Run, Cole. Be free. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
Well, crap. Someday, a book will be written about how the 2012 Philadelphia Phillies managed to finish in last place, despite having Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins, and Jonathan Papelbon on the team. Other players had good seasons, too: Hunter Pence, Carlos Ruiz had an epic career year, and Vance Worley pitched well, too.
Somehow, however, they managed to stink like day old fish. Today was the latest chapter in what might as well be titled, "The Kama Sutra of Losing." I would retitle that, but it would void my warranty with SBNation. Let your fertile imaginations run wild.
The site of today's affair was Citizens Bank Park where, I was startled to notice today, cascading boos did not descend on the team in wave after endless wave. It may well have been Cole Hamels' last start as a Phillie or as an underpaid Phillie, but in the end, all that was left was the psychic equivalent of the metallic tang of blood in your mouth as the other kid walks off the playground laughing at you on the ground, bleeding.
There were good moments, to be sure: Shane Victorino got his 1,000th hit. Chase Utley made a nifty unassisted double play and smashed a homer to right to put the Phillies up briefly, 1 - 0. The homer hit off the second level, the type of no-doubter that kept pitchers off the inner half of the plate against him for the better part of the last ten years. Cole Hamels hit a homer to right, matching an earlier homer by Matt Cain. Unlike Cain's, Hamels' homer was not a cheapie - it was well into the right field seats. Ryan Howard's three run bomb to put the Phillies up 5 - 4 was an ecstatic moment, but in the back of my mind was, "they still have to get 9 more outs." They didn't. It is the theme of 2012, and it was inescapable today, just as it has been during this long, gut-wrenching season. Numbers, along with the rest of today's autopsy, are behind the jump.
Hamels was meh - he gave up three dongs among ten hits, struck out 6, and walked 3. He gave up 5 runs and left with the game tied after 7.2 innings because he simply could not close out the eighth. He threw a career-high 128 pitches before Charlie Manuel came to get him. Hamels was given a standing ovation as he left the field, despite not having a sharp game. The crowd clearly understood the significance of the moment, and wanted to give Hamels a send-off, if he does end up leaving via trade before the deadline expires.
The game was in the hands of Antonio Bastardo, who came in to face a lefty, and he succeeded nicely, setting up Papelbon to come in for the ninth inning. Papelbon dispatched the Giants on 6 pitches in the ninth, and came out for the tenth when the Phillies did not score.
In the tenth, Papelbon struggled mightily, facing seven batters. He started out by walking Melk Cabrera, who advanced to third on a single by Buster Posey. Pablo Sandoval obligingly struck out on an awful pitch out of the zone, bringing Gregor Blanco to the plate.
Blanco was in the game only because Angel Pagan had been tossed for arguing balls and strikes after being called out (looking) against Hamels. With Cabrera on third, Blanco executed a perfect bunt up the first base line, and nobody could get it. Howard picked it up, watching helplessly as Cabrera crossed home plate with the go-ahead run. Papelbon eventually wiggled out of the inning with no further damage, but it didn't matter. The Phillies had no chance to come back.
Playing it out in the bottom of the tenth, John Mayberry flied out harmlessly. Placido Polanco walked, and then Ty Wigginton struck out swinging, having been badly fooled on a breaking ball. Jimmy Rollins hit a bullet to Ryan Theriot to end it.
Matt Cain, as mentioned above, hit a homer off Hamels. It was a cheapie into the left field corner, barely fair. Still, for a pitcher, is any homer a "cheapie?" He also pitched an effective and efficient eight innings on under 90 pitches. He was lifted in the ninth for a pinch hitter. He gave up three home runs, 5 runs, struck out 4, and walked 2. It was typical Matt Cain.
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