On Wednesday night, a glaringly bad bullpen punctuated the Phillies’ worst stretch of the season in unraveling fashion.
The relief corps with baseball’s third-highest ERA (4.48) was incapable of securing the Phillies’ 3-1 lead as a late meltdown resulted in a 4-3 loss to the Twins (29-33).
After reeling off a season-best five straight wins, the Phillies (31-35) have now lost five straight.
The Phillies' recent 10-game span practically sums up their season to this point — good trumped by more bad.
The Phillies put up a 3-1 lead on Wednesday but multiple jams and lengthy innings ended starter Tyler Cloyd’s night after five innings, forcing plenty of weight on the shaky shoulders of the bullpen. Joe Savery allowed a run in the sixth inning. Then, Charlie Manuel showed renewed confidence in Antonio Bastardo after the lefty failed when called upon Tuesday night.
Bastardo redeemed himself by retiring Justin Morneau in the seventh with a man aboard and two outs, but the eighth was a different story. The left-hander remained in the game to face a pair of Minnesota lefties, Oswaldo Arcia and Clete Thomas, who greeted Bastardo with back-to-back doubles to tie the game. Eduardo Escobar followed with a sac bunt that turned into a bunt single, bringing in Justin De Fratus, who uncorked a wild pitch to let the go-ahead and eventual winning run score.
Among the majors, the Phillies ranked last in holds (15) entering Wednesday. Yes, even behind the Marlins (16). The bullpen’s recent letdown is a good indication why that is.
The Phillies received two-out RBIs from the struggling Delmon Young and Ben Revere. The bullpen, however, made that an afterthought.
Following the game, the Phillies announced the optioning of Cesar Hernandez to Triple A Lehigh Valley. A corresponding roster move will be made on Thursday.
Per CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury, both Chase Utley (oblique strain) and Carlos Ruiz (hamstring strain) hope to begin minor-league rehab assignments when the Phillies’ road trip ends on Sunday. Utley and Ruiz are eyeing returns sometime next week.
Meanwhile, Erik Kratz’s recovery has just begun. Kratz on Wednesday underwent surgery on his injured left knee, and according to Salisbury, team officials said he’ll be sidelined for six to eight weeks.
If there’s anyone to stand up to a losing streak, it’s Cliff Lee (7-2, 2.55), who takes the mound on Thursday. Lee is 6-1 with a 2.27 ERA following a Phillies loss this season. He’ll matchup with right-hander Kevin Correia (5-4, 4.11).