Jonathan Papelbon didn’t just blow a save when he squandered a three-run lead against the Marlins, who came back to beat the Phillies 5-4, thanks to a disastrous ninth inning by the Phillies closer.
The Phillie with the second most saves in franchise history blew up like a volcano after umpire Joe West ejected Papelbon for making an obscene gesture toward jeering fans as he approached the dugout after giving up four runs in the decisive frame.
Papelbon stormed out of the dugout and went face to face with West, who grabbed his jersey and moved the volatile closer. Another umpire and Ryne Sandberg stepped in before it got uglier.
“He (West) threw Papelbon out of the game and I said I didn’t see anything,” Sandberg said of the gesture. “I don’t know what you’re talking about (was what he said to West).”
Papelbon denies making a gesture and believes West was over the top.
“I think it’s pretty stupid to be honest with you,’ Papelbon said. “The fans have a right to boo and do whatever but for an umpire to get caught up in that and look for extra things that are going on. Just umpire the game. By no means was I directing anything at any fans. I have a 4-year old and 5-year old son and a daughter. I am not out here doing inappropriate things.”
Sandberg didn’t make any excuses for Papelbon, who was trying to close out his third game in as many days.
“His stuff was good,” Sandberg said. “But his command was off. He was behind in counts. But for him to throw three days in a row. He’s done it before. That’s what closers do.”
Papelbon’s nemesis Jordany Valdespin, who has hit two pinch homers against him during his undistinguished career, wore out Papelbon. Valdespin grounded out against him but worked Papelbon, who threw 12 pitches to him. Papelbon, who has only blown four saves this season, was flat out roughed up by Miami.
“I was catching too much of the plate today,” Papelbon said. “I wasn’t as sharp as I’ve been for much of the year.”
Papelbon blew the game for David Buchanan, who has been quietly consistent. Buchanan, who was three outs from evening his record at 7-7, has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last 14 starts, the most by a Phillies rookie since Bruce Ruffin went 16 starts in a row in 1986.
“I think me and Chooch (Carlos Ruiz) worked well together,” Buchanan said. “I’m just trying to progress and get better at pitching at this level.”
Buchanan has pitched well enough to merit strong consideration for a starting spot in the 2015 rotation.