Phillies Notes: Papelbon's rocky stretch continues

San Diego's Kyle Blanks scores on a passed ball ahead of Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon's tag, tying Monday's game in the ninth. The Padres won it in the 10th.
San Diego's Kyle Blanks scores on a passed ball ahead of Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon's tag, tying Monday's game in the ninth. The Padres won it in the 10th. (      LENNY IGNELZI / AP)
Posted: June 27, 2013

SAN DIEGO - Jonathan Papelbon followed his sacrosanct routine Monday. He walked to the bullpen in the sixth inning. He stretched in the eighth. He began tossing in the ninth with one out. He peered toward home plate when Cliff Lee was announced as the hitter and the process halted.

"I just warm up," Papelbon said. "They say, 'Warm up.' I warm up. I don't think or try to figure out when I'm coming into the ball game."

It was reasonable to assume Papelbon would enter in the ninth inning of what was an eventual 4-3 Phillies loss. Lee had thrown 109 pitches. He contributed eight shutout innings. This was a chance to install some confidence in Papelbon, who endured a difficult week. Manager Charlie Manuel decided otherwise.

Lee threw three pitches in the ninth. He jogged to the dugout with runners on second and third. Papelbon arrived and allowed a two-run flare single. With two outs, he threw a nasty splitter that Carlos Ruiz could not catch. The tying run scored on a passed ball.

Papelbon's sole mistake was hitting Jesus Guzman, which pushed the eventual tying run to second base. But the bloop and passed ball were products of bad luck.

"He's in a little funk," Manuel said. "Things aren't going his way right now."

Papelbon blew four saves in eight days. His ERA spiked from 1.46 to 2.12. Those four blown saves match his total from all of last season.

"It's not any tougher than any other situation I've been in," Papelbon said. "I've been in this situation a million times before. I don't really carry previous ball games into the next day. It's just not what I do."

The Phillies want Papelbon to succeed, of course, so they can win. They could use him as a trade chip, too. Papelbon has some $30 million of guaranteed money remaining in his contract.

It is unlikely teams would be scared away by a few bad outings, given Papelbon's track record.

Extra Bases

The Phillies signed veteran reliever Mike MacDougal to a minor-league contract and assigned him to triple-A Lehigh Valley for bullpen depth. MacDougal, an all-star a decade ago, posted a 2.05 ERA in 69 games for Los Angeles in 2011. But the 36-year-old righthander has yet to appear in the majors this year. . . . Cole Hamels has a 2.15 ERA in 13 career starts against his hometown Padres. He starts Wednesday.


 

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