August 9, 2009 10:06 PM

(Don't) Blame Rapuano, for Phillies' Loss

Marlins vs. Phillies

It was, mostly, a great weekend around Citizens Bank Park. A tearful ceremony celebrating Harry Kalas, in which a Kalas plaque was added to Ashburn Alley. Guest appearances by such Phillies' luminaries as Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Ricky Jordan, Bob Boone, Tony Taylor, Juan Samuel, and Garry Maddox. Mickey Morandini and Gene Garber each paid visits to the broadcast booth. A home-run hitting contest included the bats of Jim Eisenreich and Mitch Williams. Muffin's birthday was celebrated on Sunday, and the occasion was marked with the presentation of a Muffin-topped cake, by the Phillie Phanatic and Sarge Matthews. The Phils had high hopes for a successful...WAIT! Is that Paul Bako's Music???

Cole Hamels (sung to the tune of "Blame Canada"): Should we blame BABIP?
Paul Bako: Or blame my absent bat?
Joe Blanton: Or should we blame Coghlan, that Floridian rat?
Charlie Manuel: No, blame Rapuano
Everyone: Blame Rapuano
Shane Victorino: We need to form a full assault
Everyone: It's Rapuano's fault!
Jamie Moyer: It seems like everything's gone wrong, since Rapuano came along
Everyone: Blame Rapuano!

OK. Sunday's 12-3 sweep-ensuring loss to the Marlins wasn't the fault of the home plate umpire. Starter Jamie Moyer, in what might be the last time in 2009 that he is referred to as a "starter", was roughed up for eleven hits (all singles) and a walk, in only five innings. Moyer surrendered mostly bloops and bleeders, but he was fortunate to escape with only two earned runs charged to his record, after permitting such an unhealthy number of baserunners.

The bullpen's performance was horrific. Long reliever Rodrigo Lopez, saved on Saturday, in order to back up Moyer on Sunday, came on to begin the seventh inning. Pitching on four days' rest, Lopez faced eight batters. Three got hits, three were walked, and all of the aforementioned six crossed the plate. Brad Lidge, pitching the ninth inning with a six-run deficit, got his ERA back over seven (now 7.24), by allowing three more runs. The Phillies' offense did little with Florida ace Josh Johnson, and the Marlins bullpen, getting out-hit by a 19-6 margin. The two-through-five hitters in the Phils' lineup combined for a 1 for 13 afternoon. No matter how bad the umpires were, the Phils have only themselves to blame for Sunday's loss.

That said, the tide seemed to turn Florida's way, when some umpire-infused idiocy cost the Phillies their starting centerfielder. Rodrigo Lopez threw what looked like a third strike, but home plate umpire Ed Rapuano called a ball. Centerfielder Shane Victorino put up his arms in disbelief, and Rapuano put up his arm, tossing the All-Star from the game! It was a surprising overreaction by the veteran umpire, who was immediately engaged in an unpleasant conversation with Charlie Manuel. Manuel may not have seen a player more than 350 ft. away from the umpire ejected, either. Victorino sprinted in from his position, also eager to engage the home plate umpire. However, Victorino seemed inclined to utilize some of the behaviors he had observed from watching UFC action, at the Wachovia Center on Saturday. Fortunately, Paul Bako and Ryan Howard interceded, keeping the irate and ill-intentioned Hawaiian away from the controversy-sparking official, and a subsequent suspension. Fellow UFC attendee Jayson Werth took over in center field, and the Marlins took over the ballgame.

Charlie Manuel held a team meeting after the game, an unusual move for the aggravated leader, but a prudent one after the lost weekend. Hopefully, Manuel got his point across, and the club will use their day off to put Sunday's events behind them. The Phillies divisional lead has fallen to four games, and a difficult Cubs/Braves road trip lies ahead. On the plus side, the Phils have "TBA" scheduled to toe the slab, in each of the next three games. With non-Moyer hurlers on the mound, the Phils just need to get their offense back in gear.

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