The Phillies had Tuesday night's game against the Reds in the bag. Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth went back-to-back in the second inning, giving the Phils a 2-0 lead. The Phillies tacked on another run in the third, but should have done much more damage. The Phillies wasted numerous opportunities to increase their lead, leaving the bases loaded in the third, failing to convert on a Carlos Ruiz leadoff triple in the fourth inning, and stranding two more runners in the seventh. The Phillies went 1 for 12 with RISP, leaving twelve runners on base.
Starter J.A. Happ was almost able to overcome the Phillies' LOB issues. Almost. Happ only permitted six hits, but two of those hits were home runs, accounting for all three runs allowed by Happ. The rookie southpaw went seven innings, walking none, whiffing seven, and certainly performing well enough to merit a victory. Happ left with the score tied at three. Ryan Madson followed with a scoreless eighth, but closer Brad Lidge, pitching in a non-save situation, surrendered the winning Reds' run in the ninth. It was a tough loss, it what was a very winnable game.
A couple of moves by Phillies' Manager Charlie Manuel also played a role in the loss. Using Brad Lidge in the ninth inning, in a non-save opportunity, was not among his questionable moves. Since the Phillies were at home, there would be no save opportunity, as the score was tied in the ninth. Lidge has been pitching better as of late, he just didn't get the job done on Tuesday. The questionable moves were his usage of Eric Bruntlett. Specifically, why does Manuel persist in allowing Eric Bruntlett to participate in MLB games? In the seventh inning, Manuel called in the .141-"hitting" Gnome to pinch-hit for Greg Dobbs. Bruntlett should not be pinch-hitting for anyone not named "Gabor", let alone Dobbs, who has been hitting well as of late. Manuel, presumably, was trying to maneuver Reds' Manager Dusty Baker into countering his move with a pitching change. Then, Manuel would have pinch-hit for Bruntlett with Matt Stairs. However, Baker did not feel the need to use a pitching change on an offensive non-entity, and Bruntlett struck out. The go-ahead run was stranded at third. Inexplicably, Bruntlett was sent to the plate again in the ninth, even though he did have legitimate MLB batters available to pinch-hit for him. (I would have batted pitcher Chan Ho Park for Bruntlett, and then had Park pitch the tenth inning. After Park had, heroically, tied the game.) The Gnome grounded out, reducing the Phillies' Win Expectancy from 10.2% to 0.0%. However, the Phillies should have put the game away long before The Gnome got involved.
The Phillies will battle the Reds in the third game of the four-game series Wednesday. Rodrigo Lopez, with one start in MLB this season, a good one last Friday, takes the hill for the Phils. Homer Bailey, who has also spent the majority of 2009 in AAA, starts for the Reds. This game could feature a lot of runs and/or runners left on base. In the hours before the onslaught begins, you have plenty of time to submit a few thousand votes for Shane Victorino!