So I guess that Jake Diekman is not the answer to any question that I want to ask.
Tonight found the Phillies in Chicago playing the second game of an abbreviated two game series, and trying to secure a third straight series win as well as a season-high fifth straight win. A win would also push the Phillies over .500 for the first time since the Pleistocene. It all happened, but just. With a huge sigh of relief, the Phillies slunk out of Chicago tonight to come home to face the Boston Red Sox for a weekend of miscegenation.
It all started calmly, as per the formulaic and tiresome 2012 Phillies narrative - Roy Halladay versus Chris Volstad. Rather than dwelling on the metaphysical question ("How does Chris Volstad exist as a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball?") the Phillies focused instead on kicking his ass, even without erstwhile Volstad-beater, Ryan Howard.
Volstad made it through 2 innings, surrendering. No line necessary; he's apparently French, and it is therefore axiomatic. The knockout blow was probably the Hunter Pence single in the second which scored two runs, but Volstad was lifted for the third rather than being replaced mid-catastrophe by Dale Sveum, whose name I accidentally spelled correctly.
A series of horrifying Cubs relievers ensued, but they managed to keep a lid on further damage until the fifth when Carlos Ruiz, man among men, singled, scoring Hunter Pence.
At this point, I need to make a brief digression on the topic of Hunter Pence, so let's jump.
Read this. It is the "Two Girls, One Cup" of baseball writing. It is so stupid that it will literally lobotomize you. Don't say I didn't warn you. Anyway, I bet he was cheering his face off for Hunter Pence tonight. Hunter Pence, taking lessons from a real man -- Carlos Ruiz -- started stopping sucking: 2 - 5, 2 R, 2 RBI, and no balls bounced out of his mitt.
While the Phillies were leaping out to a 5 - 1 lead, Roy Halladay was showing signs of being Roy Halladay. His pitch count was fabulously low, and it appeared as though the game was well in hand when Halladay left after eight innings with the following line: 8 IP, 3 R, 4 K, 0 BB, 7 H, and all of it in 99 pitches. Halladay allowed a run in the first, then shut down the Cubs till he gave up a solo home run in the seventh, making the game 5 - 2. The Phillies scored three in the top of the eighth, making it 8 - 2, and Halladay, clearly pitching to contact at this point, gave up another home run before finishing up in the eighth.
With the outcome no longer in doubt, Halladay's night ended, and I had prepared a nice little recap focused mostly on how great Chooch is. You know, sort of a little "hey there was a game and everything, but man, Chooch is having a career year, let's give it up for the guy." But no. The bullpen had to ruin it all, and I had to rewrite everything because of YOU, Diekman. SHUNNED.
Diekman came in to start the ninth with a five run lead. He left after getting two outs. He was charged with 4 runs. One scored on Jonathan Papelbon's watch, but it was not a pretty evening. Let's hope it is SSS/bullpen volatility and just a lousy night. The Phillies need some arms, so suck it up Jake, welcome to the old, prestigious baseball, and don't suck next time you come in to mop up a Halladay victory.
Papelbon did put out the fire with a one out save. It is a bummer he had to be used tonight. It will be tremendously irritating if, for instance, he can't pitch Sunday because he is used tomorrow and Saturday. DIEKMAN! SHUNNED!
So what about Carlos Ruiz? 4 - 5, 3 RBI, and....a stolen base. He also cured cancer, discovered the Higgs boson, and unified physics with a novel interpretation of string theory. He is your MVPhillie so far.
I want that on a t-shirt sooooooo badly.
Other neat things from tonight: Wanda Pierre's snowcone in left. Pierre's grab in the first. Freddy Galvis and J-Roll turning a double play. The Halladay kick save to Rollins for a 1-6-3 out on a ball ticketed up the middle. Galvis making a nifty grab in shallow right off a ball hit by Darwin Barney. And for some reason, I got a kick out of Mike Fontenot getting a hit.
Fangraph of Chooch: