It all started auspiciously. Vance Worley got a one (hiccup), two, three inning to start the game off tonight. The Phillies came up to hit against one of those pitchers who has created many happy memories for Phillies fans: Chris Volstad. Volstad, who appeared to be someone other than Chris Volstad this year, did not disappoint.
The Phillies, starting with a bunt single by Jimmy Rollins, proceeded to bury Volstad with a succession of titanic blows. With five singles and a walk, the Phillies brought all 9 batters to the plate, plating four of them and staking Worley to a 4 - 0 lead. The big blow was a two run single from Carlos Ruiz.
Worley had it going tonight. He ultimately went seven innings, giving up 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 5. He gave up just one run in his final inning. Including the first inning, when he gave up the leadoff single that was erased on a throw from Hunter Pence to Jimmy Rollins to get David DeJesus, Worley had 4 innings of 1-2-3 baseball. He faced the minimum through the first 11 hitters of the game before Starlin Castro reached on a single in the fourth inning. As we shall see (Foreshadowing! You pay extra for quality writing like this!), Worley should sue Qualls for conversion -- this win was rightly his.
Volstad, after the first, settled down. On a "mulligan" basis, he went 5 more innings, giving up just 3 more hits and two walks. Overall, he struck out 4, walked 3, and gave up 4 runs. Not a great night, to be sure, but not awful after the first. But we'll always have the first, Chris. Right?
So. It looked great for the Phillies. Until the the bullpen happened.
First up for the Phillies was Antonio Bastardo. The hope was that he would come in and commit some lefty on lefty violence to start off the inning. Chad Qualls was warming to face the looming right-handed hitters. It started out well, with DeJesus popping out. Then, the annoying Tony Campana worked a very close four-pitch walk, fighting off no pitches to grind it out.
Having seen enough (and with the matchups dictating the entry of Qualls) Bastardo left the game and Qualls came in to face Starlin Castro. Campana did his usual annoying base stealing thing, going to second more or less at will. Castro singled him home, bringing Bryan LaHair to the plate. The Hair promptly smashed a two run bomb, tying the game, and crushing my soul. Qualls, with a little more excitement, managed to wrangle the final two outs but there was no further loss of life.
At this stage, I imagined many Phillies fans as bystanders at an awkward family dinner where the drunk brother and crazy sister-in-law scream profanities at each other in front of the rest of the family. You find yourself casually looking off in the distance and drawing circles on the carpet with your foot while looking for some way to sneak out the back door unnoticed so you can escape yet another embarrassing catastrophe. Is this really happening again? Another fabulous pitching effort wasted? Really? Not tonight.
In the bottom of the eighth, the annoying Phillies-killer of the past, Juan Pierre, got on base after being hit by Scott Maine. This was sandwiched between two outs, the second of which was Maine's last batter faced. Rafael Dolis came in (match ups!) to face Jimmy Rollins, who singled...just...over...a leaping Darwin Barney, who entered the game as a defensive substitute. Up came Placido Polanco, who validated his status as a baseball playing third baseman by hitting a double and driving in Pierre and Rollins. Pandemonium ensued, along with a Victorino ground out.
In all, the game was best summarized by SandPhlea:
That was fun/harrowing/fun.
It sure was, SandPhlea. Fangraph of Terror:
In other news, the Braves lost, and somewhere another soulless Phan was born.