Thursday, November 28, 2013

Baseball Phanatics

So, clearly I'm not being very diligent about reporting on my baseball trip from *ahem* two months ago. Where were we? Oh, yes. The last post was about the Nationals, so this one will be about the Phillies. This was another good game, but the home team went back to their losing ways unfortunately. The game was still great fun and had some interesting plays.

For this game my dad and I were right in the front row of the third deck in right field. In theory, this seemed like a great idea. No one in front of us to block our view! In practice, it was a bit disconcerting. No one in front of us to block us from falling to our death!
Still, the view was excellent. Citizen's Bank Park is a fine park for baseball, but it's not really striking. There's nothing terribly wonderful or memorable about it, but it's not got any real negative features either that I was able to notice when I was there. It's big, but it doesn't feel too impersonal. Similarly to the Nationals, the Phillies cling to a bit of history from another franchise, the Athletics.
The game doesn't seem too exceptional from the box score, but there were a couple things that were interesting that aren't really captured there. In the top of the fifth, the Marlins get Hechavarria on with a single and when the pitcher tries to bunt him over to 2nd with one out, the catcher makes a throwing error that allows him to reach safely. A wild pitch moves up both the runners and then the lead runner scores on a grounder to 2nd.

(As a digression, this shows that even ERA can be a poor indicator of pitching performance. The Marlins' run in the fifth was "unearned", but it wouldn't have happened had the pitcher not thrown a wild pitch that allowed the runners to move up. On the one hand, it was an error that pushed the runner to 2nd, but the WP moved him to 3rd. Should the pitcher be on the hook for the run or no?)

In the bottom of the fifth the Phillies managed to load the bases with a single between two walks. Then the catcher allowed a passed ball which got the first runner in, Bernadina. Two more runs score on a single and the Phillies end the inning up 3-0.

The sixth inning is where things got really interesting. In the top half the Marlins get a 2-run homer to tie the game at 3-3. When the Phillies come up again, the first batter strikes out. The second batter hits a line drive toward the gap in left-center and the Marlins' shortstop, Hechavarria makes an incredible, leaping catch that about flips him over backwards. I've never seen a more athletic play in person at a game. It was astounding; even the hometown fans in Philly were applauding. Too difficult to appreciate a text description? Well, you can see the video. I'll wait...

Told you it was amazing. So now there are two outs and Bernadina is back up after scoring in the previous inning. He hits a routine single to right. The next batter pops the ball up just behind the line from 2nd to 3rd. Bernadina figures this is an easy third out and, after running with the crack of the bat slows up and loafs his way around third. Incredibly, after making the amazing catch, the shortstop doesn't call for the ball and it drops right between him and the third baseman! When Bernadina sees this, it's too late, he's halfway home and not running and he gets caught in the rundown and eventually tagged out as he tries to get back to 3rd. Seems kinda crazy for a slow guy like Bernadina, but he would have scored for sure if he had run the whole play out as if he knew the ball would drop in.

The rest of the game had plenty of drama at the end, finishing in 10 innings. Rollins did his darndest to win in the bottom of the 9th, drawing a two-out walk, taking 2nd on a wild pitch and stealing 3rd, but he was stranded when Utley grounded out. The Marlins had a homer to lead off the 10th and it stood up for a 4-3 win despite the Phillies having men on 2nd and 3rd with no outs and the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the 10th.

All in all, a good game, and I'd be happy to go again if I ever have the chance.