As the Phillies gradually began to divest themselves of a 10-0 lead Saturday night with all the grace and style of a hedgehog trying to pass a cinder block, I found myself glad that investment in any one baseball game is so dependent on context and what's at stake.
The Phils aren't playing for anything today: the only driving questions are by how much they'll better their 2015 record, and where they'll pick in the 2017 draft. The Mets, on the other hand, are seeing their playoff chances swing wildly every day, in a three team "race" for two spots that's less Olympic track than potato sack. So if New York had been able to complete the greatest comeback in their history, and give the Phillies their worst collapse loss in theirs, it would have been religious ecstasy for Mets fans but merely a very ugly one out of 90-odd losses for us.
The Phillies built that 10-0 lead with five runs in the first inning on a three-run Maikel Franco homer and a two-run hit from pitcher Alec Asher, followed by another in the second and four in the fourth, capped by a three-run bomb from Darin Ruf. Asher held the Mets scoreless through four, and Terry Collins decided to white flag it and rest his vets: out went 1-5 hitters Jose Reyes, Asdrubel Cabrera, Yoenis Cespades, Curtis Grandson and Kelly Johnson.
In their place was a bunch of squinty rookies who'd put up great numbers in the Pacific Coast League, favored by fans who don't think Coors Field distorts batting stats enough. And they started kicking the Phillies' teeth in, helped by some awful defense. Errors by Freddy Galvis and Franco helped lead to the Mets scoring four off Asher in the fifth; the runs were unearned, but Asher's surrender of three straight hits and a deep sac fly after the errors showed he was out of gas. Heretofore impressive Joely Rodriguez let the Mets get closer in the 6th, as some unspeakable thing called Gavin Cecchini ripped a run-scoring double and a flitting figment named T.J. Rivera followed with an infield hit for an RBI to make it 10-6.
Meanwhile the Phillies were blowing chances to extend the lead. They had first and third, no outs in the top of the seventh after A.J. Ellis stole second and went to third on a bad throw (this really happened). But Roman Quinn struck out for the fourth time on the night--he'd earn a platinum sombrero with #5 in the ninth--and Herrera flied out to left, with Ellis Sonny-in-The-Godfather dead on the throw to the plate.
David Hernandez worked through the seventh, but Hector Neris faltered a bit in his 216th* appearance this season. With one out, he walked Lucas Duda and Travis d'Arnaud on a combined 18 pitches, then surrendered another double to the Cecchini thing that made it 10-7 and brought the tying run to the plate. But he stranded the two in scoring position. With Jeanmar Gomez demoted from the closer role and Edubray Ramos maybe still sore from surrendering the game-loser Thursday night, Pete Mackanin waved in Michael Mariot to close it... and with one out, he surrendered a monster homer to disgraced trade pickup Jay Bruce that made it 10-8.
Then he walked the next two guys, on a combined 18 pitches.
And then, of course, he got potential winning run Lucas Duda to pop up to short, and potential winning run d'Arnaud to ground softly back to the mound. What, you thought the Phillies were going to blow a 10-0 lead?
Had 'em all the way, Harry. And now I'm going to get a glass of warm milk and check and probably change the sheets.
*or something like that