I hate to be a “Negative Nancy,” but I am nothing short of disgusted with certain members of San Diego’s under-performing bullpen.
While people continue to harp on the Padres needing help in their starting rotation, they should be on the lookout for some competent late-game relief pitchers instead. There is no excuse for San Diego’s bullpen to be as inconsistent as they have been, and it is doubly frustrating to watch the veterans of the unit perform so poorly.
Despite the fact that the Padres held a 5-2 lead when the top of the seventh began, late-game mistakes allowed the Phillies to win by a score of 7-5 in the 13th inning.
Before I delve into the subject of San Diego’s bullpen however, I’d like to discuss a few positives from tonight’s game.
Although he had some early game struggles, rookie starter Robbie Erlin enjoyed a fine outing after he allowed two runs over the game’s first two innings. Overall, Erlin struck out seven and issued only one walk through 6.1 innings of work in his spot-start for Clayton Richard.
I for one will be intrigued to see whether or not Bud Black will send him back to Triple-A after his latest outing. Moreover, the Padres might not be able to afford to keep Erlin out of their rotation for long if injuries continue to plague that particular unit.
The Friars got on the board in the bottom of the third when Forsythe doubled home Pedro Ciriaco. “Deno” then followed up Forsythe’s double with a single of his own, and suddenly the game was tied 2-2. San Diego’s hitters could not muster another run in the rest of the frame though, and the game remained tied until inning.
Forsythe and Denorfia however made their presences felt in the top of the fifth when they broke the game open for San Diego. After Forsythe doubled again, “Deno” drove both of them in with a home run to left field to put the Friars ahead 4-2.
Kyle Blanks added a run-scoring double in the following inning for good measure, and everything appeared to be going in San Diego’s favor. Unfortunately for the Padres, their bullpen snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with their pathetic efforts.
Philadelphia began their comeback-climb in the top of the seventh. The Phillies scored one run in the inning on single off of the bat of Kevin Frandsen and then managed to load the bases with two outs. San Diego however countered Chase Utley with Joe Thatcher, and the veteran left-hander forced Utley to ground out on the at-bat’s first pitch.
Thatcher however gave up a two-out double to Domonic Brown in the top of the eighth, and this in turn allowed Delmon Young to come to the plate and tie the game at 5-5 with a home run off of Luke Gregerson.
Tonight marked Gregerson’s third blown save/blown lead of the last three weeks, and I really hope that Bud Black has taken notice of how no lead is safe with his bullpen performing like they have all season. While Gregerson has not been “Huston Street-bad” this year, his late-inning collapses have to be at least a cause for concern for his manager.
The game finally ended in the 13th inning after Forsythe botched a ground ball off of the bat of Ben Revere after an eight pitch at-bat. While Forsythe’s errors on the bobble and throw were huge, the game itself should never have gotten to that point. The errors however did cause two runs to score and the Friars to lose the rubber-match of their three-game series with the Phillies.
The Friars have an off-day tomorrow, but they will be on their way to the east coast for four games in Miami and another three in Boston. If the team wants to play .500-and above baseball, they had better find some solutions to their bullpen problems. Otherwise, there is no chance that they will be able to stick with the rest of their competition in their hotly-contested division.
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