Monday, June 4, 2012

Things You Don't See Every Day, Phillies Edition

Yesterday I attended my first day Phillies game of the 2012 season, expecting a beautiful day at the ballpark. Before I left to meet up with uncle jellyfish and a friend of ours, I checked the weather, which called for a pretty nice day until later, when the rains would be coming in. Looked like we'd be good for the game.

So naturally, the clouds came roaring in along with some decent rain to drench us. It was just that kind of bizarre afternoon — the kind where things happen that you don't see every day.

For starters, when I met my friend outside the third base gate, a giant, inflatable tooth walked right past us. I can't believe I didn't take a picture of it, but apparently it was a Cavity Busters promotion, since that place is advertising the shit out of itself at CBP.

Talk about something you don't see every day.

Then I purchased the biggest can of beer I have ever seen in my life over at Xfinity Live before heading into Citizens Bank Park.

Yeah, one quart of beer in a can. That's how my Sunday got kicked off, a enormous inflatable tooth and a gigantic can of beer. I should have known things were going to get weird.

How weird? Hector Luna batting cleanup weird. Juan Pierre getting a bunt double weird. Yeah, I said bunt double. With no error. Just a legit bunt down the third base line for a double. That really happened. I swear.

Oh, and a pitcher looking like the most dangerous hitter in the entire game weird.

Now, we all know Carlos Zambrano is one of the best hitting pitchers in baseball, but yesterday, he quite literally looked like the best hitter out there period. So awesome, in fact — going 2-for-4 with a mammoth opposite-field home run to go along with a single and two runs scored — that I honestly would rather have Zambrano batting cleanup than anyone else in the lineup for the Phillies yesterday, especially Hector Luna. You know your season is in trouble when the opposing pitcher strikes more fear at the plate than anyone in your own lineup.

Yet that's where we are right now when the Phillies decide to give Carlos Ruiz a day off. The Phils' lineup was this unrecognizable murderer's row (with updated bathing average after yesterday's 5-1 debacle):

Jimmy Rollins (.237)
Juan Pierre (.340)
Hunter Pence (.269)
Hector Luna (.333)
Shane Victorino (.251)
Placido Polanco (.290)
Freddy Galvis (.227)
Brian Schneider (.276)
Joe Blanton (.048)

Take a look at that lineup again. Honestly, does anyone with the exception of Pence really strike any fear in an opposing pitcher? Anyone? Rollins looks washed up at the dish right now. Pierre is a singles hitter (or bunt doubles hitter). Luna is a career minor leaguer. Shane has been horrible this year. Polanco is a stronger, much slower Pierre at this point. Galvis is batting .227. Brian Schneider is Brian Schneider. That is one sorry lineup, which explains why the Phillies scored one measly run with just six hits.

Then you look at the Marlins and you see why this team is currently in a three-way tie for first place in the NL East. Jose Reyes wreaks havoc with his speed at the top. Omar Infante does now what Polanco used to do as a two-hole hitter. Hanley Ramirez is a stud, evident by his home run explosion against the Phillies this weekend.
Giancarlo Stanton can kill baseballs. Hell, former Phil Greg Dobbs had himself two hits yesterday and is batting nearly .300.

Even the struggling Marlins at the bottom of the order got back on track against the increasingly overmatched Joe Blanton, with John Buck, Chris Coghlan and Zambrano, the 7-8-9 hitters, went a combined 5-for-11 with four runs and an RBI yesterday.

It was the kind of bottom-of-lineup production you don't see every day, particularly when the batters occupying those spots all came in batting below the mendoza line.

Then again, there were plenty of things you don't see everyday going on yesterday. It's just one of those type of years, it seems.

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