Friday, September 29, 2006

Phillies @ Nationals

I wanted to get this up as soon as I could because I figured plenty of people either missed last night’s game entirely or started out with it but were unable to make it all the way through. My apologies for the poor formatting, grammar, and spelling. So, inn case you missed it, here is a fairly detailed run-down of the Phils-Nats game last night:

WARNING: If constant changes in tense stress you out, don’t go any further than this. I go back and forth in tense all the time here, not simply because I’m an idiot who doesn’t know how to write (though I kind of am), but because this game didn’t start until after 11:30 PM…

FIRST: Jimmy Rollins hits a bullet to centerfield on a 2-0 pitch to start the game…unfortunately he hits it right at somebody for out number one. Shane Victorino with a 10 pitch at bat as the second hitter of the game…that’s a beautiful thing right there. His at bat ends with a fly ball to center. Chase Utley beats out an infield single to give Ryan Howard an at bat with a man out…Utley then manages to steal second on a 2-2 pitch that was way up and in to Howard. Ryan Howard with a tough 7-pitch at bat of his own, eventually drawing a walk to put two men on with two men out. The pressure has got to be on Jeff Conine to come through with men on base after last night’s 0-7…unfortunately Conine fails to get the job done as he grounds into a fielder’s choice to end the inning.

On the bright side, the Phillies did manage to squeeze 26 pitches out of Nationals starter Mike O’Connor…getting to their bullpen early is nothing but a good thing.

Zimmerman deserves to be the Rookie of the Year because of his RBI totals – Bob Carpenter

Zimmerman won the award before September even began – Mike Paciorek

SECOND: Pat Burrell hits a 3-2 fastball on the inner half of the plate 400 plus feet to dead center…Nook Logan makes a great play to time his leap and rob Burrell of a possible homerun. The Nats announcers get really worked up over the 2-2 pitch that was called a ball…it was inside, but these announcers are so limited mentally and are such extreme homers, that there really is no point in arguing with them. Chris Coste follows with a 1-1 flyball out to Logan…2 quick outs. Abe Nunez ends the inning with a shallow pop to rightfield on another 1-1 pitch. 12 pitch inning for O’Connor.

Statistics can really be fun…and a basic knowledge of stats and how they work can really help you avoid situations where you sound like an idiot. The Nats announcers believe that Brian Schneider has been “red hot” of late…they go on to say he was hitting just .231 at the all-star break, and .290 since…his batting average heading into tonight was at .257…his career average was at .256 coming into this year…does anybody else see how this player hitting .230 in one half and .290 in one half really isn’t doing anything all that strange? They do call it a batting average for a reason…

Two out trouble for Jon Lieber in both the first and second inning. In the first inning, it was a two out double for Felipe Lopez that didn’t prove costly. In the second inning, it was a two out homer by Ryan Church. Still a good start for Lieber through two innings…

THIRD: Two quick outs for the Phils in the third (Lieber struck out, Rollins popped out), but Shane Victorino keeps it from being a 1-2-3 inning with a beautiful push bunt down the first base line. “Now I know what you are thinking: Why are you bunting with two outs and nobody on base? You’re supposed to hit a double, aren’t you?” – Mike Paciorek…I have no idea what that means. Victorino ends the inning by getting thrown out by a mile trying to steal second base. At least Utley will get a chance to lead off the fourth…(quick game so far by the way – this is the perfect night for a speedy Jon Lieber start…and I must admit that Mike O’Connor looks to be a pretty quick worker as well).

“Utley loves the ball out over the plate” – yes, Mike Paciorek actually says this exact line during pretty much every Utley at bat. It’s kind of like Chris Wheeler describing ever homerun ever hit as occurring on a pitch located “middle-in.”

“Mike O’Connor will sneak a hit on you every now and then” – Bob Carpenter…well, Bob, I hate to be the one to tell you this but Mike O’Connor is hitting .056 on the year. So while what you said is technically true, it is still intellectually dishonest and just plain nonsense. Lieber breezed right through the third inning: strike out of O’Connor on 5 pitches, ground out of Bernie Castro on 1 pitch, and fly out of Logan on 2 pitches. Lieber has only 35 pitches through 3 innings…

FOURTH: Utley works the count full, but gets himself out on an inside fastball that jammed him badly…3-U for the out. Ryan Howard struck out on a low curveball (pretty pitch) after an 8-pitch at bat. Jeff Conine…he kind of stinks right now. Conine grounds out on a great play by Ryan Zimmerman (the sure-fire ROY!!!) to end the inning.

