Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Schwimer's effort powers Phillies

PHILADELPHIA – Each time Charlie Manuel is asked if he thinks he could use some help filling his bullpen via trade, the manager answers diplomatically, knowing the hand he’s been dealt.
“What we have is what we have,” is one version of his response. What the Phillies have are a majority of arms that should be continuing to develop in the minor leagues, not learning on the job in the major leagues.
But the 2012 season has been defined by injuries and the bullpen has not been immune, with three right-handers having undergone surgeries (Jose Contreras, David Herndon and Mike Stutes) and another dealing with an elbow injury since January (Justin De Fratus).
The trial and error bullpen is tested on a nightly basis. On Tuesday night against the Pittsburgh Pirates, one member of the green team passed the test in a critical spot to help the Phillies take a 5-4 win.
Michael Schwimer took over for starter Vance Worley with the Phils up 4-3, no one out and runners on second and third in the seventh.
The 26-year-old Schwimer, who has struggled as badly as any of the rookies relievers this season, induced a comebacker from Jose Tabata to record the first out. Three pitches later, he was out of the inning unscathed.
Neil Walker flew out to left and John Mayberry Jr. fired a one-hop strike to Carlos Ruiz at the plate to cut down the would-be, game-tying run as the Phils held onto the one-run lead. As he walked back to the dugout, Schwimer let loose on a rebel’s yell, knowing it may have been the biggest outs of his young big league career.
Schwimer had an 8.48 ERA in his first stint with the Phillies this season, allowing at least one run in four of his five appearances. But since being recalled earlier this month, he hasn’t allowed a run in eight of 10 appearances.
Schwimer has a 1.86 ERA and opponents are hitting .129 (4-for-31) in June.
After Schwimer exited, the two veterans in the bullpen finished the Bucs off. Antonio Bastardo allowed a leadoff double and then set down three straight in the eighth before Jonathan Papelbon flirted with trouble, giving up a one-out solo home run, before rebounding from his first blown save of the season to nail down the Phils’ second straight win.
Worley pitched the first six to collect his first victory in more than six weeks. He allowed three runs on six hits while striking out five and walking two.
Worley entered the night without a win since May 11, his last start before a three-week stint on the disabled list with elbow pain. He has a 2.70 ERA in five starts since returning from the DL and a 2.92 ERA overall in 12 starts this season.
The offense, which had scored a total of eight runs in Worley’s previous four starts, gave the pitchers help early and often Tuesday night. Everyone in the starting eight had at least one hit, save Mayberry, who did his part by cutting down the aforementioned runner at the plate in the seventh.
Ruiz, who applied the tag on that play, was once again at ignition switch at the plate. Ruiz collected his second straight, three-hit game, including a two-out, run-scoring single in the first inning that accounted for the game’s first run.
Ruiz also supplied the Phils with their last run, which proved to be as important as any run they would score all night. With the Phils holding a 4-3 lead, Ruiz led off the eighth by ripping an 0-2 cutter from Juan Cruz into the left field seats.
The home run was the 10th of the season for Ruiz, a career high. Although he is in third place in National League All-Star voting for catchers – almost one million votes behind leader Buster Posey of San Francisco, Ruiz leads all of baseball, regardless of position, with a .361 batting average.
Ty Wigginton also homered for the Phillies


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