You might think a good empiricist believes only what she can confirm through her senses. You would be wrong. Nevertheless, it is a good initial thought, and the premise to many farces, especially those expressing anxiety about the scientific revolution. Today we entered Act III--the final act--of just such a farce. Over the last two days (three really but plays are not four acts long) Maikel Franco launched baseballs from his bat and smothered them within his glove to elevate a wayward club from the sewage-slicked gutters to the silken couches of an aristocratic mansion. With such unusual success (31 runs in 3 days!) the club seemed divinely inspired and one could only conclude that their piety to Base Ba'al was unrivaled. Once they inhabited the mansion, however, the club could not resist its deepest drives. At the sight of Cole Hamels astride the thin white mounded strip, the club ineluctably revealed its libertine whims. Unable to focus or reign in their fancy, the Phillies whiffed, slapped, stabbed, bounced, bobbled, and gaffed their way to a sound drubbing.
The game began with justice, the purview of any good aristocrat. Last night Maikel Franco was beaned in the back, clearly intentionally, because he's been killing the Yankees. The Phillies did not retaliate during the game, most likely because it was close until the 9th. So, after retiring the first two batters, Hamels drilled Alex Rodriguez in the upper left thigh with his first pitch to him. Brian O'Nora immediately warned both benches. And that was the end of it. [Commentary: I myself would like to see all intentional beaning eliminated because even the well placed ones can injure the batter. But I understand that there are systematic reasons why beaning will never be eliminated. The question of intentionality is too difficult to adjudicate to nip the beaning-retaliation cycle in the bud.]
After Hamels hit A-Rod he surrendered another hit before ending the inning on a strikeout of Beltran. This was the high-point of today's game. From the second inning on the Phillies disdained both hitting and defending and preferred a sado-masochistic cosplay in which they donned the uniforms of the Yankees opponents but did just as much to help them across the plate.
For his part, Cole was not sharp but not bad. He struggled to locate his fastball and his changeup, missing down quite a lot. But his curveball showed accuracy and snap, which was enough to get some whiffs and inhibit hard contact. The most likely culprit for Cole's struggles:
Looks like Cole Hamels is having the old sweaty hand problem. He's had it before.— Jim Salisbury (@JSalisburyCSN) June 24, 2015
Is talcum powder a foreign substance?
So, Cole was not dominant. But he hardly deserved his line. 5 IP, 5 R, 5 ER, 8 H, 3 BB, 3K. In the 2nd and 4th innings, the Phillies' incompetent defense led to 5 runs, which easily could have been 2 had they made competent plays, or even 0 had the Phillies made good plays. In the second with runners on 1st and 2nd, Carlos Ruiz failed to recognize that Chris Young had frozen between 2nd and 3rd on a bunt, choosing to throw to first too late to get Didi Gregorious (and bouncing the throw to boot). Then, Andres Blanco, who has pretended to be a great utility man for about 3 months, speared a soft grounder with his barehand and then bounced the throw home. Chooch could not handle it. He flailed and allowed the ball to skip to the backstop, which brought home a second run. Thanks to the events that followed both of these runs counted as earned. This is among the reasons why the earned run is not the best way to assign credit to pitchers for runs allowed.
In the fourth, the entire infield, aside from Franco (at firstbase again), conspired to cause runs to score. Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez could not manage between them to catch a sunball pop-up. Then Blanco ole'd a ground ball down the line. And after Domonic Brown let a short fly ball drop in rightfield and then kicked it for good measure, three more runs had scored, all earned. At this point, I felt like Orgon hiding beneath the dining table while his wife induces Tartuffe to make a pass at her. I hated myself for letting the last few days make me hope that today I would get to watch a fun, exciting, optimistifying game.
The degradation continued unabated. Despite scoring two runs in the 9th, the Phillies still made this prescient tweet true:
And if score holds, it will also be the 7th time in Hamels' 15 starts the Phillies have scored 2 runs or fewer. https://t.co/vBUOYoFCqd— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) June 24, 2015
Franco did not get on base. And Sandberg did not miss an opportunity to abuse Justin De Fratus. Perhaps Andy MacPhail's first order of business will be severing Ryne Sandberg's head Highlander-style.
Then there was this:
Phillippe Aumont has elected free agency.— Ryan Lawrence (@ryanlawrence21) June 24, 2015
Good for him. Even if his problems are between his ears, clearly this organization has not been able to help him unscramble. I hope he finds success wherever he lands.
Oh, I almost forgot. Joe Girardi played a mini-farce for us all. Franco checked his swing in the 3rd. Girardi thought it was a swinging strike three, yelled it from the dugout a couple times, and got ejected for being intemperate. On the next pitch, Franco struck out on a check swing.