Lee, Phillies blow lead in 6-5 loss to Blue Jays

Phils starter Vance Worley was effective, but poor defense and a lack of offensive support let him down.
Phils starter Vance Worley was effective, but poor defense and a lack of offensive support let him down. (BRAD WHITE / Getty Images)
Posted: June 17, 2012

TORONTO - The bottom of the 10th inning began with a mound meeting between the new Phillies battery of Joe Savery and Erik Kratz. The pitcher, Savery, began last season as a hitter in single A. The catcher, Kratz, was recalled from triple A and arrived shortly before Saturday's first pitch.

They decided another loss because the $120 million pitcher blew another lead, the $38 million shortstop misfired from 40 feet, and the $50 million closer sat unused.

This is life for the 2012 Phillies. They lost, 6-5, to the Blue Jays, and there were so many at fault. Cliff Lee allowed five runs on 12 hits and remains winless this season. The defense made more mistakes, most notable one by Jimmy Rollins. The bullpen wilted.

"I've seen that quite a bit," a perturbed Charlie Manuel said. "We don't get it done. We're not in the moment. We can't play in the moment. We make mistakes. In about every phase of the game, we make mistakes."

It was the 11th loss in 14 games and the eighth walk-off defeat this season. No team in baseball has as many. All eight times, the richest reliever in baseball history, Jonathan Papelbon, has not pitched. The limitations of a $178 million roster, the most expensive in the National League, are countless.

Papelbon would have pitched had the Phillies still held a lead with four outs to go. Lee stumbled in the eighth and gave way to Chad Qualls, who inherited the tying run at first base with no one out. After an infield pop out, David Cooper singled and J.P. Arencibia doubled to plate Kelly Johnson for the tying score. The game never reached Papelbon.

Qualls has allowed nine of his 15 inherited runners to score, among the worst rates in baseball. The Phillies bullpen as a whole has permitted 39 percent of its inherited runners to score, which is the most in baseball.

Manuel admitted he would have likely used Antonio Bastardo instead of Qualls in that situation. Bastardo was not available to pitch because of a self-inflicted wound suffered Wednesday in the weight room when he took out his frustration and earned a large gash and swollen eye for it.

"No one is going to win or be a contender playing like this," Rollins said.

Begin with Lee, who carried a 3.18 ERA into Saturday, the lowest for any Phillies pitcher winless through his first 10 starts since the National League began tracking earned runs in 1912.

But he has blown a three-run lead in each of his last two starts. He tied a career-high with 12 hits allowed Saturday. He last did that May 3, 2009.

The game turned in the eighth inning. Toronto scored two runs on a single to left with a runner on first. Rollins fielded the cutoff throw from John Mayberry Jr. and fired it to right field. Both runners scored on the error.

"We definitely take a lot of pride around here in playing defense," Rollins said. "We've done it for years. But this year, I don't know. It's been crazy."

Lee was most upset at his leadoff walk to Jose Bautista - the only walk he gave up in the game - saying he'd rather allow a home run in that spot. "I wish I could have that at-bat back," he said.

The Phillies had staked Lee to 1-0, 4-1, and 5-2 leads before that moment. His teammates scored an insurance run in the eighth only for Lee to implode. His defense did him no favors, but Lee allowed solid contact to almost every batter.

"What's the point in getting frustrated about it?" Lee said. "All I can do is control what I can control."

His failures put the game on Savery's left arm. He was one strike away from surviving a 10th-inning threat and floated an 0-2 sinker over the plate. Rajai Davis smoked it for a game-winning hit.

As his teammates showered, Savery sat at his locker still in full uniform.

"That's a mistake," Manuel said. "When you make mistakes at this level you get burned."

The manager stewed for five minutes. When he was done talking, he had one more word to say.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @magelb.


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