The Philadelphia Phillies have made such a habit of losing baseball games via bullpen collapse that such losses and collapses must be particularly gruesome to merit mention. Oh, Corey Knebel coughed up a lead in the ninth inning? That’s no big deal. Some other clown walked in a run in the 12th inning? Yawn. But tell me that Jeurys Familia gave up a 10th-inning run by failing to cover first base and committing a throwing error on the same play, and then struggled to properly tie his shoes several times before the inning was over, and you have my attention.
With their game against the Giants tied 3-3 in the 10th inning on Tuesday, the Phillies turned to Familia. The first batter of the inning, Joc Pederson, hit a grounder up the first-base line which should have easily led to the first out of the inning, but Familia forgot to cover the bag. This mental lapse not only allowed Pederson to reach base safely, but gave the runner on second a chance to come around and score after Familia bobbled the throw from his first baseman. You really can’t start an outing much worse than this:
After throwing a wild pitch that allowed Pederson to advance to second, Familia—who it should be noted takes an excruciatingly long time between pitches—stopped to tie his right shoelace. Then he stopped to tied the same shoelace several more times before the inning was over!
Familia eventually got out of the inning without giving up any more runs, and the Phillies even came back to tie the game in the bottom of the 10th. I probably do not need to tell you that they immediately gave up three more runs in the top of the 11th and lost the game 7-4.
Now, you might be thinking that, for once, this is a Phillies bullpen meltdown that beleaguered manager Joe Girardi didn’t have a direct hand in authoring. After all, what role could a manager play in his pitcher forgetting both how to cover first and how to tie his shoes? Aha! Not so fast! Before Tuesday’s game started, Girardi spoke to reporters about how badly his bullpen has performed and been managed this season, and he revealed that he has something of a policy that prevents him from using a reliever on three consecutive days.
“You can run a guy out there three days in a row and I can guarantee you his stuff won’t even be close on the third day to what it would be on the first or second,” he said.
Well, check this out: Familia pitched on May 29, and then again on May 30, which would make his Tuesday appearance against the Giants his … third consecutive appearance. Obviously he was too fatigued to properly tie his shoes before taking the mound, which then affected his ability to effectively cover first base. So, once again, we can hang this Phillies loss on Girardi.