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Durbin's frustrating season gets a positive note

The Phillies were in a jam and they brought Chad Durbin into the game and there probably weren’t many fans would were feeling pretty confident at that point.

Durbin's frustrating season gets a positive note

Chad Durbin winds-up with the baseball during the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, April 21, 2013. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Chad Durbin winds-up with the baseball during the seventh inning against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, April 21, 2013. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

The Phillies were in a jam and they brought Chad Durbin into the game and there probably weren’t many fans would were feeling pretty confident at that point.

The score was tied 3-3 and the Washington Nationals had runners on first and second with two outs in the seventh inning.

Antonio Bastardo had started the seventh and gotten into a jam by walking  Bryce Harper and Adam LaRoche.

Bastardo has now walked 11 in 16 innings and his lack of control is a concern.

Yet when Charlie Manuel replaced him with Durbin, one could hear the collective groans coming from Philadelphia.

Durbin hadn’t pitched in a week.

And when he has pitched, this season, he hasn't been very effective. Yet Durbin got one of the biggest outs in one of the biggest wins of the season when he got dangerous Ian Desmond to fly to center.

End of inning.

The Phillies scored twice in the eighth to take a 5-3 lead.

It was surprising when Durbin began the eighth and after Kurt Suzuki led off with a bunt single that was followed by a walk to Tyler Moore, Durbin was in big trouble. At least it wasn’t a situation he hadn’t seen several times this year.

Durbin then got Steve Lombardozzi to line out to Jimmy Rollins at short before being replaced by Jeremy Horst.

And Horst was able to get two fly ball outs to end the inning.

With Jonathan Papelbon pitching a scoreless ninth inning, Durbin was able to pick up the win.

Durbin’s ERA is 7.71 and he has given up four home runs in 14 innings but on this night he made his single biggest contribution of the season.

“It was a good team win,” Durbin said.

And one that could help the veteran’s confidence. He didn’t pitch in a week, the last time in mop-up duty in the 10-0 loss to Cincinnati on May 18.

So here he was not only pitching, but in an important situation.

“I try to get ready like that’s going to happen every time,” he said about pitching in competitive games. “A lot of times it hasn’t been the case that my name has been called.”

He talked about being mentored as a young pitcher by Tom “Flash” Gordon, who emphasized the importance of always being ready.

Durbin said in an attempt to stay sharp, he threw a bullpen on Friday during the ninth inning.

“I wanted to have some downhill work and some feel going out there,” he said. “It wasn’t perfect.”

That surely describes his season, yet Durbin insists it hasn’t weighed on his confidence.

“It might have when I was younger,” he said. “I try to internalize all of that.”

And he is hoping that pitching in a meaningful situation can lead to more such jobs.

“It works out that you get in a tight game and sometimes that’s the momentum that builds,” he said. “The bullpen came together tonight and picked each other.”

Of course it wasn’t pretty. Bastardo allowed two walks in 2/3 of an inning. Durbin allowed two base runners as well.

Yet the Phillies bullpen pitched three scoreless innings. That is a bullpen that entered the game having allowed 46.4 percent of inherited runners to score (26 of 56). That was the worst in the Major Leagues.

Mike Adams returns on Sunday and the Phillies can only hope he brings stability to the back end.

Regardless, Durbin hopes he gets more chances in meaningful games.

Durbin will likely have to do more than get one big out in order to pitch in meaningful situations. Yet getting that key seven inning out was a start and Durbin clearly hopes to build over a positive moment in what has been a season of frustration.

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The place for up-to-the-minute Phillies coverage from The Inquirer beat writer Matt Gelb and columnist Bob Brookover.

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