It's 2:43 a.m. as I write this, and it has been a turbulent day, personally, for the Phillies, and for our country. The Phillies played two incredibly long baseball games in a double header that thankfully was played at nearly the doorstep of the All Star Break. Ben Revere broke his foot and is out for...a while. Tim Lincecum threw a no-hitter. Finn from Glee died in a hotel room in Vancouver. George Zimmerman was acquitted following a murder trial that has been incredibly divisive, though the outcome on the legal merits was unsurprising and expected by many commentators. The criminal defense bar (including me) saw this verdict coming a mile away for reasons you can read about elsewhere.
My task, in the frothing maelstrom that was today (yesterday), is to describe the events of the second game of the doubleheader the Phillies played against the White Sox. Does that game matter? Not at all. But we are pros here at TGP, and when things are the craziest, one of our tropes is to return to the comforting daily rituals of baseball. It doesn't make the world right. It doesn't give us the ability to help the world find its moral bearings in a world of legally correct but morally unfulfilling, messy, ambiguous endings.
I'd be lying if I told you I was not preoccupied with the remaining unanswered non-legal issues involved with the Zimmerman case moreso than I am with a fringy, frustrating Phillies team that is meandering in and out of the settled lands of the wild card race like a wanted man on the frontier. Baseball helps us to carry on and to set aside our heavier burdens for a time at least. It allows us to marvel at the wonder of John Lannan ("UNIBROW" is still available at PennDOT) as we hang at the edge of a cliff, with a tiger above and a tiger below.
Lannan was, today, pretty marvelous. He pitched 8 innings, surrendering just 1 run. He struck out 3 and walked just 1, giving up 4 hits. He left with a tie, but at the end of the season, we'll count it as a win for effort, if not in the standings. He was lifted after 8 with a pitch count of 90 because, well, the Phillies tried to win it in the bottom of the ninth when it was tied 1 -1. They didn't. It remained tied 1 - 1 through 4 extra innings during which a variety of wonderful, magical things happened.
Before we go there, though, let's review. The White Sox had a pretty good pitching performance today, too. Recall that both pens were used extensively in Game 1, so the managers had to know that they had limited moves as Game 2 progressed. The starting pitching performances were therefore particularly good, as both starters had to know they were in for the duration. Hector Santiago went 7.1 innings, struck out *nine*, walked just one, and gave up just three hits. Fortunately for the Phillies, one of those hits was a seventh inning solo homer by John Mayberry, which tied the game at 1. Mayberry, you recall, got the start because Ben Revere broke his foot. Santiago should also get a win in the year-end reckoning where pitchers getting a 16 - 2 win are forced to surrender their W to a hard luck loser or "no decision" pitcher who was fabulous, but did not "figure" in the outcome. Wins and losses! Preacher, meet choir, right?
Back to the magical things. Well, the Phillies offense did *zero* magical things until the 13th inning, so we'll just gloss over all of that fail.
The White Sox did some things, none quite magical, but the Phillies bullpen and defense held on, either "tenaciously by virtue of their grit" or "by the skin of their teeth in spite of their marginal talent" or some other narrative that you chose to construct. Do not allow me to oppress you here by imposing mine.
In the 10th, Luis Garcia was pitching his second inning for the Phillies. He allowed a single to Alejandro De Aza. A sacrifice bunt was attempted by Alexei Ramirez, but the Phillies cut down the lead runner on a fielder's choice, which was pretty big. Ramirez was thrown out trying to steal, and Gordon Beckham grounded out, ending the inning. Garcia held the line for two innings, earning his pay for the week.
In the eleventh, Justin De Fratus ("JDF" henceforth) came in and coughed up a lead off walk. Dayan Viciedo hit a grounder to third to advance the runner to second. Casper Wells lined out, and the Phillies put the double play in order by walking Conor Gillaspie. Tyler Flowers came to the plate and singled to left.
It was an epic outfield assist, and it quite likely saved the game for the Phillies. The kid has an arm. Jeff Keppinger was DOA. Humberto Quintero had no choice but to catch the ball and make the tag. Brown had the runner by a mile.
In the 13th, Joe Savery issued a walk to start it off, but erased it with a double play. He whiffed Flowers to end it and bring up the Phillies.
The Phillies got no production from their first batter, Quintero, as he walked. He was switched out for Jimmy Rollins on a fielder's choice. Rollins was sacrificed to second, and Michael Young came to the plate. Young played every inning of both games today (24 total). Young laced a single to right, and Rollins sped home with the winning run. This play, which was incredibly close at home, was the reason why JoeCatz consistently argues in favor of sending runners when an outfielder has to make a throw and get it to a cutoff man or to a catcher trying to block the plate. Rollins looked dead, but the defenders have to get everything just right to make a play. This is a game where the gamble paid off. The difference in this game was arguably Brown's throw in the 12th compared to Wells' throw in the 13th. And for a minute we all forgot the turbulence and upset of the day, and baseball, the great drug, did its job once more.
Fangraph of exhausted.
Cole Hamels gets the chance to send the Phillies into the All Star Break at .500 later today in an early afternoon game. Never before has an ASB been so anticipated, by the Phillies or by recappers.