Cliff Lee shuts out the Giants for ten innings, Phillies lose

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Blast living in the eastern time zone. For, because I went to bed at a reasonable hour, I missed an unreasonably good pitching matchup: Cliff Lee vs. Matt Cain, each of whom shut the other side out for nine innings. Those nine innings took only one hour and fifty-minutes, by the way.

The difference: Cliff Lee went on to do it for a tenth inning. And he needed only 102 pitches to do it. In completing the tenth inning, Lee was only the fourth guy to do it in the 21st century. Aaron Harang did it once. Mark Mulder did too. Roy Halladay did it twice, naturally. And now Lee.

But sadly it was not enough as the Giants got two more innings of shutout relief while Antonio Bastardo allowed a single, then had a base runner reach on an error and then surrendered a walkoff single to Melky Cabrera, ending the game.

I suppose one could do a half-empty, half-full thing here.  The half-empty crowd has to ask how both of these offenses struggled so mightily. Even against a couple of aces, one would hope that hitters would see more pitches than they did (each side needed only 114 pitches to get through 11 innings).  One would also have to seriously question Charlie Manuel’s decision to have Freddy Galvis bunt in the tenth inning and then send Jim Thome and John Mayberry to bat when contact was key (there was a runner on third, after all). A strikeout and a flyout ended the threat.

Since I have no vested interest in either team’s offense, however, I’m content to go with the half-full of a a pitching orgy. And, actually, that glass is overflowing, because based on the box score alone this looked awesome. I will spend a good bit of my morning watching the game on replay.

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.