You know, I’m starting to think the Phillies might not make the playoffs.
The Phillies “tragic” number dropped to two after last night’s 8-4 loss to the Nationals, which was punctuated by a few depressing moments.
First was Kyle Kendrick’s first lousy start in a while, giving up five runs (four earned) on five hits (three of them homers) in just two innings of work, putting the Phils in an early 5-0 hole.
Second was the bullpen giving up three runs in the top of the ninth inning after the Phils had closed the lead to 5-4.
But the final, and most glaringly disappointing moment was the completion of former Phillie Jayson Werth’s heel turn during that three-run ninth inning.
While waiting in the on-deck circle, a foul ball trickled over to Werth near his dugout. As he retrieved the ball, Werth, for reasons only he can explain, faked tossing the ball into the stands and instead threw the ball into his own dugout.
The crowd went nuts. After the game, Werth explained.
“Earlier in the game I flipped a ball into the seats to a fan and it flipped off her hand and landed on someone else’s lap. Then a guy reached over — a Phillies fan — and grabbed the ball off her lap and threw it back onto the field. In the ninth I was going to flip the ball to a group of kids, and behind them was all these unruly, middle-aged men who to me appeared to be snarling. It’s the ninth, so who knows? I got the sense that maybe they were intoxicated. I was going to flip it to the kids and then thought maybe not because of the group behind the little innocent children there, remembering what happened earlier in right field.”
Awww, you see? Werth’s not a bad guy! He was trying to protect the “innocent little children!”
I’m surprised he wasn’t wearing a Mr. Rogers sweater when he did it.
Listen, whether Werth is telling the truth or is making up a story to seem like less of a schmuck, only he knows for sure. What’s obvious, though, is the reaction the fans had to Werth’s fake-out.
They… were… enraged.
What Jayson did next, though, shows how valuable he is to the Nationals and how much the Phils have missed his bat, his glove, and the intangibles he brought to the ballpark every day.
After getting brushed back by a high-and-inside fastball from Justin De Fratus, Werth singled up the middle to score two runs with two outs, giving the Nats some very important insurance runs and a three-run lead.
Obviously, the Phils were right not to give Werth a $126 million contract. No matter how many incitements to riot Werth causes over the next five years and how many two-run singles he hits, that contract is never going to pay for itself.
Still, in just 74 games this season, Werth is hitting .304/.393/.442 as the Nats’ leadoff hitter. And while his power has disappeared (only five home runs this season), there’s no doubt his patience at the plate and his glove would still hold a lot of value in a lineup sandwiched between Utley and Howard.
But that’s water under the bridge. Werth is a Nat, and despite finishing off a heel turn the likes of which we haven’t seen since Shawn Michaels threw his tag team partner Marty Janetty through a plate glass window (long live The Rockers), his value cannot be understated.
“I’ve played a lot of games here and I’m fairly aware of how the fans can be and the way they do things around here,” Werth said after the game. “I’m not the first guy to get booed nor will I be the last. It’s just part of the game that makes for exciting baseball. These people are passionate. I’ve heard a lot here. Someone said today that when Roy [Halladay] got chased the other day that he got booed off the field. I’m not sure if that’s true or not, but it’s not surprising. That’s just the way it is — it is what it is. It’s really just part of playing in Philadelphia and it’s a part of what makes it great.
“I’ve had a lot of fun here and I had a lot of good times. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”
Lost in the hullabaloo was the boost Werth’s hit gave to a Nats team that has been stumbling of late.
The red-hot Braves won again, and another Nationals loss would have closed the gap in the NL East to just three games. However, by winning, Washington’s lead in the division remains four games, with their magic number was lowered to four.
As for the Phils, the night got off to a bad start quickly. Kendrick’s early propensity for the long ball certainly got the Phils out of the gate slowly, but to their credit, they fought back. Reliever B.J. Rosenberg pitched three innings in relief of Kendrick and held the line. He even contributed the Phils’ first two runs of the ballgame, on a sacrifice fielder’s choice RBI and an RBI single.
Jimmy Rollins hit his team-leading 23rd home run of the season, and Dom Brown added a sacrifice fly in the eighth that was almost a three-run home run.
But De Fratus and Antonio Bastardo couldn’t stop the evil Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper in the ninth, helping to pile another shovelful of dirt on the Phils’ already-dead 2012 season.