There were some ugly things during last night’s “sad trombone” of a series finale. It got to the point that I couldn’t tell when I was watching the Phillies game or the “Law and Order: SVU” marathon on USA (OMFG you guys “White Collar” premieres soon!). The only difference was, Detective Benson was being framed for murder, but she got out of it in the permitted 42 minute time frame in which most hideous sex crimes seem to be solved.
The Phillies, on the other hand, found themselves in trouble, and instead of embarking on a vigilante quest to clear their names, they just continued to fall deeper… and deeper… into the dark black abyss of our first half.
Jamie Moyer got hammered, and I don’t mean in his kitchen after the game with that bottle of scotch he’d been saving for a special occasion. I mean in the 6th inning, when the Braves announced open season on the starter and rung him up for six big ones, never to look back. So we’re not going to talk about that. We’re going to take a look at three important at bats–the last three–for the Phillies once they had fallen behind, then managed to close the gap a bit to 7-5.
It was hot. It was late. And magic wasn’t in the air.
Now batting: Jimmy Rollins
Boy, if there was one part of the lineup–and at this point, there only is one–that we would want up in the bottom of the ninth, down by two runs, it’d be this part. So let’s just go ahead and allow those twangs of hope snapping in our chests raise all those expectations that now, after the fact, have the message boards on more popular Phillies blogs aflame with “I’ve never liked _______!!!!!!!11111”
J-Roll strolled to the plate oozing confidence. Why shouldn’t he? He can hit, he’s no longer hurt, he’s fast; he’s pretty much the ideal candidate to start this inning. If the objective is to get the leadoff guy on (Does it sound foreign when I actually talk about baseball on here?), and yeah, it… it is… then there’s no one better.
“Eight times, the Phillies have won in the 9th this year,” Tom McCarthy told us, attempting to impress us with a number by inflating it into a big, colorful balloon.
The doubt-goblins were beginning to scramble around in my brain. It was probably the heat. It was 110 degrees in my apartment, so I assumed whatever would happen next us would at least be half sponsored by temperature-related hallucinations. Jimmy made solid contact, and his initial swing had me perform sharp inhale of the hot-ass oxygen surrounding me.
The ball was soaring toward the wall in left center, close to where Ryan Howard’s triple wasn’t a home run the day before, only this time…
Caught. The three midgets on each other’s shoulders disguised as Billy Wagner giggled.
Now batting: Shane Victorino
Now up, Shane Victorino, a guy who used to synonymous with lacing a double down the foul line. These days, Shane has become more of a “.251” guy, both with his batting average and the gusto with which he will seek out a restraining order.
We had something special Shane.
The hopefulness of a Hawaiian clutch hit is not as believable as it was in 2008 or even 2009. While the Phillies’ collective slump may be… sort of… over… in the sense that we’re still losing, but at least scoring runs… Shane, just like in the novel about his life, never “came back!”
Never was this more evident than watching “Their old teammate” (Thanks for the reminder, T-Mac!) Billy Wagner stifle Shane, capping off the at bat with two ridiculous check swings, one of which was far too ridiculous to keep from being an actual swing. Strike three.
Oh, and great hustle getting down to first on the dropped ball. That would have really made up for the rest of that catastrophe, even if he had managed to get down there. Also, that attempt at a sac bunt earlier was a joke, but one of those jokes with no punchline that just makes everybody feel bad for you. Like the ones on this blog, for example.
Little did we know, things were about to go from bad to Raul.
Now batting: Raul Ibanez
A hopeful gasp, a nice catch, and two strike outs were the recipe for the Phillies 9th inning magic tonight, and unless “Magic” has begun working in some bizarre, detrimental new way, it just wasn’t there. ESPN claimed that the Braves “…seem to have that swagger the Philadelphia Phillies carried around the last few years,” which stings, when you consider they are the network cool enough to sit on Lebron James’ face tonight for an hour.