Cliff Lee's bad season mercifully came to an end Wednesday as the Phillies lost to the Nats 5-1.
That could be the best way to describe the Phillies after a 5-1 loss in Washington Wednesday afternoon sealed a .500 record for the former five-time defending National League East champions.
The loss in D.C. showcased many of the season-long themes that led to the Phillies 81-81 record: Cliff Lee pitched OK but got little run support, the Phillies big boppers did little and Jonathan Papelbon couldn’t keep the game within reach after coming in for a non-save situation.
Let’s start with Lee. The “ace” lefty dropped to 6-9 on the season despite an impressive 3.16 ERA thanks to a few bad pitches. Lee allowed two homers and three runs total while striking out seven over six innings in his final start of the lost season.
Yet again, with Lee on the hill the Phillies offense sputtered. Their only run came when rookie Darin Ruf knocked home Carlos Ruiz on a sacrifice fly. The Phillies failed twice to capitalize on Nate Schierholtz doubles and 3-4-5 hitters Chase Utley, Ruiz and Dom Brown combined to go 1-for-12.
Despite the only managing six hits off Nats starter Edwin Jackson (10-11), the Phils still were within reach when Papelbon allowed a two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth that put the game out of reach.
The third-place Phillies (17 games back from Washington) now enter the offseason without a postseason berth for the first time since 2006. They will need to address gaping holes in the roster including all three outfield positions, third base and the bullpen. Looks like General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr. will be busy this winter.