Must-click link: “We are alive and we get to enjoy Jose Reyes playing baseball”

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It’s so easy, when you read and write a lot about baseball as opposed to merely watch it from time to time,  to get caught up in the business of baseball. The trade and free agency dynamics. The artificial or semi-artificial storylines that are created about what happens on and off the field. To think in terms of trend lines, streaks, marketability, clubhouse dynamics, rebuilding plans, contracts, statistics, playoff possibilities and all manner of things future and past that are not the game itself.

What gets discussed so little is the moment.  The moment when the batter makes the split decision to take that extra base. The moment when an outfielder breaks to his left because he ascertained its trajectory before anyone else in the park did. The moment when pitcher and catcher silently agreed that there is no way in hell that the batter can either expect or adjust to this particular pitch in this particular spot.

We see these moments as we watch the game and they give us a thrill. But there’s not much to say about them afterward other than “wow! did you see that?”  And because post-facto description and analysis tends to serve only to diminish the moment — no sports writer, however skilled he is, can write as beautifully as a ballplayer at the height of his powers can perform — those moments tend to recede in the 21 hours a day when the baseball game is not actually occurring.

Yesterday Ted Berg, using Jose Reyes as his example, made a powerful argument in favor of savoring these moments and allowing them to stand on their own without any of the buzz and chatter that surrounds them.  I’ll say no more about it, but I will implore you, if you have a few moments, to read it.

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.