CHICAGO — When Jake Diekman made his major-league debut Tuesday, he said he couldn't feel his legs. Maybe it was better that way.
Diekman stood on the bullpen mound for a lengthy time in the top of the ninth of Thursday's 8-7 win over the Cubs. He had too much time to think before entering.
"I was just trying to be too fine with everything," Diekman said. "I don't know why I did that in the first place. I tried to pick corners and stuff."
He walked two of the first three batters, but recorded the second out on a flare caught by Freddy Galvis on a nifty play. Then he plunked Ian Stewart to load the bases.
On the fifth pitch to Wellington Castillo, he hung a slider that was lashed for a bases-clearing double.
Now there was real trouble.
"He was all out of whack," Charlie Manuel said.
The manager came with the hook. It was the polar opposite of Diekman's first outing in which he retired all four batters he faced and earned the win. This time, it took Jonathan Papelbon to clean the mess and preserve a win.
It offered a valuable lesson: Don't anoint a guy after one outing.
Diekman is a 25-year-old with 17 1/3 innings pitched above double A. While with Reading in 2011, he walked 44 batters in 65 innings. Over the course of his six seasons in the minors, he averaged 4.8 walks per nine innings. Control has always been an issue.
The other lesson? Don't bury a guy after one outing.
Interestingly enough, Roy Halladay offered a strong defense of Diekman. It was unprompted.
"He's got unbelievable stuff, and he's going to be fine," Halladay said. "It's just a matter of getting ahead and putting guys away. He's going to do it a lot. He had a good one and had a little rough one; you got both ends of it out of the way. He's going to be fine. He's not a guy that I don't think anybody's going to worry about. He’s got the stuff. He’s going to do real well."
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