There's not much better than the glee of scoring your team's winning run combined with a really good dude hug. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Tonight, I decided to take a chance and start my game recap early. I started writing in the top of the ninth inning, and I got a good three paragraphs written before the Phillies decided to make things interesting. It serves me right, doesn't it?
Yes, the Phillies roared back in the ninth inning, scoring four runs and beating the Brewers 7-6. Of course, the reason the walk-off was needed was because Roy Halladay still didn't look right tonight. Through three innings he'd given up three runs, which wasn't awful, but things unraveled in the fourth when he gave up a three-run home run to Carlos Gomez. Doc pitched better in innings five and six, but the damage had been done. Matt Swartz tweeted about Halladay's reduced velocity, which I immediately regretted reading and tried desperately to forget (to no avail).
Randy Wolf gave up just two runs in six innings, the two runs coming in the first inning. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard hit back-to-back home runs, and it is still a glorious sight to behold. The Phillies also scored another run in the seventh off of a Manny Parra wild pitch.
At this point, I assumed the game was over. According to the TV broadcast, the Phillies were 0-42 in games in which they trailed after the eighth inning. And they were 0-17 in games that Joe Savery appeared in (he pitched tonight). But in the bottom of the ninth, the Phillies mounted a comeback. After Laynce Nix struck out, Jimmy Rollins walked and Juan Pierre singled. With runners on second and third, Utley walked to load the bases. Then, Ryan Howard stepped to the plate. He'd had a good night, with a home run and a double, but at this point, I was counting the ways the game could end without the Phillies scoring a run. But none of those came to be. He smacked a two-run single and all of a sudden it was a one run game. When Chooch came to the plate, he did what he's been doing all year -- getting hits and generally being awesome. He singled in the tying run. Hunter Pence walked (yes, he walked!) to load the bases again, and then Ty Wigginton hit a sac fly to score Erik Kratz, who had come in to pinch run for Howard. It was unexpected and thoroughly enjoyable. Those are the Phillies I remember. It was nice to see them again. The cherry on top? All four runs in the ninth were given up by none other than Francisco Rodriguez.
There was some umpire drama, which the Phillies must experience at least once a year per MLB rules. Shane Victorino was hit by a pitch in the first, but was called out on strikes when the first base umpire, Brian O'Nora, mistakenly called Victorino's non-swing an actual swing. Victorino didn't know until he was essentially on first base, and then everyone convened at home plate to talk it over. Victorino was taken out of the game at the top of the second with a left elbow contusion. A similar thing happened to Howard in the seventh inning when an obvious non-swing was called a swing. Howard also almost got screwed out of a home run in the first inning, when the ball just cleared the outfield fence and landed in the flower bed -- the mesh of the fence makes it hard to tell where things fall sometimes. A quick, not-at-all-inconvenient review overturned the initial call and gave Howard his home run.
But who cares about the umpire drama, because the Phillies won their second game in a row in their last at-bat! That brings their current winning streak to: 2. It's nothing to get excited about, but at the same time, this season has been rather short on excitement, so why not?
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that tonight was Italian Heritage Night at the ballpark. I'm half Italian (and half German), and while I longed to be offended at the stereotypical music and phrases bandied about, after nearly 29 years of them you get used to everyone imitating "Mamma mia, that's-a spicy meat-a-ball!" all the time. Fun fact: my father, who is actually German, has played the accordion for fifty years. If the Phillies are looking to hire an accordion player to provide accompaniment during games, they should give him a call.
My goodness, the last part of that Fangraph has such a delightful upward trajectory, doesn't it?