It’s been a tumultuous week, thanks to trades and money and all the things that make baseball fun. Today, we learned that not only is Cole Hamels in danger of becoming a Dodger, but Jimmy Rollins has caught their eye as well. Tension was a bit high, at least for the fans, as we marched into Chavez Ravine, hoping to leave with our guts still inside of us.
Fortunately, we walked in on the Dodgers are collapsing. Chris Capuano was supposed to start today, but he couldn’t, because Chad Billingsley is hurt and now Nathan Eovaldi had to step in and–you know what, screw it. They’re bad.
Ryan Howard got Tom McCarthy very excited with a fly ball “..to the TRACK, to the WALL…” but sadly ended with an awkward decrescendo into “… caught… on the warning track.” And naturally, it felt like everything that was going to happen that inning had already happened, despite that being the first out. Just the terrifically crushing mentality I’ve come to expect from my own brain.
But then Chooch stepped in, and his almost-homer bounced off the low wall in left, letting him scoot into second, where Hunter Pence was content to leave him by flailing like a lunatic at a pitch estimated to be somewhere in the stratosphere. And once again, the inning felt over, but a nanosecond later, Juan Pierre blooped a really irritating single into right center and the Phillies scored a run.
It was nice.
The next inning, after Joe Blanton almost put a foul ball through Hunter Pence’s brain, J-Roll stepped in and bashed his ninth dinger of the year. Shane Victorino kept the momentum going by singling to center. The momentum appeared to be stopped by Chase Utley’s grounder to first, but the Dodgers failed to cover second for some reason and Shane was safe for about 90 seconds before he got picked off or caught stealing or whatever he was doing that ended badly. Shane went 3-for-4, though, and socked his third triple in three games, so he reached the offensive quota that allows for a brain fart.
The NEXT inning, Ryan Howard stepped in mere seconds after a Nissan commercial ended and sent a Nathan Eovaldi offering pretty far the other way for his inaugural home run of 2012.
It was three innings of vibrant, pulsating offense, back by solid chucking from Big Joe. There would be no more, as the rest of the game hinged on Blanton’s eternal dance with utter implosion.
In the fourth, Blanton allowed a brief singles barrage, putting runners at first and third with one out. Placido Polanco gloved a grounder to third and went home with it, and Chooch chased Mark Ellis back up the base line, slapping him with an empty glove (???), but Ellis ran about six feet out of the base path and was called out. Don Mattingly came out to argue that the runner should totally be allowed to run into the dugout during a live play if he wants to and was turned away.
Joe then iced James Loney on a thank-ya-kindly fastball and everybody sprinted into the dugout before any of the runners scored somehow. In the eighth, Joe’s wild pitch allowed a second run, but he wiggled out of it with a huge strikeout of Kemp and got back to the dugout in time to see the Phillies go down on nine strikes.
Jonathan Papelbon came in to be used as Baseba’al intended, and after K’ing Andre Ethier, he allowed a runner, but managed to end the game with him on third.
When It All Went Right
When Joe Blanton was allowed out to pitch the eighth and did not give up a series of home runs that had Charlie Manuel walking out the mound in shock. The last out was a strikeout of Matt Kemp, who didn’t even bother to run to first base while Chooch tracked it down. How courteous. This all led to a bubbling mess of Tom McCarthyisms, but nonetheless, ended the inning.
Most Attractive Play
Is there a sweeter sight than Ryan Howard’s first home run of the season? Yes, if that home run had come in, like, April. When it was supposed to.
Joe Blanton threw 110 pitches tonight, 80 of which were strikes. He held Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier to 1-for-8.
Tony Gwynn, dangling off third like a hang nail in the ninth, making everybody nervous. Shame on you.