The Dodgers were the team with one of the best bullpens in the Majors. They were the team that didn't have to worry about blowing leads or letting deficits grow in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings because of Hong-Chih Kuo, George Sherrill and Jonathan Broxton serving as late-inning trump cards.
On this night, it was Sherrill who faltered in relief. The same Sherrill who posted a 0.65 ERA in 30 appearances (27 2/3 innings) after the Dodgers acquired him from the Orioles.
In the eighth inning, Sherrill walked the first two batters he faced and then gave up a three-run home run to Raul Ibanez.
"I think that was a shock for everybody, especially the walks, which really hasn't been something that he has done a lot of," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said after the 8-6 loss. "You know, that was a blow."
While Sherrill said that he felt fine during warmups, he could tell that something was wrong during his five-pitch walk of Ryan Howard.
"Timing was a little off," Sherrill said. "[I] just didn't make an adjustment and threw a bunch of pitches in the same spot."
Sherrill kept missing up and in with his fastball to Howard during the walk, and another five-pitch walk to the next batter put two men on for Ibanez, whose home run gave Philadelphia an 8-4 lead.
"It's just a matter of trying to figure out what it was on the fly, and I kind of felt what it was, but just didn't make adjustments," Sherrill said.
To give you an idea of just how out of character Thursday night was for Sherrill, consider the following:
It was the first time Sherrill gave up more than one run as a Dodgers pitcher.
The three runs were the most he has allowed in an appearance all season.
The last time he walked at least two batters was on Aug. 31
"I hadn't seen it in a while, so obviously everyone was surprised," Russell Martin said of Sherrill's struggles.
Then there's the fact that the home run given up to Ibanez was the first long ball hit off Sherrill by a left-handed hitter since Adam LaRoche took him deep on June 14, 2008.
"That was just a cement mixer," Sherrill said.
Though Sherrill struggled in Game 1 against the Phillies, he didn't seem to be concerned that his timing problem would repeat itself again in the series.
"It's just a matter of getting it fixed and going out and making pitches," he said.
Torre didn't indicate that he was going to look for other eighth-inning options. With the stats that Sherrill has accumulated this season for the Dodgers, there's not much reason to believe that Thursday night was anything more than an aberration.
"He'll get the ball tomorrow in the eighth inning," Torre said. "It's just one of those things."
David Ely is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.