May 18, 2010. Citizens Bank Park. The pitcher’s mound. 9:07 pm.
Charlie Manuel trotted out from the dugout. With the National League’s worst team up by one run in the top of the ninth with two outs, most managers would have taken their ace–hell, the entire league’s ace–out of the game by now. But not Charlie. Not with Roy Halladay out there. Because Charlie, by choosing to leave his spot at the bottom of the steps, had forgotten one thing:
Roy Halladay never stops playing baseball.
Not when he’s sleeping, not when he’s brushing his teeth, not when he’s ignoring Kyle Kendrick’s text messages. He is always on that mound, gripping that ball, chucking that cutter. Constantly. Relentlessly. Forever.
Charlie reached the mound and chewed his month-old gum a little harder. ”Y’all right out here, Roy?”
Roy kicked the dirt in the mound and respectfully looked his manager in the eye, but his face muscles refused to form anything close to an expression. Charlie wondered if Roy had just learned his wife and son had been kidnapped by cyber-terrorists or something.
“Yes,” Roy breathed.
Charlie looked down at the ball and didn’t even think about taking it from him. As a child, he’d once accidentally tried to take away his hungry dog’s food dish while there were still a few morsels of horse meat in it. Somehow, he knew holding his hand out now would evoke a similar reaction, with possibly even more snarling.
In less than a minute, it was over, and Roy silently found a seat on the bench, wrapping himself in a wind breaker. All he could do was watch as the lineup, which only 24 hours earlier had scored enough runs to win three games, couldn’t scrape together enough offense to reward all 132 of his pitches.
Across the street, thousands of drunken, orange-clad Flyers fans celebrated their team’s second shut-out playoff game in a row. Somehow, a 7th seed team had come back from several significant deficits to already be up 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Championship.
And the Phillies couldn’t even score a single run to tie it against a team that had only one fan willing to sneak down to the 100 level.
Well, it’s not like anybody expected Doc to do anything wrong tonight, but we sort of expected the offense to do more than one thing right. This teams averages 5.6 runs a game, so when they turn it off, it stings a little.
It stings a little more when they combine for three errors in the field, as well, with Placido Polanco, Juan Castro, and Chooch all doing their part to make things just a little more interesting out there. Even with three shittings-of-the-bed’s, I’ll still say it was better than having Hanley Ramirez do his thing.
But a frustrating, bottle-smashing, one-run loss is a frustrating, bottle-smashing, one-run loss, any way you… smash it.
The offense is who I’m blaming for this one. I don’t care if you take Chase and Rauuuuuul out, there’s still plenty of bats in there. I could understand if they had to scramble to cover a 10-run deficit or something, but we needed one run, and we had four innings to get it. With Doc on the mound, that’s like plugging the leak, but nobody draining the basement. If we don’t find the cat, he’s going to drown, people.
Of course, I’ll toss credit to Zach Duke who, even with his +5.00 ERA and his losing record, fended off a terrifying lineup, striking out five and walking one (Roy by comparison went 6 K’s, 1 BB). He was also backed by a bullpen who didn’t allow a hit, let alone a run.
As we split the two-gamer with the Buccos, let’s take a look at who is being wasted in the National League, but keep an eye out for my way too long answer that is full of stupid jokes, and Rum Bunter’s way shorter and way funnier answer that actually makes a good point.