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Phillies 5, Marlins 3: Channel Your Inner Bad Asche

The Phillies played several games tonight. Or one really long one. I'm glad their bullpen has been good lately, since they needed to use all of it tonight.

Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me. Till then, I walk alone.
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me. Till then, I walk alone.
Mitchell Leff

You may not know this, but Cole Hamels was a child actor before he was a pitcher. Really. Tonight, like The Lonely Man, he walked alone. Or rather gave up solo home runs. Or something. Let's just say that tonight is a night when we look at xFIP, because the FIP...oh, the horror.  Hamels tossed 98 pitches over 7 innings, striking out 7, walking none, and scattering 7 hits, three of which were "scattered" in the bleachers. Oy, vey.  Giancarlo Stanton, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Marcell Ozuna blasted solo shots off of Cole-Bear, but it didn't sink the Phillies. Stanton's gonna Stanton, but the other two were a little irritating.

It was one of those Hamels nights where he was visibly frustrated at not getting close pitches, and then it seemed like a ball would go into the seats. He has these games once in a while, but he kept bearing down and pushing on. Most importantly, he walked nobody and the homers came with nobody on.  It was Cliff Lee-esque.

Seriously, if you didn't click that "walked alone" link from a ways back, you should do it. It's Fat Elvis, and it is primo Fat Elvis. And no, Cole Hamels was not a child actor, but he should have been.

We saw Tom Koehler for the Marlins tonight. He was really good, but his results weren't ultimately that much different than those Hamels had.  Koehler tossed 92 pitches over 6 innings, allowing 7 hits, no walks, striking out 6, and giving up just two runs. Like Hamels, he didn't get a win, either.

The Phillies scored the first of their three, pre-bullpennery runs in the fourth. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard started off with singles. Howard's was, get this, an infield single. [pause] Way. Marlon Byrd outed, and Cody Asche singled.  Carlos Ruiz hit a sac fly to score a run, and Mayberry did what he does against right-handed pitchers to snuff out the threat.

In the fifth, Hamels woofed for the first out. Ben Revere singled and stole second. Rollins moved him to third with a grounder and Utley drove Revere in with a single. At this point, it was tied, but Yok-Ozuna's homer in the seventh inning untied it.

In game challenge: A sumo thong (used) for the person who photoshops Yoko Ono's face on Yokozuna along with Marcell Ozuna's jersey. Feed my nightmares.

The Phillies tied it in the seventh in a way that really gratified me. Domonic Brown (who was "sat down" - seriously, conjugate that for me, please) came in to pinch hit and sent one downtown. Or at least to the outfield for a pinch-hit single. Hamels was lifted for Tony Gwynn, Jr., who sacrificed Brown to second. A Revere ground out send Brown to third. Jimmy Rollins, hustling on a grounder, was safe at first when Jeff Baker gacked the ball. Brown hustled home to tie it and take Hamels off the hook for the loss. I really liked how Brown and Rollins both hustled when it counted and got it done, tying the game.  Domonic Brown needs little victories like this one, and it was good to see. Also: keep on hating, Rollins haters. Neener neener ha ha!

Jake Diekman gave us all heartburn in the eighth, but he escaped, touching 100 on the stadium gun at one point.  Diekman was not getting some close pitches, including a pitch that was ball four on a 3 - 2 count to Stanton. Better to walk him than have him jack one, I guess. Diekman walked two (including McGehee intentionally), gave up a hit, but whiffed Ozuna with a 99 mph fastball to keep it tied and end the inning after what seemed like an hour. He was very deliberate toward the end. Papelbon-esque, almost. But it worked. It was also success at a high-leverage moment. Of course, the leverage was much lower when he started out, but what do you want? Boring, mechanical, effective relief or THRILLS AND SPILLS AND CHILLS!!!!!! Oh, I know you. You want the excitement! You adrenaline junky, you!

The Phillies flailed ineffectually at some pitches in the eighth, but nothing really exciting happened. Papelbon kept the Marlins off the board in the ninth, and the Phillies kept themselves off the board in the ninth.

My heart sang at the idea of extra innings tonight. You have no idea. I was literally jumping for joy at the prospect of an endless stream of bad at-bats as players fished for that home run ball and as bullpen arms got progressively more and more volatile. It is about as gripping as the Russian Roulette scene in The Deer Hunter. Or not. But it happened nevertheless. And it kept happening. And happening. And...yeah.

It did give me a chance to observe the very large and burly Justin Bour ("Boar" of course - just look at him). He was dispatched by the now or soon-to-be wily Antonio Bastardo with a nice fastball (veteran lefty reliever, right?). Jake Marisnick, who can't hit, didn't, but he took a long time to not hit - he fouled off at least 30 pitches. It would have been nice had he been more efficient and considerate about not hitting. Some of us have to work tomorrow, but no, he was all, "Me! Me! Me! Me!" The jerk. He finally hit a fly ball to Marlon Byrd for the second out. A ground out by Ed Lucas to Asche ended the inning. The next hitter was Stanton, so it was nice for Bastardo to get Lucas right there.

In the bottom of the tenth, Revere beat out a Baltimore Chop to lead off, despite appearing to have a bearing loose in one of his wheels. Thus began several hours of throws to first and fake bunt attempts by Rollins.

Seriously, the game hit a wall in the seventh and drug its ass along the carpet like an incontinent chihuahua the rest of the way tonight. Maybe during World Cup years, MLB would be willing to determine games with a baseball shootout -- essentially some variation of a home run contest. I'd just as soon randomly shoot players till one team has to forfeit, but I'm pretty easy to please.

