Interleague play. Kyle Kendrick starting. 2012. Guaranteed Phillies loss, right? Well...no. How this happened, I am not sure, but it involved Juan Pierre going deep. And a reasonably effective afternoon from the bullpen. Kind of. And some luck in the form of poor play in the later innings by an opposing team. And starchy tubers.
Things started out with James Shields pitching for the Rays against Kyle Kendrick. After a clean 1-2-3 first inning, Kendrick was touched in the second for three runs. He was burned by a single, a walk, and a double by Jeff Keppinger, who had five hits on the day. Keppinger's double scored Ben Zobrist and someone named Jose Lobraton. A throwing error allowed Keppinger to advance to third, from where he scored on a James Shields ground out, staking the aforementioned James Shields to a three run lead. Surprisingly, the game was not over at this point.
In the bottom of the third inning, it started to get strange. For instance, Kendrick led off with a walk. Jimmy Rollins took that opportunity to hit an absolute blast, scoring two runs. Ok, maybe it was wind-aided in OFJOAB, but still! Runs!
In the bottom of the fourth, following two quick outs, Kendrick, winded by running the bases, perhaps, or maybe worn out after throwing an efficient 93 pitches in 4 innings of work, was pinch hit for by Mike Fontenot. Fontenot singled. And Rollins singled. And Juan Pierre, of course, hit a three run homer to right. And Juan Pierre, of course, hit a three run homer to right. There. I wrote that twice, and I still don't believe it. Lookit. All of this with two outs. Seriously, if I were a Rays fan watching that, I would have gouged out my eyes.
The score remained 5 - 3 until the seventh, when the Phillies added a run on an error by Ben Zobrist that allowed Juan Pierre to reach second. He stole third, and scored on a single by Carlos Ruiz, stretching the lead to 6 - 3.
The bullpenning of the Phillies was not awful. Well, maybe it was. Or not. I can't make up my mind. Raul Valdes pitched 2 scoreless innings, striking out 4. Great! Chad Qualls pitched 0.2 scoreless innings, and was relieved on matchups when B.J. Upton reached on an interference call. Bastardo cleaned up the last of the Rays' seventh, getting Hideki Matsui to fly out. Bastardo's eighth inning did not go so well, but after much sturm und drang, he surrendered only one run on a Sean Rodriguez RBI single to score Ben Zobrist.
Then came the ninth. It was a save situation. Papelbon has been MONEY, right? This was painful, and I can't really begin to describe the emotions I went through listening to it. I relived every hard-luck loss this season as Papelbon horked up a two run lead to the likes of the unstoppable Jeff Keppinger and Brooks Conrad. By the time Papelbon struck out Sean Rodriguez to end it and preserve at least a tie, I was certain that this was to be yet another hard-luck loss, and I listened to the boos cascading down on Papelbon and the Phillies in what promised to be a very ugly loss.
As fortune would have it, Papelbon's spot in the order was up, and Charlie Manuel sent out Jim Thome. Once more unto the breach, Big Jim. And he killed it, and I wept. Ballgame.
Fangraph of Madness: