Random observations from Game Six

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You saw it, and even if you didn’t, Matthew has told you all of the details (any he missed can be found here). Now’s the time for some random impressions:

An obviously gutsy performance from Andy Pettitte on short rest. He didn’t seem to suffer much for it, which is amazing considering the mileage on that left arm of his.

A just as gutsy performance from Pedro, even in defeat. He certainly knew before anyone — and probably well before the game
started — that he had nothing last night. He’s Pedro, though, and he
did his vain best to figure out a way to work around it. It’s weird: for a
Hall of Famer, I’ve always thought that Pedro’s character as a
pitcher was better defined by his losses than his wins. In the 2003
ALCS, last night, and many other times, I’ve come away strangely more
impressed by him when he leaves a game in defeat, and I’m not sure why
that is. Your theories are welcome.

Matsui. What can you really say? For a guy who often looks like he’s in
pain when he’s hitting, he made it look rather easy last night. He was
as good an MVP choice as anyone else.

Nine years ago is when Jeter, Posada, Rivera and Pettitte last won it
all. I know that beyond them there has been massive roster turnover
since 1996, but I’m struggling to come up with an example of a team
with at least a handful of core players winning World Series outside
the context of a continuing dynasty. This would be like Mickey Mantle
and Whitey Ford hanging around to win one with the 1971 Yankees, or
Chipper, Maddux and Smoltz doing it in 2004. I suppose this is mostly a
function of them being so young when they were winning them back in the
90s, but it is kind of odd to think about it.

Factoid I found on ESPN: “Wednesday’s clincher marked the sixth time
New York has defeated the defending champ in the World Series.” Without looking it up, I’ll say the Phillies last night, the Braves
in 1996, the Braves in 1958, the Dodgers in 1956, Cardinals in 1943,
and, um . . . I’m blanking. First one to figure it out wins a fully paid subscription to Circling The Bases.

I, along with all of you, wait with great anticipation to hear what the “PHILLIES IN __! MARK MY WORDS!” guy writes in the comments today.  Don’t disappoint us, dude.

After an offseason of terrible predictions, I’m rather pleased with myself. I picked the Yankees in six based on the strength of their rotation, but noted that Cliff Lee will get his.  Hey, even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while, right?

151 days until Opening Day.  I wish it would hurry up already.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.