In the post 2009 era (even in the 2010 and 2011 playoff seasons), a five-run deficit has turned into an insurmountable lead for the Phillies to overcome. Generally speaking, most teams aren’t going to overcome a five-run hole, but seeing as how potent the team’s offense was from 2005 through 2009, Philadelphia became accustomed to overcoming big leads.
I don’t know if it has been the culture change that Ryne Sandberg has brought, or a product of Chase Utley and Ryan Howard finally being healthy at the same time, but the Phillies offense has looked pretty impressive so far this year, even putting up some big numbers occasionally. Tonight, that trend continued, and then some, as an early five to nothing lead, didn’t prove to be enough for the Snakes.
After mowing down the Dodgers in his previous start, Cliff Lee was pretty hit-able tonight, allowing eight hits over six innings. Lee also didn’t get a ton of help in the field tonight, as a Jimmy Rollins error in the first was part of two of the earned-runs that Lee allowed in his six inning stint. Phillie-killer Cody Ross also drove in two runs, as Lee allowed five runs over the course of the first, second, and third innings. Needless to say, it was a setback for Lee, who had an ERA under 1.50 in his previous five starts.
In what was poetic justice for the 2012 season, the offense bailed out Lee on an off-night, getting after Bronson Arroyo and and Joe Thatcher for two runs in the seventh inning, on RBI’s from Tony Gwynn Jr. and Jimmy Rollins. Trevor Cahill, who has been reduced to a bullpen role, struggled mightily in the eighth inning, allowing four runs, on RBI’s from Carlos Ruiz, two from Cody Asche, and an RBI single single from Ben Revere.
Getting a big RBI from Asche is a good sign, considering that neither him or Freddy Galvis has give the Phillies any offensive production from third-base this season. Over the course of the past two nights, it has also been nice to see that someone besides the Phillies has the worst bullpen in the National League.
Even taking that into account, things in the bottom of the ninth got pretty interesting, until Chase Utley made sure it wasn’t. After Jonathan Papelbon allowed a leadoff single from Martin Prado, Carlos Ruiz allowed a passed ball on a pitch to Paul Goldschmidt, that temporarily allowed Prado to advance to second. The unfortunate part for Prado was that he forgot that instant replay is in the MLB now. Gone are the days of stealing a base and getting the benefit of the doubt by rolling off the base and getting tagged out, and in are the days of Chase Utley tagging you out if you roll of the base, and beautiful instant replay getting the calls correct. In other words, Prado rolled off the bag after successfully stealing, and for the second time in less than a week, Chase Utley tagged someone who rolled off second-base in a key situation. And instant replay, which so many ‘baseball purists’ (who I generally agree with) maligned, got the call correct.
Had Utley not made such a heads-up play, Papelbon might not have saved the game, and the Phillies might be in a situation where they were looking to salvage one game of a three game set against an awful Diamondbacks team, tomorrow. Instead, A.J. Burnett will get the ball, looking to continue his recent success, and get the Phillies their second-consecutive series win.