I’m writing this paragraph after listening to the first inning of the game on the radio. I’m purposefully doing two things differently for this recap: 1) I am not watching the Sanabia/Kendrick heavyweight fight that, visually, cannot justify the steep, steep drop-off from Franzke/Andersen to McCarthy/Wheeler; 2) I am deciding the end of this game long, long before it is actually over. Now, as I’m a slow writer, and as this game is speeding by, we’re currently now in the top of the 2nd inning, two outs, and Miami is up on the Philadelphia Kendricks 1-0. Despite Marcel Ozuna hitting what sounded like a fairly pretty double, I’m going to go on record right now, 7:34 PM EST on May 2, 2013, that this game will end with less than three more runs crossing the plate. I predict the Phillies will lose, but I’m less convinced of that. My expectation is that this will be a quick, fairly dull game in which the starters go five or six innings a piece, do basically all they can do to win, and just completely kill my spirit because a pitchers’ duel is only interesting with strikeouts! Okay, so there’s my prediction. It’s the middle of the 2nd. Seal the envelope.
Update 1: We’re currently in the top of the third inning at 7:52 PM, EST, and I was fairly convinced that I’d have to eat my words after an absolutely brilliant sounding Domonic Brown line drive home run. This rara avis was very nearly followed up by a John Mayberry, Jr HR that just died on the track. And then…back to ground balls and long-ish at bats. As I speak, Kyle has gone to 3-0 against Justin Ruggiano, a man known for his inability to hit righties. He just walked him. Siiiiigh. No change to prediction. Reseal the envelope.
Update 2: Checking in on a wonderful sounding Kyle Kendrick defensive play to rob Donovan Solano. We’re in the top of the fifth, and Ryan Howard has hit a bomb (or pseudo bomb, anyway, as it just cleared the fence) to put the Phillies up 2-1. Again, not at my three run prediction yet, but Kyle has really locked in, with four strikeouts thus far. Sadly, Alex Sanabia has also locked in as well, with four strikeouts and no walks to Kyle’s two. Still, Kyle hasn’t served up any longballs, so take that Sanabia. Thus far a bit more exciting than I’d thought. At the bottom of the fifth now…apparently that was the first clean inning for Kendrick. Wild.
Update 3: So, the game just ended. Things took up a lot of my time through the broadcast after the fifth, and I wasn't able to remain as deathly glued to the broadcast. It’s just as well in a way, since nothing was going to top the nonsensical mangling of the pre-inning ads by Larry Andersen and Scott Franzke. Ah, paradise.
Yet, I have to admit, based on my jaded prediction, I was totally wrong about this game. This was a fun game! Kyle Kendrick managed to turn a boring pitch-to-contact prediction into a seven inning, five strikeout, two walk affair. Yes, there was a homerun to weirdly successful Justin Ruggiano, but there were only two earned runs the entire game. This, of course, meant that the bullpen didn’t ruin my night either – Mike Adams and Jonathan Papelbon pitched drama-free eighth and ninth innings, the former striking out two Marlins and seeming much more like his old self. A good sign for what can easily become an albatross contract over time.
Oh, and the hitting! That helped too. Domonic Brown didn’t just have his home run; he went 3-for-4 with 2 RBI and a walk. Probably would have had a steal too if John Mayberry, Jr wouldn’t have fouled a pitch off. And Utley and Howard had hits themselves (ed. note: Utley's "hit" was a sac fly), along with Michael Young. Delmon Young, meanwhile, did not do anything I wouldn’t have done in his position at the plate, besides make (meaningless)
contract contact. Que sera. Oh, and Juan Pierre stole his 600th base. Seems like a good guy – I’m pleased for him!
So, yes, it was the Marlins. And yes, it was the Marlins without Giancarlo Stanton and starting Alex Sanabia. And yes, Ricky Nolasco and Jose Fernandez could combine to just make the Phils look silly tomorrow and Saturday. But I actually really enjoyed the game tonight: it was close for a while, there were homeruns, there was nice pitching, and the team I wanted to win won. There’s a great joy in cynicism, a great joy in assuming we know exactly what kind of crap sandwich we, as the collective fandom, is about to be served. Baseball is actually a fun game, and even a team we fear is kind of bad can deliver upon the promise of fun sometimes. More than three runs crossed the plate, excitement was had, and I enjoyed my night on recap duty.
Don’t let the cynic in you blind you to the fun in the game. The Phillies are brutally frustrating, but they’re our team, and they play the best sport in the world. Said. Fangraph below!