Offense, bullpen equally putrid in Phillies' latest loss

Offense, bullpen equally putrid in Phillies' latest loss

May 18, 2013, 9:15 pm
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The Phillies' offense was shut out for the third time this season on Saturday. They were shut out only six times in all of 2012. (AP)

BOX SCORE

Jimmy Rollins wasn’t in the mood to chat with his reporter friends after the Phillies got cleaned and pressed by Bronson Arroyo, Joey Votto and the rest of the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday.

“There’s nothing to talk about,” Rollins said after the unsightly 10-0 loss (see Instant Replay). “It’s just a game. Write what you saw.”

Here’s what 41,817 fans at Citizens Bank Park and a national TV audience saw from the Phillies:

• A starting pitcher that hung tough on a day when he wasn’t on top of his game.

• An offense that stunk.

• A bullpen that stunk.

“Kyle Kendrick was hurt by a three-run homer [in the second inning], but he battled and kept us in the game,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “Of course, we couldn’t score and the bullpen let the game get out of hand.”

It seems as if every time the Phils begin to catch a whiff of .500, they slip backward. They enter Sunday’s series finale against the Reds at 20-23.

Rookie Jonathan Pettibone will go against one of the NL’s most powerful offenses, while Cincinnati’s Homer Bailey will go against a Phillies’ club that has one of the weakest offenses in the league.

Saturday marked the sixth time this season that the Phils have been shut out. They were shut out just six times all of last year. And how’s this for symmetry? The Phils have allowed 10 or more runs in a game six times this year – the most in the majors.

The Phils have played 43 games. They have scored two or fewer runs in 17 of them.

Hold your nose on that one.

But we already knew offense was a problem for this club. It has been for two seasons.

Of equal concern is the bullpen. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. thought he had it fixed with the addition of eighth-inning man Mike Adams in the offseason, but now Adams is hurting (he’s missed a week with a back strain) and the relievers who precede him in the middle innings have pitched poorly for the most part.

“I have a big concern about our bullpen,” Manuel said. “If we can’t hold people, how can we win the game? You can say you’ve got to score runs to win, but at the same time, how many runs do you have to score? Today we didn’t have a chance to win because we didn’t score any.”

The allowing of inherited runners to score has been a huge problem for this bullpen. On Saturday, reliever B.J. Rosenberg put three runners on base in the eighth inning and all three scored as Jeremy Horst and Phillippe Aumont tried to clean things up. Six of the Reds' 10 runs came in the final two innings.

For the season, Phils relievers have allowed 25 of 52 (48 percent) inherited runners to score. That’s the highest percentage in the majors. Seattle’s bullpen is the best at preventing inherited runners from scoring – just 9 of 58 (15.5 percent).

If Adams can get healthy and on a roll, the Phils could have a solid 1-2 punch at the back of the bullpen with him and Jonathan Papelbon. But the rest of the unit is a major concern and that concern will only swell if Adams doesn’t get well in a hurry. Loaded with big, inflexible contracts, there isn’t a lot that Amaro can do to shake up his team’s offense. But he must look to continue to tweak this bullpen so the offense will have a chance to chip away at deficits.

There was no chipping away against Arroyo on Saturday, even after a sub-par Kendrick managed to keep things reasonably close. (He allowed four runs in six innings.) For the second time this season, Arroyo frustrated the Phillies with his best Jamie Moyer act. The Phils had just five hits against Arroyo and four were singles. He has held the Phillies to just two runs in 15 2/3 innings this season.

“We used to hit Arroyo,” Manuel said. “But the last three times he faced us, he’s pitched the same kind of game. He throws us a lot of slow hooks, changeups and spotted fastballs. The last three times he’s pitched against us, he’s given us fits. We’ve had a hard time handling him.”

These have been trying times for the Phillies. Too much inconsistency. Too many losses. Not enough runs scored. Too many runs allowed by the bullpen.

Manuel channeled Vince Lombardi in a little rant about not quitting during tough times.

“You can get down if you’re not careful,” he said. “That’s what you don’t want. You’ve got to stay together. You’ve got to keep plugging at it. You’ve got to grind it out. Actually, that’s how you build heart and strength about your team. That’s how you become a team. A lot of times in the second half you notice we play a lot better baseball. And that’s because we stay together and we don’t give up and quit and things like that.

"I'm not saying we're quitting. I'm saying we're in that period where we could start doubting ourselves instead of just keep firing. We have to stay aggressive."