PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 15: Michael Schwimer #39 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch during the game against the Florida Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on September 15, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Phillies won 2-1 in the bottom of the 10th inning. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Stop me if you've heard this before, but the Phillies bullpen isn't that good.
With a three game sweep of the Colorado firmly in their grasp, the bullpen once again let a small lead turn into a big one, as they all but placed the third game of the series square in the shaky hands of the Rockies.
After Cole Hamels and the offense led the Phillies to a convincing win on Tuesday night, they were able to overcome a one-run deficit in the ninth inning to walk it off at home in the middle game on Wednesday, as they took the first two of the series.
Things were looking up on Thursday night, especially after Jimmy Rollins led the game off with a homer to stake the Phillies to an early lead. But, despite the fact that they were getting guys on base against Colorado starter Jeff Francis, they were unable to do much more, as the veteran lefty was able to keep the Phillies in check over five innings of work.
However, one run seemed like it was enough for Vance Worley, who was cruising right along through six plus innings of work, and seemed to be on the precipice of seven shutout innings and his fourth win of the season. That was the case, anyway, until Colorado second baseman Chris Nelson pummeled a two-out, two-run homer to spoil Worley's fine outing, as the Rockies took a one run lead.
But if history has taught us anything, a one-run lead is far from insurmountable, especially with nine outs to go. All that the Phillies needed was one or two timely hits and two shutout frames from the bullpen.
It was a rocky start for the 'pen, but Jake Diekman was able to pitch around the mess that was left for him by Chad Qualls, as the Phillies kept it a one-run affair heading into the bottom of the eighth. There, things started off just fine, as Ty Wigginton hit a leadoff double, but neither Hunter Pence, Carlos Ruiz, and Shane Victorino were able to get him home.
The onus was back on the 'pen, who would need to toss another scoreless inning if the Phillies were to have any shot in this one. It started out well enough, but after Diekman walked Todd Helton with one away, Charlie Manuel called upon Michael Schwimer to face the right-handed catcher, Wilin Rosario. And right on cue, he deposited one into the seats in left, which gave the Rockies a three-run lead that was not able to be conquered.
Maybe it's unfair to heap the blame on the pen and its young, inexperienced arms, but when your starting pitcher turns in a two-run performance over seven innings, you have to keep it there just so your offense can have a shot at getting back in it. A one run lead is nothing. But three runs? That's darn near impossible with the way this offense is swinging the bats.
They talk a lot about momentum in baseball. Maybe that's real, or maybe it isn't. Either way, if the team wants to get the ball rolling before the trade deadline, they better start firing on all cylinders. And fast.