Let’s be honest, we
are were firmly planted in the let down phase of this run towards the Wild Card. This isn’t to say that there's not there wasn't a chance, nor is it to say that we should [have] abandon[ed] JoeCatz’ emphatic "BELIEVE." Frankly, I’ll believe until they’re mathematically eliminated, but on a night like this, perhaps we can agree with Simpsons designated "history’s greatest monster" Jimmy Carter: malaise, malaise, malaise forever [or at least until the top of the 9th!]. The offense, as we will see below the jump, was...anemic is kind of underselling it. They just could not get anything going against Mets wunderkind Matt Harvey [Josh Edgin was another story, of course], and the game was, lest the score fool you, just a monstrous slog thundering joy from the heights of Olympus. Fouled off pitches, walks, hit batsmen, [and a home run that won the game on the last at bat], and just "inefficient" (we'll get to it) pitching by both teams, but mainly Cole Hamels led to a game that can only be described as an utter and complete bummer [until Ryan Howard killed a baseball and made me fall in love again!!!]. Add to it that the Cardinals are winning, the Brewers won, and the Dodgers only lost once against the Nats, and you're liable to get even more distressed [LOL].
But let's not let any of that get us down! Why, I just wrote a small novel about the reasons we root for the Phillies, and none of them included "exciting action" or "credible chances at winning baseball games" [impicitly, it did include "giant unexpected home runs"]. This was a
brutal transcendent game in many ways one particular way, but we can isolate small rays of joy from anything if we try hard enough, right? ...right? [Correct, if it is a 2nd deck home run that was predicted almost perfectly by TwistyWristy in the comments]. Well, here's an effort anyway: with some crowdsourcing from the comments in tonight's game thread as well as my own flitting diversions, I've constructed an utterly unserious and nonphilosophical gambol through terror [still technically accurate]. Follow me as I (oh so briefly) give you the relevant details, before dwelling on the trivial, the obsessive, and the inane.
It wasn't always going to be this way. Jimmy Rollins started the game out with a leadoff homerun after an admirable at bat off of Harvey, and it seemed as if the exhaustion of the rookie was finally showing. In his last start, maybe Harvey would be gassed enough to give up five, six, seven runs, I thought, Maybe this will be a snoozer! Well good news and bad news [and good news]: I was right and wrong, not respectively [but whatever!]. Harvey locked down in big way, going seven innings without giving up another hit and while striking out 7. In fact, the only other baserunners for the Phillies until the eighth inning were three guys gone walking off Harvey. Two came in the same inning, but Juan Pierre quickly hit into a double play to make even that small rally feel miniscule and of no moment. Le petit mort, as I've said before and will say again -- not the fun one. The Mets bullpen would complete the deep hurting through the ninth inning, with Bobby Parnell giving up the second hit of the night on a dying quail off the bat of John Mayberry, Jr. but then locking in himself, striking out two and getting out of the inning unscathed. Josh Edgin would then take the Mets into the ninth, where, striking out two and walking one, he...wait...I'm getting an urgent update that. No. No, that can't be...well, I already wrote the recap...yes, yes...well, I guess you do technically own me but...fine. At least it's good news!
Ladies and gentlemen, Ryan Howard murdered a baseball! Hold on while I make some changes. Okay, that should do it. As it happened, the shot, a second deck, 2-run HR that just made me completely believe in Ryan Howard all over again in spite of myself, would be the difference, and this is mostly thanks to one Colbert Hamels, who was brilliant in his own right. Cole did give up a run in the third on a David Murphy hit to Juan Pierre, but that's more about Pierre's arm than Cole's. He also ran into some weird control issues in the 6th inning, with some walks and a hit batsman (haha, take that Scott Hairston), but the damage would be centered around a David Wright (seriously, who else?) HR that looked to kill the Phillies in their beds. But Cole struck out 10 over 6 innings, while walking only one -- this led to his 200th strikeout of the season, as well as his 20th double-digit strikeout game. We're pretty lucky. The bullpen wasn't exactly tremendous, as hits and walks proliferated into a bases-loaded situation in the 8th, but give Antonio Bastardo (2 K, 0 H, 0BB), Phillipe Aumont (2 H, 1K, 0 BB) and Jeremy Horst (0 H, 0 K, 1 BB) some credit for getting the Phillies in a position to win. Jonathan Papelbon...c...l...o...s...e...d...the game out with some decent pitching of his own, but he wouldn't have been in such a good position without mister Domonic Brown, who Spiderman'd a ball in the outfield to save the victory. That guy. A (rather generous) K looking and a groundout were the other outs in the inning, and the Phillies improbabled their way back into our hearts.
Seriously, though, I think I actually lost time during this game. It was dull, seemingly predictable, contained an endless interview of Phil Niekro (who was wearing a Braves hat), and up until the final at bat, ostensibly a lost cause. Seriously, the barometric pressure, according to RTP "Hurricane" Schwartz, was 30.10; if I understand the methodology correctly, that's bad hittin' weather! It was the theater of baseball cruelty, what Antonin Artaud memorably calls in his "The Theater and Cruelty," "a theater that wakes us up: heart and nerves." My heart and nerves are awake, Tony. But what was once a dirge is now a celebration, and, as Claude Levi-Strauss will tell you, the inane, crowdsourced lunacy that was our funeral can just as easily be our celebration of life, so let's have at it!
