"I've got the recap tonight, guys."
That was me to my fellow TGP blogger comrades in an email this afternoon.
Will tonight's game make you scream "SHOULD OF KEPT"? I'm going to keep thinking positively and say no, it won't. Also, I'm a human being with eyes and a brain. Even I know who to pick out of a Happ/Kendrick matchup.
And that was me in the game thread.
If Phillies win tonight, they will be two games over .500 for first time in 581 days.— Matt Gelb (@magelb) May 5, 2014
Famous last words. No one got what they wanted, did they.
Let's start with the good things, because they're pretty easy to list. Kyle Kendrick had a decent -- perhaps almost good -- start. He gave up three runs, all within the first two innings. After that, he settled right down and made it through seven innings. I'll take that from a fourth starter any day of the week. After Kendrick's outing ended with a gorgeous bases loaded double play, Jake Diekman came in to relieve him. Diekman pitched two scoreless, hitless innings, which lowered his ERA by almost a full run. On the other side of the dish, Carlos Ruiz stayed hot, going 2-for-3 with a walk. Marlon Byrd also went 2-for-3 with a walk, and his average is up to .296. And, at long last, Freddy Galvis got a hit. For a few precious moments, his average climbed from .031 to .061 before ending the night at .056.
But those good things were eaten alive by the offense. The offense was hungry so it ate all the good things, but no matter how much it ate it just couldn't get any stronger. It really was a poor showing tonight, run-wise. Ben Revere, Byrd, and Chooch each had two hits, but the only other Phillie to get a hit was Galvis. Galvis was also the lone Phillies player to get five at-bats tonight. Too bad the extra AB didn't net him an extra hit. The game was full of missed opportunities. Both teams had seven hits, but the Phillies couldn't score even one run. They left 11 men on base. And the kicker in all this? The first five of nine scoreless innings were pitched by none other than J.A. Happ. This was Happ's fourth appearance of the year and his very first start. Five innings, three hits, four walks, and no runs. And then Toronto's bullpen, which is one of just three teams with a bullpen ERA that's higher than the Phillies', pitched four scoreless innings.
The players themselves don't deserve 100% of the blame, though. Ryne Sandberg gets to share in the blame with his players, because for some reason he chose to bat Freddy Galvis and his .032 average in the two spot and shoved red hot Carlos Ruiz down to the seven hole. Why? Give me one good reason that Carlos Ruiz should bat there. If he bats closer to the guys who get on base, like Ben Revere, Chase Utley, and Marlon Byrd, and farther away from guys who don't get on base, like John Mayberry, Jayson Nix, and Kyle Kendrick, maybe more runs would score. If you put the guy who gets on base closer to the other guys who get on base, they can maybe all get on base together! And then I wouldn't feel like Chooch's at-bats are being completely wasted.
And who is it that decided that it would be a good idea to send Marlon Byrd home from third base with no outs in the sixth inning? Was it Pete Mackanin? Did he do it? Or was it Ryne Sandberg? Should we add this to his ever growing pile of infuriating managerial decisions? I don't know, and at this point, I'm not sure I care. What I do know is that in the blink of an eye, the Phillies had clear bases and two outs when a moment before there were no outs and a runner on third. Jose Bautista's arm was tested, and it was Byrd that was found lacking. It's entirely possible there's no one to blame, and I might be pinning this on Mackanin and/or Sandberg unfairly. But it feels so much better to blame them, because I want someone to be at fault. Feel my rage, person at fault! Feel it!
In the end, this is just one game. One rather putrid game that was unpleasant to watch. The Phillies have a chance tomorrow to climb above .500 before heading to Toronto for two games. There's another game tomorrow. When I get infuriated, it's good to remember that. It helps quiet the rage monsters.