It was something in another era that was so commonplace, but it now stands out as a rarity: the five out save.
To show how much Charlie Manuel didn’t want to let Friday’s game with the Miami Marlins get away, the Phillies manager deviated from his usual strategy.
Manuel called Jonathan Papelbon in with the Phillies leading 6-4 in the eighth inning. The bases were loaded, and there was just one out.
Papelbon got out of the inning and pitched a scoreless ninth for his 15th save in as many opportunities.
Manuel gave a simple answer when asked why he went against the managerial book and used Papelbon to get five outs.
“I wanted to win the game,” he said.
The Phillies manager insists this won’t be a common practice, but he obviously made the right move on Friday. Too many games are given away because managers stubbornly adhere to the belief that a closer can only pitch one inning.
“This early in the season, if you are not careful you could overwork your guy,” Manuel said. “If you do it every now and then and not so often it’s okay.”
This was Papelbon’s first save this year of more than one inning, but it was the 32nd time he’s done it in his career.
The closer threw 25 pitches and was more than willing for some extra duty.
“I like every chance and every opportunity I can to get in the ball game,” Papelbon said. “For me, anytime Charlie calls on me to get in the game, I am ready and willing and able.”
He said he entered the game with a simple strategy.
“You just have to stay focused for an extra inning,” he said.
Papelbon said there is a difference in having to get up and warm up twice in a game.
“Being up and down, it changes your mindset, and obviously you have to approach it differently, but it doesn’t affect me,” Papelbon said.
With yet another injury — this time the elbow strain suffered by Jose Contreras — the Phillies bullpen needed a lift. Papelbon was the only righthander remaining.
No doubt Manuel will be tempted to do this again with Papelbon.
And while it can’t be done every game or every week, with the struggles of the bullpen, Pappelbon should get a few more eighth inning calls, especially if he handles the situation the way he did on Friday.