The Frandsen Question:
Borg_Queen wanted an ersatz follow up on taco pal's excellent article on Frandsen's usefulness earlier today, asking for an account of Kevin Frandsen's offensive and defensive performance tonight. Let's break this up into offense, defense, and ephemera:
Frandsen, by my count, only had one defensive chance (I'll happily edit if folks remember one that I don't), in the bottom of the fifth, on Cole Hamels' first groundball out, against Ruben Tejada. He acquitted himself in almost exactly the way that Sarge would later characterize his typical defense: solid at getting to the ball, shifty at throwing it to first. He picked the ball up fine, but his throw was a bit low. Luckily, Howard dug it out, and no harm was done.
Frandsen collected three plate appearances tonght, and they were reasonably productive. Here's how they went:
PA1 (vs. Harvey): This was his worst plate appearance by far, as he was seemingly rattled by a ball that was a little high being called a strike. He swung at the next pitch and flew out to shallow center. Out.
PA2 (vs. Harvey): This was a nice one, especially as Phillies batters had not been running deep counts against Harvey. He took the first pitch for a ball in much the same location as the first pitch in the first at bat (1-0); he then fouled the second pitch back (1-1); he took a strike down the middle of the plate (1-2); in a bad count, Frandsen took a nice emergency swing on the next pitch, fouling it down the third base line (1-2); he then showed off his batting eye, taking a close curve on the outside of the plate (2-2); he then fouled another ball back into the screen (2-2); he then took another ball outside to run the count full (3-2); he fouled the next pitch back (3-2); and finally took a ball well outside and earned a walk. An eight pitch at bat ain't nothing to sneeze at.
PA3 (vs. Parnell): This is a better at bat than it appears in the box score. Frandsen started by taking a ball inside, and then fouling a ball to left field, and he didn't stop swinging on the third pitch. He hit the ball on the nose, which was encouraging, but it was right at Ruben Tejada for the double play. 2012, natch.
Did you know: according to T-Mac, Frandsen had 37 hits in August, good for third in baseball? That's pretty good!
Frandsen may not have led the team in much tonight, but he certainly led them in enthusiasm over Howard's HR. So good. Someone find this gif!
Not related to Frandsen, but I'm reasonably shocked that a children's TV show is interested in issues of mechanization and technological determinism. I'm less surprised that it's into cider. Perhaps "flim flam" is a useful way to think about the Phillies' season, too, but I'm drinking that snake oil.
Also, while I'm on the topic of economics, VorAbaddon, trolled me hard, asking me to give an account of who should win this game based on potential economic benefit. I actually gave this some clear thought: the Phillies, specifically because SNY gives the Mets a reasonable base from which to rebuild, regardless of on-field peformance. As the Phillies' TV deal is heretofore unfinished, the win counts more for their future economic success as it is necessarily undetermined.
Wheels and TMac Confidential:
Great news! OrangeCone asked me to do a who's on first bit, and Tom McCarthy and Chris Wheeler wrote it for me! Here, captured for the first, though certainly not the last time, are your terrible soundbytes of the night:
1. Wheels, on Hamels' approach:
"Cole Hamels is first in pitches per game at 107.4, so he doesn't have a whole lot of outings where he goes out there and doesn't throw a lot of pitches. He doesn't get a lot of quick outs." Hamels almost immediately strikes his batter out on three pitches. Pitch to contact! /gag
This almost perfectly ties in with Phil Neikro and Sarge's weird old man rant about how players should work on hitting singles and how six innings isn't a "quality start." If you missed it, just...appreciate those brain cells. We weren't all so lucky.
2. Tom McCarthy trolls TGP when he says this of Jimmy Rollins:
"He'll finish with more popups than even he'd like."
Home runs are like popups.
3. Wheels and TMac had a useful conversation about the archive, for all you budding intellectuals:
Wheels: "Well, they have the archives...Like the National Archives...Their ability to call things up at a moment's notice is frightening."
TMac: "Well, that's technology."
Wheels (insistent): "No. That's persistence."
4. TMac makes a guess:
Wheels: "Jon Matlack, great Philadelphia connection, of course, from Westchester. Know what he was most famous for?"
TMac: "What was he most famous for? He made some kind of cake!"
Wheels jumped the gun; I bet Matlack make some good cake.
5. Wheels and TMac talk technology and recording from the tee-vee box:
Wheels: "Get those!...what they call them, VTR's, now? Get those VTR's...DVR's! Whatever."
TMac: "HA HA HA HA HA."
Wheels: "What they call the video tape recorders now when you get ‘em from the cable company?"
TMac: "Uhhh...they call them DVR's"
Wheels: "Do they? Okay. All right."
TMac: "HA HA HA HA HA."
6. Finally, enjoy a final geographical note by our intrepid friends. If you're not from the area, this will clear up a lot!
Wheels: "We see a Phillies fan and a Mets fan next to each other, and they're together. It would appear. They're friends!"
TMac: "It's not too far between the two cities."
TMac: "Lot of colleges between those two cities."
Pennsylvania and New York: close to each other! Myth busted.
Tonight's game brought us a lot of joy in the end, but in the middle, we had to make our own fun. In this way, this game was a lot like life. So, two thoughts from the depths of the thread. First, a Comcast based jinx:
Lookit that -- that's synchronic blogging! Good hustle, all. Also, good calling me on my promise.
And second: j reed sez, "Get your big jumps off my digital lawn!" And we obey.
I hope you've enjoyed our celebration, and if it seems frivolous, understand that this is reflective of our attachment to this often frivolous, frustrating game. Just like this recap, it's a mess, but how can you root against this team?