Jonathan Papelbon entered the ninth inning last night looking for his first save of the year. What proceeded to happen was a complete meltdown in the biggest moments of the game. Papelbon allowed three runs on five hits with two walks, including walking in the game-winning run, in just 1/3 of an inning.
The outing was horrendous and Papelbon was far from sharp.
Following the game, the Phillies' closer repeatedly used the line "just one of those innings." It was particularly bothersome that Papelbon seemed to be somewhat deflecting blame in the loss to the defense behind him. Leonys Martin hit a ball back up the middle past a diving Chase Utley to score the game-tying run.
MLB.com's Todd Zolecki writes,
"Obviously, I don't know whether that's called for the bench or called from the middle infielders, but less than two outs I'm thinking ground ball and I'm thinking let's get this double play and go home," Papelbon said. "Obviously, I'm not going to second guess my teammates or my coach. Whatever they decide I've got to run with it and go with it and do my best to do my job. But it's just one of those weird innings, man."
Either way, in my opinion, Papelbon should have never put his teammates in that position to be with. Furthermore, Papelbon throwing his arms up in disgust when the ball got by Utley is not alright in my book. The closer's job is to go out there and get three outs - do your job before showing up other people.
It isn't the first time Papelbon has questioned the Phillies defense in the last 12 months either.
The efforts of the bullpen have been a far cry from the "top five bullpen" prediction Papelbon made less than a month ago. It was then I noted, "All of this is all well and good but if Papelbon struggles this season, the Phillies bullpen is going to falter in a major way... What is more alarming is the lack of velocity on Papelbon's fastball as it hovered at 92 mph last season after consistently landing in the 94-95 mph in the years prior."
His fastball topped out at 91 mph last night. There must be concerns surrounding the Phillies closer.
But, of course, Papelbon didn't come here for this.
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