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Phillies' comeback against Dodgers is one for the ages, but it was inspired by another bullpen meltdown

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"KEEP ON PHIGHTIN' WITH JOE VALLEE" 

We all know what has happened over the last two Octobers with the Phillies against the Dodgers. So is it finally safe to say that the Phillies are officially Jonathan Broxton's daddy?

From the Celtics-Sixers rivalry, Donovan McNabb and the Philadelphia Eagles  against the entire AFC, the Flyers-Devils rivalry in the late 90's-early 2000's, there have been several teams and players who have been the bane our Philly sports teams' existence over the years. And I'll tell you what, it's nice to finally see a team you root for have somebody's number for once. The Phillies stunning victory pretty much all but sealed the Dodgers' fading chances of reaching the post season. Moreover, the Phillies got to Broxton again. And by this point, it's pretty obvious that Broxton wants no parts of the Phillies whatsoever.

What happened last night at Citizens Bank Park was impressive to say the least. After all, the Phillies scored four runs in the bottom frame while mustering only one hit, and a generous error at third base by the usually sure handed Casey Blake. The only two games I think that can rival this in recent memory are last month's comeback against the Reds when the Phils trailed 7-1 entering the 9th inning, and their dramatic victory against the Mets in August 2008, when they also trailed (at one point in the game) 7-1. Eric Bruntlett tied that game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, Chris Coste came off the bench to go 4 for 4 (including the game-winning single in the 13th inning), and Carlos Ruiz played an inning at third base.

Speaking of Ruiz, his game-winning double Thursday night only reinforced that he is slowly The Phillies surely have Jonathan Broxton's number by now.surely becoming one of the Phillies' top guns. As I've said before, not every championship team has to have an All-Star at each position, but one of these years 'Chooch' is going to make the squad. Whether it's the way he handles the Phillies pitching staff or his clutch hits in the post-season, Ruiz is the perfect catcher for this team.

Now that we got all the warm, fuzzy feelings out of the way, let's break down WHY this impressive comeback happened. And yes, I'm ready for ALL of your emails telling me how much fun I can suck out of a room. So here it goes:

Truth be told, the reason the Phillies scratched, clawed, hung on for dear life, and put eight runs on the board during the last two innings of Thursday's game was because the Phillies' bullpen is a total train wreck  and put the team's offense in this hole to begin with. This is no surprise to anyone on the planet who has watched the 2010 Phillies. Tuesday and Thursday were prime examples of this. To be fair, Kyle Kendrick surrendered five runs to light the fire Tuesday night. The Phillies eventually fought back with a four spot, the 'pen (led by David Herndon, J.C. Romero, and Danys Baez) let the Dodgers right back in the game, giving up a combined nine runs. 

Despite a valiant comeback attempt, the Phillies didn't even have a chance and lost 15-9. To be fair, Herndon hasn't pitched in two weeks, but are the Phillies THAT impressed with his stuff to the point where they have to keep him on the roster all season for fear of him returning to the Angels? Romero is reportedly dealing with the effects of last year's surgery, and Baez is Baez. As far as another lefty goes, looks like you can forget Antonio Bastardo, who was extremely unimpressive Tuesday night upon his return. Jose Contreras is like the weather as is Chad Durbin. As funny as it sounds, the most effective relievers the team has at this moment are Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge(?), and needless to say they are quite flammable.

Adding to the troubles Thursday was Joe Blanton, who has an ERA of over 8 in his starts this year in the first inning. Although he eventually settles in, Blanton continues to put the team in a hole with first inning deficits. The Phillies will likely go with a three-man rotation if they make the playoffs, but Roy Oswalt  and Cole Hamels have combined for one complete game this year, so you can forget about sparing the pen on those days when Roy Halladay doesn't pitch. The 2009 Yankees had many holes in their bullpen. However, they had the greatest closer of all-time in Mariano Rivera as well as Damaso Marte, who OWNED Chase Utley and Ryan Howard despite his 9.45 ERA in the regular season.

Final Thought:

The Phillies aren't stupid. Ruben Amaro is probably having nightmares right now about this bullpen as October looms. Anyone Charlie Manuel puts out there is pretty explosive, and not in a good way. There is nobody out there he can trust, and as a manager, that's not a good feeling to have. If the Phillies don't get some waiver wire help come September 1st, their offense better run on all eight cylinders once Utley and Howard return. You can only have so many late inning comebacks before your luck runs out. If this team returns and is healthy, they are a few pieces or at least a few consistent pitchers away from realistically winning the World Series again. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

And in the meantime, Keep on Phightin.'

This date in Phillies history: August 13th, 1993

Phillies third baseman Kim Batiste hits a game-winning grand slam off Mets reliever Anthony Young in the bottom of the ninth for a dramtic 9-5 victory. The Phillies trailed the Mets 5-4 entering the bottom of the ninth inning. Recently acquired Phillies reliever Bobby Thigpen pitched a scoreless top of the ninth inning to get the win in relief. On a side note, I went to Pat's Steaks for the first time that evening with Phillies PA Announcer Dan Baker.

Joe Vallee is a lifelong Phillies fan and former Phillies batboy. Joe has claimed to have seen about 98% of every Phillies game since the early 1980's

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

Joe Torre photo: Tim Shaffer/Reuters