Half the infield was bench players, Chase’s defense was taking the night off, and Jamie Moyer was on the mound. The series finale in Atlanta had a recipe for what many of the faint hearted would have assumed was a heartbreaking retreat out of Georgia. Happ’s on the DL, Dobbs, now playing third, hasn’t had a bat all year, and if we couldn’t support Kyle Kendrick’s fantastic Braves opener, how could we get the ball rolling with this formula?
Phillies 8, Braves 3
Last night at Turner Field was really and truly about one, single pitch. And we all know which it was.
On a 3-2 count, Jamie Moyer could probably guess how many faces across the Delaware Valley were bent in a rigid cringe or hiding behind the nearest throw pillow. But this time, standing in the batter’s box was none other than Jason Heyward, the mountainous ball-smashing rookie looking to send the old man’s cutter into the Napa Auto Parts sign.
The sweat dripping off Moyer’s knuckles had more major league experience than the guy with the bat. And while Moyer had a problem–never having faced Heyward–the rookie phenom was having a similar issue 60 and a half feet away; an issue that, after the game, Moyer revealed he was well aware of.
“He hasn’t seen me, either,” Moyer told reporters with the smirk of a man who just yelled at Jason Heyward to get off his lawn.
Three straight balls from Jamie Moyer is when Phillies fans are going to taste a walk in the back of their mouths. You can see another courtesy strike coming, but for the most part, we are all tightly slamming out eyes shut, knowing that the chances of this guy getting on base are about as good as Chase Utley being a part of two different errors in one game (Hey!).
Jamie’s got two types of pitches: offspeed and offspeedier. Watching a tiny white sphere arc toward home plate and land somewhere outside the strike zone isn’t uncommon when he falls behind 3-0.
But this is was critical. Runners on base, the Braves fiery young’n staring at back him. This was the game changer. This was the can opener. This was the swing of the bat that would have Phils fans turning off Baseball Tonight prematurely.
And yet… there were quickly two strikes thrown, putting the count full. Unlike us, Jamie wasn’t surrendering. Not yet. If you’ve got any sort of knowledge on Jamie Moyer’s history, it isn’t really that surprising.
In the stands, Jimmy Carter shifted uncomfortably. The crowd of nervous Atlantans all bit anxiously into their respective peaches, as is the custom there. Heyward prepared another heroic lumber-swing to ink him a headline on the front page of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
“It’s Moyer time,” Jamie probably didn’t think but would have been totally kick ass if he had.
An 83 mph cutter found its way home, nipping the inside corner, and a see of elbows flew vertical in the stands as hands met foreheads in frustration. Inning over.
Sit down, rook.
Jamie Moyer is an old man. There’s going to be jokes. A lot of them are going to come from me. But he’s not defined by his age or his hair (Shaggy!) or the oatmeal mush he mashes with his wooden teeth every morning (see?). He’s a major league pitcher who is more than a sideshow attraction; more than a mere novelty. He’s not Julio Franco, standing in the batter’s box while an entire stadium stands on edge, wondering is he’s going to start pissing himself without noticing.
He’s a starter, and a skilled one. And he’s made one thing painfully clear, especially to baseball’s next generation of Jason Heywards.