May 23, 1991
Making just his second start of the season, the Phillies’ Tommy Greene, a former first-round pick of the Braves with six major league victories to his credit, pitched a no-hitter against the Expos, striking out 10 and walking seven in the process.
Facing the Expos again five days later, he hurled a second straight shutout, allowing three hits, walking none and striking out nine in what could be argued was an even better performance. He threw 130 pitches in the no-hitter, as opposed to 110 in the second shutout.
In all, Greene allowed one run over 31 innings during the month of May. He went on to finish the season 13-7 with a 3.38 ERA in 207 2/3 innings, a total he reached despite pitching out of the bullpen for six weeks.
Unfortunately, it was one of only two healthy seasons Greene would have as a major leaguer. After throwing 120 pitches eight times in 1991, including 136 and 133 in September outings, he went 3-3 with a 5.32 ERA in a 1992 season in which he was limited by shoulder problems.
Healthy again in 1993, he went 16-4 with a 3.42 ERA to finish sixth in the NL Cy Young balloting. However, he was a major bust in the postseason, giving up 17 runs over 11 2/3 innings in his three starts. In his lone World Series outing, he allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings in Game 4. The Phillies overcame his struggles and took a 12-7 lead in the fifth inning, only to eventually lose to the Blue Jays 15-14.
Suffering from more shoulder problems, Greene won just two major league games after 2003. He retired at age 30 after a 1997 season spent primarily with Houston’s Triple-A affiliate.
The Cardinals went from winning 100 games last season to 82 entering Wednesday evening’s game, and they might not even make the playoffs. Still, the organization will bring back manager Mike Matheny for the 2017 season, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Owner Bill DeWitt, Jr. said, “Mike’s done a really good job for us. There’s no thought that we’re going to go in any different direction.”
GM John Mozeliak also expressed his support, saying, “Mike takes a lot of heat, and I’ve defended him and I will continue to. I really feel like some of the things that we’re dealing with aren’t fair to put on the manager.”
Mozeliak continued, “I do feel like all of us are always held accountable for what we do here, so there’s nobody excluded from that. But having said that, I don’t look at him as someone that we are where we are because of that.”
Matheny has received criticism for his bullpen usage, but the Cardinals have only 15 blown saves as a team, the fourth-lowest total in baseball this season.
The Phillies’ bullpen led to yet another loss on Tuesday. Severino Gonzalez, Luis Garcia, Joely Rodriguez, and David Hernandez combined to allow six runs in five innings, allowing the Braves to come back and win 7-6 after falling behind 6-0 after the first two innings.
The game prior, the Phillies’ bullpen surrendered 14 runs in four innings in a 17-0 loss to the Mets. The game before that, the bullpen yielded four runs in four innings, nearly squandering the Phillies’ 10-0 lead after four innings. And last Thursday, the Phillies had taken an 8-6 lead in the top of the 11th, but Edubray Ramos served up a walk-off three-run home run to Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s been a tough month.
Manager Pete Mackanin ripped the bullpen when speaking to the media after Tuesday’s game. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:
Neris was going to close for us. I thought about using him with two outs in the eighth. But, at some point, somebody else has to do a (bleeping) job. Somebody else has to (bleeping) step up. In two games now, every reliever I brought in has given up a (bleeping) run. That’s unheard of.
The Phillies currently own the fourth-worst bullpen ERA in baseball at 4.97. Only the Rockies (5.12), Reds (5.07), and Diamondbacks (4.98) have been worse.
In fairness to the bullpen, aside from Jeanmar Gomez (who lost his job as closer earlier this month) and free agent signee David Hernandez, the bullpen is intentionally comprised of young, inexperienced pitchers as the Phillies are still rebuilding. If the Phillies were aiming for a playoff spot, it would be one thing, but the struggles are to be expected when one throws 24-year-olds into the deep end.