to score. Some might argue that Charlie Manuel once again pulled a starter too early, but you won't find much support for that notion here this time. Jamie Moyer was done this night and if he didn't know it, his manager did. Moyer's tendency isn't simply to run out of gas, chugging and lurching along. He just stops dead. Last night he was cruising along with a no-hitter through 6.2 innings and then just like that he gave up two hits and a walk and all of a sudden the bases were loaded. A few weeks ago he was also cruising along before he yielded back-to-back home runs against the D-Backs. It was time to head for the showers. Unfortunately, it was also time to summons help from the Phillies utterly unreliable bullpen corps and on this night a succession of fireman poured gasoline on the flames.
Overshadowed was another home run by Ryan Howard, the 100th of his career and a booming shot that traveled an estimated 505 feet to dead center. This was Howard's second home run in as many nights. Other than that, he has struck out seven times in his last nine at-bats. So, it's back to feast-or-famine with the Phils first baseman. Howard also made not one but two fine stabs of ground balls with nice tosses to Jamie Moyer covering. These were overshadowed by his error in the ninth inning that preceded a two-run home run by Adam Dunn. Feast or famine.
Following the series finale with the Reds tonight, the Mets come to town for a weekend series that includes a day-night double header. The Phillies will trot out not one but two inexperienced starters for this series, one a genuine rookie and the other for all intentions a rookie, against the most potent lineup in the division. The Phils will likely need their offense to step up big time, but, then, what's new?