Phillies Notebook: Bastardo outing is a positive sign

Posted: July 24, 2012

EVEN AFTER you factor in the return to the lineup of Ryan Howard and Chase Utley and the return to the rotation of Roy Halladay, the Phillies are still one major component away from a team capable of going on the type of run that would lead them back into playoff contention.

That component, the bullpen, would benefit greatly if Antonio Bastardo could find a way to replicate the performance he turned in on Sunday, when he struck out the side in the ninth inning to preserve a tie in the Phillies' eventual 4-3 win over the Giants.

The lefty setup man entered the day having allowed at least one run in seven of his previous 20 outings, a stretch in which he surrendered five home runs and 11 walks while posting a 7.50 ERA. But Charlie Manuel insists that the only thing Bastardo has been missing is confidence.

"I think today was real good for him," the manager said. "It's just a matter of getting his confidence up. If he can go three or four times where he really gets them out, I feel that's really going to help him."

Bastardo spent most of last season as one of the most dominant setup men in the National League, holding opposing hitters to eight runs in 53 1/3 innings over his first 56 appearances. This year, though, he has never really seized the role as a shutdown setup man. While he had a 1.42 ERA through 18 appearances, he shared late-inning duties with righthander Chad Qualls. Lately, Manuel has resisted going to his bullpen as long as possible because of their struggles in close situations.

"When you get hit sometimes, you kind of get leery of it and you lose your confidence," Manuel said. "Almost every pitcher that pitches in the bullpen, almost every starter, goes through that. I think that he's definitely going to get over that, and I think he's kind of close to getting over it. He still shows you that he's got it. He's got the same stuff. At times, he doesn't throw the ball as hard as he can, but last year I think his confidence got up so big, he got on such a big roll, he didn't mind turning it up a little bit and showing you what he had."

Nix activated

The last time Laynce Nix was active for a game, the Phillies were 14-18 and a mere five games out of first place in the National League East. On Sunday, he was activated from the disabled list and immediately paid dividends, moving the winning run to third base on a single in the 12th inning.

To make room for Nix, who missed close to 3 months with a calf strain, the Phillies designated Jason Pridie for assignment. Pridie made just one start during his brief stint, going 2-for-3 with a double and a home run against the Braves on July 8. The veteran outfielder was 0-for-5 as a pinch-hitter since that start.

Phillers

Carlos Ruiz was out of the starting lineup for the first time since June 28, a stretch of 17 straight starts . . . Joe Blanton allowed a leadoff home run to Nate Schierholtz, the 21st homer of the season he has allowed . . .

Outfield prospect Tyson Gillies told his hometown newspaper in Kamloops, British Columbia, that the reason for his recent suspension was a verbal altercation he had with the Reading Phillies' bus driver, confirming a report on the minor league website PhoulBallz.com . . . John Mayberry Jr.'s solo home run in the fourth inning was his first extra-base hit since June 21, a stretch that covered 48 at-bats that produced eight singles, two walks and 17 strikeouts. His next drought did not last long: he homered again in the seventh inning.


Contact David Murphy at dmurphy@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @HighCheese.

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