Romero, Contreras aren't providing Manuel much relief

J.C. Romero and Jose Contreras allowed a total of five runs in the eighth inning on Friday. (Ron Cortes/Staff Photographer)

Charlie Manuel had a little fun with the media, although one could see how annoyed the Phillies manager was at his bullpen, or at least the part that almost gave back Friday’s 7-5 win to the Chicago Cubs.

Manuel took Roy Halladay out with a 7-0 lead after seven innings and saw Jose Contreras and J.C. Romero face a total of eight batters and get one out.

It got to 7-5 before Michael Stutes and then Antonio Bastardo closed the door. It was determined before the game that Ryan Madson, who had made four appearances in the previous five days, would have the night off.

And Manuel seemed a little agitated when being asked about pulling Halladay.

“We got a seven run lead going into the eighth, we expect to win the game,” he said.

Then he took a good-natured jab at the media.

“That goes to show you guys getting on me about resting Roy or not taking him out,” Manuel said. “I wish your memory was as good as mine.”

There was laughter in the room, but Manuel wasn’t in a joking mood. He was ticked off that the Contreras and Romero almost handed the game back to the Cubs. Then he did his best to try to publically protect his two relievers.

When asked if he were concerned with Contreras, Manuel said, “I am concerned about him; he needs to get a little sharper.”

A little sharper?

In his last three appearances that totaled just 1 1/3 innings, Contreras has allowed six earned runs.

“He is having command problems,” Manuel said in a less than surprising revelation.

When asked about Romero, Manuel didn’t mention the lefthander specifically but one can tell his patience is wearing thin. Romero faced three batters, surrendering a walk and two hits.

Romero now has issued 12 walks in 15 1/3 innings a ratio that won’t allow him to keep getting the ball.

Halladay said all the right things afterwards, how Manuel was right in making the move, but we wonder how he would have felt had the Phillies blown the game.

It’s amazing that despite all the mini crises (i.e. bullpen, lack of offense) the Phillies are 38-26 and tied with St. Louis for the most wins in baseball.

Still, the Phillies won’t get complacent. That’s why Manuel moved Placido Polanco to the No. 5 hole and he responded with a grand slam.

Nobody was questioning that move.

And quite frankly, pulling Halladay was the right move. He has pitched at least six innings in each of his 14 starts and seven or more innings in 12 starts. In all 14 starts, Halladay has thrown 100 or more pitches.

Even somebody as finely conditioned as Halladay could use a breather once in a while. This was the night to do it even though the ending was far from smooth and the bullpen situation far from settled.

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