Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Senselessness of Baseball

Right now, the Phillies have three pitchers that are all literally right there in the Cy Young conversation right now: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels. Halladay has three losses on the season, and I was at one of them. Cole Hamels has four losses on the season, and I was at two of them. And heading into last night, I had yet to see the Phillies win in person, this despite the fact that the Phillies have the most wins (51) and best record in baseball.

So of course of the first win I'd see in Citizens Bank Park in 2011 would come thanks to Vance Worley, a player who wasn't even expected to be on the roster heading into the season.

Baseball really doesn't make sense sometimes. And honestly, not much about last night's game made sense either.

Because my luck has been so fantastic this year, of course the Red Sox-Phils game I get tickets to features a pitching matchup of Vance Worley and John Lackey — a matchup bookended by Cliff Lee vs. Josh Beckett on Tuesday and Cole Hamels vs. John Lester today. So naturally, given Worley's inexperience and the fact that John Lackey entered the game with an ERA north of 7.00, you'd expect a ton of runs.

So naturally, the Phillies won 2-1 in a pitching duel … and the Red Sox got their lone run on a double by John Lackey, a guy who came in with grand total of three career hits. Yet somehow, Lackey hit the hardest ball any Boston player hit all night, absolutely crushing a 3-2 fastball off the Lukoil sign in center. And it came after he looked terrible with every other swing he took on the night.

Like I said, nothing about that game or my experiences at the ballpark this year have made sense. I mean, Adrian Gonzalez was even playing right field last night.

And that's what makes baseball so great, the unpredictability of it all.

I mean, Worley by far had the best outing of any starter I've witnessed in person this year, going seven innings and surrendering just five hits and the one run while striking out seven. Raul Ibanez, who hasn't exactly had a stellar season, was the star of the game, going 3-for-3 with a double and home run, driving in both runs for the Phils — one on a single in the 2nd that plated Victorino and the game-winning solo home run in the 7th.

And the game was nailed down by Michael Stutes and Antonio Bastardo, as the young duo pitched two perfect innings — Stutes in the 8th, Bastardo in the 9th for the save — to close things out. Just like it was drawn up, I guess.

Other weird things that happened last night:

-The Phillies could not hit a ball to right field to save their lives. With Gonzalez playing right and David Ortiz at first, you'd think the Phillies would do everything in their power to hit the ball to the right side, especially the lefties trying to pull the ball. Yet for the most part, the Phils were grounding out to second and short most of the night, rarely getting anything out to Gonzalez to test him. It was infuriating. But you have to give Lackey credit, the guy was hitting his spots and staying away from the lefties. And that's annoying, because John Lackey sucks.

-The security people at Citizens Bank Park are way too sensitive and aggressive these days. In the section next to us, one guy kept playfully ribbing a Boston fan wearing Jacoby Ellsbury jersey. There was nothing profane, nothing obscene. Mainly the guy just kept yelling, "Hey Ellsbury! You see that one Ellsbury? Nice play Ellsbury!" Nothing crude, honest. Yet the guy got warned by security for some reason. Apparently you can't even playfully mock a fan from an opposing team. That's dumb.

-Also, sitting close to us was a guy wearing a No. 7 Boston Red Sox jersey. Number 7 … J.D. Drew's number. Now listen, I'm not one for violence at sporting events, and this guy didn't get harmed in any way, but if you wear a J.D. Drew jersey in Philadelphia at a Phillies game, it's almost asking to get beat to a pulp. That's provoking just for the sake of provoking. If the guy's a Red Sox fan, you know he has plenty of other Red Sox clothing he could have chosen to wear, but he went with the J.D. Drew jersey in Philadelphia. Fuck him.

-It was odd that Placido Polanco didn't take at least one strike in the 8th after Rollins led off with the single to try and let Jimmy steal, especially Raul and Chase had already stolen bases off Lackey and Jarrod Saltalamacchia rather easier earlier on the night. It was the perfect steal situation, up 1 and looking to get an insurance run. Let Jimmy steal, have Polly hit the ball to the right side like he does so well to get Jimmy to third with one out, and all Chase would need to do is get the ball out of the infield to get that run home. But Placido didn't take a strike, Jimmy didn't go, and Polanco grounded into a double play. And of course Chase came up and just missed homering, hitting a triple off the top of the fence in right that would have easily scored Rollins.

-Seriously, fuck J.D. Drew.

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