Coming into this weekend’s series with the San Diego Padres, nearly every analyst in the Philadelphia area said that if the Phillies wanted to win, they would need to do it early, because the Padres bullpen is absolutely unstoppable. Though the Phillies found that to be true yesterday, today, the Padres bullpen was their Achilles Heel, allowing the Phillies to pull ahead in the 7th inning against reliever Chad Qualls.
Up until the 7th inning, the Phillies and Padres had been locked in a close 3-3 game, the Phillies runs coming from a 1st inning home run by Chase Utley, and the Padres coming from two 6th inning homers against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick, who had been very effective up to that point. Kendrick lasted 5.2 innings, allowing just six hits, two of which were the homers. Though he only struck out two, he walked just one hitter, controlling the the Padres as opposed to dominating them.
The Padres would take the lead in the top of the 7th on an RBI single, but Padres starter Mat Latos, like Kendrick, would be done after the 6th inning, allowing reliever Chad Qualls to come in, and immediately serve a game-tying home run to pinch-hitter Ryan Howard. It was Howard’s 19th home run of the year, and his first since July 5th. The home run would also open up the floodgates for the Phillies, as Michael Martinez would hit a three run homer, his second of the year to give the Phillies a three run lead, a lead that Chase Utley would add to during the next at-bat, his second of the game. Qualls would leave the game after one third of an inning, making his ERA for the game 135.00.
However, the Phillies would have bullpen troubles of their own, as Antonio Bastardo would have a rare bad game. Bastardo loaded the bases in the 8th, allowing a run to score on a wild pitch. He would be replaced after walking the bases back loaded, leading David Herndon to come in and walk a run in after a close at-bat with pinch hitter Kyle Phillips. The Phillies would get out of the inning though, leaving the score 8-6 going into the 9th.
Ryan Madson would manage to hold this lead, despite allowing a two out double. It was Madson’s 17th save, and his pitching looked simply incredible, especially his breaking pitches. Though Charlie Manuel said yesterday that both Madson and Bastardo would close out games, the way that Madson is looking, it would be illogical, and even stupid to have the two share saves. At this point, a better idea would be to use Bastardo and Michael Stutes to set-up for Madson, and use whichever isn’t setting up that night as middle relief.
Today was another example of the big inning that the Phillies seem to be having often this season. Though today’s big inning may have been due more to Chad Qualls inability to throw tough pitches instead of the Phillies hitting, but it seems that when it rains, it pours as far as the Phillies hitting goes. Though this isn’t exactly a bad thing, the Phillies will need to be able to score more runs in different innings if they want to be able to win games where a pitcher doesn’t have a breakdown like Qualls’.
The Phillies and Padres go at it again tomorrow at 1:35 as Roy Halladay will face Tim Stauffer.