Today, though, was a fresh start. Behind starter John Lannan, the... wait, who? John Lannan? That guy?
Huh. Well, with that guy on the mound, the Phillies looked to even their first ever April interleague series against... really, though. How the fuck did this guy end up on our team? Seriously, how did this happen? 11 hit batsmen, of whom four were Chase Utley, in 19 games.
Well, he's here now, so he's got to be less likely to hit Utley again, right? Jokes aside, he's probably here for this and only this reason.
In any event, he pitched well today. He was perfect through three, carried a no-hitter through the fourth, before running into some trouble in the fifth. After plunking (LOL) Lorenzo Cain, Jeff Francoeur (LOL) rolled a grounder to left that caromed off the short wall for a double (not LOL), moving Cain to third. Miguel Tejada (LOL) grounded out, scoring Cain, and Elliott Johnson singled up the middle, scoring Francoeur.
After Royals starter Mario Mendoza struck out, Alex Gordon singled to right; but Alcides Escobar grounded out to end the threat. You may be noticing a pattern here. Lannan, when he wasn't beaning guys, carried an 85% ground ball rate. His xFIP for today was a sparkling 2.04. He probably would have pitched a complete game if the Phils had two Freddy Galvises at the corner infield positions. (mental note: write Ruben Amaro about investing in human cloning)
After a quiet sixth, trouble brewed again in the seventh. After Frenchy led off with another double to center, Tejada (seriously, isn't he like eighty years old?) doubled him in. He was sacrificed to third for some reason (maybe because he can't run because he's ninety years old?), but got no further.
At that point, Mendoza, who had embarrassed himself mightily with his bat, leading to all manner of jokes on teh Twitter (and one in this article already), was pulled. Six innings, only two hits, one run, three walks and seven strikeouts. Unfortunately, despite being a not good team, the Royals are possessed of a solid bullpen. Aaron Crow and the Kelvinator pitched two perfect innings, with three strikouts, as the Phillies' hitters continued to make Mendoza line jokes long after they were funny.
Mike Adams and Antonio Bastardo turned in good performances, both appearing when the Phils were down, leading one to wonder why this wasn't tried when the Phils were ahead, say, yesterday. Answer: because they appeared in the seventh and eighth. Science.
In the ninth, the Royals turned to their closer, Greg Holland, against the "heart" of the Phils "order." Utley drew a walk, Ryan Howard walked on four pitches, and Michael Young swung at balls four and five, before drawing a third walk. Bases loaded, no outs, and up steps Brown. And right now, Greg Holland looks like Greg Bargar.
Needing to redeem himself in the eyes of his manager for, apparently, being the sole reason for a 13-4 defeat yesterday; and in the eyes of the fans for not being Barry Bonds 2.0, Brown swung mightily at the first pitch. He swung mightily at the second pitch. He swung mightily at the third pitch. On none of these was he remotely close to making solid contact, and, had he just stood there, he probably could have drawn a walk himself.
Kevin Frandsen came on to pinch-hit, and OMG A LINE DRIVE DOUBLE TO THE GAP IN RIGHT CENTER FIELD! UTLEY SCORES, HOWARD SCORES, YOUNG SCORES PROFESSIONALLY! PHILLIES WIN 4-3!
Ahem. Honestly, I hope Brown takes heart from this. You don't gotta be a superhero to win, Dom. You don't gotta swing for the fences.
Frandgraph: h/t to David Sherman
Having evened the series at 1-1, the rubber game is tomorrow "morning," as the Phillies send Cole Hamels to the mound against Kansas City's James Shields. Shields has faced the Phillies three times, including a rather more momentous occasion in the fall of 2008. Hamels has never pitched against the Royals.
Oh, and also: Broadcaster Quote of the Day:
"There's something about General Grant that's always fascinated me." - Chris Wheeler