Jonathan Papelbon Blows Save in Return to Citizens Bank Park

Before the game, Papelbon told reporters he was one of the few players on the team who wanted to win. (Also, the Phillies still lost the game.)

Papelbon through the years. Photos, from left, Howard Smith,  Steve Mitchell, H. Rumph Jr., all USA Today Sports Images

Papelbon through the years. Photos, from left, Howard Smith, Steve Mitchell, H. Rumph Jr., all USA Today Sports Images

The most important thing to know about yesterday’s Phillies game is this: It was played on the one-year anniversary of Jonathan Papelbon’s crotch-grabbing incident. As coincidence would have it, the Washington Nationals (who the Phillies traded Papelbon to in July) were in town last night. It was Papelbon’s first time back at Citizens Bank Park since the trade.

He gave a media availability in the afternoon, where he said he was one of the few players on the Phillies interested in winning. “I think the blame goes all the way from the front office all the way down to the bat boy,” Papelbon told reporters. “When you don’t have an organization that wants to win, it’s pretty evident, and they go out and publicly say, we’re not going to win. So what more, you know what I mean?”

He also added he “tried to bring certain things to attention that would make us better and it just seemed like everything I brought to attention whether it would be with another veteran or pitcher or infielder or outfielder or another veteran guy, it was like, to me, I was never accepted in that, ‘Hey look, this guy wants to help our team and make us be better,’ way. They just kind of all let it fly by the wayside and never really paid attention to what I had to say.”

The Nationals press person cut off the interview soon after. It’s not clear if what Papelbon — the guy who once said who once compared Philly to Paris, which he’d never been to but he’d seen in a movie — is saying about the 2015 Phillies makes any sense. But it doesn’t really matter: The Phillies, of course, have done a complete overhaul since traded Papelbon — jettisoning Cole Hamels, Ben Revere, Chase Utley and general manager Ruben Amaro. They’re playing young players. They might not win next year, but in a way that’s okay. The rebuild is now in full swing.

Then the Phillies and Nationals played in front of a crowd of 15,402. Things had changed quite a bit since the Papelbon trade. On July 28th, the Nationals were in first in the NL East. Since then, they’ve lost six times to the Mets and lost all six games on a west coast swing in mid-August. They’re now almost 10 games back, essentially eliminated from the playoff race. (For those keeping track, the Phillies are currently 27.5 games back in the NL East.)

The Nats took the lead in the 10th inning on a Jayson Werth homer, his second of the game. Papelbon, who hadn’t blown a save all year, came in to pitch the bottom of the 10th. The first batter, Freddy Galvis, hit his seventh homer of the year to tie the game at 7. It was a perfect return to Philadelphia.

Anyway, then the Phillies gave up a run in the top of the 11th and lost, 8-7. Papelbon got the win. That’s about how good things get for the Phillies in late 2015, so I suppose fans will take what they can get.

The Phillies are now 56-89. Their next loss will give the team its first 90-loss year since 2000. They need to go 7-10 the rest of the way to avoid 100 losses.