I was sitting there watching Cole Hamels pitch today, sort of falling asleep to the sound of somebody breaking glass outside my apartment, when Cole walked the Braves pitcher to start the fifth.
“… and Cole walks Kawakami to start the inning,” Tom McCarthy breathed, confused. He sounded like he had just turned to his left and seen Chris Wheeler wearing a clown costume and a deranged smile. And I felt this fiery twinge in my gut, like when I realize I’ve been eating expired meat.
Clearly, this was the start of something ghastly.
I kept thinking of that scene in Saving Private Ryan when that soldier is slowly stabbed to death by a Nazi, and you just have to sit there and watch it happen as this guy begs for his life, trying desperately to plead with his killer as the blade slowly enters his chest and pierces some important organ. He dies with his eyes wide open in terror.
Meanwhile, Private Upham stands around the corner, festering in his own cowardice and filling his pants with urine. Unable to step in and do something because of his own limitations, Upham just sits there and watches his friend die.
What I’m saying is, Cole can make us all feel a little like Private Upham sometimes.
My experience with Cole’s patented “bad inning” is that it always happens when I look away, like leaving a curious child with the bathroom cleaner. One second, he’s playing contently, aside from the occasional interested glance at the cabinet under the sink. The next, he’s foaming at the mouth and making you wonder where you left the shovel.
I am not a father.
Today was different, because I was now a witness to the crime. I was the guy around the corner, watching it happen, unable to stop it.
So, Kawakami was aboard to lead things off. This was followed by a mess of more balls and base runners; a recipe for eye rolls and manic Tweeting. Melky Cabrera singled in a run. Troy Glaus knocked in two more. Cole was losing it, and this time, there wasn’t a fat idiot not getting electrocuted to blame.
But, just before it all got FUBAR, something interesting happened. Cole got out of it. The barrage stopped.
Now, it was up to the bullpen.
The world just didn’t want the Phillies to lose today. The bullpen took over and didn’t give an inch. Chad Durbin struck out the world, Jose Contreras dammed the tide, and even Brad Lidge made a cameo appearance, stopping in to record his first save. Shane Victorino put a cherry on top to make it 5-3.
The pitching in this home stand has been purely graphic. We’ve had a series of age-defying, world-shattering starts, and today, not even the bullpen would allow a run, and they’re terrible. Okay, not terrible obviously, in fact, in some sort of weird coincidence, they started coming together right around when Ryan Madson had a frank exchange of ideas with a metal folding chair and wound up on the DL.
Ha, ha! Isn’t that weird?!
Now, it’s time to head back out west, where the snow still falls and the native language isn’t “screaming.” And if we keep this up, maybe we won’t even have to watch anybody die.