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Mixed Genre Fanfic: Phillies 7, Twins 3

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As soon as Ryan Howard got his second hit of the day, I knew something was awry. And as the Phillies got closer to winning, things got even weirder. Queue high-pitched theremin.

YOU think they are high-fiving. But they're actually creating an antenna to receive covert commands from shape-shifting ancient aliens who love baseball.
YOU think they are high-fiving. But they're actually creating an antenna to receive covert commands from shape-shifting ancient aliens who love baseball.
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

[Typeprint: FBI Offices, Washington, D.C.]

Mulder: Scully, check this out. [points to picture of Ryan Howard finishing a home run swing, projected by overhead, spraying sunflower seeds out the bag in his hand all over the floor] You know who he is?

Scully: Of course I do. That's Ryan Howard. What, you think I don't know my washed-up former sluggers? So, are you going to tell me he's actually an alien?

Mulder: No, nothing like that. But something weird IS happening with him and the Phillies today. It's only the 4th inning and Howard has two hits and the Phillies are winning 3-1. Both Howard and the Phillies are terrible. Howard hasn't had two hits in a game since April and the Phillies haven't won in 10 games. I have no idea how to explain today's success. And look. We have x-files from the 1899 Cleveland Spiders, the 1962 Mets, the 2013 Astros. All of these unexplained wins. Now we have a chance to see the phenomenon in person. Don't you want to go check it out?

Scully: Mulder, even bad teams win sometimes and even bad hitters have good days. But, sure, if you want to go to a baseball game with me, all you have to do ask.

[Typeprint: Target Field, Minneapolis, MN]

Scully: See, we arrived just in time to see Howard ground into a double play after Maikel Franco walked. Inning over. No more hits for Howard. All is right with the world. No conspiracy. No ghosts.

Mulder: You don't think, if it is a conspiracy--and I'm not saying it is--they wouldn't know how to hide their tracks. Of course, Howard goes back to being bad in the same game. And right when we arrive, no less. They can't make it too obvious. If there is a conspiracy, that is. Scully, you can't apply average everyday thinking to extreme phenomena like this.

[They sit quietly as Jerad Eickhoff walks the first batter, Juan Centeno, after getting ahead 0-2 and having strike three called a ball. After retiring the next two batters, Eickhoff throws a pick-off attempt through the runner into foul ground, allowing him to move to second. Then Eduardo Escobar drives Centeno home on an lazy line drive in front of Odubel Herrera. Score is 3-2, Phillies.]

Mulder: See that, Scully.

Scully: See what? Herrera blew that play. For whatever reason he didn't see the ball well and got a late start on it. It happens. And it's not like he isn't prone to mental mistakes. Didn't he get picked off first base after an RBI single, where he didn't even make a move back toward first? You're just jumping at ghosts.

Mulder: It's not just a mental error, Scully. You know that's what the Black Sox said. But they were getting paid to lose. Hell, Shoeless Joe was the best hitter in that series based on his stats, but he still took money and made sure the Sox wouldn't win. [Heaves frustrated sigh and sits back in seat. Meanwhile, fans all around get up to find new seats.]

[They sit and watch the game in silence while Andres Blanco blasts a double off the tall wall in right-centerfield, then makes the second out at third base on not-that-wild pitch. Howard makes another out on the ground. The Twins can't handle Severino Gonzalez's heat. Scully's head begins to nod involuntarily toward her chest. She bounces it back up and speaks exasperatedly.]

Scully: Mulder, why did you take me to this game? These teams are both terrible, and it's boring to watch. Nothing matters here. We could have seen Giants-Pirates, or Mariners-Tigers, or Chisox-Bosox. Why this game?

Mulder: Those aren't x-files, Scully. That's just normal baseball. Nothing interesting is happening there. Just jocks competing against jocks for sultan of jock. But here we are witnessing the extraordinary. [As Mulder finishes scolding Scully, Freddy Galvis whips his bat around an inside fastball from Kevin Jepsen, launching a 3-run homer well over the tall fence in rightfield. Score is now 7-2.] See! If that isn't proof that something weird is happening here, I don't know what is. That's a bomb and he already had an RBI-triple today. Galvis has barely had a hit per week this month. Now he might as well be Roberto Clemente. Think about it. We're at Target Field. The logo is what?

Scully: A target.

Mulder: NOO! It's a UFO, Scully: the exact same UFO that the black oil alien used to escape from the planet and call its friends here. Don't you SEE?! The aliens love baseball and they are using it to infiltrate and colonize us, one bad team winning against the odds at a time.

Scully: I thought you said they hide their tracks. Why would they risk exposing themselves in such an obvious symbol?

Mulder: Is it obvious? You thought it was a target. And you probably think the anomalous is just random fluctuation too.

Scully: It is a target. Have you ever studied statistics and probability, Mulder?

Mulder: Is it a hard science?

Scully: Maybe... never mind. All right, you win. The Phillies can only win if there's an alien conspiracy making them play better than they're otherwise capable. The aliens are doing this to take over the planet, somehow. What do you want to do about it?

Mulder: Oh. Nothing. I just want to expose the truth. The truth is its own reward. Let's just watch rest of the game. [Pause. Silence. Mulder munches on sunflower seeds and spits out the shells.] Say, how come we never... you know... got together?

Scully: Do I have to explain this to you again? You're melodramatic enough by yourself. There's no reason to add to it with romance. [Scully roles eyes. Mulder shrugs.]

OF NOTE:

  • Cody Asche now has the following slash line: .277/.319/.477, with a 112 wRC+. Defying expectations, he's been a good hitter and something like a league average player in leftfield. Of course, he feasted on the Twins this week, and we ought to suspect that he's approaching a peak in results that will descend into a valley soon enough. But he's struck the ball with authority on the regular this season. So, it is worth watching how his season develops from here. With any luck he rounds into a league average LF and becomes a trade asset, if not this season then next season.
  • Jerad Eickhoff pitched another good game, a quality start in fact. But his command remains such that he works many deep counts. 6 innings with 2 runs (one essentially unearned thanks to Herrera), 4 Ks, and 1 BB, is certainly a solid outing. But he barely made it through 6 because his pitch count was so high. It is great to see him give the Phillies good outings as consistently as he has, but it would be even better if he can manage to shorten some of his at-bats and get deeper into games. On that consistency, though: