Thursday wasn't the best night for Jonathan Papelbon's sixth blown save.
In his first appearance since the trade deadline -- which saw him stay put because his market thinned as his velocity declined -- Papelbon allowed four straight singles to start the ninth inning. A 1-0 win for Cole Hamels turned into a 2-1 loss, Papelbon's first of the season.
Hamels was brilliant. He scattered eight baserunners over eight shutout innings to lower his ERA to 3.87. It's the first time all year his ERA has been under 4.00 ... going all the way back to the first inning of his first start, when he allowed a homer.
Yet another opportunity for a W was missed, both for the Phillies and Hamels (4-13). An uplifting series win at home after a tense deadline period would have meant a lot. Instead it's just another losing streak.
Papelbon ... yikes. He's consistently at 91-92 mph with the fastball. As bad as he's been talked about lately, he still has a 2.59 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. But we're just at the point with Papelbon where each misstep will be scrutinized because the Phillies aren't the team they thought they were when they signed him, nor is he the pitcher he was when they gave him more than $50 million.
Papelbon will recover, he's still a great reliever with a disappearing splitter who'll put together two more solid seasons if he stays in Philadelphia. Really, the only other way out would seem to be a team claiming him this month and absorbing his remaining salary ($26 million with a $13MM vesting option), or trading a mediocre prospect to the Phillies for him.
The Phillies' lone run Thursday night came on a fifth-inning RBI single from Hamels himself. He outdeled Matt Cain (7-6, 4.57), who, like Hamels, has recovered from a horrific start to the season. Cain allowed a run on six hits over eight innings. If you toss out a nine-run start against the Dodgers, he has a 2.28 ERA in eight of his last nine starts.
The Phils are 50-58, 13.5 games behind in the NL East to the Braves, who they begin a three-game weekend series at CBP with on Friday night. It'll be an exciting few days. Ethan Martin is making his major-league debut Friday against Kris Medlen, and a recovering Darren Daulton will be in town for the Alumni Weekend festivities on Saturday.