After a nauseating loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates last night where the back end of the bullpen blew a late lead, the Philadelphia Phillies looked to salvage a series split on Wednesday. They handed the ball to the man who has stopped the bleeding for them all season, Cliff Lee.
Lee was not his sharpest today, but he was competitive and kept his team in the game for the duration of his outing. He scattered ten hits over seven innings, the worst being the seventh as he gave up two runs on three hits and a walk, allowing the Pirates to knot the game up at 3-3.
Yet once again, it was the bullpen that imploded in a key point in the game. Phillippe Aumont, who took over for Lee, was tagged for three runs on three hits, only recording one out in the eighth inning. The Pirates took a 6-3 lead and did not look back.
The Phillies were able to muster a meaningless run in the bottom of the eighth inning off of Pirates reliever Tony Watson, but he came out and threw a scoreless ninth inning and recorded a save.
Manuel has been under much scrutiny with his decision-making so far this season. He has been labeled as being too friendly of a manager and putting too much trust in players instead of playing situational baseball.
Manuel knows his players more than anybody and has decades of baseball experience to back his reputation. He made the right decision today in keeping Lee in to finish the seventh. The bullpen is clearly an issue, and Manuel has acknowledged it.
With Mike Adams‘ injury, Aumont’s unreliability and middle relief getting shelled ever time they touch the field, all Manuel can hope for is a change of luck.