Monday, March 31, 2008

It could be a long season: Phillies bullpen shelled in Opener

Boy, the Phillies really know how to suck the excitement out of Opening Day. The Phillies Achilles heel, their pitching, reared its ugly head today as the Phils lost to the Nationals 11-6. The Phillies seemed in control of the game through the first four innings, as Brett Myers coasted and the offense put up two runs. Myers imploded in the 5th, when he loaded the bases on two singles and a hit batter. He ended up giving up 4 runs to allow the Nationals to take a 4-2 lead. Ryan Madsen pitched the 6th inning and gave up a two-run blast to Lastings Milledge to help the Nats expand their lead to 6-2.

The Phillies offense then took control, with homers by Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins to give the Phils a tie heading into the 9th inning. Then, Charlie Manuel made his first questionable call of the season and sent interim closer Tom Gordon out in a tie game. J.C. Romero had thrown only 12 pitches in the 8th, striking out two Nationals, and he seemed like the logical choice to go back out to the mound. Instead, Gordon was rocked, giving up 4 hits and 5 runs while only getting one out. The Phils offense was shut out in the bottom of the 9th, and Gordon took the loss to go with his 135.00 ERA.

This was not the start the Phillies were hoping for. The offense did its part, but the pitching looked like it did all spring: pathetic. Only Romero and Chad Durbin looked effective on the mound. Obviously, it's still very early in the season, so there is no need to panic, but it's sickening to see the one problem the Phillies have cost them the first game of the season.

The Phillies have an off-day tomorrow, and will look to bounce back against the Nationals on Wednesday with Cole Hamels facing off against Tim Redding.

Highlights of the game, from Comcast SportsNet:

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