Against Romo, Phillies showed renewed signs of late-inning life

Against Romo, Phillies showed renewed signs of late-inning life

May 9, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Michael Young scored the game-tying run on Wednesday when the Phillies got to Giants closer Sergio Romo in the ninth. (USA Today Images)

When the Phillies were their most dangerous, from 2008-11, they were a team that was never out of any game. They had an offense that could make up multi-run deficits and keep opposing teams and closers from feeling comfortable in the late innings.

Jumping on a closer wasn’t rare.

In 2008 the Phils made up multi-run deficits in the eighth inning or later eight times. In 2009 they did it nine times. In 2010 they did it eight times. (Add in four playoff games to those three years.) In 2011 the Phillies did it seven times.

Then last year, with a much weaker offense that didn’t work opposing pitchers as well, the Phillies caused only four multi-run blown saves in the eighth inning or later all season. One of those was against Josh Edgin – not a closer – and two came in consecutive days against Francisco Rodriguez, who hasn’t yet worked his way back to the majors.

The Phillies caused nine of these multi-run blown saves a year from 2008-11, then just four last season. Had they remained consistent with the late-inning offense, things might have been different last September. A playoff run might have been more realistic.

That’s why the events of Wednesday, despite the team's loss, were so good to see. Sergio Romo is an elite closer, an elite reliever, and the Phillies put three men on base and pushed two runs across to prolong the game. It was only the fourth time in Romo’s last 167 appearances that he allowed two runs and three baserunners.

It was the second time the Phillies caused a multi-run blown save this season. We’re sure you remember Kevin Frandsen’s walk-off double against Greg Holland on April 6.

The common theme of a lot of these multi-run blown saves? Walks. The Phillies grinded out at-bats, made the reliever work and cashed in on their free passes. Michael Young had a terrific plate appearance in the ninth inning Wednesday vs. Romo that resulted in a base on balls. It was the sixth straight multi-run blown save in which the Phils walked at least once.

The Phillies had a never-say-die attitude during their five-year playoff run. They never felt out of a game and they never truly were. Too often over the last two years, they've fallen behind by two runs and the game felt like it was over. They haven’t come back enough to inspire hope of late heroics.

That’s a huge reason you’ve seen sparser crowds at Citizens Bank Park, and why you see fans leaving games earlier than they used to.

The approach against Romo was a thing of beauty. Hopefully it’s a sign of better things to come.

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