I really don't want to be too jubilant after a loss, but...They did it! The Phillies have secured a protected pick!
As Joecatz outlined earlier today, with tonight's loss the Phillies can win a maximum of 74 games. San Fransisco already has 74 wins and loses any tie-breaker to the Phillies. The Brewers and Mets, who are playing each other, have identical 73-87 records. Toronto is also 73-87. Barring some miraculous comeback the Rockies are going to be 72-88 after tonight.
In the worst case scenario, the Phillies win out, with the Mets, Blue Jays, and Rockies losing all of their remaining games. If that were to occur the Phillies would be 74-88, the Mets and Blue Jays finish with 73-89 records, and the Rockies would be at 72-90. In such a scenario the Rockies finish in 7th place, Toronto 8th, Mets 9th and Phillies 10th and the Brewers would have been pushed out of the top 10 due to their beating the Mets. Any other combination of outcomes can only improve the Phillies' 2014 draft standing. So maybe root for all those other teams to win.
To the game:
The first handful of innings looked a lot like the aisles at Wegmans, the pet store, and 7-11 to me, probably because I was at Wegmans, the pet store, and 7-11. What can I say; the creatures in my house need to eat.
Luckily I have the internet and you can catch up on things through boxscores and MLB.tv (which, by the way, is free for the rest of the season for everyone so check out any games you're interested in this weekend), so I can catch up on the parts unseen. Offensively, little of value was missed as Lee and Medlen pretty much owned bones tonight.
In the top of the first Hernandez, Rollins and Utley batted. They didn't get any hits. Heyward, Johnson and Upton mirrored the Phillies' efforts in the bottom half.
In the second Ruiz walked. A base runner! Perfecto broken up! Dom Brown then grounded into a double play. Sadface. I say that not only because of the DP, but also because Brown has hit a meager .250/.362/.325 since returning from his Achilles injury on the 13th. The power has disappeared. Speaking of power, Darin Ruf then struck out. Womp womp.
The Barves' half didn't go much better. Freeman singled on what Fangraphs called a "fliner." Lee then punched out Gattis, got Angry Chris Johnson on a fielder's choice, and gave up a single to Simmons which advanced Freeman to third. Luckily Dan Uggla and stepped into the box, sporting a stylish smedium jersey and 32% K rate and went down on strikes to end the threat.
Third inning: Asche, Bernadina, Lee. Nope. Nope. Nope. Medlen, Heyward, Angry Reed Johnson. Nope, K-ing nope, nope.
Fourth: Hernandez, F-9. Rollins, inverted K. Utley, base on balls! Offense, whoo! Chooch, regular K. Oh well, good job, good effort guys.
At this point it seemed as if Lee decided that if there wasn't going to be any offense he might as well entertain us all with historic dominance. The next six Braves, and nine of the next eleven, to bat would turn around and walk back to the dugout. That's impressive, but the historic part was this: To that point Cliff Lee had 50 strikeouts through September to his single walk. 50:1 K/BB ratio. That's, you know, not too bad. He would go on to strike out two more to end the month at 52/1, making him the only pitcher in the history of baseball to strike out more than fifty batters in a month while walking one batter or fewer. Wow.
Getting back to the other side of the ball for a moment, the Phillies nearly matched Atlanta's futility with the stick. Brown and Ruf grounded out in the fifth. Asche, another guy unfortunately finishing the season in a bit of a farty manner, struck out. If you've somehow managed to follow along with this rambling recap to this point you might notice that I haven't mentioned a Phillies hit yet. This would be because the Phillies didn't have a hit.
Bernadina and Lee grounded out in the sixth when Hernandez stepped to the plate and roped a single, inspiring the Phillies leading to a magical 20-run inning during which the Earth opened up and swallowed Freeman, Johnson, Johnson and McCann whole. Actually, none of that happened. Hernandez did get a hit on a dribbler to Angry Chris Johnson, so sort of the same thing, right? Hernandez was quickly erased by getting caught stealing as his front foot popped off the bag on his slide. The Phils would get one more hit in the game on a 7th inning Utley single, though in keeping with the theme of this game he was erased on a Ruiz GIDP. It was about this time that I tweeted some important game updates:
Oh god I just froze my throat on a slurpee, send help!— Charles Dodgson (@Eric_Lindros) September 28, 2013
Only the best analysis from me.
Angry Chris Johnson broke up the fun leading off the 8th, golfing a decent pitch into the first row of the left field bleachers. That was all Lee would allow, as he ended the game with 8 IP, 13 SO, 0 BB, 3 hits allowed, one of which was that solo shot. Kimbrel did what Kimbrel does in the top of the 9th, and with that the Phillies gloriously lost, securing a first round pick in 2014 and giving them more options for the off-season.
This kind of game was almost exactly what those of us embracing the armored combat vehicle were looking for—good individual performances that entertain and inspire some excitement for next season while improving the Phillies standing and bonus money in the 2014 draft. The offense could have done a little more tonight, maybe leave the bases loaded 8 or 9 times for example, but all in all I'm not going to be too angry about them securing their bottom-10 finish.
There are two more games to watch (or not if you have other things to do, like excitedly sit in a bathtub, install some stud tires, or write some Amaro prose, I guess), both of which are slated to be bullpen games. Me, I'll be rooting for some offense out of Brown and Asche and Ruiz, good performances from the smorgasbord of bullpennery that will be trotted out in those games, and ultimately a couple more losses. There's still the possibility of getting the 7th overall pick, you know, which wouldn't be too shabby.
I initially thought about posting the Hallelujah chorus from Handel's Messiah to celebrate the occasion, but I understand how that might come off as metaphorically dancing on the Phils' 2013 grave, so something a little more reserved is probably better suited for the occasion. Take it away, Mr. Cohen:
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
Fangraph of the conflicting beneficial loss below.