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Phillies 3, Twins 2: The Eighth Inning Need Not Always Suck

The Phillies salvaged a game in Minnesota thanks to Cliff Lee, Ben Revere, an *effective bullpen* and a clutch EIGHTH INNING. Wait, what?!?!

Ben Revere, you had an awesome game today.
Ben Revere, you had an awesome game today.

Trying to salvage some dignity in Minnesota during this savage road trip, the Phillies started Cliff Lee, who was opposed by Kevin Correia. I spent much of the morning reading 4chan, so while I am sure what is funny and what is not, I am not sure I have a good feel for what I /should/ joke about right now in this place. I'm fairly sure Delmon Young fat jokes are still ok, though he isn't really looking that fat. Maybe it's sort of a conceptual fatness to which I can attach all sorts of moral judgments.

The Phillies struck in the first with a Ben Revere double (a line drive single to right, followed by a stolen base). A Jimmy Rollins comebacker that Correia derped allowed Revere to make it to third and put Rollins at first where Ryan Howard, not hitting against a shift for some reason, hit a sharp grounder between first and second to drive in a run. While the Phillies ran the pitch count to the low thirties, Delmon happened and they could not score further.

Cliff Lee had an adventurous 1-2-3 inning with Jamey Carroll just missing his first dong of the year on a "just foul" drive to the left field corner. A great, leaping stab by Jimmy Rollins stopped a soft liner to left by Joe Mauer. Still, with the batted ball luck working in his favor, Lee escaped the first unscathed.

The Phillies threatened in the second, with Freddy Galvis slapping a single the opposite way just over third, and Ben Revere slapped another single. The Phillies could not break through, but pushed Correia's pitch count higher. The Twins' second was much less eventful, other than a 3 - 0 count that came back to full and resulted in a grounder, 4 - 3, for the last out. Cliff Lee. Sleeperhold.

The Phillies and Twins were again scoreless in the third inning, with Lee still perfect, ending the third on a check-swing strikeout. The Phillies saw Domonic Brown stroke a single and Delmon Young execute a nice hit and run, smacking a grounder right into the hole left by the second baseman who was covering the bag for the incoming Brown, but it was all for naught when Laynce Nix macht nichts on a strikeout.

The broadcast team is trying to entertain us with pictures of Michael Martinez. I can only imagine him as entertainment during "Gladiator Day" when Michael Martinez and Delmon Young would fight to the death during the bottom half of the 6th inning in fat suits, though Young would just go au naturel, with katanas. Martinez would lose, of course, because he can't hit anything.

Ben Revere gapped a 2 out triple to right center in the fourth inning with nobody on (his third hit in three trips), but Michael Young smoked a ball off Correia that was fielded by Brian Dozier, who made a good play to get Young at first. This saved a run and ended the inning, though Correia at this point was nearly to 100 pitches after just four complete innings.

Lee lost the perfect game in the fourth (whatever) on a Joe Mauer single to left, but faced the minimum when Mauer was erased along with Ryan Doumit on a 6-4-3...twin end the inning (and that joke has *never* been made before, right?).

The Phillies pushed Correia over 100 pitches in the fifth after Howard and Brown worked deep counts, with Howard smoking a line drive single to right on a green light. Brown ran his count to 3 - 1 before taking the walk. With Correia struggling, Young promptly struck out on three straight pitches. Somewhere, every time Delmon Young has a plate appearance, a puppy drowns. Laynce Nix bopped a sure out to short, which was booted by Eduardo Escobar, loading the bases for Freddy Galvis, boy wonder, with Correia up to nearly 110 pitches, and clearly laboring. Galvis slapped it to third, and Jamey Carroll took it, 5, unassisted to end the inning, and letting Correia off the hook.

I'm writing this recap in real time tonight, and I can't help but thinking that the opportunities squandered so far will come back to haunt the Phillies. Corriea has surely pitched his last inning, and they couldn't get the knockout punch on him, leaving the Twins in striking distance. Again, this Phillies team has such a small margin for error in any given game. With 2 runners from errors, 8 hits, and a walk, it is baffling to me how the Phillies have only scored one run.

Lee got some batted ball luck in the fifth, with a sharp grounder hit right at Michael Young and a liner to left right at Dom Brown. Still, he faced just the three hitters, still at the minimum, and emerged unscathed and he did not work particularly hard.

