Nobody crushes bad right handed pitching like Howard. Kelly Shoppach, catching (beard not pictured). Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE
It started out promising, what with a Ryan Howard grand slam off the soft tossing Chris Young in the first inning, but in the end it was Kelly Shoppach nailing the coffin shut with a 2 run homer in the 10th off BJ Rosenberg that capped off the evening. Yes, this was a Mets team that has scored 4 runs since the all star break. Yes, they scored 9. And yes, their toxic bullpen held the Phillies scoreless for 5.2 innings. No, really. Cue the John Lennon.
Vance Worley pitched again, though why is anyone's guess. If he is dealing with discomfort from the bone chips in his elbow, it excuses the four runs in four and a third innings, though to be fair he was blorped to death in the first: single, single, single and run scored. The Mets got a pair in the fourth off a Mike Baxter homer (who?), and they added another run in the fifth when David Wright scored Ruben Tejada on a sac fly. Raul Valdes looked great getting the next five hitters in order, striking out Lucas Duda and Andres Torres to end the fifth and sixth innings, respectively.
In the bottom of the fifth, Chase Utley, upset at seeing the Mets tie the game, drilled a no-doubter to right to put the Phillies up 5 - 4, chasing Chris Young. This provided the Phillies with the lead that Valdes nursed through the sixth.
Josh Lindblom came in and pitched a scoreless seventh, getting help from a strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play to end it. Erik Kratz may not be the best catcher ever, but he's fun to watch. There is probably a valid rule somewhere saying that catchers should not try to throw dudes out from their knees, but it's just fun to see him do it. Especially when it's Scott Hairston.
And that was the end of the beginning. And this is the real weepy and like tragic part of the story beginning O my brothers and only friends.
Lindblom started off the eighth against David Wright who was hitting right-handed. He was careful with Wright, clearly not wanting to make a mistake and hork up the lead. With lefties coming up next, Manuel played match ups and brought in Bastardo. After a strike out and a fly out by Ike Davis and Duda, the immortal Kelly Shoppach Beard strode to the plate attached to Kelly Shoppach. And Shoppach poked a double sort of over Frandsen and down along the left field line, where it died like a chip shot with backspin. Domonic Brown, playing a "no doubles" defense in the next ZIP code, ran over to get it, but Wright was running on the play and he zipped easily around from first to tie it up. Bastardo closed it out with no further damage.
Meanwhile, the Phillies hitters were doing nothing against the greatest worst bullpen of something approaching all time. You know those "one of those days" days? This was one of them.
The Phillies had shots, but they didn't break through. In the eighth, for instance, with runners on first and second, Erik Kratz crushed a horribly misthrown curve right into foul territory along the left field baseline, killing five fans. Then he struck a ball pretty well to right, but it was easily caught for an out, and the inning ended.
Jonathan Papelbon pitched an easy and relatively quick ninth inning, and the Phillies did nothing with their turn at the plate. In the tenth, BJ Rosenberg happened, and the Mets scored four runs, including 2 on a dinger by Shoppach, still in possession of his epic beard. Despite Utley reaching on a hit in the bottom of the tenth, the Phillies couldn't get any traction, and the game ended, mercifully.
Brown was lifted for Juan Pierre at the end of the game, perhaps as a match up issue, or perhaps because of his wonky knee issue - I was not clear on the point. Discuss.
Highlights of the night included;
- Chris Young and a "doink" throw that landed behind him, sort of.
- J-Pop hitting not one, not two, but three popups in one at bat and the Mets dropping two of them.
- An announcement that September 23 is Cole Hamels Action Figure day where, and this is Wheels talking, "fans will receive a Cole Hamels Action Figure that is 8 inches long." He said it, not me, but this sounded like a RealDoll when he described it. I'm totally getting one.
- I found this wonderful site when trying to identify, other than Placido Polanco, the all Large Head MLB team. Look for Ming the Merciless towards the middle.
- Chris Young licked himself more often than a dog that can.
- And finally, Darrin Ruf assured himself of a position in R-Phillies folklore by tying Ryan Howard's Reading homer record. You know you're Ruf-curious, too, just like the TV team said Charlie is. Bring it.
...and not one Dolly Parton joke.
Tomorrow, we'll see the Mets' young goodish Matt Harvey face off against non-Action Figure Cole Hamels in a 7:05 start at the Bank.
Fangraph of being glad that the death blow came in the tenth and not the fourteenth: