Saturday, July 21, 2012

Homer happy happenings

The Phillies finally got their lineup back together and it paid off in the 6th inning when Ryan Howard went deep off Matt Cain with both Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino aboard. Too many mistakes by Matty today, the 1-2 pitch to Howard was a big, fat "hit me." Cain gave up a solo shot to Chase Utley, the other piece of the Philadelphia puzzle, to start the scoring in the 1st. With Cole Hamels on the mound it looked like one of those "he blinked first" moments in what everyone thought would be a tight pitchers duel. In the 3rd, however, Matt blasted a solo shot for career homer number six to even the score, and Buster Posey followed a little later with a two-run shot on an 0-2 mistake from Hamels. Not to be outdone, the Phils pitcher hit his own solo shot off Cain to make it 3-2 Giants. The Fox guys said it was the first time since 2002 that both starting pitchers hit homers in the same game, and the first time since 1990 that it was in the same inning. The home run by Hamels was his first ever (in his 420th AB). Buster drove in another run to make it 4-2 and it seemed like Matt and the Giants would kick it into cruise mode and wrap things up. But a hot, humid day in Citizens Bank BandBox means "no mistakes" and Cain got burned for the big bomb when he left one out for Howard to rake. Things were just getting started, however.

Hamels got three easy ones in the 7th, but then it was his turn to blow the lead and he gave up a leadoff blast to Melky Cabrera in the next inning. It seems that Charlie Manuel does not trust his bullpen, at least anyone not named Jonathan Papelbon. He finally had to pull his guy (128 pitches!) with two outs when Joaquin Arias blooped a hit, the tenth for San Francisco. Antonio Bastardo blew away poor Brandon Belt, who was hitless on the day. Matty was more economical than his opponent, and he entered the 8th having thrown only 88 pitches and he made quick work of the top of the order, the ones that had vexed him in the 6th, ending with a flourish by whiffing Utley. Both starters are among the very best in the game, and both allowed five runs and three homers apiece, Cain in eight full (Brandon Crawford pinch-hit in the top of the 9th) and Hamels one out short of that. You had the figure the Giants had the edge when it went to the 10th, as the team has done well this season in both one-run games and extra-inning games. Papelbon gave up the go-ahead run after a walk to Melky (his second base on balls), the fourth hit of the day by Posey, and a bit of speed and small ball. Big effort in the 9th from a shaky-scary Santiago Casilla to nail down a tough, hard-fought win.

It was unrelated, but in the top of the 6th Angel Pagan was frozen for a called strike three. He unfortunately decided to argue the point with home plate umpire Mike Everitt. He was ejected within about ten seconds, obviously dropping one of the fatal words, and looked like a complete fool doing it. It was a perfect pitch, and even if it were not, it was certainly close enough that a called strike was defensible. Not only that, the ump decides ball and strikes, not the batter, and Pagan knows that. C'mon Angel, that was tacky. Take your strikeouts like a man. No goddamn whining! Gregor Blanco, his replacement, blew a squeeze play in the 8th to help out Hamels and ruin an excellent chance to score the go-ahead run. Ol' Boch doesn't use that play much, and I was surprised he tried it again. Thankfully Blanco made the most of his second chance.



p.s Giants are 20-9 vs. lefties.


Brother Bob said...

Cain has set the bar so high for himself that this game seems ho-hum r/t his performance. When in fact he was friggin awesome. Eight full innings on the road against a top-notch opponent, and he smacks a homer!
So what if everyone was hitting them out yesterday. I had to LOL when Hamels answered Cain's HR right away with his own.
Posey is approaching Holy Shit! status, he's been so hot. His average rose to .314 yesterday.

Zo said...

Umpires are very quick to act on a ball-and-strike argument when the game is on national tv.

nomisnala said...

I will say this: Pagan during the last week received a bunch of bad calls at home plate for balls and strikes. Looked like they had it out for him, ala Ray Durham, so he was frustrated. Perhaps the pitch he decided to argue was not the best one to argue about, but in the wisdom of the baseball gods, that moved helped the giants in that his replacement was key to the victory, after Blanco was almost key in causing the loss. Strange how things turn around really fast. Now its time for Belt's season to turn around.