It's difficult to do anything else at this point. This entire season has really been some sort of cosmic prank on the Phillies, so why not take a moment and just laugh at them? There's already been numerous games that have made me sit back and just chuckle to myself. This game was one of them.
Going into this game, I wasn’t sure what to expect. R.A. Dickey has been unstoppable as of late, pacing the National League with 12 victories and only 1 loss with a 2.15 ERA (with a tidy 2.85 xFIP). And Cole Hamels, he of the ubiquitous trade rumors, has struggled throughout his career at Citi Field. It wasn’t exactly a dream matchup, as far as I was concerned. I was hoping for the best, but I prepared for the worst.
Surprisingly, everything was in our favor through the first eight innings. Cole Hamels pitched reasonably well, allowing 4 runs in 7 innings, striking out 7 Mets batters and walking only one. As has been so often the case with Phillies pitchers this season, the majority of the damage done to Hamels came on the long ball, with Scott Hairston hitting a line drive solo shot in the second, and David Wright crushing a two-run bomb in the fifth. Hamels, however, managed to stem the tide after the fifth, even retiring the Mets in order in the seventh inning.
Meanwhile, the Phillies let R.A. Dickey have it, getting to him for 5 runs on 11 hits. The biggest hits of the day for the Phillies came in the sixth inning, just after Wright hit the go-ahead two-run tank. After retiring Mike Fontenot for the first out, Dickey gave up a humpback line-drive single to Cole Hamels. The next batter, Jimmy Rollins, proceeded to hit a bullet down the right field line for an RBI triple, partially due to the fielding prowess of Lucas Dude-Can’t-Play-Right-Field-A. Tie game, 4-4. Next batter is Juan Pierre, who promptly lays down a perfectly-executed safety squeeze, scoring Rollins from third. Phillies lead, 5-4. This score would hold all the way through the top of the ninth, partially due to Bastardo working a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the eighth, and partially due to some dipshittery on the part of Juan Samuel in the top of the same inning. With Mike Fontenot on second, Chase Utley took Tim Byrdak the opposite way into left field for a base hit. Fontenot raced towards third and was waved home by Juan Samuel. Phillies lead 6-4…wait, that’s not right. Apparently Samuel hadn’t realized that the ball was in Hairston’s glove before Fontenot even reached third base. Hairston fired/lobbed a strike to the plate, and Fontenot was out by about 10 feet. Still a 5-4 game. After Bastardo’s inning and a 1-2-3 top of the ninth, Jonathan Papelbon entered to shut the door.
Now before I tell you that story, follow me. We’re going to Finland. I’mma school you folks in some good-ole Finnish mythology.
In the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, the story is told of Väinämöinen, one of the three main heroes of the Kalevala. For all intents and purposes, Väinämöinen is essentially a god that now lives on Earth as a wise old man. One day, while walking through nature, he comes across the "daughter of Pohjola," a beautiful maiden sitting on a rainbow and weaving a golden cloth. Väinämöinen asks her to marry him and travel with him, but she replies that she will be his wife only if he can complete a wide array of nearly impossible tasks (one which is tying an egg into invisible knots). Eventually, after striving to complete as many of the tasks as he can, Väinämöinen becomes too frustrated with all the roadblocks that she and her minion-spirits throw in his way, all the while being ruthlessly mocked, and he gives up on Pohjola’s daughter and leaves to continue on his journey, dejected and alone.
Now I told you that story to tell you this story. Success in the Phillies 2012 season has been Pohjola’s daughter for me. They’ve chased after her constantly, doing their damnedest to please her, but she continues to throw curveball after curveball at them, laughing hysterically the whole time, and they seem powerless to do anything about it. Tonight was no different.
After entering the game, Papelbon surrendered a double to Ike Davis that went about three inches over the glove of Jimmy Rollins and dead-center between Mayberry and Victorino. After Thole sacrificed Davis to third, Papelbon struck out that guy with an obviously German last name (something about "new" and "hot," I think it literally translates to "new if hot" or something along those lines). Things were looking good. Then up stepped Jordany Valdespin. If you don’t remember this guy…actually, I’m sure you do. He hit a three-run home run on a Papelbon splitter after failing miserably to turn around on his fastball. That guy. Anyway, he battled Papelbon for a little bit, with Papelbon busting him inside with nothing but fastballs. Then, after running the count full, Papelbon drilled him in the thigh with another fastball. Runners on first and third, 2 outs. Still not a big deal. The prize is still in sight.
Up came Ruben Tejada. He battled Papelbon as well and worked a walk, despite taking some exceptionally close pitches that maybe should have been called strikes. I find it a little bit difficult to be mad at Jeff Kellogg for this at-bat; having to umpire a game with a knuckleballer throws you for a loop, I imagine. But still, those were some close pitches that could easily have gone the other way. Bases loaded now, 2 outs. Getting a little antsy, but no reason to freak out yet...
Daniel Murphy stepped up next, and he smashed a groundball up the middle destined for centerfield that almost surely would have won the game, but before it got there, it ricocheted off Papelbon’s foot towards the first base line. Papelbon sprinted off the mound to get it, and actually got there with (I believe) enough time to throw out Murphy, but he slipped and fell right on the first-base line. No throw, no out, and the tying run scored, handing Papelbon his second blown save of the season.
David Wright dunked one into right field on the next pitch, about two feet in front of Hunter Pence. Mets win, 6-5.
I can almost hear Pohjola’s daughter laughing at us.
Fangraph of eggs being tied into invisible knots...