The June 14 baseball game against the Marlins had all the elements that make up an entertaining game. A lopsided score. A home run extravaganza. Great pitching. An opponent that was mired in a slump so horrible and so long that it had gone from funny to sad and all the way back around to funny again. It was a great game. But those elements alone weren't enough to get it on this list. One thing -- or two, actually -- elevated it from "great" to "best."
Let me back up. Cole Hamels was trying to get to nine wins, a mark only two other pitchers had reached to that point. The poor Marlins had lost 10 of 11 games on their just completed home stand. Chris Volstad, perpetual Phillies punching bag, was on the mound for the Marlins. Just how badly did the Phillies beat up on Volstad in 2010? Over his four starts against the Phillies he pitched 21 innings and racked up a 6.43 ERA -- 15 hits and five home runs. What I'm saying is that Volstad wasn't going to be the one to lead the Marlins out of their tragically hilarious (hilariously tragic?) slump. At least not that night.
The Marlins got one run in the first, which was all they would get. Ryan Howard, Volstad's nemesis, started the home run extravaganza. Howard ripped a two-run homer in the bottom of the first, his seventh in 24 at-bats against Volstad. Two innings later, Chase Utley hit a two-run home run. In the fourth, Domonic Brown got in on the fun with a solo shot of his own. And then two innings after that, Jimmy Rollins hit another two-run home run. A sac fly from Placido Polanco put the Phillies up 8-1.
Through all this, Hamels was flat out dealing. At one point, he'd retired 17 Marlins in a row. The game was already great. And then Dom Brown stepped to the plate once again. With one swing in the bottom of the seventh, he blasted his second home run of the game deep into the night. That's not huge exaggeration, either. His home run landed seven rows deep in the second deck. It was his very first multi-homer game in the majors, the fifth home run of the night, and it put the Phillies up 9-1.
I was pretty happy. It was Brown's 22nd game back with the Phillies since his hamate injury, and he'd been having a rough go of things. As if his slow spring training and the aforementioned injury weren't enough, he had failed to instantly adapt to major league pitching and his job in right field at a major league ballpark. The Phillies front office seemed disappointed that Brown didn't finish learning everything he needed to know in AAA. I was hoping this game would be the start of a Dom Brown renaissance, complete with costumes, jousting, and mead.
But there would be no costumes. No jousting. And certainly no mead. The world kind of collapsed on top of Dom Brown, and there was almost nothing he could have done about it. He needed time to grow and develop in the majors, and unless he was going to do that while maintaining a high batting average and committing no errors, I never felt like the Phillies were going to give him that time.
And it's a low down dirty shame. Not to mention depressing. So why did I pick this game? Because it's a highlight on what has become the Dom Brown Timeline of Futility. The mishandling of Brown has been painful to witness, and it's nice to be reminded that he has an absurd amount of potential. I'm optimistic that things will turn around for him. And it's not just because the alternative to optimism is a soul-crushing, faith-sucking anger vortex from which nothing can escape. It's because he's a good player. (But also that vortex thing.)
- I'm going to miss seeing the Phillies tee off on Chris Volstad. Now that he's on the Cubs, they won't face off nearly as much.
- Cole Hamels left the game in the top of the eighth with mid-back tightness. He didn't miss any time, and while he did lose his next two starts, he only gave up two runs in each of them.
- Regrettable Larry Anderson Quote of the Game: "I just watched [umpire Ron Kulpa] throw that one down to the ball girl, and I'm pretty sure I know why he's an umpire and not a player."