Only one week after spontaneously combusting against the Mets, the Phillies blew yet another 7-1 lead tonight, this time against the Dodgers. The Phillies were able to pull a rabbit out of their hat and scratch out a 9-7 win tonight, but it was one of the least inspiring victories in recent memory. Much like last week, the offense and starting pitching were phenomenal, and it was just a few bullpen arms that made it a rollercoaster.
The game was going along swimmingly until the sixth inning, as the Phils got out to an early 7-1 lead. Zack Wheeler got into a bit of trouble in the sixth, allowing two runs, but Brad Hand was able to staunch the bleeding. Then, the wheels came off in the eighth inning when José Alvarado allowed FOUR earned runs in only one third of an inning. Alvarado walked one and surrendered five hits en route to nearly costing the Phillies the game. Joe Girardi allowed Alvarado to face far too many hitters, as he had left hittable pitches up in the zone to each batter he faced. Only after the game was tied 7-7 did Girardi put fans out of their misery and bring in right-hander Andrew Bellatti to shut down the Dodgers’ rally.
Luckily for fans and Girardi, the Phils offense was able to come roaring back in the top of the ninth and make it a 9-7 game. The rally started with a one out Odúbel Herrera bunt of all things, followed by a Rhys Hoskins infield single, an Alec Bohm walk, a fortuitous wild pitch and a Bryce Harper sacrifice fly. Armed with a two-run lead, closer Corey Knebel was able to earn a save, but only after making it far too interesting. Knebel surrendered a leadoff single to Trea Turner, and then back-to-back walks to Max Muncy and Will Smith. With the bases loaded and no outs, that all too familiar feeling of the Phillies melting down came back. However, Knebel bared down and induced flyouts from Austin Barnes, Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor to walk away with the 9-7 victory.
RELATED: Is Joe Girardi the Problem?
A win is a win, and for a Phillies team that has played sub-.500 baseball thus far, that’s the most important thing. However, the story of the night is Joe Girardi’s bullpen management. Or mismanagement, in this case. Girardi has long been known as an old-school baseball man who sticks with his favored guys, sometimes to a fault. That was on full display tonight as he allowed José Alvarado to face seven hitters while only recording one out. For most of Alvarado’s time on the mound, Girardi mysteriously had no bullpen action churning. There was seemingly no rationale for this, as the hard-throwing southpaw remained in the game well past the three batter minimum, facing right-handed mashers Justin Turner and Chris Taylor. Girardi waited until the lead had completely evaporated before pulling the plug and switching to Andrew Bellatti. Tonight’s game is yet another example this season where the Phillies played a damn good ballgame, and Joe Girardi still put his team in a position to lose. Luckily, the Phillies avoided another 7-1 lead turning into an humiliating loss.