Wow. This game started out as a pitchers duel and ended up with the Philadelphia Phillies enjoying an eight run lead. The Cardinal bullpen allowed nine runs in the top of the eighth inning. They accomplished this without using launching pad reliever Ryan Franklin.
I was fully prepared to throw another hissy fit about how bad the offense looks; perching myself on the precipice of dejection. They let another middling major league pitcher get the best of them, this time in the person of converted reliever Kyle McClellan. McClellan, fresh off of the disabled list, started the season off reasonably well, but has regressed back to his actual skill level. He is another in a long of line of Dave Duncan reclamation projects, armed with a sinker and not much else. The Phillies managed five hits and one run in McClellan’s seven innings of work. I usually like people with beards (pirates, Santa Claus, Steven Bedrosian), but all it really takes for animosity to develop is one strong performance against the Phillies. Mission accomplished McClellan.
Roy Halladay pitched for the Phillies. Let there be no doubt that they were in this ballgame as Halladay did want Halladay normally does; he pitched well. Tied for the major league lead in wins, Halladay certainly pitched himself into position to win the game. He allowed one run in the fifth inning with a series of softly hit singles from the bottom of the Cardinal line-up punctuated by a misplayed double play ball from the lead off hitter. There is a fairly strong indication that someone is pitching well when a softly hit ground-ball single elicits cheers of delight from the crowd. After the St. Louis bullpen exploded, Halladay was denied his tenth win earning a no decision.
Halladay was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the seventh with two men on and two outs. Ross Gload delivered a pinch hit single and Carlos Ruiz (who had a 4-4 day with a walk) was picked attempting to go first to third. Raul Ibanez scored seconds before Ruiz was tagged out. Michael Stutes relieved Halladay and promptly gave the lead but by walking the leadoff batter, allowing a single and a sac fly. You know that a game is exciting when the team in the lead has scored using an RBI ground out and a SAC fly. At this point, the score was 2-1 Cardinals.
Tony LaRussa is smarter than you. He bats the pitcher eighth. He wears cool aviator glasses. Just ask him how smart he is. Go ahead. This guy is one of the most insufferable baseball managers of all time. From his holier than thou attitude to his use of the bullpen, pretty much everything about LaRussa makes me want to retch. His use of the bullpen was on full display in the Phillies nine run eighth inning. As stated previously McClellan had performed admirably as the the Cardinals were clinging to a one run lead. Lets go over some of LaRussa’s baseball genius. He went to right handed Jason Motte to face Ryan Howard. Ryan Howard is left handed everyone. Motte proceeded to hit two consecutive batters, forcing in the tying run. He let left handed pitcher Brian Tallet face Ben Fransisco, who shocked everyone by delivering a bases loaded single giving the Phillies the lead. In all, La Russa used five pitchers in the inning and they allowed five hits, hit two batters, walked four and allowed nine runs.
This one was certainly improbable. Stutes got the win and all of the bench players were in the game by the end. 10-2 drubbing born from an apparent pitchers duel. Thank you Tony LaRussa.
Tomorrow the Phillies send Cliff Lee to the hill to take on former Phillie Kyle Lohse. Lee has been great lately and Lohse had regressed. Hopefully that trend continues.