During the cat and mouse, Saltalamacchia let the 2 - 2 pitch get past him, and Revere made it to second sans sacrifice bunt and with a 3 - 2 count for J-Roll, who was promptly walked.  First and second, nobody out, and Utley came to the plate.

DuhduhDUH Duhduhduh duhduhduh duhduhduh. [foreshadowing!]

Ball one. Ball two. Strike one, nice pitch. Fouled back, 2 - 2. Backs out, steely eyes glance up, back in the box, settles in.  Ball three, close. Fans standing. Popped up, runners stuck at first and second. Ugh. *Sigh* Just teasing.  Kind of.

Someone's got to end this, right? The scoring matrix says first and second with nobody out will get at least a run 64% of the time. Right? Maybe Howard?

Howard hits a grounder to second. Four, Six, nothing. Just one more out, but not a double play. Whew.

One more shot - Marlon Byrd. Howard breaks for second - defensive indifference. After a couple of balls and with the base open, he is intentionally walked. A.J. Ramos, a right-handed pitcher, pitches to Cody Asche with the bases loaded.  Good match up, right? Grounder, 4 - 3, inning over, and Stanton is leading off.

HEY GUYS! EXTRA INNINGS! WOOOHOOO! Channel your inner Ric Flair! Woooooooooo! Into the game came Diamond Dallas Page, channeling his inner bad ass.

But Stanton...

Hold me.

Stanton and Kenny Giles battled to a 9 pitch walk. Giles hit 100 once, but couldn't get the ball past Stanton, who fouled off a number of pitches before earning the walk. It was a dramatic match up, with neither player backing down. It was a fun moment. I exhaled.

McGehee hit a fly ball out to Byrd, and Ozuna came up. Around the horn, 5-4-3. Kenny Giles, folks, though the Marlins were not blown away by the fastball.  He throws hard, but some more movement would be swell. Need some motion in that ocean, Kinny.

Carlos Ruiz came up first, and took a curveball on the ear flap. He got up quickly, and took his base. Thankfully, it was a curve. Ruiz turned away at the last second, avoiding getting hit in the face by the closest of margins.

For about the tenth night in a row, Brown blasted a foul ball to right. One of these days, he'll straighten it out. One of these days. But not this day.

A Ronnie Cedeno fielder's choice followed, erasing Ruiz. Ben Revere walked, and Rollins came to the plate with two out. He worked the count full against Chris Hatcher and then popped out to short.

As the game went to the twelfth, I began to feel like the restaurant reviewer in the Twilight Zone movie who eats and eats and eats and is never full, and then learns that he's dead.

Mario Hollands greeted me in hell. Bullpen Death Match, WOOOOOOOOOO! Channel that inner bad ass, Lonely Man in the Twilight Zone listening to Fat Elvis. Six three. One out. Then, Cody Asche happened.

Cody Asche plays subpar defense. He may be an ok hitter, but that defense? Sucks. It's really, really bad. Cody Asche laughs at you, critics. Just as he laughs at Jarrod Saltalamacchia trotting back to the dugout after diving to his right, spearing a ball ticketed for the left field corner, and then springing up and making a fabulous throw to get the second out. A soft grounder, 4, unassisted ended the inning. Please, god, let someone end the game now.

Ok, so that Asche defensive play was a fun part of extra innings, too.

Utley and Howard went quickly, though Howard briefly thrilled us with a ball caught in left center at about 370 feet. Marlon Byrd roped a ball to left to keep the inning alive, bringing last inning's defensive hero Cody Asche to the plate.  No homer, but he knocks a ball through the hole to right, giving the recently-beaned Carlos Ruiz a shot to end it with Byrd on second and a two-out head start on any batted ball. Chopper to second. NOOOOOOOOOOO!

Are thirteen innings really necessary? Can I see the Parole Board now?

At this point, the police were called to CBP because both bullpens were resisting a rest, including Justin De Fratus for the thirteenth.  After dispatching two batters on 10 pitches, De Fratus had to face Stanton. Cheeks clenched, I typed and clenched and it along with me..clench and type and clench and type like baseball blogging Kegel exercises. Harmless fly ball.  Stanton disappears for the time being.

Despite my pleas, Brown struck out rather than homering. Justin De Fratus, who either borrowed or stole a bat, struck out, and paved the way for Revere to ground out.

Fourteen. Four. Teen.

Make it stop. MAKE IT STOP.

Lost in my frustration with the impotent Phillies offense squandering opportunities left and right was the outstanding performance of the Phillies bullpen post-Diekman. While the Phillies wasted chance after chance, the Marlins were being smothered.

De Fratus struggled a bit in the fourteenth, working around a double by Garrett Jones and a kinda sorta intentionalish walk to Saltalmacchia after he got behind him. With runners at first and second and two out, Donovan Solano hit a screamer down the line at third that Asche leapt up and snatched down. It was glorious, highlight reel stuff. He made two outrageously good plays tonight. The leaping catch was great, but the dive and throw had a higher degree of difficulty. Sophie's Choice, if you ask me.

I'm starting to see Caprica Six giving me a lapdance as I build my Cylon detector. I may not be able to finish this recap.

Hey! Wait! Jimmy Rollins is aboard to lead off the fourteenth! Infield hit! Caprica Six disappears. Boooo!!! Chase Utley appears. Yay! BJ Rosenberg starts to warm. Boooo!!! Chase Utley makes sure I don't have to watch Rosenberg pitch. YATM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

WEINER! First Utley walkoff homer since 2006!

Source: FanGraphs