Re-watching the June 21st game against the Cardinals, I came to a totally shocking realization: I'm going to miss Tony La Russa.
Well, ok. I'm not so much going to miss *him* as I'm going to miss the Machiavellian way he approached the game. I always felt like Tony La Russa was trying to outsmart baseball itself, so watching his insane, overcomplicated machinations backfire on him was very satisfying.
Of course, there's backfiring, and then there's what happened during this game. The bullpen vomited up nine runs in the 8th inning while La Russa shuffled his staff around like a deck of cards. (Ha! Get it?) Up until that point, both teams were having a problem mounting any offense at all. Roy Halladay went a strong six innings despite giving up two first inning walks. The Cardinals had managed to score two runs -- one off of Halladay, and one off of Michael Stutes. The Phillies had notched only one run and five hits in seven innings against Kyle McClellan. McClellan turned in an impressive performance that would unfortunately be crapped on as soon as he left the ball game.
Trevor Miller started the 8th inning. Jimmy Rollins lined out, but Shane Victorino followed up with a single. Miller was relieved of his duties after walking Chase Utley, and La Russa brought in Jason Motte to face Ryan Howard. Motte then hit Howard to load the bases, and hit Polanco on the hand to walk in a run. Surprisingly unsatisfied by Motte's work, La Russa replaced him with Brian Tallet. For a moment, the move appeared to work. Raul Ibanez struck out, and the Cardinals needed just one more out to escape the top of the 8th with a 2-2 tie.
Ben Francisco pinch hit for Domonic Brown, and despite hitting just .175 against left handed pitching, he smacked a single to left field and brought in a run. La Russa had apparently seen enough of Tallet and brought in the fourth pitcher of the inning, Miguel Batista. Batista unfortunately wasn't an improvement. He walked in back-to-back runs, bringing the score to 5-2. The crowd cheered when he finally threw a strike to Jimmy Rollins, who hit a two-run single anyway. Lucky pitcher number five was Maikel Cleto, who was described as a fast thrower, but unfortunately not very accurate. He walked Victorino, and Utley plated two runs with a single immediately after. Howard scored one final run with a single to make the score 10-2. Valdez (who came in for Polanco) mercifully flied out to finally end the inning. All told, the Phillies scored nine runs on five hits, four walks, and two HBP. In one inning.
By the end of the game, I had come to respect the Cardinals fans who stayed through to the bitter end. That 8th inning had to be super depressing to watch from the other side. I'll admit that had the situation been reversed, I'm not sure I would have stayed. (Yeah, I said it.) Those who did stay were vocal, and they cheered the small victories even though the larger battle was essentially lost. I also found their clearly sarcastic cheering particularly delightful.
- The Phillies scored all 10 of their runs on walks and singles. Not an extra base hit in the bunch.
- Chooch had a monster game, going 4-for-4 with a walk.
- A "Dorf on Baseball" comment was a close second to this Regrettable/Amazing Larry Anderson Quote of the Game: "There's been a lot of great managers in this game, and they didn't see the sense in hitting the pitcher 8th. But this manager here does."