Sometimes, that's just the way the cookie crumbles. Two evenly matched teams get together and one just slightly edges the other. Neither team dominated the other today, and the Rays just barely edged the Phillies, 3-2. One of the things I love about baseball is how everything can change in an instant. In the space of one at-bat, your chances of winning can increase, or decrease. That at-bat could last one pitch, or it could last 12. One player could be having a great moment, when he's totally locked in, or the other could be having a bad moment, when he can't get out of his own head.
I thought about that a lot today as the Phillies lost, when I didn't quite love the whole "everything can change in an instant" thing quite that much. Today's game-changing moment came in the top of the eighth inning, when Carlos Pena jacked a three-run homer off Antonio Bastardo. Bastardo had walked Elliot Johnson and BJ Upton and recorded only one out. Before Bastardo entered the game, Cole Hamels had rolled along for seven shutout innings, getting out of a few tight spots along the way and notching 7 Ks. He allowed just three hits, but also three walks. David Price matched Hamels, allowing one run on four hits and three walks over seven innings. Oh, and he racked up 8 Ks. It was a fun pitching matchup to watch, and it took me a minute to remember that in the 2008 postseason, David Price was in a relief role for the Rays, having just made his major league debut.
Jimmy Rollins broke up the 0-0 stalemate in the sixth inning with a solo shot, his seventh homer of the year. He went 3-for-5, and his batting average is up to .269, it's highest mark since April 19. Hunter Pence had two hits today, both of them doubles, and he's hit safely in eight of his last ten games. Despite the partial day off yesterday, poor Shane Victorino went 0-for-4 with one walk today. His batting average is down to .248, which isn't doing anyone any good. (Least of all my fantasy baseball team, the Indie-Hipster Ironies.) Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that Michael Schwimer pitched one totally clean inning. No runs, no hits, no walks. I'm as surprised as you are.
So was Bastardo having a bad moment? Or was Pena having a good one? I'm not sure. You could ask the same things of Jim Thome and Jake McGee yesterday. What I do know is that I love watching these two teams play against each other. I enjoyed in 2008, and I'm enjoying it now. It's a damn shame they don't do it more often.
End of Act I: