Clearing the bases: Lee, Phillies lose again

June, 6, 2012
6/06/12
11:04
AM ET
First base: Eighth-inning woes for Phillies. A day after I wrote about Jonathan Papelbon's essential uselessness to the Phillies this season, we saw another prime example of why. The Phillies were leading the Dodgers 1-0 in the eighth. Cliff Lee gives up a leadoff double to Matt Treanor. The Dodgers tried a sac bunt, but Lee made a great play to throw Treanor out at third. Bobby Abreu singled but Tony Gywnn Jr. was thrown out at third. Dee Gordon singled. So let's take stock of the situation. Lee had been brilliant all night, striking out 12, but was at 115 pitches. However, he hadn't retired a batter in the eighth inning; the Dodgers had given him two outs. The Dodgers had a switch-hitter Elian Herrera up, so if it's a matter of Lee or Chad Qualls facing Herrera, sure, I stick with Lee. A tired Lee is still better than Chad Qualls. Herrera had a great at-bat, fouling off two two-strike pitches before doubling to left to score two runs. In the end, however, the issue for Charlie Manuel shouldn't have been Lee versus Qualls, but the fact that your $50 million closer apparently can be trusted to get four outs. It's a joke. For Lee, it was his 122nd pitch. "The last pitch was horrible, a hanging curveball and he hit it," Lee said. Hanging curveballs can happen on pitch No. 122. But at least Papelbon is now rested for Wednesday's game. Maybe he can save a three-run lead if needed.

Second base: Rasmus fires up five hits. Huge night for Colby Rasmus in Toronto's 9-6 win against the White Sox: 5-for-5 with a double, his seventh home run, four runs and three RBIs. Amazing what one game like that will do for your stats, even in early June: Rasmus is now up to a respectable .247/.314/.447 line. He's been swinging better of late, with four doubles and four home runs in his past 10 games. I'm not sure if John Farrell will stick with it, but I loved last night's batting order: Brett Lawrie leading off and Rasmus second in front of Jose Bautista. Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson had spent all season sharing the top two spots, but maybe moving Lawrie up will take some pressure off him, allowing him to focus on getting on base and not worry about driving in runs. After drawing 16 walks in 171 plate appearances as a rookie, he's drawn just eight in 213 plate appearances. With better patience, maybe we'll start seeing the power we saw last September. Anyway, if the Blue Jays can get better production from Lawrie and Rasmus (not to mention Bautista), this lineup can start exacting the fear many envisioned. The fact that the Jays are 29-26 and third in the AL in runs scored without those three living up to expectations is a good sign for Toronto.

Third base: Dazzling Desmond. The game of the night was the Nationals' 7-6 win against the Mets, in which Ian Desmond drove in tying runs in the eighth, 10th and 12th innings, the first player with three tying or go-ahead RBIs in the eighth or later since the Reds' Art Shamsky in 1966. Desmond's night gave him the second-highest Win Probability Added score of any hitter this season. WPA calculates the change in percentage of your team's chances of winning based on the result of each plate appearance given the score and time of the game. The highest WPA this season was Joey Votto's 4-for-5, three-homer, six-RBI day against the Nationals that included a walk-off three-run homer. Desmond also has the fifth-highest WPA score for his two-out, two-run walk-off homer in a 5-4 victory against the Diamondbacks on May 2.

Home plate: Tweet of the day. Lee is now winless in nine starts, despite a 2.92 ERA, leading to this sarcasm ...

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