Archive for Sunday, May 12, 2002

After rough start, Phillies appear to be back on track

May 12, 2002

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— Larry Bowa watched his bullpen squander several leads last month and slept little while the team lost a club-record 18 games in April.

Still, he kept his composure. The Philadelphia Phillies are now rewarding him for that patience.

After losing 15 of 19 games, Philadelphia won six straight to climb within four games of .500.

"We just self-destructed as a team early. We couldn't get things together," Bowa said. "We've got a long way to go. We don't have anyone to blame but ourselves. We have to get to the break-even point."

The Phillies won 86 games last year and finished just two games behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL East. The expectations were high for this season, so the team's start was all the more disappointing.

They were 5-4 after beating the Braves on April 10, but went 4-14 the rest of the month.

Bowa, known for his temper, stayed calm when the team was struggling. He nearly lost it a few times during a 1-5 road trip through Colorado and San Francisco, but bit his tongue.

"I've really had to work on that," Bowa said.

The players appreciated it.

"Screaming and yelling is not going to make us catch or throw the ball any better," said third baseman Scott Rolen, who clashed with Bowa a few times last season and is in the final year of his contract.

Bowa had plenty of reasons to rant at his relievers. The bullpen was a major reason for Philadelphia's awful start.

In a two-week span, the relievers failed to hold a lead five times. They had a 4-6 record with a 5.38 ERA in the opening month. Last April, they were 7-3 with a 2.69 ERA on the way to finishing with the fourth-best ERA in the NL (3.88).

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