It was a long, warm night.
It was one where quality came with quantity – twelve innings of it.
But it didn’t start out that way. After the first inning, it seemed like it was happening all over again.
“We’ve fallen and we can’t get up!”
The top of our lineup forgot how to hit and Blanton threw more than 26 pitches to get out of the inning.
Then in the second, it became apparent that the top of the lineup really started at the end of the alphabet: Raul IbaneZ, along with Pedro FeliZ and Carlos RuiZ, made offense look E-Z. They each singled like a pack of copycats, with Pedro reaching base in his last eight appearances and Carlos doing it in his last nine. I don’t know the stat on Raul; we’re just used to him doing everything with a capital “Effort” and “Hustle”.
Then Pedro Feliz made Davey Lopes proud with his gutsy base running as did Raul Ibanez, Jimmy Rollins, and Jayson Werth. Hey, he’s the base coach who whined that they weren’t aggressive around the diamond so let me pose a warning to you, Davey: be careful what you wish, for you shall get it.
And he did.
My motto is, “You can’t get around the bases by standing still.” I imagine that’s something Davey’s known since he was a teenage boy entertaining “company” in the back of his daddy’s Buick. As a former leadoff hitter and stolen base record holder, it’s obvious he started rounding the bases at an early age. And his experience works for the Phils.
Hit-by-pitches came in pairs; two for you, two for us, with Chase taking both of ours. It helped him make it to base four times without a hit. Now he has the 91st HBP of his career (setting a franchise record) and eight on the year. We’re going to start ending his name with those initials: Chase Utley HBP. We’ll give him an honorary doctorate for sacrificed flesh and his epitaph will go something like this:
Here lies Chase Utley
He wasn’t keen on leaning.
He took a bunch for the home team
If you get my meaning.
Ryan Howard stepped to the plate in the 7th, 0 for 5, and hit a three run dinger. It was an inside pitch and they said when you pull your arms in like Ryan did you’re not supposed to able to hit a ball more than 400 feet. Tell that to a bumble bee.
The saga continued for twelve glorious innings but it seems I’m the only one with the attention span for long games. Since the Nationals don’t draw much of a crowd, the camera showed those in attendance so many times I now know each spectator personally, and near the tenth, my husband and son started comparing the sounds they could make with their own flesh. Trust me, a Phil’s loss is prettier.
By my count Feliz and Ruiz (now dubbed the “E-Z’s”) made it on base ten times. Raul, the Zen Master of Consistency, went 4 for 6, Jimmy earned his 3rd stolen base, and Shane even got a few good hits in and caught the last out - again.
The sad thing was Tom McCarthy could finally talk poorly about the quality of the Nats bullpen because they’re the only other team with one worse than ours. But not last night: Durbin wasn’t disturbin’, Condry took on his two batters and won, Madson faced four and retired four, Lidge gave up only one run (but did so in his 6th consecutive inning), and JA Happ looked sharp as a time traveler, taking his win for tomorrow’s double header today.
And in case you fell asleep, Carlos “Bargain Basement” Ruiz silently improved his batting average to .308 while Jayson Werth increased his by 100 points since April, even though he only made it to base on balls last night. Still, he’ll definitely be wrapped around me when I pick up my blanket on July 24th.
And I hope it’s a long, cold night.