NL Worst of the Night: Chad Qualls Blows Phillies' Chance at Comeback Win
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Thursday's games in the National League gave us two excellent—or terrible—candidates for our "Worst of the Night" award. (OK, it's not really an award. But you knew that.)
In a 14-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros reliever Rhiner Cruz surrendered five runs, three hits and two walks in one inning of work. He gave up a two-run homer to Shane Robinson. Yet he also struck three batters out.
When Cruz came in for the seventh inning, the Astros were down, 5-2. By the time he left and all of his baserunners scored, the score was 10-2.
Over at Citizens Bank Park, Chad Qualls entered the game with the Los Angeles Dodgers holding a 4-3 ninth-inning lead over the Philadelphia Phillies. But he could only get one out as he allowed four runs (three earned, thanks to a Mike Fontenot error) on five hits. When Raul Valdes relieved Qualls, the Phillies were down, 8-3.
So which was the worst performance between Cruz and Qualls? It's subjective, of course. But given that Qualls entered a one-run ballgame and his team still had a chance to win, I'll argue that his meltdown hurt his team more.
Plus, he only lasted 0.1 of an inning, while Cruz at least got three outs. That gives Qualls the winning (losing?) edge.
Middle relief has been a season-long problem for the Phillies. It's among the many reasons that the team holds last place in the NL East and hasn't been able to make much of a push up the standings.
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To be fair, Qualls had actually pitched relatively well in recent games before his Thursday night outing. He hadn't allowed a run in his past four appearances, giving up just one hit.
However, he's struggled to put together a sustained streak of success. Prior to those four scoreless outings, he gave up three runs and four hits (three of them home runs) in 3.2 innings.
The Phillies could obviously use some help in their bullpen. But replacing Qualls wouldn't completely turn around the team's fortunes.
Right now, they also need help all over the roster. Suffering a four-game sweep at home to the Dodgers extended their losing streak to six games. Philadelphia is the one team in the NL East that appears to be falling out of the race, six games behind the first-place Atlanta Braves and four back of the Miami Marlins.
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