Lieber really is pitching a gem through four innings: 4 IP 2 H 1 ER 0 BB 2 K (3/7 GO/AO)

FIFTH: Pat Burrell leads off the fifth with a ball that looked gone off the bat. He just missed hitter a homer to left…this after just missing a homer to center in his first at bat. This ball was just off the end of his bat and it died in the glove of George Lombard at the warning track. The announcers note that both balls would have been homers at Citizens Bank Park. I agree. Coste follows with a strikeout, but Nunez follows with a walk to turn the lineup over. The Nats announcers freak out about the call on ball four…based on what I know about these two dopes, they will talk about this call for at least 3 to 4 more innings. Turns out Nunez did more than simply turn the lineup over as Lieber hits a 1-1 pitch into left field. Mike O’Connor looks just about done to me – he is consistently bouncing balls up to the plate when he misses. We’ll see. How about that - pretty ugly error by Ryan Zimmerman results in a tied ball game…Rollins hit the ball hard, but it was a ball that absolutely should have been fielded by Zimmerman. Victorino pops up to Vidro at first to end the inning…Lieber needs to keep it up now that the game is tied.

GIGANTIC play by Pat Burrell and Chris Coste in the fifth inning…Burrell nailed Ryan Church at home with a perfect throw from left field…the ball was hit hard, but there was no way Church should have been out on a play where he is running on contact from second base…phenomenal throw by Burrell and nice catch and tag by Coste…HUGE play…only Vlad Guerrero and Carlos Beltran have more outfield assists than Pat Burrell over the past six years…

SIXTH: Chase Utley strikes out on the seventh pitch of the at bat…it was on a low curveball from Billy Traber not unlike the one Mike O’Connor threw to Howard to strike him out earlier. Howard strikes out on a low and away fastball on a 2-2 pitch…all of these called third strikes (there have been five now) have been on very close pitches. But they have been great pitchers pitches, so I really have no problem seeing them called strikes. Conine finishes the inning off by grounding out to third.

“Aaron Rowand is hurt, which could be the most telling of all.” – Bob Carpenter clearly doesn’t know how to use words to make coherent sentences…I’m pretty sure that’s not any kind of accepted usage of the word “telling”…(quote was not taken out of context by the way, he said it totally randomly).

Bases loaded with nobody out in the sixth…Jose Vidro starts it out with a liner out to second base, one down. Pitching change for the Phillies as Aaron Fultz comes into the game…I think it’s such a critical spot in the game that I’d go with Matt Smith, but I have a pretty good feeling about Fultz as well (call it a hunch). “This at bat here could decide whether the Phillies go to the playoffs” – big statement by Bob Carpenter, but I can’t say I disagree. Sadly, Brian Schneider smacks a 1-2 pitch into right field for a 2-run single. 3-1 game…Fultz manages to get out of the inning with no further damage (foul pop for an out on a very good catch by Ryan Howard and a strikeout)…hard to blame Fultz too much for the inning although he really needed to bury Schneider once he got ahead of him in the count…all kinds of pressure now on the shoulders of the Phillies hitters.

SEVENTH: Another very good at bat for Pat Burrell to lead off an inning…he hits a seeing eye single up the middle for a base hit on the seventh pitch of the at bat. 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Chris Coste. Nunez grounds out 3-1 to end the inning.

EIGHTH: “Randall Simon is due up first, he’s swinging a really hot bat.” “And Randall Simon does it again.” “He can hit, the ball really just jumps off his bat.” “He gives you a good at bat every time he gets up there.” I’m just happy Simon led off the eighth with a key pinch hit single to left. Rollins then hits the ball very hard, but right at the second baseman. Double play as Joe Thurston is caught too far off the bag at first. Back to back innings with a double play for the Phillies…this may have been the crushing blow. Victorino ends the inning with a groundball. Utley, Howard, and Conine are the men now responsible for saving the Phillies season in the ninth.

NINTH: Utley goes down on the first pitch…fly ball to right field. Howard hits a screamer to right field on a 3-2 fastball, but Ryan Church runs it down at the warning track. Apparently, the “overspin on the ball did him in.” I’m not sure what “overspin” is, but I’ll take Paciorek’s word for it (it’s late). Ground ball to third, Conine is retired.

I could use this space to rant about how stupid it is the Nationals bat Ryan Church seventh or eighth while they hit Bernie Castro and Nook Logan one and two, but it’s late and I’m tired. This is unfortunate because I also had a pretty good rant saved up with regards to Ryan Zimmerman’s ROY candidacy. He is a great young player, but…come on. Hanley Ramirez has the highest VORP for a rookie position player since some guy named Pujols five years ago. Anyway…

Now that this game is over is it finally fair to ask if the season is over as well? The Phillies are not mathematically dead, but they’ll need some pretty crazy breaks over the next three days if they are going to get into the postseason. All the Phils can do now is sweep the Marlins down in Florida and hope that luck is on their side.


Anonymous Tom G said...

Thanks for writing this up, it filled in the blanks nicely for those of us that called it quites at 12:30.

12:58 PM  
Anonymous Chinpo said...

Is there any way at all that this season can be considered a success?

2:44 AM  

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