I cannot tell a lie: I did not make it through all of this one. Oh, I talked a big game, being super excited to finally get a chance to sit through a whole game, even if it was a West Coast tilt. Settling in on the couch for the promise of a good two or three hours of fairly decent baseball. Looking forward to the whole youth vs. polish pitcher's duel between Erlin and Hamels. Yes, I had big plans for making it through this game...and then came extra innings.
Before I get there, here are some things I had planned to write about prior to Delmon Young's game-tying two run home run off the actually talented Luke Gregerson in the top of the 8th inning:
- I thought it would be good to spend at least a few paragraphs talking about how it really wasn't actually a huge failure by the Phillies to be stymied by Robbie Erlin, as he was a fairly solid young pitching prospect for the Dads, despite not-so-great results in his career so far. Yes, it hurt to get shut down by a guy who sports a 4.15 ERA and a 4.90 FIP, but those are marks he'd earned over 8.2 innings. More predictive is the 12+ K/9 he put up in 52.1 AA innings last year, and the 8.33 K/9 he put up in AAA this year. And after tonight, his ERA is at 3.60, and his FIP at 3.39. So.
- There was briefly a plan to write about the Padres' home broadcast and how weird it was, since it was the one I was forced to watch. This didn't really have legs because, like all things about the Padres, what at first seemed so interesting eventually just becomes the dull paste that gathers at the side of your mouth when you don't move your lips for a while. Still, there were two moments worth noting: one, a rather extended look at an attractive young woman who caught a ground rule double and was hugged by her kids, and two, a long, and oddly numerical look at a bunch of nice looking vegetables while the game was going on. This latter moment was a good metaphor for the Phillies, I thought, and especially benefited in its surreality by my not having the sound on. Meanwhile, the attention on the lovely young mother made me hyper-aware of the male gaze, so, uh, that's probably worthwhile too?
- I gave some thought to reminiscing about how my Dad and I had seen a Padres-Phillies tilt that Hamels started a couple of years ago. That game began with five or six no hit innings, which was wild, but then an Adrian Gonzalez homer kind of took the wind out of everyone's sails. I think they lost that day. I know that everyone in our immediate section was more interested in this really cool dragonfly that landed on my Dad's jacket than what was going on on the field.
- Before the D. Young homerun, I was going to write about how much of a predictable genre of "bummer" the Phillies had become, particularly during Hamels' starts. The early lead, the flashes of competence, the defensive breakdowns (lol Elmon; or DE9MON), the consequence pitching breakdown (cole why), and the cold embrace of loss. Hell, the victory tonight would have been struck by Chris Denorfia. CHRIS DENORFIA. As I challenged fruitlessly in the GameThread, I defy you to think of three less interesting baseball players than Denorfia. You can't!
And then Delmon hit the home run. And then, I knew, we were going into extras. Now, free baseball is always a treat, so let's count our blessings. It's true that we are fans of the one sport that really just does not have an appropriate amount of regular season games: 162 is cruelly few. So you have to cherish each and every moment you get beyond that. ...unless that moment is against the Padres bullpen.
Now look, I may sound a bit harsh against the Padres. And I don't mean to be a prig: one of my favorite colleagues in academia is a Padres fan and a proud San Diegoan; the team seems fairly likeable overall; and who am I to argue with a seaside city that specializes in delicious Mexican food? But I mean come on -- Grant Brisbee saw it before me, and people will echo it long after I've said it, but it deserves to be noticed: that team is clearly just created from DNA from a vat. I mean how do you explain the endless string of 1B/OF patience/power types that they seem to grow on trees, or the endless stream of fungible bullpen arms? How do you explain that I can't honestly tell the difference between any pitcher past Robbie Erlin, and only then because I did research on Erlin? How far does the conspiracy go?!
Well, about til the 13th inning. At this point, I had been drifting off for a while. Even during Phillipe Aumont's stormy 9th (nice, easy reintroduction to the majors, by the way, Chuck). When I would wake up, usually there'd be two outs and some gangly genetically perfect sidearmer on the mound. I'd close my eyes, hoping to break the cycle...but to no avail. I can't be sure that this is the truth, but the box score assures me that the Phillies were shut out over four innings by a combination of Dale Thayer, Tim Stauffer, and Huston Street, the latter being the only of the trio to allow a hit. Meanwhile Phillipe Aumont, Jake Diekman, and Joe Savery combined for four scoreless on their end, as well. And over these combined eight half innings? Four strikeouts. Compelling stuff!
The whole "put the ball in play" schtick ended up hurting the Padres in the end, as Definintely Real Person and Not Animatronic Pitcher/Showman Tommy Layne put two on by way of a classic Chase Utley HBP and a Dom Brown walk, sandwiched around two outs in the air. At this point, I stirred, and Ben Revere was pinch hitting for Delmon Young. I had a feeling. Revere hit a hard grounder towards the hole that Logan Forsythe couldn't handle, and a throwing error later, it was 5-3. Allegedly, former A's starting pitcher Tyson Ross pitched the last third inning of tonight's game. Yeah, I guess, maybe.
Believe it or not, I drifted off again, and woke to two outs with only a man on first in a Papelbon save. I figured I was still dreaming, of course, but it was reality, and Paps had done the unthinkable in getting a fairly drama-free save. And thus, the Phillies had defeated the pastemen from the Bay, giving them the chance to take the series in tomorrow's game. Not a bad result, even if it took us all into the late night world of paranoia and bullpen conspiracy theories. Fangraph of sleeping with the light on to watch for creeping Tommy Laynes below.