ThePhillies were stymied for six innings by Mariners' ace Felix Hernandez, who was... hang on a sec'.
(muffled voices) What? Are you kidding me? The Marlins? I didn't know they still had a team. Are you sure? Really? With Major Leaguers? No, not Dobbs, actual Major Leaguers? No kidding... Didn't they trade him yet? Huh.(/muffled voices)
The Phillies were stymied for six innings by Marlins' wunderkind and ace Jose Fernandez, a 20-year old Cuban refugee who has now made exactly two starts above High A. Fernandez struck out five, allowing only two walks and two hits, on 85 pitches. Cole Hamels, rebounding from two craptastic starts last week, matched Fernandez into the fifth. With two outs, and his no-hitter intact, Hamels allowed a triple to shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who isn't a real person, bringing up the Child Prodigy Himself. Fernandez helped his own cause, rolling a seeing-eye single to left, scoring Itchyvariation from third.
The Phillies mounted several rally attempts. In the second, Laynce Nix singled up the middle, and Freddy Galvis, starting in place of a malarial Michael Young, singled to right. But Erik Turkeybacon Kratz lined out to end the threat. In the sixth, behind 1-0, Jimmy Rollins drew a one-out walk, and Chase Utley grounded into what should have been a double-play, but Etchasketcha threw the ball into the camera well, allowing Utley to advance to second. But Ryan Howard struck out, looking about how you'd expect me to look if I were batting against Justin Verlander and had no arms.
The Phils tried again in the seventh, with Fernandez having thankfully limited out of the game. Domonic Brown led off with a single up the middle, and, with one out, Freddy Galvis drew a walk, bringing up Kratz, who again grounded into what should have been a double-play, but after taking a perfect toss from Esteban Marina, Donovan McNabb threw a sixty-yard incomplete pass to a beer vendor in the upper deck, scoring Brown to tie the game. With Kratz now on second, Michael Young, battling a case of West Nile Virus, pinch-hat for Hamels, and lined a single pasta diving Polanco (actually, he knocked it down, but shut up because narrative). With runners on the corners and two out, Marlins' skipper Mike Redmond (who attended college somewhere in God's Country, according to T-Mac and Wheels) brought in lefty Mike Dunn to face Ben Revere. Revere drew a eight pitch walk, forcing Staphylococcus Young to run on a full count several times, before he was mercifully lifted for pinch-runner Cliff Lee.
With the bases loaded, and Dunn showing signs of erratic-ness, Rollins, who had walked twice already, whiffed on three pitches. Three runners ahead of you, Jimmy. Should have got State Farm instead of Blah Blah Insurance so Person Come Help.
With Hamels lifted, Antonio Bastardo pitched a perfect seventh. Howard lifted a double to center, off Dunn, no less, a ball which would have been a homerun at OFJOAB. John Mayberry pinch-ran for Howard, and Domonic Brown grounded out, moving Mayberry to third, but Kevin Frandsen struck out weakly against Ryan Webb to end the threat.
Mike Adams pitched a perfect eighth, and it looked like the Marathon to Papelbon would be in solid shape tonight, if the Phils could just score a run. Enter: Phillippe Aumont. Aumont, who nabbed career win number one yesterday, started out by walking Polanco. Placido Polanco does not draw a lot of walks. He entered this game with zero walks on the season. Of course, he left it with two. Anyway, Polanco's on first, bringing up cleanup hitter Greg Dobbs. I'll pause for a moment while you re-read that sentence, then head to the liquor cabinet.
Back? Great. Where was I? Oh, yes, cleanup hitter Greg Dobbs grounded to first, a ball which most first basemen would handle, but remember that part earlier where Mayberry ran for Howard? Well, shoot, you say, Mayberry's a perfectly servicable first baseman. But, do you remember that other part when I mentioned Frandsen? Oh, yeah... he must have batted for Nix... wait, really? Yes. First baseman, Kevin Frandsen couldn't make the play, and Dobbs reached, moving Polanco to third. Runners at the corners, nobody out. Crunch time. Aumont doubled down, striking out Austin Kearns, bringing up the much-maligned Chris Coughlan with one out. Polanco is not a fast runner, but you can't chance letting him score on a ground ball with one out, so the infield was in. Coughlan rolled a surefire double-play ball to Utley, but The Man couldn't pick it cleanly; and Polanco scored easily.
Game over. 2-1 Marlins.
The Phillies have played worse games, but probably none in recent memory against a team as bad as the Marlins. Giancarlo Stanton, the team's last untraded superstar, did not play. Justin Ruggiano, who has a decent bat, also did not play. The Marlins' lineup today combined for twenty homeruns last year. They are an embarassingly bad team. And yet, they made the Phillies look bad today. Not good, boys, not good.
There were some bright spots, of course. Howard's first extra base hit off a lefty. Galvis' defense is as good as ever, and his approach at the plate seems better than before. Rollins drawing two walks. Hamels seems to have improved over his last two times out, but, then, Marlins. Young is providing the consistent offense some of us expected from him, even while battling a case of Plague. And the back of the bullpen. Man oh man, the back of the bullpen. Bastardo and Adams are good stuff.
But this Marlins kid, though, is kinda scary good. I want to repeat that. Today wasn't just a case of the Phillies gonna Phillies, looking bad against a bad pitcher. It wasn't a case of struggling against Mr. Mystery Stuff, either, though that didn't help. Jose Fernandez is a good pitcher. And he's 20. Joecatz pointed out the comparision between Fernandez and a young Doc Gooden, and, although that seems a bit optimistic, it's not embarassingly so. Kid's good.
In an unfortunate interlude, Tom Macarthy and Chris Wheeler spent an inordinate amount of time talking about the much-improved state of Marlins' Park. Apparently, the reason Loria had to trade away all his good players for guys like Chad Qualls (yes, he is a Marlins) was that he ordered special grow lights from Holland. I think that was actually his chief groundskeeper wanting to plant weed in the offseason, but Loria still signed the check. They also spent an equally absurd amount of time talking about Seattle, because, you know, I don't know.
The zinger of the game, though, was from the Sarge. With Dobbs up, Sarge noted that, "Let's face it, Dobbs here is not usually a fourth-type hitter." Right on-cue, Dobbs popped up. Sarge continued, not missing a beat, "and that is the reason." Boom.
Fangraph of Marlins
With the series even at 1-1, the Phillies look to take the rubber game tomorrow morning, behind ace... hold me... Roy Halladay. Halladay, who has struggled his first two times out this year, looks to prove to his detractors that they're a bunch of donkeys and should go away. The Marlins will counter with Kevin Slowey, a six year old refugee, who, having never pitched above Tee-Ball, is probably in line for a perfect game.
Meanwhile, the Marlins, hoping to improve attendance, have partnered with local businesses.
Tonight's attendance: Four hundred and nine. The Larry's Hardware Store Marlins thank you for your support.— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) April 14, 2013