Three runs per game is usually not enough to win consistently. Yet the Phillies have won just less than half of their games this year averaging about three runs per game. Roy Halladay’s starts should not end up being losses, but now the Phillies have just a .500 record when he starts games. But even more importantly, when a team scores 13 runs in a game, there is absolutely no reason that they should lose. Unfortunately for the Phillies, after 11 innings, the Braves had 15 runs and as much as 13 shouldn’t lose you a game, 15 should make a win even easier. So despite their 13-run, 17-hit performance, the Phillies came away from the game empty-handed, unable to get a third straight win.
The Phillies scored six runs before the sixth inning, so with Roy Halladay on the mound, the game seemed all but over, as Halladay had a 107-0 record (in terms of pitching decisions, not team’s win-loss) while defending a four-run lead. But, as the Phillies and Braves would soon find out, this was no ordinary game. Halladay would go on to give up six runs in the fifth inning–the same inning the Phillies extended their lead from four to six runs–including a Brian McCann grand slam.
After giving up two more runs in the sixth, Halladay’s night would be over, in line for the loss. However, Carlos Ruiz would come to his aid, hitting a three run home run and a three run double in the seventh and eighth innings respectively, giving the Phillies a four-run lead. A five-run Braves eighth off of Jose Contreras and Michael Schwimer would erase the Phillies lead and put them down by one run going into the ninth inning.
Down to their final out, the Phillies would force a bottom of the ninth with a Shane Victorino RBI single. Both teams would be held scoreless in the 10th inning, but the Braves would win the game on an 11th inning Chipper Jones walk-off two-run home run, effectively wasting the Phillies 13-run game.
More than anything, this game revealed two things. One, Roy Halladay is indeed human and occasionally even makes mistakes. Rare as it may be, it can happen. But more importantly, this game showed the lack of Charlie Manuel’s ability to manage a bullpen.
Keeping Roy Halladay in after allowing four runs I understand because, let’s face it, he’s Roy Halladay and likely won’t give up more runs. But the logic not to use Jonathan Papelbon in the eight inning with the bases loaded? Papelbon is the team’s best reliever by far, so with the go-ahead run at the plate, it only makes sense to put your closer out for a four-out save instead of putting out Michael Schwimer, a guy who blew both of his save opportunities last year. Of course, Manuel went against the choice that was fairly obvious and paid the price for it.
Later, Manuel wouldn’t put Papelbon into a tied game to guarantee the game stayed tied, instead putting in Brian Sanches. Sanches did the job for a while but eventually served up a walk-off to Chipper Jones. While that decision wasn’t so detrimental, the philosophy of “Save our best reliever for when we have a lead” when you may not ever get to play with a lead again, just does not work. In certain situations it may make sense, but when scoring 13 runs with a team that has been nothing short of anemic offensively, there is no reason to be risking leads. To make things worse, the Phillies had won two games in a row coming into this one so a loss like this was quite the opposite of what the Phillies needed in terms of momentum.
A loss like this hurts, but the fact that it was preventable makes it so much worse. This loss is simply unacceptable, but since it happened, the Phillies and, specifically Charlie Manuel, need to learn from this. If they don’t, these occasional, preventable losses will end up killing the Phillies.