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Free Baseball Isn't Free: Mets 9, Phillies 5

More dingers in this Phillies-Mets series. The Phillies get swept. Harang continues being not good.

Harang has been taking lessons from Jon Dorenbos
Harang has been taking lessons from Jon Dorenbos
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Watch the Ken Burns documentary and you'll hear about 29 different writers, players, and announcers wax poetic about how the absence of a clock in baseball frees the game from the constraints of time and the imposition of a limit. A baseball game could theoretically go on forever, they'll tell you, as if that were a thing to be celebrated.

But who really wants a game to go on forever? That would kind of suck, wouldn't it? You certainly couldn't watch it all. You'd get whatever the sofa equivalent of bed sores are and would require a partner or a good friend to rotate you every couple inning to avoid the onset of a rash. You wouldn't get much exercise and you'd end up spending a fortune on food delivery fees.

Even more practically, if you got stuck watching an infinite baseball game, you would eventually get fired from your job, which would likely eliminate your income--I'm assuming your investments are modest--and you would be unable to pay your cable or MLB.TV bill. You would then lose access to the game. The same principle would hold if you happened to have tickets to said game. You would no longer be able to buy food and beer and would have to crawl back home to scour the classifieds. So, actually, you could never get stuck watching this endless game.

But, most simply, assuming you could watch a single baseball game for the rest of your life, you probably wouldn't want to unless you are some sick, deranged creature.

By now, you've likely used your handy-dandy inference skills and come to the belief that this most recent Phillies game went to extra innings, and, if you're feeling especially inference, you sense that this game went beyond the casual 10 inning fling with extra innings. These inferences are correct.

As you also likely understand simply due to the fact that these words are publicly available on the internet and not in some draft only visible by the author and his blogging compatriots, the game did eventually end. The players on the Phillies roster are not sick, deranged creatures, you see. They have families and loved ones they like to check in with every once in a while.

The Phillies got out to yet another early lead against the Mets by putting 5 runs in against Jon Niese in the 3rd inning. Aaron Harang led off with a single and, basically, no one after him wanted to get shown up. Both Andres Blanco and Odubel Herrera walked to load the bases. Jeff Francoeur knocked Harang and Blanco in with a single to right. Then, after a groundout from Altherr, Babe Ruf hit a dinger out to center. It was the 84th dinger of the series.

Like the previous times the Phillies have gotten to a lead in this series, they let the Mets come back. Remember when Aaron Harang was second in the NL in WAR and I was writing a piece about him every week? Well, those days are long gone. This Harang gave up 5 runs over the course of innings 4 and 5 to let the Mets tie the game.

It wouldn't be this series if most of those runs didn't come on home runs. In the fourth, Travis d'Arnaud hit a two run homer to knock in the Mets' two runs of that inning. In the fifth, Yoenis Cespedes hit a two-run homer and Kelly Johnson followed later in the inning with a solo home run.

It was only now, with a 5-5 tie after 4-and-a-half innings, that the pitching staffs of the Phillies and Mets decided to prevent runs. During those 4-and-a-half scoreless innings, nothing of note really happened, except for one managerial decision that caught my interest.

Following a Curtis Granderson double with two outs in the eighth inning, Pete Mackanin decided to put in closer Ken Giles to face Cespedes. This was a relatively high-leverage situation; if the Mets got Granderson in to score, they would be very likely to go on to win the game. If they didn't the Phillies would still have something close to 50% odds to win the game.

Yet, it was not a save situation and not the ninth inning, so calling on Giles was a bit unconventional. It was the right call and the results backed that up. Giles ended up pitching 2.1 scoreless innings and only needed 30 pitches to record those 7 outs. It was good Pete Mackanin chose to use Giles there to give the Phillies a better chance to win the game. Put in a worn-down Justin De Fratus and that ~40% chance the Phillies had entering that at-bat might turn have turned to <10% pretty quick.

When a game goes 13 innings like this one did, it is likely due to some combination of offensive impotence and defensive wizardry. The Mets flashed some of the latter in the bottom of the 10th. Jeff Francoeur hit a grounder up the middle that should have been a base hit. Instead this happened:


After the Phillies were unable to score in the bottom of the 12th despite Cesar Hernandez reaching third with two outs on a throwing error from Travis d'Arnaud, they decided to just throw in the towel in the 13th. First, they gave up a single to relief pitcher Carlos Torres. Then, following a Granderson single and an out, Freddy Galvis let two runs score on a Daniel Murphy double when he intentionally threw the ball past Carlos Ruiz on a relay.

But the Phillies wanted to be sure, so when David Wright hit an innocuous dribbler back to Hector Neris, Neris made sure to throw a ball that Darin Ruf couldn't possibly catch at first to allow Murphy to score. He made a mistake to Kelly Johnson and let him ground out, but learned from it by hitting Travis d'Arnaud next. Michael Conforto singled to knock Wright in and, for the Phillies, that 9-5 lead the Mets had established was judged to be sufficient.

After a feeble attempt in the bottom of the 13th that culminated in a Darin Ruf strikeout on a pitch so far out of the zone that Vlad Guerrero wouldn't have been able to hit it, the Phillies returned to the clubhouse, packed their bags, and went home.

Baseball ended; life can carry on as planned.