Manager Joe Girardi booed for removing Zack Wheeler during Phillies’ walk-off win over Padres
Escrito por Pedro Mejia el julio 3, 2021
Joe Girardi’s once strong approval rating as the Phillies manager has been waning in recent weeks and it seemed to hit an all-time low Friday night even though his team pulled off a 4-3, 10-inning victory over the white-hot San Diego Padres.
Brad Miller allowed the Phillies to avert another disheartening defeat by blasting a pinch-hit RBI double off the front of the center-field wall off San Diego reliever Austin Adams to end the game after the bullpen blew another save in the top of the ninth. It was the Phillies’ eighth blown save in nine games and their major-league leading 22nd of the season.
— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) July 3, 2021
But the real drama had unfolded earlier. With two outs in the top of the eighth inning, Girardi emerged from the home dugout at Citizens Bank Park and headed straight for home-plate umpire Chris Guccione. He was making a double switch that included the removal of Zack Wheeler following another brilliant performance in a season filled with them by the veteran right-hander.
The crowd of 22,653 loudly and relentlessly booed Girardi even before he got to the mound and took the ball from Wheeler. These people, of course, know what a disaster the Phillies’ bullpen has been this season and by the end of the evening they saw more of the same.
The boos were replaced temporarily by a loud and long ovation for Wheeler as he headed for the Phillies’ dugout. They resumed, however, after Girardi handed the ball to lefty Jose Alvarado and returned to the dugout.
“It’s part of the job,” Girardi said. “I’ve said all along: Phillies fans just want us to do well. And you know what? I’m frustrated, too, just like they are … so I’m OK with it.”
Girardi explained that his decision to remove Wheeler after 114 pitches was more about future starts than Friday night.
“That’s the decision,” the manager said. “We’ve got a long way to go. He’s thrown so many innings for us already and there’s concern on my part because of that.”
Wheeler leads the majors with 114 innings pitched in his 17 starts. He has never pitched 200 innings in a season. Wheeler said he understood both Girardi’s decision and the negative reaction by the fans.
“Obviously, of course, I wanted to be out there,” he said. “But it’s about the long term. I want to be doing this for the whole season and not just half of it. I get the [fan] frustration. [The bullpen] has been kind of shaky, but I’ll take Joe’s back on this. As soon as we met in the dugout, I told him, ‘I appreciate you for letting me go back out for the eighth.’ ”
The boos intensified in the ninth inning when Alvarado and fellow lefty Ranger Suarez combined to blow a 3-0 lead. The bulk of the blame belonged to Alvarado, whose title as team closer is already on thin ice even though he only recently replaced Hector Neris in the role. Alvarado opened the ninth with a walk to Jake Cronenworth before allowing a one-out RBI double to Fernando Tatis Jr.
A second walk ended Alvarado’s outing. Like Girardi, he departed to a chorus of boos.
Suarez retired Eric Hosmer to get the Phillies within an out of a victory, but Jurickson Profar followed with a game-tying double down the third-base line and the ballpark anger level became palpable. To Suarez’s credit, he prevented the Padres from scoring again in the 10th and earned a victory that should have gone to Wheeler.
In his second season with the Phillies, Wheeler continued the best stretch of his career by blanking the Padres on four hits over 7 2/3 innings. It marked the 10th time in 17 starts this season that he has gone at least seven innings and allowed three runs or fewer. His overall ERA is down to 2.05 and if not for the remarkable work of his former Mets teammate Jacob deGrom he’d be in the conversation for the 2021 Cy Young Award right now.
“It’s amazing,” Miller said after delivering his walk-off double. “It doesn’t get talked about enough because what deGrom is doing is amazing and historic, but what our guy is doing is Cy Young and MVP worthy. It’s all of it. Love his demeanor, he’s a workhorse and, yeah, it has been really special to get to watch him pitch every fifth day.”
The crowd Friday night definitely loved watching Wheeler pitch against the Padres and they made it clear they wanted to see even more.