Phillies collapse in ninth inning of loss to Padres

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Phillies collapse in ninth inning of loss to Padres

BOX SCORE

SAN DIEGO -- If you hadn’t already given up on the 2013 Phillies, this one might have pushed you over the edge.

In what may have been the worst loss in a season that has already included way too many ugly defeats, the Phillies blew a three-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning and went on to lose 4-3 to the San Diego Padres in the bottom of the 10th inning Monday night (see Instant Replay).

Cliff Lee was masterful for eight innings, but his gem began to unravel in the span of three pitches in the ninth. In the blink of an eye, Jonathan Papelbon allowed a two-run single and hit a batter and Carlos Ruiz was charged with a game-tying passed ball with two outs. The ugliness continued in the bottom of the 10th when Justin De Fratus walked two batters and hit another to set up the game-winning hit by Kyle Blanks, the same guy who drove in two with a single against Papelbon in the ninth.

The loss dropped the Phillies to five games under .500, matching a season low, and left manager Charlie Manuel searching for answers as he nursed a monster head cold/ear infection that required medical attention earlier in the day.

“It’s tough,” he said. “That’s a tough one.”

Manuel’s voice, raspy and weak, trailed off.

“We’re supposed to win the game,” he said.

This one?

Yep.

Lee was at 109 pitches and Papelbon was warm in the bullpen when Manuel stuck with the left-hander to open the bottom of the ninth with his team up, 3-0. Three pitches in, the Padres had runners at second and third thanks to a single and a double and Manuel was on his way to the mound to get Lee.

It’s always a little easier for a reliever to enter a clean inning. Why didn’t Manuel go to Papelbon to start the frame?

“I wanted to send Lee back out there,” Manuel said. “Pap had a lot of work last week and Lee was pitching a good game. I was waging a lot of things. But evidently I didn’t make the right choice.”

Papelbon’s fourth blown save in eight days became official when Ruiz could not handle a 2-0 splitter with two outs and Mark Kotsay at the plate. The passed ball allowed Blanks to score the tying run from third.

Ruiz said the pitch was one he should have caught.

“(Bleep) happens,” said Papelbon, using an expression that might be a good title for this season’s highlight video.

The tying run was unearned.

“A blown save is a blown save no matter which way you look at it,” Papelbon said.

This one was particularly difficult because it came on a night when Lee pitched so well. He carried a shutout into the ninth and ended up allowing two runs and a walk while striking out seven.

Lee contributed to the ninth-inning unraveling by allowing a single and a double on the first three pitches he threw in the inning.

“I wanted to stay in the game and I’m glad I got the chance,” he said. “I felt like I made good pitches (in the ninth). They just put good swings on them.

“I don’t know what to say. I felt like I pitched a good game and gave us a chance to win. It just didn’t happen.”

The Phillies entered the game with the worst bullpen ERA (4.67) in the majors and lived up to it with Papelbon and De Fratus combining on three walks and two hit batsmen in 1 1/3 innings.

De Fratus called the loss “heartbreaking” because of the way Lee pitched.

“It just fell apart at the end,” De Fratus said. “It’s tough.”

A loss Tuesday night would put the Phils a season-high six games under .500. The Phils are 17-23 on the road with nine more games left on this trip.

It’s difficult to imagine this thing turning around, but Lee maintains hope.

“That’s the only way I can look at it,” he said. “I expect us to come in tomorrow and win, and the next day the same thing. That’s the only way to look at it.”

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta has long-awaited meeting with Roy Halladay

Phillies prospect Nick Pivetta has long-awaited meeting with Roy Halladay

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Phillies pitching prospect Nick Pivetta had one of those pinch-me moments Saturday.

He met his boyhood idol, Roy Halladay, at a charity event.

Someone had filled in Halladay that Pivetta had grown up in Canada and had regularly watched Toronto Blue Jays games on television. Pivetta loved watching Halladay pitch, as he talked about a few weeks ago here.

“I got to briefly shake his hand,” Pivetta said Sunday morning. “He knew I was like a stalker. He said, ‘Oh, right, you’re the guy from British Columbia.’ “

Halladay, who pitched for the Phils from 2010 to 2013, lives in the Clearwater area. Pivetta said he expected to speak more with Halladay in the coming days.

Halladay was honored at the 44th annual Clearwater For Youth banquet and Pivetta attended with a number of his teammates and Phillies officials. Phillies chairman David Montgomery and his wife Lyn were also honored for their charitable works.

Pivetta will pitch for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic in March.

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

Phillies manager Pete Mackanin: Adam Morgan is a definite bullpen candidate

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Just pitch.
 
Don’t worry about the role.
 
Just pitch.
 
That’s Adam Morgan’s mindset this spring.
 
“I’m just trying to show whoever needs to see it that I can be an asset to this team,” the left-hander said after his spring debut against the New York Yankees on Saturday (see story). “I’m just keeping it simple that way. I’m not trying to go out for that fifth (starting) spot. If the fifth spot opens up, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want to put me in the bullpen, I’d be more than willing to do that. If they want me to be the backup catcher, I’ll be the backup catcher.”
 
The Phillies have plenty of candidates for backup catcher.
 
And the top five spots in their starting rotation, barring an unforeseen development, are accounted for.
 
But there is a way for Morgan to make this team.
 
“He’s definitely a bullpen candidate,” manager Pete Mackanin said.
 
Mackanin is on record as saying he’d like to have two lefties in what likely will be a seven-man bullpen. It might not work out that way, but that would be Mackanin’s preference.
 
Morgan is one of what appears to be four candidates along with Joely Rodriguez, Cesar Ramos and Sean Burnett. Ramos and Burnett are experienced major-league veterans in camp on minor-league contracts. Rodriguez is the only pure lefty reliever on the 40-man roster. Morgan, of course, is on the 40-man roster, but he’s mainly been a starter in his career.

There’s a long way to go in spring training and it would not be surprising to see general manager Matt Klentak add to the list of lefty relief candidates with some type of pickup before the end of camp.
 
But for now, it’s just these four.
 
Morgan, who turns 27 on Monday, started and pitched two scoreless innings against the Yankees on Saturday and will likely continue to have his innings stretched out throughout the Grapefruit League season, just in case he’s needed as a starter.

Ramos and Rodriguez both pitched an inning Saturday. Ramos allowed a hit and a run. Rodriguez had a clean inning. Burnett was tagged for two hits and two runs on Friday.
 
Morgan made 21 starts for the Phillies last season. He also made two relief appearances and finished the season with a 6.04 ERA. He was sent to Triple A in July and returned in mid-August. He made nine starts after returning and pitched at least six innings and gave up two or fewer earned runs in four of them.
 
During his time in Triple A, Morgan started throwing a two-seam fastball or sinker. He’s continued to throw it this spring and believes it will help him.
 
“I learned to trust the two-seamer last year and that’s what I hope to keep moving forward with,” he said.
 
Will it take him to the Phillies’ bullpen?
 
He hopes so. He got a taste of relieving last season and liked it.
 
“Oh, yeah, I loved it,” he said. “Every time the phone rang down there, I was on high alert. It was awesome. It’s a rush.
 
“But wherever I land, I land. I’d be willing to play anywhere on this team.”