Jonathan Papelbon, the game’s highest paid reliever, gave up three runs on four hits and two walks to blow a 3-1 lead and take a loss against the Rangers on Wednesday. But at least he was willing to shoulder the blame for it.
Well, no, that’s really not what happened at all.
“The whole inning was kind of just one of those innings. You get a cue ball down the third base line. Then you get a double-play ball, which you think is the game-ending double play. It’s not,” Papelbon said. “My whole focus was get a ground ball, get a double play and get us out of the inning.”
Said potential double-play ball — which wasn’t exactly a soft roller — came with the infield drawn well in because the bases were loaded. And the bases were loaded because Papelbon pretty much stunk up the joint. Not only was his fastball a hittable 91 mph, but he was missing with it all over the place. He ended up walking Shin-Soo Choo to end the game on a pitch that wasn’t even close.
Here’s his strike zone plot from BrooksBaseball.net:
That’s just not good. At one point, he nearly hit Donnie Murphy in the head with a splitter or slider that was meant to be low and outside.
It was the second straight game in which the Phillies’ bullpen came up short. Papelbon did pitch a scoreless frame in the season-opening win Monday, but with his velocity in decline and his command clearly not there yet, more shaky outings are likely on the way.
Giants ace Madison Bumgarner was involved in a dirt bike accident on an off-day last week. He’s expected to miss six to eight weeks with bruised ribs and a sprained left shoulder.
John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle suggests that Bumgarner’s accident could impact contract negotiations going forward. However, he does note that Bumgarner’s situation differs from Jeff Kent’s situation — Kent injured himself riding a motorcycle then lied about it to the team — because he’s been truthful and remorseful.
Bumgarner has two club options for the next two seasons at $12 million apiece which, given how he’s pitched since coming up to the big leagues, pays him significantly below market value. The two sides will come together at some point to discuss a contract extension that would keep the lefty in San Francisco beyond 2019. The Giants aren’t likely to attempt to recoup money as a result of Bumgarner’s injuries — Shea cites Section 5(b) of the Uniform Player Contract — because it might motivate him to test free agency and it would likely leave a bad taste in fans’ mouths. But the uncertainty about the effect Bumgarner’s injuries might mean the Giants are less willing to commit a large amount of money or less willing to go beyond a certain number of years to keep him around for the foreseeable future.
Three players were suspended on Monday after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. They are: Indians pitcher Steve Delabar, Mariners pitcher Jonathan Aro, and free agent pitcher Jeffry Hernandez. Aro got a 50-game suspension while the other two were handed 80-game suspensions.
Delabar, 33, hasn’t pitched yet this season after signing a minor league deal with the Indians back in January. He spent last year with the Reds as well as the Hiroshima Carp in the Japan Central League. The right-hander has struggled over the last few seasons.
Aro, 26, also hasn’t appeared yet this season in the minors. He’s worked mostly in relief. The right-hander appeared briefly in the majors with the Mariners last season and logged 10 1/3 innings in the show with the Red Sox in 2015. Aro went to the Mariners along with Wade Miley in the trade that brought the Red Sox Carson Smith and Roenis Elias.
Hernandez, 22, is a free agent and his suspension will be effective if and when he signs with a new team.