The Phillies were in Arlington, Texas tonight for the second game of the opening series of the year. Traditional adversaries faced them: April (look! tropes!) and an American League opponent. Newly-acquired starting pitcher A.J. Burnett took the hill for the Phillies for his first start of the year.
Tonight's game was a complete change of pace following yesterday's 14-10 slugfest. For starters, the Phillies faced a left-handed starter in youngster Martin Perez. Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg countered with John Mayberry in place of Domonic Brown and Jayson Nix at third for Cody Asche. Nix, with his superfluous Y, is the Phillies-brother of Laynce Nix, in the sense of the Phillies always having the wrong brother of a baseball pair, though this is easier to do with the brothers Nichts, since a team always has the worst one, no matter which one they have.
Perez and Burnett dueled through about 6 innings each. Martin left after 5.2 innings after surrendering 2 runs, but walking none and striking out 7. Martin was nicked in the 6th.
The sixth inning was an adventure for the Phillies and poor little Ben Revere. Ben, who spent the first 5 innings showing his "arm" to Chris Wheeler behind the school buses (just read the comments), was the second hitter to bat. He followed Cesar Hernandez who started things off with a double. Revere tried to bunt, and he was nearly decapitated during the attempt, but he got it down. This may have been the least-graceful bunt in history. Revere reached when the pitcher Martin tried to throw out Hernandez at third. The play was close, but Hernandez was safe. Ron Washington had sauntered out to possibly challenge, but went back to the bench after the replay clearly showed that Hernandez slid under the tag of Adrian Beltre. Revere advanced to second when Jimmy Rollins single and drove in Hernandez. Runners at first and second! Chase Utley flied out to center and Marlon Byrd came to the dish.
In a move that was reminiscent of John Mayberry, Revere was picked off second. He was called safe at first, but Washington sauntered out and, encouraged by his bench that had seen the replay by the time he was on the field, challenged the call and Revere was, properly, called out. Byrd promptly singled, and thusly the Phillies had run themselves out of a run that they sorely needed. Still, Rollins was on second and Byrd was on first for Ryan Howard. Howard drilled a fastball to right, driving in Rollins. The inning ended when Jason Frason got Carlos Ruiz to ground out to short, ending the threat, but staking Burnett to a 2 run lead.
Burnett, who pitched with a man on base seemingly all night, wriggled through the sixth inning, but he finally gave up a run off a double by Alex Rios and a single by Mitch Moreland. Marlon Byrd helped bail out Burnett, though, catching a liner off the bat of of Donnie Murphy and then throwing out Moreland at first after Moreland had run past second to third. Seriously, this was a "remember Delmon?" moment. Here are the video highlights - scroll to the Byrd one.
The bullpen did not hold for the Phillies. Jake Diekman gave up a run in the 7th when a double by Beltre drove in Shin Soo Choo. Bastardo pitched a clean 8th inning, looking strong during his second outing in two days.
Going into the bottom of the 9th, it was tied up, but Choo walked, was sacrificed to second, and driven in by Beltre on a walk-off single. Mario Hollands started the inning off for the Phillies, but was relieved by B.J. Rosenberg for the Beltre at-bat.
At the end of the day, it was a winnable game that was lost by the bullpen and arguably by a failure of the Phillies to aggressively play match-ups more at the end of the game and during the seventh. Maybe Diekman shouldn't be facing righthanded hitting right now. Maybe putting Hollands out there in the ninth inning against the teeth of the Rangers' lineup while Bastardo faced the soft underbelly of the bottom of their order in the 8th wasn't the highest and best use of Bastardo's skill set.
Tomorrow, Kyle Kendrick will, uh, bring it on home for the Phillies, so long as his Prince Fielder PTSD doesn't give him the shingles or something.
Fangraph of old school management and Adrian Beltre being a badass: