What A Buzz Kill

28 Jun

Well if the game had only lasted one inning last night, it would have been a dream debut for Chase Utley.  In fact if you had scripted it, no one would have believed it.  When Utley hit a 2-2 curveball out of the park for a solo home run in his long-awaited first at bat of the season, it was truly a magical moment for Chase and all of us watching in the stands and at home.  And when the hotter than hot Carlos Ruiz followed with a home run blast of his own (his second in as many nights,) it looked like the beginning of a perfect night at the ball park.

Now if you want to continue your day happy and carefree I suggest you stop reading right here.  That’s right.  Delete the rest of this post and move on.  Go ahead.  I’t’s OK.  I’ll wait.

If you’re still reading, don’t say I didn’t warn you because it didn’t take long for this beautiful night to turn into an ugly nightmare, and I mean really ugly.  The Phillies went on to lose the game 11-7 despite a valiant attempt at a comeback in the seventh closing the gap to 8-7.  But that momentum lasted only as long as it took the next Phillies pitcher to make that walk in from the bullpen.

And that’s what really bothers me.  it’s not losing the game, although I’m not thrilled about that either, believe me, but it’s the decision to make last night a bullpen game that I just can’t let go unmentioned.  Using bullpen pitchers as starters isn’t a great idea even when you have a good bullpen.  But let’s face it, this pen is, well, let’s just be kind and say that ‘good’ is certainly not the word I would use to describe it, which makes Wednesday’s decision even more bewildering.

Inning after inning, they marched in from the bullpen.  They might as well have been making the march to face a firing squad because one after another, they were lit up by a Pirates team firing on all cylinders.  And it’s not like the Pirates are an offensive juggernaut.  In fact the Pirates’ offense was ranked 29th in baseball coming in to last night’s game.  That’s 29th out of 30 teams!

So maybe you’re thinking that the Phillies must have had no other options.  Well, think again.  How about bringing up one of their  promising young starters from Triple A, like right-hander Tyler Cloyd, who is 7-1 with a 2.17 ERA and was chosen for the International League All-Star team?  Ok, so he pitched on Saturday and to use him last night, the Phillies would have had to push him back and have him pitch on eight days rest. But it seems to this blogger that the positives of using a real starter, even a minor league one, would have far outweighed the negatives.

What positives you might ask?  First, the Phillies management would get to see one of their young studs pitch at the major league level, to see what he’s got; the kid would get some needed experience with the big club and get a major league start under his belt.  And we’ve all seen those situations where the rest of the team and the fans rally around a young guy getting his first start in the majors.  Who better to rally those troops than a returning Chase Utley?

The worst thing that could have happened is that the Phillies  might have lost the game, a game that they had seemingly already “thrown” away with the decision that the pen was their “best option.”

And did I mention that the Phillies have a 1:05 start today?  The starter?  Kyle Kendrick, a guy not necessarily known for going deep into his games.  So what happens if they need to go to the pen early this afternoon?  I mean who’s left to pitch after the bullpen slaughter that was last night.  Knowing they had a day game today makes the “best option” decision even more puzzling.

So that’s what really irks me.  The Phillies had a real opportunity last night to give their team a much needed lift with the return of Chase Utley, who certainly did his part going 3-5, including a home run, 1 RBI and one run scored (and he just missed another homer in his second at-bat,) but they squandered that chance with a decision that’s just plain, well, let’s just say hard to understand.

OK, I’m done.  If you’re still reading, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

But let’s end where we started, with the good news.  Chase is back, and while it’s only one game it’s great to see number 26 back on the field, and it sounds like Ryan Howard’s not too far behind.  Now if only Chooch could catch and pitch, we might have something here.

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