Last night, there was a ball game.
The headline on Phillies dot come refers to the events of last night as “drastic measures.” Gabe Kapler called it a “horseshit situation.” Friday night has become Saturday morning and I still don’t really know or like what the hell I saw.
Look, we all saw it. Oh wait, it was like 1 a.m., so a lot of us maybe didn’t. It’s pretty easy to have better things to do on a Friday night than watch an outfielder pitch two extra innings.
But by now, we’ve all heard that things got weird in the Phillies game, and not in a fun way, in which we were all a little uncomfortable, but in the end, it wound up being a night we’ll always remember. It was more like “uh oh, Gabe Kapler just pinch ran for Zach Eflin with Vince Velasquez, so you know he pulled that binder labeled ‘weird stuff’ out from under his desk.”
With a starting pitcher in left field, the 3-3 game in the 14th inning became reminiscent of Roy Oswalt playing left field in 2010, but the thing about that situation was that Ryan Howard had been ejected by a small goat-man disguised as an umpire and erupted into a fit of extremely valid and cool anger, causing Raul Ibanez to have to play first and Oswalt to have to play in left. In this situation, Kapler pinch ran for his pitcher with another pitcher, then put the second pitcher, Vince Velasquez, in the outfield while a third pitcher, Ranger Suarez, just couldn’t warmup correctly enough (???) to enter the game.
That meant Roman Quinn, an outfielder, threw two innings on the mound. To open the 14th, he allowed a lead-off walk to Jose Abreu to the groans of everyone watching, got a line out and a throwing error to happen to Eloy Jimenez, and then a James McCann single that resulted in Velasquez going full awesome, fielding the ball smooth as butter, and nailing Abreu at the plate from left. The Phillies had two outs and had already sold most of their souls, but somehow, Quinn got the third out too, and we all exhaled, knowing we’d never have to experience this exact situation again.
But oh right, the offense. It didn’t “offense” much at all last night. Sure, the Phillies had 12 hits, but they left 15 men on base—their second highest single-game total on the season after 19 LOB vs. the Rockies on April 19. And hey, Bryce Harper went 0-for-6 at the plate. In fact, Harper, Rhys Hoskins, J.T. Realmuto, and Scott Kingery went a combined 2-for-24. It sucked!
The offense has to find a way to come through in an extra inning game at home. There doesn’t need to be a whole conversation about what exactly is wrong, or even who exactly is to blame, as the answers to problems like “the whole team sucked” * are broad enough at this point that we can just shout solutions like “score the runs,” and “win the game, just do it.” The Phillies have to find a way to hit a ball past the infield and get the single run they needed to win a game against a fourth-place AL Central team. That way should, in my opinion, be with solid contact of the bat on the ball.
Gabe Kapler swapping in one pitcher for another on the base paths isn’t quite the tinkering the Phillies needed to get motivated to win this game. And so, after being gifted life by the baseball gods in the top of 14th inning, their 4-5-6 hitters went down 1-2-3, and Quinn came back out to pitch a second time. If there’s anything we’ve learned about the 2019 Phillies, it’s that they are the kind of team that will absolutely get extremely lucky twice in a row.
Except that oh no, they didn’t. Roman Quinn, who is an outfielder remember, couldn’t pitch around a two-out single and walk. Eventually the White Sox caught onto his “throw 75 mph fastballs” plan and Abreu knocked in Tim Anderson to give the White Sox an inevitable 4-3 lead. Velasquez tried his best to nail Anderson at the plate—and almost did—but in the end had to settle for ending the top of the 15th with the catch of the night.
Vince Velasquez, left fielder, with the diving stab pic.twitter.com/3STI85WMe7— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) August 3, 2019
The Phillies once more went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 15th, and so we’re talking about a bizarre 4-3 loss in 15 innings that ended with Quinn striking out looking and shouting at home plate umpire Rob Drake for his inconsistent strike zone all night.
After the game, Kapler, as you would expect, had a series of unsatisfying explanations to offer you.
.@gabekapler- Zach had little soreness in his tricep and didn’t think it was good to risk it.— Michael Barkann (@MBarkannNBCS) August 3, 2019
.@zeflin12 Asked me if I could pitch I said I was a little sore and he took it upon himself to take me out of the game... In no way shape or form is it an injury or anything like that.— Michael Barkann (@MBarkannNBCS) August 3, 2019
.@gabekapler- Ranger was having hard time getting loose. Wasn’t able to get it going.— Michael Barkann (@MBarkannNBCS) August 3, 2019
This is where I’ve landed on things. Maybe you don’t blame Kapler. Maybe you blame the offense. You can blame everyone, if you want to! We don’t have to fight each other.
I’m sure we’ve all got a lot of negative feelings right now. But let’s just swap those negative feelings out for other feelings, and put the negative feelings in left field.
*the whole team except Velasquez and Quinn, who ruled