Michael Young and Jimmy Rollins (see below) reached on singles in the sixth, but Young was thrown out for the final out trying to score. Ryan Doumit made an absolutely perfect throw from right and made the play look like a bad decision by Ryne Sandberg, but the throw was right to Mauer on a line, no hop, no nothing. Just a thing of beauty. Crap, right? Rollins' single was on a grounder deep to the hole at second. He hustled all the way, just barely beating out a single, so HE HUSTLED WHEN IT MATTERED. Take that, haters.

Lee cruised in the sixth, finishing the inning with strikeout on another in a series of absolutely wicked curves tonight. His curve is outrageously good tonight. Through six, he faced the minimum, but he ran into trouble in the seventh when Mauer worked a walk after running the count full in what was a great at bat with a fabulous hitter with a great sense of the strike zone and, well, Cliff Lee. Ryan Doumit hit a grounder to Young, and a bang-bang play at first left runners at first and second. The video replay showed that Gary Darling missed the call and that Doumit was out, but it was very close. A scary-looking fly to Brown by Josh Willingham produced the second out, and should have ended the inning. Of course, Morneau comes up and hits a double to left center that Revere missed by a foot or two after closing a huge amount of territory. Two runners scored, and Lee ended the inning by getting Oswaldo Arcia on a fly ball to Nix, but the damage was done, and Lee's pitch count went over 100, ensuring that there would probably be bullpennery of some sort by the Phillies.

The Phillies were not about to go quietly. Kevin Frandsen came in to hit for Quintero and stroked a double. Ben Revere bunted for a single, moving Frandsen to third. Michael Young stroked a single just past Doumit to the corner in right, and Revere made it to third, since he got a good read on it. A chop to first by Jimmy Rollins was fielded by a drawn in Morneau, but Revere was running on contact and made it well ahead of the tag. With that, the Phillies took the lead back, in no small part due to outstanding hitting and running by Ben Revere.

The inning continued with Ryan Howard hitting. A passed ball by Mauer allowed the runners to advance to second and third, eliminating the double play possibility, but Howard struck out anyway in a pretty terrible at bat, missing badly on two pitches. An intentional walk to Brown brought Delmon Young to the plate with one out with the Twins knowing that he would ground into a double play. He did. And somewhere, two puppies drowned.

Mike Adams came in for the eighth inning with all kinds of ominous sounds occurring in the atmosphere near me. It felt as though the Ark of the Covenant was being unloaded from a submarine somewhere. In the dugout, Charlie Manuel was asking for a young priest and an old priest. Adams wore a necklace of garlic, though it looked like one of those red and white corded necklaces. Given that he was facing two lefties (hitting .300 against him this year), this was wise.

Adams struck out Clete Thomas and induced a harmless fly to center for the second out. Eduardo Escobar came to the plate and hit a sharp grounder that Michael Young handled easily for the third out. See, the eighth inning isn't that hard at all, is it? What's the big deal? Somewhere, someone named "Papelbon" was stirring. I forget what he looks like, but a search for "onanistic primate" fixed that.

Still, there was additional Twins bullpennery before fans could watch Paps fling dung and celebrate excessively. Nix hit a single, and was subbed out for John Mayberry for running and defense in the ninth, presumably. Galvis was fooled badly on a neck-high fastball, and whiffed. Steve Lerud came in to hit, and faced Caleb Thielbar, who, while very tough on lefties, sounds like he should be fishing for walleye instead of pitching. Theilbar did his thing, striking out Lerud and bringing Revere to the plate, looking for his fifth hit of the night. Alas, it was not to be.

Into the breach came Papelbon, prancing, masturbatory fist-pumping primate that he is. But he is the Phillies' prancing, masturbatory fist-pumping primate. He was set to face the top of the order, minus Jamey Carroll, for whom the Twins pinch hit Chris Herrmann. Herrman was dispatched on four pitches with a strikeout. Joe Mauer came to the plate, scaring the bejeezus out of me. After a 7 pitch at bat, Papelbon got him fishing inside. A grounder to first put it away, and Papelbon acted like he'd been there before, for once.

Fangraph of Whatever and LOB and Rollercoasters and Eight Inning Goodness and Whew:

Source: FanGraphs